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

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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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'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
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  1. Baltic Nightmares
  2. Double Trickster Trouble
  3. Glowing Gonads
  4. Scattered Brains
  5. Young Death and Uncle Abe Chaos
copyright © Jim McPherson (phantacea)
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1. COUERANNA'S CURSE: "Baltic Nightmares"

"Barsine Mandam's the vampire!" Valfreja Volsung could not believe her mother's words.

"Potential vampire, Freya," Hulga corrected her. "Etzel Sangati, Count Molech, was only a potential vampire, recall."

Freya's the golden-haired Volsung Summoning Child. Only newly become 17, she's been diagnosed as suffering from a terminal cancer. Her mother, Hulga Faust always Volsung, knows of her condition. Also knows she's carrying Count Molech's child. Count Molech, the stage name of Etzel Sangati, the Melanchlaeni Magician, was supposed to turn himself into a vampire, then turn Freya into one just as she was delivering his son. Won't happen now. Count Molech never got a chance to turn himself. He was killed in Rome two weeks earlier, on the 14th of January 1938. Barsine's among the members of the Galvin-Shekmet party who were lost in Africa toward the end of December 1937.

Besides her grey baby's likely incurable illness and no longer wanted pregnancy, that's something else that really annoys Horrid Hulga, as she's sometimes known. The Galvin-Shekmet party, which she partially funded, was in Africa, in the northeast corner of the Congo, searching for Cleopatra's Bath, the legendary Spring of Life or Fountain of Youth. She's pushing 60 and hates getting old. Medea Annulis, though, has offered her another solution, a dip in Aeson's Bath (from Ovid's 'Metamorphoses'). Hulga's not convinced Medea has all the ingredients. She's also not sure she wants to meet Medea's price. Forcing Freya to marry Medea's scatter-brained son, Apsyrtus, a Summoning Child like her Valfreja, seems too much to expect.

Freya and Hulga are staying at the von Alptraum estate on the Baltic Sea coast of Prussia. One of Hulga's two other daughters, Freya's much older half-sister Berchta, is married to the Baron Tyrtod von Alptraum ('von Alp'). Berchta is on Charan's Ark, the setting for some of the most important action found in 'Helioddity'. She's with her daughter by von Alp, Brunhild, the bronze-haired Volsung Summoning Child, and Sigurd, ostensibly Berchta's 7-year old son by Donar Lancz. (There's some suggestion Sigurd is actually Count Molech's son from a hundred moons earlier. The argument mitigating against that notion is Berchta didn't die having him.) Von Alp, an industrialist specializing in aerostatics (dirigibles and such like) is in Hamburg, where Hulga usually lives. Lancz, a higher-up in the Gestapo, someone reputedly close to Adolph Hitler, as is Hulga, lives in Berlin.

Hulga's other daughter, Astrid, born Faust, now von Blut, always Volsung, is also temporarily staying at the von Alptraum's estate. Her daughter, by Tyrtod von Blut, an officer in the German military and as such a veteran of the Spanish Civil War (one of Generalissimo Franco's German 'advisers'), is the silver-haired Volsung Summoning Child. Her name is Tanith. She, too, is on the Ark and, like her identically aged 'aunt', Valfreja, may be carrying Count Molech's child. Staying with Hulga, Astrid and Freya at the estate are the three Annulises: Medea, Summoning son Apsyrtus and her husband, his father, Jason. Doc Jay is a world renowned surgeon. He still has a faint hope of being able to cut out Freya's cancer. A very faint hope.

One of those staying there with the Annulises is Ramona 'Ray' Avar, 9, whose parents are still Rome. (Medea's slightly older sister, Ray's Mama Mata, born Sangati, become Avar, apparently attempted suicide on the Thirteenth and father Zygion Avar, who has relatives, including a sister, Rethra nee Avar Schroff, among the Germans associated with Hulga and the von Alptraums, has stayed behind to attend to Mata while she recuperates, assuming she does.)

Mata and Medea are gypsies. Their mother was the long dead Rhea, nee Ararat, become (Mrs Azrael) Sangati, who may have been Magister Joseph Mandam's sister. M+M's older sister was Olympias, born Sangati, become Kinesis, but always Ararat, who was last seen during the Simultaneous Summonings of 1920. Olympias was the mother of Megaera ('Hellion Grudge') now Zeross and Alexandros Kinesis (the Sorcerer's Apprentice, the Mithraic Persian, its Earth Magician), both of whom will be along as 'Coueranna's Curse' continues. Zygion is a now-impoverished Hungarian nobleman whereas Doc Jay is an Armenian who generally lives in Corinth, Greece.

The other person staying on the von Alptraum estate with the Annulises is Laodice Atreides. Yet another Summoning Child, Lao considers herself a Cretan, not a Greek. Her job is to look after Ray. Apsyrtus is in love with Lao, not with Freya. Unfortunately Lao is leaning toward Mesmer Hent, a Dutch-born Summoning Child she first met a couple of years before on Crete, which was when and where Mesmer's parents were killed caving. Now as good as an adopted von Alptraum, he too is staying on the estate with the Volsungs. Perhaps significantly everyone calls where they're staying Castle Nightmare.

There's a few others staying here as well. One is a misshapen, gnome-like hunchback by the name of Moses Callion. He's way older than even Hulga. Portrait of a little girl like Hush Mannering, Joli Blon,  information on artist lostLiving there with him is his reputedly orphaned, great grandniece from Quebec, Jolene. Nicknamed Hush or Joli Blon (Pretty Blonde), she's only seven years old. Freya likes to sleep with her. Hush makes her feel better. Hush has some secrets, however. So does Callion. So do a number of others either living or staying on the estate.

Two of Hush and Callion's secrets are boys.

The pretty blonde, apparent seven year old was playing hide and seek in the woods with the two recently-become teenage boys, the brats as she referred to them, when two identical-looking, dark-haired gypsy women in their mid-thirties approached her.

It was a good thing the brats were the ones doing the hiding because she was not quite sure what to make of these two and knew that, if she had no idea what to make of them, they would have even less. Hell, they'd only been teenagers for a few days, and that only a couple of years after being alive, whereas she had been a teenager for years and years. In fact she was a teenager when she was exactly the same age as Freya, seventeen years ago.

"Hello, mommies. Mind telling me which one of you is Mommy Medea? Or are you here just to piss me off?"

They did not tell her so much as show her. And they did not piss her off so much as made her wet her pants. Joli Blon should not have felt bad about that. Suddenly seeing a winged, hen-headed, demonic cockatrice and a skinny, red-skinned young woman, one without a trace of a face, where two Medea Annulises had just been standing, would have had that effect on a lot of folks, -- even faerie folks!

Whereupon things proceed to get even weirder.

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2. COUERANNA'S CURSE: "Double Trickster Trouble"

To review ...

Apsyrtus Annulis loves Laodice Atreides but she professes to prefer Mesmer Hent? Right, that's one love triangle. All three are 17-year old Summoning Children? So's Valfreja Volsung, Hulga's by far the youngest of three daughters. Her grey baby, the one that's both pregnant and dying of cancer? So far so good. Of the two Medea Annulises Joli Blon saw, the cockatrice demon was the real Medea? Call her Ophiomedea. While the faceless devil was actually possessing Cybele St Synne? That'd be Strife, Kore-Eris, Kore-Discord.

However, it's Cybele as Medea, -- not Ophiomedea as Medea --, who loves Medea's actual husband, Jason Annulis? Doc Jay, yes. Who's Apsyrtus's father and Valfreja Volsung's surgeon? That's the other love triangle. Except the real Medea, Ophiomedea, probably only loves herself. And earthborn demons hate skyborn devils? Have done since long before the Great Flood of Genesis. So they fight? That's this time up, Kore-Two. So, what else happens this time up?

Well, first of all, there's the matter of the overall title of this here opus: 'Coueranna's Curse'. You'll have heard of myrionymous Kore. Myrionymous just means 'many names'. But Kore is also many devils, all of whom were once one. One is Kore-Eris, Strife or Discord, -- she's the skinny, red-skinned faceless devil possessing Cybele St Synne when devil and demon fight. Another is Divine Coueranna herself. She's stuck in a prison pod, a Hellstone, concealed between-space, that Lao's mother Clymene, Mystery Might, gave her before letting Laodice go to Rome at the beginning of the month.

Cybele would much prefer having Kore-Concord possess her than Kore-Discord. As for the latter, Faceless Strife, she'd much prefer not having to possess anyone. She wants a body of her own and for a devil to have a body of its own they first have to have a Brainrock talisman, aka a devic power focus. Recall the Northern Tantalus, the Mithraic Treasury containing the goods and glories of Aesgardian gods and goddesses? Goods and glories, they're devic talismans. When last we saw it, in 'Helioddity', the supposedly magically sealed Tantalus turned out to be full of a kid's toys hidden by a glamour. Prevailing wisdom has it that its original contents are now concealed between-space by none other than our old, very youngish, pal from both 'The Moloch Manoeuvres' and Kore-One.

That'd be Hush Mannering, Jolene Callion, Joli Blon. She's the female trickster, Young Life. Kore-Two's title refers to two tricksters?

So it does. Number Two'd be Hush's Gush (the Voodoo Child, Aug the Dog, the male trickster, Augustus Nauroz, Auguste Moirnoir, Young Death to her Young Life, has also been an apparent seven year old for something like seventeen years). He was working for Sedon St Synne, who's now on Charan's Ark, which is currently winding its way through the Red Sea toward Mogadishu, in Italian Somaliland. Sed-son's with the Horny Ghost, the Celestial Spook, a featured character in both 'Manoeuvres' and 'Helioddity'.

In life known as both Celeste Mannering and Celestine D'Angelo, the Celestial Superior, she's occupying Berchta nee Faust von Alptraum, always Volsung, when he, Young Death, re-enters the Heliodyssey series of novels in Kore-Two. Re-enters, be forewarned, in his usual gruesome manner.

Sigurd Lancz was not prone to stigmata. He did not break out with bloody gashes in his hands, feet and side. Before Sed-son could slit the boy's throat, his chest burst open with three wounds inflicted from the back. They were not gunshot blasts, nor anything so mundane or even modern. He had been run through from behind with the spearhead spikes of a trident.

"Oh no," groaned St Synne, as arterial blood streaked out of Sigurd's chest and splattered him.

"Afraid so," snorted the Celestial Spook, as she tried to rub the instantly dried gore off Berchta's nightgown.

"Chaos!" sputtered the dead white boy. Then he was black. And grinning. And giggling. And terrified. "He wants the Northerners to have the Aesgard Treasury. Wants me to get it from Hush."

Except, and this must be stated early on in 'Curse', it turns out Gush's Hush was so traumatized by seeing the two Medea Annulises in Kore-1 she shocked herself into being just a regular 7-year old child. Unless she was that all along of course. Which she wasn't? Not in 'The Moloch Manoeuvres' anyhow. But that was then. This is 'Coueranna's Curse'. Speaking of which? Precisely. The fight between the devil and the demon, it gets resolved. In the process of which guess which three 17-year olds staying at Castle Nightmare realize their Summoning Heritage. Here's a hint. None of them are named Valfreja Volsung.

Here's the rest of it:

"I don't think she [Strife] left voluntarily. And if I [Cybele St Synne] were you [Medea Annulis] I wouldn't go looking for her. She'll be lurking in there [Shadowland, the Grey, the Weird, between-space], waiting for another Sed-daughter to pass through. I'll tell you one thing for free though, it won't be me."

"Not getting you. Why'd she leave?"

"Now that's pretty obvious. Your brilliant boy here [Apsyrtus Annulis] drove her out of me before you got back."

"How?"

"By scattering her brain of course."

And after that, at the risk of repeating myself, things can only get weirder. The main reason for that is because, before demon (Medea Annulis, the Ophiomedea Cockatrice) fought devil (Cybele St Synne, the Strife-possessed, overweight, two-toned redhead with different coloured eyeballs), they followed Jolene Callion through Shadowland to Moses Callion's underground laboratory beneath or beyond Castle Nightmare.

What they saw there were tubs upon tubs full of semi-glowing fluids. In two of them were the brats, a pair of seemingly twelve or thirteen year old boys. In another was a misshapen infant looking less than a month old. Ophiomedea knew what the tubs were right away. Strife, though, at least as Cybele-Strife, had never seen their like before. She knew what their purpose was, however. Moses Callion was making Utopian clones!

"The liquid's Cathonic Fluid," Ophiomedea telepathically informed the two-thing. "Essentially it's distilled Brainrock. Utopian clones don't always turn out [but] there's something else about the substance. Cathonic Fluid's a cure-all, -- a veritable Fountain of Youth as well. There's a catch, though. It only rejuvenates someone if you can find a devil willing to drip its blood into the tub."

Which would be ideal for Hulga Faust always Volsung, who would dearly love being young and golden-gorgeous again, just like Valfreja. After all, as you will recall, Horrid Hulga helped fund the Galvin-Shekmet party searching for Cleopatra's Bath (the Stream of Life or Fountain of Youth) and, in 'Manoeuvres', actually entertained the notion of enduring Aeson's Bath. Ideal if Kore-Eris had a body, that is. Which she, aka Strife, Discord, doesn't. Doesn't have a devic talisman or she would have. At least she reckons she would, though that could be wishful thinking on her part.

Hers, Strife's, was the Golden Apple of Discord, in case you haven't read your Greek Myths re the Judgement of Paris and Helen of Troy. Unfortunately for her, it, along with her daemonic body, was destroyed when she fled to freedom on the Outer Earth (by swimming through a Brainrock lava lake), in order to escape the Moloch Sedon's wrath, after the failure of Thrygragos Mithras's Crimson Conspiracy coming up to 2000 years earlier.

Presumably Kore-Concord still has hers, however. It's a little green, Brainrock apple. And she, Divine Coueranna, definitely has a body. Laodice's!

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3. COUERANNA'S CURSE: "Glowing Gonads"

There's action on no less than 4 fronts this time up, in Kore-Three: (1) Charan's Ark; (2) Hamburg, Germany; (3) the Black Sea estate of the Family von Alptraum; and (4) near Edinburgh, Scotland. On Charan's Ark, which is now steaming through the Red Sea toward Italian Somaliland, the Celestial Spook, aka the Horny Ghost (what's left of Celestine D'Angelo out here, Celeste Mannering on the Head), has been busy redacting the memories of everyone aboard.

What follows immediately is the version of events depicted towards the end of 'Helioddity' that, thanks to Cel-Spook, most everyone now believes is what really happened. The speaker is Tanith von Blut, the silver-haired Volsung. She's speaking to Jesus Mandam, Magister Mandam's only son. (Barsine Mandam, the potential vampire mentioned at the beginning of Kore-One is supposed to be his twin sister; certainly, even though they don't look at all alike, they were brought up as twins.)

"That's three-quarters of the problem, isn't it, Jess? No one remembers much of anything except calm seas and a pleasant voyage. Max [Maxwell Dre'Ath, Magus Maxius] and Will [William Tombstone, Kid Cemetery] don't remember wrestling in Aires [D'Angelo] and [John Sundown] Johnny's cabin, don't remember the floor giving way for no good reason, don't remember crashing into the games room, don't remember the fire already started by little Davy and Saul [Ryne], the one Brunhild [von Alptraum, the bronze-haired Volsung] and I supposedly put out using her clothes, and none of us, not even the Ryne brats, remember being rescued by Jerry [Jervis Murray, Dervish Furie] and Ginny [Virginia Mannering, Living Agate aka General Ginny Gemstone]."

Jesse doesn't buy it. He still thinks he died and rose from the dead three days later. Whereupon Tanith has an epiphany, recalls what really happened and as good as confirms that he did indeed die and rise from the dead three days later. Whereupon the Celestial Spook finally gets around to taking over Tanith (you can tell by the rainbow eyes) and speculates some more, to Jess, re whatever did happen to him. Could have been a number of things, she tells him. Also tells him that the titular Glowing Gonads refer to Old Joe's soul-sinks. (Which we knew from 'Helioddity' anyhow.)

Seems she's at the Magister's mercy. Seems Jesse's at her mercy. Seems Tanith's back to being Tanith before Cel-Spook can go all Horny Ghost on her, in her. Which annoys Jesse no end. Which is also why he takes to wearing sunglasses. (Cel-Spook doesn't just body bounce to folks of her own sex.)

********

Next stop is Hamburg, Germany. Turns out, appearances deceiving, as they often are what with so many wizards and witches abounding on the Outer Earth these days, Old Joe did not fly there. Rather, he did not fly there via a series of airplanes, like everyone else in his entourage did. Old Joe, in case you've forgotten, is Magister Joseph Mandam. We first encountered him, at least to a major degree, in the last chapter of 'Helioddity'. Aka the Mithraic Magus, he's Jesse and Barsine's father of record. [Even if they weren't twins, they were definitely born on the same day, December 25, 1920.]

Dragon, photo by Jim McPherson probably at Versailles, 1996Because [Magister] Mandam detested modern man's overcrowded, noisy, smelly, entirely unsafe, and plain unpleasant modes of long distance transportation, Fisherwoman, Scylla Nereid, the illusion-casting, partially-trained, life-loving Anthean (and fully trained Athenan War Witch), she with the gills behind her ears, had used a glamour to take his place on the planes. She, looking like him, had gone into the bathroom after the last one landed but it was he who came out of it. Fish and Delphi would not be faraway, though. Old Joe tended to rely on them. His Fetishim aspect had a different opinion of Delphi, however. Dragon Joe thought a roasted porpoise-pomp would make fine eating.

For all intents and purposes, at least for all intents and purposes at the beginning of 'Coueranna's Curse', old Joe's taken charge of proceedings. He's the one who left Cel-Spook to her tasks on the Ark. He's also the one who sent a different band of brave hearts to Scotland (as we'll get to momentarily). He's brought quite the group of individuals with him to Hamburg. Not all of them are supranormals; a few are Trinondev Warriors of Weir. Their leader is Golgotha Nauroz. He's a clone. There are some other, very much younger, clones in Germany. We've met them already. Furthermore, we're to understand they were cloned by the same method.

The other thing about Golgotha is that the Magister refers to him as his Heliodromus (sun-runner, messenger to the gods). We've met a couple of other Heliodromuses previously. One was a devil (Djinn-Ghoster); the other was Agenor Heliopolis, the leader of the Black Rose of Anarchism and the presumed father-to-be of the Male Entity, Heliosophos (Helios called Sophos the Wise, who's been going by Ulysses Heliopolis since 1909 and who, some believe, was shot to death, his 11th, by Agenor on Aegean Trigon). A Heliodromus is the next to top rung of the Mithrant Brotherhood. The top rung is the Pope or Patrum. Guess who's playing pope? The Mithrants' actual pope, as it happens. Seems another word for the Mithraic pope is Magister.

Although the Magister and his entourage came to Hamburg to mend Mithrant fences, the Trinondevs have a more pressing issue. They want ==>

********

Which brings us to Laodice Atreides, the object of so many people's desire. Truth told Lao doesn't appear this chapter. Neither does Hush Mannering, not even as Joli Blon. Hush's Gush does, though. So does one other, the same one other whose appearance at the end of Odd-15 ( which served as both Helioddity's epilogue and the prelude to 'Coueranna's Curse'). More on him momentarily.

First, to review again, Apsyrtus Annulis and Mesmer Hent fancy her, Lao, because she's so bright and darkly beautiful. Not to mention more than just slightly dangerous. Old Joe and the Trinondevs fancy whom they presume she has stuck in a prison pod, a Hellstone, concealed between-space. So does Cybele St Synne. The difference being the Trinondevs want to trade the prison pod containing Kore-Concord to Cruel Platoon, the Bull of Mithras, in order to get him to release their Master, Kyprian Somata, on Apple Isle. By contrast Cybele, Sedon St Synne's daughter, an overweight, though she prefers voluptuous, ever-ambitious, two-toned redhead, wants to take over the very same Kore-Coueranna so she can supplant the Bull and once again rule Ap Isle. Through Cybele, it should be made clear.

Strife (Marut Kanin, Kore-Eris, Kore-Discord) would like her power focus, Divine Coueranna's Tvasitar Talisman, the Little Green Apple of Eternal Youth, so-called because it never ripens. Strife believes, howsoever rightly or wrongly, it will lead to her regaining a physical form. There are other power focuses where Lao's staying, the von Alptraum's Baltic Sea estate, in what was then Prussia. They're contained in the Northern Tantalus, that of Aesgard. Prevailing wisdom has it Hush has hidden them, with or without the Northern Tantalus itself, somewhere only she knows between-space.

Appreciating where she is, and knowing what power lies within them, Cybele has had her father send in an expert to help retrieve them. This would be Hush's Gush (Aug the Dog, the male trickster, Augustus Nauroz, Auguste Moirnoir, Young Death to her Young Life). Augie quickly determines Hush is still Joli Blon, has just gone into some kind of funk such that she's wholly a little girl again, not some devil-devolved, demon-dusted, faerie fart who's been looking like a little girl for something like seventeen years. (Exactly the same amount of time he, Aug the Dog, has been Young Death to her Young Life, curiously enough.)

What's far more significant, plot-wise, than the entertaining converse he and Cybele have, is who Cybele appears to be. It isn't Medea Annulis anymore. (We're to understand the real Medea, Ophiomedea, has reclaimed her identity and is back to bagging it with Doc Jay, her oft-estranged husband, Freya's surgeon, Jason Annulis.) It's Hulga Faust always Volsung. And where's the real Horrid Hulga? Might this help? (The first person speaking is Hush's Gush. The second person is Cybele St Synne, masquerading as the Volsung matriarch.)

"She's my Hush all right, but she may not be our Pandora."

"Even my father [Sedon St Synne] says she's the trickster. You're just going to have to be trickier. Or meaner. A touch of reverse psycho-shock seems the ticket. But you better do it quickly. Horrid Hulga comes out of the tub full of piss and vinegar, she might even think about torturing her in order to get what she wants."

All which necessitates another memory-booting lynx. (Our memory-boosting, put better, given there are at least two central characters in the PHANTACEA Mythos named Memory: Human Memory {Mnemosyne D'Angelo}and Humanized Memory {Miracle Memory}, as well as Machine-Memory {the Mnemosyne Machine, aka the Female Entity}.)

********

Final stop prior to returning to Castle Nightmare, and that him I promised to get to momentarily, is Scotland, where may be faeries and definitely is the Family Dre'Ath, including the 4 Skullians (Homer, Mycroft, Jubal and Gregory, all of whom were born to Angus Dre'Ath by different mothers, none of whom were Gilda nee O'Ryan, Elaine, Sean, Nathan and Maxwell's mother, on December 25, 1920). May be more than faeries actually.

May prove, flashing back to 'The Moloch Manoeuvres', Megaera nee Kinesis Zeross wasn't misnamed after all. Her given name is the same as one of the three Female Furies [the 'Eumenides' {a euphemistic name meaning, in Greek, 'the kind ones'}or the 'Erinyes' {their correct and most common name, meaning 'the angry ones'}]. Four-fingered Meg's given name means 'Grudge'.

Meg fully intended to confront Nathan with his crimes [a rape and a {consequential} homicide] before they [his parents, Angus and Gilda] arrived. That way she would have him sorted out before she took him away, -- or killed him, which she was also prepared to do, if he or his parents ignored her allegations. She wanted to give him a chance to confess his guilt, freely and without coercion, in front of his parents and the rest of his family. Count Molech may have been a charlatan, a phony, a Melancholy Magician or whatever, but he did not deserve the fate that befell him. Nathan did.

And Thalassa could prove it!

********

Time for that him:

"Got a beer, Young Death?" the once-mighty, still never-to-be-underestimated, virtual monstrosity asked in a grotesque, given his size, whisper.

"Sure do, Abe." The male trickster had been expecting Unholy Abaddon and had prepared accordingly. He pulled off his top hat and, as if it was a rabbit, conjured a jar of the best northern ale he could find. He handed it to the living epitome of barbarism who chugged it like a glass of lemonade on a summer day, which this was anything but. "Now, -- about my ex-wife."

"The charming Miss Hush. Has she got the Northern Treasury?"

"Actually, near as I can make out, it's more a question of whether it's got her. Because something sure as shit has!"

********

And why would Unholy Abaddon, a devic suicide you'll no doubt recall from PREGAME-Gambit, want the Northern Treasury? To give it, its contents if the physical Tantalus was shattered by the Bright Face Garuda on Charan's Ark in Odd-11, to the likes of Donar Lancz and his Hermiones, last seen in 'The Moloch Manoeuvres', of course. In order to spread Chaos!

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4. COUERANNA'S CURSE: "Scattered Brains"

Kore-4 is a chatty chapter. Much of the chat is with respect to events that took place near the end of 'The Moloch Manoeuvres'. (Is 4-fingered Meg entirely off-base when it comes to Nathan Dre'Ath?) Some of it's about what went on in Kore-2. (Just where did Cousin Scatterbrain scatter those brains anyhow?). There's also a fair bit of yap as to why this series of novels is called 'Heliodyssey'. (Are the Dual Entities still out there, despite what happened to them in Odd-14?)

Oh yes, all this talking takes place on the North Sea Hospice of the Family Dre'Ath, not far from Edinburgh. Oddly enough one of the persons doing the talking can't talk. (Hey, this is PHANTACEA.)

What with all the hullabaloo after the arrival not just of themselves the night before but, on Friday afternoon, of the Scions Dre'Ath, Valfreja Volsung and Cybele St. Synne, who had not been seen in nearly eighteen years, Mnemosyne D'Angelo did not get to defend Nathan Dre'Ath against Megaera now Zeross's allegations. Then, early in the morning of Saturday, January 29, Mycroft, the Skullian who could neither hear nor speak, came into Memory's hospice bedroom and asked if he could speak to her, -- asked her in Magus Maxius's voice!

"What is it? Strife?" demanded the Angelic supranormal, whom Abe Ryne had codenamed Circean, after she recovered her composure, -- and covered herself with the blanket. "Oh, no! Don't tell me Kore's loose already?"

"Neither. It's Him!"

"Him who, Max, -- God, the Devil?"

"Neither. Both. Him -- Heliosophos. He wants you!"

A highly significant BLOCKQUOTE that. Breaking it down, one can get a sense of this chapter's significant events. First of all, Freya and Cybele, as herself, got themselves away from Castle Nightmare. Got themselves through the Weird from the Baltic Sea coast to the North Sea coast. Did so, we're to understand, via Kore's intercession.

This Kore, we're to also understand, would be Kore-Concord (our titular Divine Coueranna, she with the curse), not Kore-Discord (Strife). Ergo, either Freya or Cybele got hold of the prison pod Laodice Atreides has been carrying around between-space; got, therefore, Kore inside one or the other of them. Except, upon arrival at the North Sea hospice, a Trinondev captured Kore in his prison pod. Hence Memory wondering if she'd got away from the Trinondevs.

That Mycroft 'Mickey' Skullian, a deaf-mute, brought Helios's message to Memory, and used Max's voice, tells you something of what's happening to the 4 Skullians since the return of their youngest half-brother, Maxwell 'Max' Dre'Ath (Magus Maxius) to Scotland.

Max, the master of all the tellies, as he described himself when he called himself Telemax and hooked up with the Sorority of Sausages in the revised version of 'The Moloch Manoeuvres', is making the blind see (Homer) and the deaf both hear and speak (Mycroft). As for what's he's working on with the other two, Jubal, who's so leg-crippled he's confined to a wheelchair, and Gregory, who's a simple-minded near-giant, guess what?, we'll have to wait for a later chapter to find that out.

We aren't so sure how Helios managed to use Mickey to pass on his message to Memory, however. Max, who appears to be a incurable quadriplegic now, denies it was his doing. Questions have also been raised to whether the Kore one of the Trinondevs imprisoned was indeed Kore-Concord (Divine Coueranna) and not Kore-Discord (Strife). Once again we'll have to wait for later chapters to find out the reality of these matters. We'll also have to wait to find out, Mickey's message to the contrary, whether the Dual Entities are still around. Can tell you how the chapter ends, though

Thalassa D'Angelo burst in on them [Megaera Zeross & Cybele St Synne] just then. "My aunt's gone!" she cried.

"Gone where?" demanded Meg, then thought better of it. As Cybele's quick glance told her, the 'where' was obvious. The 'how' was a different matter, however. "Scratch that. Memory can't use agates so who took her? Don't tell me my husband gave her a devil?"

"No. I mean I don't know. I mean I saw her."

"Who?" required Cybele. "The little trickster? Medea?"

"Actually," said Sea, "I think it was herself!"

So, are we about to get confirmation of what long-time readers of the various serials I've been mounting on PHANTACEA on the Web since 1996 have been suspecting for most of that time? That Human Memory (Mnemosyne D'Angelo) and Humanized Memory (Miracle Memory) are effectively one and the same? Guess what?

The 1st Ringleader: As we discovered in Odd-9, the rings ('ringots') Angelo Zeross carries are a form of prison pod. That is to say they're akin to an eyeorb, something that's usually found atop a Trinondev's eye-stave (from which they, the Elite Warriors of Weir, manifest their gargoyles).

Angelo's rings contain devils, presumably the same devils whose talismans were in the Mediterranean and the Northern Tantaluses {i.e., devic variations of the Olympian and Aesgardian gods}. They're responsive to Angie, do as he says. And he can release them into others, who will thereupon do as he says too.

Hence why he prefers to refer to himself as Ringleader instead of Ringkeeper, which he consider a pejorative or denigrating term.

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5. COUERANNA'S CURSE: "Young Death and Uncle Abe Chaos"

Kore-5 is not so much a chatty chapter, like Kore-4, as one filled mostly with back-story. As one might expect, given its title, most of the back-stories feature our two titular characters: Hush's Gush (the Voodoo Child, Aug the Dog, the male trickster, Augustus Nauroz, Auguste Moirnoir, Young Death to Hush's Young Life, who like her has been an apparent seven year old for something like seventeen years) and Unholy Abaddon (one of Thrygragos Lazareme's three firstborn, the former, and only ever, Unity of Chaos, whom most everyone still calls Chaos but whom Young Death calls Uncle Abe just because he feels like it).

All sorts of tasty tidbits pop up during the course of these back-stories. For instance, what's the connection between old Joe, Magister Joseph Mandam (Loxus Abraham Ryne's much older brother-in-law, Jesse and Barsine's father of record) and Eden Nightingale (Mrs Abe Ryne, the mother of the twins, David and Saul, 10, as well as Aranyani, 4)? Are they related? Are their real names Akbar and Meroudys Artha? Are they really faeries? Is Dand Tariqartha, the Devalord of Sub-Cranial Temporis, their half-father? (Afraid the best I can do in terms of answers to these questions are Young Death thinks so whereas Uncle Abe Chaos thinks it's at least conceivable.)

What's the connection between Young Death and Sigurd Lancz? Well, the boy isn't exactly dead. Rather, he's what the male trickster calls one of his reclamation projects. (We're to gather Jervis Murray is one as well.) In other words, as we already know from 'The Moloch Manoeuvres', Sigurd was stillborn. Yet, somehow or other, he, Young Death, provided him, Sigurd, with the spark of life that's kept him going ever since.

(Young Death, by the way, homes in on his reclamation projects much the same as he does the animals folks like Cybele, in Kore-3, and her father, Sedon St Synne, in Manoeuvres, sacrifice without much in the way of mumbo-jumbo in order to summon him. Despite his sometimes graphic way of homing into them, then out of them, he does them no harm doing so. The blood and gore, that's his; hence Hush's Gush.)

Unholy Abaddon, as drawn by Ian Fry circa 1989What else? Even though, as recounted in PREGAME-Gambit, he committed devic suicide some four hundred plus years ago, which is to say he cut out his third eye and thereby effectively killed his Spirit Self, Abe Chaos has retained some devic abilities. Somewhat similar to Apsyrtus Annulis, Laodice's Cousin Scatterbrain, who has thus far only demonstrated an ability to scatter the brains (read minds or spirits) of other folks, Chaos can scatter his own brain (dot-ditto the mind or spirit bit). Has, in fact, scattered part of his brain into Young Death such that he can track him anywhere on the planet, on either side of the Cathonic Dome.

He also still has his Brainrock talisman, a huge trident that serves the double purpose of sheathing his Chaos Blade. Which, by only partially withdrawing it, was how he managed to cathonize his breed-brother, Lord Yajur, the Unity of Order, at the end of PREGAME. (Unless you have or want to order 'The Trigregos Gambit' on disc, you'll have to trust me on this. For some reason I didn't explicitly mention it happening in my original synopsis of Trig-4.)

Is there more? There's stacks of more; too much more for synoptic purposes. Here' a few more of them.

Going back to the 'Guess What?' at the end of Kore-4's synopsis, here's an interesting BLOCKQUOTE from not quite halfway through Kore-5. Young Death is in Sigurd Lancz. (We've already discovered he can also get into Abaddon, devic suicide that he is. Might be able to get into Jervis Murray as well, but we haven't got that far yet.) Uncle Abe is speaking into his head at the same time he's seeing what Young Death is seeing via Sigurd. They, one in the other in the other, are on Charan's Ark.

'Those two. And that one,' suddenly thought Chaos into Moirnoir's mind, flashing three corresponding images [that of Aires, Thalassa and Mnemosyne D'Angelo]. 'I recognize them.'

'The three Angelics? Not bloody likely, Abe. Not even in your wildest dream. Not after what you've done with your life.'

'Weak humour, punk. And if they're angels, I'm God the Blob. The young ones are devils, or at least two-eyed Thanatoid lookalikes. And the dark-haired one, -- that's Memory!'

'Mnemosyne D'Angelo, yeah. She's the Celestial Superior's baby sister. Most folks call her Memory of the Angels. What of it?'

'Not Mnemosyne D'Angelo, you fool. She's Heliosophos's Memory, -- the Female Fucking Entity!'

Re the opening quotation in Kore-1's synopsis, here's another interesting BLOCKQUOTE. In an effort to get away from Unholy Abaddon, Young Death flees to Necropolis, the once Gleaming City of Manoa. With a name like Necropolis there's no surprise it's in what's nowadays Hadd. (Nowadays being late 5937 YD or early 1938 AD, depending on which side of the Cathonic Dome you're on.)

While there, in Necropolis, he has Janna Fangfingers, yet another character we first met in PREGAME-Gambit, turn him into a vampire. It doesn't stick. So he's back inside Abe Chaos, they (two-in-one) are in Berlin. There they encounter Donar Lancz, Sigurd's presumed father, and some one else. And who might this be? Young Death's still working that out:

Knowing who Apple Isle’s current Miracle Maenad actually was, thanks to Abe Chaos, explained some of this. When Pyrame Silverstar humanized the Memory Entity they – rather, she – took on an approximation of Rhea [Sangati always Ararat], yes, but it was actually an approximation of Machine-Memory’s possible template, Mnemosyne D’Angelo, who [not only was still alive but who] did look somewhat like Rhea had.

Equally so, the real Rhea, and the real Barsine, bore a distinct resemblance to Nergal Vetala, albeit without the fangs, sallow complexion, third eye, distinctive greenishness and thumbs on the wrong hands. So, had he seen [through Abe Chaos in Berlin] Barsine with Vetala unmistakably shining through her or had he seen Vetala shining through some other, and otherwise unknown, shell of hers?

Must be time to move on but, first, here's a final BLOCKQUOTE to whet your appetite for Kore-6. It occurs immediately after Unholy Abaddon, passed out drunk in a hayloft on the Von Alptraum's Baltic Sea estate, is impaled with his own trident. Whereupon he's seemingly immolated on the spot. Young Death is there but didn't do the impaling. He tries to flee from the blazing barn but the person(?) who did do the impaling is, well, blazingly fast:

He was halfway across the courtyard to the castle proper when he felt himself being hefted off the ground. It was Freya again, but he had no idea how she had caught up to him. Then he did. Her golden tresses suddenly became a geyser of flaming red hair jetting out of the top of her otherwise bald pate. Then her facial features vanished, literally. She had no mouth, no nose, no ears, no eyes. Then she did, have an eye, in the centre of her forehead. This solitary eyeball glared out at him.

"Fucking Hell," he blurted just before he felt her mind-probe. No point fighting back. She had him in an eye-lock.

Wait a minute! Isn't Freya (Valfreja Volsung) with Cybele St Synne at the Dre'Ath's North Sea hospice? Yep. So who is Strife occupying? Answer is she isn't occupying anyone. However, she has fused with someone. And who might that be? Not to mention how might that be? Guess what, that's Kore-5's Guess What?

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Synopses of Kore 1-5

Synopses of Kore 6-10

Synopses of Kore 11-15

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