Hero For Hire by C.B. Pratt
Multiple-genre author C.B. Pratt* brings a HERO FOR HIRE to life. Armed with a wry voice and a swift sword, Eno the Thracian finds his simple mission to rid an island of a harpy turns into a mystery that shakes the throne of Zeus Himself. With both Hekate, Witch Queen of the Underworld, and Aphrodite, Goddess of Desire, taking a ‘personal’ interest in Eno, the secrets of his early life will become unexpectedly important if he is to overcome the evil that threatens the entire world.
Eurytos squatted down on his haunches, the fourth man standing behind him. “Put out the arrow, Eno. You don’t need it now.”
I extinguished it in the sand. “What do you want?”
“It’s what you should want that matters. I have just been sent a message regarding you.”
The jocularity had faded from his tone. He huddled down as if he were cold, his teeth chattering together. He did not look at me, while the man behind him never took his eyes off me. It began to bother me, that steady stare. He wore a hat like a farmer’s with a brim so deep I couldn’t see his eyes but I could feel them.
“Sent a message? Who came here?”
“She doesn’t need mortal mouths to speak to me, her faithful servant.”
“She?” Doris the Crone had spoken of a goddess. I’d assumed it was Artemis. She had domination over animals and had been known to turn men into them from time to time, usually after a spied-upon bath in the woods. But she wouldn’t turn animals into men. She liked them better than us, not that she had much opinion of the males of any species.
Eurytos dropped his hand and began idly drawing figures in the sand. “Do you know what it is to die? You who have dispatched many a soul to the Underworld?”
“Not yet.” This conversation had taken a strange turn.
“I died…once. A sea-captain cut off my hand, thrust his knife into my heart and threw me overboard. I sank down into the sea, deeper and deeper, colder and colder, for what seemed forever. Do you know there are fire-filled cracks at the bottom of the ocean, great fissures that run for miles? You fall through the blackness and the cold then suddenly you see below you light and fire and heat. The cracks are deep, so deep they open into Hades itself! There I fell, time out of mind. There She found me, made me her servant…made me? I begged her to let me serve her and she sent me back. But not as I had been. She gave me power over the beasts, to change them as I had been changed.”
“So what’s the message?”
“What?” Eurytos looked up, his hand hesitating above the last symbol.
“You said there was a message?”
“Yes, there is. Listen well for She will not ask you again.”
Behind him, his dead brother opened his mouth and there emerged a voice that seemed to come rumbling from the ground like an earthquake. “This land was opened to her will by her servant, Nausicaa, and is promised to her servant, Eurytos. Leave and hide yourself away in some small corner of the earth. We will not seek you further. Or stay and serve her as we all serve her. She offers you wide dominion, leadership over her deathless armies and eternal life.”
The dead jaws creaked shut. They had not moved except to open, forming no words.
Genre: Fantasy, Alternate History