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The Waters of the River Achaia

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  • The Waters of the River Achaia

    This is my first story, so feedback is appreciated. Enjoy.


    Chapter 1
    The Desecration


    Patrokus the warrior stuck his spear in the soil and leaned against the temple of Apollo the Sun God to better focus on his conversation.

    “Do you disagree with Archeseus, prince of Athens?” he prodded, squinting at his friend in the darkness.

    “I merely agree with his father, King Mestheus,” replied his compatriot Diomes. “One needs a reason to make war on another nation.”

    “What of the thousands of ethnic Greeks who live under Chinese rule?” asked Patrokus.

    “Those people settled the Shanghai countryside of their own accord,” said Diomes. “we cannot push China’s borders to the Yangtze simply because a few Spartans were unhappy with the farmland of the coastal plains. Besides, any Greek who chooses to settle in Shanghai as opposed to the frontier valleys to the north doesn’t deserve my help.”

    “And the fact that the people of Shanghai, who have no place in their lives for the immortals, can look upon sacred Mount Olympus from their city’s walls, this is not reason enough?” Patrokus pounded his shield to emphasize his point. Diomes held his leather shield still.

    “The people of Shanghai have done us no wrong,” Diomes replied. “They have not crossed the River Achaia that separates the Greeks and Chinese. Without a catalyst, there is no honor in war. Only blood.”

    “Are you saying,” said Patrokus with a smile, “that if Prince Archeseus and his brothers led an army against Shanghai, you would remain here with the womenfolk?” Diomes didn’t smile back.

    “I would go,” he muttered, “but only in the hopes that I might save some glory-seeking Corinthian from the edge of a Chinese spear.”

    The clicking of a pair of sandals caused Patrokus to grab for his spear. A young woman emerged from the shadows, as startled to see them as they were her.

    “High Preistess Thaeia,” said Diomes with a slight bow, “your approach was stealthy.”

    “Soldiers,” said the priestess, “why are you not perched on the walls, protecting Corinth from her enemies?”

    “There are enemies within, as well,” replied Diomes. “Chinese separatists blend well with the city’s population.”

    “I thought they were only a problem in Pharsalos,” said Thaeia. “I have not heard of them here.”

    “We are the reason why,” boasted Patrokus. “They dare not enter when Patrokus, slayer of kings, and Diomes, pounder of his own meat, are present.”

    “Such words from a man so young,” chided the priestess. “I must go. Apollo will not wait.” Thaeia walked into the temple, shaking her head. She sat at the foot of the giant marble statue of Apollo and waited. The candles on the walls jiggled the shadows in the chamber. The flames flickered in with a slight wind as a figure darkened the sky between the pillars.

    “Who dares enter the temple of He Who Strikes From Afar, Apollo, son of Zeus?” she challenged.

    “It is I,” the figure replied, and stepped forward.


    Patrokus stopped in his tracks and looked to the dark sky. The temple of Apollo rose against the starry backdrop to the north, and the palace of King Andromedus blotted out half the sky to the south, but he could see nothing else.

    “What’s wrong?” asked Diomes.

    “Something flew by here.”

    “The crows are asleep,” scoffed Diomes. Patrokus ignored him.

    “No,” he said. “Much bigger than a bird. The size of a man.”

    Diomes stared at the black sky with his comrade. Ancient Achilleus the Warrior stared back down from his perch in the eastern stars.

    “We should check the temple again,” said Patrokus. Before Diomes could disagree, he turned and walked toward the grand marble pillars of the temple’s entrance. Diomes sighed, hefted his spear, and struck out after his friend.

    Patrokus arrived at the pillars and slowed his strides, stepping lightly on the balls of his feet. A giggle floated to his ears. When Diomes arrived at his side, the two of them stepped into the candlelit room.

    Thaeia’s ceremonial silk robes lay on the floor, and she lay on top of them, cloaked in nothing. A massive winged man lay next to her, holding a goblet to her lips.

    “Hey!” bellowed Diomes. The goblet fell from the startled creature’s hand and clattered to the floor. A dark liquid splashed on the marble next to Thaeia. “Who dares anger the immortals by cavorting with a high priestess?” The creature leapt to his feet, his wings folding at his side.

    “I am Hermes, immortal messenger of the gods,” the creature spat back. “This is not a scene you will live to tell of.” Hermes bounded forward, his massive hands reaching for Diomes’ throat. Mere inches away, the Messenger’s fingers closed on nothing but air as he flew backwards into the statue of Apollo. Diomes and Patrokus lowered their shields to see Apollo himself glaring down at the trembling Hermes.

    “What transpires in my temple?” Apollo’s angry voice filled the chamber. “My very own high priestess, lying in love with another immortal! And Hermes, immortal Messenger of the gods, seducing another deity’s servant! I shall bring you by force before Zeus and the others, and--”

    Apollo’s eyes settled on the fallen goblet and the dark pool around it. His shoulders fell.

    “Fool, Hermes,” he muttered. “You have allowed a mortal to partake in the consumption of the immortal elixir Ambrosia. This is beyond my anger and retribution now. Father Zeus will have your wings, and your life.”

    Apollo grabbed Hermes, who had looked so strong next to the two Corinthian warriors, but now looked so weak, by the wings, and dragged him towards the entrance. He stopped by the two trembling mortals.

    “Loyal spear-wielding soldiers,” said Apollo, “take this cowering woman to her father, King Andromedus of Corinth, and have him do as he pleases. I have no more use for her.” Apollo stepped outside the pillars and leapt skyward, disappearing to the East with his prisoner.


    Zeus leaned forward on his golden throne, glowering at the sulking messenger before him. His wife, Hera, sat next to him, her expression a mask of contempt. Apollo stood behind the offender, his sword drawn. Athena stepped forward, her armor clinking lightly on the marble floor.

    “Father Zeus,” she began, but paused under her patriarch’s glare. Drawing courage, she continued. “Spare this fallen angel the jaws of the Hound of Hades, for he once protected myself, your daughter, from your wrath. True, the feeding of Ambrosia to a mortal is an offense beyond any before, but let us not decide his fate in haste.”

    “Cast him down to the river of the dead,” growled Apollo, “for not only did he spread the immortal elixir below Mount Olympus, he has lain with the priestess of another immortal.”

    Zeus waved away their pleading and pointed at the sulking Messenger.

    “The River Styx awaits you,” he said, and a bolt of lightning tore Hermes’ wings from his shoulders. They fluttered to the floor, useless as twigs, and the stricken Messenger cried out in pain.

    “Strike me down then, Zeus, son of Kronos,” Hermes groaned.

    Zeus’s lightning tore the Messenger’s chest apart, and his beating heart disintegrated. The once immortal corpse crumbled to the ground next to his wings.

    “So it is, then, Father,” Athena said, and departed.


    Hermes stumbled on the desolate bank of the River Styx. The boatman held his wooden vessel to the shore against the swift current. Hermes stopped. He didn’t have coins for the ferry crossing. He sat on the bank, his head in his hands, and wept.

    An armored hand pulled him up to his feet. It was Athena, her face neutral.

    “As you once spared me from my father’s wrath when I thwarted his attempt to raze Athens, my city, I will help you now,” said Athena. “Your immortal life is over, but today you will begin your mortal one. Do you love her?”


    “Do you love Thaeia?” asked Athena. Hermes looked at her.

    “I am here now for her,” he said, “without regret.” Athena sighed.

    “Then go find her,” she said. “Live life with your mortal love.”

    Athena held on to his arm, and carried him away from the underground to the city of Sparta. The sun peeked over the eastern horizon, and Hermes could see its reflection off the sea in the distance. Athena dropped him on a hilltop outside the city, and handed him a set of bronze armor.

    “You can use the war to travel and find Thaeia,” said Athena.

    “What war?” replied Hermes. “There is no war.”

    “There will be.”


    To the north, Prince Archeseus watched the same sun rise over the farmland east of Athens. His good friend Alphos sat next to him on the balcony of King Mestheus’ palace.

    “Ah, poor, easily-led Thaeia,” said Archeseus. “Sweet, foolish cousin of mine. Even when we spent our childhood summers together in Corinth, that girl always attracted mischief. I honed my warrior skills those summers fighting off the other young boys she offended.”

    “I knew a girl like that,” said Alphos, “right here in Athens. She gave me my first kiss.”

    “What became of her?”

    “She is the most expensive prostitute in Sparta,” replied Alphos. “Only the best whores make it in Sparta, at the foot of Mount Olympus. The mischievous nymph Rumor whispered in my ears, and spoke with honest heart that she had a child by the god Zeus.”

    “Such is not the fate of my poor cousin Thaeia,” said Archeseus. “I wonder what her father will do with her.”

    “It has already been done, my friend,” said Alphos. “My wife returned yesterday from a visit to family in Corinth. She said King Andromedus gave Thaeia over to the visiting Prince Yao Jiang, of Shanghai.”

    “He didn’t.”

    “He did.”

    “She is a priestess,” said Archeseus, “fallen though she may be. My childhood friend will not be taken to a foreign land as a slave.”

    “She has.”

    Archeseus watched half the sun float above the farmland.

    “I will return her, then,” he said.

    “How?” asked Alphos. “And why?”

    “I will go to the palace of Prince Yao Jiang, in Shanghai,” replied Archeseus, “ and I will demand her back on threat of death.”

    “Will you cause bloodshed between Greece and China?” challenged Alphos, “for a fallen disgrace? The waters--”

    “She is not a disgrace!” barked Archeseus. Alphos waited for his friend to calm down.

    “The waters of the River Achaia will darken with the blood of warriors,” Alphos said quietly. “And both the Syphosos and the Yangtze will overflow with the tears of wives and mothers. ”

    “They will.”

    “Then I will accompany you,” said Alphos.


    King Andromedus lifted his arms to the sky, the ceremonial robe falling over his shoulders.

    “O Apollo,” he called, “He Who Strikes From Afar, son of Zeus, we offer you this new priestess, in hopes that the one whose name shall not be spoken did not incur your blazing arrows.”

    The marble statue of Apollo did not respond. The young virgin priestess-to-be stood between a table of food and the statue, looking up at it. Forty soldiers stood rigid around them.

    Near the entrance, the warrior Patrokus tried to ignore the bead of sweat hanging on the tip of his nose. The king rattled on about sacrifices and apologies, but Patrokus couldn’t pay attention. Finally, he shook his head to send the sweat flying. The rattling of his helmet caused Captain Mannus to look in his direction. Patrokus stared straight forward.

    “So we will feast in honor of you, Apollo,” continued Andromedus. “For yours is the. . .”

    “They say Prince Archeseus of Athens crossed the River Achaia on his way to Shanghai six days ago,” Patrokus whispered to Diomes.

    “I know,” Diomes whispered back. “Shut up.”

    “Nobody’s heard from him.”

    “I know,” Diomes whispered. “Shut up.”

    “I think he is dead at the hands of Prince Yao Jiang,” whispered Patrokus.

    “Shut up.”


    Patrokus stared over the slow-moving water of the River Achaia. Two Chinese spearmen stared back from the other bank. Patrokus sighed and sat next to Diomes.

    “River guard used to be the most coveted duty in the armies of Corinth,” he muttered. “Now we are punished with it for talking at the ceremony. What changed?”

    “King Andromedus,” replied Diomes. “He built the bathhouse. Women don’t bathe in the river anymore.” The two archers sitting by the road nodded.

    “Those were the days,” said one. Diomes looked at them.

    “What are you two being punished for?” he asked. The archers looked at each other.

    “I grabbed Princess Anneri’s breast,” said the one who had spoken earlier.

    “I urinated on King Andromedus’s palace,” said the other. “We were really drunk that night.”

    Patrokus laughed.

    “You sound like my kind of people,” he said. A commotion on the other bank interrupted them. The two Chinese guards jumped to their feet as an armored man burst from the trees and headed for the water.

    “I’m Athenian!” he called, and jumped into the river. His armor dragged him down, and as he went under, three Chinese archers and two spearmen emerged from the trees behind him. The self-proclaimed Athenian bobbed to the surface without his helmet or chest plate and swam for the Corinthian shore. Three Chinese arrows reached out and splashed into the water around him.

    Without a word, the two archers from Corinth readied their arrows in defense of their fellow Greek. More Chinese arrows reached for the swimmer, now halfway across the river, as the Corinthian arrows lodged in the bank between the Chinese.

    The Chinese responded with a one arrow at the swimmer, and two at the Greek archers.

    “Defense!” shouted Patrokus, and he and Diomes knelt in front of the archers with their shields up. The Greeks unleashed another volley, and an arrow lodged in a Chinese spearman’s belly. The warrior fell back, and the other spearmen dragged him toward the trees.

    Two Chinese arrows found their targets in the next volley. One lodged in the swimmer’s thigh, and the other glanced off of Diomes’ shield and ricocheted into the palace-urinator’s throat. The archer fell with an ugly gurgle, and the swimmer disappeared under the water. He re-emerged several seconds later downstream and pulled himself to the bank. An arrow splashed in the water behind him.

    While Patrokus ran to his aid, Diomes and the breast-grabber dragged the wounded archer away from the battle. Patrokus grabbed the swimmer’s arm and led him away from the river, holding his shield behind him. An arrow thudded into it, the bronze tip piercing the leather and slicing Patrokus’ forearm to the bone. Patrokus cried out, then gritted his teeth. Two more arrows hit the soil next to him.

    Then they were out of range. No more arrows pierced the afternoon sky. The two limped up as Diomes tore the arrow from the archer’s throat. The palace-desecrator let out a half cough, half gurgle, spraying blood and mucus, and convulsed. Then he lay still. The thick river of blood slowed to a trickle.

    Diomes dropped the arrow in silence.

    “Well, at least we got one of them,” muttered the surviving archer. Patrokus wrapped a cloth around his wounded arm, and his blood soaked through in seconds.

    “I guess we should all prepare for war,” said the swimmer, examining the arrow still in his thigh.

    “Nah,” replied Patrokus. “Spats like these have been happening since Greece and China’s borders met.”

    “Yes,” agreed the swimmer, “but none of them have ever involved two dead princes and seven dead Chinese warriors, have they?”

    The Corinthians stared at him.

    “My name is Alphos,” the swimmer said, “friend of the late Prince Archeseus.”

  • #2
    Thank you for this

    Ceratinly hope you enjoyed writing that, I enjoyed reading it.
    Gurka 17, People of the Valley
    I am of the Horde.


    • #3
      very good.... your quite a good writer.. keep it up
      I reject your reality and substitute my own!

      Visit the stories forum My stories.... The Rise of Germany and Fall of the Dutch and Germany Falling


      • #4
        I'm a little unsure as to whether or not I should continue with this story. If I do, it could easily turn into a giant epic beyond what I'm able to put into it. But it seems a little incomplete as it is.

        Anyone have an opinion?


        • #5
          as I said above, I enjoyed reading your piece, so to I would enjoy if you took it on further.
          Gurka 17, People of the Valley
          I am of the Horde.


          • #6
            It's amusing

            I'd suggest that you keep with the sly humor and shy away from epic-making, though.
            -->Visit CGN!
            -->"Production! More Production! Production creates Wealth! Production creates more Jobs!"-Wendell Willkie -1944