Fantasy Fiction posted June 3, 2024 Chapters:  ...35 36 -37- 38... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Georgios attempts to reverse the damage Hades caused to Echo

A chapter in the book Return To Concorde Valley

Georgios and Echo

by davisr (Rhonda)

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:

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 first touched 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.

New Chapter begins:

Echo was vaguely aware of being carried in the arms of Georgios. She could smell the mixed odor of armor and sweat, virile male and horse. All together, the scent was calming, if not hypnotic. She felt safe, nestled into his warmth.

The air outside had taken on a chill she hadn't noticed before in Concorde Valley. Had the absence of its monarch left it bereft of perpetual summer?

"Hang in there little sparrow," Georgios said now and then. He held her in both arms, using just horse speech and his legs to guide the tan stallion. Thus they traveled swiftly, far from the entrance to the accursed tunnels leading to Hades' makeshift realm.

She could hear Adam close-by as well. His commands to his steed in horse language were weak, but present. The horse had shown up right behind Georgios, and, Echo assumed, the source of the cry she had heard when they first emerged from the cave.
How tired Adam must be after carrying her for miles beneath the catacombs. How did he still have the strength to stay astride the bay?

Approaching a hut, both horses halted. Echo could barely open her heavy eyelids, but was able to see shadowy images and hear Georgios speaking to Adam in a brisk, authoritative tone.

"Go find Theo and Hermes in Olympia. They need to know what has happened here, but, please, advise Theo to continue his quest. I can take care of Echo, just like I did Hannah."

Adam looked at his oldest brother with a mixture of exhaustion and determination. "I'll do what you ask, Georgios, but I'm not sure what help I can be to a couple of heavyweights, and in my condition."
"You have many skills they can use. Sometimes suppleness wins out over strength. You'll find that out as your journey unfolds. As for your tiredness, you'll now find the true heart of a warrior. Everyone fights well when rested. It's those who push past exhaustion who win."
Adam gave him a dubious look. "I've sure had a lot to catch up on."
"You have," Georgios agreed. He slapped Adam on the shoulder, "and I'm proud of you, brother."

Adam turned his head so Georgios couldn't see him tear up. As far as he could remember, this was the first time he'd called him brother. The first time he'd looked at him as something besides a clown.
"I just wish I'd been able to stop Hades from turning Echo immortal and making her so ill. It was my mission, you know, from Hermes."

"Look at me," Georgios said, "and look at Echo. You succeeded. From what I understood, your mission entailed going after the kids and Echo, and bringing them back. I'm afraid it would've taken more than you to stop that kiss, a fact Theo knew before he left."

Adam's head reeled. "You've gotta be kidding me, then why did he go?"

"Because Hades was using her for bait. He wanted to engage us in battle in his territory where he had the advantage. As hard as it was, Theo had to leave her behind for others to help. Her fate was sealed as soon as she went into the catacombs, anyway."

"But she was trying to rescue Hannah."

"And she did that," Georgios said. Echo felt him give her a squeeze. He was acknowledging her sacrifice. "Hannah was also used as bait."

Adam shook his head in disgust. "What kind of person would do that?"

"One we need to stop. Now, off with you. I'll send you and the horse to Theo."

Echo felt a burst of energy emanate from Georgios' chest. But for him holding onto her, the power pulse might have swept her off to Olympia as well.

Once the energy abated, Echo tried to focus her eyes on Georgios, but everything was fuzzy. She felt him slide off his horse with her, kick a door open and head into the thatched hut. Gently he laid her on a feather mattress.

"Why did you leave the valley for me?" she muttered.


"When Theo came to rescue me from the Spectres. You were there and carried me to safety. Why?"

Georgios smoothed her hair from her fevered forehead. "Of all the questions you could ask, you'd ask that one?"

"Well, you, uh...."

"Look different?"
"Actually, not that much. I've just heard you're very private and don't like to leave the valley. You've come for me twice now."

Echo's voice fell off and her eyes fluttered shut. Georgios gently shook her shoulders.

"Stay with me, Echo. Once we get this poison out of you, I'll tell you my whole story if you'd like."

Echo's eyelids slid open. "Promise?"


Georgios stroked her face again. "Brace yourself, little sparrow." He let out a lungful of air, then leaned over and put his mouth over hers.

Slowly and methodically, he breathed in, pulling the air from her lungs as though drawing poison out of a wound. She felt panic growing as all air disappeared from her body. She felt her head spin and body cramp. She would have pushed the large man away if she could have moved at all.

She suddenly saw Hades' face in front of her, begging her to be his queen, promising her all the riches of his world and all the glories of royalty.

"Just take my hand," his voice said. "I'll give you strength to fight Georgios off."

She saw Hades reach for her. Still without oxygen, her hallucination grew more realistic. She had only to touch the handsome man's hand.

Her arm lifted from the cot.

"Perseverance... perseverance..." She remembered Hannah's sweet voice revealing her horse name.

Her hand dropped back to the mattress. In her mind, she envisioned turning her back on Hades and his proposal.

Georgios drew his head up and exhaled black smoke. He rose to his feet and staggered out the door. Echo could hear him retching on the ground outside.

As fresh air returned to her lungs, strength returned with it. She sat up on the side of the bed and looked around. The room was sparsely decorated, with just the basic necessities... a typical bachelor's abode.

On the wall over the fireplace, though, stood out a colorful painting of three Centaurs and a boy. Echo, feeling much stronger, stood up and walked over to get a closer look. She felt it was a key to the mystery that was Georgios.

Echo turned when she heard the large man return to the hut. He approached her and laid a hand on her shoulder.

"I see you're feeling better," he said.

"I am, though still pretty woozy. You don't look so hot."

Georgios blessed her with a warm chuckle. "Side effects of pulling the breath of Hades out of you, my dear. I'll be okay."

"I'm glad. Will I be?"

Georgios ran his hand across his chin and stroked his brown beard. It was a stalling tactic he used when trying to buy time in a conversation. "The quick answer would be, yes. I drew the poison out, but there's still something there, a bit of his soul you may have to deal with again later."

"I can sort of feel it, but it's not as strong as it was. Could you tell if I'm really immortal? I mean while you were in there."

Georgios got an amused look in his eyes. "One can't just detect immortality like that, sweetheart, but I can say you probably wouldn't have survived the amount of poison you had in you otherwise."

"Or the removal process," Echo added. "That was pretty intense."

"Yeah, I'm sorry about that. There's another way to do it with herbs and teas, but it takes a long time, which we don't have enough of."

"Well, thank you, again. You've rescued me three times now."

"My pleasure. I'm just glad I've always been at the right place at the right time, as the saying goes."

"About that. You told me you would explain why you left Concorde Valley for me. I'm guessing the people in this painting had something to do with it."

Georgios stroked his beard again, but this time in thought. For a private man, such as himself, it was hard to divulge deep feelings. But, a promise was a promise.

"They were my family," he said at last, "and they were immortal, but even Immortals can die, and when they do, their loss is even harder to process."

Echo nodded encouragement. She knew this was difficult for Georgios, but also felt the key to his character rested in this tale.

Georgios bowed his head. "One day, not long after that painting was made, I was with Father practicing archery outside of the valley. It was in an area we occasionally had to defend against the Karack."

"Aren't those the people Theo told me were once your enemies and are now your brothers?"

"The same. Once we were finished for the day and had returned to the valley, we saw billowing smoke rising from the direction of a gully behind our house. We raced back, but were unable to get to them in time."

Echo gasped. "That's how my parents were killed, too."

"I know. The same man set both fires. I felt so badly that I had been neglecting them, I vowed never to leave Concorde Valley.

"And yet you did leave. You came to fight for me in Taylorville."
Georgios pulled her into a warm embrace. "Yes, little sparrow, because you escaped a fire as devastating as the one that took my mother and sister's lives. In a way, helping you is helping them."

A single tear slipped through Echo's eye and rolled down her cheek. "I'm sorry for your loss."

"And, I'm sorry for yours. Let's go to Mary's house where she can nurture you back to full health. I think most of my siblings are there as well. If they can't put the fight back in you, I don't know what can."

"And you need to get back to preparing your men to fight."

"Exactly, and Echo, remember, God keeps His eyes on the sparrow."

Echo placed a hand on his grizzled arm. "And, sometimes, he sends an angel to keep watch over us."

Book of the Month contest entry


Image of Georgios from IZEA.

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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