Daughters of Hesperia (1.11 – A New Place)

Theodoric and Molpe started spending more and more time together. It wasn’t noticeable until Otrere was asked to watch over Camilla one night. Being a smart woman, she didn’t ask what the two might be doing, and instead did her best to comfort the little princess, who demanded to see Mama.

“No, sweeting. Come on. I’ll stay with you, just let’s go back to bed,” Otrere pleaded gently, wrapping her arms around the young girl.

11-22-17_1-13-35 PM

She gave a prayer of thanks to Hesperia that for now, the babe didn’t understand why both Theodoric and her mother were absent that night and a couple of others. She just wished that Pallas was as ignorant.

The men had had a brief disagreement by themselves, she knew that much. Pallas had tried to dissuade Theodoric from the path he was headed down, but Theodoric had told him that he had been practically raised for the task, and this was as much his choice as Molpe’s.

11-22-17_12-57-19 PM

Pallas hadn’t wanted to speak about it to her, but he’d spoken to Clodius, who had told her as much as he could.

“Pallas thinks that love leads to death. Theodoric thinks death leads to life. They don’t see both are right.” The blond man had looked pained, and Otrere could only imagine the sort of tension that could be happening in the  men’s quarters. She was glad that she slept alone, aside from the plant in her room.

However, who would be the next father of her child wasn’t the only decision that Molpe had to make. Sickness and war closed in around them, and she knew that she would have to move. Otrere didn’t even have to bring it up.

“I’ve heard of some of the larger islands being unoccupied. I can’t let us get caught up in chaos.” She’d clutched Camilla close. “They say that there’s a storm brewing to the South, and it will head our way if we don’t leave.”

And so the small tribe collected what they could, and travelled to the nearest port. A woman with a ship agreed to give them passage to an island that was known yet unoccupied.

“Too isolated for the likes of most, but I’ll send word to your kinfolk, Lady Molpe. You’re wise to get out now. They say the South rivers will run with blood before long, the way things are going.” She chucked Camilla under the chin. “And this little princess is best being far away from it.”

“I know.” Molpe’s gentle gaze turned steely. “She is my priority.”

The woman had nodded to herself, and they had loaded up the boat with possessions. It was a week before they reached their destination, and Camilla had certainly loved it, yelling out in exuberance as she ran on deck, often trailed by Theodoric, who laughed and swept her up in his arms, or placed her on his shoulders. A couple of the women on board had looked at Molpe’s men with admiration, but Otrere had noticed Molpe looking right back at them coldly.

It was three months since they had arrived. Molpe had gone on shore with Camilla first, and asked Hesperia to bless the land she now owned with her light. Sunlight had come out from behind the clouds, and Molpe had knelt, her hand on Camilla’s shoulder. Then they’d been allowed ashore, Otrere of course being first. They’d brought everything and Molpe had commanded that the men start to build shelter, giving them precise commands that could be in no way misunderstood or ignored.

That mood lasted even now, that cold, distant mood that was so unlike her lady. Perhaps it was the journey that had been the problem. Molpe had been hideously sick.

Otrere froze, standing as she was by the new gardens, her hands covered in dirt from planting.

11-23-17_10-38-49 AM

She couldn’t believe she hadn’t noticed it. Surely Molpe had, and surely she knew what must be done now.

Dropping her tools, she rushed towards the new nursery, past Clodius playing with Camilla, past Pallas, past…past him, and towards where she knew her lady would be. She’d been spending so much time in the nursery on her own. Why not in her own rooms that had been built? Why not there?

Because her lady was thinking of other things. Of how the empty cot would soon (how soon? How long had Molpe hid this from her?) have a tiny occupant, how Camilla would soon have a sibling, and how soon, Theodoric might die.

“Molpe!” she called, as she rushed in, panting. Now, it was obvious – a soft curve to Molpe’s usually flat stomach. How big might the baby be by now?

“My lady, I know,” she puffed. Molpe looked at her and she wanted to crawl back outside.

11-23-17_10-59-54 AM

“Know what, Otrere?” she asked, coldly. Otrere gulped, summoning her courage.

“You’re with child again, my lady. With Theodoric’s child, although you two…you did not…” She gave up, and Molpe stepped back.

“Otrere, I…” She glanced down at her stomach, her hand resting gently there. “I am…”

“You cannot deny it! You are with child, and you know what must be done.” Otrere wrapped her arms around Molpe gently. “You know, my lady. He must give his life for the life of the child. Those are the laws. You cannot go against them, you of all people. How long have you known?”

“Since the voyage,” Molpe said, softly, in a voice that spoke volumes of how her heart must be breaking. Otrere wrapped her arms tighter around the queen.

Molpe pulled back, placing a hand on her stomach. “I wanted her to know her father before he died.” She looked down at the floor.

11-23-17_10-55-59 AM

“Life must be given for life, my lady. You know this as well as I do.” Otrere felt as though she might cry, for her poor, poor queen.

“Then it must be done.” Molpe did not look at her. “The island cannot risk losing Hesperia’s blessing.”

“It’s for the sake of Camilla, my lady.” Otrere tried to comfort her, and Molpe turned away fully, heading for the door without so much as a glance back at her closest friend.

Advertisements

Daughters of Hesperia (1.10 – Getting to Know You)

Theodoric was surprised to find the queen in the nursery when he went to check on the little princess, and surprised to find that Camilla wasn’t there.

“My queen,” he murmured, and backed away slightly, but Molpe gestured to the little cot where Camilla slept.

“It’s fine, Theodoric. Sit down.”

He did so, nervously. He’d kept his distance from the queen, and from the others, not quite able to trust them, even though they tried to get along with him. Melpomene had been very strict with her slaves, and it was hard to forget the rules he’d learned under her rule.

He’d still come to care for his new tribe slightly more than he thought he would, and he liked taking care of Camilla. She reminded him of his young half-sister, Brenhilda.

“Where is the princess?” he asked, unsure and slightly confused. Molpe seemed a little embarrassed.

“Otrere is attempting to teach her some children’s songs and rhymes. I wanted…well, to talk to you alone. Hermia told me you were of good breeding stock, but other than that, I know nothing about you.” She smiled encouragingly, cheeks pink, and he smiled back, relaxing a little. It couldn’t hurt to tell the queen his story.

11-22-17_1-03-22 PM

“My lady, I am the grandson of a queen. My father was a tribal son – her son – and my mother was the Provider. It was considered that she should care for her own baby as well as the other children, and I was raised by my loving mother until I could take on the tasks asked of me by the tribe. It was rationalised that I was of good stock, and when I was old enough, I was sold on to your mother’s tribe. Your sister raised the point that there had been no news from you, and asked your mother if she could send me to you. I have to say, my Lady, you seem kinder.” A look of horror flashed across his face. “Kind! I meant to say kind, my queen. My apologies.”

Molpe laughed slightly. “No, I know what you mean. My kinfolk can be…” She raised an eyebrow. “Determined in personality, shall we say? It sounds better than cruel.”

11-22-17_1-03-33 PM

He couldn’t help but return her smile, feeling a sort of contentment, before Molpe’s cheeks flushed again as she remembered.

“Oh, but…you’re helping Clodius with the garden today, aren’t you? I shouldn’t keep you.” She stood back to allow him to leave, already looking around Camilla’s nursery. She could see little wooden toys here and there that needed tidying up.

As he stood to leave, Theodoric cleared his throat. “My queen…Thank you for taking some of your time to talk to me. I know I’m not a stellar conversationalist, but…” He stopped, shy somehow, unsure of what to say.

11-22-17_1-11-50 PM

But it didn’t seem to matter to the queen.

“It was a pleasure, Theodoric. You’re enjoyable to talk to.” She looked him in the eyes as she spoke, and silence fell when she stopped, both of them looking at each other, not saying a word.

11-22-17_1-11-34 PM

Not for the first time, he was struck by the simple prettiness of her smile, and cleared his throat again. It was dangerous to harbour feelings for a woman, he knew that much. With his parents, it had been an arrangement of necessity and not one made by them.

But she was a very pretty young woman, his new queen. He could see that it might be easy to fall for her.

“I should go find Clodius,” he said, suddenly, breaking that dangerous silence. Molpe nodded, slowly, her eyes not leaving his, and his face burned a bright red as he turned towards the door, heading back out into the sunlight.

Molpe.

No, his queen. He should think of her as the queen, not by her first name. He shouldn’t have let himself stare at her like that, so openly. He wasn’t sure how much a woman could guess from a single look, but the way she’d looked at him had made him feel as though he was standing on a cliff. He’d felt dizzy, and hadn’t known what he might do if he tried to do anything.

If a woman had looked at him in the way that he had looked at Molpe, he would have been embarrassed. He tried not to think much of it as he walked towards the garden, where Clodius was no doubt waiting.

 

That night, Molpe watched her daughter settling into bed, and knew what choice she would make. Camilla would grow up with a younger sibling, even if Molpe had to use every bit of power she held, every trick in the book.

11-22-17_1-09-04 PM

But maybe she should convince Otrere to also undertake this path, sooner or later. Wasn’t three children for the tribe better than two?

 

Daughters of Hesperia (1.9 – A Heavy Heart)

It had been just over a year since the arrival of Theodoric, and the small tribe was busy, mostly with raising the young princess. Camilla had outgrown her original cot, and now slept in her own quarters, a nursery that clung to the side of the queen’s quarters.

Camilla herself looked nothing like the father she had never known. Truly, she could have been the queen at her age – she was as pale as a lily flower, with those dark soulful eyes Molpe also possessed.

11-22-17_12-58-12 PM

However, unique to herself, Camilla possessed a demanding nature, although her charming smile was put to use whenever she found herself in trouble. If something went wrong, a cry of “MaMAAAAAAAA!” would rip through the air, and Molpe would run to see what had befallen her daughter.

More often than not, Molpe would end up scooping up the small girl, and shushing her, walking her around the compound and bringing her to the nursery for a nap once the little princess had tired herself out.

11-22-17_12-52-43 PM

Her motherhood had not changed Molpe’s friendship with Otrere. Otrere, though merely a Gatherer, had become Molpe’s confidante and advisor over the years, and now was trusted with every matter. And Otrere alone knew of Molpe’s worries.

One was the size of the compound. Despite the fact that everything still had its place as was proper, it was also very true that with five adults and one child, things were beginning to be less comfortable than they had been. But how could they migrate? Molpe had bemoaned this fact to Otrere often.

“These lands were given to me. They are blessed by Hesperia herself. Yet if we continue to stay here, soon we will be packed in like cattle,” Molpe said, one night. “And what of when more sisters travel to join us? What then? They wouldn’t know where they must go, if we left.”

However, Molpe never let on in front of Camilla or the slaves that she was even the slightest bit worried. Even to Pallas, it seemed as though his queen was back to her carefree self, all her energy directed to raising her baby daughter.

11-22-17_12-47-46 PM

Still, Otrere knew that sooner or later Molpe’s duty must arise again, and sooner was more likely. One princess did not make an entire next generation of Amazons. Another princess would be ideal, really.

One evening, after Camilla had been put to bed, and was soundly asleep, Otrere decided to bring the issue up.

“My queen, do I have permission to speak freely?” she asked, quietly. Molpe made her way over to sit nearer to her.

“As always, Otrere, my sister.”

11-22-17_12-59-53 PM

“I  need to speak with you about the matter of succession.” Otrere lowered her gaze to her feet.

“Succession?” Molpe asked, innocently, her voice quivering. Otrere sighed.

“There is no use pretending not to know, my queen. Camilla must be raised with her sisters, and you cannot bear only one child. Your role as a creator is to make sure that there is more than one child to carry on your name, so that they will live within our tribe and create the strongest sisterhood to honour the goddess. My queen, I know…” Otrere stopped herself for a minute, and sighed. “I know that the last child you had was borne of heartbreak, but you must guard your heart and do your duty. At least consider it. For Camilla’s sake, if not mine.”

Molpe’s eyes were slowly filling with tears. “Otrere, do not be so cruel. It is for the sake of Camilla and you that I will consider this. But…” She gulped, breathing for a minute, trying not to cry. “I must…retire. For now. In case my daughter wakes in the night.”

Otrere watched with a heavy heart as Molpe walked back to her quarters. It was not lost on her how the queen’s hands dashed away a tear on the way.

 

But, true to her word, Molpe did consider it.

Of the father, she of course could not pick Pallas. She could never condemn the man she loved to death like that. That left Clodius (sweet, dear Clodius) and Theodoric.

She sighed. Theodoric, she still did not know very well. He mostly kept to himself, not talking much to her, Otrere, or the other two slaves – and he did not talk to Camilla, although he would feed her and keep an eye on her. He had always been quiet, ever since Hermia had brought him here.

How could she choose between the two men? It was somewhat impossible. She truly didn’t feel she should choose either of them.

She resolved to at least get to know Theodoric properly before she made her decision. That would surely be fairer than picking blindly.

11-22-17_12-51-22 PM

 

 

Daughters of Hesperia (1.8 – The Past Visits)

It seemed to Pallas as though the light had broken from behind the clouds. Despite the facts behind the baby’s existence, the infant Camilla had charmed her way into every heart. Her mother was rightfully besotted with the little princess, Otrere would do all she could for her, Clodius would sing her lullabies in his native language, and Pallas…well, Pallas would have given his life for her smile.

She was just so small, so very small. He could easily fulfil that part of Septimus’ request. Looking after her was a pleasure, when he could indeed do so.

Molpe would always attend to Camilla when she could, though, which didn’t leave him much to do. He’d never seen her acting so tenderly. Her lips brushed Camilla’s downy head whenever she picked her up, and she called her a host of names. My little Milla. Bunny rabbit. Sweetheart. Sweeting. Littlest one. Darling. Milla-mine.

11-12-17_11-59-47 PM

Not that the baby understood, of course, but the full force of Molpe’s love was on display, and Pallas found it quite bittersweet. He loved hearing Molpe’s voice talking softly to Camilla, but sometimes, he couldn’t stand it.

But things were getting better, surely.

 

He was searching for herbs by the river, as Molpe had requested he do so, when two strangers marched up to him. Or well, the woman did. The man stayed a short distance from her.

“You,” the woman said, shoulders back, eyes narrowed, “Are you not the slave of Queen Molpe?”

He stared at her for a minute, and nodded.

“Good. Take me to her,” she ordered.

He tried not to sigh. This woman would probably not take well to it, after all.

He started to lead them back to camp, a couple of herbs in hand, and tried to think who she could be. He was sure that he’d actually seen her somewhere before, and her attitude reminded him quite vividly of Molpe’s mother.

“Wait here,” the woman ordered the man with her, as soon as they entered camp. He nodded, eyes to the ground. Good grief, Pallas thought, taken aback.

Happily, Molpe was sat by the fire, warming her hands, and he was able to lead the woman right to her.

“Lady Molpe,” he said, in a low voice, and the woman stepped forward.

“Long time no see, Molpe.”

11-19-17_6-47-34 PM

Molpe’s face was pale enough already, but she looked like a ghost as she stared back at the woman.

“Hermia.” She forced a smile. “Come, sit beside me. It has been a while, indeed.”

The woman’s glance was scathing as she looked at the Creator. “Too long,” she agreed, politely. Pallas took the opportunity to step back.

11-19-17_6-50-19 PM

Hermia waved a hand at her slave. “Male. Stoke the fire. I wish to be warm while I speak to the Queen.”

Her slave, of course, did as she said. He must have too much experience with the Amazon not to. Even if she wasn’t Melpomene’s daughter, Hermia had the same temper as her Queen.

11-19-17_6-53-26 PM

Molpe’s heart was beating faster, she was certain. Of all people, Melousa had of course sent Hermia. It was just like her sister to do this.

 

The trouble was that Hermia and she were…complicated. Born within the same week, they had been trained together, and though a friendship of sorts existed…

11-19-17_7-36-50 PM

…they would also constantly bicker as children. Marpe, the Provider, had always told them that it was a terrible thing to constantly fight with your sisters, but Hermia had always been the one to provoke arguments, and Molpe at that age had not been able to resist fighting back.

11-19-17_7-45-16 PM

Sometimes, quite literally.

11-19-17_7-42-36 PM

Hermia had also been very dismissive of Molpe’s future. She could remember her exact words, one time.

“You’ll be nothing like your mother. You’re just going to end up living among men. We might as well lock you in your quarters each night and have you wait on us, like the men do.”

11-19-17_7-41-25 PM

She’d been very upset, but she knew better than to go crying to her mother. Melpomene wouldn’t think that a girl who couldn’t stand up for herself was ready to ever be a Creator. Instead, she pretended not to care, and told Hermia repeatedly that she was just jealous that Molpe would be closer to the goddess.

 

Had Hermia changed from the argumentative little girl? Molpe had to wonder.

“Melousa wishes to know whether you are yet with child. I suppose I’ll have to disappoint her.”

Ah, so no. What a shame.

“I’ve birthed a child already, and the father has been sent to the goddess with honour.” Molpe smiled sweetly, and Hermia smiled too.

“A boy?” she enquired, innocently, and Molpe shook her head.

“A princess.” She took a little bit of pleasure in the way Hermia’s smile dropped slightly. Ha.

“Of course, that’s not the only reason I came here,” Hermia said, quickly. “I am also here to check up on you, and bring you something from home.”

Molpe smiled, contentedly. “Did you not want to see the child, Hermia?” she asked, and Pallas tried not to laugh at the way the woman’s expression changed, almost like she had swallowed a lemon.

Otrere, walking over from the garden, was understandably confused by the sight of another woman, and sidled over towards Pallas.

“Any idea what’s going on?” she asked, and Pallas smiled.

“The Lady Hermia has deigned to visit our queen, but she’s having a hard time picking a fight with her,” he murmured, and Otrere smiled.

“Good for Molpe,” she said, in an equally soft tone, before Molpe smiled over at the pair of them.

11-19-17_6-56-33 PM

“Hermia, may I introduce my most trusted slave, Pallas, and the Lady Otrere?” She held a hand out to Otrere. “Otrere helped with the birth of our princess.”

Pallas moved to sit by the fire as Otrere walked over to Hermia.

“A pleasure to meet you, sister,” Otrere said, her eyes demurely lowered. Hermia’s gaze seemed to stick on Otrere.

“And you,” she said, sounding surprised. “Molpe certainly has all the help she needs. She’s very lucky in her companionship.”

Pallas tried not to glare at Hermia. Could she never stop putting the Queen down? If she and Molpe weren’t from the same tribe, Molpe could have had her executed for her rudeness, by law.

“Ah, no. I’d say that I’m more lucky in the Lady Creator,” Otrere said, softly. “It is delightful to meet somebody who also knows her loveliness well.”

11-19-17_7-02-12 PM

Clearing her throat, Hermia stepped back.

“Ah, yes. That’s…true.” She forced a smile, and turned to Molpe, wrapping her in a hug, which clearly surprised the Queen.

“I shall inform your sister of the princess’ birth,” she said, and Molpe smiled softly again.

“Give her my good wishes, Hermia. And make sure that both of you take care on your journey back.”

11-19-17_6-57-31 PM

The pleased expression snapped back onto Hermia’s face. “Ah, well, about that. I will be travelling back alone.”

Molpe’s smile slipped for a moment. “Excuse me?”

“Your sister has sent you a slave of good breeding stock. He is the son of a neighbouring tribe, and the son of their Provider. It was presumed that you might be in need of a slave, by now.” She was clearly gleeful as she stepped back. “His name is Theodoric. Treat him well, would you? It would be wonderful if he gave you another princess.”

Molpe was speechless.

11-19-17_6-57-49 PM

Otrere, stepping forward, almost said something, but Hermia was already turning her back, walking towards the river.

11-19-17_7-02-51 PM

“It speaks volumes of Melousa’s contempt for me that she thinks she must help me in my duty,” Molpe said, eventually, before turning to Theodoric, who stood unfazed by the fire.

“I cannot say that our meeting was truly as I would wish, but I am happy to welcome you into the tribe, Theodoric.”

The other man looked at her with awe, and Molpe swallowed, as if remembering something bitter.

“You may speak freely, Theodoric. We do not mind.” She smiled, encouragingly, and he stared at her, clearly unsure whether to believe her.

11-19-17_6-54-22 PM

“Well, this is going to be interesting,” Otrere said, frankly. “Clodius knows more words than this puppy.”

Pallas looked over at the man, not quite sure what to say, but shook his head.

“It takes time to unlearn what has been your life. Most neighbouring tribes near Melpomene aren’t exactly as kind as…”

“As Molpe. You can say it, you know.” Otrere gave him a knowing glance. “Perhaps you’re right. But I think that perhaps you might be the best teacher for him.”

11-19-17_6-55-48c2a0pm.png

Pallas nodded, not able to say anything else. True, Molpe was kind, but letting go of his resentment was still proving difficult. Yet with each day, he found his resentment lessening.

He had hope that one day, his hurt might heal, and he would once more see Molpe in the same light as before.

 

Daughters of Hesperia (1.7 – The New Equilibrium)

Otrere was a real breath of fresh air. Even when she was commanding Pallas to work, it was in a light-hearted tone, and only when she needed an extra hand at that.

11-12-17_3-08-31 PM

It helped that between her and Clodius, they kept him from having to talk too much to Molpe, and kept Molpe from needing to talk to him, although Clodius was very much in awe of Molpe.

“Lady Molpa is beautiful,” he whispered to Pallas, one evening, while they were in their hut. Pallas’ heart sunk.

“You’d better hope she doesn’t notice you, Clodius,” he warned him, and Clodius nodded, a flash of understanding in his eyes.

And besides, if they were talking about sheer beauty, Otrere was quite easy on the eyes as well. Often, while she was sat near the fire, Pallas would find his eyes drawn to her slender form, and the way her vibrant hair made her skin seem as pale as the flesh of an apple.

11-12-17_11-34-00 PM

Molpe adored her new sister, too. Otrere would soothe her if she became unhappy, would place her hands on her belly to feel the baby kick, and tell her that one day, her children would know her name as something to be proud of. Slowly, with Otrere lifting her spirits, Molpe’s smile came back.

One night, however, she heard a man talking outside, saw his shadow pass the door, and, having just woken up, managed to forget a chunk of time.

“Septimus?” she called softly, walking to the door and peering through it. But there, instead of Septimus, was a blond man.

Clodius.

11-12-17_11-35-05 PM

Stifling a sob, she walked out regally, only for Otrere to intercept her before she could sit down by the fire.

“My queen. Allow me to serve you.” She picked some meat off of the serving plate, and offered Molpe a plate of the best bits of meat.

11-12-17_11-35-55 PM

“Otrere…” Molpe tried to shake her head, to refuse the food, but Otrere only kept holding the plate in front of her. Eventually, she sighed, took it, and sat down.

“Clodius, Pallas, would you get to bed? I need the two of you up early in the morning,” Otrere commanded, with a grin. The two men looked at each other, and filed off to the men’s quarters, leaving the queen and Otrere alone at the fire.

“So, want to tell me about what’s bothering you?” she asked. She stayed stood up, making sure Molpe didn’t have to look her in the eyes.

“I woke up, and forgot he was dead,” Molpe whispered.

11-12-17_11-37-32 PM

Otrere sat next to her.

“May I be frank, my queen?” she asked, pleasantly. Molpe nodded.

“When my mother was pregnant with my sister, she forgot all kinds of things, especially when she woke in the morning. You’re not to blame for forgetting, and you’ve been blaming yourself for far too long. This is what queens must do. Do you see the queen bee in a hive crying tears over her marriage flight?”

“No, Otrere. I suppose you do not.” Molpe’s voice sounded wooden, even to her, and Otrere smiled at her.

“It says good things of your heart that it would ache for just a male slave. But he will not be the first, my queen, and your heart has something more to focus on.”

Molpe’s gaze did not move from her plate, and Otrere took her hand.

“I believe I know exactly how to cheer you up, my queen. But we must be quiet, so as not to wake the slaves.” Her eyes twinkled mischievously, and Molpe put down her food as Otrere lead her by the hand over to the fountain.

“Otrere?” she whispered, puzzled. Otrere grinned, and helped her step into the fountain, before going around to the other side and staring to climb in.

11-12-17_11-40-23 PM

“Did you never do this as a child, my queen?” she asked, amused. Molpe remembered with a flash what she meant.

Melousa and she had often played in the fountain, as children, and always been scolded harshly by their mother’s court for it. The Provider, Marpe, had always snatched them out of the fountain, ordering them to bathe, and despairing in case their mother found out.

“I did, but won’t we be in trouble?” she asked, still lost in memories. Otrere began to giggle.

“My queen, it’s your fountain,” she pointed out, still giggling.

11-12-17_11-41-10 PM

Molpe began to laugh, too. For once, she wasn’t thinking about what she could have done to save Septimus, but only thinking of how silly she was.

“It is! It’s my fountain!” She laughed. “Otrere, this is my place! I’m queen!”

11-12-17_11-40-58 PM

Otrere swept her a bow, slipped, and fell face first into the water, and as she surfaced, Molpe’s laughter rang out like a silver bell across the grounds.

 

As soon as the  men had returned to their quarters, Clodius had gone straight to sleep, snoring loudly, but Pallas had stayed awake, as usual. He’d heard the laughter, last night, and wondered what the two of them were up to.

You never knew, with Otrere.

When he awoke in the morning, Otrere and the queen were already up, sat by the fountain, giggling like a pair of children. Otrere seemed to be trying to make the queen laugh with every mouthful of food.

11-12-17_11-53-02 PM

Oh well. He began walking to the gardens, to do his morning check of them, when he heard a cry from behind him.

11-12-17_11-53-49 PM

Otrere was staring in shock at the queen, who had dropped the plate of food, and was holding her stomach gently, eyes wide with pain.

“Pallas! Quickly! Fetch Clodius and gather some chamomile from the garden!” Otrere ordered, as Molpe grit her teeth.

“Otrere…the baby…” she whispered, between deep breaths.

11-12-17_11-54-37 PM

“I know, my queen. I know.” The red-haired Amazon began to lead her away. “We must get you settled.”

“Stay with me,” the queen whispered to her, as they staggered together through the door of her quarters. “Otrere, please, stay with me.”

“Always, my queen.

 

It was a rough day, to say the least.

Pallas and Clodius took turns in answering Otrere’s call, bringing all the herbs she required from the garden, and waiting nervously outside for their next order. At one point, Molpe’s cry of pain burst through the expectant silence, and Pallas ached to be in the hut, wanting to help her somehow. The feeling surprised him, but he promised to himself that he would help her, if he could.

Eventually, in the late afternoon, Otrere came out of the hut, with a bright smile on her face, her forehead beaded with sweat. She looked as though she had been running all that time.

“My Lady,” Pallas blurted, “is she–”

“She’s fine, and the babe too.” Her smile grew wider. “And a girl, thank the Goddess. Her name is Camilla.”

Inside the hut, an exhausted Molpe held her baby daughter up in her arms, relieved.

“Welcome, little one,” she whispered. “Welcome.”

11-12-17_11-59-09 PM

Daughters of Hesperia (1.6 – Otrere)

Finally, it seemed as though Hesperia was smiling on the little fledgling tribe and its Creator. Just when Molpe was wandering whether things could get worse, a woman arrived, bringing back hope.

11-12-17_2-41-08 PM

Her name was Otrere, and she was the daughter of a Gatherer, and had left her tribe to take up the same role her mother held in a new tribe, and had been advised by Meleusa to seek out Molpe and her tribe.

Molpe, grateful, immediately set to creating quarters for her, commanding Otrere’s slave and Pallas to create a cabin for the newest Amazon. In the meantime, she shared Molpe’s quarters. Eventually, the pretty little hut was complete, and furnished, but by then, Molpe was in the final stages of her pregnancy, and she and Otrere had become as close as sisters.

But Molpe wasn’t the only one that Otrere had become close to.

11-12-17_2-43-26 PM

Pallas had expected to be ignored, rather than sought out, but as soon as Otrere learned that he had been tending the garden, she came to find him, complimenting him on the care of the plants.

“My mother always said that you could tell when love has been poured into the garden. I’ve seen other gardens, but yours is the first to come close to hers.”

“It’s no longer my garden, Lady Otrere.” He kept his head bowed as he spoke, and she laughed.

“Oh? Is it ours, now? For you must surely know that I can’t completely look after it while I am helping Lady Molpe.”

He stood up. “Lady, you speak as though I will be allowed to continue working on the garden.”

“Oh, I’m the Gatherer. Who’s to say I can’t ask for some manual labour from my Creator’s men?” Her confidence was breath-taking, truly.

11-12-17_2-47-48 PM

“Lady Otrere…” He tried to protest, but she was already walking away, glancing back at him with a grin.

It was true that he loved the garden, but would Molpe allow him to work with the Gatherer? His mother had always worked without the help of the male slaves who were considered so lowly by many Amazons.

Otrere seemed like a Goddess-sent gift. He found her planting strawberry plants by the fence of the garden when he awoke.

11-12-17_2-49-35 PM

“Lady Otrere?” he asked, uncertainly. Otrere grinned up at him cheerfully.

“Pallas! I need you and Clodius to water the boxed plants while I get these settled. Sound like a plan?”

He pushed open the gate, dazed, and the blond slave Otrere had brought with her smiled at him.

“I will help water plants,” he announced, in his deep voice. His thick accent was, for a minute, hard to understand, but Pallas nodded at him, and together, they got the job finished (even if Clodius spilled water quite a few times).

11-12-17_2-52-43 PM

While they worked, Clodius tried to talk to him.

“I am…not good with the language. Lady Otra, she teaches me enough, but it is not easy.” He spoke slowly, with great concentration. “Lady Otra saved me, and I am happy here. Here it is…” He paused. “Here it is beautiful. The garden is beautiful.”

Pallas smiled back. “Thank you,” he said, genuinely meaning it. The garden had received all his care since he had arrived here with Molpe, and especially so after Septimus had passed. To have Clodius say something like that so honestly warmed his heart.

And Otrere had complimented the garden too. Perhaps she, too, had been honest.

11-12-17_2-54-19 PM

As they finished, Otrere walked in.

“I assume the puddles are Clodius’ doing?” she asked, amused. Clodius laughed, and after a beat, so did Pallas.

“Yes, Lady Otrere.”

“Well, I’m sure the garden won’t mind.” She looked as though she might actually laugh, but then shook her head. “I’m glad he has someone responsible like you, Pallas, otherwise who knows what the big bear would do?”

11-12-17_2-57-23 PM

Pallas grinned as Clodius blushed.

“Lady Otra, you are teasing,” he complained, and Otrere winked at him. Pallas felt ever so slightly giddy, and nervous as she beckoned him over, plucking a rose from a bush.

“May I take this? It appears to be an early bloomer.”

“You need not ask me permission, Lady.” He could feel himself flushing slightly. Otrere smiled, holding the rose carefully to avoid the thorns.

“I will treasure it.”

11-12-17_2-58-24 PM