She's immortal, he's from the future. Neither are prepared. Rough edit.
If the cycle of food and the sun and moon was to be believed, then it should be two days. I had gotten a chunk of slightly stale bread from the goaler every morning, when I could see the sun rising through the small slit on the top of the cell, filling the small stone room with buttery light, and every evening, when the moonlight seeped into the room, making it look like shining mercury.
And every morning and night, I looked through that small little hole with my molten gold eyes, and wondered if Diana and her twin brother Apollo were up there, driving their chariots across the sky. I didn't think so. If they were, then they must have seen me sitting among the dirty straw, grime under my fingernails and just about everywhere else, and if they saw me and did nothing about it… I couldn't think like that. Not if I wanted to be in the right state of mind for when the Praetor guards, or however commanded them, returned for me.
If they returned at all.
Craning my neck to see the stone wall behind me, I saw nothing new. This was my tradition. Every day, when the sun was streaming through the window in my cell, lighting it up, I would look around, trying to notice anything new that I might have somehow missed the previous day.
I never saw anything new. And today was no different. All I saw were the four gray stone walls which seemed to grow smaller and smaller every hour that I was in here, the packed dirt floor covered over with increasingly dirty straw, and that little window that the more I looked at it, the more it looked like a murder hole.
Sighing, I leaned my head back against the wall, my thick iron chains clanking as I brought my hands up to brush the blonde hair out of my eyes. My beautiful blonde hair, that was beginning to look brown, just like the rest of me.
And to think, two days ago I had been going about my life in Rome, attempting to sell the vibrant wildflowers that grew on my father’s fields like I did everyday outside the palace, drawing in the people who hoped to win the emperor's favor.
As if anyone could win the favor of the infamous Caligula.
But it kept me alive, and relatively under the radar, which was the most important thing for me. Until two days ago that is.
Because when the sun crested over the sky, I was at my little cart laden with wildflowers in blues, yellows, pinks, and oranges, and three members of the emperor's Praetor had come to drag me to this stinking cell.
I suppose I was flattered, that they thought they needed three of the emperor’s hand picked personal guardsmen to take a measly flower girl, and that they put me in chains heavy enough to keep a lion imprisoned.
My thoughts were broken up by the sound of a key turning in the rusting lock that was inlaid in the large, thick wooden door in the wall of the cell opposite me.
I closed my eyes, expecting it to be the gaoler who brought me my food. I didn't need to see his ugly face right now. It might manage to demoralize me even more.
But when there were no harshly barked commands for me to eat my ration, I opened one eye into a squint.
In the space it would take a person to blink, both of my eyes were open and I had dragged my heavy chains up enough to be in a standing position.
After all, standing at attention was the least I could do when a man wearing the uniform of a Praetor commander walked into my very humble abode.
The man had a gruff face, not ugly, even handsome in a roguish sort of way, with the shadow of a beard gracing his jaw, and a face of hard planes and angles. His eyes were what drew my attention though.
They were silver. And they looked… unnatural. Molten. Something out of this world. They looked like the exact twin to my own, except his were silver and mine were gold.
I clasped my hands, begging to the gods for forgiveness for lapsing in my faith for a short while, and thinking that they did not care about me.
For surely this male with the strange eyes and handsome face could only be a god. Maybe Mercury? Or Mars?
Without saying anything, the male dropped a small stack of shiny parchments at my feet, motioning for me to sit, his muscles rippling under his uniform as he did.
I averted my eyes from the male in front of me and sat down, my chains making a horrible ruckus as I did.
The parchment looked like nothing I had ever seen. They were glossy like the silk my old friend sold in the market, but they were small, and thicker than normal parchment.
And there were images on the parchment. Pictures that no artist could have made.
“What are these?” I ask, looking up at the male, my eyes wide, more convinced than ever that he must be god. But what would that make me?
“They are pictures. Photographs, though I suppose you wouldn't know what those are yet,” the man answers in a voice much more kind than I had expected. And exhausted sounding.
The male took a seat in front of me, rubbing at his face with his hands. “Do you see what’s on them?”
I looked closer at the “photographs” as the strange male who was most definitely not a Praetor guard, had called them. And what I saw left me reeling.
It was me. All of the pictures were of me. But I couldn't remember having been in those situation, and I definitely didn't remember seeing something that could have made these pictures. Not in all the hundreds of years that I had been alive for.
The first photograph on the stack was one I remembered doing, although I don't know how one of these photograph things were taken. I was in Babylon, where I has spent time before going to Greece, and then to the Roman Empire. It was a picture of me, kneeling down in the street and picking up the little grass doll of a small girl, with Ishtar Gate in the background.
I lifted my eyes from the glossy parchments to the male sitting in front of me, with his helm off so I could see his entire face as he mirrored my position, leaning against the wall with his legs crossed under him.
The male, who I was more convinced than ever must be a god, jerked his chin at the photographs, as if to say, keep looking.
With one last wary glance to the male in the purple and gold Praetor uniform, I moved the first picture aside to the one beneath it. This is remembered too.
It was from my time in Greece, where I had lived in Athens, the city-state capital of the empire. This picture was over two hundred years after the last one.
The photograph was of me in the priestess robes that still hung in my small house here in Rome, from when I had been a priestess at the temple of Athena for many years. This particular moment was when the King and Queen of Telepylos had come to pay homage to the goddess during the harvest festival where sacrifices were made to all of the Olympians.
But how could this male have pictures of these events? No one had been allowed into the temple that day other than the King, Queen, and myself.
I began rapidly looking through the photographs still in the stack. I did not recognize any of these ones.
One was of me in a white uniform with a red, squared cross on the hat of it, standing over a group of men lying on cots, in various states of injury, all with a green looking uniform on. Another was of me in the back of a room where a large group of men in white wigs were seeming to be arguing over something, while the man in the front of the room wrote down things on a large scroll of parchment.
The last one caught my attention though. It was of me, but around things that I had never seen. Things that I didn't know what were. In the photograph, I was standing with a man who had his arm around me in a greenery filled area, with little children running around us. But the man who was holding me had a little shiny rectangle out, the size of me hand, and it glowed.
My chains were hitting lightly against each other as I shook in fear, feeling insurmountably smaller in the little cell as I thought about what was happening to me.
“Which god are you?” I ask the man, probably not with as much reverence as I should have had in my voice.
The male chuckled, a deep dark thing that bounced around the stone walls, filling every inch of the small space that there was. “I’m no god. But I find myself wondering if you are,” The male responds, amusement lacing his voice, sugarcoating the tones that I know mean he could have me flat against the wall with the sword at his side across my throat in seconds.
Then, without warning, all amusement vanishes from the male’s voice, leaving only rock hard, unending will. Although, it's probably not the only rock hard part of him, judging from the way his uniform seemed a little tight around his arms and chest.
I shook my head, clearing out the distractions as the male used that cold voice and demanded of me, “Who are you?”
But unbeknownst to him, the male had given up the only reason that I was being cooperative. Now that I knew he wasn't a god… even if he was dangerous, so was I. You don't like hundreds of years without picking up some things.
So I raised my eyebrow instead of deeming to answer him. “I’ll tell you who I am if you tell me how you have these… photographs from times that haven't come around yet,” I reply, imbuing my voice with the same unyielding steel as the man had.
Yes, man not male. Since he wasn't a god, even if his eyes were strange, he must still be a man. What kind though… that I still had to figure out.
“You are in no position to negotiate,” The man responded gruffly, neither of us moving from our position against the wall.
It seemed that we had hit a stalemate.
Until the man’s mouth twisted up in a dark smirk that would have looked more fitting on Pluto, and he uttered one word that left me completely reeling. “Inayah.”
My name. My real name. Not the one I went by now, an empty word that I would change in a decade or so when people realized that I wasn't aging.
But no one should know my real name, the one I had given myself.
When I was born in the beginning of the Mesopotamian era, my mother had given me a name before dying when I was seven, but it had never meant anything to me.
But then, when I was twenty-one, and I stopped aging, never looking older, I chose my own name. A name that suited me, and that I would be glad to carry around for the rest of the life that, at the time, was looking long.
No one should know that name. I had stopped using it with people thousands of years ago. And yet… for the first time in those thousands of years, my name had come from the lips of someone who wasn't myself.
And it felt… refreshing.
“How do you know that name?” I whispered, my voice unable to go any higher being as awestruck as I was. Who the hell was this man?
The man smirked again, but this time it was more innocent, more like a smirk that Apollo would wear while chasing his latest conquest. Casually draping his arms over his knees that he had now brought into an upright position. “Because I was there when you told your chosen name to your friend Aniyi,” the man continued, “Just like I was there when all of these other events happened, Inayah,” he said, gesturing at the stack of photographs still in front of me.
I was shell shocked. How could that be possible? The man had said he wasn't a god, but how else could he have lived as long as I had? Although, I don't think that I’m a goddess either so… ack! This was all so confusing.
“How is any of this possible,” I ask him, shaking my head in disbelief, forgetting for a moment where I was under the Emperor’s Palace.
“Ah, you see Inayah, that’s because I’m a time traveler.”