(Cited Works: Boyd, Eric L., and Mona, Erik. Faiths and Pantheons. WA: Holtzbrinck Publishing, 2002.)

Where am I?

It's so bright.

"You are in the Coliseum of Deities. I have taken you from your world so that you may fight for me and be

my champion in the Games of the Gods", says a young man's voice.

What?

Who are you?

"I am Mask, Lord of Shadows, and Master of All Thieves."

I can't see . . .

"Your sight will return shortly. This is just one, of many, side effects common in mortals after entering the Divine

Realms."

My eyes slowly begin to focus. The brightness dims. At first everything is a haze, but it eventually clears up. I find myself in a room built

entirely of polished stone. It's empty except for the sleeping mat I woke up on. There's a window to my right, and a door on the

opposite wall. I stand up, feeling a new power in my legs.

"Where are you," I ask, finding my voice.

"Do you wish for me to show myself?"

I hesitate, then respond.

"Yes."

I look around, but nothing is different. Something softly tugs my hair. I whip around grabbing my visitor's arm and pin them to the wall in

one swift movement. The stranger easily slips through my grasp, grabs me by my hair, and throws me to the ground. My breath is

knocked out of me. And as I'm gasping for air I look up. A man clad in black leather, tinged with red stands above me. There are

throwing daggers, an assortment of lock picks, and other various trinkets clipped to his leather armor. A black mask, stitched with

red to match his attire covers his face.

"You may have to cut this off," he says, again tugging my hair.

"I will not."

"Then you will have to tie it back. Otherwise, your opponents will get the better of you," he states with authority.

Anger begins to bubble in my stomach.

"My opponent? I won't fight for you."

"You will fight for me. And, if you succeed, I will take you back to your world."

"And if I don't succeed! Then what?"

He seems a bit startled by my outburst, then simply shrugs.

"I'm not quite sure. Not succeeding would mean you either died or were bested by a merciful warrior."

"You can't just take me from my home like this! It is my right to choose whom I risk my life for."

"Then it is also my right to choose whether I return you to your home," he booms, his voice no longer young and calm. An invisible force

suddenly slams into my ribcage and I again lose my breath. Curiously watching my

struggle for air, Mask soundlessly approaches me.

"It baffles me, mortal life. You live for such a short period of time. And to think, I could make it even shorter by ending it now."

The tone of his voice is back to it's normal calm, but there's something in it that makes my stomach churn.

He slowly unsheathes one of his throwing knives and paces toward me.

I realize what he's going to do.

"Stop" I cry "please".

"I'm glad we've reached a compromise". He halts and replaces his knife. "Do not attempt to escape, you'll find you won't be able to

survive".

And then, without another word, he's gone. The intensity of what just happened quickly impacted my mind.

He's a god.

I have to fight for him or I'll never get back home.

And before with my hair, my reflexes have never been that fast.

What is going on?