The Adventures of Phillip Part 2
Disheartened after learning I was in the furthest back of the backwater districts of Sparta instead of a glorious city in Egypt, I left the farmer behind and, trudging up the road, slumped down on a tree stump. Most of my coin had gone into paying for this trip, and even if the farmer had paid me more, I had nowhere to spend it, really. As the hot, Mediterranean sun beat a path across the sky, I sulked a bit. I thought back to my father’s small farm wistfully. It’s a sad day in a young man’s life when he looks upon backbreaking work with fondness. I’d have to walk home, all the way through Sparta, spending my time wandering through barely lit roadways rather than chasing women like I’d hoped to. Knees creaking, I started to stand but froze as I heard a sound in the bushes.
“There’s just one, but he’s awfully big.” The guttural whisper came from a nearby stand of tall grass. In the fading sunlight, I could see two brown figures sporting a pair of horns. Satyrs, it seemed, were not particularly adept at stealth. This did explain some of the stories I’d heard about Pan.
The other satyr’s voice had a vicious glee in it as he replied, “We’ll holler and whoop and run him off, and if he stays, we’ll eat him.”
I’d had just about enough at that point and, drawing myself up to my feet, I called out. “Come along then, eat me!” I was having a bad enough day already, and this couldn’t possibly make it any worse. They surged out of the grass waving their spears, their war shouts drawing three more of their brethren. I was faced with five armed satyrs, creatures of myth who had been terrorizing the countryside, and had second thoughts. It could probably get worse.
But as I gripped the last satyr’s head in both hands, turning it backwards with a loud and satisfying noise, I realized something important. Satyrs, while they look fierce, are lovers, not fighters. They probably spend most of their day lounging beneath trees and luring maidens into temptation, where I spent said days under the lash of the sun hauling rocks in my father’s field. For the first time ever I was grateful that, though the farm was small, the work was large. Scooping up one of the satyr’s spears, I winced, looking down at a deep cut in my side. Even lovers can cut to the quick.
I leaned on the spear as I hobbled up the road, eyes peeled for more satyrs. I couldn’t afford another fight now, especially with the sun setting, but I could see the fires of a small village just down the road. Little more than huts and a few houses, I limped into the town square, only to be confronted by an elderly man of considerable fatness. “Sir,” I heaved the word out, heart pounding. “Have you a healer here?”
He smiled widely, and replied “I am Diomedes, and we are a village in grave danger. You have the look of a hero, perhaps–”
I didn’t have time for this. “–If you don’t have a healer, I’ll soon have the look of a corpse!”
“How rude! Good day!” He was no help. I could feel my heart’s blood spilling into my sandals as I limped through the town looking for the staff of Asclepius, god of medicine. I fell over, and as my vision began to blur, I saw a smiling figure step from the shadows.
“Here boy, try one of these.” Uncorking a vial, he brought it to my lips, and I immediately felt better. I drained it, and my vitality was immediately restored. It was like ambrosia, the drink of the gods. Leaping to my feet, I brought my hand to my side to find that my wound had disappeared. A genuine miracle! “Thank you sir, how can I repay you?”
“Don’t worry,” he said, waving me off. “The first one is free.”
I tried to insist, but he refused, directing me to see the village elder instead. Returning to the centre of town, I found the elderly man who had introduced himself while I was bleeding out. “Excuse me sir,” I remarked, “I didn’t catch your name, because my heart was pounding in my ears the last time we spoke.”
“I am Diomedes, and our village is in need! A great satyr shaman torments the outlying farms, and is marshalling his forces against our poor town.” His jowls shook from the exuberance of his request, and a bit of spittle flew from his lips and landed on my face. Wiping it away, I sighed.
He raised his hands as if to ward off the very idea. “Nono, I’m the other Diomedes.”
There was no other Diomedes. “There is no other Diomedes,” I told him helpfully.
“Well yes,” He replied. “I suppose the important thing to note is that I’m not that Diomedes. Anyway, you look to have the blood of heroes in you, please help us!”
“Actually, I have the blood of farmers, and most of that is on the ground at your feet, if you recall our last conversation. And no. I’m going back home and avoiding any kind of satyr-related silliness. You’re on your own, Diomedes.”
He stammered, still seemingly unaware of the blood which had soaked into the dust around his feet. My blood, I might add. “B-but we’ll pay you! Everything we have, just eliminate the shaman who terrorizes our land and burns our fields!”
I had already walked away, but paused. I’d lost out on the cost of the trip, and I could use the coin. And how tough could a satyr shaman be when I had already killed more than half a dozen satyrs with only my dagger and my two hands? I didn’t want killing people for money to become a habit, but then again, satyrs weren’t exactly people, and they were being a genuine nuisance. Hefting my spear, I turned back.
“I’ll do it.”
Jim Tigwell is a freelance writer currently pursuing his Master’s degree in philosophy at the University of Waterloo, specializing in philosophy of social media, games, and professional ethics. He is the creator of Concept Crucible, a blog focusing on applying philosophy to everyday life. You can find him on Twitter as @ConceptCrucible, or on Steam.