Half a moon passed without Protego doing even as much as looking at Penthesilea. Each time she tried to catch his eyes he lowered his gaze. Carefully avoiding her he stuck with the bunch of Zeuxippe’s warriors, standing by and watching their training.
Despite her bold declaration Zeuxippe contained her taunts, giving Penthesilea the impression that no matter what the other woman had claimed she did fear to enrage mighty Evandros. Obviously, the slave hadn't dared to inform his creator.
Good. And Penthesilea herself didn't really feel the urge to destroy everything she had achieved by an embarrassing confession. Not as long as it seemed avoidable.
The temporary truce made those days calmer than those before and gave the Amazon more time to think about her situation and to spend with Serkon.
She met Chandra and Io several times and twice, she even managed to visit Boras at his residence, thus delighting him significantly.
Introducing his two daughters made him even more likable in her eyes since she realized the honest love he held for them although they weren’t the male heir he was in need of.
However, they were too shy and submissive for her liking yet kind persons nonetheless. Nothing at all like Chandra or Io who despite of their natural cheerfulness weren’t willing to surrender to a man that easily. Particularly Chandra was rather independent as a future priestess and Io in another way that simply refused to submit to the rules imposed by the male leaders. The Amazon thought a lot about her in the past days, wondering if there was a way to win her as a provider because somehow, she knew there wasn't any other woman who would fulfill this task so perfectly.
One of these days, she decided to take a bath at the drill ground. She really needed a break from her warrior students. But right after entering the room she sensed that somebody was coming in behind her.
“Why did you come?”
He was insecure. “I- uh… have to explain something. It’s about- uh. By the gods!”
She waited for a while but spoke again when she was sure that he wouldn’t go on with his ʻexplanationʼ. His embarrassment was her advantage. Perhaps he wouldn't betray her ever if she was kind to him now.
“You know,” she assured him, “usually, I would never allow that for a slave but you may walk out of this room and I will never say a word about what has happened.”
At least until they will find out and I must protect myself. There will be no other way, then.
“I, um.” He cast down his eyes, then peeked at her from the corner of them. “I’m… forced to do this.”
“To do what?”
“To, y'know, see you.”
“So. You are forced? By whom?”
“K- kinda. It’s- difficult to explain.”
“I can’t. But it really feels that way. It- oh, gods!” He groaned. “I can't stop this, I mean.” So he, seeming so loyal to begin with, was willing to betray his queen if only Penthesilea snapped her fingers? That seemed strange to her, though... maybe she was able to use that. What if he had succeeded to seduce her that very day? Some men used to think of women as prone to male advances, so perhaps she could manage to convince the council's members of that if need be.
It was unlikely though that he would try such things in his owner's home where it was very probable to be caught. And even less probable that she wouldn't turn him in immediately afterward. Another place would be much more likely, secure from discovery. Such as... a small, dark room with thick doors. While Zeuxippe was busy elsewhere. With her warriors, for example.
At the drill ground, for example.
She narrowed her eyes and stepped closer to him. “Do you know what that means for you?” Just do not show him your intentions, Penthesilea.
Swallowing, he replied. “Yeah, I fear I do.” And after a moment of silence, he added: “But please, be patient with me, my lady. I’ve never done- anything like that before. I mean, behind her back-”
“Go then. You do not really want this.” For her plan to rid herself of suspicion, she would have to take gamy measures. Even give him the chance to leave hoping that it would result in the exact opposite.
“I can’t,” he insisted and repeated the words as if to convince himself.
“So go for now and calm yourself. You are not going to live for long if you are not able to act thoughtfully.”
Watching him leave she wondered if she had made the right decision. Wouldn't it be better to tell Zeuxippe immediately? On the other hand... telling her now, although claiming that she was the victim, wouldn't contribute in any way to fasten her stand in the council. And her cause would be all the more persuasive when Protego had managed to sneak away from under his creator's nose several times. She could always prove that he had followed her for some weeks, waiting for a favorable occasion when she was alone.
Yes, knowing that felt good.
By and by, it turned out that Protego was quite a master in hiding from his queen's eyes and using any opportunity that revealed itself, not that that was the case very often. Penthesilea for her part excused herself to Serkon by pretending to take a bath every now and then. After all, she had to make the slave think that she was serious.
However, most time the queen saw to their activities being left at a rather harmless level. She had no interest in complicating the matter any further. And they did have to be careful, especially Protego who was usually expected to return to his owner soon. In a state that fit a few moments of loneliness. But it was surprisingly rare that he had to endure a telling-off, bending his head like a dutiful slave.
Increasingly often, she caught herself growing dangerously fond of him and was certain he felt the same way. The more time passed, the less keen she was to close the matter by making it public, always finding a reason or two that argued against turning the slave in.
Then, one morning, the queen woke from a feeling of sickness flooding through her body. She was never ill. Never.
Immediately, she knew what it could possibly mean and left for the temple of the Bright Goddess. Of all wise women she trusted Moira the most, the priestess she had met her very first day out. And it was but yet another recommendation that she had born two daughters. Her Bright Goddess was a merciful goddess for sure.
The wife of Chonar leader Deipyros and her scholar Chandra were delighted by the unexpected but highly welcome visit. With heart-felt pleasure the older woman confirmed Penthesilea’s assumption.
The queen was with child.
Gratefulness overcame Penthesilea as well as the weight of the need to act fast. She needed a provider very soon and beside, she didn’t even know the true father of the child. Reckoning back she was pretty sure she could exclude Protego but that still left her with two others. However, she would declare Serkon as the one until she knew better. Her only hope was that the little girl wouldn’t have Haimon’s rare hair color.
The king would never forgive that.
She wished all the more to be sure when she told Haimon. He was dumbfounded and almost disgusted and in addition to that, even burst with rage attacks at the thought he could have a daughter. She sent him down to his basement room in an instant to make him regret his behaviour. Although she was sure that in the end, he didn't.
Serkon also was caught flat-footed but reacted and more calmly and reasonably after a moment of shock to have a child so soon.
She asked herself what he had been expecting of their relationship. Most women didn’t even know that herbs which could prevent a pregnancy existed. Above all, he couldn’t know that she had actually used some in the beginning.
In spite of the two mens' rather negative attitude, it was far more difficult to reveal the news to Protego.
Penthesilea sighed. Sometimes, the ways of the Goddess were quite incomprehensible. The only man who actually wanted to be a father wasn’t though.
But there were other affairs to worry about. Finding a provider, for instance. This one was of top priority in the moment.
The matter with Protego would have to wait.
Please just ignore Penthesilea's belly in the last picture... She's still not that far in her pregnancy. But it's the very first original screenshot you can see in this story from when I played through generation one and for some reason, I like it so much that I couldn't hold it from you. :)
Pose by kyimu