Plaything of the Gods Ch. 01byLoveslust©
Note to reader:
This is my first attempt at writing an erotic story. I've written this for myself first, but then decided to share it with all of you to see how you react. The storyline is quite long, so if you're looking for a quickie, don't read on. It is set in a fictional world resembling Ancient Greece. If you like it, please say so. If you dislike certain aspects, please say so. All constructive criticism is welcome. If you dislike it, don't read on. If all of you dislike it, I will know I should not do this again. So... enjoy!
PS: I would like to thank mrsmotis for proofreading.
Chapter 1. Intro.
Just a few more miles. My armor felt heavier then it ever had before, but to rid myself of it would bring unbearable shame. I was grateful that my general had commanded me to leave my shield behind, because otherwise I would have succumbed to the weight of my gear long ago.
It couldn't be much further now. My feet were numb and full of blisters, my legs were killing me and my back ached. Somehow, my head hurt too. The thrill of the fight and the fear of pursuit had given me strength for the first few miles of this journey. Now that I was at a safe distance from the battle and I was sure nobody was following me, I had to pay the price for my outburst of speed earlier.
Just a few more steps and I would be there. I refused to halt to look at the wound on my arm. Yes, it had not stopped bleeding and it hurt like hell when my armor moved over the wound at every step, but it was not lethal. So, I kept running.
Just a few more miles. I kept saying it to myself over and over again. As long as I could focus on where I as going, I could continue running. My Brothers depended on me.
Just a few more miles. I was nearly there, just a few more. The temple couldn't be far off now...
It was meant to be an easy scouting mission. There had been rumors of lawless, godless barbarians in the mountains surrounding Thebe, so my Brothers and I were chosen to investigate. Bands of bandits or barbarians usually consisted of no more then a handful of men, so 20 well-trained warriors would have no trouble of driving them away; finding them would most likely be the biggest problem.
We had started off good-humored and well-prepared, eager for a mission, for a chance to prove ourselves as true warriors in the God's name. If the scout hadn't cried out before he was killed by an arrow, then we would probably have walked right into their trap in the middle of the forest.
Even though we managed to escape from the ambush by forming a battle formation and ferociously attacking the barbarians that crept up from behind us, we were still surrounded by enemies. We had shown that we were enemies to be reckoned with, and the barbarians had not dared to directly attack us again. Instead, they shot their arrows at anyone they could hit. We had no idea how many they were, but it was clear they outnumbered us vastly. A direct attack to an unknown, hidden enemy would have been suicide.
Our leader, General Demostrate, decided that a runner should go and send for help as quickly as possible. He had appointed me for the task. I did not want to flee or leave my Brothers behind, but I knew it was an honor: leaving the protection of the improvised barricade we had made was far more dangerous than staying. I took with me only my basic pack and a hastily scribbled letter for the priest-commander in Thebe. My destination was a temple in the vicinity of the mountains, from where I could send a messenger bird to Thebe.
I had run past our barricade, hoping to find cover from arrows and enemies in the forest surrounding us. The plan had only half worked: They didn't suspect anyone would be foolish enough to leave the cover of the barricade, so their arrows were too late as I ran for the forest. I ran straight into three enemies, though.
I managed to kill the first archer as he was too slow to drop his bow and get out his short sword before I was near him. A quick thrust from my sword silenced his scream. By the time I withdrew my blade from his body, however, the other two faced me with their swords drawn. I was at a disadvantage: I was used to fighting with a sword and shield or with shield and spear, and now carried only one sword with me. I managed to block the initial attack from both the bandits with my sword, but I knew I could not keep this up for long.
I sidestepped a blow from one of them saw the other had left his side open for an attack. I swirled around and attacked him. I managed to get out my knife and sink it in the throat of my attacker, but I could not defend myself from the blow of the second warrior. In an animalistic instinct, I somehow managed to move the twisting body of the first attacker between us to deflect his blow. My move prevented him from gutting me like a pig, but I still received a nasty slash on my upper arm. My knife still stuck out his throat as I dropped the first attacker, and with a few ferocious slashes of my sword, I broke trough the defense of the second one and ended his life with a thrust trough his chest.
I immediately ran away again, only swooping down to retrieve my knife from the throat of the archer before running on. I ran straight through the forest in the direction the general had pointed until I found a road. Hoping the road would indeed take me to the temple, I was still following that road. I had not stopped, except for a very quick pause. I had checked the wound on my arm, used a piece of cloth to quickly bind the wound, dumped my helm in my pack and drank a few gulps of water. Then I emptied the water skin over my head and neck in an attempt to cool me down before I set off again, while around me the burning sun shone bright from the sky.
Just a few more miles. I knew that if the temple was not visible behind the next ridge, I had taken the wrong road, and I would never be in time to send for help. If I would have had enough energy for coherent thoughts I would have prayed to the Gods for help, but the exercise and the heat prevented me from thinking.
I knew I had to be close now. The temple had to be visible after this ridge. The top of the ridge only showed me where the next ridge was. I slowed down at the next ridge. From over here, I could clearly see the valley and the plains beyond them.
For a moment, I despaired. Then, I spotted it. There was something at the end of the valley, a man-made structure, just off the side of the road.
As I ran towards it, I could see more and more of the structure. It was an impressive building, large enough to house at least a hundred people. A row of columns decorated the front, and several smaller buildings stood nearby. Field of grain surrounded the temple, and I could see several people working in the field.
As I ran towards the main structure, I knew I had almost reached my destination. Just a few more steps and I would be there. I ran past several statues and up the stairs leading up to the main building. A woman standing nearby shouted something at me. I burst trough the open door.
The cool shade of the temple overwhelmed me. It felt like diving into ice cold water. A woman suddenly appeared in front of me and said something to me, but her words were complete gibberish to me. I tried to focus on what she was saying, but as I did so I suddenly realized my legs simply refused to carry my weight anymore now I had stopped running. I wondered why my feet would no longer support me, before I somehow hit the ground and thought no more.
I woke up, and felt dizzy. I realized there was something I should do, but for a moment, I couldn't remember what that was. I suddenly realized I still had to reach the temple and warn Thebe of the attack. I tried to sit upright, but some pressure on my chest pushed me firmly down on some soft surface. I tried it again, and the pressure pushed me down again.
I decided to open my eyes to see what was pushing me down. My eyes told me I was in a bed, and that the pressure had been caused by a hand. The hand belonged to an elderly woman, who was watching me with a look of concern on her face. I looked at her, and then I started yelling.
"I need to get up now! My Brothers are in danger. I need to send a message to Thebe to tell the priest-commander what happened. They need help right now!" As I drew in another breath to continue my rant, the woman intervened.
"You will go nowhere. With the blood you've lost, you should be happy to be alive"
"-but my Brothers" I cut in.
"The message has been sent, if that is what you mean. Now, you will need to stop shouting and calm down."
Her stern voice left no room for argument. I drew in a few breaths, hoping to calm myself. It took a while before I could talk again.
"You sent the message to Thebe?"
"Yes, we've found the scroll in your pack. I've heard someone took a messenger dove and sent it to Thebe. That's all I know. I've been busy keeping you alive, if you don't mind."
I sank back into the pillows, somewhat reassured. I tried to rearrange my thoughts as I looked down the room.
I had obviously arrived at the temple, though I was in a small room, probably the infirmary. The people of the temple had found my message and sent it on to Thebe. That was the most I could do for my Brothers now. Still, that did not explain what happened between my arrival and here.
"You said I suffered from blood loss." I said to the older woman.
"Yes. You lost quite a lot of blood, and you've exhausted yourself in the middle of the day. You should know better that to run for miles with no protection from the sun, or with full armor on. You were so hot I could have sworn you had a fever when you arrived here, but you quickly cooled down."
Her voice was stern, but I did not see what I had done wrong. There had been no shade on most of the road, and if I had slowed down and waited till the hottest part of the day was over, the chances for my Brothers would only diminish. I told her so.
"I could not have done otherwise. My Brothers depended on me."
"You could have taken off the armor you were carrying, or at least lose the helmet you had in your pack. And while you stopped, you could have at least tried to bandage your arm better. And don't tell me you couldn't have stopped even for a few minutes. If you had fainted in the middle of the road, no one would have found you for a long time."
I suddenly felt small under her stern gaze. I still refused to believe I made a mistake.
"I can't throw away my armor. I would dishonor my entire warband"
She paused for a while and then looked at me. Then she continued.
"You are one of Ares' lot, are you not?"
I had to smile despite myself. So, she had seen the armor and immediately decided that I was a mindless brawler, just like any other men. A small part of my mind had to admit I hadn't given her much reason to believe otherwise. I tried to be more formal as I spoke to her.
"Yes. I am Michael, servant of Ares. I am a warrior in Thebe, under General Demostrate, under the priest-commander Zeuxis of Thebe."
"Greetings, Michael. I am Charé, servant of Aphrodite. We do not have the hierarchy of those who follow Ares, but high priestess Leda rules in this temple."
I was surprised.
"Aphrodite? I thought you served Demeter."
The old woman laughed.
"Don't you know whose temple you stormed in?"
I shook my head.
"I didn't mean to be rude, and I do mean to pay my respects to the Gods of the temple. But when my orders to go here were given, my general never told me whose temple it was. I had assumed it would be Demeter, since I saw grain fields and a fertility statue outside."
The old woman shook her head.
"We use the grain fields to provide for ourselves, though we give thanks to Demeter, of course. The Goddess of grain rules over the fertility of the land. The statues you saw are in honor to Aphrodite. Remember that your fertility is her domain, if you ever grow old enough to think about offspring instead of war."
I immediately thought of everything I knew about Aphrodite and her followers. I knew she was Goddess of love, beauty and fertility. I had heard all of her followers were female, but that they kept to themselves. Most of the stories I knew about servants of Aphrodite were the stories the older warriors of Ares told about brothels in the city, but I never knew how much of them were true. The stories usually told that the servants of Aphrodite were extremely beautiful but very hard to court, and more than a few older warriors boasted to have slept with one. I didn't knew which stories to believe, because I suspected a great deal of their stories were dramatized or just false bragging.
While I lay there thinking, Charé stood up, and returned to my bed with a bowl soup she had kept over the small fire. She ordered me to sit straight, and gave me the bowl. It was food for sick people, watery and easy to stomach while being filled with vegetables and small chunks of meat. It still tasted good enough, and I was hungry. I ate a second bowl too, which pleased Charé. She said my appetite was a sign that my health was returning, and seemed content.
She inspected the wound on my arm. It was long but not very deep, and the bleeding had washed the wound clean. She told me that I would have no lasting damage from my foolish trip, but that I might pride myself on a new scar later. I asked her if that meant I could get out of bed and try to find more information about what happened to my Brothers, but she clearly refused. She told me she would go and see if there was more information, but that I should try to sleep and regain my strength.
I lay down for a while, but sleep did not come easily. I worried about my Brothers.
Just like everyone, I left my parent's home and was presented to the Gods at age 14. In the official ceremony, Ares claimed dominion over me, and I served. Along with the other boys chosen by the God of War, we were initiated in the name of Ares. Though I survived the initiation, I still had to train for four years until I could claim to be a warrior.
Ever since my initiation, I had been with my Brothers. We had trained together, ate together, we slept in the same room and if anyone had to be punished, all his Brothers would be too. Thus the famous bands of Brothers of Ares are created. A warband of Brothers is always loyal and always ready to serve the call of war.
After the four years of hardship and training, we had been a true band of Brothers for little over a year. Though each member of a band was now supposed to be an individual and supposed to be able to care for himself, there have been few times in the last five years when I was not constantly surrounded by the warband. I wondered how many of my Brothers had survived. I know at least one of my Brothers was already dead. The scout we had with us had been Artemis' servant, but I knew Akakios had died in our original clash with the barbarians, and my good friend Eustatios had been pierced in the arm by an arrow that managed to slip through our wall of shields while we tried to build a barricade. I thought at least one other had been wounded by a stray arrow just before I left, but I wasn't certain who.
I prayed to Ares to keep them safe and hoped Eustatios would be all right. I sent a silent prayer to Aphrodite too, thanking her for the hospitality of the temple. Then, just to be sure, I prayed for a kind fate for my Brothers to Zeus. I knew the quick prayers didn't have as much weight as a proper prayer performed in a temple, but it was the best I could do for now.
I stubbornly ignored my worry for Eustatios and the memory of Akakios' scream as he died. After fighting off an image of the young man I had killed, I finally dozed off.
I awoke immediately when Charé entered the room. I didn't know how long I had slept, but as it was early morning, I knew I must have finally managed to sleep trough the night, though dreams of death had haunted me. Charé smiled reassuringly as she saw my startled face, and brought with her a plate of food.
"Is there any news of my Brothers?" I blurred out.
"Good day to you to, servant of Ares. I hope you slept well" Charé answered.
"A good day to you too, servant of Aphrodite. Excuse my manners, but I am rather worried about the fate of the other warriors. I didn't mean to offend you or the hospitality of your temple."
"I took no offense. Better, I have news for you. A letter arrived, saying that men have arrived at the sight your message described and rescued your precious Brothers. It says that there are still some skirmishes, and that even more men are on their way. The letter tells you to rejoin your band when you are ready."
"I will join them soon, then. I will not need to rely upon your hospitality for much longer."
As I wanted to get out of bed to join my words with action, the old lady pushed my back.
"You will rely on the hospitality of our temple for a while longer. Aphrodite offers it. Eat this, and then I decide if you're fit enough to travel."
I obeyed her, knowing it unwise to disrespect the hospitality of a Goddess. After I ate the hearty bread and cheese she gave me, she checked my pulse, told me to do several simple exercises and refreshed the bandage on my arm. She still disapproved of the idea of travelling, but since my health returned quickly she did not see how she could refuse my wish to pay my respect to Aphrodite.
I left the room and followed her instructions to the main hall of the temple.
As I had already expected, the room I had slept in wasn't part of the main temple and the buildings that were connected with it. It was just a small house, built next to it when the population of the temple had grown.
I blinked in the sun as I stepped outside, and the burning feeling in my skin told me my trek in the middle of the day had damaged my skin more then I had realized. Trying to keep to the shade, I evaded the few women working in the fields as I went to the main temple. I walked up the stairs, and said the formal words of greeting to Aphrodite as I entered the temple.
The main hall was empty at this time of day, and I walked in without having to explain myself. The temple was large, with decorated walls and ceiling. There were several doors on the sides, which I knew led to the quarters of those who served Aphrodite. There was a big statue of Aphrodite on a large platform near the other end of the main hall, and I suspected the door behind it led to the quarters of the highest priests of the temple.
I ascended to the platform and knelt before the statue of Aphrodite. The marble statue depicted Aphrodite in a pose with her arms spread wide, a welcoming gesture. She was naked except for several pieces of jewelry, and I knew the large breasts and the fruits she bore in her hands symbolized fertility.
I appreciated the statue for a minute, recognizing skilled craft and attention to detail, and then burned a small offering of fruits in the fire before her, while thanking her for the hospitality she had offered and excused myself for entering her temple uninvited earlier. I then wished her and her followers well, and promised I would offer more to her when I was home and could afford more. I finished my prayer by a general praying to all Gods, as is tradition. As I had used their offering instead of bringing my own, I left a good amount of the coins I had taken from my pack for the servants of the temple.
When I turned around to leave, I saw a young woman of about my age watching me. She stood near one of the doors on the side of the temple, and had obviously waited for me to finish my prayer. As she saw that I had noticed she was there, she quickly walked up to me.