Despite Serkon’s and her own distrust Penthesilea had to admit that the slave indeed did a good job at keeping the Borathion boy occupied.
So she decided to speak to a stranger that had come to the drill ground that day. Hard bodied and with black hair and a beard, one could describe him as good-looking and he was a pleasant person.
“Advik? What a weird name.”
“Maybe you aren’t familiar with it because I come from far away,” he explained in a strong accent.
“But I was driven toward adventures after an old fortune teller had foretold me an illustrious fate.”
Penthesilea couldn’t resist to drop that remark. “So the inhabitants of this area would say you belong to tribe Morones.”
“Morones? I’ve never heard of it. Why should I belong to it?”
“They told me everyone who does not belong to any other tribe is simply called a Morones.” She could tell he had understood the point when he smirked.
“Advik of Morones. That’s a name I can get along with.”
After the conversation with Advik, there was yet another task to be fulfilled.
“Leikeus. What do you think of watching the warriors trained by the other woman? Maybe you can learn something useful for your future.”
Evidently, the boy wasn’t pleased at all but hadn’t the heart to object. After he was gone Penthesilea turned to Protego whom she intended to question once more. Maybe she was more lucky this time although she doubted it after recognizing his rather forced smile.
“So we meet again, Protego.” He seemed surprised.
“You do still know my name after the… unfortunate circumstances of the last time, my lady?”
“I never forget any name. Especially not after such circumstances.”
“I’m truly sorry for my behavior. Usually, I’d never be such rude to a beautiful queen.” Another attempt to smile failed terribly.
“You were loyal to yours, that is nothing to excuse from. And for now I really appreciate that your creator was willing to assign the boy to you. It got on my nerves to have him watching me all the time.”
“Oh, that’s no big deal. She knows that I really like children. Besides, I’m glad I can be of any use to you.”
“That is a bold statement considering that your queen does not like me at all.” A nervous laugh and he peeked at Zeuxippe, making sure she was still in a discussion with her students.
“She can be quite- temperamental.” Penthesilea knitted her brows and waited until he was insecure enough to continue speaking. “Most of the time, in fact.”
“You must know.”
“Um. Supposedly, yes.”
“Not hard to guess since she always keeps you near her.”
“Eh- yes… Indeed, sometimes- she is very… possessive?”
“Sometimes. I like that one.”
“It’s her right so I get along with it.”
“But you dislike it?” It was a risky question, that much was certain. Immediately, he went on the defensive.
“Never wanted to say that.” But you thought it.
“For sure, as you would have to suffer some consequences. We would not want that, would we?”
“Not at all. Thank you, most gracious lady.”
“For… you know. Not telling my queen about it.”
“In any case, I do not want to upset her even more.”
“Actually, no. It is just that I do not want her as a foe.”
“So, clever rather than considerate.”
“If you think so.” Somehow, his way of always agreeing and forcing the talk to continue at the same time made her feel uneasy.
“I don’t believe I'm allowed to have an opinion.”
That very moment, the boy returned. Boredom had won over fear and the queen was actually pretty relieved.
“They’re boring. They don’t even let me come closer than ten steps.”
“Well, I can offer you the company of this man again if you do not mind that he is a slave.”
“Either way, he’s much more fun than those warrior women. Except of you, of course,” he added quickly.
“I entrust you in his care, then.”
“It’s a pleasure, my beautiful queen.”