Lord Lycaon made his entrance silently. Entering through a door on the boy’s right, the Lord of the House of Wolves was flanked by two other slaves. As Lord Lycaon took a seat behind the table, his servants moved to surround themselves on either side of the table. Lycaon’s bodyguards were as big and tall as Durus; they were dark-skinned, had short black hair, and dark eyes. Their arms rippled with muscle and they had short swords at their sides. They wore white tunics and brown sandals like Serpens, but unlike Serpens these servants were brutes. It looked like they had seen their share of fights.
But it was Lycaon that scared the boy the most. As much as he had prepared himself for this encounter--the Lord of the House of Wolves was intimidating and fierce; he wore long white robes with a black toga. Lycaon had a long wolf face with piercing gold-brown eyes and jet black hair and was also lean with light brown skin. The boy noticed that Lord Lycaon had a long angry red scar running down his face over his left eye and had more scars marking his arms and hands. The boy sensed that Lord Lycaon was cunning and incredibly dangerous.
Lord Lycaon looked at Durus. Durus bowed to his master. “Sire, I have brought the boy as you commanded,” Durus announced. His deep voice was full of respect and reverence. Lycaon nodded. He then turned his glowing eyes to the boy, and it seemed like his piercing gaze saw into the boy’s soul. It was unsettling. Lord Lycaon was a wolf in a man’s body.
“You boy, what is your name?” Lycaon asked. His tone was stern and cold.
The boy gulped in fear and nervousness. His mouth felt dry; he couldn’t speak.
Lord Lycaon gazed for a moment at the boy, then looked at Durus, who suddenly gave the boy a small nudge to shake him out of it.
“My name is...Heros.” The boy managed to stutter. He gazed at his feet. The boy didn’t want to look at Lycaon any longer.
“Heros, you say? That is interesting. Your father’s name was also Heros.” Lycaon said slowly.
The boy nodded slowly in acknowledgment. He still didn’t look up to meet Lycaon’s gaze, which he could feel moving up and down his body.
“I knew your father very well. He and I were shield brothers. We shared everything. He and I were the wolves of this house-- he was one of the greatest warriors I have ever known. I gave him his golden armor; then he went and got himself killed in the arena.” Lycaon said softly. The boy looked up in shock.
“I also know, “Lycaon continued, his eyes shining brightly and his lips turned up into a half-smirk as if he only knew the secret, “that Heros didn’t have a son.”
Durus looked confusedly at Lycaon then quickly down at the boy. The boy ducked his head down in shame and embarrassment. His face turning red.
“My Lord, what do you mean? You ordered that I bring back Heros’ son,” Durus said, his voice tense.
Lycaon held up a hand for silence. “Easy, Durus. You have done your job. This child here is not telling us the truth.”
The boy gasped and looked at Lycaon in the eyes. The Lord of the House of Wolves gazed unblinkingly at the boy.
“Heros was my closest friend. I saw him married to his beautiful Penelope. They were married underneath the very walls of this house,” Lycaon gestured around the room with his right hand. His eyes never left the boy. The boy shivered in fear.
“And when..,” Lycaon’s voice suddenly softened and the boy saw anger and pain in Lycaon’s eyes. It was the first emotion the Lord had shown so far in their encounter.
“Penelope died giving birth to Heros’ only child. I was there. I held the little girl in my arms...”
Durus and the boy both gasped. The boy felt Durus’ eyes upon him suddenly. But the boy wasn’t paying him any attention; he was still staring at Lycaon with shock.
“My Lord!” Durus cried loudly. “How can this be? With his dying breath, Heros begged me to take care and train his son!” Durus was breathing hard, there was fire in his eyes. He looked like he was about ready to fly at Lycaon. Lycaon’s bodyguards immediately responded by placing their hands on their swords and moving toward Durus.
“Caius, Estes stop!” Lycaon commanded. The bodyguards froze in their tracks. They gazed at Durus angrily.
Lycaon stood up and walked around the table towards Durus, who was still fuming but was looking at the ground. A single tear ran down his cheek.
“Durus, my friend and my champion. I understand how hard this is for you. Heros was a great man--and our beloved shield brother. And what you had to do--in the arena, is not something you can easily bear,” Lycaon said. He gently placed his hand on Durus’ shoulder. Durus looked up at Lord Lycaon. They were the same height.
“Heros knew that if he died it would be harder for a girl to survive on her own. That is why he kept it a secret that he had a daughter and lied to everyone about having a son.” Lycaon spoke softly. He gazed down at the child. His eyes were shining with tears. “But it was only I who knew the truth.” He said sadly.
The child looked up at Lord Lycaon and saw that he was telling the truth. The child also felt that they could trust Lycaon with their secret now. Suddenly, with unexpected courage, the child spoke up:
“Lord Lycaon, I am Heras Votum. I am the daughter of Heros Graecus.” The girl raised her head bravely and met Lycaon’s eerie gaze without fear.
Lycaon smirked. His icy eyes shone brightly. However, Durus turned his head away and looked at the fire.
“Now, there we have it! Welcome, Heras Votum to the House of Wolves. I will ensure that you are taken care of-- You will become a part of our pack. Heros, your father, made me your guardian.”
“My father…” Heras Votum trailed off, her voice grew tight and her eyes filled with tears as she realized the impact of Lord Lycaon’s words.
Lycaon nodded. He wiped the tears from his eyes, then turned toward Estes to give a command.
“Go get Lupa and have her attend Heras Votum. This girl needs a bath, a good meal, and some rest.”
Estes bowed and ran off to get Lupa. Heras Votum let out a sigh of relief. Here, she thought she was going to be dinner, not have dinner. The girl looked over at Durus, who was still gazing into the fire. His black eyes reflected the flames.
Lupa quickly entered the room and bowed to Lord Lycaon.
“You summoned me, my Lord?” She asked. Lupa was a strong woman with lean, wiry arms and long brown hair woven in a braid. She wore a white dress and brown sandals.
“Yes, take care of Heras Votum. Make sure she gets a bath, eats, and goes to bed,” Lycaon ordered. He waved his hand at Caius and Estes who both returned to their original positions by the table.
Lupa bowed low, and looking at Heras Votum kindly, gestured for her to follow her.
“Come with me--the bathhouse is this way.”
Lupa led Heras Votum out of the room.