Three more days until the release of "The Bastard Gods", the third installment in the "Chronicles of Fu Xi" epic fantasy series. I thought I'd share another sample from the novel. Here's an excerpt from Chapter 28.
28. Leviathan’s Pillar.
“A god must be patient.” - The Third Lesson of the God Poseidon to his children, from the Ancient of Ancients.
- The Chronicle of Fu Xi.
“A god must be patient.” Leviathan whispered it like a protective ward. He stared at the Alabaster Throne’s high back, and Poseidon’s court beyond it, just as he had done stretching back into time’s endless corridor.
He slowly twisted the sword’s tip into the floor, and felt the satisfying “pop” as the red blade gouged the marble. Each sharp crack reverberated in the tomb-like chamber. Stone chips clattered between his feet and across the grimy floor.
He leaned against the column that had come to be known as Leviathan’s Pillar. His back found the well-worn hollow in the stone, formed over centuries. He raised his eyes to the pyramid’s ceiling where sun rays probed meekly into dingy air, only to die in the chamber’s dark belly. Dull torchlight and darkness reigned where once cleansing sunlight danced. Poseidon long ago decreed the four mirrors tilted down. The colorful birds returned to the sun and, one by one, the pillar trees died, were cut down and hauled away.
There was once a time when no shadows fell in Poseidon’s Temple. In the brighter past, court’s vibrant comings and goings accompanied Leviathan’s waits. Artists, poets, musicians, scholars, merchants — freemen from the Empire’s many castes — gathered around the courtyard’s Fountain of Creation. They bowed before the Alabaster Throne to receive Poseidon’s wisdom, and relay news from the Empire’s far-flung reaches. Leviathan remembered their clucking tongues and inflated sense of importance. They arrogantly mingled with the Sons of Poseidon, as if equals.
Alongside his sister, Leviathan watched them wither and die as the years melted together like candle wax. The mortals perished, but not before their lies and flesh corrupted my father like poison accumulating one drop at a time, Leviathan thought.
Another sharp report, followed by a brief clatter, announced the floor had surrendered another marble chip.
Over the centuries, Poseidon’s summons grew less frequent, but each visit to court became more uncomfortable. One year to the next, the columned halls grew darker. Courtesans slowly replaced artisans. Temple priests replaced scholars. Laughter gave way to cries of gluttonous ecstasy. Where once he dispensed enlightenment, now Poseidon swam in decadent mounds of flesh. Young men and women captured from across the Empire were marched in chains into the naos to serve the mad god’s insatiable appetites.
Leviathan glanced across the dais at the other column. Athena’s Pillar.
Another chip broke free between his feet.
The orgy’s sounds often assailed Leviathan as he waited until his father granted him an audience. The column shielded the demigod from witnessing his father’s unfettered indulgences transpiring in the inner sanctum. Each cry of ecstasy would drive the red blade’s tip deeper into the marble.
As the years passed, Poseidon’s summons for Leviathan and Athena, known across the Empire as the Bastard Gods, grew more infrequent, sometimes stretching hundreds of years between visits. With the exception of Atlas, the Sons of Cleito soon avoided the Alabaster Pyramid entirely.
Leviathan’s spies reported Poseidon’s growing taste for blood as much as pleasure. His father’s slide into paranoid madness led to purges among the high castes. Aided by Leviathan’s whispers, the god saw rebellion and treachery everywhere. During the First Purge, tortured screams replaced pleasure inside the Alabaster Pyramid. When the bloodshed finally abated, almost all the free castes had been abolished, replaced by the rule of collar and brand.
Atlantis had become a slave empire.
Leviathan found waiting for his father’s audience during the Great Purges unaccompanied by the usual shame. In those days, Leviathan held hope his father might finally emerge from under the spell mortals had cast over him. It didn’t take long for that hope to die.
Now, as Leviathan waited once again, his hope had been rekindled. Freshly erected wooden crucifixes lined the city’s canals and streets, some with bodies already hanging on them. That’s why the dead silence from the naos behind him perplexed Leviathan. Something had fundamentally changed in Atlantis, and within the Alabaster Pyramid.
A wizened acolyte scurried onto the platform and lay prostrate at Leviathan’s feet. “This lowly slave begs the privilege of serving the Mighty Prince with food and libations, while he awaits the Glorious One.”
“Go,” Leviathan commanded and twisted the blade again. Marble flakes struck the slave’s face, driving him backwards down the stairs.
“As you command.” He slithered away into the gloom.
Poseidon’s summons demanded immediate compliance, and even a demigod could not refuse. As always, the summons’ purpose remained a mystery, but throughout history Poseidon only summoned the Bastard Gods for dark tasks requiring orichalcum steel.