Daughters of Hesperia – To Aid Others (1.14)

As Molpe awaited in the flickering candlelight, she was thinking over what this could be. A sign, perhaps, from the Goddess, but without a priestess to act as interpreter, signs were hard to understand.

Yet even she knew that there was only one path that a tribe could take with a woman who needed help, and that was to take her in, whether as a member of the tribe or something else. Pallas had seemed unnerved by the situation, something that worried her, but when pressed he had told her that the woman had a young girl with her, and both of them were garbed in fine clothes that looked torn and stained.

A woman and a young girl.

There was no way that Molpe could turn them away, and she did not even wish to, but the timing was so strange. Could Polgara really take care of so many children all at once?

Pallas called from outside. “My queen, I have brought her here.”

“Send her in.”

* * *

The woman in front of her was dressed as Pallas had described, but she was also younger than Molpe had anticipated. In fact, if Molpe was any judge, this woman was around the age of her younger sister, and yet something about the way she watched the girl almost anxiously made Molpe feel a pang of sympathy.

“Come forward.”

The woman stared blankly at her, and Molpe frowned.

“Come forward, if you please.”

The woman spoke in another language, and with a start, Molpe realised that this woman was speaking Frankish, the same language that traders spoke. She could understand some of the words, but she still held up a hand.

“Please repeat that.”

We are–” Here, she said a word Molpe did not know, and clutched the little girl tight to her. “Please, help us.”

Molpe repeated the word under her breath, and searched her memory. As Polgara often dealt with the traders, the queen did not often have a reason to practice her Frankish, but as part of her lessons she had been taught the basics of the language.

What is that word?” she asked.

Pallas bowed his head from the doorway, and Molpe nodded to him, signalling that he might speak.

“It means…lost, my queen. I have heard the traders use it to describe ships that have been sunk, but it is a very…peculiar word.” He gave the woman a strange look, before averting his eyes again.

We do not know this land.” The woman seemed almost afraid. “Please, help us.”

I will help you.” Molpe rose. “Here, I am queen, and I will help you.”

Where are we?”

I am queen here on Hesperia. Do you understand?” Molpe looked at her. “Now, we talk.

Queen…” The woman’s eyes widened. “Then we are in Amazon lands?”

Do not talk when I do.” Molpe was exhausting her knowledge of Frankish, but the woman looked down.

You need our help, but you do not rule here. I do.” Molpe stayed standing. “I am Queen, and I do not yet know what you need. But I will not have you talk when I am talking. Now, speak.”

The woman bowed her head. “My apologies. My daughter and I have had a long journey, and then we were left on a nearby island by a…” She looked almost embarrassed. “The ship left us there. But we found a small boat, and came here.”

Your daughter?” Molpe looked at the little girl, who looked tired and a little scared, and she could not help but feel her heartstrings tug.

This is Marcella.”

And your name?”

The woman said a name, a long Frankish one, before repeating something shorter. Molpe frowned.

Diana?”

I…” The woman hesitated before nodding. “Yes, I am Diana.”

Something told Molpe that had she called this woman any name, she would have taken it. Still, prolonging this conversation now would do no good to anyone.

You have a choice. You may stay the night and leave in the morning, as is tradition, or you may join us.”

The woman looked surprised, but Molpe held her gaze steadily.

The night?” she whispered, looking down at her child.

Hospitality. We must welcome you both, and if you take that night, you must leave in the morning.” Molpe sighed. “My tribe is still young, and I have children to protect.”

This clearly struck a chord in Diana, who looked down at her own child.

We…we will…”

Decide in the morning.” Molpe sighed. “You need to sleep, and so does your daughter.”

Diana looked grateful, and Molpe looked to Pallas.

“Pallas, take them to Polgara and help her move Odysseus into my room. I cannot risk my son. Have Polgara tell Anikka to stay in her room, and we will move some blankets into the nursery for these two tonight. Make sure they are fed as well.”

“Yes, my queen.” Pallas began gently shepherding Diana and her child away and up the stairs.

Please, Goddess, let this be the right choice, Molpe prayed. Please let this decision be the right one.

Daughters of Hesperia – The Issue of the Queen (1.13)

While she loved Odysseus as was only natural in a mother, Molpe left most of his care to Polgara. She would see him on occasion, and take delight in feeding him, but as queen, she had duties to attend to.

One such duty was thinking over the problem her son presented. He was not an heiress, and her body needed time to recover according to Polgara, and yet the tribe needed to grow as quickly as possible. There was also a feeling that since the Goddess had not blessed them with a girl as their very first child, that she had not done enough to appease their Goddess, but such feelings could not be assuaged without a priestess.

So, they needed a priestess to help guide them back towards the Goddess’ path. Where was one to be found? It could not be Anikka, for she was too young, and her mother had already found them two tribe members. If she wanted a priestess, she would have to communicate with the tribes herself, and she wasn’t quite sure that she wanted to do so by begging for more members. However, they needed someone who could connect with the Goddess.

Molpe also knew that she needed to speak to Meda and urge her to choose from between the men. Polgara needed to look after Odysseus and Anikka, and so could not be expected to take time away from her duties, but Meda had a choice of two men, and that was a choice that their Gatherer needed to make.

“We will survive,” Molpe said to herself, firmly. “We shall survive past this, and reach the Goddess again.”

In her heart, however, the girl she had once been wished for the Goddess to send them a sign – anything to prove that she still watched over them.

* * *

Anikka blinked down at her nephew. He was so very small that she wasn’t quite sure what she should do with him, but his focus went from her to other things so often that she almost felt awed when he did look at her.

“Princess Anikka, do you wish to hold him?” Polgara asked.

“I have had brothers before,” Anikka answered, as if in a daze. “And nephews, too, but there were always so many babies…” She kept staring at Odysseus, who yawned and closed his eyes.

Polgara knew what she meant. On the Isle, she had taken care of several at a time, but for there to just be one baby seemed very quiet indeed. And he was certainly a sweet baby, there was no denying that.

“Will we be walking tomorrow?” Anikka asked.

Polgara shook her head. “I must make sure Odysseus is fed, Princess Anikka, and the sun would be too hot for him.” She smiled at the young girl. “Why not bring your journal down here? I am sure he would be grateful to your spending time with him.”

* * *

Molpe walked out of the palace to see Pallas waiting, looking unnerved. As soon as he saw her, a look of relief passed over his face, and he hurried over as quickly as he could.

“Speak.”

“My Queen, I must report something to you.” He looked down. “I was walking along the beach and around the palace, and I have found…someone, but she does not speak our language and she is in distress.”

“She?” Molpe frowned.

“I cannot tell her name, but she is exhausted and…oh, my queen, I do not know what I am to do.”

“You ought to have brought her to the palace already.” Molpe frowned at him. “Or do you think an exhausted woman is an assassin?”

He bowed his head in apology. “I did not wish to disturb you, my Queen, or the new baby, and of course with Princess Anikka, I wished to be careful. I simply waited for you.”

“Very well. Bring her to me now, and I shall wait for her.” Molpe turned around.

“There is something else, my Queen!” Pallas called.

“What is that?”

“She…has a child with her.”

(This beautiful dress can be found here, and the toddler hair can be found here !)

Daughters of Hesperia – The Firstborn (1.12)

Polgara heard the cries of her queen from the nursery, and ran as fast as she could. Molpe was supposed to be resting, as her child was due soon, but when Polgara reached the room she found Molpe stood over the cradle, clutching her stomach.

“My queen!” Polgara cried out, rushing forward and taking her in her arms, trying to walk her away from the cradle. It was clear from her cries that the queen had gone into labor, and would need help.

“My…sister…”

“Sleeping, my queen,” Polgara steered her away, trying to get her towards the bed.

On the Isle or indeed any well populated Amazon territory, many would be able to attend and help a queen during labor, but here, Polgara would be the only one. She took a deep breath, steadying herself as she laid Molpe down on the bed. Polgara would need to see Molpe through this virtually by herself.

***

The next morning, a gurgling baby rested in Molpe’s arms, while behind her Polgara tried not to worry. The baby was healthy, at least, and Molpe was speaking softly, but…

Odysseus was a boy.

Their firstborn was a male, and of course, someday, would die. His children could not even inherit the throne. And for the firstborn of the tribe to be a boy was worrying.

“He is precious, Polgara, do you not think?” Molpe asked, dreamily. “So small…”

“All babies are so, my queen.” Polgara cleared her throat. “I shall need to ask his father to come see him soon, of course, and then…”

“Oh…” Molpe seemed to awaken from some sort of trance. “Of course, Polgara. And have Meda sent to me, too. I need her to make her decision soon.”

Polgara nodded, and came over to help the queen return to her bed. “Rest easy, my queen. I will take care of all matters while you rest. I will take care of it all.”

Molpe smiled gratefully as Polgara eased her under the covers of her bed. “Thank you, dearest Polgara. You are of great service to your queen.”

Polgara stood over the cradle, looking at the baby. He was not an heiress, but on the bright side, he was a healthy child, and very sweet. She found herself drawn to talk to him.

“You and I will be friends, Odysseus,” she said, gently, “for I will raise you. I will provide for you, and you will have as happy a life as you may, but I will be your protector and provider.” She smiled at him, and he stared up at her, not understanding a word.

“Your father is coming to meet you.” She lowered her voice. “You may only see him once, but he will give his life in exchange for yours, and thus he will be giving you the greatest gift of all. As you are given to us, he will be given to the Goddess. You will see him.” She moved as if to pick him up, but heard footsteps and moved away from the cradle.

“Septimus?” she called out.

“Yes, my lady.”

The visit was short, but Polgara averted her eyes as Septimus faced his son, the firstborn of Tribe Hesperia. She heard him sniff as though he was weeping, but whatever he said to his son, whatever words of love and affection were given, those stayed between the two.

And as she had promised Molpe, Polgara took care of everything as she led Septimus into the trees nearby. She gave him the vial that she had asked Andromeda to prepare, and held his hand after he drank from it, staying with him until the very end, and when the sun rose she came back alone.

Daughters of Hesperia – A Royal Visit (1.11)

Meda was checking the hive earlier than usual, preparing for the visit of the royal sisters and Polgara. She had not really met Anikka, and wanted to ensure that everything was perfect for their visit. Of course, she would warn both the princess and the queen to be wary of the hive, as she did not want to lose even a single worker bee.

“It is unusual for you to be up and about so early.”

Meda turned away from the hive with a smile.

Perseus stood a short distance away. Since they had spoken, he had seemingly made a conscious effort to behave himself, and while he still did not act with the decorum that Lukos did, he behaved in an acceptable enough manner. Meda had to admit she was impressed.

“Are you truly worried about this visit? I am sure everything will be to the taste of the queen, Gatherer Meda.”

“I am simply making sure everything is ready. But I would be grateful if you would see about preparing some of the herbs to send back to the palace, and store them in my quarters.”

Perseus nodded, and walked away, while Lukos came up behind her.

“Do you wish us to meet the queen today, my lady?” he asked, quietly.

“No, for she comes with the princess. Were it just for the queen, I might wish to introduce the two of you so that she might get to know both of you, but this is ostensibly an educational trip for the princess. It would be…desirable for the two of you to spend as much time on other tasks as possible, or even to go swimming.” A bee buzzed around her dress, and she let it, staying as still as possible.

“Understood, my lady.” Lukos smiled. “I know our queen is protective of the princess, and I would not wish to worry her.”

As Anikka had been confined to the palace and its grounds and placed under supervision, visiting the garden compound was a rare treat. She had been taken with the idea of Evadne, and her cloak of flowers, and she wondered what their own Gatherer was like.

When she had been informed that Molpe would be coming with them, she had not known how to feel. Still, it was not as though she could argue with her sister more than she already had, and she was not even sure that she wanted to.

But as soon as they arrived, she forgot her worries, racing ahead of the party to look around the small garden, amazed at how the plants were blooming.

It was not just the plants, either, but the lush scenery. A waterfall gushed behind the compound, and the sea was closer than it was at the palace. Should Anikka wish, she could easily go paddling, and the heavy smell of greenery almost overwhelmed her.

“Princess Anikka!” Polgara caught up with her, a smile on her face. “Princess, you must not rush off like that.”

“This place is so beautiful!” Anikka was unable to stop herself. “It smells so lovely, and the sea is so close…”

“It is very lovely. Meda and the men worked very hard on making it the perfect place to raise the plants we need. See how they are in boxes? That is so they can grow in soil, even here, and be looked after perfectly. Sand can be a good place to grow plants, but it is not always so.”

“And I can hear the bees!”

“Meda has asked us not to get too close to the bees, Princess Anikka. They do not know us, and so may be afraid. Why not look at all of the plants? I am sure they will not be so defensive.”

As Anikka ran off to do so, Polgara watched her with a fond smile.

It was not a secret that she was happy to care for her ward, and she had found her a very engaging child. To see her having so much fun felt so rewarding.

Meanwhile, Meda and Molpe were walking together, the queen now slower in her walk due to her pregnancy.

“The bees seem to be settling in well, my queen, and I do not see any sign of a rival queen yet, so we should have an uneventful summer here.” Meda smiled. “They are happily producing honey, and helping with the garden. In fact, they have taken to the change better than I could have hoped.”

“And the men?” Molpe asked, quietly.

“Much like the bees, my queen. They have settled in very nicely.” Meda smiled. “They have been a great help to me, and I know that we will bring in good harvests for the tribe.”

Molpe paused. So far as she knew, Meda had not yet formed an attachment with either man, although as an Amazon, she was well within her rights to. However, with a tribe so small, she could see why her Gatherer was more focused on her duty rather than anything else.

She smiled at Meda, confidingly.

“You know, you have not told me much of them, still. I know only what I have heard from the men in the royal compound, and they are quick to tell me that Lukos and Perseus are working hard, but not much of their personalities.”

“Well, they both work hard, and at the moment there is so much groundwork…but Lukos is very dutiful, while Perseus is slightly more lighthearted.” Meda seemed to be careful with her words, and looked puzzled. “May I ask why you wish to know about them, my queen?”

“Meda, they likely will end up as fathers one day. Getting to know them, even by proxy, will be of use to me.” Molpe stifled a laugh. “And I must admit, I want to know which you may pick. Call it entertainment, if you must, but I am curious.”

“Queen Molpe…”

“I understand you are not thinking of it at the moment, Meda, but it is interesting to think that you may end up choosing one of them. My mother and her best friend used to place bets sometimes on who would choose which man, and I suppose I see the amusement of it now.”

Before Meda could answer, Polgara and Anikka came up to them, with Anikka excited.

“I recognised some of the plants!” she announced, proudly.

“Indeed. The princess has been paying attention in her studies.” Polgara smiled warmly. “She recognised them just from seeing them in the books, my queen, and was even able to list off some of the uses.”

Anikka seemed a little unsure, but Molpe smiled down at her. “Anikka, that’s wonderful! You clearly have worked hard.”

“I have!” In her excitement, Anikka seemed to forget her awkwardness. “We have been studying plants so that I would be prepared for the trip, and I have been learning so much! Polgara said that some of what was in the books is for Gatherers to reference, but that some plants are useful because you can make poultices for wounds out of them. She said I can learn to make some in our lessons next week!”

“A poultice is a useful thing to learn for any warrior, and yet more useful if you can find the plant.” Molpe looked to Polgara with approval. Learning to make treatments was a good lesson for any young woman, especially one who would be nearing the age where she would start to begin more strenuous training.

“Why don’t you show me the gardens?” Molpe asked her sister. “I should like to see the plants that you know, if you should like to show them to me.”

Anikka seemed slightly hesitant, but nodded, turning and walking back slowly towards the gardens. Molpe followed behind her, smiling as she looked at her younger sister.

Certainly, she seemed brighter since Polgara had arrived. Her energy seemed to have blossomed, and her enthusiasm was lovely to see, though she was still unsure around Molpe. But seeing her so happy was a delight to the queen’s heart.

Daughters of Hesperia – Myths and the Truth (1.10)

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.

Daughters of Hesperia – Adjusting (1.9)

Meda took a deep breath as she looked out over the garden. It had taken quite a while to build this space, but it had definitely been worth it, though she would have preferred to have been working with some apprentices, as she was used to doing back on the Isle. Still, Molpe had arranged that she could have slaves in this separate compound, and Lukos and Perseus were both very helpful.

She knelt, her mind absently running over how she had arrived here, in this place, as a lone Gatherer.

From a young age, Meda had been left with the Gatherers while her mother worked with the bees. Phoebe had been firmly of the opinion that she would not allow her daughter near the bees until she was ready, because if Meda were to be stung, it would be doubly bad – the hive would lose workers, and Meda might develop a fear of the creatures.

The other northern gatherers had instead done their best to school the thoughtful, quiet child they had been left with, along with their own daughters. Phoebe was one of four de facto leaders, each in charge of the hives at a different point on the island. Each of the other leaders seemed to have multiple children, but Phoebe only had Meda.

Eventually, when the gatherers had come to the conclusion that the girl was ready, Meda had been carefully introduced to the hives, and taught everything around them that was capable. Her mother was proud of her, and eventually, she had become a Gatherer herself, helping in the gardens, mixing up treatments for any troubled hive, and doing her best to be an asset.

But when Polgara came to the Gatherers, stating that the tribe she was headed to did not have a Gatherer, things had changed. All the youngest Gatherers had been rounded up, and Polgara asked if any of them wished to journey with her. Meda and a few others had stepped forward, and from them, Polgara had chosen Meda and taken her to meet Queen Clodia, mother to Queen Molpe.

All this, Meda remembered quietly, while behind the fence the two slaves began talking idly.

“Do you think the queen will have a daughter?” Perseus asked, while Lukos smiled.

Both were good-natured men, who had been introduced to the tribe. Perseus was talkative, although Meda knew he was not Amazon born. He and Lukos had both arrived into port at the same time, on different ships, and Polgara had picked them out personally.

Lukos was more thoughtful, more quiet. He was a tribal son, and had arrived on the Taygetian ship that sometimes came by that port. He had gently taught Perseus what he needed to know, and through patience, Meda knew more about both of them now than she had when they had helped her set up the beginnings of this garden.

Perseus’ mother had been a concubine, and had the misfortune to bear a boy when the wife of her master had done so. The idea of a political rival to her son had enraged the wife, and so both Perseus and his mother had been tossed aside. Perseus had been raised as a servant to his brother, until he was old enough to be sold.

He was saddened by this, of course, but the new freedoms of his life seemed to cheer him greatly, though he seemed a little taken aback by the idea of dying once an Amazon had a child.

Lukos, on the other hand, was the son of a Scholar. His tribe was a smaller one than the Isle, but larger than Hesperia, though he did not often talk about it. His mother had been a distant figure to him, one he barely saw. Instead, he had lived with the slaves from a very young age.

“Meda, what do you think?” Perseus shouted. “Lukos will not answer me!”

In a rare show of amusement, she smiled warmly at the two of them.

“For good reason. We do not yet know whether the queen will bear an Heiress, and we must be patient, Perseus.”

He gave her a reproachful, boyish look, but she simply smiled at him again.

“Any baby will be a blessing on the tribe, and one we thank Hera for. It is she who watches over the queen, not us.” She gestured to him. “Come, Perseus. I need some assistance with the newest plants. This sun dries them out so quickly.”

He climbed over the fence, startling a laugh from her, while Lukos shook his head.

“My lady…” he said, and Meda sighed.

“I will attend to it, Lukos. Will you go fetch some fish for our dinner?”

“Meda, is something the matter?” That winning smile was on his face again, but Meda knew she had to address this.

“Perseus, your manners are fine by me, but they will not be so by the queen. I know that your freedoms here are wonderful…but if you address the queen so casually, or act so in front of her…or even Polgara!” Meda sighed in exasperation. “You must learn not to be so bold in front of us. We are not the women you are used to. We will not wear courtly dresses, or be married off, or married at all. Our civilisation is one that is quite different to the one you knew, and now you are part of it.”

Though her tone remained light, her face was worried, and even Perseus knew she was serious.

“I…Well, it…” He felt tongue-tied.

Meda was sometimes very disconcerting to Perseus. She was, of course, quite right. He was not used to women like them, and when he had been told that he would be assisting her along with Lukos, he had been quite at ease with it.

But were the queen to see him acting like that, it could be trouble for everyone. He did mean well, but sometimes he crossed into insolence.

What are you, a boy trying to get attention?

“I would never act like this in front of the queen,” he said, instead.

“And how can I accept that? You act like this so often.”

“Well…I cannot be Lukos, Meda! I was not born into this. I have not known this all my life.” He huffed.

“You act as though I have slighted you, Perseus. Is something wrong?”

He swore she knew more than she was letting on, and he let out a sigh.

“I feel as though you prefer him, sometimes.” He felt embarrassed admitting it. “He seems to receive your attentions more often.”

“You really do have much to learn.” Her blue eyes landed on him. “For you, this may seem strange, but my giving orders or speaking to you is not attention. It is merely performing my role as a Gatherer and as a warrior. You, on the other hand, must learn what is and is not attention.” She sighed, before continuing. “You are used to a reciprocal society, or perhaps a reversed one, where you perform and wait for the reciprocation from a woman, am I correct?”

He felt flustered, but nodded.

“Here, it is very different. We will choose you by declaring our intent. We do not go for something so weak as attention. We are not birds, to fluff and perform and hope in such a manner. We are a different breed of creature, and you are no longer a bird.” She paused, waiting for him to catch on, but he stared at her blankly, so she smiled.

“You may stop peacocking.”

How could she fluster a man so?

“But then…how do I…” He must have been as red as he felt, for she laughed.

“You do not. I might, if I felt like it, or indeed as you worry, I might decide upon Lukos. But you do not have to worry about performing like that! Have you never found it silly, or unnecessary?”

“It can be fun!” He found himself protesting.

“But if it is mandatory, can it really be so entertaining? I want you to relax, Perseus. You will know when a woman is interested in you, I promise. So do not worry that I am paying attentions or anything of the like, and simply focus on what is important. Our roles here are like that of the bees.” She did not seem to mind that he was so flustered, but pointed to the hive. “We work hard for the sake of our queen. That is crucial at this time. We will provide food for the children to come.”

The idea that he had been so transparent made him feel embarrassed. Yet Meda did not seem to mind, though he knew others might have.

“I understand…my lady.”

“I have a compromise. Call me Gatherer Meda.” She gave an awkward smile. “That is technically my title, but like you say, you are not Lukos. I do not wish you to be, either. You must simply keep in mind what I have told you.”

After Perseus walked away, Meda tried not to sigh too loudly. Perseus had brought up, unwittingly, a fact that she had not yet faced. As part of a small tribe, she would at some point need to bear a child, and it would likely be the child of one of the slaves who she spent her days. It could not be Pallas, as she did not find herself attached to his company.

She would, at some point, need to choose. But for now, it was important to maintain the garden, and hope for the best when it came to Queen Molpe and her child.

Daughters of Hesperia – Elsewhere (1.8)

Queen Caterina sighed to herself as she thought about the situation she was in. Her youngest daughter had left home, as had one of her most trusted servants, and thanks to her older daughter, it had become a scandal.

But punishing Antonia could not do anything right now, for then it would look as though she was trying to sweep the whole thing under the rug. The servant had been sent into slavery, with orders to send him to the Amazonian regions. Let those barbaric women make of him what they wished, but Caterina could not trust such a man around her court ever again.

As for Constantina, the youngest…

She’d given birth to a girl, apparently. The servants in the house who were loyal to her had passed on a letter from the nanny.

Constantina’s daughter looked very like her, and she was besotted with her. Rather than let her be raised like a princess, she spent all the time that she could with her, and had refused a wet-nurse. According to the nanny, she played with the baby constantly, and without her, became despondent. The nanny offered her opinion that the baby, as little as she was, held off the princess’ grief. She had named her Marcella.

A fine name for a baby that had caused so much trouble.

Caterina had planned that her daughters would make brilliant alliances, and these two had both betrayed her. Antonia had shown that she had no patience or capacity for hidden plans, and Constantina had been a fool. Still, Antonia seemed to think she deserved praise and attention, and was angry that she was instead being treated coldly, so perhaps she had raised more than one fool in her nursery. Now, she only had one daughter left.

Wilhelmina was the youngest, and still of the age to idolize her mother. She had mostly been protected from the details of the scandal, but she knew her sister was never returning. In fact, she was taking that remarkably well.

But still, her chances had been damaged by the actions of her sisters. The other households would likely turn down any match, now, and Wilhelmina, as the youngest princess, had not been betrothed yet. There had been a tentative agreement between the Goethe kingdom and her own, but she did not expect it to hold.

A small distance from her, Wilhelmina was walking steadily among the flowers, inspecting and admiring them. Privately, she wondered if she would be allowed to write to Alexander or not, as her mother had been quite strict about everything recently, but she wished that she could tell him about the beauty of the roses in the hot sun, and how refreshing it was to walk in the gardens when it was warm.

In a very innocent sense, Wilhelmina and Alexander were friends, although since the incident, she had received no letters from anyone, let alone him. They often wrote to each other, telling each other about their kingdoms, and Alexander had last told her that he would very much like to show her around the Goethe palace, and play chess with her. At the time, her mother had planned to visit the Goethe kingdom and take her along with the delegation.

She hoped that Alexander would be able to write again. He was her favourite friend, among all of the young nobility that she knew.

Caterina did not entirely know what her young daughter was thinking, but she did feel that the child was being unfairly punished for the choices of her sisters. She had hoped to finalize a betrothal for her when they were scheduled to visit, and now, she could only wait for a reply to her request to their family. Hopefully, in taking such swift action against Constantina and that slimy wretch, she would have spared any blame against herself and Wilhelmina, but Antonia would be impossible to wed now, unless some miracle occurred.

The stupid child had barged into a meeting, demanded to speak to her, and when refused, had publicly revealed the details to the country’s most important people. The notion of spies, of alliances and mixed loyalties, simply had not occurred to her. The memory was jarring to the queen even now.

Only for Wilhelmina was there still any hope. If the Goethe family would agree, she would be betrothed, and could be sent to reside with them until marriage. If they did not, she must look for a family that would, for the child could surely not stay here while their kingdom’s reputation fell to further ruin.

(Dresses are by Sifix via TSR, and the Castle Garden is by Chuchmur and can be found in the Gallery!

Also, Wilhelmina’s hair is by qicc and I highly recommend them as a Maxis match.)

Daughters of Hesperia – Expectations and Reality (1.7)

Anikka had been dreading this day for a long while.

She had heard Molpe talking to Septimus about it, and heard the moving of furniture from the floor below hers as the rooms were made ready. A Provider stayed near to the nursery, and an empty one was situated next to Molpe’s room, but with the layout of the palace, this meant that the Provider’s room was quite near to her own quarters.

Anikka remembered her last Provider. She had been a nice young woman, true, and had led them all in games, learning, and stories. She had impressed upon them the importance of behaving appropriately, too. If Anikka’s last Provider had been in charge of her…well, the woman would have cried in shame. She had been upset enough when Anikka had thrown a tantrum in her quarters about being sent away with Molpe. In fact, Anikka had not given her a proper farewell, come to think of it.

Her stomach churned with shame and unhappiness. Now, her behavior had been even worse, and Molpe had said that she would be telling this new Provider all about it.

It had not been easy, being confined to the palace. When previously she had hated being here, confinement had her longing to swim in the sea or walk along the beach looking for shells. Pallas would occasionally bring her ones he found as gifts, but his kindness felt undeserved.

Molpe rarely spoke to her. Well, no, it was more that she did not have the courage to speak to Molpe, not at the moment. They passed like ghosts whenever they met, Anikka with her head down, and Molpe as silent as could be. It was a horrible change from before, when Molpe had been coaxing her into conversation and explaining things to her.

Footsteps came up the stairs, and she turned around just in time to see a woman she had never seen before, with beautiful curling hair and a gentle smile standing in her doorway.

“Princess Anikka?”

Her heart skipped a beat from nervousness, and Molpe stepped into the room ahead of the woman, leading her in.

“Anikka, this is Polgara. As of today, she and Andromeda will be part of our tribe.” Molpe looked immensely satisfied, and more relaxed than she had in weeks. Anikka looked at her, surprised, but Polgara was smiling kindly at her.

“It is a pleasure.” She looked over to Anikka’s bed. “Shall we sit there?”

“Polgara is your new Provider,” Molpe said, quietly. Anikka stared at Polgara for a minute.

The woman in front of her did not seem reviled, nor did she seem angry. In fact, she seemed quite eager to meet Anikka, and so she slowly nodded, sitting down on the bed. After the weeks of anxiety, this seemed a little unreal.

“I am quite happy to be here now,” Polgara said, confidingly. It was strange. Though Molpe was in the room, and of course could hear them, the conversation felt as confidential as her tone. “I was very eager to come as soon as your mother explained the situation. It is quite unusual for a new queen to bring her sister with her, though not unknown.”

“Not unknown? I have never heard of it, and I love stories of all the queens.”

“Oh, but it has been done before.” Polgara smiled at her. “Though of course, the tradition where I grew up was very strict that any who wished to be a new queen could take no other woman with her. However, there are shared stories of other tribes, and I do remember hearing one about a warrior queen whose tribe was almost annihilated and who lost her home. Her younger sister was just two years old, and the princess knew her mother must fight, so she took her and went into hiding. They ran from their home, hoping to return…but the village was burned that night.”

Anikka’s eyes went wide. “Is it a real story?”

“Very real. The princess became a queen the night the village burned, and she swore that she would devour those who had killed her mother even if it meant her own end. That is how the Ouroboros tribe came into being.” Polgaraa drew a circling shape in the air. “The serpent that devours itself. The tribe was born of vengeance, but the younger sister was nurtured and cared for by the queen, and became the tribe’s Gatherer. Though it was a tribe of two, they slowly grew, and when the Heiress was born, the queen did as she had sworn and killed the tribe who had destroyed their home.”

“How do you know that story?” Anikka asked, slowly. She knew of the Ouroboros tribe, and of the Ouroboros, but she had never heard of this story.

“It was recorded by an early Ouroboros Scholar, and is celebrated in festivities among their tribe. However, not many know the actual story outside of the tribe, as the festivities show a queen becoming a dragon while her sister wears a cape of flowers. I heard the story from the Isle’s Scholar.” Polgara smiled at her. “I come from the Isle of Metis, and the Scholar there told me the story so that I might teach it to the young girls under my care. As you are now under my care, I thought you might like to hear it, especially as it has more significance to you than anyone else I know.”

Anikka felt her spirits lift, and for the first time in what felt like an age, smiled. Polgara’s story had not only won her, but the manner in which she spoke felt open, honest, and caring. She relaxed a little more, and did not even notice her sister leaving the room.

“The Ouroboros queen, Orithia, and her sister, Evadne, are celebrated even today. Evadne is remembered almost as the gentle side of Orithia, and it is not forgotten that her sweetness came from the love with which her sister raised her. It is seen as good fortune for Gatherers from that tribe to name their daughters after her, and Harmothoe, the Scholar I mentioned, said that the weaving of the flower cloak for the festivities is only done by the gatherers.” Polgara smiled. “I think it is wonderful that such sisterhood is remembered so deeply.”

“Evadne sounds amazing!” Anikka could not contain her enthusiasm. “When we learned about the great queens, all we knew of Orithia was that she founded the Ouroboros tribe and passed it on to her daughter, Queen Barkida!”

“Evadne was amazing. Although, if you wish to hear of more princesses, I have more stories for you to hear.” Polgara put a finger to her lips. “Did you ever hear the tale of Lykopis, the princess who raised two wolf cubs to fight alongside her?”

As she began telling the story, Anikka listening raptly, Polgara felt a sense of relief. Anikka might be sad, and she might have been angry at Molpe, but she had grasped onto Polgara’s own kindness like a drowning sailor. If Polgara could but help her and give her the attention and guidance she needed, none of her long journey would have been in vain.

Daughters of Hesperia – The Arrivals (1.6)

Molpe was waiting in the throne room. Word had been sent that a Provider had been found, and from her calculations and the assurance from Septimus that the ship would have arrived early this morning, she awaited the arrival of her new Provider with bated breath.

There was, of course, more than one reason for this. Not only was she in need of someone who could manage Anikka, but she was quite certain that she was with child. So far she had missed a cycle, with no sign of the second, and she had noticed that she felt slightly sick from time to time. On top of that, she was more tired, and had startled Pallas by refusing to eat the little honey cakes that he’d made.

Anikka had been given a second one, instead, which seemed to have cheered her up slightly from her gloomy mood. She had been withdrawn and upset since their argument, and Molpe knew better than to go to her until she was ready.

So, yes, she was looking forward to meeting the new Provider. The message had stated that her name was Polgara, and that she had previously been part of a small island tribe. Molpe knew of the tribe from the meetings with her mother – it sprawled over the lush, green island, and was well known for its honey. As a young girl, Molpe had even met their queen, who had come to ask aid when faced with a possible invasion. Perhaps her mother had finally asked for a favor in return.

She was pondering the implication of such a thing when two women were shown in by Septimus. One stepped forward, and smiled at her.

“Greetings, my Queen.” She seemed very calm as she spoke. “I am Polgara, the Provider sent from the Isle of Metis.”

Molpe stared for a minute at her, and Polgara waited for her to speak, while behind her, the younger-looking red-haired woman looked nervous.

“I had heard of your arrival, but I do not know of the young woman you bring with you,” Molpe said, eventually. No need to hide her surprise, especially as this was the first she had known of it.

“My lady, this is Andromeda, also from Metis. When your lady mother sent word, we asked if I might bring another member along with myself, and she accepted. I have been instructed to tell you that Andromeda is a gift to you, from your mother, and from the Isle of Metis.” Polgara’s air of calm was soothing, far more soothing than it had right to be in this situation. “She is a Gatherer, my Queen, though young, and brings gifts from Metis unto you.”

“Let her speak, Polgara.” Molpe watched the young woman. She seemed nervous, but at the same time, if she was a Gatherer, she was of use, and if she was a gift from two queens, it would be hard not to accept her. But Molpe wanted to hear from the young woman herself, and see if she could tell anything of her character beyond nerves.

Polgara stepped back, and the young woman stepped into where she had been stood.

“I am Andromeda, Queen Molpe.” Andromeda looked at the floor. “I am daughter to Phoebe, who is head beekeeper of the northern hives. I have been given a swarm as a gift to you, though the route we had to take caused us to arrive later than planned.”

A swarm? Honey of their own?

Molpe looked at the girl with as impassive a face as she could manage. “And you have the skill to be a Gatherer as well as a beekeeper, Andromeda?”

“Yes, Queen Molpe. I was one on the Isle.” She still did not meet her gaze, but the more she talked, the more she relaxed. “I have brought plants with me as well, as my own gift to you. I know how to grow them here, although we will need to go up into the mountains of the island to fetch the soil. Though…I apologise, my Queen, if you do not wish to hear this.” She looked suddenly embarrassed. “But I plan for you to have a garden here, with bees and plants, growing strong.”

Molpe felt as though her breath might be stolen from her at any minute. Here was this young woman, as unassuming as a girl, casually telling her of such wonderful things! How could she not see the jewel she had been given?

She smiled, finally, and saw Polgara relax at the sight.

“Welcome, Andromeda, and welcome, Polgara.” There were many different ways to formally accept someone to your tribe, and she knew her wording must be careful. “Hesperia welcomes you home.”

Both women looked immensely pleased, and Molpe felt the tension go out of her as though she were a strung bow.

“I am relieved to have you here,” she admitted, “and must ask you, Andromeda, if you might find a site for your swarm as soon as possible. Pallas will help you. He is the son of a Gatherer, so you will find him an impeccable assistant, but I must discuss matters with Polgara straight away.”

Andromeda smiled in that unassuming way of hers. “Most call me Meda, my Queen, and I answer to it better. I shall do as you ask.” She paused. “Which is Pallas?”

“Not the man who showed you in, but the other.” Molpe watched her as she left, the fox-like tail of her red hair swaying as she turned around to go follow the order.

Two new Amazons. Well, it was not as though they could not manage it, but it was certainly unexpected.

Polgara was waiting, still, calling her back to her purpose.

“You seem tense, my Queen.” She seemed concerned, as any would be.

“Was my sister mentioned to you?” Molpe asked. She did not want to linger when it came to this, and she stood, walking over to where Polgara stood.

“Yes, my Queen. I do not know her age, but your mother mentioned that your need for me was centered around her.”

“Not entirely, but I do indeed need you here, Polgara.” Molpe sighed. “My sister has a temper that would rival a wronged goddess, if I must be truthful.”

“Is it not so with all young people? They see the world through different eyes.” Polgara smiled. “But I sense that is not everything.”

“She cannot accept Hesperia,” Molpe said, quietly. “She blames me for her being here, and I cannot give her an answer as to why she is here, for my mother has not explained her reasoning. If it was for companionship, she was sorely mistaken, for I have needed to confine her to the palace. She openly disrespected myself and my authority as Queen in front of the slaves.” A wry smile crossed her lips. “She swears my mother is her Queen, but does not listen to the very order our mother gave her.”

Polgara went silent. Such a thing was shocking to anyone, even from a princess such as Anikka, and her feelings were plain on her face. Still, Molpe pressed on.

“I could not risk such behavior continuing, but I feel as though I have failed her.”

“You have not failed her.” Polgara spoke, quietly. “She is striking out in anger, and while I understand, it could not be allowed. But I promise to you, my Queen, I shall be her friend. I shall be of comfort to her, and I will care for her as best I can…although, if you are to lay with either of the men, my attention may become split.” Her open honesty was refreshing, and Molpe felt hard-pressed not to laugh.

Here, at last, was someone she could be open with! Here at last was a woman who she could talk to on the same level. How she had missed this!

“I am no stranger to my duty,” she said, confidingly. “In fact, the man who showed you in…I feel quite strongly he will not be with us by this time next year, but in his place there may be a blessing for us all.”

Polgara looked delighted. “Truly, my queen? Oh, but what excellent news? You are sure?”

Molpe nodded. “I am almost certain. He has been visiting my chambers for three months, but I am sure that in the first month, I became with child. I am sure of it, Polgara, but I do not wish to make an announcement until I am positive.”

“Then we must start preparations at once, my Queen!” Polgara was beaming. “What a blessing for us to arrive to!” Her warm smile was a joy to behold. “Now, shall we see to the young princess?”

Daughters of Hesperia – To Become a True Queen (1.5)

For several days now, Septimus had been visiting the queen’s chambers in the evenings.

As night would fall, he and Pallas would finish their duties, and do what was needed around the palace grounds. Once he had done what was needed, he would excuse himself and walk into the palace, knowing his fellow slave’s eyes were on his back.

Tonight was the same as most others. The first night, Molpe and he had simply sat and talked, before she had kissed him deeply and sent him on his way. But the next night had been…

He hesitated in front of her door.

“My queen?”

“Come in.” As always, her voice was quiet, and yet he felt that same reaction to it as he stepped through the doorway and into the room.

It was a modest bedchamber, with a beautiful bed, an elegant rug, and a small room off the side. Her chess table stood to the side, the pieces lined up and ready for a game.

Inside, Molpe was waiting, sat on the bed. Her dark eyes found his, and he could not look away.

“Septimus…” Her lips tilted slightly. “So you return.”

It was a slight joke. He had learned a lot about his queen, these past few days. She had a hidden sense of humor, but to his surprise, she could be shy, too. He had assumed that she was more proper than most of her sisters, as she had always been a quiet one, but the way she blushed and smiled when they talked was enchanting and surprising.

She did not talk with him about important matters, not really, but she did tell him about how she missed the palace she had grown up in, and how she missed playing with the others. How they used to dare each other to steal fruit from the trees, how they would read of queens gone by, and how they would wander around the gardens.

She missed the gardens particularly, he could tell. She spoke of them wistfully, and sighed as she did so. He had never been quite as enamored of them, and for some reason, that made hearing her speak of them all the more interesting. She would describe the roses, and the crowns of flowers that the girls would make for each other.

Tonight, she was a little more restless than usual. She smiled, and watched him, and he felt drawn to her again.

“Did you know that Penelope was adored by so many of the girls?” she asked, her eyes twinkling. Penelope had been a warrior a couple of years older than both of them.

“No, my queen.” He looked at her, wanting to hear more. Penelope had been very skilled, although he himself had not taken too much notice of her beyond that.

“She was. I remember we used to write poems to her – I did not, I must confess – but the others would, and we had a little box hidden in my rooms where they were kept. We would pick flowers, and leave them at the door to her chambers, and we would have races. Whoever lost would have to attach their poem to their flowers! I never lost, you know.” She looked proud. “And I know that they did not let me win, because they shoved me a couple of times, but I think perhaps a couple of the girls lost on purpose so Penelope would see their poems.”

Septimus could not help a smile from crossing his face. He did know that the women would often find love among each other, but to think of a group of young girls all fawning over the very sensible Penelope made him smile.

“Once she actually caught poor Lydia putting down her flowers and poem. Lydia just dropped them and ran away!” Molpe giggled. “I remember her face was so red, and Penelope did not even mention it to her when they met again, but every time she saw her, she would blush. We all used to tease her about it.” She sighed happily, and stood up, and he was unprepared as she stepped towards him and leaned in.

Her delicate hands settled on his waist, and she leaned in, kissing him. He kiss her back, gripping her while still not quite believing that he was allowed to kiss her. To kiss a queen, to make love to her.

He had been chosen.

That night, as Septimus left to go back to his quarters, Molpe slept peacefully. She had done as she needed to, and chosen someone to help her fulfill her duty as queen. As she closed her eyes, she murmured a prayer to the Goddess.

Please. Bless me with a child for this tribe. Bless us with a baby, and watch over us, my Goddess.

She thought of her mother, and how many children she had borne. She though of the other queens, with their daughters and the tribal sons.

She needed to be on their level, and ensure the survival of her Hesperians.

She needed to be a true queen.