Amazons Divided


The faceless, formless masses of black-cloaked Majie continued to follow Prince and Seriana as the horse galloped as fast as he could -- which was rather quickly. Only Raven, Kaia's horse, could match his speed when the urgency overcame him.

These Majie were nothing like what Samsara had seen before in her short time. It's interesting how she was only eight summers old and seemed, looked, and acted - sometimes - older than her seasons and knew many things she would rather sometimes forget.

But it was no time to reminisce. She continued to scale the canopy of trees as she raced toward Themiscyra. Maybe fear had struck a chord in her, because she was unable to communicate with Jadea. The ability is fleeting at times, but it exists. She just couldn't access it now. The Majie were fast advancing.

She jumped down further ahead of them and put her hand up. She concentrated and used all her and Ares' energies to shake the ground violently, creating a vast chasm between her and the assassins. But they crossed anyway.

She was frozen where she was. What now? She asked herself. She had no choice. She pulled out her and Ares' swords. "Father, don't fail me now," she said to no one in particular. She twirled the weapons in anticipation.

Suddenly a circular blade sliced through the air, ricocheting off of trees. The weapon whizzed back and suddenly, the trees surrounding the chasm came crashing down, pulling the assassins into the abyss.

Samsara's head was the only part of her body to whip to the right, the direction from whence the weapon came. Her eyes became tiny slits when she focused on the bearer of the weapon and her body became rigid.

She sheathed the swords and pulled out her mother's. She kept the weapon by her side, not in an attack position. "I had them," she simply said.

"I'm sure you did. But they don't have time for that," the raven-haired, fair-eyed woman responded. "Besides, they aren't the only ones," the tall woman indicated a shorter, fair-haired woman.

Samsara glanced at the blonde and her eyes widened slightly. "I take it you're headed to Themiscyra?"

They had a ways to go.


Meanwhile, Ardra was waiting for a response.

Jadea smiled. She knew who should read it. Antigone, she sent back.

Will do, the hawk responded.


"We are," said the blonde. "Who are you?"

Samsara raised her head a little, matching the posture of the Warrior Princess. "My name is Samsara. I am many things, not the least of which is that I am the daughter of your two arch-nemeses."

Xena cocked an eyebrow. "Are you?"

"But I am also the blood sister of your protectorate and friend. She needs to get back to the village."

Gabrielle's mouth fell open as she looked at the translucent figure slung across Prince's back. "By the Gods . . . Seri . . . "

"Half of Seri," Samsara corrected. "She needs to get home, as quickly as possible, to join with her other half."

"I knew we shouldn't have left her with Ephiny," Xena said under her breath. "All right, Samsara . . . let's get her to wherever she needs to go, and then you and I can have a talk."

Samsara nodded. "I think that, all things considered, that would be the wisest thing to do."


Begrudgingly, but knowing it was for the best, she let Xena take Seriana in her arms. Samsara mounted Prince and glared as the Warrior Princess moved to pull the shroud off of Seriana's face.

"Don't you dare," Samsara warned. "She doesn't want anyone to see her face." Her look was fierce as she kept her teeth rigid and a tight control over her temper.

She was mounted next to the woman who killed her mother! The taste for revenge rose up like bile, but she sided with her "better judgment" -- that being what's best for the tribe -- and decided to deal with the Warrior Princess later. The priority was her sister.

Meanwhile, Ardra circled the skies for the Amazon huntress and found her cleaning her weapons by a plate of food.

Humans, the hawk buzzed. Always eating. Who do they think they are? Me? She continued to circle the area until she caught Antigone's attention -- which didn't take long in fact, since Antigone had a good sense of things. Correction: a great sense of things.

"You can drop that whenever you want," she called to the red-tail.

If a hawk could raise its nose, that's what Ardra did. You don't realize I could drop other things on you, but we won't get into that. She swooped down and landed on the table. The Huntress took the note and read, rising with urgency.


"We have the one we seek, he said.

If the other could smile, he did. "Yes."

"We need to keep the Goddess Amazon from reuniting the forms of the Fire Demon."

"Perhaps it is for the advancement of our plan that the Silver Hawk be reunited with her earthly form. Remember that we have one of our own among their ranks. A Majie walks with them. A Majie eats with them. A Majie sleeps in the same hut as they, and looks, acts, feels, speaks like an Amazon. The plan seems too perfect."

"Good observation. We shall see how this plays out. The Goddess Amazon, this Kakistos, is a problem that must be solved."

"She is too powerful," remarked the other.

"Perhaps we could use that, her hate, and her unhappiness to our advantage."

Meanwhile, the three rode back to Themiscyra. Samsara observed the two out of the corner of her eye. She could barely get the image of Xena stabbing Callisto out of her mind, but she did with all she could.

Themiscyran gates peeked out from the protection of the forest. They were back. Samsara cried a birdcall and the gates opened upon recognition.

"Xan!" she shouted as she dismounted. Without word to Xena, she grabbed Seriana from her and ran to the Medic hut. She burst into the doors and laid the translucent Seriana onto her mortal body before Xanthea could do anything.

Xena and Gabrielle followed her in and watched as Seriana's color returned.

Samsara smiled. But that smile would not last for long. When she realized that her sister still would not awaken, anger overtook her. She rose from the pallet with a steel look and gripped the hilt of Ares' sword.

Xena had noticed the unmistakable weapon when they met earlier, but thought it to be a mistake. She’d had time to study the hilt on their ride, and was now positive. Things to deal with later, she thought.

Serena burst into the hut in her usual manner, followed by her entourage of Imperial Guard. "Gabrielle," she said with a strained voice.


The Goddess turned. "You know her?" she asked of the both of them. She wasn't sure what to think. She knew damn well with whom she was dealing. The question was incredulous and although it would show one's lack of knowledge, that was not the case here. Simply put, the fact that the Chief Elder of the Teloan Council and the sitting Teloan Queen knew each other and were together in Themiscyra only complicated matters.

Before Gabrielle could say anything, the Chief Elder snapped: "We have no time for that. I only have time for you, Xena. I don't like this plan you have."

Antigone had gotten to her and given her the note. The Teloan Elder was not happy with it, and against the calmness of Vorgeen, Celosia, and Medea, Serena intended to speak with the Warrior Princess as soon as she arrived.

And speak they did.


Gabrielle was worried about Seriana. No matter how the Amazon grew, the bard always saw her as a poor abused child. Xena went off to deal with things - Serena, for one thing, and Samsara and the Majie somewhere near the bottom of the list. Gabrielle had every intention of letting Xena handle the politics while she would worry about Seri. That was her job.

She was breathing easy, in a light but steady sleep. Seriana's color was better, but she wasn't stirring. Gabrielle sat on a stool near the bed and worried to her heart's content.

She jumped and scrambled for something to hold onto when, a few minutes later, Seriana arched her back as hard as she could and screamed loud enough to wake the dead. Gabrielle shouted for someone to help her and attempted to hold down the thrashing girl.

"Seri, wake up!" she ordered, shaking her. "Come on, wake up!"

Seriana continued to scream for a few seconds before the sudden burst of energy failed her. She fell limply to the pallet and lay, her eyes still closed, breathing hard.

"The Queen . . ."

"Seri, can you hear me? Wake up; it's okay. Xena! Xena!"

"I have to help the queen."

Gabrielle bent close to her friend. "What?"

"The queen . . . "

"Yes, Seri, the queen, I understand. But which queen? And why do you need to help her?"

"She's here . . ."

"There's no one here but me, Seri."

"No, no, not here . . . here . . . with me . . . we can't both of us fit in here."


"In my head . . . Celosia . . . she won't talk to me . . . I don't think she's okay."

"Why not? What is she doing in your head?"

"I'm tired . . ."

Her breathing slowed abruptly and she went limp. Gabrielle tried vainly to wake her up again, but had no success and a few minutes later Xena came dashing in.

"She woke up!" Gabrielle announced. "She said something about Queen Celosia needing help."

"What?" Xena knelt down and felt Seriana's forehead. "Why would Queen Celosia need more help than she's got?"

"Seri said Celosia was in her head."

Xena bit her tongue, but outwardly did not expose her worry. "If Celosia's in Seri's head, then who's in Celosia's head?"

"That's not the question," Samsara said. She'd come in so quietly that nobody noticed. "The question is: if Celosia is the Majie spy, how do we prove it? Only Gabrielle heard this. Distrust is moving like fire through these camps. Practically the only one that everyone will rally around is Celosia -- how do we get anyone to believe that she isn't who she says she is?"


The Majie spy quietly slipped away from the tent the Amazons occupied. This was working perfectly, the three Amazons thought Queen Celosia was the spy, and bringing up this news would only lead to more distrust and breakage of the bonds between them. It couldn't have gone better if they'd tried. The Majie smiled to itself and walked back into the center of the village to blend in with the crowd.


The tension mounted in the room as the three looked at each other.

So many things to deal with, but the priority is my sister, Samsara thought. She was apprehensive about what Seriana had said. Even she, who was more loyal to blood than anything else, doubted what Seriana had to say, but having entered her head earlier in the day, how could she?

The chants of Amazons worshipping the rise of Selene could be heard inside. The sky was almost clear, light translucent clouds skimming across the near full moon. Samsara ordered an attendant to keep an eye on her sister as she and the others walked outside.

"We need to go someplace where no one will listen in on us," she commented to no one in particular. They made their way to her hut and opened the door. Shutting it behind her, the incense and the candles lit up almost immediately. The room immediately smelt of sandalwood and jasmine.

The bard and the warrior took a seat on Samsara's pallet. Samsara herself crouched down and supported her back against the wall. If she could feel tired, that is how she would describe the feeling racing through her body.

"This isn't precisely the way I wanted to meet," she said quietly.

Xena understood what the Goddess meant. Samsara had wanted to confront Xena in battle. It's what she had always dreamed of.

"But we are here and we must deal with the circumstances accordingly," she continued.

"I think we know that, Samsara," the raven-haired woman said. "What do you know?"

Samsara begrudgingly filled them in on everything. She was worried. What to do, what to do? She asked herself desperately. She wanted more than anything else to use Callisto's sword--

"Callisto's sword..." she muttered.

Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other as the High Princess stood up and rushed out the door. She knew exactly where Jadea was. She had to ask questions.


Jadea wasn't in the first place Samsara had expected her to be. In fact, she wasn't actually in the second place either. But Samsara had immediately skipped that one and gone to the third. Xena followed her and told Gabrielle to stay behind. The bard was about to protest when Xena told her that she should send Ardra if she needed her.

Samsara found her Aunt staring out into the darkness. She'd met with Queen Celosia and Queen Vorgeen. The three had had a private meeting, brief but meaningful. It was to be their last together, the three of them.

"Jade?" The Goddess called out. She surprised herself with how easily the name had flowed out from her.

The Sorceress Empress didn't move, though. She was feeling her enemy ever closer and ever stronger. "Celosia tried to help Seri. The Majie discovered the Queen's efforts and trapped her."

Well, that explains some things, Samsara thought to herself. But she hadn't come to talk of that. And her mind was spinning around one particular train of thought.

"Callisto's sword," she stated in a crisp voice.


Jadea said nothing and her niece had to fight back her anger. She knew that yelling wouldn't get her what she wanted.

The Goddess cleared her throat, an unusual thing for her to do. She saw the figure that was Callisto's sister standing so still and firm, as though she were the most alone creature in the world. What she couldn't see were the tears in Jadea's eyes.

"Calli-" Samsara began but the Sorceress Empress cut her off.

"...sto's sword, I know. You want to know why it was able to free Seriana."

Among other things, yes, Samsara thought to herself. She was heedless of the fact that Jadea could hear her thoughts if she so chose.

"Samsara," Jadea began and felt the weight of her conscience press down upon her. "Your mother wasn't always dark. But I wasn't always good, either. Years before Callisto had you, before I even knew she was still alive..." Her voice trailed off and she found that she couldn't finish.

The Goddess Kakistos had been listening, but she could take no more of this. She was unaccustomed to seeing this side of Jadea. The latter seemed vulnerable and unwilling to fight anymore. But appearances can be very deceiving at times.

"Jadea, can you tell me why your sword could break the Majie's chains?" Her voice rose and she was able to keep the anger and frustration from resonating.

"Because Rumyna's powers became mine...and a time was that I used them to do my will. Even though that has changed, the power is still there - and its potential to be used for evil. You're Callisto's daughter. But you have the Amazons' goodness inside you. You also hold Ares mantle right now. All that combined with my sword was able to slice their chains.


Samsara was taken aback by what Jadea had to say. She now understood why she couldn't use the sword against the Majie. "So if I turned on the Majie, I would really become--"

"Dark Samsara, yes."

"And Father's plan would come to fruition," she muttered.

Jadea stiffened up. There she went again with that reference to Ares. She had no idea who Samsara's father was, or even if Samsara had a sire. She shook off the thought and returned to the issue at hand.

The Goddess failed to notice her aunt's physical response. "So would this explain why you seem so drained these days?"

Jadea chuckled despite her hidden tears. "I saw from Olympus. Remember I saw how you could have died after that final assault from Kakistos' army.

Jadea nodded. "Yes."

"Does my taking of Father's mantle have anything to do with you becoming weaker?"

The Sorceress Empress thought of what to say. Samsara had to weigh the advantages and drawbacks of a second Godhead. She knew the truth would have no place here. Her niece had to decide of her own accord if she wanted to keep the mantle or not. She shook her head in response.

"If you're lying . . ." Samsara warned, her sentence trailing off.

Little did she know that Jadea was. Samsara may be powerful, but her aunt nearly always had the trump card.

The High Princess continued. "Once this mission against the Majie is over, I'm going back to Olympus."

The flaxen-haired beauty turned. Her brown eyes flashed in both horror and anger. "Why would you dare set foot back there?" she demanded. "This is your home. Samsara, you are an Amazon first and foremost. Nothing on Olympus will provide you with the same care as here."

"I have things to wrap up," the raven-haired beauty's answer was succinct.

Jadea stood up and walked past Samsara. "Then if you must, you must."


The woman stopped dead in her tracks.

"Amazons Unite."

She shook her head and walked off. She knew the impending danger.

So did Samsara.


On her way back to the Amazon queens, Jadea's path crossed Antigone's. The latter noticed that what the former was still missing. Jadea hadn't bothered to get her sister's sword back from Samsara. She knew it lay in safe hands, and her plans would rely on the powers she still had within her. After all, as Rumyna had told her, "With or without your powers, Jade, you are Amazon. And Amazons are nothing if not survivors. They always have been, and they always will be."

The Sorceress Empress often remembered Rumyna's words at times when she felt useless or powerless, as in this case. She'd once questioned her mentor about something said about the Amazons. Rumyna reluctantly confided a little known secret about them.

"The Amazons are the first true race of women. Some tribes came about differently. For instance, a tribe in the Far East was once a prosperous village of men, women, and children. Then the province it laid within went to war, and the men left the women and children behind to fight. Not one of them returned. The enemy rode through and attacked the village. All the male children were slaughtered. In the eyes of their enemy, the boys would simply have grown up to become soldiers embittered with their memories of the past. By killing them while they were young, they'd saved themselves from having one more enemy in the future. Little did they know that the village women would prove to be just as strong, and just as deadly. You see, to be Amazon is to have the Amazon spirit. Yet with that spirit comes responsibility to one's self, one's Sisters, and one's land. An Amazon must train to be able to endure life on her own or with others. In your case, you will need both these skills to meet and defeat your enemies."

That had been the only time Rumyna had made reference to the Amazons of long ago. She seemed uneasy at talking about it, as though the memory of the first Amazons was a painful one she tried hard but could not forget - could not let go of, either.

Antigone read the sadness in Jadea's eyes. She sensed something had gone wrong but felt hesitant to question her about it. Instead, she tried an indirect approach.

"Queen Celosia has ordered a hunt to take place in three hours time," she informed Jadea, hoping she might give some response.

"Oh?" The Amazon paused. "And will you going, then?"

Antigone blinked. Okay, NOT the reaction I'd hoped. But it's a start. Something's not right with her. She's been out of sorts. I wonder how much of this has to do with... She let the thought go unfinished, if for no other reason than she didn't care to let herself think on the possibility. "I suppose. Our Regent suggested that I head the team, but I don't think I will."

Pssst. Jadea heard someone in her head and she jerked.

Antigone noticed the look. "What is it?" she asked. Generally, Amazons can read when other Amazons have caught something strange.

"Umm, nothing. Just have a lot on my mind. With Seriana and all," Jadea quickly shook her head and gave a stern look. "You should go with them Antigone. You're one of the best hunters and trackers we have."

Why in the blazes would Celosia order a hunt in middle of all this? Jadea asked herself. She wasn't the only one who'd been "out of sorts." Celosia had in the last several hours become quiet, saying very little. What she did have to say usually fell upon Vorgeen's, Medea's, or Serena's ears. She spoke with Xena briefly, but even then seemed to have little much to say.

Pssst! The sound entered her mind again with stronger urgency. She glanced around and noticed Thalia hiding out of view in squirrel form. Whatever bewilderment went through Jadea's mind, she kept it well hidden. Antigone didn't seem to note it.

"Thank you. I think I will. Are you sure you're all right?" She asked one last time. She knew Amazons could be stubborn about admitting when something's bothering them.

"I'm fine. Thank you for your concern," Jadea answered and gave a smile for effect. It seemed to work, at least. Antigone departed for a place unknown.

Jadea watched her go, then looked around. She peered through some bushes. No Thalia. She began scanning around the huts. No Thalia. Then a nut fell from up high and landed near her foot. She jumped back in surprise before her head tilted up. There, sitting on a high branch perched Thalia. She scurried along the branch and down the base of the tree.

Follow me! She told Jadea, her tone leaving no room for compromise.

The Sorceress Empress followed her from a distance, making sure to make it appear as though she knew where she was going and intended her direction for her own reasons. Amazons tend to be able to pick up on peculiar things, so she had to be careful. She followed the squirrel through the camp and out the gates into the forest.

Where in the Hades are we going? And you're still supposed to be locked up, Jadea's voice was more flustered from her confusion than it was really angry.

You said that this mark I bear implies death, right? Thalia asked as she hurriedly jumped into some bushes and came out the other side of them.

Jadea had to think. Her mind was muddled with too many thoughts. Had she told Thalia that? Was that before or after she'd touched her and brought her body back its strength? Yeah, so? She said at last.

Yeah, so what if it doesn't mean death to us? What if it means death to the-

Jadea cut her off. She'd caught up to Thalia's train of thought, and the train was rolling on track. Majie? Hmm...interesting theory. With one minor flaw, Thalia. I've seen the sign before. The person who bore it died shortly after they received the mark. She stated pointedly. She didn’t mention that she wasn't telling the whole truth.

Jadea hadn't seen the mark herself per se. She'd used a window conjured by magic to observe. What she saw through that portal's eye was what she described to Thalia. And that had been a one-time discovery. Her other dealings with the mark, though few, hadn't exactly followed that situation.

Thalia fell silent and slowed down. Jadea rested against a tree, appearing to be thinking to herself. She used some of her remaining energy to conceal her counsel from her Sister. No need to worry the many with the private concerns of one. Right? Yeah, right, she thought.

Samsara is going to find out soon. I can just feel it. And Seriana is going to wake up out of this to face a catapulted fireball. She sighed. Her head hurt. It hurt from hurting and it hurt from thinking.

How did things get so complicated, Rumyna? I mean, we had things runnin' on course, didn't we? She asked rhetorically, not expecting any sign or kind of answer. But things tend to happen when we least expect them to, and from unexpected angles.

Thalia's voice entered her mind. We can straighten this out, Jadea. We just need to get our Sisters focused. There's far too much dissension flying around here.

As though he'd been listening and now felt it was time to appear, a third voice joined itself to their mental conversation. Evenin' Ladies. A bit late to be out here hidin' by yourselves, isn't it?

Thalia fell utterly silent. She didn't know how the Celt, Angus, knew someone was with Jadea. She didn't want to know, either.

"Aren’t you supposed to be somewhere else?" Jadea questioned harshly. She hated when he snuck up on her like that. He was one of two men who had the ability to do so and lived to do it again...and again...and again. It was a wonder, especially in the eyes of the other Amazons, that she didn't kill him just for the sake of principle.

Ach, I thought ya'd never ask.

Elsewhere in camp...

"Regent Medea, may I have a word with ya, please?" It was Vorgeen.

Of the Amazon leaders in Themiscyra at present, she had the most tact. Even Xena, herself, had made a brief snap at Serena who objected to sending out a hunting party with Majie predators on the loose.

Medea had been busy with preparations. She'd been assigned direction of who went where and did what. The plan was in its first stages. Right now, three border patrols were told to relocate half a mile inside Themiscyra's lands. It was a ploy to make the idea of approaching their borders attractive to the Amazon assassins. This went against one prime directive that Amazons almost always followed - give up NONE of your land. Not an inch, not a mile, nothing. At least, nothing more than you have to. After all, fighting on home turf was usually a good and effective tactic to winning a battle.

Still, Medea was willing to spare a couple of minutes. She'd all but taken over Celosia's position. Her sister, she'd noticed, was not herself. "All right, but make it quick," she said in a moderate tone. The voice she used was the closest she really came to calm and approachable.

"I'd like to know your thoughts on this plan. Do you think it'll work?" Vorgeen asked and fiddled unconsciously with the torque around her neck. If Medea had known the Highland Queen better, she'd have noted the habit and realized that Vorgeen was hiding something.

"Is Ares a worthless excuse for a God? Hades, yeah it'll work! As long as that kittenish, stubborn-mule Teloan Elder doesn't screw it up," she stated baldly. Truth was, the Themiscyran Regent was hiding something from the Amazons. She'd known that Samsara going off to get Seriana's spirit back wouldn't bring Seriana back...not in the way they'd hoped. The problem here was - Medea didn't know how she knew this, she couldn’t explain it.

Vorgeen smiled. She couldn't help it. She saw a fire in the Regent that she recognized. The Highland Queen had seen that same fire before in someone she knew. She found it ironic that in the past, that kind of fire prompted both zeal and fear in her. Jadea had possessed such a flaming fire once. That was before, though. Now, she had Samsara by blood and Seriana by adoption. Now, the Sorceress Empress had something beyond vengeance to live for. At times, though, both she and Vorgeen missed that old flame. Neither ever admitted it, for the thought, much less the feeling, was far too terrifying and dangerous.

"I suppose ya're right. But ya've got to give Serena credit in one respect," Vorgeen let herself pause for impact.

"Oh? And what's that?" Medea's voice rose with curiosity, as though she was about to clearly state her opposition to whatever Vorgeen's response.

"The Amazon is tryin' to save her tribe and help us," the Highland Queen's tone combined with her brogue brought Medea to a silent accord. Vorgeen smiled. For, Medea's agreement could only be read in her eyes. And then, she let it remain just long enough for Vorgeen to understand.

"Is there anything else, Queen Vorgeen?" The Regent asked in a voice that almost sounded kind. Inside, she was relishing the day that she would be addressed, Queen.

"No, I suppose that was all. Thank you, Regent." Vorgeen offered her hand and Medea gave a quick glance around before clasping it.

The Majie's work to divide the Amazons was gradually beginning to dissipate. Still, they had two key players in their hold. One was Seriana. The other, Themiscyra's Queen. If events surrounding those two Amazon women didn't change soon, Medea would have to assume the role as Queen. And Seriana? Well, she'd likely miss the final showdown.


She knew a hunt was happening and she wasn't surprised that she hadn't been invited. It was Medea's style not to invite people she didn't like. Samsara was well aware of this fact, but she brushed it off. Ishtar, her guardian, always told her that a good queen never excluded anyone.

Ishtar. The name fluttered into her mind again. She hadn't thought of her guardian in seasons.

She had no time. She had to destroy these Majie and she had to do it soon. She knew the intention of the hunt. She understood the implications. She also thought the idea foolhardy. She wasn't entirely confident that the Amazons in the three hunting parties trusted each other. That was the staple of the Majie plan. Once the Amazons trusted each other and truly united, that would be the end of these assassins.

"Xena," she muttered. "You're going to get us killed."

She shuffled to the Medic hut and visited her sister. Her main focus was taking care of her sister. Xanthea made her rounds, caring for other Amazons still injured from battle with Kakistos. Samsara turned back to her sister.

I swear, she thought, when I get back to Olympus I will set all of this right. We won't be the butt of tavern jokes any longer. She gripped her hand tightly. Never again. We will keep our land and we will prosper.

She knew something was wrong. Seriana was losing color again. She motioned to Xanthea who rushed over and touched her face.

"She's as cold as ice!" the Amazon Healer gasped.

Samsara pressed her eyes shut. Something was tearing up Seriana in her head. Samsara had to do something and she had to do it now. "Care for her," she hissed, running out to her hut.

As soon as she was in, she shut the door and the sandalwood and jasmine turned on instantly. She lighted the candles around her and prepared her pallet. She knelt down on it, sitting on her feet. She squeezed her eyes shut and she was instantly in her sister's dreamscape. The looking glass was still there, the fog still rose from the ground. She looked at herself in the looking glass and was pleased. The hind's blood was unfortunately gone, but her weapons were still in her possession.

She turned around to face a Majie soldier. He was cloaked as were the rest. Behind him was Seriana, again, tied up in the same position she was in when Samsara first found her in the cave.

Samsara pulled out Callisto's sword. If this broke the chains, I can break you, she thought. My life for hers, so be it.


"Are you sure you want to do this?" questioned the Majie. "Your powers have no use here--"

"Although they are of use to you," her face was like steel. She pulled out Ares' sword and twirled both around. "Shut up and fight."

The Majie laughed. He suddenly stepped back and before him appeared a fighter. "Before you can fight us," he said, "you must fight the warriors. Only then, if we are satisfied with your combat, will you get your chance."

"Fair enough," she responded.

"But, you cannot fight him with your swords."


Xanthea did as much as she could to keep Seriana warm. She knew nothing of what was going on with Samsara. Only that the Goddess had left suddenly and had not returned.

Gabrielle hadn’t chosen to go with the hunting parties, she had stayed with her friend, helping the Healer to bundle the girl with furs. She spoke to her but never expected a response. "You'll be all right, Seri," she said. "We'll defeat these assassins. I promise."

Xanthea offered her another fur. Gabrielle took it and thanked her. "Where is Samsara?"

The Healer sighed. "I'm not sure, she just vanished."

The bard turned to the young one again. "I hope she knows what she's doing."

Back in the dreamscape....

Samsara was faced with the first warrior. The particulars were inconsequential to her: an enemy is an enemy no matter what the dress. He carried a long dagger. She glared at the Majie and as if he could read her mind he said, "Who said this was going to be a fair match, Goddess Amazon?"

She snarled and waited for him to charge. Impatient, he did and she threw him over her with a flip of her arms. He twirled in the air and landed behind her, twisting to face her back as he landed.

"Ishtar, Mariko: don't fail me now," she whispered. Her guardian taught her some martial arts. Mariko, a Japanese woman Samsara protected against Uzbek the Khan in her travels in the East, taught her the rest. He charged after her again, and she jumped to avoid the swipe of his knife. She spotted her staff nearby. She had no idea how it got there, but she dove for it and picked up the weapon. She grabbed it and landed on her feet, ready to strike the man down.

She charged at him and used her staff to elevate her body. She positioned herself to hit him in the chest, but he dodged her assault in the last second and twisted left with the knife in his right hand to slice into her back. Having anticipated this move, she twisted left toward his back. She jammed her palm onto the upper part of his arm and reaching around to his wrist, he maneuvered his hand so that the dagger sliced into his lower left side, just above the hip.

The action from jump to stab was in slow motion. As he stabbed himself, Samsara's momentum pulled them down, he on top of her.

She landed hard on her side and the soldier was gone. The Goddess grabbed her staff and scrambled to her feet.

"Well done," the Majie said. Suddenly the wind picked up. The rolls of fog moved quickly past them as the scene changed.

Samsara had no idea where they were. This time her staff was not in her possession. It was on a wall tucked in two hooks. She started toward it, but the Majie appeared before her.

"Do you recognize this place?" he said.

Annoyed, she looked around. Why yes, she did. Vines hung down from the ceiling. Spikes adorned the bottom where these vines fell. It was the cave of ambrosia. She groaned. Wonderful.

Before her stood Ishtar and Mariko. Seriana appeared again in the same position. The Majie laughed. "If you want to save your sister, you'll fight them."

How did these magic wielders know?

The answer is in the question.

Samsara knew she was trapped again. To kill your dead guardian and your one-time mentor to save your sister.

She would have to survive against the two people who knew all her moves. They would fight in tandem and one would take over for the other when she was sure she could defeat the Amazon.

Her mouth mentally gaped open. This was something that Seriana had no idea about. Samsara never told her much about her guardian or the rout of Uzbek the Khan.

She solved the riddle.

The Majie were now in her head.


Seriana was becoming warmer, but she was still pallid. "She’s getting better," Xanthea noted.

"Thank the Gods," Gabrielle answered. "But if she’s all right, where’s Samsara?" She was worried. This was nothing like she had ever seen before.


Samsara was still in her position in her hut. She was concentrating very hard. Sweat was rolling down her face as she fought the two women who had been her closest friends since before Themiscyra.

Not even Dachus knew all her moves and he had been her general in all her battles thus far. He still led her units with her godly blessing throughout the rest of Greece, defending Amazons. She knew he would never turn on her so long as there were Amazons.

Ishtar and Mariko both put on an offensive to envy, but Samsara's defensive was textbook. Then she decided it was time for an assault. The combatants spoke little, the grunts of their fighting filling the air around them.

The Majie merely watched, hoping their plan would work. If Samsara killed either of her opponents, the Amazon would be theirs. They had to counteract the Amazon’s unity. If the Majie could keep them apart, their power would strengthen and grow, instead of diminish and fade. Samsara was one of the missing links.

She knew she was making process. Her bloodlust rose, just as the Majie had hoped. Her anger boiled and her hate for the wrongs of her life burned. In the meantime, she had grabbed her staff and her power doubled. It was still her talisman and it was still valuable to her in more ways than one.

She pulled out Callisto's sword. My life for Seri's - so be it. Mariko was winded. It was time for the kill.

She raised her sword as Ishtar seemed to stand and watch. Samsara's mouth opened and her black eyes widened as she swung down with the blade. The Majie waited in anticipation. Mariko smiled.


Samsara fell onto the pallet. She opened her eyes. Jade was before her with a ball of energy ready in her hand. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"


Around her neck, the Sorceress Empress wore one of the five Majie warrior medallions. The emblem was identical to the one Thalia bore. Angus stepped up behind her and heard the Goddess of Destruction scream. His hand rested on the hilt of the sword at his side.

"I just saved your life, and Angus just saved your soul," she retorted, the circle of energy still in her grasp. "You can thank us later."

Outside, the Amazons who remained in camp heard Gabrielle scream suddenly. But her yell wasn't of panic. It was of surprised joy.

Did ya plan that, Jade? Or did we just get lucky? Angus asked as he stepped aside for the action he anticipated.

Both, she returned.

Samsara's eyes had gone from her aunt to past her and Angus. Quickly, the trio left the hut of the Goddess to answer the call Gabrielle made.

Jadea entered. Celosia and Vorgeen were already there. Samsara immediately entered behind her aunt and then moved around her to Seriana.

The Sorceress Empress noticed that Seriana's color had returned, her natural temperature restored. She slowly opened her eyes, scanning the faces around. When her gaze fell upon Celosia, she rose up slowly and only mid-way. "Seize her!" she cried out.

Samsara was instantly grabbing her sister and holding her back. "Seri, it's all right. Seriana, listen!"

But the Amazon seemed incoherent as she stammered. "No, have to believe me! Listen to me! The Majie have her! They're controlling her! The spy...he's using our Queen!"

Gabrielle looked wide-eyed at Celosia who, for the accusations being thrown at her, remained quite calm. Eerily calm.

The Highland Queen didn't like this and her instincts began to kick in. Jade, what does she mean?

I told you before that there's a traitor in our midst. Seriana believes that the traitor has a hold over Queen Celosia.

"Angus!" He immediately came in followed by three Amazons. "Please escort Queen Celosia to the royal tent and keep her there. Don't listen to her, and don't let her go!"

Oddly, Celosia didn't put up a fight, and the Amazons obeyed the order. Once they departed, Medea entered as though on cue. "I take it you found something?" she asked sarcastically.

Using Vorgeen, Jadea had slipped Medea a message that hinted to what might happen. The Regent was more than willing to help, especially since she was now the acting queen for Themiscyra. Won't Elder Serena like that? She mused.

Samsara got Seriana calmed down only after the Amazon saw that Celosia was taken away and guarded. She'd been using calm tones and trying to find answers.

"Indeed," Jadea answered Medea. "Gabrielle, Vorgeen, Samsara, would you please rise to witness this?" Confused and a bit reluctant, the three did so. Jadea turned to Medea so that both of them were facing the others. "Regent Medea, sister to Celosia, you are hereby instated all rights and authorities as Queen of Themiscyra. This position will you hold until the natural selected Queen can perform her duties."

It was short, simple, and technically unofficial. Still, it was official in all the important aspects. "Queen Medea, I'll leave you to attend to your new post," Jadea said and exited without one word to Seriana. I'll apologize to her when we have time.

But Samsara wasn't about to let things go so easily. "I'll be right back, Seri," she said and felt her sister grab her arm. "It's all right. I'm going to get you something to eat." She kissed her sister on her forehead.

"Jadea! Jadea!" The Goddess was overcome with anger. She used her godhead to make herself reappear in front of her Aunt.

Thalia, how's it coming? Jadea mentally sent her Sister. She was immediately answered.

Got the last one placed. You wanted them on the borders of our lands, right? Thalia sounded out of breath. Jadea knew she'd been running.

That's my Sister. Now lay low. The fireworks are about to start.


Jadea eyed her niece. "When will you learn?"

Samsara shook her head. "What do you mean?"

"STICK to the situation and maybe we'll be rid of the Majie. THEN you can go back to Olympus." Her tone was acrid, the words scathing.

Samsara looked down. She was not used to reproach that she couldn't fight. She couldn't fight her aunt. She knew the Sorceress Empress was right. She knew that the only way to come out on top was to unite, but she felt such urgency for her sister. She hated sitting idly by while poison coursed through her body. Samsara had to atone for almost letting her sister get impaled on the spikes in the cave. She had to atone for causing pain to her family. At least, that was the idea for all of her "crusades": vengeance and atonement to some degree.

I know why they were in my head, she thought. They want to destroy us any way they can. I can't let that happen. I can't play into their game.

"We are gonna have to work together on this," Jadea continued, in a softer tone. "We have to work with Medea. You have to calm down and think rationally. Without that, we are lost. Remember, we need you to locate the enemy."

"I don't like this plan Xena has. It's gonna get us killed, Jadea."

"Trust. Amazons Unite."

"Amazons Unite." Samsara shrugged. Trust.

They parted. Jadea to wherever, Samsara to get food for her sister. Samsara wondered what Serena's reaction to Medea's new Queenship would be.


Well now, that went well, an Amazon thought to herself and adjusted her position to one more favorable for observing.

In truth, even Jadea had her doubts about Xena's plan. The Warrior Princess was relying heavily on Amazon loyalty and trust - something the Amazons in Themiscyra seemed to be lacking. With Seriana recovered...all right, awake and breathing at least...the Amazons had one more advantage than before.

Thalia came striding up to Jadea, now in the form of a young fox - poetic in its own way.

So, those medallions of theirs are going to...what now? She asked and followed when the Amazon sorceress walked on.

Thalia, we're about to clear the camp with but a few exceptions. You know that, right? Jadea asked of the small red fox that scurried along with her. She neglected to answer her Sister's question for reasons of her own.

Umm...NO! And pray when did this part of the plan crop up? She nearly yelled back into her companion's mind.

Just then, Karyn and Alex walked up to Jadea, one slightly behind the other. They stopped in front of her. Karyn averted her eyes from Jadea. Alex spoke.

"Medea told us to report to you," she stated in a voice that conveyed how she felt about taking orders from Medea. Karyn elbowed her and Alex shot her a sidelong glance that would have said, if spoken, "What?"

"Alex, Medea is acting Themiscyran Queen. It'll do us all well to respect that and address her as such," Jadea said, taking on a neutral but meaningful tone of voice.

"I understand," Alex replied, feeling a bit ashamed. She knew the threat facing the Amazons, and she had no desire to add to the problem. Still, it took time to adjust to the idea of Medea being in charge.

Intentionally, Jadea made sure that it leaked out that Celosia was under guard and Medea was now Queen. She had a plan running along with Xena's. Only Jadea's plan was more covert. Xena knew all that it entailed, and a few others knew at least as much of it as they needed. The rest of the Amazons in the Themiscyran lands were given enough detail to suffice their parts of the war.

"Good. Now, Alex I want you and Karyn to remain in camp until further notice. Understood?" Inside her head, Jadea heard a sound resembling a stuttered gasp. Thalia was beginning to have distaste for this.

Both Amazons nodded respectfully. "We understand, but-" Alex started to question the reason, but Jadea cut her off.

"You'll be told why when you need to know why and when it's safe for you to be told. Not before," Jadea informed and gave a brief pause. "Now, please...just have a little faith."

It seemed a reasonable request. After all, Amazons are known for being resilient and quite dangerous when crossed. It was unthinkable that they would not come out the victors of this war against the Majie.

Alex and Karyn departed together. They noticed the absence of many of their fellow Amazons. There had been many more just an hour earlier. Steadily, the Amazons were spreading out of the gates and into the forest - dividing. It was the most unexpected and uncharacteristic thing for the Amazons to do in a fight.

Something that wasn't widely known about the scattering of the tribes in Themiscyra was that as far as the Amazons spread out, they remained within the circle of the four medallions Thalia had strategically placed within their borders.

The Sorceress Empress knew that the Majie would soon make a move. A bold, daring, and perhaps desperate move. Why? To retrieve their medallions. An item of power is a terrible thing to lose, she thought.

Are you ever going to answer me? Thalia demanded.

As soon as I'm sure uninvited others aren't listening, yes, the Amazon sorceress coolly returned. With Seriana recovering, however slowly, some of Jadea's strength, both mortal and mystical, was returning to her.


Pike stood outside of the Queen's hut. She detested the order that Celosia be put under guard. More, she hated being the Amazon that stood on guard. Still, what Seriana assigned, you did.

Across the campgrounds, Maylee was thinking much the same while guarding Thalia. Even though she’d had some time off while Dolphinea stood guard, it hadn’t eased the guilt she felt for getting knocked out when Jadea had arrived. She had been certain Seriana would assign her to patrol instead of guard duty and had been surprised to learn she’d be back guarding the prison.

Of course, she had no way of knowing that she was guarding an elaborate illusion. Dolphinea had taken the opportunity to sneak Thalia out of prison and constructed the illusion so no one would be the wiser. If she had known, she would have been sure her time as a guard had come to an abrupt end.


Queen Medea was walking from hut to hut around trees, bushes, and through the immediate area of the camp. She was taking a headcount of who remained. In addition, she was looking for any spies lurking about. She was so engrossed in her task that she failed to hear Gabrielle's light steps behind her.

"Queen Medea!" The blonde warrior-bard called out.

Inwardly, Celosia's sister jumped as high as Mount Olympus is tall. She whipped around but her demeanor changed when she saw Gabrielle's startled and apologetic eyes.

"Seri's asking to see you. I know you and Xena are busy with putting this plan into act-"

"I'll be right there as soon as I can. Thank you," Medea replied snappishly. When she noticed Gabrielle's expression, she shook her head. "I'm sorry if that sounded harsh. I'm just..."

Gabrielle nodded. She'd been seeing it in a lot of the Amazons - particularly her best friend Xena. "Restless," she finished the thought with a smile. "I understand."

Medea gave her a genuine smile and nod.

Gabrielle departed. The truth was that while Seri had asked to see Medea, Gabrielle's decision to fetch the new Queen then had more to do with giving Samsara and her sister some space. When the Goddess had returned with some food for Seriana, she'd shot Gabrielle a silent look.

By the time Queen Gabrielle returned to the medic hut, Samsara had departed. The Goddess left to once again meet with her Aunt. She was feeling an itch, a sensation that she did not like. Samsara didn't know it, but her mother had felt it before. So had Jadea.

And now the daughter of Callisto was feeling it.


Angus ran across Garrett's path again. His friend was looking well, one or two bandages remaining. The Amazons had allowed him a small amount of freedom, although a guard trailed him at all times.

"Top o' the mornin' to ya, friend!" The Celt smiled and gave a soft laugh.

Apollo's first light was barely reaching the outer regions of Themiscyra. Still, torches remained lit in camp as the darkness there had yet to be lifted. With daybreak fast approaching, Queen Medea would have to insure that the last Amazons broke camp and reached their positions. Darkness was their only cover for this phase of the plan.

"And to you, Angus. Tell me, you haven't seen Thalia lately by any chance, have you?" he asked hopefully. Garrett wanted to see Thalia and talk to her more than anything. He was only half-aware of what was going on with these women warriors. Somehow the knowledge that Thalia had been put under guarded custody had not reached him.

The Celt was faced with a dilemma. Lie to his new friend, or risk Jadea's anger for divulging Thalia's whereabouts. Angus was fond of Garrett, for there weren't many men in the camp. At present count in fact, only two.

Sorry, my friend, but you don't know fear until you've crossed someone like Jade, Angus thought to himself before replying. "Ach, I bet she's around someplace. If I see her, I'll tell her that you're lookin' for her. You know how Amazons are, Garrett. Serious and focused and all duty when it comes to a fight."

Thalia's beloved fell silent for a bit. He was weighing his thoughts and doubts. At last, he nodded. "I guess you're right. Can I ask you something, though?" He questioned Angus before the Celt had time to feel relieved.

"Aye, if ya like," he answered with a smile, though Garrett's tone alluded to a solemn inquiry.

"Are you in love with that Sorceress Empress?"

Angus’ face registered shock and surprise. The Celt had posed the question to himself many times, and he'd resisted answering the question - or simply denied it. It was if Garret had looked inside and seen the question written on his heart.

Still, some things were difficult to hide, especially from someone who suffered from the same affliction. Garrett had seen his new friend's affection for Themiscyra's Sorceress Empress, and new it was similar to that of his affection for the Head Scout.

Angus chuckled softly. "Is it that obvious?"

Garrett laughed but shook his head and clamped a hand down on Angus' shoulder. "Only to me, friend. Only to me."


Jadea refused to see Celosia. She knew Seri had been telling the truth. She knew there was no sense in speaking to Celosia. The Themiscyran wasn't in control of her own thoughts and speech. Instead, Jadea headed for Xena herself. She found the Warrior Princess with the Teloan Elder and the Highland Queen.

"All right, so we still have that catapult we captured in the battle with Kakistos," Vorgeen stated in a serious tone. It was last minute preparation time.

"A catapult's not going to get it done, Vorgeen," Xena argued.

Serena was still less than thrilled with Xena and her plan. She'd been cooperating, but her cooperation came with the price of enduring her remarks. "And just what will get it done, Xena?"

As the Highland Queen saw Jadea join them, she made a gesture to the others that said she was departing the caucus. No response recognizing this was made. It was simply understood by those present.

Vorgeen's abrupt departure from the council hut ensured that the Amazons kept a certain number of key players visible within the camp and in the outer lands. This kept up the appearance of dissension and suspicion in the camp, throwing the Majie off the scent of their carefully laid plans. The Highland Queen would go pick a fight with Medea and point a finger at some unsuspecting Amazon.

Her departure also offset the unlikely, but possible, event of the Majie launching a full-scale attack. With at least one of the Queens out of the hut, Themiscyra wouldn't have all its occupying leaders in one spot ripe for kill, despite the fact that they'd all fight to the death.

"This," Jadea interjected and handed something to Xena.

The dark-haired warrior woman looked at the object. She looked at Jadea, as did Serena. "I'd heard that we had one. How did you-"

"What is it?" The Teloan interrupted to ask.

"It's a Majie power object," Jadea explained. "You see, our enemies have two sides to them. First, they are Amazon assassins. Secondly, they are darkly powerful mystics. They all have an item that holds their power. While they're very skilled in mortal combat, the power is for insurance," she noticed the blank look on Serena’s face. "Say one met Xena and they fought one on one. It probably wouldn't take him long to realize that she's hard to kill, especially if she got in a good blow or two. That's when they'd resort to their black magic. If Xena didn't know they had this, 'ell even if she did, they could swiftly use it to disable her long enough to make the kill." She took a breath.

Xena held up the object by its chain and spun it around with her finger. This gave Serena a better view of it. For once, it seemed, the Teloan Elder didn't complain.

"And we have more than one," the Sorceress Empress added.

Xena stopped the spinning movement. "I expected as much when you showed it to us," she then proceeded to place the chain over her head. The Warrior Princess was exceptional at figuring things out, even the plans of the Sorceress Empress.

"Don't get too cocky with that thing," Serena commented. Her initial whim had been to inquire just why Xena was charged with wearing the Majie's medallion. The Teloan was particularly biting with everyone because her authority had been challenged and discounted several times in the last few hours..

Jadea! Your damn niece is combing Themiscyra looking for you! It was Medea. The new Queen might not be able to hear the thoughts of others, except on those rare occasions when she couldn't explain it, but she was gaining more and more power to effectively send mental thoughts.

The Sorceress Empress performed a similar gesture to the one Vorgeen had previously made. Soon after, Queen Medea strode up. What had just transpired was summed up for her, the important parts were all she needed, and a few pieces to the plan were added.


Jadea made another sweep as she walked on toward the center of camp. She found Thalia was performing a similar action, now in falcon form. Jadea had enhanced Thalia’s abilities while the biomorph sat in prison, and she'd become capable of many transformations for longer periods of time. Thalia didn't question this change. She simply intended to use it while she had it to use.

The Goddess of Destruction found her Aunt before long. Stopped a few feet outside the medic hut. "You're avoiding me," she bitterly stated.

Jadea shook her head. "No, if I were avoiding you then I wouldn't be standing in front of you now."

Samsara began to growl, but she stopped herself before the sound came out of her. "Jade, can I use Callisto's sword to kill the Majie or not?"

Jadea, growing ever impatient with her niece, took this to mean that the Goddess had yet to locate the Enemy. "If you kill the Majie with my sword, then the Amazons will have to kill you. In their eyes, for all intent and purposes, you will have become the enemy. I leave the choice to you, but choose wisely. Vengeance is sweet, but its aftertaste is not. Just ask Xena," she finished and started to walk past Samsara.

Jadea stopped about four steps away. She turned. "Samsara, it will be light soon. I'd at least like to know where the Majie are. If not that, at least who the traitor is."

The Amazon said nothing but made an indicative nod. The Sorceress Empress entered the medic hut. She saw Seriana sitting up and staring into the flame of a candle, an empty plate of food on a table near her.

Her appetite's returned. That's good.

Seri looked up as Jadea took a few steps inside. "Celosia needs our help. She can't do it alone. I tried to help her, but I was too weak. Then Sami came to get me. I was afraid they'd trap her too. The second time they didn't-"

"Really have your spirit," Jadea finished and added softly, "I know. They used a ploy to get Samsara to return so they might turn her dark."

Seriana made a slight nod, her eyes falling back to the candle's flame. An odd link existed between Jadea's family and fire. The same could be said for fire and all Amazons, including those who may have feared fire. But the connection between fire and Jade's kin was far more deadly and far more unusual than the average Amazon's.

"We have to help her, Jadea. Queen Celosia will die if we don't do something."

"No one's going to die!" A new voice declared. Seri looked up just as Jadea made a small turn. Pike had entered to check on Seri. She'd caught the last part of the conversation. Her eyes looked deep in Jadea's.

"Celosia has ordered to have an audience with you," Pike reported and immediately saw Jadea's eyebrow raise at the word ordered.

"Has she now?" Jadea returned back, a deep and dangerous sarcasm in her tone.

Seriana caught it even if Pike didn't. She grabbed her Aunt's arm. "Please, Jadea, no," the Amazon pleaded. It's wasn’t in Seriana’s nature to plead; in fact, no Amazon pleaded if they had other options.

Jadea quickly gave her niece a glance before meeting Pike's stare. "I'll be there soon. Return to your post."

Pike hesitated, but left. Outside, Maylee watched the Amazon woman angrily head for the Queen's hut.

"Seri, did Queen Medea come by and talk to you?" Seriana nodded and released Jadea's arm.

The Sorceress Empress saw the pain and immense concern in Seriana’s eyes. She came forward and gave the Amazon a heartfelt hug. As she withdrew, she saw Seri's eyes had watered. But the Amazon struggled to control herself. That made Jadea feel for her all the more. She took the Amazon's hand and clasped it.

"Amazons unite!" She said firmly.

Seriana nodded. "Amazons unite!"


She was hurt by the reference to Xena her Aunt made.

Well, the Warrior Princess just seems to know everything doesn't she? She thought to herself. I should listen to Mother's assassin.

She ambled to her hut again, staff in hand. She opened the door and shut it behind her. Her hut was her sacred temple that few could enter. Celosia was always in-- she was Queen -- and others had made appearances only upon invitation. Her hut was where she kept rare poultices her guardian used when she was still alive. Imagine that, a healer fighting. Well, Ishtar's only known fight was when she died in combat defending Ephiny, but that was another sad story for another sad day. She pushed the thoughts aside.

She knelt down on the pallet again. She turned to the Mask of the Wolf, her royal mask and closed her eyes. She placed the staff crossways and pulled out Callisto's sword laying that across the staff. She kept her eyes squeezed shut as she chanted in ancient Teloan:

Artemis, give me the power to see further than I can, to know more than I know, to lead my sisters to the Enemy...

She repeated the chant until she saw. And see she did.

She stood up and grabbed both weapons. She had to get to Jadea and now.

She ran out of her hut and found her Aunt precisely where she suspected. The Sorceress Empress was not hard to find if she wanted to be found.

So I see my talk had some effect on her, she thought.

"I know where they are. I want to be on the front lines," the Great Destroyer said firmly.

"Tell me and we'll see," Callisto's sister countered.


Feminine laughter filled the cave and the entrance of a tall, flaxen haired beauty followed the sound. Her eyes glittered vibrantly as a genuine smile curved her sensuous lips.

"How did you - this is the - we are Majie, you can't just -" the vixen gave her audience a chuckle and shook her head. Her long hair tossed back. "There's a sentence in there just dying to get out. I'm sorry for failing to knock before I came in."

"A Sorceress," the taller figure spoke. He seemed in less of a shock.

She scoffed somewhat. "Oh, I am more than a sorceress, my foolish Majie friend. I am The Sorceress. And quite to the contrary of what you Majie believe; sorcery and magic still belong to the wicked. More to the point, to me."

The man raised an eyebrow and tempted his fate with the words he chose. "You have no power here. So state your business or leave."

A far more dangerous laughter now echoed off the walls of the cave. Flames danced in the sparkling light of her eyes. "I had come to prevent the annihilation of the entire Majie. Yet now I realize that you are too blind to see, too deaf to hear, and too full of pride to accept help we you need it most. Very well - the Amazons shall be your downfall." The strange temptress turned and took a step. She was called back with one word.


A triumphant smile appeared on her face. She had them. Turning around, she lifted an eyebrow as if to say, "Yes?"

"How can you help?" The older one asked.

She conjured up a window and played back the images of Samsara entering the cave, retrieving her caste, and using her Mother's blade to free her sister. The window then closed and she spoke. "You Majie are wise to use division to defeat the Amazons. They are strong even when they are alone, but they are far more powerful when they are together. United, the Amazons could conquer any land, any people, at any time they so chose."

"So, then why haven't they? Or, why don't they now?" The younger figure spoke. His eyes were gray and misty, a sign of his novice stature among his kind.

"Because the Amazons do not wish to rule others. They only desire to govern themselves and protect their lands and each other. But you have made a crucial mistake. You target the wrong Amazon. That will get you assassins killed. And once the world sees that the Majie can be killed, that they have a weakness...your enemies will come pouring out of the woodwork."

"Then, pray tell, what should we do?"

"Seize what holds them together," she flicked her hair again, pausing for effect. When she felt they would burst unless she spoke, she did. "Their loyalty to each other."

"Yes, but how?" The younger one questioned.

"I cannot give you any more than what I have. Use what you know now," she answered, irritation beginning to edge into her voice. To this dark woman of black magic, it seemed obvious what they should do. She turned once again and took three steps before she vanished.

During this same time, in Themiscyra...

Jadea's footing faltered and Valkyra was first at her side. "Easy, easy. What's wrong?" the Weapons Mistress asked, her voice crystal in its concern.

"Someone's close . . . too close," Jadea murmured. Loudly she said, "I – I’m fine."

Valkyra didn't appear convinced. She walked with her to the medic hut.

They found Samsara fully enveloped in grief and worry over Seriana. She was standing to one side with Serena and Xena, demanding they go ahead with the plan. She was one moment from pushing the Elder aside to demand an answer of why Seri wasn't better when her Aunt arrived.

Desperation in her eyes, she pleaded with her Aunt to do something. "I don't understand. I-I brought her back! Why isn't she healed? Why doesn't she wake up?" The Goddess was slowly losing a grip on her temper. Seeing Xena had snapped something lose inside her. She'd been able to fight it back because reason constantly reminded her that she needed the help of the Warrior Princess.

It was Serena who answered with questions of her own. She was against this foolish plan, and everyone in the room knew it the minute she spoke. "Xena, you're the prime player in all of this. This plan of yours is going to get us all killed!" Serena's strong voice interjected, ignoring the exasperated Goddess near her.

"Enough!" Jadea shouted and her word rang in the minds of all the Amazons she spoke to. The Sorceress Empress let her eyes meet Serena's. She gave the Elder a hardened glare to show that she was now taking charge of this little act. Then her eyes went to Xena who obviously would have preferred a conference with the Amazon Queens. Her eyes next settled upon her niece, who was still staring at her with a confused kind of anger. "Samsara, she isn't waking up...because she can't. Her spirit has been rejoined with her body, and she no longer has the poison in-"

"Then WHY can't she wake up?" Samsara screamed, and everyone in the Med hut turned in her direction, startled and shocked.

Jadea looked at the daughter of her sister helplessly. She knew the reason, but she didn't know how to fix it. "Clear this hut! Now!" She gestured to Xanthea to remove the apprentices as well as herself from the room. "Xena, Serena will show you to Celosia and Vorgeen. They'll fill you up to date, and we can go from there."

When only about three Amazons complied immediately, Jadea grew livid and conjured a fireball in her right hand. "I said move!"

Serena begrudgingly left with Xena and Gabrielle close behind. The blonde whispered to her companion, "So, tell me about this plan again. Because from what I've seen, we need to refine it."

Samsara neared Seri and took her hand. She looked back at Jadea, her eyes repeating the question she'd so vehemently asked before.

"Samsara, someone is keeping Seriana asleep," Jadea softly told her.

"But who? How?"

Jadea shook her head. "I don't know. Right now, Seriana is in a state of slumber that requires no food or drink. Whoever has done this knows they can't hurt her any more. It’s obvious to me that they need her out of the way. That's why they've done this," she stated and her eyes moved from Samsara to a spot across the room. A glazed and distant look came over her as she realized what it was. "A distraction. Something to make the Amazons worry. Something to make them suspicious . . . angry . . . divided. . ." The Sorceress Empress turned and moved to walk out of the hut.

Samsara jumped forward and stopped her. "Wait, where are you going?"

"Thalia told me about the sign. She had to tell me the story twice before I understood. And now this. You saw Serena's reaction to Xena's plan, right?"

The Goddess nodded, but her expression conveyed that she wasn't quite following.

"And Medea, our Regent, she picked a fight with you. She blew up in front of Elder Serena of the Teloans. Medea has always taken her position seriously. And we both know that she feels some animosity towards Celosia for being passed over. But Medea takes responsibly when she's at fault. None of us can deny that."

Samsara shook her head, feeling utterly lost in this now. "What has that got to do with the price of papyrus in Athens?"

"Don't you see? Divide and conquer. The Romans are notorious for successfully using that method. They know that the Amazon Nation was its strongest when every tribe was united." A sudden flame sparked a fire in her eyes. "But rogue tribes have broken off. And some Amazon tribes were wiped out in wars with men and centaurs. So, now it's a matter of dividing each tribe as they try to fight an enemy they can't see."

Samsara nodded. "Dividing us sure didn't take much. The attack on Thalia, the poison Seriana drank, the suspicion thrown on every Amazon..." Now that she understood, Samsara was impatient to do something about it. "So, now what?"

"Thalia's sign. I've seen it before. Actually, I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier. It's a mystical emblem," she started, then paused, feeling reluctant to say more. Jadea was unwilling to reveal all of her past, even to her blood relation.

"All right, so what does it mean?"

"I can't give you a translation, per se. Essentially, death is a result."

Samsara cocked a brow, "But Thalia isn't dead. She hasn't even been sick."

"I only know part of the equation right now. And if we don't keep our leaders and our Sisters from attacking each other's jugular, we won't live to see the answer."

Across the camp a little while later, one of the Highlanders noticed someone missing. She reported it to her superior, who then relayed the message to hers, whom in turn told Queen Vorgeen. Ah, bloody 'ell. She's not goin' to like this one bit.

Having calmed her niece, Jadea came into the Council hut and eyed Serena before she glanced at Vorgeen. I'm not going to like what?

It’s Angus. He's taken a horse and gone off, the Amazon Queen answered, anger lining her tone.

Oh, that. Don't worry about 'im. He's gone to play with our meal, Jadea sent back to her with a tone rich in mischief. She turned to the assembled elders and leaders of the tribes. "Listen up, ladies! I know we're all at odds with each other here. Many of us for sound reasons, and some for excuses. But this is neither the time nor the place for such debates or fights. Xena and Gabrielle have agreed to help us win this war. By denying their aid and advice, we will be condemning all Amazons to death."

In a distant valley...

"Let's see. There's five of you and one of me. Hmm, not fair odds, is it? Oh well," a man shrugged and got off his horse, fighting each attacker off with swift moves. Soon, his sword was covered in their blood. As the last fell, the man reached into his victim's robes and pulled out something - a medallion. "Hmm, now where have I seen this before? Oh, right! I have four others just like it. You boys won't be needin' 'em now. Tell Hades the Amazons send their thanks."


When Xena and Gabrielle finished their meeting with Celosia and Vorgeen, they exited the hut and proceeded to their next meeting with the other Amazons. As they were making their way across the camp, a woman carrying plates and wineskins came up to them. She said, "I am Valkyra and I know that ever since you have arrived, you have not had a chance to stop and eat. Here is some hot food and good wine for you to refresh yourselves."

Xena smiled and said, "I suppose that our next meeting can wait a few moments. Thanks, we haven’t eaten for a while."

"This venison and bread smells good. Thank you," said Gabrielle. "You said your name is Valkyra?"

"Yes, I am from the Rostovia Forest in the Caucasus Mountains."

Xena asked, "What do you do around here?"

"Well, I am still relatively new to the tribe and I am still not totally familiar with everyone’s background. But, as of late, they have made me the Weapons Mistress," answered Valkyra.

"So, you’re a teacher in combat weapons? You must be good fighter," commented Xena.

Valkyra replied, "So some have said, but I heard that you are one of the best if not the best."

"I suppose that I have just been luckier than most."

Gabrielle added, "She’s just being modest. You should see her in action."

"That I would like." Valkyra then asked, "I understand that you, Gabrielle, are an Amazon, but that you, Xena are not. They say that you have the traits of an Amazon, but that you do not wish to call yourself one. Why is that?"

"I don’t want to talk about it," Xena answered as she put down her empty plate. "Now let’s see what you have, Weapons Mistress!" Xena then pulled out her sword and squared off against Valkyra.

"I do hope that this is a friendly spar," said Valkyra as she took her blade out.

Gabrielle interjected, "Oh don’t worry; it is. Xena is just restless from all the talking that has been going on since she’s been here. She just needs to relieve her tension."

Valkyra had listened with great interest to details in the many stories that were told of Xena fighting her enemies. She knew that Xena, for the most part, would wait for her opponent to make the first move. So, Valkyra did not give Xena that advantage. She waited for the Warrior Princess to make the first strike.

Fortunately she was able to defend herself against the strong blow and counter with one of her own which was similarly blocked. Blow after blow was exchanged between the two warriors. Valkyra then felt Xena trying to knock her sword from her hand. Xena would soon succeed if Valkyra didn’t do something to prevent it.

Valkyra did a quick little dance step backwards and then jumped sideways, forcing Xena to turn, thus distracting her just long enough for Valkyra to slide her steel blade along the underside of Xena’s and hook the handle.

Valkyra was just about to twist her sword, which would pull Xena’s weapon out from her hand when Queen Celosia yelled out, "Valkyra! Xena! Stop the swordplay! Now! We have more important things to do!"

Out of breath, Xena said, "Valkyra, you are good."

Equally out of breath, Valkyra said, "You are quite skilled yourself. No wonder you have such a reputation. I am honored that we could have a go at each other."

"That was fun; I just hope that we will always be on the same side," said Xena as she and Gabrielle walked off to join Celosia.

"Thanks for coming to help us against the Majie," Valkyra called after her.




Attack of the Majie


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