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“State your name, state your business in the city of Aphrodisias.”

The man in front of him mumbled something and gestured to the cage of chickens he was carrying. The guard nodded and let him through, leaving Hermias at the front of the queue. “State your name, state your business in the city of Aphrodisias.”

The person immediately behind Hermias jostled him, impatient to get through the gate.

“Hermias, I am here for the games.”

“What land?”

“From the city of Athens.”

“Ah, a Greek, I thought you had the look of one of them. Do you have an invitation?”

“Aye, here.”

Hermias thrust the parchment toward the gate guard, who simply shrugged and stood aside to let him pass. Belatedly Hermias realised the man almost certainly couldn’t read.

The streets teemed with people of all nationalities and Hermias couldn’t help himself, gawking at all the marble buildings lining the streets. Although not as large a city as his, Athens, was obviously richer, still in its prime. The immediate pang of jealousy, as he compared the bright marble facades with his own run down home city, still living on its former glory, was ruthlessly suppressed. He was here on a mission. To win the Stadia Valodorium, the crowning event in the bi-annual games held in the magnificent stadium here. Pushing through the throngs of people, he asked directions of the merchants until he found the Inn of the Seven Grapes, where his sponsor had arranged lodgings for him until the day of the race.

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Short Stories

Romance stories are written under the nomme de plume of Marion Davids, and for straght historical work and sci-fi, he uses the name A.F. Allen. Alternative history stories are under his real name.

Will be published on 11-August-2009