The Distant Shore

Ancient Greece stands on the verge of defeat at the hands of the Persian Empire. Written for the historical fiction contest.

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1. Prologue

It had started with a revolt, a mutiny an ocean away, and it should have stopped with that.

I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, we should not have been involved. What was our benefit, our use to their cause? What we did may have been noble, but it was also rash.

The Ionian revolt had been for freedom, to free themselves of the Persian tyranny. It had been fought in the blessed name of democracy; I suppose, in that sense, we were responsible. 

When the pleas for help reached us, how could we refuse? They wanted to establish a democracy, to establish our ideal. That was enough for us. So Athenian ships were sent off to the Ionian coast, that distant shore that we were fighting for. Perhaps, we thought, the Persian tyranny would come to an end.

But it didn't. Of course it didn't. We were fighting an empire of unimaginable scale. Within five years, the revolt was over, and the unblinking gaze of Persia slowly turned to Athens.

It's taken a decade for the King of Kings to exact his vengeance; his preparations were not swift, but they were absolute. By the end, no slave, no subject, no noblemen had been missed, none exempt from their military duty. Rivers run dry in the armies wake, whole cities devoted to the campaign. An entire empire, an entire continent, gearing for war against us.

It started with a revolt, a cry for help, an envoy of ships. Only the gods can see how it will end, but however it does end, it won't be easy.

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