Short Stories 2
Continuing with the Short Stories, I think this story was very fun to read, and you should read it too!! Also, you can read the first Short Stories here. We would appreciate it if you give feedback, or just tell us what you think about it!!
Have a good day!
Argyros couldn’t run. His crippled left foot wouldn’t allow it. He even had trouble walking, but today he hobbled by as quickly as he could. With each step he took, the pulsing pain was constantly there to remind him of his disability. Today, Argyros didn’t care. He didn’t have a choice. Sweat poured down his grimy body, mixing with the thick layer of blood coating his skin from carrying his master’s old armor. His thin arms were deceptively strong after years of hard labor. But today they groaned under the weight he carried. His body cried for rest, but he couldn’t be late. The life of his master and through it, his only chance of saving his family rested in this armor.
Argyros was a helot, a slave to the Spartans and they were at war with the Persians and their mad emperor.
His master, exhausted from three days battle, waited for his new armor. His old one battered to pieces by the mad emperor’s elite guard, the Immortals. It was up to him, Argyros to bring the armor to his master who was using every second to regain his strength. Around the Spartan encampment, eight hundred of his kin scurried to assist their masters with various tasks before the Persians attacked again. Argyros increased his pace when he caught sight of his master, but didn’t see the broken spear on the ground. The slave tripped, hitting the ground with a clatter, the armor falling with him.
Before he could get up, he heard a slew of curses thrown at him in Greek, the preferred tongue of the Spartans. The slave was thrown aside as his master, Thaticus picked up his precious armor. “You worthless cripple. I should cut your head off for damaging my armor.”
“I’m sorry sir.” Argyros replied in Greek. All Helots were supposed to speak in Greek while serving the Spartans. Struggling back onto his feet, Argyros didn’t bother dusting the dirt off his body. Trivial things like didn’t matter to the Helot anymore. Instead he proceeded to tighten the straps of the armor around the big Spartan. When he was done, he took a step back and looked in awe at the human war machine standing in front of him. As much as he hated the Spartan, he admired their discipline and courage. Thaticus, his master was third in command only standing below King Leonidas, and Prince Madian. These three were the strongest, smartest and most brutal warriors Argyros had seen. He had watched from afar has the three men carved into the ranks of the Persians with disturbing ease. They were indeed shaped after Ares himself.
“Bring me something to eat helot. I need more food.” Thaticus turned to look at him, the man’s face hidden behind the giant wolf shaped helmet. “And tell King Leonidas that I need to see him now.”
“Yes master” the slave replied hobbling away. He would pass the message to the king first and then bring his master the food. At the pace that he could move, Argyros could take in everything going around him with ease. The remaining Spartans rested, ate or were binding strips of cloth over their bleeding wounds. None of them seemed worried or concerned about the imminent death that awaited them. The Greek army had been two thousand strong until four days ago when King Leonidas had sent the majority to meet King Namdien. Now the only thing that stood between the Persians and the rest of Greece was two hundred and fifty battered Spartan warriors.
Outside the King’s tent, two soldiers stood guard. “I’m here to give a message to the king from Lord Thaticus” he told them, and moved into the tent. The tent any king would have been lavishly decorated; there would have been comfortable bedding, drinks and women. This was not any ordinary king, this was a Spartan king, and they were completely military minded. War was their life and it was evident in the king’s living quarters. There was skimpy piece of cloth on the ground that Argyros assumed was his bedding, and the remaining space was covered with maps, documents, weapons and armor.
“If you hadn’t sent the Athenians to meet Namdien, we might have actually survived this Leonidas.” The only person allowed to talk to the king like that was his second-in-command, and brother, Prince Madian. “Instead we have a handful of wounded and exhausted men.”
“We were never going to win this battle brother. We are the diversion, the resistance. We are here to make sure that Namdien gets enough men to launch the naval attack. That is how we are going to win this war and save Sparta.” The king spoke with a smile on his face. He didn’t even seem to care that death was upon them all.
With a pained look on his face, “What about Amainia and Ledius?” asked Madian.
The expression on the king’s face changed. Amainia was his wife. “A Spartan woman knows what her husband’s role is in this life. Amainia will bring up my son Ledius well and tell him who his father was.” With a sad smile, “be strong my brother. We fight for our people and their future. Now let us see what the Thaticus has to say. I see his helot here.”
With a shock Argyros realized that the two most powerful men in Greece were looking at him. Shaking off a shiver, he spoke. “Sires, the Lord Thaticus would like to speak to you immediately, King Leonidas.”
A booming laughter breaking out the kings sterns almost scared him as much as the king’s stare. “Thaticus probably has some crazy plan to kill Xerxes. The man is truly a Spartan.”
“A reckless one, with harebrained schemes that almost got us killed today.” The Raven Prince, named for his cunning and intelligence said, “He caused most of our injuries today.”
Putting a hand on his brother’s shoulder as if to calm him, King Leonidas spoke, “he is also the reason we survived the attack from the Immortals.”
“Helot” Barked the Prince, “tell Thaticus that we await him.”
Grabbing a bowl of hot stew, Argyros made his way back to his master. Handing him the bowl, “King Leonidas and Prince Madian are expecting you in the king’s tent sire.”
“The ignorant little prince is there?” spat Thaticus, spit and pieces of lamb stew hitting the cripple. Afraid to answer, he let his master throw back the rest of his stew and watched him march down with the look of the devil to the king’s tent. “Warriors” thought Argyros, “everything needs to be sorted out violently.”
Argyros found something to eat himself, and sat down with some of his friends. Looking around the bunch of young and old men alike, all forced to servitude, Argyros saw broken spirits and lost souls. These men knew as did they that they were all going to die in the next few days. The Spartans had no hope of defending the pass for much longer. “But that’s all we need” he told himself remembering King Leonidas’s words. “But that’s all we need” he told the broken spirits around the fire. “We just need to keep the Persians occupied for a few more days and King Namdien might have enough time to save our families.”
“What do you mean Argyros?” asked a graying man, “this was the main attack against the Persians.” Voices around the fire mumbled agreements with the man’s statements.
Shaking his head vehemently, “no, no you don’t understand. I overheard the King telling Prince Madian that this is just a distraction. The real battle is being led by king Namdien, that’s why the Athenians were sent away.”
“So this is a suicide mission?” The helot who spoke was eighteen or so, just a couple of years younger than himself realized Argyros. “Yes, but what matters is that our families can survive. They won’t have to deal with Xerxes, and I will fight for that.”
Amidst the muttering, the old man’s voice stood out in question. “The Spartans would never let us take arms. They would rather kill us than let us help.”
“I thi- I know” Argyros resigned finally and the men returned into silence.
The rising sun was greeted by armed Spartans, standing at ready and blocking pass of Thermopylae from the approaching hordes of Persians. At the forefront of the lines stood King Leonidas the Lion, Prince Madian the Raven and Lord Thaticus the Wolf. Behind the rows of Spartans stood the helots, anxious and nervous but ready to serve their masters if needed. Argyros could feel the nerves among the helots and Spartans.
They all knew that surviving this day was going to be challenge.
First came the noise. Argyros couldn’t see them but he could hear the screaming charge of two hundred and fifty thousand raving mad Persians. The noise scared him. All he heard was screaming. Then he saw them, waves upon waves of soldiers crashing into the lines of Spartans and he knew they were going to die.
Hours passed and the Spartans still held on, “maybe we can survive” thought Argyros. As the battle continued, the Persians kept coming and the Spartans kept falling back with exhaustion. But they still fought on and the hope in Argyros increased with each passing hour. As midday approached, Argyros was shocked to hear the screams of Persians behind him. Turning back, he knew that death was coming soon. He realized that the Persians had found a way around the pass. There was no way that the Spartans could hold both the back and the front, and still hold on for the rest of the day.
Grabbing a fallen sword, Argyros turned towards the helots around him. “Either we die as slaves, or we die saving our families.” The men looked uncomfortably at each other. Enraged, he screamed “the choice is yours, but I am going to fight. I am going to save our families.”
He ran forward, sword in hand and slashed it furiously at the first Persian. The man crumbled under the sheer strength, but before he could attack the next man, he felt the harsh pain as the curved Persian sword ran through his chest. Tears streamed out of his body as did blood from his chest, but before he blacked out, he saw his kin, and remaining helots running forward to meet the enemy sword in hand.