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Daughter of Night

Their destiny began in the ancient land of Anatolia.

In 1326 BC, Crete is the last remaining sacred place for the Great Goddess, but changes began to threaten the old gods, the Titans. Forced to become an ally to the power hungry Olympian gods, Rhea hangs on to the secret of the star metal, the one key that would make Zeus and the other young gods invincible. When this secret is stolen, Rhea must find the Dactyl and the goddess who betrayed Her before Zeus does.

Becuille is a daughter of Night, a servant of the Great Goddess created to impart Her vengeance on mortal and immortal wrongdoers. Made mortal by Rhea, she is sent to find the ones who betrayed the Great Goddess. In the land of Hatti, she meets a proud and handsome prince. When love binds her to him, her loyalties are torn.

Callileon, a prince of the Hatti, has closed off his heart to love only to rediscover it in the arms of the mysterious and fiery slave girl he has purchased. He is caught up in a dangerous world of power hungry gods, jealous goddesses and potent magic, which even the Fates cannot steer him away from.

Can two mortals fight the will of the gods?

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Kelley Heckart

Kelley lives in Arizona with her husband and two dogs. Her lifelong passion for Celtic mythology and storytelling is the inspiration behind her novels featuring fierce warriors, bold women and otherworldly creatures. Armed with a vivid imagination, Kelley spends most of her time daydreaming and crafting tales filled with romance, conflict and magic. She can be found online at www.kelleyheckart.com.

Coming Soon...
Excerpt

Prologue

“Night bore hateful Doom and dark Fate and Death, she bore Sleep, she bore the Tribe of Dreams...and the Fates she bore, and the mercilessly punishing Furies who prosecute the transgressions of men and gods—never do the goddesses cease from their terrible wrath until they have paid the sinner his due.” Hesiod

2400 BC, on the Anatolian plain

The earth shuddered with a terrible bellow. A host of pale skinned warriors, astride snorting beasts, roared down from the northern mountains wearing tall, menacing helmets and wielding dangerous, glinting weapons. Like centaurs, they attacked from the backs of hoofed beasts, moving methodically as one terrifying creature, trampling and slicing all who dared to be in their path.

Shaking with rage, She watched Her temples turned into ruins, Her effigies profaned by the northern invaders beneath a reddening sky. For thousands of years She had ruled, the Creator and Earth Mother, and Her people had prospered. Now these savage warriors, ruled by a warlike Sky God, threatened Her reign. They crushed Her followers beneath powerful hooves and gnashing teeth, slashing the helpless inhabitants with long bronze swords. She watched in horror as the barbaric men defiled Her priestesses and killed them for daring to fight back. Within the blood splatters, She saw disturbing omens of betrayal by Her own kind, the old gods—the Titans. One She trusted would destroy them all.

Embraced in the slanting shadows of the dying sun, one priestess fought with more valor. She fiercely defended the temple while others fled, her green eyes flashing with conviction. With the fury of a lioness defending her territory, the raven-haired priestess wielded a bronze dagger, killing five enemy warriors before they managed to capture her. The fiery priestess's courageous fighting impressed Her, but it was the priestess's courage in the face of death that impressed Her more. Standing tall, her chin held up with solemn dignity, the maiden allowed no fear to cloud her lovely face, not one tear to stain her smooth olive cheek. No pleas for her life disgraced her as the slashing sword ruined her beautiful body.

Other lands called to Her as Her people fled to the West, but as She turned to leave, She paused, looking back at the bloodied body of the valiant priestess whose bravery gave Her the strength to keep fighting. A glimmer of hope remained as long as She held on to the secret.

She waited for night, enduring the acrid scent of burning fires and the scent of blood from the slaughtered. Embraced by Her aspect of Night, She swept down on silent owl's wings, picked up the lifeless body of the priestess and carried her to the sacred chasm where the earth spouted fire. Water trickled down from the sides of the cavern, a gentle sound broken by the roaring flames. Placing the body on a flat gray stone, She drew a dagger, drawing the blade along Her wrist. The sting from the blade reminded Her of the great sacrifices made at the brutal hands of the invaders. Dark blood trickled out of the slashing wound, dripping into the chasm. Turning, She uttered primeval words of enchantment, drawing from the fire, water and blood. Her body thrummed with power. All three elements rushed together in a swirling mass directed toward the priestess's lifeless body. Orange, red and silver swirled in brilliant sunset layers around the body, making it forget it was ever human, transforming it and giving it untold powers over the Titans.

Spent from the exertion of wielding such magic, She crumpled to the ground, feeling reassured. Whomever the Destroyer was, Her new servant, a Daughter of the Night and Keeper of the Real Names, would help Her fight the betrayer and any others who dared to betray Her as bravely as she had fought against the men of the Sky God.

  

Chapter One

 “I am what has been, what is, and what shall be.”

Worshippers of Libyan Neith

1326 BC

Birds took off from their nearby perches in a terrified, chaotic formation. She could read the patterns of the birds, and this one portended widespread death and destruction, leaving her feeling alarmed. Her mistress’s eyes reflected distress, as if she knew what was about to happen.

After a split second of eerie silence, a loud rumble roared through the land. The earth shook and rolled, sending hillside villas to the bottom in a pile of brick and dirt. The massive landslide ripped large trees from their roots in a strangled protest from the earth, the strangled cry filling Becuille with panic. Cretan ships in the harbor rocked and rolled like toy ships tossed errantly by a careless child. The thunderous sound of the crumbling houses crashed together with the piercing crack of ships’ masts. Even the sacred temples were not spared the mighty destruction of the Earthshaker. Tons of stone lay in teetering heaps, brightly colored frescoed walls in ruins. Fires erupted from overturned lamps, the orange flames writhing in rhythm to the swaying earth, destroying anything left intact.

Her mistress flinched, clutching Her head to stifle the screams of the victims, the people who still worshipped Her. Helpless, She could only wait. As fast as the shaking had begun, it ended, and a deafening silence choked the air. Clouds of smoke and dirt hung in the air like a threatening storm cloud and blocked out the sun. Standing on the terrace, overlooking the harbor of Amnisos, she sensed her mistress knew Her reign was coming to an end.

“So, will you submit to me now, Rhea?”

Zeus stood on the terrace, blue eyes twinkling with mirth.

Her mistress faced him with courage. “Young Zeus, you wear your inexperience like a flamboyant cloak. It will take much more for me to submit to you.”

Frowning, he moved closer. “The others have submitted to me.”

Her laughter filled the air. “That is what you are made to think.”

“You will submit to me!” His deep voice roared, shaking loose some small pebbles from the mountain above the terrace and cave entrance.

“Never!” She roared back, loosing more pebbles.

Becuille smiled at Her defiance of Zeus, not allowing him to be Her overlord, but she wondered why her mistress allowed him to call Her by a name She despised. Standing beside her mistress, she fixated her eyes on Zeus in a fierce stare, raising her wings in a threatening manner, conveying the formidable nature of a predatory bird. She matched his great height, staring unblinking into his eyes.

“Will you loose your obedient hound on me?” Laughter filled his voice. “So, Daughter of Night, you think you can best me?”

She moved toward him with talons poised to fight, but Brizo stepped in front of her and signaled her to stop. Obeying her mistress, she backed down, resorting to giving Zeus a menacing stare.

“I think it is time for you to take your leave,” Brizo said, and eyed Zeus with contempt.

“I will find a way to defeat you, Rhea, and my brothers and I will be the supreme rulers,” he said in a threatening voice, disappearing in a shower of black sparks.

“I rue the day I protected you from Cronos,” She shouted to the empty space, Her eyes filled with regret, which stung Becuille's heart.

“My queen, I have always wondered—why do you allow him to address you as Rhea when I know it is a name you despise?” Becuille stood next to Brizo, stroking Her hair. It was a gesture that usually calmed Her.

It had not escaped her notice that her goddess still felt something for the young god, Zeus. Even when Brizo's arms stroked her body and showered her with soft kisses, Becuille felt a distance between them. She was her goddess's servant and she knew she would never be seen as Her equal, but she could not understand how Brizo could still feel love for a man who had betrayed Her and wanted to be Her overlord.

Zeus was an arrogant godling that needed to be put in his place, but her mistress could not completely destroy him. Brizo had the capability to be vengeful, punishing mortal and immortals that disobeyed Her, but She was weak when it came to the young god.

“Because that is how he knows me.” Her mistress’s eyes took on a faraway stare, Her voice sounded reflective. “I am known and invoked by many different names in many different lands. In the south, I am known as Au Set, whom the Achaeans call Isis, to the east, Cybele. I was Ninsurhag in Sumer. And for each invasion of the northern raiders, I am given a different name. I was Gaea and now I am Rhea. Here, they also call me Mother Dia. The Pelasgians called me Danu, and then the Achaeans called me Eurynome. On the mainland, I have other names as well.” She turned to Becuille. “And when you first laid eyes on me you called me Brizo.”

“You were as enchanting to me as the lady moon, so beautiful.” She brushed her finger against Brizo’s cheek, gazing with deep affection at Her radiant beauty.

Brizo’s expression remained thoughtful. “And that is my favorite name for I am no longer as I was before so it matters naught what others wish to call me.”

She looked on Becuille with pride and love, which sent a warm sensation through Becuille's body, basking in her mistress's devotion.

“You fought so bravely against those first northern invaders, dying to save my temple when the others fled.” She paused. “I was about to give up after my lands were ravaged, but seeing how fiercely you fought...you gave me the strength to go on.” Brizo’s eyes took on a pensive light. “If Zeus discovers the secret of the star metal, his human armies will be powered with iron swords, stronger than any bronze, and they will rise above. Already, I can see Poseidon's followers, the Mycenaean kings, the longhaired Achaeans, gathering their warriors and boarding their ships. The Cretan king is dead. I can feel it. If not crushed by the crumbling walls, then by a cruel sword blade. The Mycenaean kings will rule Crete now.”

Becuille shuddered, recalling pieces of the horrible memories of those first invaders, of her death. She knew Zeus's armies had already taken over Her sacred oracle shrines of Dodona and Delphi. She pictured the Mycenaean warriors in their fierce boar tusk helmets, their hearts pulsing with war. As terrible as this change was, at least they still adhered to the Great Goddess's ways. It was Zeus's followers, the ones in the mountainous regions in the north and northwest of the mainland, that were a bigger threat, and Zeus had gained ground in Athens, raising a direct threat to Crete.

Gazing at the damaged cities and ports, sadness, as much as she could feel as a vengeance goddess, tugged at her heart mirrored by the sadness she knew filled Brizo’s heart. Sorrow dimmed Her brilliant eyes. “It hurts me to see you so sorrowful, my queen.”

Brizo sighed. “Time is moving too fast, and I feel I have lost control.”

“Is it Zeus who covers your heart with sorrow?” Becuille moved closer, wanting to comfort Her.

“He is at the core of it all, yes.” Brizo’s sorrowful expression deepened to gloomy. “But there are others that conspire against me.”

“The people will still revere you as the Mother Goddess.” She did her best to reassure her mistress.

“For now.” Brizo gazed out at the destruction. “My people are divided, scattered in different directions, lost, and more people will flee to other lands.” She grew quiet for a moment before speaking again. “I think Zeus senses something just as I do. He was acting more arrogant than usual.”

Becuille's senses stirred. Something did not feel true.

She followed Brizo into Her sacred cave, gazing at the fallen altar. The effigies in Her image that Her followers had left lay crumbled on the hard, rocky ground. Even Her sacred temple had not been spared the wrath of Poseidon, the Earthshaker. Only one of Her creations would have such powers to rival Her own, Becuille thought, knowing it filled Her with bitterness though She would never speak of it out loud.

Beyond the altar room, the only area visible to mortal eyes, a hidden doorway opened to an oblong room with multiple tunnels to other rooms. Water trickled down from a crevice in the reddish rock, filling a concave depression with clear water, so full of life and hope. Torches lined the walls in sconces, flickering in the dimness, revealing a sitting room with comfortable pelt-lined benches and hard floors softened with tawny lion pelts surrounding a central hearth fire. A sweet smoky scent lingered in the damp, chilly air of the cave, curls of smoke floated upward in a spiral pattern toward the high stalagmite ceiling. The comforting scene felt far removed from the chaos now tormenting Her favorite city of Knossos.

Silver cups, amphorae of wine and wicker baskets brimming with grapes, apples and melons sat on a low oak table. Bronze tipped spears and shields hung on the wall in a star-like pattern, glinting in the fire glow, with the spears representing the powerful sun’s beams. Painted spirals in wide strokes of red, white and yellow gave color to the dreary, dun-colored walls.

Grabbing an oil lamp, Brizo headed toward a passageway. Becuille followed her mistress down the tunnel that descended into the mountain’s core. Warm, humid air clung to her skin. A strong earthen smell permeated the narrow, dark passage. Occasionally, a chill, damp wind blew through the tunnel brushing her cheeks with a frozen caress.

The secret chamber lay in eerie silence. Bronze masks, sconces in the shape of fierce dragons and lions, glowed like lava rocks against the slippery cave walls. On one wall, a lavish hanging of the island with its dark blue water in the foreground, wooded hillsides and tall mountains filling the distant skyline, gave the dismal room a cheerful air. A comfortable box bed piled with colorful woolen blankets filled the room along with a wooden bench and low table. An alder flute lay on the table among baskets of fruit and honey bread. An amphora of wine and a silver cup, filled to the brim with dark wine, sat untouched. Slumped on the bed underneath the pile of blankets, Celmis appeared to be asleep. He lay on his side. His long black hair concealed his face and one nut colored, calloused hand splayed next to his head.

“He looked like that the last time I checked on him,” Becuille whispered, watching Celmis with wary eyes.

“Celmis, wake now,” Brizo ordered, approaching the bed. Celmis remained still. Throwing off the blankets, She peered at the Dactyl.

The bronze ankle cuff and chain that allowed him to roam the room were still attached to his thick ankle, and nothing seemed amiss except he contained no aura, no spirit within.

Brizo touched his shoulder and the Dactyl’s body withered, disintegrating into dust. Her face tightened in disbelief, Her fingers clutched the mattress where once Celmis had lain.

“It was nothing but a husk,” Becuille gasped. “Zeus!” she exclaimed, feeling her ire rise.

Brizo continued to stare at the pile of dust. “Zeus does not have the power to penetrate my sanctuary. The dragons would have stopped him or at least warned me. It had to be one of my own—one of the Titans.”

“Is this what we have been waiting for?” Becuille knew one day that Brizo would be betrayed by one of Her own in such a way that it would destroy them all.

Celmis's disappearance portended danger. Of the ten Dactyl’s that served Brizo, Celmis was the Dactyl that knew the secrets of the star metal, how to smelt it and make it the strongest metal. No mortal or any other god or goddess had that knowledge. Star metal was fatal to Her and the other Titans since it was a metal not naturally of the earth. Zeus, as a younger god and a Sky god, could easily wield iron, and if his mortal armies were to wield the invincible metal, they would overpower Her people. With the knowledge of the star metal came magic that made the kingdom that controlled it invincible. That was why Celmis had been hidden away in Her secret chamber.

“It would seem so.” Brizo turned from the bed, grim-faced. “Now Celmis's essence is gone and could be in any human form.” She paced the chamber. “I wonder, which of the Titans, my sisters and brothers still remaining here, would be foolish enough to allow the secret of the star metal to get out?” She glanced at Becuille. “No, Zeus does not know about this. He is unable to contain himself. He would have flaunted it in my face. Whoever did this does not want either of us to know, but Zeus does sense something is amiss. If he finds Celmis before I do...”

Becuille saw her mistress shudder for the first time. Staring at the pile of dust that used to be Celmis, she said, “He will not. We will find Celmis and the one who betrayed you.” She clenched her fists in determination, then reached out to comfort Brizo.

“But it will never be the same again for us, I fear.” She allowed Becuille to take Her into her arms, comforting Her with soothing kisses and gentle strokes.

Becuille's heart stabbed with pain for the sorrow Brizo carried inside. “I will do whatever is needed to get him back.”

“I know I can trust you above all the others,” She whispered, brushing Her lips against Becuille's neck.

The kiss awakened her cravings for carnal delights. Cupping Brizo's head in her hands, Becuille kissed Her on the lips, savoring the sweet, honeyed taste that stirred her desires. She wanted more than a few lingering kisses. Her body ached with need, wanting to feel her naked skin against Brizo's supple body.

Brizo pulled away. “I need to be alone now.” Her curt tone implied that it was a command, mistress to slave.

The rejection stung her, but she obeyed as she always did. She left the room, her heart heavy with pain and disappointment that Brizo could not open Her heart and always kept her at a distance. An immortal shouldn't feel such pain, but Becuille had not always been immortal—she had been human once.