Fear. Marcus Jove Antony, felt fear as he watched his ships plundering to Neptune's harsh wrath. The sea swallowed them whole as his men frantically raced around for any opportunity of survival. Their screams pierced the cold gray sky and Marc could only watch in paralyzing fear at everything, there was no one to fix this – no Lupa to lick his wounds, no father to send a bolt of lightning to help, even Cleopatra wasn't there to comfort him. He was utterly alone.
"Marc, we have to retreat!" a voice yelled. Marc was far too absorbed in the depths of his frightened mind to truly understand them. Hands grabbed his shoulders roughly and shook him. "Marc! Snap out of it!"
Gaius, Marc recognized the voice of his dear friend and followed it back to reality. His dark blue eyes met Gaius's and Marc could tell that his friend was just as afraid as he was. "Yes, we have to retreat," he finally managed to mutter out. Completely gaining his bearings he shouted out to his crew, "Retreat! Retreat back to Egypt!"
Relief briefly crossed the men's faces as they focused on their new effort of evading Octavion's surprisingly strong Navy. Word spread to the 60 other ships – out of the 200 in the initial battle – that they were retreating for Egypt. Marc stayed on deck shouting out orders, and once they were far enough away from the carnage that only traces of smoke could be seen in the distance and none of Octavion's ships followed behind, Marc was finally able to breathe a cautious sigh of relief.
"Where did we go wrong?" Gaius asked him quietly as they stared at the distant smoke.
Marc shook his head, he'd underestimated Octavion's growing strength. And worse of all was the betrayal of his own men. Word of mouth spread from the traitorous individuals among them. And Marc knew they were ultimately doomed, Octavion's ships were far too many and his army just as strong. Marc was also terrified of the news that a separate naval fleet than the one they battled earlier was already headed into Egypt – Marc was almost a day away and according to his sources the ship would be reaching land later this day. His wife and children would be unprepared – Egypt would be unprepared.
His only hope was that the Egyptian gods would take pity on them and protect his family. But he knew that was unlikely, the gods were abandoning them. Abandoning Egypt. Marc's old Roman friends and family would soon overtake his new home and make it theirs. Now all that was left was the concern every man had for themselves and their family. Egypt failed. And Marc wondered if his father was watching him now, perhaps even muttering "I told you so," at him.
"Marc, get some rest. There's nothing we can do now but worry," Gaius patted him on back gently. Marc would've hugged his friend had he not felt emotionally and physically exhausted. His best friend renounced his own support to Rome shortly after Marc's marriage to Cleopatra 5 years ago. Since then he'd been the one reminder of his old life.
Marc slowly made his way past the other tired and weary soldiers to his bunk. He slipped into the land of nightmares and visions as soon as his head hit his pillow.
He dreamed of her first – maybe it wasn't a dream though. She was laying in her bed with their youngest son Philladelphius snuggled into her side. Suddenly the doors to her room burst open and her guards and handmaidens frantically awoke her before revealing that Roman soldiers were making their way into Alexandria. Cleopatra's face was full of fear and she rushed into her clothes before hurrying away with her guards.
The next vision was of Octavian. He was smirking as he walked through the streets of Alexandria, laughing arrogantly with is men as he forcefully made his way through the city. Beating any man, woman, or child that stood in his way. They approached the royal temple, easily killing the soldiers and magicians guarding the front and made their way inside. Marc watched in horror as Octavian was approached by his adopted son, Caessarion. The young teenager thought he could sneak up on Octavian and shouted out a spell. However, he was never accurate and missed hitting him. Only to be struck down by Octavian's sword. His last words were muttered in his want for his mama.
"Destroy them all," Octavian muttered viciously as he cleaned his blood stained sword on Caesarion's body.
Suddenly awakening Marc threw up bile. And for the first time in a long time he wept.
For what felt like a lifetime, but was actually only a day, Marc lay on his bed, staring at nothing in particular. He felt his world ending before his eyes. Octavian was ruthless, he'd kill her and his children. And there was nothing Marc could do. The feeling of helplessness reminded him of his younger years at the Roman camp. He'd grown a lot since then, he'd lived a full life that other men would've been amazed a 36-year old could live. And yet, he still felt like a child himself.
"Marc, I need to come in," came the voice of Gaius from outside his door.
Marc only grunted in response before the man entered his small room. Marc turned his head slightly to view Gaius, and felt a new wave of fear grip him as he looked at his friend's grief stricken face. Sitting up quickly he questioned his friend.
"Marc, she's been killed."
For a minute the only noise Marc could hear was the white noise from his own mind, and then a loud scream. It took him a while before he realized it was his own voice. Pain, hatred, betrayal, and agonizing anger. His emotions were a swarm that he couldn't be bothered to contain. He thought of the day they first met, remembering her smile and the way she made him feel stupid by a single look. He remembered seeing her again in her early twenties and being jealous of his brother. He remembered holding her the first night after they made love. He remembered her handing him his youngest son and smiling with her at their creation. And now he'd never see her again. And frankly, that wasn't a world he wanted to live in.
"Leave," he managed to mutter in-between sobs at Gaius. Gaius was hesitant before finally leaving Marc alone to his demons.
He took out his coin and flipped it – revealing his sword. He held the heavy device in his hands and before he could question himself he stabbed it into his chest. Pain was surprisingly inexistent. Only a sharp feeling of warmth. He laughed and then was greeted by the sharp stabbing feeling, he'd missed his heart or any other organs that would quickly render him dead. His maniacal laughter returned to sobs as he realized he'd have to wait even longer to return to his Cleopatra and their children. Laying back down he felt his blood seeping slowly from his wound. He estimated he had some hours left before he died. At least he'd go in the quietness of his small room.
He didn't know how much time passed before someone began banging on his door. He stayed quiet, hoping they'd leave him alone. But the door opened and Gaius rushed in. Marc felt a wave of sorrow wash over him as his friend realized what he'd done.
"Oh Marc, no!" Gaius screamed, grabbing hold of his body. "I'm sorry Marc! I should've gotten here faster!"
Marc shook his head, nothing would have eventually stopped him from this fate. He couldn't be without Cleopatra again.
"Marc, she's alive! I was wrong, the messengers were wrong. She never died, she wants to see you. That's why I came in here, I just found out…" Gaius had tears flowing down his face now and remained holding his firm grip on Marc's dying body.
"Shit," Marc muttered. He wanted to laugh and cry and curse some more. He was going to die, he could feel it washing over him, half his body was numb and he was freezing. "Take me to her."
Gaius nodded and managed to lift Marc's body from the bed. Marc felt a wave of nausea go through him as he felt his blood suddenly gush faster from his body. "Be gentle man, you don't want to kill me."
Gaius didn't think Marc's joke was too funny.
They made their way off the boat and into the port of Alexandria. The city was in panic, some buildings were on fire, the people were running around screaming. No god or magician was helping, and Marc could only feel hatred at them for abandoning them.
It took them a while to get a cart to haul them to where Cleopatra was rumored to be, a small temple for the magicians living in Alexandria. Gaius helped Marc inside. The room was dark and quiet until Marc heard a gasp.
"What happened?" Cleopatra screamed, rushing to Marc and holding him close.
Marc felt relief that she was alive only to feel the pain, literal and metaphorical, of knowing he was going to die very soon.
"I thought you were dead," Marc heaved, every breath was painful and talking felt like he was being stabbed over and over again. "I didn't want to lose you."
He could feel her warm tears against his cheek. "You stupid man! You're so stupid!" she held onto him tighter as she felt him die. Marc could feel himself slipping away, he could see a man every time he closed his eyes. He wanted to stay with her longer so he tried to fight it back.
"I'm sorry," He kissed her cheek, "Turns out I was the dumbass after all."
Cleopatra's sobbing became more frantic and her grasp was painfully tighter. "Marc I can't live without you. I just can't…"
"Shh," Marc quieted her with another kiss, he couldn't stand the thought that any kiss would be their last. "The children, are they alive?" She nodded. "Then live for them… they need you." Although he said that, Marc's own selfish desire wanted her to die with him. They could live in the afterlife together. But, he couldn't bring himself to say it aloud.
"I can't…" she muttered. Marc kissed her a few more times before slipping away. With a single blink he found himself looking at a dark skinned man.
"Cleopatra?" Marc asked looking around frantically. The pain he felt earlier was gone, and looking down to where his wound should be revealed his unmarred skin.
"You are dead Marcus Antony," the man said, "I am Thanatos, the god of death. I will lead you to the room of judgment now." Marc reluctantly followed, his knees felt heavy though. He could still almost feel Cleopatra's warm body still pressed against him.
The room of judgment was nothing more than a room with a small circular table and 5 grumpy guys sitting around it.
"Marcus Jove Antony!" said the booming voice of one of the judges, "You've caused an awful mess up there, this should be interesting."
The others around the table nodded. Marc began to worry, he hadn't exactly planned what to do in this situation. From the point of view of others, he had abandoned Rome. When actually he was just trying to unite it with Egypt and take control from Octavian.
"You're a traitor," one of the judges said bluntly.
"No. I'm not I –" Marc was cut off by the same man.
"Did you not engage warfare against Rome with the Egyptian military?" Marc grinded his teeth, he did not want to be having this conversation right now.
"I did it for Rome, I was fighting for Rome."
The man smirked, "Funny way of showing it… I think this decision should be easy. Fields of Punishment everyone?" Marc watched in horror as the judges nodded. The javelin was about to strike the table when a man rushed in. He was wearing a black toga and was generally giving Marc creepy vibes.
"Stop, before his judgment has been made I would like to speak with you judges," said the man out of breath.
"Really Pluto, we were just finished. It was pretty easy…" Marc suddenly watched the man, his uncle. Whatever Pluto wanted couldn't be good, it wasn't like his uncle and father were on friendly terms. Pluto probably just wanted to punish him more and have him chained to a rock with vultures pecking at him for eternity.
Marc watched as the judges and Pluto discussed his probably impending demise. Marc wanted to break down, he'd lost everything. He tried to keep his thoughts from Cleopatra, but he couldn't get her out of his mind. Would they ever see each other again?
"Elysium? Are you mad Pluto?" Marc's attention turned to the judges.
"Trust me, send him there," Pluto said in a non-negotiable term, "I have made a deal with his father." Marc was stunned, he had thought his father would've wanted him dead and punished.
The judges sighed but nodded, "Fine, fine… To Elysium." They banged their javelin and before Marc could question his Uncle he was suddenly in a completely different land. The skies were blue and he was standing in a meadow full of flowers next to the sea. He could hear laughter and pleasant chatter. This was Elysium.
"Hey look, it's him! It's that general guy!" a female voice yelled. Marc saw a few people approaching.
"It is him, I wonder why they sent him here."
Marc started to turn away to escape from them when he heard, "Wonder what's gonna to happen to Cleopatra, are they gonna to send her here too?" Marc's heart raced and he turned to the woman who'd spoke.
"Cleopatra, what's happened to her? How do you know?"
The woman motioned to one of the exotic villas next to the sea, "Over there is where you can watch all the latest events happening in reality, everyone's been watchin' about ya for a while! It's the best drama we've gotten in a long time. You're famous!"
Marc raced to the villa and entered. The woman hadn't been lying about the fame, hundreds were crowded into the large open space and a screen-like image was projected against the large tall wall. Octavian was on the screen, frowning at whatever was bothering him.
"What use is a dead Queen? I guess we'll have to use the children. Round them up and put them in chains. Drag them around the city, I want Egypt to see how powerful those dead fools are now." Octavian's harsh voice filled the large room.
Marc felt his stomach drop, "What happened to Cleopatra?" he turned to a man standing next to him, "What happened to her?" Marc grabbed the man roughly, unable to control his rage and pain.
"Hey man, I'm sorry. I just got here too, I don't know. I'll ask the guy in charge to do a recap or something, calm down," The man looked fearfully at Marc before being released. Marc watched him approach a man before saying something.
"We are going to do a replay of some of the recent events due to a request!"
The screen flickered and Marc saw himself being held by Cleopatra. It was right after he'd died. The look of pain on Cleopatra's face and the sound of her pleas to the gods, hurt Marc more than that sword he'd used to end his own life. He wanted to comfort her but couldn't.
"M'lady we have to leave, it's not safe here," one of the handmaidens said. Cleopatra ignored them and held onto his dead body.
"I'm not leaving him," Cleopatra finally muttered after minutes of silence. Her guards were clearly frustrated and although they looked like they wanted to run for their own lives, they stayed.
"We will take him with us then, we just need to get moving. Word has probably spread about our whereabouts."
Cleopatra shook her head, "No, I'm not leaving him." She looked up from Marc's dead body, and from the screen Marc could clearly see her agony. He knew what she was going to do and he wanted to scream that it was a bad idea. Before, he assumed they would somehow be together after death, but knowing he barely got into Elysium only because of his father meant Cleopatra was probably in worse shape.
"Don't do it," Marc muttered even though he knew she couldn't hear him.
"Bring me an asp," Cleopatra said to her servants. There wasn't a hint of uncertainty in her voice. Her guards picked up on the tone and didn't question, one of the male guards left and in the time before his return Cleopatra focused her attention back to Marc's body, which was growing colder by the minute. The guard returned with a basket and handed it to the Queen.
"All of you go now. I'm no longer your queen, instead watch after my children. Tell them I'm sorry," she stated to cry and her voice began to tremble, "Tell them their mama wasn't strong enough."
Her guards looked like they wanted to argue but they left. Her handmaidens gave her tearful hugs of goodbye. When they all were gone Cleopatra kissed Marc's cheek one last time before taking the snake out of the basket. She brought it to her chest, right over her heart, and allowed it to bite her. Her screams of agony were heard by everyone watching on the viewing screen. And although Marc was already dead, he wished he'd instead cease to exist. Elysium might as well have been the Fields of Punishment because for eternity he will regret his mistakes, for eternity he would miss her.
The recap ended and Marc collapsed on the solid wood floor in the viewing room. A lot of the individuals gave him looks of pity. Marc was about to make his way to somewhere more private when he saw the image of his children on the screen.
Lexie, Leo, and the youngest Philladelphius were bound in heavy gold chains. Their faces were streaked with tears and dirt. Octavian stood behind them with the rest of the Roman troops as they marched through Alexandria. Rage consumed Marc. He rushed out of the room into the now dark paradise. He threw himself onto the grass and wept. He lay on the grass crying until there was nothing left in him and he felt numb. He didn't even sit up when a dark figure towered above his pitiful form.
"Marc," said the man. It took Marc a moment to recognize his Uncle's voice.
"There are some things we must discuss, come with me," Pluto grabbed his arm before Marc could sit up and they were instantly transported into the shadows. Marc blinked and suddenly he was standing in a room similar to the throne room. It was just him and his uncle this time though.
"Sit, there is news I want to tell you," Pluto motioned for Marc to sit at one of the chairs around a round table.
"About your wife…" Pluto began.
"Where is she? Is she safe?" Marc asked worriedly.
Pluto nodded. "She is in the Egyptian underworld in the duat. She was given fair judgment and they ruled in her favor." Marc felt instantly relieved although this just confirmed they'd never be with each other again. "Marc I am about to offer you two choices, both will come with rewards and sacrifices. I know it will be hard to make but the Roman and Egyptian gods have come to a consensus."
Marc listened intently to the man, "You must choose only one option. There is no negotiation available. First thing you must know is that all your children will shortly be killed." Marc hung his head not wanting his uncle to see his tears and Pluto continued, "The first option we give you is giving your children another chance at life. They will be reincarnated sometime in the future – they will retain their memories of their old life and safely live in their new. They will become heroes and also pass into Elysium after they die."
Marc couldn't see anything wrong with that option and was about to instantly agree before Pluto continued, "The second option we give you is for you and Cleopatra to spend eternity in Elysium together. However, your children will be sent to the Fields of Punishment – for they have not accomplished anything in their lifetime."
"They're children! They didn't have time to do anything! You can't be serious, how am I supposed to choose either?" Marc raised his hands to the ceiling, "Are they all mocking me? How can I choose between my wife and children?"
"Well I suppose the third option is to forget everything that's been offered, and you return to Elysium, Cleopatra remains in the underworld alone, and your children be sent to the Fields of Punishment…" Marc knew he had to make a decision. A decision that no matter the outcome would leave him with regrets.
He could see her again, but at the cost of both of them knowing they'd damned their children for eternity. His children… Or his wife… Moaning, he came to a decision.
"My children, help my children," All hope of ever seeing her again was gone.
"It shall be done," Pluto said. The god sighed, "If it's worth anything, I was rooting for you." Then Marc felt himself pulled into the shadows. He was returned to Elysium.
After that Marc began to adjust to his life in Elysium. He'd obtained a small modest cabin near the lake because it reminded him a lot like the Nile. He'd sit on the shore reminiscing about Cleopatra. Every day he would go the viewing screen to find out more news on his children. Alexander was the first of his children to die, shortly followed by Philladelphius. They'd been beheaded as part of the final victory over Egypt. Luckily, his daughter was allowed to live longer.
Gaius moved into Elysium a few years after the incident, he'd been allowed in for his earlier military duty for the Romans. Marc was just glad to have his best friend with him. They lived peacefully in Elysium. And then one day Cleo died – she'd lived until her 17th birthday and died in childbirth. Her young son, Ptolemy, survived.
Everyday Marc missed her, but he became used to the pain. He watched as Rome crumbled, new civilizations began before they crumbled, and the cycle continued. It was in the 90s that Gaius rushed and pulled him into the viewing room. There he watched his Lexie and Leo being born once again. Smiling with tears in his eyes, he watched the only gift he'd been able to give his children in the end – life.
Thank you everyone who read the whole story, favorite, reviewed and story alerted. I'm really glad people took the time to read it since it was basically all original characters. Thank you so much.
And also, this is where, Chaos, my other story branches off from this story. That was my intention all along. You can read it, but it's not being updated for a long while.