Huemac, a half-breed, covets ultimate power, but he needs two things—access to the royal family and an ancient artifact. He attains the former by seducing the Emperor’s sister, and then steals the latter.
Moctezuma, the newly crowned Emperor, comes from a long line of powerful gods known as Sin-Eaters. He desires peace among his people, but an ancient prophecy warns of war.
Huemac discovers the incantation to activate the fabled Athame of Souls, a mythical weapon capable of entrapping souls. His quest to rule is within his grasp. Only one thing stands in his way—Moctezuma.
Moctezuma blocked the gesture with a flat palm on Huemac’s chest and a slight frown. “You are rather exuberant in your greeting.” Though the admonition was terse, a gleam of amusement tinted his eyes. “You must have seen your lady love.”
Huemac forced a blush, then was surprised at how easily the heat rose in his cheeks. He inclined his head. Did he really need Moctezuma’s approval? “Yes.”
Moctezuma laughed. “Old friend, you do not have to pretend with me. I have seen the way my sister looks at you. She pretends indifference when you are near, but she cannot hide her glow of love.” He turned sober. “Have a care with her heart. If your intentions are not honorable, I shall be forced to sacrifice you in the pits.”
A long silence hung between the two. Huemac was first to look away. He swallowed the angry retort that burned like acid in his throat. How dare this half-breed threaten him with a death befitting mortals. The pits were for the entertainment of the gods, suitable for those who had fallen out of favor or displeased them, and yes, even used for lesser gods, but not one such as himself. Huemac was a god to be feared, a captain in the Emperor’s army only outranked by Tialoc and his second-in-command, Xochiti.
“I intend to give her all the honor due her,” Huemac vowed. And then to keep her on as a slave. After all, she did satisfy his needs. “She has persuaded me to wait until after your celebration to announce our relationship.”
Moctezuma winced. “Yes. All this fanfare and nonsense to be named successor as leader of our people. It is so unnecessary. I have tried to speak reason to my parents, but my pleas have fallen on deaf ears.”
The other male did not want the throne? That was surprising news. “Surely, you jest,”
“No. My brother would be better suited for the task, but my father insists that as first son, it is my birthright, regardless of blood.”
Huemac was one of a select group of people who knew of Moctezuma’s lineage. He was not a full-blooded god. He was a demi, the product of a god and a human woman. Even more important, Moctezuma was the descendant of a long line of Sin-Eaters. They were an ancient sect of gods charged with removing the sin from mortals and gods alike to aid their passage into an afterlife of paradise. And even fewer people knew Huemac had aided in Moctezuma’s rescue from some overzealous villagers intent on stoning the emperor-to-be to death.
Once he realized exactly who and what Moctezuma was, Huemac was determined to ingratiate himself into the royal family at any cost. He already led a privileged life, attending the finest schools, enjoying a portion of wealth and prosperity. Only one thing eluded him.