Dark Prince

Dark Prince by David Gemmell Read Free Book Online

Book: Dark Prince by David Gemmell Read Free Book Online
Authors: David Gemmell
sea-green gown of Asian silk, held in place at the shoulder by a brooch of gold shaped like a sunburst. She laughed aloud as she saw the Spartan general and his burden. Parmenion bowed, Alexander screaming with mock fear as he almost came loose.
    “Greetings, lady. I bring you your son.”
    Olympias stepped forward, kissing Parmenion’s cheek. “Always the welcome visitor,” she told him. Turning to her servants, she ordered wine and fruit for her guest and ushered him into her apartments. Everywhere there were fine silk hangings, brocaded couches, and cushioned chairs, and the walls were beautifully painted with Homeric scenes. Parmenion lifted Alexander and lowered him to a couch, but the boy scrambled clear and took hold of the general’s hand.
    “Look, Mother. I can hold Parmenion’s hand. There is no pain, is there, Parmenion?”
    “No pain,” he answered.
    “He saved Father’s life. He led the countercharge againstthe Phocian cavalry. They couldn’t fool you, could they, Parmenion?”
    “No,” the Spartan agreed.
    Two female servants helped Parmenion from his breastplate, and a third brought him a goblet of wine mixed with cool water. Yet another girl entered, bearing a bowl of fruit, which she placed in front of him before bowing and running from the room.
    The Spartan waited until the servants had been dismissed and then raised his goblet to the queen. “Your beauty improves with every year,” he said.
    She nodded. “The compliment is a pretty one, my friend, but let us talk of more serious matters. Are you out of favor with Philip?”
    “The king says not,” he told her.
    “But that is not an answer.”
    “No.”
    “He is jealous of you,” said Alexander softly.
    The queen’s eyes widened in surprise. “You should not speak of matters you do not understand,” she chided. “You are too young to know what the king thinks.” Alexander met her gaze but said nothing, and the queen looked back at the general. “You will not leave us, will you?”
    Parmenion shook his head. “Where would I go, lady? My family are here. I will spend the autumn at my estates; Mothac tells me there is much to do.”
    “How is Phaedra? Have you seen her?” asked Olympias, keeping her voice neutral.
    Parmenion shrugged. “Not yet. She was well when last I saw her. The birth of Hector was troublesome, and she was weak for a while.”
    “And the other boys?”
    The Spartan chuckled then. “Philotas is always getting into trouble, but his mother spoils him, giving way in everything. Nicci is more gentle; he is only two, but he follows Philo everywhere. He adores him.”
    “Phaedra is very lucky,” said Olympias. “She must be so happy.”
    Parmenion drained his watered wine and stood. “I should be riding home,” he said.
    “No! No!” cried Alexander. “You promised to tell me of the battle.”
    “A promise should always be kept,” said the queen.
    “Indeed it should,” the general agreed. “So, young prince, ask me your questions.”
    “How many Macedonian casualties were there?”
    Leaning forward, Parmenion ruffled the child’s golden hair. “Your questions fly like arrows to their target, Alexander. We lost just over three hundred men, with around two hundred badly wounded.”
    “We should have more surgeons,” said the boy. “The dead should not outnumber the wounded.”
    “Most of the dead come from the early casualties,” the Spartan told him. “They bleed to death during the battle—before the surgeons can get to them. But you are correct in that we need more skilled physicians. I will speak to your father.”
    “When I am king, we will not suffer such losses,” the boy promised. “Will you be my general, Parmenion?”
    “I may be a little old by then, my prince. Your father is still a young man—and a mighty warrior.”
    “I will be mightier still,” promised the child.
    The meeting with the queen and her son disturbed Parmenion as he rode north toward his vast estates on the

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