Smoke was covering the sky above the Temple of Delphi. Last night, the Macedonian forces started plenty of the fires to keep the people and priesthood of Delphi awake. In the meanwhile, the Macedonian troops got all the sleep they needed, while the enemies at Delphi struggled to put out the fire. Once the sun appeared in the sky, Antipater ordered his troop to deploy on the battlefield. Surely, his forces were not that great, in comparison with the full-scale army that Alexander possessed, but these men were enough to destroy this cult at Delphi once and for all.
Antipater checked his sword and sighed. He was reaching the seventh decade of his life. He served faithfully under king Phillip and his son. When Alexander appointed him as regent to his throne in Pella, Antipater believed that his fighting days were over. But that was far from the truth. He fought the Athenian Rebels, the Spartans Separatists, the Illyrians and so many others. He hoped that this battle would be his last.
The old general mounted up and inspected his troops. One thousand Thessalian horsemen answered his call, two thousand mercenary Cretan archers, while he himself brought two thousand allied militia (from Athens, Plateau and Corinth) and of course a part of the famous Macedonian phalanx, around two and a half thousand men. His men surrounded the whole northern horizon. Combined with the thick smoke that smothered the village, Antipater’s army was seemed like it was emerging from the barracks of the God of War, Ares.
The man standing ahead of the Macedonian Phalanx, was a man called Cassander, son of general Antipater. He was certainly a noble. One could tell from his well-trimmed beard or the way he had his hair cut. As was the way of his good friend, King Alexander – with whom they studied together under Aristotle, the philosopher – last night, he had his servant polish his armor, to stand out from the rest of the soldiers, in order to inspire them as he led them to battle. What he would give to be once again at the side of his King and his friends! While Hephaestion, Peucestas and Ptolemy were slaying foes at the depths of the Eastern Empires, he was putting out rebellions in the mainland of Greece.
“Damn them all!” he murmured under his breath and unsheathed his sword.
He looked at his father, who nodded at him.
“Men!” shouted Cassander. “You know that I am a man of action and not speeches. Let’s end those who dared to question our authority! We must destroy the murderers of King Phillip! The people that went against our beloved emperor Alexander but failed to end him! Now we make them pay! Men! Attack!”
Once he gave the signal the horsemen attacked with haste, while the archers started to soften the defenders with volleys of arrows. It was difficult to find targets, because they were fighting in a small town, with plenty of cover. But they managed to find some of them, who fell dead or got injured. The Phalanx advanced slowly, while the allied shield bearers entered the village in formation.
The defenders didn’t have the numbers to face the Macedonians. They had only around a hundred priests, who could use some elemental powers to defend themselves, three hundred rangers and five hundred warriors. The problem was that half of the warriors were helping with the evacuation of the pilgrims, who were trapped inside Delphi. The priests used their Earth Elemental powers to raise barricades at the roads. The Rangers, taking cover behind them, were shooting the oncoming horses and hoplites. They were doing a good work killing the incoming Macedonian forces, but the well-equipped horsemen, managed to overrun their positions. In an hour, thirteen priests had been killed while thirty-two rangers were lying dead from Cretan arrows or Thessalian spears. The Warriors were standing in reserve, still in full numbers.
Suddenly, three giant shadows appeared in the sky. Both the Macedonians and the defenders of Delphi stopped the fighting. There were three magnificent Pegasi, flying in the sky, carrying six people. The two landed in the village while the other on a hill, near the place the Cretan archers were placed. Up in the hill, appeared Achilles and Nikolaus, dismounting.
“Men of Macedon, Delphi and the rest of Greece!” Achilles began addressing them. “I am coming to you bringing news of peace! I have with me orders from your King Alexander, to stop this conflict immediately!”
He held beyond his head a letter from Alexander, bearing his sigil.
“I realize that it may not be convincing to many of you, that’s why I propose a talk with your commanders, to discuss…”
“There is nothing to discuss!” screamed Cassander. “We have direct orders to destroy you!”
Antipater rode to the side of his son.
“Son, wait! What if Alexander himself indeed ordered this?” he asked.
Cassander looked at his father with rage in his eyes.
“I don’t give a damn if this is true! We end this. Here and now!” and he raised his hand giving the order to the archers to shoot.
A volley covered the sun above Achilles and Nikolaus. They both raised Elemental shields above their heads, but one of the arrows managed to hit Achilles on his right shoulder. He grunted in pain. A black aura engulfed him. He absorbed the flaming wall that Nikolaus created and combined it with his one. A beam of purple light came out of his hands and hit the Cretan archers head on. Arms, heads, and feet covered the valley, painting it red from the blood of chopped soldiers.
“I softened them up for you” he said to Nikolaus, with the aura still engulfing him. “I will go and stop the phalanx.”
Upon saying that he floated above the ground and headed for the village. Nikolaus looked upon the archers and smiled deviously. Fire sparkled from his hands as he made his way towards the Cretan archers. Soon after, there were only ashes and burned flesh, as the archers retreated.
The rest of the squad managed to stop the Macedonian onslaught. Dienekes and Aristedes stopped the Thessalians, while Anthea and Thalestres, with the help of the Rangers had the allied hoplites on the run. Meanwhile, Achilles, with the help of some of the Warriors, was handling well the Macedonian Phalanx, who had turned on the defensive. Cassander was looking desperately, as his decision completely backfired on him. He had to take matters into his own hands.
Fight with Cassander
“I challenge you!” shouted Cassander, trying to overcome the sounds of battle. “Fight me and let’s end this bloodshed!”
Achilles’ eyes took once again the dark purple color, a sign of his enragement.
“You ignored me the first time!” replied Achilles. “You decided that the death of my family is more important than peace. I gave you Alexander’s unequivocal statement and you spat on me! And now you wish to resolve this, to avoid the blood of your men?”
Cassander felt the earth starting trembling underneath his feet. Anxious, he looked at Achilles. The son of Poseidon had started glowing gathering his elemental power, in order to unleash his attack.
“If you have honor, if you truly are a son of your father, you will leave these magic tricks and face me with a sword in your hand!” screamed Antigonus, panting, as the grasp of death was closing in on him.
But Achilles wasn’t willing to listen anymore.
“I already offered you mercy. I’m not the guy who asks a second time!”
A spear of water formed in his hand. With superhuman strength, Achilles threw it at Cassander. The charged spear ran through the air. Time slowed around Antigonus, as he realized that he was going to die.
“This is it” he said to himself.
A wave of calmness washed over him. He closed his eyes and waited for death. But death never came. Around him there was silence. Slowly he opened his eyes. In front of him, his father Antipater was standing with his round silver shield in front of him. But it did little to stop the demigod’s spear. It ran through the shield and the chest plate, piercing Antipater directly to the heart. His death was instant.
The Mighty Fall
Cassander was still hugging the cold body of his father. The fighting had stopped and now, both Macedonians and Delphians were surrounding the fallen general. The sun was up in the sky by now. The battle had lasted many hours and now it was over.
“It’s done…” whispered Cassander, with tears in his eyes.
The soldiers, who were his now to command, were standing there, confused about what to do now. It wouldn’t be possible to fight anymore. Achilles and his squad had managed to cripple his forces, dealing a huge blow with many casualties. He lost at least a thousand many, with countless wounded or crippled.
“We can’t fight anymore!” he shouted, with the body of his father still in his hands. “Fall back! We are leaving!”
Then, he gently got up and carried his father by himself to the camp. The Macedonian Armies never returned to Delphi.
After that, the squad, except for Achilles, remained there as heroes among the local populace. After many years, Nikolaus became the High Priest of the Temple. He ruled with wisdom and always had a good relationship with the God Apollo himself. Legend had it that the God of Light and Music, visited Nikolaus, to give him news of Achilles.
Dienekes and Aristedes, remained as trainers, preparing the new generation of the Warriors of Delphi. Anthea remained a follower of Artemis. Although Thalestres was offered a position there, she left to find Achilles, never to return.
Achilles, after the Battle of Delphi disappeared. Rumors had it that he was leaving in Olympus or in the depths of the sea, with his father. But in reality, none could know for certain. He remained hidden. Until the time arrived when the world would need him again.