A/N: I talk about a (very edulcorated) version of the Trojan War with my first years (11-12 y.o.), and it got me to buy and read this great novelisation of the life of Clytemnestra and Kilissa, her Cilician maid. Kilissa, is simply the adjective in the female form meaning Cilician. You guessed right, she was a captive from a former raid. The book is Kilissa by Marie-Bernadette Mars, and I recommend it :) (although, I doubt that it was translated, it's in French).
I have no idea why, but this got me thinking about "what if CC herself became "Kilissa" in another palace, where the king, with a rather smaller territory than Agamemnon, but administering it fairly would be Niles? Anyway, this is the product of a cut thumb and too much caffeine, also I blame Chinese food
Kilissa/Kali = CC
Nikias = Niles
Yes, these are real names, Kali is the name of a Hittite queen. Nikias the name of an Athenian general. The OS takes place at the peak of Hittite's and Mycenian's difficult relations (around 4000 years ago)
Please, tell me what you think about it. I like to get feedback on m experimentations.
She had been 13 when her life had changed for the first time.
Before, she had been a princess. She had run through wheat fields, heavy with the crops. She had played with her older brother, with her older sister. She had played with her nurse. She had learned from her mother the etiquette and conduct expected of the daughter of a Hittite governor. She had learned from her father about diplomacy, and wars, and trade. She had learned to govern her own house, the house of her husband, when she would marry.
Before, she was free. Before, she had been Kali. Before, she wore the name of a queen.
Now, she was only Kilissa. Kilissa the Silent. Kilissa the Captive. Kilissa.
Before, she lived in her father's palace. Before, she was a governor's daughter.
Now, she lived in someone else's. Now, she belonged to someone else.
For months after that day, Kilissa had nightmares.
She saw the day the banners had come. Other people, beyond the sea, coming to declare war on her father – or on his master, the Great King. She hadn't cared, she still didn't. The results- the results had been the same.
They had come on ships, black as a man's heart. Their sails banging with the wind. They had been quick, cutting the waves. The sky had been blue. The sun was shining, the birds were singing. It was summer. They had laid siege to the city: her father had refused their terms.
After a few months, they were betrayed by their allies. They cut off their food supply. Father wanted to negotiate. They refused his terms. They killed him there, right before the city gates. Father had talked. The other man had yelled. Father had begged. The other men had laughed. Father had yelled. The other man got offended. One glint in the sun. A cry. Blood everywhere. The body falling on the floor. Father was dead.
In a few days, they had managed to get into the city. What Kali had not understood, Kilissa did. Even in daylight, she could still see the bloodlust of the strangers. They had wanted death. They had wanted riches. They had wanted slaves.
First, they had taken her mother and her sister. Then, they had taken her screaming and kicking from her nurse. The old woman begging, crying. Kali had not understood that she would not see them again. Not yet. Not until she saw her brother be executed. She was given to one of the overlords, and shipped back to their land.
Afterwards, Kali became silent. She had nothing to say in these strange lands, with a language she could not understand, people she could barely see.
They erased everything from her, as was their custom. They stripped her of her name. She became Kilissa. They killed off her voice. She became Kilissa the Silent.
They gave her to the queen of one of the lords – he called himself "king". And she became her maid.
The days became weeks. The weeks became months. And every night, Kilissa relived her nightmare.
The days became weeks. The weeks became months. And every night, Kilissa chanted her name silently. Kali. Kali. Kali. Kali. Kali. Kali. Kali. …
The days became weeks. The weeks became months. And Kali never forgot.
The days became weeks. The weeks became months. And Kilissa learned their language. She learned their ways.
The days became weeks. The weeks became months. And Kali became Kilissa. She got used to the palace. She got used to be the queen's maid. She got used to being not quite a person.
Kali became Kilissa, and she almost forgot about them. It was too painful. So she tightened her jaw, and focused on her chore. Kilissa was silent. And so was she called. Kilissa was a maid. And so was she called.
She was 17, the second time her life changed. He came. Not to free her. Not to take her back home. He came back to his home. Her home, now. He was the son of the king, and he had finished his education at his father's host, Eurymedes. His name was Nikias. She called him Anax or Kyrios.
When he came back from his years away, Nikias first basked in the glow of the sun of his homeland. He looked at the crops, at the cattle, at the people toiling to make their living good. He looked at the palace. Touched its stones, warmed by the sun. He spoke with the guards. Exchanged pleasantries with anyone he met. Nikias was announced to his parents, and they were both happy to see him again.
He talked with his father of the lands, how they had thrived. Of trade, how the new routes secured them with new products. Of raids. Of war.
He talked with his mother of his sister, Iphianassa. How the now 9-year-old thrived in their home. How his mother was happy to see him back to the land. How they all needed him here.
He has his future laid out for him. One day, he would be king in the stones of his father's palace, like his father had been before him. And his grandfather. He would try to be a faire king. A good king. He would lead his men in battle, and bring the most of them back…
He was musing upon the future when he saw her. She was working silently with the laundry, Iphianassa with her. She showed her how to put the clothes out on the laundry string to dry. Her manner was gentle. She sometimes smiled at the little girl as one would smile to a sister. And she was beautiful. The most beautiful woman that he had ever seen. He wanted to go to them.
Her skin that had once been fair, was tanned by the labour under the sun. He hair had caught Helios' shine in it. It was pulled back from her face, and moving gently in the breeze. Her eyes had captures the colour of the sea. Her smile. Her smile could make his heart stop in his chest.
He was pulled to her, attracted to her in a way he never had before. He did not know was, he who had never looked thus at any captive.
When his duties permitted, Nikias would try to find her. First, to bask in her beauty. Then, to learn about her day. About the things that made him tick. Then, he wanted to know her, really know her. He wanted to learn her language, wanted to know her name – Kilissa had to be a pale copy of the real thing.
He tried to talk to her. At the beginning, his tongue always got stuck in his mouth every time he wanted to walk up to her. He decided it would begin with simple formalities. That, surely, he could do.
He had begun to follow her when she was with Iphianassa, or with the queen. He seemed to delight in noting her reactions to the slightest things. It made her wary.
She did not understand why he would want to. No one wanted to know Kilissa the Silent, and Kali was dead. There was nothing to learn about her. She was Kilissa. Of course, he was the first man to want to have something with her. She had learned that men found her beautiful. She had seen their stares. She had, fortunately, been aloof and strange enough in her silence to repel their advances. It was good. She had no wish to leave her "new family" now.
The queen was good to her. She had taken to her almost as a new daughter, and around her Kilissa's silence had become less icy. Gradually, the ghosts of former smiles appeared on her lips.
Iphianassa was sweet. She had quickly understood Kilissa without even having to talk to her. She took to her as an older sister. Respected her orders almost as much as her mother's.
She was not happy, but she was content. She hoped he would not destroy that.
Nikias gradually ingratiated himself in her small circle. There were the people she knew and liked from the slaves' room. There was the queen, who she did love. There was Iphianassa, who she did love. The was the king, she respected. Then, there was him.
Why did he have to say hello to her, or nod to her, or ask her how her day was? Why did it matter that he asked? She was Kilissa. She was no one. And she could not answer him properly. After the first few times, she had been confused. Then, as he kept on, she had become wary. As nothing untoward happened, she began to get annoyed. Then angry.
Why don't you leave me alone?!
Her raspy words took them both by surprise. She had talked. Shock, dismay, pain, embarrassment, anger. Her face was like the sea tempests that took the lives of so many, and he was powerless under her spell.
Shock gave way to tenderness. It made her wary and curious.
I would like to get to know you.
Gradually, they began to talk. Her uneasiness gave way to some assurance, and after a while, they could sometimes be found talking to each other. He learned about her parents, about her homeland, about her language. She learned about his lands, his training, his duties. He found out she was mischievous, used to be snobbish, did not know how to relate to people anymore now that she talked again. Iphianassa helped. His mother helped. He helped. She found out he was clever, creative, gentle, fierce, good.
Somewhere along the way, she fell in love with him.
A disease passed over the land. Many got sick. Many died. Those who did not looked at the sky and wondered why. Nikias' friend died. His sister died. His mother got sick, and barely survived. Kilissa nearly died. His father died. He never caught the disease.
He had worked with the men to cremate the corpses, and keep the contagion to a minimum. Although it was nor a woman's job, he and the men brought food, and medicine to the sick. He stood vigil at his sister's side, at his mother's side, at his father's side. He stood vigil at her side.
Still, after the disease died out, only a third of his people were still there. He became the king, but he had only a few advisors. Although loved by his people, too few of them were left. He would have crumbled under the grief if not for Kilissa. While his mother recovered, it was Kilissa and his old nurse who took care of her. At night, when the nightmares were too strong for him, she joined him in his room. The guard never questioned her. She was Kilissa. And she was devoted to the family.
At first, they always talked, Kilissa and Nikias. To distract each other, they recalled stories of their childhoods, of happier times. They learned to smile again during those times. She learned to laugh at his (gods-awful) jokes. He learned to love her laughter. She learned to call him Nikias. He learned her name.
She had chanted it under her breath, as she fell asleep.
Kali, Kali, Kali, Kali, Kali, Kali, …
Is that your name, Kali? His voice startled her, but his gentle tone spoke of wonder. Still, she looked at him, defiant.
And what if it is?
It is beautiful. It suits you. May I call you Kali? It was the name of a queen, he knew that. And she had always looked like one, he thought.
I-I … guess so… Nikias.
His smile was so bright it was nearly painful. Gods, how she loved him.
His mother got better. The lands started to heal. The people started to heal. He started to govern properly. He was fair. He was good. She loved him for that.
His nightmares receded. He still sought her out. She still sent to his rooms at night. They could not spend an entire day without being with each other.
One night that she had said something particularly witty, he kissed her bright smile away. He had acted out of impulse, and she had had to reassure him that it was not unwanted. She had wanted him for a long time. They kissed again.
Later, that night, they made love.
As with everything, he was gentle. Gentle with her heart, gentle with her love, gentle with her body. And even when he was energetic, she felt safe.
She was 19 the third time her life changed. He married her against the wishes of many, for whatever her good qualities, she was only a barbarian captive. She was 19, and her happiness was at its peak. She was 19 when his gods blessed their union.
Kali was 19, and Kilissa was happy. Kilissa was still there, but she was Kali again. And Nikias loved her, and she loved him. She was 19 and it was the first day of the rest of their lives. She was 19, and she was his queen.
A/N: I doubt he could actually have married his captive, and had legitimate children, but I wanted a happy ending for this :)