Ancient Rivalry

First Glance

-12 years later-

Dawn broke out over the empire of Macedonia. The rays of sunshine peeked out from the horizon, streaming its soft light through every nook and cranny it could. It found the army tents in a small field that had clearly been set up in a hurry the previous night, with pegs in the ground almost toppling over from the hastily made bases. The damp grass around it explained the reason why the tents had been hastily erected, along with the raindrops still falling from the trees beside it. Silence consumed the area, devoid of even the sound of birds singing their morning song. Then there was a rustling, and a tall, muscular man came out from one of the tents, fully dressed and sword in hand. His face was expressionless as he made his way away from the tents, heading towards a small space just outside the camp.

He was heading to practice, although he really didn’t need to. Everyone knew that he was experienced in his swordplay, and could hit someone with a single arrow from miles away. He was an experienced fighter, and had been training ever since he was a child. Everyone knew it was only a matter of time before Alexander, the new king, picked him to be one of the generals. For now though, he was under the general Ptolemy’s word.

Reaching the small space, he unsheathed his sword, looking out to the horizon for a minute’s contemplation. And then as fast as a shark in water, he jumped forwards, bringing his sword down on his imaginary enemy, and then moving fast to the side to avoid any imaginary attack. He continued like this for a few minutes, until he realised someone was watching. Stopping, he looked back at the tents, and noticed Ptolemy standing there, watching with a small smile on his face.

“I still don’t understand why you insist on getting up before the rest of the men to practice, Alketas!” he called, knowing as well as any other soldier how good a fighter Alketas was. Alketas nodded in reply, which wasn’t unusual. The man barely seemed to speak, which had caused a general suspicion when he’d first come to the army. That suspicion soon disappeared as soon as they saw him fight, though. No Persian man could have moved the way Alketas did.

As Alketas made his way over to Ptolemy, knowing that food would be served soon, he thought about his squad. They weren’t exactly what you’d call, well, normal. One of the men appeared to be afraid all the time. This would have been normal if it wasn’t for WHAT he was afraid of. The man kept insisting that a duck was always watching him, even if there were no ducks in sight, there apparently was a way for them to watch him still. And then there was Kiro. He didn’t have insane fear, but he was tall and muscled, and seemingly insanely tough. Everyone would have been afraid of him would it not have been for the fact that he carried a little pouch round his neck which contained his pet mouse, and thought it absolutely adorable. He was like a woman in a man’s body sometimes, but he was a good fighter so was in the army – though no fighters were ever as good as Alketas.

As Alketas came onto the tents, the rest of the soldiers started to emerge, rubbing their eyes drowsily or yawning as they came out. Some had clearly forgotten an item of clothing, and they quickly realised this, running back into their tents and emerging again in their full clothes. Every man was carrying a sword, and that was the main thing. Alketas grinned, falling into line with the soldiers as they lined up in front of Ptolemy.

“You all know what today is, men?” Ptolemy began, and the soldiers screamed the “yes!” back as loud as they can. Those that didn’t know – though they’d have to know, you’d be an idiot not to – was informed as Ptolemy continued his speech. “Today is battle day, when we ambush the Persians in their towns. We need to wipe out the soldiers, stop them from battling against us in a real battle. Nevertheless, I want no slacking, alright? We’re Macedonian soldiers, we’re Alexander’s men! We’re as battle hardened as any tough country, and I want you to remember that you are representing your leader and your family. I want no cowardice, although if I see any of that, you’ll be out. I don’t care what problems you have, I expect you to battle well and hard. And most of all, I expect us to win.”

The cheers from the soldiers rang out, already woken up properly now. Today WAS the day of battle, and although it wasn’t a full out facing of the army, it was only a matter of time before the Persian leader, Darius, organised his troops and got them together. For now, it would be taking out all members of the Persian army that were still in town, to narrow any slim chance Darius had. And the Macedonians were ready. They’d been waiting for this. One soldier in particular was ready. Alketas had battled against the Persians before, of course, but he was always ready, with his own personal reasons of hatred towards the Persians. No one except Alketas knew why, but they didn’t question it. It was a general acceptance to hate the Persians anyway, though it was rather unusual to have a personal reason.

Gathering their kits, the soldiers emerged from the tents, starting to get ready. The town wasn’t that far off to walk, but they still had to be ready. It would be a long battle, and there could be other men around to try and help. It wasn’t a risk the Macedonians were prepared to take. Eventually they were ready, and assembled into order again. Ptolemy grinned, and jumped on his horse. He was the only man to be riding a horse, being a general, but this meant that he took the lead, the soldiers followed. They did so, with Ptolemy leading the way, not being worried whatsoever by the prospect of battle. This is what they’d come to do. They’d come to finally fight with the opposition, and win.

Approaching the town, they quietly crept towards it, hiding from any soldiers that were patrolling the area. Ptolemy gave the signal when he felt it was right, and the soldiers charged forward, uttering a battle cry. Alketas was one of the first in the town, leaping over the makeshift gate they’d made and immediately stabbing the nearest patrolling soldier. The first victim of the battle had been taken, and Alketas looked around eagerly, desperate to continue with the battle. He was met by a full stream of backup from the Persians coming in, and as expected, extra townsmen. Unskilled townsmen were easy, and Alketas could’ve easily taken them out at once. He liked the harder parts of battle though, the more experienced soldiers, and he turned to the swarm that was coming.

Sheathing his sword, he pulled out his bow and arrow, quickly aligning an arrow and taking a shot. Bullseye, that was one dead. He grinned, taking out another arrow and repeating the process until he was out of arrows. Never mind. The fun was mostly in sword fighting anyway. Placing his bow around him, he re-sheathed his sword, running into what was now a mass of fighting soldiers, also littered with the bodies of the dead or dying, most of whom were Persians. Of course, there were a few Macedonians, but much much more Persians were amongst the dead. Alketas helped this quota, swinging his sword about expertly and feeling the sword cut through flesh, his ears ringing with the screams and yells of his victims and the others around him. Battles were always when he was at his best. He continued moving through the bloodshed, leaving the inexperienced townsmen (well, what was left of them, anyway) to the more inexperienced soldiers, and taking what he could. Eventually, the mass groans ceased, and soon the Persian men were slaughtered, littering the entire area.

Alketas stood, panting, looking around him. Sheathing his sword, he noted there was still only a few Macedonian corpses. Those would be given a proper burial. As for the rest of the bodies, the Persians. Well, they would be left to rot, or possibly given their own burial by the women of the town. Speaking of the women of the town....he turned to look at the houses, knowing what happened next. The women would be given their own “reward”. Glancing at the soldiers who were already making their way towards the houses, he sighed. He hated the Persian women as much as the men, but he wasn’t really excited at the prospect of raping a woman. He always skipped this part of battle, knowing the men would kill the women afterwards anyway. It didn’t matter what happened to them. They were Persians, they weren’t really civilised humans.

Turning back, he walked over to Ptolemy’s horse, who neighed in greeting. They had built up a bond in the times the horses’ owner had been busy, and as a result, the horse wouldn’t kick up as much of a fuss as it would’ve done had any other soldier (apart from Ptolemy, of course) tried to get close to the creature.

Alketas leaned against the horse, sighing. He wished he could go back to camp, but he knew full well that if he did, it’d be equal to abandoning his squad. There needed to be someone to keep an eye out, anyway, just in case someone came in an attempt to be heroic and “rescue” the women. It had happened before, and the man involved had been killed before he’d even got to the scene, killed by an arrow of Alketas’. He hadn’t even tried, either.

Climbing onto the horses’ back, Alketas thought about the next day. He knew there would be another battle as there was another town not far off. No man had made it out of this town alive to send a message, so the next town wouldn’t know the army would be coming. It was a bigger town, though, which meant a bigger challenge. And Alketas loved big challenges.

Sighing, he laid down on the horse, knowing there would be a long wait.
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I know it's short and horrible, but this is just to sort of get you into the feeling of where Alketas is now :) I promise you more happens next!
Comments would still be nice tho XD