At Hera’s insistence, I left the OA building immediately while there was still plenty of daylight – one of the only known ways to destroy those wretched monsters. She wanted me far away until Zeus could deal with the dangerous night creatures that had somehow escaped Tartarus. Mamá was concerned for everyone’s safety, of course. I know, too, that she was mostly concerned about my emotional well being, perhaps even my sanity.
I promised to tell you more about them, the nightgoyles, didn’t I?
And I will, soon enough. I’m just not eager to dredge up and relive those memories yet again. Though they seem hell bent on returning, uninvited, as they do from time to time. That’s another reason why I was less than eager to return home. It is a reminder of why I left. A reminder of that fateful night when I ran into a wing of nightgoyles. A reminder of Calantha. Did you know that Calantha means lovely flower? She was just that – a lovely flower. But I digress. Or, perhaps I am stalling.
This time, it was the season that added to my lack of enthusiasm. Your wise folk know what I mean when I say that I already felt the shift. As an immortal, I feel it much sooner, but for humans, it happens about mid-August. It’s barely perceptible, but it’s there. It’s the sense that summer is giving way to fall and soon darkness will have its way with the light. From light to dim to dark.
As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, we creep closer to Samhain and the veil between worlds grows ever slimmer. That means many of those in Hades’ care will be visiting soon.
I should explain further. There is a strong protective membrane – a nearly impenetrable barrier, if you will – that changes with the seasons. At the apex of Samhain, the veil is stretched to its thinnest. Liminal. That allows former mortals and other various and sundry creatures of the other world to pass through to this plane.
Some believe that passing between the veil only happens on October 31st. That’s not true, though. That’s just when the weakest can pass unhindered. Stronger spirits and entities can pass much sooner, especially if they find a weak spot or if something else damages part of the barrier. The nastier creatures are always seeking ways through those defenses. They breach the veil more often than you would care to know about and still hope to rest easily at night. Take heart in knowing that your Gods are vigilant.
Without the benefit or need of clock or calendar, I know this time approaches when a nagging little poem begins to whisper in my head.
Beneath ancient bearded sentinels, fires burn.
Mark the liminal end and beginning;
This time of the veil thinning,
When those who left, return.
I’ve been hearing it for weeks now. I will soon be visited by many of the human spirits of my past. I both welcome and dread it. This year, dread hangs heavy on me, even though there are those I look forward to seeing again, if only briefly.
It is no secret that I love mortals. One of my mothers was a mortal. Alcina carried me beneath her heart for nine months and when she gave birth to her daughter, it was me who occupied the child’s human form until Gaia, my first mother, drew me from her. Of course I love them.
I’ve even foolishly fallen in love with a few, though it is heart wrenching to lose them when they die. Even though my love can add many years to their natural lives, it always remains the same. They will grow old. Their spirit will leave their bodies. They will become property of Hades.
The last time I was in love with a mortal, I watched as they dragged him to the other side. We had a very long life together by the way you measure time. He lived to nearly 150 of your years. Still, he was not ready to give up his human form.
I don’t envy Thanatos, who came to fetch him. As the God of Death, he seems to thrive in his work. Even though most mortals fear him, he is a remarkably cheerful and kind deity. Did you know that he likes black peppermints and owns a chain of Sweet and Sundae shops? I’m rambling again, aren’t I? Be patient. I will get there eventually.
Before I go back to the gruesome details of my own experience with those hellish beasts, let me first bring you up to speed with the present day insanity.
As I said, I left the OA as Hera insisted and went directly to Dark Sparks to return the redhead to where I first found her. I ordered her a coffee and tucked her in a corner booth with some magazines. I knew that she’d be a bit confused and disoriented, but her body had healed nicely and I took heart, knowing that I was not the cause of her imminent demise. Little did I know that another family member was going to speed up her departure to Sulfur Springs within hours.
That very night, the redhead had a waxing appointment with Atê at her shop. In a moment of psychotic, jealous vengeance, Atê mutilated the poor thing’s nethers with hot wax. The shock sent the woman to Hades a week ahead of schedule. Talk about a bad day.
I’m confident that Hades took special care of her, all things considered. I heard that H was livid when word reached him about Atê’s misdeeds. And there were many misdeeds that came to light after Atê was thrown from a building. Some say that she leapt from the building. Either way, the impact destroyed the mortal form she was inhabiting. When they took her prints to identify her, the press reported that her fingerprints were associated with fifteen murders. Yup, just another day with my family.
From there, I went back to the hotel were I’d left my regular mortal and returned her to her former life. I will miss her. I had many more plans for her, but I’d been called home and had no choice. I take comfort in knowing that she is better off than when I found her. She has a wonderful life ahead of her…unless, of course, she has the misfortune of running into another member of my family. Then, who knows?
Since my return, we’ve had many family members come home and I will begrudgingly admit that I am happy to see them. It would be so much better if everything wasn’t colored with the feeling of dread. A dread brought on by the time of year. A dread brought on by the return of the nightgoyles. A dread brought on by knowing I will once again see Calantha, the mortal who died a gruesome, horrible death because of me.
Which brings me to my promise. I’ve avoided it long enough. It is time to tell you about the nightgoyles.
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