Author's note – I am now officially done (story-wise). It's been years since I started and almost a year since I last updated. I promised an epilogue and here it is. I wouldn't have done it if it weren't for the occasional review that came even long after I was "finished". Thanks so much for reviewing!
No one remembered me after that. I am small as I stand in the middle of the plain, the sand swishing about my ankles – blood and bones of soldier and Amazon. The dust soon becomes heavy with rain and then is still while the wind still blows. I close my ears against its relentless howling, the sobbing of a thousand souls still warring.
I think I am at peace now. The anger has faded to sadness within me and the sadness to nothing but a mere memory. The pyres are burnt out and it is only I that stands here, my hair clinging to the rain on my face. There is nothing to see here anymore.
It is a familiar road I walk. My feet are weary against the worn road and still I keep moving forward, not afraid of any man who should look upon a woman nearing four and twenty – there is a sword dangling from my waist and I have learned to use it again.
The moon was sad behind a cloud, made way for a red morning and still I walk. My feet are not as tired as my heart and I am lonely. A small caravan of horses and slave girls passes me by, led by a large woman with a lisping laugh through a mouth of missing teeth. She glowers at me and I evade her stare, looking down as if I am ashamed. But I know her.
"Marina," I breathe, no anger or fear in my tone. She shouts her party to a stop and I stop too, unflinching beneath her small, beetle eyes. "I will not fight," I murmur, moving again and not even grasping the sword at my side.
"Amazon!" she bellows in a hoarse voice, peering down at me. "Come join us!" I shake my head and don't even look back, looking down instead at the broken sandals on my feet. "There is food, girl! And there are companions for you… surely you yearn for company… or do you still travel alone, foolish vagabond?"
"And you would buy me to sell me again? I am much too old to please any master!" I shout back, growing stubborn. I hear a low scoff, because I was not old at all. Marina's party begins to move again, the weary shuffling of weary feet sounding behind her wagon. A woman's voice whispered my name and I thought I heard it on the wind.
"Thalassa!" My heart stopped beating, or so I think. I turn around. "Thalassa!" cries a silly girl no longer silly. I throw out my arms and run to her, stumbling a little until I take her into my arms, her wrists bound together.
"Briseis, what are you doing here?" I demand breathlessly. The weary woman before me merely sighs. "You've returned only to be made a slave again?" The caravan slows then comes to a second stop.
"I am sorry," she apologizes softly. "It is the only life I have ever known…"
"Release her!" I order loudly, drawing my sword and slashing at the ropes. "Release them all!" Marina laughs at me.
"The age of heroes has come and gone – for now," she tells me. "And what heroine's tale will be told about the rescue of servant girls?" I hate her.
"No, Thalassa, no more," Briseis pleads. "This is our rescue. We cannot ever be free, not like you. We would be lost." I touched her hair and kiss her cheek sadly, my eyes falling upon the small boy at her skirts that I had not noticed before. "He is my son," she explains. "He is not tied up because Marina knows he would not ever leave me… or he would be left behind, and she would not care. I try to carry him when he is tired…" The caravan begins to move again.
"Briseis…" I begin, looking down at her son with his golden hair. "You will let him live your life?"
"So he would not live his father's life, I would!"
"Then farewell. The gods permitted us to meet now and so they shall again." I turn my head and begin to go away from them; my heart heavier than it was before our meeting.
"Take his hand, Thalassa," Briseis says suddenly. "Take his hand and do not let go until I am gone." I am stunned. The little boy grabs her skirts and hides his face in them, afraid of me.
"What…" I begin, blinking with disbelief.
"Take his hand… carry him for a while, his feet are bleeding… please. I am not like you. I will never be free like you. If you save me now then I shall become someone else's captive. Take him, Thalassa. If he cries, tell him I will not come back. His name is Chrysanthos." I reach out and grasp the hand of the boy. He whimpers and reaches for his mother but Briseis grows further away, tears glistening in her eyes as se looks back. Then she looks away from him, never to look back.
"Where has she gone?" he will ask me later.
"Where she thought she belonged, I suppose. Where she thought she was supposed to be. Only the gods know."