The evening before the dance class, Kardia headed toward
Samsaraís hut with the ruby dagger in her pouch. It had been
days since Kardia talked to Sami. She wanted to know what else
could be done to fix the nearly perfect weapon and to question
about the resignation of Jadea. "I probably wonít get any
answer, but its worth a shot," she said to herself as she
made a beeline for the Teloanís hut.
Kardia needed to finish her work, but her protesting stomach led
her to the mess hall instead. Inside there were several athelfi,
and she noticed Toria sitting with an unfamiliar woman. She
would have loved to engage in conversation but she had only come
FOOD! Kardia thought to herself as Ryka slid a bowl of
hot food her way. This was the first real meal she had had in
days and nothing was going to get in her way. Kardia barely
acknowledged her sisters, except for the times her eyes met
theirs while they watched her downing her second bowl.
Kardia didnít notice the woman who had been sitting with Toria
come over. "Hungry?"
Kardia brought her head from out her bowl for a minute. She
had reason to be eating fast Ė she needed to see Samsara.
"Chrysippe," the newcomer said, introducing herself.
"Kardia... Demerci Fenal Archila," Kardia replied with
a mouth full of food.
"Would you like to join us? This isĖ"
"Toria," Kardia said before Chrysippe could finish.
"KardiaĖ" Toria responded as she got up from the
table towards the door. Toria turned back to Kardia.
"Itís not ready," Kardia said answering the question
she knew Toria was bound to ask.
"Tepae," the Dacian said. She left the mess hut
moments later, muttering something about having something to do.
"Another bowl, please!" shouted Kardia. She hated
being rude to Ryka, but she was hungry and she had many weapons
to fix. And she figured that tarrying on getting Samsara her
ruby dagger back was not a good idea either.
"That would make four bowls," Chrysippe said
humorously, bringing up four fingers for show. A second later
she brought it back down. She could tell Kardia didnít find
her joke funny.
"You look familiar." Kardia questioned Chrysippe,
eyeing her instead of her food. Her spoon still made it to her
mouth. She didnít need her eyes to fill her stomach.
"Have you ever traveled north of these lands?"
Chrysippe was ready with another one of her tales of deception.
"I have traveled to a great many lands," she boasted.
"How about Sinope? Everyone stops in Sinope!"
"Maybe... perhaps." Chrysippe kept her eyes focused on
Kardia. While the athelfis were talking, Chrysippe was stealing
whatever the Demerci Archila carried.
Kardia stopped mid-fourth bowl. Her faced turned green and her
eyes grew wide. "Excuse me!" Kardia yelled, holding
her stomach as she ran out of the mess hall.
Hours later . . .
Kardia returned to her hut after visiting with the Keturah
Archila, forgetting about the dagger that no longer hung at her
waist. She carried some herbs that Cassia gave her to soothe her
She slept long into the next morning. After eating so much food,
she had become sick. The herbs had had little effect. Her sick
stomach gave her a terrible nightmare and some unbearable heat
flashes. Kardia awoke to the sound of something smashing to the
ground inside her shop. She rushed to her shop to find Toria
picking up the weapons that had just fallen to the floor.
"Kardia.... I was just looking forĖ"
"I said it wasnít finished," Kardia said, still half
"I came to apologize for the other day in your shop and
yesterday." And I need to get my scribe back.
"Apology accepted. Just leave the mess, I will clean
it." Not the first thing I wanted to do this morning.
"I needed to get up anyway."
Toria looked around, noticing that the ruby dagger was missing.
She quickly took her scribe from the pile. She knew that Kardia
had questioned Cassia about the knife, and at this time, it
would bring gossip amongst the sisters. Quietly, Toria left the
"Toria about that Ė talking to myself now, huh,
Sobryn?" She turned to her pet eagle looking awkwardly at
her. "I missed Valkyraís announcement and Deirdre dance
class." Kardia complained to Sobryn. "How am I
supposed to know my sisters, if I canít even get through all
this work?" Kardia whined, looking at her owl and then the
pile of weapons. Kardia pondered the question for a long time.
"I NEED AN APPRENTICE!" Kardia said with glee,
frightening the eagle.
Wow, this should be fairly easy, Deirdre thought. Some
of the sisters had already broken out into dance after the new
Latra finished her announcement.
"Sisters...Sisters!" Deirdre had to practically
scream to get her soft voice to carry over the crowd. When she
finally did get all the attention, Deirdre became a little timid
"Um, my name is Deirdre, for anyone who doesnít
"Speak up!" shouted someone in the crowd.
"Deirdre! My name is Deirdre and Iím the dance
instructor here in Themiscyra. This is our first class, so no
one has to worry about catching up on any moves," she said
to all the onlookers. She became painstakingly aware that half
her students we older than she was.
"We are here to honor our old Latra and to celebrate our
new Latra and our new Lyna. We should be ready in a week. I donít
want to start anything today, to give anyone who isnít here
today a chance to come tomorrow. Today we will focus on any
questions you might have or any ideas you might like to share.
So with that said, any questions?
"Yeah, I have one . . ."
Dance class had ended. Seri had not attended. She had other
tasks to complete, and besides, felt certain that her current
lack of ability would translate to her feet, as well.
But there was a prisoner now Ė two, rather Ė and she was
good at prisoners. The one she herself had brought in was safely
asleep in the med hut and could be dealt with later. The other
had been brought by the watch and was secured. This was the
first priority: she liked having the prison empty as much as
possible, in case of emergencies.
She entered the small space, ducking a little to get through the
doorway, and looked at the woman before her. One thing was
obvious: she was Eastern. Her features bore the softened lines
of those who lived beyond the farthest eastern mountains. She
had obviously not been crying, and the guards had said sheíd
been remarkably calm and cooperative.
"Weíll start at the beginning," she stated without
The other responded, but in the musical stop-and-start form of
an eastern tongue.
"Do you speak Greek?" Seri asked, more gently now.
Shouting did little when a language barrier was involved.
"Do you speak Amazon?"
This would help very little, since Seri herself didnít speak
Amazon anymore, but the word seemed to register.
"Amazon," the prisoner echoed.
"I am Amazon." Seri pointed to herself. "Seriana.
Amazon." Then she pointed to the other.
"Kiran," was the response.
A shake of the head.
"Well, thatís a beginning." Seri crouched on her
heels and looked over Kiranís face. "Boy, youíre sure a
long way from home. Howíd you end up on this side of the
She answered, but it was incomprehensible. Seri bowed her head a
little to indulge her frustration. Jadea had been right. She
needed her abilities, and whatever curses might come with them.
She wanted to be able to communicate with this girl!
Slowly, she sat on the dirt floor of the prison, legs crossed.
Her eyes were just barely open. She was going to try again.
"May I not blow anything up," she muttered. Then she
remembered the feeling of being swept away, by Deinus, by power,
like a river or a hurricane. She tried to imagine a torrent of
something pouring through her, and somewhere in that torrent
there would be a little thread that was the gift of tongues.
Slowly, she opened her mouth. "Are you alone?"
"Yes," came the slow response Ė everything
seemed slow, under-waterish. "I am all alone."
"We are not going to hurt you."
Kiran answered, but it was gibberish again. Seri opened her eyes
and let out her breath. "Good grief, I did it!"
The Eastern woman looked confused and inquired something, but
the Watchmistress shook her head. "Sorry, itís gone now.
Are you hungry? I donít know if thereís a meal right now but
thereís bound to be some leftovers lying around."
Kiran didnít understand, so Seri made gestures to indicate
eating and got a nod in response. She got up, poked her head
outside, and called for a member of her watch. One came quickly
"Take our guest to have a wash and a drink at the well, and
then see if you canít find her food and shelter. And a
translator: sheís from the east."
"Yes, Watchmistress," came the immediate, and correct,
"Iíll check on you in a bit," Seri told Kiran, even
though she couldnít understand. "I have other matters to
attend to now." That said she headed through the purpling
twilight to see if her own catch was awake yet.
Ryka was in the kitchen, dressing one of the first deer that
Faelaís hunting party had brought in. She still couldnít
believe that Jadea was gone. She thought for a few minutes about
how Queen Jadea had shown kindness toward her when she needed it
the most. Days had already passed since the Queen had gone and
Ryka intended on giving the new Queen and Regent a celebration
dinner. Another day of preparation and she would make the
announcement of the celebration for the next evening.
Faela had made another trip to the Mess Hut at the back deck
where the kitchen carving tables are.
"Here is another deer, we took care of the skinning on
this one," Faela said with a smile.
"Well I donít blame you, I would have skinned this 10
point buck on the spot." Ryka said as she helped Faela lift
the deer meat to the deck for cleaning.
"That is going to make some kind of trophy, did you get
him with just one arrow?" Ryka asked as she had seen the
antlers and skins.
"Yes, I tagged him from a tree," Faela boasted.
"Good work. Itís a far cry better yield than what weíve
been getting lately; two more like this one and you can forget
about the others I asked for. These have an enormous amount of
lean meat all the way around!" Ryka proclaimed.
Faela nodded standing proud and left to speak to the
huntresses. She knew that Ryka would reward the hunting party
with a private sampling of the meal to come when they had
finished the hunt the following day.
Ryka heard someone in the mess hall and went to see who was
"Who is that you have there with you?" Ryka said to
one of Serianaís watch guards.
"Her named is Kiran, Seriana said to find her
some food," the watch guard said timidly
"Go sit over by the kitchen at that table, Iíll be
back in a minute." Ryka went to the kitchen and brought out
some cheese, venison, bread, and tea. Then she left again only
to return with two apples.
"She is from the East," the watch guard said
"Lue ci yan te jue?" Ryka tried to communicate in
some of the Chin language she knew, but Kiran looked as puzzled
as the watch guard did.
"Domo arigato," Ryka tried Japa also, no luck. She
was puzzled, maybe Kou could figure out what kind of mixture
of language Kiran was familiar with. Ryka gave up
and told the watch guard and Kiran to stay for as long as they
were eating. Then she went back to work. Kiran bowed her head
"Thank you," Ryka turned back around and looked
even more puzzled.
"Youíre very welcome." Ryka turned, wiped her
forehead and said, "Iím getting to old for this."
She mumbled all the way to the back deck to finish cleaning and
carving the deer meat up.
Faela found her hunters gathered at the watch hut.
"Archila Veíkyna," one said, bowing her blonde
"Word travels fast," Faela said with a smile.
Another hunter with black hair and blue eyes smiled happily.
"Well, weíd best get ready. We have a week to get all
the animals Ryka needs and many of you have language and dance
classes to attend to," Faela said, checking her crossbow
for any scratches. She only used the most cared-for weapons in
"Nai, Archila Veíkyna," the blonde said again,
and the group of five nodded.
"Please, call me Faela. Leave the title for formal
occasions," the Athelfi smiled and the group relaxed. She
could note the marked release of air when they realized Faela
would not be tough with them.
"How about after the midday meal tomorrow you meet me at
the gate, bring whatever weapons or traps you use. I will see
you girls tomorrow." Faela dismissed them and most walked
off smiling happily. The one with the black hair and eyes stayed
"Yes?" Faela asked. The girl looked like she had
something she had to say to Faela.
"Plie hiv diko sas kalos lakat mou?" I hear youíre
good at that. The girl said, using the Northern Amazon
tongue and motioning toward Faelaís crossbow.
"I am, why?"
"Well, Venlusia has been too busy to teach me how to use
it," the girl shrugged her shoulders. Perhaps it was
frustration. It was apparent that she really wanted to learn
this particular weapon.
"Tomorrow after our hunt, Iíll show you how to use it,
tepae?" Faela asked reassuringly.
The koritsi nodded and walked off following the other
Faela smiled then remembered the rather hungry puppy that was
running around her hut destroying anything it could get its
sharp little teeth into.
"Jundee vie!" Stupid women, Faela said,
cursing. She headed back to her hut.
After all the excitement of the last few days, Kou was
actually relieved to have a bit of a breather. Making sure the
language lessons werenít taking place at the same time as the
new dance lessons and Goddess knew what Faela was doing with the
hunting. She still hadnít shown up for class and Kou needed
her to help guide her group.
Kou took a deep, cleansing breath as she walked across the
camp to find Deoris. Sheíd had little time to congratulate her
friend on her advancement to Lyna. Just think, Deo is Lyna!
Kou knew that Deo would do well as she had always been the
patient one when they were kiz. Always taking the time to see
each point of view and find the best possible answer while the
rest of them screamed and fought for their own rights.
Just as Kou was closing on Deorisí hut, one of the Guards
ran up to her. "Isandil Archila! You are needed in the mess
hut! Seriana has found a traveler and we cannot understand what
she is saying."
Kou sighed. Sheíd have to wait longer to give her
congratulations to Deo. For now, she was needed, so she turned
in her path and followed the Guard to the mess hut. "Do we
know where she came from? I mean, have we tried any of our
languages with her?" Kou asked the girl.
"Well, Seriana asked if she was Amazon and the girl
said, Ďnoí, but we couldnít understand anything else. I
did watch as Seriana went into a trance and said something the
As they got to Rykaís, Kou turned to the Guard, "Why
donít you stay out here so we donít scare her too
much?" She then entered to find a thin young girl munching
on snack food with one of the guards.
Kou smiled at the girl and began to use different languages
to pinpoint their guestís origins.
Meanwhile, Faela sat on the wooden floor, trying to calm her
"Look, you little monster, if you sat still, youíd get
your dinner," Faela said, massive amounts of humor running
through her voice.
The pupís tail was going at a million miles an hour and he
barked happily as Faela sat the bowl of mild and bread down on
the floor. He rushed over to eat.
"Well, I guess that answers the question of whether or
not you were hungry!" Faela smiled and stood back up,
putting her hands on her hips. "Now I have to find you a
name, little monster." She pet him along the dark line of
fur that ran down his back. "Maybe something from my own
"If you keep talking to yourself, people are gonna think
your crazy," Deirdre commented from the doorway.
Faela turned a smile to the young dancer. "Practice go
well?" She asked, turning and heading to her room.
"Yeah, it went ok," Deirdre followed her and
flopped onto Faelaís bed.
"Well thatís good to hear," the huntress said,
removing her sword and crossbow and putting them carefully on
the weapons rack.
"Yeah... hey, when you are gonna come? It would a lot
easier for me to teach with you there," Deirdre said
rolling onto her stomach to watch.
"Iíve told you: Iím just not a dancer."
"Yeah... yeah, you told me. I just wanted to see if you
had a change of heart," Deirdre replied.
"Sorry, D, itíll be a blizzard in Hades before you get
me dancing!" Faela responded.
Deirdre didnít know what the big deal about dancing was
that turned Faela off. She didnít feel it was hard or
time-consuming or mind-boggling. For her, it was a great pastime
and an opportunity to have fun and meet sisters. Isnít
that what Faela wants anyway, to meet her sisters?
But Deirdre let the subject drop and moved on to another.
"Did you find a name for the little guy yet?"
Deirdre asked referring to the puppy.
"No, not yet. I was just wondering about that when you
came in. Any suggestions?"
"Actually, now that you ask, how aboutÖ"
Any thought that could have been going through Deirdeís
head disappeared she suddenly collapsed on the floor.
"Deidre was wrong?" she heard Faela say but she was
Deirdre felt herself being pulled into an incredible swirling
darkness that seemed to have no end. But eventually it did end
and when she finally awoke she was home.
Home not meaning her hut or even Themiscyra, but her real
home. Deirdre awoke in quarters, in the castle, in Parthos!
"Thank all the gods on Olympus. Sweet Deirdre, oh my
baby! I thought you would never recover from the illness"
Deirdreís mother exclaimed.
Ohhhhhh gods, whatís happened now? Deirdre thought to
herself as she looked at the relieved faces of the Queen and the
King Ė her mom and dad.
The four guards that accompanied the Latra carried torches to
light the way across the Tribal Assembly Area. Valkyra was
making her nightly rounds through the village, as was her custom
if time permitted. However, she was used to walking alone. But,
now that she was Queen, protocol and some of her closest friends
required that an armed escort accompany her wherever she went,
within limitations of course. Although she had the power to
dismiss them, Valkyra tolerated their company. And, although
this was the woman who slaughtered a large contingent of Caesarís
soldiers and did not need protection, Valkyra patiently endured
their constant company.
"Scyreia, keep me posted as to how the two new women are
doing," said the Latra. "I understand one is
recovering in the Med Hut from near starvation and the other is
in the mess hut with a guard. Is that correct?"
"Nai, my Queen," answered the guard.
Valkyra added, "I heard that Kou was sent for to find
some way of communicating with the eastern woman."
"That is so, Latra."
"Well, keep me posted."
"I will give you reports as their conditions
change," replied Scyreia.
As the five women continued on their rounds, they saw Latrina
running toward Samsaraís hut where Latrina and Selena stayed.
The Latra knew that something was wrong.
Little did she know that something else was wrong over in
Faela and Deirdreís hut. It was not to be a quiet night.
"Deirdre! Deirdre!" Faela screamed, holding the
young girl in her lap and lightly slapping her face, trying
desperately to wake her.
"Lothack, ma kanaz Deirdre!" Donít do this,
Not knowing what to do, Faela lifted the girl onto her bed,
carefully placing her head on the pillow. Deirdre was convulsing
and thrashing about, but appeared safe enough. She tucked a
blanket around her friend for good measure and safety and ran
through the camp to the med hut.
"Cassia!" Faela yelled as she barged into the hut.
"What is it, Faela?" Cassia asked as she closed the
door to a back room.
"Se nesi Deirdre! Something has happened to her. She
just fell down and started to shake and I canít get her to
stop! Please, you have to do something!" Faela urged, her
voice on the edge of hysteria.
"Letís go," Cassia grabbed a bag full of herbs,
motioned to a couple of apprentices, and followed Faela to her
Elsewhere, the horses were tied to a tree as Soraya gave them
some water. She kept looking at him from the corner of her eye,
he was a strange man, she never met any one that was like him,
and he was a very skilled tracker. She shook her head and told
herself to stop thinking of him.
"Are you done with the water?" Raven looked
at Soraya with a sly look, which made her go a little week at
"Yea here." She threw the waterskin at him.
He smiled and took a sip and went back to cleaning his blade.
She could feel his eyes on her now and again. But she tried to
ignore it and stay focused on finding Zia. She still didnít
trust Raven, she never trusted men; they always deceived her.
Why would he be any different?
"You know, not all men are evil." Raven gave
the sheepskin back to Soraya as though he read her mind.
"Why do you think that I think that? I never said
anything to you, did I?"
"There you go with the defensives, I can tell. You havenít
taken your eyes off me since we started on this journey. Now itís
either that you donít trust me or that you canít take your
eyes off me. He raised his eyebrows and gave her a sneaky
Soraya couldnít help but smile. "Yeah you wish! I donít
"You trust your Amazon Sisters donít you?"
"Thatís different. Theyíre my family. When there was
no one there for me they were, okay? So back off!"
"Okay, okay! Sorry, didnít mean to strike a
She turned her back to him to stop him from seeing her turn
red. It was his gaze; all the time he looked at her sheíd go
red. Come on Soraya heís not that cute! You canít trust
him; keep repeating that to your self. But he does have a really
good body. Ohhhhh STOP IT RAY!
Raven untied the horses and handed Soraya Spirit. She took
the reins and mounted him.
"Itís better if we carry on; in case any other thugs
come and try to rob us." Ravens mounted his stead and
lead the way.
Soraya followed trying to keep her thoughts on Zia, she was
worried about her, but this guy had her all silly like some kid,
and she didnít like it. Well, maybe a little. She missed her
sisters; she missed their wisdom that she really needed right
She was completely lost in her own thoughts that she hadnít
noticed Raven jump on top of her.
"What the hell are you doing? Get off me!!"
Just as she screamed those words a log came flying above
them, it would have crushed her for sure.
"Youíre welcome!" he screamed back.
She bit her lip. Damn he did it again! She got up and
cleaned the mud from her. She took a look at the log that could
have killed her, she turned to Raven but he was already on his
horse and heading forwards. She quickly mounted Spirit and
caught up with him.
"Never mind!" he cut her off.
"Hey, Iím trying to say sorry, the least you can do is
listen to what I have to say, you-you big oaf!"
"Well thatís a funny way of saying sorry"
"You didnít let me finish! Now listen and listen good
cause I will not say this again! Iím sorry I yelled at you
back there, ok. Thank you for saving my life."
Raven smiled at her. "That was a nice speech, its ok.
Any time, Amazon."
He started to ride slightly ahead, leaving Soraya behind with
her own thoughts. I should have picked up on that log, what
was a log like that doing there anyway? And how did he know
about it? It seemed like some sort of trap...
Cassia made it to Faela and Deidreís hut, with an
apprentice running to catch up, as was protocol. As she entered
the hut, she saw the problem immediately. Deidre was convulsing,
violently. Faela was standing nearby, hysterical. In other
words, she was of no help, whatsoever. Neither was her puppy,
who was responding to his ownerís behavior. She looked at her
apprentice. "Take both of them outside, and send for more
apprentices. And Toria, if someone can find her." The
apprentice did as she asked, though Faela did object to being
handled that way, and especially to being put out of her own
There was an ulterior motive to this. It also made it so that
no one witnessed her employment of her healing abilities. She
put her hands on Deirdre and began to find the source.
Something black hit her, and she mentally screamed, but stood
her ground. It was something large and black and appeared to be
upset that Cassia was even there. She fought it for a few
moments; Deirdre was her sister and her patient and she wasnít
going to allow something like this to keep her from doing her
However, whatever it was did not seem inclined to let her
win. It knocked her back again, this time harder. Her hands fell
away from the girl, and her body fell away from the bed. As she
lost consciousness, she heard, "Cassia!"
* * *
Iona put a hand over her belly, feeling the slight swell. She
was beginning to Ďshowí. This would have been more enjoyable
if she were able to leave her bed. But no, Cassia was making her
stay down. Never mind that she felt worse when she did stand,
she wanted to make that decision herself.
She did, however have plenty of guests. Alida, when she wasnít
training, eating, or going to classes. Toria, to treat and
otherwise help her along. Of course, Cassia, for the same
purpose. And various others, just to say hello and to keep her
But what she wanted was to be out there, among her sisters,
doing the things they were doing. But she couldnít. Her Ďconditioní
It was times like this when she truly cursed John.
* * *
Doron lay down on his bunk, his body aching in several
places, including one he hadnít been sure existed. Part of him
wondered if it was worth it, but the other part brought up a
picture of Naiya, and both parts agreed: it was.
He heard footsteps behind him. Doron shifted to his back, a
motion that hurt more than anything Hades could devise. He
looked in the direction of the footsteps. General Vaughn. Unless
he fancied killing himself, he could not move into the
appropriate, respectful stance.
"You will have to forgive me, General. Iím still
getting used to my new place in life. How may I be of
Cassia was knocked away, as if a disembodied hand shoved her
away from Deirdreís body. She dropped down by the edge of the
bed, head lolling to one side.
"Cassia!" Domaris caught the Keturah Archila before
her head slammed into the floor. She watched the gray eyes cloud
over with darkness. "Dali," she cursed.
She glanced at the Amazon writhing on the bed, then down at
the unconscious healer. Decision made, she laid the
russet-haired head gently on the floor. One of the apprentices
stepped up onto the porch, and Domaris slammed the door with a
wave of her hand. She turned to Deirdre.
"Zandeh basavolo sumani athelfi!" she called. Stop
torturing my sister! She put a hand out over the writhing
girl and met the same black wall Cassia had.
She wandered around the blackness, testing its boundaries and
itís borders. She poked it and watched it swirl around in
mesmerizing circles. She tried a little taste and found it foul
Just as she had suspected.
"Niv sumani ti," she told Deirdre. Beware my
There was a flash, a mini-explosion of sorts. Domaris was
thrown up and away from Deirdre, across the floor to lie next to
her sister Cassia. Unlike Cassia, she had been expecting it and
responded in kind.
"Kevatoba!" She shouted. Leave!
The girl on the bed stopped writhing. The blackness lifted
itself up out of the body a moment, swirled around and gathered
itself together, then dropped back inside the body where it
wrapped itself snake-like around the Amazonís mind.
Domaris nodded. Sheíd localized the problem enough that
Cassia could begin some kind of healing on the girl. At least
the seizures had stopped. It would have to do.
She waved backhandedly at the door and it opened behind her,
several apprentices rushing in.
"Take care of the Keturah Archila first," she
warned. Her voice gave nothing away, her icy blue eyes adding
weight to the words. When she was certain they would do as she
had ordered, she allowed herself to collapse to the floor.
* * *
Across the camp, Selena was suffering a similar fate. This
was no swirling vortex of sorcery, however, and the Goddess
Samsara could tell in an instant. This was a dark someone,
not a dark something.
And whoever it was wanted Selena to suffer.
Samsara wasnít entirely sure what to do. Get it out was the
obvious answer, but it seemed somehow a part of the Amazon.
Latrina tripped in through the door behind her. She stumbled
against Samsara, bracing herself. "Kax," she mumbled.
"How is she?"
"Iíd like to know the answer to that," the new
Latra announced, peering around the open door.
* * *
Kou ran a tired hand through her dark hair as she returned to
her hut. She still hadnít managed to figure out Kiranís
exact language. Sheíd exhausted all the languages of the east
that she could think of.
Perhaps tomorrow, she thought. When Iíve a clearer
* * *
Deoris had meditated until her nerves calmed. So she was
Lyna. What does a Lyna have to do anyhow? Bring the Latra
scrolls and news? She could do that. She had been one of the
best spies in camp once upon a time.
Of course, Sheíd been blind, and therefore invisible to
others. No matter. It was a skill she could relearn.
She tossed on the terribly comfortable mattress Samsara had
conjured for her. Really, how hard can it be?
Faela paced the veranda, her new pup following at her heels.
She thought again of Cassia and the Protectoress, both in her
hut trying to save Deirdre. Sheíd seen a bunch of apprentices
go in, as well.
Faelaís eyes glistened with tears at the thought of losing
her best friend. "Ohi!" Faela said harshly, running
down the steps of her hut and heading to the horse paddock.
She slammed open the gate and ran toward the stable. She need
to feel the freedom of the wind, the pounding of horse hooves on
grass. Turning her head, she saw Darkfire galloping towards her.
Without slowing down, Faela grabbed the reins and pulled herself
onto Darkfireís back.
Faela didnít need to sing her song to make Darkfire speed
up, the beast understood her need and her heart. They were out
the gate and thundering down the meadow in short order. Not even
a horse of the gods could have caught them.
Twenty minutes later, Faela lead Darkfire back into the
stables. They had ridden for miles and were now only just
returning. She felt better, but not much. But she had enough
sense not to ride her horse to exhaustion.
"My song," she thought, brushing her horse down as
it munched some oats. "It always calms beasts and birds,
the sick and injured. But whatever has Deirdre canít be tamed
by a silly song," Faela muttered to herself.
Finished grooming her animal, she left the paddock and
wandered back toward her hut. She wondered what she would find
when she arrived.
As Latrina stood up from her trip she studied Selena. "I
wish I could have a premonition now so we could figure this
out," she said with a sigh.
Samsara ignored the comment, focused on Selena. "This is
not good. I wonder how long sheís been this way. What else did
your premonition tell you?" she asked a little edge to her
"Premonition?" Valkyra asked. "Whatís
Latrina paused. Dali, just what I need. My lovely
so-called gift is going to be the cause of rumors and talk
through the whole village by tomorrow if I explain this to her.
I will be put in exile before I can start my new position in the
The Latra continued to study both Selena and Latrina,
expecting an answer.
The new Amazon felt herself go sick. She couldnít explain!
She wouldnít! Theyíd never understand!
"Look let me know about Selena... I have to get some
air," she said. Her stomach heaved at the look on Valkyraís
face. "I donít think it is benefiting me to be here right
Samsara looked at her hutmate, her intuition told her
something was wrong. "Latrina, wait! What is wrong?"
"I just donít think I should be here right now. I am
going to get some air," Latrina said with anger edging on
She left the hut before Samsara could say another word. As
she walked out of the hut she headed for Kardiaís hut. She was
her new apprentice and she should get to know her more if she
was going to be working in the tribe, even if it would be short
As Latrina left, Latra Valkyra looked straight to Samsara.
She wanted answers and fast.
"What of this premonition?" she pressed, walking
toward the cowering Cumae Paros.
"Latrina had a sense that Selena was in trouble,"
Sami explained, setting her hutmate down on the bed. From the
shock of the situation, she passed out. Sheíd be fine in a few
hours. "She had this look on her face, this... I canít
A new voice added answers. "It was just as when you had
your premonitions, Waka-musabi." Mariko stepped into the
hut, her clothing floating about her as she walked toward them.
"Latrina saw just as you used to."
"I... see." Sami mentally smiled at the word-play.
She stood up. "Well, I saw nothing here when I
came in. I donít know whatís going on."
"Youíre not seeing, Athanase," Mariko
"So, Selenaís all right," Valkyra said,
attempting to break the tension swirling in the room.
"I think she needs some real rest, Latra," Sami
responded. "I did sense something here. There is
evil lurking in the village." She said it as if she were
merely confirming suspicions. But the fact was, she was only
realizing what was going on.
"Itís why Iím back," Mariko responded. "Iíll
need to talk to your Protectoress."
* * *
Vaughn looked at the new recruit (no longer new) and stood
rigid. He was still proving himself to Dachus and had to be
tough if he wanted to keep his position of General.
"Stand at attention," he requested, despite knowing
how sore the soldier was.
Doron felt the edge in his voice and without protest, forced
his body to stand. Severe pain went through his body as he
brought his right hand up to his eye to present arms. He stood
straight as an arrow and kept his left hand at his side,
maintaining a straight path for his eyes.
"Iíll need you to learn how to command a small
squadron of men. Our ranks are growing and weíll need more
supervision for the newer recruits." He walked to Doron and
brought his right hand down to place by his side. "You donít
have to salute me yet. You just stand at attention." As
soon as he physically corrected Doron, he went on to explain
what precisely he needed. In the back of his mind was the
athelfi healer he met the last time he was in the village. She
haunted his dreams.
Faela didnít really want to see what was happening in her
hut, she slid down the wall next to the front door and put her
head on her knees.
A little fuzball hobbled over to her and began licking her
face and tried to worm its way onto her lap. Faela sniffed and
laughed slightly at the pupís antics.
"Ok, little fella, hop up." Faela pulled him onto
her lap and he curled down and promptly fell asleep.
"Just what I need, an extra weight on me," Faela
said, her voice cracking. Just thinking of Deirdre in pain was
enough to destroy whatever walls Faela had spent years building
around her heart. "Sheíll be ok, she will little one, sheíll
be ok" she repeated to herself as the evening wore on.
Sitting on the floor of her hut in the dim candlelight,
Chrysippe couldnít help but gloat. The way the dagger sparkled
as the light danced across the facets of the rubies, its perfect
weight and balance in her hands Ė it was everything she could
hope for. This will make a fine tribute to the new Latra, she
thought to herself. When she sees what I can acquire for
her, she is bound to be pleased with me. Perhaps she will even
give me a fitting position within the tribe...
She began to think of the past few days as she stared into
the hypnotic glimmer cast from the gems. It had been a difficult
time. Not only for the tribe, but also especially for her. Jadeaís
passing of her title and responsibilities caught Chrysippe
particularly off guard. However, after careful consideration,
she concluded that perhaps these events were merely the work of
the Fates interfering on her behalf. She had never so much as
seen the former Queen, but she had met
Valkyra. In fact, she had even got the impression that she had
been somewhat impressed by the young girl. A smile passed over
Chrysippeís face as she thought of this.
On the other hand, the weapons instructor of the new recruits
had been less than impressed with her. All of her showboating
the previous day had left a sour impression on the instructor,
one that was worsened by Valkyraís scolding. As retribution,
she worked Chrysippe hard: using her for demonstration for
skills she had not yet learned, doubling the amount of
calisthenics for Chrysippe in comparison to the other recruits,
sending her on frivolous errands and insisting that they be
completed in double-time; the list went on. Chrysippe bore it
all without complaint. She knew what the instructor was trying
to do to her, and she refused to give her the satisfaction of
thinking for even a second that her spirit had been broken.
Just that morning, the instructor had given Chrysippe yet
another menial task. Earlier, the more advanced students were
drilling with practice broadswords. Although the blades had no
sharp edge to them, they were at least twice the weight of a
normal sword. Teaching the students to master such a heavy piece
of equipment improved their use of the real sword in battle,
thereby increasing their skills. In the course of their session,
one broke. The instructor assigned the chore of bringing all of
the practice swords to the forge for inspection and repair to
Chrysippe, and insisted that the task be completed in one trip.
She did not protest, but instead quietly gathered the heavy
utensils up and headed towards the forge.
The weight was nearly unbearable. Cursing in her mind the
entire way, she finally reached the forge and she thought she
would drop with exhaustion. She made her way inside.
"Excuse me... I have some practice swords that need to
be inspected. One shattered today during practice." There
was a muscular woman was pounding away at a piece of semi-molten
metal with a great hammer.
"Just what I need. More to do," she muttered in a
gruff tone. "Place them on that table over there," she
said without even looking up.
Chrysippe complied with the order. As she made her way over
to the table, she nearly gasped in disbelief. There was the
dagger she had coveted, all polished and sparkling with the
brilliance of the sun. She carefully placed the practice swords
on the table, never taking her eyes off of the dagger. I
could just take it now...it would be so
simple. She is distracted, and hardly even notices me. The
woman still pounded the metal at the forge, her back towards
Chrysippe. But no, that would raise too much suspicion. She
could trace it straight back to me. And what would that prove to
the Latra? That Iím good at getting caught? I canít have
As she placed the last sword on the table, she had a plan
squarely set in her head. Now that she knew where the dagger was
and how carelessly it was lying about, she knew that it was hers
for the taking. She would watch the forge like a hawk, waiting
for that perfect opportunity. But she would not wait too long,
lest the dagger be returned to its owner. She left the forge
quietly, as to not rouse the womanís attention away from her
Chrysippe flew back to the training grounds on invisible
wings. When the session was complete, she loitered outside the
forge carefully. She wanted to keep a careful eye on the comings
and goings within, but not look out of place. Just before
mealtime, the woman emerged looking as preoccupied as she did
while she worked. Chrysippe smiled, then slipped inside the
building. She headed straight for the table but was a little
surprised to see the dagger gone. She must have it with her.
No matter. I can still get it.
Hurriedly, she left the forge and followed the woman from a
safe distance. She seemed as determined to reach her destination
as she was to bend the metal at the forge. Suddenly, she veered
off towards the mess hut. Chrysippe followed closely.
She got something to eat, never taking her eyes off her
intended target. She eats as ravenously as a jackal,
she chuckled to herself, watching the woman shovel food into her
mouth. Quietly, she made her way over to the womanís table.
She introduced herself, sizing up the woman the way a tiger
sizes up its prey before it strikes. It was obvious that the
woman was not in the mood for pleasantries. Just as well.
Chrysippe sat next to Kardia, and watched the woman devour bowl
after bowl of stew. It was almost humorous to watch, but it was
the perfect opportunity for Chrysippe. She reached under the
table with surgical precision, and removed the dagger from the
pouch on Kardiaís belt, where it was so obviously held.
Chrysippe had just tucked her prize safely into the folds of her
own clothes when the Kardia suddenly stopped and ran from the
mess hut. She finished her own meal, and then graciously excused
Now she was sitting in her hut, cradling the dagger in her
hands. Chrysippe picked up a piece of soft buckskin, and wrapped
the blade up protectively with it. She went over to the wall
where she had hidden the rest of the items she so carefully
collected. Removing the sack that she stored her treasure in,
she glanced inside. She had been busy over the past few days,
lifting coin purses, jewelry, and other objects of interest and
value. She placed her greatest prize inside the leather sack
then carefully hid it away. All that was left now was to plan a
meet with Latra Valkyra to present her with her fitting tribute.
As Latrina walked towards Kardiaís hutÖ
Kardia had been looking high and low for the ruby dagger.
"Where is it?" Kardia screamed into the air. She had
lost the dagger Samsara had given her. This brought a lot of
concern to Kardia. She never misplaced things or left work
unfinished. Something was bothering her and she didnít know
what it was.
"Kardia?" said Latrina outside the open door of the
"Just in time.....I have misplaced, lost a dagger. It is
"What does it look like?"
"Its a dagger with a ruby in it. You canít miss it."
So how did I? Kardia thought. "A pile of weapons had
fallen the other dayÖ I havenít seen it since." Kardia
said lifting her head above the table.
"Tepae," Latrina wasnít one to argue, she of course
was Kardiaís new apprentice and this was her first task. Was
this a test? Latrina thought.
"Kax... Tre kanete tu?" Kardia said. Latrina had a
puzzled look on her face. "How are you? I know it is hard
picking up the language. Fortunately I am a quick study,"
"Iím fine... Tepae." Latrina knew her sister meant
well by her statement.
"Really, you look troubled. Of course, this is not the
first thing I wanted you to do as my apprentice!" Kardia
could tell by Latrinaís face that something was wrong, but she
did not want to push it.
"Really?" Latrina wanted to explain to someone about
what had happened, but she wasnít sure Kardia would
understand... or even if she herself understood.
"Kax!" Kardia said apologetically. She wasnít used
to sharing her space. This of course would be another task to
All of a sudden Kardia remembered Toria being in the shop early
the other day. It canít be! Kardia thought.
Latrina and Kardia wanted to talk as they looked for the dagger,
but silence felt better. Each sister was dealing with their own
personal problems and if they could help each other, was a
questioned not asked.