I’m sure that if you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know what I’ve been doing. Filling these pages with the dead files from my computer. Huntress: Of Gods and Men was the closest to being finished of all of the scraps I’ve shared. I’ve received messages from faithful readers that urged me to complete the stories I shared, but I’m afraid that ship has sailed for most of them.
Regardless, I promised to share more of this story, so here’s chapter two. I hope you like it.
I stood on the back porch and focused on the face Thor shared with me. I closed my eyes and transported to a place I didn’t recognize. Rocky shores with crystal blue waters. The sun was just starting to set.
This must be on the other side of the world. It was barely morning in Dallas. I turned a slow circle and took in the beauty of the place. White stucco buildings with terra cotta roofs, tightly packed buildings and beautiful rolling hills. It reminded me of pictures I had seen of Italy.
I inhaled deeply and under the saltiness of the ocean air I could smell mutton, heavily seasoned with pungent herbs and spices. Wood smoke tinted the air and although I had just eaten, my mouth watered.
I stepped away from the rocks and made my way toward the town that climbed the hills. Somewhere in this maze of streets and buildings I knew I’d find the demigod that Thor wanted dead.
I could almost ‘feel’ his presence. It’s very hard to explain. New sensations are difficult for me to put into words at times and surrounded by the ancient beauty of this place, words escaped me.
As I walked, I unstrung my bow and twisted it in the middle. It unscrewed and I tucked into a special pocket that father had sewn into the lining of my long coat. With my weaponry concealed, I felt a bit more at ease travelling in this strange new land.
I had learned a long time ago that people often fear strangers. They fear armed strangers even more. Keeping my weapons hidden from their view set them more at ease and kept me from having to transport away from threats. Oh, and people fear strangers who can disappear in the blink of an eye, too. Trust me on that.
Unlike my father, I prefer not to take the lives of an innocent simply because they react out of fear. Father would cleave their head from their neck and not think twice of it. Well, in his younger years. Since he gained the power of Thor, he’s mellowed significantly.
I was somewhat surprised that the streets seemed deserted until I realized, most were inside either eating or preparing their evening meal. The variety of aromas that greeted me made me want to savor each new dish.
I was standing in the middle of the road enjoying the succulent smells when I heard two men approach. I spun and saw them as they walked down the road, smiling and joking amongst themselves. They had yet to notice me and their gate was unhurried but determined.
Both wore plain white cotton garments and no shoes. Their short black hair and dark eyes reminded me of my prey, but neither man was him. When they finally noticed me, one nearly stopped, his arm extended out and catching his partner’s attention. He hooked his chin toward me and both men stopped in the road and stared.
I must have looked completely foreign to them. Dressed in black leather pants, black boots and a black long coat in this obviously warm climate. My reddish-yellow hair and blue eyes must have stood out as well.
They both smiled and slowly approached. The one who noticed me first held a hand in the air and yelled to me. “Are you lost, miss?”
I shook my head. They spoke a language I had never heard before but part of being a demigod is that I speak all languages. Fluently.
“No. I am where I need to be.” I returned their smile and the two seemed to shake off any suspicions they might have harbored.
“You do not look like you are from here.” The men approached and stopped just feet from me.
They both looked to me expectantly and I realized, they must wish that I explain my presence. I tried to think of a convincing lie but unlike my father, lies do not come as easily to me as they do him.
“I am looking for a boy.” I judged them to be slightly older so the word ‘boy’ seemed more appropriate. “He’s a young man, really. Younger than you, but similar features.”
The first man laughed and prodded his friend. “We all share the same features in this town. Greeks will be Greeks.”
Ah. So now I knew where I was. I might have guessed Italy, but I was close. Kind of.
I chose to change the subject of our discussion. “Where are you two headed at such a pleasant hour?”
They both gave me an odd look that I couldn’t quite read. Perhaps this hour of the day isn’t quite as pleasant as I thought it was.
“We are going to do some night fishing. Along the beach.”
I nodded but realized, neither man had a pole with them. “Without a fishing pole?”
They both laughed and the other man shook his head. “Nets. We have a small boat with nets along the shore.”
The first man smiled broadly. “You can join us if you wish. Perhaps you will see your friend, no?”
I shook my head. “Thank you, but no. I must be off.”
I was about to step away from them when the first man reached out and took my arm. “You never said your friends name. Perhaps we know him.”
I opened my mouth to tell them that I didn’t know his name, but that little voice in the back of my head screamed at me. How could my prey be my friend if I don’t know his name?
“I wouldn’t want to keep you from your fishing.” I gave them both as sweet of a smile as I could muster. “I’ll be fine. Thank you.”
I stepped away and both men watched me for a moment. As I was about to crest the small rise in the road, the first called back to me, “If you change your mind, we’ll be at the beach!”
I waved my hand at him but didn’t turn around. Something else had my attention and I could feel it pulling me further along the cobblestone roadway. An unseen force guided my steps and I could feel my prey at the other end.
With any luck, I’d complete this mission and be home before lunch.
This unseen force that pulled at me grew stronger the closer I got to the other demi. I knew it was him, but I don’t know how I knew. It was as though we were connected somehow.
In the back of my mind, I feared that my prey would know I was coming. That somehow, he could feel the pull as strongly as I did. I pushed the thought from my mind but as the pull became stronger, I was nearly certain that he must know something strange was about to happen.
“You’re not from around here.”
I nearly jumped at the voice. I silently cursed myself for not having sensed his presence, or his approach, but inside, I knew it was my prey before I ever turned around.
“No. I’m not.”
I didn’t expect what I saw standing before me. The same tattered clothing as the two men I had met earlier. I assumed they wore such things for fishing and not because they lacked resources. But here he stood. Olive skin, amber eyes, jet black hair and a smile so radiant that I wanted to return it in hopes he would continue smiling.
He was leaning against the rock wall, his arms crossed as he watched me. “There’s something different about you.”
I pulled the hood back and tried to shake my hair loose. I had forgotten that mother had cinched it tight to the back of my head.
He was still smiling.
And, damned if it wasn’t contagious.
“Where are you from?”
I unhooked the top of my longcoat so that I could reach my weapons more easily and gave him my best smile. As I stared into those eyes I wondered if perhaps Thor was wrong. How could they send me to kill such a lovely creature? He didn’t seem dangerous.
“I live in the Americas. But my family hails from Sweden.” I have no idea why I told him that. I could have said, ‘Dallas’ and that answer would have sufficed. Short, honest and to the point. But no. I wanted him to know my pedigree. Perhaps I should tell him that my father and Thor shared the same powers as well.
“America. I hope to visit there one day.” He uncrossed his arms and extended a hand. “I am Alejo.”
I stared at his hand for a moment longer than I was supposed to I think. Slowly I felt my own hand reach toward his.
“He who protects and defends. I know.” My hand gripped his and I felt a rush of power unlike any I had ever experienced before.
It didn’t hit me in waves like when I’m near Thor, this hit me like a sledge hammer. But a warm, fuzzy sledge hammer. It felt good.
It took me a moment to regain my wits and I noticed that he had experienced something as well. He stared at me with wide eyes. I took a half step back and tried to regain my composure.
“What was that?” His face hid a thousand questions and I wasn’t prepared to address any of them. In the back of my mind I could almost hear Thor screaming at me, ‘kill him!’ and it tore at me.
I felt my hand grasp the short sword and I could feel the scabbard scrape against the metal as I pulled it from its sheath. He was staring at my eyes and never saw the silver and gold adorned blade as it cleared my long coat.
He braced his hand against the rock wall and sucked in air as though he had been punched in the chest. His eyes never left mine as I raised my blade and prepared to strike him down.
The lightning bolt that hit the ground between us knocked me back and onto my ass. I tried to roll with it, but it was a poor excuse for a defensive move. I finally regained my footing and took a tactical stance.
Alejo was nowhere to be seen.
I searched the area until I was satisfied. He was no longer there. The unseen force that had pulled me to him was completely gone. I sheathed the sword and swore to myself. Whatever had happened, it had allowed him to escape his fate.
It was time to return home.
I hated the idea that I allowed my prey to escape and I’m pretty sure it was evident by my foul mood. To her credit, my mother said nothing as I stomped through the house and threw my weapons into my closet.
When I came back downstairs I flopped onto the couch and crossed my arms angrily over my chest. I glared at the TV and it suddenly came on, switching through channels rapidly, the speakers making weird, ‘ooh, eeh, ahh’ sounds as the channels flew by.
With a huff I threw my arms outward and the TV shut off. I was back on my feet and storming into the kitchen when my mother finally stepped in front of me, blocking my way.
“Nope. Not gonna happen little lady.” She crossed her arms and stared up at me, my chest still heaving from the temper tantrum. “You are not going to stomp in here and tear up my kitchen.”
“Mom! I just want to find a snack.” My eyes felt like they were bulging from their sockets and I know I must have been a fright to look at.
She squared her shoulders and shook her head. “Not gonna happen.”
She stared me down until my breathing came under control and the anger faded. I felt emotionally drained when she finally placed a gentle hand on my shoulder. “All of these years of training and they never taught you how to handle defeat.”
My head jerked up. “I was not defeated!”
Her eyes winced at the volume and I forced myself to dial it back a bit.
“He just…disappeared on me.” I threw my hands into the air again and began pacing the narrow space. I realized too late that it was nervous energy I was trying to burn off.
“You need to calm down.” She finally stepped aside and let me into the kitchen. “Have a seat. I’ll make us some tea and you can calmly tell me what happened.” She turned and began pouring water into the tea kettle. “Believe it or not Erica, your strongest ability isn’t as a warrior. It’s as a thinker.” She flipped the burner on and set the tea kettle in place.
She turned and shot me a brilliant smile. “You get it from me, you know. Your ability to reason. To think. To analyze a problem and come to a conclusion.”
I nodded. “Because women are smarter than men. I know, you’ve told me a thousand times.”
“And it’s true.” She set cups on the table and placed the cream and sugar in the middle. “So, tell me. What happened out there that has you so worked up?” She pointed her finger in my face. “And be calm about it. Getting yourself worked up isn’t going to help us solve this problem.”
I took a deep breath and tried to center myself. It was something my father taught me years ago. He said a ‘master’ taught him during a period when he was still adjusting to god powers. He wouldn’t explain further but the practice helped me to calm myself when my emotions tended to run a bit hot.
I toyed with the tea cup in front of me and avoided looking at her. I think I was afraid that her face would betray her disapproval. I know she wasn’t a fan of her only child acting as an assassin.
“So, I tracked the guy down.” I swallowed and tried to think of something to lighten the situation. “Greece is beautiful at sunset, by the way.”
“Oh, so you were in Greece? That’s nice.” She pulled the kettle from the fire a moment before it was about to whistle and poured it into the steeping pot with the tea leaves. “Tell me what happened.”
I could smell the tea once the hot water hit it and I allowed my mind to wander a bit.
“I appeared at the shore line of this small town. It was really pretty. The buildings were all whitewashed and the roofs were all covered in clay tiles.” I continued to fidget with the cup. “A couple of locals invited me to go fishing with them. I didn’t though. I knew I was there for a reason.”
She leaned across the table and pulled the cup from my hands. I watched as she poured the tea and placed it back in front of me. She wasn’t giving me the ‘eye’. She just patiently waited for me to tell my story.
“So, anyway, I could almost ‘feel’ him. It was like something was pulling me toward him.” I turned to her and her face was expressionless. “It was like we were somehow connected.”
She nodded slowly. “Perhaps because you’re both demigods?”
I shrugged. “Possibly. I don’t know what else it could be.” I took a sip of the tea and it was still hot. I continued as I spooned some sugar into it. “I did find him though. I was drawn along this roadway and suddenly he appeared behind me. I never heard him approach. He didn’t make a sound. It was as if he was already there, waiting for me.”
“Did he attack you?”
I shook my head. “No. Quite the opposite.” I sipped the tea and placed the cup down carefully. “He smiled at me. He said, ‘you’re not from around here’ and he smiled.” I know my face was twisted in confusion. I could feel it. My mother simply nodded.
“Then what happened?”
I shook my head again as I tried to replay the memories in my mind. “I was pulled into his eyes. They are so lovely. I kept thinking, surely Thor is mistaken. Nobody this beautiful should be destroyed.” I felt my eyes grow wet but I didn’t know why. “I didn’t even think about it as my hand gripped the sword. It was like it was doing it on its own while my head was preoccupied with looking at him.”
Mom sipped her tea and nodded. Her silence begged me to continue and my mind raced back to the incident.
“It was as though the sky ripped open. There was a brilliant flash and I was thrown backward. When I opened my eyes again and could see, he was gone.”
She nodded again and sipped her tea.
“Do you think he knew your intentions and attacked you first?”
I shook my head. “I wasn’t even sure of my intentions. I mean, my hand was drawing the sword and yes, I would have struck him down, but…it was like my body was working on its own and…” I turned confused eyes to her, pleading with her to explain what was wrong with me.
She set her cup down and stretched across the table, taking my hand into hers. “Tell me again what you experienced. From the time you first turned and faced him.” She held a hand up to stop me then added, “Not just what you saw, but what you felt.”
And, that’s where chapter two ends.
Keep coming back. There will be more. Young Erica Svensdottir made it to a little over seven chapters before I moved on to other projects.
Still…maybe one day I’ll revisit this strawberry blonde hellion again and finish her story. Only time will tell.