A second wave struck the bow, misting the shields and sail. The ropes groaned against the pull of the cloth, but the sea began to calm as the gale settled.

  “What sort of squall is this?” Artemisia asked.

  Blue sky remained overhead.

  “It’s simply our victorious wind,” Hanno said, dismissing the voice as a trick of the sea. “And look! The coast bends! Our port lies just miles ahead, Bostar. Let’s witness its approach!”

  Hanno ran to the bow with Bostar, where they peered at the closing shore. The coast appeared to bend, with a wide beach sheltering a hooked bay facing the north. A peninsula of land projected to the west, sheltering the natural harbor.

  “Do you think it will be suitable?” Bostar asked.

  “Of course! But we still have some sun,” Hanno said. “And we’ve pulled far ahead of the fleet. Let us hook around this harbor and survey it on all sides before we decide on settlement.”

  “Don’t you want to be first ashore if this is your first colony?”

  “This will not be our only colony. And I want to be first around the hook of Africa. Jabnit! Signal the others not to follow. We’ll scout the far side of our harbor!”

  The oarsmen who heard the king’s command cheered.

  While the rest of the fleet turned toward the coast, Hanno directed his trireme into the open ocean.

  The wind grew stronger, pushing them well past the vacant bay and toward the peninsula’s end. Artemisia leaned on the rudder and titled the ship toward the open south.

  “All of Africa awaits us,” Hanno announced.

  The foremast filled with a northward gust, halting their turn. A sudden wave rose from the calm waters and crashed into the port side, turning the ship back and washing over the deck.

  Hanno gripped the railing to keep his feet under him when another wave nearly tossed him overboard.

  A vibration along the planks told Hanno they’d turned into the wind and were tilting north.

  “No! Turn back — it’s just a little wind!” he shouted to the helmsman when he saw Artemisia steering away from the open ocean.

  A rope snapped free and the foremast shook like a banner. Hanno yanked it tight and resecured the rope to the bow when another wave submerged the deck near to the bow horn. They rose from the crest with more ropes flying free and oarsmen struggling against the surf.

  “We need to beach!” Bostar told Hanno.

  “When we round the peninsula,” Hanno replied. “Secure this rope and maintain the foremast.”

  Hanno raced back to the stern while the marines struggled to furl the main sail.

  A whistle of wind against the mast caught Hanno’s ear and halted his feet.

  “Trespaaaaas,” the wind whispered. “Trespaaaaas.”

  “I’ll trespass where I wish,” Hanno shouted, and ran to the stern.

  “We need to beach,” Artemisia said.

  “What sort of storm comes from nowhere?” Hanno shouted over the gale.

  “I don’t really care — I just want to get to the beach!”

  Hanno looked back at the ships behind them. While the ocean rose and fell, their sails remained unfurled, their oars striking the water without interruption. The storm seemed fixed over Hanno’s trireme.

  “Trespaaaaas!” the wind shouted through the gaps between the shields.

  “I am Hanno!” the king replied. “I am king of Carthage, and I go where I please!”

  “Who are you yelling at?” Artemisia asked.

  “Traitooooor. Treachery and woooooe!” came a new voice with a westward gust. All heard the voice on the wind, and even the rowers paused to wonder at its source.

  The winds left the sails entirely, though the waves continued their pattering against the hull.

  “The gods witness our travels,” Aba declared. “In the name of Melqart, show yourself!”

  The wind threw Aba against the railing. She struck her head on the shields and fell to the deck.

  “Mother!” Mapen shouted.

  “No trespaaaaaaas!” whistled the wind.

  “How dare you assault us,” Hanno said, and drew his sword.

  “How dare you come!” the winds answered.

  “Get her below deck, quickly!”

  All but Artemisia, Hanno, and Bostar fled the growing storm.

  Mist and cloud collected just over their port side, forming a luminescent snake that spun about in a figure-eight pattern, hissing and spitting rain.

  “I am Scirocco, and you will go no further!” the wind-snake challenged.

  “I am Mistral!” boomed a voice off the starboard stern. “And you shall return!”

  Mistral coalesced into a darker snake, spinning the opposite direction and belting hail and cold. Twin icicles formed a thin mustache against the snake’s mouth, and each word froze the water clinging to the trireme’s mast.

  “Stay to your land. The ocean belongs to uuuus!” came the hot breath of Scirocco, melting what Mistral had chilled.

  “The sea belongs to Carthage!” Hanno said.

  “Hanno, we should beach,” Artemisia insisted.

  “Quiet, Helmsman. We go where we please!”

  “You go where we please,” said both winds at once.

   “I need no wind when I have the strength of Carthage! Libyphoenicians, row! Row to the ends of the Earth and claim all we see!”

  The oars splashed against the heavy surf, propelling the ship while Bostar struggled to make use of the foremast.

  Wave and wind battered the hull, and only the shouts of the officers below deck kept the oars from clattering against each other. But the ship progressed, inching toward the peninsula.

  Scirocco hurled itself against the mast. The wood popped and groaned but the sail held fast. Hanno ran to the ship’s middle and swung his sword at the retreating snake, striking nothing but hot air.

  “The oceans do not welcome you. The oceans are ours. The land you can keep but the oceans are ours!” warned Scirocco.

  “Not even the works of Hercules could stop me, foul wind!” shouted Hanno.

  A bite of cold struck him in the back. Hanno swung around and connected the steel of his sword with a block of ice. Burning pain welled in his hand, and only his frozen grip kept the blade from flying into the air.

  “We are not stone. We are wind!” proclaimed Mistral.

  An arrow flew into the air. It passed through Mistral’s forehead, froze, and fell to the sea. Bostar readied another, but Mistral lashed out with its tail, pinning Bostar to the deck while Scirocco hurtled toward the bow.

  Hanno raced to his friend’s aide, and hurled a javelin at the snakes. They paid it no mind, but Bostar grabbed hold of the bow-stuck weapon, the handhold keeping the snakes from yanking him into the air.

  The foresail tore and whipped back and forth.

  Hanno raced back to the stern and took up both rudder oars. He plunged the port rudder into the depths, then the starboard, twisting the ship violently while pounding his foot against the deck to signal a rhythm for the oars.

  The speed and twists of the trireme freed Bostar from the snakes’ coils, and Hanno let out a cheer as he turned around the peninsula’s end, facing open water.

  The snakes held position on the far side.

  “The ocean is ours. You must not come!” the winds proclaimed.

  “I am Hanno, King of Carthage, and the ocean is mine!” Hanno challenged.

  The winds turned their heads to each other and bit their tails. Mistral sank its icy fangs into Scirocco’s and Scirocco steamed against Mistral’s. They spun about in a blackening fury till their clouds solidified in a funnel that reached into the sea.

  “Row!” Hanno shouted. “Row, Libyphoenicians like you’ve—”

  Wind and rain drowned the king’s words. The cyclone lashed at the trireme’s hull. A tendril of wind grabbed hold of the foremast and snapped it in two, flooding the lower decks. Only a quick turn of the rudders forced the trireme upright, exposing its shallow keel.

  The winds collected the trireme and lifted it into the air, where it splashed down on the northern side of the peninsula amidst calm waters.

  Saltwater retreated from the deck, washing away the blood on Hanno’s split lip. He stood, surveying the ship.

  “Damage! Where’s the leaks?” Artemisia shouted.

  She collected herself from where she’d clung to the stern tail and took the port rudder from Hanno.

  Bostar rose to his feet at the bow.

  A piping from below deck signaled intact compartments and a solid hull.

  “Hah! The ships of Carthage can handle their bellows,” Hanno said.

  “Put that rudder to good use and turn us to shore. Poseidon’s own luck we didn’t capsize,” Artemisia said.

  The winds separated and calmed around the edge of the peninsula, only the chopping rise and fall of low waves a shallow reminder of their spent fury.

  “You may go no furtherrrrrr,” whispered the twilight-stilled air.

  “Helmsman, give the signal for the rowers. Full speed and don’t stop unless given a direct command,” Hanno said.

  “Are you deaf and blind?” Artemisia asked. “The gods themselves are blocking our path.”

  “As they did at the Pillars of Hercules.”

  “Hercules wasn’t standing there yelling at us.”

  “These are not gods, merely beasts of wind. And they’ve spent themselves against me. But I do not tire.”

  Hanno checked his sword. He wiped clean the bit of ice on its chipped hilt, and made sure it was strapped tight against his waist.

  “This is a suitable spot for a colony,” Bostar said, joining the king and helmsman at the stern.

  “And night is coming,” Artemisia warned.

  “Then have the fleet make land behind us. Hanno will defeat the monsters while they retreat, and carve the path for the rest of our journey,” Hanno announced. “Jabnit!” Hanno pounded his foot against the deck. “Quick-time, row!”

  The muffled piper played the rowers to speed, and the oars struck against the waters. The trireme once more advanced toward the peninsula’s end, and once more the skies darkened.

  The breath fled Hanno’s lungs as the winds collected into another cyclone of hot and cold. He coughed against the ear-popping transition, and shouted, “Sirocco! Mistral! You will not stop me!”

  The reformed tornado sped towards Hanno’s ship and hurled it backward before the king could touch the oars. It pressed the deck and spun it about like the hand of Baal himself had reached down from the heavens.

  The winds submerged the trireme in green water up to the yard arm of its main mast.

  Hanno felt the rush of blinding wind and crushing water, then crashed against the deck as the trireme burst to the surface.

  Half-sunk and bleeding salt, the trireme drifted mere yards from the shallows.

  Hanno could barely stand, and before he reached the rudders to turn the ship, the bow beached.

  Artemisia once more looked about, scowling in search of damage. No other soul stood upon the deck.

  “Bostar,” Hanno said. “Bostar!”

  Hanno searched the waves cresting against the shore, and spotted a form drifting amidst the foam.

  “Bostar!” Hanno shouted, and leapt into the sea.

  Pain erupted from his leg when he struck the shallow seafloor, and he struggled and splashed to reach his friend.

  Hanno pulled Bostar’s head from under the water, and met a blue face.

  “Bostar, no — no!” Hanno said.

  He squeezed the man tight, his muscles straining to siphon the water free of Bostar’s lungs. Hanno’s whole body shook, and finally Bostar coughed against the king’s shoulder.

  “Bostar,” Hanno said, collapsing to his knees.

  A wave knocked king and companion into the sand. Neither had the strength to speak or stand, and they allowed the surf to propel them onto the beach.

  Hanno and Bostar dragged themselves along the shore while the rest of the crew guided the ship to the beach and disembarked. A few of them cast wary glances at the king.

  “Orders, Hanno?” Artemisia spat from the deck of the beached trireme.

  “I… declare this…” Hanno panted. “A colony… of Carthage.”

  A low cheer accompanied this declaration. The men and women of Hanno’s ship leapt from the railings while the rest of the fleet beached themselves inside the natural harbor. Calm waters greeted them, along with dusty sand and high fig trees. The pipers echoed the celebration, and Hanno found the strength to stand.

  “Are you alright?” Bostar asked.

  “Are you?” Hanno replied.

  Bostar nodded.

  Hanno nodded back, then looked to the peninsula.

  The winds shook the leaves of the green trees and grass, and Hanno thought he heard them whisper, “You go no furtherrrr.”

A note from DavidDHammons

Thanks for reading! New chapters will be added MWF. Please rank and review. If you would like to support my writing, please consider donating through Royal Road or supporting me via Patreon. I also have books available on Amazon, author name David D. Hammons, if you would like to read more of my work.

About the author


Bio: I once snuck into a castle. It wasn’t a terribly good castle. In fact it was quite old and broken, but it had a shut door I wasn’t supposed to go through. Yet through it I went. I climbed an ancient wall I shouldn’t have climbed, wandered across borders without using the approved path, and was handed a silver trophy for a contest I wasn’t allowed to enter. From my time growing up in the Missouri Ozarks to my travels abroad, I couldn’t help going places and doing things I probably shouldn’t. Perhaps more of those doors needed 'Keep Out' signs, or if they did have signs they should have been locked, and if they had been locked they shouldn’t have hidden such amazing things that made going through them so worthwhile. I currently live in Springfield, Missouri, where I teach Marketing, study History, and, alongside my wonderful wife, make a valiant attempt at passing through the doorway of writing.

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