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*includes a digitally signed, printed author note*


The wheels of Fate have started to turn…

When an unknown plague starts to decimate the Earth, Cassius Black and Morgan King soon realize they’re dealing with something not of the human world. As their allies gather in San Francisco to try and determine the cause of the contagion, unwelcome news reaches Morgan’s ears. The Dryad kingdom has come under attack by an unknown enemy. 

Forced into making a difficult choice, Cassius and Morgan part ways to deal with both crises. But the battles in Ivory Peaks and on Earth end up costing the couple more than they could ever have imagined, bringing them face to face with powerful enemies from their past. On the edge of despair, Cassius finds hope in the arrival of an unexpected group of deities. Goddesses who are related to both Morgan and Victor Sloan by more than just Fate. 

Cassius learns of the twisted threads of destiny that bind them all and discovers the latest peril they face is of Elios’s making. When he’s told by the Goddesses that the only way to end the God of Darkness’s deranged scheme is to find a legendary item lost to the tides of time, Cassius vows to stop at nothing to locate it, whatever the sacrifice. 

Format  Paperback
Pages  314
ISBN  978-1-912834-34-1
Dimensions  5 x 0.70 x 8 inches
Publisher   Silver Orb Publishing
Language  English
Edition  Second Edition, February 2024


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Wicked - Fallen Messengers Short Story Collection


Five hundred years ago, the Seventh Purgatory

The distant screams of the damned echoed dimly in Atropos’s ears as the chains holding her prisoner bit into her ankles and wrists. The dark shackles tightened, slicing into her flesh, the hateful susurration the links made as they writhed against one another grating rawly on her nerve endings.

Even though three hundred years had passed since she and her sisters had been locked up in Purgatory by the God of Darkness, Atropos still hadn’t gotten used to the damn sound.

Sweat dripped from her chin and splashed onto the rock beneath her bare feet, dark blotches hissing and evaporating almost as soon as they formed. She shook her head lightly to clear the eternal grogginess clouding her mind. The effort cost her what little strength she had managed to garner in the past hour, her skull so heavy upon her neck it felt like it would fall off at any moment.

Hotness stained her skin, distracting her from the bleak thoughts spinning endlessly through her subconscious. Her breaths shuddered in and out of her as she twisted her head a fraction to look at her left arm. She clenched her teeth.

Elios’s corrupt fetters seemed almost gleeful as they absorbed the red ichor and divine energy draining from her immortal body. It was one of the ways their treacherous brother had grown his powers since he’d imprisoned them down here. And it was helping him control her and her eight sisters, amongst other things.

Inky lines shivered under her flesh next to where the chains bound her, the eerie apparitions pulsing in tandem with the seed of darkness Elios had wedged deep inside her body to suppress her soul core.

Atropos swallowed down bile and dragged her gaze from the ghastly evidence of the abomination her brother had visited upon her, her head hanging heavy once more. Sulfurous fumes stung her eyes and burned her nostrils as she blinked sweat out of her lashes. Had she been in full possession of her godly powers, they would not have irritated her so.

Determination brought a fresh surge of life through her veins. Soon. It will be over soon. We shall escape this accursed place and deliver the Fate that bastard truly deserves!

A chorus of voices danced through her skull at that thought. Yes, sister!

Atropos’s heart pounded at the fury they contained, her sisters’ emotions mirroring her own rage. She lifted her chin with some difficulty and gazed across the vast crater surrounding the rocky outcrop she was chained upon.

Even with her divine vision, she could barely make out the boulders they were bound to through the thick, yellow clouds pouring out of the giant gulfs of spitting lava that defined the hellish landscape of the Seventh Purgatory.

Still, though she could not see them, her sisters’ voices lent her the strength she needed to continue pouring what little divine energy she could access across the tenuous bond that linked her to Lachesis, the second of the Moirai, and to Tenebra, the eldest of the Black Fates, also known in Heaven and the Hells as the Keres.

Atropos focused and cast her mind out to the Goddesses trapped in the Underworld with her. Are you nearly ready, sisters?!

Clotho replied first. Yes. The thread is almost spun.

Relief laced with urgency resonated through Atropos. Of the two conditions they needed to achieve their escape, the youngest Moira’s task was the most important.


The eldest Black Fate finally answered. I am almost done too, sister.

Despite Tenebra’s steady tone, Atropos could hear a trace of pain in her voice. Frustration gnawed at her insides. The Black Fate’s duty was the more arduous one for sure.

I’m sorry, Ten.

It was a moment before Tenebra spoke. You have nothing to be sorry about, Attie. None of this was your fault.

Guilt tightened Atropos’s chest. Though she knew her sisters did not blame her for their wretched fate, there was no denying she might have been able to stop Elios had she acted in time. Her nails bit into her palms.

I should have cut that snake’s throat the second I sensed his intentions!

I’m not sure about that, Attie, Lachesis said in a strained voice. I am pretty certain Hypnos would have stopped you.

Atropos swallowed. The second Moira was right.

Bitterness welled up inside her at the thought of Elios’s twin. And look where our foolish brother ended up.

Her sisters stayed silent at her sour words. Hypnos’s fortune was even worse than their own. Elios had shown his twin no mercy despite the latter’s steadfast loyalty and blind affection over the millennia of their existence.

A flash in the sky caught Atropos’s eye. She tilted her head, the muscles in her neck quivering with the effort of that simple act. Her pulse quickened as she observed the fading brilliance rippling across the crimson firmament.

It could only mean one thing.

It has begun!

Tension oozed through her as her sisters’ feelings resonated with her soul.

Tisiphone’s voice quavered a little. Is there a chance he might actually win?

The third Fury could not stop the hope lacing her words.

Though her sisters could not see her, Atropos shook her head, her heart leaden with remorse. No. The Awakener will lose this war. For it is his Fate. He must fall to Earth with the others. And so it has to be, for all that is yet to come.

A grim hush fell across her bond with her sisters.

Pity, muttered Alecto, the first Fury. I always wanted to have a taste of that demigod. He is ripe for the taking.

A chorus of groans echoed inside Atropos’s head. She bit back a sigh.

Orena, the youngest Black Fate, sounded appropriately disgusted. I can’t believe you’re letting your loins do the thinking right now, you shameful Goddess!

Oh, come now, Rena, Alecto retorted, undaunted. Don’t tell me you haven’t wondered what it would be like to bed the North Star?

I have to admit to having been curious about this too, mused Kes, the second Black Fate. Of course, there is no way in the Nine Hells Ivmir would ever let us find out how sweet a morsel Icarus is. That foulmouthed brother of ours is like a dog with a bone when it comes to his lover.

Megaera, the second Fury, sniffed. Ivmir is a dimwit.

Hear, hear, said Tisiphone.

Atropos sagged against her chains. Now is hardly the time to be talking about this, sisters. We have to—!

Heat flared through her chest, drawing a gasp from her lips. The sound was echoed by the rest of her sisters.

I am done! Tenebra exclaimed triumphantly.

A golden light flared north of Atropos’s location. Her eyes widened, the hope pouring through her so strong it choked her lungs.

She could feel her connection with the eldest Black Fate growing stronger.

Tenebra’s tone hardened. Bear with me, sisters. This will hurt for but a moment.

Pain engulfed the very heart of Atropos as Tenebra’s Rot gripped the dark seed within her. She doubled over, blood pearling on her lip where she’d bitten it.

This is but a fraction of what Tenebra has endured all these years. I must weather it!

A grunt escaped her throat as the Black Fate started destroying Elios’s hold upon her from the inside out. She ground her teeth, the agony of the assault threatening to tear apart her very being.

She could feel her sisters’ hurt across their bonded minds and souls.

Tears sprang to her eyes, not so much from the torment ripping through her and her beloved kin as from regret. A regret she would have to live with forever more.

It has taken too long! I should have put this plan in action three centuries ago! Maybe—maybe we could have stopped what’s coming!

Don’t do this to yourself, Attie, mumbled Tisiphone, her voice thin with pain. You may be a Goddess of Destiny but you are not infallible. None of us is!

Her tortured words were a brief balm upon Atropos’s wretched heart.

Just a little more, sisters! Tenebra growled.

Atropos shuddered as the Black Fate’s divine energy seared her soul. Elios’s black core finally shattered, the sound so loud it resonated through every cell and fiber of her body and drew a scream from her lips. Power flooded her with her next heartbeat, robbing her of breath, the taste so sweet and wonderful after going so long without it she could only sob.

The dark chains that had held her captive for three hundred years hissed and dissipated as they fell, the God of Darkness’s corrupt shackles vanishing in the divine light throbbing from her flesh. Her gold, laurel crown bloomed into life upon her head at the same time dazzling white wings unfurled from her back.

Points of radiance dotted the distance as her sisters regained their godly powers.

It had taken one hundred years for Tenebra to rot the corrupt kernel within herself. One hundred years of slowly and agonizingly chipping away at the evil energy entrapping her soul, every nick and scratch likely filling her with immeasurable agony.

Atropos knew what it must have cost the Black Fate to achieve this almost unsurmountable feat. She fisted her hands.

I will not let her efforts go to waste!

A storm bloomed above her as she rose from her prison and converged on her sisters, the wind whistling in her ears and ruffling her long, silver hair. Dark clouds were rushing across the firmament, the formations twisting in eldritch shapes that heralded what was to come. Lightning cracked, the accompanying thunder so loud it rattled Atropos’s teeth.

The Nether was about to tear, just as she had foreseen.

They met in the center of the crater and clasped and kissed each other for long minutes, their faces full of tears, the love that existed between them brightening their bond. Though they had been given different titles and tasks upon their creation, they would always be tied by their affection for one another.

“How goes the thread, Clo?” Atropos asked urgently.

Clotho smiled and showed them her hand. In it was the gold thread she had been spinning for the past hundred years. “It is finished, sister.”

Relief rushed through Atropos. She shuddered and briefly closed her eyes.

She had known the task she had given the youngest Moira would be nigh impossible. To spin a different Fate for them was technically forbidden. But, considering the Gods of old continued to hide in the Heavens and had done nothing to stop Elios, Atropos had decided bending the laws that ruled them was justifiable in this instance.

They can punish me all they want afterward. Atropos squared her shoulders. And I shall tell them what I think of them straight to their cowardly faces!

Tenebra’s Rot had freed them from Elios’s hold. But it was the Fate Clotho had created for them that would ensure their escape from the prison where Elios had trapped them. They just needed the right distraction to keep the God of Darkness’s eyes away from the Seventh Purgatory long enough for them to make their getaway.

The ground trembled as the havoc in the Nether reverberated across all the realms. Giant slabs of rock detached from the walls of the crater and crashed down with dull roars. Debris and dust filled the air, casting turbulent billows in the sulfurous clouds filling the depression and exposing the lava bubbling violently from the crevasses snaking across the hellish landscape.

“Here they come,” warned Kes.

Figures loomed into view atop the distant cliff's edge. More crowded the sky. They encircled the Goddesses’ prison, their number some five hundred strong. Atropos’s knuckles whitened.

The regiment of war demons and the thirty Nephilim and Cyclops Elios had tasked with guarding them looked daunting even at a distance. Fury ignited her blood as her brother’s face swam before her eyes.

She reached out a hand to her right. “Come!”

A pair of giant, golden shears shimmered into existence in her palm, the weapon manifesting from where it had lain hidden within her soul. She gripped the handles and separated the blades to form two deadly sabers.

Her sisters’ weapons appeared in their grasp, their faces full of the same rage burning through her.

“Wait for it,” Atropos warned.

The disruption in the sky accelerated. An uncanny light pulsed through the inky formations roiling above them.

Any second now!

Atropos’s ears popped when a deafening silence befell them. Her heart slammed a rapid tempo upon her breastbone. She could sense the same hush spreading across every realm connected to the Nether.

The space where the four Guardians lived and carried out their duties to protect them all from the Abyss fractured with a noise that heralded the ending of worlds. Violent quakes shook the Seventh Purgatory. The land beneath them started to split.

A dark crack tore across the sky.

“NOW!” Atropos barked.

They shot out of the crater and arrowed toward the fracture line high above them, nine points of golden light that caused sonic booms to rip the sulfur-laden atmosphere. Nine Goddesses full of the wrath gathered over half a millennium and the iron-clad determination to best the foul God who had intended to trap them in that hellhole for eternity.

The war demons and the Nephilim moved. Crimson radiance bloomed in the Cyclops’ eyes as they directed their deadly gazes at them, their mouths opening to release their paralyzing screams.

Blood and ash clouded the space around Atropos as she and her sisters transformed and engaged the monsters who would stop them, their dresses morphing into gold armor that shielded them from the neck down while their crowns extended into winged helmets that framed their faces. The divine power they emanated canceled out the soundwaves the Cyclops directed at them, just as their speed evaded the monsters’ beams.

The Furies’ brass-studded scourges found their targets with unerring accuracy, their black wings cracking the air like thunder as they flew straight and true. Clotho’s spinning staff and Lachesis’s rod cracked skulls and limbs where they danced between their enemy. Atropos whizzed around the war demons and the Nephilim, her golden blades carving their flesh to the bone.

“We cannot be tardy!” she shouted as she sliced off the heads of two fiends and smashed another one in the face with the handle of a saber. “That opening will close soon!”

She indicated the tear in the Nether. Her sisters nodded grimly.

A giant stone club whooshed past Atropos’s left flank. Her scowling gaze found the Nephil beneath her. Though the creatures could not fly as fast nor as high as the war demons, they more than made up for it with their formidable strength.

Tenebra and Kes smashed into the giant and raked his face and eyes. The Black Fates had taken on their full forms, those of terrifying, bloodthirsty Goddesses of Death with wicked talons as long as their forearms. Shadows boiled around their inky wings as they slipped through the silent Nephil’s attacks, their movements so fast only someone with divine powers could detect them.

Atropos silently thanked her sisters and focused on the war demons who stood between them and their escape route.

“To me! We do this together!” she barked. “No one gets left behind!”

Divine strength flooded every cell of her body and thrummed across her bond with the other Goddesses as they converged on her location. They ascended as one through their opponents’ ranks, their weapons tearing through flesh and bones and wings until their faces and armor were drenched in blood. But though they fought valiantly, their progress remained agonizingly slow in Atropos’s eyes.

Frustration churned her stomach. Damn it! At this rate, the Nether will—!

The sky rippled above her. Terror squeezed Atropos’s heart. Her worst fears were being realized. The crack was starting to close.

“Go!” Tenebra yelled.

She dropped toward the war demons and Nephilim closing in on them, her face full of grim purpose. Clotho, Lachesis, and two of the Furies, Alecto and Megaera, followed her.

“Noooo!” Atropos screamed. “Come back!”

Orena and Tisiphone grabbed her arms as she made to go after them.

“It is better that some of us make it out of here than none of us does,” Kes said in a strained voice where she floated beside her.

“She’s right, Attie.” Tisiphone’s knuckles blanched on her scourge. She met Atropos’s tearful gaze before glaring at the war demons in their path. “Take heart, sister. Elios will not kill them. Upon my honor as a Goddess, we shall come back and free our kin!”

The firmament shuddered as the tear in the Nether continued to seal itself. Atropos faltered for a timeless moment before nodding jerkily. Her gaze shifted forlornly to the five Goddesses fighting to secure their escape.

Her sisters were right. It was better that some of them escaped this place and made plans to defeat Elios, rather than all of them becoming his eternal prisoners.

The four of them ascended toward the shrinking rift in the sky. Their chests heaved and their breaths shuddered out of their bodies in labored gasps and grunts as they worked their way through the troop of war demons trying to stop them, their weapons growing slippery with black blood.

By the time they reached the tear that would lead them out of the Seventh Purgatory, Atropos’s limbs were trembling from exhaustion. She cast a final look at the Goddesses far beneath them before she entered the rift, her heart heavy and her soul bruised.

“We shall return, sisters!” Her voice broke. “We shall be together once more!”

“Take care, Rena!” Tenebra shouted at her youngest sister before ripping a war demon to shreds. “Watch over her, Kes!”

Tears streamed down Orena’s face as she beheld her eldest sibling. Kes took her hand, her chin quivering.

“Stay strong, Tis!” Alecto and Megaera yelled at Tisiphone.

Tisiphone nodded and sniffed.

“Be well, Attie!” Lachesis called out.

Clotho met Atropos’s gaze, her eyes bright with affection. “I love you, sister.”

Their figures disappeared amidst the crowd of teeming war demons and Nephilim surrounding them as the rift closed.

Darkness and silence engulfed the four Goddesses who had escaped Purgatory.

Tisiphone’s expression was haggard with fatigue and the pain of losing their kin. “What now?”

“We find somewhere safe for us to rest and restore our divine energy.” Atropos swallowed, grief giving way to a resolve that would not be broken. “Then we search for our allies.”

They stared sorrowfully at the space where the tear in the Nether had sealed in on itself before twisting around and heading into the gloom.

“We shall return, sisters,” Orena whispered. “Wait for us.”

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