A/N: Hi, this is my first shot at a TVD fanfic so if you could please be kind. :)
Respice Finnem: Look to the End
The Aegen sea rippled endless, the cool, placid waters sparkling brilliantly amidst the blistering heat of the Mediterranean sun. Above, the midsummer skies were as clear and as boundless, with barely a cloud in sight. A lone hawk soared in the heavens, its falconine eyes beholding the distant horizon.
From the bow of the Grecian ship where he stood, Niklaus of Sparta could hardly tell where the sea ended and where the sky began. The same winds that blew the Spartan flag aflutter in the topmast tugged gently at his ash blond locks, yet the third son of King Mikael paid it no heed. He may have been a warrior by obligation, but Klaus was an artist by choice, and presently the artist in him was completely captivated by the infinite canvas of azure which reflected stunningly in his own blue eyes.
Lush lips curled into an amused smile as he thought about the irony of the situation. Blue was the colour that was said to represent peace, but he, with the hundred thousand other men in the thousand other Greek ships that now tread the Aegean waters, was sailing to war.
"Smiling all by ourselves now, are we?" a voice from behind him spoke. "I heard from the Athenians that it's a sign of madness."
Klaus smirked, not bothering to turn as he easily recognized the speaker's smug impression. "I was simply thinking about how fun it would be if I could throw you off the ship and watch you drown, Kol."
The young man grinned as he walked towards the balustrade to join his older brother. With his oak-coloured hair and soft brown eyes, Kol bore little semblance to Klaus, save for their sinewy bodies and the faint cleft in their chins. Their temperament was an entirely different matter; the brothers often butted heads because each was as bold, as brash and as stubborn as the other, but as with all brothers they secretly looked after each other.
"That would be fun indeed, but mother will kill you if father does not do it first." Kol replied impishly, looking onto the waters himself. "Besides, I am not the man prophesised to die in this war, am I?"
Niklaus' brow furrowed. "I didn't know that you believe in oracles now."
"Psh. Oracles are nothing but women driven mad by years of wanting to be touched by men. Most of them, anyway." Kol said. "But do admit, the oracle of Delphi is something entirely different."
Klaus did not answer, though his fingers gripped the wooden guardrails a little more tightly. Before they left for war, the king had sent his four sons to the temple of Delphi to seek the blessing of gods, as was custom for Spartan royalty; instead, the chief priestess told them of her vision, a message from the gods - if Niklaus went to war, he would not return home.
But Klaus was Klaus, so he paid the oracle no heed and left with the first ship that sailed to Troy.
"Did you see the look in her eyes when she foretold that you will not be back if you went to Troy?" Kol asked when his brother remained silent. "It was… otherworldly. I tell you, Niklaus, I do not believe in oracles but I cannot find it in myself to disregard what that priestess said."
"Do not be ridiculous, Kol. I have defied prophecy once, and I can do it again." Klaus retorted. "And frankly, I do not understand how you can believe any of those priestesses in Delphi, given how many of those supposedly pure women you have snuck into your chambers in the dead of the night."
The younger prince pursed his lips as he shrugged. It was known all over Sparta that when Niklaus was born a seer from Calchis had foretold that his life would be short, but with equal expanse of industry and determination he had defied the foreign oracle's prophecy and ever since refused to believe in them. It was equally known all over the kingdom that Kol was an inexhaustible flirt who dallied with any woman he fancied, and much to their king father's frustration, Kol did not care whether the women were commoners or royalties, and at times even priestesses.
"I do not look forward to your death, brother. I only wish that you be more careful." Kol said softly.
The older prince fell silent at his brother's words. Neither he nor Kol had ever been particularly expressive when it came to any emotion other than anger, and Klaus knew that it was the closest that his sharp-witted and even sharper-tongued brother was ever going to get to saying he cared about him. But it was enough.
"I have always been careful. Always one step ahead, remember?" Niklaus finally replied, giving his younger brother a small smile.
Kol nodded quietly, and Klaus guiltily turned to the blue sea if only to avoid the look of concern that was still too evident in his brother's eyes.
He tried to feign indifference, but the truth was that he felt the same uneasiness that Kol did about the priestess' prophecy. Niklaus did not believe in oracles, but he trusted his gut feel, and intuition told him that this war may be unlike the others that he had fought and won in the name of Sparta. The lone reason why he even came to the war was because if there was anything that the prince valued more than his life, it was his family.
Barely a month before, the Trojan prince Damon had abducted Elena, his eldest brother Elijah's bride, and Klaus had seen how his kind-hearted brother went through pain like he had never known before nor ever in his lifetime deserved. Now the Greeks were on their way to Troy to claim back the woman that rightfully belonged to their prince, and Niklaus, foretold to die or not, did not want to be anywhere else but by his brother's side. The five children of King Mikael were like fingers of a hand – when right was done to one, they extend a hand of friendship; but when wrong was done to one, they banded together to form a fist.(1)
Klaus' blue eyes narrowed grimly as he looked onto the horizon. The king's orders where clear: make Damon pay for his insolence, and make the entirety of Troy suffer for standing by their scoundrel prince when they could – should - have given Elena back. Klaus had every intention of standing by his brother and carrying out his father's commands.
And after that, oracles be damned, but he was going to ascertain that he would return, with everyone else, home.
In the tranquil silence of the quarter moon, Damon of Troy placed a soft kiss on his sleeping wife's forehead before gently getting up from their bed. The crown prince of Troy quietly made his way to the door, but found that he could not manage to leave the confines of the bedchamber without looking once more at the woman who carried in her womb his unborn son.
With her chestnut-brown hair falling softly upon her bare shoulders and the moonlight bathing her serene face, Elena of Sparta – no, Damon rectified himself; it's Elena of Troy now – was indeed the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. This woman had presently brought him into quite a predicament, but he doubted if anyone could accost him for proclaiming Aphrodite the fairest of the goddesses after the later had promised to make Elena fall in love with him.
Damon sighed as he turned the brass knobs to close the doors of his bedroom. Yes, he stole his wife from another man, but he could not care any less about what anyone else had to say so long as Elena was with him, in his bed, moaning his name and-
"I hope you're proud of yourself."
Damon looked up, immediately greeted by the sight of his younger brother Stefan standing outside his bedchamber. A scowl marred the younger man's usually calm face, muscular arms tightly folded across his broad chest.
This is what I get for wanting to drink wine this late at night. Damon groaned inwardly.
"Father's allies in the west have sent word of caution. A thousand warships, a hundred thousand men from all over Greece. In less than a full moon, King Mikael of Sparta will lead them to Troy, and his sons will be there to aid their brother, from whom you stole your wife." Stefan said, the disdain in his voice veiled only too thinly.
Damon rolled his eyes. Stefan was his lone brother, but more often than not he could not believe how dissimilar they were, and that was not to speak merely about appearance. Blue-eyed and raven-haired, Damon was of wiry build, lean but nonetheless elegantly strapped body allowing him to be agile and sharp. He followed his heart more than his head, trusting the gods of Olympus to steer him where they pleased. In contrast, Stefan had eyes of olive green and hair the color of wheat in summer; he was heftily built, strength and intellect his gifts from the gods. The younger prince believed in analytical thinking and apt preparedness, which to his older brother sometimes translated to being an annoying worrywart.
And that was precisely what Damon thought of him now.
"Why do you worry about Mikael and his sons, brother?" Damon bit out, underlining the last word. "You and I are enough to defeat them. Aphrodite will aid us, she is patron to me and mother to Alaric, who is kin to us."
Sefan looked at him sternly. "Do not get me wrong, brother. I am glad that you have the woman you love, and I consider Elena as my sister now. What concerns me is how you fail to think about your actions before you do them. You dragged Troy to hell with yourself when you abducted the betrothed of the man who treated you as a guest in his house!"
"Oh, Stefan, quit being your doomsaying self." The older prince dismissed. "If you think that you, I and Alaric are inadequate, then I'll wager that the Romans will take our side as well. Tyler will do anything for Caroline."
As if on cue, a blonde-haired woman suddenly appeared in the hallway, immediately seizing the arguing brothers' attention.
Her golden hair was gathered into a loose chignon adorned by a single jewelled clasp, with several loose tendrils gently framing her delicate face. She wore a chiton of pale blue, the hem of the soft fabric briefly swaying to and fro as her nimble feet halted from taking another step. Her eyes, the cerulean color of the Agean Sea during a rare cloudless day, widened nervously upon the sight of the two men.
"Speaking of Caroline." Damon said, smirking.
"What are you two doing here?" Caroline murmured anxiously. "Midnight has struck past!"
"I was merely telling our responsible brother here that the Greeks are coming to plunder Troy because he could not keep his hands away from places other than his -" Stefan took off, but suddenly stopped. His eyes narrowed as he looked at the young girl. "Should I not be the one to ask you that, Caroline? Why in Zeus' name are you awake at this hour?"
The blonde bit her lower lip uneasily. "Well, Stefan, I…"
Damon rolled his eyes again. Caroline, eight years his junior and six years Stefan's, had never been good at any kind of deception; in fact her efforts were pathetic at best. A princess of Troy, taken in as her uncle Giuseppe's ward after her parents died in the war that lost the kingdom of Thasos, she was reared to be sweet and docile like any other female royalty, and most of the time she was. But there was a light inside of her that seem to burn through her noble upbringing. She was a free spirit, eager and sprightly, fascinated with everything that the world had to offer.
"I think this is the part where I say 'speaking of Tyler'." Damon interjected.
Stefan glowered at his adoptive sister upon hearing her suitor's name.
"We were talking in the gardens," Caroline tried to explain. "We were so engrossed that we failed to take note of the time."
"Pray, Caroline, do tell what you were talking about." Damon goaded, in a poorly concealed effort to manipulate his virtuous younger brother's attention away from the topic of the Greeks.
Caroline smiled at them wistfully. "His home. Rome. Did you know that it was founded by a man who is said to have suckled from a she-wolf? Tyler says he will ask for father's permission to take me there soon."
"Tyler can ask for permission after I speak to him about his manners tomorrow." Stefan snapped coldly. "What was he thinking, keeping a woman to himself at such unholy hours! Now go to sleep, Caroline, before I get the good mind to tell father about this."
The blonde frowned but said nothing more, and the younger prince turned to his elder brother again. "Damon, we need to speak to father tomorrow. There is going to be a war, and if you want to have a throne to inherit, then please, you should begin caring about Troy more than you care about wine."
As Stefan turned to leave, Caroline looked at Damon uneasily. "He's wrong, isn't he? The Greeks… they will never conquer Troy… right, brother?"
Damon held his sister's gaze, intending to tell her not to worry, but realized that he could not. "Are you not friend to a priestess of Apollo, the one said to have the gift of prophecy?" he found himself asking her instead. "Does she tell you about the war?"
"Bonnie?" Caroline said. "She says strange things that I sadly do not understand. The priestesses say that they think Apollo truly speaks to her, but she fails to understand him and in turn fails to relay to us the god's message. They do not believe her oracles."
The heir to the throne of Troy nodded, satisfied with her answer. Apprehension still hung in his chest, no thanks to Stefan's harsh parting words, but for now, the situation seemed well enough. After all, Troy was city whose gates, in a thousand years, had never been felled.
He prayed to the gods that those gates would hold for another thousand.
Just a few notes. :)
1. This line is an indirect quotation from Our Last Best Chance, written by King Abdulah II of Jordan. My dad has a collection of books written by world leaders and I borrow a book or two from time to time. :)
2. The story is based on the Trojan War but will not follow the Iliad plot strictly. There are many details about the adaptation that are wrong altogether, like Damon being older than Stefan (Paris was younger than Hector), Elijah being a prince of Sparta (Helen's husband Menelaus was king) and Tyler being a Roman (Aeneas founded Rome after the Trojan war) but I never did find a way to work out all the loopholes so I hope you don't mind if I simply let them be.
3. As of now, pairings aren't established yet. There's definitely Klaus/Caroline, with a bit of Tyler, Kol and Elijah joining the fray, but the rest I'm not so sure about. I am open to suggestions. :D
I hope you enjoyed this, and thanks for reading!