The Frowning Madonna
Roberts, Jean M.
It's 412 A.D., the Roman Empire is on the brink of collapse. In Albion, Lalia gathers with fellow supplicants to call on the Goddess Cybele to aid their city of Londinium. It is a simple plan; lure her to the temple with Marcus, a handsome but reluctant priestly candidate. They succeed. The goddess animates her statue using the power of a golden orb, forged by Vulcan, the god of fire. A rival mob attacks; a melee ensues causing Cybele to drop her orb. Lalia retrieves it but in a panicked fight with Marcus, flings it into the River Thames. Without its power the goddess is trapped in her own statue. Before she turns to stone, Cybele lays a curse on Lalia's head; she is bound in a cycle of reincarnation and death. Only the return of the orb will set her free.