Chapter 13 brings more trouble for Penthesilea... The number is simply a coincidence, though a funny one... :D Here we go!
But fate didn’t grant Penthesilea much time to reconsider her decision. When she arrived at the drill ground the next day, she saw Zeuxippe train a few of her clanswomen. It was the first time they had come.
Penthesilea wasn’t as starry-eyed as to go and greet them. Zeuxippe would only turn it into another show to insult her. So she went straight to the men who were standing aside from the women and watching them train. Only then did she notice that Echion of Arythion had shown up, too and was practicing with the Orcheons.
“I can’t believe my eyes.”
“Us neither,” Iasion of Borathion agreed. “Though telling us he would never ever obey a woman he’s actually training with women only now. No offense!” She ignored the fact that she had actually referred to Zeuxippe's presence at the drill ground. Apparently, the other Amazon used to come there before the new queen had taken over command over the warriors so her appearance didn't surprise the latter ones as much as Echion's behaviour.
“Hypocrite.” Simachion looked down his nose at his clansman.
In this moment, Serkon reached the drill ground and was disgusted by the sight.
“I’ll teach him to be true to his word.”
“No. Don’t start a fight. There shall be no trouble because of me. Evandros would dislike it and I would have to suffer the consequences.”
“Why? Echion isn’t even one of the rulers. I can fight him as often as I want to and I don’t plan to challenge Zeuxippe only to waste my fight.”
“My fight? The one I’m entitled to?”
“Never heard about anything alike. Your one fight?” All of the men stared at her in disbelief.
“So you can fight the other leaders to the heart’s content? No restrictions?”
“You actually have restrictions for a fight?” They exchanged strange glances.
“Yes, we do. In order to keep peace in the council, a king – or queen – may only once challenge another ruler. If not we’d be all dead in a few suns because we killed one another.”
It was one thing being raised for war and having to win some kings over peacefully. But being told that one was actually forbidden to fight more than once was absolutely different. So that was the reason that kept Zeuxippe from a duel.
“How do you solve your problems otherwise?,” she asked kind of desperately.
“By talking and if that fails, yelling and insulting. At least until now, it worked quite well.”
“Still. That’s insane.”
It was a rule made for old men and lazy ones who didn’t want to lose their power to younger and stronger leaders. Leaders like her, like Serkon or Zeuxippe. And they had to give in to it because the other tribes were much bigger.
What a contradiction.
“Have you already had your fight?”
“Never had to. The other leaders accepted me immediately after my father had died. Besides, tribe Dekanos is not of much interest to the other tribes so they never demanded anything.”
“Demand? They do it for gaining possession?”
“Kind of.” Anyway, if Zeuxippe wasn’t allowed to wage a war against her it would be much easier to expand her tribe.
“But now, to work!”
The day went by without alleviating their tense mood. And in the next morning, Zeuxippe showed up again and did so the days after. A few weeks later she was not only training her tribe members but some of the Morones as well along with Echion and two Borathions.
Penthesilea got more annoyed each day until she decided to take the other Amazon to task.
“Why do you woo them away from me?” The other queen paid her but little attention, though all annoyed.
“Go away. I’ve got warriors to train.”
“That’s actually my task if you’d be so gracious as to remind yourself that Evandros has entrusted me with it.” Everyone stopped their work and was listening by now.
“However. He didn’t forbid us to do the same.”
Unfortunately, she had a point but Serkon came to help.
“You know he didn’t because he didn’t expect anyone to be this rebellious.” Zeuxippe threw him an angry look but remained all confident.
“I’m not the one to be rebellious. They’re my clanswomen and I have the right to exercise them myself.”
“All of them? So, some of your women aren't really a feast for the eyes. I mean, come on. They’re growing a beard.” He pointed at Echion who turned red in anger.
“They chose to join me. It’s nothing of your concern, Serkon.”
Knowing they couldn’t get rid of her in the moment, they left Zeuxippe alone. As they expected, she didn’t miss a day at the drill ground from then on. Often she was accompanied by her slave who was supposed to bring her water and, perhaps even more, demonstrate her importance. Most time he just stood by, useless and eyes traveling. More than once Penthesilea caught him peering at her when he felt unwatched.
“I don’t understand why she doesn’t allow him to participate in the training. He’d make a good guard,” Serkon remarked once.
“Why should she?”
“Don’t women love strong men?” He held her gaze captive for a few moments. “Doubtlessly, she’d come to appreciate it.”
“I’m sure she would allow you to do so if you asked her.” It actually didn’t interest her.
“No way that I drill a slave.”
“See? Where would we get if our slaves were stronger than ourselves?”
Thinking of Haimon, a slave being able to overpower her would definitely be too much to deal with.
This chapter has extra screenshots in the gallery