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The Alexander Inheritance: Chapter Seven

       Last updated: Thursday, June 8, 2017 21:00 EDT



September 28

    King Philip III of Macedonia was restrained. Wrapped in a blanket and tied up. He had been biting. He was also crying for Eurydice and thereby raising dissension in the ranks. Cassander seriously considered having the idiot strangled. Partly in revenge for the death of his father, but also because the screaming tantrum of the king wasn’t good for their legitimacy. Word was all over the camp that Antipater was dead and the army was in an ugly mood, half of it wanting to attack the Silver Shields across the river, and half of it wanting to go home to Macedonia.

    He turned back to the tent where Antigonus One-eye was drying off and Seleucus was having his wounds tended. Who would command his father’s army was anyone’s guess, but it wouldn’t be Cassander. No, never. Cassander, who did all the work and was from a good family. Never Cassander, because Cassander had never gone out in the woods by himself and killed a stupid boar. I don’t even like pork. Why should I kill a boar?

    In the tent, Antigonus was dry, proving that a good fire could dry out even a bale of wool, given enough time. Seleucus was not in such good shape. One of the arrows had gone into the muscle and lodged in the bone of his shoulder. They had pulled it out, but it was a barbed arrow and did more damage coming out than going in.

    “What shall we do with Philip? He won’t shut up about Eurydice.”

    “We give him what he wants,” Antigonus said. “If we have to, we give him back to them. I am not such a fool that I would kill the one true-blooded king of Macedonia. Even if he is an idiot and a bastard. And having him screaming against us is almost as bad. So we give Eurydice what we have to, to get her here to shut him up.”

    “Be careful, Antigonus,” Seleucus said. “You haven’t had to deal with her like I have. Eurydice is smart and a powerful speaker. You give her enough rope and she’s liable to hang us all.”

    “Maybe so. But what we give, we can take away again, once we get both kings in our hands.”

    “And what makes you think that the Silver Shields will let us have both kings? Or, for that matter, that they will let Eurydice leave?” Cassander asked.

    “Eurydice doesn’t matter that much. Not without Philip.” Antigonus frowned. “You probably have a point about the rest of it. But we can always claim that Philip is the legitimate king.”

    “That’s fine as far as it goes,” Seleucus said. “But if Roxane and Alexander are in Attalus’ hands, we can’t afford to let Philip have an accident. With that threat off the table, Eurydice is going to be even harder to handle.”

    “Just because Philip can’t have an accident,” Cassander said, “doesn’t mean Eurydice can’t.”

    “That won’t work,” Seleucus said angrily. “I’ve had to deal with her. She’s a wolf bitch, guarding Philip like he’s her pup. It was only the threat to him that held her in check.”

    “If we have to, that accident can be more than a threat.”

    “No, it can’t,” Antigonus said. “Not unless you want our ‘legitimate king’ crying for our heads on pikes.”

    “So who goes to talk to Attalus?” Cassander asked.

    “It can’t be me,” Seleucus said. “That bastard wants me dead and, at this point, I want him dead just as much.”

    “And I don’t think Eurydice is going to willingly come over to me.” Antigonus laughed. “Not after I dropped the bitch in the river.”

    “Well, that means me, then. But I want my father’s satrapy. I want Macedonia,” Cassander said.

    “What!” roared Seleucus, then winced as his sudden motion pained his wounds. “What makes you think you can hold Macedonia?”

    “I have an army,” Cassander said. “My father’s army. Your army is across the river, selling itself to Attalus.”

    “Actually, Cassander, I have your father’s army now that he’s gone. It will follow me. You have never commanded an army in the field, and they won’t follow you without your father to order them to. They would follow your idiot of a little brother first.”

    “If he’s still alive.”

    “Well, why don’t you go to the bridge and ask them?” said Seleucus.



    Eurydice had spent the night crying. The last thing she wanted was for Philip to be hurt. She had always liked him more than his glamorous half-brother Alexander. He was kind and gentle most of the time, if you treated him right. She knew when her mother arranged the marriage that Philip would be her responsibility. She didn’t want him hurt and now he was in the hands of Antigonus and they didn’t even have Antipater to trade for him.

    There was a knock on her door, and a guard called, “Cassander is on the bridge, asking to talk to Attalus.”

    Eurydice’s head came up, and she was all business. “I’ll be out in a minute.” Quickly she dried her eyes and went out in the main room. Roxane was already dressed and a nurse was watching little Alexander.

    “Shall we go see what he wants?” Roxane asked, and Eurydice nodded.

    Outside, they walked to the bridge, and there was Attalus. He had Plistarch with him. All of Antipater’s guard had been untouched, because Seleucus had only stolen one horse. Only he and Antipater rode into the ambush. Plistarch was looking red-eyed at the death of their father, but Cassander was dry-eyed, almost pleased-looking.

    “I’m relieved that you survived the treachery, brother,” Cassander said, oily smooth. “But how is it you weren’t with Father?”

    “There was only the one horse,” Plistarch said. Then, choking on the words, “I urged him to take it, but I didn’t know…”

    “Of course, you didn’t,” Cassander said, just a little too quickly. “How could you expect such treachery?” Now Cassander was looking at Attalus.

    “Treachery?” Attalus snorted. “What treachery? He tried to escape. Rode down his guards and got killed for his trouble.”

    “Escape? My father was the ranking general of the army. The natural successor to the regency. Who had the authority to arrest him?”

    “I did!” said Eurydice. “In the name of my husband. Roxane did, in the name of her son. And so did the army. He was no more than the satrap of Macedonia, not the regent. It is you and your armies who are in rebellion, not us.”

    “And who made you regent?” Cassander grated.

    “Perdiccas was the only legitimate regent. With him dead, I am my husband’s regent. And Roxane is Alexander’s. At least until the army declares another. You have ignored my husband’s wishes in waging war against his chosen regent, and winning a battle isn’t winning a war.”

    Roxane sniffed. “Murdering Perdiccas didn’t mean that Peithon and Arrhidaeus or your Seleucus should inherit his rank, any more than poisoning Alexander would make you Alexander.”

    Cassander turned white. The charge that he had poisoned Alexander the Great had never been advanced publicly, but it was still widespread in the army. “Are you accusing me –”

    “I made no accusations,” Roxane said. “There is no proof that I have seen, but there are rumors, disturbing rumors.”

    Cassander turned away from Roxane to look at Attalus. “I came for my brother.”

    “And what of my husband?” Eurydice shouted. She hadn’t meant to shout like that. She was both more angry and more frightened than she had realized.

    “He cries for you, and will not be quieted,” Cassander said. “Will you leave him alone without the comfort of his wife? What sort of regent is that?”

    “Bring him home!”



    “Why, certainly, we will. Home to Macedonia.”

    And there was the threat, all but open, all without saying anything that she could point to as a threat. Eurydice clamped her mouth shut on her rage.

    Roxane moved next to Eurydice and leaned in. Putting her mouth next to Eurydice’s ear, she said, “Perhaps it would be best if you went with them. That way each army has one king and neither army can afford to let their king die.”

    And there she was again. The wife of Alexander the Great, the woman who might not be as brave as Alexander, but was certainly as smart. The subtle bedroom adviser who had encouraged the marriages to Persian wives, whatever the rumors said about what happened later.

    “I will go to my husband.” Eurydice considered. Perhaps if Plistarch was held as hostage for her safety…Then she looked at Cassander. No safety there. “Let Plistarch go home to his family as well, Attalus. I ask this in the name of my husband, the king.”

    “And I affirm the request in the name of my son, the king,” Roxane added quickly.

    Attalus looked at Eurydice, then at Roxane, and after a moment smiled. In a voice that could be heard across battlefields, he proclaimed, “The king’s regents being in accord on this matter, I yield to their will.”

    Eurydice smiled, but that smile hid fear. Now the kings would be separated and there were those stories about Roxane. Stories that she had connived with Perdiccas to murder Alexander’s other wives. How hard would it be for her to send an assassin?

    “Come, sister,” Roxane said, for the first time using that familiar name. “Let’s go pack. You will not go to your husband and king empty-handed, with no good clothing.”



    Philip was held tight by the blanket and the ropes. He couldn’t move, and in strange way that made him less tense. But he was scared. Very, very scared. As scared as he had been when his father had wanted to marry him to that Persian girl. Alexander had stopped that and taken care of Philip. After Alexander died, Eurydice came and took care of him. He had to marry her too, but that wasn’t so bad. She knew him and knew he didn’t like being touched. He’d even been trying to let her touch him since they were married, but it always made him feel tense. Like he needed to get out of his skin. Now he was scared that they would hurt her. She understood and he needed someone who understood, because most people didn’t. And without that understanding, they would kill him.

    Philip had always known that he was different. Aristotle had seen what he could do, as well as what he couldn’t. Aristotle had shown Alexander, and after that Alexander looked after him and kept him close.

    He had to save Eurydice, but he didn’t know how. He could calculate the volume of a cube. He could figure out the weight of the world, if he had the tools. He could look at Aris, wandering the heavens and know where it would appear in a week or a year. But he couldn’t find the numbers to tell him how to save Eurydice.

    His thoughts ran in circles, and he couldn’t control where they went.



    “That was clever of you, Eurydice,” Roxane said as they mounted the steps. “They can’t –”

    “I heard you the first time,” Eurydice said, fear clearly making her angry. “But you could always send assassins to kill me.”

    “But I won’t. Because once you’re dead, I lose half my value.” It was true too. Not quite as true as Roxane tried to make it sound, but still true. If Eurydice and Philip were to die, Roxane would still have value as a symbol of royal authority. But as long as Eurydice was alive somewhere, losing her would lose Attalus all claim of legitimacy. “Attalus might want you dead, Eurydice. So might Olympias or Cleopatra. But I don’t. You, alive and hale, are the best hope for my safety and comfort.

    “We need a way to prove to one another that a message we receive is from the other. Something that Attalus or Antigonus can’t counterfeit. Because, you must realize, Antigonus and Cassander will want me dead.”

    Eurydice was looking at her in surprise. “Why should we want to contact each other? Fine, I am safer while you’re alive and you’re safer while I’m alive. But –”

    “To send warnings, of course. I am your best spy in Attalus’ army and you’re my best spy in Antigonus’ army.”

    “Fine. All we need now is a spy in Eumenes’.”

    “Cleopatra,” they both said together. They started packing. Roxane pulled out a set of gold bracelets that Alexander had given her in Babylon and slipped them to Eurydice. “In case of emergencies.”

    It wasn’t a talent of gold. Barely two pounds in a dozen bracelets, with uncut gems on them. But it was something, something that Eurydice could use to bribe a guard if she needed to.

    Suddenly Eurydice’s head came up. “I have it.” She went to a chest and pulled out several sheets of papyrus, at least twenty. Each sheet was blank on one side and had numbers and formula on the other. “They are Philip’s. Put anything you would write me on the back, and I will know it’s from you. When I write you, I will use Philip’s scribblings on the other side to prove it’s from me.”



    When Roxane and Eurydice came back outside, they found a syntagma, two hundred fifty-six men of the Silver Shields arrayed before the lodge. The force was divided in half. Roxane looked over at Kleitos and lifted an eyebrow.

    “They have appointed themselves your bodyguards,” Kleitos explained, and Roxane looked out at them. They were grizzled men, these soldiers who had fought for Philip II before Alexander, and for Alexander all the way from Macedonia to India and back. Hard men, who had grown old on campaign.


    “Well, half yours and little Alexander’s, half Eurydice and Philip’s.”

    “Who’s paying them?” Eurydice asked.

    “I’ll be paying the men guarding Roxane,” Attalus said. “Cassander will be paying the ones guarding Eurydice.”

    Eurydice and Roxane looked at each other and each gave a very small nod. It wasn’t that Attalus or Cassander were trustworthy, but Cassander would want Eurydice safe as long as Roxane lived and Attalus would keep Roxane safe as long as Eurydice lived. Everyone understood. The rules would change as soon as one of them died.



    For two more days the two armies sat on opposite banks of the little river. For two days, soldiers defected from each to the other. Arrhidaeus and Peithon both crossed to Antigonus’ side of the river on the twenty-seventh and almost a thousand men had followed them since. On the other hand, almost eight hundred of the men who had followed Antipater to this river crossed over to Attalus’ side.

    At this point, Attalus had seven thousand men in his army. Antigonus had five thousand in his, and Cassander had four thousand who were officially under the command of his little brother Plistarch, and at least half under the command of Arrhidaeus and Peithon. Seleucus had a couple of thousand of the men in Antigonus’ army who would follow him. Together they had a larger force than Attalus, but their command and control was weaker without the old general Antipater to hold them together.

    The armies separated. Attalus heading southwest to the coast and the island of Tyre, Antigonus and the rest heading north to face Eumenes.

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