Chapter Title: Awash in Memories
Disclaimer: Finally, I finally got the muses to return so I could get the next part of this tale out. They went on some crazy extended vacation or something, but for now I've got them tied down. I hope you enjoy this chapter. I don't own Troy, Achilles, Briseis, Eudorus or the Myrmidons. I listened to a few different songs to inspire this chapter. For the more somber moments I listened to Olafur Arnalds song "This Place is a Shelter" and Sam Yung's "Time" both very beautiful instrumentals.
"You're teasing me with this aren't you?" Brenna asked, her feet sunk into the sand as she stopped walking and turned to look at the man next to her with a smirk on her face. The pair had been enjoying a nice walk along the beach. At the moment Aiden was explaining what he had been up to in recent years.
Aiden stopped as well looking at her with a curious expression. "Why would I lie about this to you? Is it really that hard to believe?"
She shook her head and began walking again, "I suppose not, but let me see if I understand this; the great Achilles, the sacker of cities, the man so many feared, is now a business man." Brenna giggled, "A business man who owns several hotels, including apparently, the one we are both staying in. Forgive me if I think you're jesting with me, but I guess I never pictured you being content sitting behind a desk all day."
"You are getting an awful amount of enjoyment from this my dear." Aiden pulled her closer as she continued to giggle. "I work hard keeping my hotels functioning I'll have you know and I'm not sitting behind a desk, at least not all the time."
"I'm sorry, I'm sure you do work very hard. I suppose I just envisioned a different sort of career in my mind." Brenna wrapped an arm around his waist.
"What, did you think I was a hired hit man or something? Come on, doing that kind of work means I'd have a boss. You know how I loathe working for others." Aiden joked, tickling her side as they kept walking.
She squirmed away from his fingers laughing. "True, you never were widely known to be a follower; however you have to admit you were very good at what you used to do."
Aiden couldn't help but join in her good mood as he grinned, "You know I do have other talents besides my abilities with a sword. I've done other things over the many years we were apart."
"I'm sure you have and I'm certain that you were just as good at those jobs as well. Really, I shouldn't be that surprised. Over the years I've had several different 'careers' and not all of them matched the person I was back then." She silently pondered one in particular that might surprise her lover.
Aiden looked down at her, his curiosity piqued. "Oh really, care to share?" He gave her a sly grin, thinking about what sort of talents his Briseis had been allowed to display over the centuries.
Brenna laughed before nudging him forward, "No, we were talking about you mister. Now tell me, how did you get into owning hotels? It can't be just something you fell into?"
Aiden snorted, "Actually I did sort of fall into it." At her incredulous look he continued, "Really, I swear. I haven't made too many friends in my long life, but I do have one or two. One in particular can be very…shall we say persuasive. He wound up inheriting a small hotel in Greece, but didn't have the funds to keep it running."
"And you did?" Brenna supplied as they came upon a rock ledge along the beach. She wiped some sand off the rock and sat down.
"I've had the good fortune to have made some interesting investments that paid off nicely." He joked as he sat down beside her. "At first I told him to sell it, take the money and invest it, but he really wanted to keep the place. I suppose he had some fond memories there. So I made my own investment. I gave him the money to keep the place open. In exchange he gave me half ownership."
Brenna couldn't help but smile. "That was a really nice thing you did for your friend."
"Well, he is a good friend and it was good investment. The hotel continues to do well and with the money earned there I've been able to purchase other small hotels that were on the brink of closing. Most are in tourist areas, but were at one time too rundown to be inviting to guests; like the one here in Turkey." He explained, picking up a nearby stone, "It's a challenging job at times, but I get to be my own boss and I enjoy a good challenge as you well know."
Brenna nodded with a smirk, "Yes, I seem to vaguely remember that about you and of course your difficulty in taking commands from anyone. Except this one time when some small, simpering priestess had you sheathing your sword faster than you can blink."
Aiden shook his head remembering that day so long ago. He leaned back against the rock face. "Now, you can't fault me for listening to the voice of reason, especially when it is the voice of a beautiful woman. Besides, you presented one of the best challenges I had ever had the pleasure of trying to solve. I seem to recall a certain priestess who refused to let me slaughter a man who wished to harm her."
She blushed at his words then bit her bottom lip, "There are times when I wish I had said nothing in that tent. If I had just let you kill that slimy worm of a king, who knows what might have happened."
There were times when he wondered the same thing, but a part of him knew what the consequences probably would have been. "Oh I can guess what would likely have happened. Agamemnon would have been dead, but Menelaus would not have taken kindly to my murdering his brother. In murdering that filth I would have made you, my men and myself fugitives. No, you were right to speak up Briseis. While killing him would have sated my anger, it was far more fulfilling to see you take him down"
"I have to admit, it was sort of satisfying. All he could do was gloat about how he was going to make me his slave. He had no idea that his victory would be so short lived." Brenna recalled that moment with a combination of fondness and sadness. It was only moments after killing Agamemnon that she had watched Achilles life snuffed out.
"That man never knew when to hold his tongue. Was only a matter of time till someone silenced him forever; and on the plus side I kept my promise to him." Aiden pulled her into his side with one arm, tossing the pebble in his hand with the other. "I did tell him that before my time was done I would look down on his corpse and smile. I'm not one to not keep a promise if I can help it."
Brenna shook her head, laughing as she leaned against him, "I don't think he ever thought you would get to see that through as arrogant as he was; makes me happy that I could help you see that promised fulfilled."
The pair sat there in silence for a while just enjoying each other's company. Before long they were headed back to the hotel for some lunch. Aiden led her to his own suite, showing her around the large set of rooms before he called for room service. While they ate she asked more about his hotels and he inquired about her writing. "Do you think you've written your last book? I know you said the one you were working on was the last in a series."
Wiping her mouth, Brenna leaned back in her chair and shrugged. "I really don't know. I always intended 'Flowers' to be the last book in the series. I never considered writing another book after that. I'm not even sure I have another story in me." She sighed, "Suppose I'll have to make that decision soon though. My editor wants me to head back home to New York as soon as I can and I know she is going to ask me the same thing."
Aiden couldn't help but smile, standing up from the table. "We can travel there together than depending on when you plan to go back." Noting her look of confusion, he explained. "Here we've been living and working in the same city and somehow never came across one another. We had to come halfway around the world to be reunited."
Brenna moved to his side, "New York is a big city my love and I only live there half the year. The other half of the year I'm in England. Besides, I for one think it's only appropriate that we should be brought back together here."
Leaning down he kissed her lips, "I stand corrected than." They continued kissing, slowly moving towards the bed.
They lay silently after their passions were sated. Brenna rested her head on Aiden's chest just running her fingers over the soft skin while Aiden caressed her back. "Do you ever think about them Briseis? Your family I mean?"
"Of course I do. I remember Uncle Priam and his lessons about the gods. I wonder what happened to Andromache and what sort of man little Astyanax became if he survived." She paused, "I think about Hector and if he found peace in the next life."
"If his wife and son are with him now, I'm sure he has." Aiden brushed a strand of hair out of her face. The topic of Hector was always a touchy subject with him. Hector's death was something he had long regretted. He shook thoughts of the long dead prince away, "And what about Paris, do you ever wonder what became of him and his dear Helen?"
Brenna sat up, "I was so angry with him for so long after Troy. I hated him for everything that happened to me; blamed him for all the pain I had endured. After I…died, I used that hate and anger to keep me going." Closing her eyes, she laid back down turning to look over at him. "When I said I never saw the Trojans again, it wasn't exactly true."
Aiden nodded, while he had no idea why she would lie about something like that, he couldn't fault her either. Sometimes it was hard for him to talk about the past. No doubt it was much the same for her. He ran his hand down her back, "So you did find them again?"
Closing her eyes, Brenna shivered at his touch before replying, "Not right away. At first, I was so confused and upset that I didn't know where to go. When I first 'came back' I had no clue what had happened to me. Only that I was alone. I did meet someone who was just like us and though she was able to provide me with an explanation, I could scarcely believe it at first. She did her best to show me how to protect myself, even gave me the sword that I do still have. I was just so overwrought at the time. So much had happened and I needed to get away. I don't know what possessed me to do it but, I eventually sailed to your homeland. This was months later. I just assumed no one there would know who I was and I could sort everything out in my head. No sooner was I getting off the ship when I heard someone shouting, 'My lady Briseis!' You can imagine my shock when I came across an old friend of yours." She smirked, curious to see if he would figure it out.
He thought about who she could possibly be talking about when it suddenly occurred to him the 'friend' she was talking about. Aiden could remember only one man addressing her that way that he knew of. "Eudorus…it was Eudorus wasn't it?" A huge smile formed on his face when she turned and nodded.
"I couldn't believe that he remembered me, much less wanted to speak to me. By then he had heard of your death of course, but said he was pleased, for 'Lord Achilles' sake, that I had managed to survive. He was curious as to why I had come to Greece of all places. Nothing could stop my tears at that point. After being shunned for so long, to know someone cared in some form…I broke down completely, just blurted out everything that had happened to me since Troy's fall, except my death. He just stood there, listening patiently, before offering me a place to stay with his family. I declined at first; I didn't want to be a burden. I thanked him kindly, but told him that it wasn't necessary for him to 'look out' for me. You should have seen the look he gave me." Brenna giggled remembering how Eudorus had looked in that moment. "He said that you would find a way to haunt him from the underworld if he did any less than offer me a roof over my head."
Aiden sat up, rubbing his chin and shaking his head. "I can't believe he remembered." Once more she looked up at him curiously. "Before I climbed into that damned horse, before I sent the Myrmidons off, I spoke with Eudorus one last time. I told him that should anything happen to me, should you be captured; he was to make sure you were kept safe somehow. He gave his word that he would. When you left with Paris that night, I figured it wouldn't be a necessary. I'm glad that he was able to honor his word in some way. Eudorus was always a good man, a good friend." He dropped a kiss on her head.
"He did more than honor that vow. After I had time to get settled, met his family and got reacquainted with the Myrmidons, he insisted on teaching me how to defend myself. I would never have been able to wield that sword I have without Eudorus' teachings. Even some of your other men got in on the training. They were impressed by my skill, but joked that it was only right that 'Lord Achilles' woman would be so capable." Brenna explained, smiling at the memories. "It was several years later when I got word of where the Trojan survivors were. I had planned to go alone, but Eudorus would hear none of it. When I left Greece, he was by my side."
Aiden smirked as he listened intently to her story. He owed so much to his old friend and his men. One could only imagine the horrors that may have befallen his beautiful lover had she been left to fend for herself without knowing how to properly fight. "I never went into battle without Eudorus beside me, though I never thought he would leave the Myrmidons."
"I wouldn't call it leaving the Myrmidons, though I was just as surprised he wanted to accompany me. He said that it was his duty. I always wondered why he felt that way. You were gone and he had no real reason to show such dedication to me of all people. Now that I know what you told him I understand it a bit more. He left some of the Myrmidons in Pthia in the capable hands of his son, while he and I took the rest to the Trojan settlement. Can you believe they had built their temple outside the city walls, again?" Brenna shook her head before continuing. "It wasn't difficult to take the temple. There were only a few priests who the men tied up. Little else was there for defensive purposes. You think they would have learned."
Recalling the words he once spoke to Hector, "There's no honor in cutting old men's throats."
Brenna ran a hand through her hair. "Exactly and I had stated that I wanted as few casualties as possible. I wasn't out for blood after all, just… In any case, the more shocking thing was finding Paris in the temple. Apparently he had come to offer a sacrifice; instead he received a confrontation he couldn't have expected in the least.
With a hand on the handle of her sword and Eudorus by her side, Briseis approached the tied up form of her cousin. A simple gesture to the men and they were quickly hauling the former prince to his feet.
"Get your hands off of me you dogs. How dare you desecrate this holy…" Paris' protests came to an abrupt end upon seeing the woman before him
"Hello cousin. Did you miss me?" Briseis looked her cousin over. He had aged slightly, his hair was longer, and he had grown a beard. He looked as Hector had all those years before, but he was no Hector. While he seemed to have put on some muscle, he was still no match for the Myrmidons.
"Briseis…it can't be. We…we thought you were dead. Where have you been cousin?" Paris gazed upon his younger cousin. She looked no different than the last day he had seen her and yet there was something undeniably different about her. There was coldness in the way she spoke to him and she carried herself with a confidence that he had never seen from her before. Her long hair was held in a tight braid and she wore the black armor of the men she appeared to be commanding.
Briseis moved closer to him. "You thought wrong cousin. Where have I been? Tell me, did you bother to look for me, or did you simply wipe your hands of your 'traitorous' little cousin?" She remembered well his treatment of her in those days after their cities demise.
Struggling against the ropes around his wrist, Paris tried to explain. "I…the bandits would have killed us all Briseis. I had to get the people to safety…there…there just wasn't any time to search for you. When you disappeared I just assumed the bandits had either dragged you off or taken your life." He paused before continuing in a firmer tone. "As for you being a traitor…you wept for the man who killed my brother, your cousin. What was I supposed to think of you?"
"YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO UNDERSTAND! You betrayed an entire city so you could have your affair with a Greek. You set your brothers demise into motion and you dare to blame Achilles alone for Hector's death? You are just as much to blame for your brothers' death." Briseis yelled.
"I may be at fault for bringing war to our land, but neither Helen nor I thrust the sword or the spear through my brothers' body. Your lover did that." Paris responded spitefully.
Briseis unsheathed her sword and stalked towards him, the point of the sword dangerously close to his neck. "Yes, he did, but I know when it was all over, he regretted that blood on his hands. But you cousin, if you had been half the man that your brother was and fought your own battles, Hector would never have been put in that position. So many years later and you still have learned nothing." One of the men approached and whispered something in her ear. Briseis released her cousin, sheathing her sword. "Good, bring him."
She followed behind the man who had approached her while Paris was made to stumble behind her. They stepped into a side room where the Myrmidons had pushed aside a large stone slab on the floor. Briseis looked down the wide hole, "I see your still using the same old punishments for those who break their vows." She paused and then looked over at Paris. "You know cousin, Achilles taught me many things." She stepped closer, "One of the most important was this…" she put her mouth to his ear and whispered, "It never ends." Pulling back she motioned for the two men holding Paris's arms to put him in the hole.
Paris fought against his captors as they prepared to lower him into the pit. "Briseis, no, no don't do this. This is wrong and you know it. BRISEIS, NO, NO, stop. BRISEIS STOP THIS!"
She listened to his pleas as he was lowered into the dark crevice with indifference. Briseis remembered when she had made similar pleas that had fallen on deaf ears. Now he would know what she had felt. His final cries became silent as the slab slid into place covering the pit.
Eudorus, who had moved away to help with the stone slab, now stepped up next to her once more, "Do you intend to leave him in there till he dies my lady?"
Briseis turned away from the pit and walked out of the room with Eudorus following. "No, we depart in the morning. Have the men release him and the priests before we leave. Send them back to their city." She began walking toward the door of the temple before stopping. "Eudorus, the men may take whatever riches are in the temple. Leave nothing for the 'prince' and his people." With that command she walked out of the temple and away from her cousin for the last time
Brenna looked over at Aiden sorrowfully. "What happened to him after the men released him I don't know. All I know is that I became something so horrible that day. It took me a long time to come to terms with what I did to him. There are days when I'm not sure I have."
Aiden pulled her close to him, "You were hurting Briseis. No can fault you for lashing out at what you felt was the source of that pain. I…I did the same thing when I killed Hector. At least you had the mercy in you to spare his life."
"He showed you no mercy when he…I just wanted him to know that I was the better person in the end, but I wasn't not really. I let my hurt and my anger twist me. For god sake, I had him put into a dark hole in the ground, practically burying him alive. I had your men pillage a temple. I never would have condoned such things before. Brenna closed her eyes at the memory
It did seem like such a deviation from the Briseis he had known. He understood her anger with Paris. The young prince had deeply injured her with his callousness, but her need to desecrate the temple, something she had once scorned him for doing, puzzled him. "Why did you have them take the treasures of the temple?"
"Paris wasn't the only one I was angry with by then. I felt as though the gods had betrayed me, that they had cursed me with this life; a life where I would never get to see you again. I suppose I didn't think there was anything more they could do to me at that point." Briseis laughed sarcastically. "Now of course, I feel like an utter fool."
Nodding, Aiden hugged her doing his best to comfort her. So that had been her justification for the act. She had believed so fiercely in her gods. After losing her city, her lover, and being shunned by her family, Briseis had only had her gods to believe in. In death she could have held onto the hope of being reunited with him once more. Becoming immortal had dashed that hope and shaken her faith irrevocably. In her eyes, the gods too had shunned her. "I did a lot of foolish things and Eudorus was witness to most of them. If there was one man who knew when I was being reckless, it was him. He pointed out desecrating Apollo's temple was not a sound idea, but I wouldn't listen. I chopped off the statue of Apollo's head if you recall. However, he never condemned me for it. If he never condemned you for those acts, you shouldn't condemn yourself."
Brenna smiled, "He never said a thing. Just stated once it was done that you would be proud of how strong I had become. I wasn't sure I believed him, especially after what I had just done, but he insisted that if you had been there you would have been amazed."
Aiden had to admit, Eudorus had known him well. "I would have been. I am proud of how my beautiful priestess turned out." He grinned seeing the blush creep onto her cheeks. "So how long did you lead my men?"
Shaking her head and rolling her eyes at his teasing tone, "Eudorus led them, but he stated that this particular battle was for 'Lady Briseis' and they were to listen to my word as if it was his. Personally, I think your men just saw it as another order, but perhaps they too were seeking a bit of payback for your death. Who knows, I stayed with them for a while, just learning what I could from Eudorus and your men about fighting. Two years past before I realized I couldn't stay any longer. I wasn't going to age after all and that would have become abundantly clear in time. So I bid the men and Eudorus goodbye, with promises to stay safe and send word to him every so often of how I was. Then I went out on my own, wandering from place to place, taking on odd jobs and meeting interesting people. My return to Greece only occurred when I received word that Eudorus was dying. That's when I told him about what I was. He was going to know something was odd when he saw me again and I figured he was passing, he deserved to know the truth. I was sure he wouldn't believe me, thought he would think I had gone mad, but he just laughed. He said he always suspected there was something I hadn't told him, pointing out that he was an old dying man and I still looked as I had the day I met you both on the beach of Troy."
Aiden sighed. It hurt knowing that he hadn't been there to bid his most loyal soldier goodbye. "How did…" he cleared his throat "How did he die?"
Brenna could see the sorrow in his eyes. She placed her hand on his cheek to comfort him. "He lived to a good age and died peacefully in his bed. He deserved that much. His wife had already passed from sickness and his son in battle. You know, he was certain that if I had been granted immortality than you must be out there somewhere as well. He was so adamant about it, kept saying that 'Lord Achilles would not have died so easily'. Before he slipped away…he told me to have faith, that if you were out there that someday we would find each other. I assured him I would, though inside I was certain that day would never come. He smiled at me one last time, closed his eyes and then he was gone. He was granted a funeral pyre worthy of a great warrior." She wiped a few tears that had slipped down her cheeks away.
"A better friend I have never had than Eudorus of Pthia." Aiden wiped a stray tear off his own cheek. Trying to lighten the mood once more, he continued. "I still find it utterly amusing that they showed you such respect. Eudorus…well, he knew how much you meant to me. My other men though, I didn't think they were aware."
"As I said, I think it was more out of loyalty to Eudorus and you than it was out of respect for me. It's not as though they owed me any allegiance. I was not your wife or Eudorus' wife." Brenna surmised as she leaned against him.
"The Myrmidons were fiercely loyal soldiers. If they were told you were special to me or to Eudorus they would not question that. Besides, if we had returned to Greece when I had planned…you would have been my wife." Aiden explained to her. His men had been some of the most feared warriors in those days and extremely protective of those who were cared for by their leaders.
Brenna smiled at that statement, "If only things had happened differently. Well whatever the reason, I was grateful to have known them. They were all good men. You must miss them and your family."
Aiden nodded, "I think about them every so often. I wonder how long my mother lived after my 'death' and of course I think about Patrocleus. He would have made a fine soldier had he survived; and yes I do miss the Myrmidons. I've always hoped that they all had good lives once I was gone. Now that I know Eudorus led them after me, I know they most likely did." He smirked, "What's more they protected my priestess and taught her how to kick a bit of ass too."
She had to giggle at that. "They did help to protect me yes, and they taught me how to protect myself. As for the ass kicking; I'm not sure that's the right word for it. I can defend myself if necessary, but I'm not some amazing warrior." Brenna smirked, "Though that doesn't mean I couldn't give the great Achilles a decent match."
"Oh you think so huh? What say we put that to the test? I'd like to see just what Eudorus and my men taught you." Aiden said before kissing her lips.
Brenna kissed him back, savoring the moment before she drew away. "You'd better be careful, I may surprise you."
Aiden looked at her with that damn cocky grin she both loved and hated. "I did always love your surprises."
Hope you enjoyed if you're still reading. Sorry once more it took so long. I've had this chapter finished for a few days, but I've been tweaking it and trying to make it flow a bit better. Not sure what you'll think of it, but send me review to let me know. I can't make any promises of when the next update will be but hopefully it won't be as long as this one took.