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That afternoon was a special one. Junia showed me their treasures. With one exception, it was the most wonderful sight I ever saw.
In the archive were row upon row of papyri. `
“Those,” she said, handing me one, “are the “History of the Amazons,” we don’t know if the writing is that of Calliope herself, or one of her scribes, but they are at least four hundred years old and stretch our knowledge back even further.”
Unrolling one carefully, I examined it. The writing was neat and regular. The Greek was far more sophisticated than the common Greek I knew. It was clear that this had been a high civilisation. Yet all that remained of it were these rolls and some ruins. Would that become true of the glory that was Rome? I suddenly felt a sense of anguish.
What, I wondered, was the point of it all?
These people had developed a civilisation replete with philosophy, mathematics, and culture, and yet all had gone, all to dust save these few artefacts.
“These,” Junia said, pointing to a set of codices, “are our copies of the history, thanks to you we have been able to replace the final volume. And these,” she said with reverence, “are the letters of the Apostle Junia. We have copies for Alexandria, and would like you to take them with you. Hypatia will give you the long-lost letters of Phoebe and we can copy those.”
“But” I ventured, “why have they been lost? Why don’t I know about them? What went wrong?”
Mother Junia’s usually bright eyes clouded with pain and sorrow.
“You can read the story in Junia’s letters, though we hope Phoebe’s will throw more light upon the details.”
She explained that Mary’s Gospel matched in all respects, those of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John, but that the problem seemed to have originated with Paul.
“We know that Paul warned the Corinthians about women preaching and teaching. It seems from what Junia says, that he had a problem with Phoebe and generalised from it. Mary fled to Marseilles to escape persecution and took with her the Shroud, which created bad blood with Peter, who claimed he should be its keeper.”
“You are saying that from the beginning, men did not like women taking a lead in the Church?”
“That, and more,” Junia replied. “Paul’s letters were used to deny women a voice, and around the time of Peter and Paul’s executions, women were blamed for provoking the Romans.”
“I see,” I reflected sadly, “another case of ‘the woman tempted me?'”
“Quite so,” Junia smiled. “I see you know your Scripture.”
“I have a good memory, and my priest was a learned man who had some codices which he taught me to read.”
“You are an interesting woman, Carwen. I think you and Hypatia might just get on.”
She explained to me that Hypatia was a brilliant mathematician who had her own school of followers in Alexandria. By common consent she was a brilliant teacher and one of the greatest minds of her generation. Though not a Christian, she took an interest in the Junian Church and wanted to help us.
I was in a daze. All of this made sense. The Jesus I met in the Bible was love, and even to my untutored mind, it was clear he had female disciples. It all made sense now. This Church was his church.
“If I can help, Junia, I will go.”
Junia thanked me, and it was settled.
“Hypatia has the full secret of Greek fire. What your friend, Merlin, is being given by those to whom he is talking is only half of it.”
Somehow, she not only knew about Merlin, but she also knew what his mission was. Junia could see I was puzzled.
“We survive, little one, by knowing what is going on here. Will you want to take your friends with you?”
I looked at her.
“How dangerous is my mission?”
“I don’t mind putting myself in harm’s way, but I won’t risk others.”
“Let us go back to the main room. I need to brief you.”
One of the women brought us some wine and fruit.
Junia explained that Alexandria was a very dangerous place for “us”.
“The new patriarch, Kirill, is untested. He is the nephew of the last patriarch, and he is anxious to prove himself. He is in the middle of a power-struggle with the Romans over whether the Church is subject to Roman law. He is asserting the right of the Church to deal with what it considers “heresy” in his way, and he considers Hypatia a “heretic” and a dangerous threat.”
“So, not one of Büyükesat Escort nature’s conciliators?”
“He’s a serious threat, Carwen. He has a militia of monks who have been roughing up his enemies, and if he knew what you were taking to Hypatia, and what you are bringing back here, your life would be in danger. If you want to back out, it is not too late.”
“If she is going, I am going with her!”
I turned to see Stumpy, who must have come in while Junia was talking.
“There is no way, Carwen, that I am not going – unless you aren’t. I’m going because I want to, you are not making me, but you can’t make me not go, either.”
“And me too,” chipped in Bella.
I was deeply moved. They must both have heard what Junia had just told me, and yet they were willing to put their lives on the line.
“Thank you! I’d appreciate that – and,” I said to Junia, “I am going.”
She smiled at me, and them.
“In women like you, the spirit of the Amazons lives. The thanks are all on my side.”
For a moment we stood, together, Sisters all. We would do it – or we would die in the attempt. We would not live in the shadows forever.
Junia thanked us all.
“In the morning Demeter will take you back to your friend, but for now, Sisters, rest!”
Once we were alone, I thanked Stumpy and Bella.
“I am not sure I could have gone if you had not said,” I began.
“You’d have gone. They’d have killed you. Bella and I would never have forgiven ourselves.”
That was all I could say, as there was a catch in my throat where I was holding back tears. No one had ever done that for me – put themselves in danger’s way. I was fearful for them, but they were right, no one had the right to tell them not to be brave. The cause was worth it. It was bigger than all of us. There, in that place, I felt as though the spirit of Calliope, the last of the Amazons, was smiling down on us. I promised her we would try to make sure that, to use her words, “women would rise again.”
As we prepared for bed, Stumpy seemed suddenly (and strangely for her). shy. I could see her unease and sought to defuse what seemed to be some tension growing between her and her lover, Bella.
“What is it, darling?” I asked.
Bella was, if not actually pouting, not best pleased.
“Oh she won’t admit, but she isn’t intending to spend the night here with me,”
Stumpy had that embarrassed look which only comes to a woman who has been caught out in unfaithfulness.
“It’s not that,” she began.
“Oh yes, it is, you want that Amazon, not your big-tittied Bella!”
Of course, I thought, cursing myself for my negligence. Bella was jealous.
“Well,” I intervened, “if that is true, for tonight, that would mean that I could have you, Bella big tits!”
Bella turned and positively beamed at me.
“Ooh, there is that!”
Stumpy smiled and winked at me.
“See,” said Bella, I have my own lover tonight, so go to your muscle-bound Amazon. I will make love with Carwen.”
Saying that, Bella came over and kissed me, her big tits squashing against me. I felt her nipples harden – as did my own.
Stumpy was grinning from ear to ear.
“Right girls, I will see you in the morning.”
“Do you really want me, Carwen?”
Bella’s big dark eyes looked at me with longing.
She was not so much taller than me that I had to get on tip toe, so with a little stretch, I could kiss her full on her lips; I did so.
Her fuller figure seemed to melt into mine, and I felt the hard nubs of her nipples press into me. I gripped her bottom, sliding under her tunic to grip her. She gave a low, throaty moan. As I pushed her back onto the couch, she fell softly, opening her legs, those big tits breaking free and opening out for me. Her softness made me ache.
Pulling my own tunic off, I got between her thighs and lay on her soft body, our nipples rubbing as they squashed together. I kissed her again, my tongue pushing in as she opened her mouth to allow me to possess her. My hand reached between her legs; she was soaking.
I looked into her eyes.
“Take me, Carwen, I need fucking, take meeeee!”
At that moment there was nothing I wanted more.
Three fingers curled in and upwards, feeling her soft gooey mess part as she moaned.
“Yes, like that, yes, Beşevler Escort yes!”
Slowly at first, but then with greater firmness, I pushed in and out, kissing her passionately. My tongue and fingers worked in combination. Her legs gripped me. I could feel her special place, and as I touched her there, she squealed loudly.
“Yes, yes, oh fuck, Carwen, please, please fuck me so hard!”
I was so aroused and hot that I had no trouble obliging her, my fingers making her pussy squelch. Moving down her body, I licked and bit her neck before concentrating on her breasts. As I sucked and bit her nipples, she thrust herself even harder against my hand, moaning incoherently. Sensing what she needed, I bit harder and felt her tense, before my hand was coated in her cream as she came. It felt like lying on an earthquake as her whole body went into spasms, her pussy gripping my fingers tight
I rode the wave, her breast pressing into me, her soft body undulating with the aftermath of her orgasm. My fingers stayed where they were, to her evident pleasure as she kept squeezing them.
I looked up at her face, transformed with satiated lust.
“Where did you learn that, darling?” She whispered, huskily.
“You brought it out of me,” I said, truthfully.
In truth I could only go with what I felt through whatever link I had with my partner. I’d have made a bad whore, as I needed to feel a connection to function. Bella had forged one with her desire.
“Now you,” she said.
I was so hot and wet that I was never going to say no to her.
She moved so she was on top of me and slid down me, kissing my aching nipples and bringing some relief. Her hand cupped my pussy. Instinctively, I pressed against it, offering some relief to my aching clit.
Bella knew how to please a woman.
Softly moving her hand, pressing in just the right spot, she proceeded to tease my nipples. Just because I am small there does not mean I am insensitive, quite the opposite. Bella seemed to know this, and she concentrated on pleasing me. She would pull out each nipple in rotation with her lips, teasing it with her tongue before pressing it between her lips.
I luxuriated in her attention, feeling the pressure building
Then, on a sudden, she went down and sucked my clit. As she did so I could hold back no longer, I gripped her head and came hard, shuddering. Lost in the bliss, I just held her there.
When I let go, she looked up, her face red and wet and smiling.
“How was that?”
“Wonderful,” I responded enthusiastically.
Bella was a tender and thoughtful lover. She needed a lead, but once she had one, she would take you to a far horizon of pleasure. That night was special.
I woke in the darkness. I looked at Bella, who was sleeping by my side.
What, I wondered, would it be like to be able to have a lover, a wife if you would? There was such an arrangement for men with women, but why should women not marry? I laughed at myself. Bella had touched me in ways beyond the purely physical. It was, I decided quite irrelevant whether you were male or female, the search for love and a partner were the same. I snuggled into her. If only for one night, I would, I thought, know what that might feel like.
Bella was sweetness itself when she woke, kissing me gently on waking.
“Thank you, Carwen. I have not often had what you gave me.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I love Stumpy to bits, but there was something in the way you treated me that was different. It was like we connected.”
I smiled, agreeing.
We kissed again before dressing.
As we entered the dining area, we saw a grinning Stumpy sitting with Ariadne. They looked tired but happy.
“Enjoy yourself, Bella, darling?” Stumpy asked.
“Oh I did, did you?”
Ariadne blushed, something I had never expected to see from such an Amazon. It was plain they, too, had connected. There was something about this last remnant of Amazonia on Lesbos which seemed fertile to female love.
Then came the preparation.
Junia and I discussed what would come next.
We waited while Junia’s helpers gave us copies of the Letters of Junia.
“Someone will meet you at Alexandria and help you get to Hypatia,” she said, as she bade us farewell, “and if you can get the Phoebe letters back here Cebeci Escort for copying, that would be a huge gain for us. But please, take care, and if it looks too dangerous, don’t do it!”
I sensed a real fear in her voice.
“The world is changing again, Carwen. None of us knows what will come out of this chaos, but if women like you are lost to us, then that is a loss to us all and our cause.”
We said a tearful farewell, buoyed up only by the promise that we should return.
Demeter guided us back to town, which we reached before noon. No sooner were we back at the inn than Merlin descended on us.
“I have it, I have it! Now we can return to Britannia.”
“Will you tell him, or will I?” Stumpy said.
“Have your tried it?” I asked him.
“Try it first.”
Clearly sceptical, Merlin had to hand what he needed, and we retired to the woods for the experiment.
He mixed the ingredients and then, standing back, threw a lighted taper into the bowl. There was a brief instant of illumination – then nothing.
I was not sure what had annoyed the old man most, the failure of the experiment, or the fact I had been right.
I told him what Junia had told me.
“We go to Alexandria later,” I said, “Junia has booked us a berth on one of the merchant ships.”
“Am I expected to believe that some woman in Alexandria can supply what the commander here could not?”
His tone dripped with sarcasm and disbelief.
“Believe it or not,” I said, “but we go this afternoon.”
Merlin fulminated, calling several dozen curses down on the Governor’s head. I was not sure whether what annoyed him most was the Governor’s lie, or my being right. At any rate, grumpily, he agreed we should go to Alexandria.
“Are they coming?”
He glared at Stumpy and Bella.
“Yes, we shall need assistance.”
“You say you have an introduction to this female, this Hypatia?”
I reiterated what I had said earlier. It was as though he could not credit it. I, a mere woman, had access to information denied to him.
His grumpy mood continued all the way to the harbour. Stumpy grinned at me.
We found the ship, and the captain confirmed we had berths.
With a fair wind, we were promised that we would be in Alexandria in two days.
Yet again, the Shroud protected me from my habitual seasickness, and I was beginning almost to enjoy sailing.
Inevitably, and as ever, being on a ship with sailors led to trouble. I was invisible to them, but Bella, as ever, was not. It only stopped when Stumpy pinned a particularly persistent man to the mast and asked if he wanted to “sing an octave higher.” I smiled at her. We’d been right to come together. Much as I wanted to get this done, I was beginning to realise that I needed help, proper help, not the sort of exploitation Merlin offered. We had a cause, one bigger than any of us. It was folly to suppose I could do this by myself.
As we approached Alexandra on the second day, I pondered our situation.
Somehow, I was, we were, linked to that ancient account by the “Last of the Amazons.” I even knew her name now, Calliope. The spirit she had embodied had survived, and I had seen its inheritors – no, I WAS one of those. There was a whole narrative untold about women and the church. I had known in my bones that something was not right in what we had been taught.
I had pondered the fact that it was the women who were at the foot of the Cross; who had funded Jesus and his followers; who had shown real love for him, and understanding; and it had been a woman who had first seen the Risen Lord. Even Paul, while fulminating about women preaching, had mentioned collaborators, Junia, Phoebe, Thecla, and others. And yet we were told the Church was run by men, that was the way it was meant to be. Now came a chance to put that right. But it would not be one woman who would do that.
I smiled as I looked across at Bella and Stumpy. Sisters we were, and would remain.
Then it happened. There was a cry of “land ho!”
I had never seen the like, nor ever would again.
Even miles out, the great Pharos lighthouse could be seen. It must have been nearly four hundred feet high. Never had I even imagined such a thing. We all three stood in awe as it grew closer and closer.
I never tired of seeing it. Hypatia told me it was one of the “wonders of the world,” which was easy to believe.
Even Merlin was impressed, which was a rare event.
The ship docked and we grabbed our things.
Disembarking, I looked around and saw a tall woman looking at us. She came closer.
“Are you Carwen?”
“I am, and this is Stumpy, Bella and Merlin.”
“I am Charmion, and I have come to take you to Hypatia.”
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