Chapter 6:

Women and Lions

A hand grabbed her arm and she gasped, before being pulled into the realm of night, the darkness making her anxious, knowing that her mother wasn't far off. Discordia scowled when she realized just what happened, and waited for her scolding like a sulking child.

"What are you playing at, girl?" Nyx twirled her fingers through her daughters hair and yanked, making Discordia send stars falling and skittering through the skies, chaos in her wake.

"Angry, mother?" She taunted, as the goddess sought to calm the disrupted night.

"You are behind this, aren't you?" The woman asked, dark hair like the carpet of midnight, stars shimmering in the strands. "I have tolerated you far enough. The contest you began brought upon war to the humans, these pathetic mortals are scrambling to save themselves and their families, all because you were jealous you were not invited to a wedding. So you decide to begin a game between the goddess', and end up breaking a marriage and destroying lives. Oh, yes, my dear, I am angry, and you will stop this right here."

Discordia shrugged, "Perhaps the boy merely saw more worth in living rather than dying."

"Why must you tamper with Apollo? With Minerva and Neptune? Do you wish to be forever banished? Or worse?"

Discordia's smile slowly faded, "I am a goddess of disruption, chaos and destruction. Why do I tamper with the gods? Because that it my nature-I was made this way. I chose nothing of my fate, it chose me."

"You poor decision making has ultimately proved otherwise."

Discordia glared, "How kind of my mother to praise me so."

"What do you want? What could you possibly gain from Troy's success?"

"I have no part in these plots," Discordia stood tall, "And you have no right to accuse me of such."

Nyx sighed, pained, "Daughter-"

"Goodbye, mother. How lovely our meeting was."

She disappeared in whirlwind of shattered stars.

"Be careful," the dark goddess finished, shaking her head.

)O(

Breseis had never felt so weak, or so utterly helpless. She had not eaten since she was within the Greek, Achilles' tent, and she felt heavy and sick with fatigue. Her stomach roiled painfully, and she swallowed the bile that pooled heavily, thick and bitter, in her mouth.

The tiered tent stretched over the formidable beached ships were dark-and after her attempt at escape, she was quickly sent under the deck to a metal cage, hardly large enough to lie down in. The wood smelled of salt and rot, and breseis felt as though she would choke and die with that reek in her nose.

When someone above opened the door that led to the surface, the light from his fire burned her eyes more than it would have seared her flesh. The brutish, thick-set man unlocked her cell before grabbing her by her thick and and hauled her cruelly to her weak feet, that drug along and rolled painfully as the young girl was led to the beach, where she was mercilessly tossed to the sand.

"A gift," her transporter snarled, to a hoard of Greek soldiers leering at her body, "From your King."

The cheer that rose among the men would most certainly haunt her nightmares for the rest of her days. They laughed and whistled, snickered and sneered, making a heavy weight settle in Breseis belly.

To describe all of the things that happened that night would surely have maidens swearing against men-for amongst the groping, the leering, and disgusting statements lay the true wickedness of man.

The soldiers tossed her limp body around, mocking and humiliating her.

"Oh, what a pair you have, young priestess," one licked the shell of her ear as he squeezed both breasts roughly, even as she clawed fruitlessly.

"Give her here, give her here!" Someone called as she was yanked and shoved into another's grip, nearly stumbling into the sand again.

"Virgin robes?! You won't be needing those much longer!"

They tore the flimsy fabric to her waist, and panicking, full of adrenaline and fear, Breseis clawed the face of the man before her and he shouted with rage, brandishing a red-hot iron in which to scar the soft underside of her breast that was bared them.

Breseis looked to the skies and prayed for Apollo to save her.

"Achilles!"

The acolyte was dropped to the sand, exhausted and delirious, amazed as her original captor slew a Spartan with the iron she had nearly face not moments ago.

"Who dares lay hands on the war-prize of Achilles?" He roared, looking truly like a god in his armor and grieves, arms bare.

The men were silent.

"Agamemnon surrendered her to us," a voice rang out, making the men search for the fool who dared admit such.

Discordia grinned, staring at Achilles from where she sat on the ledge of the ridge beside the Greek encampment.

"Such insults will prove fatal," the demigod spat like and enraged lion, "Agamemnon will mourn the loss of Achilles-as will your families, who shall know that my sword may have saved your descent to the Underworld."

After locking eyes with a number of the soldiers, all staring apprehensively at one another, nervousness in their eyes at the bold claim from the brave Achilles.

The hero then gently lifted a near unconscious Breseis from the sand, her moan like a plea in his ears as he whisked her to the Myrmidon camp, where his men stared and seethed in fury at the sight of their Lord's war-prize treated like a common, Spartan whore.

Eudorus and Odysseus stood by his tent.

"Speak quickly, my friend, for I have other matters to attend to."

Odysseus winced at the sight of the beaten priestess in the other man's arms.

"King Agamemnon wishes to..." he swallowed, "Return your prize."

Achilles lip curled in disgust, and Eudorus snorted derisively.

"Before or after she was raped by thirty and five men?" Achilles spat, fury in every feature.

The King of Ithica began to reply, but Achilles shook his head and ducked into his hut, where he placed the priestess on his bed of furs, gently lifting her to sit straight.

Seeing her made his blood burn like the sands slain by the Trojan summer. Her eyelashes were coated in cracking, dried blood that poured from a wound above her brow. The cut in her lip had split and was dripping down her chin. Her chest was bared to him, and a number of bruises shaped like thick fingers surrounded her breasts and arms. Her eyes were clouded and her body was weak-leaving her limp like a plant pulled from the earth.

"Breseis," Achilles called to her, "Breseis."

Her eyes spun lazily to meet his panicked expression. He raised a goblet to her lips filled with cool water, and when a drop graced her thick and parched tongue, she latched on to the cup with both hands and guzzled it away.

Achilles sighed softly through his nose, relieved to see her snap to life. She drank nearly two pitchers before Achilles gave her food, fresh fruit, which she stared at anxiously, awareness and worry in her gaze as she chewed on her split lip.

"Eat," he told her, placing the tray between them.

She hesitantly took a date, biting it in half before chewing slowly. She eyed him with her deep, honeyed eyes.

"Why?" She murmured, her strength regaining.

"Why save you?" The question had him reeling.

"Why do you care?"

"Why do you not?"

She glared, a spark in her flaring that made him smirk at the sight. She was not one for weakness-it did not become Breseis to be a weak damsel, pining after the hero to save her.

"I was unaware that soldiers cared for anything other than war."

"We care for many things-I myself, care for you."

She eyed him, uncomfortable, taking a heavy, pink apple in her palm, biting into hit. She chewed fro a long moment, staring at the furs around her feet.

"I saw you fight them," Achilles commended her, noticing the wounds in her skin. "You have great courage."

The words he spoke before still came so easily.

"To fight back when people attack me? A dog has that kind of courage," she scowled, disappointed in her just actions of retaliation.

Achilles bent and retrieved a coarse cloth from another basin of water. She gave him that same furious, unwavering stare as she did before, and Achilles fixed her with an identical expression.

"Your wounds must be cleaned," he pressed the cloth to her throat and she slapped his hands away.

"Woman, do not fight me," he warned, his eyes blazing. This was not for her-this was for him and his own conscious.

Breseis settled, but glared as he cleaned sand and blood from her tawny skin. Once finished, he sent a soldier for more food and a robe to replaced her torn one.

"I've known men like you my whole life," she said clearly, her title in her voice as she bundled the rip cloth to her chest.

'Must we travel down this beaten path again?' The hero thought with an audible snort.

"What, do you believed to be different than a thousand others?" She spat, her capture making her feel helpless and so she lashed out. "Soldiers have no compassion-they understand nothing but war. Peace confuses them."

"And the soldiers that died trying to protect you?" His words fired like great bronze spears, "Are they so inhuman, so animalistic and base?"

"Why did you choose this life?"

"I chose nothing, Breseis-I was born and this is what I am."

She looked down, staring at the near black skin of the grapes she held, her mind spinning violently.

"And you? Why did you choose to love a god?" He knew he shouldn't finish his original comment, but it was great fun to tease her, "I think you will find the romance to be a bit...one-sided."

She curled her lip in disgust at his slight smirk.

"Do you enjoy provoking me?"

"You've dedicated your life to the gods. Jupiter, god of thunder. Minerva, goddess of wisdom. You serve them."

She nodded, saying nothing, as if she could feel from the last time they sat there, in that very tent, that he was going to rattle her world with his next words.

"And Mars, god of war, who blankets his bed with the skin of men he's killed? And Discordia, goddess of chaos, who brings war and desolation to Troy's very gates?"

Her eyes, usually so sharp, so piercing with unveiled conviction, fell as she thought.

"All the gods are to be feared and respected," she murmured, but it was a poor argument, if one at all.

She felt it-and Achilles knew, for he saw it in her eyes as she stared at him, expectantly, and smiled softly, as her soft brown eyes fell to his azure ones, waiting for something she could not place.

How did she know? Perhaps because she was so close to him, or due to her training for a life in the temple, or perhaps she had a touch of a clairvoyant in her blood, but all the same, it was there.

"I'll tell you a secret...one they don't teach you in the temple."

She leaned forward, enraptured, and Achilles slid even closer, so not but a few tense inches lay between them.

"The gods envy us. They envy us because we're mortal. Because any moment might be our last. Everything's more beautiful because we're doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We..." His final statement stuck in his throat like a hunk of thick honeycomb, "May never be here again."

She sat, awed, yet assured after many years of deep turmoil. She had thought these things, many years ago, and never dared to speak them aloud. But this brute, this soldier, whom she believed to be so below her, so piteous for his ignorance and naivety, had come to the same conclusions as educated royalty. Her head, cleared of its fog, now spun with a harsh and very violent realization of society, class, and the gods.

After assuring she was comfortable and settled, the once hero of the Greeks lay upon his furs bare, and awaiting the moment when brave Breseis would attempt to slay him as he slept.

He watched as she crawled to his armor, where she found his bronze plated blade. She stared at it, weighing it in her hands before glancing at him where he lay, still and silent as he watched her from beneath his nearly closed lids. She stood, slowly, on weakened legs before kneeling beside him. She raised it above her once, then slowly lowered it in indecision, before raising it again, intending to plunge it into his open, scarred chest.

She was shaking, he realized. Her breathing was labored, and she was obviously struggling to commit a murder she could never truly go through with.

Achilles waited for her to push the blade along his throat before making the move that would mould his future for the rest of his life.

In an instant, fate had changed. Breseis, unable to kill the man who would ultimately destroy her home, and unable to watch her beloved city fall, the priestess placed the gold knife to her to her throat, intending on ending her own suffering.

Discordia stopped time, looking as shocked to be needed as Achilles was to see his beloved attempt to end her life.

Discordia saw the woman kneeling and nodded in quick understanding.

"Our agreement stands," she murmured, "Stop her now."

Achilles, although confused and infuriated, grasped the hilt of the blade as time began anew and the goddess of chaos disappeared into the cold Trojan winds, leaving the two alone with their inner and outer struggles.

Breseis' eyes were as large as a does before struck with a spear.

"How...did you...?"

Achilles threw the blade to the sand with more force than necessary.

"What are you doing?" He snapped, grasping her shoulders and shaking her hard.

"I...I..." she shook in fear, whether of her own actions of his blatant fury, he did not know.

"Am I so awful, Breseis? So monstrous that you intend to slay yourself to escape my reach?" Although he spoke softly, his words were far louder and more vindictive than she was prepared for, "If so, I will not let you. I will stow away every knife, every sword and blade-"

"It is not you," she finally was able to choke out, "But what you will do and I cannot do."

The hero snarled, "Speak plainly, girl, for you tire me greatly."

She tried to free herself from his painfully tight grasp and he held her still, locking their eyes.

"You...you are to destroy my home, slaughter the soldiers, the sons and fathers, the elders, throw the babes from the towers and make slaves of the women. There you lay, unprotected, and, from what I believed, deep under Hypnoses spell-yet I could not slay you, could not shed your blood..." She spoke with an odd emptiness, her hands cold against his leg, but despite so, she continued,

"So I must die," tears gathered in the seam where her lashes met, "Because..."

"Breseis," he shook her again, making her stare at him openly, "I will not allow you to mock the gods so. For your life is a gift given by them, and to return it as such would be a disgrace upon you and the fates," he rubbed the well of her cheek, catching tears on his thumbs and wiping them away.

"Do not leave me," he murmured to her, "Not while there is still time."

Her gaze fell to his mouth before rising again.

"Time for what?" She whispered.

"Time to change," he answered, cupping her jaw and tilting her head up and connecting their mouths.

Although the night was different, the outcome was, thankfully, the same.

Sorry it got a little...preachy at the end. I don't know, if I was in her place, I wouldn't want to watch the end of my home and become a slave. Anyway, please review! I did as everyone asked!