Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 22
King Philip III of Macedonia was restrained. Wrapped in a blanket and tied up. He had been biting. He was also crying for Eurydice and thereby raising dissension in the ranks. Cassander seriously considered having the idiot strangled. Partly in revenge for the death of his father, but also because the screaming tantrum of the king wasn’t good for their legitimacy. Word was all over the camp that Antipater was dead and the army was in an ugly mood, half of it wanting to attack the Silver Shields across the river, and half of it wanting to go home to Macedonia.
He turned back to the tent where Antigonus One-eye was drying off and Seleucus was having his wounds tended. Who would command his father’s army was anyone’s guess, but it wouldn’t be Cassander. No, never. Cassander, who did all the work and was from a good family. Never Cassander, because Cassander had never gone out in the woods by himself and killed a stupid boar. I don’t even like pork. Why should I kill a boar?
In the tent, Antigonus was dry, proving that a good fire could dry out even a bale of wool, given enough time. Seleucus was not in such good shape. One of the arrows had gone into the muscle and lodged in the bone of his shoulder. They had pulled it out, but it was a barbed arrow and did more damage coming out than going in.
“What shall we do with Philip? He won’t shut up about Eurydice.”
“We give him what he wants,” Antigonus said. “If we have to, we give him back to them. I am not such a fool that I would kill the one true-blooded king of Macedonia. Even if he is an idiot and a bastard. And having him screaming against us is almost as bad. So we give Eurydice what we have to, to get her here to shut him up.”
“Be careful, Antigonus,” Seleucus said. “You haven’t had to deal with her like I have. Eurydice is smart and a powerful speaker. You give her enough rope and she’s liable to hang us all.”
“Maybe so. But what we give, we can take away again, once we get both kings in our hands.”
“And what makes you think that the Silver Shields will let us have both kings? Or, for that matter, that they will let Eurydice leave?” Cassander asked.
“Eurydice doesn’t matter that much. Not without Philip.” Antigonus frowned. “You probably have a point about the rest of it. But we can always claim that Philip is the legitimate king.”
“That’s fine as far as it goes,” Seleucus said. “But if Roxane and Alexander are in Attalus’ hands, we can’t afford to let Philip have an accident. With that threat off the table, Eurydice is going to be even harder to handle.”
“Just because Philip can’t have an accident,” Cassander said, “doesn’t mean Eurydice can’t.”
“That won’t work,” Seleucus said angrily. “I’ve had to deal with her. She’s a wolf bitch, guarding Philip like he’s her pup. It was only the threat to him that held her in check.”
“If we have to, that accident can be more than a threat.”
“No, it can’t,” Antigonus said. “Not unless you want our ‘legitimate king’ crying for our heads on pikes.”
“So who goes to talk to Attalus?” Cassander asked.
“It can’t be me,” Seleucus said. “That bastard wants me dead and, at this point, I want him dead just as much.”
“And I don’t think Eurydice is going to willingly come over to me.” Antigonus laughed. “Not after I dropped the bitch in the river.”
“Well, that means me, then. But I want my father’s satrapy. I want Macedonia,” Cassander said.
“What!” roared Seleucus, then winced as his sudden motion pained his wounds. “What makes you think you can hold Macedonia?”
“I have an army,” Cassander said. “My father’s army. Your army is across the river, selling itself to Attalus.”
“Actually, Cassander, I have your father’s army now that he’s gone. It will follow me. You have never commanded an army in the field, and they won’t follow you without your father to order them to. They would follow your idiot of a little brother first.”
“If he’s still alive.”
“Well, why don’t you go to the bridge and ask them?” said Seleucus.
* * *
Eurydice had spent the night crying. The last thing she wanted was for Philip to be hurt. She had always liked him more than his glamorous half-brother Alexander. He was kind and gentle most of the time, if you treated him right. She knew when her mother arranged the marriage that Philip would be her responsibility. She didn’t want him hurt and now he was in the hands of Antigonus and they didn’t even have Antipater to trade for him.
There was a knock on her door, and a guard called, “Cassander is on the bridge, asking to talk to Attalus.”
Eurydice’s head came up, and she was all business. “I’ll be out in a minute.” Quickly she dried her eyes and went out in the main room. Roxane was already dressed and a nurse was watching little Alexander.
“Shall we go see what he wants?” Roxane asked, and Eurydice nodded.
Outside, they walked to the bridge, and there was Attalus. He had Plistarch with him. All of Antipater’s guard had been untouched, because Seleucus had only stolen one horse. Only he and Antipater rode into the ambush. Plistarch was looking red-eyed at the death of their father, but Cassander was dry-eyed, almost pleased-looking.
“I’m relieved that you survived the treachery, brother,” Cassander said, oily smooth. “But how is it you weren’t with Father?”
“There was only the one horse,” Plistarch said. Then, choking on the words, “I urged him to take it, but I didn’t know…”
“Of course, you didn’t,” Cassander said, just a little too quickly. “How could you expect such treachery?” Now Cassander was looking at Attalus.
“Treachery?” Attalus snorted. “What treachery? He tried to escape. Rode down his guards and got killed for his trouble.”
“Escape? My father was the ranking general of the army. The natural successor to the regency. Who had the authority to arrest him?”
“I did!” said Eurydice. “In the name of my husband. Roxane did, in the name of her son. And so did the army. He was no more than the satrap of Macedonia, not the regent. It is you and your armies who are in rebellion, not us.”
“And who made you regent?” Cassander grated.
“Perdiccas was the only legitimate regent. With him dead, I am my husband’s regent. And Roxane is Alexander’s. At least until the army declares another. You have ignored my husband’s wishes in waging war against his chosen regent, and winning a battle isn’t winning a war.”
Roxane sniffed. “Murdering Perdiccas didn’t mean that Peithon and Arrhidaeus or your Seleucus should inherit his rank, any more than poisoning Alexander would make you Alexander.”
Cassander turned white. The charge that he had poisoned Alexander the Great had never been advanced publicly, but it was still widespread in the army. “Are you accusing me –”
“I made no accusations,” Roxane said. “There is no proof that I have seen, but there are rumors, disturbing rumors.”
Cassander turned away from Roxane to look at Attalus. “I came for my brother.”
“And what of my husband?” Eurydice shouted. She hadn’t meant to shout like that. She was both more angry and more frightened than she had realized.
“He cries for you, and will not be quieted,” Cassander said. “Will you leave him alone without the comfort of his wife? What sort of regent is that?”
“Bring him home!”