Alastor took the hill road which went around the town of Attica. The byway was a narrow path, one that added two hours to his journey.

He had to avoid the town, for there were many enemies there, led by the resident blacksmith and his confederates. What had started off as rivalry between two tradesmen had ended in a flurry of fisticuffs.

Alastor, though built like a bull, was a retiring sort of a fellow. After that fight, he decided to take his mother, his only family, to a nearby village. The gods smiled upon him. Without the need to pay local gangs, as was the lot of tradesmen in Attica, Alastor levied lower prices for his services and that channelled a ready stream of custom to his iron works. Over the years, the village, an eclectic collection of people who had fallen foul with the overt and covert powers in Attica, steadily flourished and grew.

The village did not have a name, and travellers started referring to it as ‘Atticides’ and that aroused the ire of the residents of the town. But for now, the simmering pot had not overflowed.

Alastor plodded away the hours and by the second watch, with the moon at its zenith, he was several paces from the peak of the hill when a chilling call of the wild reached his ears.

Wolves!

*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2017 ***

Context: In ancient days, most settlements took root near sources of water, food and natural resources such as mines and forests—and terrain that afforded natural defence. Others grew from wayfarers’ stations—along trade routes and border posts. Outcasts, mostly criminals, also founded settlements but some were people fleeing persecution.

Note: A maximum of five readers’ comments allowed or until the next post, whichever the sooner. Thank you.

***

9 comments

  1. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could trace our roots back to those kind of settlements Eric. On my Mother’s side we can only go back in history to 1590, but on my Father‘s side only 1690 due to a fire that destroyed part of London. One of the many! lol. I guess beyond those dates you get into the area of one names so it does make it hard to find records to identify ancestors unless you happen to be royalty. lol

    1. He recalled his father’s words: ‘We will all die one day. What matters is, the manner of our departure.’

      Alastor did not fear wolves, and neither did he hate them. But if they came for him, he will fight them to the death, just as his father had gone down fighting that bear many years ago.

      It also did not bother Alastor, that he had no woman to call his wife, and no son to carry his name. There was no lineage to speak of, for a man with one name.

      ‘Strange,’ he thought, ‘the things that fill a man’s mind, when he faces danger, and death.’ He gripped the axe in one hand, and the kopis in the other, and planted his feet wide and knees slightly bent.

      Hello Ian,
      Wow! You can trace your lineage back to 1590 and 1690 – that’s fantastic. You probably belong to a select group of people.
      Most of my family records were lost in the Japanese War. The family history is kinda a clean slate.
      All good wishes for the season, and Merry Christmas,
      Eric

  2. Usually I prefer to make an alternative route if I can avoid a conflict. There is a Chinese saying:
    nǐ zǒu nǐ de Yáng Guān dào , wǒ guò wǒ de dú mù qiáo
    you hit the high road, I’ll cross the log bridge
    you take the easy way, I’ll follow the hard path

    I can see your story is developing on its own and I enjoy reading it.

    Happy Christmas, Eric, to you and your family.

    1. Alastor had taken the hill road to avoid human conflict and did not regret this decision. He would rather be killed by wolves than kicked by men. He picked up the pigeon cage and Iola cooed.

      He wondered whether he should release the pigeon, allow her to fly off before it was too late.

      And his mules? The wolf pack was probably after them. One mule would keep the pack nourished for days.

      Another long drawn out howl rendered the night air, shocking his mules to whimper and stomp their hooves.

      Alastor could not tell where the sound came from, and the echoes added to his confusion. But there was only one path and it led to the rock behind which he had taken refuge.

      Hello Windy,
      Thank you for your presence.
      Wise Chinese saying that.
      Merry Christmas to you and loved ones too,
      Eric

  3. Just got into the story and I was already at the end…
    …I’m amazed, though, how you visualised the scenery with a few words in my head.
    Excellent.

    1. ‘Did I imagine that? Was it the wind?’ wondered Alastor. There had not been a wolf sighting in these parts for aeons.

      Thoughts raced through his head as Alastor gathered his mules behind a boulder. A jutting wall of stone covered his back and a keen drop protected his left. If there were wolves about and they had caught his scent, the attack would have to come from the front or the narrow crevice to his right.

      His sword was of little use in the confines. But thanks to the gods, he had a short-handled axe in his mule pack. And a kopis.

      When his mother insisted he take the curved blade with him, he had remarked, ‘It adds weight to the baggage and I’m no butcher out to part a carcass’. But now, he was glad the old woman had insisted.

      Hello, Stephen,
      That’s a welcomed observation. Much appreciate it.
      All good wishes for the weekend. And have one on me 🙂
      Eric
      P/s. I added the italics to your comment. Those were the words I borrowed to fashion my reply/story continuation.

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