Chapter 1: Book I
As Aeneas and his men approached on the horizon Vicki knew what the future held for her and Troilus. She wrapped her arms around his torso, squeezing tightly, and whispered, "I love you." Suddenly the man pulled back. He gripped her arms and pushed her away, peering into her eyes with horror. "What?" She demanded.
As the word tumbled from her mouth it seemed to confirm whatever horrible suspicion that had risen in his mind. "You lied," he whispered. "You lied and now the gods have struck you dumb as punishment!"
Vicki stared at him in confusion as more words began pouring from Troilus like a river, but she didn't recognize any of them. He yelled at her then, the angry words hissing at her like a snake. What is he saying? She thought in bewilderment. I don't understand. His fingers around her arms began to tighten with each strange sound that passed through his lips, bruising her skin. He shook her roughly and as she tried to regain her balance it suddenly clicked: the TARDIS. The TARDIS was gone and with it the psychic translator. Troilus was speaking to her in some ancient Anatolian language and Vicki could only reply helplessly back in her own native English.
Troilus's grip became impossibly tight and he pulled on her, pushing her slightly behind him as Aeneas and his men rode up to them on horseback. She heard them call out Troilus's name again, but it didn't quite sound the same as it had before the TARDIS left. They stressed the "i" and the "u" sounded more like an "o", transforming his name into tro-ee-los. Had the TARDIS even translated their names into something that her English ears would recognize? Aeneas came to a stop before them, sparing Achilles no more than a hateful glance, before speaking with Troïlos. The sounds all blended together, leaving Vicki to struggle even when trying to pick out individual words. She could only guess at what they were saying.
But when Aeneas nodded towards her with a questioning tone, she felt Troïlos stiffen. Her heart began to hammer wildly in her chest. Troïlos thought she was a traitor and cursed by the gods, she was going to be executed, she just knew it. She should have never left the TARDIS. She had been so stupid, how could she have possibly thought this could have worked? In a panic she reached out and gripped Troïlos's tunic, tugging on it helplessly. He gave no indication that he even noticed, but after a moment he gestured to her and replied "Χρύσης". He pushed her forward a little, never letting her slip his grip, and Vicki wondered if this was it. But Troïlos didn't sound angry and the vaguely curious looks the Trojans shot her never wavered into horror and rage. Aeneas nodded at whatever explanation the young Trojan gave him and that seemed to be the end of it.
Aeneas held out his hand for Troïlos and with great reluctance he finally let her go. Vicki nearly jumped back in fear when he turned on her then, his face twisted in hatred and despair and helplessness, and gestured wildly across the plains towards the sea. He kept saying that word over and over again: Χρύσης. Finally he threw his hands up in the air in frustration before grasping Aeneas's outstretched hand, letting the older man haul him onto the back of his horse. Vicki leapt out of the way as the Trojans took off at a gallop towards Troy, spitting on the corpse of Achilles as they went. Vicki felt her mouth drop in shock as they watched them go. It was suicide. Madness. Troy was already lost. The flames were so high that they were licking the sky.
With a huff of frustration Vicki ran after them. If Troïlos thought she was going to run off and hide while he got himself killed he had another thing coming.
Vicki had never seen such horror. She flinched and threw herself against the rough stone walls of the pillaged houses, her body instinctively trying to find some insignificant crack to press into. She stared with wide, terrified eyes as the Trojans were massacred in front of her. The swords whistled as they swung down in wide arcs, slicing through women and children and men alike. What few Trojan men that had survived the war were quickly mowed down by the great Greek machine.
Vicki felt hard, calloused hands wrap around her waist and tug her away from the shadows she had hidden herself in. With a panicked shriek Vicki turned on her would-be abductor and wailed on him with her fists and feet. She could feel his skin dig beneath her fingernails as she scraped and scratched along his eyes and ears. The Greek soldier had assumed she would not put up much of a fight, but as she flopped about in his grasp like a fish, limbs flailing everywhere, she was able to more than once land a lucky blow that struck hard across his neck and head. With a curse he hurled her away from him and pulled out his sword to strike her down, but as soon as Vicki was on her feet she was running wildly through the streets. She had no plan other than to find Troïlos. He was the only friend she had in this strange, frightening world; there was no way she was going to lose him.
She knew the ancient myths; she had studied them in school along with all those other silly ancient fairy tales that had once been called "religion". Troïlos's death and the fall of Troy were intimately linked. If Troïlos died before he came of age, the prophecy stated, then Troy would be destroyed. And he did die, at least he did so in those old myths. Struck down by Achilles. But that didn't happen, Vicki insisted fervently. Troïlos had won the fight. But that didn't change the fact that Troy was burning all around her and Troïlos was lost somewhere amongst the soldiers.
Vicki breathed a sigh of relief as the palace came into view. If Troïlos was anywhere it would be here, with his family. A sharp, piercing scream erupted from somewhere above her. Vicki looked up to see a young boy, a toddler no more than three or four, falling through the air. He landed a few feet in front of her, his head cracking open and spilling out like an overripe melon. Vicki stood there in numb astonishment as waves of horror and nausea crashed over her. She dimly recognized the boy as Astyanax, Troïlos's nephew and the son of Hector and Andromache. She had met Hector's young widow just briefly when King Priam had introduced her to his family. She had clutched Astyanax to her chest the entire time, staring off out onto the distant battlefield with unseeing eyes. Vicki looked at the broken body and the streaks of red mud that surrounded him and tried to think back on that little boy that had whined petulantly and clutched at his mother. Her mind refused to summon the image, her thoughts running round and round through her head in confusion.
The terrified screams ringing through the streetspierced through the hazy fog that had draped itself over her senses and somewhere she heard what sounded like the braying of a dog. With a sudden creak, the wide double doors of the palace were thrown open, the wood splintering from the soldier's boots as they were kicked apart. A pair of Greek soldiers pulled Queen Hecuba out into the twilight and through the blood-stained dirt. The old woman was barking and howling madly at the unfeeling moon. Behind her was Cassandra, casually strolling beside her Greek captors, laughing at some joke only she knew. Vicki swallowed back down her nausea; she needed to hide before the Greeks saw her. She swayed drunkenly on her feet, desperately trying to gather her loose thoughts as she glanced around for a means of escape. A large hand slipped gently into her's and Vicki looked up at the haggard, bearded face of King the two of them wove their way through the terrible din.
Vicki allowed herself to be pulled along, closing her eyes against the horrible violence that surged around her. If she was going to die from a Greek sword slicing into her then she would rather not have to watch it happen. All she could do was put her trust in Priam and hope she survived. When the old king finally dropped her hand Vicki opened her eyes to find herself standing in the middle of a magnificent temple. Vicki felt her mouth fall open in awe as she looked up at the towering figure of Zeus seated in front of her. The raging fires outside gleamed off the gold robes and ivory skin and copper beard, making the god look like a vision from another world. King Priam reached out with a tentative hand, daring to touch the statue's foot as it jutted out from beneath its golden cloak. He was wailing something, a prayer Vicki supposed, though she couldn't understand it.
With a sudden cry Vicki tore herself away from the old man to see Troïlos run into the temple, his tunic and armor torn and fear etched across his face as though pursued by the hounds of hell. It may as well have been a hound for hot on his heels was a young Greek with a spear in one hand and a sword in the other. He couldn't have been any older than Vicki or Troïlos themselves, but his features were twisted by rage and hate, making him seem unnatural and demonic. Vicki couldn't help but shrink away at the sight of his white-knuckled hand twisting the hilt of his sword threateningly at them. Troïlos stumbled back toward her and Vicki could see red blooming across his tunic. Blood was running down through his fingers as he clutched at his side and all Vicki could do was helplessly press her hands on top of his in a fruitless effort to put more pressure against the wound. He sagged against her and whispered something into her hair- "Χρύσης."
"Νεοπτόλεμος!" Old Priam bellowed out as he stepped up to meet the Greek warrior. Vicki recognized the word; it was name, Neoptolemus. The son of Achilles. Troïlos allowed her to only hold onto him for a second more before finding some hidden strength to push himself back up to stand next to his father. He was dead-eyed with pain and swaying slightly. An old man and a wounded boy were about to face the son of the deadliest fighter ancient Greece had ever produced. It wasn't going to be a battle at all, but a massacre. She glanced around the temple, but there were no weapons, only decorative objects and stone urns filled with oil. Vicki carefully slid along the temple walls, hoping not to attract Neoptolemus's attention. The man didn't even glance in her direction, his eyes never wavered from the boy that killed his father.
With an embittered cry King Priam rushed towards him. The Greek let loose his spear and before the old man could even get close he was struck down, the weapon shredding his stomach and hurling him down to the ground. Vicki shrieked as the blood was forced outward, staining her dress so that it clung wetly to her calves. She scrambled wildly across the temple, her panic overwhelming her mind until any thoughts of trying to sneak quietly by were erased. She grasped the handles of a stone urn and tried to lift it, but it wouldn't budge. With a desperate kick she toppled the vase, spilling the oil and filling the air with heavy perfume. She could hear the ringing of swords as Troïlos and Neoptolemus grappled with each other, and once again she pulled on the handles. She was able to lift it until it was balanced on top of her shoulder and, in a mad dash, she raced towards the men.
Neoptolemus was sprawled on top of Troïlos, one hand wrapped tightly around his neck, the other digging into his wound. Both of their swords lay by their sides, forgotten. Vicki had intended to smash the urn on top of Neoptolemus's head like she had seen in many of those old movies that Barbara and Ian had so loved, but it was far to heavy for her to throw. She dropped it, leaving it to tumble gracelessly from her shoulder. The heavy stone came crashing down on top of Neoptolemus's back, right in between his shoulder blades. She heard something crack and Neoptolemus gave a strangled gasp as the air fled from his lungs. He collapsed on top of Troïlos and, now free of the Greek's grip, quickly grasped his sword and bashed in Neoptolemus's face in with the hilt. Once, twice, three times until there was nothing left except for a caved-in skull.
Vicki could feel her nausea returning with full force and she quickly turned away to throw up on the once beautifully decorated floors. She tried to take deep, calming breaths, but the smell of blood and frankincense assaulted her, leaving her gagging and unable to breathe. It was only when Troïlos called out weakly that she was able to swallow the rising vomit back down. He was injured, he might even be dying. She couldn't waste time like this. She helped him onto his feet and the two made their way out of the temple. Now that she had Troïlos it was time to abandon Troy to its fate. There was nothing left to do here.
Vicki looked up to see Aeneas standing in the middle of the street, looking lost and frantic. He was carrying an old man across his back and a little boy was clutching at his leg. "Κρέουσα!" He called out again, looking carefully at each Trojan that rushed passed him in their flight.
Troïlos said something in reply and Aeneas looked at them with such a look of heartbreak that Vicki could feel her heart tighten at the sight. For a brief second, he stood there, unsure and unmoving, but the sounds of Greeks marching through the streets finally spurred him into action. The look of helpless panic was gone and in its place was a mask of determination and confidence. The façade of a leader. Aeneas grasped hold of the little boy's wrist and led Vicki and Troïlos out of the city towards the harbor, where his ships lay.
O Muse, the causes tell! What sacrilege,
Or vengeful sorrow, moved the Queen of Heaven
To thrust on dangers dark and endless toil
A man whose largest honor in men's eyes
Was serving Heaven? Can gods such anger feel?
Chapter 2: Book II
Vicki's first space flight had been the fateful UK-21, the ship that would take not only her father's life but thrust her into a new one. Before they boarded, she had spent her days dreading the upcoming flight. She had tried to hide her feelings; she had always loved spaceships. She had built models and studied mechanics and hung posters of Buzz Aldrin and Yuri Gagarinon her wall. But dreaming about flying and actually doing it were two different things, and she was embarrassed about how something that she had talked about non-stop could frighten her so much. It was new and scary and her father mercilessly teased her about getting "sea-sickness." It was a right of passage, he said, for all land-lovers to get ill on their first trip into space. It turned out that his humorous warnings proved unfounded; the anti-gravity and sense of weightlessness had not bothered Vicki at all, unlike some of the other passengers. Including her father, whom she had made sure took back every single joke he had made.
At the time she had wondered why they had called it "sea-sickness". The sea had nothing to do with it. It seemed like an antiquated description to her; nobody travelled by sea anymore, not when there were much more sensible and quicker modes of travel.
Vicki felt every single wave crash into the ship and swallowed back the nausea that threatened to make itself known. The stench of sweat didn't help, either, and Vicki felt like she couldn't breathe. The air below deck was stifling and oppressive. There was hardly any room to move. Not only was the ship filled with wounded refugees, the rowers took up a lot of room themselves. They're grunting and huffing could be heard day and night as they propelled the ship across the sea. Vicki longed to go above deck, just for a few minutes, but it seemed like the moment they had set sail they had been besieged by storms.
She absently ran her fingers through Troïlos's sweat-slicked hair - a comfort just as much for her as it was for him - as she looked dully at the men battling the waves with their oars. Troïlos lay shivering beside her, locked in fever dreams as infection took its toll. Vicki had never felt so useless in her life. Troïlos might die and she could do nothing despite all of her advanced knowledge of medicine and chemistry. The irony was not lost on her; if the situation were not so serious she might have laughed. Penicillin had a core molecular formula of R-C9H11N2O4S. It was an antibiotic that was derived from the Penicillium fungi. She knew its affects on the body, she knew the proper dosage, the side-effects, the mechanics behind it. She could even synthesize in a lab. But she didn't have a lab, she didn't have any equipment, she had no idea what the Penicillium fungi looked like, and even if she did she would have no idea what to do with a fungus. How could she get the cure she needed from a fungus? It wasn't like she could just rub the thing on him. For the first time in her life her education had proved useless. She knew all these advanced subjects, but had skipped over the most basic of knowledge. What was useful in the 25th century meant nothing in this ancient time. It wasn't just medicine, either. She could calculate the distance a neighboring planet was from Earth with ease, but she didn't know how the sailors were able to use the stars to navigate. Vicki knew about marine life, about ecosystems, and how and why the moon affected the ocean the way it did, but she didn't know anything about sailing, or fishing, or farming. She could even build a very basic time machine if she wanted, and have this little ship go sailing far into the future or even farther in the past, but where would she get the materials? What did she know of blacksmithing or mining? It wasn't like she could turn to the Trojans for help. Even if she spoke the language, these people had just discovered bronze. The TARDIS had made more sense to her than this primitive ship.
Vicki felt like she was going insane. She knew all of these great and wonderful things, and they meant absolutely nothing.
At least she wasn't completely alone. She spent most of her time in the company of Aeneas's family. Aineías, her mind automatically corrected and wasn't that a funny thought that she hadn't even known how to correctly pronounce one of the most well-known names in Greek and Roman mythology. She didn't think Aineías particularly liked her, but at least his son and father did. Ioulos was a young boy of about nine and Ankīsēs, the old man she had seen Aineías carrying on his back, was the mythical hero's father.
Vicki had also made a friend of sorts with one of the Trojan women. Her name was Brisēís. She was a very pretty girl, her eyes were gray and her dark hair was twisted into coils. She was a few years older than Vicki, but other than that she really didn't know much about her. There was something strange going on with her, though for her life she couldn't figure it out. She wished desperately she could speak the language, maybe then it would all make sense. Vicki didn't know what Troïlos had said to Aineías about her, but whatever it was it must have been impressive because the men on the ship showed her the respect usually reserved for a princess. Though he was often annoyed by her inability to speak the language and her strange mannerisms, Aineías treated her like a member of his own family and she ate her meals with them and slept with them when she wasn't keeping vigil at Troïlos's side. Brisēís, however, was treated little better than a dog. She had seen Brisēís running along the beach with the rest of the fleeing refugees. However, when she tried to board the ship, the men had pushed her down and for a moment Vicki thought the Trojans meant to leave her behind. Brisēís had crawled along the sand on her hands and knees and clutched at Aineías in supplication. She couldn't understand the words she had said, but she knew she had been begging. Aineías had relented, but the other Trojans were obviously displeased with this decision. The women spat on her and the men harassed her. The abuse enraged Vicki. How dare they treat this poor woman this way, a fellow refugee? Vicki wished she could speak the language so she could give them a piece of her mind. The final straw had been when she caught two of the sailors pulling on her clothes, tearing the thin cloth and leaving her bare, their intentions clear. Vicki had felt possessed; she was terrified and furious and all of a sudden she was screaming at them in English and couldn't stop. The men had backed away, unsure of what to make of this wild, foreign woman. Aineías had appeared then and Vicki had reached over and grasped Brisēís's hand and pointed wildly to the sailors with the other as she desperately tried to explain what they had attempted to do.
Aineías slapped her.
It hadn't hurt, not really, but it had left her speechless and still. She didn't understand. She hadn't done anything wrong. Those sailors were going to rape that woman and she had been the one that was punished?
Her shock quickly wore off and she did the only thing she could think of: she kicked him in the shins.
She heard the sailors behind her break out into laughter, but Vicki wasn't really sure what had happened after that, except that Aineías must have struck her again and much harder than the first time because she the next time she was aware of her surroundings she was being held in Brisēís's arms and Ankīsēs was hovering over her. Her face had throbbed something fierce and for a moment she was afraid she had lost a tooth, but a quick check assured her that nothing was lose. Afterwards, Aineías still continued to act like he always did: treating her like an irritant, but a member of his family nonetheless. However, Vicki was glad to say that Brisēís's lot certainly improved. No one bothered her anymore, though they continued to shoot their dark glances and hateful mutterings behind her back. Brisēís, herself, had become her shadow, helping her with anything she could possibly need. Vicki assumed that so long as she was near her she was afforded some sort of protection. Nobody wanted to be screamed at by the crazy foreign lady, after all.
Brisēís wiped Troïlos's feverish brow with a damp rag. She shot Vicki a pitying look and shrugged; it was obvious that she didn't think he would live. Vicki scowled at that. Well, what did she know anyway? If Troïlos could beat Achilles, he could beat this.
Vicki suddenly felt like she was about to crawl out of her skin. She needed to do something. Anything. With a sudden conviction, Vicki pushed herself to her feet and made her way to one of the rowers. He was an old man, who by all rights should be sitting with the other refugees except for the fact that they were in desperately short supply of sailors. She tapped him on the shoulder and jerked her head towards the group. The old man looked to his companion sitting next to him, but the young sailor could only shrug in confusion. Vicki sighed and gestured to herself, then gestured to the spot where the old man was sitting. They caught on then and the two men burst into laughter. Vicki rolled her eyes and jerked her thumb at the refugees again. The old man, still laughing, shrugged and slid away so that Vicki could take his place. As soon as she grasped hold of the oar she found herself struggling to hold on. The man next to her was rowing so powerfully that Vicki couldn't do much except hold tight. The sailor laughed and winked at her, which only made her grit her teeth and push the oar with all her might. She doubted that her efforts were very helpful, but the sailors all seemed to be delighted and amused by her efforts, at any rate. After a couple hours the old man returned and Vicki gratefully relinquished her spot, her arms so tight with pain that she thought they might fall off.
Even if she was useless, she wasn't going to stop trying.
Vicki let out a strangled gasp, completely uncaring about the fact that she couldn't breathe. She was too riveted by the sight of Troïlos's brown, beautiful eyes. It was true that he had been slowly improving, but It had been days since he had last awoke and suddenly Vicki was kissing him. On his mouth, his forehead, the bridge of his nose. Troïlos gave out a small huff for laughter and Vicki pulled off of him, grinning from ear to ear. "Χρυσηΐς," he said. It was that word again, but now Vicki finally knew what it meant and she smiled. It was her name: Khrysēís. To think that the TARDIS had translated it as Cressida!
Troïlos was awake, the skies had cleared, and there was land! Finally, things were beginning to look up. Brisēís came over and patted her shoulder, indicating that the ship had docked and the others were disembarking. Vicki kissed him one last time and he squeezed her fingers before letting her go, closing his eyes and drifting off once again. His sleep was more natural than it was before though and Vicki reluctantly pulled herself away to follow her companion. She didn't want to leave him now, but she needed to get off this ship and join the others. She knew they had landed in some sort of port, but not where or why. Were they picking up supplies? Were they stopping for good? The Trojans had just lost their home and they would of course be looking for a new place to live. It had been a long time ago, but Vicki had read The Aeneid. She knew that Aineías was supposed to be the founder of the great Roman civilization in Italy. She wondered if there was any truth to that old epic poem.
Vicki followed Brisēís out of the ship and stood looking dumbfounded at the port before her. Wherever she was, it wasn't what she thought it would be. She had been expecting to see buildings like the Parthenon or the Trojan palace, but what she found looked a lot like those reconstructions she had once seen in the British museum of ancient Celtic villages. There was no city, no real port, just a harbor and a primitive-looking marketplace. In the distance she could see a hill with fortifications carved into the sides. At the top, there were little stone huts with smoke streaming out of small holes in the roof. This place hardly looked like Italy, though; she hoped that Aineías wasn't thinking of settling here in this primitive little village of all places. "Audentis Fortuna iuuat," Vicki muttered disparagingly as she eyed the muddy trails and dirty huts.
"A fellow countrywoman! What are you doing here of all places?"
Vicki looked up, startled, at the man standing there in front of her, grinning like he was happy just to see her. It took her a moment for her brain to realize that she could understand the words he was saying. It was Latin; not quite the Latin she had studied in school, but still something she could decipher. "You have no idea how good it is to actually talk to someone who can understand you," she breathed out and he laughed. Brisēís stared at the two in amazement; her English had not resembled any known language to the Trojans so it must have been quite a shock to see that not everyone found her to be completely unintelligible!
"My name is Vitus," he introduced to himself. He was a young man, possibly in his late twenties, with thick black hair and a full beard. "I'm a merchant, myself, so I travel to all sorts of places but I never would have expected to find a Latin woman in Thrace, and in the company of Trojans no less! Say, your dialect is a little funny. Are you a Sicel?"
She edged around the question. "Oh, I come from a small tribe. This is Thrace? It's so... different than what I had expected."
He gave her a funny look. "Really?"
"Well, I heard the Thracians worshipped Ares, I just thought they would be more Greek." She remembered that Homer had stated in The Iliad that the Thracians were allies of the Trojans and the Trojans themselves weren't all that different from the Greeks.
"Oh, no," he laughed. "The Thracians are proper barbarians, like the Celts."
Vicki chuckled weakly. "Yes, those Celts... so barbaric... Anyway, my name is Vicki. Or, well, the Trojans call me Khrysēís, if you prefer."
"Vicki? Is that short for Victoria, like the goddess?"
Vicki scowled. She hated it when people got that wrong. "No. Just Vicki."
He held up his hands. "Sorry, my mistake. What are you doing traveling with a bunch of Trojans anyway? I thought they were all still fighting that damn war of theirs."
"The war is over. Troy was sacked. I was... a guest of King Priam's. He had invited me to his palace for... my advice," she said carefully.
He looked at her, confused by that. "I'm not sure what you mean by that. What could he possibly need your advice for?"
Vicki struggled to come up with a good answer when she had the most wonderful idea. Or the worst, she supposed, but, as Virgil said, Fortune favors the bold. "You've never heard of me?" She asked imperiously. "I am a seer."
The man smiled and shook his head. "I don't believe that."
"No? I'm traveling with Aineías, son of Ankīsēs and the goddess Aphrodite. I have foreseen that he will lead the Trojans to Italy where we will found a great empire that will span across the world. It is my destiny to help him achieve it."
"Do you really believe that?" He asked, staring at her intently.
Vicki smiled. She didn't know if Aineías had a plan for his little band of refugees, but Vicki wasn't going to spend the rest of her life barely scrapping by in place like this. She knew that the ancient past would be hard compared to her old life, but if she had the choice she would take a palace over a hut. "Yes, but I'm afraid I can't speak the language. Will you help me?"
Chapter 3: Book III
Aineías slowly seated himself before King Polymestor's fire. His armor, which he had worn like a second skin, suddenly felt unbearably heavy. The chair was hard and uncomfortable, but he could already feel his eyelids drifting closed. All he wanted was to sleep for a month.
A hand suddenly fell upon his shoulder. Aineías wrenched his eyes open, his heart leaping into his throat. The man before him was no Greek soldier, however, but King Polmestor smiling kindly down at him."I am glad to see you alive," the old man said. "I just received word yesterday that Troy had fallen. I was worried that the Greeks had killed you all."
"Not all," Aineías admitted. "They killed King Príamos, most his children, enslaved his wife, Queen Hekábē, and his daughter, Kassandra. The only members of the Trojan royal family to have escaped destruction is Troïlos and, of course, Polydoros."
King Polymestor shook his head sadly. "Poor boy. Polydoros has been on a hunting trip these last few days. He doesn't even know that Troy has been sacked yet. But never mind about that. What you need is food and rest. We can talk after you've been seen too."
"Troïlos is still onboard the ship. He was gravely injured and-"
"Stop worrying," the King commanded. "I will send my slave, Eutropios, to fetch him." He gestured to where a blond, stern-looking man was standing behind him. A barbarian if Aineías ever saw one. "Now, please, go and rest. Your family is waiting for you."
Aineías nodded and slowly pulled himself up from his chair. He felt old. He wanted to curl up and lay his head Kreousa's lap, let her fingers run through his hair and comfort him with soft words. That would never happen though, never again. His wife was dead. Gods, he hoped she was dead. If she wasn't then the Greeks would soon make her wish she was. Aineías exited King Polymestor's fortress and looked out from the great mound onto the marketplace below. A crowd had begun to form and Aineías squinted through the bright sunlight to see just what the commotion was all about.
He saw Troïlos's foreign bride, Khrúsēs, at the center of the crowd, spouting something in a language he could not understand. There was a man next to her, another foreigner by the looks of him, translating. He couldn't hear what was being said, but the people looked upon them with awe. Aineías could feel his blood beginning to boil. For such a young, sweet-looking girl, she managed to enrage him in a way that few others could. Troïlos was his cousin and, therefore, his wife was afforded the same respect as any other member of his family. He honored the gods by treating Khrúsēs as though she were his own sister. But she was still a foreigner and a woman. She should honor him the way he honored her. Instead, Khrúsēs wandered the ship as though it were her own, babbled insistently in that harsh, grating language of hers, and hung around the men as though she were nothing more than a whore. Her one saving grace was her devotion to Troïlos; if not for that, he would have killed her for being an adulterer. No woman, especially no married woman, should behave in the way she did.
And now she was causing a disturbance in a city that had offered them protection and refuge. Of course. Aineías wasn't even surprised.
Instead of heading towards where his family was waiting, Aineías headed down toward the marketplace to stop Khrúsēs from causing any more trouble. As he approached the people stepped back and looked up at him in amazement, as though he was Zeus descended from on high. Aineías glanced nervously at their rapturous faces, before turning his gaze to Khrúsēs.
She smiled up at him. He wanted to punch her.
"Brisēís," he commanded and the beautiful, dark-haired woman that had been hiding behind her mistress stepped forward. Brisēís had once been a proper Trojan noblewoman until the Greeks had captured her. A good woman, a woman with honor, would have killed herself before bringing shame to her family, but Brisēís had willingly slept with the Greeks to save her own skin, first as Ackilleus's whore and then as Agamemnon's. She was no longer a Trojan, but a Greek dog. Instead of shunning her like a proper woman, however, Khrúsēs had befriended her and protected her. What person in their right mind would fight for a creature such as Brisēís? Not only that, but Khrúsēs had attacked and emasculated two of Aineías's most loyal soldiers over a whore. Aineías had almost beaten Khrúsēs within an inch of her life there and then. He could have killed her, but he didn't. He had shown her mercy; Troïlos had lost so much already, he would not take his wife as well even if she didn't deserve him. Besides, even her simple barbarian brain was able to understand that he was the master of his ship. He even magnanimously gave Brisēís to her as a slave; it was not meant as an award, but it would keep Khrúsēs quiet and the peace between his crew. "What is going on here?" He demanded.
"Perhaps I can explain," the foreign man standing next Khrúsēs offered. "My name is Vitus. I'm a merchant from Ardea, and these people," he gestured to the crowd. "Are your devoted followers."
Aineías could only stare in confusion. "My what?"
"Khrúsēs told me that she was a great seer, that even King Príamos's had been impressed with her prophecies." Vitus smiled and shrugged. "I didn't believe it at first, but I have to admit the future she describes is so wonderful and detailed it's almost as if she had physically been there, a wanderer between times."
Deep breaths, Aineías commanded. He needed to stay calm. "And what exactly has she been saying?"
"That you are the son of Aphrodite and that you will found a great Empire in Italy."
"She said what?" He hissed. "My mother... I..." He had heard the rumors from some of his crew. That Khrúsēs truly had been invited into Príamos's court because of her prophetic abilities, but he hadn't believed it. They also said that she had spoken the language just fine until the fall of Troy, when she had suddenly been struck dumb. The whole thing was ludicrous. This only proved it. His mother had been an Assyrian named Astarte, a singular woman whom he had loved dearly, but a mortal nonetheless. "Take her to my father," he told Brisēís. "Make sure she stays there. I will deal with this later." The woman nodded and rushed to obey, gently guiding her mistress through the crowd.
"Surely you have accepted your destiny," Vitus reproached. "If the gods command-"
"The gods have told me nothing! I will not be a party to this blasphemy!" Aineías turned his back on the crowd and began to make his way out of the marketplace.
"The gods don't always speak in a language mortals can understand!" Vitus called out to the retreating soldier. Aineías did not bother to reply.
Vicki carefully peeked inside the sickhouse, hoping Troïlos was asleep. He wasn't. Troïlos was looking at her with an expression that spoke of his disappointment and betrayal. She knew that he had heard about her little prophecy. "It's no use looking at me like that," she said, even though it was futile. "I'm doing this for us."
The doctor looked between them and although he didn't know what was being said, he knew by the tension in the air that it would be better to step out. As soon as he gone, Vicki went over and laid down beside him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders as she buried her face into his neck. He remained tense, however, his arms stiff by his sides. "I know you blame me for what happened to Troy, but there was nothing I could do. Troy's fate couldn't be changed. But, you see, I'm not changing the past with Aineías because all of this has already happened. I'm only telling him what he's supposed to do."
Troïlos didn't even acknowledge her. Vicki sighed and closed her eyes, trying to fall asleep.
Vicki woke with her heart thundering and her eyes wild with fear. She thought she had heard a scream. She glanced around the little hut, but it was pitch black and silent. Maybe it had only been a dream, a memory of the fall of Troy. Vicki groped for Troïlos, but her hands grasped only blankets. He was gone.
"Troïlos!" She called out, sitting up and trembling with worry. A hand suddenly clamped across her mouth and there was Troïlos leaning in close, his face white and ashen with pain.
He put his finger to his lips, a command for her to keep silent. He pulled away from her to finish putting on his armor and Vicki could see his whole body shake with the effort it took just to stand upright. Vicki immediately jumped to her feet and began to help him, pulling the straps closed and fastening his scabbard to his belt. She barely had time to finish the last knot when they heard the sounds of heavy footfalls outside their hut.
For a moment, she thought it might be Aineías, but then she caught sight of the gleam of a sword being raised in the pale moonlight. Troïlos pushed her away, knocking her down, and rammed a short knife into their assailant. Troïlos didn't even wait for the body to fall to the ground before he was grabbing hold of her and pulling her out into the village. At first, it seemed as though all was quiet and calm. Then she saw Brisēís run out of a hut, screaming, while a Thracian guard chased her.
Brisēís's screams managed to wake the rest of the villagers and she saw Trojans and Thracians alike stumbling out of their huts to discover the commotion. It didn't take long for the situation to descend into absolute chaos. Troïlos turned to Vicki and gripped her face, making sure she saw him point at the ship. Vicki scowled; she really wished he would stop doing that. If she ran away every time he told her to, he'd be dead now. Was it too much to ask for a little gratitude? Honestly, if anyone should be taking refuge in the ship it was Troïlos, someone who should not even be on his feet to begin with. Vicki shook her head stubbornly and Troïlos rolled his eyes. He gave her the small dagger then and unsheathed his sword before rushing towards the fortress where Aineías was staying. Vicki remained by his side, a hand constantly on his arm to steady him.
Vicki turned her head to see Vitus running towards them. With Troïlos injured as he was, he easily overtook the pair. "What's going on?" He asked.
"No idea. Here, help me. Take hold of Troïlos's other arm, will you?"
Troïlos frowned in irritation and quickly pulled his arm away, glancing between the two of them with a look of shock and hurt at the easy way they were able to communicate.
"Stop being so proud and let him help!" Vicki chided. Troïlos didn't understand the words, but he knew the tone. When Vitus next took hold he didn't pull away.
By the time they reached the fortress they found Aineías standing over the Thracian king, sword in hand. The king was on his knees and cowering before the soldier, stuttering out some sort of explanation. All of a sudden, Troïlos wrenched himself free, stalking towards the Thracian like a man possessed, his face white and stony with pure rage.
Vicki had never been afraid of Troïlos before, but looking at him then she couldn't help but shrink back in fear.
"What is going? What are they saying?" Vicki whispered.
Vitus glanced at her, his eyes sad and afraid. "Apparently, King Príamos sent his youngest child, Polydoros, to King Polymestor to keep him safe during the war. The two kings were good friends, you see. When Polymestor heard that Troy had been sacked, he killed Polydoros in hopes that it would ingratiate him with the Greeks. He was worried that the Greeks would target Príamos's allies now that they had won the war."
Vicki could only watch with horror as Troïlos embedded his sword into the face of his brother's murderer.