Geraneia 3/3 [English]

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Wolves started to appear, a good distraction for the guards. In an instant I was already going around the wall on the west side. It was between the rocks and the precipice and I was so close to the wall that I could hear guards talking. In the background, the howling from the wolves attracted the attention of some of them and they went to see what it was about. Although the path was clear, I had to walk with caution because it was not a windy night and the wolves were the only guarantee that I had to get around the fort without hearing me.

When I reach the end of the wall, I climb some steps and realize the tower on the north side was empty. To continue or not to plan to invade from the east? That is the question. I have always had and still have problems with attention and strictly following a plan. But what can I do? I see it as a sign of the gods. The tower was the highest point in the fort and it would take some time for the wolves to finish eating so I would be able to replan.

The climb was easy, despite the height. By the torchlight I could count eighteen men. This proportion is no less favorable than that of the Spartans in Thermopylae. I suddenly hear a floor directly below me. Nineteen men. It was the first I’d send to Hades. There could be no scandal, death would have to be perfect. I slowly pulled out my dagger and crouched and waited for him to climb the ladder to attack him from behind. When his head appeared through the hole I waited for him to rise no more than the time of a eye blink and then I buried the blade in his throat, covering his mouth with my forearm. There was no time to even raise his hands. His face was one of terror. After feeling his muscles fade, I threw him off the wall. Nobody would find him. The bad thing about this type of death is that a lot of blood is spilled, it draws a lot of attention.

The next to see Charon (Boatman who carries the souls of the newly dead through the waters of the Acheron River to the gates of the underworld) was alone in the next tower, in the middle of the north wall. The other men were entertained by the wolves. For this one I decided an acute death, with my newly purchased arrows. The distance was good, around twenty-five steps (20.5 meters). The moonlight offered good conditions and in a breath the arrow went through the neck. Unable to shout, the unfortunate man started down the stairs. I was wrong to think I got a perfect shot. In a jump, I ran crouched down the hall as he came towards me. I pierced his breastplate with my sword, which had gone through his back. I threw him out of the wall. So far I have only seventeen left.

The third was in the east tower. Crouched I went towards my target, but I was unfortunate to make a noise by stepping hard on the wooden floor.

– Pelios, is that you? Could you get the water I left down there, please? It’s a hot night, don’t you think?

– Uhum. – I confirmed, trying to thicken my voice.

I went up the stairs with the water jar in one hand and a δόρυ (dóru – spear) in the other, waiting for the man’s face to appear as a snake on the verge of the attack. When the man crouched, I popped his eyes with the spearhead, just as Zeus annihilates anyone with his lightening. Unfortunately I couldn’t throw it over the wall, because there was a guard below. The east side, surrounded by a forest, had corridors with more than one floor. I left the body right there in the corner.

The man below would be the last to be alone, the others were either busy trying to scare the wolves away or were in the kitchen a few steps away. I waited for the moment when the unfortunate man passed me and then jumped with the sword ready to hit him in the back. But there was a stone in the way, I tripped and fell over him. Scared, the man stood up with his shield protecting him.

– But what is this? – He asked in amazement.

I couldn’t let him scream. It was not the time to draw attention. A fight in a narrow place against someone with a shield is not a fair fight, don’t you think? In the blink of an eye I looked to the side and saw a lamp and instinctively took it and threw it over his head and in an instant he was on fire. The malaka turned to open the door, towards the kitchen. Even in flames, I grabbed him by the back and dragged him to the balcony of the tower. I managed to throw him, but I drew attention.

Two men came out of the kitchen and started walking towards the tower. I left the dead man’s spear beside the door and I tightened my bow. Even in the gloom it was possible to see them to walk drunk.

– What was this? – Said one with a slurred voice.

– I don’t know, I need to throw up, but what the fuck is that wine?

-Kykeon your malaka.

– Fuck, I’m feeling bad. – And then I hear the sound of the vomit. – If I see that slut again, I swear by Zeus I will kill her.

I soon realized that the false delivery ofKykeon had worked, but unfortunately not everyone drank it. With the spear in my right hand and sword in my left I stood by the door, waiting to be opened. What an mistake! The dead man’s shield was on the ground but it was too late to get rid of it. When the door was opened, one of them went straight to the parapet to throw up and the other looked at the floor.

– Hey, where’s Nestor? This is his shie…

When I buried the spear by the back of his neck, a river of blood flow from his mouth. By the time of three heartbeats, the other man’s neck is torn by the blade of my sword. I now had two more bodies, a floor all smeared with blood and vomit and my hands burned from the burnt oil. It looked like it couldn’t get any worse.

The remaining men were on the south side of the fortress trying to chase away the wolves. I then went to the kitchen to wash my hands to remove excess blood and oil. The kykeon had been drunk, but unfortunately only by the two drunks already dead. It was possible to see the room where Heliodoros said the treasure was supposed to be. But carrying such a heavy chest through the walls was out of the question, I had to leave through the gate. Observing the situation through the window, I saw that there was no way to avoid a conflict face to face. Twelve remained. In an attempt to increase my odds, I resorted to a few jars of oil on the side of the door. I carefully poured the liquid in front of the kitchen and the central room, making a straight line from end to end between the east and west walls. Behind the flammable line next to the door to the central room, I fired an arrow that hit a man on the edge of the parapet that fell. I now had eleven soldiers staring at me.

– Intruder! – Shouted one of them

– Attack! – Cried another.

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Three of them drew their bows and fired at me. The sound of the arrows was like angry wasps ready to sting. The nine remaining came running towards me. I directed an arrow at a torch which then began to burn. When the third stepped on the wet area, I aimed at the floor and shot. Instantly a wall of fire was formed and four soldiers were consumed by the flames. The other four went to get around the walls. With another arrow I hit the last one to climb the stairs from the east. Six remaining.

When I turn to see the archers, two of them felt from the walls into the fort’s floor.

– The gate is being attacked! – Shouted one who was coming towards me.

No, it was not, I thought. Either it wasn’t meant to be or I wasn’t the only one to invade.

Two came side by side towards me, both with doru and ὅπλον (hóplon – circular shield). Walking slowly with the spearhead over the shield, they tried to push me against the outside wall of the kitchen like a cornered boar to be killed after a hunt. When I felt the heel on the solid wall, I threw the sword in the man’s face on the left. Instinctively the one on the right fired a blow, which hit the wall. As I dodged, I launched myself at his shield and we rolled a few steps. Already standing, I climbed on his heavy shield and withdrew his spear. With a strong blow I pierced the shield of the second soldier who was already coming towards me. Then I take out my dagger and attacked the back of the head of the first one, who was getting up. When I turned around, the last survivor was already so close that I could hear his breath. In his right hand, a sword ready to behead me, but an arrow strikes him from behind through the neck and when he fell I see a familiar face.

– Bulis! What is happening?

– Good job misthios.

– What are you doing here?

– Your job is over. Kill her!

Bastard. One more piece fit the puzzle. Counting on Bulis, he had five more enemies. The first came on my left, slipped in an oil puddle and with a kick I sent him to the wall of fire. I managed to retrieve my sword and retreated to the tower on the east side, where the two dead drunks were.

I confess that on some occasions I am a little suicidal, either throwing myself or jumping on an enemy. I always worked alone, I never got used to behaving like in a battle formation and I used my luck in these moments of madness as an surprise factor. It was as if for a brief moment I didn’t care about the consequences of my death. Perhaps the lack of having roots down on an place like Sarpedon used to say would make me not to hesitate.

But staying calm and acting consciously all the time during a combat is the most difficult part of my job. Instinct often cries out to take control of the situation and then I find myself in front of the tower parapet. To jump or not jump? To run or not run? Suddenly I could feel a voice whispering in my mind “Arimnestos”. They sounded like divine words from Athena to Odysseus’ ears. Immediately the image of the great hero of my people came to mind. I understood the divine message. Retreat but never to flee. As soon as I turned around, I ran to the opposite parapet and jumped over the men up the stairs. I shouted so loud that even Poseidon could hear inside his submarine palace. Great fury clouded my vision, narrowing it and with great madness I began to strike blows at my pursuers. For the first, still on the ground, I pierced his right leg that a great river of blood has begun to flow. For a second, already on his feet, continuous strikes of swords and kicks in his shield made him fall again. I grabbed a leg by the arms and with all my strength threw him against a wall. The sound of his head shattering around the corner scared the remaining three. The third, with a spear, ran towards me to attack my left. I dodged but the bastard managed to scrape the spearhead on my shoulder. What a lacerating pain. The fourth, Bulis, with a false smile tried to attack me with an axe.

– You fight well, like a dirty rat.

– And yet your men died at my hands.

The heavy axe sparked when it hit a wall. With the weapon stuck, I took the opportunity to take a few steps back and draw my bow. One shot hit his left arm and the other went through the breastplate and buried himself in the middle of the chest. The fifth and final man was already on his way to the gate. Coward. I couldn’t let him get away and warn more men. I took a javelin that was nearby and started running. “Zeus who commands the skies, guide me now.” I cried out, then threw the javelin that went through the left thigh and made him to fall. It was the last.

At that moment all the pressure of the fight faded, my vision returned to normal and I fell on my knees with pain in the whole body and shiver down my spine. That is the price you pay for a few moments of insanity. When I recovered my mind, I looked around. “What the fuck happened here? Is that worth a hundred drachmas?” I must have thought.

After resting for a while I went to the central room and break down the door because I was in no mood to look for the key. In fact, there was not much treasure, three chests full of coins and other valuables. But what caught my attention was an armor hanging on the wall that even in the lamplight glowed like the sun. Golden armor with the breastplate in the shape of a ram’s face. A beautiful spoil. I put a chest on a cart together with the armor and some other things and went back to Heliodoros’ farm with Bálios in place of the ox.

Hunger potentiates anger and at that moment I wanted to crush that bastard’s head in a forge. Upon arrival at the farm, still empty, I left the chest in the central courtyard and climbed on the roof until dawn. In the first sunrays, I heard a door opening and the voice of Heliodorios:

– Where’s Bulis? It was supposed to be here. But what chest is this? Who brought it here? Bulis? Nobody saw him?

When opening the chest, Helidóros exclaims:

– What is it? They are the helmets of my soldiers. Guards! Come …

I shot between his feet. Before he could even turn around, I jumped off the roof with a dagger in my hand and grabbed it from behind with the blade around his neck.

– Athenian drachmas! Athenian drachmas. You either have a lot of passion for owls or you tried to trick me. Which of the two options will be the correct one, old man? You thought that I would be killed and when they discovered the money with me you could denounce Hippárinus of attempting Megaris being financed by Athens. As a precaution you sent Bulis to watch over me. I just sent twenty-three today to Hades. Don’t worry, I put a coin on each one of them for Charon, but I took it from your treasure, if you don’t mind.

– I knew you were too smart, misthios.

– Take a look! Do you see it? You are responsible for me having my hands burned, you bastard.

– What you want?

– Kill you, but that would get me in trouble, so take those flowers. – I released him and hit hard in his face.

Malaka! – He screamed. You broke my nose.

– A hundred drachmas, isn’t it? Here is a hundred, my payment. Fifty more for to trick me. Twenty-five more for the rate of burnt hands and twenty-five more because I’m not on a good day. You already know what will happen if you try to tease me again. And don’t even think about taking my name to the assembly, I have evidence and witnesses against you and at the moment you have five men less to kill them.

– You bastard!

Hungry and sleepy, I rode to the city to Sarpédon’s workshop.

– I need a shower.

– Kassandra? What happened? You are all covered in blood.

– I need a bath and a piece of cheese.

– Okay, but please leave the workshop, don’t desecrate the god with all that blood. Melissa!

The warmth of the water and sleep made me to take a quick nap. There was so much blood embedded in my body that the water came out red and black. After eating a piece of cheese and bread, I went back to the workshop.

– Now you look okay misthios.

– I need greaves, bracelets and a new helmet.

– And armor.

– No, I don’t. See, my rewards.

– Such a beauty! I don’t know of any blacksmith capable of carrying out work in such detail. It is iron, of course, but the eyes are gold and the horns bronze, at least on the surface. The grooves in the abdomen are very well made. But it’s more like a ceremonial piece than combat armor. The thickness is regular throughout the piece, but I think it is too thin for protection.

– It doesn’t matter, I want to use it. Can you make it?

– I can add a layer of leather with iron scales inside. It will make it heavier, but it will protect you.

– So do it. How much?

– Forty.

– Twenty.

– Thirty-five.

– Twenty five.

– Thirty three.

– Twenty.

– Twenty?

– Ha ha ha! Just kidding. Thirty.

– It’s ok.

– Three more for the bath and the cheese. Do you have wine?

– Yes. But now?

– Sure, let’s drink.

– For what?

– What do you mean, “for what?”

– Drinking for drinking?

– I already drink without winning anything, why not when winning such prize?

– You drink too much Kassandra. But tell me about your last service. Two days ago you refused new weapons and now you want a full panoply. You must have earned a big prize. How was it?

– Take a glass and sit down, it’s a long story.

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