It’s only been a week since she arrived with a very few of her belongings, but this was the first she had ever stepped out from her hotel – her room– and it was quite a stormy day in Ancient Thera or, what is now known by many, modern day Santorini. No longer were there any dirt roads where the air was easier to breathe in without the smog; simpler time where people walked about or rode on their horses. So much has truly changed over the two millennia—so did she, too, have changed.
Throughout hundred and thousands of years, she had traveled far and wide when there’s nothing left for her in Greece; the time when the names of the old gods and stories she grew up with were being forgotten. She been to many places, witnessing what this world has to offer her and there’s no parts of this world where she hadn’t been to before, untouched by her steps. But there are still places Kassandra never expected to find herself at: a museum.
There’s a first time for everything, like in this case.
After shaking her head and declining to take the change of money she now doesn’t have any need for, Kassandra flashed the clerk a charming smile as she leaned forward and swiped the ticket off from the woman’s hand whose face started to turn red. The young woman started to turn her eyes down to her hand where their fingers brushed against one another then looked back up, stiffed on her own feet. She did her best to maintain composure when this finely dressed woman whose face seems to have been molded by the gods and a body chiseled by the heavens offered her to have a pleasant day, thanking her too late when the well-dressed woman was already gone.
It was wrong of her to teased like that, but Kassandra’s was still swelling up with pride as the very corner of her lips began to twitched upwards in a slight smirk. She dripped with confidence. ‘I still got it.’ She thought to herself while finally striding into the warm building after her ticket has been scanned. Her gaze was immediately transfixed on the marble statue of Zeus who stood tall and in the middle of the lobby, towering all those who were walking about with his eyes piercing at them all. There was an eagle perched on his shoulder with its wings spread out, one where she couldn’t help it but to feel a small ache in her heart when the bird reminded her of Ikaros who has passed a long time ago. And while the statue was a marveling sight, it doesn’t compare to the one that once stood on Kefalonia.
Slipping her hands into her pockets, Kassandra looked around for a moment before she shrugged her shoulders, walking into the first exhibit that caught her interest. “Ancient pottery.” She said to no one.
It was fairly empty, quiet even—well, except for the handful of school children running amok while their exasperated teacher tried to calm all of the kids down. She might’ve been tempted to help if it weren’t for one of the students getting sick, vomiting all over the floor; it’s best if she does not get herself involve, one of the reasons why she doesn’t have kids of her own.
She went back wandering around on her own, however it wasn’t long until she ended up following a group of tourists who all doesn’t seem to mind the terrible weather that was currently happening outside. She stood at the far back, not wanting to draw attention on herself as they were all shown artifacts that have been dug up. Unfortunately, many of them were just…good replicas. If only she could pity them rather than finding humor in this, many of these said relics have been long lost or destroyed by the Romans while others have been sold in the black markets.
Luckily, she managed to keep several with her, hidden away in a storage unit. She left the location for Layla back at her apartment in Sparta, the closest thing she can call home.
Kassandra took a few moments longer to admire the false relics being displayed before striding to the others, in time to hear the tour guide telling tales of influential figures; the likes of Perikles and Socrates, how their legacies can even still be felt in today’s society. She bowed her head down so others won’t notice the fond smile that came crossing her features, remembering those two all too clearly despite the fact that it has been thousands of years. She still remembered those she’d met, their faces still fresh in her mind. However, it didn’t take long for her smile to turn into an annoyed scowl when the tour guide shifted the story to Aspasia. ‘Fucking maláka…’ It was unfortunate that history won’t know the truth about that traitorous snake.
Just before that familiar and old rage could take hold, Kassandra felt warmth suddenly surging up in her arm, feeling chills going down her spine. Looking down, she sees the Staff of Trismegistus, disguised as a watch, taking on a dim glow only she noticed. She knew what this means: her long awaited and fateful meeting with Layla, at last. As she was about to make her leave, she suddenly stopped in her tracks and stood rooted on her spot when the tour guide told another story, a story she was familiar with…
The legendary and mighty Eagle Bearer.
“Eagle Bearer?” one of the tourists said, sharing the same perplexed looks the other tourists were exhibiting. It was obvious that none of these people have ever heard of the name that was once so infamous, striking a mixture of admiration and fear. They’re all unaware of the owner of that name is currently with them, listening closely. “Who is that?” The tourist asked.
“A misthios, or a mercenary,” the tour guide answered, “who traveled throughout the Greek World during the Peloponnesian War – playing on both sides, I should add – taking on the tasks that not even the bravest of men would dare to take.”
“Why were they called the Eagle Bearer?”
“They say an eagle, sent by Zeus himself, accompanied the misthios during their journey.”
Kassandra refrained herself from having to fact-check the tour guide. Ikaros has always been with her.
Questions from the others came at an instant, pouring out from each and every one of them. Their hands were raised up with an eagerness of a child, clear interest written all over their faces. Sadly for them, many of the questions that have been asked went unanswered for the tales of the Eagle Bearer have been lost and many experts aren’t sure if they ever exist; another myth.
“But there's still one story that has been apparently proven to be,” the tour guide said, pausing for a moment to make sure she had gotten all of their attention, then continuing soon afterwards, “the tale of the Eagle Bearer…and their lover, Leader of the Daughters of Artemis; a devoted and proud follower of the Goddess of the Hunt.”
Kassandra’s world came to a sudden halt, eyes widening. ‘Daphnae…’ She felt the air in her lungs leaving, leaving her breathless as her chest started to tightened. She thought both of their history and names have been washed away and forgotten, but then again, the relationship wasn’t a secret and it didn’t stop the Daughters from whispering. Perhaps it’s an excellent time for her to go now, however she stood rooted on her spot and unable to willing move, rather she listened closely.
Throughout time, many stories and tales have all been greatly exaggerated as time went by like in this case. She did not remember an epic battle occurring between herself and Daphnae when they stumbled upon each other, a battle that supposedly lasted for days. ‘Do people really thought that actually happened?’ Then again, this was something others from a long time ago would have said as well. People truly haven’t changed much.
But there was one thing that was true…
She remembered how it felt when her eyes laid upon on the beauty, a wave of desire drowning her and pulling her deep into those gazing dark eyes of the huntress’s—alluring. It didn’t take long for their shared attraction to turn into something more, something deeper and more meaningful.
“After their worth has been recognized, a series of trials was given to the Eagle Bearer: slaying all eight legendary beasts.”
Maláka. Another memory, one that was more on the unpleasant side; fighting against those beasts was difficult and that boar…the fucking boar that farted constantly…shuddering at the thought, oh how its smell still lingers in her mind. But by the gods, it was still worth it at the end, those bloody cuts and bruises she sustained was all worth it just so she can see Daphnae again.
“Beast Slayer, it’s so good to see you again.”
“It was said that the Eagle Bearer would spend the night with their lover upon each of their return, presenting the huntress with the beasts’ pelts.”
Lips finally meeting one another, armor and pieces of fabric were hastily casted aside as though it had been eternity since they last saw each other. The desperation in both of their tones was clear, hands roaming all over each other, touches that were familiar to them both. And as they were both on the ground with Kassandra on top, giving her a wolfish grin before she started kissing her way down, finally.
This was something she often dreamed of and fantasizes about: the sweet, sweet taste of heaven.
Kassandra could still remember every passionate night they spent together under the bright moon and shining stars, every ecstasy-filled moment they shared by the fire, how could she ever forget? Especially with those lustful looks Daphnae would always give her, but perhaps the only thing she didn’t miss much was the huntress’s strong grip—very strong grip.
Her hair felt like it was going to be ripped out from her scalp within any given moment, but it’s still worth it at the end just to hear Daphnae’s cries of pleasure, visibly grimacing when Kassandra felt another hard tug. But she didn’t let the pain stop her from relentlessly moving her tongue between Daphnae’s wet folds.
A deep rumbled left her chest as she held Daphnae’s hips down, preventing the other woman from squirming around so much, pushing her face forward as her tongue drove in deep. It delighted her to hear the huntress moaning loudly into the night. And it fueled her.
Her eyes were shut as memories kept flowing back into mind, remembering those nights when her name left Daphnae’s lips—crying her name out like a prayer.
“Kassandra!” Hearing that final cry – tasting her fully – Daphnae did know how to make her feel as someone who’s more than the Eagle Bearer, more than another weapon for the cult. The feeling of belonging she never truly felt, not even when she was just a little girl back at Sparta.
Time with Daphnae was nothing but short-lived, finding herself feeling regretful for being away far too often and how peace is nothing but a privilege, how it never lasted long enough for them both to watch the sun rising together. Always leaving before Helios could ride his Sun Chariot to bring about a new day.
“I have to go now.”
“So…what happened next? What happened when they completed their task?”
There it was – her eyes slowly opened as she took in a deep breath, pulled out from her memories and back into reality – that dreaded question. She would do anything to forget that.
“When the final beast has been slain, the Eagle Bearer was sent to Chios – home of the Daughters of Artemis – for their test was not yet over; a final task,” the tour guide said, placing a hand on her chest for a more dramatic effect, “but it was a task they couldn’t go through.” She said, letting out a heavy and tragic sigh.
“The task of killing the one you hold closely and dearly to your heart.”
The tourist who asked the last question scoffed loudly which caught the attention from the others, rolling his eyes when they all looking at him now. “Weren’t they like…an assassin?” He said, arms crossing together and was completely confused by this. After all, weren’t all warriors supposed to be badasses? And this figure in the tale sounded like they can have anyone else they wanted.
“It’s not as easy as you would think,” the tour guide said, rolling her eyes. This wasn’t exactly the first time she had to deal with men who were like this.
“Wasn’t killing part of their job?”
“Could you do the same then? Killing someone you loved?”
That got the tourist stopped talking, moving his head to the side as his cheeks turned into a lovely shade of red from embarrassment when all eyes were on him all the while he wasn’t aware that the Eagle Bearer herself was gazing at him piercingly. “No…” He said, sighing heavily; he could never even bring himself to yell at his own beloved dog back at home.
“And with the Eagle Bearer’s inability to go through the final task,” the tour guide said, finally able to continue the story, “a rift was formed between the two.”
“But did they ever make up?” someone else asked, raising a hand up.
“I don’t know, no one knows unfortunately, the story just ended there,” the tour guide said, “but I like to think they did.”
A sad smile appeared on Kassandra’s face, wishing that were the case. In reality, their paths never crossed again. A constant reminder plagued her after that doomed meeting she had with Daphnae, coming upon a group of the Daughters of Artemis or gazing upon the statues of Artemis, gazing at the goddess with contempt. It wasn’t only until she finally got to see the huntress again when time and the years has caught up to her, death claiming her soul peacefully; watching her body burn at the very next day from a safe distant.
“Okay!” the tour guide exclaimed, her mood brightening up again while clapping her hands loudly together to get the others’ attention. “We’re now moving on to ancient potteries, follow me!”
The tourists all oohed and excitedly followed their guide with the story of the Eagle Bearer quickly forgotten.
Kassandra, on the other hand, found no offense at the sudden change of topic. She turned simply and left the museum without having anybody else noticing her presence was among them. As she stepped out, it was still raining heavily and she could hear the distant thunder booming in the sky, not bothering to bring an umbrella in the first place. She smiled sadly as her thoughts drifted back to the woman who broke her heart. It has already been so many years and there hasn’t been a day where the pain went away...still, it gets easier with each passing day. After all, her time is up.
‘Wait for me.’
So this is what it feels like to die.
After the Staff of Trismegistus was passed off to its new owner, the effect was immediate to take a hold of Kassandra when she lost her balance and started to stagger. Her body ached, could barely move around as her vision blur and didn’t notice Layla caught her before she fell onto the ground, cradling her closely. Memories flooded her mind like waves, wondering if this is what many others had said when they say every second in your life starts flashing before your eyes. However, unlike most people, she wasn’t afraid to finally greet death.
She lived a very long life.
But it was still a good one…a good life she had.
She remembered the very first time she left Greece after she helped the Greeks to fight against the Romans, but even with her prowess wasn’t enough to stop them. Everything was left behind when she escaped with the others—her home, her legacy, and all the memories she held dearly, all gone in the fire and leaving only ashes in its wake. Afterwards, Kassandra lived in the shadows, staying hidden and not to involve herself in fights that others can handle on their own.
She had seen the rise and fall of many empires before another would rise up to take its place, then the vicious cycle repeats itself. She had seen societies joining together as one, fighting against an unjust. At the end, when the dust has settled and freedom was returned to the people, greed never failed to cloud one’s judgment. The world hasn’t change much, leaders of this so-called free world were no different than the kings and queens, emperors and empresses. This world is still standing divided and unity is nothing more than a laughable dream. And even after all these years, the long life she lived, her only regret was that she didn’t do much to help make that change.
As her breathing continued to labor and her vision grew hazier, Kassandra’s thoughts were on her family, the family she brought back together and friends she made…then having to watch them all grow old and die. Once more, she was all alone in this world.
Her mother was the first to go, just a few years after the family has finally became whole again. An illness had overtaken her, something that shocked them all. A shock turned anger on Kassandra’s end, cursing loudly to the night and the terrible fate her mother must endure…and how truly cruel the fates are. She felt nothing but helplessness, a cure that’s never discovered until decades ago. Her mother deserved a better ending to her story, but Myrianne already made peace with herself a long time ago, knowing that everyday life is fleeting. And just with that being said, Kassandra had accepted the fate that was bestowed upon her mother.
A year later, Myrianne died in her sleep. Surrounded only by her family and people she’d met over the years of her journey came by to pay her one last respect. Kassandra never realized how loved her mother was until everyone who knew her crowded in the same room.
Alexios, her younger brother, followed mother a year after her death. Kassandra doesn’t know the cause of it, but she suspected the Cult of Kosmos had something to do with it. After all, they were the ones who poisoned his mind since his infancy, they have abused his body, treating him like a rabid animal, and only using him as a weapon; never human. She knew how he suffered over time and how he struggled to undo what the damn cult had done to him. He tried and fought as hard as he can, but it seems it wasn’t enough at the end. And his body gave out where he was found days later by Spartan soldiers who were patrolling around Mount. Taygetus.
He was buried next to their mother the very next day and Kassandra hoped that he found peace in death.
Nikolas was the next to pass, a death that certainly shocked those who knew him—a death no one would have expected from a renowned general like him. Struck by common, measly thief, stealing whatever little drachma the Wolf was carrying all for a cheap wine. It wasn’t long for the thief to be found, apprehended by Kassandra who returned the favor. Nikolas may have committed atrocious actions, things that she would never forgive him for. Over time, her anger lessened. She’d lost too much, she didn’t need to lose him…someone who was also once so important in her life.
He’s given an honorable burial, wrapped in a beautiful red cloth with his helmet and prized sword, and Kassandra was proud to call him her father.
Finally, there was Stentor…who was the last to die, unfortunately.
She and Stentor…they never got along, even when they’re both stuck with each other once they’re left together. But things between them mellowed after he found someone who tolerates his terrible attitude, Kassandra truly loved his wife though; a complete opposite to Stentor, getting along with her and his children. He died at a very old age, surrounded by his family from what she heard from far away.
She started to think about all of the others she had the privilege to met over the years, people she was proud to call her friends: Barnabas, Herodotus, Phoibe, Ikaros, and many more, but Daphnae was her last thought. To have the huntress in her mind one last time was comforting.
She’s ready to join them.
“Gaía…máter pantós…chaíre…” With those words recited under her breath, Kassandra smiled. At last, she can finally rest with all of her worries left behind, trusting Layla and her team to finish the work she couldn’t complete. And as her eyes fluttered shut for the final time and breathing out her last breath, she heard these final words whisperingly lovingly into her ear as a greeting.
“Beast Slayer, it’s so good to see you again.”