I know it’s been a while, but here’s more at long last! I haven’t written much more, but I have every intention of devoting much more time to this work, and then I will be able to post some more. For now, this section ends at a good place, and moves the story along just a little. As this is the first draft only, I don’t mind not being completely happy with the writing. Also, just to quell the theory before it arises – no, Helen isn’t crazy, but only she can see the things she’s seeing. As always, I welcome any feedback.
Forty men had accompanied Tyndareus to Troy, but fifteen more came off the ship with him. These men were Trojans, Clytemnestra whispered to Helen, and while several were academics or servants, six were clearly experienced warriors. Immediately curious, Helen tugged the end of her father’s tunic a few times.
“Father, why did you bring Trojans back with you? Are they going to live here now?”
“I was about to explain that, my dear – “ as Tyndareus began his answer, a young boy began his descent from the ship’s deck. His clothes were fine, his bearing regal if a little haughty, and his features handsome. The Trojans – aside from the warriors, who maintained a strong, intimidating stance – bowed as he passed them.
Tyndareus gestured toward the boy. “Allow me to introduce Hector, prince of Troy. He has come to study the traditions and battle technique of the Spartans. In one year’s time, King Priam of Troy, will visit us here and Hector will return home with his father. Until then, I will view Hector as my own son, and I have no doubt that you, my beautiful daughters, will treat him as a brother.”
Hector had paused before them, looking carefully at both Helen and Clytemnestra. “I hope we’ll be friends,” he said, his expression quite serious.
In response, Helen quickly stepped forward and flung her arms around him. Hector let her, but did not return her embrace, while Clytemnestra clenched her teeth at her sister’s impropriety. Helen took no notice of this. She laughed and said, “I always wanted a brother.”
Tyndareus hailed a servant and ordered, “Show Prince Hector to his chambers, and show his attendants theirs as well. Make sure he settles in properly, and then escort him to the main hall for the return feast.”
The servant bowed, then addressed Hector. “Please follow me, Your Highness. Your rooms are all prepared for you.”
As Hector and his Trojan entourage trailed the servant into the palace, Helen realized that the messenger who ran ahead of the ship must have informed the servant staff that Hector came with Tyndareus. “Father, why did no one tell me the Prince of Troy would be here?”
Tyndareus touched Helen’s cheek affectionately. “Because everyone knows how you love surprises.”
Thunder grumbled directly above them. Tyndareus looked up, startled. His face suddenly grew much darker, eyes narrow, jaw firmly set. With an arm around each of his daughters, he ushered them inside, leaving the ocean behind him. The clouds above seemed to churn with anger, Helen thought. They had been inside for mere seconds when the rain began. No more than a few drops at first, it quickly became a downpour.
“That was lucky,” Helen said, giggling. “My prayer must have worked. It looks like Zeus smiled on us.”
She peered up into her father’s eyes. He looked down at her, somber and distant, and responded, “Zeus does nothing but frown at me, Helen. He has smiled on you.”
As he headed for his room, looking to change out of the seafaring clothes he had been wearing for weeks or months, he muttered, “As usual.”
Helen tilted her head as she took this in. “What does that mean?” she asked. But Tyndareus was out of hearing, and Clytemnestra just shook her head and she followed her father down the hall. Everyone else was merely passing her on their way to somewhere else.
After a time, Helen’s nurse came to usher her back to her bedroom. The feast would begin soon, but not until Tyndareus, the returning Spartans, Hector, and the Trojans had some time to refresh their bodies and spirits. The nurse, knowing that Helen would be most restless until she could be near her father, brought out a shining handful of colorful ribbons and helped her to braid them prettily together. Helen lost herself in the task. When they had finished, she asked if she could replace her golden rope belt with the new, more creative option. Nodding and smiling, the nurse took the ribbons from Helen and helped her to make the switch.
“These colors are very pretty with that dress,” the nurse said.
“They’re like the ocean,” Helen breathed, gazing with wonder down at the purples and blues and greens of her new accessory. “I saw something in the ocean today.”
“I’m sure you did.”
Of course the nurse did not believe her – but she felt sure that she had really seen those lights in the water. Thinking that, just maybe, if she saw them again now she could point them out to the nurse, Helen made her way onto the balcony. She peered hard, scanning every visible inch of the ocean, but saw no lights. Instead, she saw, far out from shore and just below the surface, a grand and horrible bearded face with eyes even stormier than the ocean. Helen gasped – but the face was smiling at her.
“You’ll be soaked, Helen, and then you’ll have to change your dress. Come back inside,” the nurse insisted. Helen obliged, looking anxiously over her shoulder, but the face had disappeared.