Antigone moved quietly through the forest. As the breeze
touched her hair, she reflected on her feelings.
Hunting was something she always volunteered for, but never
completely liked. The shadows of the leaves, the sounds of the
birds, and the sweet smell all were things that she loved, but
she had yet to be reconciled to killing a part of the beauty
that made her whole.
Catching something out of the corner of her eye, she slowly
turned and approached, her arrow nocked and half-drawn. As she
got closer, her unease increased.
It was a doe, standing in a patch of sunlight, looking like
peace itself come to earth. Antigone watched, taking in the
beautiful creature as if it were the last she would ever see.
But the needs of the tribe had to come first. She raised the
bow and lined the shot, but . . . She held herself perfectly
still, hoping that one of her feelings would win out and she
would be able to move.
The doe caught a scent, and her head went up. Just as her
muscles tensed to leap, the arrow sped into her throat.
The tribe would eat well tonight.
When she returned to the village, Antigone could feel the
impressed gazes of the other Amazons. She'd brought down a
Seriana, pleased to find an excuse to get out from under
Medea's predatory gaze, came over to congratulate her.
"Thanks," Antigone answered, although her tone
expressed no pride in her accomplishment. Seriana studied her
quiet face and understood a little.
She lay her hand on the doe's still head and solemnly recited
an Amazon prayer. "Blessed Artemis, we thank you for the
doe that will feed us another day. Give our gratitude to her,
and please let her spirit run free on your holy mountain
"Amen," Thalia repeated. "All right, then.
Let's take it to the cooks and let Antigone clean up. You've
been gone almost all day, you know."
"Time blends a little when you're out in the
woods," Antigone responded. "It's very still."
"Is that why you keep wandering off by yourself?"
Seriana asked. "Well, I can't blame you. But be careful,
all right? Men do sometimes slip past the scouting parties and
get into our territory."
"I'll be all right. I always am."
"All right, then. Dinner, anyone?"
As the three walked towards the bonfire circle, Seriana cast
Medea a calm glance. I realize that you're watching me. I'm
She didn't need to send the thought to Medea. Her eyes
expressed it fine.
Jadea followed as Seriana was carried out of the Mess hut
toward the Med hut. But as she crossed the square, a flash of
white behind her distracted her. Turning, she squinted into the
dark shadows of the trees near the walls of Themiscrya.
A white wolf moved with the silence and grace of a ghostly
shadow as he stepped out into her view. His blue eyes stared at
her, communicating with her.
"Neeko?" she asked. The wolf pawed the ground, his
head bowing before her. He looked up again, eyes delving into
her soul. He turned away from her and melted into the shadows
The Sorceress Empress, her niece forgotten, followed.
Antigone's deer made a good meal, and for about an hour
tension in the group eased. Medea ignored Seriana; Seriana
ignored Medea. Celosia ignored them both.
It just so happened that that evening was the new moon, so
both tribes joined together to dance and sing in honor of it.
The Highlanders had a wonderful talent for harmonizing, and
their lilting voices mixed pleasantly with the thrilling beat of
the Themiscyran drums. Even Angus joined in, and his tenor
sounded so well with the rest of it that no one chastised him.
It was dark and late when the party broke up. Seriana,
exhausted but happy, returned to her small hut and sought the
small water jug she kept sitting by the door. She picked up the
vessel and poured a long drink into her mouth.
A few seconds later, the sound of shattering pottery echoed
through the village.
Just about everyone sprinted for Seriana's hut. Celosia got
in first, to find the young Amazon kneeling on the floor with
her hands around her throat.
"What happened?" she demanded.
Seriana shook her head, gasping, with tears seeping from her
eyes. She let go of her throat with one hand and violently
rammed the first two fingers down it. The reaction was
Thalia shoved her way into the small space to kneel next to
her friend. "Seri, are you all right?"
Seri shook her head, shivering, before she started losing
Some of the onlookers helped to carry her out of her hut and
towards the healer's. Thalia, Jadea, and Medea watched as the
queen picked up the largest fragment of the jug and sipped the
water that was still inside it. Then she spit it onto the floor.
Simultaneously, everyone looked at Medea.
She smiled. "Well, well . . . if looks could kill . . .
"Medea, tell me you didn't do this," Celosia
ordered. "Tell me you didn't deliberately poison
"Lock her up," Jadea suggested.
Medea held up her hands. "Let's not jump to conclusions.
I may not like the little brat, but I didn't poison her."
"Forgive us if we don't believe you," Jadea told
Medea looked around at the three unsympathetic faces and
began to get a little uneasy. "It's the truth. On Artemis'
bow, I swear it's the truth. I had nothing to do with this. On
my life I swear it."
Everyone looked skyward, expecting a lightning bolt or
similar means of divine punishment, but none came.
Celosia sighed. "We'll figure out who did it later. Come
She led the way towards the healer's hut.
Thalia quickly followed to others to the healer's tent,
remaining outside to leave the healer enough room to help
"I hope we caught it in time." Thalia sighed
worriedly. She turned to Celosia. "The culprit had to have
been around recently, the food was just barely prepared. We
should check the rest of the water."
Celosia nodded, turning to the other Amazons.
"You," She pointed to a group of Amazons, "check
all the drinks as well as the drinking well for any poison. make
sure no one drinks anything until it is all clear!" She
turned to another group, her guards, "you, secure all the
borders, talk to the current guards, I want no one to leave this
territory until we find the culprit."
"Yes my Queen," the Amazons bowed before running
"Thalia," Celosia looked her in the eyes.
"I need you as my tracker. I want you to check the
borders for anything suspicious, see if anyone has left or tries
to leave. If anyone gets past the guards, you can follow them in
disguise." She saw the look of concern on Thalia's face.
"Seriana will be all right," she assured. "I'll
make sure of that. Now go and make sure this doesn't happen
"Yes, Celosia," Thalia bowed her head quickly
before heading towards the border of Themiscrya. Glancing around
to make sure no one was watching, she took the form of a
sparrow. It was a form she rarely took, so no one from the
village would recognize it as her. They would be looking for a
hawk or a falcon, her usual scouting choices. She took off into
the air, gliding across the border, making sure the guards were
in place and ready, as well as checking for any marks in the
foliage of a recent departure...
As Thalia in her sparrow form scouted the border, unbeknownst
to her, a black eagle swooped in from above her and with one of
its mighty talons grabbed the seemingly helpless little bird.
The sparrow went limp and passed out. The eagle flapped its
powerful wings and began to fly away from the Themiscyran
border. As the large bird of prey rose in altitude, an arrow
with a red shaft and black feathers struck the eagle in the
abdomen. The black eagle tumbled and spiraled. It was dead as it
hit the ground.
Valkyra dismounted her battle steed and carefully picked up
the unconscious sparrow. She felt for a heartbeat with her
finger. Satisfied that the tiny bird was still alive, she
carefully placed the feathered creature within the pocket of her
riding cape. She then removed her arrow from the eagle and tied
the bird of prey to her saddle. She rode quickly back to the
She showed the sparrow to Queen Celosia as other Amazons
gathered around. Valkyra asked, "Is this Thalia like I
believe? She is only in shock. She was knocked out as the black
eagle grabbed her. She should come to soon."
Celosia said, "Yes, I think that is Thalia; I sent her
out to look for anything suspicious. What happened?"
Valkyra explained, "I rode out to see if the borders
were secure. As I was looking around, I had a feeling that I
should gaze skyward. I knew something was wrong when an eagle
turned its attention from a large tasty pheasant to a tiny
sparrow. It had to be magic at work. Normally, I would never
kill a bird of prey, but I knew something evil possessed the
black eagle." Valkrya’s facial expression turned gravely
serious. "My Queen! Someone or something of great evil
wants to kill Amazons!"
Swift Blazer asked Valkyra, her mentor, "Maybe the dead
eagle can give us a clue?"
"That is good thinking, Swift Blazer; but someone
familiar with magic must examine it," Valkyra replied.
Celosia examined the bird in her hands. "Someone must
have sent this bird after Thalia, so they had to have known she
was a biomorph."
"But why attack only her?" Valkyra asked.
Perhaps they wanted her out of the way. They must have been
afraid she would see something she shouldn't have, something
that might give the attacker away, Celosia thought to
herself. "Send a small party to search the area where
Thalia was flying. And find someone with knowledge of magic to
examine this bird."
"Yes, my Queen," Valkyra bowed and went off to
gather some Amazons.
Celosia held the bird in her hands, searching for some sort
of clue. How had they known the sparrow was Thalia? And why
attack her? Was there something to hide, or did they have a
different reason to try to take her away? Had they tried to kill
her, or kidnap her? The questions raced through the Amazon
"I will find out who is threatening my tribe." She
vowed, as she spotted the small sparrow starting to move again.
"And I will put a stop to this."
In the shadows, Medea made her observations and weighed her
options in her mind. Several Amazons passed by, but she kept
quiet and uttered an incantation her mentor had taught her,
helping to meld her into the dark. The shards of conversations
she caught did nothing for her steadily peaking temper.
"Seriana got -?"
"No WAY it wasn't -"
"Oh, I know. I mean it's so obvious that she
"Medea's had it in for that girl from the start -"
"I knew something like this would happen. Didn't I say
so, Tamika? Didn't I?"
Idiots. Treasonous, ignorant idiots! the young Regent
thought angrily, balling her fists. I may not be the most
upstanding sister, but I'd never take out one of my own! Well,
unless I had a really good reason . . . not that the little
brat's mere existence isn’t a good reason but . . .
"Aha! Thought I'd find you lurking about somewhere. What
are you doing here?" Tern asked her apprentice, quirking an
Medea growled and crunched her eyebrows. "What do you
think? I'm saving my butt, that’s what I’m doing! Are you
aware that half the village is under the impression that I did
"Actually, the most recent polls state a figure closer
to two thirds," a new voice offered. Pelee stepped into
view then quickly concealed herself in the shadows. She had no
need for spells, her dark complexion helped her meld naturally.
Medea emitted a displeased grunt. "Why thank you,
cousin. Glad you decided to play the sunbeam."
Pelee half-smiled. "Always pleased to serve."
"So you're tucking your tail between your legs and
hiding, huh?" Tern interrupted blocking Medea's escape
route. The younger Amazon looked suddenly uncomfortable and her
eyes darted for the next option.
"I don't have a tail," she muttered irritably,
still looking, but finding another obstacle, Pelee, in her path.
"Not yet," the Amazon witch threatened mildly.
Medea snarled loudly and pushed passed her mentor, storming
towards the dark line of forest that lined Themiscyra's
paddocks. She whistled twice shrilly and her mare came plodding
up looking as uneasy as her mistress.
Tern and Pelee appeared a few feet away.
"Never thought I'd see the day Themiscyra's fearless
Regent ran away from a fight, Medea!" Tern called, hoping
to pique her cousin's temper. "How embarrassing for me, to
have a coward for an apprentice."
"Who're you calling a coward, Tern?" Medea shouted,
assuming a fighting stance and drawing her daggers. "I'm
not running anywhere, I'm just going to lie low until this blows
"Why? If you aren't guilty, you won't be charged,"
"You know damned well they all think I did it! Only
Celosia's going to stick up for me and even I could tell she had
her doubts when they found the brat! For the love of Artemis, am
I that bad?"
Both women gave her droll glances. Medea took a moment to
admit to herself that she was proud. Feeling rather
self-satisfied, she smirked.
Tern stepped forward. "Are you ready to be an Amazon and
march into that royal tent where you belong?"
Medea smirked and tossed her hair, a futile gesture, it still
being too short to do much more than brush against her eyelids.
With one hand on her hip she commented, "You know, using my
temper against me is going to get you killed one day, oh wise
Tern chuckled and took Medea by the shoulder, both she and
Pelee half-driving the Regent back towards camp. They were no
fools, they knew that there were going to be accusations thrown
at the young woman. They, however, also knew that her riding out
of the village without leave would only support everyone's
"The day you're fast enough to get past me is the day
Pelee dresses up in a bar wench's uniform and serves ale to the
neighboring village men," Tern laughed.
Medea lifted an eyebrow and mumbled a curious, "You
know, Pelee, you never did tell me what you did all that time
you were gone . . ."
The Regent received a playful slap upside the head before she
was pushed into a tent where she could be accounted for.
With all the sudden confusion and chaos - Seriana's
poisoning, the attack on Thalia, the widespread suspicion that
Medea was behind some of the peculiar and deadly happenings -
none of the Amazons noticed that one of their own had
Samsara burst into the Command Tent, where Celosia and
Vorgeen spoke with a couple of the Amazon elders. Léda was
guarding the outside of the tent when she saw a very determined
and disturbed Samsara storming up. She moved to block the
Goddess' path, but Samsara merely pushed her aside and charged
"Jadea is missing!"
Perplexed and annoyed expressions greeted her. Queen Celosia
moved around a table, prepared to deal with this fiery Amazon.
Yet before she could question or speak, the Amazon interjected,
"You said we needed someone who knows about magic,
right? Well, the Sorceress Empress is the most obvious choice.
Or, she would be if she were here."
The Themiscyran Queen studied Samsara's face, and knew she
was telling the truth. She turned and gave the Amazon elders a
meaningful exchange of looks. But Samsara wasn't finished with
"There's more. Several of us went looking for her when
that eagle attacked Thalia. We thought that she or Ardra might
know something. They're both gone. So, I searched Jadea's hut.
My Mother's sword is still there."
Behind Celosia, Vorgeen processed the news. The Highland
Queen took great pride in being a trusted confidant of Jadea.
She couldn't believe that Jadea would simply vanish. Especially
when one of her nieces had been poisoned, and the Amazon Regent
was under high suspicion.
As a few moments of silence fell upon them, there was a
commotion outside the tent. Léda saw Medea, accompanied by Tern
and Pelee, making a straight line for Celosia. She began to walk
a couple of steps forward, intending to prevent the Regent from
Both Antigone and Léda were sharpshooters with the bow and
arrow, even a crossbow. Antigone had gone out with the others to
search for tracks and clues. Léda had agreed to remain in camp,
should a fight break out there.
"Jadea would never Callisto's sword behind, my
Queen," Samsara added when she saw that no immediate
actions or orders were being given.
Vorgeen stepped up to Celosia and put her hand on the Queen
shoulder. "She's right."
Celosia nodded, feeling the burden of responsibility for the
lives and well being of her tribe. She began issuing orders.
Elsewhere, in the smooth stone halls of a great cave which
sits upon a high mountain encircled with a thick mist . . .
"You summoned me?" A woman’s voice echoed in the
main hall of the cave.
"Indeed. We did," a masculine voice answered.
"For what purpose? We were not to meet again for some
"A powerful darkness has descended upon your
"I do not understand," the woman paused, then
continued. "You mean the Amazon called Seriana? She was
poisoned. The responsible party could be any number of Amazon
enemies. We have many."
"A villainous traitor walks among you. This evil has
found a way in which to spread."
Many minutes passed before another word was spoken.
A small portal, like a window, opened and the woman could see
the camp of Themiscrya. Images of Amazon scouting parties were
shown to her and images of two high-ranked Amazon women. The
scene changed to a flying sparrow that was suddenly grabbed by a
large eagle. A few more images were shown to the woman before
the window closed.
"What am I to do?"
"Seek out the dark one whose powers once possessed your
sister of blood, bone, flesh, and spirit."
A heavy silence fell within the cave. At last the woman
As she turned around, she vanished.
Pike had been on a long personal journey for the last few
months. When she arrived in Themiscrya, she found that it was
alive with some kind of trouble. Not sure what she was to do,
she casually looked around and asked, "What is going on
Pike stopped Valkyra as she passed. "What's going on
here? Is something wrong?"
"Something or someone has been attacking the
Amazons," Valkyra explained. "First Seriana was
poisoned, then Thalia was attacked when she was scouting, and
now Jadea's missing..."
"Poisoned? Attacked?" Pike's eyes widened in
surprise. "Are they all right? Do we have any idea who did
Valkyra shook her head. "We've been sending out parties
and guarding the border, but nothing has happened since the
attack on Thalia. Seriana is with the healer, and I believe
Thalia is waking up."
Pike shook her head. "Celosia must be furious . .
Indeed, she was. "Nothing yet?" She asked one of
the scouts who entered her tent. The woman shook her head.
Celosia sighed. "Someone came into Themiscrya without us
knowing and attacked my Amazons. I will find out who's done
this. Find me someone with some knowledge of magic to look at
"Yes, my Queen," the Amazon left in search of
Beside her, the small sparrow moved slightly, opening its
eyes. It glowed softly before growing and re-forming into
Thalia. "Ohh . . ." the Amazon held her head.
"Did someone get the license plate of that eagle?"
"Are you all right?" The Amazon Queen asked in
"I'm fine," Thalia held up her hand. "I just
have a bit of a headache, but that will pass."
"What exactly happened?" Celosia handed Thalia a
Thalia placed the cool cloth against her forehead.
"Well, I was going along the border checking for any trails
or marks from anyone leaving recently. I was heading for the
southern border, the one lined by the Makojie forest, when I
felt this chill run through me. I felt like . . . like someone
was in my head. Then a shadow fell across me and I was suddenly
grabbed by that black eagle and I passed out."
"Like someone was in your head?" Celosia repeated.
"Yes . . . like they were trying to talk to me, or like
they were trying to see into my mind . . . I'm not sure if that
was what I felt, but that's what I thought. I could be
"No, don't doubt yourself." Celosia thought for a
moment. "There has to be some great power involved in
this... but the only question is, why?"
Antigone didn't think she would find anything, but she didn't
let that affect her concentration. Just in case . . .
It had to be magic. No one could get past the guards, and
none of the sisters would do this. Unlike some of the Amazons,
Antigone didn't suspect Medea. She felt sisterhood was stronger
As she searched, a chill crawled up her spine. Someone was
watching . . .
Meanwhile, despite Celosia's best efforts to make Thalia lie
down, the Amazon was intent on continuing her search of the
border. Knowing the Amazon's stubbornness, Celosia let her go.
Thalia knew it had something to do with the border and what
she'd felt. Where at first instinct she'd suspected Medea, she'd
put that aside almost immediately. She was able to feel the bond
within the Amazons strongly, though she was never sure as to
why. She'd felt the bond between the Amazons waver slightly when
Medea was suspected, but now it was back almost as strong as
usual, something that would never happen if there was a traitor
in their midst.
She morphed into a hawk this time, something with keener
eyesight and better fighting skills. She headed towards the
southern border to see if she felt anything again. She saw
Antigone ahead of her searching around. Suddenly, behind her,
something leaped out of the bushes.
Look out! Thalia screamed into Antigone's mind as she
dove towards her.
Three men leapt out of the bushes to attack Antigone. Their
plan was thwarted when the Amazon's quick reflexes caused her to
do a back leap, bringing her out of their reach. Thalia dove
downward and began incessantly flapping her wings in three
faces. Futilely, one of the men tried to grab at the bird, but
was met with a deep scratch as Thalia's claws dug into his hand.
The men eventually withdrew and ran, but not before Antigone put
her touch on them.
"I'm going after them!" Thalia told Antigone.
But something entered into Antigone's mind. Something about
the men and the way they'd attacked her just didn't seem right.
She stood still for but a moment or two before the feeling
struck upon her the truth.
"In the name of Artemis . . . it's a diversion!"
Antigone made three distinctive birdcalls, and the nearest
Amazons within earshot came streaming out of trees.
"You," she pointed to Malina. "Go tell Celosia
that Thalia may be in trouble. The rest of you, follow me!"
She gave a semi-clicking sound and a horse trotted up to her
from behind two thick bushes. Mounting the magnificent creature
to lead the rest of her party, Antigone could not help but feel
a stronger kinship with these women. But with it, the bond
brought a stronger dread should any of them be harmed or killed.
Meanwhile, back in Themiscyran camp...
Medea fumed as she stared at any Amazon who dared to pass
her. The meeting with Celosia had not gone well. And in a moment
of rage, Medea had said a few words she dared not admit, and
that she wished she could have back. Queen Celosia, in turn,
ordered her sister arrested and guarded. Tern had mixed emotions
about her apprentice treated like a prisoner, the foremost being
anger. Pelee, however, had a certain degree of amusement. This
vexed Medea even more, though she pretended not to notice
As for the Sorceress Empress, Vorgeen volunteered to search
for her. She was unwilling to take no for an answer, and
commented that Celosia's tribe had enough to do. Celosia, at
Assembling her Amazons, Vorgeen noticed that Angus was among
them. There wasn't time to deal with him, so she let the matter
"All right, we've got a reconnaissance mission of sorts,
Amazons. We're going in five teams. I've separated each team so
that we're of equal strength. Corestarah, yours are ready so
move out! Dolphinea, I believe you're one Amazon short, so . .
"I'll go!" Angus interrupted, and the Highland
Amazons looked up from their Queen to him.
Vorgeen looked at him hard. She didn't want him out looking
for Jadea for personal reasons, as well as some that were well
known and quite obvious.
Unknown them, Samsara was watching. The poisoning of her
sister and the disappearance of her aunt had made her restless,
irritable, and some might say snippy. She began to walk toward
them. "Queen Vorgeen, I'll go . . ."
The Highland Amazon Queen's head turned and she began to
study Samsara. "All right."
"If I can lead the team. I know these lands
better than your Highlanders and I am, after all, a
"Dolphinea?" Vorgeen turned her head again to see
if there would be a conflict. But the Amazon had great respect
for Samsara and so agreed with one smooth nod. "Done. Move
Angus snarled at Samsara when she walked by him. Her head
turned and she looked dangerous. "Do that once more and
I'll render you incapable of breathing. Now find a horse, and
let's get moving."
She was met with a look of anger followed by one of surprise.
Samsara rode Prince out of Themiscyran, carrying but two
weapons - her staff and her Mothers' sword.
High above them, a hawk flew and peered down from time to
time. What she saw were many Amazons on the move and searching
for trails. Turning to she began to fly in the opposite
They never cease to amaze me, Amazons.
Chasing after Thalia and three men took the Amazon war party
miles from Themiscyra's borders. When Antigone and the other
Amazons caught up with Thalia, they saw her fighting the three
men in her human form and rushed to join her.
"Thalia!" Antigone called out, but her Sister
didn't turn her head from the fight. In a battle, the slightest
pause can be the difference between your life and your death,
and she knew it. So while she heard the cry, she ignored it.
As the hours drew on, afternoon fell upon the valley and
moved into evening. One by one, the Highland Queen's Amazon
teams began to filter into the camp. Until all but one team
remained out and searching . . . the team led by Samsara and
Seriana's condition was unchanged. The remedies Xanthea used
had no affect on the poison the Amazon had been given. She
finally sent for Yakut, but had little hope that even the
Shamaness could help rid Seriana of the poison.
Between the two of them, Vorgeen and Celosia were feeling
ever more helpless. Being the Amazons they were, they both
fought the feeling every step of the way.
On a whim, Medea decided to cool down and ask her sister if
she could see Seriana. Celosia reluctantly agreed. The Queen
knew of the animosity between Medea and Seriana, but something
told her that the former wouldn't go so far as to poison the
No, no. Medea was far more likely to fight Seri and give her
a beating than stoop to the cowardly act of poisoning her.
The Regent prided herself on being brave and poison was one of
the darker degrees of cowardice. No, the Queen thought, she
wouldn’t stoop to such an underhanded method of disposal.
Alone in the hut, Medea sat in a chair and looked at the now
sleeping Seriana. Before she'd dismissed the healer, Medea had
inquired as to Seriana's condition.
"The pain is less," Xanthea answered. There was a
long pause before she said, "She still breathes."
Anger began to brew inside Medea. Not for the suspicion she
remained under in the eyes and minds of some of the Amazons. No,
this anger was for the person who had poisoned one of her own.
The Regent rose up out of her chair, finally. Both her firsts
clenched at either side as she swore. "I'll find out who
did this, Seri. And I'll make them pay."
With that, Medea departed.
Back in the Makojie Forest . . .
Up until now, Thalia could nothing to stop the men. Each blow
she struck they seemed to take effortlessly. But the arrival of
Antigone and the other Amazons changed that quickly.
Antigone shot one of dark strangers with her crossbow. Her
arrow hit his leg and he went down. One of the other Amazons
threw a dagger and it landed in another man's chest. He soon
went down and began struggling to breathe.
That left Thalia and her opponent. He was brought down by her
sword as it skewered him through his stomach. "Who are you?
Who sent you?"
The man sputtered a single word before his eyes closed for
the last time.
Elsewhere in the countryside . . .
Jadea, who is responsible for what is happening to the
"Not so much a who, really. A what, might be a better
question. A dark force . . . darker than Ares, Hades, and the
What was all that about seeking out the dark one who
possessed your flesh?
The Sorceress Empress cut her guardian hawk off. She hated
the answer but would not stand to hear the rest of the question.
"Callisto. She hunted the Amazons once."
Jadea heard a kind of stunned pause and knew more inquiries
were to follow.
The Amazons? Why?
"Not why you think, Ardra. Callisto had no vendetta
against them. The only motivation for being their enemy was that
she knew how much they meant to Xena. It was a way to vex the
The wind suddenly picked up and Jadea saw her Sisters with
three men. She closed her eyes and sighed, realizing that it had
And what was that? Ardra asked, having seen the images as
"Majie spies. Somehow someone must have found out that
Seriana still lives," she commented and began walking
Angus would be looking for her, she knew. He was like a
shadow that she could only seem to escape for short intervals if
she hid in the darkness. Her niece was probably using every
means possible as a Goddess to locate her. She could do nothing
to heal Seriana, but she knew her powers would be both wanted
Are you sure about that? The hawk flew down from above
and landed gently on Jadea's shoulder. What if they were the
ones who poisoned Seri in the first place?
The Amazon thought for a few moments, but finally shook her
head. "For that, they'd need special powers. No mere being
could get into our camp without us knowing. No, those men are
the equivalent of the common foot soldier to the Majie."
Silence fell between the two companions. At last, Ardra had
to ask another question. But this one would put Jadea on the
spot. What all do you know about these Amazon assassins?
Jadea failed to answer for a long time. When at last she
chose to speak, it was to simply reply, "I know that they
are not alone responsible for this."
At the very next moment, both Jadea and Ardra vanished.
Unknown to the Sorceress or her hawk, an ally was watching
Afternoon faded into night as Apollo descended into the
horizon. Samsara continued to ride Prince, the other Amazons
scouting with her.
Dolphinea trotted to her. "Samsara, I think we should
The request was innocent enough. Dolphinea had a great
respect for Samsara and their communication was fluid. Both knew
what to do without getting in each other's way, although Samsara
did have the implicit authority, hence why she asked the favor.
The Goddess whipped around and glared at her, but before she
said anything, she immediately calmed down. This wasn't the time
for her to lose her cool. She knew it wasn't wise for the
Amazons to be out this late. "How about this: I send most
of the company back now and I send the others later. I'll need
more than one pair of eyes."
They cast lots to see who would go back. Dolphinea decided to
stay and took herself out of consideration. She understood
Samsara's connection to Jadea. Dolphinea knew her in passing
when she was a Highlander. The two women soon turned their
conversation to the Highlands.
"I'd love to see it someday," Samsara responded.
"It's quite beautiful. The air feels so different."
"It feels like home? Yeah, that's how it should feel.
When a forest -- a land -- is yours, it feels different, like
nothing else. A second skin, if you will. I suppose you
understand why I'm out so late looking for my aunt."
Samsara knew too well. She wanted to avenge her mother's death
and she knew she would some day.
Dolphinea nodded. "She's your blood. You would go to
great lengths for her, as we would to protect our land--"
Before she could say anymore, Samsara threw a hand out,
stopping the Amazons from going further. Being different than
other mortals, for she was immortal before she became a goddess
and had been since birth, her eyesight was doubly keen as was
Whoever you are, when I find you, if you are responsible for
hurting my aunt and my sister, you will die, she thought
fiercely. The two dismounted. The dozen or so women behind them
stopped as well, knowing evil lurked in their midst.
Samsara drew her mother's sword and left her staff in the
catch of her saddle. She didn't need her powers to defeat
cowards. She found it to be a waste of energy.
Thirsty, Dolphinea pulled out a waterskin and took a drink
before Samsara could say a word. The Amazon fell to the ground,
unconscious. The Goddess took the waterskin and tasted a drop.
"Poison!" she gasped. She motioned for one to
take her back to camp.
She gripped the sword. Your ass is mine! She pointed
up to the trees and the brush ahead, signaling where the enemy
was. She brandished the weapon and cried: "AMAZONS
The Amazons charged into the brush expecting to find an army
behind it. To their surprise they found a figure lying on the
ground. It was a young man laying on the forest floor, his face
contorted in pain. He was bleeding and obviously wounded, from
what was not clear.
Samsara and one of the Highland Amazons, Brina, approached
warily while Thalia came up behind them. As they exchanged
glances Thalia peered around them to see the figure better.
She caught a glimpse of him and gasped loudly, dropping her
crossbow to the ground. Samsara and Brina turned to her
curiously, as she stood staring at the young man.
They looked back to see the young man staring back at her,
and he spoke a single word before losing consciousness;
"Thalia, who is this?" Samsara demanded, a bit more
harshly than she wanted.
"It . . . it's Garret, my... lost love."
Samsara blinked in shock and disbelief. Her tone was as
stunned as it was angry, but somehow Thalia only detected the
former of the two. "Your...lost...love?" The Goddess
managed to speak the thought rather than just let it scream
inside her mind.
But Thalia was more concerned with the unconscious man than
answering questions. She instructed one of the Highlanders to
give her hand, and they got him bandaged up enough to stop his
The Goddess of Destruction felt a pricking sensation and the
hairs on the back of her neck stood up, warning her. Glancing
around, she spotted Ardra perched on the limb of a tree many
yards away. She squinted, wondering what the creature knew of
Jadea’s disappearance. She held out her arm, but Ardra ignored
You Amazons are out far too late, the bird thought to
herself. And just why Jadea insists on doing this from afar
is beyond me. She hopped onto a branch below her.
Ardra observed the Amazons for several minutes before she
thought it was time to join them. Tied to her right leg was a
message her mistress had written to both Amazon Queens back in
Themiscrya. But it would not do to leave a band of Amazons in
the dark when one could be of service. Besides, I bet they
have no idea who they have captured.
The hawk knew who the man was, but she'd arrived too late to
help him. And she thought it intriguing that only one of the
Amazons seemed able to identify him.
Samsara resolved to find her aunt returned. Leaving Thalia to
do with the man what she would, she mounted Prince once more. A
few of the Highlanders followed her lead. They didn't get far
before Ardra came flying toward them. Had Samsara not seen the
hawk before, she might have thought she was under some sort of
attack. Ardra dove straight toward her, eventually swerving over
her. The message tied to her leg fell off and bounced off
Samsara's shoulder into her hands. Altogether, it was an odd
thing to see . . . and more so to experience.
Thalia looked up. She was now a little behind the others, but
not too far that she didn't hear any of the commotion.
"What in the name of . . ."
Heads up, Thalia! Ardra broke in and she landed on
The bird just looked at her blankly. She felt annoyed with
this diversion, and more annoyed that Garret had failed his
mission. Well, not so much failed as succeeded and then
discovered and attacked.
It's too late for him. Ardra replied and made a slight
jerking motion of her head. It actually wasn't too late to save
the man, but Ardra wasn't about to tell Thalia that. She knew it
wouldn't set well with Jadea if she learned that the Amazons had
put themselves in greater danger for a wounded man. Particularly
not when the Amazons, themselves, were being hunted down.
Meanwhile, Samsara read the message. Half of it had been
written in an ancient code, perhaps meant for Vorgeen's eyes.
The other was in standard Amazon, specifically the Themiscyran
dialect. It told of what Jadea had feared and discovered. That
an evil had entered the Amazon world, and that the Themiscyrans
were the first tribe it'd sought. Other Amazon warriors were
being targeted, and many had already died. The Sorceress Empress
apologized for her untimely departure but explained that it
could not be helped. She inquired as to Seriana's state and made
a formal request that neither queen should order a search for
As Samsara read on, she grew angrier. Here she'd been worried
sick about her aunt, and now she found that her aunt did not
wish to be found. Little did she know that once she returned to
Themiscrya, her aunt would be waiting for her.
"I have sent Ardra to act as a kind of spy for you.
Since she is not Amazon, she will not be targeted and therefore
can add to your eyes and ears during this crucial time. Queen
Vorgeen possesses an orb that can help to purify the water and
food in our village. She likely has not thought to mention it
for I doubt she knows its ability to do this. That will prevent
any more of our Sisters from being poisoned. Be assured that I
will return shortly once I have learned more. Also, my Queens,
you might wish to see which Amazons know of the Majie, and what
all they know about them. It is a truth that Amazon assassins
have been deployed. Much more about them and their business has
been well hidden. I intend to seek out further knowledge of
them. I have one last favor to ask of you. By now, my niece and
Sister Samsara has discovered I left Callisto’s sword behind.
This was actually a mistake on my part, as I did not have time
to bring it when I left. However, what Samsara does not know is
that much of my former mentor’s power is stored in the blade.
If, perhaps, she can channel her own power from her staff with
that of her mother’s sword, she might be able to locate the
enemy. The decision to try this remains in your hands, but I
wish you luck all the same. May the road rise up to meet us all,
my Sisters. And may the wind be always at our backs. Jadea, the
"Listen up, Amazons!" Samsara shouted when she
finished. The message had done little to change her mind. She
still intended to find her aunt, and she still intended to
avenge her mother's death. All that had changed in her view was
HOW she would go about doing this. "There's been a change