Thanks to you all who despite my slowness in updating continue to support my work. And thanks to deelove1 for your kind comment. It's really nice.
For those who wondered why there is three parts in the chapter 11 in french and only two in English, I reassure you it is exactly the same text, just the number of part differ.
CHAPTER 11 (End)
Three weeks passed since Hephaistion's disappearance. After he left Sidon in the Abdalomyn's hands, Alexander and his troops joined the rest of his army in Tyr.
Having heard the news, all the Macedonians came to alexander to say their condolences for his loss. Even if some enjoyed it secretly.
Parmenion and Crateros wish to see and increase their military and political influences with Alexander. Parmenion knows that, from now on, no obstacle will come to hinder his path to the power. He hopes to convince Alexander to change his mind and to return in Macedonia. Parmenion is ready to sacrifice his son Philotas upon the altar of his ambition. In obtaining Alexander's favors, none will equal his power in the army. He will bow Alexander to his will.
With Hephaistion's death, Thais can't help herself to think that the road to the power opens up to her again. Hope reborn to conquer again her King. Without Hephaistion, all her dreams will become true. In spite of her excessive confidence, she is lucid enough to know she would have to be careful to get closer to Alexander again. But, from now, none will come and stop his aim.
So what surprise to see Princess Barsine close to alexander when he came form Sidon. It looks like that the two ones became inseparable since Hephaistion's death. Rumors run. Everywhere, people whisper Barsine is Alexander's mistress.
When Opis reports the rumors, Thais is enraged.
But her ire becomes terror when Cleitos arrives under her tent with soldiers to interview her and Opis about the love philtre given to Alexander. At first, she denies. But when Cleitos starts to torture Opis, Thais doesn't resist. She pleads Cleitos to stop.
Opis shouts from the pain that Cleitos inflicts her.
« Pity Cleitos ! Don't make her suffer anymore, I plead you. I will say all you need to know. »
Cleitos stops his gesture.
Then Thais says all. How seeing Alexander lost all interest for her, she used all means to regain his favors even witchcraft. She explains the witch, the love philtre and the rest. How losing patience seeing Alexander despite the potion get away from her. How she increased the dose and Alexander's violence with her after that. But she let under silence her hate and jealousy to Hephaistion.
Satisfied, Cleitos putting in place some guards in front of the tent, he detains the two women inside. then he goes and makes his report to Alexander. Barely he is out that Thais runs to Opis who cries on the ground, she takes Opis in her arms to confort her. Thais shakes with fear because she knows his fate is in between Alexander's hands, from now on.
The King summoned his officers for a council of war. Arsabes is serving wine to the officers after they takes place. The council starts, his generals making one after another their report about the situation. Alexander announces the naval sustain from the Phoenician Kings Gerostrate and Enylos and also the one of Chiypriot float. The news changes the deal. As soon as the jetty is finished, they could send a double offensive by sea and by land. Fortified by these good news, the Macedonians don't doubt their victory upon Tyre anymore.
Alexander makes too the point on what happened in Sidon. Then annonces that he will try a last pourparler with the King of Tyre. If this one accepts to send back the augur Vel and Straton, he will spare the citizens.
When the council finished, as the officers exit the room, Alexandre asks to Parmenion, Crateros, Cleitos and Ptolemy to stay.
Alexandre waits that they are alone before to ask :
« So, Cleitos, we listen to you. »
Cleitos reports Thais' admission. Parmenion lets out with some disdain :
« Bah ! Women ! »
Cleitos continues his talk and speaks about the witch he interviewed some days ago.
« The love philtre that Thais thought to give you, had the aim in real to target Alexander. She added to the formula the power of a demon. »
Alexander is confused.
« To target me ? But How ? And what was her interest in this affair ? »
« That's exactly what I asked her. Their aim was and is always to weaken us from the inside. »
« Their ? »
« She acted under Darius' orders. »
« I want to question her myself. Make her come here now. »
« I knew you would say that. I take the initiative to make her come, her but also Thais and Opis. They wait outside. »
Cleitos turns around and makes a sign to a guard. This one exits and comes back with the three women followed by others guards.
Alexander observes the women. With dropped heads, Thais and Opis are in the arms from one another, shaking and afraid. As for the witch despite what she went through, she sustains his gaze with bravery. He talks to her directly.
« What does aim pursue Darius ? »
The woman stays quiet. Cleitos takes her by her arm, shakes her roughly and orders :
« Talk woman ! »
« It is evident. Rumors run in Babylon. That nothing stops Alexander. That Macedonians are invincible. All Great King he is, Darius can't take the risk to have his authority questioned. Your advance and your victories damage his power. He ordered me to follow your army and to find a way to make you fail whatever the means. When this slave came to me, I take the opportunity. »
« But how would this potion weaken me ? »
This potion poisons the soul. At regular dose, it destroys slowly the one who takes it, changing his character, making him lost all will, making of a man a puppet. If you want to protect yourself from the bite of a snake cut its head. Without none to lead this army, this would have been enough to stop this invasion. But seeing you, I guess those scatterbrains didn't respect my instructions. »
« What do you mean ? »
« To high dose, the demon wakes up and takes the control of his host. Forcing him to act against his own will in feeding on his anger, his fears and his lust. »
Cleitos and Alexander exchange a gaze.
« The effect is short in time but devastating. And that acts like an antidote, in some sort. If these women have given you this potion after that, this one will not have any effect. But it seems that I make a mistake. The demon seems to have no influence on you, Alexander. I must say I am really impressed . Until now, I never met someone able to resist a demon. »
Perceiving another exchange of gaze between Cleitos and Alexander.
« Unless… »
Looking in Alexander's eyes as if she could see deeply inside, she says slowly :
« Yes… I see… The demon unleash his power… »
Without letting the woman continue, Alexander orders :
« Execute her and send her head to Darius. I have no doubt that he will understand my message. »
The old woman pales. When two soldiers comes and takes her, she fights with violence to free herself despite his age. She lets out with hate before exit :
« You think to get rid of. But be careful of the demon, Alexander. one day or another, it will be him who will avenge me. You will try to resist, in the end you will lost all the ones you love. »
« That's here where you are mistaken, witch. I have nothing to lose anymore. »
A shout of rage follows his words. Escaping one moment her guards the woman throws herself on Alexander. She scratches Alexander's face. Some pearls of blood appear. The guards control her just in time before she starts again. She lets out a dement cry, she licks Alexander's blood on her hands then throws words in an unknown language like litanies. The words resonate and seem to repeat ad infinitum. As and when the recitation is said, the woman enters in transe. Her eyes stays focus on Alexander in an intensity and a fixity provoking a growing uneasiness for all the ones who observe the scene.
Finding back his lucidity, Cleitos shouts his orders :
« Take away this woman ! Take her away and execute the sentence immediately ! »
Hearing the condamnation, barely the witch is out that Thais throws herself at Alexander's feet begging his pardon and pleading merciful for her and his slave. Distracted by the young woman, he doesn't pay attention anymore to the sorcerer's threats.
Ptolémée pleas on his turn :
« Please Alexander, Thais acted like that cause of her love and her rancour. She will never imagine such consequences. »
His words irritate Alex who react with fury :
« By love ! It was too in the name of love that my mother poisoned my soul with her murderous thoughts. Is that supposed to reassure me ? »
« I know she acted with carelessness but let her another chance. I love Thais, Alexander. And she must die… Think about Hephaistion, what you felt. Don't impose on me this ordeal. I plead you. »
To his words, the pain and the anger. Alexander would like to say why Thais is responsible for destroying the love that Hephaistion has for him. But he says nothing. Looking Ptolemy with a gaze full of anger he says :
« Let Hephaistion out of this affair. »
Ptolemy understands he made a mistake and doesn't say anything.
Alexander stays quiet a moment.
« Well ! I accept to the condition that she will be from now under your whole responsibility. Her mistakes will be yours. »
Then speaking to Thais :
« Don't make the same mistake twice Thais. I will not be so merciful the next time. »
« You have my words Alexander. »
« About your slave, you will inflict her ten whiplashes. Ptolemy will survey that you will execute this order and that you will be present at it. »
Thais would protest but she says no more. Alexander knows Thais' love for her slave. Through her, it is Thais that he punishes.
A caravan of marchants is at the gate of Alexander's camp. The news spread without waiting and the camp of caravaner installed at distance of the military camp is assaulted by a crowd of slaves, servants and curious people so happy to exchange and trade new merchandises. Arsabes with Damianos wanders through the stalls following his curiosity. The most luxurious objects stand alongside trinkets, weapons and essentials.
With his list in memory, he tackles a task. As they almost finished their shopping, a merchant attract Damianos' attention. Taking him by the arms full of persuasion, he tries to push him to his stand. Diverted by the gift of the gab, he lets himself convince.
Trying to flatter him, the merchant exclaims :
« Follow me officer ! I can show you the most strange and the most beautiful treasures coming from all the Persian Empire, from the edge of Egypt to the far land of Amazons, Some objects like you never see in all your life. »
Mislead by Arsabes' presence, he adds :
« A important man like you who owns a so beautiful slave can stay indifferent in front of the most precious and most rare items. »
Take a horn in his hands, he presents it to Damianos. With an air of confidence, he says :
« This is the horn of an extraordinary animal, crushed in powder this horn will offer you a thousand and one nights of pleasure. They say that this horn give to this animal a ferocious sexual appetite that last longer than all you can imagine. I am sure this will please your beautiful slave, don't you think ? »
Damianos can help himself to redden in seeing Arsabes trying in van to retain a laugh. Then taking another one of his treasures :
« Look at this stone, it shines with thousand lights. The legend says that the Gods themselves enslaved the sun inside. If you wear it during a battle, it will make you invincible, blinding your enemies. »
listening distractedly the merchant praising his goods, Damianos' gaze wanders from a thing to another. When suddenly, he pales seeing an object that he thinks to know. Taking this one between his hands, he turns to the merchants and asks y roughly.
« Where does this sword come from ? Where did you find it ? »
On his turn, Arsabes blanches at the view, and lets escape a surprised cry.
« I see that you are a connoisseur This sword is really rare, it would come from Amazons' land. it would have be owned by the Amazon Queen herself who… »
Damianos interrupts him brutally.
« Stop to lie ! I know this sword and the one who possessed it is a friend of mine. Where did you find it ? »
Hearing these words, the man lost his composure. In seeing Damianos' murderous gaze, raising his hands in a peaceful sign, he moans :
« Ok, ok. I admit that I lied a little bit. It is not Amazon Queen's sword but I never did anything bad. I swear »
Exasperated, Damianos grabs the man by his clothes and shakes him. This time, shouting, he orders :
« Answer ! Who sold it to you ? »
The man goes white in front of the threat to come and stammers :
« I bough it in a little village far in the south on the Phoenician coast, to a man, a stranger. »
Seeing the argument between the two men, a crowd forms around them, attracting the curiosity of Alexander's soldiers. Among them Cleitos who comes closer :
« What the matter ? »
Damianons showing the sword, explains the situation. Without waiting, Cleitos calls two soldiers ordering to bring the merchant to the camp. This latter starts to supply swearing he didn't do anything. But he is forced to follow the soldiers. Cleitos addresses to Damianos :
« You are sure ? »
« More than I could be »
Cleitos nods and asks him to follow. Damianos complies with Arsabes on his heals.
In Alexander's tent, tension is high. Barsine, feeling his uneasiness, took his hands to confort him. Alexander looks at the sword on the table trying to hold back light of hope that would want to rebirth in his heart. He turns away from the sword to the merchant who shakes with fear in front of him.
« Describe the man who sold the sword. »
The man stammers but listening his story, alexander tightens his fists. The flame of hopes blows by the merchant's words. The man he describes is not Hephaistion but looks like in all point to Vulco. Not wanting to see his expectation disapear so soon, Alexander insists :
« Was he alone ? Was there someone else with him ? »
« No My Lord. Tehran was alone when he came to me. »
« When did you see him ? »
« It was some weeks ago, already. »
Alexander thinks about it a moment.
« How many for this sword ? »
The merchant shakes his head and bow in deference:
« Nothing your Highness, it is my pleasure to offer it in return. »
« Your pleasure ! Really ? »
alexander answers with some amusement, not at all fooled by the merchant's obsequious attitude.
« And your pleasure, would it go to accept a nice sum of money to lead my men to the place where you bought the sword ? »
« Not only my pleasure but my joy ! How could I refuse a so profitable proposition ? »
Alexander laughs at the merchant's facetiae.
« Well ! It's a deal ! »
Talking to Cleitos :
« Choose some trusting men, that they go with him, disguised in merchant. I want them to find Vulco.I want to know what happened. »
For himself, Alexander whispers :
« If Vulco is alive why didn't he return ? What does it hide ? »
Hearing Alexander, Cleitos answer in low voice :
« Do you believe he betrayed us ? »
Alexander crosses Cleitos' gaze without answering, haunted by uncertainty. Until now quiet, Barsine intercedes :
« Alexander let me go with them. The village is in Persan territory and you will need someone who know well the language. »
But Alexander objects :
« It is too dangerous Barsine. I already lost Hephaistion. It is out of question I lost you too. »
« But Alexander, I know well the land to have accompanied Memnon. Plus, you know in our culture, it is usual for the women to lead business like men. None would suspect anything wrong about my real intentions. »
Cleitos go further :
« She's right Alexander. No one will doubt a noble persan woman accompanied with an escort to travel through this land. I will be easier for her to appeal confidence of his fellow countrymen. »
Alexander thinks about it a moment and accepts their point of view.
« All right ! But you will not travel alone. Damianos and Arsabes will come with you. Cleitos, you are in charge to rule all the details. Barsine, I want news to each stage of your travel. »
Barsine agrees and follows Cleitos.
At some hundred kilometers from the Macedonian camp, Not suspecting the events who trouble Alexander and his entourage, Hephaistion sitting outside Azel's home a hand on his belly, is looking at the everyday life of farmer world. Common and peaceful scene so far away from his own tourments.
Azel giving some seeds to chicken which frolic in the yard, then moving away to the garden to harvest some vegetables for diner. Well away from the main house, there a little forge where Azel's older son works with Vulco's help. The two men cause of both the sun and the heat form the forge have took off their top, exhibiting shiny torso. Hephaistion observes not without some interest the two men who in turn hit metal. Hephaistion admires the strong muscles from Vulco's back. This scene is not without reminding him another body.
Under the spell of the memory, Vulco's torso lets place to the one of Alexander. The persan land disappears and he is back to remembers a beautiful summer day.
The Prince Alexander accompanied Hephaistion on his father's domain. Hephaistion presented Alexander to his childhood friends. Defied by those latter who prided themselves to be the best wrestlers, Alexander couldn't resist the challenge. Under lazy and friendly gibes, the improvised tournament took place with a joyous ambiance. Each one supporting his champion, Hephaistion who didn't participate despite their insistances, observed the scene from afar. Laughing to facetiae from one, applauding victory of another.
He coudn't help himself to let his gaze run along Alexander's nude body. Admiring the harmony of his torso, the muscular and firm butts, the long and elegant legs. In spite of his smaller height facing the other present men, he was well commensurate with a strength out of the ordinary. He was well placed to know. His physical beauty was paired with a high spirit. This latter allied to his regal bearing gave him a presence that make you forgot his height, letting only in your memory the grandeur of the man.
Hephaistion's gaze ventured on this body, running along the torso to stop, not without some emotion, on the lower abdomen. Some would say that he was fulfilled by the Gods and, contrary to what people whispered(1), didn't let any doubt about his virility. As Hephaistion could testify, and as the soft pain he felt between his thighs reminded him. Alexander showed such passion the previous night. Demanding and insatiable. To the point that Hephaistion finished to beg for mercy. Despite his exhaustion, he laughed when Alexander, pouting and grumbling, conceded to his request.
That's was one of the reason he refused to participate the tournament. Their passionate exchange had let number of marks on his body that let no doubt on what happened between them. And even if his friend knew, He didn't like to show the evidence of their relation. One of his friends seeing Hephaistion's gaze on Alexander, could stop himself to tease him.
« I that true what people say in Athens, Alexander ? »
Alexander who drank, leaning nonchalantly on a well of the yard, put his cup and asked curiously :
« and what they say in Athens, Demetrias ? »
Observing Hephaistion attentively, Demetrias said :
« Some said that you let yourself rule by Hephaistion's thighs. »
At the look, embarrassed and upset, that his friend sent him, Demetrias laughed. He tried to decrypt the gaze that Hephaistion and Alexander exchanged like if they shared their own language. Then Alexander asked :
« And who say that ? »
« Diogene of Sinope(2) »
Keeping his eyes on his lover, Alexander lean lightly his head aside, an usual gesture and answered :
« Well ! If Diogene said it it must be true. Isn't he the philosopher ? »
In seeing Hephaistion reddened even more, a tender smile spread on Alexander's lips.
Hephaistion let the tenderness of this memory invades him. But another souvenir full of jealousy, pain and rage takes place gradually. And Alexander's words resonate : You are nothing without me.
In spite of the oppressive heat, a cold shiver runs through him, as bitterness raises in his throat. A shadow upon him makes him start. He puts up his eyes on Azel's affected gaze. Perhaps She saw his pale face or it is simply his dizzy spell from the last days, either one, she hold out a small packet with herbs inside. She explains how to use it and adds :
« This will help with what you have. »
What I have ! The young man exclaims on the inside and with some worries? How could she know ? He has not time to question himself that Azel commands ;
« Follow me ! You will help me with the cooking and I need someone to take back water. »
Hephaistion is bow away. This is work for woman not for him. Now with some anger, he says :
« I am not a woman ! »
Without answer, Azel turns back, a hand on her hip, and raises a dubious eyebrow in looking at his belly with an eloquent gaze. Hephaistion's throat tightens like when, child, his mother catch him in the act of telling lies. Without knowing why, he needs to justify himself and lets out a pathetic :
« It's complicated ! »
« Oh ! I am sure of that ! »
With a gesture to the forge, she adds with a tone which deny all argument :
« But complicated or not, there are men who need to eat and vegetables that wait to be peel. So go to work ! » And without waiting, she leaves.
Hephaistion rolls his eyes cursing the women, but finally follows her. He joins Azel in part of the house where she prepare the meal. A fire burn on the ground, at the centre of the room. in a delimited area by bricks. Upon the fireplace, a tool for the cooking. A large opening in the room permet to the smoke to evacuate.
Against a wall, a dresser. On it crockeries and other tools. A table and some shelves on the wall complete the furniture. Two amphores then a stamnos and a pelike(3) put on the ground. Inside seeds, flour, oil and wine are kept.
Azel sit close to the fire, show him two pails.
« Go and bring back water ! »
With an exasperated sigh, taking the two buckets, Hephaistion obeys. Vulcan and Eshan, Azel's older son, look at him with curiosity. When he comes back from the well carrying his two burdens, Vulco giving up his work, meets him.
Without a word, Vulco takes the pails. Hephaistion protests :
« I am not impotent. »
« You're tired. Why does you command to yourself such task ? »
« SHE commanded. » Answer Hephaistion in showing the house.
« And, since when did you let a woman impress you ? »
« There are not creatures I am use to. And this one, well… She is frightening. She could give lessons of command to Alexander. »
In front of Hephaiston's offended attitude, Vulco can't help himself to smile. In seeing this, the young man frowns.
« There is nothing funny. She orders me and she wants I cook. »
Vulco can't help himself but burst out laughing.
« You are not helping ! Really ! »
During their talk, the two men arrived at the kitchen. In seeing Vulco coming in with the buckets, she sniffs with scorn but says nothing.
Hephaistion articulates in silence : « You see ! »
Vulco laughs again and leaves letting Hephaistion and Azel alone. Without looking at him, this latter says :
« Go to work. You will need some clothes more appropriated for your travel. we will go to the market tomorrow to find some material. Despite your efforts, you would not continue to hide your state before long.
Hephaistion grinds his teeth when she evokes his state. But judging useless to deny from now, he asks :
« How do you know ? »
« Women know that. And your morning nauseas was a good indicative. » She says without adding anything more.
Hephaistion looks at Azel with insistence and curiosity. This latter remarks his gaze.
« What ? »
« You don't seem to put a judgement on what I am. I am not the first person like me that you met, am I ? »
Azel stays quiet, she seems to weigh up the pros and cons before to answer.
« It was some years ago. Before I was married, I have found work in our Satrap's palace. I was at service of his favorite, Jamshid, a young person like you. We became friend. He was so alone and with time I became his confident. I loved him a lot. But I wouldn't be him. »
« He didn't have your beauty. But his…originality added to his attractive features made of him an exceptional being. He fascinated the persan nobility and his master in particular — always in search of the rare gem — but isolating him from the other people in the palace. To become the favorite saved him from the sad fate reserved to people like him : a sexual curiosity trained to pleasure noble hosts of the master during feasts and orgies. So without wanting it, Jamshid attracted attention from all. To all this you added Satrap's exclusive favor and ferocious jealousy appeared inside the harem. »
« Despite the richness given by his master, he was not happy. Until the time where, like you, he was pregnant. His master in knowing his state, even if he kept him his affection, lost all interest in him. Versatile, he took another person in his bed. Seeing this, Satrap's wife who always was jealous of the young androgynous, took this opportunity to poison him. She was afraid that this child to be put her in the shade. She hadn't yet give a heir to his husband. »
« So yes, I know people like you, Hephaistion. And I find back in your eyes this same pain. I don't know what you flee, but in memory of Jamshid I will help you. »
Azel works back on her task. Hephaistion looks at her. At the exception of his mother and Barsine, he never have any interest in women. And to say the truth, these ones nevr attracted him. Their mystery frighten him a bit. He shows them only a kind of paternal condescending. So, Azel surprise him by his bossy and voluntary attitude. She intrigues him.
But, a critical gaze cuts short all other question, and makes him understand that he has his part to do…
Some days later, Hephaistion, pacing back and forth in the bedroom, is furious :
« It is out of question ! »
« Hephaistion be reasonable ! Azel has an excellent idea. We have to be prudent. If someone discovers your true identity… It would be the best way to travel unknown. You know, a couple will attract less the attention that two male strangers in enemy land. I don't want to be arrested for spying. And then how do you mean to explain that ? » — In pointing with his finger on Hephaistion's belly.
Hands on his hips, Hephaistion looks daggers at him. But he has to admit Vulco is right.
« You said that your hero Achilles once, to escape his ennemies dressed like a woman. »
« all right ! But if you say a word about this to anyone… »
Hephaistion leaves his threat up in the air.
Sending a look to the feminine clothes, he accepts reluctantly the inevitable. This travel will seem to be really long.
Alexander, after a long and hard day, returns to his tent where Bagoas waits with a bath ready. The discussions with Tyre have failed one more time. Tyre's King has rejected his demand to deliver Stratton and the augur Vel.
The building of the jetty that has to connect Anchadarus(4) to the coast is day after day delayed cause of the attacks from the float of Tyre. Even if, from now, he has under his order the Cypriot and Phoenician float, the jetty appears like a strategic point to put an end at the siege.
Taking the measure of Alexander's naval power, Tyre's citizen understood that all naval fight will conduct them to their end. Strategically, Tyrian float blocks all access to all ports of the island. Accumulating all the triremes, forbidding in this way Alexander's float to drop anchor.
Alexander has no other choice that to end the jetty. Their last naval attack by the entry of the part in front of Sidon having failed. But it is without taking into account the incessant attack of Tyrians. Sending burning boats, those ones succeeded to destroy the two defensive towers that Alexander order to protect the men building the jetty. Then sending a important number of rowboats, the Tyrians made an exit en masse. Taking profit of the debacle provoked by the towers in fire, they came up to the jetty. Tearing the fences that defended it they set what stayed on fire.
Recovering the control of the situation, Alexander ordered to enlarge and double the jetty to put more defensive towers. And commanded to his engineers more defensive towers. As for him, he will leave tomorrow to Sidon to gather the float already there. Come back to his memory the talk he had about this with Hephaistion and the kiss that followed. The souvenir, bittersweet, acts like a balm on his wounded heart.
A crash brings him back to the present. In seeing on the ground Hephaistion's sword with the knob broken, Bagoas falls on the ground, terrified. Trembling with fear, he waits for his punition. Alexander leads to the young eunuq.
« Come on Bagoas ! Get up ! I am not in anger against you. »
Bagoas, surprised by the attitude of his master, asks :
« Will you not punish me ?
« No, Bagoas. I had enough make suffer the ones I loved. »
Then taking the piece of the sword.
« Let me see ! Maybe it is fixable. »
To his surprise, he remarks that the knob is not broken. The part that fall is a clasp that hide a hole. Alexander discover the cavity contains something. He get out form it a roll. In seeing Hephaistion's seal, his face pales as soon as. He sits. He looks stupefied the roll with trembling hands He doesn't dare to open the letter. From fera of what he will learn.
Then resolutly, he unroll the letter.
in few time, I will face some events whose the end is more than unpredictable. I don't know if Abdalomyn and his suit will arrive in time so that you can come and save us. But I will have the satisfaction ti save them at last. And if the fate must be gruesome, I wish before to join Hades' kingdom to appease my spirit.
I have for eternity the souvenir of our first encounter anchored in my memory. And form this day to today, you have to know I have never stop to love you. I loved you so much that despite your jealousy, your possessiveness, your moods, your anger, but too your dreams, for all you share with me. For your fights, your ideal. For all your promesses that we made. You personify all I have always desired. The perfect equilibrium between beauty and intelligence. No other than you can touch my heart and my soul in this way.
But, putting aside Aristotle's lessons, letting the passion take me, I have hated you Alexander. O how much ! My hate at the measure of my huge love ! I wanted to punish you, to make you suffer as much as I suffered. You broke my heart and my soul, Alexander. I wanted to die. And I almost succeed in Issos. I anted to punish you. But I realized little by little that, to punish you punished me equally. Because, despite all, despite Issos, my love for you refused to die. In the contrary and to my great displeasure, like the Phenix, it seems to reborn form ashes.
Should I have seen there the sign of your innocence ?
Because some strange dreams haunted me, saying me that you was not my enemy. I tried to speak about them at Aristander. All this troubled me, disrupted my soul, making fall my spirit.
These moments of separation that I mean we have to do, help me to think about what happened before and after Issos. My thoughts were contradictory. on one side, I remembered our years together. And on another side, this horrible night where lover you became a demon. And those words so terrible you said…
There was such a distance between the one I believed I knew and the one you were this night. A part of me wanted desperately to believe when you said to not be yourself. After all, Gods love to play with us. It would be possible you was the victim of some evil spell. But another part of myself feared you and could believe your words. The fear of the suffering that you can do again, paralyzed me, losing my judgment and my reason.
Then Damianos told me after your leaving for Anti Lebanon Mountains, He said what Thais did in the shade. His revelations gave me a shock. As, suddenly, all made sense. What you said about you, losing control, your incessant change of mood. All explained. I understood then how much you was not yourself. And how much I were so unfair with you. Sentencing you irrevocably.
Forgive me to lost my faith in you, in our love. To let myself blind by the hate and the despair. Letting the passion took the pace on the reason. Such regrets for the lost time that we could have together. Such regrets…
I have a last confession to do. It will not be easy on you.
This night at Issos was not without consequences. I bear your child Alexander. I am aware how much my confession is cruel. Because if you read this letter, this means that this child and myself have left the living world. This sole thought fulfills my soul with an unbearable sorrow. Forgive me for the wrong I do. But, I owe you the truth.
I must be honest with you. In learning the news, I hated this child as much as I hated you. He was then in my eyes the irrefutable evidence of your betrayal. But, when I almost lost the baby during the hunting party in Sidon, I knew how much I desired this little being. Even if this frightened me and even more today.
Nothing would erase the remorses to steal you those precious moments close to our child. Perhaps this will be a thin comfort for you, my love, to know that since the beginning the guilt tormented me to say nothing.
Don't blame Aristander and Philip, Alexander. I force them to keep the secret. Despite all, they are both the most faithful men toward you.
I know the promesses that we shared. One soul in two bodies, Aristote said about us. But, even if you seems to lose your soul, promise me one thing, forget those promesses. Promise me Alexander. Lead your dream until the end. Conquer the world for us two. You have to accomplish our dreams. Do it for me Alexander.
I will be forever by your side. And when time will come, then Charon(5) will come and search you. Faithful in life like in death, I will wait on the riverbank of Acheron(6), at the entry of Hades' kingdom. Renewing our vows like we did in Troy, we will take an oath on the edge of Styx(7), finally gathered for eternity.
Farewell my love,
Your Hephaistion forever
Alexander lets slide the letter from his hand. Tears run on his face. His soul searching to cling at the last shreds of his reason, Alexander, struck, falls on his knees. Badgoas talks to him but he hears nothing. He faints. When he regains consciousness, disoriented, Philip is bent upon him. Cleitos and some guards not far away.
In seeing the face of the doctor, comes back Hephaistion's revelations. From rage and despair, he takes the man by the throat.
« Why did you say anything ? Why ? I would never let him. If only I knew… »
Mad with pain, Alexander tightens his fingers on Philip who starts to suffocate. Cleitos and the guards intervene to separate the two men.
« Alexander, control you ! » Cleitos intimates in shaking him.
The panting breath all with rage and effort mixed, wild, he looks at Cleitos trying to understand, to tale back control. Alexander sling to his friend form so long like a shipwrecked man in a storm. Lost, dazed, he says words Cleitos doesn't understand.
Cleitos looks at the doc.
« You all right, doc ? »
This one nods.
« Give him a sedative. We have to know what made him lost his mind. »
« That's the letter, my lord. »
Cleitos turns back to Bagoas who points a roll forbidden on the ground.
« Explain ! » Cleitos orders.
Bogaos tells the succession of events, to their entry in the room. Picking the letter, Cleitos recognizes Hephaistion's seal. He pales. Closing without reading the roll, he squats close to Alexander. Even if he is curious to know the content, the letter is addressed to Alexander. Without his king's permission, never he would violate the intimacy of the two men in reading something he has not right to.
Only among his companions, Hephaistion had this privilege. That had always created jealousy from the others when Alexander, sealing Hephaistion's lips with a kiss on his royal ring ensuring in this way his silence, let his lover read upon his shoulder.
So holding out the roll to Alexander, he asks :
« Say me what's happened Alexander. What does the letter say ? »
Alexander hold it tight close to his heart.
« Everyone out except Philip and you ! »
Turning around to the other, Cleitos orders :
« Did you listen ? Execute ordres ! »
Once alone, Alexander addresses to Philip.
« Why this conspiration of silence ? You betrayed my trust Philip. »
« I swear Alexander that I tried to convince him to say all. But you know like me how stubborn he was. I was worried about him, it seemed instable nervously. That is for the reason why I agreed to his demand. Hoping that later, calmer, he would confide in you. But I was wrong. Forgive my arrogance Alexander, I believed… »
But Alexander cuts him.
« I had the right to know. You deceive me Philip. You don't seem to estimate the significance of your acts. If I knew his state, he wouldn't have left me one seconde. I would have protected him, even against his will. And maybe he would have been among us today. »
Cleitos' look goes to one to another, curious and dubious.
« what do you talk about together ? »
Alexander sighs. He shows the letter.
« You know what happened at Issos »
« In the letter, Hephaistion says… — Alexander's throat tightens and a veil fall on his eyes. He took a breath — He says he bears my child. »
« By all the Gods of Olymp »
Cleitos sends a murdurous gaze to Philip.
« Alexander is right you would have to say the truth. What did you think Philip ? »
Philip doesn't answer, what's the use. A posteriori nothing seems to justify his decision.
« In his letter, Hephaistion pleads in your favor. I will not take any sanction against you and Aristander. But never deceive me again. If it would happen again, I will not be so magnanimous. »
Philippe thanks Alexander and leaves the room. Barely alone, Alexander lets fall the mask. Passing a hand on his face, he confesses :
« It is so painful Cleitos. The Gods sentence me again. How many time I will have to pay for my mistake. Their punition is more terrible than Prometheus' tourments. This letter… This letter is one more ordeal from the Gods. send to torture me. My thoughts run in my head without respite. And from now, I will think about all he crossed alone. To his tourments. To what he lived in thinking to his child convicted without to be born. As many pikes that stab me and kill me a little more every day, as many burns on my wounded soul. His absence is a lack which , with each hour and each second that pass, eats me away and consumes me absorbing over time my forces one by one. Letting me tired, exhausted. I fight each morning to find one reason to wake up and to live. How could I continue ? »
« In battle, In conquering Tyre in his memory. » Cleitos put his hands on Alexander's shoulders and shakes him to reason him. « Don't let Hephaistion's death succeeds there where this witch failed. DOn't give to Darius the joy to see you down without fighting. Remember what they say about you after Chaeronea(8): The king is great, but Alexander is even greater. Be this Alexander. Be Alexander the Great. Show them all ! Fight ! »
Without knowing it, making echo to Hephaistion's words, he adds :
« Do it for him ! From the Elysian Fields, do you believe he would like to see you give up your dream of conquest. You will lost your soul, Alexander. »
Troubled to find in Friend's words, those of Hephaistion, Alexander can't help himself to see a sign of the Gods. Hi time is not over, he has so many thing to accomplish before to join in Hades his beloved.
« Your right Cleitos. It is time that Tyre bow under my yoke. Since the king of Tyre refuse me justice. Then all will pay for my revenge. They will learn what it cost to defy me. »
(1) Athenaeus of Naucratis spoke like that about Alexander in : The Deipnosophistae, X, 435 :
« Theophraste says too that Alexander has few interest in lovemaking. His mother Olympias (with Philip's agreement) sent a Thessalian courtisan, called Callixine, woman with a rare beauty, because they feared Alexander was impotent. But she had to make the most insistent sollicitations to put him in her arms. »
(2) Diogenes of Sinope - Sources : Letter 24.
Historically, Diogenes de Sinope (philosopher, Cynic school) sent those words by letter to Alexander the Great when he was already a king. In the letter of which we know only some fragments, he says :
« If you wish to become beautiful and good, throw the rags on your head and come to us. However you will not be able to do it, because you are hold by Hephaistion's thighs. »
We can translate the first sentence by : give up power and possession and join a life of simplicity. Simplicity that Diogenes applied to himself, living humbly.
The rags being a metaphor for the crown that from now Alexander wore, symbol of his fonction and power.
Out of context, it is difficult to know if Diogenes, in the second sentence, meant that in reality it was Hephaistion who owned the reins of power as the letter seems to presuppose. But, at last this shows that the relationship between Alexander and Hephaistion was known from all. And that in the eyes of their contemporaries, and in regard of what Diogenes suggested, it was not platonic.
(If you are interested I wrote a little article on my blog dreamofvioletsuki on wordpress)
(3) Amphore, stamnos and pelike was containers used to preserve food.
(4) Ancharadus - another name of Island of Tyre.
(5) Charon - Mythological character who was in charge to help the death soul to cross Archeon to the underworld.
(6) Archeron - river of sorrow. The Archeron is a secondary river of the Styx.
(7) Oath on the Styx - This oath was particularly irrevocable. When a God swore a oath on the Styx, Iris collected water from the river in a golden cup. Anyone perpetrating perjury had to drink this water, and lost voice and breath during one Big Year, that is to say nine years, and was banished from the council of Gods for nine other years.
I did an adaptation for our two lovers : A oath of love.
(8) Chaeronea - A battle between Macedonians and Greek army composed of Athenian and Theban forces but too from Corinth and other allied cities. The battle took place in August/September 338 before JC on the place of CHaeronea. During this one, Alexander leading the Cavalry and the Hetaroi met and vanquished the Sacred Band of Thebes, offering the victory to the Macedonian army on the Greek troops.