Another chapter in celebration of Once Upon a Time returning from its incredibly long hiatus :D We're building up the drama, enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Troy or any of the affiliated characters
Chapter 19: Gaping Hole
Hours of silence crept by slowly. Adara stared out into the black of night, her thoughts whirling together in a jumbled mess until even she could not make sense of her tired mind.
"Are you sure you're all right?" Helen surveyed her friend, taking in the sad, wide, red eyes, and the prominent dark circles growing below them.
Adara nodded, though they both knew that was a lie; she was determined to stay out on the balcony until the last possible moment, sending whatever prayer that was necessary to whichever god that would listen. Helen understood the young woman's feelings, and gave a sad, worried smile before leaving Adara.
More time passed, painfully drawn out. As dawn approached, Adara found it harder and harder to sit still. She paced like a caged animal on her prison of a balcony, waiting for whatever was supposed to happen next.
It was still dark when that moment finally came. She freed herself from her walking trance and ran to the edge of the wall, watching fast, flying lights, bright against the night sky. She blinked, having trouble following them with her tired, dry eyes. With concentration, she saw them fly up, reach their peak, arc down, and disappear. Even with a sudden kick of adrenaline at action, Adara's mind sluggishly worked to determine what they were, and how the Trojans would use them to attack.
She realized they were lit arrows. She grew more awake as flames in the distance grew higher. Yellow, red, and orange overtook the night as more fireballs crashed into the Greek camp.
From her position on the walls of Troy, a mile away, she could hear the distress horns, feel the heat. The battle had begun.
With a lack of patience she had never before experienced, Adara waited for daylight to come. Unfortunately, when it did, it was not to bring any illumination. Adara could hear the armies, but couldn't see a thing through the thick, gray-black smoke. She clung to the hope that, somewhere above the heavy coverage, the sun was shining. A chill swept over her suddenly, and something wrapped around her heart, pulling tightly, and reminding her of that day on the sand hill...
"Please, no," she silently begged, eyes too dry to conjure up tears.
"Adara!" A crisp voice startled her, interrupting her thoughts. It was her mother. "Come inside!"
Adara opened her mouth to protest, then shut it, her insides still aching. After a last glance, she let herself be led inside. There was nothing she could do on the balcony, and there never had been.
Adara paced around her room until her legs began to hurt. When they did, she relished in it and pushed herself harder, trying to take her mind off the pain in her chest. But the more she tried, the worse it felt. It was as if someone had taken hold of her heart and attempted to pull it out of her chest, but only did half of the job.
It had felt like this when Carius had died, but instead of lingering, the pain came and went rather quickly, leaving only a scar. Grab, twist, wrench, done. She wondered why this pain stayed. Perhaps the other did too, she'd just been too delirious and asleep to notice.
She gave herself a long, full bath, the warm water soaking into her tired body. But the only things that were soothed were her feet and legs. The ache inside wasn't lessened at all, and was far too great to allow her to fall asleep.
She dried and dressed herself, and upon hearing a commotion, left her rooms, following the voices until she reached the entrance hall; soldiers were returning from battle already. She ran to the center of the room, where Hector stood, surrounded by the royal family.
All looked up at the new arrival. All, except Hector, who kept his head down, fists clenched.
"We should speak in private later," he said to his father, his voice low, not soft or quiet, but hard and harsh. There was no question whom Hector blamed for the day's occurrences.
King Priam nodded curtly and turned from his son. He and Hecuba exited the hall. After a quick word, Andromache, holding Astyanax, kissed her husband and left, walking in the direction of their rooms.
"Adara, Paris, I must speak with you." Adara was surprised by how his voice changed, for now it was gentle, and tired. "Helen-" he started, but she shook her head.
"Confide in those closest to you," she told him kindly. He smiled gratefully at her understanding. "Paris and I will talk later, if it seems suitable."
She kissed Paris and exited through one hallway while the three went down another. Hector led them, corridor after corridor, never stopping or even slowing his pace. Adara and Paris walked briskly behind him, exchanging worried glances as they both had to quicken their own strides to keep up. Suddenly, he stopped in front of a window, staring out at the late afternoon sun, only partially masked by the lessening smoke left from the battle.
"Brother?" Paris prompted. "What happened to you today?" The soldier regretted not having fought by his sibling's side in battle. He'd been on the back lines, leading the archers.
Hector shook his head sadly. "The Myrmidons fought today."
Both Adara and Paris seemed to move closer to him, eyes wide, but for different reasons. "Achilles?" Paris asked. "What did he do?"
Hector looked his brother in the eyes and solemnly replied. "Nothing."
"Nothing?" Paris repeated, confused.
"The Myrmidon's fought. Achilles did not."
Adara's pulse began to race, her thoughts jumping about too quickly to finish themselves. "Who led them?"
Hector didn't answer at first, and Adara was about to repeat herself in her impatience when he spoke. "It made no sense. He wore the armor, and moved just like him. He was cutting people down on all sides..." He pressed his forehead to the wall, eyes closed, mind returning to the battlefield. "If I had known, I never would have fought him..."
He trailed off again, leaving Paris and Adara to exchange puzzled expressions, though again, for different reasons. All Paris saw was his brother rambling nonsense, but Adara saw her dear friend in combat with a masked man she feared she knew the face of.
"He was so young," Hector whispered, more to himself than either of his companions.
"Who, Hector?" Paris asked, using the type of voice reserved for small children. Adara already knew. She closed her eyes, silently begging him not to say it.
"Achilles's cousin," came the reply. That ache was still in her chest, and now she knew why as it reared its nasty head again. Every inch of her being was suddenly in pain. She felt a burning behind her eyes, but she refused to let anything spill, tired of having wetness on her cheeks.
"You killed him?" she managed to choke out, her voice hoarse.
"I stabbed him, but he did not die," Hector answered. "He's as good as dead. With a wound like that, he won't last long."
A flicker of hope showed itself to Adara. However minuscule, however desperate, she latched onto it as a plan formed in her mind.
Hector looked out at the sun, which sat just on the horizon. "Come, brother, we must speak with Father." He bid Adara farewell, but when Paris did so as well, he noticed what his preoccupied brother had missed.
"Are you all right?"
"Of course," she replied, maybe a little too quickly, and continued her turn to leave and hurried down the hallway.
Her strangled voice and watery, red-rimmed eyes told him otherwise.
Let the drama unfold! Thoughts and comments are appreciated :)