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Summoning Persephone part 3

by Dreamworx95

Continuation of part 1 and 2, you can read both here, if you wish: 

Part 1:

Part 2:

Chapter 1 - The Winter Stag (continued)


Ancient Poland, near the Baltic Sea

My boots sink ankle deep into a thick layer of snow, crunching the ice as I walk through the woods. I’m swathed in heavy woolen layers and furs, with nothing but a dagger and a bow and arrows slung across my back. My fur-lined hood is tied tightly around my face. As I make my way through the icicled trees, frozen ferns brush against my skin like cold fingers.

I take slow, measured breaths, letting winter fill my lungs, tuning myself to the wild, to the creatures that dwell in the forest.

I heard stories about the rare winter stag when I was young. They live in the coldest parts of the world.

The day after Zeus destroyed the bathhouse, I took all the money I’ve saved over the years and booked passage from Aphor to the northern city of Kavala, and from there, made my way further north, north, north, to the wildlands at the edge of the Baltic Sea. There were times in the last few months when I wanted to turn back. To abandon my grueling journey and go home. But the memory of Serena kept me going.

Zeus has to die. But I’m not strong enough to kill him. The only way I stand a chance is to join the Cult of Athena, the only lesser god with strength that rivals that of the three great gods: Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus.

I am heart-deep in the forest, hunting for my prey. For my tribute to her.

People bring all kinds of offerings to the Goddess of War. Weapons, armor, pelts of dangerous beasts they’ve killed. If I bring Athena the head of a winter stag, I know I’ll impress her.

And I’ve already spotted one, guessing by the oversized deer tracks in the snow.

They say the winter stag is twice the size of a very large horse, and from the looks of these tracks, it’s true.

I kneel down by the edge of a thornberry bush, tracing the indentation of the stag’s tracks in the snow. The two leaf-like prints line up together like two halves of a heart, with circular indents underneath the curve of each print. I spread my palm across it, and the heart-shaped print is bigger than the size of my hand.

He’s nearby; the lightly falling snow hasn’t filled in the footprint.

I rise, loping through the ferns, letting the tracks lead me forward. A winding path takes me deeper into the wood until I reach the edge of a clearing. The ground slopes downwards, and at the opposite side of the valley, there’s a pond, completely frozen over.

Sunrays dapple the icy surface, rippling like ocean waves as the clouds race across the sky. The pond glistens like a porcelain plate, making me squint. Then a massive cloud passes over the sun, casting a large shadow over the clearing. And that’s when I see it.

The winter stag.

Lingering at the edge of the trees, he leans down to nibble the bushes. His fur coat is as white as the sun. Massive antlers crown his great head like snow-covered branches, icicles gleaming on the tips like stars.

He’s breathtaking. And much larger than I imagined. At least the size of a great bear.

For a few moments, I don’t move at all, completely mesmerized. 

Concealed in the shadow of the trees, I hover at the edge of the wood, crouching low in the ferns. My bow and arrows feel heavy, very heavy, all of a sudden. Why do I feel as though I’m trespassing in his domain?

I shake my head. Focus. I didn’t come all this way just to leave empty-handed.

Silent as a shadow, I slink around the clearing to get closer to him, keeping close to the darkness under the trees and taking advantage of wet patches of ground untouched by loud snow. The twisty branches screen me from sight, and when I have a good view of the stag, I move closer to the opening in the trees.

The stag freezes. My breath stops.

His rear is facing me. He lifts his head, turning right around to look in my direction.

For one moment my eyes lock on his silver-white eyes. Can he see me? If he knows I’m here and he runs off, there’s no way I can catch up with him.

Let him go. Says a voiceless whisper in my mind. I ignore it and wait with tensed breath as his eyes tunnel in on me, silver spheres of suspicion.

I don’t move. I don’t breathe.

He looks away.

A grey puff of air escapes my lips. The stag leans down to nibble at the bushes again. He shifts his body ever so slightly, giving me a clear angle of his head, neck, and chest. This is my chance.

Slowly, I take off my thick gloves, one by one, and let them fall to the ground. I reach back and unsheath my bow and arrows. My eyes stay fixed on his head as I raise the bow up to my chest. The drawstring presses into my fingers when I pull back the arrow, aiming the arrow at the stag’s head.

The side of his face is to me, giving me a perfect angle of his neck.

Holding my breath again, I pause. Hesitate.

He’s still chewing on the ferns, oblivious. Frosty sunlight streams down from the sky, making his snow-coat glow. Truly a rare creature. Magnificent.

My heart throbs painfully. For Serena.

“I’m sorry,” I whisper.

And then, releasing the breath I’ve been holding, I let my arrow fly. 

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13 Reviews

Points: 149
Reviews: 13

Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:08 am
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Prachi says...

Hi Dreamworx

this chapter is very interesting. I like your description a lot. I can actually imagine myself standing there and watching Persephone aiming her arrow at the stag. You definitely know how to keep someone hooked over your story. Great work.

Dreamworx95 says...

Thank you, Prachi! Love your avatar btw

Prachi says...


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1412 Reviews

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Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:45 pm
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BlueAfrica wrote a review...

I'm reading through this now, so I just wanted to say the description in this chapter is just what I was talking about with Athens! Instead of describing the forest generically, you show us Persephone kneeling by a thornberry bush, examining a specific set of tracks, noticing the sun flashing on the iced-over pond. It was a really beautifully written chapter. I also liked seeing the conflict as she admires how magnificent the stag is and clearly doesn't want to kill him but also needs to so she can have the most impressive tribute.

(Also, now I see that "tributes" referred to their tributes to the gods, not the contestants themselves, so you can probably ignore that part of my review of chapter seven as well.)

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63 Reviews

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Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:32 am
Thundahguy wrote a review...

Hi, I’m Thundahguy, and I know that I said that I would review chapter 4 next, and that this has 3 reviews already, but I’ve decided to forego that promise and review this chapter. Here it is:

A bit of a jump cut from our previous scene, but it’s not too disorientating, and you do explain how we ended up there, so it’s fine. Your use of description in your previous two chapters was nice, but its exceptional here. The environment and the weather is so aptly described that I can imagine it clearly.

As for character, Persephone is being fleshed out well. She’s just as serious as she was the past two chapters, but there’s hints of extra character. It’s something that a lot of revenge stories get wrong: that there’s a character underneath that grudge. It's apparent when she takes aim at the Stag. She realizes it’s a beautiful creature, and she’s hesitated killing it multiple times. When she mutters Serena’s name, it just further emphasises how important her quest is, and she shoots. I love it.

Yeah, there isn’t anything to hate about this, really. I’m really enjoying this series. Can’t wait to read the rest.

Dreamworx95 says...

Thank you for reading, Thundahguy. Glad the jump cut was bearable, haha.

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42 Reviews

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Wed Dec 20, 2017 10:07 am
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shima wrote a review...

Yeah, me back again. Guess I just liked this story this much. :-) Another great chapter - as always, already. A great progression of the story - although I wasn't sure about it in the beginning, seeing how we have completely switched from one region to another. It was a very interesting change - going from Greece to the Baltic Sea. I liked it, although it is difficult to imagine how one can carry a head all the way from the Baltic Sea to Greece without it rotting in a time before fridges and airplanes. Or do they have a temple for Athena in the Baltic Region as well? Sorry...I am getting a bit distracted. Anyways, great structure, nice build-up. I also love how you slowly, piece by piece, unveil the world that these characters inhabit - beginning with just one god, then mentioning more and finally revealing that the reason why she wants to become a warrior of Athena is because she is the only one who has the same level of power as the three main gods. BTW - while we're at it - why doesn't she simply join the cult of Hades or Poseidon? Wouldn't that be easier? Anyways...I am getting way too much into the details here, I guess.

You pay great attention to the descriptions of these characters and the environment they inhabit, which makes it really vivid and realistic (if such a word can be used in a story about Gods and Ancient Greece.). A part I really liked was about the frozen fingers brushing against her skin, which I thought was really original and beautiful and unique.
I also think it is kinda cool, the fact that she actually feels sorry for the animal she is going to kill. Makes her even more human and relatable and you can feel the pain she's feeling when she kills the poor creature, even if she knows it is a just cause.

In this chapter we can also (finally) fully feel the pain she feels because of the death of her sister and the way that it shapes her and the amount of strength it gives her (seeing how travelling all the way from Greece to the Baltic Sea isn't an easy task, certainly not in the time-period given.).

I, personally, don't see anything wrong with grammar or the way the sentences are constructed (but I can be wrong about that, seeing how English ain't my first language), so no problems there.

In short - great chapter, loved it, looking forward to more.

Dreamworx95 says...

Thanks so much for continuing! I'm so glad to hear you're enjoying it so far. I am really enjoying writing it. In the next couple chapters, both issues you mentioned get addressed - carrying the stag's head back to Greece and also why she can't try to join the Cult of Hades or Poseidon.

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420 Reviews

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Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:55 am
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Holysocks wrote a review...

Hello! Care for a review?

I quite enjoyed this. You have a very interesting feel going here, in this novel! It has a very intriguing, cozy, and calm feel (which, is good I think- I don't mean the plot, that would be kinda bad if I was saying that about the plot- I mean the atmosphere feels that way, and it's really refreshing because a lot of stories don't have a memorable atmosphere).

I'm also quite interested with the whole revenge thing. I mean, normally I find revenge stories really cliche and bleh, but I think because this character that's seeking revenge (I'm pretty sure he's avenging the lady, if I'm correct) seems so kind and gentle and harmless, really (even though he/she/they seem pretty equipped to do some damage- but it's like it's not in his - I think it's a guy? - nature.), which makes the prospect of a revenge story WAY more interesting to me! And way less cliche, too.

keeping close to the darkness under the trees and taking advantage of wet patches of ground untouched by loud snow.

Most of this chapter was great- I understood what was going on perfectly with everything you said. But this line really threw me for a loop. How exactly is he taking advantage of the 'wet patches'? Are you saying that the snow is doing the thing where it's melting and it tends to melt away from under the trees first... but it's also snowing at the same time, so it doesn't really make sense that it's melting. And if there's as much snow as implied in the first line of this chapter, I don't think there'd still be a 'no-snow-zone' under the trees that sometimes happens for like the first snow fall of the year or something. So I'm not really sure what's happening there. And then the 'loud snow' bit doesn't really seem to work either. Unless you mean that under the trees where there's no snow, there won't be any snow crunching by his boots? I feel like you might want to try to reword that a bit though to make it a little more clearer.

aiming the arrow at the stag’s head.

If he's taking the head as a present/offering to the goddess, why would he want to shoot the stag in the head? That would just make a mess of it.

The only other thing I wanted to mention is I felt like we were getting a tad bit of a info dump in the beginning of this chapter. I feel like the stuff that we learned - or a lot of it anyway - should have almost been what the story was about in part one and two of this novel, instead of as more of a back story. But maybe that was just me.

Anyways, I liked it! Keep it up!


Dreamworx95 says...

Hi Holysocks, thank you for reading! The MC is a girl. Reading over the wet patches part it is pretty confusing. I meant taking advantage of the places where there isn't snow so it wouldn't make a sound when she walks.

Thanks again!

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14 Reviews

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Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:13 am
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VictoriaAnderson1230 wrote a review...

Now I don't 100 percent know what going on will take a read of the first and second part but I can say as a confused reader that I am intrigued and find this extremely interesting. Maybe it's the fact I don't know what is happening or your vivid imagery but whatever it doesn't stop. I am a sucker for speech as I as a writer never seem to get it dead on but you seem to have executed the form of the diolouge well. I could follow it. :) Great job keeps it up.

P.S not great with punctuation but reading it out to my flatmates and having them peer eagerly over my shoulder it was brought to my attention your godly use of commas like dang you stuttin (Excuse my random burst of slang) your grammar is on point ;)

Dreamworx95 says...

Thank you for reading! There's hardly any dialogue in this piece though? lol

yeah I meant in a way that a lot of people tend to not start off there dialogue well forgetting to open (") or close (") it makes it extremely difficult to tell it apart. There was only one sentence in this chapter if I remember correctly but yeah it was still clear. (Not sure if you get what I mean) lol.

Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality.
— Jules de Gaultier