If you could have anyone rescue you, who would it be?
For the captive princess Thalassai in Moon of the Goddess her first choice of rescuer is her brother Melanion, but she also imagines that Herakles might come and save her. The first night of her captivity, she sees the stars of his constellation standing just above the hilltop. That hero had saved the people of Lerna from the deadly Hydra, and the people of Nemea from the lion. Herakles would be able to save her from the prince of Ephyra who had captured her. She imagines climbing to a place where she could reach up and touch his stars, calling him to her side.
But she is a sheltered, pampered princess. She has never climbed a pathless hillside. And she knows that even from the highest mountain, the stars are out of reach. Besides, the stories say that Herakles was once driven mad by Hera, that he killed his loved ones in that strange state. Perhaps he is not completely trustworthy.
Her brother is. Thalassai is certain that her brother Melanion is already on his way to save her. She imagines him rowing by the light of the moon, hurrying to save her. She is absolutely certain he will come. Be quick, she thinks. Come and save me, Melanion. I am so afraid.
She is right that Melanion is on his way. But she is wrong about how he is travelling. He races north and west on his stallion, with his long time companion and a servant of the goddess hoping to get to the kidnappers’ city before anything happens to Thalassai.
Who would I want to rescue me?
Myself. I would rather be in control of my own destiny. So in the story, Thalassai has to gain enough strength to contribute to her own salvation. But if I had to have help, how about Alice Munro, Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austin. Those writers know a good ending.
Thalassai, pampered princess of ancient Tiryns, wakes from a dream and discovers she has been kidnapped. Her fear grows to terror when she realizes her kidnappers intend to use her as a pawn to gain Poseidon’s aid for their valley. The mother goddess, who in the past sustained the valley, calls a bloodred harvest moon into the spring sky. She will challenge Poseidon for the allegiance of her people and assist the princess.
Thalassai’s brother Melanion rides north to rescue her, and finds allies among the servants of the goddess. Slowed by bandits, Melanion is forced to take a tunnel under the mountains even though earthquakes have rendered it hazardous. He skirts the edge of Hades’ kingdom as he races to reach his sister in time. Caught between the mother goddess and the rising power of Olympus, will Thalassai break under the strain or find the strength she needs to stand up to her captors?
Set in the days of Helen of Troy and the great heroes of Greece, this story takes the reader on a fast paced journey across the sun-drenched landscape of Homer and deep into darkness.
In this excerpt of the story, we join the rescuers late in their journey…
Melanion turned and slid his feet sideways. With the wall of the tunnel just a handspan from his face, he felt confined. It seemed as if the darkness resisted his forward movement. There was not a breath of movement in the heavy air.
A moment later, there was no rock in front of him. He leaned back on the rough wall as Panacea stepped from the cleft to stand beside him. The darkness extended in all directions, and he smelled a hint of sulfur. His lamp felt tiny in his hands. He could not judge the size of the cavern.
“There is the first white stone.” Panacea pointed to the ground just at the edge of their lamplight.
“White stone,” came a quiet echo from across the cavern.
“The echo took a long time to come back,” said Melanion. “This chamber is huge.”
“Time…huge,” repeated an echo of his voice.
“We had best start across then, and get to the other side,” said Panacea softly.
“Start,” the echo said.
Only start, thought Melanion. Why did the echo only pick up some words? “Let’s cross,” he said.
“Cross?” asked the echo.
“Just don’t say anything,” whispered Panacea, her lips too close to his ear for the echo to pick up her voice.
Melanion nodded. The shadow of his head danced against the rock wall. Panacea leaned away from the side of the cavern, and Melanion stepped forward beside her. Darkness closed in behind them. They reached the first white rock; the next sat just at the edge of the light. Melanion counted the rocks as they passed them, a way of measuring the distance in the empty darkness.
“Here,” came the echo of a whisper.
“Who is there?” Panacea asked.
“There, there, there,” said the echo. “Here,” it whispered.
“Who else would be here,” said Melanion, trying to ignore the echo of his words. Panacea shook her head and said nothing. They moved on past another white stone, and another. The rock beneath their feet seemed to shiver slightly, then felt solid again. He glanced at Panacea, but she was looking straight ahead. Maybe he had imagined the tremor. The ground sloped a little downward; they were nearing the other side. As they stepped past another white stone, Melanion stopped. He could not see the next marker.
Melanion touched Panacea’s elbow lightly, avoiding speech and the echo. They took a small step forward, and another. Melanion looked back and could just see the stone they had passed. Nothing marked the path forward.
“What now?” he asked.
“What, what, what?” asked the echo.