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Chapter One

 

  June 19, 9548 BC

  "You missed, moron. My son still lives, and one day, we are going to bathe in your blood. "

  Dressed in Greek cavalry armor to hide his identity, Archon, the king of the Atlantean gods, froze in the middle of the dark hallway as he heard the taunting voice of his angry wife in his head. A sick feeling of dread clenched his stomach tight. "What say you?"

  "Well," Apollymi projected mentally to him, drawing the word out. "Lord High King God Intelligent, ye who knows all, I am still imprisoned in Kalosis and that baby you hold in your arms is quite dead. What does that tell you?"

  That he'd slaughtered the wrong infant.

  Damn it! He'd been certain this was the right child. . . .

  Wincing in utter agony over what he'd done, Archon heard the screams of the Atlantean queen from where he'd left her in her bedroom as she cursed them all for the death of her newborn son. It was an unforgivable act, but Apollymi had given him no choice. She had refused to hand over her son and had hidden the infant here in the mortal world so that Apostolos would live in spite of Archon's order that the boy be killed.

  If her infant son grew to manhood, all of them would die. The Atlantean pantheon and their people. But Apollymi didn't care. So long as Apostolos lived, the rest of them could burn.

  Heartbroken over the innocent life he'd mistakenly taken, Archon handed the baby's body to a guard on his right so that it could be returned to its grieving mother.

  "Where is your son, Apollymi?" he demanded in his head.

  She laughed at his anger. "Where you will never find him. Go on, slaughter every pregnant queen and her brat in the mortal realm. I dare you!"

  Archon glanced at the three gods with him, who were also disguised as he was-in cavalry armor. The Atlantean queen believed them to be vengeful Greeks sent to assassinate her child. Since they were the gods she and her people worshiped, they couldn't afford for her to hate them. Not when the worship of the Atlantean people fed their powers.

  And if they searched through the mortal realm where other gods ruled to find Apollymi's son, they would have to do so very carefully. Especially if the mission was to slaughter princes. The humans would call out their own gods, who would then demand retribution for their followers, and it would be a divine bloodbath between feuding pantheons.

  Been there. Done that.

  And it hadn't been the least bit enjoyable.

  No doubt that was what Apollymi craved as much, if not more, than the return of her child. Born of the darkest powers in the universe, the first goddess of destruction lived only for such warfare. It was the very air she breathed.

  Disgusted and furious over his mistake, Archon flashed himself from the human world to the main temple hall on Katateros, where the Atlantean gods ruled their people. The three gods who'd gone with him to Atlantis followed.

  The moment the four of them were corporeal in their ornate temple, the other Atlantean gods stared at them expectantly.

  "Well?" Misos, their god of war, asked. "Did you get him?"

  Archon shook his golden head and narrowed his gaze on Basi. Beautiful and seductive, the drunken goddess of excess was the one who had taken Apollymi's son and hidden him out of their reach. Unfortunately, the sot had no recollection of where she'd put the baby, other than in the stomach of an already pregnant human. . . . maybe. Maybe not.

  Big help that, bitch. Thank you.

  That was why Apollymi had chosen the drunkard and forced her to do this deplorable deed. When it came to giving up any kind of useful information, Basi was worthless.

  Archon shed the hated Greek armor and skin in favor of his true form-that of a perfect blond male in his mid-twenties-and donned his dark blue Atlantean formesta robes. "Can you remember anything else?"

  Fear darkened Basi's beautiful brow. "No, Archon. I just remember Polly telling me to hide it in a queen. . . . Yes. It was a queen. I think I was in Greece, but I can't remember. Maybe Sumer . . . Akkadia or Egypt? I think the queen had dark hair . . . but it might have been blond or red. . . . Maybe. "

  It took everything he had not to kill her for her stupidity.

  His brother, Misos, sighed heavily. With black hair and a full beard, Misos was as different in appearance from Archon as he was in his divine warring powers. "So what do we do now?"

  Archon growled at the only option they had. "We go out and we hunt that bastard down. Whatever it takes. "

  Chara, the plump redheaded goddess of joy and happiness, scowled at him. "If we venture into the domains of other pantheons to search, we'll have to hide our powers from their gods. How are we to find Apostolos without them?"

  It wouldn't be as easy, but . . . "I know my wife. There will be something about him different from other mortals. You won't mistake Apostolos when you see him, and I doubt our powers will help anyway since she has him shielded so carefully. In the meantime, those of us who remain in Katateros while the others search can call out to him and drive him insane. That, too, should help us find him. He'll be the mortal prince who hears the voices of the Atlantean gods even when he doesn't worship us. "

  Bet'anya Agriosa stood up from where she'd been sitting next to her mother, Symfora. With flowing black hair and perfect caramel skin, she stood out from the other Atlantean gods. "For the record, I want to state my displeasure over all this. I may be the goddess of wrath and misery, but I find it distasteful and wrong to hunt down an innocent child and kill him because of the accidental prophecy of three little girls. "

  Archon glared at her. "My daughters may be young, but they hold the power of two pantheons in them. You better than anyone know how powerful that makes them. " While his daughters were born of him and the Greek goddess Themis, Bet'anya was Atlantean and her father the Egyptian god, Set-one of the most powerful beings in existence.

  Some even claimed Set held more power than Apollymi, and that was something Archon never wanted to test.

  Bet'anya arched a brow. "So? You don't fear me. "

  That wasn't true, but Archon wasn't dumb enough to let her know that. Bet'anya held a lot of dark power herself and he wasn't about to cross her. No one with a brain would. The last time a god had taken her on, the world had almost ended over it. "You don't draw the same powers Apollymi does. And we don't know what powers her son holds. "

  Misos nodded in agreement. "As the son of Apollymi and Archon, he could easily be the mightiest of any pantheon. "

  Archon inclined his head to his brother. "We have twenty-one years to find this boy and kill him. We cannot fail. The sooner he's destroyed, the better for us all. "

  Bet'anya clenched her teeth as they began to divide the world between them. Apollymi had always been one of her allies. And Bet hadn't been here when the other Atlantean gods had united their powers to trap her in Misos's hell realm, Kalosis. Personally, she couldn't blame Apollymi for her anger. Had they ganged up on her and locked her away while calling for the life of her child . . .

  She, too, would show them exactly how dark her powers ran.

  But like it or not, Bet'anya was part of this pantheon and would be honor bound to hunt for the child.

  She'd just do so leisurely.

  Her great-grandfather, Misos, approached her. "What are you thinking, child?"

  "That it's a sad day when a mere baby can threaten a pantheon so powerful. "

  "While I concur, I would remind you that pantheons have fallen for a lot less. " He kissed her brow.

  "Fine, Tattas. " She used the Atlantean term for grandfather. "I'll take southern Greece and Egypt where I can use my powers to find him . . . if he's there. "

  She looked back at the leader of this cursed quest and spoke to him. "I have one question, Archon