"It's done," said Celosia to her Highland
counterpart. "It's over. We're safe."
"Now the fighting stops and the work begins," Medea
said, implying that she was not looking forward to the work.
"You! Get me a casualty count!"
"Right away, Regent."
"You, over there! Start rounding up the prisoners. None
of them are treated until every Amazon wounded is cared for. Got
"Someone get after the enemy horses!"
Seriana, riding up as the orders were being handed out, had
to give an approving nod. Medea knew her stuff. "Where's
Jadea?" she asked, swinging down off Denius.
Celosia looked around. "She was just here . . ."
Soon, a small search party scoured the battlefield looking
for the Sorceress Empress. They finally found her slumped
against a tree in a mound of vivid autumnal leaves. A call
brought all members of the search party to her location.
Seriana knelt and checked her pulse. "She's alive."
"Is she injured?" Thalia asked, her voice tense
"I don't think so, but I'm a warrior, not a
healer." Seri took a long, quiet minute to try and feel the
magic that her very blood would respond to. "I don't feel
"Is that bad? I’m a biomorph, not a sorceress."
Seriana smiled a little. "She could just be drained from
the fight. Or I could be numb and not feel her. That's very
possible. Or . . . something worse. I don't know."
"We should get her off the battlefield. I'll try and
find a litter."
As Thalia got up, Seriana shook her head. What is it with
my family today?
Since you asked, your sister Samsara has sent Ares to another
plane and has temporarily taken his mantle. Jadea has over-taxed
her powers. And because of Samsara's little magic stunt, Jadea's
lost her ability to rejuvenate.
Looking around, Seriana searched for the source of the voice
she heard. What she saw was Angus mounted on Jadea's horse. He'd
been out of view when he answered her.
"Queen Vorgeen!" Seriana yelled to the Highland
Amazon Queen, who in turn came to investigate. Seri pointed
"Perfect," Vorgeen sarcastically replied.
Swords were drawn as Angus swiftly approached, all belonging
to Themiscryan Amazons.
"It's all right, Sisters," Seriana called out.
"He's with us."
Angus' eyes scanned the faces of the women nearest him. A few
standing warriors blocked his view of Jadea on a litter. The
Sorceress Empress remained their only unconscious Amazon. As
fate, or divine intervention, would decree, neither tribe
suffered fatalities, though many had been wounded.
"What did you find?" Vorgeen inquired, a dangerous
fire burning in both her eyes.
"You were right. The battle was a diversion. Five
regiments are marching toward Themiscrya. Word in the Twilight
Bark is that one or more of the gods deployed them. Whatever the
Goddess Samsara did to Kakistos . . . it has halted their trek.
They are turnin' back," he answered, his voice sounding
pleased with the news he shared.
Seriana mentally noted to herself that he omitted the
information he'd individually told her.
"That is good to hear. But we're not leavin' the Themiscryans
until I am confident their enemies are defeated or
remain far at bay," Vorgeen replied with a distinctive
tone, used only by Amazons with high rank. "Yah!" She
cried, and kicked her horse to catch up with Medea and Celosia
at the front. As she trotted, a path was cleared for her.
Thalia seemed skeptical, and it showed on her face. She
didn't trust this man. Her reservations about him came mostly
from the few encounters she'd witnessed between him and Jadea.
"What's the 'twilight bark'?"
Angus turned his head to address her, veering the look he
received from Seriana.
"A secret known only to those involved," he stated
nonchalantly, emphasizing his meaning with a hard look.
To his surprise, Seriana cut in. "The Twilight Bark is a
link the Celts use to communicate secretly, when they don't want
messages to fall into enemy hands."
"Or upon enemy ears," another Amazon added.
Angus studied Seriana for a moment or two before finally
nodding. He'd figured out how she knew about it. "So it is.
No one answered. Just as Thalia opened her mouth to give
who-knows-what reply, the Amazons began pulling away again.
Unusual, it was, for Ardra to be away from Jadea. And if ever
the guardian hawk left her Mistress, indeed there was a reason.
Yet, just as Angus began to question Ardra's absence, Jadea's
whereabouts, and many other things, a loud squawk came from high
above the troop of Amazons. Both Queens looked up, relief
beginning to at last come to them.
Where have you been? Angus asked, irritation in his tone.
None of your business, Angus, Ardra replied and dove
downward. Where's Thalia?
Ardra wanted to speak to Celosia. At present, the only way
she knew to do that was through Thalia. The hawk knew of Jadea's
state, for she'd felt it herself when the Sorceress Empress had
fallen. The pain was less, now, though Ardra knew not the
Thalia winced as the adrenaline from the fight ebbed and her
wounded shoulder began to lose its numbness. She cursed as it
began to burn. She felt lightheaded. How much blood had she
lost? She'd been shot by one of the men's arrows while taking
Valkyra to Jadea. Pulling it out had probably not been the best
idea- it had only let the blood flow more.
Thalia leaned against a tree, glad that the battle was over,
for now. She could get this wound tended to and be ready for
their next fight. She was tired . . . so tired . . . maybe if
she rested against this tree for a little while . . .
A scream jarred her from her thoughts and she saw Ardra in
front of her. The hawk flapped in front of her, before flying
off towards Celosia.
She wants me to help her talk to Celosia, she thought to
herself. All right . . . maybe after that I can rest.
Pushing herself to her feet she walked after the hawk.
The hawk could sense Thalia's pain. She tried her best to
transfer some of her strength to the biomorph, but wasn't sure
if her efforts did any good.
Angus! She yelled and heard him trotting up the line.
You beckoned, oh sweet one? He asked superficially.
Normally, Ardra would have jumped at the chance to banter
with him. Now was neither the best time nor place for it,
though. He knew this as well as she did, and she noticed the hot
flush of shame on his face. Ask Vorgeen to give Thalia the
orb. She needs it to heal her wound.
Vorgeen isn't going to uncover its existence to them.
Angus, Thalia won't make it without its healing power.
His eyes studied the hawk in a way that made her nervous. At
times, she felt that he could read her when he shouldn't have
been able to. Jadea had always assured her that he couldn't,
that it was simply a tactic he used.
Jadea needs Thalia, she added, for further
persuasion. Whatever differences they had, they were bonded by
their love for Jadea.
Angus went to Vorgeen and privately made the request. Vorgeen
looked up as she saw Thalia approaching. She turned to Angus and
nodded. "Thalia, here!"
She moved slowly toward Angus and Vorgeen. By now, both
troops of had been halted in their journey home. Vorgeen
dismounted, pulling something from a pouch secured on her waist,
and walked the remaining distance to Thalia.
Curious and slightly suspicious, Medea and Celosia dismounted
and followed. Vorgeen held a crystal orb that fit perfectly in
the palm of her hand. She asked Thalia to place her hand over
it. As Thalia did so, the orb began to glow. The Amazon's eyes
closed. Within a matter of seconds, a mist covered the crystal.
The entire time, Vorgeen murmured a mysterious incantation.
Celosia was the only other Amazon besides Vorgeen herself, who
understood the words. She allowed the Highland Queen to heal her
Sister, a light of appreciation showing in her eyes.
Thalia looked at shoulder and saw the wound was no more. She
then looked at Vorgeen who gave her a reassuring smile.
"Welcome back," she said before returning the orb to
No explanation was asked, and none was offered. Each Amazon
Queen had her secrets, remedies, and burdens to carry. The
responsibility was a heavy one, but to the vast majority of
Amazons, it was worth it.
Well done, Angus, Ardra turned her head to tell him. He
said nothing, but she caught the slight nod he gave.
Thalia morphed into a hawk. She was beautiful, no matter what
form she took, but as a hawk, she was magnificent. Thank you,
was her first thought.
What makes you think I had something to do with that?
Can you tell us where Samsara is? Thalia asked instead,
getting down to business.
Well, she WAS at Olympus. At least, she was at the time that
I left her. Jadea wanted me to find her. She said nothing of
bringing the Goddess back with me. Which is good, since Samsara
wasn't in a leaving mood. A few of the other gods have welcomed
her there in her new position.
Medea cleared her throat impatiently. Thalia turned and saw
the mutual feeling on Celosia's face. What new position?
She quickly asked.
Samsara is now the God of War. I suppose the correct word
would be GODDESS. She has somehow taken Ares out of the picture.
That has given her a great power over all the other gods,
greater than the hind's blood.
Thalia's expression changed dramatically.
"Thalia, let us know what the Hades is going on!"
So, what's to be done? Thalia asked, giving a brief look
of recognition to her Regent.
There’s nothing you can do. Jadea might be of some help,
but only an Amazon of royal blood can revive Jadea now. The
sooner we return to Themiscyra, the better, Ardra replied
with as solemn a tone as Thalia had ever heard.
Will she die? Thalia asked, reluctant to tell her Sisters
anything just yet.
Ardra blinked and turned her head to look at Celosia, Medea,
and Vorgeen. She turned back to Thalia and offered her comfort. It
will take more than two battles and a missing God of War to kill
Jadea. She will live, but longer she goes unconscious in this
world, the worse her chances of regaining her powers become.
Silence fell between them for several moments. This time it
was Vorgeen who cleared her throat with impatient meaning. Ardra
looked up from her companion and recognized the look she was
Go to them, Thalia. Tell them that home holds all the hope we
have, Ardra commented and Thalia nodded, turning herself
back into the beautiful woman she was.
"My Queen, Samsara is on Olympus. She is no longer a
threat to us. At least, not for the time being, I believe. Jadea
will grow weaker until we return to Themiscyra."
Medea growled in frustration. "It took you two that long
to communicate that little?"
Queen Celosia gave Medea a gentle reprimanding expression,
which Medea ignored. "Then, it's settled. Amazons, let us
go home," Celosia stated. As word spread to the warriors
behind her, a wide-felt cheer surged new strength into the
exhausted homesick Amazons.
Ardra flapped her wings, lifting herself into the air to fly
ahead of the two tribes. Vorgeen returned to the rear of the
lines where she found Jadea still warm toned and appearing sound
Opting for familiarity, Angus rode beside the Highland Queen.
To both her great surprise and relief, he held his peace the
remaining way to Themiscyran lands. Though, he did occasionally
send one or two thoughts into the air.
The journey back to Themiscyra brought only good conversation
amongst the Amazons. Rare, it was, that a group so large of
Amazon warriors should not meet with any male obstacles while on
Themiscyra was soon filled again with the faint murmur of a
tribe of Amazons, working and sleeping and eating and fighting
and living. It was good to be home. Everyone felt it. Even the
Highland Amazons, who had come to rest and heal their wounded
before heading back to where they came from, could feel it.
Jadea was placed in her hut, but no one seemed to know what
to do with her besides that. She was barely wounded, had no
fever, and her pulse was perfectly steady.
Hunting parties were immediately sent out to feed two armies
of hungry warriors. Seriana did not go with them. She sat with
Jadea, one hand on her Aunt’s forehead, eyes closed, focusing
Angus ducked his head in, without knocking, and asked, What
are you trying to do?
"Hmm?" With a sudden jerk of her head she came back
to consciousness. "Vocalize, please. I can't hear
With a sigh of mild resignation, he spoke. "Aren't you
coming hunting? You can't help her much, you know."
"I can help her some. I can feel her taking power from
me, and she needs any help I can give."
"She needs a lot more than you've got, Lovely."
She shrugged. "So people like you will be able to sneak
up on me for a while. I can live with that. Besides, you don't
have any right to criticize if you've got twice the power I do
and you're not helping."
He held up his hands defensively. "She doesn't like me
"She could lose her abilities forever."
It was more an experiment than an accusation. She couldn't
help wondering how he would react. After all, it had been some
time since she'd traveled with a man. Did pride or compassion
motivate Angus? It was an intriguing question about an
So she sat still and waited to see how he would meet her
Angus studied the eyes of the Amazon warrior before him. He
saw in them Seriana's loyalty and her compassion for others.
When an interval of silence had at length passed, he took a
slight step forward and solemnly replied, "I wish I had
half your strength, Amazon. I have no power to speak of."
With that, the Celt turned to exit. Before his foot stepped
outside, Seriana felt pressure on her hand. She looked at Jadea
and then at their hands, uncertain of what she suspected. When
Jadea gently squeezed her hand once more, Seri uttered a cry of
This caused Angus to immediately turn back around and stare
at her. "What?"
"She squeezed my hand," Seriana answered, and laid
her other hand on Jadea's face.
"Jadea . . . can you hear me?" A very faint and
elusive sound escaped the body of the Sorceress Empress.
Suddenly, Ardra's voice entered Angus's mind. Something is
happening on Olympus. It's affectin' her state. I'm going to
investigate. Stay here, and don't you bloody leave her...or even
the gods won't be able to save you from what I'll do.
Angus snorted at Ardra's last comment. Seriana didn't seem to
notice. He had no intention of leaving, not even if forced.
Seriana continued to talk with a soft, comforting tone. Angus
hesitated, then remarked "I'll get Queen Celosia."
Seri gave a slight nod to indicate that she'd heard him.
Far away, on Olympus . . . something indeed was happening.
Samsara had initially scaled the ladder of rank among the
Gods. With Ares' throne, and the hind's blood, she'd all but
become the new Queen of the Gods. Of course, she didn't claim
the title or the position . . . but she knew she held the power.
"What has become of my son?" Zeus demanded to know
for the umpteenth time. Samsara shrugged with a cool, nonchalant
"He took a holiday. Something about an anniversary of
this war or that."
From the shadow of one of the pillars in the hall, a Goddess
smirked with admiration.
None of the Gods dared to challenge Samsara. She could kill
them, and not a one of them was confidant enough that she wouldn’t.
"Artemis!" Samsara lifted her head and raised her
voice. The Goddess of the Hunt appeared from nowhere. Her
generally expressive features were veiled behind a calm look. To
be angry at Samsara would provoke Samsara to become angry. So
far, she had done little more than make an uninvited and
unexpected visit to Olympus, inform that she was now the Goddess
of War, as well as of Destruction, and request an assembly of
"Samsara Kakistos," Artemis spoke with a clear
voice. The name sounded foreign to Samsara. She made a mental
note to take care of the matter regarding of how she would and
would not be addressed.
"Artemis. You are, not by my choice to be sure, the
Goddess of the Amazons. Are you not?" Samsara began walking
around in a fairly sized circle, toying with a dagger in her
hands. The act was more of that of habit that something to
threaten or intimidate Artemis with. And yet . . . it wasn’t a
habit at all. Then again, Callisto had done the same at times.
"You know that I am," Artemis replied, unwillingly
allowing some of her irritation to seep into her voice.
"Then tell me this: Why is the Amazon Nation divided?
Why were the tribes ever scattered in the first place? And what
exactly are you going to do about it?" The more she spoke,
the more her voice rose in anger and agitation.
She’d understood Kaia and Ares’ plan all too well. And
the discovery of their plan had lead to the inspiration of one
of her own, along with several backup plans. She’d been with
the Amazons long enough to learn that you always have something
ready, should your original work of genius fail.
Artemis did not answer for several moments. Those moments
cost her credibility with Samsara. "I have given the
Amazons free will, Kakistos."
"My name is Samsara!" She shouted, and her voice
combined with her powers filled the halls of Olympus and shook
the mountain. "And you gave us nothing! Free will is not a
gift, Goddess of the Hunt, if it can be taken by the Gods
whenever they so choose," she declared, edging the border
of dangerous territory.
Samsara herself had been guilty of abusing and forcing free
will. That she now felt differently on the subject, at least on
behalf of the Amazons, would not be enough to persuade the other
"What would you have me do, then?" Artemis asked in
a voice that could only be described as compromising. She would
not cower to this goddess, but she would not stand by and watch
her throw a tantrum either. Especially considering that an
Amazon's tantrum usually involved the deaths of many - innocent
"Do your job. Go to each rogue tribe and command that
they return to the Nation. Go to each Amazon imprisoned by men
or enslaved and free them. Protect the Amazons. Unite them. Do
your job!" Samsara answered firmly, though she did not yell
or scream once.
Artemis vanished, and soon rumors in various locations spread
that a strong movement was underway.
Meanwhile, back in Themiscyra . . .
"Celosia, she squeezed my hand. I know she did. I felt
it," Seriana testified with increasing zeal.
Queen Celosia nodded and gestured for Seriana to rise. The
Queen placed her hand in Jadea's. As she did so, the pendant
around Jadea's neck began to glow. When Celosia saw this she
whispered the Amazon's name and closed her eyes. Come back to
Seriana stood watching, a step or two away.
Celosia? I feel so tired.
The Queen's eyes shot open, stunned that she'd heard Jadea
and yet not entirely sure that she had. Her eyes closed once
again. Come on, Jadea. You're Amazon. You can do this.
Behind her, Seriana felt Thalia's touch on her arm. She
turned her head and the two exchanged communicative looks.
Thalia had just returned from a hunting party when she heard the
Celosia . . . I have little time. The Sorceress Empress
thought weakly. Her pendant continued to glow vibrantly, though
without any one color.
Queen Celosia began to will that Jadea awaken with her powers
fully intact. A soft but heard murmur came from the Jadea.
"You two. Leave," it was Vorgeen's voice. She stood
in the doorway and spoke to Thalia and Seriana. Reluctantly, the
two Amazons complied.
Vorgeen approached Celosia and watched. She walked to the
other side and took Jadea's left hand in hers. It's high time
ya got your arse up and started kickin' again. Vorgeen's
mind linked with Celosia's and Jadea's. Both Queens heard a mild
If I could, I'd have done so by now, Jadea returned, her
thoughts sounding stronger than before.
An Amazon can do anythin' she sets her mind to, Vorgeen
replied, a slight sound of humor mixed with sincerity.
Fight, Jade! Come on. It's what you're good at. Fightin' like
a banshee on a bad day when no else can fight or will. Angus'
voice slipped into her mind. He wasn't nearby, but he remained
All three heard the sound of a neighing horse.
That's when it happened. Artemis appeared in the hut, cloaked
from view. She saw the two Amazon Queens on either side of the
Sorceress Empress. And though she made no divine intervention .
. . she was witness to what happened.
Vorgeen, Queen of the Highland Amazons from the Isle of
Britannia. Celosia, Queen of the Themiscyran Tribe, defender of
the Amazon Nation. Jadea, the Sorceress Empress, arcane and
powerful protector of the Amazon ways and the warrior women
Jadea's eyes opened slowly. As they did, both Vorgeen and
Celosia made a simultaneous and audible exhale. The Sorceress
Empress blinked a few times to reassure herself that she was
awake. Vorgeen saw that Jadea's pendant had returned to its
natural hue of calmness.
"Welcome back," Celosia said as she and Vorgeen
lifted Jadea up. The look of astonishment and relief aside, you
wouldn't have been able to tell that anything had been wrong
with the Sorceress Empress.
"You had us goin' there for a minute," Queen
Vorgeen quipped with her usual flair.
Jadea smiled, attempting to get to her feet. Celosia backed
away enough for the Amazon to stand. She was greeted with a hug
when she succeeded.
"Aye, and for a minute . . . I didn't think I'd be comin'
Vorgeen cut across the shortest way and stood with Celosia in
front of her. "So, how did you?"
Jadea looked at both women and shook her head. "I
couldn't. You two did."
The Highland Queen smiled again and gave Jadea a warm
embrace. When she did, she whispered, "Us, and that
meddlesome Angus." Vorgeen pulled back a step and looked in
Jadea's eyes. She knew. All three of them did, for all three had
Composing herself, she gave a delighted sigh and asked,
"Well now...when's the feast?"
Laughter followed as the women exited the tent, Jadea
bringing up the rear. She paused just inside her hut, looked
upward and smiled. "Thank you." Just to whom Jadea was
speaking is anyone's guess. And to this day, only her listener
Outside, there was much to celebrate. For the first time in
many days the Amazons were able to feast, relax, and heal.
As she walked among her Sisters once again, Jadea received
many relieved smiles and warm embraces or handshakes. Even
Medea, when she returned from her occupying task, took Jadea
aside and offered a gentle word.
Eager to help with the feast preparations and clean up, Jadea
immediately pitched in where she could. She wasn't unaware for
some time that Angus had been watching her.
Ah, so it's true. You are up and well again.
Ardra, the Sorceress Empress recognized.
Must have somethin' to do with Samsara's sudden mood change.
Jadea stirred something in a pot. What's that, then?
Well, she was chewin' the gods up like a dog on a bone...and
then she just quietly walked out.
She'll be fine, Ardra. She's just adapting, Jadea assured
with a steady tone.
Tern sighed contentedly and slouched gratefully onto a comfy
chair. "Oh, it's good to be back," the Amazon Witch
murmured blissfully, snuggling into her seat.
Across the room, Pelee surveyed her with a droll expression.
"Back to your home or your cushions, sister?" she
Tern looked up sharply. "Like your behind isn't due for
some light treatment after those bloody uncomfortable
Pelee laughed and slumped onto the floor beside her twin.
"At least you aren't going to be walking bow-legged for the
rest of the month."
"Mmm, your horse has put on a bit of weight, hasn't she?
From the expressions you were pulling I'd thought you'd been
struck by a poisoned arrow . . ."
Pelee shoved Tern from her seat. "And I suppose the look
on your face was purely a matter of past-date trail mix?"
"Forgot how uncomfortable long trail rides can be."
"Apparently. Only person I know who gets
Tern bristled and climbed back into her chair, pushing her
sister over this time. "Oh, quiet. I was alert when it
meant something! Besides, no one else noticed but you."
"I suppose we have become quite talented in putting on
the old battle face."
The tent flap opened letting a filter of light through. Medea
grinned at her cousins devilishly. "Not nearly talented
enough, didn't you notice the extra leak-proof saddle bags I
gave you two? Didn't want a mess," was all she said before
she closed the flap and was gone again, strutting through the
Tern and Pelee exchanged looks and shook their heads.
The Regent flipped a dagger absently as she sauntered about,
shooting smirks to her rivals within the tribe. Medea was one of
the few Sisters who had never learned how to get along with the
others. She had a considerable number of semi-enemies within the
Themiscyran ranks. Léda being the most prominent; a group of
too-friendly Healer Apprentices were next on her
factor-of-annoyance list; Samsara, surprisingly only ranking
third; and her newest addition, that treasonous twit, Seriana.
Medea rounded the corner that brought her to the village
square, sheathed the dagger and hauled herself up onto the side
of the well to wait. Seriana would have to come through at some
point, and with the Solstice preparations seen to already,
Themiscyra's Regent could think of nothing better into which to
invest her time than to wait around and pick a fight.
The Healer's Apprentices arrived presently and cautiously
approached the well with basins in hand. "M-Medea, one of
the children has cut herself and we need some water to help the
poor little dear."
Medea snarled at the sheer selflessness of the request.
Perhaps she wouldn't have to wait for Seri...
Thalia sighed. It was good to be back. Jadea was all right,
the Amazons were home, and she could finally let out the breath
she'd been holding. She sat relaxed in her chair in her tent,
reveling in the sheer comfort of the cushion.
Zanifus poked his giant head under the flap. "I'm all
right, Zani," she stood up to pat the nose of the
blue-green dragon. She noticed her hands were still caked with
dirt from the previous battle. "I guess I'll have to go
grab some water from the well."
Stepping around Zanifus, giving him one last pat and a quick
order to stay, she headed off towards the village square. She
whistled softly to herself, smiling as she spotted all the
Amazons working together to get everything prepared for the
She saw Seriana and Valkyra carrying food prepared by some of
the Amazons and thought that perhaps she'd join them once she
got washed up. Thalia was so caught up looking at the bustle in
the village surrounding her that she wasn't watching where she
was going as she approached the well and ran into Medea.
"Oh! Sorry, Medea," Thalia backed off, knowing the
Regent didn't have the most controlled temper. She knew Medea
didn't like her all too well, but she tried to make peace with
her. "Didn't see you there." She smiled a lopsided
grin. "Are you joining the festivities?" Zeus help
me for asking that. She took a chance with that one, knowing
Medea didn't like festivals and seeing as she was twirling a
dagger, Thalia knew she wasn't in the best of moods. Cautiously
she waited for a response.
Medea answered with something that sounded like a snarl.
"I oversee festivals. I don't join them."
The mere tone she used was enough to warn Thalia off
furthering the conversation. The Amazon kept silent as she
hurriedly washed her hands.
Medea simply smirked, looking over at her. The sound of
Seriana's voice caught her trained ear and she moved her gaze
off Thalia to stare at her intended playmate. "Play"
was such a soft word for it, but it was a better one than the
others which sprang to one's mind.
Thalia walked over to where Seriana was helping lay out the
food. She looked a little pale from helping Jadea, but it was
nothing serious and, indeed, she seemed more at ease than she
ever had among the tribe. "Medea bite your head off?"
she asked sympathetically as her friend joined her.
"Nearly. Whew, she's in a fine humor today. Apparently,
she 'oversees' feasts. She doesn't 'join'."
Seriana grinned. "Well then, she can 'oversee' me eating
all the baklava." She took a piece of the flaky pastry from
its tray and stuck it in her mouth.
"Leave it alone, Ser," Valkyra called.
"You spoil my fun." Seriana licked the honey off
her fingers and headed to the well to wash her hands. "I'll
be right back, guys."
And Medea did her looking-dangerous thing . . .
Medea pounced the second she saw Seriana exit the Mess hut.
Twirling her dagger with a feral grin, the Regent set her
glacial eyes on her prey. "Indulging in a sweet before the
feast's begun, Seri?" she called, her keen gaze not missing
the bit of flaked pastry remaining on Seriana's index finger.
Seriana averted her gaze and pretended not to notice the
young woman so obviously wanting to provoke her. She stepped up
to the well and proceeded to casually wash her hands.
"Y'know in an Amazonian kitchen it's considered a great
offense to taste the food without the chef's permission. In
fact, when I was a little girl my mother used to tell Celosia
and I that we could lose a finger for it," Medea crooned,
sidling up to lean against the well. "It's kind of like the
way Amazon hierarchy works, if you think about it, isn't
"Medea, I've got food preparations to be helping
with." Seriana shook her hands to dry them and began to
walk away, but Medea's arm blocked her path.
"Stick around for a while Seriana, Valkyra can be a
demanding taskmistress I'll admit, but surely she wouldn't
challenge the will of the Regent," Medea growled
Though she no longer had the claws her short-lived demonhood
had provided, she flexed her fingers anyway, as if expecting
something to happen. Studying her talon-less fingers with a look
of lost identification, the Regent shook her head and dropped
her angry tone.
"Besides, it's so rare that I get to talk politics with
someone . . ."
Seriana looked away uncomfortably.
"As I was saying," Medea continued, apparently at
complete ease. "The stolen sweet and Themiscyra rule. Yes.
Well, you see, all conflicts within the village begin, as the
chef's did, with a sweet. For the purpose of our discussion
we'll call the sweet . . . Ambrosia."
"Quiet! I'm not done yet!" Medea snarled furiously,
attracting the attention of everyone in the small square.
Smiling serenely, the platinum blond continued. "So there's
some ambrosia to be had, and naturally, somebody wants it. Let's
call that person . . ." she grinned wickedly. "Fanatic
Number One. Now, Fanatic Number One goes completely insane and
goes after the ambrosia, even though she knows the chef, or the
present ruling force of the tribe, the Fearless Regent, will
"I never went after any ambrosia! I followed your
orders! I was after my sister!"
Medea pretended to be confused. "I don't recall saying
this discussion was to be taken on a personal level, Seriana.
We're just talking politics. Now, Fearless Regent goes
after Fanatic Number One, only to find that she has already
gotten her grubby little paws on the ambrosia. Fearless Regent
formulates a brilliant plan to retrieve the ambrosia without
anyone getting hurt. Enter Treasonous Little Idiot.
"Treasonous Little Idiot disregards Ruling Force's
orders and goes after Samsara with NO plan and NO regard for her
former orders! The fearless Regent is forced to save Seriana's
ass from Samara, putting herself at great risk. The plan is lost
and several Amazons are now in a cave with a tripped-out
goddess! To make matters worse, the entrance to the cave
falls, and fearless Regent is stuck in there with the two
traitorous, idiot sisters!
"I mean what does she do? Assuming she makes it out
alive, that is. Does she welcome Treasonous Little Idiot back to
the village with open arms, or does she kill the traitor right
there? Well, Fearless Regent, not being known for her forgiving
nature, decides she'd really rather have traitors dead at her
feet than waiting to disobey within her ranks. She decides she's
going to wait to get out of the mess she's been forced into, and
then she's going to announce an exile. That sounds perfectly
fair, don't you think Seriana? In fact, fairer than what some
Regents would have contemplated.
"But, oh, no. No. The Executive Ruling Force steps in
and calmly explains that Treasonous Little Idiot had her
reasons. And that the half-wit should be given a second chance
because 'we all have hearts and sisters are loyal, and you'd do
the same for me if I went insane and destroyed a nation don't ya
know?' So Fearless Regent finds herself in a very undesirable
position. Fearless Regent is given a plainly unjust treatment!
But she's still a chef, and her orders have still been
disobeyed, and Executive or not, Seri, this chef will find a way
to slice a few fingers. That's the way Amazon law is. I am the
law here, Seriana!" Medea paused and collected her
composure. She'd been raging loud enough for most of the village
to hear. She lowered her volume and leaned closer to Seriana.
"So what do you think of the situation?" the Regent
"You said this wasn't personal, Medea," Seriana
replied truthfully. Inside she screamed. It wasn't right, what
Medea was doing here, basting her in front of her sisters for no
reason but her own sadistic pleasure. If anyone should lose a
few fingers it should be her! "And I think Valkyra's going
to be very angry if I don't get back soon." Unable to keep
the temper from her voice, Seriana stalked back to the Mess hut
where Thalia and Valkyra awaited.
The surrounding Amazons gawked.
"Never fails." Medea muttered, stretching and
regarding the crowd nonchalantly. "They always run off when
I start talking politics..."