In my May update, I promised a new sneak peek from the conclusion of City of the Gods. M. Scott Verne and I have been fiercely writing the third book, Ambassador, and the time has come to treat our trilogy’s fans to another preview. The following scene features the deities Shiva and Lamasthu – and contains no spoilers for those who may have not yet read Forgotten or Guardian. I invite you to join the gods aboard Shiva’s flying Vimana, a temple on the back of an immense golden bird, the spiritual essence of the freedom of flight!

“Going somewhere?”

Shiva was truly surprised that Lamasthu had managed to sneak up on him. Maintaining his composure, he gave a ready answer to her question.

“We are going to fly over the City,” he said, “to see for ourselves what is truly happening.”

Lamasthu smiled smugly back at him. Shiva imagined that she understood the deception in his words, yet pretended to accept them at face value. “An excellent idea,” she praised, taking several steps past him toward the Vimana. “I will go with you, and see what I can see.”

Shiva allowed himself the luxury of frowning at Lamasthu’s back before neutrally accepting her self-invitation. To deny her a ride would immediately expose his plan to leave the City. “Then come. We shall board together. Attendants, follow!”

Lamasthu extended a ‘hand,’ one of her strange tentacles. Shiva grasped it uneasily and escorted her aboard. He consoled himself by realizing that as long as he had her in his clutches, he could prevent her from straying into parts of the Vimana he did not wish her to see. Together they ascended the delicately curved ramp that stretched over the strange bird’s left wing and led into the Vimana’s interior. As they stepped inside, the harsh light of the City’s day gave way to a gentle twilight. Intricate lanterns illuminated exquisitely patterned rugs. Sheer but lush fabrics draped the corners of walls that displayed mirrors and artistic carvings. Shiva’s people settled onto chairs and couches on this level as he and Lamasthu traveled upward to the second tier.

A narrower staircase was their access to Shiva’s private deck. There was no room for them to ascend together, so Shiva, with relief, found he had to release Lamasthu’s appendage and allow her to go first. The risk was minimal. He doubted she would notice any of the secret compartments in the walls, or discern the true powers of his other possessions that were not wat they appeared to be. When he joined Lamasthu on the upper level she appeared to be distracted, looking briefly at one thing, then another, without examining any item closely, just as he had hoped.

“I sense you have questions,” Shiva said. “Does my mode of travel concern you?”

“Zeus has his clouds and Quetzalcoatl his flying form,” Lamasthu remarked, finally focusing on something singularly interesting: her host. “Some of my people have wings, but I am not intimate with the sky. I suppose it is time to see if I like flying at all.”