Chapter 1 ~ TragedyOnce, in the time of the Greeks and Romans of old, there was a young woman named Kendra. Barely out of her teenage years, she still had the daring spirit of a teenager, yet the complexity and wit of a woman ten years her elder. She lived in a small cottage in the town of Thebes with her mother. It used to be a thriving city, but in of the war with the Romans, it was defeated and the leaders of Thebes were taken prisoner. After it was captured, the city fell into disrepair and many of the citizens became slaves in Rome. The townspeople left in town haven’t seen their leaders since, and one of them was Kendra’s father, Tyro.
One day, Kendra’s house burned down in a tragic fire. Her mother, Laura, was blamed, for that was the way of dealing with disasters in those days. The Roman officers in town said that they would be back soon to collect her for slavery, just like her husband was.
Soon after the soldiers left, Laura told her daughter, “You were too young to remember, but your uncle is the emperor of Sparta. He hasn’t seen you since you were a baby, so he probably won’t recognize you. Take this ring. My brother gave it to me when I left. He wanted me to come here so I could spy on the Romans. It is a dangerous job, but I grew to love it once I met Tyro. I wanted to introduce you to my brother myself, but I don’t think they will let me leave town. But you might be able to make it out.”
“N-no,” Kendra said in between sobs, her long blond hair crusted with tears, clinging to her face. “I-I can’t leave you behind. How will I ever find you again?”
“You will find me when the time is right. For now, you had better go equip yourself in the shed out back. You have a long journey ahead of you. Do you remember when you came of age and your father taught you how to use a sword? You will need to remember his teachings so you can stay alive. Be strong, you can do this.”
She wiped her eyes and somehow regained her composure.“How will I ever make it out of town?”
“I will help you to capture a single, Roman soldier. If you dress and act like a Roman soldier you may be able to get out.”
Once Kendra was ready, Laura announced that they were coming for her. The good thing was that only one soldier showed up to escort her to the slave trader’s ship.
“Are you the only one?” Laura asked, looking around to see if there was an ambush waiting in the trees surrounding her burnt home.
“Yes. The others are waiting for you up ahead. Come now, don’t cause any trouble and life will be easy for you.”
While her mother kept the soldier’s attention, Kendra snuck up behind him. She pointed her sword to his throat. Then Kendra whistled, causing the soldier to turn around.
“Make any attempt to cry for help and you will be dead before the sound leaves your lips. Now, drop your weapons and come quietly.”
With a practiced ease, the soldier made an attempt to knock Kendra’s sword out of her grasp so he could either escape or capture her as well. Even though it didn’t work, Kendra was thrown off balance and the soldier took advantage of that opportunity. He struck fast, aiming for Kendra’s sword arm. She dodged the brunt of the attack, although the blade nicked her arm, barely breaking the skin. Kendra retaliated the blow with a blow of her own. She thrust the blade extremely hard against her opponent’s sword. Unlike his attempt against her sword, her’s succeeded. The soldier’s sword went flying.
The now-frightened soldier stammered, “You fought well for a woman. I am outmatched. Whoever you are, please, spare me. I did you no harm.”
“That is where you are wrong. You have threatened my mother, therefore you have threatened me. Do as I say, and drop your weapons.”
“How do I know that you won’t kill me as soon as I have done so, whoever you are?” the soldier asked, his silver eyes staring into the depths of Kendra’s crystal blue ones, as if trying to determine whether to trust her or not.
“If I had wanted you dead, I would have killed you when you tried to disarm me a minute ago. Instead, I showed you the mercy you didn’t deserve and spared your miserable life. Do as I say, or I might just have to rethink that decision I made.”
“V-very well, I guess I have no choice,” the soldier said as he pulled various weapons from different places on his person.
“That's right, you don't have a choice. Oh, and my name is Kendra. Now, do you have any leg cuffs or shackles on you?” Kendra asked. “I will have to make sure you won’t try to escape at any given opportunity.
“Y-yes, I do have a set of leg cuffs and shackles. They are in case of emergency, but you may have them if you spare me, um... Kendra.”
“You are in no position to bargain. As you can see, you are at my mercy. Take out the leg cuffs, shackles, and keys.”
“But... alright. Here you go.”
“Thank you for surrendering,” replied Kendra as she clamped the shackles tightly around the soldier’s wrists and the leg cuffs tightly around the soldier's ankles, (the leg cuffs made it so the prisoner could walk, but not run or kick). “I am sorry for all the violence. It was necessary to insure your surrender. Rest assured, if you try to call out, I will guarantee that you will regret it.” Kendra and her mother, (with Kendra’s new prisoner in tow), then set off into the woods that surrounded their home. After walking for what seemed like an age, they finally arrived in a small clearing that held one large hundred-year-old tree and several smaller and considerably younger trees.
At this, Kendra’s gaze hardened and she replied strongly, ”Before I answer your question, I must confer with my mother to discuss what information I will tell you. Meanwhile, you will be tied to a tree here. Do not try to escape, if you do, you will regret it. Oh, and what are you called, soldier?”
There was a long silence before he answered. “Heru.”
“Well then, Heru, do you have any questions for me that I should ask my mother if I should tell you the answer to?”
“Just one. Other than the fact I threatened your mother, why do you want to have me as a prisoner?”
“I will discuss that with my mother as well,” Kendra replied. Then, she bound Heru to the hundred-year-old tree, and went to talk to Laura.
“Mother, should we tell him that we are Greek? I think he has a right to know the truth about us.”
“You may tell him whatever information you like, I don’t care.”
“Thank you. Will you come with me to see your brother?”
“Well, I guess it would be nice to see him again,” sighed Laura longingly. “It has been so long since I saw him last.”
Then, Kendra went back to Heru, and was happy to find him still tethered to the tree where she had left him. Kendra walked around the tree, still out of the prisoner’s view, and investigated the ropes that still bound him to the tree. They were still secure, but there was a sharp needle in Heru’s hands and the ropes were nearly severed. He had tried to escape, and, given more time, probably would have. Then, Kendra went around the tree to confront the prisoner about his escape attempt.
When she came into his view, there was a smirk on his face and he asked sarcastically, “Can you answer my questions now, or must you confer with your mother first?”
She answered, “I can tell you whatever information I like but there is another matter, however, that is more important. Tell me, why did you try to escape? You know the price you will have to pay.”
He hung his head in defeat. “I tried to escape because my men are counting on me to lead them. They are counting on me, and I can’t let them down.”
“I get it that you don’t want to fail your comrades, but you know that I will have to make sure you won’t get the opportunity to escape again. I am sorry for capturing you, but we have to get out of town and if we let you go free, you will convey what little information you have about us to the rest of the Roman army. We don’t have the time or resources to outrun them if they chase us. You will just have to come with us wherever we go.”
“How are you planning to escape?”
“I am not at liberty to discuss that at the moment. I have an idea, though. Does the army know about the ‘Special Way?’”
“What ‘Special Way?’” the prisoner asked, intrigued.
“Oh, good. You don’t know about it. Maybe there is hope after all. Mother! I have something to tell you!”
There was no sound coming from behind the tree. “Mother? Are you alright?” Kendra asked as she walked around the tree. What she found surprised her. There were two Roman soldiers holding her mother and a general lying wounded on the ground.
The one of the soldiers said, “Surrender, you are outnumbered.”
Kendra replied, “I will never surrender. Let my mother go, or feel my blade.”
Heru called, “Is everything alright over there? Its getting pretty uncomfortable tied to this tree.”
The soldiers were so shocked that they loosened their grip on Laura just long enough for her to break free. They didn’t even notice.
The second one called, “Is that you, Commander Heru? We were just looking for you.”
“Yes, it is me. If you would untie the ropes that bind me to this tree, I would be very thankful. You won’t be able to unbind the shackles, though. The one called Kendra has the keys.”
“Heru, are you telling me you have lied to me all this time? Mr. Commander, you are treading on fire at the moment, and soon you are going to get burned.” said Kendra. “I thought that you were just a regular soldier, because I thought you wouldn’t be stupid enough to lie to me. I guess I was wrong.”
“Yes, I am a commander. Sorry I didn’t tell you, but I didn’t want to tell you in case you would treat me differently. Please, cooperate with us. We won’t do anything to you.”
Kendra could tell in his eyes that he believed what he was saying was the truth, but there was no way she would give up her freedom for anyone, even if he was a commander. “If I believed that, I would believe anything. I will never cooperate, and I will tell you something: I will never stop fighting you. If it takes the rest of my life, I will fight for my family and what is right. Don’t try, you will never get me to come with you willingly. By the way, your soldiers made the wrong choice by letting my mother go free. Now, the odds are more even, and I have a better chance of defeating you.” At this, Laura grabbed her sword from the ground where it had fallen, and Kendra quickly followed suit. The tension of battle was in the air.