ρθβ′

A nice morning and a bad evening.

Some of our men were scrubbing the deck early this morning, and their work woke me earlier than usual. -It was one of those rare days when I open my eyes feeling completely awake.

Deciding to make the most of it, I shared a pot of tea with Baius as the sun came up.

It was another day of clear skies and crisp, steady wind.

As I was feeling a bit restless, I resolved to make the rounds of our fleet this morning aboard the Lil’ Tethys. -I probably should have checked with Odysseus before doing so, but was feeling somewhat rebellious.

After having a nice chat with Baius, I woke Polites and then signaled Antiphus to pick us up. Polites’ mood was matching my own, and he decided to wear a ridiculous over-sized Trojan hat.

As I didn’t have anything specific in mind, I just asked Antiphus to take the two of us from ship to ship. As it happened, we only ended up visiting two.

After a short stop waking up an obviously hung-over Mnestheus, we ended up on Achaemenides’ vessel. -It was still pretty early, and we were surprised to hear cheering as we pulled up alongside.

Climbing aboard, we found Achaemenides’ crew of the newly named ‘Atalanta’ in the midst of an archery tournament. Actually, it wasn’t so much of a archery tournament as it was a duel.

The crew of the Atalanta invented a unique style of archery combat. Replacing the points of arrows with knobs of knotted rags, two members of the crew would stand several paces apart and shoot at each other. As the ends of these arrows had been dipped in inked honey, there was no mistaking when someone was hit.

When we arrived, the rule was that each contestant was given three arrows. A hit was worth one point, a headshot was worth two.

Needless to say, Polites wanted to play.

I was hesitant to join at first, but as Captain Achaemenides’ insisted, I decided to have some fun. -Achaemenides was already sporting a large ink blot over his left eye.

Unfortunately, I didn’t fair too well. As soon as Polites and I had agreed, the crew of the Atalanta decided the two of us should face off.

My first arrow missed Polites entirely. His shot hit me square in the nose.

Apollo’s ass, that hurt.

In fact, I was so stunned by Polites honey-coated arrow that I involuntarily dropped my bow. Seeing stars, I shook my head, and did all I could to keep the tears from welling up in my eyes.

Obviously, the crew understood my pain as an empathic “Oooooh” immediately followed.

Feeling like I needed to make a good show, I did my best to wipe the inky goo out of my eyes and quickly asked for my bow. My second arrow missed Polites by a mile.

To his credit, Polites next arrow was close, but just missed me. My third shot hit Polites in the thigh, and his just grazed me.

Polites won our match, 2 to 1.

Antiphus and Polites faced off next. Polites won again, striking Antiphus hard in the stomach. -I guess his two remaining fingers are good enough for archery.

Anyway, I spent the rest of the morning watching the tournament and talking with Achaemenides.

I’ve always thought Achaemenides was kind of a simpleton. However, I think having command of his own ship has really brought him into his own.

Achaemenides doesn’t command in a manner I am accustomed to, but his men seem very happy and are obviously endeared to him. At one point when a couple of consecutive groin shots lead to a fist fight, it only took a stern shout from Achaemenides to settle the crew.

At any rate, it was an enjoyable morning, and we decided to stay for lunch. This was a roast of the Atalanta’s Ciconian sheep. It was good, but I think I’m done with sheep for a while.

Polites did very well in the tournament, and took third place. Thankfully, I wasn’t compelled to deul again.

As we had such a good time aboard the Atalanta, Polites and I abandoned our idea of rounding the fleet and returned to the flagship (which is now apparently being called ‘The Horse’) just before dinner.

Unfortunately, when we did return, Odysseus was on deck.

It was nice to see the General was feeling better. However, I knew immediately I should have checked in on him before leaving. Odysseus was eating with Biaus, Misenus, Elpenor and Macar, and he hardly acknowledged us when Polites and I enthusiastically stated how glad we were to see him.

It probably didn’t help that our faces were covered in ink.

I decided to skip dinner and spent the evening looking busy.

Just before turning in I ran into Elpenor. I thanked him for looking after the General. To this, he only nodded weakly, and gave me a look of disappointment. -Mother of Zeus, I wanted to punch him.

That guy has to learn some boundaries.

ρθα′

An uneventful day.

I think Odysseus is feeling a little better.

I dropped by the General's cabin this morning and heard the sound of him and Elpenor laughing. I knocked, but Elpenor only opened the door a crack.

He assured me that Odysseus was fine, and said the General would likely be able to take visitors tomorrow.

Of course, Elpenor has no right to tell me when I can and can't see Odysseus. However, it seems he is doing a good job playing nurse, and I didn't really want to deal with the General anyway. -He'd probably just give me extra work to make up for his condition.

Still, it pissed me off that Elpenor pulled that shit with me.

Whatever. -I'll let him play gate-keeper a little longer.

I spent most of the day with Polites and Misenus. -It was good.

I think Polites has more or less come out of his funk, and has forgiven me for the whole 'Laodice' thing.

A large gull has taken to perching on our bow, and has become pretty fearless. Some of our men have been feeding him, and he seems determined to stay with us for the journey. Out of respect, the crew has taken to calling him 'The Old Man'.

Men get so serious about stuff like that at sea.

Anyway, the three of us fed the Old Man some fish, and found we could pat him on the head without scaring him off.

He did bite my thumb, however.

Baius was right about the wind. The sky was clear today, but the wind was steady. -We are making good time.

Odysseus hasn't actually ordered us to head for home, but that's where Baius is taking us.