Due to unforeseen circumstances (namely sleeping ALL DAY) yesterday, I must ask for your forgiveness in not allowing you to bask in the awesomeness that is the prologue for Hearken until today! Hopefully after you read it you'll be so excited about the book, you'll forget all about my inability to post things when I say I'm going to!!
Crystalline beams of light streamed down from the ominous full moon above; illuminating the tense battle of wills unfolding far below. The rolling waves stilled their relentless cadence as the warm wind stalled over the sand dunes. A blanket of apprehension settled upon the landscape as every starfish, horseshoe crab, and seagull held their collective breaths. Among the people gathered, one figure in particular commanded the attention of the lustrous moon rays more than any other. Beneath her steely exterior, a sinister inferno began to coil and writhe; fueling the powerful essence she harbored within. The bitter taste of hatred pooled in her mouth at the sight of her own flesh and blood defending the abomination of nature he had christened Anastasia. Her rapid heartbeat pulsed with the promise of ridding this world of such a traitor. As the cool waves of essence slithered toward her tingling fingers, she looked on as Keto commanded his attention.
“You will not take her!” Peleus roared. His fragile body shuddered with his own labored breathing as he attempted to shield his daughter from Keto’s building wrath.
“Fool,” Keto cackled at him with dark amusement. Her emerald eyes flashed beneath dark brown hair overflowing with green highlights. The sand beneath her feet shifted and boiled as it struggled to absorb the amplified presence she radiated. With an insidious glance, Keto swiftly conveyed a silent message to her ally. The corners of Selene’s mouth twitched in anticipation as she acknowledged Keto’s unwavering loyalty with a slight nod. It had been decided many moons ago that Selene would possess sole jurisdiction over her son’s damned soul. She slowly trained her cunning, silver eyes onto the rotten fruit of her loins.
His muted gray eyes had once shone silver with his Aura ancestry. Now they softened momentarily before seizing up with defiance as his thoughts registered her deadly intention. She had witnessed this reaction more times than she could count. And for good reason. As her direct descendent, Peleus knew all too well the consequences of challenging his mother. His first punishment had been swift and severe; followed by absolute banishment. However the iron grasp that Thetis had on his every waking thought had refused to relent. Selene could only stand watch as Peleus continued down his path of betrayal, eventually marrying his meddling sea witch and sealing his doomed fate.
Seventeen years ago, she had sensed the exact moment when he committed the highest form of betrayal. Just as the first time, she felt a portion of her being as it soundlessly withered and disintegrated into the recesses of her soul. She could feel the purity of her brethren shrivel as the unborn fetus was formed; a mutt of a creature harboring her precious Aura essence. An essence forever compromised by the flaccid and decrepit lineage of the Daughters of the Sea. The moon goddess had fought long and hard to protect the very essence he continued to foolishly abandon. Vehemence continued to simmer within, and she had resolved to rectify the situation as quickly as possible. Creating an alliance with Keto proved much easier than expected. Her long buried resentment fumed below the surface, and she had been all too willing to strike out at her former leader and sister, the beloved Thetis.
Unfortunately, the death of Thetis at the hands of Keto only succeeded in fueling Selene’s contempt. The overwhelming regret at affording the sea goddess’s demise to someone else consumed her mind. Once she had Peleus within her grasp once more, she’d had every intention of killing him…but chose imprisonment instead. Astonishing to even her, an inner struggle commenced within while she spent year after year paralyzed by indecision. No matter the intensity of her hatred and desire for revenge, she was unable to take the life of her only son. Recently, that inner turmoil was abruptly overshadowed by the knowledge that the prophesized Anastasia had indeed returned.
Forcing her thoughts back to the present, her callous gaze focused in on her wretched son and granddaughter now standing before her. Her previous indecision dissolved into a boiling black cloud of hatred, and any remaining hesitation was pushed aside as she lifted her arm.
“No!” Anastasia screamed in disbelief as a thin line of silver energy fueled by the moon above exploded from Selene’s fingertips; piercing his chest. When the last evidence of life faded from his crippled form, Selene sighed deeply and let her head fall back. She stared at the bright orb hanging above her with apathy. Such a pity. At one time she had grand aspirations for her son.
As a boy he showed incessant determination, continuous strength, and the leadership skills expected of a direct descendent of the moon goddess. The Auras idolized him and showered him with unabated worship. She had bestowed power, prestige, and most importantly, her essence upon her only son. In return she was gifted abandonment, cunning deceit, and an unending supply of betrayal.
“Dad, no!” Anastasia collapsed on top of her father as she visibly shook with grief. Selene rolled her eyes at the sickening farewell scene before her. The wretched mutt should thank her for affording her even a couple days with Peleus. How could she be capable of even an ounce of grief? She knew nothing of true loss.
Before Selene could take Anastasia’s life out of sheer annoyance, Keto stepped over the unmoving form of Peleus and rested her hands on her hips; a finger tapping impatiently. As Anastasia’s tear stained face hardened and she began to speak, Keto’s terse expression froze as if she’d been turned to stone. As the color drained from her face, Selene could taste the uncertainty and confusion flowing from her as the girl spoke with a wisdom beyond her years.
“…and power must be used to protect and nurture those who depend on you. Those are the qualities our Order covets in a leader.”
As her words hung precariously in the cool, night air, a paralyzed Keto was unable to speak. She simply stared numbly into Anastasia’s turquoise eyes; brimming with conviction. Chagrin washed over the moon goddess as Keto actually allowed the mutt to stand.
“Finish her off!” Nadia screeched at her, and stomped the sand impatiently.
“Thetis…?” Keto whispered in disbelief. With her gaze still fixed on Anastasia, she was oblivious to Nadia’s growing hysteria. Selene rolled her eyes once more at Keto’s infinite ignorance. It was simply more evidence that proved the goddesses of the sea were irrevocably flawed by weakness. She resolved herself to the fact that if she wanted something done, she’d have to do it herself.
“What are you waiting for?” Nadia growled. With madness blazing in her golden eyes, she appeared behind Anastasia and drove a dagger into her back. Keto stumbled backwards and continued to gawk with disbelieving eyes at the limp body now lying before her in the sand.
“You’re welcome,” Nadia hissed at Keto. Selene turned as three figures emerged from the sand dunes several yards away. The first two she recognized as descendents of Hecate - true witches of the Underworld. The third’s appearance was indistinct as it blurred and shifted. The rich auburn hair blowing across her shoulders shivered and blinked into a blonde so pale, it blended with the moon rays shining on it from above. Blazing blue eyes caught Selene’s and recognition hit like a tidal wave.
Amphitrite. An Amphitrite currently shrouded in secrecy. Unfortunately for her, Selene was able to see straight through her well-built illusion. What reason could she possibly have to shroud her appearance? Curiosity and mistrust twisted Selene’s features as she observed Amphitrite unleash a stream of blue energy at Keto, who immediately woke from her bewildered trance. A slow, menacing smile lifted the corners of Keto’s glowing eyes as she winked at her ex-sister. Also not fooled by the loosely worn veil, she effortlessly deflected the attack with a flick of the wrist.
At that moment, three young Tydes followed their elders onto the beach. Their determined expressions gave way to alarm as they surveyed the chaos unfolding before them. With the expertise only a centuries old goddess could have, Selene turned her attention to the Warriors of Luna - her ten protectors obediently awaiting her command. Her gaze met those of Thalia and Bronson, her two strongest warriors, and she swiftly planted her orders into their thoughts. As they walked up the beach toward the three Tydes, she commanded the others to descend upon the two witches who were already struggling against the much more powerful Keto and Nadia.
A blinding flash of light out of the corner of her eye gave Selene pause, and she swung around ready to fight. Her thoughts stilled and her blood cooled as her own moon essence spoke to her from across the beach. When she identified the source, her entire world narrowed and pulsed with renewed rage. She watched with casual indifference as her warriors were easily thrown to the sand like rag dolls. She gave no thought to the fate of her warriors as she considered the drastic turn of events currently glaring back at her. With her Tyde friends safely reunited on the dunes, a very much alive Anastasia slowly twisted around.
Her pivotal transformation became exceedingly obvious as her now silver-blue eyes stalled on Selene before finding their final destination in Keto. An undeniable presence, suffocating as an avalanche, traveled across the sand and slammed into the moon goddess. A streak of panic climbed up her spine as she glimpsed the necklace dangling from the girl’s neck. A necklace she believed had been destroyed…the orb that had once belonged to Peleus. As it rested against Anastasia’s now shimmering skin, the evidence was mounting: the unthinkable had indeed occurred.
Selene faintly registered the sound of someone shrieking at her, but nothing could steal her attention from the blasphemy striding towards them with a knowing, confident smile. With each step Anastasia took, the remaining protectors, along with Keto’s Sirens, were rendered helpless by a cloud of bright blue energy.
“Looks like this won’t be as easy as you thought, Keto.” Anastasia’s even tone and strong stance was further proof that she was no longer a meager descendent.
“Nice work, Pasha.” Selene’s attention slid to the Prime of the Sons as he took his place next to Anastasia, greatly favoring his left leg. With the snap of his fingers, the beach erupted into violence, followed quickly by inevitable carnage.
Rage and anger solidified into something infinitely darker as Selene veiled herself and crept back into the shadows. Her eyes flitted upwards to the beacon of light hanging in the sky, now mocking her with its disloyalty and power. She hadn’t expected this. She hadn’t prepared for the events that transpired mere moments ago. For the first time in history, the heavy hand of fate had gifted a Chosen one her destiny months before the age of reckoning. Selene knew this could only mean one thing. She would need a much larger force to counter fate’s transgressions. And if fate wanted a war…a war Selene would deliver.