Fantasy Fiction posted June 9, 2024 Chapters:  ...36 37 -38- 39 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Theo and Hermes find a parchment from Hypnos.

A chapter in the book Return To Concorde Valley

Twin Dilemma

by davisr (Rhonda)

Years after a fire took her parents' lives, Echo worked at a small town newspaper. She was rescued from danger by her old friend, Theo, who took her to live in his world, one full of its own danger.
End of Last Chapter:
Echo gasped. "Georgios, 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 my family, I vowed never to leave Concorde Valley again."

"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 who can."

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

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

Echo placed a hand on his grizzled arm. "And, it also says, he sends angels to keep watch over us."
Georgios chuckled. "That may be the first time I've ever been called an angel."

Beginning of New Chapter:

"Have you ever been in love, Hermes?" Theo was lying on the ground staring up at the stars. It was the third night since they had received news Hades would attack Concorde Valley in seven days. It seemed like a year, felt like not long enough.

"Oh, many times," the larger, and more famous, god replied. He was resting on his back as well, also gazing heavenward.

"I don't mean the girlfriends, or whatever you want to call them. I mean true love." Theo tossed a rock in the air and caught it inches from his nose. "You know, the kind that keeps you awake at night and makes you do crazy things. The kind that lets you patiently wait for years for someone, then leave them in danger when they need you most."
"Theo, Echo had a good idea of what she was doing when she entered the caves. She also knew you had a task to perform to save everyone. Relax. Trust your family base. There are strong warriors and gentle healers among them, and some that are both."
Theo tossed another rock, then another. "I know. But, you still didn't answer my quesiton."

"About love, please! I tend to be a pretty shallow person. You know, love 'em and leave 'em, and all that."

Theo turned over on his side and raised up on one elbow. "You'll have to do better than that, Hermes. You like to pretend lack of character, but here you are with me on the precipice of disaster, willing to face the two scariest beings in the universe, for something. What is it that motivates the roguish messenger god?"

Hermes' eyes still focused heavenward. "It's simple, Theo. I don't want Hades in control of the world. I've known him my entire, long life. He's not a pleasant guy."

"Come on, you're Hermes, the untouchable god. Everyone loves you, and no one feels threatened by you. What pony do you have in this race?"

"Boy, turn over and go to sleep. You'll need your rest."

"Not until you tell me who she is. Who is the one woman Hermes fell in love with? The one worth doing all this for? The one worth, possibly, dying for?"

Hermes tossed a few rocks upwards and caught them with practiced ease. Just as Theo thought he wasn't going to tell, he spoke up. "There was this one."

Theo resisted the urge to pump the air with his fist and declare he knew. Discretion bade him keep quiet until Hermes finished.

"I first saw her standing in the most exquisite garden. She wasn't classically beautiful, not my usual type, but she wasn't unsightly either. She had long brown hair that sort of flowed down her gown and caressed her curves."


"Well, yeah, she had curves."

"Like overweight curves?"

"A bit, and she carried them with the grace of an angel. Her face was garnished with a scattering of little delicate freckles, and her eyes danced with pure joy when she smiled. It was the joy that caught my attention. I approached her, and we developed a deep friendship."

"You're risking your immortal life for a good friend?"

Hermes hesitated again. Delivering messages and causing a bit of mischief were easy. Revealing emotions was quite another. "She was engaged to someone else."

Theo grinned in spite of himself. "Did you ever tell her you loved her?" Theo looked into Hermes' face and found it troubled. "You didn't, did you? Hermes, you're the god of love!"

"I am not. That's Eres, or Cupid as he's sometimes known. I'm just a flirt."

"Is she still alive?"

"Of course." Hermes' voice cracked, and Theo caught the meaning.

"Oh my gosh, she's mortal, isn't she? That's why you haven't gotten with her, and she's your pony in this race."

"Go to sleep." Hermes tossed one of the rocks at Theo, then turned on his side in dismissal. Theo caught the rock before it struck and let it fall harmlessly to the ground. A sudden drowsiness overcame him and he fell instantly asleep.

Moments later, it seemed, the interim king awoke to find his cousin on his feet looking at a parchment. The sun was up and about half-way to noon. Theo couldn't believe he had wasted so much of his precious time in sleep.

"What's that?" Theo asked. He rose quickly to his feet and approached Hermes.

Hermes held the brown paper for Theo to see. "I found this wedged under the rock beside my head, which is a little creepy considering I'm usually a light sleeper. I suspect Hypnos' work."

"Yeah, I suspect it, too. I never sleep this late. What does the letter say?"
"It's written in an ancient tongue, a precursor to Greek and Latin. Look at it. Can you read it?"
"Nope, not a word. Can you?"
"Of course, Theo, I speak all languages, past and present. I'll translate, but you really must learn your ancestral texts. I'll talk to your father about it."
Theo shrugged. He figured if Phoebus had thought it important to teach him, he would have done so already. This was just Hermes showing off.

"Dearest Hermes and Anthos. My brother and I know of your mission, and that, to you, it is of the utmost of importance. We respect your integrity, but you must understand Thanatos and I function under different motivations than the rest of the world. You seek to free your people, a noble endeavor, but we tend to feel all of you are flawed, so whoever is ruling is of no consequence to us.

"However, we do honor valor, and are willing to reward you if it's sincere. Bravery can only be proven if there is something more tangible at stake than power or loss of position. Hades has promised you'll all be freed and given a post in his regime if you will acknowledge his sovereignty. You may not like him, I don't particularly, but what he's proposed is fair.

"If you want our help, you will have to complete a test of bravery. Its terms are dictated by us, as are the events involved. Your part is to do your best to survive.

"These are our stipulations:
1. You will traverse the canyon beneath you, cross the river that splits it, and climb the cliff to our castle on the other side.
2. While doing so, you will have to be as any other men, or there is no true bravery involved. You will temporarily forfeit your immortality and all gifted powers, including that of flight, until you reach me and my brother at the castle.

3. Once there, each of you will grant us a gift. These are non-negotiable, and unrevealed until your mission is complete. At that point, we will return your immortality and powers, and put our abilities at your service.
"If you choose to continue, burn this letter. When the smoke clears, our castle will appear across the valley. 
"To add flavor to the project, you must rescue Adam. He entered our territory unbidden this morning and is tied to a tree on the banks of the river. I've already removed his immortality, and a formidable storm is approaching. Let virtue be your shield and heroism, your sword."

Hypnos, and by proxy, Thanatos

A cold chill ran down Theo's spine. What had he and Hermes gotten themselves into? He glanced sharply at Hermes, who shot his eyebrows upward. Hermes gripped the letter as though the wind might whip it out of his hand. With closed eyes, he dropped to his knees. Theo joined him.

"And now you know why they are so feared," Hermes said. He turned his eyes to an ashen Theo. "Shall I burn it and seal our fate?"

"Mine is already sealed, Hermes. That's my little brother down there. You're the only one with a choice."

"I don't know how it will feel to lose my immortality, or my ability to fly, but the only woman I've ever loved is in Concorde Valley with Echo."

Theo's emerald eyes grew dark. "Burn the letter, cousin."


Image of Hypnos and Thanatos, the twin brothers Nyx 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.

After being stalked by enemies intent on stopping her investigation, Theo, now a man, returns to rescue her from a demonic force. After a battle outside Echo's apartment complex, Echo and Theo 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.

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.

With the help of family members, some of Greek Mythological fame, Theo sets out to save the world.


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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