Tobias dipped his tunic in the river. The heads of both a lion and the Emperor lay on the edge of the ground, staring at the undead Athenian. There was a time when the two decapitated heads, lying in the grass and staring at him with blank eyes would have scared him, but now they were just treasures of war. He had been a treasure of war, a slave made into a gladiator to fight for the people of Rome's enjoyment. He wondered how the Emperor liked it. At least the Emperor was lucky enough to be dead. Tobias grabbed a handful of his long hair, raised his sword slightly above the grabbed hair, and chopped it off. He then cut the hair on the back of his head, and the hair on his sides, then dunked his head itself into the river. He sat naked by the river quietly, looking down into the water. He wondered what was going on right now in Rome. What was happening to the two gladiators he'd seen at the Arena. Were the gladiators just killed? Were they set free? And what was Rome doing exactly about its absence of an Emperor, and the fact that a man who had skin that steel bounced off of had killed him? Tobias sighed and stood up. He walked towards the chariot and picked up the body of the Emperor, groaning under the rich man's weight. He dropped him down in the grass and pulled the drachma pouches off of his belt. He clipped them onto his own and picked up the Emperor again. He walked back over to the river and dumped the corpse in. He sighed again, watching the current take the Emperors body away. It was nice to be out in the forest. He'd been in forests for years, but not live forests. He'd been in the mortal world a day and a half now and still wasn't used to its beauty after having been trapped in the Underworld for so long. How long exactly had he been down there? The Emperor he'd killed certainly hadn't been the same Emperor as when Tobias himself was killed. He turned and looked at the head of the deceased ruler of Rome. So he'd killed the Emperor. Now what? The Roman soldiers surely would be on his tail. And there was still always the chance of Hades being upset about one of his souls escaping the Underworld, even if Tobias was just one soul. Was there anything Tobias could do to repay Hades? Do a favor for any of the gods to, if they were possibly mad about Tobias's escape, calm them? Tobias looked back down at the river. Poseidon. Was there something he could sacrifice to the god of the sea? He turned his heads and looked at the two horses. No, he wasn't at sea, and he doubted he could drown the horse in such shallow waters anyway, even if rivers counted. He shrugged, stood up, walked over to a tree, sat down, and rested upon, closing his eyes as he waited for his clothes to dry.
The sun shone down brightly, yet not so brightly to make a man sweat. It shone brightly, but at a nice speed. The gods were calmly watching down on the earth, Gaia taking care of the lands, Poseidon calming the seas, and Zeus keeping the skies clear. It was morning. The trees still cast shadows, the sun not having yet passed over them. The dew was on the grass, making it glisten. Sleep was still in everyone's minds, the time being too early to run, yet too late to sleep. The dusty dirt road was calm, empty save for a person or two occasionally walking down it, or perhaps a deer crossing it. At the moment Tobias was the only person walking down the road. He carried a satchel, slowly walking in a rhythmic pattern as his sandals began to gather dust. He didn't have any exact destination, he was just out for a walk. He could've taken the horses, but he felt like enjoying the mortal world while he could. He'd unclipped the lions head and the Emperors head from his belt and left them at the campground he'd made. All he wanted right now was some peace and quiet, and this was the perfect place for it. His pale skin was beginning to tan, and his forehead was now collecting rays of sun, hair no longer blocking it. No heads dangled by Tobias's side, no swords, no bows were strapped on to his back, all he carried was merely a tunic, pants, sandals, and a satchel with a few apples he'd taken off of trees while he'd been exploring. He suddenly stopped, and sat down, thinking about the apples. He opened his satchel and pulled out one, and bit into it. As he chewed on the delicious fruit, he looked around. Maybe the gods weren't mad. He surely was overreacting. None of the gods cared about one little man. So one man had escaped from the Underworld, so what? He'd killed an emperor, sure, but the gods didn't bother themselves with politics. At least he didn't think they did. But the Romans surely did. The Romans would eventually hunt him down, he knew. Stop it! Gods, he was getting paranoid! He could evade the Romans, he was indestructible. He just needed a strong gauntlet, and then he'd be set.
Tobias quickly finished the apple, wiped his hands off on his tunic, and stood up again. Trying to switch his mind off of the subjects of gods and Romans, he thought about where to go next. His hometown of Athens? No, it was run by Romans now, they'd kill him as soon as they saw him. Most of the places he'd ever been were run by Romans now. He had to get out of the area. There had to be some lands that the Romans didn't rule. But Rome and Greece were the only lands he knew, yet there still had to be other places in the world he could go. The Romans were strong and powerful, but they themselves weren't gods. What had he gotten himself into? If he'd only just never entered that Arena, he could have lived a peaceful life. Nobody would recognize the dead gladiator, no one remembered gladiators, they didn't pay attention to their names or faces. Besides, even if somehow somebody remembered him, they'd dismiss him as a dead man. But he just had to go to the Arena, and then he just had to go crazy and kill a bunch of Romans, plus the Emperor. Great, he was a crusader for Greece. Not even really a crusader, a crusader did several deeds for what he was crusading for, all Tobias was was an unpaid assassin, basically, just a crazy guy with a sword. He'd just killed the Emperor for Greece, and probably not a single Greek knew it. None of the Greeks even knew who he was. Well, that was the whole point of the Emperor's head. Well he wasn't going to just go and get killed by a bunch of Romans for nothing. He wasn't leaving.
Damasithymos dipped the blade in the steaming liquid, listening to the satisfying hissing sound as smoke rose from the tub. The left side of his face glowed from the fireplace shining on it, the other side of his face in darkness. He pulled the blade out. It had good balance. To the average person it would be heavy, being a greatsword, but to be a blacksmith you had to be strong, constantly swinging hammers and swords up and down. You also had to be used to heat, since the blacksmith's workshop was a very steamy place, filled with fire and smoke. It wasn't a very fun job, but Damasithymos considered it a gift from Hephaestus. Not many people would agree to taking the job of blacksmith, but Damasithymos had been good at steel-making since he was a boy, since his father started training him. The knights needed their weapons, and Damasithymos had just chosen not to be a knight after his brother was killed as a knight. He'd already been a blacksmith by then, though.
Damasithymos turned, hearing a knock at the door. He set the sword down by the tub and walked over to the door and opened it. Before him stood a pale man with a dirty face and a dirty tunic. From his waist hung a sword, one Damasithymos recognized as a guards sword, one that was nimble and easy to use, a satchel, and two heads, one of a lion and one of a man. Damasithymos recognized the head. He said nothing, seeing no danger in the man's eyes. They merely stared back at him.
"I need a gauntlet," the man said simply. He didn't attack Damasithymos, he didn't ask him if the fact that he carried the head of a lion and a ruler frightened him, he merely asked for a gauntlet. The blacksmith nodded in return, and walked back into his workshop. The man followed him in.
"What material do you wish for?" Damasithymos asked.
"I want the strongest gauntlet you have. The one that will be the hardest to penetrate. One for the right hand," the man said.
Damasithymos turned and said, "Is that all? Just a gauntlet? You seem relatively free of any other armor."
"A different kind of armor protects my skin, smith. I merely wish for a gauntlet," the man said.
"I'll see what I can find," Damasithymos said, and began for the back room.
"I think I'll come with you," the man replied, and began to follow Damasithymos. The two entered the back room, and Damasithymos began browsing the shelves for a strong gauntlet.
"So tell me, what kind of armor protects your other skin?" the smith asked.
"A blessing from the River Styx," the man said. Damasithymos turned and looked at him.
"The Styx?" he said.
The man nodded. Damasithymos grinned.
"Tell me exactly, how did you get to the River Styx, O great traverser of the Underworld?" the smith jokingly asked.
"I died," the man blandly replied.
"Oh, and I suppose you then escaped The Realm of Hades, eh traveler? Get out of my shop, I doubt you have any money," Damasithymos said. The man pulled out his sword. Damasithymos looked down at the blade.
"Tell me if you don't believe me, how did I kill the Emperor, and this lion, and the guard who I got this sword from, if I didn't have the blessing of the Styx?" the man asked. Damasithymos suddenly knew his type. The proud type. The arrogant type.
"You're just a thief who stole some assassin's loot," the smith said.
"Maybe. But I still have a sword, and you may be surrounded by swords, but do you dare try to reach for a sword when a man who may have slain a lion stands before your very eyes?" the traveler inquired. The smith looked down at the blade for a second. He snatched a gauntlet off the shelf and threw it at the traveler. He looked down at it, then swung his sword as hard as he could. It nearly broke the gauntlet in half.
"I said your strongest, smith," the man said. The smith looked him in the eyes meanly, then went back to browsing the shelves. The traveler kept his sword raised.
"Where lies your homeland, smith?" the traveler asked.
"Apollonia," the smith said.
The traveler was silent in return.
"Where do you venture from?" Damasithymos asked.
"I am an Athenian," the man said.
"Is that why the head of the emperor of Rome lays clipped to the belt of your tunic?" Damasithymos asked.
"Yes," the traveler said.
The smith was merely silent. The silence continued for a moment until Damasithymos pulled a gauntlet off the shelf.
"I recommend you don't go scratching this one. You won't break it, but it won't look like quite so beautiful a piece of work," the smith said. The traveler merely took the gauntlet, set it down on the ground, and struck it again with his sword. A scratch ran across it, but it didn't dent at all. Keeping his blade raised towards the smiths stomach, the traveler kneeled down and picked it up. He put it on and stretched his fingers a bit. It fit well, and the fingers moved comfortably, good enough to clamp around the handle of a sword.
"How much does it cost, smith?" the man asked.
"4 drachmas," Damasithymos replied. The man frowned, obviously upset by the price, but opened his satchel and pulled out a purse. He handed it over to the smith, then turned around and began to open the door.
"Wait! Tell me, traveler. I won't attack you, but was it merely a way to frighten me, or do you really have the skin of the hero Achilles?" Damasithymos asked. The traveler turned. He held his right hand behind his back.
"Strike me in the chest, smith," the traveler said. The smith hesitated.
"Go ahead and strike me, I said, smith. If you kill me somehow, you can merely say I was a thief. You could even get a reward for catching the man who killed the Emperor, but don't try to kill me with my back turned. I killed the Emperor to avenge Athens, and you yourself are a Greek. So strike me across the chest, smith, but only across my torso or legs," the man said. Damasithymos picked up a sword and swung it hard at the man's chest. It bounced off. The smith stared in astonishment at the traveler.
"Goodbye, smith," the traveler said, and was off.