Summary: Otrere saves the future.
Timeline: Backstory fic for The Alliance of Destiny: Bounty Hunters.
Disclaimer: Otrere and Christian belong to Humaira and me.
Otrere of the Lysander tribe was considered a bad apple. She was worthy of her status as the adopted daughter of their leader Queen Ambrosine. But her mouth was unbecoming of the daughter of a tribal leader. Otrere was born with an inquisitory nature and questioned everything that she saw.
One summer day, she had brought up the idea that maybe the Lysander tribe should keep the boys that were born into their tribe instead of killing them. They would be useful in learning how to fight against marauders.
“Otrere!” Ambrosine snapped.
“But Mother!” Otrere replied, wounded. “You must think of the future! Our tribe’s stake on this land depends on…”
“Silence!” Queen Ambrosine screamed, standing up in her chair. The hall fell silent as Ambrosine stared down her second daughter, adopted after Otrere’s birth mother Beryl died nobly in a battle. But Otrere stood her ground.
“Tend to your sister,” Ambrosine ordered her. “She will be giving birth soon.”
“My queen, you are not listening to reason!” Otrere cried passionately. She knew that had gone too far to back down now. Her sister could wait.
Otrere flinched. But she obliged, dragging her feet out of the hall, pouting.
When Otrere went into the birthing hut, she found the midwife was praying over Chrysilla, Ambrosine’s daughter by birth and heir to the tribe.
“The gods are not happy. I knew we should’ve made a sacrifice sooner. I didn’t expect Chrysilla to give birth so soon,” the midwife said gravely to Otrere. “I do not know if she will survive the night.”
She nodded. She was not quite of age to be bedded by a man, so she also prayed that she would keep her innocence for as long as she could. Chrysilla was drenched in sweat and Otrere gently wiped the sweat from her brow. Her sister was visited by a man because of a strategic alliance that Ambrosine saw fit to make. Of course, if a boy was born, it would be killed.
Otrere felt this was barbaric and voiced her opinion. Ambrosine turned purple every time. In fact, it was said that Otrere undermined Ambrosine’s authority when she spoke out. Otrere didn’t know when she fell asleep but woke up the next morning to the unchanged facial expression of the midwife. The baby – a boy – was nestled in a blanket. Chrysilla was visibly put off by the mere sight of the newborn.
“I’m so sorry,” Otrere offered, peering down at the supple pink skin of the child.
“This is the third time in a row, Otrere,” Chrysilla whimpered. “Mother will not be happy.”
“You can always try again,” Otrere urged her. The midwife clucked from behind her.
“I’m getting on in years,” Chrysilla reminded her. “I don’t know how many false births Queen Ambrosine will tolerate before she passes the queenship on to you.”
Otrere shuddered. “I don’t want to be queen.”
Chrysilla sighed and leaned back against the vegetation used to prop her up. “At this rate, you won’t have a choice.” She eyed the midwife. “Get rid of it.”
Silently the midwife strode forward and gathered up the child, exiting the birthing hut. Otrere made a lightning-fast decision and kissed Chrysilla on the forehead.
“I’ll come to visit you again,” Otrere said.
Chrysilla gave a faint wave. “Very well. I need my sleep.”
“Helice!” Otrere cried. The midwife stopped in her tracks.
Otrere reached for the child. “I will take care of him this time,” she said gravely.
The midwife allowed Otrere to take the boy from her arms. “I should be tending to your sister. She’s still very weak.” And with that, the midwife took off for the birthing hut.
Otrere looked down at the child in her arms and gave one last look of the Lysander village. “It will be quick, my love,” Otrere cooed at the newborn. She held him close and ran off. Being the daughter of a tribal elder had its perks. Otrere knew the shipping routes of every passing convoy and army within 100 feet of the village.
Flagging down the first convoy she saw, Otrere explained in broken Latin that they must take the babe far away from here. She shoved a bag of gold at them. The men of the convoy shrugged, accepting the newborn child with no arguments. Otrere patted the baby one last time and slipped away before they asked any more questions. She watched as the convoy faded away into the distance and hoped that the child would survive, that the Lysander bloodline would continue in secret.
The man called Christian Sanders woke up in his posh New York apartment in a state of dreamy confusion.
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