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6 hours earlier
Troy was rising.
The sun moved steadily upward from its resting point below the horizon, slowly overtaking the city with the soft yet persistent light of the early morning.
To the citizens of Troy, this light was also a welcome reminder that they had survived yet another day under the nightmare of the Greek seig-
But wait!; they thought to themselves, eyes widening, lips parting in expressions of sudden, shocked memory; That's right!
The Greeks are gone!
It had, in fact, been one day, 4 hours, and 21 minutes ("But who's counting?" they chuckled to themselves) since the Greek fleet had suddenly left.
No explenation, no final battle, merely a few mumbled phrases of the "sick of this useless fighting", and "Helen or not, I'm going home" variety, and some mention (the Trojans thought) of a horse as some sort of sacrifice to Minerva.
But no one quite knew the particular details, and in all honesty no one cared.
All the citizens knew was that the Greeks, their sworn enemies, attackers, aggressors, had for reasons of their own decided after 10 long, treacherous years to return to theie homeland.
So all throughtout the city the Trojans attempted to go about their normal routines, though no one really could remember what constituted "normal" before the war.
Bakers whistled while pummeling dough for the first batch of the day.
Sheperds drove their flocks out of the city to their former pastures, and though hesitant at first they gradually became more and more relaxed as they saw the now pristine sand of the so recently occupied beaches.
Even the temple priests had the edges of smiles on their traditionally grave lips as they chanted an ancient hymn of thanks to Apollo, their protector.
If you had told any Trojan that morning that by the end of the day their city would become a blazing, lifeless wasteland, never to be occupied again; and that it would be the Greeks who brought this to pass, they likely would have stared blankly at you for a second before either bursting out laughing, or patting you on the back and kindly directing you to the nearest apothocary.
However, there was one resident of Troy who, had you told them this statement, would not have laughed or sent you on your way, but instead would've involuntarily felt a surge of hope
at the latter part of it, the part about the Greeks' return.
While they did not in any way desire for their beloved city to fall into foreign hands, they nevertheless wished, deep down in some hidden portion of their heart, that the Greeks would come back.
For this Trojan, far from feeling elated when they had heard the "joyous" news of the war's end, instead felt abandoned; left behind. But not by all of the Greeks.
One who had caused her (for this person was a her) to think things- to feel things she had never in her wildest dreams imagined she could, and now that he was gone- had left she corrected herself coldly. Now that he had left, she could not imagine ever feeling anything again...
Briseis, priestess of Apollo and princess of Troy, squeezed her kohl-lined eyes together to avoid tears.
Get ahold of yourself! They're never coming back- and neither is he.
At this her bottom lip began inevitably to quiver, and her once-delicate hands held the arms of her chair in a death grip.
She attempted to breathe deeply in order to calm herself down, but most likely would have begun sobbing afresh had it not been for the arrival of the Trojan queen, know to Briseis as her aunt, Hecuba.
The queen stepped onto the balcony, where Briseis now spent most of her time looking out over the city.
"Good morning Briseis! Have you seen Priam anywher- Oh!" she exclaimed, her keen eyes noting the younger woman's bloodshot ones. "You've been out here crying again, haven't you?"
"I'm fine, aunt." murmured Briseis. "Just...thinking."
"Nonsense darling!" clucked Hecuba, her elegant grey eyebrows furrowing. "Thinking indeed. You simply haven't been the same since that brute of a Greek-" she flashed her a sympathetic look. "Well, I don't suppose my mentioning him will make you feel any better. But all that aside, you really don't have to do this anymore! He's gone now- they're all gone dear, and they aren't coming back. And isn't that in itself enough to cheer you up?"
No! Briseis thought fiercely, in fact quite the contrary!
But she did not express this out loud, instead plastering a smile to her face.
"Of course aunt. How silly of me to carry on like this! I don't know what I was doing. You're right of course, now that that Greek monster"- here she winced-"is gone, I've nothing to worry about."
She attempted to force something resembling a laugh.
"There, you see? You're feeling better already" smiled Hecuba. "Now, let's get you inside."
Side by side they left the balcony and entered the cool interior of the palace.
Once there, the queen glanced around as if to make sure they were truly alone before whispering excitedly "So dear, have you heard?"
"About what?" replied Briseis uneasily.
"About what? Why, about the horse! Now that I think about it I'd be surprised if you did know, why should you? The only person you're talking to these days is Paris," she said dismissively. "But no matter."
"Now back to what I was saying- As the Greeks were preparing to leave, one of our spies- I can't recall his name - overheard Odysseus say that there was a prophecy: if the wooden
horse they built to placate Minerva was brought into Troy, it would protect us from harm, as well as bring us the favour of Minerva herself!
The spy also managed to hear the location where they were going to leave the horse. So naturally, once they left there was a unanimous decision for it to be brought to the city square!
In fact it's there now, they brought it inside last night."
"Although- Hecuba hesitated- "the decision wasn't completely unanimous.
"Helen burst into the council meeting and started ranting about how we simply couldn't bring the horse in, she said it was because...well who knows why? It was Helen, I'd be surprisedif anyone was listening.
"We had to get the guards to drag her out finally, and even then we could hear her screaming outside the door. I think she even tried to go and talk to Paris, but" she snorted "as I'm
sure you well know, he won't have anything to do with her! It would seem they've finally had one fight too many. About time if you ask me." Hecuba finished.
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find Andromache and tell her the seating chart for the victory banquet tonight. I haven't seen her all morning! She 's been in such a mood ever since-"
here the queen faltered, and without another word walked off, leaving behind a very confused Briseis.
Feeling overloaded by this onslaught of information, Briseis made her way to her favorite window seat and sank down into it's soft cushions. Gazing out to the distant sea, she contemplated the wooden horse, attempting to make sense of it but somehow only becoming more and more confused.
Why would the Greeks make an offering to Minerva in the first place? She's their patron goddess! And why would she ever grant favour to Troy? And- here her face darkened- why would the Greeks, Odysseus specifically, discuss this "prophecy" out in the open? Achilles always said that important matters were only talked about in private...
Suddenly, Briseis felt a hand grip her shoulder.
Instinctively she jerked back, grabbed the person's forearm and had them pinned to the ground in an instant.
She was shocked when she found herself staring into a pair of startled looking blue eyes.
Hey guys! Sorry it took so...erm, long (to put it nicely) to get this up. But I now have the ideas for the next 3 chapters, so don't despair!
Reviews of any kind are SO valued! I have the plan for the story now, but if anyone has any ideas I'll gladly try to incorporate them. No promises, but I'll try!
And sorry for the cliffie...I just like ending chapters like that ) Haha sorry but no worries we won't have a time jump next chapter, it'll continue where this one left off. I would have lumped them together but I really wanted to get it posted!