A Promise of Return
When Thom Anteros is arrested after breaking into the Building of Historical Records, he demands to be taken before the King. A laughable demand for anyone else, Thom's request is granted and the King spares his life. Yet what's to become of him is left in the hands of the one person Thom truly fears – Mickey Taenia, the King's Hangman. Infuriated by Thom's refusal to reveal the whereabouts of Nate and Catherine, the Hangman sends Thom to one of the worst places in the Kingdom – the slave markets of Muntenia. It is there that Thom is bought for the Red Arena: a barbaric, gladiator-type competition where the children of convicts and other unlucky souls are forced to fight to the death. Twenty wins is release. One loss is death. With the help of Charles Thoreau, a fellow captive, Thom begins not only to survive, but to thrive. A master of words becomes a master of death, and Thom's prowess in the arena frightens even him. But death isn't the only thing haunting Thom. As the days go by, he dreams of his brother, and the promise he cannot forget. I will return.