I am Briseis, cousin to the Princes of Troy and a brief priestess to Apollo; the sun God. I have never known more than one female warrior in all of Troy, or all of Greece for that matter. She is the reason my life is full and this is her story.
I'll begin with the simple things. Her name was Acacia, she was sister to Andromache; wife of Prince Hector; she had servants and was treated as royalty because of this but she never accepted it, she never believed she deserved it.
Acacia and Andromache were both born and raised as humble patrons of the city of Troy. Raised by their mother and father they were always taught manners, how to cook and clean, how to behave, and to always fear and respect the Gods. They were raised just as any other citizen of Troy.
Andromache was first born and Acacia followed shortly after. Acacia used to tell me about how when she grew older she began to notice differences in how the two of them were being raised. Andromache was always treated so delicately, the boys and men of Troy had always been enchanted by her; I must admit, she is gorgeous; but with her mother distracted by Andromache, Acacia was raised mostly by her father. Personally, I think he had always wanted a boy because she said he always treated her like one. Acacia said he taught her how to hunt when she was 8 and how to shoot an arrow at 9. I heard she was the best archer in town by the time she was 11, I always heard from servants about how she had won bets down in the market to eat free for weeks. She said when she was 14 her father would slip her in to be trained by Prince Hector to be a soldier. I think she really enjoyed the blade; Hector had no clue who he was training.
Acacia used to like to spar with our father when she got home from training. I used to envy her; I know our father loved her most. I remember one day I had run out to greet her as she came home with her 'free food'. She was waving and spinning a stick of bread around in the air as if it were a sword when it happened. The loud bells of Troy's tall towers rang and echoed from everywhere. They even echoed inside my head; sometimes I still hear them. She ran straight to the house, right past me, she was yelling for him, for father. I watched as she ran around the house checking every room but he had gone. She ran to her room and I don't know what for, but when she came out she was raging mad yelling to mother and myself, "Where's my armor?!" I knew then that father had taken it. He always told her she wasn't ready and Acacia always fought back. That night was awful. It was simply the worst night I had ever endured by that age. We huddled in a corner of our home; I could hear the screams from villagers and shouts from the army to attack. I hear them now still in my sleep. I heard cries of fear and I heard wives cry for husbands who may never be seen again. My heart wrenched at the thought and I just knew Acacia was reeling inside. Our father was her best friend and mentor; she would lose it if he died. Unfortunately, our father had been one of those men that never returned. I had to be the strong one of the family at that point, Acacia shut herself away in her room and over the next week or so all I could do was to try to console our mother, she was a wreck, I couldn't blame her, I knew nothing of love back then but I could only imagine the feeling of losing your other half. He had been the foundation of our home, and from that point on we needed to find out how to take care of ourselves.
My cousin Hector had always had his eye on Acacia's sister, Andromache; which is the reason why I knew so much about Acacia before I had even met her. Hector knew he loved Andromache from the start, and I think it was because her father had been killed that Hector decided to actually go down to meet her, he always wanted to but never did. I think because her father was gone he felt he had to now, to protect her and her family. Andromache was 18 when she married Prince Hector, and the people of Troy witnessed the wedding of a lifetime. The family was moved into the palace at King Priam's invitation and Andromache, now being a Princess of Troy and wife to Prince Hector, made Acacia royalty but like I said, she never accepted it.
My cousin; Prince Hector; wasn't a stupid man. He noticed Acacia's talents right from the start. He knew the stories from the servants of her and her fathers' bets around town and her skill with the bow and I think one day he actually tested her with it. Eventually; and if I recall correctly this took a lot of pleading from her; he had her as one of the palace archers. His only wish; which I personally never understood; was that the other men weren't to know she was a girl. He always said it was an issue of confidence for the other men or that they would have pushed her aside. Anyways, point is that she was in line as an archer for Troy. She and I used to laugh about one day having some dramatic point in battle where she'd rip her helmet off and suddenly her hair would come flowing out and the men in battle would be astonished, but that had always just been a joke. I never knew it would actually happen one day, but I heard it wasn't as glorious as we had always imagined.
Months passed and eventually all of Troy was celebrating the birth of Hector and Andromache's first born baby boy. He had eyes like the stars, still does, but he was truly the most beautiful baby boy.
Soon after the birth however, their mother died. No one ever found out how though, some kind of illness who knows. Acacia spent hours with her sister after that. She was always helping Andromache raise the boy and do things like clean and dress whenever Hector was out. She loved that boy just as much as she had loved her own mother. It felt like only weeks after the celebration for their child's birth and the funeral for their mother that Prince Hector and Prince Paris were sent off to Sparta to seal a deal of peace with King Menelaus that King Priam had been working on for years. Its ironic thinking about it now, they went for peace and all they got was war. When they returned after being gone for weeks, Paris had a woman with him; Helen of Sparta, King Menelaus' Queen; and like Hector and the rest of the palace, Acacia knew from the beginning that she was the start of something terrible.
She was a wonderful woman; Helen; but I hated her. I often had to tell myself 'It was the will of the Gods' but I always did hate her and I always will resent her. Though I guess it's not her fault, she came to Troy for love; I would have done the same; she just ended up being the indirect reason my love ended up dead.
Acacia was always with me and I loved her for it. I would have never survived the next couple days without her by my side. Hector was often with the army, he knew it was coming and even if it didn't at least Troy would be ready. Acacia was the type of person that would always be there for you. She was strong, much stronger than the other women in the palace of Troy. She had always been strong but I had noticed something different in her lately, she behaved like a caged lion, I could tell all she wanted to do was run to the armory and help Hector.
When the bells of Troy rang, my heart was immediately in my throat. Men were ordered to the beach to hammer spikes into the ground to slow down the Greeks as they landed. Nobody knew it at the time but Acacia was preparing herself for battle as well. She was meant to be an archer from the castle wall but I guess she wanted more. Of course I wasn't there and never saw it myself but it was said she fought fiercely as if she had been fighting all her life. After realizing it was her, Hector had actually told me she fought just as sharply as the Spartan Hero, Achilles.
The next morning Helen was terrified, Paris had decided he would challenge Menelaus for the right to Helen; naturally Hector was by his side at the front gates and Acacia was 'nowhere to be found' in the palace. Being the only one looking for her in the army I could see her from the balcony, she was standing right behind Hector and Paris holding her shield and spear, sword in its sheath by her side, she looked fearless. It was actually a little frightening to see; my baby sister, at war, looking like someone I never truly knew, a completely different side to her. When Paris broke the treaty and the war began my heart sunk, I could see Helen crying as she ran to meet Paris as he rode back to the palace. King Priam looked down on his army with confidence and I watched Hector and my little sister stand in line; they were all I cared about. As I watched them fight I began to see it for myself, Acacia was truly ferocious. She and Hector moved together complimenting one another's movements' as if they'd been fighting together their whole life; they always fought in such harmony. I almost screamed when I watched and almost died as Hector approached a Spartan warrior, he was a massive man with a massive hammer; I learned later his name was Ajax; and I wanted to sing when I saw Acacia protect Hector as he fought, I watched her run in and slash away the spear and slit the throat of Spartan man trying to kill my Hector from behind. Trojan arrows flew above our heads as the Spartans ran back to the beach. It was then I breathed the freshest breath of air I ever would.
I was put and tied up in a small tent with leather flaps for a door which seemed rather useless to me. I sat in there alone for a long time; I remember there was a bowl with a rag and a sloppy looking bed that was no more than sheets and fur rug. There was armor and a lot of weaponry lying around. Before noticing any more a man entered, Achilles, said to be the greatest warrior and a demi-god. He was an ass, but he was also my love by nightfall. The next morning as I sat in the tent I heard Achilles talk, they were going home tomorrow. I remember feeling the worst pit in my stomach; I didn't know if he was he taking me away from my home or if I had just given myself to a man only for him to leave the next day, or if he was even giving me to the brutes on the beach.
The next day, right at dawn, my cousins' army attacked. I remember they rolled huge balls of hay lit on fire down to the beach, really quite ingenious. Following that they charged, I never saw her but I was told Acacia was among them. I never saw the battle at all, and I never got the chance to hear from Hector, but I heard from everyone else just what happened. It was the kill that killed us all.
Acacia 'S POV
Everyone stopped when Hector slit his throat. Rumor was Achilles couldn't be killed, so what was happening? I tilted my head to the side as Hector knelt forward and slowly removed the boys' helmet. He was probably 17, far too young for war. Even I am considered too young, and I'm 20. Hector pulled his sword in front of him as everyone around us stopped to watch. "Wait!" I pushed the other warriors aside, "I've done this before, but only on myself and a girl in the village that I swore to secrecy. I don't know how or understand but-" the boy was choking on his own blood, I had to try this, "I pushed Hector aside as I jumped on the boys' stomach to straddle him, we locked eyes and I spoke softly, "I don't know if this will hurt but it's worth a try right?" Placing both my hands over his throat I began to pray, no certain prayer words in particular, mostly it was just pleading to the Gods. I have never known how this works or even why this works but I have always been able to heal. I've never told anyone before, no one else does it and I feel like a freak. Maybe I was cursed or doomed; no mortal should have a gift only the Gods should have. I didn't know what would happen, it's always been small scrapes or cuts I've never even tried something like this before. As I prayed and begged and put all my efforts into healing this soldier, past cuts and wounds began to show up on me, beneath my hands was glowing yellow but the boy was still choking. "Acacia that's enough you're killing yourself," Hector grabbed my shoulder. I guess using my name gave it away because my helmet was ripped off by a Spartan, throwing my head back just as wounds on my face began to resurface and bleed; Hector says I feinted on the spot, just collapsed on top of the young soldier. I woke up later in my bed back at the palace and was told how the battle ended. The young boy, Patroclus, was the cousin of Achilles. Tomorrow was going to be a horrible day.
I heard him yelling from across the wall, he was alone. We all knew what he was after, vengeance. Hector stood beside me, as I cried and pleaded that he didn't go, but he left. He said his goodbyes and he kissed our baby boy and left. I watched from the tower walls, I don't even want to talk about the fight, everyone knows how it ended. I broke down completely.
I watched over the edge of the wall as Achilles tied a rope around Hector's ankles. I remember watching him desecrate Hectors body as he began to ride away, dragging him behind his chariot. I never expected to see Acacia break through the gates below on a large chestnut horse. She was raging mad, you could tell from the other side of Troy by her shouts for him to stop and fight. He heard her and turned just as she threw a spear. He dodged it and I watched as she caught up and leapt from her own horse to the back of his chariot, she cut the rope dragging Hector, setting him free from the monster, Achilles. She gave herself for his rights to a proper burial. She fought him on the chariot and I watched as he slashed and strangled her until she broke then toss her in the back of the chariot. I watched as he stared back locking eyes directly with King Priam. I guess he figured he won more by taking two of Priam's best 'men' from him. I personally never saw her again; my final memory of Acacia was a memory of bravery I'll never forget.
I screamed frantically as Achilles returned almost completely unharmed. I knew my cousin was gone. I remember though, I remember hearing her shout from outside the tent, foul words, I knew it was her. I ran with tears streaking down my face and collapsed on her completely; I was in hysterics; I loved my cousin. She was solid even as I fell on her, never once was she weak. As she held and hugged me even she continued shouting at Achilles, yelling about how cruel he was, how she tried to save Patroclus and how his murder of Hector was useless and selfish. Hearing about it all so detailed was too much for me and I just fell in the sand. I watched as Achilles grabbed Acacia by her arms and dragged her to the other Greeks. He threw her down and I hated him when he simply said "have her, she's yours". It was the worst day for me. I heard about the insane murder of my cousin and I watched as Greeks stripped Acacia of her armor and tossed her around, like I said before though, she was never a weak girl, she fought back. Later that same night though I was saved as King Priam bravely came for Acacia, she was unconscious when Achilles found her among the other men and brought her back to us. They agreed on the 12 day funeral games; as is custom among both kingdoms when a Prince or King is killed; and we rode home. I hated and loved Achilles at that moment; it was confusing to feel that way.
The next day was the funeral for Hector, my love. Acacia was an amazing support for me, without my little sister and my baby boy I probably would have died on the spot.
When the 12 days ended, King Priam sent a scout down to the beaches. When he came back he informed us all that the Greeks had left and I didn't understand it at all why they had left behind a giant wooden horse. I never even began to think it would be a trick, Paris was right though, we should have burnt it. Instead King Priam wheeled it inside the palace walls thinking it was a gift to the Gods.
When the day ended with every Trojan drunk and worn from rejoicing, Greeks spilled from the horse opened the gates and every Greek possible flooded inside to slaughter us all. I remember there was fire everywhere, everyone in panic, horses running through the halls, it was terrifying. I ran shouting for Paris, not knowing Achilles was running through the streets to look for me. I don't know where Acacia was at the time but she saved my life in the end. When I was eventually exhausted; I ran to the gardens and collapsed to my knees praying to the great statue of Apollo. That's when everything turned into a great mess. King Agamemnon found me, ripped me from the ground by my hair, I don't remember what he said to me I was so focused on slipping the blade from my sleeve. It was the fullest feeling of revenge for me when I stabbed him right into his side. His guards grabbed me as he fell, but they were killed almost instantly as Achilles ran to my side. I flew my arms around him; I knew I was safe with him. That's when Paris found me, I guess he thought Achilles was about to slaughter me, either that or he just wanted revenge for his brother; I'll never know really, I don't want to ask, but he shot Achilles, my love, right in the heel, and as he got up to fight back, Paris filled him with arrows. He was an amazing shot but at that point I wish he had the worst aim. I remember screaming the entire time; I suppose Paris thought it was out of fear because he just continued to fire. I was freaking out I couldn't handle loosing everyone I loved. Just as Achilles fell I saw Acacia leap into the gardens, she was carrying her sword and ready to attack, to save me. I looked back to Achilles as he touched my cheek and told me it was ok; it was not ok.
I think it clicked in her mind at that moment just how in love we were. I will always love her; she gave her life for my love when she ran to us, she prayed as all of Achilles shone yellow before our eyes. I began to cry harder as I saw all the blood begin to spill from her, Achilles' eyes opened just as she collapsed to the side. I'll never know why she was so intent on saving him, maybe she didn't know it would cost her life, maybe she just really believed in our love, who knows, she will never get the chance to explain. I cried and screamed as Paris led us to the tunnels to get out the city. We found Andromache and Helen at the entrance to the tunnel, Andromache looked questioningly at me and her eyes flashed around us looking for Acacia, her baby sister. I shook my head as Paris pushed her forward and we ran as Acacia's body burned in the courtyard.
The people of Troy will never know just exactly how selfless she was, how she gave herself for love. And that's where the story ends. It always fit that 'Acacia' meant the name of a blossoming tree that symbolized resurrection. She resurrected my faith in humanity and my man I love; and for all of her actions and all of her bravery, she will always be in my heart, and she will always be remembered.