My 6th grade Geography teacher inspired this story when he spent a week on Ancient Greece and...
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The ride is a hard ten day one to the north, and that means only stopping once or twice to rest and water the horses. We have to cross Persian territory, and we would expect a fight. Bucephalus, Alexanders’ horse, pranced ahead of me on the back of Styra, the mare I had acquired from the Macedonian man. She moved into the companion cavalry, and stayed slightly behind Alexander on the black horse. The red sheet that I had been given slipped a bit when I rode and I would just as soon ridden without it. The mare veered left, nearly bumping into the horse next to us. She pinned her ears back, and bared her teeth. I pulled the reigns to the right, and stopped her biting the poor old charger beside us. I looked at the other horses for a time, noting that each had a flowing gait and high set tails. All had the same dished profile that Styra had, but were much sleeker, and a bit taller. I stroked the mares’ neck; the hot sun heated the bronze of my armor.
As the night descended upon us, I asked of Alexander;
“Where are we going?” he rode proudly just a foot or so in front of me.
“My home.” Alexander said nonchalantly, “But if we get into a quarrel with Darius of Persia, we will go east and move into Asia Minor. I fear battle though; we have a huge army, and will be easily spotted. The Persian Immortals-,”
“Do not speak of them as if they are honorable. They are not. Darius enslaves his own men and trains them to be warriors. That is all they are, slaves. It is only their numbers that make them great!”
“They defeated the Spartans at Thermopylae!” Alexander protested, “You can not say anything!”
“It was half a million against three hundred, do you consider that a true fair fight?” I asked.
“The strategy was weak; I could have managed better then that… Leonidas was it?”
“Okay then, well STRATEGY means nothing when numbers are so immense and your fighting style is much different then mine.” I snarled, losing patience with him.
“You will have to learn my fighting style girl; I am your king now.”
“You will never be my king.” I spat, falling back behind the companion cavalry.
I rode at the back of the men, not even looking up to see what was going on in front of me.
“HOLD UP!” Alexander yelled, startling me enough to jolt my head up. Alexander was stopped, and I could see the plain of sand ahead. No rocks, dry rivers. The ground had sparse vegetation and freshly upturned ground. I immediately zeroed in on the hills above, the Immortals, de immortales, a trick.
“ALEXANDER!” I yelled, drawing up beside him, he was thinking very hard, and I could see that he was in fear of losing his army.
“Chariots.” He breathed. I saw what he meant.
“Scythed Chariots.” I whispered.
“Yes and now we die.”
“No, we will not!” I exclaimed, turning to the men and taking charge. “WHEN THE CHARIOTS COME,” I yelled over the slight breeze and the neighs of horses, “MAKE WAY AND OPEN UP GAPS IN THE LINE. THESE HAVE A HUGE REACH SO STAY VERY CLEAR!”
Alexander nodded, telling the men to listen to me. I yelled a battle cry, and charged in, Alexander close behind. I saw the chariots, running close together as to tear off my mounts legs and with luck, decapitate me when I am thrown. I ordered jump by leaning forward and kicking the mares’ sides. She leapt up high, clearing the obstacle, and not even breaking stride. Alexander got Bucephalus in the air too, and charged with me. The men stayed back a bit.
“I will kill Darius.” I snarled, “The Persian will pay for his peoples’ crimes against mine.”
Alexander did not protest as I pulled ahead of him. I moved the mare up, her neck stretched out as she dug in to the soft earth. Darius was there. I could tell he was the king, only because when he saw me, he looked surprised. His deep purple robes were made out of silk and satin, he had gold, bronze and silver beads around his neck, in his hair and on his clothes. He was mounted on a fine white horse, and he had a gold sword in his hand.
“Alexander sends a girl to fight me, what a joke… I believe he grows desperate!” he laughed.
“ALEXANDER only recruits the best.”
“Ha! The best of whom little girl, the weaving house?”
“Sparta!” I yelled, “None other and I am proud of it!”
He was silent for a moment, before he raised his blade. I met it with mine, and locked hilts with him. I twisted my blade down, and cut open his arm in the process of disarming him. He cursed at losing his sword, and scrambled for another weapon. He found a dagger, which he threw at me. The sharp little knife impaled itself neatly in my shoulder. I cursed aloud before pulling it out. My training made me nearly inure to pain.
“Help me!” Alexander yelled off to my left. He was fighting with one hand, the other holding his side of which had an arrow sticking out of. Bucephalus was unseen.
“It is your lucky day Darius.” I snarled, before riding towards Alexander. I leapt off my horse, dropping the reigns for a moment to pull Alexanders’ butt from the flames. I stabbed out with my sword, and killed one Persian. Alexander held his side, and mounted my horse. He rode away, my permission un-granted as he neared camp. I grew furious. I had no horse on which to fight from, and only my spear and shield to aid me. A few Persians surrounded me, and I pulled my spear from my back, sheathing me sword.
“Okay,” I said, “I’ll get you later.”
I turned to face the Persians, and I immediately stabbed a few in the heart. Another challenged, and I whacked him with my spear shaft, and sent him sprawling before meeting his neck with my spear tip. Another stepped up brandishing a sword, and I swept my spear to the right, knocking the sword out of his hands, and in the same movement managed to slit his throat.
“RETREAT!” Darius yelled, fear coating his voice. The Persian soldiers around me fled, and I was left with a bloodied spear and no horse… until I turned. Darius was trying to snatch the reigns of a very angry Bucephalus. He reared up, nearly knocking Darius down.
I ran forward, vaulted over the black horses’ back, and kicked Darius squarely in the chest. He fell down and then got up and jumped into a chariot with one of the retreating men. I then calmed the horse by smoothing his sweaty neck, and talking to him. I mounted the horse, who was not expecting me, but he did not throw me. He could feel my riding experience, as I felt that he could throw me if he needed to. I kicked his sides lightly, and he broke into an even canter. I rode back into camp, accompanied by the sounds of running horses and the clanking of armor.
Styra was tied just outside of Alexanders’ regal black and red tent. She was still covered in dry blood and sweat. I went into the tent, where the camp surgeon was removing the arrow from Alexanders’ side. Blood dripped from his wound and coated a rag already soaked in the bright red liquid. The arrow came out with minimal trouble, but Alexander went very pale. He clutched his satin sheet to his chest, gritting his teeth when the surgeon wiped the wound with a wet cloth and bandaged it.
“I-I have won a victory.” He stuttered, still pinched with pain.
“You have won nothing but cowardice! It was I and your men that brought along this victory, and though you may be credited with the victory, it is the soldiers who will win the glory.” I spat, angry with him because he was claiming this victory after stealing my horse and riding back here because of an injury.
“I do not wish to hear what venom you spit little viper,” he snarled, out of breath, “I left for good reason, so you can not blame me.”
“At least I know I have passage to Elysium after this!” I snarled, leaving the tent, “Now if you will excuse me my lord,” my voice catching with impatience and welled up anger on those two last words, “I must go tend to the mare you have left sweaty and covered in blood.”
I took the mare to my tent, and cleaned her. The rag passed over her many times until she shone with cleanliness. She eyed me carefully, happy to see me.
“I am sorry,” I said, petting her neck, “Alexander is a fool.”
“I am sorry you feel that way Hippolyta,” Permenion sighed, stroking the bay mares’ muzzle, and getting a slight nip. “Really, he is a very good man; you just have not known him for very long.”
“Permenion, you are the only man here that I really do respect, and I must ask you not to tell something to Alexander.”
“What is it?” he asked.
“I am going to go to Thessaly while Alexander recuperates to speak with Ares the god of War.”
“And why would you do that?” he asked.
“To learn some things. The gods have all the answers I will ever need.” I said, mounting my horse.
“Not a word will escape me Hippolyta, I swear.”
“Thank you my Lord,” I said, not disliking Permenion. I rode away at a slow canter, Alexander oblivious in his posh little tent.