“Are you being serious? First you become pregnant, then make me look like a traitor in front of the council and as soon as you're reasonable again you present me with the decision either to break off or to have another child? Although you know exactly that I didn’t want one in the first place! Is that the way of Amazons to get rid of the men they don’t need any more?” Serkon was utterly enraged and Penthesilea couldn’t hold it against him. But she had to act confident if she didn’t want to hurt him even more. Or break herself.
“It is law that we aren’t allowed to be with a man who has fathered a daughter or son so we don’t get under their influence.”
“We can buy slaves out of this law to a certain extent because their lives depend on us but it is much more difficult with free men. You have too much power over a woman, even if she is a warrior or queen. Our goddess forbids me to carry on our relationship. She hates it when one of her people violates her law for the sake of a free man. No matter if he is a king.”
He pointed at his chest, deeply upset. “Oh, you’re good with words. Now I am the one to offend the laws?”
“Do you believe me dumb and blind not to see that you’re still with your fire-haired slave? I’ve tolerated that, tolerated your brazenness in front of the council and the humiliation this meant. And now you just ditch me?”
It was time to submit her proposal, the one Evandros couldn't have known of. She tried to put it the kind way but wasn't sure whether it really worked. “There is still one possibility. If I declare you my consort – spouse – we could still be together. However, that would bind you to me by law but not me to you, as this is actually made for a queen and a slave. Be assured that I- I would do my part as well. But I’m not even sure this can be used with a free man.”
Accusingly, he held out his arm. “Bind me but not you? So you can cheat on me whenever you want with whomever you want? Do you think I wouldn’t mind my wife to put out with a bunch of other men?”
“Serkon, I'd never-” How could she prevent getting on the wrong side with him? That was the last thing she wanted right now, no matter what she would have thought some moons before.
“Do you think this is easy for me? Please don’t make it even harder.”
“I presume I wasn’t the only woman you have been with either. However, I don’t have an actual choice to keep everything as it is. If I tried to, the Goddess would demand you either to become my consort or give your life. I can only offer you a son because Evandros would contribute to an extraordinarily high ransom for the sake of peace between the leaders. This would appease the immortals for the use of their most hated law so that you can get an heir.” All at once, the indignity of this decision befell her without mercy.
To reduce a woman, a queen actually, to become mother of a man’s son was probably one of the worst abuses of Amazon principles. Her mother and every other warrior would have banned her for that. At best.
Apparently Serkon felt it as well. With an expression of revulsion on his face, he swept his hands. “Do you know what that sounds like? Being paid for sleep-”
She couldn’t stand the truth, interrupted him more biting than intended in her own desperation and pain.
“I- can’t- help- it! And believe me, I hate it much more than you do but the council forces me to be at their will if I don't want to lose everything.”
Suddenly, he was strangely calm. “So Evandros thinks he could dictate me?”
“He’s wrong. And you are already one of his lickspits as it seems. By and by he wins them all over. Good I don’t depend on you. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go back to Zeuxippe when I feel like time’s ripe for an heir. She has at least been honest to me.”
Without another word, he rushed out and took his bodyguard with him whose turn it was to watch the entrance for her protection.
“Wait, let me explain-” Her voice broke when she realized that she was begging like a child. Not at all like the strong queen her mother would have wanted her to be.
Though – how could she act like one when she didn't feel that way at all? Everything that was left to her now was hoping and praying that one day, Serkon would be able to forgive her what she had done to him and what was yet to be revealed.