The Archer, by Camilla

Summary

This is a supernatural love story, telling the tale of a princess in peril and of the mythical creature who saves her. BTW, Kallisté and Alexios have the same meaning of Bella and Edward, in ancient Greek. The time? Oh, some 2700 years ago.

Ἕλθε, Κύπρι,
Χπρυσίασιν ἐν κυλίκεσσιν ἄβραισ
συμμεμιγμένον θαλίαισι νέκταρ
οἰνοχόεισα.

Come hither foam-born Cyprian goddess, come,
And in golden goblets pour richest nectar
All mixed in
most ethereal perfection,
Thus to delight us. (Sappho)

A/N

Don't worry, The Parachutist' sequel is progressing and it will eventually be ready to post. But this story came to me in a taxi (there was a lot of traffic in Rome that day), and I had to write it immediately. I was a classical mythology buff when young.

In the next days, if you have me on author alert, you will get a notice for a story in Italian, that you can overlook. It will be the translation of something I already posted in English, Heartbroken. The translation of The Archer (L'Arciere) will follow.

I don't know how much Stephenie Meyer owns of this story, but she certainly owns Twilight.

Many, many thanks to Jmolly, Master of the Boot and ManiacMotherland for their suggestions, to Meilleur Café (Serendipitous) for her pre-reading and to Stefanie, my final editor.

Well, this is a very short chapter, forgive me, but I'll submit chapter 2 asap. The next chapters will be longer but, there will not be many of them. I hope you will give the story a chance and will tell me what you think.

Chapter 1 - Prologue

"The war between Khalkis and Eretria was the one in which most cities belonging to the rest of Greece were divided up into alliances with one side or the other."

(Thucydides)

Maia was snoring, but Kallia couldn't have slept anyway. The shallow cave they had found refuge in was cold and damp and she was still terrified, so much that she had not allowed her nurse to light a fire. If she was captured, all would have been in vain. The cruel images of the battle went on and on in her mind: her father slaughtered in front of the city walls, her mother's loud crying and then turning to stone, not allowing herself to grieve because there were more urgent things to do.

Leaving the windows from where they had watched the battle with impotent fury, the queen had told Kallia and her nurse to dress comfortably, take a few belongings, gold and provisions and ordered them to escape through the secret subterranean passage which led to an opening far in the woods.

"Wait inside for darkness and then run," she had said, "you have to go to your uncle Agathon, he will protect you and will want to avenge us."

Her mother's resolution had made it impossible for the princess to cry and protest. She would obey, because she understood that they were doomed, that in a few hours, now that the king was dead and their army left with no leader, the enemy would storm the palace and kill everybody but the younger women, whom they would ravish and sell into slavery. Family honor requested that she tried to escape such a destiny. As for her mother… without doubt she would have made sure not to survive another day. To flee with them was not an option; a queen would not leave her subjects alone to face death.

Reaching her uncle's castle would take a few days at best; the passage from one of the Khalkidhiki 'fingers' to the other was normally managed by boat. But they could make it, provided they were able to travel undetected, which was by no means sure. Kallia felt numb, she had shed no tears, moving like in a nightmare from which there would be no waking up.

At dawn the nurse went out to relieve herself, while Kallia rummaged into their sack for water and some bread. Oh, there was a little pot of honey…this small reminder of her lost home made her eyes water, for the first time…. No, she would not cry, not yet.

She heard Maia scream, then a horrid gurgle. She peeped from the cave's mouth and there she was, still and lying on her own blood, surrounded by the three men, who had cut her throat. Eretrean soldiers, to judge by their helms. She waited, barely breathing, until they turned around.

"Zeus, Zeus, don't make them see the cave…" But the sky was empty of gods, her prayer went unheeded and the men were now coming to take her.

"A pretty maiden we have here."

"Maiden?… who knows?"

"We can make sure…"

"Fool, it will lower her price!"

"What the fuck, I want her."

They seemed to have an altercation, and Kallia saw a slim opportunity for running, but the one not involved sprang on her. Stunned by his vicious slap she fell and cut her cheek on a stone.

She was mustering her strength for a fight, would she be able to kick his groin? 'If I resist they will maybe kill me,' she thought….almost hopefully.

Suddenly there was a whistling sound and she saw her assailant stagger and fall on his back. An arrow protruded from his chest. Two more whistles and none of the soldiers was standing. Plus, they looked quite dead. Who was this merciless archer? The princess rose to her feet and turned around. Quite far away a horseman was sitting on his mount, bow lowered. It was almost impossible that his arrows had found their mark from that distance, but it was so. Friend or foe, she wondered, while the horse trotted toward her.

But, wait a moment… where was the horse's head? As the animal approached, she realized that the rider had no legs either.

Could it be? Oh Gods, it was… it was a centaur.

Endnotes

Well, I promised you supernatural, didn't I? Please tell me that you are curious and want to see what happens now between the princess and the centaur.

I have only dim memories of the classical Greek I studied eons ago. The mistakes are all mine. It seems right that I use Sappho's immortal love words to head my chapters, starting with an invocation to Aphrodite. That the poetess lived a little later with respect of my story time setting, and that often her verses are directed to another woman is immaterial.

The action is set in the area of the Khalkidhiki Peninsula in the North of Greece. The Peninsula, a beautiful sea place, resembles a hand with three "fingers" or "legs" – that now have different names but were once called Pallene, Sithonia and Acte (Where you would presently find the Mount Athos religious community). I have never been there, alas, so I might have made big geographical mistakes when describing the places. Forgive me.