Fantasy Fiction posted April 1, 2024 Chapters:  ...28 29 -30- 31 


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Echo and Phillip find Hannah

A chapter in the book Return To Concorde Valley

The Tunnel's End

by davisr (Rhonda)


The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.



Background
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:

"I have nothing to prove," Adam said. "No one's ever expected much from me. I know it's my own fault, but I'm different now. Maybe we can consider this my godhood trial."

"That sounds like a good idea, but I don't have the authority to grant you one," Theo said. "I stand in the place of the King, not one of the 12 ruling gods."

"Which is where I come in," Hermes said. "Adam, I officially assign you the task of rescuing Hannah, Phillip and Echo. The successful completion of which will earn you the position of my apprentice on Mount Olympus."

Adam turned to Theo for approval.

"Go now with our blessing," Theo said. He nodded his head to his younger brother.

Adam nodded back. He dropped his cloak and finery, and raced off after the rabbit messenger, his thin, nimble body weaving gracefully through flowers and plants.


Beginning of New Chapter:

Echo watched the tall, ginger youth disappear around a bend in the tunnel. She drew in rapid, shallow breaths as she thought of the frantic miles spent powering through the twisting tunnels of a complex labyrinth.

Her overwhelming emotion had been one of anguish, gut wrenching, heart twisting anguish. Hannah was in the hands of evil, that much was certain. The air was as thick with it as it was darkness.

Ahead of her, Phillip's torch burned as a beacon of hope, always ahead, always drawing her to it. Behind her scampered eleven rabbits and one tall gray cat. All were bent on one purpose, rescuing Hannah.

At one point, the glow of the torch grew more distinct as the group came upon Phillip, quiet and pensive, one arm thrust out to stop them.

"We're almost to a gathering of people," he explained.

"Did you hear something?"

"No, Neptune doubled back to tell me."

"What next?"

"I think just you and I should go ahead to see what's going on."

"I think that's a good idea," Echo said, "But what if we meet up with someone? Do you have any sort of a weapon?"

"Just a knife, but I'm not sure how much good it would be against a bunch of people."
 
"It's more than I have."
 
"Well, I'll keep it put up for the moment. Best they think we don't have anything, and it's best you stay behind me. I'm from around here. I can pretend to be lost. Don't show yourself unless there's no other choice."
 
Echo softly agreed as they trudged onward.

Finally, Phillip placed his torch on the ground and pressed his body to the side of the tunnel wall. Echo responded by leaning against the wall as well. Phillip turned and put a finger to his lips. Echo nodded, her heart and breath racing as before.

Slowly, they crept around a bend and gazed into a huge cave-like opening. There were hundreds of people seated on the floor around a raised platform, listening to a speaker with rapt, almost hypnotic, attention.

The speaker was arranged in the center. He was tall and muscular, with wavy black hair and powerful brown eyes. He strode around the stage like a stalking lion.

Echo gasped, then held her breath. This man, the very one she felt would be present, had haunted her dreams the night before. He bore the same handsome features and wielded the same commanding presence. He exuded a mixture of terror and seduction.

Echo grabbed Phillip's arm. "Who's that?"

Phillip's grimace in the wavering light of the torch spoke more than his one simple word, "Hades."

"Himself?"

"I'm afraid so."

"But he's so, uh, handsome."

Phillip cocked an eye at her. "What did you expect?"

"I don't know, maybe a giant Specter with horns and a pitchfork."

"All the gods are beautiful... beautiful and deadly."

"But the others are nice."

Phillip, the youngster who aspired to be a teacher, gave her an upraised eyebrow.

"Read your history books."

Echo flashed a quick smile. "That's fair."

Phillip blinked his eyes in mute acknowledgment of her discovery, then leaned back into the shadows, pulling her with him.

"Did you see Hannah?" she asked.

"I think so. There was someone sitting in a sort of indentation in a rock behind him. Did you see, too?"

"No. I was watching Hades."

"Be careful of that. He can draw you in with his voice and eyes. Try to focus on his evil, not his appearance."

Echo nodded. "Could you tell if she was okay?"

"I'm not sure. She's sitting up, but not moving. It was just a quick glance, but she looked drugged or something."

"We've got to get to her," Echo said.

"Any ideas?" he asked.

"Ummm, don't you?"

Phillip thought for a moment while Echo looked on with jaded hope.

"We could send Neptune in," he said. "I'll ask him to sneak up and talk to her while no one's looking. If she has any wits about her, she'll answer. In the meantime, we can just wait here and listen to my dear Uncle Hades rant."

"Sounds good to me," Echo said, "but I can't understand a word he's saying."

"That's because he's speaking Greek," Phillip explained. "After I talk to Neptune, I'll translate for you."

"You speak Greek?"

Phillip chuckled. "That and several animal dialects. In Concorde Valley, you end up learning lots of languages."

Phillip knelt on the floor and chattered to the concerned mammal.

Echo peeked her head around the corner to look for Hannah. She noticed the child sitting motionless and her heart went out to her. Their plan just had to work.
 
Before she could look away, her attention was drawn, again, to the charismatic Hades. Even though she couldn't understand a word he was saying, she could feel the allure in his voice.

With sudden realization, she knew the greatest danger she faced with this Olympian god was not in direct combat, but in resisting temptation.

For just a moment, she imagined him pulling her into his strong comforting arms. She thought of his warm touch in her dream and the stroke of his hand across her flesh. She began to glow with warmth, the cold of the cave fading in his energy. She closed her eyes and let the feeling wash over her.

"Echo." She heard a soft voice calling her name. 
"Remember what I said about his voice. He'll hypnotize you like all those men out there."

"You're the one that said we should listen to him rant," Echo said.

Phillip flinched. "Yeah, I'm not so sure that's a good idea for you. In fact, if we can help it, you shouldn't have any direct contact with him at all. He's an expert at this game."

"You're right, Phillip. You know him way better than I do. So, what's he saying?"

"He's giving the guys a pep talk, saying that before the week's out, they'll attack Concorde Valley and take it by storm just like they did Mount Olympus. He says within a month, they'll take control of the whole world and there will be no one left to resist him. Then, he says, the dead will rule the world and the living will be their slaves."

"A bit of an egomaniac, wouldn't you say?"

"A bit, only I think he truly means to accomplish it. He's been planning this take-over for years."

"How do you know?"

"He just said it to the troops, plus I heard my parents talking about him before they left."

"Oh, so are those dead guys out there listening to him?"

"I don't think so, not yet anyway. He seems to be encouraging them to become that way if required."

"Like Kamikazes?"

"I don't know what those are."

"Japanese suicide pilots in World War II," Echo said. "They would ram their planes into enemy ships at the cost of their own lives."

"Sounds pretty close to what he expects out of these. He doesn't seem to care whether or not they die. They're his servants either way."

"Good point."

"What's he saying now?" Echo asked.

Hades had just finished a particularly ardent tirade.

Phillip gulped as he fought back tears. "He says they'll begin their assault with the sacrifice of a child; one who is pure in heart and strong in spirit. He says for the job they're embarking on, no ordinary one will do. Then he pointed to Hannah and said that it would require the blood of an immortal."

"I thought immortals can't die."

"Not by ordinary means, but there are a few ways we can, like by fire or by the hands of another immortal." Phillip took several jagged breaths as he fought for self-control.

"We won't let that happen," Echo said. She placed a hand on his arm. "That's why we're here."

"Echo, he says he's going to do it right now," Phillip said. "We don't have time to wait for help, or come up with a strategy, or any of those things. Like all the boys in my family, I'm trained to be a warrior, to fight other soldiers, but what can I do against this kind of horror?"

Echo grew quiet, and then spoke. "How well can you throw your knife?"

"I'm pretty good, but not accurate enough to kill Hades."

"You won't have to," Echo said. "You just need to sting him badly enough to break his spell. Leave the rest to me."

"But you aren't a soldier."

"No, but like I keep saying, that's not what's needed. Tell the other rabbits to get ready to lead Hannah off with you on my signal. I have an idea."

"You aren't planning to be one of those kamikaze people you told me about are you?"

"Maybe, but I don't think he'll kill me. He needs an immortal for his sacrifice and I'm human. If anything, he'll use me to bargain with your brother."

Phillip's voice took on the same serious tone she'd heard Theo and his father use. "Don't do it, Echo.Trading yourself for Hannah isn't going to solve anything."

"Yes it is," Echo said. "Without an immortal to sacrifice, his plans will be set back. Tell Theo not to give into any of his demands to rescue me. I'm just one person and he has to save the world. Maybe it's why I was brought to this valley to begin with."
 
"You mean the prophesy?"
 
"Yes."

"You don't know what's in it and neither do I," Phillip said, "but I don't believe dying at the hands of my uncle in this cave is a part of it. Look, I'll distract Hades, like you said, but you're to follow behind us. Do you understand? Hades won't leave this cave yet. He's bound by the agreement he made to confront Theo in one week."

"I promise to do my best. Now throw that knife."

Phillip glared a warning at her one more time, reached inside his shirt and pulled out a very threatening looking weapon. In one swift movement, he flung it with a strength and speed she was surprised to see in a 17-year-old.

They both held their breaths as the knife whistled through the air, then sank into the elder god's chest.

In surprise, Hades grasped the spot where the knife had disappeared to the hilt. Pain and shock broke the spell of his voice. The crowd began to murmur as black blood oozed out of their leader's wound and dripped onto the floor. A little more to the left and the immortal youth might have ended the whole ordeal himself.

"Good shot," Echo said. She patted Phillip on the back. "Now send out the rabbits."



Recognized


A special thanks to Sally Law for the artwork of Phillip. In the story, he has red hair, but this one was too cute to pass up.

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.
Theo receives a missive from the 12 gods, via the rascally Hermes, instructing him to free the gods being held captive on Mount Olympus and defeat the enemy Hades.

He is also, asked to find the missing god, Apollo, who had joined humanity to live as one of the mortals.

Echo begins her own mission after one of Hannah's rabbits draws her to find the missing child.

Characters:

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
Hermes: messenger god, warrior, boyish charm; Theo's 2nd cousin, one of the ruling 12.
Apollo: Hermes' elder brother, sun God, and more. One of the ruling 12. Currently on sabbatical.

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.
Mary: Rebecca's mother-in-law and a woman who is like a grandmother to the kids.

Mageia: Old Sorcerer who lives in Carack Valley. Used to work for Hades.
Thanatos: One of Nix's twin sons. He supersedes Hades as controller of death.
Hypnos: On of the twin sons. He lulls people to sleep
Nix: Female personification of the night. Mother to many primordial beings, feared even by Zeus.
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© Copyright 2024. davisr (Rhonda) All rights reserved.
davisr (Rhonda) has granted FanStory.com, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.