"A Single Swing of Your Sword"Mature

Agamemnon smiled at the ancient king of Thessaly with his snow white beard and wrinkled face he looked like he would be better placed in a funeral pior rather than at the front of an army. And it was a sizable force he had to give him that. Spearmen, archers, light and heavy infantry and twelve chariots. My army could crush them like an ant. Agamemnon thought as the they stared at each other in a cold silence, Manarcus always had been a thorn in his side over the years, never rousing his men to fight for Agamemnon, always secretly supporting the other kings of Greece. But now Manarcus was the last king standing between him and complete and total control over the whole of Greece, his dream of a unified Greece was so close he could taste it. Hear all those men bowing down to him! The Great Agamemnon the King of Kings, he could see it now.

But the swirl of dust brought him back into the soon to be battlefield with the harsh mid day sun burning down onto the parched dry land. Above their heads a flock of crows circled on thermals cawing noisily. 'The crows are gathering,' Agamemnon finally said pointing his golden sceptre straight up into the air. 'They sense a feast.'

'Take your army off my land Agamemnon and I will let you and your dog’s live.' said Manarcus boldly.

'Bold words from an old man,' he laughed. 'I like your land! And your men, and your crown.'

'Agamemnon when are you going to stop? You can't have the whole world!' Agamemnon laughed again interrupting the old kings rambling. 'It's too big and too wild for one man to hold. Even the Gods don't have that much power.' he said with a shake of his head causing his crystalline beard to wobble from side to side.

'The Gods have not stopped me yet Manarcus,' he smiled. 'We outnumber you three to one you have no cavalry and we have the high ground,' Manarcus's face faltered when he heard the truth. 'Surrender and pledge your fealty to me and we will leave, it is that simple.'

'Never!' he spat moving back to his chariot.

'I do not wish to kill so many of my future soldiers. How about we settle this the old way,' turning at his words Manarcus raised an eyebrow. 'A smaller feast for the crows but it will let us all go home that much sooner.' for a short time the wind was the only thing that gave itself voice between them. 'Your best fighter against my best,'

'If my man wins,' Manarcus interrupted suddenly but Agamemnon let it pass. 'You will leave? Without bloodshed.'

'We will leave, very much...shamed.' Come on you old fool take the bait...take it...

'Very well.' Turning to leave Agamemnon smiled in victory his head already swimming with possible champions before Manarcus's voice bellowed across the sand,

'HERODOTUS!' a vast cheer shot from his army as they banged their spears against their shields. Turning Agamemnon just had time to see the biggest man he had ever seen break from the army practically throwing three men to the ground to get out to the front. Tall, broad as a door with muscles bulging with pent up rage every champion in his head disappeared. There was only one man who could kill this Titan, and he was back at camp sleeping. 'Do you care to name your Hero great king?' the old fool smiled with such smugness Agamemnon wanted nothing more than to beat his head in with his own sceptre! Breathing deep he tried to focus himself. Not call out he'd lose face and look a craven...

'Allow me a moment to deliberate with my fellow kings. I have so many possible champions in my army it is often hard to decide between them.' With that he jumped into the chariot and the driver lashed the black stallions back towards his forces. There must be someone else...there must.

'Achilles is the only one my King,' spoke Alexania when he dismounted the chariot.

'Achilles is as likely to spear me as he is him!' roared Agamemnon gabbing a finger at the titan across the dusty no-mans-land.

'We have many other champions, but only Achilles can guarantee us certain victory.' Spoke wise old Eutropius his own white beard more trimmed than Manarcus's and his brown eyes forever assessing the situation and it's possible outcomes. 'If another champion falls we must leave and,'

'NO!' he roared swinging his sceptre about wildly. 'I want this land! Greece is within my reach!'

'Then we need Achilles,' said Eutropius slowly. Sighing Agamemnon looked to the heavens seeing if the Gods had given him any other form of answer. None came.

'Of all the Warlords in all of Greece...I hate him the most.' he sighed again. 'Send for him...quickly!'

*

Charon rowed slowly through the glassy black surface of the water in his bone barge, cowled head covering his withered un-dead skin, his paddles barely cutting ripples through the strange black water. Achilles held the two coins in his hand ready to pay the boatman, it was his time...

'My Lord?' squeaked a soft voice. Firing out from his bed Achilles grabbed the tiny boy back the scruff of his collar making him jump in fear.

'Never sneak up on a sleeping warrior.' he said tiredly releasing him and resting his head back onto the soft animal furs. The nameless naked girl snoring gently next to him.

'Forgive me sir...King Agamemnon requires you.' the small dark haired boy said softly.

'Tell the King I'll see him in the morning...'

'My Lord...It is morning.' groaning Achilles knew where this was going. Springing from his bed he dressed in his armour, his greaves, vambraces, chest plate. 'Are the stories about you true?' the tiny lad asked as he passed him his shield and spears to hold while he sheathed his swords in their sheaths in the shield just below the wooden struts he looped his arm through. The golden blades flashing in the sun that poured in through the tent doorway. 'They say you killed a thousand men in one battle, that you sacked Menopalis single handed! They say your mother is an immortal goddess! They say you can't be killed.' the last sentence was a whisper as he tried to follow Achilles out the tent whilst carrying his shield that was almost as big as he was.

'I wouldn't be bothering with the shield then would I?' jumping onto his horse he placed his helmet on his head and reached down for his shield and spear.

'But...the man you're fighting...he's the biggest man I've ever seen. The soldiers say he's the son of Atlas!' Achilles had to smile, the tiny child message runners always heard the best gossip about camp. 'I wouldn't want to fight him.' he said shyly.

'When our bones are dust and our souls old men in the underworld...only our names will remain. And that reason alone, is why no one will remember your name.' he said to the small boy before kicking his horse into a gallop. The battlefield was soon approaching and Agamemnon's forces began to chant his name loudly as they parted for him, screaming down the small corridor they had carved for him Achilles revelled in that chant. 'Achilles! Achilles! Achilles!' Reaching the forefront his eyes first found his opponent, he was big. But Ajax was bigger. He's over confident too. The Thessalan only wore a slashed chiton down to his knees, grieves, vambraces and a pauldron on his right shoulder to protect that portion of his neck. Aside from that he was just flesh, muscled flesh, but still flesh. This is what Agamemnon called me here for.

'It's about time!' Agamemnon bellowed as the chanting sadly stopped and Achilles dismounted. 'I should have you whipped for such tardiness now get out there!' Staring at the fat, greedy coward of a king Achilles turned to begin making his way back through the armies ranks.

'Achilles, Achilles wait!' said Eutropius jogging towards him. The old general turned king was a smart warrior and even smarter politician, if he didn't respect him so much Achilles would have kept walking, but he stopped in his tracks. 'Look at these men Achilles, sons, fathers, husbands, uncles, cousins all! You could save hundreds of them with just a single swing of your sword.'

'He commands me to stay in camp and when he needs me he scolds me for not being at his side holding his hand!' he said angrily.

'I know. But he knows it as much as we do that you are the only one who can defeat this man.' pausing the wind whistled over the silent field of dust as Achilles stared at Agamemnon's soldiers. They were so young...too young. Spinning he moved over to Agamemnon.

'Imagine a king who kills his enemies himself, wouldn't that be a pretty sight.' Tossing his spear into his free hand Achilles broke into a jog, not stopping to hear the fat kings answer. His half naked opponent turned to his forces and rallied them with a huge scream, battering his own two spears against his huge long-shield. Quickening his pace as the man turned Achilles felt the thrill of battle course through his veins, livening his muscles, prickling his skin. With a mighty roar the huge man hurled his first of three spears. Flicking his shield in front of him the huge shudder of the spear digging into the plated wood sent a harsh jarring sensation up his shoulder. But did not slow him. Dropping his spear Achilles pulled on both sword handles before discarding his unbalanced shield into the dust, it was no use to him with a spear sticking through it.

Tossing the golden blades into the air he caught them both in each hand breaking into a sprint. Another mighty bellow shot through the thundering of his footsteps as the Thessalan threw his two remaining spears at once. Jumping into the air Achilles twisted until his body lay horizontal in the air, spinning so close to one of the spears he could have sliced it in half if he wanted too. Twisting again he landed on his feet. Sprinting at full speed the Thessalan drew his sword and when they were just feet apart swung. Dropping to the ground quickly Achilles felt the sword slice through the horse hair crest of his golden helm. Skidding along the sand he passed clean under his legs, and as he went, sliced both legs to the bone. Screaming in pain the massive man spun as he dropped with the momentum of the attack, his legs no longer able to hold his weight. As he crashed to his knees Achilles jumped to his feet and spun. Blocking the Thessalan's blade, cutting down with the second sword he parted hand from wrist with a spurt of blood. Before he even had time to scream in pain Achilles had sliced his shield arm off from the shoulder and opened his throat.

Spilling great volumes of crimson blood onto the dry earth. Agamemnon's forces cheered loudly as he turned to face the Thessalan force. 'DOES NO OTHER WISH TO FIGHT ME!' he bellowed parting his arms in challenge. They stared at him with blank, terrified faces. 'IS THERE NO OTHER!' Silence. Not even the wind answered his challenge. A man with a frost white beard and bright blue eyes approached him, due to his armour and the sceptre in his hands, Achilles judged him to be the king of his army.

'Who are you?' he whispered, face etched in shock.

'Achilles.' the answer was simple as he gave the king a sideways look.

'I will...I will remember. Tell your King he has my allegiance.' Achilles laughed dryly.

'He's not my king, tell him yourself.' he said, walking away.  

The End

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