“How far are we from the arena?” asked Cynbel. The Spartan looks back at the gemstone.
“Hopefully, not much further,” said Amyntas. Out of all the groups, theirs was the only one to make it out of the woods and into the desert, where the spartan began his journey some time ago. As they entered the vast sand sea, they were surprised by how hot the sand still was. Yet, they pushed on.
And on. And on, until the effects of the desert began to play, it tricks on them. At first, they passed it off as moon madness and continued onward. Then things got much harder. The sand grew hotter, the air tasted of smoke, and it felt like the sky was growing darker. After a few miles, their beasts could not continue the journey and died of exhaustion.
Grabbing their belongings, the heroes still pressed on. From here, the effects of the dessert did not stop. Amyntas kept telling himself and Cynbel that they were close, but it seemed like they had been walking for days. Soon they began to feel the weight of their belongings.
“I need a rest,” said Cynbel. She felt her legs tire and losing strength. Amyntas turns around and helps her keep moving. His little gestures work, for a while, until Cynbel collapses herself. Setting down his gear, he grabs Cynbel and carries her on his back and carries both hers and his equipment. Despite wanting to quit, his spartan training prevented him from so. He pushed onward, one step at a time.
For a while, it seemed all was good until Amyntas took one wrong step, causing him and Cynbel to fall down the side of a dune. They tumble down and land face first. Their gear was scattered across the sands. The spartan slowly lifts his head up and slowly began to feel the effects.
“Got to keep moving,” he said, struggling to get up but to no avail. He then sat in the sand and began to drift off. As he closed his eyes, he remembers the last moment with his mother, before leaving for Plataea.
Sparta-a week after the Battle at the Hot Gates
After the Salamis victory, the Persians no longer had their navy to support the rest of their army. While Xerxes left to go back home, he left general Mardonius to oversee the rest of the invasion. During this time, Sparta and Athens manage to ally.
Pausanias, nephew of the fallen king, would lead the Spartan forces and his regent Pleistarchus, his cousin. As the two leaders prepared discussed where to attack with their Athenian allies, many young Spartans who had not fought in the BattleBattle of Thermopylae were eager to test their prowess against the Persian invaders.
Once, such spartan was a young man named Amyntas. His father fought alongside king Leonidas as one of the king’s bodyguards at the BattleBattle of Thermopylae was but was not allowed to partake in the Battle as he was deemed too young and inexperienced.
This irritated the young man as he wanted to fight, but his father told him the day before he left that he soon had his chance. After learning about what happened to his father, the opportunity arose once more. At his family’s house, he went and gathered his father’s armor and sword. As he began to dress, he noticed he was missing his father’s shield.
To a spartan, a shield is more than just a form of defense. It represents everything about the spartan culture, history, people, loyalty to the state, and honor. He could not partake in the war without his father’s shield.
Searching all over the house, he hears the sounds of soft footsteps behind him. He turned around and saw his mother with his father’s shield.
“Looking for this?” she said. His mother was Katerina, a proud spartan woman. As a young woman, she excelled in the Olympic games as well as logic. She came from an imposing and respected Spartan family.
Everyone young Spartan male tried to make her a wife, but all failed, except for Amyntas’s father, who, according to her, saw something that she admired. She stood medium height with long, curly brown hair. Her eyes were golden like the summer sky and wore a simple white tunic that covered her entire body. She then walked over to her son and presented the shield to her son.
“Why did you hide this?” he asked.
“At first, I did not want you to go. But then I realized that you are as stubborn as your father. You are a Spartan. I always admired that trait about him,” she chuckled. Handing him the shield, the young soldier marveled at how light it was.
“That shield belongs to your grandfather and his father before him. It is our most trusted item in this family.” Just outside the house, two Spartan guards knocked on the door. Katerina opened it and knew why they were here.
“Has the army been summoned?” she asked.
“Pausinas is moving the army, we need Amyntas to come with us,” said one Spartan. She turned back at her son and then again at the two older Spartans.
“Spare us one moment?” she asked. The Spartans obliged but told her to make it quick. Closing the door, she went back to her son. Going into a nearby chest, she pulled out a cloth. Unraveling the material, inside was a beautifully crafted spear. She then hands it over to her.
Amyntas was lost for words. Though trained to control his emotions, he could not hide the fact that he was shocked and amazed.
“Matre, I do not know what to say?” he said.
“There isn’t anything to say, except that I could not be more proud,” she replied. Katerina then leaned in for a hug and held her son close. She kissed him on the cheek and helped him for his journey.
Packing him some rations for the battles ahead, she placed everything in a small leather bag. Giving it to her son, she was about to open the door when she saw her son’s expression change.
“Nervous?” she asked. Amyntas nods his head. Letting go of the handle, she turned to him and offered him some advice.
“Amyntas, I know you are Spartan. You have been preparing for this your whole life. War is in your blood as it is in mine and your fathers. Let me tell you what my father told me whenever he went to war. He said that war is like a storm. You will bask in the sunlight for one moment, and be shattered on the rocks the next. Yet, what makes a spartan is what he does when that storm comes. When it does, you must look into that storm and shout DO YOUR WORST. I SHALL DO MINE!”
Amyntas suddenly wakes up from his dream. His mother’s voice helped him remember his purpose. Getting up out of the sand, he looked around for the stone. After a few minutes, he finds it hidden underneath his shield.
Grabbing it, he placed the stone in his pocket and gathered all the supplies in the sand. Putting them all in his shield, he then ties it to his back. He then looks and sees Cynbel still laid out in the sand. Rushing over to her, he gently picks her up, and like before, carries her—this time across his shoulder. With newfound strength, Amyntas shouts into the sky as he continued on his quest.
“DO YOUR WORST. I SHALL DO MINE.”