Missed some chapters of the on-going story of shipwreck, gods and dodgy barbecues? Here’s the list so far:
Part 1: “Swan Song” – Part 2: “Believe” – Part 3: “Taking Sides” – Part 4: “Breaking The Rules” – Part 5: “Interesting Memories” – Part 6: “The Worm That Turned” – Part 7: “Warnings In The Wind”
“Leave?” said Philippus. “Great. That’s all we’ve wanted since we washed up here nearly a month ago.” He strode up to Nadina and looked her straight in the eye. “So why don’t you just magic us out of here right now? Let’s go!”
The nymph cocked her head to one side, examining the scruffy sailor with a hint of bemusement. “It is not that simple.”
“No, somehow I didn’t think it would be. Bloody immortals, all bangs and flashes when they want to impress but actually getting them to do something useful is like wringing wine out of stone.”
Nadina’s lips tightened as she stared back at him. “Unlike Hera, I am not a powerful goddess. I cannot just whisk us away at the click of my fingers.”
“How convenient. Well if you can’t help us, why don’t you just piss off back to your pond.”
“Now hang on, Phil…” said Micon anxiously.
Nadina’s hand shot out and grasped Philippus by the neck and she casually hoisted him upwards, his legs pumping vainly for a foothold in thin air. She canted her head to the other side and smiled at her catch. “If you would let me finish? I was saying that although I am not a powerful goddess, I still have some abilities that may be useful. Would you agree that my strength is far greater than yours?”
“ ‘esss,” gasped Philippus, “iss ve’yy imp’essive.”
“Can you put him down now?” whimpered Micon, gently hopping from foot to foot.
She lowered Philippus to the ground and transferred her hand from his neck to his shoulder; he felt like a small boy gripped by an angry adult. “So,” she began, “we work together. Are we agreed?”
“Definitely,” blurted Micon.
Philippus rubbed this throat and nodded. “Welcome to the crew.”
“Hmph. OK, well,” grumbled Philippus changing the subject, “do you think the pair of you could help me with this raft because it’s taken me most of the day to chop down one bloody tree.”
The nymph appraised Philippus’s work with barely concealed pity. “There may be other options.”
“Like calling down enormous birds to carry us away on their backs?” asked Micon.
“No,” said Nadina, “I have no control over creatures that are not of this island.”
“Probably just as well,” sighed Micon, “Phillipus would only try and eat them.”
“Piss off, Micon. Alright then, O Wise Witch, what do you mean ‘other options’?”
Nadina hesitated. “There is a boat.” She raised her hands against the exclamations that erupted from the two sailors. “But,” she added when they quietened, “it is old and hidden away. It will need… care and attention.”
Micon clapped his hands together with glee. “Sounds like a plan, let’s get cracking.”
“You will need your provisions. We shall visit your cave on the way to the boat.” Nadina gestured to the fallen tree. “This may be useful to us. Bring it.” Philippus visibly bristled but kept any sharp retort to himself.
Micon glanced at his friend and whispered, “It’ll be fine. Trust her,” before shambling off in the nymph’s wake.
Philippus harumphed but there was no-one left to hear it. He bent down, grabbed the tree and began to haul it back to the freshwater lake beside their cave in the middle of the island.
Eris stood on the cliff top overlooking her father’s favourite island. She had to admit that although he was boorish, sex-obsessed and emotionally unstable, Zeus certainly had an eye for beauty. The sea surrounding the island was a perfect turquoise, the grey-green rocks twinkled with sparkling silica, while the trees in the distance looked lush and healthy, a sure sign that a fresh water spring bubbled nearby. For a rare moment she sucked it all in, a calm contentment flowing through her immortal being. She even smiled.
It didn’t last long. She was here to find her father and ask what in Hades he had been up to for the past week. Her brother, Ares, was also missing and she suspected that the two of them were concocting mischief that she had a divine right to be included in – she was the goddess of Discord after all. She crossed her arms and frowned, wondering which part of the island to search first. Her father wasn’t on the high cliff and she couldn’t see him on the surrounding scrubland or hills that fell down to the cluster of trees in the centre of the island. The likelihood was, if he was still on the island, that he would be cavorting with some nymph or captured mortal in the shade. She hoped she caught them in the act; it was so satisfying seeing the rapidly unfolding emotions of surprise, embarrassment, anger and confusion. A faint smile of expectation tweaked the edges of her mouth as she strode down a faintly worn path towards the island’s green heart.
Micon had already gathered up most of their belongings by the time Philippus made it back to their cave. Among the pitiful debris of pottery, rope and fabric lay the remains of their last meal, roasted wild boar. Propped up against the rock of the cave mouth was a large spear and a bronze war helmet, both of which had belonged to the Ares, Olympian God of War, before he had transformed himself into a wild boar and been subsequently killed and eaten by two hapless sailors.
Micon held out a well-worn pale ivory cloak to Nadina. “Erm, I thought you might wear this.”
Nadina glanced at the battered garment. “Why?”
“Well, you know, because you don’t have any clothes of your own,” said Micon, bashfully.
“I don’t want to wear clothes.”
“Well you should,” interjected Philippus as he dropped his tree trunk with a rustley thunk.
“Because, you’re very…” Micon searched for the right words, “noticeable when nude.”
“Distracting,” offered Philippus.
“Distracting to you?” asked the nymph.
“Yes,” they chorused, relieved that they were getting through.
“Well surely that is your problem, rather than mine,” she replied.
Philippus shook his head and sat down, abdicating any role in explaining modesty to a perfect physical female demi-god with the ability to shrivel testicles with just a glare.
Micon took a breath and tried again. “We’re leaving the island, aren’t we?”
“Yes, that is the plan.”
“Once we get back to civilisation, there will people. All of those people will be wearing clothes. You will be very noticeable if you insist on being naked. If we’re trying to avoid attention from the gods, it would be better if you wore something.”
Nadina took the cloak and quietly tied it around her neck. “I will take your advice. I must adapt to the new situation.”
Micon glanced at Philippus who shrugged in return. They collected their goods as best as they could and turned to the be-cloaked nymph. “Ready,” said Micon.
Nadina bent down and picked up the helmet and spear that had once belonged to Ares. “I shall take these. They may be useful away from the island.” She placed the helmet on her head and turned to look at the sun as it slowly slid down the sky. Its rays glinted off her new bronze-work and she strode off, beautifully muscled calves visible beneath the hem of her gently billowing cloak.
Micon realised he was staring at her with his mouth wide open.
“The cloak doesn’t make her any less striking, does it?” smirked Philippus. He hoisted his tree trunk and set off after her. Micon took one final glance around before joining his crew-mate, clutching their pathetic provisions to his chest.
Eris strolled into the clearing beside the pool of fresh water that flowed gently away down a shallow valley and out to sea. There had definitely been activity around here, she could see footprints and evidence of something being dragged along the ground. But nothing stirred. Whoever frequented this island wasn’t around. If her father had already left perhaps any time spent here would be wasted. But curiosity had always got the better of Eris. Wanting to know more was so advantageous for those who liked to plot and scheme. After a cursory glance around the glade she set off into the woods, following the trail caused by whatever had been hauled across the earth, completely failing to realise she was heading in the wrong direction.
Micon drew up behind Nadina who stood between two overhanging rocks in a narrow gorge down by the sea. He glanced over his shoulder to see Philippus still dragging his tree and gasping with the effort. The nymph turned to them and pointed to a dark, dank section of the craggy coastline, lurking in the evening shadows.
“We need to go in there.”
Micon stared and swallowed, partly through the effort of the trek but mostly through an uneasy sense of trepidation. Fog, swirling and thick, marked the entrance to the cave.
Philippus nudged him in the back. “Off you go then.”
“What? Why do I have to go first?”
“Because I’m pulling the world’s biggest broom and you’ll fall over it if I go first.”
“Why can’t she go first? She’s the one with the spear.”
Philippus sighed. “Come on, man up and get in the bloody cave.”
With a glance at Nadina, who was watching the sea intently, Micon began to pick his way across the damp, mist-bound rocks towards the black mouth of the cave.