Hunted:An Eternal Guardians NovellaBy: Elisabeth Naughton
An Eternal Guardians Novella
One Thousand and One Dark Nights
Once upon a time, in the future…
I was a student fascinated with stories and learning.
I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and
the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast
library at my father’s home and collected thousands
of volumes of fantastic tales.
I learned all about ancient races and bygone
times. About myths and legends and dreams of all
people through the millennium. And the more I read
the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered
that I was able to travel into the stories... to actually
become part of them.
I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher
and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I
would not be telling you this tale now.
But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off
One afternoon, curious about the myth of the
Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to
see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar
(Persian: شهريار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then
sent yesterday's wife to be beheaded. It was written
and I had read, that by the time he met Scheherazade,
the vizier's daughter, he’d killed one thousand
Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived
in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged
places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had
never occurred before and that still to this day, I
Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have
taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can
protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to
protect herself and stay alive.
Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales.
And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a
point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more.
And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that
he might hear the rest of my dark tale.
As soon as I finish a story... I begin a new
one... like the one that you, dear reader, have before
“From the deepest desires often comes the deadliest hate.”
One thing Erebus could say for the Sirens—they sure made their trainees feel special. So special they couldn’t even refer to them by name when they crashed and burned and Zeus decided it was time to hunt them down and snuff them out.
Not that Erebus cared all that much. He knew his place. He was a minor god in service to Zeus only because Hades had lost him in a bet to the King of the Gods. He didn’t particularly enjoy serving, but it was better than the alternative: being decimated altogether like his kinsfolk or spending eternity suffering in the pits of Tartarus. While he’d been spared the same fate as his family thousands of years ago, his time in servitude to Hades in the Underworld had shown him just what happens to prisoners in Tartarus—at both the hands of Hades and Tartarus’s most famous prisoner: Krónos—and he had no desire to get stuck in that living hell as an inmate himself.
A flash of blonde hair to his left caught his attention as he ran through the dark forest. His target—Trainee #429745—was close, but then he knew that already. His god powers were strongest in darkness, and his hearing, smell, even sight were amplified when night disadvantaged other hunters. He could hear her labored breaths echoing in his ears, could smell the lemony scent of her skin in his nostrils, but seeing the flash of long blonde hair had surprised him.
He hadn’t looked at her picture before he’d left Olympus for this hunt. He’d memorized her trainee number, read through her file and made mental notes of her trainers’ mostly average comments about her hand-to-hand combat and warfare skills. Had questioned the stupid guards she’d overpowered at the gates of Olympus when she’d fled, and who were now suffering their own just fates. And he’d located the portal she’d used outside the gates to cross into this forest in the human realm. But he’d purposefully not looked at her image.
Putting a face to a number gave his prey a human quality he didn’t need to concern himself with. His orders from Zeus were clear: “She failed her last Siren test and ran. Hunt her down and bring her back to me.” It was not Erebus’s place to question Zeus’s command. The King of the Gods could have ordered Erebus to kill the trainee—which he’d done in the past and would do again when called upon because it was his duty—but Zeus hadn’t. That made Erebus’s job this time a helluva lot easier, and for that he was thankful.