Exercise: Write a piece in which your character is a victim of mistaken identity.

This one is kinda silly, but oh well. And, if I recall correctly, Paris was actually long dead by the end of the Trojan war (not that that’s the only liberty I’ve taken with the story 😉 ).



            By dawn, flames had overtaken much of the city. Screams and the clash of bronze competed with the moans of the dying. Soldiers and citizens alike lie dead in heaps in the street. Arrows and spears bristled from the walls and rooftops as though they had been decorative choices. The gates, however, stood open and undamaged, a mockery of the defenders who had stood fast for so long.

            At the center of the city, the fiercest fighting still inflicted a hideous toll. The palace guards still defended their charge as though there were yet hope of victory. The invaders, though, would not stop. Eager to loot the riches of the palace and temples beyond, they surged against the phalanx at the heavy golden gates and massacred the men there. Their charge barreled down the blood-spattered gates and the army flooded into the corridors of the palace.

            One man burst ahead of the rest. While his men stopped to bicker over silver coins and gem-encrusted chalices, he sprinted forward. He slammed aside doors, pausing in his search only to slay the occasional palace guard still lingering amongst the softly carpeted halls.

            Finally, he found his destination. A great door, emblazoned with the crest of a noble hunting bird and a crown of diamonds. The oracles had described it perfectly. It was truly a magnificent portal, easily worth ten times its considerable weight in drachma. He grasped a nearby guard and hurled him against the door, smashing it into so many splinters. Inside was a small cluster of handmaids, gathered about their lady.

            “Helen, it is I, your husband Menelaus,” the king called, standing among the ruins of the door. His sword dripped blood, and his armor was dented and scratched. In many ways, he looked no different from many of the troops rampaging through the city, but his bearing and stance betrayed his nobility, and his strong voice was one accustomed to unquestioned obedience. “Come, and we will return you to Sparta!”

            The maidens appeared confused for a moment, hesitating before the foreign king’s orders. Then they parted as their lady pushed her way forward. She was a short woman with short hair, and wore an expression of terror on a homely face.

            “Who are you?” Menelaus demanded, raising his sword.

            “I am Ellen, of Troy, my lord,” she stammered.

            Menelaus cocked his head. “Helen’s…cousin, correct?”

            “Yes, sire.”

            He lowered his sword and absently hacked the guard on the floor, who had begun to stir. “Very well, where is my wife?”

            Ellen glanced at the handmaids, who all looked away. “Well, sir, she was never here.”

            “Eh? What was that?”

            “Helen has been in Thira for years,” Ellen said. She stepped forward with a scroll. “She sent me this.”

            The scroll was a letter. Menelaus had not been aware that Helen could even write, but the script was as flowing and beautiful as the waterfalls of Vafkeri. Apparently, his wife had been on Santorini Island, on vacation.

            “So, it is not Ellen for whom you look?” one of the handmaids said, boldly stepping forward. “But for years you’ve called out her name over the walls! You’ve pillaged the countryside, slaughtered our men! All the time crying out, ‘Give me my Ellen!’”

            “Helen, Helen,” he said, “not Ellen. I’d not have this woman as my wife.” He waved at Ellen, a look of distaste crossing his face. “Paris can have this wench.”

The handmaids began to weep, and Ellen of Troy glared at the king.

Menelaus tucked the letter into his belt. “Ah, very well. Hmm.” He glanced at the door and the mess in the halls beyond. “I trust the appropriate sacrifices and so forth should get this cleared up. Carry on, then.”

            The king stepped back into the hall, motioning to his men as he made for the exit.


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