The Gathering

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Chapter 29

Amyntas went to lunge at Richard but was stopped by the sharp end of a spear point. The Spartan backs off. Just then, Ares enters the circle, looking smug as ever.

“My, aren’t we eager?” said Ares. He then lets out a bellowing laugh that echoed throughout the area. Cynbel and Amyntas glare at him.

“You were right, Richard, these new humans are idealistic. They can never see past the black and white. A pity, I’d hope they see the truth.”

“And what truth is that?” growled Cynbel.

“The truth, my dear, is that it is pointless to resist. Do you know how many earthlings have died on this planet, trying to fulfill some forgotten prophecy? It is sad and pathetic. Richard, however, is different. He knows the reality of this place. Only the iron will of Kairos can bring true peace to this world.” Amyntas could not stand this kind of talk. It reminds him of too much of the Persian king Xerxes who sang the same tune, offering peace in exchange for freedom. He then walks up to the god of war and stares directly into his face.

“I’ve known many men like you, Ares. Loyal dogs to a master. A master prides himself a god-king. I have heard of men like that, and they all suffer from the same weakness, pride. Tell lord Ares, if your master is so great, then why has he found it difficult to kill a few more humans. Perhaps he is not as powerful as he thinks. Or maybe you are a poor soldier.”

Just then, Ares grabs the spartan by the throat and lifts him in the air. Cynbel tries to intervene but is stopped by two of Ares’s. Ares looks at the spartan with hate and venom in his eyes. His hand wrapped around Amyntas’s neck, and if he wanted to, he could easily snap it like a twig. He pulled the Spartan close to his horn helm and spoke in a dark growl.

“There will be no glory in your sacrifice. I will erase even the memory of the seven from the histories! Every piece of humanity shall burn. Every Chroni elder and every scribe shall have their eyes pulled out, and their tongues cut from their mouths. Why uttering the very name of you humans will be punishable by death! The world will never know you existed at all!”

Despite presenting a dark image to the human, Amyntas was not fazed. Instead, he gave his reply to the war god in a soft manner.

“The world will know that free men stood against a tyrant, that few stood against many, and before this war is over, even a god-king can bleed.” Many of Ares’s men were taken aback by such a profound statement.

Even Lord Ares was impressed. Even in the face of death, this one human had a backbone. Ares’s expression then changed to a sinister smile.

“I like you, Spartan. You’re not soft like the others.” The might warlord then lets go of Amyntas. The spartan falls to the ground. Cynbel pushes past the soldiers and helps her friend up.

“Are you alright?” asked Cynbel.

“I’m fine,” Amyntas replied.

“Perhaps I can request lord Kairos to recruit some Spartans once this is over. Now Richard, may I see the stone.” As Richard went into his pouch, Amyntas saw a glimmer of the stone and realized that Richard and his friends made a mistake.

“Its green,” whispered Amyntas.

“What?” said Cynbel.

“The stone. Its green, Richard grabbed the wrong one.” Sure enough, it was green. The stone taken from the village was a moonstone, but it was not the moonstone. As soon as Richard presented his prize to the Warlord, Ares’s expression changed.

“What is this?” said Ares.

“Are you blind? Its the moonstone, as promised.” Ares began to glare at Richard.

“Do not try my patience, Richard. This is not the moonstone. I have seen it myself.” Richard tries to explain.

“Let me explain love. You see, my compatriots and I traveled to the now-deceased king Ursa and took their stone. We went back to the village and transformed it into a moonstone. Amyntas can vouch for me. After all, it was his plan.” Ares looks back at the spartan

“Does he speak the truth?” Amyntas look at Ares, then at Richard and then back at Ares.

“He is right, for once. I came up with the plan to attack the wendigo stronghold in the forest. We did acquire the stone and did head back to the village. However, there is a flaw in Richards story.” This grabs Ares, Richards, and Cynbel’s attention.

“Flaw?” said Ares.

“Richard and his friends were not with us when we went back to the village. They stayed behind. With that said, Richard cannot say this stone is a moonstone as he was not present.” Richard soon interjects.

“Don’t screw with me, Spartan! This stone is a bloody moonstone. Hell, you brought back Margret Hamilton, Alexander’s wife!”

“Why, Richard, don’t you remember? Only a mage can use the stone. Yes, the spells are in Greek, but it does not mean I can conjure up spells,” responded Amyntas in a false flabbergasted manner.

Richard began to sweat and felt the looming stare of Lord Ares hovering over his shoulder.

“Is this true?” asked Ares.

“No! H-he lies! This is a moonstone! I would not lie to you!”

“Not lie? That’s a first. You lied to us, saying that you and your friends will help us, and now you are lying again to him, expecting to pass of this green stone as a working moonstone,” said Amyntas.

“SHUT UP!” yelled Richard. He punches the Spartan in the face. The blow knocks the bronze helmet off the young man’s head. Blood trickles down Amyntas’s mouth. He simply spits it on the ground and looks hard at him. Ares was beginning to tire of this.

“Enough. There is only one way to see who is telling the truth, and since we are in an area, we shall have a martial challenge to the death. Soldiers, strip Richard and the spartan of their armor. Leave only their shoes and weapons.”

Suddenly a handful of soldiers surround the two earthlings, and they began removing all pieces of the armor off of their bodies. As the soldiers move away, Richard and Amyntas were left in their bare undergarments. The spartan wore only his red tunic and leather sandals. As for the English knight, a simple white shirt, black leather pants, a belt, and boots was all he wore.

With the two no longer wearing their armor, Ares orders his men to make a large circle around the two humans. Cynbel was pulled aside by the Warlord so that she did not interfere. The ring was reasonably large, around twelve feet in diameter.

The soldiers then moved their shields in front of them, making a metal barrier. Fully enclosed, Ares tossed Amyntas and Richard their weapons. Amyntas had his spear and xiphos, while Richard had his trusty two-handed sword. As both sides picked up their weapons, both sides began panning their attacks.

Knowing he had to take the initiative, Amyntas got into a fighting stance. He hunkered down, lowered his body, and held his spear over his left arm. He then began to move slowly towards the English knight. Richard did the same. Only a few feet separated the two warriors.

Making the first move, Amyntas thrust his spear at Richard. The knight parries the strike, sidesteps, and counters with a downward strike. The blade barely misses any vital organs but does leave a slash across Amyntas’s right arm. The young spartan sees Richard on his right and swings his spear at him. The spear tip cuts into his shirt, giving him his slash, this time across the belly. After getting a sense of each other’s abilities, the two soldiers finally go at it.

Though Amyntas was a spartan, one of history’s fiercest soldiers, one could not deny that Richard was an experienced soldier, one who has seen many battles in his lifetime. The confrontation was intense. Both sides attacked, and both defended and countered. Each received their share of cuts, bruises, slashes, and stabs.

They then break off from each other to catch their breath. Amyntas was surprised by Richard’s fighting prowess. He seemed to be more dangerous than the Persian immortals. As for Richard, the English knight knew he had to end this fight quickly. Just as Amyntas charged at him, he picks up some of the sand directly into the young warriors face.

The sand blinded him temporarily, allowing Richard to deliver the killing blow. Knocking the spear out of his hand, Richard thrust his sword into Amyntas’s gut, causing a gasp to come from Cynbel. She tried getting up but was held in place by Ares, who was eager to see the end. Pulling his sword, Richard sees the Spartan collapse and fall to his knees. Blood soon began to ooze onto the sand. He then uses the tip of his sword to lift the young warrior’s head.

"Dabit enim tibi ut sepeliam,” (We will give you a proper burial) said Richard in Latin.

Amyntas said nothing and smiled with blood in his teeth. The smile threw Richard off. Why would he be smiling? It was here that Richard forgot the most important things about Spartans. Spartans don’t fight fair. They fight dirty. Then, in one fluid motion, Amyntas grabbed the sword tip and broke half of the blade with his other hand.

Then with his left hand, he uppercuts Richard in the face. The punch knocks back the English knight. Keeping momentum, in his right hand, the spartan thrust his sword into Richard’s left shoulder and pulls him down to knee level. Here, Amyntas delivered an impressive knee strike into the center of Richard’s face, breaking his nose.

As Richard fell backward, Amyntas soon got on top of him and began to punch him repeatedly. The punches echo throughout the area. After a while, Amyntas stops his barrage and slowly gets off his opponent. Laying before his feet was Richard hawk, badly beaten and suffering severe bruising.

"πρώτος κανόνας μάχης, μην σταματήσετε μέχρι να ξέρετε ότι έχετε κερδίσει,” (the first rule of fighting, don’t stop until you know you have won) said Amyntas, panting heavily and clutching his bleeding wound. Just then, Ares began clapping his hands.

“Impressive Spartan. Most impressive. I could use a man like you in our ranks. A true warrior.” The powerful Warlord asks to have his men bring forward Richard’s body.

Two soldiers drag the bloody warrior towards the war god. Ares inspects Richard and then proceeds to kick him in the face with his metal boots. Despite the blow to the face, the English knight was still alive.

“Now what to do with you all?” said Ares. His men soon close around the wounded Amyntas and Cynbel.

“You said you would let us go,” said Cynbel.

“I made no such promise human. I only asked for the truth through combat. Now that I have my answer, I see no reason to have you. Like Richard, you are both worthless to me.”

“Let them go red beard,” said a familiar voice from the stands. Everyone looks up at the arena seats, and to the surprise and satisfaction of Amyntas and Cynbel, it was some familiar faces.

Their friends had come to save them.

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