Story Title: After the Flames
Chapter Title: Mischief in the Market
Disclaimer: Another installment of the sequel to Bed of Flames. Previously, we saw Achilles and Briseis getting ready for their wedding ceremony and we saw them finally wed. This chapter will start a week or so later after the wedding. Now for all the stuff you already know. I do not own Briseis, Achilles, or any of the other characters seen in the movie Troy. I do own Briseis' handmaidens Astraia, Delia, and Ianthina or Achilles myrmidons, Diokles, Casambus, Faenus, and Grytias. I've been quite inspired by Game of Thrones and the Daenerys/Drogo relationship. You fans of GOT may see the influence in this chapter. Lol. Enjoy.
"I cannot believe he made you accompany me to the marketplace Eudorus. I am truly sorry." Briseis looked apologetically at Achilles second in command as they walked through the marketplace in Larissa. The marketplace was packed that day, with people hurrying about from one stall to the next. Merchants called out to passersby trying to sell their goods. The noise of so many people gathered in one place was deafening, but Briseis was used to it. She and Andromache had offered wandered through the markets in Troy and they had been just as lively. Today, she traveled along accompanied by two of her handmaidens, Delia and Ianthina. The ladies were flanked closely by another of Achilles men. "I am sure you and Diokles would rather be training than having to play nursemaid to me."
Eudorus smirked, dodging two young children that sped past the group. "You need not make apologies my lady. I must admit it's not my normal duties, but I consider it an honor to protect you for Lord Achilles."
Briseis returned his smile with an exasperated sigh, grasping the bundle of herbs and flowers she had already purchased. "Ever the loyal the one Eudorus; but, I told him that it wasn't necessary." Several people, recognizing her as Lord Achilles new wife, bowed their heads. She returned their gesture with a polite nod of her head before moving on. "He respects you Eudorus; maybe you can help me make him understand."
"Lord Achilles is a stubborn man. He does things for his own reasons. He always has. Be patient with him my lady." Eudorus replied guiding her through a cluster of people over to one of the stalls.
Briseis gave a friendly glance to the vendor as she peered at his goods. "Perhaps you're right Eudorus; it just seems silly that he would worry so, after all it is only the marketplace." When Eudorus laughed she looked away from the items she had been curious about, "Have I said something humorous?"
Eudorus shook his head, "Forgive me my lady, but if I may be so bold, I have known Lord Achilles for many years and besides his mother and his lost cousin, there were few people in his life that he worried about, until he met you that is; give him time." He smiled watching as she silently pondered his words. "Now if you'll pardon me for a moment my lady, I do have one important errand to run while we are here. I must seek out one of the merchant captains. He is supposed to have a message from Thessaly for my wife and Lord Achilles bid me to see if there are any messages for him as well."
"Should I come with you?" Briseis asked as they moved back into the throngs of people now passing through the marketplace.
Eudorus shook his head. "No, stay, the captain is not too far from here. I'll rejoin you soon enough. Enjoy the market with your ladies." He bowed his head to Briseis than looked over her shoulder. He called to the other man, "Diokles", motioning that he was departing on his errand.
Briseis watched him go before turning to her handmaidens. "Well ladies, have you seen anything that has caught your eye?"
"There is a stall up ahead my lady. I have been to it before and they usually always have some interesting items." Delia gestured to a stall further along the path.
"Very well Delia. Let us see what this merchant has to offer." Briseis grinned as she led the way through the crowd. The three woman and Diokles made their way over to the stall and began to peruse the items. The merchant addressed her kindly, recognizing who she was "Lady, welcome, welcome. Can I interest you in some of the finest wine from the groves of Crete?" He held up large amphora, but Briseis waved him off with a smile, "No thank you sir, Lord Achilles household is well stocked."
Undeterred he set the amphora down and picked up a smaller one. "Perhaps some of the sweetest olive oil from the most perfect trees in Athens; or," he set the small amphora down and held up a roll of fabric, "this fine linen, hand spun in Corinth? Such rich color; it is perfect for making gowns?" While her ladies eagerly set upon the fabric, Briseis had merely shaken her head no.
"I know just the thing for you my lady." He held up a hand, hoping she would not leave just yet, while he searched through a chest that sat behind him. "Ah! Here it is." The man shouted with glee, turning back towards her holding a small box, which he opened. "Now this you will love my lady. These will suit no one else but the bride of our Lord."
Inside the box Briseis saw a necklace and earrings made with the bluest sapphires she had ever seen. They reminded her so much of a set her mother had worn so very long ago. "They are quite beautiful sir. May I?" She gestured to one of the earrings.
"Please do my lady." He watched as she picked up one of the earrings, inspecting it up close. "These jewels were imported from across the Aegean, fashioned by some of the most skilled artisans to be of the highest quality."
Briseis acknowledged the merchants' words with a nod, "What do you think Ianthina, Delia?" Briseis held the earring to her ear. "Do you think Lord Achilles will like them?"
Setting aside the fabric that had preoccupied them, the two handmaidens smiled at their mistress. Ianthina replied with glee, "They are beautiful my lady; a perfect match for that blue gown Lord Achilles had made for you." Delia excitedly agreed "Lord Achilles will love them my lady."
Briseis remembered how Achilles had surprised her shortly after their wedding with a new gown, as he remarked, in her favorite color. Blue had always been the color of the Trojans and at heart she was still Trojan. "You're absolutely right, they would and he will. I shall take them sir and the fabric for my ladies."
With his errand completed, Eudorus gave the captain his thanks and made his way back towards Lady Briseis with the message for his wife and another for Achilles. The merchant captain stated that the message was from Lord Ardys whose men had recently been causing mischief along the border of the two city-states. Who knew what the troublesome lord was up to, but whatever the message was, if it bore importance, Achilles was sure to inform him and the rest of the Myrmidon.
As Eudorus moved closer to where he had left Lady Briseis, he couldn't help but smile to see her enjoying herself. He knew she had left much behind when she chose to stay with Achilles and the myrmidon leader had shared his concern that his bride may have trouble adapting. The young woman surprised them both in the days since they first returned to Pthia. She had quickly won the love of the people in Larissa visiting with the widows and orphans that the war with Troy had made as well as sitting and comforting the injured and sick in their homes. Lady Briseis had captured the hearts of the people with her kindness and compassion. Eudorus continued smiling as he stepped through the crowds, but his good humor faded fast when his eyes set upon a cloaked figure heading toward the lady and her group. A sense of dread settled over him and he began pushing through the crowds idling through the marketplace, praying to the gods he would not be too late.
Briseis had barely finished paying and handing off her new jewels to Ianthina when the cloaked figure raised a dagger in the air and dashed towards her with shout that rang through the market, "Death to the house of Briseus!"
Time seemed to slow down for Briseis. Startled by the shout, she dropped the flowers and herbs she still had in her hands. Ever watchful Diokles, having heard the shout, quickly moved her out of the way just as the dagger came down, barely missing her. The attacker stumbled forward and realizing he had failed in his attempt tried to flee, running as fast as he could through the multitude of people. Ianthina and Delia shouted for someone to stop him. A few men tried to catch him, but it was Eudorus who tackled the assailant to the ground and with a few slams of the myrmidons' fists, disarmed him.
Briseis was so shocked at first that she didn't even scream in fear at what had just occurred. Diokles' grip on her soon got her attention as did Eudorus when he shouted out, "Diokles get Lady Briseis back to the villa. I will take care of this dog." He bound the assassins' hands behind his back before roughly pulling the man to his feet. Diokles hurriedly ushered Briseis and her ladies through the parting crowds and out of the marketplace. Eudorus followed, angrily pushing his prisoner forward.
Achilles walked back and forth, watching the myrmidon practicing. His men moved with precision and few were the times when he needed to make corrections. This was a good thing because lately his mind was divided between his men and his new wife. He knew he shouldn't be so concerned about Briseis' safety. She was with Eudorus and Diokles at the moment and he trusted both men to protect his bride. However, he still could not shake this sense of apprehension. The recent border skirmishes with Lord Ardys were doing little to ease his mind about the whole thing. He broke from his thoughts to see Diokles approaching. The young myrmidon looked quite flustered and was sporting a grim expression. Achilles level of disquiet increased. "Diokles, what is it?"
Diokles bowed his head before holding out the message he had for Achilles. "The merchant captain gave this to Eudorus. He said that it was from Lord Ardys."
Achilles nodded before tearing through the seal of the scroll. As his eyes scanned through the letter his agitation grew exponentially. "This man is proving to be as much a nuisance as Agamemnon. He insists that I yield the villages along the border. Apparently, they belonged to one of his sons before my father claimed the land years ago. He says I must release the lands to him or there will be 'dire consequences' " Achilles sighed in frustration before his eyes set on Diokles again. The younger man still seemed to be fidgety, "Is there something else?"
Diokles cleared his throat. None of the myrmidon enjoyed giving this type of displeasing news to Achilles but Eudorus had ordered him to do so while he stayed with Lady Briseis. "There was an incident in the marketplace my lord. A man tried to attack Lady Briseis."
Achilles crumpled the scroll in his hands, his eyes growing small with anger. So is that what Ardys called 'dire consequences'? He stepped closer to Diokles. "Where is this man now?" Whoever this fiend was he would soon learn the error of his action.
"Eudorus had him brought into the megaron. He has been chained to one of the pillars. Eudorus and Lady Briseis await you there. " Diokles explained as quickly as he could.
Closing his eyes, Achilles struggled to reign in his anger if only for a moment. He called out to his generals, "Grytias, Faenus, Casambus, come with us. The rest of you can leave." He patted Diokles on the shoulder and began walking, "My wife, is she alright Diokles?"
Diokles and the other three men walked with Achilles making their way out of the practice yard and back indoors. "Yes my lord, I pulled her out of the attackers' way. I believe she was merely startled by the whole affair. When the man tried to flee, Eudorus tackled him to the ground."
Achilles picked up his pace, fists clenching as he walked. He could hear the three men behind him speaking with Diokles and knew their ire was rising as well. His men had grown fond of Briseis since meeting her in Troy. They now viewed an attack against the lady who had won their lords' heart, as an attack upon the myrmidons.
No man lifted a hand against the myrmidons without facing the consequences.
Briseis walked across the main hall with Eudorus. She peered at the man whose face was bloodied from the beating inflicted by Eudorus. Chained to one of the pillars near the entryway, her attacker hung limply with head bowed. The pair stopped walking and turned towards the pillar. "What will Achilles do to him?"
Eudorus folded his arms across his chest. "I don't know my lady. The punishment for such an act can vary, but normally the accused is bound to a pole. His legs, arms and neck strapped down and the pole left standing upright until…"
Briseis lifted her chin and took in a deep breath before speaking, "Until he dies?"
"I've seen some men last for several days, but yes my lady." Eudorus looked over at the man trying to discern who he might be.
The words spoken by the man during the attack rang in her ears as her eyes focused on the prisoner. "He spoke my fathers' name Eudorus. I want to know who this man is before he draws his last breath." Briseis shifted her gaze back to the myrmidon captain, her face set in a stern gaze. "I want to know who wants me dead."
Eudorus could see the fire in her eyes and once more was reminded just why Achilles had chosen the Trojan beauty. Before he could offer a reply he saw some of the myrmidon walking through the doorway, followed by Achilles who prowled towards them, rage in his eyes.
Briseis could tell right away that Achilles was reigning in his anger through sheer will. A shiver ran down her spine at how dangerous and surprisingly handsome he appeared in that moment. He was like the fierce lion he was so fond of comparing his men too. Casambus and the others spread out around the chained prisoner, looking at him with disdain.
Achilles stopped short, gazing at Briseis for a moment and quietly assuring himself that she was indeed alive before turning wrathful eyes to his left. He approached her attacker who lifted his eyes only to lower them in fear upon seeing Achilles, a muffled whimper on his lips. With a growl, Achilles turned and rushed over to Briseis placing his hands on her cheeks. He spoke as calmly as he could, "Sakana, are you hurt?" His eyes moved over her body to check for any wound that may not have been noticed.
The lion was still there, but it was tempered momentarily by his concern. She could tell this in how he hand unconsciously slipped into his mothers' native tongue to address her. Briseis gave him a gentle smile, shaking her head and returning his affection by whispering, "I'm fine agapi̱tós."
Closing his eyes, Achilles kissed the top of her head before turning his attention to his second in command. "Eudorus, Diokles told me what you both did." He placed a hand on Eudorus' shoulder, letting his friend know how grateful he was and whispered, "You have my thanks, as does he. For your actions this day you both will be rewarded."
He took a step back and took Briseis in his arms. "And I swear to you Briseis, before this man meets his end, I will learn who was behind this and make them regret what they tried to do." He released her and stalked towards the assailant.
Eudorus placed a gentle hand on her arm. Knowing what Achilles was about to do he prodded, "My lady, you may wish to retire now before Lord Achilles begins his questioning."
"No" Briseis shook her head, her eyes never looking away from Achilles as he approached her attacker. She peered up at Eudorus who nodded and removed his hand, than her eyes shifted towards Achilles who roughly grabbed the prisoners' hair and yanked his head up.
Achilles peered down at the face before him. This simpering fool had made a dangerous mistake. "Who sent you hmm? Who gave you your orders?" When no answer was forthcoming, Achilles backhanded the man. "Tell me who sent you!"
The man, dazed from the blow, mumbled, "I will…not speak."
His lack of cooperation merely tried Achilles patience. The myrmidon leader sent another blow across the prisoners' face "You will speak you coward and you will do it now!"
Dazed from the second blow, Briseis saw her attacker mumble something inaudible. Whatever words had passed his lips only seemed to infuriate Achilles further. He shouted as he lifted and arm to his right, "CASAMBUS, SWORD!" Casambus swiftly handed over a sword. Achilles placed the edge of the blade against the neck of the man. "I can make this quick or I can drag your torment out. The choice is yours, now you will tell me what you know! WHO SENT YOU HERE TO KILL MY WIFE?!"
The sword pressed into the attackers' neck, provoking a pain filled whimper. "Fine…I'll tell you…what you want to know."
Glaring at the man, Achilles pulled the sword away. "Good, now talk. Who gave you orders to attack my wife?" Part of Achilles already anticipated the answer that was coming.
"Lord…Lord Ardys paid me. He said…your wife was the daughter…of a traitor. He said that…he needed her dead. That…the last child of Briseus…had to die." The man gasped out his words in obvious pain and lowered his head.
Briseis, outraged by how some common thug was slandering her father, stepped closer to her husband, "My father was Briseus but he was no traitor. Why would this Ardys care whether I was alive or dead?"
Achilles grinned, hearing the fury in his Briseis' voice. If he was the lion, she was his lioness, especially when she was angered. He grabbed the head of man lifting it once more. "Answer my wifes' question."
Another gasp of pain escaped the man before he replied. "Briseus was a traitor. He fell in love with some Trojan whore years ago…than left Greece to marry her. When that happened…Ardys…took the land from him."
Not only had this fool slandered her father, but now he dared to insult her mother. She would not stand idly by and let such a man speak of her parents in such a way, "You would be wise to guard your wretched tongue or I will see that someone plucks it out when we are done with you."
Achilles also took exception to the choice of words uttered by the fool before him. He gripped the hair in his fist even tighter, "Trust me, I would happily do the deed. Choose your words more carefully you sack of wine. This border dispute with Ardys, the land those villages are on belonged to Briseus didn't they? They were his inheritance?"
The man shouted in pain, "Ahhh…yes, but I swear I don't know any more than that. I swear it."
"My father took those lands years ago and Ardys put up no fuss. He worries now though doesn't he? I suspect there was more land that was once Briseus'. I married Ardys' granddaughter and he thinks that she will encourage me to take back what is rightfully hers?" Achilles needed no reply from the man. Scoffing, he dropped the head of the man and looked over at Briseis. "Then I make this pledge," he moved towards her taking her hands in his, "to you Sakana. I will not cede the lands I still hold to Ardys." Slowly he let her hands go and began to walk around the room looking at each of his men. "If he wants them back, let him come here and face me and my myrmidons like a man." The four myrmidons gathered in the room gave roar of excitement in reply. "Let him dare to raise his hand once more against my family and I will destroy him!" He came to a stop before Briseis, breathing hard and looking deep into her eyes. "I Achilles, son of Peleus vow this to you."
Briseis held her head high and lovingly touched his cheek before looking past him to her attacker. "What will be done with him?"
Achilles turned his head following her gaze before looking back at her. He sighed, how he wanted to kill this cowardly man, but it was not his life to take. He held his hand out and Eudorus placed the dagger he had taken from the prisoner in it. In turn, Achilles handed Briseis the dagger. "It was you who he attacked. I leave you to decide his punishment."
Looking from her husband to the man who had nearly taken her life, Briseis nodded. With dagger in hand, she made her way over to the chained up man. "Look at me." When the man refused to raise his head, Briseis placed the point of the dagger under his chin, forcefully lifting his head. "What's your name? Do you have any family?"
He looked somewhat shocked by her question, but the dagger at his chin had him answering quickly. "Karpos…and yes…lady, I have a wife."
Briseis closed her eyes, sighing. Someone, somewhere was waiting for this mans' return. "Then I have a gift for you; your life, but I want something in return. You will give my grandfather a message from me. Tell him he failed, that I am still quite alive. Tell him, I never knew about my fathers' lands here in Greece and don't want any of them, except for those already under the protection of Achilles and his men. He will cease attacking those villages at once. If he makes any more attempts on my life or rejects this offer, I will gladly unleash Achilles and the myrmidon upon him and they will show him no mercy."
She watched as astonishment flooded, "Your mad…I…I cannot deliver such a message. Ardys will kill me for sure."
"I can always kill you myself and let your body be the message if you prefer." Briseis leaned down, pressing the dagger harder against his neck.
Biting back another whimper of pain, Karpos reluctantly replied, "No, I…I will deliver your message lady."
Briseis stepped back, a coy smile on her face and removed the dagger from Karpos neck. "Good." She peered down at the dagger in her hand, "I thank you for the" gift of this fine dagger and I shall put it to good use. You would be wise to do the same with my gift to you." She motioned for Grytias and Faenus to release her attacker then turned and walked back towards her husband. "Send him back to my grandfather. See that he makes it back safely. He has an important message to deliver."
Achilles could not have been prouder at the display of strength Briseis had just shown this miserable toad. He watched with an amused smirk on his face as she strode towards him, each step incredibly dignified. "As you wish my lady; Eudorus see that her command is carried out."
Eudorus couldn't help the satisfied grin that appeared on his face, "Of course my lord; He will be given what he needs to get back to his 'master'." Eudorus bowed his head to both Achilles and Briseis before following after the other myrmidons to make sure the orders were carried out.
Briseis gave one final glance at the departing Eudorus before giving her husband a coy look. "You think I should have killed him?"
"I might have, but I think this will work out for us just as well. Once he sees he cannot rely on another to do the deed, he may leave his holdings, come here to confront you personally. You will certainly provoke him to do so with such a message, but I take it that was your intention, to draw him here so that you may put him in his place." Achilles took her hand once more and the couple walked out of the megaron and down the hallway.
"I was not the cousin of Hector without learning a thing or two. Sometimes ones' opponent makes his biggest mistakes when he is, overly enraged. Agamemnon did. This will certainly enrage Ardys will it not?" Briseis posed the question already knowing the answer.
Achilles couldn't help but be impressed. *Clever as well as beautiful* He thought as he led them to their bedchamber, "Oh, it will indeed. The question is will it be enough to push him over the edge, to bring him to the point where he makes that mistake."
Briseis sighed as they reached their bedchamber and stepped inside. "We can only hope that he is already infuriated enough with you and that his own disposition is so unbendable, that his failure to deal with me will break that which refuses to bend."
The couple stepped inside as Achilles replied laughter in his voice. "That man has no idea what he has unleashed by targeting you Sakana."
"If this should work, then he will soon, won't he ?" Briseis grinned before wrapping her arms around his neck.
"Indeed he will." Achilles leaned down to kiss he as he kicked the door to their room closed with his foot.
Well that is the end of this chapter. The pet names both mean 'beloved' according to Google translator. Achilles uses the Macedonian word for beloved and Briseis uses the Greek one. I just wanted to add that bit of tenderness to this couple since you never get to really see what might have developed, in the movie. GOT fans did you see the influence? I absolutely loved so many of the scenes with Daenerys and Drogo. Daenerys is one of my favorite characters, got to love her strength and how she continues to grow stronger. I see Briseis a bit like that and (had the movie gone a bit differently) I think she would have grown stronger being with Achilles as well. Have to admit some of her lines are so well written that I've tried to incorporate them. Lol, Shame on me. Maybe it's because David Benioff helped write the screenplay for Troy and currently writes for GOT.