Danel woke up in darkness. 'No thats not right' he thought. It's just night time.
The moonlight helped him see that the trireme he was on had its sail furled and a handful of sailors keeping watch. Danel struggled off of the deck still weak from almost dying and looked up into the sky. The storm had passed and the sky did not have a single cloud so his view of the stars and the full moon was glorious.
'Did any of that really happen?' he thought.
"Oh it did." Danel jerked around and there stood George smirking at him. Danel stared at him looking closer he was even stranger, his skin is unmarked by any disease or scar, more like a statue really. His teeth are perfectly straight and white and he is too tall. He stands head a shoulders taller than Danel who is not short for his sixteen years of age. The man is too perfect and unreal.
"Well thanks for the compliment." George laughed.
Danel flinched, can he hear my thoughts?
"Yes, I can."
He clenched his jaw thinking "What are you?"
"I am your guardian angel, or at least the closest thing to it." His smile is disarming but Danel is not fooled, this is not a human.
"Ouch. That hurts my feelings. Your not wrong but it still hurts."
"A guardian angel, what is that?"
The smile leaves his face and he becomes stern "I am your protector, I shall warn you of danger when it is near, stop you from ingesting poisons, I shall train you and impart knowledge unto you. I will not give you powers like a demigod nor any magics. That time has passed for this world. You should feel honored not just anyone gets this chance."
Danel thought 'this is ubelievable!' But the more cynical side of him said 'no one, not even gods, give something for nothing'
"What is the catch?"
George cocks his head to the side and the smile returns "In Exchange you shall be the mortal hand of Tanit. She will ask you to do certain tasks for her and you shall do them, or her favor and my assistance will be withdrawn."
Danel remembered below the waters. How Tanit had felt, her taste on his lips. "Will she visit me again?" he asked shyly.
Georges smile became even bigger "She will. Not often but you will see her again." he trailed off leading Danel to think he would do more than see her. Even the thought of her made him feel like fire was in his veins.
After the deal Danel had asked other questions and George had answered them as best he could but he did not reveal much. But Danel did find out how increasingly rare it is for a mortal to receive favor. Apparently the gods are retreating from the world. Mankind now has dominion over the world. So it means that the chances of Danel running into another favored mortal is next to nonexistent. Also Danel should be alone when talking to George since no one can see or hear him and George can't touch anything. He gave an example when his hand just misted through the mast and left no mark.
After running out of questions Danel yawned and returned to sleep on the deck.
Danel woke to the shout of "Food's ready!"
His stomach grumbled loudly. He made his way to the ships chef as he handed out bowls of gruel. When Danel got his he wolfed it down and returned to his resting spot near the mast. It is between two crates with supplies and shades him from the hot sun.
George appeared on his left and squatted down next to him.
"Ready to train?"
Danel looked at with a confused expression "Here? On the ship?"
"Yes, here. We can train anywhere."
"No, I mean that the ship is crowded and I don't want to accidentally stab someone with my...." Danel remembered that when he had almost drowned he had lost all of his equipment. "I don't have a weapon, I don't have any armor" he patted his sides and thankfully still had his money pouch at his waist. He inspected it to make sure no one had pinched a coin while he was unconscious. All his money was there which did not amount to much.
"I have barely enough to buy a helmet, spear, and knife and only if I haggle VERY hard."
George smiled "That doesn't matter. Close your eyes and you will understand."
"How will that help?"
George sighed "Just do it."
Danel grumbled but got into a comfortable sitting position and closed his eyes.
"Now relax and empty your mind."
Danel slowly emptied his mind of thoughts like annoyance at George. Then sensations like the warm sun on his skin, the sound of feet on the deck, the smell of salt. Then Danel felt an odd sensation and opened his eyes.
He wasn't on the ship anymore. He was in a perfectly clean white room. He jumped up and looked around. There were no door and no windows. Is he trapped? Did George trick him?
Then the angel appeared in front him.
"Where am I?! What is this place?!"
George raised his arms like an actor at the theater "Welcome to the mindscape. A mental training ground for our purposes."
George lowered his arms annoyed "This is how I am going to train you. In here I can give you obstacles and lessons much faster and easier and also..." his arm reached out and slapped Danel in the face. "I can touch you here."
"Oww." Danel said rubbing his cheek. "Wait. Was I transported here? Did I just vanish from the ship?"
"No, you are still there, it just looks like you are sleeping. Try to focus on your body and you can still feel it."
Danel did, and soon he felt the sun, smelled the salt, and heard the sound of the sailors going about there business.
"Amazing. So what are you going to train me to do?"
"Patience, first I must catch up on mortal affairs. Like why are you on a ship heading to Sicily?"
"You don't know?"
"I try to keep a distance from mortals. In my opinion they are more trouble than they are worth."
Danel scowled "Well I am one of the citizen soldiers of Carthage on my way to Sicily to fight the Tyrant of Syracuse, Agathocles who has been attacking our allies on the island. I am one of about 2000 citizens, along with 10000 Libyans, 1000 mercenaries, 200 Etruscans, and 1000 balearic slingers."
George nods his head "Very good. Who is leading this great army?"
"Hamilcar, son of Gisco, grandson of Hanno."
"What about you why did you join the army."
"Because it is my duty as a citizen of Carthage to protect our allies."
George just looked at him, Danel sighed "Because I am the third son of a blacksmith and my older brother will get the shop and I will be left with next to nothing. If I gain some fame and fortune in this war maybe I can be my own man and not depend on my family for scraps to survive."
George nodded his head he asked other questions about the events for what felt like hours.
"How long has it been?"
"Only a fraction of a hour."
What? How is that possible? We have been talking for hours."
"Time here moves differently. This place is made by your mind and as such it moves as fast as your thoughts."
Danel was shocked he had thought this place was made by Tanit or George, but he is master of this place.
He raised his hands experimentally at the walls, for a few moments nothing then the walls expanded, the ceiling rose dozens of feet, windows appeared on the walls and let in sunlight even though the room had been light somehow without torches.
Once the room stopped moving it was the size of a massive gymnasium. The sounds of George clapping echoed on the walls. "I believe it is time that we began your training."