The Spartan - Part 3
A cry came from the lead soldier of the group.
I looked around to see what was happening, catching sight of several men in felt caps and glittering mail armor. More appeared from over the rise until there were about two dozen of them, double the count of Spartans I was with.
The Spartans formed up and charged ahead in unison, while two of these Immortals, whoever the hell they were, drew bows that were shaped a bit like Poirot's mustache in Murder on the Orient Express. I was fairly certain there was a name for those things, but I couldn't think of it just then. I was more than passingly worried about being skewered at that moment!
One of the Immortal guys loosed his arrow, and it sailed between Aaron and me.
"Shit!" said Aaron.
"My sentiments exactly," I replied. "These Immortal guys are apparently thinking that we're with these Spartans!"
I ducked down in the sand, trying to present a smaller target to the enemy's two bowmen.
"I'm not exactly liking that name of theirs. Immortal? Do you know who these guys are?" I asked Aaron.
"I think they're Persians, if my 300 movie knowledge serves me..."
"300? Is that the one with Gerard Butler and the six pack squad?"
"Well, shit! I get to go to the real life version of that deal, get shot at and am probably about to die, and all I get is a bunch of dudes in armor? Hello? What's with the shirts and stuff? Where's my male eye candy?"
Another arrow landed in the sand an inch in front of me.
"Kate, I think we've got bigger fish to fry right now..."
"Okay, okay..." I said, still annoyed that I was being cheated out of my muscle show. I guess their arms were pretty nice...
"Kate! We should help the Spartans. The Persians think we're with them, and they're outnumbered. Helping them might be our only chance! This is life and death here! Quit thinking about Gerard fucking Butler!"
Aaron charged ahead, running in a crouch as another arrow soared over his head.
"I only wish I could fuck Gerard Butler. Instead, I'm just fucked!" I muttered under my breath, then I followed behind Aaron, not sure what I was supposed to do bare-handed against a bunch of armed and armored soldiers...
As I ran, I saw another burst of blue light around Aaron. I looked down. I was glowing a brilliant shade of blue as well. My quads were growing, as were my arms. They were becoming both leaner and more muscular. I could actually see the striations of my leg muscles popping into sharp relief as I ran--through my yoga pants!
I felt good too... No, not just good. Make that great! I felt as if I had just guzzled ten red energy drinks, strength washing pumping through me by the second.
Returning my eyes forward, I could see Aaron bulking up by the second as well. Gone was the last of his pudginess. His bulging arms pumped, more defined with every swing forward as he sprinted, his back becoming carved in hard, delicious sinew. I couldn't wait to see him from the front!
We were almost to the Immortals now. One of them drew his bow and loosed an arrow at my head. Despite the fact that I was within ten meters, I was somehow fast enough to grab the arrow out of mid-air a millimeter before it pierced my eye. Normally, I probably would have stopped to consider how amazing that was, but I was in the middle of a freaking battle here, so... I didn't.
I ran up to the Immortal arrow-firing bastard that had just tried to kill me as he dropped his bow and began to draw his sword. Before he could finish pulling it free of the scabbard, I slammed my hand down on the edge of his palm with so much force that it shot the hilt of the sword--and his hand along with it--right back into its sheath. With the momentum from my sprint toward him, I placed my other hand right in his face and shoved with all my might.
Apparently all my might was considerably more than it used to be because the man flew both backward and downward as if shot from a cannon as my inertia carried past him. I slowed to a stop in a couple of steps, then whirled to face him. He was on the ground writhing weakly, the back of his head bleeding a crimson pool onto the ground.
Seriously? What a wuss! Some "Immortal" he was--taken out by a single shove from a girl who had no idea what she was doing! Despite the fact that I should probably be moving on to either attack or defend against the next guy, I took a second to smile at my unexpected victory. My objective for this little battle rose from "don't die" to "don't die and take out an Immortal or two to help out my Spartan frenemies."
I reached down and grabbed the hilt of the downed man's sword, giving it a tug. The man tried to stop me, but his struggles were weak and pathetic, and I broke his grip with ease.
Now armed, I surveyed my surroundings in an effort to decide what to do next. I saw two men attacking Aaron, who was backing away from them. They took turns swinging their swords at my unarmed friend. He leapt backward to avoid each stroke.
My eyes narrowed, and I sprinted toward the men from behind. Aaron's eyes went wide as I came up behind them. Both men saw Aaron's startled expression and apparently determined that it meant something because they both turned to see what had caused his reaction.
I let out a cry of desperation and determination, my voice really belting it out with feeling! My choir teacher from high school would have been proud. Or, actually, now that I reconsidered my screech... maybe not.
Luckily, the warning Aaron had inadvertently given them was too late to matter, at least for the first guy. I swung my sword and sliced a deep gash across his neck, dropping him like a sandbag on the sandbag carry in the Spartan race that I was supposed to be doing right about now.
The other man squared his shoulders to me, preparing to engage me with his sword. I gulped. I was having some success with surprise attacks on these guys, but I had no idea how to really use a sword to fight another armed swordsman. This probably wasn't going to go well for me.
Fortunately, Aaron saw my frightened look and used my distraction to advance on the Immortal guy from behind. He grabbed the man's sword arm and yelled to me.
I didn't hesitate. I stabbed my blade forward. It glanced off his chainmail. Shit! I forgot about the whole fucking armor thing! Stupid!
As the man struggled with Aaron for control over the sword, I regained my faltering balance and tried again. This time, I raised the sword above my head and swung downward with everything I had. The blade cleaved right through his felt hat and into the top of his skull. It came to a halt about halfway down his face. He dropped to his knees then flopped over, my sword still buried in his head.
My eyes wide, watching the second man I'd killed fall. I felt dizzy. I smelled the metallic scent of blood swirling into the pungent aroma of body odor from sweaty, unbathed men. I looked at Aaron blankly, then my head bobbed forward, and I retched. The sight of my sword in his head, the smells of the battle, and the screaming knowledge that I had just ended a man's life proved too much for my stomach to bear.
Aaron rubbed my back as I hunched over, heaving. He looked around tensely, as I stared at the ground. I felt his large muscles relax. He spoke in a calming voice.
"There are only four of them left, Kate, and they're running away. Looks like the Spartan guys took care of the rest of them."
Eventually, my dry heaves ceased, and I came back up, breathing heavily. I shook with the strange, juxtaposed sensations of excess nerve-tingling adrenaline and absolute relief. I couldn't believe I had killed someone. Two someones. Maybe three! My mind was telling me that after very nearly killing me with an arrow through the eye socket, I hadn't had much choice. My heart, however, was in shattered pieces, and tears welled in my eyes.
As my tears began to fall, my knees began to wobble. I plopped down to the ground on my heavily-muscled glutes. Aaron crouched in front of me.
"Damn, Kate. Remind me not to get on your bad side!"
I smiled in spite of my tears, which continued to flow.
Aaron doubled down on levity. Knowing him, it was the only way he could imagine to get me to stop crying. It worked.
"These immortal guys didn't really live up to the hype of their name, eh?"
I choked out a laugh, then another... then, I couldn't stop. Tears of laughter replaced tears of horror, and I laughed hysterically. He began to laugh as well, putting his huge arm around me.
The seven remaining Spartans, in the middle of piling up their dead, paused. They looked at us, their grim expressions turning to baffled amusement as they observed their odd, guffawing prisoners.
I ignored their bemused looks and roamed my eyes down Aaron's newly chiseled body before snapping them back up to meet his.
"So what's with the new Conan look, Aar?" I asked. "You look like you could take on the whole lot of poorly-named Immortals right now."
"Look who's talking," he said. I looked down at my lean, muscular arms. I really needed to get a mirror and some privacy to see the full extent of my own transformation.
As I opened my mouth to respond, two figures shimmered into existence behind Aaron. The Spartans' eyes grew wide and they dropped to their knees, heads bowed. It was an incredibly gorgeous woman and a man whose muscled perfection and strong jaw made him look like some kind of Greek god. Both were clad in white robes.
"I am Aries," he said, as Aaron's head swiveled to see what I was staring at.
"And I am Aphrodite," she said. "And we are here to meet our newest champions..."
I should have been stunned, shocked, amazed. In a way, I was. But so much had already happened to me today, I wasn't quite reacting exactly as I should. All I could think was how I had nailed it with the Greek god description.
Touché, I thought to myself. Tou-fucking-ché.
Much to the gods' surprise, I began to laugh.
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