Voyage of Alexandria
Voyage of Alexandria
- Purchase the eBook instantly
- Receive Download Link via Email
- Send to Preferred E-Reader and Enjoy!
Book 6 of the Alexandrian Saga
For thousands of years, myths have told the stories of the beasts at the edge of civilization: krakens, cyclops, even the fearsome dragon.
Now, Heron of Alexandria must confront those myths aboard Hoth the Black's iron ship, the Jörmungandr, as they flee the remnants of the Roman navy bent on revenge. As she struggles to recover from her horrific injuries, and the repercussions of what happened in the Roman Senate, she must decide - once and forever - what she truly believes in.
- Alternative History
- Epic Storytelling
- Clash of Empires
For thousands of years, myths have told the stories of the beasts at the edge of civilization: krakens, cyclops, even the fearsome dragon. Now, Heron of Alexandria must confront those myths aboard Hoth the Black's iron ship, the Jörmungandr, as they flee the remnants of the Roman navy bent on revenge. As she struggles to recover from her horrific injuries, and the repercussions of what happened in the Roman Senate, she must decide - once and forever - what she truly believes in.
Intro Into Chapter One
Intro Into Chapter One
Behold! Humans living in an underground cave, which has a mouth open toward the light which reaches all along the cave; here, they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning their heads. Above and behind them, a fire blazes at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised way; and you will see, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.
— Plato, The Allegory of the Cave
Heron clung to the burnt timber as the waves washed over her back. The salt burned her eyes and nose. Her throat was raw from the sea water she'd already swallowed.
Cleansed in the waters of creation. The words raced through her head like a steam chariot. Another wave slapped her in the face, leaving her sputtering, daring her to unclamp her arm to wipe the salt from her swollen eyes.
And though the wind chopped the water into frothing curls as long as the Coliseum, the sky to the northwest was as clear and bright as a tiled pool. Heron's mind resisted what she first saw in that fathomless space as it had to be a trick of the light, but when the vision persisted, she grew to accept it. Hovering in the blue, like a temple to the sky, was...
—she heaved awake into the darkness of the cabin. A faint orange glow like the dawn reflected against the porthole. As the ship rolled, so did her stomach, and the clenching brought with it a spike of pain so great, it turned her words to spittle. The muscles of her side split with effort until she flopped over and vomited onto the cabin floor.
The urge came three times in quick succession, and each one was like a vise on her broken ribs. By the third, she was sure the ribs would snap and poke from her flesh. Afterwards, she lay sobbing in the darkness.
She would have been content with just sobbing, but awake, she keenly felt the myriad of wounds across her body. Heron was littered with burns, salved and bandaged, but beneath the bound cloth, the raw skin throbbed.
A shaking hand explored her face, feeling the burn on the neck, the cut on her tongue, the tenderness of her ear and jaw. She vaguely recalled her near immolation on the bonfire of the Brethren, her flight to the Iron Road, and the impact at the docks. With trembling fingers, she tugged on her hair only to come away with a clump that she let fall from her fingertips.
Dear Sepharia! Treasured Plutarch! Stalwart Punt! Her heart beat upon the anvil of her chest at their remembrance. Agog, my friend. All of them lost. A city lost. Rome, destroyed. She couldn't even grasp the destruction she'd wrought on the city. Archimedes had been wise to keep his inventions hidden, but she had foolishly unleashed them on the world.
Yet, as she lay amid the blankets, it was not her friends or the city that she mourned. No, to her great shame it was her mechanical limbs. Without them she was a cripple. And that shame was a reflection of her pride, her hubris, that had brought down a great Empire. They would remember her as a destroyer of worlds, not as the builder she had wanted. She knew all too well that her gender would be blamed on the destruction of the city. And how could they not wonder at the automatas detonating as the fire reached them and not say that it had been done for spite? The name Michanikos would fade into time while Heron the Destroyer would become the moniker she was remembered by.
Hubris. She'd been warned time and time again. Hubris had drove her to discover the gifts of Archimedes, regardless of the cost. Could it be that there were gods that watched over mankind and interfered in their lives? All her experiences in the temples providing miracles had taught her otherwise, but here was an example so powerful, so immutable, like a mathematical proof, that she found it hard not to believe.
A wave of nausea passed through her again, but there was nothing left in her stomach, and each heave was like a horse kicking her in the chest. When it was over, she was left crying, snot and vomit hanging from her lips and nose. She tried to wipe them from her face, only to miss with her stump.
A mad laugh bubbled to her lips, but not too much, as each shaking of her chest brought with it pain. The priest. Lysimachus. He would tell her this was the work of Sobek. Of He Who Dwelleth Amid Terrors. And she would find it hard to disagree. For what was a god, but an idea—an idea in mankind's collective mind made physical by their hands.
The priest, the priest, the priest. Somehow, she knew that at the end of all this, that she would see him again. But she hoped not soon, for in the darkness, she knew she was weak. Her injuries and losses and the destruction of the city had done to her what many months in the pit of Sobek had failed to accomplish.
She continued the exploration of her injuries by pushing on the loose tooth at the back of her jaw. That looseness extended to her bones and skin and hair. She felt like a machine dropped from a great height and all the gears and pistons were unconnected and the machine useless.
Shivering in the darkness, a sudden thirst consumed her, like a tidal wave crashing over. Her lips smacked against her teeth, tugging at them in their dryness. She tried to form spit, but swore her mouth was a wasteland of dust.
In the faded orangish light, which she'd come to accept as the great fire of Rome still burning, she spied a mug of water on a table across the room. The distance seemed like a valley a hundred leagues long.
With great effort, she pushed away the thin blankets, that could have been steel plates, for all her strength. Like an infant making its first weak scrambles, Heron clawed her way to the edge of the bed over the course of what seemed like an hour. An exploration of the edge of the bed, in hopes of a gentle disembark, turned to brief terror as she slid over the side, fooled by the mass of blankets.
She landed like a sack of wheat and lay there like one, reeling in the agony of her broken ribs. The wooden floor was cold and her breath formed into white mist before her lips.
The table appeared to be a cliff, high above her.
Too far, she decided. But so was the bed.
Without the blankets to keep warm, her shivering roared back like a hurricane until her teeth were chattering.
"I can't," she whispered, and then feeling her shame, "Sepharia, forgive me."
Lying on her side with her cracked, pink stump held against her chest like a babe, Heron watched the flickering glow against the window. She quickly found it was not stationary, and seemed to push against the window - part reflected flame, part shadow - taunting her with its warmth and destruction.
"All gone," she whispered through cracked lips. "All gone."
And though thirst wracked her burnt and broken body, she could not move even one muscle closer to the table, so she stayed on the hard wooden floor—cold and alone and awake.