The heroine, Norelia, is conversing with her (distant) cousin Valia about the circus the Summer Games have become since announcing her wager with her father, the Emperor, that she will wed the winner if she loses, but can remain unwed if she wins as long as she agrees to at least birth an heir.
"It's a damned pile of horse shit," she muttered.
"Oh, Noria." Her cousin sighed behind her. "Let them have their fun. The Games come but once a year, and it's a holiday for everyone. You know the capitol is awake for nigh a week during."
Norelia gripped the wide windowsill until her knuckles were white. "That's during the festival, you oblivious ass," she growled. "And that is ten days away! This--" she gestured to the streamers, garlands, and throngs of people choking the streets below, "--is his fault."
Of course, by "him," she meant her father, who sent an Imperial decree announcing their wager as a contest. Men who had never set foot in the capitol before were now flooding its gates. They had erected tents outside the city walls to house them all, and it seemed the great city of Lomyr had very nearly doubled in size.
"As if I were some godsdamned prize."
Valia laughed. "But you are! You are the prize, Noria." Valia made a delicate vexed sound in response to Norelia's glare, and fluttered into a chaise across the room. "You're a legend in the empire, darling, and the people love you. You stand undefeated. You never married, and it's rumored you have never taken a lover--"
"Because I haven't," she shot, recoiling at the very thought.
"And now they have a chance to touch that. Let them have their dreams of glory, Cousin. You will defeat the greatest of them. You always do." She laughed again, as if at some private joke. "And even if by the grace of the gods you do not, is it really so bad?" She got a disgusting twinkle in her eye. "Marriage has so many perks, after all."
Norelia felt naked in the silks she'd been stuffed into, at her father's orders. "I have only to think of my soldiers and the camp followers, rutting in the dirt at night, whores hopping from man to man with sticky thighs and fistfuls of copper coins." She had to suppress a shudder. "It's disgusting, and messy. And the noises...!"
Valia giggled and clapped her hands. "That's the best part! Oh, the noises..." She somehow managed to invest the word with a quality that made it seem as if she found it delicious. It was the way Norelia would speak of a steak dinner after a good fight.
She shook her head. "Nothing's better than a hot bath and a good, fresh steak after sticking my enemy general's head on a pike."
Valia just wnked at her. "Well, it's not steak, but it's still a fine cut of meat."
Norelia grimaced. "You're revolting."