EMPIRE in APOCALYPSE
Three years after that fateful scene of his wife’s infidelity in the cellar of the Vandal king, Belisarius is still a troubled man. He sees her betrayal in the way his servants won’t look him in the eye, in the disrespectful smirks from his fellow generals, in the mesmerizing sway of his wife’s hips. Worst of all, he sees it in the charm of a handsome godson who seems to outcompete him for his wife’s affection.
To distract himself, Belisarius throws himself into the ominous challenge before him: reclaiming the Roman lands lost in Italy half a century earlier. Always outnumbered but rarely outwitted, Belisarius and his five-thousand men occupy and hold Rome against a siege by a hundred-thousand wild Goths. Despite this, his wife’s indiscretions undermine the serenity that should follow his success.
Far, far away, on a fiery island in the North Atlantic, Hibernian monks investigate a mysterious plume of smoke blanketing the sky and covering the earth in shadows. Their leader, Brendan, makes an ominous discovery about the possibly grim future of humankind and must do whatever it takes to relay the disturbing revelation to the Empress in Constantinople.
Belisarius is determined to fight on, regardless of the darkened sky, crop failures, and starvation that vex his men. Against all odds, he completes his conquest of Italy, and upon reaching the Gothic capital of Ravenna, is offered the crown of the Western Empire for himself. To end the bloody war, he pretends to accept the offer but is recalled to Constantinople before he can properly secure the Empire’s victory. In Constantinople, he faces the judgment of a suspicious imperial couple and a punitive redeployment to a resurgent Persia.
Carried on divine winds, Brendan sails across the known world to deliver his foreboding message of the coming Apocalypse. Not even Theodora, Empress of the East herself, can discredit the monk’s portentous story of the erupting mountain, a darkening over all the earth, and widespread famine. When the bubonic plague reaches Constantinople’s harbor, unleashing death in the city and threatening the life of Justinian, it seems as though Brendan’s prophecy about the End of Days has arrived.
Belisarius must face the cold hard truth which Brendan brings that the new world order he is working to establish may be burning to the ground.
Author: Robert J. Bruton
Editor: Lyndsay Stanley, Stonecreek Editing Services
Cover Design: Lyndsay Stanley, Stonecreek Editing Services
Publisher: To be Announced.
Genre: Historical Fiction/ ADULT
Page Count: TBD
Who will enjoy it: #Historylovers, especially those with an interest in the Eastern Roman Empire after the collapse of the West. If you loved the 1990s film, Gladiator, then you will love this novel!
Availability: Coming Soon
Theodora relieved the nurses for a few hours and carried a bowl of fresh, cool water to Justinian’s bedchamber. She nodded to the guard and he opened the door for her. The odor in the room was so potent she lifted the hem of her gown to cover her face. The sharp stench of urine mixed with the salty smell of sweat, and the smoldering incense failed to sweeten the air. Slowly, she approached the table at the side of the bed and placed the heavy bowl on it.
“Wife,” Justinian said, his voice weakened and croaky, “you’ve come.”
“Of course. I come every day.”
“Of course,” Justinian said, coughing blood and puss.
“How are you, today?”
“Not good,” Justinian replied, “but I’m more worried…” He coughed so violently for a moment that he could not go on and gasped for breath.
“Shh, you mustn't talk,” Theodore said.
Catching his breath, he sat up and said, “I…I’m more worried about you.”
“I’ve laid a heavy burden on you…”
“It is heavy, but I can bear it.”
“For how long?”
Theodora knelt and gently kissed his sweat-soaked forehead. “Only Christ knows,” alluding to her own illness, but she could not bring herself to name it.
-INTIMATE SCENE BETWEEN THE EMPEROR JUSTINIAN AND HIS WIFE THEODORA, BOOK TWO: EMPIRE IN APOCALYPSE