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.

Daughters of Hesperia – A Princess Alone (1.4)

Although Anikka was feeling lonely, she did not appreciate it when Molpe came to her quarters, while she was in the middle of writing in her journal.

She tried to ignore her, but Molpe approached the desk and began talking.

“Anikka, I would like to invite you to come downstairs with me.” She seemed to almost be looking forward to something, but Anikka just knew that it had to be some sort of little ceremony or something that wouldn’t be worth it.

“Sister, I am busy.” She hunched over her journal so Molpe would not be able to read it. It felt embarrassing to have her standing there near the open journal.

In truth, it was partially about Molpe herself, and how Anikka wished to return home. It had a whole section at the moment about how she felt about Molpe agreeing to bring her here.

However, it also had a small section recording the interesting tales that the captain of the ship had told her on the way, and with Molpe interrupting her it was harder to focus on them. She wished her sister would leave.

Molpe instead sat on her bed, and waited, and eventually Anikka came to sit next to her.

“Anikka, I have been more than accommodating of your behavior, and I am willing to continue being so, but you must not show disrespect to your queen in front of the men.” Molpe was about to say more, but Anikka cut her short.

“How can you ask me to consider you my queen? How can I be asked to put my sister so high above myself when, when…” She looked angrily at her. “How can you ask this of me?”

“I understand it is difficult, Anikka, but I will not have you show your queen disrespect in front of the men. Even allowing for your age, I know you would never have shown disrespect to anyone in front of the men at home. Why do you consider it appropriate now, of all times? I am trying to establish us and ensure our future–“

“Your future! How can I have a future here? You have ripped the one meant for me away!” Anikka’s voice was raising as she spoke. “I was happy back home, and now you expect me to submit to what authority you think you have? I listen to Mother! She is my queen!”

“Anikka, that is enough!”

She jumped back, startled. She had not thought of her sister as angry, not once in her entire life. Pretentious, favored, and even meek, yes, but never angry. She had always been understanding to a fault.

But now, Molpe was angry, and angry at her.

“You speak as though you honor our mother as your queen, when you are dishonoring her with these displays? When you shame her with such behavior? Did it never occur to you, Anikka, that one of your sisters would have one day been your queen when the time came, and likely at the edict of our mother?” Molpe glared harshly at her. “She gave you the command to come with me and be part of my tribe, and while you have indeed come to this island, you are refusing to obey our mother’s command. How can you name her your queen?”

Anikka felt her own temper swaying along with the rest of her emotions, but Molpe gave her no time to speak.

“If she were your queen, she would have jurisdiction over you for your insolent displays, do you hear me? She would have say over what to do. But I am your queen, by her decree.” She looked grim as she stood up. “You are to remain inside the palace until the Provider arrives. I will be telling her of how you have behaved, how you have spoken to me in front of others, and I will say nothing, Anikka, nothing that is not the truth.”

The idea of a stranger being told of her behavior shocked Anikka. She had not thought her sister might do this, but she opened her mouth to say something, only for Molpe to shake her head.

“I am sorry that it had to be this way, Anikka. By right of birth, I consider you a princess, and I had thought to start your personal training today. But it is clear to me that you are not ready to accept your position, your duty, or me.” At that last, her voice stumbled slightly. “I must do what is best for all of us, including you, but I will not let you act in such a way.”

With that, she turned and left, leaving Anikka to start crying tears of rage and shock behind her.

Molpe almost felt like crying herself. Anikka seemed to hate her, and it did not seem fair that her mother, the cause of this situation, was adored while she was loathed. But Anikka was a child, and she could not hold it against her.

What she could do, however, was ensure she never went as far as to openly disrespect a queen again. It was too dangerous to allow her to do that, especially when she might cause others to lose respect for Molpe. As things stood, their tribe was not big enough to survive an attack from those who saw Molpe as a weak young woman. Respect was everything in a situation like this. Molpe and Anikka had to present a united front, and if they could not, then Anikka could not present anything.

But she still cared deeply for her little sister, as wild and unmanageable as she had been. She loved all her sisters, with all her heart, and for Anikka to act as though she hated her hurt the young queen deeply.

Daughters of Hesperia – Sons of Warriors (1.3)

Pallas looked out over the glittering sea, his bare feet warm on the sand. It felt almost surreal to be here, and definitely felt more quiet than where he had grown up.

His mother had always had him assist her when she could, from when he was very young. She had taught him how to fish in the river, had sent him up ladders to gather fruit, and had taught him many things. Everything she taught him was one of her duties, and the Gatherers on the whole had looked on him fondly.

He remembered when he was very young and the Queen walked past him, arm in arm with a slave. He had stared, only for his mother to pinch his arm.

“Attend to your work.” She had not seemed fussed, but that evening, she’d explained in more detail how things worked between the women and the slaves. He had never really thought that he would be eligible to be chosen, as most of the women he came into contact with viewed him with amusement and parental fondness.

And yet now, here he was, having been picked out of a crowd along with Septimus by Princess Molpe. Though now, she was Queen Molpe, and he was no longer part of the tribe he had been born into. Septimus had taken it much easier than he had.

“If it so pleased our queen, we might have been sent to another tribe,” he’d explained. “Some of us were, from time to time.” He seemed very at ease. “It’s likely both of us will be sent to the Goddess, you know.”

That much was true. The odds of him being chosen by a woman had risen drastically, and the idea of Molpe turning to him was bewildering. But at the same time, the idea of having a child with her was enthralling. Fathering a royal child was a high honor, and to father a child with a queen was beyond anything he might have thought of himself.

And Molpe…well, Molpe might not have been as striking as her mother was, but she had a certain gentle beauty to her. She was firm, and clear, but he did not find her as terrifying as he had found Queen Clodia to be.

When he had a small amount of free time, he went back to the quarters, and thought about it. If Molpe chose him, it would of course mean death, but if she did…He thought it over quietly. It wasn’t as if he was sure she would choose him, after all, but it wasn’t the worst that could happen. And going down the list of possibilities, if they had a girl together…

Being sent to the Goddess in return for giving the tribe an heiress would be a huge honor. But at the same time, he did wonder what the Goddess’ realm would feel like. Certainly it could not be as warm as in life, for people became cold when they died, and in the winter the Goddess seemed to welcome more people than usual to her realm. He remembered the mourning last year, when a young girl had died.

Still…He had found his eye drawn to the queen more after Septimus had said what he did. It was true that one of them would be chosen, after all. With a tribe to establish, the queen would be looking to try for an heiress.

However, while he was resting in the slaves’ quarters, Molpe had called over Septimus to sit next to her outside. The sun shone, and the smell of the sea had filled the air, laced with the heavy scent of the flowers.

Septimus did as he was bade, a searching expression on his face as he looked at the young queen.

“Septimus.” Molpe steadied her voice. “You are invited to my quarters tonight.”

Septimus’ eyes went slightly wide, but she did not stop.

“As you know, I need to attend to my duties as queen. Bringing forth an heiress is one of those duties, and I have faith that you will do your duty.”

“It would be my honor, my queen.” Septimus felt as though he ought not to look away from her. Her dark eyes held his compellingly, and it was a moment before she spoke.

“Then it will be my pleasure to receive you.” She moved closer to him, and he felt himself flush. He wanted to know what to say, but the way she was looking at him left him slightly speechless.

The queen was asking him to be the sire of her child. His child would be the first royal baby born to the tribe. There were no words that he could say to her, and as he looked at her, she giggled slightly, as though she were still one of the young princesses.

“Until tonight, then.” She rose, leaving him behind as she stepped towards the palace, not looking back once.

He could only stare after her.

Daughters of Hesperia – On the Thoughts of Royalty (1.2)

The silence was almost deafening to Anikka.

She had grown up surrounded by attention and noise – the sound of training warriors, horses neighing loudly, children playing, babies crying, and women arguing. Life had surrounded her from her first breath, and she had always had playmates. Other girls her age had all clustered around the little princess, and while she might have seen her mother less than her older sisters did, she was never lonely.

And then, that mother, who she rarely saw, had plucked her from that life as easily as a gardener might a flower. Molpe had been a presence in her life, and she felt close to her, but to be sent with Molpe on this journey would never have been something that she wanted.

Molpe did not react as her playmates did, either. If Anikka stormed at her, or sulked, she did not try to pacify her, but had a horrible habit of explaining how things were. Anikka did not want explanations. She wanted her old life back.

Her friends had told her that they would miss her, but already she knew they would be talking about things she could never know about and playing games without her. She wanted to weep, but she was far too angry, and so instead her throat hurt and she holed herself up in her room. Which was, at least, an elegant little room, and all hers. It was the only good thing she could see about this whole situation.

Anikka would have been surprised to know that she was not the only one having trouble with adjusting to this new life. Molpe had also retreated to her room, away from the throne that was now hers, and was sat with the chess board that her mother had gifted her.

Clodia had, at some point, taught her older daughters chess. The younger ones were generally left to their own devices, as was the case with Anikka, but her three oldest would often be called in to play chess with her, as it was the game of queens, and revered as such.

All three were competent players, and as time went on, Clodia had invited them to walk with her around the palace. Molpe remembered in particular seeing a warrior strolling together with a slave, talking to each other quietly.

“Eris has expressed to me that she wishes for a child,” Clodia said, in a fond tone. “So, she has picked Felix as a father.”

The slave looked quite at ease as Eris led him through the gardens, around the fruit trees. Molpe watched with a slight interest, and her mother had looked at her, satisfied.

When they had killed Felix, she hadn’t been disturbed at all, and she had visited Eris to congratulate her on the new baby alongside her mother. It was a life cycle she had always been aware of, and Eris’ daughter was a very beautiful little girl. But now, the life cycle rested in her hands, and she was no longer an observer.

She hoped with all her might that the Provider her mother had promised would arrive soon. Right now, even with the others for company, she felt alone and burdened by responsibility.

And her tribe was not at all as big as her mother’s, nor would it be for quite some time. What must it be like for her mother? Her mother always seemed so confident and sure of her role, but Molpe felt more like a little girl trying on her mother’s clothes. She kept trying to align herself to the idea that she was now a queen, but when she was on her own she simply felt ridiculous.

She sighed. When would this be easier?

Daughters of Hesperia – Hesperia Anew (1.1)

The island was a gift.

Lush greenery, clear waters, and blooming flowers as far as the eye could see, with nothing to dissuade you from feeling as though you walked in paradise. By virtue of being part of the Sirena territories, Hesperia had evaded full occupation, and the only building there was a small palace.

Yet recently, the peace had been disturbed. Visitors had come to the palace, cleaning and restoring it, and to all appearance, getting it ready for some purpose. The empty throne room had been cleaned and readied with fresh hangings and beautiful carpets, and a new, beautiful chair had been brought in. A queen’s chair, with a smaller chair beside it.

And all this had been done for Molpe, third daughter of Queen Clodia Sirena, for her mother had declared that she should be a queen in her own right. She was to take on the role of Creator.

Molpe was determined to do right by this edict, and though it was daunting, it was still exhilarating. As a princess, she had been one of several, and surrounded by other women in the Siren’s Keep, the high mountain palace where her mother ruled, she had no intention or idea of becoming a queen herself.

She had been a pawn, before, and now she had crossed the board and become a queen.

However, it didn’t come without strings. Her mother had requested she take her sister with her as her ward – the sixth princess, Anikka, who was feeling put out by the whole ordeal. The journey there had been filled with complaints and sulks, with no Provider to intervene. Of course, her mother had promised to make inquiries with their allies to find someone suitable, but for now, Molpe was handling her sister herself.

Right now, they were discussing their tribes.

“We take the name of Hesperia, and honor it. We cannot be an offshoot of our mother’s tribe. I am queen of Tribe Hesperia, Anikka, and must act accordingly.” Molpe tried to stay calm as she spoke, but Anikka looked ready to throw another fit of sulks.

“I am Anikka Sirena, daughter of Queen Clodia. That makes me part of Tribe Sirena.” She stuck her bottom lip out.

“Mother has sent us both here as part of the tribe, and I am Queen here.” Molpe tried to sound reasonable, but she knew they sounded harsh. “Besides, you are still a princess here. You are the Queen’s sister, and that holds status with it.”

“To who?” Anikka asked, sounded even more put out.

Septimus came up behind her at that moment, with a slight look of sympathy. Neither slave could, of course, act as a Provider might, or even contradict the little princess, but they had weathered the storm of her anger on the journey alongside their queen.

“My queen, myself and Pallas have finished bringing in the supplies and the other cargo.” He kept his face blank as he spoke, and Molpe tried not to feel awkward. It had been her choice that brought him and Pallas here, as her mother had instructed her to choose from twenty or so slaves she considered expendable. Both were Sirenian raised, and Septimus was the son of one of her mother’s favored warriors. Either he or Pallas would be the father of her child, a fact which would not be banished from her mind.

“Thank you, Septimus.” She smiled at him. “Have the two of you eaten yet?”

“Yes, my queen. Thank you for your concern.”

“Be ready tomorrow to journey to the port. My mother may be sending someone to us, soon, and we must be ready to welcome her.” Molpe met his eyes. “And tonight, I wish you both to join me in the throne room.”

“An honor, my queen.” Septimus bowed his head. “Pallas and I will be there.”

“I beg your leave, my queen.” Emphasis was put on that as Anikka walked away without waiting for her request to be granted. She seemed as stormy as she had on the journey to Hesperia.

“Perhaps it would be wiser for the two of you to join me sooner. Bring Pallas with you to the throne room, Septimus, for I must discuss something with you.” She turned her head away, so he would know she was done talking, and walked away to wait their presence.

She did not wait long inside the palace. Septimus and Pallas both stepped inside, both looking curious. She cleared her throat.

“My sister is in an unusual situation. Many Creators start their journey alone. They bring no sister, be she blood or heart. They begin their new life with no ties to the old. Here, this is not the case.” She looked at them both steadily. “I am your queen, and you will listen to me, I know. So hear me now. Ease my sister’s way into this new life. If she asks you for something, you will not deny her. When unsure of any demand, you will send her to me, for here I am the final authority, but do what you can to make her happy. Seeing her unhappy does not please me.” She looked at them both. “I know you have both served my mother since your birth, but by extension, you have served my sister since hers.”

To invoke her mother was a risky move, but she seemed to have them spellbound.

“I also expect you not to let her defy my command,” she added. “Should you find her doing so, bring her to me. I do not expect her to do so, but she is grieving for her past life, and she may be reckless.”

Septimus nodded, understanding what she meant, while Pallas looked a little lost.

“That will be all.” She looked between them. A choice would have to be made soon – Pallas, the gentle son of a gatherer, or Septimus, son of a warrior and who seemed to know her well. She could feel nervousness seeping back into her.

As they left, she stepped towards her throne, and for the first time, sat upon it as she thought. For survival, Pallas would surely know more, and be helpful in that regard, but if she needed defending, Septimus was surely one to keep alive longer.

She could not help the fact that she found herself drawn more to Septimus, though. She had found him handsome in passing before, too, when seeing him at the palace, though there had been others who had caught her eye.

“Queen Molpe Hesperia,” she said, aloud. That would be her title, now, and should there be a need for a queens’ summit, that would be how she was addressed by other queens. However, were such a thing to happen, she knew how her tribe would be viewed. New, unfinished.

Especially with no heiress.

She made up her mind then. Septimus it would be, for she could not afford to waste time picking between them. Septimus would be her choice, and the father of her child.