Fantasy Fiction posted June 23, 2024 Chapters:  ...37 38 -39- 40... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Theo and Hermes complete the first part of the journey.

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, 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:
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."
Beginning of New Chapter:  
Theo gripped his sides while the remnants of smoke swirled around his cramping body. The stench of death filled his nostrils as he felt his body dying around his ageless soul.

He wanted to cry out like a small child calling to his mother in the night. He opened his mouth, but all he could manage was a tortured groan.

Spasm after spasm wracked his body, until the onslaught began to subside. Exhausted, he glanced around for Hermes.

On the ground beside him, the messenger god writhed in pain. Gone were his beautiful white wings and in their place, grotesque stumps. Theo watched as his second cousin took a deep breath, braced his knuckles against the stony ground and rose to his knees in obvious agony. After a brief pause to catch his breath, he stood firmly on his feet.

Theo couldn't help but admire the fortitude of a god most people took for a fool, yet accepted as a mighty warrior. He was a living paradox, and, at the moment, his greatest ally.

"Come on, boy, get up." Hermes pulled Theo to his feet, and pointed to the darkening sky. "We've got to get the horses down the bluff before the storm hits."

Theo didn't feel like rescuing anyone. He was disoriented and in pain, but the king inside the boy fought for the upperhand. Finally, he met Hermes' eyes as the internal battle was decided . He managed a smile he didn't really feel and said, "You look like crap."

Hermes simply nodded. "This is the part about being a soldier they don't teach you in training. Mount up, buttercup."  He 
thumped Theo affectionally on the chest, then swung onto his borrowed sable horse, Recovery. The massive steed shook his long black mane and stamped. Who was this man on his back? He didn't look like the one who had ridden him earlier.

Calming the horse with a word, Hermes stared across the valley at the castle on the other side of the divide. The formidable structure sent a chill down his spine. The last time he'd seen the building, he'd been working on it with Hercules... one of many held captive on Mount Olympus.
"There it is, my boy, the house of the Brothers Nyx and their illusive, but beautiful mother."

"Whose name is Nyx...?"


"And you've seen her?"

Hermes raised an eyebrow. "Everyone gets messages. And, in answer to your next question, yes, she's beautiful, but even I wouldn't mess with her."

"Understandable." Theo mounted Nifty, who was not at all happy with his master smelling of death. "Steady boy." Theo patted his crimson neck and stroked his ears. "It's just me and I'll need your strength today."

Soothed by the sound of the familiar voice, the great steed stood quiet and ready.

For a moment, neither man spoke. They rested astride their horses and gazed across the valley, seeing danger and adventure in a way they never had before.

Theo drew in air, tasting its life-giving flavor, then, with his knees and words, urged Nifty toward the embankment that led to their collective destiny.

Step by sure step, the horses picked their way down a fairly innocuous slope. The winter breeze, mild in the way Greek winters tend to be, was refreshing. The sun graced them with warmth and helped ease the discomfort of mortality.

The cloud in the distance forewarning the storm, was still far enough away as not to garner undo alarm. Theo breathed in life and exhaled anxiety. 

Hermes glanced at Theo and flashed him a quick smile. "I see you've relaxed."

Theo grinned back. "It's not as bad as I had imagined."

"Mortality or this cliff?"


"Hmmm." Hermes nodded. This time his expression was more sobering. "Don't let your guard down, pal. The hosts of this adventure are crafty and unforgiving."

"Yeah, but as long as we're brave, they'll be on our side."

"The twins aren't on anybody's side but their own. They're only entertaining our request because they want something and because they're enjoying the game."

Theo nodded and the green of his eyes took on the look of his grandfather Poseidon's. How proud his father and grandfather would be in this moment if they could see him, and how he prayed they would all live to discuss it.

At the foot of the great slope, the horses and their riders were able to rest. The first third of the journey was over with nothing to have braved but minor slips and skids. Theo's zealous roan stallion pawed the ground to announce his arrival unharmed.The giant black concurred with a cry of victory.
Across the valley, a very alive and relieved Adam waved encouragement with fettered hands.

"Hang tight, we'll be right there," Theo cried out. He glanced at Hermes for confirmation, but in his cousin's eyes, he saw horror. "What is it?"

Hermes pointed overhead at two circling birds.

Theo shrugged. "They're just buzzards. Adam's still alive and wiggling around. He can fend off two carrion birds."

"Those aren't vultures, they're the Stymphalian Birds," Hermes clarified. "They're man eaters with talons of razor and beaks of solid bronze."

"Never heard of them."


Hermes slapped Recovery on the rump and kicked him in the ribs. Unused to such treatment, the horse leapt forward with the might of one of Zeus' own chariot steeds. Nifty, the only Immortal left in the lot, joined him as one beast.

The Stymphalian Birds saw they were discovered and lunged toward Adam. Sunlight reflected off metallic feathers, accenting saber-like talons. Their beaks snapped like the jaws of a crane.

The sky darkened and the land with it. Lightning tore across the sky in rabid anger. The determined men raced across the open plain with legendary birds swooping down, and the promised storm roaring in like a firey dragon.
Adam was barely visible in the swirling tempest, but Theo could still see the white of his Concordian shirt. He bore down on him with all Nifty had to give. The warrior horse was a streak of red in the gathering darkness, and Recovery, concealed by the darkness, was close on his heels.
They were almost to the swelling river when hail joined the deluge of rain. Although only about the size of grapes, the little chunks of ice burned where they were driven into the skin by powerful winds. Leaves and branches flew through the air in a rotating pattern, hitting everything in their path. 
A scream from Adam and an illuminating flash of lightning brought the attention of the warriors to where a Stymphalian Bird had landed and was snapping and clawing at Theo's younger brother. 
"Nifty, fly," Theo cried in the horse's ear.  He drew his sword as the great beast responded with a magnificent burst of speed. A mighty leap followed, which landed them beside Adam and the bird of prey. Nifty flew into a frenzy as he lashed out with hoof and teeth at the offending bird.
Theo dropped to the ground and began to hack at the bird with a practiced sword. Seconds later, the other bird landed, its feral cry piercing the violent storm.
Without thinking, Hermes stood on the back of his horse and leapt into the air as though he could still fly. Of course, he couldn't, but still landed like a cat on his feet. His feet! He looked down and saw the glow of quicksilver. So, he thought, the twins didn't realize he was the fastest god in Olympia for more than one reason. It wasn't just about the wings. Hermes was back in business. He had speed, agility, and a very powerful sword.


Shout out to Debi Pick-Marquette for the image of the rearing stallion

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.

Stymphalian Birds: Monstrous creatures from Greek mythology, often depicted as large, carnivorous birds with metallic feathers and razor-sharp beaks and talons. (Quora)
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