Chapter One

"So what's on your mind, Acheron Parthenopaeus?" Elysia asked. The two were walking down the banks of the rainbow waterfall of Mt. Olympus. She stopped just into the water, holding her gown up so the edges didn't get damp. Her warm brown eyes watched him.

"My mind?" Ash asked, watching her, with her chocolate colored hair cascading down around her body, the ends resting no shorter than her waist. "What makes you think something's on my mind?"

"It's written all over your face, filos" she said, calling him the Greek word for friend.

Some part of him warmed at her name for him. She alone had reached puberty without suddenly wanting him physically. To this day, he didn't understand her. Every other woman, and many men, had wanted his body but Elysia was content to be with him, to be his friend.

"I have heard some bad news," he confided.

"What bad news?" Elysia moved from the water, to the bank, where she sat completely lady-like. Her long pale legs stretched out into the water.

Ash sat beside her. "A dark-hunter was hurt, badly. They do not know if he will heal."

"I'm sorry."

With a slight smile, Ash nodded. She meant it too. Elysia didn't say anything she did not mean. "I just wish I could go to him."

"Artemis has you trapped again?"


Silence fell between them. Elysia didn't like the unhappiness she felt from Ash just now. It made her heart ache. "Is there nothing I can do?"

Acheron looked up at her, from beneath his sunshine hair, silver eyes swirling mysteriously. "Would you go to him, for me?"

"If it would please you," She reached out for him, but caught herself at the last second, just before her fingers brushed his handsome face. He didn't like to be touched. "I hate to see you so sad, filos."

"I will send you to him, if you'll go."

"I will," Elysia smiled. "I will watch after him for you."

Gathering his power, Ash reached out and placed his hands on her cheeks. With a soft kiss on the forehead, she dissolved, appearing outside a massive mansion.

Through the momentary dizziness, she heard Ash's voice as he whispered. Nurture him back to health, Elysia. Only you can reach him now.

Surprised by his faith in her, she scurried up the steps to the door. It opened of its own accord, and she slipped inside.

As the doors closed, Elysia called into the stillness. "Hello?"

That moment she realized she didn't even know the name of man she came to save. She had only wanted to make Ash happy. He was her dearest friend and his heartache was painful to her. She wondered if he cared this much for all his Dark-Hunters.

"Who are you?" a smooth southern masculine voice asked, sharply from behind her.

She turned, and found a tall man, well over six feet, pointing a gun at her. Her eyes widened. "I-I'm Elysia."

"What are you doing here?" the man's dark eyes watched her carefully from under the brim of his cowboy hat.

Gathering her courage, she was a goddess, after all, she answered. "Acheron has sent me."

"Ash sent you?" he lowered the gun ever so slightly.

"Yes," she nodded, breathing a slight sigh of relief. While a shot wouldn't kill her, it would hurt like hell. "He could not come himself but he knew one of his…men was injured."

The man holstered the gun; through his eyes showed he wasn't really any less wary of her. "What are you?"

"Demigoddess, technically." She was complicated, that's what she was. Her mother was the muse Euterpe, her father, the god Apollo. The affair was very hush-hush, which meant everyone on Olympus knew about it.

The man raised an eyebrow. "You goddess of healing or somethin'?"

"Or something," she offered. "Who are you?"

"Jess Brady, ma'am," her offered her a slight tilt of his hat, which made her smile.

Elysia knew him now. "Sundown."

"You know me?" He was mildly shocked.

"Ash talks about all of his Dark-Hunters. Any time you asked him about himself he deflects, offering some tidbit about one of you."

"Sounds like Ash," Sundown nodded, with a slight smile. "Expect the talking at all part."

"It took centuries to get through to him," she laughed.

Sundown nodded again. "You must be here for Nikola."

Nodding, Elysia followed through the house. It was impressive to say the least. The floors were all dark mahogany, the stairs made of black granite.

"I have to say I'm glad you're here though. He's needs rest and there aint no way for him to gain back his powers while I'm here."

Opening a door, Sundown let her in first. It was clearly the master bedroom. On the bed lay Nikola. His blond hair fell across his pillow, while his handsome face was twisted in pain.

Her heart going out to him, Elysia quickly went to his side. "Why isn't he in his base form?" she placed her gently petite hands on his forehead. He was burning up.

Sundown shrugged. "He won't change."

Kneading his temples, with her tiny hands, she whispered. "Come on. Let go, honey."

As if he heard her, his form flashed. One moment are massive man lay writhing in pain, the next a large black wolf lay in his place.