The small holding cell was getting awfully crowded.
Most of the Amazons were now packed into the small
space, with a few notable exceptions.
Thalia had convinced Iolaus that screaming wasn’t
helping anyone and Hercules ordered the blonde man to
stop with a few well-timed threats. Aurora and Belen
formulated a plan to escape, aided by the rest of the
Just after dawn, two of the captors brought water and
food. Kat and Danae hurled themselves at them, taking
them by surprise. The others joined in the melee, but
the Themiscryans won their way free.
"Now, to find their leader," Aurora said.
The Amazons fought their way through a maze of tents
and rogue Amazons. Mizera was in the largest, most
luxurious tent. She beckoned to the Amazon leaders
nonchalantly, sipping from a bejeweled goblet while her
former prisoners faced her with weapons drawn.
"What are you doing?" Iolaus harshly
Aurora stepped forward. "I am Aurora, Head
Priestess of the tribe of Queen Celosia. I demand to
know why you attacked us like that."
"Silly girl. I know who you are. Don't worry, I'm
not after you. I have my sights set on a much bigger
prize. I won't hurt you...too much."
"What do you want?" Aurora forcefully asked.
"That's easy. I want your Queen. Dead and
The Amazons gasped at this open threat against their
"But why?" Hercules asked.
Without speaking Mizera focused her cold eyes on them.
She gave a wave of her hand, and roots sprouted out of
the ground, quickly wrapping themselves around the
"What's going on?" Thalia struggled to break
the plants grip, but it was far too strong. "You
never had any sort of power."
Mizera grinned evilly. "Ah, my dear Thalia. I'm
sorry we're all not as gifted as you with having special
powers," she stood and traced her finger along
Thalia's jaw. "Now I'm the one with the
power, not you."
Thalia glared. "It's not always considered a
'gift', Mizera. And I would never use it to hurt
"Who says I'm going to hurt you?" Mizera
feigned shock. "Then again, who says I'm
She walked across the line of Amazons, as if studying
them. "We have some new members to the tribe, I
see. Has my dear Celosia been letting any old Amazon
"You'd better shut up now." Aurora gritted
"I believe I can to anything I want, my
dear." Mizera smiled, sending a chill up Aurora's
"Our sisters will find us." Belen snapped as
Mizera passed her.
"Oh, they can try." Mizera waved her hand
nonchalantly. "I have more control over what’s
happening than you think. Oh, and Thalia?" She
whipped around to glare at the Amazon. "No more
sending messages to your wolf, or I'll give you
something worse than a headache."
Thalia set her teeth, knowing Desdion was their only
hope to warn Celosia, and bring their Amazon sisters.
"You'll never win." Aurora growled.
"I wouldn't bet your dinars on it," Mizera
laughed a cold, evil laugh that sent chills through the
Haven’s spirit self opened her eyes and saw the tent
that Mizera called home. Ranged before the Amazon were
her sisters and the two blonde men they had fought for.
No one sensed her presence; so she allowed her spirit
self to walk around.
To her horror she watched tree roots spring from
nowhere and entangle her sisters. Mizera advanced toward
Thalia, her voice a threat and a warning. The Amazon
snarled something in return that made Mizera very angry.
The woman blasted Thalia with a force that sent the
Amazon across the tent and left her unable to breathe.
Haven had seen enough. She pulled everything she had
from inside her focused it on Mizera's back. It sent
Mizera flying through the wall of the tent and out into
the surrounding field.
Haven’s attack had done its job. She sensed that
Mizera could not control the roots any longer, and
watched as Aurora, sensing the roots give a little,
moved to get loose. The others followed her lead and
they all ran out to continue the battle with Mizera.
Having used all of her strength, both physical and
spiritual, Haven collapsed against the mossy bank of the
river. She had only saved enough energy to keep her
heart beating. Her eyes shut and she went into a deep
sleep, hoping she had given the others a chance.
Thalia delivered the first blow to Mizera. She punched
her with such force that the rogue Amazon fell back to
Mizera realized her powers and her physical state were
weakened. She knew she would have to wait for the right
time to use her powers again, if she didn't she would
have no chance in wining this battle. She opened her
mouth and let out a loud scream that startled all the
Amazons. Their captor disappeared.
"What’s wrong, Mizera? Too scared to stay and
fight?" Thalia called out to the nothingness.
"Run, run, run away! Live to fight another
day!" Mizera's disembodied voice taunted.
Thalia sighed and turned back to the Amazons. Most
were pounding their fists, angered that their revenge
had been taken from them.
"Should we return to Themiscrya?" Belen
"No! Mizera is weak now. If we leave we may never
get this chance again," Thalia responded.
"Maybe we should send someone back to warn the
Queen. The rest of us can stay and fight," Aurora
"Good idea, Aurora!" Thalia complimented.
She looked around, her glance settling on the first
Iolaus’ blue eyes widened, realizing what she meant.
"Oh, no," he said.
"They need you, Iolaus," Hercules said,
clapping his friend on the back. "You’ll be
"All right," he said with a sigh.
"Which way is it?"
"Danae, go with him. You’ve the best chance of
figuring out where this camp is. It can’t be far from
Themiscrya, considering the number of us they’ve
captured. Track it back," Thalia ordered.
The younger Amazon nodded. "Come on," she
beckoned the blonde man. Together they jogged off into
Thalia stared at the spot where Mizera had once been
standing, seething in fury. How dare she threaten the
Queen and her friends!
What had happened to Mizera? Once a good person and
friend, she had begun detesting Thalia for her power to
morph. She seemed jealous of anyone that held any sort
of power. Slowly she had become a different person. She
wasn't the Mizera that Thalia thought she knew. The
other Amazon had grown colder, more distant; she seemed
focused on power and revenge and developed a lust for
As her anger ebbed, Thalia could feel the pain of her
injuries beginning to rise again. The blast from Mizera
in the tent had hit her wounded shoulder, and it felt
like it was on fire.
"Are you all right?" Belen asked, concerned
as she saw the Amazon's face.
"I'll be all right." Thalia sighed. "We
need to be on our guard, Mizera will come back, I know
it. She's not far off, I can feel her."
Alcina nodded. "We'll be ready."
Belen agreed. "At least we know some of what
she's capable of. And Iolaus will warn Celosia. Let's
get your arm seen to, I’m sure there must be a med
tent around in all this. We'll watch out for any attacks
by Mizera, I'm sure she's not going to lets us go this
Iolaus and Danae jogged through the forest, stopping
every once in a while so Danae could track where they
were going. Eventually she found the Thermadon and they
followed the river upstream toward the village.
"What’s that?" Iolaus asked, spotting a
mushy-looking lump of deer hide.
"That’s . . . Haven!" Danae cried, rushing
to the side of the unconscious girl. She checked the
Amazon for a pulse, relieved to find a weak throbbing
under her fingertips. "She’s alive, but
barely," she looked up at her companion.
Iolaus bent down and lifted the girl. "Which way
"We can’t be far. Come on," she picked her
way up the bank and back inland.
Celosia and Tern made a full circle of the village,
but found nothing. They returned to an empty village
square, devoid of anything but rumpled bedrolls.
"Where did they all go?" the Queen demanded.
They’d been in this village less than a week and had
already been attacked three times. First by an army of
men after their prisoners, then from the spirit realm,
now by a mysterious force that had somehow managed to
kidnap all of her subjects.
"I have no idea," Tern offered. She was
wondering where her cousin had gotten to, hoped she was
still safely invisible.
"Damn!" the Queen swore, tossing her belt
knife toward the nearest hut.
The blade barely missed Iolaus’ ear. The blonde
stumbled with his burden and dropped to one knee. Danae
supported his back to keep him from falling over under
the extra weight. Both turned curious eyes up to the
"Sorry!" she said, rushing toward the
unlikely threesome. "What happened?"
"Celosia," Danae addressed the ruler.
"The Amazons were kidnapped by Mizera and a band of
rogue Amazons! They have broken free of their captivity
and tried to attack the woman, but she vanished before
our eyes. Thalia ordered Iolaus and myself to return
home to warn you and the rest of the tribe," she
paused to catch her breath. "We found Haven
unconscious by the edge of the Thermadon."
"Mizera?" Celosia asked, alarmed. She had
once counted the errant Amazon among her closest and
most trusted friends.
"Yeah, she's behind all this," said Iolaus,
gesturing to the empty square.
"Danae, see what you can do for Haven. Be on
guard for more of those sneaking rogue Amazons.
You," Celosia ordered, grabbing Iolaus by the
collar. "Lead me to them."
"No, wait!" Danae protested. "They
wanted us to warn you that Mizera is after you."
"She wants you gone. Dead. Deceased. Out of the
"And I should care about that, why? She’s no
threat to me."
"It turns out Mizera has some weird kind of
power," Iolaus said. "We escaped and fought
our way through to her tent to confront her. She told us
she wanted you dead, but the Amazons wouldn’t say
where you were. Mizera argued with Thalia and blasted
her with some sort of ray or something."
"But there something distracted her," Danae
took up the tale. "Mizera’s concentration was
divided and we chased her away."
Queen Celosia nodded toward the unconscious Haven.
"Projected herself into the fight, no doubt. That
would explain why she’s senseless now. It would take a
lot of power," she looked at Danae and Iolaus.
"But that threat isn’t going to stop me from
saving my tribe." Her voice was firm. "Now, as
I said . . . show me."
"Wait a minute!" Thalia screeched to a halt
and all the Amazons bumped into one another.
"What?" asked Belen.
"Why do you think Mizera gave up so easily?"
Aurora thought for a moment. "You're right! She
must be following us to find out where Celosia is!"
"We won't let her do that," Belen shook her
"Right," Thalia nodded. "We'll lead her
"Be careful, when she finds out we tricked her
she's going to be MAD," Aurora warned.
Thalia found a fallen branch and picked it up,
studying its strength. "Grab some branches,
Amazons. We'll be helpless unarmed." The others
agreed and found suitable lengths to use as staffs or
sharp enough to be wooden stakes.
Thalia studied the woods. It was getting dark and they
were in unfamiliar territory. "You guys wait here,
I'm going to morph and scout ahead to make sure it's
safe," she handed Belen her staff.
"All right, be careful," Aurora warned.
"I will. You be careful as well, be on your
guard." Thalia closed her eyes and slowly shrank
into the form of an owl for night sight. Flapping her
wings she took off into the air, swooping around trees
and disappearing into the darkness.
The young Regent groaned. My gods this wolf is
NEVER going to lead us to the others! She thought
She had become bored at playing panther behind Léda,
Alcina, and Xanthea about a mile back and what was more,
her head throbbed to the point of dizziness from
remaining invisible for such a long period of time.
"Okay, no more playing follow the leader!"
she declared. She reappeared right between Léda and
Xanthea. They both jumped and drew their weapons
startled by the Amazon's sudden appearance.
"Yeah, I followed you. Didn't wanna have to talk
with little miss perfect over there," the blond
interrupted tossing her hair and ignoring Léda 's
angered glare. "Look, I don't think this wolf is
taking us anywhere. Something must have put a glitch in
"The wolf has led us this far...I say we continue
on. It seems to know its way around the forest...unlike
some people. I can't believe you stalked us like that,
Alcina was worried!" The Weapon's Master
"Call of the panther baby. Stalking's what we do
best," Medea grinned and growled deeply.
"Anyway, I heard some footsteps back a little
ways...I'm going to check it out. If you guys
feel like coming, you can. If not, you can follow the
wolf. Your call."
Desdion turned to the Amazons his green eyes seeming
to glow in the darkness.
I see your discomfort. If you do not wish to
continue with me, I will go on alone. He nodded to
them. Thalia is in animal form and moving quickly. It
will be harder to follow her now. Although I can sense
her, she is not nearby. Mizera is not far from her and
He paused a moment and pawed the ground, snorting the
night air. The evil one’s power is not to be
underestimated. She is stronger than she leads you to
believe. My loyalty lies with my cub, so I will continue
to follow Thalia. If you wish to go with Medea I will
The wolf closed his eyes, searching with his mind for
Xanthea sighed. She looked from the wolf to Medea and
back. "What if you get caught, Medea?" she
said. "You can't fight off a horde of evil Amazons
on your own, but if we end up in trouble, we could use
your help. Just . . . let's follow Desdion for a little
while longer. If he can lead us to Thalia, all the
better." She looked up, hearing the cry of a
falcon. "Damn," she muttered.
"What is it?" Alcina asked.
"A falcon," Xanthea said in a near whisper,
looking up to watch it circle her and her Amazon
sisters. Sighing, she turned her attention back to the
rest of them. "It's a sign. Trouble's coming,"
she announced. "We shouldn't split up. Not yet. Not
until we find Thalia and the others."
Medea grumbled, then agreed. "Fine. We'll follow
wolf-man here until we find someone else," the
"Celosia, listen to me," Iolaus said trying
to argue with the Queen. "We can't just go after
Mizera like this."
"Why not?" she asked. "Mizera kidnapped
my sisters right out from under my nose. She has a lot
to answer for. Besides, I have a few tricks up my
sleeves. So tell me Iolaus," she said, turning to
face him, "why exactly are you, a man, telling me,
the Queen of the Themiscryan Amazons, that I can't do
Nodding, Xanthea turned to the others. "Well, we
might as well get on our way," she said. "I
don't think the danger cares if it gets us here or
She looked up again. The falcon was still circling
them. It looked like it wanted to follow them. Xanthea
sighed. "Just what we want," she muttered to
herself, "more trouble."
Medea grumbled as they followed Desdion through the
forest. "This is taking forever."
Xanthea turned to her, holding her finger to her lips.
When she turned back around, Medea stuck out her tongue.
Patience, young ones, Desdion looked at them
with his deep green eyes. I have not found Thalia,
but I believe I have found your sisters.
The Amazons exchanged excited glances. "Where are
they?" Asked Léda. "Are they all right?"
Desdion cocked his head, as if he were thinking. This
way, he said, loping off into the woods. The Amazons
had to run to keep up.
They burst out of the bushes behind the other group.
They whirled around, prepared for an attack.
"Xanthea? Léda? Medea?" asked Aurora.
"Thank the gods we've found you! We have an evil
Amazon on the loose."
"Is this everyone that was captured?" Medea
asked, looking around.
"Iolaus and Danae went back to Themiscrya to warn
Celosia that there's an Amazon after her. Some woman
named Mizera. I gather that she used to be a member of
your tribe," Hercules explained. "Your Head
Scout, Thalia, turned into some bird and flew off to see
if she could find Mizera."
"An owl," Aurora interjected.
"Where were you headed?" Xanthea spoke up.
"This isn't the way to Themiscrya."
"Mizera is following us." Belen explained.
"We can't let her follow us back to Themiscrya or
she'll attack Celosia."
"We won't let her." Léda nodded.
"For the good of your tribe," Iolaus
answered. "They sent us to warn you, to keep you
safe. You mean more to them than their own lives."
"Yes, that sounds like my sisters. However, it
means nothing. I am going to help my tribe,"
Celosia was determined.
Iolaus grabbed the Queen by the arm, struggling to
hold her back. "No! They don't want you to! Mizera
will find you!"
"Please, listen to him, Celosia," Danae
pleaded, still cradling Haven.
Celosia looked down at Iolaus’ restraining hand. He
quickly removed it. "If it's me she wants, let her
have me. I will not put my Amazons in danger."
Iolaus sighed. This was getting impossible.
Thalia coasted through the trees, dodging the branches
that whipped by her. She scanned the wood, but saw
nothing moving on the ground below her wings. Suddenly,
she felt a shock rip through her owl form and she
tumbled wing over tail to the ground. Rolling, she sat
up, realizing as she did that she was back in human
form. "What the..."
Cold laughter came from behind her, sending a chill up
her spine. She knew who it was before she turned around.
"Mizera," she growled. She climbed to her feet
and turned to face the woman, her hand on her sword.
"Is that any way to treat an old friend?"
Mizera feigned surprise.
"What do you want?"
"I already told you what I want," Mizera
glared at the Amazon.
"If you want to get to Celosia you'll have to go
through us," Thalia snarled through gritted teeth.
"Us?" Mizera looked around. "I only see
you, my dear. Your little friends are quite a ways off
with your little wolf." She leaned closer, her cold
blue eyes burning into Thalia's brown ones. "And I
have ways of getting what I want."
Thalia decided to try to send a message to Desdion.
Perhaps it would reach him before Mizera could catch it.
"Ah!" she screamed as a searing pain shot
though her. She clutched her head and dropped to the
forest floor, curling into a ball.
"Now," Mizera twirled her staff. "About
that Queen of yours."
"You'll never get to Celosia!" Thalia
"We shall see." Mizera smiled.