So only one man was left. And in this very moment, he stood aside staring through an archway. Lost in thoughts.
It was settled, then. After all, she had already sensed the attraction that drove him near her. Determinedly, she sneaked in his back and put her hands at his chest from behind.
“What are you thinking?,” she whispered in his ear.
Never had she been that close to him, except in fight when it was all different. And it was the first time she touched him this way, too.
“Don’t really know.”
“Are you surprised?”
“Less than I’m probably supposed to be,” he answered and turned around but the Amazon pulled away from him. She didn’t want to start everything in public and certainly not with Zeuxippe keeping jealous watch over her. Just to give him a hint.
Suddenly, someone shouted. “Down, everyone! It’s time for the maiden’s dance!”
“The maiden’s dance?” Penthesilea knitted her brows.
“Don’t be so suspicious. That’s the highlight of today’s celebration. Some young women will perform a ritual dance that shall ensure the Sea God’s blessing for all those who are in love.” Curious by his words, she followed him to the temple’s garden where the guests gathered, including the priests at the opposite side.
“So this is why Evandros has finally come?” She pointed at the Arythions’ leader. “And why he has brought his wife?”
“It is. Think he’s still hoping for a second son. It would secure the throne for his family. Besides, he’s an ambitious man.”
“And you aren’t?”
“Pardon?” He almost made her giggle like a girl because he was so confused being tormented with this question while his thoughts had already been at the dance.
“You don’t have a son yet.”
“Ah, well. I have plenty of time left so I can still enjoy life for a bit longer.”
The water in the deep basins sparkled mysteriously and the sunlight got the warmer the more sunset advanced, bathing the three beautiful young dancers in a gentle red light.
“So what does attract you this much? It’s only three women dancing.” Serkon shot her a meaningful glance.
“Ha! Never underestimate men watching women dance. See the Arythions over there? Amphion’s making a fool of himself staring at the red-haired priestess.” Penthesilea couldn’t deny he was right. For the first time she remembered, she saw Simachion grin watching his friend’s behavior.
“Evandros should reprimand him. Why isn’t he embarrassed at all?”
“Remember it’s a feast for forming unions. First of all, it’s an honor to find love here and I myself am very honored to have a clanswoman dancing along with two Arythions. See the one in the blue dress? She belongs to my tribe.”
It was obvious what he wanted to hear and Penthesilea decided she would do him that favor.
“Pretty indeed. Zeuxippe’s women don’t dance?”
Serkon sneered disgustedly. “They think they’re a cut above the rest.”
“Well, I can understand them. I would never allow a tribe member of mine to expose herself before so many men. Some allurement must remain,” she added fluttering her eyelashes at him.
For the rest of the time, they kept silent and watched the dancers’ grace and skill. Only when most of the guests had already left, Serkon asked Penthesilea whether she had liked the feast.
“Very much,” she smiled. “Thank you for inviting me.”
“There might be a reason to celebrate again, soon. Many of the leaders have daughters ready for marriage.”
“My queen?” A pleasant woman’s voice caught their ears. Chandra, the red-haired priest adept who had been dancing, approached them. Serkon took his leave quickly, obviously disappointed.
“I wanted to invite you over for tomorrow and would be honored if you came.” Penthesilea put her hands on the young woman’s shoulders. How old could she be? Sixteen, seventeen summers at the most.
“I’ll be very glad to do as you’ve asked me.” The young woman beamed in joy.
“That’s great. I’ve always wanted to present my daughter to you.”
This chapter has extra screenshots in the gallery