Fantasy Fiction posted April 10, 2024 Chapters:  ...29 30 -31- 32... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Echo confronts Hades under Mount Concorde

A chapter in the book Return To Concorde Valley


by davisr (Rhonda)

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

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 post:
"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."

New Chapter:

Phillip cupped his hands over his mouth and issued a battle cry understood by humans and animals alike. With a great burst of righteous indignation, the rabbits flew out of the tunnel and charged into the crowd fueling fear and confusion. Echo was certain she saw rats and mice join in, living things that could no more endure his presence than she could.

Even Sunny was present in the fray, screaming, scratching and biting at the enemy. Echo was shocked at her pet's transformation. She guessed Concorde Valley had given him, like it had her, a deeper sense of purpose than that which they had upon arrival.

In the semi-darkness of the cave, the army of Hades stumbled around tripping over each other in an attempt to get away from the unseen menace tearing at their feet and legs.

Meanwhile, Phillip and Echo slipped along the side of the cave until they made their way to the back of the stage. There they found Hannah nestled in a hollow of the stony outcropping. Neptune arrived ahead of them and was found pawing at her arm.

Philip brushed the concerned animal aside as he lifted his sister into his arms. Without stopping to try and wake her, he crept into the shadows, clutching her to his breast. Echo followed on his heels.

"Is she okay?" she asked.

Phillip shrugged his shoulders. "Not entirely, but she's moving."

Echo touched the child's dangling arm. 
"She's hot, Phillip."

"I know. They'll figure out how to help her back in the valley. Let's get out of here."
He called for the rabbits and Sunny to follow. As a unified group, they raced down the main tunnel. Before they got far, a thunder voice stopped them.

"Not so fast, you fools."

Echo felt a palpable power pulling her back. Her steps grew slower and more labored. She fought to break free, but soon found she could barely move her legs.

In her periphery, she watched Phillip ease to a stop.
"Get out of here," she shouted.

Phillip shook his head. "I told you I won't leave you behind."

"You have to," she pleaded. "Please get Hannah out of here. I can't break free."

Phillip hesitated, then decided to do what Echo asked. He had begun to feel the power of his uncle pulling at him, too. He would get Hannah to safety, then come back for his brother's girlfriend. Like she said, Hades wasn't going to kill her.

Before they took off, Hannah stirred. Her diminutive blue eyes flew open, and in a hoarse voice, blurted out, "Echo, your Horse Name is Perseverance. It will help you."

She made eye contact with Echo before relaxing back into whatever trance she'd been in.

Phillip's eyebrows raised, but he said nothing. There was no time. He headed away, his precious burden clasped tightly to his chest.

Echo didn't know what prompted Hannah to disregard the rules of her culture to reveal the horse name, or even how she knew it, but was glad to finally have one mystery solved. She would have to think on it later as there were more pressing issues competing for her attention. 

A commanding bellow broke through the sounds of combat and hung in the air with a power of its own.

Echo, suddenly freed from restraint, turned and glared defiantly at the dark god. If she was forced to face him, she would do so under her own terms.

Once again, she was struck by Hades' physical appearance. Even with the front of his leather tunic stained with black blood, he was a striking figure. Tall and muscular, with deep irresistible eyes, he presented a mesmerizing visage in the glowing torchlight. Dark wavy hair fell to his shoulders, adding to his singular charm.

Echo hesitated as she took him in. He was, afterall, a celebrity, but, as she was used to interviewing famous people, she recovered her composure almost at once. She decided to choose something disarming to say to take him off guard. She pointed to the wound on his chest.
"I didn't do that," she said.

Taken aback by the incongruity of her statement, he gave an indulgent chuckle. "No, I didn't think you did. I doubt if you could hit me with the side of a sword at point blank range. This is the work of my ridiculous young nephew. Painful, but ineffective."

Echo shrugged. The fact was obvious, but she was still trying to buy time for her friends to escape. Conversation, the greatest stall tactic she knew, was her forte.

"Look, I'm sorry all this happened." She motioned with one hand around the enclosure. "I'm sure you were having a moving discussion with your employees, but you had to have known that what you did to Hannah was not okay."
Hades crossed his arms across his expansive chest, effectively covering the mark the knife had made. Vulnerability wasn't the image he wanted to project. He focused his eyes on the object of his affection.
Echo averted her face so she wouldn't be tempted to make eye contact, per Phillip's warning.
"Look, Hades, I'm just an outsider who got mixed up in a family squabble. If you let me go, I'll take a message to the others, then y'all can straighten out your differences without involving strangers and innocent children."

Hades raised his eyebrows, his eyes betraying amusement. "Miss Echo Jones from Taylorville, you're presence here is certainly no accident, and I have no intention of letting you go. It took too much effort to get you here to begin with. You're right about one thing, though, I never planned to hurt little Hannah. She served her purpose, which was getting you here."
"You drugged her, Hades, and that's not good for a growing child, Immortal or otherwise."
"She'll be fine. They have plenty of good doctors in Concorde Valley."
"The best of which you're holding hostage on Mount Olympus."
"Phoebus?" Hades guffawed. "It's not my fault he decided to show up and get involved. He should've stayed where he belonged, besides, there are others who can heal what ails the child."
"Which is?"
"The Breath of Aidoneus."
"One of my many names."
"Okay, so what's so important about your breath?"
"It's a bit paralyzing when I intend it to be. A tool in my line of work."
Echo folded her arms across her chest in mimicry of Hades. "I'll bet. So, are you going to use it to make me stay?"
"Not if I don't have to. For now, I'll treat you as a guest. Besides, I have a nasty knife wound you're partly responsible for. You can help me treat it."

"I would love to do that," Echo said, "but I'm not much of a nurse. I can't even bandage my own injuries properly, and I practically faint at the sight of blood."

"That's a pretty tired phrase, Echo. I know you can do better than that. I've read your work." Hades' indulgent grin was turning into a smirk. "Besides, You don't really strike me as the delicate type."
"That's fair, but I still don't want to treat your wound."
Hades laughed a disarming laugh that might have been enticing under different circumstances.
"It's not that big a deal, Echo. I have plenty of others who can do it, besides, I need you to start preparing for our wedding."

"Excuse me?" It was Echo's turn to be surprised.

"Our wedding," Hades repeated. "I've waited years for this event to be fulfilled. If you had just gone with my messengers, we could already be married and have skipped this whole charade."

"You mean the Specters?" Echo asked. "Pretty poor messengers, if you ask me. They tried to kill me."

"No, they didn't. They only meant to scare you."

"They said they were offended by my newspaper stories and were going to kill me to teach the world a lesson."

"Merely theatrics, darling. If you hadn't attacked them first, they would've explained everything nicely, and brought you here like I asked. Since it didn't go that way, I had to set up another strategy to induce you to come to me. I really am sorry to have frightened sweet little Hannah, but you're a slippery one."
"Only when I'm being stalked by psychopaths."
Hades swept his hand dismissively. "All that's behind us now. We're free to continue with the wedding you were destined for."

Echo let out a most unattractive snort. "I'm not marrying you. In case you haven't heard, I'm Theo's girlfriend."

It was Hades' turn to sneer. "Theo is small stuff, a mere half-breed with little to no power. It's your destiny to become the wife of one of the Olympian Twelve, or didn't they share that news with you?"

"No-o-o," Echo drew out the word as she sought to regain composure. Hades had hit a vulnerable spot and knew it. She was determined to not let him take her down that rabbit hole. As with his eyes, Echo knew Hades' words were dangerous to entertain.

Realizing her tactic, Hades drew nearer and touched her arm. "Of course they didn't tell you. They always keep so many secrets."
"I know enough."
"You know what?"
"I know I'm not interested in you."

Hades ignored her remark. "You're destined to become an immortal, my darling, and to sit on Mount Olympus beside your husband. That was the Prophesy given at your birth. Of course, Theo doesn't know about it, the simpleton, but Phoebus does and so does your little friend, Hermes. How's that for keeping secrets?"
"I'm sure if they had thought it important to tell me, they would have. They want me to figure things out on my own."
"I would say you just did. With my help, that is, and because I care enough about you to not make your destiny a guessing game."
Echo turned her back. She was not going to get drawn in. She was the one trying to buy time by talking. Hades moved in closer and put his hand on her shoulder. She could feel the energy running down her spine. He leaned in and whispered in her ear.
"He hasn't kissed you yet, has he? He can't. It's my job to make you immortal. When I'm king of the gods, you'll be my queen."

"Is that written as well?" Echo asked, careful not to believe anything Hades said that hadn't been substantiated by Theo's family.

"Not specifically, but it does say one of the 12, and to be honest, I'm the only one available."

"That's not what I've heard. You're married to what's her name, Persephone? I'm sure she wouldn't appreciate me stealing her man, or her place on the throne."

"Not true," Hades countered. "I only see her for six months of the year, and between you and me, it's pretty awkward. She hates my guts."

"No way!" Echo said. "I can't imagine why."

"I'm glad you feel that way," Hades said, "because Persephone promised me, just this morning, she wouldn't fight our marriage. In fact, she said something about being so happy I had found someone else that she would dance at our wedding."

"Too kind," Echo said. "So what are you going to do, put me in some sort of trance and force me to marry you against my will?"

"No, Echo, you'll marry me willingly."

"I don't see how you figure that. If anything, I feel worse about you than Persephone."

"That may be true for now, but your views will change, especially when it gets to the bargaining stage with your boyfriend. We don't have to get married tonight. I may be an impatient man, but for such a wonderful prize, I can wait until the right time. Besides, I don't care whether or not you hate me. I'm rather used to it by now."

"Theo might not give me up as easily as you hope."

"Oh, that's what I'm counting on. There's nothing like irrational emotions to weaken a man. I do hate to put you in the middle this way, my dear, but I need your help. You'll thank me for it later."

"I have a distinct feeling I won't."

Hades smiled wickedly. "That's okay, too. Now, if you'll come with me, I need to get this wound sewn up since you don't seem to want to help me with it."

"I hope you bleed to death," Echo popped back nastily.

"Yes, that would work in your favor, wouldn't it?"

"It would be a nice start. So, if you do die, where does your soul go? The underworld with all the poor unfortunates you guard, or would it just disappear like vapor?"

Hades' face grew even darker. A cold shiver enveloped his body. "That would be up to Thanatos."

"Who's that?"

Hades' face showed horror beyond horror for just a fraction of a second. A fraction lasting long enough to give Echo an idea that there was someone even the gods feared. 
"He's my boss," Hades said. "The twin  brother to Hypnos."
"Sleep and Death," Echo repeated. "I've heard of them."

Book of the Month contest entry


Artwork created by IZEA.

Thanks for the question by Robert about what happens to Hades or the Specters if they die.

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.


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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