Reaching down, Jadea gently touched Thalia who reverted to
her human state. She winced somewhat and tried to get up.
"Easy, now," Jadea said softly and offered her hand
to help Thalia get to her feet. Though appearing a bit
disoriented, the Amazon seemed unharmed. She gave a faint smile,
her embarrassment at having been ambushed by an unseen attacker
"How did you two get here so fast?" She asked after
a few moments. Jadea gave Seriana a look. The latter caught her
meaning and began speaking to Thalia.
The Sorceress Empress wandered off the path a ways, examining
the ground and the trees that lined the hills on either side.
She was searching for evidence that would lead her to the
darkness reeking the area.
A soft, low whistle found her ear. Abruptly, she whirled
around on her heels, her sword raised with both hands. She was
met with a devilish smile, accompanied by two black eyes.
"Very impressive. Would you have been able to do that if
I hadn’t whistled?"
"Hades. It was you who struck Thalia down. Why?"
"I admire the way you handled my brother, Ares. He’s
quite content with playing out of his league." Though the
God of the Underworld spoke quite honestly, a partial smile
remained in his expression. Of all the Olympian Gods Jadea had
ever met, Hades was the only one who had yet to anger her or to
be angered by her.
"Why did you attack my Sister, Hades?" Jadea’s
voice became stronger. Her sword remained raised between them.
She took a step forward to illustrate her point.
Hades put his hands up. "I didn’t come to fight you. I
just needed your undivided attention."
"Well, ya certainly got it. Now, what do you want? I’m
pressed for time." Though sounding as irritated as she
actually was, Jadea still did not consider Hades a threat. He
didn’t have the will to be one. At least, not against her or
"Artemis, my sister . . . she has an unusual attachment
to the Amazons. I, myself, am fond of them. But their suffering
does not concern me the way that it does with her."
"Is there a point, or some kind of divine revelation
buried in there somewhere?" Jadea quipped briskly.
"Just this. Consider the consequences of your actions.
If the Amazon tribes divide, they will be wiped out."
"So . . . what? You're worried that the annihilation of
the Amazon Nation will crush your sister's spirit? Come on,
Hades. Even Ares could come up with something better."
Jadea turned and headed back to the path. Hades stopped her
by appearing in front of her.
"Think about this, Jadea. You know your niece is a
Goddess, but she was born of the Amazon world. So were you. I
just hate to lead good hearts into my domain . . .especially
when it can be averted."
With that, Hades disappeared. Jadea uttered a low growl. Gods.
She thought to no one in particular.
A rustle behind her made her jerk her head. She eyed the
bushes where the sound had derived.
She jumped out of the protection of the brush and landed
before her aunt, staff in hand.
Jadea smiled at the presence of her niece. "I see you
didn't take Ares' Godhood."
Samsara said nothing, then suddenly jumped up to the trees.
Just as quickly, Jadea vanished, avoiding the assault of a
volley of daggers. She reappeared and opened her eyes again,
The screams of a man came before a loud thud as he crashed
onto the ground. Samsara followed him, landing deftly on her
feet, crouched over his back. She sat on him and pulled his head
up by the hair. "Samsara," she whispered, slitting his
throat with her own dagger.
He gurgled protest and pleaded with her to spare him. Jadea
merely watched, knowing his comrades would come soon.
"How about," she said, "you tell me who sent
you and I let you out of this?" He paused in his answer.
She became more forceful, pulling his head higher, tearing the
wound more open. "You see, I'm not like Xena. I don't have
a conscience. You make me sweat, I make you die."
Jadea knew it. The Themiscyrans knew it. So did the Teloqians.
And now this man as the rest of Greece would come to this
realization. Samsara equaled ruthless. He assented with wide
She placed her hand on his wound and the cut disappeared,
curing him instantly. "Spill," she demanded.
And at that moment he called out a name she would never
expect to be involved in this. "K-Kakistos! It was Kakistos
Samsara was taken aback. Kakistos the Cruel? She
thought wildly. She shook her head. "You LIE!" she
screamed. Her sister? How could her sister be involved? Did
her sister possess so much hatred for all the Amazons that she
would do this? And why against Themiscyra and not Teloq? After
all, it was the Pentad of Elders Council of Teloq that banished
her for the term of Regent Ephiny's life. She was confused,
but that did not matter to her. She pulled back her dagger to
stab the man in the neck, but Jadea stopped her.
"You promised," she said, hoping to sway her.
She was successful, but there was no time for thanks or
congratulations. The sound of an army of hooves was fast
approaching. Seriana and Thalia ran to them. "What's going
on?" Thalia demanded. "I didn't see them!"
"You weren't supposed to..." Jadea remarked.
"If Hades set a trap," Samsara whispered. She
turned and saw ahead of her. Her mouth gaped open. The Highland
Amazons were making their approach and they wanted blood. Ares
and Kaia were working together... "We're being attack at
"Hades didn't set this trap. Ares did. I have to get to
Vorgeen before he does," Jadea stated.
"Who's Vorgeen?" Seriana asked instinctively.
"The leader of the Highland Amazons. This has set-up
written all over it," Jadea answered and growled.
"Seriana, you and Samsara do what you can to hold of
Kakistos. Thalia, there's a pass next to the river about a mile
from here. Ardra will show you where it is. You get to Queen
Celosia and tell her what's happened. With any luck, Ares will
get his war but played by our rules."
And to think that I ever thought you had lost your touch.
An intruder's thought invaded Jadea's mind. She ignored it for
Samsara was displeased with her aunt's plan. But the time for
discussing alternative solutions was at an end. They would only
get one shot at this.
The sisters looked ahead of them and saw the army fast
approaching. At their head was a warrior in a faceless mask.
Samsara looked at the leader and clapped her hands above her
head making all three horses appear. Prince and Deinus were
charging at each other as Thalia's horse stood and merely
watched. Thalia mounted her steed as Samsara and Seriana
attempted to quiet the mounts.
Seriana grabbed hold of Deinus' reins and screamed at him.
Samsara jumped on Prince as soon as she could and pulled back on
his bit. "You attack on him, Prince," she warned,
"I will change your bit and you will not like it!"
There was no time for argument but the horses continued their
attempts. Each stood on their hindquarters and screamed
challenges as their mistresses attempted to calm them.
Thalia had her sword ready. She was not a fan of killing, but
if she was the only one to fend these men off, then so be it.
"Prince!" Samsara screamed. Deinus was beginning to
calm once he understood the urgency of the situation.
"Smell who you'll attack!"
Prince immediately landed on his front hooves and reared his
head. His ruby eyes seemed to glow in anger when he knew who was
The three pulled out their swords. "Let's go!" The
three charged into battle.
What seemed a bad move was proven to be a good one. The sight
of three women running into battle against an army of 150+
stunned the men, because this wasn't any trio. This was two
daughters of Ares and a Biomorph.
The men quickly surrounded them as Samsara created a force
field around the Amazons for protection. The faceless leader
trotted around them for a bit, not saying a word.
It was unmistakably a woman. She wore a blood red dress that
fell in slits around her legs. The mask was black and created a
void around her head to mask her identity. As she went around
them, she studied Samsara especially.
"You didn't think you were obvious?" Samsara
shouted. "Those slavers you sent a bit back? Those weren't
Father's forces. They were yours all along!"
The mask disappeared and out was Kaia's pale face. Her cold
blue eyes bored into Samsara's dark chocolate brown. On her head
was the golden, bejeweled headdress she kept from one of her
raids. Her hair fell down to the waist and was just as raven as
Samsara's. She tossed her long mane and laughed. "Took you
long enough. But, that only means that I'm good at what I
"What's this an omen for?" the older sister
Samsara put her hand on her dagger, ready to kill her sister
if need be.
"No, no, no," Kaia said. "See, if you kill me,
you risk my army going ahead with its plan. And goddess or not,
dear older Sister, you can't stop them alone."
"I took down Criton's army."
"But do I have to remind you that Criton still
lives?" Kaia said with a smirk. She stopped her steed.
"Why don't we make a deal?"
Samsara spat in disgust.
She merely laughed. "You know this isn't my entire army.
And you know this is the way to Themiscyra. You also hopefully
note that the Highland Amazons want your blood and they are
marching onto the Thermadon River as we speak. So if you turn
over power of your army, perhaps I'll tell Daddy to call off the
Samsara laughed. "Makes sense now. All of this was for
you to get my army, and in the process, Father turns me dark.
The pieces fall into place. You want me to turn over my army,
and with a consolidated force of 600 men you intend to do what
your little black void of a heart desires. Meanwhile, Father,
being afraid of the Amazons, wants to either unite and subdue or
divide and conquer. He asks you to attack the villages in hopes
of wiping them out, and with the remaining numbers put them
together and weigh their survival on how fervently they revere
him instead of his sister...
"Of course, by then, I'm Dark Samsara, doing Father's
bidding and not caring about my sisters. Not only would he have
the Amazons dead or worshipping him, but he would have the power
of hind's blood in his possession through me. Subsequently he
would overthrow Zeus and Hera and start a reign of War
Worshipping. You get possession of my army in the process and
you will be content doing small-time raids." She laughed.
"Not bad, not bad."
Kaia looked at her, but knew Samsara had it all figured out.
Seriana smirked at Discord-spawn, having figured out most of her
plan as well. She knew Ares well. Thalia meanwhile, tried to
send a message to Samsara, but to no avail. She sent to Seriana
in hopes she would hear it.
Tell her to make it seem I'm still here . . . I need to get
to Celosia and warn her!
Seriana mentally nodded and used her biological connection to
reach Samsara, but that did not work. She tried again and
finally got her attention, letting her know. Samsara mentally
nodded and with as much free power as she could, she created a
The men, not ever having seen such a phenomenon, were hushed
and afraid that the world was coming to an end.
Thalia, Samsara said, Here's your chance. GO!
Thalia morphed into a gopher and burrowed her way out.
Samsara meanwhile created a solid image of Thalia, hoping that
Kaia would not call her bluff. Soon, the eclipse was over and
with that power, Samsara created another force field around the
"Don't think you'll be going anywhere soon,"
Samsara said, straining. She had stretched her ambrosia-less
power to the max. Seriana smiled.
I was right. Sami's a good person. She smirked at Kaia.
Kakistos crossed her arms. "Well, we'll see how long you
can hold this."
Meanwhile, Thalia got out as soon as she could. She'd have
told Samsara to just open a portal for her, but that would raise
Kakistos' suspicions as to where she was. Getting to Celosia
demanded that there be an element of surprise. Maybe Highland
and Themiscyra could join forces and attack Kakistos.
She burrowed out of the ground and transformed into a
greyhound. She had to get to the Queen and she had to get there
As the Sorceress reached Vorgeen, she became aware that she
was not alone. A loud hiss escaped her mind.
Queen Vorgeen had flaming red hair and emerald green eyes.
Around her neck, she wore a Celtic torque, which signified her
status in her tribe. Around both arms, she wore gauntlets that
bore the mark of the Highland Tribe. She was a fierce warrior
and had as sharp a blade as she did tongue. The armies in her
homeland feared Vorgeen, only the most foolish or wisest would
challenge her tribe.
"Whoa, hold!" Vorgeen raised her hand, halting her
warriors. She set her eyes upon the woman approaching her. When
Jadea was within earshot, the Amazon smiled. "A pleasant
"Vorgeen," Jadea gave a nod of recognition.
"Jadea, my Sister. I did not expect to see you . . .
alive." Her tone was acrid but her words were honest.
"He did not kill me, Vorgeen. There are times I wish
that he had," Jadea responded, knowing full well why the
Amazon thought her dead.
"At times, I second that wish. He crushed your spirit
with his cowardly act of deceit," Vorgeen glowered a bit
when she spoke of the man.
"No . . . he simply wounded it," Jadea returned,
her eyes set in an unusual nature. She hadn't come to speak of
him or debate any issues surrounding their past relationship.
"I see from your eyes that it is healed. May I then ask
why you are here?" Vorgeen took one step forward, for
reasons that only she might know.
"I should ask you first, but I have since discovered the
reason. You sent Angus to warn me about Ares. And now you are
here . . ." Jadea let her sentence go uncompleted. She
searched the Amazon's eyes, but she could find no ill intent
against her or her Themiscyra Sisters.
"You want to know if I came to fight by your side . . .
or your enemies'." Vorgeen completed what Jadea had left
unspoken. The Queen of the Highland Amazons knew the Sorceress
Empress well. Their hearts derived from the same lands, and
their blood held many of the same ties. In like respect, the
thoughts of one could easily read or be the thoughts of the
The fiery redhead stepped back, her eyes remaining on
Jadea's. Vorgeen's expression was steady and quite serious . . .
until the moment she broke into a wide smile. One that Jadea
instantly returned. They both had noticed the widespread
quietness of the warriors as each of them wondered and worried
if their Queen was about to fight Jadea.
Vorgeen laughed softly and stretched her hand out to Jadea
who instantly clasped it.
"'Tis good to have you back, Emerald Jade," she
said, and bowed her head. Emerald Jade was a name that only the
Highland Amazons knew her by. No one really knew who first began
to address her with it, but it had become a tradition for them.
"Thanks. Feels good to be back. Now . . . about this
war-" She began, her smile quickly fading into a more
"We're fightin' Kaia Kakistos and her army. Am I
right?" Vorgeen cut in, her expression also now set into a
"We're fighting more than that, my Sister. Ares, God of
War, has concocted this little scheme. Kakistos is just half the
piece of the broken key to it." She replied and made a
quick glance over Vorgeen's shoulder. The awe in one of the
warrior's eyes had caught her attention. She flashed a gentle
smile when she saw that Jadea had met her eye.
"What are we waitin' for, then? Let's do some
damage." At that, all the Amazons behind and around her
gave a loud war cry.
Vorgeen walked over to a horse in her cavalry. The
magnificent creature was pure white without a speck of any other
hue. He had no rider, but did not object to being led from the
group over to Jadea. Vorgeen smiled and offered the reins to
her. The Sorceress Empress looked up from the horse only to say,
"Just when I think I have lost a piece of my heart, you
show up to give it back to me."
Jadea mounted and whispered to the horse beneath her body. He
reared up on his back legs and charged down the valley. Vorgeen
was quickly mounted and charging beside her.
We're going to have split up. You take half one way and I
half the other. Kakistos came as one unit.
A loud whistle was given and soon, two branches of Amazons
were fast approaching the battle. Their hooves made a terrible
thunder shake the ground.
They arrived just in time, it seemed. For Samsara was growing
weaker by the moment. She had recently learned what Rumyna
taught her apprentice long ago: Never exert your powers too long
or too quickly. The grander or more prolonged the spell, the
more it weakens the spell caster.
"Sami, they're here," Seriana told her Sister. She
could hear the Amazon cries, for an Amazon war cry is
distinctive no matter the tribe or variation of it. To a fellow
Amazon, it can be the most exhilarating and inspiring music . .
. or the most terrifying and death-foreboding sound . . .
depending on whether that Amazon is fighting with her own or
Vorgeen lead those that approached behind Kakistos. Her goal
- to keep them from retreating and to push them into the forest.
On the other side, nearest Samsara, Jadea lead Amazons of her
former tribe into battle. All the while, she secretly prayed for
a miracle - that Thalia and Ardra would soon be arriving with
Thalia felt the branches clawing at her face as she whipped
through the forest, racing as fast as she could behind Ardra.
The woods raced past her as she ran as fast as her four thin
legs would carry her. Just a little further before . . .
The ground exploded in front of her. Startled, she tried to
stop, but her momentum carried her, clawing at the ground, until
she rammed into a bush. Quickly getting to her feet, her eyes
darted around, looking for the source.
"Well, well, well, what have we here?" Ares stood
over the greyhound, arms crossed and a smirk on his face.
"Did you really think you Amazons could fool us that
Thalia stood her ground, her legs braced should she need to
sprint out of the way.
Ardra, she sent to the bird, hoping she could understand.
Ares doesn't know you're here. Get to Celosia, see if you can
warn her or bring her to the others. Give her a hawk feather.
A hawk feather was a symbol from long ago between Thalia and
Celosia that something was wrong, to be prepared for danger.
I'll hold him off for now, I'll join you if I can get past him.
The bird hesitated, but Thalia barked. Go! Ardra took off
through the forest.
Thalia was caught off guard as Ares grabbed her by the scruff
of the neck and held her to his face. "You think you
Amazons can defeat me?" He snarled. "Your petty
fighting will be no match for this God."
Thalia snarled and bit his hand, he howled in pain and
dropped her, sending a lightening bolt after her. Thalia barely
managed to dodge it. "So, you wanna play rough, eh?"
Ares rubbed his sore hand. "I can play rough . . ."
Thalia bared her teeth, knowing that her sisters would do
more damage with Ares distracted. She only hoped Celosia would
understand Ardra's message . . .
This is great! This is just great! Here I was thinking things
couldn't possibly get any worse . . . and that stinking,
leather-clad, good-for-nothin' God of War shows up. Ardra
thought angrily. She wheeled higher to get a better view. The
Themiscyrans weren't far away, but there was still the obstacle
of getting them to the battlefield.
Know what reeeaaallly ruffles my feathers though? She
asked to no in particular. Speaking to myself to keep from
going utterly insane in these situations.
Hello Ardra! My you're looking well up there.
The hawk slowed her flight and looked down and to her left in
time to Angus on horseback. The sight of him was just the boost
Medea! Celosia! Heads up! She used all her mental
energies to warn them. It must have worked, for several heads
tilted upward and someone's arm pointed up. Diving down, she
landed on the pommel of one of the horses’ saddles.
All right, now how do I make you understand?
Angus rode up. He smiled at the hawk before turning his
attention to the Amazons.
"Lovely day for a battle, ladies. Don't you think?"
Great, just what I need, a baby-sitter. Ardra’s
thoughts were clear to Angus, and she knew it. She gave a cry
out loud to voice her displeasure, hoping the Amazons would take
Medea drew her sword, ready to cut out his heart.
As appealing as that was Ardra, she knew it wouldn't sit well
with Jadea. The hawk flew up from the pommel and dropped down on
the end of her blade.
The startled Regent stared open-mouthed at the strange
actions of the little creature. As she watched, Ardra began to
inch carefully along, finally pricking a feather loose.
About that time, Queen Celosia moved her horse closer to her
sister. She saw the feather on the ground, looked from Ardra to
Medea and then to the stranger.
"Look, ladies . . . as much as the thought of submittin'
to you is tempting, we've got trouble. As I speak, the Highland
Amazons along with your own good Sisters are fighting Kaia
Kakistos. Thalia would have come to tell you, but Ares waylaid
her. She sent the hawk," he indicated the bird settled on
the tip of Medea’s sword. "On ahead. Now, we should be
Ardra flew up from the sword and dropped down beside the
feather she’d loosened. She grabbed it in her beak and flew
over the Queen, letting it float delicately down. Celosia caught
it and eyed the stranger on horseback and the bird. The meaning
of a single hawk feather was not lost on her.
"Lead on," she told the man.
"Are we ready?" Medea shouted. The women were
mounted on their steeds, ready for a fight. She looked at the
bird and cocked her head. I need to get a swipe against that
upstart, Samsara, she thought wildly.
"You heard her, ladies," Celosia said.
Kaia merely watched as her older sister grew weaker by the
second. "It's only a matter of time, Samsara!" she
said. "Only a matter of time before you lose your power to
sustain that bubble. So how about we make that deal? If you
don't listen and that bubble dies . . . well, Seriana dies, and
I think I'll be the proprietor of that little pendant of yours.
Either way I win. You decide by how much."
"You won't win a damn thing," the Goddess
responded. She knew and her sister knew that help was coming and
even if the forcefield were to die at that very instant, they
knew help would come. "So how about you just take your men
and leave before they fight a losing battle?"
Kaia laughed again. "Why do you insist on fighting for
these shrieking women? They will die but the gods live on."
Seriana sensed more danger. Thalia's in trouble, she
sent to her sister.
Samsara mentally nodded. She can fend for herself right
now. Father has her.
Kaia took note of Seriana's expression, but before she could
say anything, she snapped her fingers and her men took arms.
"Did you think you could distract me long enough to not
notice an offensive by those Highland witches?"
Samsara's bubble vanished. "Yes," she said,
feigning weariness. She gripped the reins of her horse, but fell
off on her left hip onto the dusty ground.
Kaia laughed. "Hiyeeeeeeeeh!" she yelled, sending
her men into battle as Vorgeen’s Amazons appeared behind them.
She rode her horse toward her older sister. Seriana rushed to
defend Samsara from a soldier, fighting as well as ever.
Kakistos reached her in seconds. She had her sword drawn.
Reaching down she said, "Dance."
Samsara propped herself up with her elbow and with her right
hand she pulled out her sword. She stuck the blade into the
ground and pushed herself up with it and held the weapon in
front of her. "Dismount," she said weakly.
The hotheaded younger did and laughed. "Time for you to
realize that being the older means not being the stronger."
"Shut up and fight." They fought, Samsara playing
weak. Soon, Kaia had her on her knees and the sword on the base
of her neck.
"Give me the pendant."
Samsara held her sword in her hands. She looked up at Kaia
and glared. "Never."
Kaia cackled. "How about you spend all of eternity in
six pieces?" She raised her sword high, ready to swing
down, when Samsara jumped up and kicked her in the chest.
"How about not?" she said, snarling. She mounted
her horse and sheathed her sword, pulling out her staff and
charging into battle. She felt Jadea coming. It was time.
Denius surged through the battle, in his element, following
his breeding and training. Steel-shod hooves trampled anything
that moved along the ground. Seriana could barely control him
enough to keep him from beating down wounded Amazons. She just
had to hang on and try to survive the ride.
A scream rose from somewhere quite nearby. Not a normal
battle-scream, but a real scream of phenomenal suffering.
Seriana froze and turned towards it.
Kaia had an Amazon girl by the throat and cut it . . . just
enough to let her stay alive on a battlefield where no healer
could possibly reach her.
"And she is of my blood . . ." Seriana hissed.
"Come on, Denius. Come on."
He turned like black lightning, leaping over several Amazon
wounded and charging for Kaia.
The goddess' blue eyes met her sisters', one sharp and the
other bright. Kaia smiled. Seriana kept her face stony and
buried her mortal terror deep inside her, to come out in a rush
of tears once the battle was over.
Denius halted and shook his mane, snorting. Seriana steadied
herself gracefully on his back and ordered, "Fight."
Kaia laughed when she saw her other do-gooder
sister charging toward her. She knew Seriana wanted her blood.
"So I see you've come to have some fun," she shouted
over the din of battle.
"Fight," Seriana simply said.
Their swords clashed. Seriana meant business.
Kaia was reminded of a time when her sister had trained with
their father, Ares. She did not let the memory of that long-ago
mock-battle ruin her concentration. She did win, her
wayward mind reminded. "Not bad for a Xena
sympathizer," she observed.
The Themiscyrans are coming, Ares said inside Kaia’s
mind. She frowned at the news, although she was pleased the plan
was moving along the expected route. However, her army was
losing ground against the Amazons.
She fought harder against Seriana. Her blade sliced up and
arched down with blinding speed. Her sister parried and thrust
in at stomach level, missing by mere inches.
Kaia smiled. "Missed me." She looked over at her
other half-sister, Samsara and winked broadly. There was no way
Seriana could win this battle. Do you think I can finish her
off? She mentally asked her Goddess sister.
Samsara, fighting against Kaia’s main leader Stephanus,
caught the wink and the message and understood the malicious
thoughts driving it. Her power was weak, however, after having
caused an eclipse so Thalia could escape. She thrust against the
man, trying to shove him away so she could reach Seriana and
protect her from Kaia.
The evil Goddess signaled her leader with a quick hand
gesture. He nodded understanding and held his ground against
Samsara. His battleaxe moved into a killing position.
Samsara said nothing, but as Stephanus brought his axe to
killing level, she dropped her sword and grabbed her staff.
Kaia paused. The accursed staff I made into her talisman.
Her sister had no clue why it was the key to her powers before
ambrosia, but she knew to keep it nearby. Samsara lifted the
thing high in the air and seemed to grow stronger. She created a
fireball in her hand and Stephanus’ eyes widened and looked to
Gods, that woman has Callisto in her! Kaia thought.
Samsara’s fireball slammed into Stephanus, killing him in a
blaze of heat and power. Remnants of the force washed over Kaia,
causing her to stumble away from Seriana who had also turned to
watch her Amazon sister kill the warrior.
Samsara turned from the smoking spot where Stephanus had been
to face Kaia. The Goddess launched herself into the air, did a
somersault and impacted her feet against Kaia’s chest,
knocking her over. Both dropped to the ground, Samsara rolling
and coming to her feet while Kaia sprawled across the ground.
Lazily, Samsara moved around and put a foot against Kaia’s
chest, holding her down. She smiled and straddled her sister,
sitting on her stomach as she drew her dagger with her free
hand. Leaning in, she whispered, "How about you call off
"Hiyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh!" Kaia screamed. Her troops
began backing away from the Amazons, holding their weapons in
non-threatening positions. Vorgeen and Jadea looked at each
other and smiled.
They claimed victory. But Kaia intended on claiming one of
"We're taking your troops now," Samsara said to her
in a low demonic voice.
Kaia laughed. She has too good a heart to kill me.
"You wouldn't kill me. Killing your sister is worse than
killing your father," she reminded. "The Furies will
haunt you till the end of time."
Samsara shook her head. "Perhaps. But I'm better than
killing you." She moved off her sister’s chest and raised
her staff toward the Amazon whose throat Kaia had cut. The girl
stood and clutched her healed throat, looking around in a
Damn her. Damn her to Tartarus! Kaia thought as
The Great Destroyer pointed her dagger at her sister.
"Take your men, yourself, and what little dignity you have
left and get out of here."
Kaia waved her hand and her men backed away to positions
behind her. She eyed her sister for a moment, measuring Samsara’s
resolve. Kaia found coldness in her sister’s eyes and a steely
purpose to her movements.
Kaia smiled and bowed to her sister with exaggerated motions.
Then she turned and followed her army off the field of battle.
The victory here was mine, Samsara, Kaia thought. You
threatened me and meant it. You are turning dark. I can feel it.
Father will be so pleased.
Let me kill her, Jadea, Vorgeen sent what sounded like a
plea to the Sorceress Empress.
Jadea ever so slightly shook her head. She glanced up in the
sky and saw her guardian hawk. Angus isn't with me, Jade,
Ardra told her Mistress who already knew the reason.
Patience, Ardra, patience, Jadea returned in her Celtic
brogue. She looked at Samsara and saw that the Goddess was still
watching the retreating army and her sister. Her niece might be
willing to allow the army to leave, but she was not.
"Amazons attack!" She shouted and instantly there
was a ruckus of battle cries and screams as the Amazons ran
toward the retreating army. There was the sound of clashing
swords as Kaia's men turned to face the women.
Queen Celosia searched for Samsara and Jadea. She found the
The Sorceress Empress fought with both her sword and her
powers. Alternating between sending a man flying backward to
piercing the flesh with her sword - Callisto's sword.
"Jadea!" Queen Celosia yelled over the battle.
Before Jadea could turn and answer, she sent a fireball into
three men charging towards Queen Vorgeen. "Jadea! Where's
Samsara? And Thalia?"
"Thalia's getting help. Samsara . . ." Jadea looked
around for her niece. She spotted Seriana putting a dead Amazon
onto a horse. Where IS she? Jadea thought in desperation.
She was usually exceptional at keeping track of where people
were in battle.
She's on her horse, Jade. I saw her and Kaia on mounts
heading away from the battle. Ardra said grimly.
Good? Ardra asked in a shocked voice.
Yes. Ares wants Samsara dark, at any price. He'll get his
wish. Ardra follow them. If it looks like Samsara is about to
kill Kaia . . .don't let anything or anyone stop her. The
Sorceress Empress ordered.
Jade? Is that wise? Ardra circled around in Vorgeen's
view. Vorgeen understood the reason and began knocking men out
of her way. She gave a loud cry that signaled to her warriors to
push the men farther forward.
Wise? No. Clever . . . oh yeah.
Thalia gasped and panted as she dove out of the way of
another fireball Ares casually sent her way. He wasn't giving
her time to morph.
Stupid, stupid, STUPID Gods! She thought angrily to
herself as a fireball singed her fur. He was keeping her from
the battle. There was nothing more she wanted than to fight
alongside her sisters, they needed all the help they could get.
Amazons are strongest when together.
"Growing tired, are we?" Ares smirked, summoning
lightening in his hand. "As we speak your Amazon sisters
are being defeated by Kaia Kakistos and her army."
Thalia glared but kept silent. She knew Ares was just cocky
enough to believe that, and if she could keep him with her then
the Amazons still and a chance with one less God to battle.
CRACK! She yelped in surprise as the lightning exploded
beside her, sending her flying. She scrambled to her feet,
"Not so easily defeated, are we?" Ares crossed his
arms. "Well, you see, my little biomorph, I have a little
animal help of my own." He snapped his fingers and three
wolves appeared behind him. Thalia knew these were no ordinary
wolves, her ability to speak to them would be useless.
She looked around. Should she run? Could she get him
distracted enough to let her morph? Before she could think, the
Ares smiled at the snarls and yelps of the scrambling flashes
of fur. "This should be fun."
Seems I've arrived just in time.
Thalia heard a foreign tongue send a thought to her. She
recognized it immediately as belonging to the charming stranger,
Angus. He strode up on horseback and Ares turned his head.
His eyes got a thoughtful, almost humored light to them.
"You! Haven't I killed you somewhere before?" Ares
asked, the cockiness of his tone was minute but still there.
Angus smiled, shifting his eyes to Thalia who was having a
time of it fending off Ares' wolves. "Here's a little tip
for ya. Never pit a wolf against an Amazon. Know why?" He
began speaking an incantation in Gaelic.
Ares conjured a lightning bolt to stop him, but it was too
late. The wolves turned on their conjurer. The God of War turned
and began running with the wolves at his heels. After a few
minutes of this hysterical sight, Angus and Thalia saw Ares come
to his senses and wink out. The wolves vanished with him, the
"Because a wolf and an Amazon both have terrible mood
swings," Angus cheerily answered his own question. He
dismounted and walked over to Thalia, offering his hand. She
reluctantly accepted it, and pulled herself up to her feet.
For some reason she hadn't had time to mull over, when Angus
did whatever it was he had done to the wolves, she had reverted
to her human self. There were many things about the man she
didn't know. But because he DID save her life, she had to give
him some trust - if not the benefit of the doubt.
"Up you go, milady," he said, offering her his
"I have to get to Queen Celosia. I have to . . ."
"You have to help your Sisters. And they're on the
battlefield. I have my orders. Now you can ride the horse, or I
can rope you and drag you there," he said, completely
serious. Deep in his eyes was a glint of his natural charm.
"But wait, how will you get back?" Thalia asked
after she'd mounted.
"Don't ya worry about me, none. Just go straight back
the way you came and head right. There's a big, bloody battle a
stirrin' there. Ya can't miss it. Good luck," he said,
slapping the horse's rear. By the gods, I hope Jade knows
what she's doin'.
She does, and if you weren't so bloody damn daft, you'd see
it. A voice behind him caused him to whirl around. In front
of Angus, stood a rather large, rather ferocious looking white
Neeko, Angus said, half-smiling. So, who sent ya?
Ach, no. Much worse than that. Jadea sent me to fetch ya.
Said that ya were in over your head, that I might need to catch
the seam of your pants to keep your arse from catchin' fire.
Neeko and Angus weren't exactly the best of friends. But they
had one thing in common - their mutual love for Jadea. Both knew
Climb aboard, Neeko said. The man eyed the wolf
dubiously. I’m strong enough and Jadea wants you back at
Cirra. Just don't get too comfortable. I can throw ya harder
than a horse.
Meanwhile, on the battlefield . . .
Vorgeen saw one of the Themiscyrans on the ground, fallen
from a mortal wound. A large soldier hovered over her, ready to
strike the death blow. He never got it in, though. A dagger
pierced the back of his neck. Vorgeen rushed over and kicked him
out of the way. She reached down to take the mask off the
"By the gods..."
As she followed her sister, Samsara's mind raced at about the
pace of Pegasus himself. She wasn't sure what she wanted to do
to her sister, but it was going to be some kind of damage.
I've had enough of this, she thought, feverishly. Kaia
must pay for what she's done.
Suddenly, "Ahhhhhhh!" the Mistress Kakistos was
pushed off her horse. She fell onto the ground and her horse
continued on. "Raven!" she screamed. The horse stopped
and snorted as he turned around. She propped herself on her
elbows and blew her hair off of her face in time to see Samsara
The Goddess dismounted and stood before Kaia. She pulled out
her dagger, still stained with blood. She took her staff and
pushed her sister down onto the ground roughly.
"Down," Samsara held her head up high, studying her
"How did you set this trap for me?" Kaia knew
Samsara had placed this ahead of time. The only question was how
she had the time to do it. Samsara had had no clue about Kaia's
involvement until it was too late.
"It doesn’t matter now," Samsara answered. She
threw her staff down and put her foot in its place, kneeling
down on Kaia’s chest. When she was within inches of Kaia's
nose, she whispered, "Samsara . . ."
That very word was known to have determined the fate of
everyone she had ever privately killed. My life has come full
circle, she thought.
Taking a firm grip on her dagger, Samsara garroted her
sister, mouthing something in the process. Kaia disappeared soon
Samsara’s eyes became entirely black as she stood. The
effects of the ambrosia had worn off some time ago, changing her
eyes from bright red whites to ice blue. Now they changed again,
this time to a color that was blacker than night.
She stretched her arms out and an updraft lifted her loose,
jet-black hair. Instead of her brown one-sleeved tank, her shirt
was now black sleeveless tank top. A black leather gauntlet,
this one just for the forearm, appeared on her exposed left arm,
made of Hephaestian black steel.
She turned. "Father," she said.
He appeared as if on cue. "You called?" Samsara
has gone dark! He thought gleefully, surveying her changed
appearance. She'll now come at my beck and call!
She stretched her arm toward her father and created a thick
force field around him. "Not so much," she responded.
"I am my own woman. When will you understand this?"
He attempted to get out of the trap by hitting the field, and
got an electric shock in the process. Frustrated, he threw
lightning bolts, but those bounced back and hit him as well.
"There’s no point in attempting to escape,
Father," she said, picking up her staff. "You'll be
spending a good while in there. You've done enough damage to my
Tribes and my Sisters."
"And who will be God of War?" he demanded.
She smiled and stepped close to the field she’d created.
With a word, she reached into the field and extracted his sword.
"I will be. I will take your place until you've cooled in
your interest in my Sisters."
He snarled. "You are Dark Samsara. You killed Kaia
Kakistos. Now the Furies and the Olympians will be after
She fondled the pendant around her neck. "When will you
realize that this is mine and solely mine? No God or Goddess
will assail me. And with you momentarily out of the way, no one
will be unnecessarily hurt."
She snapped her fingers and the box he was in disappeared
into the heavens with him in it. She smiled as she held the
sword in her hand. She created another scabbard around her waist
and sheathed the weapon. She mounted her horse and made Raven,
Kaia's steed, disappear to the Olympian stables.
As she picked up the reins, Prince snorted and bobbed his
head. She threw the staff into the catch on the saddle and
Looking around her, Jadea caught wind of a familiar stench. A
reeking odor that was utterly distinguishable from the blood and
death on that battle grounds. Suddenly the sky blackened and a
horrendous thunder blasted from above. Jadea bent her head back
and gazed upward, a slow and satisfied grin beginning to take
shape on her lips.
It is done. She thought, a growing sense of relief and
victory flooding the veins in her body.
"Kaia Kakistos is dead!" She shouted to the
remaining men who fought the Amazons. "Lay down your
weapons, and you will all be spared!" Jadea had a natural
gift for making herself heard when she wanted.
Kaia's men abruptly stopped each looking around at the other,
exchanging curious and questioning glances. One of the men, with
blood on his face, stepped forward and laid his sword on the
ground. The rest of the men followed his action.
"Jadea! Come quick!" It was Vorgeen. She was still
with the fallen Amazon. The Sorceress Empress was by her side in
"That is not all. Look!" Vorgeen's arm pointed
"Impossible." Jadea muttered, knowing she was
wrong, desperate to believe otherwise. Vorgeen hit her arm and
Jadea came to her senses. "Help me get her on a horse. We
have to pull back to the forest near the temple."
"Wait, we can't retreat." Vorgeen said, taking the
Amazon's arm around her neck.
"We won't. But with the forest and Artemis' temple,
we'll make a stand against them."