I've never really written anything that wasn't for school before, so I don't really know how this is going to turn out. I've enjoyed reading the work put out on this site for a long while, and I decided to find out if writing was for me. This is sort of just a teaser, I guess. I wanted people to get a feel for my writing style and see if they liked it before I went crazy with the story. Please let me know what you think. If people enjoy it, I'll look to expand on this story.

Sparta, 404 BCE

The sound of crickets chirping in the underbrush filled the empty night air. Spartan soldiers on guard stood rigid and vigilant. The city-state of Sparta, known for its fine warriors, had a reputation that the city guard intended to uphold. The Peloponnesian war had been raging for years now, tearing the Greek world asunder, and the Athenians could march on Sparta at any moment.

One such man, Antiochus, was positioned at the southern gate of the city. He was a young man and took his duty to Sparta very seriously. More than that, he had a duty to protect his family. His wife, Sallia, had just bore him a young boy. They had named him Perseus, hoping he would become as mighty as the warrior of legend. While he mused about his newborn son, he failed to notice that the crickets had stopped chirping. The night was quieter than it had ever been, and finally Antiochus took notice. In the distance, he heard a sharp twang, before a faint whistling filled the air. He turned to the guard opposite him, just in time to see an arrow protrude from his chest.

Realizing the magnitude of this, he raised his voice and signaled to any who could hear, "Attack! The Athenians are here! We must hold the city!"

In the distance, he heard the alarm being raised, rousing more soldiers from their sleep to help defend the city. Raising his shield, Antiochus peered off into the night. He scanned the tree line, hoping to catch a glimpse of the attackers. In the corner of his eye he saw movement. He cocked back his arm, aiming his javelin to where he anticipated the would-be attacker would be. Suddenly, the tree line burst into flames, temporarily blinding him.

"This is exactly the cowardly tactic those Athenian dogs would use." He muttered to himself. Finally, his vision returned, and he quickly readied himself to throw his javelin once again. As he turned to a new flicker of movement, a flash of bronze crossed his vision. Before he even had a chance to process it, an arrow had taken him in the throat. He didn't know it, but soon, Sparta would fall.

From a distance, one would think that Hades had waged war on Sparta himself. The entire city was engulfed in flames, and the screams that echoed through the night were none too different from what could be heard from the fields of punishment. Athenians marched through Sparta, killing any man, woman, or child that dared show themselves. Sparta simply hadn't been prepared for the sudden brutality unleashed upon their city.

The Athenians had already taken the city, but this was about more than that. They wanted to destroy Sparta and everything it stood for. House after house they put to the torch, and the screams of souls fleeing to asphodel could be heard throughout. One Athenian soldier strayed away from his unit, heading to the outskirts of the city. There, he stumbled upon the home of Antiochus, and inside, found his dear Sallia holding onto a small bundle, tears in her eyes.

"Please, do what you want with me, just do not hurt my son!" She pleaded to the soldier. She gently set down the young Perseus, before falling to her news, groveling at the feet of the Athenian soldier.

"I'll do whatever the hades I want with you, and your stupid child," The soldier spat at her. He raised his hand to strike her, before a new thought gave him pause. Lust filled his eyes, but this very lust was his own demise. His hesitation gave Sallia time to reach for the knife at his belt, and as he brought down his hand to reach for his sword, she was already swinging for his throat. Blood splattered across Sallia's face, mingling with the tears she felt stinging her eyes.

Turning quickly, she scooped up the young Perseus and bolted for the door. Bursting into the night, her eyes met the horrors that had befallen her city. She did not stop to contemplate what had happened to her dear Antiochus, instead running for the nearest city gate. Luckily for her, the Athenians had already pushed far enough into the city that the gate was unguarded. She ran into the night, not bothering to look back at what remained of the once proud city of Sparta.

She ran for what felt like days. Her legs felt as though they had been replaced by lead, and her lungs were weak. Finally, as she burst into a clearing, she fell to her knees, her legs no longer able to carry her. Her lungs struggled to take in air after the smoke from the burning city and the strain of her escape. As she panted, a pair of hooves appeared in her field of vision. Fearing the worst, she looked upwards, her offhand reaching for the dagger she had taken from the Athenian soldier. However, what she saw was perhaps even more startling than an Athenian soldier on horseback. Standing over her was a centaur, straight out of the stories she had been told as a child.

"What is your name, dear child?" The centaur asked gently. His eyes were soft and caring, imploring the woman to tell him everything he wanted to know.

At her wits end, completely awestruck and exhausted, Sallia saw no other options besides explaining everything. "My name is Sallia. Sallia of Sparta. This is my son Perseus," she told him between ragged breaths.

"A fine name that is. Mine is Chiron. You look in need of aid, and I will do my best to provide it. Come with me child." The centaur said, leaning forwards to help the woman off the ground.

"I thank you Chiron, but no," she rasped out. "I am not long for this world. I was weak already from Perseus' birth, and I have run a great distance. I fear I will not see Apollo rise again."

Although Chiron hated to think it, he could see that was true. She was clearly only still alive by sheer power of will to bring her boy to safety.

With a heavy heart, he replied, "Is there anything I can do to make your going more peaceful then, Sallia of Sparta?"

After a pause, she whispered back, with a voice so faint he had to strain to hear it, "Take care of my son. Raise him to be mighty, so that he may never suffer the way my people have suffered."

"It will be done," he promised. He extended his arms, taking the small bundle from her. A smile graced her face and she closed her eyes for the last time. Chiron heaved a deep sigh, before glancing upwards to the heaves.

"What has the world come to, that cities suffer over the squabble of gods?" he mused to himself. He flinched as thunder boomed in the distance. Abruptly, he raced to his small cabin on the other side of the clearing and placed the young Perseus down on a cot inside. For the rest of the night he toiled, digging a shallow grave for Sallia of Sparta. Before he began to bury her, he dropped one drachma into the grave.

"For the ferryman," he muttered sullenly. Finally, after he buried her, and after Apollo began to shine down on earth once more, he entered his cabin again, to find the young Perseus wailing louder than any mere mortal had the right to. He was wailing for the father he'd never meet, the mother he'd never get to love, and for the city he'd never get to call home.