seaborne breeze wafts in from the open balcony, carrying the smell of Citrus and the springtime harvest. Gulls caw from overhead as Androcles awakens within his lavish chambers. His head groggy, he stirs in his fine silken sheets and rolls to the side, gazing past the white stone columns of his balcony. His arm falls to the side of his bed and brushes against two empty wine bottles, remnants of the nights debauchery. The pounding in his 16 year old head fades and he notices another more real pounding, that of his fathers fists upon the door. “Wake up you drunken swine!” His father roars from beyond the chamber. “It is nearly mid-day and you are supposed to be selling my wine at the festival!” Androcles lets out a deep sigh, trying to remember his forays the night before. Rolling off his back his feet find purchase on the cold marble floor and he stretches his back leisurely, his golden hair falling past his shoulders. His fathers wine was legendary in the city of Lindos, the largest settlement on the island of Rhodes.
It had made his family rich and influential beyond measure. Their ships sold wine throughout all of the Aegean, reaching as far as Athens and Corinth in mainland Greece to the west, and the sandy cities of Egypt to the south. This festival would wait as long as he made them for the sweet taste of their families prized nectar, who were they to rush the glorious son of Lindos from his sleep? Then again, if it was truly mid-day then that meant the Spartan officers visiting the island would have the men drilling in the fields, training to face the growing pirate forces in the region. Watching these peerless warriors train was one of the few humbling experiences the boy had ever witnessed, and the Spartans looked down upon those who over-slept… he wouldn’t want to be shamed in their eyes.
Standing at last, he makes his way to the heavy oak door, snatching his robe off the floor and downing the half full glass of wine still sitting on his bed table. Today, he would talk to the captain of the city guard about joining in the naval campaigns next year. There was only so much glory that could be found in the bottom of a wine bottle or the inside of a maidens skirt, and Androcles would have much more than that before his life was done, of that he was certain. His ascent to the deeds of peerless Achilles and Olympus itself would begin today…
Opening the doors, his father was red with anger and clearly had no patience for his antics today. “Get your ass to the carriage and don’t you dare embarrass me today, this city is not your playground Androcles and you are going to have to learn that one day” he roars as he storms down the stairs, nodding in resignation to end the lecture. Heading downstairs he is greeted by one of his personal servants, Domesticles the porter. The elderly man exchanges his usual banter and ushers his master to the baths to get washed before leaving for town. Donning his freshly shined armor and weaponry, Androcles joins with the carriage party and begins the ride to town with the festivities wine. Making their way through the countryside, Androcles is captivated by the shield drills well underway in the fields. He longed for glory, but the life of a common infantrymen just didn’t seem like the best way to get it. Lindos was a powerful trade city, but certainly not a military force in the Aegean. Now that their allies from Sparta had come to train their new army the three cities of Rhodes were looking to change that.
In all of Greece, the Aegean and Asia Minor there are two original people that the current inhabitants descend from; the Ionians who were the original settlers and the Dorians who invaded from lands to the north. While now all Greeks speak the same language, there are some words unique to those deriving from each branch as well as distinct accents that make Ionian and Doric Greeks easily recognizable. The people of Rhodes descend from Doric Greeks. The Spartans, who also descend from the Dorians, were quick to send aid and add a naval power to their alliance being the Sparta is entirely a land power, and the most feared one at that. What Androcles wouldn’t give to wear their scarlet cloak. No, the Spartans may be the best soldiers in the world, but he would be more than a soldier.
The slave drivers bring the convoy before the city gates and the guard captain greets Androcles. As a close family friend, the city guard turns a blind eye to nearly all of the boys shenanigans. Androcles passes him a cask a the famous wine. The captain tells Androcles he can get him on a ship tonight if he wants to join the naval campaign, but before he decides he should speak with the captains friend Diogenes who is visiting for the festival. A Spartan peer, Diogenes is also one of the founding members of the Companions, a group of monster slayers from the mainland who are here recruiting. Androcles agrees to meet the man in the agora and commands the drivers to move along.
Arriving at the city center, Androcles meets up with his old friend Willow, a famous bard from Corinth who travels the Aegean hopping from festival to festival. Willow beams with joy at seeing his young friend, and is clearly already enjoying the entertainment. His white shirt is splashed with wine and his peacock feathered hat sits crooked upon his head, augmented by the strap-on satyr horns he has protruding from beneath.
After exchanges slurred pleasantries, the captain of the guard returns with Diogenes and introduces the companion to Androcles. Diogenes informs him that he wishes to discuss the possibility of Androcles joining the companions when he sales back for the mainland, and Willow suggests they all meet up at the Harpies Cunt, a traveling brothel that will be set up near the warf, at sundown when the festivities die down. Willow was able to get them in after hours and they will have the whole place to themselves. Diogenes informs him that while normally Spartans would not be pleased meeting in such a place, he has been away from Sparta for a long time and has developed a few philosophical differences with his kin. He agrees to meet them at sundown.
The celebrating goes on throughout the day and the whole city is in an uproar. The freshly built navy is paraded through the harbor and the troops march through the city, bronze armor gleaming, as they prepare to set sail. The army will join up with ships from the other Rhodian cities before embarking to launch an offensive against the 5 largest pirate hold-outs in the region as a display of force. While watching the ships sail off against the setting sun, Androcles overhears an old man remarking how foolish it is for the city to send off all their fighting men and let the whole Aegean know about it, the city is entirely defenseless. A guard quickly retorts that there was nothing to be worried about, a Spartan garrison of some 30 peers and 200 perioikoi, free men living in the region controlled by Sparta, would be arriving by morning to reinforce the city while the troops were away. Androcles, already fairly drunk and not thinking much of the concerns, makes his way to the wharf to meet with Willow and Diogenes.