We are one week away from the release of the next Hidden book, and I have been lax in my blogging here, so I haven’t shared much about it.
The book, Godkiller, is the first book in the Hidden: Godkiller Saga story arc. It follows the events of the Hidden: Soulhunter arc, and we’re back to focusing on seeing the story told from Molly’s POV. Godkiller takes place ten years after the end of the war against the Undead, which we saw in Soulhunter.
Ten years. And in that time, Molly has essentially re-shaped the world to be what she wants it to be. She’s created a utopia: a world free from war, hunger, illness. She’s put the best of herself into making the world as amazing as it can be for her people. Of course, she has detractors. The AntiTheists, especially, hate her and her immortal friends and everything they stand for. They see Molly as a dictator and tyrant. But, they’re a small fringe and in general, Molly’s life is peaceful. She judges the dead. She loves her mate, and she has watched her two kids grow — Hades II and Zoe are both teenagers now, and coming into powers of their own.
And then… something appears that should not be, and everything Molly has built in our world is threatened. Friendships and relationships are tested, and almost no one will come out of this story unscathed.
Without further ado, here’s a little teaser from the book. Enjoy!
Hidden: Godkiller Saga #1
My name is Molly Brooks.
I am the Goddess of Death. Daughter of a Fury and Hades, who died and passed his powers on to me, leaving me to become the Lady of the Nether in his place.
I am the savior of my city.
I am the one being on this planet no one wants to mess with.
This world… this beautiful, crazy, peaceful world I’ve created, is under my protection. I make the rules. I decide who gets to play the game.
And I decide, in the end, how each and every living being will spend eternity.
In all honesty… I guess it’s not too bad being me. I mean, it used to be bad, being me. I’ve thought I was insane. I’ve been lost, lonely, forgotten. I’ve been tortured and beheaded. Blown up. Drowned. Buried alive.
That really sucked. Not gonna lie.
But I’ve reached the point in my life where my enemies are long gone, dead at my hand or the hand of one of those I trust. I’m the bitch who rules the world.
It’s perfect. So why does my blood cry out for the insanity of battle, the sight of my enemies’ blood bathing my sword? How fucked up is it that I’ve created world peace, and I dream of war?
* * *
I sped through Detroit, my foot on the gas, the roar of the engine like music to my ears. Familiar landscapes blurred past my windows as I let the Barracuda do exactly what she was meant to do: leave everything behind her in the dust. AC/DC blared on the stereo, and cool air kissed my skin through the open windows. The sky was pitch black, just like my car, just like the uniform I wore as a Fury and the goddess of death, just like the darkest parts of me, the parts that relish destruction and pain, that thrive on the fear of my enemies. The only time I felt more alive was when I was crushed beneath my mate’s enormous, muscled body.
I smiled and hit the gas a little harder. Speaking of which, Nain should be home by now.
I neared the Netherwoods, a place visible only to the immortals and a few select supernaturals, and then, only if they were explicitly invited and escorted by one of us. We spent as many nights as we could in our house, the house Nain had rebuilt for me on the site of my old place, which had been blown up by a former enemy. But tonight, we were stuck in the Netherwoods because my aunt and mother had earned a night away from the souls they guarded and punished, and they were excited to see some 1980s-themed concert.
I will never understand their taste in music.
So tonight, it was me and Nain. I knew our kids weren’t likely to be around. Hades, at thirteen, had a busier social life than I’d had in my entire life, and Zoe would likely be somewhere in the Netherwoods, but we would only see her if she wanted to be seen. Some days, she wanted to be around us more than others.
All I had ahead of me was a night, alone, with Nain. Of course, chances were about fifty-fifty that we’d start fighting about something, but even then, the chances of make-up sex afterward were a hundred percent. So really, I couldn’t lose.
I turned up the narrow road that led to the Netherwoods. I slowed as I approached, not wanting to hit an imp or something by mistake. I’d almost done that once and felt terrible about it for months afterward.
The street here was abandoned, with streetlights that worked, but only when we wanted them to. Tonight, they were out because we weren’t expecting any visitors, immortal or otherwise.
What a relief.
I followed the curve toward the gates that led into the Netherwoods themselves, and saw a flash of… something… out of the corner of my eye. I would have missed it completely if I hadn’t just been glancing that way.
A pale figure stood at the side of the road, dressed in gray, hands clasped demurely in front of her.
The second I realized who it was, I slammed the car into park and jumped out.
“What the ever-loving fuck are you doing here?” I snarled. “Where’s Nyx?”
“I don’t know what I’m doing here, and I don’t know where she is. I’m turning myself in because there is no way I should be allowed to roam free, considering.”
I studied the goddess before me, and it took nearly every bit of power I have not to kill her where she stood.
Persephone. My father’s former wife. After he’d died, she’d combined her hatred of me and her desperation to get him back by any means necessary, coming up with a plot that was so twisted, so evil, so completely fucking vile that she’d been banished from our realm, taken prisoner by my grandmother, our Creator goddess, Nyx. We were never supposed to see her again. Ever. This world had already suffered, billions of lives lost, because of Persephone’s insanity.
“What did you do to Nyx?” I asked, stepping toward her.
“I did not do anything to her, Mollis,” she said, meeting my eyes, then quickly looking away. “You’d know that if you’d actually use your powers instead of hiding behind those glasses,” she sighed.
Feeling the tiniest bit stupid, I pulled the glasses Hephaestus had made for me off of my face and looked at Persephone. Really Looked, the way only I can. The way only Hades could before me.
When I look at someone, I see everything. Their fears. Their loves. Their greatest sins and their best moments. Every secret they’ve ever kept, for better or worse. I know them all.
And I hate it. I don’t fucking want to know. I’ve seen some messed up shit thanks to this particular “gift” from my darling father. But even I have to admit that sometimes, it comes in handy.
Persephone’s sins washed over me. Lies she’d told her mother, her friends. Little things, and then, suddenly, horrid, sickening things. The kidnapping and repeated murder of my son chief among them. The deaths of nearly half of the world’s population. Deals made, all in a sick attempt to destroy me and bring Hades back to life.
She’d failed on both counts. But the world had been made to suffer just the same.
Most recently, I saw that she’d been held in a solitary state in Nyx’s getaway in the Old Nether, which was permanently cut off from our realm. I kinda broke that particular gateway. And it’s for the best, because the Old Nether is full of nightmares. And Nyx, who lives there and in the Aether when she decides to.
“What happened?” I asked, pulling a pair of thin metal bracers out of my pocket and clamping them onto her dainty wrists. They’d prevent her from rematerializing, slipping away. They’d also dampen her powers in general. Heph is a genius, I thought as I waited for her to answer.
“I was in my cell, as usual. I heard crashing sounds above, in Nyx’s living quarters. I heard her shouting, talking to someone. And I heard someone talking back. The next thing I knew, these… things burst into my cell as if the security door was nothing. They’d blasted it off of its hinges,” she added. “They dragged me upstairs and brought me to their leader, who was in the room with Nyx. He looked at me and told them to get rid of me. I assumed they were going to kill me, and one of them zapped me with what looked like a little silver button, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up here, outside the Netherwoods.”
I sensed for her as she spoke, sifted through her thoughts and memories. She was frightened, unsure. She wasn’t lying, but that didn’t mean I trusted her.
“These things that took you. What did they look like?”
“I am not sure. They were not very tall. About as tall as Eunomia, perhaps.”
“Do not even say her name,” I hissed, and she drew back as if I’d slapped her. E. My best friend, my right hand, had been killed fighting the war against the Undead. She’d come back as a soul, led an army of the dead, and destroyed the Undead hordes that had been swarming the realm. Nyx had decided, as a reward, that she deserved another chance at life and restored her to the realm of the living.
But still. E had been dead. We’d mourned her, fought for her. Cried for her. I still had nightmares about the moment she’d fallen. It had felt like losing part of myself.
“What else can you tell me?” I asked after she stayed silent while I got myself under control again.
“I did not get a good look at them. They were wearing some form of metallic armor that covered their bodies and faces completely. I am sorry.”
“Have you seen anything like them before?”
She shook her head.
“And the one you assume was their leader?”
She gave a little shudder. “Him, I saw.”
I waited, and she continued. “He looked human. Quite handsome, actually. Long, dark red hair, nice eyes. Well built. Larger in stature even than Hephaestus. But the sense of him…”
“What about it?”
She took a breath. “That is the thing, Mollis. I couldn’t feel him at all. He may as well have been a piece of furniture for all the sense of life I got from him. But he was very much there, and very much holding Nyx hostage at the time.”
I grabbed her arm and rematerialized into the dungeons below the palace where my office and our sometimes-home was located. The demon guards, along with the souls who helped keep the dead in line, stared at me in shock.
“My Lady?” one of the demons asked, recognizing Persephone. I felt his rage spike at the sight of her. I had the feeling there would be a lot of that as more beings realized she was here.
“Yeah, I know,” I said to him. “I’m going to put her in the Vault,” I said, indicating the cell we kept for high-powered or high-threat prisoners. I was the only one who could get in or out. “I have no fucking idea what’s going on, but I’m trying to find out.” He nodded, and I used the special key Heph had crafted for me, as well as a bit of my power, to unlock the dungeon cell door for Persephone, then I not-very-gently shoved her inside. The room was sparse, cold, and damp (because if there is one thing every being alive hates, it’s feeling damp, and I’m all about making my prisoners suffer if that is their fate). It was more than she deserved.
“If you had anything to do with this, I will make sure you suffer. I’m not Nyx,” I said. Before she could answer, I slammed the door shut and locked it again.
I sighed. And here I’d been so sure I’d be getting lucky tonight. Looks like the universe had other plans for me.
What else is new?
After securing plenty of guards for Persephone, I debated who to break the news to first. Nain would want to kill her immediately. So would Hephaestus. So would E. And Brennan. Brennan and Nain probably wanted her dead the most.
And then there was my mother. Her relationship with Persephone had always been tense, full of secrets and resentment. There had been a certain closeness between them after my father’s death, when they were united in mourning the immortal they’d both loved. But the instant Persephone had even had the thought of touching one of my children she’d sealed her fate. The fact that she’d actually done it, actually kidnapped and then killed Hades not just once, but repeatedly, to harvest his heart for her insane “bring Hades back to life plan”… no amount of torture would be enough, as far as my mom was concerned.
But the dungeons were the domain of the Furies, and it was better she hear it from me than from someone else. Shit.
It wasn’t hard to find her. All I had to do was follow the screams. I suppose one would think it’s cruel, what the Furies do. What they do, what I do, is nothing short of repaying souls for every bit of pain they caused during their lives. In some cases, it requires hardly anything at all. Most of them, actually. Most people, when it comes down to it, don’t do that much harm. But some people… well. There’s a hell of a lot of pain they need to feel before they’re released to the great beyond, whatever that means for them. I have no idea. I suspect the afterlife is a very individual thing, based on how one lived their life.
It’s not like I’ll actually ever find out. Immortals don’t have souls. When we die, we’re gone.
Which was why it was utterly fucking insane for Persephone to try to bring my father back at all. There’s nothing there. Even if she somehow found a way to construct Hades’ body through some kind of Dr. Frankenstein bullshit, there would be nothing to fill it with. I guessed that was where my son’s heart had come in, both as a life-giving source and her hope that there would be something of my father in his grandson’s blood, something that would bring him back.
I shook my head as I reached the door to the dungeon my mom was working in. I nodded at the two demon guards and opened the door, stepping inside. My mother sat in a chair, looking perfectly at ease. She was painting her nails a metallic black color and humming some Cyndi Lauper song. Meanwhile, the soul she was punishing was on his knees, screaming in anguish and tearing at his hair.
I remembered this one. He was getting everything he’d had coming to him.
My mom glanced up and raised her eyebrow.
“You are angry and tense,” she said. Typical Fury. Like me, she never had to ask things like “how are you doing?” She could feel my emotions. There was no hiding it from her, and I reflected, yet again, how now I knew why my friends had always been so irritated that I could sense them. There was no such thing as privacy with an empath around. Not really. And I’m the biggest bullshitter I know, but emotions don’t lie.
“We have a situation,” I said, as I stepped further into the room and sat on the floor beside my mother’s chair.
“A situation that has you ready to rip someone’s spleen out,” she said, brushing paint on another nail. “What is it?”
I took a deep breath. “Persephone is here.”
I watched her. She slowly, methodically put the nail polish cap back on, screwing it on carefully. Then she turned to me. “Where?”
“Before you go stick sharp things under her fingernails or something, I want to run the story she told me past you. It’s… it’s weird.”
She gave a single nod, rage rolling off of her in waves. “Tell me.”
So I did. I told her about finding her at the side of the road, and the story she’d told about Nyx and the armored beings and the mysterious man who she could get no sense of. I told her that I’d seen everything, that she wasn’t lying. That she did not know what had become of Nyx.
When I’d finished, we sat in silence for a few moments as she thought it over. “Our first course of action should be trying to contact Nyx.”
(All rights reserved. Copyright Colleen Vanderlinden 2017.)
I’ll have more details later this week, and then I’ll be sure to announce it when the book is released. So… are you excited to have Molly back? 🙂