illusion is a dream.
is also a dream:
from a dream
the beginning of life.
took Karma as Samsara sat down on Jadea's pallet. She couldn't
possibly understand what her Eastern mentor had to say. She
played with her staff, balancing the wood upright on her palm.
hope that the news I bear you will believe," she walked
around with the child. "And if you don’t, Rhea's Ruby
will show you the truth."
looked at her. "How did you know..."
know. It's in your pouch. Where you kept the ambrosia you stole
and subsequently lost."
touched her leather pouch. There it was, still hidden from view.
"What do you want to tell me, Mariko?"
you learn, take the Rhea Ruby and watch the events. That way you
will know that I speak the truth." She paused. She turned
to her and looked right into her eyes. "Ares is not your
sound of Samsara's staff falling out of her hands was the only
sound to shatter the silence that immediately followed. Karma's
smooth sounds of sleep continued.
she hissed, retrieving the staff from the floor. "I am
blessed with the sad knowledge that Ares is my father. Why do
you lie to me?"
eyes turned to slits. "You know me better than that,
Japanese woman never called her by her given name. She was the
only person who called her Kakistos -- Worst of the Worst as her
mother was once called.
do. Why would you tell me this now?"
you are to understand that this rage you hold inside of you is
yours to control. This isn't the workings of Ares."
what am I to do? Who is my father, then, Mariko?" She
picked up her staff and stood up.
Rhea Ruby will show you all you need to know,” she said,
handing back the baby and walking out the door.
stood in the middle of her aunt's hut, cradling a child in one
arm and holding her staff next to her body with the other. She
decided to use the Rhea Ruby, but for other purposes....
with her usual bad timing, chose that moment to rap on the door
and step inside. "Sami, Jadea sent us a letter."
letter, three sheets of folded parchment, was in her hand and
she was reading it while walking. "Part of the tribe is
safe back home. The rest are with the pirate Nebula."
sat down on the floor and turned to the next page. "Have
great hopes of our sisters joining us as soon as may be . . .
much as I miss you all, it is good to be home again where no one
has a Greek accent. Oh. Listen to this. 'To the astonishment of
everyone, Angus . . . attacked me . . . shortly after we landed
in Britannia. He protested that he was trying to save me, but
the Queen has turned him out of the tribe and I have no idea
where he's gone. Of course, it's never easy to get rid of Angus,
but I am horribly worried about him, about the rest of my tribe
at sea, and about you, my dear nieces, back in Themiscyra. I
pray that all will be well as soon as ever it can. My dearest
love to you both . . . Samsara, stay out of trouble. I remain
always, your aunt by blood and sister by loyalty, Jadea, the
looked up from the writing. "I wonder what's gotten into
Angus . . . Sami, are you all right?"
had her eyes fixed on the face of the child. "No," she
said, quietly and with a strange sort of calm. "I am not
saw Mariko coming out as I came in . . . did she say something
to you? Come on, Samsara, I'm your sister. You can tell
shook her head. She looked a strange color and she would not
lift her eyes from the child's face. "Let me alone."
. . ."
despite being the elder of the two, was still a bit in awe of
her sister's complicated, violent existence. Not knowing whether
interfering further would do good or ill, she judged it best to
not press the matter.
right. If you need me, I'll be in my hut, any hour of the day or
night. If you need me to take Karma, I'd be glad to."
in a little while."
Seri got up. "Please, Sami . . . trust me?"
ignored the question. "If you are going to write back to
Jadea, make no mention of this. I would not have her know of it
course." Seriana folded the letter and left with it pressed
tightly in her hands.
large hawk migrated from tree to tree, taking in the actions of
every Amazon warrior in Themiscyra. Peaceful wasn’t the most
accurate word for Themiscyra's atmosphere, but it was close
noticed the tribe's Queen Regent Medea delving into her duties,
leaving no task undone. The stables were cleaned. New bows,
arrows, fighting staffs, and chobos were made. Regularly
scheduled training was again practiced by each warrior. Hunting
parties were sent out for food. Queen Medea saw to it that each
of her Amazons were given sufficient leisure time without
lessening the amount of work completed.
Medea was gradually more and more of her old self -
authoritative, stubborn, and intimidating. Even so, fulfilling
the role of Queen created a transformation in the woman. This
was something Ardra had witnessed first hand.
all began with the simple intention of locating Samsara, Jadea's
niece. Medea intended the Amazon, mother or not, to do her share
of the work. That she was not doing so was apparent, so she went
looking for the Goddess. The Queen suspected Samsara to be in
Jadea's hut. She was right.
outside of the hut, Medea hesitated before entering. A kind of
reservation prevented her from just charging in to demand
Samsara to get her sorry, immortal butt to work. At the time
this happened, Ardra was perched atop the nearest neighboring
is ridiculous! I am Queen! She is just an Amazon warrior! Why am
I standing out here like I'm about to intrude? The Queen
shook her head and stepped inside.
out of curious nature, flew down onto the ground and remained
near enough to overhear.
didn't look up to see who was there. She was aware someone had
entered, but she didn't care. The Goddess kept hearing Mariko's
words echo in her mind. "Ares is not your father."
questioned whether Mariko spoke the truth. And finding that the
woman couldn't or wouldn't lie to her, Samsara was swept into a
whirlpool of maddening questions.
Ares isn't my father, then who the Hades is? Does Ares even know
he isn't my...did Callisto know? Maybe she lied. No, why give me
to the Amazons with the note that Ares is my father? She
couldn't have known. Do the other gods' know? I wonder if the
Goddess of Wisdom even has the damn answer to this one!
short, Samsara didn't know what to make of this news. She'd been
blindsided by it and now her emotions were many. In many ways,
Samsara felt betrayed. And yet...and yet had she been? If those
surrounding her parentage, those nearest to her now even, if
they did not know the truth, had they truly betrayed her?
could hear many of the questions rolling around in the Goddess'
mind and she feared that the makings of a confrontation were
present with the Queen Regent's thoughts set on putting the
woman to work.
sent a message to Thalia, who at the time was in the mess hut
eating a snack after her training session. Thalia, would you
please come to Jadea's hut? Ardra sounded unnerved.
had been said inside yet. The Queen simply stood, staring at the
Goddess with her knees up to her chin as she rocked back and
forth lost in her own thoughts.
is it Ardra? Thalia questioned, a bit irritated at having
her meal interrupted. She didn't mean to sound as harsh, quickly
adding, I'm eating. Is something wrong?
moment passed before Ardra answered. She was listening intently.
I just need you to come in case I require back up. Please,
the urgency the Head Scout heard in her mind, she excused
herself from her Sisters and left. About the time Thalia
approached Jadea's hut, noting that Ardra sat on the ground
nearby, Medea broke the silence within.
We need you out by the river," the Queen informed, though
neglecting to say why the Goddess was needed by the river.
didn't look up. She gave no indication she'd heard her Queen. As
the Goddess Kakistos, as the Worst of the Worst, Samsara had
rarely felt helpless. The times she had, she'd never let it show
and often found the feeling would pass once another village was
taken or another army was destroyed. But now, the Amazon felt
helpless and utterly lost as to what she should do. Well perhaps
not utterly lost, the droplets of a plan formed inside her mind,
circulating around giving Prince Rhea's Ruby.
Medea repeated more strongly this time.
woman looked up and met the narrowed eyes of the Amazon before
her. "You do not need me, Medea," was all Samsara said
before lowering her eyes once again.
Thalia looked from the hawk on the ground to the entrance to the
hut. She had a confused "what the heck" look on her
Medea's inside...with Samsara, Ardra explained.
you called me? If those two get into it, you'll need more than
just me to break them up, Thalia returned, absolutely sure
a little faith in yourself, Ardra countered before
continuing to listen.
Queen was perturbed at Samsara's familiar usage of her name, and
her not using the woman's title. Ordinarily, this would've
provoked an outburst from Medea, followed then by a fiercer one
from Samsara, which would lead on until someone intervened or
one outmatched the other. That didn't happen this time.
looked at the Goddess and noticed something different. She
realized that Samsara was not Samsara. The old Medea would have
pounced on this opportunity like a lioness would upon a long
sought after prey.
the Queen Regent looked down at the baby. She followed the line
of vision straight to Sami's eyes. A second or two later, the
Goddess began humming the same tune as before. Only this time,
the sound was far more haunting than before. The Queen concluded
that she was in the middle of something she didn't want to know
about and decided it was time to leave.
still had some parting words." Samsara...I don't know
what's going on with you, but you're needed on the right bank of
the river. They're waiting for you." Queen Medea stepped
outside, her eyes first meeting Thalia. "What are you
bewildered Amazon shook her head and lied. "Nothing,"
she said and avoided implicating Ardra by looking at her.
get to work! This isn't summer camp!" Medea snapped, more
out of frustration from her awkward little exchange with
didn't reply but immediately left.
this time but many, many miles away...
dun understand what got intah 'im," Dolphinea was saying to
two women walked side by side, occasionally climbing a steep
incline. They'd gone to pick some herbs which grew on the tops
of certain hills. Jadea was grateful to be back home again. She
was further grateful that of all the people mentioned in her
presence, not a one was him. Even speaking of Angus was
preferable. Not that she really desired to talk about him, but
it was a more attractive topic than the said. "Men!"
Jadea chuckled and shook her head. "Ya can't live with 'im."
Highland Queen turned her head to the side, expecting an
addition to the comment. When she got none, her own laughter
broke into the air. "Ach, so that's all?"
Jadea laughed, nodding along as she did. "Aye. Why do ya
think we don't allow them to live on our lands?" She sighed
a bit, more out of content and irony than sadness, and offered,
"O' they're good in moderation, and all."
bent over to examine a rare flower. After a moment, she stood
back up. "If that's so, then why'd ya let Angus live with
us in Themiscyra?"
Sorceress Empress stopped her feet. For a second, Dolphinea
feared she'd said something wrong. But her eyes quickly
discerned the thoughtfulness in Jadea's demeanor.
s'pose I knew it'd be easier than tryin' to keep him away. He's
all the gall and persistence of your average Celt...added to the
fine influences of our world."
laughter was sudden and somewhat nervous. She agreed with her
Empress, but another thought had closed upon her mind.
would return, she thought. Jadea was right about him. He was
irritatingly stubborn at times. Once, going so far as to
challenge Jadea in front of her former mate in order to prove
that he wasn't afraid of fighting her.
foreign silence came between them, initiated by Jadea. Dolphinea
chose not to bring up Angus again that day. Whether or not she'd
planned on soon speaking to Jadea again about him, the Queen
never got the chance.
night fell upon the Island of Britannia, more pointedly upon the
Highland Amazon camp, Jadea slipped out quietly by foot. When
she reached their border, she disappeared.
sudden decision to leave without notice prompted Dolphinea to
send out scouting parties. They discovered her trail and
direction it lead to. When the report was given that Jadea's
tracks ended at their border, Queen Dolphinea sighed. There was
no way to know where the Sorceress had gone after that and no
way to track her.
could have told her where she'd gone, had he been allowed into
the Amazon land. He'd known that the first chance she got, Jadea
would go after her prey. Not only had he known, he'd tried to
stop her from going. For his trouble, he'd failed in his task
and was now unable to help the young Highland Queen.
Dolphinea known her better, she would have seen what Angus saw.
That Jadea'd vehemently resisted the idea of going back to
Celtia, but had gone because she'd been cornered into going.
She'd been given no choice in her opinion. Had the Highland
Queen known her better, she would have pondered, "Why would
a woman who is so deeply linked and devoted to a land...not
wish to return?" But the Queen Regent of the Highlands was
not the Queen, Vorgeen, a lifetime friend; nor was she Angus, a
scamp of a Celt male.
knew that the answer was simple - there was a man resided on
Britannia's neighboring Isle - Eire. This man was of noble blood
and was a Highland native, but had chosen to leave in order to
raise an army. Which he had succeeded in doing. So successful
was his campaign that when he and the Sorceress Empress crossed
paths for the first time, the Celt commanded some 500 men and
women. About half of these, however, were known mercenaries.
Their loyalty came from knowing that their leader had wealth
with which to pay.
man was the only traitor Jadea had ever spared.
her early days, Jadea had executed anyone who'd committed
treason, even women. Not Amazon women, but women who were
capable fighters and who could have chosen to be Amazons in
their time, had they not betrayed her.
tended to trust women more easily than she trusted men, and thus
was more vulnerable to them when they chose to turn on her.
Once, Jadea nearly lost her life to one woman who attempted to
sell her out. Luckily, or unluckily, the traitor was killed when
she chose to protect Jadea from an arrow. The woman's last words
were a plea for forgiveness from Jadea. The woman died with
honor - and her granted request.
Highland Queen knew nothing of all this, of course. All she knew
was that Jadea had vanished from her lands.
we send a search expedition?" One of the younger Highland
lieutenants asked of her Queen.
shook her head. Jadea had left without giving anyone even the
slightest indication, which meant she'd not let herself be
found. No use in exhausting her trackers to seek out a
we let her be. Return to your post," Dolphinea ordered.
was angered by the thought that Angus had been right to try to
subdue Jadea when he'd had the chance. More than that, she was
angered that Jadea had been the one to make him right.
overheard the new mother and the new Queen, Ardra had a sneaky
suspicion that Samsara knew something now which she hadn't
before. The guardian hawk resolved to discover what it was. For this,
she went to find Seriana in the hopes of learning the answer.
fluttering of wings announced Ardra swooping into Seriana's hut
and landing on the floor. Seriana, who was still absorbed in the
embroidery of her cloak, looked up. "Hallo, Ardra. All
tell me, said Ardra solemnly. Samsara's acting awfully
let the heavy wool fabric fall into her lap. "I know. She
wouldn't even look at Jadea's letter, and I know she misses her
as much as the rest of us."
knows a lot of things."
but she knows very few things that will send her into shock, and
she's in shock now. Did she tell you anything? Did you guess
should she tell me anything?" Seriana shoved the cloak to
the floor in frustration and cradled her head in her hands.
"Just because we're sisters, and she's my only blood
relation that hasn't either died on me or disowned me, why
should that be any obligation of trust?"
you know that few people value ties of blood the way you do.
That's not the question. The question is: what is wrong with
that Eastern woman. Samsara told me nothing."
you learned something. Few secrets stay totally hidden from a
raised her head up. "That's true. There is one thing I
noticed . . . she flinched at my use of the word 'sister'. But
that could just mean I'm being possessive and she's sick of it.
Or maybe she feels like I've abandoned her. I don't know! I hate
life," She fell back onto her bed and stared at the
ceiling. "Why do things have to be so confusing?"
being a telepathic bird sometime.
I guess that's true."
a moment of reflection, she rolled to one side and propped
herself up on her elbow. "Does Jadea know anything about
it? Has she told you anything?"
If she knows anything about Samsara's strange behavior, or the
cause of it, she didn't hear it from me and she hasn't told it
made me promise not to write her about it. But I've got to write
something or she'll get suspicious, and all I can think about is
her Thalia and Garrett are breaking the ice. Tell her Medea cut
her finger yesterday and swore for ten minutes about it. Tell
her it looks like rain. There are lots of things to chatter
then I'll sound like an idiot."
finally smiled a little. "I don't know what we should do
without someone so sensible in the village."
flicked her head to settle the feathers back in place, then
hopped to the windowsill and took off. Seri watched her until
she was out of sight over the woods.
words echoed in her head, "Ares is not your father."
wouldn't lie to me, Karma," she said to the child. She was
still asleep, the little angel that she was. "But, how can
this be true? I'm cursed with the knowledge that Ares is my
father. That he took Mother for his own pleasure and that I came
from that act."
shook her head as she pulled out Rhea's Ruby. "She told me
to use this, but I got it for my horse." The stone glinted
in the light that trickled into Jadea's hut. Samsara stood,
child and staff in hand, and walked out of the tent toward her
had finished writing her letter to Jadea. She stepped out of her
hut as well, letting the mid-afternoon sun beat down on her
face. She was nearly done with her embroidery, the family
insignia that would connect her, Samsara, and Jadea. She saw her
sister walk out of her aunt's hut, still pallid, still strange
in demeanor. She made a beeline right for her.
saw Seriana walk toward her. Oh, no she thought. I can't deal
with this now "What is it, Ser'?"
wanted to talk to you."
didn't mention any of this to Jade, did you?" she queried,
eyeing the letter in her hand. Seriana shook her head.
"Good, then we have nothing to talk about," she walked
past her toward the stables.
she yelled. She spotted Medea making a path right to the
Goddess. "Samsara, listen to me..."
turned to her right. She slit her eyes and looked right at the
royal Amazon as she headed right for her. "Did you need
am Queen and you will address me as such," Medea raised her
nose a little.
chuckled. "Yes, yes, they need me by the river. Medea, as
far as you and I are concerned, we are of the same rank. I did
catch a bit of your thoughts. I'm not just an Amazon warrior. I
am an Heiress. And guess what? That makes my sister, Seriana,
next in line after me."
is a Themiscyran, first an foremost--"
an unbreakable connection to Teloq through me. So I don't want
to hear of any antics concerning you and her."
Seriana threw herself on Medea, pushing the Queen Regent onto
the dusty ground. Out of her pouch fell a parchment. The blonde
writhed out of the other's grip and screamed like a banshee,
pulling out her daggers. But where Medea had once stood, an
arrow now buried itself in the ground.
three looked at the arrow and froze. Medea followed the line of
the shot and her eyes focused on the shooter. She snarled,
standing up. "Garrett!" she screamed as a small crowd
meanwhile, reached for the note that fell out of Medea's pocket.
She smiled. It was the note Queen Dolphinea had left for her.
She opened the parchment and read. Karma was still asleep.
looked at the Queen in complete fear. Pike was with him.
stalked to them, her face turning all kinds of red.
are practice grounds for?" she demanded in as sweet a voice
as she could muster.
of earshot, Samsara chuckled. She had a bit of trouble
understanding Dolphinea's note as she spoke a much different
dialect of Amazon and had trouble writing in standard
Themiscyran. Still, it was probably the best news she had gotten
in a while.
was startled by the confrontational nature of the Queen Regent.
He had no idea what to say to her.
did. With the child at her bosom, she called Medea's attention.
"You won't treat a guest of Themiscyra this way," she
walked from the palisade toward the scene. She could hear
Samsara's voice boom.
turned to the Goddess and laughed. "You know what, Amazon
Warrior? I am Queen of this tribe, get it? I will do as I please
and if it means stopping our guests from shooting arrows at me,
then that is what it means."
that's funny. Because according to this," she waved the
papyrus at her, "Says
that Jadea left
Celtia and as I am her closest living relation, I am now your
laughed. She slammed the parchment onto the Regent's chest and
walked toward the stables. "You'll leave Garrett alone. He
is Themiscyra's guest."
wanted by the river, not the stables, Teloan!" Medea was
that reminds me, since I can't leave the grounds, especially
now, please see to it that preparations for Karma's naming and
casting are attended to. After all, you are Queen by
caste," she chuckled as she walked past the Amazons.
ran after her sister. She caught up with her in an instant as
they entered the stables. "What in the name of Artemis was
that?" she demanded of her younger, but older-looking
gave her rite of caste to two Queens. Until she returns, the
caste follows the paths it normally would. When one Queen
leaves, the next in line takes on the caste. That would be me.
That is what Dolphinea had to say,” Samsara said.
were reading for a while. What else is in there?" Seriana
was good at picking things up.
walked toward Prince's quarter. The black stallion snorted as
his mistress approached.
handed Karma over to Seriana so the Goddess could pet her
child is of no relation to me whatsoever, Seriana thought. How
can she fit into all this? What was Ishtar's plan? Why did she
bring the child back to life? Seriana knew that Samsara threw
her sword away because of the child. She new that her demeanor
had changed, that she returned to normal after seeing Ishtar.
But a child? To bring a child into this? "What was it that
that Eastern Woman told you?"
name is Mariko, Ser'," Samsara responded, not turning from
her cursory grooming of her horse.
whatever. What did she tell you?" she demanded.
walked outside as the Goddess took her horse out. Samsara
reached into her pouch and pulled out the ruby, placing it
snugly in the horse's soft spot. A bright light surrounded the
horse and suddenly, he was endowed with great black wings that
were an extension of his magnificent body. She mounted the
steed. She looked down at her sister and with an ear to ear
grin, she said:
come for a ride?"
that little--!!!" Medea swore creatively. She had style,
she had flair. And she clearly had no knowledge of what the
human body was capable of, because the threats she spat out were
quite anatomically impossible. "ERGHH!" The
spiky-haired Regent seethed, slamming her fist into a nearby
hut. It dented.
she bellowed after a moment's awkward silence. The Amazons
surrounding her took several steps backwards, giving her room.
"Don't just STAND there!
THIS!" Three Amazons scrambled off to find the mending
materials it seemed the village was needing more and more often
as of late.
could barely contained her grin as she spoke to Celosia’s
you going to see to the arrangements for Karma then, My
Queen?" she asked timidly.
Thalia, I am NOT seeing to the needs of that banshee's demon
to be fair, it isn't really her child . . ."
shot the biomorph a wide-eyed warning, and Thalia backed off.
"Should I be heading back to the river to work then?"
Queen nodded with a scowl. "Do that," she advised in a
forcedly polite tone. The Head Scout retreated with a responding
tilt of her head, grabbing other sisters by the arms as she
went. If she read this right, and she was fairly decent at
reading Medea, no one would want to be near the Queen Regent for
the next few hours. Or days.
stormed back to her own hut and immediately whipped a dagger at
repair. Third this week. Very Queenly, Medea.
up, brain," she growled under her breath and flopped down
on the hard floor. She ripped the pouch she had received from
Dolphinea from her belt. Carefully she undid the ties of the bag
and slipped the twilight bark out. She turned the item over in
her hands, rubbing the smooth sides almost in experimentation.
almighty! Samsara? My co-Queen is that rabid bitch? Oh gods,
I've got to find a way to get Jadea back. If I call her and I
tell her the nation's in trouble or something...
shoved the bark back into the bag and whipped it across the room
as if it were poison. A look of extreme anger settled upon her
she screamed at herself in the harshest scold. Her hands
actually shook a bit. A strange woman who can intimidate
herself. You can do this yourself! You actually considering
asking for that loser sorceress back? What, do you MISS her or
young woman sneered at herself. She refused to admit that it was
a bit more forced than usual. "Of course not," she
muttered under her breath.
picked herself up and retrieved her dagger from the wall.
Marching proudly back into the hot sun of another fine working
day in Themiscyra, the Amazon Queen nodded to herself. "Of
handed Karma up to Samsara, then mounted the back of the
now-winged steed. The Goddess handed the baby back to her
sister, and the three took off.
launched into the heavens quickly and gracefully. Although
he’d never flown a day in his life before, had never spent one
day aloft, his heart knew what his body did not. He flapped with
strength and without fear and both women could feel the joy that
sang through him.
air was cooler the higher they climbed, but they were warmed by
Prince’s body and breath. Samsara guided him toward the
mountains, then toward a cave on a plateau. Prince landed,
snorting as his hooves hit solid earth again.
bobbed his head and suddenly Rhea's Ruby shined as if it were
Apollo himself. The light was focused on something, so Samsara
took a hold of his reigns and pulled him into the cave. Seriana,
cradling Karma against her for warmth, followed behind them.
light focused on a smooth wall.
had witnessed the scene before, but Seriana had never been
exposed to it. She watched, curious, as the drama unfolded on
the wall before her, the pictures lively and moving.
Instinctively, she stepped closer to her sister rocking the baby
never knew the acts surrounding her sister's conception; had
never experienced a man or the violence a man could do to a
woman. When the events began unfolding before her, the older
grabbed hold of the younger with one a hand, but this scene no
longer phased Samsara and she shrugged away from the grip, stiff
there was something that only Apollo and his twin Artemis knew.
Once the scene the two women saw was over, Apollo appeared. He
looked at the wall, then to the horse, then to a seething and
stunned Silver Hawk, until his eyes rested upon the docile
Goddess Kakistos of Destruction.
glad to make your acquaintance again, Goddess Samsara," he
said, lowering his head. He was the God that gave her the least
trouble during her interlude on Olympus. In fact, so long as she
didn't threaten to make night day and day night, he was content
with whatever was going on. His main objectives were wine,
women, and song.
Apollo," she said, looking at the God with a cocked eye.
"What brings you here? Taking in the sights?"
came to tell you the rest of the story, as there are other
elements hidden from you. Samsara, Hestia took pity on your
grandmother when she was killed. She was a devoted priestess of
Hestia's until she was forced to marry. She loved your
grandfather yes, but she loved the temple more and always
revered Hestia by staying chaste unless they wanted children.
Now, your grandfather understood and he loved her so much that
he would never and never did stray. Before the fire overcame
your grandmother, Hestia appeared and granted one of her devoted
worshippers a wish. She wished that the child inside her would
see life even if she weren't to.
winters later, Ares came into Callisto's life again and intended
to destroy her. I caught a glimpse of the happenings in Zeus'
chamber and I immediately went to Hestia, hoping that by
replacing Ares' conception with Callisto's mothers’, the world
would be spared a monster. I took the soul and went to the
Labyrinth of the Gods, cloaked in invisibility. I placed the
soul in your mother and I intended to stop Ares, but I was
is something you should know. We weren't sure if the plan
succeeded until Aratus, son of Asclepius told us that your
mother was ... barren. She couldn't have possibly concieved you
from the act."
shrugged. "So Ares isn't really my father?"
taken aback by the docile reaction of his niece, nodded.
"He did sire you, but he is not your father. He is your
symbolic father, let's put it that way."
smiled, then looked at Seriana. "She is still my blood
sister. No matter what anyone says." She looked over at
where Seriana cradled the babe in her arms. Karma slept.
"Thank you for telling me the truth, Apollo. Do the other
gods know this?"
shook his head. "Only, my sister Artemis, Hestia, and
nodded. "Good. It'll do you well to keep this a secret if
only for now," Samsara and Seriana mounted Prince, who
turned, trotted out of the cave, and took off to return to
IS THAT ARTEMIS-FORSAKEN-BRAT
HER SISTER?” Medea demanded. The co-Queen was on the rampage.
men sat around a crude wooden table in an abandoned barn. Each
of them were unarmed, per their agreement, and spoke in turn
about a matter of which they all had shared interest.
must unite together!" One of them was saying. He'd a soft
brogue and simple features. The others nodded with consent.
four men were bitter rivals, each the head of his own clan.
Never before had a group of men hated each other so. This was
not the first attempt at a truce and alliance the men had made.
a warning, a stranger leapt from above and landed hard on the
table. The men, weaponless, jumped back before their nature took
over and lead them to attack. All four stopped short.
figure mocked them. "Tsk tsk tsk. I'd have thought ya had
more brains among ya." The voice was feminine but strong.
She spoke as though she had nothing but disdain for her
are ya?" One of them asked angrily.
added, "Show your face!"
woman's face hid within her hood. She slowly raised her hands to
slide it back. The men gasped which caused the woman to smile.
"I want ya to deliver a message for me." She said
moments, all four men lay dead on the floor. Their bodies were
sprawled out as if knocked by a great force.
woman looked around with great satisfaction and amusement.
"Let thah game begin!" She remarked and vanished.
old barn burned to the ground, but the bodies within were
untouched by the flames. It was a sign to him. To beware because
she was back.
waited in a spacious cave carved in a hidden hillside. She waved
her hand, opening a window through which to see Themiscyra.
her dismay, the Sorceress Empress observed her Queen Regent in a
dangerous mood. She panned across the camp to see her Niece.
Unable to find Samsara, Jadea growled.
can't have this right now, she chided herself and closed the
window. Jadea'd allowed herself to see very little of the events
in Themiscyra. She didn't want to be distracted.
be coming for her soon. And when he came...she'd be ready for
tall, dark-haired man with crystal blue eyes and a fair
complexion walked among the charred rubble. He was attired in a
warrior's clothing. Several men stood behind him, and others
were searching the grounds for any tracks or clues.
last, the leader's lieutenant walked up to him and grimly
reported. "All four of them are dead. There's nothin'.
Whoe'er or whate'er i'was left no trace."
commander shook his head. "No trace is her trace," he
answered, more to himself really. The blue-eyed warrior turned
his head. "Move out!"
watched as her previous love took his men away. She smirked a
bit. "Don't feel so sore. I couldn't send the message
without killin' the messenger."
she clutched her stomach. A sharp pain struck inside her,
reminding her of those she left behind in Themiscyra. The guilt
drove her wild, and her hand brought forth the window once more.
charged into the stables, fire in her eyes. She felt that if she
called upon Jadea to resolve this, she would look weak.
"Samsara Kakistos of Teloq, I challenge you!"
looked wide-eyed. Samsara, Seriana, Karma and Prince had just
arrived back at the stables when the Queen broke in. Medea
didn't even stop to notice that Prince had become a Pegasus.
Medea, you can't do this!" Seriana said. Medea shoved her
out of the way and she fell to the ground on her backside,
choosing to protect the baby when she could easily have rolled
out of the fall.
Jadea shook her head. Don't do it, Medea. Medea, don't do it!
But there was nothing she could do. The window abruptly closed.
She jerked her head up and listened. "Ah, here comes
trouble!" She laughed and left the seclusion of the cave.
her devotion to Themiscyra pulled at Jadea's heart, her mind was
too far set on vengeance.
a thief is
a six-foot rod,
looked down at her fallen sister, then back at Medea. "You
challenge me to a duel?" Samsara threw her head back and
laughed. "Funny you should challenge me now, Medea, but I
threw my sword into the river."
Medea screamed. She was incredulous. Samsara throwing away her
No challenge, sorry," She said, pulling her sister and
Karma up off the ground. She tossed her ponytail with a smile.
can't deny the challenge unless someone fights in your
place," Medea seethed.
were just outside the stables and again another crowd of more
interested Amazons began to form. The Highland Elders were in
the foreground, watching the display of an angry Queen versus an
oddly quiet one.
nearly said something when Samsara cut her off. "I will
accept no replacements, Medea. I will not accept the challenge
Queen Regent scowled. "This is a royal challenge, Teloan.
That is the first thing. You will accept or abdicate. And my
title is Queen and you will address me as such."
on what grounds do you propose such a challenge, Queen Regent
Medea?" Samsara kept her voice steady. As much as she
wanted to fight Medea, it wouldn't work. It just wouldn't work.
She held her staff before her. The wind picked up and threw her
long black hair back. Medea's blonde spikes whipped around her
challenge your ascension."
was all the Goddess could do but fall onto the ground and
convulse with laughter. "You challenge my ascension to the
Throne? Darling, I am merely interim as are you until Celosia
returns. I have no claim to the Themiscyran throne. I have claim
to the Teloan throne."
least you admit it."
of ascension dictate that when the Queen leaves, her heiress
ascends. It applied in your case and it applies to me."
never named an heiress."
demanded two Queens. One being you, and Jadea to assist you and
curb your otherwise violent tendencies. Jadea left without
naming an heiress. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Tribes along
the river have held that blood ties will dictate the heiress.
Even the Thermodonians go by this and they do nothing but
fight," Samsara stated calmly to Medea. She was hoping that
if Medea could not succeed in agitating her, the Queen Regent
would leave her alone and go off grumbling as she always did.
"I'm sick of this. Unless the Highlanders have anything to
say, I will be on my way."
looked on as Samsara turned to leave the stable. Watch out, she
thought. Medea is going to attack you.
that the Queen Regent did. Thankfully Seriana and Karma were out
of the way. Medea jumped on the Goddess, but Samsara's lightning
quick moves enabled her to throw Medea far over and ahead of
her. Medea landed on her side, rolling until she got to her feet
and she jumped in the air, twisting, then back flipping until
she was within a meter of Samsara. She suddenly turned on her
heel again and brought her right leg up behind her to connect
with Samsara's nose. The Heiress crouched down and the Regent
only pushed air. In frustration, the blonde pulled out one of
her daggers from her left side and crouched down, jabbing the
weapon at her enemy.
you realize I can flatten you with one energy blast?"
Samsara cried as she twisted back right from her assault.
MY CHALLENGE!" Medea cried. She threw her left forearm back
to connect again, but Samsara twisted the arm down behind
will do no such thing," she hissed, pushing her away. They
now traded positions. Samsara twirled her staff and stood in a
defense stance, left side poised in front, right foot back, left
hand up before her and staff ready to connect.
you stand ready to fight," Medea said, charging again.
Samsara grabbed her staff with both hands and swung the wooden
weapon until it hit the back of Medea's knees. The Queen Regent
crashed to the ground and Samsara slammed the butt end of her
weapon onto Medea's back. "I stand ready to defend. That's
a heck of a difference."
grit her teeth in pain. She wasn't sure which hurt more: the
back of her knees or her 6th vertebrae.
didn't care. She put her hand in the small of Seriana's back and
steered her out of the stables and into the village. With a
parting look at the Queen she said, "I trust this
conversation is over?"
snarled fiercely as she watched her new co-queen leave. Well,
I challenged the walking power-trip. Jadea, you'd better have a
pretty good explanation waiting for me, I haven't ached like
this since I first started training.
Queen Regent ran a hand through her sweat-dampened spikes. Her
sisters braced themselves for the burning fury they all
recognized flashing behind her icy eyes. When she merely cracked
her back and shook off the defeat, no one was sure what to
think. "Well then ladies, are you going to scurry off to
work like good little Amazons, or do I have to get loud?"
she queried breezily as she leisurely made her way toward her
own horse's stall.
tall elder, suspecting the young woman was going after Samsara,
held out a hand to stop her. Not the smartest move. Medea glared
up at her with a look that clearly displayed how close she was
Medea, it is my advisement that a member of the royal family
under such a circumstance should not-" the aged woman
shut it," Medea spat and pushed past her. The elder,
greatly offended but not surprised, followed her. She stopped,
watching as the Queen picked up a pitchfork. Studying the older
woman, Celosia's sister picked up another and tossed it so it
landed at the elder's feet.
I'm not going anywhere, so you can relax. I'm not that stupid.
However, with the brat and her lazy-ass sister not doing
anything all morning, we're short-handed." The blonde
grimaced and dug her pitch fork deep into the pile of
straw-mottled waste on the floor.
fly settled on her nose and she blew it away testily.
order to be time-efficient a couple of jobs are going to have to
be doubled up. Everyone else is busy working on more important
things right now, and that means I'm going to have to pick up
the difference. However, I also had planned to mull a few things
over with you this afternoon. The obvious solution?" She
half smirked and heaved the load into a nearby wheelbarrow.
up that fork, Elder, we've got things to discuss."
didn't want to, but she had to admit that Ean was starting to
grow on her. His incessant chattering hadn't ceased, but he did
know a lot about the Amazon tribes between here and Ephesus, so
it was nice to hear about her sisters that she'd never met. He
was also an excellent cook, grilling the fish and small game
that Celosia caught with spices he gathered from surrounding
shrubs. And while Celosia really hated to admit it, he was quite
easy on the eyes. He was a head taller than her, broad
shouldered, and muscular, but not obnoxiously so. He had an
engaging smile and a charming manner, and Celosia found herself
smiling back at him more often than she wanted to.
was watching him as he went about cooking the large river trout
Celosia had grabbed from the water earlier. He had removed his
long sleeved shirt, as the fire was quite warm, and his muscles
were jumping and leaping just under his skin as he went about
setting up the spit and grill. While she had grown up among
women, Celosia had encountered many men in her life. Ean was
definitely one of the better specimen of that half.
she muttered under her breath. He looked up at her, the
firelight playing off his features. "Nothing," she
said, waving a hand and standing up. She walked down to the
river and stood facing the rushing water. It was colder down
here, away from the fire and human companionship. She watched
the water as it kicked and tumbled over the rocks worn smooth by
years. Absently, she rubbed her shoulders, trying to ward off
the chill that she was getting.
heard him approaching behind her, felt him drape her blanket
across her shoulders, and watched him as he stood next to her,
staring into the river. "What's going on?" he asked.
sighed. "I don't know. I'm thinking about my tribe. I left
my younger sister in charge, and well... she's a bit of a
temperamental young woman. I did leave instructions for another
sister, an older and more diplomatic one, as co-Queen with her.
It's just that... I wish I could know how they were doing."
Actually, knowing my sister, maybe I don't want to know, she
thought to herself.
nodded. "I know what it's like to be away from your family
and loved ones. I haven't seen my sister in five years."
have you gone so long between seeing her?"
shrugged. "We used to meet twice a year after I left the
Ephesians. But you know, she gets the caste for Queen, starts
training, can't get away..."
sister is Queen," Celosia asked, amazed.
laughed. "Yeah. Surprised that someone I'm related to can
maintain a responsible position?" He nudged her with his
elbow as she rolled her eyes. Suddenly she stood a little
straighter, and the laughter had faded from her face.
"What's wrong?" he asked looking across the river.
bother," she whispered. "It's too late." She spun
and ran up the embankment, Ean following on her heels. As they
reached the top of the bank, they heard splashing sounds, as the
people following them sprinted across the river rocks. Celosia
reached the camp first and grabbed her two short blades and
turned to face whoever was coming after them. Ean grabbed up his
own sword, short seconds before being attacked from the tree
on all sides," he yelled to Celosia, who had just engaged
two cloaked figures rushing her. She swung with one blade,
making them duck, then coming back the other way with her other
blade. Her attackers both thrust their swords toward her, but
she used her own blades to deflect them. By this time there were
too many attackers, and they had already forced Ean's surrender.
he yelled. She sliced the triceps’ of one of her attackers and
faced the direction his shout had come from, only to see him
being held with an arm around his chest and a knife to his
throat. Muttering an oath, she threw down her blades, and was
immediately grabbed from behind. Their attackers were speaking
in a language that was vaguely familiar to Celosia, but before
she could figure out why, she was knocked out from behind.
she came to, her hands and feet were bound and she was in a
wooden cage, Ean stretched out beside her. She shoved off with
her elbow and managed to sit up, and surveyed her surroundings.
They were in the middle of a camp, and people were milling all
around. They went about their business as if there weren't an
Amazon Queen and a strange man in their midst.
caught parts of their conversations.
nak tsini, okt copen nee gred."
poy naya wern."
thought she recognized the language, but she had always liked
learning languages and during her Queen training had learned
many of them. Since she wasn't paying attention, she didn't
notice the people coming into the cage and grabbing Ean until
she heard him stirring and protesting. She turned, and lunged,
throwing herself across his torso and yelling. "LEAVE US
ALONE! WHAT DO YOU WANT WITH US?" Their captors merely
pushed her aside and dragged him out of the cage.
watched in horror as he was hauled over to a platform, where a
figure sat with an ornate headdress on a throne. The figure
stood, and all the people quieted.
nee mana tokna," the figure began. Celosia knew these
words, knew what was going on, but could not remember how or
continued to work on deciphering the language as she watched the
figure pull a gleaming silver dagger out of the folds of its
robe. The figure drew the dagger first in a circle over Ean's
bare chest, then a line down the middle. Raising the dagger to
the sky, asking for an invocation, and then aiming the dagger
straight for Ean's heart, the figure went about the motions of a
oka rayza!" The figure froze in the process of bringing the
dagger down, and Ean opened one closed eye as everyone turned
ancient Amazon. These people must be descendents of Amazons.
"Nee oka rayza. Nee oka ray-tana," Celosia shouted.
I am Amazon. I am Queen.
onka nat vedelen," the figure asked. Celosia was relieved
to hear a woman's voice, asking her what she was doing in their
oka ten nok'tana. Ik too nach medelen," Celosia replied. I
am on a journey. We were just passing through.
woman threw back the folds of her robe, and Celosia saw the tail
of the dragon circling her upper arm. Raising the ornate mask,
the woman's curly red hair cascaded forward. "Chi onka ray-tana,
nekee chi bonda ree?"
am I doing with him? That's a good question. "Kree ika
other woman smiled widely and nodded. As Celosia remembered more
and more of the language, it was no longer foreign to her.
"Kayree, release our visiting Queen and find a hut for her
and her chendo'wen."
stepped away from the cage as the gate was swung open and two
Amazons rushed in to remove the bindings. The leader jumped off
the platform and strode to Celosia. Once the Themiscyran was
outside the confines of the cage, the other woman stuck out her
hand. "I am Tenga, Queen of the Neridian Amazons. I
apologize for your treatment - had we known we had another Queen
in our midst, you would have been treated with the respect you
rubbed her wrists and looked around the camp, as other women
removed their masks. She looked at Tenga, and smiled warmly at
the older woman. Grasping her forearm, she responded "I am
Celosia, Queen of the Themiscyran Amazons. Do you always speak
released Celosia's arm before replying. "No. We use it for
ceremonies such as this. It has been our tradition to use the
language of the ancients the entire day of a Krahn'kee
Are you having trouble with men attacking you then,"
Celosia asked, curiously. She noticed that Ean had been hauled
up behind her, but she paid him no attention.
laughed. "No, not really. We've adapted the ceremony some
from the way it was originally intended. Instead of asking
Artemis to bless us in battle against men, we ask her to bless
us with fertility when mating with them. There is a settlement
of men, half a day's journey down the river, that we Neridians
visit when we need." An Amazon called to Tenga in the
Neridian language. Tenga gestured to Celosia, indicating that
the other Queen should follow her.
have been engaged in skirmishes against a group called the Huns.
Our numbers have dwindled somewhat as a result, and we need to
mate successfully to bring them back up. Ah, here we are, your
hut, Celosia," Tenga said, the Themiscyran name foreign to
her tongue, making it come out differently than is normally
said. "I am sure you want to rest. If there is anything you
need, please, do not hesitate to ask us. We all speak the
language of the ancients, and we apologize deeply for your
paused outside the opening of the tent. "There is no need
to apologize so. I do realize that it was a misunderstanding. I
do however, have one question. Why would you attack us with no
lowered her head, knowing that the Neridians had broken a
cardinal rule, to signal an attack with a bird call so that
other Amazons may know and call out prior to an attack.
"The Huns had learned our calls. We did not know if you
were stragglers or spies of theirs."
nodded. "So you took the risk. I understand. I think I
would have done the same thing had I been in your
situation." She reached back and grabbed Ean by the arm,
and shoved him into the hut. "Thank you, Tenga, for your
hospitality." The Neridian bowed and backed away, and
Celosia entered the hut.
was all that?" Ean asked.
sat down on the slightly raised mattress. "That was the
beginnings of a Krahn’kee, and you were to be the so-called
And by calling out in that weird language, you saved my life. My
hero. Or heroine," he said sitting down next to her. At his
sarcastic crack, she shoved him off the mattress.
weird language happens to be ancient Amazon. I'm sure your
sister would know it," Celosia said.
what did you say?"
said I was an Amazon Queen, that I was on a journey and we were
just passing through the territory," Celosia said, running
her hands along the mattress. The Neridians had stuffed it with
some soft material, and Celosia was quite tired from her journey
and the travails of her journey.
huh and what did you say about me? It had to have been something
good to get me off the hook," Ean crawled back onto the
mattress as Celosia laid down on her side.
you are chendo'wen," she said with a yawn. Ean looked
confused, then leaned backward, so that he was propped up on one
arm and leaning toward Celosia. He reached out to smooth her
hair, but hesitated.
just what is chendo'wen," he asked, trying to get the
foreign word out with the right accent.
laughed sleepily. "Your sister would not be pleased to know
that her brother was another Queen's chendo'wen."
quirked an eyebrow. "Just what is this chendo'wen?"
didn't answer. He gently nudged her. "Hm?"
What is it?"
Celosia answered, curling into a ball and preparing to fall
asleep. "Love slave."
in Themiscyra ...
two sisters returned to their hut. Samsara took Karma into her
arms with a warm smile. Seriana meanwhile, was extremely quiet
still. Samsara looked up at her.
don't know what to say about..." Silver Hawk began.
need to say anything. As far as I'm concerned you are my sister
and closer to me than any other Themiscyran or Teloan. There is
no need to talk about this to anyone. There is no need for them
to know, and I want to use it as leverage against... Ares,"
Samsara nodded and smiled, another devious plan forming in her
was a knock at the door and Seriana opened it to find a tall
elder. "Heiress!" she said. "Preparations for
Karma's naming and casting according to the scrolls on the
Teloans you left are currently underway."
smiled. "Good, good. I would also like to plan Seriana's
stiffened. Casting? But I'm not Samsara's blood...
Teloan dictates, she is a Princess. I would like to be sure that
our Queen knows whom to agitate and whom to leave alone."
Heiress," the Elder was gracious and left the two.
what are you doing?" Seriana hissed. "You heard what
Apollo had to say!"
I did. I'm Jadea's sister... or something. No need to discuss
this further. As far as the Themiscyrans and all the other
Amazons are concerned, you are my blood sister, and as such, you
will be caste with the rites to Queen should I die and Karma not
be old enough to rule. You are Teloan," Samsara's voice was
oddly filled with reason.
for the time I was there..."
by relation as well," the younger reminded her. "Do
you want to accept my charge or do you want to be undefended
against every person who could possibly challenge our relation?
Think of it like this, Seriana, this provides protection for the
both of us. If Medea bothers you, you can issue her a royal
joust. She knows how well you can fight and the only reason she
bugs you now is because you won't fight back since you aren't of
her caste. Now you will be and she will be less likely to do
anything to you. If she's smart she'll go after me
nodded. It was all becoming clear to her now. Things were going
awry without the true Queen.
DEMANDS WHAT?" Medea cried as she stopped in mid-lift of a
load of dry hay. The Elder, relatively young, in fact, was
becoming worried about Medea's increasing "botherablity."
Ceremony of the Caste for her blood sister Seriana by the Teloan
ritual," the woman repeated, this time a bit more quietly.
in the Hades does she think she is?" she asked, laying the
know who she is!" Medea screamed. She caught a glimpse of
said person's mentor approaching. "Fine, fine, get right to
preparations for that lazy-ass Princess of hers. We will
commence when the moon rises."
reached her as soon as the Elder left. "Queen Medea,"
she said softly.
jumped, both at the sincerity of the title and the fact that
Japanese woman stood behind her for a moment before saying a
word. Medea was angry at herself for not noticing the woman
standing by her.
the Goddess, Your Highness. So long as Samsara is satisfied,
there will be no problems." She kept her hands on her hips,
right where her kens -- her single edged swords -- sat in their
peered at her, then nodded. "You're right. Yes, you're
right. If she has what she wants, she won't go after more."
She picked up the fork. "Yes..."
smiled as Medea got back to work. She was slowly working on her.
Making her a better queen.
was almost time for the Ceremony of Caste.
village garden, in grievous condition after all the Majie
excitement, was where Medea found Seriana. She was on her hands
and knees, using a metal digging-stick to remove the weeds from
around the carrots. It was housework, to be done by those out of
favor with the Queen, or as in the older tribes, by captive men.
Still, there she was, her fingernails stuffed with dirt, working
hard and being oblivious as she could to the tension stirring in
you sure you shouldn't assign Garrett to do that,
Highness?" Medea asked.
sat back on her heels. "Your Majesty, as of this moment I
am a warrior, a warrior that was raised as a kitchen-servant.
Someone needs to do the job; I am doing it."
snarled. "That's really irritating, the way when anything
goes wrong you just look at people with those big blue eyes and
ask 'What did I do?', while you send your sister to usurp my
rule. The rule that Queen Celosia entrusted to me. The more
Samsara does, the calmer and sweeter you act. Perfect, pitiable,
helpless, abused little 'orphan'."
smiled, and it was not a very nice smile. "I behave myself
when you are upset because it makes you more upset, and I quite
enjoy watching that."
smiled back. "I hope you do enjoy it, because one of these
days it's going to be the last thing you see."
life belongs to the tribe, for my Queen to dispose of as she
that right," Medea vaulted over the fence and approached
Seriana. The latter put down the digging stick and got a hand on
her dagger. "What's the matter, Warrior? Afraid of
nodded. "I am afraid of you. I'll admit it."
though you are supposedly a Princess?"
word 'supposedly' hit deeper than Medea realized. Seri knew
every drop of blood in her veins, she knew every right it gave
her . . . the right to be called 'Princess of War', the right to
sit in the Olympian Council in her father's place, the right to
take her mother's name as a title added to her own . . . but
there was not a drop of it that declared her an Amazon Princess.
presence proved that Samsara had a point. She needed protection
from Medea; needed to be able to fight her and not be obligated
to lay down her life. If she didn't take her sister's rite of
caste, it would look suspicious to those who would use Samsara's
true birth against her.
though I am a Princess," she decided to say.
her mind, she swore an oath. Artemis, I know what I am and I know what I am not. I am Samsara's
sister, and will be forever, but I am no Amazon Princess. Change
me into a vixen with the hounds on her heels if ever I dare to
challenge Medea, who is rightful Queen, for my own gain. Upon my
life and my humanity I swear I will not. My loyalty and my
responsibilities must come before my hatred.
got up out of the dirt, bowed to the Queen Regent, and returned
to her hut. Her mask, carved as a hawk's head and decorated with
the beads and feathers of an Amazon warrior, lay on her cot.
Queen Ephiny the Second had bestowed it on her, along with the
title of Silver Hawk.
took the mask and went to participate in the ceremony.
in the Celtia Isles were a bit more gruesome.
five hours of arriving in Eire, the Sorceress Empress had taken
the lives of four clan leaders - all of whom were her enemies in
some form or another. She'd also reconciled with a man by the
name of Conor, her old right arm in the days when she commanded
her own legion. The hazel-eyed man greeted Jadea's return with
great pleasure. Because of their renewed allegiance, Conor had
taken the men and marched on the clans belonging to the dead
leaders. Those who opposed his warriors died. The rest were kept
under heavy guard.
good noble General hadn't counted on Jadea having such a force
to back her. When she'd left the Isles, the woman had forced her
men to disband. Obviously, Conor at some point had rallied them
and remained in charge of their activities. Perhaps, he
anticipated that Jadea would one day return.
prowling the lands on four wolf paws, the Sorceress heard word
from Queen Dolphinea through the Twilight Bark. Word through the
royal chain of command was that Samsara Kakistos and Seriana
Silver Hawk had returned to Themiscyra. Word was that Samsara's
new daughter was to receive her name and caste.
sharp pain stabbed into Jadea's heart. You should be there!
This is an important event for your Niece and her babe. You
should be there with your Amazon Sisters! Not trekking after
this ghost from your past!
heart was quite adamant. So persistent with grief and guilt, in
fact, that Jadea decided a quick trip to Themiscyra would be all
right. She'd simply make a discreet appearance and slip out
after the ceremony.
vengeance was not to be denied. No, I cannot. Medea will
surely be upset if I come back and leave again. I must take care
of him first!
ran stealthily across the quiet valley. She felt her heart
racing inside her chest. The unfettered freedom she remembered
knowing so long ago came back to her. As a wolf, her senses were
stronger, but so were her feelings. Soon, her feelings were of
loss. The defeat of the battle she'd fought with this man still
traveled with her, even now. Rumyna, Vorgeen, and Celosia had
helped to ease her pain, to channel her anger and discipline the
use of her powers. But nothing could compensate for the
treasonous act he made against her.
Samsara was born, Jadea lived in Celtia. She had spent her time
uniting many rival clans. Eire had been divided into two
kingdoms with several provinces. The two kingdoms often clashed
as disputes regarding borders and troops, even loyalty, drove
many to despise anyone not from their kingdom. Jadea was one of
the few things that both kingdoms agreed upon. She protected the
Isle from Britannia, who occasionally felt the need to exert
their forces or make an exhibition of how great and powerful
they were. Jadea was the balancing power between both Isles,
reminding them regularly of the common ground, and sea, they
shared. She could make them see that they were neighbors and
would make for better allies than enemies.
had not been Sorceress Empress then, of course, that had been
Rumyna. The Sorceress did not live in Celtia but visited from
time to time to check up on her protégé. During one such
visit, she was unsettled to learn that Jadea had amassed a wide
number of men - men who hunted, men who tracked, and men who
fought. Simply put, Jadea had compiled herself quite the little
why are there troops here? Why are there soldiers in your
command?" Rumyna had asked her gravely.
need them to keep the peace," the young woman had told her
as if it were obvious and logical.
does not create peace, nor does it keep it, Jadea," Rumyna
wolf put it the memory of her mind as she reached the camp where
her men waited. She reverted to her old self in front of them,
reveling in the amazed looks she received. One man quickly came
up to her, placing a clenched fist over his chest.
has sent word that Inishmoor, Kilkenar, and Olrsha have been
smiled, nodding. "Good, good. And what about Lagore?"
man froze at the word. She'd expected no less from any Celt
loyal to her.
put up her hand to stop him. Her lips were curved, marking her
amusement. "Don't worry 'bout it. I know, already."
Jadea's men had lost that battle. Hit by a wave of terror and
shock, Jadea would've committed her men to death had it not been
for the fact that Conor had taken command and called a retreat.
Angus had insured that the order was spread to the men and
immediately carried out.
remembered she’d still been grieving and overwhelmed with rage
at the failed battle, the betrayal and the deaths when she had
been given worse news. A tribe of Amazon women living in the
northernmost region of Eire had been ambushed and not one Amazon
lived; elder, maid nor child. Their animals had been slaughtered
and the meat poisoned.
had reported to her that the Amazons had been too strong and too
wise to have been defeated so easily from the outside. When
asked to explain himself by Conor, Angus had stated that someone
must have tricked the Amazons. Someone they trusted had betrayed
them and murdered them.
one answer presented itself to Jadea – the General. He'd
betrayed her. They would have trusted him, she had thought,
because of me.
reality was far different. They’d known him before he’d led
her army of “peace” and had aided the Amazons in battle
before she’s recruited him. He had been more trusted under her
command because the Amazons trusted her without question, true.
Jadea blamed herself for the deaths of every member of the
Amazon tribe that had been slaughtered. She knew under Amazon
law that she should be punished with death herself. But she was
the only one who had thought so and although she asked the
Amazons to punish her, they refused. That left her to carry out
Amazon justice and she had been determined to do so.
shook herself and returned to thinking about Lagore. In the
present, it was simply land. Enough time had passed that the
ground was no longer soaked with blood. The stench of decaying
corpses had long since dissipated, and the wretched ugliness was
replaced as Nature reclaimed the area. Still, it stood as a
beacon in Jadea’s mind and she knew that it needed to be hers,
as devoid of life as it was.
soon returned by himself. His eyes lightened and his face smiled
to see Jadea. She was just as he remembered her; fierce, strong
and unyielding. "I've just conquered Kaythaia, my
Empress!" He reported as his horse trotted up before her.
smiled with great approval. "Well done, Conor. I trust
ya've told ya're men that they're not to harm the women and
nodded. "Aye, of course. Although, Jadea...some women are
tougher than their men."
I know that. Come down and walk with me."
dismounted and handed the reins to one of his men. Jadea hadn't
formally reclaimed her position as their leader and had no
intention of doing so. Conor led the men and Jadea was happy to
let him be their inspiration and their focal point. As long as
she had control of Conor, the situation was fine with her.
through the camp, Jadea began to feel strong again. She felt the
old urges she used to feel when she commanded her men. Her blood
began to lust for battle, and she found that the more time that
passed the less she fought the feeling. Gradually, the
influences of the Amazons on her motivations were beginning to
unravel. In one brief moment, Jadea saw this with crystal
suddenly felt weakened by the distance between herself and her
Amazon Queens. Vorgeen had departed so suddenly and soon after,
Celosia had chosen to leave. Dolphinea was miles off in the
Highlands. Queen Medea was in Themiscyra and the Sorceress had
left abruptly with little explanation, so Jadea was sure the
woman would welcome a visit. There were Amazon tribes here in
Eire, but Jadea had not been to see them in so long that she was
uncertain of what welcome, if any, she might receive.
in all, Jadea felt isolated from the Amazons. And while the
return to her old life instilled a new kind of strength and
passion in her, the longing for her Amazons ate away at her. She
needed to go back, if only to cure the hunger she had. Perhaps,
she thought, a “snack” would suffice.
ever astute to the moods of his commander, felt the shift of her
mood. "Somethin' stirs ya, aye?"
a deep breath, Jadea replied, "I'm leavin' for a quick
Sorceress had her doubts about returning to Themiscyra so soon
after she'd left. The part of her that most desired revenge
believed that if she went back to Themiscyra before completing
her plan in Celtia, even for a short while, she would not have
the strength to let leave again.
Celt, who stood an inch or so taller than she, noticed the
reluctance in her voice. She wanted to go, but she didn’t want
to go. He didn’t want her to go, so he asked, "what
a matter to attend to," she answered. "Someone needs
me." Jadea cleared her throat to stop the eruption of
emotions she sensed were coming. "I want ya to kill the men
of the villages we've taken after I'm gone. Take the women to
the eastern Amazon tribe."
nodded. He seldom if ever questioned Jadea on her orders.
Generally, he understood them and her reason for giving them.
Yet, whenever he did not - or the few times he disagreed with
her - Conor could always tactfully voice his concerns. "And
thah wee ones?"
gurls go with 'em." She answered, keeping her eyes straight
forward. Jadea felt the look he was giving her.
opened his mouth as though he might say something. He wasn't
sure, though, if he wanted to inquire or state something.
Finally, he asked her the question she knew he would. "And
what about thah boys?"
boys go to 'im. Leave them in their villages. He'll soon sweep
through with his men when word reaches of what's done. Any boy
of fightin' age is tah be killed. Understood?" Conor
faltered, which caused Jadea to stop walking. She looked at him
nodded upon seeing that she meant her words. In Celtia, a boy of
"fightin' age" need only be seven. Generally, a lad
began his training at seven years of age. Even those who farmed
were taught some fighting skills. The men were taught to protect
their clans, their mates, and their land. There was no excuse
for a man who did not.
Empress," he said. He grew silent, though as they resumed
began to fear Jadea's intentions. The killing of children had
always been one of the absolute lines that Jadea had refused to
cross, even in her darkest days. While he understood that if the
lads lived they'd only grow up to hate her and become her enemy,
he knew this was not Jadea’s way. Asking him to kill children
worried him beyond measure.
a few minutes, Conor asked her when she planned to return. He
had concerns about her absence, since the General already knew
she was in Eire. "Soon. If three days pass and I am not
back, I want ya to take the men and flee to the Highlands. Send
word to Queen Dolphinea before you arrive. I want her to know
that you're not moving against her."
Conor was not shaken before, he certainly was now. "Flee to
the Highlands? Hide among the Amazons with Queen Dolphinea?
Jadea, we cannot evade this war we’ve started!"
stopped short and turned to him. "I've no bloody intention
of evadin' this, Conor! I know full well what I must do!"
Her voice rose angrily, and many of the men stared.
was first to notice they had an audience. He looked at her with
sudden calmness. "Aye, aye...all right, then." His
voice was soft. For an instant, he sounded like Angus.
Sorceress Empress shook her head, appearing apologetic. Her
outburst was a clear sign that she was not her usual self. One
of the virtues Jadea'd prided herself on was her ability to
remain calm in front of her men. No matter the grief brought on
by casualties or the frustration when trying to outguess and
outmaneuver the opponent could shatter her outward appearance.
This allowed her men to draw from her strength and find support
in the way she handled herself.
told him, "I don't want him goin' after ya without me here
is all. He shan't e'en know I've left, Conor, but I want you
safe until I get back to you and the men."
could tell she wouldn’t be swayed, but he was satisfied that
she wasn’t asking him or his men to cut and hide. He nodded to
show he understood and they resumed walking.
mind went to Celosia for a moment, but she quickly turned it.
While she wanted news of the Queen, to send her any kind of
thought would deplete her powers and reveal her location to the
man she hunted. She didn’t dare even think of her friend.
will you leave?" Conor's voice cut through Jadea's
time like thah present," she replied and noticed the
immediate expression on his face. He’d been hoping to change
her mind in the coming days. Her head tilted to one side
slightly, a smile curving her lips. "Ya'll see that my
orders are obeyed?" He nodded.
then," she said and turned to go.
her she heard the commander call out, "Safe journey!"
arrived in Themiscyra without arousing attention. She wanted to
be at the ceremony and to attempt to conceal herself was
ludicrous with that in mind. Still, the woman planned to reveal
her presence to a select few, chiefly Queen Regent Medea.
it happened, the Themiscyran sorceress appeared just in time.
moment Jadea was on Themiscyra ground, Ardra knew of it. As
guardian hawk, Ardra could sense Jadea as naturally as one
breathes. She immediately drew attention away from Jadea's
position, hearing her intent to remain hidden from most of the
tribe. Squalling rather noisily, Ardra lead the Amazons toward
the ceremonial grounds.
the Sorceress sent to the Queen Regent before approaching
her. The woman was alone, but Jadea hadn't wanted to scare Medea
with her presence.
Queen Regent blinked in disbelief. Her eyes narrowed as she
prepared to launch into a tirade with the Sorceress Empress. She
was seconds away from spilling out every complaint she had; from
the way Jadea had left her and tramped off to some Artemis
forsaken land to the goddess bitch and her goody-two-shoes
Jadea was quick. With a swift motion of her hand and fingers she
made Medea unable to speak. Medea launched into her discussion
at the very top of her voice only to find that not a sound
issued from her mouth. Her eyes widened with shock as her face
contorted in anger at what had been done to her.
Wait, please just listen, Queen Medea," Jadea pleaded
quietly. Though no Amazons were nearby to hear her, she was
paranoid of being found out. If word spread that she was back,
there'd be no way she could leave again. “Medea," Jadea
said sternly. The Queen made obscene gestures and looks at her,
her only method of communication. "Me-Medea will you stop
it? I've come back for the ceremony."
Queen Regent rolled her eyes, her arms again conveying much of
what she couldn't say aloud. Jadea was also catching most of the
Queen's thoughts. They went something like this: Oh, how
GRACIOUS of you to come back for that little BRAT'S CEREMONY!
Have you ANY IDEA what that woman has done? Hades no! How could
you! I mean you don't even care! NO! You just go abandoning your
duties here to traipse across the land for islands unknown!
I also came back to help you." Jadea's voice was solemn,
her eyes showing Medea that she meant her words. The Queen
motioned to ask Jadea to give her voice back.
you promise not to scream or reveal that I'm here?"
nodded and Jadea reversed the spell. The Queen Regent looked at
her silently for a moment. "You're not staying, are
wish I could," the sorceress replied, glancing at the
ground. She was feeling deep guilt coming at her from all
angles. By simply being here at all, she felt she was going back
on her deal with Ishtar. Jadea also felt guilty for leaving
Conor behind to deal with the trouble she'd started. And Jadea
felt extremely ashamed for coming back home knowing that she was
only going to leave once the ceremony ended.
didn't say anything right away. Despite her fighting it, the
woman was gradually becoming more and more the Queen her sister
had wanted her to be. Medea was learning to try to understand
the motivations of others. As Regent, she hadn’t cared that
she didn’t care enough to try. "You came because you know
about Kakistos and Seriana, don’t you?"
didn't answer, but she nodded.
how did that horse get wings?" Medea asked. She followed it
with a long list of other questions she had. "Why the Hades
wouldn't Samsara fight me? Where have you been and in the name
of the gods, when are you coming back?"
the Queen paused to take a breath before her next question,
Jadea shook her head, raised her hand, and interrupted.
"Queen Medea, stop. Listen, I understand you have
questions. I understand you don't like this. I . . ."
I detest this!" Medea corrected.
you detest it. So do I, believe me. Had I done what I should've
when I had it to do, I'd not be faced with it now. Rest assured
that when I am finished in Britannia, I will be back."
if Samsara claims the throne," Medea shot in.
lifted her eyebrow but quickly shook her head. "Sami won't.
Now, will you join me in going to the ceremony?" Medea gave
her a look that she could easily decipher. "We'll talk in
private afterward. You have my word."
Jadea's word that she'd not leave until speaking to her, Medea
nodded and the two headed toward the gathering. The Queen was
quick to notice that nobody other than her could see Jadea. She
also noticed that Jadea's steps were light and that the
Sorceress made no noise.
she didn't count on, however, was her Niece's ability to sense
observed from a high seat. She remained quiet, knowing that
Jadea would send her thoughts if she wished. To ensure that she
did not give away Jadea's position, Ardra avoided looking at her
Mistress. Still, she kept an eye on her.
feeling in Themiscyra was far different from what Jadea felt in
Eire or Britannia or any Isle of Celtia. It filled her inside as
the Amazon spirit often did. Words cannot do justice to how she
felt as she heard one of her Sisters laugh, or the pride as she
heard fighting at the Training Ground. The atmosphere was
strong, and to an outsider it was intimidating and dangerous; to
Jadea, it was home.
pendant had turned the hue of a gentle cream. Her mood was
tranquil and solemn. Yet, she felt a sense of pride for her
Sisters. And tonight, even more so for Samsara and Karma. She
knew she’d made the right choice to come.
would be more difficult than facing down the Majie. For how do
you fight those you love?
as Karma was receiving her name and all the rights and
privileges that came with, the pendant belonging to the
Sorceress Empress glowed with fire. She attempted to conceal it
by placing her hand over it, but she was too late. The light had
caught Samsara's eye. She stood on the platform looking as
frozen as a deer hearing a hunter in the wood.
Seriana whispered softly. The Goddess didn't answer.
know you're here, Jadea, she thought as her eyes focused on
the area the light had come from.
watching looked from the platform to Queen Medea’s side and
back again with curious confusion.
no you don't you wretched fool! If you blow this, Jadea will
bolt! I know it! Medea reacted quickly and stepped into
Samsara's line of vision.
young Goddess lifted an eyebrow with suspicion in her eyes.
Queen Medea played off the awkwardness with nonchalance. As she
turned toward the gathering, Samsara looked again in the same
spot as before. She was met with disappointment. Internally,
Queen Medea sighed with relief to find that Jadea had both moved
herself and brought her cloak around to cover the crystal's
of Themiscyra! I present to you-"
Samsara yelled suddenly, pronouncing each syllable with the
sharpest precision. Her daughter remained quiet, but awake.
though none of the Amazons in Themiscyra held the knowledge of
how to summon the Sorceress Empress, they didn't have to this
time. Jadea appeared to the far left, set off from the others.
She walked slowly towards them and heard the widespread gasp
beat singularly within her.
emotions were had by all. Some were too stunned for words while
others made quiet remarks, like "Artemis has safely
returned her." As for the Queen Regent of the tribe, she
closed her eyes and shook her head. No, no, no, no,
no...no...no...ugh! Medea opened her eyes and looked from
Jadea to Samsara.
the audience, Antigone exchanged looks with Valkyra. The two
began to move through their Sisters toward the platform.
Goddess held her child in her arms. Her expression was
distraught but grim. She was not sure which emotion she wished
to dominate her - her relief for her Aunt's return, or her anger
for her Aunt leaving and not informing them that she was coming
stood to her left. She was surprised to be handed Karma as
Samsara stepped down and prepared to confront Jadea. Medea was
on her heels, and Valkyra soon stood near her Queen. As Samsara
reached Jadea, Medea reached Samsara, and Valkyra reached Medea.
meanwhile, swiftly made it to Jadea's left side. The Sorceress
Empress appeared awfully calm for one so obviously caught being
sneaky. Yet the Huntress knew that the Sorceress’ mood could
change in a flash. She'd noticed before how she seemed able to
assuage Jadea's temper so she stepped close in case she were
fear was that if Samsara did or said anything to alarm Jadea,
then the Sorceress would immediately leave. She’d made it
clear to Medea that she'd left the Isles abruptly to attend the
ceremony. This implied to her that Jadea had yet to conclude
whatever business she had there.
was concerned that Queen Medea might lose control of her temper
and do something she'd regret. Such as beating the pulp out of
stood on the platform, holding the babe in arms protectively.
She felt torn between the safety of the child and defending her
Sister. Knowing that Samsara would want her to protect Karma
from any fighting, the Silver Hawk stayed put.
shut up! Shut the Hades up!" Samsara snapped sharply.
Jadea said softly but stopped herself.
Goddess took her eyes off her Aunt to turn halfway and look at
the Queen Regent. "You knew she was here? By the gods, you
did! You knew she was here! How long as she been here, huh? Tell
me!" Samsara was livid. It had been painful enough thinking
that her Aunt and Queen Celosia both were going to miss an
important event in her life. To find out that her Aunt had
returned to be there but had no intention of telling her? That
was beyond acceptable.
watched the Queen Regent closely, ready to intervene on a given
moment. Antigone, too, readily stood to halt them. The High
Princess, the Queen Regent and the Sorceress stood glaring at
last, Jadea snapped. "
RIGHT THAT'S ENOUGH!" Even the Amazons a hundred feet away
jumped. Jadea's anger could rival Medea's own at times. This
became clear each time she lost her cool. "Samsara, yes
Medea knew I was here. I told her not to tell any of you."
paused to take a breath, during which Samsara seized the
opportunity to say, "But why?"
not even supposed to be here," Jadea's expression began to
soften when she saw that Samsara looked ready to cry. Her Niece
had just realized that Jadea intended to leave again. What tore
at the Sorceress was knowing that she'd wanted to be present for
this special Amazon rite, but her good intentions had only upset
the whole event.
course, Jadea had also wanted to speak privately with Queen
Medea. She knew Samsara was giving Medea trouble, and Jadea had
planned to handle it for good.
came only to see Karma initiated into our tribe," Jadea
you're not," Samsara's voice cracked in the silence.
"Then you're not staying?"
shook her head and stepped forward. She offered her hand to her
Niece, and Samsara took it. The Sorceress pulled the woman to
her and gave her a hug. Antigone and Valkyra looked at each
other, each smiling a bit. For as sorrowful as it was, the scene
was also warming to the soul.
Goddess pushed back away just a bit. Jadea saw that Samsara had
successfully fought her tears but didn't think she could much
now, Medea had been quiet. "May we proceed with the
ceremony, or are you two going to hold the rest of us up all
chuckled, looking over Samsara's shoulder at the Queen, and
nodded. "Yes, yes. Let's continue. Artemis knows it's
walked into the crowd of her Sisters and many of them clasped
her hand and patted her shoulder while making comments and
welcoming. All were silenced as Queen Regent Medea cleared her
flew down and landed gracefully on her Mistress' arm. Jadea
brought her arm toward her, stroking the hawk's feathers. You
missed me too, huh?
bird gave her attention to those on the platform, particularly
to the child. She was barely heard when she answered, you've
mid-morning, the Sorceress Empress left Themiscyra. She would
leave behind three promises:
first was to return as soon as her affairs in Britannia were
second was to resume her role as co-Queen, despite her absence.
Samsara objected to this, but she had little vote. The tribal
Elders and Queen Regent Medea agreed only to recognize Jadea as
the sole co-ruler.
third was harder for Jadea, but there was little choice. The
Themiscyran Queen Regent would be able to communicate with Jadea
anytime she wished. This would force Jadea to use much of her
power in order to keep link open with Medea, but the cause was
worth it. Keeping the link open would allow the Sorceress to
hear any thoughts Medea sent to her provided that the Queen had
the emerald with her at the time. After talking with some of her
Sisters who also held knowledge of magic, Jadea decided that
using a combination of the Twilight Bark in addition to her own
sorcery would lessen the degree of power drain.
she left, the Amazon Sorceress also spoke with Medea in private
as she'd earlier promised to.
not going to say that the camp is falling apart. It's not!"
nodded, watching Medea pace back and forth while talking.
just that . . ." Celosia's sister stopped and looked at her
audience. "When you were here, things weren't so tense.
Samsara didn't get in my way. Seriana was more respectful. I
didn't have to look at that blasted Garrett!"
Sorceress seemed more amused than she expected to be. This was
as close as Medea would come to admitting she needed Jadea
around. She refrained from saying so and instead said,
"Medea, I will return. I'd not have left if I thought you
weren’t capable enough to run things."
I'm incapable?" Medea asked, taking the sentence out of
you're not. You're simply learning. And you'll continue to learn
until you die. No Amazon Queen ever reaches a point where she
knows all, feels all, and is all."
looked away, appearing to be uncomfortable. "You know,
you're starting to sound like Celosia."
chuckled. "I take it as a compliment." Her eyes
sparkled for a moment before the glitter faded. She'd just let
herself think about Celosia a second too long. Jadea missed the
woman deeply. Celosia was the one Amazon to remind her of Rumyna
the most. She rose to her feet just as Medea looked at her
again. For a minute, neither seemed to say anything. At last,
though, Jadea had to speak. "I must go. I've spoken to
Samsara, and she's agreed to respect your authority on the
condition that you do the same."
Queen Regent stiffened with a growl. "Hey, who wanted who
to challenge who, anyway?"
Jadea'd understood her even if no one else could have.
"Just don't pick a fight with her. I suspect there's a
deeper reason for her behavior than just Karma."
yeah? Like what? Tainted blood?" She quipped sarcastically.
Her words affected Jadea who grew eerily quiet and cold. "I
didn't mean that," the Queen replied. Her co-ruler shook
her head. "It doesn’t matter. I must go now. Keep things
as peaceful as you can. I don’t think I’ll be away
her final word, Jadea was gone. She did an unusual thing by
teleporting directly to Eire. Such a task would weary even the
strongest magician. She sought sanctity in the same cave as
before. The privacy allowed her to weep, an act she'd not often
done in life. The last time had been at the "death" of
did the sorceress a lifetime of good. She was soon in Conor's
encampment. The men were relieved to see her as she walked
through and looked each in his eyes.
A shout came from the far end of camp. The warning was soon
followed by another in the ancient Erin tongue. The voice
belonged to Conor himself. He trotted quickly through the ranks
of men, stopping short in front of his Empress.
timin', Empress. I've good news for ya! Thah General sent his
eyes set with a tight suspicion. The warrior woman had
anticipated this course of action, but it nonetheless displeased
her. She watched as Conor dismounted and stepped up to her. He
handed her a rolled parchment.
Amazon needed only to glance at the script to know the writer
was the General. He confirmed knowledge of what she'd done and
requested to meet with her alone under a flag of truce. To
ensure that no treachery could be done by either side, he
offered that the two meet on neutral ground at a fairy circle.
stated that any mortal who stepped within the circle of fairy
stones would become unable to move from the spot. It also was
said that that any two enemies who stepped inside at the same
time would not be paralyzed, but would be able to reach
compromise without threat from the other.
are ya goin'?" Conor asked upon seeing that Jadea was
a trick," she stated.
scoffed and nodded. "Aye, bloody sure! But are ya goin'?"
He asked, seeming to disregard the knowledge that it was a
shook her head a little. "I don't know. I've given me word
that I'll end this quickly," she seemed to be speaking to
doubt, her commander wished to use the truce as a way to lure
the General's men out and straight into an ambush. Jadea was not
as eager for this.
had once told her that the hardest thing to overcome is often
the situation we least expect to be. She was, naturally,
referring to those events in life we think we can handle but
find are more strenuous or formidable than we first expected.
Jadea hadn’t ever believed that facing her past love would be
a breeze. She had known that the trial would be as much of the
heart as it was of the mind. As determined as her mind was set
upon revenge, her heart tended to waver every so often with the
issue of him.
Jadea snapped out of whatever trance she appeared to be in. Her
head came up as she looked at Conor. "What of my order
before I left?" She inquired, having realized that no
report of them had been given.
were followed, my Empress," Conor bowed his head. "The
women were given ta thah Amazons with their daughters. The lads
were killed. I oversaw their executions personally."
Sorceress Empress nodded with satisfaction. "Good. Now
assemble ev'ry last soldier and march them north. I'll meet with
ya in one hour, do ya hear?"
Empress," Conor nodded. Jadea turned from him and began to
walk away. Conor called out. "How far north?"
turning around to answer, Jadea shouted, "When ya reach
watched the back of the woman who strode further and further
away. Her plan suddenly blindsided the Celt. Jadea
meant to re-create the Battle at Lagore. Only, she planned to
re-invent it in such a way that the results were different.
realization terrified Conor to no end. He couldn't summon the
nerve to betray Jadea, but his fear that her methods would get
her killed almost overwhelmed him. It was madness…but a
madness he would see through to the end.
sorceress did not send a message back to the General. She
scurried across the lush grass as a fox. Like her Sister,
Thalia, Jadea enjoyed living as various creatures and animals.
One's scope of life, their senses...all were quite different in
quickly morphed herself into a wolf, her fur a deep gray. Jadea
brought her nose up and sniffed several times. On the last, she
caught his unmistakable scent. A stray thought entered her mind.
wonder how many of my Sisters would understand what I am doing?
The unseemliness as well as the matter of the thought surprised
Jadea. She chided herself for the distraction.
watched the General ride alone on his chocolate brown horse. He
scanned the vicinity with a strange concentration. Lookin'
for me, are ya? Jadea snickered in her mind.
impeccable timing as only an Amazon Queen could have, Medea
chose this particular moment to contact her co-ruler. Jadea,
your Niece just slapped an Amazon for touching her horse. I hate
to sound like a tattle-tale, but I can't have her abusing my
Amazons and undermining my authority!
was that Medea didn't sound like a tattle-tale to Jadea.
But her timing could have been so much better. Let no one
near Prince besides Samsara. Tell Samsara that you'll post two
Amazon guards if she apologizes to the woman she hit. She'll
agree because she has reason to want Prince safe.
out of the gods' hands, Jadea added, but Medea didn't hear
this thought. The Themiscyran Queen heard the irritation in
Jadea's tone. She didn't argue or respond, so Jadea took that as
a good sign.
Amazon reverted to her human form, but cloaked herself from
human sight. She walked straight toward the man as he
the General could not see her, he felt her eyes watching him.
His head turned, eyes again scanning around. Jadea froze in her
tracks. For but a flash in time, she thought he'd spotted her as
his eyes came in direct line with her own. Her heart pounded so
loud that she feared he would hear and be able to discern where
she stood. He did not. Instead, he tied his reigns to secure the
mount he rode. Looking up once more, he moved toward the fairy
appeared, but her voice first startled him.
be a mistake," she warned ominously. Strange how she'd just
saved him from falling under the spell of the fairies. He'd been
all of one step from inside the circle.
blue eyes held her in a strong embrace. They'd always had power,
for her, but the days where the magic of those eyes could
paralyze and enchant her were gone. She broke the gaze and
walked a bit further.
came," the man said softly.
knew I would," she replied, stopping.
eyes fell to the ground. The man did not hold as much anger as
she did. The Celt forced himself to look at her. "I trust
ya wish to speak?"
wish tah kill ya, Bruce."
man's eyes flinched while his heart stopped. Both resumed their
natural function soon, however.
years since ya've called me that," he commented and sounded
half-amused and half-somber.
years since I've called ya," Jadea quipped back. Her words
stung him...as they meant to, perhaps. She began to walk to her
left but still forward toward the fairy ring. His eyes moved
with her. She reached the edge of the stones and looked at him
must trust me to have left your men," he raised his voice
some to compensate for the distance. Also, he perhaps meant to
instill emphasis this way.
I don't trust ya as far as I can spit," she countered while
meeting his gaze.
of the man wanted to smile, for she looked so sincere but her
voice had held a bit of playfulness. He made no such expression.
"Then why have you come?" He asked, his Highland
accent invading his words.
ya afraid to step inside thah stones, Bruce?"
was the second time she'd used that name. To her, it sounded
foreign on her tongue. To him, it sounded foreign only for the
tone she used to speak it - so icy and full of contempt.
more than you," he answered in turn. Getting his cue from
Jadea, he placed his right foot inside in time with hers. Both
hesitated briefly before walking further inside.
size of the ring was roughly equivalent to ten paces long and
ten paces wide. It was neither a small nor a large circle in
which to be trapped together.
destroyed those villages, killed their clan leaders," he
stated rather pointedly.
Jadea answered, then responded, "Ya wiped out an entire
tribe of women, murdered their children, slaughtered their
livestock, and left not a single soul alive." Her tone
matched the one he used to declare what she had done.
was years ago," Bruce remarked.
sooner had he done so than Jadea yelled sharply, "It was done!
You gave the order! You lead the attack! You were supposed to be
dead! You betrayed me!" With every accusation, every word,
Jadea's voice rose and her vehemence heated.
that gives ya the right to kill those men? And what about thah
lads, Jade? What about the la-"
ABOUT THEM? They'd grow up to become like their fathers - like
you! A pack of lyin', manipulative, evil bastards! What, did ya
hope that they'd finish off the Amazons? Is that why their
deaths vex ya so?" She questioned him coldly, neither
caring for the answer nor really believing it was the answer.
Jadea had not come to do this, really. She was simply giving
such a harshness such as Jadea'd not heard from him in many
years, the Celt commented disgustedly, "I don't even know
the remark hurt, Jadea agreed. "That's thah first honest
thing ya've said since ya entered my camp. Ya remember that day,
don't ya Bruce?" Her eyes narrowed while she watched
him shift his weight uncomfortably. Jadea made a kind of
pleasing noise that he'd not heard before. "Aye, I knew ya
did. Poetic, was it not? Ya die in battle, betray me, wipe out
me Sisters, and then walk into my camp unarmed. Know how many
Amazons wanted to bleed ya dry, Bruce?"
the man faltered to the impact of her words. She seemed to gain
pleasure from watching him feel uneasy. "Ev'ry one of 'em.
Seven years, and still not a single Amazon wanted ya tah live.
Ach, but ya were such the bloody Thespian, Bruce! Half my camp
wanted to tear ya limb from limb, the other half wanted to watch
me do it. And ya played the part of the nobleman who'd wronged
but now sought salvation and atonement!"
Sorceress Empress was undoubtedly on a roll. So, 'tis no wonder
that at this exact moment, Jadea got the very last thing she
expected - word from Celosia.
if you can hear me...I want you to know that I am safe. I have a
traveling companion by the name of Ean. Not sure how long I'll
let him trek with me on my journey, but worry not Sorceress
Empress - he's a good soul, I think. Please give my deepest love
to the tribe, and update me soon on my sister. Since I've not
yet caught sight of Ardra, I trust that all is well in
Themiscyra. This gives my heart tremendous relief. Be well, my
Celosia's voice faded from her mind, Jadea became aware that the
man could see the change of her state. He said nothing, though.
For this, the Amazon was grateful. It would not do at all for
her to look weak or vulnerable in front of him.
was a mistake," she said, turning to step out of the fairy
ring. If her foot crossed over while he remained inside, the
Celt would be frozen in place. Jadea stopped suddenly.
betraying you was a mistake. It is one I pay each day, and will
until I die - perhaps even after that," he said sincerely.
As he spoke he was aware of his feelings for her. Her
destruction of the four villages and the murders of the boys
angered him beyond words, But the simple truth remained that he
could see a glimmer of the woman he'd fallen in love with.
can't change what ya've done with words," she said, her
back to him.
but I can stop you from followin' my path," Bruce responded
earnestly. He got her to turn around again and meet his eyes.
her head, Jadea stated, "You're too late for that."
her tone, her eyes, or her current demeanor was responsible,
something alerted the General and he quickly turned for his
horse. Strangely, when he stepped out of the fairy ring and
leapt onto his horse, no spell formed to paralyze Jadea. Perhaps
her own magic helped to counter any enchantments incurred on
trespassers of fairy circles. In any case, she stood where she
was and watched him gallop away as if Tartarus were on his
he was gone from view, Jadea vanished and reappeared beside
Conor on the outskirts of Lagore.
I wish ya wouldn't do that!" He exclaimed suddenly caught
by her appearance. Jadea chuckled and looked into the distance.
remember ya never did like me to pop in and out of camp."
Humor poured out of her voice despite her recent engagement.
but ya always did," Conor laughed slightly with her. "Why
always keep your men on their toes, Conor. A warrior with his
guard down will get 'imself or his comrades killed," she
answered and turned her head.
many do we number?" Jadea asked, fearing she lacked the
number she once commanded.
a hundred and fifty men."
she asked. Jadea concealed her relief when she saw Conor shake
but that’s all we can bring here. I've two branches of men on
loan in the Highlands, another legion deeper south, and one band
on the sea."
Sorceress was impressed. Conor commanded quite the army. Her
concern still lay in not knowing if the number of soldiers she
had presently would be enough for victory. Her answer would soon
disappointing her, Bruce's men soon appeared on a low ridge. On
either side of the ridge were two small hills. Behind the hills
were thick woods. Lagore, itself, was compromised of little
flatness and more varying terrain. This was one underlying
factor why Jadea's army had lost the battle.
Jadea asked, her voice rising.
He questioned, concern in his voice.
the men know they will die today?" Her tone was eerily
they all know the risk. Why do ya ask?" He inquired a bit
soon loyalty in your gender will be tested," came her
two watched as Bruce rode ahead of his men straight down and
into the only flatness in the area.
I ride out?" Conor asked.
Jadea said with her eyes locked onto the man still a span or so
away. "He's mine." She whistled and a riderless horse
came toward her. Jadea leapt onto the extraordinary animal while
he still moved, and then charged through the trees into the
her back, Jadea carried her old sword. At her side, the Amazon
had Callisto's blade. She'd no intention of using her sister's
sword this time. Slowing as she came dangerously near Bruce,
Jadea noted that his sword remained sheathed at his side.
don't have tah do this!" He yelled, sounding out of breath.
His eyes were wild, though, a clear sign that he wasn't going to
leave Lagore without a fight. Conor had ambushed a unit of his
men. All of them were dead, their weapons taken and bodies