The Gathering

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Chapter 1

Platea 479 BC

Today was going to mark the end of the war. Years of fighting, countless men lost, the burning of Athens had led to this. The last and final engagement of the Persian invaders and the Greek warriors in the town of Platea. The combined forces of Sparta and Athens created a coalition force of 38,000 strong. Every man in this army wanted revenge for those that died in the Thermopylae pass and those defending Athens. The Greeks had to win this battle. The Persians lost their entire navy a year earlier and are now stranded on land. However, this was the same Persian army that fought against Spartan king Leonidas not so long ago.

At Platea, the ancient town, the alliance made camp outside the town’s walls and waited for the enemy. Hours passed until Greek scout reported back to the Greek commanding officer Pausanias, the nephew of the fallen king Leonidas. The young Greek was exhausted and needed to rest to catch his breath.

“What news have you brought?” asked Pausanias.

“Commander, the Persian army... is less than a mile from us. They will be here in the morning,” replied the scout. Pausanias seemed intrigued by this news.

“Who is commanding the army?”

“The Persian commander Mardonius, sir. He is in command of what remains of the Persians.” Pausanias was delighted by this news. The Persian army was less than a mile from camp. He grabbed a cup of wine and gave it to the young Greek.

“Thank you, boy, now go spread the word to all the men in the camp of this. I know they are itching for a fight.”

The young Greek gulped the wine down and bowed before leaving the tent to spread the word. Pausanias looked up at the night sky and spoke, almost whispering to the spirits of the fallen. He then pours himself a cup of wine and raises his glass high.

“This is for you, all the Greeks who have died. You will be avenged very soon.”

All through the night, the scout went from campfire to campfire, reporting his news to every Greek soldier. When the scouts arrived at the Spartan camp, he was greeted by a young Spartan soldier named Amyntas. Amyntas was a handsome Greek with curly brown hair and amber eyes. He was physically strong, in good health, and the youngest soldier in the army. Like all Spartan children, he trained in the agoge, a lifelong boot camp that teaches young Spartan boys into Spartan men. He stood around six feet tall and wore standard Spartan armor. From head to toe, he was encased in bronze. Though heavy, his training allowed him to move quickly.

On his back was a light spear made of sturdy oak and tipped with an iron spearhead. His helmet belonged to his father’s, as there were signs of battle damage. Amyntas looks at the young scout who was no older than him. The Spartan spoke in a deep voice that made the scout finch a little.

“What news have you brought?”

The scout stuttered a bit a moment. This was his first time meeting a spartan up close. Gathering his thoughts, the scout gave the reply he gave to the others and written confirmation.

“Mardonius commands the Persian army. He is less than half a mile away. He will be here at dawn. Make sure you spartan are ready.”

“Thank you for the information, report back to your commanders at once,” said the Spartan in a calm voice. The scout bowed and ran back to camp.

The Spartan looked to his left to see the vast open land surrounding the camp. To think that the enemy of the Greeks, who seemed far away, were closer than they initially thought. His anger for the Persians burned inside him. His father died along with many others in the Thermopylae pass. He wanted retribution, and he would have it soon.

Amyntas then turns around and heads back to his commanders’ tent. Walking through the camp, he passes his fellow Spartans, boys who he fought and trained with at a young age. Every man in this army was a brother, and they protected one another. All had lost fathers, brothers, uncles, and sons to the Persians. He knew that when the battle commenced, no quarter would be given to the enemy. Once he got to the Commander’s tent, he was stopped by two elite Spartans Pole marks, those chosen to be the personal guards of the commanding general.

“State your name,” asked one of the guards. Amyntas removes his helmet. “My name is Amyntas, and I have information for the general, it’s important.”

“Let him through,” said a voice inside the tent. The two guards allow Amyntas to pass. As he enters the shelter, he bows before his Commander, who was in a meeting with his fellow officers.

Setting his helmet on the table, the young spartan presents the document to his commanding Spartan general Amompharetus. The older spartan unravels the parchment and reads very thoroughly. Amompharetus then passes the information to his officers, and they begin to read it. After a brief silence, one of the Spartans looks up.

“Is this accurate?” inquired the Spartan.

“Yes, it is, sir,” said Amyntas. “They will be here at dawn.”

Amompharetus smiles with satisfaction. Finally, the Spartans will avenge their fallen king and brothers at the Thermopylae pass. He turns his attention to Amyntas and gives a pat on the shoulder, showing his appreciation.

“This news pleases me, Amyntas, tomorrow we will avenge our fallen comrades and bathe the ground with Persian blood. Tomorrow, we will end this war once and for all.”

“I look forward to it, sir,” Amyntas said with pride. After his father’s death, Amyntas was quickly rushed into military service. He could not think of a perfect way to begin his military career than being a part of this coalition. Getting his helmet off the table, he puts it back on and bows before leaving the tent. Amompharetus turns his attention back to his two officers and gives them new orders.

“Tell every man to be ready tomorrow. Have them get their weapons sharpened and their shields polished, along with their helmets. No drinking tonight, I want every man sober tomorrow and in fighting strength. Now go.” The two officers nod and leave the tent soon after.

Back with Amyntas, he was at his tent on the east side of camp. As he entered his tent, he set aside his shield and helmet and lay down on his bed. Only he could not fall asleep; his mind was on other things. The thought of tomorrow’s battle was all he could think about. He had been training for this his entire life. Now the moment was here. Letting his mind rest for tomorrow, he closes his eyes and drifts off into sleep.

The next morning, he and the rest of the army get ready for battle. Some of the men wash; others put their armor on. Helmets, shields, body armor, spear, and swords were polished and ready for battle.

Amompharetus was at the head of the army, wearing his favorite red cape into battle. Its red color cast a shadow that blankets the army. With his officers beside him, he orders the army to march in close formation. Huddled together, they then walk away from the town and join the rest of the coalition.

As the army marched across the grassy field, one Spartan officer saw the faint outline of the Persians across from them. Amompharetus halts the Spartans several yards away from the main army. In clear view, they could see their hated foe. The remaining Persian army consisted of infantry, cavalry, and the Persian army’s deadliest unit: ‘The Immortals,’ which killed the 300 Spartans. Amyntas breathes heavily and tightens his grip on his shield and spear. His palms were sweaty, and his breathing was rapid. Trained to be superhuman, the young spartan could feel a cold shiver of fear run up his spine.

One Spartan to his left nudges him out of his trance. “Quit worrying so much; it will get us killed.”

The older Spartan was right. Fear in the ranks would doom everyone. Taking a moment to calm himself, Amyntas hardens his gaze at the Persians. No one dared to say anything. The Spartans prepared themselves for the enemy. Suddenly the Persian cavalry, only several yards away, begins to charge. Not too far behind, Mardonius and his ‘Immortals’ follow quickly behind.

Amompharetus gives the order for a shield wall or Phalanx. The men tighten formation and lean forward, with shields in front to protect, and their spears poised ahead to thrust. With the enemy rushing towards them, Amompharetus gives the order to counterattack. In tight formation, the Spartans charge at the enemy.

The sounds of boots and horse hooves thunder across the grassy plains. The chants from both the Spartan and Persian forces fill the skies. As the two armies closed the distance between them, time seemed to stop all around them. There was no noise, no birds, no horses, not even the sounds of men prepared for battle. In that split moment, there was nothing.

The next moments happen so suddenly. Shields bashed into each other, spear piercing armor and flesh, dying men screaming for their mothers. Amyntas could hear all of this. The fighting was up close and brutal. Amyntas and a few other Spartans break formation once the Persian defenses crumble. “NO PRISONERS. NO MERCY!” Amyntas shouted at the top of his lungs. In his fury, he launches himself at a group of Persian Immortals. Blood lust consumed him as he began to attack his Persian enemies viciously. The young Spartan attacks were a mix of ferocity and skill. He bashes one enemy soldier with his shield and stabs him in the heart with the tip of his spear.

Blood oozes out of the soldier’s chest as he weakly tries to remove the spear. Amyntas rips the spear out and continues to fight. The carnage ensues for hours as more Persians begin to lay the field. More and more were being huddled together and slowly killed by the encompassing spartan army. Today is the day when Persia dies.

Amyntas’s helmet and shield were covered in blood as he continued to hack down more Persians. He then kicks a soldier and raises his sword to finish him. However, before he delivers the blow, he hears the sound of thunder come over him.

As he looks up into the sky, he sees dark clouds approaching. Something inside him told him to worry. This was no ordinary storm; the clouds appear darker than usual. Both sides stop fighting as they look up into the sky. Suddenly streaks of blue lightning fall upon the soldiers. Persians and Greeks alike were vaporized by the flash, only their weapons remained.

Chaos took the field as soldiers tried to run from the lightning. Amyntas himself tries to flee, but the Spartan is struck with such force and power unlike anything before that a loud CRACK consumes in the middle of battle.

The lightning engulfs the Spartan and scorches the earth around him. However, this lightning did not incinerate him instantly. Instead, he feels himself being torn apart piece by piece. He screams in agony as the pain is unbearable. Then the lightning disappears, the only part of Amyntas left at Platea is the scorched earth where he once stood.

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