Rhea walked along the sandy shores, stepping out of the chilled liquids way when it approached. Soon she heard footsteps and was greeted by her father.
"Rhea, my beauty, I have news to tell you. Last night, your mother and I were visited by the king Odysseus. He told us of a wonderful opportunity for you. The great warrior, Achilles, is looking for a wife and King Odysseus believes that you would suite him perfectly. Your mother and I have agreed to oblige. You will leave in two weeks time. We must prepare you for your new life as a married woman."
Shock brushed Rhea's features.
"Father, forgive me, but I don't think I heard you correctly. Achilles? Slayer of men? The monster who sleeps on the skins of the men he has killed? Surely you wouldn't send me to such an awful man."
"Daughter, hold your tongue. This is a wonderful opportunity for you and our family. If the King says you must go, then you go. We have given you free reign for too long and now I must bring you in to be broken. You will leave and marry Achilles and this is my final word."
With that, Androcles stormed off the beach and left his daughter to wallow in sorry at the sea's edge.
Those two weeks passed by too quickly for the likes of Rhea. In that time, she had to make her wedding robe, create a gift for her new husband, and say goodbye to the land she once knew, for she may never see it again.
King Odysseus knocked at the door. Rhea, after taking a deep breath and collecting herself opened it.
"It is time," was the simple message Odysseus gave her.
Holding back tears, Rhea hugged and kissed her mother and father, fearing that this was the last time she would be in this house and the last time she would feel like a child with a wonderful family. Gathering her things, she followed Odysseus to the docks. That was when the three day journey began.
The three days were filled with worry, anger, and frustration for Rhea. Why was she not born a boy so she could stay in the country she was born in for the rest of her life, so her opinion would be heard and valued, so her life wouldn't be traded to form ties between countries?
Her eyes looked forward, not answering his question,
"Rhea, I believe I just addressed you."
Her head turned slowly, painfully dragging out the moment and showing frustration.
"Yes?" she replied shortly.
"We will be in Phtia shortly. I advise you to gather your things," King Odysseus said.
"Fine," Rhea answered with a calm nastiness.
The King only chuckled, vaguely aware of the pain that lurked beneath the beautiful surface.
Approaching the dock, Rhea looked out to see two figures standing, seeming to wait for her. Odysseus came up beside her and said "that is Patroclus and his wife, Briesis. They will be your new cousins."
"Is my husband-to-be too good to come and greet me?" Rhea sneered.
"Yes, she is a perfect match," Odysseus thought. "He must be busy at the moment, but he sent his most trusted advisors to come and meet you," the King said.
Rhea grabbed her things when they were at the dock and climbed off the boat. The woman called Briesis immediately came forward and hugged her. Stunned, Rhea slowly put her arms around the woman for an awkward hug.
"Oh, forgive me. I am Briesis. It's just that it will be so nice to have someone other than a man to talk to from now on. I am so excited for us to be friends."
The woman's enthusiasm made Rhea smile. "Yes, it will be nice to make friends. I sure will appreciate your company."
Turning to the man now standing behind Briesis, Rhea said "And you must be Patroclus, my new cousin. It is so nice to meet you."
Patroclus, standing in a formal manner, only nodded and said "Yes, welcome to Phtia."
had also arrived on the shore by this time and offered to take Rhea
up to where Achilles would be at this time of day, practicing his
sword play. Mounting a horse given to her, Rhea said goodbye to her
new found friends who would meet up with her later and followed
Odysseus to meet this mysterious man. Fear shook her and tied her stomach in knots. She had heard of the brutality of Achilles and was less than enthusiastic to meet him.
After riding up a steep mountain side that finally leveled off into a plateau, Rhea could see what looked like the ruins of a former building. She heard the sounds of metal clashing against metal and grunts of men. All of a sudden, the noise stopped, but was soon replaced by the sound of something flying through the air, whistling by and jamming itself into the side of a tree trunk. Startled, Rhea pulled the reins of her horse to a forceful stop and was prepared to make a retreat when she saw Odysseus laughing, yanking a spear out of the trunk.
"His greetings get better every time. Come, he is waiting for us."
Odysseus took off again and Rhea followed soon after with but a moment's hesitation. She came upon the source of the noise and witnessed the most gorgeous creature she had ever seen. A sleek, muscular body stood tall and proud, outlined by bright blue eyes and shoulder length sandy. blonde hair. Sweat and dirt mixed and dripped down his chiseled body. Rhea's mouth dropped open slightly, but closed quickly when she found out that this beautiful man had caught her in the act of staring. A red blush covered her cheek as she ripped her eyes away and tried to make herself look busy by dismounting from her horse and fussing over it. The man just chuckled and continued to talk to Odysseus.
"Achilles, I would like you to meet Rhea, the pride and joy of Ithaca. She is a wonder and an intelligent addition to Phtia. I would like you two to get more acquainted, so I will just show myself to the guest quarters."
"Yes, that will be fine. You may leave also Donius. Practice is over for today," Achilles said to Odysseus and then addressed his sparring partner. As he spoke, his eyes never left this new specimen that blushed profusely and fumbled with the reigns of her horse.
Odysseus cracked a smile and his eyes said "Be gentle and tread carefully my friend," as he ushered out Achilles sparring partner.
Achilles chuckled and shook his head. He stood and waited for the girl to turn around and acknowledge his presence, but that never happened. Instead, the girl still fumbled with the horse and shifted uncomfortable from foot to foot.
"Hello. I'm Achilles, King of the Myrmidons," he said, finally breaking the silence.
The girl turned around, but a blank stare pasted itself on her face and she merely nodded.
After a few moments, Achilles said "And you might be…?"
Starting to become annoyed, Achilles began to close the gap. "They told me you were intelligent. I believe they lied to me. They sent me a mute and expected me to be thrilled."
"Well you must have gotten the better end of the stick for I was sent to marry a brute who kills for a living with no other purpose but to bring honor to himself and only himself," Rhea challenged.
All of a sudden, the few feet that stood between them closed into mere inches. The fire that had filled Rhea and made her brave was squelched and she faltered in her plucky stance. Achilles chuckled, clearly pleased that he had gotten that reaction and even more pleased that he could tame the wild side of her.
Embarrassed, Rhea turned sharply and continued to pay close attention to her horse.
A rough had landed on her shoulder in an oddly gentle way. "Come, I want to see you sword fight," Achilles said.
"Why would I do such a thing?" Rhea challenged.
"Are you avoiding the challenge because you don't know how and you're scared?" Achilles teased.
"No, I'm not scared. I just think it's the stupidest idea I've ever heard. Obviously you will beat me. Let's just go with the inevitable outcome and save ourselves the wasted time."
Achilles chuckled. He admired the strength that lay under the girl's soft and voluptuous exterior. He couldn't wait to explore all of its possibilities. Walking over to where he kept the practice wooden swords, he picked one up at tossed it in Rhea's direction.
Rhea let it clatter to the ground. Achilles was yet again amused. "Come on, show me what you've got."
He waited for Rhea to pick up the sword, but that moment never came. In fact, Rhea crossed her arms and cocked her stance as if to say "You can't make me."
Challenges were what Achilles thrived on. He walked back to Rhea and began to circle her, jabbing her and poking at her every once in a while. Rhea held on strong for a while, ignoring Achilles childish antics, but after a while, she started to get angry.
"I will if you at least try to fight me."
"No, just stop it."
"As your new king, I order you to pick up that sword and fight me."
"Please, you don't have that power over me."
"My beauty, I believe that I do."
The jabbing and circling continued, until finally, Achilles got his desired result. Rhea let out a frustrated groan and grabbed the sword from the ground. Turning it in her hands a few times, she moved from where Achilles was circling and proceeded to think of her first attack.
Lunging and thrusting the sword, Achilles easily dodged that attack and smirked. Rhea swung the sword and moved towards Achilles, each time being blocked or parried. Nothing she tried worked. Thrusting one last time, she was meant with more force than Achilles had given before. Soon, he had Rhea backing up trying to block the blows he was dealing. Rhea stumbled and fell into the wall that was directly behind her. Groping the wall and finding escape, Rhea closed her eyes as Achilles lifted his sword above his head, preparing to strike Rhea. She felt the wind from the sword swinging down across her face, blowing her hair aside. Wincing in preparation for impact, Rhea was stunned when the sword slowed and a light tap was delivered to the side of her neck.
"I win," Achilles said smugly.
"Well I told you that you would."
"We'll have a rematch later."
"No, we won't. This was a once in a lifetime thing."
Achilles closed whatever gap had been between them until his cool breath danced on Rhea's lips.
"What I say is law here."
Backing away with a smug expression, he called out to Rhea, "Come, we'll have supper."
Stunned, Rhea followed after a few seconds where she caught her breath.