Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and 300 belong to their respective creators, Joss Whedon and Frank Miller.
It was a hot, bright day when the Egyptian came.
He brought with him a man who spoke the Hellenic tongue, and through him he asked for the permission to sell a slave in Sparta.
They would have denied him, perhaps sent him away with a fine for wasting time with such idiocy, but for what sort of slave he said he had.
The Egyptian claimed to have caught one of the Antianeira.
Antianeira. Those Who Fight Like Men.
He was a mariner merchant, he said, hailing from Egyptian Thebes. He brought with him a contingent of guards, and they carried between them a covered litter, with walls of wood and a door in one side that was latched shut. A small opening had been cut into the door, but it was too small to let pass anything but air. They put this down in the middle of the square, where there was a wide open space.
There was also a boy. He was small, hardly more than a babe, and the Egyptian kept him close.
When they came into the square, almost the entire population of Sparta had gathered, citizens and slaves together. He was there as well, the captain of his personal bodyguards at his side. Most of the bodyguards themselves were there, as hot to see Androktones as anyone else. In the crowd, he caught sight of Gorgo, standing beside her husband.
The Egyptian stood to the side and put the boy in front of him. He had a dagger in his hand, and this he put at the boy's neck.
He had tried to sell the girl in every port he had been in, and failed. She was violent; she had broken the bones of anyone who tried to touch her. She did not understand the language; she could not be made to learn. Yet to kill her would be such a waste—she was so unique, so beautiful, so young, and he had put so much money into her. A woman warrior, one of the Antianeira, of whom no one had ever known anything but legends and stories, and what else could she be?. He had finally been told, by a Greek, that the only place that might have a buyer for a thing like her was Sparta.
Desperate, he had come.
The guards, tall Nubians armed with spears and shields, looked distinctly nervous. They looked at each other and at the locked door of the litter, and even, muttering together, seemed to be arguing who should go to open it.
Under the watching eyes of the Spartans, the Egyptian seemed no less nervous than his hired guards. He shouted at them in their own tongue, and then, with extreme reluctance, the door of the litter was unlatched and opened.
A small girl, dressed in a boy's chiton
, crawled out and stood up.
Her hair was tangled and unwashed, but under the dirt it shone more gold than gold. Her eyes, as they went straight to the merchant and the boy to whose neck he held his knife, were greener than the malachite the Egyptian wore on his eyes.
He felt the hand of the Archer on his shoulder, heard the whispering in his ear.
The girl turned, as if she had heard her name called, and looked at him.
He heard nothing. He felt nothing. He could only see her, and he knew that he had come out of the crowd and into the square, and that a silence had fallen over everything. All eyes were on him as he came to stand before her, towering over the girl.
He remembered what Apollo Loxias had shown him that night all those years ago, and what the Striker From Afar had told him as he lay, gasping for breath.
“I am Leonidas,” he said now, “and I have been waiting for you.”
He held out his hand.
She looked at him, and she was uncertain.
Now, this, the thing the Archer had whispered into his ear just now.
“Buffy,” he said.
Her face paled, grew bloodless. Her eyes, wide, fixed on his face. She trembled, though not with fear.
And she put her hand in his.