Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Troy belong to their respective creators, Joss Whedon and Wolfgang Petersen/David Benioff/Homer.
The sacrifices burned for three long months.
Still, the armies moved. Every morning brought more news, more tidings, of assembling troops, the changing allegiances of clans, and the shifting balance of power. Shield and spear broke and broke again. Despairing, he commanded that a herd of oxen be offered up to the gods, and sent the fairest, most fleet-footed of the young men to the Oracle at Delphi. He promised a son to the Temple of Zeus, a daughter to the Temple of Athena.
The signs were all the same.
Thessaly would fail.
He would fail.
Triopas had been king for eight years, since his brother had died in battle against the Mycenaeans. For eight years, he had struggled to hold together his kingdom, growing ever smaller in the shadow of that warrior-king, Agamemnon, who wanted to be high king of Greece. He had watched his neighbors, his allies, diminish, and lessen, and, at last, become trodden under the heel of the Mycenaean, and he had done all a mortal man could to keep his own people from being lashed to the yoke of the Atreides. Emissaries had been sent to all the other cities of Greece, searching for allies, for branches to form a bulwark against the colossus that was Mycenae. He had even approached Troy, bright, glorious Troy, to ask for Priam's help.
None came. His entreaties came back unanswered. None would stand with Thessaly.
No more. He could do no more.
The gods had forsaken him. Agamemnon's armies marched, and the wheel ground ever closer. All of the south had already fallen, and there could only be a few more winters at most before the eyes of the son of Atreus turned north, to Thessaly, the life's bread of Greece. No other large principality still remained free on the mainland, all the others already subjected to Agamemnon's lordship.
Triopas cried out to the gods. The people of Thessaly wailed, prayed, and made a thousand pyres of their sacrifices. Yet the gods did not answer, or, if they did, it was only to put the coming of Thessaly's vassalage on the lips of their oracles.
What could he do? Agamemnon commanded more men than there were in all of Thessaly, and he had in his ranks the heroes of the age, every champion greater than the last until Achilles himself. His fleet of ships held the sea lanes. Through Menelaus, his brother, he had Sparta, and through Achilles he had the Myrmidons, those black-clad warriors who had no equals.
But Triopas was still king, and Thessaly was no nation of cowards. The clans were with him. They would fight, though they had few hopes. They would pour out the wine in Athena's name, in Zeus's, and at least die free.
The men of Thessaly took up their spears, shields, their bronze swords. Triopas gathered his army, and thought of his brother, Timaios, who had been such a warrior, who had worn his shroud so young.