The Odyssey of BARYPOS of TEGEA Chapter 3 [Part 1] All at Sea

The Odyssey of BARYPOS of TEGEA

Earlier parts of the story here

Chapter 3 [Part 1]   All at Sea

The adventures in Hellenistic times of four adventurers [set in 270bc]

With Gisal free and a very happy Alexander and they expect Telamon the Gold, they look forward to working with him on his voyage.

What further adventures await Barypos and his friends?


Next day our heroes go to see Telamon the Gold he tells them that he is undertaking a last personal trading mission and requires good, loyal  companions to protect him.  Telamon is willing to pay each character 100 Drachmae for each whole or part of a months work, paid at the end of the journey. In return, they must say nothing of their task and swear a oath to protect him and keep quite about the mission for all time.  He says he will happily stable any animals for the duration of their work. with him. As it is mid summer [late Loios] he wants to leave as soon as possible so they will not end up facing the autumn storms. They agree to his terms and they go off to prepare to leave in the morning. Archi spends a few hours making potions for his fellows to take to avoid being sea sick.  Then he and Telamon say good bye to their animal friends.


In the early morning Barypos sacrifices a goat as a libation to Orpheus, while Telamon does the same to Hercules. Jason watches the morning birds to divine Tranquil seas for their journey.  Once they reach the ship named Iris for a minor goddess which is the patron of Telamon’s family. Iris is the personification of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. She is also known as one of the goddesses of the sea and the sky, she links the gods to humanity. She travels with the speed of wind from one end of the world to the other, and into the depths of the sea and the underworld. Worshipers – Seafarers; Temples – Many coastal towns and villages have Modest shrines to this cult. The merchant galley is a well crafted and elegant trader, with her figurehead carved into the form of a dolphin rising from the waves. Her sails are multi coloured befitting her name, the goddess of the rainbow. Archi offers the others his potion and all drink of it. Then after Telamon the Gold offers up a libation of wine to Iris and all the gods especially Neptune. 


The Merchant  Galley Iris – is a small merchant ship of the type cruising among the islands of the Aegean Sea and the Euxine. with upgraded free-boards with latticed guards and side ladders and looking bowl shaped. The main mast in the middle of the ship carries a gay-coloured mainsail, there is also another sloping mast on the bow of the ship that was a little lower than the first one and it carries a square sail. This small sail is more comfortable in storms Unlike war galleys these ships had stronger masts which were not designed to be lowered. The Isis like many Merchant ships hulls has thin lead below the waterline to protect against bore-worms.  They could with difficulty be pulled up on the shore as they had shallow draughts due to shallow waters in local ports. This ship is 18 m in length and 3 m in width 4m deep and can carry around 2,000 amphora. Most products were carried in amphora’s. The capacity of a Greek amphora averaged 30 litres [30Kg; 30 = 1CuM].  Two steering oars are fastened to the ship’s hull and it can also deploy nine oars a side which can be used to move the ship at around one league an hour, faster for short bursts (3-6km/h). Or to help if under a light wind or a wind not in the right direction.. Its Speed is around 16 leagues [96km] in a day under combined sail and oar. In good wind it can gather speed to 2 leagues an hour (12 km/h). The Iris’s Crew consists of a Helmsman, a Piper to set time plus 20 Sailor/rowers.  It is carrying stores of  one week of fresh and prepared food, Vegetables, Oil, Bread,  Wheat, Honey Cakes, Cheese,  Dried Fish, Fruit and Wine in 12 Amphora’s. Also a cargo various mixed trading goods in 1500 Amphora’s [Wine, Oil, Fruit, Honey, Cinnabar and fancy Armour]



The Iris is rowed out of the harbour, in the early morning, and then the crew set the sails as the ship turns into the swell and heads north westwards towards Heraclea, the furthest west city of Pontus about five days away, slowly leaving the sight of land just a smudge on the horizon.  The sea is gentle allowing a smooth start to the voyage, only Barypos feels sea sick, so Archi claims success for his potion.


The weather is good, the sea calm, the sun shining, and schools of dolphins run ahead of the Iris as she cuts through the waves under her sails. A couple of hours or so later once land is just a smudge on the horizon  Telamon calls his companions to the prow of the ship where he stands watching the dolphins pursuing the hull. “This is a good sign,” he says. “Dolphins are the sons and daughters of the goddess Iris and this shows she is with us.” He tells his companions they are bound for the island of Iaxos but they are not to tell the sailors yet, he will later.  His companions recall some stories about Iaxos and ask Telamon about them. “The stories are partially true,” Telamon says. “The inhabitants of the island are the descendants of a rebellion against the Mad Tyrant Akretes of Tyras. They are savages now, but once they were civilised. For reasons important to myself and my family, I must travel to Iaxos and its temple to Adrestia, braving these savages. The crew may remain with the ship but you, my hired companions, will act as my escort.”


The island of Iaxos is about 20 miles across and is one of innumerable small islands south of the Greek cities of the Northern Euxine. Two hundred years ago, rebels who sought to destroy the Tyrant  Akretes were driven out of the city of Tyras of the Euxine and they fled to Iaxos, successfully hiding on this small, mountainous island and planning revenge. The rebels were worshippers of Adrestia  and built a temple to her in the natural caves of the island, where the cult’s leaders planned and trained for the day when they would take revenge against Akretes once more.

The rebels did not remain hidden for long. King Akretes paid highly for information about where the rebels had taken refuge and eventually learned of Iaxos. He sent the Scarlet Spears to root them out and destroy them. After bitter fighting, the leaders of the rebellion were dragged back to Tyras where Akretes had them publicly executed stoned to death at the base of the stairs of the Temple of Zeus.

Yet the rebels had one, last ace to play. Knowing their days were numbered, the priests and priestesses of the Adrestia cult petitioned their goddess and were heard. Akretes was cursed soon after the rebel leaders were executed the corrupt and decadent Tyrant choked to death on a chicken bone and those nobles who had backed him died, one-by-one, in mysterious circumstances.

Over the centuries the cult has dwindled. The original founders are long dead, but some of their descendants still live on Iaxos and worship Adrestia. Cut-off from civilisation they have degenerated into primitive savagery with crude rites and barbarous practices. Iaxos is shunned and many are the tales of cannibals and monsters brought-back to Tyras from sea-farers and merchants. Tyras is an  Greek city on the northern coast of the Black Sea, along with Olbia and others. It was founded by colonists from Miletus, probably around 300 plus years ago to supply grain. The city was situated some back from the mouth of the Tyras River so it could trade with the surrounding native tribe, which are called the Tyragetae.

The next five days are filled with the sound of waves upon the hull and the wind straining the mast. As the galley travels around 15 Leagues a day,  Each evening they pull into the shore and camp for the night, occasionally at a village where Telamon will entertain the elders and trade.

The first night is not at a village and their sleep is disturbed by the sounds of lions eating and wolves howling in the dark, but with a fire and a large number of people they are in no danger. The second night is spent in a small coastal village, the crew get to spend the evening relaxing. In the morning just before they row away the village elders approach and tell Telamon the Gold that one of his sailors has been accused of sex with a slave girl without permission. The sailor denies this and says he paid her for her favours, Archi watches his and the slaves body language and says he believes the sailor. With that sorted the crew feeling slightly angry row out into the swell and sets sail again.. Evening three is again in the open, with no trouble. The last evening before reaching Heraclea they again spend the night in a fishing village. Again the crew get to spend the evening in the village and again before they leave next morning the elders complain of a sailor attacking a slave girl. This time Archi decides that the girl is telling the truth and the sailor lying, he is fined ten drachmae which is given to the slaves owner. Before they set out again Telamon addresses the whole ships crew, he lays down the law to them all, telling them that any other trouble will be held against them all as its there responsibility to make sure they all behave. If there is any other trouble it will come out of all their payment at the end of the voyage and not just the perpetrators.

Day Five – with a gentle breeze behind them they soon see the city state of  Heraclea ahead. There is a lot of ship activity around this city as ships come in from Greece via the narrows or prepare to head out to Greece.  Telamon tells the crew that they will be spending one day in the city for some trading, replacing stores etc, however Telamon wants all of his companions to stay on board as security he will go with his two slaves to do what needs to be done also the crew are limited to the dock area only and then only half at a time. Day six is spent at harbour, with the sounds and smells of a bustling port around them, slaves come and go taking cargo some of it from the Iris and others arrive with fresh food supplies. Jason talks to local sailors and hears that Thracian pirates have been seen to the west, then he watches the birds, with both Telamon’s Braypos and the helmsmen,  to see if they will have trouble. He feels that they will not encounter pirates at sea. Meanwhile Archi talks to Telamon the Gold about having oily rags for his belly bow so he can use them against any pirate ships, Telamon says that it will not be effective on a wet ship but might work on sails if the attacking ship has them up.

Next morning, day seven, the ship is rowed out of the harbour and sail is set again as they continue west towards the narrows and then north. Six leagues out from Heraclea a violent storm comes up and they are soaked by heavy rain as the ship rolls on the waves, but the ship is in no danger, however it does take damage to its hull and sail.  Afterwards the rainbow of Iris marks there direction as Telamon tells them that due to some sleight damage to the hull they need to find a safe place to do some repairs.

He says there is a small fishing village not more than 3 leagues ahead, pointed to by the rainbow, where they can stop he knows the locals there from past trading. The village is run by a few elders. This little village harbour is Morska Riba. As they get closer, Archi up the mast, can see smoke rising from the village and the wreckage of several fishing boats along with a small merchant ship are clearly visible in the harbour. As they get closer still, he is able to make out prone bodies, lying on the dockside.

Once the Iris is tied up and secure, a group of armed men drift warily out of hiding. One of the older men approaches and asks them [in Klone] their business and who they represent. The companions introduce Telamon. When he hears this, the old man relaxes a little and welcome them, albeit in a sad fashion.

“Men of Greece, I invoke old friendships and call upon your aid at this sad time. I am Duris. My daughter, Clio was last night taken from us by Men of the Sea led by someone called Mucatra the Thracian along with a rescued sailor Geleon Bololoxy of Rhodes the only survivor of a merchant ship caught in a storm. Many of our warriors lie dead and those that remain are needed for the protection of what is left. I ask that you return Clio to us and rescue Geleon.”  Archi recognises Geleon as a cousin.
The village survivors, of the pirate raid, offer to help to repair the Iris and to provide a new sail along with provisions. The repairs will take till evening to complete so they plan to set sail at first light. Telamon the Gold says of course they will do what they can, he does want to keep up good relations, while Archi of course is eager to rescue his cousin. The ohers all say yes but wonder what a small trading ship can do against a raiding party.  Archi sets about healing locals doing his best where he can make a difference.  Barypos asks Duris about the raiders and finds out that they arrived in a Hemioloa. There where about thirty warriors lead by a big Thracian with a two handed chopper.


Hemioloa: – a light and fast warship particularly favoured by pirates in the eastern Mediterranean, but also used by Alexander the Great as far as the rivers Indus and Hydaspes. Its name derives from the fact that it was manned by one and a half files of oarsmen on each side, with the additional half file placed amidships, where the hull was wide enough to accommodate them. Thus these ships gained motive power without significantly increasing the ship’s weight. They had 15 oars on each side, with a full file of ten and a half file of five, the latter possibly double-manning the middle oars instead of rowing a separate set of oars. Given their lighter hulls, greater length and generally slimmer profile, the Hemiolia has an advantage in speed even over other light warships.
The next morning, day eight, they find that the seas are choppy once out of the harbour, but the wind is fair. They have been told that the Hemioloa headed north west and so that is the way they head in pursuit. Telamon the Gold tells them that it is likely that they came from around the area of Bregedava, a sizable settlement 50 Leagues away a few days sailing to the north west on the Thracian coast, North of Byzantium. The Iris glides forward with a following wind as though the Iris herself wants to aid them. A mist descends for a short period, becoming dense then partly clears so that the coast can be seen. Land is a lot closer than expected but not dangerously so. around a stadia away. Archi aain up the mast can see several bodies on the beach, while carrion birds circle the area. Archi climbs down and the companions put their armour and weapons on, just in case. Telamon orders the Iris to close with the beach and as they get close enough the four of them jump down to examine the beach and the bodies.  They find ten bodies all Thracian and they appear to be several days old. They loot the bodies and find:-  2x Javelin, 4 x Small Rhomphaia, 3x Dagger, 2x Pelte needing repair, 2x damaged Sheep skin Cloak, 10x Phrygian cap’s non of which they bother with and a handful of Obol’s which they give to the crew. Among the bodies are a multitude of strange broken arrow parts with slim Golden shafts and slivery feathers. The arrows are strangely tipped also with a slivery metal.  Only five of these arrows are useable. Enough parts can be collected for a smith to make a small sword or a few Akon’s, this will require a formable blacksmith, as this is strange metal. Our heroes remember legends which tell of Amazons who used such arrows made by Hephaestus, but they, as far as they are aware, vanished hundreds of years ago. Telamon and the others feel that hanging around would be a bad idea as they do not want to fight such warriors, so they re-board the Iris again offering prayers of thanks to the gods.

As they sail Jason examines the five arrows he has picked up, using his devotion to Apollo he focuses on them.  These arrows are special made of Brass and Adamantine metal’s of the gods he also finds that one of them has a god like effect ‘Pierce’ on it which allows with the right divine direction the arrow to get past armour easier. Jason thanks Apollo and puts these precious items in his quiver.
As they leave the beach area they head back into mist and then exit into bright sunshine, they realise that this is a mysterious island. They reset the sail and continue their pursuit.  The next two days they continue to head towards and along the Thracian coast, being very careful with their night camp.  As dusk starts to fall on the tenth day and before they reach Bregedava, which is a few more hours away, they come across a small Thracian settlement that consists of a wide beach with enough space for up to four ships one Hemioloa is pulled up on the beach. Fires can be seen in a fortified camp behind the beach with a hall, stables, blacksmith, tannery, and an assortment of houses. The settlement is surrounded by a 12’ tall wooden palisade with a single fortified gate.  Archi up the mast again can see roughly a few handful of warriors, a lot of women and children, along with male and female slaves. Some warriors are standing at the gate with a few others patrolling around the inside.

A quick discussion and they head for a small cove and beach the ship can put into about 8 Stadia  away from the settlement, from there they will be able to decide what to do next.

See next time….





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