Home  |  Reviews  |  Vlogs  |  Interviews  |  Guest Posts  |  Fairy Tales  |  Jane Austen  |  Memes  |  Policies

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Ye Gods!: short story & Giveaway from Riana Everly!

Joining us today is Riana Everly, whose answers you'll be seeing throughout this year's Janeite Roundtable conversations (so make sure to check those out!); Riana has written us a story, and is also giving a couple of you lovely AIA readers a chance to win one of her books! Click through to read the story in full and to enter the giveaway! Take it away, Riana!

I’m so pleased to be part of this year’s Austen in August fun. What a lovely way to enjoy this lazy month of summer (for those of us in the northern hemisphere, anyway). It’s always a good time for Jane Austen! Recently my daughter has been fascinated by the ancient Greek gods and their rather strange and sordid goings-on, and this sparked an idea: What if they were around in Regency England? And so a plot bunny hopped through my head. This is the result. I hope you enjoy it. 

Ye Gods! 

The Park at Rosings, Kent, April, 1811 

The lonely shape of a young woman slid through the trees, her white day dress a gentle contrast to the deepening green leaves around her. Her hair was hidden beneath a large bonnet, but her figure was light and pleasing to the eye. From his cloud-formed throne in that space hovering between the world of the gods and the world of man, Zeus blinked. He had been dozing, for how long he could not say. Ten years? Twenty, perhaps? He must consult a calendar. Fashions had changed while he was napping. Gone were the ridiculous wide skirts and architectural hair styles of… whenever it was that he was last awake. This new style that the woman wore was simple, more a sheath of fabric than a tent, gathered lightly under her bust – her rather lovely bust, he must admit – and flowing down to her feet with no discernable puffery beneath. It was not unlike the garments women wore back in his day, when he was the king of the gods, venerated throughout the world. Ah, those good old days. Still, the sight of her brought back a flood of memories, almost all good, and some rather, er, exciting. 

How long had it been since he last ravished a damsel? There had been Europa, Danae, Io… And then, of course, those charming women from the millennia since, whose names he could scarcely remember. But it had been a while, long before those French people decided to lop off their king’s head back when skirts hid more. His blood began to warm at the thought. He moved a bit more into the world of men to better see her face. 

She stopped in her tracks; she must have sensed something as he approached, although he knew she could not see him. She blinked, sending thick dark lashes over her sparkling eyes to flutter over pale peach-flushed cheeks. Ah yes, she was a pretty one, and ripe for the plucking. How ought he to approach her? He was not above taking what he wished, but a willing partner was preferable, and there was definitely pleasure in the chase. A wild boar? No. That would frighten her off. A swan? No, he had done that before. One of those solider-looking men he noticed in some sort of camp several miles off? Yes, he could see them clearly, despite the distance; there were great advantages to being a god. The red of their uniforms was attractive, like the plumage of some splendid bird, hoping to attract a mate. That might do very well! 

But then he noticed the book in her hand. Ovid. Ovid? That Roman upstart? Surely not! But if she was reading Ovid, she then clearly knew about him, the great Zeus, and approved. Else why would she read about his exploits? Perhaps he would appear as himself! 

No sooner was this idea formed than it was realized, and the god stood there in the woods, in all his Olympian glory. 

“Madam.” He stepped forward and bowed. He had seen someone doing this at the soliders’ camp. This language, English, was not difficult for his godly powers to adopt. 

She gasped and stepped back. 

“Do not be afraid. I am Zeus, of whom you read. The very one, come to admire your great beauty, if you will grant me the pleasure.” She stood perfectly still, those bright eyes wide with disbelief and… fright? Trepidation? Anticipation? His blood warmed even more. “To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?” 

The young woman dipped. Yes, a curtsey, a gesture of supplication. Some things had not changed. “Miss Elizabeth Bennet.” Her voice was uncertain and her brow was furrowed. “I beg your pardon, sir, but who are you, really? That is quite an alarming costume.” 

“It is I, Zeus, in mortal flesh, Miss Bennet.” 

“That cannot be, for the Greek gods are but myth and story. Are you an actor?” 

He laughed. The sound ricocheted off the clouds and thunder rumbled through the clear blue sky. “An actor? No, indeed, but the ruler of the sky, king of the gods, master of Olympus. May I demonstrate?” He extended a hand and a lightning bolt formed just above it, hovering in the air until he grasped it and hurled it at a nearby tree. The tree exploded as if hit by one of Bonaparte’s cannonballs and then burst into flames. The woman screamed and Zeus doused the conflagration with a flick of his wrist. Such watery tricks he usually left to his brother Poseidon, but he was not above calling on them when necessary. “Do you require more evidence?” 

Now she appeared quite alarmed. “What do you want with me? I have read of you, sir, and the accounts are not always suitable for ladies’ eyes. Please, I shall depart and leave you to… whatever it is that gods do out of their time and country.” 

“Indeed not, lady. I like you, and I always get what I like. But first, perhaps, we can court. Will a quarter hour be sufficient?” 

She screamed again. These modern women were most inconvenient. As he swept towards her to grab her arm, another shape crashed through the trees. This was a man, whose garments were nothing like those from his own halcyon days in Ancient Greece. No tunic, no robes, but a close-cut coat over a high-buttoned waistcoat, and some rather snug trousers below, tucked into high boots. He might be worth a glance as well at another time. But not now, for he was in some sort of high dudgeon. 

“Unhand the lady!” the interloper yelled as he lunged forwards. 

“Mr. Darcy!” The young woman was, to Zeus’ ears, as much distressed by the newcomer’s presence as relieved by it. 

 “I said, sir, unhand the lady. Elizabeth, are you well?” 

“I saw her first.” Zeus was not at all happy with this turn of events. There is nothing so annoying as to have a light morning’s pleasurable ravishment interrupted some hero on a white horse… or whatever it was that people in this era rode to carry out their good deeds. 

But the man – Mr. Darcy, if the lady was correct – would not step back. He threw himself forward and wrested Zeus’ hand from Miss Bennet’s arm, then pulled his own arm back as if to strike out with a fist. Oh Olympus! This man seemed to know what he was about. Yes, pugilism was an esteemed sport in this era, was it not? Alas. Zeus hoped not to have to do this, but circumstances made dire measures necessary. “Leave us, mortal, or I shall render you a mushroom, or some vile sort of toad that lives under the moss.” 

“Mr. Darcy!” the lady cried out again, “I believe it is so. I saw him form lightening and cause a tree to burst into flame!” She turned to where the stump still steamed with residual smoke. 

“Yes. I heard the explosion. That, and your scream, were what brought me here.” He swung at Zeus’ face, but the god deflected the blow with ease. 

“Fool!” he growled. “I mastered your little tricks before your ancestors emerged from their mud huts. I am the great Zeus. You can never best me. Now leave me and the lady. Begone! Or would you rather be a newt? Or a new species of tree moss?” 

 “I shall gladly become moss if it allows me to rescue Miss Bennet from your vile hands. God or no, I shall fight for her safety.” 

“Then toe fungus it shall be! Prepare yourself, mortal man!” Zeus brought his hands together and a glowing ball of green plasma appeared between them. He was about to send the magic to engulf this annoying creature when another voice rang through the trees. 

 “That is enough, Zeus. Stop it right now. Put your hands down.” 

Hera. Damn her to Hades! He rolled his eyes and the ball of green enchantment faded to nothing. 

“Can you not leave me to my diversions, my lady?” He glowered at his wife. “You have managed quite well without me these last two thousand years. Why bother about my amusements now?” 

“It is not you I care about, my lord Zeus, but this poor woman you seek to despoil. Yes, it has indeed been two thousand years, and times are changing. It is about time that women started standing up for each other. I care little about what you do, but I will no longer sit by as you destroy one mortal life after another with your little whims. And yes, I did say ‘little.’” 

“Great Olympus, Hera! This is not fair.” 

“No it is not fair. You have an unimaginable advantage over these humans. It is your responsibility not to abuse it. Now go home. I am looking after Cerberus for our brother Hades for a while, for Persephone is having the carpets in the Elysian Fields redone, and he needs someone to walk him. That, dear husband, is your job. Throw some lightning bolts for the dog to chase. Go. Then, while I am out, I need the marble columns buffed and the lamps in the amphitheatre replaced. Burning slaves do not provide nearly the same clean light as this new gas lighting I’ve seen around. Off you go. I shall be along presently to see how you are managing.” 

If looks could kill, Zeus’ glare would have slain his wife on the spot. His looks, to be quite honest, could indeed kill, but Hera was a goddess and immortal, and thus was immune to his wrath. His libido was now quite doused anyway, as limp and soggy as the smouldering tree stump. Hera strode towards him with a determined glint in her eye. She really was still a beautiful woman, and that chiton she wore was rather more to his tastes than even this slim modern fashion. Very well. He huffed aloud. Perhaps if he behaved himself she might return his affections at some time. He allowed her to take his hand. 

“Fare you well, mortals,” she turned to the two humans for a moment of leave-taking. “And be ever on your guard.” Then in a wink, she pulled Zeus back into the between world, where they could travel back to their ancient home. And to Cerberus, who might need a walk. 


“Oh Mr. Darcy!” Elizabeth shuddered as the air about them shimmered and then went still. “Can that have been true? Was it some strange imagination?” 

“No, indeed, for I saw it too. And that tree smolders still.” She was shaking, and he stepped towards her and pulled her into an embrace. He seemed to need the comfort as much as she did. This was quite improper, but then there are few lines in Fordyce about how best to react after having been accosted by an Ancient Greek god. She allowed his arm to wrap about her shoulders and settled into his chest. She disliked the man, but he felt… nice. 

“Would you really have allowed him to turn you into a toad? To rescue me?” 

“In no uncertain terms, Miss Bennet. I would have done anything to save you.” 

“But surely that is what any gentleman would do, and for any woman.” 

“I fear I must disagree, as much as it pains me to contradict a lady. I would strive to protect anybody, but I would not commit myself to eternity as a tree frog for my cousin Anne, or—heaven forbid—for Miss Bingley. But for you, Elizabeth, I would gladly suffer any fate the gods design for me. For your sake, being toe fungus would be an honour.” 

She turned to look up at him. That look on his face, the one she had always assumed was derision or contempt, seemed different now. Was it… approval? Affection, even? 

“Do you mean to say you do not dislike me?” 

“Dislike? By no means. As far from it as possible. Oh dash it, Elizabeth! I had hoped to present myself better before making a declaration, but I cannot hold back. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” He spoke warmly, the words tumbling from his lips in a flood, so unlike his habit of precise enunciation and terse verbiage. 

“You like me?” 

“I love you. I cannot say for how long, but when your visit to Mrs. Collins coincided so perfectly with my own obligations to my Aunt Catherine, I felt it was fate. Will you do me the honour of allowing me to court you?” 

He gazed down at her, deep brown eyes suddenly vulnerable in his stern and handsome face. Had she misread him all this time? A courtship was just that; how could it hurt to learn to know him better? He had, after all, been willing to become lichen for her. 

“I am pleased to accept, sir.” A smile worked its way to her face without her realisation. 

“Then, if you will, allow me to walk you back to the parsonage.” He offered his elbow, which she took. The feel of his strong forearm beneath the fine cloth of his coat tickled something in her that she could not name, but rather liked. 

As they walked off into the wood and away from the burned tree, Elizabeth thought she heard the gentle sound of a satisfied chuckle from the foliage. She looked back to see what had made the noise, and the regal form of Hera, Queen of Olympus, shimmered into view. The goddess smiled, nodded her wreathed head, and winked out of sight once more. Hera, Queen of Olympus, and goddess of marriage! It seemed there might be more than a courtship at hand. 


About the author: Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master's degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back. Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading! Riana's second novel, The Assistant, was awarded the Jane Austen Award by Jane Austen Readers' Awards, and her debut novel, Teaching Eliza, was listed on a list of 2017 Favourite Books on the blog Savvy Verse & Wit. For both of these honours, she is delighted and very proud! You can follow Riana's blog at https://rianaeverly.com/blog/, and join her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RianaEverly/) and Twitter (@RianaEverly). She loves meeting readers! 

To celebrate Austen in August, Riana has offered up an ebook of choice from her catalogue of Austen retellings, to two (2) lucky readers! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below. Full terms can be found within Rafflecopter; PLEASE do not leave an email addresses or sensitive info in the comments — but do make sure to leave Riana some love!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Jane Austen, Austen in August, blog event, Jane Austen fan fiction, JAFF, The Book Rat, BookRatMisty
Click here to return to the master list of Austen in August posts!


  1. Absolutely loved this little story! It had me laughing out loud in a couple of places. Neatly written.

    1. Thanks! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. It was so much fun to write.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks! I think Hera needs a starring role in some new myths. :-D

  3. Thank you so much Riana and Misty for a delightful story. Loved the ending!!! Thank you for this give-away too.

    1. Thanks! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Good luck in the raffle.

  4. Loved the story! Too funny! Thanks for posting it, and thanks for the great giveaway as well!

    1. Tee hee! I'm thrilled that you liked it. Good luck!

  5. Fun story, I’m glad that Hera has taken Zeus in hand. And I love Darcy the Hero.

    1. It's time Hera stood up for herself and women everywhere. ;-) Thanks!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. This was very amusing. Only Elizabeth Bennet could have Zeus and Darcy fighting over her.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Yes, that's our Lizzy. Definitely handsome enough to tempt more than just mere mortals! LOL

  10. I like your use of words in your stories. I will be following you on amazon and goodreads now. :)


Tell me all your thoughts.
Let's be best friends.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...