Chapter One: The Princess of Sparta
She was beautiful.
Leonidas stared at the small form kicking amidst the thick folds of the blanket.
"A girl, your Majesty," the midwife said, bowing. "A beautiful, healthy baby girl."
"Beautiful. Yes, indeed," Leonidas murmured, studying the baby's features carefully. She had her mother's lovely eyes and mouth, and she seemed to have inherited his strong jawline.
"Leonidas," he heard his wife call from the bed. "How is our child?"
Leonidas walked over to his wife, Gorgo, who was struggling to sit up. The midwife quickly moved to her side and urged her to lie back down. The queen's naked body was slick with sweat, and the midwife's assistants removed the bloodied sheets from the bed.
"She is a gift from the Gods," Leonidas told his wife, handing the small bundle to her.
Gorgo smiled down at their daughter as the baby latched on to her breast and began sucking greedily at the milk. "What shall we name her?"
"Dyna. She will be a powerful child when she grows up," Leonidas decided.
He watched as his queen fed their little princess and felt a swell of pride. Of course he would have preferred that their firstborn would be a boy, but Dyna had captured his heart easily. He would not allow the Elders to take her away from him.
Leonidas turned and saw Captain Artemis, his close friend. The Spartan warrior looked ill at ease, but when his king approached he adopted a calm demeanor.
"What is it, Artemis?" Leonidas asked. "Is something wrong?"
"The Elders. They wish to see the child," Artemis replied slowly. "They want to make sure there are no deformities."
Leonidas felt his temper rise. If the Elders laid a violent hand against his daughter, he would rip them all to shreds. He nodded slowly, and he knew Artemis had seen anger flash in his eyes.
"They will not take her," Gorgo said defiantly, clutching Dyna tightly to her chest. "I won't allow it."
"We are bound to honor the law, Gorgo," Leonidas reminded her.
"She is our daughter!" Gorgo said, her voice rising. "If I have to fight them, I will!"
Leonidas looked at her defiant stance and nodded. "They won't. But I do not think they will find anything wrong with our Dyna. She is a perfect child."
The words had barely left his lips when the Elders entered. They maintained a respectful distance from the Queen, but Leonidas knew that they were silently asking to see his child.
He walked over to his wife's side, who resisted for a few seconds before handing him Dyna. The infant stirred, but made no shrill cry at being separated from her mother's breast.
Leonidas watched as the Elders examined every aspect of his daughter, before finally handing her back to him.
"Congratulations, your Majesty," they said. "You have a strong, healthy baby daughter. May we ask what she is to be called?"
"Dyna. Princess Dyna," Leonidas told them.
One of the Elders nodded. "A fitting name."
They left without a backward glance. Gorgo stretched out her arms for the child, and Leonidas surrendered Dyna to her again.
"There was no need to worry, my love." Leonidas sat beside his queen, who was now rocking their child to sleep.
"Still. The Elders can be very unpredictable. We may find her perfect, but theymight not think so." Gorgo pressed a kiss to Dyna's head. "Sleep well, Princess of Sparta."
4 years later...
Dilios was tired. He had spent most of the day training with the other Spartan warriors, and every spear thrust he made brought rivers of pain shooting throughout his body. But he was a Spartan. He would fight until his very breath had been extinguished from his body.
King Leonidas' voice echoed throughout the training arena, but it was only Dilios who turned and stopped. The other warriors grunted, screamed their battle cry, raised their shields, or slammed their swords or spears into their opponent.
Dilios walked over to the king and bowed. "Yes, your Majesty?"
Dilios barely noticed the small form standing a few feet behind the King, but she did.
Four-year old Dyna peeked from behind her father's red cape and studied Dilios. The warrior was only twelve, but he already showed promise. Dyna giggled softly and ducked behind her father again.
"..emissaries from Arcadia are arriving. As Captain Artemis has informed me, you are showing great promise. I trust that you can accompany the small retinue that will fetch them from the border?" Leonidas said.
Dilios nodded and bowed. "It would be an honor to serve your Majesty."
Leonidas nodded curtly. "Excellent. Resume training Dilios, and then report to Captain Artemis for further instructions."
Dilios bowed again and returned to the arena. He was glad to have an excuse to get out of the city once in a while, and being able to prove his mettle alongside Captain Artemis was a dream come true.
Well, one of my dreams come true, he corrected himself silently as he quickly blocked a sword thrust from an overly eager opponent. My real dream is to fight in a war with King Leonidas. But I think it would take some time.
Leonidas turned from young Dilios, noting that the trainee had returned to the arena. It was then when he noticed Dyna tugging at one of the spears on the table. He bit back a smile and walked slowly towards his daughter.
"And what do you think you are doing, Dyna?" he asked her.
"I want to fight," Dyna said, a fierceness in her eyes that Leonidas knew all too well.
He chuckled. "Not yet Dyna. Not yet."
"When?" she demanded, still trying to pull the spear off the table.
"When you are older." Leonidas gently pried her fingers from the base of the spear and led her away from the training arena. He preferred having Dyna stay with her mother, but Dyna had the tendency to gravitate towards him. Gorgo pretended to be annoyed, but Leonidas knew better.
Dyna had them all wrapped around her finger, and neither Gorgo nor Leonidas could stay mad at their daughter for long.
One thing worried them however. Even though she was only four years old, it was obvious that Dyna would grow to be an exceptional beauty. She had long ebony hair that fell just past her shoulders, small eyes that usually portrayed an intense and piercing gaze, and a thin mouth. Some Spartans believed that the queen was not Dyna's real mother, but Aphrodite, the goddess of Love and Beauty. Gorgo tried hard not to show that these words did not affect her, but at times Leonidas found her deep in thought, as if wondering whether the rumors held some truth to them.
"Father, why won't you let me train like the others?" Dyna asked him as they neared their sleeping chambers. "Shouldn't I learn to fight too? I know Mother has skill with the sword."
"Because you're far too young, Dyna. I promise, the moment you are old enough, I will train you myself," he assured her.
Dyna wasn't easily dissuaded. "When, Father? When?"
Leonidas saw Gorgo standing by the doorway and he smiled. "When you turn six, Dyna."
That seemed to calm Dyna down, because she slipped from his grasp and ran towards her mother, who immediately enveloped her in a crushing hug. "Dyna, my darling. Why do you insist on coming with your father to the training arena?"
To Leonidas, she said: "You know I don't like it when she goes there."
Leonidas chuckled. "I left her in her room, but she always finds a way to escape. She's determined."
Gorgo shook her head, but smiled anyway. "What am I going to do with you?"
Dyna blinked up at her and then buried her face in Gorgo's hair.
"She's tired," Leonidas guessed.
"No I'm not!" came Dyna's feeble retort. She, however, could not mask the yawn that escaped from her lips; Leonidas and Gorgo exchanged a knowing glance.
Gorgo carried Dyna to her room and set her down on her bed. "Rest now, Dyna, heart of my heart."
Dyna tried to keep her eyes open but failed, slowly slipping into the dark world of dreams.
Author's Note: Yep, this story has shorter chapters (compared to my other stories). I hope you don't mind. ;)
Reviews are more than welcome! :)
In case you were wondering what Dyna would look like when she grows up, I imagine her to be similar to Kristin Kruek. Feel free to drop suggestions though. ;)