Author's Note: Please note that the gibberish is meant to be Greek Language and it's phonetic pronunciation, curtosy of Goggle Translate, but the only current way to view the characters is by viewing the HTML pages as UTF-8 character set. Unfortunately, I don't know how to do this, and will look into options as to how to fix this, perhaps by converting the m to pdf documents once I learn how and find a free to dowload program that will let me do so. Due note that this problem is only profuse in the first four chapters of book 3, as well as in one section late into the book. If you want to read the story in it's original format, I can email you the first four chapters in unicode format after they are all submitted. In the meantime, thanks for your patience.
Sons of Sparta - A Story of the Spartans, Book 3
(inspired by the story 'Spartan' parts 1 through 4)
Note: All credit for the creation of the Spartans and Amazons, as well as the Spartan mythos belongs to the author 'CF', to whom I owe special thanks for his allowing me to write about these incredible people.
Steven and Giorgos reached the street and the human paused, looking back up at the window of Henry's apartment with a frown of concern. "What's wrong?" Steven asked, seeing the look on the human's face.
"Does he not like me?" the Grecian asked, feeling concerned that the brother of the man he felt so strangely about seemed to have become offended by him.
Steven sighed explosively. "What is wrong with him? He didn't threaten you or anything, did he?"
"It is fine. He is your brother and loves you deeply. He wants only to protect you. I understand."
Steven cast his own glance of worry up at his oldest brother's apartment before they began to walk. "I love my brother, but he's the one we worry about."
"It's... I don't know... It's like he's scared to death of finding his partner. He never wants to talk about it, but I can't for the life of me see why he seems so... Terrified of meeting that man."
"Partner?" Giorgos asked, frowning in uncertainty.
Steven looked at the human with sudden nervousness. "It's nothing," he said quickly. "Don't worry about it. He just doesn't like meeting new people, is all. Shall I walk you home?"
They walked the mile to the human's home, talking more about themselves and eventually reached Giorgos' neighborhood. It was a typical suburban street with manicured lawns and clean track homes. Giorgos' house looked exactly like any other in the block, with no outward signs as to what type of people lived there. They walked up to the front door and stopped. "This is my home," the Grecian said.
"It's a nice house," Steven said, not knowing what else to say.
"I enjoyed our date," Giorgos said gently. "Can we do so again?"
"Please," Steven replied softly.
They looked deeply into each other's eyes, moving slowly closer together until they were only a few inches apart. Steven felt nervous and excited as he leaned forward, eager for his first ever kiss.
The door flung open suddenly to reveal Giorgos' mother, who glared at them furiously. Fast as a snake, she grabbed her son's ear in her fingers. "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!? I SPEND ALL NIGHT SCARED TO DEATH FOR YOU!!!"
"Ahh! Mama, let go!" Giorgos said painfully, reaching for her hand with both of his own.
The enraged woman ignored his plea. "I think you get murdered in the street last night! You disappear, you say nothing, you no call! I raise you more respectfully than that!"
"It's my fault!" Steven said quickly, not wanting Giorgos to be in so much trouble. "We talked all night and lost track of time."
Mrs. Xarhakos raised an eyebrow and looked at the Spartan with open mistrust and disbelief. "I am not stupid," She said with a slight edge to her voice.
"I swear, Mama!" Giorgos said as he flinched in her grip. "We did nothing."
"You think I not know what hormone-driven young men are like?"
Steven blushed furiously. "No, no! we didn't do... That."
Mrs. Xarhakos was taken aback by the young man's embarrassment. "You did nothing?" she asked, seeing Steven's discomfort. He shook his head slowly.
"Mama, stop embarrassing me!" Giorgos protested.
The woman sighed and let go of his ear. "You missed breakfast," she said in an almost pout. With that, she went back inside with a sigh of disgust.
"Sorry I got you in trouble," Steven apologized.
"No," Giorgos replied, rubbing his stinging ear. "She is right... I should have called so she would not worry. She is a good woman, she worries for me."
"I should go," the Spartan said softly.
"I want to see you again," Giorgos said quickly. "How about Saturday? We can walk in the park."
Steven smiled. "Meet you there at noon?"
Giorgos nodded and they parted company, each smiling to himself as the Spartan left...
Steven was eating breakfast with the family two months later. His dads Daniel and Sam and his brothers Fred, Ash and William were all chatting away as they ate.
Steven looked at each of his brothers. Fred, who was now sixteen years old, had dark blonde hair and blue eyes like Dad Daniel, but had their Dad Sam's features. Ten year old Ash looked like a cross between their parents, but with very dark brown hair and green eyes. Nine year old William was the spitting image of Dad Daniel at his age, with brown hair and blue eyes.
His Dad Sam, the older of his parents, looked very good for a fifty seven year old. His face was still smooth and had only begun to show the first signs of aging. His ever present short-trimmed beard was only now beginning to show some very slight traces of gray in it and his piercing green eyes were still sharp. Fifty two year old Dad Daniel looked just as young, his clean-shaven face still strong with tight skin, his soft blue eyes as clear as ever.
Finally, Dad Daniel cleared his throat. "So Steven... Tell us about this guy you've been dating."
"He seems pretty nice," Steven hedged. "But I don't want to get my hopes up falsely."
Daniel leaned forward with interest. "What was it like when you first met? Did you notice anything unusual?"
"It was odd..." Steven said slowly. "Did you ever get the weirdest feeling that you've known someone all your life even though you'd only just met? It's strange... When I first looked into his eyes, it was like I knew him from somewhere, but for the life of me I couldn't say where from." He sat there, lost in thought and thereby missed the knowing smiles his fathers exchanged.
"So when do we get to meet him?" Sam asked.
At this, Steven became uncomfortable. "I-I don't know."
"Oh come on!" Daniel encouraged him. "If this is getting serious we want to meet him."
"But what if it's not 'him', dads? I don't want to go getting all attached to someone if he's not the man I'm supposed to be with. I don't want to get my hopes up falsely..."
At this, Daniel and Sam exchanged worried glances. "You mean you're not sure it's him?" Sam asked.
"I don't know..." Steven answered slowly. "I don't feel for him what you guys do for each other... I thought it would hit harder than that. What if I'm just imagining the whole thing?"
"Well Steven," Daniel said with sympathy. "Not all bonds are as strong as the one between me and your Dad Sam. It's only natural for yours to be more moderate. It’s okay, Son. Not every bond is a sledgehammer between the eyes, you know."
"But what about the granddads? And Uncles Walter and Dennis? What about Aunts Alice and Tracy? Not to mention Jason and Marcus? All of them have really strong bonds like you guys," he said, looking to his parents.
"Granted," Sam said. "You know several couples in bonds that hit hard at first, but not every bond will be that way, Steven. It seems like yours is a tamer one than you're used to seeing is all. Believe it or not, that's actually normal. Don't be so hard on yourself."
"But what if I'm making something out of nothing?" Steven asked. "I'm worried that I'm just imagining the whole thing. Maybe I'm just so desperate to find my partner that I'm making a mountain out of a molehill." He hung his head and bit into this toast without enthusiasm.
"Why not ask Lord Apollo?" Sam asked simply.
"Dad Sam!" Steven said in shock, swallowing his mouthful of food with difficulty. "I can't do that! He has better things to do with His time then cater to my insecurities!"
Sam reached across the table to take his son's hand. "I want you to ask Him, Steve. Lord Apollo adopted me and became my father. That makes you His grandson... He wants to be there for you."
"But he has His own family in England. What's He need me for?"
"That's different," Sam said gently. "Gabriel's His partner, but that doesn't mean He doesn't want to be here for you, too. Go talk to Him."
"Ok," Steven said. "But it's my turn to do dishes..."
"I'll make Ash and Will do them," Sam said with a dismissive wave of the hand.
"Hey!" the youngest sons protested in sequence.
"I'll make it up to you guys, ok? I'll take you out for lunch. How about Carl's Jr. today?"
"Ok," William said, "but can we still get a dishwasher?"
"What are you talking about, we have a perfectly good dishwasher!"
"Where?" Ash asked with suspicion, looking around.
Daniel and Fred looked at Sam suspiciously, who sighed with intense suffering. "We have a perfectly good Ashwill that works just fine!"
Ash, who was quick on the draw, glared at his parent. Will had to work it out for a moment. "Hey!" he protested. "Dad Sam, don't be a dick!"
Daniel glared at his youngest boy. "Watch your mouth, Mister!"
Fred, who had been watching silently, rose up. "I'd better get to school. Steve, go pray if it means that much to you."
"I don't know..." Steven hedged once again.
"Steve! Don't make me miss my bus putting you into a headlock and dragging you all the way into the altar chamber! Just go ask Him already!"
"Ok, Fine!" Steven answered in exasperation.
Fred leaned over to kiss Sam's cheek. "Later!"
"Love you, Son," the parent said.
"Love you too," Fred said as he kissed Daniel goodbye for the day. "See ya!"
"Love you, Fred," Daniel said.
"Love you too," Fred replied with a wave of the hand.
"Hey! Your lunch!" Daniel said, dashing over and grabbing it from the fridge.
"I'll eat at the cafeteria today!" Fred called as the front door slammed closed.
"But-" Daniel protested, then growled.
"I'll have it today," Sam said. "It'll save me the time making my own."
"I'd better get over to the temple before I need to catch my bus," Steven said.
"I need to get going, too" Dad Daniel said. "I've got three showings today." Daniel worked as a realtor and was rather successful at it. He put on his red realtor's jacket, then kissed everyone goodbye, saving Steven for last. "Call me later and tell me what He says, ok? I really hope this guy's the one!"
"Me too," Steven said with a sigh.
"I gotta get to the temple," Sam said, rising nude from the table and making sure he was cleaned up before he put on his priestly vestment of a white robe with a golden sun radiating down from the neck across the shoulders, chest and upper back. There was similar detail on the wrists. He leaned over to kiss Steven on the cheek. "Call me too and let me know what you learn. Good luck, Son."
"Thanks Dad Sam," the nervous lad said as his siring father left the room...
Steven removed his clothing slowly, feeling half solemn and half afraid of what, if anything, he would learn. He donned his sword belt and made sure the blade was fit before sliding it into its scabbard and calmly walking completely nude into the altar chamber without the slightest trace of shame. As his bare feet touched the smooth floor of the altar chamber itself, made entirely from a single piece of polished white marble that was many yards across, he felt the intense power of his god enfold him. The effect was always slightly shocking, even for one such as he, who had worshipped Apollo virtually all his life. He took a slight moment to steady himself before he strode further into the chamber.
Steven was far from frightened, seeing as how he had been inside this very place more times throughout his life then he could keep track of. His eyes fell to the altar made of obsidian, which was stained with the blood of countless sacrifices and was the very place where he himself, as well as all of his younger brothers, had been confirmed before Lord Apollo to verify them as being truly Spartan. Steven felt rather queasy just then, imagining himself as a baby upon that very altar, his Dad Daniel holding the blade of Confirmation over him with the point aimed directly at his infant-sized heart. Shuddering with discomfort, he turned away from the altar. He didn't hate his dads for doing that to him though, despite his unease at thinking back on that fateful day. Steven knew that it had been an act of love towards him and devotion to their god that had made them Confirm him. Now Steven, like all of his Spartan family members, could proudly and honestly declare himself to be truly Spartan.
Taking a deep breath, he looked first to the firepit made of gray marble that contained the ever burning flame that symbolized the eternal power and presence of Apollo, god of the sun and savior of the Spartan people. Beyond that, along the north wall stood a twenty foot tall bronze statue of Apollo himself. Situated around the outer edge of the chamber were a series of Grecian pillars of gray marble.
There was only one other person in the chamber with him. He looked at the woman with shoulder-length pale blonde hair who knelt in prayer. Wanting to do this alone, he saluted the statue, then spun his blade around and knelt, sword tip resting upon the smooth marble floor that resisted injury from the countless blades pressed to its surface and resting his forehead upon the pommel of the sword's hilt. Steven knelt silently, but did not pray yet as he normally would. He waited for the woman to finish and heard her rise, then after a moment of silence during which he assumed the woman had most likely made a salute with her blade, he heard her soft footsteps as she left and he was finally alone within the chamber.
"Lord Apollo," he whispered. "Hear my prayers and receive my devotion to You. I once more acknowledge You as my god and thank You for all that You give me. Apollo be with me." He then felt an invisible hand upon his bowed head and knew his god was making His presence known to His worshipper. "My lord... I'm sorry to bother You with something so trivial, but seeing as how Fred threatened to drag me in here by the throat, please be patient." He wasn't sure about it, but he thought that he detected a mild chuckle within his mind at that, but he pressed onwards. "I'm really nervous... I think that maybe I might have met my partner, but I'm not sure if he's the one or not. I really care about Giorgos, but I don't want to settle for him. I want to spend my life with my -true- partner. It'd be cruel to be with him, then find my real partner and be forced to leave him. I want to be a dad someday and there's only person I can do that with... I don't want to hurt Giorgos. I... I don't know what to do. Please help me," he finished, crying silently.
***Steven, do not cry.***
The Spartan gasped in shock. He very rarely heard the voice of his god as he had always needed the least from the god of all his family. For Apollo to speak to him was rather surprising.
***Your family is correct, you know. As your father Sam is My son, so too are you My grandson. Never feel unworthy of seeking My aid in your life.***
"But what about Your own family? You're partnered to Gabriel Michaelson and have sons of Your own. One of them is a god too, for crying out loud."
It was true. Only a couple of years ago, Joshua Gabrielson had appeared on TV during a live announcement broadcast world-wide where He had revealed Himself to be an immortal and that He wished to use His divine healing powers to assist anyone who had need of His abilities. Steven and his family had all been stunned by the revelation... Well most of them. Dad Sam had been unusually quiet and thoughtful then. Steven wondered at that odd reaction from his parent, but had to date said nothing about that. The last Steven had heard, Joshua had begun to work towards creating His own temple of worship and healing. Not only that, but a whole new religion was developing around Him called Joshusite.
***Yes,*** Apollo said, seeing the trail of the mortal's thoughts. ***I love My partner and our sons very much and am very proud of Joshua, but you are all My family as well. Never feel unworthy of asking Me anything, Steven. You are My grandson and I will always be here for you... Now for the matter at hand... I don't normally do this as I hate to intervene in the lives of mortals very often, but your wish to spare Giorgos any hurt is very touching. However Steven, it is completely unnecessary. Giorgos Xarhakos -is- your true partner. He is indeed the man with whom you are meant to share your life. Love him without fear, as I know you long to, with all your heart. Congratulations on finding him. I'm very happy for you.***
Steven began to sob hysterically with joy. He had wanted for days now to tell Giorgos how he felt, but had been afraid to do so. Now he could express himself freely without fear. He cried for several minutes, feeling the comforting touch of his god who was also his grandfather. Hearing that from the immortal being Himself had broken down Steven's resistance to calling Apollo family as well as his god.
***Steven, you'd better hurry or you'll miss your bus.***
"Oh! Right!" he said, hearing Apollo chuckle within him mind a moment before the touch of his god and grandfather left him. He rose quickly, saluted the statue, then hurried from the chamber.
"Cutting it real close today, Steven," Keith, the Spartan man who was head of temple security, said.
"Yeah, I know," The young man told him, removing the sword belt rapidly.
"Here, I'll take care of it," Keith said, holding out a hand to him for the blade.
"Thanks," Steven said, handing the weapon over and grabbing his pants. He threw them on, then his polo shirt and shoes, snatched up his backpack and made a run for the main entrance. "Catch you later!" he called back as he took off at a run. He dashed down the steps and saw the public transit bus he took to get to classes just starting to leave. Using his Spartan athleticism, he ran faster and caught up with the bus a few yards past the bus stop. "Sorry," he told the human bus driver, who grumbled at having been made to stop to pick him up.
Sighing and only slightly winded, he took a seat halfway back, his mind turning over and over the words that Apollo had spoken to him and smiling with a mixture of excitement and joy...