Please don't wonder if the first sentences ring a bell. I've picked them up for those of you who don't read all the chapters in a row since the conversation is hard to follow otherwise.
Apart from that, enjoy!
“Your father told you, didn’t he?” Serkon was surprised.
“How come you know?”
“I guess parents are the same all over the land.”
“Ah, well. It’s hard to imagine a mother beating her daughter in a fight, though.”
“Because you aren’t used to it. But it’s nothing different from a father striking his son. They want us to learn fast so we can survive.” When he didn’t say anything, Penthesilea decided to change the subject.
“What about this tribe Morones the two belated men come from? Nobody ever spoke about them and they had no leader in the council.”
“Well, the matter is complicated since there actually is no tribe Morones.” Serkon rubbed his neck, fumbling for words. “It’s just a name we call all those who have no tribe. In the past, Morones was wiped out by plague. I’m sure there are still members of it out there but we can’t figure out who of them is. So we call all of them Morones and they have accepted it. Better than not belonging to any tribe at all and this way, the Morones will never be forgotten.”
“That’s complicated indeed. Yet another question. Who’s that boy hanging around with Echion for a while, now? He watches the training with great interest.” Looking over his shoulder, Serkon needed but one glimpse to spot said child.
“Oh, he’s Evandros’ son Alexander, heir of tribe Arythion. Evandros insists on him being trained by his bodyguard. Surely not the worst education a boy of his age can get. And as far as I know, he’s quite clever.”
Still speaking, Simachion, Amphion and Praios of Arythion came to take their leave.
Simachion thanked for the training and, turning to Serkon, promised: “I’m going to practice every day. Next time, I’ll beat you.” The king was visibly amused.
“Poor boy. You’re going to break your bones one day. All of them.”
Soon after them, the Borathions came as well.
“I’ll tell Boras about your victory over Echion today. He’ll be very pleased, that I can tell.”
“You did well today, Borathions. I hope you are going to keep attending. You fulfill the requirements to become great warriors, each one.”
“Now it’s my turn to say goodbye.”
“Serkon, you’ve been great help today. Hopefully, I’ll be able to repay you some day.”
Grinning impishly, he answered: “Well, I have something in mind but I won’t tell you yet.”
Doing a recap of the events in the evening, Penthesilea came to the conclusion it had been a very successful day. And while watching the beautiful sunset she planned to make it a perfect one. All too long had she been waiting for this, anyway.
Dressed in her nightwear, she called for her slave who had been at work outside. He stopped at safe distance, suspiciously eyeing her but not embarrassed at all.
“Do you know what I’m going to demand of you? You look like you did.”
“How should I?,” he returned the question, his eyes giving him the lie.
Instead of giving him a useless explanation, Penthesilea stepped up close to him putting her fingertip at his stubbly chin.
“You will be my lover, Haimon. But don’t think anything will change for you. You will remain my slave until you die.”
At first he seemed to be resigned by her speaking the words out loudly but soon he leaned back so she would feel taller and accepted her touch, seeking her look with his incredibly blue eyes.
“Well, I think I’ll succeed more in that task.”
“You better,” she remarked, turned around and pushed him back to her bed. She didn’t get to say more. Haimon drowned her in a kiss as deep as his eyes.
No. Deeper. Even deeper than the darkness that drove out the last smooth light of the setting sun.