Chapter Six: Omens
Days later, Arkantos still hadn't been able to spend much time with Kastor.
One of the Atlantean Oracles, men who read the signs, had had a dream. In that dream, they had seen Arkantos walking through an immense temple of the gods, led by Athena. He was without his spear, and as he walked, he saw two visions.
First, of the armies of Atlantis overrun by monsters. Without the favor of the gods, they were destroyed, and a great figure with molten skin rose from the earth. Last of all, a meteorite descended from on high to smite them.
Combined with Arkantos' own report, it had caused a panic. People whispered that dark times were ahead.
In the second vision, where the Atlanteans gained the favor of the gods. In that emerged victoriously. Then, within the dream, the temple began to collapse, and he was forced to flee. The last thing he'd seen was the trident of the Poseidon statue breaking.
That had led Arkantos here, standing before the theocrats. The assembly was situated in a magnificent marble building. The floor was a marble one, and on the ceiling was the image of Poseidon. Around him were many of the richest men in Atlantis. Though some of the great families had moved to other regions among the Greek Citystates. Atlantis had sold a great deal to the Greeks during the battles.
Not that riches would be of much help if this plan to join the war went through. "You cannot ignore the omens, Arkantos," said Krios. "Lord Poseidon's displeasure is clear. We must help break the siege at Troy."
"Troops we send now would be lucky to arrive before the fight was over," said Arkantos flatly. He glanced at where Kastor sitting in on his first assembly. "Even if they do, their only task would be to show the banner of Atlantis. Not a task for an Admiral." Troy was never going to be a threat to Atlantis in his lifetime. Whoever won would not be able to hurt Atlantis, they would be decimated.
It would be better to dispatch one of the younger officers to assist Agamemnon. It would be less costly if they were defeated and more glorious if the result was a victory. Though Arkantos would be to avoid a war altogether.
"It would shame Agememnon if we sent one of your junior officers," said Krios. "He already complains that we do not pay enough attention to the Greek Colonies." He motioned with his staff. "No, it must be you."
Ah, of course, it would shame Agamemnon. A man who had singlehandedly lost the war he started by stealing his own subordinates' lover. To say nothing of Achilles, who had abandoned his comrades to die out of pure pride. Arkantos wished to say that he did not give one whit if Agamemnon was shamed, but that would not be good diplomacy. He had not lasted as long as he did by giving and receiving insult.
So this was actually a valid point. But not valid enough to change the argument. Arkantos was about to answer as much when there came the sound of screams from the harbor.
And then there was a cry, a long, groaning one that hurt the ears. Arkantos turned and rushed out alongside the others. Coming out of the great temple, he saw the harbor, and there, in the center of it, was a massive beast rising out of the sea. Innumerable tentacles reached out. One of them wrapped around an entire ship and crushed it in half like a twist. The crew leaped overboard, but many of the men were grabbed by the tentacles. There were crushed and pulled into the beasts' maw.
"What in the name of..." said Arkantos, looking to Kastor and Krios. "Kastor, stay here!"
Quickly, he threw on his armor and grasped his spear, praying no one would do anything foolish. As he sprinted down the cliffs, he found a group of archers launching arrows at the beast. They landed in the orangish hide of the beast to no avail, and as it reached out with a tentacle, they fled from it. Some ways away, on the northern side of the harbor, he saw siege machines standing idle.
"Get those siege machines up here," said Arkantos to a man, "send word to the Atlantean army. Then rally the militia, quickly!"
"What of the beast?" asked a man. "It'll wreck the fleet!"
"Do as I ask, now," said Arkantos, as he remembered tales of beasts like this in the far north. "I'll deal with the Kraken."
Sprinting forward, he saw a group of men with spears knocked flying by the beast. Another was gripped and bitten in half. Arkantos stopped by a man who had been grabbed and stabbed his spear into one of the tentacles.
"You men," called Arkantos, "pull back! Don't engage the beast in melee, archers prepare to fire!"
A tentacle shot toward him, but Arkantos stepped aside. The blow smashed the sand and sent it flying into the air. A volley of arrows planted in the body, but were doing no good. Arkantos' spear had been forged by Hephaestus himself, or so it was said. It was time to test that theory.
Dodging another tentacle, he stepped onto it and ran up the slippery limb, reaching the beast. More tentacles came at him, but he stabbed one through while leaping over another. Drawing out his spear with a lurch, he stepped onto the head, drew up his spear, and stabbed down.
The point stabbed deep, but the impact jarred Arkantos' hands. The creature screamed in agony and drew back from the shore, bleeding copiously. Arkantos narrowly kept his feet and raised his spear. He stabbed it again and again, before finally plunging it in for the fourth time.
As it began to sink into the water, turning it red with oceans of blood, Arkantos leaped off and swam to shore. Inwardly, he was thankful for lighter armor. Reaching the shallows, he waded in. As he did, he found that catapults having just been assembled.
The men cheered as he arrived. Arkantos was about to speak, and then there came another cry from Zethos. "Black sails! Pirates!"
Arkantos turned and saw it was true. Dozens upon dozens of black and red sails were on the horizon. Feeling the wind, Arkantos realized that it was against them. Looking at the shore, he saw men trying to push ships out to sea.
Yet they couldn't.
"Sir!" said a man. "The tides themselves aren't letting us take to the sea!" Why were they panicking? This kind of force wasn't a serious threat. A diversion, perhaps?
"What are your orders?" asked Zethos.
"...The pirates won't take Atlantis this way," said Arkantos, "what are they thinking?" A few dozen ships couldn't conquer this region. Perhaps a raid? But why choose the most heavily defended region in Atlantis? It didn't matter. "Ready the catapults, focus your fire on the enemy ships. Hoplites, prepare to defend the shore." Looking at his men, he realized he didn't have enough men to stop them here, not yet. "Get people off the northern shore, evacuate the houses, and focus their men here."
Men assembled as people took away whatever they could carry into the citadel. As they did, Arkantos glanced at the lighthouse and the villages beneath it. The southern shore, at least, were shielded by cliffs.
"Another Krakan approaches! Pray it is the last!" said a man.
Arkantos looked at the beast emerging from the water to tear at the harbors. It ripped up ships and dock in equal measure. Men scrambled back, several being ripped to shreds. Even so, Arkantos noticed a number of noticeable bloody wounds. "No, it's the same one." The pirates landed, coming onto the ships in red uniform, wielding axes and shields. "For Atlantis!"
Arrows were loosed into the ranks of the pirates, who raised their shields. Some were killed, but the rest continue the charge into the hoplite spears, and the battle began.
Zethos stabbed a man through the throat with his spear. Arkantos ducked under an Anubite's sickles and ran it through. Drawing it out, he called aloud to his men and charged toward the Kraken, braining a man on the way through.
The Kraken saw him coming and roared before sending all of its tentacles at him. Arkantos moved aside, seeing a pirate vessel smashed to bits by stones. Those aboard it fell into the water, swimming to safety if they could, or sinking if they could not. Flames were on the northern shore as they were looted and pillaged the empty remnants.
Arkantos felt suddenly angry.
Rolling aside from the Kraken's tentacle, he pinned it in place with his spear. Drawing out his sword, he brought the blade down, cutting through hide and flesh. The beast recoiled before sending more at him. Spinning his spear around, he warded them off before charging over the wreckage of the harbor. A tentacle was swung toward him horizontally. But Arkantos vaulted over it, before rolling under another.
Reaching his feet, he was sprinting along a pier of wood, straight toward the beast's mouth. Its eyes gazed at him hatefully as the tentacles were brought together at once. Arkantos leaped with all his might, as the pier shattered into a thousand splinters. Drawing back his spear with both hands, he drove it down as he fell, stabbing straight between the eyes. The point penetrated the hide, went through the flesh. It delved deeper and deeper until, at last, Arkantos was holding it only by the edge.
Jerking it, Arkantos drew it out as the beast fell back, finally dead.
Turning, he drew out his bloodied spear and walked back to the battlefield. Even now, the Atlantean army was streaming down, and the pirates were drawing back on their ships. Some were cut off and destroyed, while others were able to escape with whatever booty they could find.
Arkantos moved to the shore and watched them flee. "The Black Sails are fleeing. It will take more than pirates to overcome Atlantis." He said as he looked at flaming buildings. He prayed that everyone had escaped.
Then Arkantos glanced and saw Kastor. The boy was holding a bloodied sword and wiping it on the sand. Arkantos blinked. "Kastor?"
"We were called out to fight," said Kastor.
Arkantos nodded. He'd fought well and survived unharmed from the looks of things. "...We'll speak of this later."
Then he said nothing other than to give orders. Wounded were tended to and fires put out. The damage, it seemed, was fairly minimal, and most of the buildings could be saved. Some places had been looted, but the pirates had not taken much time for it.
What was Kamos doing here? He could have gotten all the same plunder with less risk in a dozen other places. Arkantos found himself staring out at the Statue of Poseidon, feeling in a daze.
"Another message from Poseidon, Arkantos," said Krios, appearing behind him. "His creatures help the pirates."
"Father, they stole the trident!" cried Kastor suddenly.
Arkantos looked back in shock. "What?"
"Yes, it was stolen during the fighting," said Krios. "There could not be a clearer sign, Arkantos. We are losing Poseidon's favor. We must act."
Arkantos looked back with his own eyes. Sure enough, it was there. The statue of Poseidon had been robbed. The honor of Atlantis dealt unforgivable insult, and Poseidon insulted. He clenched his hand on his spear. "I will go to Troy, as you ask. I'm going to get that trident back on the way." Looking back to his men, he called aloud. "Zethos, take supplies aboard and get the men together, we're setting sail!"
"Can I come?" asked Kastor.
To Troy? To a place where Hector, Achilles, Odysseus, and so many other legends were fighting. No, no, he could not. "No, I need you here in case they come back. Don't worry - this errand will not take long."
The wind returned in force.
It was time to settle things with Kamos.
You know, I don't think Arkantos gets enough credit for personal badassery. Just because he's an RTS hero doesn't change the fact. He kills mythical creatures in single combat. Most notably a cyclops and several kraken in the first few missions.