The Wrath of Horus: Marcellus and Diana in the Maelstrom

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This is the third and final excerpt from The Wrath of Horus before Saturday’s big cover reveal. In this scene, Marc and Diana are reunited in the Maelstrom of Dantes’ Inferno.


Marc was buffeted by the howling winds. He slammed into the rock walls of the chamber, passing through other floating souls, and despaired in the absolute darkness and the continual roaring of rushing air. Alexander had sacrificed himself so Marc could live, and Diana had burned before his eyes. Flavia and Galt had been cast into the pit. He had no idea where Greg even was.

After his parents were gone, Marc had tried so hard to make sure there was no risk, to make everyone safe, but everything had slipped through his grasp, no matter how tightly he clenched his fists. He couldn’t save anyone. He was dead and this was how he would spend eternity, in failure and despair.

You are still alive.

Thoth’s thoughts pierced his mind. “Am I?” Marcellus’ voice flew back to him, the wind so loud he could barely hear it. “I fell. I saw Alexander and Diana die.” Alexander had asked for Marc to be sent where Diana had been sent. Was she alive, or was only her soul here? “Thoth? Are they alive? Can you tell me?”

You remember, you cannot remain dead here. None of you can.

Marc had endangered them because his powers had failed. “My magic is not working. What good am I?”

I do not waste my time or my gifts. That is your answer. If Alexander and Diana gave you the gift of their sacrifice, you must give them back your courage. Nothing has ever been in your control, Marcellus. You must stop pretending it ever has been.

Thoth saw more than Marc could see in the darkness. “Is this one of your visions?”

No. You are in the Maelstrom.

The Maelstrom. The level of lust. There was nothing to see or touch. Marc could barely hear himself think.

You must use the gifts you have.

The gifts he had? Shadows were closed to him. What gifts was Thoth talking about?

“Diana!” he shouted into the noise. He knew others were screaming, lovers blown apart by the Maelstrom, unable to touch. “Diana!” He couldn’t hear her. She couldn’t hear him. She wouldn’t know he was here.

He loved her, had loved her ever since they were children. He had forsworn other women based only the memory of her, real and imagined. All he wanted when she had come back to him was to shower that love on her, but he was afraid of his vision, that she would die by his side. Better, though, by his side, than alone in the dark, because he thought maybe she loved him too. They were both here, which was telling.

It was the pinprick of light in the absolute darkness which made him aware of her. The lights of her rosary were white stars in the winter sky over the heath. The wind blew her toward him. He tried to grab her, knowing how unlikely it would be to touch her, how extraordinarily lucky he would be if he could. She sped by and he grasped at air. The distance between the two of them grew. Tears were blown dry on his face as soon as he cried them.

Then he was jerked backwards as a thin string of beads looped around him. He laughed uncontrollably. Their situation was dire, but this was one tiny spark of hope. A pop beside his head as a bead exploded, its magic forcing him closer to the light. Again, another pop, another few feet, and he could see her. Then one more burst and they were face to face as she entwined the rosary around the two of them, wrapping their bodies closely. He could see her face glowing in soft pink light, could feel the closeness of her, could smell her above the cold wind and stone. All the things he wanted to say to her and couldn’t. He pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her as the wind tossed them like autumn leaves.

Marc cried for Alexander and Diana kissed his tears and cried with him.

The Wrath of Horus: The Judgment of Flavia Borgia

Here’s another excerpt from The Wrath of Horus, shortly after the characters end up in Dantes’ Inferno:

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Flavia’s anger crested as the stream of spirits marched forward to the being larger than life on the throne of skulls, a horned demon with a tail. The tail darted forward into the mass of souls and pulled one out, plucking it like heather from the ground, pronouncing a one-word sentence, and casting the soul into a pit. The tail groped near them and encircled around another unfortunate. “Gluttony,” the creature said, and then threw the soul away.

Before Flavia could register the motion, the tail darted in, wrapped around Pavan, and pulled him up into the air. She paused. Again, the voice in her head. Leave him. Come to me.

Flavia shouldn’t care—Pavan was a distraction from her purpose—but she did care. Even if she decided to stay in Hell, she promised him she’d get him out. Flavia was not her father. She made good on her promises.

Before the demon could pronounce Pavan’s sentence, Flavia ran forward. She heard her name in the distance and glanced toward the sound, seeing Marc off to the side. Marc was here. Her temper burned bright inside of her. She’d rather Greg see her new powers, but Marc would do. She hoped he would be impressed. “Demon!” she shouted. “Drop him!”

The demon’s tail flung Pavan to the ground and hovered above Flavia like a hungry snake. “You come to be judged,” it said.

“No,” Flavia announced. “I am here to judge you.”

The giant tail wrapped around Flavia’s ankles. The gem in her neck flashed like lightning. The demon’s hands shielded its eyes and Flavia grabbed a length of its tail. She could see the seams where she could tear and she followed the lines, pulling the tail apart with a satisfying, wet rip. Blood oozed over her hands, feeling warm and comforting.

The demon’s scream dissolved souls into smoke and mist. Flavia tossed the torn flesh and scales aside, grabbed another part of the tail, and exerted her new strength. The demon lurched forward and wrapped his arms around her, hugging her to his chest. She plunged her hands into his midsection.

“Anger,” the demon announced. He would not let her go, so Flavia pulled her hands out, dropping gobs of gore on the ground underneath them. She laughed. Flavia placed her palms on either side of the demon’s head. With thumb and forefinger, she plucked one of his eyeballs from its socket, but still Minos relentlessly moved her to the end of the pit. She didn’t care. She drove two fingers under the remaining eye. Minos pushed her away and tossed her into the air. She hung for a second, gazing down into the darkness. Air rushed past her and she plummeted into the pit.

Terror penetrated Flavia’s anger as she tumbled. She could find no purchase, nothing to grab to stop her fall. Spirits howled and screamed around her, and she screamed with them. For a moment, her sanity locked into place. What was she doing, challenging Minos? Rescuing Pavan was the right instinct, but this desire to attack, Flavia knew, was coming from Hell itself. She had fought Minos and she would have won, if she’d had a little more time. Sanity slipped away like mercury.

Since she had arrived here, Flavia felt alive in ways she had never felt before. Having powerful magic of her own to use made her want to use it. And why shouldn’t she? She could crush anyone with her magic, take them all on, remake the underworld in her image.

First, she had to survive. Her hair flew about her like a banshee’s. Souls darted in and snagged her, cutting her. She grew her claws and sliced back. She was like the creature in the forest, angry, sharp, with the power to take blood. She cackled and trilled. She would make her way in this bold new world destroying everything in her path. She was so much more powerful than a mere Binder. Oh, she would set everyone straight. She would fight and claw and kick and scream and everything would submit to her. The small voice in the back of her mind that told her this was madness, like her mother’s, she squashed ruthlessly like a cockroach. She was so hungry for this, having been told she was unworthy for so long.

She came to the end of her fall and smashed into the ground. Her legs snapped and an arm shattered, and she died for the first time. Then, she stood and began to fight.

The Wrath of Horus: Thoth, Horus, and Set


Enjoy this excerpt from The Wrath of Horus, coming October 31st, 2021.

The Golden City of the Egyptian gods in exile, Thoth knew, was a masterful subterfuge. One could believe one was in Egypt, with the smells of Nile water, green palms, and cold stone overriding the ash and rot of the Abyss around them. Every day perfumed incense was burned to welcome a fake sun’s rising. Every day Egyptian gods walked through the market, inhabited and celebrated rituals in their temples, and sailed on the waters, which spread infinitely into an illusionary distance. Every day beer was brewed, dates were plucked from trees, and everyone pretended all was well in the smallest of spaces. There were no mortals to serve them, but wasn’t the absence of mortals always the goal of Ra? To leave the mortals behind and build a paradise for only gods?

All would have been well, were it not that every single god knew they were not in Ra’s paradise of Duat. Once all the Egyptian gods journeyed to Duat, the Egyptian underworld would be transformed into the kingdom they pretended the Golden City to be, no longer solely the courts for the judgment of the dead. This counterfeit Golden City was a way to hold onto their sanity in exile, but Thoth knew the truth of it: gods were by their nature arrogant, always believing themselves better than humanity, and now they were paying for their arrogance, punished by the sorcerer and wizard Solomon. Thoth himself had sacrificed his own chance to absent himself from the Golden City by giving Marcellus prophecy. There was still some work to be done here if ultimately, the future would free the Klaereons and the Egyptians from a magically induced pact, and Thoth would see it through. He and Marcellus together were tools to shape the future.

Thoth waved a paw in front of his nose. The smoke from the fire in the sacrificial bowl was overpowering with lavender and pampas grass. Thoth knew disaster had come for Marcellus Klaereon on this day, but it was necessary in order for things to proceed as they must. Knowing the entire future was challenging, and sometimes painful, given you had to watch many things which were unpleasant in the moment.

Which reminded him. He had things to do.

He climbed down from his stool and loped outside his temple. It wasn’t difficult to find Horus, in his true form, the body of a man, the head of a falcon, muscled like a deity who was constantly in motion. When a god about to have a Trial, first separated from their Binder, they were on edge, deprived of a narcotic, missing the child they had come to love inasmuch as gods could love.

Horus paced and fidgeted. “Something is wrong. Gregorius is not where he is meant to be. I can feel him here.”

“Marcellus and Gregorius are in the Abyss.” Thoth had not foreseen all those who had come with them. To help or to hinder? There were too many different versions of the future at the moment.

“What perversity is this?” Horus’s shiny eyes were unreadable, but his voice trembled. “How can he fight me here? I will certainly win here.”

“Don’t you want to win?” asked Thoth. The closer a god was to their Binder, the less likely they were to want to win. It wasn’t Horus’s nature to make exceptions regarding combat.

“I want to win only if it is fair,” said Horus carefully. “I want Gregorius to use everything I have taught him in a fair fight. I want him to earn his victory.”

So. Horus did want Gregorius to win. “You must seek him out,” said Thoth. “If you can help him return to the land of mortals before his Trial, maybe it will be so.” Thoth shrugged. “Or maybe not. Maybe you must fight him here. We cannot control what we cannot control.”

“No doubt this suits some purpose of yours,” said Horus.

Thoth bared his teeth. “I cannot say.”

“I will find Gregorius,” said Horus. “I will find him, take him home, and then fight him.”

“Of course you will,” said Thoth confirming. “Unless Set takes him.”

“What nonsense are you speaking?” said Horus. Horus rushed toward Thoth and stopped short of striking him. “What would Set have to do with this?”

“Set has always felt he was cheated when you claimed Gregorius, and then by not claiming the girl Flavia by virtue of her birth. You must be careful.” Thoth knew cautioning Horus was unrealistic, but being one of the older gods, Thoth had a paternalistic streak.

“I always defeat Set,” said Horus.

Thoth felt no need to respond. Horus always defeated Set, except when he did not. The history between them often repeated itself. Jealousy and passion, greed and possession. It was the relationship of gods who had loved each other but discovered the paper-thin layer between passion and hate was easily torn. Cruel Set could easily hurt Horus’s boy if he felt it would cause Horus pain.

Thoth did not like looking at the torturous version of that future, but honestly, Thoth had no idea how the future would flow, or which future would flow. “You will be breaking the formal rules by finding your Binder now,” he said to Horus, “but I think you must. It is what I would do in your place. Go, and may your road be easy.”

Both of them knew nothing about this turn of events would be easy.

It took no time after Horus left before Set made his way to the temple of Thoth. Thoth had resumed his seat inside and fed the fire with myrrh and thyme.

“God of prophecy,” said Set, “I beseech you help me right my future.”

Set was the destroyer of the Egyptians. Most Egyptians disliked Set, but Thoth knew there were duties for the darker gods which could not be sacrificed. Set was an indescribable creature. Most mortals depicted him as a mule, but he wasn’t quite that.

“Why are you not in Duat, riding the boat of the sun?” Thoth kept his tone casual. Set’s redemption would come as guardian of the sunboat, another prophecy of a possible future.

“My time has come,” said Set. “I am here to claim what is mine.”

“Your Binder?” said Thoth. “You would forego your place in the nightly battle of existence for a mere child?”

“You toy with me,” said Set. “You know as well as I do what the outcome of these days will bring.”

Thoth knew better than Set, but he saw no point in saying so. “What is your plan, then? Is it to steal the boy from Horus, or to take the unclaimed girl you have been courting?”

Set crossed his arms across his massive bare chest. “I would enjoy defeating Horus again and shattering what he considers his. I would elevate this boy above all Binders by making him mine in body and soul. But the girl has potential and was meant for me. She has my appetites and could be a mighty fighter, a Princess of Hell.” Set stepped closer. “Can you see what my best course of action is?”

“I only see possibility. I see you devoured by Ammut should you not proceed carefully.”

“Was Horus ever careful? He has always stolen what is mine.”

“Yes,” said Thoth. “And his father before him. I know your grievances well, every version of them.” Thoth inhaled smoke. “You think you are prepared for the worst of the Abyss, because you have been in Duat. Do you remember what it was like before we arrived, before we built the city?”

“I am a match for all the demons in the Abyss.”

There were some of the gods who perhaps merited the banishment Solomon had visited upon the Egyptians, Set was reminding Thoth. “I cannot see your best course of action.”

“Do you foresee a way I can have victory?”

There it was. The gods always wanted guarantees. Always. “Nothing is ever certain,” said Thoth. “Even when it is likely, it is not firm. You must trust your instincts, follow your path. If you didn’t like my advice, you wouldn’t follow it, even if it guaranteed you victory. That is usually how destiny is created.”

Set’s answering scoff was disdainful. “If you will not help me choose, I will take them both.”

Ah. Two-thirds of the possible futures evaporated into nothing, and the worst one moved to the front of Thoth’s mind. “You must do what you must do,” said Thoth.

Set left, as Thoth let his consciousness reach out to Marcellus. Perhaps his connection to his Binder would save Gregorius and Flavia. Perhaps not. Only one of them was necessary, and either of them would work for the purposes of the future. The most unfair thing of all was that Marcellus, the best of the three, was someday destined to be lost.

The Wrath of Horus is Coming!

It is coming!

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For Gregorius Klaereon, his Trial with the god Horus isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about the fight. His temperament aggressive, his anger on display for all to see, Greg is a direct contrast to his brother Marcellus, the perfect Lord Klaereon, the prophet who can do no wrong. How Marc tolerates Greg is a mystery to Greg himself, especially as Greg knows deep down that Greg is responsible for the deaths of his parents.

On the eve of the Klaereon birthday celebration, two days before Greg’s Trial, Greg fights with his cousin Flavia Borgia, and the two of them activate a reality shard which sends them, Marc, and others to the Abyss. There, they are judged and scattered throughout the nine circles. Greg, alone, discovers his Trial was the least of his worries as he is confronted by Set, the god of destruction, in a desolate landscape where his shadow powers no longer work.

While Greg endures, certain his rightful punishment has found him, Marc and the others scramble to reunite, rescue Greg, and make their way to the Golden City of the banished Egyptian pantheon, desperate to find a way home.