In the open plateia of Oreboea, the citizens of the Kotas province have awoken to find the body of a young man - naught more than seventeen - murdered in the street and left to be found in the open market square. It has been six months since the Lady Evras was wed to Prince Zanon of Kotas and many claim it is the presence of a Thanasi witch in the town that is sparking such disaster. For who else but a witch would have removed their victim's liver...?
The big hound sniffed the corpse, and growled. He didn’t like this, not one bit. His mistress, a young, redheaded woman, didn’t, either, and her bared teeth and angry face were any indication. Meanwhile, the woman in white that stood a few paces back wondered how in the name of Olympus did she get into this mess…
It has been two years since the priestesses of the Sisterhood of Cypress found Aedea and took her into their temple. Having her was difficult, to say at least, but Kallista refused to give up on her. Right now, the savage woman wore some actual clothes, though they were stained by dirt, and she also wore a dog collar, much like the hound she was following. She insisted, albeit non verbally, that if her family had to wear collars, she would as well.
And that was one of the perks of having Aedea in training… the pack of dogs she came with obeyed her, and only her. It was as if she was their alpha. How she managed to communicate with them was beyond anybody in the Sisterhood, but it worked…
And with the odd murder that happened, tracking hounds were an important asset. At first, they decided to simply take one of them, but Aedea relentlessly protested, and it was obvious that she would get violent… not to mention, that the dog would refuse to go if she didn’t go. In the end, they decided to send one of the sisters to supervise them.
“What do you think, Aedea?”, she asked, knowing the kind of response she would get. Still, they had to encourage her to speak.
Aedea snarled. There it was...
The young outsider watched as her dog sniffed some more. She put a finger into the wound where the poor man’s liver would have been and tasted the blood. She made a disgusted face and spat… this was not normal. Not at all.
That morning they had woken together, tangled in the sheets and blissfully naked. Evras' belly had grown fuller but she was still slim and lovely as always, and as he trailed kisses along her skin he didn't think he could ever be tired of her. They were young and had the rest of their lives ahead of them to be this happy, this in love. After their wedding they had retired to his barony in Oreboa to have a sort of honeymoon, a chance to spend time living as man and wife away from their families and the prying eyes of the other nobles. So far it had been nothing but bliss, walking the grounds and talking, playing their usual games and reading to one another from scrolls. They'd even spent a night out on the sand of the beach watching the stars and playing in the waves.
A knock at the door was barely noted by the young prince as he had dipped beneath the sheets to continue trailing his kisses along his wife's skin, but a second more fervent sound accompanied by his steward's harried voice pulled him back to reality. With an exasperated sigh, Zanon rolled from bed, wrapping one of the blankets around his waist and barely cracking the door open enough to acknowledge that he was listening.
"Iulio there had better be a very good reason why you see fit to bother us at the moment. What is it?"
As soon as he caught sight of the other man's face, his own expression turned into a scowl and he opened the door a bit more fully, looking out at him and caring not for his dark brown hair being a mess or the current nearly nude state of him. Something was wrong, he'd never seen his steward looking quite like this before during any of the issues they'd had to face together.
"Your highness..there has been a murder. A very...unusual..you're needed right away."
His heart ran cold and he glanced back over to bed, hoping Evras hadn't heard what was said just yet. Oreboa had always been safe, shockingly so for a Colchian town with a people known for being military types. He didn't know that anyone had been murdered in his tenure as baron. There were of course the people who died in accidents, or those who were lost to a tavern brawl, but murder was never a word that had been bandied about before.
"I'll dress and be on my way. The Princess..."
"It might be best, sir if she were with you."
Zanon paused as his man cut him off, confusion clear in his gaze until Iulio cleared his throat and gave a slight explanation. The people were using the word witch, a word very clearly associated with the Thanasi family. She had barely been out of his sight since they married, but he could see what his steward intended. The safest place for her was by his side, a show of support.
After a quick conference, the prince returned to his wife and told her a slightly abridged version of the tale and why they had to be together. A sign of mutual mourning and respect. When they finally arrived at the scene, Zanon kept a tight hold on his wife's hand as they stepped forward together, the body covered as a crowd of people had appeared and were all speaking in hushed and frightened tones.
Do not be overly available for one's husband. Always be available for him. Watch over what he does. Ensure you're always with him. Elevate the family status through him. See the secrets hidden within the Kotas manor. Ensure that her child in her belly would be favorable with the family. Seek secrets. Find problems.
She wanted none of that.
In truth, Evras knew of her eldest sister's aspirations, as well as her younger brother's animosity towards her husband's family. Their marriage was favored by her family, but for all the wrong reasons. Reasons which Evras did not fancy, but was not her place to question. She was the youngest of the three sisters, and had lived a life used to listening and abiding by what Nethis told them to. Thea had been less commanding, merely ensuring Evras knew of what she was going into, and had been the gentle sister in making sure Evras had been prepared.
But the pressure she felt from her other siblings had been immense. So when her husband had suggested a prolonged stay in Oroboea, away from Midas, Evras had jumped at the chance. Her pregnancy had not been entirely easy either, with morning sickness and dizzy spells happening way too often for her liking. The calm, more sedate pace of Oroboea agreed with her, and after many walks and relaxed days spent with her husband in his estate and grounds, the color had finally returned to Evras's face as she entered her seventh month carrying a child they had conceived... well, not exactly within wedlock.
The day before had been spent visiting with some familiar friends who had decided to come and visit the newly-wedded princess who carried the Kotas royal family's first heir, and it had not ended early at all, which led to their later-then-usual hour. Waking up naked tangled together had been a normal occurence, one that Evras was used to by now, even cherished. She did not think she was still slim, for carrying a seven month old baby within her belly meant she looked like a whale waddling around. Yet her husband' opinion seemed to differ. Her apetite hadn't exactly been the best, but she shovelled food in as best as she could anyhow. Zanon's appreciation of her, in her opinion, overly large body, however, did serve to bolster some form of confidence in her, and her smile was a pleasant one as she rolled over with a small laugh to greet her husband's wandering morning kisses...
...Only for it to be punctuated by a knock on the door.
Frowning as Zanon headed for the door, Evras slowly pushed herself up to a seated position, laying one hand on her belly as her dark tresses fell over her shoulders, a questioning look meeting her husband's somewhat confused features. She could not hear much, but the explanation that her husband gave after brought cold blood rushing through her veins.
Of course, she must have been silly to think that just because she was now married to the second prince of Kotas, it meant that such rumors would abate. Who was she kidding? A shadowed look fell across her face as her husband dressed, but Evras knew Zanon wasn't wrong. She had to be there, as much as she tried to hide her face. Nethis had always been the one ensuring she walked tall and proud even despite the whispers in Midas, and Thea had always been by her side. She did not fancy the rumors... but she had always had her sisters, and they understood best, for they were in the same position as she was. While Zanon was here, and technically she should trust her husband to keep her safe, a worm of worry and self-doubt had managed to lodge itself in her heart even as she dressed as quickly as she could.
Deciding to eschewe the snake bangle that she always wore, the same one her sisters had, Evras instead chose a maroon chiton that flowed softly over her portruding belly, and went with her husband towards the location, keeping silent the whole time. Her blue-green eyes were wide as she looked at the whispers directed her way, some fearful, other's accusatory, and even more almost angry at her, as if she had wronged them personally somehow. Instinctively, her hand tightened around Zanon's, keeping next to him, her gaze searching for a familiar face.
For anything would be better then facing a mob angry at her.
The birds were singing loudly in the woods as the sisters began to awake from their rest. Kallista stood with her hands on her hips as she investigated the trees spotting several birds. It was a beautiful morning, such a time she was blessed by her goddess to witness. Some souls are not as lucky, some remain stuck in the capitals of cities, or their eyes have been shut for an eternity. Kallista is thankful for being alive, she has thanked her goddess many times over for the new life she lives. Instead of the life she could have lived in Dolomesa, Kallista travels the Kingdoms with her sisters spreading the word of Artemis. She is also helping women who are not as fortunate, or who are living at the mercy of the gods for men can be cruel. The cruelty of man cannot go unpunished, Artemis has made that very clear in her teachings as she can be an unforgiving force to which she presses upon her priestesses. Live life free of restriction but remain in alliance of morality and modesty. There are several lessons to learn, everyday Kallista spends learning them as she figures her purpose in the life she is currently living.
The blue-eyed huntress had already packed her white mare as she awaited her other sisters to ready themselves for the journey. Kallista wore the standard silver tunic with her bow slung over her shoulder with a quiver of arrows resting on her back – the young huntress was ready for anything that could happen, because danger can be anywhere and anyone. The sisters were visiting all the provinces of Colchis, before setting sell to possibly Taengea in a few months. Oreboea was one of their many steps and already they have helped a few pregnant women ease new lives into this world. Kallista has trained as a huntress since she joined the Sisterhood, though she was gaining practice in midwifery as she assisted some pregnancies. Although, her main responsibility is to protect their sisters and any other dangerous situations.
Once everyone was ready, Kallista and the rest of her band jumped on the backs of their horses and rode onto the market. It was only an hour-long ride, before the sisters appeared within the city, though many were not awake to greet the sisters – except for the guards who patrolled market’s limits. The sisters entered the market and quickly found a resting spot for their horses, though immediately the hounds of Aedea started to growl lowly. Something that alerted everyone, especially Kallista as she slid off of her horse. Kallista asked curiously, though she know any words out of Aedea would be minimum, “What is wrong?”
It wasn’t long before Kallista noticed something laying on the ground in the street, which prompted curiosity to settle in. Kallista called out to everyone lowly, “There is something wrong here…” Already, Aedea was moving forward with her hounds to which Kallista objected, though one of her hounds was already off. Kallista quickly moved and the four other sisters followed suit as she went to catch up with Aedea, though in the process they have discovered something obscene. Immediately, Kallista’s facial expression changed as she eyed the dead body of a young man, blood dried on the street next to where his body lays. One of the Priestesses inquired Aedea and the growl of the initiate surely confirmed what everyone was thinking. This boy was murdered. “Look there, it appears he has been butchered… By the name of Artemis…” She said in shock - Kallista noticed approaching figures, so she warned her sisters to step back some.