Title: Jewels In The Crown IV: Charming Crescent (1/1)
Pairings/Characters: Queen Hippolyta, Diana, Artemis, Nubia, Minerva, Jacintha, Io
Genres: Drama, Mystery
Summary: While visiting Paradise Island, Diana finds herself caught up in a mystery involving the Crown Jewels.
Date Of Completion: July 30, 2020
Date Of Posting:
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2710
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: This series deals with Diana’s Amazon heritage. The entire series can be found here.
The Crown Jewels
Are the symbols of power.
Glittering and gaudy,
They make the meek cower,
For what is royalty
But strength and rule?
Just hope that the crowned head
Is no one’s fool.
“The Crown Jewels”
“The Scepter is missing.”
Hippolyta’s words startled Diana. The Queen sat on her golden Throne, but the room was empty except for the two of them.
“How can this be, Mother?”
Hippolyta shook her head. “I have no idea. There are no strangers on the Island. Who would take such an important object?”
Diana looked thoughtful. “When did you realize it was missing?”
“This morning.” The Queen touched her Crown. “I suppose I should consider myself fortunate that this was not gone as well.”
“Truly a piece of Irish luck, as Steve would say.”
Hippolyta smiled wryly. “I suppose I should make an announcement.”
Diana held up her hand. “Hold, Mother. We should investigate first.”
“Investigate? You have been in Man’s World too long.”
Diana laughed. “Perhaps so, Mother, but what harm can it do? If we find nothing, you can make your announcement.”
“All right, where do we start?”
Diana noted with amusement that her mother was including herself now. “We should check the chamber where it is kept for clues.”
Hippolyta stood. “Let us be off, then.”
Mother and daughter left the Throne Room and headed for the Queen’s Chambers. The room was sunny and bright with its marble walls, large bed with a filmy canopy and gold-threaded sheets. A cherrywood wardrobe held her gowns, and a gold-and-white writing desk was neatly arranged with the quill and parchment for proclamations and correspondence. A vanity held a comb, hairbrush and hand mirror. A handsome jewelry box was set in the center. The large mirror was draped with whimsical yellow ribbons and fitted with a yellow, ruffled skirt. A nightstand next to the bed was piled high with books and a lantern.
In an alcove on a small altar, a lace-trimmed cloth held the ceremonial Necklace. Hippolyta was wearing the Crown, but the Scepter was indeed missing.
“Could someone have taken it just to polish it or something?” Diana asked doubtfully.
Hippolyta looked at her. “You know that no one may touch it without my permission.”
“Yes.” Diana searched the alcove.
The gold Crown was encrusted with a multitude of jewels: diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, amethysts and topazes. The Scepter was also decorated with similar gems. The Royal Necklace glittered in its place on the alcove table, also a match.
Diana checked out the floor. She had watched Bruce perform his investigations with methodical precision. She noticed a tiny gold charm in the shape of a crescent moon at the base of the altar. She bent down and picked it up.
“What is that?” Hippolyta asked.
“Someone lost a charm.”
Hippolyta took it from Diana. “Yes, charm bracelets are the latest fad, as they say in Man’s World. Our jewelsmiths have been crafting them, but some Amazons have lost charms.”
“Nevertheless, it is a good start.” Diana studied it carefully. “No fingerprints.”
Hippolyta smiled. “Good, because we do not have a crime laboratory.”
Diana laughed. “Crime is not endemic, to be sure.” She placed the charm in her mother’s jewelry box. “I will keep my eye out for a bracelet with a missing charm.”
“So shall I.”
Diana crossed her arms. “I think I will make some visits.”
“Discreetly, of course.”
Diana left the Palace and wandered down to the shopping district, which consisted of an outdoor marketplace with stalls and small indoor shops. Diana located the jewelsmith and entered the shop, tiny bells jingling over the door. The shop was quiet as only its owner, Artemis, was present. She was working on a necklace. Blond strands escaped her chignon as her fingers skillfully embedded jewels into the necklace.
“Hola, Artemis. What a beautiful piece you have there.”
“Thank you, Princess.” Artemis looked up. “What is your interest today?”
Artemis smiled. “The latest thing, hmm?”
“I have heard of their popularity.”
Finely-crafted objects glittered in the display cases and on marble busts. Diana always enjoyed perusing Artemis’s wares.
“So what charms would you like on your bracelet?”
“I already have a charm bracelet.”
“Ah, a gift from your paramour, no doubt.”
Diana smiled. “Actually, I am more interested in bracelets already sold.”
“Have you made many bracelets with a crescent moon charm?”
Diana sighed. “Do you have a list?”
Artemis was clearly curious but she only said, “Yes, I do.” She slid off her stool and went to the back room. Diana admired an extremely intricate necklace on one of the busts as she waited. “Here you are, Princess.” Artemis returned with a parchment scroll.
“Very much appreciated.” Diana took the scroll. “Truly, your work is most exquisite.”
“Thank you, Princess.”
Diana smiled and left the jewelsmith shop. She went to a marble bench under a tree and unrolled the scroll. She read the names and lifted an eyebrow at a few of them. She stood and went to the first name on the list.
& & & & & &
“Hola, Sister.” Diana had placed the scroll in a carrying bag that was slung on her back. “Will you be going out today?”
Nubia’s boat bobbed gently on the waves by the dock. She looked at it fondly. “Perhaps. We could use some fresh fish.”
“Excellent.” Diana sat down next to Nubia, whose dark face was placid as her nimble fingers ended the net. “Nothing like fresh fish, to be sure.”
Nubia’s long, black hair blew freely in the wind. “What are your plans for this fine day?”
“Just going here and there. No special plans.”
“That sounds quite bohemian. Or should I say Athenian?”
Diana laughed. “I suppose it does. Still, life here has its leisure.”
“True.” Nubia tested the strength of the net. “A society centuries old needs both kinds of days: task-filled or hammock days.”
Diana smiled. “Staving off boredom is essential.”
“Goodness, yes. Novelty is treasured here.”
Diana nodded sagely. “I hear a novelty is sweeping the island.”
“There is always something.”
“Healthy for our society.”
Nubia checked over the net for any further tears. “The latest excitement is charm bracelets.”
“Are you part of the fad?”
Nubia smiled. She reached into her belt and drew out a jingling bracelet. “I did not want to catch it on the netting while I worked.”
Diana took the bracelet and admired it, noting the crescent moon charm glinting in the sunlight. “Lovely.”
“Thank you. Artemis does fine work.”
Diana agreed. She chatted with Nubia for awhile, then left her to her mending.
& & & & & &
“Hello, Princess. Looking for a good book?”
“Always, Minerva.” Diana smiled. “You quickly learned how to be a literary agent representing our Amazon authors.”
Minerva smiled proudly. As tall as Diana, she liked to wear yellow chitons and matching gold jewelry. “We are able to divide the earnings between the authors and worthy projects such as the women’s shelters we sponsor, Hera’s Havens.”
“It is a joy to let the people beyond these shores know of our philosophies.”
“I agree.” Diana browsed through the bookshelves. There were also scrolls. The ancient ones were kept in a special vault in the library, but new ones were available here. “What are the current bestsellers?”
“Trashy romance novels.”
Diana laughed. “No!”
“They are great comedies.”
“I suppose that fits with the charm bracelet fad.”
Minerva laughed. “I think you may be right.” She held up one arm. “I admit I have fallen into the fad.”
“Ah.” Diana looked at the bracelet. The crescent moon was there. “A charming fad.”
“Good one, Princess.” Minerva picked up a scroll. “Care for some Socrates?”
Diana perused the scroll. “It really is a festive diversion.”
“Even our librarian has a bracelet.”
“Yes. She said she wanted a change. She is a redhead now.”
Minerva nodded. “She lost one of her charms and had to replace it.”
“I do not know.”
Diana put the scroll down. “I will return later.”
“At your pleasure, Princess.”
Diana left the bookstore and strolled through the marketplace. She always enjoyed the colorful wares: jewelry, clothing, crafts, and food. There were bookstalls and a stall with beautiful filmy scarves.
Jacintha was now her best suspect, but Diana knew there was nothing definitive yet. She also knew that detective work took time.
The impressive Royal Library loomed ahead, a large marble structure housing a precious treasure trove of knowledge. The Ionic columns gleamed in the sunlight. Diana went up the steps and entered through the massive wooden doors carved with flowers and vines.
Inside was cool and quiet. Diana crossed the lobby, always pleased to see the mosaic of the ancient Library of Alexandria in the spacious area.
She entered the vast Main Reading Room, stained-glass windows letting in prisms of rainbow light. She glided through the tables and chairs and noticed that the large circular desk in the middle of the room was unattended. There was a small golden bell to ring, but Diana decided to go in search of Jacintha instead of summoning her.
Her sandaled footsteps echoed as she walked through the room. She had spent many happy hours here. There were nooks and crannies she had explored, and she had delighted in reading the books and scrolls. They had fueled her imagination throughout her childhood, and continued to do so long after.
She passed through other reading rooms with stacks of books and scrolls. There were no patrons or staff around, but she would find it busy at other hours. The quiet suited Diana.
One thing about Paradise Island: there is always peace here.
She went up a wide staircase to the second floor. More stacks, more tables and chairs, more silence.
“Jacintha!” she called.
“Diana!” Jacinta came out of her office.
“You are a redhead.”
“Who has been gossiping?”
Diana grinned. “Your co-historian.”
“What is it off-Islanders say? Big mouth!”
This time Diana laughed. “Yes, big mouth. But how else to find out anything?”
“Ha!” Jacintah’s necklaces jangled as she walked toward Diana. She was well-proportioned, not as tall as Diana but every move was powerful. She was a champion runner. “So, are you looking for something specific?”
“No, I just wanted to stop by and say hello.”
“Always nice to see you.” Jacintha touched her tiara and her bracelet jangled.
“That is lovely.”
“I see a crescent moon charm. I have a special fondness for that symbol.”
“You are named for the Moon Goddess.”
“Yes.” Diana looked over the bracelet. “Artemis does fine work.”
“Yes.” Jacintha shook her head, her earrings jingling. “I got the bracelet caught and lost a charm, so had to replace it.”
Diana mentally crossed Jacintha off the list. “Good thing you could get it fixed.”
“You know Artemis. She takes great pride in her work. Everything has to be perfect.”
“Not a bad trait.”
Jacintha agreed. Diana took her leave and walked to the forge where Io was busy at work. The heat slammed into Diana like a punch from Ares. A hammer clanged as Io forged a sword hilt. Her olive skin gleamed with sweat as her short, reddish-brown hair clung damply to her head. Shorter than most Amazons, she was compact and strong, a benefit of her profession of blacksmith. Smoke filled the room and Diana coughed.
“Hola, Diana.” Io kept hammering.
“Hola, Io.” Diana watched in admiration as Io successfully forged the hilt.
Once Io was finished, she set the hilt aside to cool. Removing her thick gloves, she asked, “Are you looking for an upgrade in armor?”
“I would like you to take a look at it. My sword and shield, too.”
“Excellent.” Io removed her leather apron. “Bring everything after lunch.”
“I will.” Diana noticed a charm bracelet lying on a nearby table. There was a crescent moon charm attached among the others. “See you then.”
Diana returned to the Palace. None of these women except Jacintha had lost a charm, but it was the wrong one. She still had to see Philippus, the Captain of the Guard.
She met her mother in the foyer. “Were you successful?” asked Hippolyta.
“A mixed bag. I still have to speak to Philippus.”
“I already did.” Hippolyta said smugly. At Diana’s look, she said, “What? You are not the only detective in the family.”
Diana laughed. “All right, Mother. What did you find out?”
“She lost a charm.”
“And it was a shield charm.”
Diana sighed. “We are at a dead end. Jacintha lost a charm, too, but not a crescent moon. Or she did and merely said it was another charm.”
“This detective business can be knotty.”
“Oh, surely. I am not sure how the Bats do it.”
“These Bats must be patient.”
Diana smirked. “Some of them are.”
The Queen cocked her head. “So what is our next move?”
“Our next move is to mull things over and sleep on it.”
“Do the Bats sleep on it?”
“Hanging upside down.”
& & & & & &
“Look!” Hippolyta pointed to the alcove.
“Great Hera!” Diana looked at her mother. “The Crown is missing!”
Hippolyta nodded. “An announcement must be made.”
“Wait, Mother.” Diana went over to the alcove. “The Royal Necklace is still here.”
“Yes, we are fortunate.”
“But why would the thief take only one at a time?”
“It is a curiosity.”
Diana touched the Necklace. “I have an idea.”
& & & & & &
An hour passed as Hippolyta slept. The chamber door opened quietly and a shadowy figure entered. She glided over to the alcove.
Hippolyta sat up and Diana slipped out of the wardrobe. She put a finger to her lips.
The cloaked figure turned with the Necklace in her hands. Her hood fell back.
“Artemis!” Hippolyta said, getting out of bed. She had pretended to be asleep.
“Wait, Mother,” said Diana. “Look at her eyes.”
“They are glassy.”
“Yes, I believe she is sleepwalking.”
Hippolyta put on her wrap. “Let us follow her.”
Mother and daughter followed Artemis out of the Palace and to Artemis’ shop. They watched as the jewelsmith removed her cloak and began to polish the gems in the Necklace.
Diana whispered, “Did you have Artemis attend to your Crown Jewels recently?”
“Yes. They periodically need buffing and polishing,” Hippolyta answered in a whisper.
“She is a perfectionist. She must have felt she had done an inadequate job and is now driven to try again.”
Artemis lovingly polished the gems and gold. When she finished, she picked up the Necklace and placed it in a cabinet. Diana and Hippolyta saw the Crown and Scepter in the same cabinet. She put on her cloak and left the shop. Diana and Hippolyta followed her and watched Artemis return to her bed and sleep. They returned to Hippolyta’s bedchamber.
“Well, this mystery is solved,” Hippolyta said. “We will confront Artemis in the morning.” The Queen shook her head. “Poor thing. She will be mortified.”
“Yes, but it is good to know it was sleepwalking, not thievery.”
“Yes, thank Hera.” Hippolyta smiled at her daughter. “Excellent job, Detective. Worthy of Sherlock Holmes, or perhaps a Bat.”
Diana laughed and the women hugged. Diana returned to her bedchamber and slipped into bed after undressing.
Worthy of a Bat, indeed!
This story can also be read on AO3.
This entry has been cross-posted from Dreamwidth. Comment on either entry as you wish. :)