Nicole "Amaurea" Hobday
12 September 2004
Troy © Warner Bros.
Paris felt his blood run cold. It was as though the very breath Achilles had taken to deliver the killing blow had stolen the warmth of Paris's body. The icy feeling started at his stomach, and then he was sure that his veins had carried it to his heart, and that from there it had spread throughout his body. The second-born son of Priam watched his brother fall to his knees, far below, a splintered spear protruding from his chest, near his collarbone. The elder prince was doomed, and Achilles paced like a lion eyeing its prey before finishing Hector off.
It was not possible...Hector could not be dead...He could not be defeated. No, no this was a nightmare. Paris felt sick. This had to be a nightmare-this whole thing! It was some terrible paradox of his imagination. But as Paris watched Achilles tie his brother to the chariot, he knew that it was not. This was real.
And this was his fault.
Andromache's choked sobs split his mind, and then after a moment faded into a numb silence as the warrior Achilles dragged Prince Hector's body before the walls of Troy. Guilt added to Paris's paralyzing sickness. He could not speak. Indeed, physically, he seemed to have no reaction at all to his brother's murder. But his eyes flickered with an awful pain.
Hector, his beloved brother, his protector, the person he looked up to more than any other person on this brutal earth, was dead because of him. Hector was dead because of Paris and his war. Because Paris had failed to defeat Menelaus. Because Paris loved the queen of another. What happened to those days long ago? Those days of their childhood, when Hector showed Paris virtually everything the boy had thought worthwhile to know. What happened to those days?
"Come, brother," called Hector.
The two boys stuck close together as they explored the busy streets of Troy. Young Paris hurried to catch up to his brother, taking the elder boy's hand. The prince's deep brown eyes were filled with wonder as he looked at all the people around them. It was not like the palace, where everyone was beckoned by and tuned to their whims. These common people went about their lives, completing their daily errands in the market. It was a loud, bustling place, filled with strange sights and scents. The dauntless, bold voices of various salesmen could be heard above the crowd. The clap of horses' hooves and their snorts were ever present.
Paris had only been to the market once before. The place was still foreign to him. But his older brother seemed to know what he was doing. The crown prince of Troy seemed only unnerved by the possibility of loosing Paris in the boisterous crowd.
It was many, many years before the name of Achilles was uttered along the streets of the pleasant, regal city of Troy. Long before Paris had ever heard the name Helen, or laid eyes upon her tempestuous beauty. It was long before the day when Paris would feel the ferocity of Menelaus's blade. Hector could not have been older than ten and Paris any more than five or six.
The chestnut-haired princes wove their way through the crowd. Hector had nearly collected all the items they had come to get: a few things their mother had asked for. The city was in a buzz. Yet the tension in the air had become normality, for Troy was at war with Sparta.
It, of course, was not Paris's war. There would still be many more years before Troy would be at peace with the Greek forces (though even that peace would not last long due to Helen and Paris). Priam's campaign was going well, and there was a lapse in the fighting as of late. A welcome intermission that had lasted for a few years. It was just as fragile as the pottery in the queen's chamber, however, and all the adults of the city knew it was only a matter of time before battle broke out again.
Hector and Paris had seen the parades of returning soldiers. They had also seen the line of dead and injured warriors who had paid the prices of the war. It had frightened Paris terribly, especially when a headless body had been brought through. Hector had felt a strong sense of unease, remembering the weight of the responsibility that would one day be upon him as the leader of Troy's armies and eventually, its king. While the crown prince had bitten back his discomfort, the much younger Paris had gone to their mother, terrified, and could not be consoled for many hours.
That was the first major event of the war that they had witnessed. That single return of soldiers would always stick out in the princes' minds. But they did not think of that as they made their way through the market.
"Brother, are we done?" asked Paris, looking up at Hector.
The elder prince nodded. "Almost. Come," he replied. Paris stuck by Hector's side closely for a while as they walked. But as they traveled his confidence grew, and he let go of his brother's hand. The wonderment of this unfamiliar place took control over his fear, and his eyes eagerly took in everything around him. They were both dressed in soft blue clothes, in the simple style of Trojan robes.
Hector told Paris to wait in a spot while he went and paid for something at one of the market stands. Paris did as he was told and waited for his brother quietly. As he did so, the young boy noticed that the crowds were pulling away from the streets, clearing the way for something. The prince's curiosity surfaced and he nosed his way through the mass of people, squeezing through to the front of the lines at the edge of the street. He jumped back, however, when he saw why they had all cleared out.
There was a long formation of soldiers riding on horses, and it was moving through the city towards the gates. They were all brilliantly clad in the golden, plated armor of Troy, and their faces looked grave. A nervous quiet fell upon the people in the market. It was a somber, respectful silence, and Paris could feel the seriousness of the situation, though he was not positive as to what was happening. The soldiers were prepared for battle, their swords and bows at their sides and backs. Their horses moved with their elegant nobility, following their master's wills to whatever fate may have in store for them.
The fair-faced prince watched in awe and unease as the cavalry lines passed silently. Murmurs were heard here and there in the crowd, and Paris saw some women begin to weep. What was going on?
Hector's familiar voice reached him, and he turned to see his brother approach him. The elder of the two stepped up beside the younger, and he watched the horsemen for a quiet, grave moment. Paris tugged at his brother's loose vest.
"What's happening?" asked the boy.
Hector set his face. "The soldiers are moving out again," he said quietly, watching the scene. "They are going off to war."
Paris looked back at the army as it made its departure. The lines kept moving. There were so many. Paris remembered the line of casualties he had seen a few years prior, and his stomach churned. How could those soldiers be so brave, if they knew that if they left to fight they might end up like those dead and injured warriors that had come back that day? How could they be so quiet as they went to their probable doom? The act of self-sacrifice awed Paris, who was still too young to understand the true feeling of protecting something. It was a feeling Hector would grow up by, and it was what drove these soldiers now.
Paris took Hector's hand once more, moving closer to his brother's side. Hector looked down at him, and saw that his little brother was growing fearful at the ominous sight. He gripped Paris's hand and gave a last look to the departing soldiers. "Come, brother. Let's go home," he said. Paris remained close to his side as they pushed backwards through the crowd, heading for the palace.
Three months later, the image of the soldiers had been erased from the princes' memory. It was a fleeting thing now, which they never thought about. Their childhood natures returned before long, and they went back to being the more-or-less carefree children that they were meant to be.
It was a sunny, warm spring day, and Paris was exploring around the comfortable, familiar interior of the palace. He had spent the morning playing with Briseus, but her mother had called her in for a while, and so Paris was left to his own devices to entertain himself. But a young prince of Troy can always find something to do, especially a bright child like Paris. He spent most of his solitary time playing with one of the palace dogs, Namachles. The hound led Paris in a vigorous chase around the palace. The brown-haired boy was quite content, and he laughed and played along with the friendly dog until he passed by a doorway that led to one of the courtyards.
Hector was with one of their father's most trusted soldiers, who was also his personal trainer. Paris stopped, and the dog ran off to play with other dogs. The young prince watched as the trainer led Hector away, and their father, Priam, was standing nearby. This would not have been an unusual sight, except that Hector did not have one of the wooden training swords at his side, but a real blade. And a real war bow was in his right hand. A quiver of arrows was fitted to the prince's back, and he followed his trainer quietly.
In that moment, Paris's mind went only to the sight of the departing soldiers, marching off to war and possibly death, and to the line of casualties coming home from war. The sight and smell of blood rushed back to his memory. The small boy was filled with dread and a terrible fear. He called out to his brother, but his little voice was unheard. Paris ran, his sandals clapping on the stone floor and out to the courtyard. He called to his brother again, running to Hector's side and clutching at the prince's left arm. A bit startled and confused, Hector looked down at his brother. The boy's brown eyes were filled with tears.
"No don't go!" he cried. Hector looked puzzled, and he stopped walking.
"Paris, what's wrong?" he asked. Paris clung to his brother.
"Don't go! Don't fight!" he begged desperately. Priam looked up to see what was troubling his sons.
Hector replied, "Paris, I am not going to fight, I am going to hunt with Terius." But the younger prince was terrified, and he could not be calmed. He sobbed and pleaded Hector to stay, positive that the crown prince was going to fight in the war with the other soldiers, and would come back like the mutilated corpses he had seen all those years ago.
"It's alright, Paris, let go," Hector kept saying gently. Yet nothing worked. Terius, Hector's trainer, came over to see what was wrong, as did Priam.
"My son, your brother will be perfectly safe," consoled the old king. But whenever Hector tried to walk on Paris clutched at his robs, pleading in distress.
"Don't go! Hector, don't go!"
Priam sent for his wife, and she came quickly and scooped up her youngest son. Paris reached out for Hector, but the elder prince walked on, calling back that he would be fine. Paris sobbed into his mother's shoulder, absolutely convinced that Hector was going to fight and be killed.
The boy was inconsolable for the entire day. He stayed in his room, tearful, until nightfall when Hector returned from the hunt. The prince was, as promised, safe and sound, and the hunt had gone well. When he saw his brother come inside, Paris ran to him, burying his face into the folds of Hector's clothes and clinging to him. From then on, the little prince was content, but stayed as close to his brother as possible all through dinner and the rest of the night. Their mother and father smiled and laughed warmly at their son's dire concern for his brother.
For these were the simple truths of Paris's world: From then on he always knew that Hector would be fine. His brother was strong, and grew to be the greatest warrior Troy had ever known. They were untouchable. If anything went wrong, Hector could always and would always protect Paris. There was no enemy that Troy could not defeat; they always triumphed. Theirs was a perfect world, and Paris did not have to worry about anything. If push came to shove, Hector would always be there. Hector could do anything.
And now Hector was dead. Throughout all the years, Paris had grown accustomed to his brother going off to fight. And Hector always returned. So Paris was never worried about his brother. He would go about his ways, interests honing on women and fine living, while Hector fought his battles and raised his family. His brother had been invincible until the moment Achilles had driven his spear and sword through that cunning Trojan armor.
Hector's wife was widowed. His son was half-orphaned. And it was Paris's fault. Again, Hector had tried to clean up the mess his little brother had made and this time he paid for Paris's mistakes.
As Achilles stole away with his brother's lifeless body, Paris's simple truths were lost. They had died with Hector. This was Paris's fall from innocence, the final blow that destroyed their carefree life in Troy. Paris was at fault, and Hector was dead for it. He was never coming home.
And now nothing was simple anymore.
((Authors Comments: Um...yeah I think I misspelled some names. Oo Might have. Anyway this was inspired, actually, by an Avril Lavigne song gasp "Slipped Away". Its very sad, and worth a listen. . So yeah. Comment please! :p))