4th day, Second Perition
Had you lived, you might have seen the late corrupting of my soul by that poisonous appetite you had placed into me. May the curse you so willingly inflicted be spared from another generation of king's sons, for my son Alexandrus, when he grows, will never lie with a whoreson Greek mentor such as I have known of you.
My heart and loins yearn for you yet.
For as I rode alone toward the frontier of Troya from the north, I crossed a ford and reminisced of the battle we had engaged with Thummim the Hittite... those indomitable warriors.
We routed them, and brought their leader in shackles before me. He was blooded, naked, reeking with the courage of the blood lust that consumed him on the field. Small, dark, and winded from the pursuit and capture.
Hestia attended him, and despite myself, I watched his quick hands flee across the warrior's flesh, and found myself wishing they were my own. And while I knew that Hestes and Apollion observed my interest, they said nothing. They would not insult Basileus in his glory, interrogating a fair and worthy enemy. In fact, they reveled in it even as they deplored the flicker of passion as it sparked. They knew me all too well -- my appetite for youth, violent and blooded in their passion and blood lust. The more outraged they would grow, the greater grew my yearning. The meek and humble never caught my eye.
And there stood I, the conqueror. He must have been abashed; but honor forbade him speak or make complaint.
"You are Thummim, the Hittite?" I spake. He made a slight sound. Yes?
"Do you speak my tongue?" I asked in Greek now. He assented by gesture.
We went on like this for some time until I bade him explain himself or be taken down for proper execution. He then spake. "Then execute me by your unholy whim, Slayer of the World!" he cried. At this I bade Hestia depart, and only Apollion stood at post.
"And you, depart," I said to Apollion. Apollion knew, then. The eyes of him! "And see that none come," I added.
The gloom gathered. I stepped toward the kneeling prisoner until his head was within the reach of my arm, and his gaze met my cuirass, and still buttoned bowsling.
"So you desire your death as a youth? Is this honor to your god, Ahura?"
He was abashed that I knew the name of his god, but he nodded, wonderingly. Oh how I yearned for that head of sweaty curls upon my pallet then! "You do not have to die,' I explained.
"And how shall I be saved?" he cried, brokenly. "The irresistible Basileus holds me in shackles, and I am his enemy!"
"True, but I am a conquerer, not a killer. If you are conquered, then I will release you to your people with your token in my possession as guarantee."
"What token? I have no gold, no horses, no asses to tribute!"
"You have what I desire most," I replied quickly, staring down upon him. My breath quickened in me, my flesh was provoked from the act of speaking it. His reek was in my nostrils, the sweat of him a taste upon my tongue. I stepped back a pace and sopped my brow.
"And what is that thing Basileus desires, who sacked Pergamon and Thrace?"
I turned. "An hour of your service."
"Service?" He was bewildered. I pressed on, dread merging with desire until nothing I would say could ever be taken back.
"Lay with me," I whispered. He stared in disbelief.
"I said, lay with me. Serve my pleasure. Here, now. And you are free."
"And if I do not?" he spake, his voice a strangled, hushed thing now.
"Then I have no token and shall have to demand the token of these things you do not have or own."
"What of - what of women?"
"The hostages, you mean? They are hostages, not concubines. Not slaves."
"But Basileus demands concubines of the Hittite warriors?" he asked again, unbelieving. I blushed freely, as I always have done, Aristes.
"Just an hour of concubinage. One hour to serve my pleasure. You are a fair and beautiful boy, ripe to feel the pleasure of an older man, perhaps this is what Basileus may be..." I wandered off my speech, as I beheld the horror in him.
Thummim stared at me, gradually his face drained of the flush of battle ardor, and revealed the drawn visage of a youth, advanced too quickly for command, left in charge of his elders, with none to advise or guide. By contrast, here stood I, surrounded by a host of bickering guardians at all times, at length given my leadership almost as an afterthought, when the thought of leading battle had grown old with familiarity. Yet, I had been no older than this youth when I first tasted death upon my tongue. And I had been no more than a child when I was enticed by the first caresses of the enigmatic youth Hestes. I digress.
Aristes, the thought of this man's life in my hands was detestable. I should spare him! His country, and his people, had done nothing to offend mine except to hire its young men to the wicked Darius by a pact they could hardly refuse. If Thummim had refused to harry me through the defile at Tarsus, his life would have been equally forfeit.
Here was a man, such as I, fierce and skilled in combat, though only just used to life; and abashed before Basileus. Not I, the petitioner for his attentions and erstwhile enemy. He dreaded the eagle's feather on my crown; he dreaded the arrow from my bow, my hand upraised to the Companions. Not I.
How could I have been so stupid? The myth spread abroad, that I had been protected by all of the gods, had grown so that to these superstitous youth, I was as one of them, a Titan, perhaps Ares himself, walking among them.
And what tribute would this Ares demand? The caresses of my enemy. Inconceivable. He would happily have given me his virgin bride to bed for me to father a new scion for my nation; but his virgin wife was nothing to me but a fair hostage; perhaps to hold against her father's compliance in obtaining tomorrow's grain for my men.
My wits were gone from me at that moment, and all of this reason failed to move me.
"You are some demon prince," he spat. "Execute me, then, and defile my corpse as you will with your polluted desire, but let my soul flee from it before you do, Demon." His fury was unchecked, unstoppable. I could not bear it.
I turned from him, and took my seat, my eyes averted from his fury, the hot reminder of a passion that had now fled, leaving only the tormented realization that youth had ended, and kingship had well and truly imprisoned me.
In the long silence that followed, Apollion returned, and took charge of the prisoner. We did not speak; he knew what had to be done.
"Do you accept the terms of surrender and tribute as offered by Basileus?" he said tiredly.
"Never," shouted the Hittite.
"Then how do you prefer to die?"
"By sword, by the hand of Basileus."
"Then you shall be granted three days to make you peace with your gods, and speak to your people," he said. If you urge surrender you will be spared. You have three days to consider this."
Apollion conducted the youth the youth away, his impassive gaze belied his satisfaction with the results.
And Hestes would have one less rival for his passions abroad in the world, whose dear face would fade with time into the tapestry of faces in a scene of a forgotten battle.
I lay with Hestes that night, and every caress brought me further from the moment I beheld the fierce and fair youth, Thummim the Hittite.
On the third day, Thummim did not capitulate, and I must stand before him once again, sword upraised to smite him and send him to his god, as he had requested. I hesitated before striking the blow, and then grew certain.
"There is a holiday today, " I announced, and placed my weapon cautiously against his neck. "All those who are about to die are pardoned, and may be set free by the port of Troya. At Troya, they may sail, but not to Darius. And any who are found on the roads or passes east of Troya will be put to death. Hephaestion, take them to a ship." I put up, and dismissed them all.
I turned without a glance at the bowed head of one I might have loved, but would not destroy. Let another snuff his candle; it would not be me. Not for lust, nor for other reason.
This is my confession.