Panel 1: a bit mean.
The Amazon Princess Penthesilea, chasing a red fox up an embankment, allows herself to be caught unguarded by her companions Ainia and Bremusa. Avoiding a barrage of pebbles, the Princess makes her way to the water's edge and successfully defends herself.
From a distance the clay walls and whitewashed gates gave Themiskyra an imposing profile, as permanent as stone, magical and impenetrable. The whole City was elevated above the river, its earthwork glacis sodded with grass and surrounded by a dry moat.
The land around Themiskyra had always been favourable for the controlled growth and prosperity that the Amazon Queens preferred. There was a fertile plain just beyond where the modest river cut through the pebbles. Beyond the city to the south and southwest there were thick oak and pine forests and then hills and mountains. The prevailing winds and currents in this part of Sea were treacherous enough to protect the City from a naval assault yet a small but shallow harbour provided the Amazons an outlet in the summer months for commerce with more adventuresome navigators and traders.
Penthesilea had finally found her prey. The maidens were far beyond the gates, hunting upriver, where the Thermidon becomes a wide stream. They had run bare-foot for, what to them felt like hours, until the Princess finally saw some game, a fox with a rabbit lodged in her jaws. The animal looked at her, slightly annoyed and continued quickly into the woods that bordered the shallow river.
“Oh let it go!” shouted the Ainia as she reached Penthesilea. “I’m hungry, lets go back.”
The Princess continued, however, climbing up and into the brush. She had momentarily dropped her quiver and bow to chase the fox. Although the leather and linen protected her from the acanthus, the alder branches and holly whipped at her arms drawing thin red lines on her shoulders. Her hair, cut at the nape of her neck was the same colour as the vixen. Her mother Otrere had done her best to shelter her from her father who still possessed the means to penetrate their enclave, but she had noticed that as Penthesilea matured she looked and behaved more and more in the spirit of her father.
The fox looked at Penthesilea, as if she feared that she would be forced to fight and lose her prey to the maid. After a diet of insects and berries, the rabbit was a victory for her and her remaining pup. She leaned back on her haunches and unwilling to release her prey she attempted to expose her teeth as a sign of defiance. “I could step on you and it would be over,” thought Penthesilea as her attention turned to some noise behind her. She glanced away briefly and the fox was gone.
Penthesilea suddenly realised that Ainia and Bremusa were still at the water and throwing rocks and laughing at her. At the stream they had a cache of projectiles, something that she did not have in the bush, where there was nothing but dried leaves. “Run,” she thought, “to the beach.” She heard a rock fly through the leaves close to her. She sped in a zig zag thinking, “Run fast, to the beach where I can at least defend myself. These girls are not friends! Get there and find a weapon to defend yourself!”
Of course, she knew that like the fox she should have never allowed herself to be exposed to such nonsense. She felt a stone strike her shoulder followed by pain, then another one on her head. “Ow!” Her hand felt the back of her head and she could hear ridicule. She saw blood on her fingers.
“They will pay,” she thought, as she made her way to the water. The beach was lined with cedars and laurels where land ended. The embankment was scoured away leaving the boulders and stones that formed a beach. She jumped down through the young cedars and realised that they could no longer see her. There were no stones, no noise, only the background sound of water on the beach.
“I should never have allowed myself,” she thought as she selected pebbles. At the same moment that her eyes found the girls they too realised that she was on the beach. Suddenly Ainia on her left and Bremusa far to her right, had their arrows trained directly on Penthesilea. “Give up you little snipe,” Bremusa smiled. “You deserve it.”
Penthesilea looked at the pebbles in her hands, “Its not fair.”
“Fair,” said Bremusa, “ Ares would never use such a word.”
“You know nothing about my father,” said Penthesilea.
“He’s right behind you,” said Ainia. Penthesilea slightly distracted turned to see nothing but water. She dived forward, her head going under the surface. Turning with some difficulty and trying to breathe she came back to the surface to face two twelve year old girls laughing and pushing her back under. From underwater she could see Ainia’s bow. She reached for it, pulled on it and pushed herself back deeper in the water, armed the weapon and stood to see the two girls clearly in her range
“We wouldn’t do that to you,” Ainia said.
“We were teasing,” added Bremusa, “you know we’ll always be friends.”
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