Hippolyta wept at the first gasp of the babe on the sand. As her new daughter cried out, she washed the earth from her skin in the surf. Youthful Dawn, with her rose red fingers, seemed to reach down and grace the babe’s cheeks. When she was clean, Hippolyta carefully checked her head to toe. The child’s skin was healthy and flawless – but Hippolyta did not worry over much. Amazons lived long lives.
Diana grew healthy and energetic; headstrong and steadfast; a warrior any Amazon mother could be proud of, and a princess well loved by her people. Her mother, and her tutors and trainers and counselors as well, were honest when she asked why they carried words on her skin. Some, like her mother, bore a single phrase or greeting. Others, such as Philippus, carried the words of many mates.
“Why are these words white, Philippus?” Diana asked, when resting after a bout of swordplay. Philippus had uncharacteristically agreed to bathe with her, and upon removing her armor, revealed a pale, scarred mark twisting on her flank. When Philippus turned, she could not suppress a gasp at the markings hidden by her clothes. Pardon, but I have lost my way, I need to get to the physic…Who are you to make these demands?...Well met, Philippus…
“Diana, you know that we Amazons have not always lived unmolested here on Themyscira. In the days of old, I often traveled in the world of men.” She paused, and seemed to focus on scrubbing her face. “When a woman’s soulmate dies and leaves this world for the next, their words fade into scars. But the gods are not cruel, and sometimes, a woman may awaken to discover a new set of words has appeared on her skin.”
Diana contemplated this as she stroked her fingers through her hair. She was very curious, but also sensitive to Philippus’ sadness. The priestesses had taught her that before a person was born, the Moirai carefully crafted the thread of their soul. So too did the Moirai love to pair well-matched yarns together, in order to make the tapestry of Fate more beautiful. But often the Moirai did not find a match until after a person must needs be born, or Lachesis allotted a shorter life to one of the mates. So it was that Diana was still awaiting her words. Still, it did seem cruel, to her, for Clotho to spin two lives together, only to have Atropos cut one away.
As Diana continued to mature, it became clear that the gods and goddesses had graced her with gifts even beyond those of the typical Amazon. Her speed, her strength, her endurance, her senses, all enhanced her skills on the training ground and the hunt. She loved her sisters dearly, but was filled with restlessness. Her favorite activity was horseback riding, as far and as fast along the shore as her mare will run. She could not abide tasks of the hearth – in particular, spinning and weaving.
Maia laughed at her often, accompanying her as she struggled to follow the instructions of the master crafters of their nation. Maia was not much older than Diana, and lean and beautiful with golden hair, and Diana could only blush and look away when she kissed or danced with her soulmate. Until one evening, towards the end of the spring festival, when they invited her to their quarters, and Maia kissed her neck and shoulder while Euboea pulled at her peplos. Would she lie with them tonight, and let them share with her the talents of lovers? Diana sent a momentary prayer to Aphrodite to bless her friends, and said yes.
But even these pleasures of the flesh faded with time, and she found her mind often unquiet. She took lovers as they came to her, but felt no desire to seek them out. She prayed as dictated, and fulfilled her royal duties as Hippolyta requested, but could tell her mother worried over her.
And then one day as she placed an offering at the statue of Apollo, she felt a strange warmth on her leg. She looked down, and saw a new string of black writing stretching down her calf. She bent down, then shifted to put her leg in the sun. The writing was scribbled nonsense. Confusion, then anger struck her heart. What could it mean?
“Ah, I see you have finally been graced with words,” she heard from further in the temple. “May I see them?”
“Menalippe!” Diana turned in surprise. “I did not know you would be at Apollo’s temple today.”
“I often come here to think.” Menalippe replied noncommittally. And to Prophesize, Diana thought to herself. Diana felt uncertainty join the emotions already roiling through her at the thought of revealing her soulmark to the old woman. Still, it would be extremely presumptuous to deny the Oracle, now that she had already seen the words. They exited the temple and sat on the stairs together. Menalippe hmmed as she skimmed her fingers over the mark.
“Well, I cannot read them, but they are yours, and so they are beautiful,” she commented at last.
“But what does it mean? Am I cursed? Why should the Fates have marked me this way?” Diana cried out, finally revealing her turmoil.
“Do not be so frightened, child. I cannot read these words, true…but there was a time when I could not read the letters of the Phoenicians, nor the glyphs of the Egyptians, nor even the words of our own language,” she chuckled at herself, and the younger women, as Diana’s expression shifted from distress to perplexion. “What does it mean? It means that your soulmate is not from Themyscira.”
“Then…” Diana turned to stare out across the bluff, towards the foam of the sea. Menalippe only nodded and pat her hand. “Please do not tell my mother.”
“I will not lie to her,” Menalippe replied, “but I will not mention it either. After all, your soulmate has just been born. I am sure you will show the Queen in good time.”
Diana stopped running barefoot or wearing sandals and took to wearing boots. Boots cut high to her knees, in the fashion of the butchers, and tanners, and blacksmiths. When a few years later she felt another spread of warmth across her belly, she waited until the torches burnt low to sneak out under the moonlight. She untied her belt and traced the words which ran from hip to hip. The script was different, but she was clever enough to match letters with the set on her leg. Two soulmates, waiting to meet her, somewhere out in Man’s world.
When her ruse was discovered, Hippolyta pulled her close to hide her tears.
“I’ve known for a long time the gods did not send you only to be my daughter, but for greater purposes laid down by Fate,” she whispered. “Oh, my little sun and stars.”
Diana didn’t have any words to say, so she said nothing, and clutched her mother tightly.