So, I’m still not going to snippet from Pixie Noir, although I did write 830 words on it yesterday (in 40 minutes! I can do this…) and will hopefully finish it within the timeline. The reason I’m going to snippet from something else is, this one will be published soon. And I’m that kind of tease!
Enjoy! This is not the beginning of the story, which I have snippeted elsewhere… this is the beginning of it all going wrong for our young heroine.
Linn fell asleep quickly, worn out with her long day of traveling. In the middle of the night she woke up with the familiar feeling of a crampy stomach. Her period had started. Yuck. She rolled over to get out of bed and then realized that there was someone in the cabin talking to Grampa Heff.
“You do realize you cannot stay out of this forever.” A heavy male voice, dripping with anger and a strange accent.
“We choose to treat Haephestus as a refuge.” A sibilant and melodius female voice. Linn thought she had a speech impediment.
Linn crawled out of bed, her belly cramps forgotten and slid to the edge of the loft where she could see into the sitting area below. Four figures stood down there in the dimly lit room. The two closest to the door were very big. If they walked under the loft they would have to duck. The one on the couch appeared to be huddled under Grampa’s afghan. Grampa Heff himself was straddling a kitchen chair he had turned backwards and was leaning his crossed arms on the back of it.
“Vulcan – ah, Haephestus, as you prefer. You choose to live unnaturally. We would rather not force you to return with us.”
“I chose to make myself happy, not your lot. And do you recall what happened last time I was forced?”
Linn could see a grimace pass over the man’s face. In the firelight his skin was unusually red, as was his hair. She wondered why Grampa hadn’t lit a lamp.
“I cannot and will not leave here.” The woman on the couch declared, sitting up suddenly. Linn startled as she realized that the woman was a cat… This was her grandfather’s barn cat, talking and sitting on the couch.
The big man stepped toward her, casting his face into shadow. Linn could still hear the sneer in his voice. “Bastet’s Daughter, you are the least of our concerns. Vulcan may take on strays and broken… beings, but we do not.”
“I would not go with you, even without my obligations here.” Grampa interjected.
“Oh, the child.” The man’s dismissive tone made Linn’s blood boil.
“Not just a child. Blood of my blood.”
“Which I’m sure she knows nothing about. To her, you are just a broken down old smith.”
“Her mother has told her what we are, I am certain.”
“She could not even see me if she were able to wake from the spell I cast over her.”
Linn blinked in surprise. Not only was she wide awake, riveted to the conversation below, but she could see the red man, the cat woman, and the bulk of something else (she was no longer sure it was a man) near the door in the shadows. And as for ‘what she was’… she was a human being. Wasn’t she? Linn remembered her mother once telling her that not all myths and fairy tales were made up. Many of the old tales had a grain of truth in them.
“There are very powerful things in this world of ours, things that most people cannot see or accept if they do see them.” Theta’s voice had gone dreamy, and Linn saw that her eyes were focussed somewhere far away. “My family is a powerful one, and you have a little of that power, my sweet. If you see strange things, or feel like you did something you cannot explain, then I will tell you more.”
Linn dragged her attention back to the scene below. Her mother wasn’t there to explain, but she knew who she was going to talk to as soon as their visitors left.
“I think the child will surprise you, Mars.” Grampa Heff’s voice was mild. Linn suddenly caught the connection of names. Mars and Vulcan were gods. Bastet was the cat god of Egypt. Who were these people? Who was her grandfather? Linn felt dizzy even lying flat on the floor.
“In any case,” Her grandfather stood up and Linn could see the fire shimmering through his halo of white hair. She suddenly wondered what color it had been when he was young. “You will leave now. I have no intention of abandoning my work.”
“You will come to Olympus.”
“You can’t make me.”
“Oh, I have ways…” Mars backed out of the door. His unseen bodyguard had already gone out.
Grampa Heff sighed and ran his hands through his hair, making it stand even more on end. He looked up toward Linn. “Come on down, child.”
Lid slid down the ladder. “How did you know?”
He chuckled and hugged her. “I could hear you breathing, little one. How much did you hear?”
Linn realized he was asking her how much she had really understood. “Not much… why did he call you Vulcan? Where did he want you to go? Was he really red?”
Her grandfather laughed. “Vulcan is one of my names, the gods are meeting to arrange the fate of the world and he is indeed, red.”
“The fate of the world? Gods? What?” Her dizzy feeling came back.
“Sit, child.” Bastet’s Daughter, forgotten behind her, reached out a soft and very large paw to pull her down onto the couch. Linn sank down next to the warm bulk of the cat, who was now closer to tiger-sized.
“You grew.” Linn muttered.
The cat laughed.
Grampa Heff smiled. “I think we need to explain, but first, hot cocoa.”
“He wanted you to come with him and leave me here?”
“The gods care naught for mortals.” The cat yawned, showing her pink tongue and very long fangs. “I am only a goddess, so I do care.” She licked Linn’s cheek. “Kittens and children are to be cherished.”
“A goddess?” Linn felt like some of her skin was missing. That was a very rough tongue.
“I am daughter of Bastet, sometimes known as Bast, I am known as Hathor and Sekhmet. I have the power to walk among mortals seeming as a mere housecat. I am also a god.”
“God is a misnomer, Sekhmet.” Grampa Heff corrected.
“True, but it amuses me.” Her chuckle morphed into a purr that shook Linn.
“Here you are,” he handed Linn a steaming mug of cocoa with marshmallows bobbing in it. She sipped gratefully at the rich, sweet liquid. “Mortals call us gods, but the truth is, we are simply immortal beings that can learn and last long enough to seem like magic to those who have not the gift of long life.”
“But you can do magic. Mars said he had cast a spell.”
“Well…” he hesitated. “It isn’t precisely magic.”
The cat snorted. “Close enough to pass for it.”
He sighed. “True. So, yes, I can do magic. As you can at least a little.”
“Me?” Linn squeaked.
“You were awake, watching, and listening. So yes, you can see much more than a mere mortal could.”
“But I must be about… a quarter, um, whatever you are?”
He shook his head. “Your mother is fully immortal. Your grandmother is immortal, and a child of two immortals is one. You are half mortal.”
Linn blinked. “Why did…. Mars come to summon you?”
“The immortals are growing afraid of the mortals. They believe that unless technology is stopped, the mortals will achieve what they have already – power.”
“I don’t think they can stop technology.”
“They can.” He said grimly, getting that faraway look on his face that her mother sometimes wore. “They have done it before. Humanity would have come much further if it were not for the Great Falls of civilization.”
He rubbed his face and sighed. “I was looking forward to a quiet summer vacation with you.”
“And I to raising my kittens in peace.” Sekhmet muttered.
Linn looked back and forth between the two of them. “Can you… stop them?”
Heff shrugged. “There are more than the two of us that care about mortals. We can stop them if we can persuade all to work together, but I am afraid it will be messy.”
He looked at the Cat, who was curled mostly around Linn. Linn’s eyes were drooping in spite of herself as the warm, softly furred creature purred to her.
“Sekhmet, can I ask you to go and speak to those who have assumed beast form?”
“My kittens?” She reminded him gently.
“Well, I think we can supply a babysitter.” He looked at the child, half asleep already.
“True.” the amusement was back in her voice. Linn thought drowsily that the cat must have a great sense of humor, she always seemed to be laughing, or about to. They may have talked more, but Linn didn’t hear it, being fast asleep.