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Anthony Hunke
Odysseus Settles
The spray of salty waters still lashed their faces as Odysseus urged his men to sail further
from Polyphemus and the land of the Cyclops. The remaining few members of the crew ran the
oars and tossed the sails, but the look in their eyes betrayed their strong appearance. What just
happened, would no one raise an eye? Surely not the great Odysseus, who must always appear
noble and grand to his men. Was his mentality not the least bit tested by recent events? The crew
began to doubt the sanity of their captain. Of course, the great Odysseus, raider of cities, knower
of pain, the man of twists and turns, knew all of this, and he began to ponder,
"Surely, before long, my men will turn on me with blades of steel unless I find them a
decent place to settle. My beloved Ithaca, how I yearn to reunite with my beloved, but
alas, I know not if the gods look upon me with bliss or vengeance."
The curse of Polyphemus, son of Poseidon, was still fresh on his keen mind.
A fortnight passed, and the rations stored aboard began to wane. Grumbling and angry,
the crews guttural moans tossed about the ship. "What does the great Odysseus have planned for
us next?" one asked. Yet another coldly berated, "Perhaps he will run us straight to the gates of
Tartarus itself." Worry and fear began to cling to the heart of Odysseus. It was usually about this
time every night that his thoughts would stray away and land upon the shores of his beloved
Ithaca. He only imagined the terrors that swept through his halls, his land, and his home. Had the
people turned on one another in the leaderless confusion? Had another stepped in to take his
place? What had become of his one true love, Penelope? Or Telemachus? By the time his mind
would find its way back, his nerves would prove to be too great. He let his head fall back and,

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looking up at the sky, thought,


"Why have you forsaken me, rulers of the heavens? You who dwell in the towering
heights of Olympus, can you not see our suffering? Day in and day out, I maintain the
spirits of my men in the morning, only to have them plot against me in the night. Surely,
if I do nothing, they will slide a blade between my ribs."
In an effort to maintain the essence of strength and nobility to his men, he would retire below
deck, never speaking of the atrocious thoughts roiling about in his mind. As he lay in bed that
night, he slowly closed his eyes and thought, "Tomorrow. Tomorrow, one way or another, I
finally take my life back into my own hands and shape my destiny."
He awoke with a start; it sounded as if the deck had been breached and ransacked. So
many people running back and forth, like chickens without their heads. Odysseus came atop and
absorbed his surroundings. The sails were being lowered, the men were preparing the anchor,
and the ship had deviated off course. An island was in sight. "Who gave this order? Who
commands this ship?" angry Odysseus probed. None of the men had the courage to step forward
before his imposing essence, except one. Ahriman stepped forth from the helm.
"You command this ship no longer, old friend."
Odysseus spun around. Of course, mutiny was not a surprise at this point, but the shock still left
him speechless. Ahriman continued,
"You have led these fine men to ruin with your blind-sided run for Ithaca. Your foolish
pride has led the gods to curse and hate us. You are no longer fit for service."
Seething, Odysseus threw a fist at Ahriman's jaw. Ordinarily, his fist would have had enough
force to shear Ahriman's jaw in half, but instead, another crew member caught his arm and held
him in place. In no time, more and more of the crew pinned him down, like goats following the

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ram. Ahriman smugly stared Odysseus down and, with their faces so close together, Ahriman
said,
"Toss him down to the brig, where not even the wrath of the great Athena will save him.
You will watch, great Odysseus, as we make this land our home. Too long have we
followed your idiotic rule while we suffer the consequences. No more! I lead these
valiant men to a new beginning!"
Down in the cell, Odysseus thrust his head into his hands, disappointment, dread, and fear
lingering in his bones. What would become of him now? The great Odysseus, cut down by his
own men and thrown into a cell to rot. Suddenly, a young lad, no older than fifteen, approached
his prison. Not a single ounce of fear or indecisive doubt ruled his eyes. Instead, the eyes
appeared strong and noble, rich and warm, powerful and manipulative. Only one other creature,
to Odysseus' knowledge, has traversed the Earth with those same eyes. He stood up at once.
"Great Athena, is that you? Why have you and the others forsaken me? We have been
entranced, captured, killed, gorged upon, and now my own men stow me away like sacks
of flour left to lie for all time. Why has this been left to pass?"
Athena approached the bars and replied,
"O great Odysseus, son of Laertes, your will is strong, but the will of Poseidon is stronger
still. Not even the bravest god would dare reproach Poseidon, except, of course, the
mighty Zeus. Had I attempted to help you, I would surely have fallen. Your curse must
play out, and you must face the consequences."
Odysseus' eyes fell to the floor. He had failed. Troy had fallen and the battle was won, but his
beloved Ithaca would remain beyond his grasp. Athena continued,
"You are no longer alone. I am here to help you, my friend, in battle, one last time. Come,

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and we will take back this ship of yours and kill the treasonous man, that evil Ahriman."
With that, Athena ripped the door off its hinges, and she led the way to the deck. Now deserted,
Odysseus, the expert tracker, followed the trail that would lead to his men.
Branch after branch, Athena and Odysseus made their way through the trove of trees, that
luscious expanse of greenery. This island was so vital, so full of life and energy. What creatures
inhabited this island? Were they civilized, or monsters? The trail led to a vast palace, grand in
dimensions. Its spiraling towers dwelled in the clouds; the rivers ran under the bridges. Bushes
with assortments of berries and natural greens populated the front, and two imposing doors
separated Odysseus from his men. The steps were stone, cracked with age. One step at a time,
Odysseus approached those doors, his heart never altering speeds. The master of pain, the man of
twists and turns, and the favorite of Athena was about to engage again.
Thrusting the doors open, his eyes fell upon his men, all being served by the palace
servants. Odysseus skipped over all of the men until he found his primary prey, Ahriman. As
soon as Odysseus took his first step in, Ahriman gave the signal, and every man jumped at once.
They apprehended every servant, every guard, and yes, even the king. Freezing, Odysseus
scanned the room for his next ploy. What option remained open? Any movement would cause the
certain death of the king and the palace guards and servants. He turned his head slightly to look
for the daughter of Zeus, Athena, but she was nowhere to be found. Again, the gods had left him,
deserting him in his hour of need. Whipping his head back, he focused on Ahriman, the evil one.
Odysseus took another tentative step inside, and one of his men, charged him, no doubt under the
direct command of Ahriman. Quick as lightning crosses the sky, Odysseus drew his sword, and
the two blades clashed. The lad was strong, but Odysseus was stronger, and, with one slick
motion, Odysseus pushed the sword away and cleaved his head clean off. The body staggered

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back and fell, and Ahriman stared in disbelief.


"You, the great king of Ithaca, would kill your own? Curse you and all your kind, the
ones to befriend a person and then stab them in the back. The gods are right to condemn
you. See men? This is who you would follow? Who you would put your life on the line
for?"
Odysseus did nothing but continue to glare from under his filthy locks.
Knowing that the wrong move would be the kings last, Odysseus remained motionless
until an opening presented itself. The men, facing him, continued to back away, knowing their
fate should they make the same mistake as their fallen friend. Ahriman shouted,
"Attack him, my friends, and bring me his head on the silver plate in front of you! You
will see that I am a far better ruler than he, he who would kill his own brethren!"
Out of the sky dropped a falcon, and it latched to Ahriman's face. He fell back, out of reach of
the king, and Odysseus knew that his chance was upon him. He ran as fast as his feet would
carry him, knowing that any delay could prove fatal. Athena had not abandoned him after all!
Unfortunately, Ahriman recovered quicker than expected, and he swung his sword in a great arch
that spilled the king's blood over the hall's floor. Odysseus stopped shy, the great raider of cities
stopped by such violence.
"You think you would make a better king? You think you can rule over me? Let us prove
it in a manner dictated by old, with the gods as our witness. You and me, the winner takes
all," the great Odysseus demanded.
Ahriman knew better than to refuse a challenge in front of the men, especially when he could kill
Odysseus and earn the respect, not just the fear, of the men.
With the men circling their bout, Odysseus and Ahriman squared off in the great hall, the

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blood of the king still creeping across the floor. Odysseus tightly gripped his blade, feeling the
strength of Athena running within him. Ahriman swung first, twisting his blade in mid-air.
Odysseus raised his arm and caught the jarring swing, but Ahriman's form and style was sluggish
and lazy, his cuts unclean. Odysseus had strength as well as technique on top of Ahriman.
Ahriman continued to batter away at Odysseus, hoping to flank him or catch an opening. The
great king Odysseus blocked every stroke, and every hit was met with a parry. Finally, Ahriman
began to tire, and his swings became sluggish, his breathing labored. Odysseus caught his blade
and, twisting it out of Ahriman's grip, pointed his own blade at his throat. Ahriman panted and
puffed for air, knowing each gulp would be his last. Without a word, Odysseus ran him through;
the hilt pinged against the armor on his chest. Pulling the blade free with one clean stroke,
Odysseus turned to his men, all who stared back at him, a mix of fear and wonder clutching their
hearts.
"How far will your revenge carry you, Odysseus, son of Laertes?"
Athena appeared behind him. She was still in the guise of a young lad.
"Will you kill those members of your crew who are not loyal? Will you continue your
passage for Ithaca? Know full well that the wrath of Poseidon will not make the way easy
or bearable."
Odysseus looked back to his crew and those of the hall. Then, he looked up at the vaulting
ceiling, the chandeliers hung with glistening jewels. He turned his attention back to Athena,
daughter of Zeus.
"All of those years after we sacked the city of Troy, the gods deserted me and my men.
We faced land after land with dangers that consumed my men. You offered no assistance.
When my men paid with their lives, still, you offered no assistance. It has been years

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since my departure from Ithaca. My beloved land is probably consumed with confusion
and terror, my wife has more than likely remarried, my son, well, I hope he has found a
better life than I. My men clearly want to settle, since they were so willing to go against
me in this plot. I will reside as king of this land. With the fortune amassed here and the
fortunes that we have brought, we have more than enough. As for those from my past, if
they wish to find me, let them set sail and bring me news. As for you, the gods, Poseidon
has blocked my passage home, and not many of you seem keen on aiding me and my
men. I will honor the word of Poseidon; I will not return to my beloved Ithaca. Instead, I
will remain here, a king over these lands, and these fine people under my belt. Go
forward and tell the gods that Odysseus has returned home. My journey has reached its
end."

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