Welcome back! Previously, Myranda Anatha asked to speak to Zane in private and he took her to his music room. She is interested in his project and has asked him to explain. Little does he know, his answer really matters.
Copyright Lexi Ander
"Right before my father died…" Pain hit Zane in the chest like a bowling ball. His father was really his brother. He cleared his throat, trying to cover his unintentional wince. "He was working on a paper for one of his academic journals. The topic was how patriarchy stole the names of powerful women in history in order to diminish their influence on the populace. Many cultures have characters in lore simply called things like 'the Lady of the Lake'. In Beowulf's poem all the women who behaved 'properly'—" Zane was warming up to the topic, making air quotes as he started talking with his hands. "All of those women have names except Grendel's Mother. She had power and prestige, lived in an underwater hall, wore armor and fought better than Beowulf, she was stronger than Beowulf, exercised her right to vengeance over the death of her son as was the law of the time… yet they called her witch, inhuman, half-bestial, evil, ogress, and monster. The literal translations were clear, and phrases like 'ides aglaecwif' which means 'lady, fighter-woman', were translated by male scholars as 'monstrous hag' or 'she-monster'. The list of purposeful mistranslations goes on, defaming Grendel's Mother instead of regaling her feats."
While Zane had explained, Myranda turned, giving him her full attention, and again he sensed the power she held, as if she was an overflowing vessel.
"They stole her name," Zane finished lamely.
"Yes, they did," Myranda agreed, approval in her tone. "She was a great woman, heartbroken over the loss of her only child. Beowulf was wrong to take her life and he betrayed his mantle with his foolish actions."
That was the first he had heard of Beowulf having a mantle, though Zane had only just learned about scions. He guessed it made sense. Beowulf had been carrying supernatural weapons that the poem claimed had been made by a god.
"Did you know her?" He wondered if that was a foolish question.
"No, she was before my time, but I knew of her. My goddess experienced a different type of erasure when the Greeks pulled the triple goddess into their pantheon, separating her three aspects. They claimed Zeus swallowed Metis the Mother, and then they set Athena the Maiden against Medusa the Crone." Myranda looked grim as if the centuries old betrayal still angered her.
Zane had run across the story when he was researching historical women, like the Lady of the Lake. Patriarchy had worked to diminish and change Anatha because her influence threatened them. The triple goddess was from Libya, North Africa. The original Athena the Maiden represented independence, youthful exuberance, and growth. Her particular attributes were strength, courage, and valor. Metis the Mother was associated with fertility and motherhood. Medusa the Crone was the Dark Moon aspect of Anatha, and the strongest of three. She was the Wise One, Keeper of the Dark Moon Mysteries, and Goddess of Death and Rebirth. Standing next to Zane was the priestess of a very old and powerful goddess. Which aspect of Anatha would judge Ella?
"One of the reasons I wished to speak with you privately has to do with the mantels. The agents sent to retrieve the cases from Ella's hotel room discovered she had almost twenty." Myranda's eyes blazed, their warm brown turning molten. "I can only imagine there are more hidden. The bloodlines affected…" Her white veil ruffled with her gusty, rage-filled exhale. "The most immediate concern is getting the mantels back to the bloodlines. It is evident the bloodlines do not trust the organization, otherwise they would have come to us regarding this heinous betrayal by the House of Oden's Runes. If there is one corrupt house, how far does the fingers of that corruption reach? I have to wonder the same myself."
Myranda stared at Zane's crappy drawing, her gaze turning contemplative as if searching for an answer to a question only she knew. When she turned back to him, her eyes were opaque and the power rolling off her moved with purpose. Zane's skin crawled and his first reaction was to move away. After the Greeks had destroyed the temples of Anatha, the Mask of Medusa—not the one that Perseus created of Medusa's severed head that ended up on Athena's shield, but the one that hung at Myranda's belt with its red face and glaring eyes—became a symbol. A warning to all men to stay away or die. The sense of foreboding and death that he felt as the Goddess Anatha stared at him from her priestess's eyes made him want to run. It took all his willpower to plant his feet, but he could not stare back. Not at her eyes, and he found himself looking at the shape of her chin outlined by the veil, or at her shoulder, even the wall behind her, anywhere but her glowing eyes that seemed to see into his very core.
"I believe that you can be trusted to handle the mantels," She finally said.
"What?" Despite his resolve, Zane hurriedly stepped back, sweat breaking out on his upper lip. "I barely know anything about mantels or the bloodlines or scions."
"And I cannot take them with me without sowing more distrust. You might be a scion, but you are also a neutral party that has no history or connection to the wrongdoing. You are also one of them, currently unattached to a mantle, therefore not a thrall of the corrupt house." Her eyes crinkled with her smile. "And you are brother to Skyld who is known for thumbing his nose at the oracles. Between the two of you, the bloodlines will feel safe coming to you and retrieving their lost mantels. If you agree to this arrangement, I will have any newly found mantels sent to you as well."
Zane didn't answer right away, unsure if he wanted to be embroiled deeper into this otherworld or not. He might not have a choice with people like Ella out there. Though he now had family, Skyld and a grandfather he would like to meet. He looked back at Alonzo, unable to make a decision until he had Alonzo's input. But Alonzo merely nodded and smiled sweetly, easing the apprehension that had risen with her request.
"All right, I'll do it."
Anatha's power gripped Zane, holding him in place. "Thus, I, Medusa the Wise One, decree Zane Snow Cortese as protector of the scion mantles."
Table of Contents
Chapter Two - Normal is not supposed to be this hard
Chapter Three - Caught
Chapter Four - Crimson Comet
Chapter Five - Mountain Magic
Chapter Six, Part 1 - Harbinger of a Nightmare
Chapter Six, Part 2 -
Chapter Seven, Part 1 - Stolen Answers
Chapter Seven, Part 2 -
Chapter Eight, Part 1 - No such thing as heroes
Chapter Eight, Part 2 -
Chapter Nine, Part 1 - Dead is supposed to be... dead
Chapter Nine, Part 2 -
Chapter Ten, Part 1 - Gathering Allies
Chapter Ten, Part 2
Chapter Eleven - Combustible
Chapter Twelve - Standing His Ground
Chapter Thirteen - Choices
Chapter Fourteen, Part 1
Chapter Fourteen, Part 2
Chapter Fifteen, Part 1 - To kill, or not to kill
Chapter Fifteen, Part 2
Chapter Sixteen - Maricoxi Guardians
Chapter Seventeen - Coincidence?
Chapter Eighteen, Part One - Guns Ablazin'
Chapter Eighteen, Part Two
Chapter Nineteen, Part One - Reckoning
Chapter Nineteen, Part Two
Chapter Twenty - Mercy
Chapter Twenty-Two, Part One
Chapter Twenty-Two, Part Two
Chapter Twenty-Two, Part Three
Chapter Twenty-Five, Part 1
Chapter Twenty-Five, Part 2
Thank you for stopping by and reading!!