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Book Chat with Cindy Lynn Speer

Continuing our chat about The Chocolatier’s Wife and Beautiful Death, here’s the next questions I asked Cindy and her response.  Head over to Cindy’s blog for my questions/answers re: BD.

How long have you been writing, and where does TCW fit in your bibliography?  And what’s in the works for you next?

I’ve been writing since my teens…about 20 years.  The Chocolateir’s Wife is my third completed book.  Of my first two, Blue Moon is, ironically, my second book.  The first I wrote, Balancing Act, will be out in a year or so.  I’ve also written a lot of short stories and poems.  I wanted to write longer works, but when I was a teen I was more interested in expressing myself…my emotions, what I was going through…in a descriptive way, and I loved poems because I could finish them.  Then I did short stories…when I finished my first novel, it was really a relief! 

And since I missed a week or so over the holidays, I’ll post another.

What’s next for the world of Chocolatier’s Wife? 

As for what’s next for that world…I have several plans.  Someday, I think William is going to have to face the sea…I imagine a mystery, perhaps, happening while he and Tasmin go on a voyage, perhaps to visit cocoa plantations?  I’m not sure.  But I am working on a story set in the “enemy” empire of Pandroth.  I don’t know if I ever will truly write about William and Tasmin again…but I love them so much, it gives me comfort to think I might just.   

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Calling All Gregar Fans

All these threats of making me go to the doctor might be helping me feel better.  Or maybe it was simply eating the first real food of the day.

Or maybe it’s just getting some excellent news!

Tomorrow, “Prometheus Unbound” will be included in the weekly newsletter at All Romance E-Books.  This is a great opportunity to reach new people and let them see a bit of the Mythomorphoses world.  Hopefully they’ll be intrigued enough to come visit Athens with Isabella. 

In pulling together my backlist and coming soon items for the newsletter, Deena and I agreed to target: 

The Road to Shanhasson, March 2009

Which I often called “Gregar’s Book.”

I’ll be making my final pass on paper tonight to make sure all the loose ends are tied up now that I know exactly how the trilogy ends, and then I’ll work with Deena the next few months to ensure the story shines as brightly as Gregar’s ivory rahke.

Oh, and over lunch, I finished the first draft of the short story, which came in just under 2,400 words.  Yes, Virginia, it is possible for me to write something less than 100,000 words!

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Book Chat with Cindy Lynn Speer

Continuing our ongoing book chat, the next question I asked Cindy about The Chocolatier’s Wife:

How did you come up with the idea of the letters between Tasmin and William?  I loved the way the two storylines unfolded!

Her answer:

The letters came about because I needed to create a history between Tasmin and William.  In the story, they aren’t allowed to meet, technically, until their wedding day, a rule that goes out the window when he’s accused of murder, since she is now able to break her promise to be his wife with no repercussions.  So, why would she risk everything to go and see him and help him?  The letters seemed like the only solution, and as I wrote them, I realized that they could tell a completely different second story.  They were a lot of fun to write. 

Head over to Cindy’s blog if you want to hear about what attracted me to the Hades myth.

Come back next week for her next question,

Now I have to ask you…are any of your characters partly inspired by actors or actresses? 

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Book Chat with Cindy Lynn Speer

Last weeks’s chat and Cindy’s post with my answer about the original inspiration for Beautiful Death.

The question I asked her next was what movie and characters had inspired TCW?  Her response:

Well…I have always loved the movie Master and Commander, and I thought Edward Woodall’s character, William Mowett, was just a lovely, wonderful and much under used person.  Since I’ve seen him in a handful of other things, and he’s a very good actor, he puts a lot into his roles, even the smallest parts become full, perfectly realized people.  So, in a way, that’s where our William gets his sea faring past…and his first name. 

I probably shouldn’t have confessed that!   

Ha, I love that she confessed it!  If you’re curious to see how I would “cast” Beautiful Death, head on over to Cindy’s blog.

Next week, we’ll continue our chat with my question to her:

How did you come up with the idea of the letters between Tasmin and William?  I loved the way the two storylines unfolded! 

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Book Chat with Cindy Lynn Speer

This summer, I was priviledged to chat in depth with Cindy after reading The Chocolatier’s Wife released by Drollerie Press around the same time as Beautiful Death.  Events conspired against us so we’re just not getting this “chat” published on our blogs, but we had a great time discussing the story behind the books and general writing.  We plan on posting part of our “back and forth” chat every Friday until we finally stopped talking shop.  This is very informal, so there may be some overlap…or some juicy tidbit extras!

First off, let me say how much I enjoyed The Chocolatier’s Wife (TCW).  This sweet romance really tugs on the heart-strings.  I absolutely adored the little touches between Tasmin and William.  For most of their lives, their courtship happens through letters.  It’s sort of a fluke, really, that they were even “matched” by the magic that determines who should marry.

Little things speak so loudly, though.  It’s the care and consideration between the two of them that really makes this story so sweet, long before they ever meet face to face.  The small considerations between these characters really shows how they fall in love bit by bit.  Love comes softly for these characters, and it’s beautiful to watch.

We thought it would be interesting to delve deeper into our stories, because they are on opposite ends of the spectrum, really, for what our niche micropress Drollerie Press is really all about.  Beautiful Death is violent and quite sexy, where TCW is softer and subtler, but BOTH stories combine magic and romance into what we think is a rather rich and unique tapestry.  Both stories are transformative, because I assure you, William is never the same after Tasmin blows into his life, and Isabella can only learn what it truly means to be a “monster” after she becomes a monster herself.

So the first thing we started talking about was the “story behind the story.”  Here was Cindy’s response:

What started my book was a sort of goofy confluence.  It was nearing Christmas and my then department chair had given me a tower of chocolate…different boxes with all these lovely things inside.  And I had just watched a movie with an actor in it who I was wishing was in more roles…and as i was opening the box, I was wondering what I would like to see him in.  And I took a bite of this square of chocolate…it was, sincerely, one of the best pieces of chocolate I’d ever eaten…and the idea flooded into my head, even the title.

Sounds yummy, yes?  So head over to Cindy’s blog and read my response about Beautiful Death and its original inspiration.

Next week, we’ll continue with the next question, where I said:

Oooh, so you know I’ve got to ask:  who was the actor and what was the movie?

Then we got to talking about “casting” our characters.

And since it’s been quite a while since I posted anything about Beautiful Death, I’ll post an excerpt.  This piece provides some of the backstory about how Isabella became “Beautiful Death.”  Although she doesn’t know it at the time, this “alien” is Hades.  Not exactly your everyday run-of-the-mill “first meet” in a romance.  :roll:  :wink:

Without opening her eyes, she knew someone watched, very close, the stirring of air warning her that a hand stretched toward her.  She exploded into action, rolling to the side and scooping up the knife that she always kept nearby.  Huddled with her back to the wall, she felt her heart stutter with dread.

This monster was the real thing. 

The alien spun silvered rainbows through the alley, leaving her nowhere to hide.  He squatted down to her level, as though that would fool her into trusting him.  “Isabella.  I’ve come to help you.  Your father–”

A cold sweat coated her skin, but she couldn’t hold back the laughter.  Ragged, shrill with grief and rage, her voice grated like broken glass.  “Even if you weren’t a monster, I’d know you were lying.  My father’s the last person I ever want to see again.”

A sound jerked her attention behind him.  More aliens had her sister.

“I’m tired.”  Amelia lay in one of the alien’s arms like a helpless baby, and the look of resignation on her face made bile burn up Isabella’s throat.  “I’m dirty and cold and starving.  I just want to go home.  He said we’d be safe, Bella.  If not…”  she shrugged, “at least it’ll be over.”

Fight!  Why don’t you fight?  Don’t lie there and let them kill you!  “There is no home.  Mom’s dead, and Daddy’s never coming back.  Don’t you understand?  There is no safety!  If they don’t kill you, their virus will!”

Choking on tears of rage, her throat hurt, her eyes burning.  Otherwise, she’d have seen the alien coming at her.

The bastard was good, she’d give him that.  He seized her right arm, his thumb pressing on her tendon until her nerveless fingers dropped the knife, while he pinned her against his body with his other arm.  For all his size and power, he made one monumental error.  He treated her carefully, as though she were just a fifteen-year-old kid, half starved and scared shitless, as though she hadn’t seen people tearing each other apart for food or killed to keep herself alive.

She lunged up and buried her pitiful human teeth in his neck, tearing at that vulnerable pale skin.

The alien’s body jolted against hers, silver burning higher.  Glass shattered in the windows of the abandoned highrise.  Street lamps that had long ago quit working exploded like fireworks.  The ground trembled, glass and metal tinkling, debris falling all around them.

“Bella.”  The alien’s voice sounded shaken, hushed, not filled with fury or pain like she’d expected.  The fool released her hands and cupped her head tighter to his throat, curling his body around hers protectively.  “Your father sent me to you.  I mustn’t…”

Then you’re dead, she thought, fisting her hands in the ridiculously long, pretty hair about his shoulders.  She yanked his head back further and tore deeper at his throat, determined to rip her way to his spine, but he still didn’t release her.  His power burned higher, sinking into her, melting her bones, and swirling rainbows sucked her down into an endless pit of darkness.

Her heart pounded harder, her mind screaming with terror, but her body slipped into neutral while he siphoned off her energy.  Her strength, hatred, and rage that powered her ferocious will to live disappeared in an instant.

He’s feeding on me.  He’s eating me alive.

She’d seen the horrors, watched as the aliens drained their victims and left them mindless shells to die twitching and screaming when the virus struck.  She’d hated those weaklings and despised their stupidity, never understanding the horrific compelling need to give up the fight. 

There was nothing she could do to stop him; worse, the longer he fed, the less she wanted him to stop.

Rest, peace, safety, all lies he silently promised while he crushed her against him and drained her lifeforce.  Surrender, his body purred against hers.  Death won’t be so bad.  I’ll be gentle, sweet, good, I promise.

His blood coated her face, filled her mouth, and slid down her throat in a hot, liquid flood, but she was the one dying.  Little by little, Isabella flickered lower, a candle guttering in the silent, cold night.  Her defenses crumbled.  He was all around, inside her, soaking her up, drinking her most horrible dreams and memories, seducing her to death.

Lost, all she could think about was how incredibly good his blood tasted.

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Prometheus Unbound

A few years ago, Paperback Writer held a free e-book challenge at Halloween, so I thought I’d try to continue the tradition.  This is the short story I mentioned earlier in the week, set in the Mythomorphoses world.  For length reasons (the place I hope will take it as free promo for Beautiful Death only wants 2k), it’s rather short, but eventually I’ll probably expand it.  The “end” of this story is just getting to the good stuff.  :mrgreen:



A Tale of Mythomorphoses

In the laboratory bowels of Olympus, Prometheus suffered for his transgression.  Once a scientist himself, he had sought to expose the secret of exactly what sort of research occurred in Zeus’s labs.  In punishment, Zeus had injected him with his latest, greatest experiment. 

CEO of MedCorp and founder of New Olympia, Zeus needed no chains to hold Prometheus prisoner while a giant eagle feasted on his liver.  The eagle was eating him from the inside out.  Few could look at him without fleeing in revulsion.  Soon he would be merely another caged pet in Zeus’s personal menagerie. 

Death was Prometheus’s only hope, and the newest specimen chained to the copper-topped exam table would be the quickest route.

“What a rare find.”  Zeus’s voice shook with reverence.  “A pure-bred Macedonian female.  I thought they’d all died in the pandemic outbreak.  What is your name, lovely creature?”

Even if she’d been willing to respond, Prometheus doubted she would have been able, not with such suffering twisting her body.  Their alien visitors were incredibly sensitive to Earth’s metals.  Her delicate skin was already charred from the metal.  Soon, blood would run freely, dripping onto the pristine white floors, and no amount of pride and majestic power would keep her from screaming for mercy.

Prometheus couldn’t bear to see it happen again, even if he wasn’t the one committing such horrors.

“Prep her,” Zeus ordered without even sparing a glance in his direction.  “See if your inhuman appearance will gain her confidence.”

Alone with the beautiful Macedonian, Prometheus stepped closer to the table and let her get a good look at his warped features. 

Her large, tilted eyes glittered like dewy spider webs in the morning sunlight, wild with pain and desperation.  Night-black hair tumbled to the floor, delicate strands floating about her triangular face like wispy oceanic fronds.  Deceptively delicate in appearance, her species normally possessed enough power to level mighty Olympus.  However, Zeus had learned how to incapacitate their powerful alien friends who’d sought refuge from the rioting humans.  Imprisoned by so much metal, she couldn’t call her power.  Her suffering was merely a side effect as far as Zeus was concerned.

A twinge in Prometheus’s gut warned him seconds before an attack.  Bowing his head, he gripped the edge of the table.  Talons shredded his internal organs, a vicious beak tore at his heart, and massive wings beat furiously, straining to break free of his body’s cage.  His knees buckled.  His skin blazed with pricks of fire, fresh feathers spiking out of his flesh, dotting his back, shoulders, and arms. 

In misery, he pressed his head to the cold table.  Zeus had cursed him well indeed.  The eagle was closer than ever to swallowing him whole.

“I can help you,” the Macedonian whispered, her voice as soft and light as her hair.

Startled, Prometheus forced himself upright.  She looked upon him with pity, not revulsion, even though more feathers had sprouted from his body.

“Free me.  We’ll flee this place together.”

“I cannot leave,” Prometheus whispered.  His guilt held him prisoner as much as the microchip embedded in his skull.  Zeus would track him wherever he fled.  If Prometheus left with her, he would merely lead Zeus to her sanctuary.  “What do you need to restore your power?”

“Blood first.”  She shivered, her eyes darkening with hunger.  “Then your lifeforce.  After such a feeding, my power will rise enough for me to break free.”

He pushed himself up, leaning heavily against the table as though still weakened.  It would be like Zeus to secretly watch his specimens interact.  Prometheus let his arms tremble with weariness and fell against her.  “Take what you need and flee.”

Braced for the immediate pain of her fangs, he groaned at the tender brush of her lips on his skin.  Her tongue stroked the thumping vein in his neck and she made a low, glorious sound of pleasure deep in her throat.  Despite the urgency and danger, she treasured his sacrifice.  She proved she wasn’t afraid to touch him, to revel in his scent and taste.

In case Zeus was watching, he pretended to push away only to flop weakly back to the table.  He let his head loll and used his broad shoulders and tufted feathers to block whatever view the cruel perverted bastard might have.

At last, she bit deeply.  Pleasure-pain jolted through him, heat flaring in his body as though she breathed fire into his bloodstream.  The morphing creature inside him beat wings furiously, trying to lift them both from this prison of steel and technology.  A scent of high alpine fields full of night-blooming flowers filled his nose.  Her power slid inside him, velvety shadows, dark, cool, and fresh like nothing he’d felt in an eternity, certainly never since becoming a citizen of New Olympia.

The pure, sweet scent of night enfolded him. 

Take it all, he whispered in his head, surrendering to the blackness wrapped around him.  End my suffering.

Midnight velvet swelled higher, cresting within his mind.  She flipped through his memories, laying his soul bare and bleeding.  He tried to pull back in shame, but she held him firm, seeing all the dread experiments in which he’d participated until he’d rebelled.  He’d tried to escape, only to wake screaming on Zeus’s exam table.

Electric shocks buzzed in his head.  A tendril of her power touched the microchip and his body shorted out, convulsed, throwing him to the floor.


Rich velvet shadows still enfolded him, but he heard a strange chirping noise.  It took several moments before his mind registered the long-forgotten sound of crickets.

There were no bugs inside perfect, sterile New Olympia, unless one counted the butterfly garden in Athens.  He must be dreaming.  Or dead.

He opened his eyes and stared up at a black canvas dotted with diamonds.  The sweet scent still wafted around him, tantalizing his starved senses.  Strands of fragile web tickled his cheek.

Turning his head, he met the Macedonian’s gaze.  Her midnight hair brushed his cheek again and he trembled.  “Where are we?”

“You’re in my domain now.”  She tilted her head, letting her hair slide across her cheek to partially obscure her face.  Shadows clothed her body, but what he could see of her limbs confirmed she now possessed enough power to heal herself.  “I know you wished me to kill you, but I couldn’t bear to harm you.  I certainly refused to leave you trapped while I escaped.  He never would have allowed you to die.”

After years of research, Zeus could prevent the escape of death indefinitely.  All in the name of science, of course.  A little torture was required to improve the human race.

“I apologize for the pain you felt when I disabled the chip,” she continued.  “I couldn’t remove it entirely, but you’re free from Zeus’s monitoring.”

Prometheus sagged back to the ground, the diamond-studded sky blurring in his tears. 

Concerned, she rose up over him, her fine, delicate hair sending shivers through his body.  “What is it?  Do you still have pain?”

“I’m free,” he whispered, his throat raw.  “You saved me.”

She smiled, but she kept her face partially hidden and she didn’t touch him.  She waited for some response, and he feared that if he gave the wrong answer–to this question he didn’t even know–that he would never see her again.

The eagle stretched out its wings and he gasped, involuntarily tensing.  Yet the pain didn’t tear through his gut.

“Zeus infected you with an odd strain of the virus but managed to retard your full transformation.  If you continue in this manner, your beast will kill you both in its struggle for freedom.”

Any other person saying “beast” would have driven him away in shame.  She said it calmly as though unbothered by his contamination, while New Olympian Marshals would hunt him down without a second thought.

“I can bring you fully through the transformation.”

Prometheus fisted his hands, trying to hide his trembling.  “I don’t want to be a monster.  I would rather die.”

“Oh.”  The small sound escaped her lips, barely loudly enough for him to hear.  She turned away, fully hiding beneath her starlit hair and shadows.  “Then I’m a monster to you, too.”

“No!”  He jerked upright and forgot his own ugliness enough to clutch her hand.  “You’re so beautiful you make my heart hurt.”

“I tasted both your blood and your lifeforce,” she whispered.  “Your kind revile us as the bringers of destruction.  You blame us for destroying your civilization with the virus.”

The eagle’s instinct roared to life, screaming a piercing warning to any who dared harm her.  Perhaps Zeus’s punishment could be used for good.  As an eagle, he could soar the skies and alert her to any approaching danger.  Gently, he slipped his fingers beneath her chin and turned her gaze back to his.  Now that her power had returned, her eyes flashed like faceted obsidian.  “I will protect you.”

Her lips quirked.  “Who carried you out of Olympus?”

Startled, he glanced about the clearing at the ring of wild trees, green grass, and open sky, and finally realized they were indeed Outside.  No biodome stretched overhead.  This slender female had freed herself and dragged his dead weight through miles of underground laboratories and tunnels, unerringly finding her way out of New Olympia.

His shock made her laugh out loud, a tinkling chime that wiped away his consternation until he laughed with her.

Lightly, she cupped his cheek and stared into his eyes, her expression turning solemn.  “I would bond you.  I would be skyr to your beast, master to your eagle.  I would control your transformation and aid you in shifting back to human form at will.  You would not be the mindless animal you fear, but you would wear a leash that only I will hold.  Can you trust me enough to allow this hold on your soul?”

Hope burned in his heart for something other than death.  He didn’t turn away; instead, he showed his guilt and shame, reflected a million times in her mirrored eyes.  “I participated in research on your people.  When the surviving humans turned on them, they came to Olympus for help.  We caged, dissected, and eventually killed them after we eeked out enough for Zeus’s interest.  How can you forgive me?”

“I suffered.  You suffered.”  She ran her fingers through the feathers spiked across his shoulders and he shuddered in response.  “I believe you’ve suffered enough.”  Letting some of her shadows fall away, she revealed her upper body, gleaming opal against the black velvet of her hair.  “Can we not find solace in one another?”

He bowed his head until his forehead touched hers.  Her scent ripened, intoxicating, her lush power wrapped around him, caging his heart like no other.  For once, he didn’t fear the chains she offered.  “Bond me, skyr.  I’m yours.”

With renewed hunger, her eyes fired like spinning jewels beneath the night sky.  “The New Olympian name I took is Nyx.”

  His heartbeat quickened, his fingers tightening on her face.  Swift silent night: what a perfect name for her.  “I’ll wear your leash, Nyx.  What do you need?”

“I need you to take my blood and complete the bond you began to enable our escape.”

Ceasing its flailing punishment, the eagle within him perked.  “Is that all?”

She didn’t seem to mind his ragged voice or stirring need.  She pushed him flat on his back and he went, willingly.  Tossing her hair back over her shoulder, she smiled down at him.  “My blood is only the beginning.”

And so Prometheus found himself freed and then most delightfully bound once more.

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The cultures in this series are based on Ancient Macedonia, Thrace, Greece, and Rome, mixed with a healthy dose of both mythology and technology, and then warped just a little by yours truly. This page contains all the historical facts, legends, and myths that I used to create this world.

Post-Apocalyptic New Olympia

After a pandemic outbreak decimated the visiting aliens and spread to the human population, New Olympia rose from the chaos as a gleaming haven of technology and science. The City-States are: Argos, Athens, Calydon, Corinth, Delphi, Mycenae, Olympus, Sparta, and Thebes. Of course, MedCorp, the founding medical research corporation, is housed in Olympus. These City-States are the brightest and the best, proudly dedicated to the golden age of Earth’s ancient civilization. Upon acceptance of application (which included thorough medical and financial screening) to enter New Olympia, Citizens chose appropriate new Greek names to signify their commitment to the new world.

Each City has a biodome to protect its Citizens from the mutating virus. Beneath the biodome, circular skyways connect residential towers, shopping areas, entertainment facilities, and of course, the local MedCorp offices. Each City is connected to the others by the Odyssey, the super-fast sleek trains that whisk from City to City in a matter of minutes.

The Pantheon Council rules New Olympia in name only. Each City sits a member on the Council, but as president of the Council and CEO of MedCorp, Zeus is the ultimate authority in New Olympia. Rarely seen outside Olympus, he communicates his orders to the Council via Oracle, the super-computer powering the Cities’ technologies.

Marshals keep the peace in the Cities, but their main duty is extermination. Anyone infected with the mutating virus is called a contaminant and is terminated on sight. Only in recent days have the gates of New Olympia been opened to the Outside world, but few monsters have made an appearance. That might have something to do with the outstanding termination order still in place…

Argos and Delphi were exiled in recent years, and their Councilors, Hera and Apollo respectively, were also kicked off the Pantheon. No one knows why, exactly, although some disagreement with Zeus was obviously the culprit. Since the Odyssey no longer connects them to the rest of the City-States, Argos and Delphi are known as the “Lost Cities.”

Macedon and Thrace

Loosely based on ancient Macedonia and Thrace, these two planets have been at war for centuries. Only in the last ten Macedonian years has a ragged treaty been accepted between the two species. The Macedonians are known as skyrs (Greek for lords), or as Masters on Earth, and are both vampiric, feeding on lifeforce energy, and noctural. The Earth’s sun is so powerful and damaging to their delicate skin that they can actually burst into flame. Their leader, the Megaskyr, (great lord) rules from the capital of Vergina. (Ironic, isn’t it, that their Megaskyr is known as the Sun of Vergina?)

Vergina is a lush jungle of massive choka trees, the largest of which the Megaskyr molds into the Sun Palace. The greater the Megaskyr’s power, the greater the Palace must be as a symbol to the other Houses of the land. It takes constant power to sculpt the tree and power the palace, so only the strongest skyr dare attempt to rule.

To increase their power, skyrs form bonds with weaker skyrs and call them sarissas (a famous Macedonian spear). Always of the opposite sex, a sarissa compounds the controlling skyr’s power. However, this joining can be a deadly mating of powers when two equally matched skyrs fight for dominance. A spear can turn and skewer the hand attempting to wield it. The current Megaskyr, Kleopatra, took the Sun Throne of Macedon with five sarissas. However, all of them were killed in the war of succession, and only Xerxes still lives.

There are sixteen Houses of Macedon, based on the Vergina Sun which is also a symbol of the Megaskyr’s power. The most powerful House is likely Aegae (Philip’s house), but the current Megaskyr’s House is Attalus.

History tidbits: the historical Kleopatra was from Macedonia, but she had a brother named Attalus who mouthed off in front of Prince Alexander (insulting him and his mother, the Queen) and almost caused a war. So appropriately, Attalus became Kleopatra’s original House. Aegae was the ancient capital of Macedonia, and the site of Philip’s assassination.

Other Houses of Macedon include: Persia, Larissa, Rhodes, Pydna, Caria, Molossis, Illyria, Chios, Phocis, Strymon, Thessaly, Olynthus, Methone, and Pherae, all ancient cities of (or regions defeated by) Macedonia except Persia, which is a big cheat (see Xerxes below), and Strymon, which is actually a river.


Isabella Thanatos: As the First Marshal of Athens, she’s called Beautiful Death. She’s the most famous Marshal in all of New Olympia with nearly one thousand kills in her effort to keep Athens safe. She’s obviously based on Thanatos, the Greek god of Death.

Hades: An alien from Macedon, his name before he was exiled to Earth was Philip of House Aegae. Hades is loosely based on Philip II of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great. Why did he choose Hades, Lord of the Underworld, as his New Olympian name? Not for whiny Persephone, oh no. He wants to be Death’s Master. Of course, he named his ship Erebus and the village of contaminants and exiles who came to him for protection is named Asphodel.

Zeus: The great enigma of New Olympia, he’s a renowned hematologist who single-handedly developed the initial vaccines to counteract the pandemic. As the founding father of New Olympia, he obviously has a bit of a god complex.

Charon: Definitely not an old man in a loin cloth as this reference implies, he’s an alien from Thrace, Hades’ Enforcer, a shapeshifter known as a drakon. Although drakon means dragon in ancient Greek, he doesn’t resemble any of our Earth dragons, not with his feathered wings. He mirrors the ferryman mythology as Isabella’s guide to the Underworld. Her gift of books to him in payment mirrors the Sybillean Leaves.

Herakles: (Perhaps better known as Hercules) He’s a Marshal of Athens and Isabella’s second in command. Atalanta and Jason (from the Argonauts legend) are also members of Isabella’s squad.

Icarus: Isabella’s best friend, he owns an exclusive clothing shop On Death’s Wings in Athens and designs fabulous clothes that helped cement Isabella’s formidable reputation in the City. As his and the shop’s names imply, Icarus has a bit of an obsession with wings, specifically Butterfly wings.

Kleopatra: The Megaskyr of Macedon, she exiled Philip to Earth when he was too powerful for her to leash as sarissa. She’s loosely based on Philip II’s wife, not to be confused with Cleopatra of Egypt. Here’s an interesting link about Philip’s tomb that gave me the idea to spell her name with a K.

Xerxes: Yes, Xerxes was from Persia, not Macedonia, but I couldn’t resist. His name is too cool, and he was a great historical figure of the general time period (about 100 years earlier). Although Persia was defeated by Macedonia, it was under Alexander the Great, rather than Philip, who was assassinated before the war. Xerxes’ Macedon House is Persia. In Beautiful Death, we learn that Xerxes is the Megaskyr’s last surviving sarissa.

Apollo: Delphi’s Councilor now exiled from New Olympia, he was one of Zeus’s closest and most instrumental researchers at MedCorp. Now, Apollo has dedicated himself and his City to preserving the great artifacts of our world before they’re utterly lost.

Sybil: Apollo’s daughter, she’s loosely based on the Sybil or oracle, and serves to indirectly begin Isabella’s inner transformation. She loves antique books and risks running into the formidable First Marshal of Athens to retrieve some for her collection.

Hera: Argos’s Councilor now exiled from New Olympia, she continues to tamper with forbidden research. Specifically, she wants to create the perfect monster.

The Erinyes: Also known as the Furies in mythology, the Erinyes are not all female as in legend, nor do they reside in the Underworld, but they are punishers. These are Zeus’s elite executioners, sent only when all other means of termination have failed…or when a Marshal has been infected. Emotionless, efficient, and acting as one unit without words, the Erinyes are feared throughout all New Olympia.

The Keres: Sometimes called Demons of Death, they are Hera’s latest creation. They feed on fear, pain, and suffering. Mythological reference.