The old woman inched her way down the hallway, pausing by a half open door to push the heavy braid of grey hair over her shoulders. As she prepared to move on, she heard the sound of a young female voice and, always curious, she stayed to listen.
“Zana said there are men there,” said one girl.
“So what? I don’t care about men,” replied the other.
The elderly woman could hear the mingling of fear and excitement in the voice of the first girl as she responded, “But Zana said these men will capture you and rape you, that you are completely powerless once you go to Agapeo….”
The grey-haired woman shook her head at that and pushed the door open to step inside. Her faded green eyes peered at both girls and noted they are both nearly of age, when they would either be sent out into the world or to the fields.
“This Zana is wrong!” the woman exclaimed as she neared the young women. “And you are old enough to know the truth,” she spoke harshly, her body straightening, showing the curves that were still there, the fire in her eyes reminiscent of her days as a wild, the days before she came to work in the house of the Hag, to help raise the children born on Agapeo.
“It is not the men who have the power; it is the women,” she explained in a softer tone, lifting her cane to lightly tap it against the first girl’s stomach. “You will cradle humanity in your womb, and your beauty will entice men to spill their seed into you.”
She turned to leave, then paused to add, “Some days will be dark. You will cry out in fear and pain, perhaps even curse the gods. You will seem insignificant in the danger and strife that is Agapeo. But if you are chosen to go there, it is because you are beautiful; you are special. Never forget that and the power you wield over men.”
With that, she shuffled out of the room, leaving the girls to stare wordlessly at each other.