|Fantasy Science Fiction posted February 11, 2024
|...20 21 -22- 23...
Echo learns more about Concorde Valley.
A chapter in the book Return To Concorde Valley
Bath of the gods
Years after a fire took her parents lives and devastated her home, Echo worked at a small town newspaper. She was rescued from danger by her old friend, Theo, who took her to a new life in his world.
End of Last Chapter:
Echo sat with her mouth agape as a full scale food war broke out. She watched and wondered what to do. She had grown up as an only child and had no experience with such behaviors. It didn't take long before she figured it out, though. Helen, a child she has just met, nailed her on her shoulder with a bread stick.
Echo laughed and counter-attacked with part of her antipasto salad, then ducked as Phoebus, reigning god of horses, threw a meatball at her from the spaghetti dumped in his lap. She hesitated just a moment before throwing it back. He grinned and the melee went on.
Echo wasn't sure how long the foodfight continued, but she had fun, they had fun, and then it just stopped. As though on signal, they arose and cleaned the mess. Once they were finished, they returned to their seats and ate what food was left in dishes.
A deep smile welled up inside Echo's heart and spread onto her face. She guessed she knew the answer to what immortals do with their time when time is no longer a factor.
At the bottom, and on either side of the arch, was crafted rocks and shells like you might see in a primordial sea; living fossils.
Echo followed the carving upwards as deep sea fish, with huge sightless eyes swam about, trying to attract other fish into their open mouths.
Still higher up, more familiar fish came into view. These were at the level Echo could touch. She felt fish with crusty scales, long whiskered fish with sharp fins, large mouthed fish, and some that looked more dog than fish.
At the crest of the arch loomed a mighty being etched into a patchwork of blended woods. One thick arm thrust a metal trident skyward, the tips of which glistened in the natural light of the hallway. The symbol of his authority dripped silver droplets into the raging waters below.
The other arm reached down, palm pointed outward, grasping the remnants of the helm of a ship. A colossal head full of white, billowy curls flowed around a potent face. A bare, muscular chest, denoting power, ended at his narrow waist.
Where Echo had expected a green, scaly tail, she was surprised to see evidence of hips and legs deftly disguised by waters below. Compelling, handsome, stalwart... he was the epitome of the Greek god he represented.
Only glistening green eyes seemed soft and compassionate. Now, where had she seen those eyes before?
"Your grandfather, I presume?" Echo said. She looked at Theo, who still bore the signs of an epic food fight on his face and clothes.
Theo glanced down as though lost in thought. He subconsciously brushed crumbs off his shirt and trousers. When he looked up, she saw him as never before. His face was set in a living guise of the man in the carving above them.
He slowly removed his shirt, revealing rippling muscles she had only imagined before. Surging from his body was a wave of energy that took her breath away. From it, she felt both radiant warmth and a brutal force intense enough to froth water into a raging sea.
Without answering her question, Anthos, Grandson of Poseidon, aptly nicknamed, Theo, swept her into his arms and carried her through the archway.
"Welcome to the bath of the gods," he said.
Echo tore her eyes from Theo's transformed face and beheld a pool of churning water spread out like a small lake before her. In one swift move, he tossed her into its welcoming embrace, then joined her with a noiseless dive. When he emerged a few feet away, he was the normal Theo she had come to know. The only evidence of the god-like being she had seen, was a remnant of fire in his eyes.
Behind their brother, the rest of the children splashed in. Giggling and playing, the family removed evidence of the food fight they had left behind. Only the parents retired to another area.
Just as abruptly as the food fight had ended, the swimming party was over, too. Echo wondered what secret family signal these people had that let them know when one event ended and another began.
After emerging from the pool, Diantha took Echo aside and led her to a changing room to take a shower and put on fresh clothes.
When she had finished, Echo joined the queen on a bench overlooking the pool.
Echo nodded and sat with her. For a moment, neither woman spoke. Finally, Echo was driven by enough curiosity to break the silence.
"Queen Diantha," she began.
Diantha gave her warm smile. "Yes, I lived in a rural community near the southeast border of Tennessee and Georgia."
"What brought you here?"
"Actually, my horse," Diantha said. "I was riding with a friend when a man tried to kidnap me, which is a long story for another day, but my horse, Champion, ran off with me on her back and brought me here."
Echo's eyes widened in surprise. "Now, that must have been a very long ride."
"Oh it was, and I was so sore I could hardly walk for days."
"I know that feeling." Echo sighed.
"I'll bet you do, but there was a deeper reason she brought me here, or I never would have stayed. It had to do with a prophecy they had here in the valley."
"The same one that involves me?"
"No, this one preceded you, and because of it, I ended up becoming a key figure in a war against evil."
"And why am I here?"
"As I'm sure you've figured out by now," Diantha said, "You're expected to figure that out on your own."
"Just like my horse name?"
It was Diantha's turn to look surprised. "Yes, although I didn't know Theo had told you about that yet."
"We talked briefly, but I don't know much."
"It's a name you came to this world with," Diantha said, "and you spend most of your early childhood trying to figure it out. The discovery process helps to build and define your character."
"But I don't have a childhood to do it in," Echo said.
"Neither did I, but when you really need to know, it will come to you."
"Champion, just like my horse's. It's supposed to be a rare and important name. It's why Phoebus said I came to the valley."
"This is all so confusing, but it's fun," Echo said.
"It can be fun, but it can also feel overwhelming. Just hang in there, and know there's a reason you're here."
Echo looked down at her hands, then nodded. "Actually, I wish Anthos had brought me here when he found me as a child. I was so lonely growing up. My grandparents did the best they could, but just couldn't replace what I'd lost."
"I don't understand it all, either," Diantha said, "but I do know that for some reason, the time wasn't right. There was something in your world you still had to learn, or events you needed to be a part of. Maybe it was us who weren't ready yet. Whatever the reasons are, you're here now and that's all that's important. Besides, and you can take my word on this, there will be times when you'll wish you'd never heard of Concorde Valley."
Echo laughed softly. "That might very well be, but I don't think I'll ever feel that way about Theo. He's been so much a part of my life, albeit a secret part, I can't imagine life without him."
"I felt the same way about Phoebus and he was a Centaur at the time. Imagine how confused I was."
"Wow, that would be a hard one. Did you really fall in love with him while he was still part horse?"
"Oh, I fell hard," Diantha said, "and I was torn between my sensible nature and a heart that cried out for the man I loved."
"Did you know he was immortal when you met him?"
"Not at first, but I found out after a short time."
"Did it bother you?"
"Of course it did, just like it's bothering you right now. When you've spent your entire life as a mortal, it's hard to think in longer terms. It's like standing on top of a mountain and looking into the valley floor below."
"Sort of disorienting, right?" Echo asked.
"Very much so," Diantha agreed. "You'll get used to the idea if you don't spend too much time trying to process it. Just let it seep in."
"Thank you," Echo said, "I'll try."
"Good, let's go out on the veranda, Phoebus wants to speak with you and Theo."
"Is there something wrong?" Echo asked. Apprehension, set at bay by the meal and swim, flooded back in a dizzying rush.
"Nothing he didn't know before lunch, but it may alter our plans so Phoebus wants to discuss it with us."
She reached out and squeezed Echo's hand. "My dear, what was once legend must become your reality. Just do what I do every day. Take a deep breath, put on your best face, and charge on out there."
"Which would be a lot easier if I could wear makeup."
"It's the one thing I miss most about our old world," Diantha said laughing, "and something I'm working on introducing to this one. Maybe we can start a campaign together, you and I."
"Maybe so, and what about electricity?"
"I've given up even trying to talk Phoebus into that one. He says electricity is a tool of Zeus, and he wants to keep the king of the gods out of his realm."
"You think so, but I'm serious; he's adamant about it."
Echo joined the queen in a laugh. Only people who had grown up in the world outside Concorde Valley could truly relate.
"Are you ready?" Diantha asked.
Echo cut her eyes over apprehensively, but nodded. "Ready as I'm going to get."
Diantha nodded approval, then linked arms with the younger woman. She led her down a spirilling staircase that emptied onto a veranda where the men sat sipping lemonade. They stood up until the women were seated. Echo thought it great that chivalry wasn't dead in Concorde Valley, even if modern amenities were.
Book Summary so far:
Young Echo Jones is overlooked by First Responders as she hides in a wheat field during a house fire. Both parents killed in the fire, she escapes into an ancient forest behind her home. Alone and afraid, she meets up with a young boy, Anthos, nicknamed Theo, from mysterious origins that tends to her while searching for help.
20 years later, Echo is working for a newspaper called the Taylorville Sun. Among other duties, she investigates a serial killer who has now struck in her small town, and covers the opening of a new mega-store, Super Handyman.
After gathering all she needs on the store opening, she meets up with Bessie, an elderly columnist from the Sun who has an inside scoop on the death of the woman killed in their town. Bessie tells what she knows about the night of the murder, and sends Echo off to go back to work.
Echo arrives at the Newspaper, where the Christmas party has already begun. Before going in, she finds an envelop addressed to her. In it are pictures of the dead woman and Echo. The newest member of the police department, Tony Bradley, shows up to take her statement. He is, immediately, suspected of being the serial killer Echo is investigating.
At the end of the party, a parade of her friends set out to follow her home and keep her safe. After a series of unfortunate events, she ends up fleeing across ice and snow to trees she hopes to keep her safe. She's confronted by Specters who try and take her hostage. Theo, her childhood acquaintance, shows up to save the day.
After a battle outside Echo's apartment complex, Echo and Theo have fled through the trees toward his homeland, Concorde Valley, an undisclosed place near or within the Great Forests of Southern United States.
Theo takes Echo into Concorde Valley where she is tended to by Phoebus, Theo's father of many roles. He patches her up and sends her with Theo to meet the family.
There, she is taken on a walk through a magnificent flower garden Phoebus planted long ago and tends. Afterward, she joins part of the family for a luncheon.
The luncheon turns into a food fight, which Echo enjoys, but thinks is a bit odd for a royal family.
Echo Jones: Young girl left stranded by a fire that took her home and parents in the first part of the book, then as an adult, she's an investigative reporter for a small town newspaper.
Theo: Named Anthos by his parents. Protagonist of the book, and Echo's love interest..
Specters/men in dark clothing: Minions of the Enemy. Have eyes that turn red when they're angry. Can appear as normal humans, serve the Enemy.
Kitty Sunshine, aka Sunny: Echo's Russian Blue cat
Theo, A nickname for Anthos: An 8-year-old, of mysterious origins, who finds young Echo in the forest and tends to her needs. We see him later as a grown man who rescues Echo once again.
Georgios: One of Phoebus' Captains. Theo's half brother
Phoebus: King of Concorde Valley, Theo's father
Diantha: Queen of Concorde Valley, Theo's mother
Poseidon: god of the Sea, Theo's grandfather
Rebecca: Theo's 25-year-old sister. She's married to Henry and has a baby Caitlyn
Henry: Rebecca's husband.
Adam: Theo's 21-year-old brother
Phillip: Theo's 17-year-old brother
Helen: Theo's 10-year-old sister
Hannah: Theo's 7-year-old sister who loves animals and can talk to them in their own language.
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