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Welcome to a Vampire Variations Web-Serial Synopsis Page

| Top of Page Search Engine | Latest listing of phantacea publications available in print and digitally | Quick Lynx | Bottom of Page |

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.

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'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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- Jim McPherson's phantacea Online -

Logo for Phantacea reads Anheroic Fantasy since 1977

| List of ph-Webworld's 1938 Web-Wheaties | The Vampire Variations Chapter-by-Chapter Synopses Start Here | Serial Graphics |

[Collage for PHANTACEA on the Web, done on Photoshop by Jim McPherson, Year 2002]

- double-click to enlarge collage -


- 1938 Variations -

© copyright Jim McPherson (PHANTACEA)
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The Vampire Variations

1. "Semi-Sisters Three" ... 2. "Burial Plot Thickening" ... 3. "Grave Gravy" ... 4. "Tympanic Memories" ... 5. "Rafting Towards Medusa"

Gericault's 'Le Radeau de la Meduse', scanned in from a postcard bought at the Louvre, Paris, 2004; Barsine's birthmother, Olympias Sangati Kinesis, is a Lamia Medusa

Gold-Mining for PHANTACEA Factoids

| Lamiae | Iraches | Mariamnics' attitude towards life & loving vis-a-vis that of the Anthean Sisterhood in 5938 YD |

1. The Vampire Variations: "Semi-Sisters Three"

Let's be clear from the outset that Solace (Sorciere) born Sunrise become Sundown (unofficially), Scylla (Fisherwoman) born Nereid become Auranja (officially), and Barsine (Barstool) Mandam are not sisters. Let's also be clear that Barsine is not Sorciere or Fisherwoman's prisoner. She's tagging along because they've become friends. As for how they get through the Tholos Tomb for Pygmies to the Totem Pool or Wishing Hell, it involves Young Death, which means it's both disgusting and almost identical to here.

I won't enlighten you as to what becomes of some of the others who made it to Sedon's Head with our titular Semi-Sisters Three.That's because there's a whole other set of variations currently being serialized out here on the Web featuring a few of them. Well, all right, not wanting to be accused of speciism, if that's a word or how to spell it, I should mention that Delphi, Fish's psychopomp, came through Young Death too.

She then transports them up north to a Witch Shelter situated within the Gypsium Wall or Curtain. Most of its inhabitants are Iraches, of which more below. As for what they see, staked out, once they get there ...

Lamiae were once women who died giving birth. They survived on soul-stuff for the most part. Which was why they hung around battlefields and graveyards after death. Once a month, on the Full Moon, they needed something more substantial. Like their vampiric kin they needed blood. [SHOT FROM AN EGYPTIAN SARCOPHAGUS IN VIENNA, 1996]Only they fed on the blood of children [newborns right up to the eve of their fifth birthdays, give or take, depending the degree of their digestive desperation].

As well as vampires, lamiae were somewhat akin to gorgons, the snake-haired, gawk-eyed, toothsome terrors of ancient -- and not just Mediterranean -- mythologies. Supposedly they couldn't stare-stone anyone. But their mere appearance could be heart-stopping.

Although understandably, given the way they came about their existential extension, all were women, they took a variety of forms. Between-space they were comparable to the Hindu Nagas, winged wyrms with cobra-cowled, horned, Medusa-like heads and scaly but otherwise human torsos, complete with breasts.

As such their likenesses, often without the fully female aspects of their upper bodies, had been depicted all over the antique world, including decorations like this one found inside sarcophagi containing Egyptian pharoahs. Which was no doubt the real reason why mummy became the common term for such things.

Someone else they see, as well as see through, is the Cheyenne Shaman Manitoulin (Shamanitoulin), Solace Sunrise's likely father and a Wayfarer in the Wild Weird whom we haven't come across since Manoeuvres.

A mask that reminds me of Shamanitoulin, photo by Jim McPhersonThree-quarters of a century old or damn near, the sightless man was quite the sight. Wiry rather than frail, he was also steel-grey rather than steel-eyed due to the fact his eyes were blindfolded with a leather strap. His lips were rouged; a blood-red third eye was outlined inside a black triangle in the centre of his forehead; and black and white stripes not unlike chevrons were drawn on his cheek.

He was dressed in white buckskin leggings and moccasins, a sleeveless buffalo cloak or 'star blanket' with the fur turned outwards, and a buffalo hat or 'issiwun' with the horns pointing up. A raven's head such as Manitoulin has on his walking stick, scanned in from a postcard bought at the Louvre Museum, Paris 2004Although he wore a multi-layered, multi-coloured beaded necklace across his chest, his perhaps surprisingly muscular arms were bare; had animalistic or fetishistic symbols etched up and down them.

While he was not about to wrassle a bear or outrace a deer anymore, he still looked capable of hiking his native Rocky Mountains, if not exactly running up them as he did in his youth. He had a leather 'wampum pouch' filled with not even Sorciere knew what strapped about his waist and carried what he called a Speaking Stick. It was quite grotesque, a spear with the severed head of a huge raven impaled atop it and black feathers collaring underneath it.

What's the scoop? Glad you asked.

A Master Deva by the name of Krepusyl Evenstar (the Grey Lady of the Grey Land of Twilight) has threatened to shut down access to and from the Hidden Headworld. She could do it, too. Both Fish and Sorciere have daughters on this side of the Dome. They've come inside in hopes of bringing them outside. Their first stop is here, the Witch Shelter adjacent to Free Iraxas on the Cattail Peninsula, where Sorciere's daughter by John Sundown (Shahiyeda or Shah) was born and is being raised.

Thinking Shah an incarnation of their devic goddess, Nergal Vetala, Manitoulin and Sorciere's people, the Iraches, have been worshipping her. They're wrong. Vetala has been incarnated inside of Barsine Mandam. Her two friends know it. So does Barstool (sometimes aka Sunshine or Sandbar), hence her volunteering to accompany Fish and Sorciere. Could be a trade's in the wind. Except, well, Shah isn't there, is she? Her grandmother's taken her to safety somewhere. A living child is there, however. Her name's Thea.

Without going into too many details, the staked-out and consequently dead-again lamia has a name. We've heard of her before because she had highly significant son and died having a pretty impressive Summoning Child who featured prominently in VamVar's three predecessor serials: Manoeuvres, Helioddity and Curse. Sorciere's mom -- that'd be Shah's grandmother -- is also a lamia. According to Manitoulin, in her hoot owl form she's taken Shah to refuge on the heart-shaped Island of Shenon in the Head's Interior Ocean of Akadan, which is ruled by yet another lamia. She died having this Thea.

Oh yes, again according to Manitoulin, Barsine Mandam's mother of record wasn't her mother of reality. Her mother of reality was the same person Etzel Sangati (Count Molech) believed throughout Manoeuvres was Virginia Mannering's mother of reality. (In case you missed it in Kore-1, we'll get confirmation of her identity a couple of chapters from now.) As for Barsine's mother of record, well:

"Let's not forget why we came here," [Fish fin-finished.]

"To save our kids," recalled Sorciere conversationally. "Those of us who have kids to save."

"Save the world more like it," countered Fish. "Let's gather up Shah on Shenon then head over to Godbad and pick up my water daughter from Achigan's court. If we can't stop Lady Mist we should be able to spout out through my old buddy, Island Leviathan."

Lady Mist was one of the many names used by Krepusyl of Crepuscule, the devic overlord, over-lady rather, of the Land of Twilight on the other side of the Hidden Continent. Her fancy-filled but by no means fanciful faeries used Island Leviathan as their link way to the Outer Earth. Used as in, maybe, used to use by now.

"You've a buddy who's an Island?" Barsine gasped.

"A whale actually. It's a dugong-long story but I gather I was born inside him. Born, not hatched. At least I think it's a him. You coming, Barstool?"

"Guess I better. Don't know what else to do with myself."

"I do," ventured Battlescar [who'd helped train both Fish and Sorciere in the War-Witch Sisterhood of Mediterranean Athena] .

"Oh, do you?" scowled Barsine, showing her fangs again. "And what, may I ask, might that be?"

"Since we're going to same place, how about I let the Aortic tell you herself?"

The aging Athenan still had problems with daytime vamps. Then again young Mandam wasn't a vampire. Certainly not yet and hopefully would never become one. Skewering Sorciere with a moon-sickle might be forgivable, though. Two birds with one stone was another rewarding thought, even if one of them was a bat.

"Hey, why not? Not every daughter's a mom who's a soul leach."

"Oh, I wouldn't say that, Sunshine," Sorciere said anyhow. "Seems there's at least two others right here, me and Thea."

Recall: This subsection of VamVar is entitled 'Blood Beast Moms'!

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2. The Vampire Variations: "Burial Plot Thickening"

For the future reference purposes of not just VamVar, it behoves me to commence this synoptic spiel with a gold-mining box.

Iraches were related to the Pre-Columbian natives of North, Central and South America. They called their Headworld homeland Iraxas. However, by 5938 YD virtually everyone else living on Sedon's Head had been calling it Hadd for hundreds of years. They did so primarily because the Cloud of Hadd, an incredibly thick, ever-rainless, sun-shielding, omnipresent and very much atmospheric cloud, had been completely covering their realm for just as long.

What caused the unceasing cloud cover? Mother Nature, some said. Mother Vetala, others said. Same difference, Iraches said.

Resolutely primitive, for the most part Hadd's Iraches of the 60th Century of the Dome remained hunter-gatherer throwbacks to the Stone Age. Proud of it, they had never taken to devils; had, at best, provided only lukewarm adherence to the Byronics who ruled Iraxas before Nergal Vetala came along during the Expansion of the Empire of Lathakra in the Dome's 48th Century.

They had never forgiven the Moloch Sedon for turning their once sea-soaked land into his Headworld. Truth was the onetime, absolutely immense archipelago of Pacifica, the Places of Peace as well as Pieces, was their realm long before the Genesea; long before devils came to the Whole Earth; and long before the hated scientists of Old Eden turned it into their private laboratory, their zoo and the consequential repository for their failed genetic experimentations.

Mother Earth was their lone god. She demanded irrigating blood. Even though she was more than half a millennium away from becoming a vampire at the time, so did Vetala. Call her cunning, call her conniving, call her pandering, call her evil if you must. Call her also bountiful, for that was once again what Iraxas became. Until the Byronics decided to take back what was once theirs, that is.

More than six and a half centuries after the Empire of Lathakra, of which Vetala was a vassal, reached its peak circa Year of the Dome 4825, they returned from Godbad. Returned en masse; with their armies, their marines, their navies to block access to Akadan, their modern metal armour, and most of all their guns. Iraches had never used anything except sticks, stones, spears, atlatls, bows and arrows. Were helpless in the face of this second invasion of their by then 90% recovered land.

In response to the onslaught of the resurgent Byronics, one or the other male Nergalid -- unless it was all three of them [the Planter, the Grower and the Reaper], not that Vetala's moon sickle was much use against stone -- dug tunnels through the Diluvian Mountains such that the Iraches could flee to the north.

Coming out Cheek-side of the mountains, they were quickly engaged by Mithrants armed similarly to the Byron Spawn. Some kept going. Some battled back home [to what would thereafter become known as Hadd], where they stayed, or else dispersed either to the east, onto the Cattail Peninsula [Free Iraxas], or to the west, into the Subcontinent of Aka Godbad [New Iraxas].

The Year of the Dome was 5492. That made it the same year, on the Outer Earth, that the Spaniards under Columbus 'discovered' the Americas. The result wasn't much different either. The Iraches were conquered, enslaved or slaughtered, their resources plundered, their religion suppressed, and their free-spirited lifestyle forever abolished.

Here's the queer, as a certain little devil child who doesn't appear in VamVar tends to say:

Sorciere's sympathies lie with the put-upon Iraches of both Old Iraxas (Hadd) and New Iraxas, now the sole petroleum-producing province of Greater Godbad. The main problem with living Iraches is that they don't just worship their ancestors. They have them over for tea and scones. Yes, ambulatory Dead Things, as animated by Vetala's abundant azuras, proliferate in both Hadd and New Iraxas.

Even worse, though, the real powers in both places are vampires. Their overlord is Janna Fangfingers, whose story was first told in PREGAME-Gambit. Athenan War Witches, the likes of Sorciere, Fish and Battlescar, make a living wiping out vamps. As the latest incarnation of Nergal Vetala, Barsine should be their natural enemy. She isn't, hence the exchange that commences VamVar-2:

"Who's War Famous?" wondered Barstool. This after they had reached Shenon via their stepping stones and Battlescar brought the to-them shocking news that Sorciere's youngster, Shahiyeda, was no longer, if she had been ever-recently, on the heart-shaped Island; that this War Famous must therefore have felt her granddaughter's safety was best attained elsewhere.

"My mother, obviously," said Sorciere. "I gather Louise is Old French for War Famous."

"What's Old French for bait?" had to ask Fisherwoman. It was another of her culinary cracks.

War Witches weren't fishing for her. Besides, that joke would have been too obligatory to make. They were fishing for revenge, however. [Revenge for the bat-attack that Manitoulin, Battlescar and her Athenans repelled prior to our Semi-Sisters Three arriving in the Witch Shelter within the Gypsium Curtain that morning.] All Ants, even Aths, were sisters. Made lousy bait, though. So did wyrms [as in lamiae].

"Barsine!" The joke may have been on her but, even though she was the one to respond, young Mandam wasn't feeling gracious. Was anything except laughing.

Nor were Battlescar, Sorciere or Fish. Laughter was not the aquatic's aim. Irony was!

Thus Barsine Mandam acquires yet another sobriquet, one to go with Barstool, Sandbar and Sunshine. It is, naturally, 'Bat-bait'. She hopes it doesn't stick, especially in the form of a stake through her heart (though, as previously noted, thanks to who she has, unless it's the other way around, she's survived something just as ordinarily fatal.)

And, in case you missed it earlier, the one who really wants to apply the stake, because she now realizes Barsine has Nergal Vetala, is Fish and Sorry's former 'sergeant', the Athenan taskmaster they regard as their tormentor from youthful training days. (Recall Fish and Sorry are still teenagers. Scar could be all of thirty, if that.) She's the first one who speaks in this excerpt.

"If you'll let me finish," said Battlescar (who looks Asian).

"Finish freely, Scar," allowed Sorciere, then couldn't resist adding: "Even if you are Chinese, doll."

"Samarandin, Metisse," all-but-spat the aging Athenan, her train of thought completely lost.

"It's a an old joke, Scar," placated Fish, recognizing the danger signals, which accounted for why she'd ceased fishifying. "Finns are an Outer Earth race the same as the Chinese. Samarandins look like Orientals just as Iraches look like Native Americans."

"First Nations People," corrected Sorciere.

"Have it your wave. Anyhow, Finnish is their language. Sorciere's sense of humour is a little, um, obscure."

"Trust Fish," smiled Barsine, who was modestly more creative than the others. "She knows about fins."

"And I know an insult when I hear one," countered Battlescar, tensing unmistakeably. "China Dolls are notoriously fragile. Just like three year olds."

"Enough, sister," spoke one of the weirdest of all the Weird's many wraiths, as she manifested herself out of the Weird itself. "Begone this instant."

"At once, Aortic."

It was a nick-of-time appearance. Gave Battlescar the opportunity to stepping-stone-leave with her dignity intact rather than tacked into a pine box along with the rest of her.

War Witches never attacked fellow Athenans. Just wasn't done. Sorciere was on the verge of doing just that, though. Fish wasn't altogether certain that wasn't Scar's plan from of the beginning. Her reference being to Sorry's missing Shah, why else would the over-the-hill taskmaster provoke Sorciere in such a blatant fashion?

Then again Fish had a suspicious mind. Could be quite intuitive. Was, perhaps not surprisingly, prone to what she herself described as oceans of notions. Was having at least a lake or two of them right now. Unless it wasn't meant as a provocation. Was meant as a warning. But, about whom?

Maybe this one: Barsine's step-mother!

As you might have figured out from its title, VamVar-2 is similar to Odd-5 and VolVar-4 in that it positively reaks of subplots. I summarized most of the 'burial plots' above when I made mention of a few of the unburied dead or undead beings subplot-populating VamVar. To close, here's a different plot thickening portent, one that has to do with the altogether alive.

Wave was the nickname Fish used to refer to her otherwise personally never-named four year old. King Achigan [Auranja], the Bandradin-descended Summoning Child who nominally ruled Godbad, albeit via his older relatives and their advisers, called her Winifred, which meant much the same thing.

In terms of birthdays, Wave was born in late 5933, which was early 1934 on the Outer Earth. The Magdalene's Thea was born some months earlier, on April 13, 1933 to be precise. As it happened this was the same day, Good Friday out there, that Aranyani Nightingale and Gloriella D'Angelo were born in Rome.

By contrast, Sorciere's Shahiyeda was born on what was the Autumnal Equinox of '34 on both sides of the Dome. Fish had been there and so had Morgianna Somata, Master Kyprian's great granddaughter and Nereid's fellow student at the Mariamnic Sisterhood's Twilight Institute in Tenebrife-Knockma. The former had left the infant Wave with her dad in Godbad in order to go looking for Morg while the latter was doing exactly the same thing Sorciere was doing at the time. Giving birth!

So, have the Trigregos Sisters finally been reborn? A better question might be: Did Aortic Magdalene have a reason, other than it sounded nice, for calling her daughter Thea? I'm going to answer 'yes' to the second question. I'm going to go further than that. I'm going to say that, like yours and mine do or did, Thea's mom wants the best for her daughter (or son).

And, if the best for her daughter is to be a Great Goddesss Incarnate, might she not want to eliminate potential competitors such as little girls from other verifiable threesomes? Could that be why 'War Famous' (in life Louise nee Riel St Synne) didn't bring Shah to Shenon? For fear its lamia of an Aortic might be feeling somewhat peckish?

That's why I keep writing, and you keep reading, the PHANTACEA Mythos. Answers may sometimes be slow in coming but come they do, eventually.

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3. The Vampire Variations: "Grave Gravy"

So why did I refer to Aortic Magdalene as one of the weirdest of all the Weird's many wraiths? Perhaps I should properly identify her before I answer that.

In life she was Mary Magdalene born Ryne become Mandam (old Joe's wife). As first detailed in Manoeuvres and as repeated, howsoever suggestively and howsoever often, in its continuations (Helioddity and Curse), she died on April 13, 1933. That would be the same day, Good Friday out there, and probably to the second, that Aranyani Nightingale and Gloriella D'Angelo were born in Rome.

That the Magdalene died giving birth to Thea we've already determined. She wouldn't be a lamia if she hadn't. That Thea's was a phantom pregnancy, and the Magdalene had herself a phantom midwife (Granny Garuda), that was detailed in VamVar-1 and will be reconfirmed in VamVar-5. If a phantom pregnancy and a phantom midwife don't qualify her as one of the world's weirdest wraiths, I'll eat my weird-writer credentials -- with salt!

A Fino's Mary Magdalene, photographed in Puno, Peru, by Jim McPherson, 1998Jesus Mandam may have been her Summoning Child. So too might have been Virginia Mannering. Even though she looked somewhat like her mother, Athena born Kinesis, Barsine Mandam probably wasn't her daughter. Beyond that I don't care to comment at this time.

"Magdalene?" asked Solace born Sunrise.

"Mother Mary?" queried Barsine Mandam.

"Lady Lamia, Sandbar," Fish corrected young Mandam.

"I plead guilty to everything but the maudlin Mother Mary bit," said the ghostly newcomer. "Sorry, Sunshine. Sorry to you too, Scylla. As for your mother, Solace, War Famous has taken your Shahiyeda to what she considers safety."

"So Scar told us. Where?"

"To a devic protectorate. To your actual mother I'm assuming, Barsine. To Moorset -- to Olympias nee Sangati Kinesis!"

That confirms that then. Shouldn't need to remind you what Olympias will have become or why, at the top of the page, I've scanned in Gericault's 'Le Radeau de la Meduse' from a postcard I bought at the Louvre in Paris back in the late Spring of 2004. The mouse-over does read: "Barsine's birthmother, Olympias Sangati Kinesis, is a Lamia Medusa" after all.

So what else should I tell you? Well, for one thing, the Magdalene would like the girl she brought up as her own, even though she looked nothing like supposed brother Jesse, to stay with her on Shenon, where she can look after her. Hmm ...

"What of it, Sunshine? Even if you go back outside, Fangs'll track you down sooner or later."

[NOTE: Fangs, more correctly Second Fangs, is the aforementioned Janna Fangfingers, the Marutian-born, vampiric overlord of vamps in both Hadd and New Iraxas. The assumption the Magdalene's making is that Fangs isn't about to give up her overlordship voluntarily.]

"How'll she know I'm the one who has Vetala?"

"She'll know. Trust me on that too. Shenon's a fortress. As much as it frustrates me I'm already bringing Aths [Athenan War Witches] over from their Ventricle to reinforce my Ants [Antheans]. You'll be safest here."

"You said I was the trap. I took that to mean you think I can handle her. Why's that? I've no training."

"The Nergalid [Nergal Vetala] won't let Fangs take you. Sorry, but it's as simple as that. The greater danger to you is ambush. As much as she'd like to turn you, make Vetala her own selfmade-vamp, Fangs'll have no qualms about hiring assassins to shoot you down in cold blood, if you'll pardon the pun."

In part because Barsine's picking up what might be termed 'bad vibes' from the Magdalene, she opts to stick with Fish and Sorry. It's Fish that starts this exchange. She's questioning the eating habits of lamiae. The Magdalene responds with a bit more humour. It helps to keep lamiae human, she claims.

"You don't inhume whole souls, I hake-take it."

"Just a smidgen. We may be wyrms but we peck like pigeons. Wouldn't want to take in whole souls anyhow. They don't grow on trees, you know? Well, maybe you don't but take my word for it. Otherwise even vegetarians would eventually starve to death." [As already established, in life the Magdalene was a vegetarian. Members of the life-loving Sisterhood of Flowery Anthea rarely eat meat.]

"There is that, I grant you," granted Fish. "Well, thanks all the same for the hospitality, but I'm off. Got a Wave to catch."

"So've I," said Sorciere. "As in a daughter to catch up to."

"Sunshine?" asked the Magdalene.

"Sorry, mom. If you don't mind me still calling you that?"

"Not at all, darling."

"Good. Wonder what my real mom will call me once I meet her?"

"You're going looking for Olympias too?"

"We're going looking for Shahiyeda, as I comprehend it. Seems Shah's with War Famous who's with ... what does Olympias mean?"

"Something to do with the mountain, I guess," ventured Sorciere. "Unless it's the Games."

"Mountain Games doesn't have quite the ring to it that War Famous does, but who am I to complain?"

"Go then. And with my blessings." allowed the Magdalene magnanimously. "Truth told, I didn't relish the notion of having a mini war between the Living and Dead right here in my own Aorta."

"No, I guess you wouldn't, mom. You might end up choosing the wrong side."

So it is our Semi-Sisters Three leave Shenon, via Delphi, Fish's psychopomp, albeit not until the next day. (It's always better to travel in daytime when you're trying to avoid vamps and possibly untrustworthy lamiae.) They go to the Isle of the Undying One, aka Tympani, in the midst of Sedon's Ear, where Fish is determined to leave Sorry and Bat-Bait until she has time to go and gather up her Wave over in Godbad.

If you're afraid you're going to miss her and her famous 'fishisms', not to worry, she'll be back; if not here then in that whole other set of variations currently being serialized out here on the Web. In the meantime, while on the subject of humour and by way of a howsoever temporary goodbye, what follows is a highly portentious excerpt featuring Fish fishifying at its opening and closing.

Shot of a Pig with Flapping Wings and Wheels,  taken by Jim McPherson in Dublin, Ireland, 2005"Unlikely's more likely, though the shoal. Life-loving Ants fish-hooked up with Haddazur Zombies and Barsine here is all the bat-bait the witches needed to snag Fangs' cooperation. Machiavelli couldn't have come scupper-up with anything better."

"You're trying real hard not to be convinced."

"If pigs could fry-fly ..."

"Yeah?" Sorciere interrupted. Couldn't resist saying: "Pigs could fry-fly if they were bitten by a vamp."

"Porcine bats," groaned young Mandam. "What a totally disgusting notion!"

"Shell-come to the Headworld, Barstool."

Who's the real villain in all of this so far? Don't be too sure it's the Magdalene. Better to be a goose and have a gander at one of my mini-essays then come back to me, via email, and venture an opinion. Myself, I'll be reading ahead.

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4. The Vampire Variations: "Tympanic Memories"

Should state at the outset that the 'tympanic' in the title refers to Eardrum Island. It's in the midst of the Aural Sea, Sedon's Ear on a map of the Hidden Headworld. As for the'memories' bit, that's because, among the many absent folks discussed herein, do include Memory of the Angels, whom we last encountered in Kore-15 alongside a certain crow creature, also discussed.

Guess that means most of those discussed will be reappearing shortly. Maybe yes, maybe no. Wouldn't want to speculate, would I?

Even though nothing much happens, I have to admit I rather enjoyed re-reading 'Tympanic Memories'. You should too, if you haven't done so already. It's one of those heavy-on-the-humour, treading-water while you catch-your-breath kind of chapters.

There's enough in it, though, that by its end we should be licking our collective fangs (as in smacking our lips anticipatorily) in the near-certain realization it'll soon be dogs-of-war time. I know I was and I wrote it.

Treading water's an apt metaphor since VamVar-4 features Sorciere and Barstool waiting for the ever-fishifying Fish to return to Tympani, via Delphi, with her small fry, Winifred aka Wave. As they do so, a minimum of ten days pass.


They're sleeping " ... in the makeshift, but splendidly sturdy seaside tepee the Neolithic fashioned for them out of rounder and much thicker than necessary logs, as well as vines seemingly strong enough to throttle a bull." Barsine reckons their dwelling serves a purpose other than keeping the two of them out of the rain and cold of late winter on Tympani. She's right about that (obligatory hint being in the masthead) but she's wrong about Sorciere maybe having designs on her.

"If you're afraid you'll wake up with Vetala sleeping beside you, forget it. I'm not that kind of girl."

"That's even more disgusting than porcine bats."

"Sorry, Sorry. Wasn't meant as a suggestion. Just a joke."

If you're starting to think the whole chapter's full of suggestive remarks re Barsine entering into sexual relations, you're not even close to being a 100% wrong. Here's another one ...

"Mariamnics aren't quite so restrictive, I gather."

"Things are different in Twilight. Krepusyl Evenstar, the Queen of Shades, is as fucking crazy, literally, as All-Eyes, Byron's Love Goddess, is and the Mithradite, Lady Lust, was before your pal Chaos, when he was altogether a devil and not a devic suicide, cathonitized her. One of its cities is even called Venusberg."

"Shades, as in pull down the ..."

"And get cooking? Among other things. Not much else to do in such a bleak place after you've squeezed out your supper. Besides, it's full of fucking faeries and they're nothing if not fickle."

"Fickle, fuckle, I got you.

NOTE: Mariamnics are witches schooled in fay ways over in Crepuscule, Sedon's Outer Nose, which is where the first four chapters of 'The Volsung Variations' took place. Sorciere has been telling Barsine that members of the life-loving Sisterhood of Flowery Anthea, especially under their longtime Inner Earth superior, Kyprian Somata, the Master of Weir, tend to regard having sex for reasons besides procreation as an unnecessary distraction to their real task, which is the preservation, not the engendering, of life in all its diversity.

One more ...

"Unholy Abaddon likes me."

"Unholy's right; as you'd best be as well. I'd watch out for him if I were you, Sunshine. I'm not much on devic history but I'm pretty sure Chaos and Vetala have an, um, history. Of the amorous variety. Which is precisely what you don't want to renew."

Plenty more where that came from in VamVar-4. The point being Sorciere reckons the minute Barsine becomes sexually active (as in un-wholly) Nergal Vetala will usurp control of their joint being.

After all, before she intentionally became a vampire circa 5500 YD, devils addressed Vetala as 'Fecundity' didn't they? And well they might: Evidently wanting nothing to do with the tedious progression of 9-month gestation periods, she did give birth, to multitple azura spirit beings, every month on the night of the full moon for something like 3500 years.

Not saying Sorry's reckoning is bang on but, hey, how often do you get a whole chapter in a PHANTACEA novel that's brimming over with not-very-subtle double entendres and blatant sexual innuendo? Not often enough, you might answer, and you might be as bingo-bongo about that as the Neolithic thinks she is about her co-tepee-dweller. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed re-reading it so much.


Graphic as it sometimes gets, it's all talk. So's this -- and, for about the only time in VamVar-4, the dialogue's not between our two identically aged, to the the day if not necessarily the minute, Semi-Sisters Three. Shouldn't need to tell you who it is between, or who they're speaking about, should I?

"She's Sorciere's, eh?"

"Which makes her my granddaughter, Ophiomedea. So don't get any bright ideas."

"At this time of night, Famous? Heaven forefend!"

So, as we accordingly discover pre-end-chapter, Ophiomedea (Medea born Tauri, become Annulis, but always Ararat), Sorciere's avowed enemy since 6 weeks ago in Rome (on the 12th of January 1938, to be absolutely precise), is in the same place as Sorry's Shah and Sorry's ma, Lamia Lou.

That'd be the same snake-suckling Medea Barsine was brought up to regard as her distant cousin (via her father's long dead twin sister, Rhea Sangati) but, it turns out, is actually her aunt? Yep. Furthermore, as she discusses at some length with Barsine (by way of me cleverly sneaking in some pertinent back-story alongside all their sex talk), that'd be the same, once lamia-whipping Medea Sorciere once tried to shoot dead, in the head, before she got back to the Head, wouldn't it? It would be indeed.

And, just by the by, isn't Sorciere packing all sorts of weaponry, guns and suchlike, between-space in her bottomless bag or kibisis; stuff she's demonstrably useless at using but, because Mystery Might trained her as a Hellion, which was why Battlescar wanted to keep on training her, albeit as a vampire-abolishing War Witch, Barsine is?

True enough, they [Barsine and her Malanthean Minoan relatives] were anarchists; Etocretan Extremists according to even Granny Garuda. Carried guns as easily as some people carried groceries, yes. Had about as many qualms about using them, in the right place, as many another person had about pissing outdoors, as the need hit, yes again. But so what?

Have a click. Have a second. Have a third and a fourth. Welcome back.

... no other temporal triplets managed to pass the Totem Pool test in years subsequent. Many tried, been tried, but none were confirmed. Didn't mean that none would ever be, however.

Next batch of girl-children just had to wait until they were on the cusp of turning seven, though. That was because the last batch of potential Trigregos Identified had, as usual, failed the test something like six months earlier.

One of these last three was Ophiomedea's youngest [Theope = Divine Face]. Youngest in terms of those born, not in terms of those left. Medea of the Ararats was as much a mother as Sorciere. And, if one of Sorciere's had to be sacrificed for the betterment of one of hers, so be it.

So be it even if it meant sacrificing her sister first!

Stop licking those fangs (I mean lips) and keep on reading is my best advice to you.

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5. The Vampire Variations: "Rafting Towards Medusa"

Just to, semi-sort-of-as-usual, confirm something hinted at earlier:

"You're welcome to wait for Fish if you want ... But, faerie-food-fed, aquiline ace-in-the-hole or no, I'm heading across the pond come morning. Won't be using agates either. Except to get away."

"How then?" [Barsine Mandam demanded of Solace nee Sunrise]

"Don't know much about tepees, do you?"

"Enough to know these logs are a lot thicker and heavier than any ordinary tepee needs. Same goes for the vines. Shouldn't even need them to keep it up. You've been thinking about this for awhile now, haven't you? Gathering all the pieces you'll need."

"Right you are again. I'm rafting to Moorset."

"Regular raft of Medusa."

"You think Olympias could be a Medusa?"

"Raft of Medusa is a painting I saw in the Louvre when I was bee-bopping around Europe on agates using Ali Ars Markazi's bankroll. Don't ask me why it's called that but it seemed appropriate. You're always calling Medea a fucking gorgon and Olympias is her sister."

As per here, I've had this problem before. As per here, I've also been wrong before. In this pieced-together case, though, Sorciere's only 'intuiting', to use her word:

"... Say for a second it wasn't the D'Angelos she [Ophiomedea] was sicking her lamiae on; what's so special about any of the other kids who were staying there, -- Aranyani Nightingale, the Dre'Aths' Baby Betty?"

"That presupposes [Aunt] Medea was sicking them on someone."

"So? Presuppose it ... How about, even if she was holding their reins, the lamiae led her there, -- not the other way around?"

"So, now you're proposing that, independent of Medea, the lamiae were on a mission of their own."

"Of murder, yes ..."

"Aran and Gloriel?"

"Could be Great Goddesses."

"Two out of three."

"Thea makes three ..."

"Maybe. We won't know for sure until they turn seven and, on that day, are dipped in the Totem Pool. Except I'm, all right, 'thinking' a dot-ditto about my Shah. She was born on the same day and at the same second Morgianna's Tsishah was. Same place too."

"And Marcello's about the same age as them. But about isn't good enough. Has to be precise, right? Besides, he's a boy."

"Unless he's a Marcia. There is such a thing as second skin ... [and] your Mother Mary knows it too. So did Hush and Granny; maybe even Fish and Ophiomedea as well."

"Which, according to you anyhow, was why my [Aunt] Medea singled out the D'Angelos' villa for her lamiae's full moon feast."

"Got to be three. Not either one nor two. Can't be just a solitary Great Goddess."

As for all that lips-anticipating, dogs-of-war action, here's a sample of it.

The Jaag chain of islets separating the Head's Interior Ocean of Akadan from Sedon's Ear were supposedly surrounded by whirlpools, crashing rocks, sea monsters that considered sharks snacks and whales cattle, and airborne, predatory rocs, rokhs, or living gargoyles that were only legendary in terms of their appetites.

There was no supposedly about the Aural Sea ...

"Hopefully that scared them off," said Barsine as she lowered the sharpshooter's rifle. "What were they?"

"Rocs, I think."

"Rocks can't fly."

"Living gargoyles can. And your bullets certainly bounced off them as if they were rocks."

"Got one in the eye I think. Must be a fleshy bit."

"Not as much as we are."

Finally ...

Sorciere tapped her on the shoulder, pointed to her ears, and said something. Barsine was no dumb blonde. Wasn't even a dumb brunette. She removed the cotton wads.

"It's a manatee."

"No need to shout."

"Had me fooled." Sorciere lowered her voice. "A manatee. Order Sirenia. As in siren."

"Wait a minute. Manatees were what was singing?"

Barsine gets an arsenal, cotton ear-wads, gunfire, grenades, rocs, sharks, manatees, sirens singing, big waves, on an inland sea prone to overflowing with monstrous inhabitants, what else do you want? How about a quicksilver-quick devil looking for a pillow?

Top of Page -- or -- Onwards

Synopses of VamVar 1-5

Synopsis of VamVar 6-9

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Graphical Clickbacks

[Collage for PHANTACEA on the Web, done on Photoshop by Jim McPherson, Year 2002]Gericault's 'Le Radeau de la Meduse', scanned in from a postcard bought at the Louvre, Paris, 2004; Barsine's birthmother, Olympias Sangati Kinesis, is a Lamia MedusaA Fino's Mary Magdalene, photographed in Puno, Peru, by Jim McPherson, 1998[SHOT FROM AN EGYPTIAN SARCOPHAGUS IN VIENNA, 1996]Shot of a Pig with Flapping Wings and Wheels,  taken by Jim McPherson in Dublin, Ireland, 2005A raven's head such as Manitoulin has on his walking stick, scanned in from a postcard bought at the Louvre Museum, Paris 2004A mask that reminds me of Shamanitoulin, photo by Jim McPherson

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Cliffhead spotted and shot by Jim McPherson in Turkey, 2003Page background is a whitened, then lightened even more, cliffhead spotted and shot in Hasankeyf, Turkey, by Jim McPherson, the creator/writer of the Phantacea Mythos, in 2003. It reminded him of a Tyrannosaurus, but he's somewhat pixilated after all these years writing phantacea-related material.

Another shot taken from the Roman ruins high atop the plateau of Hasankeyf is here. Many more cliffheads can be seen in the series of FAQs posted here and here. The Tyranno Cliff features as the background of Coyote Nine: "Coyotes of a Conundrum is a good name for a FAQ page" while the Hasan House Head shows up on the mockup cover for "Decimation Damnation" .

- Double-click image in this panel in order to open background gif in a separate window -
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