Alexandros: Ch. 04-05byJoeBarnosky©
I don't want to marry him father!" Rashida yelled. She was tired of the same conversation that she had with her father every day.
"Khaldun is a great man and head general of my army. He is the perfect man for you."
"No father, he is the perfect man because you need an heir and he will one day fill your shoes," she spat back venomously.
Pharaoh sat upon his throne watching his daughter pace back and forth and ranting to him about the proposed marriage. It was true he needed an heir to the throne and General Khaldun was an ambitious as well as a great leader. "I only want what's best for you my child," he offered.
Rashida stopped her pacing and turned to face him. "You want what's best for the kingdom."
"Yes I do, but ultimately I want what's best for you. When your mother died, you were all I had left. When I do leave for the other side I need to ensure that my daughter as well as my kingdom is left in good and capable hands."
"I could lead your army and the kingdom father. I am just as capable as Khaldun if not better," she pleaded.
"I know you are, but even the priests are unsure about your abilities. Some say the gods have bestowed them upon you others say opposite. You can't lead a kingdom where half the kingdom praises you and the other fears you," Pharaoh explained.
"Fear is a great motivator when it comes to leading," she countered looking smug as she said it.
This was a game they played on a regular basis. If it wasn't for Rashida being Pharaoh's daughter he would have punished her if not had her executed already. He did not tolerate insolence from anybody except his daughter.
"Yes with fear you can rule a people, but you will not gain their loyalty. Granted not everyone will like you or even agree to your tactics, but when the majority of the people do you have a few less worries."
"You have taught me as much already and I understand that, but I still refuse to marry him." She stomped her foot down for an added effect to her standing on the issue.
A knock rapped at the door to the throne room. Pharaoh looked up from his seat and signaled to the guards. The guards nodding and turned to pull open the massive doors. General Khaldun strode into the room with confidence and a look that showed he was a very powerful man.
"Ah, General Khaldun we were just discussing you," Pharaoh remarked as soon as the man was within earshot.
"Nothing bad I hope," the general remarked as he bowed before his king.
"Only how fine of a general you are."
"Which is much appreciated my lord." He turned to Rashida grasping her hand and gently kissed it. "And how are you my desert blossom?"
"I'm fine. We were discussing how my marriage to you just wouldn't work out," she said with a sneer.
It wasn't that Rashida didn't like the general, after all they did grow up together and were best friends, it was the fact her father was trying to push a marriage on her that she didn't want.
"Come now Rashida, we have known each other for far too long for you to treat me that way," he said smiling.
Before she could reply he turned back to Pharaoh. "I have news my lord."
"Of the outer territories?" Pharaoh asked fully interested in what the general had to say.
"Yes my liege. Just outside of Pelusium there amasses a small army. None of our spies have been able to return so we don't have much information about the force."
"What do their intensions look like?"
Khaldun took a moment to choose his words carefully. He knew depending on the answer he gave would determine whether Pharaoh send out the army to attack or wait. "It appears they have uncovering something from beneath the sands. Since the object they have found resides outside of your kingdom we have not made any effort to attack only observe."
"Unless the object bears some importance or can be used as a weapon against us, I rather not start a war. I must consult with the priests and then I will decide on this matter."
"As you wish my lord." Khaldun bowed before taking his leave from the room.
Pharaoh looked to Rashida solemnly. "We will carry on our discussion another time. Please consider your marriage to Khaldun." He sat starring at his daughter until she finally dropped her defiant look and agreed to his wishes. He nodded to her then took his leave from the room, leaving Rashida alone to revel in her own thoughts.
Alexandros Manuscript Page 34
I had laid awake almost the entire night after the dream. I was ready for Amnischnell whoever he might be, but something about the entire dream left me perturbed. I had just gotten out of my bed when a fellow soldier approached me.
"Sir, Commander Aeton would like to see you in his office," he informed me.
I thanked him and began to wonder if the summoning pertained to the issue I had discussed with my father the day before.
When I arrived at the office of my commanding officer I found my father was already there as well. We greeted each other and I was told to have a seat. There were two chairs set across Aeton's desk and one of those contained my father.
"Karanos, your father, has briefed me about your encounter out in the Krypteia," he began when I sat down. "I can imagine what you think you may have seen, but I can assure you it was not what you may think it was."
I looked at him with a blank stare before turning to my father. My eyes said it all and he understood it. I could not believe I was hearing this.
"Aeton, perhaps you understand the weight of my son's account. You participated in the Krypteia as well as me and there was never anything like this out there."
"Come now Karanos. We were his age once and at that age anything we saw and didn't recognize we attributed it to some mystical or godly force," Aeton rationalized.
My father didn't buy it for a minute. He knew there were strange things in the world and he also knew strange usually meant dangerous.
"True," he agreed. "But how many times in let us just say since we participated in the Krypteia have only a handful of warriors returned?"
Aeton cringed at the question. He knew where my father was going with this and he made it clear to both of us. "Foolishness is why those warriors never returned. Crazy tales and ideas spawned from Sparta's soldiers like your son here. They are tales and ideas that the helots have taken advantage of and used in their tactics against our inexperienced warriors. Using this to their advantage they have created a doubt and a fear and our warriors succumbed to both and that is why they fell. Not because of some strange and overly powerful beasts."
Aeton was furious at the moment. All that I was told about the man I could see was true. Though he was a good warrior and commander, he could not be moved to see another's view on things except his own.
Reflecting back on the training my father gave me, I couldn't help but ask myself why Aeton was chosen to a command position in the first place. I would have to remember to ask my father that at a later time. Now definitely was not the best time to bring up such a question.
"This is now a subject I do not wish to hear anymore about," he directed to both me and my father. He then turned all his attention to me. "You should be lucky to have returned alive and unharmed. Think of it this way; with so few left, you and the rest are guaranteed to be put into higher ranks now."
I smiled and nodded my understanding and appreciation, but inside it all felt wrong. Did Nikator die without reason? What about all the other warriors that never returned? I had too many questions and no answers. I wasn't even sure my father would be able to help.
"Very well Aeton, but if something befalls Sparta then I expect you to come forward and admit your fault in this matter," my father said sternly.
"I won't have to worry about doing so," he replied with a smirk.
"I'm not worried about what you think you'll have to do or not do Aeton."
"Don't worry Karanos, if something truly was to happen, I am a man of honor and I would certainly take responsibility," he assured my father.
"Then we shall pray to the gods that nothing happens," my father remarked as he stood to take his leave.
"Do you require anything else from me sir?" I asked.
"No. Report to your unit and carry on with your tasks," he answered, dismissing me with a wave of his hand.
"You did well in there holding your tongue and letting me speak," my father said once we had left Aeton's office.
"I know well enough to not speak against a higher ranking soldier, you thought me that."
"Then I have taught you well," he said as he patted me on the shoulder. "No get to your men and I will see you later in the day."
I completed my tasks for the day then set out for my parent's home. The day had been long because of the morning's earlier events were riding on my mind. I knew the conversation was going to go in the direction it did, but I had hoped it wouldn't.
Upon reaching my parent's home I was overwhelmed by the same sensation I had back in the wilderness. I recognized it as a danger this time and rushed into the house. It was devoid of life upon my entry. Bodies lay strewn across the floor, blood covered the floor, walls and ceiling. It looked like a massacre took place inside and I had the sinking feeling this wasn't all of it. As I passed through each room I called out for my mother and all I got were more slain helot slave bodies.
The further into the house I went, the stronger my tingling feeling increased. I dreaded what I would find and when the voice of my mother called out, my heart sank. I stepped out of the house to see a hideous beast like the ones I seen out in the wilderness except this one had two massive horns protruding from its head. They were set out like the horns of a bull and very menacing. Held in its hand was my mother. She was turned facing me, the beast's finger slowly tapping her throat. His other hand lay across her stomach.
"Release her!" I yelled drawing my sword.
Come and strike me, Amnischnell down!
"Let her go and fight me!"
If you truly wish for her to live, you'll have to do better than that.
"I said let her go so I can take your head!" I yelled this time enforcing my command.
Very well. If that is the extent of your faithfulness then so be it. Sapon! Lapas! Suddenly another two of the beasts appeared grabbing my arms and forcing me to drop my weapon. I struggled against them but to no avail. The creature, Amnischnell smiled at my attempts to break free. I've given you more of a chance to save your mother than you gave my son. Now I take my revenge.
The beast ran its finger across her stomach cutting her open. She screamed as her insides began to tumble out onto the stone walkway.
"You'll pay for this!" I yelled. I tried to focus my anger to fight against the hold the creatures had on me, but no matter how hard I tried it was useless.
The beast looked at me with a knowing smile then ran his other finger nail across her throat spilling her blood. Remember this could all have been avoided. He nodded to the creatures holding me. Instantly they just vanished leaving me to drop to the ground from my struggles against their bonds.
"Mother!" I yelled as I got up and ran to her side. I scooped her up into my arms, but it was of no use. Life had already escaped her and all that remained was an empty shell.
I don't know how long I sat there holding her in my arms, but I was shocked at the events that transpired afterward. Spartan soldiers rushed into the garden with their weapons drawn, lead by my father and Aeton. My first thought was someone heard the noise of the battle and warned my father, but that was not the case.
"Arrest him and put him in chains!" Aeton shouted while pointing at me.
"What is the meaning of this?" I asked standing up and showing as much defiance as I could.
"Alexandros I'm sorry but you must comply. I know this couldn't be your doing," my father said sympathetically.
"Face it Karanos. He's guilty of this horrendous act. Look at him, he's covered in blood and he's the only one here."
"My son would never do this. I warned you about this Aeton."
"You're blaming me?"
"Not yet I'm not," my father said venomously.
"We'll let the Gerousia decide whether he's innocent or not. Take him!"
I didn't spend long in confinement, which didn't really surprise me. Aeton seemed to want to get me before the Gerousia rather quickly. The Gerousia is the council of elders of Sparta. They served many purposes from things such as deciding if a child was strong enough to live to charges like mine and everything in between.
I was brought out before the council when requested. If the rest of the city or any of my fellow soldiers knew of my charge I was not aware of it. Other than the Gerousia my father and Aeton were present.
"Alexandros!" the head speaker boomed. "You are charged with the murder of your mother Reah. We have reviewed the facts and your service record and have made our decision in this case. Because of your exceptional skills and prowess in the Krypteia it has been decided your honor will be taken rather than your life. You are to be exiled from the city of Sparta and stripped of your armor and shield. We advise you to leave and never return or death will be dealt upon your return."
"Your honors! I must object and ask that you reconsider," my father interjected.
The council's gaze lifted from me to settle onto my father. I could see astonishment on some of their faces in reaction to his objection. "Your wife has been slain and your son is to blame. There are no witnesses in the matter and because of your support for your son is one of the reasons he has been chosen to be exiled instead of death. This talk of strange creatures by your son and now this vicious crime by him cannot allow us to make any other decision."
"I must object," he tried again.
"It has been noted and we ask you for the last time to remain silent and accept our judgment. If not shall we change our decision?"
My father stood in silent defiance starring down the head of the council. After a moment he finally spoke and I could not condemn him for his decision. "I respect your decision," he said as he bowed.
"Then this council has passed its judgment. Escort the exile to the city gates and release him."
As I was escorted from the Gerousia's chambers I looked in my father's direction. He cast a slight nod to me without saying a word. I knew he wouldn't allow me to go into the wilderness without aid.
I spent the day hiding in the forest until night finally fell. I found my way to a small hideaway in the city's wall. It was a place my father would take me for our training sessions. It provided natural cover and rock formations. My father taught me it was best to be able to move and fight on any terrain so that one was never caught on unfamiliar ground.
When I reached the training spot, it was empty. My heart fell, not because I would not receive the help I would so need but rather because I wouldn't have the opportunity to tell him goodbye. I waited until the moon was high in the sky before deciding to take my leave. It wouldn't be well for me to found near or around Sparta. As I began to leave my father's voice rang out in a loud whisper.
"Of all I taught you, you still don't have patience."
"Father!" I said in a high whisper. I knelt on my knee and bowed my head before him. "Please forgive me."
"It is not your fault my son," he answered then he placed his hand on top of my head. "I know you are not responsible for Reah's death."
"No, but I am for not saving her." My lip started to tremble. I was always prepared for my parents' death as was every Spartan warrior. I wasn't prepared for my mother to die the way she had though.
"I'm sorry it took this long to get here. It can be rather hard to sneak out with a full set of armor and guards posted."
"They have you under guard?" I asked not believing that I was hearing correct.
"It's not that they don't trust me," he began. I cast a look of doubt in his direction causing him to stop abruptly. "Well, maybe they don't trust me, but it's only because of my loyalty to you."
"You risk a lot to come here then father."
"Well I cannot have you out in the wilderness with nothing. At least this way you will have your armor."
"And my shield?" I asked. A shield was the most important item a Spartan warrior had. We were to only return to Sparta either victorious with a shield in hand or dead and carried upon it. To return otherwise meant we threw it at the enemy in an attempt to flee. It was a crime punishable by death.
"I'm sorry," he said direly. "Unfortunately the Gerousia had it seized earlier today. I could only secure my sword for you." He pulled his sword from its sheath and handed it to me.
"Thank you fath—"
Pebbles tumbled down from above our heads. My father put a finger to his lips and motioned me to the shadows.
"Who goes there?" a voice called down from above.
"It is I, Karanos."
"Father of Alexandros?"
"The one, yes."
"It is late and you are not supposed to leave your home without permission. I must ask you to return with me to explain yourself."
"Very well." He turned in my direction without looking my way. "Good luck son, I'm sorry I can't see you off better."
He turned away and began his ascent, not looking back as to give my presence. "You have done enough for me father," I whispered.
I slipped from the hideaway and out into the night.