(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Set was written by Tasha Reese.)
Thunderclouds clapped in the distance, lightening slashed the air. Set waited at the lowered drawbridge, looking at the pikes that had heads in various stages of decay. As he tapped his foot with impatience, he looked back into the dark bailey littered with debris of past fights before shrugging and turning back to the road that led to his keep.
Kelly came down the road, wearing her cloak and hood. She didn’t need to look up to see the decaying heads on pikes. She already sensed the stare of the hollow eyes watching her as she approached, yet she was unafraid. Her eyes fixed on the lone individual standing there, and she could sense his power and impatience even from here. Well, this was going to be an interesting interview.
“Hello.” She finally spoke once she was close enough. “Are you Set? I am Kelly. You’re expecting me, I believe. Thank you for meeting me, but tell me…what is this place?” She glanced around.
“Aye, I am Set. Fate and the others told me you were coming.” He stood up tall, stretching to his full 6’7″ height. “This is just a place that I enjoy. You could say it is a place outside of time if you wish. At one point it was used for battles between Scots. I felt it would be an interesting place. Besides the dead just add to the ambiance do you not agree?” He grinned slowly as he watched her face to see how she took it.
Kelly shrugged. “I suppose, but it really doesn’t compare to the interview I had with a demon once in Hell. That was interesting.” She flashed him a smile. “So, shall we stand around here all day or shall we walk? And I understand you are a…god of sorts?”
He let out a rumbling laugh, “Hell. Such a quaint mortal experiment. It is rather interesting.” Shrugging he turned and walked through the bailey. “I am a God. There is no ‘of a sort to it’. You mortals just want to forget us, though there are some that stay to the old ways.” As he walked through the bailey, he crunched bones under his heels, striding swiftly until he was in the main hall and walked to a raised dias with a throne made of ivory and rubies glittering. He sat down lounging in it as he threw a leg over one arm, glad for the wolf pelt that created a cushion for it. “I am one of the most powerful Gods but sadly I am forced to bow down to our father because I have no powerful mate to share in the creation of everything. Though in truth destroying things can be much more entertaining.” Motioning her to sit at a stool placed down in front of him, he continued, “But that will change once I have Her in my grasp.”
“Her? Meaning Eris?” Kelly raised her brows but didn’t sit where he gestured. No, she wasn’t about to let him call the shots, and besides, she preferred standing and meandering around a bit. It helped her think. But she kept her eyes on Set when she said Eris’ name, observing him.
He let out another rumbling laugh,.”Aye that is one name she uses. Though not her true name. She had father give her time and she has found a way to slip around it. But that is no matter,” he said waving his hand in dismissal. “I shall have her in the end and her despair will be so much sweeter because she will know that time and again it is I that ripped her soul from her.”
“So…you’re just going to kill her?” Kelly cocked her head to a side but began pacing before him at a slow, casual pace. “And then what? It seems…rather anticlimactic to hunt someone for so long only to take their soul, which I’m assuming is another way of saying ‘killing’ the person though I also assume there’s more to it then that…?” She folded her arms and turned back to Set. “What does it mean to take someone’s soul?”
He shook his head, “Nae. Taking her soul…her Soul as she calls him is the pathetic excuse for a mate, that mortal that keeps her from fully turning to the darkness like me. He helps her feel love and compassion.” He spit to get the taste of those words out of his mouth. “I would rather have her the terrible scourge that she could be. Covered in blood as she gleefully ends each mortal life. Especially those that she claims to love.” He smiled again, letting the cold he felt start to chill the room as thunder clapped again, closer now.
“So…you want to take her Soul…meaning you want to take her mate? And here I thought you wanted to take her as your mate.” Kelly was pretty certain she knew what he meant, but still, he was amusing when irritated.
Chuckling, his smile widened as he let more cold seep in.”Oh I want him alright. I want to slowly cut him until his life bleeds out. Then I want to follow him into that infernal River she loves so much and rip his soul to shreds so that he can never come into any world that she is again. And when she has no where else to turn, no other way to deny me, I will take her as my wife, take her powers, and make her obey my will.” The coldness leaked from his seemingly dead eyes and he reached out as though lightly caressing someone who was not there. “What could be more pleasurable than that? The utter destruction of something that one sees as eternal?”
Kelly shook her head, chuckling a little. “But you see, since you would cause her such hurt, you’re the last person she would turn to. She’d hate you even more. What makes you think she would even want to be near you then?”
A shiver of delight ran through his body and he leaned forward, “And there is that lovely, naive mortal logic. Without her soul to tether her, she will be much akin to me. Wanting so much more power.” He stood suddenly, “Would you care to see the blood soaked field that she left when last she had no soul? She utterly annihilated over a thousand mortals. And she did it with nothing but a few daggers in her hands and her teeth.” He shivered again in excitement. “I have never seen anything so beautiful. And how the mortals cried out begging the Us to spare their lives. Foolish, they were nothing but pawns and their sacrifice showed her the darkness that she can be. That is how I know without him she will be my mate.” He started to stroll to another set of doors that appeared on the wall to the right, but paused and looked at her, “As well as her word was given to Father that should the time pass and she not have her soul, I would be her mate among the Gods. And surprisingly she is one that finds her word binds her in all things. Rather wonderful isn’t it? In the end, I will have her. But it would be so much more fun if I could get her more quickly.”
Kelly regarded his words, but then shook her head. “More fun? Actually, no, it wouldn’t be. Yes, you two may cause havoc, but you like the chase because you know the longer it continues, the sweeter victory will be in the end.” She noticed he went to this door that appeared in the wall, and she hesitated—uncertain if he wanted her to follow him or if he was just trying to leave the conversation. Nevertheless, she did move toward him. “So, tell me, has it always been you struggling to get her as your mate? Or did you have a life before that? Was there ever anyone else?”
He pushed the door open, showing nothing but blackness and he motioned for her to step through. “I have wanted her as my mate ever since she decided to be born to the gods. Did you not know that she is the beginning of everything?” He chuckled and shook his head, “And while I do enjoy looking for her and destroying what she finds, I also enjoy toying with other mortals, causing lots of death and chaos. It is fun and keeps me entertained since mortals tend to forget about the gods anymore.”
“So…basically, your entire existence has been hunting down Lily? Or Eris, or whatever she calls herself?” Kelly looked at the blackness in the door, and saw his gesture for her to walk though. Well, if she wasn’t the Muse, this could be detrimental, but nothing here could harm her, so she stepped through. “Where are you taking me?”
He stepped through right after her, his hand on the small of her back, the darkness disappearing to show a river flowing around their ankles, “Do not lose contact with my hand. It is what will keep your mortal soul safe here in this River. The River of Death, the river Styx. So many names. I brought you here so that we can find some bloody memories of hers. They all get collected her by Death. and Nae, she was not born for many centuries after me. By the time she came around, I had tired of playing with mortals as bedmates and simply wanted someone powerful. She was our Mothers gift to me. Sadly she did not think she was. Independence and all of that.” He said, waving his other hand in dismissal.
“I see.” Kelly mused as she looked at this river. It looked like a normal river though powerful, but she wasn’t about to test it—not that she trusted Set much at all. “You mentioned Death. I understand Death and Mira protect Lily from you.” She glanced his way. “That must irk you.”
He shrugged, “In every family there is a power struggle. There are also always favorites. While yes they do protect her from me, they keep her safe from mortals too. It is one thing that I like about them. If only the fools would let her go dark, I would enjoy it immensely. Death, well he is much like me though he would never admit it to his Beloved. He would prefer she believe him to be as she sees him. Fate, Mira as you call her, is simply helping her to the end that is needed. Fate cannot change anything and these has no real control.” He cocked his head to the side, “So why would that irk me?”
“Well, they’re not helping you reach your goal any faster.” She shrugged. “And what do you mean they protect her from mere mortals? If she’s a goddess, how can a mortal harm her at all?” Kelly was certain that there was something she had overlooked.
“I am Immortal. Time is not something that bothers me.” He shrugged and pushed her forward so that they could start walking, “She is a goddess but for the reason of escaping me tends to have her powers bound and chooses a mortal woman to give birth to her so that she can try to ‘live a mortal life’ while she looks for her soul. So yes. Mortals can hurt her mortal body, rape, cut, kill, it doesn’t matter as it would be just like your body. However hers is unique in that even with her powers bound she has a moving tattoo that shows all the true names over everything alive and dead. Sadly I have not been close enough to her in her mortal form to make a study of this. Though I believe it would be an interesting subject.”
“That sounds interesting indeed.” Kelly nodded then glanced away from the river to look at him. “So, who are the other gods and goddesses? I’m assuming some work with you, do they not?”
“Work with me? Gods do not need to work at anything. Yes we talk, share information. But I do not need their power. I do tend to use their offspring and mine for my own purposes. Aside from that, it would be unlikely that they could give me what I want.” He grabbed her arm and motioned towards the bank that had a little inlet, “I believe the memories we want would be there. We can walk in and you can see all the blood and carnage she is capable of. Or I can be kind and we can return to the mortal realm where you do not need to worry about the River chipping away at your Life. I leave the decision to you.” He made a mockingly slight bow and grinned at her, his eyes dancing with mischief.
Kelly smiled. “You do realize this place cannot harm me, correct? I am not a mere mortal of this realm.” With that, Kelly stepped away from Set to prove it to him, and she remained whole and intact. That was a perk of being the Muse visiting a fictional world. Nothing in the fictional world could hurt her. She smiled at Set’s confusion but decided not to address it. Instead, she walked along the bank of the river now. “So, you mentioned your father, correct? What is he like? What of your mother?”
Giving his head a slight shake, he frowned at a memory that seemed to weave by him, grabbing it and listened to it a moment before turning back to the woman. “I do not want to harm you. I am simply keeping you safe. After all it is not many people who wish to see my side of things.” He shrugged again. “As for Father and Mother. You know them already. They are your Sun and Earth. They have different names to different people. Whichever you choose to call them is up to you. I care not. Mother is the closest to me. She knows what it is like to seek a mate that is powerful. That is why when she birthed Alexial, she told me that Alexial, whom you call Lily, would be my mate. It is thanks to Mother’s influence that Father finally agreed to make Alexial/Lily my wife. However, as she is one of Fathers favorites he added the stipulations that she requested and we have been going around and around ever since.”
“Sounds like a fun game.” Not really, but when dealing with gods and goddesses, they would do whatever they wanted since they weren’t bound by time. “You now though…” Kelly turned back to Set, lifting her hand to her chin in a thoughtful pose. “You mentioned earlier you’re not bound by time, and yet you’re irritated that you haven’t gotten Lily or Alexial yet. Why would it trouble you since time is like nothing to you?”
“Simple. The same is true for her. But when she binds herself and takes mortal form. When I follow her, I am bound by those time restraints as well. It is because I do not know where or when she is and so must try to follow the best I can. That is one way that Fate and Death help. They hide important facts of when and where she is so that I cannot get her at vulnerable times. And Father may have made a decree that I have to use more mortal methods when trying to catch her in the mortal realm,” he shrugged a little grumpily.
Kelly nodded as she meandered along the bank of the river. “I can tell you are driven by your own…ambitions and greed, but…do you ever get tired of it? Ever get tired of the chase? Ever get lonely?” She looked back at him to observe him as he contemplated this answer.
“No, there are other immortal females that allow me to slide between their thighs. The same can be said for mortal women. In all honesty, I simply want Alexial. Who knows, mayhap it is simply because she has said Nae when everyone else says Aye. Of course that is just a bonus because of her power.” He grinned at that and rubbed his hands together.
“So, once you have her, you get her power, aye?” Kelly lifted her brows. “And what will be left of her?”
“It will be simply a sharing of power. The same of any man and wife. The only difference is that our power is tangible.” He walked up onto the river bank and pulled out a dagger, easily cutting his hand and flicking the blood to help create a new door out of blood and mist, “Shall we return to the living realm? I would rather Death not come find me in his backyard as it were. He is rather tedious about me bothering the souls that come through here.” He motioned to some slight shades in the water that one would miss if they did not know to look for them.
“Oh, that would actually be rather entertaining!” Kelly smirked but nodded and stepped through the door, back into the land of the living. That was an interesting venture. She turned back to Set. “And what exactly is your power anyway?”
He smiled and shrugged, “A little of this, a little of that. Who knows anymore, right? And while you may find it entertaining, I would then have to listen to multiple people complain and Alexial/Lily would be rather upset with me if I killed one of her favorites.” He followed her through the door, ending up back in the bailey again though this time there were no skeletons littering the ground.
Kelly nodded at his words but also noticed the lack of death surrounding them now in the bailey. Ah, what an interesting interview indeed, but Kelly lifted her gaze to the sky, sensing her time here coming to an end. “Our time together is almost up, meaning you won’t have to put up with me much longer. I think there’s more to you than your greed and lust for power, but your pride forbids you from admitting that. However, I have one more question.” She turned to face him fully. “If something happened to someone Lily loves, but you could help her, would you?” of course, she assumed there might be strings attached to that, but still Kelly asked.
“If it were one of the gods, Aye, I would help. Mortals though. No. I may keep them from having another mortal harm them. But in the end all mortals are fated to die. It is not my place to stop that. Granted. I may cause them less pain, unless of course it was her soul. Beyond that. It would depend. She did have a little sister, Lily did, I helped her to find a good place. How can that be so bad?” He smirked slightly and gave another slight bow.
Kelly smiled at him. He was an interesting fellow, that was for sure. “Thank you for this conversation. It was very enlightening. I would hope you the best, but…honestly, I think the chase is much more interesting. Now, I shall leave you to…whatever it is you will do.” She nodded to him then turned and walked away. At the gesture of her hand, she opened a portal into another world and stepped through, closing it behind her.
Tasha Reese’s book ‘Birth of the Shadewalker’ is available on the following site. Also, be sure to follow her on social media!