The ships pushed out into the harbor. The calm sea welcomed them, and past the wave-flattening beach, only a bit of wind disturbed their approach to the peninsula.

  Hanno kept an eye on Liva. She’d made no attempt to depart the vessel the night before. Artemisia had nearly thrown her overboard in surprise when she encountered the Translator below deck before sunrise. Only by speaking in Greek did Liva calm the helmsman into brushing her aside and commencing with prepping the ship.

  The king had left the triremes to their crews, trusting them to be prepared while he made ready his blessing of the newly founded city.

  “People of Carthage. People of Thymiaterium,” Hanno said before the assembled citizens at the beach. “I shall return. I shall return in riches and glory. I shall return with maps and trade markers for the cities your countrymen go to found. And I shall return to Carthage, to tell of your bravery. May these foundations be fruitful, and may we profit well as Phoenicians always have.”

  “Praise be to Tanit!” Aba cheered, along with the rest of the Libyphoenicians.

  Mapen sang his song, and Jabnit played her pipe, and the crews took to their ships to resume their journey.

  The fleet kept their sails furled. Foremast and midship remained empty, and the oarsmen propelled the vessels across the calm waters at a steady, wary pace.

  Hanno’s trireme took the lead several hundred yards ahead of the others.

  Jabnit let out a long, high tone, signaling the rest of the fleet to maintain pace and follow, slowly.

  She and the officers stood at the ship’s stern, along with Liva. The Libyan looked at her feet as much as she did the sea. She gasped several times while the ship took to the waves.

  “Something so large, that it can stay afloat…” Liva marveled.

  “Your veteran Translator has a plan? We didn’t make it far yesterday,” Artemisia noted.

  “A plan?”

  “Yes. Unless the plan is to turn around and rejoin the city, I’d say we need one.”

  “The winds are blocking us. I’ll listen to what they have to say.”

  “Oh, that’s it. You’ll just… talk to the wind?”

  Liva nodded.

  Artemisia grumbled.

  “If they do not listen to her, they will listen to me,” Hanno added.

  “Because that worked perfectly last time,” Artemisia mocked.

  “I shall speak more forcefully. And with Liva’s voice.”

  “Force may or may not be what’s needed,” Liva corrected.

  The sky darkened. The winds picked up, and Hanno felt a chill against his bare arms when he unsheathed his sword.

  Liva laughed.

  “What humor do you see?” Hanno asked.

  “That you could slice the air with a blade. It reminds me of a different form of wind cutting,” Liva said.

  “No furtherrrrr,” whispered the chill air.

  Bostar readied his bow.

  “Maintain pace. Keep the rhythm and push on,” Artemisia ordered.

  “Returned to sea the ships we row, our winded fate of this we know, blown bravely king, hi-ho, hi-ho,” Mapen sang.

  Aba placed one hand on the railing and raised the other high, muttering a string of prayers.

  “My ocean! Intrusion by fooooools,” came the hot breath of Scirocco. The snake assembled around the peninsula’s tip, churning the sea with a layer of billowing fog.

  “No furtherrrr,” said Mistral. A coil of gray cloud grabbed hold of the mast, slowing the trireme’s advance.

  “Mistral and Scirocco,” Liva said. “I know of these winds!”

  She walked to the mast, marveling at the sleet-raining cloud.

  A gust of hot wind lifted the bow, but the rowers never slowed, so when the ship crested over the top of a wave Mistral’s grip snapped free of the mast, dropping melting snow onto the salt-sprayed deck.

  “If she knows them, tell them to back off,” Artemisia said.

  “Continue the pace, Helmsman,” Hanno ordered.

  The king joined the Translator at the mast. The few on deck remained at the stern, including Bostar at the port rudder. The marines had been ordered below.

  “I do not fear you, foul winds!” Hanno shouted. “I am Hanno of Carthage, and I have your undoing!”

  “You cannot undo the winds, and you cannot have my ocean!” shrieked Scirocco. It lashed at the water, sending a hot plume over the bow.

  Several dozen rowers plunged their oars into empty air, but maintained pace in the rise and fall of their fellows.

  “You cannot escape my seas!” Mistral added. It swept past them in a freezing gust, where the two snakes held position in a gathering whirlwind off the trireme’s bow.

  “One doesn’t want you, the other doesn’t want to lose you. But they know you,” Liva realized. “The winds know you.”

  “Many have tried to face this ocean. None but Hanno has made it thus far!” Hanno shouted.

  “And you go no further,” the winds declared.

  They bit their tails and spun and spun, their burning cold reaching to the sea.

  Liva spoke in a language Hanno didn’t understand.

  “Speak plain, Translator, and make it quick!” Hanno ordered.

  “No ship has been this far? No ship that uses a sail and a mast?” Liva asked.

  “No ship of Carthage nor any other has dared this far south. None but Hanno.”

  “No ship this big at least. But that might be true.”

  Liva leapt onto the mast railings and shimmied up to the yard arm.

  “What are you doing?” Hanno shouted over the growing storm.

  “We need the sail!” Liva called back.

  “The wind’s too strong!”

  “But it’s the wrong wind!”

  Hanno bit his lip, then sheathed his sword. He stomped on the deck.

  “Bostar!” he shouted. “Marines, to your king!”

  The bowman hurried to the mast to climb after Hanno while half a dozen marines ran into the hailstorm forming on the deck. They nearly fell overboard from a sudden gust.

  Liva clung to the mast where the sail had been tied. Hanno undid the first knot, loosening the binds but keeping the sail furled.

  “Not yet!” Liva shouted, and kept climbing.

  “I thought you wanted the sail!” Hanno protested.

  “When the wind comes.”

  Bostar readied the binds like Hanno, and they both struggled to hold onto the yard arm while Liva climbed to the mast’s upturned crescent cap.

  “No furtherrrr,” the winds roared. Their funneled spin closed in on the ship, threatening to toss it aside like a toy in a puddle.

  “Harmattan! Harmattan!” Liva shouted into the raging sky. “A work of man you’ve never known! We greet you, Harmattan! Come and see, Harmattan!”

  The tornado lifted the bow.

  “Lower the sail,” Liva ordered.

  Hanno and Bostar pulled the ropes and the sail fell open. It enveloped Bostar and nearly knocked him to the deck while Hanno wrapped his arms around the mast.

  “Fling yourself to the sea as sacrifice if you’re a fool enough to shout nonsense!” Hanno scolded Liva.

  “Harmattan!” Liva called out, ignoring the king’s fury. “Look what gifts we bring!”

  A terrible roar deafened the growing storm. The water fled from Hanno’s back, and the clouds disappeared.

  A yipping like the flock of some alien beast heralded a dust cloud that darkened the peninsula. It bounded across the sea, chasing away the fog and blowing away the tornado like a breath of wind onto a candle.

  “Harmattan!” Liva laughed.

  The sail filled, raining dust and sand onto the deck, and the trireme dashed across the chaotic sea with the force of the yipping wind.

  The wind collected in the sail and formed a shape like that of a golden eagle molting dirt. Harmattan ran its head against the cloth, reveling in the feel and pushing it past the peninsula.

  “What creatures! What sights!” the wind proclaimed in a hoarse exultation. “My name and this gift — oh what things and makings of man!”

  “Ha-ha!” Hanno hooted when he saw the peninsula grow smaller beyond their stern. “The winds yield to Hanno!”

  “This wind hears. Hello! This wind hears its name, and oh what a lovely thing!” said Harmattan.

  “Thank you, Harmattan,” Liva said. She raised her arms wide and laughed at the dust collecting on her skin.

  “I think I’ll keep it. Hello, hello!” said Harmattan. It pushed the sail harder.

  The mast groaned and the deck filled with dirt.

  “Harmattan. Your favor is done, you can release us,” Liva said.

  “King Hanno of Carthage thanks you, wind of dust, now return to your origin,” Hanno ordered.

  “See how it moves! See how it moves!” Harmattan laughed, pushing at the sail like a dog with a bone.

  “I think we might be in trouble here,” Liva noted.

  “Bostar,” Hanno said, and threw his rope over the high yard arm, making sure Bostar did the same. With one quick yank, they pulled the sail back into its binds.

  “No! No, mine!” Harmattan shouted, and pushed the sail back down.

  “This is the sail of the King of Carthage!” Hanno protested.

  “I know you’ve never touched one before, but please let us go,” Liva urged.

  “Mine!” Harmattan shouted.

  A whirlwind of dust collected around the ship. A crack sprouted on the straining mast. The winds Scirocco and Mistral returned, battering at the edges of their sister’s unyielding air to churn the ocean into a boiling rise and fall.

  The winds gathered into a massive wave that sped toward the trireme off its port side.

  “Bostar, Liva, keep the sail tight,” Hanno said, and threw his rope to the Libyan. “Artemisia!”

  Hanno drew his sword, and pointed to the wave.

  Artemisia made a gesture Hanno recognized as a Greek indecency, but she pushed on the starboard rudder to turn the ship perpendicular with the wave.

  Liva and Bostar hurried to the deck, pulling on the ropes as they struggled to keep the sail taught.

  “Mine, mine, hello!” cheered Harmattan when she caught the full of the sail, pushing it straight at the wave.

  “Goodbye,” Hanno said.

  He leapt for the sail and plunged his sword into the fabric. The bull of Mago tore and Harmattan flew out over the endless ocean, singing and shouting with confused speed.

  “Hard turn starboard!” Hanno ordered.

  “Port back, starboard push!” Artemisia added, and Jabnit played the command.

  Hanno slid to the deck and dashed to the port rudder, plunging it into the sea to help turn the trireme against the wave. The ship spun about and rode the wave to the shore, where it slammed them against the shallows. The impact knocked Hanno off his feet, and timbers flew from a gash in the port side.

  When the foam receded, the crew found themselves in calm waters near the beach. The coastline of Africa spread out before them, with the winds battling far into the distant ocean.

  “To the shore!” Artemisia ordered.

  “Not to shore, we just beat the winds, why would we stop?” Hanno asked.

  “We need to make repairs.”

  “The winds don’t seem to be going away,” Liva noted.

  “The winds have failed to stop Hanno. You hear me, winds? Hanno continues!” the king bellowed.

  The rest of the fleet began rounding the peninsula. Scirocco failed to turn Harmattan’s dirt to mud while Mistral failed to freeze it, and all the while Harmattan spun about its watery horizons like a cornered beast.

  “Hanno may have beaten them, but did they?” Liva asked.

  She pointed to the fleet closing in on the peninsula.

  “We will need Harmattan if you intend to continue south,” Liva added.

  Hanno took a step toward the bow. He stomped his foot and said, “To the sand then. I’ll speak with these winds.”

  The second the bow hit the shallows, Hanno leapt off the ship.

  The king dipped his hand into the water and retrieved a fist full of wet sand.

  “Winds of the west! I have progressed further south than any ship of the world,” Hanno proclaimed.

  “Yes, thank you!” Liva added.

  The winds paused their fight, and listened to the man on the shore. The waves picked up, but Hanno kept his feet in the surf.

  “I shall build an altar to proclaim my victory. Marines! Search the ground for stones and stack them high. We shall make sacrifices on our new altar while the fleet closes the distance,” Hanno ordered.

  “To whom will the altar be made?” Aba asked after emerging from below deck. “Tanit? Baal Hammon? Melqart perhaps?”

  “To Poseidon. He is the father of the winds. And after all, it was the sea that brought us beyond the peninsula, not the wind. Do you hear that, winds? It is to Poseidon I give the honor! He your master and I his guest!”

  Hanno collected a large stone, wave-washed and smooth, from the edge of the beach and set it upon a flat outcropping of rock. He cut his hand with his sword and wetted the unfinished altar.

  “Let this pedestal remind you, winds, of your true master,” Hanno proclaimed.

  The ocean flattened, and the air grew still. The eagle and the two snakes disappeared, leaving only a floating patch of ice and dust. A calm breeze propelled the rest of the fleet while Hanno’s marines completed the altar.

  They cut trees to repair the triremes and to fuel the sacrificial flame, finding plentiful woods beyond the rocky shore. Hanno heard a bird-like screech from the forest and caught a marine dropping his axe.

  “Settle, Harmattan! Our deal is made and the altar done,” Hanno ordered, and helped the marine collect his axe. “Steel yourself, Marine, the winds know their place.”

  The air stilled around the log-cutting sailors, though the trees groaned as if pushed with a sudden gust.

  Hanno gave a final chop with the marine’s axe and split the abandoned log. He handed the pieces to the marine and said, “This should be sufficient. Feed the flames for Poseidon and let’s be off. The fleet’s nearly arrived.”

  But the groaning from the trees never ceased, and Hanno kept searching for eyes amongst the timbers.

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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