The order swept through the Amazon troops to fall back to
Artemis' temple. They moved in a great wave, stopping their
pursuers when they could. It was easy enough; without Kaia or
Ares they were chaotic and disorganized.
Seriana forced her way through the mass as everyone fled from
Deinus' path. Jadea was helping to get things organized, hunting
down the girls who didn't yet understand what was going on.
"Jadea!" she shouted. "Where's Sami?"
"Gone," Jadea answered. "Kaia's dead, and
Samsara took off. She has another work to do now."
"What kind of an answer is that?" Seriana demanded.
"My sister is missing!"
"She will be back. Have a little faith. Come on, girl;
ride. One more battle, and then we can go home. Remember home?
Take care of this now. Samsara will come back when she needs
The fear-rush that meant the battle was nearing its end was
sweeping over her now, and she beat it back fiercely. Not
now. Finish your work, and mourn and fear and deny when you can
hide in your own hut and no one has to see your Amazon's shame
tracing across your cheeks. Fight now. Cry later.
She turned and joined the mass of Amazons moving towards the
stronghold of the temple.
It was just then that she saw Thalia, on horseback, come
galloping from the woods . . .
I'm heeeeeeerrrrrrreee. Thalia's energetic voice sent a
message to Jadea, who turned her head long enough to give her
Sister a smile and nod.
Seriana rushed past two Amazons on their way to the forest.
Thalia rode up to her, seriousness in her eyes but a valiant
smile on her lips. "Glad to see me?" she asked.
"We're heading to forest. We have to . . ."
"Regroup for another battle. I know. Ardra told
me," Thalia finished.
"There's more. Kaia Kakistos is out of the picture.
Samsara must have killed her," Seriana stated in a worried
tone. She didn't like the idea that Samsara had killed Kaia. And
she liked it less than Jadea seemed to be fine with it. Still,
with the enemy approaching, there wasn't time to argue the
"One less Goddess for us to worry about," Thalia
commented. She spurred her horse and Seriana followed on Denius,
all of them heading back to the battle.
Several yards away, the Sorceress Empress Jadea engaged in a
tactical meeting with Queen Celosia and Queen Vorgeen. Celosia
was torn between wanting to take her Amazons home, and wanting
to remain to see the war through. Vorgeen wasn't about to leave
with an enemy at their backs.
"All right! Look, we don't have much time. Artemis has
always been obsessed with protecting those lands consecrated to
her, right? That's why we move the battle there. That gives us
all leverage to use. And those of us with powers will be
stronger," Jadea stated, looking from Vorgeen to Celosia.
The latter had her reservations about the plan. Jadea saw this
in the look on her Queen's face.
"Besides," Jadea continued with a glance to
Vorgeen, "we have many wounded, and some just recently
killed. If we move quickly now, they can be healed."
Queen Celosia stepped from the circle they'd made. She turned
her back and thought for a moment. Finally, her feet moved back
around and she nodded. "All right. If it saves Amazon
lives, let's do it," she said.
The three placed their hands together to form the pact. As
they broke off, Jadea overhead her Queen make a silent prayer.
Forgive me, Artemis. We have to save our tribes.
Charging her mare forward, Medea yanked the reins tight,
cutting a tight circle, and also three enemies' throats.
Delighted in her victory, she sent a fiery grin to her
ever-present escorts, Pelee and Tern, who watched her with stoic
expressions. Sniffing haughtily, she tugged the reins again,
"Like you could have done any better," she muttered
irritably and shook her head, sorely missing her former long
locks. It used to be quite dramatic to watch those golden locks
fly in the air.
Now is not the time to be thinking about beauty, Medea,
Tern's voice burned in her mind. The Regent rolled her eyes and
sent a dry look over her shoulder. Kicking her mare forward, she
settled her mind on the task at hand and let out a low
ululation, not unlike a wildcat's scream. Instantly the sisters
around her complied with the call and rode up behind her,
forming a neat, fortifying line.
Head held high, Medea and the remaining Themiscyra Amazons
rode towards the temple.
While the two Queens worked on drawing a line in the ground,
so to speak, the Sorceress Empress ordered all wounded Amazons
to be placed inside Artemis' temple. There were looks of
discontent at her order, but no one challenged it.
With her powers intensified, Jadea set about to heal her
fallen Sisters. A lieutenant under Vorgeen's command questioned
Jadea about the dead Amazons.
"The dead don't get deader. I'll heal them soon enough,
just keep them separate from the living. The last thing I need
is infection and disease to spread."
She turned from the lieutenant to continue her work, but
abruptly stopped and turned around once more. "Except one.
There's an Amazon outside with the brand of a claw on her arm.
Bring her to me immediately," she stated, referring to the
Amazon that Vorgeen had defended, then unmasked.
As the Sorceress Empress healed the wounds of each Amazon,
she seemed to grow stronger. She overheard some occasional
grumbling that she should be out there fighting instead of
inside a temple. True, her powers could be used to fight the
enemy, but Jadea was more concerned with the wounded and dead
than with the able and fighting . . . at least for the present
Amazons returned outside for their orders, once their initial
shock had subsided and their will to fight came back to them.
Around the thirteenth warrior, Jadea heard it.
Jade, they have artillery, Ardra warned. No sooner had
the birdís voice spoken than . . .
"INCOMING!" Two scouts, one from each tribe, yelled
across the area. A loud, intrusive explosion that blasted
several Amazons followed their warning.
How in HADES did I miss that? Jadea yelled so fiercely
that Thalia and Medea both heard her thought. The question was
only meant for her, though Ardra naturally heard such thoughts
from her mistress.
Goods news is that they only have one catapult. Bad news is
that we can't get to it. Ardra stated with the voice of one
who is only calmed greater as a situation worsens.
"Famous last words," Jadea said.
All right, Angus, you want a shot at proving your heart's
goodness? Fine. Show me what you can do, she thought to him.
"Get those Amazons in here, now!" She yelled at two
Jadea busied herself with the wounded. Some had had little
sleep before coming to engage the enemy. Those, she allowed some
additional rest before she sent them back outside. For all her
powers, Jadea still had to use some of nature's own remedies to
cure her patients.
So involved with what she was doing was she that Jadea failed
to notice a white canine slip into the temple. Still kickin'
with your tongue as well as your feet, I see.
Jadea turned and recognized the creature before her. Neeko!
Thank the gods! I could use your help, old friend.
The wolf chuckled and strode up to Jadea. Ah, it's good to
Thalia charged into battle, using her crossbow to keep as
many men as she could at bay. Arrow after arrow flew into their
ranks, but they kept coming. As they neared, Thalia drew her
sword and charged at them, yelling a war cry, trying to make
them unsettled at the ferocious women coming towards them. She
parried thrusts, disarming the men. She hated killing, but if it
was to defend her sisters, she had no problem with it.
She let out another cry and continued the battle. She charged
around on her horse, aiding any Amazon who was faltering.
Disarming another one and sending him to the cold ground, she
quickly scanned the scene. To her horror she saw Valkyra,
wounded form one of the blasts, hurt, weak and surrounded by
advancing enemies. Yelling a loud war cry, Thalia charged
towards her, leaning down and hoisting her onto her horse and
charging out of the scene. She had to take her back to Jadea.
She was just past the last few ranks when a searing pain shot
through her shoulder. She jerked back, gasping. She felt her
shoulder- an arrow! One of the bastards had shot her!
Grimacing, she pulled it out while her shoulder was numb.
Throwing it to the side and angrily kicking one of the men in
the head while passing, she charged towards the temple. Before
the horse had even stopped, Thalia was off and carefully letting
down Valkyra. Carrying her in her arms, grimacing at the stab of
pain in her shoulder, she quickly took her inside and laid her
"She was hurt in one of the blasts," she nodded to
"Thank you, I shall see to her." Jadea noticed a
hint of a grimace on the scoutís face. "Are you all
"I'm fine." Thalia shrugged, quickly heading back
out. The deep chocolate colored horse was still outside waiting
for her. "Good boy!" Thalia gave him a pat on the nose
before hopping on his back. "I hope you're ready for some
more battle! Yah!" She took off back to the battlegrounds,
yelling a war cry.
She unsheathed her sword, ready to do as much damage as she
could. She needed to see the enemies' technique, their style of
fighting, in order to choose the right morph to best aid her
sisters. "AyiyiyiyiYOH!" She yelled, bringing her
With a steadiness not uncommon to a trained warrior, Jadea
worked diligently to heal her Sisters. Neeko was gone from the
temple by the time Thalia entered with Valkyra. Despite Thalia's
best efforts, she'd failed to hide her wound from the Sorceress
Empress. Jadea had allowed Thalia to leave the safety of the
Artemis' temple for one reason - she needed Thalia outside.
Jadea placed her hand softly on Valkyra's forehead. The
Amazon's eyes closed as she gave a weak wince. Shaking her head,
Jadea asked if Valkyra could walk. The Amazon shook her head
with a slight motion, a gesture that sooner or later every
Amazon warrior learned to perfection.
"Sabine!" Jadea called to a Highland Amazon,
serving as a nurse. The Amazon was immediately at Jadea's side.
"I need you to help Valkyra to the side. Get her some
cushions to support her. I can't heal her right now and the best
thing for her is to stay off her feet." The Amazon nodded
and took Valkyra's arm around her neck. She gave a yell for
another Amazon to aid her.
The casualties were too many, most from the first initial
attack. The good news was that no more blasts came from the
catapult. Yet, all was not nearing the end.
Jade, Queen Vorgeen wants you outside. Ardra's voice
carried to her Mistress' mind. When Jadea's footing faltered
with her first step. Ardra sensed it. What is it?
Samsara . . . something has happened to her. Ardra, find her!
Reserving her strength for her Sisters, Jadea chose to reach
Vorgeen the mortal way. This took her several minutes to
accomplish, for which she received a vexed look.
"This is how it stands. They've sent their front men
into the forest, but only shallow. The rest are out there
waiting for us to come out. Like vultures waiting for their prey
to die, they're waiting for us to keel over," Vorgeen's
voice was as harsh as her feelings for the men she spoke.
But Jadea's mind wasn't on the battle. She'd caught one word
Vorgeen had used. "Vultures. Why didn't I think of
that?" Jadea's thoughts completed her question.
"Vorgeen, all the men that enter this forest and die . . .
send them back out. I don't care how you do it, just don't get
any of ours killed."
"Wait, what is that going to do?" Vorgeen grabbed
Jadea's arm and searched her eyes.
"It's a trick I learned from the Romans once," she
answered before turning to leave.
A few minutes later, Jadea ran across Thalia in the midst of
battle. A growling sound, eerily identical to that of an angry
lioness, burst forth from her lungs. The man Thalia was fighting
turned and saw Jadea. Hers was the last face he saw before he
collapsed on the ground. Thalia moved her eyes up from the
fallen man to Jadea.
"I had him. What was that for?" She asked,
disappointment in her voice.
"Shock value." Jadea said and smirked before moving
on. As she walked, she tested the integrity of her mental
powers. We need to force them to us or convince them to
As she reentered the temple, she saw Hades standing beside
the altar. His eyes looked down onto the face of the Amazon
there. Jadea glanced around and saw that no one else noticed the
Hades looked up, sadness in his eyes. The God of the
Underworld had a reputation for being all business. He'd made
the unintentional mistake of showing his softer side to such
warriors as Xena and Jadea and even Hercules a time or two.
"You know, I think this is the first time I've been in my
sister's temple before." His comment was spoken lightly,
perhaps to bring what humor it could to an otherwise grim and
"Hades, why are you here?" Jadea asked, surprised
at the calmness of her tone. Her powers, though strong, were
being drained with their excessive use.
"Relax. I'm here to help."
"It's been said before," Seriana said with a shake
of her head, "And I will repeat it. Men just cannot take
Thalia smiled at her friend. "So you're saying you
wouldn't run for your life if an army of walking dead came
running after you?"
"Not if I had two tribes of Amazons behind me."
"But they don't have two tribes of Amazons. They have
one leaderless army of injured men."
Seri nodded. "Point taken."
"Come on," Thalia said. "One more fight. Let's
take out the catapult and then we'll go home."
"Have a feast?" Seriana asked hopefully.
The Amazons had been warned about Hades' offer to help, which
was very helpful to keep people from panicking. As one, the
bodies that they'd left upon the field rose up, working the
kinks from their necks. It was a startling sight for all
"For the Amazon Nation!" shouted a fallen
commander, and the troops roared back his command. They charged
directly on the hiding soldiers, scattering them in all
"Now," Thalia said cheerfully, "We hunt."
She and Seriana turned their mounts into the mess, pursuing
the soldiers and driving them hither and thither. There was no
more threat of casualties; the men were too terrified to attack.
The battle was nearing its close.
"Ares meddled with the Amazons, Hades. Be wise, and do
not repeat his mistake," Artemis' voice filtered through
the halls of her temple. She was at Olympus, but keeping a
rather close watch over what was happening.
Jadea, meanwhile, went ahead with her task. She seemed to
ignore the God of the Underworld and only he knew that she was
tolerating his presence for a reason beyond her duty to her
A groan from the side led Jadea to temporarily leave one
Amazon whose leg had been struck. She kneeled beside Valkyra and
laid her hand over the Amazon's heart. Within a few moments,
Valkyra stood of her own power. She gave Jadea an Amazon tribute
to thank her before departing from the temple to rejoin the
As the Sorceress Empress turned, Hades stood in front of her.
"You cannot avoid me forever, Jade," He stated
softly. Her eyes met his for what seemed like the longest time.
She finally broke away from the gaze and walked past him.
"I don't need forever, Hades," she replied with a
greater degree of her former self.
Elsewhere at that precise time, a woman smirked in utter
satisfaction and pride.
"What do you think is happening to you, Sorceress
Empress? Each Amazon you heal, each life you save . . . is
killing you," He walked around to stand across from her.
"I don't know what you're talking about." She
"I think you do. By allowing Samsara to do whatever she
did to Ares and to Kaia Kakistos, you condemned yourself. Only
you're too proud to admit it to your Queen or the others,"
he stated rather blatantly.
She looked up from a dead Amazon, a dead Themiscyran Amazon.
"You think you know what you're talkin' about. But you
don't," she declared, her eyes beginning to glow.
Jadea placed her hands over the Amazon, palms flat. With her
eyes closed, she began to utter an incantation. The pendant
around her neck changed colors, alternating from a blood red hue
to a deep green. Soon, the Amazon's eyes opened, looking up at
Jadea above her.
"I-I failed," she whispered.
Jadea shook her head, taking the Amazon's hand in her own.
"No. You live."
"The others? They know?" The Amazon asked weakly.
Again, Jadea shook her head. Her hand received a gentle
squeeze. "No. They know not," She answered with a
softness Ares might have clenched his stomach to witness. The
Amazon turned her head and saw Hades.
Jadea noticed the Amazon's reluctance. "They need your
help, my Sister." The Sorceress Empress brought the
attention back to her.
The Amazon nodded, and Jadea placed her left hand upon the
Amazon's forehead. She disappeared, reappearing on the outside
of the temple.
Jadea looked at Hades, who had seen the whole episode.
"You take a risk in sending her back." He said with
a low tone.
"No greater a risk than she took in saving a Highland
Amazon's life," Jadea replied with a biting strength that
the God of the Underworld could not counter.
Exiting the temple, the Sorceress Empress gave a loud
whistle. The nearest Amazons gathered up around her.
"It's time for the last dance of this party. Let's do
it!" A loud cheer followed and Amazons immediately mounted
and took up arms. Jadea gave the temple one last look before she
mounted a horse.
"Thank you, Artemis."
The sight of over a hundred Amazon warriors storming out of
the forest was overwhelming to the men who stood on the
battlefield. Some began to desert and flee. Others yelled orders
and still others gave cries of encouragement.
Most of the Amazons that emerged from the woods were on
horseback. Three lines of archers were deployed at various
positions. All in all, the battle was most entertaining. A mass
confusion of one of the divisions provoked Jadea to use a
barrage of fireballs.
High above, large birds of prey . . . indistinguishable to
most on the grounds . . . hovered about. Occasionally, one of
these creatures would dive down and attack a warrior or two.
Always the men, oddly.
Yes, had Ares been there to see it, he'd have been most
impressed. Disappointed that the Amazons were kicking ass, but
The undead men simply advanced toward the standing
reinforcements. Every now and then, one or two would fall, then
they'd rise and continue on, relentless. True, these undead
warriors could not kill, could not harm . . . could not even
take a wound meant for someone else. But they could, and did,
scare many witless. Even some Amazons felt their skin crawling
and their stomach churning at the sight.
The Amazons had their victory, but at a price. The living men
attempted to retreat, but were cut off by Thalia and Seriana and
a rather large catapult. The undead men fell to the ground as
the battle ended, returning to the afterlife they were due.
Hades was happy to show them road to Tartarus.
The Sorceress Empress standing among the warriors at the
front of the Amazon army collapsed to the ground as the menís
army surrendered. She had dismounted earlier in battle, and had
used a great deal of her powers. As she closed her eyes, her
pendant began to lose all hue and became as clear as a pure
crystal. Jadea heard Amazon cheers and enthusiastic howls of
The last sound she would hear would be the soft brogue of the
Highland Amazon Queen.