Disclaimer: This is a love story and an adventure, a modern take on The Odyssey, set in a mythological past where all of the world’s pantheons coexist. It is my first full-length novel, that I wrote in high school, circa 1993.
The Nomad represents a much younger and less experienced Nick Alimonos, but also, a time when I was more passionate, confident, and brash. If you can get past the warts, I think you’ll find plenty to enjoy. Thank You.
Any man who would have said to me those words, would I have taken his life. But I could not bring myself to be angry with the King. Though he now despised me, and would never see me again, I still thought of him as my friend, my only friend. At times, I even wished to call him father, for that is what he would be to me, if he had granted the wish I so deeply desired. But rather than be filled with spite, I turned unto myself and hated what I was. I am a god, worshipped by multitudes, and yet, I would rather wish to be a pauper or a mortal servant. Though I would not live forever, nor dwell among the gods on Mount Olympus, nor seduce so many into my bed—I would have sacrificed everything to be but near her, not as a husband or a lover, but as a servant, one who could enter the palace of the King and not be shunned, if only to see my beloved Seline.
Very slowly did I return to my home. As quickly as I had journeyed to the king’s palace, did I now ride Thunderfoot, at merely a trod. I dirtied my hands in the dust of the white stone, of the mountain that I climbed. When I reached the top of the cliff, I was tired, though it was a thing I had never known before. My muscles sagged and my massive arms lay limp and dead like from my shoulders. My head bowed low, so that, I could dwell only on the earth. For I could not bring myself to look up into the heavens, in fear of seeing that which made me. Lowly was I, lowly to live not upon a towering mountain, but within the dirt, like the worms and the bugs. Finally, I collapsed upon my knees, not in weariness but in prayer. I, then, looked up into the sky, up into the sun, and did cry out and raise my hands unto heaven. And the white clouds did close in and encircle the sun and form an image. I could see a beard as white as snow and two eyes blazing with blinding light. Then, did I cry my father’s name, “ Z O R !! “ And his name was carried out all across the land, through every mountain, off every stone, echoing in the ears of every nymph and god of nature. But, he did not answer me.
Several days passed and I lived atop a boulder in the mountain. I made myself fire and hunted for food. But I did not return to my palace. I did not feel worthy enough to live there.
Then, on one hot day, as I was hiking through the mountains, I heard a scream. At once, I rushed to the sound of the voice. And as I neared closer, I heard that it was the voice of a woman. Then, I began running, running until I heard the voice calling for help directly below me. I looked down over a broken ledge and saw a string of blonde hair blowing in the wind and a pair of delicate hands clinging desperately to the rock.
“Seline!” I called, reaching out my hand. She looked up at me, her fear stricken countenance subsiding to a happy smile. “Dynotus, I knew you would save me!” she said.
“I have not saved you yet, my dear. Reach out your hand so that I may catch it!”
“I can’t! I can’t hold on with one hand!” she screamed back.
I stretched to grab her as best I could, but I could not reach her. Determined to find another way, I yelled, “hold on!”
“Please, hurry! I don’t think I can hold on much longer!”
Desperate, I leaped over the edge of the cliff and caught myself upon the slight protrusions of the rock wall. I then grabbed her by the waist and with all my might, pushed her up over the edge, knowing it would cause my fall. Seline tumbled to safety. I dropped like a stone. When she gained her senses, she looked over and screamed, “Dynotus! NOOOO!!”
Luckily, I landed on a small ledge about fifty feet below. Only my godly might saved me from death. Yet, still, I believed that I had broken a rib. As I lay unable to stand, I saw Seline running and reaching her hands toward me. We embraced, and I found her in my arms again. “Dynotus, why, why didn’t you fly?” she said, and looked at me, confused.
“Fly? I cannot fly,” I replied.
“But. . .but you are a god, are you not?” she asked.
“No, I have told you countless times. I am only a man. I am not even. . . .not even a strong man. Even now, I cannot bear to be without you.”
“Nor can I,” she said.
“You. . .you came to find me?” I asked in amazement.
“The King was cruel and harsh to you. I overheard what things he said. I felt so horrible, but there was no way that I could convince him that your feelings for me were true. I even showed him the letter that you wrote to me, but he thought nothing of it and tore it up!”
“You heard what he said of me? Than you must think of me as an animal.”
“No, no, I do not. I don’t care what you did or have done in your past. What matters is that we be together.”
“But. . .how did you get here?” I asked.
“At night, when the guards were asleep, I crept out of my window and rode my horse to this mountain. It was the highest one, and it was here that I knew I would find you.”
“But why, Seline? You should not be here. Your father will miss you and I cannot love you the way I desire.”
She began to press herself in my arms, resting her head on my chest and gently caressing her fingers against my worn, rough face, “but why? Do you not want me? Do you not love me?”
I pushed her away, “NO! You cannot understand the way I feel for you- the way. . . .the way I love you.”
She tried to coerce me again, “show me!” she said.
I turned away. “I already have. It is not in the flesh and so, you have not seen it. You are blind to it. And I cannot take you. . .I will not take you like a whore. If I could be. . . .if I could be your husband. But it is law. I cannot marry you without your father’s permission.”
“Why. . .why are you crying? Men. . .men don’t cry,” she said softly.
I touched her cheek, “this one does. Tonight, you may rest here. But in the morning, I will take you back to the King.”
That night, I made a fire and hunted us something to eat. While we sat around the flame, under the starry sky, Seline and I began to talk. “What’s it like being a god?” she asked.
“It’s not so different than being a man. Except. . .it’s very lonely.”
“Isn’t wonderful, to be able to lift anything and be stabbed by knives and things and not be killed?”
I lifted my hand in the air and let a bolt of lightning come down from the sky. “And what would I lift? If I could live forever, what would I do?”
“Do you. . .do you get bored, up here?” she asked.
“Yes, but tell me, what’s it like being a princess?”
“I think. . .I think it’s very awful. My father. . .he locks me in my room and doesn’t let me go out. He’s afraid that I’ll get pregnant with some boy or that I’ll be raped or something. I can’t go anywhere or do anything, without mobs of people wanting to look at you and kiss you and fondle you, and tell you how pretty you are and how they would like to live in the palace. And I have no friends. So many say they are my friends, but they don’t really care about me. They don’t see the person inside. All they see and all they care of is my father’s wealth. Of course everyone wants to marry me, I’m the princess!”
“I understand how you feel. It’s horrible that your father locks you in. Such a beautiful creature should not be kept locked up. She should be free to roam wild, to do what she wants and go where she pleases. I hope that the person you marry gives you greater freedom than your father.”
Seline frowned, and said quietly, “no. I fear whoever I will marry. The men below are not like you. They are not gentle and kind. They don’t think of women as people, but as pieces of meat, meat to be enjoyed. And when they are bored of you, they keep you to do work. My husband will marry me for my riches, and then force me into cooking and cleaning and staying home. If he doesn’t like what food I serve or if the palace is unclean, he will beat me.”
“No. . .don’t say such things.”
“It’s true. I know. All the wives I’ve known get beaten. Astymeloisa, the maid servant who lives in the palace, has a husband who is in the army. Every night he comes home late, after whoring around with other women, and then he is drunk and beats her. I find her every day with new bruises and scars, but she says they are nothing, that she hit her head on a table by accident. But I know better. Rather would I die than be married to any man. Any man, that is, but you.”
“I’m sorry. . . I wish that I could do something.”
“Please, let’s change the subject.”
“What should we talk about?”
“Tell me anything. Just speak to me.”
“You know, in the light of the fire, your eyes sparkle like the stars.” Seline looked up, brushing her hair, and said, “tell me about the stars.”
I pointed up to three stars that were aligned in the heavens and asked, “do you see those three? Those stars are really a belt, and if you look around them, you can see the shape of a person, can you not?”
“Yes! . .I never noticed that before.”
“Well, that is Orion. He was a great hunter. And he was very handsome.
One day, while he was out hunting with his pack of dogs, he was seen by the Goddess of the Hunt, Artemia. Though Artemia is a devout virgin, she fell in love with him. However, Apollo, the brother of Artemia, became jealous of Orion. And so, Apollo schemed to be rid of him.
One day, when Artemia was swimming out in the ocean, Apollo came to her and challenged her hunting skill, saying that she was unable to shoot a far off bird that flew over the water, with her bow and arrow. Well, Artemia became very angry, and she took her bow and did shoot down the bird. However, as she approached closer to see what she had shot down, she realized that the bird she had killed was not a bird at all, but in fact, that it was her loved one, Orion. Well, when mighty Zeus, God of the Heavens, saw how grief stricken she had become, he came down to earth to take Orion’s body, putting him in the sky to remain forever as a constellation.”
After telling the tale, I looked and saw that Seline had fallen fast asleep. I shivered, feeling a gust of cold wind come in from the West. I stood up and looked for something warm that could be used as a blanket. It was then that I found my horse, Thunderfoot, and saw that on his back he wore a sheep skin saddle. And so, I took the sheep skin saddle from him and walking over to where Seline slept, did drop the blanket over her, whispering, “good night, sweet princess.” Making sure she was tucked in tight, I crawled to a nearby boulder, trying as best I could to keep myself warm.
I woke early the next morning. I didn’t sleep well; for I was plagued with strange nightmares. I fought the demi-god, Phobos, and lost.
Placing Seline on Thunderfoot, I began making my way down the mountain toward the King. Then, as we were descending, Seline cried out, saying, “what is that!?”
I looked to where she was pointing, seeing down below, at the base of the mountain, a swarm of marching men. “It is the King!” I cried.
Seline looked at me, terrified, “he brought the entire army!”
I separated from her, “stay here, I’ll handle this.”
“No, I can tell them to stop. It’s me that he wants. Let me go alone, so that they do not hurt you.”
“It doesn’t matter. The King thinks I have stolen you, and for such a crime, he will not let me live. I must face him, or forever run and be in hiding.”
I went down to meet the army. The soldiers stopped in front of me, armed with swords and shields and wearing helmets. One of them stepped forward and said, “where have you hidden the princess?”
“She is safe. I will return her to the King if you do not attack me.” “Silence, swine! You are in no position to make demands. We shall find the princess and then slaughter you!”
“Do you know who I am!? I am a god! I, in fact, have not kidnapped the princess. But, if you wish to meet your fate, step closer.”
“Ha! you are no more a god than I. You are but a man who knows nothing but to rape and force women, for you could never know love like a man with a wife, like I, with my Astymeloisa.”
“Bastard! Die!” I screamed, and thrust my sword through his gut. He dropped over dead. When the other soldiers saw what happened, without having heard what was spoken, they rushed in and attacked, thinking that I had initiated the battle through a blatant and impudent act of violence. Without thought, I became a raving mad man, rushing into battle with my bloody sword. The army fell around me and swung their weapons to strike me dead. I blocked and parried their futile blows and struck back with such force, that no shield, sword or helm could save their lives. I created a circle of death, and any who came within striking distance of me did I slay. All at once, they charged toward me, but I hacked them down like long stemmed weeds, cutting through and killing three or four with each blow. Others tried to stab me through the back, but I was too fast for them and too conscious of my surroundings. Using the skills I had learned in the Far East, I did fight with both hands and both feet. Those behind me felt the force of my kicking blows, which shattered their armor and broke their bones. Those in front of me felt the cutting edge of my swirling blade. Those beside me felt my fists of rage. And though I was great in might, their numbers overwhelmed me, and soon, I began to feel the slings and gashes of many blades cut into me, those which I did not see or could not catch. After dropping hordes of men, I grew weary at my blood loss, and fell back in retreat. As my blood cooled and my savage madness left me, I realized, that, I was fighting Greek soldiers, the same people who I had sworn to protect. Then, I felt my weakness, and did run to find my horse.
I reached, Thunderfoot, finding Seline sitting upon him. She looked at me in shock, and upon seeing her, did I lose all my strength and drop to the ground. Seline fell to my side, so that her long blonde hair dipped into my blood. “Oh, God! Dynotus, you’re. . .you’re dying!”
I reached up to touch her face, already seeing the tears welling in her eyes. “It’s all my fault. I shouldn’t have fallen in love. God’s do not fall in love the way I fell in love with you.”
“But. . .they hurt you. They made you bleed. You are not a god. You are a man.
When you climbed upon the ledge to save me, you risked your life. You could have died. Why did you do that? Why did you risk your life for me, if you knew that you could not even marry me?”
“I would give my life for you. This is what I’d do, this is how I love you.”
“Now, I understand. I know now what you feel for me.”
“I wish that I could live, just to be with you. But it is better to die, if I am to live without you.”
“But you won’t die. Your wounds are not that severe.”
“No, but the rest of the Greek army is coming and they come to kill me.”
“Can’t you run?” she asked.
“No, I cannot run forever.”
“Run, run and come back to fight another day.”
“I cannot fight the Greek army. I am and will always be Greek, and I have sworn my life to protect the Greek people. I cannot fight my own people. It would be a sin to bear far worse than any simple death.”
“No! I will not let them harm you!” she cried.
When Seline turned around, she saw a legion of men standing before her. One of the soldiers approached, and taking off his helmet, bowed and said, “princess, thank Zeus that you are safe.”
“Get away! Do not harm this man!”
“But, princess, he raped and kidnapped you!”
“He did not kidnap me! I came here on my own. Nor did he ever lay a finger on me. He is the kindest, most loving soul I have ever known. You shall not touch him!”
The soldier lifted his sword, “he may have not kidnapped you or raped you, but he did kill Astymeloisa’s husband and many other good men. He must be put to death!”
“Astymeloisa’s husband deserved it, the bastard! And well, as for the other men, they’re all bastards too!”
“Move aside, princess!” he ordered.
“No! I will not! If you want to kill him, your sword will have to go through me!”
“Please, Seline, do not endanger yourself,” I said.
She knelt down beside me, “but. . .but I love you.”
And her tears washed away my wounds and cleaned my bloody scars and I said, “all right. For you, I will run.”
I stood and pointed my sword at the leader of the army. “Do you wish to fight again!? Maybe your men will take me down, but I shall take more with me, and surely you shall not survive. Order them back, or I will kill you!”
He looked down at the sharpness of my magic blade and said, “all right. Give us the princess and you can go.”
“Only under one condition,” I replied.
Both Seline and the soldier looked at me in surprise, “what condition?” he asked.
“You must swear. You must make an oath that you will do what I ask. Do you swear?”
“You must promise to let her be free, to go where she wants, when she wants, and to never keep her locked in her room again. Also, when she gets married, it will be your responsibility to be sure that she is never beaten by her husband, and if she is, I will come find you and kill you myself.”
Suddenly, a voice called from the distance, “no need for that!”
The three of us turned. “Father!” Seline proclaimed.
“King!” said the soldier and bowed.
“Demaratus! It is good that you are here, so that I may give these demands to you myself.”
The King leaped off his horse and everyone, save for Seline and myself, knelt and bowed. “There will be no need for these demands, if you can carry them out yourself.”
“Whatever do you mean?” I asked.
“I have decided that you may marry my daughter, if, you bring back to me, to be used as a wedding wreath, the Crown of Kirce.”
Then, I realized that the King, indeed, wished me dead. For he still believed me to have kidnapped his daughter, and feared that, if I were to escape alive, would return to kidnap her again. Thus, he wished me to find the Crown of Kirce, an artifact almost impossible to find, every hero having tried also having died, hoping that I, too, would seek it and not return. And though I knew that I could run and never be caught, I loved Seline so much, that I was willing to gamble this small chance with my life, in the hope of marriage. First, however, I had to be sure that the King would keep his word.
“And how do I know that you will not lie, as you did the night of the banquet, and not give your blessing?”
“I will swear by the river, Styx, that if you bring me the Crown of Kirce, my daughter shall I give to thee in marriage.”
“None may break that oath, even gods, and not be damned for all eternity. Very well, I shall accept your offer. I will search and find the Crown of Kirce, and return to be wed to Seline.”
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I find this quite painful to read, and I’ve needed a great deal of willpower to resist improving it. So much of it is wordy, melodramatic, or just plain awkward (reversing the order of subject/verb for verb/subject). I have thought about revising it, but my time and energy are limited, and much better spent on a new novel. Even if I were to try, to get this book into a shape I would be happy with, I’d have to throw the whole thing in the trash and start from scratch. That’s what I did in 2004 with “The Dark Age of Enya,” and it took me 9 years. I certainly don’t want to waste another decade on “The Nomad.” It was a product of its time, and somehow, to my surprise, I have people (5 bloggers so far) actually enjoying it. Wow. But I feel that I cannot stress this enough: I wrote this 23 years ago, and there’s a heck of a lot you can learn in 23 years!