Выбрать главу

Goddess of Legend

(The seventh book in the Goddess Summoning series)

A novel by P C Cast

Dear Readers,

Okay, I’ll admit it—authors have favorite books. I know, I know, books are like children, and we don’t always want to admit to liking one better than another, but it’s true. The Goddess Summoning books are my favorite children.

As with my bestselling young adult series, the House of Night, my Goddess Summoning books celebrate the independence, intelligence, and unique beauty of modern women. My heroes all have one thing in common: they appreciate powerful women and are wise enough to value brains as well as beauty. Aren’t respect and appreciation excellent aphrodisiacs?

Delving into mythology and reworking ancient myths is fun! In Goddess of the Sea, I retell the story of the mermaid Undine, who switches places with a female U.S. Air Force sergeant who needs to do some escaping of her own. In Goddess of Spring, I turn my attention to the Persephone/Hades myth and send a modern woman to Hell. Who knew Hell and its brooding god could be hot in so many wonderful, seductive ways?

From there we took a lovely vacation in Las Vegas with the divine twins, Apollo and Artemis, in Goddess of Light. And then we come to what is my favorite of all fairy tales, “Beauty and the Beast.” In Goddess of the Rose, I created my own version of this beloved tale, building a magical realm from whence dreams originate—good and bad—and bringing to life a beast who absolutely took my breath away.

From fairy tale let’s move to comedy and hotness in Goddess of Love. It is perhaps the funniest and steamiest of all the Goddess Summoning books. After all, Venus herself is my heroine! Finally, we move to an epic story that has intrigued me for a long time, the Trojan War, and Achilles, a hero who I think has deserved his own happily ever after for a couple thousand years. Check out how I manage it in Warrior Rising.

I hope you enjoy my worlds, and my wish for you is that you discover a spark of goddess magic of your own!

P. C. Cast

To Trish Jensen—

the best pinch hitter I know.

You can be on my team anytime, Fluffy!


Thank you to my wonderful editor, Wendy McCurdy, for being sure this book was born.

As always, I appreciate my friend and agent, Meredith Bernstein. You know this book (and LOTS of other books) wouldn’t have happened without you.

And a special acknowledgment to my fabulous author friend Trish Jensen. You’re wonderful, baby! Fans o’ mine, please check her out at www.trishjensen.com.


“THEY will believe I entrapped you.” Coventina, the great water goddess, turned her head, unable to look at him.

“I am not entrapped, my love. I am simply resting from the darkness of this world,” Merlin said. He touched her smooth cheek so that she had to turn back and meet his gaze. “And since when have we cared what others say, Viviane?”

His use of the nickname he called her at their most intimate moments couldn’t even make her smile. “It is a curse to have the ability to see into the future,” she said.

“In many ways, love.”

“Yes. But have you always seen this for you? For me? For us? Why let me love you, knowing what you have known?”

“’Tis a man in the far future, a healer named Phil, who proclaims love is what it is. It has no future or past, but simply the present.”

“This healer does not impress me,” Viviane said. “We have a past, and we could also have a future. See it. Believe in it.”

“I cannot see our future, my love. It pains me too much when I am not allowed to alter what I see.” His sigh was deep. “The future of Arthur and Camelot pierced me enough that more wounds feel unbearable.”

She gazed at his wonderfully familiar face and saw the goodness, strength and kindness that had first drawn her to him. But she also saw something else—his visage was shadowed by a weariness that made him appear a decade older than he had just months ago.

If only there was a way she could take some of the burden from him. She’d known loving a mortal would be difficult and that she would, eventually, have to lose him, but Merlin was a powerful Druid, and the goddess had hoped that his magical powers, so utterly tied to the earth, would give him the strength to live as her consort far longer than an ordinary mortal would have the ability to live.

It was ironic that it had not been the stress of loving a goddess that had been Merlin’s undoing. Instead it had been the encroaching darkness that seemed eerily drawn to his human charge, Arthur Pendragon, the boy grown to man who was like a son to him, that had caused the Druid to want to escape the world badly enough that he had bespelled himself and would soon fade to nothingness in the self-made prison of this deceptively beautiful crystal cave.

That damned Arthur! Why had he not listened to Merlin and chosen a wife other than young, beautiful and utterly vapid Guinevere?

As if reading her mind, Merlin said, “My love, please do not blame Arthur. It isn’t his fault, not entirely. Nor is it Guinevere’s fault. None of us can choose where we love.” Merlin leaned back against the fur pallet he’d arranged for himself in one smooth corner of the crystal cave. “I know I’m being a coward, but I have seen what will happen to him—to all of them. I have also seen that I cannot change it. It is ...” He paused, looking close to tears. “It is as if Arthur is embracing his destruction. I have done everything in my power to help him. I have fought with him, counseled him, begged him, cajoled him—nothing works. In every scenario of the future I see, the light and goodness that is Arthur is utterly destroyed by the darkness of jealousy and greed, lust and anger.”

Viviane felt a flutter of panic as he closed his eyes. How was she going to go on forever with him here—not alive and not dead—simply unchanged, sleeping in this coldly beautiful tomb, where she was unable to speak with him, or touch him, or hold him?

“But, Merlin, there must be a way to influence these events. There must be a way to save this one man.” And in doing so, she added silently to herself, I would save you, too.

Merlin shook his head. “It is beyond my power. It is beyond your power.”

“It cannot be beyond my power!” the goddess cried in frustration.

“Viviane, my only love, you know that even the gods are not allowed to tamper with the balance of light and dark. The choice between the two is a mortal one, and darkness is reigning in Camelot.”

“Of course I know that! But I am an immortal. I wield the very essence of life. I must be able to save your son for you.”

“I fear his fate is sealed. He will die brokenhearted. Betrayed by love, he will go willingly to his death. Now, please, my goddess, my love, allow me to sleep.”

Viviane dropped to her knees beside his pallet and pressed her cheek against his thigh. He stroked her golden hair with a hand that was increasingly weak.

“I am so weary ...” he whispered.

As his eyes fluttered shut again, perhaps for the last time, Viviane sat up, her heart pounding with the beginnings of hope.

“Wait! Merlin, you said there is nothing in this time or reality that makes Arthur change his mind. But could something, or perhaps someone, from another time or another reality affect a change? Have you looked into that possible future and divined failure, too?”