Chapter 1: Troy
To the north of Greece ruled a self made king called Erestus. At first Agamemnon sought to rule him as he did other men, but in Erestus he found an indomitable force he had not reckoned on. Three times did Erestus and his warriors defeat Agamemnon and his army, three times did Erestus drive them back. When at last Agamemnon came to terms that Erestus could not be ruled by force of arms he chose a different tactic to gain use of him.
Meeting Erestus in the mountains North of Greece that was the home of the strange warrior king a pact was formed. Agamemnon would pay for the use of Erestus and his army and they would take part in the spoils of war like any other Greek soldier. The Eres as they came to be called fought for Agamemnon bringing him many victories in Greece. When all was said and done Erestus and his army returned home leaving Agamemnon King of Greece. When Helen wife of Menelaus who was the brother of Agamemnon was taken to Troy Agamemnon called for Erestus to come to his aid but the Erestus did not. "You have your kingdom Agamemnon. I have done my part. Now leave me in peace." Erestus sent to him. "You will come because I have need of you. There are many riches in Troy. Fight for me and you can take them. If need be I will give you Troy itself. Come for we will find glory and honor there." Agamemnon said. "King Priam has never brought any harm upon me. He has not threatened me or been the cause of any ill will. I have no quarrel with him. My pact with you is for Greece and that for that alone. You offer me a city that would see burned and pillaged for Priam is an old rival of yours. I want no part of this conquest but I shall come but not to conquer. I will come to see that Troy is not burned, and its people not carried away. From nearby I shall witness your siege of Troy. Deal with me falsely and I shall aid them I promise you. If you show that you intend to keep your promise my army will aid yours when I deem the time has come, but remember the promise you gave. The lives of Priam and all his people are mine to deal with. Should I aid you I will claim them all. Gold you may have as well as whatever riches you can find but the people and the city itself are mine." Erestus replied and Agamemnon agreed.
When Hector saw the Greek ships approach a beach a second messenger told him that another army was camped northeast of Troy but they were making no move to attack. "What are they doing?" Hector asked his dark brown hair and beard waving in the wind. "They are camped and building fortifications it seems. They are just sitting there and are not advancing. What shall we do Prince Hector?" The messenger asked. "Have you told my father?" Hector asked. The messenger nodded replying, "He said to ask you. You are the commander of our army." Thinking for a few moments Hector said, "Send messages to their commander and ask his business here. I have no doubt it has to do with the Greeks but let us be sure of his intentions." The messenger bowed and left. The messenger who had first come to Hector about the new arrival returned with little. The entire day Hector had been busy fighting off the Greeks and the other army had not moved. "What did he say?" Hector asked. "He is Erestus King of Eres. He has come to see that Agamemnon does not bring unnecessary harm to Troy's people or the city itself. Until he is sure of this he waits." The messenger said. Hector was unsure how to act in this situation. Counseling with his father and the King's advisers he sought the reason for the other King's delay. "Why does he care and why does he wait?" Hector asked. "I have heard of Erestus. He has no wife or children of any kind. He is a self made man who built a kingdom and became rich fighting wars. He first fought Agamemnon and was never defeated only to join him in conquering Greece." Priam said. "He sounds like a common warlord to me father." Hector said not liking the view he saw of the man. "Do not be too hard on him son. The fact that he has not fought for the Greeks yet says something. I have also read reports that he came here only reluctantly. Agamemnon had to have said something very interesting even for Erestus to come. He could have just as easily have stayed in Eres and risked nothing. I have no doubt that he is hesitating on something. Perhaps you should speak to him. Erestus is an honorable man who will not attack an enemy under a banner of truce unless his enemy breaks it." Priam replied patiently. Hector agreed and rode out to meet Erestus.
Riding into the fort Erestus had ordered built from logs cut to make walls and dwellings inside Hector met a man in black armor. "Show me to your master. I would speak of him." Hector said. The man looked like all the other armored men beside him. His face was well covered by the helm he carried and he bore a shield, sword, and a long spear. The shield he wore at his back. Hector noted that the metal of his armament was not bronze but another metal. This was also true of the other men of the camp.
"I will show you to the tent you speak of. The rest of these men will see to your horses and companions." The man said indicating the guards eyeing him. Training and experience had taught them not to trust. Many had wanted to kill their leader, and they were determined for such people to fail as they always had before.
As Hector walked with his one man escort the escort said, "What is your business with the King if I may ask?" Glancing at him Hector replied, "I wish to learn more about him. My father seems to think highly of him. I am not so sure that I trust his intentions or his word. I have come to find out for myself." Chuckling at this the escort said, "So you walk into the Lion's den. You are either brave or extremely foolish." Arriving at the tent Hector found it empty except for the escort and himself. "Where is your King? Is this some trap?" Hector asked his hand going to his sword handle. Raising a hand to halt him the escort said, "Be still Hector Prince of Troy. I wish you no harm, the fact that I did not kill you when you entered my camp so attest to that." Hector's hand moved away from his blade as he said, "Your camp? Then that means you are Erestus." Chuckling again Erestus replied, "Yes I am. Now that you have seen me ask your question." Getting over his shock Hector asked, "You spoke of a keeping Agamemnon from harming the people of Troy. Why should that matter to a warlord?" Erestus raised an eyebrow replying, "I'm not sure I like your tone." Thinking about his father's advice Hector apologized saying, "I'm meant no insult but you understand my concerns." Nodding Erestus said, "Of course. In truth I watching to see what Agamemnon will do first. You no doubt see my dilemma as well: If I join either side I make war with the other. I am only one king prudence dictates that I choose carefully."
Hector couldn't fault Erestus for his line of thinking, though having met the man he would have rather have had Erestus on his side. Priam had been right about the man. Erestus was delaying but for a specific purpose. One side would have to force his hand if Erestus was to become involved soon, but Hector did not intend to be that man. Something told him that Agamemnon would be the one, the question was when?
The answer would come sooner than either man might have expected. Agamemnon heard of Hector's visit to Erestus from his scouts and immediately went to meet the King of Eres. Meeting in front of Erestus' tent Agamemnon accused him. "Why do you consort with my enemy? Are you planning to betray me? Your actions are those of a traitor and a dishonorable man! We had an agreement!" Agamemnon shouted. With a deadly calm Erestus said, "If I were a dishonorable man I would have you killed right now." With a snap of his fingers armed men surrounded Agamemnon and his small escort with weapons drawn. As Agamemnon and his men drew their swords they realized that this could be the last moments. Holding up his hand Erestus held halted his men. "But lucky for you I am an honorable man. I have kept neutral until this moment, but no one threatens me especially not in front of my own tent. Because of that I'll allow you to leave my camp safely, but do not test my good will. From now on consider me your enemy and our pact officially over." Erestus said with venom in his voice while his face remained a cold hard mask. As Agamemnon left Erestus called for a messenger. "Tell King Priam that he now has a new ally in his war whether he likes it or not." Erestus said. All of his men looking at their king were glad that they were not the focus of his foul mood.
Erestus entered Troy with an escort close behind. The gates closed behind as he rode into the city streets and up to the palace. He was greeted on the steps by Hector along with his brother Paris and Helen of Troy: the woman who started the conflict. Paris was a handsome dark haired boy small and boyish in body. Helen was the picture of Blonde beauty. Her golden blonde hair was done up in lovely Braids. A white dress of fine linen hung on her body. He had a slender figure that could any man's eye along with the face of an angel. "Greetings King Erestus. The woman beside me is..." Paris said. "... Is Helen. The one they say is the most beautiful woman in Greece." Erestus said cutting him off. Glancing at her he looked at Paris with disdain. "If it were up to me boy I would give her back to the Greeks if I thought it would end this war. Lucky for you it was the excuse Agamemnon needed to destroy Troy, and not the sole purpose of his being here. Now Prince Hector I would speak with you and your father and leave such foolishness to children." Erestus said walking past Paris. Paris bowed his head in shame while Helen comforted him in her arms. Erestus' words stung them both revealing that only too late had they had considered the consequences of their actions. Now because of them Troy could fall to the Greeks, and dealing with such superior numbers that seemed entirely possible.
Erestus gave his counsel aiding in the planning against the invaders. Walking through the city he began looking it over. "What are you looking at?" Hector asked. "The most ideal places to place catapults and siege weapons to defend Troy. It is time to further lessen our enemy's numbers without risking either of our armies. Once we have them setup you will see what they can do." Erestus said. Erestus as Hector found was certainly a man of his word. With the aid of Eres engineers who were part of Erestus' army they placed them throughout the city. With the first barrage hit the Greeks they ran to get out of range. After that they were hesitant to venture too close as more rocks seemed to strike them as well as any other projectiles the allied defenders could muster. Greek morale suffered as more and more of them fell without even coming close to the walls. Those that did fell to arrows from archers from the wall as well as ballistae firing large harpoon like projectiles made of steel piercing men and armor. Burning hot oil poured from the walls scalding them by the hundreds.
Priam's advisers called for an attack. "That would be unwise. We can defend Troy. What need have we to risk all? If we leave them be lessening morale will do our work for us." Erestus said. "We respect your counsel Erestus. It has proven invaluable thus far, but we must end this war once and for all. Now we have a chance to do while the Greeks are weak. We must drive them from our shores or this war will go on for years." Priam said rising from his throne. "Will you help us King Erestus?" Priam asked. "So be it, but I still abject to it. I tie my fortune and that of my army to Troy." Erestus said. It was then that Paris approached Hector and Erestus saying, "I am coming with you. Too long have I let others fight a war I am responsible for."
"You show bravery lad, but you are also foolhardy. It is bad enough to risk one prince of Troy. To risk two especially when the second is inexperienced is too much, besides your new wife would miss you." Erestus said. "She is not my wife, not yet. When this war is over perhaps we will. The trouble is will she marry a coward or a man who fought for the people he put in danger? I am no hero. I just want to look her in the eye one day and not be ashamed of who I am." Paris said. It was obvious Hector did not like putting his younger brother in danger. "You can't protect him forever Prince Hector. The boy must grow up some time." Erestus said.
The attack came at dawn. The Trojan and Eres used the cover of dark to approach the Greek camp. Launching their attack Hector, and Erestus killed many men making their way deep into the Greek camp. There Hector killed Patroclus friend of Achilles who was leading the Myrmidons. Achilles refused to lead them into a battle because Agamemnon had demanded that Achilles turn over his slave Briseis to the King whom he loved. Patroclus had been given permission to lead his men the Myrmidons by Achilles himself.
Erestus found his own Greek hero to fight. Ajax was a mighty warrior who had a huge frame and was very tall. His strength, stamina, and courage were already legend among the Greeks. As Erestus approached Ajax picked up and heaved a large rock at him. Erestus barely dodge the rock nearly crushing him. Hurling his spear he watched as it pierced Ajax's stomach. Grunting in pain he grasped the spear shaft wrenching the blade free. The scuffle of feet was only as Erestus' sword slashed his leg before whirling around and giving a cut to his back. Growling in pain Ajax struck at him with the spear but Erestus was in too close. Dodging inside his guard Erestus thrust into the large man's throat. Choking on his own blood Ajax fell to earth never to rise again. Retrieving his spear Erestus joined his retreating men and Trojan allies. Before dieing Patroclus had succeeded in defending the Greek camp and driving the attackers back to Troy. Paris fell at the hand of Menelaus husband of Helen the woman Paris had eloped with. Erestus found Menelaus standing over his body and slew him. Erestus as well as all the people of Troy mourned his loss.
Achilles was enraged at the death of his friend and rejoined the fight against the Trojans. He wanted vengeance against Hector and challenged him to fight. Hector had only just buried his brother when he received word of the challenge and girded himself for battle. Erestus and Hector in the past year had become good friends often watching the other's back when in battle. Erestus had saved his life more times than he could count and rarely needed much protection. The man was swift and deadly on the battlefield felling men left and right with enormous stamina and focus. When Erestus offered to walk him to the gates it did not seem so strange. "How many battles have we been through in this war together you and I Hector?" Erestus asked donned in full armor just as Hector was and carrying his usual weaponry. They walked towards the gate as Hector thought on this. "More times than I care to count. I thank you for your support. My people and I owe you much. I trust you whole heartedly to protect my family and my people should I fall here." Hector said as they stood before the gate. He had removed his helmet looking up the blue sky above as if it would be his last time. "Then I am sorry for this." Erestus said. Before Hector could ask why a right hook spun him before he fell unconscious to the ground. "Farewell my friend. Should I fall protect my men as if they were your own. I will not see you fall this day. Through Troy has hope, and I will not deprive this world of men like you if I can help it. I hope that when this is all said and done you understand why I had to do this and don't feel betrayed by my actions. Your safety is my chief concern Prince of Troy." Erestus said and with that he ordered the gates opened as guards rushed to aid Hector and bring him back to the palace. Many men thanked Erestus as he strode out to meet his destiny but his only thoughts at that moment were on the blonde Achilles waiting for him outside.
"Where is Hector? Is he such a coward that he does not face me himself and sends another to do his battles?" Achilles shouted. "Hector is unable to battle through no fault of his own. If you have any quarrel it is with me. With this spear I killed Ajax a member of your family. He died honorably just as Patroclus did at Hector's hands. We have both caused you equal hurt. I am Erestus King of Eres. Do you still desire battle Achilles of Greece or do you withdraw?" Erestus said calmly in response. "I will fight you Erestus. Let Hector hear of his ally's fall before his own end at my hand." Achilles said. Squaring off the two men test each other at first before they both charged towards each other striking with their spears. Erestus' spear stuck in Achilles shield weighing him down so he was forced to toss it aside. Achilles spear in turn broke in turn. Before Erestus could draw his sword Achilles leapt at him grappling with him. In the scuffle Erestus lost his shield but managed to fight Achilles off. The two men wrestled for what seemed like an eternity but neither was gaining an advantage. Drawing their swords they struck at each other still winded. While Achilles skill allowed him to dodge many hits none of his could pierce Erestus' armor even if he managed to get through Erestus' guard. In the end both were pouring with sweat and barely able to stand. Their swords were gripped in arms and hands exhausted by their lengthy dual. "I have never found a man my equal in arms." Achilles said shocked that his opponent was still alive. "Nor have I." Erestus replied eyeing him. His surprise was equally evident that Achilles had survived. "It seems fortune or the heavens do not desire that one be the victor over the other. Perhaps we should join forces against a common foe. I have no love for Agamemnon." Achilles said catching his breath just as Erestus was doing. Both sheathed their swords. "I would rather fight with you great Achilles then against you quite frankly. I would be glad to have my wish." Erestus said offering his support. Together the two battered men entered Troy as new companions and fast growing friends. Secretly the Myrmidons joined Achilles in Troy and Agamemnon was furious when he heard about it. He had expected the killing of Hector not the loss of Achilles to his enemies along with Achilles fierce warriors. The Greek soldiers did not like the idea of facing all three heroes and became more and more reluctant to fight. Another year past with the Greeks rarely gathering the courage to mount a few attacks against the walls of Troy, or Erestus' camp. Erestus had long since moved his camp near to Troy's east wall so the two fortifications could protect each other. Troy's siege weapons protected the warriors and engineers as they worked from enemy attack. Now with solid fort Erestus and his army could simply hide inside their fort with less casualties inflicted to their side and be able to attack the enemy from the safety of their fort.
It was during this lull in action that Erestus stood upon the wall as he had so many times looking towards the sea. The approach of a woman caused him to turn his head. Helen was the one approaching along the walkway. "Never thanked you for your condolences or for your doctors." Helen said. "You were unwell. I thought it best that someone look after you. While I mean no offense against Trojan doctors, in my experience their medical knowledge is limited in comparison." Erestus replied. As she stood before him Helen looked into his eyes. She seemed so soft and delicate. It took enormous will not to get lost in her beautiful blue eyes. Lucky for Erestus it was a will he had built over many lifetimes so he didn't succumb to temptation and perhaps kiss her right there. Looking at the sea just as Erestus had done Helen said, "I don't know what I will do when this war is over. I have lost all I have loved. Paris is gone and I cannot return to Sparta for I will surely be killed if they learned that I was a willingly brought here. The people of Troy have been kind to me but I would not wish to be a burden on them especially after this."
"You could return with us to Eres. Beauty such as yours would be welcome there. Many men would glad ask your hand in marriage and you could chose your husband. Our customs are different there. There a man rises and falls by his own hand. It was the city I hoped to create. We are professional warriors all of us. It is the focus of our culture. It was what was so attractive to Agamemnon: An entire society with army truly skilled in the art of war and trained in a professional military academy. We are not amateurs. Every one of us has seen battle, and been tested in the fire. My men trust me and I them. I did not bring them here lightly and they would follow me anywhere. When this is over we will return to Eres and our futures will be secure. The Greek army camped out there now threatens not only your people but mine. My men will be happy to return to their families." Erestus said. "Thank you for your kind offer. How is that you have no wife, no family?" Helen asked. She found his presence comforting. Deep inside she wanted to know more about him. At first glance he seemed so rough around the edges but as he saw him day after day talking to her doctors when she had been sick with mourning he began to grow on her.
"I have not had the time. I created a kingdom at the edge of a sword and with alliances. Fighting for the Greeks my influence grew and so did my kingdom. I am not against having a family, but I will wait until this is over." Erestus said. It was defining moment in their relationship. Their love for each other grew over time and only the war kept it from deepening to the point where they could declare it openly.
Achilles insight and prowess aided the Trojans enough that with the added support of Erestus they discovered the trap of the Trojan Horse. "Why would Agamemnon send a gift?" Achilles said. Erestus agreed, "It does seem strange perhaps the horse should be checked." On further inspection they found the trap door and the Greek soldiers inside including Achilles friend Odysseus King of Ithaca. "I should have guessed a brilliant and daring plan such as this came from you." Achilles said. "The question is what do we do with the information?" Hector said. "I have an idea..." Erestus began. That night the gates of Troy opened and Agamemnon led his troops inside expecting to mount a surprise attack. What he found was an ambush as Trojans dressed in Greek armor closed the gates behind him and sealed them. Trojans and Eres warriors poured into the streets surrounding them. Agamemnon and his troops fought to the last man while the rest of the invaders tried desperately to get inside to no avail. Agamemnon was killed by a Trojan arrow and the Greeks outside quickly retreated to Greece defeated. The captured Greeks themselves were released so they too could return home. Priam was not a vengeful man and too many lives were lost already. He felt no need to add to them. Helen returned to Eres with Erestus and the two kings forged a lasting alliance between their two nations. Achilles became his head general and both men planned further conquests together. In the following year Erestus along with Achilles returned to Greece with a large army from an even greater Eres, and conquered Greece. Helen and Erestus raised a family together and had many children. When at last Helen died a grandmother Erestus retired from public office handing thing over to his son Paris a dark haired intellectual who was ready to be king. When the portal came he was ready to step through and disappeared.