In my novel Moon of the Goddess, the kidnapped princess Thalassai watches the stars of Herakles’ constellation and wishes he would come to her rescue. When the kidnappers call for a story to be told, she hopes they will tell a story about one of Herakles’ successful quests. Of course, her captors would not like such a story, but here is what she wished could happen:
“Near the stars that honor our hero is the Hydra, the many headed snake that Herakles was sent to defeat. When Apollo assigned the task, the hero mounted his chariot with his nephew Iolas for the journey to the swamps of Lerna.”
Thalassai misses the next part of the story. She imagines the wind carrying the storyteller’s voice to the hero, imagines Herakles hearing his name and seeking out the one telling his story. If the hero came, he would see her plight and rescue her. When she attends to the story again, Herakles is in trouble.
“The Hydra wrapped its tail around Herakles’ foot but with a two handed swing of his sword, he smashed one of its nine heads. Screaming in pain, it squeezed his leg harder as two new heads grew from the stump. Herakles had to swing the sword as another of the Hydra’s monstrous mouths threatened him from behind. He had hardly a moment to breathe when pain shot up his leg. A giant crab dug into his ankle. He heard a laugh from Hera, his father’s wife who hated him. She cried out, ‘This little creature of mine is just an annoyance for your foot. A hero strong as you can conquer despite this creature.’ Herakles tried to kick the giant crab away but it clung tightly. He pulled his arm back and swung his sword, crashing another of the hydra’s heads and continuing to smash the shell of the crab. The crab fell away with a scream of agony, while the hydra grew two heads where the stump had been.
“Herakles wondered if it would be impossible to conquer this monster. Just then, his sword hit a rock with a spark. An idea came to him, and as he fought off another of the creature’s heads, wounding its eye, he called to his companion Iolas. ‘Start a fire. You will burn the neck as soon as I cut off the head.’ With a wide sweep of his sword, he cut off the snake’s head at its root, even though he knew two would grow back. Iolas needed time to build up the fire.”
Thalassai’s mind drifts as the storyteller pauses for breath. She knows her brother will try to rescue her, but he needs time, too. She imagines him pacing a beach a day’s sailing behind her.
“Finally, Herakles destroyed one head of the hydra, and Iolas jumped in to cauterized the neck. Ten more times, Herakles swung his sword to cut off a head, and Iolas burned the neck so that it could not grow another. Only the immortal head of the hydra remained. With a might swing, Heracles severed the last neck. The hydra’s head snarled and snapped, but with his nephew, he buried it in the ground and rolled a huge boulder on top of it. That was the end of the monster that had terrorized Lerna, the end of Herakles second labor.”
That successful rescue is the story she wished she heard. To read what story the kidnappers chose to tell, you will have to wait for Moon of the Goddess available November 13th from Prizm Books and soon after on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and at local bookstores.