“My lord,” she said, as Agamemnon took the reins. Around them the tired yet triumphant army, what was left of the Mycenaean contingent, hurried their slaves and the trophies of war they carried openly now into procession behind the king’s chariot. Pitiful, really, compared to the riches of Troy before ten years of siege had emptied the coffers. Pathetic. She would have laughed, were it not for the dull thud of the axe that even now was being sharpened. She glanced up fearfully at the citadel that overlooked the Argolid Plain.
Agamemnon cried out in surprise. “She speaks!” He turned to his men. “Listen! The silent princess speaks!” He roared with laughter, and the others humoured him. They had little love for their great leader, but less for her. “Speak, Cassandra,” he said. “Tell us the future.”
For months she had kept her mouth shut. She had fought against her cruel fate for too long, had suffered such scorn and mockery, such vile injustice, and now her family was murdered and she herself a prize of war. She had kept her mouth shut even as the barbarous Achaean had forced himself on her, taking what she had denied all men, even the god Apollo.
“Why do you cry?” he had demanded, barely pausing in his conquest.
Why indeed, she wondered, when she had lived this moment a hundred times.
Months of silence, as the invaders sailed away from her home, the army splintering with haste to get to its many homes. Only for her the war continued, the Achaean king ravishing his Trojan princess every night, and one last vision of blood left unspoken.
Until now. Here at the base of the hills where the road began its final ascent to the citadel of Mycenae. Her last chance to speak and be heard.
“Death awaits you, my lord,” she said.
“Oh, indeed?” He flashed a grin towards his men. “I faced death on the battlefield, and won! My wife awaits me here, not death.”
She resisted the urge to sneer. She had heard the men muttering their complaints about their king’s valiant leadership, his wise and noble encouragement from far behind the battlefront. “Indeed, my lord. The queen awaits you, and beside her stands Aegisthus.”
The king roared with rage. “What! That cowardly wretch?” His temper cooled swiftly, and he shook his head with a laugh. “My wife would have nothing to do with that thief. He murdered my father! He would be dead, by my sword, had he not thrown himself from the walls and fled into the forest. How he survived…”
She could see that he was growing impatient, no longer amused by her prophesy. “Tonight you will bathe in blood,” she said, the dull thud of the axe loud now in her ears. In a whisper she added, “We both will.”
But her last whisper was lost in the commotion as he urged the horses forward. “Come, men!” he cried. “A grand feast awaits us.”