6th Elephabolion

We sapped the wall and broke through next to the garrision, though we lost a siege tower to flames that were hailed down upon us, and I have our builders working to build some edifice stone-fronted, though it will be heavy to carry forward, and we must use additional wheels. All of this is much better handled by Hephaestion, and I had audience with him tonight, and with Parmes, to discuss the engines of siege. He was tanned with exertion, and a powerful presence was on him of renewed command, unlike the broken spirit I had seen these few days hence, and I was glad of it. I went to kiss him in greeting and checked myself as I recalled me to our present selves, and he knelt in the cursory way, his face now impassive. No sign remained of the tears of his ravaged pain, and for this, too, I was glad.

Parmenion was uneasy with the two of us, but sat him and Hestes down in short order to make discussion of what engines to build and what to lay against the walls. One issue returned to me again and again, "they send their mercenaries out - what of the Persian garrison? Will they not fight? Why send they the Greeks only?" I looked at these and waited. Hestes?"

"Why ask you me?"

"Not this petulance, please. I have asked you here for your skill of sieges and your knowledge of the Rhodian. You knew him, by study and reputation. Tell me why Mithradates plays these mercenaries."

He glared at me, brief, and cast a glance to Parmenion before he answered. "This is easy, Basileus. These are refugees from Granicus, who have fled before you from place to place, and are not necessarily welcome, for Halicarnassos know you seek them and are enraged over them. You have sought them from the day you failed to fell them all and they fled, deep into Caria. The king of this place will force them to fight for him, before he commits his own resource, because they are no longer popular with Persia and must regain their place if they are to succeed."

On the word "failed" I bridled, but listened, otherwise calmly, to all he said. He had good reason, here. "And you?" I enquired of Parmes.

"This is a reasonable thing; also, it could be the Persians are not ready, or they wish to spend their Greeks first, since they are foreigners. Or - and this is quite likely - they may think that Makednoi will spare more of the Greek than of the Persian."

"In this they are definitely wrong. Persia fights for its king, and these Hellenes fight for gold they should not be paid. They are traitors, and I hate that worse than all else, even opposition to my rule or treason. This be treason entire. Now, to strategy of siege. What say you?"

And Hephaestion, once again warmed to the little tasks of war, oped his mouth and spake of all he had studied of how to sap the walls, and what protection could be made for the men who were hailed on from above, and how to protect from fire thrown from pitch-torches. And so, we renewed our attack this morn, and at length, broke through the inner wall they were building, and this precipitated another attack from the garrisoned troops, after which they would rebuilt with frantic haste.

Each time we were close to gaining entry, and another hot skirmish would erupt. And tonight, our engines were attacked, and we endured hot action among the guards, and I was aroused from sleep from it, as I lay in warm embrace again with both my women, who nursed me more for my aches rather than to assuage my lust, and we were together in the night. Though I had not intended to, I rose for each in turn, briefly, then fell senseless abed, then roused again to arms when the sally came from the city. They helped me to arm, and I ran among the guards to drive them back, and drive them we did. And then, I fell back into the arms of these warm females and was once again senseless.