The night before the Spartans invaded Megaris, the stray dogs that usually hung around the forward camp suddenly disappeared, and Kassandra overheard the men muttering about ill omens and unfavorable winds. A foreboding mood had enveloped the camp as soon as word of the invasion order had begun to spread, and it snuffed out the ribald jokes and dark humor that normally accompanied the places where the soldiers liked to gather.
The order to invade had come from the Wolf of Sparta, General of the Armies — a man once known in simpler times as Nikolaos, father of Kassandra and Alexios, and fifteen years ago he’d thrown her off a cliff because the Elders told him to.
Kassandra could not sleep, and in her restlessness she had wandered from her bedroll at the far edge of the fort’s walls, where the non-citizens pitched their tents, and into the heart of the Spartan encampment. Now she was a stranger among the familiar, and though the Spartans didn’t recognize her, she certainly knew them, for tradition was their way, and their ways rarely changed.
Soon after her arrival in Megaris, she’d taken up the Spartan habit of constantly wearing a helmet while stationed on the front, as a matter of caution given the volleys of Athenian arrows that often rained down on the fort. But she had another reason to obscure her face behind a helm, for it would make it harder for someone to connect her to her mother, or even to Leonidas, her grandfather. The Agiad bloodline ran deep, and it shone in her eyes and in the curve of her cheekbones.
It made her a ghost among the living.