I’m happy to have a second bite at the apple! (For those of you who are confused by that statement, I totally screwed up my post last month, thinking it was THIS month’s theme. So I get to write about deleted scenes again!)
While I’ve been publishing mostly contemporary romances lately, I love to write fantasy. Urban fantasy. Science Fiction. Twists on mythology. Love, love, love writing those stories. A few years back, I was lucky enough to sell an urban fantasy series, Alliance of the Amazons, to Carina Press. In the first book, I wanted readers to learn the “rules” of my world by experiencing it the same way heroine Rebecca sees this strange universe unfold. But for the second book, I wrote a myth that explains when and where the Amazons were created. After a lot of thought and discussion, my editor and I finally decided to cut the myth.
I’ve only allowed this myth to be published twice by two blogger friends, so I’d love to use my post today to share it all with you! It’s especially timely since Harlequin has decided to take the first two books in the series into print!
So here’s the myth behind my series. I hope you enjoy it!
As the blade had thrust through Arthur’s heart, Rhiannon’s own heart bled. Now, the Lady of the Lake stood on a distant hill, staring down upon the carnage at Salisbury Plain. Rhiannon loved these people, these warriors, these knights who had sworn their allegiance to her Arthur. Aye, she loved them all. At least as much as a goddess could love humans. She had offered them her benevolence, and their worship had fed her powers.
A flash of light announced the arrival of another Ancient. Rhiannon glanced to the Norse goddess Freya of Folkvang who now stood at her side.
“See what she has wrought?” The Lady of the Lake swept her arm out. “My own priestess!”
“Morgaine the witch?” Freya brushed her long, white-blond hair over her shoulder.
“One and the same. She had no right, Freya.”
“Aye, my friend. So much trouble in this world caused by those who wish they could be one of our legion.”
Another flash of light brought the Mayan goddess Ix Chel—another Rhiannon counted among her friends. Her dark eyes scanned the bloody landscape as she fisted her hands at her sides.
“A shame. Such a waste of life,” Ix Chel finally said with a shake of her head. “And your Arthur?”
“Dead. By the hand of his bastard son.” Rhiannon closed her eyes and sighed. Then she opened them again to look at Freya. “This must end. This senseless killing must end.”
“Aye, it must.” Freya gave a decisive nod before her face grew pensive. “But how? Men are wont to kill men. ’Tis the way of the humans. Never happy with what they have, always seeking more, more, more.”
“Not all their kind.” The Indian goddess Ganga shimmered into place at Ix Chel’s side. “The human women live in peace.”
Ix Chel and Freya murmured their agreement.
“Not a woman,” Ganga replied. “A witch. A force of evil in this world. The women, the human women, are a gift. They love. They give. They survive. If only women could rule the humans.”
“Nay,” Freya said, idly stroking the brown fur trimming the sleeve of her long gown. “’Tis a foolish wish. They have not the power. Men have the muscle, the strength. They shall always force their will upon others. Women use their intelligence and compassion instead.”
“Just as goddesses are more benevolent than gods,” Ix Chel added.
Her friends murmured their agreement, but Rhiannon didn’t bother to correct that misassumption. She’d encountered too many goddesses over the millennia who were more than willing to prove they could be every bit as ruthless as the gods.
“’Tis a shame,” she finally said, “that we cannot give their women the power of their men and force their men to be the caretakers of their children. Aye, let them labor to bring those children into the world. All the men do is receive the pleasure of the mating act. The women suffer the consequences.”
“That would be wonderful,” Ganga said with a grin. “A bit of justice such as a poet would impose.”
“Hmm,” Freya said, laying a finger against her cheek. “Perhaps…”
Rhiannon stared at Freya, knowing the way her friend’s mind worked. “You are about mischief again.”
A smile broke out on Freya’s face. “We may not be able to give all the women the strength of men…” Her voice faded as her smile grew even brighter. “Perhaps we can give that power to some of the women.”
Ganga clapped her hands as she seemed to warm to the idea. “Not women. Warriors. Women of impeccable character who have the heart and courage to do the right thing, even when it is the most difficult thing to do.”
“Not merely men, but against all who would rule in our place,” Rhiannon said. “Aye. I will make such a warrior. No, several warriors. At least one in each generation. One whose heart is bound to my Earth.” The more her mind worked, the more Rhiannon felt the weight of her great loss ease. “I shall give her skills and magicks with which to destroy those who try to usurp the power of the Ancients. She shall make the ground move as she wishes, creating earthquakes with naught but her will. She shall have domain over the land and it will do her bidding. She will live a very long life, should she not die in battle. Longer than mere mortals. And she shall be replaced by another woman of my Earth upon her death.”
“I could add a warrior with my benevolence and grant her the power of Fire,” Freya offered. “She may use flames as her weapon and change into one of my beloved hawks to search the heavens for trouble.” Freya gave Rhiannon an affectionate cuff on the shoulder. “Aye. A marvelous idea, my friend. A duo of women who could hunt down troublesome demigods.”
“And witches. Perhaps even demons,” Ix Chel added. “Not a duo. A trio. I shall give one of these remarkable women the power of my sky. The power to use Air for her will, to know not the confines of gravity. She may harness the strength of a storm, and she shall rain down lightning as a weapon.”
“And my beloved river,” Ganga said, “shall flow through the veins of my Water. She shall swim as the mermaids, control the waters with her heart and heal the other warriors who fight at her side, just as the sacred Ganges heals those who worship me.”
Freya frowned. “’Twould be unfair to those we call. I had not thought of the sacrifice we would be asking of these warriors.”
“Aye,” Rhiannon said. “They are sure to die in battle.”
“They must not have children,” Ganga added. “Bearing children would keep them confined while the child grows inside them, and a family could easily be used against them, held as hostages to bend our warriors to a demon’s will.”
Rhiannon sighed. “They will sacrifice much in the cause to protect our people and receive little in return.” She snapped her fingers and the ground rumbled in response to her emotions. “We should gift them with something to ease the pain that they cannot be mothers.”
“Gift them?” Ix Chel asked, knitting her brows.
“Since they shall fight like men,” Rhiannon said, “they should love like men. They may take lovers where they choose, when they choose.”
“’Tis a wicked thought, that they may lie with any man,” Freya said with laughter in her voice, “as if they are Ancients, loving freely and often.”
“But it is truly a fitting gift.” Ix Chel maintained her typically sober tone. “To aid in their pleasure, no sickness shall infect them. Let them find their amusements where they may for they will be like the shooting stars in my sky. Bright and brilliant but, with the battles they face, sometimes not long for this world.”
Rhiannon held out her hand, her palm facing her beloved Earth. “Then a pact we have made here today. Four women, gleaned from each generation should evil befall the humans, who will work for the good of humanity and protect them from those who would destroy them.”
Freya laid her hand over Rhiannon’s. Ix Chel and Ganga quickly followed.
“Our Amazons,” Rhiannon interrupted with a bold smirk.
Freya laughed. “You are challenging Artemis by using the name of her warriors, my friend. Will you two forever be at odds?”
“Aye,” Rhiannon drawled. “Until she learns who the more powerful Ancient is, we shall. Her arrogance sits like a thistle under my skin. So I shall take the name of her women for my own.”
“So be it,” Ganga replied. “Our Amazons will have our benevolence. Earth, Fire, Air and Water.”
“But who shall train them?” Ix Chel asked.
“I shall provide a man,” Rhiannon replied, “a great warrior such as my Arthur who shall answer to us for the training and care of our chosen women.”
“You know such men?” Freya asked. “Men like your knights who lie on Salisbury Plain are not plentiful.”
Rhiannon glanced back to her fallen warriors, those who had followed her Arthur to his death. “Nay, not plentiful, but I know of such men. They call to me in tragedy, asking my help when one they love has fallen. I shall answer the right one and place him as the soldier to show our Amazons the way. He shall be a gatekeeper to a home I will provide. A Sentinel to guard over a new Avalon.”
“What gifts shall you give to him, this warrior who nobly sacrifices his future for one he loves?” Freya asked.
Rhiannon replied with a haughty smile. “I shall give them the greatest gift that comes from my Earth. Immortality.”
“As even we each have a weakness,” Ganga added. “He is, after all, still a mere human.”
Rhiannon agreed, although she hated constraints being put on her magicks. As one of the most powerful of all the Ancients, she shouldn’t have to bow to the wishes of the legion. But the anger of the other gods and goddesses wouldn’t fall to her—it would fall to the Amazons. “I relent to your wishes. A blade piercing his heart can cost him his life.”
“We shall shield each other.” Ganga’s words stilled the goddesses for a few moments.
“Each other?” Ix Chel broke the silence.
With her typical caution, Ganga added, “For the other Ancients will be angered at our interference.”
Rhiannon nodded. “From this day forth, we four shall stand firm, protecting our Amazons and each other so that we may all protect the world.”
Four divine voices joined in power and in pledge, changing the fate of humanity. “So be it!”
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