Thursday, June 16, 2016

Enemy of the Gods 1

297 AD:

Young Nicholas didn’t look like a legend. At 16, he had sprouted to nearly full height, yet at just under five feet tall with a spindly frame, he looked more like a stubborn olive sapling than a strong oak. His family had lived in the city of Patara his whole life, so he had seen little more than the green foothills of Asia Minor and the blue waters of the Mediterranean to the south. Hundreds of years ago, his ancestors, the Lycaonians, had fought for the Persians in their wars against Greece. Afterwards, they at times struck out on their own as an independent kingdom, and at times joined with the Greeks to the west. Alexander the Great at last swept them into the mainstream of Greek culture, and when the Greeks fell to Rome, Lycia became a province of the Roman Empire. Patara grew to be a prosperous port city, and his family prospered with it.

Nicholas stood stock still in the grass of his family estate, wearing the loincloth of a gymnast. His eyes were fixed on the wooden horse standing several paces away. He tried not to smile. He enjoyed gymnastics, but his tutor, the gray-headed Anicetus, took it a little too seriously for him. Anicetus called out, “Begin,” and he burst into motion. His bare feet sprung across the grass, straight for the wooden horse. At the last moment his hands shot out in front of him and latched hold of the wooden back, pushing him up over the top. His hands danced about, turning him round and round atop the horse. He caught himself smiling as he added a few turns of his own. Forcing a frown for his tutor, he sailed back toward the ground, landing straight with both feet in the grass. Then off he sprinted toward a rope hanging from a tree. Hand over hand, he pulled himself to the top. Along the way, he couldn’t help but slow to take in the view of the white stone streets and archways of Patara just down the way. He hoped Anicetus wouldn’t notice. Then hand by hand, he lowered himself to the ground and sprinted back.

Anicetus frowned and said, “If you were a soldier in battle, you would be dead.”

Nicholas merely replied, “Yes sir.” He wanted to tell him that he was not a soldier and never hoped to be—but saying that would have been disrespectful. Though Anicetus was a tutor, Nicholas owed him the same respect he gave his father.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice kick-off! I'm feelin' the hype.