By The D23 Team
What is the measure of a true hero? In the Disney animated film Hercules, the titular character strives to discover just that, ultimately achieving true hero status but turning away his chance to live as a god on Mt. Olympus so he can be with the woman he loves. But what if he had accepted the offer to become a full Greek god? In Go the Distance: A Twisted Tale, author Jen Calonita explores what would happen to Megara when Hercules ascends to Mt. Olympus and she can’t join him. Hera offers a solution: Meg has to rescue her ex’s current wife from the Underworld. You know, the ex-boyfriend who she saved by giving up her soul? The ex-boyfriend who then moved on to a new girl while Meg was trapped in the Underworld? Yeah, that’s a challenge only a true hero can face. Discover how Meg takes on this quest in an exclusive excerpt below. Go the Distance: A Twisted Tale is available for preorder now and hits shelves on April 6.
Go the Distance: A Twisted Tale [excerpt]
By Jen Calonita
“I have purpose and drive,” Meg said grudgingly, folding her arms across her chest.
“Do you?” Athena asked almost mockingly. “Is that why you played my flute so beautifully when given the chance? We both know you know how to play.”
“You do?” Phil questioned. “It kind of sounded like you didn’t. No offense.”
Meg’s cheeks colored slightly. “I don’t play anymore.”
“Not because you can’t, but because you have lost your will,” Athena pointed out. “Therein lies the problem.”
“Why don’t you play anymore?” Phil asked.
Meg brushed him off. “That’s not important.”
Athena’s eyes flashed. “On the contrary, it’s very important. You are going to war, Megara. And in war, one must have the will to fight for what they want or they will fall in
battle as swiftly as a sword cuts through the air.”
Meg stifled a sigh, careful not to offend the god in front of her. What do I want? she asked herself. I care for Hercules, but we’ve just started to get to know each other. How do I know I want to be with him forever? And how do I actually know I’d even make a decent god? That’s a pretty big commitment, too. When have those ever worked out for me?
“Good!” Athena nodded appraisingly. “Finally, we are getting somewhere. Without questioning where you’ve been, you’ll never understand where you must go.”
Meg tried not to look too shocked. So Athena could hear her thoughts. She supposed it made sense. She had prayed to the gods for answers before. One just happened to be standing in front of her now.
“Wait, did I miss something?” Phil asked.
Both women ignored him.
“But how do I know what I want without having the time to figure it out?” Meg questioned.
“War waits for no one,” Athena said. “You have a deadline. To find answers, you must look to both the past and future for guidance.”
Meg still wasn’t sure she understood. How was someone supposed to understand something like love? How would she know what she wanted out of Hercules, out of herself ?
How could she be a god like Athena when she did not know the answer to those questions?
“Yes, like that!” Athena said, again seeming to hear her thoughts. “The more questions the better! I want to see fire in your belly, Megara. I know you have it, or you would not
have been able to beat that Empusa.” The god studied Meg. “Perhaps Hera was right to put her faith in you. If you do as I say, you’ll do well on the journey ahead.”
Meg inhaled sharply. The next part of her quest! “What do I have to do?”
Phil, Pegasus, and Meg looked at Athena. Her dress blew softly in the light breeze and she seemed to consider the question. Finally, she spoke. “You must go to the Underworld
to retrieve a lost soul.”
Meg felt as if the earth beneath her feet had dropped out from under her. Her mouth went dry. “The Underworld?”
This had to be a cruel joke. Hera couldn’t expect her to travel to the land of death and be able to return a third time.
“But we just got her back from there!” Phil sputtered.
Exactly! Meg wanted to cry, but she was too afraid to speak.
“Quests are not for the faint of heart,” Athena said simply.
Hades did not just let souls come or go. Charon, the ferryman, only shuttled the dead, and even if one could get past him, there was Hades’s three-headed dog, Cerberus, at the entrance to the Underworld to keep mortals out. This was an impossible task. Meg rubbed the bandages on her arm and tried not to let her fear show. “Do you know whose soul I’m looking for? The Underworld, unfortunately, is a rather large place.”
Athena staked the tip of her sword in the dirt and squared her shoulders. “Her name is Katerina. I believe she captured the heart of someone you once loved.”
Meg felt the world start to spin. “Katerina?” She reached out for Peg. Her knees felt like they might buckle.
“Katerina?” Phil repeated. “Who is Katerina?”
Meg wasn’t sure she could answer that question without opening up an entire new can of worms. “He left me for Katerina.”
Phil scratched his right horn. “Hercules?”
“No!” Meg felt herself grow impatient. Her chest felt like it was constricting, and it was suddenly hard to breathe.
“Who is Aegeus?” Phil asked, but Meg couldn’t speak.
Athena had to do it for her. “He’s the one Megara gave up her soul for.”