Abraxes

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Abraxes

May the gods and goddesses of our people bless the readers, especially those I love.

My name was Abraxes, and I was a slave. Despite this, the gods blessed me beyond all measure, and I will die as a member of the nobility. For my children, and their children, I wish to record what happened, so they may know how that happened, and thank the gods and goddesses who brought such joy into my life. The account I must relate is strange, stranger than any other I have heard of, but I swear by all our gods and goddesses that it is the truth.

I must first recount how I became a slave. My father had become indebted to a moneylender named Adiano. Our whole family was threatened with slavery. Desperate, my father took me and my twin sister Aleda to a rival of Adiano’s, a nobleman named Argyro.

He offered both of us to Argyro, My sister as a bride, and me as a servant, in exchange for the cancelling of the debt. Lest someone reading this think less of my father, he had done what he could to save us both. If we had fallen into the hands of Adiano, we would have suffered abuse and quite possibly rape.

Being male would have not protected me, as I was often regarded as being too pretty for a boy.

On top of that, my father had gotten an oath from Argyro that we would be treated well, and that he would not sell us to anyone without getting the same promise of protection from them.

My new master soon proved a man of his word, and he allowed me to continue my studies in reading, writing, and mathematics, and I was permitted to see my sister often.

My sister had only begun her female cycle the year before, and had been frightened of him at first, despite his promise, but after we had been in his household for a few months, she was able to assure me that Argyro was treating her very well, teaching her all the skills she needed to be a nobleman’s wife, and she also said to me that the man was a gentle and generous lover.

Within a year of our arrival, we both had settled nicely. Despite my youth, I was already being regarded as the most important servant, and my sister was glowing as she was expecting her first child.

Then, my master was summoned to the palace of the king of our city, in celebration of a birthday of his son, the prince. It was a sign on how far I had risen in his eyes that he had me come with him.

The prince turned out to be the same age as myself, and more than once during our visit, I caught him looking at me in a way I had become familiar with.

Because I seemed somewhere between male and female, many people saw me as exotic, desirable. And these people included members of both sexes. But due to the high standing of my master, most were content with just looking. But for the first time, I was in the presence of someone who could take me, if he truly wished, and I was unsure how to respond.

I was not the only one who noticed, for after a great deal of wine had been consumed, the king said “It is a pity your servant is a boy. If he were a woman, she would be a perfect bride for the prince”

“He wants my servant, he can have him” my master slurred.

So that is how I came to be the personal servant of the prince.

At first I was very frightened. I had no recourse if the prince chose to use me, unless I favoured dieing. But, to my relief, he demanded nothing other than I talk with him on the subjects that I had become well versed in.

Regardless, I only really relaxed when a year later a bride was found for him, and it was clear from the first that the marriage was more than one of convenience. In fact, the two of them were very much smitten with each other, and I no longer feared losing my virginity against my will.

Soon, she gave birth to a daughter, and despite the fact that the house would have preferred a male heir, the simple fact that the prince’s wife had been able to get pregnant so quickly and had been able to bring the child to term without difficulty was regarded as a good omen.

Sadly, the joy in the house was short-lived, for before the baby was a year old, the king died, and we all went into mourning, especially the prince. But he had duties to perform, and soon had taken the crown for himself and began his own reign.

Those were busy times for me, for he had me performing many duties, including scribe, accountant, and personal servant to the new king. My appearance caused much confusion to visitors who came to the palace, a fact that the king seemed to delight in. In fact he commanded me to make myself look as feminine as possible when I served his guests, but to reveal my true sex on command.

Dear children, do not judge him too harshly for this, as I believed there was a different motive than the one he gave in public. He was a man who noticed things others missed, and I am sure he also knew such clothes pleased me, and by making it seem that it was a punishment, he removed any chance that I would be held guilty for my desires.

But then things changed. It started with a message from the other kings of our people. It was, in fact a summons. To war.

The old king had made treaty with the other leaders, and now that commitment was to be honoured, as my lord was told to make preparations for battle, as part of a great league that had not been seen to that time.

As was custom with our people, the king went to an oracle, and was told that the only way to win the upcoming war was to find a great hero, who was in disguise nearby.

So the king gathered his soldiers, and we headed to the place that the oracle said the hero was supposed to be. He took me with him, and surprisingly, he left his wife in charge, rather than appoint a man.

But his queen was well-loved, and she would have good advisors as well, and so there was little objection.

Soon, we approaching the spot where we were supposed to go, and saw that it was a small citadel dedicated to all the goddesses of our people. The Protector of the citadel came out to meet us, and the king smiled, being convinced that soon he would have the hero and we could be on our way.

The oracle had told the king that hero would be in the family of the Protector, and it required little convincing on the king’s part to get the man to bring his family out to the courtyard.

Then the king’s smile faded when he saw the family of the Protector.

Except for the Protector and his very young son, they were all girls.

“Are all these your daughters?”

“Not by blood, your majesty. It is one of my duties as Protector to take in girls who have no families, or have been abandoned by them. They become my daughters until they either find husbands or give vows to one of the goddesses to remain virgins.”

“And what about boys?”

“There is another citadel a day’s travel southward that does the same for boys that we do for girls”

After the king had dismissed them, he went to the oracle and came back and said to me “The hero we seek is disguised as one of the daughters of the Protector.”

“And the oracle is sure of this?”

“Yes. I might have doubted, but my experience with watching you fool some of my guests tells me that it is certainly possible.”

“How will you learn which one it is?”

He smiled.

“I have an idea …”

The next morning he sent his men out to find presents for the family of the Protector. Soon, they had returned with dresses and shoes and jewelery fit for the most noble of women.

I found myself staring at the finery with much sadness. I had rather enjoyed my “performances” dressed in such clothes for the king’s guests, but on this mission I was made to look as much like a man as was possible, for we were expecting to be in battle.

Then the king brought out a most unusual set of gifts.

“I had these prepared to give to the hero when we found him”

It was a complete set of armour, equal or even better than the kings own, with a shield, and sword, all of the best make. The king then placed the set in the piles of clothing and such that were to be presented to the children of the Protector.

He summoned the Protector and his family, and told them that each of his daughters could pick a gift from the pile as their own. Girl after girl helped themselves to dresses, shoes and accessories. Then one girl stepped forward, and without hesitating, picked the armour.

At that, the king stood up, and said “You are the hero we have been looking for. Come with us, and help us achieve victory, and receive glory thereby.”

“Father, may I go?” she said to the Protector.

“Go. And have my blessings. May you succeed in all you do, my daughter.”

That evening there was a great feast of celebration, but I had little joy in my heart. The king said to me “I know when you are sad, my servant, and I believe I know why. But I want to hear you say it.”

I burst into tears, and said “That hero is a fool! She, he, had the best of lives, and I would give all the wealth in the world to be a daughter of the Protector, and yet she, he will give it up to act like a MAN.”

“Do you truly desire to be the daughter of the Protector?” the king said gently.

“Yes, my king. With all my heart. But I am yours, and I will serve you as best as I am able.”

“Then it will be so.” he said, and my heart leaped within me.

He summoned the Protector once more, and said “I am off to war, and I am taking your one daughter with me. To repay you for that, I am giving you my servant to take her place. I give you my sternest command, that you treat him as one of your daughters until and unless he chooses otherwise. He has served me well, and this is his wish”

The Protector said “As you command, my king.” he turned to me and stated, “The life of a woman is not an easy one, not even for the daughters of a Protector. But I give you my word that you will be treated no less than any of my other daughters, if that is in fact what you wish.”

“I thank you, my lord. I give you my word that I will not disappoint you nor bring shame to your house, but will always act as your daughter.”

“Then you may come into my house and be under my protection, daughter.”

I fell to my knees and kissed the feet of the king. “How can I possibly show my gratitude, my king?”

“Live well, and fulfill your word. And pray to the goddesses that I may succeed in this war, and return safely.”
“I will pray daily, my king, that you be guarded over, and be rewarded for your kindness to me.”

The protector took my hand, and asked “What is your name, daughter?”

“I have been called Abraxes, my lord Protector”

“Seems the wrong type of name for a daughter in my house. As your father, I have the right to name you, and I choose to call Ecorda. For you have been given to us as a gift, and I foresee that you will be even more of a gift in times to come.”

“I am honoured, my lord, but you say you foresee. Do you have the gift of the oracle?”

“Sometimes the goddesses of our people permit me to see.”

“Then I will do all I can to earn the name.”

Soon, it was time for the king to go, and I said my goodbyes and went into the citadel to begin my new life. At first, the other daughters were leery of me, but as they watched me become more confident and secure in my role, and it was clear I was not mocking them, they accepted me as a sister.

Several years past, and things had settled into a routine. The only sadness I felt was when one of my sisters got married, for even though I was happy for them, I felt I would never have any such companionship in my life. For, what man would want one such as I, except to use and leave behind? Who would ever love someone like me?

So it was that I was completely taken by surprise when the heir to the Protector asked for my hand. He told me he had fallen in love with me, almost from the day I entered the citadel, and he had finally consulted his father as what he should do.

Apparently, his father laughed, and said “What you would have done if she was any other woman, son! Marry the girl!”

So I became his bride, and my joy knew no bounds, and at our ceremony, my new husband said, “My father called you Ecdora, and as he foresaw that that day, you have become a gift in our house. For I can think of no other way to describe you make me feel on this day”

As for me, I felt the same of him.

And more.

We found one of the handmaids to act as my surrogate for producing children, and I was blessed to discover that she was not only doing it because she was commanded, but because she had grown fond of me.

When she became pregnant, I sat and talked with her for hours on end on what it felt like, and although we each had cause to feel envy of the other, me because no life would ever come from me, and her for giving up the child and hearing her child calling me mother, we could neither of us feel anything but happiness for the other instead.

And now, you know the truth. My husband and I lived have many years in bliss, and in his turn he became the Protector of the citadel, and I have lived to see my grandchildren, but at last I have come to the end of my life.

My husband is now gone, and I am ready to part from this world in peace. There are many stories among our people as to what happens to us after we die, but no matter the truth I can only be grateful for everything I have been given.

I am tired now, and I believe I am able to write no more, so I will take my rest, and pray you who read this think well of me.

May the gods and goddesses who blest me bless you all.

Ecdora.

I, the son of this great woman, having found this letter among my mother‘s things after her passing, can only add a few words for my children to read.

Although not a woman born, she fulfilled the duties of wife, mother, and Lady of the house better than most who had what she lacked, and what greater praise could I give her than that?

I pray to all the gods and goddesses of our people that wherever her spirit may be, she is now complete in her womanhood, and is being rewarded for all she did here.

I miss her already.