A retelling of a myth that has never stopped being told, With Skin Like Daffodils revisits the age-old tale of Hades and Persephone. Written by Jason Caldwell and myself, we have teamed together to write in first person POVs of both Hades and Persephone to bring you closer to the characters than ever before.
There is no public release date yet for this story, but if you are interested in reading the first seven installments, you may do so by making a small pledge at www.patreon.com/norafares
The first installment, I will post for you below. Hope you enjoy it!
Beneath the warm, golden haze of Helios’ sun, I dreamt of a fatal love that would bring upon the slaughter of the gods. With the radiance of the day, the light bathing over me, I still couldn’t seem to find a way to shake the darkness that had crept into my eyes, filling me with visions of great beasts, malevolent monsters, and gods, endless gods, one after another stepping into the fray. There was a lone savior, his black Corinthian bronze helmet covering his face, but he was not the savior of the gods. He was the savior of monsters.
“Dreams again?” said the soft voice of Sion, her murky eyes ever watchful. She placed her cold hand upon mine, and water seeped from it, falling in droplets upon my skin, like rushing rainwater. Sion was a water nymph, an ethereal beauty, her body glistening and wet. She was one of the many creatures my mother had entrusted to look after me upon my island. Fearful of my mother’s wrath, she and her sisters, the Oceanids, guarded and tended to me as one day bled into another.
“Yes,” I said breathlessly, shutting off the vision of the savior—no. He was no savior. He killed gods! Would he have killed me, too? I should hate these visions and I should hate him. The Olympian gods were my people. They were the reason that ichor coursed through my veins, the golden blood of the gods, running like molten lava beneath my skin, moving as I moved, softening and hardening with my moods.
My mother and father bled ichor, too, and were important, essential gods; their bodies brimmed with the powers of the cosmos, making this world what it was—bright as a roaring fire when lit and dark and smokeless when necessary; pleasure, pain. I knew the difference between pleasure and pain, and knew that there was a fine line between the two, one shifting into the other, blurring those lines. I was in a constant state of both, my mind struggling to decide which was worse.
“Your mother returns,” a nymph handmaiden said, looking up into the sky. I broke free from my thoughts, my gaze latching onto the sun where Helios, the Sun God, was sure to be busy observing much more interesting things than a young maiden in turmoil. For a second, the sun was covered by the wings of my mother, who had turned into a large white crane for her travels. Her wings flapped gracefully, and she landed on the white sand, turning instantly into her normal self: a beauty unlike any other, her long blonde hair rippling in the wind. I could make out her eyes, green as emeralds, sparkling with the fire of a thousand suns. She was Demeter, Goddess of harvest and fertility. Plants bowed before her, trees bending in her direction as she walked the sands and found me upon the steps of her temple.
“Mother,” I said, my voice small, as if I were a child. Concern crossed her face for my mother could read me, could read the anguish that I was trying to hide. I would carry the secret of the black Corinthian bronze helmet in the center of my chest, locked up with the key melted into my bloodstream: one only I could refashion. I had no right to dream of him.
“My dearest,” Mother whispered, gently taking me to her breast, her arms encircling me.
I hugged her back tightly. “Do stay long. I have missed you.”
Mother agreed, and we spent three days together. She saw how I lived, and saw the loneliness in my eyes. Sion and the nymphs looked after me, loved me, cherished me, falling over themselves to brush my hair with ivory combs, and yet I could not find them to be enough. I was devoid of the company of gods. I wished to be back on Mount Olympus in my father’s palace on the clouds, standing on windswept balconies and looking out over the world. My half-siblings had been there with me, tugging my hair and patting my head, giving me soft kisses and painful pinches. I missed them terribly.
“What would make you happy, my daughter?” Mother asked.
Freedom, but I could not say it. I did not wish to anger her. I gave her a pained smile and decided on something much more practical, something that she would give me.
“I wish for a garden,” I told her. A garden of my own. I did not know how to grow things like Mother. In those days, no one knew the secrets of agriculture. Only Mother.
Mother made me a garden. A beautiful, lush expanse of land, filled with magnificent trees and the scents of flowers, blooming and eager for the sunshine. She filled my life with color, painting a rainbow of flowers, growing me a canvas of endless beauty. Whispering, twinkling streams, moss grown to make boulders soft to sit upon. There were towering fruit trees bearing swollen fruit, great fields of yellow daffodils, and endless butterflies that were attracted to the sweet nectar.
But still, the sadness remained. It only worsened when Mother had to leave. She hugged me tightly, pressed her lips to my temple, and promised to come back soon. I believed her, for I was what my mother cherished more than anything else in this universe. Soon after she was gone, I sat on the sand and looked out over the horizon, my heart heavy.
“Come into the ocean,” Sion said, beckoning me into the water. I stepped into the cool foam of the waves, a rare goddess among the nymphs, who swam up and tugged me into the ocean, splashing water in my direction. We laughed together, and Sion made sure that I spent the afternoon busy with her sisters to keep my mind clear of dark visions. I was grateful, or I should have been, but the black Corinthian bronze helmet flashed in my mind every so often—and though I denied it to myself, though I refused to accept it, there was a part of me that burned for him, this slayer of gods.
It was a fatal love.