Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hegemon Book 16. The Hero’s Last Stand

One day, as Achilles waited in his tent, an old man approached him. Achilles was dismissive of him, until he realized that it was King Priam of Troy himself. Surely, Achilles could have captured, ransomed, or even killed him, but thankfully, he did not. Otherwise, my archenemy Paris would rule over the Golden City.

Priam pleaded with Achilles for the return of Hector’s body, for Hector was his most important son and the greatest hero Troy hath ever known. Achilles still had nobility in him, and his rage hath abated somewhat, so he returned Hector’s body to Priam for proper burial. That which Priam could not buy with all the wealth of Troy, he took back with fatherly tears and concerns. Such was the wisdom of Priam.

It was in the seventh year of this great war with Troy, and though Achilles hath won many battles, the Hellenes could still not scale the great walls of Troy. Achilles challenged Troy’s heroes out to battle him, and one by one, they fell. Even Aenas was badly injured and forced to retreat. It was well-known that outside Olympus, there was no man alive who could defeat Achilles, so much so that the legend spread that he was invincible for his mother had dipped him in the River Styx and rendered him invulnerable.

Of course, Cassandra, the prophetess of Troy and beloved of Apollo, told the Trojans that Achilles was not invulnerable at his heel, for his mother hath held him by that part in dipping him in the River Styx.

Paris, now crown prince of Troy, told his cousin Aenas to lure Achilles to the wall, and then treacherously shot Achilles at his heel with a poison arrow. To his credit, it was a masterly shot and an ignonimous end to the great hero Achilles. Achilles died of Trojan poison, and the age of the heroes would end with him.

With Achilles’ death, the Greeks and Trojans were in stalemate for another three years. The Trojans were unable to drive us back, but we were unable to breach Troy’s high walls.

At this time, Agamemnon summoned the soothsayer Calchus and asked him for advice. Calchus had the air of Olympus about him. It was he who hath told us to trade the life of Iphigenia for passage on the Hellespoint to Troy, and now, the High King was seeking his advice. This was Calchus’ reply,

“In three years’ thence, will thy call upon the son of Tydeus.
Without him, Troy wilt not fall, but beware High King,
For the gods are jealous, and once you break open the Golden City,
The cost may be that which you canst not pay.”

But Agamemnon, my brother, was one who would spit into the eye of death, and even at the risk of re-ignited that ancient rivalry with the King of the Argives, the High King summoned Diomedes back to the fields of Troy. For him, nothing was more important than this conquest and the redemption of my honor by recovering Helen.

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