Dear people. As I embark on two months sabbatical one of the many opportunities I have is to finish another novel (whilst continuing to try and get the first one published). Here is chapter one. Wanna know what happens next? Nag me and buy it in three to five.
The strangers had dragged themselves across the rocks leaving their wrecked ship to break; their meagre possessions rescued by human chains. Now, as morning erupted orange they sat around a fire of driftwood and brush, warming themselves back to the miracle of life they feared lost.
Publius’ son Marco watched from the dunes as these many enjoyed his father’s hospitality. His people, vulnerable to conquest on the whim of many passing nations, knew only generosity as defence. The lad had been dismissed to his bed-mat to await his own breakfast, deemed too young to assist with the welcome, but sleep had not returned easily now light was here. So he watched.
A serp, chased by the licking flames took one of the strangers, perhaps the chief of them, digging its cruel bite into the man’s hand, there attaching itself. What fate is this? To be rescued from the wave-storm only to be bitten by a snake. What crime had the man committed that the gods so pursued him?
Yet this stranger, using skills so far unknown here, commanded the serp and it released its grip to be flung into the ashes, hissing away its viciousness. As the group awaited the stranger’s death he became even more animated, explaining his purpose and quest - not a victim of the gods but perhaps one of them himself. Such authority. Publius invited the party to stay, forgetting his own fever-ridden father. It mattered not. The fever too was rebuked and cooled and the old man’s stories remained on his lips.
The strangers’ cargo and possessions washed up on the shores for many days. Marco helped when he could, excited by the treasure that could be pulled from the water. This included the box he found, the seal and lock suggesting that even if it drown the water could never claim its contents. What small trinket could be so valued?
Marco enjoyed the company of the strangers. They made the sick well and brought happiness as his family shared their food. He felt slightly awkward that he had hidden away the box, although the strangers had lost so much they suspected nothing. He hid it in his special place on top of the hill where nobody would build, in a deep crack where the stones had parted.
He returned to open it, finding markings on small scrolls. He longed for the day he might understand them.
As he grew so did his understanding. He had hidden a map of distant shores. The location of a burial. Not treasure but bones. He lived with this mystery, keeping a carved map of the location of his own treasure close to him always. The hiding place scratched in stone, he knew that one day the box’s secrets could be his.
When illness claimed little Marco, the healing strangers long departed, his people buried him with his funny carved picture. So rarely separated from it in life, in death he kept its company. His grave was a cliff top, looking out in the direction of the departed strangers, that he might be the first they spied if ever they returned with the resurrection of which they spoke.