The Owl and The Eagle: Salamis by Meghan Sullivan

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SUMMARY: The following is an excerpt from a fantistorical I'm writing entitled the Owl and The Eagle, based on the Persian War. Please feel free to send comments and questions. Enjoy.

The goats were grazing nearby, the stink of their matted coats overpowering. They used their teeth to pluck blades of grass from the earth with a soft tearing sound, sleepy-eyed and oblivious to the chaos around them. <i> If only people were content like this, thought Themistocles. But then, if people were immune to chaos, I'd be out of a job. </i> Luckily people were not imune to chaos; that evening it reigned on the island of Salamis with an iron fist. Everywhere people were running around in a panic, the sight of the massing land and sea forces across the straights whipping them into a frenzy. Refugees from Athens pushed and shoved their way towards the pine-covered hills, their meager possessions clutched tight to their chests, their tattered robed children and emaciated cattle racing to keep up with them. The adult's eyes were hallowed when they turned towards the east, where their homes being consumed by the black smoke and red flames of arson. Themistocles knew that he was the target of their hatred as much as the Persians massing across the straights; it had been his idea to evacuate the tiny city-state and retreat west to the island of Salamis. <i> Ungrateful swines, he thought. I saved your lives. </i>

Themistocles ambled towards naval headquarters, situated just above a tiny bluff that ran along the windy seashore. Salamis was a rocky island just off the coast of Attica, shaped like a transversed omega and full of quarries, pine trees, and fishermen coves. And goats. As he walked he ignored the calls of sailors he knew and passed the day runners who darted in and out of the crowd at full speed, their bare legs and sandled feet scraped and bloody from falls in their hast to deliever news of the gathering enemy. Themistocles own servant Sicinnus followed at his heels, bearing his armor and half a dozen sheep skin maps. The humble stone houses and huts they passed by were not to Themistocles' taste, and the scraggily looking urchins that lived there less so. He was sour about Athen's burning, which probably included his luxerious estate just outside the city, with its olive groves, grapevines and elaborate topiary garden dipicting the battle of Marathon. He had evacuated the city no just to save the people but to save the city. <i> Why bother burning a deserted city? </i> He would rebuild it all though. Perhaps a palace in the center of the city, twice as big as the Acropolis and three times as luxerious. The war council that night was being held in the house of Salamis' governor, a cozy but clean limestone buliding full of fishing nets and ocean gear that had been tossed out to make space for the 31 council members of the Hellenic League's Naval Command. The governor, a monkey-like creature with a flat furry face was at first outraged, cursing them for pirates and villeins. Only when he learned the top naval commander was a Spartan (a laconic quip was what tipped him off) did he agree and even insist they all stay in his humble abode. He served on them himself, practically fawning all over that idiot Eurybiades, even after the Spartan had smacked him with a walking cane for being too slow evicting himself from the premisis.

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