What If? Part 2


Into the void

:

In the morning of the possibly fatal day I said farewell to Circe with a lot of tears. I was tearing up so easily these days! But I knew I had to let go of her and everything here if I wanted to be able to come back and stay. As with my trip to Hel all I had to do was to imagine myself to travel to the place, where Demedea was going to give birth to a daughter of Lykomedes. Aphrodite had described the court of Lykomedes on Skyros to me in great detail, so I was able to picture the place in my mind. As soon as the picture was complete I disappeared, but I did not appear right away in the womb of Demedea. Instead I found myself in a void. No light, no sound, nothing. It was disconcerting to say the least.

I have no idea for how long I was there, as even time did not seem to exist here. Finally I hear someone call me: "Deidameia!" There was nothing I could or had to do, invisible forces pulled me down? Well somewhere and I heard someone screaming, only to realise that it was me, being held upside down and struggling for breath. It was quite disturbing to be fully aware yet not able to do anything but scream my protest at the treatment. Oh my, I would have to make my body learn everything from forming sounds to using limbs! Well, it was part of the price, wasn't it? At least I was a healthy female baby. The adventure had begun. It was almost as if I could feel Circe's proud eyes on me. I wondered what she might feel.
I soon got tired from crying and fell asleep. When I awoke I was fed, not by my mother but a slave, whose breasts were big and full of milk. And she was black.

There is not much to say about the first few years apart from the fact I got almost bored to tears a lot of the time. But it taught me patience. This time I was born under the sign of Virgo I realised, so patience would be in keeping with the sun sign. I learned speaking, crawling and walking quicker than anyone expected and was the horror of most of the women put in charge of me, as I was curious about everything, if only to keep the boredom at bay. My extensive knowledge of anatomy enabled me to activate muscles easier and quicker with a lot less falling or failing. Also I was able to make my body stronger than other girls and more quickly, too. As well as learning to use my body well I learned two languages at the same time, my parents dialect of Greek as well as whatever language it was that my nurse had spoken. I was hoping it resembled what people were speaking in Troy. But in any case it was keeping my mind occupied. Later, when my age warranted it, I would have to try and get to a temple of Aphrodite. She would have to get my supplies here and her temple would be the most appropriate place to pick them up. But for now it was much too early.

Things got worse when I got to four years of age, as my education as a woman began. I knew how to cook, but only on modern implements and in any case that was not what they had in mind for me. I was supposed to just be sweet and docile and learn about being a good future wife and breeding stock. Fat chance of that. Whenever the chance arose I was off exploring, more often than not away for much longer than was considered safe and so one day I was brought into the presence of my father, who seemed seriously pissed off. I was six years old. Nevertheless I stood proudly before him, what seemed to piss him off even more. Then, just when he was getting up to put me in my place with a good slap across the face I felt a presence behind me and two strong hands on my shoulders. Lykomedes’ face was a study in shock.
"Well, Deidameia," I heard a voice in my head "my name is Artemis. I am a friend of Aphrodite's. Let's try and sort this, shall we?"

I vigorously nodded my assent. Her spoken voice was more forceful and a heavenly alto.
"Lykomedes!"
He sat back down in shock. Even in his experience it was more than just rare that a god or goddess showed up in a physical form and addressed one.
"I hear you, huntress." he replied.
"You have a very special daughter, Lykomedes. She is precious to me and some others. I would like you to hear what she has to say."
“We are yours to command."
There was an awed hush all over the court. A goddess was addressing the king and she had her hands on the shoulders of his unruly daughter of all people.
"So, Deidameia, do you have a wish to express to your father?"
Again I nodded vigorously.
"I wish to be a warrior!"
Artemis chuckled.
"That is a very unusual request for a little girl. Are you sure that is what you want?"
"Yes! I want to be a worthy woman for a great warrior." I said, my little girl voice as sure and firm as it could be.
"Well, King, what do you have to say to that?"

I could see that my father was taken aback, but slowly his shock was replaced by … pride? He stood and came closer to examine the daughter he'd seen but once shortly after birth. He knelt, whether before Artemis or myself was difficult to tell.
"It is a very unusual request my daughter. I do not think there is anyone at my court, who could teach you to be a warrior. But I honour courage, whether in a man or a little girl, and you certainly are courageous. Do you have any advice, Lady Huntress?"
Artemis voice was full of pride.
"I am sure you know of the tribe that are my people? Penthesilea will be more than happy to accommodate Deidameia and teach her until she is becoming a woman. Do you want to go and live with the Amazons, little one? You will come back here and be a dutiful daughter when it is time?"
"Yes! I promise!"

And that was how the adventure really began.


Warrior?

It was quite an effort for Lykomedes to make contact with Penthesilea, so he decided to take the easy route and just sent me off to find her myself. Not that he dared to do it in a way, that was sure to fail.He sent me off with an escort on a ship to the court of Queen Penthesilea, but my guides soon found out, that such a court did not exist.The Amazons were a tribe of female nomads. They raised and bred their horses on the plains and followed the seasons to keep their herds in grazing. They shared the plains with the Centaurs, also nomads, who were said to be half men, half horses, but as I was soon to discover, they were just wild men living on the plains, too.

While the Amazons were more independent and war-like though, the Centaurs were wild and uncivilized, perhaps with the exception of their leader Chiron, who not only was a warrior of renown, but also a healer and musician. We finally found the Queen of the Amazons at the court of Imanda in Colchis, where the Amazons were waiting to escort a caravan of goods and ore from Colchis towards Troy. My own escort was glad to be able to return to Skyros, as Colchis was still a city of the old rule. Here the women ruled over the men and the Queen, Imanda, took a consort if she felt like it, and disposed of him if it pleased her to do so.

Among the Amazons the women would go to lay with a Centaur, or sometimes with a villager or town dweller. When pregnant they would keep the girls, but the male children would be returned to their fathers after weaning. Even though Artemis called them her people, they actually worshipped the earth mother in her various forms, of which Artemis, the huntress, seemed to be one. As Penthesilea was going to teach me later, for the Amazons all aspects of the goddess were one and the same goddess to them anyway.

Imanda welcomed me as the daughter of a king, possibly thinking I might one day rule over Skyros, but I knew that never to be a possibility. She introduced me to Penthesilea and Kassandra, the daughter of King Priamos and Queen Hekube of Troy. Kassandra was twelve years old to my now seven and had been with the Amazons enough to already have killed her first man, who had tried to rape her under the cover of darkness. So she had already earned the status of warrior. Kassandra I knew was destined to be a priestess of Apollo, but I knew that that was never going to be a reality, at last not in the history of Troy as I knew it. The Kassandra I thought I knew was cursed to always see the truth, but never to be believed when she prophesied.

The real one, of course, was different. She was a quiet girl, but deep and had the promise of real beauty about her. Her skin was faultless and her hair as black as the feathers of a raven. She was reasonably slim but not small and her eyes were bright and full of intelligence. And she was sinewy and fit in a warrior kind of way. I liked and admired her in equal measure.

Her aunt, Penthesilea, the sister of Hekube, was at least six feet tall and muscular with shoulders almost as broad as a man, but she moved with a feline grace and had all the right curves to obviously be a woman.Nevertheless I thought any man was well advised to be more than just wary in her presence. Imanda told Penthesilea about how and why I had come to her court and Penthesilea was intrigued to say the least. She sat me on her knee and commanded me to tell her the story in my own words. I had to tread very carefully here, because it was all too easy to slip and give myself away.
"Well," I said "I was so bored with being trained to become a good girl … I want to see and explore things … and I want to be a strong warrior, so that I can be an equal partner to a hero."

"Ah, and when you told Lykomedes he slapped you?"
"Well," I giggled "he was about to, but then I felt the strong hands of someone on my shoulders and a voice spoke to me in my mind. She said we'd sort this thing out and told my father to listen to what I wanted. So I said I wanted to be a warrior. Then the lady, who said her name was Artemis and that you were her people, told my father to send me to you."
"Artemis, you said?"
"Yes, the huntress."

Penthesilea looked at me in wonder. Imanda, on the other hand, clapped her hands delightedly and commented, that such a rare jewel as myself needed to be treated with reverence and great care. She had me meet her own daughter, Andromache, who was supposed to want, what I wanted, but was more into being a rather girly female, although she and Kassandra seemed to be good friends. I understood her only too well, even though I did not want to be a meek and pliable female. But I really enjoyed being a girl. I was wondering what the training of an Amazon would make of me. I wanted to become as strong and yet feminine a woman as my Circe. But I also wanted to be able to defend myself no matter against whom or what.

Kassandra and Andromache treated me like a little sister, but Penthesilea took the responsibility handed to her seriously. The first thing she did was to make me a bow. It was as long as I was tall and strung with a thread, that Penthesilea said had been brought by traders from the end of the world. As I felt the texture and quality of the thread I realised what it was. When I explained what it was made from and that it was silk Penthesilea looked at me with doubt, wondering where my knowledge came from. That was a close call, I realised. I should have kept my mouth shut. Evidently silk was available, but not by that name and certainly nobody knew how it was made or where.
"Deidameia?" she asked.
“Yes?"
"Is there anything you need to tell me?"

I cast my eyes down to buy some time to think. Penthesilea was very bright and had a high intuition. What should I tell her? I opted for a slight variation of the truth.
"I sometimes remember things, that I could not possibly remember, Penthesilea. I have no idea, where they come from."
"Will you promise to tell me, if any of these things concern me or my people?"
Evidently she was taking me very seriously. Oh shit! Could I trust her with the truth? Not yet.
"Yes!" I nevertheless said brightly and was determined to keep my promise.
Penthesilea pulled me into a tight hug.
"You are a very special little girl. I understand why the huntress favours you."
"Do you think I can be a warrior like you?"
"Certainly, once you have grown a little." she said smiling.


Training with the Amazons

:

So began my time with the Amazons. When Penthesilea was not teaching me archery (a skill that I was renowned for as Odysseus), and I was not sparring with Kassandra, Queen Imanda and Andromache were helping me to become a cultured and pretty female.
The queen was also a priestess of the earth mother and knowledgeable in serpent lore. She wore a big snake around her waist, whose head more often than not was to be found between her considerable breasts. Kassandra was the only other person, whom the snake would let touch her. I would have loved to, but I think the snake could feel how different I was and did not trust me.

Time passed quickly. When we were not training we went hunting and I learned to skin and gut animals as well as how to prepare them over an open fire. Skills of a nomad I called what I learned and Penthesilea certainly agreed with me. When it became time for the Amazons to leave with the caravan of traders and the ore and other goods for Troy I knew I had to warn Penthesilea of the ambush, that was due just when they would think themselves safe. She did not ask any questions. I think she just assumed that I was gifted like Kassandra.

Kassandra and I had been talking sometimes about her ability to see things (the future?) and I told her about the fact, that I was sure her misgivings were justified, just that I did not think the events as inevitable as she did. She accepted my opinion without any questions and I felt like having taken a big load off her shoulders, at least for the time being. I liked her a lot and found in our friendship another reason for being determined to alter history in this case. We parted unwillingly, as both of us wanted to be together on this adventure, but Imanda and Penthesilea both were adamant, that the risk was too big yet, for me to part on and expedition like that. Taking stock of my physical condition I reluctantly had to agree. I was still a girl of not quite ten years after all, even though I was growing nicely and had developed serious muscles by my archery. Boys of my age were not able to fully pull the string of my bow, but to me it was easy. Apart from Penthesilea and two more of her more experienced warriors nobody else was able to shoot better either.

While the expedition was on it's way news found its way to us in Colchis, that Agamemnon was more power hungry than ever and had started to convince other leaders to go to war against Troy to free themselves of the tribute for passage, that the Trojans were exercising on passing ships. He had married the daughter of Leda, Klytemnestra, and had also seen to it, that Klytemnestra's sister Helena had been married to his brother Menelaos. Now he was looking for allies, as he and his brother on their own were not able to defeat Priamos of Troy. Especially as his eldest son Hector was becoming a warrior of great ability.

Imanda decided to send to Priamos to arrange for her daughter Andromache to be wed to Hector and I was hoping that he'd be a little more loving, caring and careful in this reality than what I believed to know about him. I was most certainly going to talk about him with Kassandra upon her return. The time got really long, waiting for the Amazons to return. Andromache still treated me like a little sister and we had a lot of fun being girly, but I missed Kassandra and Penthesilea especially. To keep me from fretting too much Imanda taught me a bit of serpent lore and I took to it like a fish to water, much to Andromache's sorrow, as she was terribly afraid of snakes.

Almost a year passed, before the Amazons returned from their expedition. I was standing on the city walls with Andromache looking out over the surrounding countryside when I saw them return. I counted the number of riders and was dismayed to find their number two short to their departure. My heart sank. Penthesilea was recognisable even from the distance and besides her rode her second in command and best friend Elaria. Just behind them I thought I could make out Kassandra and was relieved, but her friend Star was not by her side. Tears welled up in my eyes, my warning evidently had not saved them all. So much for altering history I thought, but then I had not been present had I? Nevertheless my heart was heavy with the possibility of Kassandra's loss. I was eleven years old now. How much more would I have to bear, until my time to act came?


Aftermath:

In a flash I was down at the huge gates, or rather as fast as my girl clothes allowed me. I had not worn my Amazon leathers since their departure and had, in fact, become more of what Lykomedes wanted than a warrior. Now I wanted to change that again and quickly. The female warriors guarding the gates knew me well, as I had trained with them sometimes, when Andromache and Imanda left me to my own devices.
"What is it, Princess, that brings you down here with all your attire in a mess?" One of them laughed.
"The Amazons, they are back!"
"Are they now? Have you been watching from the wall?"
"Yes, two of them didn't come back."

I was hard put not to cry, but I was a warrior, losses were to be expected. Nevertheless I was very sad. The guards opened the gates and by now the war band of the Amazons was visible even from ground level. They looked haggard and tired. But when Penthesilea spotted me she spurred her horse and jumped off in front of me to sweep me up in her strong arms to hug and kiss me.
"Deidameia," she whispered in my ear "How am I ever going to thank you? Without you only few of us would have come back, if at all."
We were both crying and then there was Kassandra off her horse as well and fiercely hugging me when Penthesilea put me down. She, too, was crying and I just knew it was for Star, her friend. I was more than just surprised to see Penthesilea crying, but then we were all women and not subject to the stupid male code of honour or whatever bullshit it was, that kept men from showing their feelings. In fact, once I was able to think again, Parenthesilea's tears rose her another notch on the scale of my esteem for her. But evidently Kassandra was also glad to see me and be back. Her visit to her parents and her city obviously had not been a very happy one.

"Deidameia, can I ask you to keep me company for tonight?" Kassandra asked.
"Of course, Kassandra. After all you are my best friend next to Penthesilea."
'And she will be able to cope on her own, I am sure.' I thought to myself. I needed to tread carefully with Kassandra, though. She was too important a player in the future of Troy and I had to be careful not to reveal any of my knowledge of the possible future. I already had the byname of “The one much wiser than her age” and was not planning on getting known even more for what I knew. So for the moment I just hugged her and cried with her over the loss of her friend. Then Penthesilea took the reins of her horse and told Kassandra to lead hers and each of them holding one of my hands we slowly walked into the city and towards the palace.

It must have been a strange picture for sure, as these two tall warriors (Kassandra had grown a lot in height and muscle on the expedition) flanking the almost pubescent girl holding hands and all three shedding tears of sorrow but also of joy about the reunion. We split at the palace gates, where Andromache was waiting. She accompanied Kassandra and myself to her chamber, where there was a bath waiting for Kassandra. Servants had taken the horses of Penthesilea and Kassandra and I was sure, that Imanda had also prepared a bath for Penthesilea, when Andromache had told her the news of the return of the Amazons.

As soon as Kassandra was in the bath her tears really started flowing and both, Andromache and I held her hands and cried with her, even though Andromache probably had no idea what we were crying about. I started to gently wash Kassandra, marvelling at the development of her body. She sure was becoming a great beauty, even though it was perfectly obvious, that she was a warrior. The family line of Amazons was clearly visible in her. Where before her body had been more like a lanky boy she now had womanly curves and the most amazingly pert breasts. And muscles almost as visible as those of Penthesilea. Andromache looked in wonder at the intimacy of me washing Kassandra. I was surprised, though, that although I regarded myself as lesbian, I did not feel sexually attracted to Kassandra. My love for her was sisterly, pure and simple.

"Thank you, little sister." Kassandra said "For everything."
Andromache could not keep her curiosity in check any longer:
"What on earth did Deidameia do?"
"Before we left" Kassandra replied "this little wonder here warned Penthesilea of an ambush, that would come when we already thought ourselves safe."
Kassandra turned to me:
"Now I do not know how your predictions can be so precise, little sister, but without you I might now be dead and most of the others, too. I have visions, too, as you know, but I never know if or when what I see might happen. How is it, that you KNOW things?"

Here we go, I thought. Looking at Andromache I knew that I would have to keep it simple. I would be able to talk to Kassandra later, sharing her bed.
"I already tried to explain to Penthesilea before you left. Sometimes I find myself remembering things, that I could not possibly remember. I this case I remembered hearing you telling me about the ambush. Did you really kill three grown male warriors, before one brought you down, just to be practically cut in half by your dagger?"
"Yes." Kassandra whispered white as a sheet "I am glad you did not tell me beforehand. I don't know if I had been able to cope."
"That is why I did only tell Penthesilea. And no detail either."
Now both of them looked at me even more curiously.
"Sometimes, when I hear you talking, Deidameia, I think you are as old as time." Andromache said and Kassandra nodded.
“Don't tell anyone, please?" I pleaded "It is bad enough as it is."
To my surprise it was Andromache who answered first:
"Don't worry, little sister, your secret is safe with us. I cannot even begin to imagine, what it could be like for both of you to have those visions or whatever they are. But I am glad to be your friend."

After this the three of us were even closer than before. Andromache and I dressed Kassandra in the nicest clothes we could find, making sure that she looked her very best and most feminine. It was so nice to see her face, as she looked at herself in the polished sheet of copper, that Andromache had in her bedroom as a mirror. Kassandra was stunning already and I knew that her beauty would be almost a darker version to that of the blonde Helen of Troy, whom her twin brother Paris would steal from Menelaos in the not too distant future, giving Agamemnon the reason to start his war on Troy. But for the moment we were two young women and a girl, enjoying their femininity.
"I am not sure, if my looks are a blessing or a curse." Kassandra said.
"They will be a blessing, if I have my way." slipped out of my mouth involuntarily and I clasped my hand over my mouth in shock.
“Neither of us heard that." Andromache said and indeed both of them seemed to have forgotten what I said a minute later while I heard Aphrodite giggle in my head.
"You have got to be a little more careful, Odyssa. But then part of you really is just an exited little girl, am I correct?”
Unable to reply I simply nodded my head vigorously.

It was only too true. Dressing my elder 'sister' Kassandra together with my other 'sister' Andromache was the ultimate girl experience for me so far. How lucky I was to be able to have a female childhood and adolescence. I began to see this whole experience more and more like a blessing instead of a test or even curse. True, the experience of freeing Achilles from Hel had been excruciatingly painful, but what it had also done was to make me stronger and more confident. Now I felt as if time was speeding up, as things were heading towards the war.


My big sister:

Freshened up and all pretty the three of us made our way to the throne room. Queen Imanda was standing next to a Penthesilea, that none of us had ever seen like this. Evidently Imanda had her clothed for this evening and Penthesilea was beautiful, to say the least. Impressive, still, but more because of her height and beauty, not because of looking like a dangerous adversary. For a warrior woman of about forty years she looked incredible. Imanda beckoned the three of us to come closer. Kassandra held out her hand and Imanda's snake wound herself around it and crawled up her arm to wind itself around her waist just like she did with Imanda. Then she looked at me and for the first time she did not shrink back, but settled her head on Kassandra's hand, that Kassandra slowly held out towards me. The snake did not budge. I held out my hand shyly and the snake carefully explored it with her tongue. Imanda beamed with delight.

"It seems that my darling is getting used to you after all, Deidameia."
"I think Kassandra's trust is helping." I commented.
"You understand her well, the snake I mean." Imanda laughed "Kassandra too, naturally. Penthesilea told me about your help. You two probably have a lot in common?"
"Kassandra and I will be talking more about that tonight, I hope. I think our gifts are quite different but have similar consequences."
"You speak like an adult already. And yet you have not even had your first menses. I sometimes do not really know what to think of you. But since you are a nice enough girl and very precious to Penthesilea I have decided, that Kassandra and you will both go to the temple of the earth mother for the next year and learn about serpent lore."

That was unexpected. Normally only women were allowed to learn that. Kassandra seemed to be more than happy and I was thrilled, too. It seemed to me that my womanhood could not be far away any more. Andromache, of course, was not pleased, as that meant she would have to spend a lot of time on her own, but Imanda had plans for her, too.
"You, my daughter, will spend the year with Penthesilea, who is going to teach you a kind of warfare that does not use arms, as you do not want to learn that art. We have plans for all three of you."
I was wondering what those plans were. I was sure that Imanda would be all too happy to see the old ways spreading again and matriarchy becoming more common. That though I did know to be a vain hope. But it seemed that our three fates in this time line were more closely connected than I had anticipated.

Penthesilea now came to give me another hug. Then she held me at arms length and said:
"Now aren't you the pretty one?"
"You are not disappointed with me?"
"Of course not! You will have to learn that a woman has a whole arsenal of weapons, that are not available to a man. Being beautiful or at least good looking is one of them. You know how to fight and shoot a bow. Keep practising while you learn in the earth mother's temple. The rest will come naturally to you, I am sure. Don't ever be ashamed of being pretty. It will give you an advantage over most males." she said grinning.
This was a completely new face to Penthesilea, one I had not expected. She was beautiful, though, and I could see, how showing that feminine beauty could throw a male adversary off enough to get in close enough to kill him, even if he was physically a lot stronger. So Penthesilea was going to to teach Andromache the art of seduction? I wondered. Looking like she was tonight I could hardly imagine the man – or woman for that matter – that could resist her.Thinking about it I realized, though, that my love for Circe would prevent even her from seducing me. Just as well, I told myself.

To my surprise neither Imanda nor Penthesilea ever mentioned my warning again and we had a completely carefree evening with a small feast that was to honour Penthesilea and Kassandra as the participants of the expedition, that saved Imanda her income and Troy its supplies. We did speak a lot about the possibility of war, though, after the meal, as Penthesilea had not yet heard about it. I was more and more sure, that no matter what, I would not be able to completely prevent it. Even if I made Achilles stay away Agamemnon would be going for it. So how would I be able to thwart my previous incarnation Odysseus' plan with the horse? If that was to happen at all, of course. There were still at least eight or nine years to go, though. Kassandra was fifteen now and she would be twenty four (give or take a year), when Troy might fall. Hopefully enough time to think up a plan B and C, just in case.

We three girls retired soon enough to leave the two queens to their discussion of politics. Andromache retired to her own room, while Kassandra and I shared mine. As soon as we were alone and the servants had retired, Kassandra started crying again and I knew the reason was not the death of Star any more. She told me under tears that being in Troy had rekindled her nightmarish visions of a fleet on the beach and the city destroyed by an earthquake and fire. I knew that that was going to happen, if my efforts failed. Her fear did not help me to see clearer, so my first effort was to calm her down. Strange as it was I felt as the adult in the relationship, as she was crying in my arms.

"As much as I hate you to relive these visions, Kassandra, but can you be a bit more specific, please?" I asked her, when she was a little calmer.
"I am sorry, Deidameia, it is all so horrible and frightening …"
What was I to do? Should or even could I tell her the truth? I did not know. I felt for the poor girl so deeply. What idiotic fate had decided to burden her so? If there were gods, and I now knew there were, how could anyone be so cruel? And then, for the first time the thought appeared that if they were not better then man, perhaps man could be better than them? Was it incredible hubris on my behalf, to think I could alter history and thereby fate for certain people? Or was it time, that a mere mortal woman showed the gods what man was able to do? But was I still just a mere mortal woman? Or had Circe's love and Aphrodite's help already turned me into a demi goddess?
Better work on the assumption, Odyssa, that you are a mere mortal woman. Anything above that could only help, but if I assumed to much, failure was inevitable. So, what could I do? Here and now? I had to just play it by ear.

"Kassandra, I love you like a sister and it hurts me to see you thus. Let me tell you this: in my experience nothing is inevitable until it actually has happened. What I know is that Apollon is not going to help you other than perhaps guide your arrows at one point or another. I think the gods are not really worth the worship they receive, at least not all of them. You need to focus on what you can achieve. On your own or with the help of your friends."
"Or the help of my little sister?"
"Or with the help of your true sister."
"You are not really little, are you?"
"No, Kassandra, I am not. Only my body is young."
"I thought so. And I think so do Penthesilea and Imanda. Are you a goddess in disguise?"
"Do you feel strong enough to hear the truth?"
"Is it worse than my nightmares?"
"I don't think so."
"Then I want to hear it."

So I decided to confide at least in her. Other than my love and Aphrodite and possibly Artemis, she would be a real friend. My first female friend as a woman. I made her settle comfortably in my arms gently stroking her beautiful hair like I would have done instinctively with a frightened child. Then I launched into my tale. Her eyes went wide when I explained about having been a man 2700 years into the future. As I continued and told her about Circe and how I had fallen in love, how we had discovered my past identity and how she had been suffering for such a long time waiting her sobbing subsided and she listened in awe to the unfolding tale. A shudder went through her whole being, when I explained, how I had met Poseidon and subsequently freed Achilles from his personal place in Hel. As I was speaking I had the feeling, that at some points she was actually seeing, what I was describing, since she actually shrank away from me when I talked about bursting into flames. As she looked at me I thought I saw the reflection of my burning wings in her eyes.

"I can still see your wings, Odyssa." she whispered.
"Shush, Honey, I am Deidameia, remember?"
“You still have those wings, though. I wonder if anybody else can see them?"
"I don't think so, Kassandra. You can, because I have shown myself to you. I have not shown myself to anybody else."
"They are beautiful … and frightening."
"So, big sister, do you think that you can alter the fate of your city with the help of your little sister?"
"I can try, Odyssa."
I softly kissed her lips to seal them against naming me again.
"I love you, Kassandra."
"I love you, too, Deidameia."
And before I knew it she was calmly asleep in my arms. I settled as comfortably as I could under the circumstances and soon fell asleep myself.


Final lessons in Colchis:

When Kassandra awoke the next morning she was changed and so was our relationship. We now accepted each other as sisters on equal terms. I loved her a lot and she returned the feeling. Much more composed than ever before she calmly stroked my face and said:
"How beautiful you are, my sister."
I smiled happily.
"And you, sister."
"I would have never believed I could find someone like you. When before I was despairing I now have hope. I don't rightly know what you are, but for me you are a beacon of hope. And your wings are amazing."
"You still see them?" I asked very surprised.
"You don't feel them, Deidameia?"
"No," I said "maybe I still have to earn them."
"I am sure you will."

And with that we closed that topic for a long time. We soon were introduced to the temple of the Earth Mother and forgot all about it with the strict rule and discipline we were subjected to. I was happy for my experiences with meditation in my life in the future (still an unresolved paradox to my mind), as they helped me to get the demanded lessons quickly. Kassandra evidently was a natural, as she had no difficulty either.

Slowly we were introduced to snakes, where and how they live, which ones are poisonous and which aren't, how to feed and make them trust us, if we wanted them to give us some of their poison, on and on it went. I never went as far as Kassandra, who actually hatched an egg between her breasts and grew very attached to the little snake, that grew and grew until she carried it around just like Imanda hers. Nevertheless snakes had no fear of me any more and I was perfectly able to handle Kassandra's and Imanda's as well as all the snakes in the temples now.

As the most important lesson, though, we learned how to contact each other in our dreams. At the end of the year, that passed in no time at all it seemed, we were able to willingly appear in each others dreams and even talk to each other, an ability, that should prove vital to our future. There was a ritual involved, to trigger that ability, that included mixing our blood, and I was very reluctant at first, as I had no idea, what that would mean. It was not before Kassandra had had a vision that showed me giving birth to a boy, that I agreed. I knew her vision to be true and trusted, that the boy would be Achilles child.
The ritual was just a ritual after all, and nothing really changed. I think we were able to meet in our dreams before, just never tried as we were told the ritual was important and the technique would never work without it. Both Kassandra and I were wondering to how many other teachings that deception was applied. Neither of us had much trust in gods or goddesses and their priestesses and priests any more, with only a few exceptions.

In spite of all that both of us were initiated as priestesses of the Earth Mother the day I started my first period. Now I was officially a woman. Unfortunately that also meant that it was time for me to go back to Skyros and for Kassandra to go back to Troy. We knew, though, that our spiritual connection would not weaken with the distance and that was a great consolation to both of us. To prolong the time before our separation I decided, that I would accompany Kassandra and Andromache to Troy to be present at Andromache's wedding. Nobody really protested and Penthesilea took the opportunity to go and see her sister Hekube again as well. And so a couple of weeks later we set out, a war band of more than thirty Amazons as protection for the princess of Colchis. And I was now one of them.

I was wearing leathers again. They were one of the reasons for the delay, as I had certainly outgrown the old ones. I had kept training in the temple, together with Kassandra. We had developed some kind of dancing figures, that resembled Katas in my mind, and both our bodies were very fit, flexible and strong.I was taller and had developed small breasts with the onset of my womanhood, all that had to be accommodated as well as impending growth in the new leathers and armour, that Imanda gifted me with as a farewell present. Penthesilea had made me another bow, too. Looking at myself in Andromache's mirror I was sure that Circe would love the way I looked now. She'd be able to see me in her ring. I left Colchis as a confident and proud female warrior and priestess of serpent lore, Kassandra and myself riding on either side of Penthesilea at the head of the column, Andromache in a sedan chair between two very docile horses behind us, surrounded by Elaria and her two daughters, who would later be my escort back to Skyros.

I had had no idea of the distance before Penthesilea had set out for the first journey, that had taken them a year. In this case, though, as we were not encumbered by heavy wagons and oxen, I expected it to only take three to four months to arrive at Troy. I had underestimated Agamemnon's efforts, though, as we were more often than not avoiding raiding Greek pirates and smaller war bands, until Penthesilea finally had enough. After all we were travelling her country, so to speak. Once we saw the first signs of Chiron's tribe she made contact and a war council decided, that together we'd ambush the next group we'd find. So now we were more than sixty fighters and that was bad luck for those Greek we found raiding a village. They were about equal in numbers, but they were pirates and not trained warriors, so we easily killed all of them bar one, whom we sent back castrated to tell the story at home how raiders would be treated in the Amazon's country. There were some minor injuries, but not one fighter was lost.

The Centaurs accompanied us for a while and there were more than a couple of the younger Amazon's who took the chance to get pregnant. Chiron took a special fancy to me and tried to get me to sleep with him several times, but accepted my refusals good naturedly.
We met one more band of Greeks and this time they were mercenaries as yet unemployed. They had followed us for some days, thinking we did not notice, but Kassandra as well as I had seen and watched them in our dreams. We were not able to understand their language, though, so we could only guess from their attitudes what they were planning and it seemed to be a night raid. We informed Penthesilea and Chiron of the impending attack and prepared a trap, setting up camp and pretending to go to sleep, only to lie in wait. The best archers crept out into the bushes a short way away, Kassandra and I among them. There were more than eighty of the mercenaries that we had counted and apparently there had been scouts out that had returned, as there seemed to be one hell of a lot of them when they attacked.
Nevertheless we were able to reduce their number considerably with our well aimed arrows, as it was a night with a bright moon, but that also meant, that they were able to spot us soon. I decided to take the lead and gathered our group together, quickly ordering them into a wedge formation and to my surprise they all either obeyed or understood.I aimed our attack at the small group of leaders among the mercenaries, who were now caught between us, the Amazons and the Centaurs erupting from the camp. The mercenaries realized their predicament and turned to face our wedge and retreat, rather than trying to fight an obviously well trained and experienced war band.

And that was when I encountered battle frenzy for the first time. Kassandra explained to me later that she saw me bursting into flames, but nobody else said anything about that, so I interpreted that later as just a kind of sign of my state of mind. I had lost all inhibition, though, and threw myself and my group at the approaching fighters. We cut into them like a horde of demons, slashing, piercing and trampling the fallen underfoot. It seemed only seconds until I was facing the leaders and realized the shock on their faces, as they saw a blood smeared girl of thirteen attack them in a blur of blades (and that I only realised later) with almost naked breasts, as I had left the armour in the camp not to be seen by its glare in the moonlight. Some cuts and thrusts by the men we had trampled and cut down had obviously cut through some of the leathers. Kassandra on my left was hardly any better and neither was Elaria shortly behind us. She was much larger in the breasts than we girls were, but not less frightening.

So here was the lesson Penthesilea had taught us in reality. The split second of shock gave us the required advantage and they were down before they knew what was happening to them. Now leaderless the mercenaries broke and started to run, but I was determined not to let any single one escape. It was Penthesilea who finally stopped me killing by tackling me to the ground and kissing me ardently on the lips. Surprised and aroused beyond belief I looked at her wide eyed.
"Get a grip on yourself, Deidameia." she said, still partially under the spell of the battle frenzy herself, as she laughed delightedly at the purely sexual hunger in my face.
"If you were not my charge, but one of our daughters, I would happily introduce you to the pleasures of love between women now. But being a queen and more than twice your age I have to be the one who stops this here and now, you little devil." her face, though, showed how hard it was for her not to give in to it. Evidently she was as aroused as I was. It was Kassandra's gentle touch on my shoulder, that brought me back to reality.

"Sister?" she asked timidly.
I turned around to look into her blood smeared face and at her equally soiled breasts, that were almost as naked as mine. It was like being smashed down to the reality of what had happened.
"You are not hurt, sister?" realizing her state I was immediately concerned, but her face broke into a grin.
"That was incredible! If there wasn't a male supposed to be the god of war I would now swear that I have been fighting alongside the goddess of war."
I looked around and saw the carnage we had wreaked. Not one of the archers in my group had been seriously hurt, but more than half of the mercenaries were dead and a lot of them wounded. There were injuries among the Amazons and the Centaurs, too, but no deaths.
"There is nothing you have to learn any more but how to control the frenzy." Penthesilea stated "and that will come with experience. Your training, Deidameia, is over. You are now a warrior and a leader at that."
There were cheers breaking out everywhere and Chiron made sure he got to hug the blood smeared me and kiss my breasts. I was dazed and almost in a trance and let it all happen. He respectfully retreated, though, when he realized my frame of mind.



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