June 3, 2019

Hunt of the Gods Blog Tour: Excerpt + Giveaway


Hunt of the Gods (Areios Brothers #2)
Author: Amy Braun
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Publication Date: June 4, 2019


Two months have passed since Derek Areios—war-scion and heir of Ares—and the band of rogue scions he’s aligned with recovered both the Thunderbolt of Zeus and the Heart of the Devourer and returned them to the Gods. During the battle, Derek discovered he could control not only the element of fire, as all war-scions can, but also the dark element “aether,” making him the only scion alive to wield two types of elemental magic.

Commanded by Zeus to retrieve the Trinity Weapons and the Shards of Cronus, Derek and the rogue scions are thwarted in their goal by a gang of water-scions with a grudge against one of the rogues—Thea, heir of Poseidon. Both groups travel to an uninhabited island to recover one of the Shards––the Eye that belonged to Cronus, King of the Titans. But what they encounter will lead them down a path of brutal betrayals, hard truths, painful memories, and desperate actions.

With angry and impatient gods breathing down his neck, a curse that allows Ares to control him, a prophecy he’s desperate to avoid, a magic spear corrupting his thoughts, and two forms of elemental magic, Derek has a lot of baggage—and a lot of power. Will the price of using that power to satisfy the Gods be too much for him to pay?

Mythological monsters, explosive magic, and devastating truths take center stage in the second novel of the action-packed AREIOS BROTHERS series from Amy Braun.

 Chapter 1

TWO AGAINST ONE. I’d faced worse odds, but I wished my opponents hadn’t known me so well.

Selena rushed toward me, launching a punch at my head. I blocked the hit with my forearm, leaving myself wide open to Liam’s rush of fire.

I pushed Selena away and gathered my own fire, shoving it out of my hand and overwhelming Liam’s magic. He didn’t have as much raw power as I did, but he knew how to manipulate it in ways I could only dream of.

I yanked my fire back and felt a sharp tap on my kidney. I glanced over my shoulder at Selena. She stepped back to keep her distance from me, and I could see the wicked glint in her eyes. It made my heart skip, but I focused on my priorities.

I felt heat rushing toward my back, so I ducked and twisted before it could touch me. As I moved, I swung my leg out and hooked Selena’s foot. She tripped and landed on her back on the blue mat. A short gasp escaped her lips.

Another blast of fire rocketed toward my chest. I jumped away from the fire streaming from my brother’s palms then brought up my hands. I sent out a sharp burst of magic and watched his eyes widen. Liam stepped back, but I had released a controlled amount of flame. It was never meant to touch him, let alone hurt him. It was only supposed to distract him while I rushed through the flames and tackled him to the floor.

“Godsdamn it all,” he wheezed out.

I pushed away from him and started to stand up when another body crashed into my

back. I nearly lost my balance. For a lean, willowy woman, Selena packed a hell of a hit.

She tried to swing and flip me, but I never let her gain the momentum. I had nothing but respect for powerful women, but I also had a lot of pride. I wasn’t going to let myself be around by a one-hundred-pound woman.

Frustrated, Selena wrapped her arms around my neck and her legs around my hips, trying to force a submission hold.

“If I had a knife,” she whispered in my ear, her soft voice sending a shiver through my skin, “you’d be dead.”

I grinned. She was right. Over the last two months, I had come to know Selena. I knew she was fast, smart, and lethal with blades. If she’d had one, the fight would have been over before it started.

“But you don’t.”

I grabbed the arm locked my throat and wrapped my other hand around her back. It was an awkward movement, but I had a long reach and was stronger than Selena. I pulled her off my neck and swung her to the ground. Then I dislodged her as carefully as I could, not wanting to twist her arm or bruise her, then dropped her to the floor beside Liam.

Selena huffed and propped herself up on the cold hardwood of the gym floor. Then she pursed her lips and glared at me. Liam mimicked her, seated cross-legged on the floor with a look that promised brotherly retribution.

I smiled at both of them. “Anyone up for a rematch?”

Liam narrowed his sharp blue eyes. “If we hadn’t been at this for two hours already, I’d kick your ass.”

I laughed. “You haven’t kicked my ass in over a year, and even then, it was because you cheated.”

“You weren’t watching your footwork. If you trip, that’s your own fault.”

I smiled and shook my head then turned my eyes to Selena. She drew her long legs off the mat and tucked them under her.

My fingers went to the brand on my neck. I’d taken more of Athena’s elixir to hold off the effects of the Sýmfono Polémou—the War Pact I’d made with Ares. I’d made it to save Liam when Ares threatened to kill him if I didn’t kill Selena in exchange. I’d made the Pact but tricked Ares and helped Selena escape instead.

With Athena’s elixir and sheer will, I’d been calm and relaxed around Selena, happy even since she’d moved in with us a couple of months previous. But paranoia was my ugly companion since Ares could take control of me through the War Pact and force me to murder someone I cared about.

And the thought of hurting Selena, who’d saved both my life and my brother’s life, who’d all but begged to stay with us when she was evicted, who’d never let her broken powers hinder her, who’d spoiled us at home when she didn’t have to, who was in front of me, stretching with catlike grace, pulling her shirt taut against her flat stomach and her soft—

Liam teased through the blood bond, completely disrupting my focus. Which was probably a good thing.

I glared at my brother, who stood and smiled smugly. As if to prove him wrong, I returned my gaze to Selena, acting as though she hadn’t affected me. She’d freed her long hair and was combing her fingers through it. The motion was hypnotizing.


She looked up at me.

“Another round?”

She smiled softly and shook her head. “I’m with Liam on this one, Derek. Two hours is long enough.”

I frowned. “Not even some weapon sparring?”

Liam and Selena froze, and their smiles turned to frowns.

“What?” I asked, even though I knew.

“You’re planning on using Ki̱demónas again?” Liam all but spat the name. He didn’t like that I could use Ares’s spear, not because he was jealous, but because it was another connection to Ares that he saw as hazardous to my health.

I hadn’t entirely disagreed with him, but I couldn’t have given up the spear. It had bonded with me through blood and fire and had left Ares when I’d called it. And the spear was powerful. It would be a useful weapon to have on our side, even if using it worried Liam.

“I was,” I admitted. “But we can use bokkens instead.”

“You said that last time.”

I sighed. This is going to get ugly.

“I can’t give up the spear, Liam. It won’t let me. So I might as well work with it and see what it can do.”

“I agree,” Selena said, acting as the voice of reason as she so often did. “But I don’t think it’s safe to test it here.”

My heart gave a sudden lurch. “You think I would let myself hurt either of you?”

“Of course not, Derek. But the spear was meant for an Olympian’s hands, not a human’s, and it’s intimidating when you use it.”

I hesitated to respond. I understood the power of intimidation and had used it more times than I could count, but always against enemies, never against people I loved and cared about. But I also knew how they saw me when I fought. I never held back. With all the powers I had at my disposal, it was easy to see why they might be uncomfortable around me.

I’d just thought—hoped—that Selena had gotten past that.

I couldn’t lie and say the spear hadn’t changed me in combat. It made me stronger, faster, energized, almost like being caught in my Berserker Rage, but without the numbness to pain. I came to the edge of my control, but I never lost it. I would never do anything to hurt Liam or Selena.

Their uncertainty wounded me.

“You control one of the most dangerous weapons in the world, Derek,” Liam added. “Ares has carved through entire armies with that thing.” He folded his arms over his chest. “I don’t want it messing with your head.”

“It’s not.”

He frowned. I knew he wanted to keep fighting me. If Selena weren’t with us, he might have. But after two months of being roommates, he’d come to see her as a big sister, and he wanted to make proud.

So he settled into his comfort zone and made a horrible joke.

“You’re right. It’s not the spear making you crazy. It’s all those gag-inducing smoothies you drink.”

I rolled my eyes, pretending I hadn’t seen anything else in his gaze.

He knew I was keeping something from him. Lately, he’d been prodding me about it but not outright asking because he didn’t know exactly what I was hiding.

Every day, I woke up and swore I would tell them. I would explain the truth of how I defeated a manticore when neither Ki̱demónas nor my fire would have saved me. I would let them absorb the information, then ask them to work with me to figure out how to handle it.

But then I would come downstairs and see them in the kitchen or the living room—which had been converted into Selena’s bedroom—and hear them laughing. I’d see Selena’s teasing smile and Liam’s animation as they compared the merits of comic book superheroes against one another or debated about which TV soap opera would be improved if one of the characters were a harpy.

I would see that happiness, feel it grow in me, and realize my secret would destroy it. I would shake the foundations of what they knew and understood and then watch that happiness dissolve into anxiety. Or worse, genuine fear of me.

I didn’t know how to break it to them gently, so I didn’t say anything.

A light ringing came from the bench by the lockers on the right wall. We glanced at Selena’s cell phone as it chimed. She sighed and padded off the mats to the bench. While she answered it, I strode to the opposite side of the room.

When I’d bought our house, I’d made it as different from our original home as possible. I’d added more windows, laid hardwood floor instead of cold tile, bought comfortable if cheap furniture, and decorated with random bric-a-brac to make it seem more like a home than a prison.

But I’d kept the design of the training room and the armory. The back wall was plastered with the dozens of weapons my father had collected over the years. Liam and I used kopis swords and combat knives, but Thomas had collected everything from medieval shields to wakazashi. There were crossbows, longbows, battle-axes, tridents, spears, tomahawks, broadswords, katanas, morning stars, maces, scimitars, and a dozen weapons in between. If it was sharp and could kill, Thomas had owned one. Even if we never used them in the real world, Liam and I still trained with these weapons. Descendants of Ares had to know how to use every kind of weapon. That was one of the few useful things my father had taught me.

The floor was mostly covered with navy-blue training mats. Punching and boxing bags were in the far-left corner with the dartboards and targets. Weights and strength machines were on the far right. Training dummies were in the right corner closest to the door.

I grabbed a wooden Wing Chun dummy and carried the branched training post back to the middle of the mats. Liam watched me as I picked up a wooden bokken from beside the weight pile.

“Change your mind about another round?” I asked, twirling the wooden sword.

Liam stifled a laugh. “Yeah, right. Pretty sure if I unfold my arms, they’ll fall off.”

I grinned and shook my head. My brother loved being dramatic.

Selena ended the phone call and walked back to the middle of the mats. She used a white hand towel to wipe the sweat from her face and neck. Strands of pale blond hair clung to her throat and cheeks.

I found myself wanting to touch them and her. Not for the first time, either.

“That was Thea,” she said grimly. “She’s got a lead on the Trident in Santa Monica.”

I frowned.

Technically, it was good news. The Trident of Poseidon was among one of the many items Zeus had commanded us to recover. Along with it, we needed to find the third Trinity Weapon—Hades’s Helm of Darkness—and the three remaining Cronus Shards: His Eye, Mind, and Sickle. All the Weapons and Shards had vanished sometime before the Re-Emergence, that sweet time over thirty years ago when the Greek gods had been myths, and no one believed they would awaken and reclaim the world as their personal playground.

Part of the world, anyway. Their strength had waned greatly during their two-thousand-year slumber after defeating and imprisoning the Titans, and the only place they seemed to find any semblance of power was California, so they made it their new kingdom.

Though we were constantly aware of Zeus’s task, we’d been fairly relaxed because there was no direct threat anymore. Finding the remaining Shards and Weapons was a priority, yes, but at the moment, nothing was trying to kill us. Alsator Gage and his accomplice, the light scion Darius, were dead. Athena had been vindicated, if arrested. Any other dark scions or rogues who were working to capture the Trinity Weapons and the Cronus Shards in the hopes of opening Tartarus and releasing the Titans were either being exceptionally cautious or had given up on the crusade. We had room to breathe.

And that was what worried me. It was a huge relief to not have to fight anyone to get to a Weapon or a Shard, but following leads and retrieving the magical items seemed too easy.

Not that getting the Heart of Cronus had been easy—it had been guarded by Arachne herself—but something felt off, and it worried me.

But it might have just been me since Liam’s eyes lit up like fireworks.

“Ooh, Santa Monica? Now? Just in time for the Union of the Seas!”

I closed my eyes and sighed slowly. Of course Liam would be excited about going to Santa Monica. The Union of the Seas was a fertility festival held every year to honor Poseidon, a god notorious for his sexual appetite.

I tried not to think too hard about the festival or how Liam would be flirting hopelessly with Selena’s best friend, Thea. He swore up and down that he didn’t have a crush on Poseidon’s stunning heir, but it was hard to believe him when he blushed every time he said her name.

Selena nodded. “We’ll have to be on the lookout for Poseidon. He’s not very fond of me.”

It was Athena, Selena’s foremother, that Poseidon didn’t like, but I wouldn’t put it past the god attempt to hurt Selena. Past grudges had been carried through the centuries. Apparently, Ares fired Liam and me simply because we’d stopped him from killing Athena. Poseidon wouldn’t have forgotten any of his grudges with the goddess.

“I’ll call her and Mason. Thea owns a boat shop where we can meet and talk. We should probably leave tonight or tomorrow if we can.”

“Agreed,” I said. It wasn’t like we had any other plans. “Thanks, Selena.”

She left the basement a moment later. I practiced a couple of swings against the wooden dummy, rewarming my well used muscles.

Liam watched me the entire time.

“What’s on your mind, ace?”

His sharp blue eyes traced over mine. Shaggy brown hair curled against his forehead. Sweat glistened on his face and soaked the collar of his shirt. Sparring with me usually left him bone-weary, but he looked as if he was ready to take on an army.

“You don’t need to keep sparring, you know. You were down here even before we were.”


“If it’s the nightmares, you can tell me.”

I went still. Liam was used to my nightmares. He’d grown up hearing me scream and stomp around in a panic in the middle of the night. It had taken Selena a couple of weeks to get used to, but she had promised it didn’t bother her anymore.

My night terrors were twisted versions of my memories—images of monsters tearing me apart, scenes of my father beating me to a pulp and stabbing Liam in front of me, pictures of Selena being smothered by a giant beam of light while screaming for me to help her.

In other dreams, I stood in the heart of a fire. Smoky aether swirled around me in a black haze. I stood with Ki̱demónas in my hands, blood coating me from head to toe.

Every other dream terrified me. But that one, the one with fire, smoke, and blood, made me feel content. And that scared me worse than anything else.

There was a gentle nudge on my arm. I blinked and found Liam’s concerned gaze. He waited patiently for me to tell him what was wrong. For me to tell him how he could help me.

This could be my moment, the one where I tell him what had changed in the manticore fight.

I took a breath, gathered my courage… and couldn’t speak.

The way he was looking at me was the same way he’d looked at me when he was little, with the timid, confused stare of a boy who didn’t understand why his father had hurt him or why his big brother had taken the punishment for something he had done.

If I had told Liam, I knew how he would have looked at me next. His eyes would have filled with terror, and I wouldn’t have been able to comfort him or pin the blame on Thomas.

“Yes, it’s the nightmares,” I whispered.

Liam looked deep into my eyes. I didn’t stop him, but I didn’t give anything away, either. I couldn’t. It shamed me to lie to him, but I wanted to protect him. That was why I had named my spear Ki̱demónas—the Greek word for “guardian.” But I was caught in a cycle of lies, and I couldn’t find a way out of it.

I looked at the floor. “I keep dreaming of magic. So much of it around me, and I can’t control it.”

I don’t want to control it.

Liam touched my shoulder. “That’s why you have to let us help you, Derek. You’re not protecting us if you’re not being honest.”

I nodded automatically. I’d told Liam part of the truth, but it wasn’t enough for me. How could I have expected it would be?

But it was enough for Liam.

“Come on. Take a break from the broody, macho stuff. We get a mini vacation.”

I glanced at him. “We’re unemployed.”

Liam tilted his head and smirked. “Right. So every day is a vacation, but this time, we get to go party in another Region with beaches and sun and bikinis.” He couldn’t help teasing me further. “Who knows? Maybe you’ll get to see Selena in a bikini.”

My mind immediately tried to conjure up that image, and I had to flick Liam’s ear to make myself stop.

“Fine, grouch,” he complained, rubbing the side of his head. “I’ll meet you upstairs.”

I faked a laugh and watched him leave. My heart sank the moment he was gone. I turned my back to the stairs and looked at the bokken in my hand.

Liam had done his best to get through to me, and in a way, he had. I’d told him some of the truth—that I was surrounded by magic I might not be able to control.

He assumed I only meant the spear.

I lifted the bokken with my left hand then held out my right hand.

As a war scion and descendant of Ares, I should have been able to control the element of fire only. For the longest time, that was all I could do. But it wasn’t fire that crept out of my hand and coiled around my fingers. It was chilly, black smoke that writhed like snakes against my skin.


The foundation behind the four main magical elements. The substance that created monsters. The life force of the gods. Pure, raw, destructive magic.

In the last two months, I’d learned that I could call up aether the same way I could call up fire. The sensation was colder and slipperier than the hot rush of flames, but I’d gotten used to it. That was the reason I had been in the training room before Liam and Selena that morning. I’d wanted to practice with it.

The smoke glided off my fingertips and wrapped around the wooden shaft of the bokken. It cinched tight, tighter, tighter, until the wood began to creak. I drew the smoke back into my right hand. If I broke a training stick, Liam would start peppering me with questions I wasn’t ready to answer.

I relaxed my magic and walked off the mats to set the bokken back on its rack. I looked at my hands again, filling the right with aether and the left with fire. Red flames and black smoke pulsed before my eyes.

Being the first, and to my knowledge, only scion capable of controlling two elements would make recovering the Trinity Weapons and Cronus Shards easy.

Facing my friends and family when they found out my secret… not so much.

Amy is a Canadian urban fantasy and horror author. Her work revolves around monsters, magic, mythology, and mayhem. She started writing in her early teens, and never stopped. She loves building unique worlds filled with fun characters and intense action.

When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, watching movies, taking photos, gaming, struggling with chocoholism and ice cream addiction, and diving headfirst into danger in Dungeons & Dragons campaigns.