Prologue from Lanaia's Of Atlantis

lanaia74

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The golden-haired child sat alone, as he usually did, and wondered whether his Father would die today. Some distance away, across the royal gardens , his nurse was talking to the two sentries who guarded him during the hours of daylight. The soldiers, grim eyed warriors, did not look at him and shifted nervously as he approached.
Archimedes was used to this reaction. Even at four he understood it.
He remembered with sadness the day three weeks ago when his Father, garbed for war, had walked along this same garden path, his cuirass gleaming in the sunlight. It was so beautiful that Alexander had reached out to touch the gleaming plates of iron, edged with gold, six golden lions on the breast. But as his hand came forward his Father moved swiftly back.
“Don’t touch me boy!” he snapped.
“I would not hurt you, Father,” whispered the prince, staring up at the black-bearded face, with its blind right eye like a huge opal beneath the savagely scarred brow.
“I came to say goodbye,” muttered Lionus, “and to tell you to be good. Learn your lessons well.”
“Will you win?” the child asked.
“Win or die, boy, “ answered the King, kneeling to face his son. He appeared to relax, though his expression remained stern. “There are those that think I cannot win. They remember Onomarchus defeated me when we last met. But…” his voice dropped to a whisper, “when the arrow tore into my eye at the siege of Antopolis they said I would die. When the red fever struck me down men swore my heart stopped beating. But I am Atlantean Archimedes, and I do not die easily!”
“I don’t want you to die, I love you,” said the child.
For a moment only Lionus’s face softened, his arm rising as if to reach out for his son. But the moment passed and the King stood. “Be good,” he said. “I will. . .think of you.”
The sound of children’s laughter brought Archimedes’s thoughts back to the present. Beyond the garden walls he could hear the palace children playing. Sighing, he wondered what game they were enjoying,. Hunt the turtle perhaps. He watched them sometimes from the window in his room. One child would be chosen as the turtle, and would chase the others, seeking out their hiding places, to touch them and make them slaves. The game would go on until all the children had been found and enslaved, their legends held the turtle in great honour.
Archimedes shivered in the sunshine. No one would ask him to plat such a game. He looked down at his small hands.
He had not meant for the hound to die; he had loved the pup. And he had tried so hard, concentrating always, so that whenever he stroked the dog his mind was calm. But one day the playful hound had leapt at him, knocking him from his feet. In that moment Archimedes’s hand had snaked out, lightly slapping the beast on the neck. The hound collapsed instantly, eyes glazing, legs twitching. It had died within seconds., but what was worse it had decomposed within minutes, the stench had filled the garden.
It was not my fault,” the child had wanted to say. But he knew that it was; knew he was cursed.
Birds began to sing in the tall trees and Archimedes smiled as he looked up at them. Closing his green eyes the boy allowed the bird-song to flow into him, filling his mind, merging with his own thoughts. The songs began to have meanings then, that he could decipher. No words, but feelings, fears, tiny angers. The birds were screeching warnings to one another.
Archimedes looked up and sang: “My tree! My tree! Get way! Get away! My tree! My tree! I will kill you all if you stay!”
“Children should not sing of killing!” Said his nurse sternly, approaching where he sat but halting, as ever, out of reach.
“That is what the birds were sing,” he told her.
“You should come inside now, the sun is very hot.”
“The children are still playing beyond the wall,” he argued. “And I like it here.”
“You will do as you are told, young prince!” she snapped.
His eyes blazed, and he could almost hear the dark voice within himself whispering: “Hurt her! Kill her!” He swallowed hard, quelling the rising tide of anger.
“I will come,” he said softly. Rising to his feet he walked towards her, but she stepped quickly aside to let him pass., following him slowly as he returned to his own rooms. Waiting until she had gone, Archimedes slipped out into the corridor and ran to his Mother’s apartments, pushing open the door to peek inside.
Cheris was alone and she smiled as he entered, opening her arms to embrace him. He ran forward and embraced her, pushing his face against the soft flesh of her bosom. There was never anyone, he knew, so beautiful as his Mother, he clung to her fiercely.
“You are very hot,” said Cheris, pushing back his golden hair and stroking his brow. Filling a cup with cool water she passed it to him, watching as he drank greedily.
“Did your lessons go well today?” she asked.
“There were no lessons Mother, Stagra is ill. If I had a pony, would it die?”
He saw the pain on her face as pulling him to her she patted his back. “You are not cursed Archimedes. You have great gifts, one day you will be a great man!”
“But would the pony die?”
“I think that it might,” she admitted. “But when you are older you will know how to control the power. Be patient.”
“I don’t want to kill anything! Yesterday I made a bird fly to my hand. It sat for a long time before flying way! It didn’t die! Truly!”
“When your Father returns we will all go to the sea, and sail on boats. You will like that! The breeze is cool and we will swim.”
“Is he coming back?” Archimedes asked. “Some people say he will die against Onomarchus. They say his luck is finished and the God’s have deserted him.”
“Hush!” she whispered. “It is not wise to voice such thoughts. Your Father is a great warrior. And he has Uric.”
“Onomarchus beat him before, two years ago,” said the boy. “Two thousand dead soldiers. And now Onomarchus raid our coastline, others are turning against us!”
She nodded and signed. “You hear too much Archimedes.”
“I don’t want him to die…….even though his doesn’t like me.”
“You must not say that! Ever!” she cried, seizing his shoulders and shaking him hard. “Never! He loves you! You are his son. His heir!”
“You are hurting me,” he whispered, tears in his eyes.
“I am sorry,” she told him, drawing him into her arms. “There is so much I wish I could tell you; explain to you. But you are very young.”
“I would understand,” he assured her.
“I know, that is why I cannot tell you.”
For a while they sat in silence, Archimedes warm and sleep in his Mother’s arms. “I can see them now,” he said dreamily. “There is a plain covered with flowers of purple and yellow. And there is Father in his golden armour. He is standing buy the grey gelding Achea. And there is the enemy . Oh, Mother, there are thousands of them. I can see their shields. Look! It is not only Onomarchus, there are others , they have followed his call, I don’t know all of them, so many! How can Father beat them all?”
“I don’t know,” whispered Cheris. “What is happening now?”
“The battle begins,” answered the child.
 

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