‘You will not get to meet your friend, the ore merchant,’ said Theron. ‘He came by two days ago and left this for you.’

He reached under the table and produced an article, about twice the size of a fist, wrapped in pigskin hide.

Alastor loosened the knots and found a heavy rock: a lodestone. There was a map scratched on the inside of the parchment.

‘Your friend said to tell you, and he showed great regret, that he cannot supply metal ores, not this year, not ever,’ said Theron.

‘Did he say more, where he was going?’ asked Alastor.

‘No, but he looked feeble, as if afflicted by some cursed illness. He undertook the journey to give you that which you hold in your hands,’ said Theron. ‘He said something about making amends for disappointing you.’

Alastor considered the lodestone and then the map. The tale his merchant friend had once related, came back.

‘That’s right,’ said Theron, having read Alastor’s expression. ‘He said you’ll know what needs to be done.’

Then, having reached a decision, Alastor gulped his drink and sat down at a low table while Theron prepared a meal of roast pork, barley bread, figs and wine.

Alastor’s room, smelling of smoked timber and leather, was small, about the width of outstretched hands, and the length of a man’s height and a half. A window, with a shutter to keep out the weather or a tossed torch, sat high on one wall. And in a night such as this, the shuttered window will also keep out the wolves. A second window, this on the slanting roof, let in the moonlight, though the moon itself was not in his line of sight. An arrangement of ropes and pulleys allowed him to draw a sliding door over the opening but, with the window shuttered, Alastor decided to keep the roof window open.

The furnishing was Spartan: a wooden pallet for bed, and by its head, a wicker basket and wooden chest for storage. An oil lamp, made of pottery clay, rested on the wooden chest which also served as a stool. There was also a ewer of water and a small basin. He decided against lighting the oil lamp, for the moonlight sufficed and, moreover, he did not relish a smoky room.

Alastor dropped his sturdy wooden staff on the brackets set on both sides of the door, barring it from the inside. He removed his baldric and sword; the labrys, his trusty double-headed axe; and, his heavy waist belt. Rolling his shoulders and twisting his neck, he eased off the numbness and felt light and comfortable.

He pulled out a himation from his roll, for use as a cover when the night turned cold, and patted and straightened a bag to serve as a pillow. Dressed only in tunic, he stretched out on the bed. Remembering something, he sighed and bent his knees to his chest, and undid and kicked off the sandals.

‘Ah!’ He moved his toes and relished the cool air soothing his soles. Suddenly, tiredness sneaked up and dragged him into sleep.

*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018 ***

Context: Just a little peek into how the ancient Greeks (might have) lived.

Note: I shall borrow a word, phrase or the theme from your comment—a maximum of five primary comments or until the next post, whichever the sooner—and develop this story via my replies. Thank you for your assistance.



  1. I so enjoyed the detail of his room. You really took us there with your detailed and all relevant description. The removal of the sandals is a great human touch, adding to how far Alastor has come.

    1. ‘Yes, it’s the latter that is more worrying,’ said Alastor. ‘Your courtyard must have taken much doing.’ He busied himself, arranging his bags.

      Theron had driven small broken stones into the earth and hardened the surface of the courtyard. When it rained, it will leave behind less mud, making the place more welcoming.

      ‘That kept me busy on quieter days and I hope to complete the stone work before the rains,’ replied Theron, as he poured wine into a carrying skin. ‘There you go.’ And he gave Alastor the lunch bundle.

      Thank you, Sarah,

      Glad you enjoyed the story. That removal of the sandals was also a hint regarding how fit and flexible his body.


  2. I’ve always like the roof window usually found in the attic room. You get to enjoy the stars at night and the warm of the sun during the day. You made a spartan room looks better.

    I am enjoying this story so much. Here’s how I figure it will go :
    “Not wanting to endanger Theron’s life, Alastor plans to set out with the map and lodestone. This has to be his own pursuit. If his merchant friend’s tale is true, whatever is hidden will perhaps bring supernatural strength to his trade, but is there a price to pay for?”

    1. The two men watched the pigeon as it fluttered into the brisk air of the morning, shrunk into a speck and pinched out.

      ‘It’s not my business,’ said Theron, ‘but that lodestone and map promise dark adventure perhaps. Watch your back, my friend.’

      ‘Thank you, my friend, Theron,’ said Alastor and stood up.

      ‘What, leaving already?’

      ‘Yes, I’ll take my leave now, before your guests awaken,’ said Alastor. ‘Didn’t reckon on making a journey beyond your place. But looks like I’m left with little choice in the matter.’

      Theron stood up too. He was not a tall man but built strong from living a hard life. ‘I’ll pack some bread and wine for you, and olives and figs too.’

      ‘That will do fine, and thank you, my friend.’

      ‘You keep your eyes and ears sharp, for wolves,’ said Theron, ‘for both the four and two legged varieties.’

      Hello Windy,

      Thank you for your suggestion. A world of myths? Hmmm. We shall see what Alastor encounters. 🙂

      Wishing you an enjoyable weekend,

  3. Very nice. I guess you follow the lodestone. You made me look up about lodestones. Certainly the word itself conjures up a lot of associations and stories. Einstein said that he received a compass as a gift from father when he was five or six, and pondered what was making it move.

    1. The ‘lad’, who worked in the stable brought Iola in her cage to Alastor.

      ‘She is fed and watered, sir,’ said the lad. ‘And so are your mules.’

      Alastor, who was seated at breakfast, broke a lump of bread for the boy. But he hesitated and studied his master, Theron.

      ‘Go on, I’ll pay for it,’ said Alastor, and he thrust the bread to the boy.

      Theron, his face soft, nodded and the boy took the bread, smiled and hurried away.

      ‘He’s a good lad,’ said Alastor, repeating that which Theron always said about the boy.

      ‘Yes, he’s a good lad,’ said Theron, as he joined Alastor at the table. ‘The lodestone holds much promise but also dangers.’

      Alastor nodded as he wrote a message on a tiny scroll of parchment. He attached it to Iola’s leg and released the homing pigeon. If there were wolves about, one never knew how far they would range. It was best to alert his friend, Neleos, and his mother.

      Hello Stephen,

      That’s what I like about reading stories too. They remind one of words forgotten and refreshes our store of memory. The very word lodestone conjures up possibilities for The Metalsmith—my working title for this story.

      Thank you for your comment, as it helped progress this story,

    1. Alastor completed his ablutions and stepped out, and found Theron sweeping the courtyard. They exchanged greetings.

      ‘Breakfast over there,’ said Theron. He pointed to a bowl, containing several lumps of barley bread, and a cask of wine on a table set beside the still smouldering roast pit.

      Alastor placed his weapons on a table and went about rearranging the furniture. He also helped stack up some of the foldable chairs. There were a couple of men, drunk, snoring at the low tables but otherwise the place was none the worse after the night’s carousing.

      ‘You might win some business,’ said Theron. ‘Many here are farmers and with some coin too. And you know how this kind have a natural affinity for weapons of war. So they can hang a sword or labrys on their walls and spin tales of battles they fought in their minds. Though the only battles they end up fighting will be with their wives for having spent the seed money.’

      Alastor smirked and continued arranging the furniture.

      Hello Willow dear,

      Most travellers carried some weapons for self-defence and also to hunt and cook while on the road. In the case of Alastor, a metalsmith, the weapons also served as samples to gain new business.

      Recall in an earlier reply, he told Sabas: ‘I can fashion a blade for you in exchange for coin.’

      Trust my reply addressed your question.

      Thank you,

    1. Alastor woke suddenly but remained still, with his eyes closed. His senses pricked as he reacquainted himself to the sounds and smells of his surroundings. Though a townsman, not for him the lazy habit of stretching and turning in bed. Such behaviour could lead to instant attacks, especially in the open, since one never knew what or who was about, stalking.

      It all returned within a breath: the smell of smoked timber and the feel of the uncomfortable but familiar bed. A soft rustle, a scrapping sound, reached his ears. It was rhythmic, distant, outside his door. Man made. Theron, like him, was an early riser.

      He opened his eyes. The skylight hinted of dawn. In a flash, he was up and on his feet.

      Thank you, Jane,

      Much appreciate your observation.

      As a published author yourself, you know the challenge—revealing backstory without making it look like info-dumping.

      Have a great weekend ahead,

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