I had a bizarre dream last night.

I dreamed I had to take over Polites' job of giving Odysseus his daily back-rub. -Polites couldn't do it any longer due to his bad hand.

Of course, Odysseus doesn't have 'nightly back-rubs', and I doubt Polites would be giving them if he did.

Anyway, I was massaging Odysseus, and Polites was standing by my side, giving me instructions.

It really disturbed me that the General's back was a dark orange, and rubbing it was making my hands orange as well.

Even worse, Odysseus couldn't seem to see or hear Polites, and while Polites continued to give me instructions, Odysseus dictated one of his inane letters to Penelope. -I'm not sure how I was supposed to write it down.

Getting frustrated, and listening to them both talk over one another, I stopped rubbing and asked Odysseus just how Penelope was supposed to get this letter. -I reminded him we were already on our way home.

To that Odysseus flatly answered: "Yes, I know. But Calchas is going to make a bird to carry it, remember. He's going to make a bird out of your liver. You remember that, don't you, Eurylochus? That is good with you, isn't it?"

Despite knowing Calchas isn't with us, I meekly assured Odysseus that it was 'good' with me. I then continued to rub his back.

Polites, however, stopped his instructions.

"What? Your liver?! Are you fucking kidding? Now he wants your liver? You know you have to kill him now, don't you?" Polites asked.

I didn't want to answer.

However, Polites pressed me: "Eurylochus, you know you are going to have to kill him now, don't you?"

Resolved, I whispered: "Yes, yes, I know. -I'll kill him."

At that, the General paused. "What was that, Captain?"

"Nothing, General. It's nothing." I answered.

I went back to the back-rub. However, Polites was no longer giving me instructions.

After a moment of silence, I looked back to see if he was still there.

Polites had been replaced by Odysseus, who was glaring at me angrily.

I woke up sweating.

I'm not so sure I should have committed that to paper.

Oh well. It was just a dream.

Anyway, breakfast today was fish, of course. So was lunch.

I skipped dinner.

I spent a good deal of the day with Macar on the Milesian Barge. We were going through our supplies, and making sure each ship had what it would need for the raid. -I still can't believe the riches we have on that boat.

Baius figures that we are probably three days out of Ismara, assuming our course is accurate. -I never have figured out how to navigate at sea.

I avoided Odysseus most of the day, but had to report to him after returning from the barge. Neither of us mentioned yesterday's catch.

The General seemed to be in good spirits, and was pleased I had taken to readying the fleet.

It surprised me that Odysseus wasn't obviously hung-over, and was already walking about without his cane. That guy has the constitution of a bear. I could spend every day working at it, and still fail to get into the physique he has without the least bit of effort.

Anyway, Polites walked up behind me and patted me on the back while I was talking to the General.

Unbelievably, I broke into a sweat.


I reek of fish.

Polites joined us again for breakfast today. He was obviously hung-over, so I asked Misenus to break out some wine.

As Odysseus happened to walk up as we were pouring, I decided to toast to our Ciconian raid.

The General mistook our good humor for enthusiasm, which pleased him immensely. As a result, we (and Polites) then toasted to the sacking of Troy, the journey home, seeing Ithacan women again, and to a few more excuses to tip the cup.

Polites knew my intent, and shot me a weak but wry smile. He did his best to keep up with us, but after the fifth toast, he lost his breakfast.

In terms of military discipline, things pretty much went down hill from there.

Laughing, the lot of us heckled Polites as he ran to the bulwark. However, our fun was soon interrupted from a shout from the bow.

One of our deckhands was pointing ahead and screaming: Mother of Zeus, a serpent! A serpent to the starboard bow, General!

More interested in a sea serpent than Polites, our breakfast crew raced to the soldier's side.

Not expecting to see a serpent, I was taken aback. -There was indeed something huge in front of us. It was large and dark, and it was churning the waters.

Bravely, Odysseus called for his 'shpear'.

Yet, before Elpenor could retrieve it, Baius shouted: "You'd do better with a net, General! -That's a school of fish!

Squinting hard, the General looked again. Slapping the deckhand on the back of the head, he belted: "Itsh a school of fish, you shtupid sheleni!"

It was indeed a school of fish.

In fact, it was much more than a school. It was more like an island of fish. -I didn't know there were so many in the sea.

Actually, for the next hour or so, our fleet sailed through what seemed to be equal parts fish and water.

Odysseus took Baius' advice, and called for our nets. In fact, he ordered that our deck be filled with fish. In his words, we shouldn't decline such a 'fine gift from Posheidon'.

Odysseus seemed to like saying that, and repeated it many times as we worked to cover the deck.

As the General conscripted about fifty of our men to aid us in the catch, it wasn't more than an hour before we were ankle-deep in fish.

At the same time, Odysseus asked Misenus to tap deeper into our wine. Strangely determined, he made sure the lot of us toasted to 'our gift from Posheidon' several times. -I can't imagine how much wine the General drank.

Anyway, after we had loaded the deck, Odysseus ordered Elpenor to prepare a feast.

A large cauldron was brought up, and Elpenor began directing the preparation of an enormous stew.

By that point, Odysseus was a mess. He was stumbling about the deck, shouting various salty-sounding phrases and slapping anyone within reach hard on the back. -I was pretty drunk myself.

In fact, I don't remember everything after that very clearly.

I do know that at some point, a fish-fight erupted. Lying on my back after slipping for probably the fourth time, I can recall watching a fish sail through the air.

Sitting up, I was struck in the chest. It hurt. -More than I would have expected.

I'm not sure who threw the fish at me, but I remember retaliating against Perimedes. -Now that I think of it, I can't believe he was up and walking around.

Anyway, I then took another one to the back of the head.

Within moments, the air was full of fish.

Oddly, I distinctly remember hitting the General with one. I saw him laughing and tossing a couple, but it didn't seem anyone was bold enough to throw a fish back at him. Thinking it would make him feel better, I lobbed one.

It struck Odysseus the mouth. However, I think he was genuinely pleased. Laughing, the General sent a barrage back at me. -That was painful. I tried to retaliate, but couldn't match the speed or force of his onslaught. Eventually, I just buckled.

Satisfied, Odysseus then turned on Elpenor.

Some time after the fish-fight cooled down, the Lil' Tethys sailed to our side. According to Antiphus, Achaemenides, who has been given command of his own vessel, had requested some of our catch. -Apparently, they hadn't any nets of their own.

Odysseus, who could hardly stand, ordered we fill the aft catapult with our 'gift from Posheidon'.

We shot three salvos at Achaemenides and his crew before the General retired to his quarters. -I hope no one was hurt.

Anyway, I spent the rest of the day dealing with the mess. I instructed Elpenor to cook or begin to dry what fish we could, and had the rest pushed back into the sea.

After dumping our catch, we then had to clean the mess caused by the gulls we attracted. -It wasn't until dark before our work was done.

Every time I passed Baius, he just shook his head.

Ironically, I didn't eat a single fish today.


I'm worried about Polites.

Generally, I eat breakfast with Macar, Misenus, Polites and Elpenor. However, today Polites was absent. -While making my morning rounds, I found him standing at the bow.

Not thinking much of it, I tossed a chunk of salted pork at his head. It hit him squarely, but he only shot me a weak smile.

Taking that as a bad sign, I grabbed some breakfast and brought it to him. He thanked me, but just set it down. After a few moments he turned back to the waves.

I started back to my cabin, but then thought otherwise.

Heading back to the bow, I did my best to break the ice. "What the hell is the matter with you, Polites?" I asked.

Acting surprised, Polites assured me that he was fine.

I just nodded and leaned against the bullwark.

Several minutes passed where we just quietly watched the waves. At one point a seagull shat in front of us, and it almost hit me. -Polites snickered at that, which made me feel better.

We stood for a few more minutes in silence. Finally, Polites raised his bandaged hand and spoke: "They got me again Eurylochus. The Trojans shot my same fucking hand."

"Yeah. That's pretty crazy." I laughed.

However, I then noticed Polites eyes were welling up with tears.

Quickly becoming emotional, Polites continued: "My same fucking hand! It's fucking mangled, Eurylochus. I mean, what is that?! It's some kind of sign, isn't it?"

I have to admit, I was confused. Polites isn't a very religious guy, and I couldn't see why he was so upset. Yes, getting shot in his bad hand sucked, but it could have been much worse.

Trying to cheer him up, I patted him on the shoulder and told him so.

It didn't work. In fact, Polites just completely broke down.

At first he started going off about how he looked like a crab, and then started wailing that he didn't think he was going to make it home. -I couldn't understand everything, but he seemed to have some sort of premonition or something.

I tried to give Polites a pat on the back, but he immediately grabbed hold of me. Clutching me like a baby, he began to sob uncontrollably. -Polites and I are old friends, but this made me a bit uncomfortable.

Considering his emotional state, I didn't want to pry him off. However, Polites was wailing like a little girl, and he was definitely making a scene.

As swiftly as I could, I walked Polites back to my quarters. He didn't try to stop me, but he didn't help me either. The entire time, he just continued crying and babbling about how he knew he was doomed. I think at some point Polites even said that he 'wanted his mommy'. -It was pretty bad.

To make matters worse, we passed Odysseus and Elpenor on our way back.

Odysseus is very uncomfortable about displays of emotion, and immediately turned his attention to cuss out some soldiers who paused in scrubbing the deck.

Elpenor asked if Polites was alright. Frustrated, I told him to 'just fuck off', which surprised us both.

After I got Polites to my cabin, I didn't stay to console him. He had embarrassed me enough, and the last thing I wanted was to spend a lot of time in my quarters with him. I just sat him on my bed, and headed back to the deck as quickly as I could.

Purposefully making myself visible to all, I went to give my morning report to Odysseus. -Elpenor immediately found something else to do.

Anyway, for the rest of the morning, Odysseus and I walked the deck and talked about what needed to be done to prepare the fleet for an attack.

Baius expects it will be five or six days before we reach Ismara. -We'd get there sooner if it weren't for our Milesian barge.

The General doesn't think the Ciconians have any reason to expect us. For that reason, we are going to try to come ashore at night. Thankfully, Odysseus simply intends to raid Ismara and then to leave. I was relieved to hear that. -At this point, I don't think we could even suggest a siege to our men.

Odysseus was obviously pleased to talk to me about his plan and he was in good spirits by the time we broke for lunch. -I didn't bring up Polites, and for that I am sure the General was grateful.

I spent the rest of the day playing Alquerque with Misenus. I hadn't played since I lost to Agamemnon, and I was happy to beat him a couple of times.

It wasn't until late in the evening before I dared to return to my quarters. As I hadn't heard from Polites at all, I was half-expecting to find him dead on the floor.

Fortunately he was fast asleep on my cot. -The bastard drained three jugs of my wine.

On my desk I found a letter. Judging by the handwriting, it was written after Polites had gotten himself very drunk. This is what he wrote:


I remember what you said. You wouldn't be proud of me. My hand looks even more like a claw. Laodice, I saw him on the beach and I let him go. I saw Athena when we ran into the temple down your street. She looked at me like you did. She told me my fate was sealed. Ciconians didn't shoot my hand, She did. I'm so sorry about your husband. About everything. If I get back, I'll go to Athens and kill that bastard myself. If She lets me. It was like a dream. Like a burning dream. You burned, Laodice. I'll drown.

I have no idea what that is all about. -I never heard Polites speak of anyone called Laodice.

Anyway, after hiding his letter, I roused Polites and sent him off to his own bunk.

I was really looking forward to a nice cup of wine tonight.


A bad day.

This morning Odysseus informed the fleet of his plan to attack the Ciconians.

Just after breakfast, the General asked that I retrieve an officer from each ship. -Counting the Milesian barge and the Lil' Tethys, we have fourteen boats.

Baius informed me that we only needed to raise a signal flag in order to recall the ship's liasons. However, only three of the ship's responded when we did, one of whom was the Lil' Tethys.

Eleven of our fleet took no action, whereas one promptly pulled her oars and dropped her mainsail. -I guess we've been on shore too long.

Anyway, with the aid of Antiphus and the Lil' Tethys, we were able to assemble the officers on our flagship by mid-afternoon.

Polites is usually very helpful when it comes to such things. However, today he was unusually scarce. I recall he tried to catch some ropes at one point, but wasn't of much use with his bandaged hand. After that, I didn't see much more of him.

Odysseus remained in his cabin throughout the whole ordeal. Once I informed him all the officers were present, the General dramatically hobbled out of his cabin, striking the deck hard with his Trojan walking cane.

Pacing in front of officers back and forth, Odysseus appeared thoughtful and grave. Finally, pausing in from of one of our sergeants, he turned and asked: "What love do you have for the Trojans?!"

Confused, the sergeant stammered: "Uh... none. I have none. No love General."

At that Odysseus nodded and continued. Several paces later, he wheeled around again, this time in front of a corporal.

"Ciconians spilled your General's blood, have they not?!" he queried.

"Uh, yes they have. …They have spilled your blood Sir.” the officer squeaked.

"And what does that mean?!” pressed Odysseus, leaning into the soldier’s face.

"Um... That... that we... that we attack the Ciconians?" questioned the now sweaty Ithacan.

"Do we?!" asked Odysseus, apparently surprised. The General then turned away, chuckling.

"Do we?" he whispered to himself thoughtfully.

I had almost forgotten just how weird Odysseus can get at sea.

The assembly remained silent as they watched the General slowly pace back and forth across the deck.

Finally, after a painfully long and obviously false deliberation, Odysseus froze. Spinning, he hobbled back to the corporal and clasped his shoulder.

"What's your name, sergeant?"

"Uh, it's Belus, Sir. …Corporal Belus."

Odysseus grinned and belted: "Well, Sergeant Belus, I agree with your advice. We shall attack the Ciconians! Let us show them the price of Ithacan blood, shall we?!"

The General paused for a cheer. However, none followed. Elpenor made some sort of noise, but cut himself short. -For a few moments afterwards, the deck was silent.

Corporal Belus went pale.

Obviously not receiving the response he intended, Odysseus frowned slightly. Without taking his eyes off his men, he shouted to Baius: "Set a course for the shores of Ismara!"

At that, the General nodded to Belus and me in turn, and then hobbled back to his cabin.

I waited a for a moment, and then unceremoniously dismissed the men.

They didn't leave. Immediately the officers began to press me about our new orders. As much as I sympathized with them, I wasn't in the mood to discuss it. I tried to wave them off, but they continued to badger me. -I could hear the blood flow to my head as the rabble on the deck just got louder and louder.

Unfortunately, it was Belus who put me over the edge. -He pushed through the crowd and asked excitedly: "Am I really a sergeant now!?"

In the midst of the torrent of expletives that followed, I think I told Corporal Belus he was being demoted to 'Private Harpy Shit'.

I lost it.

I dressed down Belus for a solid minute, and then stomped off to my own cabin. -I haven't come out since.

I spent the rest of the day carving a knife handle and drinking wine. -I ended up breaking the handle and managed to cut myself twice.

Oddly, I think I heard Odysseus and Elpenor laughing outside my door a few moments ago.

I guess I had better go and speak with the General before I turn in.