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Topic Subject: Beyond Poseidon's Throne - A Story Of Ancient Times
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posted 11-06-00 00:49 ET (US)   
A Story of Ancient Times and Ancient Mariners


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).]

posted 01-10-01 21:32 ET (US)     176 / 220  
One by one the crew of the Nautica Prima focussed eyes on Edes and the young girl with the familiar face.

Girl, what girl? Oh that one... Why yes, she looks very much like a girl... a woman in fact. Yanil? Is that really Yanil? It sure looks like Yanil... Why did he dress up like a girl? Because Yanil is a girl, stupid! Oh, thats how he did it... Not, he; she's a she... Oh... Yanil's a girl? Yes, that's what I said... Gee, you're right... Of course, I am. I never miss these things... Snort! Chuckle, Chuckle... Sure, you knew Yanil was a girl all along... Well, all right, not exactly...

And so the conversation went among the crew of the Phoenician vessel. Bartuc, dancing with River Sun, heard pieces of these conversations and laughed to himself. Dolts they were, his crewmates... He, Bartuc, knew Yanil was a girl all along. No one believed him including his blind eyed friend who's dancing with her right now.

The tantalizing tune of the flutes and the mesmerizing beat of the Olmec drums filled Ilyena's ears, her mind and her soul. As she danced in the Olmec way moving sideways in a circle, her back to the fire, and facing Edes, the music began to fill and uplift her heart. She was less and less aware of the individuals next to her and next to Edes. In the background, the people who sat and feasted as they watched the dancers began to disappear from her eye's view. Increasingly, she saw only Edes, nothing more, not Olmecs, not crewmates, not the Captain, not Aythadis, not anyone else, only Edes.

She watched Edes as he studied her face, every edge and every line. She saw him glance at her Olmec gown and the way it was tucked in at the waist, curved about her hips and ended at her knees. His face pinkened somewhat when he realized he was discovered. Ilyena smiled in amusement and as reassurance. Edes smiled back. Zzzzinnggggg! What was that sudden feeling that just coursed through her body and found its place right where her heart would be? Beat, beat, beat, beat. No it wasn't the drums beating ever faster... It was her heart! Faster yet...

She felt so very warm, much warmer than the air or even the fire nearby. It came from within, not without. Her eyes sparkled, her cheeks were flushing pink, her smile was as wide as the joy in her heart. The music stopped! Like the Olmec dancers Edes and Ilyena touched hands, palm to palm, at the dances' end. Again something coursed through her body...

Rapture! It must indeed be rapture!

Then Edes remembered something he saw Three Monkey do as a sign to Thanatos before their adventure in the mountain. He gently grasped Ilyena's right hand in his and brought it closer to himself. Ilyena followed willingly stepping closer to Edes. He raised her hand to his own forehead and touched it with her inwardly curled fingers. Holding her hand there he said, "I am honored that you chose me for this dance, Ilyena. I shall be equally honored if like Yanil you choose me to be as close a friend to you as I was to Yanil, maybe even a little more."

Ilyena blushed deeply, but never hesitated in her reply. "With all of my heart, Edes." And this she truly meant.
Her crewmates surrounded them almost immediately sending question after curiousity-driven goodnatured question Ilyena's way. Edes lowered her hand and stepped away to give Ilyena the room befitting her as the center of their crewmates' attention. She answered all of their questions, but always with a glance towards Edes.

The Tyrean found a place to sit at the edge of the circle. He needed time to think these events through and to harness his feelings, and so lowered his head to allow no distraction to capture his eyes. But unconsciously, he lifted his head and glanced to his left. Thanatos sat there expressionless simply staring back at Edes. The Tyrean could not detect the Thracian's thoughts through his expressionless face. What is the man thinking? What does he now know? Edes lowered his eyes once more and looked at the ground before him.

An Olmec runner entered the site of the festival and spoke quietly into Burning Mirror's ear. The Olmec leader turned to Aythadis and said something to the tall man. Aythadis stood and in his inimitable way immediately commanded the attention of all in the village within sight or sound.

"I have been told by Burning Mirror that the Nautica Prima has been found. We leave tomorrow at first light to recover our ship. But there is a warning... grave danger awaits us..."

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 01-11-2001).]

posted 01-11-01 05:08 ET (US)     177 / 220  
Morning broke with the raucous cries of the howler monkeys. Most of the crew and the villagers for that matter where still a bit groggy after drinking all those fermented juices and few had even tried the local mushrooms.

Thanos was one of those who'd not been able to resist when one of the local youths had offered him a bit of dark, dried mushroom. The visions were still spinning in his head. He was sure he'd been spoken too by a feathered serpent, which was of course impossible. Then he'd made an absolute fool of himself with one of the local girls.

The girl, named Jade Rain, was absolutely stunning and he'd been completely mesmerised by the twinkle in her eyes and the dimples in her cheeks when she smiled at him.

He remembered passing out somewhen late that night, when the moon was well on her way down. The two of them had been watching the moon for a while, but when he'd woken, started by the monkeys, the girl had been gone.

She had been there at breakfast, though, but she was whispering to her friends and giggling. Thanos had taken one look at them and had grabbed some fruit, some maize bread and left.
He didn't think she'd ever smile at him again. Not after last night.
His head still hurt.

When all their things were packed the crew of the Nautica left Zama and it's people behind them. With them was half a dozen hunters and Shining Macaw. To Thanos' surprise Jade Rain and River Sun came along as well. The two were talking with Three Monkey, who kept her eyes on Thanatos. They were still giggling every now and then.

Thanos put his eyes back on the path, or more accurately on Aythadis' back. The tall Greek was looking different and it wasn't just that he'd forsaken his Greek tunic for a white kilt. A jade bracelet graced his left wrist and gold glittered at his throat as he was speaking to Shining Macaw. The Olmec Wise One's daughter was wearing a white dress and her hair flowed down her back like the night. She too wore jade and gold jewelry.

Then Thanos realised Aythadis looked at home here, however strange that thought seemed it was the only thing that fit. If not for his height and his paler skin he could have been an Olmec born.

The young Athenian squinted in the golden sunlight that filtered down through the verdant leaves.
His head still hurt.

[This message has been edited by Jayhawk (edited 01-11-2001).]

posted 01-11-01 11:25 ET (US)     178 / 220  
The cook carefully supervised the packing of provisions for the coming journey to retrieve the ship. This, at least, was something that he found familiar. The crew had removed little in the way of boxes from the ship prior to its disappearance, so he was relying on pottery and skids with leather straps to secure foodstuffs and other necessary provisions. He missed having an ox cart for this sort of thing, but with no oxen, and no real wheeled tools, he improvised as best he could. He also missed the assistance of Yanil, but Ilyena seemed to have other interests at the moment than resuming her role as his assistant. As his head was still working out how he felt about this transformation, the cook did not press the issue. Looking about the gathering expedition, he noticed that there were far more "pairs" than had previously been the case. This made for a much happier atmosphere, even in the face of a dangerous expedition, but the cook wondered if the newly enamoured would keep their minds (and bodies) on the tasks at hand. Looking at all of the happiness around him the cook felt more alone than ever. A solitary one of the Chosen in a land far from the Promised Land.
posted 01-11-01 21:25 ET (US)     179 / 220  
Ilyena saw Cook working hard at his provisions and unexpectedly her sense of responsibility found a niche in a mind preoccupied until now with someone else. Back in her everyday clothes and looking a little more like Yanil than Ilyena, the girl reluctantly took herself away from Edes' side and approached Cook.

"Cook...?" she asked shyly.

"What is it... girl?" he replied gruffly.

"You may call me Ilyena, if you would like. That is my real name."

"What is it... Ilyena?" he retorted, still in a gruff tone as before.

"Why are you so angry with me?" she asked.

"You were not honest with me," said Cook. "You masqueraded around my galley as a boy, took orders from me like any Cook's mate, and all the while you were not what I thought you to be. Now I'm the laughing stock of the ship's crew."

She looked up at him, eyes softening with increased understanding and sympathy. "Anyone laughing at you, Cook, should laugh at himself first. No one knew or guessed, except Coronis, and I made her promise on the souls of her ancestors to say nothing. Oh, and maybe Aythadis knew, but I wasn't really sure about that... And Cook, no matter what, you always treated me well even when you sounded cross."

"But I treated you as if you were a boy, almost a man... not like a girl or even a young woman... Where I come from that is unacceptable, improper... a sin. I am ashamed. Many times, when my daughter was your age..." Suddenly, Cook stopped in mid sentence. Memories long suppressed flowed back into his mind and with that he realised he had revealed something long buried and, he thought, well hidden from the crew: the secret of his daughter who had run away from her overbearing father. Cook sat down hard on the ground and put his head in his hands.

"Cook..." said Ilyena.

"Yes, Ilyena," replied Cook weakly.

"I am not your daughter, but I can be your Cook's mate once more... that is, if you will allow it," she said.

Cook lifted his head from his hands and looked at Ilyena through moisture rimmed eyes. "I would welcome your help, Ilyena. I truly would."

Ilyena smiled and turned to find Edes. He was busy with a chore of his own but saw Ilyena standing near Cook. She seemed happy, though the look on Cook's face was anything but happy. Ilyena waved to him then turned to say something to Cook. Then she began to work with the provisions just as she had so many times before, but the smile on her face was unlike any expression she wore as Yanil. Edes began to appreciate Ilyena even more.


Weapons strapped to their sides or slung on their backs, the tiny army from the Nautica Prima and the Olmec village set off towards the south to recover the Phoenician vessel from the thieves who stole it. Three Monkey, Shining Macaw, Jade Rain and River Sun accompanied them. Coronis walked between Cerek and Valygar. Ilyena walked with Cook, but Edes was nearby, as was Bartuc. Thanatos brought up the rear of the column, Three Monkey being just ahead of him.

Edes was uncomfortable knowing Thanatos was behind him. He felt like two holes were being burned in his back by Thanatos' eyes. But the Thracian had other thoughts on his mind and was neither following nor staring at Edes. The Tyrean's discomfort was strictly of his own making.

Aythadis looked back over his shoulder as he led the group forward, Burning Mirror at his side. It would not be easy to reacquire the vessel; but with the sea closeby, he dared not peer too far into the future for guidance lest Poseidon be watching and void their agreement. It would be too easy for the tempermental god to claim interference by Aythadis as the tall man sought to determine who in the future would survive and who would not survive this final campaign in this strange land.

What little Aythadis permitted himself to learn from the shadows of the future both pleased and saddened him. No, he realized, as he glanced from sailor to girl to Olmec, he really should not have searched into the future. There is great pain there and he felt powerless to prevent it.

Aythadis lowered his saddened green eyes and looked ahead at the path before him. He could not bear to look back at the faces of those who would soon be with them no longer.

posted 01-12-01 08:51 ET (US)     180 / 220  

Around noon the next day the joint group of Olmec and Mediterreneans emerged from the jungle at a small village, Burning Mirror named Pale Mouth. The crossed the sandy spit that separated the lagoon from the Gulf to where the huts where clustered.

Several of the large canoes the Nautica's crew had seen when they were first greeted by the Olmec were resting on the beach. Little kids played in the surf, where women were gathering mollucs while men where out fishing or hunting in the swamps to the South. As they reached the village most of the kids and a few of the grownups were looking at the strangers. Burning Mirror introduced them to the village headman and his Wise One, an old weathered woman whose hair was pure white.

Then the old Olmec looked at the strangers and said:
"You will need to pass the Sian Ka'an and the easiest way to do so is follow the shore by boat.
Two big bays will you pass and the you will sea the Xcalak peninsula. You can either follow the coast once more, past the keys or follow the shoreline inland to Altun Ha. I will leave you here as my village needs me more than you. However, Shining Macaw has offered to guide you onwards."
Burning Mirror made his goodbyes to the crew and his townfolk, then when he got to Aythadis he whispered,
"Take care of my daughter for me, Messenger."
"I will do my best, " the tall man replied.

They had a meal with the local fisherfolk and settled down on the beach to sleep. The fire was burning low as Aythadis picked up his lute and started to play a slow haunting melody.

Cook looked up from where he was busy making sure his tools were still in order. The green-eyed man was sitting cross-legged, with the lute in his lap and played music that drew Yonah back to the land of his fathers and times long gone. The music flowed into another song he knew, and before he realised he was softly singing the words, his deep voice merging with lute and the surf.

Aythadis played a few more songs and softly spoke to Yonah.
"Thank you. I'd forgotten the words that go with the songs, which is a shame as they are lovely."
"How..." Cook started.
"I used to live there a long time ago, I should return someday."
Yonah looked into the green eyes that seemed to see all the way to his roots. He shook his head and continued with his tools. A strange man, this Aythadis.
The songs had brought a smile back to Cook's face, though.

Morning broke in waves of gold and scarlet and the Nautica's crew prepared for the next part of their journey. The log canoes were pushed out in the water and soon they were paddling South

posted 01-12-01 16:07 ET (US)     181 / 220  

Nearby the seas suddenly parted here and there as the backs of great sea beasts appeared above the water's top and plumes of odd smelling vaporous spray were cast into the sky from holes in rounded heads. Great fluked tails followed as the beasts' backs curved and sank below the surface, only to reappear again a short distance away.

What manner of beasts are these the Mediterraneans asked among themselves. Shining Macaw heard their questions and answered. "They are the Messengers of the sea god. They tell us by their direction what season is to come. She pointed north... "If we see them going in this direction we know that the time of warmth has returned. If we see them going in the other direction (she pointed south) then we know the time of rain and coolness is coming, when the great mountain tops are covered with hard, white water. They are peaceful creatures who will not harm you or any boat."

Though the beasts swam close to the canoes, no beast came so close as to threaten any of them. After awhile, the beasts were so far ahead of the canoes that only the very top of an occasional spout of vapor could be seen in the distance. Yonah, the Cook, ventured this comment while in awe of the beasts. "By my father's beard, these beasts are so large a man could live days in the belly of one and emerge none the worse for the time he spent!"

But his comment fell on the ears of distracted men, women and girls, for in the distance had appeared as many canoes as were among them, but these canoes were painted differently and marked with designs the Mediterraneans had never seen before...

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 01-12-2001).]

posted 01-13-01 17:15 ET (US)     182 / 220  
Yes, thought the sailor, this was an exceedingly strange voyage. Hamid had had to add military raids, ant attacks, foreign gods and a cross-dresser to his list of strange occurrences. He imagined how much fun he would have in Tyre, telling the story to people in taverns. He thought how strange it was that he, a native of the desert, was paddling a canoe on the opposite side of the great Atlantic ocean, where even the most experienced seafaring nations kept religiously to the coast. The tropical sun beat down on his head and the water shone painfully in his eyes.

But... now what? Hamid squinted into the distance. Was something moving? Yes. Canoes.
There had been an encounter with strange vessels before, and nobody in the crew had especially fond memories of that event. It seemed that they were destined for another encounter with pirates, but now they had no Greek fire to defend themselves with. He pulled his dagger out of his tunic, and cradled it in his hand. No, these dark-skinned pirates have no idea what they have found, thought the Arab sailor as the strange canoes drew closer.

posted 01-15-01 08:24 ET (US)     183 / 220  
Some of the Nautica's crew were reaching for weapons as the heard Aythadis clear voice ring out across the sea.
"Stay your weapons. Shining Macaw told me they are traders. They are Maya, though, but it doesn't seem likely they were responsible for the theft of the Nautica."

Some of the men looked a bit sheepish when they realised the Olmecs with them hadn't bothered to ready any of their weapons. Edes noticed that Thanatos hadn't drawn a weapon either and flushed darkly.
Why would that Thracian always best him?

Thanatos, however, had not even noticed the canoes until Aythadis called out. He wondered why Edes was scowling at him. He shook his head and watched the canoes instead.

The richly decorated log canoes were drawing closer and he could see the rich patterns that decorated their prows and sides. The indians inside looked slightly different from the Olmec, with bigger, hawkshaped nose and straight dark hair. Their eyes seemed slightly tilted too.

The Olmec girls were whispering excitedly and Thanos asked Jade Rain why they were so cheerful.
"They're traders, silly. They sell such wonderful jewelry and the most gorgeous jade you've ever seen." was the girl's quick reply before she started talking with the other girls again.
Even Yanil, no Ilyena, he corrected himself, was looking excited. He overheard her telling Edes that she'd never dared to wear jewelry while she was pretending to be a boy. She'd love to get some now, though, she told her friend.
Bartuc was smirking at Edes when he heard Ilyena speak.

The distance was rapidly closing and then the canoes were side to side.

posted 01-15-01 16:05 ET (US)     184 / 220  
The occupants of the juxtaposed canoes eyed each other warily. While the Olmecs were a familiar people to the Mayans, the bearded light-skinned foreigners were not. Shining Macaw pointed to Aythadis and conversed in a tongue none but Aythadis and the Olmecs had heard before. Aythadis turned to the Mediterraneans in the canoe and explained.

"These are Mayans. They are a people who live very far south of the Olmec villages. They are much like the Olmecs, preferring to trade rather than make war on their neighbors. We have been introduced to their leader, in that canoe, as very distant traders exploring for new goods for which to trade. We have been accepted and invited to their village. We will seek news of the Nautica Prima there."

Edes turned around to where Bartuc sat, paddle in hand. "Bartuc, I wonder if these Mayans have festivals with dancing so we can learn the next secret Ilyena has saved for such an occasion... Owwwww!" Bartuc snickered. Ilyena, sitting next to Edes, withdrew her elbow from his rib cage and glared. Thanatos, at the rear of the canoe, shook his head once more.

Aythadis waved to the other Olmec canoes and signaled that they should follow the Mayans. This they did, each stroke of the paddle carrying them farther south, but now towards the shore. The gentle waves of the surf eventually finished the work of the paddles by carrying the canoes to a sandy beach from where they could see a path leading into the jungle wide enough for four men to walk abreast. In the far distance they could also see the top of a great mountain, whisps of smoke coming from its peak and from its side.

Once their canoes were beached and secured, it was to the path and into the jungle that the crew of the vessel and the Olmecs were led by the Mayans.

posted 01-16-01 06:34 ET (US)     185 / 220  
Well, I'm assuming we had a couple of days worth of paddling since we set out from Boca Paila. I'm also assuming we're in another small (fishing) village, not yet in Altun Ha

They followed the traders, who'd unloaded their canoes up the path into the forest. The travelers passed other canoes that had been drawn along side the forest road and arrived through some maize fields in a small village.

As the sun was reaching the horizon, the villagers were busy preparing the evening meal and the arrival of the traders and their guests was a surprise for all. However, it was definitely a pleasant surprise.
Soon the village was a-bustle in the preparations of a rich meal.

Meanwhile the traders spread out some simple blankets and started placing their wares on the cloth. Richly carved jade figurines and jewelry. Golden bracelets and necklaces. Richly decorated pots and intricately woven blankets. Feathered charms and headdresses. Too much to name.
Not just the villagers were staring at the treasures, but the Nautica's crew was also more than interested.

With the Olmec girls as interpreters some of them walked over and took a closer look.

posted 01-16-01 19:09 ET (US)     186 / 220  
Ilyena and River Sun were among those looking at the treasures that the Mayans were laying out. River Sun explained what some of the figurines meant and when Ilyena heard some of the explanations, her face turned beet red. She looked over to Edes a few times, but finally decided that she wanted to get a figurine that signified love and happiness. Since Ilyena lost most of her possessions, she was not sure how to pay for anything.

As she was going through the few things that she did have left, River Sun pointed to the simple dagger. "See if they'll trade with you. Perhaps you'll be able to get a necklace for yourself as well."

"But this is a only a cheap dagger, River Sun. Why would anyone want this?" "Have you seen our daggers? Nothing of ours or theirs is made anything like this. If you don't mind parting with it, you'll be set and should be able to get anything your heart desires."

Ilyena thought about the dagger and decided that she didn't really want it after all. A heated three-way discussion began between River Sun, the Mayan and Ilyena to settle on a fair trade. When everything was all said and done, Ilyena walked away with not only the figurine and a necklace, but an array of other items as well.

After the meal, Ilyena pulled out the flute that Edes had given her what seemed like ages ago and started playing some songs. Soon Aythadis joined her and the Mayans, Olmecs and Mediterraneans alike began dancing and singing.

The Mayans started pulling out an array of instruments. After a few songs, the Mayans started playing their music. Ilyena put her flute away and approached Edes.

"This is for you." Ilyena handedover the jade figurine to Edes. "This is beautiful. Thank you, Ilyena."

"Don't thank me, I want to thank you for accepting who I am and still wanting to be around me. I was so afraid that no one would accept me for who I was after having pretended to be a boy for so long. Although pretending to be a boy had its downsides too." Ilyena's face started to colour a bit to the red side at her last statement.

"Let's dance." Edes laughed.

[This message has been edited by Jaguar (edited 01-16-2001).]

posted 01-16-01 21:57 ET (US)     187 / 220  
As they danced, mimicking the motions made by the Mayans, Edes wondered if now was the right time to give to Ilyena the simple little bauble he had haggled over for so long with the Mayan trader. If not for Bartuc and Bartuc's friend, River Sun, Edes doubted he could have done so well; for Edes had little in the way of wealth he could offer to the Mayans in exchange. In fact, his most valuable personal possession, his reliable spotted cubes, were abandoned in Tyre when he fled the gamblers near the pier. He knew he might need his sword and shield, and his other possession he dared not show.

While trading progressed all around him, Edes felt absolutely powerless to participate. It was Bartuc that rescued the frustrated seaman as Edes bemoaned his lack of personal possessions to trade. "Edes, here," said his pale-faced friend. "I owe this to you. It's time I paid my debt."

"What debt, Bartuc?" asked Edes.

"You know, the bathhouse, ummm... you know, my bet I lost. Here, not another word." And Bartuc handed to Edes a small coin made of gold. In their world, it would have had modest value as its denomination was but a fraction of a full unit. But in this land its value was remarkable. Mayans gathered about him instantly offering various trinkets and objects in trade for the small coin with the never-before-seen design pressed into its surface.

River Sun translated and gave her advise on what was of value or not. After a long interval of offer and counteroffer, she spied one particular object and emitted a sharp intake of breath. She guided Edes to this Mayan, an older man with piercing eyes, and inquired on Edes' behalf if the object was for trade. The man hesitated at first, but River Sun persisted and told Edes to show the Mayan his coin. The Mayan's eyes grew wide as he saw the coin reflecting firelight in the evening off its very strange and unusual surface. The Mayan agreed and the exchange was made.

And now as they danced, Edes wondered if the time was right to give his gift to Ilyena. As the music stopped, Edes decided that it was.

He guided her to the edge of the gathering area and told her to hold her hands out and close her eyes. She did. He placed in her hands an intricately carved bracelet of linked silver and gold plates. One plate, larger than the others, had the image of a panther, paw extended, carved on its face. The work was so excellently done that the creature seemed alive and to be reaching out from the bracelet for whatever was nearby. "The symbol of a god," River Sun had whispered to Edes. She told him there was magic in this object. Edes didn't know what magic there could be, but he was pleased with the object and made the trade.

Ilyena opened her eyes when she felt the weight of the object in her hands. "Oh my, oh my, how beautiful... It's for me!?" she said excitedly.

"Yes, its for you... to, uh... to make up for the time in the Inn. You know, your birthday..." stammered Edes.

"Oh yes, my birthday party. Well, this should do just fine." Actually, Ilyena had long ago forgiven Edes for the party. The poor boy thought he was treating Yanil well, but didn't realize at the time he was really a she. Not his fault actually. Nonetheless, advantage given; advantage taken. She really could be a girl now in every way, including wiles.

He helped her put it on her wrist. It was a trifle large, but as the Mayans were not large people, including their men, it fit reasonably well. Ilyena was thrilled. In one swift unexpected move, she reached up and drew Edes down, then placed a crushing kiss on his lips that left the young man breathless. She released him and ran off into the village to show Coronis what she had been given.

Edes stood there stunned and disoriented. Bartuc saw Ilyena run by on her way to see Coronis and Edes standing there watching Ilyena go. Bartuc walked over to say something. But when he approached Edes he saw a distant look in Edes eyes and something of a strange smile on his Tyrean friend's face. Hmmmmm, thought Bartuc, here's one fallen warrior who looks happy about it no less. Sure glad it's not me. Bartuc turned about without saying anything to Edes and decided he would look around the village for River Sun. Yes, he thought. Good thing it's not me.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 01-17-2001).]

posted 01-17-01 05:14 ET (US)     188 / 220  
"It seems you've attracted quite a crowd Zeos." Hamid called out as he passed by.

In deed Zeos had. The Mayans were not use to seeing someone who looked as if he could carry their world on his huge frame. Children laughed and jumped upon his outstretched arms as he carried them suspended above the ground for a short distance. And all the while the women of the village were coming up to him to feel the massive muscles that rippled in the glow of the fires. This was a side of Zeos that he usually kept well hidden less his stature belittle his size. Yet his playfullness with the natives could easily be explained as a showcase for that vanity. Besides his best friends seemed to have found interests in female companionship more to their liking and ignored poor Zeos. Well at least they weren't telling him about cleaning up all the time anymore! And at least his shipmates knew he was still Zeos which is more than he could say about Yanil or Ilyena as he watched the girl run by him.......


Ilyena's body felt as if she were floating, never feeling the ground as she ran searching for Coronis. Obviously her thoughts of the gift Edes had given her were racing thru her mind and the giddish smile that loomed bright upon her face reflected her mood.

"Coronis,Coronis,"she yelled finally seeing her standing with Cerek as they looked at the native wares.

As Coronis turned to greet her Ilyena finally came down to earth stumbling.... Cerek catching her before she tumbled to the ground in a non lady-like fashion.

With the excitement of someone who just accomplished an amazing feat,"Coronis look what Edes just gave me. Isn't it beautiful? Look how it shines in the firelight. And he gave it to me. To Me. I don't think I'll ever take it off", her words becoming whispers as she was slowly running out of breath.

"Slow down,Ilyena and take a deep breath",replied Coronis as she listened to the glee.

Coronis looked up at Cerek who could only shake his head and smile at the youthful girl.

[This message has been edited by Micah Aragorn (edited 01-18-2001).]

posted 01-17-01 06:28 ET (US)     189 / 220  
The feast lasted all night and only when the stars began to pale did the revelers fall asleep. The next morning started early again, with howler monkeys screeching in the first light. Several people felt like something small and furry had died inside their mouths and turned over again, trying to hide from the sun and the rest of the world.

Thanos lay with his eyes closed and listened to the sounds around him. He could here children laughing and the movement of people around him. Then he felt Jade Rain disentangle herself from where she'd fallen asleep besides him. The young Athenian flushed slightly as he caught her scent and pretended to sleep a little longer.

As he moved out from under the communal palapa he saw Aythadis and Cook talking quietly and the former was making notes and playing bits of music on his lute as they spoke. The man seemed to like music a lot, as Thanos had observed him talking to some of the Mayan musicians the night before.
Strange, how quickly Aythadis picked up that language.

As they finished breakfast and roused the last of the sleepers, they said their farewells to the villagers and the traders and left for their canoes.

They spend the night in another fishing village, this one named Xcalak, the paddled past along the small coral reef islands that hung of the little peninsula like a string of pearls. Big sea turtles could be seen swimming through the crystal blue water and with the water all around and the sun bright above small palmfrond shelters were put up on the canoes to give some shade.

The spent the next night by themselves on the tip of what Shining Macaw told them was one of the southernmost of these little islands. They had a wonderful meal of fruit and seafood and then sat down to discuss the next day.

Altun Ha was only a few miles away on the Yucatan mainland. With it's temples and plazas it was an important trade town and it seemd the most likely spot anyone would have taken the Nautica. There shouldn't be any need for violence Aythadis stressed. He added that wouldn't be a smart option anyway as the town held several thousand people and though most of these were artisans, there was a significant number of warriors as well.

posted 01-17-01 16:29 ET (US)     190 / 220  
High walls separated the city from the jungle. Blockish dwellings rested upon the ground or on top of each other in this geometrically arranged city of the Mayans. Nothing curved. All angles were squared, even the internal and external corners of the pyramid that dominated the public meeting area.

The pyramid's peak was flattened, the crew could see, and a small stone structure stood there directly behind a slab of stone that rested on two stone blocks. The Olmec girls each felt a shiver course down their bodies as they recognized the altar for what it was... a place for human sacrifice.

Entering the city the Olmec girls translated for the Mediterraneans (although it was not necessary in Aythadis' case) as they met first one official Mayan of increasing importance after another. Mayan residents gathered to stare at the strangers with light skin and beards unlike anything they had ever seen before.

Aythadis words of caution were quite appropriate, for here and there could be seen warriors carrying their wood and stone weapons at their waist. These Mayans bore expressions neither of welcome nor trust nor of anything at all. Their thoughts unrevealed, these Mayans were a must to avoid just as Aythadis had warned. It did not take Cerek and the other warriors among them very long to decide that despite their seemingly antiquated weaponry, it would be wise to avoid conflict with these Mayan warriors.

Aythadis was approached by a gaudily feathered official who smiled broadly in welcome, undoubtedly the head of whatever government controlled this city. Standing behind him was a another man, less feathered but much sterner in his facial expression. This unknown Mayan carried a staff with a human skull attached to the elevated end. This one must be their High Priest, thought Aythadis. He certainly looks the part the tall man with green eyes said to himself silently.


Poseidon made an unseen visit to the place where the Nautica Prima lay in shallow water. The god could see the vessel would be going nowhere soon. Not a single mortal or that meddling one who today calls himself Aythadis was any where near the ship. Well, so be it. Even if they tried, the god reasoned, they would fail... because the Kraken is ordered to prevent any movement of the ship into the open sea whether going west or east. And Poseidon knew the Kraken would follow its instructions without fail. Not until these sailors honored him as God of the Seas would Poseidon relent and permit their return to their homes a world away.

Poseidon laughed a self-satisfied laugh for he knew he had all of the time in the world to wait, and except for the one called Aythadis, the mortals did not.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 01-18-2001).]

posted 01-19-01 10:00 ET (US)     191 / 220  
The offical at the gate welcomed them to Altun Ha and introduced himself as Master-of-the-Gates. He told them to go to the communal palapa at the harbour, where they would meet the Master-of-Trade who would help the pale strangers with whatever they wanted.
The black eyes of the priest never left the small group of travellers.

Altun Ha was a slightly bigger place than Zama, the Olmec city had been. A hand full of stone temples faced a central plaza where a market was going on. Wood and palm frond houses were clustered just outside of the main temples, a few larger structures were built of stone and richely carved wood.

The people looked healthy and well fed and the goods on the market stalls were of a uniformly high quality. Especially the jade carvings, Thanos noted, as the crossed down to the public palapa down at the harbour front.

Aythadis had decided they should come in over land so as to be somewhat less conspicous and Shining Macaw had agreed. Most of their traders rather crossed the jungle than brave the seas. As they walked down they could see the Nautica.

The harbour was a natural rock pool, where the sides had been carved clean. A few large canoes were tied up on the waterfront as weel and people were bustling about with goods, like abalone, shells and pigments, others were unloading chunks of uncarved jade.

As they were unloading their packs in the communal palapa they were appraoched by another richly feathered individual.
"Welcome to Altun Ha" he spoke, "My name is 21 Macaw, Master of Trade, please state your business."

posted 01-19-01 11:07 ET (US)     192 / 220  
To steal back our ship in the dark of the night thought Aythadis; but this is what he cautiously said. "To seek new goods for trade in our distant lands." The Master-of-Trade was immediately interested.

"And where are these distant lands?" asked 21 Macaw.

Aythadis pointed towards the ocean. "A great distance across..." Then he caught himself. These are not a stupid, primitive people he recollected. He swung his hand pointing now towards the opposite direction. "this land and beyond," he finished. No point in letting them suspect we are seagoers or else they may connect us with the appearance of the Nautica Prima.

The Olmec girls looked at each other with blank expressions but purposeful thoughts. Aythadis sensed what they were thinking. No, it wasn't a deliberate lie except to their own thinking. This is not the flat world they think it is. He knew... because he had seen it for himself in a way the humans could never hope to see it themselves for centuries, no, thousands of years. In fact no Mediterraneans would even know or remember the existence of this continent and the Pacific Ocean for over a thousand years. He told the truth, but left out what would be incomprehensible to the Mayans. It was necessary.


The usual ceremonies ensued lasting well into the evening. Aythadis, Cerek, Thanos and Edes, unnoticed for the moment by their seemingly occupied women friends, slipped away to take a closer look at the vessel where it was moored in shallow water on the coastline below the Mayan city.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 01-19-2001).]

posted 01-22-01 07:26 ET (US)     193 / 220  
By the light of the moon, they could see the Nautica, tied up against the waterfront. Some of the fittings seemed to have been moved, but most of that what was needed to sail the Nautica seemed to be there. She was floating higher on the water than she did when they landed, though.
Presumably the mayans had taken out most, if not all, of the cargo.

Well, Aythadis thought, it was unlikely they'd be needing the cargo, yet they would need more ballast and enough food to make the crossing.
"So what do we do?" Thanos asked.
Then a voice sounded behind them
"Yes, what are you going to do?"

Cerek and Edes' whirled round, their hand reaching for their weapons, then dropping as Aythadis motioned them to. From behind some bales of cotton the priest they met at the gates moved forward, two burly temple guards shadowing him.
"We were looking at this vessel, " Aythadis spoke, "It looks like some of the ships that visted our port not so long ago.
I'm afraid I didn't catch your name, though?"

The priests black eyes burned like a cold and starless winter's night.
"My name is Seven Death, stranger."
His smile never touched his eyes.
"I ask again. What are you going to do?"

Aythadis smiled smoothly his mind moving at a furious pace and said.
"We think we might be able to show the Maya how to sail this vessel. From what we heard your people towed her in, behind a handful of canoes."

posted 01-22-01 15:51 ET (US)     194 / 220  
Seven Death's expression remained steady, but the High Priest's eyes shifted momentarily thus revealing to the alert Aythadis the High Priest's interest in the tall man's implied offer.

"That is true, Stranger. Why are you so interested in teaching us to, as you call it, sail this large canoe?" queried the suspicious High Priest.

"Would trade goods and profit in quantities greater than any your canoes could carry be of interest to the Maya?" responded Aythadis, his green eyes bearing down on the dark eyes of the High Priest.

"It might."

"In my experience canoes like these carry such to and from our shores," said Aythadis. The tall man was careful in choice of words as he was compelled by his nature to tell no untruths to anyone. However, if false conclusions were derived from his truthful statements, then that error lay specifically on the shoulders of whoever was listening. The High Priest's eyes narrowed before he spoke again.

"And you would show us how to make this canoe move by itself on the waters?"

Aythadis replied picking his words carefully, "Yes, High Priest. You, yourself, may see first hand how it is done."

"Why do you offer us this knowledge, Stranger?"

"There will be much trade between your people and faraway lands in the future. Great canoes, some larger than this, will visit your shores. This is knowledge you will learn some day. Why not now?"

"But you have not told me why you wish to do this. Do you evade the question, Stranger?"

The High Priest was more perceptive and persistent than even Aythadis expected. What should he say? Aythadis pondered longer than usual before answering. The truth is best, always the truth... but delicately worded.

"My companions and I wish to return to our homes. We hope you will aid us through your great canoe, but you will need to learn how to make it move through the water first. That is why we must teach you."

The High Priest straightened up pulling his skull-crowned staff closer to his side. He studied the tall stranger closely then decided what he would do. "Return now with your men to the city, Stranger. You and your friends may not leave the city without our permission. You shall not approach the canoe without our warriors being with you. Is it understood?"

Aythadis offered a respectful bow and replied, "It is understood, High Priest." Then Aythadis motioned to the three with him to bow as well. This they did promptly.

"We shall meet on the matter of your teaching us about this canoe. You will have your answer soon." The High Priest focussed his eyes meaningfully on the green eyes of Aythadis, then dropped his stare when he sensed it had no measurable effect. Seven Death turned about and began to walk back to the city. The warriors motioned to Aythadis and the others to follow in the High Priest's steps.


Later, in the Council Room of the city of Altun Ha...

posted 01-23-01 09:04 ET (US)     195 / 220  
"So we agree?" Sun Jaguar asked.
Seven Death looked at the assembled priests with a withering glance, silencing any possibility of disagreement.
"I will be on that canoe to keep an eye on that leader character of them, the one that calls himself Aye Thadis. Something is not right about him, he sees too much."

"Hmph, you're just annoyed he doesn't grovel to you, " one of the other priests mumbled. He hadn't spoken soft enough, though. Seven Death threw him a look that made the hapless priest shiver.
"I heard that, Smoke Shell. You'll regret that remark, I'll make sure of that."

With that threat the sinewy priest left the council his two jaguar guards falling into step.

A little while later he entered the palapa where Aythadis was playing songs on his lute, weaving the music around the clear notes of Ilyena's flute. Thanos saw the priest enter and wondered why the man seemed to be in such a continuous bad temper. Like evil spirits were gnawing at the man's liver.
"You, " the priest intoned, "are to report at the big canoe when the sun hits the zenith. There you will make the canoe 'sail'. Don't think you can try to pull anything on us, my guards and I will accompany you."

Seven Death looked around and his glance fell on Ilyena, who was sitting on the floor. He took one step forward, grabbed the girl's arm and dragged her upright.
"This one will make sure you behave."

Aythadis motioned Edes down and Thanatos held the young Tyrean by the shoulder as Edes' tried to ignore the order.
"Calm down, " the Thracian hissed in his ear.
"He's not going to harm her before we're sailing the Nautica. I'm fairly sure he won't afterwards either."
His grin was a match for Seven Death's. The jaguar guards looked slightly disappointed, then turned around to follow Seven Death as he dragged Ilyena behind him.

"Don't worry, Ilyena" Aythadis called after her. "We're not going to leave you here."

The look of barely controlled panic on her face cut him to the bone.

posted 01-23-01 11:50 ET (US)     196 / 220  
"So that's the plan..." Aythadis looked at each member of the crew and then at Captain Idomenus for a sign of agreement, disagreement... anything. Someone in the group quietly whistled in a tone conveying consternation. Others shook their heads.

"Aythadis, do you really think we can do this and get away with it?" asked Thanos, a deep frown creasing his otherwise young-looking face.

"If all goes well and no independent action is taken by anyone." Aythadis purposefully looked at Cerek, Edes and Bartuc. "I think we all can expect to escape this place with the Nautica."

The trick was to have all of them aboard the Nautica Prima when it sailed. It didn't matter whether the High Priest or his jaguars were on board or not. It did matter that Ilyena was on board. Aythadis felt strongly that the mark of the jaguar that scarred Ilyena's upper thigh would be instrumental in gaining her her freedom. She would have to reveal it at just the right moment. But when was that moment? Aythadis knew timing would be everything.

Thanatos listened intently, but his thoughts were his own and he shared them with no one else. The Ares-worshipper looked across the room at Edes and then at Three Monkey who was at his side. Edes saved his life once and there is a debt to be paid. Red jewel or not, Thanatos will honor his debt, so the young man told himself silently. Thanatos made his own plan...

posted 01-23-01 14:24 ET (US)     197 / 220  
The cook took Jade Rain and River Sun off to the side, and began an animated conversation about certain of the ingredients he had seen used by the Olmecs and the Mayas. Some crew members shook their heads at the cook talking food at a time like this. Other crew members wondered if he had lost his mind. The cook tried to speak in a whisper, but that just made the conversation even more conspicuous. Eventually the cook and the two young girls all shook their heads and placed their hands together between them.

"Aythadis," said the cook, "we may be able to get the locals away from the ship for a short time, but we will need the powdered variety of a local vegetable. There is a local vegetable, that when dried and ground, causes burning in the eyes and throat. The Olmecs use small quantities to spice their cooking, but I got some in my eyes, and it stung, until a local woman gave me a salve to use. If we could send this powder into the air ahead of us, the locals would have to flee. We would apply the salve, screen our mouths and noses and approach the ship during this time. The girls have become quite attached to... um... Ilyena, and I don't want to see her harmed."

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

posted 01-23-01 19:04 ET (US)     198 / 220  
Ilyena was terrified. She was taken away from her "family" and most importantly, Edes. Not sure what to expect, she kept quiet and tried to keep the tears inside. Hopefully they wouldn't take her flute away. Or the panther bracelet that Edes had given her just the other day.

The priests took her to the temple of the jaguar. Before she was allowed to enter, the priests made her undress and wash. One of the priests exclaimed loudly when the mark of the jaguar was revealed on Ilyena's leg. Since Ilyena could not understand what was being said, she was wondering what was happening. All of a sudden she was surrounded by priests that were staring at her.

The high priest came forward and offered Ilyena something to drink. He drank first to show that no harm was intended. As soon as Ilyena swallowed the mixture, she started to understand what was being said. "She has the mark" "She is blessed" "The jaguar has claimed her" were the most heard comments from the circle of priests.

The high priest came back with clean clothing for Ilyena. When she put them on, she realized that the clothes only covered the bare minimums and left the scar free for everyone to see. Her other clothes were whisked away, but Ilyena managed to intercept her flute. This was not going to be fun, but at least it looked like they were not going to hurt her for now.

"Come in here, girl" one of the priests was taking her into a building that had jaguars carved and painted all over it. Ilyena was to sit in the middle of the temple while the priests were starting some ceremony to their God.

posted 01-24-01 05:13 ET (US)     199 / 220  
The junior priests started chanting, while Seven Death looked on, the permanent scowl seemed cavrved on his face. Ilyena thought the statues looked more life life and friendly than the Mayan head priest. Copal smoke was wafting up around her and the girl was starting to feel dizzy. The scar on her leg began to throb, pulsing in the rythm of the chanting.
Smoke clouded her eyes and hid the temple from her view, her head sun, then she could see again.

The temple seemed gone and she appeared to be in a forest clearing. Before her stood a tall wide-shouldered Maya. His eyes were yellow-green, like emeralds. His hair was dark as the night and his nose was a pronounced beak. Somehow he seemed to be shifting, his skin seemed sometimes dotted with spots, a tail seemed to swish behind his back, the canines seemed more pronounced.
"Who...who are you?" Ilyena stammered as she fell to her knees when the man's gaze hit her with the force of an avalance.

"I am the Jaguar"
The voice rumbled inside her head,but the lips never moved.

In the mean time the Nautica's crew was working on getting this powder Cook had talking about ready for use. They were grinding up the dried, bright red fruits and Bartuc was fiddling with his bow to see if he could use it to shoot small packages of the stuff.

Aythadis seemed to be watching the sun climb and Thanos wondered why it didn't blind the green-eyed man. He thought he caught a glimpse of gold in the eyes, but that must surely be a reflection.

Suddenly Aythadis rose, turned round and asked:
"Where did Thanatos go?"

posted 01-24-01 10:47 ET (US)     200 / 220  
*An hour later*
Quietly, Thanatos managed to sneak in the prisoners chamber of in the East side of the city.

"Ilyena, Ilyena? It's me Thanatos." He whispered , his body swiftly followed his voice into the chamber.
"Ilyena, I'm savin..." Thanatos paused as he felt an cold hard object touching his neck from the back. A sword, he's sure.
"Saving what, stranger?" A familiar yet disgusting voice raised from his back.

Thanatos quickly turned around, his right hand was already on the shaft of his trusty sword and in a split second, a half of the sword is drawn.
"Wrong answer, stranger." Seven Death intoned in his chilling voice. Another sword is placed on Thanatos neck, his sword is already robbed.

"Release him." Another familiar voice raised behind Seven Death, this time, a charming female voice. Like a spell or something, Seven Death immediately turned around, and put a smile on his face.
"This man can smile?" Thanatos thought to himself.
"Er... who is this man Lady Ilyena?" Seven Death asked in an humble voice.

Ilyena's eyes widened by this surprising question and her little mind quickly thrusted around for a suitable answer.
"He is my... er... one of my guards!"

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