"Remember us." As simple an order as a king can give. "Remember why we died." For he did not wish tribute, nor song, nor monuments, nor poems of war and valor. His wish was simple.
"Remember us," he said to me. That was his hope, should any free soul come across that place, in all the countless centuries yet to be. May all our voices whisper to you from the ageless stones, "Go tell the Spartans, passerby, that here by Spartan law, we lie..."
Third Person's POV
Silence engulfed the camp of Spartans but one person still managed to stay awake. For, she found no sleep as of late with battle imminent. The sun would be soon to rise and so would the rest of her camp.
And so, she stood out on an overhang of rocks that looked out across the battle field below. Xerxes's tent had been moved and with them, they took her father. He was alive. After an entire year of becoming battle ready and cold-hearted, she learned that all her efforts where to be wasted.
Of course, she had always plotted revenge. She felt as though it were the best way to do it. Her father, if she knew had been alive, would probably have supported her all the way but the surrounding Greek countries did not understand her need for unnecessary bloodshed.
She shuffled her sandaled feet on the rocks and let her hair get tossed about in the breeze. Her long, golden hair that was a gift from the Gods. That is how others saw it. She only saw it as hair and only she knew why her hair was truly gold.
She had been chosen by the Gods for a higher purpose.
She had been chosen to follow in her father's footsteps and take up her position on the throne. It had only been a dream at the time, something she thought would never happen. Something she had only ever hoped for. But, she her dreams did not come true on the best terms.
The moon glowed down on her, turning her golden hair an abnormal silver. Artemis was with her on this night.
The helmet in her hands glinted in the moonlight as well. Turning it over in her hands, she ran her fingers over the deep gashes in the bronze steel. Her hand brushed against the black horse hair that seemed to spring forth from the top of the helmet, her lips pressed together in thought.
This was her father's helmet. It was one of the only things that they had recovered from the battle. Tomorrow would change everything.
Now that he was alive, she had something to fight for once more. Not just for her blood lust and revenge but for the very man that gave her life. The very man who had clothed her. Loved her. Taught her. Made her who she was today.
And then, there was Stelios. Hope had sparked in the pit of her stomach when she found him. Her true love had been recovered. Things would turn out better now that he was around.
Footsteps came from behind her, causing her to glance slightly over her shoulder. She could easily make his form out in the moonlight, for she had been doing so for such a long time.
"I see you couldn't sleep..." Her second-in-command mused with his green eye gazing out over the empty field just as she was.
"You now I cannot with battle tomorrow. Please Dilios, you should know this by now!" The Regent Queen teased the warrior, her brown eyes sparkling with mirth. He smiled back at her and scratched his stubble lined jaw.
"I see that Stelios's return has lifted your spirits?"
"Indeed, with Xerxes's death quickly approaching, I found that my need for his blood on my hands was stronger because of my misplaced husband."
"You are not wed yet though, my lady..."
"Not on a scroll, but in here is what matters..." She placed her fist over her heart, signalling that their love was internal. "Oh, listen to me now. I sound like a child again!"
"But, you are still a child!" He teased which earned his a snort from the Queen. They both chuckled for a short while before they both dropped back into a comfortable silence.
"Am I a good ruler, Dilios?" She asked quietly, worry entering her gut and making them churn with unease. The man took a moment to gather his thoughts, knowing that he was treading dangerous water. But, he only knew to tell the truth. For if he did not, the firey woman would know he was lying without even looking him in the eye.
"Your men are loyal to you, Alexandria..." He replied quietly and she turned towards him, her lips set in a frown.
"I am aware of that fact but do they accept me as their true leader because of how I was born?" She asked once more and he swallowed.
Sparta had flourished under her rule, even more so than it did when her father was king. There had been much mourning over the loss of their king but when the beauty had taken up the throne in her father's place, the Spartan citizens had been uncertain. But of course, being on the battle field along side the regal woman had only distinguished any belief that had haunted him.
She was born to rule and if she had not, her father had sculpted and formed her into what she now.
"They care not if you are male or female. There were some doubts in the beginning but seeing as how you returned to Sparta a new woman after your travels, they could not have asked for a mightier leader. Do not doubt yourself, Alexandria." He warned her and he saw her shoulders relax the slightest.
"Your words are comforting, Dilios. I would like to thank you for all you have done for my family and I. I would have been so lost without your guidance..." She complimented and the warrior shifted nervously in his place.
"There is no need for thanks. I was only following your father's orders..."
"And you did so well!" She gazed down into the helmet before running her thumb across one of the deep cuts in the cheek plates. In her brown eyes though, Dilios could still see the bit of doubt that resided there.
"We will follow you to battle, my lady." He said, placing his hand on her shoulder and turning her towards him. She met his eyes with her fierce gaze and for the first time in a long time, he realized how much she had changed.
She was no longer the girl who had snuck away to join her father in war. She was her own person, her own leader and she followed her own heart.
She only nodded and he turned to leave after he affectionately squeezed her shoulder. "Dilios?" Her smooth voice called after him. The one eyed warrior turned and looked at her.
"We march at dawn." Her order sent an eerie shiver down his back. Yes, his body was aching for battle and bloodshed but the way she had said it. She had been so calm and cold, as if she did not care about the battle at all. So eerily calm. As if she knew they would win.
Alexandria's back muscles were taught as she stared out over the battle ground. Turning behind her, most of her loyal soldiers were resting peacefully. A few sat awake near a fire and wrapped in a thick blanket, her two old friends were sleeping soundly.
She could see her love's face as he rested. His forehead wasn't wrinkled in worry. His steely blue eyes were closed. The healers had treated his wounds, along with Astinos. She was lucky that both had survived.
Now, all she had to do was retrieve her father.
The fire crackled behind her and her ears pricked as footsteps were heard behind her. They were slower than a normal person's gait and the person took careful steps. Glancing over her shoulder, she wasn't surprised to find Stelios making his way over to her.
"You should be sleeping..." She told him but he only gave her a wide smile. His coloring was better now that his wounds had been treated. He came to stand behind her. Deep in his chest, she could hear him groan in pain. He went to take another step forward but stumbled a bit.
Reacting quickly, she caught him in her arms and helped him over to a boulder nearby. "I told you to rest. You never did listen!" She growled slightly and Stelios released a breathy laugh.
"You weren't king the last time I saw you so I didn't have to listen..." He replied and dropped heavily onto the stone. Alexandria only shook her head at his antics while he laughed
"I wasn't supposed to be your king the last time I saw you either!" She replied easily. Speaking had always been so easy with the man at her side now.
"Who would have ever believed that you would be the new ruler of Sparta?"
"My father did apparently..." She breathed and Stelios tensed beside her. A soft spot, he knew.
"Alexandria..." He reached out and touched her arm softly. She only turned to look at him, her hazel eyes softening as they met his own. Another soft spot. Another weakness. "I'm sure that if you got all these men to follow you this far, they will follow you into battle."
"I know they will. But that does not mean that I won't disappoint him..." She replied quietly and for the first time ever, her stony resolve cracked but only barely.
"How would he be disappointed? You have done a fine job commanding his army. No other could have done better than you have!" He reassured her, placing his larger hand around hers and squeezing it gently. Once again, he saw her resolve drop and she closed her eyes momentarily. Leaning her head on his shoulder, she rested for a moment.
For the past year, there had been so much stress placed on her shoulders. She had needed her father in his absence. She had needed someone to stand by her side and rule. She was sure that if he could have, Stelios would have been by her side. She was sure of that.
However, Dilios had been the one to support her like the pillars supported the roof in the palace, her home. The one-eyed Spartan had been a shinning light when she would become to stressed and she could lean on him for support. Her father made a good choice in sending him home with her.
"I love you..." Stelios whispered down to her, squeezing her hand once again. Turning to face him, she didn't hesitate in brushing her fingers along his strong jaw. Dipping his head, he pressed his lips to hers and she breathed into him. She had missed him so much. A year had passed without them seeing each other. She had missed his face, his soft stubble on his chin, his boyish smile.
Breaking a part, she opened her hazel eyes and gazed at him softly. "I love you, too..."
Taking in a deep breath, Alexandria watched as the sun floated up to its highest peak. It was time. Looking down to her second in command, she nodded and he turned to the troops behind them.
The dark hair of her horse ruffled in the breeze and the beast snorted, eager for his own battle. Upon his back, he carried the Spartan Queen who was as battle ready as ever. She was ready to fight. She was ready to retrieve her father and it was his job to get her where she needed to go.
"...And so my king died, and my brothers died, barely a year ago. Long I pondered my king's cryptic talk of victory. Time has proven him wise, for from free Greek to free Greek, the word was spread that bold Leonidas and his three hundred, so far from home, laid down their lives! Not just for Sparta, but for all Greece and the promise this country holds!" Alexandria listened intently to her soldier rally the troops.
Dilios turned back to his Queen who handed him his spear. He was about to pull away when their eyes met and he saw uncertainty in hers. He only smiled slightly, trying to comfort her. This was her first war, this was her first time commanding an army.
"Now, here on this ragged patch of earth called Plataea, Xerxes's hordes face obliteration!" He called out to the Spartans, raising his spear above his head.
"AWOH!" A round of war cries came from behind her, sending a shiver down her spine.
"Just there the barbarians huddle, sheer terror gripping tight their hearts with icy fingers... knowing full well what merciless horrors they suffered at the swords and spears of three hundred. Yet they stare now across the plain at ten thousand Spartans commanding thirty thousand free Greeks! AWOH!" Dilios cried, sparking a strong flame in the belly of all her faithful soldiers.
"AWOH! AWOH! AWOH!" Rang out behind her, causing her spine to tingle once more. Pulling on the reigns, she turned her large black horse around. All the men grew quiet as the blonde beauty turned around and looked up at her expectantly. Taking a deep breath, she evenly met their gaze.
"The enemy outnumber us a paltry three to one, good odds for any Greek. This day we rescue a world from mysticism and tyranny and usher in a future brighter than anything we can imagine!" Dilios placed his helmet on his head, causing all the others to follow his actions.
Alexandria looked down the helmet in her lap. She brushed her fingers along the black horsehair, her eyes softening for a moment. She hesitantly lifted it and placed the scarred helmet onto her head, letting it rest on her golden hair.
Her golden hair swung in the breeze that pranced across the fields of Plataea. It had been tied back in a long braid and hung down freely without being tucked up into her helmet. The scarlet cape flared out behind her, no longer covering her front. She did not care if anyone saw that she was female. It should only cause them more fear.
The horsehair on her helmet already painted a target on her back, signalling to Xerxes that she was here and she was coming for her father.
"Let the Queen speak!" One soldier called out from somewhere inside the mass of bodies. Dilios watched as her back went rigid for a moment. She shifted nervously in her saddle and gripped her spear tightly in her hand.
"Why are we here today?" She asked to no one in particular. When no one answered, she continued. "We are here to fight for freedom! Freedom for your wives, your sons, your daughters! We are here to fight for your own freedom! But, one year ago, my father made the ultimate sacrifice because he wanted to fight for your freedom!" She cheered and her voice rang out as the soldiers were still completely silent.
"Forty years my father had laid name to the throne. Forty years, Sparta flourished under his care! It flourished because he fought for her freedom! And now like the wolf and the snow, the beast lays dormant just over there! I know that you are not as loyal to me as you were to my father but just follow me now! Run in my wake of power as I lead you into battle just like my father had done!" The men raised there spears into the sky, showing their loyalty to their commander. Alexandria choked back on tears at the humble gesture. She could do this.
"Give thanks, men, to Leonidas and the brave 300! TO VICTORY!" Dilios cheered as he lined up with the men, waiting for her instruction. Alexandria turned to face the sun that shone down on her muscles body.
Making Ares rear, the black horse whinnied, ready to carry out his duty for his Queen. Landing back onto his four hooves, she urged him forward and a battle cry escaped her throat in the process.
His large feet thundered against the ground and she drew nearer and nearer to the opposing side. Glancing behind her, Dilios was leading the men in a full out charge. They were also roaring with pride.
Facing forward once more, a glint of gold caught her eye. She could see Xerxes perched upon his immaculate thrown, a smirk on his disgusting lips. She urged Ares faster once more and he obliged. Reaching out with her spear, the sharp tip entered the stomach of one of the soldiers. Leaving it behind, she pushed through the crowd and drew her blade. The onyx sword glinted sharply in the light and her large horse forced his way through the crowd.
Alexandria only had to hold on and slice at the men who tried attacking her. In the year between the Hot Gates and Plataea, she had become very accustomed to riding on a horseback and fighting as the horse galloped.
The large thrown drew nearer and Alexandria felt her cape get caught in someone's hands and she almost got yanked off her steed. She choked momentarily before the clip came undone and she knew that she was being watched from above. That clip would have never came undone in any other circumstances.
It seemed as though no one would get in her way as she approached the throne. However, the horse stopped galloping once she reached the foot of the stairs. Sailing over his head, Alexandria felt the saddle drop out beneath her. Her arms were spread wide as she flew through the air.
She landed on the stairs and stood up quickly. Xerxes's face was openly full of shock which turned to terror when he saw the dark smile come across her face. This wasn't the innocent princess from a year ago. No, this was a vengeful Queen.
"You are surprised to see me?" She asked him, a dark tone added to her voice. Xerxes was almost cowering in his golden seat as she began to pace before him like a lioness stalking her prey.
"Where is he?!" She screamed at him, causing him to flinch.
"You will not speak to a God-King in that tone of voice! For I shall unleash my furry upon you!" He threatened right back and Alexandria only laughed quietly, still pacing. Her onyx sword caught his eye and he narrowed them at the odd piece of steel.
"How did you come by this blade?" He stood up, stepping towards her. She stopped her pacing momentarily before glancing at the sword.
"Bring my father out and I'll tell you..." She negotiated and Xerxes's curiosity got the best of him. When he didn't call right away, she pointed the dark sword at his throat and he swallowed thickly. He motioned to one of the slaves to go retrieve his prisoner and it was only a few minutes before two immortals appeared with a bloodied body in their hands.
Bloody but alive. His hands were bound and there was a bag over his head. Yet, she watched as his chest rose up and down when he breathed. In the blink of an eyes, she plunged the sword into the right one's windpipe. Yanking it free, she slashed at the other one's neck. Both grumbled to the ground almost simultaneously and Xerxes's watched in horror as their blood spilled upon his golden throne.
"N-Now, the blade..." Xerxes stammered and Alexandria held up the blade and looked at it in the light. A smirk twitched at her lips as she felt her blood lust get the best of her.
"It was a gift from the Gods..."
"You're Gods are not real!" He protested but didn't get a chance to finish.
"No, you're not real. You chose to believe in the wrong Gods and you chose to fight with the wrong country. Your last mistake was taking a King away from his country and his family... I hope you burn in Hell alongside Hades! " Flicking her wrist, her black blade flew through the air and split Xerxes's skull in two. His dying body fell back into his immaculate thrown and the tip of the blade buried itself into the metal.
Relief washed over her but she didn't let it show.
"A-Alexandria...?" A weak, yet familiar voice called from off to the side of the throne. Her hazel gaze immediately sought him out and she rushed over to him. She pulled the bag off his head.
How he had not died, she did not know. Well, in the back of her mind she knew. He survived because he was a Spartan.
Pulling her sword from Xerxes's skull, she whipped his blood off with his own golden cloak. Walking back over to her father, she cut his hands free. He had been on the ground, having found it difficult to stand by himself.
Helping him up, she stood and pulled the bag off his head. Hazel met hazel even thought the second pair was full of exhaustion and relief at the same time. He looked terrible. His wounds were infected, he was thinner and less muscular, he was filthy, and he smelled terrible. However, the love for her father did not falter.
However, her eyes widened and she pulled his helmet off her head and dropped down onto her knees. Holding the helmet up to him, she shut her eyes tightly and offered it to her father as an act of loyalty.
She felt the metal being taken from her fingers but remained kneeling with her eyes locked onto the ground. She dared not raise her head and she remained perfectly still. However, she felt a hand come to rest on her head. Glancing up, her father reached for her hand and pulled her from the ground.
He weakly smiled at her, showing his support. Placing the helmet back onto her head, she watched as he got down on his knees and bowed down to her. She noticed that the battle behind her grew silent. Turning slowly, she saw that most of the Persians were dead but some still remained. If the need called for it, they could be slaves. The rest of the Spartan army was bowing as well.
After a moment, her father rose once more with her assistance. Tears welled in her eyes as she gazed at him. Her father was actually alive.
"Father..." She rushed to him, sounding like she was so young once more. It had been like this only a few years ago when her biggest worry was when the other girls teased her about her golden hair. He embraced his daughter tightly, savoring this moment. He had his little girl back. His gift from the Gods.
"My daughter... My Alexandria..." He whispered into her ear, tears steaming down his weathered and dirtied face. He had part of his family back. He had his happy ending and so did she.
To Puffgirl1952: Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas. I hope you get all that you wished for.
People, please review. I'm not sure if I should make this the last chapter or continue on with one more as the epilogue. Stelios and Alexandria kind of have to have a proper reunion but I'm going with the first one and maybe ending it here. Anyway, let me know!