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The Alexander Inheritance: Chapter Six

       Last updated: Friday, June 2, 2017 20:09 EDT



Royal Lounge, Queen of the Sea
September 22

    The tension in the bright and airy room could be cut with a knife. Captain Floden was keeping his poker face on, but Staff Captain Dahl was visibly bristling. Marie Easley, Amanda noted with carefully hidden amusement, was unbothered and perhaps even unaware of the tension. She was busy with a slate, checking pronunciations and tweaking the Greek translation program. She had an ear bud in one ear and was apparently paying no attention at all to the looks she was getting from the crew and, for that matter, Congressman Wiley.

    “If you don’t find us too distracting,” Captain Floden said, “we’d like to discuss the warning you decided to issue to the locals about upcoming political events.”

    Marie looked up. “Why?”

    “Because it might have interfered with our negotiations with the locals on any number of matters. We’re expecting a visit from Ptolemy later today, and we have no idea how he reacted to your news,” Staff Captain Dahl said, and Congressman Wiley — for once — nodded in agreement.

    “What are you nodding about, Congressman?” Dahl said hotly. “You’ve been half a step from open mutiny for the last three days.”

    “Anders, calmly, please,” Jane Carruthers said, then looked at Wiley. “Not that I don’t agree with him, Congressman.”

    “Then you are mistaken, Ms. Carruthers. The passengers are concerned, and rightly so. We have no plan. We simply react. If Professor Easley is to be censured for not following the plan, then there ought to be a plan. Not that I think she should have blurted out the predictions like a seeress at Delphi. Certainly not without consultation. But how can we expect her to follow the playbook if there is no playbook?”

    Marie was now looking back at the slate.

    Captain Floden held up a hand. “Believe it or not, Congressman, I tend to agree with your complaints, though I don’t agree that they justify incitement to mutiny.” He turned to Marie. “Is that why you went ahead and told them, Marie? Because there was no plan?”

    “Not at all, Captain. I said what I said after careful, if quick, consideration, based on my judgment. I am an American citizen, even if America is lost in a distant future that will probably not happen at all. No one on Earth, either in the time we left or in this one, has the right to tell me I may not speak my mind. Some may, at some point, have the power to do so, but they still won’t have the right.”

    She turned to Congressman Wiley. “‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.’ My right to speak my mind is not yours to restrict, nor is my right to paint myself blue and worship sacred groves, should I choose to do so. Not yours, or all of Congress, or the captain and all his crew. And, Congressman, you have sworn an oath to defend that right of mine and all the others.”

    Amanda wanted to cheer. She looked around the room to see consternation on all the faces there. Then Captain Floden spoke up. “No one is trying to restrict your rights, Marie. We are simply asking for a bit of restraint in…”

    “Captain Floden, I am not impressed by sentences that contradict themselves. If you are trying to impose restraint, you’re trying to restrict. You can’t do the one without doing the other.” Marie took a deep breath. “Congressman Wiley is right that we need a plan, but the first thing we need to decide is are we to be free people or helots.”

    “Or whats?” Amanda asked.

    “The helots were the — no, still are — the slaves of the Spartans, though the status has probably changed by now, from outright slavery to something closer to serfdom. My point is that I am a free citizen, not a helot. I did not yell fire in a crowded theater, so I acted completely within my rights. I, at least, intend to remain a free citizen, and I expect my rights to be respected.”

    “We take your point,” Jane Carruthers said soothingly.

    “Yes, we do,” agreed Captain Floden. At least, he seemed to be agreeing, until he continued. “But we are in a ship at sea, under what must be considered emergency conditions.”

    “First of all, Captain, I don’t concede that we are in a state of emergency. The word is quite specific. It refers to an immediate threat, not to a generally dangerous situation. But even if we were, absent me shouting fire in that crowded theater or somehow interfering with the crew delivering instructions to other passengers, you would still have no right to restrict my speech.”

    Congressman Wiley held up a hand, like a student asking for attention. When Marie looked at him, he said, “I’m convinced, Professor. You had a perfect right to speak, whether it was wise or not. But having established that, what were you trying to accomplish?”

    “Two things, Congressman Wiley,” Marie said. “First, I was proving my claims, and all our claims at the same time. An event that happened in our history hadn’t yet happened in this one, and I could tell them about it. If it happens as I said it would, or even if it just starts to happen as I said it would, if for instance Peithon and Arrhidaeus are forced to resign, we have proved that we know at least the outline of their future. Second, if my warning does affect the situation, if, for instance, having gotten word of Antipater’s trick, Eurydice manages to foil it, we will know that we can change history.

    “But there was another reason. Antipater was a disaster as regent, and the generals, the successors to Alexander, were something of a disaster for the world. Almost any change would be a change for the better. There is a young woman with a mentally-challenged husband, and another with a two year old — or perhaps three by now — who, in the flow of time, would all die by murder. I was unwilling to sit by and let that happen without trying to change it.”

    Amanda looked around the room. There were considering expressions on several of the faces.

    Captain Floden gave a sharp nod. “I am Norwegian, but we also have those rights and I would be no happier to see them disappear than you would. We will be a free people, be assured of that. That still leaves two major questions. First, what are our plans? Second, how will we determine them? Congressman, I would hear your thoughts on the matter.”

    “Elections will have to be held. An emergency committee could be established on an interim basis, but elections will have to be held as soon as we can manage. After that, it will be up to the elected body to determine policy.”

    “I am leery of a majority trying to vote itself a free lunch,” Floden said. “I will not allow the expropriation of the Queen of the Sea by the passengers.”

    And they got down to business. The meeting went on for hours and not much was actually settled. What was established were a set of basic principles under which they would build their government.

    First, it was agreed that control of the Queen of the Sea would remain with the captain and crew of the Queen and control of the Reliance would remain with the captain and crew of the Reliance. However, it was also agreed, at least in principle, that all the transportees had a legitimate interest in both ships and their cargos. That, at the very least, the passengers could not be put off the ship without their consent.



    Second, it was established that a civil government based on the principles of representative democracy would be put in place. That the rights of individuals would be protected. Things like free speech and protection from unreasonable search and seizure, would be enshrined in the basic law of the new nation, as would the principle of equality before the law. The issue concerning the right to keep and bear arms was shelved for the moment, since Europeans and Americans had different traditions and attitudes on the question.

    Through it all, there was a snake sitting under the table, rattling its rattles and preparing to strike. The snake had two heads; the first was simply that the Queen of the Sea wasn’t big enough for her population. The second was more subtle. The population was too small to be viable.

    Biologically, the population was too small, and would be even if all of them were in their early twenties. The fact that well over half the women on board were past childbearing age made it even worse. Even among the men, a lot of the little swimmers were, nowadays, little waders.

    But even worse was the question of cultural viability. They didn’t have a culture to be viable. The passengers were from all over the USA and Canada, with a sprinkling from other parts of the first world. The crew was divided into officers — mostly from Western Europe — and crew — a majority of whom were from Asia and the Pacific Isles, with a sizeable representation from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. It wasn’t a naturally cohesive group and it wasn’t made up of volunteers. Tensions between ship’s complement and passengers were increasing, and so were tensions between staff and crew, officers and lower deck crew.

    About the only thing keeping it from blowing up was the threat of being murdered or enslaved by the pre-Christian primitives.



September 23

    Cleisthenes read the message, which was a set of letters. The Greek alphabet was used as both letters and as numbers. Three Greek letters could provide any number between one and nine hundred. Cleisthenes had a code book and what he got was a choice of seven hundred fifty-three phrases, and some number groups that indicated that the next numbers really were numbers. The code was nothing new, and variations on it were used from Carthage to Babylon. So, having received the message, he went to his tent and decoded it. Passage 354 read Peithon rode at the head of the army, and the next group instructed him to use only the first word.

    It went on like that till Cleisthenes had the whole message. Peithon forced resign. Antipater captured. Cyclops rescues. Through ruse. Seleucus bribe. Ship from future. Tell queen.

    Cleisthenes leaned back against his pillow on the bench at his work table and thought. Peithon and Arrhidaeus had been forced to resign, and had sent messages to Antipater telling him to hurry. And Seleucus was being very attentive to Eurydice. So was the message that he should bribe Seleucus? Or that One-eye would bribe Seleucus?

    Cleisthenes didn’t trust Seleucus to stay bribed. Seleucus had tried to short him on the payment for the wheat twice now. He would have a talk with Attalus. There was no way he could get in to see Eurydice, or even Roxane.



    Attalus was encamped next to the main camp, with a large contingent of guards to protect the silver coins he had gotten hold of, and merchants were a common sight in his camp. Cleisthenes made no real impression till he reached the tent of Attalus. “I need to see Attalus. I have important news of the giant ship.”

    The guard nodded and went into the tent, and Cleisthenes was ushered in.

    “Has it left the harbor at Alexandria?” Attalus asked quickly. The giant ship had been the talk of the army camp since the news arrived. And such news was of special concern for Attalus, because he had been Perdiccas’ naval commander and had kept control of the fleet. A fleet that was in serious jeopardy if a ship the size that was reported decided to threaten it. Such a ship could run over his fleet and leave it kindling, probably without taking any damage at all.

    “No, General. It still sits quietly in Alexandria harbor, buying grain and other foodstuffs. And selling the finest quality steel on Earth and other goods of like quality. What I have just learned, or rather had confirmed, is where it comes from.”

    “You’re saying it really is from the future?”

    “Yes. I just got a message from Egypt that Peithon and Arrhidaeus would be forced to resign.”

    “They already…Oh, I understand. They couldn’t have known that when they sent the message. So they are from the future, or they have some magi that can see at a great distance.”

    “That’s not all the message said. They report that Antipater will be captured by the army and that Antigonus will come to his rescue with the assistance of Seleucus.”

    They talked for a while. Attalus paid Cleisthenes a handsome bribe for the information, and to keep it to himself. “Also,” Attalus finished, “report any new information directly to me.”



    Once Cleisthenes was gone, Attalus went for a walk. He needed to think. He moved around the camp with his bodyguard, and saw Seleucus talking with Eurydice.

    Attalus had generally good relations with Eurydice, but she was wild. As he watched, it seemed like she was listening to Seleucus a bit too carefully. That decided him. He would tell Roxane, not Eurydice. He turned on his heel and headed across the camp.

    Triparadisus was a set of three “paradises,” one large hunting park, an orchard of olive and fig trees, and a smaller walled garden with flowers, fruits and vegetables. The hunting lodge was located on the side of the river that held the trees and the vegetables, with the actual hunting park across the river. Across the river was also the direction from which Antipater was expected to arrive. So, while there were scouts on the other side of the river, most of the army was on this side. Both queens and both kings were located in the hunting lodge, though Eurydice wandered the camp at will.

    Attalus climbed the three stone steps to the wooden porch of the hunting lodge and faced the guards. “I’m here to speak to Queen Roxane.”

    “I’ll check but I doubt the queen will want to be…”

    The guard trailed off, and Attalus handed him a large silver coin. “Please tell her it’s important.”

    Shortly thereafter, Attalus was let into the presence. The little emperor was wielding — sucking on — a toy sword. It was made of wood, but painted in bright colors.

    Roxane was sitting on a couch, leaning against one arm, eating a fig. “What can I do for you, Attalus?”

    “I have word of the ship, the Queen of the Sea.”

    Roxane sat up. “What news?”

    Attalus looked around at the guards and serving maids, then back at Roxane. But she just shook her head. “I couldn’t dismiss them if I wanted to, Attalus, and I have no reason to trust you. How long will I live if Eurydice becomes the head of this army?”

    “Longer than you might think. Eurydice may be impetuous, but she isn’t stupid.”

    “Then why are you here?”

    “Because I don’t trust Seleucus, and he’s too close to Eurydice right now.”

    Roxane gestured to a chair. “Have a seat then. What news from the ship? Is it really from the future as they say?”

    “Yes, and it carries some interesting information about what will happen.” Attalus took the offered seat and stopped talking. He was aware of the guards and not at all comfortable with their presence.



    “Kleitos,” Roxane said. “Just you.”

    A man in bronze breastplate, with a steel sword at his side, made a gesture. The servants and most of the guards moved out of easy earshot. Attalus looked at the man. He was one of Alexander’s veterans, going a bit gray now, and like most of them scarred from years of fighting. He was stocky, but well-muscled, with curly brown hair. There was a curl to his lips that Attalus didn’t much care for, like he expected to be lied to and wasn’t going to believe you no matter what you said. But there was nothing for it. Roxane needed to be told. “They report that Peithon and Arrhidaeus will be forced to resign.”

    There was a snort of laughter, then Kleitos said. “Excellent. Prove your validity as a seer by reporting what has already happened.”

    “From five hundred miles away,” Attalus said. “They couldn’t have known when they sent word.”

    “They couldn’t have,” Kleitos said, and Attalus started to stand in anger. Kleitos’ hand dropped to his sword.

    “Stop it!” Roxane hissed.

    Attalus got himself under control. He took a breath, then another. “I am not a liar, Kleitos.”

    “And I’m not a babe, to be taken with fables and stories of magic ships from the future.”

    “Neither am I, but there are too many reports from too many sources.”

    “No. They all come through the signal fires and all it would take would be some prankster with more silver than sense bribing some signal man.” Kleitos sneered.

    Suddenly Attalus relaxed, leaning back in his chair. “No. You’re wrong. You know that there are codes used to send the messages. The army has one, the merchants others, the civil government different codes. This latest report came through a commercial agent. A grain merchant. That means that it was encoded by his partner in Alexandria, before it was sent on signal fires. The prankster wouldn’t know those codes.”

    “Unless it’s Ptolemy, playing some deep game on us all.”

    Now it was Attalus’ turn to laugh. “Believe or don’t, Captain, it makes no difference to me.” Attalus turned back to Roxane. “Your Majesty, I believe that the ship is real, and I believe that the messages I have received about it are true. Your husband’s name lived on more than two thousand years into the future, and even details of the events following his death are recorded.” Attalus went on to repeat the news he had gotten from Cleisthenes, then said, “I believe its true. All of it, not just the parts confirmed.”

    “It’s too ridiculous,” Kleitos insisted, then held up a hand. “It’s not you I doubt, Attalus. It’s…the world, I guess. But I think we need more before we act, if we can act at all. If we can change what is already written in the stars, we ought to be very sure before we do so.”

    “Are you joining us, my captor?” Roxane asked, running a finger over the scroll work on the arm of the couch.

    “For now, Majesty. At least until I get a better offer.”

    “Then what do you recommend?” Attalus asked. And he couldn’t help but smile a little. Kleitos was, in his way, the quintessential soldier of Alexander the Great’s army, at least in these days after Alexander betrayed them all by dying. They didn’t believe in anything but their pay and their comrades — and sometimes not their comrades.

    “You said Antipater would be captured. Wait until that happens. Wait until he arrives and gets captured. That’s not something I would guess at happening. If it happens on schedule, then we might act.”

    “Act in what way?” Roxane asked. “Certainly, we can plan what to do if things fall out as the ship people say.”

    “That’s a very good question,” Kleitos said. “Would you rather be in Antipater’s hands or Eurydice’s?”

    “I know you don’t trust Eurydice, but will you trust me?” Attalus asked. “If I guarantee your safety, will you side with Eurydice against Antipater and Antigonus?”

    “I’ll have to think about it,” Roxane said.



September 24

    “More news,” Cleisthenes told Attalus, standing in the afternoon sun and looking out at the orchards. “Word of the resignations reached Alexandria. Ptolemy released the signal mirrors to Atum based on that word. It proved that the ship folk really were from the future. So he let Atum send me word to protect the queens and the kings.”

    “Ptolemy did that?” Attalus asked. “He wasn’t so loyal when he arranged the murder of my brother-in-law and my wife!”

    Cleisthenes was silent and Attalus took a few deep breaths of the fruit-scented air to get himself under control. He knew what the merchant wasn’t saying. Ptolemy was being invaded when he had done those things.

    But it left Attalus wondering what Ptolemy was up to. He was loyal to Alexander until he died, then Ptolemy was loyal to Ptolemy and no one else. He had been so close to trying for the crown after Alexander died that Attalus had been surprised when he didn’t. When he had stolen Alexander’s body on its way home to Macedonia, Attalus had been sure that Ptolemy was making his move. That was why Perdiccas had invaded Egypt.

    Then, when Ptolemy beat Perdiccas on the Nile and had him and Atalante killed, he had again passed on the regency. But, again, it was because there was enough anger in the army about him and the Macedonian troops he had killed in the fighting to make it chancy. Ptolemy wasn’t a coward, but he was a careful man. Perhaps too careful. Attalus was convinced that it was that caution, not any concern for Alexander’s family, that had persuaded Ptolemy to allow the message.

    Suddenly Attalus thought he understood. Ptolemy wanted the fight. He wanted the rest of the empire under the control of a teenaged girl, a deranged king, a weak widow, and an infant king. What better way to make it fail?

    Attalus started to smile. Ptolemy had finally made a mistake. He had misread the women. Roxane was cautious, possibly too cautious, but not weak-willed. And Eurydice, young though she was, could move armies with her words.

    Attalus hated Ptolemy almost as much as he hated Peithon, Arrhidaeus, and Seleucus. He would love to see the bastard humbled by a couple of women.

    “Go on,” he said to Cleisthenes. “Tell me everything.”



September 25

    The sun was just setting as Antipater reached the north side of the river. He leaned back in his saddle and rubbed his back. At the urgent request of those incompetents, Peithon and Arrhidaeus, he had ridden ahead of the bulk of his army with only an ile of cavalry accompanying him. Two hundred fifteen horsemen, including him, Plistarch, and Cassander, his oldest surviving son. His eldest son Iollas had died at the Nile, serving that incompetent bastard, Perdiccas.

    Antipater waved Cassander forward. “Camp the ile up near those trees, and have them prepare for the rest of the army.” He held up a hand, lest Cassander interrupt. “I know they’re tired. I don’t give a damn.”

    “Yes, Father,” Cassander said, starting to turn his horse.

    “And send me Plistarch,” Antipater said, then added loud enough for Cassander to hear: “At least he’s killed his boar.R#8221; Cassander tensed but rode back to the troops without commenting. Antipater snorted a laugh. Then he looked across the little wooden bridge. The river that ran through Triparadisus wasn’t much of one. Maybe ten feet across and four deep. But it would slow his horsemen, and when the rest of his army got here, it would slow them even more.

    Not that that would matter. He reach up and scratched his beard. Not for Antipater the fad of imitating Alexander’s clean shaven face. The boy had only done it because his beard had started out a scraggly thing and he’d been embarrassed. Then it had become part of the legend, and by the time he could have grown a proper beard, Alexander couldn’t back down. Now half his generals were imitating the shaved state. No, these traitorous dogs will come to heel as soon as they are shown a firm hand. That was why he wanted Plistarch with him, even though the boy wasn’t half as clever as Cassander. He had killed his boar and the soldiers would respect that.



    Plistarch rode up. “You wanted me, Father?”

    Antipater nodded, then shifted in the saddle. His butt hurt. “Get Matelus, Leonidas and Theron. We’re going to go have a talk with the army.”

    “Yes, Father,” Plistarch agreed excitedly.



    Eurydice watched the old man ride up with his third son. Plistarch wasn’t as creepy as Cassander. He was just a bully. Eurydice had known the whole family since she was a girl. She was standing on the front porch and the small group of horsemen escorting Antipater were let through by the army. She was almost surprised that Attalus hadn’t tried to block them, even though she had told him not to. The army was no longer a cohesive whole. It was fractured into separate groups under their own commanders and sub-commanders.

    Antipater climbed down off his horse and she could almost hear his bones creaking. Then he stomped up the stairs.

    “Well, you’ve made a mess of things, little girl, with your tantrums and complaining. But I’m here now, so you can behave yourself.” He didn’t say it quietly. It wasn’t quite a shout, but he was an old soldier with an old soldier’s ability to send his voice out to an army in the midst of a battle. There was no battle now, and at least a hundred men heard him.

    “You haven’t bowed, cousin. Perhaps your old bones make it difficult. Or have you forgotten courtesy in your dotage?” Eurydice said just as loudly.

    “Not too old to turn a spoiled brat of a girl over my knee!” This time Antipater did shout, and stepped forward as though to carry out his threat. One of her guards started forward, and she could have strangled the man. If old Antipater laid hands on her, it would be a fatal blunder. But the guard’s response reminded him of where they were, and he stopped.

    He turned around, ignoring Eurydice, and shouted to the army. “Is this what you’ve been brought to? Ignoring your lawful superiors and listening to the prattlings of a girl?”

    “Where’s our money?” came back from somewhere in the crowd of soldiers.

    “Money! What about your honor? You’re supposed to be the army of Macedonia. Have you forgotten your place?”

    “Have you forgotten our pay chests?” shouted another voice from the army. “Alexander promised us a talent of silver each. Where is your honor? You berate us, but give us no pay! You betray Alexander’s promise!”

    Eurydice kept her smile hidden. She knew that the soldier was right. Alexander had promised them a talent of silver each, back in Babylon. She hadn’t been there, but Roxane had. The generals might equivocate about it — and they all had, from Perdiccas on — but Roxane had been there, not three feet from Alexander, when he had promised the troops that bonus. And the troops weren’t going to forget it. Alexander might have gotten away with putting them off, but this old man wasn’t Alexander.

    “The money’s in Babylon. It will take time to bring it.”

    “Why didn’t you bring it with you?” came from the crowd. It was a reasonable enough question. There had been good opportunity for Antipater or Antigonus to send for the money the men were owed. Eurydice knew why they hadn’t too. It was standard practice to delay large payments as long as possible. It was part of keeping the treasury full. Even more important, people you owed money had a better reason to stay with you than people who had already been paid. That was a point she had made to the army on their trip back from Egypt, and Antipater was playing this wrong.

    It went on like that. In minutes, Antipater had gone from berating to pleading poverty, and the troops weren’t buying it. He tried another round of berating, harping on the foolishness of listening to a girl about matters that should be between men, and got back where’s our money? again.

    By then, Antipater was truly angry. “Get out of my way, you stupid puppy, before I have you whipped back to your kennel!” he shouted at a man on the steps.

    The man he said that to was twenty-eight and had been promoted to sub-commander by Alexander himself after a bit of gallantry in Persia. “Try it, you old bastard, and I’ll gut you like a pig!”

    Antipater carried a riding crop, and now he raised it to strike the man.

    That was it.

    Swords came out of their sheaths, and Eurydice watched as the blood drained from Antipater’s face. The old man had never believed, in his worst nightmare, that soldiers of Alexander might stand up to a Macedonian general.

    He should have known better, Eurydice thought. After all, they had acquiesced to the murder of Perdiccas.

    Antipater and his son, as well as the others with him, were taken into custody. Arrested by the army, for crimes against the army and not having the pay they were promised.

    Not all the army agreed. Seleucus’ faction opposed the arrest, and it almost came to blows until the men Attalus had paid came down on the side of the captors.



    Roxane watched the whole thing from inside the hunting lodge. She nodded. “All right, Kleitos. Go fetch my co-queen. Attalus was right.”

    Kleitos grunted sourly, but headed out onto the porch. In a few moments, he was back with Eurydice and her guards. Another guard was sent to bring Attalus, who had carefully stayed out of the direct fight. Attalus was popular with part of the army, but very unpopular with other parts of it.

    It took a few minutes for Attalus to get there, and Eurydice and Roxane waited in silence.

    “Seleucus is busy making sure that Antipater doesn’t suffer an unfortunate accident,” Attalus said as he entered.

    “That’s wise,” Eurydice said. “Murdering Antipater would enrage his army. Look at what happened when Eumenes killed Craterus. And that was in battle, not while he was a prisoner.”

    “Perhaps,” Roxane said, “but remember Eumenes is the son of a wagoneer. I think Seleucus may have another reason.”

    Eurydice looked at Roxane curiously, and with what Roxane recognized as suspicion mixed with more than a little resentment.

    “It’s Attalus’ story,” Roxane said. “I’ll let him tell it.”

    Eurydice turned her suspicious eyes on Attalus and he began to speak. He explained about the messages from the ship from the future, and waiting for the arrest of Antipater as confirmation of those predictions. “What happens next is that Antigonus gets here, comes across the river with just a small contingent, and keeps the army distracted by a long-winded speech while Antipater escapes. Seleucus is bribed with the satrapy of Babylon to make sure it works out that way. Then they get the army to go over to them and you, Roxane, Philip, and little Alexander go back into custody. I get away, but get defeated at Rhodes. Eventually, all four of you are murdered as the factions fight over you.”

    “I don’t believe it,” Eurydice said. “How do I know you aren’t making it all up?”

    “I didn’t believe it, either,” Roxane said. “Not that I trusted Seleucus, but it just seemed too weird to credit. However, we tested it. And it’s true.”

    “Send someone to watch Seleucus,” said Kleitos. “Find out what he’s saying to Antipater, and what Antipater is saying to him.”

    For a moment Eurydice looked at Kleitos as though the furniture had talked, but then she got a considering look. She called over one of her guards and whispered in his ear. He left.




September 27

    Eurydice listened to the report of the maid, and as she listened a fury grew in her heart. She had trusted Seleucus. He was an older man and had seemed to understand what she was going through with Philip, and what she was trying to do with the army and the regency. But he had been agreeing with Antipater, calling her a spoiled child and a flighty little girl, too stupid to be anything but a mattress, and not pretty enough for a good mattress.

    Now, she believed. Now, she believed every word Attalus said about the ship. “He shall not cross!”

    “What?” the maid asked. “Who shall not cross?”

    “Never mind, Damaris. You have done well.” Eurydice gave the girl a silver coin. The who was Antigonus One-eye, even now marching his army up to the river. She now understood that if Antigonus crossed that little creek, she would lose her bid for power. She couldn’t count on Seleucus.

    “Damaris, have my armor brought. And call my personal guards.” As the girl turned to go, Eurydice added one more command. “Quietly, Damaris. No fuss, no fanfare.”



    Two hours later, dressed in his armor, Antigonus One-eye rode toward the little bridge with a dozen picked men following him. And there across the bridge, came a girl on a large chestnut charger. It had to be Eurydice. What did the girl think she was doing?

    He reached the bridge and was met on the other side by twenty horsemen, with Eurydice in the lead, wearing full armor.

    “Clear the path, girl. I’ll speak to the army.”

    “Not unless you have their pay with you, you won’t!” shouted the girl. “We’re tired of false promises!”

    Ignoring her, Antigonus walked his horse onto the bridge. She did the same. The bridge was only ten feet wide. There was barely room for two horses to pass one another, if both were cooperating. And Eurydice wasn’t cooperating. She angled her horse so that he would have to go through her to go on. Antigonus was six foot two and heavy, all of it muscle. He had one eye, and in armor he made an impressive figure.

    Eurydice was sixteen years old and barely over five feet tall. She too wore armor, but the difference in size made her stand all the more impressive to the watchers. Also, her horse was just as big as his, and it wasn’t going to be pushed aside, not with her on its back. He would have to knock her down to move the horse and he could see the troops behind her. They would have given way before him, but with the tiny girl sitting her horse before them unmoved, they wouldn’t.

    He knew all that, and it just added to his frustration. Antigonus was not a man to be balked. He felt the anger building, but he didn’t try to control it. He reveled in it.

    “Get out of my way, you spoiled little whore!” he bellowed.

    She just sat there. Then she grinned at him like she had tricked him. Like she was winning.

    He lifted his mace and swung. She brought up her shield cat fast, but it made no difference. Antigonus was every bit as strong as he looked. His mace hit the shield and knocked her off her horse. There was a loud splash as Eurydice hit the water below the bridge.

    “Traitor!” shouted a voice. “He attacked my wife!” It was Philip, the idiot who mumbled numbers at state dinners, bellowing like he was Alexander. He even sounded like Alexander, at least a little bit. And he was running at Antigonus, having somehow escaped his caretakers.

    Then it was a melee at the bridge. Antigonus had just enough rationality left to order Philip captured before he was in the fight.

    With Eurydice in the water, no one knowing how badly injured, and his troops holding onto Philip, the army was in no mood to hear anything Antigonus might want to say.

    They wanted his blood.

    First were the horsemen who had been with Eurydice. They charged the bridge and when they couldn’t get across because Antigonus was in the way, they went into the creek and chopped at his horse’s legs. One of them reached down, grabbed Eurydice and pulled her back to their side of the creek. And suddenly Antigonus was going into the water, as his horse reared with a spear in its gut.



    “What’s happening?” Seleucus shouted. He had seen Antigonus approaching the river and moved to the porch to be there when Antigonus got there. The porch was where they would stand to address the army. Then Eurydice had ridden by, heading for the bridge in full armor and he realized the plan had gone awry. Now it sounded like a battle had broken out next to the bridge. “Fuck.” He turned and ran to where the troops were holding Antipater.

    Everything had gone all wrong, but in the confusion he could get Antipater back across the river to his army. And then the old man would owe him. He’d pay too. Seleucus would see to that.

    He reached the holding area and the guards were as distracted as he could hope. He grabbed a second horse, and told Antipater, “Come on! Now, if you want to live!”

    Antipater looked at his son who was looking scared, but still said, “Go, Father!”

    Antipater climbed up on the horse. By now the guards were noticing. He and Seleucus rode them down, the ones in the way, and headed for the creek.



    “Shoot!” shouted Attalus. He had a dozen bowmen waiting for just this. He had almost lost them when whatever it was had happened at the bridge, but he had managed to keep them here.

    Now, as the two riders came galloping at them, the bowmen fired. They hit the men, but the men were in armor and the wounds were shallow. One shot hit the horse Antipater rode, however. It went down and rolled over the old man.



    Antipater lay on the ground after the horse rolled off him, and tried to breathe. Blood bubbled out of his mouth as he exhaled. He couldn’t feel his legs, but his chest hurt and his head hurt.

    Then the darkness came and nothing hurt anymore.



    Seleucus started to turn his horse, saw the mess that was Antipater, and rode for his life. He saw Attalus and the bowmen. He started to turn toward them, then he saw Attalus’ face and fled.

    That man wanted him dead. He might have killed Antipater for politics, but he wanted Seleucus dead with a passion that Seleucus had rarely seen in years of bloody war.

    He turned his horse and sprinted for the river. He took two arrows before he got there and his horse died crossing the river, but he made it.



    Antigonus came up with a bellow and looked around. He was still angry, but he had spent years as a general of Alexander. He could think through rage.

    It was over.

    He wasn’t going to get across the river, and neither were the others. By now, the Silver Shields who had remained with Perdiccas would be forming on the far side of the river and nothing was going to cross the river in the face of those men. Bellowing his rage, he turned his back and made his muddy way out of the river on his side.

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