Chapter Two

“What have you done?!” Hippolyta glanced over her shoulder to give her sister a look that would have made even the most senior of her soldiers cower. Antiope, on the other hand, simply squared her shoulders and put her hands on her hips. There was never any budging her sister, the woman who had stood through hell with her. Had been there when Hippolyta had stood in that room covered in blood, with the dagger still clutched in her hand. With a sigh she finished tucking Diana into the beautiful wooden crib, gave her one last loving look, before turning her full attention to the woman who was her only equal.

“When did it become illegal to bear a child?” Folding her arms over her chest, Hippolyta leaned protectively against her baby’s resting place. Antiope may have been her sister but, when she flew into a rage, she was unpredictable. “You yourself have taken men. You have Phitha.” Antiope ground her teeth.

“Yes and I bore that child from an Atlantian – not a God. Not the KING of the Gods!”

“Keep your voice dow-”

“No, Lyta. You’ve overstepped the mark. The flirting, the secret visits, I could just about tolerate. You have always played with fire when it comes to those who you invite to your bed, but I never believed for one MINUTE you could be so stupid!” Throwing her hands in the air with exasperation, it was now Hippolyta’s turn to roll her eyes at her sister’s dramatics.

“Tio, it’s not like that.”

“So you call her a mistake?” Antiope pointed an accusing finger at the slumbering child. Hippolyta’s spine went rigid. Never. She would never call her daughter a mistake. Her voice was dangerously calm when she responded.

“Diana was an answer to a prayer that I would not be alone, cursed to never bear a child again. She is a miracle, not a mistake, never a mistake. Don’t you ever use such words about her again Tio, or I’ll-”

“You’ll what, Lyta? She will bring this island’s destruction. How long do you think before Hera will discover her? How long do you think you can protect her from her own powers? Without the guidance of a God she will be consumed by the raw intensity of her gifts, just like the others. Do you remember Heracles? Do you remember how his power drove him to such insanity he murdered his own wife? His own children? That is the fate you have passed on to your own daughter.”

The room filled with a silent tension as the two women stared at one another. Antiope was the complete opposite too Hippolyta in nearly every sense: dark hair and darker eyes, a lack of mercy and tenderness in her heart even the birth of her daughter hadn’t fixed, ruthless to the point of psychopathic, and she always only saw the negative in every situation.

“Nobody else needs to know – she never needs to know. Will never know,” Hippolyta swore it to herself. It was safer if the secret ended with the sisters. As much as Antiope disagreed with her actions she would never betray her own flesh and blood. Would never allow Diana to come to true harm. “As far as history shall be concerned, I made Diana from clay and Zeus answered my prayers to bring her to life with a bolt of lightning. It will explain any interest he and the other Gods may seem to have in her, nobody here would question my reasons for not bedding a man again.” Screams. Blood. Death. The memories had stopped her from bedding many men – it had taken an immortal to sear those fears from her mind enough to allow her to once again feel the flesh of another. “It will explain her appearance too. Nobody need be any the wiser.”

Antiope’s shoulders slumped with a sigh: there would be no moving her. Once Hippolyta dug her heels in to a situation, when she had carefully planned out her path, then there was no turning her from her course. The only choice was to ensure that course ran true.

“Very well,” walking towards her sister she joined her in gazing down at the little princess. This girl would mean that Antiope herself never gained the mantle of Queen of the Amazon’s, but that was a fate Antiope had feared since her sister had been crowned. She was not a leader. Her mind had been broken during The War beyond repaid: her thoughts needed guidance and counselling, warped by the brutality of fighting to comprehend peace. So she would protect this girl with her soul, so that she would never have to take that title from her sister. And once she saw her safely on the throne, she would follow her sister into death.

For her sister was her monsters keeper.

***

A shadow slipped away from the slightly ajar royal bedroom door. On winged feet the shadow travelled through the intricate hallways and stairwells of the palace. Slipping through a wooden door that was growing weary with age, but was not yet of much concern to the people who lived within the palace, the shadow joined with three others who had gathered around a table.

“Well?” A voice from one of the seated shadows.

“It is as we feared. Her highness has lost her mind, she has borne the child of Zeus.” A hushed murmur of anger, concern and fear erupted around the circle.

“What do we do?”

“She’s our Queen. She has bled more for us than anyone.”

“But the child brings danger. Hera would not care who she killed in her path to the child.”

“The whole island is in danger.”

“Our Queen is in danger.”

“She probably didn’t even think -”

“- didn’t have a chance to think -”

“Has Zeus ever asked a woman?”

A chorus of crazed and bitter laughter.

“It wasn’t her fault, we must protect her. Like we have always protected her,” there was a sense of relief amongst the shadows that they were able to pin the blame on someone other than their Queen.

“But what can we do?” The sound of metal against metal as a blade was drawn in the darkness, before it thudded into the middle of the table with a force that was a testimony to the strength of the wielder.

“We must kill the child.”

The silence that followed was a silent agreement amongst the four: the child would die. Whilst it was one of the most heinous acts of their country, to harm an innocent, this child would bring nothing but destruction to their island and their Queen. As they dispersed into the night it was with the strongest of convictions that what they planned to do would be regarded as heroism by their people. Including the Queen.

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