Title: "Cassander's Campaign"Author: Baliansword
Chronicled to: "The Persian Campaign" and "The First Campaign"
Chapter: 1, "As the King Lay Dying"
A/N: This story chronicles Cassander's views of Hephaestion as a child, and as they grew into men in Alexander's life, up until the day that Hephaestion died. It begins with Cassander at his king's deathbed. He has flashbacks to his life with both the king, and with Hephaestion. Since this is the first chapter, it will throw you around just a little. Yet, starting in chapter two, there will be a chronological order –starting as they leave Persia, which is where "The Persian Campaign" left off before Hephaestion's death. In later chapters it will conclude with the truth about Alexander's death, as well as what Cassander did shortly after the king's passing. As always, thank you for all of my reviewers, and for those going to review. If there is anything you need, please contact me, and I promise to write you back as soon as I can. Enjoy!
Shadows lined the entire room. There were only a few candles lit around the bed upon which Alexander lay so that he could be viewed. It was as if he had become some statue in his illness for all to view. There was no air in the room. It had all been sucked away at by those that surrounded him. Looking around Cassander watched the expressions of those that entered the room, passed the bed, and then left from the opposite side of the room. Some were grieving, yet he could see that others did not care as much as they pretended to. Like many that were closest to Alexander's bed now, they wanted to know what would happen to the empire this great man had built. It was still unknown and Alexander could no longer speak to tell them the name they wanted to hear.
Interesting, how they had gone from being civilized men to a pack of wolves, clawing at him for answers that he would not give. In such a short time they'd stopped worrying for him and wishing him a recovery. Now all that was wanted of him was a name before he died. It was on all of their faces, grief mixed with hope that Alexander would grant them the empire. None of the closest men surrounding him believed that he would recover. They all knew the effects of poison. Yet there was one man that was different from all of the rest of those that surrounded. There was a slight hint of sorrow in his eyes, remorse being a better word for it, as he stared at the sickened king. He knew the effects of poison far better than any of these other men that only knew it would take a man and leave him dead just a few days later.
These others were only seeing this poison work its way into the heart of a man. Never before had they seen the effects. They had never sat and held the hand of a man that was dying from it. Even now, only Bagoas was brave enough to take Alexander's hand from time to time. Not even the man standing furthest away, with sorrow in his heart, would come close and take Alexander's hand. He had before held the hand of another that had been brought to his demise from the poison that now gripped Alexander's heart. The king took in a sudden breath and those surrounding him leaned closer.
Cassander, on the other hand, knew that it was a useless movement. Alexander did not give a name. He was only struggling for breath. Hephaestion had done the same when Cassander had held his hand as he slept, long before Alexander came. How would he ever have redemption, knowing that he'd let Hephaestion die? There had been nothing he could do for Hephaestion, as he could now do nothing to save Alexander. Cassander glanced down at the floor, taking his eyes off of the king, and thought for a moment of Hephaestion.
He could still feel his breath against his neck, the touch of his lips against his own, and he could still see those vividly cerulean blue eyes. Cassander found himself unable to breathe as he thought about Hephaestion. There had been so many things about him that he had loved. Yet among all of these, he loved perhaps most about Hephaestion's his refusal to give up. Never had he let Alexander down, never had he said he'd not follow him further, and never had he stopped loving the man behind the king. Yet, he'd never stopped loving Cassander either. Even as he was dying, he'd told Cassander to be strong for him, refusing to give himself to the gods so soon. It was a vain arrogance though.
No, perhaps he had only been waiting, as Cassander had for the last year dreamt about. Hephaestion had let go only after Alexander came to him. The life had suddenly been taken from him the moment Alexander had turned away from him. Cassander bit his tongue as he thought about it. Telling him a story, Alexander had turned away from him, and Hephaestion had died. It was ironic, that a story should have killed him, for the myth Alexander had woven for them usually pulled Hephaestion through everything. From the moment that Cassander had been standing on the balcony, and he'd suddenly felt like the world had changed, he had known that Hephaestion had left this world. In that moment he let go all alliances he'd ever had, and all vows, including most importantly those that he'd given to Alexander.
He couldn't trust the king any longer and would no longer be a friend to him. Alexander had neglected the one thing that he should have cherished, as Cassander cherished him. He had openly hated Alexander from that day onward. Even now as the king lay dying, as his childhood friend lay dying, he hated him with every ounce of blood in his body. As he stood there thinking, Alexander took another pained breath, and again men leaned closer. Cassander glanced up, and saw that Alexander's eyes met with his and his alone. The king had tried to rise but then fell back. Still, Cassander glared back at him with hatred, and still Alexander would kill him if he had the chance. Lucky enough for Cassander, the king would not rise from that deathbed again.
He rolled his eyes as Hephaestion shook his head again. This time he shook it furiously. Hephaestion then backed away from the rocky cliffs. Still keeping his eyes on the other, he once again shook his head. Cassander threw up a hand at him, and then a shrug. Alexander stood in front of them, peering over the edge, but Hephaestion wasn't going to push him. Cassander glared at him and took a step forward. Hephaestion's eyes grew wider and he grabbed Cassander's arm and jerked it back. Cassander actually hissed at him, causing Alexander to turn around.
"What do you think," the twelve-year-old prince asked. He'd been debating for some time now whether or not he would be able to survive the jump. If he could make it past the rocky cliffs that broke the dark blue hued waves he knew that he would survive. What had been concerning him was what could be submerged. Yet he didn't say this to the two behind him.
"Don't Alexander," Hephaestion pleaded, but kept his voice firm at the same time. He was perfectly aware that Cassander was smirking at him, laughing at him for being so protective. It didn't matter though. It was far better to be laughed at and have Alexander alive than let Cassander have his way and have Alexander dead. "If there are jagged rocks you cannot see you may hit one, and being dead won't do you any good."
"No," Cassander continued before Alexander could take in Hephaestion's plea and turn around. "Being dead would only mean that we'd have to try to drag you back. But there are no submerged rocks. Just water. I say you should do it."
"Of come off it Hephaestion. Alexander will be fine. You worry too much. Why can't you just relax for once and let the rest of us have some fun."
"I don't see you jumping," Hephaestion said under his breath. Cassander still heard it though. With Alexander's back turned he wasn't afraid to reach over and shove Hephaestion. The blue eyed boy was caught off guard and stumbled, nearly falling to the ground. Hephaestion threw him a glance but Alexander was turning so he could do nothing else.
"I think we should do it," Alexander stated, making up his mind. Already he had added Cassander and Hephaestion to the plan. Cassander only smirked when he saw Hephaestion's frown. Yet he then sighed, knowing that Alexander would not jump if Hephaestion refused to.
"I'll go first," Cassander told the two of them. They were having another one of their silent moments. They could speak to one another without saying a word, just reading each other's expressions, and seeing through one another's eyes. Alexander and Hephaestion both turned to him. He approached the ledge and looked over. With a running start he'd clear the cliffs and any that would be submerged. Or at least he hoped that would be the case.
"Cassander," Hephaestion said through gritted teeth. It was a warning. Cassander only glanced over at him and shrugged again. He then walked further from the ledge and Alexander pulled Hephaestion to the side with him. Cassander ran, and took a deep breath as he leapt from the cliff. Then, as he flew through the air, he closed his eyes. The next thing he remembered was looking up at cerulean eyes.
"What did I tell you," Hephaestion asked as he pressed a hand to Cassander's shoulder. Cassander turned his head and looked at the bloody cloak that Hephaestion pressed against his shoulder. He could not see the wound beneath, but he felt nothing in his right arm. Judging by this fact he knew that the wound must be rather serious. Cassander tried to focus on Hephaestion, but saw two of him, and he was swirling in circles. He blinked a few times but it did not help him at all.
Cassander heard the waves crashing against the cliffs and jagged rock. He turned his head in the other direction and saw the ledge he'd jumped from. He then felt the warm sand beneath him. His mind swirled again and he began to cough. Instinctively Hephaestion grabbed him by the shoulders and gently pulled him up. With a hand he pulled Cassander's hair back and held it, turning him to the left, and away from him as he did so. Cassander coughed again, this time vomiting as he did so. He felt odd, having Hephaestion holding him, and throwing up at the same time. With a hand he tried to push Hephaestion away but the other was not effected by his attempt. Instead Hephaestion only cursed softly.
"Why must you be so stubborn? I tried to tell you Cassander. Why can't you listen to me," Hephaestion said as he placed Cassander back down on the sand. The younger boy again turned to look at his shoulder. Sighing Hephaestion pulled Alexander's cloak away and let Cassander see the gash on his shoulder. Clearly he had struck a rock, a rather pointed rock. Hephaestion put the cloak back over the wound. "See?"
"Fine," he coughed. "You were right. Now stop screaming at me."
"I'm not screaming," Hephaestion replied. It was the truth too. He was talking rather softly knowing that Cassander would have a headache. The small gash above his brow was not the worry though. It had begun to stop bleeding and was not nearly as deep. Hephaestion glanced at the head wound once more. There was still sand in the gore but he couldn't do anything about it now. He'd only dared try to wash the sand away with the salt water when Cassander was unconscious. Now, he would have to fight with him, and it wasn't worth it to him.
"Where is Alexander?"
"He went to get help?"
Cassander thought for a moment. He then let out a deep sigh. Alexander would no doubt run into the council to get his father Philip. Not to mention that Antipiter and Amyntor would be there too. It could cause a huge scene and the fathers of the three would come. They would act concerned, but behind closed doors, they would all receive at least a lashing. If they were in Pella they may only get scolded. But being so foolish, and in Greece, that would definitely earn them a lashing.
"He should have waited," Cassander told the one above him.
"You shouldn't have jumped."
"Hmm," Cassander mumbled. Once again the world spun around him and this time he knew when the world went black. After some time Cassander felt the world fall away and he didn't think he'd be coming back. Yet, he awoke, to the same blue eyes. Not to mention that Alexander looked at him too now. "What are you looking at?"
"Cassander," Alexander whispered as he leaned closer to him so that only he could hear him. Not even Hephaestion would hear these words, now, or in the future. "I wouldn't have jumped."
Cassander only laughed at that. Of course Alexander wouldn't have jumped. He had Hephaestion to hold him back. Yet, Cassander was on a mission to impress Hephaestion. It was foolish, he knew, especially now that he lay injured in Greece with his friends staring down at him. Foolish, but it was the only thing that kept him hoping. Alexander may be Achilles, and he could call Hephaestion his Patroclaus all he liked. However, Cassander knew that Hephaestion was not Patroclaus. Hephaestion was his very own god.
Thoughts like these had plagued him since Hephaestion's death. But as he saw Alexander lying on the bed, fever claiming his mind, they troubled him all the more. Cassander boldly came closer and stared at Alexander as he approached. He made it past a great many men that let him do so. They knew that Cassander was not one to anger in a time like this. They also knew that Cassander had been Alexander's friend from childhood, his general, and they knew that Alexander would want him to be close to him. Alexander continued to gaze at him as he approached and Cassander did not mind slitting his eyes even further. Through the poison, Alexander thought that Cassander looked like a snake.
Cassander stopped, standing next to Bagoas. Others looked at him, thinking he would speak, but Cassander said nothing. So the interest in staring soon left and others looked away. When they did Cassander let a smile reach the corner of his lips. Alexander saw this, and averted his eyes. Cassander turned his head and looked at Bagoas. The Persian did not look at him, but Cassander whispered to him as he walked away from Alexander's side. Bagoas heard the words, even if no other did. They chilled him.
"Where will you go," the Macedonian whispered, "when your shield is gone? I would like to think perhaps you could do me the honor you've done him."
Bagoas glanced at him without turning his head. Cassander still had the same upturned smile, which was hidden from all others. The Macedonian stopped and leaned down. He planned to whisper more to him, even if others saw, because he did not care. Anything he said to the Persian would be kept between the two of them. The Persian would never repeat the words to others, for they would only get him killed faster.
"Years ago," he whispered in an iced tone, "you may have been right, little one. You should have killed me then."
With that Cassander returned to a spot further away from Alexander's side. He leaned against a pillar, shadows hiding the side of his face. Bagoas looked into Alexander's eyes and knew that he too had heard Cassander's last statement. It showed on his face as a tear slid down his cheek. Everything was falling apart, and Hephaestion was no longer there to comfort Alexander, nor was there one to support the king. He had only the hysteria in his mind, swirling, and forcing his eyes closed he fell into a deep sleep once again. All the while, Cassander smiled in the hidden realm of shadows. The king was slipping, but nightmares called memories still plagued his mind.
It was not hard to watch him. He held the goblet in his hand but had not yet touched it. His hair was shining in the light of the candles and made him look magnificent to any eye. Yet, if he were to turn, the look would leave. It was not his face that would cause others to find his beauty lesser. It was the gloss that covered his eyes that would make one stop their approach of him. He was beautiful but at the same time there was an incurable pain within his eyes. No longer did he try to hide it. Alexander had just stopped noticing it. Cassander on the other hand would not let Hephaestion stand alone. He approached him, unafraid, and took a place next to him. Cassander drank from his own cup and finished the contents. Hephaestion glanced away from the dancing Persians and reached for Cassander's cup. Cassander handed it to him freely and Hephaestion poured his wine into it. He then gave it back to Cassander.
Cassander glanced at Bagoas, the Persian eunuch, who was dancing for Alexander and his Queen. It was so odd. They were in the middle of a jungle and Alexander wanted to be entertained. Ridiculous. After a moment Cassander looked back at Hephaestion, who'd not spent a moment alone with Alexander in a month. Reaching over, Cassander put a hand on Hephaestion's arm. Hephaestion immediately relaxed and leaned a little closer to Cassander. He then looked over, eyes glistening with tears, tears that no other saw.
"Would you like to go," Cassander asked him. He planned to take him back to his tent with him. There he could comfort him. Yet, Hephaestion shook his head, as Cassander knew that he would. He would not leave Alexander unattended. "Hephaestion, there are others here for him."
"I know," he agreed. "Yet I trust none of them. Neither do you Cassander. Look at them all, how they surround him. They would all stab him in the back."
"Which one do you hate the most," Cassander asked, laughing quietly as he did. Hephaestion shrugged. But Cassander followed his eyes. It was clear that he hated Bagoas the most. Roxanne he understood, but he did not understand Alexander's love for Bagoas. At first he thought that the relationship would end when they left Persia, but when he looked back, Bagoas was on the move with the rest of the army. Cassander only sipped his wine to stop himself from laughing. "I suppose he is rather flexible. Perhaps that is the reason."
"You don't help," he replied flatly.
"I was trying to anger you so that you would come back to my tent with me," Cassander admitted in a playful tone. But he didn't have to. The music faded away and Alexander rose. He went to Bagoas, and as he always did, he met the boy with a kiss. It was a sign of unison between his Macedonian and Persian army. However, to those that knew him best, it was a stab in the heart. Even Cassander felt this one, or perhaps he just felt the pain radiating from Hephaestion, but either way it burned.
"Let's go," Hephaestion said immediately. That was all that it took. Cassander walked away with him. Luckily Cassander had been wise enough to set his tent far away from the festivities. It was dark by his tent, except for a dim light that glowed from within the tent. Cassander pulled the flap open and Hephaestion entered the tent silently. When Cassander entered the tent Hephaestion was already lying on the fur makeshift bed. He stared up at nothing, perhaps looking for the stars he loved so much. Cassander came and lay down beside him, wrapping his arms around him. Soon after tears slid from Hephaestion's eyes. "Sometimes I wish that I could leave, for just a small amount of time, and then come back. As I used to, when he sent me on errands."
"Because he noticed me when I came back."
"Phae, he still loves you," Cassander told him as he propped himself up with an elbow and looked down at Hephaestion. Hephaestion turned his head slightly and stared up at him. Cassander began to run his fingers over Hephaestion's face. He'd stopped shaving, and dark hair covered his chin. It was soft for a beard though, and Cassander liked feeling it against his fingers. But most of all he liked to trace over his lips with his fingers, lightly sending tingles through Hephaestion's body, until Hephaestion bit at his finger playfully. Cassander only smiled down at him. "That hurt."
"Let me make it up then," Hephaestion said as he tilted his head and met Cassander's eager lips. Once again Cassander felt as if it were the first time. He took all of Hephaestion's mouth with his and delved into his depths with his tongue, tempting Hephaestion to do the same. Hephaestion's tongue fought with Cassander's for a moment, trying to win dominance, but he didn't really want it and gave up. Cassander kissed him still, then sucked and nipped at his lower lip. After a moment there was a sudden crash from the festive. Cassander drew back, but for the first time, Hephaestion was not concerned with Alexander. Instead he reached up and put a hand behind Cassander's neck. He pulled him back down to him, kissing him, and wrapping a leg around him. It was pure bliss, and for once, Cassander held all of Hephaestion's heart in his hand.
It was over. Cassander was no longer smirking though. The sorrow was back in his eyes. He watched as the ring fell to the ground, the dark amber stone clanging against the floor. Lifting a foot, Cassander stopped the ring from bouncing further. As all others stood in shock and awe he picked up the ring and held it in his palm. Silently he stood with the others, and then there was an outburst. One man called that Alexander had spoken his name. Another said it was false, that it was his name. Cassander was the most likely to claim the throne, but he said nothing. Instead his eyes met with Bagoas, who looked over his shoulder, and the Persian let a tear roll down his cheek. Coldness claimed his heart, and Cassander shrugged at him.
"To the strongest."
These were the king's last words. Cassander knew what this meant when no others did. He looked down at the ring in his palm. Silently, he slid it on his finger and then met Bagoas' eyes again. As the fighting broke out Cassander shoved those that came close to him. Yet, for the most part, he was not worried. He already knew that the empire would be divided and would fall. This, he had decided, was the best thing.
A/N: As I have stated above, things will begin chronologically in the next chapter. This is just to get your minds working! Please don't hate me too much. The style will change back to my regular writing. So please review if you have the chance and look forward to the next chapter!