Disclaimer: I don't own anything from Troy.
A/N: Through snow, ice, and slush, I bring you the next chapter! I'm so, so sorry for the long wait! I've been so busy with homework (even over Christmas break) so I haven't had time to update, and I also had major writer's block. But, here I am! Thanks for all of your patience. Thank you to Halo, DXRULES103, jimmy-barnes-13, cutelildevil666, Small-Fri, Karategal, midnightshadow69, Lanaktty, and nemo123489 for your wonderful reviews. I hope you enjoy this chapter!
Warning: Character death and some character torture.
Queen Puduhepa stood out on the stone balcony of the room she shared with Arnuwandas, watching serenely as the morning sun cast its first rays over the city of Hattusas. One more day. She knew that Patroclus and Paris only had one more day remaining where Achilles, leader of the Myrmidon, and Prince Hector of Troy could come for them. Then, in accordance with royal authority, one of the prisoners would have to die.
Suddenly, a flock of white doves flew past her and out toward the shimmering sea. Puduhepa watched their flight pattern carefully, her eyes narrowing when she received a negative message from it.
Something was going to happen soon, and she had not power to stop it.
Eudorus was thrown roughly to the ground, and he winced as he slowly pushed himself to his knees. His arm throbbed painfully in protest as he carefully moved it to support him.
"It is about time that you kneel before me, Eudorus."
The Myrmidon second-in-command quickly looked up, only to see King Agamemnon towering over him. "I would die before I knees before you!" Eudorus spat, forcing himself to his feet. "Achilles is the only one I obey."
"I'm glad you mentioned our rebellious comrade," Agamemnon said casually. "Where is he?"
Eudorus glared at him. "I do not know," he replied fiercely, wanting to hide his leader's actions. "But I would not tell you, even if I did."
Fury radiated from Agamemnon as he nodded to the soldiers that were standing behind the Myrmidon. Eudorus silently took the blows landed to his stomach and back, but he was still brought back to his knees. "Then I suppose you do not know what he is doing with Prince Hector of Troy, our sworn enemy?!" the Greek King snarled. "Tell me that!"
"He doesn't know."
Agamemnon looked up to the entrance of the tent and saw that Odysseus had entered without his knowing. He quickly pushed his way through the soldiers and helped Eudorus to his feet. "I witnessed Achilles leave. He did not say anything about where he was going."
Agamemnon carefully studied the Ithacan king, trying to tell if he was being deceitful to protect his friend. But there was no way to tell… at least, not yet. "All right. You may leave," the king told them with a wave of his hand. "Go work on that blasted horse of yours."
Odysseus nodded and led Eudorus toward the entrance of the tent, but stopped when Agamemnon cleared his throat, having one more thing to say.
"Be warned, Eudorus. If I find that you truly do know where Achilles is going, you will be tried for treason against the king… and be beheaded."
Achilles slowly opened his eyes when he felt a gentle hand shaking him. After a moment, he realized that it was Athena. "What's wrong?" he asked anxiously, believing something to be wrong.
But a smile appeared on the goddess' face. "We're here, Achilles."
The great warrior wearily looked around the area as though he was in a daze, feeling that the boat was no longer moving. He prepared to push himself to his feet, but stopped when he realized that his cousin's seashell necklace was still in his hands.
Athena followed his gaze. "Would you like me to repair that for you, Achilles?" she said. "It would not be very difficult."
Instead of giving it to her, the Myrmidon leader put it into his pouch as he got to his feet. "No. I can do it myself, Athena." Then, he walked to the edge of the ship, looking out onto the foreign beach that they had landed on. He saw that Hector had already set foot on it, preparing the horses for the journey inland.
"Are they ready, Prince of Troy?" Achilles called.
Hector looked up when he heard his name, squinting against the bright sunlight. "Yes. The horses and I wait for you," he replied. "Nothing but miles of endless sand now."
"Good." Achilles looked out at the ocean of sand intently. Though the city seemed to be a long way out of sight, the sand gave him fresh determination. Patroclus was out there somewhere. This was the final stretch. They would make it in time.
As the day wore on, so did Paris' nerves. It was nearing the night before the final, seventh day that his brother had to reach them. He would surely come, wouldn't he? What would happen to them if he and Achilles did not reach them in time?
Patroclus sat across from him, his eyes glued to the stone ceiling above them. Though he loved his cousin deeply, he felt a slight feeling of abandonment. This was nearing the end of the sixth day that he had been captured, and Achilles still had not arrived. If he truly was coming for him, he surely would not have waited this long…
Suddenly, the heavy lock on the door of the cell slid out of place, and the door opened. Patroclus and Paris slowly looked up and saw that Telipinus and Mursilis had entered. "Our king wishes to se you," the smaller of the two announced, forcefully pulling Patroclus to his feet and binding his hands tightly behind his back while Mursilis did the same with Paris. Making sure that their prisoners were secure, the two Hittite soldiers roughly dragged them out into the dark, damp hallway, slamming the cell door shut behind them.
The two young captives stood before King Arnuwandas, each held tightly by a couple of soldiers. Paris could not raise his gaze to meet the Hittite king, but Patroclus angrily met his cold eyes.
"I trust that you both know why you were brought here before me," Arnuwandas addressed them as he began to pace. "We gave your loved ones until the morning of the seventh day after your capture to come for you. It is now the eve of the sixth. If they do not arrive by sunrise tomorrow, by the laws of our country, one of you will die. All that is left now is to determine which one of you it will be."
Paris took a short, fearful breath, but Patroclus continued to hold his gaze. "What do you want with them?" he asked.
Arnuwandas stopped his pacing and looked down upon the youth in disbelief. "Is it not clear to you, boy?" he said. "I want Troy. I want to take its land for my own and restore Hattusas to its former glory! But the great warrior Achilles and Prince Hector are the only obstacles left in my way. With them gone, the city will be weak and will fall. That is why I have brought you here. You and your comrade are luring them here… to meet their ends."
The young prince failed to hide his horror, and even Patroclus let out a quiet gasp of fear. They had not been brought to the Hittite land to be exchanged for wealth or land as they had originally believed. Instead, they were being used as bait set in a trap that would lure Achilles and Hector to their deaths.
But then, the young warrior's fear melted to anger as he glared at Arnuwandas. He couldn't let this happen to Achilles, not after all that he had done for him… "If you are out for their blood, I do not see why you had us captured!" Patroclus snapped fiercely. "Why did you not go after them yourself? Instead you bring us here, and you stay behind your walls while your army slaughters them! You are no king. You are a coward!"
Paris looked over at the cousin of Achilles with both fear and admiration. He did not see how he could stand up to Arnuwandas and insult him as he had…
The Hittian king's face contorted with rage as he swiftly moved forward to stand before the seventeen-year-old. He tightly grabbed on to his golden hair and forcefully pulled his head upward while the soldiers still held onto his arms. "You, boy, will be the one to die," Arnuwandas whispered with venom. "If your cousin arrives in time or not, your head will be at my feet at sunrise. But for now, you will be severely flogged for your lack of courtesy!"
Patroclus winced when the king pushed his head back down, not looking at the prince beside him as Telipinus and Mursilis approached him and dragged him toward the door that led down to the dungeons. Paris watched what was happening in horror. He had to do something. He couldn't let this happen to Patroclus.
"Stop!" the prince shouted desperately, trying to pull free of the soldiers holding him. But one of them kneed him forcefully in the stomach, and Paris slumped in their arms. Winded, he was only able to watch helplessly as Patroclus continued to be led away.
"My lord Arnuwandas!"
The king's gaze traveled to the main set of double doors that led into the throne room, seeing that Puduhepa had entered. A strained expression could be seen on her face as she stood before her husband, who raised his hand to signal to Telipinus and Mursilis to stay in the room with Patroclus a bit longer.
"I beg you, do not do this," the queen said, dropping to her knees in a pleading gesture. "He is young and weak due the punishment he has already endured. If you do this, he could die!"
Instead of being swayed by her words, Arnuwandas laughed. "My dear Puduhepa. Are you certain that the reason you do not wish me to carry out this act of punishment is because you do not wish to tend to more of the boy's wounds?"
Surprise appeared on Puduhepa's face. "What are you talking about?" she asked.
"Spare me the theatrics, Puduhepa!" Arnuwandas snapped in answer, a mad glint in his eyes. "Do you really believe that your acts of kindness have gone unnoticed? I know that you have been sneaking into the dungeon, bringing the prisoners food and tending to their wounds behind my back. You have betrayed me!"
Puduhepa knew that this was what the flight pattern of the birds was showing her. She sighed and set her face into a determined mask. "I had to do something, "she muttered, meeting the kings' eyes as tears shone in her almond orbs. "You are taking your plan to conquer Troy too far. There was no need to take two young, innocent boys captive and then take their lives. It is not right. The gods do not approve of what you have done."
"It does not matter to me what the gods say," Arnuwandas replied icily. "I do not need them. All that matters to me is what you have done, you ungrateful wretch!" Then, he nodded to a few soldiers that were standing near him.
The queen stiffened when they grabbed her arms and roughly pushed her head down onto one of the stone steps that led up to the throne. Puduhepa didn't struggle against them- she had known that this was going to happen. She silently watched as Arnuwandas slowly lifted his sword from its place on the wall, its ruby handle gleaming in the light as he approached her and raised it above her head. The queen closed her eyes, praying to the gods as the blade was brought swiftly down on her neck.
Patroclus watched her execution in horror, knowing that the same would happen to him at sunrise. He met the king's cold gaze, who smirked at him as he cleaned his blade. "Take him away."
After roughly being dragged down to the damp dungeons, the seventeen-year-old was brought into a small, stone room. Mursilis removed Patroclus' tunic and roughly tied his hands above him to a metal hook hanging from the low ceiling. The youth watched nervously as Telipinus entered with a long, thing whip and handed it to the larger soldier.
"How many lashes?" Mursilis asked with an excited gleam in his eye.
"He didn't say," Telipinus answered with a smirk. "Do as many as it takes until he can no longer stand, but make sure he stays alive."
Mursilis grinned, turning to face the youth. "My pleasure." Patroclus' breathing quickened as he waited for the pain to come, one last glimmer of hope in his heart that Achilles would not abandon him to death's cold hand.
Then, Patroclus cried out in pain as the whip cut into his back for the first time, tears forming in his eyes as that hope disappeared. Another scream echoed throughout the room as his back was struck again, and the youth felt weaker and weaker with each lash. Each sharp pain brought him out of his hopes that Achilles would come for him, bringing him back to reality. As he finally lost the battle with holding onto his consciousness, he knew that his cousin would not be coming.
Paris sat in the cell nervously, dreading what was happening to the youth he had begun to consider a friend. He could hear his cries of pain from the next room and knew that he was dealing with much worse that what he was. The prince had been victim to Arnuwandas' soldiers' spiteful acts after the seventeen-year-old had been taken out of the throne room, but cuts and bruises seemed to be nothing in comparison to what Patroclus was enduring…
Then, the door to the cell opened and a limp Patroclus was roughly thrown in, the back of his tunic blood-soaked. Paris saw with alarm that he was unconscious, and he hesitantly began to move toward him. He stopped momentarily when his side burned angrily in protest. Maybe the injuries that he had received were a bit more severe than he had thought.
The prince gasped in surprise when a soft squeaking sound reached his ears. Paris watched in disbelief as the small rat he had seen before, he would recognize the dark brown fur and the white underside anywhere, come running over to the unmoving form of Patroclus. He expected the creature to begin nibbling on his ear as it had always done, but this time was different. The rat climbed up on Patroclus' chest and crawled over to his neck, beginning to lick his cheek as if it was kissing him. After a moment, Patroclus groaned and slowly opened his eyes, surprised to see the rat.
Paris laughed a little, the action hurting his bruised side. "I know it's not the same as a beautiful woman, but…" he muttered in a jesting manner.
But Patroclus did not laugh along with him. He struggled to sit up, holding the rat so it wouldn't fall to the stone floor. He finally made it, fighting to hold back tears. Moving had made the burning throb on his back almost unbearable, and he wished that he hadn't left the painless world of unconsciousness.
The prince recognized the pained look in his eyes, and he sighed. "Hector and Achilles will arrive soon, Patroclus," he said. "We'll be out of here before we know it."
The seventeen-year-old slowly shook his head. "No. They cannot come," he replied impassively. "Remember what the king told us before? When they arrive, they will be killed. I would rather die than witness my cousin being slaughtered."
"They are stronger than the Hittites believe," Paris pressed. "I know they will be all right if-!"
"They are not coming, Paris!" Patroclus shouted angrily, interrupting him. "Don't you understand? In a couple of hours, it will be the seventh day of our capture, and I am going to die. They have had six suns already. If they were coming, they would have been here by now." He turned away from the prince, a single tear falling from his eyes.
Paris sighed. "I know," he muttered, seeing that the injuries the youth had received were constantly wearing him down. "But… at least you will be put out of your misery in a couple of hours."
Patroclus nodded. He did not want to die, but thoughts of Achilles put his anxious mind at rest. He would see his cousin again one die in another life, but he wished that he had been able to see him one last time.
"It does not matter to me what the gods say. I do not need them."
"Those were his very words," Arinna told the solar god. "He wants nothing to do with us."
"What else did you witness?" Ishtanu asked, his calm, smooth voice laced with anger.
Arinna's eyes darkened with sorrow. "He will execute a seventeen-year-old boy, the young cousin of Achilles, at sunrise," she answered quietly. "This isn't right. We must do something, Ishtanu."
Ishtanu was impassive to her statement. "He does not serve us, we will not serve him," he finally muttered. "We will see how Arnuwandas fares in this upcoming battle on his own without help from us. For now, warn our approaching visitors of the events. We shall see how the king handles the wrath of Achilles."
A/N: I hoped you enjoyed it! Again, I'm sorry for the long wait. Thanks for reading. Your reviews are much appreciated. Thank you!