Alexandros: Ch. 09-10byJoeBarnosky©
Alexandros Manuscript Page 53
We arrived at Rhodos a week after leaving Kydonia. The journey was smooth considering we didn't run into any storms. It also went well for me as I spent every night in the captain's quarters. As we unloaded the shipment, Captain Marcello left to meet her contact. I looked forward to some grand adventure over returning home with a shipment. When Captain Marcello returned I found myself in luck.
"Alright, listen up crew!" she shouted. The men dropped what they were doing and gathered around. "We have been given a task outside of regular shipping. All who wish to join in this cause are more than welcome to. Those who wish to not may leave on the Aeode with the shipment back to Neapoli."
A murmur rushed through the group. Many of the sailors knew what possibly lay for them if they decided to stay. Some of the newer crew I imagine had no idea. After a moment a hush came over us and a small number of men, both new and old, left for the other ship. Punishment would not come to any of those men. That was why Captain Marcello gave them the option. Many of these men had families and many only wanted to be sailors and nothing more.
Not everyone was a warrior.
"We will be heading to a small island to the south east. This is a dangerous mission taking us close the region of Egypt. The Count of Rhodos' daughter was kidnapped and he has acquired of services to find her. Lucky for us he has already acquired the information of her location for us, which makes our job much easier. Unfortunately we don't know what we will be up against on the way there or once we arrive. I expect all of you to be prepared and let's get this done and all return alive."
The crew cheered and shouted, raising their fists into the air as they did so. Captain Marcello cast a glance in my direction and nodded. It was my cue to take control of this crew. If I were to lead them, I had to gain their respect. "Listen up men!" I said bringing the men's attention around to me. "We leave immediately. I want you to make sure your armor and weapons are in top condition. The first few days of the trip we will be performing drills. These drills are intended to prepare you for battle at a moment's notice. Now let's get aboard and complete our job!"
The men hesitant at first, overcame it and cheered for me just as they had for the captain. I was trained for battle and I was trained to lead. I would lead these men and I would lead them home alive.
Khaldun woke with a stinging in his eyes. The sun beat down upon his body and the intensity of the light was too much for his eyes. He blinked several times trying to adjust to the light. Eventually he adjusted and was able to look around. Dead bodies of his soldiers lay strewn across the vast expanse. Many of them had limbs or their insides pulled from them. Others were completely ripped to pieces.
Khaldun had seen the carnage a battle could bring, but at that moment he felt like vomiting. He fought past the feeling and remembered how he got here and reflexively reached for his midsection.
Where is the sword?
He searched frantically, moving his hands all over his body, his hands finally resting over the wound the sword created.
How can I not be dead?
The wound wasn't healed but it also didn't feel like it was a danger to him. He sat up too quickly causing pain to ignite in his abdomen. He flinched, letting it settle then opened his eyes to look at the wound. It looked to have naturally sealed up. Dried blood covered his armor and the ground where he lay. He knew he should be dead and wasn't sure how he could still be alive.
Doesn't matter. I'm alive and Pharaoh may be in danger.
His thoughts turned to Chike then. Forcing himself to his feet he stood. The pain in his stomach was intense, but pain was only a state of mind. With a slouch he started off scanning the battleground. He saw swords splayed across the ground, but not the one that was run through him. His gaze lingered before finally falling upon the stone gate. The center of it was filled with a soft, sparkling red. The sight of it reminded him of the sea with its slow, rippling surface.
The portal was mesmerizing, capturing his gaze and holding it for many minutes before he realized he lost track of time. He broke away and resumed his search. After an hour of scanning and examining the carnage, he gave up the search. Semni was now his next concern. Not knowing why Semni wasn't here only caused more dismay for him.
Khaldun walked back to the camp he set up and had left in the care of Semni in just a few short hours. His wound ached but did not bleed nor showed any signs of opening. Upon reaching the camp he saw the same massacre and carnage that he had left behind at the stone gate. There were no survivors and he began to feel the guilt of all his men dying and he being the only survivor.
As he combed through the bodies, he was able to find Semni's. His body remained intact for the most part. His arm still attached to his sword lay several feet away. Anger rolled through Khaldun at the sight of his friend. He didn't have time to mourn, but he vowed revenge. Scooping up his friend's sword, he headed back to Memphis. Pharaoh might be in trouble and most of all so would Rashida.