The Orichalcum Bride
Elpis tossed the scroll upon the floor next to her brother Theron. “A treaty? A marriage to Kallistrate, daughter of our enemy?”
“Her dowry is the last orichalcum mine of Atlantis. Do you know what we can do with that wealth?”
“What difference does it make what her dowry is? You are married already, and our brother is dead.”
“So you marry her. It’s not like she’s expecting romance.”
She looked down at him, but he had gone back to studying his maps, content to have disposed of the matter. Her lips pinched together, but she said nothing. He would find, too late, that if she took Kallistrate as a bride, Elpis would have the power that went with that orichalcum.
The wedding cortege arrived, as gaudy a display as any their city-state could produce, banners flaring and trumpets blaring, courtiers in costume, profusions of petals for the princess to place her feet upon. The bride herself rode at the end of the procession, face hidden within a helmet, her armor traced with the prized metal that only she controlled.
Elpis felt a flame within her. All this would be hers. Her brother saw only the riches. Kallistrate’s home saw only the prospect of peace.
Only Elpis saw both — peace with her in control of both city-states, and the riches to bring that about. It helped that Kallistrate seemed comely, but it was not necessary. Elpis stepped forward to meet her bride.
Theron had been right about one thing. Kallistrate didn’t expect romance, and when Elpis retired with her to their bedchamber, Kallistrate strode away to stare out an archway at the hills beyond.
Elpis stood behind her, not touching. “It is not exile. You can return.” Would return, in fact, with Elpis at her side, bringing peace at last. And then? But one home at a time. “You are not lost.”
“No, never lost.”
Was that regret?
Before Elpis could ask, Kallistrate turned, and the makhaira in her hand left no questions. She held the blade even with Elpis’s belly. “Are you with me or against me?”
“This . . . was not how I imagined this going.”
“I’m certain it was not. My army enters at dawn. Will you surrender so there can be peace, or am I to be a widow?”
If Elpis had not expected this, Theron would be even more surprised. And now she would not have to be the one to banish him.
She bowed halfway in submission. “I surrender, my wife.” Righting herself, she asked, “Is the orichalcum mine not real, then?”
Teeth flashed in Kallistrate’s face. “It’s real. It just happens to be underneath your palace — which is now mine.”
— The End —
My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (not that I’m managing weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.
The inspiration for this week’s flash came from Chuck Wendig’s Roll for Your Title blog post.