The chariot race ~ Chapter six

The chariot race ~ Chapter six

A Chapter by AliceBarnes
"

Aedia and Adonia attend a chariot race and her and Patroclus almost kiss...

"

Chapter six ~ In the time of Achilles

The gardens of Helios's house, Phthia, Greece, Summer 1190BC


The following day Aedia and Adonia were playing Nucklebones in the garden of her father's house, passing the time in the shade while the sun was at its peak. A gentle breeze kept her hair away from her eyes as Adonia managed to score twenty-one, while Aedia had been distracted by the songbirds bathing in the small stone birdbath that she had placed in the middle of the garden.


The rules of Nucklebones were simple; you held five goat or sheep nucklebones in your hand and threw them into the air, twisting your hand so that the back of it was facing the falling nucklebones, catching as many of them as you could in-between your fingers. How the nucklebones landed led to the number of points you scored, with the ear shaped side of the nuckle scoring you the most points. 

Sighing, Aedia took her turn, throwing her nucklebones in the air and twisting her hand to try and catch as many of them as possible. Growing more disappointed by the minute as Adonia's score grew and she got left behind. It was true she had never been good at Nucklebones...or losing. 


"Remind me why I agreed to play this with you" Aedia muttered, as Adonia smiled with glee, twisting a strand of her tight black curls around her finger as she noted down her score. Adonia had been playing Nucklebones since the moment she could walk, and as such had an advantage over Aedia, who had never taken the time to become good at the game, purely down to the fact that she was too impatient to practice and improve.


Living so far out of town did not help, for as a child Aedia had struggled to find friends to play with. While it was nice in the sense that it was peaceful to live in the countryside and that the house was bigger than the ones in town, like anything, it also had its drawbacks. 


"Aedia?!" From inside the house, her father's deep brash voice boomed over to her. Thinking that something had happened, Aedia was quick to pick herself up off of the ground and run into the house, lifting her pale pink sleeveless peplos gown up as to prevent herself from tripping on the fine fabric. Having made it to Helios's room, she sighed in relief that he had not fallen from the bed and hurt himself, this relief was only momentary as judging by his narrowed eyes, tensed lips, and furrowed eyebrows he was extremely angry. 


"Is it true that you turned Dymas down?" He asked, his voice now weak and hoarse as he struggled for breath, lying back into the pillows to conserve his energy. 

"It is" 


"Then you have failed me. I asked but one thing of you, and not even for my own benefit but for your own! If your mother were here now she would be so ashamed of you" Aedia bowed her head, her hands balled into fists as tears welled up unwillingly in her eyes, her vision blurring as a single teardrop slid down her cheek and fell onto the wooden floorboards. 


"I'm sorry-" 


"I do not want your apologies. Get out of my sight" Not sparing a final look in his direction, Aedia broke into a run, heading out of the house and into the blazing heat of the midday sun, furiously wiping the tears away from her cheeks. 


"Aedia?" Adonia's voice sounded from behind her, causing her to jump and turn to face her, looking at her hopelessly with red-rimmed eyes. At the sight of Aedia, Adonia tensed, before regaining herself and outstretching her arms, guiding Aedia into an embrace. Adonia knew that now would be the wrong time to ask Aedia what had happened, and so remained silent, gently stroking Aedia's hair in an attempt to comfort her and lessen her heart-wracking sobs. 


"How about we go into town to take your mind off of it? Hmm?" 


By the time the pair reached the town, Aedia's eyes were no longer red, and her sniffling had died down as they approached the large entrance archways. Walking side by side along the dusty paths, passing farmers, citizens and slaves as they went. The lunchtime market was in progress, resulting in an extremely busy town centre, bustling full of life, whether that be the livestock that were being sold or the numerous amounts of people going about their daily business. 


They passed the Theater, heading for the smaller, lesser-known streets to try and get away from the large crowds; passing men and women stood outside of their homes chatting with their neighbours, and nimble children who darted in and out of the building columns, giggling as they glanced over their shoulders at one another. 


A loud roar of cheering sounded from up ahead, causing Aedia's attention to turn to the Hippodrome; a large, impressive oblong shaped building that could sit up to 20,000 people. After sharing a confused glance, Aedia and Adonia headed inside to investigate, moving under the towering archway, past two bronze horse statues, brightly shining like beacons in the sun and into the seating area. 


In the arena below was a chariot race taking place, where four chariots flew around the arena, sand being thrown into the air in the process, and the men's tunics billowing behind them as they each tried to get their horses to run the fastest. From the bronze carvings of the dolphins placed in the middle of the arena that signified the number of laps that had been completed; they were on their second to last lap. 


A resounding crack echoed throughout the Hippodrome, and the crowd around Aedia and Adonia cheered with glee as the horses and driver were hauled out of the arena by slaves, as they ran across the arena to the gates to avoid the flurry of horses as they cantered around the corner, now on their last lap. 


With only three Chariots left, there was more room for the remaining racers. The chariots were now side by side, and it was hard to tell who would win, their horses snorting, their ears back, and tails whipping through the air as they turned the final corner, nearing the finish line. 


There was one driver who seemed to have been holding his horses back to save their energy up until now, and although he had when Aedia had first arrived, seemed as though he was going to lose, now with his horses not being as tired as the rest, he urged them into a gallop, picking up momentum and overtaking the other racers. He had won. The crowd erupted with applause as the horses were slowed to a stop, the driver's helmet removed. 


As the winning man turned to face the crowd, his helmet resting under his arm, a beaming smile on his face, his light brown hair ruffled from the helmet. The moment he had fully turned to face Aedia's side of the Hippodrome, her breath caught in her throat as she let out an audible gasp, her eyes fixed on his handsome features. The winner of the race was in fact Patroclus. 


A smile on her face, she too began to clap for him as he was congratulated by the other chariot racers, who crowded around him, each taking their turns to speak to him. After one last look at the cheering crowds, he and the other chariot racers exited the arena, heading through the gates and into the changing rooms. As the crowd began to disperse, Aedia and Adonia also began to leave, except Aedia had no intention of leaving, wishing to speak to Patroclus as she had not seen him since she had been for dinner at his house. 


Slipping away from the crowds, she managed to climb through the railings, lowering herself onto the sand before trudging through it and making for the changing rooms, doing her best to ignore the grains of sand that had slipped into her sandals and rubbed against her feet. Her plan had been to wait for him to come out and talk to him then, but after hearing his laughter drift over to her from inside the changing rooms she hesitantly stepped into the dark tunnel. 


Running a hand along the cold stone walls, she continued on further into the tunnel until she approached a small changing room. Thankfully, either side of the entrance to the changing room there was a pillar, and Aedia took full advantage of them, quickly hiding behind one of them before the men could see her. Instantly, she regretted her decision to not wait outside for Patroclus as their voices now became clear and she caught onto the conversation.


"Do you realize how many girls are going to be after you now? You can have your pick!" The men laughed, as the sounds of them dressing continued. 


"I won't be needing to pick from them. I already have" Patroclus's voice echoed over to Aedia as she grew more interested, daring to peak from around the pillar and into the changing room. The state she found them in made her cheeks turn a rosy red. While the other two were nearly dressed both pulling their sandals on, Patroclus stood exposed, although he thankfully was stood with his back to her. His back muscles rippled as he brought his deep blue sleeveless tunic over his head, allowing Aedia to catch a glimpse of his taut stomach before that too was covered by the tunic. 


"And who is the lucky lady?" The man beside Patroclus asked, a smirk on his lips as he leaned on the pillar beside him. Aedia inched closer, moving as close as she could to hear what his response would be, practically begging him to say her name. Before he could give his answer she slipped on the fabric of her dress letting out a scream she managed to stop herself from falling by grabbing onto the pillar. Looking up from the ground where she would have fallen, Aedia's eyes rose to meet the shocked expressions of the men, each of whose attention was now completely on her. 


Aedia didn't need to look in a mirror to know that her cheeks were now a blazing red, her lips parted as she went to speak, trying to make some excuse as to why she was there but her mind went blank. Focused on the bold blue eyes that belonged to Patroclus that were currently intently fixed on hers. Pushing herself away from the pillar, she turned, lifting her dress and running as fast her legs would allow her back out into the arena, and through the main gates, out under the archway. 


"Aedia?!" She heard him call her name but kept running hoping that if she could just take a few more steps she would be lost among the crowd assembled outside, still filing out of the Hippodrome having watched the Chariot race. 


"Aedia, wait!" Unfortunately for her, he was bigger, stronger and faster than she was, all adding up to him being able to catch up with her before she could escape. In the blink of an eye, he had her wrist in his grip, causing her to whirl around to face him. Her eyes went to his hand wrapped around her wrist before flicking back up to meet his eyes, her cheeks burning up once more. 


"I'm so sorry, I only wanted to congratulate you on your win in the race. I didn't mean to-" She cut herself short, bringing a hand to her forehead in embarrassment. She didn't realise that Patroclus had let go of her wrist until she began to feel the loss of his touch. 


"You don't realize how beautiful you look when you get all flustered.." He trailed off as she met his steady gaze before quickly averting her gaze to her sandaled feet. Moving closer to her, he gently guided her chin up until she lifted her eyes to look at him. 


"I suppose I should thank you" He sniggered, an amused look in his eyes as his lips turned up into a smile. Almost automatically, Aedia found herself inching closer to him, her eyes moving between his eyes and lips, all at once his smile fell as he too started to move closer to her. Butterflies awoke within her stomach as she imagined what it was going to feel like to kiss him. 


"Aedia!" From behind them, Adonia ran over as Aedia quickly pulled herself away from Patroclus, ignoring his disgruntled moan. 


"I have been looking everywhere for you, where did you go?" At that, Aedia briefly glanced over her shoulder to Patroclus who smirked but seemed to respect that she did not want to tell Adonia exactly where she had been. Upon looking to him for help, Patroclus stepped forward, coming to a stop beside Aedia.


"Aedia came to congratulate me on my win. I'm sorry if I held her up" Discreetly sighing in relief, Aedia tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear, dusting the sand off of her gown. From in front of her, a small knowing smile appeared on Adonia's lips, her dark eyes moving between Aedia and Patroclus.


"Oh, well I just wanted to make sure she was alright. How about I go back to the house and you and Aedia spend as long as you want together?" 


Shortly after Adonia had left her and Patroclus wandered along the streets of the town, chatting happily and enjoying each other's company, their hands brushing ever so lightly as they walked side by side along the dusty paths, nearing the town centre and the Theatre. Aedia admired the beauty of the Theater building, with its large arches and towering walls. 


"Remember when you took me to see that Tragedy here?" A big smile on her face, she turned and looked at Patroclus, finding him already looking at her, a soft smile tugging at his lips and a kind look in his eye. 


"I do. I enjoyed it. That was one of the best nights of my life" Aedia's smile fell in shock as she found herself getting lost in his eyes. 


"Really?" Before he could respond his eyes narrowed as he seemed to spot someone among the crowd of people. Spinning on the balls of her feet so that she could see where he was looking, her eyes fell on Dymas. Apparently, Dymas had also managed to catch sight of the pair of them for he started towards them, determination written all over his face. Aedia quickly turned back to Patroclus, not wanting to talk to Dymas but unsure of what they would do.


"Is that who your father wishes for you to marry?" Biting the inside of her cheek she nodded yes, a worried expression on her face. Suddenly, Patroclus grabbed her hand and started running with her away from Dymas, weaving through the crowds of people, and ever so often glancing back over his shoulder to make sure that Aedia was alright. He led her out of town, making for the hills, slowing to a walk as they began to climb the hill up to the ruins but keeping a firm grip on her hand. 


Panting slightly from the hard walk up the steep and rocky hill, they took a seat underneath the olive tree beside the temple ruins. Only then did Patroclus let go of Aedia's hand to pick up a wooden water bottle from beneath the shade of the tree. 

Handing it to Aedia who gratefully accepted it, having been out in the heat for so long she took long swigs of the water. It was not cold but it was refreshing enough to quench her thirst at least. 


After handing the water bottle back to Patroclus, she looked past him to admire the old temple ruins, the sandstone was covered with ivy and chipped in places but still looked as magnificent as the day it was built. 


"Do you train here often?" She spoke up after a few moment of silence had passed between them. 


"Everyday. Achilles tells me that even if I miss one day of training it will affect my performance on the battlefield" 


"You...You intend to go to battle?" Aedia asked, her eyes narrowed and eyebrows furrowed. Even with her father being an ex-soldier she still did not see war as glorious, but as a terrible loss of life that was often over something as small as a scrap of land or an argument between two kings. War was old men talking and young men dying. 


"I hope to be as good of a fighter as Achilles one day..." 




© 2017 AliceBarnes



Author's Note

AliceBarnes
I hope you enjoyed reading this. I tried to research as much as I could into Chariot racing in Ancient Greece and to make this chapter more detailed to give you a better view of Aedia's surroundings. Thank you for reading and please if you can leave a review, it would be much appreciated.

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register




Featured Review

Another interrupted kiss! Yay! I like the way you ended the chapter, with a complete change of mood and something for us to think about and worry over. I have not gotten to reading 7 and 8 yet, so I don't know how you will handle future references to Aidia's pacifist attitude. But I personally would like, in the future, a more detailed description of her feelings and thoughts about war and how they contrast with the rest of the popular culture.

The place where they almost kiss... I am not sure I would be imagining a kiss when a kiss was impending, only moments away. Personally, I'd probably be lost in making eye contact and feeling close, immersed in my senses not thinking anything at all.

The place where Adonia finds them and then suggests she go home without Aedia... I feel like Adonia would be a bit more discreet in suggesting that Aedia stay. More like, giving some sort of reason to excuse herself, rather than making it a bald suggestion. Adonia just seems like she would be more subtle. To me. Of course this is all just my opinion.

Your writing is so clean and clear of technical problems, very impressive. I only found one technical mistake, here:

"weaving through the crowds of people, and EVER so often glancing back over his shoulder to make sure that Aedia was alright."

I think you meant EVERY not EVER.

Posted 2 Weeks Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

AliceBarnes

2 Weeks Ago

I was so happy when I saw that you had reviewed! It is so kind of you to take the time to read and r.. read more



Reviews

Another interrupted kiss! Yay! I like the way you ended the chapter, with a complete change of mood and something for us to think about and worry over. I have not gotten to reading 7 and 8 yet, so I don't know how you will handle future references to Aidia's pacifist attitude. But I personally would like, in the future, a more detailed description of her feelings and thoughts about war and how they contrast with the rest of the popular culture.

The place where they almost kiss... I am not sure I would be imagining a kiss when a kiss was impending, only moments away. Personally, I'd probably be lost in making eye contact and feeling close, immersed in my senses not thinking anything at all.

The place where Adonia finds them and then suggests she go home without Aedia... I feel like Adonia would be a bit more discreet in suggesting that Aedia stay. More like, giving some sort of reason to excuse herself, rather than making it a bald suggestion. Adonia just seems like she would be more subtle. To me. Of course this is all just my opinion.

Your writing is so clean and clear of technical problems, very impressive. I only found one technical mistake, here:

"weaving through the crowds of people, and EVER so often glancing back over his shoulder to make sure that Aedia was alright."

I think you meant EVERY not EVER.

Posted 2 Weeks Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

AliceBarnes

2 Weeks Ago

I was so happy when I saw that you had reviewed! It is so kind of you to take the time to read and r.. read more

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

61 Views
1 Review
Added on October 11, 2017
Last Updated on October 11, 2017


Author

AliceBarnes
AliceBarnes

Bristol, South west, United Kingdom



About
I love reading, daydreaming, horse riding and going for long walks. Frosty spring mornings and cool autumn evenings are my favorite. I love to write as I find it allows me to escape modern life and ti.. more..

Writing