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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:
DarthBane
Pleb
posted 12-08-00 12:40 ET (US)     126 / 220       
"I am nobody" the stranger replied.

"Who are you?" Athaydis asked again. Cerek started to unsheath his sword. Athaydis held his hand up to Cerek.
Cerek found it rather odd, since he was behind Athaydis, and how could he have heard it over the loud murmuring?

"I am nobody. I was kidnapped as a baby, and trained by the Priests of Ares' secret Temple for my entire life. I wasn't even given a name, except "The Dark Prodigy" owing to my skills in assassination. I was sent to retrieve this for Him, so that I could, perhaps one day, join him in Olympus..." His voice trailed off, and he sighed.
"Go on, Cerek, kill me. I'm a nobody, nobody would weep if I were dead. You know how desperate you are to do it." The stranger continued.

"No, Cerek, if you do, you will be as bad a person as him. You stopped Edes, now I'm going to stop you," Athaydis replied, quickly.

"I wasn't going to. I remembered what I taught Edes, and realised that if I didn't stick by it, Edes might think I lied to him, and become a killer." Cerek said, somewhat wistfully.

Smack
Pleb
posted 12-11-00 11:12 ET (US)     127 / 220       
At that, Cerek picked up his sword, wiped off the blood, put it back in its scabbard, and walked slowly back to his berth. The crowd that had been watching began to break up, as well. The dark man left too, in the other direction. Idomenus took charge.

"I don't know where we are, and I really don't understand how we got here, but let's get that sail back down and take a look at that shoreline."

A few men with small remnants of vomit on their lips, chins, and noses stumbled below decks to their rowing stations. Hamid and about four others unreefed the sail, and the Nautica Prima was under way. The coast here was really beautiful, and unlike anything that any of the men had ever seen. A few had heard of the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon, but this was lusher and grander than anything a human hand could have made. Fortunately, there was no sign of human settlement other than the compact cluster of rectangular cliff dwellings. If they kept close to the shore, they could avoid being tracked to their landing site.

[This message has been edited by Smack (edited 12-11-2000).]

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 12-12-00 03:41 ET (US)     128 / 220       
Suddenly another sound could be heard a deep sound as if a horn was blown high up the cliff side, followed by an answering call from near the beach.

Aythadis sharp eyes made out a dark-skinned figure dressed in a kilt and a feathered cloak. The figure wore strangely wrought headdress and blew on a large conch shell.

"Look!"
Yanil's voice sounded clear as a gull's cry.

The boy's shout drew all eyes towards the near shore, where a handful of large canoes approached. In it were more men of the same type, with white kilts and multicolour cloaks. Some carried feathered shields and wooden sticks with large darts. The rowers, more swarthy than the other occupants rowed the canoes in a steady beat towards the Nautica.

Aythadis calmed the crew as weapons were drawn.
"Hush, my friends. We don't know if they mean any harm, now do we?"

The larger of the canoes, carved with fantastical animals, drew nearer. A dark man, even more richly dressed than the others and with bits of jade in his ears and round his neck and wrists, called out to the Nautica.
"A'k cauac tlotl yax moch."

Thanos looked at Aythadis who shook his head.
"I haven't got a clue what he's talking about, but we might try to find out."
Aythadis answered,
"Ah, we come in peace?"

It wasn't his most brilliant greeting ever, but events were following each other a bit rapidly. It also was a bit of a bother not to let on to the crew he understood exactly what the Priest in the canoo had said. His question was about as original as Aythadis' answer, namely "Where does the great canoo come from?"

As the two of them conversed in Olmec and Phoenician, Aythadis wove power in a way that the language of the Olmec would be learned by most if not all of the crew in a much shorter time than normally. With this he planted a small suggestion in the crew that it all somehow sounded familiar.

After a while, where the discussion started to include many and signals and wide facial expressions, Aythadis nodded and turned to his crew.
"I think we're invited for a party."

Jaguar
Pleb
posted 12-13-00 14:43 ET (US)     129 / 220       
"What kind of party, Aythadis? We are not to be the main course are we? I have heard terrible stories about people eating people in strange lands. I hope they were just stories..." Yanil was looking a little pale.

"I don't believe so, Yanil." Aythadis said. Let's bring some food supplies with us to share.

At this, Zeos and Cook went below deck to grab some crates that weren't spoiled along with some spices. Meanwhile Coronis made sure that her medicine bag was stocked. You never knew who would need help.

Yanil, Edes and Bartuc were among the first to follow Aythadis onto one of the smaller canoes. Once the crew had ensured that the ship was not going anywhere and everyone was aboard the canoes, the group set back to shore.

[This message has been edited by Jaguar (edited 12-13-2000).]

Smack
Pleb
posted 12-13-00 20:36 ET (US)     130 / 220       
Hamid was very uneasy about all this. Barbarians... strange land... who knew what they could be up to. He remembered his friend's tale of narrow escape from the Celts. No... must... suppress... thought. We don't know anything about these people. Chances are, they're peaceful. If they're not, he realized, the crew probably has Ares' protection.
With that thought, he took another look at the approaching shore. The sandy beach ended quickly, and a jungle began. No trails leading up to the cliff dwellings were visible. One way or another, it sure must be interesting amongst the trees. A native of the desert, Hamid had never gone deep into a forest. Sure, there were forests in some of the lands he had visited. But he did not want to get lost, and shore leave was seldom more than two days, anyway.
Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 12-14-00 08:22 ET (US)     131 / 220       
A raucous cawing sounded when Aythadis got of the canoo. Several of the Nautica's crew looked around nervously until the spotted the origin of the sound a few large birds with bright red feathers and huge beaks were sitting in a tree close by.

The indian dignitary smiled and said:
"Guacamaya"
"Guacamaya?" Yanil repeated hesitantly.
The indian smiled.

The indians dragged the canoes onto the beach and the older indian motioned them to follow him. With warriors on the head and tail of the group they entered a mulch covered path in the forest. Handsized spiders rushed off, flowers in strange colours and shapes hung from trees in more different shapes and sizes than any of the crew, save one, could imagine. After a few minutes they could hear the murmer of voices

They reached a clearing with leaf roofed wooden houses, women in white dresses were busy with weaving and preparing food and naked children played between the houses, chasing lizards andhaving fun.

One of the little ones, a girl chased by two little boys waving toy swords ran between the warriors and came to a halt when she bumped into Edes. She ttok one look at him and feld back the way she came from. Bartuc laughed,
"Well you made an impression."
Edes felt like wanting to kick his friend, but refrained. There were too many people looking at them.

Behind the wooden houses larger buildings rose, with stone carved faces and richly painted stucco walls. The crew's senses were assaulted by a riot of colour and unknown smells and sounds.

Following the old indian they ended up in a long shaped house with a leaf roof. The indian signalled to them to sit down and motioned Aythadis to speak to him. The tall man, a head and a half taller than the natives, complied as the indian ground strange gums and fibers together with a pestle and kiln. Then added juice of a small green fruit and drank the resulting mixture.

He listened again to Aythadis and after another 30 minutes he smiled and said inpassable Greek.
"Welcome to Dawn or as my people say Zama. My name would be Smoking Mirror."
A stunned look crossed Aythadis face, but was quickly gone.
"Mine is Aythadis and this is my crew."

He proceeded to introduce the crew, including Thanatos.
"I am impressed with your Art, Lord Smoking Mirror."
Then he added
"Would you be able to help me and my crew in a similar way so we can understand your language?"

Smoking Mirror cocked his haed as if listening to an inner voice.
"I will be able to help you, but it will take me till night fall before I can get the mixture together.
In the mean time I will see refreshments brought to you and yours."

With that Smoking Mirrir stood, turned and left the Nautica's crew.

Cyber Paladin
Pleb
posted 12-14-00 08:58 ET (US)     132 / 220       
"Well then, he knows Greek!?" Zeos was in his ever puzzling expression, but this time, even more.
"That was the potion that grants him the ability to speak our language." Explained Aythadis, "And tonight he'll give you that."
"So we can speak their language then?" Asked Bartuc.

A quick nod came from Aythadis who then went to help getting the beverage offered.
The drink is held in clay cups about half a coconut size.

Gulp gulp.... most crews find this fruit juice very refreshing... except one...
"Urgh..." muttered Yanil as he dips his lips into the mixture... "What a disgusting smell..." He noticed that a little girl stood beside him, looking deeply into his bowl of juice.
"So you want this?" said Yanil, who is quite happy to let go of this juice in a courteous way, and handed out his juice.
"Sardsatgufa" Said the little girl to Yanil when she quickly finished the juice, still licking her lips.
"Sardsatgufa?" repeated Yanil, but he soon noticed a group of children were giggling...

The crew didn't recieve the order to group, but none of them dare go too far. They simply do their normal pass time during the late afternoon to wait for the potion.

At last the chariot of Apollo is reaching his destination, the sea is once again shining with golden sparks. The sea and the sun is so familar to the crew, yet seemed so novel to them.
Smoking Mirror came out from his house, with a couple of maids behind him.

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 12-15-00 05:04 ET (US)     133 / 220       
The girls carried a large pottery vessel with them. Shaped like a fish, with a wide open mouth, glazed black and carved with lines for fins and gills exposing it's original red colour it was a marvelous pot.

Cook looked at it with appreciation for the art of it. He relaxed somewhat more. A people that would make a cooking vessel into a work of art couldn't be too bad.

Smoking Mirror asked the crew of the Nautica to sit in a circle and went round the circle with a richly carved ladle, which he dipped deep into the vessel before feeding the brew to each of the crew in turn.
It had a rich fruity taste with a slight Smoking tang hidden in it's depth that left your mouth tingling, thought Thanos as he swirled the draught around in his mouth and swallowed.

Then he blushed as he overheard and suddenly understood the girls' admiring comments. This brought more giggles from the girls and, he thought, a blush on one of their faces, although it was hard to tell in the semi darkness.

Bright lights burned in small pottery lamps and a smell of resin wafted in on the slight breeze. The sounds that came from the jungle were many and varied. Some of the crew nearly jumped when a raw whooping sound came from nearby. Smoking Mirror smiled and said:
"Monkey" Thanos was sure the man actually said something else, but couldn't put his finger on what he'd actually said. He was sure, however, what the man meant.

As the last of the crew had taken it's ladle full of the potion, Smoking Mirror moved to the center of the circle and spoke. His language sounded rich and full of strange sounds and glottal stops but no one could doubt he understood what the man told them.

"My name is Smoking Mirror and you have come to Zama, the City of the Dawn. We are the Olmec people and I am their spirit guide. Tonight we will feast you and tomorrow we will decide where the gods want you to go from here."

He clapped in his hands and people came into the large hut bringing great leaves filled with rich smelling food. Green vegetables, hot red and green fruit, strange yellow kernels, flat bread and roasted meat. Some of it fish, soem of it fowl and even something that looked like rabbit, but wasn't. With it they served, juice of various fruits some thinned with water to a light drink, a strangely sparkling juice they called pulque and a fiery water named tq'ila.

The Nautica's crew enjoyed their fest and soon everybody was eating and drinking and laughing. Cook had cornered one of they Olmecs and was asking him a thousand questions on the tantalising new tastes. Edes, Bartuc and Yanil were singing merry tunes, while Thanos was listening to Aythadis explaining Smoking Mirror where they came from.

Only Thanatos did not seem to enjoy the fest in their honour. With a dour face he sad brooding in a corner.

[This message has been edited by Jayhawk (edited 12-19-2000).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 12-16-00 13:23 ET (US)     134 / 220       
Yanil seemed perfectly at ease with these strange peoples, so much so that his usual self absorbed, withdrawn behavior was quite noticeable for its absence.

Bartuc jabbed his elbow into Edes side just as Edes took a bite of something exotic from one of the Olmec-proffered dishes. Edes barely swallowed in time to prevent an embarrassing session of coughing and choking followed by eye-watering and other behaviours impossible to explain to one's hosts.

"Look at Yanil, Edes," whispered Bartuc. "Do you notice something?"

"Wh..at, by the g..ods, Bartuc. You want me to choke to death or something?!"

"You'll live... Now look at Yanil and quit complaining... Like I said, notice something?"

"Notice what?"

"He looks different. Not as slender... Not so much like a boy would. See... when he dances with those indians?

"Bartuc, you worry me."

"No, Edes. There is something not quite normal with Yanil. I've noticed it the whole journey."

"You've bothered me with it the whole journey you mean."

"You'll see. We're going to discover something about Yanil, I'm sure, before we ever find our way home.

Bartuc and Edes were not the only two there with eyes focussed on Yanil. The Olmec chief, Smoking Mirror, was watching as well, but for his own reasons.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 12-18-2000).]

Micah Aragorn
Pleb
posted 12-17-00 04:50 ET (US)     135 / 220       
"Cerek!...CEREK!" Coronis nudged him with her elbow. Cerek gazing at her instead of Thanatos. "Stop staring at him like a lion hunting its prey. Watching its every move."

"I'm sorry Coronis," Cerek once again looking in Thanatos' direction. "I don't like him. His presence brings destruction with him while his name is derived from DEATH. Even Aythadis knows that. That's why he named him so."

"With all the new wonders about you," Coronis raising her arms and circling about her,"you are more concerned about Thanatos?"

"It's the soldier in me. When something feels a-miss then one must keep a vigil to protect," Cerek's frowning features reflecting the urgency in his words.

"Well,I for one," her voice sounding smug and scolding,"am not going to MISS this opportunity. You're missing all the enchanting things right under your nose."

Turning to the face he had grown very fond of on their voyage, "I haven't missed all the enchanting sites." Cerek again stared into her green eyes as they danced in the firelight. Coronis could feel the heat on her cheeks which she knew could not be from the fire she sat by. Quickly she turned her face to hide the reddening hue.

[This message has been edited by Micah Aragorn (edited 12-18-2000).]

Nutmegger
Pleb
posted 12-18-00 15:47 ET (US)     136 / 220       
The cook made sure that all of the tainted staples were carefully disposed of prior to leaving the ship. Looking at the painted pottery and inhaling the exotic smells, the cook had no doubt that these strangers had a cultivated sense of taste. He wondered for a moment if the crew would react as poorly as they usually did to anything "different". The local women found it amusing that he did "women's work", but were willing to show him their instruments and ingredients. The "flour" was like nothing he had ever seen. It was not made of "grain", but of a ground root. There was meat, but no cows, no chickens. The cook tried to take notes, but exhausted his hand and most of his paper supply before the evening was half over. It was all so beautiful that the cook's heart ached trying to find room to fit it all in.
Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 12-18-00 15:58 ET (US)     137 / 220       
Edes' face turned red once more after Bartuc stuck an elbow in his ribs again. "Stop it, Bartuc! You're really annoying me!"

Bartuc paid his usual attention to Edes' protests... no attention at all. "Look at Thanatos over there. What a grouch! I still say they should have thrown him overboard!"

Edes' looked disapprovingly at Bartuc. "He shouldn't be faulted for loyalty to his god and his mission, Bartuc. Remember, he tried to save the ship from the Kraken."

"I'm not so sure he tried to save the ship or in fact was protecting the jewel he thinks is on board somewhere," replied Bartuc. Edes looked away suddenly an odd expression on his face.

"Perhaps you are right, Bartuc. Maybe it is the jewel. But no one has found it yet. I suspect it doesn't really exist," said Edes.

Bartuc snorted derisively. "No one but Thanatos has looked for it. And his way is to bonk someone on the head before beginning the search. Aythadis won't let him do that anymore." Bartuc turned his head in Thanatos' direction and began to say, "Well, he had better not..." But Thanatos was not there any longer. In fact, Thanatos was nowhere to be seen. Bartuc grabbed Edes' arm excitedly. "Edes! He's gone! I'll bet he went to the ship! Let's follow him!"

Edes turned to look at Bartuc, was about to say something, then changed his mind and shrugged his shoulders. "Fine, Bartuc, let's go. This party is boring anyway." Edes gave a sideward glance to Yanil, who wasn't looking. Then satisfied that no one else was either, Edes got up and followed Bartuc away from the Olmec encampment and towards the ship. But one pair of bluish green eyes did notice their departure and that Thanatos was missing as well. Aythadis considered whether he should follow or not.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 12-19-2000).]

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 12-19-00 06:18 ET (US)     138 / 220       
Bartuc and Edes, reached the Nautica, which under Idomenes careful eye had been beached to keep it safe. The blunt prow was half sticking into the jungle and a pair of very skinny monkeys, with incredibly long arms and legs were sleeping in the rigging.

The two had had a couple of frights in the jungle, a load roar off to their left followed by a bat nearly flying in Bartuc's face. A bird had ran off into the brushes, making screaming noises from almost underneath Edes feet. The smell of unknown flowers was thick on the evening breeze.

Nervously they approached the Nautica. The moon cast sharp shadows and made the waves light up in their silver splendour. Nothing moved aboard the ship.

"Are you sure this is a good idea? " Bartuc whispered.
"Why are you suddenly asking me? You brought this up!"
"Not true. You wanted to find out what Thanatos was doing."
"I did!?" Edes voice nearly squeeked with indignation.

He turned to the ships and scrambled on board. If his friend thought it was his idea, he would show him he wasn't afraid. He was sure he wouldn't hear the end of it if he decided to return now.

Together they searched the ship and the hold, but nothing stirred. Nothing seemed disturbed. After a half hour the two youths got bored with it and climbed back down.
"Yeah, Edes, this was definitely one of your more brilliant ideas," Bartuc grumbled
"It wasn't..."
Edes swallowed his protest. Bartuc would turn things around again, whatever he said the white haired boy would surely twist it.

As they returned to the camp a dark shape was watching them from the tree line. When it was sure the two were gone, the shape flitted aboard the Nautica.

Halfway to the town Edes suddenly froze.
"What.."
"Hush! I hear something"
"What's that smell?"

Suddenly a large shape broke away from the darkness before them. Liquid in motion it moved forward, it's head hip-high to the boys, it's eyes growing pale green in the darkness.
The shape hissed and Edes hands went for the sword he quickly realised was still besides the fire. Cerek would have his hide, if whatever the creature before them was didn't get it first.

The shape flowed forward and moved into a patch of moonlight. Pale skin showed black splotches. Two large canines were clearly visible as the jaguar snarled at them. Slowly Edes tried to make Bartuc move backwards.
The jaguar moved like water falling and struck out with it's paw. A single nail broke the skin on the top of Edes right hand, then the creature turned and disappeared into the jungle.
"What the..." Bartuc cussed as Edes looked at the seemingly black blood welling up from the wound.
"I...I don't know. Let's hurry to the camp, I don't like it here." Edes mumbled.

The two of them trotted down the path back to the camp. Two pairs of eyes followed them, one green gold, the other morreion dark.
"The gods have touched that one. " Burning Mirror spoke softly as Edes and Bartuc disappeared from sight.
"I'd agree, " Aythadis answered.
"They have touched you as well...or..." the indian looked sharply at the Phoenicean trader. His eyes seemed to see more than normal mortals. As he watched Bruning Mirror saw two images super imposed, one of the dark haired trader, the other, though was what made him stop. Aythadis' eyes seemed liquid green gold and two raven coloured wings swept backwards behind and above his shoulders.

"Quetzalcoatl..." Burning Mirror murmered, almost to soft for Aythadis to hear as he lowered his eyes.
Aythadis reached out and gently tilted the older man's face back up.
"I am not a god, " he spoke, "At most I am a messenger, but never a god, Burning Mirror.
I speak truth..."

[This message has been edited by Jayhawk (edited 12-19-2000).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 12-19-00 15:47 ET (US)     139 / 220       
The dark form of a man leapt off the Nautica Prima where it lay beached and stood there staring at the ship, hands on hips. Then in a silent fit of anger or frustration, the dark form lifted a foot and kicked sand into the boat's painted eye. He mumbled some unpleasantries, turned about and walked into the nearby jungle and towards the Olmec town.

Edes and Bartuc stood open mouthed and stunned at the outer edges of the Olmec town. Bodies lay everywhere. Some were moving and emitting groaning sounds, others neither moved nor made sounds at all. Here and there the Phoenicians could see eyes peering at them from the dark. Small sounds from dark covered places told them that some were still alive, but too frightened to come out.

Among the fallen Olmecs were others, not dressed as the Olmecs, but dressed with feather arrangements of a different sort. Their weapons, lying near them on the ground, were also different than the Olmecs' weapons. He saw clubs with round wooden balls inserted into carved wood handles. He saw saw-toothed weapons meant to rip and tear at the body of an enemy. Here and there an unfamiliarly fletched arrow protruded from a tree, the ground... or a body.

Bartuc asked the same question on Edes' own mind. "Where are our crewmates, Edes? Do you see any?" He did. They found Cerek leaning against a tree, unconscious, a large contusion on his head. Hamid was there, as was Edusse. Both were alive, but dazed. Cook lay on the ground between four large potteries. He was dazed as well, but not from a blow, more likely from simple shock. Idomenus was nearby attending to Zeos. The Captain seemed unhurt, but Zeos was cut and bloodied. The corpses of five unknown natives lay on the ground nearby. Zeos had indeed been busy and given as good as he got. There was no sign of Thanos, Valygar, Coronis... or Yanil. Thanatos, the Ares worshipper, was missing as well.

"What has happened here," said a voice behind them. The two Phoenicians nearly jumped out of their clothes in fright as they turned to see the source. It was Aythadis. Burning Mirror was beside him. "What has happened here, Edes?"

"I don't know, Sir. We found the town this way. We were only gone for a little while and..."

"Never mind that," interrupted the smooth yet authoritative voice of the tall man. Aythadis turned to Burning Mirror. The aggrieved man said only one word. "Aztecs." The native then walked into the encampment to see who was alive... and who was not.

Another voice startled Edes and Bartuc. Aythadis' eyes narrowed as the man called Thanatos walked into view. "Not many escaped I see. They should have found protection where I did," said Thanatos.

"And where did you find protection, Thanatos," Aythadis said icily.

"In the jungle, where else? Who's going to find you there?"

"Why didn't you stay to defend them?" Bartuc said between clenched teeth.

"I will not interefere in the work of Ares and I am not a member of this crew. Why should I stay to defend them?" replied Thanatos.

Bartuc looked as if he were going to do something rash. It was Edes who prevented it by grabbing his friend by the shoulder. Aythadis interceded immediately. "Enough! Edes and Bartuc, see what you can do for the injured. I will talk to Idomenus. Thanatos, do what you will."

Aythadis walked away with his customary long gait. Thanatos irreverently made a bow in Aythadis' direction then began to check the pockets of the Nautica Prima's fallen crew for the only thing that he wanted, the red jewel of Ares.

Aythadis learned from Indomenus that they were set upon from out of the dark by a war party of natives the Olmecs called Aztecs. Five of his crew were dead. The rest were injured to some extent, Zeos being the worst as he fought relentlessly against the Aztecs during the attack. The captain had no idea where Thanos, Coronis, Valygar and Yanil could be found. A crewman named Xander was also missing. He was pleased to know Edes and Bartuc were safe.

Burning Mirror returned to the side of Aythadis, and in his Olmec tinged Greek spoke to the tall man. "Your four friends are captured by the Aztecs along with four of my people. They have been taken to the great Aztec city."

"Why?" asked Aythadis.

"For sacrifice to the gods of the Aztecs," replied Burning Mirrors. Idomenus looked at Aythadis. The tall man's eyes seemed to change from their customary green with blue and gold highlights, to something different. Something closer to... red.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 12-21-2000).]

Nutmegger
Pleb
posted 12-19-00 16:07 ET (US)     140 / 220       
The cook recited the Mourner's Kadish silently, just his lips moving. Looking at the dead and wounded, he wondered how he had escaped being injured. He had interposed himself between a pack of warriors and Yanil, but three had interlocked their shields, charged and literally pushed him aside. Thrown into a table of pottery, the cook had been unable to resist further, and listened helplessly as Yanil's screams receded into the jungle.

"Aythadis, you must believe me. There were too many, and we were not ready." Aythadis shook his head slowly. The cook said, "I am not a fighter, but I will not suffer any harm to come to Yanil or Coronis. The first is under my care, and the second has saved my life more than once before. Perhaps, now that we are aware of the danger, we can join the Olmecs to retrieve our crew."

Burning Mirror looked at his remaining able-bodied warriors. "The Aztecs are strong, and we are weak now. This is an ill fate that brings our peoples together."

Jaguar
Pleb
posted 12-19-00 17:28 ET (US)     141 / 220       
Yanil was slowly regaining consciousness. His head was pounding and being carried upside down didn't help much. Trying to get his bearings, the memories of what happend were slowly starting to come back to him.

Trying to find a more comfortable posisiton was hard to do and he passed out again from the jostling.

When he came to later, he saw that he was bound and gagged tied to posts along with the other three crewmates and four from the Olmec tribe. He recognized one of the Olmec women and tried to make eye contact, but to no avail. Yanil then tried to turn around to see whether Coronis or Valygar were awake enough to realize what was going on.

In looking around, it appearsed that none of the fighters and warriors were captured. Yanil wasn't sure if that meant that they were dead or if they were left behind for other reasons. "They have to be alive" Yanil thought to himself.

------------------------

At the Olmec settlement, Burning Mirror and Aythadis started helping the wounded, with help from Cook. Some of Coronis' herbs and bandages were found laying around and Burning Mirror had his own remedies.

Luckily Zeos was not too badly off. Head wouds bleed more seriously than other wounds, but the cut was not too deep. His arm was a bit sore and would be stiff for a few days. The one thing that did concern Aythadis and Burning Mirror a bit was that Zeos seemed to be seeing double. With the major cuts and bruises looked after, they moved on to the next injured person and decided they would come back to look at Zeos later.

When everyone was looked after, Burning Mirror grabbed some ingredients and started brewing a new mixture of herbs and roots. When he was done, he asked that everyone take a spoon full. This would help against aches and pains and would hopefully clear up a bit of Zeos' vision problems as well.

Aythadis went over to feed Zeos the spoonful and while everybody was occupied, his eyes started to glow golden as he eased the pain from the blow to the head.

"Hey, this stuff really works" shouted an elated Zeos. "Let's follow those Aztecs." The name sounded familiar, yet at the same time he knew there was no such word in his own language.

[This message has been edited by Jaguar (edited 12-19-2000).]

Smack
Pleb
posted 12-19-00 19:25 ET (US)     142 / 220       
Things were definitely not going well. Ares was probably not happy with the crew after their reaction to Thanatos, and could be partly responsible for the Aztec raid. And yes, Aythadis might assist them as well.
One way or another, they would have a tough time rescuing the prisoners from the Aztecs. Logically enough, neither Edes, Thanatos, Bartuc, nor Cerek had been taken, as the best-armed of the crew. Hamid himself had used his knife to some effect, but lacked a shield and had been wounded a couple of times. If not for Zeos, fighting beside him, the Arab sailor might not have even been alive.

After he was bandaged up, Hamid walked to the shore, where the Nautica Prima was beached. He looked up at the sky. No... this can't be. The stars had... moved? The constellations that he had grown familiar with over his years sailing with the Phoenicians were still recognizable, but they were definitely not where they were supposed to be. And the shapes seemed to be slightly different, too. Could this be a mysterious plot to confuse them?

[This message has been edited by Smack (edited 12-20-2000).]

Cyber Paladin
Pleb
posted 12-19-00 23:47 ET (US)     143 / 220       
The ever-bright sun finally rised. The land is once more shined, but this time, the land is not as beautiful as before with more and more body being visible.

"Sigh...." Burning Mirror was brewing some new potions that can boost one's energy, and eliminates drowsiness.
"Sigh..." The cook was assisting him. Both of them are desperate, one for not being able to protect his people, the other for not being able to protect his little assistant.

"Don't worry Burning Mirror." Assured Idomentus, "I've been counting. You have about 20 man, well armed. And we have about 10, in which 5 of them are highly skilled. I am sure, with a good plan, we can launch a secret raid to the Aztec village and rescue the hostages."
"But I don't think we have much time planning captain," said Burning Mirror, stirring the potion, "The sacrifice will be held 6 days later, at night. And travelling to the Aztec city needs half a day."

In the Olmec hut, Cerek and Edes is busy sharpening their swords, while Bartuc are making fire arrows. Cerek is grinding his teeth, and he has fire in his eyes. Edes and Bartuc knew what's going on, and not dare saying anything, lest making Cerek more angry. Zeos, on the other hand, is still recovering from the wounds. Everyone was preparing for a battle.
Then Burning Mirror entered, followed by Idomentus.
"OK my dear Greek visitors, I'm terribly sorry to have you involved in our tribal wars. But I, Burning Mirror, the leader of Olmec, am having a hard time, and I beg for you help." Ending his speech, he kneeled to the Greek sailors.

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 12-20-00 08:09 ET (US)     144 / 220       
Aythadis helped the Olmec spirit-guide back to his feet.
"Don't, " the tall man spoke softly.
"We will chase the Aztec raides anyway as they have taken off with some of our crew as well as some of your people."
Burning Mirror looked Aythadis in the eyes and answered.
"I am in your debt, Messenger. Know that amongst those taken from the town was my daughter Shining Macaw. As my only surviving child she would have followed me in my chosen path, if the gods accept her."
He bowed his head
"I welcome all help that is offered."

Aythadis nodded and watched what was left of his crew gather their belongings. Some more goods were to be taken from the Nautica and then they would be ready. Some of the crew member were helping the Olmec people gather their dead. Thanatos was sitting on a step on one of the temples watching it, a sour grin on his young face.

That one needed a talking to, the trader decided. He walked over to where Thanatos was sitting.
"What do you want?" Thanatos growled, shading his eyes against the sun behind Aythadis.
"You"
Thanatos guffawed
"What do you want with me?"
"You realise your beloved, " Aythadis emphasised the word slightly, "jewel is not on the Nautica it self. Neither is it in the pockets of those that died yesterday, as you acertained yourself."
The tall man barely managed to hide the distaste from his voice.
"This can mean only two things, either one of the survivors here has it with him, or it is amongst those the Aztec captured. It seems your choice is easy.
Either join us and have a chance of retrieving your jewel, or stay here and have a chance of loosing it forever. We may fail to retrieve our friends and never return.
Your vaunted weapon skills may help..."

Thanatos threw Aythadis an unreadable look.
"I'll think about it." he answered.
Aythadis turned and barely managed to hide a small smile when he heard Thanatos start to curse softly behind him.

Micah Aragorn
Pleb
posted 12-20-00 15:30 ET (US)     145 / 220       
"Why do you waste your time with him Aythadis!" Cerek,the anger rising in him, got up and started walking towards Thanatos. His sword fiercly gripped and prepared to dispatch the Ares-worshipper.

Thanatos' hand immediately went to the handle of his sword."It's true I have no interest in the friendship of any of you. Least of all you, Cerek. And if it's your death you seek than by all means try my sword."

Cerek brought his weapon up prepared to use his skill.
"No Cerek!" Edes' voice clear to the group watching this. He stood in front of Cerek stopping his path to Thanatos. Putting both his arms on him," He is not worth the effort. Are you forgetting what we must do? Our friends are in need." Edes tone reflecting the urgency of their plight.

Turning to Thanatos, his eyes squared and his tone indignant,Edes addressed him."Aythadis is right. If you relish the job you have been sent to do by your god then you know you have to come."

Thanatos loosened the grip on his sword and seemed in deep thought. Remembering Aythadis words of not knowing if the jewel is with the ones taken away.

"Alright! I will join your search for your shipmates but only because Ares would expect it. I don't go to save them but to seek the holder of the jewel."

Cerek still angered pushed against Edes outstretched arms.
In a whispering and soothing voice Edes said,"Cerek if you have any feelings for Coronis than put your sword away and remember the task at hand."

The anger in his eyes ebbed as he looked at Edes and thought of the words he spoke. He knew his anger wasn't all justified towards Thanatos but at his failed attempt to stop the capture of Coronis and the others. His fear of possibly losing her was clouding the clearness of his training. But to himself he vowed he would see her again and safe. He lowered his sword and turning walked away.

[This message has been edited by Micah Aragorn (edited 12-21-2000).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 12-20-00 21:35 ET (US)     146 / 220       
Edes' stomach finished practicing making sailor's knots and the tension in his shoulders began to relax somewhat as he watched both antagonists step away from each other and from the battle that might have been. Bartuc appeared at his side and whispered to him, "Edes, are you crazy? One of these days you'll be between those two at the wrong time and you'll be handed your head on your shield."

"It's something I have to do, Bartuc. It's the right thing to do."

Bartuc frowned in puzzlement. "Why?"

"I just have to," replied Edes. "I can't explain it; I just have to do it. That's all I'll say."

Not always very perceptive, this time Bartuc knew instinctively it was time to drop the subject with Edes.

That morning ten Olmecs led by Burning Mirror joined the 15 remaining crew of the Nautica Prima in pursuit of the Aztecs. Their journey would begin to the north which Burning Mirror said was the most likely path taken by the Aztecs. Their decision was reaffirmed when the small party of men found the fresh burial site of one of the Aztec warriors who did not survive the aftermath of the battle. Bartuc snickered, "I suspect it was some of Zeos' handiwork most likely."

Zeos, walking nearby, shrugged his shoulders. "Maybe... can't tell... they all looked the same to me."

____________________________________________________________

Macxutequa, one of the leaders selected for the raid, looked the prisoners over. He began with the Olmec women. Hmmmm... he thought. Three of the four seem very common, but this one, the young, pretty one... There's something different about her. She has purpose in her looks.

Next he looked at the strange prisoners. Who are these people, white of skin, strange clothes, strange speech? I see here a warrior, young but sad eyed. I see also this man who never speaks but answers to this woman's commands obediently. And there is the one called Xander, a follower of this person called "captain". Then there is the young one, dressed as would a boy but with the look of a girl in his face. I heard this one scream last night as only a girl would, yet the young one is treated by the others as should a boy be treated.

Macxutequa knew his duties... He was to select two among these prisoners to be the first to be sacrificed. He knew what his priests would want so he felt very sure in his choice. He waved to eight of his warriors. He motioned to four of them to take one of the Olmec prisoners and to the other four to take one of the strangers. They were to be taken to the other side of the camp and changed into the cloths of sacrifice. The Aztec warriors drew the young woman from the Olmec prisoners, the girl who was Burning Mirror's daughter. And from the strangers, Macxutequa's warriors carried off Yanil.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 12-21-2000).]

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 12-21-00 06:00 ET (US)     147 / 220       
Hmmm, seems we need to catch up quickly? Or do we...

As the Aztec warriors lead Yanil and Shining Macaw off into the jungle Coronis wondered what had happened to Cerek. She'd seen him fight off two or three of the Aztec raiders but then he'd disappeared from her sight. Well, more accurately she hadn't seen much after the warclub had nearly dented her skull. She still had a headache and chewing the little willow bark she had left didn't help much. At least she'd stopped seeing everything double.

Valgyar was another worry on her mind. He was too quiet. She'd dressed the two cuts he'd gotten from those obsidian flaked swords and she didn't think he'd keep much more than the scars as a reminder.

Suddenly she heard people shouting from the direction where Yanil had gone. Moments later two burly Aztec warriors appeared dragging the Olmec girl between them. She seemed unconcious and her arm was bend at a strange angle. Her dress was torn. Coronis wanted to move to help her, but Valgyar held her arm.
"Wait, " he whispered.

The Aztecs cast the girl to the ground in front Macxutequa and started talking rapidly. A short while later the other warriors returned as well, but there was no sight of Yanil. Macxutequa spoke harshly to the warriors who were fidgeting in front of the noble. Then Macxutequa turned and motioned for the warriors to follow him.

He roughly pulled one of the other Olmec girls from where they were cowering and then motioned for the warriors to take Xander, one of the Nautica's rowers with them. The two prisoners were man handled to the edge of the clearing, stripped and then dressed in a plain white loin cloth and a white mantle. They were dragged to a stone structure, half hidden by vines and moss on the other side of the clearing.

All attention was on Macxutequa and Coronis made use of that to kneel beside Shining Macaw and check the girls pulse. She was alive, but her arm ws definitely broken. Valgyar got her some branches to use as a splint, while she ripped the lower part of her dress to use as bandages. As she set the arm the Olmec girl fainted.

Coronis looked up to where Macxutequa had gone when she heard the warriors begin their chanting. They'd pulled the other girl backwards over an altar stone on the platform and stripped her of the mantle. Macxutequa had raised an obsidian knife, while beside him copal wood burned and sweetened the air with it's incense. The slender healer did not understand the chant or the words spoken by the Aztec noble but it sounded like a prayer.

Macxutequa looked skywards and then in a practiced motion plunged the knife in the strugling girls chest. As he ripped the blade sideways, Coronis felt her stomach heave, emptied it's contents before her in the grass and blacked out.

When she came to Valgyar was holding her. From the corner of her eye she could see the limp body of the Olmec girl and worse, Xander's bloody remains. The smell of burning meat twisted to the sweet smell of the copal wood. Turning her head away from the grisly sight her eyes caught Shining Macaw's.
"What..." she whispered, "what happened to Yanil...?"
With an effort the other girl answered
"He fled as I attacked the warriors, I hope he'll find help."
She shuddered.
"At least I'll be save from the knife until my arm heals..."

Jaguar
Pleb
posted 12-21-00 11:56 ET (US)     148 / 220       
Phew, I thought I was a goner for a moment

When Shining Macaw and Yanil were carried off, Yanil kept looking around to see if he could get away. He had lost his dagger somewhere, but there were enough branches around for a makeshift weapon. Shining Macaw looked quite pale and whispered to Yanil "Get out of here when you can. They plan on sacrificing us to their gods." At the whispering, the Aztec warrior roughly jerked Shining Macaw away. She started biting, kicking and screaming and at a look of agony and the snap of breaking bones, Yanil got some extra courage and strength and he leapt away and kept running.

Yanil slowed when he realized that nobody was following him. He hpoed that he hadn't gotten too lost, but he tried to keep runing in one direction. After a bit of searching, Yanil found a path. Praying that it would take him to his crew members, Yanil started walking. Rustling in the bushes startled Yanil as a big snake came seemingly out of nowhere. His branch didn't seem big enough to stave off the snake and Yanil instead turned around to head in the opposite direction on the path. Maybe this was a sign. Yanil sure hoped so, and kept going. Unbeknowst to Yanil, if he had continued down the path, he would have ended pu back at the Aztec camp. The gods were surely watching over him.

Exhausted, Yanil found a small clearing and sat down for a bit. As he started to doze off....

[This message has been edited by Jaguar (edited 12-21-2000).]

Fortuna
Pleb
posted 12-21-00 15:21 ET (US)     149 / 220       
"Well, I'm not going to sit here waiting to die. I'd rather be fighting if I must die." The others were quite surprised by Thanos' outburst. They'd never seen him like that. "Who'll be next? and when?" he continued.

"They will not sacrifice anyone else today, at least." Shining Macaw answered.

"Well, then, I'll be leaving tonight. We must find a way to escape. I have no intention of waiting on one of these savages to pick me to lie on the altar and die to please their gods." Thanos looked quite determined. In addition to their desperate situation, he felt almost ashamed that he'd been captured so quickly along with women and a young boy.

"I'm sure the others are on their way to rescue us by now." Coronis added to try to calm him. But she knew that, unless they hurried, they would be too late.

[This message has been edited by Fortuna (edited 12-21-2000).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 12-21-00 15:51 ET (US)     150 / 220       
Two moist pinpoints of light reflecting the shining sun moved left and then right in the bushes surrounding Yanil. Again he heard the noise of soft feet stirring deposited vegetation. There came a sniffing sound as well.

The hair on his neck began to stand up. Yanil slowly rose to his feet and began to move to the break in the bush where the path continued southward. One step... another step... the next a little more quickly... ready to run... FROZEN IN PLACE!

A black four-footed creature, fanged and growling, leapt from the bush and landed directly in front of Yanil. It opened its mouth in a snarl exposing long incisors meant to clamp down on or rip its prey. That, Yanil thought, was now himself... he was this creature's prey.

The creature ceased to snarl and then began to advance on Yanil. He was so frightened he didn't have the sense to turn and run; maybe because he knew mortal danger lay in that direction as well. The dark furred beast moved a little closer, raising a long-clawed paw. It swiped at the airspace left between the two, but without a growl. Yanil blinked. This creature did not mean to attack, he realised.

The animal stared at Yanil for a brief moment and then placed itself on the ground, paws tucked and tail twitching. All the while it kept its darkly-tinted eyes vigilantly focussed on Yanil. The boy stepped forward. The creature stayed where it was, breathing shallowly. He stepped forward again. The creature suddenly moved.

It rolled to its side and again waved a paw at Yanil. The boy was close enough now to see the pad under the paw of the animal. An object was embedded there. Yanil took the biggest chance of his short life. He walked directly to the creature, crouched down and slowly reached for the animal's paw. It offered no resistance.

Yanil took gentle hold of the paw and saw what troubled the animal. A long, sharp thorn had found its way into a space between two of the creature's foot pads. Yanil caught it between two of his fingers and pulled it out. The animal startled only slightly, but made no other move. Yanil tossed the piece of thorn away and stood up.

The creature also rose to its four paws a moment later. Neither of them afraid of the other, the animal slowly, calmly approached Yanil, raised its injured paw and placed it high on Yanil's right leg, stroking his thigh quickly, yet gently. Then it lowered its paw, turned about and silently walked to the edge of the clearing. It turned once to look back at Yanil, then turned its face to stare in the direction of the path where it headed south. It looked once more at Yanil and then disappeared into the lush jungle growth.

A noise behind him startled Yanil. It came from the path heading north. The boy wasted no time and began to run towards and onto the path heading south. He never stopped his headlong flight until he turned a sharp corner where the path curved around a jungle tree and it was there Yanil ran right into a tall man he never expected to see. Shocked, he lifted his head to look into the man's green eyes. Yanil smiled with recognition and relief, then fainted dead away.

Aythadis caught Yanil even as he was about to fall to the ground. Carrying the boy in both arms he placed him on the ground with the boy's back to the tree. Burning Mirror was beside him in an instant, as was Bartuc and Edes. Aythadis used a nearby broadly sized fallen leaf as a fan and cooled the air around Yanil's face. Finally Yanil opened his eyes and looked about. The smile returned to his face.

Burning Mirror's expression suddenly changed and he leaned towards Aythadis. "This one too has met a god. I see it in his eyes," whispered the chieftan. Aythadis said nothing, for he too had discovered something when he gently caught and carried Yanil to this resting place. His special senses born in him at his origin told him without any doubt that Yanil was not a boy... Yanil was in fact... a young woman. Aythadis decided this secret would be kept until Yanil wanted it otherwise. Aythadis then turned his thoughts to Edes. Two touched by the gods of this land, is there a reason... but he didn't have the answer to his question... at least, not yet.

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