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The Destroyer
The Destroyer
Author: Bryant

Chapter 1 - Androkles

Born from lightning, a destroyer emerges. The fall of Olympus in his hands. -  Oracle of Trophonius

“Lord Androkles? Are you awake? Lord Ares is requesting your presence.”, a hesitant, almost scared voice called from the other side of my door.  

“You call yourself a soldier of Ares…” a separate voice whispered as if reprimanding the other.  

“Oh, please, like you’d be any more forceful. He’s the destroyer.”, the first voice whispered back.  

I groaned, pulling my pillow from under my head, and pressed it against my face to contain my scream. 

I HATE that word. I hate that prophecy. Fuck the Oracle of Trophonius. 

“I’m awake! Stop whispering like gossiping old women outside my door, and get back to your duties!” I bellowed as I threw off my blanket.  

The sun wasn’t going to rise for over an hour. What in the name of Zeus could Eugenius want with me? Granted, I’ve just been lying here working up the enthusiasm to get out of bed. I have tasks I should be doing and probably should hit the training yard before them.  I sighed, rubbing my hands over my face thinking of everything I ought to be doing.

“Um, Lord Androkles?” the hesitant voice was back.  

I groaned, fastening my blood-red cloak with the mark of the heir as I pulled the door open. I looked down at the soldier and narrowed my eyes.  

“What? I told you to return to your duties, and I was awake. It is still over an hour before the sun rises.”, I questioned, looking from him to the other soldier outside my door. 

I accepted, or I like to say I accepted it, that people would be afraid of me. But no matter how much I say I accepted it, it still hurts to see them flinch and shrink. After all, the prophecy says I’m going to destroy Olympus. It doesn’t help that I’m 6’6” and 260lbs making me taller and broader than Eugenius.  

“Um...well, you see Lord Androkles…” the second stammered. And he’s the one that was calling the other out for being hesitant when trying to wake me.

Yeah, real brave soldiers, you two are. 

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. “Stand up straight and speak clearly. You wear the armor of Ares, so act like it. Now state your business quickly and concisely. I have duties to attend to.” I order. That seemed to reach through their thick skulls, and they snapped to stand as straight as a spear.  

“Yes, sir. Lord Ares has called for his war council. A Chimera was spotted in the northwest territory. A battalion stationed nearby is engaging with the creature and sent a request for backup.”, the first responded, no longer hesitant. 

A chimera? Hmm, I haven’t killed one of those. 

I’ve killed catoblepas, cerastae, manticore, ophiotaurus, odontotyrannos, and even a stymphalian bird… but never a chimera. Father always seemed reluctant ever to let me face one. Is Eugenius going to do something my father is against?  

“I see. Then I should report to Lord Ares. You two are dismissed to return to your regular duties.” I nodded, heading away from them to the main hall where Eugenius likes to hold all meetings because he can sit on a throne. He’s as pretentious as my father. 

I nodded to the soldiers and House staff as I passed them. There aren’t usually this many people up at this hour. This chimera business must be important if it can cause such an uproar here at the House in the capital. I pushed open the heavy double doors of the main hall to find generals stationed at a central table with a map. Lower-ranked soldiers were hurrying about with scrolls and house staff bringing in trays of food and drinks.  

As a serving girl hurried past with a tray of cups of coffee, I stole a cup and snatched a pastry from another girl’s tray. “Thank you.”, I mumbled behind a mouthful of food. 

The pair of nymphs blinked and shrank away when they realized it was me. “L...Lord Androkles.” one stammered out, bowing her head.  

I stopped myself from rolling my eyes and instead made my way to where Eugenius was sitting on his throne, watching over everything, barking orders at the generals. I glanced at the map, pausing. Without speaking, I reached over and moved a figure from where they’d just moved it back and reached further across the map to move a different figure. 

“What do you think you’re… Lord Androkles..” a general started to get angry, ready to reprimand whoever had touched the map but paused and back-peddled when he saw it was me.  

“Lord Androkles, may I inquire why you made this change?” he asked less forcefully and even with some hesitation. 

Great, even my future generals are afraid of me.

“You are trying to determine from what forts you should send reinforcements. Who should fight the chimera? Who should stay to guard the fort closest to the attack that has been left defenseless.” I stated.  

“Well, yes.” he nodded cautiously.  

“The chimera is heading for Pella. Judging by the map, a unit from Pella was sent south to try and stop it before it reached the city.” I started to explain my reasoning. 

“You are trying to send forces from Daskai, but that’s a small fort, and sending troops from there would take longer and use more resources.” I pointed out. “Edessa is closer and currently has more troops stationed there. So they could spare the troops as backup without taking so long to arrive and using more resources.” 

“I would also recommend a unit from Stagira being sent to support Pella. In contrast, the other units try to contain, redirect, and, if possible, kill the beast.”, I explained calmly. The five generals blinked as they looked at the map and considered my suggestion. 

I’m an Ares. War is part of my power. I know strategy. It annoys me when they second-guess me like this. Do they need to think about it?  

“Lord Ares?” a general looks to the throne.  

I glanced at Eugenius. He’s not as young as he used to be. Like my father, he has been Ares for 39 years, and since I still have three more years till I’m of age to be crowned Ares, his reign will span 42 years. To most, he looks like a strong Ares as ever, but I spar him.  

While I’ve grown stronger since being named heir, he has also grown weaker. I can see how age has changed him beyond the grays that outnumber the dark brown of his hair. 

Rather unsettling to think that his most recent bride, Kyltië, is only a year older than me and already two months pregnant. I don’t know why a woman who’s only 19 would want to marry a man who’s 60, even if he is Ares. Then again, I don’t know why he was looking for another wife. His last wife died four years ago, and she’d already given him three sons, all older than me. Even my father didn’t bother trying to remarry after he divorced my mother. 

But then again, he’d gotten what he wanted, me.

Maybe fathers and their daughters realized marrying my father was not worth the trouble, especially with how he mistreated my mother and his two wives before her. Perhaps they didn’t want to get saddled with caring for a stepson prophesied to be the destroyer of Olympus. Whatever the reason, I am glad my father did not remarry after he sent my mother away.  

I can guess why Kyltië married Eugenius despite their age differences. She wanted to be Lady of House Ares and probably hoped he’ll die soon enough, given his age, and she’s left a wealthy widow. I’m not sure who should tell her he is in excellent health and doesn’t go to the front lines anymore, so he will probably live another twenty years or more.  

Though she might not mind that either, right now, Eugenius dotes on her and gives her all the luxuries she asks for. I feel bad for their child having to grow up with two self-centered parents. 

Eugenius takes his time getting off the throne to come to look. Either it’s intentional, or he’s just old and lazy. His eyes looked over the map and nodded.  

“Follow Lord Androkles’ instructions.”, he commanded before turning to me.  

“Good morning, Androkles. As you can see, we have quite a mess to deal with. I will send you along with a unit to escort a group of Apollo medics. The company will set up a field medic station and guard the medics as injured are brought in. You are to travel directly then on to join Battalion Leader Evaristus where the battle is taking place.”, he instructed. 

“So I will get to face the chimera?” I asked, arching an eyebrow.  

“It’s possible, though, my troops may have it already dead by the time you arrive.” he shrugged.  

“Go gather what you need. The guard unit will be waiting for you with Apollo’s people.”, he dismissed with a wave of his hand.  

“As you wish, Lord Ares.” I bowed my head before taking my leave. I quickly stopped in my room to put on my armor and grab my sword, shield, and battle ax. 

A unit was ready at the gates with wagons of Apollo healers. My horse, Atlas, waited, already saddled. I looked over the two dozen soldiers I was to take with me and then to the half-dozen wagons of Apollo physicians we were to protect.  

“Let’s move out. We have nearly a full day’s ride to Pella. We will have to stop and camp along the way.”, I instructed once in my saddle. With a nudge, Atlas started as we led the way from the northwest capital to Pella.

Comments (1)
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Susana Pasion Alejandro
Nice novel, seems interesting.
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