Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt!
This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!
Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the PINK TEAM–but there is also a red team, a gold team, an orange team, a red team, and an indie team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!
If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.
Today, I am hosting author KAITLYN BEVIS on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt! Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book and a pen. If the ending didn’t agree with her, she rewrote it. Because she’s always wanted to be a writer, she spent high school and college learning everything she could to achieve that goal. After graduating college with a BFA and Masters in English, Kaitlin went on to write The Daughters of Zeus series.
The Daughters of Zeus series is a young adult Greek mythology retelling featuring the myth of Persephone. If you are looking for fiction books like Percy Jackson with myths and legends, or mythological romances with a paranormal slant like The Goddess Test series, you will enjoy the Daughters of Zeus series.
If you want to learn more about Kaitlin Bevis, visit her website www.kaitlinbevis.com for bonus content and sign up for her newsletter here (Kaitlyn’s website) for a free audio copy of Persephone (http://amzn.to/2ec5iVi).
One day Persephone is an ordinary high school junior working at her mom’s flower shop in Athens, Georgia. The next she’s fighting off Boreas, the brutal god of Winter, and learning that she’s a bonafide goddess—a rare daughter of the now-dead Zeus. Her goddess mom whisks her off to the Underworld to hide until Spring.
There she finds herself under the protection of handsome Hades, the god of the dead, and she’s automatically married to him. It’s the only way he can keep her safe. Older, wiser, and far more powerful than she, Hades isn’t interested in becoming her lover, at least not anytime soon. But every time he rescues her from another of Boreas’ schemes, they fall in love a little more. Will Hades ever admit his feelings for her?
Can she escape the grasp of the god of Winter’s minions? The Underworld is a very nice place, but is it worth giving up her life in the realm of the living? Her goddess powers are developing some serious, kick-butt potential. She’s going to fight back.
Check out a first look at Hera, a short story set in the Daughters of Zeus universe.
I killed the gods. Isn’t that what you wanted to know? I see no reason to go through this charade. We both know where I belong.
But you won’t put me there, will you, Hades? You can’t stand the thought of me wasting away in your hell-realm of darkness. Waiting in the endless shadows like The Before.
If you’re seeking some nugget of truth to redeem me, you’ll be disappointed. There’s nothing good left inside of me. Zeus sucked it all away.
Is this what you must do for all the gods? Listen to their entire life stories before making judgment? Goodness, you must be busy today. Not a terribly efficient method, I apologize. But then we never planned to be able to die.
Are you just itching to say I told you so? That we should have allowed the Fates to see divine events? Surely you can see how such a weapon could never be trusted in your care. In any of our care. It wasn’t personal.
No, better the Fates be blind to the gods. It’s not as though we can lie when we recount our lives.
But you know me. Every iota of my being. Surely your attention is needed elsewhere. There is nothing more for me to—
In the beginning, there was darkness.
But you already knew that. There was nothing within Cronus. Just a vast emptiness that we now refer to as The Before. But my presence didn’t go unnoticed. You found me. Do you remember, Hades? The way you reached for me and held me fast? The way you soothed me when I panicked at your touch? Your first words to me?
I’m not going to hurt you.
Did you know then that you were lying? Before we removed that ability from our tongues? I don’t blame you. It was an impossible promise. We all hurt each other in the end.
Once you calmed me down, you brought me to the dreamscape where the others waited. That moment is seared into my mind. The first time I saw light. When I close my eyes, I can still picture that expanse of green ending only where it met the brilliant sky above. Poseidon’s imagination was amazing, given that all he’d ever known was darkness. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
As you know, I was the last sibling to be born with Cronus. Hestia came first and waited for thousands of years before Demeter was created. Of course, Hestia went insane all alone, but once under Demeter’s care, she got…not better, but functional. She always had a tendency to disappear within herself. Loud sounds, colors, change, it could be too much for her, but we had moments.
Of course we loved her. Of course we protected her. She was our worst fear come to life. It was sheer chance that we hadn’t come first.
We all had a role in that empty wasteland. When people hear that we were devoured by Cronus, they assume we were bathing in stomach acid for all eternity. But that wasn’t the case. Beings who weren’t around during the age of the Titans just can’t seem to visualize just how vast they were. There were realms within Cronus. Ours was simply empty.
Of course, I know you know this, but you asked me to start in the beginning. It doesn’t get more beginning than this.
Demeter cared for Hestia and somehow kept herself sane until you came around. By the time Poseidon came about, you two had worked out all the kinks and suddenly there was room for imagination.
Poseidon is the one who discovered dreamscapes. Beautiful, sweeping worlds where we could escape the darkness for a time. But none of us were strong enough to maintain them for long before we were dumped back into the haunting emptiness. The darkness, the never ending nothing of it all was still terrifying, but at least we had each other.
Do you remember the day we discovered physical distractions? Back before there was jealousy between us we all belonged to each other and to no one. Before humanity and their incest taboos. Isn’t it silly how they keep trying to apply them to us? Like we’re made of the same stuff?
Do you remember, Hades? How we kept each other sane on those endless nights in the darkness with nothing but the feel of each other’s breath against skin? We paired off eventually. Oh, sure, we’d try different combinations for a time, but it always came back to you and me. Just like it always came back to Demeter and Poseidon.
We fell into a routine of sorts. A time for sleeping, for painting our dreams, for waking, for talking, for pairing off. It all got rather predictable, but we didn’t know enough to be bored yet. Centuries passed in that darkness before something truly different happened.
We found a stone.
It was really more of a small boulder. Hard and unyielding, yet smooth and round, wrapped in a malleable cloth with tiny stray strings sticking out from frayed sides. For a time, we puzzled over its appearance, but when it simply sat there without moving, we returned to our dreamscape with more textures, colors, and shapes to play with than we’d ever had before.
I remember being happy. I know that sounds insane. The Before was dark and desolate, but it was ours. There was always fear. Fear we would fail one another. Fear that one day, the best of our efforts would no longer be enough, and we would end up like Hestia. That fear is what haunts our nightmares. Why none of us can stand the dark. How I know that you’ll never throw me into Tartarus no matter what I’ve done, because for so long, preventing such a fate for one another was our job, our purpose, our lives.
But there were moments of joy. Simplicity. And I wonder if we aren’t worse off for forgetting those. We paint The Before as a nightmarish place, and truly, it was. But we had moments. Don’t you remember?
Are they truly lost, Hades? Or do they exist somewhere in the space between us?
Of course everything changed when Zeus freed us. We emerged from the darkness into a world that was much brighter, louder, and complex than we had imagined in our wildest dreams. But we didn’t have an opportunity to get acclimated before Zeus pushed us to war with the Titans.
That’s unfair. The war with the Titans was inevitable. Even Demeter saw that. They wanted us erased, not just killed. Our very existence unwritten. We had no choice but to defend ourselves.
I’m not going into details on the war that followed except to say that no one was blameless. I had nothing to do with freeing the monsters from their confinement, but were it my choice, I would have done the same. I didn’t kill Cronus, but I would have. So would you. We had no choice.
Gods, what is wrong with this place? I had numbed myself to those memories, the horrors of the Titanomachy, the insanity of that great, terrible world after our quiet and dark confinement. Is this the punishment your souls face, Hades? Ripping away their defenses, forcing them to live with the horrors that they’ve—
Don’t. I don’t need your comfort. I’m tired watching it turn to disgust every time. Every. Time. Hades. It’s so easy for you, isn’t it? To reign here, untouched by the madness of Zeus. We didn’t all have the luxury of retreating to our own realms when things got bad. Some of us had to live with him. How dare you judge me for what I had to do to survive.
Oh, but you warned me, didn’t you? When you and Demeter pulled me to the side, expressing concern over his strange, new power. What we would later call Charm. Warning me against swearing fealty to him. Cautioning me against his over-reliance on my lightning. But I couldn’t see fault in him, not yet. It wasn’t just that he was our savior. It wasn’t that he’d pulled us from the darkness, defended us from the Titans, and given us direction when we were lost. It was the way he looked at me without judgement when I struck against the Titans with all the powers of the sky.
You hated me for what I did to them. You never said it, but I could see it every time your eyes met mine. Is it any wonder I chose him?
I wasn’t the only one. Poseidon worshiped him. He modeled himself after Zeus, becoming more bloodthirsty and ruthless. But he lacked Zeus’s charisma. It’s so easy to forget that once upon a time, Zeus was charming. He took me to the side and whispered in my ear what a lovely Queen I’d make. He turned himself into birds and other absurd looking creatures simply for my amusement. He made me laugh. He made me feel loved, wanted, beautiful, powerful, and everything in between. And for a time, I was.
It took centuries for me to realize those were the very qualities he sought to steal from me. You tried to warn me while he whispered promises in my ear. You tried. But soon you and Demeter were distracted by Hestia.
She couldn’t cope with the new world. The cacophony, the chaos, the war. It was too much for her. Thus we fragmented. Poseidon and I drew closer to Zeus, you and Demeter sought to keep Hestia sane. We drifted.
And before we knew it, we were all lost.
The wedding was beautiful at least. And being married to Zeus wasn’t all bad. For a good three hundred years, he treated me like a queen. Things settled between the six of us. We found balance again, harmony.
I have vague memories of telling Zeus about the dreamscapes we used to build. Pillow talk. He’s the one who suggested we make them real.
We had so much fun. Do you remember? Poseidon made the oceans he’d been dreaming about. Demeter came up the most amazing foods. I decorated. Even Hestia got involved.
I could tell Zeus felt left out once we got started. Creation was a language only we spoke. Peppered with inside jokes and references to The Before. So, I suggested we make a mountain for us all to live on where we could look over our creations.
You all caught on immediately, pulling Zeus into the fun. And for a moment, one shining, happy moment, we had everything we could ever wish for.
Our world was still in progress when he brought Athena home. He’d had a fling with the Titan Metis during the war and tried to eat the results from their union Cronus style. It didn’t go well for him.
I didn’t like that he’d hidden his relationship with Metis from me until there was irrefutable proof, but I forgave him. When people assumed Athena was mine, I didn’t correct them. More children followed from more gods, so we had to create man. Our children needed worship to grow strong.
But the chaos of man pushed Hestia over the edge. She retreated to Olympus and rarely left. We worried she’d get worse without worship so we made arrangements. Every sacrifice from man was first made to her then dedicated to other gods. We played up her role as much as we could. But we all worried it wouldn’t be enough.
Zeus never had patience for her. It was in his treatment of Hestia that I first saw signs of his cruelty. I wrote them off at the time. As much as I loved my sister, it was rather wearing to be constantly watching out for her. How could I fault him for aggravation even I sometimes felt?
My next red flag came when you and I were working on something together. Do you remember what it was, Hades? I think we were creating trees or some nonsense. Zeus saw us talking and laughing together and made a massive scene. You handled it with grace, bowed out, and headed home. But me, I was left with him. His jealously, his insanity. I’d never seen him so worked up before.
He accused me of being unfaithful, of any lewd and despicable act you can think of. I remember feeling so confused. He knew about us. He’d had his dalliance with Metis. Our relationship was not, to my understanding, a closed one. But when I dared bring up Metis, he grew angry. Violent. Not toward me. Zeus never struck me. But the forest you and I created became naught but splinters.
I think I apologized. No, I know I did. I was so shocked, so taken back, that I found myself caving to his madness. Surely if he were this upset, I’d something wrong. He forgave me, and everything went back to what it was like before.
But when Leto announced she was carrying his twins, I just… I lost it. I’m not going to say I behaved admirably in trying to prevent Apollo and Artemis’s birth. But I was in shock.
After the twins were born, I found you. Do you remember? Of course you do. How could you forget my most humiliating moment?
I threw myself at you. Desperate for affection. Revenge? Some assurance that I hadn’t completely lost my mind. It wasn’t just the cheating. Zeus was growing more and more different by the day. Gone was the hopeful saviour I’d fallen in love with. In his place stood a power hungry, arrogant, jealous man who frightened me at times.
You were not receptive to my attentions. You were angry in fact. You’d warned me, and I hadn’t listened to you. You’d loved me, and I’d chosen him. That’s something you two have in common, you know. That unwillingness to share.
I refused to return to Olympus humiliated, so I walked the earth. The more I walked, the angrier I became. Eventually, I decided to return to Olympus with a child of my own, let Zeus draw what conclusions he wished. See how he felt being humiliated for a change. I struck the earth, channelled power from Gaia, and created monsters.
So yes, I suppose I did kick-start the Gigantomachy. But you know I had nothing to do with Typhaon rebelling against Zeus. I fought in that war. I killed giants. My son forged the very weapons you used to win. You can’t fault me for the bloodshed that followed.
Meanwhile, man had their little rebellion against the gods, ended thoroughly by Pandora. We all participated in that, even you. When that did not satisfactorily cow the humans, Zeus flooded the whole planet, starting over with two people he deemed submissive enough. I know you don’t believe me, but I was just as surprised when the rains came as any of you.
By that time, he wasn’t sharing much with me. Man had war after war after war. I can’t be expected to remember all those details. I scarcely got involved. Poseidon and Demeter went through a horrible break up. You were there for her. I should have been, but at that point I was so lost in my own problems, my own bitter unhappiness with Zeus, that I couldn’t think past myself.
It wasn’t until Hestia died that I saw a way out. We’d tried everything we could to keep her on the public radar without forcing her to interact with anyone. But as centuries passed, humans stopped believing in us as much. Zeus could usually stir them back up with some audacious scandal or another, but the gods who didn’t enjoy lingering in the spotlight didn’t do well. We knew worship fuelled our life-force, but it wasn’t until Hestia that we realized we could die. That our souls would get sent to the very Underworld we created. Sure, Tartarus had always been there since the days of the Primordials, so had the Styx, and other landmarks, but the rest of the realm was entirely our creation. Over time the landmarks became just that as people stopped worshiping the primordials as gods. At least our souls got to pass on.
Everyone reacted differently to Hestia’s death. Zeus threw himself into the spotlight, sending demigod after demigod on absurd quests to generate spectacle. Naturally, Poseidon followed his lead. He always looked up to Zeus. Demeter and Rhea strategically cursed their worshipers with immortality after observing the dying gods to figure out exactly how much worship they needed to survive. You, well, you never had to worry, did you? Your souls provided enough worship for you to get by.
And me? I began to plan.
Such moments of clarity were rare for me. Zeus was draining more and more of my power through our marriage bond as he worried about the decline in worship. He grew paranoid and cruel, growing jealous of my attention, even while getting sexually involved with nearly everything that moved. He kept producing children, despite the lack of worship to sustain them. He was going mad toward the end. Convinced the world owed him something because he made it, but he seemed to have forgotten that we made it together. All of us.
So I plotted and schemed and made my plans. I had to bring him down. I knew it would hasten the end for many of the gods, but it wasn’t as though they’d survive much longer anyway. The era of Olympus was drawing to a close whether we wanted it to or not. So why not end it with a bang?
I used what little power of creation I had left to modify Olympus. You found me while I was working on my changes. I claimed to be altering the color, which I was also doing, but I’m pretty sure you saw right through me.
What’s become of you, you’d asked. How did we get here?
I blamed you, saying that you should have fought for me, that I should have chosen you. Can you imagine how different things would have been if instead of running you and Demeter had stood firm. Had reined Zeus in? We gave him the power he wielded over us.
You and I yelled. We cursed. We flung our hands into the sky. And eventually, our anger was spent. We talked so long that day. About everything and nothing. About Demeter and Poseidon. About how Hestia was happy in the quiet of the Underworld. We talked about the Before, and we wondered how our lives had grown worse than that utter darkness, because at least then we’d had each other.
“It can end,” I told you. We could all be together again. But you shook your head and told me the world was bigger than us now. I tried to convince you, I tried to kiss you, but you just left.
You were always leaving, Hades.
I…went a bit mad after that. I’m not proud of what I did to the women you or Zeus got involved with. But I wasn’t thinking straight, subsisting on almost enough worship to die. I think…I think I was trying to? Transformations aren’t a small drain on power, and I was constantly turning women into something or another.
Mortals began to fear my wrath, and for a few moments, that got them talking about us again. Zeus was delighted, so he left me enough power to survive, but not enough to think rationally.
Fortunately, my plan no longer needed much thought to implement.
Today he slipped, took too much, and I died. My death triggered the destruction of Olympus.
We didn’t make Olympus like the rest of the world. It grew taller with worship, and it had shields and glamours to keep us hidden. Those adjustments gave me an in to manipulate the mountain. I tied it to my life force, so when the life was snuffed out of me, the mountain came tumbling down.
Olympus is a symbol of the gods, so when people see it fall, they’ll assume the gods have fallen as well. One by one, you’ll all follow suit, it’s inevitable.
I suppose I should feel bad about that, but Zeus’s reign had to come to an end. I’m not going to be around to see the devastation I caused. The confusion of the mortals, the deaths, the gods dropping like flies as humans cease worshiping them. But I can imagine.
And it was worth it.
We never should have left the darkness, Hades. Creatures such as us deserve it. Our world has become bigger than us, but does that make it better? You see men when they arrive here, their fated threads shorn and with it their ambitions. I saw them above. They hurt one another in ways we weren’t creative enough to think of. We took our darkness and multiplied it. Endowed it upon our creations. How could we create anything but a broken world when we ourselves are so broken?
When we last fought, I blamed myself for not choosing you. I blamed you for not fighting for me. I was convinced we could have made a difference. But down here, things are so much clearer.
I gave you too much credit. Zeus was jagged, broken pieces of darkness. Dangerous. We didn’t see it until it was too late. But I’m not much better. Somehow you’ve taken that pain, the terror from the hells we’ve lived through in the Before and the Wars and the loss, and risen above it. But I don’t think I ever could have.
I would have driven you mad in the end. I’m every bit as toxic as Zeus. But you don’t believe me. Even now, you’re looking at me and softening. I can see it. You think that with time and peace I’ll become better than I am. So, let’s end this charade, shall we? You’re not going to lock me into the depths of Tartarus where I belong. So what is to be my fate, Hades?
It’s up to you.
CONTINUE THE HUNT