Ten years of hard living, of hunger, disease and fighting, constant, bloody fighting and look where it had got him; inside a huge wooden horse. It was stuffy, cramped, hot and it smelled terrible. Yet for all this it was deadly silent within; no one dared to move a single muscle. Even though his body screamed in silent pain and with his entire left-side asleep, Aeolis wouldn’t so much as budge. After all the suffering and heartache, they finally had this one chance to win the war and no one was going to do anything that might jeopardize that potential victory.
When he had first set sail with a thousand ships filled determined Greeks, they had believed themselves to be invincible. They had great heroes numbered among them; Ajax, Menelaus, Agamemnon, Odysseus, Hercules and Achilles himself. It had not seemed possible for them to lose. Ten years of constant struggle had humbled them greatly. Ajax was dead, Menelaus too and the great Achilles, killer of Hector had been felled by a mere arrow to the foot. Agamemnon, once seen as a great king and leader by his loyal warriors, had now become nothing more than one man among many.
Aeolis had started out as a foot-soldier, but by the favor of the gods he had survived and slowly worked his way up through the ranks. It was a great honor for him to have been chosen by the wily Odysseus himself to head up the force that would fill the wooden horse.
Their task was to wait silently within until the horse was drawn into the city of Troy and for the celebrations of the supposed Trojan victory to wane. Then when everyone was either asleep or passed out from the drink, Aeolis and his men would make their move. Creeping out of the hollow statue, they would climb to the top of the city walls, kill any guards on duty and then open the gate to let in their fellow Greeks who, after having apparently retreated onto their ships, would have turned around and sailed back while the Trojans partied.
The Trojans had pulled the horse into Troy and the drink had flowed, but the party was still far from over. Aeolis and his group had been inside the horse since before dawn and night had already fallen. He began to wonder if any of them would be able to walk when they finally crawled out.
Part of him felt as though this was a dishonest trick and he had felt that way from the moment that he had heard Odysseus’ plan. The Aeolis of ten years ago would never have agreed to such an underhanded tactic, but after a decade of war, that Aeolis was long gone. Now all he wanted was to go home, get married, settle down and never have to pick up a sword again.
Finally, the sounds of revelry faded and the bonfires died down to glowing embers. The increasingly bawdier songs that had rung through the city throughout the day faded and peace temporarily reigned in the streets of Troy for the first time in ten years.
It was time; Aeolis gently unlatched the hidden door and pressed it open. With an extraordinary effort he and his men uncurled their bodies and one by one snuck out into the cool, night air. Pausing to listen, Aeolis took a deep breathe and letting it ease back out of his lungs, he lifted his hand and motioned for the men to climb the inner stairs of the walls of Troy.
Soon, he thought, soon this hell will at last end. He was one step closer to home.
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