My powers were back, so I could feel Spike moving in the kitchen, I thought that he was going to try to escape, but he was coming upstairs a few moments later. He stopped outside my door, at first I thought he was just going to leave the food there, like the day before, but after a moment he knocked on my door.
“Can I come in?” One of the first rules I set for him was to never enter my room, so I was surprised he was asking to come inside. His intentions were good, so I had no reason to deny his request.
“I brought you some food, it’s nothing like Kimball’s usual breakfast, but it was the best I could come up with.” He left the food tray on my side table and moved back, but didn’t leave. “Are you okay?”
“Of course I’m okay.” I said automatically.
“Are you sure? You didn’t step outside your room all day yesterday, and then last night…” He didn’t finish his thought, he was uncomfortable with whatever had happened last night.
“Well, you were crying again last night.” I was stunned by his words, I never cried, not since Ilum’s death. Although Kimball said I had cried when I was sick.
“What do you mean again?”
“The day you had that fight with Alkaia you cried at night. I just thought you had been injured or something, and since you didn’t leave your room yesterday I just thought it was a bad injury. And then you cried again last night. So, are you injured?”
“The fight with Alkaia gave me a psychic headache, but I’m much better today.”
“A psychic headache?” I felt him getting worried, and that surprised me. “But, when a psychic gets a headache, it’s because he’s dying. Are you going to die?” Just a few weeks earlier he would be ecstatic by my death, now he was worried and genuinely sad.
“No, I’m not going to die. For most psychics a headache can be deadly, but that’s part of my power. I feel the pain, but I don’t die.” He was relieved, he really cared about me? Something had changed in our dynamic.
“You don’t want me to die anymore?”
“No. I’ve been thinking and I realized that you were right, you helped me, you saved me, in more than one way. You see, I really respected my father and believed in him, but I didn’t always agree with the way he did things. He really believed that women were inferior beings, things to be used and abused, but being with the Amazons I realize they are not as weak and useless as he believed, they can be really strong and smart.”
“Women in your clan were weak and useless because they were made to believe they were. Most of the time, if you repeat to a person something enough times, they end up believing it. It works both ways, men were constantly being told they were better, stronger, and they really believed that. In reality the issue was that women were never given the opportunity to prove what they were capable of. You may have seen the same happens here to the men, they are taught from birth that without a woman to tell them what to do, they’re nothing. If any try to get out of the norm is met with pain and humiliation, most people won’t even try to change the status quo.”
“So what is going to happen to me now? Will I become like men here? I’m sure Alkaia would be happy to destroy me.”
“You most likely belong to the minority that takes any opportunity to prove people wrong, that when told you can’t do something, you try harder to prove them wrong. I know that you want to get your Clan back, rebuild the Militaries.”
“Are you going to stop me?”
“You are a smart boy, and maybe, if you learn the right things, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to do that. What do you think?”
“I think that you are trying to teach me the right things. You don’t want to stop me, you want me to do it, but do it right. You don’t want me to make the same mistakes my father did.”
“I never felt from you the same sadism that I felt in your father. I think that you are a good person, that was taught the wrong lessons. I trust you to make your own opinions and take the right decisions.”
“I always thought that I was better than my brothers, maybe even my father, because the slaves were always after me, they preferred to be with me. But it wasn’t because they really wanted to be with me, was it? They preferred me because I didn’t hurt them, but given the choice, I think they would have stayed away from me too.”
“Among the choices they had, you were the least painful one. Between being with someone that would torture you and someone who would just use you, you were the best choice.”
“I think that I get that now, just because you are not complaining it doesn’t mean that you are ok with the situation.”
“I think there’s still hope for you.”
“You are so different from everyone I know. I’ve seen you do some terrible things, but I know that you are fair.”
“I try to be, I try to do the right thing, always. But if I had thought that getting rid of you was best for both Clans, then I would have let Alkaia kill you, I would have killed you myself. I really hope that you and your sister can bring balance to the Allied Clans.”
“You are not the only one that’s learning. Your sister grew up with the Amazon’s mind set, she was taught to hate men and think less of them, she inherited her mother’s hate, but I think she can learn. So far Kimball had helped her to see men in a different way, he even helped her learn how to control her powers. And I think that we have taught her by example that women and men can be together without fighting, that they can be allies.”
“So, is that how things are in the Empire?”
“Not really, it’s like everywhere, the strong controls the weak, sometimes the strong is male, sometimes female. But we do have so unofficial rules about relationships. There are few relationships like the one I have with Kimball, but mostly, people get together because they want to, not because they have to. Some people abuse their power, but that’s not the norm.”
“Is people happier like that?”
“Most people are happier when they have some control over their choices and their lives. But not all the people think alike, so there are some exceptions. In my own experience, even if it’s just an illusion, thinking you are in control helps a lot. In my Clan a superior can order you to spend the night with him, you can refuse, but the refusal is met with punishment. So you can keep refusing, but sometimes you decide that is better to comply and avoid the punishment, so even if it’s just an illusion, having the choice helps you get over it. For some it’s better to not have a choice, like a told you, everyone is different. It’s just a matter of finding what’s best for most, and trying to control those who just like to make people suffer, no matter if they are enemies or part of the Clan.”
“If I get my Clan back, do you think that I could get a dynamic more similar to that?”
“No, I don’t think so. Your people is used to treat women like possessions. If you suddenly change things men won’t be happy. Women would be happy to get the opportunity to really be part of the Clan, not just as slaves, but the men won’t be happy to let their toys go. Not everyone would have an open mind. If, or when, you get your Clan back, you will have to deal with a lot of angry men, most likely will be looking for revenge after being slaves themselves, they won’t be happy with your change of heart.”
“I don’t get it, if I can’t change things, then why bother trying to teach me how to be different?”
“You can change things, but it won’t be easy. You need to find a balance, a way to introduce change slowly. I know you can do it, you are smart and you know your people.”
Spike left and went downstairs. After I finished my breakfast, I decided to go downstairs too. I couldn’t stay in my room again, my headache was gone, and it was a dumb move to try and hide there, as if Alkaia wouldn’t be able to find me there if she wanted to attack again. I needed to deal with Alkaia, she hadn’t come to look for me, it had been a day, enough time for her to calm down and realize what Valasca was trying to do. It was true that I wanted to show the young Amazons a new way of seeing things, but I wasn’t trying to turn them against their mothers.
At noon, a few hours after my talk with Spike, Molpadia arrived. She didn’t look good, she was worried and tired.
“Greetings Pitonisa.” She said.
“Molpadia, what’s wrong? Are you ok?”
“I should be asking you that. You didn’t go to training yesterday.”
“I wasn’t sure if there was going to be training, your mother was really mad. Since she hadn’t come or send for me, I just assumed she was still mad and that it would be best to stay away for a while.”
“I just don’t get it, she has no reason to be mad, not after everything you have done for her.”
“Valasca has been whispering lies to her. Saving Spike rubbed her the wrong way, since then I haven’t been her favorite person, and since Valasca has been saying that I want to turn you against her, she feels threatened.”
“But you wouldn’t do something like that!”
“When she attacked me, you stood by my side.” Molpadia hadn’t thought about that, and was speechless.
“I just realized that my mother wasn’t seeing things clearly, she was mistaken. You would never do something to put us in danger.”
“Are you sure about that?” Molpadia didn’t answer, she just stared at me as if I was dumb, but her meaning was clear, she believed in me. “What would you do if your mother and I fight again? Who would you support?”
“It depends on who’s right, on whom I agree with.”
“I respect that, but for your mother it would be treason. She wants you to agree with her in everything.”
“My mother should respect who I am now. She left me in your care, and you changed the way I see the world. I used to be afraid of everything, but now I am fearless. You helped me realize how strong I am, and it was all thanks to my mother, she gave me you.”
“Maybe you should tell that to your mother. She thinks I am taking you from her, that I’m standing between you two. I’m not sure, but I think your mother is not the only one that feels threatened by me, the other Generals should be feeling the same since their daughters started training with me.”
“But not all of my cousins are regulars, some just go out of curiosity and then stop going.”
“And some, like Bremusa’s and Derinoe’s daughters don’t miss any day. Iphito’s daughters go any time they have a chance.”
“I don’t like the fact that my mother and you are fighting, I don’t want to have to choose a side. And I really think she is being unfair, she asked a lot of you, you stayed for us, you helped us against the Militaries. Without you things would have gone very differently. We owe you, and the way she is treating you is not the way to pay back your help.”
“She is right about something, my time here is coming to an end. I stayed behind because you needed my help, but you are ok now, you can keep going without me.”
“We still need you, maybe not my mother, but my cousins and I do. We have learned a lot from you, but we still have a long way to go.”
“When I came here, I was planning a short stay, just a few months while I had my baby. I stayed longer because of the promise I made your mother that I was going to train you, then I stayed because I wanted to help Euryleia, then I wanted to help you with the war against the Militaries. But now the war is over and all the problems you could have, you can manage, Euryleia is back to being the strong warrior she used to be and you, you are a great warrior who doesn’t need me anymore. The seeds are planted, I’m sure that in time they will blossom. You will be the best Queen this Clan ever had. I think that you have learned all you can from me, you know that even if you are stronger than everyone else, you still need help, you need your family and your people. You have the right people by your side, and in time your Clan will be as strong as the Empire.”
“You really think we will be strong enough to face them?”
“Not by yourself, but with the right alliances. But remember what I told you…”
“The power to win a war is best used to prevent a war. The greatest victories are achieved when you don’t have to fight.”
“I know my brother, he would never get into an unnecessary war, but if one of his successors thinks differently, you will be strong enough to keep your people safe. But please, promise me that you won’t start a war that will put your people at risk because of greed.”
“Of course, I promised you. My main goal is to ensure the prosperity of my people, I want to do that with co-operation and trust, not with blood and pain.”
“See? You are ready Molpadia, there’s nothing left for me to teach you.”
Molpadia thought about my words for a few minutes, she didn’t feel ready, she didn’t realize just how much she had grown since we met. Spike had grown a lot too, not just emotionally, but physically, in a few weeks he had stopped being a boy, he was a man now. Molpadia used to stand taller than him, now he was even taller, and I knew that soon he would fill out and have an impressive physique. He would be an impressive man.
I had the future in front of me, the Allied Clans would never be the same once they took over. The children of Ace and Alkaia had been born out of hate, but they were developing bonds that would help to unite not only their two Clans, but all Clans not under the Empire’s protection.