The walls of Troy didn’t seem that tall any more. The Queen they were meant to be saving, the one who had been taken willingly so the soldiers said, didn’t seem that beautiful any more. Each sword had lost its shine. Each arrow had lost its deftness. He had never had a true thirst for battle, he didn’t like to see blood shed and now it was the blood of someone he loved, his beloved, he found he liked it even less.
He knew when he died, he’d be crowned a hero, draped in songs and prayers and epitaphs that he’d never claimed. He would be Achilles, son of a god, unkillable, immortal – or near enough. What would become of Patroclus? Would he be forever remembered as Achilles’ decoy? Would he be forgotten by all but Achilles himself? Should he run around the camps screaming his name in grief? Should he force people to remember? Or should he let him be burned without ceremony? No, not yet, he was loathe to leave his presence, even though his life was gone.
Should he climb on the pyre beside him perhaps? Give the ferryman four coins instead of two, trade in their glory here for glory below. Was there anything left for him here? A cold, hollow revenge and more blood on his hands? A battle that he no longer cared the outcome of? A battle he could well die during anyway. They would never have their glory now. Even if the battle was won and he was crowned a hero, it would be a mantle he’d have to bear alone, knowing it came at this price.
Achilles laid his head down on the sand, closing his eyes to a dawn that wouldn’t be held back for anyone. He knew that the light of day would make him think more clearly and he didn’t want that just yet.