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Gifts of the Gods: Silver and Gold

Excerpt

Syracuse, Sicily
The 12th day of Pyanepsion
October 23, 421BC
== Cathryn ==

The smooth stone walls were cold to the touch and Cathryn felt a chill run down her spine when she landed on the hard marble floor of the quarry 30 feet below. The temperature had dropped 15 degrees since she descended the rickety wooden ladder and she unconsciously tugged her pale blue chiton tighter across her shoulders.

The woman derived only a small measure of comfort when she spied the large gathering of men and women watching her progress from the safety of the high ground. Four other women had accompanied her to the bottom of the quarry and were now spread out in search of the piglets. There was a rank odor to the place, and the small, lonesome sagebrush a few feet away gave her the feeling of death and decay. We're here for a reason, she thought to herself, hoping to stave off her fears. Best get on with it.

The enormous marble quarries were situated north of the city walls, two off to the west and this one, the largest of the lot, nestled among the limestone cliffs to the east. The natives of Sicily had carved out marble blocks from these parts for several centuries and their presence was influenced in the stately temples of Apollo and Zeus which stood on hills overlooking the region. There were several caverns hewn into the brilliant white marble walls but there was no natural exit down here. The only means of descent or escape lay with the thin ladders brought down from the rim high above.

She was nervous but dared not show it. Even so, she wished she could go back up now. She wasn't sure she wanted to face what lay down here. Cathryn was a mother of two young children and, at age 34, she was content with her life. Even so, she realized it was fun to break out of the normal restrictive lifestyle once in a while. Was that what had led her to jump into the middle of this cold, desolate quarry?

Silver and Gold