Julius Caesar lived, yet to half of his army, he was no better
than dead. Two companies of Roman troops occupied a few miles a
mere five spans from Dachus and Samsara's men. The decoy had
worked, compliments of a desperate and angry Zeus.
Sorceress Empress knew that Julius Caesar still breathed and
that he likely had put himself behind the safety of Rome's
walls. She knew his time would come, though. Her patience
dwindled as her mind repeated the haunting date she'd heard in
her dreams - the Ides of March.
Sorceress went to a far corner of Themiscyra, far away from her
Sisters, and opened up a window between two trees. She caught a
glimpse of Ares just as he left Caesar's Palace. Her tongue
cursed him, not for the first time nor the last.
had found an indirect way to meddle with the Amazons, thus
circumventing the promise he'd made Jadea and her Sisters. She
knew that it would vex Queen Medea. "I'd better go tell
her, then," Jadea sighed as the window closed.
came into the room with a smile. "Sami, you look so much
turned from the window slowly. Her mind had wandered to Dachus.
She wanted to keep him from entering her mind, but he was doing
so ever since he was by her side at Jadea's hut. His brown eyes,
brown hair, muscular six-foot tall body. It was enough to make
her swoon. BAH, she thought angrily to herself. I don't need
blinked twice to see her sister dressed in lighter clothes.
"Spring thaw," she said. "Come! Bring Karma with
of course, was wide awake in her crib. Her eyes darted from one
part of the hut to another, out the window and all over wherever
she could see. She was an extremely alert baby. Upon hearing
Seriana's voice, she sat up slowly.
exclaimed Seriana. "By the Gods!"
jerked violently to her daughter, who was making an expected
attempt at rising. Suddenly, she plopped down onto her bottom
and giggled. The Goddess placed a hand onto her mouth in
Oh... GODS! HAHAHA! I guess we are supposed to expect this now,
b-but..." Seriana continued to stammer as a wide smile
played on her face. She rushed to the girl and knelt down by the
crib. Her eyes were wide as Karma attempted the movement again,
only this time, she held onto the railings and hopped up and
down, giggling beautifully.
scooped the babe into her arms and swung around.
"You!" she squealed gleefully. "Oh, you little
angel!" She lifted her into the air and spun her over her
head, both mother and daughter swimming in each other's line of
vision. She stopped and held onto her child tightly. Ser'! Ser',
she stood! She did it twice! We have to tell the village!"
She rushed out the door, her older sister hot on her heels.
first person to see them was Thalia. She was a bit wary of
Samsara since she had aided in letting Zia out. But the Teloan
Queen fixed all that. Two Amazons had followed the pair and had
brought Zia back to camp in the middle of the night. They had
let Octavius go free as he hadn’t been their quarry, and had
taken Zia right back to her cell.
met eyes with the Goddess and understood instantly that Samsara
knew all she had done.
Goddess sent her a message. I won't tell anyone. Just be
careful of what you do and for whom you do it.
that moment, Mariko met with the three. The Eastern Woman had
been taking her time to win over the Themiscyrans. Although
there were still some that avoided her, others had taken to her.
Valkyra, for one, trained with the warrior when she could,
learning more secrets of a Weapons Master.
Mariko said. They shrugged, then followed, wondering what the
woman had in mind. Thalia was left confused.
reached the stables. "Now, your Queen has left you with an
order to remain within camp, however, I want you to ride your
horses. A race, if you will. More of a celebration of your
newfound health, Athanase." Outside the stables were many
Amazons, most of which had taken a break from the day's chores
to watch the race; Deinus, Seriana's war horse, versus Prince,
Samsara's magnificent Pegasus.
leaned toward her protégé. "You can tell them your news
of Karma standing once the race is over."
Mariko knew no one would ask, but Samsara beamed with pride and
joy as she handed the child to her mentor and mounted her steed.
issued the final instructions for the race, “Thrice around the
camp with the finish here at the stable.”
Amazons watching began to wager as to the results. Most were
placing their bets on Prince since he was now a horse of the
Seriana tried to steady her restless Deinus, she said to
Samsara, “Now remember, Sister, no magic; let the beasts do as
they will and on the ground only.”
need no magic to beat you, dear Sister!” replied Samsara as
she relished her renewed state of good health.
gave the signal and the contest was on. The two horses sprang
into action with nearly the force of a just-released arrow. They
bolted forward letting go of all their pent-up energy. To the
Amazons watching, the horses were all but a blur. Within mere
seconds it seemed that the first trip around the camp was
completed. The shouts from the other Amazons spurred Seriana and
Samsara on. As the two riders vied for the inside at the turns,
they kept their steeds only a sword blade’s width apart.
Samsara and Seriana did not look to one another, but they could
each feel the trespassing nearness of the other. The second
journey around the encampment was now over and the third and
last was on. As the riders passed the swelling crowd of cheering
Amazons, the smell of horse sweat was nearly overwhelming.
Samsara and Seriana prodded the foaming animals to go faster.
The last gallop to the finish line was neck in neck at first,
but soon Deinus was outpacing Prince. The added friction of air
on the Pegasus’s folded-up wings was at last becoming evident.
By half a horse length Deinus quickly carried Seriana across the
she lost the race, Samsara did not care, for she was feeling too
good to be disappointed. She knew that Prince needed to fly and
so did she. She urged Prince to unfold his wings and take to the
sky. Mariko thought that may have been a foolish thing to do.
knew Mariko didn't approve of her doing so, but she wanted her
horse to fly. And fly he did around the perimeter of the camp
and back. Although after a short flight, she coaxed her horse
down. After landing, she looked at her sister and shouted:
accepted. Again they mounted their horses, ready for a different
race. Maybe Deinus has the endurance over Prince now but did he
have the power to defeat the horse in the short distance?
sisters mounted their horses and looked at each other with a
the celebration will continue," Samsara responded.
"I'm going hunting later today for a feast. Wanna
smiled. "Let's see if you'll still want to, once I'm
through with you and your Pegasus," she responded.
permeated the air.
fighting words, you know," her younger sister remarked.
"Let's see, do you want salt or Valkyra's cayenne pepper to
garnish them when I feed them to you?"
was heard throughout the crowd. Seriana smiled. They may not be
blood, but they will always be sisters in her eyes. Samsara felt
the same way.
turned to Pike. "Let Zia out to watch. I think she needs to
build relations with the rest of us."
about Queen Me-"
Medea can..." the Goddess began, then curbing her tongue.
"Our most esteemed will agree with me that perhaps the girl
needs some air. Bring her out here at once and give her a front
seat so we can start this race!"
change in Samsara's demeanor was apparent. Ever since Karma came
to the camp a month and a half earlier, the Goddess Kakistos of
Destruction was calmer, wiser, and stronger. It was also
Mariko's training that helped greatly in Samsara's growth.
Everyone could see that she had missed her mentor greatly, even
if she had never spoken of her before.
was brought out and kept under surveillance of two guards. They
stepped to the front and when the Teloan Queen Empress was
pleased, the race began.
officiated the competition. She raised her hand and whistled,
bringing her hand down roughly to start the race. Samsara and
Seriana charged down the straightaway toward a red flag that
hung down from a tree. The object was to snatch the flag before
your opponent and return to the starting line.
hair flowed far behind her ponytail as she raced her sister.
Seriana's clothes flapped in the breeze as they both kept neck
and neck. This was more a race of the horses' pride than anyone
watched them race and thought about Caesar. She was still under
the impression that she had killed him, a stomach churning
thought. She wondered why there was little celebration in camp
about Caesar's death. You'd think that the Amazons would dance
on his rotting Roman corpse.
then it hit her. I didn't kill Caesar, did I? She shook her head
and looked at Samsara, whom she remembered from somewhere. It
makes so much sense to me now. So much sense! He would NEVER
trust anyone that much. Ever! She looked at Samsara, who held
the red flag up in the air with her right hand, Prince's hooves
thundering onto the ground. Seriana was close behind, laughing.
Then it dawned on her: Samsara reminded her of a masked warrior
who raided a village on the outskirts of Rome, closer to Gaul.
An Amazon-type warrior who rode with a staff or sword in her
right hand, high in the air.
won the race by a hair. They both dismounted. "You were
lucky, you know," Seriana said, breathing hard.
laughed. "It's all about those two inches of reach I have
on you. Otherwise, anyone could have gotten it." She smiled
greatly. Samsara was taller than her sister by an inch.
"Valkyra! What's next?"
Weapon's Master threw her royal staff. "How about a match
with staffs? Show us what you've learned. Have we any volunteers
to joust against Samsara?"
stepped up. "I!" she shouted, determined to prove her
cocked her head. "Looking for your Amazon colors early, I
am an Amazon," she responded in her Roman inflection.
Goddess Kakistos merely laughed. "That title must be
earned, child, and you have yet to do so." Valkyra tossed
the Roman a staff. "Let's see how you hold up against
me." She stood in a defensive stance, ready to bait Zia in.
in the Amazon Roman went. They fought hard and fast. Zia spun
around and attempted to knock Athanase's knees from under her,
but Samsara jumped high up in the air and flipped over Zia
quickly, knocking her staff out of position. Zia faltered and
immediately went for Samsara's head as she was turned around.
Samsara instinctively bent forward and kicked behind her,
bringing her leg up to Zia's ribcage.
connected, sending Zia down onto the ground. Cheers were heard
and words of encouragement for the younger and newer Amazon
hovered over the din. With a newfound energy, Zia kicked her
legs up and forced her body back into position, staff in hand.
She charged for Samsara and attacked viciously, forcing the
Goddess to use defensive moves. Suddenly the dynamic changed
from a friendly joust to something more sinister.
one move, Samsara knocked Zia's staff away. In that very second,
the girl took out her dagger and swiped it at the Goddess. Her
eyes wide and her heart flaming, she pushed her knife ahead,
hoping to make contact.
into a corner, Samsara had no choice but to retaliate. She
brought her staff up to deflect another blow, then took the butt
and slammed it into Zia's stomach, sending her flying back to
the ground. She flipped until she caught up to her and slammed
her staff onto her opponent's torso.
YOU?" Samsara demanded.
you recognize me?" she shrieked angrily from her position
on the dusty ground.
had been in the stables, brushing down the newest horses brought
in earlier that month. This had been a good roundup, many of the
horses were in great health with beautiful coats. She came to
the last stall where there was a beautiful Appaloosa, only to
jump back as the horse whinnied loudly and reared, nearly
woah! Geeez, down boy!" Thalia held up her hands. The horse
snorted angrily at her. "No one's going to hurt you,
boy." Thalia reached for the horse's nose, but he tried to
bite her hand. "Hey." She put her hands on her hips.
"Do you want to be brushed down or what?"
horse snorted again.
held up the brush. "Do you want me to get those burs out of
your coat, or should I just leave you here dirty?" The
horse eyed her. "All right. I'm going to try one more time.
Either you let me brush you, or you can just stay in there by
yourself and get messier."
she approached, the horse eyed her, giving her a look that
seemed to say "I'll let you do this ONCE." Thalia
shook her head as she brushed the horse's beautiful brown and
white spotted coat. He fidgeted a little as if to say 'that's
enough'. He tried to bite her again as she edged out of the
stall. She glanced back at him as he left, he really was a
magnificent horse. Too bad he was so wild. Maybe she...
she heard shouting from outside. She exited to stable in the
midst of a race between Samsara and Seriana. She edged through
the crowd to the front, where Samsara crossed the finish line, a
red flag clutched in her hand, a hair before Seriana.
watched as Samsara asked for a challenger, and Zia stepped
forth. hadn't Zia been under guard? Nonetheless, she watched as
the fight escalated into more than a simple match. Zia was
thrown to the ground, shouting to Samsara, asking if she
recognized her. Thalia rushed between them lest Zia or Samsara
try to attack again. "What's going on?" She demanded.
She looked towards Zia. "We deserve an explanation."
two Queens were aware but absent for the races. Around the time
the joust began, Queen Medea had returned from yet another
routine trip to the borders. She insisted on keeping an
up-to-date report on the condition and goings-on of the
mysterious medallions that guarded her lands. Whatever Jadea's
reason for using their powers, it worked and Medea wasn't going
to alter a plan that worked.
again her Co-Queen was absent from the places she looked to find
her. And so Medea came upon Samsara and Zia without the
Sorceress Empress. Before Samsara could answer the question
asked of her, the Queen swiftly made a motion to her archers who
instantly shot three arrows. All three landed near the bodies of
the two Amazon warriors. Samsara, being acquainted with Celosia
and Medea's style of "one warning only," brought her
staff away from Zia. However, the Goddess never took her eyes
off the Roman Amazon.
truth had blindsided Athanase in a flash. She didn't know why
she hadn't remembered Zia's face. The bearing, the poise, even
the voice. But, for whatever reason, Samsara hadn't remembered
Ardra was quick to inform her Mistress about the situation.
Jadea appeared on the opposite side of Medea in her direct line
of vision. Only the presence of her Co-Queen would keep the
Queen Regent from launching the blame on Samsara.
take Zia!" She shouted before Medea had given her order.
then turned her head to her Aunt. "No!"
is not up for debate, Samsara, Jadea sent her without meeting
the Teloan's gaze.
who in the Hades ordered her release?" Medea snarled,
glancing from Amazon to Amazon. "Jadea?"
wasn’t anywhere nearby, Medea, obviously. Please, allow me to
handle this matter."
Celosia' sister yelled bitterly. She was feeling edgy,
perpetuated by the turmoil her Sister Queen felt. "You
deal with this! But I don't want anymore fights among us, or
Artemis help me for what I'll do."
a single nod to Jadea, however reluctant, Medea walked back to
the Queen's hut.
turned to Samsara. Silver Hawk stood a few steps away. She
looked about as worried as Valkyra and Antigone did, which said
much considering the two women were among the few Themiscyrans
who could keep their cool in any situation.
you're confined as well," She ordered with the slightest
nod which gave some standing guards the order to escort her
away. "As for the rest of you...this is a celebration! NOT
A WAR! If any more fights break out, I'll contend them to
challenges. As such, the involved parties will fight...to the
death!" Jadea announced in a tone that resembled Celosia's
when her tribe forced her to be harsh with her orders.
Sorceress Empress immediately left thereafter, heading straight
to see Zia. She was stopped rather unexpectedly by an intrusive
through the Twilight Bark is that the Warrior Princess and the
Teloan Amazon Queen have returned.
brogue was too clear to be misunderstood. For whatever his
reasons, Angus was helping Jadea from a distance. He was keeping
in mind what she said she'd do if she caught him in Themiscyra.
While he was a great many things, he was not a fool.
festivities continued. Samsara was soon released, prompted by
her sister's plea to Jadea. Zia was told she could leave the
prison hut, if and only if she was guarded at all times. In
addition, the young Amazon had to give a complete explanation,
apology, and her word she'd not attack Samsara again. Jadea,
herself, was witness to everything, including the exchange
between Zia and her niece.
never understand why mortals lie." A young Jadea commented
to Rumyna as she watched a village of men and women. Her powers
were still growing and remained a little uncontrolled at times.
lie for many reasons, though their lies never last," Rumyna
told her in a voice she only used with her protégé.
but why? All lies do is cause pain. Worse, in some cases,"
Jadea had never lied. She'd not yet discovered the advantage one
can sometimes have in lying to their enemy. In truth, the young
woman had never been in a position where she had to lie.
can sometimes buy the time we need," Rumyna explained
simply. She'd already come to foresee the day Jadea would lie to
save an entire people. The knowledge gave her unsettled feelings
about the use of Jadea's powers.
have you ever lied?"
question was not entirely unexpected but still a surprise. The
Sorceress Empress did not answer right away. She needn't have
said anything, though. Jadea could read the answer in her eyes
when she looked up from the viewing pool.
done things I never thought I would, Jadea." Her voice was
solemn but also sorrowful in a sense, as though she hid some
dark deeds from her protégé.
I?" Jadea asked, her curious tone lilting with the two
Was all her mentor had said to the question. She knew Jadea would, but how to tell her?
would tell her, eventually; on the day the General betrayed
Jadea. By then, of course, it had been too late.
day greeted Themiscyra. This one found both Queens together by
the well. They spoke of political affairs in other tribes. The
Nation's union would soon be underway, and both women were eager
day would also be a celebration. Not entirely peaceful...but not
entirely uneventful either.
Queen Regent roughly rubbed away the trail of water dribbling
down her chin and turned her gaze to the sun, shielding her eyes
with a well-calloused hand. She grunted, as if disappointed by
what she'd seen. After a few moments of quiet brooding she
turned to Jadea. "You know she should have sent word by
now!" the spiky platinum blonde spat, hands on her hips.
lifted an eyebrow, deciding whether Medea was speaking of one of
the Queens they had been discussing, or Celosia. The answer was
obvious. "A Nok’tana doesn't have a time-limit, Medea.
You know that."
I don't know that, actually," the hot-headed teen snapped
bitterly, rolling her eyes. "but how long could it possibly
the Sorceress Empress gave her Co-Queen a droll look.
come on! Do a little traveling, meditate a couple of times,
figure out that you were better off at home, go back there. That
takes--what, three days tops?"
Nok’tana is a spiritual journey, and I'm afraid they just
aren't as simple as all that."
scowled at her.
it was her turn to roll her eyes. I've got enough on my mind
without your whining, Sister. "...if I didn't know better
I'd think you weren't enjoying your term as Queen," the
woman suggested airily. She hid her clever grin.
it's not THAT! Is your head full of weeds? I was MADE to be
Queen! It just doesn't seem right taking care of something this
major without Celosia, is all. I wasn't trained for this kind of
duty, Jade--Hades, our tutor kicked me out of our lessons half
the time for fighting! These are some serious dealings we're
talking about...you know?"
nodded gravely. "Indeed."
I'm not entirely comfortable with the tribes either. I mean, I
don't mind the Highlanders...in fact, know what? I like those
fur-hauling ninnies. But the others...I don't trust them. I
really don't trust them, Jade. And if Serena comes in here
breathing down my neck again, I swear to Artemis, I will NOT
be held responsible for my actions!"
Serena can be a bit...trying...at times, can't she?" Jadea
hummed, remembering the elder's last visit to the camp.
"But she's no reason to get yourself up in arms."
Medea's expression clearly stated her doubt. The Sorceress
Empress shook her head. "Medea! Relax! We're going to
handle this, all right? No problem! We're both qualified, able,
was a loud crash followed by several shouts of annoyance.
individuals?" Medea finished for her dryly.
two Queens didn't have to wait to hear their names. The only
thing becoming more common than hearing Celosia's sister curse
these days was hearing the Co-Queens' names being hollered
throughout Themiscyra, often at more than one location
than a little exasperated at the continuing chaos of their camp,
the women exchanged tired glances and walked begrudgingly
towards the newest disaster area.
couple of days passed and Samsara was still in extremely high
spirits. Karma was growing at a fast pace, as any normal infant
would, and Samsara was sure to have her time with her daughter,
and was even more inclined to let Medea have her for a couple of
were getting better between Samsara and Medea. Samsara had yet
to fully recognize Medea's authority, and Medea secretly
relished that Samsara would be Teloan Queen Empress only
whenever Gabrielle was gone.
remembered when Gabrielle had arrived at Themiscyra…
called Antigone. "Identify yourself!"
gates opened and in came Gabrielle accompanied by Xena. Seriana
ran to them immediately and hugged her protectors tightly.
"I've missed you both so much!"
stepped out of her hut to see what the interruption was. The
woman was in such great spirits, the presence of the Warrior
Princess did little do diminish them. She beamed with joy as she
approached them, passing the gathering Amazons.
separated from Seriana and caught a glimpse of the smiling
infant as her mother held her arms above her head. Karma hopped
about with the help of the taller Amazon, cooing and laughing
with glee. They soon reached the Queen and stopped, Samsara
kneeling down to greet Gabrielle and to speak to the babe.
I know you can stand for her, right?" she whispered,
letting an almost-confident Karma go.
child steadied herself and looked up at the golden-haired woman
in wonder. Her eyes widened and her mouth formed a perfect 'o'
as she took in the breath-taking sight. Suddenly, she plopped
down on her bottom and laughed, standing again.
knelt down. "And who are you, little one?" She looked
up at Samsara. "Is this your heiress?"
Goddess smiled a toothy one. "Yes, this is Karma."
beautiful," remarked Xena. Those were the first words she
stood and looked at the woman, almost with a sinister look on
her face. But the words that came out of her mouth did not match
her visage. "I never thanked you for helping us against the
Majie. I appreciate what you did to save us." Those were
perhaps the hardest couple of sentences Samsara had to say, but
as an Amazon it was one's duty to thank her enemy if she helped
her at all.
nodded. She knew they had their differences and she knew that
some day, they would deal with Callisto's death. Some day.
Medea came out a few seconds later, two guards walking behind
her. Her Co-Queen, as usual, was elsewhere in camp and showed
herself in fashionable lateness.
short exchange was held between the Queen Regent and the Warrior
Princess. Both leaders were aware of Amazon tribes on the move.
It was also known through the Twilight Bark, that the gods' were
planning to crash the union in retaliation for a list of
grievances against certain Amazons.
Pike!" She bellowed out sharply. Both warriors were soon
present. "See their horses the to the royal stables and
report back to your posts."
women nodded and took the reins. Xena was reluctant to entrust
her horse to anyone other than herself or Gabrielle. However,
she allowed the Amazons to lead both horses to the royal
stables, which were reserved solely for the horses of Amazons
with royal blood in their veins or those who'd inherited the
right of caste from royalty. Even the Sorceress Empress, until
she was named co-ruler of Themiscyra, kept her five horses with
the regular herd.
later, Xena walked outside of the command hut. Following her,
Gabrielle stepped out. The Elders were next to exit in line.
Jadea and Medea remained behind for two minutes. A plan had been
really think this will work?" Medea asked uncertainly. She
didn't feel quite as argumentative with her Co-Queen now. Jadea
had promised to contact Celosia.
Sorceress shook her head. "I don't know. I really think
it's our best chance, though."
another look of doubt, Medea glanced away and made something of
a sigh. When she looked back, her eyes held determination.
paced the halls of Olympus, hand cupping chin, eyebrows
furrowed, lost in thought.
sat in her place and called out to her consort. "Dear
husband," she said. "Perhaps you should leave this
King of the Gods turned to her. "The mongrel has the Rhea
Ruby. We cannot allow her to remain in possession of that, much
less with it in the forehead of that accursed horse. You were to
the one to rip his wings from him and send him hurtling down to
the earth! There was a reason you did that and I would like to
see to it that things remain as they were!"
realize how much power she has over us?" Athena added,
entering the room. "She is Protector of the Blood, she has
the Rhea Ruby, and she is Master of War! That War Academy she
has makes me nervous because only Sun Tzu runs a comparable
establishment. I say the best way to end this is to crush the
Amazon Nations underfoot!"
they unite?" Zeus mentioned. The Goddess of Wisdom nodded.
are expecting such an attack," Hera countered. "And
what of Artemis--"
OF HER?" demanded a seething Athena. "Hera, Artemis
has allowed her women to run amuck on my territories. She has
never once stopped Samsara from ransacking half of Athens. She
just as well deserves this just as the rest of those wretched
realize that she will side with Samsara and the Amazons, then. I
hope you also realize that Apollo and his followers will join
them and Hestia's women will take to arms?" Hera was
clearly against marching on Amazon territory. One mistake and
Samsara would go to Olympus and finish them all. "Let
sleeping dogs lie, Athena."
appeared, angry. "Let sleeping dogs lie?" she cried.
"MY DAUGHTER is a CHILD right now because of that
half-breed and her aunt! I want my revenge!"
turned to Hera again. "All right. We'll let it alone. But
we move when the real Queen of Themiscyra returns. And once all
the area Tribes are together..." She closed her fist
was locked up in a unknown place. The memory of the real Caesar
being alive and being taken away was too much to remember. It
happened so fast.
had been taken and beaten. She was still weak from all the
fighting, but this didn’t matter to her captors. Octavius was
probably going through the same ordeal. According to Caesar, she
was to fight in the Roman arena. The same way her parents died.
Caesar thinks he is going to kill me, he has another think
coming, Zia thought. She called out to Caesar and he came in.
do you want?"
us make a deal, I will fight in the arena, and if I win the
fight, Rome is mine. If I lose, my death should be a good reward
be it," Ceaser said and left.
came in and felt sorry for his dear Zia, who was locked up and
caged. He secretly came in to bring the leftovers of the guards.
"Zia, what about your Amazons? I even heard that Xena was
is obvious that the Amazons do not know or maybe not even care
that I am here," Zia said sadly. "Besides, I can
handle myself. Why would the Warrior Princess even care about
some poor teenage girl?" Zia said angrily. "I was born
an Amazon, and I guess I will die as one."
was born an Amazon, and I guess I will die as one," were
the last words that went through Samsara's mind.
shouted Seriana, snapping a couple of fingers in front of her
sister's eyes. "Snap out of it! Sis, what's with you?"
shook her head and placed her hand on her temple. "These...
thoughts... Zia's still in lock up, right?"
yeah, you haven't let her out since the joust and no one's gonna
listen to either of us if we want her out."
were sitting at a table in the Mess hut. Karma was playing with
a toy since her aunt was done feeding her. She offered the toy
to her mother and she took it with a loving smile.
Silver Hawk interjected. "What is it you were thinking
was in a prison, but she was challenging Caesar for rule of
Rome. It doesn't make any sense to me." Karma cooed and
made faces at an Amazon across the hut, sticking her tongue out
and blowing a raspberry. "Karma!" she chided.
"Don't do that; that's rude."
child seemed to pout but listened to her mother.
know, Mariko talked to me about that. You're having
premonitions. We need to keep Zia on the right path so this
sighed. "The first thing is that someone has to tell her to
stay in camp. If she insists on leaving, not only will Medea and
Jadea have a fit, but Celosia may turn into a hydra herself when
she finds out we took in an Amazon only to let her escape."
electing you," Samsara said, lifting her child into her
heard me, Sis. You go talk to the girl, you tell her to stick
around in camp, and you start making friends with her so she
doesn't feel the need to leave." She knelt and picked up
are you going?" she demanded.
going to... I don't know," she said, furrowing her eyebrows
and placing a fist on her hip. She sat back down for a second,
then stood up quickly. "Rumor has it that the Thermodonians
are coming up from their camp for a visit! You go talk to Zia
now and you'll get to see some of the finest warriors as they
roll into the gates." She walked out, leaving Seriana more
shook her head as she stood and headed toward the hut where Zia
was under guard. My…sister…sure does confuse me, she
in the middle of the village as Gabrielle and Xena were
wondering what came next, they saw another familiar face.
approached carrying two plates of hot food and Xena said to
Gabrielle, “Well, well, it’s Valkyra, the pretty weapons
teacher.” Gabrielle gave Xena a jealous look when she heard
the word ‘pretty’.
then addressed Valkyra, “So, you bring us food again?”
of course, it’s seems as though no one else has made the
effort,” answered a smiling Valkyra, “You can take a few
moments to eat before you continue to talk of tribal unity and
war with the gods.”
Medea came out of her hut, she overheard Valkyra speaking. She
widened her eyes as if to ask, ‘How did you know what we were
replied to the unasked question, “Well, some of us may not be
privy to all the plans, but the topic of the discussion between
leaders can be rather obvious. Everyone’s talking about it.
Would you like something to eat as well, Queen Medea?”
Queen Regent glared at Valkyra without answering.
turned to Xena and said, “Maybe later before things get too
serious, you can let a few of our over-confident warriors spar
with you so you can show them that they do not know everything
about fighting. When I defeat them, they do not always take it
seriously since they know in advance that I will win. This way
when you defeat them, they will realize that they still have
much to learn.
looked slightly puzzled. “I think that was a compliment…or
was a compliment and a tease,” interjected Gabrielle.
“Valkyra likes and respects you.”
like and respect the both of you,” added Valkyra, “You are
great fighters, you give help to those who need it and you are
smiled and told Valkyra, “I’ll be happy to take your brash
students down a notch or two. And afterward, I can take you down
as well. We never did have the chance to finish our spar the
last time that I was here.”
laughed and replied, “Yes, you and I can have a go at it with
swords again, but I will be kind to you by not embarrassing you
in front of everyone. We can battle where no one can see us.”
want to watch!” said Gabrielle beaming with delight at the
laughing Xena took hold of Valkyra’s hand and said, “The
loser buys the ale.”
a deal. I guess you had better get back to the Elders and the
Queens. I am sure that they will want you to be in the
foreground of any plans. Let me know if the food is too
feelings had died down quite a bit by the time afternoon came,
though a bystander could still witness jokes being passed
between Sisters. Even a light prank was pulled on one of the
younger women who'd just come of age to be considered adult.
the Sorceress Empress got the old familiar pricking sensation
that warned her of a foreign presence. She made no indication
that anything was amiss, and only Queen Medea knew that a
distraction pestered the woman from time to time.
present, Medea oversaw most of the warriors who stood on the
training grounds. She ordered repetitions of certain moves, and
tested each Amazon warrior for clearness in her calls. In
battle, one of the worst flaws that can happen is to lose
communication between your warriors. Each woman needed to know
what to do, where to go, who needed help, or when their archers
were about to fire a wave.
Sayde!" She shouted at a particular Amazon, who then belted
forth a strong growl. The Queen nodded with an approving smile.
"Very good! Keep it up, Amazons!"
sat by herself in the Queen's hut. She'd spent the last half
hour contemplating different strategies. They had a plan, but
plans could turn quickly and she had gone over several
possibilities and their outcomes with the other leaders.
element still lurked around outside the Amazon territory. This
one bothered the Sorceress Empress greatly because she could not
predict his next move. He could go either way, and to wait and
discover his next move was impossible given the time and
She said aloud to herself, bolting out of the chair. "Oh,
vanished from the hut and appeared at Themiscyra's gates. The
guards looked at her with strange faces, but none questioned
her. "Come on out, Angus!" She yelled, pausing before
she added, "I might let ya live!"
sound nor movement was detected. Jadea turned around and nodded
to one of the Amazons. The guard took her crossbow and readied.
The Sorceress turned back around to try once again. "I know
ya're out there, Angus! I'm down wind of ya!" She retorted
in the hopes he'd appear.
again - nothing stirred out of place. Just as she turned her
body, the man in question jumped out suddenly several feet away.
that hurts!" He said in his usual bantering manner. His
eyes gleamed in humor though he attempted a very honest
expression. "I mean, I come all this way to help ya and ya
got tah go and say a thing like that!"
Amazon questioned her orders at that moment. "Queen
she answered quickly. Jadea had easily noted that the Celt was
unarmed. It wasn't like Angus to be completely void of weapons.
never asked for your help, sir," She quipped acridly. The
remark stung him, to be sure.
did the last thing either Jadea or the Amazons that witnessed it
could have expected. He knelt down upon one knee, his right arm
crossed in front of him with his hand clenched, and bowed his
head. With his eyes lowered, he clearly stated,
Sorceress Empress, I am reporting to you for duty! I offer my
services and my life...and the lives of the thousand men and
women camped inside Cirra Valley."
She screamed inside so strongly that Thalia, Samsara, and
Seriana all heard her. They didn't know what was up, but they
certainly had distinguished her voice.
Head Scout swiftly dashed off the training grounds. Medea
instantly yelled after her, but the Queen didn't give chase. A
sharp flick of her wrist instructed one of the standing guards
to follow the scout.
brought his head and eyes up to Jadea, but he did not get to his
feet. She looked at him through stunned eyes. He glanced quickly
at the pendant around her neck that flickered sky blue. The Celt
wisely kept himself from grinning. He knew she was baffled by
his sudden humility, more so by learning he'd assembled troops
and brought them from Celtia. What she didn't know at the time
was that the majority of the "women" he mentioned were
Highland Amazons. Only a skeleton crew had remained in the
Highlands to keep the village safe.
Jadea?" The Amazon above her asked nervously. The Sorceress
Empress seemed oblivious to her name. A second later, Thalia
neared the scene enough to notice Angus on his knee before
She cautiously sent. Thalia's voice in her mind seemed to awaken
Jadea from her frozen state.
throat cleared and she stared at him hard. Angus met her gaze,
knowing exactly what she was trying to do. Jadea had every
reason to believe he was lying. Lying about his so-called
commitment to serve under her. Lying about the troops he'd
brought. Just lying in general. At the very least, she thought,
he was baiting her into a trap. Sure, maybe he had brought
soldiers back with him. And maybe he was offering to take orders
from her as he done so when he served under her command before.
And...maybe it was a trap to lull her back into letting her
guard down. Trust, he'd learned, was both a necessity and a
your feet," she declared in her authoritative voice.
"All right, you get one chance. Blow it, and you'll wish
death had taken ya instead of what I've planned," Jadea
told him. Her voice never wavered, nor did her eyes leave his.
nodded before expectantly awaiting further orders. He knew the
Sorceress Empress as well if not better than her Sisters knew
to Cirra and remain with the men. I'll send a messenger when I
want you to move out," She commented, soon noting the
hesitance in his face.
all due respect, Sorceress Empress, I cannot comply with that
order. Half of the men are on their way here," he informed.
Jadea?" The Amazon guard again asked for an order. She
didn't like any of this one bit. Neither did Thalia or Jadea,
for that matter.
see. And who ordered that?" The woman questioned with
Celt's eyes fell to the ground for but half a moment before
meeting the Queen's again. "I did, Empress...by Queen
Dolphinea's strong suggestion."
voice did what it could to remain steady.
Thalia spattered in disbelief.
didn't need long to recover and figure out the rest. "You
brought the Highland Amazon Tribe here, didn't you?" She
asked accusingly as her eyes narrowed. This had not been in the
plan devised to unite the nation.
slightly shook his head. "'Brought' is not the word,
Empress. 'Twas more like...I escorted them."
Amazon guard scoffed at his correction. By this time, Queen
Medea's impatience for a report had lead her to find the Head
Scout at the gates. She'd arrived in time to hear a male voice
say, "escorted them."
escorted who to where, and why?" She had her sword drawn,
expecting to find trouble, and now glared from the Celt to her
Co-Queen. "What the HADES is going on here?"
me to tell her? Thalia offered.
rejected the idea. I want you free and clear of blame for
this, she explained when the Scout gave her a complex look.
Highland Tribe awaits word as to when they are to join. I've
just thanked Angus for the message," Jadea said calmly,
glancing briefly to the other Amazon guards to insure their
Highland Tribe? Are you sure?" Medea inquired, unbelieving
that Amazons from Britannia and Eire could have arrived so
speedily. After all, the plan had not been in place for long. A
stray thought in the Queen Regent's head reasoned that it
must've had something to do with the Twilight Bark.
yes. Anyway, Angus has taken the courtesy of regrouping my men.
They, too, stand ready for their orders on our behalf,"
Jadea explained a bit further, knowing the news would impact
Medea. To veer the Queen's look, Jadea turned to Angus.
gods' intend to strike us soon. We need a diversion. Can ya
handle it?" She asked him and received an immediate nod.
big a one would ya like?" He snickered mischievously in his
old way. Jadea smiled wide.
big, hard, and long as ya can manage." She saw that he
grinned but said nothing, for which she was grateful and added,
"Just don't get anyone killed."
last provision would limit the options available to him, but
Angus didn't object. "Aye, it shall be done." He bowed
his head and turned sharply to leave.
called out. "Halt!" Angus stopped in his tracks,
knowing he might be shot if he didn't. Jadea turned her head to
Medea, wildness in her eyes again.
was impeccable with her timing. She flipped out of a tree and
landed between the Queen Regent and the Sorceress Empress. The
latter used the time to divert Medea's attention.
go, Jadea thought to him. Aloud she asked, "Antigone,
when's the next hunt?" Her facial expression as innocent as
Huntress arched a brow but immediately took the lead.
"About two hours, Queen Jadea."
nodded and walked toward Medea. "I think it's time, don't
to her discontent, Medea had to agree with Jadea. The former
knew what her co-ruler referred to, and she'd practically spare
the life of a captured Roman if it meant the chance to speak to
troubled Artemis stood in front a statuette erected in her
honor. She knew what was taking place without even stepping foot
on her lands or Olympus. On a whim, the Goddess of the Hunt
decided to make a surprise visit to Themiscyra. She meant to
speak to one Amazon in particular, the tribe's Weapons Master.
Artemis knew of the Queens' plans, and she meant to help things
along by giving them a little known secret. The only way she
could do this without arousing suspicion was to make it look
like one of the Amazons had learned it on her own.
Goddess of the Amazons waited until Valkyra walked from Xena and
Gabrielle, on her way through the forest. She watched as the
warrior waded further into the trees. Valkyra customarily made
trips through the forest.
appeared in front of the woman's path...
Alex' familiar shout signaled arriving visitors. Samsara was
waiting for them, Karma and the hound as well.
Serena told her she had to make her journey - to complete her
acts and labors - she was hoping to go to Thermodon, the tribe
of warring Amazons, but the Teloan Chief Elder would hear none
of it. She sent her instead to Themiscyra. The last thing the
Teloans needed was a hot-headed High Guard in Kaia with a
trigger-happy Heiress for a sister.
memories were prompted by the arrival of an Amazon Queen,
Marcella of the Thermodon Amazons. Some of the nearby
Themiscyrans dropped their tasks and made their way to the gates
to see who was arriving.
and Jadea were in the crowd, waiting for Queen Marcella to
enter. Gabrielle and Xena weren't far off either and Samsara
walked toward her aunt with her daughter on her hip. The Goddess
beamed when she saw the gates open and a group of one hundred or
so women entered led by Marcella who wore her mask of the
Thermodonians had a different caste system than those of their
had little to do with ascension, although it could help a
candidate. Thermodon was a tribe of warriors and only someone
who had proven herself in battle could ascend to the throne.
was a known name throughout Greece. Hailing from Thrace, she had
been training since the age of 3 and had been known for her
precision shooting and rough demeanor. When old enough, she'd
challenged the Queen for rule and won. She tended to smile on
Amazons who were loyal and would banish or dual those who
committed crimes against the tribe. Her rule was harsh, but her
Amazons were true.
looked about the camp and raised her head. She observed the
light skin of her counterparts and knew that warm weather would
be coming soon. Thermodon was known for unseasonably warm
weather all year around, and the women who lived there were
tanned and bronzed from days in the sun.
to Themiscyra," came Medea's voice.
lowered her head in respect. "You must be Queen Medea. I am
aware that Themiscyra is the full of Queens at the moment. I
hear you have two or four - depending on your count."
glanced at Gabrielle. The two Teloan Queens met eyes for a
second and in that second dozens of feelings graced both.
Respect, wariness, and some fear. Many things would have to be
discussed and soon. Mariko looked on from her place.
also take it," Marcella continued, "that the Gods
intend to strike and that more Tribes are coming?"
nodded. "That's right. But, let's talk later. I would like
to see to it that you are all settled." She delegated
tasks, some to take the horses and corral them, others to
prepare their huts to share, and still others to prep for the
festivities of the night. Before Jadea could continue, Marcella
had a surprise.
a tribute to the Nok'tana journey of Queen Celosia and the
superior fighting skills necessary to defeat the Majie as you
have," the Thermodon Queen interjected, turning to her head
huntress, "Halcyon and her huntresses have the finest game
for a feast."
smiled when she laid eyes on Halcyon. They would share a hut and
speak of their experiences.
thanked Marcella and together they listed who would be living
turned into evening and the feast began. The women danced
together, learning the Thermodon ways of worshipping Artemis.
The Queens sat at the head of the table - Jadea, Medea,
Gabrielle, and Marcella. Samsara kept from that area as she was
showing off Karma to the newest visitors. She looked at Marcella
every so often and the Thermodon Queen watched the Goddess as
she moved about with her daughter.
returned soon after her quiet meeting with Artemis. The smile
that played on her face was interesting and only some Amazons
picked up on it. She walked to Xena and bowed her head in
regard, then went to get a hot plate of food for herself.
broke from the crowd and went to the Great Destroyer, a smile
playing on her face as well. Seriana was speaking with Mariko in
the background and both caught a view of the exchange.
shall I refer to you as?" the Thermodon asked.
Teloan turned around, knowing the question was to her. They were
both of similar height and bone structure, lithe and muscular,
tall and thin. "What do you mean?" she responded.
have many names. What do you go by?"
Goddess glanced briefly at her aunt, who was engaged in yet
another conversation with Medea and some Amazon Elders. Samsara
was quick to turn back to Marcella. With a clear voice, she
replied, "My name is Samsara Athanase." Her tone
seemed to declare what she said as the undeniable truth.
raised her eyes at the answer. Her surprise at Samsara's lack of
title showed on the woman's face. The Queen knew the Goddess had
a handful of rightful names and positions.
few yards away, Mariko grimaced but made no comment. The woman
had reached an agreement with Jadea regarding Samsara's
training. She had to allow Samsara her choice, but in return so
did the Sorceress Empress. And for now, Samsara chose to be an
Amazon warrior and Queen. Everyone knew that Gabrielle would
leave with Xena once the Amazon Nation united and had
accomplished its purpose. When that happened, Samsara would
resume as Queen of Teloq. For now, everyone was content with
smiled, nonetheless. She saw something in Callisto's daughter -
something she recognized and admired. It was the same undefined
something that usually prohibited Samsara's popularity among her
Amazon Sisters. "As you wish, Samsara Athanase. Tell me,
how old is your little one?" Marcella asked in a curious
bit of the old Samsara returned long enough to wonder if she
sensed a hidden agenda behind the question. She found nothing
apparent in the look the Queen gave her daughter. She smiled
proudly in the fashion that mothers often can.
the middle of a story Medea insisted upon sharing with her
Sisters, Jadea stood up and left without excusing herself or
offering an explanation. Samsara noticed and soon made her exit.
The others continued chatting about every topic under Apollo.
caught up with her aunt just as they were outside of earshot of
all the Amazons.
been meaning to talk to you," Jadea said. "Seriana
told me about these premonitions you've been having. I think
Athena tried to poison you as well as Karma."
isn't news to me, Jadea. What do you want to know about these
premonitions?" She crossed her arms.
related all to her aunt.
Xena turned to Medea and talked shop with her. "I hear you
have a Roman in your jail?"
looked at the Warrior Princess curiously. "Yes, yes we do.
And if she thinks I'm letting her out after the last time she
was out, she's quite mistaken."