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.
He 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.
The woman 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.”
He laced 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.”
She smiled, “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.
The same 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.
The dashing 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.
Many of 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.
“The 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
The queen 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.”
The 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 than expected.”
The emissary bowed humbly, “May that day never come and make your decision look like folly or a wasted opportunity, my queen.”
He turned 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 pregnancy.”
Her face 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 the child?”
Her sister 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.”
The queen 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 you?”
The other woman pursed her lips, “Only if they honor our women will we receive help, and in their kingdoms women are little more than ornaments.”
The queen had not considered this. “Perhaps kings are puppets to their factors. If so we can persuade them.”
“The Athenians are our best hope now. They have a fleet nearly as large as ours, and they fear no pirate.”
Again the queen considered, “I will see if Darius is as strong as his brother. I feel that we must accept our fate though.”
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