In Leg Post 79, Queen Hecuba is walking the very early morning streets of Troy to reach the whorehouse. Once inside she is shown to the room where Telamon is having sex with a prostitute. With some embarassment, she asks them to take a break. He reluctantly agrees and quickly suspects that she is here to complain about the recent issues between her and Priam and the affair he had with Hippolyta and birth of their illegitimate daughter, Creusa, in Leg Post 78. He partially blames her for not retaining the relationship but states that Priam should have divorced Hecuba and gotten married to Hippolyta before cheating. Hecuba is unhappy with this as she doesn't want to get divorced. When he asks why she didn't keep up the relationship she admits that she couldn't have sex with him because she was constantly reminded she couldn't have the children he wanted. She even admits that seeing Peleus and Telamon as children reminded her how she couldn't have her own. Telamon believes that Hecuba needs to get a divorce and marry a new man who can't have children either, thus limiting the psychological wall she has built for herself. He believes that even if she managed to win Priam back, she would still be causing them both emotional harm because she could never be close to him. She, however, is certain she just needs to have a baby with Priam to be happy. She pays the whore for the time they've been in the room and then leaves to go and see the priests about curing her barrenness, though Telamon thinks it would be a waste of time. Hecuba prays for the whole day in the Temple of Hera until she almost pees herself when Hera sudden appears. After peeing in a bush, she tells Hera of her desire and that she will do anything to appease the Greek God and be blessed fruitful. Hera ultimately agrees to help by taking Hecuba to another god who can help. She explains on the way that she was the first god to be worshipped by the Greek people and she believes that women, particularly mothers, are the most important due to their concerns being concerns of everyday rather than momentary concerns, like the god of war or god of wisdom. Hera leads her into a white nothingness within the Heavenly Realm where babies' souls are, both those dead and those yet to live. They find the babies being born in colour-coded cots and they are then fired, like a catapult, out of the Heavenly Realm and into the Story Realm. She then meets with Illithyia, who resents the presence of Hera. When Hecuba begs to be made fertile, Illithyia but the god of childbirth has no wants and doesn't see a reason to gran the request when many people wish for the same. Hera concedes that she will owe Illithyia the favour, though Illithyia points out that she doesn't want to be imprisoned by Hera again after the last time with Leto's affair with Zeus and the subsequent birth of Apollo and Artemis. Illithyia finally agrees and asserts that her children will have great potential and that fate will surround them all. However, when she returns to Troy she finds it impossible to get back with Priam as he is now only interested in his mistress and his new child. Hecuba must devise a scheme to get rid of Hippolyta and Creusa so she asks Telamon to deliver a message to the Amazons. The messages includes details maps and plans for an attack on Troy, allowing them to retake Hippolyta. Telamon is desperately concerned what the Amazons will do if they attack as he doubts that they will only snatch their prize but Hecuba is insistant so he agrees to do the deed with a heavy-heart.
Hecuba shuffled along the streets of Troy. She had her shawl wrapped around her hair, concealing much of her features from any eyes that might recognise her. The early morning sun had only risen fifteen minutes earlier and was casting a pale pink hue upon the sky above. The birds were beginning their tentative first whistles and a few fishermen were already on their way to the docks to get into the ocean for the first catch of the day.
She avoided puddles from last night’s rainfall, which were numerous and scattered across the wide city dirt roads. A few cockerels were crowing with the dawn, likely waking everyone from their beds by now. From some of the homes came the smells of morning cooking.
She reached the shadier end of the city, not far from the docks, where sailors were prone to visit. The whorehouse was one of the more grand establishments in the vicinity and the only one open all hours of the day. She pushed the beaded curtain aide and went inside. She was greeted by a barely clothed woman, who had more garments on than the women further in would, who appeared bored and depressed.
Woman: “Welcome, miss. We don’t usually have boys available at this hour, or is it women you’re into?”
Hecuba: “I’m looking for Telamon.”
Woman: “Oh… not even a customer?”
Hecuba reached into her pouched and handed the woman a coin.
Woman: “The layabout is this way…”
The woman led Hecuba down a narrow passage. There was only room to go single-file and Hecuba thought it must get cramped when it was busy here. The doors were all shut and she could near no sounds. Anyone here from the previous night was probably still sleeping and there wouldn’t be a lot of visitors in the morning. Some, like Telamon, on the other hand had arrived late last night and were still up.
The door to his appointed room was opened by the usher and Hecuba went in. The door closed behind her.
Hecuba: “Telamon? Good grief!”
Telamon: “Aunt Hecuba! Whatever brings you to my seedy corner of the whorehouse!?”
Hecuba had to turn away from seeing the young man with his chosen whore for the day. The glimpse she got was enough to bring an embarrassed flush to her face, which grew into an angry flush at Telamon’s lack of humility.
Hecuba: “I need to talk to you.”
Whore: “If you want your aunt in on this, it’s going to cost extra, Telly.”
Telamon: “Robbing me dry, as usual!”
Hecuba heard the spank.
Hecuba: “Telamon, please! Take a break, young lady!”
Telamon: “You know, it’s pretty cruel to stop a man in his tracks? We’re not like you, girls. We don’t get to go more than once in quick succession!”
Despite his complaints, Hecuba heard them moving around.
Telamon: “Alright, what do you want?”
She turned, gave a yelp and turned away again.
Telamon: “Put it away!”
Telamon: “What? I’m not—fine. Towel’s wrapped.”
Hecuba hesitantly turned and found he now had a towel, albeit very short one, wrapped around his waist to conceal his manhood. How the boy had grown into this lecherous, immodest lout Hecuba could never understand.
Telamon: “You know, that’s exactly why you’re here?”
Hecuba frowned at him as he lifted up a shisha pipe and drew on the opium. He was a well-built young man with terrific muscles that he had worked hard to attain with heavy workloads. His hair was short and scruffy, as was the stubble on his chin. He had a firm jaw and twinkling, naughty eyes.
Hecuba: “What do you mean?”
Telamon: “You’re here to complain about my uncle, aren’t you?”
He held out the shisha pipe to Hecuba who just looked at him as though her gaze would melt his head. He shrugged and held it out to the prostitute, who was lounging on the bed with the sheets covering her. She accepted the gift.
Hecuba: “How did you know?”
Hecuba now regretted coming to him. His behaviour was frustrating at the best of times. Yet, as much as it annoyed her, he was the only one willing to listen. Peleus was ashamed and angry with Priam, but he was too reserved to openly discuss the matter and he still held respect for the Kingship of Troy. Telamon, on the other hand, was a vagabond and had zero compunctions regarding prudence on the subject. She could trust him to be frank and without reservation.
Hecuba: “What is? What’s ‘that’?”
Telamon: “That! This!”
He wafted his hand in her direction.
Hecuba: “You’re saying it’s my fault!?”
Telamon: “You’re going to tell me you don’t blame yourself?”
Hecuba: “Well—I—yes, I do. But I didn’t expect that you would…”
Telamon: “If you wanted someone to be nice to you, you’d have gone to my brother. But really, it’s not your fault that he cheated on you. That’s his fault. He should have divorced you and got a new wife.”
Hecuba: “Wha--! Telamon!”
Telamon: “What? I’m not wrong.”
Hecuba: “I don’t want to divorce!”
Telamon: “Takes two to be in a marriage, Aunt Hecuba. If you don’t take part in your marriage then of course he found someone else. Hell, I’m surprised it took so long. Guess he held out hope for you a lot longer than I ever would have. Then again, I’ll never marry. Ha!”
Whore: “That’s what all men say. Until they do get married.”
Telamon: “You’d better hope I don’t get married or you’ll be in the poorhouse!”
Whore: “Ha! You’ll still be in here. You couldn’t stay away.”
She smirked at him as she continued smoking. Telamon rolled his eyes and poured a cup of wine.
Telamon: “I never understood why you didn’t maintain your relationship with him though, aunt.”
Hecuba: “Well I… I didn’t mean to… It’s just, we stopped being close.”
Telamon: “But from what Peleus tells me, you are the one who did that. I think even I was still living with you when you stopped sleeping with Priam. I just don’t understand why.”
Hecuba: “I couldn’t…”
Telamon: “I guess not everyone has the sex drive of a god, eh?”
Whore: “You fucking wish, mate.”
Telamon: “Oi, If I wanted to be insulted I’d have that wife. I pay you, you have to pretend I’m amazeballs.”
He grabbed a pillow and threw it at her, almost knocking the opium everywhere.
He turned back to his aunt.
He drank from his cup with a satisfied gasp.
Hecuba knew but she didn’t want to answer.
Hecuba: “Well what?”
Telamon: “Why’d you stop doing the dirty? Just got bored? Uncle Priam not as handsome as he used to be?”
Telamon: “Been getting on with someone else behind his back?”
Hecuba: “No! Never!”
Telamon: “Then what is the problem. You can tell me.”
Hecuba glanced at the woman still lying on the bed. She was watching them like it was a play at the forum.
Telamon: “Don’t worry, she’s part of the furniture.”
Whore: “Calling me a sex object?”
Telamon: “That’s what you’re paid to be!”
She blew a cloud of smoke at him and he wafted it into his own face as he sat on the end of the bed, still looking at his aunt.
Hecuba: “I can’t have children, Telly. You know that. Every time when I… you know?”
Hecuba: “Honestly, Telamon!”
Telamon: “Okay, okay. ‘Made love’!”
Hecuba: “I don’t know why I came to talk to you!”
She turned to storm out but she was spun around by the quick movement of her adoptive nephew. He led her to sit on the end of the bed and she did so, shoulders slumped. She pulled the shawl from her hair and bundled it up in her hands, toying with it.
Hecuba: “I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. It’s what sex if for. Making life. And I always knew it’s what he wanted more than anything. Adopting you and Peleus just made that desire ever stronger. And each time, I failed. Failed over and over. I couldn’t keep failing. I even hated you and Peleus at one point, did I ever tell you that? You were both a constant reminder of what I couldn’t provide.”
Telamon: “That’s tough.”
He held out the cup of wine and she accepted it. She just looked down into the pool of red liquid though. The woman in the bed crawled forward and leant her head against Telamon’s back as she engaged emotionally in the story.
Hecuba: “It was easier to just distance myself. And yes, I know it’s all my fault. I couldn’t give him a child and now he’s found someone else to do that for him.”
Telamon: “That’s not true.”
Hecuba: “How is it not true? What part of the pregnant Amazon princess living in my home makes that untrue!?”
He rolled his eyes.
Telamon: “It’s not just the babies. I’m sure he was disappointed but I know that’s not what he went to this Hippopotamus for.”
Telamon: “She’s Hippopotamus to me!”
Hecuba gave a half-smile and silently thanked him for his solidarity.
Telamon: “Priam didn’t go to her to make babies with her. Hell, I bet he didn’t even go to her for the sex. Not really.”
Hecuba: “That’s funny, because that’s exactly what happened.”
Telamon: “Everyone needs to be close to someone, aunt Hecuba. Uncle Priam is a sensitive soul, you know that better than anyone. But he’s been alone all these years. You didn’t just stop trying to kids. You stopped having sex. You stopped sleeping in the same bed. You stopped eating together. You stopped talking together. You stopped walking together. You stopped everything. I mean… that’s no marriage. That’s not even a relationship. Hell I treat this stupid bint with more affection than you did him!”
Whore: “Call me a bint again, asshole.”
He reached up behind him and patted her face with a chuckle.
There was a long pause as Telamon allowed her to absorb what he had said.
Whore: “For someone so against being in a relationship, you’re pretty perceptive.”
Telamon: “I’m just gifted. I am the prodigal son. My real father was Zeus!”
Hecuba: “Your real father was a far better man than Zeus, I can assure you of that!”
Telamon: “Yeah? Except Zeus isn’t dead. That makes him one-hundred percent better already.”
Suddenly disgruntled, Telamon rose. The woman flopped back onto the bed and reached for the shisha again. Telamon poured a new cup of wine.
Hecuba: “What am I to do…?”
Telamon: “Get divorced, of course. And if you really get hung up about not providing kids, get married to some eighty-year-old dude that can’t have them either. Done. Bliss guaranteed.”
Hecuba: “I don’t want to get divorced! I just said that!”
Hecuba: “What do you mean ‘why’!?”
Telamon: “Why not get divorced? You’ve been single for years in all but name. What’s the point of making you and Priam unhappy? Get divorced. You can have a guy who didn’t want kids. Hell he probably can’t even have sex if he’s old enough. And he can play happy families with that little trollop he knocked up.”
Hecuba’s face fell into a nasty, hurt frown and Telamon sighed.
Telamon: “Look, auntie Hecuba. There’s really nothing to be done. If you don’t love him then—”
Hecuba: “But I do!”
Telamon: “Funny way of showing it for all these years.”
Hecuba: “So I’ve been a failure of a wife in every way, haven’t I?”
Telamon: “Yes. Yes you have. I’m not saying that’s your fault, like there’s blame here. But a marriage is about two people and you haven’t been two people for a long time, even when he’s tried you haven’t. So just let it go. At this point, it’s all you can do.”
Hecuba: “I can try again.”
Telamon groaned and rubbed his weary eyes. The night was now catching up to him.
Telamon: “That’s just—okay, what if you did. You go over and say you love him and you get all romantic and you talk to him again and you act like a couple. You already said you can’t have sex with him, psychologically it’s impossible for you. What’re you going to do? Knowing him, he’ll even go along with this so long as he still feels close to you. But you can’t have sex because of what’s on your mind. How will you be able to tolerate being around him knowing what he wants but you won’t. Some people can work through this but I just don’t think you can. It will be on your mind and you’ll become unhappy being around him again and you’ll distance yourself again and you’ll put him through all of that all over again. Come on, aunt Hecuba. You know I’m not trying to be mean to you.”
She was crying now. Even the prostitute was patting her on the back while trying to keep the sheet up to her chest.
Hecuba: “I need a baby.”
Telamon: “Inserting a baby into an unhappy relationship is just grounds for disaster. But ignoring that, how are you going to achieve this? You’ve already taken all the medicine available. Hell, I even remember that crazy guy who claimed to be from the future talking about eggs! Like women have actual eggs! Madness. Don’t put yourself through all that again.”
Hecuba: “There’s something I didn’t try.”
Telamon: “If you’re planning on finding some big stallion man to impregnate you, we clearly know you’re the one who can’t have kids not uncle.”
Hecuba: “No! I would never!”
Whore: “Should never say never until you’ve tried it, lady Hecuba. You know how many wives secret themselves in here? How many I’ve been with?”
Hecuba flushed at the thought of all the respectable ladies she knows at court, sneaking into this whorehouse to jump into bed with well-hung boys and even the women.
Hecuba: “What other women do is none of my concern!”
Whore: “Suit yourself, your ladyship. But you know, you’ll probably feel a lot happier than you do now with some sensual release. I could give you a massage!”
Telamon: “She is good with her fingers.”
Hecuba: “No! No! No thank you! I mean…”
She got to her feet and thrust the cup of wine at the woman on the bed. She took it and gulped it all down in one go.
Hecuba: “I haven’t been very pious in my years. It may be time to start now.”
Telamon started laughing and even the prostitute snorted quietly.
Hecuba: “I’m serious! I never forgave them for…”
She looked at Telamon and stopped. He frowned at her quizzically.
Telamon: “For what?”
Hecuba: “For… your father’s death.”
Telamon: “What do you mean?”
Telamon: “My father!?”
Hecuba: “No, of course not! Poseidon! That deity is a terrible creature. I rather think he simply expected me to become his whore because he patronised the city.”
She glanced over to the sulking woman on the bed.
Whore: “It’s fine… you wouldn’t have been a whore anyway. I get paid.”
Hecuba: “But they didn’t save Aeacus. They just expected that he would slay a dragon just as handily as they could. They let him die. I just never… I couldn’t look to the gods, knowing they would just allow that to happen.”
Telamon: “Well, you said it yourself. Apollo was an idiot and Poseidon a selfish jerk.”
Whore: “Like someone else we all know…”
Telamon: “Don’t make me spank you, you bad girl!”
The woman rolled onto her belly to show her bare bottom at Telamon and waggled it.
The girl jumped back under the blankets.
Whore: “Oops! Sorry!”
Telamon: “You know she’s still getting paid for all this time we’re chatting and not fucking, right?”
Hecuba gave him a dour look and pulled a coin from her purse. She reached out and handed it to the woman who gleefully accepted it.
Hecuba: “I’m going to the priests and see if they can help me.”
Telamon: “You do that, but don’t hold your breath. If the gods wouldn’t even save my father, I don’t know why any of them would help you get pregnant.”
Hecuba: “Thank you for your time, Telly. I appreciate you listening to me whine.”
Telamon: “It’s fine. You know I always listen to you, auntie. But I notice she got paid for all this time and she didn’t even do anything! Where’s my payment, huh?”
Hecuba smiled and shook her head.
Hecuba: “Oh, so you’re a whore now too?”
Telamon: “We’re all whores, auntie Hecuba. Some are paid for this, some are paid for that. We’re all paid for the hours we spent in the service of others. Everyone is a whore.”
Hecuba: “You just might be a scholar after all, Telamon.”
Telamon: “An impoverished scholar.”
Hecuba: “The best ones usually are. And you’re impoverished because you keep giving all the money I give you to this woman here.”
The girl smiled as sweetly as she could and blinked her eyes innocently at Telamon.
Telamon: “You hear that? You’re stealing my money!”
Hecuba reached into her purse and took out another coin.
Telamon: “I was just joking, you don’t have to pay me.”
Hecuba tossed the coin to the whore who deftly caught it. Hecuba wondered if she would have caught anything but money so eagerly.
Telamon: “Is that mine? You just give my coin to her?”
Hecuba: “That’s where it will end up anyway, right? Saving it the time of getting there.”
Whore: “Ha! Haha! Ha! Ha! Haha!”
She mockingly laughed at him and he slit his eyes at her.
Telamon: “Gimme that.”
Whore: “Fight me!”
He tossed his cup aside and then whipped away the tiny towel. Hecuba promptly averted her eyes and marched out of the room just as she heard the bedsprings and the girl cackling with the thrill of play. Hecuba pulled her shawl over her hair again and trekked out of the whorehouse and back into the morning air.
Hours later, Hecuba was at the Temple of Hera. The Grecian Gods had firmly taken root in Troy, displacing the original gods of the Hittite Empire that had come before. The Temple of Hera was built with pillars aligned in a great circle and a roof placed atop. There were otherwise no walls and within, at the centre, was a silver candle that was now lit. Hecuba had sat and prayed for the entire day, though she knew her prayers would most likely be answered at this late hour of the night when the full moon was in bloom above Anatolia. Hera held the symbol of the full moon as her own, a symbol of womanhood and god of married women.
Hecuba had to pee.
It was beginning to become a problem as she remained knelt there. She had held it all day and now it was threatening to ruin her composure. She simply had to stop and go into the bushes.
She unclasped her hands and opened her eyes.
Hera: “You can go if you want to.”
Hera: “Careful, you’ll pee in your dress.”
Hecuba: “How long were you standing there!?”
Hera: “A while. You held out longer than I thought you would. That bush should do…”
Hera: “If it’s any consolation, I find the vast majority of human bodily functions to be embarrassing. Eating, snoring, sneezing, breathing. It’s all quite grotesque when you really think about it.”
Hecuba eventually came shamefully out of the bush, but Hera just smiled.
Hera: “It’s always nice to see someone who values modesty. You are a fine example of humanity, Queen Hecuba. I believe you have a request of me?”
Hecuba bowed her tired head. She could feel her muscles, which had been still in prayer for many hours, creak.
Hecuba: “Please, my lady, I request that you fix my problem. My… barrenness. I long deeply to conceive a child with my husband. My very marriage… my happiness… my… my self-worth depends upon it.”
Hera reached out with her long, slender arms and held Hecuba’s shoulders. She looked at the woman as though she were a sister, long out of contact but now reunited.
Hera: “A marriage does not require children for either happiness or self-worth, my dear.”
Hecuba: “I know. I know this is true for… many. But not for me. It is… in here…”
She tapped a firm finger against her temple.
Hecuba: “I must have a child!”
Hera: “Many women come to me for such a favour… it is part of the human condition. Some are born more fortunate than others.”
Hecuba: “But you are a god. You can fix this, surely?”
Hera dropped her arms but gave an apologetic smile.
Hecuba: “Or is it a question if you will…? what must I do to appease you?”
Hera: “My, my. And what would you be willing to do?”
Hecuba threw herself at Hera’s feet at the slightest glimmer of hope.
Hecuba: “Anything, O Hera! I shall do anything you ask of me!”
Hecuba felt hands under her arms, urging her back to her feet. Hera’s smile was wonderous to Hecuba’s mortal eyes – a smile that was full of love. It made her feel like a child again, even though she appeared physical just as old as this immortal woman. It was as though Hera was her mother, lovingly guiding her through the trials of life. She was almost overwhelmed with the urge to hug Hera like a child might grasp at her parent when on the verge of tears.
Hera: “Luckily for you, I do not take advantage of my worshippers as some other deities might. No favours for me. No quests to undertake. No murders to commit and no beasts to slay. However, I am not the deity of childbirth. Your condition is not for me to resolve.”
Hecuba was struck by a solid wave of sorrow and it hit her like a block of pain to the heart.
Hecuba: “Woe befalls me…”
Hera: “But as a woman of destiny about you, I think it is my duty to summon someone who can help you. But I am not always her favourite person…”
Hecuba: “Then I am asking a great deal of you… I should not…”
Hera: “The fact you feel guilty now asking this boon of me proves your pure heart, Queen Hecuba. I shall take that as your payment for my help.”
She linked her arm with Hecuba’s, like they had been friends for many years, and she began to walk out of the temple and into the moonlight. It seemed so much brighter than ever before to Hecuba’s tired and tear-stained eyed.
Hera: “Did you know I was one of the first of the Greek gods to be worshipped? The first standing temple ever built to our pantheon was to me alone. Long before my husband and his brothers were accepted by the Greek people, there was me.”
Hecuba: “No, I didn’t know such things…”
Hera: “The problems of women are problems of the everyday. Our struggles, our emotions, our tribulations are the essence of living. Not life, but living. The men commonly worship gods like Ares, god of war, or Poseidon, the god to preserve their livelihoods in the oceans. Wise men even worship a female god, Athena. But these are not the aspects that you live with every single moment of every single day. Those are the grand machinations that elevate living. But at its core, it is us. Mothering children, providing food, taking care of others.”
Hecuba: “I don’t think every woman is that way inclined…”
Hera: “No, you’re right. Maybe it’s just how I think of it. And maybe one day it will all change. But right now, mothers shape human lives. Wives shape human lives. Let the men stab each other in battle. Let the men pour over letters to solve the mysterious of their existence. But they can only do those things because they had mothers. You see?”
Hecuba: “Perhaps I will agree with you, my lady. But I suspect some will not.”
Hera: “It’s no crime to have your own thoughts. But my point is that it is these struggles of women that are so fundamentally important to the continuance of humans on this world. And that’s my feeling. And so I will help you shape the future, Queen Hecuba.”
The moonlight had grown so bright that it then enveloped them and half-blinded Hecuba. But she could still feel the reassuring arm of Hera and felt the safety within it. Then solid shapes started to form around them and Hecuba could hear something. Babies. She could hear babies everywhere.
Crying, giggling, babbling. As she watched, babies were starting to crawl out of the whiteness. As she walked, some where lying in blankets in cots. She wanted to stop to look at them, worried why they were alone, but Hera urged her to simply continue on.
Hecuba: “What are they?”
Hera glanced at Hecuba.
Hera: “It doesn’t matter.”
Hecuba: “There are so many here! Where are their parents? Is one of them for me?”
Hera: “I wish that could be the case. They are… dead babies.”
Hecuba’s delighted face now fell.
Hera: “Life is hard, Queen Hecuba. Biology is imprecise and entirely stupid. Whoever said that life was created by some intelligent deity was an utter fool. Only an emotionless nothing could create something so broken.”
They looked down at a crying baby and Hecuba’s hands trembled with need. She tried to coo at it as they went by.
Hera: “Many babies do not survive for long after birth. The medicine of humans is getting better with every year, but it’s never enough. There’s always innocent, unknowing lives lost. They can’t go to our heaven, so they’re here.”
Hecuba: “But they’re alone! There’s no…”
Hera patted Hecuba’s hand.
Hera: “Fret not. You think I would leave little souls uncared for? You only see things in a limited sense. The dimensions of gods is beyond the true ken of mortals. All of this around us, is not as you see it. You only see it with the limitations of your brain and your eyes. Everything you see around us is essentially one, metaphysical nursemaid. The babies feel comforted. Some will cry. Babies cry. Don’t concern yourself. But that instinct you have is lovely to see because you’ll need it if we’re successful.”
Hecuba: “If only we had reincarnation in our religion. Then they could go back to life.”
Hera: “I don’t make the religion, Queen Hecuba. The gods are powerful, yes, but we are actually controlled by the religion that makes us gods. Here.”
On their left was a wall with a series of large windows. She didn’t recognise the architecture at all.
Hera: “I’m told it’s supposed to look like a 1950s baby ward, whatever that’s suppose to be. But I do like the little pink and blue blankets for boys and girls.”
Hecuba: “Why are they colour coded?”
Hera: “You know, I have no idea.”
Hecuba: “I don’t think there’s much difference between baby boys and girls, it seems a little redundant.”
One of the cots with a little boy in it suddenly inches forward by itself towards the wall opposite the windows. On the wall a circular hatch opened and the wheeled trolley pushed the cot into the hole.
Hecuba: “What is happening?”
Suddenly there was a boom as the baby was torpedoed out of the hatch. Hecuba watched with horror into the air as she watched the baby soaring away.
Hecuba: “OH MY GOD!”
Hera: “God? I hope you mean me?”
Hecuba: “Was that baby catapulted!?”
Hera: “Of course! How else can the soul reach the physical world?”
Hecuba stammered. She didn’t have any real answer to such a surprising question. She looked up to see hundreds of babies being blasted into the white sky and, presumably, into the real world. She tried not to think of herself as once being one such baby, flying through the air with nothing but a pink blankie at a hundred-miles an hour.
Illithyia: “Look what the cat dragged in.”
Hera: “This is Queen Hecuba, not a cat.”
Illithyia was, as would probably be expected of a god of childbirth, pregnant. Except her rotund belly was very round, mostly blue and patched with green parts.
Hecuba: “Is that… the Earth!?”
Aside from her Earth-belly, the rest of Illythia’s body was jet black and spotted with specks of light like the space that surrounds the Earth. When she smiled, her teeth appeared extremely white and bright against the night-skin of her face. Inside her mouth, including her tongue, was the same night sky as outside. Aside from her teeth, her eyes were also human-like though the iris was gold. Her oversized breasts rested atop of the belly-planet but there was no sign of nipples or genitalia – just the cosmos. Her hair, like her body, was also the starry night but it moved and rippled along as though underwater.
Hera: “This is Illythia, god of childbirth.”
Hecuba bowed her head, though only after some difficulty as she could hardly take her eyes off such an unusual sight.
Hecuba: “Oh Illythia. I seek your favour. I desperately must become pregnant with my husband’s child.”
Illythia looked from Hecuba, with her all too-human-eyes, to Hera.
Illythia: “So you want me to stop one pregnancy and now force another? I am the god of childbirth, Hera. You should not get to dictate. Are you going to imprison me again?”
Hera: “No. I won’t do that.”
Illythia: “She’s being nice to you because she likes you. If you were on her bad side, like poor Leto once was…”
Hecuba: “Borean? I don’t know anything about this tale, O Illythia, but I am not here to imprison you.”
Illythia: “You can’t, but she might.”
Hera: “She didn’t sleep with my husband.”
And there Hecuba understood without further provocation. Leto was Hera’s Hippolyta. If Hera’s hatred for Leto was as strong as Hecuba’s for Hippolyta, then she could sympathise.
Hecuba: “Sorry, nothing.”
Illythia: “I’m sorry that Hera thought it necessary to parade you here in front of me, Queen Hecuba, but you are not the only woman who is incapable of having children. It is not my duty to fix every barren woman or infertile man.”
Hecuba: “But you can? Please, tell me what I can do to appease you!?”
Hecuba: “I beg you!”
Illythia: “I have no desires. I am a god. Why other gods feel the need to want things is beyond my understanding. The need for stimulation and pleasure is so very mortal.”
She caressed the glassed wall, as though she could feel the babies beyond it. As she did so, any crying children stopped in an instant, sensing her. Hera sighed.
Hera: “I will owe you a favour.”
Illythia: “The only favour I would want from you is to not be imprisoned next time Zeus gets someone pregnant.”
Hera: “This woman is a key focal point in the intricacies of fate, Illythia. Her position as a mother could change the destiny of our worshippers forever. You must be able to feel that?”
Hecuba couldn’t feel anything, but she hoped this new god could feel whatever it was Hera was feeling. The woman closed her eyes, casting her entire face into the void.
Illythia: “Her children, all of them, will be spiked with greatness. Destiny shrouds every one of them.”
Hecuba: “More than one!?”
Illythia: “Their legend will be for all time, I see that. But…”
Hera: “She doesn’t need to know the future, Illythia.”
Illythia: “You should know the cost that fate will demand, Queen Hecuba.”
Hecuba put on a brave face. She had come this far and she knew the price. A life always costs a life. She would happily give her own to have even one baby.
Illythia: “The price will be high. How high a price are you willing to pay?”
Hecuba: “Anything! Everything! My life is forfeit!”
Illythia: “It is not your life that will be forfeited, o queen.”
She hesitated. Someone else might die so her children could live. She knew it was selfish to do this but the life of some family somewhere was not within her sphere and she could live on without ever knowing the specifics of the cost. She slowly nodded.
Hecuba: “I would still take your blessing. Without it, I am a husk. A shell of a woman.”
Illythia: “Then I’ll do it. I will call on that favour someday, Hera.”
Hera: “I’ll be interested to see what the bountiful Illythia could ever need from me.”
Hecuba: “Thank you. Both of you.”
Illythia: “Just remember your thanks when you stare into the flames.”
She frowned because she didn’t know fire was a symbol of Illythia or Hera but she accepted whatever small devotions she must make.
Princess Hippolyta gave birth to a daughter she called Creusa. The girl was every bit a Scythian Amazon as the mother, with the white skin, blonde hair and tapered, almond eyes. With this new baby under his care, Priam was enthralled and forever busy. Hecuba returned with hope from her venture into the Heavenly Realm but her hopes were soon overshadowed by this illegitimate offspring and the seductress that had captured his mind.
She tried, desperately, to start over. She tried to arrange meetings with him, dates with him, talks with him. She tried to catch him at dinner, but he changed his routine to spend them with Hippolyta. She once stayed in his bedchamber and waited for him but he stayed in his mistress’ chambers.
Her renewed hope became a tomb of frustration and desperation and even hate. Once she had only hated Hippolyta as a nameless intruder but she came to despise the woman with such passion it rivalled her renewed love for Priam. She often watched from her tower and stared at Hippolyta with the detestable baby that was growing bigger and healthier day-by-day.
Ultimately, she had to get rid of them. It took Hecuba two years to build up the courage and the plan to perform the task. She knew, again, how selfish her actions were and that she was depriving Hippolyta, and the innocent Creusa, of their happiness. However her resolve was far greater than her compassion for the two strangers.
She sought out her nephew.
Hecuba: “Telamon. I have a task for you.”
Telamon: “No surprise there. I didn’t think you came to the whorehouse for the company!”
They were sat in the tavern section of the whorehouse, where many were revelling in drinks and groping scantily clad women. To Hecuba’s mind, this was essentially the storefront where the men eyed up the potential sex objects for use and desirability. How much mileage each had, how much the extra furnishings were and was the cost reasonable. She tried not to scowl. The woman in Telamon’s lap was wearing a silk toga with one breast exposed that Hecuba had to constantly divert her eyes from.
Hecuba: “I need you to go on a dangerous mission for me.”
Telamon frowned, sensing the seriousness. He grabbed the woman by the breast, as though it were an apple on his plate and then nodded off. She grumbled and left.
Telamon: “What exactly are you asking me to do?”
She took out a scrolled sealed with wax.
Telamon: “What is it? I can’t think what Amazons could possibly need from you, aunt Hecuba.”
Hecuba: “It’s a full list of the city’s defences, military movements, maps… everything they’d need to invade.”
Hecuba: “They won’t invade, Telamon. Specifically, it details the exact whereabouts and information detailing the harlot. They have been demanding her return for years. It’s time they got her.”
Telamon: “I see… and what if they do invade?”
Hecuba: “They won’t.”
Telamon: “But what if they do!?”
Hecuba: “That’s not what Amazons do. They raid. They don’t conquer.”
Telamon: “An invasion can be a mass-scale raid, you know? They come in here, skill every man and kidnap every woman to add to their ranks. With details like this, they’ll swell their numbers with ease.”
Hecuba: “They can’t breach the walls, we all know that. Even with these plans, they don’t have the numbers of the technology. But they can, easily, get their princess back. That’s all they want from us and we can give it. Please, Telly. Listen to me on this.”
Telamon: “You’re taking a huge risk, auntie. You know I’m rarely serious and I always do whatever you ask me to do. But this? You’re not risking your own life, you’re risking the entire city. Why don’t you just let it go? Forget uncle Priam and get yourself someone else. I know dozens of men who would serve you like a goddess, you know? Old and young! You’re still pretty hot, you have options!”
Hecuba: “Don’t call your aunt hot.”
Telamon: “Sorry. If you really want this… I’ll do it for you. But please ask yourself if it’s worth it?”
Hecuba: “I am so close to getting what I need to be happy, Telly. I will do anything, sacrifice everything… my children will be touched by fate! The gods themselves told me!”
Telamon rolled his eyes. He had never believed this story about Hera and Illythia taking her to heaven and he insisted she was just high, probably slipped something went she visited him in the whorehouse that day.
Telamon: “Fine. But when I’m looking at rows and rows of Amazon riders screaming war cries at our gates…”
Hecuba: “You won’t.”
He tucked the scroll into his clothes and pushed himself from the table.
Telamon: “You’ll be paying for this evening, I hope?”
Hecuba tutted but dumped a large bag of coins before him.
Hecuba: “Asking your aunt to pay for your sex life.”
Telamon: “Hey, I’m about to go visit Amazons, this is probably my last chance to get laid before my head is on a pike.”
Hecuba: “Don’t say that. I couldn’t bear it if you…”
Telamon then shrugged and got to his feet, snatching up the bag.
Telamon: “Then again, maybe I’ll get extremely lucky and the mere scent of my manly musk will turn them all straight!”
He went off to find several women for the night while Hecuba skulked out of the building and into the evening street. She pulled the hood tight to her forehead and marched back towards the citadel. Fate was on her side, she had to believe that.