Archive for February, 2018

Metrius – Post 7

February 28, 2018

olive basket

The sting of the cold water crashed into his face as he brought the liquid to his skin and closed his eyes to feel the freshness flow over him. He watched the water of the trough become stained with a pink tinge, rubbing his arms and hands to remove the grim marks of the fight. Rising from where he knelt at the horse trough, he patted his steed’s muzzle before it began to drink.

The light of the god’s sun that illuminated the perfect blue sky was gradually fading, night preparing to swallow up the world once again. All around, the farm’s trees were laden with a crop of healthy olives that would soon need to be harvested. As night crept in, they gradually became shapes that hide ghouls and ghosts in the darkness. Despite the warmth he shivered, a creepy rush that ran up his spine and made him more than eager to head inside.

“Alkaterina!”

The only thing that could ease this pain he felt was the face of his wife, Alkaterina. Their love would always bring peace to his mind, soften his thoughts and unwind his soul. Just to see her would remind him of just why he loved her so much, and all other troubles could simply be dismissed for those moments.

“Alkaterina!”

Walking across the cool tiled floor, the columns began to cast their shapes across the patterns as the light of the first stars began to look down upon him. Across the courtyard, woven baskets were piled with juniper green olives, miniature mountains formed from the smallest of fruits.

Alkaterina’s face was thinner than most women and perhaps overly slender. Metrius saw this as grace and beauty that most women lacked. His gaze followed her as she walked from the kitchen door, momentarily stopping to wipe her brow and brush back a long strand of hair that had fallen into her eyes. Finally seeing him standing there, she jumped at the sight of his shape hidden in the night.

“Metrius, I did not see you.”

Walking across the courtyard toward her, Metrius smiled at the woman he loved with all his heart. He raised a hand, touching her cheek, but he halted as she raised a hand to stop him.

“I have work, Metrius.” She nodded at the baskets, “The rest of the harvest has to be brought into the store room and I still have your food to make.”

Metrius moved over to the olives and lifted one of the baskets, “We shall bring them in together.”

Alkaterina seemed to ponder his words for a second and then shrugged, “As you please.” As she bent over her brow creased, “Your clothes Metrius?”

Turning to where she looked, Metrius noticed some stains that still had not washed away. A spattering of blood had been splashed across his tunic as if red raindrops had drizzled upon him.

Lifting the basket, Metrius hurriedly hid the marks behind its wicker surface, “It is nothing.”

Pausing, Alkaterina considered Metrius’s answer and he could tell she didn’t believe him. She knew that there was more to those stains than just an injury on the farm or an attack on the sheep but she did not chase the matter. Instead she picked up her olives and walked in through to the kitchen. Watching Alkaterina’s curves sway as she walked in front of him, Metrius let out a breathe as the matter was left alone.

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Metrius of Sabine – Episode 1

February 27, 2018

For those of you who want to catch up on what’s happened, all six posts merged into one.

Enjoy.

ancient shepherd

Metrius of Sabine

He leaned back in his throne, a grand ornately carved structure that served to emphasize his position and stature. Its high back made his presence all the more looming as he looked down upon those around him and his hands sat on the broad arm rests as he judged those before him.

Imposing himself, those who looked at him were immediately struck with awe. This was the way it had always been and this was the way it always should be. Muscular in form, chest oiled so that it gleamed in the sun’s light, his torso gave the impression that he was young and fit. Despite this, there was a timeless age in his face. A flowing beard was now painted grey and his face had creases that showed his time on Earth. For those who were strong or foolish enough to look into his face, they were drawn into cold eyes that showed endless wisdom. They seemed to suck everything from the soul so that nothing could be hidden and this would break most humans.

This was no human before him. Her beauty was beyond any that a human could be born with, captivating to look at and hypnotic in motion. Her hair was long and dark, flowing in a cascade over bare shoulders and perfectly tanned skin. Any man or woman would crave to even touch that flesh, caress her faultlessness. Naked to the waste, her slight breasts seemed only to complete the magic that seemed to form this absorbing figure.

In her arms she cradled a soft white dove, brushing her hand over the soft feathers to make it still. It seemed at ease in her gently grasp, pleasured by the feel of her fingers constant petting. Her eyes studied the bird, at peace with the harmony that was emitted between the two, and then she looked up at the throne.

“Father, there is change coming.”

Zeus stared down at Aphrodite, absorbing the words that she spoke. They had conversed for several hours now and he had been waiting for the moment she would approach the matter. She was young and naïve, new to the world.

“There is always change.” His words were cold, without emotion.

She looked up at him, perhaps a flare of annoyance in her juvenile glare, and then it sank away into the loving gaze that she always bore. Pacing softly along the paved floor, her bare feet padded across its surface whilst the cloth draped around her waist flowed across the ground behind her.

“We shall reform.”

Zeus nodded, “We always reform. It is the way the world works.”

A frown creased her brow, such a strange look on the angelic grace that she was. Sometimes he wondered how his child could be so completely flawless, such was the extent of her beauty, but then she represented everything of adoration and beauty to those who gave birth to them. It only showed how much love there was in the world below. He followed his daughter’s path, waiting for the argument that she would undoubtedly put before him.

“Yet we meddle in other ways? We give to the blessed and punish those who deserve but we must be moulded like some potter’s clay?” She sighed, frustrated at the matter.

“A potter can create much beauty from clay.” Zeus stated, as if preaching to a child. Sometimes he still thought of her as such even though she had long since reached her womanhood.

She shook her head, “It should be different.”

As she came before him, Zeus leaned forward and gently touched her on the shoulder. His grip was surprisingly soothing and soft, immediately instilling a peace upon his daughter. Leaning her head to one side, she brushed her cheek against his rough fingers and closed her eyes.

“We are here to provide guidance and they are there to create our existence. Without us they would be lost and without them we would not be.”

For a moment she sat there, eyes closed, feeling the love from her father. Then, just as an alerted fox is awakened by its instincts, her eyes snapped open,“He is coming.”

Immediately Zeus withdrew his hand and he leaned back into the throne. His lips pursed and Aphrodite drew away, knowing she may have pushed this matter too far. He knew who his daughter spoke of and such thoughts made a fire build up within as if to spew forth from within his gut. The burning was like a volcano rumbling and he fought to hold this rage back.

“It will be a test.”

Relieved that these were her father’s only words, Aphrodite felt herself relax. Only then did she realize how tense her father’s anger had made her. She sank back into the peace that always cocooned her and once again began stroking the white bird. Bowing her head she looked at the ground.

“I’m sorry if I offended you, father.”

A strong hand lifted her gently by the chin and she looked up into the love that graced her from the King of the Gods.

“You could never offend me.”

*

The valley stretched away before Metrius, mountains reaching up into the sky as if lifting their heads to the gods themselves. White capped, it seemed as if he could feel the cold as an entity itself, a chill that ran through the veins to make the bones shiver. Their peaks were blanketed by thick snow making them an empty canvas for the god’s paints.

A flood of greens shaded the descent into the nooks and crannies of the landscape; forests that stretched out like an endless army. Nature would always envelop these beautiful lands, making its presence known in the leaves and branches that intertwined to form its multitude. Among those trees the animals hid; rabbits that darted into its depths when danger flickered forth; delicately painted deer that nibbled the grass among the roots; and wolves that hunted in pack, sleek footed and cunning.

It was because of those wolves that Metrius now stood here so high up, a sling bag held by a strap over his shoulder and staff held in his other hand. It was cold up here, on the fields above the village, but he never complained. The sight was so awesome that every day was breathtaking, and tomorrow he would gaze upon it once again.

Seating himself upon a large boulder, he placed the staff down on the ground to his side. Feeling the fresh air fill his lungs, he drew the leaven bread from his bag and broke the soft meal to keep some for later. Crumbs dropped to the soil around him, soil that his animals had fed upon many times before, and he wondered how many times he would be here again. Before him sheep grazed on the dry grass, oblivious to the dangers around them that Metrius would protect them from.

The sound of horse hooves made Metrius jump to his feet, the noise causing alarm as he rarely heard others so high up. His hand slipped to a sling that he carried by his side, but before it was within his grasp the horseman rounded the corner and upon recognition he relaxed his stance.

Riding the horse was a man named Theocydes, a friend who worked the wool these animals would give. There was a look of panic about him, and his slight form seemed overly tense. More worrying still was the spear that was strapped closely to his back. Clinging tightly to his ride, he tugged the reign to get the animal to stop as the others behind him followed suit.

“Metrius! Thank god!” There was much relief in his voice and it was evident he had been looking for the shepherd. Metrius looked up at the others, all people from the village, and could see the grim expressions in dark faces. Something was seriously amiss.

“Theocydes, what brings you here?”

Looking down from his mount the weaver bit his lip in anxiety, clenching the reign tightly. He fidgeted in his seat, not wanting to answer the question, but the obvious agitation in Metrius’ face finally stopped him from evading the answer.

“It is your best friend, Metrius, he has been taken.”

Immediately Metrius could feel his heart begin to race, his chest tighten and breathing come more forced.

“What do you mean? Taken by who?”

The uneasy glances that were passed between the men made him all the more uneasy.

“Kephalos.”

*

A blow crashed into Ariston’s belly, thrusting upward to make him bring up the content of his stomach. The wretched vomit was violently spewed down his chest as his arms were pinned behind his back by one of Kephalos’s men. There was no time to recover from the punch as a second then third smashed into his ribs, pain lancing through him as something cracked.

The thugs around him laughed and jeered at his cries, mocking Ariston’s misery.

“Do you think you will bed her when your face is swollen like a pig’s?”

As if to emphasize the question, a blow smashed into the side of his face, splitting the skin above his eye. Sticky blood dripped down into his socket, half blinding him from the view of his captors. In some ways it was a mercy, as watching each of the outlaws who were to take their turn beating him had only made him soil himself as he cried out for mercy.

“Or maybe we should castrate you?”

This time the knee caught him below, ramming into his groin so hard that he could feel nothing but the pain this blow had brought. His world was becoming one of constant agony, his arms wrenched back further and further as they threatened to exit their sockets.

“Stop that!” This shriek was from a young woman across the clearing, a beautiful freckled girl whose visage had put Ariston in this hell. He had fallen in love the moment he saw her, wanted to be with such a beautiful woman that he knew he could never have her, yet she had befriended him. They had conversed and laughed for hours, not once did he make a move, and when she had finally brought his lips to hers the kiss had made his head spin.

Then he had discovered she was the girl of one of Kephalos’s outlaws.

Through blurred vision, Ariston watched as his attacker stalked over to his love. The world seemed slanted to one side as the outlaw grabbed her roughly by the arm and shook her, “Bite your tongue bitch or I’ll punish you too. You shall see what happens to those who look to take my woman.”

“I am not your woman!”

The back of his hand struck her across her face, the smack stinging Ariston as much as it stung her. In a pathetic attempt, Ariston tried to frantically shake away the one who held him but it was only answered by more laughter at his fruitless attempt. Cursing and screaming, Ariston roared out in rage before a rock crashed into his jaw with a sickening crunch. Immediately it felt as if someone was repeatedly kicking the side of his face, constantly pounding his head, but he was unable to even cry out. They had broken his jaw.

“You are mine.” The man hissed, marching across to where Ariston barely stood, held up by the man behind him. Blood and saliva dribbled from his open mouth. Snatching the rock from whoever had struck his jaw, the abductor drew his arm back.

Behind the man, Ariston saw the horseman burst through the trees, Metrius thrusting his spear forward and into the back of one of his captors. Relief flooded through him.

Then there was a burst of pain as the rock struck his forehead and all went black.

*

Metrius’ spear plunged into the back of the first, the point thrust so deep that is skewered the outlaw like a spit roast rabbit. The man’s shriek came forth, a young child’s cry in a nightmarish sleep. The sight of the rock striking his friend’s head drew a bitter snarl from Metrius’ lips, filling him with wrath, and his spear thrust in again and again.

The other thugs, dispersed throughout the clearing, fumbled for their swords and weapons but already Theocydes and his men were riding amongst them. The stale smell of horse sweat filled the air, tinged with the metallic taste of blood, as the criminals were rode down. Animals snorted and whinnied, eyes filled with terror as some of the killers tried to strike back, but Metrius and his men were good riders and they would not deny themselves their vengeance.

“Metrius! That one’s getting away!”

Twisting the reign of his horse, Metrius caught a glimpse of the man who had darted into the undergrowth, fleeing in a maddened sprint to save himself from sharing the fate of the others.

“After him!” The reply was snapped, his spear an extension of his arm that pointed after the escaping fugitive. Riders crashed into the tree line to hunt their prey down.

Sliding from his mount, Metrius stared across the clearing at the young girl who now sat sobbing, trying to hold Ariston’s still body to her even though he was still tied to the tree. The blood had stained her himation, the red soaking into the woolen cloth. Her arms clung tightly to his head that tilted forward, nodding off in some slumber that he would never wake from. That Metrius was sure of.

As he approached, the view of Ariston’s body and face made him wince, such a mess had been made of him. Stripped naked, his torso was purple and swollen in so many places, as if goblets of dye had been splattered across his stomach and chest. His fingers on one hand were at mangled improper angles, the knuckles snapped so that they looked more like that of a cripple than the fine carpenter he had been. It had been a lesson to show he would never be a craftsman again.

And his face…there very nearly was none. Both eyes were sunken into a swollen cheeks that puffed up to swallow the left and partially hide the right. Coagulated blood hang from one side as if daring gravity to release it to the ground below, but instead it created a sticky glue that would have made those last images indistinct and distorted. It would have not hid the pain, pain created from smashed teeth, the broken nose, and a split, distended scalp that ended his life.

Dropping to his knee, Metrius lowered his head and fought the tears.

“I…was…not…his.” The sobbed of the woman, quiet words were broken by intakes of breathe as Metrius slipped his arm around the girl. She leaned her head against his shoulder, dark locks flowing over his bare arm

“Not his?” Asked Metrius curiously, wishing to make some sense of what had happened.

Lifting a shaking hand slowly, she pointed across to where a man lay, cough violently so that spatters of red fluid frothed from his lips in a sadistic fountain.

“I bedded him several weeks ago, one of Kephalos’s lackeys. When he returned to my village I had begun courting Ariston and that he could not have.”

Recollection of Ariston telling Metrius about a new girl came to him, but he had never realized it was this woman before him. She was lighter than most, still with the dark Mediterranean hair and eyes, but a beautiful curve to her jaw and skin unblemished and flawless. He could easily see why Ariston had been so in love with her.

Eyes narrowing, Metrius looked across to where Ariston’s killer lay and felt an anger stirring in his gut. No, this was not an anger but a fury that was beginning to consume everything within him. Reaching for the blood smeared rock that had been the murder weapon, he lifted the slick covered stone and turned it in his palm, coating his hand in the sticky fluid.

Surrendering himself to the rage, he stalked across to where the killer lay. It was evident that the man had little or no time left, blood dripping from his mouth and shoulders shuddering. Even so, there was enough life in him to see Metrius standing above him, shadow falling across him, the stance of a demon possessed. The rock was brought down upon his head.

Again, again and again.

“Metrius! Metrius!”

The voice seemed to be echoing in the distance, somewhere far away, and then he was there kneeling on the man’s chest, staring into the face that was now just a mashed pulp. He felt himself gag at the sight, fought to control his reflexes, and then saw the gore that now coated his arms from wrist to elbow.

Tossing the stone aside, he rose to his feet, the others staring at him in shock. They watched, grim and dark, as he moved back to his horse, wiping the blood from his arms in the black fur. The horse’s side glistened with sweat and now it was marked with streaks of red.

“Kephalos will want his revenge.”

There were murmurs of agreement, sounds of men who were watching dark clouds forming on the horizon.

“He will not know. They are all dead.” Metrius was about to mount his horse when he saw the men looking down at the ground like children scolded. Knowing the inevitable reply, he asked the question nonetheless.

“You caught the man who fled?”

One shrugged, “He had vanished. We searched but he has fled like a fox.”

“And he should have been hunted down like one!” Snapped Metrius. Closing his eyes he tried to figure out what needed to be done. Kephalos would come with more than a small band of men, men would kill them and even take out vengeance on the village. Rubbing his forehead the answer came to him.

“I shall travel to the council. They have sought out Kephalos’s criminals for some time and now they have the chance. When they attack out village a larger force will be waiting.”

An older nodded in agreement, evidently taken with the idea, “If you travel in these darkening hours the outlaws shall have you on the road. Travel tomorrow, it will take Kephalos at least three days to reach us.”

The man watched Metrius carefully, hoping the younger Sabine would listen to the wisdom.

“Tomorrow.” Agreed Metrius, mounting his horse, “Tomorrow I shall fetch the council’s men and then Kephalos will be removed from these lands.”

Sharpe’s Gold

February 26, 2018

sharpes gold

I have to say, Bernard Cornwell is one of my favourite writers. Its been a long time since I first read Sharpe’s Rifles (before I watched the TV series I would like to point out) and I made my way through nearly every book in the series. This time it was Sharpe’s Gold, one of my most enjoyed Sharpe books. The only one that comes anywhere close for me is Sharpe’s Sword. In the later the villain is ferocious, Sharpe’s sacred sword is lost, and the imagery of Richard lying at the end of his life in the death ward is fantastic. Anyways, Sharpe’s Gold and the spoilers that go with it.

What I love the most about Bernard Cornwell is his ability to paint imagery. There are numerous times in this book that cause me to become engrossed, in particular when Almeida has a large portion of it walls, houses and cathedral blown away thanks to a Sharpe lighting up the sky with the stored powder. The ruthlessness and determination of Sharpe to complete his mission and fulfil his duty, despite hundreds needing to be killed in the blast, show you everything you need to know about the character. Nothing will stop him.

Funnily enough there’s no real battle in this book. Cornwell usually basis his books on one fight or another but in this case the siege of Almeida barely plays a part. After all, Almeida was blown apart from within before its siege really started. Instead, the illustrations he creates in your mind show Sharpe’s men trudging across the mountain paths with the gold, the savagery of the war in Spain, and at the end the might of the Lines of Torres Vedras.

As usual he has his clever twists, with Harper uncovering the gold that was hidden in a manure pile and Sharpe overly thinking a missing ladder to believe his would be assailant is planning to invade his bedroom by the balcony. After a sporadic and dangerous assault course hanging from rooftops and traversing window ledges, he has El Catolico tell him they were simply going to shoot him through the window. El Catolico isn’t around for much longer, surprise surprise!

The one think I would say about Sharpe’s Gold is that there are some of the usual repetitions; Sharpe’s love for a woman he can’t have; the evil villain he kills; and the times he is almost humiliated only to find the truth and turn the tables. But I have to say I like them. Maybe if Bernard Cornwell couldn’t write as well, maybe if he couldn’t paint the pictures and weave in interesting plots, but he can.

Next in the series…Sharpe’s Escape!

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Metrius – post 6

February 26, 2018

bloody rock

“Not his?” Asked Metrius curiously, wishing to make some sense of what had happened.

Lifting a shaking hand slowly, she pointed across to where a man lay, cough violently so that spatters of red fluid frothed from his lips in a sadistic fountain.

“I bedded him several weeks ago, one of Kephalos’s lackeys. When he returned to my village I had begun courting Ariston and that he could not have.”

Recollection of Ariston telling Metrius about a new girl came to him, but he had never realized it was this woman before him. She was lighter than most, still with the dark Mediterranean hair and eyes, but a beautiful curve to her jaw and skin unblemished and flawless. He could easily see why Ariston had been so in love with her.

Eyes narrowing, Metrius looked across to where Ariston’s killer lay and felt an anger stirring in his gut. No, this was not an anger but a fury that was beginning to consume everything within him. Reaching for the blood smeared rock that had been the murder weapon, he lifted the slick covered stone and turned it in his palm, coating his hand in the sticky fluid.

Surrendering himself to the rage, he stalked across to where the killer lay. It was evident that the man had little or no time left, blood dripping from his mouth and shoulders shuddering. Even so, there was enough life in him to see Metrius standing above him, shadow falling across him, the stance of a demon possessed. The rock was brought down upon his head.

Again, again and again.

“Metrius! Metrius!”

The voice seemed to be echoing in the distance, somewhere far away, and then he was there kneeling on the man’s chest, staring into the face that was now just a mashed pulp. He felt himself gag at the sight, fought to control his reflexes, and then saw the gore that now coated his arms from wrist to elbow.

Tossing the stone aside, he rose to his feet, the others staring at him in shock. They watched, grim and dark, as he moved back to his horse, wiping the blood from his arms in the black fur. The horse’s side glistened with sweat and now it was marked with streaks of red.

“Kephalos will want his revenge.”

There were murmurs of agreement, sounds of men who were watching dark clouds forming on the horizon.

“He will not know. They are all dead.” Metrius was about to mount his horse when he saw the men looking down at the ground like children scolded. Knowing the inevitable reply, he asked the question nonetheless.

“You caught the man who fled?”

One shrugged, “He had vanished. We searched but he has fled like a fox.”

“And he should have been hunted down like one!” Snapped Metrius. Closing his eyes he tried to figure out what needed to be done. Kephalos would come with more than a small band of men, men would kill them and even take out vengeance on the village. Rubbing his forehead the answer came to him.

“I shall travel to the council. They have sought out Kephalos’s criminals for some time and now they have the chance. When they attack out village a larger force will be waiting.”

An older nodded in agreement, evidently taken with the idea, “If you travel in these darkening hours the outlaws shall have you on the road. Travel tomorrow, it will take Kephalos at least three days to reach us.”

The man watched Metrius carefully, hoping the younger Sabine would listen to the wisdom.

“Tomorrow.” Agreed Metrius, mounting his horse, “Tomorrow I shall fetch the council’s men and then Kephalos will be removed from these lands.”

Metrius – Post 5

February 25, 2018

cavalryMetrius’ spear plunged into the back of the first, the point thrust so deep that is skewered the outlaw like a spit roast rabbit. The man’s shriek came forth, a young child’s cry in a nightmarish sleep. The sight of the rock striking his friend’s head drew a bitter snarl from Metrius’ lips, filling him with wrath, and his spear thrust in again and again.

The other thugs, dispersed throughout the clearing, fumbled for their swords and weapons but already Theocydes and his men were riding amongst them. The stale smell of horse sweat filled the air, tinged with the metallic taste of blood, as the criminals were rode down. Animals snorted and whinnied, eyes filled with terror as some of the killers tried to strike back, but Metrius and his men were good riders and they would not deny themselves their vengeance.

“Metrius! That one’s getting away!”

Twisting the reign of his horse, Metrius caught a glimpse of the man who had darted into the undergrowth, fleeing in a maddened sprint to save himself from sharing the fate of the others.

“After him!” The reply was snapped, his spear an extension of his arm that pointed after the escaping fugitive. Riders crashed into the tree line to hunt their prey down.

Sliding from his mount, Metrius stared across the clearing at the young girl who now sat sobbing, trying to hold Ariston’s still body to her even though he was still tied to the tree. The blood had stained her himation, the red soaking into the woolen cloth. Her arms clung tightly to his head that tilted forward, nodding off in some slumber that he would never wake from. That Metrius was sure of.

As he approached, the view of Ariston’s body and face made him wince, such a mess had been made of him. Stripped naked, his torso was purple and swollen in so many places, as if goblets of dye had been splattered across his stomach and chest. His fingers on one hand were at mangled improper angles, the knuckles snapped so that they looked more like that of a cripple than the fine carpenter he had been. It had been a lesson to show he would never be a craftsman again.

And his face…there very nearly was none. Both eyes were sunken into a swollen cheeks that puffed up to swallow the left and partially hide the right. Coagulated blood hang from one side as if daring gravity to release it to the ground below, but instead it created a sticky glue that would have made those last images indistinct and distorted. It would have not hid the pain, pain created from smashed teeth, the broken nose, and a split, distended scalp that ended his life.

Dropping to his knee, Metrius lowered his head and fought the tears.

“I…was…not…his.” The sobbed of the woman, quiet words were broken by intakes of breathe as Metrius slipped his arm around the girl. She leaned her head against his shoulder, dark locks flowing over his bare arms.

Metrius – Post 4

February 24, 2018

greek fight

A blow crashed into Ariston’s belly, thrusting upward to make him bring up the content of his stomach. The wretched vomit was violently spewed down his chest as his arms were pinned behind his back by one of Kephalos’s men. There was no time to recover from the punch as a second then third smashed into his ribs, pain lancing through him as something cracked.

The thugs around him laughed and jeered at his cries, mocking Ariston’s misery.

“Do you think you will bed her when your face is swollen like a pig’s?”

As if to emphasize the question, a blow smashed into the side of his face, splitting the skin above his eye. Sticky blood dripped down into his socket, half blinding him from the view of his captors. In some ways it was a mercy, as watching each of the outlaws who were to take their turn beating him had only made him soil himself as he cried out for mercy.

“Or maybe we should castrate you?”

This time the knee caught him below, ramming into his groin so hard that he could feel nothing but the pain this blow had brought. His world was becoming one of constant agony, his arms wrenched back further and further as they threatened to exit their sockets.

“Stop that!” This shriek was from a young woman across the clearing, a beautiful freckled girl whose visage had put Ariston in this hell. He had fallen in love the moment he saw her, wanted to be with such a beautiful woman that he knew he could never have her, yet she had befriended him. They had conversed and laughed for hours, not once did he make a move, and when she had finally brought his lips to hers the kiss had made his head spin.

Then he had discovered she was the girl of one of Kephalos’s outlaws.

Through blurred vision, Ariston watched as his attacker stalked over to his love. The world seemed slanted to one side as the outlaw grabbed her roughly by the arm and shook her, “Bite your tongue bitch or I’ll punish you too. You shall see what happens to those who look to take my woman.”

“I am not your woman!”

The back of his hand struck her across her face, the smack stinging Ariston as much as it stung her. In a pathetic attempt, Ariston tried to frantically shake away the one who held him but it was only answered by more laughter at his fruitless attempt. Cursing and screaming, Ariston roared out in rage before a rock crashed into his jaw with a sickening crunch. Immediately it felt as if someone was repeatedly kicking the side of his face, constantly pounding his head, but he was unable to even cry out. They had broken his jaw.

“You are mine.” The man hissed, marching across to where Ariston barely stood, held up by the man behind him. Blood and saliva dribbled from his open mouth. Snatching the rock from whoever had struck his jaw, the abductor drew his arm back.

Behind the man, Ariston saw the horseman burst through the trees, Metrius thrusting his spear forward and into the back of one of his captors. Relief flooded through him.

Then there was a burst of pain as the rock struck his forehead and all went black.

Metrius – Post 3

February 23, 2018

spear cavalrySeating himself upon a large boulder, he placed the staff down on the ground to his side. Feeling the fresh air fill his lungs, he drew the leaven bread from his bag and broke the soft meal to keep some for later. Crumbs dropped to the soil around him, soil that his animals had fed upon many times before, and he wondered how many times he would be here again. Before him sheep grazed on the dry grass, oblivious to the dangers around them that Metrius would protect them from.

The sound of horse hooves made Metrius jump to his feet, the noise causing alarm as he rarely heard others so high up. His hand slipped to a sling that he carried by his side, but before it was within his grasp the horseman rounded the corner and upon recognition he relaxed his stance.

Riding the horse was a man named Theocydes, a friend who worked the wool these animals would give. There was a look of panic about him, and his slight form seemed overly tense. More worrying still was the spear that was strapped closely to his back. Clinging tightly to his ride, he tugged the reign to get the animal to stop as the others behind him followed suit.

“Metrius! Thank god!” There was much relief in his voice and it was evident he had been looking for the shepherd. Metrius looked up at the others, all people from the village, and could see the grim expressions in dark faces. Something was seriously amiss.

“Theocydes, what brings you here?”

Looking down from his mount the weaver bit his lip in anxiety, clenching the reign tightly. He fidgeted in his seat, not wanting to answer the question, but the obvious agitation in Metrius’ face finally stopped him from evading the answer.

“It is your best friend, Metrius, he has been taken.”

Immediately Metrius could feel his heart begin to race, his chest tighten and breathing come more forced.

“What do you mean? Taken by who?”

The uneasy glances that were passed between the men made him all the more uneasy.

“Kephalos.”

Metrius – Post 2

February 22, 2018

ancient shepherd“Yet we meddle in other ways? We give to the blessed and punish those who deserve but we must be moulded like some potter’s clay?” She sighed, frustrated at the matter.

“A potter can create much beauty from clay.” Zeus stated, as if preaching to a child. Sometimes he still thought of her as such even though she had long since reached her womanhood.

She shook her head, “It should be different.”

As she came before him, Zeus leaned forward and gently touched her on the shoulder. His grip was surprisingly soothing and soft, immediately instilling a peace upon his daughter. Leaning her head to one side, she brushed her cheek against his rough fingers and closed her eyes.

“We are here to provide guidance and they are there to create our existence. Without us they would be lost and without them we would not be.”

For a moment she sat there, eyes closed, feeling the love from her father. Then, just as an alerted fox is awakened by its instincts, her eyes snapped open, “He is coming.”

Immediately Zeus withdrew his hand and he leaned back into the throne. His lips pursed and Aphrodite drew away, knowing she may have pushed this matter too far. He knew who his daughter spoke of and such thoughts made a fire build up within as if to spew forth from within his gut. The burning was like a volcano rumbling and he fought to hold this rage back.

“It will be a test.”

Relieved that these were her father’s only words, Aphrodite felt herself relax. Only then did she realize how tense her father’s anger had made her. She sank back into the peace that always cocooned her and once again began stroking the white bird. Bowing her head she looked at the ground.

“I’m sorry if I offended you, father.”

A strong hand lifted her gently by the chin and she looked up into the love that graced her from the King of the Gods.

“You could never offend me.”

*

The valley stretched away before Metrius, mountains reaching up into the sky as if lifting their heads to the gods themselves. White capped, it seemed as if he could feel the cold as an entity itself, a chill that ran through the veins to make the bones shiver. Their peaks were blanketed by thick snow making them an empty canvas for the god’s paints.

A flood of greens shaded the descent into the nooks and crannies of the landscape; forests that stretched out like an endless army. Nature would always envelop these beautiful lands, making its presence known in the leaves and branches that intertwined to form its multitude. Among those trees the animals hid; rabbits that darted into its depths when danger flickered forth; delicately painted deer that nibbled the grass among the roots; and wolves that hunted in pack, sleek footed and cunning.

It was because of those wolves that Metrius now stood here so high up, a sling bag held by a strap over his shoulder and staff held in his other hand. It was cold up here, on the fields above the village, but he never complained. The sight was so awesome that every day was breathtaking, and tomorrow he would gaze upon it once again.

*

If you’re interested in why this story is both a mix of Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, its actually set during the formation of Rome. There’s one theory (though its not likely to be true) that Rome was formed from a Greek colony. I played on this to design the background to my story (seen more in the later parts of the story). If you want to read some of my other stories, you can go to Hywel’s library.

The picture is taken from https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/wp20121101/the-shepherd/

Metrius

February 21, 2018

Zues'_ThroneBack at the start of this blog (actually the second time I started it) I wrote about my latest book, Demon Rising. After finishing a non-fiction, Russian Autocracy, I’m back to writing the sequel and another non-fiction about World War I. Problem is, at this time of year I have no time for writing! With all the tutoring and teaching its not until May or June (:’-() that I can chug into the blog posts and story writing again…

My answer is to chuck out a 500 word at a time story I wrote once upon a time. I created part of it for a short story competition and although I didn’t win I liked it. If I have the time I’ll paste in a bit every now and again. See what you think.

***

He leaned back in his throne, a grand ornately carved structure that served to emphasize his position and stature. Its high back made his presence all the more looming as he looked down upon those around him and his hands sat on the broad arm rests as he judged those before him.

Imposing himself, those who looked at him were immediately struck with awe. This was the way it had always been and this was the way it always should be. Muscular in form, chest oiled so that it gleamed in the sun’s light, his torso gave the impression that he was young and fit. Despite this, there was a timeless age in his face. A flowing beard was now painted grey and his face had creases that showed his time on Earth. For those who were strong or foolish enough to look into his face, they were drawn into cold eyes that showed endless wisdom. They seemed to suck everything from the soul so that nothing could be hidden and this would break most humans.

This was no human before him. Her beauty was beyond any that a human could be born with, captivating to look at and hypnotic in motion. Her hair was long and dark, flowing in a cascade over bare shoulders and perfectly tanned skin. Any man or woman would crave to even touch that flesh, caress her faultlessness. Naked to the waste, her slight breasts seemed only to complete the magic that seemed to form this absorbing figure.

In her arms she cradled a soft white dove, brushing her hand over the soft feathers to make it still. It seemed at ease in her gently grasp, pleasured by the feel of her fingers constant petting. Her eyes studied the bird, at peace with the harmony that was emitted between the two, and then she looked up at the throne.

“Father, there is change coming.”

Zeus stared down at Aphrodite, absorbing the words that she spoke. They had conversed for several hours now and he had been waiting for the moment she would approach the matter. She was young and naïve, new to the world.

“There is always change.” His words were cold, without emotion.

She looked up at him, perhaps a flare of annoyance in her juvenile glare, and then it sank away into the loving gaze that she always bore. Pacing softly along the paved floor, her bare feet padded across its surface whilst the cloth draped around her waist flowed across the ground behind her.

“We shall reform.”

Zeus nodded, “We always reform. It is the way the world works.”

A frown creased her brow, such a strange look on the angelic grace that she was. Sometimes he wondered how his child could be so completely flawless, such was the extent of her beauty, but then she represented everything of adoration and beauty to those who gave birth to them. It only showed how much love there was in the world below. He followed his daughter’s path, waiting for the argument that she would undoubtedly put before him.

***

If you do want to find out about my books, go to http://www.hywelgriffiths.co.uk and into the writing section. There’s a library there with a couple of my short stories, Demon Rising and Russian Autocracy. Any comments are always welcome!

The picture is taken from http://greekmythology.wikia.com/wiki/Thrones_of_the_Gods