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Deities And Demons
Definitive Second Edition
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-545-2
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Dark Fantasy
Pages: 156 Pages
Published: January 2016
Format: Hard Cover



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Total Readers: 3

From inside the flap

Extensively revised and re-written in a more professional and experienced style, Double Dragon Publishing proudly presents these second-edition versions of Charles J. Schneider’s two debut novellas in a single volume. United by the common themes of romance and tasteful sensuality but contrasting sharply in fiction motifs, CYTHEREA provides light-hearted and witty entertainment while WITH TOWER AND TURRETS, CROWNED leads the reader into a dark realm of treachery and witchcraft.

CYTHEREA, positioned in the forefront of this anthology, tells the tongue-in-cheek tale of Jamie Broussard, a Professor of Anthropology and Mythology at Yale, who finds himself drawn into a digital relationship with Cytherea Sagapo, the author of an obscure treatise on the legend of Adonis and Aphrodite. In due course, the curious professor decides that he must meet her, and travels to Cytherea’s hometown of Paphos, Cyprus, in order to do so; but when he arrives, it seems clear that his virtual girlfriend is actually the real Aphrodite and that he, surprisingly, may be the reincarnation of her one and only true love, Adonis! This unique story, which teeters between reality and a surrealistic dream until the very last page, features portrayals of the ancient Greek deities set in modern day, and will appeal to lovers of paranormal fiction and mythology alike.

WITH TOWER AND TURRETS, CROWNED takes place in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland during medieval times, where a powerful Gaelic warlord named Rhian MacDomhnuill falls deeply in love with Gwyneth, a beautiful and sultry peasant maiden. This tightly plotted tale of passion and demonic sorcery begins and ends in the highest room of Dunyvaig Castle’s tower, where Rhian must face his spiritual nemesis embodied in his frigid wife, Sif: an Icelandic princess with a dark and evil soul. Although the action takes place in a brief five-hour timeframe on a cold January night and plays out exclusively within the confining walls of Rhian’s stone fortress, a rich two-and-a-half year back-story is related creatively by the author in a series of flashbacks, memories and dreams. Based loosely on an old Scottish legend, WITH TOWER AND TURRETS, CROWNED is a historically-based psychological fantasy filled with intrigue, seduction, and magic.


Deities And Demons (Excerpt)


*

If it be thus to dream,

still let me sleep!

William Shakespeare

Twelfth Night


I

INSOMNIA

She was a goddess in every sense of the word. Before her, I was utterly oblivious to the person within; and after, her divine intervention unveiled the truth behind my soul's ancient conception. Under the surface of my physical form, and hiding behind the name inscribed on my birth certificate, passport, and driver's license, slept a quiet and dormant secret that abruptly awoke on that day of unexpected revelation, when she and I finally met.

Adonis James Broussard: born in 1975, in the French quarter of New Orleans. I was the son of a Parisian father and a Greek mother, the only child born from the union of his mind and her body, his intellect and her beauty, and his logic and her intuition. My French father, displaced from Europe to the States by the circumstances of his academic career, devoted his life to his scholarly calling, and to my mother. She was his cherished Aegean beauty: a modern day Helen of Troy with a Mediterranean sensuality that Aphrodite would have envied. After her untimely death, my father's life lost meaning; and not long after, he heard her whisper softly in his ear. Heeding her call, he said his peaceful goodbyes and made his final journey to the other side to meet her.

My father was a Classics professor at Tulane and had high hopes for me: his only son. From a young age, the rich academia that he fostered permeated my day-to-day life. It was my father's love for mythology that spawned my own interest in a similar scholarly concentration; and, following in his footsteps when I pursued my own doctorate, I became a respected authority in ancient cultures by the time I earned my tenured professorship at Yale. My own given name, taken from the Greek legend that was dear to my own father's heart, seemed uncannily (or, rather, embarrassingly) appropriate to my specialty; so I swept Adonis under the rug, and became James-or Jamie-to all of my friends and colleagues.

Like my father, I dedicated my life to the field; but unlike him, I never found the woman who could be my own life's goddess. Yes, there were women, but none of them touched my spirit like my mother had moved my father. They loved my body, my face, my name, my titles, and my success with a superficial attraction that never went deeper than the facade of my mortal exterior. What I searched and longed for was a woman who could truly understand the true Adonis that slept beneath the blanket of my human covering.

And so, my story begins on a chilly day in early March, right before a birthday that I viewed as a particularly unwelcome milestone in my bachelor's life. I sat, sulking, in my office at the Peabody Museum, sipping my coffee while I graded papers from my Undergraduate seminar on Myths and Modern Culture. I had just penned a somewhat biting comment on the second to last paper in the queue-a particularly mediocre effort, which I leniently decided to give a 'C+'-hoping with a yawn that the last one would be better.

The Cypriot Identity Crisis: Ancient Greek and Turkish Influences on Modern Day Cyprus, the title read. "What have we here?" I thought. The topic intrigued me, since my mother was born on the Greek side of this Mediterranean island, living in Paphos until she moved to Paris at age 18, where she later met my father. The student's essay was well written and meticulously researched; and as I scribbled an 'A' on the title page, I flipped back for a moment to his references, curious about the essay's sources.

Gianelli, Korphu, Christianson, Brantford: all of these researchers were familiar names in elite anthropology circles; and while some of them were only acquaintances, most of them were friends, and many of them were direct or indirect collaborators on my own academic projects and grants. Tealmann, Broadman, Zorcra-all three of them were prominent leaders in the field... but Sagapo? Who in the world was Cytherea Sagapo? I didn't know her; had never even heard of her. The student who had written the last essay had cited Sagapo's treatise on the Cypriote myth of Aphrodite and Adonis extensively in his essay, and from what I could tell, the unknown author's commentary on the legend's impact on the modern cultural concept of love seemed insightful and precise.

I wouldn't be satisfied, now, until I had read the complete Sagapo thesis. An hour later, I sat in Sterling Memorial Library, thumbing through a 100-page volume that had been published a few years ago by a small Greek publishing house. The piece was entitled Female Love and Beauty in a Masculine Society: the Myth of Aphrodite and Adonis, by Cytherea V. Sagapo; and I was impressed, to say the least.

Who was she? Now I simply had to know. Since the back cover of the book provided no information at all about her, I would have to do some literary detective work to find out more about the mysterious author who wrote like the world's authority on a topic that was quite dear to my heart. My first call, to Yale Press, rewarded me with the names of some contacts at Cronos Publishers; and a few days later, after several back and forth emails, I had what I needed. I wrote Ms. Sagapo an electronic message that night, and her response was pleasant, friendly-and, to my surprise, immediate.

You are very kind, Professor, she said in her email. I wrote that book many years ago, when I attended University in Athens. I live in Paphos now, where I teach school. My students are eager to learn about our heritage and legends, but I am afraid that most of them are not able to appreciate the written result of my college studies. You see, they are only ten and eleven year olds!

Such a talent, wasted in a small town elementary school! I apologize in advance if my comments seem overly intrusive, I responded after we had switched to instant messaging, but you could have had a brilliant career if you had pursued an academic path. Did you ever consider attending graduate school?

I am happy here, Professor-for the most part. Our messages, fueled bythe miracle of modern electronic communication, raced back and forth across an ocean and a sea with instantaneous speed. My students keep me sharp, and I do so love this place, where I was born and raised.

It's never too late. I ventured a bit further, just slightly over the edge and into the realm of her personal space. May I ask your age, Ms. Sagapo?

You certainly may, Professor. I am 27 years old. And you should call me Cytherea, please!

At 27, she was 13 years younger than I was-the exact difference in age between my mother and my father! Could it simply be coincidence? I don't think you recognize your own talent (or the connection between the two of us that felt stronger, to me, than the pull of gravity). You are a very young woman, and should pursue your doctorate. I have friends in Athens; or, you could come here. I would gladly take you under my wing at Yale.

What was I saying? I didn't know the first thing about her-GPA, academic standing in college, or even the most basic of her academic credentials... except, of course, that she had written a one hundred page anthropological treatment of the Aphrodite myth when she had been an undergraduate that could have easily passed for a PhD thesis! I told myself to trust my instincts. She was worth it. Somehow, I simply knew that she was worth it." And you should call me Jamie, I added. It's what all of my friends call me. I wanted desperately for her to be my friend... and more.

She didn't respond; and, with a sinking heart, I stared at my eerily quiet computer screen until the early morning hours, when I finally fell asleep with my head resting on folded arms at my desk. Had I offended her by complimenting her intellect? Or, had she decided that our conversation had become too friendly-too personal, somehow? Perhaps she had sensed my excitement, backing off as a reaction to my admittedly premature romantic aspirations. These thoughts, and others, plagued my fitful two hours of sleep. Did she have dark hair, or light? Were her eyes a smoky brown, a smoldering green, or blue like the Aegean Sea? Was she slim, or voluptuous? Was she married, divorced, or single? Was she in a relationship, or were there still moist remnants of tears on her perfect alabaster cheeks from a recently ended love affair? Who was she, really? I found myself imagining that she was my own soul's goddess, just as my mother had been to my father-a crazy midnight intuition that sunrise eventually transformed into conviction.

The next day, I taught my courses in a sleep-deprived fog; and that evening, I sat at a corner table in the back, immediately adjacent to the small bar and facing the dark and quiet stage (since there were never any musical acts performing on Mondays) at my favorite club, with my old friend Reginald Winks-a Jurisprudence Professor of Contracts and Torts at the Law School, who also had a small legal practice on the side. We had known each other forever it seemed, first meeting at our Undergraduate school orientation on the sprawling lawn of Yale's central quad over twenty years ago. Born in London and educated at Eaton, he had married the girl that he started dating our freshman year; and as a result, he had only returned once to his native England to pack up some belongings and relocate permanently to New Haven.

"It looks like you haven't slept in days, Jamie," he commented in his slightly Americanized English accent, as he motioned for the waiter to refill his drink.

"I only slept two hours last night. It's the strangest thing, Reggie. This girl has done something to me, and I know close to nothing about her."

"Has she published anything else?"

"Not a thing. She wrote that book her last year at college in Athens, on her own as far as I can tell, with no co-authors or sponsors."

"Well, it sounds like your professional interest in her is justified. But the rest... "

"I know. It's absolutely ludicrous, but I just have to meet her, Reggie. This verges on obsession."

"Verges? It sounds to me like it is an obsession." He shrugged. "I guess you could go there-meet with her on the pretext of a recruitment interview or something. Do you think she might be interested in attending graduate school here?"

"I don't know. I suggested that, but she hasn't answered. It's been a whole day, and her silence is killing me."

"Well, there is the time difference. I'm willing to wager you'll find a message from her when you get home tonight."

"I hope so." I took another sip of my Glenlivet. "The coincidences are uncanny, really. She's Greek-from Paphos, just like my mother; and the 13 year age difference between us is exactly the same as it was between my parents. And finally, there's the literary connection."

"You mean Adonis and Cytherea?"