"Come, old man," Achilles said. His eyes were calm and bored, with no sign of the disgust and insolence with which he had just spoken to the man under whose banner he fought. "It's no sense dragging this out.
Triopas turned, lifted his head, and roared, in a lion-throated voice,
Thessalaniki, the men howled, their cry like a many-voiced storm, Thessalaniki! Thessalaniki!
"Thessalaniki?" Agamemnon repeated quizzically, and then with some anger, "A woman's name!"
The Thessalian army shouted and bayed like Hecate's own dogs on the hunt. The crash of spears against shield rims was deafening, and when, in the far rear of the army, a horse bearing a rider appeared, the ground itself shook with the soldiers' welcome.
The Greek army grew quiet. The men in the front ranks moved restlessly, uneasily. Agamemnon's glare stilled them instantly.
Then the front ranks of the Thessalian army split in half, and from the breach rode Thessaly's greatest warrior.
The horse was a long-legged black, half-wild by its mean eye. It ignored the lusty cheering of the soldiers surrounding it, tossing its proud head and stepping ever higher.
Riding it, legs casually splayed, was a girl. She wore a loose tunic, much like a young boy would dress, and her arms and legs were bare. Her hair was pulled loosely back, braided and gold-clasped. She wore no paint on her face and no baubles about her neck. A long, leather-wrapped sword was strapped to her back by a long strip of leather, but otherwise she was as free-limbed as a newborn babe.
Her hair was Apollo-bright gold.
Triopas—smiled. "Thessalaniki," he said, and his voice, though stern, had in it some deep-rooted affection.
She slid off the horse, tossing the lead rope to the nearest soldier. She strode up beside Triopas, sun burning in her hair, and looked up at the men standing there with bright curiosity.
The top of her head came barely to Agamemnon's chin, not even to Achilles' shoulder.
"You called?" she said to Triopas, ignoring Agamemnon and Achilles as if they weren't even there.
"It's a duel," he said, as if mentioning how beautiful the day was.
"Oh," said the girl, and yawned, revealed resplendently white and even teeth, a small pink tongue.
"Daughter," Triopas said, reprovingly.
"Sorry, Father," the girl said, a flippant tone of fresh, running water. She smiled. "I slept too late."
Her limbs were clean and graceful, muscular in the most femininely attractive way. The tunic, a boy's shirt, only stressed the curve of her hips, the full breasts with the strap of the wrapped sword running between, narrow of the waist. The top of her head came barely to Agamemnon's chin, not even to Achilles' shoulder.
"A daughter, Triopas?" Agamemnon said, both amused and annoyed. "I hadn't heard. We might be having different negotiations, had I known." The smile on his lips was cold and unpleasant.
"Skip over the Styx," the girl said lightly.
Agamemnon's mouth opened, but no sound came out. Achilles laughed, right out loud.
That was when she looked directly at him for the first time.
"You must be it," she said, and removed the strap from about her body, taking the sword from her back. With a quick hand, she pulled it free of its wrappings.
Silver metal shone like Athena's own eyes in the light.
Achilles felt his breath catch.
The girl smiled.
"Some people call me Thessalaniki," she said, and rested the flat of the sword on her slender shoulder, just beside an old scar on her neck, "because I'm the adopted daughter of the king. And I have other names, too—"
Her eyes met Achilles' and he was lost.
"But I call me Buffy."A/N: Because I did go see the movie and this was inevitable.