Architects of Illusion (Echoes of Olympus, #1): Appalachian Mountains

Castle in the Mountains by Gray Artus

Castle in the Mountains by Gray Artus

Welcome to Olympus, where the Muses of Greek Mythology are charged with the responsibility of discovering, inspiring, and guiding the young incarnations of legends past until they once again take the form of greatness.

Embark on an enchanting journey through Architects of Illusion (Echoes of Olympus, #1), a YA fantasy novel series inspired by my backyard neighbors, Biltmore Estate, in honor of George Vanderbilt‘s extraordinary legacy. 

Join me, and a cast of brilliant film composers, as we awaken your imagination to the magic of the mountains during this year’s international A to Z Challenge (representing #TeamDamyanti).

For a detailed PHOTO TOUR of Biltmore Estate, including the lovely Belgian draft horses, Chester & Bert, click HERE! Want to read more? Visit my A to Z “Sneak Peeks” page!

Appalachian Mountains

IT WASN’T a Pegasus that stole me away in the dead of night, like the twins had hoped. Nor was it a grand golden chariot. It was, in fact, an unremarkable pair of tawny Belgian draft horses that stomped impatiently on our dusty farmhouse drive. Wild eyes peeked beneath drapes of milky manes that poured down the length of their necks. Their heads were enormous, leaving ample room for an exceptional sense of direction, as noted by the empty driver’s seat.

I climbed reluctantly into the covered carriage of polished mahogany and gleaming brass, barely finding purchase on the velvet cushions before the clinking of chains and screeching of wheels announced our sudden departure.

Looking back, I could still see the silhouettes of my siblings. Their tiny hands pressed against the second story window, the sticky breath of their disappointment fogging the glass. I tugged my coat tighter, the collar still damp with my mother’s goodbye. I breathed in the whispers of woodsmoke lingering from my father’s embrace.

The steeds’ swift descent drove me through the verdant veins of the Southern Appalachians, deep into the heart of the mountains. My gut twisted in knots with every road that unraveled before me.

A brick archway materialized in a hidden grove, its slate tiles glinting in the starlight. My frantic pulse tripped and fell through the gates marking the boundary between my world and the birthplace of legends.

The spiraling path stretched for an eternity. A wave of shifting shadows in an endless sea of trees swam past, until abruptly breaking into a clearing shrouded in mist and mystery.


It was beyond anything I could have imagined.

I stumbled from the carriage, marveling at the beauty of my new home. My gaze traveled over the massive miracle of stone and steel, drawn by the winking of a hundred glass eyes and the towering spires spinning secrets from silken moonlight.

I barely registered the movement near my feet, where my luggage sat, neatly stacked. I turned to toss a word of thanks, only to catch a flash of the carriage being pulled into the night by two bare-chested men with long, fair locks falling over flesh that faded into the familiar hindquarters of horses.

© 2014 Samantha Redstreake Geary


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