Dust rises as Hektor's head bounces along in the dirt. I can't tear my eyes away from the gruesome scene. This is the third time Achilles had dragged my brother's corpse around the walls of the city, and both the king and queen have retired to the citadel to mourn in private. But I am not content to stay and hide behind the walls while the brute who has already killed my twin desecrates my brother's body. So instead I pray to Apollo, Hektor's patron, to help me. Please hear my prayer, Lord Apollo. Do not let this brute leave my brother's corpse to the birds. Hektor always honored you, honored all the gods. He does not deserve such a fate as this. As is commonplace when I pray to the sun god, I feel the warmth of the sun on my dark skin despite the clouds that have covered the sun since Hektor's murder. It as if Apollo himself mourns, I think to myself.
I turn back to enter the citadel and make my way through the palace. I cannot bear to go back to my chambers and sit there all alone. I cannot go to my parents, as I did when I was a young girl. And of course, I can no longer visit Hector... or Troilus. So with a twinge of doubt, I head up the tower stairs to see Kassandra.
When I arrive, she is already asleep, so instead of waking her, I curl into a ball at the foot of my sister's bed.
Don't fret, little sister. I turn my head to see Hektor in the window, shimmering in the moonlight. All will be well.
"But how can you be laid to rest while your body rots in the myrmidon camp?"
Hektor smiles sadly, I regret how soon I will see you again, and the shade shatters into gold. Then, I awake to Kassandra's screams.
I rush to her bedside, where Kassandra is thrashing around in her cot. I am attempting to untangle her from her sheets when her hand finds my face, leaving a stinging red mark. Almost immediately, she awakens from her nightmare. "Have I hurt you?" She asks timidly.
"No," I respond, unsure of how to continue.
"Good, you will need all your strength for what's ahead." Kassandra stands up and walks to the chest at the front of her bed. She pulls out a deep purple robe. I am in awe of the ornamentation of the garment. Around the edges are embroidered ornate golden patterns, and small gems decorate it as well.
"Where did you get this? It must be worth a fortune!"
Kassandra sadly fingers the garment, "It was a gift from Othronus. He wanted me to wear it on our wedding night," She looks directly at me, and I see the emptiness in her eyes, "He did not believe me when I said I would never marry." She shoves the robe at me, "Wear this when you meet Achilles."
I recoil at her words, "Meet Achilles!"
She nods solemnly, "Father is going to bargain for Hektor's corpse tonight. He's going to carry Hektor's weight in gold to Achilles and beg for the body. But what will Achilles do with gold? He knows his fate as well as I do. He knows he will never leave Troy no more than Hektor will. He will refuse that gift," She looks away, "But he will take another."
It takes me a moment to understand what she is implying. Did Achilles want the beautiful robe? That seemed foolish. Then it dawned on me, "You mean for me to prostitute myself to that man!"
She holds eye contact, "Yes," I open my mouth to protest but she interrupts, "It is the only way. What is your life against Hektor's immortal soul?"
Her words sting, but I cannot think of a response. Would I have not done this to save Troilus? So why not for Hektor? I am curious about one thing, "What do you mean, my life?"
It is only now that she looks away, "If you go to Achilles tonight, you will seal your fate. Achilles will cause your death," she says with absolute certainty. Never before has one of her prophecies involved me, nor have I ever been present when our father screams at her to stop spouting lies. But I believe her, I feel it in my heart. If I do this, I will die. I regret how soon I will see you again, Hektor said in my dream. Can I accept that? Can I accept my fate, sacrifice my life for my brother's soul? Kassandra stares into my gray eyes with hers.
"Will father let me go?"
Kassandra smiles bitterly. "The King will give you anything you ask for."
I nod, take the robe, and leave her chambers, heading to the king's quarters.
Father is in his antechamber, and I can hear his screams long before I enter the room. He is ordering the servants to fetch the finest treasures in Troy to ransom Hektor.
"Father, please. Achilles will not accept gold, he-"
My father whirls around and screams at Helenos, "Worthless son!" He looks over all my brothers, "Worthless sons!" Deiphobus, Helenos, Pammon, Polites, and Paris all stand before him. "All of you shame me! I have had the bravest son in Troy! Hektor was a god among men, yet he is dead, with all my other brave sons! The Hellenes have slain them all - and what sons I have left disgrace me! Liars, cowards, heroes of the dance - not war. I wish that all of you had died before the Scaean gate instead of Hektor!" Helenos, Pammon and Polites blanch at father's words, tears spring up in Paris's eyes, and Deiphobus clenches his fists and his face turns red. He opens his mouth to speak, but I interject before he angers father further.
He turns to me, and his expression softens, "Polyxena, my only worthy child left." I do not look over at my brothers to see their expressions at this declaration.
"Father, let me accompany you to the Myrmidon camp."
I have rarely seen my father truly taken aback, but before he can form a protest Deiphobus argues, "I should accompany you, father! I am the best warrior in Troy now."
"No, I should go," We all turn to Paris in surprise, "His death is my fault. I should be the one to risk my life. Anyways, Kassandra has always said that I must-"
"Silence!" My father orders. "We will hear nothing of your mad sister." He turns to Helenos, "What say you, Helenos? You are good for nothing but prophecies."
Helenos ignores my father's insult, "Polyxena is meant to go." I meet my prophet brother's eyes. They are the same as Kassandra's but hold more melancholy than madness. We all turn back to father, awaiting his decision.
"My daughter will accompany me," he says, and Deiphobus storms away. My father shouts after him, "Prepare a wagon! And load it with Hektor's weight in gold."