Architects of Illusion (Echoes of Olympus, #1): Chariot of Aurora

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 library’s Pellegrini ceiling painting, The Chariot of Aurora (where there is, in fact, a rooster) click HERE! Want to read more? Visit my A to Z “Sneak Peeks” page!


Chariot of Aurora

TARIRO EDGED closer, transfixed by the swirling ball of magic dangling from my neck. “Your teleo…it’s beautiful. I’ve never seen one like it.” She reached for the crystal, twirling it between her fingers. The storm clouds pitched and rolled within, igniting tiny silver sparks. Tariro’s sea-glass eyes lit up, her lips curving with delight. “You must have been someone quite special.”

It’s a surreal notion, referring casually to one’s previous lives when I’ve yet to find purchase in my current one.

Before I could reply, an ethereal figure threw open the library doors in a flock of doves, her trailing gossamer gown unfurled like feathery wings. “I am Calliope, your headmaster. Welcome to my domain,” she announced, her arms outstretched to encompass Delphi’s mountain of words in ancient bindings, their stale breaths bound between the pages.

A red bantam rooster, who apparently lost sight of his proper place, hopped onto the edge of a large ceramic bowl depicting a five-fingered Chinese dragon, scaring me half to death.

My attention snapped back to the Muse of epic literature moving fluidly about the room. Like a Native American princess, her radiant caramel skin and startling violet eyes glowed with wisdom. A feather-adorned raven river cascaded down her back, pooling at bare feet. She gestured towards the soaring ceiling, reverently. “Here, you shall discover who you once were, who you are, and who you shall become!”

I followed her gaze to the painted scene above.

Beyond the intricate Grecian columns, the light of learning penetrated the billowing clouds of an open sky where angels welcomed the dawn, flowing robes and feathers dancing in the wind.

I felt a sharp prick on the tender flesh of my wrist. The chicken, enamored with my shiny silver-plated band, pecked away with abandon, determined to draw blood. I shooed him away with a flap of my highly irritated hand. In a not-so-subtle batting of wings and squawks, the rooster flew up to the pictorial balcony and landed, astonishingly, atop one of its pillars, its plumage transformed into painted canvas. My mouth hung open as oil-glazed women leaned over and waved, their laughter trickling down in the space between myths and magic.


© 2014 Samantha Redstreake Geary


PHENOMENA Cover PHENOMENA’s EPIC HEROES CONTEST

Open Internationally!

Create an original Superhero story and/or artwork for a chance to WIN amazing prizes, including PUBLICATION in the first ever audiomachine companion ebook!

Click HERE for more details.

 

Vengeance (Part Three of Revenant)

ev01_by_Jungshan

ev01 by JungShan

My excerpt for Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday. Click on over to these talented writers to preview some amazing stories!

A dark twist on the origins of the tooth fairy. To read part one: Revenant part two: Thodia

Featured Artist:JungShan

Inspiring Soundtrack: James Newton Howard – The Bad Color – The Village Soundtrack

Thodia

The king, in his desperate attempt to save his daughter’s life, condemned her spirit to an eternity of darkness. His mind, poisoned with rage, devised a sinister plan to exact his revenge against the Gods by striking down their mortal children.

The nefarious intentions of the king were carried out by the reluctant revenant, her will bound to the talisman held fast within his relentless grip.

With each tooth she stole from under the slumbering forms of the kingdom’s youth, his power over their mortal souls grew. The king’s thirst for vengeance drained the land of hope, his plague ripping the essence from their innocents.

This is how I became a ghost of the girl I once was, the shell of my humanity slowly crumbling under my growing hatred.

I despise the monster my father has become – the monster he’s made of me.

It is time for his reign of terror to end…

_________________________________

© 2013 Samantha Redstreake Geary

I appreciate feedback, so comment, critique or just banter to your heart’s content! Should you leave a really awesome comment, I may share my fair-trade, shade-grown, bird-sanctuary, organic coffee with you:) Or, if you leave a link to your site, I can just pop in and say something witty after polishing off a cup or two!

Thodia (Part Two of Revenant)

revenant_wallpaper_by_samuraichopstick-d380oc5

Revenant by Laura Ferreira

My excerpt for Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday. Click on over to these talented writers to preview some amazing stories!

A dark twist on the origins of the tooth fairy. To read Part One, click on Revenant.

Featured Artist:Laura Ferreira

Inspiring Soundtrack: James Newton Howard -Death Favors No Man – Snow White & the Huntsman

Thodia

The tale of my origin spread across the lands, spilling from the lips of mortal parents into the eager ears of their gullible young. Over the centuries my legend adapted – keeping to the oral tradition of storytelling – it evolved farther away from truth.

The truth is not nearly as lyrical.

Millennia ago, on the island of Crete, there lived a fearful king whose youngest daughter was drowned in the Aegean Sea by a vengeful sea god. The king, mad with grief, petitioned the Gods for the means to resurrect his lost child. An oracle was charged with the task of creating a revenant that would enable her spirit to return from the grave.

Though the young girl’s life had been restored, the frightening entity showed little resemblance to the king’s beloved child.

Her innocent soul, pulled from peace and poisoned with dark magic, was imprisoned in the body of a monster.

_________________________________

© 2013 Samantha Redstreake Geary

I appreciate feedback, so comment, critique or just banter to your heart’s content! Should you leave a really awesome comment, I may share my fair-trade, shade-grown, bird-sanctuary, organic coffee with you:) Or, if you leave a link to your site, I can just pop in and say something witty after polishing off a cup or two!

Revenant

Soul_horizon_by_Jungshan

Soul Horizon
by Jungshan

My 150 word epic poem for Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday. Click on over to these talented writers and preview some amazing stories!

Featured Artist: JungShan

Inspiring Soundtrack: Javier Navarrete – Long, Long Time Ago – Pan’s Labyrinth

Throughout the centuries, across cultures, a superstition pervades the minds of parents who bury the lost teeth of their young. They believed, should the teeth fall into the wrong hands, their children would be cursed…

King Minos

Millennia ago, in the Aegean Sea
Darkness swallowed the best part of me
Stolen away by the unforgiving tide
My child
My soul
Lost across the divide

Through ancient magic, trinkets and bone
A new form called her spirit home

Born of a Mediterranean horseshoe bat fang
Across her back, dark wings now hang
Enabling her fingers and toes to elongate
Shaping her ears to shift and navigate

Forged from a tiger shark’s tooth, pliable bones emerge
Camouflaged skin and keen senses surge
A predator’s speed and agility thrive

Fire opals keep her heart alive

Owl feathers open her eyes to night
Enlightening her mind and heightening insight

Ancient copper coins conduct energy
Creating treasures and promoting lethargy

Her first lost tooth, the innocence of a child
Restores beauty, youthful and wild

Charged with the task of collecting their essence
Their children
Their souls
Lost to my vengeance

_________________________________

© 2013 Samantha Redstreake Geary

I appreciate feedback, so comment, critique or just banter to your heart’s content! Should you leave a really awesome comment, I may share my fair-trade, shade-grown, bird-sanctuary, organic coffee with you:) Or, if you leave a link to your site, I can just pop in and say something witty after polishing off a cup or two!

Wings of Icarus

Steampunk Icarus Wings

Steampunk Icarus Wings
by Thin Gypsy Thief Studios

The ancient Greek myth of Icarus with a Wild West Steampunk twist – My first Steampunk attempt!

Dirty Goggles Blog Hop                * Fan Favorite Winner!
Title: Wings of Icarus
Word Count: 696
Author: Samantha Redstreake Geary
Category: Wild West Steampunk 

Inspiring Soundtrack: In Time – Choral Theme

I am trapped inside the belly of the beast as it claws its way through the desolate deserts of the Diné, a home I can no longer see through the smoldering breath of this iron horse. The greedy goliath devours the steel tracks with unparalleled speed, the distance between me and everything I’ve ever known, growing with each relentless bite.

Several days have passed since I was ripped from my people by the mad architect of this monstrosity. My father, Captain Daedalus, staked his claim over me following the death of my mother. His reasons remain a mystery.

Once a Navajo slave of General Minos, mother had fallen under the spell of the Captain, who promised a life of freedom to her and their unborn child. But freedom came with a price he was unwilling to pay. She escaped, shortly after I was born, and found solace within her tribe, but remained as unforgiving as the desert heat.

In the years that followed, Mother had grown weary with fear. She had visions that haunted her dreams and plagued her days. It was written in the stars, she said, that he would charge into my life on a seething steed and steal me away from the spirit of this serene land.

I was to be trained, by the fiercest of our clan, to be a warrior.

After completing my spirit path, the seer presented me with a new name, Icarus, “guardian of the sky”. Mother fashioned me an eagle fetish, a great honor among our people. A symbol of both healing and hunting, eagles are the messengers to the Gods, harboring great power while maintaining balance. It was intricately carved from translucent chrysocolla, the vivid blue-green swirls representing the skies. A cerulean azurite stone, sharpened into an arrowhead, was secured to its wings with copper wire.

The eagle was a talisman of protection, a reminder of my heritage and the only thing left of my mother.

Loss and rage bite into my palm as their grip tightens.

Imprisoned within the Labyrinth, a fearsome structure of cold metal designed by an even colder heart, I stare at my captor with barely concealed contempt as we wait outside the General’s chambers.

“Come now child, it can’t be all bad! I’ve rescued you from squalor, put a shiny roof over your head and decent food in your belly and all I get for my troubles is the evil eye,” the Captain huffs, clearly put-out that I’m not grovelling at his feet.

“You kidnapped me from my family, stripped me of my freedom and locked me up like one of your dogs!” I spit.

“You have your mother’s spirit, no doubt about that!” he sneers, “but take care to keep your tone more civilized, lest you find yourself sharing quarters with the swine.”

An intimidating guard opens the door to a lavish apartment, “The General is ready to see you now. Leave the savage here,” he glares in my direction. A cloud of tobacco wafts through the cracked door into the hall,  carrying their voices on a spicy scent that stings my nose.

“Captain, we took a very expensive detour to collect your, err, property. I hope, for your sake, the native rat is as valuable as you claim,” General Minos warns, “I’ve gone to great lengths to fund this contraption – I expect you to deliver what was agreed upon!”

“The Labyrinth is the technological achievement of the age, sir. This modern steam engine is impervious to attack and the weapon I’ve secured within its bowels holds the key to our domination. We need her to control the Minotaurs, General. I assure you, she is worth every penny,” the Captain boasts.

I strike both guards down with the venom-tipped cactus spines concealed in my fetish. Instinct urges me to grab a set of wooden wings off the wall and secure it to my back, unsure of the complicated mechanism. I push through the tiny window and climb out, grabbing hold of the bars leading to the top of the speeding behemoth.

The metal cylinder between my shoulder blades hums to life as I flip the switch.

I spread my wings and jump.
_________________________________

© 2013 Samantha Redstreake Geary

I appreciate feedback, so comment, critique or just banter to your heart’s content! Should you leave a really awesome comment, I may share my fair-trade, shade-grown, bird-sanctuary, organic coffee with you:) Or, if you leave a link to your site, I can just pop in and say something witty after polishing off a cup or two!

Rising (Part 5 of Kore)

Phoenix_risingHermes enlists the help of Aphrodite to resurrect Kore.

Aphrodite entered the apartment at Vanderbilt’s School of Medicine in the dead of night.
“I just left the social event of the year to placate your ego Hermes. Someone better be dying!” Aphrodite snaps.
“Someone already has,” Hermes whispers, stepping aside to reveal the ravaged remains of Kore. “Aides sent Cerberus to hunt her down for betraying their arrangement. I believe you know Asclepius.”
“Why haven’t you brought her back?” Aphrodite accuses, horrified.
“The damage is beyond even my healing ability. Kore needs regeneration,” Asclepius replies, defeated. “If you don’t save her, Aphrodite, she’ll be a prisoner of Aides’ underworld forever. He’ll own her soul.”
“Why the concern for Kore’s spirit?” Aphrodite asks, suspicious.
“She left Aides to be with me…I intended to save her. Now, she’s beyond my reach,” Asclepius cries.
“I love her, Aphrodite. Isn’t that enough?” Asclepius pleads.
“You can ask her that yourself, when she rises.”

__________________________________

© 2013 Samantha Redstreake Geary

Harbinger (Part 4 of Kore)

Harbinger-Game-BoxshotZeus sends Hermes to call off Cerberus’ attack on Kore before it’s too late. 

Hermes was not looking forward to calling off this particular dog.

Aides’ tri-headed mutt, Cerberus, was stubborn at best, a glutton at worst.

He tracked the hungry beast to Vanderbilt’s School of Medicine in Nashville. A hellhound set loose in the middle of campus was a logistics nightmare, not to mention the tricky business of finding its intended prey in time.

Then he heard it.

An unearthly growl.

Hermes tore down the sidewalk, praying to Zeus he was not too late.

But his sister, Kore, was already torn between three sets of razor-edged teeth, covered in crimson gore.

Hermes shouted a furious command, banishing the monster back to its lair.

Kore’s injured lover cradled her broken form to his blood-stained chest, his wrenching sobs pierced with agony.

Hermes recognized him as the God of Medicine, Asclepius – ancient enemy of Aides for stealing his souls from the brink of death.

Asclepius can raise the dead.

There’s still hope.

__________________________________

© 2013 Samantha Redstreake Geary

 

 

Elixir of the Gods (Part 3 of Kore)

coffee-elixer-of-gods1Zeus reluctantly agrees to intervene in Aides’ quest for vengeance.

Figment’s The Goddess Inheritance Flash-Fiction Contest WINNER selected by Figment and author Aimée Carter!

“The tension in this piece leaps off the page, and the conflict feels so real and modern. Love Demeter’s strength and their back-and-forth!” –Aimée Carter

Zeus walks into the cafe, the air thick with fried bacon and coffee. He scans the crowd, shaking his head at the meals drowning in meaningless chatter. He spots Demeter near the window, her head bent over a stack of worn books, her hand stirring the contents of a steaming cup.

Zeus slides into the empty seat across from her. “Why do you waste your time reading that drivel?” he sighs.

Without so much as a glance, Demeter casually folds the pages on either side of the book inward, forming the shape of a heart. “I’m fond of Greek tragedies, they amuse me. This one’s about us, dear.”

“Skip the theatrics Demeter, why am I here?” Zeus asks, pinning an unsuspecting waiter with a disapproving glare.

“It’s the best coffee house in Nashville,” Demeter banters, “You’ll need a clear head if you’re to meet my demands before your precious mortals slowly starve to death.”

“If you’re referring to my brother’s recent domestic dispute with your conniving daughter, I can’t say it’s any of my business.” Zeus rises from his chair.

Demeter seizes his wrist. “OUR daughter is being hunted by your barbaric brother’s wretched beast!” she cries. “Kore could be killed by Aides’ pride and you’re just going to sit back and do nothing?”

If he intervened, Zeus would incur Aides wrath. If he sat idly by, Demeter would make good on her threat and destroy mankind’s prime sustenance.

Zeus concedes with a sharp nod, inwardly cursing Aides.

“Good,” Demeter grins, “You’re buying me coffee.”

__________________________________

© 2013 Samantha Redstreake Geary

Cerberus (Part 2 of Kore)

Cerberus-2005Cover by Popcorn Pictures

A wrathful Aides sends his loyal hellhound to fetch the defiant Kore and drag her back to his realm.

“Kore has defied me for the last time!” Aides spits angrily.

Winter has seized the dying earth in its icy grasp, and yet, Kore has not returned.

In over a millennia, she has never failed to take her place by his side in the underworld.

Now, he stands in a desolate parking lot in Nashville watching Kore escape through the glacial tempest with her lover. The irony of her fleeing past Athena’s temple only feeds the hungry beast of jealousy ripping its way through his core.

For thousands of years he has loved her, agonized over her, fought for her.

But he never found a way to win her love in return.

Her growing hatred has left no room for forgiveness.

And he will not forgive her transgression.

”Bring me Cerberus!” Aides orders his minion, “Kore’s consort should satisfy my hellhound’s appetite for live meat.”

__________________________________

© 2013 Samantha Redstreake Geary
 

Kore

no_regrets_Exper Giovanni Rubaltelli

Cover Art: no_regrets_Exper Giovanni Rubaltelli

Winter beckons Kore to return to the underworld, but she has other plans.

The biting wind tore through her, pushing and pulling, like a living thing. Kore knew Hades himself had sent it from the depths of hell to fetch her.
The sudden drop in temperature was a warning.
If she failed to return, all hell would break loose.
But this time, Kore had a reason to defy the possessive, thieving tyrant.

And what a handsome reason he was, the charming youth who stole her heart without resorting to brute force.

She was meeting him in Nashville, near the Parthenon entrance. The massive replica of her past towered over his slender form. He was pacing between the illuminated columns, anxiously waiting for her.

For the first time in a millennia, she felt true happiness.

And Kore was willing to fight whatever hell unleashed to keep it.

Flakes of snow began to drift between them, dusting the empty parking lot.

Time to run.

__________________________________

© 2013 Samantha Redstreake Geary