Concerning a troop of Spartans hired out as mercenaries centuries before the Spartans were immortalised at Thermopylae
‘Tell us a story,’ the shout went up, ‘something simple and bold. Tell us a story that never grows old. Tell it like it is; tell us about the fields of stone.’
They gathered in an open field. They stripped and cleansed their bodies of dust and sweat, dirt and grime. And when they were done they combed out the knots and tangles in each others’ hair, affixing small, silver bells, trinkets and coloured ribbons as each braided the streaming mane of his companion. Standing easy in the sun they anointed their bodies with Attar of Roses. They laughed and swapped jokes and some of them sang of home of friends and lovers to the rasping sound of stone honing metal. ‘Time,’ a red cloaked officer mildly commanded. Standing naked and loose the companies hummed, the sound sonorous and sweet as it strayed on the air the battle hum of bees stirring. The battle hum grew louder as they donned their armour, curved and polished sculpted in bronze. Greaves and breastplates hollow eyed helms, shield and spear and short killing sword.
They lean on their spears chatting amiably as the enemy draws near: Seeming not to notice the rising dust, the ominous tread drawing closer with every breath. The sun glows white in the hot, blue sky, the air is hushed and still. The measured tread; the sound of harsh, foreign voices cuts like a knife, the polished bronze warriors yet stand unperturbed: And then on the bark of a single command, the companions fall silent and smoothly gather in serried ranks.
They are outnumbered many times over but as the red plumed officer remarks with a sigh, ‘So – what else is new.’ They meet the enemy and carry the day and add another chapter to the living legend they have become. And in the ruddy glow of the dying sun they strip and cleanse their bodies, they comb their hair and hum to the sound of stone honing metal. And in the cool, pallid light of the moon they hum as they bury their dead companions with tender care and love in a foreign field of stones.