The sun had barely risen as the young boys were ushered out of their barracks and into the fields for practice. Despite the temperature dropping below twenty degrees, each one only wore a thin tunic. They were paired off to spar as the instructor, a rather muscular man dressed in a thick tunic, boots and a heavy cloak draped over his shoulders, paced between them correcting stances or strikes where needed. He hardly ever grinned and took little interest in the boys who seemed to be weaker than the others, choosing rather to focus on the ones who showed the most promise for only they would be called Spartans. Athanasios was one of those boys. Hypatos, the instructor, seemed to enjoy pairing Athanasios to boys who were bigger and stronger than he was, but that was almost impossible to avoid. Athanasios had been born the first healthy child of his parents and in their pride of him had named him, immortal. The gods seemed to find offense to that pride and cursed him with a small stature. He had always been smaller and weaker than all the others but it didn't mean he stopped trying to best them. Even now, he sparred with ferocity despite knowing he would lose. He couldn't give up. Ever. To do so would mean he would bring shame to his entire family, though he had done that sufficiently since he was so much smaller than the others. Hypatos straightened and clapped his hands together to get the boys attentions, "Enough, save your strength for the demonstration later today. For now, do your conditioning," Hypatos pulled his cloak corner as he turned about and headed back toward the city leaving the boys to their conditioning. The boys gathered into two lines side by side, Athanasios took he back as always. He had tried a few times to move forward only to be bullied or, worse, beaten to the back. Krios, one of the largest of boys and one who's parents had thought much of his future considering his name meant ruler or king, took his place in the front. "Try to keep up, Athos," he called out and the other boys snickered. "Worry not, Krios, I'll not fall behind," even though he knew he would fall behind, Athos, a shorter version of his name, always hoped and prayed that he would one day surpass the boys that treated him so cruelly and prove to everyone that he was worthy of being called a Spartan. "We will see," returned Krios. The run was as gruesome as ever. They ran the perimeter of the city and then down the Eurotas River until they reached their marker. Athos did his best to keep up, but in the end, he arrived in the city only an hour before the demonstrations would commence. It was hardly time to prepare himself, but it would do. A true Spartan would be ready to fight no matter the circumstances. His parents awaited him as he walked into his home. The scent of dinner long gone as he had finished too late to enjoy it. It was something he had grown used to and part of him began to believe that it was their way of trying to kill him off. He was weak and a disappointment. He also brought shame on the family because of that. This was something he always tried to remedy through hardwork. "Athanasios, are you prepared for the demonstrations?" His mother asked. Her steel blue eyes bore right through him. "Yes, mother," he nodded. "You know all the Spartan girls will be there to gauge the worth of the boys. This is your chance to show them your strength and become a serious contender for the heart of one of the young women," she replied. "I know, mother," Athos returned. He had dreaded this day since he had heard of its coming. He had eyes for several of the girls but none of them would dare look at him twice once they saw how weak he was. He would never be a proper Spartan until he did something that proved to all of them his worth. Hopefully he could do that today, otherwise, his parents would never see him as anything more than a failure. A son who was weak would never make a Spartan nor a father to continue on their legacy.