Chapter Nine

A couple walked a few feet apart on the shoreline. The Myrmidon had been shooed off some time ago by their lieutenant, who then proceeded to watch them from a distance. He was already quite sure she was the reason they were leaving, but he did not know what about her was so remarkable that the replacement of her over the other girl was so important to Achilles.

After watching her swaying hips and rippling hair for some time, Achilles asked, "What is your family like?"

"I never knew my parents. My mother died giving birth to my sister when I was two years old. My father died in battle a year later. My sister and I grew up like twins-"

"You two are nothing alike," he commented.

"I am well aware. You see, my sister never truly finished growing up. She is still naive and knows very little of the world," Astra explained, watching the waves go in and out. "I suppose that is why Paris liked her more, but I was Hector's favourite. He said I have a level head on my shoulders."

"So you are royalty," Achilles commented.

"In a manner of speaking, yes. Why?"

"The way you act seems different from any woman I've ever seen."

"Because I'm a priestess?" she asked, turning sharply to look at him.

"No. You are exquisite and far more intelligent than I thought a woman could be," Achilles complimented, placing a gentle hand on her cheek.

"That's why I became priestess. What man would want a woman smarter than he?" she commented with a cant of her head before turning and walking a few paces from him.

"What man wouldn't want you?" Achilles asked, following her closely.

"After having three suitors scared off in two years by either Hector or Priam before they even meet me?"

"It was them that drove the suitors away, not you," Achilles pointed out.

"Yes, well, I suppose Paris teaching me archery didn't help matters."

"Is that why you chose Artemis?"

"She chose me, actually. As soon as I stepped into her temple, the priestesses seemed to know I would be one of them."

"Have you ever met her?"



"Once, actually. She appeared to me while I was out hunting and told me that my destiny was to be with her, not her brother, but that was not my fate."

"Well, the gods do like to be rather vague."

"Very much so," Astra conceded.

They lapsed into silence for some time before settling down together on the beach. As the sun rose overhead and baked the Mediterannean coastline and the couple laying side by side, Astra asked, "Do you know your fate?"

"My mother said my fate was to die here during this war, but that my name would be remembered forever."

They sat as both of them considered what would become of them. Astra hardly knew anymore what would happen to her, and Achilles only foresaw two options: life in Pthia with her or death on a Trojan blade. Eventually, Achilles asked, "Do you think I can change my fate?"

"...only if the gods will it," Astra asked, staring out at the deep blue waters.