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The Maiden's Odyssey

The Maiden’s Odyssey
Paul Coulter
3
Prologos
It was a moment’s work for Chymides Eight-fingers to release Nerissa’s leg iron. By the
time she’d struggled onto bare, cracked feet, every surviving slave was standing. If they hadn’t
pressed so close against her, Nerissa would have fallen at the ship’s first lurch. She could feel
her shin bones threatening to crumble. Judging from gnawed marks in her splintered plank,
she’d been more than two months on the Thallia. Chained in its reeking hold, she’d seen out her
fourteenth year.
When the captain on that first day out of Tyre offered an easy voyage, she’d refused a
soft berth in his cabin. She’d stepped aboard more or less a virgin, but it wasn’t that. With so
much lost already, one further torn place in Nerissa’s body mattered little. Still, virtue mattered
much. Captain Hycron’s eyes were hard like the new coins made of silver/gold electrum. Every
time he spoke, a foul mist of half-digested garlic spewed from his mouth. His oiled beard was
split in two like some lust-maddened satyr. She wouldn’t shame Father’s memory by rutting
with this goat.
How many nights had Hycron plagued her fitful sleep? In Nerissa’s dreams, his face
loomed at her like a black cloud blotting the red sky. Just as it had darkened at her insult the
instant after she’d rebuffed him.
For all his rude appearance, Hycron seemed to pride himself on manly beauty. At the
height of all his many qualities, Hycron saw himself as the reborn Adonis. Nerissa knew that to
this depraved man, the offer had been more than generous. Not only a straw pallet by his bed
and food from his own table, but the godsend of his skill in the bedchamber.
From the back row, a Thracian sailor jested underneath his breath. Capable in many
languages, Nerissa heard him say the captain’s face turned the exact shade of an ass’s unsheathed
phallus. Fortunately for the sailor’s pock-marked hide, Hycron’s hearing wasn’t sharp. He’d
flayed men for much less.
For once, Hycron mastered his rage. It would be far beneath him to force this girl into his
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