[Bonus chapter]-Gods of the Aegean
For anyone who has read this far, I wanted to thank you by giving you this bonus chapter which adds a little more backstory. Thanks for reading and stay groovy!
This world is plagued by war and violence. For so long, I’ve known how every battle ends; how every soldier here dies — they say history is written by the victors but I don’t know who won…
A massive Athenian warship dropped its anchor amid the Aegean sea full of turquoise colored water that shimmered and sparkled. Lush islands surrounded the sea with jagged cliffs that reached as tall as Olympus. The priest burned incense atop the ship’s bow, thanking Poseidon for calm seas and fair winds. Blue shields displayed proudly on the side of the ship, embedded with a white owl; the symbol of the Delian League’s wisdom and authority.
Warriors and sailors leaned against the ship’s starboard side in their tunics, silently spectating an ensuing duel on a smaller boat casted across the sea. Wooden staffs contended against each other, their hollow shafts echoing and resonating after each blow. Drake, who was no older than sixteen perhaps seventeen, engaged the warrior across from him. His bronze body glistened from sweat and the afternoon sun. The ocean breeze smelled of salt as he took a breath and gripped his staff.
He had to be sure his grip was tight but not strangling. He was nude save for the white cloth that covered his cock and arse, secured by a thin rope wrapping his waist and golden braces around his wrists and ankles.
However, they stood not as a symbol of wealth but as property along with the glyph branded into the chest. He belonged to Ulysses whose noble house regarded him as property. Today was a demonstration of force to the leaders of the other city states. Athens would prove their merit by trial of combat; each city-states best warriors pitted against each other.
Each champion was hurled from the boat and devoured by the sea as Drake defeated them. His body ached, and the staff rubbed his hands raw. He pressed on through each duel, with Sparta’s champion, Lykos, being his last opponent.
Lykos bellowed as he charged, thrusting his staff towards Drake’s torso. He evaded him, shifting his weight to the left and countering. Lykos raised his staff, blocking the counter and resetting himself. Their weapons crossed again, each warrior waiting for an opening in the other’s guard.
Nearing exhaustion, Drake had to be judicious with each move. Sweat stung his eyes, and he continued blinking to flush away the nuisance. However, he learned quickly that even the smallest of nuisances could be the difference between life and death. He was swift, strong, and brave like the others. But three things set him apart: he was guileful, cunning, and exceptionally gifted in wielding a blade.
They told me I was the chosen one. From the day I could stand, I was trained to fight; amidst a sea much like this where I fought, and learned, and won...
He exhaled, and the world around him fell silent. His vision narrowed, focusing only on Lykos and the slightest shifts from waves rocking the boat. Their staffs collided as Drake pressed forward, out maneuvering Lykos with his superior footing. He noticed the slightest limp in the Spartan's left knee and circled his left side. As expected, Lykos failed to pivot in time to counter as Drake struck his side.
He fell to his knees and gasped from the decisive blow, clutching his ribs. Drake raised his staff overhead and brought it down, smashing against Lykos’ face. His body fell overboard and plummeted into the sea before rising to the surface and drifting away.
Not all were strong enough to serve our gods. But I was…
Drake’s staff fell, covered in wet blood. His hands trembled and his breaths strained. Seagulls circled overhead and for a moment, he enjoyed their squawks. His eyes widened, and he rotated his body, smashing an incoming arrow with the brace on his wrist. He watched its halves fall into the sea and shifted his gaze to the trireme anchored beside him.
The warriors and slaves applauded his victory. Ulysses stood amongst them, distinguished by his bronze armor and blue cape. He lowered his bow and nodded before returning to the leaders observing from the ship’s bow. They clapped at the marveling performance and cackled, spilling wine and groping whores beneath the ship’s canopy. Slaves catered to their every need and were punished by whip for the slightest mishap.
It had always been this way. Humans enslaved one another for as long as they invented gods to forgive them for doing it.
Each time Drake heard the cracking of a whip, his body froze and face went pale. The scars on his back stood as a testimony to his fear. Ulysses reminded him of his place in the world relentlessly and without mercy. A slave shrieked as a whip slashed into his flesh. The lashes continued as the slaves below deck lowered their oars into the sea and raised the anchor.
He stared into his palms, which had completely healed. A sailor cast a rope towards him and pulled his boat towards the trireme. He climbed the side of the warship where Ulysses greeted him, a whip in one hand and club in the other. Drake dropped in an instant, prostrating himself before Ulysses.
His master grunted, satisfied and coiled the whip.
“You’ve done well today,” he tersed. “Stand.”
Drake stood obediently and lowered his head. He realized early on, less eye contact meant fewer lashings.
“It’s been decided. Your blood will create more warriors like you. You are the key to the conquest of the Peloponnesian league. Soon we will have a unified Greece. This is the will of the gods.”
He lifted Drake’s face by the chin and gazed into his eyes.
Ulysses chuckled. “Such magnificent blue eyes. You really are — my precious little treasure. It’s a shame I couldn’t use your sister.”
He released Drake and scorned. Drake could no longer conceal his defiance and hatred, his eyes betraying him. Ulysses raised a flute, fashioned by ivory and simple in design.
Drake stumbled back. “No, please…”
He played a soothing fantasia that accosted only Drake in a low frequency undetectable by human ear. He covered his ears and closed his eyes. When he opened them, he gasped, mortified. Thin cords suspended his body in the air by the arms and legs. The world and everything around him was red — red like blood, with a darker moon resting over him. Water rippled beneath him and the flute’s melody continued, driving him demented.
He looked at an arm as it melted to the bone; the other followed along with his legs. Drake could only scream before fainting. His eyes opened and when they did, the first thing he saw was his hands planted on the ship’s deck. He looked up to see Ulysses strolling away with his personal guard.
Ulysses looked over his shoulder and said coolly: “Know your place.”