Love Lost (1.4)

Time passed.

Sweetheart found herself busier than she’d ever been. Raising two babies wasn’t easy, and the twins were always everywhere, even if you thought they’d finally gone to sleep. She finally figured out that as long as you expected them to be there, you could focus on work without too much trouble.

Sammy was more curious than outright mischevious, and a little quieter still than his sister. He could be easily distracted, which was a blessing and a curse all at once. Still, he was a sweet little boy, and loved his mother and sister. He also got along wonderfully with Simeon, when they were able to see him.

Eliza was always full of energy, and always crept into Sweetheart’s room to wake her up once she was awake. She was bubbly, energetic, and filled their house with laughter. It was Eliza who had Sweetheart running around after her, and Eliza who got into the paints, and Eliza who had sung the same song for an hour at the top of her lungs.

Sweetheart loved them both dearly, of course. She had been watching them grow and change with some amazement, and she was happy that they got along well, too.

As for the other parts of her life, well…the neighbours still talked, but she didn’t mind that so much any more. Besides, it would have been hard to deny the truth of the rumours when both of her children looked so much like Geoffrey, who she hadn’t heard from still.

But that didn’t matter. She had Simeon now, who always called even when he was in the Realm for his studies. It was good to be able to rely on a partner, for once. It was even better when you were expecting your next child.

Simeon had been ecstatic, hugging her and excitedly talking about baby names. He wanted old-fashioned ones, of course. Probably because of his own, but she’d actually rather liked the name Arabella. Besides, it was easy to shorten it. They’d made lists together, but he’d been called back to the Realm again, as he usually was. With the old Sage retiring this year, there was lots to be done in the school of magic he was in, and all of them were taking care of things. He’d been very reluctant to go, but Sweetheart had urged him that he should.

“The next Sage will probably thank you,” she’d said, with a smile. “Who knows, you might be able to spend more time with me once this is all over.”

“I hope so. They still won’t say who the next Sage is going to be, and everyone’s going spare over it.” He sighed, deeply. “Sootie, I wish I could be here more. I feel like I’m missing out on too much.”

“I can handle things here, I promise.” She’d kissed his cheek. “It’ll be worth it in the end.”

She thought back on that conversation as she dug out some weeds with a trowel. She couldn’t help but think back on it with worry, although she had reassured him. The Realm was unpredictable, and she hadn’t seen him now for a good long while. She could only hope things would be better once the new Sage was announced.

It’ll be okay. It has to be.

Daughters of Hesperia – Baby Steps (1.28)

It was the evening, and Gorgophone was demanding Polgara’s attention, grabbing at her and stomping her little feet. It had been a while since Polgara had dealt with such a child, but she did not mind, and instead crouched down to pick the girl up.

Meda had confided in her that Gorgophone might not take the move well, as she always seemed to want more of Meda’s attention, clinging to her legs and wailing if she were to be put down for a nap while her mother worked. But, as they both knew, this phase was usually just that.

Gorgophone snuggled happily into Polgara’s hair, clinging close.

“There, see? It is not so bad,” Polgara soothed, rubbing her back. “Now, you can come and be put to bed in my room.”

Gorgophone did not seem to pay much attention, and having worn herself out fussing, was easy to coax to sleep, for now. Polgara breathed a sigh of relief. This child would definitely be more taxing than the other two they were raising here.

Early the next morning, Diana heard a familiar whimpering as she drifted between sleep and wakefulness. She thought for a moment it might be Marcella, having woken to her daughter’s nightmares before.

But as she woke up further, she realised it could not be Marcella, for her daughter was too old to make a baby’s cry. She got up as quickly as she could, and hurried through to Polgara’s room, passing Polgara on the way.

“I must attend to Odysseus–” Polgara started.

“I shall see to Gorgophone.” Diana bowed her head, and Polgara gave her a thankful smile as she continued into Odysseus’ room.

They had decided to put Gorgophone’s bed in Polgara’s room, as she would disrupt Marcella’s sleep if they shared a room, and Diana’s room was not big enough for an extra bed. Polgara’s room had been the largest to start with, and it only made sense to let the trained Provider share a room with Gorgophone, who was the youngest of the children.

In the room, Gorgophone was wailing loudly.

“Ma-MA!” she cried out, her lip wobbling. “Mama, mama…”

Diana felt her heart fill up with sympathy for the little girl. She could remember a time when she had seen her sister go through the same thing, unable to understand where their mother was, and who these strangers were that were trying to take care of her.

So, she crouched down, trying to hug Gorgophone.

“It is alright–“

Gorgophone reeled back, shaking her head and pulling all of her limbs back. She looked, Diana thought, a little like a snail that retreated into its home.

“Want Mama!” Gorgophone demanded. “Mama!”

Well, that would be the problem, Diana thought ruefully. She was not Andromeda, nor could she lie and tell this little girl that Andromeda would visit today. Instead, she carefully stepped back, crouching in the doorway.

“I am Diana. I am your friend, Gorgophone.” She tried to think how better to say it in Artemisian, but smiled at the little girl. “Are you hungry?”

This seemed to calm Gorgophone down somewhat, and she blinked at Diana a little bit.

“‘Es,” she said, eventually.

“We can go eat with Polgara?” Diana offered, and this brought a smile immediately to the little girl’s face. She knew Polgara well, and nodded quickly.

When Diana came out of the room, trailed by Gorgophone, Polgara looked up thankfully from cleaning up Odysseus, who had clearly just been fed.

“Diana, you are such a help!” she said, immediately. “I am so sorry, but I could hear Odysseus crying and I must have woken up our little warrior. I did not mean to, but she was crying while I was sorting out Odysseus, and I could not bring him into my room.” She smiled down at Odysseus, who gave her a big, sunny smile back.

“It is good,” Diana told her, making sure that Gorgophone was alright before she sat down. The little girl ran over to Polgara, hanging onto her legs.

“Now, now.” Polgara knelt down, giving her a little cuddle before turning around. “I had better get you some food, hm?” She smiled down at her, walking away, which left the two toddlers staring at each other.

Diana was not quite sure why, but the two children did not play like Marcella and Odysseus had when they were young. Instead, it was like seeing two cats unsure of each other. Odysseus gave her a nervous look as Polgara came back with Gorgophone’s breakfast.

Gorgophone, for her part, was unusually silent, staring at Odysseus. She didn’t seem to know what to make of him, and was frowning at him with a serious little look on her tiny face. He looked back at her, unblinking, and then Polgara sighed.

“Gorgophone! Come here, your breakfast is ready.” She turned to Diana, shaking her head. “She thinks he is strange, I think. I cannot tell exactly what she is thinking, but they will get used to each other, I can only hope.”

Daughters of Hesperia – Royal Decrees (1.27)

Molpe smiled proudly as all three of the men gathered in front of her. All three looked nervous, but waited expectantly for the queen to speak.

“I have glad tidings for you all.” She smiled, looking at Vulmar. “I am expecting a child sometime this year, and I will need your help to make sure things run smoothly for the arrival of the baby.”

Vulmar looked proudly, while Magnus raised his eyebrows, smiling at his friend. The only one who did not react as much was Pallas, who had expected as much when Vulmar had begun staying late at the palace. It had only been a matter of time. Besides which, the queen’s stomach had begun to swell, just as it had when she had been expecting Odysseus.

As Molpe continued to talk of how they would need to prepare for the child, it felt as though it went over Pallas’ head. He thought of Septimus, and of Odysseus, who he now never got to see unless he was accompanying Molpe, which rarely happened. Instead, he seemed to be trusted with palace duties more than most, though it did mean he could help out with the princess’ studies and such. Even so, he wondered what this new child would bring to the tribe.

But this was both natural and practical. He knew that they still did not have an heiress, and that Molpe’s duty was to bear a princess to inherit the tribe.

A mirror of Pallas’ doubts plagued Molpe that afternoon as she sat down with her mother’s chess board, practicing one of the more complicated plays she’d been taught. Her sister had invited Marcella over, and their carefree laughter echoed down the stairs as Molpe narrowed her eyes at the board.

If she bore a girl, there would need to be changes. Polgara would need to come back to the palace, of course, as a trained Provider, and Diana, who at this point could be considered her apprentice even if she could never be anything more, could take care of the children. If she’d had more Providers, it would not have been an issue, but instead, here they were.

But, on the other hand…

If it were a boy, it would be Odysseus all over again, and she would still have no heiress. She tried not to feel that doubt, instead focusing on the measures a princess would need. Polgara could be moved to her old room next to the royal nursery, and Diana was more than qualified to raise the children. Besides, her Artemisian had come a long way, and Marcella spoke both Artemisian and Frankish quite fluently.

Upstairs, Marcella was telling Anikka all the news hurriedly.

“Gorgophone is old enough to come live with us! Polgara made the assessment the other day, and she has asked for Lukos to build what we need to be sent over. She is so sweet, too!”

“How do they grow so quickly?” Anikka asked, amused. It did not seem to her as though it had been that long ago that Marcella herself was Gorgophone’s age, but here she was, excitedly telling her everything.

“I do not know, but Meda said that she will bring her over herself! Oh, I cannot wait! Now, tell me your news.” Marcella looked expectantly at Anikka, who smiled.

“Well, as you know, my sister is to have a baby, but she has said that I may keep record of whoever arrives, and their line. I have already written down what I can, but even though I am not yet a Scholar, she is putting me in charge of this. Is it not wonderful? She says that she will choose my final project, just as Mother would do for a Scholar’s apprentice back home, but that is years away yet.”

“But then you are just like a real Scholar! Have you been writing about everyone? Have you written about me?”

Anikka sat herself down on her bed, gesturing for Marcella to follow suit.

“It is so exciting to think of, Marcella. Just think, one day I will become the person who writes of my sister’s reign, and I will train other Scholars…I may even be written about by them! I am the first Scholar of this tribe, or rather, I will be.”

“You will be the best, I am sure,” Marcella said immediately. “Anikka, this is wonderful! You must be so excited.”

“Well, of course I am!” Anikka giggled. “Molpe is already sending for more paper for me, and she has written to Mother to let her know I will be training as a Scholar. It is just a pity there is no one to train me, but my sister has been very kind and will make every accommodation.”

Anikka could feel her smile getting bigger as she talked. How exciting it was, knowing what she would be doing!

Daughters of Hesperia – Callianassa of Ogygia (1.26)

It was early in the morning when the princess of Ogygia rose, and it was entirely due to her younger sister bawling in her bed. Callianassa sighed as she sat next to Calypso.

“Hush, Calypso.”

“Nassa!” her sister wailed, and Callianassa could only pray her sister had not woken their mother. The queen of Ogygia, as she called herself, was not a forgiving woman, and the walls of their home were thin.

“What is wrong? I am sure it was just a dream, Calypso.” She tried to sound as soothing as possible. “I am right here.”

Calypso’s tears began to stop, with more coaxing and hushing, and luckily their mother did not come into the room. Soon, Callianass was able to convince Calypso that she should sleep, and she was halfway to her own bed when she felt a tug on her nightgown. She gave her sister a reassuring hug, and made sure to properly tuck her into bed.

Callianassa did love her sister, but mornings were always made so difficult by her. But then, that was the way of things around here. Everything was difficult.

Callianassa was being raised under two separate influences – her mother, who told her she was a princess, and her father, who seemed to fear her mother and love his daughters. Her mother made it clear that her father ought to have been dead long ago, but she ‘kept him around’. The idea of losing him terrified the young girl, and she was not at all certain whether she was indeed a princess.

What was she set to inherit, after all? Nothing but this island, where only her family were. There was no royalty to her or her mother, but her mother insisted that they were chosen by the Goddess, and had as much as the very first Artemisian queens had.

As she did every morning, Callianassa dressed and went to sit by the fire. Her father would be catching breakfast, if he could, and her mother would likely just be waking up, having had a full night’s rest. Not like Callianassa, who had dealt with every one of Calypso’s nightmares.

As she was sullenly thinking about this, her mother walked over to her, with an expectant expression on her face, taking a seat besides her.

“Well, Callianassa, where is your greeting?”

“Greetings to the Queen of Ogygia,” Callianassa snapped. “Good morning, Mother.”

Glauce’s eyes narrowed at her. As always, something seemed to irk her, and even if Callianassa couldn’t know what it was, she found that she didn’t care.

“A princess does not speak to her queen in that way. Is this insolence another habit you have picked up from your father?”

“No! Why can my insolence not just be mine alone, Mother? Why must you always blame him?”

“Because this disrespect is his, and it runs in your veins because of him! You are a princess, not some Frankish brat!”

“Or maybe I am angry because I am tired, or because you have made me angry!” Callianassa threw her hands up. “And what sort of princess am I, anyway? I do not wish to inherit Ogygia–“

“That is not for you to decide. You will inherit, guide your sister, and be the princess you are, or so help me, I shall banish your father from your sight. His views should not be foisted onto a princess, after all, and that is what you are. I shall give you until this evening to apologise to me, or he will be punished in your stead.”

She rose, strolling over to where Calypso had wandered from the house, and picking her up with a smile.

“My little princess, who’s my princess?” she asked, loud enough to be heard as she cuddled her close. Calypso giggled, her chubby little hands reaching out for her mother.

And as always, Callianassa stormed off, trying to hold back tears. She never remembered her mother playing with her like that, and instead, it had always been her father. Now, Mother was again threatening to ban her from seeing him.

She ran down to the beach, where she couldn’t hold back her anger any longer, and let the angry tears run down her face, hot and livid. She hated her mother, she hated Ogygia, and she wished this was not her life. Why could she not simply be some Frankish brat, as her mother had warned her against being? At least she wouldn’t be trapped here if she was.

A scream of rage ripped out of her throat, and her fists clenched. It wasn’t fair, to take back all those truths just to appease her mother, and were it not for her father, she would never do it. But she knew that her mother felt it a weakness to be exploited, this attachment to him.

She stamped her feet on the rocky sand, feeling the impact, but finding she couldn’t care, and after a few more moments, she simply cried again. Over and over, she had been told horrible things by her mother, called names, been expected to be a princess. Why should she have to? Why was it that she was forced into this?

If only there were somewhere else for her, she would have taken her sister and ran to it, without hesitation. It would not be fair to leave her behind to be her deluded mother’s next princess, but then how would she ever run away? She was trapped here.

But still, she dreamed.

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!”

Daughters of Hesperia – Gorgophone (1.24)

Meda sighed to herself as she collected the honey from the bees, hearing the gentle hum of the creatures in the air around her. A rainstorm was incoming, and she knew that the bees would need to be kept in their hive until it was over. She could only hope that her baby would not arrive in such weather.

However, according to Polgara, she was due any day, and she could feel the baby moving around constantly, as if impatient. An energetic one, for sure, but she found that her calm had deserted her in this situation.

That night, she awoke in pain, gasping and crying out. Her fears had become true as she rose slowly from the bed, trying to steady her breathing, and calling out for Perseus and Lukos with urgency in her voice.

Polgara would never make it in time, not with the rain. She began to feel prickles of fear all over her body as she focused on her breath. Surely, this couldn’t be happening…

But instead, she commanded the men to do what she knew must be done.

“Heat water and bring rags,” she panted, as they ran in, looking afraid. “Bring me the herbs Polgara brought me last time, and Lukos, you must prepare the other pouch. The Goddess must smile on us, I swear it. She must.”

“Lady Meda–“

“Just do it!” She looked down at her stomach, uncertain, but she was determined it would not show. “We will deliver a new warrior tonight, and we will not falter.”

It was not a smooth path. The herbs were in short supply, and Andromeda found herself shedding tears as she screamed, fervently praying that nothing bad would be allowed to happen. Perseus held her hand as she cried out, and Lukos offered up his own prayers, crushing up the last of the herbs and mixing them with the less effective sort to help them go further. She was grateful for both of her unlikely midwives, and in the end she found herself holding a baby girl, who was blissfully unaware of the strife she had wrought.

“Gorgophone of Hesperia, you are welcomed,” Meda whispered into her daughter’s unknowing ear. “May the Goddess watch you and protect you.”

With trembling hands, she gave her to Perseus, who seemed dazed by her, holding her as if she were the most precious thing. Lukos waited outside, out of respect for this moment. Soon, he would hand over the other herbs, and the Goddess would be appeased, but for now, Gorgophone gave a little yawn, snuggling into her father’s arms.

Her birth had been tumultuous, but Andromeda’s daughter had finally arrived.

Daughters of Hesperia – Preoccupied (1.23)

With Magnus at her side, Molpe had come to visit the Provider’s hut for the first time in what felt like an eternity. In reality, it was mere months, but she had missed her son in this busy time. She felt some hesitancy as she walked towards the door, wondering if he would be upset with her.

“Mama!” Odysseus hurtled out, having been waiting for her, and Molpe knelt down to catch him in her arms, hugging him close.

“Yes, yes, little one, Mama is here. How have you been?” she asked him, as he clung onto her. It warmed her heart to see him so happy.

“We swim!” he told her, proudly, as Polgara followed him out, smiling widely at Molpe.

“Ah, my queen! He wanted to see you so badly, he has been waiting ever since we woke up.”

Molpe straightened up, smiling at Polgara. She had missed her company in recent days, even if this was mostly an official visit. Anikka had told her as much news as she could, of course, but this was much better.

“So, we are to expect the baby any day now?”

“Yes, and I could not be more thrilled. Our tribe is growing so quickly, my Queen, and I am sure that this new child will be as much of a blessing as the rest.”

Molpe smiled. “How is Anikka doing with her lessons, Polgara?”

“Oh, she is as gifted as ever, my queen. It is a joy to teach her, and she asks questions all the time. I much prefer a child who will ask about what she does not know, as that makes things easier for us all. I admit, her questions these days are more about the Frankish culture than about things she truly does not understand. Of course, Diana helps to explain that which I do not know, but the princess is also interested in the stories of all the tribes, and even some of the Frankish tales. I suspect her mind hungers for the new ideas they bring.”

Polgara was right now, and had been right before. Molpe could see her sister becoming more and more of a perfect candidate for their first scholar, and she silently promised to write home and let their mother know what a blessing Anikka would become.

“And you, Polgara? How fare you?”

“Oh, I fare as well as any Provider. My nights are not my own, but Diana has been an excellent help, and both children are well-behaved in my opinion.” Polgara sighed. “Though it is true that I miss the princess. She is a joy to teach still, but our lessons are fewer these days.”

“I shall try to give her leave to visit you more often, then. She does enjoy spending time with the other children, too.” Molpe smiled down at Odysseus. “I wish I could give myself the same freedoms.”

“My Queen, you are welcome to visit us whenever it pleases you.” Polgara picked up the boy, shifting him so that he was comfortable. “Odysseus would be pleased to see you, as would we all.”

Molpe smiled, but made no reply, simply moving the conversation on as politely as possible. She could not visit more often, not now. Instead, she must make her rounds when she could and focus on everything else – Meda’s child, Anikka’s studies, and making sure that all would be well should the worst come to pass. Not to mention, she would soon need to try again to have a child, as there was not yet an heir to the throne she held.

Once she had caught up on all the news and had a soothing conversation with Polgara, she left, bidding her son goodbye, and heading away with Magnus in tow. Polgara watched her leave, and then headed inside. Diana was with Marcella, talking to her in Frankish, and Odysseus ran up to them immediately.

“Cella!” he demanded, only to be ignored.

Diana turned her attention to both children, and soon enough, Marcella was playing nicely with Odysseus, both of them chattering away to each other. It was a lovely scene, and when Marcella came up to Polgara with her arms outstretched, she obliged instantly.

“Is the queen…” Diana hesitated. “Is she happy?”

“Yes, happy to see her son.” Polgara straightened up. “I think she will be back soon, but she seems preoccupied.”

Diana furrowed her brow, and Polgara obligingly switched to Frankish.

“The queen misses her son. She seems to think about other things, and I think she must be busy.”

Diana’s face lit up with understanding, and she sighed herself.

“A queen is always busy. We must do our best.”

“Your Artemisian is better these days, Diana,” Polgara said, with a smile. “Your lessons are going well, it seems.”

“Yes, I must thank you.” Diana bowed, before turning back to the children, seemingly as distracted now as the queen had been. Her thoughts seemed to be entirely elsewhere, though Polgara could not fathom why.

Daughters of Hesperia – Lullabies (1.22)

It was a quiet summer evening, with the cool winds a relief from the oppressive heat that they had struggled with through the day. Both children had fussed in the unbearable heat, and in the end, they’d had to stay indoors, amusing them as best they could.

Diana looked down at her daughter, who blinked sleepily. Now, there was a blessing.

“Mama…” Marcella reached for her, and Diana merely smiled, sitting gently on the small bed.

Now Marcella, it is time to sleep. Mama must sleep too.”

I want Mama to sing.”

Diana looked into her daughter’s bright eyes, and smiled softly at her once more, before settling on a lullaby she had heard in her own childhood.

In Odysseus’ room, Polgara finished tucking in the young boy, and heard the Frankish lullaby drifting out of Marcella’s room. Behind her, Odysseus yawned, settling down under his own covers as the candle flickered.

It was good to see Diana so happy, so settled. Gone was the nervous demeanor, the uncertainty. Instead, she seemed sure of herself these days, and she was a great help to Polgara. It was like having a second Provider on hand, sometimes, although Diana of course did not know all the duties. But she would do her best, which would be an even greater help when Meda gave birth and they had another child to care for.

Besides, it was nice to hear her singing to Marcella every night. Diana had a soft, soothing voice, and it drifted nicely into the evening air.

Diana herself walked into the main room as Polgara did.

“She sleeps.” Diana smiled. “Now I sleep also.”

That was another thing. She was making an effort to say as much as she could in Artemisian, and thanks to their lessons with and without Anikka, she was improving every day.

“Thank you for today, Diana. Your help was appreciated greatly.”

Diana went quiet for a moment, and then bowed her head, retreating to her room as Polgara sat down at the table, wanting a few more moments of quiet before she went to her own bed.

Meda had seemed a little more withdrawn the last time they had spoken. Then again, Meda was somewhat quiet, so Polgara might just be reading into things. Perseus, by comparison, had proudly been helping Meda with everything he could, excited for the birth of his child.

Then there was Anikka, whose intellect, fierce as ever, had been progressing well. She could hold good conversations in Frankish, demanded to know more about the legends of the tribe, and had started writing down things herself. She had recorded the names of each warrior, and also the arrival of Diana and Marcella, who she adored as if she were her own sister. Polgara felt a bittersweet twist in her heart as she thought back to those first days, when she had been tutoring the princess and living in the palace. She was not afraid to say that she missed spending so much time around the princess and the queen.

It was not just Polgara lost in thought, however. In her own room, Diana was thinking with a faint pull on her heart about her family, and how much her life had changed. Who she was, how she was treated – all of that was completely different these days. She had only wanted the best for her daughter, in the end, but sometimes she thought back to who she used to be, and all those last moments. Her last bite of her favourite meal, her last walk in the gardens…her last kiss with the man she loved. If she had known each would be the last, perhaps she might not have taken it for granted quite so much.

It was not that she regretted the path she had chosen. After all, it was this path that led her to being a mother, to Marcella, and to being taken in by such kind people. But at the same time, she missed what she had before, and who she had been. She did not consider herself quite the same person, either. She had needed to become someone different in the process.

She sighed, quietly, and climbed into the bed, closing her eyes and letting her tiredness overtake her thoughts.

Elsewhere, Meda looked over at the cradle Perseus had built, and the smoke of the candle being pushed by the night breeze. She had felt lost in her own head, recently, ever since she had realised she was with child. But for some reason, she felt calmer tonight.

Her queen had been full of praises for her, and had high hopes for the baby, Meda knew. Still, it was not as if they could relax, what with the storm that might be brewing among the Franks. She closed her eyes, trying to keep her thoughts clear of that, offering up a silent prayer.

Please, Goddess, watch over us. May my baby be healthy, may she be a strong warrior. May our tribe grow from these tiny roots of ours.

Daughters of Hesperia – Callianassa (1.21)

Life was miserable, for Theodon.

Instead of killing him after the birth of their daughter, Glauce had ordered him to continue serving her. She seemed constantly pleased with herself, and were it not for their child, Theodon might have indeed…well, he did not know what he would do, but Callianassa, their child, needed him. Glauce was ecstatic to have a ‘princess’, but she expected Theodon to care for the child.

“I am queen now,” she would say, without so much as a glance at their daughter. “You must attend to her now she is old enough.”

Old enough. That Glauce thought of a mere babe in such terms shocked him, but he willingly took care of his daughter, soothing her when storms frightened her, feeding her, and making sure she was put to bed when needed. All things a Provider should do, all things that in his homeland a mother should have done.

Their little hut was hardly a palace, either. It had taken him a lot of time to build, but Glauce acted as though it were a palace. He had no time for her delusions of grandeur, though she insisted that by Amazon law, an Amazon outside of a tribe could set up a tribe as she pleased.

He did not know, and did not care. Their child barely had anything, and he was exhausted. But to see his Constantina again, he would do just about anything. If only Glauce was not so aware of that.

He wondered about her, his lady. He had doomed them both with his decisions, but he’d known that what they were doing was against the laws of their land. Had she been simply a lady that would have been quite another thing, but because she was so much more than that, because stakes had been placed against her, what they had done was a crime on his part. But they really, truly had fallen in love.

Yet it hadn’t started like that. It had been a little like a game – he knew she liked him, so he thought it fun to smile at her and watch her face fill with colour. He found himself watching her more, and the women who had been fun to be around grew dull in turn.

And yet, as soon as his daughter was born, he’d found himself looking to her, trying to make things easier for her. Perhaps some of that was the guilt of not being able to be there for his other child, who he had never seen. Son or daughter, he was absent from their life, and this little one needed him now.

Glauce had become worse, recently. It was as though something had possessed her, driving every bad trait to its height, and she was eager to find fault wherever she looked.

“You were singing that awful tune earlier.” She glared at him. “The princess is not to learn such awful things.”

“What are the songs of the tribe of nowhere?” he snapped back at her. “What traditions do we have, what laws?”

“Oh, you shall see the laws and traditions if you teach her such vile things. She is a princess, and you are nothing to her, do you understand me? She has no father, she has no mother but a queen. She is of Tribe Ogygia, and she is not to be treated like one of your Frankish brats.”

He reeled back from her words. She had been claiming that they were this Ogygian tribe for a while now, but this heightened anger made him hope that Callianassa was sleeping after she had been put down for a nap.

“Bring me my food tonight,” she said, after a moment of silence. “And ensure this does not happen again.”

Was his life simply this from now on? Would he merely be her servant all his life? Surely Callianassa deserved better than this, even if he did not.

The Whitmore Legacy (3.5)

It’s been a while! Welcome back to the Whitmore Legacy, folks!

After Noelle’s death, Daphne came by to see her brother and Lori.

Daphne: I can’t believe Mom’s actually…gone.

Lori: She’ll be with us again soon, Daphne. Would you like to come sit down?

Daphne: Gosh, you’re almost ready to pop! Are you excited?

Lori: Almost as excited as I am for Ami to be a big sister. We’re thinking this time Poe for a boy, Breha for a girl.

Daphne: That’s perfect. I mean, Breha? That’s just perfect for a girl!

Hermes, meanwhile, is really rising up the ranks as an artist, and now has an agent to help negotiate for his paintings.

Elsa also came to visit. I’m pretty sure she’s Lori’s best friend at this point, so we’re likely to be seeing a lot more of her.

Elsa: Hey, I came to give my condolences for Noelle. Is Hermes doing okay?

Lori: Throwing himself into work, playing with Ami…He’s really upset about his mother, but I guess I’ve just got to be there for him as much as I can. I know this kind of thing can be tough.

Lori: I just want to be there for him right now, though, and explain it to Ami, too. I miss Noelle too, but I have to be there for both of them as much as I can.

Elsa: Just try to take things slowly, okay?

Meanwhile, Hermes met with his grandmother in the graveyard.

Hermes: Is…Mom okay?

Nia: We’re helping her cope. Going from corporeal to this form is never easy, Hermes. It takes a lot out of you, and it’s a bit of a shock, but she’s still thinking of you, and she’s been reunited with your father. Give her time, that’s all you can do.

Speaking of time, Ami aged up! She’s uncannily like her mother in looks, so I’ve given her a purple theme overall.

She’s still pretty sad about Noelle’s death, as the two of them were very close when she was just a baby. It took a while for her not to be constantly unhappy about it.

However, her dad is there for her, and she absolutely adores him! He’s really been on top of this whole ‘dad’ thing. Also, aren’t her pyjamas so cute?

Lori’s also been busy looking after Ami, even though she’s heavily pregnant at this point.

They’ve been playing with the dollhouse together.

Lori: And then Princess Leia led the rebels against the empire…

Ami: Dada! You gotta be the dragon!

Hermes: Don’t I have to be a knight protecting the princess?

Okay, enough Spamidala for now, because I have very exciting news…

Lori gave birth to a baby boy! Meet Poe Whitmore!

Lori: Shh, shh…

With that lovely news, I’ll be wrapping up this episode.

Until next time!