This week's excerpt comes from Protectors Of Poison, book one of the on-going Forgotten Gods series (books 1-6 are out now!) which follows the goddess, Serket, as she's recruited to help save Osiris. It's steeped in Egyptian mythology, adventure, and romance. Plus a giant scorpion!
Copyright 2018 Laura Greenwood
Pushing open the door to the living room, I stepped in, steeling myself against whatever mess I found inside. While I knew enough about jackals to recognise one, I didn't know how they'd respond to being stuck in a random room far away from their natural habitat.
I shrieked and jumped back as I saw what had really happened.
"Don't call me that," I hissed.
"Why not, it's your name?" The man leaned back on my sofa with one of his legs against the other and waggled it about.
"No one calls me that."
"I heard. Sera is it now? That's not very different from Serket."
"It doesn't need to be. What are you doing here?" I recognised him. It was hard not to. All the gods knew one another.
"I've come to find you."
"And now you have. Goodbye, Sed." I waved in the direction of my front door, hoping he got the hint and left.
Instead, he chuckled. "Not so fast."
"Yes, so fast. That was a nasty trick you played. Pretending to be a jackal just so I'd help you." I crossed my arms and glared at him but only because a part of me was jealous. Not only was it an amazing idea but I longed to take my animal form every once in a while, but was too scared to actually do it.
"I wasn't exactly pretending and you know it."
"You weren't being honest either. Why didn't you just come straight up to me and tell me what you wanted in the first place?" I ignored the fact I'd have walked away.
"For exactly the reason you're thinking now."
"I don't remember you being a mind reader."
"And I don't remember you being awkward. As I recall, you were one of the more helpful types. Always trying to heal and make things better."
"Which you used to your advantage."
"Exactly, you haven't changed much at all, Sera."
"What are you doing here, Sed?" I repeated, noticing that he still hadn't answered my initial question.
"Why don't I tell you over breakfast?" He gave me a cheeky smile that made me very glad he wasn't naked. It would have lost some of its charm if he had been. One of the advantages of being a deity was that we didn't have to lose our clothing while in animal form. Some of our followers hadn't had the same advantages. We'd tried to teach them but it never worked.
"Fine. What do you want?"
"Whatever you're having," he replied.
I sighed and made my way to the kitchen. I'd planned on feeding the jackal anyway, this technically wasn't that different, at least not in theory.
Pulling eggs and milk from the fridge, I whipped up two quick omelettes. I'd have made something fancier but I still needed to go to work after this and didn't have the time.
I plated the food and set it on the table along with a steamy coffee pot and some orange juice I'd somehow left unopened in the fridge.
"Thank you," Sed said as he tucked into the meal.
I smiled. Despite my surprise and annoyance that he was even here, I still loved the look of joy on his face as he ate. I'd only crossed paths with Sed a couple of times, we hadn't known each other any better than recognising each other’s faces and status. As a lesser god, he'd been below me in the hierarchy so I'd never paid much attention to him.
At least until I'd been taken down a peg or two by being forgotten. That had been a wakeup call and a half for me.
"Are you going to tell me?" I asked, taking a bite of my eggs.
"You know who I am?"
"Yes, but it's generally frowned upon not to introduce yourself when you break into someone's house."
"I didn't break in. You brought me here."
I glared at him. Technically, he was right but he'd done it under false pretences and I wasn't about to forget that.
"Sorry, I'm Sed, the protector of Kingship." He rolled his eyes at the end, probably because of the ridiculousness of the whole situation.
"Is there much of a need for that at the moment?"
He snorted. "Not really. There's kings about but they don't believe in me." He shrugged as if it wasn't a big deal. "What about you?"
"People always need healing,” I pointed out.
"Yet you're working as a vet?"
"A veterinary nurse, not a vet," I corrected.
"Is there a difference?"
"Veterinary school." I ate more of my omelette, ignoring his probing the best I could.
"So, basically you're minding your own business healing animals instead of humans? That's not the Serket I remember."
"That's because you're the only one who remembers me," I muttered under my breath.
He laughed. "That's not true. It's actually why I'm here. Osiris has been poisoned."
My mouth fell open and my fork froze in mid-air. I was only dimly aware of the egg dropping off my fork and hitting my plate. I had more important things to concern myself with like the poisoning of one of our main gods. If he was in danger then it wasn't just me who was in danger of being forgotten. The others would be heading the same way for certain.
"Well that takes you off the culprit list," Sed said cheerily, shovelling eggs into his mouth without a care in the world.
"I was on it?" I squeaked.
"As far as we can tell, the poison came from one of your scorpions."
"What? My...what?" I didn't even keep any of them myself anymore, so how had one gotten into the hands of someone else in the first place? I had no followers. No one knew enough about me to use them either.
"One of your scorpions. From your temple?"
I shook my head. "There's nothing left of my temple. It's been gone for centuries," I countered.
"Are you sure about that?"
"Yes, I'm sure my temple doesn't exist."
I laughed bitterly, considering what my life had become and what I could admit to him. Names were a big deal in Egyptian culture and admitting mine had been forgotten...
Then again, he'd said himself that the people he had to protect no longer believed. Maybe he'd understand better than I thought.
"No one remembers my name," I said slowly. "No one's been to my temple in a millennium. No one's said my name in six centuries, at least not enough."
"Your powers are fading," he observed.
"My powers are almost gone."
"Including your immortality?"
"No. That seems to be fine. It's just my magic itself that seems to be an issue. I healed a kitten yesterday and won't have enough power saved up to do the same for at least another couple of days."
"Wow." He leaned back in his chair and took a deep breath. "I'd heard rumours of it happening but had no proof. I don't have extra magic myself." He shrugged as if that explained it, and in some way, it did.
All gods were immortal and most of us could change into an animal form. But being able to do other things wasn't always an option. Sed was one of those. He offered protection but more in the form of watching over people and sending signs if they were in danger. The gods like me had magic other than that. We could do things like heal or create water.
"Sorry, I really can't help."
"I didn't ask you to yet," he said.
"I know. But it's coming, right? It's poison from my scorpions and I'm a healing goddess. It's only logical."
"You need to help, Serket."
"Stop. Calling. Me. That," I ground out.
"But if I don't call you that, then how are you going to let yourself be remembered?" He cocked his head to the side, clearly confused about it.
"Maybe I don't want to be remembered. Maybe I like the quiet life where I don't need to do anything for anyone. Where I can take care of animals and make sure they have healthy lives."
"Maybe, but I don't think so," he said.
"Oh, and why's that?" I raised an eyebrow, not looking away from him.
I was dimly aware of my breakfast going cold in front of me but this was more important. If what he was saying was true, we were all in serious danger. Myself included even if I didn't want to admit it.
"Because you haven't actually told me no. You've said you can't help and for some reason really believe you can't, but you haven't told me no."
I slammed my hand down on the table and looked deep into his eyes. "No," I said firmly.
"See yourself out and make sure you lock the door."
Fantasy Mythology Romance
A fantasy romance series following different goddesses as they find the gods they're meant to be with and come into their own powers. Each book can be read as a standalone. Part of the Forgotten Gods Universe.
Heat Level: Low - Relationship Type: m/f - Build: Fast - Point of View Character: Single first person POV, changes between books - Cliffhangers: No - Tense: Past