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Welcome to a 'Coueranna's Curse' Web-Serial Synopsis Page

- Top of Page Search Engine - Phantacea Publications available in print and digitally - Bottom of Page Ordering Lynx -

Phantacea Publications in Print

- The 'Launch 1980' story cycle - 'The Thrice-Cursed Godly Glories' Fantasy Trilogy - The '1000 Days' Mini-Novels - The phantacea Graphic Novels -

The 'Launch 1980' Story Cycle

The War of the Apocalyptics

Front cover of War Pox, artwork by Ian Bateson, 2009

Published in 2009; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here;

Nuclear Dragons

Nuclear Dragons front cover, artwork by Ian Bateson, 2013

Published in 2013; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here;

Helios on the Moon

Front cover for Helios on the Moon, artwork by Ricardo Sandoval, 2014

Published in 2014; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here;

The 'Launch 1980' story cycle comprises three complete, multi-character mosaic novels, "The War of the Apocalyptics", "Nuclear Dragons" and "Helios on the Moon", as well as parts of two others, "Janna Fangfingers" and "Goddess Gambit". Together they represent creator/writer Jim McPherson's long running, but now concluded, project to novelize the Phantacea comic book series.

Top of Page Search Engine - pHantaPubs in Print - Page Highlights - Upwards - Downwards - Fresh Graphics - Bottom of Page Ordering Lynx

'The Thrice-Cursed Godly Glories' Epic Fantasy

Feeling Theocidal

Front Cover for Feel Theo, artwork by Verne Andru, 2008

Published in 2008; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

The 1000 Days of Disbelief

Front cover of The Thousand Days of Disbelief, collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2010

Published as three mini-novels, 2010/11; main webpage is here; ordering lynx for individual mini-novels are here

Goddess Gambit

Front cover for Goddess Gambit by Verne Andru, 2012

Published in 2012; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

Circa the Year of Dome 2000, Anvil the Artificer, a then otherwise unnamed, highborn Lazaremist later called Tvasitar Smithmonger, dedicated the first three devic talismans, or power foci, that he forged out of molten Brainrock to the Trigregos Sisters.

The long lost, possibly even dead, simultaneous mothers of devakind hated their offspring for abandoning them on the far-off planetary Utopia of New Weir. Not surprisingly, their fearsome talismans could be used to kill Master Devas (devils).

For most of twenty-five hundred years, they belonged to the recurring deviant, Chrysaor Attis, time after time proven a devaslayer. On Thrygragon, Mithramas Day 4376 YD, he turned them over to his Great God of a half-father, Thrygragos Varuna Mithras, to use against his two brothers, Unmoving Byron and Little Star Lazareme, in hopes of usurping their adherents and claiming them as his own.

Hundreds of years later, these selfsame thrice-cursed Godly Glories helped turn the devil-worshippers of Sedon's Head against their seemingly immortal, if not necessarily undying gods. Now, five hundred years after the 1000 Days of Disbelief, they've been relocated.

The highest born, surviving devic goddesses want them for themselves; want to thereby become incarnations of the Trigregos Sisters on the Hidden Continent. An Outer Earthling, one who has literally fallen out of the sky after the launching of the Cosmic Express, gets to them first ...

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The '1000 Days' Mini-Novels

The Death's Head Hellion

- Sedonplay -

Front cover for The Death's Head Hellion, collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2010

Published in 2010; main web presence is here; Character Companion starts here; ordering lynx are here;

Contagion Collectors

- Sedon Plague -

Front cover for Contagion Collectors, collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2010

Published in 2010; main web presence is here; Character Companion starts here; ordering lynx are here;

Janna Fangfingers

- Sedon Purge -

Front cover for Janna Fangfingers, collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2011

Published in 2011; two storylines recounted side-by-side, the titular one narrated by the Legendarian in 5980, the other indirectly leading into the 'Launch 1980' story cycle; main web presence is here; Character Companion starts here; ordering lynx are here;

In the Year of the Dome 4825, Morgan Abyss, the Melusine Master of the Utopian Weirdom of Cabalarkon, seizes control of Primeval Lilith, the ageless, seemingly unkillable Demon Queen of the Night. The eldritch earthborn is the real half-mother of the invariably mortal Sed-sons but, once she has hold of her, aka Lethal Lily, Master Morgan proceeds to trap the Moloch Sedon Himself.

In the midst of the bitter, century-long expansion of the Lathakran Empire, the Hidden Headworld's three tribes of devil-gods are forced to unite in an effort to release their All-Father. Unfortunately for them, they're initially unaware Master Morg, the Death's Head Hellion herself, has also got hold of the Trigregos Talismans, devic power foci that can actually kill devils, and Sedon's thought-father Cabalarkon, the Undying Utopian she'll happily slay if they dare attack her Weirdom.

Utopians from Weir have never given up seeking to wipe devils off not just the face of the Inner Earth, but off the planet itself. Their techno and biomages, under the direction of the Weirdom of Cabalarkon's extremely long-lived High Illuminary, Quoits Tethys, have determined there is only one sure way to do that -- namely, to infect the devils' Inner Earth worshippers with fatal plagues brought in from the Outer Earth.

Come All-Death Day there are more Dead Things Walking than Living Beings Talking. Believe it or not, that's the good news.

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phantacea Graphic Novels

Forever and Forty Days

- The Genesis of Phantacea -

Front cover of Forever and Forty Days; artwork by Ian Fry and Ian Bateson, ca 1990

Published in 1990; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

The Damnation Brigade

- Phantacea Revisited 1 -

Front cover of The Damnation Brigade, artwork by Ian Bateson, retouching by Chris Chuckry 2012

Published in 2013; main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

Cataclysm Catalyst

- Phantacea Revisited 2 -

Front cover for Cataclysm Catalyst, artwork by Verne Andru, 2013

Published in 2014, main webpage is here; ordering lynx are here

Kadmon Heliopolis had one life. It ended in October 1968. The Male Entity has had many lives. In his fifth, he and his female counterpart, often known as Miracle Memory, engendered more so than created the Moloch Sedon. They believe him to be the Devil Incarnate. They've been attempting to kill him ever since. Too bad it's invariably he, Heliosophos (Helios called Sophos the Wise), who gets killed instead.

On the then still Whole Earth circa the Year 4000 BCE, one of their descendants, Xuthros Hor, the tenth patriarch of Golden Age Humanity, puts into action a thought-foolproof, albeit mass murderous, plan to succeed where the Dual Entities have always failed. He unleashes the Genesea. The Devil takes a bath.

Fifty-nine hundred and eighty years later, New Century Enterprises launches the Cosmic Express from Centauri Island. It never reaches Outer Space; not all of it anyhow. As a stunning consequence of its apparent destruction, ten extraordinary supranormals are reunited, bodies, souls and minds, after a quarter century in what they've come to consider Limbo. They name themselves the Damnation Brigade. And so it appears they are -- if perhaps not so much damned as doomed.

At least one person survives the launching of the Cosmic Express. He literally falls out of the sky -- on the Hidden Continent of Sedon's Head. An old lady saves him. Except this old lady lives in a golden pagoda, rides vultures and has a third eye. She also doesn't stay old long. He becomes her willing soldier, acquires the three Sacred Objects and goes on a rampage, against his own people, those that live.

Meanwhile, Centauri Island, the launch site of the Cosmic Express, comes under attack from Hell's Horsemen. Only it's not horses they ride. It's Atomic Firedrakes!

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'Coueranna's Curse'

Alternative pHlogo prepared by Jim McPherson, 2002

pH-Webworld

-- Story Synopses --

Heliodyssey

 

Dragon, photo by Jim McPherson probably at Versailles, 1996

Gold-Mining for PHANTACEA Factoids
| Supra somebodies in 1938 |

- Double-click to enlarge in a new window -

  1. Dragon Joe
  2. Fear Dark
  3. Apis Isle
  4. The Tholos Tomb for Pygmies
  5. Onwards, Inwards and More Innards
copyright © Jim McPherson (phantacea)
| pH-Webworld's Welcoming Page | Internal Search Engine | Main Menu | Online PHANTACEA Primer | Ongoing PHANTACEA Features | pHantaBlog | Information for ordering by credit card | Information for ordering by certified cheque or money order | Serial Synopses | Contact | pH-Webworld Miscellanea | Lynx to additional websites featuring Jim McPherson's PHANTACEA Mythos | Bottom of Page Lynx |
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11. COUERANNA'S CURSE: "Dragon Joe"

For purposes of Kore-11 let's echo Tanith von Blut and call our latest batch of SOSers the Society of Suicides. They'd be Fisherwoman, Clair du Lune, Mr Brilliant, Dervish Furie, Silverhair herself and Aegis-Agate, as the ever-whimsical Cel-Spook had decided to re-christen herself.

With Delphi, Fish's be-winged but otherwise cetaceous psychopomp, providing between-space transportation, the Suicides have made it safely to Aegean Trigon. There they quickly encounter all three of the Annulises: Medea always Ararat (not yet in Ophiomedea mode), hubby Jason (Doc Jay, Freya's surgeon) and son Apsyrtus (Laodice's Cousin Scatterbrain.)

As noted in Kore-4, though perhaps not in its synopsis, the Annulises got away from the von Alptraums' Baltic Sea estate (Castle Nightmare) at around the same time Cybele St Synne and Freya did. (The real Valfreja Volsung, as opposed to the Strife-Hulga incarnation of same, that is to say.) Since they never showed up at the Dre'Aths' North Sea hospice you may have been wondering where they went.

And if you were then chances are you missed Doc Jay's appearance in Kore-9. (I know I missed mentioning it in its synopsis.) Suffice it to say he's a good part of the reason the Male Entity recovered such that he was able to masquerade as Unholy Abaddon at Castle Nightmare so persuasively. Of course it helps when a certain Miracle Machine is both devil and demon free and, therefore, altogether your boss cow to boss bull around again after virtually the entirety of your 11th Lifetime.Dragon, photo by Jim McPherson probably at Versailles, 1996

(Might as well know, now that Kore-9 and Kore-10 are offline, it was Machine-Memory who provided the Gypsium-Brainrock that activated the contents of the Aesgardian Tantalus, the selfsame Mnemosyne Machine that withdrew said-Godstuff once her Herr Hell Helios was out-of-danger and of course the no-longer-humanized Female Entity who brought Human Memory to the von Alptraums' estate from Scotland.)

All in all it's quite the reunion we're having on Aegean Trigon. Perhaps not surprisingly, since that was where he was the last time we saw him, Young Death, Hush's Gush, is there too. As one might expect from Kore-7, he's hardly alone. Should also mention at this juncture that Tanith Silverhair has rainbow eyes again. Which begs the question: Is that really Virginia Mannering inside the Aegis Armour?

Tanith squished a persistent bug between her hands. The figure that formed as a consequence was instantly recognizable.

"Good to see you again, mom. See you got my message." Auguste Moirnoir, Young Death, smoking cigar, torn tuxedo and all, materialized out of the air; the dead bug, more precisely.

"You!” exclaimed the Horny Ghost through her latest host. “You're the one who put the arrowheads under all our pillows."

"As Sigurd Lancz, yes," admitted the Male Trickster.

"Why?"

"Because I made him do it," announced Abe Chaos, growing huge out of the ground between SOS and the Annulises.

Appropriately, given who looked like, the Olympian God of Earthquakes, among other things, the ground rumbled as he did so. His growing stopped at about seven feet but the weapon he held, a trident, grew another foot or so then went from grow to glow.

Whoever had been playing at being Poseidon on the Argo Ghost Ship had probably been playing Triton, a lesser demigod of the Mediterranean Sea. This looked the genuine article. Also looked a trifle unsteady. Stank not so much of the bottom of the sea as the bottom of a beer barrel.

Skip forward a mite. The initial speaker is Unholy Abaddon.

"Who's in the Aegis?"

"No one important," responded that someone in a man's voice.

"Jesse!" gasped Murray. "Where's Ginny?"

"Still on the Ark, gruesome. Being looked after by Will Tombstone. Which is why he didn't come along for the ride." Tombstone, Grave's Head, Kid Cemetery, was one supra who did not have to shoot straight. All he had to do was pull the trigger. His bullets went wherever he wanted them to, -- even around corners.

"I couldn't put her in danger," explained Tanith in [Celeste] Mannering's voice. "The Minoans would definitely kill her."

So why have Young Death and the onetime Unity of Chaos gone to all this trouble to get the latest group of SOSers here? This time the initial speaker is Cel-Spook, through Tanith.

"Call me what you like, Chaos ... Fact is all my plans have just gone for naught thanks to you and Young Death."

"And what plans were they, my lovely honeysuckle?"

"She was going to infiltrate Agenor Heliopolis’s cadre inside of Tanith, you numbskull," said Moirnoir, almost as if he could read minds. "She wants to get hold of the Olympian talismans and no doubt attempt to destroy them. Only trouble is the Minoan maniacs aren't here and we've no idea where they've gone."

"And you think I can help you find them?"

"Actually, mom, the only one we're really interested in is Angelo Zeross. And we're not overly interested in him, truth told," explained the Male Trickster. "It's his rings. More precisely it’s one of the devils he holds inside one of them."

"Zuvem Nergalis," provided Abaddon. "The Mithradite scum who, when he co-ruled nearby Crete alongside the Utopian Sarpedons and the human Minoans of King Minos, called himself Rhadamanthys. Back where I come from he also once ruled the Elysian Fields as the Laird of the Laughing Lands. Devils know him best as Devil Doom or Gravedigger and I owe him one of his own; a grave, a death, a final death, -- his!"

(Interruption: Abe Chaos has misidentified the Nergalid. Although Rhadamanthys and the Laird of the Laughing Lands were, and are, the same devil, Zuvem Nergalis was (no 'is' at the moment) a different devil. Being readers (and a writer) we know that but, being only a character, Chaos can't possibly know it.

Reason being no can remember Bad Rhad unless he manifests himself materially in front of you. As for where he is, and who he's in, Curse-currently, well, we might just find that out Curse-conclusively.)

"Glad you didn't say ours," remarked Brilliant.

"That can be arranged," grinned the ex-Unity.

"The bigger they are, the harder they fall," gnashed Dervish Furie, unable to stay Jervis Murray any longer.

"Really?" Abaddon clearly took that as a challenge. He began to grow. And grow. And grow. Soon he towered twenty feet above them; his Brainrock trident as thick as a tree trunk and glowing as brightly as Mr Brilliant now did as well.

"Want to play?" he boomed.

"Um," said Jason Annulis looking up.

"Double um," said his son looking even farther up ...

"What's that?" suddenly demanded Aegis-Mandam pointing into the sky high above even titanic Abaddon.

"That, Jess," cheered Cel-Tanith radiantly, "Is your father!"

Aegean Trigon is about to get a whole lot more crowded!

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12. COUERANNA'S CURSE: "Fear Dark"

Given how inter-related the St Synnes, D'Angelos, Annulises, Kinesises and Mandams (among others) are, Kore-11 featured quite the family reunion, didn't it. Kore-12 features quite the family as well.

It is isn't the Kinesises, though Megaera is a born-Kinesis. It isn't the Zerosses, though 4-fingered Meg is married to Angelo Zeross, the first Ringleader, whose family owns Aegean Trigon in 1938. Of course that's largely because the majority of its action doesn't take place there. (Truth told, none of its action takes place there.) Neither is it the D'Angelos, in part because we've lost track of Memory of the Angels for the foreseeable future.

There's plenty of references to the Family D'Angelo, however; a few references to the Family Somata, they of the Weirdom of Cabalarkon, as well. Yes, Thalassa (an adopted Angelic, the Sausages' Sea Stuff) does have a role to play. So do 1/2 of the Sundowns, 1/2 of the Sarpedon twins, a number of Trinondev Warriors of Weir and a lone, definite St Synne (the overweight one with the two-toned red hair and different coloured eyeballs).

Let's start with Hush Mannering. She was a central character in 'The Moloch Manoeuvres' but, thus far in 'Coueranna's Curse', she's mostly been an ordinary little girl. If she is Pandora Mannering, and there's some doubt about that, then she's probably related to all of the above.

Castle Nightmare, January 27, 1938

Jolene Callion did not know what time it was, -- only that it was still dark outside Castle von Alptraum. Something had awakened her. Not a nightmare, not even a dream. It was a sense. And not of dread either. More of wonderment.

She got out of bed, padded across the room in her bare feet. That was what it was. Some kind of light outside. She looked out the window. Pinched herself. Yelped quietly. She was not sleeping.

But that was a dragon out there!

Was, in PHANTACEA fact, Dragon Joe, pre-burping. Said-sight was enough to shock the little trickster out of the 'just-an-ordinary-little-girl' funk she's been in since she saw the two Medeas way back in Kore-1. Sparks generally fly when she's in action, all the more so when you consider that Young Life and Young Death, who believe they were once married, as teenagers, don't exactly get along. Sooth said, they tend to give the term 'nuclear family' an altogether explosive meaning.

So the Young Life variety of Hush is with us again. She's still in Germany, though, and after the big burp at the end of Kore-10 (on the 29th) we aren't going to be spending much time there anymore. Where will we be spending most of our time from now on? A number of places actually, not all of them, um, out here. Oh. How about this chapter then? And who is the feature family?

Ah, as to that, since Alexandros 'Persian' Kinesis, Aires 'Airealist' D'Angelo, Solace 'Sorciere' Sunrise, Morgianna brought up Somata and Demios 'Blackguard' Sarpedon were, and are, with Magister Mandam's German Crew (albeit no longer in Germany), the featured family has to be that of the Dre'Aths, right? Right! We're in Scotland.

There be faeries. There be also, minus the aforementioned Memory of the Angels, all those folks Magister Mandam sent with her to try to smooth things over with the Family Dre'Ath. As well, by now, there be the real Valfreja 'Freya' Volsung and Cybele St Synne, she with the two-tone reddish hair and generously proportioned poundage.

Have been since Thursday, the pair of them together; in Scotland anyway. Today's Saturday. For sure they're at the Dre'Aths' hospice, situated as it is on the coast of the North Sea. We'll pick things up again with Cybele getting an unexpected surprise. Melina Sarpedon, Demios's twin sister and an Inner Earth Summoning Child, who's with her walking on the beach, gets it too.

It isn't precisely a faerie, though it's close:

Heavily wrapped against the cold and snow, Cybele and Melina were quick to track down the source of the barking out in the dunes. "And what are you going to do about that, Red? Three-headed Hellhounds are not exactly common sights in Scotland."

"Watch." St Synne stroked the Keres calmly. Stroked its three heads into one ordinary one. "They're magical creatures."

"You and I both know there's no such thing as magic, Cybele. They're based on Solidium, same as the demons of Satanwyck and the Lemurian Matriarchs' Mandroid protectors. What's it doing here? More to the point, how did it get beyond the Dome? Or isn't it magical enough to tell you?"

"'Fraid not." The dog-thing started barking again. Even with only one head it still made a fearsome sound. "Oh stop it, Celery. It's only a dumb old crow."

"Celery?"

"What would you prefer, -- Tooth-Gnasher, Bone-Crusher, Fido-Fiend?"

"Fido-Fiend sounds appropriately macabre." Especially, thought the teenage Illuminary, since you're letting a Keres do that to you. "Hope it doesn't lick your face right off. Same as this Strife you told me about."

"Discord's just Concord on a bad day, -- which these are! And it is Celery. Because that's what I fed him when he was a pup."

"A Hellhound on rabbit food! What next?"

"Actually, to be honest, the celery was inside the bunny at the time. But Celery really is a doll. Aren't you, baby?" She let him nuzzle closer and hugged him back.

The crow, by the way, turns out to be John Sundown's Raven Fetishim. It hasn't got Memory of the Angels inside it anymore. It has that 1/2 Sundown referred to awhile ago. Which pretty much completes our cast of characters for the nonce.

On to 4-fingered Meg (Megaera, born Kinesis, now Zeross {Hellion Grudge}) having her long-anticipated confrontation with the Parents Dre'Ath re the suspiciously now missing Nate's alleged crimes against her family. Here's a taste of how it goes:

Multiple visions had come into Megaera's mind after Gregory wheeled Max out of the room on the gurney. All featured her only child, seven year old Demonites. The massive, misshapen Skullian was playing with him near a body of water, the mute Skullian was talking to him, the wheelchair-bound Skullian was giving him a ride, the boy in his lap, and the blind Skullian was looking at him, -- wherever the little boy went.

But always, all ways, in the background was the sinister visage of Maxwell Dre'Ath. He, and he alone, was the power behind the four Skullians. However, behind him, was the unmistakable authority of his parents. Angus was a cunning old fox but Gilda could not be underestimated. She was akin to a she-bear protecting her cubs. If he was ruthless, she was merciless.

"Nate is our son as much as Demonites is yours, Amazon," confirmed Gilda, very coldly. "Hammurabi's code is as alive in Hibernia as it is in Hellas. An eye for an eye and all that, -- except you Minoan maniacs have already notched two of our sons."

"You'll never find Dem," smirked Megaera. "Not with Ant Clymene looking after him." [In, as has long been established, Djinn-Ghoster's Nebuland.]

"You missed the import of Homer," stated Angus blandly.

One thing I haven't missed, though if you've read this far you might think I have, is that bit about faeries. See, there's three Dre'Ath grandchildren. Elaine, the Dre'Aths' eldest and only girl, had two of them, twins, by Jock Maxwell, who's among those still searching for the Galvin-Shekmet party lost in Africa toward the end of December 1937. Their names were Dinah and Dana.

Elaine and Jock were divorced after Dana died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), what in '38 was commonly referred to as Crib Death. Dinah, a blonde, ordinary girl around seven, lives with her mom at the Family Dre'Aths' North Sea hospice, which Elaine runs on a day-to-day basis. Sooth said again, as always in these synopses, Kore-12 opens with Dinah having a vision of her long dead twin.

(As you'll have figured out, who Dinah actually saw was Hush, Joli Blon, Wayfaring in the Wild Weird the night she saw Dragon Joe outside Castle Nightmare and thereby got with it again.)

The other Dre'Ath grandchild is Baby Betty, Rebecca 'Becky' Elizabeth nee Maxwell's infant daughter by the late Sean Dre'Ath. Called Lilabet by her mother, she was in Rome with her parents, her Dre'Ath grandparents and their other two sons, Nate and Maxwell. (Recall, the Skullians are the sons of Angus by four different women, all of whom are now dead.)

If you'd like to believe the Skullians' mothers were faeries, be my guest. Might the 'skull' aspect of their surname refer to Sedon's Head? It might. If you'd like to believe dead-Dana was really kidnapped by faeries, that's a mighty ditto. As for our chapter-titular character, Fear Dark is just an English way of pronouncing his Celtic name.

"He got her, he got her," was screaming Elaine. "Wrong, wrong, we were all wrong!"

Interruption: As was established early on in Kore-12, Elaine (Jock Maxwell's ex-wife, now once again calling herself Dre'Ath) and her mother, whom Hush often addressed as Mama Goldie during Manoeuvres, thought faeries were targeting Dinah, the same as they didn't just target dead-Dana around six years previously.

They got Dana then. Left a magicked stock of wood in her crib, didn't they?

"Got who?" demanded Megaera.

"Lilabet -- my Baby Betty!" cried Rebecca Elizabeth nee Maxwell Dre'Ath.

"Come again, love," insisted Gilda, without a trace of panic in her voice. "Who got Lilabet?"

"Fir Doirche!"

And who might he be? The recurring King of the Unseelie Court, as a matter of not just PHANTACEA fact. And what's that? As always, good reading!

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13. COUERANNA'S CURSE: "Apis Isle"

Lest we forget our overall title, 'Coueranna's Curse', it's back to Sedon's Head for the beginning of Kore-13. We start with the Ninurtas, the family of Garudas headed by father Kermes and mother Akkipy. Akkipy, you'll recall, is Granny Garuda's daughter by Nimrod Falconiform. Kermes Ninurta is her husband. Their children are Kestrel and Aquilla, their Summoning Son, whom we last saw in Kore-9 acting as Machine-Memory's hands.

Granny Garuda, you'll also recall, is Kanin Nauroz. She's bodily dead but she still might Phoenix. The problem with that is Argiope 'Bright Face' Zeross has her feathers and a Garuda can't Phoenix without his or her feathers. Aquilla went looking for them, with the results first described in Odd-8 and recapped here, just in case you have forgotten. Now father Nimrod has called a Convocation of Eagles to take up the chase. As we discover, they can't find a way beyond the Dome. They also can't find Aquilla. We'll leave them to it.

Meanwhile, on our multi-named, chapter-titular island, Sedon's Human Eye-Land on a map of the Hidden Headworld, Master Kyprian Somata isn't doing too well. In truth her captor, Cruel Plathon, the Bull of Mithras, is more than a mite miffed at her deterioration. Like the Garudas he's particularly miffed that the tub of Cathonic Fluid containing Aquilla has vanished.

He'd secreted it in a Tholos Temple or Shrine dedicated to a long gone, nowadays nameless devil (actually Marutia, Marut Kanin, Kore-Eris, Kore-Discord or, as we know her best, Strife). The temple had been well-guarded so it couldn't have been stolen by anyone on Ap Isle; not in any ordinary way anyhow. So, who had the ability to spirit something that size away? More importantly, if they could do that, then they could easily do it to Kyprian as well.

The other troubling thing was that, if the tub was still around he could stick Kyprian inside it. He did that, he could at least preserve her life until Golgotha Nauroz (who was cloned from Granny's long dead brother Ubris, the thought-father of Augustus Nauroz, aka Auguste Moirnoir, Young Death or Hush's Gush) and his Trinondev Warriors Elite return from the Outer Earth. They went out there to locate the prison pod containing Kore-Concord, Divine Coueranna, she of the curse. They come back, they'll trade it to the Bull for the release of their Master. So long as she's still alive, that is.

We'll leave the Bull fretting and return to Scotland for the rest of Kore-13.

Something's happened. Well, something is always happening in a PHANTACEA web-serial but this particular happening hasn't been detailed in the usual way, either earlier on in this chapter or during any preceding chapter. In other words, whatever it was happened off-camera, as it were. Suffice it to say, Hush Mannering (Gush's Hush, aka Young Life, the female trickster, Jolene Callion or Joli Blon) is now in Scotland. To say the least she's in General 'Huff-n-Puff' Jollity mode.

Hush is joined by the aforementioned Golgotha Nauroz (Black Skull Face), Morgianna Somata (the White Witch), Demios Sarpedon (whose twin sister Melina has been acting as Max's nurse since leaving the Ark in Cairo), the Untouchable Diver (Yehudi Cohen), Laodice Atreides (Electra, Lady Lightning or Electrocretan, as the Diver dubs her), Mesmer Hent (Mr Attraction), Clair du Lune (Camille Dugas), Mr Brilliant (Immanuel Dark) and Wildman Dervish Furie (Gentleman Jervis Murray).

In short, whatever it was that happened off-camera was more like two happenings. One happened on Aegean Trigon. The other happened at Castle Nightmare. (NOTE: I'm going to go out on a limb and say that we'll probably find out what those happenings were next time up, but that could be just a wild guess. My excuse? It's 2006 when I write this; it was 1997 when I wrote 'Coueranna's Curse'.)

Here's the deal with the Family Dre'Ath. There's a lot of faerie about the lot of them, on both sides: Daddy Angus's Dre'Aths, including son Nathan and the 4 Skullians, and Mommy Goldie's O'Ryans, including sister Bonita (Bunnie now Galvin), whose children are currently lost in Africa.

There's also something called the Teind. It's a tithe the Dre'Aths and O'Ryans pay faerie folk such that the majority of their children can grow up human. It's paid in the form of the minority of their children, the ones who are stolen as babies, to be replaced with stocks of wood, no less. We meet one in Kore-13. Her name's Sarah-60.

We also find out that Sarah-61 has been stolen from those faeries who stole her. That would be Dana Maxwell, one of Elaine nee Dre'Ath's twin daughters by Jock Maxwell, who's also in Africa. As for Nate, well, it appears he's a potential Fir Doirche (Fear Dark, the chapter-titular character of Kore-12).

In that respect, here's a significant BLOCKQUOTE. The first person speaking is Dervish Furie (Werewolf in Shorts, one of the Society of Suicides, who was last seen in Kore-11):

"Shooting seals does not a legend make, mate."

"Yeah? Take a closer look, gruesome." Nathan Dre'Ath was proud of himself. He bent over the dog-fin's corpse, dug his fingers into the bullet holes, and began to pull away its skin. Underneath it, as dead as the seal appeared to be, was a human being, a man covered with red hair and powerful muscles; a man, he had to admit, who did look a lot like him.

"That's Fear Dark, brawn-for-brains. I just killed a living nightmare. Though you're no Johnny Handsome yourself, whatever you are."

"Furie, of the Dervish variety. But you're right. Are they all like that?"

"Some of them. Underneath the weather-proofing. Some of them are kind of pretty too, -- and not just the female ones either. One's my aunt."

Although Fear Dark is an Oannes type as well as as a Selkie, roane or merrow, the weather-proofing Nate's referring to is the Selkies' removable seal-skin. Sarah-60, who's a Banshee or Siren Songtress faerie type as well as a Selkie, has some other knacks besides hypnotic singing. As Angelo Zeross (1938's Ringleader, who also answers to Ringkeeper) quickly discovers when he sticks his de-bodied devils into them, then tries to do the same to her, she shares these knacks with most faeries.

"Ringkeeper, just the person I wanted to see," grinned Hush. "Got another devil-thrall to spare?"

"I'll pull one out," Angelo offered. "By the way, I think I'll stick with Ringleader if you don't mind. I'm the Pied Piper here."

"You do that. Do the other thing too."

"Delighted to oblige." Just as he had on Aegean Trigon more than a week earlier, Zeross fingered one of his myriad, now empty rings. "Hold on. Something's wrong."

"Who's possessing who now, trickster?" trilled Sarah. "As you should know even if your deviant pals don't, our kind has been dealing with devils for many millennia. They might be able to occupy us but that doesn't mean they can take us over. On the contrary, after centuries of putting up with their abuse we developed built-in reflexes such that we're the ones who hold onto them. Dense as they are, my Selkie pals won't let them go any more than I'll let your Diver out of me."

Someone zoomed across Siren's vision. Before she really knew what it was, Dervish Furie was standing beside Young Life, Morgianna and Laodice holding the Selkie Songstress's seal skin. "Am I right or mightn't you be needing this, nature girl?"

Sarah-60 and Fear Dark had a thing going. When she finds out Nate's killed him, she attempts to return the favour. With socks of supras, whom she refers to as deviants, on Roane's Reef (the non-Apis islet in Kore-13) she's non-lethally socked stopped. However, there's still no way to compel her to show the Saints the location of the Selkies' between-space link to the Hidden Continent.

Then Cybele St Synne, the two-toned redhead who prefers to be described as voluptuous rather than as overweight, has a bright idea. As we've known since Kore-4, Angelo (and now the Selkies) isn't the only one who has hold of a captured devil. That devil's captor, a Trinondev of Weir, defers to a Summoning Child who, if she was born Pandora Mannering, may in PHANTACEA fact be Hush's Summoning Child.

Morgianna Somata, the White Witch of Cabalarkon, did not hesitate. "Release Kore into the Banshee!"

Guess who will be going to Sedon's Head in the very near future? SOS may mean the Sorority of Sausages, the Society of Saints and/or the Socks of Suicides (actually, I just made that up) but it also means Save Our Souls. And the soul the Trinondevs came out here to save was of course that of Kyprian Somata, the Master of the Weirdom of Cabalarkon.

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14. COUERANNA'S CURSE: "The Tholos Tomb for Pygmies"

I hate endings. Nonetheless, endings must come. Except when it comes to the PHANTACEA Mythos, that is. I don't mind lists, though. So it also is, in Kore-14, an ending of a sort does come. Rather, an ending of sorts does start to come. With a list to go with it? Yep. Here it is:

It was the first time all thirty of them, -- Living Agate, Magus Maxius, the Four Skullians [Sense Seer, Chairman, Rage Mage and Mouthpiece] who shared the totality of Max's talents amongst them, Raven-Sundown and Eagle-Sunrise, the Air and Sea Angelics, the Untouchable Diver, both Furies, Dervish and Hellion Grudge, Ringleader-Ringkeeper, Illuminatus, Black Skull Face, the Black Death, Fisherwoman, Delphi, Clair du Lune, the Misters, Attraction, Brilliant and even Automatic, Android Dulles, Thoth-Troth Dis L'Orca, as the Diver so cleverly nicknamed Hadrian, Burning Hell, Kid Cemetery, Slipper, Pluman, Electrocretan, and Aegis Mandam -- acted in unison; with the same pragmatic purpose of mind.

Chances were it would be the last time too!

Which of course is to say 'here it isn't'.

A water spout had risen out of the sea, had taken on a human shape, that of a great bearded behemoth holding a glowing trident in his massive fists. It was Unholy Abaddon. Having reclaimed his power focus from Fish's pet porpoise-pomp, he had clearly re-grown his demon's body. Only now it was composed entirely of water.

There are death-endings, though. Here's a couple of them:

Sunday, January 30, 1938

Unfortunately for some, notably Redrum Gaunt and Cascade Turnup, the two Trinondev Warriors [of Weir] that Fisherwoman left at the Congo Tholos [Tomb for Pygmies], tomorrow never came. Or, to be more precise, dawn never came.

Not that they got to see.

Here's a third ...

Wolfgang Shekmet had a long, double-curved knife and drove it into her stomach. As she coughed blood and proceeded to die, he began to weep. Wept all the more as his pressed his glowing blade clean through her and into the beehive-stone.

"It's your life or mine, sunshine. Your youth for my age. So sorry, Barsine. I've no choice in the matter!"

Here's a fourth ...

They fished her body out a few hours later, well after dawn had given way to daylight and the coast of Italian Somaliland came into view. Sharks had made a meal out of her but Tanith [von Blut, always Volsung] was still vaguely recognizable. So much for one of Count Molech's potential offspring.

As for the other of Count Molech's potential offspring ...

"The Aesgardian Tantalus?" queried Gilda [nee O'Ryan] long Dre'Ath, Hush's Mama Goldie.

"Disposed of it," Hush responded.

"Where?"

"Into Kore's volcanic heart. Brainrock to Brainrock, -- sort of like dust to dust."

"And Coueranna herself?"

"We thought about that. Took a bit of negotiation, as it happened. The Trinondevs were all for sucking her into a prison pod again. Would have been a total double-cross, given all Kore did for us. Of course eyeorbs are useless in devic protectorates. And what else are Twilight and Apis Isle except the domain of devils? In the end we decided Apple Kore'd be better off inside Valfreja Volsung than either Songstress or Cybele.

All of which is to say there's still more endings to come!

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15. COUERANNA'S CURSE: "Onwards, Inwards and More Innards"

Let's play pretend: 'Heliodyssey' is a trilogy comprising'Helioddity', 'Coueranna's Curse' and, starting in the Summer 2006 edition of PHANTACEA on the Web, 'The Volsung Variations'. Better yet, let's not pretend at all. Let's just come right out and say that. Then we can say that Kore-14 constituted Curse's finale while Kore-15 constitutes foreboding for Volsung.

Except that wouldn't be quite accurate, would it? Truth told, Kore-15 is more a matter of saying farewell to a bunch of characters who've been with us since 'The Moloch Manoeuvres'. I'm not saying any of them die, though it doesn't look good for Human Memory.

"He's gone!" crackled Machine Memory, whose digitized face shone out of the Kubla Cavern's exposed wall-space.

The Kubla Cavern was but one of the many hollowed-out caverns within Subterranean Trigon; a particularly comfortable one, true, a regular Xanadu pleasure-dome, and one, when she was humanized, this Memory often shared with her beloved. Now she, it, was reduced to being just a cybernetic peeping tomcat.

"Only for the moment," protested the devil-free, former Taurus of Apple-Apis Isle, misunderstanding the voyeur-wallflower that was Trans-Time Trigon's omnipresent Miracle Machine. "I'll be back. Soon too. Just you watch, Dame Digitalis."

"I will, -- but I'm not talking about you, diddle-head. I'm talking about him, your idiotic bird-manservant. Aquilla!"

"The punk-huntsman? Big deal. What's he going to do?"

"Kill you, -- before you're even born!"

"Good for him then. Right, Lovely Lady?"

Memory of the Grey was no longer breathing!

So, Mnemosyne D'Angelo is dead, eh. Do I sound doubtful? Recall the punk-huntsman, Aquilla Ninurta, is now something of a simpleton. Recall Human Memory's Circean knack. I'm thinking Human Memory's no more dead than Barsine or Tanith.

You've probably already figured out whose body they fished out of the Indian Ocean in Kore-14. As for Bat-Bait, well, we know who her Summoning knack turned out to be, don't we?

Here's more than enough foreboding for what's upcoming. The first speaker is Sorciere (Solace Sunrise). The second speaker is Fisherwoman (Scylla Nereid). Shahiyeda is Sorciere's 3- year old daughter by John Sundown.

Word has somehow reached both Fish and Sorry that Shah, as she's known, is currently being worshipped as an incarnation of Nergal Vetala. Whom, we aforesaid know, just happens to be who Barsine's Summoning knack turned out to be.

"The Auntie Ants'll ..."

"Protect Shahiyeda? How?"

"Great Byron'll stop her [Vetala]. Or the Moloch Himself."

"They wouldn't know their butts from their bottoms; haven't had feet for six millennia, either of them. Now might be our last chance to save any of ours. Save everything. Because, if the Head comes crashing down into the North Pacific, the Genesea'll finally fully happen and most folks don't have gills!"

"Aren't we a little young to save the world?"

"It's the young who need one, avian."

"There's that. Let's go!"

Delphi came out of the Grey, gathered up the amphibious anthropoid [Fisherwoman] and the Pocahontas [Sorciere]. Took them through Young Death [Auguste Moirnoir, Augustus Nauroz or Hush's Gush], through the Tholos Tomb, through the Cathonic Dome, after Abe Chaos, Barsine-Vetala Mandam-Nergal, the not-so-old anymore Mithraic Magus and Tanith von Blut, who definitely did appear to be alive.

"Tanith!" cried Jesus Mandam, spotting them go. Then he was fully silver. Then he had the Stopstone wings of an Aegis-Angel. Then he was through the Omphalos and onto the other side.

Which brings us to the casualty list.

"We lost some, sir," Ted Mayhew reported to the Great Man [Loxus Abraham Ryne] as dawn approached that morning in mid-February.

"Sorry to hear that, Ted. But your men were well paid."

"Not my men, sir, -- they get paid so well precisely because they're professionals. Pros don't go down easily. Can't say the same about some of your youngsters, though. I told you they had no place on a mission like this."

"Which ones?" demanded Sedon St Synne, the still slightly red-headed Franco-Ainu former Godling, already dreading the response. Although a Wayfarer in the Weird and a half-son of the ever-possessive Pauper Priestess, when he was fully awake he was pretty much just an ordinary, albeit fit, sixty odd year old satyr, -- non-cloven hoof variety.

"The Annulises, father and son, the Sundowns, Mister and Missus, one of the Germans, the Jewish guy with the big glasses [Yehudi Cohen], the Nereid gal [Fisherwoman], the little black boy you brought with us and, sorry to say, your nephew, sir."

"Jesse!" exclaimed St Synne and the Great Man virtually simultaneously. "How? Where?"

Not much of a casualty list, is it? Finally, just to confirm:

"Let me prove it," pleaded Ali Ars Markazi not much more than a couple of hours later. He did too. Shed himself. Off of Yehudi Cohen. And stood shakily before them as a narrow wafer of hair and skin with virtually no volume.

"You know," understated the Diver, in typical fashion. "This supra-shit really is for the birds."

"Tell me about birds," was all Sundown said.

Crows generally caw but, somewhere high above the Tholos Tomb for Pygmies, a Raven-Fetishim was cackling. Not unlike a witch. And not unobserved either. Aquilla the Hunter, nearly brain-dead simpleton that he was after not spending enough time in the tub of Cathonic Fluid, did not know what it was. Others did; one had even been inside it once. Barely a couple of weeks ago as it happened.

She [Mnemosyne D'Angelo] did not trance-send herself over to the Fetishim, though. Aquilla was the place for her. She had the same mission her Mnemosyne Machine counterpart did but was constrained by Heliosophos from accomplishing. Namely, -- to guarantee he got born in the first place!

What else? Quite a lot actually. The Emperor Mammalian and his Manimals are still out there. (There's quite a bit about them in Kore-15, although I have to admit most of it is purely for the sake of gratuitous violence.) Sedon St Synne unleashes the Silver Arrow Assassins on Valfreja Volsung. They do their job too. (The shame of it is Val's now Strife.)

The Garudas' Convocation of Eagles finally gets beyond the Dome. (They're the ones, once some of them return to the Hidden Continent, who're responsible for what's become of Jason and Apsyrtus Annulis.) We learn for sure what's become of Agenor Heliopolis, Clymene 'Mystery Might' nee Catreus, hubby Pelops 'Pops' Atreides, Argiope 'Bright Face' Zeross and the rest of the Etocretan Extremists. (They're in Djinn-Ghoster's Nebuland, between-space off Kato Zakros on the Island of Crete.)

The Smiling Fiend is with them, occupying Agenor. So is the Demon Child, Tralalorn, though she's occupying one of the Malanthean Maniacs children, probably Krista Udaeus, who's actually Daphne Udaeus's daughter of Sedon St Synne. (Both Smiler and Trala feature prominently in "Feeling Theocidal", which is set in 4376 Year of the Dome, the equivalent of 376 A.D. Send me an email and I'll instruct you how to order it such that I get most of the profits.)

We'll leave Bad Rhad with the last word:

No, Rhadamanthys was the problem. Agenor distrusted the Smiling Fiend. Distrusted him all the more because, when he was not in plain sight, Heliopolis felt certain he was inside him.

That was the thing about devils, Ant Clymene, Mystery Might, Pops Polyps' wife of over forty years, told him. Out here, even within the Nebuland, devils needed a shell to rest inside of once in a while. Which was also what made [Hannibal] Grudal's Warriors of Weir so restless.

Were they anywhere but a Master Deva's protectorate their eye-staves would have made short work of the devils. That was why their orbs were called Prison Pods after all.

"It's intolerable, Minotauros," Gibraltar was telling him [Agenor, the though-father of Kadmon Heliopolis, the Male Entity in his first life] at lunch that same Tuesday. "Find some subterfuge, some excuse, to go back to the real world. Say, I don't know, -- say Demonites and Baby Rom miss their mothers. Order Ghoster to track them down. Do that, the Dwarf and the Heliodromus are eye-orbed."

"Aren't you forgetting someone?"

"Who? They're the only two devils in here." Grudal said that quite a lot, so long as Rhadamanthys was not around. It was as if he could not recall the red-faced, forked-tongue devil when Smiler was not physically present. Which was the main reason Heliopolis figured the fiend hid out inside him. He could never forget him!

Bright Face, Argiope Zeross, breasts-bobbing openly in that way that so infuriated him, came crying up to them. "Someone's stolen my feathers."

"Good," was Agenor's first reaction. "I mean, who?" Argiope could not answer. Did not know. Someone else did though.

"Artemis!"

Sounds like I could write a whole lot more than just a 'Helioddity' trilogy. And I could. I just haven't yet.

As always, good reading!

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Synopses of Kore 1-5

Synopses of Kore 6-10

Synopses of Kore 11-15


Next: 'The Volsung Variations'

Unless I decide to start 'The Vampire Variations' instead.

Better yet, maybe I'll start both of them at the same time!

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