Again, a shipwreck.
The ungentle ocean gives them up at last to the rocky embrace of a beach. Spent, they drink in the sun, suck air deep into water-heavy lungs, shiver and choke in nervous release. Land!
No-One, stripped of identity no less than clothes, drives them together and further up the beach. “Beyond the tideline, lads. Let’s not give Tethys more sport.” They complain, voices grating as gulls, but they obey. Up, past reeking kelp, past the wrack of driftwood, and sink down among the larger pebbles of the shore.
Some quiver of the ground.
No-One has kept watch. They sleep; what else should they do? The sea has taken everything they had to give and demanded more. Rocks bump and slide together, birds burst from the mazed cloister of the trees. “Up, you fools!” he cries. “Into the woods!”
They are drunk with exhaustion. Some, luckier than the rest, or in whom long years have ingrained a history of obedience, shudder and quaver under the pines.
The rest are scooped up by bronze fingers the size of smokestacks and hurled back to sea. They arc wailing through the soft air to plunge fathoms deep beneath the playful waves. Talos keeps watch, but no heads emerge otterlike to trouble his shores. He plunges on, his second circuit but half begun.
Beneath the trees No-One drives his men further inland. “There’s no shelter for us here. Life lies in movement.” The mask slips; for a second he’s as tired as the rest, as mined of resource.
It passes; he moves. Of such are heroes made.