“I have no idea what irks me more – that we were thrown out of their city, or that their cowardly prince has my sword and bow!” Glorfindel turned around and hit the door of the city with both fists in a fit of anger.
“Be grateful we were thrown out in a state better than that of our companion.” Erestor looked around for things to be used to create some sort of a stretcher. There were three of them left outside of the city, though their companion had already expired much earlier in the day. Wrapped in linens to keep the flies from their goal, the body of Achilles was slumped against the wall of the city.
Glorfindel stepped away from the walls and looked them up and down. “Instead of telling him of his heritage, I should have asked him how he made it over the wall.”
“We can go to the River Styx later and see if we can catch him before he sails.”
“Not funny, love.” Glorfindel turned to watch his companion. “What are you doing?”
“Looking for things I can use.” Erestor had gathered a half dozen broken spears long enough for his purpose and a pair of battered shields. “He is all muscle; too heavy for us to carry all the way to the camp.”
“I thought we could just roll him down,” suggested Glorfindel.
Erestor flicked Glorfindel behind the ear as he passed by. “Now you are the one being ridiculous.”
Glorfindel smiled. “If we get out of this, I promise never to interfere with your plans. If you say we go to Persia, we go to Persia. If you say we go to Kemet, we go to Kemet.”
“First, let us go to the Achaean camp,” said Erestor as he hastily built the simple stretcher upon which they would pull the body of Achilles. “Your friend is starting to get a stench about him.”
The better part of the morning was spent dragging Achilles to the encampment. It would not have taken so long had they not both been exhausted from the events of the previous night. Most of the journey was spent with Erestor silently contemplative, and Glorfindel cursing and muttering his luck at losing his weapons.
Upon crossing onto the beach where the Achaeans had their operations set up, they were almost immediately surrounded by a group of warriors. Erestor raised his hands in supplication; this was not the first time in his long life that they had walked into an unfamiliar or enemy occupied area, and his speech was well-practiced. “We have no quarrel with you and come to you in peace. My friend and I are unarmed.” Erestor almost laughed to himself at that point; it was the only time thus far that Glorfindel truly had been unarmed. “We request an audience with your leader.”
“With whose leader?” An average-looking man with a neat beard and trimmed hair casually approached them. “We all fight for the pride and honor of Menelaus, but our lords and kings differ. Separate, but united.” He unsheathed his sword casually as he passed through the circle of gathered warriors and stood in front of Erestor. “To what end would you speak to someone?”
“We have come to return the body of your champion.” Glorfindel motioned towards the body. “Achilles.”
The sword that had been drawn swiftly found its place beneath Glorfindel’s chin. “Killed by you?”
“No. This deed was done by Paris, son of Priam.”
“Paris?” The man laughed, but held his blade steady. “Paris, son of Priam? There is no chance of that!”
Erestor made to move to the body, but was stopped when two of the soldiers blocked his path, closing in on the strangers. “I suggest you look at the corpse. His foot is wounded and he bled to death. It was not in battle that he was killed, but as Achilles was being... questioned... after he entered the city and was... temporarily subdued.”
“Odysseus? It may be a trap,” warned one of the soldiers. “The mere thought of Paris killing Achilles—“
“It was prophesized so,” reminded Odysseus. “Not in battle was he to die, and Paris would be so cowardly. Unwrap the body, Sinon.”
The soldier knelt and unwrapped the linens, revealing the beautiful face, eyes closed as if only sleeping. The armor had been left on the body so as not to sully him as he had done to Hektor; when the legs were revealed, so, too, was the wound. “It is as he says.”
“Now that we have delivered your comrade, we shall take our leave,” said Erestor, but no one stepped aside to give them leave to go.
Odysseus kept his blade against Glorfindel’s throat. “You just came from the direction of Troy. What purpose did you have there?”
“We were sent by the gods,” blurted out Glorfindel before Erestor had a chance to think of a better answer than ‘We accidentally wandered in.’ “Apollo was aggrieved by the deeds of Achilles and therefore we were sent to keep watch upon the walls.”
“Who are you that the gods would call upon you for such a deed?” demanded Odysseus.
They already had one foot in, so Erestor decided to jump the rest of the way. “We are what your people call nymphs,” he said, and he pushed back the hair that covered his ears. “We humbly serve Artemis, but in this time of need, her brother was given leave to use us as he saw fit.”
“Nymphs? You seem a bit odd for nymphs,” answered Odysseus, seeming amused. “Mainly, you seem to be the wrong gender.”
“Do you truly believe that there are no male nymphs?” asked Erestor, giving Odysseus a look that was wrathful.
“I have seen many nymphs, but never one who is male,” Odysseus replied.
“And just how do you think baby nymphs are born? Certainly, not everyone can be springing fully grown from someone’s head,” Erestor admonished. This granted laughter from a few of the soldiers gathered around them, and Odysseus lowered his blade.
“I will allow the benefit of believing you if you can answer my next question. If you were sent by your mistress and master to watch over Troy, what are you doing here?”
“That I can answer,” said Glorfindel. “We have been rejected from the city by King Priam. While Achilles was being questioned, my friend tried to wrestle the bow from Paris that was used to wound Achilles. After the arrow hit, it was I who tried to staunch the wound. Look for yourselves; a part of my cape is torn away,” said Glorfindel, lifting up the side of his cloak that was frayed. “You will find that missing piece to be the tourniquet which I tried to apply to the wound before I was pulled away by King Priam’s soldiers.”
“He speaks the truth,” said Sinon as he lifted up the blood-soaked piece of cloth and matched it to the part that had been torn from Glorfindel’s cape.
Odysseus nodded and looked appeased as he sheathed his sword. “You are a healer, then?”
“I am most at home healing plants and trees, but I have often tended to men and animals,” Glorfindel replied.
“And you?” He pointed to Erestor.
Now that they were knee-deep, it was hard to step back. Scribes were not among the compliments of Apollo or Artemis, and Erestor had to think quickly to come up with a suitable purpose for himself. The thought of his hobby when he had lived in Rivendell came to mind, and he said, “I live by the river, and I delight in making crafts of clay for—“
“You are a sculptor?” Odysseus made a motion for the soldiers to clear a path in the direction of his tent. “Come; there is work to be done. What are your names?”
“I am Epeios, and this is Glorfinnius,” answered Erestor quickly with the pseudonyms they had chosen for this land they were in.
“Follow me, Epeios. The gods have smiled upon us in sending you here today.”