Now that the dust has settled around the release of MS10, The Final Monster Squad novel, let’s get back to the unfinished stories that lay in the shadows of my computer’s hard drive.
Huntress was a continuation of Sven’s Hunter trilogy. Erica, his daughter, is demigod and must be hidden from her grandfather, Odin. She is an assassin, trained by the best of Asgard and she has only one mission…to destroy any demigods that may arise.
But what happens when the demi she is sent to kill captures her heart? Read on to find out more…
I learned that her name was Hildy. Short for Hildegard. Not a pleasant name to have roll off the tongue, but I’m told it was considered a blessing to have a female named Hildegard amongst her peoples.
She spoke of the gods and the great battles that they had amongst themselves. She explained to me how the less honorable of them would come to earth and walk amongst mankind. It cemented their faith and gave them great strength…for a short time.
When men think about their gods, it ‘feeds’ them. The power of the spoken word or unspoken thought, prayers and meditations, it all concentrates into a mental energy that the gods feed from. They use that power to increase their own strengths.
Gods like the zodiac used to cheat the system and go to those people who had multiple gods. They appeared to them and they would assume their god’s mantles. They cheated the ancient people of their true gods and it was looked down upon by the other gods. They were soon blacklisted and it was the Greco-Roman gods that finally broke them of their bad habits and left them banished from the realm of the gods.
This was immediately after the zodiac had tried to assume the Norse gods positions from their people. Odin led the battle and kicked the zodiac’s asses. They had just returned to their own realm when the Greco-Roman gods struck the final blows. Zeus banished the zodiac and they hadn’t been heard from in millennia.
I listened intently, taking in the lessons of my people that I had never been taught. I learned how the demigods used to be common until Odin, Zeus and a few other leaders among the gods declared the demigods heretic and slayed them all.
This caught me off guard. I was suddenly afraid to even be in her presence, yet…she knew I was a demi before I ever spoke to her. I think she noticed my apprehension because she gripped my hand and soothed me with her voice. “Easy child. Not everyone believes as the Allfather.”
“Aren’t you afraid what might happen to you if they ever discovered you helped me?”
She laughed and it was a deep throaty laugh. I hate to admit that it was contagious, but she had me chuckling right along with her. “Really? And what could they possibly do to this old woman that hasn’t already been done?” She wiped the tears from her cheeks and patted my arm. “No, child. You need to know what you are and why.”
I wasn’t sure I understood but I nodded. “Please, explain it to me.”
She leaned back and took a deep breath. “Child, you are the product of two completely different worlds. The world of man and the world of the gods.” She stared intently into my eyes and I felt as though she could read my very soul. “The gods fear you because you have the potential to be even greater than they are.”
“I don’t understand. If I’m only part god, how can I be greater than they?”
Her smile set my mind at ease and I believed every word that escaped her. “Because you can combine the best of both worlds. It’s the very nature of what you are. The real quandary is, why were you created.”
“My parents say it’s because they loved each other and I came into being.” I glanced over my shoulder towards Asgard. “My uncle says it’s to serve the gods and do those things that they have sworn never to do again.”
Her brows hiked and she stared at me. “Truly? And what have they sworn never to do again?”
I cleared my throat, almost afraid to repeat the words. “To appear before mankind. Even to do what needs doing. That is why they act through nature.”
She laughed again and shook her head at me. “Silly child. They simply want to use you. You are their enforcer. Much like your father is for the vampires.”
I gave her a shocked stare. “How could you know what my father does?”
Her face sobered and she stared back at me. “Child, that is what I do.” She pointed to herself. “I was the oracle.”
Hildy explained to me how she had been the oracle until she met her true love. She knew he was coming and she had been ordered to turn him away.
She couldn’t do it.
Instead, she ran off with him, abandoning her post and her responsibilities. It had taken them nearly two generations to find another who could do what she had done.
In her prime, Hildy had advised kings and gods, paupers and trolls. She was highly sought after and although the legends say that once she was deflowered, her gifts would fade, they never did.
The only thing she never saw coming was the king’s men taking her only child from her. She assumed it was her eternal punishment for abandoning her position. She had spent many lifetimes questioning whether she would have still left with her love if she could have known the pain she would feel later. Part of her claimed that she would have never known love…the love of her husband or the deepest love that only a mother could know. Another part of her would argue that knowing love and losing isn’t worth the pain. She had long ago given up on the ‘what if’ arguments.
“What it all boils down to is, what are your intentions?”
I shook my head. “To serve. To protect the nine realms. To do what I was created for.”
She sighed heavily and shook her head. “Child, if you learn nothing else from me, learn this…it’s a far more noble thing to live your own life than to live the life expected of you.”
Her words caught me off guard and I debated whether she was speaking from her own experience or channeling my future. “I’m not sure I know how to live my own life.” I poked at the dirt with a stick, unable to look her in the face. I was too embarrassed to admit that I was too young to know what I might want to do with my life.
She nodded as though she truly understood. “You will know when the time is right.” She suddenly stood and stretched.
“We’re not done are we?” I was honestly worried that she was going to send me away. I felt like there was so much more I needed to know and only she could enlighten me.
“I need a drink. And not some weak tea brewed from bark and leaves.” Her eyes glimmered with that mischievousness that I had seen earlier. She disappeared into her tree trunk and reappeared moments later with a leather flask. She pulled the cork with her teeth and took a long pull from the skin. She took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “That will tighten the skin on your backside.”
She handed me the leather skin and I held it close to my mouth, unsure if I should partake. My mother would have a fit if I did. She wouldn’t even let me drink coffee.
Now I know why my father enjoys his mead. The honey wine she offered me was sweet and savory, but it burned all the way down my throat. The warmth it left in my stomach was not unpleasant.
It didn’t take long and the trees were swaying without a wind to blow them. Everything we spoke of was much funnier and I suddenly didn’t care so much about the problems I had arrived with.
“So tell me child. What really troubles you?” She sat beside me, passing me the skin.
“I’m supposed to kill this boy.” I took a swig and felt my head spin. “He’s a man, really, but…he’s a demi, like me.” I handed the skin back to her.
“Ahhh. Let me guess. The gods sent you to kill him, yes?”
I nodded. “They did. Oh, but he’s sooo cute.” I batted my eyes at her. “Surely they must have made a mistake to want to kill somebody so…”
“Handsome?” She gave me a wink as she took another pull from the skin.
“Oh, very. He has the prettiest eyes. Like liquid pools of the purest amber.” I sighed heavily and leaned back against her tree. “And his smile is brighter than the sun.”
She laughed as she handed me back the skin. “Sounds to me like you’re in love.”
I gripped the skin and stared at her. “How can I be in love? I’m not even six years old yet.” I snorted and took another pull of that sweet nectar.
“Child, age is nothing but a number.” She pulled the skin from my grip and pointed to herself. “How old do I look?”
I was starting to see two of her. I leaned closer and tried to gage the wrinkles around her eyes. “Which one of you?”
She laughed and fell back against the tree. “Either of us. Both!”
“Oh, well, then….you must be at least fifty years old.”
She laughed so hard she fell over. For a moment I feared she might spill the mead, but she held the flask high and upright. When she finally composed herself, she handed it back. “You’re too kind.”
I shrugged. “Fiftyfive?”
She shook her head at me and pointed a finger. “Much, much…much older than that. But nevermind.” I felt her hand cup my face and she pulled me closer. “You’re a woman. You may not have many years in the realms, but you are grown. And a grown woman can…and often does, fall in love.”
“But I don’t know this boy.” I pushed the cork back into the skin and set it between us. “I just know that he’s pretty.”
She nodded. “That’s all I knew of my husband when first we met.” She gave me a sad smile. “Sometimes that’s all you need.”
“But I’m supposed to kill him.” I tried to sober and found it increasingly difficult to keep my eyes open. “He’s a demigod like me. He can’t be allowed to…to…”
I had to think about what she had said. I found myself nodding, but still questioning the ‘why’ he had to die. “They never told me what he’d done to deserve death.”
She shook her head and turned my face to hers. “Because he exists. They cannot suffer a demigod to exist. It could upend their entire creation.”
“How?” I tried to stand and quickly realized that was a mistake. I sat back down and placed a hand firmly against the trunk of the tree to keep the realm from spinning out of control.
“Did you not listen to what I told you? You and he…you have the potential to be even greater than they are.” She sat upright and seemed to sober immediately. “Child, they are old. Nobody prays to them any longer. They survive off the energy of those who are already here. The humans? They’re all enjoying their form of the afterlife. The rest of us? We were moved here when mankind broke the treaties with us. The elves, the trolls, the dwarves and giants…we all came here when mankind decided to hunt us down. We’ve been here ever since.”
“Sounds to me like mankind isn’t worth the trouble of saving.” I reached for the skin and she pulled it away from me.
“You’ve had enough. You need to be able to think now.” She snapped her fingers and I was suddenly clear headed. I have no idea how she did it, but something told me that she was more of a witch than an oracle. “Now pay attention.”
“I am.” Although it was very disconcerting to suddenly sober.
“You and he are different. And not just because you are demis. No. You two could simply walk the earth and reveal yourselves to men and you would have worshippers falling from the trees like leaves in autumn. Think of the power you would be stealing from the gods if you did that!”
I shook my head. “But we wouldn’t do that.” Could I truly say that for Alejo? “I mean, I know I wouldn’t.”
“Child, what is the worst thing that can happen to a god?”
I shrugged, truly unsure of the answer. “Death?”
She shook her head solemnly. “No. To be forgotten is a fate worse than death.” She stood on shaky legs and stretched her hands upward. “When those who once worshipped you suddenly forget that you even exist? That is truly a fate worse than death.”
“Then why don’t they reveal themselves to man once more? Prove that they are real and let-”
“Man doesn’t think he needs the gods anymore.” She stamped her stick into the ground and the dirt seemed to swirl. Within moments it faded and became a portal. I could see people walking the streets of a large city, their faces down, staring at the phones in their hands.
“Man worships things now. They don’t need to pray to the gods to fix things when they can do it themselves.” She caught my attention and I saw the fear in her eyes. “The gods chose to use nature to speak to mankind, but man isn’t listening any longer. That’s why they use every gadget they can possibly dream up to ignore nature. They don’t care what they do to the land, the waters or the air.” She sighed and sat back down, the portal to the earth closing. “Some think they are saving the planet by picking up trash or recycling the things they buy, but they aren’t. They don’t listen to nature. They don’t feel what nature is offering them. They don’t…care.”
Her words struck a chord with me. I felt my own phone bulging in my pocket and I knew she was right. I had been just as guilty of losing myself in some game or social media thing when I could have been doing something productive. Anything would have been more productive.
She patted my hand. “These things are just man’s most current distraction. They lost sight of what was important a millennia ago. Before they broke the accords with us.”
“Okay.” I swallowed hard and dreaded her next answer. “What does that have to do with me? How does this help me with Alejo?”
She sighed and closed her eyes, suddenly appearing very tired. “Child, if you and this Alejo were to suddenly show them what you truly were, a grand portion of mankind would follow you. Worship you. You’d be the center of attention for as long as you wished. All of that power focused on the two of you would make you stronger than…”
“The Jewish carpenter?” I knew that was a long shot.
She nodded slightly. “That’s entirely possible. It’s been at least two millennia since he made his walk with them.”
“But that’s not what I would want and I don’t think Alejo would either.”
“That doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that you could.” She suddenly stood. “You look like them but you have the power of the gods. If Odin Allfather suddenly appeared on earth, would they fall to their knees and love him or would they fear a ten foot tall Norse god with one good eye and a penchant for shoving lightning up their arses?”
I could see her point, even though I’d never met my grandfather. This all seemed too much for me to accept at once. The different thoughts racing through my mind all came to one conclusion…if I allowed myself to be the weapon of the gods and destroyed Alejo, who then would protect me from their wrath?
I turned to her and she had that knowing look on her face. “Exactly. Who would protect you, child?”
And that’s where chapter 4 ends.
If you’ve been following the blossoming adventures of young Erica Svensdottir and you like what you’ve read so far, know that there are a few more chapters waiting to be shared.
All in good time, faithful readers.
All in good time.