A Clash of Thunder, the Meeting of Worlds
An alternate history where Alexander the Great comes to clash with the Oriental warrior princess, Turandot.
Turandot sat in her cell, a circular cage of wooden pillars covered with goat skin, guarded by two Macedonian soldiers. Her defeat had been stunning despite the sacrifices she’d made. With her blood, she had called up the storm, crossing the river in the dead of night, expecting to take Alexander’s army by surprise — only to find him waiting for her upon its shores.
How could he have known?
In her prison, her mind was a tempest of anger and fear. She had lost twelve thousand men and her army would lose a general. He would execute her, certainly, perhaps even cruelly. But it was not torture or death that frightened her, it was what would come after. Each and every conquest she’d won with blood, and each had their price. She was far from paying her due.
Alexander came to her after sunset, unannounced, accompanied only by a delicate Persian youth. He was freshly bathed, a carefree look about him. She was almost as tall as he; although what he lacked in height he made up in beauty. His eyes were large and kind, his lips generous. His colouring was exotic to her — dark yellow hair, blue irises, offset with sun bronzed skin like hers. He exuded the aura of a man who had won a great victory. Yet, although he was proud, there was no arrogance in him.
“Turandot.” He stood close to her, as if willing their proximity to yield all her secrets. She resisted the urge to step back. “It is not fitting that a general of your stature and a woman of your beauty be in here.”
The Persian translated his words to the dialect they spoke in the region. It was broken and her command of the language was rudimentary, but she understood.
“I am not here by choice.”
“Dine with me tonight.”
She took pause. Was this a trick? She found his assuredness disconcerting.
“I’m covered in blood and sweat and horse shit.” At this point she’d give anything for a wash. Perhaps even half her kingdom. Anything for a little bit of dignity.
A pail of water, soap and a tunic — she was sure from the fine material that it was his own — were brought to her by the youth, who helped bathe her, gently cleaning her wounds, some minor, some worse. Across her ribs, a blade had scraped and pierced her leather vest, leaving a long, skin-deep scar across her side.
He helped brush her hair, letting it hang loose over her shoulders. She seldom wore it this way, knowing it softened the severe frame of her face and accentuated her large eyes. Feminine vulnerability was an asset in the bedroom and the battlefield, but she found it worked against her at the negotiating table. Unfortunately, the boy had brought her nothing to braid it with.
She was led to Alexander’s tent, where he waited, his companion and commander of his calvary, Hephaestion, by his side. They sat upon the ground, around a small round table with a modest selection of cheese and meat, and a pitcher of wine. She found it peculiar that this poor meal was their victory feast.
They stood up as she approached.
“My lady.” His companion met her. She flinched at the greeting. Was this it? She would not be executed, only demoted to her station as determined by her sex. It had not gone by her unnoticed that no women fought in their ranks and there were none in their camp.
“Turandot.” Alexander gestured to her place at the table.
As she sat, Hephaestion took his leave. Alexander bade him good night and she noticed the tension between them. As he exited, he turned for one last, long, look at her, as if weighing her soul.
They made what small talk was available to them through the Persian. Alexander spoke mostly of the exotic lands and beasts he’d seen on his campaign and the countryside of his childhood.
“How far is the reach of your father’s empire?” he asked.
“Leagues and leagues. As far east as yours stretches west.”
“I would like to see it all.”
“I cannot stop you.”
He turned to the youth. Without having to speak, the boy knew what Alexander wanted. Quickly he cleared the table and brought out a large scroll, unveiling it to reveal a map of the world; the Eastern half, although only roughly sketched in, was surprisingly accurate. They knew more about her world than she did about theirs.
She poured over the map, engrossed in the detail and illustrations of the fantastic creatures that lived beyond the mountains that bordered East and West. There were animals with the wings of an eagle and claws of a lion, women with limbs resembling the branches of a tree, their hair entwined with leaves, and monsters as tall as five men, with curved spears growing from their faces.
“Do such creatures truly walk the earth?” she asked.
“Some do, not all.” He stood close to her, pointing out the real from the imagined, uttering their names in Greek.
His breath was sweet, his skin warm, and he spoke kindly to her. Occasionally, she would catch him contemplating her, his eyes marvelling at the contours of her face and the lines of her body. As the night wore on, she lowered her guard, although never forgetting she was his captive.
“What do you want of me?” she asked.
Momentarily, he seemed at a loss for words. “I will return your army to you, if you would give me your hand,” he said, finally.
As the Persian boy translated his words, she could see they gave him pain. Alexander’s reputation as a lover of men was known in her camp and often mocked by her soldiers. Such fools — as soldiers it was not his conduct in bed that should concern them, but his conduct in battle. It had led them to underestimate him. She was certain the boy was his lover.
Noticing his discomfort, Alexander allowed him to take his leave.
She felt suddenly drunk, despite having only had a little wine. Alexander was a man her match in skill and beauty. Their union would be a sound political alliance and a boon to her bedroom. His proposal was an improvement from the execution she’d expected, but she knew a wedding was not in her future.
She reached for his hand, turning it so the candlelight hit his palm, revealing the paths his life would take. Five lovers: three wives, two men — the commander of his calvary, and the Persian boy. She was not among them.
“What do you see?” he asked.
Knowing anything she said could be misunderstood, she placed a finger to his lips and brought him close. “I will give you my hand.”
As his lips found hers, she felt herself yield. He kissed her softly, expertly, his hands finding their way around her body as if exploring some new land. Her body cleaved to his; he was muscular and lean, and she delighted in his graceful, powerful movements. The grudge she’d held towards him, for having beaten her, ebbed away. War was war, she’d lost, he’d won. Although she was still his prisoner, in the intimacy of his bedroom, he courted her as an equal.
He removed her robe, the cloth slipping off her shoulders, falling to the floor. Across her body lay thousands of intricate scars, each a memory of victory. All except the last, a fresh line that ran the entirety of her body. He took a step back. She observed him, expecting to find distaste writ on his face, but instead found understanding.
His hands traced the symbols across her breasts, from the battle in the valley of Oxana to the siege of the Crystal Palace; oh, he couldn’t know the price she’d paid.
“Great victory demands great sacrifice,” he whispered.
Her nipples were erect from the cold and his attention, and tiny goosebumps began to form. The chill pricked her skin and freshened her mind. She felt powerful under his wanting gaze. His need for her was apparent under the fabric of his dress.
She sat on his bed, eyes beckoning, and he came to join her, his body parting her legs. Under the faint glow of the lamp, his face fine featured and framed by a shock of hair falling in loose curls, he looked almost a boy, dark blue eyes filled with longing and wonder.
She threw her head back, feeling his weight as he came to lie above her, his breath, urgent against her cheeks. She felt him between her legs, hard, erect, demanding. He entered her and she devoured him.
She knew then that she was damned, for she would give him her hand, yes, a million times over, but yet their union would never come to pass.
Her body ached for his. Each thrust went deep, but could not go deep enough for her. She wanted him to ram against the very being of her soul. He filled her up so; her moans were low and husky, her sighs desperate. Her hands clawed his chest.
“Alexander.” His name, a spark from her lips.
He kissed her as he fucked her. Violent kisses, kisses which reminded her there was more than the all-engulfing sensation between her thighs. Kisses which only served to fan her passion; as if it needed any help.
She felt a sharp pain blossom across her side and her skin became wet with blood. Her wound had opened. Alexander noticed it and stopped. Taking her opportunity, she tumbled him to the bed, straddling his hips. She held his wrists down and rode him. Her wound screamed with every movement, but the pain only fanned her fervour.
As she rode him, her back arching and falling, she felt her climax build, her body tightening with anticipation. Knowing this, his hands slid under her ass. Holding her steady, he fucked her till she found release. As she came, she collapsed upon his body, running her hands through his hair, kissing his face.
Her desire slaked, reality came rushing back. A lucid moment in a vivid nightmare. She had lost twelve thousand men, she was his prisoner, she was drunk in her conquerer’s chambers, she was naked on his bed. She had no dignity.
“You’e afraid,” he said, stroking her face. She did not understand the words, but his concern was clear. She shook her thoughts away; there was only now. He was erect within her.
She kissed him and rose to her knees, her hips moving rhythmically against his. He stiffened further.
Without a word, he sat up, turning her over and laying her on her belly. His fingers found her other entrance, tentatively, questioning. Softly she whined as they entered her. Reaching back, she found him and guided his shaft. He entered her and the pain was acute, the pleasure tremendous.
Tears pooled in her eyes as he found his satisfaction in her. Her pride recoiled from the abandon permeating her body, but it had no say. If she knew the words, she would beg him to never stop, to take as he pleased. As he rode her, violently, forcefully, ripping her flesh apart, her fingers found refuge among the folds of her sex and began working herself up to another crescendo.
His rhythm became more frenetic and she felt her body become taut with anticipation. He began muttering in Greek and then, as suddenly as it had began, he came, an explosion inside her. His thrusts erratic, desperate, filling her up each time he sheathed himself.
She lay motionless, her body suffused with lethargy as he pulled out and came to lie beside her. She stared blankly at the roof of the tent as he stroked her hair. It was simple for him, Alexander, the conquerer of worlds. Today, he could have won the East, on the battlefield and under these sheets. But she knew otherwise.
Coming to the realisation of what had happened and what would come to pass, Turandot stood up, gripped by fear.
“I have to go, Alexander. I cannot be seen here.” She gestured at his quarters, hoping that, even though he didn’t understand her words, he could guess that her being found in his tent the next morning would mean trouble for her should word get around to her men.
“You are not my prisoner,” he said. “We will speak again tomorrow morning.”
Kissing her warmly, he gave her to the guards.
As she left, a great sadness fell upon her. She had not found such pleasure in years and she knew she would never find it again, for her brothers would sooner murder her in her sleep than accept their union. In her future, there was only exile and solitude.
It was the shepherd’s boy who delivered the news to her, for there was no one else. She knew it was coming, and his delivery only confirmed it.
Alexander was dead.
She could fight again without fear of meeting him on the battlefield and having to face the betrayal in his eyes. She left her stone hut in the mountains for the last time, leaving what little she had behind. Above, the firmament was a shade of the brightest blue, decorated with only a thin wisp of cloud. A hawk dove into the bush beside her.
She was going home.