|Andromache's Prize by Annabeth Leong|
When Briseis had belonged to noble Achilles, she had been better able to bear slavery. Now, though, the heroes had all sailed away home, leaving baser men to strip the carcass of Troy. Briseis had been given into the hands of cruel Calygdus, and nightly she suffered for his every shame and weakness. Until the night that Andromache and the women of Troy fell upon the Greek camp, slaying the men and releasing the women slaves, promising them freedom in the City of Women. Freedom, and love… (M/F, F/F)
Briseis bit back her retorts and kept her eyes on the ground. The gods had always hated her, and Calygdus was her latest proof. She had dared to attempt escape from the Achaians, but instead of finding a way to sail home, she found this oaf and his degradations.
“What’s all this?” The old man joined their group. He’d once been a warrior among the Achaians, but the departing kings had sailed away in their treasure-laden black ships, leaving him behind with the rest of the dross.
Briseis liked him. He called himself No Name, did not delight in telling endless stories of his past exploits, and participated in the looting and general mayhem as little as possible. He remained at the tents with the women often, and she talked with him sometimes. He favored grim pronouncements about the end of the world and the sad state of the race of men, but this echoed the thoughts in her own head. She didn’t mind.
“Stay to your knitting, old man,” Calygdus said, to a reward of guffaws.
“Andromache says she’s coming for your women? How can that be? Neoptolemus, son of god-like Achilles, made her his concubine during the sacking of Troy.” Confusion trembled on the old man’s lips. Despite her own humiliation, still trapped against the stinking balls of Calygdus, Briseis pitied No Name.
“Your stories are out of date, old man,” Calygdus sneered. “The whore shanked Achilles’ whelp in the thigh with his own weapon, dove out of his ship, and swam back to Troy, screaming about her dead son the whole way. Crazy bitch. What’s she looking for back here? She’d have been better off laying back and taking it like a good slut should.”
Briseis’ heart pounded. Achilles had spoken often of the nobility of Andromache, and there could be no better proof of it. Andromache must possess honor and dignity that Briseis could only imagine. “Maybe she didn’t want to leave her home,” Briseis whispered, too moved to remember to keep her mouth shut.
Calygdus dropped a thudding blow on her ear. “Don’t you have enough work for that mouth?” He lifted his tunic and pulled her under it more completely, yanking her hair until she opened her lips and took in one of his balls.
No Name’s confusion persisted. “Andromache says she’s coming for your women?”
“It’s not going to happen,” Calygdus laughed. “If Andromache tries anything, she’ll be warming my bed tonight. If she displeases me, perhaps I’ll send her to warm yours!”
The old man shook his head, not seeming to hear the bursts of laughter from the others. “She should be the wife of Neoptolemus, or ruling in Epirus beside Helenus. She should not be free.”
“No, the bitch should not be free! What do you think I’m trying to say?” Calygdus released his grip on Briseis to make shooing gestures at the old man. She seized the opportunity to get away from him.
Briseis leapt to her feet and ran to No Name’s side. “Old man,” she said kindly, taking his arm. “Let me show you back to your tent.”