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Chapter 11: Disgracing the Army
Soft, metal clinks woke her the following morning - or, rather, afternoon, as she saw by the sun's position high in the sky. She lurched up and shook her head, trying to wake herself quickly in order to get up and go about her chores.
A quiet chuckle came from behind her. She looked and saw Patroclus, sitting on a chair and polishing his armor. "Finally awake?" he asked with a smile. She bowed her head in guilt for having slept so long. What if someone had come in and seen her? "Adara, it's all right. You had a rough few days."
When she looked up, she saw those clear, honest eyes, and was glad he was there to assure her - which brought a thought to her mind. "Why are you still here?"
"Oh," he said, surprised. "I thought you knew already. Achilles has ordered the Myrmidons not to fight."
"I did know," she replied. "I just didn't know how permanent it was."
Patroclus nodded. "It's permanent until Achilles says otherwise."
"He's doing this because of Briseis?"
"And you," Patroclus added. "But, yes, Briseis is his main reason."
"Doesn't he have her back now?"
Patroclus replied slowly, wondering what her point was. "Yes..."
"Shouldn't he be fighting again? Isn't the issue resolved?"
Patroclus gave a short laugh without humor. "It's nowhere near. Briseis does play a factor, but the tensions between my cousin and King Agamemnon go back farther. Pride, honor, stubbornness. Briseis was the last straw for Achilles, just an excuse to start this feud."
"Do you know when you'll be fighting again?"
He raised a questioning eyebrow. "Why does it sound like you're trying to throw me back into battle? You don't like my company?" His voice was light and teasing.
Adara blushed; her mind was instead on the fact that Greece's best fighter had pulled out of the war. "I didn't mean it like that," she said, then added quietly, "I was thinking of the safety of my people."
Patroclus grew serious. "Achilles wants to show Agamemnon just how much he is needed. He feels no need to fight, no desire to take Troy for Agamemnon. That's the point he is trying to make, so he won't go back to fighting. This is all up to the king."
"Quite a blow to his pride," Adara commented, seeing the stupid reasoning behind it.
"Exactly. Agamemnon wants to fight." Adara remembered what Carius had said about Agamemnon taking Troy. "But he wants to avoid Achilles for as long as possible."
Adara rolled her eyes at the obstinacy of men. "How well is that working?"
"I'll show you."
"What's happening?" Adara whispered.
From their positions on the sand dunes, Patroclus and Adara could clearly see the battlefield and the two armies. But they couldn't hear anything, and as far as Adara could tell, there was a standstill.
"They're negotiating," he replied. "In the front are Agamemnon and Menelaus. They'll be deciding some way to get Helen back." At that moment, there was a movement at the heads of both armies. "It's Menelaus," he said, shielding his eyes from the sun. "And..." He looked at the Trojan army, but couldn't make out the champion that stepped forward.
Despite the distance, Adara could. "That's Paris." Immediately, she closed her eyes and sent a silent prayer to the gods.
"Praying for your prince?" Patroclus asked, not condescendingly. Adara nodded. "Menelaus isn't that great of a warrior. You have little faith in him."
Adara turned and said, sadly but honestly, "I have little reason to have more."
It wasn't long before he saw what she meant. Paris shamefully crawled to and clutched the leg of a man Patroclus assumed was Hector. A very short time after that, Hector thrust his sword into Menelaus's stomach.
Adara looked down and sighed. "Why must they always fight?" she asked rhetorically, knowing the armies were about to clash for the broken truce.
Patroclus responded anyway. "It's the only way they know."
"Why did they even bother? None of that solved anything."
He nodded in agreement. "You're right. It didn't. Neither side would have held up the deal."
"Hector would never let Paris die."
"And Agamemnon would continue the attack even if Menelaus had been killed fairly."
Adara shook her head, saddened by the death she knew was coming. The Greek army began to pick up speed, and the Trojan soldiers prepared themselves for orders while archers on the walls readied their bows. She thought of Daan and the other healers in the city, and how she should be there, helping heal the wounded.
"What is he doing?" Patroclus's incredulous voice returned her thoughts to the current battle. She watched the Greeks charge, but missed what Patroclus saw. "They're too close to the wall! Fall back!"
Far out on the field, Patroclus saw movement in the opposite direction of the charge. He strained his eyes and recognized Odysseus, who Patroclus knew would have seen the problem. But the charge didn't reverse, or stop, or even slow down. Agamemnon stood, completely ignoring Odysseus's warning, and watched as the entire army ran towards the walls of Troy.
Afraid her city could actually be breached, Adara frantically began to search for something that would protect Troy. Her eyes fell upon the archers, and she finally understood Patroclus's words just as they fired. A torrent of spiked heads shot into the front ranks of the Greek army. Volley after volley was let loose; arrows colored the sky like swarms of locusts before landing on the enemy.
The soldiers that were still alive were retreating now, but the front ranks had been decimated. "Moron," Patroclus muttered.
Each day, Patroclus took the time to go out to the sand hill and watch the battle, trying to see what was going on.
For lack of something better to do, Adara accompanied him. She watched, her eyes glazing over the carnage and lingering on the faces of the soldiers she knew. For some reason, the first two she always saw were Carius and Hector. For these two men, especially, she prayed.
She was able to concentrate less and less on her friends and family because, as days passed, other men came to watch the fighting as well. They shot curious, interested glances at Adara, who could feel them watching her. She inched closer to Patroclus, but he hardly noticed, his eyes darting from one end of the battle field to the other and back.
After four days, Adara couldn't take it any longer. Though Patroclus's face remained void of any expression, she was at more of a discomfort by the men. They had gotten used to her presence, and their stares and whispers tied knots in her stomach.
"Patroclus," she said, placing a hand on his arm to catch his attention. He turned to her, his mouth set in a grim line. She motioned at the men behind her.
"What are you looking at?" he snapped.
Caught off guard by the sudden outburst, most of the men backed off. A few continued to unnerve her, but Patroclus shot them a look and led Adara back to camp.
In the tent, Adara sat in awkward silence, watching Patroclus as he paced back and forth. He rubbed his hand over his face and through his hair, clenching and unclenching his fists when they were at his sides.
"This is ridiculous!" he finally burst out, making Adara jump at the sudden anger. She looked up and saw frustration all over his face. "My cousin is disgraceful!" He seemed then to notice how loud he was being, and took a breath. When he spoke, his voice was quieter, but there was no less anger. If anything, the lack of volume made him sound more sinister. "Greek soldiers - our countrymen, our friends - are dying out there. He knows the difference he could make, but he won't do anything! His personal feud with Agamemnon is killing our people! It's nearly been two weeks since the Myrmidons stepped on the battlefield. How many more men have to die?"
"Have you spoken to him?" Adara asked calmly.
"I won't make any difference."
"He won't listen to me!" he yelled. "He won't listen to anyone, and none of this seems to bother him!"
Adara shrugged. "Would it hurt to try?"
Patroclus stared at her, wondering how she could possibly make something as insane as challenging Achilles sound so simple. And what was even crazier was that he saw her point, and was starting to think she could be right.
A few minutes later, Patroclus stood in front of Achilles's tent, unable to believe what he was about to do.