About the Author
Kate O’Hearn was born in Canada, raised in New York City, and has traveled all over the United States. She currently resides in England. Kate is the author of the Pegasus series, the Shadow Dragon series, and the Valkyrie series. Visit her at KateOHearn.com.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Rise of the Titans 1
OLYMPUS AT NIGHT WAS AS beautiful as it was by day. The air was clean and fresh, and a sense of peace prevailed. The temperature dropped, but only by a fraction. Flowers that bloomed only after dark unfurled their delicate petals and released their fragrant perfume into the air.
This was the time when the night dwellers emerged from their homes. Their pale, thin skin almost glowed in the starlight. Their voices were hushed. Night-dweller children never raised their voices, even while they played. And, like all Olympians, the night dwellers bowed in respect as Emily, Flame of Olympus, strolled past.
Emily walked through the gardens at the back of Jupiter’s palace with her dog, Mike, leaping playfully at her side. Mike was her newest family member, brought back from Athens on her last trip to the Human World. It seemed like a lifetime ago, even though it hadn’t been that long.
Approaching the river, Emily saw the glow of torches and heard the sound of laughter. She smiled as she recognized the yelps of her friends Joel and Paelen, and she sped up so that she could join in the fun.
Just ahead she spotted Pegasus. The winged stallion’s head was held majestically high, his wings immaculately groomed as he glowed brightly with health and joy. The sight of him still stole Emily’s breath away.
She stopped to appreciate the beauty of the stallion and remind herself just how much he meant to her. Her entire life had changed the moment they’d met, and they’d been through so much together. He was such a part of her now that she couldn’t imagine a day without him.
Pegasus was with his twin brother, the winged boar Chrysaor, who looked much less groomed. His coarse brown feathers stood at odd angles, and he looked as though he’d recently been rolling in mud.
Three young night dwellers were with them. A girl in her early teens with long white hair and a voice as soft as a gentle breeze turned and greeted Emily with a formal bow as she approached. “Flame, it is an honor to see you this night.”
“Hi,” Emily said back. “Please, you don’t have to bow to me. Just call me Emily.”
The night dweller gasped. “But you are the Flame of Olympus! I cannot call you anything else. It is said you have powers greater than those of Jupiter himself! You must be respected at all times.”
Emily chuckled. She still wasn’t used to this elevated status. It was true that she fed the Flame of Olympus—the source of Olympus’s power. And there was even a temple dedicated to her. But most of the time she just felt like Emily Jacobs, a girl from New York City who happened to have a winged stallion as her best friend.
She smiled at the night dweller. “I may be the Flame, and yes, I do have powers, but I’m still just a girl like you. Please, as a favor, would you call me Emily?”
An odd color rose in the girl’s ghostly pale complexion, and she nodded. “I am Fawn. This is my brother, Dax, and our little sister, Sapphire.” Fawn smiled extra wide, displaying her small, sharply pointed teeth.
The boy was a bit older than his sister, and seemed even shyer. There was a calm beauty about them both as they stood there with Pegasus. Emily was certain that if they held their hands up to a bright light, the light would shine right through them.
Their young sister looked about five or six. She was bright and bubbly, and seemed more interested in petting Chrysaor’s wings than in meeting Emily.
“I see you’ve met Pegasus,” Emily said, trying to draw Dax out. She stepped up to the winged stallion. “Hiya, Pegs—isn’t it beautiful out?”
Pegasus nickered and pressed his head close to her.
“You are magnificent,” Fawn said to Pegasus as she stroked the stallion’s muzzle. “I have seen you around Olympus all my life, but this is the first time we have had the opportunity to meet.” She looked wistfully into his eyes. “It must be wonderful to have wings and fly.” She turned back to Emily. “You are so fortunate to be friends.”
“I know,” Emily agreed. “I’d be lost without Pegasus.”
Emily watched Pegasus blush from the compliments. Then he neighed and pawed the ground lightly.
Fawn’s dark eyes sparkled. “May we?”
“What did he say?” Emily asked. Even though she had lived on Olympus for a very long time, she was still unable to understand the stallion’s words.
Fawn was practically jumping out of her skin. “He said that one evening we can all go flying together. He will let me ride on his back.”
“That’s a great idea,” Emily agreed. “There’s nothing better than flying with him—especially at night.”
The stallion’s head bobbed up and down and he nickered softly to Fawn. She dropped her head shyly. “Thank you, Pegasus.”
Emily had no idea what he had said, but from the expression on Fawn’s face, it had made the young night dweller very happy.
Mike was barking, desperate for someone to play with him. Dax leaned over to pat him, and before he knew it, the large dog had jumped up and wrestled him to the ground. The boy’s soft laughter rang out as they rolled on the grass together.
“We’re going for a swim,” Emily offered. “Do you want to join us?”
“Thank you, Flame—I mean, Emily,” Fawn said. “But we must go to work.”
“What do you do?”
“We work in the nectar-tree orchards,” Dax explained as he wrestled with Mike. “It is our job to draw nectar from the flowers. This can only be done when the sun is down and the stars are shining, which opens the flowers.”
“I carry water,” Sapphire said. “It is a big job.”
“I’m sure it is,” Emily agreed, completely enchanted by the young night dweller.
Dax released Mike and rose to his feet. He caught his little sister by the arm. “I am sorry, but we must be going.” He smiled shyly at Emily, and she noticed how strangely attractive he was. His eyes were elliptical, like a snake’s, and even though they were as black as night, they still sparkled and shone. His features were sharp, but not unpleasant. It was then that Emily noticed that his ears were pointed, like elves’ ears. Fawn’s and Sapphire’s ears were mostly hidden by their long white hair, but Emily could now see their pointy tops sticking out.
“Of course,” Emily said. She focused on Fawn. “Just let me know when you have a free evening and we can go for that flight.”
Fawn’s eyes sparkled with excitement as her brother led them away.
“Pegs,” Emily asked, watching them leave, “back when Jupiter allowed visits to Earth, did any night dwellers go?”
The stallion nickered and bobbed his head.
“I’ve heard that they never go out in daylight because it hurts their eyes and burns their thin skin. Is that true?”
Again Pegasus nodded.
“Hmmm,” Emily mused as she studied the other night dwellers in the area. “I wonder if they’re the origin of the vampire myth on Earth. They have large, dark eyes and pale skin that burns in sunlight, just like vampires. I know the dwellers don’t drink blood, but their teeth are pointy and the nectar they collect is red—maybe that’s it.”
Pegasus nickered and Chrysaor squealed, but the meaning of their words remained a mystery to Emily.
As Emily and Mike walked over to the river, the sounds of shouts and laughter grew louder. Mike ran ahead, and when he saw Joel in the water, he leaped in.
Joel laughed as the dog paddled over to him. Then he looked up at Paelen, who was standing on a diving board. “C’mon, Paelen, just like I showed you—jump!”
It had taken some effort for Joel to convince Jupiter that they needed a diving board. But once it was built, many of the Olympians enjoyed using it, and there was talk of making another, taller board for where the river was deeper.
Emily watched Paelen bouncing on the end of the board, wearing his silken Olympian water trunks. They weren’t too different from baggy shorts, but were solid white and had tiny, neatly folded pleats. His body was smooth and thin, but it didn’t reveal the great strength or unique ability it held to stretch out and manipulate its shape to fit any space or reach almost any distance. Emily had met Paelen back when he had used these talents to be a great thief, but with those days behind him, Paelen was now one of Emily’s closest friends.
Emily’s father, Steve, stood at the side of the river, giving Paelen diving instructions, but they weren’t helping. As Paelen sprang on the board, he soared high into the air and over the water. But instead of putting out his arms and angling his body to dive, he crashed into the surface on his stomach.
“Ouch!” Emily’s father cried.
Paelen resurfaced, coughing and spewing out water. “I will never learn.”
“Sure you will,” Joel laughed. “It just takes practice.”
Joel’s laughter made Emily’s heart flutter and caused a smile to rise to her lips. Like her, he had come to Olympus from New York City. And even though he was human, Joel looked right at home. The only thing that set him apart was his silver right arm. He had lost his real one during a fight with the Gorgons, and Vulcan had made this powerful replacement.
Three water nymphs surfaced behind Joel. Their pale eyes sparkled as they stroked Joel’s artificial arm. In the torchlight, the metal looked like blazing gold.
Both Joel and Paelen blushed at the beautiful nymphs as they started to sing.
Paelen swam closer to them. “Yes, Joel has a silver arm, but look what I can do.” He lifted his arm out of the water and used his powers to stretch the bones and muscles out. He wiggled the fingers on his hand. “Is this not as amazing as a silver arm?”
The three water nymphs weren’t impressed. They turned from Paelen and smiled again at Joel, giggling softly. Then they disappeared beneath the water’s surface.
“Wait. Do not leave!” Paelen cried in disappointment. “Come back!”
“Let ’em go,” Joel said. “You’ve still got to learn to dive.” When his eyes landed on Emily on the shore, he grinned. “Hey, Em, would you please show Paelen how to dive?”
Any traces of jealousy Emily might have felt toward the beautiful water nymphs vanished now that she was the focus of Joel’s bright smile. She handed her towel to her father and climbed up onto the diving board. Then she bounced twice and leaped gracefully into the air, performing a perfect dive.
Joel splashed water at Paelen. “See, that’s how you do it!”
“That is exactly what I did,” Paelen said. “I just looked a little different.”
Joel burst out laughing. “What are you talking about? You belly-flopped!”
“Same thing,” Paelen said as Pegasus entered the water, followed by Chrysaor. As Emily swam over to the stallion, she noticed Paelen and Joel staring at something. Emily followed their gaze to see Diana, the great Huntress, striding toward the river.
She was wearing a golden swimsuit, and her long black hair was out of its usual tight braids and flowed across her shoulders and down her back. She always looked beautiful, but they rarely saw Diana look relaxed like this. Diana’s face lit up with a smile as Emily’s father turned to greet her.
Emily laughed at her two friends with their eyes glued on Diana. She splashed water into their faces.
“Hey, why’d you do that?” Joel demanded.
“You both look like you need cooling down,” Emily teased.
Emily’s father kissed Diana on the cheek. They entered the water and started swimming together down the river.
“Are you okay with that?” Joel asked. “I mean, with your mother and all . . .”
She nodded. “I know my dad really loved my mom. But she’s been dead a long time, and he’s still young. I wouldn’t want him to be alone. And I know Diana really likes him.”
Pegasus swam up behind her and gave her a gentle nudge. He nickered softly.
“Diana has been alone too long,” Paelen told her. “Pegasus says he is happy that she is spending time with your father—they are a good match, as your father is unafraid of her temper.”
Emily stroked the stallion’s white face. “I thought it would be weird seeing him with someone else, but Diana is different. She’s already like family to me.” Emily turned her attention away and her father and Diana swam to shore. She climbed back up on the diving board to try to teach Paelen how to dive.
· · ·
Later that night Pegasus escorted Emily back to the apartment they shared with her father, Joel, and Paelen. Even though the stallion had his own suite, most nights he kept watch over Emily. She insisted she didn’t need protection, but she welcomed the presence of her dearest friend.
Pegasus dozed near the door while Emily lounged on her bed and shuffled through the pages of an old diary. It had been written by Agent B of the Central Research Unit. He had fought beside her when she had time-traveled back to the war with the Titans. At first an enemy, by the end of the war Agent B had become a very close friend.
It was still hard to believe that she could ever call an agent of the CRU anything other than an enemy. Almost from the first day she had met Pegasus, the CRU had been a dark shadow hanging over them. They had hunted down the Olympians and created clones from their blood. They had tortured her and her friends for information. The CRU was the cause of most of their troubles. Yet somehow Agent B had proved to be a loyal and trusted friend.
She had read the fading pages of his diary so many times that she’d practically memorized each entry. But still she kept coming back to it. That book, her own diary, and the silver Pegasus pendant she always wore were almost the only pieces of evidence left from their journey deep into the past.
Of course, Mike was still with her. The abandoned street dog was snoring softly beside her. Occasionally he would growl and kick out his legs as he ran in his dreams. Emily wondered if he was fighting Shadow Titans again.
But apart from the dog and a few of the Original Olympians who had experienced everything with her, no one remembered the events of the past. All the suffering they had endured, all the losses and finally the triumph, had been erased from the memories of those who had traveled through time with her.
It was exactly as Agent B said it would be. After Emily had used her powers to destroy the Titans’ weapon, a cosmic reset button had been activated. Everything returned to normal—as though finding the weapon in modern Greece had never happened.
Not even Pegasus remembered their journey. That was the hardest thing of all—not being able to talk to the winged stallion about it because, for him, it was part of a different time line, and not one he’d experienced. Often she would look at the healthy young winged stallion and suddenly recall the ancient Pegasus who had died in her arms.
Because Pegasus had died in her arms—whether he remembered or not.
Emily stopped at a diary entry she had read so many times before that she could recite it by heart.
Emily and Joel have grown so much closer. After the death of Paelen and now Pegasus, something has changed between them. They are inseparable—and it worries me. If anything should happen to Joel, I don’t think anyone could contain Emily’s rage. I’m convinced she’ll lose control of her powers. They’ll overwhelm her and none of us will survive it.
I know Emily—talking to her won’t work. All I can do is be there for her and offer whatever guidance or support I can. I’m also going to keep a particularly careful eye on Joel. I’ve spoken with Jupiter and the others about it and we all agree. Nothing must...
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