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Tag Archives: Monster Squad

C8 Is Out and Other Stuff

Okay, so Caldera 8 went live yesterday. Yay!

Caldera 8

Here’s the obligatory picture that everybody says will help drive traffic to your site.

But that’s not really what I came here to talk about.
I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to speak to a few writing groups. I even joined one afterward. Good people in that group. But…one thing that I’m often asked that I don’t always address well is, “What would you tell yourself if you could go back and give yourself advice when you first started writing?”

Most of the time I think, ‘Don’t QUIT! Write whatever you love and those who love it will find it.’ Or, something to that effect.
But here lately, I’ve been taking more trips down memory lane and I recall a moment when I was ready to pack it all in. I had made the mistake of getting online and reading through some ‘Writer’s Forums’. Oh wow. Some of the people in those places are completely whackadoodle. And yes, that’s actually a medical term for ‘nutso’.

I remember I joined this one group and they were discussing all kinds of topics. And being completely new, I was totally enamored with their replies and their suggestions and…well, I believed them. Imagine that! Believing people you don’t know on the internet.

Anyway, I remember this one guy (who everybody seemed to look to as sort of the group leader or guru or some such) and he was saying, ‘if you write more than 500 words in a day, then it’s crap and not worth reading’.
Well, that blew my mind. I mean, here I was throwing down THOUSANDS of words a day sometimes. Did that mean my writing was crap?
He went on to tell folks that unless you were signed with a Big 6 publisher, you weren’t a REAL writer.
Oh wow. I’m totally screwed then.
Another of his rants was about ‘horror’ and how only IDIOTS read such drivel.
Well, I have no idea what golden pearls of wisdom this guy was writing, but I had concluded that he:
1. Wrote less than 500 QUALITY words per day.
2. Must be signed with at least two of the Big 6 because people just hung on to his every word. And;
3. Whatever he wrote, it must NOT be horror.
He’s so lucky.

Well, needless to say, I was sent into this downward spiral. Seriously, I was ready to just hang it all up and walk away. I mean, who was I to question this guy? Anybody who did dare to question him got raked across the coals by the entire group.
But one voice did. He told him that he was an indie who hired reputable editors and cover artists and he worked his tail off to market himself. He made himself available to his readers and he loved interacting with them. And he made good money doing it. Oh, hell no! This was sacrilege and they laughed this guy right out of the forum. How DARE he say something that went against the great an almighty Oz?!

I actually called my editor at that time. An indie writer who built himself up from the worst possible starting point and remade himself into a force to be reckoned with. He talked me off of the ledge and convinced me that my writing was worthy. If nothing else, let the sales prove that point. Take the risk, believe what he told me and finish what I started.
So I did.
And I’m so thankful that I did. Because of my writing, I’ve met some of the most wonderful people out there. I’ve taken the hits and the less than constructive criticisms and tried to improve my storytelling. I’ve made friends with some of the coolest people with a similar off kilter sense of humor as mine and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this ride.
No, I’m not quitting or anything silly like that. I was just reminded of the time when I allowed nameless, faceless people on an internet forum convince me that there was only one way to do something. And I almost believed them.

So, I guess I wasn’t wrong when I said that I would tell myself not to quit.
But I would also add, don’t listen to internet commandos who proclaim that there is only one way to do something. Look at others who can prove that person wrong and do what they did.
Yeah.
I think that’s what I’d tell myself.
Oh, and exercise more. That way you can eat more bacon. 🙂

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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C8 Update

MAY have just sent Caldera 8 to the editor for cleanup.
I also MAY have the cover from Jeffrey Kosh that goes with it.
I also MAY…no, scratch that. Of course I’ll share that cover here. You guys know I’m the worst secret keeper and I’ve even shown covers that he’s created for me for stories I hadn’t even written yet. I guess I figured if I had the cover made then I just had to write the story.

It made sense to me.

Caldera 8.jpg

Anywho, here’s the cover. I’d give the newest installment of Caldera a couple of weeks minimum to be available.

But for those who were asking, here’s your status report. If I had the mental capacity to write the blurb right now, I’d gladly share it. But sometimes the blurbs are harder than the stories.

Keep the faith dear readers.

Heath

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving full of good people, good food, good times and lots of loving memories!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but that’s because I’ve been tied up with side projects that are taking much more of my attention than I’d like. Writing is on hold until at least after Christmas.

Hopefully soon I can get back to putting the stories in my head down on paper so others can suffer the insanity along with me!

Until then, keep on keeping on and enjoy the time with your friends and family.

Here’s wishing you much love, luck and bacon!

Heath

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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For My Girls: Ch 7 Huntress

I think this will be the final installment of my ‘Stories that Will Never Be’.
There are a few paragraphs of Chapter 8 that were written but it does little to nothing in pushing the story forward.
Since this story will never happen, I might as well lay it out for you.
Odin, her grandfather, hates demis. Demigods have the potential to become more powerful than the old gods and he refuses to suffer a demi to live. That’s why she’s kept away from him and ‘managed’ by Thor.
At the end of the trilogy would be the big slap down between young Erica and the grandfather who didn’t know she existed. She’d kick his ass, of course, and although he loses, he’d tell her to finish him because he’d never quit hunting her.
She doesn’t have it in her heart to kill family…so she strips him of his power instead. It’s hard to kill a god when you’re basically a human. She and Alejo run off to make demi-babies and live happily ever after.
At least, that was the plan. Who knows what the story might have evolved into. Heaven knows, the original Hunter trilogy was NOT supposed to be what it became, but, it is what it is.
Anywho…on to the final chapter.

7

I didn’t want to leave his side.

Ever.

I wish I could put into words the emotions that ran through my mind, through my heart…but there are no words for what I felt.

I thought I knew what love was. I may not have centuries walking the earth like my father, but I have had many experiences. Just nothing like this.

I have loved.

I have loved many. I love my father. I love my mother. I love Uncle Thor and I love Tex.

But this? This was something new. I liked it and it terrified me at the same time. This young man made me feel things that I didn’t think were possible. From the moment I laid eyes on his image, I knew there was something about him. I just didn’t know what.

We spent the night walking along the beach. We talked. We kissed. We talked more. We cuddled. We built a fire and lay beside it, talking and laughing and sharing experiences.

We almost missed the sunrise but we sat beside the smoldering fire and held each other while the sun broke along the horizon and warmed us with its rays.

I hated to leave his side but when the sun rose, he said that he had to go and that I should return home. He promised to meet me the following night at the same spot and we sealed the date with a kiss.

I had no idea what was happening with me, but I liked it.

I also had no idea how to tell my mother.

 

*****

 

“You’re what?” She stared at me wide eyed.

“I think I’m in love, mother.” I couldn’t help but smile even though her face was one of shock and disbelief.

She reached out a shaky hand and took the back of the chair. I watched her pull it out slowly and practically fall into it.

“What am I going to do? First it’s coffee, now you’re in love?” She turned and gave me the saddest look I’d ever seen. “All in the same day?”

“Mother, it’s not horrible. It’s wonderful.” I pulled out the matching chair and sat beside her. “He’s lovely and he’s sweet and he kisses so-”

“Oh my god!” She was to her feet and pacing. “You kissed him?”

“It was just a kiss, but it was such a kiss!” I was on my feet again. “It was like our souls were intertwined and-”

“Please stop!” She fell into her chair again, her head shaking. “Sweet baby jeezus, Erica, you’re only a child.”

I froze and stared at her. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Mother, I’m a woman.” I reached down and lifted my shirt. “See? Bossoms.”

“Erica, stop that!” She reached out and pulled my shirt back down.

Now, I have to be honest. I don’t know exactly why I did that. She is my mother. Of course she knows that I have bossoms. She buys my clothes for me. She knows that I’m…developed. I understand that most normal children at the age of five are probably still pooping themselves or eating dirt. But I’m not your normal five year old. Well, nearly six. But the principal is the same.

As Hildy said, age is nothing but a number.

I watched her hands shake as she turned slowly and got to her feet. She reached for the coffee and I had to stick my foot in my mouth. “You’re shaking enough already. Do you really want coffee?”

She turned and glared at me with such intensity that had the look missed me and struck the wall it would have peeled the paint. “I need something to calm me down and dammit, coffee calms me.”

Things were getting real. She didn’t allow cursing for any reason and she just dropped a D word. Something tells me I should have just mailed her a wedding invitation…if it ever comes to that. I guess there is such a thing as over-sharing.

I sat back down and waited for the lecture on how I was just a child, I couldn’t know what love is, blah blah blah.

When she sat back at the table, she took her time. I think her cup was half empty when she finally looked up at me again. The next words that came from her mouth nearly knocked me from my chair.

“I’m sorry, Erica.”

Her voice was so soft that I barely heard her.

“Mother?”

She shook her head slowly. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did.” She took another drink and I waited.

“They warned me.” She motioned toward me with her hand. “That you would age very quickly until you reached…this. Adulthood. And then it practically stops. You’ll remain young and vibrant and…beautiful forever.”

I wanted to tell her to stop. That her tone and actions were scaring me. But I’m a huntress. I know no fear.

“They said that you would…grow up. And there was nothing I could do to stop it.” She sniffed back a tear as she sipped her coffee.

I reached out and took her trembling hand. “I’m sorry mother. I never wanted to hurt you.”

She laughed and I could tell it was to keep from crying. “You didn’t hurt me, Erica. You’re right. You’re a woman.” She turned swollen red eyes to me and I saw the tears threatening to fall. “I just miss my baby girl.”

She patted my hand and I wanted to cry with her. I was in such a hurry to grow up and I had no idea how much she cherished the time she had with me when I was little.

Suddenly she sobered and glanced nervously over her shoulder. “You mustn’t tell your father. Or anybody! Do you understand?”

“But father will understand. I’m sure-”

“No! You don’t understand.” She lowered her voice and leaned closer to me. “You were sent to kill him, not fall for him. If word gets back to Thor, they’ll hunt you!”

I nearly snorted a laugh. “But I’m Uncle Thor’s favorite-”

“You’re a tool Erica!” Mother stiffened and glanced towards father’s study. She turned back to me and lowered her voice. “If you don’t do as you’re told, you will be removed. Do you understand?”

My head was shaking. I’m not sure if it was denial or fear. “No, they wouldn’t do that. Alejo’s gods accept him and they teach him the ways of our kind.”

“Our kind?” Her eyes were wide and her hands were trembling again. “Sweetheart, his gods are not your gods. They’re not your family. Do you think they would stand against Thor and his warriors if it came down to handing you over or go to war?”

I fell back in my chair and I could feel my mouth working but no words came out.

“Sweetheart, there is no sanctuary against the gods. They don’t acknowledge the sovereignty of other gods. They don’t even acknowledge your right to exist.”

She sat back and huffed as she tried to search for the right words. “They hid you from Odin. They hid you from Freya. They know that if word got back to them that you existed, you would be hunted and destroyed. The old gods simply cannot allow you to usurp them.”

“But I would never…”

“That doesn’t matter. They simply cannot allow you to exist. The possibility is too great for them.” She sucked back a sob and squeezed her eyes shut. “I couldn’t bear to lose you.”

“Nor I you, mother.” I reached out and took her hand again. “I can’t hide forever.” My mind raced faster than I could form words. “Even if I killed Alejo, who is to say that Odin wouldn’t order Thor to destroy me?” I stood slowly, my mind in a whirlwind. “I don’t want to die.”

“Then don’t.” She stood and squared her shoulders. I had seen my mother resolute before, but not like this. The set of her jaw was pure defiance. “Do what you must, but you survive. Do you hear me?”

I nodded, unsure what exactly I could do against Odin Alfather. But I knew that if I ever hoped to live in peace, I’d have to be prepared for war.

“I hear you.” I stepped away from her and released her hand. “I love you mother. Tell father that I love him.”

“Be careful Erica.”

Those were the last words I heard from her before I transported myself to Svartalfheim. I stood outside the tree that Hildy called home.

I tapped on the bark above the opening to her home and prayed that she was home.

“Back here child.”

I stepped around the giant oak and saw her in a tiny garden. I hadn’t seen it during my last visit. The great tree that she made home had blocked it from view.

I walked along the edge and watched as she finished plucking a few herbs from the ground. She placed them gently in her apron and hobbled toward me. “I was about to prepare food. Care to join me?”

I gave her a gentle shake of my head. “I’ve come to talk, if you don’t mind?”

“You talk while I cook.” She cackled as she made her way back to the tree. She placed her herbs besides the opening and slipped inside. When she came back out she carried an oversized kettle. “Hang this over the fire and fetch some water.”

I hung the handle from the iron hook then scooped a large bucket of water from the stream. She was already searing meat in the pot when I came back and the smell had my mouth watering. She stirred the meat, searing the edges before adding the water.

“So talk, child. What brings you back to old Hildy?”

“I’m frightened.”

“Of course you are.” She ladled small amounts of water over the searing meat as she spoke. I watched her add a few of the freshly plucked herbs then she sat back and eyed me. “You just discovered the truth and now you are unsure what you should do.”

I nodded. I didn’t know how she knew, but I prayed that she would have answers.

“What should I do?”

She shook her head as she added tubers and vegetables to her pot. “I cannot tell you that, child. That is entirely up to you.”

“Can you tell me the outcomes of a decision? You are an oracle, are you not?”

She smiled at me but there was such sadness to it. “I wish that I could.”

“Do you see any future for me?”

Her eyes brightened and she nodded. “Oh yes, child.  A long and prosperous future.” I watched as she squinted and appeared to stare into the shadows of the woods. “I cannot see how you come to that point though. If I could, I would direct you through to the easiest route.” She shrugged. “All I can tell you is, you will survive. And you will do well.”

“With Alejo?” I wasn’t sure I really wanted to know the answer, but my mouth asked before my brain could stop it.

She shook her head slowly. “I cannot see that. I do not know if he is your future or your ruination. I can only see that you survive and you prosper.”

I sighed and sat beside her while she cooked.

“I don’t think I’d want to simply survive without him.”

She patted my shoulder and gave me a sweet smile. “Nobody can tell what your fate is. Nobody can direct you down the ‘proper’ path.” She sat next to me and took my hand in her leathery palm. “You must walk your own path. If that path leads you to love, then by all means, embrace it and experience it and enjoy every moment you can.”

I turned to her and I felt tears swelling in my eyes. “I’m afraid.”

“I know. And you have every right to be. It’s not every day that one finds out exactly what their life is worth in the eyes of others.” She patted my hand once more then stood and stirred her pot. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned over these many, many…many years, it’s this. Don’t let a chance at true love slip away because you fear the outcome. Embrace it. Relish it. Give it everything you have. Even if that loves dies or is somehow taken from you, you’ll have known what it feels like and it will help to form you into the person you were meant to be.”

Her words brought me peace. She didn’t point me in any direction and say, do this and all will be well, but I felt as though she armed me with enough hope that I could face whatever it was that the gods had in store for me.

If it meant that I had to renounce my lineage and never return to Asgard, then so be it. If Alejo was right and the gods of Olympus would welcome us, then perhaps it was time I went there and met his gods.

What was the worst that could happen?

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Contest Time!

I found a few extra copies of different Monster Squad books and thought to myself, ‘Hey self! If you order just a handful more, then you’ll have a complete set!’ Well, I did and they came in today!

Then I sat here, feeling accomplished, and wondered, ‘Hey, self…what are we gonna do with another whole complete set of books?’ For the record, self didn’t answer. But while talking to the missus, she said, why not have a contest? Again, I was confounded. What could kind of contest could I possibly have to justify a complete (autographed) set of the Monster Squad??

MS1-10

So I did the smart thing. I asked Jess again. She said, ‘Have a contest where people prove they’ve left a review for all ten books, then draw your winner.’

I’m so glad I married someone so smart. A contest like this would accomplish quite a bit. You guys all know that reviews make or break indie authors and this way we both win.  Well…ONE of you will win because I only have one extra set, BUT it’s a COMPLETE set. And did I mention that they’re autographed? That makes them almost worth as much as they were before I scribbled in them.

So there ya go. I reckon I’ll let this contest run a month, have the entrants email me their reviews and toss the names into a hat. Shipping is on me so this one is CONUS only, sorry overseas fans (although your reviews are highly appreciated, too!).

That’s it y’all. Enjoy, have fun and if you haven’t read MS10 yet, give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

Peace, Love and Bacon for all!

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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MS10: The Final Chapter

It’s nearly here.  I’m wrapping up the final touches on MS10 Reckoning and I’m almost as nervous as I was when my very first was published.

This is the end of an era. As I’ve said before, these characters needed closure. The readers needed closure as well. And to be honest, so did I.

I hope this final chapter does us all justice.

Here’s the cover art by Jeffrey Kosh. Once again, he knocks it out of the park!

MS10 update

And yes, dear readers…the Good Guys wear black.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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For My Girls Chapter 3

And it’s time again for another taste of what will never be…chapter three of Huntress: Of Gods and Men.

Part of me wishes that I had finished this story, but in my own twisted mind, it couldn’t be just ONE story. No, it would have to be a trilogy, just like Sven’s story had been. What’s fair is fair, right?

Anyway, onward and upward. Read on for Chapter 3 of Erica’s story. Please remember that this is the raw, first draft. It’s unedited, unproofed, etc.

3

I opened my mouth to speak and mother shushed me. “Close your eyes. Relive the events and describe it to me.”

I swallowed hard. As soon as I closed my eyes, I was transported back to that exact moment.

“He said that I wasn’t from around there. I told him, no…I was from America. Then I turned. I didn’t expect what I saw even though Thor had shown me what he looked like. He had olive skin, amber eyes, jet black hair and a smile that made me want to smile.”

I felt my mother’s hand squeeze mine and I took a deep breath, continuing my story.

“He said, ‘There’s something different about you.’ I pulled back my hood and revealed my face to him. He was still smiling. Then he asked me, ‘where are you from?’ and that’s when I told him I was from America. He said that he hoped to visit there one day. Then he told me his name is Alejo. He held his hand out to me and…”

I felt the familiar squeeze of my mother’s hand and I knew she was right there with me.

“When my hand gripped his I felt a rush of power stronger than anything I’d ever experienced. Even stronger than when I’m near Thor.” I opened my eyes and couldn’t read my mother’s expression. It almost looked sorrowful. “The strength I felt hit me like a truck, but in a good way. Does that even make sense?”

She nodded and patted my hand. “Go on, Erica. You can do this.”

I closed my eyes again and saw the confusion on his face. “He didn’t know what to make of it either. We were both stunned. I gripped my sword and slowly pulled it from the sheath. He never stopped staring at my eyes. Then suddenly the air crackled with intensity and the lightning struck between us.” I opened my eyes and stared at my mother.

“I remember his eyes. He was just as stunned as I was.”

Mother nodded. “Then it most likely came from somebody else. Could there have been two demigods there?”

I shook my head. “I don’t think so. I only sensed him and he was gone when I got my feet back under me. I searched everywhere, but the pull was gone. Whatever it was that lead me to him had vanished.”

Mother finished her tea and pushed the cup aside. She seemed to consider my story for a moment before she spoke. “I can’t begin to understand your life Erica. Your strength, your agility, your powers…it’s all more than my mind can comprehend. I have to remind myself daily that you were born with these…things. They are inherent. You’ve known nothing else.” She stood and placed her cup in the sink then turned and leaned against the counter. “After years of training to be the best at what you do, you have finally met somebody who could possibly match you in strength, speed…even your ability to fight.”

I had a distinct feeling that I wouldn’t like where she was headed but I held my tongue and gave her the opportunity to go on.

She crossed her arms again and almost seemed to hug herself as she spoke. “I think that perhaps you should speak with somebody who has more knowledge of these things before you make another attempt at this mission.”

Okay, that wasn’t where I thought she was going. Her words actually caught me off guard. I shook my head slowly. “But who? Who could I possibly speak to about this?”

Mother shrugged. “Normally, I would suggest your father. But…” her words trailed off as her mind worked. “I don’t think that even he could truly help you with this.”

“Uncle Thor?”

Mother bristled slightly. She still wasn’t used to me calling him that. Considering how he nearly killed my father before sharing his power with him, I think she still holds that against him.

“No. I think you need to speak to somebody else.”

“Aunt Helen?”

Mother stiffened. “Definitely not.”

Aunt Helen isn’t really my aunt. She’s a witch that my mother was friends with before she met my father. She tried to help my father when he searched for his soul. She also tried to seduce him but he was too wrapped up in Mother to allow that to happen. I think she still resents her for trying.

“Then who could I possibly turn to?”

She bit nervously at the tip of her thumbnail while she thought. “There is somebody.” Her voice was barely a whisper. “I just don’t know if it’s a good idea to even try.”

I came to my feet, anxious to know what she spoke of. “Who, mother?”

Her eyes met mine for the briefest of moments and I saw fear. She dropped her hand from her mouth and seemed to stand taller. “An angel.”

 

*****

 

“No!” I was pacing the kitchen, my mind racing while my mouth continually repeated, “No, no, no. Not just no, but heck no.”

“I’m not saying that you need to work with one, only speak with-”

“You know how father feels about angels. It’s the one thing he drilled into my head from the time I was born. Angels are assholes.”

Mother nodded. “Yes, they are, and yes, he’s right. But they also have knowledge that could really enlighten-”

“No!” I spun and planted my hands on my hips. “Not just no, but-”

“You wanted to know who might could enlighten us. All I’m saying is that an angel could tell you what you need to know.”

I finally calmed myself and gave her that look. The one that she always uses on me and father. I had spent a long time practicing it in the mirror. “And what will father say when he finds out that we went to an angel for help?”

Her face blanched and I’m pretty sure it was what I asked, not the look I was giving her.

“Okay. You’re right.” She pulled her chair out and sat back down. “Then I have no other answers for you.”

I stood over her and stared, my mouth hanging open. Those were the last words I ever expected to hear from her. She always had the answers. She is my mother…who else could I turn to for answers besides her?

Nobody.

I pulled my chair out and sat across from her. “I’m sorry, mother.”

She shook her head and gave me a tight lipped smile. “Don’t be. You’re right. It was a bad idea. It was just the only one I could come up with.”

I felt my hand wrap around hers and I gave her a gentle squeeze. “I’ll figure it out.”

I thought I saw the glimmer of a tear in her eyes as she squeezed my hand in reply. “I know you will, sweetheart. I know you will.”

 

*****

 

The next few days had me trying to focus on Alejo and trying to transport myself to him.

I couldn’t leave the yard.

No matter how much I tried, it wouldn’t work. It was as if he no longer walked the earth.

More than once I feared that the lightning had somehow killed him. Destroyed him…burnt him to dust. But there would have been something left. A body. Ashes. Something.

I found myself lost in thought and wishing I could speak to somebody else who could enlighten me. Anybody but an angel.

I squeezed my eyes shut and screamed internally, wishing that there was somebody out there who could help.

When I opened my eyes, I found myself standing at Svartalfheim. I had transported to the land of the dark elves. I knew the realm as I had trained here with their warriors, but I stood in a wooded land that I didn’t recognize.

I turned slowly and peered deep into the shadows. I could sense somebody out there, watching me. I just couldn’t tell where they were.

I stepped from the mossy mound I stood upon and worked my way down past the hanging branches of the nearby trees. “Who is there?” I called out, hoping for a reply.

“Why are you in my forest, little demigod?”

I spun and faced an older elf. She barely came to my waist and she appeared withered. Her gnarled hand gripped a walking stick and her eyes shone with mischief.

“I came seeking guidance.”

She snorted and waved me away with her cane. “I’m no warrior. Shoo! Go away and pester those who know such things.”

I watched her turn and hobble away from me. I don’t know why but I knew I couldn’t let her leave. For whatever cause, she was the reason I was here. She had the knowledge I needed.

“Wait! Please, wait.” I tried to hurry after her but the branches seemed to reach out and grab at me, preventing me from moving. “Please!”

I watched her enter the trunk of a tree near its roots where the long tendrils gapped and bit into the soft earth below. I pulled at the branches and nearly fell at the foot of her door.

“Please wait.” I stretched a hand out to her. “I need your guidance.”

She paused in the doorway and slowly turned, her eyes narrowing. “Why should I? What’s in it for me?”

I got to my feet as best I could, wiping the damp soil and bits of moss from my clothes. I dropped to one knee and softened my voice. “Please. If I didn’t need your help, I wouldn’t have come here.”

She seemed to assess me with cautious reserve. She stepped back out from her door and sat on one of the great roots that created the entrance to her tree home. “You didn’t answer my question. What’s in it for me?”

I couldn’t think of an answer for her. What could I possibly offer her? I shrugged as I sat down. “I don’t know. I’m not sure what I can offer.”

She tilted her head and her eyes narrowed again. “You come asking for my help but offer nothing in return?” She snorted with derision and I could see her jaw working.

“What would you like?” I held my hands out to her. “I have little, but please, tell me what you desire.”

“You cannot give me what I desire.” Her eyes grew sad and for a moment I wanted nothing more than to grant her wish.

“Tell me. I might be able-”

“My son!” Her voice cracked as she yelled at me. “Bring him back from the dead. That’s what I want.”

I was stunned. I had always thought of the nine realms as the afterlife. Everybody’s afterlife. The land of the gods. I assumed that the elves here were…already dead. Wasn’t this their version of Valhalla as well?

I opened my mouth to speak but my tongue couldn’t form words. I slowly reached out and placed a hand on her shoulder. “What happened?”

She wiped at her eyes and avoided my gaze. “He went to battle for the Elf King. He never returned.”

“When was this?”

She shook her head and turned her eyes to the tree canopy above. “Who can say? Many lifetimes ago.”

I crossed my legs and sat quietly. I didn’t know what else to do but let her talk and share her feelings. I knew I had to pay homage to her pain and pay attention to her words.

“What was he like?”

She smiled gently to herself as she focused on her lost child. “He was a smith. Not a good one, mind you, but when he was home, I convinced him that his work was beyond compare.” She sniffed at an unshed tear and wiped at her eyes. “But then the king sent his men to collect all males of age. Dabner was of age and he had a skill that the warrior class could utilize. He was taken and I never heard from him again.”

I didn’t want to appear overly optimistic, but I had to ask. “Is there a chance he survived the battle?”

She shrugged. “I would think he’d return home had he been able.”

I gave her a soft smile. “Perhaps he found a woman. Made a family?”

Her eyes turned even more sad. “And he wouldn’t want to share his newfound happiness with his only mother?”

Dammit. I need to think things through before I open my mouth.

“You’re right, of course. I’m sorry. I was only…”

“You were hoping to soften the blow of his being gone.” She reached out and patted my arm with her withered hand. “I appreciate the thought.”

She spoke of Dabner’s early days. How he had only begun learning his trade from his father when he passed. Dabner had to learn on his own from there. How he was really a horrible blacksmith but he truly put his heart into everything he tried to create.

She told me how she had spied on him as he sat on their stoop and he stared at the stars through the canopy at night. How he dreamed of one day making a name for himself. I watched as her face brightened when she recalled his younger years and how it fell once again as she closed in on that fateful day that he packed his meager belongings and left with the king’s men.

Afterward we sat in silence for a very long time and I dared not speak lest I say something inappropriate again. Many times I wanted to speak a thought that wandered into my mind only to bite my tongue and keep the thoughts to myself.

Finally she sighed and turned to me. “What do you seek little demigod?”

I gave her a soft smile and shrugged. “It seems unimportant now.”

“But you’ve come all this way.” She leaned closer and lowered her voice, “Besides, I have a feeling that you have much to learn.”

The twinkle in her eye was back and I could tell that she was eager to share with me now. Perhaps speaking of her son somehow endeared her to me. I couldn’t be certain, but the air around us seemed less heavy now.

“I have no way of giving you what you want. I couldn’t dream of asking you to-”

“Shush now child. Tell me what you wish to know.” She scooted closer to me and patted my leg. “I’ll teach you what you need. You can…owe me.” I raised a brow on that one. “A favor. You can owe me a favor.”

I nodded hesitantly. “I’m not sure where to start.”

“Let’s start at the beginning.” She braced both hands on the edge of her walking stick and eyed me. “What do you know of the gods and demigods?”

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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