Troy: The beginning
History is biased. It was written by males for males. Each generation learns less and less of what was true. How did I come to possess such an opinion on the matter? My sisters and I have walked through the ages on this planet since before the fall of Troy.
Troy the ancient city with such heroes as Hector and Achilles. A tale shrouded in mystery relegated to the realms of myth and legend. We are all myths and legends now.
‘Preparing to start the new year with Homer again Ms Phoenix?’
Glancing up at the Library’s only patron of the day I shot her a quick smile, ‘The children respond better to myths and legends then that drivel meant to educate them into a cotton wool environment.’
‘It’s your job to read what is placed on the shelves.’ She sniffed. Pushing a box of tissues toward her I note the return date due on the card after consulting my desk calendar before replying, ‘It is my job to inspire the children to dream big dreams Patricia. I always start with the legends and myths as did my mother and her aunt before her.’
The door closes behind her taking the aura of darkness with her. She knows our secret just as we know hers. Taking a deep cleansing breath I pick up my personal copy of the Iliad again. The tips of my fingers stroking the binding as if by some miracle I can see them all one more time.
My mother and my father. Hektor the good man that I married. Achilles my bodyguard. Menelaus. Paris whose womanising finally brought his city to its knees. Helena desperate to be loved for more than her ability to bear children. Adromache. My sister in my pain.
Taking the opportunity to lock up for the night I keep the book close to my heart. Cradling it in my arms I stroll through the twilight towards my shop where Mystery keeps the lantern burning bright.
She takes in my appearance and nods to herself. I head through the shop to my apartment above it. Sparsely decorated with the treasures I cannot bear to part with a sigh of relief escapes as I kick off my shoes and let down my hair.
Arranged on the table are the few trinkets I took with me when we fled through the tunnels of Troy. My tiara, my favourite earrings, the comb that decorated my hair and the ring hector placed on my finger to protect his lineage.
The ring he placed on my finger to protect mine.
Memories rose to assault all my senses…
Our home was gone and our mother dead in childbirth on this strange backwards planet.
‘You speak funny.’
‘I beg your pardon.’
‘You beg what? Never mind. You’re coming with me. Prince Hektor needs another wife and all the prettiest maidens are being rounded up for his pleasure. What’s your name for the official record?’
’Selene.’my father sounds weary. He wears the robes of one of the local deities the mortals worship here, ‘she is not promised to god or man. Will she be allowed time with her sisters?’
They appear as if on cue. ‘I’m to only bring the maiden not her entire family.’ Eirene hands me a small bag. Phaedra squeezes my hand in comfort.
‘Come along little moon goddess.’ The soldier gently tugs my arm, ‘we must hurry if you are to win a prince’s favor.’
The soldier pulls me up the road towards the megaron. ‘Wait there’s one more.’ He calls out desperately as I look up through my lashes laying my eyes on the royal family for the first time. ‘Bring her closer.’ My heart races as all eyes turn our way. Heart beat thundering loudly in my ears I drop my eyes to the floor. I don’t like being the center of attention. There are too many people looking at me.
The soft conversations stop as I sense their approach. ‘Where did you find her?’ ‘She lives in lower town Majesty. A daughter of one of the priests of Apollo. Her name is Selene.’
‘There’s no need to be afraid of me Selene.’ I assume this is the famous prince seeking a second bride. Peeking up at him through my lashes he smiles coaxing me to look at him fully so that he may make his decision.
Raising my head I make my curtsy first to his father, then to him and one in the direction of his very pregnant wife Andromache. Her face a pool of emotions reflecting her deep pain at this convention of necessity.
‘If Helena is the sun of this court then Selene will be its moon.’ The king speaks kindly to me couching his opinion to his son behind the compliment. ‘I choose Selene the daughter of the priest of Apollo to be my second wife.’ Hektor announces to the crowd starting to close in around us.
‘What say you Selene?’ King Priam asks for my answer. We are still so new on this planet. We must hide our secrets well to survive. Unsure of royal protocol I word my answer the best way I can, ‘I am here of my own free will. I am not bound to god or man. I choose the path that has been set before me. I will obey my prince’s decision.’ Chancing a quick look at Prince Hektor he smiles at me again before growing serious speaking quietly for my ears alone, ‘I cannot promise you my heart Selene but I can promise you I will protect you with my life and that you will not want for anything.’
I knew I was expected to make some kind of polite response at this juncture all I could manage was a nod. I did not expect to hold his heart when he had another already firmly in that place. ‘Selene of Troy.’ He pronounced engulfing my hand with his.
‘Selene.’ Andromache stands beside me. It is unheard of for the first wife to interact with any of the others. ‘Come and we will find you something suitable to wear for the feast.’ She is being kind in front of Hektor. In front of the court. Something private transpires between them. I feel as if I am intruding on something special. Suddenly the oath I made in front of everyone seems so very wrong. ’Hold the tears in a few minutes longer.’Andromache whispers her first order, ‘Show them you are not afraid.’
Squaring my shoulders I raise my head and look her in the eyes. ‘I would be most grateful for your assistance my lady.’ Hektor is swept away by another male of the court. ‘Prince Paris.’ Andromache informs me softly.
She leads me through the corridors towards a chamber that overlooks the sea. ‘Of all the women in that chamber I’m so very glad he chose you.’ She instructs the servants to find me something suitable to wear for the feast and my first night with Hektor before turning to face me again, ‘You were the only one who acknowledged me.’ Two strong men placed a tub in the center of the room before a stream of serving women bearing large pails of hot water to fill it distracted me.
She mistook my silence for awe, ‘You will never want for anything again Selene. Not even hot water for bathing. Hektor is a good man. A good husband.’ She motioned for me to strip and step into the water. Communal bathing had become a necessity since we had left the comforts of the Phoenix planet behind. Keeping my eyes averted from her face until I was covered by the water I spoke for the first time since we left the throne room, ‘I did not expect this when I woke up this morning. I acknowledged you first my lady because you are first in his heart. It would have been disrespectful not to pay obeisance to the prior bond that already exists with the woman that my husband loves.’
Her audible intake of air startles those around me, ‘Is it the child my lady? Should we send for prince Hektor and the midwife?’ She waves them away like insects irritating her. They return to attending to me. ’They said that you are a daughter of a priest of Apollo?’she doesn’t wait for my answer before continuing, ‘I asked him to bring me someone who would understand the situation in my prayers this morning.’
This morning was my father’s turn in the temple to help the supplicants. I sucked in my breath as one of the women poured scented water through my hair. He had known before the soldier had approached me outside our house. He had known what this day would bring for me. He knew what lengths I was prepared to go to when it came to protecting those I loved. I decided in that moment that that circle included Andromache.
‘These were already in her bag my lady.’ One of the serving women lays out my purple belt and my mother’s jewels. ‘They were my Mother’s. She was of noble birth.’ I scrabble to cover how someone living in lower town could own such costly accessories.
‘She will wear her own jewels and belt. Your mother must have been loved by the gods and now so are you.’ Andromache’s brow drew together, ‘I do not recognise the country of origin.’ She wouldn’t. The collar and earrings were of Phoenix design. ‘The smith was an unknown who died just after completing these pieces.’
So much to be explained away with an apologetic smile and soft words.
Copyright 2020 M. J. Wright