The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming novel Destroyer of Light, sequel to Receiver of Many. Destroyer of Light will contain new, previously unpublished scenes, and I retooled some of the original text. Given that RoM's original length was over 275,000 words and given that I wrote nine new scenes between the two books, I had to split RoM into two parts: Receiver of Many and Destroyer of Light. Receiver of Many was published on September 23, 2015, and Destroyer of Light on will debut on March 20, 2016. Both books will be available in trade paperback through Amazon and CreateSpace, and in ebook through Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and Smashwords. For more information, please visit kata-chthonia dot com.
"You were stolen. Ravished."
Persephone looked up at the shade in shocked silence.
"Weren't you? You wouldn't have abandoned us, would you?"
She stayed silent. "I—"
"But you are going back?"
"You are escaping, then!" Her hand tightened around Persephone's. "Quick! Let me help you! That is why you are on this side of the River, isn't it? I can show you the path back to Eleusis!"
"No, I didn't escape. This is my home now, and I—" the shade wrenched her hands away from Persephone's and took a step back, her eyes growing wide. Persephone felt her mouth go dry as fear washed over the woman's face. Her voice rose, pleading. "You don't understand. I'm going back to see my mother. To reason with her. But I will return here after I do."
"Then you— you did abandon us…"
"Hades is my husband. I am his queen."
"But everything is dying without you!"
Persephone swallowed. "I know. But I will set it right again—"
"Destroyer," the woman whispered, shaking her head and backing away. "Destroyer!"
"No, please…" Persephone whispered.
"Destroyer!" another shade wailed as it wandered past. "Destroyer!" "Katastrofeas!" she heard in the common tongue. The voices blended together in Theoi, Attic, Thracian, and other languages. "Despoina, torelle mezenai!" "Persephone!" "Ekeini pou katastrefei to fos!" "Destroyer of Light!" "Perephatta!" "She who destroys the light!"
They weren't speaking to her, but around her. It was as though her conversation had rippled outward, affecting the shades. The shoreline became a shrill chorus accented by wailing and sobbing. Destroyer of light. Persephone felt ice pour down her spine and doubled over as though the wind were knocked out of her. Her very name and its meaning.
A balance has existed here for all the years you've been alive, Praxidike, Kottos had said. You are the one who transcends and connects the worlds. You are the embodiment of balance…
She was caught between her mother and her husband, and the fate of the world was bound up with her, just as the Hundred Handed Ones said it was. No, please Fates, no… no, no, no…
"Please, I didn't mean to—"
"My Dimitris was right," the shade hissed. "You weren't there to bless us. You did nothing but curse us!"
Carrier of curses…
"I didn't… this wasn't… Please, you must believe me," Persephone cried, nearly hysterical. "I had no idea that it had become so terrible! It's why I'm going back. I— Please, tell me what I can do to help you; to take away your pain. Please!"
"Take me with you."
She blanched. "I am sorry, I cannot. I cannot."
"I must see Dimitris. He needs me!"
"You cannot ask that of me! You know there's no going back to the world of the living."
"Please, Soteira, take me back!" she cried frantically.
"Do not ask this of me, please…" she said softly, seeing the other souls take notice.
The shades around them began to cry out to her, their voices a cacophony. "Aristi, my children!" "Metra, please, spare me…" "Just once more, Thea, let me see her once more…" "Soteira, voithiste me! Voithiste me!" someone cried out in the common tongue.
The shades circled her, begging her to spare them. The Eleusinian woman backed away from her, fading to translucence. "My lady, I cannot cross the River, yet. I'm not ready. I must see Dimitr—"
And with that she was disappeared— a soundless ghost bound for the world above.
Persephone crouched and shut her eyes. She clapped her hands over her ears to block the wandering shades out, crying loudly to drown their voices. They stopped their petitions and started weeping as she was. They milled about, wailing and moaning, their cries incessant as she huddled close to the ground, too distraught to rise.
Caught between her love for her husband and her mother's love for her, she'd forgotten why she existed in the first place— for them. The mortals. To look after their eternal souls, not just when they were here, but during their brief time in the sunlit world. To feed them. To protect them.
It was a high tenor voice, almost lost to her amidst the weeping shades. It sounded so clear and distinct that she thought that it was an illusion.
She looked up through her tears to see a young man wrapped in a chlamys, his face hidden by a golden petasos. He descended from above and landed next to her.
"Wh-who…" She knew who he was. Hermes. "Why are you here?"
He lightly took her hand, barely touching her fingers. "You're free."
"Persephone, I was sent here by our father to bring you back to your mother, Demeter."
"We never asked for you to— what…" she drew in a breath as he grasped at her wrist. She wrenched it away from him. "Let go of me! What do you think you're doing?!"
"You've been freed from Hades's captivity. I'm here to bring you back to your home in the living world."
Author's Note: This is it! If you read Receiver of Many here, Destroyer of Light is the second half of the story. Thank you everyone who has supported me and followed this from the beginning and everyone who found it later! You made this happen :)