Athena Lee

Athena Lee
Brand new Books

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Check out the Book of the Week

Not all halflings dream of magic...

But Epik isn’t like the rest. Adventure. Excitement. He craves those things. He would rather learn magic, not follow a wizard on some fool's adventure.... Or so he thinks.

The problem: magic is outlawed. After setting out for the city, what Epik finds in Dune All-En isn’t at all what he’d hoped. No magic. And few wizards.

Luck, or something more sinister, is on the halfling's side. He meets Gabby, a wizard who is kind enough to rent him a room, or rather, a closet, at his now-defunct magical supply store. And as a group of mountain trolls threatens the city, Epik sees the opportunity to do something, well, epic.

If only the halfling inside him would stop peeking out.

Featuring halflings, dwarves, elves, and a ranger or two, Hero in a Halfling is perfect for fans of both Discworld and Middle-earth. Join Epik as he goes from halfling to hero, who just also happens to (still) be a halfling.


Find it here on Amazon!

- I met this author today in a pizza parlor of all places. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Athena Lee Chronicles is now available on Kobo

That's right. The Athena Lee Chronicles are no longer exclusive to Amazon and can  be found on Kobo.com


For the moment, only books 1-3 and 5-10 are available on the new service. Book 4 will be available the day after Christmas. The short stories collections and Box sets will follow just as soon as I get them back from the formatter. They are making new "pretty" editions. I intend for the series to be available through Draft  2 Digital and Smashwords eventually. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Special Deal for those in the United Kingdom and Ireland



Read the Book that started it all!   

Now you can get Book one of the Federal Witch series for £0.99 until Christmas. 

How do you cope with magic that goes its own way?

As a second year FBI academy witch, Agatha Blackmore has a certain reputation. After nearly blowing up the school, an untended mid-air incident involving the FBI Director, and declaring war with the US Marines, she has to wonder if she will even see graduation. 

But when a rash of mysterious disappearances catches the attention of local authorities Agatha finds herself asked to lend a hand to the investigation. Determined to offer protection where it is needed the most, Agatha and her quirky roommate Cat along with her mini- unicorn familiar Fergus, attempt to unravel the mysteries of the four distinctly magical disappearances before time runs out. 

Does Agatha have what it takes to be an agent? Or will everyone that crosses her end up eating chicken feed for the rest of their lives?

Conjuring Quantico is the first book in a brand new Urban Fantasy by T. S. Paul. 
As a direct sequel to Born a Witch... Drafted by the FBI, T. S. Paul returns with the first book of the Federal Witch Series! 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Taki Drake has a new book out. Fleet of the Mage is now available.


When your world changes around you, do you fight it or adapt?

Almost everything has changed in Ruth's world. Ripped from the loving arms around her and carried into space, she has survived slavery and a transformation that would have broken many others. Faced with insurmountable challenges, she has countered darkness with light and despair with love.

Will this be enough to earn her some peace? Or will it be her spirit and heart that are broken?


Get it here!

and if you haven't read book 1? Get it here

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Something Old is New Again. Check out Dead in Space



It was supposed to be a simple rescue mission... what really happened was something else entirely. 

A strange new alien life form has surfaced on an out of the way colony planet. The deep space research vessel Thanatos Rising has been sent to ascertain what it is and where it came from. They are too late. An infection has spread across the planet killing and changing everyone in its path. Is it related to the Alien or is it something else altogether?


Previously part of The Expanded Universe Book 2 (now unpublished) 


Get it here on Amazon.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Snippet time! Let's take a look at something from Blood on the Moon

<Unedited>


 “Mr. Maxwell, Bill, we have discussed this numerous times. Healing takes time. You had a very serious leg fracture caused by that bullet. If not for the ORIF surgery performed by the attending hospital, you might never have used it properly again. The way they fused the bones together… Let’s just say the cast on your leg needs to stay on. You are free to move about the facility carefully, but please tell your nurse. If we have to send out a search party like last time, I will have you strapped down and fed intravenously. Do we have an understanding?”

Bill made a grumbling noise that sounded a bit like “yes,” possibly “yes, sir.”

“I will take that as an agreement from you. Have your nurse call me if you have any different questions or at least ones that refer to your treatment,” the doctor turned and walked out of the room.

“Stupid,” Bill muttered to the empty room. “You take one little walk outside and everyone loses their damn minds.”

“Only when that walk is up on the roof and through a door that is supposed to be locked,” a strange voice replied.

Bill looked up to see a tall brunette nurse watching him from the doorway. “I wanted to get a little fresh air that’s all,” Bill grunted.

The woman was leaning on the frame. She cocked her head to one side and smiled. Raising her hand she pointed toward the windows. “I do believe that is what that window and the park trail outside is for. Walking the trail out there might do you some good stretching out your legs. It would sure make my job a little easier.”

Bill frowned at the stranger. “Your job? What would your job be exactly then?” 

“Physical therapy. Yours to be specific. Someone up there thinks you’re sort of special and told me to come work with you a bit. They tell me that we need more special people just like you out  in the world.” The woman pointed her finger toward the ceiling.

Snorting, Bill shook his head at the physical therapist. “My bosses have two opinions of me. The first one is that I’m out of date and should be put out to pasture.” 

The dark-haired woman pushed off the door frame and stepped inside the room. Her gaze taking in every detail of the place in a single glance like someone in law enforcement might do. Catching Bill’s eyes as he studied her, she smiled. “You aren’t all that old. I would think your bosses, whoever they are, would appreciate experience over youth.”

“You would think that. But the FBI doesn’t share your opinion. They are like a kid with a shiny new toy. All whizz bang and no work. A buddy of mine tells me it takes three agents to do what one could do when I first started working for the bureau.”

“I thought computers and all that new technology was supposed to speed things up. It’s not all paper and pencil anymore, is it?” The woman in nurse’s clothing asked Bill as she crossed the room and settled into the lone chair. 

Bill tracked her movement like a cat watching a squirrel. His eyes narrowed as she sat down. None of his other nurses even tried to talk to him like this. “It’s not that way at all. To be truthful, I love the features of my new phone. It makes much of my investigative work far easier. But everything still takes time. Many of our records are old and only now being inputted into the system. My current boss bitches about all the paperwork constantly.”

“It sounds to me like he needs to take a breather. Is this the same boss that is trying to put you out to stud?” The nurse grinned at Bill and made her eyebrows jump.

Bill laughed. “She. My boss is a woman. My wife might object to that just a bit. I can see her chasing any filly that tried, across the field with a very heavy frying pan in her hand. She’s a terror in the kitchen.” 

“It sounds like both of them keep you in line pretty well,” the nurse replied.

“My wife does keep a pretty good eye on me. Agatha, my boss, has other ways of keeping track of me. Who are you exactly?” Bill looked pointedly at the nurse.

“I told you I was your new physical therapist. It’s my job to get you back in shape.” 

Bill frowned at the physical therapist. “Name?” 

“I’m not one of your cases, Agent Bill Maxwell. My name is Genevieve Vogel. As I told you before. I’m here to help.” She smiled at his puzzled expression.

“You are the first person here to take the time to talk to me like this. It makes a man a bit suspicious ... that’s all. What do I call you?” Bill patted his hospital gown as if looking for something.

“You are ever the investigator, aren’t you? Call me Gen if you like or nurse Vogel when your wife is around. I don’t want you to get into any trouble.” Gen pulled a notepad and pen out of her tunic and handed it to him.

Taking the pen and paper from her, Bill asked, “what’s this for?”

“It’s what you’re searching for isn’t it?” Gen replied with a smile on her face.

Once again Bill laughed. “It’ll do. I was searching for my phone. My wife has it. She didn’t want me working. My team is gearing up for a new case. She knows me way too well.”

“As I said before, she sounds like a smart lady. What’s the other opinion that is causing you such grief?” Gen asked Bill, trying to understand him.

Bill shook his head and smiled. “You, young lady, would make a good investigator. I like how you got me to tell you both personal details and background on my career. The bosses upstairs in the bureau want me gone because they think I’m too old school for them. They tried to make me quit by sticking me with a bunch of kids as part of a new program.” 

Gen nodded and commented, “Interesting.” 

“It was actually. Interesting, that is. My new boss is a Witch. The first one ever employed by the bureau. Her opinion of me is the exact opposite of the big bosses. She loves having me around. With just a bit more work I think she will make a first class director of the FBI if nothing kills her first.” Bill mused as he answered Gen’s comment.

 Gen looked at Bill with wide eyes. “Killed? Why would she be killed? Is your job that dangerous? I thought the FBI dealt with mobsters and kidnapping?”

“We still do all that stuff, and more. The group I work for is the Magical Division of the FBI. Our team takes on the things that go bump in the night. I’ve seen things that would curl your hair. We have a couple of shifters, a Vampire, and the Witch on our team. They’re a good bunch of kids and I’m proud to be a part of them.” Bill leaned back on his bed.

Gen looked at Bill with the smallest gleam in her eye. “You might be surprised by the things I’ve seen. Very little scares me anymore.”

Bill held up his hands as if to protest. Misunderstanding, he replied to her statement. “Hospitals are dangerous places. I’ll agree with you on that one.”

Gen looked skyward for a moment and nodded her head. She then looked straight at Bill. “I do believe we are going to get along just fine, Agent Bill Maxwell. Get some rest because tomorrow you are going to hate me.”

Bill shook his head. “I don’t hate anyone on the first day. Not usually.”

“Oh you will. I predict it. Rest now. Tomorrow we’ll work up a sweat and get you on the road to recovery. It’s the only way they are going to let you out of here, after all.” Gen stood up and looked around the room again. 

“Sure. Sweat. I’ll see you in the morning Nurse Vogel.” Bill closed his eyes as the drugs the doctors gave him earlier started to kick in.

Gen watched him fall asleep. Closing her eyes, she said a silent prayer for the soul of a good and honest man. Shaking her head, she stepped out of the room carefully closing the door behind her. 

The halls were dimly lit as the night shift took over. This was the recovery ward and most of the patients here weren’t at risk of dying anytime soon. Only a couple of nurses sat the kiosk as Gen passed. Neither of them even noticed her passing. 

Gen took the stairs rather than the elevator, it was the only way to get to the roof. Bill had managed to disable the lock the day before, but maintenance fixed it adding a louder and more high tech alarm. Gen heard none of that as she opened it. Most mortal and technological things often didn’t work or register around her kind.

The roof was empty when she stepped out onto it. A ladder sat near the door along with what looked like a toolbox. Looking up Gen could see several mounts for what she assumed must be cameras. Gen mused. “you really threw them for a loop Bill. Too bad I missed that circus. It must have been a sight to see all the worker bees here running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Wouldn’t look good to have a highly decorated FBI agent completely disappear from your hospital without a trace. Not good for getting funding.” 

Walking over toward the edge of the roof Gen looked out toward the parking lots and the city beyond. Austin, Texas was a fun town if you could handle all the walking and pedicabs. Not a place for the faint of heart when driving that’s for sure. People in cars were crazy. Too bad she couldn’t take in the sights. She’s seen a few good looking bars and restaurants downtown. Not this trip. No rest for the wicked and all that. 

“Why am I here? This guy is healthy as a horse. Can’t you see he’s champing at the bit to get out of this hospital? He didn’t jump off the roof yesterday like you said he was going to. Just from listening to him talk he isn’t going anywhere except back to work. And he’s on the side of the light to top it off. We don’t kill the good guys, Herman.” Gen spoke as she looked up into the sky.

The roof and the sky was completely silent. All the sky offered was a slight twinkling of stars. Gen looked down at her feet and shook her head back and forth. “Stupid damn rules.”

Holding out her hand she said a single word. Suddenly there was a flash of light and a sword appeared in Gen’s hand. Looking at it in the moonlight she smiled to herself. “Hello my pretty little friend. Just a phone call tonight, no smiting or battle.”

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Status Update and what's in store for 2018

Status Update: I'm hard at work on Blood on the Moon, book 7 of the Federal Witch series. ETA on it is January. No gigantic gap this time. After it will be the Demon war mini-series which sets up book 8.

 Other books that are coming soon is Coven Codex from Taki Drake and also the first Badger Hole bar book which contains the missing Agatha meets Zhanna story. Taki wrote it not me.

 Bradford Bates and I released the prequel for the upcoming Wild Hunt book. I will have snippets soon for it. Look for book 1 in January as well. 2018 is going to be a huge year for Federal Witch. 

Lots of series coming and new things as well. I've picked up another Co-writer named Freddie Kim. He's going to help me finish the Athena Lee series and start up a second series inside that universe. https://www.amazon.com/Freddie-Kim/e/B072TYTL8W 

Lots of fun will be had all around. Here's a sneak peak at the new book cover for Blood on the Moon.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Brand New Cookbook and a continuation of the Marcella story all wrapped up together.

Harvest time in the Garden - and the bounty of the year is never more apparent! 

Join the celebration of the year with these recipes and stories based on T S Paul's Federal Witch series for entertaining tales and delicious food. Ranging from simple to spectacular, these recipes will encourage you to experiment with vegan and vegetarian recipes that are sure to please your palate!

Eat, Read, and Enjoy!


Another New Book! Read the Prequel to the upcoming Wild Hunt series today.


What would you do if you lost it all?

Rebecca was your not so normal everyday college kid. School was almost over, and that meant she would start training to take over her mother’s coven. That didn’t mean she wanted to, but she had years of brutal training to endure before she would be shackled by that responsibility. Hopefully, years where she wasn’t forced to live at home like she was now. That no boys in the house rule was the worst.

No boys seemed liked the worst that could happen, but that was before her family was attacked. Now Rebecca would give anything to be part of her family’s drama again, but that wasn’t possible, not with Ash on her tail. Staying two steps in front of Ash’s torturous pursuit had become her life’s only goal. Each day was a chance to bury the past. Nothing else mattered except keeping her mother’s grimoire safe.

Finding sleepy little Salem, Oregon might just be the key to her salvation. Although, Salem was harboring a few secrets of its own, and one of those secrets hated when witches stepped foot inside her city unannounced. What happens when Salem’s dirty little secret and the new witch in town collide?



Thursday, December 7, 2017

New Christmas Book is Now Available.



Flying Reindeer?! Who thought that one up?

Reindeer didn't fly until they met the Blackmore family. That is what Agatha has always said when asked about Santa Claus. But what is the real story? 

It is not only the Blackmore family that has Christmas tales. While Agatha tells stories of long ago, a Familiar from the Russian Witch series performs a beloved annual ritual, and a elven encounter with a Yuletide wolf goes into interesting directions. These stories by the three authors that write in TS Paul's Federal Witch Universe touch on the special interactions that we experience that occurs around this time of year.

A Joyous Season to You All!


Get it here!

Let's have another Snippet! This is from Book 7 - Blood on the Moon. That would be the next Federal Witch book

<UNEDITED>



It was raining in Jackson, Tennessee when L J Austin rode into town. Rain streamed off his long, stringy hair mixing with the mud and other grime coating his leathers. His motorcycle was a strange mixture of many brands and styles. It made an unusual put-put-put noise as he pulled in under the gas station canopy.

L J sat on his bike for a couple moments staring out at the rain. The ride took way longer than he expected it to. Reaching out with his leather clad hand he pulled several sheets of window cleaning paper out of the dispenser. Wincing, he wiped his face off. Without all the dirt and road dust the scars could be plainly seen under his hair.
“You need gas, mister?”

L J looked over his shoulder to see a short red-haired teenager in a gas station uniform approaching him. “No. Is there someplace I can get a drink around here?”

The kid stopped and stared at the mud covered stranger. “Sure. We’ve got beer and stuff inside, but about the only place that’s open this time of night is the Moon.” He pointed back toward Interstate Forty.

“What the hell’s the Moon?” L J asked.

“You didn’t see the signs coming in? It’s the biggest and best barbeque this side of Memphis. Blood Moon BBQ is the name, but we all just call it the Moon around here. It’s on the other side of the highway next to the RV park,” the red-head answered.

L J pulled off his wet, slimy leather gloves and pushed his hair out of his face. A large one percent symbol stood out on his hand along with a stylized wolf paw tattoo.  He ignored the kid’s intake of breath when his scars became visible. “Thanks.”

He watched the kid beat a hasty retreat back into the gas station office. He chuckled to himself. Not everyday someone sees a monster out on the road. The rain was letting up a bit, so he pulled his gloves back on and gave his bike a crank. The put-put noise was familiar and soothing to him after so many years of riding solo. Time to see what this town had to give.

Finding the Moon was easy once he knew about it. The signs were everywhere. The one thing that stuck out in his mind was the wolf and moon logo. It reminded him of his past. Whether that was a good thing was questionable.

Blood Moon looked like the perfect place for an outlaw biker like L J to hang out it. It was almost too good to be true.

L J parked his bike under the lone oak tree in the parking lot. A few scattered trucks and cars surrounded him at the edge of the lot. Looking to his left he could see the tops of RVs sticking up over the fenced-off lot.

The magnetic feel of a Magickal ward hit him as soon as he approached the front door. Looking from side-to-side L J could see the slight color shimmer he associated with wards. He nodded. This confirmed what he picked up in that bar in Arkansas. Biker gangs were hit or miss. Especially with independents like he was. He almost didn’t make it out of the bar that time.

Monday, December 4, 2017

How about a Snippet? This time something for the holidays

<Unedited>



As usual, I was fast asleep when the shouting started. Listening for a moment I could only hear Chuck’s voice, but it was getting louder and louder. I heard Bill say something, but he was drowned out quickly. Shaking my head, I rolled out of bed. Fortunately, I had left my pants hanging off the chair next to the bed or I would have been banging around looking still.

“... and I say he’s a myth! There is no way to travel that much in one night! It’s impossible,” Chuck yelled.

“Just about every country has someone like him in it. He could be telling the truth, you know,” Bill tried to point out.

“See! I told you.” Fergus’s voice chimed in from the table top.

“That doesn’t mean a thing and you know it. Besides, what do you know about animals other than yourself?” Chuck asked.

“I know things. We animals talk to each other after all,” Fergus replied.

“There’s no way…” Chuck didn’t get to finish because I’d had enough.

“Hold that thought and stop! What the flaming hell is going on out here? You idiots do know that I’m sleeping here, right? We all have work in the morning,” I yelled.

“But he said...” Chuck started to say.

“No buts. Explain yourselves. Now.” I replied in a loud voice.

All three of them answered at once. “He said…”

I muttered a word of power and everything stopped. Bill, Chuck, and Cat were frozen in place. Fergus hopped up and down and started making nyah nyah noises at them.

“Chill out Fergus or I’ll put your barn on the roof of the bus again.” I told him.

Fergus stuttered to a stop and just stared at me in shock.

I chuckled to myself. A couple of weeks ago he ate a bunch of Mexican food and had enough gas to run the bus. I Magickally secured his barn to the roof and left him up there for a couple of hours.

Dragging one of the office chairs over I plopped down in front of my arguing team members. One word later they were back with us.

“Now. What is this about?” I asked.

Once again they all started to answer at once. I raised my finger in the air. “Stop or I’ll freeze you again. One at a time.”

Bill cleared his throat and glanced from side to side at Cat and Chuck. Both nodded at him. “Fergus started it actually.”

Fergus hopped up and started to say something.

“Stifle it.” I told him.

I looked at Bill expectantly.

“As I said. He started it by saying Santa Claus and flying reindeer were real. That he’d met him. Chuck started saying he was lying and the conversation devolved from there. Cat and I barely got a word in edgewise.” Bill stated.

I cocked my head to one side and laughed. “Is that all? Chuck, why did you argue with Fergus?”

Chuck looked at me in shock. “He has to be lying. How would he know if Santa Claus is real or not?”

Pursing my lips I looked at the forensic specialist and smiled. “What if he really is real? What would say then?”

“There’s no way reindeer can fly. Fergus has to be lying.” Chuck replied.

“You work everyday with a Witch who owns a small talking Unicorn, A sexy professional woman who turns into a gigantic sabertooth tiger, and a daywalking Vampire. And let’s not forget Bill over there. He’s like the oldest working FBI Agent in the country. How can you not believe in flying reindeer?” I asked.

Bill made a grunting noise. When I looked in his direction, he was surreptitiously giving me the finger under the guise of scratching his nose.

Cat spoke and nudged Bill.  “Because we’re real and they aren’t?"

The new book is now #1 Thanks to all my readers and fans!


 Thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

What's Next for Agatha?



Now that Anastasia has been exposed what's up next for Agatha and her team? First we have to meet Santa Claus in Reindeer Don't Fly. The Upcoming Federal Witch Universe Christmas book. Then Agatha and her team return to a little town that serves the best BBQ in the State to go on a hunt. What they are hunting and where this is will have to wait for Blood on the Moon.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Lots of new releases this week. My book of the week.


Now I have become Death, and my shadow shall consume worlds. 

Samantha continues her journey with the Shadow Corps, an elite group of the universe's most deadly warriors. They must stop the other two ancient guardians turned evil, the space dragons, in order to find out who is really behind this upsurge in the enemy's power. 

Once again she must come out swinging, to bring destruction to evil that lurks in the darkest corners of the universe. 

Check out Justin Sloan's New book in his Shadow Corps Series today! 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Invisible Elder, Book 6 of the Federal Witch series is now available



Hidden for centuries, determined to live the life of her chosing.

Anastasia is old. Very old. She is much older than either Agatha or the FBI believe she is. The World Council demanded that she present herself for interrogation and she refused. Now she's running for her life. Agatha Blackmore and the entire Magical Division have been tasked with hunting her down and bringing her in. But that presents a problem of it's own. Where does a Vampire run to when half the world is searching for her?

Would her friends be the ones that would have to bring her in, dead or alive? Or could the long-ago promise of a different life be realized?



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Try some Darkness with your Holiday.



Gratitude and appreciation find expression in the giving of thanks. It can be associated with a specific day or just part of our lives. The stories in this anthology have been contributed by the Phoenix Prime authors to illustrate how that expression, and the expectations that come with it, are different depending on whether you are the giver or the receiver of those thanks.

Do you like a little horror mixed in with your Holiday? Try my story in here. 

Get it on Amazon!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

New Book. Unicorns are Short





Snarky, indestructible, immune to magick.

And SHORT!!

Fergus the Unicorn is a mainstay of the Federal Witch World of TS Paul, and companion to Agatha Blackmore, the FBI witch. His story is revealed piece by tantalizing piece in the main books but also hidden in the many short stories that this talented author places in anthologies and cookbooks. 

Pulled from those sources, Fergus' tale is highlighted in this collection of those short stories. 

All that we can say is, "Could we have some more?!"

Get this one HERE on Amazon.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Snippet Time! Here is snippet #06 From Invisible Elder

<Unedited>




“You can come willingly, or we will drag you.” The taller of the two stared down at me. A malicious smile on his face.

“I can walk.” I replied.

“Can you? Will you?”

The shorter man appeared behind me as I stood. He kicked me just as I started to stand. A sharp pain in my right knee caused me to stumble and fall. He kicked me again. This time in my side, making me grab my ribs and roll over into a ball. The punishing blows continued. Both men pummelled and kicked me until I could barely breathe.

“How about now? Can you walk now?” Both me circled me as I clutched myself tighter and tighter.

One grabbed me by my hair and gave a sharp pull. I screamed as my body was twisted and choked as dust from the ground was sucked into my mouth.

“”Get up! Stand now or we will drag you up those stairs.” The leader’s voice was harsh and cruel sounding.

I brought my knee up under me. Carefully I pulled myself up on one knee only to be pushed over by the other man.

“Get up!” Both men yelled at me now.

Closing my eyes I said a prayer to the Gods of my father. I would not be weak. Remembering my promise to father, I tried to not be the rabbit. My ribs chose that moment to remind me of their pain. I groaned as I raised one knee and then another. Staggering I stood up. Both arms clutched around me as injuries to my ribs and belly made me cry out in pain.

“It can stand. Excellent. What sport.” The shorter man smiled and licked his lips.

“Come along.” The taller leader pushed me forward toward the stairs.

Stumbling I fell across the first couple of flights. My hands caught my weight as i tried to brace myself. I could feel the smoothness of the rock. Smoothness brought on by the tread of thousands of feet.

“Get up. Or we will drag you up!” Hands grabbed me from behind pushing my body forward.

I pulled myself up and stumbled forward again. Bracing myself, I balanced when the push came again. This dance was repeated numerous times. Each impact with the stairs ripping and shredding the palms and fingers on my hands.

By the time we reached the final steps, I was crawling on the ground like an animal. All the while, the two men laughed. Kicking me with their feet they nudged me into the dark portal.

Blackness. Unlike outside there wasn’t any light at all. As my eyes adjusted to the dark I could see the faint outline of the entrance behind me but both men were standing in the middle of it.

“What have you brought us?” The words were just a whisper, but they echoed inside my mind.

The men behind me spoke. “A new slave, Majesty. Payment for services rendered.”

“We don’t normally deal in slaves. Explain yourself.” These words were out loud and close.

Both men hit the floor and were on their knees. “Master Alukah, she is payment from the Roman Demetrius. He said you knew and gave approval!”

“Never assume anything. Is he here to make payment?” The voice came from beside me. I craned my head looking around, but didn’t see anyone.

“No. We… We let him go.”

“Interesting. And yet you bring this to me. Who is the girl?” Master Alukah’s voice once again echoed inside my head.

I tried to answer. “My name is ....” Suddenly I was unable to speak a single word. All that came out was grunts.

“Answer my question. Who is the girl?”

One of the men completely prostrated himself before the mysterious Alukah. “We weren’t told, Majesty. Demetrius just told us she was payment for his debt and that the deal was already made. We didn’t know. We didn’t know!”

“You didn’t know and you didn’t care did you. The rules are there for a reason.”

“We didn’t know!”

Hearing one of the men wail set my teeth on edge. Having one of them hurt pleased me after they beating they gave me, but I worried for myself and my fate.

“Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.”

There was a murmuring not unlike some of the sounds from the hippodrome that father took me to. It was the sounds that people in large numbers made. How many others were here in the darkness with us?

“What is the verdict of the court?” The voice was but a whisper in my mind. I opened my mouth to speak and still nothing came out.

“Death.” The word seemed to not just echo, but reverberate through the very air. Death was all around me. It was inside of me and part of me.

I could feel tendrils like wisps of hair drift over my body. Both men started screaming and writhing on the ground behind me. As I turned I could see another shadow in the doorway. This one snakelike and covered in long hair. The men convulsed on the ground and then lay still. The snake swayed back and forth catching the eye as it moved over the men's bodies on the ground. Its head slipped forward and loud crunching sounds could be heard. They were sickly and moist as the creature began to eat the men in the doorway.

No stranger to death, still I felt sick to my stomach and turned away. Suddenly there were fingers on my head. They held my face level. Looking forward I saw nothingness until a man’s face slowly, ever so slowly came into view.

“What shall we do with you now?” The face spoke as it gazed into my eyes.

Concentrating I tried to speak. Almost willing my vocal cords to say a single word. “Who.”

The face smiled at me. “Interesting.”

I could hear the word inside my head. This person was the source of the whispers.

“What is your name?” The voice asked.

Suddenly my voice worked again. “Aeliana. Daughter of Apollodorus of Damascus. Architect of the Emperor.”

“So daughter of the architect. What brings you to our domain?” The voice asked.

Stuttering I answered, “My tutor Demetrius sold me to you.”