“Guard your tongue. You’re speaking to a queen, princess by birth. Your king has already accepted me to be part of the Council of Nobles. Your are in no position to address me with such disrespect.”
“If we are to obey you, I demand a proof of your worth.” Working hard not to lose control of her temper, Penthesilea kept calm on the outside.
“What are you speaking of?”
“A fight.” Each one of the bystanders held their breath. Not again. Did one not suffice?
“Against whom?” Considering that Serkon was the fiercest warrior of the present ones, she assumed Echion would propose him as an opponent. And she hadn’t the slightest perspective to win against him another time.
Echion crossed his arms defiantly.
“Me.” He flexed his muscles, showing off his great physique.
Yet the moment he launched his first attack, the queen realized this man wasn’t a feat. Even though he outreached her in strength he hadn’t got a warrior’s instincts. Meanwhile, Borathions and Dekanos’ assembled at one side of the fighting ground and Arythions at the opposite one, everyone watching in order not to miss anything.
All to soon, the Arythions discovered that their representative wasn’t able to hold his stand, incredulity written in their faces.
Suddenly, in the middle of the fight, a deep voice arose among the surrounding people.
“Looks as if we were just in time to have some fun.” Two brown-haired and burly men had just arrived and stopped somewhat aside.
But they weren’t interesting enough to compete for the bystanders’ attention for long.
The fast outcome of the fight was a surprise for most of the onlookers. Only Serkon smiled knowingly.
“We’ll do as you tell us,” Echion recognized while biting his lower lip and withdrew to lick his wounds, mainly the ones of his pride.
“Well done,” Serkon admitted and Phineas joined in.
“That was overdue. But neither of us ever had reason to take on with the Arythion until today.”
Just then, Echion’s clansmen approached and the older dark-haired one rose to speak respectfully.
“Amphion and I would like to participate in your training, my queen. Praios will, too. We would be honored if you allowed us so.”
“Of course. Be welcome.”
Serkon stepped up. “If I recall correctly you’d like to become Evandros’ bodyguard one day, Simachion. Is this still what you want to?”
The young man blushed, for a king speaking to him directly and his wish being known likewise.
“Is it this obvious, my king?”
“Well, you do have the ambition as well as the teeth to actually achieve your aim. I’ll train you in person.”
Penthesilea took over command. “The others split up in two groups by their skills. Phineas and Goron guide the beginners in order to teach them coordination. You, whoever you may be,” she pointed at the taller man of the two belated arrivals, “seem experienced in fighting. You do the same with the advanced ones only you’re enhancing their strength. We’ll get to the real training later when they’re ready for it.” The man introduced himself as Julianus and the other one as Ranos, both members of tribe Morones.
“Do you think that’s a wise plan? There are already warriors among them,” Phineas expressed his doubts but she silenced him by a merciless gaze.
“Even the best warrior knows they must work on their strength. Or do you have any objections?” He held on to her eyes for a few moments, then lowered his look.
After forming two groups they got to training in the afternoon, at last.
And while most tried hard some gave way to despair but were forced to continue by their teachers.
All the day, Echion refused to cooperate and Penthesilea didn’t force him to. Either he would do it driven by his own decision or he would leave eventually. Secretly, she knew which way was the more desirable one.
Meanwhile, Serkon took care of Simachion. They wrestled together, mostly the Arythion being no worthy opponent for the king whatsoever.
“Come on, free yourself!,” they occasionally heard Serkon shout all over the place. In favor of Simachion, there were no cries of pain at all. Later, the Dekanos leader joined Penthesilea.
“The Arythion is taken care of. How do the others do?” She caught a glimpse of the young man leaning against the building’s wall and breathing heavily.
“You have been tough on him.”
“They never learn anything if they don’t realize there’s no other way than to win. It’s how I became what I am.”
“Your father told you, didn’t he?” Serkon was surprised.
“How come you know?”