Her stylist dresses her in white robes that flow to her bare feet, caressing the floor as she sweeps up the wide, marble stairs of the newest club in the Capitol. Three circles below the President's mansion, it is prestigious enough to warrant the unwilling presence of at least a dozen victors to the grand opening. As if that were not enough, the several tonnes of flawless marble, imported from District 2 to form the soaring colonnades prove it. As they enter the building, dressed in the costumes of a bygone era, the irony of it is not lost on the victors or the Capitolites, for Elysium is built in the style of an ancient stadium.
With a graceful hand on the rail, she ascends to the main floor, already crowded with Capitol patrons and victors alike. With her head held high, and the solid silver bow and arrows at her back, for a bare moment it seems none can touch her. The first to shatter the illusion, brushing it aside as easily as a wisp of pale smoke, is a man whose tunic strains across his bulging belly. The golden rope tied around it presses deeply into the purple fabric, and sweat glistens on his forehead. Even if they had real points, her silver arrows would not serve her as they did in the arena, for it might as well be that Cupid's own golden arrow has pierced her heart-at least for tonight. She must pretend so, and she forces the cramped muscles of her face into the semblance of a smile when his fingers graze her breast. With a promise to find her later, he leaves to purge his stomach. She is dressed as the chaste goddess of the hunt and it is a fucking joke.
To match the theme, he's in flowing robes of sheer blue, like the ocean on midsummer's day, or so she's heard. Perhaps she'll get a chance to see the waves on her victory tour in a few months. But she'll probably spend most of the time on a sponsor's arm, anyway. He casually swings a golden trident, and fleetingly she wonders if it is the same one he won with, nine years ago, and if so, how long it took to scour the blood away. A trail of women follow him, like Dionysos and the Mainades but unlike the nymphs, many of them are old and their togas do not hide fresh, nubile bodies. Instead, with their clawing nails, they look like harpies as they circle the charming god of the waves.
Falling into step, she acknowledges him with a small smile, and he flashes her one that is all teeth. But they cannot be allies, cannot draw their weapons and fight back to back for the Hydra has too many heads. If they dared, the pits of Tartarus would not be a deep enough hole to hide in and block the sounds of their families as they screamed. Their costumes are a sham; he must the god of calm and gentle seas, not of monstrous waves that crush ships as if in a fist, and she cannot be the protector of maidens and chastity, for there isn't anyone to protect her.
The huntress knows all of the victors at least by sight, after three months of being one herself. Silvery laughter, like the tinkling of bells draws her attention and she wonders if in time her own laugh will sound like it. Her hand goes to the pale column of her throat as if she is choking. Classically beautiful, their blond tresses tumbling artfully from golden circlets; the twin victors play their parts well. The goddess of beauty and love, and the god of the sun, they portray with ease and grace. Their wrought gold tunics look right on them, and so does the way hands rove over their bodies, and it scares her.
Those flawless masks are far more frightening than the older man who leans against one of the marble columns, the skin of an animal long extinct draped over his shoulders like a cloak, and a club by his side. With his bulging biceps, even at his age, he looks as strong as the hero he is dressed to resemble. The fiery mane shadows his face, making dark holes of his yes, but at least in the grim set of his jaw and the pulsing vein in his neck, he shows something real.
In their tunics, with oil in their hair to hold their false curls in place, the patrons of Elysium prowl around the victors. Rather than spearing chunks of fat oxen on their knives to offer to the altar flames, they have paid generously to be here tonight. They circle, eyes hungry, knowing that some time in the long night they will have their fill. On the mezzanine level are a dozen alcoves built between the columns, screened off with pale linen woven with threads of gold.
A drape flutters aside momentarily, revealing a flash of creamy skin, short, dark hair, and wrought gold. The young victor is dressed in the girdle of the Amazon warrior queen and it is all she wears as she kneels in front of her patron, reclining on the low, scrolled couch. Her fingers close around him and he groans, but they'd look more at home on the haft of an axe. Betrayed, as was the leader of the Amazons, she is forced to submit, not by the strength of Heracles and his men, but by the threat that hangs over her family.
Waiting her own turn, the huntress watches another victor and the irony is not lost on her; dressed as heroes and gods, they are pursued and held hostage by the mortals. He is already the tallest victor, and sporting the great, fringed helm of the heroic leader of the Myrmidons, he towers over the woman who has the audacity to run her hand up his oiled chest. The helm serves to hide half his face, for he lacks the beauty of the most legendary of warriors, even if he did prove himself with a makeshift spear in the arena. Doesn't the woman know he could snap her neck as easily as she would break a loaf of bread? Stretching up on her toes, she whispers something to him and he sets aside the spear that completes his costume and bends to lift her into his arms, bridal style. She hooks her arm possessively around his neck, though they are only allowed half hour slots. As he starts up the stairs to the mezzanine, the victor wonders if anyone will believe him if he stumbles and drops her, but no, for he is sure-footed in the mountains and quarries of his home District.
The huntress tries not to reach for her arrows when her turn comes. Someone's hand snakes down her shoulder to her hip and stays there as if it belongs and it is the same man from earlier. Her whole body is tight as a bowstring and her smile is as sharp and strained. Her patron says not a single word as he guides her up the stairs, his hand fixed on her hip. Dragging her steps does little to delay it, for she has as much power to resist as Leda, when Zeus came to her as a pure white swan, veiled in thunder and threat. If she refuses, she knows where the lightening shaft will fall first and it is not something she is willing to risk.
When the curtain drops behind them, it may as well be manacles and chains about her wrists, for she cannot run. He asks-commands-her to undress first and she does it slowly. It's the first time for tonight but it won't be the last. In the morning, her thighs will be sore and she will ache deep inside. Woe to the prep team tasked with layering powder over the marks that will be left on her breasts, from fingers and teeth. As the robe falls softly to her feet, she is no longer a huntress. Really, she has not been a huntress since two months ago, when her district partner bled to death on the golden cornucopia before her eyes. The chaste goddess of the hunt was famous for striking blind a man who chanced to see her bathing with her maidens, but the once-huntress cannot do a thing but keep herself from covering her pert breasts with her hands. Steeling herself, she thinks, not for the first time, that being a mortal is the most valuable gift a victor can have.
Author's note: For the Caesar's Palace challenge: You can't mention the character's name at anytime, the reader must guess by the characterisation which characters are involved. Using the prompt 'classicism'.
If any of the characterisation is unclear, feel free to review/PM me for clarification.