Story Title: After the Flames
Disclaimer: Hello again to all the readers, if there are any left. lol. This is the sequel to my previous fan fiction 'Bed of Flames'. The title is still a work in progress so it might change as the story goes on. I know you've waited quite a time for the sequel to come out and for that I apologize. I have been trying to do work on both this tale and 'Eternal', which is another Troy fiction. I do hope you enjoy the first chapter of this saga.
Alone, Briseis pulled the blanket off from around her shoulders and stood up. She gazed upon the last visages of Troy. 'May Apollo watch over you all.' As sad as she was to say goodbye to her family, she could not wallow in that sadness forever. As Troy faded from view, Briseis smiled.
No, she would not be sad. A new life awaited her in a new land. Though it was a frightening prospect, it was also an adventure to enjoy. Briseis breathed in the ocean air then turned around to look upon the Myrmidons. They were tireless in their tasks and she remained in awe of their talent in working together so effortlessly. Her eyes drifted towards Achilles form near the back of the ship and she could not help the grin that formed on her face.
One family she had left behind, but one day, with the gods' blessings, she would create another family with Achilles. With hope in her heart, Briseis walked forward toward her destiny.
A new chapter in both their lives was about to begin.
Briseis sighed as she settled into the tub. One of her handmaidens, a young girl set about washing her hair and helping her through the purification ritual. Two others stood by waiting to help her get dressed. Preparations had begun weeks ago for this day; today their Lord Achilles would marry the Lady Briseis and everyone in Larisa was in a state of delight.
Briseis closed her eyes, recalling all the events that had brought her to this moment. Several months had passed since she, Achilles and his men had arrived in the port of Pasgasae. They traveled by horse the rest of the way to Achilles home in Larisa. Thetis was there waiting for their return. She had been surprised to lay eyes on her son once more, but upon seeing Briseis she had immediately embraced the younger woman who had undoubtedly altered her sons' fate. Achilles' mother had been a tremendous help in getting Briseis acclimated to her new life. Her welcoming presence had gone a long way in allaying Briseis' fears. Soon the two women had become fast friends. Often Achilles would find them in the garden, chatting about all sorts of things, especially him.
Briseis was brought out of her thoughts by one of her handmaidens, "My lady the ceremony begins soon. We must get you ready."
Briseis smiled. "Thank you Agape." Briseis pulled herself up and stepped out of the tub. She could hear the excitement the young girls' voice. She had to admit that she too was excited. Agape wrapped a linen cloth around the soon to be wife of Achilles and helped her over to the bed.
Another handmaiden laid down a beautiful linen khiton. Most of the dress was white with a spiral pattern along the edges, but the maker had dyed the bottom purple along with the draping, which would be pinned at her shoulder. An intricate belt would be tied around her waist and knotted in the traditional bridal knot. A veil dyed a rich yellow orange, her mothers' ring, the necklace that Achilles had given her, and a beautiful bridal crown, that Thetis had made, would complete her wedding attire.
Briseis had not seen a bridal gown as beautiful as the one before her since Andromache had married Hector. Thinking of her departed cousin and his lovely wife always brought an ache to her heart. Briseis often thought about the family members she had left in Troy. Little word had come about the city and the war since she and Achilles had arrived in Greece. Odysseus, king of Ithaca, was their only way to learn any news. The Ithacan king kept in touch, sending Achilles updates now and then. The last they heard from him, he had stated that the other Greek leaders were weary of fighting, especially with Achilles departure from the war. However, Agamemnon would not be swayed. Odysseus wrote that he was certain that in time a treaty would be signed. Two months had gone by now since Odysseus' last message. She hoped nothing had happened to her family or to Achilles friend.
Brushing all these troublesome thoughts aside, Briseis dried herself off. 'There will be no sadness today' she chided herself. Once dried, the handmaidens set about helping her to dress. Once her dress was on and the draping pinned into place, the bride to be sat down and allowed her handmaiden fix her hair. The women worked quickly, tying Briseis' curly locks back, pinning them with a filet mesh, and then placing the bridal crown onto her head. The last step was the veil, which was pinned onto the sides of the crown and then pulled down over her face. 'Today is not a day to dwell on the past' Briseis scolded herself mentally as she stood up. Today was a day of happiness for her and Achilles, and hopefully all the people of Larisa.
Achilles stood in another room putting on his own wedding attire. The linen khiton was a rich dark blue, his color of choice, and flowed down to his ankles. He grumbled as Eudorus, as part of the bridal party, stepped in to pin another layer of fabric, also dark blue, to his shoulder and draped it across his chest. Eudorus smirked at the grumbling while recalling his own wedding.
Achilles looked over at his friend, "How ever did you deal with having to wear all this on your wedding day my friend? I feel like a damn fool."
Eudorus thought for a moment, and then smiled, "I told myself that it was for my Korinna; that it was for her happiness and that for her I would do anything." He paused, "I also told myself that it was only for a short time."
Sighing Achilles adjusted the fabric across his body. He would have preferred to wear a cape instead, but they had already been forced to set aside several of the traditions due to the absence of Briseis' family. He had promised both Briseis and his mother that they would perform as many traditions as possible. This was why he was going to be barefoot instead of wearing boots or sandals. "I suppose your right. It is only for the day. For Briseis, I shall endure." The two friends shared a smile, neither noticing the figure watching them.
Thetis watched her son and his friend from the doorway of the room with a smile on her face. She had always liked Eudorus. He had been at her sons' side since he was quite young, trying his best to be the voice of reason for her son. For that she was pleased that Achilles had chosen him to be part of his wedding party. As her son pulled and tugged at his attire once again, Thetis had to hold back her laughter. Even as a child, Achilles had not been one to dress up. She remembered the days when he would run about in only a simple linen cloth wrapped about his middle. Most of the time he shed even that, going about with nothing on. That behavior had continued until he was of age to wear more adult garments. She stepped lightly into the room making her presence known. "I could not agree with Eudorus more."
Eudorus bowed his head to her before he stepped out to give mother and son a moment alone. Achilles turned to look at her. "What do you think mother? Do I look like a groom?" He smirked as he turned to look at her. She said nothing for a moment, simply stared at her grown son. "What? Do I have this damn thing on wrong?"
Shaking her head, Thetis approached him returning his smile, "No, it looks fine. For a moment you reminded me of your father on our wedding day. He too was not fond of having to dress in all the regalia of a groom. But he looked incredibly handsome as you do today."
Achilles nodded, laughing lightly, "I can imagine father would have preferred to wear his armor. I must admit the thought crossed my mind, but I made a promise to you and to Briseis. I shall endure the pomp and the…regalia for my two most important ladies."
Thetis sighed happily, "I am so grateful that she came into your life my son. I feared I would never set eyes on you again. When your ship returned I was heartbroken that you had died so soon, but then you appeared with your Briseis beside you. I knew than that you had set a path all your own; different from either of those I had foreseen. A better match for you I could not have hoped for."
"I am glad that you two have struck a friendship. Marriage was never something in my plans until I met Briseis. She changed everything for me. Losing Patrocleus was… devastating, losing Briseis would have been equally devastating." Achilles stated recalling the terrible moments of Briseis fall before they left the Trojan shores. "That you approve of her means everything to me mother."
Thetis took a silent moment to remember her fallen nephew and recalling what Achilles had told her about Briseis brush with death before continuing. "I do approve of her and I think your father would have as well. Besides, she has been a good influence on you in many ways. How could I not approve? Now, I believe it is time. Your bride awaits you."
Achilles gave his mother a hug, something he had not done for years, than offering his arm, mother and son walked down the hallway towards the main garden where the wedding ceremony would take place.
The guests, mostly Achilles men and their families gathered in the garden to celebrate the wedding of their leader. Everyone talked and mingled while musicians played. When Achilles entered with his mother and Eudorus following, the musicians stopped playing and the guests took their seats, with the wives of the Myrmidons taking their place at one table, the men sitting down at another table. Meanwhile, Achilles and Thetis took their places near the gardens' fountain to await his brides' entrance. He waited only moments before he saw her being led towards him. Her veil prevented him from seeing her face, but Achilles was certain that she looked just as beautiful as always. The handmaiden carefully guided Briseis' steps until she stood next to Achilles.
The ceremony proceeded with bride and groom making the appropriate sacrifices to the gods and goddesses. Briseis presented a few locks of her hair for sacrifice to the goddess Artemis. Both Briseis and Achilles made the traditional offerings to Aphrodite for a fruitful, childrearing life. Laurel crowns were placed on both Achilles and Briseis head. Then Thetis, because Briseis' father was not present, took her sons hand and laid it atop Briseis'. "My son, I give you this girl, that she may bring happiness to you and bare you children within the bond of wedlock."
Achilles felt the soft skin of Briseis hand and smiled. "I accept her mother, with great pleasure." The smile on his face grew as he stroked his brides' hand. With those words spoken, the guests cheered, wine was poured on the ground for the gods and the musicians began to play once more. While Achilles led his bride to their seats, servants began to set food out on the long tables for the guests and on the table set aside for the bride and groom.
Briseis looked around and with a sigh of relief she could see that the guests were enjoying themselves. She had worked with Thetis on ensuring that every detail of the wedding feast was perfect. Achilles' mother had spared no expense to provide her son and daughter in law a grand feast. The cooks had roasted one of the rarest of delicacies, beef, for the occasion. Platters of dried fish, honey cakes, figs, olives, cheeses and freshly baked bread for dipping and scooping were passed around. Bowls of sesame seeds mixed with honey and all manner of fruits and vegetables had been laid out. As she looked about, Briseis felt Achilles take her hand and give it a squeeze. She looked up at him through her veil and returned the smile on his face. Now comforted that all was going well, she reached for her goblet of wine and took a sip before digging into the delicious food before her.
Near the end of the meal, Thetis called for silence. "The time has come for the unveiling of the bride." The guests grew silent as bride and groom stood up and turned toward each other. Achilles reached towards her and pulled back Briseis' veil to reveal her beautiful face. Leaning over he placed a gentle kiss on her lips and the guests once again cheered. Briseis blushed at all the attention, but returned her husbands' kiss before they both sat back down.
As the couple went back to eating, Eudorus approached with his wife. Achilles nodded his head to his second. "Eudorus, thank you my friend for standing with me on this day."
"It was my honor, my lord. You remember my wife, Korinna?" Eudorus gestured to the lady at his side, while his wife smiled and curtsied.
"You know I do Eudorus. I was at your wedding. Lady Korinna, it is a pleasure to see you again. I hope you are keeping my good friend in line now that he is home safe." Achilles jested.
Korinna laughed. "I have been keeping him busy my lord. I am just thankful that you brought him home safely to me and our children."
Achilles nodded with a smirk on his face. "I cannot take all credit good lady. He did a fine job of keeping himself alive and…my bride had a hand in getting all of us home safely. Lady Korinna, I would like to present my wife, the Lady Briseis."
Briseis bowed her head to Eudorus' wife, but blushed at Achilles words. "It is a pleasure to meet you Lady Korinna. He makes far too much of my importance. Eudorus proved himself admirably as I am sure he always does."
Korinna curtsied to Briseis, "If you played even the smallest roll in his safe return than you have my gratitude. Perhaps when all the festivities are over, we can sit down and get to know one another. I am sure we both have some interesting stories of our adventurous husbands." She gave Eudorus a sideways glance as she spoke.
"I may have one or two stories about my new husband." Briseis grinned as she looked over at Achilles. "I should like that very much Lady Korinna. I must admit, I have had little time to get to know the wives of Achilles men. I feel as though I have been neglectful in that area. Once all the celebrations are done, I will have to make time to visit you and the other ladies."
"Of course, now we should get back to our seats husband. As you may remember from our wedding, the happy couple has other matters to attend to today." Korinna pointed out, taking ahold of her husbands' hand.
Eudorus bowed his head once more to the couple, before being led off by his wife. "Far be it for me to say no to you my wife."
Achilles shook his head then spoke to Briseis who was smirking at the departing couples banter. "They are as in love today as they were the day they wed."
Briseis looked up at her new husband with a coy smile, "I hope that I will make you just as happy."
"Of that I have no doubt." Achilles returned her smile with a grin of his own then leaned over and kissed her forehead through the veil. The clearing of a throat separated the newlywed couple. Achilles turned a steely gaze onto whoever interrupted them. Noticing it was his mother, his expression immediately changed from one of irritation to one of amusement. "Mother"
Thetis smiled at her son and daughter in law. "I apologize for intruding on your…moment, but it is time for the final rituals."
Achilles sighed. He would be happier when they could put all these 'rituals' behind them. "Very well mother. Let us continue."
Thetis turned to the guests, lifting her hands to silence them once more. She then turned to Achilles and Briseis, as a servant brought forth another platter. "Briseis, I welcome you to your new home. May your presence bring future prosperity and may there be great fertility within this union." She took a quince from the platter and handed it to Briseis.
Briseis took the quince and took a bite out of the yellow fruit as the guests gave a cheer. Achilles took her hand and led her off toward the middle of the garden where Thetis now stood with a basket, filled with dried dates, nuts, and figs. She handed the basket to Briseis, leaned over and kissed her daughters' cheeks. Achilles mother whispered into her ear, "Take good care of my son." Briseis nodded her head and whispered back, "I will." She handed the basket off to one of her handmaidens before turning back to Achilles. Her groom lifted her up into his arms, and the happy couple proceeded out of the garden and away from their guests towards the bridal chamber.
The sound of muffled singing came through the door, once Achilles closed the door to their chambers. He set his bride down onto her feet, took the laurel crown off his head, and set it down on a chest that sat at the end of the bed. "I have wanted to do that for hours now. Damn thing probably made look ridiculous."
Briseis sat down on the bed carefully taking her own laurel wreath off before handing it to him to put with his. "I don't know. I think you looked rather dashing all dressed up, especially with the laurel wreath." She stated with a teasing voice.
Achilles, prowled towards her with a smoldering glint in his eyes. "This sort of attire does not suit me, but you Briseis, you look absolutely gorgeous." He leaned down, lifting her to her feet before kissing her on the lips.
Wrapping her arms around his neck, Briseis returned the kiss with fervor. As they kissed, she felt his hands come up to take her veil and crown off. Achilles quickly sent veil and bridal crown to the floor. The need to breath forced her to pull away first. "Careful, your mother gave me that crown. Put it with the laurel wreaths."
Rolling his eyes playfully, Achilles set her bridal crown down with the wreaths before turning back to his new bride. "Now may I continue?"
Smiling, Briseis stepped back and pulled the pins that held the fabric wrapped across her chest out. Achilles watched as it pooled onto the floor around her feet. Briseis took a deep breath and took out the pins that held up the rest of her wedding gown. She could feel his eyes on her and relished the moment. Standing there before him with nothing but an impish smile on her face and her shell necklace around her neck, Briseis couldn't help but tease him. "See something you like, my lord?"
"Now don't you start with that 'my lord' bull Briseis. You never have to address me as such." Achilles pulled her close. He was about to kiss her again, when the singing outside the door grew louder. He turned his head towards the door grumbling, "You'd think they would let us do this without an audience."
Briseis turned his head back toward her. "My love, please show a bit more focus than that." She pulled his head down and met his lips as he lifted her into his arms and moved them both back to the bed.
The singing outside the door was soon forgotten.
I will let your imaginations fill out the rest of this scene. I tried to be historically accurate to what is known about ancient Greek ceremonies, but some of the details I had to change to fit with the storyline. Hope you enjoyed this chapter.