A few moons later.
“Ugh!” Lyta groaned with pain, rubbing her hurting arm. “Dad, that’s unfair. I don’t have either bulges of muscles nor his exerience.”
Serkon kept a straight face. “No attacker will ever ask for your age. You may have seen only 16 summers but you must fight like any other warrior if you want to survive.”
“He’s your bodyguard for a reason, by the Goddess! If he wasn’t the best you wouldn’t have afforded him loads of gold to come here! It isn’t fair to demand that I beat him! You never fight against him yourself, I bet you’re afraid to lose!”
Confidently, she blurt out her challenge facing Serkon.
The latter one gave her a lenient smirk. “Ask anyone, they can tell you that I have beaten him already.”
Vince chuckled quietly at the harmless dispute between father and daughter and assured himself with a short glance that everything was fine where his younger son Lykos tried to persuade his brother to make use of the thick straw men that were meant for sword practice.
However, Leo preferred to explore the dense bushes and spacious buildings of the new drill ground alone and tried to shake off his pursuer without disappointing him enough to complain to their father or the king.
“That was when I was a little child, dad! And once! Have you ever fought him again after that? Still, you’re too afraid!”
Instead of an upcoming threat, a constant smile played at the lips of the king of Dekanos. “Why should I fight my own bodyguard? You don’t make sense, Lyta. Now try again to destabilize him or you will never advance your skills!”
“Ugh. Mother would at least let me face an equal opponent!” Despite her complaints, the youth readied herself to attack the black-haired man anew and Vince’s attention was drawn away from his sons.
“Your weakness is the greatest advantage an opponent can gain. Penthesilea knows that very well.”
“Hey, I’m almost as strong as her already!,” Lyta objected vehemently.
“And also in advantage because she lacks half a head of height to be even with you.”
“Stubborn mule,” the princess mumbled ill-humored.
“I can hear you well, Lyta! Vince, attack her.”
Serkon’s friend reacted smoothly, starting with one of his slighter moves and concentration in order not to hurt the girl.
They had practiced for quite some time when Penthesilea returned from the thorough inspection of her new place of work. Awhile, she watched the two fighters.
“It’s too huge. We have by far more space than we need for the few warriors who can afford to come here.”
The king shrugged. “I’ve told him but you know Alexander. He meant too well and has too much gold to spare.”
“The place will seem empty even after we will have moved the training here. Not good to supervise them.”
“You’re ungrateful. Instead of being glad that we don’t have to use the small old drill ground any more, you just nag about the new one.”
“What about an own fight later, you must be taken to task for that.” Playfully but firmly, she jabbed him in the ribs but Serkon didn’t even flinch.
“Do you aim at giving your daughter a bad example by being beaten?”
Before she could counter with a biting response, Leo raced toward them calling for Vince breathlessly.
“Dad, dad, there’s a stranger at the entrance!” Vince and Lyta interrupted their fight for a moment.
“Yes,” the excited boy sputtered while his brother finally arrived as well, “Her clothes are sooo weird and she looks like a warrior.”
“A female warrior?” Serkon lifted his brow. “The last time an Amazon lost her way and arrived here she caused trouble. I don’t know if I like these news.”
Penthesilea shot him a frown. “We must greet her appropriately. The last Amazon who came here caused trouble because no one deigned to make her familiar with the local culture.”
“She showed no particular interest to delve into it either.”
“By the Goddess, if you two keep arguing Vince and I will go alone and welcome her,” Lyta declared, running out of patience.
Serkon laughed heartily at the brash remark. “You seem to receive an awful education from your mother, my dear!”
“Let’s go!” Otherwise the stranger would reach them before they had even set off, a rudeness they could not afford while still being in the dark concerning her rank.
“Greetings,” Vince addressed her first, representing the higher-ranked ones. “You have reached the lands of High King Alexander of Arythion. What led you here, and where are you from?”
The grey eyes of their counterpart traveled over the three nobles’ faces and swayed hence and forth between Serkon and Lyta for a moment.
When the woman raised her voice, it was powerful and dignified, the expression of true self-confidence.
“My name is Amadahy Blessing Moon, creator of said tribe and royal champion of her Majesty queen Hawika Wahine.” Suspecting that her equals were those who had remained silent in the background, she turned to Penthesilea. “And with whom do I have the honor of speaking?”
“Penthesilea, daughter of Thestia the Great, princess of Santrake and queen myself. These are Serkon, son of Nikomedes and king of Dekanos and my daughter and heiress Hippolyta, princess of both our tribes.”
“Thestia.” Amadahy Blessing Moon slightly tilted her head and a soft smile curled her lips upward. “Thestia’s younger daughter, I assume.”
“Yes. My sister Xanthippe rules Santrake whereas I have come here to find new sisters.”
“An honorable intention.” In Penthesilea’s back, Serkon shifted his weight to the other leg. “With which I am already familiar. The moon before the last, I was given the honor to be guest at queen Xanthippe and her daughters’ fireplace in behalf of my mission.”
Penthesilea gasped in surprise, unable to hide her excitement. “You have met my sister? And she has daughters? Under these circumstances I insist that you accept my hospitality as well and tell me everything about her. I haven’t received news about her for many, many suns!”
“Well, I could use a few days of rest well.” Her apologizing gaze sought Serkon. “And I will be glad to stay with sisters again. As a close relative to great queen Thestia herself you undoubtedly know some captivating stories worth telling. Also, I am most intrigued to learn about how a princess of Santrake happened to live here. So excuse me, king of Dekanos, that I will accept her offer before you even came to make yours.”
“Don’t forget, Alexander will want to greet her soon,” Serkon remarked short-spoken. “May the Gods bless you, creator.” Immediately after he had finished, he gave Vince and the boys a sign. Both women watched them leave in silence.
“He is upset because you paid me more attention… But he will be over it soon, I promise. He has had a lot of contact with Amazons already and knows our ways well.” Standing at her mother’s side, Lyta felt a brief peek flying over her.
“If I insulted him unknowingly, I will apologize. I did not mean to.”
“You didn’t,” Penthesilea assured. “Now, please accompany us. It is still quite some way from here to reach my compound.”
Only a moment before the huts appeared on the horizon, the daughter of Thestia was reminded of something.
“Amadahy, I hope you will not mind the… smallness of my tribe. The local kings wouldn’t allow the usual proceeding to recruit tribe members. We… are actually four. My daughters, my provider and me.”
Spoken, it sounded even more ridiculous. What did she think inviting the creator? Four people, the size of a little family, while her counterpart was a descendant of the famous warriors of Blessing Moon.
“It is alright.” Something flashed in Amadahy’s intelligent eyes. “When my mother died, she barely left me a tiny village, two slaves and plenty of determination.”
“Since then, my tribe has grown and gained reputation again but we aren’t many… I appreciate your care for my comfort, but it isn’t necessary. Few people will feel more like home to me than a huge number of them swarming the air around us.”
Penthesilea breathed a sigh of relief. “Welcome then in my modest home!”
When they arrived at last, Io stood up from the bench with an enormous effort and headed toward them before Protego was close enough to help her up.
“Io, my provider and dearest friend. She will give birth to her second child soon and we pray for a girl.”
At the short introduction, the provider smiled feebly, her face pale and she herself conspicuously worn out.
“Then I will pray for that, too. You may take place, Io,” Amadahy assured warmly, putting one hand on the black-haired woman’s shoulder before turning to the carefully approaching girl. “Well, and you are the other princess, I presume.”
Despite her shyness, Phyllis giggled.
Penthesilea nodded, happy that the little one had taken such a fast liking for the other queen. “Phyllis. Our youngest tribal daughter. And this-” Vigorously, she gestured Protego closer who had kept a safe distance. “-this is her father, our breeding slave.”
They had dined and sat around the whipping flames of the blazing fire when their attention was drawn to the entrance. Two figures slowly distinguished from the dark background of the forthcoming night.
“Haimon,” Penthesilea explained, slightly worried in secret. “He is breeding with one of the other Amazon queen’s warriors but can’t see the honor in siring a child. His spirit is… rebellious, as is his behavior.”
“Hekuba,” she addressed the woman accompanying him, “send Zeuxippe my regards when you return.”
“Of course, my lady.”
“And you, seat yourself. We have a high-ranking guest, creator Amadahy Blessing Moon.”
A chilling glare traveled over Amadahy, followed by a contemptuous snort and a brief distorting of the mouth. The arrival settled next to Io, with as much distance to the others as possible. The entire time until Penthesilea suggested to go to bed, he kept silent, sullenly staring at the fire.
“If you’d like to have company for the night, you may choose either slave,” she proposed her fellow queen. It was a host's duty to provide for any needs of her guests, particularly when it came to those in important positions.
In an instant, Protego’s arms cramped around his daughter. Haimon clenched his fists and grit his teeth, ready to jump up at the next word.
Amadahy noticed the sudden tenseness very well.
“That is a kind offer, but I have sworn myself to renounce this kind of company after the sacrifice of my most appreciated master slave.” Suddenly, an unspeakable sadness entered her until then open face. “He gave me triplets, but has been lost to me since then himself.”
For a moment, the crackling fire was the only noise perceivable.
Then, the creator from afar smiled warmly. “Do not let the past dwell over the presence. Lusio has been dead for a few summers now, but his children delight me these days. To grow up with a father is a gift the Goddess doesn’t bestow on everyone.” She looked at Phyllis. “Be grateful for that every moment of your life, young Phyllis.”
For response, the girl snuggled closer to Protego who lifted his gaze to meet the creator’s one in amazement for not more than the blink of an eye before he dedicated it to his daughter again.
“Thank you,” Penthesilea said without even knowing what she thanked for. It was… just an impulse, it felt like she should.
Again, silence fell over the small group until Phyllis yawned heartily. Io fought her way up to a standing position.
“Let’s get you into bed, shall we?”
The girl nodded. “Can dad come with us?,” she asked timidly, peeking at Amadahy as if the latter could ensure her mother’s approval. And it indeed seemed like that.
“Meanwhile, Hippolyta and I will make sure that your accommodations are adequate.”
“Please inform me when you have finished. For so long, I will enjoy the calmness. It has been some time since I have been able to relax.”
While the others left, Amadahy leaned forward and watched the flames flickering into the night sky. For a while, she simply enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere that laid over the compound.
It reminded her of home, and she almost believed to hear her daughter Pavati’s joyful laugh, to see the boys chase each other while she sat next to shaman Tiva. Her mission for the queen had almost come to its end, and while she was on the way back to report about the situation of the outer Amazon tribes and the number of warriors they were willing to place at Hawika’s disposal, her heart longed for her own little tribe and home.
Yes, it would be good to return for a few moons and not fulfill any services for the queen during that time. Although her duty was important and she took much pleasure in it, no tribe could spare its creator for long. Silently, she thanked queen Hawika for giving the royal members of her court the opportunity to attend to their own affairs.
A deep voice interrupted her longing.
“That slave, Lusio.” The redhead spoke without averting his gaze from the fire. “Why did you kill him if you liked him?”
“Are you supposed to pose such questions?,” she asked, not without a hint of humor.
When he didn’t answer, she sighed. “As a creator, I have to make many decisions and some that I do not like. Sacrificing Lusio was one of the hardest.” She stopped. “But I will not debate that with you. I was told that you have killed a man in an accident, so the entire matter is much more complicated in your case than you might realize.”
He kept silent, probably thinking about her answer. Interrupted in her pleasant thoughts, she decided to go and examine her quarters for the night.
“Wait!” Completely unexpected, Haimon jumped up and clutched her wrist. “You’ve said you’ve been in love with him. If you could have saved him, would you?”
She locked his flashing blue eyes to hers, seeing the enormous desperation that had made him dare to touch her in such an unbecoming way - touch her at all.
Secretly though, she regretted to have only one answer for him. The only one that was true. The only one she could take the responsibility for to give away without meddling with Penthesilea's affairs and possession.
“If she loved you the same way I loved Lusio, you would know.”
Thank you very much to roseinblack65 for sending Amadahy on this very important mission... If you don't know the creator (or queen Hawika), read the Blessing Moon tribe and pammiechick's tribe Wahine. I'm terribly biased about both stories and authors, so read them necessarily if you have the time to!
Poses by Natalia Auditore, Wistful Castle, joannebernice (blessed be your facial expression packs!), MrsRacooney, nagallz, A-luckyday and matchagreenmidori
Phyllis’ high laugh echoed over the compound as Protego captured and tickled her. Soon, his low voice blended with the girl’s one during her counter attack as he tried to squirm free of her grip.
“…but Labdake fought in vain,” Io recited. “Exhausted from the battle with his guards, she wasn’t able to stand against her rested enemy. Mercilessly, his sword came closer to her throat with each strike whereas hers were blocked with ease.”
“Nooo,” Phyllis squealed in delight, lifted into the air and struggling with both, hands and feet. “Let go of meee!”
“ ‘Never!’, evil lord Memnon exclaimed, ‘you will be my prize of victory at home in my palace in Cratos,’ and he sent her to the ground with the next blow. ‘Now you will serve as my personal slave for the rest of your life!,’ he triumphed.”
With quite an effort, Protego tossed his daughter over the shoulder. Still screaming, she tried to get something into her grasp to prevent herself from falling.
“In her despair, Labdake addressed the Goddess in a prayer. ‘Have I not always served you well, Queen of Everything? Please, turn your face onto my misery now and spare your daughter the shameful fate of slavery!’
‘Ha, you will never escape my grip,’ Memnon fleered but the Goddess had heard the heroine’s plea and took pity on her. So she animated the warrioress’s dear and trusted slave, Kisseus, to sneak into the back of the dreadful king and run his mistress’s long dagger deep into his flesh.
And the Goddess herself led the blade. Meanwhile, Labdake straightened her back in front of her archenemy.
‘Let the tale of the death of Memnon, Dark King of Cratos, be told throughout the kingdoms of men to instill fear in every male heart before the great Goddess and her children.’ And raising the same dagger her slave had yielded, she ended the gruesome man’s life.”
Dramatically, Protego let himself fall onto the soil. Arms waving through the air, Phyllis beamed at Io. “Have you seen? I’ve won! I’ve won!” The provider smiled leniently and finished the story.
“To reward the loyal slave, the Goddess granted his soul to be freed after his death, as the first one of all slaves who gained freedom in the sacred waters after him. Thus it came about that she chooses her servants from the spirits of men who have lived and died in honorable servitude.”
Suddenly, her face became thoughtful while she stroked over her rounding belly. “And the legend tells us that the Goddess cares for her children.”
“Another one, another one, another one!,” Phyllis demanded jumping up and down.
“Io is tired, darling,” Protego gently tried to calm her down. “After all she must carry a child all day and you only have yourself to move.”
It was so good to see the girl not plagued by nightmares and scaring thoughts for once. The younger princess was quite sensitive and fearful. However – watching them, Penthesilea felt a small stir.
Actually, she shouldn’t allow father and daughter such a close contact. Not only because it was simply not appropriate, but because of Protego’s age as well.
According to the legend of Labdake, the Goddess chose her servants among the deceased Amazon slaves. To ensure that they’d meet the Goddess’s demands, they weren’t allowed to pass their fiftieth summer. Under no circumstances she wanted to insult the Goddess by depriving her of a potential attendant.
She already knew that the sacrifice of both slaves would be delayed as long as possible but when that day would come, it would hit her hard. They had the resources to buy one slave, even a rather good one. But Protego and Haimon had to be around the same age, and replacing two men at once was a luxury she couldn’t afford yet. Not to mention that Lyta might want to breed sooner than that.
So she had been utmost grateful when Alexander had proposed the Council to build a new and better equipped drill ground. Although his offer highly resembled a bribe for their sympathy, it worked astoundingly well. For herself, the part of it that attracted her the most was Alexander's suggestion that each tribe would send some of their slaves to push on the construction – for a small reward from the treasure chambers of Arythion. To keep up with the household and compound, she was limited to send only Haimon but the gold was most welcome.
And it had other pleasant effects as well. At the days when one of the other slave groups was at work, the redhead was unusually calm and easy to handle, sleeping almost each afternoon instead of getting into nerve-wracking fights with Lyta or scaring Phyllis.
That day wasn't much different. He was occupying one of the stone benches while Io, Phyllis and Protego still fooled around at the other. It was beyond her comprehension how he would be able to nap next to such a noise, but he looked almost peaceful.
Although he wasn’t always, and the incident at the construction site quite a few days ago reminded the daughter of Thestia of that again.
After that, she had forbidden him to speak with Io – what he seemed to resent her. However, she preferred not to give anyone reason to suspect that Machaon’s accusations were true. In truth, part of her was glad that he had defended her friend’s honor and while she believed her tribe member’s frequent promises of his innocence, the entire affair was rather embarrassing nonetheless. No other slave had shamed his owner in public with misbehavior, and the fact that the victim had been Zeuxippe’s master slave was even more uncomfortable. Of all people, it had to hit her former opponent.
To Penthesilea’s and the foremens’ luck, the Orcheon had shown herself quite placable.
“Machaon has already fulfilled his purpose and a broken nose won’t make him any uglier than he already is.”
Similarly, she had waved Penthesilea’s offer for compensation aside. “As long as he can still keep house no losses will arise for me. But,” she had added, “you should earnestly consider if your slave’s behavior is fit for the contact with your daughters, especially little Phyllis.”
Having spent a thought on the matter, Penthesilea had indeed forbidden Haimon to come close to the princesses ever again. Which was difficult enough to realize under the circumstances of their small quarters.
Suddenly, something set motion into the group around Io. Head lowered submissively, Protego scurried into the provider’s hut and Phyllis stared after him incredulously.
“Can you spare the time for a short talk?”
“Of course,” Penthesilea answered her fellow queen and gestured her inside her own hut. “I’m sorry, if I’d known that you would pay me a visit I would have sent him elsewhere.” Zeuxippe and her had made the silent agreement that she would never meet Protego. Too many bad memories and rivalries were still connected to him.
“It’s alright,” the other queen assured, obviously tense despite her words. She stopped, reverently touching the statue of the Goddess that protected the little compound.
“Do you remember Echion and the prize he got for his blasphemous assault on you?”
“Of course.” How could anyone forget when they had been victim of such a deed.
“His son grew up without father for this crime. Murderers are executed here.”
“Aren’t they everywhere? They’re a threat for their tribe members and law doesn’t tolerate turning against sisters either.”
With a serious expression on her face, the other queen nodded. “The second worst crime after insulting the Goddess.” After a deep breath, she resumed. “Machaon has died today.”
“Die-” By the Goddess! There hadn’t been any signs that Zeuxippe’s slave would… “How?”
The Orcheon sought her gaze. “My healer is convinced the nose fracture is responsible. Sure, it’s uncommon but it has been heard of such cases.”
“So… It’s Haimon’s fault? I- that comes unexpected. I am sorry,” she stuttered, “That was certainly not his intention. Of course I’ll bear any costs he caused, and be it for a new slave.” Ashamed of the escalation, Penthesilea hid her face for a moment. “This… is embarrassing. Truly, if I had suspected that...”
Everything lost after a thoughtless punch. Finally enough warriors attended the training to make a bit more than her tribe’s living. Suddenly, her aims had moved beyond reach. Good slaves were expensive, especially ones that had been educated to become master slave.
“Who would have suspected?,” Zeuxippe pondered. “When I didn’t send him to work for a few days because he complained about sickness and fever I wondered if that proceeding was overcautious. As it seems...” She interrupted herself. “By the Goddess, your Haimon is dangerous.”
The remark clung to Penthesilea, sunk its ugly fangs into her mind. Dangerous? Quick to anger, yes. Hard to handle. Resentful. But did that make him dangerous?
Her friend stopped the thoughts. “Well, you know, you don’t need to give me any gold. Either do I have need of any, nor would I accept it. Just…” Zeuxippe paused for a moment and gulped. “If he wasn’t Rheia’s father, I wouldn’t even bother.”
“It was long past his time, but she will be upset regardless. The Council will turn against you as well if you don’t serve up justice.”
Penthesilea gulped, too. The imagination of executing Haimon alone sufficed to cause uneasiness. She had already settled with the certainty that she’d have him for a few more suns… Even if it meant regular outbursts and bad blood. In the meantime she had come to peace with reprimanding him daily if he made up for it in the evening.
But beyond her own wishes, Zeuxippe was right. The other leaders wouldn’t understand why she spared a troublemaker and murderer. And she didn’t possess Alexander’s favor as much as she had had his father’s.
What was even more, not bringing the culprit to justice would let ill linger between her and her fellow queen. The most significant ally she could count hers would be taken from her.
Rheia was only a sun younger than Hippolyta and her own heiress practically worshiped her father. She would have been heartbroken if Serkon had died.
Was there really no way to make up for her loss apart from the inevitable punishment? If Zeuxippe denied gold, what else could appease her?
Returning Protego? Penthesilea doubted that she would still want him, knowing he had laid with another woman and had a daughter with her. And that he didn’t have more than a few summers left until the Goddess would claim his soul.
The realization of what – who – could compensate for the wrong he had inflicted himself befell her all of a sudden.
“If… you don’t want gold, I’d like to propose something else,” she began, still hesitantly. “Take Haimon to breed with one of your warriors, and-” Every single word tore on her heart, left it raw but she forced herself to continue, merely whispering, “-and you don’t have to pay for his ransom.”
In an instant, the Orcheon was all attentive. “Give him the deserved punishment and let him be useful at last?”
“This is quite an appealing thought. I know you hold him dearly – maybe too dearly.” For the blink of an eye, a wistful gaze flew toward Io’s hut in which Protego had disappeared. “But I see you desperately want to do me good in some way and therefore, I accept your offer.”
She laid her hand onto Penthesilea’s shoulder. “Better the slaves than any of our tribe members.”
Sudden regret washed over the daughter of Thestia when she thought of the redhead sleeping unsuspectingly in front of the hut.
Yes, I am fully aware of the fact that there is no blood in the fight scenes. Because we're in Phyllis imagination and she's still young and pestered by nightmares, so her conscious mind will avoid brutalities. The story Io tells is already the harmless version but Lyta did hear the original when she was in Phyllis' age. I don't know why Amazons keep doing this to their children under the pretense to toughen them.
Poses by Mysterysims, simquin, r-jayden, Quiddity-Jones, WyattsSims, MrsRacooney, aoihana2510, nagallz, ratboysims, joannebernice, orangemittens, Something Wicked Sims, sim-plyreality (here and here), Rinvalee and Andromeda Sims