A love story set in ancient Troy.
|A restless wind ravaged the dry, barren plains. There was no sign of life save for an eagle. It was circling the sky as though trying to draw some nutrition from the fruitless and dusty land below.
The merciless, midday sun beat down upon his back as Ajax shifted in his heavy armor trying to find a more comfortable position. Silently he gazed out at plains far below him, scouring some unknown enemy, but found nothing. The heat made him feel light-headed and he swayed slightly as he stood looking ahead, while his mind pondered other things. He thought of the uproar that had taken place when it was discovered that Prince Paris had brought the Spartan Queen Helen back to Troy. King Priam had welcomed her into the palace as one of his own children, but it was obvious that the Sparta was not happy about losing their queen.
Suddenly, the horn signaling danger sounded from the beach. Ajax reluctantly withdrew from his daydream and ran along the ramparts where he joined the army assembling at the great wooden doors.
When Chryseus heard the horn, she rushed to the balcony to see the great army marching through the doors and across the plains, leaving a cloud of dust in their wake. A terrible sadness seemed to wash over her as she thought of the lives that were about to be ended, about all the fathers, brothers, sons and husbands that were about to be taken away from their families forever. She knew that soon she too, would be bringing death upon some but life upon others.
By the time the sun had sunk below the high walls of Troy, the soldiers returned with an air of defeat. The hustle and bustle that was usually brought about by the sunset was absent. Here it was dark and cold and no amount of sun could change that. The city was quiet, everyone had retreated into their homes, trying to escape the impending cloud of darkness that now threatened to overtake the city.
The air in the infirmary was rent with the moaning and pain of men in the face of death. The smell of blood crept into the nostrils of those who were there and heightened the panic and distress of men who knew they would not live to see the next sunrise.
It pained Chryseus to see the men suffering as they did. Many would not last the night while others still would suffer for days before surrendering to the pain. She moved to the bed of a boy who could barely have seen more than seventeen winters. She looked down at where his hands were held over his stomach, covered in blood. His breathing was laboured yet he was awake. Slowly and gently, she lifted his hands to find a deep sword wound. She looked up at his face to see that he was fighting to stay conscious, yet she knew that soon he would no longer need to fight the pain, his body would surrender.
‘It w-was m-my first battle,’ the words did not come easily. Chryseus made to stop him, to tell him to relax, but he carried on, ‘Th-they said “defend your c-country” and I t-trie…”
He got no further, his body had finally decided to give up the hopeless fight and surrender to the gods. Slowly, Chryseus closed his eyes, laid her hand on his forehead and whispered, “Rest in peace, they will know that you died defending your country.”
With that, she drew the sheet over the boy’s head and turned her back on the bed, wiping her eyes as she walked to the next bed. There was no time for grieving when there were lives that could be saved. On the bed lay a man who was bleeding profusely from his left upper-arm. The arrow was still in the wound and it looked very painful, yet he man was completely still.
The pain was blinding him yet Ajax made no sound and did not move. If he was going to die he would not struggle and moan like those around him, he would wait patiently for Death to come. He looked around to find a young woman standing at his side, touching the wound. Surprisingly, it did not hurt. Maybe because he was numb with shock and pain, but probably because he was stunned by her beauty. She spoke soothingly and upon looking up at her face he felt light headed. Her dark hair, liquid brown eyes and sculpted face was beautiful beyond compare.
Chryseus marveled at his bravery as she removed the arrow. He did not wince once, but she could see him fighting to stay still. Relief crossed his face when the arrow had been taken out and slowly he closed his eyes with a look of contentment on his face. Although she knew that many others needed her help she stayed by his bed for a while longer, watching over him. A feeling of joy welled up inside her despite her surroundings, joy for the fact that she had saved a life, but also because of what she had seen in his eyes. Had it been love? Had he perhaps felt the same way she had?
Some people wonder whether, perhaps, it is wrong to smile when there is so much pain and destruction around you. They wonder whether they have a right to be happy while the world around them seems to be falling apart. This was what Chryseus and Ajax felt in the precious moments they had together. Moments when the war and death around them was forgotten and they had eyes only for each other. The little time they spent together was what kept them surviving the great sadness of the war. Yet, almost always they were interrupted by the horn calling all soldiers to battle. It was then when Ajax’s lips would linger on hers and Chryseus would hold him tightly and kiss even more passionately before he would pull away with regret in his eyes and don his armor.
Between them, there was always an unspoken fear of never being able to see each other again, a fear of thinking that this could be their last kiss.
Chryseus stared out at the now bloodstained plains. Nine years had passed since the Greeks had taken the Trojan beach and since then things had gone downhill. Yes, Menelaus, the Spartan King, had been killed and the Trojans had won a few battles but at the same time a great sadness had swept over the city, a sadness that even Troy’s high walls could not keep out. The Greek warrior, Achilles, had recently killed the Trojan prince, Hector. No one could forget the terrible silence that fell over the city when the final blow was struck. Nor could they ever push from their minds the scream that had come from Priam when he watched his son fall to the dusty ground. A scream that turned all the blood in the body to ice. The Trojans had lost spirit, for if they did not have Hector, how could they ever win?
Chryseus turned her thoughts to Ajax. She still felt his soft lips on hers, but every time the horn was blown, her fear increased. It was only a matter of time before something happened to him, Troy could not stand forever, Hector had proved that.
Suddenly, her vision was filled with a magnificent wooden horse being rolled into the city. The word was that the Greeks had given up and left the horse as a tribute to the gods, asking for forgiveness. On the beach they had taken almost ten years ago was nothing, but the remains of camp fires and a few broken tents.
There was peace once more.
The celebration lasted into the early morning. There was food and wine enough for all, not one went hungry. A lazy rumour drifted about that Prince Paris had pleaded with his father to burn the wooden horse, but Priam would hear none of it. “It is a gift to the Gods, do you want to insult the Gods?”
There was music, dancing and play after play was performed, all centered around the gigantic horse which stood in the center of the city. Finally, drunk and with a full belly, the last of the celebrants surrendered to sleep and a contented silence settled over Troy.
In the center of the city, something was stirring, unbeknown to all. Slowly, the wooden coverings around the horse were lowered to the ground and out of the shell climbed soldiers, clad in full armor.
Chryseus was shaken awake roughly by the arm. It took her a few seconds to realize who it was. “Ajax!” He would never have been that rough with her unless something was wrong. It was then that she became aware of the screams around her. Ajax, shook her again, more gently this time, but his voice was rough and harsh. He quickly said something about the Greeks having gained access to the city and that Troy was going to be destroyed. The urgency in his voice was such that Chryseus did not even stop to question him, but jumped up and immediately followed him.
Hand in hand, they ran through the burning remains of what had once been the magnificent city of Troy. Everywhere there were screams of terror as men, woman and children fell to the Greek blades.
Suddenly, Chryseus felt Ajax fall behind, his hand escaped her grip. She turned, and all air left her lungs as she saw that he was struggling to stand, blood was already running down from the place where the arrow had hit. She ran back to where Ajax stood, catching him in her arms just as he was about to fall forward. “You must run” he told her. Sobbing, she shook her head and put her arms around him, her dress soaked through with blood. Then the next arrow hit, Ajax crumpled beneath her. She held tighter, feeling his body go limp, her tears mingling with his blood. Oblivious to all the destruction around her as she had always been when she was with Ajax, she held on tighter. Then she felt pain beyond anything she had ever imagined as an arrow pierced her back. No sound came from her lips, she would wait for Death, as Ajax had once done, only this time, they were going together.
Slowly the lovers crumpled to the ground, wrapped forever in Love’s unwavering embrace.