A – Z Challenge Day 3

Third day of the April Challenge already! Blimey, I think it ought to slow down a bit!

Today’s word was once again provided by the wonderful Kate, and the word is “CONCUBINE”. Again, this is a great suggestion and not at all what I was expecting as a prompt, but it began to spark ideas in my brain almost right away. The idea which caught the kindling was that of ancient Greece and their penchant for concubines, and I was able to coax it into a blaze.

Here’s what I was able to come up with. I hope you enjoy it.

CONCUBINE

By Adam Dixon

Cassandra stood at the foot of the marble steps leading up to the palace, closing her eyes to better feel the breeze on her skin. She tilted her head back, enjoying its cool fingers caressing her hair. It had been a long journey from Troy and she was grateful to be back on dry land. She had had some misgivings about travelling to Mycanae, and her main concern had been its queen. Queen Clytemnestra had been awaiting the return of King Agamemnon, and she would surely not be pleased to learn that her husband would be bringing home another woman. Cassandra was Agamemnon’s concubine and had borne him twin sons during the Trojan campaign, but she was essentially just a trophy. Worrying over the queen’s reaction to the news had given Cassandra dozens of sleepless nights during their voyage and she had prayed to all the gods of Olympus that they give her the courage to face her. However, to her great surprise Clytemnestra seemed to already know about her. She welcomed Cassandra to Mycanae warmly and immediately offered her a place to bathe before the feast. Cassandra had been taken aback and had declined with what she hoped was the proper degree of humility. She had remained behind as the King was escorted inside his palace, preferring to collect herself before following him.

As she stood enjoying the breeze, she began to feel as if she were being watched. She opened her eyes and saw a tall, lithe man leaning against a pillar not ten feet from where she stood, staring at her with an unsettling look on his face. Cassandra felt her skin crawl and she cleared her throat loudly before turning towards him. She did not know him, but she recognised him by his description; his cold blue eyes, hooked nose and curled blond hair marked him as Aegisthus, the former ruler of Mycenae. Cassandra wondered why he was there in the first place, since Agamemnon and his brother had jointly forced Aegisthus from the throne years before.

“Good day to you, my lord,” Casssandra said nervously, bowing her head slightly. “I do apologise, I thought I was alone.”

“No apology is necessary, my lady,” Aegisthus replied coolly, his eyes gliding along Cassandra’s hips and thighs. “I am merely taking some air before the celebrations begin. You are the King’s prize, are you not?”

Cassandra frowned and adjusted her robe. She disliked having his eyes all over her, it made her feel unclean.

“I suppose I am at that, my lord,” she answered curtly, hoping she didn’t sound too brusque. Her grip on the politics of Mycenae was slight and she didn’t know how powerful this man was. She would tread carefully.

“To the victor go the spoils,” Aegisthus quoted with a sneer. He stood up straight and flexed his fingers. Cassandra had been around soldiers enough to recognise it as a pre-combat technique, performed almost without thought.

“Tell me,” Aegisthus stepped towards Cassandra, a terrible gleam in his eyes. “Are the rumours surrounding you true? Are you truly a Seer?” Cassandra took a step backwards, moving away from the stairs and back towards the shaded garden.

“They are…my lord,” she said hesitantly. “Mother Hera gifted me with Foresight, although its usefulness has been overstated, I fear.”

“Curious…” Aegisthus took another step closer, scratching at his chin thoughtfully. “I heard that your Talent is often ignored, and at the detriment of those who do so. Is that true also?” Cassandra grew fearful at this line of questioning, and attempted to change the subject.

“So, the King prepares for his feast,” she stammered, looking down at her sandals. “It promises to be a great event, with no expenses spared by the Queen on food and wine.”

“Hmm? Oh…yes,” Aegisthus seemed irritated by the deflection. “The Queen intends to provide a welcome which the King will never forget. It will go down in history, mark my words!” He gave a low chuckle which chilled Cassandra to the bone. As she stood wondering what to say next, a Vision sprung upon her without warning. As though through a blood-tainted window, Cassandra saw the King emerging naked from his bath with Clytemnestra holding a towel nearby. As Agamemnon steps forward, Clytemnestra tosses the towel over the King’s head. The King roars in surprise, for the towel has been weighted down at its corners, blinding and trapping him. A heartbeat later, Aegisthus runs forward from behind a screen wielding a sword which he plunges into the King’s chest. Agamemnon’s screams echoed in Cassandra’s ears and the present world flashed back into sight, the Vision leaving her weak and breathless. She fell to her knees, gasping and looking up at Aegisthus in horror. The man watched her, his smiling growing ever wider as Cassandra’s fear rose like a black flower in her heart.

“Guards!” She spluttered hoarsely. “Guards, help! A traitor is among us! Protect the King!” Aegisthus descended the stairs in four quick leaps and struck Cassandra hard with his fist. She fell onto her back and the world swam as her mouth filled with blood.

“It’s too late, my little whore!” Aegisthus snarled, wiping his knuckles on his tunic. “The events are already in motion and you cannot stop them! Enjoy your last moments whilst you can, for the Queen has plans for you!” He spat in Cassandra’s face before bounding back up the stairs and disappearing into the palace.

Cassandra groaned and struggled to sit up. Her vision was blurred and her limbs were weakened from her Vision. She attempted to call the guards again, but her voice would not obey her. She wept bitterly as she realised that nobody would believe her anyway. Nobody ever believed her…

Minutes later a cry of alarm was raised within the palace, and then the fighting began.

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25 thoughts on “A – Z Challenge Day 3

  1. Reblogged this on Kate McClelland and commented:
    Well done AJ! An historical story based on one of my favourite themes, Greek ‘Mythology’. Very gripping!
    How awful would it be to have the ‘gift’ of a seer, but for no-one to believe her?
    Today she would have used ‘reverse psychology’ I think hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it and picked up on that 😊 Cassandra’s curse stated that her visions would forever be ignored, but I prefer this more realistic reason. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Cassandra

        What horrendous act did she do to attract this kind of apocalyptic curse?

        A common version of her story is that, in an effort to seduce her, Apollo gave her the power of prophecy – but when she refused to have sex with him, he spat into her mouth (nice, classy) to inflict a curse that she would always tell the truth, but that no-one would believe her.

        She then had to endure for the rest of her elongated life (part of the punishment), the continuing personal horror of warning people something dreadful was going to happen, but being ignored because of a capricious curse from a lascivious ‘god’- and then having to watch helplessly as it happened.

        A heavy punishment indeed for deciding not to shag an obvious not so omnipotent god psychopath (‘not so omnipotent’ as – who worships him now – apart from NASA?).

        As in the words of Vinny Jones in ‘Snatched’ – ‘That’s a bit strong innit?’

        Great story Adam.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, those Greek gods were extremely sore losers to say the least! It makes for some interesting reading, though 😄
        Thanks for commenting, and I LOVE the Snatch quote! Great film with so many great lines!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Snatch is one of my all time favourite films. Not normally my type of film, but it was so well done. So, so many good lines. One of my favs is ‘We won’t get pulled by the police Vincent, as we are sitting in a car that is worth less than your shirt!’

        Liked by 1 person

      • Indeed, VERY well done! Haha I love those guys, they are so incompetent as criminals 😄
        My favourite line in from Bricktop when he gets the news that Gorgeous George can’t fight: “In the quite words of the Virgin Mary: come again?”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Indeed. On a more predictable note, Thandie Newton provides some lovely eye-candy! 😄 But seriously, the ending worked really well. Gotta love the “Archie Slap!” 😉
        Lock Stock is without a doubt, hands-down my favourite Guy Ritchie film and if I ever did a Top 10 favourite films it would definitely be in there somewhere! 😄

        Liked by 1 person

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