Herald of SteelChapter 31 God’s Favoured?
After leaving the medical camp, Alexander quickly made his way to the front of the camp, where the soldiers were ordered to meet and get into formation.
But as he approached the clearing, a different sight greeted him.
Instead of the neat rows of orderly soldiers he was expecting to see, he was surprised to see the soldiers had divided themselves into two different crowds, the much larger one headed by Menes and Theocles and the other much smaller one headed by Nestoras and Xanthine.
The four men appeared to be in a standoff, each glaring at the other menacingly with a divide between them that seemed like the red sea had just parted them.
Off to the side, Aristotle and Pallidus seemed to be trying to say something to Nestoras and the man was furiously shaking his head as if to reject it.
As Alexander approached closer to the clearing, he could hear a cacophony of shouts, swears and curses flying around with the two loudest voices being Nestoras and surprisingly Theocles.
He even picked up words like treason, betrayal, dog, rumor and surprisingly his own name. 𝗳re𝐞𝓌e𝚋n૦ѵ𝗲l. co𝐦
It was pretty easy to infer what these men were at their throats for.
The imminent attack.
"You,.. you cursed slave!" Nestoras was the first to notice Alexander's shadow, and he roared, incensed at the sight of him.
After all, in his mind, this scoundrel was the mastermind of this entire shit show.
"*Clang*, I am gonna kill you right here and now." Then in his rage, Nestoras suddenly unsheathed his sword and attempted to approach Alexander, deciding to get rid of the troublemaker once and for all, regardless of any kind of backlash.
"*Clang*, just try!" Roaring Menes too drew his sword and stepped in front of Nestoras, pointing his meter-long bastard sword at his leader's cheat.
" You, damn n****! How dare you point a sword at your leader?" Nestoras cursed using the worst possible slang.
The red-eyed bull apparently forgot the warning he himself had given to Pallidus about using that word just a while ago.
"He is not yours to kill." The giant replied in a calm tone, not moving an inch and seemingly unperturbed by the gross derogatory remark.
"I am his master and he is my slave. I can kill him whenever and however I like." Nestoras screamed.
"We are at war! He is a squad captain now. You can't kill a squad captain whenever and however you like," Menes reminded in a hard tone.
Then he issued a naked threat, "Now back off or I will end you."
His jet eyes seemed to light up with a fiery glow as he gazed into Nestoras's eyes with steely determination and the leader understood the giant wasn't bluffing.
He really would attack him if he tried to move forward.
And given Menes's skill, he was willing to bet his own money that even if both he and Xanthine were to join forces, Menes would likely cut both of them off.
After all, Menes was unanimously considered the best warrior within the mercenary group, a group full of people whose job was to be a warrior.
The only one who might have a chance against Menes would be Cambyses, who might be able to use her light footwork to dodge and parry his attacks and slowly tire the giant down and then use her agile speed to flank and penetrate the slower, heavier man's defenses.
Note the use of the word 'might' because that scenario would still rely on Menes making mistakes and even then the encounter would likely be in his favor.
Hence, understanding his chances and seeing no one step up to help him, Nestoras wisely decided to back down, and sulkily returned to the head of the crowd.
And this little display of force had an unintended devastating effect on the people following him, as many began to waiver and doubt if they chose the right side.
Alexander saw and heard all of this as he approached the crowd and as he got closer, Menes strode over to him in large steps and gave him a giant hug.
"It's great you are here, boy. I was just about to send Remus to find you." He said, patting Alexander's shoulder enthusiastically.
"What's happening here?" Alexander asked.
He expected the soldiers to be ready to march and his original plan was to make a big speech in front of them to try and convince them to stay.
But now it seemed that someone had done the job for him.
But before Menes could explain, a known yet kind of strange voice greeted him from the front, "It's good to see here." Said Theocles mellifluously.
Alexander craned his neck to see the man and was surprised to see he was standing- on Menes's side and even more surprised to hear the man speak so politely to him.
Because, due to his frequent clashes with Cambyses, if Alexander were to choose if his relationship was good or bad with Theocles, he would have to choose- bad.
So why was he on this side and why was he being so polite?
Seeming to sense Alexander's apparent confusion, Theocles said in a sweet tone, "I met Cambyses a while ago and gave her everything you wanted."
He said this in order to demonstrate his support for Alexander.
Alexander, though not quite understanding what was going on, seemed to get the hint and replied in kind. "Thank you. It will help the wounded very much."
"Theocles here has been amazing." Menes started. "He made a huge speech in front of the soldier, claiming that you Alexander had gotten divine revelation. He said you started the rumor to stop the attack because the gods told you they were displeased. He was even the first captain to state he would not lead his phalanx to battle." Menes finished his long recount.
And then he asked the million-dollar question everybody here was waiting for, "So is what he said true?"
Alexander was internally incensed that Theocles revealed he was the one who started the rumor.
But it seemed Theocles had said it to help him stop the deployment.
Hence, he was still unsure of Theocles's motives, whether he was pulling him up into the sky or pushing him into a pit.
And he considered claiming divinity here and now.
It had its advantages- like instantly gaining effective control over the mercenary group and massing a large blind following.
But there were massive drawbacks too.
They were trapped in a foreign land and no one could tell what was going to happen in the future.
If he claimed divinity now, everyone would defer to his judgment unconditionally over every issue. And not just in this one camp but all over the various camps.
It will be alright if his decisions are correct but what happens if he makes a mistake?
After all, he could never claim to be right all the time.
Will the people label him as a fraud and lynch him?
There certainly was such a possibility.
It was a double-edged sword.
Hence, after considering it for a bit, he decided not to accept the moniker of "God's Favoured.".
But he did not want to unequivocal reject it either. Because the perks were just too lucrative.
Hence he decided to take a book out of the fortune tellers and soothsayers from his previous life and decided to be vague and answer in general.
"Well, what's taking so long?" Nestoras impatiently shouted, seeing Alexander be silent.
This bought Alexander's attention back and after getting a bit of time to organize his thoughts, Alexander answered, "The god of lightning- Ramuh has struck us twice, destroying our cavalry and killing our General. "
Here he made a bold leap and claimed Agapios was dead.
Because although there was strong circumstantial evidence to support his conjecture, he still wasn't hundred percent sure.
"Yes, I am afraid our general is dead. That's why none of us have seen him and commander Samaras has hidden this news from us."
"Samaras is a cheat."
Hearing this, some of the hot-headed men started cursing Samaras, the same men who were seemingly ready to march under Samaras's command.
Seeing their behavior, Alexander was once again reassured that he did the right by not accepting the claim to divinity.
"Brothers please." Alexander raised his hands and signaled to the agitated crowd to calm down.
"By striking at us twice, Ramuh has told us to leave Adhania. You all know I have been always deferential to the gods. That's why I believe we shouldn't attack."
"Yes, yes, the gods must be respected."
Thunderous applause and cheers of approval echoed through the crowd.
Alexander could even hear some utter, "Son of Gaia."
Alexander again gestured to the crowd to calm down and said, "Please, I am not finished.
Then he continued, "But that is not why I started the rumor. The reason why I started it was because I looked around to see my wounded brothers, my exhausted brothers, I saw their suffering and I saw how tired they were and I was convinced they needed rest. We need to rest. We need to eat. We need to sleep." His octaves kept increasing rising with each sentence and by the last one, it reached a crescendo, climaxing in a huge roar.
"Yes, yes, you're right."
A second, ear-deafening cheer rocked the camp.
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