This story was inspired by…
Deep in the heart of Phrygia on the Sangarios River sat the mighty city of Gordion. Gordion was the greatest city the world had ever known (according to the the great Bard Yelpio) and was known to be home to the most beautiful women, the most exquisite crafts and more importantly the largest pile of gold ever assembled. All of which was probably why it was currently encircled by ten thousand angry Cimmerian’s waving pointy things and demanding to be let in… again.
While outside the walls the massed forces of the Cimmerian’s formed up for another assault, breaching ladders and battering rams in hand, inside men wearing grim faces and studded leather looked on with sinking hearts. They might have had the finest blades, the tallest walls and the stoutest hearts but they were outnumbered ten to one and everyone knew if you threw enough shit some of it would eventually stick.
While the two opposing forces eyed each other like strange cats, hissing in the night, in the highest tower of Gordion the council tried to come up with a plan.
“Gordion has never been taken and it never will,” blustered the red-faced General Jaffir as he stalked up and down the room.
“They out number us ten to one,” replied High Steward Demir with a wave of a manicured hand. “In the end numbers will tell.”
“Nonsense! These walls have seen a hundred battles, they are too tall and too thick to breach.”
“Apparently, they aren’t the only ones to thick to breach. We must sue for peace.”
“Sue for peace? Sue for peace!?” bellowed the irate General sending spittle flying. “We are Phrygians! We have the largest empire in the world. We do not sue for peace, we find out enemies and crush them.”
“They’re charging again,” said Sanem from over by the window. The low buzz of voices rose and in the distance drums could be heard. Sanem watched in silence as the wave of men threw themselves against the wall. Ladders were raised and thrown down, arrows flew on both sides and everywhere she looked men fell. After several minutes of intense fighting a horn sounded and the wave of men retreated leaving the plain dotted with the dead and dying.
A ragged shout went up from the defenders but it felt hollow, more for show than any genuine joy. They had inflicted a heavy price on the attackers killing twenty men for every man they lost but the each man lost on their side felt like a mortal blow, the line stretching thinner and thinner while outside the walls the mass seemed undiminished.
“They are winning,” she said at length. “Slowly and with a huge cost but they are winning.”
“How can they be winning? We the best equipment, the best training, the best mercenaries.”
“We had the best mercenaries…”
“Those bastards! When I get my hands on that slimy…”
“They knew which way the wind was blowing as soon as they saw the Cimmerian army. They were out beyond the wall turning coat before they had even set up camp.”
“Well what would you suggest we do about it?” asked Demir looking down his nose at the Princess.
“The same thing I’ve been saying for the last hour…”
“You can’t honestly believe he would make a difference.”
“He is the King,” she replied spinning and fixing his with a glare. “Of course he will make a difference.”
“He never was much of a fighter and that was before the… incident. What good would he do now?” asked General Jaffir, dropping heavily into a wooden chair which groaned in protest.
“You know his powers, simply seeing him would be a lift to the people.”
“A lift?” scoffed Demir. “The man is a murderer.”
“It was an accident.”
“He singly-handedly ruined the economy.”
“He was trying to do the right thing.”
“It’s his fault we’re in this mess. He made the whole of Phrygia a target.”
“He’s a menace.”
“He’s our only hope!”
“Fine but when this back fires I expect you to do the right thing and end this madness before all we have left is castle full of bodies.”
The sun rose on Gordion the next morning to find the whole of the Phrygian army, minus a few sharp-eyed men who remained on the wall to warn of attack, arrayed in the main square facing the steps to the inner keep. They had been roused from their beds with no explanation and now huddled together shifting nervously and eyeing the heavy wooden doors with trepidation. There was a rumour that surrender was imminent and it was widely known that the Cimmerian’s did not treat their captives respectfully.
After several minutes of anxious waiting a bell tolled and the doors swung open. The chattering of the crowd vanished and silence hung over the gathered men. As the members of the Council stepped forward followed by a man with long brown hair, flowing golden robes and his hands held behind his back.
“Men of Phrygia,” said Princess Sanem stepping forwards. “We have suffered at the hands of the Cimmerian dogs and their traitorous allies for too long. Each and every one of us has seen a friend, a brother or a father fall in battle. Well no more! Now we strike back and end the war once and for all and to lead you in battle I present to you our fearless leader. The King of Phrygia the greatest city that ever was or will be. King Midas!”
The King stepped forward and waved.
The silence evaporated as everyone started talking at once.
“Just get him a horse and a sword before they all turn on us,” hissed Demir.
The general signalled and two grooms ran up one leading a stout white charger and the other holding an immaculately wrought broadsword. The King stepped forward and took the sword from the groom. As soon as he touched it bright yellow sprang from his hand and raced up the blade until, after only a few seconds, the shining steel had been transformed into solid gold. King Midas thumbed the edge with a frown.
“It’s a it dull Jaffir,” he said with a frown.
“Don’t worry sire it’s only ceremonial anyway your loyal subjects will protect you.”
King Midas pondered for a moment then shrugged and stepped towards the groom holding the horse. The man shied away backing up a step before the General halted him with a stern look.
“Keep your hands in the air sire, there’s a good King let the groom get you settled.” He waved to the groom and after a long pause his eyes darting left and right the groom eventually grabbed the King around the waist and, using a box for height, heaved the king into the saddle.
“Now try not to touch the horse father,” said Sanem stepping up to the King and resting a hand on his leg. “You know what happened last time.”
The King let out a long breath. “Are you sure this is a good idea darling? I mean I’ve not been in battle for thirty years and that as before all this.” he waved the useless golden sword.
“Don’t worry father just lead the men out, they will do the rest. Just steer with your legs and try not to touch anything that you like, including me. Are you ready?”
“As I’ll ever be…”
“Good luck father. I love you,” as she said those words she slapped the horses flank and it leapt forwards towards the gate.
“After me meeeeeeeeeen!” shouted the king and the soldiers in the square looked at each other for a moment before charging after the departing noble battle cries on their lips.
King Midas was on the first man before his army had made it halfway across the battle field. The Cimmerian was a brute of a man in thick plate mail wielding a giant war hammer. His first blow knocked the golden sword right out of the king’s hand and sent it skittering off across the battlefield followed by a handful of kicking a biting warriors. King Midas tried to turn his horse but before he could the great war hammer rose and fell. The king closed his eyes threw his hands in front of his face an waited for the end. After a few seconds when the end didn’t come he opened his eyes to see a golden statue of the Cimmerian in front of him.
As he stared in disbelief a second Cimmerian swung a sword at him. King Midas batted it aside and that man too turned to gold. A third stepped forward and King Midas grabbed him by the collar before he could attack and again the man was replaced by a gold statue. Seeing his power in person the remaining Cimmerians turned and ran. By the time the King’s army finally reached him the whole army was running for their lives.