Fantasy Fiction posted May 27, 2024 Chapters:  ...34 35 -36- 37... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Echo and Hades' showdown over a kiss.

A chapter in the book Return To Concorde Valley

The Immortal Kiss

by davisr (Rhonda)

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

Years after a fire took her parents' lives, Echo worked at a small town newspaper. She was rescued by her old friend, Theo, who took her to live in his world. A world full of its own danger.
End of Last Chapter:
"Now we come to the best part of the night." Hades turned to Echo and reached for her hand.
"Please, my dear, would you stand and greet my loyal associates?"

Echo resisted the urge to roll her eyes and puke on the table, a feat that would have been hard to achieve considering she hadn't eaten anything all afternoon. Using her best acting abilities, and leaning on her new found perseverance, she stood with feigned enthusiasm. 

"Thank you, my dear," he said, beginning an embarrassing round of applause, "and now for the moment we've been waiting for all night, I shall let you, my faithful friends, become a part of a momentous event. You shall watch as I make the radiant Echo an immortal like myself."
New Chapter Begins:
"What?" Echo's mouth dropped open. This game had just taken a nasty turn. "If you kiss me, you jerk, I'll break your kneecap."

"My dear, there's no need to be so shy," Hades said. He grasped her arm and pressed her against his chest.

Echo tried reasoning next. "Hades, stop and think. Do you really want to make a scene in front of your nice friends?"

"Haha! If they were nice, they wouldn't be working for me."

"Point taken, but your plan has no chance to work. It has to be love's first kiss to turn me immortal, and I promise I don't love you. I don't think you really love me, either."

"I won't debate the romantic angle, because the rule only applies to lesser Immortals, like your boy toy Theo, not for one of the three head gods. So, it doesn't matter how we feel about each other for my power to work. As a matter of fact, it doesn't even have to transfer with a kiss."

"Good, then let's just shake hands."

"That's not nearly as fun," Hades countered. His handsome eyes sparkled with a light of their own.

Echo fought the temptation to fall for his allure. He was so tremendously handsome, and she could feel the strong muscles of his arms wrapped around her. Giving in appeared much more pleasant than fighting him all of a sudden. What would it hurt to let him kiss her and then take her place by his side as queen? She'd had worse offers.

Then, she remembered Phillip's warning about Hades' hypnotic voice. Is that what the crafty jerk was trying to do, mesmerize her? How dare he. With a tremendous effort, she fought back.

She closed her eyes and let her thoughts seek out memories of the one she really did love. In her mind's eye, she watched as young Theo sat with her in the clearing after her parents' death. She felt the touch of his hand on her cheek, the smell of the flowers he put in her hair.

She remembered the warmth of his sweater around her in the December woods of Georgia, and of the fierce look in his eyes when defending her from Specters. She let his comfort and kindness wash over her like a wave.

What did Hades have to compare to the comfort of his embrace, and to the glow of his emerald eyes... emeralds!

Echo reached a hand through Hades' arms and grabbed the emerald necklace. She tore it from her neck and threw it as far from her as she could. Whatever power he had put in the necklace wouldn't affect her anymore.

Hades reared a hand back to strike her, then stopped. A shadow came across his face, and he pressed his mouth against her ear. "There will be a war very soon," he whispered, "and many people will die, especially in Concorde Valley. I don't want you to be one of those people."

"I'd rather die in battle, than spend forever with you," Echo said. She tried to work an elbow in between them to get a little distance.

"Theo could have prevented all of this by having married you and made you an immortal on his own. Close your eyes and lean against me. I promise to get it over with as quickly as possible, okay?"

"No, I don't think I'll let you do that," a voice cried out from inside the room. "Hades, let her go."

Hades and Echo both turned their heads.

"Adam, is that you?" Hades asked. "Has the wolf sent a cub in his place? Where's your big brother, dancing boy?"

"He's busy elsewhere," Adam answered.

The crowd roared with laughter and pointed at Adam making gestures to indicate they thought him rather puny.

"Echo, my dear, it seems we've overestimated your worth to the young prince. I'd sort of hoped he would come and fight, but I'll take you uncontested, too."

"Let her go," Adam insisted.
Echo smiled at Theo's younger, slighter-built doppelganger. Adam, the least aggressive of the siblings, had come through!

With a dismissive wave of his hand, Hades pulled Echo back into the embrace. He nuzzled her neck.

"The necklace was just a gift," he said. "It held no special powers. I'll get you another."

Sunny, who seemed to come out of nowhere, leapt onto the table and sauntered over to the couple. He glared and hissed at Hades' face.

"Who are you?" Hades freed a hand to swat at Sunny.

"That's my cat," Echo explained. "Mortal enemy of anyone who bothers me."

Hades laughed and swatted at Sunny again. The nimble cat scooted out of the way, but remained close enough to strike if needed.

"I've come for Echo," Adam repeated.

"In your brother's place. How useful you've finally become. What did he promise you for doing his work, a place in his cabinet when he's king and you're not? Go on back to your dance hall, boy, I have no quarrel with you. I'll tell you what, I'll make you one of the Olympian Twelve when I complete my takeover. You can even have my post after I leave it."

"First of all, Uncle, there's nothing wrong with being a dancer. It's great physical training and allows me to express a non-violent side of my nature, something you should look into. Secondly, I don't want your job."

"No one ever does," Hades said. He looked at his followers with a tragic smile, then laughed. Wisely, they all laughed with him.

He turned his attention back to Adam. "What do you want then, nephew?"



"Because she isn't yours, Hades. She's free to make her own choices, and from her body language, I really don't think she chooses you."

"That's a fair assumption," Hades said, "but I seldom concern myself with other peoples' choices. It's very tiresome. If you stand there for a few more minutes, you can watch me do what your lazy brother didn't, and make her a goddess."

Hades pulled Echo close again, and she could feel his lips brush her ear. She trembled at his touch, mostly from revulsion, but a little from pleasure.

"That's it," he cooed, "give in and let's make this a delightful moment."

"Hades, I said give her to me," Adam said. He nimbly vaulted across the table, landing directly behind Hades' back. In the same instant, he pulled out a long knife, like the one Phillip had used, and held it to his uncle's throat.

Sunny jumped at his face, leaving a long bloody scratch across his cheek.

"Don't be stupid, Adam," Hades said, wiping blood off his face and trying to kick at Sunny.

"You lack the strength or power to kill me, and I don't want to hurt you. You aren't a warrior like the others."

"I'm not a sissy, either," Adam said. "I've received training from my father and Georgios, just like Theo."

"I'll make you a deal, then, tough guy," Hades said, "and only because I like you, and have already been stabbed by your little brother today."

"What kind of deal?"

"You take the knife away from my throat and I'll send Echo home with you."

"Just like that?" Adam asked. "What's the catch?"

"You'll have to let me give her a kiss first."

"No. It's not your job to make her immortal, or to get your germs all over her."

"Adam, the war will come and she will die with the others in the valley unless we ensure it won't happen. I'm doing everyone a favor, especially her."

"I can't speak for my brother's motives," Adam said, "but I'm guessing that part of it has to do with not having much alone time with her, thanks to you."

"He traveled many miles with her through the trees, boy. I didn't interfere with them during that time, though I was aware of where they were. He had his chance and didn't take it. Now it's my turn."

Suddenly, he thrust himself backwards and pinned Adam to the wall behind. The knife that had been at his throat fell harmlessly to the floor.

"Let me go." Adam gasped for air, turning and twisting like an animal caught in a trap.

Hades pushed harder. "Nope."

While Echo was distracted, he grabbed her by the face and pressed his lips against her mouth. She shuddered at his touch and tried to cry out. She watched as Sunny jumped over and began biting Hades' arm like a dog.

There was no blending of revulsion and pleasure now. It was all pure disgust. When he let her head go, he looked triumphantly in her eyes. Immediately, she felt a stinging sensation emerge in her mouth. It swept around her head, then traveled in waves throughout her body. She began to tremble uncontrollably and Hades had to support her to keep her from falling.

"Welcome to our world," he whispered in her ear as she fought to stand on her own. She hated to have to lean on Hades for support, or to let him hold her helplessly in his strong arms, but she had no choice. "I have now made you immortal, and you are subject to my will."

"Let go of me," she insisted, pushing against his chest. "No matter what you did, my will is my own, even if it's all I have left."

"Adam, come get Echo," Hades said. He stepped forward and let his nephew slip out. "I made you a deal, and I always keep my bargains. You can take her home. But just remember Echo, when I call, you'll have to come."

Adam lifted Echo into his arms. Her head was still dizzy and reeling from whatever power Hades had filled her with, and she couldn't support her own weight.

Adam carried her out of the room, Sunny trotting behind at his heels and hissing wildly. His gray body was arched in a bow. Several rabbits, who had managed to slip past pursuers, joined the flight out.

"Are you okay?" Adam asked.

Echo drooped heavily in his arms. "I don't know. l feel sick. But please put me down. You can't carry me all the way out."

Adam shifted her weight to hold her more securely. "You aren't in any condition to walk, and we have to get out of these tunnels before my uncle changes his mind."

In spite of her words, Echo snuggled closer. She knew she couldn't walk. "Do you really think he'd do that?"

"Who knows? He's an egomaniac."

"But he said he keeps his bargains."

Echo felt rather than saw Adam's shrug. "Haven't you ever heard never to make deals with the devil?"

"Well, yeah, but he's not really the devil is he?"

"Close enough. Over time, he's become just like him."

"Just the same, I feel bad about you having to carry me." The arms she'd had draped around his neck, fell to her side. She couldn't hold them up any longer.

"If anyone should feel bad, it's me," Adam said. "I let you down."

"How do you figure that?" Echo asked. "You got me out of that horrible room and away from your uncle."

"But he kissed you and turned you into an Immortal," Adam said. His voice broke as he fought back tears. "It was my job to stop that from happening."
"It was your job to rescue me, which you did. I'm grateful to you. If you hadn't shown up, he would have locked me back up in that room and let me deal with all this alone. Oh, and thanks to you, too, Sunny. Good shot at the big guy's face."

Adam allowed himself a chuckle, "and good job biting his arm. I don't think I've ever actually seen a cat do that before."

Echo returned his chuckle. "He's a superhero, and so are you."

The rest of the way out, they were silent. Adam, because he had to conserve his strength, and Echo, because she was fading. The dizziness that had started with the kiss was now consuming her body and draining it of strength. If this is what it felt like to become immortal, she wasn't sure why a person would want it.

As the pair struggled out of the cave, the scream of an animal rent the air. Beyond exhaustion, Adam fell to his knees, his burden carefully placed on the ground in front of him. He was too tired to figure out what animal was calling or what it said. They both closed their eyes and succumbed to fatigue.
There was a rustling of grass and the sound of a horse nickering. A man stepped off and touched first Adam, then Echo.

"I've got you, Little Sparrow," a voice said. Strong arms lifted her like a child and held her against a leather clad chest. She opened one heavy eyelid and squeezed out a smile.

"Twice you've carried me from danger," Echo managed to say. She leaned her head against Georgios and shut her eyes once more.


Book of the Month contest entry


Image of Hades and Echo from IZEA.

*Quote from Rick Warren, author and evangelist.
"Life is like a game of poker; you have to play the hand you're dealt. A wise player can play a weak hand and win the game."

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: One of the twin sons. He lulls people to sleep
Nyx: Female personification of the night. Mother to many primordial beings, feared even by Zeus.
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