Sunday Sampler: Requiem for Athens by David S. Alkek
September 20, 2015
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Sunday’s Sampler is an excerpt from Requiem for Athens, by David S. Alkek. It is a tale of love, sex, and conspiracy during the political wars and conflicts that rocked ancient Greece.
As one reviewer said: Although historical fiction, all events within REQUIEM FOR ATHENS seem plausible. I felt throughout that I was watching through a crack in time – witnessing events as a carefree observer.
Immersed in the turbulent politics and fratricidal wars of Ancient Greece, Phidias is wounded in battle and joins Aristotle as a student of Plato. A witness to epic battles, bloody assassinations, and twisted conspiracies, he struggles to guide the young conqueror through his personal turmoil.
After giving birth to the great library of Alexandria, Phidias with perseverance finally returns to Athens to fulfill his destiny and find a lost love. This epic tale of love and war, sex and murder deftly captures the setting in Ancient Greece to stunning effect.
On the day of the actual ceremony, Philip prepared to enter the theater, crowded with his generals, nobles of both kingdoms, and representatives of many cities. He wore a new purple robe embroidered with gold thread. A cleverly crafted heavy gold chain hung from his neck and a new crown set with a large red jewel adorned his brow. He stroked his beard and inhaled the expensive oils that anointed it. Before he started down the covered passageway to the orchestra, he turned and looked around him.
He said to his bodyguard, “Do not walk ahead of me or surround me as I enter the amphitheater. I don’t want everyone to think I’m afraid to go to my sister’s wedding was without a guard.” He smiled and the officer of the guard nodded to his men, who parted away from the king.
Philip walked down the covered walkway and noticed Pausanias. He remembered the guard who would been abused by his fellows and nodded to him. Pausanias bowed his head to the king. As Philip passed close to him, Pausanias pulled a knife from under his cloak and thrust it deeply under the king’s ribs. He pushed it up to the hilt with all his anger behind it, hoping to reach his heart.
Gasping and stumbling, Philip fell to his knees coughing blood. As Pausanias withdrew the dagger, a spout of red followed the knife and began to flow down the stone walkway. The king’s crown fell to the feet of Alexander, who picked it up and knelt by his father, lifting his head and holding him in his arms.
Alexander could hardly believe what was happening. He bellowed like an animal, tears filling his eyes. He screamed, “The King is murdered!” Blood covered his hands and cloak as he tried to staunch the crimson flood coming from Philip. He looked around for other conspirators who would assassinate him also, but none threatened him
Pausanias was immediately disarmed and grabbed by nearby guards. His defense was useless, as his bloody knife lay at his feet. Alexander saw Attalus make his way to the king and look at his mortal wound. He glanced at Alexander with a warning look and walked over to Pausanias. He slapped the young man hard. “You have killed our king, who would have led us to conquer Asia!”
Pausanias spit in his face. “I care not about Asia. I killed him because he would not redress the wrongs that you allowed. I will have my trial and shout to the world how you let your men ravage me!”
Attalus picked up the fallen knife and calmly wiped it on Pausanias’ cloak. “You have had your trial, and you’ are found guilty of the murder of King Philip of Macedon. A sentence of death is passed.”
He reached up and grabbed Pausanias’ hair, jerked back his head, and slit his throat. Pausanias choked and crumpled, blood pouring from the gaping wound.
Alexander watched Attalus execute Pausanias and then looked down at the dying figure in his arms. His father’s eyes were fluttering, the light of life fading. He could see that his lips were trying to form his last words. “Alexander, my son…” Then he gave a last sigh and his eyes became fixed.
“The King is dead,” Alexander croaked. He could hardly register the fact. This man who had Greece under his fist and would conquer Asia, was gone. What would happen now? Who would take his place?