The Amazons didn't move.
"Anyone coming?" Celosia looked around.
The Amazons blinked, staring at her.
"They didn't know about your power,
remember?" Thalia whispered.
"Oh . . . right," Celosia blushed. "I
guess it's in the open now, isn't it?"
"What was that?" Aurora got the nerve to
"Well," Celosia wondered how to explain it.
"It's a power that's been passed down through the
generations, starting with the original Queen."
"A power that I didn't have," Medea cut in.
"Why didn't you tell me this?"
"I . . ." Celosia bit her lip. "Mom
didn't want me to tell you. She didn't want you to feel
like you weren't special enough, she wanted us to be
"Is that . . . is that why she asked you to be
queen on not me?" Medea's eyes grew glassy.
"That was why, Medea. She didn't care about you
any less than she cared about me."
"No, that's not the real reason!" Medea
burst out, surprising the others. Before anyone could
react, she ran off into the woods.
Xanthea tried to sit up again, but Hercules made her
lay back down. She sighed.
"Having trouble dealing with your new status as
patient?" Hercules asked.
"Well, that and I have a feeling I'm missing
something by being stuck here," she replied. She
sat up on her own. Hercules moved to get her to lay back
down, she shook her head. "I'm fine. Let me sit up
Hercules nodded. "Of course," he said.
"You're the trained healer around here. You'd know
what was best."
Xanthea smiled. "Could you get me some
water?" she asked. "I'm parched."
Hercules smiled and handed her a ladle of water.
"If you want, I can go see what . . ."
"Don't worry," she told him. "They
should be back soon. Well, most of them anyway."
"What do you mean?"
Xanthea shrugged. "I don't ask when I sense stuff
like that," she told him. "I just go with
Running circles in her head. Liars!
The word repeated in her head again and again,
pounding through the weakening barriers of her memory.
"LIARS!" It moved through her blood, her soul.
Through the very core of her being.
She wouldn't believe it. Couldn't believe it. There
had been so much more to it than that. There was so much
more pain lingering in her spirit. So many, many more
bruises on her soul.
"Silky, snake-ish, court-trained LIARS!" she
screamed so loud her voice went hoarse.
She was running-she didn't know where-but every breath
was becoming painful. Every second she was close to them
was sheer agony.
Just like the last time, she thought. It's "Just
like the LAST TIME!"
"Medea! Come back! Where are you?"
"NO! NO! SHE DIDN'T WANT ME! YOU'RE WRONG!"
She wasn't sure who she was yelling at, the Amazons
pursuing her or the screaming voices in her mind. They
were back and they were deafening.
She tripped on a root and tumbled harshly to the
ground, tearing her arm open from wrist to elbow in the
scramble to get back up.
They were getting closer, louder, more demanding.
"Go away . . . just go away . . ." she
sobbed, curling into a ball as she felt the voices
closing in on her, saw their hateful, blood-filled eyes.
"Help me . . . somebody save me . . ." she
whined as she felt a cold hand on her back.
Rise little one. I'll watch over you.
A light. A fiery, strong, warming light. A light that
chased away the icy voices and their razor sharp words.
Velasca? The fallen Amazon asked uncertainly. What was
real and what wasn't? She didn't know if she could tell
anymore. The last time she hadn't been able to.
Yes my child. Hurry, there isn't much time.
The blond woman nodded and got painfully to her feet,
staggering towards the goddess of chaos. The woman who
had taken her in when her mother had died, the only
woman who could save her from the voices.
Instantly she was filled with a raging heat and the
small tattoo on her shoulder felt like it was on fire.
She cringed and looked to Velasca for comfort.
Peace my child. All will be well soon. So soon . .
. Medea smiled as the goddess put a protective arm
around her and everything faded to a merciful black.
It didn't occur to her until much, much later how
ironic it was that the only way she could find peace was
to become an instrument of chaos.
Hercules had just set down the ladle Xanthea had been
drinking from when a short figure burst through the tent
entrance. Xanthea stared at the figure with surprise and
wonder, speechless. The figure hurried over toward
Xanthea and hugged her.
"I am your long lost sister," she revealed.
Xanthea replied, almost in tears, "I thought I
lost you forever!" Her arms clasped the newcomer to
her, squeezing her with love.
Hercules stared at Ollaea with dislike, but Xanthea
seemed to dismiss his presence so the girl did the same.
The wounded healer began to tell her sister what was
going on around camp, when another Amazon burst into the
door out of breath.
Xanthea looked over to the door, wondering who was
interrupting and what was going on. She recognized
Aurora standing in the entrance. "What is it?"
Aurora took a deep breath. "Mizera and her
Amazons are . . ."
"What?" Hercules asked.
Xanthea shook her head in disbelief. "Are you
"Well, it seems that way," Aurora told
Xanthea struggled to sit up, but Hercules again
stopped her. "You're not well enough to get up
She smiled. "I'll be fine. I want to be sure
Mizera is really gone." She looked to her sister.
"Come on Ollaea. I have some people you need to
Xanthea walked unsteadily out of the tent, Ollaea and
Hercules hovering behind her. She saw Celosia walking
back into camp, the other Amazons following behind,
questioning the harassed-looking Queen.
The group got to the middle of the camp, where Celosia
finally turned around to face her tribe. "Look it's
not something I asked for. I was just born with it and
warned not to use it if possible."
"But Celosia," Léda yelled from the back.
"Why wouldn't you tell us about your powers?"
Xanthea looked over her shoulder to Aurora.
"Powers? What powers are they talking about?"
Aurora shrugged. "I didn't see what
Celosia was now surrounded by her tribeswomen. She ran
a hand down her face, as if attempting to pull her
frustration from her mind. "Listen. I'm tired. I'm
cranky. I just had to fight someone I never expected to
see and I just found out she's also the person who
killed my mother. Not to mention my sister has gone
missing. If I promise to tell you everything I know
about these powers later tonight at the campfire, will
you give me a few hours peace?" The Amazons nodded.
"Thank you," Celosia said before striding off
towards the river.
The group turned towards Thalia. "Hey, Thalia,
you seemed to know about her powers."
"Yes, why didn't you tell us?"
"How long has she had them?"
Thalia held up her hands. "I'll explain along
with Celosia around the fire, it will come together
The Amazons sighed, but agreed to wait.
Thalia watched as Celosia vanished into the forest.
Celosia sat on the river's edge and let out a deep
sigh. She stared at the water running by, trying to sort
out everything in her mind. She heard rustling in the
bushes and turned around quickly. Grabbing a rock she
threw it into the bush.
"Ow!" Thalia emerged, rubbing her head.
"Remind me not to visit you anymore!"
"Oh, I'm sorry, Thalia." Celosia relaxed.
Thalia sat beside the Queen, wrapping her arms around
her legs. "Are you all right?"
Celosia shrugged. "It's just . . . everything
seems to have gone wrong lately. The men, Mizera, my
powers . . . everything."
"It's okay." Thalia put her arm around her.
"We'll explain the bit about your powers
"Will they forgive me for not telling them?"
"I'm sure they'll understand," said Thalia
reassuringly. "You were being cautious, not
"Yeah . . ." Celosia looked at the ground.
"It was strange seeing Mizera again, wasn't
Thalia sighed. "It's been so long since she left.
She used to be among our best friends, do you
Celosia nodded. "I never would have known. She
was the one . . . the one who tried to kill us."
Tears welled up in her eyes. "And mother . . . I
miss her so much!"
"I miss her too. It's okay, Celosia, we're here
for you." Thalia wrapped her arms around the Queen
in a comforting hug as tears ran down her face.
"We'll always be here for you."
The Amazons left in camp began to disperse. Léda too
charge, sending teams to different tasks through the
fledgling village. There were still huts to be built and
horses to tend, water and wood to gather, and food to
hunt down and cook.
"Hey!" piped a voice. "Who's that
Curiosity piqued once again, the Amazons crowded
around the newcomer. Xanthea and her sister exchanged
Xanthea looked to her Amazon sisters and back to her
biological sister. "I guess I should explain about
her," she said to everyone who had remained behind.
"This is Ollaea. She's my sister. My biological
She turned to her sister. "Anything you want to
tell my Amazon sisters about yourself?" she asked.
Wandering through details, Ollaea stared at Xanthea for a
second longer, then turned to the rest of the tribe. Speaking plainly, she said,
"My name is Ollaea and I have just come from a
tribe that was attacked and destroyed. When our Queen
was slain I ran to seek shelter with a water nymph named
Nephele that had befriended our village. She took me to
her house underwater to wait until the violence stopped
outside. I was there for many days. During that time I
had a vision that Xanthea was still alive. Nephele gave
me a bit of food and water, and sent me to go find
Belen came forward and asked, "How did you find
Her voice faltered a bit, but soon came back and she
replied, "Gabrielle told me that a tribe of Amazons
had just settled here at Themiscrya. I thought I should
come and at least find out if Xanthea was here, which
Belen thought for a moment, and then welcomed Ollaea
into the tribe. A wave of happiness was evident on
Ollaea’s face as she embraced Belen.
After the new Themiscryan finished explaining some
other details, Xanthea pulled her into a hut. "You
may sleep in here, but you will have to find a blanket
for I have none to spare. May I ask a question?"
With curiosity in her voice, Ollaea replied, "Of
"What was the battle you had mentioned?" she
The girl hesitated for a moment, as if debating how to
answer. "The Scythians wanted to tear down our
temple of Artemis. When we refused, they declared war on
Xanthea looked puzzled, then worried.