Nearby, she found a corpse lying facedown with blood around the head.
Kassandra:A body. Hmm. He doesn't look much like Makarios or Xanthe. Must be the other boy.
She searched along the rocky slopes of the mountain:
Kassandra:A trail... someone ran towards the mountain heights. Could be Theoros.
She followed the intermittent trail of blood on the slopes of Mount Taygetos until finally sighting a cave that the trail led to. Kassandra entered the cave carefully, and saw three bandits, with Theoros tied up, kneeling.
Kassandra proceeded to fight the bandits.
Theoros:Gods be good, please untie me!
She killed the first one.
Theoros:Have mercy! Cut me free!
She eliminated the second bandit.
Theoros:Help me, before these murderers butcher me!
She finally executed the leader. She untied Theoros and talked to him.
Theoros:My gratitude, warrior. I was certain I would not see another day.
Kassandra:What's your name?
Kassandra:Trainer Iatrokles will want to know what happened to you and your companion.
Theoros:My age-mate, Akamas, was killed by these dogs when we saw them sneaking about in the night.
Kassandra:And what happened to you?
Theoros spoke nervously.
Theoros:I fell in combat, and they dragged me here.
Kassandra:I saw the battlefield. You ran as soon as your companion fell. A Spartan never drops his shield.
Theoros:Curse you. Yes! I don't want to be a soldier, I never wanted to! All I wanted was a small boat, a small life. To fish and live in peace.
Kassandra:A fisherman?! I came all this way for a coward?
Theoros:So what? I didn't ask for this. It was forced upon me. A boy in Sparta has no other choice.
Kassandra:Your mother and Makarios will be disgusted by you.
Theoros:At least I'll be alive to pray for them and love them from afar. Thank you for my life, misthios, but tell them I'm not coming back.
Theoros stayed in the cave.
Kassandra:Your brother, Makarios, will be glad to see you alive. And he'll be impressed by your bravery.
Theoros:Makarios is at the agoge?
Kassandra:I escorted him there myself, on behalf of your mother. He's a bright boy. Eager to learn from the brother he favors so much.
Theoros:I don't know if I can face them all again...
Kassandra:Of course you can. Remember, the trick is just to keep breathing. Put your body in a state of fearlessness, and your mind will be free of fear.
Theoros breathed quickly.
Theoros:I will try. I can't.
Kassandra smiled and shook her head, then closed her eyes as she demonstrated.
Kassandra:Breathe. Release the fear.
Theoros followed suit.
Theoros:Yes. I feel it.
Kassandra:Good! Your shield is where you left it. Collect it on your way back to the agoge.
Theoros returned to the agoge training camp.
Kassandra:Your brother worships you and will be overjoyed to see you.
Theoros:Makarios? Has the time come for him to join the agoge already?
Kassandra:Yes, he already studies with Trainer Iatrokles.
Theoros:Curse all of Olympos! He isn't ready for this.
Kassandra:The world is tough. But if we look out for those we love, we can shield them from at least a little harm.
Theoros:I do not know that I can face my brother—all my brothers—again.
Kassandra:Of course you can. Makarios worships you. But you can use that love to fuel your bravery and defeat your fear. Retrieve your shield from where you left it and return to the agoge. Soon you'll embrace your brother again.
Theoros:Thank you, my friend. I will! Please, tell my mother that her sons will do the family proud.
Theoros returned to the agoge training camp.
Kassandra:Will you be a Spartan and retrieve your shield and your place in the line, or will you run off and offend the gods, leaving your duty behind?
Theoros grew angry.
Theoros:If the gods are offended by my choices, they should never have put me in this skin! I never wanted to be a warrior.
Kassandra:We do what we must in this world, not what we want.
Theoros:I must leave Sparta, then, or else die by slow suicide. Thank you for my life, but tell my mother I won't return!
Theoros stayed in the cave.
(If players passed by the agoge training camp after encouraging Theoros.)
Kassandra returned with Theoros to the training camp. Theoros sat down with his brother, while Kassandra talked to the training master.
Kassandra:Trainer, from what I could tell, your two charges spotted bandits sneaking across the mountains in the night.
Iatrokles appeared concerned.
Iatrokles:And? What happened then?
Kassandra:Akamas fell, but I found Theoros, and helped him find his way back.
Iatrokles:I'm sorry to hear of the fall of Akamas. But I suspect you've inspired Theoros to new heights. He will be a model for the younger ones to follow.
Xanthe:What do you have to share with me, misthios?
(If players reproached Theoros.)
Kassandra:Magistrate Xanthe, I have black news for you. Your older son is lost.
Xanthe is momentarily shocked.
Kassandra:In the face of danger, Theoros abandoned his shield and fled his duty.
Xanthe was appalled.
Xanthe:This is... hard news. A blow upon my heart. I do not thank you for your words, but they needed to be heard.
Kassandra:Makarios has started his training at the agoge. And who knows, maybe one day Theoros—
Xanthe was vexed.
Xanthe:I have but one son now, misthios. To other matters.
Kassandra:Theoros and his age-mate, Akamas, were on overnight watch when they encountered a group of bandits. I found Akamas' corpse, but Theoros's body was gone. Lost to the mountains, or taken by wolves.
Xanthe's expression hardened.
Xanthe:I see. His death will be an inspiration to his brother to train all the harder. My gratitude, Eagle Bearer, for this news. And the bandits?
Kassandra:Dead and given to the crows.
Xanthe:Good. Now, to other matters.
(If players encouraged Theoros.)
Kassandra:Makarios is well placed at the agoge. The trainer, Iatrokles, will be a hard taskmaster, but he will grow strong and brave.
Xanthe:Gods willing, he'll find a way to endure and thrive. It is not easy to send one's heart into the world.
Kassandra:He's eager and bright. And he has Theoros there to guide and inspire him. They will support each other.
Xanthe:You demonstrate the wisdom of Athena, Eagle Bearer. You are a blessing to this family.
Nonetheless, Xanthe proceeded to tell Kassandra of other worries on her mind.
Xanthe:There are several in the region who could benefit from your presence, Eagle Bearer. Help them. Inspire them. And I'll reward you.
Kassandra:Give me their names.
Xanthe:The farm owner, Lanike, as well as several of the town's important women—Zita, Damia, and Zeuxo.
(If players choose "What do you know about the farm owner?")
Kassandra:Who is this farm owner?
Xanthe:Lanike runs the farm for her family. Recently, it has been underperforming. She blames the gods and believes the land is cursed. But I wonder if she's too quick to punish her helots.
(If players choose "What does Zita need?")
Kassandra:What does Zita need?
Xanthe:Her daughter, Zopheras, is as wild and headstrong as an untamed filly. Zita constantly prays for guidance, but I suspect Zopheras needs a more grounded hand to direct her.
(If players choose "What is Damia's story?")
Kassandra:What should I know about Damia?
Xanthe:She has two precocious children who rule the roost in the agora. They reduce their tutors to tears and stir up their other age-mates. She is hoping you can instill some respect in them.
(If players choose "What should I know about Zeuxo?")
Kassandra:What can you tell me about Zeuxo?
Xanthe:Her husband is off training for war, and she specifically requested an audience with you for help with something quite personal.
(Leave – "I'll find the women.")
Kassandra:I'll find them and see what they want of me.
After finding out what happened to Iatrokles' older students the night before at their lookout camp, Kassandra found and freed Theoros, Makarios' older brother, from a trio of bandits inside a cave at Mount Taygetos. She later returned to Xanthe to bring news about her sons and thanked her. Xanthe subsequently asks Kassandra to also help the other Lakonian women in and around Sparta.
Iatrokles worried about his two missing students.
Kassandra following the trail of blood to the cave