Eumaios and the Skunks (Part 3)

Michael O. Varhola

Read Part 1 or Part 2 of "Eumaios and the Skunks"

Unfortunately, Eumaois did not have with him most of the gear he needed for battle, and so he had to return home before embarking on his journey. With that in mind, he quickly purchased some foodstuffs in the agora, stuffed them into his haversack, and headed back the way he had come just an hour before.

Eumaois made it home in good time, descended into his basement lodgings and uncovered a hidden aperture in the floor where he kept his military weapons and armor, and began to sort through it and select the items he would take with him. He quickly assembled a pile of such gear, and this included his crescent-shaped, hide-covered wicker shield, his pelte; a bag of two-dozen perfect sling bullets that he had collected in dry stream beds during his rambles; and his broad-bladed shortsword, the quintessential "sword of Kos" that was the weapon of choice for many of his countrymen. Items he left behind included the masterwork breastplate that he had stripped from the body of an Anatolian non-commissioned officer so many years before; he knew that he might appreciate it sometime in the coming days, but it was heavy and he had many miles to go and he believed that time was of the essence at this point.

The old warrior then stepped over to the small shrine he had erected in a niche in the wall, knelt before it on the fragment of carpet he had placed there, and said a prayer before the foot-tall bronze idol it contained.

"Lord Odysseus, watch over me in the coming days," he began. "Guide my footsteps quickly to the place I must go and there grant me fortune and your protection ... " Over the decades Eumaois had said plenty of prayers to Lady Athena for prowess in battle, had uttered any number of oaths in the name of Lord Ares, but it was to the demigod Odysseus and not to these greater gods that his heart was drawn; those lofty beings were certainly more powerful than the deified hero he called upon now, but they were also presumably somewhat further away and considerably busier. He felt that wily Odysseus was much more likely to heed his supplications, and he had prayed and made offerings to him ever since he had acquired the