{Story Sample} The World of Death’s Lover

Now that I’m done writing the story and have it published, I thought it would be fun to post a series of story samples from Death’s Lover. Welcome to Thanatos’ World.

The Story Sample:

The Hall of Judgment was a massive marble monstrosity of pillars, motifs, and slabs of black, gray, and white rock that was at once a reminder of the torments of Tartarus and the blessed peace of the Elysian Fields. Every soul that came to the Underworld passed through the colossal doors to the room beyond. The long, gloomy room seemed to stretch on and on, until one reached the fire burning near the end and the three thrones that rested just within the ring of light.

Upon the thrones sat the three Judges, tall and thin Minos, short and fat Aeacus, and Rhadamanthys who looked as old as time itself, and before each rested a book of names and deeds. Written within those pages were the accomplishments, both good and bad, of every soul that came before them. These were the actions upon which every man, woman, and child were judged and sentenced.

It was the duty of the guards standing beside the interior pillars to escort the souls to their final resting place. Some were escorted to the Elysian Fields to enjoy their own personal paradise. There were those who were taken to the River of Lethe, to drink the water that would make them forget the evils done to them in life. Others, whose crimes did not condemn them to Tartarus or bless them with paradise, were returned to the Asphodel Fields to wander in the mist, lost and alone, for a time. Then there were those evil souls whose crimes were deemed so heinous that their punishment could only be carried out in the prison cells of Tartarus.

Those souls Thanatos had to deal with, and he did so with the greatest pleasure. Men and women such as these creatures did not deserve the life Persephone had granted them, or the joys found in the Elysian Fields. Such souls deserved the torment that awaited them in Tartarus.

The shade before him cursed and screamed, fighting against the Chains of the Damned that bound him. They only tightened more, holding him. There would be no pardon for him.

“Silence!” Minos commanded.

The man’s mouth snapped shut with enough force to crack his teeth.

“For your crimes against the children of Junos and Hyeria, daughter of Hyperion, you have been sentenced to a thousand years of torment in the Pits of Tartarus. Your cell has been prepared for you, and your punishment is to relive your victim’s pain as if it were your own. May the Lord Hades and the Lady Persephone have mercy on your corrupt soul.”

The book slammed shut, and the judges rose from their thrones of lustrous white, muted gray, and murky black. They turned their backs on the man, a sign of their contempt for a shade that deserved to be destroyed.

Thanatos tugged on the chains, dragging the man from the Hall and down the black path to Tartarus. The shade followed behind, jerking against the chains, fighting every step, not that it did him any good. The enchanted Chains of the Damned would draw him like a moth to a flame. He was the moth and the Pits of Tartarus was flame. There was no escape, not for a murdering bastard like him.

The craggy black fortress loomed before them, growing ever nearer and larger. Tartarus was carved from the very stone around it and reeked of the evil housed inside. The ground became barren and blackened, unable to support the life Persephone had given to the Underworld.

The heavy gates swung soundlessly open, and the man fought harder. Thanatos ignored him, they always struggled. This one was no different than the others he’d brought here.

But there was a difference in the air around him. The pain and desperation, the hopelessness and sorrow that was almost a living creature around Tartarus, was tainted by a hint of anticipation and conviction.

He scanned the area around him, picking out the minute details. The sword lying on the ground beside the boulder. The lack of guards who usually came to greet him and inquire about the prisoner. The archers who did not appear on the wall.

He reached out with his other senses, seeking out the daemons, monsters, and shades. Few were where they were supposed to be. He found daemon guards in the cells and the shades walking free.

The prisoners, some of the worst monsters ever to walk the Earth, had been liberated, and it was up to him to get more information on the situation. He needed to know who they were up against if he was to keep his daughters and Lilith safe. He just prayed Adman wasn’t one of the freed. That was a disaster he could do without.

He kept moving, tracking the movements around him. If they thought him trapped just because they had him surrounded, they were more foolish then he suspected. But then they were human shades, unknowing in the ways of daemons and gods.

“Welcome to my prison, Thanatos.”

A chance meeting changed the course of their lives…
Thanatos is no stranger to death. He’s seen every possible way there was to die. He’s lived with it day after day, century upon century, collecting the souls of dead mortals and taking them to the Underworld for judgment. An endless routine of tiresome duty and resounding loneliness that echoed in his heart, until she came into his life…

A second meeting will change their hearts and souls…
Saved by a stranger, Lilith never forgot the mysterious man who gave her the chance to blossom into the strong woman with a spirit of fire and a heart of ice, anymore than she can the lessons of the past. She must hide her secrets deep and never get close to anyone. Sex is merely a means to an end, and pleasure isn’t something to share with a lover, until he came back into her life…

What happens next will change the Underworld….
Lilith’s ability to see a person’s death has attracted the attention of the warlord, Adman, and seals her fate. He will do anything, kill anyone, to possess her talent. And the only one standing between him and Lilith is Death himself. Thanatos will break every ancient law, and even a few newer ones, to save her, and in the end it might cost them both their lives.

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Published © August 2014 by Stephannie Beman
Cover and Layout copyright © 2013 by Ruis Publishing
Cover design by Stephannie Beman/Ruis Publishing
Cover art copyright © Veronika Galkina and Zastavkin | Dreamstime.com