"Tonight, we feast! And tomorrow, we march! For Xerxes, God-King of Persia!" The Herald declared to the gathered armies of Persia.
The armies cheered, banging whatever weapons they possessed on their shields. Every time they were summoned, they were required to wear full battle armor. It wouldn't have been unreasonable to think that they only reason they cheered was to get out of the sweltering sweat.
Not even Generals of the standing Persian Army were spared. On top of their scale armor, they were expected to wear regalia of the finest caliber. Wearing suffocating, heavy armor and finery in the desert heat of Persia was not the most rewarding of experiences.
Perseus, a well-respected General, shifted uncomfortably in his standing position. He hated these ridiculous announcements of future conquests. The self proclaimed "God-King" hadn't even bothered to show up to rouse the moral of the troops. The arrogant idiot.
Perseus sighed as the Xerxes's Royal Strategist beckoned to the Generals. Now he would have to endure hours of useless talking followed by the final wrap-up of strategy talk. Perseus's green eyes flickered towards the cloudless sky. Unless...
Perseus closed his eyes. All he could see was darkness. Then, ten circles appeared, each the size of a medium sized plate. Inscribed on all ten were different designs representing a different aspect of his power.
One circle began flickering with light, slowly glowing steadier as Perseus concentrated harder. Finally, the circle ceased flickering and began glowing with light. The power had been activated.
"I invoke the winds. Allow me to command a fierce wind to cease my punishment before it begins," Perseus whispered so as not to alert his fellow Generals of his celestial might.
For the first time that year, clouds began rolling in to their area. He couldn't make it rain, that domain belonged to Anahita, goddess of water, but moving the clouds was enough of a symbol.
Everyone had noticed the gathering clouds and quieted. It was a rare sight to see anything remotely related to water in the arid desert.
"See the clouds? Anahita herself has blessed us on our journey! Let us celebrate!" The Herald crowed in delight. The armies banged their weapons on their shields.
Perseus's nostrils flared as he held back a smile. Whoops. He had meant to save himself from punishment not imitate a goddess. Even weakened, she was a powerful force not to be trifled with.
Perseus allowed a breath of air to escape him as his thoughts turned towards the gods. The decline of the first Persian Empire coupled with the prominence of Zoroastrianism had taken its toll on the Persian Pantheon.
Zoroastrianism had given Ahura Mazda, god of creation, the powers of all the other gods in the pantheon. The collapse of the pantheon was inevitable. The only question was when it would happen. One god given the powers of all would soon cease to exist. There was a reason why there was more than one god.
Perseus turned to leave the pedestal. They had all been dismissed by the Herald and he had managed to avoid being stopped by the Royal Strategist.
The tall half-blood already knew his part in the war. He would be the overall commander starting with Thermopylae and continuing until all of Greece decided to bow down to their overwhelming superiority. At least, that was Xerxes's plan.
Perseus believed it to be a foolish plan. He should crush all resistance not foolishly wait on the surrender of the Greeks. Perseus shook his head; he supposed it was okay for the God-King to be foolish, after all, there was only one lifetime to be so.
The tent Perseus called home for the time being was small compared to the tents of his fellow Generals. It was adorned simply; he preferred practicality and weightlessness over finery and heaviness. Nothing was inside except for a cotton mat long enough to hold him and thick enough for him to not feel the floor. He would have just used the may but his lieutenants believed that he should have some sort of way to distinguish himself from the men he commanded.
Perseus unstrapped the greenish-blue cape from his shoulders, dropping it to the ground. Then, he proceeded to unbuckle all his armor and place it neatly on the ground. Capes didn't save lives, that he knew of, but armor did which is why he treated it better.
Just as Perseus was about to lay down his sword, he felt a presence behind him so he did the natural thing. Perseus drew his sword and spun, crashing his steel sword on that of a god's.
Perseus looked up and chuckled before putting his sword back in its scabbard and stood up.
"Welcome to the greatest regiment of the Persian Army, recruit. If you're looking to sign up under the glorious leadership of King Xerxes, a tent somewhere east of here will take your information," Perseus said smilingly.
"Ha! A recruit? You forget yourself in the presence of a more powerful being. Do you need a reminder of who is more powerful?" The tall immortal never once let down his guard, not even with his only son.
Perseus grinned, "Peace be with you, father of mine. I am not like those godlings of Greece who would overthrow their own fathers for possession of the world. If, by any chance, they happen to exist, that is."
"Have you no chairs, son? My heir should have more than some simply cotton bed in his own home!" The immortal waved a hand and a chair appeared that he sat upon.
Perseus's expression now turned serious. There were few reasons as to why one of the last remaining gods of the Persian Pantheon would come to visit him. "What news, father?"
"This attempt to conquer Greece will not succeed in restoring the Pantheon. The damage from Zoroastrianism is done. The gods will all continue on their path to fading," Perseus's father replied.
Perseus crossed his arms and sighed. He had been expecting this, yes, but to hear a god as mighty as his own father utter his worst fears was horrendous.
His father continued, "Xerxes has used his elite troop to eliminate all threats to his throne. That includes the children of the gods. Congratulations, Perseus, you are the last remaining child of a god in all of Persia."
Perseus snorted his amusement before adopting a grave expression, "And what of Azhi Dahaka, the legendary creature who is fated to break free at the world's end? Surely the end of the Persian Pantheon is enough of an ending to rouse him from his slumber?"
Perseus's father laughed uproariously, nearly causing nearby soldiers to come check in on their General, "Ah, son. I had forgotten how young you truly are. Your serious yet foolish demeanor forces me to recall your young age. Perseus, has it not occurred to you that Persia is merely a piece of land not the world? Azhi Dahaka is fated to break free at the end of the world. Our declining reign is not the end of the world. There are other people- other gods who exist in this realm. They will long be here after my time has come."
Perseus rolled his eyes, "Honest mistake."
Perseus's father stood up from his chair, "As soon as you leave this land, the last of us, Anahita, Mithras, Ahura Mazda, and I will fade."
"Do you wish for me to stay?"
"No. We would eventually fade even if you were to remain. Leave this failing land, child of mine. Perhaps in Greece you may live a fuller life. This will sound peculiar coming from me however, war and battle are not the only things to enjoy in life," Perseus's father was adamant in what he said. Towards the end of his existence in this world, he had found love, and that had made a difference in his life, no matter how short of a life he had left.
"Are you saying I should abandon the army?" Perseus asked.
"I am only saying that there is more to life than war," His father told him a second time.
"I am sure in the future, there will be a word to depict this scene," Perseus smiled.
"Now then, Perseus. I must take my leave. I wish to visit your mother's grave before I cease to exist. It was good to see you one final time," Perseus's father made the chair disappear.
"I will honor you, father. In any battle, my battle cry will be your name," Perseus said.
"It appears I have a fool for a son. Have I not told you twice that war is not everything? If you wish to honor me, honor me by living a great life," The immortal answered.
The god lifted his hand and put a finger to his child's forehead, "To you, I gift the remainder of my powers. Use them wisely."
Without another word, one of the most powerful beings in all creation disappeared from sight.
"The world is a more difficult place with you gone...Verethragna, god of victory," Perseus whispered to the empty tent. A tear slid down his cheek. It would be a long time before he would see his father again.
As his Lieutenants entered his tent, Perseus wiped the sole tear from his face. It wouldn't end well for him if a General was caught showing a sign of weakness.
"Come, Lieutenants. I believe we have many inspections to conduct before Mithras sets in the sky," Perseus commanded, "let us go."
As Perseus stepped outside his tent, he used his power over the winds to blow the clouds away from their camp. The light from the sun shined brightly from the east.
In his heart, Perseus knew one thing. It was going to be a long day.