Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 01
The Alexander Inheritance
Eric Flint, Gorg Huff, Paula Goodlett
“Eurydice.” Roxane bowed slightly in acknowledgement, but was careful not to bow too deeply. She couldn’t afford to let the fiery sixteen-year-old think she was in any way superior. Roxane was twenty-two and the mother of Alexander the Great’s heir. Her beauty had captivated Alexander, but without Alexander as protector, Roxane’s beauty was as much a danger as an asset. Tall, with rich lustrous black hair and eyes, a lush figure and a dancer’s grace, Roxane was a temptress whether she wanted to be or not. But she wasn’t Macedonian like Eurydice or Alexander’s sister Cleopatra. The generals wouldn’t be competing to marry Alexander’s beautiful widowâ€¦just to use her.
Eurydice, on the other hand, wasn’t beautiful at all. The teenager had a beak of a nose and an almost mannish face, full of sharp edges and hard features. But she had a presence that was potentially dangerous to both Roxane and her son. Eurydice was a powerful speaker, and a member of the dynasty, Philip II’s niece. Roxane was noble, but not Macedonian.
Eurydice had the bloodlines and knew it. She barely nodded in returning Roxane’s bow. “Will you support me against Antipater when he gets here to Triparadisus?” she asked bluntly.
“Why should I risk such a thing?” Roxane looked at Eurydice, ignoring the lamps that had been lit as the sun got low in the sky, paying no more attention to the polished wooden floor of the hunting lodge, the rich draperies that hung from the walls or the expensive rugs. She pointed to the figure watching them from the corner of the room, a little boy with black hair and eyes and the features of Alexander the Great already beginning to show in his face. “Will my son be safer with you as regent than Antipater?”
“I am the wife of Philip III Arrhidaeus, half-brother of Alexander.”
“He’s an idiot.”
“No, he’s not. He just thinks differently.”
“Drawing curving lines and numbers on paper doesn’t make him any less an idiot.” Roxane forced herself to stop. She didn’t actually dislike Philip. She resented that he was co-king with her son, who already understood things that Philip never would. And she was afraid of Eurydice, who, it seemed likely, would have Roxane and her son killed to pave her way to power.
“Never mind,” she said. “Whether he ‘just thinks differently’ or not, having you as regent is not something that fills my heart with peace.”
“And Antipater does?”
“Antipater is seventy-six years old and not long for this world. Also, my son doesn’t stand between him and the throne.”
“I wouldn’t count on that if I were you,” Eurydice insisted. “He has sons, after all. Think, Roxane. If we are allied, the army will listen to us.”
Eurydice tried to put on a wheedling tone, but Roxane didn’t believe it. Eurydice was good at commanding, and her speeches could move an army. Had, in fact, over the weeks that they had been traveling from the disastrous battle on the Nile. But the teenage firebrand didn’t wheedle well, especially women. In this case, she had focused on the short-term goal of stopping Antipater and assumed that Roxane would fail to see the danger she represented.
“And how long will our alliance last? You are as much a pawn of the generals as I, but were I to help you to become a queen, I would be sacrificed in an instant, and my son with me.”
“You’re a fool. Perdiccas is as dead as Alexander. The generals are all out for themselves. The empire is coming apart and bleeding its honor onto the ground as Alexander’s soldiers kill each other.”
“Eumenes maintains his loyalty to the Argead dynasty.”
“Eumenes is a Greek, not a Macedonian, or he’d be rebelling with the rest. And anyway, the army has already declared him outlaw. It will be made official once Antipater is regent. The generals won’t have any choice. Eumenes isn’t going to come riding out of the east to rescue you and little Alexander. Nor me and Philip. We’ll have to rescue ourselves.”
It would have been a good argument, Roxane thought, if I could trust Eurydice as far as I could throw her. And Eurydice is the wrestler, not me.
Life in the household of Alexander the Great had been a mixture of terror and exultation from the beginning. Terror because Alexander’s generals weren’t happy that he married a Bactrian. Exultation because Alexander was truly a great man, frightening and tempestuous, but a man of great and grand dreams. A man who, if his life hadn’t been cut short, might have melded all the peoples of the world into one people. A man who saw past the surface, who could even see civilization, or at least the potential for it, in a blond Gaul or a Roman.
But that dream was as dead as Alexander now, and the generals had turned into jackals.
And Eurydice was a hungry tigress, swishing her tail and ready to pounce.