Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Troy belong to their respective creators, Joss Whedon and Wolfgang Petersen/David Benioff/Homer.
A storm was coming.
The sea was wine-dark, and thick with white brume. The light was pale and gray, seeming to swell and churn on every cool, briny wind that blew in from over the depthless waters of the Earth-Shaker’s home.
Hector watched the shore pull away, the docks of the city of Trachis a mounting line of broken stone along the coast. He could still see, where the nameless temple sat high on the stony hill, the red banners of Thessaly drifting in the wind.
He thought about what he would say to his father.
Paris stood next to him, hair wet and glistening with the spray of the waves. His dark eyes were uncharacteristically brooding. “Had you ever imagined such a woman, brother?” he asked softly. And then, forming the name with his mouth as if he savored the flesh of some sweet fruit, “Kore.”
“No,” said Hector.
He remembered the blood smeared on her helm, on her skin, her bare feet. He remembered the way the giant, Boagrius, had made a fist of his right hand and struck the flat of his breast with it, a salute both foreign and strangely moving.
He remembered the shape of her wrist, fragile and small against his hand.
“Do you think she will give her ear to Odysseus?” asked Paris. He laid his hand on the mast, looking at Hector. “Do you think he means to turn her to the Mycenaean?”
Odysseus. Hector saw again, in the eye of his mind, the face of the Ithacan king, the expression in the man’s eyes when he looked upon Kore.
is a face to make a Greek sweat,” said Paris’s voice, and Hector returned to himself to find his brother grinning at him.
He scowled. “He is Agamemnon’s mouthpiece. She must know that. The Atreides would sooner swallow his tongue than keep any promise he makes her, Odysseus or not.”
Paris stared at him. Hector turned his face away, trying to take the irritation out of his eyes and mouth.
He wanted, more than anything, to order the ship turned about and taken back to Trachis.
A sailor’s shout brought him back to the ship, to the sea. A man at the prow was lifting his arm, and Hector turned his head to see what he pointed at.
In the distance, passing them to port, was a black ship.
The prow was high and carved. Before it, looking out over the water at the Trojan ship, was a tall, bright figure.
A man, his hair golden in the light.
Hector stood still, his heart throbbing. The man’s face was turned toward him, as his was turned toward the black ship, and, though he knew it was impossible for any mortal to see so sharply over such a distance, Hector could not help but feel as though the man standing in the prow of the black vessel was staring straight into his eyes.
The ships passed each other, the shouts of the sailors and rowers mingling like the cries of birds, the dialects of Phthia and Troas winding together. The other vessel was headed toward the Trachis docks, its sails filled with wind.
“A Phthiotian ship,” Paris said. “Did you recognize the sail?”
Hector said nothing.
Fifteen days to Troy. Fifteen days to return.
A Moon dead and reborn before he could come for her.
He saw again, abruptly, in the remembering of a memory that would not leave his mind, the faint flush of Kore’s skin as she glanced, impulsively, away from him, from the sight of his face.
He remembered her eyes when she looked back.
“Paris,” he said, “instruct the captain to make haste. I want to reach Troy in ten days.”
Paris’s mouth opened. “Ten! We would have to sail day and night without rest!”
He remembered the way she had looked at him.
“Day and night,” said Hector. “Without rest.”
He remembered, briefly but intensely, the black ship and the man standing in its prow.
At his side, his hand clenched into a fist, and it seemed to Hector that a weight, cold and leaden, pressed down on his breast.