Achilles roared with anger. "After
the theft of Briseis, after the endless insults that have been heaped upon me,
you not only continue to fight alongside them; you would do so in my own armor?
You're as much a fool as Agamemnon if you think
I'd agree to such a ploy."
"He did offer her return, and kingly compensation besides."
"He's desperate, not apologetic. He can see the error of his ways now that his greed has lost the war for him. I'll have none of it."
"These are your countrymen, Achilles. You would let them perish?"
"This war is already over, Patrochlus. It was doomed from the start. The sooner Agamemnon realizes that, the fewer Greeks will die and the sooner we can return. Our homeland calls to us. We cannot sit camped outside of Troy's walls forever."
"The soldiers are losing hope, and you know that Menelaus will not relent until he has his wife once again. They need something to give them hope. The Trojans are going to burn our ships otherwise, and then how will any of us journey home? I do not ask you for so very much - only that I might present your image to the Myrmidons, and thereby save those who have toiled for ten long and bloody years from disaster."
Achilles shook his head. "Fine. But I do this for you, Patrochlus, not for any of the imbeciles who are captaining this fool's errand; and I ask one thing of you - return when you have rescued our ships. Do not press your advantage. I have lost enough here already; I could hardly bear to lose you as well." With that, the warrior turned away, tending bitterly to his small fire.
Patrochlus wished to respond, but knew the other man well enough to understand that the conversation was over, and must remain so. Instead, he walked across the tent, gazing upon the burnished bronze that lay stacked to one side of it. He ran one finger slowly across the crest of the helmet, strangely elated and entirely terrified. So unspeakably much depended upon him now; and, shivering, he felt a grim certainty about the day that was to come. He could play the part of Achilles; even if it killed him, he could be that strong. He was certain of it.