The Hunt for Helen and Paris
The Hunt for Helen and Paris
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The Hunt for Helen and Paris is the third novel in a series of seven novels tracking the adventures of Petraeus from slave to king. Each novel has a different focus. Helen, Queen of Sparta, one of histories mythical character has absconded with Paris, a handsome Prince of Troy. Agamemnon, the most powerful king in Ancient Greece, has commissioned Petraeus to pursue the pair and bring them back. Petraeus, the Captain General of the fleet, tells the story of the hunt and the adventures of the fleet as they travel around the Great Sea. The adventures include solving a murder, discovering that there is a reward for his head and fighting off the bounty hunters, surviving a storm at sea, arriving in a land where Amazons keep the men drugged and here he meets the child Harmothoe, the daughter of Penthesilea the great Amazon General. In the port of Rhakotis Petraeus has a confrontation with Jarha and he learns about trade and commerce and the idea that it will dominate the world. Petraeus sails up the Nile and meets the great Pharaoh, Ramasses, who gives him a present of a sword made by Hephaestus. The fleet sails from Egypt only to run into a battle fleet that they defeat. They have adventures in Tyre where Petraeus confronts Ba’al. Petraeus is washed overboard from his ship and is enslaved to work in a quarry, escapes and is rescued. He makes it back to Greece but Ba’al has sent an assassin to kill him. Petraeus is included in the negotiating team of Odysseus, Menelaus and Palamedes to gain the return of Helen from Troy but the negotiations fail and war is declared.
The Hunt for Helen and Paris is the third novel in a series of seven novels tracking the adventures of Petraeus from slave to king. Each novel has a different focus. The Hunt for Helen and Paris is a sea adventure. Petraeus is involved in a number of adventures and meets a number of very different people. One of the people he meets is Ba’al. Below is their first meeting. We heard the sound. The deep beat of a drum, a hollow forbidding sound that sank deep into our very bones. At first it wasn’t loud, but it grew louder as it moved towards us. The people moved to the side of the road and away from us, and we were left isolated. The drum must have been a signal to clear the road, and the people assumed the beater was coming for us. We formed a square, and I stood in front of my soldiers with Argus by my side, just to my rear and facing the square of soldiers so he could respond and give orders. Our formation was tight. The road cleared of people, they just melted away and a small group, led by the drummer, moving in step and swaying in time with the drum as they came towards us. Was it a ceremony? No, we were clearly the targets of this procession. There was now a silence; no chattering, no movement of goods, no creek of wheels or clip of hooves, no braying or barking, just a foreboding, unsettling silence except for the hollow beat of the drum. Apart from the group before us we were entirely alone. It was unsettling. I could feel my heart thumping. My men took a firm grip of their weapons and shields. The drummer stopped, and the group with him stopped some ten paces before me. The group was an ill-assorted bunch: cripples, malformed in body and features, distorted and twisted; I’d never seen a gathering like it before. And then from the midst of this mal-assembly, a man approached. I assumed it was a man. I couldn’t tell as he wore a voluminous black cloak that touched the ground, with a black cowl that hid his face and head, but he was tall, at least two heads taller than me. I’d never seen a man this tall, even taller than Ramasses, and he was large of body, or the cloak gave that appearance. In one hand he held a long, thick black staff with a twisted bulbous top that came to his shoulder. The hand that grasped the staff was large and black, with an impression of great strength. The nails of the fingers were long, pale and thick, giving the impression of claws. He brushed back his cowl so I could see his eyes, but the lower part of his face remained covered. His eyes were dark, and in them there seemed to be a flash of red. Here was a man who wanted to make an impression, much like my master made an impression with his exquisite armour. The impression this man wanted to make was one of fear. We stood perhaps eight paces apart, the drummer behind him. I smiled. “Good day to you, sir, a nice day for a stroll.” As I’d learned from my king, say or do something unexpected when you don’t know what to do in a confrontation. The great head nodded. “You must be Petraeus — or should I address you as Barca of Barca?” “I answer well to Petraeus. I assume you are Ba’al.” “You haven’t come here to seek me, so you must be here for Paris and the woman Helen.” “My mission must be obvious to all those who listen to the words whispered on the wind.” “Indeed, but your search is more like a clap of thunder. It is so loud that those you seek run before it, like chickens before a fox.” “Then I don’t expect you can tell me where these particular chickens have run.” He laughed a deep rumbling laugh. “Oh, I cannot tell you; it would spoil the fun. I will tell you this. Paris is lower than the shit an unobservant man gets on the sole of his sandal, and when he gets back to Troy, he will tell them a merry tale of lies. When Menelaus comes for the return of his unfaithful wife, he will be rejected and there will be a war, a wonderfully beautiful, destructive war.” “How do you know?” The cowl slipped from his pockmarked face. He grinned showing sharp pointed teeth. “Men are such predictable creatures. You just have to think of the most stupid thing a man will do to stay in power or to put right a wrong he thinks has unjustly been placed upon him and that’s what he’ll do. The more arrogant the man the more stupid will be his actions. What can be more stupid than war and yet men continually go to war.” “You think war beautiful?” “Oh yes. Think of the pain and suffering of the soldiers, of the grief of the families of the soldiers who die or are dismembered, young lives full of potential to enhance mankind snuffed out before it has a chance to flourish. Think of the famine, poverty and disease created by war. What can be more beautiful? Only the creators of war, who don’t place themselves in harm’s way, benefit. Ah, what lack of justice, what misery creation? What more can I possibly want?” “Is there nothing to be gained by war then?” “Some, a few, will become rich, but the destruction for the many will outweigh the gain of the few. Some men will learn and grow, but many more will be crippled and die, and at the end there will be division and hatred, a constant, abiding hatred. Hatred that extends over the years until men have forgotten why they hate, and yet they do as their fathers did before them. For the many, there is no joy in war.”
Barry E. Johnson BA. Chartered MCIPD. MCMI Barry is married with two daughters and five grandchildren. He retired from the post of Research and Development Director, Learning Partners Ltd, in 2007 but has done done some part time work for them as an adviser until recently. Writing Writing fiction is a new departure for Barry and one that he has found totally absorbing. Barry has had published over forty articles as the lead contributor with a colleague in four publications. During his career he has written many technical documents and professional papers. In 2009 he completed the Open University course A174 Start Writing Fiction and the course Building Great Sentences taught by Professor Brooks Langdon, University of Iowa. Currently he edits the monthly Newsletter for Grove Place Village writes mix of events, advisory articles and short fictional stories. Qualifications: The Royal Navy trained Barry as an Avionics Engineer and he served for fourteen years. He holds a range of engineering qualification including being a Licensed Aircraft Engineer. Barry holds BA in Psychology and Management, is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and a Member of the Chartered Management Institute. He is a qualified further education teacher, psychometric test practitioner to level A and B and a Neuro-linguistic Programming Master Practitioner. Experience: After an early career in the Royal Navy, Fleet Air Arm as an Avionics Engineer, Barry trained pilots, flight engineers and licensed aircraft engineers in British Airways (then BOAC) and became the Principle Learning Systems Designer. He was the Chief Examiner Aircraft Electrical Craft Practice for the City & Guilds. Barry joined the Food, Drink and Tobacco Industry Training Board as a specialist advisor. He joined Nortel (then STC) as a training manager and, having held a range of HR management posts, eventually left in 1994 when he was the Director of the Learning Institute, Nortel Europe. Barry was one of the founders of Learning Partners Ltd in 1994. He has worked in the area of people development, mainly in competency framework and associated HR process design and implementation. He has extensive experience in designing assessment events for development and selection and is an experienced facilitator and assessor. Barry has designed and facilitated many different learning events for leadership, management and interactive skills. Other Barry’s main interest is now writing fiction but he also has interests as an advisor to professional trainers and developers, gardening, reading popular mysteries and thriller fiction, oil painting and keeping fit.

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