Khaos: Saga of the God-Killers

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Logline or Premise
A misguided student of theology named Cassandra has disturbed a sleeping Titan. As a horde of malevolent gods unleashes against the world, it will be left to Cassandra to wield the powers of eternity as she attempts to save those she loves.

(the first 3,000 words of the novel are enclosed below)

First 10 Pages



Through streets of cobblestone, Cassandra rode onward. Proud spires and stained glass, the fifty colleges of Newheaven interlocked into a city of self-contained academic fortresses. Dark banners snapped silently among the pinnacles. Paralyzed in the depths of chiseled rock, the sculpted thinkers of her race stood glorified along the colonnades, and they watched as she passed.

The crowds began to part as her battle-ready procession neared the gateway. Soon, she would be moving beyond those final glimpses of her home and her arrogant kin—out towards the beckoning thresholds of the atlas. Her heart drummed its hollow rhythms. She wanted to dismount and run back to her college. She wanted to hide among the libraries and the quiet courtyards until the expedition had vanished. It was almost spring, and she wanted to see the cherry blossoms. But driven forward by all her worldly ambitions, she could not turn back.

She carried a scroll in her possession, and the name of the Titan was elucidated therein. The Wretched Lord, they called him—Insensate Lord, Prince of Delirium, Annihilation, The Everlasting Anarch—Khaos. The jaws of the gate unhinged, and Cassandra heard her own name spoken.


Driving a spear of light through his brother, they fell headlong, wrestling and flaming through the ethereal heavens, boundaries and patterns wrapping and detonating against their plummeting forms. A silent vista of all that was rocked by an explosion of matter. Swirling fumes, burning skies, the afterglow of half-risen consciousness. The spinning system into which Khaos smashed—bound and drunken and dreaming—became known as Earth.

- On the Genesis of the Deities

Chapter 1

The Mountain was filled with visions. Somewhere beyond its craterous peaks, a woman found herself lying on a hillside with her gaze fixed upward against the sky. Words of uncertain origination receded from her mind. A vast wasteland reared in a riot of dead and darkened shapes around her. “I am Cassandra,” she said. “Trained orator and envoy of Newheaven, selected from hundreds of theologians to kill this God.”

None of it sounded real.

Flaming trees toppled along the charred earth. The ashes drifted in, and they gathered against her recumbent form. How many weeks had passed since their expedition reached that apocalyptic forest? And all those men sworn to protect her, Julian, Thrace, Nicodemus. Had they truly abandoned her there? No, not there—someplace deeper. Tremulous, her hands roamed, searching with a growing sense of alienation. Her flintlock pistol was empty. Her satchel was torn. Within it, she felt the scroll upon which she had gambled her life and drawing this forth, she saw that its seal had indeed been broken.

“I am Cassandra,” she gasped.

The atmosphere burned in waves of purple fire. The wind picked up, and the thunderheads glowed with hieroglyphs, but Cassandra looked only to her gun. There is a place where the word loses all power. Where the past rises mute and crumbling out of incommunicable horror, a place where the mind loses all reference. She felt this as an unstoppable expansion within herself.

Taking up the pistol, she pressed it under her chin.

She was twenty-three years old.

“I am,” she said. “I am, I am, I am.”

The patterns of her speech echoed in the rhythmic cock and snap as she pulled the trigger. A dimensionless pit—the central emptiness of the universe—now breathed within her. She had beheld Khaos in the hideous throes of his eternal sleep, and eternity was annihilating Cassandra’s mind.

Her expedition against the Titan had failed. No one was coming to rescue her, no one even knew that she was alive. So it was that Cassandra remained on the hillside and waited to die. She felt the ground, buried in ashes, throbbing beneath her. The wind blew over her body and the rain fell upon her face, but her lips did not part. Her thoughts had grown indistinguishable from the roots of the trees creeping into the black dome of the earth. When had it come to this? At what point had she become so lost in that infernal enterprise?


An image of the quest-giver returned to her. Dean of Theological Studies, his face so handsome and dignified yet tortured through the unknowable workings of his own intellect.

“Teacher,” she groaned, “why did you send me to this place?”

Her shame and confusion grew in continuity with the landscape. The environment seemed to be moving upwards. Trees pushed from the soil only to go up in a spray of flame as strange ozone issued from The Mountain. Cassandra took a breath, long and ragged, deep into her chest. Then fixing her mind on the man she once adored, she settled into the troubled dimensions of her former identity. She sat up on her elbow, struggling as she drank the contents of her waterskin to its finish. She went through her satchel and took what rations remained and ate them. Then she gathered her strength, and she stood.

“Diomed,” she said, “I am coming.”

A stream cut its whispering path along the bottom of a ravine, and she followed this past flickering tree trunks and temple columns engraved with warriors striving and falling in forgotten wars. The stream terminated in a small lake, and its surface shone as smooth as a mirror. Holding the sky in its reflection, it appeared before Cassandra like a well of purple fire.

“Hello,” she called.

On its central island, she saw the figure of a man, waiting beneath a pylon of broken stone.

She raised her empty pistol.


No, he had not come for her. And why should he squander his time looking for a fourth-year student of theology? He was the most sought-after professor in Newheaven, she his clinging pupil. To think that any relationship could be more than a source of humiliation was beyond baffling. Sensational girl, beloved girl—go on—prove yourself. Perhaps this was one of Cassandra’s lesser bodyguards from before the descent. Yet that too seemed unlikely. The earth had trembled through her dreams as though gods, not men, were assembled and marching, swarm on swarm of divine entities, crushing the earth underfoot.

Was this stranger a god?

A shard of crystal was lodged in the ground before him, and he gazed into it with a look of intense absorption. Two worlds now converged in a single space. Cassandra approached his island. The water was ankle deep, and the ashes of its shallow bottom bloomed with her footsteps.

“Hail to you son of Newearth,” she called.

No kingdom for the gods, neither settlement nor colony—this stranger was the embattled scion of an atheistic race. At the moment she attained his island, his eyes flicked and with singular speed he snatched a spear from the ashes, thrusting its bronze tip towards her heart.

“Hail daughter of Newheaven,” he answered.

The spearhead hovered midair, vibrating with its own lethal velocity.

Cassandra pushed it aside.

“Nasty way to address a lady,” she reprimanded him. Three inches from killing her at least, and beyond that, a whole inventory of subsequent offenses. The smell of his island. The greenish hue of his skin. That sacramental gash between his eyes. “But at least you can talk,” she admitted. “Where I come from, we call you people clods. Not the gentlest of terms to be sure, but neither was that the gentlest of greetings. We’re allies, you know. Is there a more fitting name by which I might address you?”

He tilted his head sideways, watching her.

“I have no name,” he answered.

“Well,” Cassandra said. “That won’t do. Tell me, how did a nameless, war-worshipping clod such as yourself come to be alone at the center of the Shatteredland? You’re one of those hermits, aren’t you?” She felt certain she had known this man though her memory could summon no context for such a relationship. This was not the man who had sent her away, nor was it any of the men who had abandoned her in the tunnels. He kept his spearpoint angled away from her chest. “Come now,” she said, and her voice softened. “You’re on trial, no doubt. Why do they send you clods here—to find yourselves?”

The hermit opened his left hand, gesturing to the object of his meditation.

“We are nothing,” he answered. “The world is nothing.”

For a moment, Cassandra could form no response. She felt the forests of the Shatteredland expanding endlessly around her. She felt the immensity of the trees and the lakes and that everlasting abyss beneath The Mountain. A rapid pulsation, all eternity compressed outward through a sequence of vanishing points. Then she looked into the crystal and within the clarity of those shimmering depths, she saw nothing of herself.

“I am,” she said. “I am, I am.”

She turned away from the empty reflection.

“The Trial of the Shard.”

Somehow, the idea of it stabilized her.

The hermit looked from the shard then back to her face. He had spent months in that place of exile, maybe years, never to wander abroad or seek out others like himself, but to stay in one spot, drawing his meager sustenance from pine needles. The misery of that narrative endeared him to Cassandra. “Still,” she said, “it must be nice for you getting so many chances to start again. I’ve read about your beliefs. All the Newearthean men seeking enlightenment through an endless cycle of rebirth, pilgrims to a violent creed. I admire your commitment in a way, but no one wants to be locked up inside an invisible temple. Come, your trials are at an end. We are going home.”

The hermit remained where he was.

Stepping forward, Cassandra kicked him in his ankles.

“Get up and walk.”

With a defiant flourish she moved away from his cloistered island, all the while sensing she had gone too far. What chance was there of a Newearthean hermit breaking his holy solitude to travel through the Shatteredland? Still less was the chance of her surviving that ordeal alone. Weariness overcame her body in sluggish, burning waves, and every cell in every tissue devoured itself as the universe slouched irrevocably towards its bleak annihilation. Better to give up and lie down. To die quietly in the ashes.

The powers of the Titan grew within her mind.

“You’re on the wrong path,” the hermit called after her.

She hesitated as she neared the shore, turning back to him.

“What did you say?”

The hermit shook his head then rose stiffly from his meditations.

He cleared his throat.

“Newheaven is north—you’re walking east.”

For the better part of a day, they sojourned through the forest together. Cassandra tried to read the map in her possession but could make no sense of it and so gladly left it to her companion to navigate the labyrinth of unmarked pathways. Though equal in power, Newheaven and Newearth had never built lasting friendship. Yet here in the Shatteredland they might profit from some spirit of cooperation so long as this young, monastic warrior, the hermit, submitted to her will.

A sun-bleached robe hung loosely over his skeletal frame. “I must admit,” Cassandra said further in the valley, “I’m positively smitten by the deep grooves of your ribs and spine. Still, I would ask you to clothe yourself fully in that rag, clod.”

The hermit ignored her. He stepped off the trail and scanned the burning forest, pressing a finger into the wound on his forehead as though it might help him discover the way.

“Does the word infection mean anything to you?”

He turned to look at her.

“Can I be honest with you for a moment? Your stench is frightful. Wash here in this stream before we move any further. Go on, get to it—I’ll look away.”

He refused.

She tried one last time further in the valley. “Your head wound makes my stomach turn. Did you do that? Tear a strip from your robe and cover it so I won’t have to look at it.”

But he refused once more.

Cassandra did not take well to this indifference and began to walk slowly. At times, she would stop moving altogether and sit down in the ashes, gathering her cloak about her and folding her hands in her lap. The hermit would return to her always and stare into her eyes.

Towards evening as the sun dipped among the burning clouds, the words of an old battle hymn came to the hermit’s mind. Retracing his steps, he knelt to watch Cassandra. I wish to see the wheat fields—so it went at the beginning, followed by an invocation of the nation’s ancestral soils and a call to transcendence.

He studied Cassandra’s face. Strange foreign woman. So unlike the sturdy women of his own nation—frail, blonde, tactless. And yet her eyes were empty. If not for the mystery of those empty eyes which signaled to the hermit profound levels of spiritual liberation, he would have abandoned her in the forest to die. To fall in with her, he knew, meant sacrificing the dignity of his own path homeward. “I am not your slave,” he said aloud. Nor was he under oath to take up arms on her behalf. Yet still he felt an urgent need to protect her. It was only then he sensed the change, something shifting in the tidal movements of his breath and mind. Cassandra stood alone, and the ashes of the forest floor lifted around her.

“Be always on your guard,” his father had told him. “God-sickness can overpower even the most disciplined of minds. Do not pass blindly into those visions, my son.”

Shutting his eyes, the hermit inhaled deeply into his diaphragm and squeezed down on his breath. It felt as though someone had dropped an ember into his stomach. He opened his eyes and beheld the mudbrick walls of Newearth, peaceful in the fading light. The smell of wet stone and tilled soil. As the hallucination solidified in sensory detail, he compressed the air more tightly. Eyes open again, his father at the door of their home, a look of uncertain pride passing over his war-scarred face and he beckoned him forth and called him son and he could smell lamb cooking and none of it was happening and the air was compressing and tightening in the pit of his stomach and his father was walking towards him and the air was burning like a furnace and it sought to escape and it could not because without an anchor deep inside the lie would win and the woman with the eyes that had made him feel that his trials were at an end would be lost. The hermit straightened his back and continued to hold his breath.

Cassandra was in Newheaven. She stood in the courtyard of her favorite library with a book of poetry in her hands, listening to the sound of nightingales and turning pages. The cherry blossoms were in bloom, and they complemented the place of study spectacularly, soft explosions of pink and white, a sweet shrapnel of petals drifting across the flagstones.

“Cassandra,” a voice said. “It’s you.”

She saw a man leaning against a tree, and she stiffened in his gaze.


He stepped towards her.

Cassandra had to adjust her memory to the fact that he was much taller than she recalled, even taller than the young man from Newearth. Where had the hermit gone? She felt within herself the energy to rip down these walls and see through all things to the horror of their secret cores. The vein between her eyes began to pound, and then a familiar aroma put her accelerating awareness to rest—the smell of good wine and old books. Mahogony, woodsmoke, long trips to foreign lands—Diomed’s scent. The spear he carried only reinforced Cassandra’s sense of homecoming.

She held out her hand to him.

“Why didn’t you come after me?”

A powerful force swept her backwards, and she could hear someone shouting as the book of poetry sliced her palm. “Focus on the pain!” Her consciousness began to split between hallucination and reality. New hands, rough and filthy, were forcing her back into the Shatteredland.

“Teacher!” she screamed.

But the hallucination had already failed.

At the center of a dark glade hemmed by burning trees, the hermit stood poised in battle stance before some towering god. Its black garments swept the earth like shadows, its eyes burned like twin stars dreaming in the depths of space. It pressed a spidery finger into the runic symbol on its forehead and the god expanded and the hallucination pulsed.

Even as the aura flowed over her perception, Cassandra felt the powers of Khaos stir within. The Mountain, The Sanctum, and all its branching tunnels. Cosmic realignment—energy hummed along her cells and sinews, quickening through the nerve centers. Redoubling, it streamed like an electric arc up through her spine, and the vein between her eyes pounded as if to explode. The god twitched as she beheld it, giving way round its edges into contrails of windblown ash.

“Enlightened master,” the hermit cried out. “Finish him!”

But the hallucination was growing stronger now, and Cassandra longed for her old self beyond the horrid faculties of eternity. She drowsed in fragrance and her beloved teacher was standing in the courtyard once more and calling her close and it sounded so lovely that all she wanted to do was sit beside him and feel the warmth of his body while the blossom petals drifted around them.

“I’ve forgotten,” he said to her, “all about that foolish expedition. No one ever believed you were strong enough to see it through, my girl. Stay here with me.”

She stood before him in the throes of a deep and psychological paralysis, watching him solidify.

“You are still my girl, aren’t you Cassandra?”

And to this she answered:

“I am.”