Villain, 73

It’s Not Unusual for Mothers and Sons to Have Few Things in Common

Ao3 Link

Sam scowled, the sensation of his leg un-breaking making all his muscles twitch. “Is that supposed to surprise me?” he demanded. “Force me to have an epiphany and reconsider my behaviour towards a liar and their stupid house? Fuck you. My mother died when I was a baby.”

“No she didn’t,” said Hadrina, taking her hand away from Sam. “She abandoned you.”

Sam grabbed her wrist as it retreated. It was thin, bony. “And why would she choose now to kidnap me?”

“To save your life, you mean. You bit off far more than you could chew, trying to fight that demon. You’d have died had I not intervened.”

“I didn’t ask for your help,” Sam growled, squeezing harder. This bitch may have taken away his new power, but he wasn’t afraid of her.

She jerked her wrist away, breaking his hold. “Did you not just hear me? You may not have asked for it, but you needed it, and it’s hardly my fault you’re an emotionally stunted ball of insecurity who doesn’t know how to swallow his pride and ask for help when he’s bleeding to death.”

Sam tried to summon that magic again, but couldn’t, so instead he kicked at Hadrina. His floating litter stopped doing its singular job and Sam crashed to the floor. “Ow, fuck you.”

“Yes, you’ve mentioned your incestuous fantasies,” Hadrina said, voice moving away from him. “Aren’t you going to ask why I abandoned you?”

“Why the fuck should I care?” Sam asked, standing up, kicking rocks away. His leg was perfectly fine now. “I don’t know you. Even if you’re telling the truth, I don’t fucking care what your motivations were for something you did years ago.” Even if Hadrina genuinely was his mother, there was only one reason to abandon someone. “If you’re in the mood to grandiosely reveal information, how about you tell me where we are and how I can get back to my castle instead?”

“We’re in your hold,” Hadrina said. Sam took some tentative steps, found a stone wall. “Which, by the way, is hideous and practically uninhabitable.”

“I might care if I knew what you were talking about,” Sam said, walking along the wall slowly. He kicked a table leg, stopped walking just in time not to hit the table. There was some crap on the table, probably dishes or something.

“A hold is a manifestation of your power, something all our people can create. Yours is the worst one I’ve ever seen. I presume you got your sense for interior design from your father. He was always tasteless.”

“Our people,” Sam said, hating that he was playing this game with this person. Was any of the things on this fucking table a knife? Tables usually had knives on them.

“Yes, gods,” Hadrina said.

That made Sam pause in his hunt for something sharp. “You’re a god?”

“Yes, as are you. Half a god, anyway.”

Sam snorted, resumed his search. His hand hit something that cut him, and he smiled, picking it up. “You’re not the first mysterious asshole I’ve met who’s claimed to be one of those.”

“Ah, so you’ve met Derel. Good.”

“Who the fuck is Derel? Don’t tell me he’s my secret brother, I have one brother and that’s enough.” The last thing Sam needed was another secret relative.

“He’s an old friend of mine,” Hadrina told Sam. She was coming closer again, and set something down on the table. “Food. Eat it, you look like you’re about to pass out.”

Sam was starving, but he wasn’t eating anything this person fed him. “If you keep giving me useless non-answers, I’m leaving.”

“Good luck with that. You’ll need me to demonstrate how to open the hold.”

Now they were getting down to it. “So I’m your prisoner,” Sam said. “You expect me to sit here and call you mommy and let you wipe my chin?”

“I don’t know what delusion you’re labouring under, Samson, but I’m no more interested in taking care of you now than I was when you were an infant.” Hadrina’s voice sounded scornful, and Sam heard a chair scrape. “I expect you to learn how to use your damn powers.”

“I’ve been using my own damn powers my whole life without your help and I’m very good at it,” Sam snapped. He wished he had his damn powers. He could still feel the Forces, far off. He still wasn’t able to reach them.

“Are you? I saw that little temper tantrum you were throwing out there. A child of three could have done that and done it better.”

“Really?” Sam said. He felt better now that he had a knife in his hand. He leaned against the table. “Bring out a child of three and we’ll see which of us is better at magic, then.”

“Your posturing doesn’t impress me, Samson.”

“And yours doesn’t impress me, Hadrina,” Sam said. “You brought me here and saved my life. I don’t care how long you’ve been here, if you’re expecting gratitude then you’re going to be waiting even longer. Maybe you are my mother, but I care exactly as much about you as you do about me. Tell me what you want in exchange and we’ll either figure something out or kill each other. But stop with all these half-explanations and ominous bullshit. I’m not interested.”

Hadrina was silent for a moment. Sam leaned against the table, gripping the knife in his hand. It had a stone handle, a strange weight. And then she laughed at him, harsh, rocky. “Now you sound like someone I could be related to. There’s a chair an arm’s length to your left, sit down. And eat the fucking food, it tastes terrible but it isn’t poisoned.”

Sam weighed the pros and cons of listening to her, but reached out, found the chair. He sat in it, and pulled the plate of food into his lap, spoon clattering. “Solomon never told me anything about my mother.”

“Did you ever ask?”


“He was interesting,” Hadrina began.

“No, he wasn’t.”

“He was to me. He’d stolen the stone you have in your pants there and was planning to use it to make himself the most powerful sorcerer in the world, as if that were something to be proud of. But he was playing dangerous games with other gods already, working for Derel. People like you and I used to rule the world, Samson.”

“Just Sam.”

“I hate that name even more than I hate Samson. Your father named you that. I named you Somal.”

If she expected him to start answering to some made up name, she was crazy. “We used to rule the world,” Sam prompted.

“That’s right. A long time ago, thousands of years. And then the humans decided that they didn’t like that, picked a fight, got some help, and won.”

“Sounds like you didn’t deserve to rule the world if you couldn’t hold your rule.” It also sounded like Hadrina was leaving a lot out of that.

“We were distracted. The world had almost ended not long before and it was devastating to our people,” Hadrina didn’t sound that devastated. “There was a god named Nathen. He butchered my family when I was a young girl.”

Sam was bored, which shouldn’t have been possible in a story with families being butchered. “I don’t care.” He spooned some of the food into his mouth. It was disgusting. He wasn’t going to ask what it was.

“You should, he’s still alive. In any case, it all went downhill from Nathen, and when I tried to kill him, we almost destroyed the cosmos. Long story short, humans are opportunistic little leeches and managed to take advantage of the disarray to shatter the foundations of magic and commit genocide against our people. Your father had a plan that would allow us to come back.”

“The stones,” Sam said. This Nathen sounded like someone he could get along with. “Bringing them all together will bring back the gods’ power.”

“Very good,” Hadrina didn’t sound impressed. “You’re not completely ignorant. Did he tell you that?”

“He didn’t even tell me his favourite food,” Sam muttered. “The shadow told me that. Derel.” That had to be who Hadrina was talking about. A god controlling Solomon. “He thinks that if we bring them all together, it can bring his power back. Solomon seemed to think they could make him into a god.”

“Solomon was wrong, and so is Derel. It can’t make a human a god and it can’t bring a god back to life. But it can do other things. The stones are the key to rebuilding the Web, which was one of the ways we controlled humans.”

“How?” Sam wasn’t about to rebuild something that could control him.

“It was the source of all human magic. Its pieces still are, you just call them different things now. They’re shadows of what they used to be, and the stones could repair them. But more importantly, the Web was a symbol. And if that symbol were restored, the person who restored it would have the power to rally the remnants of our people. And that’s why your father was so interesting.”

“He was a human, though.”

“He was. Did you kill him?”

“Yes.” Sam hesitated. “No. My husband did. Is he here?”

“You were the only one I pulled through,” Hadrina said.

“What happened to him? Was he alive?”

“I don’t care.”

“Well I do,” Sam growled. “And if you killed him just to bring me here, that’s the end of our discussion.” And it would be the end of Hadrina’s life, too.

Hadrina huffed. “I didn’t look at him closely. He seemed fine; you’d finished healing him before I pulled you away. I couldn’t have brought him here if I’d wanted to, I was only able to pull you in because it’s your hold. You’d have to invite any other visitors.”

“I don’t remember fucking inviting you,” Sam said, pretending that his chest didn’t feel lighter at knowing Henry was alive. Assuming Hadrina wasn’t lying about that too.

“I’ve been living here since you were a baby. Normally it’s impossible to force your way into someone else’s hold, but you were a baby, which made it easier. I’d have used my own hold, but I wanted to keep an eye on you.”

“You hated Solomon so much you weren’t willing to live in his castle?” That was something Sam could relate to.

Hadrina made a noise. “No, though he was an ass. Derel and I had an argument, and I wanted to be away from the centipede demon.”

“You helped me banish it,” Sam said, hating to admit that. “You clearly weren’t afraid of it.”

“I never said I was. But my people don’t have the power that humans do to banish creatures like it on our own. Now that you’re finally almost a person instead of a lump of baby, you can finally help me.”

“Please,” said Sam, shifting in the hard chair. It was made from stone. “Scott was one thing, but I have no interest in helping you win some crusade. I have enough fucking problems without gods showing up and trying to tell me what to do too. If you want the stones so badly, go get them your damn self.”

“I’m not interested in the stones,” said Hadrina. “You can have them. A lifetime of birthday presents.”

“Then what the fuck do you want?” Sam demanded. He was tired of this.

“You’re right. Humans won the war a long time ago. There’s no going back to when our people ruled the world.” Hadrina paused. “But that doesn’t mean we have to stay in hiding. Our species can’t rule the world anymore, but we can. All we need to do is kill the other gods and a few others and there won’t be anyone who can stop us.”

Sam ate some more of the terrible food, set the bowl aside. “That’s it? Your grand plan is to have me help you take over the world?” So both of Sam’s parents were idiots, then.

“That’s right. If you’re done eating there’s a door about ten paces to my left. There are some stairs and a bedroom at the top.” Hadrina’s chair scraped. “Go sleep. When you wake up I’ll start teaching you how to be a god.”

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12 thoughts on “Villain, 73

  1. I’m not sure which is more irritating: Sam’s aggressive ignorance, or Hadrina’s sheer dismissive arrogance.

    Also, so much for Hadrina’s re-emergence being a good thing.


  2. I have to say, I’m with Sam here: after all that condescending talk about how Solomon and Derek were idiots who lacked vision and humans were vermin who got lucky, Hadrina’s goals and motives are profoundly disappointing. Get off your high horse, lady; you don’t get to talk down to us until you’ve earned it, and so far you only have a massive fuckup and a boring, run-of-the-mill plan for world domination to your name.


    1. Yes, Hadrina thinks pretty highly of herself considering she’s accomplished very little (except for orchestrating Thunderfall, so good job on that one) and has the most generic evil plan of any villain we’ve met so far. It’s hard not to be on Sam’s side, derision-wise, I think.



  3. Well, that’s Hadrina’s role in the story set in stone: teach Sam about his god powers, then get killed for trying to control him.

    Hadrina, upon making exactly the same mistake that she watched Solomon make, with exactly the same results:


  4. ‘“it’s hardly my fault you’re an emotionally stunted ball of insecurity who doesn’t know how to swallow his pride and ask for help when he’s bleeding to death.”’

    Actually, Hadrina, since he’s like that because he grew up with no mother and a horrible father…it kind of IS your fault.


  5. Yeah, I’m with the other commenters that any parent of Sam’s who somehow manages *less* charisma than Solomon is not long for this story.

    This is very interesting regarding what Solomon’s schemes might be, in any case! I suspected that someone might be manipulating him to get him to bring back the gods with his whole baby-making project, and that he was in it to try to line up the birthdays and get his own god-battery. But it turns out that despite some vague gestures, Hadrina’s aims are nowhere near as grand as the rejuvenation of her species.

    There is still the question of whether Solomon was aware that this son in particular was half god, since one would think he’d feed Sam to the baby disposal demon in half a second if that were the case and he hadn’t hit the birthday jackpot.

    Also, something very interesting, it’s not gods but humans who have the innate power to banish demons? That unique human sorcerer ability. (Maybe Darby shifted into a sorcerer for a minute!) So the gods really just seem good as batteries and not much else.


    1. It really did take is over 70 chapters to find someone who has less presence as a parent as Solomon, but of course she was just there, lurking.

      Yeah, Hadrina isn’t all that concerned about the revival of her species, really. So her string-pulling of Solomon seems to be oriented at something else. Course, that doesn’t mean that what she wants and what Solomon wanted were necessarily commensurate, so it’s very possible that he was still after that and thought she was helping him.

      One would think that Solomon would take advantage of his convenient baby disposal service if he hadn’t gotten the battery he wanted…but it’s also possible he thought they were useful for something else, potentially. He had quite a lot of them, after all. 😀

      That humans are the only ones with the innate ability to banish demons is definitely something very important. Given that we know nothing about Darby’s shapeshifting power aside from that he has it, it’s very possible that he shifted into a something more sorcerous for a minute there! But either way yes, it does increasingly seem like gods are all around pretty useless when they’re not hooked up to someone. Which quite possibly explains why their religion died out as people started to realize that, haha.



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