?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
02 August 2004 @ 07:21 am
Sparta, Chapter 6 of 7(!)  
FIC: 'Sparta', 6/7, R, various pairings
Title: "Sparta"
Part: 6/7
Author: Osiris Brackhaus
Pairings: Achilles/Hector, Paris/Helena hinted, Odysseus/Penelope hinted
Rating: R
Warning: AU, humor, romance, torture hinted, non-con & het hinted
Summary: After their duel at the gates of Sparta, Achilles has dragged maimed Patroclus back to the Trojan camp, while in the Palace, the Trojan Princes are at the mercy of Agamemnon and his brother. It seems the days of skirmishes are over, and open war will finally come to decide who will live and who will die...
Site: Fafnir's Lair http://www.morningchilde.com
Credits: To Beryll, for coming up with the most epic plot bunnies while lying on my stomach and then tying them to my leg. To Mayetra, for unrelentingly swift beta.
Author's note: Alright, I couldn't resist. I've put in the choir, there was no way around it, not with so many Greeks in my head. Please accept my sincere apologies, I really hope it doesn't suck too badly.

---


(Entrance left: The Choir)

Far, in Troy, a wind has risen,
reaching out for Sparta's wall,
swiftly crossing the Aegean,
fate is coming for us all.

Coming from the sea it crosses
Trojan ships on Spartan sands,
blows across a makeshift palace
where, alone, King Priam stands.

In his eyes so full of sorrow,
on his brow so grave with fear,
lays a gaze that's fixed with terror
where his children's screams we hear.

Yet, the wind, it passes onward,
from the beach onto the dunes,
where Penelope, the cunning,
calms her child with gentle tunes.

Though her voice is sweet and soothing
shadows lurk behind her eyes,
every glance she turns to Sparta,
chilling is and cold as ice.

Below the dunes, the wind, it passes
Myrmidons in silent watch
for the lover, brother, boy, who
judged himself Achilles' match.

Patroclus, the fair, himself now,
broken both his hand and heart,
turns in fevered sleep and dreams as if he
didn't know to stay or part.

Restless, as it is his nature,
on, the wind, it moves again,
to the city-state of Sparta,
whose bold King this war began.

Menelaos and his Brother,
in the cellars play their games,
while the Princes at their mercy
bleed and break and curse their names.

Far above them, in the city,
on a shaded balcony,
stands the Ithacan Odysseus
wishing for a chance to flee.

But his feet are calm and steadfast,
he beholds the setting sun,
for his racing mind is searching
beach and dunes for wife and son.

Dusk and dawn, the war had rested
silent lay the Spartan fields,
since Achilles' kin was bested
by the hand that seldom yields.

Come tomorrow, all who matter,
know there will be no return
in Elysia's fields they'll wander
or in Hades' fires churn.

But this evening already,
seems to hold surprises though,
for where ever our wind wanders,
no Achilles, simply - no.

Searching for the mighty hero
all across the fields and place,
it encounters kind Queen Helen,
bitter tears on her sweet face.

But - just look - ain't this her brothers
coming strolling up the way?
It's the twins, and here we'll leave you,
now begins this evening's play...

(The Choir exits to the right)

---

Sparta, palace gardens, dusk.


"Oh really, brother, I told you boys with good looks and bad manners never last long. And, was I right?"

Pollux once again rolled his eyes in mock exasperation.

"Yes, you were right."

"And wasn't it perfectly right to drag him into our - Helen?"

First, Pollux blinked in confusion at his brother's remark, then he noticed the figure sitting next to the stairs as well, almost hidden behind the huge oleander bush.

Both twins exchanged a worried glance, then without saying another word walked over to their sister. Careful, almost as if approaching a shy deer, they stepped around the concealing plant, only to find their dear sister sitting there on a stone bench, hiding her face.

"Helen - ", Castor began with obvious worry in his voice. This definitely was not their light-hearted, dear little sister. "Dear sister, what is wrong with you?"

"N-nothing."

Still, Queen Helen hid her face from the twins, but her mumbled speech couldn't hide the fact that she must have been crying.

Again, Castor and Pollux exchanged a wordless glance, but this time, there was a distinct note of cold aggression in their dark eyes. Little care the twins had for the rest of the world, but woe the man who dared to harm their sister. Whoever had done this to Helen, there was little doubt that the twins would make him pay in their very own, unpleasant way.

"Helen, don't lie to us." Sitting down next to the Queen of Sparta, Pollux took her chin, turning around her face with gentle insistence. "You were a terrible liar when you were just a little girl, and you haven't really - "

Drawing in a sharp breath of anger, both Castor and his brother stared at Helen's bruised face and the tears hanging from her lashes, nose-tip and chin like tiny misplaced jewels. Almost simultaneously, both twins reached for the hilts of their swords.

"Who did that?", Castor asked coldly, his voice so menacing Helen flinched at the words.

"It's nothing", the blond Queen mumbled trough her tears. "It's just...."

"Just what?" Pollux' voice was as cold as his brother's, and Helen looked at them with eyes so wide and fearful they looked like lost pieces of the sky.

"Nothing. I - I fell down the stairs."

Again, she looked down at the ground, trying to hide her bruised face that upset her brothers so gravely.

"Helen", Castor urged her, "just how stupid do you think we are? This is not a cup you have broken, honey. I know you are trying to protect someone, but he won't thank you. He'll just beat you again."

"Menelaos doesn't beat me. He was just...." Helen's voice trailed off as it was swallowed by a new wave of sobs and tears.

"So it was your husband." Again, the twins exchanged a wordless glance, and there was nothing remotely forgiving in their eyes.

"Don't worry, dearest," Castor said soothingly as he rose from his sister's bench. "He will never hurt you again."

----

Sparta, city walls, south gate, nightfall


"Hey, you, listen!"

Out from the dark shadows of the city wall, a sharp voice raised the two guards from their bored nap.

"Don't act rashly, I mean you no harm."

There usually was as good as no traffic at all at the tiny gate that led from the city to the fields that lay beyond, especially not after sundown. Far away from the beach and too narrow for anything bigger than a man on a horse, the gate itself was nothing more than a glorified wooden door. All the peasants living in the city had long returned home, and so this utterly unexpected visitor had all the attention the guards could come up with on such a short notice.

"I'm coming out now", the bodiless voice declared, and from behind a surprisingly small fig tree, an unarmed man in dark armor stepped forth.

His hands raised, there was no way the guards could have missed the blood-soaked bandage around the man's right hand even in the low light. As he approached the guards with stumbling steps, the two Spartans also noticed an equally wrapped and bleeding wound at the visitor's left thigh.

"Who are you?", the first guardsman asked boldly, only to get heavily poked in the ribs by his colleague.

"Don't you see it?", the other guard hissed excitedly, "those Myrmidons are wearing black armor, and there is only one blond Myrmidon I know of who's got his hand stabbed recently."

"Huh?", his colleague asked with little eloquence. "Is there?"

"All the Gods, where have you been the last two days? All the city has been talking of the duel." Shaking his head, the first guardsman added mostly to himself: "No wonder I am standing watch at the peasants' gate when there are morons like you on my shift."

Suddenly noticing that their little discussion had somewhat distracted them from their potentially dangerous stranger, both guardsmen silenced up slightly embarrassed.

"We mustn't admit anybody into town after nightfall", the first guard finally stated in full knowledge that this probably would be the only chance ever he'd be able to look down on a celebrity.

"They didn't let you back in even in broad daylight", the other guard added rather saucily. "So why should we?"

"Because you little rodents will...", the stranger started with enough menace in his voice to make the guards grab for their swords. But then he apparently thought better of if, and with a voice that could hardly contain all the loathing the Myrmidon wanted to convey, he added: "Will probably be flayed, your tongues cut out and fed to the vultures if I tell you."

Both guards blinked in rather stunned disapproval.

"Look", the stranger went on, taking another limping step towards them. "Do you really think our King has left me outside the gate without a plan? Do you really think I was dragged to the camp because Achilles had beaten me?"

This time, the two guardsmen looked as if they were about to nod their approval, but the still rather impressive figure of the warrior in front of them kept them silent.

"Our King usually doesn't make much plans....", the first guard made a feeble attempt at solving the situation, only to earn a mean snicker from the wounded warrior.

"Dear", the stranger said softly, his grin revealing two rows of surprisingly white, predatorily teeth. "Not Menelaos. I was talking of your real King."

"Oh." For a moment, the guards' faces were completely blank, then finally they got the stranger's hint. "Oh! Hehe, of course..."

"So as this now is resolved, will you let me in now?"

"I... I don't think we can just let you in, you know? I mean, it's really pretty much against everything we have been ordered to..."

"Oh, I see." Audibly grinding his teeth, the stranger tried to keep smiling, which had about the same effect as if he had started waving his sword at them. "Sure. Go to Agamemnon, tell him I'm here, and ask him if you are to let me in. We all know how patient and understanding he is."

Of course the guards knew, and they would do close to everything to avoid closer acquaintance with Agamemnon's 'patience'. Like allowing a weird, wounded, menacing and teeth-gnashing stranger into town after nightfall.

"Oh, I think you will be welcome", the second guard finally said. "After all, you fought for the King. And... you're on a mission for him, as you mentioned."

"Yes." Still looking at the two men with something a kind observer would have only been able to call a snarl on his face, the wounded man looked at the gate. "So you let me in, now?"

"Oh, of course." Now that things were decided, the guards fumbled to get the gate opened. "Here you go. And if you happen to see a chance, would you mind pointing out two certain smart guards who are just wasted at the peasants' gate? Would you?"

"Sure", the warrior mumbled as he walked into the narrow corridor behind the gate. "But I doubt my word will have any impact with Agamemnon."

"Just - just don't forget who got you back in!", the second guard called after him as they closed the gate behind him.

"You can bet I won't forget such dangerously stupid mongrels like you", the warrior hissed softly as he was sure the guards wouldn't be able to overhear him any longer. "You're a shame to the army of Sparta, but your shame is my chance."

Emerging from the tunnel-like corridor out onto a small courtyard, the warrior took off his helmet, shaking loose his golden hair.

"Patroclus, I hate you for this...", Achilles mumbled grimly as he took off both the bandage on his hand as well as on his leg. "Making me play charades like some silly girl. Me, of all mortals..."

Looking around to get some sense of orientation in the calm city, he pulled his sword out from under his harness, gritting his teeth as he could finally move freely again.

"Patroclus, there ain't enough ways I could kill you to make you pay for this", he growled as he sneaked into the shadows of a narrow alleyway, "but I swear to the Gods, if you don't die on your own, I'll think of something fitting..."

----


Trojan camp, near Achilles' tent, nightfall


Suddenly gasping for air, Patroclus opened his eyes.

A little off, he saw the dark shadows of Myrmidons around their campfire, talking, waiting for the time to sleep or a call to arms, whichever would come first.

'My hand', the young warrior remembered full of dread, 'he has truly stabbed my hand...'

Without looking, Patroclus knew that his dreams as a fabled warrior had died that moment in front of the gates of Sparta. Even with a master healer's help, his sword-hand would never again heal properly, and despite his best efforts, he wasn't anywhere as skillful with his off-hand.

'And I loved you so...', he thought painfully, trying to move a little without making too much noise. 'Cursed be your name, you ungrateful bastard!'

Stifling a loud groan, Patroclus decided to remain lying as he did for a short while longer. His body felt burning and freezing at the same time, even though he was sure that his wounds had been taken good care of. But the fact that he had been dragged behind Achilles' chariot all the way from Sparta had left his back raw and his whole body mangled, screaming out its anguish with every nerve.

There was no way he would go anywhere anytime soon, and it infuriated Patroclus even more than the fact that he had been defeated and humiliated in front of all Sparta watching.

But still, he had enough wits in him to remain still and quiet, giving his body as much rest as he could while at the same time thinking of how to get back at his former lover.

'You should have better killed me, Achilles.' Closing his eyes again, Patroclus began flexing his muscles as far as his mangled body allowed. 'For maybe I will never again be able to kill a man, maybe not even you. But I swear by the Gods, as long as you live, I will seek you out and destroy anything and anyone you love.'

Hate was a perfect fuel for determination, and there was little resistance a body even as beaten as his could bring up against a truly determined mind.

'I will seek you out, and by Hades, I will make you wish you had killed me when you had a chance...'

-----

Sparta, palace of King Menelaos, guest quarters of King Odysseus.



Lying in his bed, his eyes wide open and sleep one of the last things on his mind, the King of Ithaca wondered how this could possibly ever end without tremendous bloodshed on both sides. Too many people on too many sides were already involved, and every day, the whole thing seemed less like an ordinary war but a tangled mess.

Knowing his wife on the other side of the war, even if only physically so, was tearing at his heart. Odysseus longed to be at Penelope's side, to be with her and their son, to protect and reassure them. Instead, he was lying in his bed, in the palace of the very King he was trying so hard to bring down.

And even if Odysseus had been able to set aside the worries for his family, there still were the two Princes who had no one else to look after but him, and maybe this mysterious person who brought them food. And that right in this hour, Agamemnon and Menelaos were with them, conjured the most unpleasant images up to his mind.

Sleep, truly, seemed far out of reach tonight.

Just as the King of Ithaca had turned around with another sigh, there was a rustle of leaves to be heard from the balcony, immediately followed by a soft thud.

Despite being rather used to unannounced night visits lately, Odysseus froze. Even with giving her far more credit than he had ever thought possible for her resourcefulness, climbing over the palaces' walls was just no way Penelope would enter his rooms. But who else would be mad enough to come visit him at this hour?

"Penelope?", he asked softly as he heard faint steps on the stone floor approaching him. "Is that you?"

The steps halted immediately, only to begin again after a barely noticeable pause.

"Want me to sneak under you blanket?", a definitely non-female voice replied, so tinged with humor it took Odysseus a while to recognize it.

"Achilles?", he whispered, turning around to have a look if his ears didn't trick him thoroughly. "What by all the Gods are you doing here?"

"Getting all of us killed if you insist on yelling my name all over this place any longer."

Still there was an unfamiliar ring to Achilles' voice, and despite Odysseus somewhat less than cheerful welcome, he sat down next to the King of Ithaca on the edge of his bed.

"Now how fares my old friend?", the blond warrior asked, apparently having all the time of the world.

"Confused." Scratching his head, Odysseus sat up in his bed, trying hard to get some sense into the situation. "So it's truly you and Hector, I assume?"

Despite his unusually gentle mood, Achilles suddenly grew all stiff and silent. Then, after an ominously long pause, he replied coldly:

"I do not think that is any of your business, old friend."

"If not, then what are you making my business by coming here?" Odysseus reply was swift and harsher than intended, but it hurt him to see how little trust Achilles obviously had in their mutual friendship. "Great Achilles doesn't walk the shadow path if there's not a good, gory reason at the end of it."

Pensively, the Greek nodded without a word. Then, almost hesitantly, he said:

"I am just fed up. This is no war, this is two armies waiting for anything to happen."

"And I guess you've decided that it's your place to make anything happen?"

"I want the Princes out of Sparta. Maybe then this will become a proper war again."

"A proper war..." Somehow disappointed, the King of Ithaca shook his head. Somewhere inside, he realized he had kindled the vainly romantic hope that Achilles had come to rescue his lover. But apparently, his friend's unusual behavior had other, less fanciful motives. "And what do you want of me?"

"You know where they are. You'll help me to get them out."

"Oh of course, how could I have overlooked that." Slowly, Odysseus felt outright angered by Achilles' way. "You and me and which army?!"

"We won't need any army. Not if we're swift and silent."

On first instance, the King of Ithaca was sorely tempted to call Achilles finally megalomaniac, going against the soldiers of Sparta and Mycenae all alone. But the second sentence made him all but gasp in astonishment.

Whatever his old friend might have said, this was definitely not only about 'the proper war'. Achilles cared for the Princes, and that was already more than Odysseus would have ever thought possible. Maybe, just maybe, his old friend had finally found a special someone teaching him that living for somebody else was more rewarding than killing for glory.

Sneaking out of bed, reaching for his tunic, the Ithacan asked carefully:

"Swift and silent, alright. I think I can do that. But do Priam and Penelope know?"

"Know what?" Achilles' almost boyish grin confirmed Odysseus' worst suspicions in a heartbeat.

"That you're here."

"Oh, that." Instead of a proper reply, the warrior just grinned and shrugged. "Didn't want to upset the girls..."

"The girls...", Odysseus repeated with a tinge of dread to his voice. "I can't say I like this. But whatever it'll be, at last it'll be over soon."

Donning the final pieces of his outfit, he cast a last, doubtful glance at his friend. Then nodding, he rose and said:

"Let's go."

---


Somewhere beneath the palace, a few minutes later


"Hector?", Paris' raspy voice asked into the utter darkness of their prison. "Brother, are you awake?"

But no reply came.

"Hector?!"

When the two Kings had finally left for the night a few hours ago, Paris himself had barely been conscious. Apparently, Agamemnon and Menelaos had found special joy in torturing their prisoners tonight, and had been especially creative all the way. And given their already astounding range of nasty surprises, this meant quite a lot.

Trying to suppress the swelling dread in his heart, Paris tried to listen for any sign that would tell him that his brother was still alive. A sigh, his breath, even a faint heartbeat in the tepid darkness would have been enough to reassure him.
But his ears didn't deliver any such comfort, deafened as they probably were from his own screams.

Wincing, the young Trojan prince fought against the despair that finally seemed to win more and more ground in his heart. He had been able to cling to hope, to cling to light as long as Queen Helen had come to see him, to clean his wounds and feed him.
Her gentle kindness had been the only thing that had kept the human being inside him alive in this little dark hell he had been imprisoned to, had shielded his heart from the evil the two Kings seemed to carry with them like the plague.

But his beautiful goddess had stopped seeing him.

Since what had felt like eternity, Queen Helen hadn't come to the cellar; neither had she sent food or any word of comfort. At first, this had only sparked a smoldering fire in the prince, fearing her husband had gained notice of her kind help and punished to. The thought of kind and gentle Helen at the mercy of a vengeful Menelaos had send him into howling fits of rage, but it had never even come near of breaking him.

But seeing his brother, tall and mighty Hector being chained to the same wall as he was, being subject to the same debased sports as he had been, listening to Hector scream and cry in shame and anger had finally broken his last resistance.
Thinking that the only reason for Hector having come to Sparta in the very first place had been Paris' own inability of defending himself, his failure to at least die honorably when Menelaos' men had come for him in the night, this knowledge had made Hector's suffering far more painful to Paris than any single spot of his own mangled body.

The thought of his elder brother dying next to him, chained to a wall and not having been able to do anything about it was a shame Paris thought would drive him finally insane.

But still, it seemed, the Gods wouldn't allow him that simple an escape.

"Paris?"

For a second, the young prince thought he had only dreamed the word coming from the wall next to him, but then a rasping cough told him it hadn't been mere wishful thinking.

"Hector?"

A low curse answered him, followed by a soft wince and another curse.

"Yes, brother, I'm still alive. Though I wonder if that's a good thing."

"It is." There was a steely edge to his younger brother's reply Hector had never noticed in him before. "If we were dead, there would be no more chance for revenge."

Truly, this didn't sound like his young, playful brother at all, Hector wondered, and at the same time asked himself silently if he would haven still been sane after all Paris must have been through by now.

"Paris? Do they come every night?"

To the elder prince's amazement, Paris gave a low, throaty chuckle.

"Yes, every night. Several times each night if they don't drink too much." Making a deliberate pause to let the horror of his words sink into his brother's mind, Paris added: "I just wish I will be that much of a man once I am of their age."

"How can you be joking about that?", Hector asked, still the images of this evenings visit most lively in front of his eyes. "They're...."

"Monsters", his younger brother concluded. "They're vilest monsters in human guise, and believe me, there hasn't passed a single night I haven't invented new ways of bringing them to their deserved, grisly end. Except, of course, those nights I had lost too much blood to stay conscious any longer."

"Oh, Paris...", Hector whispered full of grief and anger, but his brother only shrugged in the darkness. He had long passed the point of being able to pity himself.

"I'll survive. Right now, I'm more concerned about - "

Paris broke off, as there was a soft sheen of light falling into their cellar underneath the door. Silent, the two brothers watched at the light grew stronger, its source approaching. They didn't have to talk to know that this couldn't be the two Kings returning. For one, they had exhausted themselves so thoroughly that a return this soon would have been most improbable, and then the Kings would have been much louder, announcing their arrival already half way down the corridor.

This had to be somebody else.

In tense silence, the princes listened to the door's latch being opened, subconsciously holding their breath even though there was little they could have done either for good or for bad. Only when the door was pushed open, admitting two armored warriors into their filthy prison cell, a yelp of surprise escaped Hector.

"Achilles!", he exclaimed both in shock and awe as his eyes finally recognized the familiar blond mane.

"Odysseus?!", Paris asked, much warier than his brother as he wasn't at all sure the warrior had come to free them. "What is this?"

"Shh, young Prince. Calm", the King of Ithaca replied softly as he closed the door behind him and his friend. "We're here to help you flee."

"About time."

Despite the grisly scene in front of them, Odysseus couldn't help but chuckle at prince Paris' caustic remark. This boy had developed some stunning guts during his time at the hands of the two Kings. He only hoped Paris' restless demeanor wasn't just a way of concealing a much deeper damage.

"I've done all I could", the King of Ithaca replied with a smirk, trying hard to overlook the traces Agamemnon and his brother had left on both the room and the prisoners. "But as it seemed, I needed some external impulse to find the courage to act, my Prince, and conveniently, my old friend Achilles has..."

His merry, distracting chatter died away as Odysseus stared at the scene happening next to him. Whatever he might have had imagined, it surely hadn't included Achilles standing in front of the chained Hector, staring at the Trojan with a look to his eyes that held more murder than anything else.

"Achilles?", the chained Prince asked the warrior facing him as the silence grew distinctively threatening. "What's wrong?"

"Everything." Clenching his jaws so hard one could see the muscles move underneath his skin, Achilles continued staring at his comrade.

"Nice. But would you mind getting me off this damned hook? After all, that's what you have come for..."

"I haven't done any of this for you, Prince!", the blond warrior snapped hotly. "Don't give me reason to rethink my allegiances..."

"But, Achilles, I thought we - ", Hector began, but was cut short as Achilles suddenly drew his sword, pinning it's tip right underneath Hector's chin.

"Don't dare to think." Staring at the Trojan Prince with such inner fury he was shivering all over, he added across the blade of his sword: "Don't you ever dare to wind my affection into a bond and believe you have bound me. Never!"

Aghast, Hector stared at the man he would have named his lover only a few moments ago. This was... very unexpected.

Even Odysseus could hardly do anything but stand there and gasp with his mouth open, but then a sharp kick against his shin reminded him that there was another Trojan Prince in the room, waiting for his assistance.

"Sorry, Prince Paris", he muttered, heaving the Prince up a few inches to get him out of the nifty construction he had been hung up to. As he was set down to his own feet again, Paris stumbled and would have fallen, but Odysseus held him up and supported him.

"What, by Hades, are they doing?", the young Prince asked in hushed tone, gesturing at his elder brother and the Greek warrior, still standing there, glaring at each other. "What's been happening between them?"

"Don't ask, young Prince," the King of Ithaca replied in lack of any better answer, helping him to unknot the leather strings that held the chains around his wrists. "Just don't ask."

"Achilles, what is wrong with you?", Hector finally asked, confused and angered. "No one has ever said anything against you! What has happened?"

"You have truly seen this coming all they way, haven't you, Prince of Troy?" Despite Hector's plea, Achilles didn't seem to relent at all. "I should have been warned as your father so slyly offered you to me."

"He WHAT?!", the Trojan prince exclaimed, obviously knowing his father well enough to know that this outrageous claim didn't lack all credibility.

"Yes, you have all plotted this so nicely. And I had nothing better to do but follow you like an ox on a leash!"

"This old....", Hector began, now rather enraged himself and not really trying to smoothen the waves. "You think I did this to have you on our side? How can you even think I would ever be part of such plot? Haven't you learned anything of me?"

"Are you telling me your 'affections' were just that? That there was no intention in you to keep me bound to the Trojan cause? Bound to you and your family?"

By now, Achilles' sword-arm quivered visibly, and a first drop of blood ran down Hector's throat.

"Tell me, Hector, Prince of Troy, have those thoughts never been on your mind?"

Seeing Hector's mouth work soundlessly, obviously fighting for an appropriate answer that would be neither too far away from the truth nor too close to it, Odysseus decided it was now time to act.

"BOYS! Listen!", he yelled, leaving a staggering Paris standing all on his own. "This is not the time to sort out your rotten relationship!"

Both Achilles and Hector turned around as if having been slapped. Staring at the King of Ithaca, both of them suddenly exuded an almost tangible menace. But Odysseus now truly had other worries than treating the two of them gently.

"Whatever has gotten into your mind, Achilles, this is NOT. THE. TIME!" Walking up to the two men, he tried to ignore the almost overwhelming urge to cringe and run. "And Hector, we all know your dear father is not above selling his son in times of need, though I really hope we're speaking figuratively here. And also," he added with a stern look in Achilles' direction, "we all know that it would be beneath you to even think of something like that."

Again, Hector seemed to flinch away from the other men's gaze, and Odysseus fought hard to suppress a dirty smirk.

"At least," he amended, "I am pretty sure it never passed your mind until you saw that it would surely not be a loss for your armies if Achilles was romantically attached to you."

The furious glare Achilles gave him in reply to this remark would have almost made Odysseus laugh out loud.

"Of course, a venerable hero as our mighty Achilles here is never romantically attached to anybody, that is. That would be presumptuous to say, wouldn't it?"

"Odysseus...", Achilles growled low with menace. "Watch your words..."

"Oh please, for Aphrodite's sake. You love each other, so stop fooling yourself." Now that it was out loud, it truly sounded hard to believe, even in Odysseus ears. So, almost as if hearing it again would make the thought less outrageous, he repeated: "You love each other. You are in love."

Breathing heavily, Achilles' let his sword sink down, with Hector giving a relived sigh.

"I am sure Penelope would have found a way to say this less bluntly", Odysseus went on, slightly emboldened. "Achilles, the betrayal of Patroclus has shocked and hurt us all. But don't let your pain make decisions for you. You've been given a great gift, now don't spoil it."

Still, Achilles stood in front of Hector, his only movement being his chest rising and falling as if just having run the mile.

"Achilles." Trying for a gently insisting voice, Odysseus said: "Now get your lover off that cursed hook, we haven't got the time to turn all melodramatic."

Finally, the blond warrior nodded and sheathed his sword. Whatever he had decided, apparently it included getting Hector out of his most unpleasant situation. So, with a united effort, Odysseus and Achilles freed Hector from his chains that held him upright to the wall.

A silent shudder ran over Odysseus' back as he realized that behind the Trojan Prince, there already were the first unsavory stains on the wall that had formed such a gruesome silhouette of his younger brother next to him.

"All the Gods," Achilles whispered full of suppressed rage as finally the wounds on his lover's body struck his mind. "What have they done to you...."

"I- I am all right", Hector tried to calm the blond Greek, but as if to belie his own words, his own feet were too exhausted to carry his full weight, and he stumbled into Achilles' arms. "Mostly."

"Oh Hector, what have they done to you...."

The tenderness in Achilles' voice once again made Odysseus blink with disbelief. Was this truly the same man who had just moments ago declared he would never be bound by his heart's affections?

Carefully, the blond warrior helped Hector to his feet again, holding the Trojan with gentle care.

"They will pay for this", Achilles whispered, "they will pay a hundred times..."

Leaning his head against his lover's shoulder, Hector took a deep breath, followed by a deep shudder as last night's memories rushed by him once more.

"Hold me, Achilles", he whispered in reply, "just hold me."

But instead of pulling Hector into a tighter embrace, the Greek turned up the Trojan's badly bruised face.

"If they had killed you, I'd have lost myself."

And before Hector had a chance to react to this astounding commitment, Achilles inclined his head and kissed him. Longing and hope, reassurance and passion beyond reason filled this kiss, and despite his badly maimed state, Hector found it surprisingly easy to return this kiss in like.

So while the two warriors stood there, entwined in a kiss that encompassed all their newfound love, Odysseus tried to give them at least some nominal privacy by not staring directly at them. Yet, while trying to find anything else in this cellar to stare at that didn't bring up the most unpleasant images to his mind, the King of Ithaca noticed something rather crucial missing.

"Erhm... guys?", he asked hesitantly as the two men were still clinging together as if breathing through each other. "Guys!"

"WHAT?!", both Hector and Achilles yelled almost simultaneously as Odysseus' nagging finally broke their kiss.

"Has any of you seen Paris?"

Stunned, both warriors looked around in the small room in an almost funny repetition of Odysseus' confused look only mere seconds ago.

"Where is he?", Achilles asked as he realized the younger prince was nowhere to be seen.

"Right that was my question." Sometimes, there were moments when Odysseus didn't wonder why they always dubbed him the smart one. "Why should he leave us?"

"And where to?", Achilles added rather angry. "And why, by all the Gods, unarmed?"

"Well, apparently not completely unarmed", Odysseus replied as he instinctively checked upon his equipment. "My dagger has gone missing. Funny skill for a prince, that is, but it seems to be quite useful."

"Helen."

All men in the prison stared at Hector, whose soft remark had made room for a handful of most unpleasant speculations.

"Helen? You mean Queen Helen of Sparta?", Odysseus asked, understanding slowly dawning in his mind.

Hector nodded in reply. "He told me she had come occasionally to feed him and care for his wounds. He sounded rather infatuated with her..."

"All the Gods...", Achilles whispered.

"Paris was worried that her husband had found out and harmed her in any way. He said he would do anything to see her safe..."

"Oh no. Oh, please no..." Odysseus suddenly felt like falling off a cliff. "I gather swift and silent are no longer an option, am I right?"

Seeing Achilles nod grimly, the King of Ithaca sighed deeply.

"So I'm going to die tonight. Well, whatever, I'll die a true hero." Giving another sigh, he shook his head. "Not what I had in mind, but not too bad either. At least Penelope and Telemachos are in safety..."

----


Trojan camp, interim palace of King Priam


"We can't just sit here and wait!", Queen Penelope exclaimed, her arms flailing with suppressed activity. "There must be something we can do to help them!"

"Penelope, dearest." Sitting on his throne, King Priam tried to calm his friend. "Achilles and your husband are in the hands of the gods now, and all we can do is pray for them."

"Pray... I know your faith lends you a calm heart, Priam, but I am afraid mine is not strong enough for that." Leaning against a tent-pole with her forehead, Penelope relaxed for a moment, giving a deep sigh. "I am just so terribly afraid, so maddeningly afraid. I want to send our armies, just for having done anything, but I know it would be an unnecessary sacrifice if all goes well."

Trying a brave little smile, she looked at the aging King of Troy, nodding. "Standing here, waiting for either deliverance or doom just drives me mad."

"I know, dear.", Priam replied soothingly. "But we're just a woman and an old man, what could we do?"

"You could surrender..."

Almost jumping at those words, delivered in such freezing cold and threatening tone, both Priam and Penelope snapped around to see who had entered their tent. And what they saw almost made their blood congeal.

In the remote corner where they had set up young Telemachos' cradle, a hunched figure was standing. Clad in hardly more than rags, bloodied bandages made up most of his appearance, but his dirty hair was still golden enough to tell them they were facing Achilles' cousin.

In his right arm, carefully not using his maimed hand, Patroclus carried the unmistakable shape of an infant child, and the dagger he carried in his left made absolutely clear he wasn't just about to cuddle him.

"Telemachos!", Penelope yelped, almost strangled by shock, and immediately rushed forward. But a sharp hiss of Patroclus stopped her dead in her tracks.

"No!" Holding the dagger even closer to the child, Patroclus gave her a feral smile. "One more step, woman, and you can gather the pieces of your son off the floor!"

"Telemachos...!", Penelope whispered, hiding her mouth behind her trembling fingers, "Telemachos..."

"By Hades!", King Priam suddenly hollered, "What do you think you are doing there, Patroclus? This innocent child has never done anything to you!"

But Achilles' cousin merely laughed at the old King's anger, a rasping, pain-filled laugh.

"Oh Priam, innocent hearts mean little in war. I have learned that myself, and you'll learn it now." In his arm, little Telemachos suddenly started wailing, which caused Patroclus to snarl at the infant.

Across the floor, Penelope by now was holding the tent-pole to remind her that rushing forward to her son would only endanger him more than anything else. Her body was shivering all over, and she cursed herself a hundred times each heartbeat for having been so thoughtless of bringing her son with her.

"Maybe Achilles was right", Patroclus snarled as he stepped out of the shadows he had been hiding in. "Maybe I will never again kill a man. But that doesn't mean I can't kill a child, does it? And sometimes that is all you need to win a war."

"May the Gods curse your name for what you are doing, Patroclus!", King Priam spat from his throne, but the maimed warrior again only laughed at him.

"Gods don't listen to old, forgotten Kings, Priam. Only those who win the war survive, and only those who survive will name the traitors and heroes. And I have chosen to be among those who will live, come tomorrow dawn. You won't."

Snarling at the crying child in his arms, Patroclus shook the infant hard, only to produce another ear-splitting wail out of the boy.

"No!", Penelope yelled, now tears running over her face, "Don't, you hurt him!"

This time, Patroclus' rasping laugh had a truly amused ring to it.

"But that's the whole point, dear, isn't it?", he replied, shaking the child once more just for good measure.

"No! Telemachos!"

"What do you want, you cursed soul?", King Priam asked, his voice almost choking with helpless fury.

Again, a feral grin split Patroclus face, revealing his teeth, red with his own blood.

"Unconditional surrender, or you can watch this worm being dismembered bit by bit. You have already the blood of your two sons on your hands, old King, do you want to enter the afterlife with this one's blood clinging to your hands as well? Will you be able to bear the guilt for the rest of eternity?"

"I...", King Priam began, but his voice was choked by tears of sorrow and rage.

"You truly are a monster", Penelope hissed from her part of the tent, "Cursed be you and your mother who lacked the strength to throttle you when she gave birth to a thing that wasn't human! I will - "

"Penelope." King Priam's soft remark stopped her outpour. "Dearest. It is over."

Turning towards the grinning Patroclus, he added in a voice that held utter defeat:

"No honor you have won by your actions, Patroclus, but it seems you have defeated us none the less. We will do what you want."

-----

End of chapter 6
 
 
Current Mood: stressed
 
 
 
trustingfrndshptrustingfrndshp on August 2nd, 2004 12:08 am (UTC)
Well I'm glad Achilles and Odysseus got to Paris and Hector and hope Helen's brothers help instead of hinder their escape. Patroclus really doesn't know when to be grateful for what he's got; Achilles really should have killed him instead of sparing his life, but hopefully that can be rectified in the next chapter; look forward to more:-)
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on August 4th, 2004 11:22 pm (UTC)
No, truly Patty doesn't. :D But he'll get what he deserves, though not necessarily by the usual suspect. Thanks for the feedback!
Cardinal Rosetrust_n0_1 on August 2nd, 2004 01:00 pm (UTC)
Very nicely done - again!! And what a cliffhanger..So you have decided on 7 chapters. I'll be sorry to see this end. But anyway, I do hope that Patroclus dies screaming and that this all has a happy ending, for a change *slaps self - what's wrong with you?* Please, hurry with the update!!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on August 4th, 2004 11:25 pm (UTC)
Well, thanks! And sorry for the cliffhanger, but it was such a nice moment to make the cut between th chapters...
Rest assured, Patroclus will get what he deerves. *looks forward* Hope I'll be able to finish the final part on the weekend. Take care!
not_sallynot_sally on August 4th, 2004 11:03 pm (UTC)
AGH! Not fair!
I loved this chapter, though I want more than ever Patroclus to be tortured forever.
The scene in the dungeon/cell was really cool. I love how you write Achilles, just so confused he's almost child-like.
What I'd like to know is how will the 'good guys' kill Agamemnon and Menelaus... will they take turns? Play rock, paper, scissors?
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on August 4th, 2004 11:29 pm (UTC)
Lol, sorry for the clifhanger, it was just too good a moment not to cut the chapters here.
And about Achilles: never seen him as child-like, but yes, when all one has got is a lot of fury and attitude and then enter a situation where stabbinating people doesn't get you forward, there's very little left of one. So Achilles has to lear how to act under such circumstances, and maybe you're right, he feels like a child, on some ways. A big, f*ucking dangerous child, but yes.

And about killing the bad guys - I think none of them would have ever expected their deaths being deal by the hands that'll do it, but then again, that's the fun of retelling stories, isn't it?

Really glad you like how the story proceeds, take good care!
HUGS,

Osiris
not_sallynot_sally on August 13th, 2004 11:28 am (UTC)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on August 17th, 2004 11:43 pm (UTC)
THANKS, dear.

Had a lovely day, even the weather was great despite all the odds, and you thinking off me made it even better. ;-)

HUGS
Osiris
one_side2002one_side2002 on August 5th, 2004 03:35 pm (UTC)
good lord, you and beryll are going to be the death of me one day... I just absolutely adore this story and the characterisation (spelling??) of Achilles is awesome, I love how insecure he gets once he's out of his league... wonderful... I would love to see more inside Hector's psyche though, how comes that he is so sure Achilles loves him?

anyway, don't let us wait too long! Love your story!

take care
val

p.s. do you mind if I friend you?
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on August 8th, 2004 12:00 am (UTC)
Dear Val,

thanks for your kind FB! And Hector.... he isn't sure. He hopes. But we'lll have some more of that in the last chapter, which I am working on any spare minute I have. ;-)

And also, I do not mind at all if you friend me, I'd actually feel flattered.

Take care,

Osiris