The Legend of Soterio
"I can't stand to fly, I'm not that naïve
I'm just out to find the better part of me"
-Five for Fighting
Soterio was no ordinary Greek man, with the strength to knock down several men at once and the endurance to travel many miles without stopping for rest he had already beat all the young men in his village at sword fighting. His eyes had the ability to locate the weakest point on each of his targets, making him the village envy of hunting. He was a god when it came to battle. Soterio knew how to fight, how to block moves as if it were instinct, and had the intelligence to form cunning strategies in his head. With his talent and noble blood, Soterio could have easily become king. At least, that is what his father told him before the terrible accident.
On his fifteenth birthday, Soterio and his cousin Achilles explored the hilltops of Greece, a place that was forbidden to them before that day. They traveled beyond their small village's borders and explored a hidden cave near a cliff. When the sky started to darken, they began on their journey home. Since it was so dark, Soterio stumbled and slipped, not realizing he was close to the ledge. Crying out, he fell down into the rocks below. Even though Achilles ran back to the village to get help, but it wasn't until the next morning that they found him and by then, it was too late and his deformities from the fall were beyond healing, no matter how many different remedies they tried. He had lost his arm as well as half of his face from the fall, causing blindness in one eye. From that point on, Soterio became a shadow in his village as well as his home for there was nothing else he could do. The villagers would gawk at him when he went into the market or any place crowded; his mother could not bear to see him, without bursting into tears. His father who was angry at what happened never spoke to him again. Soterio was not welcome in his home anymore.
The only person who accepted Soterio and did not flinch at the sight of his deformities was his cousin Achilles. They remained close as they grew older, spending all their time together. Soterio began training Achilles in fighting and combat, hoping that his own talent could eventually be shown through his cousin. They spent months practicing together, perfecting the usage of every weapon known to the Greeks. Any free time that was leftover was used to explain war tactics. Soterio helped Achilles understand the basics, promising to be by his side if they became soldiers. By the time they were eighteen Achilles was sought after by every army in Greece. He would accept as long as they allowed Soterio to join as well. With the help and guidance of Soterio, Achilles led many armies to victory. Little did anyone know that the man who stood next to him held even greater talent than the legendary Achilles. Little did they realize, all of Greece was about to change from a single war.
The Spartans were angry. It amused Soterio to see such a noble city fight for what seemed like a worthless cause. They were known for being the best at battle, but now it seemed that this was going to be their downfall. Already they have begged Achilles to come and aid them in the battle against Troy. To fight for a woman seemed like a silly cause, and Soterio knew his cousin opposed of it. Even so, Achilles agreed to come. They both knew that even if the reason for this war was imprudent, it was going to be a war that people would never forget. It was to become a legend, and he wanted to be a part of it.
It was Sparta's intention to surprise the Trojans with the legendary hero, Achilles. During their meeting with the king, Soterio had Achilles explain a strategy that would hopefully be successful in conquering Troy and winning back queen Helen of Sparta. They were to give a wooden horse as a peace offering, in hopes that the city of Troy would foolishly take it. The following night, men hidden in the horse would leave and let in the other armies. By that point, Troy would have no choice but to surrender. The Spartan king loved the plan, praising Achilles continuously for such intelligence. Under his orders, they were to be on the last boat that would reach Troy. By then, most of the battles were hoped to be completed. Achilles would there for the final battle to take down Troy, and be a part of Sparta's victory. By morning, they would reach the Trojan shores and be ready to make way for battle.
Sighing to himself, Soterio knew he had a long day ahead of him. As they approached the shore of Troy, he saw countless bodies laying there from the previous day's battle. Disgusted, he turned his head the other way. His cousin, Achilles, stood next to him, grinning.
"Well my cousin, this is the start of a new day," Achilles stated happily, "This will be the day our name will be etched into the minds of everyone in Greece."
Glancing sharply at his cousin, Soterio responded curtly, "No Achilles. They will not be remembering both of us, just you. No one will want to remember me with my distorted face and one arm. They will just think I am some sort of freak."
Achilles just shook his head, "Someday you will have to learn to be the center, to be the one in control. What if something happens to me? You will not be able to continue in the army, and you most certainly would not be allowed to command. You are better off with starting small with commands and working your way up while you still have the chance."
Sighing, Soterio gave one last look of sorrow before he headed off the boat. "No, I cannot. I was and will never be ready to command an army. No one will bother listening to me, or even respect me. The little amount of respect I do get is only because of my association with you". He parted quickly from his cousin, not eager to be around him any more.
After leaving the boat and allowing the other men to setup the weapons and prepare the Trojan horse, Soterio found a tent to lounge around in. The warmth of the sun radiated into the tent, allowing him to doze off. By the time he awoke, it was nightfall. No one bothered to locate him, since no one really cared. Leaving the tent, he noticed the Trojan horse was gone.
"It's most likely already inside the cities grounds," Soterio muttered to himself, annoyed that he wasn't informed. After getting on his armor and grabbing his sword, Soterio headed off in the direction of the paths of footprints. By the time he got close enough to see what was going on, he was appalled. He realized that the plan was becoming a lot messier than it should have been, meaning someone most likely messed up. Standing from a distance, he observed the battle, pleased that his plan at least worked. The Spartans were now in Troy.
Suddenly a young boy came running towards Soterio, jarring him from his thoughts. Panting the boy stopped in front of him, the mix of blood and sweat dripping from his face.
"Sir, your cousin is in mortal peril. He has requested for your presence, before he passes on to the other realm." Shocked, Soterio attempted to start asking questions, but was cut off by the boy, "- Quickly, sir! The Trojans will find his body soon and they will certainly burn it!"
Both of them rushed to where Achilles lay. When Soterio saw his cousin, it was all he could do to kneel down in front of him. He tried the arrows out of Achilles body, but it was too late. There was too much blood for Achilles to remain alive.
Gasping for breath, Achilles called out to his cousin, "Dear, friend! This was not meant to happen. I thought you taught me everything you knew".
Sobbing, Soterio hugged his cousin, "I'm sorry Achilles! I wish I had spent more time training you in defense. You should not have had a weak spot. I have failed you, dear cousin".
Achilles struggled to get his final words out, "Soterio, there is still time. These people will be lost without me as their leader, you know that. If they are to win, they need someone to be in charge. Be that man, Soterio. Let them know who you really are, and what you are capable of". By then, Achilles breathing had become ragged. He slowly drifted in and out of consciousness. After a few moments of grieving, Soterio pulled himself together and stood up. He would honor his cousin's last wish, to try to lead the Spartan's to victory.
Looking around him, Soterio glanced at the hundreds of lifeless bodies lying on the ground. He saw many more fighting around him, all trying to survive. Angrily, Soterio called out to his people a secret plan that only the Spartans knew about. "Spartans! Do not be afraid! I am Achilles cousin, and although my deformities may scare you, I will help you through this battle. After this is achieved, it is up to you men to decide if you want me as your future commander."
Many came closer to him, still fighting the Trojans, but interested in what he had to say. Quickly Soterio shouted out random codes and terms that were used by the Spartans in war. In a little over an hour, he was able to turn the battle around and give the Spartans instant victory.
Shortly after, all of Troy surrendered. Their goal had been completed and Achilles last dying wish had been granted. Surprisingly, the Spartans requested for Soterio to remain their commander and guide them in future battles. He gladly accepted, and after many more months in his new position, the people of Sparta began to respect him and become friendly with him. Soterio's whole life changed in a matter of weeks. Although he was never mentioned in the legend of the Trojan War, Soterio did not care. He got something even better: acceptance.