Leonidas grudgingly spares a party of 11 soldiers to raid Xerxes’ tent. It includes Dienekes, Rooster, Suicide, Alexandros, and Xeo. Rooster, after all, has only been detained, not executed. They’re divided into two squads, receiving a final charge from Leonidas.
Leonidas does heed Rooster’s advice and sends some of his best men to try to kill Xerxes and demoralize the Persians. Ironically, Rooster will now take an integral part in trying to save the Spartans he’s always hated.
Leonidas has special words for Rooster, whose family will be emancipated if he dies, including his infant son. Leonidas tells Rooster that if he wishes, he can change his son’s name to a Messenian one instead of “Idotychides.” Rooster’s eyes fill with tears. He tells Leonidas that he’s shamed by this kindness, and that his son will be proud to bear the Spartan name instead.
This scene exemplifies Leonidas’s wisdom in his care for individual men. He respects Rooster’s background and grants him the freedom he’s longed for. This mercy moves Rooster to accept a Spartan identity for his son.
The squad starts out in a driving rain, most of them laboring under scarcely healed wounds. After a few hours, they take shelter in a warm thicket recently vacated by deer. Dienekes says they’ll come back next fall for a good hunt in this spot, inviting even Rooster. Soon they meet up with the second squad and discover the track that the Immortals must be using to attack the Spartans from the rear. They send their fastest runner back to warn Leonidas. Rooster guides them down a numbingly cold stream, and before long they’re within the Persian camp, mere paces from Xerxes’ tent.