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Mother of Zeus. He’s dead.

Achilles is dead.

I have no idea what will happen now.

This is the story:

Today just after sunrise, Priam’s birthday envoy assembled near Agamemnon’s tent. Besides Odysseus and I, there were about thirty other commander’s and captains, including Diomedes, Nestor, Ajax, Thoas, Eumelus, and Menelaus.

Achilles was there too.

Each of the captains was holding their general’s birthday gift for Priam, including myself.

We were all on horseback.

It was a nice morning, and everyone was dressed in their fanciest armor. Most impressive of which, was Menelaus’ helmet. Menelaus was wearing a ridiculous over-sized helmet, sporting wings that were longer than my arm. -It almost looked like the one Macar had fashioned for Hermes the goat.

Anyway, Agamemnon had sent some heralds ahead to announce our intention, and about thirty minutes after we had arrived, they returned with an official invite from the King of Troy.

By that point, a large crowd of our Achaean soldiers had gathered around us.

Pushing his way through the crowd, the herald approached Agamemnon and puffing up his chest, he shouted: “King Agamemnon, son of Atreus, Commander of the Achaean army, I bear news that Priam, son of Laomedon, King of the besieged city of Troy, has welcomed your gesture of goodwill, and would be pleased to meet you and your diplomatic entourage at the Gates of Troy!

The herald looked as if he was expecting applause, but none came.

Without addressing the herald, Agamemnon rode forward and raising his hand, waved for us to follow.

As we trotted across the plain towards Troy, I could feel the eyes of the Achaean encampment on our back.

The Generals were in especially good spirits, and were joking about who had brought the best present for Priam.

At one point, Ajax quipped that he was giving a Priam a large wooden horse for his birthday. That brought nervous laughter from a few, and a frown from Odysseus.

Odysseus insisted I keep his present in a sack. To his pleasure, we were the only ones who had brought a belt. As I had predicted, Priam was getting six swords and three shields. Ajax was one of those whom had brought a shield. -Maybe he was bitter.

Anyway, when we got to Troy, the gates were open, and standing in front was Priam, flanked by about fifty Trojan commanders. Behind this greeting party, we could see and hear evidence of a festival within.

Priam was wearing a long green cape and a huge golden crown. His sons Deiphobus and Helenus were with him, but Paris was nowhere to be seen.

Glaukos was amongst the Trojan contingent. I could see him eyeing Odysseus as we rode up.

Agamemnon brought us to a halt about ten meters from the Trojan line. He then shouted: “King Priam, on behalf of the Achaeans, I would like to extend our warmest wishes upon your sixtieth birthday!”

At that, Agamemnon signaled for us gift-bearing captains to dismount.

Taking turns, each captain would announce the title of their respective General, and then solemnly walk up to Priam and present his birthday gift. Priam would then nod approvingly, and the gift would be taken by one of Priam’s aides.

I was the third to present, after the captains of Diomedes and Nestor. Diomedes gave Priam a long finely ornamented spear. Nestor presented an ivory statue of Apollo.

I couldn’t be sure Priam particularly liked the belt. However, he smiled and made an exaggerated gesture that pleased Odysseus well enough.

Ajax’s captain followed me. He had the honor of presenting the first shield.

The impromptu ceremony was slow but pleasant.

I felt a bit nervous as we initially rode up. However, after a dozen or so gifts had been exchanged, both sides seemed to relax. Some of the Trojans even started complementing the nicer birthday presents.

But then, it was Achilles turn.

Honestly, I never expected Achilles to make an offering.

However, after each of the captains had presented, Achilles gave a nod to Agamemnon and stepping forward, he held up a shining bronze breastplate with a large ‘alpha’ on the front.

Then, in a weird mixture of megalomania and humility, Achilles slowly approached Priam with his own breastplate raised high above his head.

Once again, my anxiety returned.

Strangely, as much as everyone else was shocked by Achilles’ display, the King of Troy didn’t seem the slightest bit disturbed. In fact, as Achilles approached, the look upon Priam’s face seemed to be one of warm approval.

That is, until Achilles stopped and screamed: “Son of a bitch! …Fucking Zeus!”

To everyone’s amazement, Achilles tossed the breastplate aside and hopping on one foot, he spun around, looked at Agamemnon, and pulled his sword.

Agamemnon shouted: “No!” and raised his hands.

Achilles eyes grew extremely wide. Yet, instead of turning back towards the Trojans, he stopped and only stared at Agamemnon.

Then, he fell.

Achilles flopped flat upon his face. One arrow was stuck in his foot, the other, in the back of his neck.

Achilles was dead.

For what seemed like minutes, the entire world went silent.

And then, there was a yell:

“Yes! There you go! Yes! That’s what you get! That’s what you get!”

It was Paris, shouting from the top of the city wall. He was wearing those strange flowing white robes, and pumping a bow up and down over his head.

Chaos ensued.

Oddly enough, this began with Nestor throwing a javelin into the chest of a Trojan aide.

Suddenly energize by Nestor’s retort, our small Achaean contingent charged. -I didn’t even have a sword.

Luckily, the Trojans were as ill-prepared for our attack as we were, and a riotous brawl began.

No one would ever believe me, but I actually punched the King of Troy. -It was a glancing blow, and I wasn’t even aiming for him, but in my flailing amongst the Trojans, I swear that I caught him on the chin.

After a few minutes, this brawl became centered upon the corpse of Achilles. -I can’t say why, but for some reason, it evolved into a battle for his body.

At one point, Glaukos and a few Trojans got a hold of Achilles and started dragging him towards the gates. Once gain, Glaukos was cursing uncontrollably. Above the grunts and yells of battle, you could hear his piercing banter: “Pull his legs, you harpy tits! Get his ass in the gates! Mother of Zeus, get out of our fucking way!”

Suddenly, Glaukos went silent. I turned to see that Ajax had just cleaved the top of his head off. -It was nasty.

Odysseus then dove into the Trojans pulling Achilles, and began to cut them down like weeds.

A few more attempts were made by the Trojans to retake Achilles’ corpse, but Ajax and Odysseus ruthlessly dispatched anyone that came within reach. I have to admit, It was an awesome sight.

Soon, a number of Trojans began to withdraw.

Then arrows started to fall.

The melee complete, us remaining Achaeans quickly found our horses and retreated.

I tried to help Odysseus and Ajax with Achilles' body, but even with arrows falling all around, they started an argument about who would take his body back. Luckily, Diomedes was there and they surrendered Achilles to him.

Apparently, Eumelus had recovered Achilles’ breastplate.

After we were out of range of Troy’s archers, our battered birthday envoy regrouped under Agamemnon’s direction.

We had lost a handful of men, but no one I knew.

Agamemnon said very little, but thanked both Odysseus and Ajax for recovering Achilles’ body. At that, the other generals muttered subdued praises.

Odysseus had a very serious look on his face, but I could tell he was pleased.

The only other words Agamemnon spoke were when we returned to the camp.

When we were about one hundred meters from the mass of confused, cheering men that waited to greet us, Agamemnon commanded: “Tend to your men.”

With that, Agamemnon and Diomedes charged through the crowd with the body of Achilles.

You could see the shock and horror spread through the Achaean soldiers like a wave.

By the time we had trotted back to our Ithacan camp, I saw some men were actually crying.

Looking impatient, Odysseus then ordered me to properly inform the men and rode off. -I knew he was headed to Agamemnon's tent.

The rest of the day passed slowly and painfully. With the aid of Polites and Misenus, I assembled the entire Ithacan contingent, and then related the story.

Oddly, the men refused to believe Achilles had fallen without a fight. In fact, I got the impression they thought I was making it up. -I had to repeat the story of his demise several times before they let me continue.

In contrast, the men were eager to hear about how Odysseus had protected Achilles’ body.

In that case, I was a bit guilty of bending the truth. -I didn’t really give Ajax the recognition he deserved.

Actually, I didn’t mention his part in the fighting at all.

I also told the men Odysseus was then absent because Agamemnon had requested his audience. To that, their heads nodded in approval.

It’s odd how people often embrace lies so much more willingly than truth.

Anyway, after dismissing the men, I spent the rest of the day in my tent.

The weather was beautiful, but it might as well have been raining.

Polites stopped by about an hour ago, but to his dismay, I didn’t feel like discussing the death of Achilles anymore.

I don't really want to talk about anything right now.

6 Comments:

Anonymous jmchez said...

Ahh, Achilles. The master of the awkward moment causing a spectacle even in death.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Looter said...

An infamous end for a hero. When in future we want to talk about an unexpected vulnerability, we will have to call it an "Achilles neck".

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Paulusv said...

Looter: Very true.

I didn't care much for Achilles much anyways. He disrespected Hector too much.

5:32 PM  
Blogger Johnny Sapphire said...

Very true, Paul. I'm kind of surprised that he wasn't expecting something of the sort after the whole Hector mess.

I suppose some sort of myth surrounding his life is bound to arise.

6:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How very Shakespearean of you! Troilus and Cressida might've shattered the myth of Achilles' great victory over Hector, but you've done it for the alpha dog himself.

More importantly though, who shot the 2nd arrow? Isn't that whole area one big grassy knoll?

- Tim

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Yaboo said...

I'm glad the poof is gone. If I had to watch him prancing up and down the line doing that thing with his cape again I would have puked.

7:36 AM  

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