The big Roman looked up, munching on a mouthful of chowder. The woman approaching the table was dressed in faded rags, her graying hair combed up in the style of the Colchis, pale eyes staring blindly in the general direction of his face.
“We serve no gods, woman,” he said, and spooned more fish in his mouth.
“But you do,” she said, breathlessly. “I prayed for your coming, and the gods answered.”
The Roman eyed his companion. She turned her bright violet eyes on the blind woman and scanned her thoroughly. “What did you pray for?” she asked, her Greek glib with the accent of far away Alexandria.
The blind woman staggered forward, one hand groping in front of her. She found the bench and sat, with a sigh. “I prayed for delivery,” she said, her head tilted to one side. A strand of stringy hair had come loose from her coif, and brushed her wrinkled cheek as she spoke. “I prayed for warriors, to deliver my daughter from the mouth of the Toad.”
The Roman closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
“The Toad?” the Aegyptian asked. She pushed her empty bowl to the side, and leaned closer.
The man sighed. “Toad or bullfrog,” he said in a low voice, “we are not interested. We are just travelers on the road to Rhizaion.”
The Aegyptian ignored him. She put her slender fingers on the parchment-like hand of the older woman. The tattoo snaking up her arm seemed to flow with her movement, and her golden bangles jingled. “Tell me more about this Toad.”
The Roman breathed the name of Mithras.
There were men, sitting at the tables around, all of them fishermen by their look. They stared covertly at them, mumbling in the local uncouth dialect, and looked none too pleased. The air was heavy with more than just the smell of peat, overcooked food and stale wine.
“The Toad sits enthroned on his islet,” the woman said, in a strange sing-song voice. “He's always been there, since before Mummu Tiamatu. He sits and dreams, and the fishes obey his dreams.” She nodded to herself. “They swim in and out of them.”
The Roman looked down into his bowl, a fish-head staring at him with a dead eye. He groaned.
“We also live in his shadow,” the woman continued, “at the ragged edge of his dreams. We pray to him, we worship, and he brings us good fishing, and much food...”
“Enough of this!”
A big man with a broken nose and scarred knuckles had come to stand by their table, a hand on the shoulder of the old woman. He reeked of stale wine and old fish.
“Gyrus,” the blind woman said, half turning her head. Aculeo wondered if she recognized him by his voice or by his smell.
“You've heard enough of this nonsense,” the man called Gyrus said. He spoke Greek with a thick accent. He turned to Aculeo. “This old hag can go back to her house, and you can get on your way.” He slipped two coins from his belt and dropped them on the table. “Your lunch is on me,” he said.
The Roman and the Aegyptian traded a glance. The coins rolled on the table and clicked against each other.
“It's still raining, and the road to Rhizaion is long.” the Roman said, lifring his empty bowl, “And I was about to get me a second serving of your tasty fish soup.”
Gyrus cracked his knuckles. “We don't like strangers in our place,” he growled.
“You're breaking my heart,” the Roman replied, his eyes in the other man's. Gyrus leaned forward, placing a hand on the table, his back bent, the ample shoulders curved, his face a span away from Aculeo's. Garlic hung heavily on his breath.
“I'll break more than your heart, you--”
Silver twirled in the Roman's right hand, and he drove a dagger into the table, right through the hand of the fisherman. The blade quivered, its dull thunk lost in the scream of the fisherman.
The Aegyptian grabbed his wrist, keeping his hand in place. “You are right,” she said, coldly, as the scream died in a gurgle. “Enough of this nonsense.”
The man spread his fingers. The blade had slipped neatly through the space between his index and middle finger, his skin untouched.
“Be gone,” the young woman said, loud enough for everyone to hear, and gestuired fastidiously. “Or they will have to fit your stump with one of those hooks-things.”
She let go of his wrist, and Gyrus took a step back, then another, then he was out of the door.
Someone laughed, somewhere in the common room.
“Now,” the Aegyptian said to the blind woman, “tell us about this Toad, and what it all has to do with your daughter.”
Aculeo shook his head, pulled his dagger from the table, and then crossed his arms.
Raindrops spread circles on the still surface of the water. The nameless bay was a motionless stretch of sea between the coast and the low islet where, so the woman had said, the Toad dwelt.
“My daughter in exchange for a good haul,” the blind woman had said. “Like in the old days, she was brought to the Altar early this morning, there to wait for the night, and for the Toad. Once a year this happens, and it was my daughter they took.”
Aculeo heaved on the oars. A dark woolen cloak on his shoulders, the hood protecting his short hair from the drizzle, he looked miserable like a wet cat.
“I don't like this thing one bit, mind you,” he said.
Amunet sighed. “You heard the poor woman.”
Her own fine silk mantle was of midnight blue, closed at the shoulder with a golden brooch. She was stretched on the bench at the back of the boat, one elbow propped up on the broadside.
“She should have called on the local proconsul,” he said. “These villages, they are stipendiarii, they have rights under Imperial law. Call in the Legion and be done, I say.”
The Aegyptian sighed. “Yes, you said it. Repeatedly. And you saw the woman's reaction.” She shook her head. Then with a beringed finger she pushed a strand of black hair back under the hood. “We are in the sticks, in case you didn't notice. These yokels don't trust authority. They’d sooner bow to their strange god that call on the Empire.”
Aculeo chuckled. “And I do not trust these, as you call them, yokels. This is the Colchis, where they breed witches. A guy called Ovid said that.”
Amunet curled her lips in a smirk. “For all your proud civilization, you Romans are a superstitious breed yourselves. Colchis breeds witches, Britannia is home to the worms of the earth, Aegypt is a land of sorcerers...”
The Roman grinned. “It was not me they were about to sacrifice on a dead god's altar,” he said.
She sniffed, ignoring his barb. “The poor woman's daughter's been left in the middle of nowhere as fodder for some local pet god,” she straightened her shoulders. “We can't let such things happen.”
Aculeo laughed. “Pull the other one, wench. We have no obligation at all to these bumpkins.”
“What about your famous Roman pietas, you stupid ox?” she asked. “Are women worthless, then, to be stranded on lonesome rocks and fed to strange beasts?”
“Leave alone my pietas, you witch,” he grinned. “You are just plain curious about this old fish god of theirs. I saw it in your eyes the moment the old hag started bleating. You know something, and you probably hope to gain something from this boat trip.”
She did not reply. Aculeo squinted at her. “Something she said,” he went on. “Was it something you read in your father's books?”
Amunet was silent for a moment. “The name she mentioned,” she finally said. “Mummu Tiamatu. That’s your something.” She shivered, and pulled her cloak closer. “That's an old name, very old.”
“Old as in,” he shrugged, “dog-headed gods and cat mummies?”
She shrugged. “Older, possibly.”
“Mother of Mithras.”
If there was something the former centurion had learned in the last few months, it was that in Amunet's world, ‘old’ equaled homicidally dangerous.
She nodded. “We're there,” she said.
He turned, and looked at the double hump of the island, a dark shadow in the mist hanging low on the still surface of the sea.
The pier was where the old woman had said it would be. It was a rickety affair built with parts of old wrecked boats. Aculeo tied their boat to one of the posts and then helped Amunet step up, his big hand holding hers firmly. He looked around, grimacing. The thin rain had stopped, and mist was rising, together with unpleasant gurgles from the still water.
Amunet looked down, at the oily green water. Bubbles popped on the murky green surface. She wrinkled her nose. “Feels more like a swamp than the sea.”
Aculeo nodded, and loosened his short sword in his scabbard. Gaunt olive trees grew along the shore. The small beach where they stood soon gave way to high and rocky escarpments on both sides of the pier. The island itself was a small limestone outcrop, with steep flanks like an upturned bowl, covered in sparse shrubbery, and from where they stood they could see a barren plateau, where some big rocks pointed to the gray sky, like the fingers of a skeletal hand.
“What a dump,” Aculeo whispered.
Amunet walked by his side. The sun was low on the western horizon, casting a weak light on the Palemonium sea and the Pontus Euxinus beyond. “We better get moving,” she said. “It will get dark soon.”
They climbed up the side of the hill, in a shallow valley shaped like a funnel, the pier well behind them, the standing stones up ahead, looming. Silence was like a wet cloak stretched over the landscape.
“There are stories,” Amunet said suddenly. “About fish-men, that were worshiped like gods, back in the time of Babylon, and before that, in the land of the Two Rivers.”
Aculeo stopped, one hand on his side, massaging slowly, and took a deep breath as he waited for her to continue.
“My father had a book in his library,” she said, “a scroll about a war among those ancient peoples. The Hittites, that my ancestors despised, were caught in a war that dragged for ages without going anywhere. So, exhausted by the fighting and seeking a quick resolution, some of them called on the fish-god Dagaan. And he answered to their prayers, as he and his brethren were wont. He listened to the plea of the Hittites, and then he asked for sacrifice, and submission, which again was the way of its ilk. In exchange, he promised to cook their enemies on a fisherman's spit, and serve them as dinner to his loyal servants.”
Aculeo thought back at his fish lunch and made a face.
“Because he was one of many, this Dagaan,” Amunet went on. “Which is a name that in the language of the Phoenicians meant 'upward man and downward fish'. According to the ancient scrolls of Toth, he and his brethren came down on our world from the star Sopdet, Sothis to the Greeks, or Seirios.”
“The Dog Star,” Aculeo said.
He put both his hands on his hips. “And so you brought me to this dump to find a fish-man from the Dog Star?” He laughed, shaking his head. “Your people always had a thing for beast-headed gods and other such stuff.”
Amunet stared at him. “You are stupid,” she said. She sounded almost affectionate.
“And so what, you want to check if your late father's books tell the truth? Want this toad god to set you up a skewered fish dinner?”
She looked at him, hard. “Knowledge is power.”
“And the thing with power is, it can be too much for some people, while at the same it's never enough.”
“How wise of you, Roman.”
“Comes to me naturally,” he grinned.
Amunet smiled sadly. “But I'm not some people, you know.”
He shrugged. “As if I didn’t know already,” he said, and started again. Something cracked under his foot. The Roman knelt down and showed Amunet a broken femur, the head a polished, pale sphere.
“Looks like we are in the right place,” she said.
“Or the wrong one,” he replied.
He stood, and pulled his sword from the scabbard.
Fat grasses grew thick along the slope that led to the standing stones, a dark green carpet that contrasted starkly with the bone-white cliffs of the windward side of the island. There were more bones, scattered amongst the grasses, their number increasing as Aculeo and Amunet climbed up. What was left of a man lay in a bush, twigs growing through his pale ribcage, one branching off and shooting through his lower jaw and out of its mouth, lifting the skull off the ground.
Aculeo examined the remains, and showed Amunet the dead man's sword, half a span of broken blade covered in a green layer of corrosion.
“This guy was no sacrifice,” he said.
Amunet pulled a few leaves, and rubbed them between her hands, then sniffed, grimacing at the smell. “Never saw this kind of grass before.”
“Looks like seaweed,” Aculeo said. He looked around, at the mist climbing up around them. “It feels like the bottom of the sea.”
They continued uphill, and finally they came to the top. From there, they could see that the island was in fact shaped like a clover, three roughly round mounds gathered around a deep triangular valley.
Aculeo slapped his hand on the flank of one of the rocks they had seen from below. It was a standing stone, part of a skewed circle. Spirals were etched on the surface, and other signs.
“So, where's the girl?” he asked.
Amunet pointed at the hollow below. “The old woman said the altar is in the middle of the island.”
Aculeo scratched his chin. “I wonder...”
He shook his head. “Nothing. Let's move, it will be dark already down there.”
Down at the bottom, water sloshed around their ankles. Aculeo cursed. Amunet lifted her cloak up, grimacing in distaste. “A place fit for toads, indeed,” she said, fastidiously.
It was like the bottom of a bowl, the water dark and oily, the air foul with the smell of decay and death. There was a low knoll at the center of the dusky depression, little more than a bump, a white stone table on top of it. A young girl was sitting on top of the table. “I guess that's her,” Aculeo said.
She was thin and pale, naked. She was sitting up, legs crossed, arms wrapped against her chest. She rocked slightly, her disheveled hair covering her face. She hummed softly, rhythmically.
“Whatever did they do to her?” Amunet whispered, taking a step forward. Her foot caught something, she stumbled. Aculeo grabbed her arm through the cloak, and steadied her.
Sitting on the stone slab, the girl ignored them, and kept her slow swaying movement, humming her strange low tune. Amunet advanced to the altar, while Aculeo squinted at the dark water. There were bones, in there, and other stuff.
“You have come,” the girl said, startling them. Her voice was husky and resounded strangely in the enclosed space. As she turned her head towards the Aegyptian, the curtain of hair parted, revealing a pale face, with a wide, thin-lipped mouth and blind eyes like her mother's.
“It's all right, young one,” Amunet said softly.
The girl chuckled, a liquid, evil sound that sent a shiver down the woman's spine. “Yes, it is!", the girl said. "Everything's just fine and dandy!"
The thin girl leaned forward, putting her hands down flat on the surface of the altar. Something she'd been cradling rolled on the stone table. A human skull. It bumped on the altar, rolled off the edge and fell in the water, hitting with a metallic clang a rusty half-submerged breastplate. Aculeo cursed under his breath. The pool was filled with remains. Not just bones, broken, marrow sucked out of them. Pieces of damaged armor, too. Dented helms. Lost shin guards. Bent bronze swords, covered with a sickly green patina. His half-forgotten misgiving coalesced into stark reality. “We are the main course,” he whispered.
The girl smiled. “My mother found you,” she said, with another deep chuckle. “She kept the promise. They will be pleased.”
Her lips parted, revealing a black hole of a mouth lined with a myriad thin sharp teeth, like a fish's.
“Mother of Toth!”
Amunet felt Aculeo's shoulders brush her own, as the man moved back-to-back with her. “Looks like you are going to meet your toad god, after all,” the Roman said. He was rolling his cloak around his right arm, his gladius at the ready. “For dinner, and we’ll be the main course!”
Shapes moved in the mist, at the darker margin of the bowl. One of them came forward, sloshing through the bog, webbed hands extended, glowing eyes round and inhuman. Scaly and foul, it made a strange hiss, air huffing out of its neck gills.
Aculeo met it with his padded arm, blocking its attack. He quickly stabbed it in its flaccid gut. The thing gurgled, eyes unblinking, and the Roman pushed it back with his foot.
The fish-man splashed in the bog, thrashing wildly in the low water. Its dying throes caused its mates to tarry. They spread around, hissing. Aculeo counted six of them.
“Now what, mistress?” he hissed.
Leaning against his back, Amunet was rummaging in her satchel. “Just gimme a moment.”
“Be my guest.”
Another of the things ran forward, its talons scratching Aculeo's chest, its tiny teeth biting hard on the rolled cloak.
The blind girl was standing now, cough-like sounds coming from her mouth, her fingers pointing at the man and the woman standing back to back at the foot of the altar. The Roman ignored her. He punched the fish-man in its wide, frog-like face, cracking its skull with the pommel of his sword, and then turned to meet a second attacker with a backhand sweep. They had bone plates on their shoulders and forearms, these creatures, the texture of turtle shell.
“Now it would be nice,” he said, urgently.
Sparks crackled behind him, and a flame sparked. Amunet waved her hand around, tracing snakes of dense gray smoke with her burning bunch of herbs. The smell of laurel, mixed with other erbs he did not recognize, filled Aculeo's nostrils, replacing the smell of the pool. The fish-men fell back, hissing in chorus through their gills.
Amunet drove her elbow in his side. “Move it, big man,” she said. “This won't hold them back forever.”
“You can't leave!” the fish-girl screamed. “The Toad will have you.”
Aculeo pushed his companion towards the slope. “Go!” he said.
In a single flowing movement, he pulled the thick-bladed pugio he carried in a sheath at the small of his back, he extended his arm, and let it fly. The blade turned slowly in mid-air, and embedded itself deep in the chest of the girl. Her unseeing eyes widened. She staggered back, and fell flat on her back, her legs shaking.
The creatures rose around them in a chorus of wet animal sounds.
Acukleo turned and started up the hill, hot on the heels of Amunet.
The wet grass was slippery. A webbed hand grabbed him by the ankle, pulling him back. Aculeo slid, fell flat on his face and slid down along the muddy slope, turning in time to impale a fish-creature on his short sword. The monster fell on him, its limp body as heavy as two men, pushing the breath out of his lungs, suffocating him with its foul reek.
This close, Aculeo thought he could make out the features of the man Gyrus, beneath the folds of flabby skin and the feral maws of the creature. With a grunt, Aculeo pushed it back with a knee, and rolled it away.
Two more fish-men were standing over him. He looked around. There was a bent, green blade sticking in the side of the hill, pale vines curling around its blunted blade. Aculeo grabbed it, and swept at the legs of the closest creature, unbalancing it enough for weight, gravity and water-soaked ground to do the rest. With a surprised gurgle, the thing rolled back, and fell splashing in the bog.
The gladius was still stuck in the dead fish-man body. Aculeo did not try to stand. He kicked his remaining attacker back, ignoring the sharp talons scratching his foot. He gripped the protruding hilt of his weapon, and pulled himself up. He lurched uphill, slid again, knelt down. With a grunt, on his hands and knees, he scampered up the slope.
More monsters were coming, sloshing through the pool. The first stray drops of rain hit Aculeo's mud-smeared face.
Amunet grabbed him by the front of his ripped tunic and pulled him up.
“They baited us,” he said, breathlessly, but the woman paid no heed.
“Get out of my way,” she said.
Breathing hard, the Roman stepped behind her, discarding the bent, rusty old blade. He shook his gladius, trying to shake off it the gooey blood of the fish-things. Amunet stood behind him, arms spread out, almost touching the two standing stones by her sides.
Fish-things were scrambling up the slope, their webbed feet slipping and sliding on the slimy ground. She pushed them back from her mind, closed her eyes and took a long, deep breath. Ignore the smell, she told herself, ignore the fear and its cold grip on your innards, do not be afraid and do what you were born to do.
Aculeo watched her straighten her back, relaxing her shoulders, her blue cloak discarded, bunched around her feet. It was like a low breeze was playing with her black hair, and it was hard to focus on the black designs snaking along her arm.
She spread her fingers, and her lips began shaping words the Roman found hard to catch, harder to follow.
Amunet chanted, her normally clear soprano sinking to a low, almost masculine tone. Aculeo could make out only a few words. “Where do I stand, who do I am.”
The Roman felt goosebumps run down his arms, his Roman upbringing rejecting the supernatural. The chant was uncanny, its rhythm alien. It was like each syllable he heard was just one of a cluster of others that escaped his senses, but sent shivers up his spine.
“Where is the dog star?” Amunet murmured.
The first of the fish-men was by now level with the plateau. Aculeo took a step forward, ready to strike, then stopped. He caught a tingling in the air, the smell of a thunderstorm. The bangles on Amunet's wrist were trembling, jangling against each other, and her hair was being swept back by a wind the Roman saw, but did not feel.
“Where is the moon?” Amunet said, and now the other sounds, the alien sounds Aculeo could not scan were there, and for a brief moment he caught their echo in her voice. The fish-man was standing still, its pale yellow, faintly glowing eyes fixed on the woman in white. Two others joined it, and stopped by its side.
Amunet went on, her voice reduced to a low growl. “You hear me calling to the wind, by the ancient pacts summoned.” Her breath rasped in her throat. “Twice named, twice known.”
She pulled her hands together in front of her bosom with a loud clap to which her violet eyes flicked open, glowing like a cat's. “Begone!” she thundered.
And for a long, eternal heartbeat nothing happened. One of the creatures grinned, and took a step forward. It stopped, gills dilating in a long low hiss. Lightning blazed through the clouds, chased by the low rumble of thunder, and then the earth shook.
It was like a giant hand swept the side of the hill. The fish-men were crushed, pushed one against the other, pressed to the ground. They rolled down the slope in a tangle of arms and legs, while another deep rumble shook the mound and a large chunk of rock detached from the side of the hill, sliding down in a mess of earth, gravel, broken rocks and dying creatures. The standing stone to Amunet's left tilted and leaned at an angle. The one on her right toppled, rolled down the hillside and landed with a crash in the bog.
Amunet breathed again. She looked up at the black sky, turned to the Roman, and then swayed, faltered and sat down heavily on the ground. She shook her head. She was dizzy, spent, her oval face pale and her lips black against it. “Let's get away from this place,” she said wearily.
Aculeo helped her to her feet. “You all right?”
Thick drops of rain splattered around them.
She nodded. A thin trickle of blood escaped from the corner of her mouth.
“I bit my tongue,” she said, catching Aculeo's glance.
Aculeo handed his sword to Amunet and kicked the boat away from the pier. She held the weapon between thumb and forefinger, keeping it away from her body, blade pointed to the ground, eyeing it like it was a dead fish. “What am I supposed to do with this?” she asked, arching an eyebrow.
“You stab anything that comes out of the water.”
“A spear would be better.”
The Roman just grunted, pushing on the oars. The coast was a blacker strip against the black of night, faint lights barely visible through the thick veil of the rain. No more than three miles away. Amunet sat at the prow of the boat, watching the water, gripping the sword in her right hand in a more practical way.
A long scraping sound came from beneath them, and the boat rocked. Both man and woman cursed.
“Any idea?” the Roman asked.
The boat capsized.
Amunet went through air, rain, salt water. The sea closed over her head. She floated in blackness, blind, helpless, suspended in a nothingness that pressed on her and tried to drown her. A large hand grabbed her left leg. She kicked out, and it ripped her golden anklet away. Then it took hold of her calf, and pulled her further down, her white tunic blowing up like a wind caught it, her legs scissoring naked. Her heart pounding against her ribs, she felt the pressure of air as it pushed to escape her lungs. She kicked and floundered, but the grip did not loosen.
Down, beneath her, pale yellow eyes, enormous and unblinking, stared up at her, and the thing started climbing up her body, while she thrashed and tried to swim to the surface. The hands gripped her thighs, then her hips, her waist, and finally the eyes were gazing at her, and there was fire in her throat and in her chest and suddenly there was rage, a blind, killer fury that pushed every other thing back and far away.
Amunet grabbed the thing by the neck, and tightened her grip. The thing moved, its hands holding her arms. She ignored the scratches and the pain just as she was ignoring the red flashes in front of her eyes, the roar in her ears. She just pressed with her hands on the thick corded neck of the creature, until her fingers slipped into the warm softness of the creature's gills, and she racked them with her sharp nails, while her thumbs kept pushing on the throat of the creature.
Time stopped. The roar in her ears stopped.
She was free.
Bubbles escaping through her pressed lips, she swam to the surface, broke through, felt rain hammering her face as she gulped great mouthfuls of sweet, cold air.
Her eyes found their focus again. There was the upturned kernel of their boat, a few yards away, and Aculeo balancing on its side. He was clobbering one of the fish-men with a broken oar, shouting “Die, you cursed son of a catfish! Die! Die!”
Amunet laughed, tasting salt water in her mouth. She spat, and moved slowly towards the boat, while the Roman kept fighting, and cursing the name of fifty different gods.
An old man with his two sons, sailing back home after a sad unfruitful fishing night under the rain, sighted the upturned boat drifting in the early morning mist about five miles from the Trapeios headland. At first they thought it was the back of some great fish, then they saw the two figures clinging to what now they recognized for a wreck. They coasted closer, and the man hailed them in good Greek, his voice hoarse. Both he and the thin woman by his side were ragged, disheveled, their ripped tunics splattered with red and black stains. Both were bleeding from cuts and scratches, and they looked pale, haggard and dangerous.
“Father,” his older son said, “What if they mean to harm us?”
The old man glanced at him. “What for?” He cast a look at their empty vessel. “What could they want to steal from us?”
The young man eyed the two castaways warily. “He's an ugly brute, and big.”
The old man shrugged. “And because of that you would leave them there? Food for the fish, or worse?”
So they took them on board, and gave them water, and a blanket for the woman. She was silent and grim. Both young men looked at her long and hard, fascinated by her tattooed arm and the violet eyes under her wet, black bangs.
“We won't cut your throats,” the man grinned, handing the water skin back, and massaging the back of his neck. He was a Roman, the sign of his legion burned on his shoulder.
The younger boy kept staring at the woman, her legs criss-crossed with red claw marks where the blanket she used as a cloak opened on her side. She glanced sideways at him, and he blushed.
“What attacked you?”, he asked.
The man and the woman exchanged a quick glance, but it was his father that answered him.
“Don't you know where we are?” he asked back, cuffing him on the ear. Everybody's eyes trailed on the distant humps of the lost little islet, a gray shadow in the thinning mist against the brown line of the coast.
The fishermen made gestures against the evil eye, the sign of the horns that invoked the power of Mithras.
“Not many come back from that place,” the older son said, looking at the two passengers with a new respect.
“Nobody should go there in the first place,” the black-haired woman replied, bitterly.
“Only strangers are foolish enough to get baited,” the younger fisherman blurted out, and then his face reddened when the woman laughed, a loud clear sound that brought a sparkle in her strange eyes. Looking downcast, he moved to the poop, and started morosely to disentangle the nets, and throw the refuse overboard.
The old man shook his head, and turned to the Roman. “We are sailing to Trapeios,” he said, pointing west.
The Roman nodded. “That would be fine with us.”
And then he sat by the side of his sleeping companion, and looked out at the sea.
©March, 2016 Davide Mana
Davide Mana has self published a series of stories featuring Aculeo and Amunet. He lives and works in Italy. Learn more online at http://about.me/manadavide.