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, which I wrote in high school circa 1993.
The Nomad represents a much younger and less experienced Nick Alimonos, but also, a writer who was more passionate, confident, and brash. If you can get past all of the warts (the wordiness, archaic language, melodrama, and awkward sentence structure) I think you’ll find a fun and fascinating story to enjoy. Thank You.
I traveled great distances and through many lands to find the crown. So many adventures had I experienced on my journey, that the quest to find the crown could make yet another story all its own. But those encounters are of no importance to my tale. I do recall, however, the glorious day I returned triumphant. I spoke with many fishermen on the whereabouts of the island, where the wicked queen and sorceress, Kirce, once dwelled. Most of whom I spoke with told me they knew not of such a place. Then, I met a blind poet who told me of an odyssey. He spoke of ancient times, back during the war against Troy. He told me of a man who had angered the god, Poseidon, and had caused him to wander the Great Sea for twenty years before finding his way home to Thaki. And so, I went to the city of Thaki, and found that this man had long been dead. However, his great grand children knew of Kirce, and of how to find her. They told me to go to the edge of the river, Akaron, and gave me two things they said I would need. One was a conch shell and the other was a pair of two gold coins called obol.
When I arrived at the river, I found it surrounded by a thick fog. Nothing could be seen in any direction. Looking at the ground, I could tell that no life remained. And I wondered, where would I find a boat? Where did the river lead?
Finally, I decided to blow on the conch. To my surprise, the shell made a loud noise, like a horn. I waited several minutes and saw a ferry boat come crossing by. The boatman held a long oar and was shrouded in a black cloak which masked his face like a veil of mourning.
I stepped into the boat and asked if I could be taken to see Kirce. The boatman did not reply, but began to row as if he had heard and understood my request. After a long time sitting, I grew weary, surprised the boatman knew where he was going, wondering with amazement why the thick cloud neither lifted nor ended. I knelt over to drink of the water in thirst, but felt a cold, bony hand pull me back. I assumed the water was not safe to drink and said nothing of the matter.
After a long period, the boat came to a stop near similar, lifeless soil. As I stepped out, the ferryman extended his hand, and, to my terror, I turned to look into the face of death. Now, I understood the mystery of the fog and of the conch shell. I had summoned the ferrymen of death, who had taken me to find a dead woman. And the gold coins were for his payment.
After giving him the obol, I stepped on to the island where the fog cleared, seeing it was midnight.
Though I had journeyed through the Underworld, the island was not of the Underworld. It seemed as though Kirce had died, but somehow—through dark magic—had avoided Hades. Instead, she seemed to have brought Hades to her. The only difference, which I could tell, is that the guardian dog, Cerberes, was not there, nor were the Gates of Thanatos. Yet, the soul of Kirce still dwelled on the island, and only Charon had known to find her. For the island was shrouded in fog, and only the lost at sea could find their way to it.
I tread through muddy ground until I reached a paved clearing. The path led to a dark temple. On each side of the road, sculpted gorgons guarded the entrance, illuminated by distant torch light. I walked between rows of demonic faces and through an archway to a pair of double doors. The walls were lined by centuries of dust and mold. In the corner of the archway did I see many cobwebs. Sitting in the center of a large sewn web, a black widow spider made her nest. I took one of the torches from the wall and entered the temple.
Even with the torch light, it was difficult to see. From room to room, no light could penetrate the darkness.
The temple was cold and unfeeling. It appeared that no living breath had graced its halls in a hundred years or more. Exploring further, I discovered a hallway filled with candles. Walking by, each candle lit itself.
The candles led me to a room dug one foot beneath the rest of the temple. Entering it, I found myself standing in mud. Then, I heard a strange noise, and turning to look against the wall, found numerous pigs. Most of them were dead, but, one moved toward me. Then, the pig spoke, with a voice no different than a man’s.
“Turn back!” the pig said. “Lest ye suffer the fate that my crewman and I have befallen!”
“I am Dynotus, Son of Zor. I seek to find the queen, Kirce,” I answered him.
“She is here, but you do not want to find her. Turn back or become like one of us!”
At first, I considered the pig’s warning. But it was not enough to convince me to leave. I did not think my fate was to end up a pig. I knew my destiny to hold greater things, and so I marched on.
After a lengthy search, I found another room. There was a pentagram etched into the floor and candle stands placed at each point. Beside the symbol, did I discover a book case. Lifting one of the books, it crumbled to dust. Finally, I discovered, high on a pedestal, the queen’s throne. As I stepped up to it, I found, to my horror, the skeletal remains of Kirce. Apparently, she had died alone, sitting on her throne, none having the decency to bury her. It was no wonder her soul had never reached Hades. She had died without burial, a fate far worse than death. Then, the thought occurred to me, that, perhaps, I could be the one to do her the honor. But when I touched her bones, they, too, turned to dust. With that, I saw a golden crown fall from her head and come crashing to the floor. Taking the Crown of Kirce in my hands, I felt triumphant. However, as I began making my way back to the temple doors, a horrifying thought occurred to me. I wondered, that with everything in the temple seeming so ancient, with the books and the remains of Kirce having turned to dust, how was it that the pigs in that one room, who had warned me about being transformed, were not only still intact, but still alive? It didn’t make sense.
As I made my way through the passage to the double door, I heard an echoey voice coming from all directions. A cold chill ran down my spine, as the name, “Dynotus,” rang throughout the temple. I halted, swinging my torch up defensively. Then, I saw a beautiful young woman descend a staircase, a staircase I knew not was there. She had raven black hair and black painted eyes, and her lips were painted as black as her robes. She pointed a finger at me, smiled, and glided over to where I stood as if she had no feet. “What woman are you?” I asked in bewilderment.
She raised her hand, letting her sleeve slide down her arm to her shoulders, revealing a gold bracelet like a serpent coiled around her wrist. She brushed a long nail against my neck and whispered, “I see your wicked thoughts, oh handsome one. What would you have me do to you?”
I grabbed her arms and pushed her away, “I have no thoughts for a woman such as yourself!”
She receded and spoke in a loud mocking tone, “am I not beautiful, Dynotus?”
“I will not be seduced by a dead woman! You appear beautiful, but your flesh is cold and icy.”
“Let that not deter you from my pleasures. Kiss my lips and let your blood warm me.”
“Rather would I kiss the lips of a serpent! For I bet a serpent hath less poison in them.”
“Come now, Dynotus,. . . .look into my eyes and turn me away if you do not desire me.”
And I did look into her eyes, falling spellbound. Within them, I found the erotic wiles of a whore. I embraced and kissed her, and fantasized of our eternal love making, all the while, strange voices pounded my head.
Kirce raked her nails against my bare skin, scratching my back, and soon, I felt myself losing blood. I looked to see a pool of it around my feet, with Kirce kneeling to my waist to drink from my thigh. A deep sense of bliss came over me as the black witch sated her nefarious appetite. Then, I saw my reflection in the Crown of Kirce. But, to my horror and disgust, I also saw the image a ghoul, sucking on my blood.
I screamed and kicked her away. She fell back, laughing, and licking her lips. Then, she knelt and lifted the crown, placing it atop her head. “At last! At last, you have given me the blood I’ve needed to renew my body! Before you came, my beloved, I was merely a specter.” Then, she added, with a hint of sadness, “I was wasted away to nothing, nothing but a cold and lonely spot in the corner, only by sheer will keeping my soul on this island and forcing Death away. I would not go! I knew that a man would come to restore my beauty, like the shipwrecked crews from before. But you. . .you are special. So handsome. . .and a demi-god! Your life force will sustain me for centuries! I wouldn’t change you into a swine, beloved.”
“Yes, but how long will your youth last, before you must drink of me again, witch!?”
“Only in another few days,” she replied. “But why worry of such things? Here we are, free from death, you and I. . . .together, forever! We shall feed off of each other’s life forces. My magic and your blood will make us immortal!”
“I already am immortal!”
“Then, stay here. . .and I shall give you everlasting love!”
“You know nothing of love. Once, I knew as much about it as you, but I have learned, and it is a thing greater than immortality.”
“But, I can be any woman you want. . .any woman you desire. . .please stay here with me!”
“I must return!”
“Ahhh. . .so you are getting married to a beautiful princess, I see!”
“Get out of my mind, lest I take back from you your life!” I threatened.
“Describe her to me. Tell me what she looks like, how she acts. I can be her. . .I can be her!” she pleaded.
“You could never be her!” I screamed, and turned my ring into a sword.
After a pause, she responded, “you are not a shipwrecked sailor, are you?”
“I have come for the crown!”
“Then, if you must go, sleep with me one night, or else I shan’t give it thee.”
“One night, yes, and in the morning I shall be like a newly cooked rooster, dried of blood and seasoned for your hunger.”
And Kirce took off her clothes and did walk toward me naked, speaking in seductive whispers, “now, Dynotus, legends of your lust have even reached my ears. How could such a man like yourself, resist a woman such as I? How can you leave here, not having known what I feel like? Don’t you want to. . .?”
“Silence! Give me the crown and let me leave or I shall take off your head!”
Kirce raised her hands, making her robes jump back on, and floated away, gazing at me with eyes of evil. Then, like some voracious beast, her nails grew black and long, like the talons of a vulture, and a forked tongue slithered from her mouth as she spoke, “Men, they are such pigs!”
With that, a beam of light erupted from the center of her crown. I raised my silver sword and the beam was deflected back at her! I then heard a horrid scream, and looked to see, where Kirce once stood, nothing but a crumpled robe and a gold crown.
I walked over the remains, taking the crown, and found a piglet underneath. She looked at me and tried to run. But I moved more swiftly, turning her belly-side up, to make certain that the creature was female. I laughed, laughed and walked down the corridor to the pig pen.
When I opened the door, I found the crew of sailors, now pigs, and seeing that they had no mate, did offer them the swine in my hands. Closing the door, I remarked, “there you go, Kirce, several mates with whom to share your everlasting love!”
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