In The Forest Gods’ Fight, the riveting sequel to The Forest Gods’ Reign, Athena, reincarnation of the Greek goddess of Wisdom and War, returns to her hometown from the corrupt Knowing camp, where believers in the myths live, after learning of personal attacks on her friends and fellow gods. Inconveniently, major problems await at her childhood home as well as in the gods’ beloved forest, and as the Olympians’ war with Hades reaches its climax, Athena is forced once again to confront the years-old prophecy head-on. But as the secret of the human hero Alec gnaws at her conscience, she pulls away from her friends just when they need her most. With the start of school only weeks away, time to win the war is dwindling, and the forest and its future have never before seemed so dark. Finally united with all the local mythical beings and the best Knowing Warriors, the gods are stronger than they’ve ever been. Always a page ahead, however, Athena can’t resist the chance to end the fight on her own, a decision that will ultimately end in either unquestionable victory or deadly destruction.
About the Author
Alexandria Hook began writing online on Wattpad, and her fans encouraged her to get published. Her fascination with the ancient Greeks and the Olympic pantheon inspired The Forest Gods’ Reign, her first venture into the world of publication at age fifteen, and now she’s delivered her second book, The Forest Gods’ Fight. When she’s not writing, Alexandria enjoys camping, playing reverse hide-and-seek, snuggling with her cat, and equestrian competition.
Read an Excerpt
MONSTERS AND A MOVIE
People always talk of the "calm before the storm." As I looked anxiously into the deep blue eyes of Poseidon, the god of the sea, that phrase came to mind. The urgency in my tone had silenced him and now he was just studying me, trying to guess exactly what type of storm was coming and what type of damage might be left in its wake. He could afford to stand unaffected in the middle of the street for a few moments, but I couldn't. In the metaphorical sense, there is no calm before the storm for those who know it's coming, the onxes who are more or less responsible for it. You see, in this case, I was the storm. I, Athena, the reincarnated goddess of wisdom, was for the first time in my life the most responsible for the trouble at hand. I'd never felt so much like Zeus.
"I — I think Aphrodite's in the woods," Poseidon stuttered quietly, finally realizing that something was very wrong. My sudden return to Washington from Kentucky — nearly two weeks early, in fact — should've been the first clue. I released him from my tight grasp, then turned on my heel and took off in a dead sprint, heading straight into the forest we called home. I didn't even bother to fill him in, or Apollo, or Zeus, none of whom had shared my recent haunting visions of the dead goddess of love and beauty. It wasn't part of the Oracle of Delphi's prophecy — not even the part they didn't know about.
What was happening now, the deterioration of our reign over the forest and our hometown of the Woods, was entirely my fault. No, really. It was obvious to me that Hades, lord of the dead and our current enemy, meant to harm Aphrodite because she represented love, not because he was retaliating after some specific action of hers. He was sending a message. Somehow he knew that Alec, my young hero and destined savior of the war, had feelings for me — and that I maybe had feelings for the Knowing boy, too.
You shouldn't have let Alec stay here, I told myself angrily for probably the hundredth time since he'd stumbled into our woods a few weeks earlier. He was the first human with the Sight (the knowledge that the Greek myths were true and the ability to see monsters for what they really were) any of us teenaged gods had ever come across and he'd told us of a faraway camp filled with people just like him — the Knowing. But his real reason for finding us, he had claimed, was that the Oracle sent him. Zeus, my best friend and Mr. King of the Gods, had given me the final say in the matter, and I'd told Alec he could live under our protection, simply because I would have felt guilty about letting him die on his own in the forest. I should have known not to get attached. I should have let him perish alone, rather than let him build such a dangerous friendship with this generation of Greek gods. Here's the simple truth: I thought I would have more control than I actually did.
But at least for right now, Alec's presence couldn't screw anything else up; he was still back in Kentucky, readying the Knowing army to fight Hades.
As I raced onward, I heard the sound of Zeus, Poseidon, and Apollo frantically running to catch up with me. I threw down my black backpack at the edge of the trees and didn't pause to pick up any weapons when I raced by the hollow, moss-covered logs where our makeshift armory was; there was no time for that, so the metamorphic rock/sword and my pocketknife would have to do. The guys must not have had anything at all with them, however, because I could no longer hear them panting behind me, so I assumed they had paused to grab the master lightning bolt, trident, and bow with a leather quiver full of arrows.
Glaring ahead in determination, I made a hard right, now heading north along the same winding path as in my dream, a route I had taken hundreds of times before. Low-hanging branches smacked my face as I raced along the uneven path and jumped over any old, fallen trees or boulders in the way, but I ignored the stinging sensation spreading across my face and ran faster. I had to make it in time. I had to.
When I heard shouting in Greek coming from behind me, I knew that the other gods had caught up again. The branches of the pine trees reached out across the overgrown path like arms trying to grab the four of us as we sprinted single file along the narrow trail, with me in the lead, since I was the only one who actually knew the complete story of what was going on. I heard a girl's terrible, bloodcurdling scream coming from farther along the trail and knew that we were close, but the question of whether we would make it in time to save her still remained.
I took a deep breath before pulling out all of my energy to run faster than I had ever run in my entire life. Time never seemed to be on our side.
Grumbling to myself in frustration, I jumped over a huge, mangled log and turned left, keeping to the trail from my vision. The trail that I knew would lead us to Aphrodite, whether she was dead or alive. I felt the tickle of the long, lush green ferns at my feet slowly fade away as we four — the gods of our town's so-called Monster Watch — burst into a familiar tiny clearing in the thick trees, but we were not alone anymore.
I had only a few seconds to survey the situation as I tried to slow my breathing and concentrate: the meaty, monstrous Minotaur had the gorgeous Aphrodite pinned against the rough bark of a pine tree, with his thick, furry, black hand slowly starting to close around her petite throat. Aphrodite's eyes were rolled back and her thin arms were flailing around wildly as she tried to gasp for air, but to no avail. The fragile goddess of love who happened to be wearing expensive heels and a white miniskirt (don't ask me why she would come into the forest like that) was obviously no match for the mighty Minotaur in this situation.
Knowing that Aphrodite's precious life was about to be crushed right before my eyes if I didn't do anything, I shouted out, hoping the others would somehow understand my desperate plan. I would have saved her myself, but throwing my own sword at the gigantic Minotaur was too risky; I might accidentally hit Aphrodite and then coming all the way back to Washington from Kentucky would have been useless, not to mention the fact that I would be losing a fellow goddess and friend. So I screamed one word: "Poseidon!"
Then I dove to my left, hitting the forest floor hard. I glanced behind me just in time to see Poseidon's perfectly toned and tanned muscles ripple from stress as he struck the earth with his golden trident humming with power and everything around us started to shake. Sighing in relief that Poseidon had understood what I was trying to tell him, I quickly covered my head and hoped he hadn't caused a big enough earthquake to make the trees topple.
I looked up to see the Minotaur stumble and reluctantly let go of Aphrodite as it tried to regain its balance while I sighed again in relief. The greatly weakened Aphrodite fell to the ground, coughing and sputtering, her luscious golden hair now in unruly tangles from the struggle with the horrifying monster that had reemerged from the mysterious Underworld.
But by then, the giant tremor in the earth had finally stopped. The Minotaur was grunting unintelligibly and stumbling through the coarse grass toward Aphrodite yet again, its red eyes gleaming with even more hatred and anger than before. Aphrodite, on the other hand, was still collapsed in the grass by the tree, her blue eyes glassy due to oxygen deprivation. She was in no condition to defend herself. Meanwhile, Poseidon was readjusting his grip on his trident and, strangely enough, Apollo was having trouble fitting an arrow into his wooden recurve bow properly. Either someone or something had tampered with his weapon of choice, or he was just abnormally shaken up from the quake.
Regardless, glaring at the hungry monster, I forcefully pushed myself up without hesitation and readied myself for a quick battle by pulling the small, gray rock from my pocket. The shining silver blade immediately popped out.
But I shouldn't have even bothered, knowing Zeus was with me, because just then, I was blinded by a flash of white-hot light I knew immediately was lightning and felt a strong burning sensation on the entire right side of my body as the bolt whizzed by me like a rocket. I blinked rapidly, trying to regain my vision as the smell of fire filled my nostrils.
Color seeped back into my sight just in time to see a now stiff Minotaur with singed black fur crumble into a small pile of dust, which then sank slowly into the muddy soil on its way to the Underworld once more. As I took a deep breath, I squeezed the hilt of the sword, turning it back into a rock, and stuffed it in my jeans pocket. Next, I checked the right side of my body to make sure it wasn't burned too badly and was relieved to find that my skin was only slightly warmer and redder than usual. Zeus had learned to control his powers well.
Once I was sure I was unharmed, I hurried with Zeus, Poseidon, and Apollo to meet Aphrodite, who was finally lifting herself from the grass. Her blue eyes simply widened in terror as her body began to shake from both stress and fright, but I still sighed in relief, regardless of her current state. All that mattered was that she was alive. In fact, I was just thinking that Aphrodite was keeping herself composed very well for a girl who had almost been strangled to death when she suddenly broke down. Without saying a word, Aphrodite used the rest of her energy to pull all four of us in for a group hug, as only she could get us more insensitive gods to do, then let out a huge sob as she began to cry into Zeus's dirty white T-shirt. I knew Aphrodite had never been so close to death before. None of us had.
"Just let it out. It's okay," Zeus muttered to her in his most comforting tone, closing his stormy eyes for a sentimental moment. "You're okay."
After about five minutes of Aphrodite crying into Zeus's shoulder, we silently helped her up and headed southwest toward the small meadow where our emergency supply kit was kept at the edge of the trees. We rushed as much as we could to avoid running into any more monsters, but Aphrodite still hadn't gained much energy back after her near-death experience so it was slow going for most of the way. Not to mention she still hadn't uttered a word to any of us, though on the other hand, that gave me time to tell everyone about the vision I'd first experienced the night before.
By the time I finished my explanation, I decided she had recuperated well enough to offer her own. "Hey, Aphrodite, what were you doing in here anyway?" I asked her curiously, because truthfully, Aphrodite seemed to avoid the forest as much as possible except for battle practices. Although it wasn't really surprising to me that the goddess of love and beauty didn't want to spend her free time fighting monsters. Wouldn't want to break a nail, of course.
She sniffed and dropped her shoulders. "I don't know. I had this vision and it was, like, calling me into the forest." Here she had to take a pause, biting her quivering lip to hold off more tears from leaking out. "My mom thinks I'm at the mall in the next county with some of my Sightless friends."
No one said anything more. I knew Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, and I shared the same thought: How could Aphrodite have been so careless and gullible? We were in a time of war, but here she was, falling into dangerous traps and running around on her own without a walkie-talkie, thus breaking pretty much all of our emergency protocols. I wished I could say that I felt more sympathy for her, but I really didn't.
Sighing, the five of us stepped out from under the trees and walked through the meadow, the only break in the dense trees for miles. When we reached the other side, Apollo carefully reached into a large hollow in one of the pine trees, pulling out the first-aid kit as Aphrodite plopped down in the long grass. Apollo then retrieved some old hand wipes from the red bag and handed them to the pale love goddess so she could wipe the smudged dirt and a few drops of golden blood off her face. After all, she couldn't exactly show or tell her parents what she had been doing in the forbidden forest.
Meanwhile, Poseidon and Zeus had stepped off to the side and were talking in low voices, probably discussing what to do next. Zeus pulled his black walkie-talkie off his belt loop and I guessed that he was radioing all of the other gods to inform them of what had just happened. I knew that Hermes, the messenger god, would then run and tell everyone else who still needed to hear the details, specifically the various groups of nymphs and satyrs in the forest.
With another sigh, I watched Apollo get up slowly and start to head toward Zeus and Poseidon. I was just thinking about joining the guys when Aphrodite whispered to me shakily, "How do you do this?"
I glanced at her in confusion. "Do what?"
"This. Fighting monsters, being a goddess ... everything. I'm terrible at this and I just can't take it. I can't even believe I fell for Hades's stupid vision trick," she whimpered, shaking her blonde head, on the verge of tears again. "I should've known."
I shook my head quickly, knowing that if Aphrodite started to think so negatively, she would give up on saving the world right there, and we needed all the help we could get. Mental health was just as important as physical health.
"No, you're great at being a goddess. Do you know how many couples you've set up at school? Like, everyone. I'm not even kidding," I assured her, taking her cold and clammy hands in mine.
"Oh, come on, how is love going to help save the world?" Aphrodite complained, looking up at me with sorrowful, watery eyes.
I rolled my own eyes, slightly annoyed. All right, I had to admit that love wasn't the handiest or most useful weapon, but it was a kind of weapon nonetheless.
"Maybe love isn't as important or as useful as fighting monsters, but it is so much more powerful. You know that. Love causes people to do unthinkable things in the spur of a moment, for better or for worse, but most of all, it gives people hope. And hope is sometimes the only thing that keeps people going," I told her seriously, thinking in the back of my mind about what Alec had said and desperately hoping that Aphrodite would listen to what I was trying to say. Love was her specialty, after all.
Aphrodite's eyes started to light up, regaining their familiar shine, and I knew that I had reached her. "Alec told you he loves you, didn't he?" she accused me, a knowing smile stretching across her face.
Okay, so maybe I hadn't reached her as well as I thought.
Because Alec's feelings were so not the point of my whole love speech. I frowned instantly. Besides, Aphrodite could dream all she wanted, but Alec and I were never going to be together. In our hectic world, there was absolutely no way. The virgin goddess of wisdom and war with a hero? Nope. How many times had I said this before? Did I forget to mention that love was also one of the biggest distractions ever? And the very last thing I needed at the moment was a distraction from doing my job, no matter how Alec and I might have felt about each other. For as long as she wanted, Aphrodite could keep telling me I was in denial, but I vowed never to budge.
"I knew it!" she exclaimed loudly. When out of curiosity Zeus, Poseidon, and Apollo glanced back at us, I quickly shushed her. But upon seeing my dark expression, Aphrodite questioned, "Do you know what your fatal flaw is? Because I do."
I shot her an annoyed glare with my stone-cold gray eyes and protested, "Of course I do. I'm the freaking goddess of wisdom and —"
"Well, then let me remind you." Aphrodite smirked somewhat evilly as she interrupted me and I groaned, thinking that I really did not need a lecture right then, especially not one from her. I stood up to join the rest of the Monster Watch, but she wrapped her fingers around my wrist and dug her long fingernails into my skin, preventing me from leaving her side.
"Let go, Aphrodite."
"Oh, please. You know that your infinite wisdom and skill won't fix everything, yet you pretend like they will and you throw yourself into this Greek life, into being a goddess, just because something comes up that you don't want to deal with. Like the fact that Alec is totally and completely in love with you." She finished without even taking a breath and then sighed, looking at me like I was pathetic.
Ouch. She hit that one right on the nail. I was starting to regret coming over to cheer her up.
But, apparently, Aphrodite wasn't finished yet, because she also added, "You know it's true. You didn't have to come all the way back from the Knowing base camp in Kentucky to save me. You could have easily gone to the nearest pay phone and called Zeus to tell him the whole story. He obviously knows the forest well enough to have been able to figure out your message. But no, you had to leave Alec behind." She took a short pause, letting my guilt settle in, then continued, "Trust me, I know it's sometimes easier to deal with guys when they're on the other side of the country, the world, or even the Underworld, but that doesn't mean it's the best way to deal with them."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Forest Gods' Fight"
Copyright © 2016 ALEXANDRIA HOOK.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
THE FOREST GODS,
Part One: THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM,
Chapter 1: MONSTERS AND A MOVIE,
Chapter 2: THIS WAR HAS ALREADY STARTED,
Chapter 3: THE ABSOLUTE WORST TIMES TO CALL,
Chapter 4: DISTRACTIONS,
Chapter 5: THE ORACLE AND I EXPLAIN,
Chapter 6: THE CENTAURS,
Chapter 7: HE KNOWS,
Chapter 8: FIRE AWAY,
Part Two: WHEN THE STORM WORSENS,
Chapter 9: FOR OLYMPUS,
Chapter 10: A BIT OF DUMB LUCK,
Chapter 11: A WAR OF WORDS â&8364;¦ AND OTHER STUFF,
Chapter 12: A PHILOSOPHICAL PARTY,
Chapter 13: CONCLUSIONS,