Inde Irae: Hence These Resentments
Aurum est potestas, a well known adage in Rome dictates. Gold is power.
In the land of the wolf-kin, a gold coin can buy a slave, a pouch of gold can buy a herd of sheep for the slave to round, and a bar of gold can buy a hundred acres of pasture where the herd of sheep that the slave tends to can graze. In Greece it is no different. Whether it be in Athens, Sparta or Troy, gold can buy land, livelihood and even life.
Tyler of Rome squinted faintly under the glow of the moonlight as he continued to ride forth towards the Greek encampment. At any other instance there would have been at least five soldiers in his company, sworn to the protection of the heir to the throne of Rome, but that night the prince was alone. He was making his way towards the enemy's camp with only himself, his trusted steed and thirty bars of gold.
The gold was supposed to be gifted to the King of Pergamos upon the successful negotiation of the economic treaty that Tyler was facilitating in behalf of his father, but the news of Caroline's capture made him forget about everything and he headed off to Troy as soon as he could. Needless to say, the treaty fell apart and now Tyler had in his hands thirty bars of gold, which he was determined to use to ransom Caroline from the Greeks.
He knew that leaving Pergamos in the first place was already a disobedience to his father, and what he was about to do – buying Caroline's freedom with gold that belonged to the Roman people and not to him – would only add to his offenses against the empire of Rome, but he simply didn't care and he simply couldn't sit there and wait any longer. The king of Troy was dead, and as his father had always told Tyler when he was younger, the collapse of a kingdom begins with the death of the king.
He wanted to believe that the Trojans would eventually win the war, but it was a risk that he was not willing to take. Mikael of Sparta was cunning as he was powerful, whereas Damon, the new King of Troy… Tyler did not wish to speak ill of Caroline's brother, but the fact that the Trojans were at war with the Greeks because Damon so brazenly took Elena from the man she was spoken for certainly wasn't heartening.
If he wanted to save the woman he loved, then Tyler had to do something, no matter how far fetched the idea was.
Thirty bars of gold. Back in Rome, it could build one hundred warships, buy the services of one thousand warriors, feed an army of ten thousand men.
And if the King of Sparta was as shrewd as they said he was, then he would know that gold had more value in war than a princess of Troy.
Elijah's voice was filled with apprehension as he hurriedly entered his brother's canvas in the Greek camp. Soldiers had interrupted his sleep to relay news of Caroline's escape, and immediately the heir to the throne of Sparta set out for his brother's quarters. Klaus wouldn't have let his Trojan captive go freely, so if Caroline escaped then she must have incapacitated him somehow. The gods forbid she harmed Niklaus or hell–
Elijah halted in his tracks, stunned at the sight that greeted him.
On the bed sat the third prince of Sparta, alive and unhurt, breathing heavily as he clenched his fists so tightly on his lap that his hands had turned into a pallid ashen color. A violent rush of anger surged into every single vein in Elijah's form before he could control himself and in an instant, the worry that he felt for his brother was replaced with cold-blooded wrath.
"You let her go?" Elijah roared lividly. "I asked you to mind Caroline and you let her go?"
Klaus' head flicked towards his brother's direction, fury ablaze in his own blue eyes. "Don't you fucking dare –"
"Enough!" Elijah cut off, trembling with rage so intense that it reduced his brother to silence despite Klaus' own outrage. His face twisted into a demonic expression, one of that whose soul was gripped entirely by darkness if not madness.
"Get yourself a bloody horse. She mounted Achilles and is making her way back to the city. I don't care if your arm bleeds a fucking river– you will ride with my men and bring my wife back even if you have to shoot your warhorse dead. No one will rest until she is returned to me, do you understand?"
The younger Spartan balled his fists even tighter. He didn't care about anything anymore – not about the war, not about Caroline and most certainly not about Elijah, who could shove his goddamned orders back into his lying mouth for all Klaus cared - but Achilles was a different matter.
The horse had been with him since he first bore Sparta's flag in war, the most constant and steadfast companion that Klaus ever had in the battlefield. Achilles had allowed no other man to take his reins before, but if Caroline had somehow managed to mount him then Klaus was certain that Elijah would not hesitate to kill the horse if only to get Caroline back. The only death that the brave stallion deserved was an honorable fall in battle, not a pointless end brought by a man's deceit of his own brother; no, Klaus could not let that happen.
Elijah's voice bellowed like thunder descent from Zeus himself. "Do you understand?"
Without another word, Klaus rose from the bed and left the tent.
"What's the matter?"
Tyler placed a reassuring hand by the side of his horse's neck as the animal paused from its canter. Its ears moved alertly, perceiving an unfamiliar sound that its master's human hearing had not yet sensed. The prince of Rome immediately scanned the horizon, knowing that whatever caused his horse to be alarmed could also bring him danger.
The first few miles gave him nothing other than seas of sands which stretched to the unseen distance of the shores of Troy. But suddenly, far out north, he saw something that made his heart pound uncontrollably.
It was an august stallion of dark bay color, powerfully built, easily eighteen hands high. The animal galloped with a dignity that only a royal warhorse had, swift but sturdy movements making it appear unassailable as it pressed its way towards the city of Troy. Its rider, however, was anything but a warrior – layers of light white chiton flew against the wind that the horse's speed defied, the same way wheat blonde tresses waved against the darkened hue of the nighttime sky.
Tyler's breath was caught in his throat, and he could only utter one world.
Caroline desperately spurred the horse to run faster, doing her best to hang on to the animal as though it were life itself. The last time she glanced behind her she could already see a cavalry of no less than a dozen Spartan soldiers hot on her trail; yet in front of her, the gates of Troy were still nowhere to be found. She was a long way from home, but she was determined to escape and the least she could do was to stay ahead of the enemy.
She thought she heard a faint voice in the wind calling out something that sounded like her name, but there was no time to stop and listen if it was real. Instead she closed her eyes, holding on tighter to the base of her mount's neck.
The voice sounded closer, louder, and this time she could unmistakably perceive a galloping sound that accompanied it. It sounded like… was she hallucinating?
She opened her eyes. Amidst the dust of the disturbed sand, a providential image revealed itself to her, refusing to wane even as she blinked her doubt away, and Caroline then knew that it was real.
The prince of Rome was riding on towards her, his face filled with a sense of urgency as he rode to save the woman who held his heart.
Caroline kicked with her heel to impel the horse to run even faster. The horse allowed her command, but no sooner than it further hastened its already fleet pace, the Trojan princess heard the low but clear sound of a whistle.
The stallion she rode immediately stopped, almost throwing Caroline off its back when it reared and suddenly began galloping back to the direction of the Spartan camp.
"No, no!" Caroline cried desperately, pulling sharply at the horse's reins in an effort to make it halt and turn around. The steed flung its neck back every time the Trojan tugged on its reins, but it refused to follow. Caroline's heart thrashed even more violently in her chest when she saw that the Spartan cavalry was approaching and her horse was dead set on meeting them.
She glanced back and saw that Tyler was still following her. Should she…
In front of her, the Spartans drew near enough to let her recognize the formerly faceless soldiers. Foremost on the riding line was Elijah and behind him… Klaus.
Caroline swallowed as she decided to leave her fate to the gods. Squeezing her eyes shut, she let go of the horse's reins and jumped off the running animal.
She felt as if she was falling in slow motion. She could see all too clearly how Tyler's eyes widened in horror as she fell off her mount and how he kicked wildly at his own stallion to rush to her. She heard a fateful thud as she landed on the sand beneath her, feeling no pain as her frail body met with the fine flaxen grains even as their loose coarseness scrapped at her skin. She rolled over four or five times, conscious of each time a graze or bruise was made on her body, yet feeling utterly nothing. The moment she stopped moving, pain finally gripped her.
It took only a few more seconds for Tyler to finally reach her, but once he did the Roman prince immediately knelt down and cradled her sore body, soothing her with whispers as he held her close enough for Caroline to feel the frenzied beating in his chest.
"It's alright, Caroline," Tyler whispered, unable to help himself from pressing a light kiss unto his beloved's forehead. "I'm here."
"Tyler…" Caroline mouthed weakly. "Stefan and Damon… Father… how are…"
"Shhh. They're all safe. They're waiting for you to return to Troy." The Roman said, biting inside his cheeks to keep himself from shaking as he lied to his future queen. It was not the time to tell her that her Father had been killed by the Spartan king.
He gathered the Trojan princess in his arms and rose to run back to his horse. He had to take her back to the city as soon as possible – for both their sakes.
He had barely made it to three yards from his stallion when he heard a sound that made his blood run cold.
Anger flared heatedly inside Klaus like the flames of Hephaestus when his eyes landed on the sight of the brazen Roman prince who had dared carve the fresh wound on his arm. And whether he admitted it or not, his anger swelled tenfold when he saw the grating bastard carrying Caroline. The Spartan came unto the realization that she was the future wife whom Tyler spoke of when they first fought, and for a reason that he refused to think further about, it left a bitter taste in his mouth.
The Roman warrior gingerly set Caroline unto her feet, his arm circling on her waist to support her as he drew his sword. The Spartan cavalry took position and surrounded him, their own swords drawn and waiting only for Elijah's command.
"I am Tyler, Prince of Rome. I come with no intent for confrontation," Tyler said, though he did not lower his sword.
Elijah narrowed his eyes. "Sparta is at peace with Rome, but you hold in your possession something that belongs to me. Return my wife of I will pry her from your hands and leave you with none."
Color drained from Tyler's face when he heard the Spartan heir refer to Caroline as his wife. He pulled the blonde closer to him, his calloused fingers running against the soft fabric of her garment and eventually unto her smooth skin. His mouth parted open in dread as he realized for the first time that the back of her chiton was ripped to the waist.
Tyler swallowed, forcing himself to face Elijah. "I have thirty bars of Roman gold on my horse. Take them, together with my pledge of loyalty and service to Sparta. Just let me take her back to Troy!"
Klaus' jaw tightened, but Elijah showed no reaction to the Roman's words at all.
"I have no need for gold nor men." Elijah replied stolidly. "I have need only for my wife."
The Roman and the Spartan stood each other down wordlessly, tension hanging thick in the air as both refused to heed the other's demand.
"Tyler." Caroline suddenly spoke.
Elijah, Klaus and Tyler all turned to her.
She breathed in deeply before giving the Roman prince a faint smile. They were surrounded, outnumbered. There was no way they could reach Troy now. Elijah would not have her slain because he still needed her, but Tyler…
"I'm alright, Tyler. Please let me go."
Tyler looked into her eyes, disbelief and defiance swimming to the ochre surface. "No!"
She placed a hand over his chest, eliciting a sharp draw of riled breath from Klaus before he could even stop himself. The fair-haired prince of Sparta kept his silence, yet the hands that held on to the reins of the warhorse he regained shook from the turmoil of everything pent up inside which he tried his damnedest to ignore if not to outright deny. Achilles could sense his master's unrest and the horse began to fidget.
"Tyler… you have let me go."
A pained expression washed over the Roman as he realized that there was nothing he could do to stop Caroline. Alone, he was helpless against the Spartans, but even with the most powerful army he was even more helpless against the pleas of the woman he loved.
"Tyler, please let me go." She said for the last time.
Tyler's hand slowly fell off her waist. Caroline summoned every ounce of courage and strength left in her weary body and walked towards Elijah, kneeling on the ground in front of his horse with her head bowed low.
"I offer myself to you." She said, voice trembling but blank. "I give you my loyalty and my life. I will never try to escape again and I will do everything you bid me to."
She raised her head, allowing both Elijah and Klaus to see the grim determination in her eyes. "You have me. Let Tyler go."
Elijah felt sick, almost unable to bear the guilt and the shame that he felt for making an innocent woman give up her life for a man she wanted to protect. He could let both of them go now, but he needed Elena and for her he needed Caroline.
"Do I have your word, Caroline?"
"You have my oath."
Elijah's eyes softened as he alighted from his own black stallion and slowly raised Caroline up her feet. Neither of them said anything as Elijah helped her up his horse and then mounted the steed himself once more.
Caroline gazed at Tyler, forcing a weak smile unto her lips as her eyes bade him a wordless goodbye. She turned away from him quickly, not wanting to see the first man who had told her he loved her suffering the pain of being unable to save her, only to meet Klaus' hardened gaze.
She eyed him uncertainly from lowered lashes before dropping her head to avoid his blue eyes. She didn't know what made her kiss him that night nor why she couldn't look at him now, but she could feel her own heart thumping uncontrollably. Perhaps it was from fear, from tension, from shame… must she know? It didn't matter now more than ever. She belonged to Elijah and he would bargain her for Elena soon enough.
"Stay with the Roman but do not harm him." Elijah commanded three of the soldiers. "Let him go at sunrise."
With that he reined his horse to travel back to the Greek camp.
Klaus stayed on, eyes hazed and mouth slightly ajar as he forced himself to comprehend what had just taken place.
Caroline… did she return the Roman's affections? Did she… dare he say it, love him so much that she gave herself to Elijah to save him? What happened to them last night… did it mean nothing to her?
But why was he even thinking about those things in the first place? He shouldn't care who held the Trojan's affections. She was an enemy and that was why he drove her away in the first place. She should mean nothing to him.
Klaus gripped Achilles' reins tighter as he decided then and there that he was going to leave Troy the very next morning. Everything in this wretched war would drive him mad – Caroline, Elijah and his deception, even the prophecy that he would die in battle. The only reason why he was there in the first place was because he wanted to fight for his brother, but as Elijah obviously had plans of his own then there was no longer anything that would keep Klaus invested in the godforsaken war.
He pulled on his stallion's reins, meaning to head back to camp to prepare for the voyage back to Sparta. But then he remembered something and turned back.
He pulled a royal dagger of Sparta from the gilded sheath that hung on his waist. With aquiline eyes and an aim known only for precision, he threw the dagger onto Tyler's direction. The Roman's terror-widened eyes were still trained on Caroline and Elijah's trail and he never saw the weapon until its razor-sharp head buried itself into the flesh of his arm.
The Roman drew back, a cry of pain escaping his lips as blood flowed from the wound made by the still-impaled dagger on his arm. He looked at Klaus, his eyes wild with too many emotions that it was difficult to recognize what any of them were.
Klaus merely stared coldly back at him, blue orbs saying everything that needed to be said.
Now we're even.
"I'm sorry, Caroline."
In the sanctuary of his own tent, Elijah had no qualms about expressing contrition for the young Trojan woman who now sat on his bed, whose wounds he himself tended with a salve made by the Greek medicus.
"Speak none more, my lord." Was the stoic reply he was afforded.
He paused from running a lukewarm cloth over the faint bruises in Caroline's arm, his chest constricting at the impassiveness she now treated him with. "Call me Elijah, as you called me before."
"Speak none more, Elijah." Caroline repeated, no less stoic.
Guilt snagged at Elijah's throat, disabling him from answering. He tried to shake the feeling off, moving on to wipe the dusty remainders of sand on Caroline's neck. The sleeve of her chiton slipped from her shoulder; Elijah gently lifted the fabric back to its place, only to frown in alarm when he noticed that the back of her chiton had been ripped apart.
"Did Klaus…" he said, unable to finish the question. Did Klaus force himself on you?
She looked away from him, refusing to answer.
Elijah strove to calm himself as he stood up, taking from the bedside table the cup of sedative brew that he had asked the medicus to make. He handed it to Caroline, who eyed it wordlessly.
"You need to rest. It'll make you sleep."
"I need no rest."
"But I want you to."
She looked up at Elijah and took the cup from him, drinking the bitter concoction until there was none left. She had given herself to Elijah, told him that she would do everything he wanted her to as long as he kept his end of their agreement and let Tyler go.
Elijah helped her lay down on his bed, drawing his sheets up to her shoulders as he gently uttered a reminder. "You promised never to escape again."
Caroline replied with a brief nod before closing her eyes, having no desire to see any Spartan any longer. She had sworn her life and her loyalty to Sparta, but her heart would always remain for Troy.
Elijah sat on the edge of the bed, watching his Trojan captive slip into slumber. His eyes never left her, the same way only one thing occupied his mind.
"Where is your master?"
Niklaus of Sparta barged into the quarters of Kol's men with a patently irate expression painted all over his face. Upon returning to the Greek encampment, the third son of King Mikael went straight to his younger brother's tent to retrieve the armor he lent him, but he did not find Kol there.
The soldiers looked at each other nervously, none of them wanting to speak. Does Prince Klaus not know…
"I said, where is your master?" Klaus repeated impatiently.
The captain of the legion finally stepped forward.
"Prince Kol did not return from the war, my lord. He was captured by the Trojans."
"My lord, Prince Niklaus is outside. He wishes to speak with you."
Elijah nodded at his soldier, bidding the man out of his tent. With one last look at Caroline of Troy, now truly Caroline of Sparta, he rose from the bed and prepared to meet his brother.
There was, after all, much to discuss.
Klaus entered his brother's canvas, a grim look matching that of Elijah's rendered sharply on features. The brothers' eyes bore straight into each other the moment they sighted one another, but neither of them moved nor spoke until the guard who escorted Klaus in went back to his post outside.
Elijah was first to act. He walked towards Klaus, and without any kind of warning, pummeled his fist straight and hard into his brother's face. A sickening crunch was heard as his fist connected with Klaus' jaw, drawing blood from the younger man's lip.
"That is for violating my wife." The Spartan heir pronounced, his voice dripping with both hatred and disgust.
The familiar metallic taste spread throughout Klaus' mouth. He wiped the corner of his lip with the back of his hand, the crimson liquid staining his skin.
"And this is for letting her –"
Elijah sent another first into his brother's direction, but this time Klaus caught it head-on with an open palm. He seized his Elijah's first into his own hand, almost crushing bone as he finally released all the anger that he had been keeping to himself all night. Elijah clenched his teeth in and muffled the cry of pain.
"This is the last time you will lay a hand on me," Klaus declared, gritting his words as he gripped at his brother's hand even harder. "And you will never again impose your will on me. I don't care if you are the heir of Sparta - you're worse than those motherfucking Trojans for putting that worthless woman over your own brothers."
Elijah tried to pull his arm back, but Klaus would not let go.
"And don't bother calling Caroline your wife. I know of your lies and I know that she is sister to Damon of Troy."
Elijah's eyes widened, shock and panic immediately spreading across his features. How did he…
"You don't have to worry." Klaus declared, easing his grip slightly. "I don't care about you, I don't care about Caroline and I can't care any less about Elena so you can do whatever the hell you want. But I am not leaving Kol at the mercy of the Trojans even if it's the last thing I do."
"What in Zeus' name gave you the idea that I am abandoning my brother to the Greeks?" Elijah snarled at his brother.
"Prove it then. Tomorrow at war, tell Damon of Troy that if he wants to have his sister back, then he has to return our brother."
The heir of Sparta swallowed. He had been thinking about it all night – how to save Kol without letting Caroline go because he still needed her in exchange for Elena – to no avail.
"If you don't do as I say or if you even try to pull tricks on me, I will tell father about Caroline." Klaus said, the coldness in his voice almost chilling. "And one more thing. From now on, you can forget the fact that we're brothers."
1. Guys I'm now on tumblr as erica-dreams-in-colour. :) I've made a couple of manips for this fic that you might want to check out - just go to my FFN profile for a link to my tumblr, choose 'browse by tag' on the sidebar and then click on the image banner for Graphics/GIF's. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them. :)
2. To everyone who reviewed my stories this past week: I try to review back or at least reply to my reviewers, but I haven't been able to do that yet so I owe you guys one this weekend. :)