The Plains of Troy
Dust hung in the air, kicked up by the feet of an army. Polomedes rubbed his nose and sighed. He hated this dry and dusty plain more than he had ever hated anywhere. It had been eight years camped outside Troy. Eight years away from his wife and child – all because Menelaus couldn’t keep his own wife.
Polomedes stopped and took a long drink of water from his canteen, then poured a little of the precious liquid into his hand and used it to wash the dust from his face. He didn’t know why he bothered – his face would be coated again in moments. He lowered the canteen and continued his inspection of the perimeter of the camp.
The army had long since grown lax in their security. The Trojans seemed content to stay inside their walls, sending the occasional volley of arrows towards the Achaeans but rarely venturing out. All around the ragged edges of the camp lived the camp-followers, those who did not fight but followed the army. Polomedes would send them all away if he could but he did not command here.
The soldier rounded a wall of tents housing camp followers to see that they backed up to a scraggly wall of bushes.
Who allowed this? he thought, angrily. Allowing the camp to spread so close to cover was practically inviting outsiders in. Polomedes drew his sword and swung it at the bushes, heedless of the damage that might be done to his blade. As he hacked away, he imagined fighting the Trojans, freeing the Lady Helen so they could all go home at last. He got increasingly agitated and came back to himself only when he was sweating and panting.
As he stood there, bent over and trying to catch his breath, he noticed movement on the other side of the remaining bushes. He crept through, hoping to surprise an enemy, someone to fight! Instead he saw a maiden, fair of face and form. She was dressed in the style of the Trojans and had a brace of hares slung over her shoulder. She stood before him, frozen as a deer before a hunter. Polomedes stepped towards her, though whether to challenge or protect her, he wasn’t sure.
“Paul Cairns, have you been listening to a word I’ve said?”
Paul blinked. The camp was gone. He was back in his history classroom, the warm sun beating down on his back and making him dozy. Kelly had turned around in her seat and was watching him, an amused smile on her face.
“Well, Mr Cairns? How long were the Achaeans camped outside the walls of Troy?”
“Ten years, sir,” Paul answered without hesitation.
Mr Atkinson gave him a long look. “Indeed. Do try not to daydream so obviously in my class in future.”
“Yes, sir.’ Paul blushed and tried to avoid Kelly’s eyes as Mr Atkinson turned to face the rest of the class.
“Who can tell me what happened in the tenth year of the siege?” the teacher asked.
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