What Just Happened?
Seanan struggled to his feet. He had been having a good time, but the scent of morning was in the air, and birds stirred in their nests. It was time to finish this celebration so that he could attend to the duties of the day. Unsteady, he had to step closer to Gutun to grasp the cup. He drank a good measure and then tried to decide who should have it next.
Gutun bumped Seanan’s arm, knocking the cup aside. He snatched it, poured in another full measure, and with a wide grin handed it back to Seanan, nudging him toward Rueben.
Irritated, Seanan drew back. He hated it when Gutun touched him. Such long, dirty fingers made him feel as if death were trying to grab him. Instinctively, he did the opposite of what Gutun wanted. Alexios certainly looked like he needed a drink.
With furrowed brow and confused eyes, Alexios shook his head in refusal.
Quick to save Alexios any discomfort, Marcus accepted on his behalf. He took the cup and drank deeply. Gutun’s cheeks flushed, and he seethed with spittle forming on his lips. He clawed at the cup.
“This was your idea. Remember?” He looked around and met Rueben’s stern expression. Clearly, he rebelled at the thought of drinking to a foreign god. Only Georgios and Ian were left.
Gutun’s fingers darted as he spluttered, “Give it to me! It’s not your place to offer to the gods!”
Weariness mixed with rage boiled Seanan’s blood. “Oh? Why don’t you enjoy good fortune yourself! Here, take a drink!” He smashed the cup into Gutun’s face.
Gutun jerked backward.
Georgios stood and reached for the cup. “Stop. I’ll drink. Then we can end—”
Ian called out. “Wait! Something is wrong with the Roman.”
Marcus clutched the air as spasms rippled over his body.
Ian jerked forward, knocking Seanan aside.
The mead splashed on Gutun’s face. “Aye!” He leapt to his feet, frantically wiping his lips.
All eyes snapped to Marcus as he fell limp, his eyes wide and terror-stricken. The frantic struggle, sudden and horrible, ended abruptly.
Alexios screamed, “No!” as he grabbed Marcus’ tunic and shook him as if to wake the man from slumber.
Georgios knelt at his father’s side, pried his fingers free, and closed Marcus’ eyes.
As one body, all eyes turned to Gutun.
Gutun jumped to his feet and pointed accusingly from Marcus to Alexios and finally to Rueben. His high-pitched scream sent early birds screeching from their nests into the dawn. “The gods have judged! They are guilty of heinous crimes. Kill them, now!”
A raucous din of voices rose as clansmen argued in favor or against the clan priest.
Seanan thrust his arms into the air, demanding silence. His voice matched his mood, furious and quite sober. He glared at Gutun. “I was going to offer that cup to my son! Georgios, who fought against our enemy, was about to drink from that cup! Of course, you wanted me to give it to Rueben first!” Rage blinded Seanan. “You wanted me to poison your rival? You devil!” Seanan swung at Gutun, but his encounters with the resplendent jug of ale ruined his aim.
The fearful crowd sobered quickly, offering no response.
Tainair grabbed Gutun’s shoulder. “You’ve escaped the punishment due to a traitor once too often. We can’t trust you to live any longer.”
Ronan stepped up and gripped Gutun’s other shoulder. Together, the two men forced Gutun onto his knees. Seanan slipped his knife from his belt.
Stunned, Gutun stared wild-eyed, his gaze darting around the crowd. “The gods will demand your blood if you harm a hair—”
Georgios clutched Ronan’s arm. “Wait! I was an outsider and yet you welcomed me. My father was your enemy, and yet you allowed him to live. You have done no wrong in offering forgiveness. Let me take Gutun into exile. Then you will be free of him without blood on your hands.”
Seanan glared at Georgios as he spoke, his words flying in a spluttering spray. “I don’t mind killing him, Georgios! It will be my pleasure!” He stared hard at Gutun. “I will rid the world of his treachery!”
His arms flapping helplessly, Georgios shook his head. “But—”
Rueben gripped Gutun’s shoulder, as if claiming him. “He meant to kill me, so he’s mine.”
Seanan tried to regain control of the situation. “He must die!”
Rueben stared Seanan in the eye. “In the end, he may prefer death.” In silent understanding, Georgios and Rueben asked for rope, bound Gutun hand and foot, and led him away.
Seanan faced his eldest son. “What just happened?”
With red-rimmed eyes and a face drained of all color, Ian offered a weak smile. “Many think that the gods will seek vengeance if we kill their priest. This way, if he lives or dies, it’ll be the providence of the gods.”
Seanan pursed his lips in a petulant pout. “It won’t break my heart if he falls overboard during the journey. He’d survive. He’s the sort that always does.”
A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
Make the most of life’s journey.
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“Nice adventure book interlaced with sacred moments.”
“…romance, trial, and faith.”
“A wonderful story of adventure and courage…”
“Inspiring tale for young and old.”
In the first century AD, Georgios, must battle a world of dark secrets, deceptive promises, and hope renewed to discover the true meaning of fatherhood. A mysterious alien condemns the human race, but the watching universe looks to humanity for renewed strength.