04 | a queen wronged
It had taken days, possibly weeks, but Medea finally crawled out of her chamber. She would not have her 'friends' come and tell her how she wrong she was for hiding. Some might have been proud of her for finally breaking free from her grief. Others could have been smug that they hadn't – or wouldn't – have a meltdown as she had.
While she had accepted (long ago) that she would never be treated as a Greek woman, the blow that her ex-husband had lain on her was unexpected. It completely crushed her, destroying her heart. The only man she had ever loved – with her entire anima and body – had deserted her. Jason had known his wife had practically worshipped the ground he touched. She would argue with him, but only because sometimes the sounds that came out of his mouth were similar to a fool's. She never did it because she hated him. That idea, that feeling, had never crossed her mind.
But he had revealed himself to be despicable, just like her father had warned he was. Medea should have trusted that her father knew what he was talking about.
She was old goods. The sort that would be widely avoided at the agora. No man with sound mind would marry her. A divorced woman? A foreigner, a sorceress? Jason, on the hand, was a different matter. Men like him were always sought after; and he had a new wife lined up. A throne, waiting for his wicked body to sit upon. Yet what did Medea have? She only had her sons from the wretched man, and a ruined reputation.
A harsh realisation had conjured itself in her mind. Like the slaves, she too had been taken as plunder from another land. As if she were a reward for Jason completing the three tasks her father had set. Three tasks that Jason would never have fulfilled, if not for Medea's quick wit and cunningness. The thought that she was merely a possession angered her. He had stolen her away from her homeland, isolating her from any family. Now that he'd had his fun, he'd thrown her away. There was nobody she could turn to.
It was likely that Jason still thought Medea was madly in love. The kind of love that would posses her to grant him with the flame of Prometheus, had he needed it. Unfortunately, the flame in her breast she had once kindled for him was burned out. Replaced, instead, by a furious spirit. One that even the Erinyes would tremble from. Her rage coursed through her, vengeance begged to be released. Jason's punishment would be just, and well deserved.
Walking to the edge of the rocky path, she was glad that no-one was loitering. Maybe they had been warned against coming near her. It didn't matter to her – not anymore. At least if she had come up with the perfect plan, she needn't worry about anyone spoiling it. Who was there to hear of her wicked plans, and tell the victims?
"Medea!" A voice, one she had not heard, called out to her. Twisting, she recognised the man. King of Corinth, Creon. Darkness filled her stomach, churning and deforming her insides. On the outside, she kept her face neutral but the scowl stumbled upon her lips accidentally. It couldn't be helped. "I have heard whispers in the night of rage for your husband. Tales of how you despicably murdered your own brother – and I will not risk you bringing danger to my beloved daughter. To this polis." Medea said nothing, her arms crossed against her chest. "I have exiled you and your sons from my city. Take them and leave. I will not go back to the palace until I have seen you leave the city."
"Tell me, King Creon, exactly why you've decided to exile me?" Her words came out clipped, emotionless. She may have killed her brother, yet that was years ago. The only proof he even had, was from the man she had once loved. Even then, the gods had forgiven her after she had begged for her atrocious act to be wiped.
Creon looked at Medea for a few moments. She swore she could see his mind turning. Thinking of a good reason. Whatever reason he voiced, would have been good enough for him. None though, for Medea.
"You're a clever woman." It was not what Medea had expected coming out of the old man's mouth. She was expecting insults, not compliments. "You're skilled in many ways that most mortals are not, and your marriage is no more. It enrages you – and you have sworn threats against Jason and my daughter. I'd rather send you away now, making you angrier, before you spill any blood."
Medea let the scowl slip. Let her face relax, as if she was offended by the notion. "I am merely a woman, King Creon. The other wives are jealous because I possess skills they do not. So they make these lies. I am angry, yes, but what possible harm could I do to you, a king?" A small faux smile appeared on her lips. "You have done no wrong, King Creon. Only doing as a father should. To marry your young daughter to a hero, to someone worthy of royalty." The lie was bitter on her tongue. "To provide a strong blood-line for the crown of Corinth. Yes, I hate my ex husband, but I'd rather suffer in silence than dare to harm the princess."
"Clever words will not fool me. Under that façade of a harmless woman is a cruel and heartless harpy. The only reason I have given you the news in person, is so that I can watch you leave." Creon's tone was full of anger. None matching up to Medea's. "You are to leave the polis immediately."
"King Creon, please!" She fell to her knees. Moving along the road, she gently grabbed Creon's knees. Tears leaked from her eyes, only one or two. The sight of a broken woman on her knees would have broken even the coldest of men. "I know of trouble and I don't need more. Please, I do not mean your daughter nor her groom any trouble! Let me stay, please."
"I have made up my mind, sorceress. Take your things, and leave."
"I just have one thing to ask of you, my king." The words and her begging tone made her feel sick. Yet, it was working like a charm. Creon's once hardened resolve was crumbling. It was well hidden under that white beard, and wrinkled skin. "Just let me stay one more day."
"Why would I give you a day? It's one day more that you could harm my daughter!"
"A day will provide more than enough time to pack, to find a new home. My children's own father has abandoned them. Show some pity! You are a father. If someone was to take your daughter away, would you not want her to be sure of where she was to go?" Tears shone in her eyes. She pretended as if she was a mother trying to be brave. For her children, her dear children. More of Creon's hardness faded away. Attacking his paternal instincts had worked. "I am already in exile; I have accepted my fate. But for my sons, it is a hard road to travel down. They are only young."
It took a few, tense moments. But Creon finally surrendered. His shoulders slumped in defeat.
"Fine. I will give you an extra day. But be warned, should I – or the holy sun – find you in my polis tomorrow, you shall die." He moved away, untangling Medea's limbs from his legs. "I doubt that even an intelligent woman such as yourself can do any true damage in a day."
Oh, how he underestimated a woman full of wrath.
Amidst the countless plans brewing in her mind, she had not heard Jason's arrival.
"You are a fool, Medea!" Jason's rage appeared again. This time, it did not hit her as it had done in the past. Her once beating heart was ice cold. It was like winter had sprouted within her body. A cold coil gripped her, and Medea embraced it. "Have you not learned from the past? Fatal results emerge from your uncontrollable rage! From your thoughtless plans!"
Her back was facing Jason. It meant he couldn't see the sinister smile playing on her lips. She would let him rave and rant at her. Let him think he was in charge; that he was dominating her as a husband should have done to his wife. Controlling her mind, as if she was an empty puppet.
"It is because of your vicious promises, and ignorant ideas that occupy that small mind of yours, that have caused you to be banished! For our sons to live like... like criminals! I do not care about you running that tongue of yours about how I have wronged you. But after the way you carelessly threatened Glauce, you should be glad that your punishment is only banishment."
"I should be glad?" She finally spoke. "I am already an exile!" She whirled round, facing the oathbreaker. "It is because of you that I cannot return to my father. It is because of your cowardice that I have no family. That I am left isolated in this strange land."
"I never asked you to murder your brother."
"But you didn't stop me, did you?" Memories of that horrendous act, all those years ago, appeared in her mind. Her heart broke; poor Aspytrus hadn't expected it. Luckily his death had been swift. "And you didn't reject my gift of ointment to protect your skin from the oxen. You didn't turn away when I whispered into your ears how to get rid of the dragon-teeth warriors. You didn't throw away the vial of sleeping sand that I provided for you to claim the golden fleece." Each step closer to Jason, she felt her fury unleash itself. Jason's face was a picture; if only she could get someone to paint it. Or even to sculpt it. "Everything you have asked me to do, I have done. I gave your father back his youth–,"
"You also killed my uncle. Do you not recall?" He shot back.
"Pelias would never have given you the throne. His stupid daughters asked me to help and so I took advantage. What were you doing Jason?" She refrained from physically touching him. Her revenge involved Jason being unharmed. Physically, at least. "You were passed out from drinking wine with your hero friends. From dancing with whores at the celebrations while I, who carried Thessalus, took advantage of the situation!"
"I had a plan!" He argued back, weakly. Medea scoffed.
"A plan? A plan?"
"I never asked for your help, if you recall." Jason's eyes narrowed. His fists clenched. He was restraining himself. "I prayed to the gods, hoping that they would guide me. As far as I am concerned, it was Aphrodite who helped me. It was in her powers that she sent you, as a guide."
"Aphrodite?" A cackle left her lips. "Was Aphrodite by your side, helping you? Did she stay with you for ten years? Did she protect you from those who meant harm? And is it the goddess herself, who bore you strong children?"
"And in return for all of Aphrodite's help, you turn her out onto the street for another wife? If I had not given you sons, I maybe could have understood your reasoning for marrying that child. But I see your respect for oaths has flown into the winds."
"I have not turned my back on you, Medea." He insisted. Medea fought the urge to roll her eyes. "Despite your blatant disrespect, I will make sure that when you leave, you will have enough gold to live on for the rest of your life. I will make sure you have enough provisions for you, and for my sons."
"Oh, King Jason!" She mocked. "Thank you, but pray tell; where can I turn? Back to the country I betrayed for a stranger? Or back to Iolcus, where I killed the reigning king's father?"
"Mock all you want, Medea. But know that my reasoning for marrying Glauce was not one on a whim. As I said before – and I'll say again – I am doing it for you. For my sons. For the past ten years, I have provided you with a good life. Did you not think about what would happen when my gold from my journeys ran out? We would have been thrown to the streets. I would have been shunned by friends – you would have been dressed in old rags!"
"Being shunned is better than being abandoned!" She shrieked. "Keep your cursed gold. I don't want anything from you. I don't need a traitor's gifts."
"Fine." Jason huffed. He threw his arms into the air. "But let the gods see that I have done my best to offer help to you and the children and you have rejected it."
Jason walked out, without another word. Medea was tempted to chuckle to herself; he thought he was taking the high road. Thought he was being the better man.
"Zeus, uphold my words," she spoke out loud, "that Jason's wedding day will end with marriage lost, loathing, and horror."