At the main compound, it had been a quiet day.
With Molpe now undeniably with child, Polgara was keeping an eye on her queen as much as possible while still spending most of her time with Anikka. To her relief, the young girl loved stories and very much liked the history of queens. Anything new she could learn excited her, and they had spent this day going over the myths of Hercules. Of course, every girl was taught the myth of Hippolyta resisting Hercules’ attempts to kidnap her as a cautionary tale, but the Taygetian tale of Hercules trying to kidnap an animal sacred to the Goddess, given to her by the nymph who founded the tribe, was somewhat less widely known.
But now, the sun was sinking into the waves, and outside, Septimus was lighting the fire. Polgara began to finish their lesson, knowing that soon, she must put the princess to bed
“Did the sacred hind really get taken by Hercules?” Anikka asked, as she washed her face with a strip of cloth.
“After the Goddess healed its wounds, yes. Remember, she lay a curse upon it that were it not to return, Hercules would feel the pain of every animal he had ever hunted upon his own body. The animal came back on its own, and is, according to legend, still around the Taygetian forests. Their shamans claim that if you see it in a dream, it symbolizes the blessing of the Goddess.” Polgara smiled. “Now, my Princess, it is time for you to sleep.”
“But what about Hercules? What did the Goddess do to him?”
“She showed mercy, Princess. It is an important virtue to display, and we must all be thankful for any she shows.” Polgara gestured to the bed. “Now, you must sleep.”
Grumbling only slightly, Anikka went to change into her nightgown, but continued to talk.
“Hercules committed such a foul act after, though, for the vanity of a king.” The word was said in disgust, and Polgara found herself almost tempted to agree. Anikka would not understand the full implications of the story until she was older, however.
The story of Hercules and Hippolyta warned against men who wanted an Amazon bride. There had been many cases where an Amazon might be kidnapped against their will, for the idea of an Amazon as your wife appealed to too many men. Never mind the ones who died, who found their lives forfeit. Hippolyta had died on the altar of her freedom.
But Polgara knew it was her duty to remind the princess to be careful. Royal women were even more at risk to be targeted. She found herself looking at the princess with worried eyes as the young girl stood before the bed.
“Do you think I will ever dream of the hind?” Anikka asked, in a quiet, sleepy voice.
“I think the Goddess will be watching over you no matter what, Princess Anikka.” Polgara shook herself out of her worried thoughts, and walked over to tuck the princess into her bed.
Anikka sighed with contentment, and snuggled down under her covers.
After waiting for a few moments, Polgara left the room, praying to the Goddess mentally.
Please watch over her, Goddess. She is so young, and alone. Smooth her path. Let her smile in this life.
She made her way to Molpe’s room, having been asked to attend the Queen once Anikka was asleep. This was something they did most nights, unless the Queen’s pregnancy made her too tired to receive guests or unless Septimus and she were having a private moment. Molpe’s pregnancy was, to Polgara’s knowledge, going surprisingly well, despite discomfort and the occasional craving that they could not satisfy with their resources.
“Polgara!” The queen smiled, looking up from her chessboard. “How did my sister’s lessons go today?”
“Well, we discussed Hercules, of whom she already knows, and I explained the myth of the Hind further to her. She was quite taken with the idea, of course, and I think that as your sister, she has a lot of potential already in several areas that would be very useful to the tribe.” Polgara took a deep breath. “She shows a lot of enthusiasm for stories and history, and she remembers them well. She also remembers a lot of what people say, so while currently she remembers every fight and friendship from the girls she used to know, it may become a skill when she is older.”
“You told me she enjoys stories before.” Molpe seemed to be thinking something over. “But you think she has aptitudes?”
“I do, my queen. Until she reaches womanhood, she cannot start any training, but I can continue our lessons more specifically now that I know more about her. Some children prefer natural lessons, or physical exercise, but beyond basic warrior training, I believe that these lessons will be perfect for her.”
“You do not think she will be a Warrior, though.” Molpe’s eyes focused on her.
“No, my queen. Diligence and patience beyond her interests eludes her, but she is intelligent and sharp. If it were called for, she could defend herself excellently, as she has been taught, but I do not think she could follow that path. Nor could we have her help Meda. But she blossoms in the academic lessons.”
“Perhaps we have you and your training to thank for that.” Molpe stopped being quite so focused, instead smiling. “Since we arrived here, my sister has been as a raging storm, but now you are with her, the waters are calm.”
Polgara could not stop the smile that broke over her face.
“I enjoy her company too, my queen. She is an engaging young girl, and I am sure that we will continue to get along.”
“It is good to see her so happy. I know she has sorely missed having companions.” Molpe sighed deeply, but smiled again. “Perhaps soon, I could join you two?”
“Of course, my queen!” Polgara smiled. “I was thinking of taking her over to the garden soon, and I think you would enjoy such an excursion.”
“Oh, yes. I have been meaning to check up on the garden…” Molpe smiled. “We shall go together, then. Perhaps it will be a good chance to bond with her.”
Polgara hoped so. She knew that Anikka still felt guilty about how she had behaved, but she knew also that the little princess had her pride. Still, it was an opportunity for her ward to learn, as well as the queen’s will.