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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Shrewdness (03/07/05)

TITLE: Here Be Dragons
By Lisa Smith


From: “Dave Phelps” daphelps@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk
To: “Murray Jones” mrjones@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk
Internal e-mail

Murray - here’s the text of that manuscript you guys dated for us last week. It’s creating quite a buzz over here. John thinks the guy who found this is going to make a considerable amount of money! Have you got anything from the ink samples yet? The translators confirm that it’s in the common Latin of your timeline. I have copied it below. The comments in brackets are mine.

I know this could be difficult, but John thinks you should run the tests again. There could be media interest, and we want to make sure. Can you narrow it down more specifically? 200-400 CE is a pretty long time! John’s proposing an inter-department meeting, to get everyone’s input before we go public. Is tomorrow noon good for you?

[it begins mid-sentence.]

...and the crops are the best we have had so far. The winds have been favourable, and I’m looking forward to the arrival of my merchant ship sometime this month. By this time next month I will have more gold than I had ever hoped. I am making plans to expand the vineyard - I’ll need to get more slaves when I go meet the ship.

Publius spoke of a strange rumor he heard in town yesterday - people are disappearing mysteriously. Some talk of a winged beast or some nonsense. He said the commoners are getting quite worked up about it. They obviously have too much time on their hands!

August 4
Octavia has had one of her dreams. She was quite upset. She has been listening to too many of Publius’ tales. [text too faded to decipher here]....has said that Janus is nowhere to be found. Gone off to meet a woman, I suspect. Of course Publius says it’s the beast.

August 6
I could not find Publius today. Octavia is beside herself. It does seem odd. He was last seen going out to the vineyard to talk to the overseer. Some of the slaves spoke of a shadow, and one said he saw a creature circling high in the sky. Even after beating him he swore it was not an eagle.

[the next few pages are indescipherable: stuck together, scorched, and water-marked]

...holy man that lives out in the wilderness. Octavia insists I go to him, to find out what to do. It’s ridiculous, of course, but I... [faded]

August 8
Today I spoke to the holy man. I took the remaining guards with me. I had to promise them 5 months wages in advance. Ridiculous. They did not want to go out in the open. The man was sitting outside of his small hut when we arrived. I insisted we speak inside. I told him that my wife had heard that he knew all about this beast, and how to protect ourselves. I offered him gold (which I had brought with me). The stupid man would not accept it. I found out he is one of the followers of the Christ, that strange [unclear: Corey suggests “sect”[ of the Jews. He admitted he knew of the beast, but said he had an “understanding” with it, and it would not harm him. Something to do with his religion, and his belief in this Christ. He wanted us to believe too, said that was our only hope. These religious types are all the same. I told him I was not interested, and asked him again what we needed to do to protect ourselves. The man could not give a straight answer, and I confess my temper broke and I struck him. He finally said that if I really wanted something to do, that I should love god and serve others, but he seemed unsure if... [pages missing]

.... came early this morning. She was taken right from the courtyard. I caught a glimpse of it flying away. My poor Octavia, it’s too much. How can this be happening? My only hope is to go to town, but it’s too late. I should have listened to Octavia, gone sooner. I could have paid the centurion to bring his men here. The others have scattered. I am alone. I am [heavily crossed out words] I hear it now. It’s coming for me. I know it. I have no hope. I will... [text ends]

PS. Have you heard from Gord yet? He’s not answering my calls either. Maybe “the beast” got him! Ha ha.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Leticia Caroccio03/14/05
Very interesting and creative. Great title, too. Nicely done.
Delores Baber03/15/05
Fantastic story! I love a good allegory and I assume this is one, with the dragon representing Satan or death, which one can only be protected from in Christ. Love to read more of your writings. You belong in the advanced group.
Delores Baber03/15/05
One more comment. As fasinating as the story is I don't see how it ties into the theme of shrewdness. He seems to totally lack insight, which, of course, will be the death of him.
Sally Hanan03/15/05
Cleverly done.
donna robinson03/16/05
I think perhaps the shrewdness was in the Holy Man who understood that to deal with the beast was to deny its hold? One man was wise and the other foolish? Great imagery here