Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 20
Plistarch rode up. “You wanted me, Father?”
Antipater nodded, then shifted in the saddle. His butt hurt. “Get Matelus, Leonidas and Theron. We’re going to go have a talk with the army.”
“Yes, Father,” Plistarch agreed excitedly.
* * *
Eurydice watched the old man ride up with his third son. Plistarch wasn’t as creepy as Cassander. He was just a bully. Eurydice had known the whole family since she was a girl. She was standing on the front porch and the small group of horsemen escorting Antipater were let through by the army. She was almost surprised that Attalus hadn’t tried to block them, even though she had told him not to. The army was no longer a cohesive whole. It was fractured into separate groups under their own commanders and sub-commanders.
Antipater climbed down off his horse and she could almost hear his bones creaking. Then he stomped up the stairs.
“Well, you’ve made a mess of things, little girl, with your tantrums and complaining. But I’m here now, so you can behave yourself.” He didn’t say it quietly. It wasn’t quite a shout, but he was an old soldier with an old soldier’s ability to send his voice out to an army in the midst of a battle. There was no battle now, and at least a hundred men heard him.
“You haven’t bowed, cousin. Perhaps your old bones make it difficult. Or have you forgotten courtesy in your dotage?” Eurydice said just as loudly.
“Not too old to turn a spoiled brat of a girl over my knee!” This time Antipater did shout, and stepped forward as though to carry out his threat. One of her guards started forward, and she could have strangled the man. If old Antipater laid hands on her, it would be a fatal blunder. But the guard’s response reminded him of where they were, and he stopped.
He turned around, ignoring Eurydice, and shouted to the army. “Is this what you’ve been brought to? Ignoring your lawful superiors and listening to the prattlings of a girl?”
“Where’s our money?” came back from somewhere in the crowd of soldiers.
“Money! What about your honor? You’re supposed to be the army of Macedonia. Have you forgotten your place?”
“Have you forgotten our pay chests?” shouted another voice from the army. “Alexander promised us a talent of silver each. Where is your honor? You berate us, but give us no pay! You betray Alexander’s promise!”
Eurydice kept her smile hidden. She knew that the soldier was right. Alexander had promised them a talent of silver each, back in Babylon. She hadn’t been there, but Roxane had. The generals might equivocate about it — and they all had, from Perdiccas on — but Roxane had been there, not three feet from Alexander, when he had promised the troops that bonus. And the troops weren’t going to forget it. Alexander might have gotten away with putting them off, but this old man wasn’t Alexander.
“The money’s in Babylon. It will take time to bring it.”
“Why didn’t you bring it with you?” came from the crowd. It was a reasonable enough question. There had been good opportunity for Antipater or Antigonus to send for the money the men were owed. Eurydice knew why they hadn’t too. It was standard practice to delay large payments as long as possible. It was part of keeping the treasury full. Even more important, people you owed money had a better reason to stay with you than people who had already been paid. That was a point she had made to the army on their trip back from Egypt, and Antipater was playing this wrong.
It went on like that. In minutes, Antipater had gone from berating to pleading poverty, and the troops weren’t buying it. He tried another round of berating, harping on the foolishness of listening to a girl about matters that should be between men, and got back where’s our money? again.
By then, Antipater was truly angry. “Get out of my way, you stupid puppy, before I have you whipped back to your kennel!” he shouted at a man on the steps.
The man he said that to was twenty-eight and had been promoted to sub-commander by Alexander himself after a bit of gallantry in Persia. “Try it, you old bastard, and I’ll gut you like a pig!”
Antipater carried a riding crop, and now he raised it to strike the man.
That was it.
Swords came out of their sheaths, and Eurydice watched as the blood drained from Antipater’s face. The old man had never believed, in his worst nightmare, that soldiers of Alexander might stand up to a Macedonian general.
He should have known better, Eurydice thought. After all, they had acquiesced to the murder of Perdiccas.
Antipater and his son, as well as the others with him, were taken into custody. Arrested by the army, for crimes against the army and not having the pay they were promised.
Not all the army agreed. Seleucus’ faction opposed the arrest, and it almost came to blows until the men Attalus had paid came down on the side of the captors.
* * *
Roxane watched the whole thing from inside the hunting lodge. She nodded. “All right, Kleitos. Go fetch my co-queen. Attalus was right.”
Kleitos grunted sourly, but headed out onto the porch. In a few moments, he was back with Eurydice and her guards. Another guard was sent to bring Attalus, who had carefully stayed out of the direct fight. Attalus was popular with part of the army, but very unpopular with other parts of it.
It took a few minutes for Attalus to get there, and Eurydice and Roxane waited in silence.
“Seleucus is busy making sure that Antipater doesn’t suffer an unfortunate accident,” Attalus said as he entered.
“That’s wise,” Eurydice said. “Murdering Antipater would enrage his army. Look at what happened when Eumenes killed Craterus. And that was in battle, not while he was a prisoner.”
“Perhaps,” Roxane said, “but remember Eumenes is the son of a wagoneer. I think Seleucus may have another reason.”
Eurydice looked at Roxane curiously, and with what Roxane recognized as suspicion mixed with more than a little resentment.
“It’s Attalus’ story,” Roxane said. “I’ll let him tell it.”
Eurydice turned her suspicious eyes on Attalus and he began to speak. He explained about the messages from the ship from the future, and waiting for the arrest of Antipater as confirmation of those predictions. “What happens next is that Antigonus gets here, comes across the river with just a small contingent, and keeps the army distracted by a long-winded speech while Antipater escapes. Seleucus is bribed with the satrapy of Babylon to make sure it works out that way. Then they get the army to go over to them and you, Roxane, Philip, and little Alexander go back into custody. I get away, but get defeated at Rhodes. Eventually, all four of you are murdered as the factions fight over you.”
“I don’t believe it,” Eurydice said. “How do I know you aren’t making it all up?”
“I didn’t believe it, either,” Roxane said. “Not that I trusted Seleucus, but it just seemed too weird to credit. However, we tested it. And it’s true.”
“Send someone to watch Seleucus,” said Kleitos. “Find out what he’s saying to Antipater, and what Antipater is saying to him.”
For a moment Eurydice looked at Kleitos as though the furniture had talked, but then she got a considering look. She called over one of her guards and whispered in his ear. He left.