Good morning (or afternoon, or evening) everyone! 2020 has been… well, I think we all know how 2020 has been. I've had my share of challenges, and I don't doubt the rest of you have. But I'm not here to share a sob story.
I finished the first draft Khtnonios last year and it is now part of the historical mythology universe I started when I wrote the very first chapter of Darkness Becomes Her (now published as Seeds) although Khthonios is stand-alone and can be read on its own. It's been edited and improved from what's available for reading on this site, and is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple Store, Smashwords, etc etc in both e-book and print.
Below is the edited prologue, much better than the original.
Though Hades is a creature of the darkness, he remembers a time when there was only light. It may be hard to believe that the dread Lord of the Underworld could have ever been anything but. However, Fate decreed that he should not keep his innocence for very long, because of the violent legacy that preceded him.
No, no. It could not possibly end like this! Facing ruin at the hands of his own family, his offspring! They owed him their very existence! If not for him, Hellas would not exist! How could this happen to him? He was ageless and timeless, a being born of the heavens!
He was the one who had brought rains to the valleys and fields of this realm, to make things grow to feed gods, beasts, and mortals alike. He'd existed before Hellas was settled, and had witnessed hunter-gatherers settling in the area, attracted by the relatively mild weather and fertile lands that were a result of the warming of the continent as the ice receded to the far north.
Over the centuries, the Hellenes developed a more sustainable way of life, learning to collect seeds from plants and create crops that could feed larger numbers of people instead of relying on gathering from whatever plants they could find within an area. Domestication of animals followed, from chickens to sheep and goats. The humans also kept cats and dogs that were descended from those who fed off the vermin that followed the crops, and those who lived off the scraps left by humans and were trained as guardians and herders.
Weapons and tools of leather, flint, and wood augmented their ability to manipulate the environment around them. In time, these early peoples also started to develop the art of smelting lead and copper, which translated into improved ornaments, tools, and weapons.
The mortals worshiped him as the All-father, the life-giver, the one whose essence seeded the fertile earth to give the humans the sustenance they needed. Sometimes he came down to the land and coupled with a nubile maiden, but his seed never took root, and he was unable to understand why.
Then Gaea came along. The mortals started to worship her as well, thanking her for the bounty that came from the land. He was intrigued by her, and taken by her beauty.
However, she first took his elder brothers as lovers; Tartaros of the dark realms below the earth, and then Pontos of the deep realms of the sea. He watched with envy as she mated with them, and bore them offspring. The mortals revered her as the All-mother and went to her for blessings. His desire for her only grew, and he longed to possess her, but every time he came to her, she turned him away, seeking the embrace of her other lovers.
Finally, she accepted his attentions. In her, his seed took root, and she bore him a dozen children, strong and varied in their talents, and he took pride in them, for his sons were handsome and his daughters beautiful, and Tartaros and Pontos did not even have that many offspring between them.
His happiness ended when Gaea bore children on her own, using no man's seed. Giants that could dig and plow with their hands, and creatures with one eye that while not as powerful as their larger brothers, made up for it with nimbleness. She'd formed them from the earth, breathed into them her essence, causing a new sort of life than what usually grew from the soil.
Life was supposed to spring from the union between male and female, an intractable truth from the lowest of animals to the mightiest of gods. A woman was not meant to create life on her own, and he could only see Gaea's creations as abominations.
He cast them away, refusing to bear the sight of them or acknowledge their existence. He ignored Gaea's tears and anger, and banished his brothers' children as well. Hellas was his, and he would have no one, not even Gaea, defy his authority!
As more and more people worshiped Gaea, his jealousy and ire grew. He turned his wrath upon them, demanding that they worship him and him alone, above all else. Hellas was his first, and it would remain so. He would not allow his mate or children to usurp the adulation he so rightfully deserved.
His children rose against him, calling him arrogant and cruel, accusing him of not being a good father or ruler. He cursed them and his lover, and lashed out at them, attempting to put them in their place. He had existed for millennia, and would not see his rule ended! He repelled his offspring, admonishing them, causing the heavens itself to shake with his wrath.
Unfortunately, Kronos proved more crafty than his siblings or mother by pretending to surrender, bending the knee and swearing fealty to his sire. Kronos had always been his favorite child, for he saw the most of himself in his youngest son than any of his other sons or daughters. Ouranos blessed his son with his power, and Kronos used it to keep his siblings obedient.
He did not realize Kronos's true intentions until it was too late. When he tried to use his power against his son, Kronos simply laughed, wrapping his hands around his father's neck, Ouranos tried to struggle, but Kronos did something that horrified him.
His son had been bestowed with a Gift that his father had never imagined anyone could possess. It was the power to drain someone else of their essence. Never in his many centuries of existence had the All-father felt so helpless. His children surrounded him, and Iapetos handed the ill-fated sickle to Kronos.
The blade came down, slicing his flesh. He recognized Gaea's magic in the weapon, and the cuts seared into his very being. He tried to fight, to summon the strength of the heavens, to make the skies lash out at his wayward offspring, but his life and power drained from him with every slash of the sickle.
He looked up at Kronos, who had eyes exactly like his own. He might no longer have the power to actively bring down those who had betrayed him, but he could still curse them, and so he did.
"Hear this, son of mine!" he managed to gasp out as blood filled his lungs from the puncture wounds to his chest, energy sapping from him as his body tried to heal itself. "For the unforgivable act of betraying your father, you will suffer the same fate! Fear your children, and forever rue the day that you brought about my demise!"
His son laughed at him as Ouranos felt the blade slice through his neck, but he saw the tiniest flick of fear in Kronos's eyes before the darkness engulfed him.