A Time to Learn


Kou moved the benches and chairs around until she was finally satisfied with the arrangement. She continued to plan her curriculum. "My students will be here soon," she thought. "I need to find out who knows how to speak what languages." She took a bite of cheese and looked out the door toward the Mess Hut to see if any of the girls were coming. As she opened the door, she let some freshly driven snowflakes in. Kou looked at the sky and said, "A blizzard could be approaching for all we know."


Faela was still trying to decide what she should do as she watched the trainees depart from the Training Ground. "Which way should I go?" She asked herself. She looked toward the Watchmistress' Guard Hut and then turned back toward the Training Ground. There was no one there now; it was deserted. She thought that she heard something speaking to her. She cocked her head and listened intently. It was the wind. It told her to head in the direction of the Training Ground.

She ran through the lightly falling snow and stopped by the Armory. She knocked once, then twice. No one answered, so she tried the door. It was unlocked, so she entered. She had never seen so many weapons stored together. She remembered Valkyra saying that any adult Amazon could use any of the weapons in here as long as they were very careful. And, that they must clean the weapons if they got dirty during use. Faela slowly walked among the rows of weapons hanging from the walls. She spied a crossbow that she especially liked. The Amazon from Gaul gently took the crossbow down and examined it closely. She then found some of the crossbow bolts. After taking a handful, she carried the crossbow outside to the Archery Range. Although the snow began to come down harder, she put a bolt to the bow and cocked the trigger. Faela took careful aim at a target. It was a straw deer. She released the trigger, bull's-eye. She repeated the procedure, bull's-eye. After shooting several more bull's-eyes, she relaxed and smiled.

"It is a good grouping in the bull's-eye," said a voice behind her.

Faela spun around and found herself face to face with Valkyra, Regent and Weapons Master of Themiscyra.

"My Regent, I didn't know that you were watching. Ah, I was only practicing. I will return the crossbow to the Armory."

The Weapons Master smiled and said, "Only when you are finished with your practice. Now, tell me; can you shoot consistently like that?"

"I believe so, my Regent."

"Can you hit a live running deer as easily?

Calming down a bit, Faela answered, "I am certain of it."

The Regent asked, "Then, how would you like to become the Chief Huntress for the Tribe?"

"Chief Huntress?" replied Faela nervously.

Valkyra explained, "Yes, the Amazon known as Antigone had been Chief Huntress, but she left to go on nok'tana. She has been gone a long time now and we really need someone to lead the hunting parties. With your skill and under your direction, a party of hunters would have a much greater success rate in bringing down the game that we need for food."

"I would be honored to take on the position. Thank you, my Regent," said Faela.

"Good, I will inform Queen Jadea that I have found someone. I am sure that she will approve your appointment."

Faela looked wishfully down at the crossbow.

"You can keep the weapon if you like," added Valkyra.

The new Chief Huntress smiled and said, "My thanks, Weapons Master; I will take good care of it."

"You are not limited to hunting with just a crossbow. You can use any weapon that you want to hunt. I know that different game animals require different weapons to hunt them with," said Valkyra. "Now, you can go tell Ryka of your new position, for you will be coordinating with her need of food to cook."

"Oh! I will! Thank you and the Queen for the new title." With that said, Faela ran off to find Ryka.

The Regent smiled, knowing that Faela would make an excellent Chief Huntress. "Now, I must go and find Deirdre."


The Amazons were just about finished with their midday meal. Chrysippe took a swig of water and thought to herself, "There's that ruby encrusted dagger again. The girl sure is being careless with it. Why, anyone could lift it." But, she knew that she didn't want to be thrown back into the jail again. "I have got to put the ruby out of my mind, at least for now."

"Chrysippe!" A voice called to her from the door. It was the same Amazon who rushed her to the Training Ground earlier. "Come on! You'll be late for language class. You can't be late for that."


"Wear something warm, little kitten," Domaris said, looking up from her book. She lay lazily across a divan, draped in a bearskin that gave Deoris the creeps.

Not for the first time, she wished she could toss the bearskin, the dainty white-silk divan, the multitude of colored veils and the Persian carpets out with her Sorceress sister. What HAD she been thinking?

"Fine," Deoris said. She dug through the crude wooden chest at the foot of her cot and removed her goatskin coat. She shrugged into the old garment and lifted her staff from its place by the door of their hut. "I'll see you then."

"Have a nice time. Give Kou my regards." Domaris waved a hand, causing the flames of the fire to leap up.

Deoris paused. "You could come, you know. I'm sure she'd like familiar faces around."

"I know what I need to know, thanks. I'm not the world traveler she is, but I have been around. I'll see her in the mess hall, I'm sure." She turned a page in the leather-bound book.

The Priestess sighed. "Suit yourself," she grumbled, going out into the light snow. She shivered at the sudden temperature change. "Thanks!" she called out to the closed door. She knew her sister would hear.

She made her way across the main square to the Tribal Hut. It was the learning and gathering center when the weather forced the Amazons indoors. They preferred to learn outside when they could, of course, appreciating the beauty of the surrounding forest and the hands-on method to learning. But it wasn't possible every day, so they utilized the Tribal Hut, built close to the Council and Queen huts.

The Ti'Sa stomped her feet as she entered, a cascade of little flakes of white falling her dark hair. Several Amazons were already inside, warming by the fire. They smiled and beckoned to her, clearing a space for her.

She let the coat drop from her shoulders and hung it on a peg by the door among the others. Her staff she kept to hand, a symbol more of her status than as a threat to her athelfi. The door creaked as she turned and a tall blonde Amazon she'd never seen before entered the room.

"Wonder who that is," she asked herself. She never discovered the answer. From across the room came a squeal of delight, the sounding of many bells, and a flash of red hurled itself at her.

"Deoris!" she was enveloped in dark hair and a warm hug.

"Kou, sumani psogonos," she laughed. My missed one. "Ti lapinos tu rayit?" How have you been?


Walking slowly towards the hut where the language class was to be held, Chrysippe took some time to think. She fiddled with her amulet she wore, feeling its weight and engravings on her fingers. It seemed to emanate warmth, despite the cold. She hadn't realized how much she missed wearing it. Now that she had it again, she felt somehow comforted.

The Weapons Master had mentioned that the Queen would want to meet with her soon. That didn't sit well with her. Chrysippe's upbringing engrained in her the belief that she needed to continuously prove her worth. She had watched her friends in the caravan be flogged for not meeting the "quotas" the caravan's patriarch placed for pick-pocketing the marketplace crowds. She herself had felt the sting of the lash a couple of times for her own inadequacies. She worried that perhaps there were standards she was not aware of. There were the comfortable lodgings and the good food, not to mention the training. Chrysippe shivered. Yes, she thought to herself, they are going to want much from me.

Chrysippe's mind skipped back to the mess hut. That girl wears that ruby dagger so carelessly, she thought. Right then she resolved that she should definitely be relieved of it. It would make the perfect offering for when she was called before the Queen. She thumbed her amulet again. I should hide this as well. What if she wants this as well? I couldn't stand to lose it again. As she came to the hut, she knew what she had to do.

She opened the door and walked in, shaking the snow from her hair. Apparently she was the last to arrive. It was full of the girls from that morning's training, and a couple other women she didn't recognize. That didn't surprise her though. She knew there were still many faces she would need to get to know. Suddenly, a wave of jingling red embraced another woman. They spoke words that she did not understand, but somehow seemed familiar. It was as if she recognized it from a very long time ago.

The two smiling women finished with their pleasantries. One took a seat, while the one wearing dancing bells took up a place in front of the class. "Yasoo athelfi," she began, "My name is Kou Wainohia, and I will be instructing you in the language of the Amazons."


Toria wasn't in the mood for learning; and although she wasn't fluent in Amazon, she could get by on what she knew. Besides...Dria was all for the classes, and if Toria didn't go Dria could fill in the gaps in her vocabulary.

To be totally honest, Toria was feeling very nervous around Themiscyra lately. During her time in Rome, she had learned to be wary around strangers. With all the new Amazons, Toria was nervous and jumpy. Dria, on the other hand, was loving meeting all the new women and girls.

"Oh, come on Toria! You'll love it. All these new people. Everyone will be going, and you'll be the only one in the whole village that isn't there, you know." Dria watched her sister rooting through her weapons chest. All she got in answer was a grunt.

"You only don't want to go 'cause you're afraid. Well, if you're not coming to the lesson, - what are you going to do?" Dria crossed her arms, tapping a booted foot impatiently while her twin dug deeper into the chest.

Toria didn't answer for several moments. "Ah ha! I, sister dear, just found out that we finally have a blacksmith in Themiscyra. When I left Rome, I dropped something very important to me, and now I'm going to go find out if I can get a new one made for me." Toria waved a scroll in front of her sister's face teasingly.

"What is it?" Dria tried to snatch it out of her sister's hand.

Toria unfurled the scroll with a flourish, showing off the sketches drawn in charcoal with pride.

"It's a knife." Dria said, her curiosity deflated.

"Ah but look at the shape of it." Toria pointed out.

"Okay, so it's a knife with a curve." Dria answered, unimpressed.

"It's not just a knife. It's a knife designed precisely for the perfect kill. It's the exact right length to pierce the heart and the curve slides perfectly across the throat."

"An assassin's knife? But Toria you can't possibly be thinking about... going back to that sort of life, are you?" Toria was worrying Dria. It might be useful to talk to Jadea before the end of the day.

"No. I found that it's also perfect for surgery. The metal is a special mix and it holds it edge well. Cassia will love me for it."

Somehow, the mention of Cassia's name reminded Dria of the time. "Oh! I'm late for class. I'll talk to you later." Dria scooped up a blank scroll and a quill, as she ran out the door only stopping to say "Behave!" then she was off running.

Toria smiled and left the hut herself, heading to the forge where she knew the Demerci Fenal Archila was setting up shop.


Samsara Athanase was also on her way to the Demerci Fenal Archila's. Before Kardia's appointment to the position, the Themiscyrans had taken to mending their own weapons if they could or sending a messenger to the nearest village to get them fixed there. Both options were either time-consuming or expensive, or both. The Teloan had done some of her own work when she was a part of village life, refusing to allow her secondary weapons to any one else's care. They were simply too dangerous to not have her eyes on her weapons or know where they were at all times. And gods forbid if she ever let Marion's sword in anyone's possession. When she was on excursions with her army, she simply made the local blacksmith handle the job until she found a worthy smith in Philoctetes. Of course, now, General Philoctetes was dead.

Dead. The state of her army was such that it was no longer as powerful as when she inherited it. Maybe half were new and the rest had been around since the times when they pledged allegiance to Caesar (before Samsara's arrival). What if she hadn't wrenched power away from Minos years ago? Would Philoctetes live?

No. Miletus would have found a way to destroy him. It was hard to say if the army was better off now. She made a mental note to shape them up and empower them more.

She put those thoughts out of her head before they turned to the Senior General. Samsara went straight for the newly erected structure. She spotted Toria along the way, but managed to get in before the ex-thief. Sami hadn't known what to make of Toria at first. Now she was simply getting used to her. She supposed that was fine.

Karma's mouth emitted an "ooooo" as they entered. Bodhisattva stayed outside and rested in the light snow. He loved snow.

"Kardia?" Sami said. The Athelfi looked up from her current work, fixing a Siberian warrior's sword.

"Queen Samsara," she responded, wiping the sweat from her brow. She had been working on weapons since lunch. Kardia was known already for her hard work. There was something to be said about her in that regard.

There it was again. Queen Samsara. I'll have to change that, she thought. She didn't like it and she didn't understand why it had to be so simple. Born of complication, life of complication... She almost lived for the drama. Well, maybe.

"What can I do for you?" she queried, cutting the pause.

"Oh, yes... I'd like you to fix this dagger when you have a chance," she said, pulling out Zia's dagger that the Roman gave to her. Her thoughts momentarily went to her... Where was she? And where was Jadea? She placed the ruby-encrusted blade on the table with the others. "When you get a chance, no hurry on it. Efharitsu tu."

"You're welcome. Your child is beautiful by the way."

Samsara smiled warmly. "Herete," she answered, turning. She then stopped suddenly and turned back. "Oh, by the way, how much do you know about shields?"

"As much as I can know, I suppose."

"Would you teach me some about making them?" No, Samsara wasn't good at everything. Thankfully.

"When the work is cleared some, nai of course." Kardia pulled up her hammer and started banging away. She wasn't being rude. She just needed to get the work done. And there was a lot of it.

The Mama and her Nene left the hut. She had run, however, into something outside that she didn't like.


Cassia was not happy. She'd been dragged out of the Med hut to this class to learn new languages. She didn't have anything against the teacher; much the opposite, she wished her the best of luck. She just wanted to be in the Med hut, treating patients. That was all she wanted to do today. Unfortunately, a certain young woman wasn't giving her that option.

The young woman in question was standing next to her, long blond hair gleaming, looking quite a bit happier than she had in the last few weeks. Iona was finally getting over her sickness, though it was apparent that she was going to have to take her bed again after the class. She'd wanted to look into it, because she knew little of the Amazon language. Her sweet blue eyes looked happily about her and she returned the smile of many a sister. Cassia smiled herself.

Perhaps she would give this class a shot, for as long as Iona was interested. It got the girl out into the village, at least. She looked around, wondering where Toria was. If she had to be here, she would make darn sure her assistant was here as well.


Holding Deoris at arm's length, Kou answered her question, "Poli kala tu?" Very fine and you?

"Tu'ta ghat!" You're soft! Deoris laughed at her.

"Jil meh ena rumatok gorud!" Sit down and shut up! Kou laughed in response. "Plie psogo tu." I missed you.

Deoris sat in the class to watch her childhood friend and support her in her first day at her new position.

Standing up in front of her athelfi, Kou nervously sucked in her breath and slowly let it out. This was going to be the most difficult and salient test of her ability as Isandil Archila in Clymene's place.

She smiled at her gathered koritsi, "Orisate athelfis! Tre kanete tu? Cu culm ena durus Tae'Nah arcis, si komal cu malak simi isandil." Looking at a number of confused faces, she translated, "Welcome Sisters! How are you? To build a strong Amazon nation, we must learn our language."

"To those of you who don't know me, I am Kou Wainohia and I was born here in Themiscyra. I have been traveling in the world to prepare me for this position and I hope to be of service to our Latra and our tribe. I hope to be giving lessons to small groups of you at a time. I feel that we need at least five of us speaking each known language and all of us learning our own."

"I know some of you all ready speak other languages beside this common Latin we are now using. Please stand when I call your name so I may recognize the person to the name, Deirdre."

Deirdre stood hesitantly in the group wondering what this archila could have in mind for her on this first day of class.

"Tepae, now Selena."

Selena also stood and looked at the crowd in the hut.

After looking closely at the two girls, Kou nodded her head, "You may sit now."


"Hmmmm......Well, I'll get to her later. I'll need you girls to form into groups of five at first until we see how many of us there are. If needed, we can break you down into groups of four. I would like Morigan, Ryka, Soraya, and Xela in separate groups. I will explain why later. After the groups are sorted, I will answer questions."

Kou walked over to where Deoris was sitting and collapsed next to her while the other girls busily and a bit noisily moved about the hut positioning themselves into their groups.

"Well, how do you think it's going so far?" she asks Deo.

Deo laughed, "I don't think it's been long enough to tell, really."

Kou made a wry face, "Tepae, then tell me about you and Konia and the rest of the "old" tribe. How have things gone since I've been away? Give me the highlights! And the good gossip, who's mad at who?"


The Demerci Fenal Archila heard voices outside her shop and regarded it as nothing more than Queen Samsara chatting with another athelfi. Through Kardia's hard work and sweat, she did not notice Toria's hovering eyes watching her. When Kardia glanced up she saw the Kuntai Keturah looking past her at the table of unfinished weapons.

"Can I help you?" asked Kardia.

Toria's eyes quickly moved into a different direction.

"Do you need something Toria?" Kardia said sternly.

"Once when I was in Rome, I had a knife like this." Toria lifted the picture of the sword in front of the Archila.

"I have made many weapons for my Amazon sisters," replied Kardia "but never for an assassin."

"It's not for an assassination. It's for medicinal procedure."

"You are not the Keturah Archila," Kardia said with humor

"If you can't make it, then..."

The Archila's body shifted into a defensive position.

"When do you need it?" Kardia asked with a tempered voice.

"Whenever is best for you," the Keturah replied. Toria's eyes followed the picture of her weapon as it was placed in the pile next to the ruby dagger. Kardia also watched the way Toria's eyes kept focused on the dagger.

"Is there something else I can do for you?" Kardia inquired.

Without a goodbye, Toria left the shop.

Kardia was starting to feel the stress of her work. I think it's time for a break. Why not join the others in the tribal hall. Learning a new language might not be as tiring! Kardia entered the tribal hall to find her sisters already dismissed for the day.


While the girls in the language class arranged themselves accordingly...

"You have a nasty, nasty habit of eavesdropping, don't you?" Athanase said the moment her eyes lay on the girl.

Toria hardly looked up from Bodhisattva. "I wasn't eavesdropping, I came to visit Kardia. Of course, you beat me to the punch."

"Don't you have a class or something to attend to?" the Goddess countered, sucking on her teeth. The hound instantly stood on his feet, ready to follow. "The Isandil Archila won't be happy to realize you're not in class."

"That's where Dria comes in." Toria stood, holding open the door to the forge. "Now, if you'll excuse me...?"

"Of course." Sami was bored. She was also itching for a confrontation, but Toria wasn't the one for her... at least then. She shrugged. Why not head over to the class anyway? Just because she was finally near fluent in Amazon didn't mean she couldn't sneak a peek at the classes anyway. She wanted to know what it was like for Amazons to sit in a hut and learn a language. Any of the several she spoke were picked up here and there. When she first came to Themiscyra years ago, her knowledge of Amazon translated into many a broken sentence. If Medea, the Giensata's sister, hadn't hated her for other reasons, her lack of knowledge of the language would have been reason enough.

She slipped into the hut to find the others attempting to arrange themselves into suitable groups of five. Kou was too trusting. The girls needed to be arranged, not left to arrange themselves. Samsara asked and got her answer. Groups of five. And so, the Teloan took to arranging the Athelfi into the requested groups. There was one of four, and she assigned herself to that one.

Kou was in conversation with Deoris. Athanase walked over.

"Isandil Archila, We're ready for instruction. I'm sure there will be time for you and the Ti’Sa to catch up. What with Lyna Medea gone on nok'tana, there's not a saga of gossip to relate. Of course, there are a lot of stories, and if the Ti’Sa doesn't mind, I can share them with you." She turned back to her group and sat down on the bench. She'd give the classes a chance.

Before Kou could say a word to what had just happened, Deoris said - almost as if reading her mind -, "Ask no questions. I have no answers about Samsara."


Kou looked up, startled by Samsara's sudden appearance. Patting Deoris on the shoulder, she rose up from the bench and took her place at the front of the room.

"Now that everyone is in a group, we will decide which groups will have their lessons when and what language they will be learning besides Amazon."

A number of groans and whispers could be heard as it dawned on the Amazons that they were learning more than one language at a time.

"I know a few of you will get confused at first, but it will become easier as you go along, and the purpose of being in your group is that you will have others to practice with. These girls will be your close friends and I suggest that when you are with each other, you speak only in your given language and practice the Amazon with whomever you are able."

Kou then went to each group to assign them their language and time of lessons. Faela's group was to have lessons after breakfast as hunting was best done in the mornings and evenings, her group was learning Gaulish, Morigan's group was between breakfast and lunch and they were learning Celtic. Ryka's group was to have lessons after the noon meal as she was cooking at other times and her group was learning Chin. Late afternoon was given to Xela's group, who were learning Slavic and the early evening class was for Chrysippe's group and their Persian lessons.

Kou's afternoon was spent supervising the different groups and giving them assignments for the rest of the day. She couldn't wait for the evening when she would be able to relax and get used to the camp. It was a new camp for her, having been born in Latra Lysippe's camp up the river. Kou wanted to find her mother as well, since she hadn't been able to see her yet either. So much needed to be done.

Finally, she released the girls into the late afternoon and walked with Deoris into the fire circle.


Jadea would have loved to go to the class but she had been and still was busy with a letter to the Greek Amazons. Jadea's head snapped up, she could feel a presence... somewhere.

"I know you're there," she said to whoever was listening.

"Well met, Amazon Queen." A shimmer of light coalesced into Chiron, God of healing, before the table Jadea was seated behind.

"Can I help you?" Jadea ran her eyes over the god, recognizing him from descriptions. He seemed harmless enough, compared to the gods Jadea was used to dealing with.

Chiron's tail twitched lazily at a fly and the Queen's eyes were drawn to the Centaur's hindquarters, where part of an arrow shaft protruded from a wound bloody and ragged. "What happened? Perhaps you should go to the Med-hut. We have a wonderful healer, and one of her apprentices is also our Kuntai Keturah. Together I'm sure they can figure out how to get that fixed up for you," she said, strangely not offering to heal the wound herself.

"No, I need to tell your Sister, Toria, something of gravest import."

"I'll send for her. Just wait." Jadea stood up and went to the door. She opened it and asked Niata, the guard on duty, to go find Toria.

"And Dria?" The Amazon asked, knowing one rarely went anywhere without the other.

"Dria is here?" Chiron asked startled. "Ever she was the cautious one I doubted she would have left the comfort of her homeland. Please I must needs speak with her too."

"And Dria too." Jadea added, closing the door after and returning the pool of light that came from the window above the door.

Chiron's eyes took on a glazed look, all of his muscles tensing. "Lady, I must go. This arrow is hind's blood and Zeus has agreed to let me stay a little while longer, but you must pass on my message. Give them my love." Chiron drew a scroll sealed with ribbon and wax from mid air laying it down on Jadea's table. And just as he appeared, he disappeared.


Dria practically ran home from class. She couldn't wait to tell Toria about it.

Toria sat at the battered oak table in the center of the hut, pieces of parchment with odd marks covering them. The thief tapped the falcon feather quill against the edge of the table sending ink everywhere as she absently stared off into space.

"Toria! We had so much fun. I'm learning Chin. And I was talking to one of the other Amazons who have been there and it sounds incredible. Do you think I'll be able to visit there one day? And Kou Wainohia is a great teacher. You should have been there!" Dria slid, breathless, into a seat beside her twin.

"Yeah, that's nice, Dria." Toria said absently, obviously not paying attention to what her sister said. Dria pinched her sister on the arm. "What? Oh, Chin. Dria, I speak Greek, some Amazon, the garbled speech that passes for a language in Rome and our own tongue. Do I really need to learn another language?"

Dria pouted disappointed her sister didn't have the same enthusiasm she did.

"One thing though. When you say 'Good day' you need to stress the heh sound not the jeh sound." Toria scribbled a little more on the parchment.

"You were there then weren't you?" Dria said assuming her sister had climbed up on the roof as was sometimes her habit. "You speak Chin?" Dria was confused now. Eventually Toria had told her everything about her the time after she left Dacia, from how she got to Rome to when she met Xena and then was dragged practically kicking and screaming to Themiscyra. A side trip to the Far East had never been mentioned.

"No, I have a knack for language. 'Would you two stop that?' " Toria's voice changed as she followed the tone and pitch of Cassia's voice. "’Won't you ever learn?'" she said in Jadea's exasperated tone, the one the Latra saved for the twins alone was perfectly reproduced.

"Oh, do Ryka!" Dria begged.

"'Where is that cask of rum. Toria! I know you're here somewhere!'" Two Sisters passing the hut hurried past, as Ryka's voice full of fury came through the open window.

"Samsara!" Dria said.

"'What are...'"

"You two up to now?" Samsara finished for Toria, standing in the open door Dria had left as she had come in earlier.

Toria cleared her throat. "Well, ah we were just..."

"Going over to Jadea's hut," Samsara stepped out of the way so the two could pass.

"What did we do this time, do you think?" Toria asked Dria.

"Maybe it was when we rearranged the furniture in Cassia's hut while she was asleep," Dria answered, giggling.

"Or spiked the apple juice at the last Tribal Council," Toria continued.

"Ooh, ooh or maybe it was when we stole Niata's clothes from the bath hut." The two continued counting off their evil deeds as they walked to their Queen's hut.

Samsara said a prayer for Jadea's immortal soul.


Sitting on the edge of her bed, Chrysippe pulled her boots back on. It had been a rather busy day. The training was rigorous, and she never thought she'd be asked to give lessons in Persian. It wasn't her first language, but since the caravan had spent the last five years traveling in Arabic lands, it was something she had picked up and spoke quite well. Chrysippe was relieved to get a moment to clean up and change into her "working clothes." They were loose fitting, comfortable, and had several hidden pockets for stowing away anything she may acquire.

Tonight I begin gathering my tribute to the Queen, she thought to herself. I'll prove to her my worth.

After she finished dressing, she headed towards the Mess hut once more. This would be the perfect place to start. There was always a crowd bustling about, with their attentions diverted in several different directions. She smiled softly as she entered. After getting a little something to eat, more to look casual than out of hunger, she edged over to a good-sized group of women. Children were running about playing, and their mothers were watching them, eating and talking among each other. Chrysippe began by casually interacting with the children, joining in on their play. The mothers were taking notice of her, and were paying a little closer attention.

Suddenly, Chrysippe looked up and asked, "Does anyone have a coin?" The women peered at her questioningly. "It's for a trick," she explained, smiling innocently. She carefully inventoried the women as they fumble about until one produced a dinar. She grinned sheepishly as the mother handed it to her. That is a beautiful bracelet, and two have nice, full coin pouches besides the one who gave me this, she took note.

"Now watch," she instructed the children, then seemingly made the coin disappear. The children gasped in amazement as she seemed to pull it out of one of the little one's ears, and the mothers smiled. The more she working the coin in dance of disappearing and reappearing in the least likely place, the more the children squealed with delight. Even the women were chuckling with enjoyment. Perfect, she thought to herself. I have them right where I want them.

"Watch this," she said once more to the children as she turned towards their mothers. She began performing more complicated slight-of-hand maneuvers. She placed the coin in one woman's hand, then made it reappear from behind another's back. She did several more tricks, then finished up by making the coin disappear once more, then caught it as it seemingly to fell from the sky. The children roared with delight and the mothers smiled and applauded, as did several other onlookers.

She turned back towards the woman who originally gave her the coin and returned it to her. "Thank you," Chrysippe said politely. The woman simply smiled approvingly as she placed it pack into her coin-purse. The children whined for her to do some more tricks, but she gently patted them on the heads and said, "Maybe I'll do some more tomorrow." She smiled and winked at them, and they beamed back at her. With that, she left the mess hut and returned to hers.

As she closed the door and barred it, she went over to the table and lit a candle. It was growing dark, and she wanted good like to see by. Turning towards her bed, she began unloading her hidden pockets. She sat down and counted 50 dinar from the soft leather coin-purse and smiled. Then she examined the silver bracelet delicately inlaid with lapis. The rich, dark blue contrasted strikingly with the polished silver, making it quite an unusual piece. Its wearer never even noticed her removing the clasp. Finally she examined an ivory handled hunting knife. It was a small, polished blade, but its handle was beautifully carved to look like a leaping doe.

Chrysippe swelled with pride. Not a bad start, she thought to herself, then formalized a plan. She would continue doing tricks at the evening meals, but would not lift riches every night. As she did tonight, and unlike the practice of the caravan, she would not take from everyone who watched her, but would take from only a few at a time.

I don't want them to become too suspicious. Better they think they lost their possession somewhere other than me. Besides, I want that ruby dagger and I cannot afford to have its owner choose to leave it at home. She sighed. Burglary was not generally her style, but she would resort to it if she had to. She placed her treasure into a sack, then hid the sack within the wall of her hut. She thought to herself, I simply must get my hands on that dagger.


Smoke rose from the flames as a voice boomed within the tent.

"You have only two seasons to work on this Radicus. Then your time is up!" Chaos' voice echoed in his head.

To achieve the powers he was promised he must get Venlusia to join him and get her to kill her sister. Radicus knew that the only way he could do this would be to slowly work with his daughter. Get into her mind and work on her fears and doubts. After all, it benefited him as well as her. He would have the power to rule the world and his daughter, whom he ripped away from the arms of that witch and grew her up to be a feared warrior, would be the bride and champion of Chaos.

Radicus looked in a cauldron filled with water and waved his hand over it. The image of Venlusia appeared next to Morigan as they entered the stables. Radicus laughed as he stared at his former daughters.

"Enjoy your freedom while you can. Soon you will help me rule the world." Radicus' laugh filled the camp with a deep and evil rumble. Chaos' power grew stronger within his follower.


Meanwhile, at the village…

"This is so wonderful!" Venlusia remarked as she entered the stables with Morigan.

"I get to learn Celtic, not to mention I get to understand what you and Faela are talking about." Morigan smiled as she began her duties.

"I could have taught you Celtic if I knew you were so interested," Morigan giggled.

"It's not the same. Kou is a professional; you are my sister and likely to confuse me," she sighed and looked at Nizo.

Morigan shook her head and headed for a pitchfork.

"Now Venny would I do that to you?" Morigan handed the pitchfork to Venlusia.

"Here make yourself useful for a change," Venlusia looked at the pitchfork then at the hay then back at Mori.

"Can't Faela do this? I mean she is your Alogosida Koritsi isn't she?" Morigan continued to groom the horses while Venlusia wrinkled her nose at the smell.

"Yes, but she's also the Ve’kyna Archila and if you want to eat tonight you have to give her space," Venlusia sighed and looked at her sister; moaning to her self in a low voice.

"If I wanted to shovel hay and icky stuff I would have applied for the position!" Morigan giggled under her breath at her sisters moaning.

"Did you say something?" Venlusia stuck her tongue out at Mori.

"Yes, I'm the Cild Koritsi and you have me doing," Venlusia paused gesturing at the ground and the stables. "This!"

Morigan put her grooming brush down then walked up to her sister. She squared Venny's shoulders and said in a rather upbeat tone.

"E plie efharisto tu gia quilint!" And I thank you for it! Venlusia growled at her sister and continued to shovel the hay.

"If I get my hands on you, sis, I will personally rid you of that accent you have." Morigan laughed and got back to work.

"Oh yes and by the way, go raibh maith agat," Venlusia looked at Morigan with confusion.

"You what?" Morigan stopped what she was doing and bit on her lip.

"’Thank you’ in Celtic."

"OOOOOHHH! How am I going to know that?" Venlusia trembled with disgust at the smell of the stables as she looked at the pitchfork.

"You are learning, and I just told you what it meant so next time we have a lesson you can surprise Kou," Venlusia sighed.

"Tepae, but don't you start speaking gibberish just because you can unless you tell me what it means. Deal!" Venlusia gazed at her sister with determination and some insecurity at Morigan's answer.

"Deal!" Morigan patted Venlusia on her shoulder as she headed for her next horse while Venny began to wave her hands about trying to get rid of the flies that usually hung around the stables.


"That was a fairly good impression of me, don't you think, Karma?" Athanase asked as she left the twins to their own devices.

"Shi!" the little one responded. Yes, in Chin.

Bodhi, who obviously couldn't talk, barked once.

"We should see what Ryka has left over," Samsara said. "I'm pretty hungry again, aren't you?"

Bodhi whined, knowing he wasn't welcome in the hut and veered off to find something to do as hounds do.

They walked to the Mess Hut and spotted the Head Chef and her Koritsi were collecting plates and cleaning tables. Athanase put Karma down on a bench and picked up a rag to help the others.

"Ohi komal, Samsara!" Ryka shouted. No need. She waved her hand at her to stop, but Samsara was not inclined to listen.

"Wo yao ni bang mang," Samsara said.

All work stopped.

"Now what does that mean?" Ryka asked

Karma giggled and Athanase smiled sheepishly. "I took a sneak peek at Kou's language scrolls when she wasn't looking. "It's Chin for ‘I really want to do you a favor.’"

Ryka's eyes closed slightly as she peered at the Teloan. "You know, sometimes I think you cause more trouble than Toria and Seri and Thalia combined. It's just that no one notices because you don't try too hard."

Callisto's daughter laughed.


Some time went by before Venny realized that Morigan wasn't there. She was sure that she saw Morigan at the back of the stables, but now Morigan was gone.

"Typical," Venlusia sighed and placed the pitchfork back where it belonged. "She probably had to go to the little Amazon's room." Pause. "Oh well. I did my share. If Mori needs me, she can come and call me." Venlusia shrugged and walked out of the stables.

She had decided that she had spent far too long a time in the stables, and she wanted to attend to her real duties as Cild Koritsi. "Valkyra won't be happy if I neglect my duties, but first it's off to Kardia for a little sprucing up." Venlusia looked down at herself and her sais. The wear of war showed on her weapons.

She still couldn't believe what she had done. All those people. A wave of nausea flooded Venlusia, as she began to stumble towards the Demerci Fenal Archila.

"I better check in with Cassia as well," Venlusia whispered out loud, approaching Kardia.

Venlusia had been talking about how she hated the stables, yet was happy to spend sometime with Nizo. That was when Morigan snuck out of the stables.

"I need to breathe." Morigan sighed.

Her head had been spinning, since she left the language lessons but it was bearable then. She'd experienced this several times before, when the Viking was spying on her.

"He is dead. I have nothing to fear!" Morigan kept reminding herself. She remembered her father and how he protected her from harm.

"Altoir," Morigan whispered. Altar. "I have to get to Cassia," she said loudly. The spinning had gotten stronger and nothing she did would get rid of it.

A few minutes later, Morigan arrived at the Med hut. Cassia was inside, still looking for her assistant when Morigan entered. She saw by the look on Morigan's face that the girl wasn't well. Cassia swiftly approached Morigan and helped her to a cot.

"Tre kanete tu, Morigan?" How are you, Morigan? Cassia began to examine Morigan from top to bottom, including her eyes.

"Kani qualaka, Cassia. I started to feel very dizzy during the language lessons. I thought it was going to go away, but it just got stronger," she answered, laying down where she could be examined.

"Any other symptoms? Fainting? Blurred sight? Visions?"

Morigan looked at a now fuzzy figure that was Cassia. "My sight is fuzzy, nai. My cliabh doigh," she finished, not realizing she had spoken in her native language. My chest burns.

The Chief Healer looked questioningly at Morigan, unsure of what she just said. She was about to ask when the woman spoke again.

"Fear . . . altoir . . . fuil . . .Venlusia!" the sick woman moaned, her eyes unfocused and staring at the ceiling. Man . . . altar . . . blood . . . Venlusia!

Cassia looked around for a koritsi just as Toria entered. "Toria, get me Kou or the Latra. Either will understand what Morigan is saying."

Toria looked from Cassia down to Morigan where she was lying incoherent on the cot speaking what sounded Celtic from the lessons.

"Hurry!" Cassia ordered.

Toria nodded and ran to get Kou, bumping into a very nauseated Venlusia entering the Med hut. "Toria? What's the rush?" Venlusia queried.

"Morigan's in the Med hut. Can't talk, I have to get Kou," Toria disappeared, leaving Venlusia to stare at her for moment.

She then ran into the Med hut where she saw Cassia wiping sweat off Morigan's forehead. "Morigan?" Venlusia yelped.

Cassia looked up as the other approached. "It's all right. It's not serious, but please, stay back," Cassia instructed and Venlusia nodded, moving to sit by the corner of the hut.

She'll be all right. I know she will! Venlusia thought to herself.


It had been a while since Apollo had laid the sun to rest for the night, but the village was still as bustling as ever.

Toria ran to the Tribal Hut to find Kou. She was just about to enter the hut when she nearly bumped into Kardia coming out. "Kardia! Where's Kou?"

"I don't know; she's not inside. Nobody is here; the language class must have ended a while ago," replied Kardia.

"Well, if you see her, tell her Cassia is looking for her!"

Kardia said, "Very well." As she watched Toria run off, the Demerci Fenal Archila thought about Toria's earlier words, "It's not for an assassination." But, Kardia still worried about the assassin's knife that Toria had asked her to make.


Once her language class was over, Kou left the Tribal Hut with Deoris to look around the village that had changed so much since Kou had been traveling. As they made their way past the thriving little herb garden outside the Mess hut, Kou said, "You do know that I want to find my mother?"

The light from the torch in Deoris’s hand lit their faces. "I know," answered Deoris. She gazed into the flames. After a pause, she asked, "So tell me Kou, what of your son? Have you seen him as of late or have you heard of his well-being?"


In the Med hut . . .

"But Cassia, I don't want to go to bed this early," protested Iona.

As Cassia tucked the young woman in again, she scolded, "I don't care; you need the rest and you must raise your body heat." She placed her hand on Iona's forehead. "You are as cold as ice. That trip over to the language class may have been good for your mental state, but it certainly was not good for your body. Now, try and get some sleep. I have to get back to treating Morigan. I'm not sure what's wrong with her."


In Chrysippe's hut…

"Yes, when I see the Queen and present my tribute to her, she will look upon me with great favor," thought the fugitive from Xenathos' caravan. She stared at the wall where her secret hiding place was. She then looked around and grabbed an old sheepskin that the previous occupant had left. Chrysippe carefully attached it to the wall to make her hiding place less suspicious.

She then circled the small hut and said to herself, "This place is not too bad. It's a lot better than a tent; that's for sure." She looked over at the empty pallet across the hut. "I hope they don’t give me a roommate for a while. It would be harder for me to hide my stash of goodies."


In the Mess hut…

"Here!" said Ryka as she handed Samsara a couple bowls of stew. "Now, in all due respect, Queen Empress of Teloans, I need you to leave so that I and my staff can clean up in here."

Karma's eyes lit up at the sight of the stew. Athanase smiled and replied jokingly, "Efharisto tu for the stew and we will leave now if you don't want our company."

Ryka rolled her eyes.


On the other side of Themiscyra...

Valkyra was taking a walk around the qasatour like she usually did at night when time allowed. She liked to inspect the village to confirm that everything was all right.

As she passed Deirdre's hut, she saw the Amazon outside. Deirdre was dancing in the torchlight. She was doing a ritual Amazon dance and doing it with very precise steps.

The Regent, standing in the dark, watched for a few moments unbeknownst to Deirdre. Then, Valkyra said, "You perform the ritual dance very well and without anyone playing music."

"My Regent...I didn't know that you were watching. I was only practicing," said Deirdre.

"You perform well. I also remember you leading the other dancers around the fire. How would you like to lead the ritual dances all the time?"

Deirdre said, "Oh, I would like that very much."

"I will check with Queen Jadea, but I know that she will approve you becoming our Daksoz Archila. You can teach the other Amazons how to do the correct dance steps."

Deirdre smiled and said, "Oh! I thank you and the Queen! I am honored to have the position."

"Good! Our Tribes here in Themiscyra will be the pride of all the Amazons in performing our ritual dances," added the Regent.

Several of Deirdre's friends came over to congratulate her and as they huddled together in much talk and laugher, Valkyra slipped away back into the dark.

She observed that one far corner of the Village was very dark and then two torches suddenly appeared and came together. That had better be members of Seriana's wall guards, thought the Weapons Mistress.


As Valkyra pondered whether to investigate on her suspicions, over in the Mess hut Karma reached for the bowl of stew Ryka had sent over their way. It seemed that the Head Chef was embarrassed that Sami was helping her clean the Mess Hut. It was very unlike the Queen Empress of Teloans to do a selfless act unprompted.

Since the war with the invading Vikings, Sami hadn't had a chance to sit down with her sisters and talk to them about her journeys. There was no mention of her and Deoris and to be honest, Sami hadn't taken the time to talk to the Ti’Sa at all. Perhaps she was running away from her problems, something she seemed to do quite often.

Jadea's niece dropped the rag onto the table and sat down with her bowl and wooden spoon. "Now careful, Karma, it's hot," she warned as she dipped into the thick and pleasant-smelling broth.

"It's good, Ryka!" the little one complimented.

"Ohi, Karma. Say, ‘zhe hen haochi’."

"Zhe hen haochi!"

Ryka smiled. She tried to get the tone down on her response. "Nali, nali." You flatter me.

The two went back to eating and the Head Chef went back to cleaning. As soon as they finished, Samsara thanked Ryka for the delicious food and the two headed out with Bodhi. Samsara spotted Valkyra peering at two torches that appeared suddenly and moved suspiciously together.

"Lyna Valkyra," she said. "Should I investigate?"


The Lyna shifted her eyes to Samsara for a second and then back. "Ohi, I'll investigate it myself." She paused momentarily to look at the Teloan. "I think you should see the Sorceress Empress." With that, she headed towards the two torches, discreetly calling up the aid of Sayde and others.


In the Queen's Hut, Jadea stood over a raised altar and looked deeply into a large clay bowl of water. She waved her hand once over it and an image appeared - one from the past. It was of a battle from her past. The only battle she hated to remember but refused to forget. The image in the water changed to show a man.


Jadea said the name with quiet strength. There, in the viewing bowl, she could see him during the battle that cost them the life of their daughter. The same battle where the general had betrayed Jadea and earned her wrath. With a wave of her other hand, the Amazon sorceress made the image vanish as if it'd never been.

Turning, she paused and stared at the letter she'd been composing on the table. Her eyes moved up to the empty space. "Protectress. I know you hear me." She held the silence a moment, waiting. "Appear."

Two seconds later, Domaris appeared just inside the entrance. She had a strange expression; a smile mixed with a frown of some solemn knowing. She waited for her hostess to speak first.

"You knew," the Latra stated calmly. "You knew and that's why you came to me."

The blonde sorceress nodded just once and stepped forward in one fluid movement. "Jadea, I was never your enemy, but you have looked through enemy eyes." She paused a moment, then continued, "I know Bruce lives. I saw you save his life." She tilted her head to the right ever so slightly. "Did you think you were the only powerful woman ever to love a man?"

Jadea let a soundless sigh escape her. She glanced away for a minute. "I am summoned."

The Protectress of the Amazons nodded, quietly adding, "You must go, Jadea." Domaris placed emphasis on pronouncing the other's name: Jay-dee-uh. She didn't show her usual contempt for Rumyna's successor. Was there any contempt left in her? Jadea wondered.

The Latra fell silent, thinking. How can I be summoned?

"You're a sorceress, Jadea of Cirra - Jade of Celcia," Domaris answered.

"Rumyna did this," the woman responded, nodding as if suddenly onto the truth. "She arranged for this to happen."

As if to consider it, Domaris gave a rolling shrug. "Maybe so, but you will never know unless you go. Seek the answers, for they seek you. They summoned you."

"What about the Tae'Nah?"

A long silent spell intruded. Then the blonde sorceress offered an answer. "You answer your summons, and I answer mine."

Again, silence. Jadea turned around, her back toward Domaris now. "I'll have to think about it." Pause. "Did you tell Ti'Sa Deoris?"

"Ohi, but that does not mean Artemis has not seen fit to show her."

"If she learns the truth, she may- she may turn against you for knowing," the Sorceress Empress warned, turning back around to eye the other's reaction.

"Anyone that can be turned against can be turned back."

"Anyone? Even a man?"

"Some men, nai," Domaris answered, knowing who Jadea referred to. "Consult with your bloodline. Consult with your Regent, even. I deem she worships you."

Jadea shot a defensive look prepared to fight for Valkyra's honor. She soon subsided when she saw the look, the knowing and yet unknown look, in the blonde woman's eyes.

"Be warned, Sorceress Empress. Do not consult every Tae'Nah in this land. Some would see you go sooner than you would leave."

To that, Jadea gave a quiet nod and her eyes slid away from Domaris, who retreated without another word. Both were in the same frame of mind, though for different reasons.

If the Sorceress Empress left Themiscyra, would that mean that the Protectress would be the strongest sorceress there? And if the Latra had been summoned, what would become of her family? These and other questions streamed through Jadea's mind. She hadn't the time to come to a conclusion when she sensed a presence outside her hut.




Unrest in Themiscyra


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