The games had begun. In the glorious amphitheater of Sparta, Tyndareus and the boys sat and watched as Helen’s suitors raced chariots, fought wild beasts, and sparred with one another, all in one great big bloody battle royale.
The old king looked away just in time to avoid seeing a lion chomp its fearsome jaws down on Aristonymos the Awesome’s head.
“Oooh,” Odysseus said as he tossed some popcorn into his mouth. “That’s gotta hurt.”
“This is revolting, Odysseus,” the king said. “Shouldn’t we put a stop to this?”
“Ehh,” Odysseus said. “We could but the more dummies the lions eat, the less dummies you have to interview.”
The king shook his head. “Carry on.”
A giant of a man swung a battle axe that was so heavy only a man of great size could wield it. He used it to lop off heads and limbs as he pushed his way through the onslaught of warriors.
“My gods,” Castor said. “Is that….”
Odysseus grinned. “Ajax!”
The warrior looked up from battle and acknowledged the royalty with a nod.
“Ajax the Great!” Odysseus called. “Get your ass up here!”
Ajax sighed. As he lumbered towards the stands, three warriors jumped on his back. Ajax flexed his muscles and sent the annoying gnats flying every which way.
“Is this wise?” Castor asked.
“He looks angry,” Pollux noted.
“I’ve got to know,” Odysseus said.
Soon enough, Tyndareus and the boys found themselves staring up at the giant, who towered over them.
“Errgh,” Ajax grunted.
“Ajax the Great!” Odysseus said. “You honor us with your presence. You must answer a most vexing question. Do you possess a gigantic…”
Tyndareus cut in. “A gigantic sense of bravery.”
“Erggh,” Ajax said.
“No,” Odysseus said. “I want to know if he as an enormous…”
“Physique,” Tyndareous said. “Of course he does. He is the pride of Greece. That will be all, Ajax, thank you. Please return to your murders.”
“Errgh,” Ajax said as he returned to the battle.
“Why’d you cut me off?” Odysseus asked. “Now I’ll never know if he has a…”
“Odysseus,” the king said. “Your wit is quick and your tongue is sharp but if you are to ever rule you must learn about diplomacy. Question a man such as Ajax the Great about his genitalia and he’ll be liable to smash you like a bug so much as look at you.”
At that moment, Odysseus watched as Ajax cleaved an opponent in two.
“Duly noted,” Odysseus said.
The king felt a hand on his shoulder. The royals turned around to see Agamemnon and Menelaus decked out in their finest, jewel bedazzled robes, sipping from wine goblets and sneering.
“King Tyndareus,” Agamemnon said. “You’re looking well for an old codger.”
“Agamemnon,” the king said.
“O-douche-eus,” Agamemnon said to the adventurer.
“Butthole brother number one,” Odysseus said to Agamemnon, and then to Menelaus, “Number two.”
Menelaus grunted and took another sip.
“How long will this charade go on?” Agamemnon asked.
“Charade?” Tyndareus asked. “What ever do you mean?”
“Cut the shit, old man,” Agamemnon said. “We both know that either Helen will be Menelaus’s bride or Sparta will burn.”
“Not exactly the best argument to win my good will,” the old king said.
“I’m not in this to be loved,” Agamemnon said. “I’m in it to be feared. Fear will get you what you want more than love any day.”
Tyndareus rose and put his hands on Agamemnon’s shoulders. “Agamemnon. You stand before me a king of kings, the great ruler of the Achaean League, commander of an army so vast it could never be quantified. Will there ever come a day when you’ve had your fill of the world and decide that you’ve had enough?”
Agamemnon smiled. “Never.”
Tyndareus sighed. “As great as you have become, I still see that sad little boy when I look in your eyes.”
“And I still see the same tired old has been when I look in yours,” Agamemnon said.
Odysseus stood up. “All suitors are expected to fight.”
“Rules are for vagrants and commoners,” Agamemnon said.
Menelaus guzzled the last of his wine then cast his goblet aside. “No. I’ll fight.”
“Shut up, fool,” Agamemnon said. “No one asked you.”
“A man could hardly be considered worthy of the most beautiful woman in the world if he won’t prove himself in combat,” Odysseus said.
“Bah,” Agamemnon said as he slapped his brother on the back. “Fine!”
Menelaus drew his sword and headed for the rumble.
“But stay on the sidelines!” Agamemnon shouted at his brother. “Don’t stab anyone until they stab you first!”
Once Menelaus was out of ear shot, Agamemnon addressed Odysseus. “The gods themselves could not create enough words to describe how much I despise you.”
“What?” Odysseus asked as he shrugged his shoulders.
Castor stared at Agamemnon. “Old…” Castor struggled to get out the words. “Old…friend…what does it matter to you whether or not your brother marries Helen?”
“Her beauty does you no good if she’s wed to another,” Pollux added.
“She is a prize,” Agamemnon said. “And all prizes belong to the royal family of Mycenae.”
The ruler of the Achaean League turned his back on the group and walked off, but not before delivering one last ultimatum. “Get with the program or get dead, shit bags.”
The old king and his boys returned to their seats.
“And you’re going to tell me diplomacy will work with a man like that?” Odysseus asked.
“No,” Tyndareus replied. “With a man such as Agamemnon, one’s choices are either capitulation or war.”
“I’m sorry that you feel you have to choose capitulation,” Odysseus said.
Tyndareus patted the adventurer on the back. “As am I, my boy. As am I.”