A Spartan Love Excerpt

December 8, 2014

“Andreas! Get in here right now. How many times do I have to tell you that the kryptes will kill you if they catch you outside after dark? He could hear his mother’s voice as if she were still alive, calling to him from the safety of their house.

“I’m trying, Mother!” he muttered to her shade. He would never forget that one of the Spartan warriors had slain his father for nothing more than being a helot. Andreas crossed his fingers and flicked them away from his heart in an attempt to ward off a similar fate.

Andreas scanned his surroundings, his gaze veering between his home and the tree line beyond the goats’ enclosure. The mud-brick hut with its tidy little garden dominated the otherwise smooth grounds. Silhouetted against rosy clouds, safety beckoned. However, the encroaching darkness under the trees drove a shiver up his spine.

He was all alone. Or hoped he was.

A spur of the forest behind him jutted between his house and his nearest neighbor. Petros lived on the far side, his dwelling hidden from Andreas’ sight. Petros’ family would already be safely bundled under their roof, locked up tight as twilight approached. No helot was foolish enough to brave the dark and risk death.

Even though the hut didn’t look like much, Andreas wanted to be within the shelter of his home.

But Pan, the aptly named offspring of mischief, had other ideas. For some reason, when Andreas brought his flock home, the big buck had resisted entering the enclosure. The rest of the goats were milling about, following his obdurate example as the last of the daylight bled from the sky and Andreas grew more desperate.

“Curse you, Pan! If you don’t get in there, I’ll have you for dinner. How would you like that?” Knuckles white, he raised his staff and shook it.

Almost as if he understood, Pan bolted inside the lean-to with a startled bleat, his harem quick on his heels. Not a moment too soon. Nerves pushed to the snapping point, Andreas might have been willing to leave them to fend for themselves. He muttered imprecations as he shoved the brambles into the opening, blocking their exit. Though disgruntled, he was glad he hadn’t been forced to choose between their well-being and his life.

Leaves rustled in the nearby forest despite the lack of so much as a breath of wind, and Pan bleated uneasily. Andreas strained to hear anything else, anything at all. What was out there? A rival buck? Wolves? One of the kryptes?

Andreas shivered as cold sweat covered him. Please don’t let it be one of the deadly kryptes stalking me, intent on proving himself. The young warriors, the best Sparta could produce, killed helots for sport and to hone their skills.

The final rays of sunlight faded, leaving muted colors and hushed twilight in their wake, weighing down his heart with apprehension. Andreas hoped the kryptes who had been haunting the area didn’t consider sunset to be the definition of “after dark.” By decree, the warriors killed any helot they encountered at night, holding the subjugated population in check and using terror to quell any revolts before they started.

Glancing warily around, Andreas wondered if he could reach his home before being attacked. It isn’t dark yet. I can be inside before the last light fades. He couldn’t see anyone, but a good kryptes would be nigh impossible to spot. Drawing a deep breath, he sprinted toward the hut, his heart pounding.

Nearly there! A branch snapped, and he lost his footing as he attempted to look over his shoulder. He scrambled to get on his feet and back inside before….

In his mind’s eye, a red-cloaked figure strode calmly up behind him, a sword held in one fist. “Theos save me!”

Andreas made the last bit on his hands and knees, too shaken to regain his feet. The statue of Priapos with its obscenely large phallus jutting before him guarded his doorway. The god stood ready to protect this boundary against any trespassers, wielding his prodigious cock like a club. Having never been in this position before, Andreas had no idea if the deity would be able to protect him.

He clawed at the door for a moment before he managed to slip inside. Back pressed to the thick mud-brick wall, he forced himself to draw one deep shuddering breath after another.

The sound of another twig snapping came through his open window.

Oh Hades! Someone is out there.

Andreas fought to quiet his breathing as his bowels turned to water. Had the kryptes come to wreak judgment on him as they had on his father?

A faint scrabbling at his door had Andreas attempting to wedge himself into the much too narrow space under his cot. The wooden frame scraped across the floor, the sound muffled by the packed dirt. Hiding there had been so much easier when he’d done this as a child at his mother’s insistence. He barely fit now.

If the warrior was desperate enough to enter the one-room house, Andreas couldn’t risk being seen. The young man wouldn’t draw the line at murdering a helot.

He tried to convince himself the youth merely wanted something to eat. Everyone knew the boys in the Spartan agōgē were kept on the sharp edge of hunger to encourage theft; although, if anyone caught the young man at it, he would be flogged. They trained to be effective warriors, capable of foraging while on campaign, not common thieves.

Andreas might have reached the relative safety of his home, but he still wasn’t out of danger. The kryptes might yet kill Andreas to spare himself a beating for being observed. Not that Andreas would dare report him.

A breath of wind entered his home along with the intruder. Priapos’ threat hadn’t deterred the man. A shudder tore through Andreas as the door closed with a faint thump against the frame, trapping him inside with a killer.

A Spartan Love

A Spartan Love-final

Leave a Reply