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It is the Olympics of 460 BC. Nico's best friend, Timodemus, is a competitor in the pankration, the deadly martial art of ancient Greece. Timo is hot favorite to win. His only serious rival is Parmonos from Sparta. When Parmonos is found beaten to death, it is obvious Timodemus must be the killer. The Judges of the Games sentence Timodemus to be executed in four days' time. Complicating everything is the fact that Athens and Sparta are already at each other's throats. If an Athenian is found to have cheated by murdering a Spartan, it will be everything the hawks in Sparta need to declare open war. Nico and his partner in sleuthing, Diotima, have four days to save their friend and avert a war.