The woman stood
on the balcony overlooking the vast bay with a dreamy smile on
her porcelain face. Her emerald green silk robe clung to her body
as if it was a second skin, and she loosened it demurely. Her
hair fell down her back in curls of a deep golden hue. The pale
dawn illuminated a face full of youth but harried by
responsibility. Her bright blue eyes twinkled with mischief. She
turned to regard her guest as he pulled on an ornate suit of
armor and lace up his sandals. "You leave so soon, my lord. Have
I indeed driven you away?" She asked while closing her gown to
conceal her figure.
immediately gave her a regretful look of longing, "I must sail
home someday. My brother has planned an elaborate ceremony to wed
me to some princess of a barbarian king. I would stay had I been
born lower, but I have my duties." He kissed her hand and
continued to dress.
lay back on her bed and smiled sweetly, all the while stroking
his golden hair. "I cannot imagine your life. I do as I please
here, and none compel me to commit to any one person I do not
desire. I could not live as your women do."
his sandals and smirked, "Our women are invisible, and I have no
desire to have one of them. I would rather stay and serve you,
but that option is not open to me, my love."
"You'd only serve as a distraction to me, so it is just as well."
Although he was not totally convinced of her commitment to that
idea, he knew it was so for both of them. He faintly kissed her
and stepped out of the room. If he was caught by any of his men
in the queen's chambers he would have to face his brother's wrath
for spoiling a political alliance. It was bad enough that trade
negotiations were re-established every year with the Phoenicians,
but the Atlanteans were the most controlling of their allies.
Long ago they had conquered the seas of the known world, and they
had provided protection for the developing empires from the
Persians when they became belligerent. Dallying with the queen
was serious business in light of the fact that she had ended the
trade negotiations because she felt the king had become greedy
and unconcerned with the affairs of his protectors. His love for
her could not compromise his mission to reduce the tribute he
must pay for their ongoing protection.
could not be said for the queen. She needed no emissary to relay
her messages; she was the law of the land, and what she did was
never questioned by her subjects. They had mastered the sea long
ago, and needed no protection from outsiders to thrive. Egypt had
seen the peril of facing down Atlantis, and the Persians wisely
avoided war. She needed no husband to make her power absolute;
she was absolute as a woman. Men played a small role in politics
if they were related to the royal family or had business ties to
important ventures, but the queen arranged for her sons to be wed
to prominent women and her daughters did as the Goddess deemed.
Her word decided all, but she provided for all her subjects, not
just the ones who could afford her audiences. Her devotion was
something she faced alone, and that loneliness was keen any time
a consort left.
brother of King Hammurabi had stolen her heart, but he could
never have stayed as her consort. He had been reared in a world
where woman were weak a timid, and she was the seat of power in a
world where men needed a woman to gain status. He had once told
the queen that he despised the weak women of his brother's court,
and she felt his words were true. He had taken a great risk when
he entered her chambers as a man and not the emissary of
Hammurabi. She had scorned him at first thinking he meant to
seduce her into favorable negotiations, but then he showed her a
side of men she had rarely seen. He was able to separate love and
fascination, and he was able to accept a woman's power without
being emasculated. Many of the men of her court held men of
foreign countries in contempt. They lacked manners and breeding,
and their insecurities were humorous.
her former consorts had been of noble birth in foreign places,
but she never took them seriously, and she certainly never pined
for them afterwards. He was no ordinary man to her. He was beyond
words for her. His duty to his country compelled him as much as
it did her, and that made their predicament all the more
On the day
he was to depart from Atlantis the queen sat brooding on her
throne. Her regal beauty was slightly marred by her sadness.
Though her silken gown of sapphire blue clung to her form
usually, she loosened it today hoping to hide her suddenly
expanding figure from the emissary. Her elaborate curls had a
glow familiar to her servants. They knew that their queen would
give them yet another possible heir in a few months time, and all
secretly pretended not to notice to give her privacy. The
emissary was announced in, and she straightened herself.
emissary of Hammurabi the Great greets Natalia, Queen of
Atlantis. I sail on the evening tide to return to Uruk. Has my
lady anything to send my most revered brother?"
faithfully nodded and rose, revealing a scroll she had tucked in
her gown. "Tell your brother we may no longer provide him with
protection near unfriendly or submissive shores, but welcome him
guidance from the strait of Iberia to Atlantis' harbors."
emissary bowed stiffly, "And may I inquire as to why?"
The queen smiled impishly, "I must protect Atlantis, and I
must keep my fleet near home if the disaster we fear comes sooner
emissary bowed humbly, "May that day never come and make your
decision look like folly or a wasted opportunity, my
on his heel and withdrew, leaving the queen in anguish. It was
custom for the people of Atlantis to walk the streets unclothed
in fine weather, and the queen was relived he would sail home
today. The birth of a child that was his would most assuredly
unsettle his mind. She watched for him to enter his quarters, and
returned to her own. There she disrobed and sat in front of a
polished mirror to comb her hair. From behind a curtain a small
figure emerged without warning. "I see you are expected to bless
us again, sister. Tell me; is the father some underbred cretin?
You have gone through a great deal to conceal this
radiant the queen smiled, "Darius is the father. I just figured
that a child would tear him from his duty too easily. Besides,
here fathers are an unnecessary thing. Why force him to accept
sneered, making her face twisted, "Because we could force them to
give us aid if you bear him a child. His brother is weak and
childless. Blood ties to us would compel him to aid us."
made no effort to argue, "For generations we have been spreading
our seed in all of the kingdoms of the east. Our sister Sybille
is the mother of the future king of Macedonia. I dare say our
aunt, Dimodedes, is the mother of the Peloponnesian king Remenus.
I would say we have established blood-bonds, wouldn't
woman pursed her lips, "Only if they honor our women will we
receive help, and in their kingdoms women are little more than
had not considered this. "Perhaps kings are puppets to their
factors. If so we can persuade them."
Athenians are our best hope now. They have a fleet nearly as
large as ours, and they fear no pirate."
queen considered, "I will see if Darius is as strong as his
brother. I feel that we must accept our fate though."