"With His Shield or On It" Chapter Six: Winding Paths

Fiction By Elizabeth // 4/21/2008

Marching up to his post with a heavy heart, knowing that Golwitch’s place would be taken, Menegal saw that a new soldier was already there. The soldier was taller than he and looked older. He had blonde hair and fair skin with a stern face. His eyes were a deep blue that seemed to reflect the mountains before him. Taking his place beside him, the leader of the company, Ranifa, walked up to them.
“Menegal, this is Luvilia. You are to fight together and stand by one another through this march and upcoming battle. I suggest that you get to know one another, for it will increase the fury in your hearts to whomever tries to injure the other.”
Menegal and Luvilia bowed to Ranifa out of respect, then turned to one another in shy glances.
“Where in Sparta are you from?” asked Luvilia.
“In the valleys to the south of the main city,” answered Menegal.
“I live to the north by the mountains,” said Luvilia, in return.
“Are you familiar to the climbing of mountains?” asked Menegal.
“Yes, I would always, with my playfellows in childhood, climb through the mountains and learn the ways to live there,” said Luvilia, with a faraway look in his eyes.
“Never have I any experience through the mountains, except for the past six days,” said Menegal, feeling young and nervous. “And I have heard that we will be taking the steepest paths and most winding today. Have you any advice on how to climb such paths?”
“Yes, I have. Do not look down into the way of the ravine, it makes one dizzy. Also, not to be in a hurry and rush through the path, for you do not know what is around the next bend. There may be loose slabs of stone. Do not yell or shout, for that would surely bring an avalanche down upon our heads,” said Luvilia.
A horn call was then blown and Leonidas stood forth, clad with a fiery orange cape that dazzled in the sun. He wore a plumed helm, and had a scimitar at his side. He also wore a gold pendant around his neck engraved with his seal. Taking his place before his army, he called the oath of the Spartans:
“A Spartan leaves the field with his shield or on it!”
In reply, the men shouted in glad voices:
“We will stay by the oath and our king!”
Therefore, the march began.
Walking awkwardly with his crutch, Menegal tried his best to keep in time with the march. During the march, Luvilia asked why the need of the crutch. Menegal told him of the night before and of the council.
“You will have trouble fighting, Menegal,” said Luvilia. “See. Your arm is giving way. Do not think I have not noticed. Your pace has slackened. You may train with me on your fighting skills without a right leg and a right arm.”
“Thank you, Luvilia. The practice would be most welcome,” said Menegal.
As the day went on, they soon came to the winding paths of the Pindu mountains. Staying close to the mountain wall, Menegal took all the advice Luvilia had given him. Behind him was a man younger than he named Ebhali, who walked with fear and anxiety. Menegal tried to reassure him and instruct him with Luvilia’s advice as best as he could without turning his head. He needed to see the places where his feet were stepping.
Coming ahead to a slab that was loose, Menegal did as Luvilia did before him and swung himself with the aid of his crutch over it. Telling Ebhali behind him to do likewise, Ebhali jumped too short and slipped on the stone causing it to fall into the ravine below. With a scream, Ebhali started to fall with the stone and was unable to stop. Quickly thinking, Menegal reached his crutch over to Ebhali. Ebhali grasped it, then fell down with the stone over the cliff’s edge still hanging onto the crutch. Menegal then, with the help of Luvilia, and another man pulled Ebhali to safety.
“Thank you,” said Ebhali, still shaking and sweating from the fall.
“What else is a fellow soldier to do than to help the other?” said Menegal. “Just stay close to the wall,” he reminded jokingly and grinned. Ebhali smiled in return and took his place behind him.

Comments

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Anonymous | Tue, 04/22/2008