Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Panorama view of Thessaloniki, Greece
I've been busy lately trying to keep up my writing schedule in between enjoying summer fun.
There's been a lot to do -- juggling my genres -- getting some travel writing done, edits, the new web site entries for Travel Thru History, and recently the Planet Eye contributions I am writing each week. But I am also not losing sight of my goal to finish "Shadow of the Lion" and
so I am slowly forging ahead with it, plotting and scheming along with my protagonists and antagonists. As always I love taking my mind back to Greece, and these days I'm "visiting" sites I'm familiar with. Above is a photo of Thessaloniki, which will figure prominently in the novel very soon.

The other weekend I went to see Mama Mia with my travel companion Ingrid. We later went for a Greek meal and rhapsodized over our movie 'trip'. Seeing the country, the little details of the village and the houses in the movie brought back so many wonderful memories. (For me, memories of my life on Euboea). I long to be in Greece, but for now I can only be there in my memories and visual it through my writing. (A lot of my travel writing is also about Greece).
But I look forward to next summer and the Assembly of 2009. Even my sister says she's coming to help celebrate my birthday on the hill behind the Pnyx. It's going to be a big one.

I've been 'scheming' too, trying to figure out how to save money again for that proposed trip to Chile that Patrick and want to do in January. So far, though, it seems a bit futile. However soon I'll be teaching again so we'll see what can be done about it. As always, though, Greece is my top priority.

So while I'm doing my planning, so is my antagonist, Kassandros. Here's the latest bit of chicanary my villain is cooking up:

Map of Macedonia
(Pydna is about a third of the way down the coast, and Dion is located just below)

NOTE: Kassandros and his army are at the holy sanctuary of Dion, not too many miles south of Pydna. He has just learned that Olympias has refused his offer of a 'truce' and safe passage to Euboeia. And so...the plot thickens...

As the envoy captain shuffled out of the hall, Kassandros called over his general, Kallas,from the couch at his right hand. “It seems that the time is propitious for us to advance on Pydna. We’ll make the old witch sorry she refused my offer. I want you to leave straightaway tomorrow. Go stealthily, and approach by night, so the guards won’t be alerted. The Epirote refuses to treat with me? Starve them out or bombard them. Just make sure nobody gets out alive. That old fool, Polyperchon, believes the truce he signed is enough to protect the royals. By the time he learns we have captured the fortress, it will be too late for him to act.”

He leaned back on the couch and smiled. Everything was set in motion and he was assured of victory. There was only one more thing he needed to achieve in order to obtain control of the throne and take his rightful place as Regent of Macedon.

He called over his personal squire, Glaukis, a sturdy boy, loyal to a fault.
“Bring the woman, Thessaloniki, here,” he commanded.

Glaukis cast a sidelong glance at him and shrugged. “Sir, the hour is late. Surely the lady is asleep.”

Kassandros caught the edge in the young man’s voice and looked at him with irritation. “Then wake her!” he ordered.
He had never doubted Glaukis’ unswerving loyalty and admiration but he recognized the petulant look of jealousy on the squire’s face.
“You’re a good boy, Glaukis!” he smiled, lifting his wine cup. Glaukis studied him with narrowed eyes, then spun on his heel and left the banquet hall without saying another word.

He had brought Thessaloniki here from Aigai promising to protect her from the Epirote and the Soghdian. After she arrived he had moved into the villa, expropriating it for a decent sum from its former owner. It would have been unseemly to expect the princess to board in an army barracks. She was, after all, one of King Philip’s daughters.

The banter and merry-making of his guests hushed suddenly and he heard the outbreak of whispers as everyone’s eyes turned toward the doorway. He put up his hand to silence them. “Gentlemen, here is Philip’s daughter, a true-born Macedonian princess.”

Thessaloniki paused in the entrance. She was simply dressed in a white shift, her auburn hair unadorned as if she had just come from her bed. Kassandros saw her face flooded with colour; she had a frightened look, like a startled deer.

“Come here, my Lady” he beckoned her forward.
She composed herself and took a hesitant step, then obedient as a dog at heel, she came to stand by him. “My Lord?” Her dark eyes studied him warily.

His gaze met hers. Thessaloniki was thirty-five, but carried herself well for her age, a quiet, civil girl, one who would make a suitable wife, and would be grateful for her position. She wasn’t a great beauty. She was of a slender build, with dark hair and she had inherited the broad, strong features of her father. When the time came, she would make a proper wife, one whose offspring could claim royal status.

“Prepare yourself and your servants,” he commanded. “ You will leave here tomorrow for Pella, while the ships can still sail.”
“Leave Dion, my lord?” Her voice quivered.
“I’m sending you back to Pella,” he responded gruffly.
“But Sir... my lord...” Her face paled. “What about the queens...Olympias and the Soghdian? ”
“No fear of them. They’ll dare not trouble you so long as they are in Pydna. You’ll wait for me in Pella. You must prepare things -- make the palace ready.”
“Ready for what, my lord?”
“When I return in the Spring, triumphant, we will be married.”

She drew in a sudden gasp of breath then threw herself on her knees before him.
“Marriage, my Lord?”

He took her hand and kissed the palm. “As I promised you,” he said, smiling. “When I return to Pella victorious, we shall wed. I have already sent an edict to the citizens of the coastal villages to let them know I intend to consolidate their rural towns into one metropolis. Just as I promised you, my dear, when you agreed to marry me. And, as I promised, the new city will be named Thessaloniki, in your honour.”

She inclined her head. “Sir, you have been most generous with me. Thank you.”

He was amused at her naivety. He reached out and took her by the wrist, pulling her toward him. She looked startled. Could she read his thoughts? His relationship with her was business, nothing more, though she was not unpleasant to his eye, and he could not deny that because of her innocence she possessed sexual allure. Her cheeks flushed red and he felt her hand tremble in his. “You’re a good girl,” he said..

He raised his wine cup and addressed his guests: “It is Thessaloniki who shall reign as queen of Macedon, not the Epirote or the foreigner.”

A pleased murmur went round the hall and his guests lifted their cups in a congratulatory salute.

“Long life to you, Lady!” everyone cheered.

He kissed Thessaloniki lightly on the cheek, then dismissed her. After she had left the banquet hall, he turned back to his squire, Glaukis.

“That’s done! Now, let’s take a stroll by the river.”

They went outside together to the courtyard. Inside the guests were singing again; they would keep it up all night. Kassandros and his squire walked to the gate and stepped outside onto the long deserted avenue. After the noise of the hall, the quiet outside seemed abrupt. The road ran between a stand of eucalyptus and sycamore trees. The light of the moon glinted on the river. They stood in silence awhile watching the night mist rise from the reeds.

Kassandros took a deep breath of the damp pin-scented air. “By Spring we will be in Pella!” he said. “Or would you rather I send you to Athens after the wedding? I’ll need
new men like you to man the garrison in Athens.”

“No Sir...I mean...” Glaukis stammered. “Do you mean to send me away, Sir?”
Kassandros put his arm around the youth’s shoulders. Glaukis spent all his days in the gymnasium and the tautness of his athlete’s body next to his sent a warm surge through Kassandros’ belly. “Don’t look forlorn, my boy. You know who I prefer for a bed-fellow. Believe me, the thought of bedding a dowager princess serves only to make me long more for you.” He winked, and squeezed Glaukis’ bicep. “You know what this is all about. She’s King Philip’s daughter. I need her royal title.”

* * *
NOTE: So now you know where the city of Thessaloniki got its name.
Stay tuned for more scheming!

Statue of Alexander riding Buchephalus

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