Summary: Adara grew up in the Trojan palace, treated as a sister to Prince Paris and Prince Hector, spending her free time learning the art of healing. Until the Greeks came. While the ship that was her life quickly capsizes amid the war-tossed waters, she finds a way to stay afloat with help from the most unlikely source.
Not sure how happy I am with it - some parts I like more than others - but as it was my first really long one, I'm pleased it's actually post-able. Lemme know whatcha think, please!
Disclaimer: I do not own Troy or any of the affiliated characters
Chapter 1: Ambrosia of the Gods
According to legend, Apollo came down to test this city's hospitality. The people of Troy, assuming he was a traveler - for, by all appearances, he was - led him to the palace, where he was taken in without hesitation. After being bathed, clothed, and fed in his own chambers, the royal family paid their guest a visit. The queen and prince graciously welcomed him to their city and palace, but the king did not accompany them. Apollo thought it rude that Troy's own king did not deign to see the traveler; he'd visited many a land, and each time he was accepted into a palace, he was greeted with open arms by the king.
That night, Apollo slipped through the palace, looking for, and quickly finding, the king's chambers.
The god opened the great double doors to large and embellished rooms, taking in the walls adorned with tapestries of war and peace. Every spare inch not covered by such fabric was blocked by great shelves that rose all the way to the ceiling and were stuffed with books, most of which were precariously placed and threatening to fall at any moment.
Apollo went down a carpeted hallway, admiring the sheathed swords, daggers, and, most of all, the beautifully carved bow on the walls on either side of him. The door at the end of the hall was closed.
Unseen, as he wanted to be, he let himself into the room. This, the king's bedroom, was even more august than the other chambers combined: a fire burned in a hearth decorated with more weapons and shields; plush chairs and sofas were strategically placed on the beautifully designed rug.
But two figures sat on the large canopy bed, oblivious to the grand suite. Upon closer inspection, Apollo saw it was the queen and the prince, sitting on either side of the king.
Once, he had probably been strong and handsome, but the fragile body between the maroon sheets was drenched in a cold, clammy sweat. His face was pale, despite his years in the harsh Trojan sun. The only movements he made were when he coughed, and the severity of the action racked his entire body.
The god bowed his head in respect, understanding now that he had been taken in and given the best service available in a palace suffering its own terrible misfortune.
When the prince and queen went to check on their guest, they found him standing in the middle of the room, showing himself for what he truly was. Both watched him, mouths agape, as he approached and handed the queen a single piece of cloth around something large and heavy. When the queen unwrapped the material, she gasped, recognizing the shimmering gold of the ambrosia of the gods. After explicit instructions on how to use his gift to them, the god oversaw treatment for the king.
By the next morning, the king was both feeling and looking better than he had in weeks, and the city of Troy saw Apollo as their protector.
Adara had been waiting to learn how to mix this particular poultice for several days now. But of all the days Daan could have taught it to her, he chose this day. She glanced out the window again, trying to discern how much time there was until sundown.
"Adara," Daan sighed, not even looking up from his mixture after he'd concluded his tale; he knew what she was doing. "The princes will arrive when they arrive, and there will be no chance of not hearing it when they do."
Blushing at being caught, Adara quickly brought her attention back to her lesson. "Sorry, Daan," she apologized.
"Don't apologize to me. Save it for the man whose life will be at stake," he replied casually with a shrug of his shoulders. She didn't say anything in return, and he worried if perhaps that had been a little harsh. At the sight of her wide eyes, he figured it must have been. "Oh, come now, Adara. You know you almost have it." She recovered quickly, and he was relieved to see his protégé relax a little, though not much. "Besides, despite your skill, you would not be called upon in an emergency. They leave that to me, not seventeen-year-olds.
"Now," he continued, getting up and moving to the chest in the corner of the room. Adara had seen him open it on numerous occasions, though it always remained locked at any other time. He took a while rummaging through it, and Adara started to wonder when he drew from his pocket a second key she'd never seen before. After being elbow deep in the trunk for a few moments, he emerged, closed and locked the chest, and returned to his seat with a cloth in his hand. "This is the final ingredient," he explained, unwrapping whatever was inside the cloth and leaning in for her to see. "Ambrosia of the gods."
Adara felt her mouth part, but she couldn't seem to close it. She knew about ambrosia, and despite what Daan thought, she had listened to his tale. But actually seeing the radiant, golden color shining in front of her eyes was unbelievable. The clump was about the size of her fist and looked like clay, but the faintest traces of a powdery substance came off when Daan ran his finger across it. He lifted the finger to show her the golden dust.
"And the properties of ambrosia are...?" he asked.
Though still awestruck, Adara automatically answered, "It can heal any wound or ailment, but can kill humans if the dosage is too great."
"Exactly," Daan nodded. Between his forefinger and thumb, he took a pinch of the powder and added it to the mixture. "Any more than this would kill the patient, unless he was part god. But even they can only take so much. Any less, and the wound may not heal fast enough, or even not at all.
"The best part about this mixture is that it can dry into a powder without losing its properties. Healers carry it with them, then add water and the ambrosia to it. The herbs in it successfully dilute the ambrosia and lessen the bitter taste and burning sensation."
"What if you don't have the poultice with you?" she asked.
"If a healer is ever in a situation where he or she is without the poultice, then the ambrosia - just a pinch - must be added to water. If a patient is given straight ambrosia without any dilution, he will die, no matter how little is used.
"This," he said, handing her a small, drawstring pouch, "is for you now." Adara pulled the strings and took out her own piece of ambrosia, though it was much smaller than Daan's. "You will inherit the rest from me one day, but for now, that's yours. You shouldn't even need all that."
"Thank you." She looked away from her ambrosia to look her mentor in the eyes, letting him know she realized the power and responsibility she had just received.
He waved a hand, dismissing the gratitude, but smiled. "Use it wisely and keep it safe. That'll be thanks enough."
Just then, a horn blew from above them, from the top of the palace. Adara's head snapped up and she saw the sun had just started to set, its bottom resting on the horizon. She looked back to the floor in front of her, seeing all the ingredients strewn about. She reached to start cleaning up the mess, but Daan stopped her.
"Go," he said, making shooing motions with one hand while he picked up the bowls and herbs with the other. "I'll clean up here."
Adara rose to her feet. "You're the best!" she said as she grabbed her bag and slipped the drawstring pouch around her wrist. She heard a, "Yes, I'm aware," just before she ran out of the door and down the hallways of the palace she had grown up in. Thankful there was no one to bang into, she allowed herself to run faster, like she'd done with Hector and Paris all the times they played with her when she was young. No one had time for that anymore, but it didn't mean she stopped enjoying the feeling of the wind wiping past her, making her hair fly behind her.
She slowed as she reached the balcony, and saw Priam, Hecuba, and Andromache, who was holding young Astyanax. But off to the side a little was Briseis, whom Adara immediately moved next to.
"Adara!" she said brightly, giving her friend a hug. Over her shoulder, Adara and Andromache shared a smile in greeting before the woman returned her attention to her approaching husband. Briseis then took in Adara's windblown hair and slightly pink cheeks. "You ran here, didn't you?" Her tone was one of attempted disappointment, but her eyes were twinkling.
Adara laughed and looked out over the city of Troy. But when she saw her princes approaching, the smile fell from her face. Briseis saw it too, and they exchanged worried glances.
Hector, riding in the front, was waving to his people and smiling, but it was forced. When he made eye contact with his parents and wife, they could all see he was troubled.
Behind him rode Paris, who looked different as well. Adara couldn't tell if he was happier or more troubled than usual, because it appeared to be both.
The source of this, she decided, was probably the woman riding next to Paris. She looked out of place and uncomfortable, but had the unmistakable air of royalty.
By the time the group had arrived in the palace, Hecuba and Priam were having an urgent, whispered conversation, and Andromache had long since hurried off to meet her husband. Adara and Briseis began to walk to the entrance hall as well, not wishing to intrude on the conversation between the king and queen.
"Briseis!" a voice from behind them called. It was Rhamia, a woman in the priesthood, like Briseis. "Your presence is requested to help prepare the sacrifice for the feast."
"Oh, yes, of course!" she said, having completely forgotten about the sacrifice, what with the unusual arrival. "Adara, please excuse me. I'm so sorry."
Adara shook her head. "Nonsense, go ahead. We'll talk later." She waved as the two women hurried down the hallway in the opposite direction.
Starts a little slow, but let me know what you think, please! *updated to fix a few grammar mistakes