Thought I'd share this with everyone after receiving it from a good friend of the site, stargazrroger
who writes for his local arts council - I personally can't pick up a book to save myself but found Roger's story had me engrossed!.
This story is set in Greece in September of 480 b.c.
It is the Battle of Thermopile. The two opponents are Xeres, the King of Persia, with 250,000 men, of which 10,000 are Immortals. Xeres opponent was King Leonidas of Sparta, with 7,000 men, of which 300 are Spartans.
After 3 days of fighting, the death toll was as follows; on the Persian side 20,000 men were dead. On the Spartan side 2,000 men dead.
Before the battle, all of Greece was ruled by City State. After the battle they became a Nation State.
I happened to glance at the bright sun as it was reflecting off the blue green sea, it almost hurt my eyes to look at it. The sound of the roaring waves hitting the rocks was almost deafening.
The wind was gently blowing across my sweat soaked skin under my amour. After looking at the sand clock I thought five hours of sword practice was enough for today. It was nice to sit down and enjoy a goblet of wine and relax.
A sub-leader came striding through the practice field about the time we all sat down. After looking at the sand clock he yelled, “Practice in thirty minutes”. It was also about time to get something to eat.
Seeing the sub-leader heading my way, I waved to get his attention. “Why are we having so much practice?” I questioned the sub-leader. He said, “We go into battle two days from now against the Spartans.”
After two more hours of intense practice, the clang of my opponent’s sword against my metal shield was still ringing in my ears. After the practice was over I slowly made my way up the hill to my camp. When I get to the top I turned around and looked down into the valley and saw thousands of campfires lighting up the night.
I turned to my tent and my wife was fixing stew for diner. The aroma made my mouth water. I nodded to her and she handed me a bowl of stew. I sat down and devoured it. The words of the sub-leader rang in my head. “We face the Spartans in two days.”
I took my armor off and changed tunic and doused my head in water to cool off. My children came running up to me demanding hugs and kisses. It was late and time for them to go to bed. After getting the kids to bed my wife and I sat by the campfire and talked about what is about to happen in two days.
She asks, “Is it going to be a big battle?” I tell her that this up and coming battle is one of the hardest we have ever faced. The Spartans are the best fighting force in the world. They are trained from birth to fight and die like soldiers, no quarter asked and none given.
The next morning the trumpets sounded; time for the gathering. We were dressed in our uniforms, black veils lifted. The sub-leader told us that we start marching toward the Spartans in 15 minutes. I ran back to my wife and kissed her and the kid’s goodbye. She was crying and told me “Go with God.” As the trumpets sounded again; we assembled and started marching into history.
While we were marching the talk was of how good those Spartans really were. Are they as good as we are? How many of them were there? How they were set up, and general solider talk. The rumors were going back and forth between the warriors like wildfire. Since I was in the final rank it takes a while for the rumors to reach me. Trumpets sounded the time for a break from marching. I dropped to the ground already tired and thirsty, a bag of water is passed around. I drink my fill and pass it on to the next warrior, who eagerly drinks his fill and passes it on.
The sub-leader came around looking over the ranks of the soldiers.
I ask the sub-leader, “How far until we get to where the battle will take place?”
The sub-leader said, “ You see that hill over there at the base of the mountain?” pointing about a mile away, “That’s where the battle is.”
Before we could finish our conversation, the trumpets sounded and the first wave of Immortals attacked the Spartans. We were too far away from the battle to hear anything, but we could see warriors moving and dropping to the ground. The trumpets sounded again, and the next wave approached the Spartans. Again the immortals went into battle.
Suddenly, a new trumpet sounded, one that I had never heard before. Every warrior stopped and retreated back to their lines. By this time it was late afternoon. All of the warriors that came back were walking as if in a daze, not hearing or feeling anything. They were all just numb. We slowly moved to the base camp and tried to rest, which was impossible. One of the bravest warriors that I knew was crying like a baby, shaking uncontrollably, totally unaware of everything.
Being summoned by the sub-leader, I was sent to the front to help with the wounded and dead. The mass of bodies and blood made walking slippery. I passed warriors begging for help; bloodstained warriors crying. The din of all of the voices was almost overwhelming. After I had helped all that I could with the wounded and dead, I went back to camp and tried to rest. So many sounds of death and images of destruction we constantly going through my head, I could not rest, let alone sleep. Finally after a few hours I fell into a restless and fitful sleep. The dreams were blood soaked nightmares and they were frightening.
I woke up to the sounds of trumpets blaring. As I tried to rise from my pallet on the ground, I became very sick and started throwing up. I was dreading this day because I was getting closer to the front lines. The first and second ranks were decimated yesterday, and that means that we all move up two ranks. We were now in the 8th rank today.
The trumpets sounded again and the next two ranks advanced and started to battle. Again, we were too far away to hear the sounds of battle but we saw the soldiers dropping like flies. The battle seemed to last days, but after a few hours the new trumpet sounded and the battle stopped.
Both sides retreated to their own lines. Again I was sent forward to help, this time I threw up before even getting there. The ground is very wet and slippery from the blood, bodily liquids and vomit. I fell down four times trying to carry back the wounded.
Covered in blood and muck, I made my way back to the camp. I tried to wash the blood off my clothes and hands, but it was being stubborn. No mater how hard I tried, I could not get the stain of the blood to go away.
A fellow warrior came up and asks “Why are you scraping your skin raw, you’re already bleeding badly. Stop hurting yourself.” He yells. I then realize that all of the mud and blood from all the others are gone and what is left over is mine.
As we are sitting around the fires, the dreaded news arrives; we are being moved up in the ranks, we are now ranked 6th. Four ranks have been decimated total. I try to sleep and rest, but I can do neither.
It is now day three of the battle. I am groggy from lack of sleep and rest. Camp rumors are spreading that another way around the Spartans has been found. Rumors saying that the king will send warriors around the Spartans and attack from the rear. At the gathering we saw massive troop movement in another direction going around and behind the Spartans. Way off in the distance we see flags waving, a trumpet sounds and we move forward into the battle. The Spartans that were caught unaware are being attacked from the rear. Half of the Spartans turn and start fighting. The final battle is over quickly. The Spartans have been destroyed completely.
A sigh of relief escapes my lips. I can live another day. We are sent forward to clear the way for the rest of our army. We were told to throw the bodies of the Spartans into the sea, and help the wounded back to camp. This time I’m not as sick and work very quickly to clear the road. After the way is cleared we are sent back to the main camp, to rest, eat and to sleep; before we start marching again.
When I reach the camp and come upon my tent, my wife and kids rush out to meet me. I am bombarded with hugs and kisses. My wife asks, “Is it over, can we go home now?”
Sadly I tell her, “No it is not over until we go to Athens and fight again.” She starts crying again and buries her face in my chest.
The next day we start training more Immortals. We must have at least 10,000 Immortals. The Immortals live forever. I look at my son and wonder, what fate lies ahead for him, will he be strong and handsome, and a great warrior?
TIME WILL TELL.