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Chapter 2 - Hanno’s Gate

When the automatic doors of the airport terminal slid open, a sultry female voice announced, “The temperature is currently twenty-nine degrees.” She continued to make pronouncements in several other languages.

“Feels like ninety,” Anya commented, glad for the breeze that carried through the gray stone, open-air facility.

“That’d be twenty-nine times one point eight plus thirty-two, equals eighty-four point two. You were pretty close,” Harlie replied.

There were no rental car counters, restaurants, vending machines, or baggage carousels. Other than a unisex public restroom sign on a bathroom door, there were no signs pointing anyone in any direction whatsoever. A silver-blue tram waited in front of the terminal. The only worker there was the tram driver whose nametag read: “Alonzo.” As the other passengers scrambled for a place in line, Alonzo scanned their luggage with a wand, and loaded them into the compartments under their seats.

Anya was about to give him her backpack for inspection, but Harlie called from behind her. “Sorry, but I gotta pee.”

Anya stepped back and slung her pack back over her shoulder, pouting as she watched Harlie disappear into the restroom. With nothing to do but wait, she scanned the tram for the teenagers in the purple polos. She figured they must be from the school Mr. Quinn was running. She caught sight of them as they sat just in front of the businessman in the gray suit who took the last seat just before the tram jerked forward and left the terminal. She sighed and checked the schedule. The next tram was due in twenty minutes.

“Way to go, peanut bladder!” Anya said when Harlie got out of the restroom. “The tram’s gone.”

“It was full, anyway. We can walk,” he suggested. “It’s a mile and a half—two tops—from the airport to the edge of town.” Harlie slid his finger from the airport symbol to the word Lylit. “We’ll take Terminal Road to The Circle. That’ll take us into town.”

“Alright,” Anya answered, “but hurry up, I’m hungry!”

 

Once they passed the airport gates and turned onto The Circle, Harlie assessed the slow steady incline toward the main street of the harbor town.

“Easy hike,” he said, pulling out the map. “Maybe we can split some fries at the harbor.”

One of the first buildings they came to—a large two-story stone building with fat white columns and a slate porch—was a bank. Next to the hours listed was a line that read: “Closed Bank Holiday, August Seventeenth.”  

Anya sighed, “Well, at least they speak English on the island.”

Anya pointed to the map. “Look! There’s Hanno’s Walk! We’re just two blocks away. Second street on the left.”  

The twins continued on The Circle, passing a fire station on the harbor side and then Três Imprimir, a warehouse that specialized in 3-D printing to their north. Bicycles, scooters, and a few utility vehicles dotted the street, but no cars. They found Hanno’s Walk and took a left. The narrow cobblestone street was lined with wide sidewalks and bike racks. Café tables and chairs sat empty outside of darkened shop windows. Purple and gold confetti lay strewn over the pavement. But only a few stragglers graced Hanno’s Walk. Two men descended a steep hill ahead of them, talking as they ambled toward town. One was dressed in seersucker and smoked a pipe. The other, looking somewhat disheveled, sweated in his greasy white tank top as he walked his golden retriever.

A little closer, a couple of shopkeepers talked across the empty street. One of them, an older, bearded gentleman, not much taller than Harlie, laughed at the other, a small-framed woman, as she swept around her storefront and fussed over the confetti.

“Hello,” Harlie said tentatively, as he approached. “Uh, do you know where we can find something to eat?”

The woman’s mouth twitched slightly before she said, “Monsieur, you have found the place, but, ah—unfortunately, the shops are closed today.”

“Not all of the shops, Olivia. I am open.” The man’s voice was deeper than Harlie had expected, and reminded him of his Brazilian divemaster.

“Unless they eat oars, I doubt you’ll be of much help to them,” Olivia observed. She ran her thin fingers through her sable curls. She was pretty, but uninviting. “I need to get some work done, excusez-moi.” She turned toward one of the shops. The sign above the door read: The Tea Leaf. There was a silhouette of two women with teacups beneath the name.

 “Don’t mind Olivia. Her Parisian manners haven’t been eroded by island living yet. She’s peevish because everyone’s having too much fun to pay her any attention,” he said playfully.

“I’ll pay her some attention!” bellowed the man in a seersucker cap as he and his dog-led companion sauntered toward them.

The bearded shopkeeper grinned. “Phyllo! Watch your manners, there are guppies present!” “How are things over the ridge?”

“Lovely, as usual, old man. On my way to Evie’s.”

Harlie didn’t know what to make of the odd mix of accents, but he was relieved that everyone spoke English. Most of the signs on the streets were English, too, but many were subtitled in another language that he guessed was Portuguese. Anya had kneeled to pet the retriever and was talking in that high-pitched voice Harlie noticed women, mostly, reserved for babies and animals.

The man with the retriever eyed Harlie and Anya curiously. “And who do you be?”

“I’m Harlie, and this is Anya.”

The man grunted, scrutinizing Harlie’s wavy hair. Harlie thought he saw a smile form at the edges of his lips, but it faded as his eyes rested on Harlie’s face and was quickly replaced by a hard expression that Harlie took for dislike. Anya must have noticed it too because she stopped petting his dog, stood, and took a step back.

“I was just about to invite them in for some tea,” the bearded man said. “Care to join us, Gebel?”

“Takin’ Adam to my hidey-hole. We got some work to do.”

“But it’s a holiday.”

“Somebody’s gotta work while you’re playin'.”

“See you later, then,” the bearded man said before turning back to Harlie and Anya. “My partner, Gebel. We’re in marine salvage. He brings it up—I clean it, price it, and sell it.”

“What’s the confetti for?’ Anya asked.

“It’s Hanno Day today. The parade ended about two hours ago, so everyone is either at home or at East Beach! Personally, I prefer the beach.”

Harlie felt Anya touch his sleeve. She pointed to the shop opposite The Tea Leaf. A sign reading Hanno’s Nautical Supplies and Antiquities hung above the awning. A barrel of cheap compasses sat just outside the door.

“I give them to the guppies at the parade. Good for business, eh?” he said, pointing to the barrel.

“So aren’t you Hanno?” But Harlie knew the answer before he asked the question.

“Oh, no, no, no!” the man laughed. “My name is Emile. I just own the shop.”

Harlie was bursting with questions, but he didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot with someone they’d only just met, someone he hoped might be able to give him some answers.

Emile’s shop was more a nautical museum than a store. There were pieces of sunken ships and ballast stones, old maps covering the back wall, drawings of ancient explorers, and photos of recent ones. An old wooden clock indicated it was 4:22. The high ceiling was obscured by two big sails, one with an equal-sided cross and the other with a purple sail with an angel embroidered on it. There were instruments for navigating and ships’ wheels—some encrusted with barnacles and instruments that looked like big drawing compasses.

“Sit down and relax. I’ll make some tea.” Emile pointed to a heavy rectangular table covered in glass. There were three tall stools around it and the twins took the two on the far end. The third stool had a mug in front of it. Emile descended the stairs to the left of the table, his head bobbing out of sight.

“It’s all coming together, isn’t it?” Anya whispered.

“What do you mean, it’s all coming together?”

“This can’t be a coincidence! We arrive on Hanno Day, at Hanno’s Walk, and go into Hanno’s Shop. Come on! We’ve got to be on the right track! Hanno must be someone important to the island and Emile’s named his shop for him so he has to know something that’ll help us.” Anya could hardly contain her excitement. “Let’s ask Emile if he knows what this symbol means,” she said, pointing to the .

“We don’t know anything about Emile. He might not be as nice to us once he finds out we aren’t here for Hanno Day.”

Emile walked up the stairs, carrying a tray with two cups of tea, sugar, and a half dozen small muffins and plunked it on the big table. Harlie surveyed his muscular arms and calloused hands; this man did not spend all of his days inside the shop. He had tanned olive skin and a little black was visible through his mostly gray hair.

“Drink up!” Emile smiled. Harlie complied, still appraising Emile; he lifted his tea to his lips.

Harlie almost choked on the hot liquid, burning his mouth and tongue. He was used to hot tea, but this tea was a bit too hot and it smelled of spices and oranges.

“It is the best tea I’ve ever tasted,” said Anya between sips.

“Looks like your friend disagrees with you,” Emile chortled.

“No, no, it’s great!” Harlie sputtered. He didn’t want to be rude. Besides, he hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for almost six hours. He took a bite of the muffin and washed it down with a second swallow of tea before deciding it wasn’t too bad.

“So what brings you two to this island?” Emile asked, glancing in Harlie’s direction.

Harlie’s insides squirmed. He didn’t know if he trusted Emile. “We’re supposed to be scuba diving, but the guy who invited us didn’t pick us up from the airport. He sent us on a scavenger hunt instead. The pilot gave us this map with instructions to find this.” Harlie took out his map and pointed to the . Emile snatched the map from his hand and bolted to a stand. Harlie went numb, then hot, watching as Emile held the map toward the window and stared at it. When Emile looked back at them, his face relaxed and he handed the map back to Harlie.

“See the copyright in the lower right corner of the map? I made this map for our governor years ago.” Anya and Harlie read the note:

© 1999 by Emile Idrisi
All rights reserved. Published by HNSA, LLC.

“I printed only fifty copies with strict orders not to reproduce any more without permission from the governor’s office. This is one of those copies. Haven’t seen one since I made them. Hold it up to the light,” he said.

Harlie raised the map toward the window. He saw a faint watermark on the map: a cross like the one on the ship’s sail in the shop. Inside the cross were the symbols Phoenician Letters. Two columns topped with burning torches flanked the cross.

“That watermark is our state seal. That’s how the governor authenticates the maps.”

“But why is it such a big deal? I mean, why does a map need to be authenticated?” Harlie asked.

Emile looked at him gravely. “There are no other maps of this island. It’s no accident that you have never heard of Caminus. You won’t find Lylit Harbor on a world map anywhere. You’ll figure it out for yourself if I’m right; it isn’t for me to tell you the secrets of Caminus.” He pointed to the map in Harlie’s hand. “I’d keep that out of sight if I were you; Caminusians do not use maps and they’d be suspicious of any stranger who does.”

Harlie laid the map on the table and waited. He wondered if Emile would help them now.

Emile took another sip of tea. “We have a mystery on our hands then, don’t we?” he said, more than asked. “The governor issued a map, so she knows you’re here, and at least two others.”

“What makes you say that?” Anya, inquired.

“Just procedure. The person who requested the map would know, and the governor’s assistant would actually process the approval and issue the map,” he answered, tapping the note in the top corner. “I didn’t write this note. Whoever requested it probably did. I’m not sure what they mean by ‘Hanno’s mark.’ But”—he pointed to the decorative edge of the map—“these are the letters of the Phoenician alphabet. I put the alphabet on there to honor Hanno as our rightful founder. Why that particular letter is circled, I don’t know.” 

“What do you mean, ‘rightful founder?’”

“This city used to be called La Salle, after Caminus’s founder of record at the time. La Salle found this island while his partner, Jean Betancourt, left him in the Canaries to make a deal with the King of Castille. He named the island Caminus. My grandfather told me stories about how he used to climb on a statue of Gadifer de la La Salle that stood at the harbor. But the statue was removed a long time ago. The name of the city was changed to honor Hanno because records and artifacts proved that Hanno had discovered the island and his descendants had already been here hundreds of years, minted their own coins, and established their own government when La Salle found it in the 1400s.

“Then why isn’t this City named Hanno?” Harlie asked.

“Because Hanno named it Lylit. It’s even etched on a huge stone that claims this island for the great Phoenician City of Carthage.”

“Where is that stone now? Harlie asked.

“It is in Governor’s Hall. But it’s closed today.”

“If Hanno was Phoenician, why do Caminusians speak English and Portuguese?” Anya inquired.

“Caminus is a melting pot of languages. Most of the sailors on La Salle’s ship were French or Spanish, but English explorers have left stragglers on our island too. Portuguese became our most widely spoken language when Portugal captured the city and controlled the harbor for about fifty years. They abandoned it after the earthquake in 1656 sent a mudslide into the city, destroying half of it and the harbor. The Caminusians just cleaned up the mess and went on with their lives, but we kept the Portuguese. English has been everyone’s second language for over two hundred years.”

“Well, that’s something,” Harlie said picking up the bookbag and the map. “We’ll check it out.”

Anya beamed, “Thank you, Emile!”

“Happy hunting to you!” he replied, slapping a compass into Harlie’s hand. “To help you find your way around the island.” Harlie remembered the compass his mother had given him on his tenth birthday and hoped that it would soon be recovered by the airline who had lost their luggage.

“Thanks,” Harlie said.

 

The explorers headed back down Hanno Walk toward the harbor. The sky had lost its deep blue and threatened rain. Anya twisted her hair absently before checking her reflection in a shop window to see if she looked too American. Warp Tour t-shirt, blue jeans, and Converse—decidedly American. Neither she nor Harlie spoke about the possibility that they might not find what they were looking for. She didn’t ask out loud where they would sleep tonight. Instead, she checked the backpack on her brother’s back to assure herself that the side pocket containing the map and the card for the youth hostel was zipped up tight. It was as if they had made a silent agreement to keep working on the puzzle, to trust that things would work out if they just kept moving. The five-minute march to the harbor seemed longer, but Anya saw the statue as soon as they rounded the corner of Hanno’s Walk and The Circle.

She hadn’t even considered what Hanno might have looked like, but Anya wouldn’t have imagined this statue in her craziest dreams. His face was fierce, almost wild. A skullcap covered most of his head, but long ringlets of hair flowed from beneath it. His clothing was even more bizarre—an odd mix of Egyptian and Greek. Anya’s eyes skipped across the trinkets and jewelry on Hanno’s body. His right hand extended to a low point in the northern sky. On his index finger he wore a wide ring. A snake bracelet wrapped his left bicep twice. He carried a shield with an owl perched on crossed staffs. His bare legs were thick and muscular. At his feet, shells and coins were scattered among clay jars. Anya inspected the square base of the statue, only a foot shorter than her. She read the inscription out loud:


Before the Portuguese or the Spanish, before Salle and his men,

Hanno of Carthage sailed the waves past the Pillars of Heracles

and into the Unknown Sea. He found this land and left his mark.

And brought our future with him.


Harlie walked around the statue and read the opposite inscription aloud:


Dedicated on this the Seventeenth Day of August in the Year of our Lord

Nineteen-Hundred and Sixteen by the Citizens of Caminus.


Harlie eyed the flower garland someone had placed around the slightly larger-than-life statue. “Looks like someone takes their national holiday seriously.”

“Yeah, that couldn’t have been easy to get it over his head.” Anya observed.

“Not that hard, once you get up on the base. Do you see Hanno’s mark?” he asked.

“No,” she replied, pulling her journal out of her bag. She began jotting down the inscriptions and taking notes about the statue. She listed the artifacts and symbols depicted, noting that the woman on the shield might be a representation of Athena and the amphora would have carried olive oil or fresh water. But Anya never saw the . She and Harlie walked around the statue several times, carefully examining all sides of the monument.

“See it yet?” she asked Harlie.

“Nope, I’ve searched around this statue at least four times—nothing.” Harlie replied.

“Another dead end,” Anya sighed, sitting on the grass. “We’ve been looking for at least fifteen minutes.”

 

“Maybe we’re looking at it the wrong way,” Harlie said, climbing onto the statue. From his new perspective, he dictated details for Anya to record: “Face of a woman inside Hanno’s shield; hand-shaped amulet around his neck; and—” His eyes followed Hanno’s extended arm all the way out to his fingers. Harlie gasped!

“The ring! It’s on the ring!” Harlie jumped, missed his footing, tumbling to the ground next to Anya. He lay there allowing the anxiousness that had been slowly building inside of him to seep into the ground. He’d found it!

“But what does it mean?” Anya asked.

“Remember the riddle, ‘He’ll guide you through woods to his mark’s gated twin.’” He mimicked the statue’s pose perfectly, extending his index finger toward the northern horizon. “It means that what we are looking for is this way!” Then, smiling broadly, he took the compass out and checked it: Hanno pointed due north.

“Are you sure it’s the right mark?” Anya asked.

“Yes, I’m sure. It looks just like this,” he said, pointing to the circled symbol on the map.

 

Anya inspected the statue one last time. She searched for the sculptor’s name. She couldn’t find one, but inside a large jug at Hanno’s feet she saw some scratches. She couldn’t make them out in the shadows of the jug, so she ripped out a piece of paper, put it against the jug, and rubbed it with the edge of her pencil. Satisfied with the results, she folded the paper neatly, stuck it between the pages of her journal, and stowed it in her bag. Harlie got out the map. “The statue points to a single road on the other side of the island. Remember the men came down the hill to Hanno’s Walk from that direction?”

“Yeah, I remember. What’s the next part of the riddle say?”

He’ll guide you through woods to his mark’s gated twin,” Harlie read. “That ridge is covered with trees—and look, here’s a road leading north.” We can take the path from Hanno’s Walk straight up that ridge to the road. If I’m right, we’ll find a gate with the same symbol on it,” he said.

She and Harlie retraced their footsteps back toward Hanno’s Walk. They didn’t get one block before the sky thundered and poured torrents of rain on them, soaking them to the skin in a matter of seconds. They broke into a run and didn’t stop until they reached Emile’s shop, only to find it dark and locked. Taking shelter under Olivia’s awning, Anya wiped her fine, straight hair out of her face. She resisted the urge to tug on a dripping strand of Harlie’s hair that hung in ringlets below his ears.

“The rain’s letting up,” Harlie said. “Let’s go.”

They trudged up the ever-steepening hill until they reached the back of Hanno’s Walk at its intersection with Beco Rua. Purple and gold confetti ran down the sides of the street and into the gutters. To the left, Anya saw a sign for a school zone and a large two-story building.

“Lylit High School,” Anya read.

To the right, a church steeple reached unsuccessfully toward the skyline, blending into the ridge that seemed to press the church and the town toward the harbor.

Anya stood at the end of a wide path at the base of the ridge, surveying the improvised segments of steps zigzagging upward, through rocks and prickly pear cactus. As she climbed behind her brother, she caught glimpses of iguanas and little birds hiding in nooks and crevices. She climbed until her wet jeans chaffed the insides of her legs, and her chest stung. She wanted so badly to stop, but she knew that they had to find what they were looking for soon.

She’d lost track of time and with no sun to gauge it, she knew Harlie probably had too. Her muscles ached as she pushed her body farther up the ridge. Her breath caught in her parched throat every time she inhaled. Finally, Harlie stopped.

“We need water.” He bent down and curled a hydrangea leaf into a “U.” He let the droplets merge and roll onto his tongue. Anya did the same. They drank for a few minutes, but the rain dwindled into a mist. “I wish I had thought of that sooner,” he said.

“I’m glad you thought of it when you did. At least my throat isn’t so dry,” she said gratefully. She dug in her backpack and checked her phone, but the battery had run down.

“Mine’s dead, too.” Harlie said. “We should have turned them off on the plane. You ready for the last cutback?” Anya nodded. She was relieved as the ground flattened at the top of the ridge and turned onto a path into woodland. Harlie took out his map and compass.

“The map shows a road, North Road on The Circle. The path ahead, at least as far as we can see is north.”

“Hope it doesn’t take long to reach the north arc of The Circle,” Anya fretted. “We’re burning daylight.” She looked back behind her, hoping to catch a glimpse of the harbor but her view was obstructed by the canopy of trees descending the ridge. The sky was lighter behind her and to the east, but she couldn’t see blue. “Harlie, I really think we should go back to the hostel for the night.”

“Come on,” Harlie said, pressing through the woods at a brisk pace. “Let’s see if we can find the road off The Circle first. If we can’t we’ll go back.”

“The map doesn’t show where this path comes out on the Circle, but we can’t be too far from the North Road either way. My best guess is west.

The Circle finally came into view and a patch of light sky behind them hinted the sun just above the horizon. Harlie stopped to check his compass again.

“The road going north should be on the right not too far ahead,” he said.

“Hope so,” Anya said, “We’ll have to go back soon, or we’ll never find our way back through the forest.” It was raining harder again. Worse, it was getting dark.

“We’ll check in this direction, just a hundred yards or so. If we don’t find it, we’ll go back,” Harlie said.

“Okay, but you have to promise me. No more stalling.”

They took off at a trot, following a small stream on the north side of the road. They had gone a couple hundred yards when she saw a small stone bridge to the right give way to a gravel drive. “Look!” she breathed.

“Are you sure this is it?” Harlie asked.

“Of course I’m not sure. Are you?”

“You’ve got a point,” he conceded.

They turned into the gravel and continued their pace. The forest infringed on the drive from both sides creating a tunnel of trees. Anya tried to match Harlie’s stride until her legs and lungs protested too loudly. She slowed to a walk as night began to settle in around them. “If we have to, we will just sleep under the stars,” Harlie said.

“More like under the clouds,” Anya said wiping the rain out of her eyes. “Do you think we could make it back without getting lost?”

“Maybe,” Harlie answered doubtfully.

Then Anya saw two small lights in the tops of the trees. Maybe an owl she thought, but as they came closer, she saw them flicker. “Harlie…”

She ran toward the lights in the ever-darkening tunnel of trees with Harlie behind her until she reached the end of it.

“It’s a gate!” she said breathlessly.

Torches perched atop two stone pillars sputtered in the drizzle, casting lurid shadows that danced through the twisted wrought iron gate. It would have been beautiful in the light of day, but the leaves and clusters of the metal grapevine snaked in and out of each other, obscuring the tangled mass of black foliage in its own ominous shade. An ivy-covered wall ran off into the blackness in each direction. Anya shivered as she searched for the c shaped mark in the dancing shadows of the vine. Four feet above her head the vine was distinctly twisted in the middle. Anya pointed.

“There,” she whispered. Harlie scaled the gate and ran his hand over the vine, as if he had to feel it to assure himself. She’d have missed it if not for the light from the torches. It was so artfully integrated into the vine, Harlie would have walked by it a thousand times without noticing, but Anya knew she’d found it. Harlie climbed down, slipping on the wet wrought iron as he descended. He found a small box almost covered in ivy and pushed the white button. The gate swung open in silent welcome.

 

Go to Chapter Three

 

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