Follow the hop!
On mounting a rising ground, which brought the figure of his fellow-traveller in relief against the sky, gigantic in height, and muffled in a cloak, Ichabod was horror-struck on perceiving that he was headless!—but his horror was still more increased on observing that the head, which should have rested on his shoulders, was carried before him on the pommel of his saddle!
– The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
In the United States, we are most familiar with the Headless Horseman from Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Besides currently being the main villian of Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, he has also appeared in Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, from the movies The Headless Horseman (1922) to Sleepy Hollow (1999), and even a Snickers commercial.
What isn’t as well known is that the Headless Horseman isn’t an invention of Washington Irving. Stories about ghosts riders with missing heads heads show up in many European cultures. German legends as recorded by the Brother’s Grimm tell tales of two different horsemen. One was seen astride a gray horse by a woman gathering acorns in the forest. The second one, known as The Wild Huntsman, blows a horn that warns hunters not to ride the next day, or else meet with an accident. Ewan the Headless of Scotland, is said to appear before a death in his family. And the Irish unseelie faerie known as either Dullahan (“Dark Man”) or Gan Ceann (“without a head”) rides a black horse. Where the dullahan stops riding is where a person is about to die. If you see him on his rounds, he will mark you as next to die by throwing a bowl of blood on you or lashing your eyes with a whip made of human spine.
Some stories about headless horsemen have roots in actual events. One example is the legend of El Muerto. In the 1850s, a cattle rustler known as Vidal was killed by the Texas Rangers in a raid on his camp. The Rangers were determined to set a gruesome example to deter any would-be bandits. Vidal was beheaded and his body tied upright to a wild mustang. His head and sombrero were lashed onto the horse’s saddle. The mustang was then set free to roam the hills of south Texas. It wasn’t long before stories began to spread about the ghastly pair. Eventually the horse was captured and relieved of its burden. The corpse, riddled with bullets and arrows, was buried. That didn’t stop the sightings that still occur to this day.
There are no headless horsemen in Hunger Moon, but Victoria Storm does come close to biting Logan Koenig’s head off. To prove this, I’m giving away a paperback copy of Melissa Snark’s Hunger Moon. To enter, please leave a comment below before 11:59 PM Thursday, October 31st. I’ll choose the winner via random draw on Friday, November 1.
Hunger Moon by Melissa Snark
A Victoria Storm novel
#2 Loki’s Wolves series
Genre: Paranormal/urban fantasy
Published: April 25, 2013
Amazon ASBN: B00CJ1D1BI
Victoria Storm faces seemingly insurmountable odds to keep her dwindling pack of werewolves alive and together. She fights hunters- including the brother and father of her deceased lover-and the pack takes another devastating loss. When they seek sanctuary in a small town near Lake Tahoe, high in the secluded Sierra Nevada Mountains, Victoria discovers they are infringing on the territory of a vastly more powerful Alpha wolf. To save her pack, she uses her feminine wiles to seduce the Alpha. Nothing comes easily for Victoria. Her plans are complicated by the Alpha’s erratic son, a ghostly wife, and a vengeful witch. Not even her status as a Valkyrie or the favor of the Goddess Freya can change the course of destiny for Victoria or her packmates.
Victoria felt him before she saw him. His power washed over her with the force of an incoming tide, as dark, mysterious and unstoppable as the ocean. Her wolf rose to answer his in instinctive response, defiant and determined. She challenged his power and altered the irresistible flow so it passed around rather than over her. Before she reached the office entrance, the male werewolf responded to her presence and surged to his feet. He rounded the desk, demonstrating extraordinary grace and strength, and she braced for a physical confrontation. He dwarfed her in both height and weight.
As soon as their gazes met, they locked in a dominance contest. His narrowed eyes pierced hers; the light-pigmented brown irises were the color of honey and eclipsed the whites and round black pupils. Wolf eyes.
Victoria did not approach with her head low or avert her gaze. Instead, she challenged him outright, radiating defiance, posture stiff and erect. While they faced off, she regretted the tactical error, but it was too late to rescind. Her stubborn pride permitted no retreat, and it went against her nature to submit.
“Let’s take this outside where there are no humans to bear witness,” he said in a deep, resonant voice she found appealing.
Aroused, her wolf took an immediate interest in him as a fine, fit male animal. For the first time, Victoria noticed his physical appearance, and her wolf found him more than acceptable. She estimated his age as being in his late thirties. He in no way suffered for the smattering of silver hairs that peppered his dark head. He was a perfect specimen of a man.
Distracted, Victoria broke eye contact, but not to submit. She ran her gaze over his body with blatant approval, lingering on his broad shoulders and chest, muscular arms and legs. He wore a tailored navy suit with a light shirt and dark blue tie. From the way his clothing fit, there was not an ounce of spare fat anywhere on him.
His features possessed splendid symmetry, though a silver scar on his right cheek marred his perfection. The shape of his brow, nose, and lower face hinted at a distant Roman heritage. High cheekbones alluded to his Nordic blood. He cleared his throat, and Victoria scented both his arousal and amusement.
“Did you come to challenge me, or do you have something else in mind?”
His devilish smile hinted at a sense of humor, and Victoria seized on the opening. A ballsy gamble carried inherent risk, but her initial inept blundering had left her with no other graceful out. Her eyes rose to meet his once again.
“I am Victoria, daughter of Adair and Katherine, High Priestess of Freya, Lady Valkyrie, shaman, and healer,” she said, making her boast. “I am also the Alpha of my pack, and I am seeking a mate. I have come to assess whether you would make an acceptable suitor.”
“You’re kidding.” He registered surprise and disbelief.
Victoria arched her brow. “I am not.”
Author Bio: Melissa Snark is a paranormal and romance author with a particular interest in werewolf and Norse mythology. Her Loki’s Wolves series combines elements of both in a contemporary fantasy setting. She lives in Northern California with her husband, three children and glaring of cats.
Where to find Melissa on the Internet:
Email: melissasnark at gmail dot com