Love & War 3: Morning Omens
Title: Morning Omens Series: Love and War III Author: Tanith Rating: G Genre: angst? supernatural? Fandom: Troy/Iliad Pairings: Achilles/Patroclus (implied) Warnings: slash (implied)
Author's notes: Um... yeah... don't kill me for this part yet until the next installment or two come up. Things will be explained there, hopefully. This is more a setup/bridging fic than anything else. Though you could probably draw a whole bunch of conclusions from it.
Timeline note: This takes place later in the morning after Achilles gives the order for the Myrmidons to prepare for home.
Summary: Patroclus isn't happy that Achilles ordered the ships to prepare for home. While he's moping on the beach, a strange encounter with the old seer Calchas leaves him with a few words of cryptic advice.
The pounding surf sounded like mocking laughter to Patroclus, where it had lulled and cheered but the day before. Furiously, he tossed another stone far out into the foamy waters, where it plummeted and sank quickly out of sight, mirroring his mood of the morning.
Why had Achilles order to depart? What of glory and immortality? What of their fellow Greeks who had lost so badly without the Myrmidons and their leader? Certainly, he had not seen Agamemnon come to beg forgiveness, but he had seen Odysseus at camp, and--
"Oh the mighty shall fall."
The words intruded his reverie and took him by surprise, moreso because he did not recognize the voice. Patroclus spun around, dropping the stones he held as he reflexively readied himself for an attack, in case this was some clever Trojan scout. But when he his eyes followed the voice to its owner, he only saw an old man leaning on a wooden stick taller than he was.
"Who are you?" Patroclus called out, relaxing his vigilance but a little, though he made up for his remaining wariness with a respectful tone.
"Calchas, Thestor's son, far the best of the bird interpreters, who reads omens from the gods for kings and lords."
"Calchas the blameless seer?" Patroclus relaxed his stance completely, his wariness now turning to confusion. "Why are you here?"
"To bring you an omen, son of Menoetius, if you would heed me."
"I'm no lord, What omen would there be for me?" Patroclus protested, wondering if the seer had come for the wrong man. A chill of forboding unaccountably crept up the back of his spine. Still, it was best to be polite to a seer. "But I will listen," he added.
Calchas continued as if he had not been interrupted. "You are no lord, but you love and are much loved by your cousin. His moment of glory is close."
Patroclus frowned. He didn't need the seer to tell him that. He knew perfectly well the measure of affection shared between Achilles and himself, and he was just as confident of his beloved cousin's performance in combat. Well, if he stayed. "Why tell me, seer?" Patroclus asked bewilderedly. Was Calchas trying to tell him that the Myrmidons should stay? "I don't make decisions for Achilles."
Calchas remained undaunted. "You make decisions for yourself. There is a way to spur Achilles of the swift foot into battle once more without loss to his honor."
It seemed too good to be true. Patroclus stared at the man, who did not seem to be jesting, and a spark of suspicion stirred in his mind. "Did Agamemnon send you?" he demanded, "Odysseus?"
Calchas sighed. "Agamemnon would rather I did not come with his ships, so little of good omens I can offer him. Nor does the son of Laeretes command me."
Well, if the seer truly had an answer to his prayers, and did not speak on behalf of those who would try and sway him with ulterior motives, then Patroclus would be only too glad to hear it. "Then what is this way you speak of?" he ased Calchas, "pray speak!"
But instead of replying directly, Calchas sidestepped the request with a question of his own. "What price would you pay that your lord and fellow soldiers have a quick and glorious end to this war?"
"What price?" Patroclus didn't even need to deliberate on that score. Either of the two goals was of great worth in his eyes. "I would give anything."
"Even your very life? The chance for your own future should you return alive?"
"I... yes." Dying here on this battlefield would be no less honorable than dying on another battlefield. But what did that have to do with--
"Then you should have your answer." With that, Calchas turned and walked away.
Patroclus stared after the old man for a moment, still in confusion. It was as if they had two completely different conversations with the same words. "Wait!" he called after Calchas, "I don't understand!"
Calchas' slow ambling paused at the cry, and the man turned. His eyes seemed fey in the sun and spray. "I see that Troy will fall after her mightiest son has fallen. You would do well to remember that when the Trojans attack ere Eos' first light." He turned again, their conversation over.
Patroclus stared at the departing form. Was that a prophetic warning then? Strangely, the words that Achilles spoke to him yesterday echoed in his mind. I doubt that any among the Trojans save Hector can best you in single combat. Giving the departing seer one last look, Patroclus hurried back toward the Myrmidon camp. He had much to think about.
As soon as Patroclus had left earshot, Calchas paused his steps. His chin lifted and his eyes closed, as if seeing something beyond human ken. Softly, he murmured to no one at all, "and so you find your fame, high-hearted Patroclus, beloved of lion-hearted Achilles."