Molpe was restless.
She could tell that she needed a true nursery, and the palace simply didn’t have one. In fact, Polgara had even hinted that the woman she had been talking with this morning had been interested in joining them, and then there would be another person without any place to put them. Polgara, who was fast becoming a reliable advisor, had suggested they start work on another palace on the nearest possible bit of the island, but that would take time, and she didn’t want a temporary nursery either without an Amazon to guard the children.
“The solution to that is simple as well,” Polgara told her, when she brought her worries to her. “We have a woman willing to become a member of our tribe, and my hut is close to the garden. She would likely make a good gatherer, too. We will erect a temporary nursery, and she and I will escort the slaves over to the new location each day to oversee construction. Orion and Pallas will see to your new quarters, and you can relax.”
“But my son…” Molpe looked almost anxious. “Mother left us to the caregivers, it is true, but I am almost used to him sleeping with me.” She sighed. “But my room is no nursery.”
“My lady queen…” Polgara gave her a soft look. “I know that you are his mother, and so I defer to you, but…we are a growing tribe, as we must be. Our space is expanding.”
She couldn’t fault Polgara, especially not as Polgara’s job was to look after the children of the tribe. And in her heart of hearts, she knew that getting attached to a son was not a wise move. In his adulthood, an Amazon would ask for her permission to court him, and after a successful ritual he would be dead. Her brother, younger by just two years, had met a similar fate, after all. She shook the thought from her head and nodded.
“Have them build a good nursery, Polgara. Fetch some tiles when you next go out, and take them with you to carry.”
“Yes, my lady queen.”
Soon enough, a new hut was fresh-built by Orion and Pallas, in a style Polgara was sure Molpe would prefer. A bed was put together for Chrysanthos, who had now gotten to a toddling age, under a simple tapestry that Polgara herself had picked out at the market for the young tribal son.
Downstairs, Polgara herself had a room, vacating her previous quarters in order that the newer Amazon might, in time, join them. This way Polgara could fulfil her role as caretaker to Molpe’s son, and, in due time, her own child. It was simpler than her former quarters, but she did not mind.
Chrysanthos was an energetic toddler now, as fair-haired as his mother the queen. He did not take after his father in face, but the occasional wilfulness he showed reminded Polgara of his sire.
But he called her Ola, and was a sweet child for most of his days, and it was with great pleasure that she took care of him.
As months passed, Polgara was clearly with child. While Orion worked, she would think of names for their baby, circling back to her favourites again and again.
“Garion for a boy, I think.” She smiled to herself. “It would be a pleasure indeed to bear a girl, however.” Her eyes strayed to the flowers in the trees. Soon, it would be time. She felt a pang, as she had truly grown fond of Orion.
Molpe slowly withdrew from seeing her son as often as she had before he and Polgara had moved into the makeshift nursery, but she still visited him. Chrysanthos would always run to her with a cry of happiness, and she would always lift him up into a cuddle.
“My darling,” she would whisper to him, lifting him up high enough that he could see the blue ocean that stretched beyond the sands. He would cling to her, knowing her visits were few and far between, and all too soon Mama would hand him back to Ola. Mama would sing to him, play with him, but she would rarely stay for long.
To him, Mama was a beautiful person who did not exist in the same real capacity as his Ola. Understanding her role in his life was quite beyond him, but still he missed her, remembering faintly a time when she had always been around, the sweet perfume she wore a more vibrant memory than the rest.
Pallas, meanwhile, watched his queen and her fellow Amazon like a hawk. He knew that sooner rather than later, Orion would leave, but his heart had hardened to it. However, the queen would surely soon be looking for another father to her children, and he could only hope she would not pick him.
As well as those worries, he had been hearing stories at the docks as the sailors talked loudly amongst themselves. The widowed queen of another land, dissatisfied with her daughter even after casting the man who had wronged her into slavery, had cast her out. Or had her killed. Or married her off to a rich man. The rumours had continued to fly about, but Polgara brought the news dutifully back to Molpe, while he and Orion quietly discussed it in their quarters whenever they heard news.
“He will be in a difficult situation, if he is not dead already.” Pallas sighed. “The courts they say he comes from will have allowed him freedom. He has been stripped of that.”
“The tribe who bought him is angry, so Polgara says,” Orion said, anxious. “They learned his history later, and by concealing it those who sold him have gained a bad reputation.”
“Selling a seducer of women to one of the Goddess’ tribes? They should have known better.” Pallas shook his head. “Orion, his queen ought to have killed him for the insult to her daughter and have done with it.”
Molpe, hearing the gossip brought to her by a dutiful Polgara, felt deep in her heart for the poor princess who had been shamed by such a man.
“At least the queen he bedded has given birth to her husband’s heir, by all accounts.” Polgara put a hand on her own belly. “I suspect she was already with child when they lay together.”
“But the princess can only have been with him, from what you say. What a wicked man, and that poor girl, to be betrayed thrice over! First by him, then again by him, and now by her mother?”
“It could just be rumour, but I do wonder. They do not see queens and princesses in the light we do, I know that much from my travels.” Polgara shook her head regretfully. “Indeed, we must think of her, the poor girl.”
Molpe shuddered, but cleared her throat. “The palace. Tell me of it.”
“We are working hard, my lady. It will be beautiful soon enough, though I should like to have more help on it. Orion soon will no longer be with us.”
“Then tell me, what of my son?”
“He grows and learns fast, your majesty. He looks forward to your every visit.” Polgara smiled. “When he is a boy, I will have the men aid me in his education, and as it stands, Pallas watches him when I must attend to you.”
Molpe thought longingly of the little head of fair hair, and wished to see him. But while an heiress might be doted upon day and night, you could not become too attached to a tribal son.
And so, between them, they continued to talk of the future and the palace. It was agreed that Polgara must have more workforce to build the palace, and so she would, once her child was born, make the journey back to the docks and find three slaves, two of which would reside at the palace.
Meanwhile, Anikka had finished writing her journal, which she always tried to write in from time to time. A gift from her mother, it would soon run out, and she was mindful she must speak to her sister about acquiring another. It was full of Chrysanthos’ doings, pressed flowers, and how the tribe would be growing – including the upcoming move to the new palace, which would be larger and according to what she knew, have gardens, real ones.