Prologue

The black hull of the ship slices through the inky-black waves. A young girl of fifteen-the only female on the ship-stands on the deck, accompanied by her mentor, the centaur Cheiron. The girl-Apolla, by name, daughter of the god Apollo and a mortal woman named Archamine- stares into the dark night. She shivers, and Cheiron places a shawl around her shoulders. "Apolla, come below deck where it's warmer." She shakes her head. "No. I want to be the first to see the enemy country." Cheiron sighs. "You've been speaking with that Achilles again. I've told you, the Trojans are not our enemies. This 'war' has been blown completely out of proportion because Menelaus can't stand the thought of that Helen leaving him. Agamemnon told him not to marry her, but he didn't listen." He looks at Apolla. "The nerve of that woman, leaving behind her young daughter. And for what? Some silly infatuation." Apolla turns her face away, towards the lightening eastern sky. "Why did you do it? Stand up for me, when Achilles said I couldn't fight? You didn't even want to bring me." Cheiron places a hand on her shoulder. "I brought you because it was your father's wish. Who am I to refuse a God? Achilles is in no position to do so either-no matter who his mother may be." Apolla nods, and suddenly points. "Look, I can see Troy from here!"

The fierce battle rages around her. Apolla deafens herself to the battle cries and moves towards her target, the young prince of Troy himself. Hector turns, warily watching the young soldier (unaware of the fact that he is watching a woman) and draws his sword. Apolla attacks, causing Hector to retreat to the defensive immediately. Apolla attacks, Hector counters. "You fight well, for a Greek," he calls over the roar of the fray. Apolla nods. "Likewise, Trojan." Hector pauses, giving Apolla a slight advantage. He recovers quickly, countering causing Apolla to roll away, knocking off her helmet. Hector pales, but recovers, catching Apolla off guard and slicing a deep wound into her sword arm. She grimaces and switched her sword to the other hand. She begins a savage attack, but Hector dodges under her swing and plunges a dagger into her stomach. She freezes and falls. Hector catches her. "Not dead," he mutters. He loads her limp body onto his chariot, and then motions his troops into a retreat. Achilles calls back the Grecian troops and does a quick head count before the healers are released to do their work. He frowns. "Agamemnon, where is that Apolla?" They both search, and then the realization hits them. She's gone. Achilles turns to Agamemnon. "She's been captured. What do we tell the centaur?"

Chapter One

Ten years later

Apolla stood on the wall, watching the sun setting. She sighed, remembering how she had first come to Troy. So young and inexperienced, she'd inherited her father's stubborn streak, and insisted upon being allowed to fight. Cheiron had been unable to refuse. She'd been captured in the first battle, and remained a prisoner for several months, before Andromache, wife of Hector, Merrick, the youngest Trojan prince, Helen and her father, Apollo himself, had gotten involved, first having her moved to a more comfortable room, then negotiating a type of release. She was free, so long as she remained inside the walls of Troy. She hadn't refused. She stood on the wall often, watching the battle, cheering for Hectors troops like every other Trojan, but, in the most secret part of her heart, willing the Gods to protect her friends on the Greek lines. Today, her mind wandered back to the first months, before anyone had tried to help her.

Ten years earlier

Apolla blinks several times, trying to rid herself of the haze around her. She tries to sit up, but a rough, calloused pushes her back gently. "Don't try to move. You'll only make that wound worse." She stares through the dim room, barely making out Hector. "Wh-why am I here? Why are you caring for me, and where am I?" Hector chuckles softly. "Inquisitive, aren't you? Don't speak. You need your rest. You are in the citadel of Troy. I am caring for you because you are a war prize, and it really does me no good for you to be dead." Apolla frowns. "War prize? As in, hostage?" Hector nods, "Yes. You are a hostage. You will be returned to your people safely, so long as they meet our conditions. Either they surrender, or they manage to defeat us." Apolla continues to frown. "And if they refuse surrender, and lose." Hector's face almost seems to fall. "If they lose, you remain here. My brother Deiphobus has already taken a liking to you. You'll marry him." Apolla cocks her head to the right. "Why do you seem unhappy about that?" Hector flushes. "Because that would be the same as torturing you! Deiphobus is awful when it comes to treating a woman properly!" He leans in closer to Apolla. "Between you and I, I think Deiphobus prefers men to women. His last wife was…but that is not a tale you are yet old enough to hear. Now, get some rest. I must leave, but I'll send Andromache down to you shortly."

Ten years later

Apolla looked up in surprise as Merrick joined her on the wall. She sighed and relaxed as her fiancé placed his arm around her shoulder. He smiled. "Beautiful, isn't it? Phoebus Apollo has really outdone himself." Apolla nodded. "Yes. My father has started trying too hard." Merrick laughed, and then his face grew serious. "You shouldn't stand on the walls. Those bastard Greeks…" He caught himself. "I'm sorry. I'd almost forgotten." Apolla smiled, leaning against him. "You're forgiven." She sighed. "Let's go inside. You do have a point. Achilles is not above attacking innocent women standing on a wall." Merrick chuckled. "Alright." He stroked her hair. "I'm glad you chose me over Deiphobus. I really am." Apolla smiled. "I know."

Chapter Two

Ten years earlier, in the palace of Apollo

"This is an outrage!" Apollo screams, angry. His sister Artemis nods. "Brother, calm down. Yelling is helping nothing. Have you spoken with Chresis?" "Yes!" Apollo snaps. Artemis frowns. "Deep breaths, dear brother." Apollo closes his eyes, meditating. "Yes, sister, I've spoken with Chresis. He has spoken to Priam, who will not do a thing. Chresis' daughter has been taken as Agamemnon's war prize." He turns, staring at the darkened sky. "A curse on that Helen for starting this war!" Artemis sighs. "That isn't going to help. Aphrodite acted on impulse. She always does that. Helen had no idea Menelaus would fight to get her back. If anything, blame Eris for the apple incident at Thetis' wedding." Apolla nods. "This war is a headache, I can tell you that. Zeus is right not to choose sides." Artemis chuckles. "Yet I seem to recall a certain brother of mine saying he'd defend Troy to the death and beyond." Apollo glares at her. "Not funny. Things have changed, and my daughter is part of this now. I want her returned unharmed!" Artemis rolls her eyes. "Brother, have you tried speaking to Hector, as Apolla is his hostage? Have you even been to speak with Apolla yet, to see how she's holding up?" She looks him square in the eye. "You need to go to your child. She needs you to be a father right now."

Priam's Palace

Apolla rolls over, pretending to be asleep, as she always does when Hector visits. However, she is surprised, for her visitor today is none other than Helen herself. Helen sits, stroking Apolla's hair. "Hello there, little bird." Apolla sits up. "You…You're the famous Helen. You're the reason I'm here in the first place." Helen nods. "Yes, little one." She looks Apolla over. "You can't be much other than me or Paris. What are you, 20? 21?" Apolla looks down. "15," she replies. Helen gasps. "My word, you're no more than a child! And your family?" There is a definite tremor in Apolla's voice when she answers. "My mother is dead. My father is too busy to have me underfoot. My mentor, Cheiron-perhaps you've heard of him?-is a healer for the Greek army." Her voice cracks and tears begin to fall. Helen gathers Apolla into her lap. "Ssh, it's alright, little dove. Come now, it can't be so bad. I'm sure your father and mentor are negotiating your release right now as we speak." Apolla looks up, eyes shining with tears. "My father is a god; he can't be bothered with little things like me! He has other, more important work to do! And as for Cheiron, if I know Achilles-and believe me, I do!-he'll keep this from Cheiron as long as possible. I'm completely alone in this world." Her voice lowers. "I was Hector had killed me." Helen frowns. "Do not say that. Do not tempt the fates." Apolla glares at her. "Why? I have nothing left in this world." Helen stands up angrily. "There is always something." She turns to leave. "I'll speak to Paris. He is Hector's brother. He can negotiate your release." Apolla buries her face in the pillow. "Fine. Just leave me alone."

Ten years later

Apolla sat on her bed next to Merrick, watching him sleep. She herself was restless with memories. She still missed Cheiron, of course, but it didn't quite hurt so much. During those long days, Helen would often bring down weaving and other things to keep Apolla busy. While Apolla worked, Helen would tell tales of the gods, usually of Persephone and Hades. However, she always thought back to the day her father had actually become involved, giving her back a sense of hope.

Chapter Three

Ten years earlier

Helen speaks softly to Apolla, a story of hope, the tale of how Hades had become infatuated with the beautiful Persephone. Apolla lays facedown on her bed, pretending she doesn't care, though she cares very much. Helen weaves while she speaks. Suddenly, Helen's melodic voice stops, and Apolla glances up. Helen appears to be asleep, but Apolla can tell she is not. Apollo stands a few feet off, leaning against the wall. He smiles at his daughter. "What, no hug? No 'Hello, father, I've missed you?' That is just terrific." Apolla stands up, walking cautiously over to her father. He laughs. "Has it been so long that you don't trust me? I won't bite you, you know." Apolla throws her arms around him and he hugs her back. He holds her at arms length. "How have you been holding up?" Apolla shrugs. "Been better. Helen's been helping me a lot." Apollo nods. "So I see." He glances around. "This can't be extremely comfortable." Apolla shakes her head. "It's not. Helen and Andromache have been trying their best, along with the young prince, Merrick. They've swayed Hector, but not Priam." A horrible thought crosses her mind. "What of Cheiron? Does he know I've been captured, or have Achilles and Agamemnon told him I'm dead?" Apollo sighs. "That is indeed what they've told him, though he has not-nor will not-stop hoping for the best. He is ever the optimist." Apolla nods. "Yes. He is." She sighs. "I miss him. I hate it here." Apollo frowns. "I thought they were taking care of you?" She nods. "They are. But I'm miserable. I miss Cheiron, and my friends." Apollo's eyes flash. "I've heard enough. I want to help you." He thinks a moment. "And I will. Let me speak with Priam. I shall return." He vanishes, and Apolla throws herself back onto the bed. Helen blinks. "I must have dozed off. Where were we?" Apolla smiles. "Actually, I don't want to hear of Persephone today. Today, I want to hear the story of the birth of Aphrodite, her marriage to Hephaestus." Helen nods. "Alright. Now, let's see…"

Ten years later

"Hector goes to fight Achilles!" Paris was angry, and he was not shy about letting Merrick know. Merrick sighed. "Paris, brother. Calm down. The Gods will protect him. Apollo will protect him. Am I right, Apolla?" Apolla turned, and walked over to Paris. "Yes. Paris, brother, he will be safe. I promise." Paris nodded. "Alright. I must return to Helen." As soon as Paris left, Merrick turned to Apolla. "You lied to him." Apolla shook her head. "No, dear Merrick. Hector will be safe. Achilles does not fight today. His cousin-some say his lover-Patroclus wears the golden armor. Hector will kill him." Merrick paled. "Achilles will call for his blood!" Apolla nodded. "Yes. And no one but the Gods know who will win. I've not been told." Merrick nodded. "We can hope for the best." Apolla nodded, shuddering as Merrick left the room. "Yes. But who can be sure of what the best is anymore?"