Times of War-Sneak Peek
From Chapter Six of the upcoming “Times of War” by Lisa Beth Darling. Copyright 2022. All Rights Reserved.
In Ares’ empty Fortress, little Rose toddled around happily gathering the seeds her Mother put on the list. She went straight upstairs to the solarium full of dead plants and to her Mother’s work station where she threw open the cabinet doors and grabbed every single glass jar filled with seeds. Carefully she put them into a pack and then used her powers to send them down to Blue Mountain where Alena was waiting for their arrival. Coming back down to the second floor, she went to an unused bedroom that served as a storage room. She rummaged around for quite a while through drawers and boxes until she found two more items on the list. She tossed the soft blankets that had swaddled her little body and her Brother’s when they were babies over her shoulder. Humming a little tune she continued her work until she came up with a round piece of plaster that had a small handprint embedded in it. It was painted purple and red. On the back was etched one word; Raven. Rosie smiled as she tried to think of her big Brother being so small and she put her own hand into the grooves of his fingers to find they were nearly a perfect fit. For a moment her smallness crashed in around her and she felt as she began to wonder if she would ever grow any bigger. Ever. At all.
With all of her Mother’s items now gathered and safe, Rose sauntered down to her old bedroom. She felt a little scared when she put her hand on the knob and wondered if they were mad at her for leaving them behind. Quietly opening the big door she stuck her little head inside and called out, “‘Lo! It’s me!”
The room was silent.
She wandered over to where her toys were having an eternal tea party seated at a round table in the middle of the room. “‘Lo?” She asked with dismay. “You ‘live?” She shook one of the stuffed bears. “Peas?” When none of the toys moved she shook the bear harder. “Peas??? I sorry! Peas????” Rose picked up the dusty bear to hug it tight as she started to cry. “Oh, peas.” She snuggled her teary face into its plush body. “They no lis’en. I say but…peas! No be dead!”
It was true, Rose tried very hard to tell her Parents that were Fairies in the toys she was told to leave behind but they did not listen.
The bear in her arms moved to put its little paws around her neck and give her a little squeeze, “We thought you were never coming back.” It whispered in her ear.
“Oh! Oh! Oh! YAY!” Rose cried out as she started to dance around in a circle. “You ‘live!!!! We go HOME!”
As Hunter crept into his Father’s Fortress he heard his Sister upstairs shouting out with what sounded like glee. He wanted to go up there and spy on her but he had other things to do while she was distracted. Without a sound he made his way to the Armory in the basement. His eyes lit up when he saw his prize standing in the corner by the cold hearth. “You’re mine now,” he whispered to the set of armor imbued with so power it made the wearer invincible. Stealthily walking up to it he reached out trembled fingertips to touch the thick but soft leather. “Mine,” he whispered again. “I bet the old fuck’s even forgotten you’re here.” Grabbing the full set from helmet to guards he sent down to Blue Mountain with no one the wiser. There was one more thing of Ares’ the Hunter wanted and it was in his Father’s trophy case in his Throne Room.
Coming back up the stairs he listened intently for any sounds Rose was making and heard her, still upstairs, still talking to her stupid toys. On tiptoes he crept into the Throne Room where his Father’s intimidating Throne of Bones sat collecting dust. Opening the door of the glass floor to ceiling bookcase he peered inside looking at all of the spoils of war his Father had collected over the eons. The one he wanted was found on the fourth shelf sitting just behind Hermes’ Caduceus, which Hunter thought would also be useful so he plucked it from the case, he found the Ring of Gyges which gave the wearer the power of invisibility. He was dying to try it out. Holding it over his finger he began sliding it on when an angry little voice behind him shouted;
“Wa’t you do here? G’out!”
Hunter turned around as he stuffed the ring into his back pocket and looked at his Sister, “It’s my house you little retard,” he sneered. “I can take whatever I want.”
“Humph!” Rose snorted in return as she shook her finger at him as she took in the Caduceus lying on her Father’s Throne. “‘T’ief! No yours. Dah-dees!” She pointed past him and toward the archway that led to the front corridor to repeat her demand, “G’out! You. No. Go!”
“I’m not a thief. No one wants this shit it’s just gonna rot here.” With no one around to stop him, Hunter took a menacing step toward her, “As for me getting out? Why don’t you make me, you little shit? I’d like to see you try.”
“Yeah?” Rose dared as she met his challenge and pushed up her sleeves. “OH-KAY!”
"Valaks!" Hunter bellowed. "Aporripto!"
Rose wasn’t going to stand for that as she stomped her foot on the ground and planted one hand firmly on her little hip to learn forward and hiss at her nasty half-brother, “I no stu-pad reeee-ject!” She pointed at herself then at him as she angrily shook her finger at him. “Esý! Eisai kakos! Ilíthie!” After telling Hunter that he was the stupid reject, she stomped her uneven foot on the marble floor of her Father’s parlor with such force that the dual hearths, long cold, sprang to life with a roar. Pointing to the entry way, Rose repeated her demand, “G’out!” Rose screamed and then lowered her voice as her eyes smolder, “Or I hurt you.”
“Yeah? You and what…your Teddy Bear Army?” Hunter scoffed as he balled his fists. “Stupid retarded little baby.” He knew he couldn’t hurt her no matter how much he wanted to. If he put so much as one scratch on the angry little Polly Princess in front of him, their Father would have his ass in a permanent sling. All Hunter really wanted to do was get out, just like she wanted, but without her telling Ares he’d been there to begin with and, of course, with the Caduceus glittering just out the grasp of his fingertips.
“Yeah. Me. Them.” Rose pointed to the bears scattered on the floor.
Hunter shook his head and started to laugh, “Yeah, ok, Rose, you and the fucking bears.” His laughter started to faltered when two of the bears rose off the ground to float in the air next to his pissed off droopy faced Sister. “That’s cute, ooo, I’m so scared.” As the words came out of his mouth, Hunter realized that maybe he should be. Those bears, those coal dead eyes, they didn’t seem so dead. “Is that the best you can do? Start a few fires and make some teddy bears hover?”
“No,” Rose chirped.
Just as Hunter was about to laugh again, one of the bears winked at him then it flew at him. Expecting nothing more than the soft impact of fake fur and stuffing Hunter didn’t brace himself even though part of him felt he should. He watched the bear throw back it’s little stuffed arm and stood firm as the bear brought it forward.
Then he was on his ass with his head ringing and his jaw stinging. In amazement he watched the other toys rise up off the floor to flank his Sister and move toward him. “Are you shitting me, Rosie?” Hunter railed as he scrambled to his feet with the understanding those weren’t just toys, they were Faeries that Rose left behind in their hasty exit. “You can’t bring them back!”
“‘Vivors!” Rose asserted. “Ray-Ray said find ‘vivors. We go home now.”
“They’re not survivors you little vlakas,they’re fucking Faeries.” Suddenly seeing a bit of leverage he threatened, “I’m tellin’ Dad. You know how he feels about those goddamn bugs.”
“No bugs. No tell.”
“What are’ya gonna do? Keep ’em as pets?”
Yes, Rose knew her Father hated the Faeries and he would be very upset if he caught her smuggling them back to Blue Mountain but she couldn’t leave them here any longer. They were her friends, after all, and they deserved a nice home. Olympus, cold and empty, was not a nice place. It wasn’t a nice place when it was full of her Relatives either. They deserved to be with their own kind. The few Faeries that aided in the fight at the End of the World and a few more who’d managed to make their way to Blue Mountain later lived in a comfy little village nestled deep in the woods far away from the Big People. Rose was dead set on sneaking them off the magickal mountain and setting them free there where they could be with their kin and no longer alone here on rotting Olympus. “No pets. ‘Vivors. Fff—fr-ends. Go home. No tell Dah-dee.”
Hunter wasn’t stupid, he was well aware that, whenever she wanted, the little retarded one could cause him great pain. She was powerful but reserved like her Mother, Rosie only resorted to using her magick if she felt there was no other choice. He felt certain she would use it in defense of her little buggy buddies. Hunter was sly and he took a deep breath as he shook his head before sighing, “I dunno, Rosie, Dad really not going to like this. He’s gonna be so pissed. You’re gonna be in big trouble, you know that.” The stern expression on her face started to fall and Hunter knew he had her on the line. “But, they don’t mean nothing to me, so I’ll tell you what, we’ll make a deal, an oath, got it?” When she stayed silent but kept her dagger-like stared on him and he went on in an easy, almost Brotherly, tone. “I won’t tell our Father about your creepy little friends here and you won’t tell him that I was here.” He held out his hand to shake on the accord, “Deal?”
Rose looked at it and then to her bears who offered no opinion on the matter. It was unlike Hunter to be so agreeable but, she imagined, he’d be in just as much trouble as her if Ares found out about any of this. Therefore, it was a good offer. That was very unlike Hunter. Rose just stood there staring at him for a long moment until Hunter offered,
“Dad doesn’t want this shit, right? So who cares? Like I said, it’s just gonna rot here.” He paused for a second before adding, “Just like your little friends.”
The main reason Rose came here was to free the Faeries still residing in her toys and she was so close and Hunter was right, Ares didn’t want the stuff Hunter was taking so what difference did it make? With a huff, Rosie held out her hand to slid it into his and shake just like she’d seen the Big People do a thousand times. “Deal.”
“Alright,” Hunter said easily as he reached for the Caduceus and tucked it under his arm. “Silence is Golden. Not a word.”
“G’out,” she said in a softer tone.
“I’m goin’,” he returned with his wanted items secured. Turning to the toys he said, “You know I got a lot of bug killer down there so, ya know, don’t come looking for me.” Brushing past Rose he strode down the front corridor and out the Fortress door.
“Kólos,” Rosie muttered to her toys that stared back at her in open wonder as their button eyes blinked, “Hun’er, up to sumthin’.” She told them. She didn’t know why he wanted the Caduceus so much, as far as she knew its big power was to put people to sleep like Morpheus’ dust only the power in the Caduceus could put one, not into a dream, but a never-ending coma if Hermes, its original owner, deemed it. Hermes was long gone.
The big pot belly bear that was currently inhabited by a Faerie named Ensley put its furry paw around Rose’s neck, “We’ll keep an eye on him.”
“Yeah, gud one.” Rose muttered knowing that her forty-five minutes of free time were up. “In da bag,” she said to her toys, “Shhhhh,” she opened a duffel bag that she’d dragged down the stairs along with her bears and dolls. She watched them file inside and secured it tight before heaving it over her little shoulder before trudging to the Gazing Room.
Hunter made one last stop before gathering in the Gazing Room. Entering the Golden Palace with its open windows letting the bluster in, he wandered to the old Council Chamber where once big decision had been by the arguing Gods. Running his hand along the back wall he found the hidden doorway and smiled as he cracked it open, “They are so stupid,” he whispered as he blocked the crack open with a penknife. “Be seein’ ya. Real soon.”
I hope you have enjoyed this sneak peek at the upcoming “Times of War”. Please feel free to leave any comments below including telling me what you’d most like to see happen in this novel.