Daughters of Hesperia – Marcella of Hesperia (1.25)

A year or so later…

It was early in the morning, and Marcella was writing in her journal, filling the precious pages with deliberately tiny handwriting. She kept it in Frankish, to make reading it a struggle, and this morning she was writing about how soon Gorgophone would be living with them, once she was a little older.

However, she had other plans for the day besides keeping her diary, and once dressed, she wandered outside, leaving her mother and Polgara to watch over Odysseus. The princess would be visiting later, as she always did, and Marcella looked forward to it, as she always did. In fact, Anikka was her closest friend, being the only other young girl in the tribe aside from Gorgophone, who, still being an infant, did not exactly count.

Living on Hesperia was a peaceful, if solitary life for those who did, and for Marcella, it was wonderful. She could not remember much beyond this place, although she remembered standing in front of the queen with her mother, in awe of the beautiful woman on the throne. However, other than that, her only memories were of Hesperia and the tribe.

Of course, she knew that her mother was Frankish, and that the language she spoke was something taught to others. Marcella’s own grasp of it came from speaking it with her mother, and Polgara had happily placed her alongside the princess in lessons for ‘immersion’, as she called it. As far as Marcella could figure out, it meant that the princess would do better by being able to speak it with her. According to Anikka, her lessons used to be with Diana when she was just learning.

These days, of course, Diana watched over Odysseus while Anikka had her lessons, or mended clothes – either Gorgophone’s or Odysseus’, and only very occasionally Marcella’s own. Polgara had made comments recently about Marcella learning how to mend her own clothes, too, and had started teaching her how to sew.

But today, none of her lessons mattered, as she saw Anikka heading over. Though slight and small, the older girl had an air of authority that Marcella admired, and she rushed over to Anikka immediately.

“Marcella!”

“Princess Anikka!” she blurted out, forgetting to bow her head, delighted as she was to see her friend.

“How have you been? Did anything happen while I was away? My sister had me learning diplomatic etiquette, so I do hope you have more interesting things to tell me about.”

“Oh, Polgara is teaching me to sew again, and Gatherer Meda brought Gorgophone for a visit. She is getting so big, you would not believe it, but then babies grow so fast. And Mother is telling me the most beautiful story about a princess–“

“Well, is it a Frankish tale?” Anikka demanded, immediately. “And have you written it down?”

“Yes, I did, but I think she made it up herself. I think the princess is supposed to be Frankish, though, because she said she lives in a castle. She was telling me about how the queen wanted to marry the princess off to the King of the Ice Kingdom, who had frozen each of his brides.”

Anikka seemed pleased.

“If it is an original, then that’s alright. You must tell me what’s happened in the story so far, and I shall bring over my book to write it across to there. Polgara says recording things keeps them alive.”

Marcella wished that she could be Anikka, who had been declared a Scholar-in-training. She did not know what she would become yet, though Polgara assured her she would know when she was ready. Sometimes, she thought Polgara must not know either.

As always, she and Anikka went swimming, and as they paddled, she told the story of the princess betrothed to the King of Ice – how her warm heart did not want to marry such a cold man, and how his other brides were statues in a frozen garden. At the moment, her mother had gotten up to a point where the princess had decided to run away, leaving her crown and country behind, but then that was where it ended.

Anikka splashed her with water, laughing.

“Better to run away than to ever be married, especially to some King. Can you imagine a worse fate for a princess?”

“A Frankish princess is not the same as a Hesperian princess, or any Artemisian woman. Mother told me that princesses in the Frankish lands are born to be married off.”

“Far better to run away than to be a Frankish princess, then!” Anikka crowed, as she swam a little further. Marcella laughed, unable to disagree with the princess of her tribe, and followed.

“Far better!” she shouted back, her voice ringing across the water. “Far, far better!”

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