Disclaimer: This is a retelling of one of the most famous Greek Myths of all time albeit with my own twists and turns, partially inspired by some of the most iconic characters in Marvel Comic Books' history, Matt Murdock AKA Daredevil and King T'Challa of Wakanda AKA Black Panther. You'll be surprised by my references, I promise you that.
Also in this chapter, there will be some nudity and innuendo. You have been warned.
Chapter Four: The Warrior-Princess of Aethiopia
While Perseus, Bubo and Pegasus had just discovered the location of Medusa, not too far away was the mysterious Dark Continent and birthplace of mankind; Africa. Not much was known about this land to any Ancient Greek except for the Empire of Egypt, the most powerful and influential of them all, the Numidian lands, the Libyans and the growing Phoenician nation of Carthage. Yet what laid beyond those lands, no Greek had ever seen before.
Beyond the borders of the Kingdom of Egypt where the ruthless Pharaoh Seti I was building his domain upon the backs of his many thousand Hebrew slaves, dwelt another great African Kingdom; one that kept its power, its culture and its ways of life a secret from the outside world. From the lands of Kush, or Nubia, in the Sudanese-Egyptian border to the Swahili coast and the vast jungles of the Congo, with Tanzania being its border, this empire was practically the first multicultural African kingdom; its name was Aethiopia which would later be renamed Ethiopia.
Secretive by nature and highly distrustful of many outsiders, these people were a nation of warriors who valued courage and honor upon the battlefield. They also incorporated and adapted the weapons, religions and customs of those whom they had either conquered or assimilated into their society. Yet each province of the Aethiopian Empire ruled itself independently, something that was yet unheard of in the ancient world and would not happen again until the rise of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia.
They even shared a common official language throughout the Empire. While Meroitic, Nubian and Egyptian were among the shared languages spoke across the realm, Swahili or Kingozi was the lingua franca of the empire. As for the capital of this African realm, it was the port city of Joppa near what would one day be called the Red Sea.
It was a bustling trading city, with marketplaces as far as the eye could see and temples to the many gods that they worshipped, especially the Olympians. While not all cities and settlements within Aethiopia's borders were alike, they all shared the same currency and their connection throughout the empire was through a 'pony express'.
The Aethiopian army was rather unusual for its time. Unlike Egypt and many of the other Middle-Eastern neighbor kingdoms, whose armies were mainly charioteer, foot archer and infantry based and unlike Assyria, whose main strength was cavalry, the Aethiopian army was strong in chariots, archers, lightly armored but well armed infantry and cavalry. This rare combination of tactics was a success against constant invasion from Egypt, who often sought to expand their influence.
In comparison to the Egyptian army, who were well armored with leather and overlapping scales of bronze, the Aethiopian army had limited access to armor, but they made up for it with speed, aggression, maneuverability, knowledge of the terrain and technology. Whereas the Egyptians fought with bronze or early iron weapons, the Aethiopians had a brand new technology at their arsenal; steel. A combination of both iron and carbon, steel weapons were stronger and more durable than the weapons the Egyptians had.
Most Aethiopian warriors fought nearly naked with only a leather, grass or even animal skin loincloth around their waists, barely covering their genitals and their shields were mainly made of wicker or even cowhide, the most popular. Only the wealthiest or even the most accomplished of warriors could afford heavier armor and stronger shields. The weapons that the peoples of the Empire used varied, depending on which region they came from and which people used them.
However the weapons they used, whether they were made of wood, iron or steel, were among the most exotic, innovative and sometimes sadistic weaponry imaginable. They even copied or rather innovated weaponry from Egypt, including the khopesh, which was popular among among the bravest of warriors, the chariot and the composite bow.
Among the newest weapons that they also developed, and also another popular weapon, was a stabbing spear with a long broad blade like that of a dagger and a shortened shaft of about four feet complete with a knob grip at the back to help pull out if it ever got stuck. It was known throughout the Empire as an assegai spear, but many centuries later it would be picked up by the Zulu nation and their King Shaka who would rename it as iklwa, for the sucking sound it made when it was stabbed into the body and when it was pulled out.
The Aethiopians even had a way of settling disputes through trials by ritual combat. Now what weapons they used differed from people to people but the most humane or least lethal trial, and also the most common, was to substitute their weapons and shields with a carved club in the right hand and a small stick complete with a small cowhide shield in the left hand to ward off blows. This was called 'stick-fighting', but it was more than just a way to settle disputes, it was also a training exercise and would one day become a modern martial art sport.
You could hit your opponent anywhere and anytime, stabbing was forbidden and the goal was also simple; beat back your opponent until they backed down or until they bled. Fighters often broke bones or shattered teeth, but it was also an effective way to gauge one's speed, agility and instincts.
The power of the blows came not from the arm, but rather from the wrist. Blows were normally aimed for the head or the knees. The knees because they were easy to break, and the head because the blood vessels there were close to the skin and bled the easiest.
As soon as blood flowed, the duel was over, the winner would tend to the loser and all bad blood was forgotten. If an opponent was killed, there was no charge as long as the rules were observed.
Yet, like the Greek city-states and Europe to the north, Aethiopia was pretty much a male-dominated society. Women were expected to be subservient to men, they had little to no rights whatsoever unlike their northern Egyptian neighbors, were excluded from fighting alongside the men, and were hardly seen more as property value. One woman however, or rather a teenage girl who was Perseus's age, was determined to change all of that; a Princess. Her name was Andromeda.
She was the youngest child and only daughter, sometimes even considered the favorite child, of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia. Blessed with a rare beauty that was uncommon among her people, everyone in the Empire believed that she was practically a gift from the Gods.
Her skin tone was medium brown, a trait she shared with her mother Cassiopeia who was a Hutu-Tutsi royal from the province of what would one day be called Rwanda, and her lengthy hair was as dark as anyone's in the Empire, but that was not what made her stand out from the rest of the crowd.
No, Andromeda's most defining feature was her eyes; her bright blue eyes, a rare gift among her people. She had come into puberty early as a child so her curves had already been developed and yet in spite of her beauty, she remained ever humble.
As a Princess, she was expected to wear more modest clothing that covered most of her body, but that was not who Andromeda was. She preferred to wear a skimpy grass bra that barely covered her breasts and a skimpy grass loincloth that barely covered her backside and vaginal area. She even preferred being barefooted.
She did not care what people thought about her or her 'scandalous' clothing, because had she been any other man's daughter Andromeda would have been punished accordingly. However, as she was King Cepheus's daughter and his pride and joy, Andromeda had her own sense of freedom and her greatest dream was to be the finest warrior in all of Aethiopia.
On this particular day Andromeda had ridden her horse to the training barracks, where all the other warriors including her own father, King Cepheus, were all out training for another Egyptian invasion. Among those who were training were her two older brothers, Idris and Djimon.
Now Idris, the oldest brother, was a giant of a man more than six feet tall. His skin was dark brown, his long hair was fashioned into dreadlocks and he sported a short beard, his body was muscular, his eyes were a piercing dark brown, he was clad in a bright green warrior's cloak and in his hand he carried an Egyptian style battle axe that was just as big as he was.
While Idris may have led the armies of the Empire in his father's name from the frontlines, he was not the greatest warrior in Aethiopia. No, that honor belonged to another.
Djimon the middle child and younger brother was bald as the King, shared the same skin and eyes of his brother, yet had a clean shaven face, and wore a bright blue robe. He was most comfortable fighting from a distance with either a sling, a throwing spear or even a bow and arrow yet was not afraid to use a weapon in close quarters combat. He used a mace like club that was made entirely of hardened wood in his right hand and a sword like knife in his left.
In the center of the barracks, clad in purple with a beaded and jeweled crown upon his head, dark-skinned, and fully bearded, with a longsword in his hand parrying the blows of his soldier's weapons was Cepheus, the King of Aethiopia, Emperor of the Congo and Sovereign of the Serengeti.
Andromeda had always loved to see how the warriors in her father's army fought, and she often learned by watching them and imitating their every move. She would often pluck an assegai from Kagame the blacksmith and an ox-hide shield and practice using these weapons. Just as she was about to head over and sneak one of the assegai, she failed to notice Idris watching her and he placed his hand on her shoulder.
"Andromeda, what are you doing here, little sister?" Idris asked in a tone that was both amused and concerned. "Why do you think I'm here, Idris? I am not a desert flower to be kept in the garden." Andromeda said as she shook off her brother's arm. "I'm aware of that, as are Djimon and Father...the whole Empire knows that. You are no black mamba either. Our people are not ready to accept a Princess as a warrior. You know that, yet you still persist in wanting to fight alongside us." Idris said.
"Idris, it has always been my dream to prove myself as more than just a Princess. I can't just stay in the palace and let some man try to win my hand in marriage. That is not who I am. I won't have the law of our land dictate how I am supposed to live my life, Brother." Andromeda said in determination before she noticed the grin on Idris's face.
"That is exactly what I wanted to hear, Sister. You have a warrior's spirit. The persistence of a leopardess, the heart of a lioness and the fearlessness of a mamba. I suppose as your brother and future King, I can make an exception for you." Idris said with a nod as Andromeda smiled.
"Thank you, Brother." Andromeda said as Idris led her to Kagame.
Now Kagame was once a great warrior in the Aethiopian Army, that was until he had his left leg cut open by a khopesh. He was able to heal, but he could never run again after that wound. What he lacked now as a warrior, he made up for in his skills in making weapons for the King and his army.
The overweight, over-worked, yet ever grateful blacksmith was always eager to make weapons for the soldiers, particularly for the Royal Family. "Kagame. My sister Andromeda needs an assegai and a shield. Can you do that?" Idris asked of the blacksmith who nodded. "Anything for my King and his family, Prince Idris. I have both a spear and shield worthy for a Warrior Princess."
Kagame then gave Andromeda a shield made from both zebra and oxhide leather that was just right for her and an assegai spear with the words 'Maliki Jabari', Swahili for 'Warrior Princess', inscribed upon the shaft. Smiling at her weapon and shield with pride, Andromeda gratefully bowed her head and said in Swahili, "Asante, Kagame."
"Karibu, Maliki Andromeda." Kagame replied back in Swahili with a smile. "Come now, Sister. Your training begins." Idris said as he led Andromeda to the training grounds. The warriors there nearly batted an eye, even Djimon, as Andromeda readied her shield and spear and Idris readied his battle axe. "Ready?"
"I am ready, Brother." Andromeda said in determination as Idris swung his axe at her, only for Andromeda to duck and dodge the axe. Then as Idris swung his axe again, Andromeda used her shield to block and push the axe aside, before she used her spear to thrust at Idris.
Fortunately Idris noticed the blade and used his axe to parry the blade. "Come now, Andromeda. You must not let Idris dominate you in training." Djimon cried out as Cepheus and the other warriors watched in anticipation. Whether they wanted to see Idris beat Andromeda, or to see if Andromeda was as good a warrior as any man in the Empire, it did not matter. What mattered to them was some good entertainment.
As Idris swung his axe on her again, Andromeda used her shield yet again to block him, only this time as he brought it down he cleaved the shield in two. Fortunately he did not hit her left arm and she discarded the shield, grasping the spear in both hands. The assegai was more than just a thrusting spear, it could also be used for slashing like any spear.
Feeling confident she thrusted her spear at her brother, who blocked the weapon with his axe and chuckled. "You've been watching me fight haven't you, little sister? You are a natural."
"I could say the same for you, Idris. If only Phineus could appreciate my skills as a warrior and as a woman like you do." Andromeda grinned as she tried a slashing attack only for Idris to block her blow. "Impressive." Idris said.
Then they sparred as the shafts of their weapons clashed like quarterstaves, and it continued for what seemed like two minutes until Andromeda used her bare feet to trip Idris down to the ground with her spear pointed to his face. "Do you yield?" She asked with a smirk as Idris laughed with delight. "Of course, Sister."
Andromeda then reached her hand and got Idris up as the warriors, even Djimon, cheered at Andromeda's good sportsman--or woman--ship and Cepheus clapped his hands. "That was a good display of skills and warrior conduct, Andromeda. I am proud to call you my daughter." Cepheus said with a proud look on his face.
"Asante, Baba. I was hoping to hear that from you and--." Andromeda said before a loud procession of harsh voices was heard calling out, "Niam-Niam! Niam-Niam! Niam-Niam! Niam-Niam! Niam-Niam!"
The warriors and even the Royal Family turned to see that coming from the north were the most feared tribe in the entire Empire, the Azande people which was plural for Zande. The word Azande meant 'The people who possess much land', and referred to their history as conquerors. Their homeland stretched from the Southern Sudan to the jungles of the Congo and while they were never conquered by the Aethiopian Empire, they considered themselves as the Empire's defenders and the bane of the Egyptians. They had in a sense assimilated themselves into Cepheus's kingdom.
The Azande warriors were known for their use of brute force and furious skill with their weapons, which were considered in the eyes of any other citizen in the Empire the most sadistic tools of war ever created. Azande warriors had a 'take no prisoners' approach when it came to warfare and a grisly way to wage war. They were fond of their boto bows and pima arrows that were dipped in a red powder made from a forest creeper which they called 'benge'.
As for their close-combat weapons, they were shaped for maximum damage and came in the form of a barbed spear known as a makrigga, a sickle-shaped long knife known as a makraka, a needle point leaf shaped short sword and long sickle-shaped swords with tapered points and blades of different shapes. For defense they used wicker kube shields, but perhaps their most famous weapon invoked both pain and eroticism; the kpinga throwing knife.
Also called the hunga munga, this weapon was truly exotic even to the eyes of Cepheus' people. It may have been a knife, but it was not like any other knife due to the fact that it had three different shaped blades projecting at different angles for maximum damage. Many of these knives had a bottom barb that was shaped like a man's genitals, a sign of masculinity.
The Azande knew how to use psychology in warfare, particularly fear to their advantage. They loved to collect the heads of the enemies they killed and some Zande warriors filed their teeth to make their enemies think that they could eat people. Such strategies caused the Zande warriors to nicknamed 'Niam-Niam' which meant 'great eaters'. It was a derogatory term of course, and still is today, but the Azande warriors used that term as their war cry to scare their opponents.
Even hearing them cry out 'Niam-Niam' was enough to give Cepheus's warriors pause as a war band of fifty Azande warriors led by a heavily armored warrior astride what seemed like the most sadistic looking scythed chariot anyone had ever seen pulled by two giant black steeds.
This warrior was clad in armor that seemed like a mixture of hardened leather and over lapping scales of iron, carried a long steel bladed Egyptian khopesh sword with a peculiar hand guard shaped like snake heads at each side and a leopard's head for a pommel sheathed to his back, a quiver of arrows at his right hip, in his right hand he carried a makrigga spear and in his left hand was an Egyptian composite bow.
He was a light brown skinned man in his early to mid-twenties with short black hair that was shaped into dreadlocks which had been smoothed to look like a lion's mane, a light but impressive muscular scarred body, a small but thick mustache and a thick beard under his chin. On his neck he carried a necklace adorned with lion claws, particularly lions that he himself killed.
As for his chariot, it was made of the finest material and was Egyptian in design, but mounted to each side was a makraka curved knife.
This young man was Prince Phineus, eldest son of Adewale the Azande King and the greatest warrior within the Empire, also the most sadistic. Andromeda glared at the chariot rider, for Phineus was her most persistent suitor and the most aggressive. From far away she could smell rotting flesh and could hardly hold down her food. All the decapitated heads the Azande troops had brought back were permeating the air with a stench most foul. It was not the only thing she smelled that was rotten in the state of Aethiopia.
As Phineus pulled the reins of his horses, causing the chariot to halt, he jumped off his vehicle and pounded his chest with his right hand in pride, "Habari, Mflame wangu. Great King Cepheus. My warriors and I have returned from another successful skirmish with the Egyptians. My men had collected many heads, but I also have captured their commander. He said he wanted to speak with you." Phineus said as he pulled out a bound prisoner from his chariot.
This prisoner had lightly tanned skin, curly black hair, light brown eyes, a distinctive aquiline nose, a short beard around his face, and he was clad in Egyptian battle armor. He had been beaten, abused and there was blood dripping from his nose and around his left eye which was incredibly blackened. He did his best to look up at Cepheus and he spoke softly, "Habari, King Cepheus."
"Ah, so you speak our language. That is good. What is your name and why do you wish to me?" Cepheus asked as the figure struggled to stand up and when he did, he breathed heavily while hanging his head low.
After catching his breath, the man slowly raised his head and answered, "I am Moses son of Pharaoh Seti, the divine ruler of Egypt, he who is Horus reborn and will be Osiris in the afterlife, ordained by the Light of Ra." The warriors were impressed. This prisoner was Prince Moses, the favored child of Pharaoh Seti? He was considered one of the greatest warriors the Egyptians had, yet he looked nothing like a typical Egyptian Prince. Even Andromeda had heard of him.
"Welcome, Prince Moses, even if it is under unusual circumstances." Andromeda said as she bowed her head in respect and Moses smiled, while Phineus frowned in contempt.
"And just what makes you think you can speak among warriors and men, Andromeda? It's bad enough that you insist on defying the traditions of our people, now you stoop to fraternizing with the son of our hated enemy? I'd choose my allegiances carefully, if I were you." Phineus warned as he walked towards her with jealousy in his voice.
Andromeda glared back in disgust, "Unlike you, Phineus, I observe the rules of war as do most of our warriors. I might be a woman and considered inferior to you, but I am still the daughter of King Cepheus and I am still your superior. I would suggest that you remember that."
Phineus simply chortled in amusement, "Is that supposed to scare me, Andromeda? If it is, you just failed. I am an Azande warrior, and I fear no one, not even you. You also forget that sooner or later, you have to marry. There aren't that many suitors left in the Empire for you and I'm a Prince. We could make each other happy."
As he said those words, he came too close for comfort to Andromeda's face with a lustful grin on his own face and his hand was on her one of her butt cheeks. Andromeda felt violated and angry in every sense of the word as she was tempted to stab her spear into his gut. Killing a warrior of the Empire was considered illegal without just cause and she had to restrain herself.
"Consider carefully, Princess. Because one day, your father and brothers may not be here to protect you." Phineus warned as he returned to his chariot and cried out. "NIAM-NIAM!"
Then his warriors cried out 'Niam-Niam' in reply as they marched and rode away from the barracks while Andromeda shook her head. "The nerve of that brute. How dare he touch me like that!" She said in disgust as Cepheus placed his arm on her shoulder.
"Andromeda, my daughter. Sometimes we must do things that we are not proud of. I know that you do not love him, yet your mother still insists that he is the one that you should marry. As for you Prince Moses, as payment for the indignity that you have suffered, I offer you a place to stay for the night. You will be well-fed, cleaned up and your wounds shall be attended." Cepheus said to both Andromeda and Moses.
"Thank you, Your Majesty. And thank you, Princess Andromeda, for defending me and behaving as a warrior should." Moses said grateful to both the King and Princess.
Andromeda was impressed with Moses's manners and nodded in respect. "You're welcome, Prince Moses. What do you intend to do after tonight?" She asked.
Moses sighed and spoke sadly, "I will need to return to my father and report our loss. However, I know full well that your people would rather see me dead than tell any outsider of what I've seen. So I'll leave the first thing in the morning. And I do appreciate the hospitality, but I cannot stay longer than tonight. I am certain that one day we will meet again. In this life or the next."
Later that evening at the royal palace, a great feast was being held. It was more of a celebratory feast in Phineus's honor, which offended both Andromeda and Moses. Yet they had to be polite and let the feasting go on, for Phineus was well-respected by the nobles of the Empire and he was also admired by many of the common ladies.
In the Empire, the greatest of warriors were always celebrated as heroes and paragons of their societies. Phineus was such a man, for his reputation as a warrior was only matched by his reputation as a 'ladies' man'. The more enemies he killed, the greater a warrior he was. And the greater a warrior he was, the more chance he had of marrying multiple wives.
Polygamy was not seen as much of a taboo back then as it is today in most societies. Even though King Cepheus was only married to one woman, Cassiopeia herself, it was no secret that their eldest son Idris had two wives already. Not that they complained, they were proud of him. His two wives were named Ashanti and Ife, both of whom he loved incredibly.
In spite of his handsome exterior, Phineus was rather ugly on the interior. As a Prince of the Azande, he was indoctrinated to believe that women were nothing more than trophies to be won, to be simple-minded and subservient to men. Even his brutally scarred upper body, whether achieved through ritual self-scarification or through battle, was a reflection of who he was; hard-hearted, merciless and sadistic.
Cepheus and his family were dressed in their finest, much to Andromeda's dismay. She hated having to look beautiful and 'respectable' in the eyes of the people. She wanted to be her own woman, not some decoration for people to admire. For she was clad in a traditional white kaftan that covered her whole body, she was forced to wear sandals on her feet and her hair was covered by a white shawl.
Next to Cepheus was a woman near his age with medium-light brown skin, dark brown eyes, a nearly large figure which was also a sign of fertility, a golden headdress and clad in an indigo-violet kaftan. This was Andromeda, Idris and Djimon's mother and Cepheus' proud and boastful wife, Queen Cassiopeia.
Cassiopeia was a beautiful woman in every right, but what she lacked in most was humility as she raised her cup and called out, "Good people of Joppa and the Empire. Hear me. Hear me. Tonight, we celebrate the return of our greatest warrior; Prince Phineus of the Azande."
Phineus stood up with pride and roared out as he drew his khopesh, "NIAM-NIAM!" This of course shook the guests to their core. That blood-curdling cry was enough to scare them. Phineus grinned though in delight. He reveled in causing fear.
"Thank you, Queen Cassiopeia. I'm certain you all know of my return from a border skirmish between my warriors and a vanguard of Egyptians. I'm the kind of warrior that our Empire needs for her next King. Though I am rather surprised that you would allow the son of our hated enemy to sit at your table." Phineus said mockingly with a smirk, referring to Moses.
Cassiopeia paid no mind to his discrimination, unfortunately, as she spoke more. "And what better way to reward our greatest warrior than to offer him the most beautiful of prizes, the most delicate flower in our land; my daughter, Princess Andromeda?"
As she said those words, Andromeda felt her blood boil. Not just at the idea of marrying the one man she hated more than anything, but also being described as a 'prize' and a 'delicate flower'. "What could be more divine than Andromeda? She who is more beautiful than any woman in our lands, whose beauty outshines the Gods? Even the Hellenic Goddess of Love Aphrodite herself?" Cassiopeia boasted proudly as Andromeda began to storm out of the palace in anger and humiliation, in addition to fear, for it was considered blasphemous to compare someone to a God of Olympus.
Her father, brothers and sister-in-laws were concerned as Cepheus glared at his boasting wife, "Cassiopeia, you are drunk and you know not what you are saying. The Gods do not take kindly to that kind of talk." Cepheus warned his vain wife, who simply looked up into the sky as if waiting for something.
"I see no bolt of lightning, dear Cepheus, so what have we to fear?" Cassiopeia asked, not understanding what her husband was afraid of. Cepheus shook his head in annoyance and concern. His wife was too proud and too small-minded to comprehend the consequences of her actions.
"It seems that Andromeda probably agrees to the arrangement. She did leave rather in a hurry. She must be excited to marry me." Phineus said to the royal family, though Djimon glared at him as did Idris as both brothers rose from their seats.
"If you cared about Andromeda, Phineus, you would respect that she is her own woman and she is not a delicate flower, nor is she anyone's prize to be won. And I doubt she would wish to marry a warmonger like you, a man who disrespects our rules of war--." Djimon said before Phineus spoke up.
"'Rules of war'? Grow up, Prince Djimon. In war, there are no rules. In war, you either do whatever it takes to fight and emerge victorious or you die. It's pure and simple. There's a reason why I, Phineus Prince of the Azande, am the greatest warrior in the Empire. I'm not afraid to do whatever it takes to defend our lands from the barbarous mzungus who try to come here and make slaves of us. Can you claim the same? Or you, Idris? Can you?" Phineus taunted both Princes.
Meanwhile Andromeda had torn off her dress and sandals, now wearing her grass skirt and bra as she ran towards the sanctuary of Aphrodite. She might have been a warrior in training, but Andromeda surprisingly was also a secret romantic and she did worship Aphrodite in her own way.
She humbly bowed in respect to the statue and spoke, "Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty. I modestly beg you to hear the prayer of Princess Andromeda of Aethiopia. I know you might have heard my mother bragging and trying to sell me off to the one man I hate more than anything, and I know that she doesn't think before she acts, but I am willing to suffer your wrath to protect her and my family. I also wish to know if I am ever to find love on my own."
Then surprisingly a mysterious pink fog surrounded her and the sanctuary as a giddy and joyful laugh was heard along with a honeyed voice, "There's no need to be afraid of me, Andromeda. I know your mother can be a braggart, but I'm a lover not a fighter."
Then from out of the fog came the strawberry blonde haired, milky skinned, bright blue eyed, scantily dressed and barefooted Olympian Goddess of Love herself laughing cheerfully without a care in the world as she walked around Andromeda who was surprised and confused. "Hello there, Andromeda. I was hoping one day that you'd pray to me for advice about love."
Andromeda's mouth hung a little in surprise, she had not expected to meet an Olympian face to face before. She had often prayed to them, but none of them had answered her prayers before until now. "You...are Aphrodite? I don't know what to say. You don't look anything--." Andromeda said as Aphrodite interrupted her with a slight giggle.
"Like the statues they make of me? They really don't do me justice. But I can't blame any of these mortal sculptors for trying. It's always up to them to use their imaginations." As Aphrodite said those words she looked at her statue as if to critique it.
"I figured as much. These statues always either depict me without my arms or covering myself in shame, my breasts aren't the right size and they always make me look fat. Ugh." Aphrodite said with a groan making a face, while Andromeda was still rather confused.
"Uh, Lady Aphrodite? I prayed to you because--." Andromeda said before Aphrodite turned her attention to the Princess.
"Oh, right. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. I almost forgot about you. You prayed to me...because you were willing to sacrifice yourself for your family and loved ones, and also because you seek to find a man worthy of your heart and your love. Now I should have you know that as an Olympian, I can't just simply tell you your future. But I can tell you one thing. And it's really important." Aphrodite said with a hint of forewarning in her voice.
"And that would be? I am willing to meet the man I wish to marry, but I will only marry for love and only if this man can beat me in single combat, as is my right as a Princess." Andromeda said bravely and eagerly, impressing Aphrodite.
"That's good. That's very good. You're willing to follow your heart and stay true to your beliefs. That's the kind of woman I wish more women were like in this world. As to the man you might be destined for, you might get a chance to meet him tonight when you sleep." Aphrodite suggested.
"Tonight? When I sleep? I don't understand." Andromeda asked in confusion, before she saw the mist and Aphrodite disappear. "Hello?"
Then Moses spoke, "There you are, Your Highness. I was hoping to have found you here. I see that your mother has greatly upset you. Has she always been like this?"
"Prince Moses, my mother is a proud woman. Yet she has always been of an empty mind and a wagging tongue. Sometimes I believe she doesn't realize what she is saying. I often fear that one day her boasts will get this kingdom in trouble." Andromeda answered.
"Do you not fancy Prince Phineus? He is the greatest warrior in the Empire. And he--." Moses asked before he interrupted.
"I never have liked him. Nor do I suspect that he likes me. The way he looks at me is reminiscent of a lion eying an impala. He only cares about marrying me so that he might one day be King. I feel like an outcast among my people." Andromeda answered, before Moses spoke.
"I, too, am an outsider among both my adopted people and the people of my birth. For I...am a Hebrew, yet I was taken in by the Pharaoh as a baby. I only recently discovered the truth of who I am and how I came to be among the Egyptians. Even my adopted father, Seti, confirmed all that he had done. I ran away after killing an Egyptian when he was beating an elderly Hebrew slave...and I was being hunted by Pharaoh's guards." Moses explained.
"So that's why you were taken alive by Phineus and his warriors. You were escaping. But where will you go now, Moses?" She asked, curious as to where this Hebrew prince would go.
"I do not know, but I know now that I can never return to Egypt after what I've done. If anything, I must escape and find a better life far away from the world I thought I knew. And it is better that my adopted brother, Rameses, thinks that I am dead. I'll need to use one of your ships." Moses answered as he looked out into the harbor.
Andromeda saw that there was no lie in Moses's eyes and she said to him, "There's a merchant ship that sails for the kingdom of the Sabaeans at dawn's next rising. If you sneak in tonight, there is a chance you'll be able to make it there without anyone being wiser."
"Thank you, Andromeda. I will never forget your kindness. Nor your hospitality. May my God look kindly upon your people one day." Moses said as he gently shook her hand and bowed before he fled to find the ship that she had mentioned.
Later that night, Andromeda slept peacefully in hopes that Aphrodite would keep her end of the bargain. The Realm of Dreams was more than just a place people visited while they slept, it was also a reflection of the person who dreamt. When Andromeda entered the Dream Realm, ruled by the mysterious God of Dreams Morpheus, she was standing on top of a hill overlooking the Great Rift Valley.
She was also as naked as the day she was born and she only carried her spear in her hand. She had no shame and no need to hide her body, and there was no one in sight to look at her or judge her as she practiced fighting with her spear.
Little did she realize was that she was not the only one in her dream as Perseus arrived in her dream, naked as she was. Yet he was near the base of the hill with only Elektros, his sword, by his side and he was completely confused. "Where am I? What is this place?" He asked to himself as Elektros gleamed.
"Huh? What?" He asked as he felt himself being pulled up as if by magic. He tried to resist the sword's pull, but he could not keep his feet down as he was pulled closer and closer to Andromeda. Suddenly the naked Princess turned and saw him in surprise as she readied her spear.
"Stop there! Who are you? What are you doing here in my dream?" Andromeda asked in a warning tone of voice as if ready to fight off this would-be suitor. Perseus was confused as Andromeda pointed her spear at his throat. Yet Perseus couldn't help but stare at her body and how beautiful she looked. In the Dream World, there were no limitations. If you were blind as Perseus was, you could see perfectly.
To Perseus, Andromeda was the most beautiful young woman he had ever seen. Her breasts were neither too big or too small, her nipples were small yet hard, her pubic area was clean shaven, her backside was not big either and her eyes were the most beautiful blue eyes he had ever gazed upon.
Andromeda frowned at his silence, yet flattered that he found her attractive as she spoke again unafraid to stick him with her spear, "Who are you and why are you in my dream?"
Perseus gulped nervously as he hesitantly answered, "I am....Perseus, son of Zeus and Danae...and I am the prince and heir to the kingdom of Argos--." Yet as he answered, Andromeda continued to hold him back.
"Then tell me, Perseus son of Zeus and Danae. Why are you in my dream, naked as I am? Is it chance? Fate? Or are you here to ravage me in my dream?" Andromeda demanded, wanting to know his purpose, yet she continued to stare at his well toned body, perfect physique and his clean shaven pubic area, including his erect penis.
"I don't know as to why I'm here in your dream or why you're here in my dream, but I would like to know who you are and where am I? What is this place?" Perseus asked as he looked around in surprise and wonder. For he had never before seen the beauty of an African sunrise or sunset.
Andromeda was surprised by his curiosity and could see no malice or lustful intent in his eyes or voice. "This is the Great Rift Valley of Aethiopia, my home. This is but a wild land that my father King Cepheus rules over. I am Princess Andromeda of Aethiopia." Andromeda answered as she introduced herself to him.
"You're a princess? The three Fates told me that I would one day meet a princess and fall in love with her. I...just find it hard to believe that it would be so soon." Perseus blushed heavily as Andromeda grinned.
"As strange as it sounds, this night I was visited by Aphrodite who told me that I would be visited by the man I was destined to fall in love with and marry. I can only assume that he might be you?" Andromeda asked in a flirtatious voice and Perseus gulped nervously.
"I don't really know if I am him, Princess Andromeda. I don't even know if I am worthy of loving a princess, being that I am a love-child of Zeus." Perseus answered modestly, much to Andromeda's surprise. He must have had a low opinion of himself.
"Why do you say such things? Have you no pride in your lineage? No sense of worth?" Andromeda asked, feeling pity for him. Surely he had every right to be proud that he was a son of Zeus.
"I'm certain you're aware that Zeus has had affairs with many women before my mother and while I am grateful that he saved her, while making me in the process, I have often prayed to the Olympian Gods all my life and was often given muted silence until now. And I was born blind, hence why I can see you in the Dream World. If you saw me in the waking realm, I doubt you'd like what I look like." Perseus explained his situation as he sat down on a rock, yet Andromeda placed her hand gently on his shoulder.
"Perseus, I admire what I see already. And for a Mzungu, 'foreigner' in my peoples' language, you are rather handsome. Any woman would be honored to marry you. Me? As a princess, I am expected to marry whomever my family chooses, yet I still have the right to marry on my own terms. And I will only marry whomsoever bests me in combat." Andromeda explained, much to Perseus's surprise as Elektros glittered.
"Why don't we spar right now? As in a friendly spar? To test each other's mettle." Perseus suggested piquing Andromeda's interest. She was starting to like Perseus already.
"Very well then. I don't see as to why not. However, I must make the terms. If I beat you, you must tell me more about yourself. But if you beat me, then perhaps...I shall let you kiss me." Andromeda wagered much to Perseus' surprise.
"Wait then does that mean...you'll choose me?" Perseus asked.
"I have not decided yet. I have yet to meet you in person. And when we do, I shall need to face you in combat and if you beat me there, then and only then, would I agree to marry you." Andromeda answered as she readied her spear and Perseus held Elektros.
"And if there is a draw and none of us can beat each other? What then?" Perseus asked as he readied himself for combat.
Andromeda grinned as she said, "Then we shall share a kiss together."
Perseus nodded, "Fair enough. Let's begin."
Andromeda smirked, this was her chance to test her skills to this handsome stranger. She thrusted her spear at him, only for Perseus to use Elektros to parry her blade away. The naked fighters grinned. "Not bad for a Mzungu." She said as they circled each other and they clashed again, this time Andromeda swung her spear, merely missing Perseus.
"Not bad yourself, Andromeda." Perseus said with a smirk, impressed with her skill. Andromeda chuckled at his compliments, sensing his sincerity. As they fought and parried each other's blows, Perseus and Andromeda spoke.
"Are there any woman warriors in your kingdom, Andromeda?" He asked as Elektros's blade was blocked by the shaft of Andromeda's spear and he was admiring her skill.
"I am afraid not. Women like me are expected to be silent, meek and obedient. But that's not who I am, Perseus. I will not have any man be my master or control me, even if such a man is as handsome as you are." Andromeda said flirtatiously as they clashed again.
"I didn't realize that women in your kingdom were given limited rights. Perhaps one day when I return to mainland Greece, I will do everything that I can to give women more rights if I can. Provided that I survive my encounter with the Gorgon, Medusa." Perseus said, much to Andromeda's shock as she lowered her weapon.
"You seek Medusa? Why? Do you plan to kill her and take her head?" Andromeda asked in concern and fear. For she had heard stories of Medusa and feared for Perseus's safety. Perseus simply shook his head.
"I don't know whether I should kill her and take her head or not. But I might need her help. I was tasked with bringing her head back by my terrible adopted uncle, King Polydectes of Seriphos, as a wedding gift. But I fear that he might have sent me to my death so that he can get his hands on my mother. I need to know if she is the monster that everyone says that she is or not." Perseus answered unsure of what the right thing to do was.
Andromeda sighed as she put her hand on his shoulder and spoke with a sultry voice, "Perseus, I want you to promise me something. Promise me that whatever you choose to do with Medusa, you will come to Aethiopia so that I can meet you in person and, if I do decide to challenge you, see if you are worthy of my love."
As she said those words, she leaned her face towards his own as he blushed heavily and nodded, "I promise, Andromeda. No matter what happens, I will come to Aethiopia. I do want to meet you face to face and to know who you are as a Princess and a warrior."
Then Perseus leaned his face towards Andromeda's and he gently and tenderly kissed her. It was a tender moment between the two warrior-lovers, though it was only a dream, and Perseus had made a promise that he needed to keep.
Meanwhile looking from up above on Mount Olympus, Aphrodite grinned to herself. "Yes! I got them together in their dreams. I can so not wait until they meet in real life and eventually fall in love. I did it." She said to herself with a giggle.
Yet when the time would come for Perseus to arrive at Aethiopia, would love actually form between the warrior-princess and the demigod? Only time and fate would tell.