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Prologue

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The words soul mate send chills down my spine. The average person might find comfort in the idea of having someone who shares every aspect of their life, but I know better.

I belong to an ancient race of humans descended from the Greek gods and goddesses—the Hellenicus. My ancestors are also closely tied to the origin of the soul mate. I have seen the torment caused by the existence of soul mates, and so, I dread the day when I'll be reunited with mine.

Of course, not all of my people feel the same way. We have been taught to take pride in our history, to be gracious about our ability to reconnect with our soul mates. As Hellenicus, we learn from a young age where we come from and where we sit in the hierarchy of our community. Reciting our history in my sleep was nothing; that was how much it had been drilled into me over the years.

Centuries ago, before the Golden Age, there were the three parents—the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon, and each of them had off-spring. The Sun produced the men, the Earth produced the women, and the Moon produced the androgynes. The original human form was a hideous sight to behold, having one head with two faces, four arms, four legs, and two sets of genitalia. These humans rolled, hand over hand and foot over foot, by manner of cartwheels at double speed. These original humans had been created to be strong and fast and free and powerful, and they roamed the earth with a great deal more freedom and power than humans have now.

The power eventually went to their heads. They thought that they could stop giving offerings to the gods and goddesses and be gods in their own right. They decided they deserved a place on Mount Olympus alongside the gods; a rebellion broke out and humans scaled the mountain to attack. Obviously, it wasn't a good idea and it led to an inevitable defeat. The Hellenicus commemorate this battle as the Day of Prideful Folly.

Because of the humans' audacity, the gods, with their limitless power, pondered how to punish them. Zeus could burn them to dust with his lightning bolts, just as he'd done to the giants. Poseidon could drown the fools with an enormous wave. Or Hades could lock the creatures in the depths of Tartarus for eternity.

But the gods loved a little drama for their own amusement, and they also loved to be worshipped. Zeus realized that humans weren't the real threat—it was their oversized egos that needed adjustment. He stripped them of their arrogance by splitting them into two with his lightning bolts, making them half as fast and half as strong. Not only would it put them in their place, but it would also double the number of those giving tribute to the gods. Problem solved, right?

Well, no. The halved creatures ran around frantically, looking for their other halves, seeking them out, embracing them, and trying to be one again. The creatures who had been double women naturally sought out women. Those who had been double men sought out men. And the androgynes sought out members of the opposite gender. But, unable to rejoin, they lived in utter misery and began to starve to death in their sorrow.

Mindful of his need for worshippers, Zeus instructed Apollo to create a means for the creatures to reunite, if only briefly. Apollo did so by turning the genitals toward the belly side of the body. According to the legend, when the two halves finally found each other, they would have an unspoken understanding. They would lay with each other in unity and know no greater joy, and when each of them was reincarnated after they died, they would be reunited in their next lives.

To complicate things further, the gods and goddesses mingled with the newly divided humans, fornicating with them and producing demigods. These demigods would then have children of their own, and so on, until clans were built. These clans became known as the Hellenicus—my ancestors.

Over the generations, the Hellenicus spread out around the globe. We were taught to take pride in our history, and so, despite the diaspora, we have always held on to our traditions. But one thing has kept us divided: the three castes. Pure Royals, Royals, and Regulars.

Pure Royals retained the top shelf of our hierarchy because they were the descendants of the Big Three: the Lord of the Sky, Zeus; the Lord of the Sea, Poseidon; and the Lord of the Underworld, Hades. It was easy to tell who belonged to the Pure Royals by looking at their eyes. Pure Royals who had blue eyes were from the Christoulakis family, Zeus's descendants. Green eyes belonged to the Ambrosia family, Poseidon's descendants. And finally, those with dark brown, nearly black eyes, were from the now-extinct Stavros family, Hades's descendants.

Slightly below the Pure Royals were the Royals, the descendants of the remaining Olympian gods and goddesses. Unlike the Pure Royals, who maintained their original ancient Greek family name, the Royals' family names were influenced by the culture and language of their geographical locations. For example, Hera's descendants were originally known as the Themistoklis family, but in Australia, it was Tavoularis, and in Bulgaria, it became something entirely different: Petrova. I didn't even bother trying to remember all their names, though. Most Royals would jump at the chance to let you know their royal lineage, anyway. Besides, it was also obvious who was a Royal from the size of their wallet.

Then there was the lowest caste, slightly above your standard-issue humans. That was where I fit in: the Regulars. Look it up in the dictionary and it was precisely what I was supposed to be: average, common, uniform, consistent, and fixed. No overflowing bank accounts, no exotic vacations, no sports cars, or big houses. There was a god for everything under the sun, but of course, us Regulars didn't share a lineage with the fancy, powerful ones. We came from the many gods and goddesses who didn't have a seat on Mount Olympus. They were the gods and goddesses of regular things, like the god of sleep, Hypnos, and the god of the west wind, Zephyros. It was next to impossible to keep track of a Regular's lineage—there were too many minor gods and too many of us.

Other than being the descendants of the gods and goddesses, the Hellenicus had one other thing in common: to honor our demigod lineage, Apollo wanted to set us apart from normal humans—or, as we called them, the Nescient—and awarded us an extraordinary ability to help us find our soul mates. Our gift allowed us to read our other half's mind, something the Nescient couldn't do. That way, even though we were continuously reincarnated, we would always be able to find each other.

Every year, the Court—a heavily guarded compound located in Denali, Alaska—held a revered event known as the Gathering. It was a chance for all the Hellenicus from around the world to come together in the hopes of being reunited with their soul mates. In our eighteenth year, during our first Gathering, our clairaudient gift was awakened through a sacred ritual known as the Awakening Ceremony. Then we would wait for the moment when we met our other half. A single touch could ignite what we called a click—a phenomenon that allowed us to hear our soul mate's thoughts. It was how we knew we had found the one.

I would be eighteen soon. Tomorrow I would officially go to the Court for the first time. And find out if my life would change forever.

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