A Tale of Medea
Morgan St. Knight
Genre: Paranormal/urban fantasy
Number of pages: 276
Word count: 107,000
The ancient world's most notorious sorceress has just become the modern world's only hope for survival.
How do you fight a god of light who has been seduced by darkness? That’s the challenge Medea Keres must meet. Posing as a wealthy young heiress in modern day Atlanta, no one knows she is the original Medea, the sorceress from ancient Greek legends.
As priestess of the witch goddess Hecate, Medea is charged with hunting demons that would otherwise overrun the world. Now she must face a far greater adversary. One of the twelve shining Olympian gods has turned rogue, violating the edict against human sacrifice. As the body count quickly rises, Medea knows her enemy is getting stronger.
With the help of the underworld nymph Orphne and the hero-god Heracles, she must find a way to unmask the evil so that the other Olympians will take action.
But as she probes deeper into a blood-soaked labyrinth of suspense and intrigue, Medea finds a net of deceit and treachery that will require all of her cunning to escape.
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A form rose up between the two men on the table, as if it had been lying there all along. Dark and still amid the flashing power pouring out of me, it was perfectly black, the outline roughly human. There was no firm definition to the edges of the body. It flowed and rippled like onyx-colored water. Billowing clouds rose behind its back, shot through with thick reddish-black strands that throbbed unevenly like huge, ulcerated veins. The clouds resolved into vague wing-like shapes. Icy winds whipped through the room, snuffing most of the torches along the walls.
The voice was hissing, the single word almost breathless, as if it was uttered on an inhalation rather than exhalation. Pounding blows of dark energy assailed me, a relentless tide from an ocean of decay. The power flaring within me shuddered under the punishing attack.
The word rang within my skull as much as it echoed from the walls, the sibilance giving it a hint of something vaguely serpentine. It seemed my summons was not going to go unchallenged. It was the worst possible circumstance, and yet I felt oddly reassured. I knew this adversary wouldn’t have bothered appearing if there hadn’t been a strong chance my efforts would be successful.
“Yield, Thanatos!” I said through bared teeth, calling death by its ancient, though by no means its oldest name. I willed more energy from my center to push back its assault. I could show no fear, for it would be the one chink in my armor that Thanatos would find and exploit.
Fetid winds pummeled me, trying to force me to release my grasp on the two dead men. I knew if I broke contact with them for even an instant, Thanatos would be able to seal them off from me forever.
I wasn’t willing to give up now. Too much was at stake. I was going to get the answer I needed, once and for all.
I balled my hands into fists, clutching the hair of the men beneath me. I forced first one, then the other of my legs to lift up so I could struggle onto the table. “You want them back?” I yelled. “See what they bring with them!”
With a cry, I jerked their heads up so that they faced the hovering monstrosity in front of me. I changed the flow of my power, drawing it up rather than pushing it into the bodies, using it to suck the ram’s blood out of their stomachs. I concentrated with all my might, forcing the blood into jets that shot with blinding speed towards the living darkness.
The still-hot fluid hit home, and horrible screams pierced the air. They sounded like multiple sets of iron claws dragging on a blackboard in rapid succession. I’d guessed correctly. The one thing death cannot abide is life, and fresh blood is the essence of life itself.
There were huge rents in the darkness where the blood had eaten through the material form Thanatos had temporarily adopted. But the demon-like terror was not gone by a long shot. It wasn’t about to give up so easily. It closed the distance between us almost instantly, the head coming within inches of my own.
I struggled not to retch at the stench of rot that poured from the area where a mouth would be on a human. On this creature, it merely seemed to be an inky black aperture, darkness within darkness. It rippled slightly as another single word oozed from deep within it.
Numbness spread through my arms, and in a panic I looked down. I was still grasping the men, but I couldn’t feel my hands. It was a psychic assault. Nothing was actually wrong with my nerves or muscles. But if I didn’t maintain perfect control my hands could easily slip and let go of the prizes I was trying to win. Thanatos hadn’t been able to scare me into submission, so it was going to try another tactic.
Too bad we’d sacrificed a ram instead of a bull. If I had more blood to work with I might have been able to disintegrate the form of Thanatos entirely. But there wasn’t another easily accessible source of life-force.
Suddenly I remembered. Maybe I did have another weapon. I looked up. The bowl which had held the sacrificial blood was still floating above my head, right where I’d released it. It was caught up in the same nexus of power that surround me and the dead men. I recalled the word meaning “breath of life” engraved around the bowl, and understanding came to me. The words weren’t just decoration.
They were an incantation. The bowl itself was a magical object, and it was still coated in blood.
It was my only chance. I reached out with my mind, felt the shape of the bowl as clearly as if I held it within my own hands.
“Now!” I screamed, using my mind to thrust the bowl down. It struck the jet-black form of Thanatos directly in the middle. Cries of pain and anger that would have frightened devils erupted from the dark specter, so loud that I thought my head would shatter.
I felt the table jar as if we were in an earthquake, and it took all of my focus to maintain my hold on the dead men that lay on it. Their eyes were wide open now, their mouths working as if they were trying to say something. Hard to tell, but it could easily have been a look of terror on their faces. Well, no blame there. They’d died horrible deaths, and were now faced with new horrors when they should have been enjoying peace.
I thought the form of Thanatos might simply disappear, but I should have known better. Nothing is simple in battles like that. Instead, it shattered into myriad shards that shot in all direction, like thousands of tiny arrows.
My top ten favorite witches
Medea: Well, I’m writing a book series about her. She has to be at the top of my list! And with good reason. Flying around in a chariot drawn by dragons, half-nymph powers to bespell a lover, calling up fireballs and levitating while fighting demons—what’s not to like?
Morgan le Fay: Aside from the fact that my name is Morgan, she’s one of my faves because, like Medea, she is often misunderstood. In some legends she is a hellion bent on destroying King Arthur, but in many she is shown as a helper, especially after his last battle when she takes him to the island of Avalon.
Endora (played by Agnes Moorehead in “Bewitched”): That eye makeup! And the poofy red hair, and the propensity for flowing caftans. Who else could pull off an outfit of lavender and green? Make her mad, and you’re toast. Or a monkey. Or a donkey. But really, she just wanted the best for her daughter, and isn’t that what every good parent wants? Can’t mothers everywhere empathize with her just a little?
The Wicked Witch of the West: I’m not talking about the “reimagined” version in “Wicked”, I mean the version from the 1939 “Wizard of Oz” movie, played by Margaret Hamilton. Why do I like the Wicked Witch? Again, she’s a misunderstood woman. Someone dropped a house on her sister. Repeat: someone dropped a damn house on her sister! Then they stole the shoes off a dead woman’s feet! Put yourself in the Wicked Witch’s shoes, then imagine some little brat dancing off with the pretty red shoes YOU should have had. Wouldn’t you be mad?
Gillian Holroyd (Played by Kim Novak in “Bell, Book and Candle”): If you have not seen this 1958 classic, you absolutely must. It is a great movie. It’s especially nice to watch around Christmas, since that’s the season during which much of the film takes place. Gillian takes the reins when she sees a man she wants—never mind that he’s engaged to be married. You go girl!
Frances Owen (Played by Stockard Channing in “Practical Magic”): Hmmm, let’s see. She lives in a rambling old house with a gorgeous conservatory AND a kitchen big enough to cook for an army… doesn’t have a spouse holding her back thanks to that family curse…. eats chocolate cake for breakfast and has midnight margarita parties… yes, I could see spending my middle age like that. It works quite nicely.
Nancy Downs (Played by Fairuza Balk in “The Craft”): Before I settle into those nice middle age years living in a rambling house, I want to dance with the Devil. I want to be bat-s**t crazy, freak out my friends by walking across the ocean onto a beach littered with dead sharks churned up by a horrendous storm, float up into the air and scare the crap out of the poor fool who’s made me mad, the pointy toes of my boots scraping ominously on the floor as I glide towards him. Hell, I want to be able to fit into pointy-toed boots again. Impractical magic, I guess.
Sybil Leek: Unlike the other names on this list, Sybil Leek was a real woman, and a real witch. I mean that in the nicest way. She was one of the first practicing witches to come out of the broom closet in Britain, and in the 1960s she made her way to America. She authored several books, including “The Complete Art of Witchcraft” and “Cast Your Own Spell”. While not glamorous herself, she gave a lot of panache to witchcraft and made it cool.
Witch Hazel (Looney Toons): OK, total stereotype, but I have to give a nod to her. Saturday mornings were always a little brighter for me when one of her few adventures with Bugs Bunny came on.
Jonathan Corbis (Played by Ernest Borgnine in “The Devil’s Rain”): Yes, I know Satanism and witchcraft are two entirely different things, but I have to give space for at least one male on the list. And if you haven’t seen this 1975 B-movie classic, set aside a night to giggle over it. Aside from the blast of seeing Ernest Borgnine walking around as a goat-man, you get to see William Shatner and John Travolta in roles they’d probably rather forget. But YOU never will forget this movie.
To win, you just have to follow Morgan on Twitter @MorganStKnight and send a tweet that says "Entering giveaway for CoP". Only one tweet is necessary, but you must send that one tweet to know you're interested in entering the giveaway.
Additionally, Morgan will be giving away 2 copies of "Curse of Prometheus" each week of the tour. Everyone who enters for the Kindle giveaway on a given week is automatically entered for that week's book giveaway.
And yes, if you win a copy of the book, you are still in the running for the Kindle giveaway.
Morgan St. Knight live in Atlanta, and is a lifelong student of mythology, the occult, and comparative religion. With more than 25 years of experience as a journalist, Morgan enjoys the occasional foray into fantasyland to escape the grim realities of life. He is currently working on the sequel to "Curse of Prometheus" and is developing a second paranormal series which also takes place in the South.