Hekate's Chosen: A Story of the Horde
The Lady of the Crossroads, Hekate of the Horde, heard the cries before she found their source.
A baby. A special one.
She found him on the side of a mountain, naked, one-eyed, and wailing. Fury filled her as it so often did when she found the people of this world throwing away something precious. They would leave a child to die on a mountain, simply because it was not what they expected.
She refused to let the child suffer that fate. Who cared if he had only one eye? She’d give him second sight, and he’d see more clearly than any of them ever could.
She wrapped the child in her saffron-colored robes and crooned to him. The baby ceased its sobbing, clutching a fold of her robe in one small hand. He was strong, this one, and she sang of her delight in him.
Her hounds, bounding around her in the air, took up the song. They knew they would soon have a new playmate, one that would share both affection and food. They howled their approval joyfully into the night.
The people in the village below cowered in their homes at the unearthly sounds. An ill wind, they thought. Are the gods displeased?
If only they knew how displeased. Hekate frowned, giving the child her fingers to grasp and chew. But here. She had no cause to complain. The child had been left in the between, that place between life and death. He was Hers by right, as chosen by the Fates. She had Her prize, and She would leave the mortals below to their fear and guilt.
Into Her underworld home She took the child, bringing him to Her family, crooning as She went.
The world said She was fearsome. The world said She was the mother of monsters, and she supposed it was true. However, those monsters weren’t always of Her creation. This child, a son of mortals, had been deemed a monster, but She would raise him. Name him. Love him. Bless him. Gift him with the powers he would need later in life. She would help him grow strong and find his purpose, as any mother would.
And if ever he wanted to seek revenge on those who left him on a mountaintop, she’d be more than happy to help him achieve that, as well.
As they reached the underworld, Her hounds rushed through the doors, announcing their triumphant return home. And their barks and howls said, clear as water to anyone who knew the language, Come and see!
Dogs could share joyful excitement better than most beasts. It made her smile as She greeted her family and held up the child for them to see, careful to cradle him gently.
Hekate knew the world saw her family as a horde of fearsome creatures, not a family of misfits and outcasts. But there was no reason they could not be both. They were all smiles and delight as they crowded around her to see their new sibling, and their joy and approval roared fiercely, echoing throughout the hall.
A new brother to raise and love, a new warrior to train and fight beside. For the horde did follow Hekate into battle. Was that not the purpose of family, to watch over and protect each other? And if the world found her family so terrible to behold, then let them think of it as a fearsome horde.
Fear could often accomplish what compassion could not.
As the merriment continued all around her, Hekate continued to sing to the child. Her cyclops! Such a rare treasure. She would keep this one close to her bosom, raise him to be cunning and cautious. He would not be tricked and slain by a whore of a man who couldn't find his way home without killing every human and creature he met along the way.
She scowled at the thought of the sailor, that wretched king of some rocky island that had forgotten Her long ago. Why Athena had liked him so well, she would never know.
The child gurgled at her, his blue eye blinking in the firelight. Hekate smiled, her anger fading, and stroked his cheek with one finger. No, such an ignominious fate would not await this little one. He would have family to guide him and protect him. He was part of the horde now, and he would never be alone again.
As her horde danced and rejoiced around them, She let the joy chase away any sorrow she still felt over the child being cast out. It didn't make what had been done to him right, of course. But it did make her feel like this child—this handsome, singular son of man—was exactly where he belonged.
The baby seemed to agree, as he smiled at Her and giggled happily.
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