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Topic Subject:Beyond Poseidon's Throne - A Story Of Ancient Times
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Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 11-06-00 00:49 ET (US)         
BEYOND POSEIDON'S THRONE
A Story of Ancient Times and Ancient Mariners

TYPE: EPIC ADVENTURE.
STYLE: 3RD PERSON; MEDIUM TO LONG POSTS.
MOOD: DRAMA, ROMANCE AND COMEDY PERMITTED, EXCEPT SILLY.
CHARACTERIZATIONS: RICH, DESCRIPTIVE, IN DEPTH. FULL DEVELOPMENT ENCOURAGED.
LEVEL OF VIOLENCE: LIGHT TO MODERATE

CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Player Characters
AYTHADIS: The tall man.
BARTUC: 17 yr. old Tyrean boy and friend of Edes. Albino-like physical features. Free spirit. Has spot changeable cubes.
CEREK: 32 yr. old Spartan warrior. Dark hair, dark eyes, battle scarred. Seeks adventure.
COOK: Ship's cook. Secret real name: Yonah. Hebrew emigre. Has no knowledge of Yanil's secret.
CORONIS: Young woman, early 30's, braided brown hair and sharp green eyes. Ship's healer on the Nautica Prima.
EDES: A youth of Tyre. Nearly 19 years old.
EDUSSE: First mate. A Celt formerly named Flynn.
HAMID: An Arab crewman on the Phoenician trading ship. No. 1 Tillerman.
MACXUTEQUA: Aztec warrior
MEREDA: Tallish merchantlady/herbalist. Has violet eyes with gold highlights and long braided red hair.
NAUTICA PRIMA: Name of the Phoenician ship.
THANATOS: Thracian Ares-worshipper who stowed away on the Nautica Prima and who seeks a red jewel from the thief who stole it from a temple of Ares.
THANOS: Ne'er-do-well 21 yr. old, youngest son of an Athenian family. Joined ship's company at Ephesus.
YANIL: A 15 yr. old girl (now 16 yrs old) named Ilyena secretly disguised as a cook's boy. Coronis knows her secret. Aythadis learned it in MesoAmerica.
ZEOS: A burly seaman, slow witted with somewhat poor personal hygiene.

Non-Player Characters
BURNING MIRROR: Olmec spiritual and tribal leader.
IDOMENUS: Nicknamed "Old George". Captain of the Phoenician trading ship.
JADE RAIN: 18 yr. old Olmec girl and friend of Thanos.
RIVER SUN: 18 yr. old Olmec girl and friend of Bartuc.
SEVEN DEATH: Mayan High Priest of the city of Altun Ha.
THREE MONKEY: A 13 year old girl rescued by Thanatos from what seemed to be the attack of a wild animal.
VALYGAR: Sailor and assistant to Coronis. Seldom speaks.
OTHER UNNAMED CREWMEN: 10 each. Only 5 are left now due to the Aztec attack.


Team Writers: To find a summary of this story and to communicate with other writers, please use the thread found HERE

Members of the Writing Team: Benson, Caylynn, Civis Romanus, Cyber Paladin, Darthbane, Fortuna, Jaguar, Jayhawk, latus, Micah Aragorn, MRed94, Nutmegger, Smack, Windplume. All members of CH are welcome.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 01-23-2001).]

AuthorReplies:
Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 01-24-01 20:40 ET (US)     201 / 220       
Seven Death looked at Ilyena and then at Thanatos. The High Priest decided not to say anything more and waved the jaguar soldier away and out of the chamber, then followed himself. Thanatos didn't see them leave. His eyes were focussed on Ilyena and the remarkable transformation that had come over her since he last saw her being dragged away by the Mayans. Was it her face, her eyes or was it the dress that appropriately covered her body, yet didn't seem to be doing so? Transfixed as he was, he couldn't answer his own question. It was Ilyena who broke the spell.

"By all the fish in Poseidon's sea! Thanatos! What are you doing here?!" she railed at him. Her sharp tongue and anger-laced words startled him out of his mindless stare.

"I... I... I'm trying to rescue you," the Ares-worshipper stammered.

"From what? I'm in no danger here."

"Well, we thought... that is, Edes and Aythadis..." Her stare and increasingly deepening frown finally forced the truth out of him. "No, they had nothing to do with it. I thought I could rescue you and thereby honor my debt to Edes. No one knows anything about this... not even Three Monkey.

Ilyena's frown softened considerably. "Well that was very noble of you Thanatos. But as I said I wasn't in any danger after all."

Thanatos shook his head, "Danger no... maybe not yet. But we're planning our escape. We cannot have you too distant or you will be left behind."

A little bit of panic coursed through Ilyena. Left behind? Edes gone? "I think I know how to escape them and rejoin the crew, but you will have to tell me their plan," she said hurriedly. This Thanatos did. As she thought about the possibilities, Thanatos couldn't help but notice the three pink scars on Ilyena's exposed thigh and how they seemed different than being simply scars. He had similar marks but they looked nothing like Ilyena's. Thanatos decided to ask about the scars. "There's something different about you, Ilyena... your scars, not only healed, but prominent in a strange way, more like adornment than damaged skin."

"Hmmm? Oh, the scars," she responded. "The Jaguar did that."

"We know it was a jaguar that made the marks. The Olmecs said that."

"No, Thanatos. I mean the Jaguar, a man who looked like a jaguar and man at the same time... all mixed up. I saw him awhile ago, before they brought me to this room, before they found you here."

"I don't understand," protested Thanatos. "What are you talking about?"

"They gave me something to drink... made me drink it actually. Then I felt strange inside, but it didn't hurt. I soon felt normal again, but just as I did this person who called himself the Jaguar appeared before me. I had fallen to the ground... somewhere... I didn't know where I was, actually. He helped me to my feet then he told me things.'

'He said I was chosen by the gods for a purpose, but he wouldn't say what purpose. He told me not to fear anything for I was under their protection. Then he touched me. First, he touched my forehead... next, my lips... and then he touched my leg where the scars from the animal's paw were. I was told I would see the Jaguar again. I would know he was there because I would sense him in my mind, then I would speak for him and finally I would do the task the Jaguar set for me... but that's when I found myself where I had been when I drank the liquid in the cup. The Jaguar was gone and I do not know what the task is. It was then that Seven Death led me to here and we found you."

Thanatos said nothing, for he had no idea how to respond to Ilyena's explanation of events. She continued after a short pause, "Anyway, I think I know how to get us both back to the crew and the Nautica Prima."

"And that is...?"

"I will tell Seven Death that the Jaguar commands that you and I should be on the vessel when it sails," she said confidently. "The High Priest cannot refuse the Chosen of the Jaguar."

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 01-24-2001).]

Micah Aragorn
Pleb
posted 01-25-01 05:37 ET (US)     202 / 220       
With all the wonders that could last a lifetime in this foreign place Edes seemed lost in a thought thousands of miles away.

"She will be alright Edes." Bartuc placed his arm around the shoulder of his friend. "She has survived this far with all the adventure and secrets. Besides Thanatos has disappeared again and if I know him......."

Edes seemed to come back from his deep thoughts yet somehow in the distance he had heard what Bartuc was saying to him.
"But that's just it I don't really know what to think of him. And besides I or we should be doing something to get Ilyena back. Not sitting waiting for something to happen."

"She is a good friend to me also,"Bartuc replied "but Aythadis told us not to do anything."

"She is more than a friend to me Bartuc,"Edes voice seemed saddened and confused."I can't explain it. When I think of her I get a feeling here" Edes pointing to his stomach."And here." This time pointing where his heart was.

"That's love you feel." This time the voice was Cerek's. "I should know, I've had those same feelings since we first set sail in Tyre." He had turned and looking at Coronis smiled at her. She returned the smile slightly blushing and continued to listen to their conversation.

Slightly laughing Coronis exclaimed,"And by her non stop chatter yesterday about your gift I would say Ilyena is surely in love with you."

"If that be true it makes it even harder for me to sit here and do nothing". Edes stood up and adjusting his sword looked to be getting ready to do something.

Cerek immediately stood up and standing in front of Edes used his body to shield the direction he wanted to go.
"Sit down,Edes. There is little you can do alone to bring her back here. Besides you would risk the health of all of us."

Edes looked at Cerek and even though he wanted badly to seek and protect Ilyena he knew what Cerek was saying was right. Reluctantly he once again sat down.

[This message has been edited by Micah Aragorn (edited 01-25-2001).]

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 01-25-01 07:47 ET (US)     203 / 220       
"Edes, look!" Thanos pointed and the Tyrean youth spied a group of people walking purposely towards the palapa. Edes couldn't quite make out who as he looked from the darkness into the light. Then he recognized Thanatos' smooth movement and that priest that had taken Ilyena, Seven Death. Edes wished he could give the man Seven Deaths.

But who was that in the middle, a girl, wearing so little she might have been bare? With a shock he recognised Ilyena, but he'd never seen her look so certain of her self. He blushed as he realised he was staring at her.
Bartuc grinned and jabbed him in the ribs.

Aythadis had risen as well and met Ilyena and her companions at the entrane of the palapa. A smile lit up his face as he saw Ilyena's new found confidence. He looked at Thanatos and raised an eyebrow. The Thracian actually had the grace to look embarresed.
"I tried to rescue her...she ended up having to rescue me." the young man mumbled as Three Monkey ran to his side.

Seven Death looked at the gathered crew and spoke.
"The god has ordained, you shall take out this canoe into the sea."
"Finally, " Idomenus mumbled.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 01-25-01 16:35 ET (US)     204 / 220       
The next day:

Idomenus looked over his shoulder at Aythadis. "Soon, my friend... A few more and we shall be ready." Aythadis observed what Idomenus spoke about.

A long line of Maya city dwellers, overseen by jaguar soldiers, were transporting stones about the size of a loaf of bread from the city, to the shore and then into the bowels of the ship. These were ballast stones. They were necessary because the cargo once held by the Nautica Prima was gone and the ship was riding too high.

The Maya had stripped the ship of anything that could be considered tradeable or edible. Aythadis knew it would be a mistake to ask for foods as it might cause the Mayan High Priest to suspect more than he already does.

Edusse, the first mate, appeared above one of the entrances to the hold. "Enough, Captain, there is adequate ballast," shouted the first mate.

Idomenus shouted back between cupped hands, "Very good Edusse. Double check the water line and make sure she is within level!" Edusse nodded his head and walked over to the port side of the ship and then to the starboard side. He walked to the highest level of the maindeck and signaled that the ship was properly weighted and balanced. Idomenus waved his approval and the rest of the pre-boarding activities began.

Ropes were salvaged from places where they had been casually tossed by the unknowing Maya. Oars were examined for breaks and the sail was quickly checked for tears. Knots were tested and retied if necessary. Every man of Idomenus crew was accompanied by a Maya observer who watched what was being done. Some were common city dwellers, others were jaguar soldiers. Fortunately, none of the Mayans noticed that the crew's pockets here and there bulged more today than yesterday. The red powder in these pockets waited for the moment when its use would be ordered by Aythadis. The ship wassoon ready to sail.

Drums beat a steady rythym in the distance. The crew stopped its work to turn and look towards the edge of the jungle where it ended against the sand of the beach nearby. Ilyena had been escorted back to the city by Seven Death. Edes had made a move to protest, but Cerek once again restrained him. Thanatos had stayed with the ship this time and had done his part to make it ready.

The vegetation parted along a poorly defined path leading from the jungle. Two jaguar soldiers preceeded Seven Death, who was clothed in ceremonial splendor that featured multi-colored variegated feathers and long robes as wildly colored as the feathers. It was the staff with the human skull at its top that detracted from his appearance by adding too heavy a hint of evil perfidity.

Behind Seven Death under a massed feather canopy walked Ilyena, now dressed in a gown similarly sculpted to her body as the one the evening before, but streaked with gold and silver highlights that reflected the sun gloriously. By my mother's soul, thought Edes, just like a goddess on her wedding day. Only... I'm not a god... He dropped his eyes and his head, reclaiming his chin on the way down. I'm not worthy of her... and what he suspected all along he believed now like never before.

Ilyena was followed by two jaguar soldiers holding the feathered canopy and three more pairs of jaguar soldiers as a rear guard. The city people of Altun Ha followed the procession. Seven Death, the soldiers and Ilyena walked the sandy beach and then up the broad wooden plank onto the deck of the ship. Seven Death surveyed the crew, all that were within eyesight. Good, no weapons, no appearance of defiance, no possibility of treachery. He was satisfied.

"You may begin your lesson, Aye Thadis," said the High Priest. But as he said these words, he stepped closer to Ilyena, an implied threat visible in the penetrating brown of his eyes. Aythadis nodded, his eyes never leaving Seven Death's. He bowed slightly and motioned to Idomenus to begin.

"Make ready to sail!" bellowed Idomenus. The crew drew their Mayan shadows to their assigned stations. The Olmec women went to huddle in Cook's galley (for safety). Edes and Cerek went below to man the oars (Edes quite reluctantly as he noticed Ilyena's eyes never left him from the moment she placed her foot on deck). Thanatos remained on the main deck not too close, but not too far from where Seven Death and Ilyena stood. Aythadis began a running commentary on what the crew was doing.

"The metal weight we call an anchor must be raised from the bottom of the water for the canoe to be free. The great paddles are what we call oars. They are used to slowly guide this great canoe to sea until the cloth above can capture the wind and do the work of men while the men rest."
Seven Death observed the motion of the oars and the direction the vessel had taken as it moved from its place under the influence of the oars. Great as it was, this canoe was much slower than the canoes of the Maya.

The lessons continued until the ship was a man's swimming distance from the shore and riding gentle swells coming from the deeper sea beyond. "And now the final lesson, Seven Death," said Aythadis. He gave the signal...

The hands of the crew quickly dipped into their pockets and clouds of red powder flew into the faces of the Maya, city dwellers and soldiers alike. Seven Death started and ducked, a cloud of red powder thrown by a crewman just barely missing his face and eyes. In one swift move, Seven Death reached for Ilyena and captured her. He dropped his staff and reached within his gown to pull out a gold plated knife. This instrument he placed against Ilyena's side where it could be thrust in to cause a mortal wound.

Aythadis tensed, but he could do nothing as he was not permitted to interfere. Thanatos acted instead. He leaped onto the back of the High Priest knocking him over. As he fell, the High Priest stabbed wildly at Ilyena but his knife found only space and air. Ilyena had been knocked aside opposite of Seven Death by the force of the impact with Thanatos. Aythadis rushed to her side to draw her away from the High Priest and Thanatos as both wrestled with each other on the deck of the ship. Splashes to each side of the ship signaled that temporarily blinded Mayans were being thrown overboard. Even so, the two battled furiously through what was becomming an inconclusive contest. Before very long, the only Mayan left on the ship was the High Priest.

Then Thanatos erred. He attempted to toss Seven Death off of him by using his arms and legs as a catapult, but succeeding, he unwittingly threw the Mayan to a place very near his dropped gold plated knife. Somewhat dazed but still in control, the Mayan saw the knife, grabbed it and leapt to his feet, knife in hand. He raised it and prepared to drive it into Thanatos... But an incredibly commanding voice stopped the High Priest and everyone else dead in their tracks.

"RELEASE THE KNIFE!" All on the deck turned to the source of the incredible voice. It was Ilyena... but not Ilyena.

"Who commands this?" said Seven Death.

"The Jaguar commands this." Ilyena's eyes appeared catlike. Her skin tone had changed to something different, more feral, indescribable even for those well traveled among the crew. "Let these people go. They do not belong here."

"I do not believe these words," replied the High Priest, uncertainty and a modicum of fear now visible in his eyes and expression. Ilyena said nothing. She walked, cat-like, feet touching but not really seeming to touch the deck. She picked up the High Priest's staff and in one swift move ripped the skull off the staff, shattered it on the deck of the ship and broke the staff in two with her bare hands. Holding one broken piece she advanced on the priest. Quickly he dropped the knife, ran to the ship's portside rail and jumped overboard. The Nautica Prima was theirs once more. Then Ilyena slumped to the deck... Just as Edes rushed up from below, his personal battle with his shadow ended when the Mayan was thrown overboard with the rest.

"Ilyena!" he cried. In his heart he feared the worst.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 01-25-2001).]

Micah Aragorn
Pleb
posted 01-25-01 20:50 ET (US)     205 / 220       
Idomenus watched as Edes ran to where Ilyena layed on the deck. The captain was concerned for the girl but knew that the Nautica Prima was not out of danger yet. And turning to look back his suspicions were correct.

The Mayan natives were quickly getting their comrades and the High Priest from the water. Canoes were being launched with jaguar soldiers to pursue the ship.

"Edusse" bellowed the Captain.

"Yes,Captain"

With sense of urgency in Idomenus' voice,"Prepare to lower the sail. We must put distance between us and the canoes."

"Take all available men to the oars, we need more speed to get us further out."

"Aye, Captain," replied Edusse. "Thanos, Valygar man any open oars." Edusse started to call out Edes' name but looked down to see Edes staring at him with frightful concern and what looked like a small glimmering teardrop at the corner of his eyes.

"It's alright Edes. Stay with her." He told him putting a hand on Edes shoulder. "Thanatos, give us a hand."

The lighter canoes were gaining on the heavier ship. The lead canoe carried Seven Death who urged his soldiers to paddle faster. The distance grew shorter.

"Row, Row hard", bellowed Edusse. The Nautica needed to get further out to catch the seaward breeeze in its sail. The ship was no match for the canoes that could glide over the waters.

"This is enough," shouted Bartuc.

"Bring me what's left of the red powder. I have an idea."

Idomenus, Edusse and Zeos collected what was left of the powder bags and gave them to Bartuc. Taking the twine that tied the bags he used it to fasten them to the arrows of his crossbow. He then cut small slits in the bags so they would allow the release of the powder at impact.

The canoes were nearly upon them. Bartuc took his bow and aiming with great precision let it go. It hit its mark on the inside of the canoe Seven Death rode and upon contact sent the red powder up and back towards the Mayans. Again quickly Bartuc aimed and let fly another. Again he hit his mark. Instantly the Mayans stopped paddling to cover their eyes and jumping into the sea to get away from the agonizing powder. The distance started to grow longer.

"Did you feel that? A breeze." Idomenus exclaimed.

"Lower the sail. Hamid steer us north to the Olmec village."

"Aye,Captain." Hamid joyfully replied.

Down came the sail and caught the wind needed to speed the Nautica Prima back to the Olmec village. The Mayan canoes becoming more distant with every second.

Idomenus now turned his attention to Ilyena, still lying on the ships deck.......

[This message has been edited by Micah Aragorn (edited 01-27-2001).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 01-26-01 16:04 ET (US)     206 / 220       
Idomenus looked towards Aythadis who was already returning to the unconscious girl's side. The tall man knelt down on one knee near Ilyena. "Edes," said Aythadis. "Step away for just a moment." He saw Edes hesitate, reluctant to leave the girl where she lay. "It will be all right, Edes. I just need a moment to learn her condition. Wait with Coronis, will you please. Ilyena will need her."

Edes looked at Aythadis a plea implied in his look. Aythadis smiled. "She will be all right, I promise you." Edes stood up and walked to where the ship's healer stood waiting for Aythadis' call.

Ilyena lay there silently, breathing slowly in and out. She offered no other indication she was alive, although all knew that she was alive even if not conscious. Aythadis took her head in his hands. From her face he pushed back her brown hair that had grown longer since her secret was revealed and the need for short, boyish hair was gone. He focussed his eyes on her face then closed his eyes as he concentrated on Ilyena and she alone.

He opened his eyes and they were changed. Instead of green, his eyes now flashed gold with blue highlights. As he maintained his focus on the unconscious girl he passed his right hand across her forehead while cradling her head in his left hand. Then he slowly and gently placed her head on an article of clothing he had grasped and brought over moments before. He closed his eyes. When he opened his eyes, they were once more their familiar green color. Aythadis sighed somewhat wearily and rose to his feet. Edes and Coronis immediately stepped forward to be of assistance. Valygar was nearby as well, freed by Coronis from his oar as she thought his help would be needed.

The tall man turned to the ship's healer and said, "She is well, but exhausted, and needs rest. Much has occurred to her over these two days and it has overwhelmed her. She will be fine."

Valygar moved as if to pick up the girl, but Edes stayed his arm. "Valygar, may I please?" The usually silent seaman looked first to Aythadis and then to Coronis. She nodded her head, her face reflecting understanding. Valygar smiled and stepped back. "As you wish, Edes," he said.

Edes knelt down and slid his arms under the girl, one arm under herlower back and the other under her lower thighs, near her knees. He pushed up on his leg and tightened his muscles so that he could bear her weight as he lifted her from the deck. She was remarkably light... and soft.

Edes straightened up to his full heighth and shifted her body so that her side rested against his chest. In doing so, the movement disturbed Ilyena's gown where it covered her upper thigh, the one that bore the scar. Remarkable! All around her noticed that the scars were now barely visible. They appeared as three very light streaks across her thigh when only a short time earlier they were much more highly visible.

Edes noticed only momentarily, for just as he shifted Ilyena in his grasp, Ilyena gave out a very low moan and slightly opened her eyes. The first thing she saw was Edes. The hint of a smile formed on her face and she moved her head so that she could rest it comfortably on Edes' shoulder with her forehead near his neck. Then she lapsed back into inactivity, but this time it was sleep not unconsciousness that claimed her... a sleep borne of contentment and trust rather than physical exhaustion.

Coronis led the way to her cabin and its bunks with Edes following. The Tyrean paused only once and that was to speak to Thanatos where the Ares-worshipper was sitting in his oarsman's place. Though embattled below so that he could not witness the deed himself, Edes soon learned how Thanatos had saved Ilyena from Seven Death. As he passed Thanatos Edes said, "I must speak with you later. There is something I must say and do." Then Edes hurried after Coronis.

Aythadis, following closely behind, heard the exchange and saw the puzzled look on Thanatos' face. As he approached the Thracian Aythadis heard him mutter, "Say and do what? I had a wrestling match with Seven Death, that is all. The girl did the rest."

Aythadis looked up to see Edes enter into Coronis' cabin and saw the door close behind them. "Thracian, you are about to learn the most valuable lesson ever in your young life. Listen closely to what Edes shall say. It will be to the benefit of you both." With that, the tall man walked towards the door of his own cabin and disappeared within.

Hamid ably steered the vessel north towards the beach below the Olmec village of Three Monkey, Jade Rain and River Sun.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 01-26-2001).]

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 01-29-01 06:03 ET (US)     207 / 220       
Edes was still in the cabin he'd brought Ilyena, even though Coronis had managed to shoo him out for a brief time while she examined the girl, when the Nautica made landfall. Bartuc entered with a stretcher and with help from Cerek the carried the girl back to the Olmec city.

A short while later the Olmec were busy preparing a feast and Thanos was playing run and fetch for Jade Rain. He was enjoying himself until he overheard Aythadis speak with Burnign Mirror.
"We should leave soon, " the tall man told the Olmec spritual leader.
"Your people have only returned this evening. Why hurry?"
"Because of the May, my friend. Seven Death will feel humilated enough to lead an expedition North. If he finds us here there will be war between your and his people. If we are gone, his reason for war will have gone and his people will not follow him in his fight."
The Olmec nodded thoughtfully.
"You see deep, messenger. It will be as you suggested, though it pains me to see you go."
He smiled and added
"I think my daughter will be sad to see you go as well."

Thanos couldn't tell bacause of the ruddy light of the totches, but Ayhtadis seemed to blush. However, his mind was suddenly turned to his own postion. What to do about Jade Rain. He was certainly fond of the girl and she seemed to be fond of him, but he could not face living here, on this side of the world, even if his father didn't care whether he lived or died. Would the girl want to come with them? Or would she too choose for what she knew best?

Deep in thought he wandered back to the cooking area.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 01-29-01 16:27 ET (US)     208 / 220       
Aythadis gathered the remaining crew together and told them of the plan to leave the Olmec village and attempt their return to home. All of them knew this would bring about a confrontation with the Kraken, the enforcer creature in the menagerie controlled by the Sea God, Poseidon. But there would be other challenges too, maybe more painful than defeat or death at the hands of the gods.

Thanos pondered what he should do about Jade Rain. Bartuc, ever the free spirit, wondered how to go about freeing himself of River Sun's attentions. Thanatos, for the first time in his life, felt a calling that was different; for he was being called to the girl named Three Monkey, now 14 and only two years away from being of age according to Olmec tradition.

Edes had no such concern. Troubled as he was with self- doubt about his worthiness for Ilyena, there was another matter that troubled him more. So when Aythadis signaled the conference was over, Edes secretly sought out Thanatos to do what he decided must be done. Thanatos tensed as Edes touched his arm to get his attention, then followed warily as Edes guided him to a quiet corner of the village where the Tyrean believed they would not be disturbed. Edes looked around to make sure they were alone and then began to say to Thanatos what was on his mind.

"Until now I have not had the chance to tell you I consider myself in your debt for your saving Ilyena from Seven Death."

Thanatos blinked. "Saved Ilyena? She saved me twice, once in the city and once when I made that foolish maneuver on that cursed High Priest. You have this all wrong, Tyrean, replied the Thracian.

Edes shook his head in disagreement. "No, I think not. You went to the city on your own against Aythadis' orders to attempt to rescue her. Then, weaponless, you defended Ilyena from Seven Death despite his knife and staff. No, Thanatos, I do not think I have it wrong."

Thanatos looked down at his feet momentarily, then looked at Edes. "It is I who was in your debt all along, Edes. You saved my life when Cerek would surely have ended my days. I saw no chance to help you in kind, but through Ilyena I hoped to make good on my debt. You are not in my debt at all."

"There is something I must say and do regardless. Then your opinion may change substantially," said Edes, his face becoming even more serious and strained. He reached into his shirt and from some compartment within near his waist so its bulk would not be visible he drew out a small pouch. Opening the pouch he withdrew a small object about the size of an unshelled almond. It was red in color and sparkled in the moonlight.

"The Jewel of Ares!" exclaimed Thanatos. "You had this jewel all of this time?! You were the thief I sought?!" His hand involuntarily reached for the hilt of his sword... and then rested there. Edes made no move to defend himself. Thanatos looked at Edes and saw what he had never expected to see in the young man's eyes. No, not fear... It was sadness, regret, shame. Thanatos removed his hand from his sword's hilt and held it out to Edes, palm up. Edes handed the jewel and pouch to Thanatos seemingly sighing in relief.

"It is done," he said resignedly. "But Thanatos, I am not the thief who stole this jewel from Ares. Here is the truth of the matter. There was another who stole this jewel who was clever of hand but not of mind. Not knowing its value that temple thief wagered his red gem in a cube game with me and others. I carried special cubes then that always won. So you see, while I stole the jewel from the real thief, I did not steal it from the Temple of Ares itself. Until you appeared I had no idea it was the jewel of a god. I thought it a valuable gem and that is all. It has troubled me ever since... well, ever since I met Aythadis in Tyre, met and heard you on the ship and learned Ilyena's secret.'

'What I did was not right. I cannot represent myself to Ilyena as worthy of her if I carry the evidence of my failings with me knowing full well what I should do to make amends. If you cannot call me friend after this, I understand. But at least you will be at peace with your god and your mission accomplished. Farewell, Thanatos. Tell Aythadis I have learned his lessons well and my failure is plain to see." Edes turned and began to walk towards the village's perimeter, obviously intent on entering the jungle bound for some unknown destination away from the village and the ship.

Thanatos stared after the young man in surprise and no small amount of confusion. It was nearly too late when the Thracian finally reacted. "Edes, wait!" Thanatos ran after the Tyrean. Now at the very edge of the jungle, Edes stopped and turned around to see why Thanatos called.

"Edes, you are more worthy than you know," said Thanatos, breathing hard after closing the distance between the two. "You should not be the judge, let Ilyena be the judge. Tell her what you have done. Give her some time and then you will know whether she finds you worthy or not. Do this and I shall consider all debts repaid... you understand?"

"I think so," said Edes. "But I don't know how telling her of the thief I was would make me worthy in her eyes."

"Just do it, Edes. Promise it to me on the souls of your ancestors," said Thanatos.

Edes looked at Thanatos thoughtfully. "Alright, Thanatos. I promise on the souls of my ancestors." Then Edes walked away once more, but this time in the direction of the village and the place where Ilyena rested.

Thanatos looked down and stared at the red jewel turning it over and over in his hand. Making up his mind, he placed the jewel in its pouch then reached into a pocket and withdrew the piece of bone with the carving of the open hand given to him in a dark Tyrean alley by Aythadis. He replaced the piece of bone in his pocket with the jewel pouch. Then he purposefully walked in the direction of the place where he last saw Aythadis. It was time he became a member of the crew.

A little corner of his mind gnawed at him, however. 'What of Three Monkey?' it said to him over and over. 'What of Three Monkey?'

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 01-30-01 11:38 ET (US)     209 / 220       
Edes found the dwelling in which Ilyena rested. More accurately, he saw Coronis leaving one of the dwellings and surmised Ilyena was there. He was correct.

Coronis smiled when she saw him. "She's awake and inside, Edes. She is getting stronger all of the time. Ilyena will be good as new by tomorrow."

Edes smiled. "I can see her can't I?"

"There is no reason not to," the ship's healer replied.

The Tyrean entered the dwelling, a kind of square mud plastered box, and saw Ilyena sitting up against one of the walls on a thickly woven mat. She smiled prettily when he walked in and motioned to him to sit down beside her.

"Coronis says you will be good as new in another day," began Edes, his face still reflecting the seriousness of his thoughts.

"I'm glad you are here," was all Ilyena said in response. Then she studied his face and read a troubled mind in his eyes. "What is wrong, Edes?"

"I must tell you something. I... I... Well, you must be the judge..." Then Edes told his story of his past and how he came to possess the red jewel of Ares.

Ilyena said nothing, listening closely and intently. Then she said, "And you gave the jewel to Thanatos? He never asked you for it or accused you of having it?"

"Yes, that is true," replied Edes. Ilyena paused a moment then smiled.

"Why Edes, that is a noble thing you did, not the act of a thief or a scoundrel." On impulse she reached out both arms and placed them around Edes' neck.

"But my past!" protested Edes.

"It's another Edes," said Ilyena. "Not my Edes." With that she drew him down and placed a warm kiss on his lips. Edes lost his balance and toppled over onto his back, Ilyena falling over on top of him.

"Ilyena! You're not strong enough for..." protested Edes anew.

"Quiet Edes! I'm strong enough for this." And she began to place kiss after kiss on the Tyrean's face until Edes was finally convinced all was well. He then relaxed and began to enjoy the moment with Ilyena.

____________________________________________________________

Thanatos saw the tall man standing near the village fire seemingly lost in thought. He hesitated only a moment then walked up to Aythadis, bone chit in hand...

Cyber Paladin
Pleb
posted 01-31-01 04:29 ET (US)     210 / 220       
Bartuc watched Thanatos approached Aythadis, both of whom chatted on and on and on, but Bartuc didn't seem to be interested.

Very unusually, Bartuc hanging alone in the forest, where the birds were chirping, the wind blowing gently and the setting Sun spreading gold onto the small stream which shined like the Sun itself.
Nautica will be departing two days later... "I've got to leave..." Bartuc said to himself...
River Sun... her smile, her angelic face, her laughter who sounded like a silver bell and her ever charming presense... Suddenly all the happy times he spent with her faded into his mind: From their first meet when Yanil cried, to their long journey to the Aztec, to their unforgettable chats at countless nights. Everything seemed so embossing in the heart of Bartuc. Departure is not a novelty, but departing from someone... someone like River Sun is surely the first time.
The feeling is not like separating from Edes in the early age. It seems like separating from a part of his body, from a part of his mind, from a part of his life. Is this feeling called "love"?

Why shouldn't I take her with me?
No.... her family is here... It's way too selfish to have her seperate with her homeland... Wandering is not for anyone...
Stay! Stay and marry her!
Crazy!

Bartuc shook his head and dismissed the troubling mind.
"No... someone like me shouldn't be in love anyway...." he thought to himself. With a final decision, with a desperate mind, he walked to River Suns hut.
Surprisingly, right as he turned around and placed a few steps. A pair of little warm palms went on his eyes.
"Guess who I am Tuc?" That was the heartwarming voice of River Sun, but Bartuc was not in the mood of playing.
"River Sun..." mumbled Bartuc, his sad expression certainly alerted River Sun when he turned around.
"What is it? What's the matter?" Smiled River Sun, with her large black eyes which glimmered in the evening and her smooth little cheek which showed a tinge of pink under the light brown skin.
Bartuc took a deep breath and finally broke the silence.
"You know... I've got to leave soon..."
"....." River Sun looked down and sighed.
"I will never forget you, never." Bartuc whispered, assuring River Sun, whose eyes are already moistened. It was a bit too late, River Sun fell forward and embraced Bartuc with her flawless arms. Irresistably, he draw his arms around and hugged the crying girl, tears began to flow down on his white cheek.
"No don't cry, you're a man Bartuc." Say the Olmec girl, who then combed her hair running onto her back unbraided like a black waterfall. Tears still flooding her crytal clear eyes.
Without a word, Bartuc reached his pocket inside near his waist and drew a small ornament about the size of a thumb. It was a silver polar star, hanged in a thin blue ribbon.
"I don't know where this comes from, but it has followed be since I was born." And he placed his hands around her and put the silver star on her neck. Beautiful. The star shined in her chest, beautiful!
"Don't forget me, Bartuc." The girls voice shivered in tears and she placed a shell in Bartucs hand. It was about the size of a coin and is richly carved with text not known. "It's blessed, it will bring you good luck." River Sun tried to smile, but tears already rained down.
"I will never forget you..." And the girl once again put her arms around Bartuc.
"Me too... ever.." he said while drawing his hands around the Olmec girl.

"Poor Bartuc..." Said Edes, who has been observing from a distace with Ilyena during a stroll in the forest. "He was never serious. He is now, but he's got to leave..."
"Poor Bartuc, not as fortunate as us right Edes?" Smiled Ilyena.

[This message has been edited by Cyber Paladin (edited 01-31-2001).]

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 01-31-01 10:08 ET (US)     211 / 220       
"You remember when you gave me this chit?" Thanatos asked the tall man.
"I do" Aythadis answered, his eyes searching the Thracian's face.
Thanatos handed Aythadis the chit and said:
"I want to join your crew."
Green eyes met brown as Aythadis accepted the chit and answered:
"You are welcome, but I think you joined it some time ago. So what are you going to do with your jewel now you retrieved it?"
"How...?"
Thanatos shook his head and continued,
"Never mind, you seem to have your ways. I...I don't know yet, but I'm thinking about it."
"And the girl?"
"I'm thinking about her too, more than about that stone actually. Any hints?"
"Just follow your heart.
Thanks, Thanatos" Aythadis answered as he pocketed the chit and turned.

"Thanks for what?" Thanatos mumbled and walked off to find Three Monkey.


The rest of the day was filled with hustle and bustle of filling the holds of the Nautica with food and water for the journey backwards. A small stack of gifts was growing besides the communal palapa.


On the evening before the Nautica's scheduled departure Thanos, who had been evading Jade Rain, approached the girl's house.
"So? You're leaving?" The young Olmec woman asked.
"Yes, " Thanos stammered, "How did you know?"
"I could see it in your face, your stance. You're easy to read, Thanos."
"I, I have to go home. Would you...would you come with me?"
Jade Rain touched his cheek, smiled then shook her head.
"No Thanos, I will not leave my people or my land. My heart lies here and my bones will lie here too. I could not leave and live in a strange country. No more than you could."
"But..."
"I'm sorry, Thanos. Farewell, may the gods protect you."
She lightly kissed him on the lips and walked away.

"I'll never forget you..." Thanos mumbled...

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 01-31-01 15:59 ET (US)     212 / 220       
Edusse saw to the rebalancing and refitting of the ship. Jungle woods were hewn to replace worn or damaged fittings on the ship. Soon the sun rose on their day of departure.

The men and women of the crew took their places on the Nautica Prima. Aythadis waited on the shore with the Olmecs who had gathered there. Burning Mirror soon appeared with two Olmec villagers.

"We wish you a short and safe journey," began the Olmec leader. "As a humble token of our thanks for bringing to us peace with the Aztecs, the villagers have each placed objects of modest value in this chest. It is for those who with leave with you." The two Olmecs presented Aythadis with a moderately sized wooden chest. Aythadis motioned to two of the crew to take the chest onto the ship.

Then Burning Mirror said, "And this is for you, our friend from afar, from my daughter and me." Aythadis accepted the small pouch and opened it spilling the contents onto the palm of his hand. They were kauri shells which Aythadis knew was a medium of exchange and of significant value to the Olmecs. Aythadis bowed and indicated his acceptance of the gifts.

"I have nothing left to give you in exchange, "Burning Mirror," said Aythadis. "I feel inadequately prepared to accept your gifts."

Burning Mirror shook his head. "You have given this village the gift of peace. It is enough. Farewell, Aythadis." Burning Mirror turned and walked back to the Olmecs on the beach to observe the vessel's departure. Aythadis walked up the plank and signaled to Idomenus to depart. The gangplank was drawn into the ship, the anchor weighed and the ship's oars began to propel the vessel backwards and towards the open sea.

A short distance from the shore where the water was deep the Captain ordered the ship to be turned about. Hamid swung the tiller and the men on the port side of the ship rowed alone. The bow of the ship turned to the starboard and faced the open sea, its painted blue eyes looking to the east, their homeland and the throne of Poseidon.

In the depths of the open sea a distance beyond the view of the Olmecs and the sailors of the Nautica Prima waited the Kraken.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 01-31-2001).]

Nutmegger
Pleb
posted 01-31-01 16:13 ET (US)     213 / 220       
The cook surveyed his restocked galley. Wicker baskets and pottery had replaced his wooden crates, lost to the Mayans. He carefully consulted his notes to be sure that he would be able to prepare the recipes he had seen while in the Olmec village. For now at least, the stew pot would be retired. The cook worried whether the fresh produce would keep on the long sea voyage ahead, but the crew seemed sure that the Kraken would make this a short voyage, for better or ill. He looked to the corner of the galley where Yanil had formerly sat. Ilyena was elsewhere at the moment, and he did not begrudge her the time. He remembered being young, and smiled quietly at the memories.
Smack
Pleb
posted 01-31-01 19:25 ET (US)     214 / 220       
Hamid stood at the tiller, as usual. The hot tropical sun was nearing the zenith. A firm breeze picked up and sped the Nautica westward, and Idomenus called off the rowers. Suddenly, Hamid and the rowers saw waves coming from ahead. The wind continued to blow, but the waves grew stronger and stronger. The ship began to rock from bow to stern. Then, a frighteningly familiar scaly form appeared above the water....

"KRAKEN!" yelled a dozen voices.

Micah Aragorn
Pleb
posted 02-01-01 05:55 ET (US)     215 / 220       
"Coronis! Get below and stay in your cabin." Cerek was telling her. "There is nothing you can do here. You will be safer there."

"But I may be needed here for..."she started to reply but was quickly cut off.

"If you are needed I will come and get you. Please Coronis go below",Cerek's words pleading with her.

"Yes Coronis, it will be safer." This time Edes spoke as he had listened to Cerek's plea. "And take Ilyena with you."

"No!" Ilyena protested. "I will not go. I won't leave your side."

"Ilyena, you can't stay up here. You will be in grave danger." Edes sounded his concern and his eyes reflected the danger that was about to happen. Ilyena put her arms around Edes and laid her head against his chest fearing she may not see him again.

Cerek held Coronis by her waist and looking into her eyes with his own pleaded his case. Gently kissing her lips he moved his head to motion her away.

Coronis understood and taking the still protesting Ilyena by the arm they headed to the cabin.

Edes called Valygar over to him,"Stay with them Valygar and make sure they are safe. Don't let Ilyena up here."

"Understood." Valygar simply replied.

Bartuc readied his crossbow and made sure his arrows were close at hand. Edes and Thanatos each had pulled their swords from their sheaths and held their sheilds. And finally Cerek took his bow and the arrows he had made in the Olmec village and prepared for the Kraken. His shield close at hand for when his bow would be of no use.

Although each had survived many perils this journey none had to endure the likes of the Kraken. In their hearts and their minds they knew only a god-like miracle would save them now.

As Hamid continued to steer the Nautica Prima he was unsure of what he had just seen. Looking past the Kraken he swore he had seen the waters churn and bubble and the form of two large eyes staring at the ship before they quickly disappeared below the water. Poseidon himself? Nah!It couldn't have been....

[This message has been edited by Micah Aragorn (edited 02-01-2001).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 02-01-01 11:25 ET (US)     216 / 220       
Aythadis observed the great squidlike bulk of the Kraken rise from the depths even as had others among the crew. They are surely brave, he thought, but they cannot defeat the Kraken. Only a god can defeat a titan. And the Kraken, the last of the Titans, was a valuable and obediant servant to Poseidon. It was not likely Poseidon would sacrifice the Kraken for a shipful of mortals. No... there was only one way to meet Poseidon's condition for forgiveness and freedom - for the mortals to honor him in some special way above other gods in his own kingdom.

Aythadis believed he knew the solution, but was prevented from intervening by his agreement with the Sea God. Will that certain member of the crew realize and volunteer the solution thus enabling them to return home? Aythadis could only hope.

DarthBane
Pleb
posted 02-01-01 14:11 ET (US)     217 / 220       
Thanatos heard the shouting, especially the one word he least wanted to hear.

Kraken.

He quickly garabbed his sword, since he was already armoured up, and strode out of the door. A split second later he came back through the door, grabbed the jewel, and walked to the deck.

"poseidon!" He shouted.

everyone seemed to freeze in their tracks. He heard a booming voice.

"What is it, impudent Ares-worshipper?"

"I must speak to Ares," Thanatos shouted, slightly quieter, "I have his jewel and wish to return it!"

"Why should I contact Ares?" Poseidon asked.

"You'll see, you'll see......." Thanatos said, his voice drifting into the roar of the waves.

"Very well, but I shall destroy you within a heartbeat if you deceive me, and the crew of the ship as well"

"As you wish, lord of the seas"

The water became calm moments later. Thanatos wondered what was going on, when suddenly another booming voice, but a much more menacing one, erupted through the clouds.

"What is you want, my favoured child?"

"I have found your jewel," Thanatos said, without emotion.

"Why did you not refer to me as usual, o favoured child?"

"I have served you since I was old enough to crawl, Master. I have performed many tasks for you," Thanatos said, when Poseidon interrupted with "Yes? And?"

"I have served you many years. But I have never really lived. I have never felt emotion, never felt happiness. what I am saying is, for retrieving this jewel, I wish to leave my service as your personal assassin, permanently. I shall return this to you, and be free to live my own life, and to do what I wish."

Thanatos waited as Ares pondered this. Ares very unexpectedly said, "I hereby disown you as my adopted son. you have served your purpose, and, besides, I have another who will gladly take your place......."
Then the sky became quiet and the seas erupted again. Everyone continued moving, as if they didn't realise something had happened. But perhaps they didn't realise, Thanatos wondered. But it wasn't the time for that. Thanatos pulled the jewel out of his pocket and threw it as far as he could into the air. Just as it was about to start falling it disappeared with a flash of bright flame.

Thanatos turned around and noticed everyone was watching him. Especially Athaydis, who seemed to realise what had just happened, whose eyes seemed to be burning into the soul he had just recently realised he had....

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 02-01-01 16:17 ET (US)     218 / 220       
Aythadis made as if to speak, but Thanatos silenced the tall man with a firm hand gesture. Then Thanatos walked to the ship's portside railing and called out.

"POSEIDON!" Hear me! I have renounced Ares and cast his jewel from this vessel. Free my shipmates and allow them to return home." The waters near the ship turned blue-green with undersea turmoil, the upper surface roiling as a great green headed man elevated himself shoulder high above the ship's maindeck.

"That you have done, mortal... But none of this has satisfied my condition - to honor me. Until then, none shall return to their homes." Poseidon stared expressionless at those on the ship, waiting for their response.

Thanatos looked around behind him and saw the faces drop on his shipmates. Never to return home? At sea in foreign lands forever? Lost and then to die...

Thanatos turned back to Poseidon only to see him begin to return to his place beneath the waves. "Halt, God of the Sea! I make one more sacrifice on behalf of these men. I wear the armor given to me by the God of War. No other god can commission the creation of such armor and only Ares' chosen and most faithful are permitted to wear it."
Thanatos quickly slipped off the black armor from his upper body and together with his black shield and sword threw the finely crafted work over the railing and into the water of the sea. Poseidon watched Thanatos do this then dipped his monstrous hand into the sea bringing the armor, shield and sword to the surface once more in his palm.

"You cast this away in sacrifice to me, mortal?" asked the Sea God.

"I do, Poseidon," replied Thanatos.

"Then you have fulfilled my condition, mortal, and you and your shipmates are free to return. But remember this day and remember well my expectation... When you near my throne, homage is expected or the journey across the surface of my kingdom will be fraught with danger. Remember this well..." The huge hand of the god passed over the maindeck of the ship to deposit Thanatos' armor back on its surface.
"It is not the armor I desire, it is the act itself I demand." Then Poseidon waved his trident in the direction of the Kraken who immediately sank below the surface, as did Poseidon.

The tip of the trident appeared once more barely above the surface only a short distance away. It moved in a circular motion bringing again the inescapable Maelstrom. The Nautica Prima once more felt the irresistable pull of its spinning waters and again was drawn into its depths only to be sped swiftly within a water-lined tunnel to its outlet in a different sea.

Idomenus shouted to his first mate, Edusse. "What land is that you see, Edusse?!"

Edusse stared at the curving coast before him. "Captain, why I believe it to be Kypros! We are only a few leagues from Tyre!" A great cheer arose from the shipmates, first for the news their home was near, and then for Thanatos who delivered them from Poseidon and the Kraken.

Thanatos was surprised to hear the cheers and looked at Aythadis. The tall man seemed to have something to say and was waiting for the right moment to speak.

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 02-01-01 16:36 ET (US)     219 / 220       
As the crew bent to the task of getting the Nautica on course for Tyre, Aythadis walked over to Thanatos, who stood looking at the wine-coloured water of the Mediterranean. As the Thracian youth looked up he caught Aythadis smile, and felt the warmth of it nestle itself near his heart.
"You have grown, young one."
"Have I?
I've left behind all I know, threw away what I'm good at. Is that growing?"
"That is growing. As a child will leave it's parents once she grows up, taking with her the knowledge and the love they taught her, you have left Ares, but you haven't forsaken him. I think he understands, and wouldn't mind the odd visit from you in one of his temples."

Thanatos considered this for a while, then opened his mouth to answer. The answer never came as his attention was caught by a small figure climbing from the hold, running towards him, long, dark hair flying. Three Monkey threw her arms around him and sobbed against his chest.
"I was so scared, Thanatos, I was so scared..."
His hands reached up to hold her, carressing her hair.
Aythadis smile deepened and seemed to take way all need for words.

Together the three of them stood at the railing as the Nautica made for Tyre. The ship's shadow reached out for the shore as the sun set behind them.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 02-01-01 21:36 ET (US)     220 / 220       
EPILOGUE

And so it came to pass that the crew of the Nautica Prima finally made the port of Tyre. And the gold and silver in the chest from the Olmecs was divided among them in equal shares as commanded by Aythadis, ship's owner. He took no share from the chest, preferring instead to retain the shells given to him by Burning Mirror. "For another journey and another day," the tall man said when asked the reason why.

To some of them Aythadis gave once more a piece of carved bone for the next journey he might undertake. Then he sent the members of the crew on their way.

Cerek and Coronis were married the next day and made their home in the port of Tyre. Zeos and Bartuc, odd couple as they might be, sought adventure in the west near a prosperous city that called itself Roma. Hamid sailed southwest to Egypt, tillerman on another trading vessel. Edusse returned to Celtia to reclaim his home and land. Cook began the long search for his lost daughter. Idomenus retired at last from a life at sea. Thanos remained with Aythadis for the while.

Leaving the ship for the last time, Thanatos waved to Edes and Ilyena as he walked north along the waterfront of Tyre. Then turned his attention to Three Monkey. "I would like to change my name to something different as I am no longer the servant of Ares. Would you mind, Three Monkey?"

"No, as long as you don't change with your name," she answered.

"I won't, I promise... So tell me, suppose I choose the name Theocritos. What do you think of that name? Or maybe..."

Edes looked back for the last time at the ship, waving a final farewell he thought to the tall man who owned it. He saw Aythadis wave back. Then Edes looked at the young woman on his arm, smiled and received a warm smile in return. They rounded a corner arm in arm and nearly collided with a street youth, about 16 years of age, who was standing there a sly look in his eyes. His black hair was unkept, his eyes darted left, right then beyond Edes and Ilyena and back to them again, as if he feared discovery.

"Just came off that ship?" the youth asked.

"Yes," replied Edes.

"Like games, seaman?"

"What kind of games?"

"Cubes, maybe. Try your luck, seaman?" And the dirty faced youth brought out a pair of spotted cubes that looked remarkably like the ones lost by Edes long ago. Ilyena tugged at Edes arm and whispered, "That was then, Edes... Let's go." The youth held out a few coins. "You might win some of these from me. Others have."

Edes looked at Ilyena and gave her a reassuring smile. Then he said to the youth. "I have something better than cubes. Here, see this?" Edes drew out the carved bone chit given to him by Aythadis. "I give this to you for I have no further use of it and you look like you do. Take this chit and go to the Tyrean pier. Seek out the Nautica Prima. Find the tall man with green eyes and give this to him. He will make you rich beyond your wildest dreams. That's what he did for me."

The youth's eyes opened wide at the sight of the chit. He took it from Edes, looking around to make sure nobody saw or heard their conversation. Then he turned about and without saying another word ran directly towards the pier.

"Hmmm, he didn't thank you, did he?" said Ilyena.

"No, he didn't. Nor did I when it was given to me by a tall stranger in the dark of the night."

"So you think Aythadis made you rich beyond your wildest dreams, do you, Edes?" teased Ilyena. Edes looked deeply into sparkling eyes filled with the light of affection.
He squeezed her hand in reply.

"Yes, in every way I can imagine." He drew her closer as they walked towards the heart of Tyre.


THE END

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