Alexandros: Ch. 00-01byJoeBarnosky©
Author's Note: I took a different approach when writing this story. It takes on two different views switching from third to first person views, but at very notable times. Also originally this story began as a short story with the very end of the story, the battle as the short story. I had submitted to a website for a contest and had gotten a lot of good reviews and comments of people interested in more and eventually I wrote an entire story developing a character and giving a background to the organization known as the Black List in my books.
* Master Sternigan! Master Sternigan!"
Footfalls echo behind the voice through the halls of Château d'espoir. The young man barely in his thirties huffs as he runs. His news is urgent and for the ears of the Château's master. "Master Sternigan!" he yells once more bursting through the owner's study.
"Yes Lewis, what news do you have for me?"
"Professor Furloft has found something! He thinks he found a journal of Alexandros!" Lewis says excitedly.
"Memphis? Does he know what set of writings?"
"He wasn't specific but said he'd tell you more when he got here," Lewis answers.
"When is he supposed to arrive?"
"The helicopter should arrive any minute now."
Sternigan doesn't waste any more time. Bolting out of the study he runs for the heliport. By the time he reaches his destination, the helicopter has already landed and Professor Furloft is already exiting.
"You actually found it Malcolm! You son of a bitch, you found it!" Sternigan proclaims.
"As I said I would," the man replies.
"Where is it?"
Martin Sternigan feels like a child again. He has always been fascinated with history, especially the history of the organization he now leads, the Black List. Like the masters before him, he makes it a priority to collect texts collecting the history of the organization and anyone of the fabled writings from Alexandros is a prized treasure.
"It's in a glass encasement right now and already heading down to the vault."
"What are we waiting for let's get down there," Sternigan says leading the professor into the building.
The vault is a second basement floor of Château d'espoir. It is entirely built to preserve ancient texts and documents by regulating a low level of oxygen. It is here that the entire history of the Black List is located. Because of the state of many of the texts and documents, Sternigan set out to have everything archived electronically to preserve their history.
"This is fantastic," Sternigan mutters. "You said you found this in Memphis?"
"Yes which is why I believe this may be the first text Alexandros may have written."
"You don't know?"
"Actually as much as I wanted to read it, I decided to let you be the first." Furloft explains. "So what are you waiting for?"
Alexandros Manuscript Page 1
I began my life like any other Spartan. I was brought before Gerousia, the Spartan senate. They decided if I was strong enough to be reared. From there I trained with my father until the age of seven when I entered the Agoge.
In the Agoge I learned my military training, hunting and the many skills I would need for battle. It was also here I became friends with Nikator. We trained with each throughout the Agoge and into the Krypteia.
Through the Krypteia we tested our skills learned throughout the years. We we're sent out into the countryside with only a knife and told to hunt helots and do what was needed to survive. Not everyone sent out returned. Those that did were marked for potential leadership in the future.
I don't know if it was intended for us to be alone or work together as a team like we had learned our entire time in Agoge, but Nikator and I decided to work together.
On our first night we focused on setting up a camp. We didn't worry about food that night. Part of our training taught us to face our hunger and not let it change our focus.
I don't know about Nikator, but I didn't get much sleep. We had extensive training during the day but we stayed in the barracks at night. Being thrown out into the wild took us to the extreme as far as survival went. Dawn came quickly and my stomach ached. Apparently Nikator's stomach mimicked mine.
"Let's go find something to eat. There have to be some helots somewhere with some food ready to eat," he said zealously.
"Hopefully something hot," I remarked.
It didn't take us long to find a helot campsite. I approached from the north keeping close to the trees while Nikator circled to the south. A fog blanketed the ground aiding in our undetected approach.
There were four men and one woman sitting at the campfire entered in the camp. Nervousness manifested itself in their body language as they kept a watchful eye on their surroundings. The helots made an attempt to conversate and even joke, but each one I could tell was clearly fearful of an attack. Whether creature of man I didn't know and I would never find out.
Nikator released a loud battle cry which we had agreed upon earlier would be the signal to attack. The helots' attention was now directed in his direction leaving the attack open for me. The helots drew hidden weapons, weapons we missed on our previous assessment. Weapons or not, we were Spartans and we were built for war.
Two of the men met Nikator's approach first, both carrying spears. Nikator continued his charge seeming oblivious to the weapons the two men carried. The first of the men thrust out his spear. Nikator pulled up his knife, deflecting the weapon then spinning down the spear he was at the man throat before the man comprehended what had transpired.
His knife went into and out of the man's throat. As the man fell, Nikator grabbed the spear then threw his knife into the chest of the other man. The remainder of the helots paused as if rethinking the attack and considering a retreat. The pause was short but it gave me the opportunity to close the distance between them and myself.
I launched myself into the air and landed onto the back of the woman. My knife slid across her throat spilling her blood across the ground. My attack caught the attention of the remaining two helots. Now stuck between two Spartans and three of their comrades dead determination took over. Deciding that only death awaited them, they attacked.
The man that attacked me carried a heavy broad axe, but was quite proficient in its handling. He swung with a downward strike. I jumped to the side, easily avoiding the strike then I stepped in slashing at the man's stomach. He was more agile then I expected and my knife barely cut into him.
His fist slammed into the side of my face, catching me completely off guard. I tasted copper and felt the trickle of blood escape my mouth. My hard landing forced the air to be expelled from my lungs. It took a moment to find my breath and it was almost my last. I knew a follow up attack would come but because of my loss of air I was slower in my reaction time.
The axe slammed down throwing dirt into the air. I managed to roll away as the man slammed his axe down once more. I rolled to my feet without a weapon in hand, but not completely defenseless. The man was the biggest of the group, but in my experience it wasn't the size of your opponent that mattered but his skill. Clearly my opponent could wield and axe efficiently but his skill was far below my own. An untrained warrior was deadly but facing a warrior bred for battle was a nightmare.
He let loose a cry and charged. I stood my ground. I threw a rock that I had picked up while on the ground and hit him square in his forehead. He stopped and dropped his axe. I made my move in that moment. I threw a punch into his throat further disorienting him. I grabbed a knife I noticed earlier in his belt and sliced his midsection open. The man's insides spilled out onto the ground. Stunned, he gave me a look of puzzlement before life escaped from him.
I looked around for Nikator to see him sitting to the side of the helot that chose to attack him.
"What took you so long?" he asked making a look of puzzlement on his face.
"Real warriors use their hands in a fight unlike some," I said pointing to the spear he had acquired from the first helot that attacked him.
"This?" he asked lifting the spear. "This is a weapon you wouldn't understand how to use. Otherwise you wouldn't have had to use your hands and make up an excuse."
"Regardless, it's never a good idea to let good food go to waste," I said referring to the animal that was currently cooking over the fire.
We ate our fill and made use of the camp before heading back to our own for the night. The next morning I had the idea to circle the region which meant moving our camp. The idea was to follow the helots and wildlife providing us with food and sport then returning us close to Sparta when it was time to return.
The days slipped by us quickly. Finding food to sustain us became easier with each passing day and we didn't have much trouble finding helots either. Strangely, we didn't see any other Spartans. I settled on the conclusion we were just two of the few elite selected for the Krypteia.
We travelled deeper into the wilderness, far from Sparta and most other city-states. I had a strange sensation that stuck with me throughout our time in the wilderness. As each day came and went the feeling became stronger and stronger. I expressed this to Nikator and was told I was daft. I didn't say anything more about it after that. To be a Spartan meant you had to be strong, leaving no room for weakness.
"We can camp here then begin our circle back around toward Sparta," Nikator suggested. The feeling was overwhelming and left me so concentrated on it that I nearly didn't hear what he said. "Alexandros? Do you hear me?"
"Sorry. I was focusing," I answered using the first excuse that came to mind.
"Focusing huh? Let's focus on our meal tonight."
Camp was set up quickly. We didn't have much except the few items we took from various campsites we had raided. It was nice to have sleeping gear. It was the firewood that generally held up the process of creating the campsite. At least with an abundance of forestry available to us, it was a time saver.
We were just returning to camp when the wind suddenly slowed then came to a halt. The normal sounds of the forest ceased to exist as well. The strange feeling I had flared more than it ever had in that moment. Nikator appeared to have noticed something as well.
"Everything is suddenly quiet," he remarked stopping and drawing his sword.
"I know. I believe something bad is going to happen," I said drawing my own sword.
"It is something the gods have chosen for us to face!" he yelled. "Come show yourselves and fall before our blades!"
Nikator was a faithful follower of the gods, whereas I chose not to believe in them. I could not see believing in a multitude of beings that determined our path through life. We stood back to back with our swords at the ready for a few minutes. The strange feeling I had didn't subside but had intensified.
Then the attack came. Three creatures, the only way I could have described them at the time attacked from different directions. From their size and the power that seemed to radiate off them I determined the one attacking from the south was the leader. The other two came from the east and west.
"Remember our training," I said through gritted teeth.
"Of course we're a team," he replied. "Come! I thirst to spill your blood!" He yelled banging his sword against his shield.
The leader stopped short of its attack yet the other two continued their attacks. I turned my attention to the attack beast ducking just in time as a claw swiped where my head was just at. Nikator faced a similar attack but managed to keep his back with mine. It seemed the beasts meant to break us apart. A Spartan was strong by oneself but together we were a force to be reckoned with.
I thrust out my sword missing completely and using my shield high I was able to stop an impending clawed attack. Another clawed hand grabbed my wrist and pulled hard. I flew into the air before I had a chance to comprehend what had just taken place. I slide across the ground stopped by a large tree as my back slammed into it. Darkness enclosed on me, but I fought against the torrent. With me out of the fight, the beast turned its attention to Nikator.
I glanced at the leader standing in the same place observing the fight then looked back at Nikator. He was in danger I knew. Fighting against several men was different than fighting two unknown beasts. I tried to moved but felt like my energy had been sapped. My sword lay just inches from my hand and yet I still was not able to move my hand those few inches to grab hold of it.
The two beasts were synchronized in their attacks. When one attacked the other moved proficiently with a counter attack to match Nikator's evading movement pushing him to the point of exhaustion. Nikator's sword sliced in multitudes of directions as he swung and thrust forward and backward. Every swing was easily dodged by the beasts. Another clawed blow came down upon his shield. The impact forced him to the ground rolling.
Exhaustion had its grasp on Nikator. He slowly picked himself up off the ground using his sword as an aid. He inspected his shield and after seeing a large crack he tossed it aside. I tried to call out to him but I couldn't find my voice. My throat felt as paralyzed as my body did. I looked back to the leader and saw a smile from on his face. I knew his end was coming soon and all I could do was watch.
Both the beasts moved in simultaneously leaving Nikator to face two fronts at once. Moving aptly he ducked low evading the swipe of a clawed hand then rolling past the attacker he avoided the attack from the other. His roll brought him up behind both of the beasts. He didn't give the beasts any time to react as he charged. He leapt up at the last minute bringing his sword down aimed for its back. The beast wasn't caught off guard though. Swinging around, it slammed a fist into Nikator sending him reeling backward. A large boulder stopped his flight. He let out a yell of pain from the impact.
Suddenly the force restraining me was released. I scooped up my sword running hard to aid Nikator from the beasts that stalked toward Nikator. I got within ten feet of my friend when one of the beasts turned to me impeding my effort.
Going somewhere human?
His speaking to me halted my intervention. I was trained to expect superior even strange tactics, but no previous training could have ever prepared me for this. "Out of my way, unless you are prepared to die!" I yelled charging the foul beast. I disregarded that it had spoken to me and attributed it to my being in the wilderness for far too long.
I am more than ready, not for my death but yours.
I hesitated the moment the beast spoke again, but managed to surpass the surprise and continue my attack. Unfortunately it was a mistake the beast took advantage of. My sword strike was precise, but the beast was far gone from my strike. I was carried forward when a blow to the back of my head struck. I managed to twist enough and use my shoulder to absorb much of the impact.
I lay on the ground for a moment as pain seared through both my shoulder and head. Without warning I was lifted into the air and flung backward. I crashed into a tree sending a sharp pain throughout my entire body. I heard a crack and wasn't sure if it was my body or the tree. Blackness swirled around threatening to take me with it.
I fought against it, holding on to reality as much as possible. The beast stood there laughing. I ignored it and the pain. Fighting past the blackness' hold I looked in Nikator's direction. The beast he was engaged with now held him by his neck. Nikator struggled against the beasts' grip, clawing at its hand, futilely. The beast pushed his other fist deep into Nikator's body. He held his tongue not willing to scream out. The beast's hand protruded out through Nikator's back then gripped around his spine. The beast released its other hand and held Nikator's body by just his spine.
Rearing its head back, the beast let out a voracious laugh then bit down onto Nikator's head. Effortlessly his head was ripped from his body. His struggles ended instantly and his body went limp. The hideous beast looked in my direction and spit out the head. It bounced on the ground several times, the rolled past me before finally coming to a stop.
Anger welled up inside me as I fought to lift my body up from the ground. The anger of my friend's death gave me the strength to fight through the pain. I screamed out in rage. What I screamed was as unintelligible to me as it was to the beasts, but it didn't matter. The beast that threw me was on me as soon as I was up one my feet. It swung its massive, clawed hand at me. Finding strength I didn't know I had, I reached up grabbing its arm. I pulled the beast into the tree. The impact caused the tree to split and fall over.
My focus now settled on the beast that killed Nikator. I charged toward it, scooping up my sword in the process. It turned to face me, standing in a defensive stance.
Come human. Come let me destroy you.
Its arms were held wide open waiting to tear me to pieces. I was a Spartan and I didn't know fear. I leapt into its arms driving the beast backward. It grunted, backpedaling until a grand tree. Upon hitting the tree, the beast slumped and released its grip on me. I stood perched on it with my sword driven deep through the creature's heart and deep into the tree. I sensed danger lurking behind me so I tried to pull out my sword to no avail.
At the last second I gave up on the sword and flipped backward just as a clawed hand swiped at me. I easily leapt over the foul beast as its hand severed the other beast's abdomen wide open spilling its inside onto the ground.
"Come on you bastard!" I yelled picking up a spear.
The beast spun to face me.
Insolent human. You will pay for this!
"I look forward to it!"
The beast ran at me. I planned to quickly strike it down, but a glint in its eye told me otherwise. I spun the spear, twirling it and sidestepping the beast. With the blunt end of the spear, I struck it behind its head knocking it flat. I continued my momentum by spinning around and thrusting my spear into the leader of these creatures.
The spear pierced through the creature with blood spurting out its back. Its lips curled upward sneering at me. Its black blood steadily poured down the shaft of the spear. I knew I had victory over this beast. "This is for Nikator!" With a twist of wrists I wrenched the beast's heart. The glow in its eyes slowly faded away, leaving behind a lifeless corpse. I released my grip of the spear letting the corpse to fall to the ground.
It was time to bury my friend. He fell in battle honorably and for that he deserved an honorable burial. It is the Spartan way after all.