5615/The Demon and the Queen

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The Demon and the Queen
Date of Scene: 17 March 2021
Location: The Grove of Antiope
Synopsis: Raven meets Hippolyta. Troia attempts a mixture of return fire and distractions to survive the barrage.
Cast of Characters: Donna Troy, Rachel Roth, 1581

Donna Troy has posed:
    It had been an interesting day. Themyscira had not had so many visitors at one time since the days before the Roman republic, and even before the arrival of the Titans there had been a buzz of curiosity and excitement in the air. Then they had shown up and there was not one or two but a whole /horde/ of excitable 'kids' for the Amazons to chase after.

    There had been introduction, celebrations, a tour and a feast. The recent Themysciran trend for learning English had been getting quite a workout all day long. Finally though, things had started to quiet down. While Cassie and Diana were getting the various other Titans shown to their rather opulent rooms in the palace, Troia had decided that Raven's patience with crowds had worn rather thin, and knew exactly where to take her.

    The sun has not yet quite set, but ther are a few tall torches lit around the grove when Troia and Raven arrive. There's no sign of who lit them though -- in the bustling city of Themyscira, this is a uniquely quiet spot. Donna suspects Raven will be spending a fair bit of time here over the week, at least when she wants a break from reading.

    It is, however, not the best place for avoiding Hippolyta. Not that Troia exactly /wanted/ to avoid her mother, but there's a certain awkwardness there. And an awkwardness about the awkwardness.

    In Themyscira, there is no 'meeting the parents' trope. There are no 'yes, I said she' concerns to worry about. It should be easy, but alas Troia has spent too much time in America, and seen to many American comedy movies to be entirely immune to a sense of forboding whish is fundamentally un-Themysciran.

    There should be no awkward surprises. Hippolyta has been hearing about Raven for four years now. They have been in each other's company for much of the afternoon, too. Just -- in public. There hasn't been an opportunity for Hippolyta to be disapproving yet.

    "Themyscira can be a noisy place," Troia tells Rae with a smile. "The city, at least. And the palace isn't exactly sound-proofed. Any time you need somewhere quiet to meditate... it's a good spot."

Rachel Roth has posed:
    Raven did her usual at the big welcome party. Always on the periphery, always present when Donna felt she ought to be, but never engaging in anything social. No horse and/or kangaroo ride. No meeting all of the more meaningful amazons. Just there. Being.

    It was, really, her preference. Weaving in and out of the crowd just enough to be /present/ but never speaking if she could help it. Raven did not really meet Hippolyta then.

    It had been a victory she would celebrate later. Sure, she had been /seen./ Sure, it was obvious that she was who she was... But she had not /met/ Hippolyta. Certainly, that was about to change.

    Raven isn't keeping tabs on anyone, but truth be told, she is quite aware that despite the quiet of this grove, Donna is not taking her here just to show it to her. At the very least, Raven assumes this. Whether or not she is correct, it is likely that they will not be alone for long.

    "I'll make a note of it, but if the library is quiet I will probably be spending most of my time there."

Hippolyta (1581) has posed:
"Phaedra will be overjoyed," the voice of Queen Hippolyta is heard before her figure enters the grove and is illuminated by torchlight. "She takes great pride in our accumulated knowledge. It has been a long time since eyes from the outside world have appreciated it." Eyes that were not Helena's, of course, but Helena was family of a sort.

So, too, was Raven, in a way.

The Queen's arrival was unnaturally silent, though it is not from the desire to eavesdrop. Hippolyta's demeanor always grows quieter and more contemplative than usual in the presence of Antiope's monument. Out of all of her sister, it could be said that Antiope was the closest to the Queen's heart.

Attired in a simple white garment, Hippolyta offers a serene smile to her daughter and her companion, although her piercing eyes linger a moment longer on Raven. "I hope I am not interrupting, we have hardly had the opportunity to speak outside of the din of a crowd and celebration."

Donna Troy has posed:
    There had in truth been no ulterior motive in taking Raven here - Rae had been putting up with the crowds, Rae needed some quiet. This is where Troia goes for quiet when she's at home.

    It is equally true that Hippolyta would know, and that Troia knows she would know. That it would be a conveniently private place for the queen to come and speak to the woman her youngest daughter has professed her love for is not something that has escaped Troia's thoughts - Hippolyta's arrival to meet them here is at least half-expected, but has not been planned.

    Thus when the queen's voice marks her entry into the grove, Troia is prepared, and turns to greet her mother with a smile. She reaches a hand out to take Raven's, barely aware she is doing it. Nerves? Defiance? Emphasis? Reassurance? She doesn't know her own motive.

    They wait as Hippolyta crosses the grassy ground to join them, and Troia answers Raven in hushed tones. "Despite the martial appearances and rumor, Themyscira is a rather studious nation," Troia replies, smirking slightly. "The library is well-used, but it is spacious and quiet study is respected. The scriptorium at the Temple of the Oracle is quieter though, and you'd likely find that quite interesting. And then there's Magala. She has a small private library I am sure you would find very interesting, though there are works written in languages even you might not know. You will find her a very quiet person, and her cottage is outside the city and very peaceful. She is curious to meet you, I think. It's hard to be certain with her. She is not an easy person to read, as you'll find out. Hopefully she approves of you enough to invite you to visit her."

    "Mother," Troia says a little more loudly when Hippolyta has come close. "You are not interrupting. Rae finds crowds a little... tiring. I thought she would enjoy spending some time with Aunt Antiope." Troia's nerves settle a little bit, and she breaks into a broad smile. "It is good to see you in these circumstances, mother. A joyous time. I had feared my next trip home might not be a happy one."

Rachel Roth has posed:
    Raven's apprehensions regarding Troia's intentions are solidified, but they are at the same time, well, dropped. Whether or not Donna brought her here with the intention of meeting Hippolyta was irrelevant in both the face of Hippolyta's arrival and in practice. There was no reason to care, in the end, so she didn't.

    Raven's hand must first be fished from a pocket, but once it is free, it is allowed to wrap itself amongst the fingers of her partner's hand, both in solidarity and in outward gesture of the truth of it. They were together. It showed. That was important.

    "It's thousands of years old, I did not expect the books to be in pristine condition." she remarks, quietly, to Donna. "We were just discussing the library, and that this grove may be a quiet place to which to retreat. I do not like crowds, as Troia said. I will be somewhat scarce while we are visiting, if you don't know where to look."

    Raven tilts her head to Troia for a moment, a brow raising. The term Mother is so formal, but she isn't one to say anything right now.

    "I keep reminding her not to die when we go into battle. I think she's listening, but it's hard to tell."

    Haha, right to death. Just. Straight there, do not pass go.

Hippolyta (1581) has posed:
"This would not have been the first time your return defied expectations, If there were ever two sisters more capable of overcoming than you and your sister, I cannot recall them." Hippolyta's eyes linger briefly over the statue of Antiope, before her attention turns to Raven, as the pale woman speaks.

"I was not fond of crowds either, in the early days," the queen confides, speaking quietly. "Antiope was always the most gregarious of all of us. There was no place where she felt more at home than among her sisters... unless it were the field of battle. I was always more at ease among smaller groups, but there are things one must overcome, when certain things must be done..." she glances at Raven, and then turns her attention to the grove. "In truth, it is the reason why this city has so many gardens and quiet retreats. It was my will that there should always be a refuge for anyone who sought restorative solitude."

The Queen's serene expression is illuminated slightly by a subtle and slight smile, "I am beginning to learn that such reminders might be needed where my daughters are concerned. I am thankful to the goddesses for Diana's recovery. And I understand that I must be thankful to you for your part in Troia's recovery." She now looks at Troia as she speaks, "I only hope that they give us fewer reasons for concern in the future, or I might send their nursemaids back to Patriarch's world with you, that they may be better looked after."

Donna Troy has posed:
    Troia is intent on not rising to the bait - but who's bait? Every way she turns, she is being baited! Best to sieze the hook and not wriggle on the end of it. "Themyscira /is/ my refuge, /matera/." And there it is - 'Mother' is formal, but it's a translation. Does /matera/ come across as formal? Who knows - the word is ancient. There have been few who have used it in the three and a half millennia of Themyscira's history.

    "Diana and I - and those who fight beside us - nursmaid the World of Men, mother. If we occasionally neglect to look after ourselves it is simply that the task keeps us busy. Yet hear we stand."

    She smiles a little wider, and gives Raven's hand a gentle squeeze. "And Rae brings her complaint up pre-emptively. I have not yet raised with her the point that while dealing with Cassandra's double, it was I not she who was meant to be taking the blows. I keep telling her she needs to be better prepared for such surprises and not entirely neglect her combat training. I don't think she's listening, but it's hard to tell."

    "Still, these are not Raven's skills. It was Rae who disarmed Cassandra's double so that she could be captured. I am proud to fight alongside her, though I wish she would remember my advice that she should always be fighting at a distance."

Rachel Roth has posed:
    "It's nice to hear that it isn't exclusive to me. Knowing it is often enough, but hearing it is comforting." Raven admits, trying her best to be nice, and say things to people that say things to her, which is somewhat counter to Raven's entire... Everything. "I am afraid, though, that I despised them in the early days, and I despise them now in the mid days. I am sure I will continue to do so in the latter days."

    Her attention goes to the squeeze for half a moment. "Wouldn't call it nursemaid. There's connotations. Might want to learn the term 'babysit.' It's a good verb." A pause. "There is no lack of trying to do the opposite."

    Then, Donna is speaking about the combat with Cassandra, and Raven's expression doesn't at all shift. Instead, she looks placidly forward, not leveling her gaze on Donna just yet.

    "Neither she nor the armor reached me or struck me. I will listen to your advice when you are right."

Hippolyta (1581) has posed:
"It never becomes completely comfortable, but with timee one learns to manage," Hippolyta concedes. Of course, it coud be argued that, having a few thousand years of practice, one learns to manage almost anything.

"Of course, as a guest among us, you are not required to participate outside of your comfort. I cannot, however, guarantee that my daughter will not put in her own efforts. I have long learned that she shares Hermes' gift of persuasive speech, although I yet draw the limit at allowing signals from Patriarch's world." A fleeting glance at Donna, and she walks closer to Antiope's statue, staying there for a second before addressing the two.

"I understand that in Patriarch's world, mothers are expected to speak at length in matters of their daughters' relationships, and speak to those whom they intend as their companions." She smiles a little. "We have not had that custom in Themyscira. For obvious reasons."

Donna Troy has posed:
    Change the subject. Change the subject, Troia. Sooo many subjects to change. Did Hippolyta somehow know that Troia had brought a satellite dish and modem with her on this trip? It's entirely possible Hippolyta has found out. She finds things out she has no business finding out. Mothers have no business knowing so much.

    "It seems like an... unnecessary custom. Patriarch's world is full of them. Mother -- I know you, and I know you can't have heard this story of this other Earth without wondering what was the fate of Themyscira there. I... I've been there. " Donna's proud of this distraction. It may be that the change of subject is a little obvious, but it's tasty bait for that hook.

    "Caitlin and I... and Supergirl, who came with us and you've met now - the three of us and a few others went there to rid that world of the monster that had conquered it. It had a power over the minds of everyone on the planet, to a greater or lesser degree -- except those behind the barrier that protects this island. Themyscira stood secure. They were unable to leave, to take the fight to it, because they did not have a way to defeat that mental influence. We brought them that means, developed by a scientist in America. Now the Amazons of that world lead in bringing it once more to peace."

Rachel Roth has posed:
    "I have already spoken to Troia about her efforts. She knows the score." Raven notes, "I did not think to have the same conversation with Diana. All the same, I am /exceptionally difficult/ to persuade."

    Donna wants to change the subject. Raven isn't going to let that happen.

    "Of course it seems unnecessary, Troia. But, who is anyone here to judge what is unnecessary? Tradition is tradition, and you have already told me so much of Queen Hippolyta." Raven notes, bringing that right back up. It's only /fair/ in that context, that Hippolyta get her chance to speak, at /length./

    If we're being fair, Raven does not know that internet equipment was brought by anyone, else that would have been immediately present.

Hippolyta (1581) has posed:
There are things mothers know. There are things mothers suspect, and there are things mothers gamble on. With Hippolyta, it's always hard to tell what is a bluff, and what she actually knows.

"Perhaps an observation of how we have become more observers than active participants in Patriarch's World, my daughter?" Hippolyta knows what yarns Troia tends to thread. Resistant as she was to let her daughters go to the world, at times she is also reistant to bring the world closer to them.

As evidenced by the landing party from a few days ago, that resistance is being worn down. "I sense there is a thought perched at the tip of your tongue. Although you seem to have some issue in bringing it forth fully formed... the more reason to engage in conversation while you ruminate."

Turning to Raven, she says, "I must admit that I am glad that my daughter has found a match for her will. If her penchant for persuasion is defeated in you, perhaps she will become more tractable to the notion that there are those who would not bend to her will. On the other hand, should she finally succeed we may yet see the birth of one craftier and more persuasive than Odysseus himself, and what that signifies for the fate of the world, I tremble to contemplate." The Queen is smiling now, and adds, "Is she ever so insistent with you? When she was small and Diana had just returned from Patriarch's World, she would be adamant that she should have a suit that resembled Diana's. She badgered Philonoe to forge her one- and was rather heartbroken when she gently refused. One evening shortly aferwards, I caught her in the armory trying on spare pieces. She would try to hold bracers up on her arms that would have easily fit both her legs in. They kept falling off."

Donna Troy has posed:
    Troia gives Raven's hand another squeeze, gentle but somewhat extended in duration beyond what could be mistaken for a casual, loving squeeze. It enters into the realms of meaningful, and the meaning is clearly 'Dear RaeRae, I love you, and I would forgive you almost everything, but I /could/ crush your hand. P.S. I said almost.'

    The walls of Troy stood ten years against the Greeks; the walls of Troy, beseiged by her mother and by her lover, may face the greater force, but thus far they stand, and no wooden horse of tales from her childhood shall be allowed through the gates. For now at least, she remains stoic.

    "I had thought, mother, that you might have questions of your own rather than allow me full reign to determine what is important to say. I shall make my point briefly. There was a double of you on that Themyscira. And of Diana." And of Troia? She does not say. Let Hippolyta move her /pettia/ stone if she wishes to probe that flank; such probing will distract her from other flanks.

    "I went there to meet them with a specific purpose. The double of Supergirl had become corrupted by the monster, and had terrorized the world as its captain. When we defeated the monster, the enormity of what she had done struck her. She needed to be kept somewhere safe. Somewhere where she could be lead from the darkness of her past and learn a better way. Somewhere where there was great strength even she could not overwhelm if she were to slip. I petitioned the Queen Hippolyta of that world to take her prisoner in the hopes she could be reformed. I called upon the laws of Aphrodite. The Amazons of that world were dubious, for this double of Supergirl had done great wrong to the world. Your double listened to my plea though. She declared one of the empty Islands would henceforth be called /Alithaia/, the island of healing, where damaged souls could be reborn."

    Troia smiles at her mother, and gives Raven's hand another squeeze, but this one has no warning in it, it's pure affection. "Your opposite number in that world has your wisdom, mother. It is there that I will take Cassandra's double, in the hope that she too can be healed."

Rachel Roth has posed:
    Raven shunts the pain off somewhere else. It is now that the link Raven forms- that spans continents, if not worlds- with her compatriots now makes so much more sense. Donna squeezes her hand, and then that pain finds its way /right/ back to Metropolis, likely making one Terry O'Neil drop the coffee he was fetching.

    Sadly, even such intense threats cannot dissuade her. Troia has made her get on a jet, come out, and be social. She is keeping this. She is having it, and there is nothing that can be done about it.

    "When Troia first arrived, she had trouble socializing. One day, I recall, she was in the common room with the rest of us, but nobody there wanted to dance, so she put her lasso down, and commanded it to do this movement..." Raven pauses, for a moment.

    "I think she had seen it somewhere else. It was an extremely old dance." Sure, Troia is singing the praises of her mother, but this is effectively Polly and Raven sharing baby pictures.

Hippolyta (1581) has posed:
"Is that so?" Hippolyta's eyes are positively sparkling in the torchlight, even if her expression remains that of a cordial smile, those who know her well (and those who can read emotions) will be aware of the mirth that that particular look in her eyes conceals. "She was always partial to dance. When she was eight, shortly after the feast of the Thesmophoria, she fancied herself as one of the priestessess performing the dance of the offering. She would sneak off to one of the hills and perform her own version of it, from her own imagining, behind one of the tall trees and festooned with flowers and fallen leaves. I had Cleite keep watch over her in secret during her escapades- it was fortunate, for in the fervor of her dance she miscalculated and took a tumble. Shortly, she was tumbling over and down the hill... I needn't illustrate the state in which she returned to the city."

Then, she glances over at Donna, as she profers her play. It is a smart move- playing Hippolyta against herself, and a move the Queen mother recognizes as particularly cunning. "And you think that there is merit in the idea for this world as well, daughter?" Hippolyta turns her attention to the obelisk, or rather that is where she appears to be looking at, but her eyes are focused beyond it, "Do you also intend to take our longtime guest, counterpart to the reporter, to that island as well? She has been our captive guest for some months now."

Donna Troy has posed:
    How about the time You caused the Bronze-Age collapse due to invading Greece and sending waves of Achaeans fleeing before you, all because you forgot to check with your sister if she was okay with being married? And how about the time YOU spent two years gathering dust?

    These are things that Troia does not say. Instead she smiles faintly. Bludgeoned and battered, the walls of Troy still stand -- though back in Metropolis, Terry's hand once more senses a mysterious moment of pressure.

    "Rae is fond of her subtle jokes, mother. Sometimes they are too subtle. Were any of our friends in the Titans to hear her speaking of me having trouble socializing they would make Gelos himself envious with their laughter. A little oversight that you do not yet know her well enough to recognize the hilarity of her comment, but she cannot be blamed. She had to sit in Diana's jet with /several/ other people, and then was expected to show her face at the feast. I sense it has worn deeply at her nerves. To be honest I don't think she would have come here at all were it not for the opportunity to read texts unknown beyond these shores. Somehow I expect her to leave Themyscira with her skin even less tanned than it was before."

    Troia shakes her head slightly, and purses her lips in a thoughtful expression. "From what I hear, our guest has been getting on quite well here. It would be a shame to move her, I think. I doubt she would fit in with the duplicates of Cassandra and Supergirl, she would find them rather intimidating. No, I suspect her own healing is best done here. I feel also that is good for our sisters here. Aphrodite's law applies on all Themysciras, after all, and it may be useful that we gain the same experience in the healing of the soul. Our world may be far better than theirs, but there are no doubt those who we would be best equipped to help find their paths. Perhaps you too will chose the path this other Hippolyta chose. We do have a few islands we do nothing else with, after all."

Rachel Roth has posed:
    Raven nods solemnly to Hippolyta. "Yes, it is so." she states, "I had imagined she would be partial to dance, but I would have wagered that she'd do more practicing before she tried to dance at the top of a hill. Frankly, I wish I had known this story long ago, as it would have informed how we tutored Troia in the art of acting the hero for the world in which we live. It is a good lesson, and tells me /so much./" Admitting that, there is a counter-squeeze of Donna's hand.

    "Oh, yes, I was certainly joking." she notes, offering a nod or two, "Much of my statements are jokes- and cannot be interpreted seriously." That is, frankly, an almost serendipitous thing to say. This is because, of course, Donna talks about the books.

    "I have read some of them on earlier excursions. As soon as I learned of the library on Themyscira, I simply had to see it. Teleporting to the island was not too difficult the first time."

    A joke, right?

Hippolyta (1581) has posed:
"There is much to consider in what you say, daughter. Let us speak more of it tomorrow- I will have questions, considering the different circumstances of that world and ours, but I am open to a reasonable argument."

The queen smiles, then, and takes on a different subject. "I also don't need to remind you that the day of your sister's birth is approaching soon. I imagine that, in the tradition that you two have established, we should have the appropriate festivities since you two will be on the island during them." Hippolyta had not been adverse to the type of celebration that Diana and Troia had brought with them from Patriarch's world. It seemed like a benevolent enough celebration. "I also imagined you would be insistent upon taking charge of the preparations, so you may speak with Adrastea tomorrow for the logistics."

She starts walking towards the exit, but stops by Raven's side. "I am afraid that my daughter may very well insist that you attend the festivities. For my part, I do not hold you to such an obligation, but should she succeed in persuading you to join, I assure you that we will be able to find a sedate location in the party where many telling of stories can take place."

The comment about the library seems to be taken in jest. Or perhaps not. It is hard to tell with Hippolyta, "I must retire now, so I shall leave you to your privacy. Goodnight, Troia. Goodnight, Raven." And with that, the Queen moves silently out of the grove and into the night.

Rachel Roth has posed:
    Raven nods politely to Hippolyta as the woman speaks, and then moves to depart. There is a silence, that she is sure is mostly just Troia waiting for Hippolyta to be out of earshot for the onslaught that's going to come. Frankly, sincerely, Raven is anticipating the backblast of roasting her lover so, and really, she'd be content with that... But she knows how to disarm Donna. She is practiced. Skilled.

    "Your sister's birthday celebration? That's not the thing with the deer, is it?"

Donna Troy has posed:
    It's over. Almost. The walls of Troy still stand, though the gates are battered, the towers not quite so topless, and the ramparts crumbling. Some future Schliemann would have fewer doubts that these were the beetling fortifications he sought amongst the dust of Cannakale.

    Troia gives Raven an indulgent, affectionate smile, and turns round to reach with her other hand and hold both of Raven's hands in her own. "Yes dear, that's right. The deer thing. Would you like to go for your fitting now, or tomorrow?"