Achilles, perhaps the greatest warrior that Sparta had ever seen, finished strapping Hector's body to his war-chariot. The arrogant Trojan general would suffer, even in death, for the slaying of Patrochlus, perhaps the only man Achilles had ever loved as a brother; certainly the only one who had still lived.

Mounting the chariot, he began to drive around the walls of Troy, whipping his horses into a furious frenzy. The dust rose like pillars behind his wheels. The Trojans struck up a lament, the voices of King Priam and Hector's brother Paris keening above the others, but Achilles paid them no mind. Around and around he circled, relentlessly, the corpse thudding and scraping along the rough, battle-torn ground. Only when it was unrecognizable did he call for a stop, his horses frothing with exhaustion, and pull the leather bindings free of the vehicle.

Later, after Achilles had acceded to the request of Patrochlus' ghost and arranged grand funeral games in his memory, King Priam personally appeared at his tent. "Please, great warrior, I do not come to ask a very great thing of you. I seek only the return of my son's remains. I cannot bear to know that he has been treated so poorly, that he may not rest in the soil of his homeland. I offer you whatever riches you may desire, within reason, to ransom that which I mourn so deeply."

Sneering bitterly, but close to tears, Achilles asked, "At what price may I ransom back the life of my dearest friend, whom your offspring dispatched so callously?"

"I cannot speak for my son's actions, except to say that this is a war, and we have all suffered. And also, he meant no malice towards your friend; for it was you whom he imagined he battled, and a great compliment it is to Patrochlus that Hector thought his fighting equal to your own."

"Take the body, if you can still tell it apart from the others. I want nothing more to do with such carrion. But I will take your wealth for it, since I can only imagine that it was stolen from King Menelaus by your other son when he fled with Menelaus' wife."

He watched the aging king return to Troy with a heavy heart. The vengeance felt hollow, but he did not know how he could further appease Patrochlus, nor heap greater honor upon his sacrifice.


Ancient Armaments