Majie Mystery


The group immediately formed up to head back to the safety of the village palisade. They were the greatest hunters in the known world, but even the magic-wielders did not know they were being watched.

Two men, men in the heart of Themiscrya territory, watched the Amazons with impassive eyes.

"They are beautiful," said one.

"The biomorph is weak."

"It happens to the best of them. When he is out of her world, she will be strong again. And by then we'll have them all."

The other said, in the steady monotone of recitation, "The most beautiful thing in the world is a captive Amazon. The next most beautiful, a suffering Amazon. Next, a dead Amazon. Last, a free Amazon."

"A captive Amazon. And their beauty will belong to us."

"Only if we move quickly. They are already learning and taking precautions."

"Should we take out the threats?"

"Yes. It pains me to think of them dead, but no Amazon royalty will be captive for long. Seek out the ruling families, the magic-wielders, and the warriors. Kill them if you have to, capture them if you can."

"Such is the way of the Majie."

"Indeed, such is the way. I and the others skilled at sorcery will go to the poisoned ones."

"Be careful, sir."

"You also."

They retreated into the shadows without any of the Amazons so much as glancing at them.


"Listen up Amazons!" Samsara shouted as she held the parchment tightly in a balled fist. "There's been a change in plans."

She was angry. Jadea gone, she was growing more livid by the second. No one messes with the family, she thought. She wrapped up the papyrus and handed it to Thalia roughly. "Thalia, you go back with five Amazons. The rest will come with me to find these Amazon-hunting coward scum."

The Highlanders were tired. They wanted to return to the Themiscryan camp and rest for the next day. Some raised voices of protest, but Samsara cut them off. "I'm not finished. Five will return with Thalia. Two of you will head up the Thermadon to Teloq. The remaining ones will go with me to find my aunt. I only want the ones who know her the best: maybe we can get somewhere."

She quickly decided who would be going where, delegating duties. She first deployed Thalia's group. "Be sure to give that note to Celosia or Vorgeen," Samsara ordered. She thrived in times of crisis. She was desperate to show Elder Serena and the miserable Teloan Pentad that she was the rightful winner of the High Guard position and she snatched every opportunity to do so. She took Thalia's forearm and said, "Go in peace, sister." The six left.

Samsara pulled out a piece of parchment and created a note with her eyes. The matter of urgency was clearly stated. She folded the piece and burned a shadow of a wolf -- her insignia -- onto the folds as a watermark. The note authenticated and official, she handed it to Aelia and said, "Take the route south on the Thermadon. When you reach the encampment sound a birdcall. Demand on the name of the Princess-Heiress to see Serena and give her this note. It is imperative you do this."

Aelia nodded. "As you command, High Princess." She left with another Amazon.

Samsara was left with three women. They looked at her warily, but each knew the urgency. They knew Jadea and they wanted to see her back safely in Themiscryan territory.

The High Princess mounted her horse, Callisto's sword in hand. She flashed back to when Swift Blazer saw the broken Celtic knot on Thalia's back. She knew the Majie had something to do with it. Those slavers that attacked are much stronger than anything under Kaia or Ares and were defeated easier than I anticipated, she thought. Something's wrong. She looked at Ardra. She needed to send another note.

The bird instinctively went to her and sat on the pommel of Prince's saddle. Samsara pulled out another piece of papyrus and emblazoned the message onto it:

"Your Highnesses Celosia and Vorgeen:

"Celosia, you may remember what happened in the Medic hut the day Swift Blazer came into our lands. She saw a sign on Thalia's wound. Be sure to check her to see if this mark still exists. Swift Blazer may know more -- her reaction was testament to that. Be on your guard. Thalia may tell you if she gets to you before this note does. I've decided to continue searching for Jadea. Something tells me if I can find her I will find our enemy or vis-à-vis. If I do find them, I will send the remaining Amazons back. I won't risk lives. Two Highlanders, Aelia and Ursa, have gone south with a message to the Teloan Pentad. If these assassins are after us, they may send a legion to Themiscrya. Trust in my decision, my Queen.

"My staff shall crush the onslaught of our enemies, and my sword will bear our message to all.

"High Princess Samsara of the Teloq Amazon, Princess-Heiress to the Throne."

She wrapped up the message and tied it to Ardra's reluctant leg. The hawk knew this was bad news, but she did as told and flew off.

Samsara sheathed the sword and pulled out her staff. "Let's go."


The troupe reached a creek and Samsara ordered that they clean out their waterskins and refill. She did the same, washing up as much as she could. It was time to rest, she knew, and she had to make sure they wouldn't be under attack wherever they set up camp.

She stood and found a mossy area soft enough for the three others to sleep. The Highlanders were grateful for a break and they lay down and were soon in their dreams.

Samsara decided to keep watch. She was an immortal -- she needed no sleep. She pondered why she ever went through the motions of eating or drinking. The only food she craved was ambrosia, but that was far from her mind. She leaned against a fallen trunk with her sword and staff at her feet, drinking from the waterskin.

The territory of the Amazon nations was expansive. Three tribes shared the eastern shore of the Thermadon river; the Themiscryans in the north, the Teloans in the middle, and the Thermadon Amazons to the south. Samsara knew this territory well, and she was very aware that they weren't out of it yet. She sighed.

Jadea why did you leave? she thought, taking another swig of water. The liquid was enticing. Samsara never experienced this before, but she paid no mind to it. She continued drinking from her skin. Whatever poison was in the Themiscryan water could do no physical harm to her.

She stood up. She had been gazing into the light of the fire for what seemed like many candle marks. She shook her head and suddenly stopped, pulling her mother's sword from the ground.

"Who are you?" she hissed.


Meanwhile, back at camp...

Thalia sounded a birdcall. The gates opened and several guards noted the lack in numbers.

"Where are the rest of you?" one asked. She held a spear and was obviously one of the veteran night guards.

"I have a note for Celosia and Vorgeen," Thalia responded. "Samsara is still out with a group. They should be back soon. She wanted to canvas the area again."

The six tired Amazons walked through the gates. The five Highlanders went directly for their quarters to rest and clean up. Should Vorgeen want to speak with them, she knew where to go.

Celosia walked out of her chambers with Vorgeen as if on cue. Thalia headed straight to them. She motioned them inside.

"What of Jadea?" Vorgeen queried.

"We got this note from her hawk," the biomorph responded, handing the paper to Celosia.

"I don't recognize this language," she said, handing it to the other Queen. "I think this message is intended for both of us."

As soon as she read the note, Vorgeen groaned. She was not a fan of taking out the orb, but very few Amazons knew of its power and three of them were in the Queen's chambers. "We need to do this as soon as possible before daybreak," she advised.

Celosia herself groaned. "If Jadea didn't want to be found, where is Samsara?" she demanded. That girl, she thought. She had better know what she's doing.

At that instant, the three turned. There was a commotion outside. They rushed out to see Medea waving off a bird. Not just any bird, but a red-tailed hawk by the name of Ardra.

"Get off me, you blasted thing!" she cried, angrily.

Well, if you'll stop fidgeting, it won't hurt as much! Ardra exclaimed to no one in particular. She was attempting to get a good hold on Medea's arm. Don't you see I have a note for your sister, woman?

"What's going on?" Thalia asked, worried. She knew Ardra meant no harm.

"What does it look like to you, stupid?" the Regent snarled.

Vorgeen extended an arm and the hawk bounced off a shocked, crazed, angry, and slightly intimidated Medea and landed softly on the Highland Queen's offered limb. Celosia pulled off the note attached to the bird's leg.

She snorted. "Question answered. Samsara's looking for the enemy in hopes that she find her aunt. Medea--"

"What?" she sneered, still flustered over the bird attack.

"Go find Swift Blazer. Get her out of bed, I need to talk to her. Thalia, round up everyone who knows anything about the Majie. We'll need all the information we can get. Meanwhile, Vorgeen will purify the food and water supplies and I'll wait on a Teloan envoy. If they're as fast as Samsara is stubborn, she should be here before daybreak."


Samsara was stubborn . . . so stubborn in fact, that she didn't realize the three Highlanders were telling her the truth when they told her she was hallucinating.

But that didn't stop Samsara from swiping her sword at what seemed just air. The racket she caused startled the Amazons from their slumber, and as a precaution, they pulled out their weaponry. Bow, spear, and sais were ready.

"Samsara, no one is there!" Caoilinn, one of the remaining Highlanders with the Goddess, said as calmly as she could.

"Oh, no, they're here all right. They're here."

The Goddess was clearly delusional. Exchanging glances, the three Highland Amazons decided what to do silently. They attacked quickly and subdued the High Princess, binding her with rope. By then, she was giggling and had a big smile on her face.

"We have a problem," Caoilinn said. They mounted her on Prince, who knew the urgency. They went back to camp.


Jadea headed north, knowing that her tracks were being followed. She reached a flat valley and raised her hand. Before her a cave appeared and she walked through it.

"Majie!" She said in a rough tongue, cursing the lot of them. A man came out of a hidden room and looked surprised to see the Sorceress Empress.

"Well, well. This is a surprise."

She rolled her eyes and moved a few steps closer.

"I have no time for games. What have you learned?"

The man stepped into the light glowing from a pit of fireballs. "They are actually only seeking one Amazon. The destruction of the Amazon Nation is only a bonus delight for them."

Jadea, having little patience and even less liking the news, snapped suddenly. "Which Amazon do they want?"

"I don't know. No one does. At least, no one throughout the Twilight Bark knows. It's been suggested that you return to your Sisters and get them out of there as quickly as possible."

She shook her head. "No. No the Majie will simply take up the chase. Every opponent has his or her weakness. Even the ever elusive Amazon assassins." Jadea turned to exit, but his voice stopped her.

"There is something else. The Goddess of Destruction, The new Goddess of War . . . she's looking for you. If the Majie find her first, and she destroys them . . ."

"Her spirit will be destroyed with them." The Sorceress Empress gave a heavy sigh and departed. She appeared in Themiscrya three hours later.


Jadea stood before Celosia, Vorgeen, and a handful of the Amazon elders. Upon her return, she'd been subjected to questioning about her departure, what she learned, and so on. The Sorceress Empress had told them close to everything that had transpired, leaving out the names of her sources and their precise locations.

Jadea’s niece and a few other Amazons were still out searching for her. She'd impulsively demanded an answer as to why Celosia would allow Samsara to leave and why Vorgeen agreed to let her lead a search team. From the Highland queen, a two-word response, "Callisto's sword."

Amazons had various ways of communicating with each other. A few are used to send and receive messages without anyone else knowing it . . .or if they knew, understanding what it meant. For most Amazons, there was a specific piece of clothing or personal belonging that they would leave behind to let their Sisters know when they were in trouble. Basically, if something was amiss, an Amazon could warn her Sisters of it by leaving something of theirs to be found. For Jadea, her sister's sword, now her own, was that one thing.

"Jadea, you disappeared without a trace," Celosia grated. "Oddly, you vanished not long after Seriana is poisoned. And I know you were here for that because you were among those in the tent when all eyes laid on Medea. Not too long after that, Thalia was viciously attacked by a black eagle. Our water supply wasn't fit for consumption. Then an angry goddess came barging up to me with news that her aunt was missing. We've had Amazons combing the forest and the surrounding areas ever since. You didn't exactly leave me a choice." Celosia then informed her that the Themiscyran Regent was nowhere to be found. She'd left shortly before Jadea returned, leaving behind her an order that she not be followed. The Amazons under her command had said and done nothing to stop her.

"Bring them back," Jadea demanded. "They’re safer here with us."

Celosia sighed. "I’m not sure where they are now, Jadea. And unlike you, I haven’t a magical hawk at my beck and call to send where I will."

Vorgeen tried to reason with the Sorceress Empress, but her words fell on deaf ears. Instead, Jadea mentally spoke to Ardra. She was the neutralizer for Jadea's temper. How do we know the Majie are really after one Amazon? The hawk asked.

I heard from a reliable source. But I think there's more to it. I think the Majie are after only one because to them that one is the key to Amazon Nation's downfall.

A few moments of silence passed while Ardra considered this. Jadea's logic made sense to her, which it didn't always do to others. So, who is the lucky Amazon?

Jadea shook her head. Vorgeen and Celosia exchanged looks. At that moment Medea trotted up on her horse. "Am I late?" She quipped, stopping her horse.

Jadea looked up at the Regent. Medea looked tired and worn as though she'd recently been in a fight. If she had, it must have been a tough one. For Medea seldom if ever looked tired from fighting - even if she truly was. "What did you find?" she asked first.

"I don't know who poisoned our water, but I know how. They used the river. I took a sample of it and went to an apothecary I know. He said the water had been tampered with. I asked him how, and you'll never guess." Medea's eyes narrowed suddenly as they moved onto Jadea.

"Magic. Some kind of black magic," Jadea answered softly.

Celosia and Vorgeen both looked at the Sorceress Empress in unison. In Jadea's past, she'd dealt with black magic and dark forces. She had also had the displeasure of meeting some formidable foes that had dedicated their lives, and souls, to the profession. The decision to end her use of it had been her own. She was one of the lucky ones.

Later, Jadea couldn’t say what exactly triggered her realization. She would chalk it up to a combination of something in Medea's tone and words and Ardra's question which still lingered in her mind.


"Jade, what are you sayin'?" Vorgeen asked.

Xena? Ardra questioned, disbelieving. The hawk knew of the Warrior Princess, who didn’t? Unless you'd been born, lived, and died under a rock . . . you knew who she was, might have even crossed her path.

It makes sense. She's considered an Amazon by most everyone who meets her, including the tribes and Queens of the Nation. The Sorceress Empress cleared her throat. She was prepared to face down Medea if it came to it. "I’m saying that the Majie aren't only skilled killers . . . they're powerful practitioners of dark magic," she answered with a poised look at Medea followed by two equally reserved looks to the Highland and Themiscyran queen.

Just then two Highlanders and a couple of Themiscyran Sisters came walking up to the two queens, regent, and Jadea.

A healthy Dolphinea was among them. Upon arriving in camp, she'd been given some of the purified water to drink. Mysteriously, the cleansed water had rid her of the poison she'd unknowingly taken earlier. Xanthea, happy to have found a cure at last, gave Seriana some of the cleansed water as well. But the treatment hadn’t worked on the daughter of Ares, and she remained in the Med hut, unconscious and feverish.

Dolphinea’s eyes met Jadea’s. She looked around the area, then back to the Sorceress with a puzzled expression. "Where's Samsara?"

Ardra had had time to mull over their circumstances. She'd come up with a few new theories of her own. If they are looking for Xena, then why come after us? Why not just go straight after the Warrior Princess? I mean, she's not a hard person to find. She leaves an impression wherever she goes.

You're forgetting . . . Jadea started, half-agreeing with her guardian hawk, that the Majie want us all. Xena is the key. She's Amazon though she denies it. She has our skills, our knowledge, our spirit . . . as well as other attributes.

Her mind's voice fell silent for a minute or two. I'm hoping that the reason the Majie haven't launched a full-scale attack - is because they can't. Maybe we can use that.

The hawk blinked. We're going to need more than that.

Her mistress agreed, I know. Aloud, she answered Dolphinea. "I wish I knew."

Elsewhere in Themiscyra's territory...

Several Amazons: Valkyra, Pike, Antigone, Léda, and Karyn searched for intruders. Yet as they were watching for anyone or anything that might be their enemy, so they were being watched.

"Quite wary aren't they?" A dark figure observed.

His companion nodded in agreement. "Indeed. That one," he pointed to one of the Amazons, "is feisty. Beware of her."

His comrade laughed in somewhat a scoffing tone. "You make them sound so formidable. As though they were some kind of actual threat to us."

The other wasn't as naive or dismissive about them. He'd seen the Amazons fight both in the mortal and immortal worlds. And once, just once . . . he'd even witnessed a spiritual duel between an Amazon Queen and a war-favoring priest. The priest had lost the duel and with it all of his followers.

The two men were somehow screened from the warrior women’s view. They'd been sent to discover what the Amazons knew and what they intended to do.

A birdcall sounded through the forest. Valkrya’s head jerked up and her eyes scanned the tree branches above them. The call came again from the direction of the camp. Something in the call alerted Valkyra. With silent motions, she sent three of the Amazons into the trees while she and Pike went swiftly back to the village.

"What do you suppose that was about?" One of dark men asked, a bit surprised at their hasty departure.

"The Amazons are bound to the land, and the land is bound to them. They have long since befriended nature and its creatures. Adapting the ways of many animals has enabled the Amazons to communicate without detection. Only they know what sound or color means what. For now."

His partner was silent for a long time. At last, he deciphered the meaning of his friend's cryptic words. "We have a Majie in their camp?"


His question was answered with a slight nod. "She poses as one of their own and they have neither the means to discover her nor any reason to suspect she is there. After all, they are . . .sisters."


Caoilinn’s birdcall alerted the Guards at the gates that they were nearing. The Amazons cleared the way for a wary Caoilinn, two other Highlanders, and a tied-up Samsara.

The Goddess jerked on her saddle, attempting to kick her steed into a gallop. Prince knew when to obey and when not to. He was as stubborn as his mistress was and he knew better than to listen to her right now.

"Stupid mule," she muttered. "Take me away from here! I need to find Jadea!"

That kind of commotion was uncommon for that time of night.

"I said, gallop away, you jack--"

Before she could finish, Prince stopped and kicked his forelegs into the air, sending the Princess-Heiress to the ground. He seemed to say, "I treat you too nicely sometimes," with his action. He also seemed to laugh when she landed roughly on the ground.

She kicked up to be confronted by an arsenal of spears and arrows pointed in her direction. She attempted to put her hands up, but she the rope was tied snug to her body . . . or so they thought. She shook a bit and the binds fell off her body as she exhaled. Then she put her hands up.

"Look! I'm not going to do anything to you!" she said with a smile. "Caoilinn, thanks, but I'm fine now."

"Let Xanthea see you," she responded, calmly. She extended her hand.

"No, really, I'm fine. I know Jadea's here and I'm going to go see her," Samsara pushed past the Amazons roughly, slapping the dirt from her clothes as she went by. "Prince, it'll do you justice to come with me."

The horse snorted and followed begrudgingly. As soon as she reached the Queens, she tied the reins to a post. "I see you're back," Samsara directed her comment to Jadea.

"I can say the same for you," the Sorceress Empress responded.

The Goddess noted the tension in the area. Her eyes scanned the faces of Dolphinea, Celosia, Vorgeen, Aletha and Despina -- the Themiscyran elders --, to finally rest on the Regent.

"Why am I not surprised," Samsara's tone was dry. The smile still played on her face.

Meanwhile, Caoilinn explained the situation to the guards. "She got a little feisty with a beggar and we had to tie her up and drag her back."

The other two Highlanders, Innes and Taegan, looked at each other, but kept their curiosity and confusion to themselves. What was Caoilinn doing? Why wasn’t she telling the guards the truth?

Taegan remembered that Caoilinn had been the one to go fill the waterskins with Dolphinea when they had stopped at the river. Then she had seemed amazingly calm when Samsara started swiping at thin air. She had also known just what to do when Samsara would not listen to any of them. She stored all this information away in case it was needed later.

"Why would you be surprised? You always assume I am the bad guy," Medea answered.

"Perhaps because half the time, you are," the Teloan crossed her arms. "Don't think I don't know what goes on when I'm on Olympus. I do check up on you every so often."

"Yeah, that's another thing, Goddess, if you've been checking up on us 'every so often,' as you say, then why didn't you stop this from happening?"

Celosia shot a look at her sister. "Now is not the time for this, Medea," she said sternly.

"And how about this: what's with these warriors running around wreaking havoc on the rest of the known world, huh? They leave that mark you leave. What is it?"

"Medea!" Celosia stressed. "Enough! It's not as if you aren't under suspicion yourself. This is not the time--"

"And when is it time, huh, dear sister? When is it time for her to answer for what she’s done and not done?" The angry Regent pointed at the Goddess. "She isn't even part of our tribe! Celosia accepts her with open arms and puts her in her high position. It took me years to get where I am now and the only reason I'm not any higher is because my mother passed me over for queen. If I were queen . . ."

Samsara laughed. "I seem to recall that you are in similar straits, demon goddess."

Medea snarled. That was it. She had enough. She drew her sword and pointed it at Samsara.

"You challenging me?" the Goddess scoffed. "Remember, that even this -" she fingered her hind's blood pendant, "- can't kill me. Your measly piece of metal won’t do a thing."

Celosia, Vorgeen, Dolphinea pulled out their weapons and turned on Medea. "Put it down, Medea," Celosia said calmly to her sister. "We can settle this later if you want, but right now, we have bigger fish to fry."

Medea sheathed her blade, eyeing Samsara still. The others followed her example, but the tension around the group did not ease. The Regent cracked her neck and tried to relax, but found it was impossible.

Celosia started to address the assembled when the bigger fish came riding through their gates. Aelia and Ursa rode in carrying their crossbows and followed by a Teloan entourage.

Samsara smiled, at the ridiculous, and pompous, entrance. She always knows how to put on a show, she thought. The envoy had always been fond of the flashy and decadent, flaunting her power and riches.

The Highlanders and the Themiscyrans parted rank for the Teloan envoy. She entered in a chariot flanked by two of her Imperial Guard, who themselves were flanked by two more Imperial Guard on gray horses. Two more sharpshooters followed the chariot.

They reached the central fire of the village where the impromptu council was taking place. Celosia, the two elder Amazons, Medea and Vorgeen bowed their heads in respect. Samsara bowed from the waist, offering a quiet homage. Jadea watched with interested eyes as the white-haired woman came toward the group.

She wore a silver colored silk toga and matching silver-toned sandals on her small feet. Her hair was in a simple, single thick braid that came down over her right shoulder. Over the silver toga she wore a red wrap with the seal of Teloq: a Phoenix rising out of the fire.

"Celosia," she said. "We finally meet."

"Chief Elder Serena of Teloq," the Themiscryan Queen greeted the woman. "This is Queen Vorgeen of the Highland Amazons, Sorceress Empress Jadea, my Regent and blood sister Medea, Weapons Mistress Dolphinea of the Highland Amazons, Themiscyran elders Althea and Despina, and I believe you know the Goddess Samsara."

"So Lysippe passed her over for you," she said noting the tired look on Medea's face. She peered at her with a cocked head, then turning to Celosia. Serena was known for her no-nonsense, dry, aloof, and arrogant attitude. "I see she made the best decision. We have matters to discuss. Celosia, Vorgeen: as Queens of the Amazons here, you may come with me. Samsara, you hold your banished sister's title of High Guard, Leader of the Teloan Armed forces, as do you Dolphinea, for your respective tribe. Jadea, you are instrumental in this. You also may come with me. My Imperial Guard and the Elders with you will follow inside as well. As for the rest, what we must discuss is of no importance to you. Go prepare your weapons, should we need them."

Medea glared at the woman. "I am Regent of this tribe--"

"I'm not usurping my authority, if that is what you are insinuating, little one. You are simply not needed," with that, Serena turned and went inside, followed by the eleven Amazons she had designated.

Medea was fuming. Samara turned and smirked. Jadea looked at her niece disapprovingly as they went inside.

Sooner or later, Samsara, Medea vowed. Sooner or later.

Ardra took to the skies. Time to find Xena, if only to watch her.


Tern and Pelee were, as usual, the only ones bold enough to keep Themiscyra's Regent company while she raged. They followed her from the Village Square as she stormed off to her hut.

"STUPID--" Medea proceeded to shout the longest string of curses anyone in the village had ever heard. And the whole village heard them, even through the walls of her hut. "ERGH!!!!!" She ripped her sword through the side of her hut.

"Medea, you know that old bat's known for her-" Pelee began.

"Idiocy? Shortsightedness? That insolent -" again, she swore, this time in a language neither Tern nor Pelee recognized; which was odd, as Tern had taught the girl most of the languages she knew.

"You know, when you have to sleep in here tonight, you're going to regret that new window," Pelee stated, crossing her arms and observing. She smiled when Medea set into another fit of fury, this time dismantling an expertly crafted table given to her by a past teacher.

"Tsk, tsk, that was stupid. If you didn't like it, you could have given it to Celosia," the dark Amazon commented with her usual biting sarcasm. Tern shot her sister a warning look, a rare thing between the twins, and Pelee immediately held her tongue, somewhat chagrined.

The damage had already been done. Exhausted and alienated, Medea's eyes took an a strange glint. In a dangerously calm voice, the Regent advanced upon her antagonizer. "To Celosia. I could have given it to Celosia. Why of course, Pelee. How blatantly ignorant of me to destroy something my sister could have had. Hades, why don't I just pack up everything in here and give it to Celosia?"

"Medea-" Tern began, shaking her head.

"No, no, no! She's right, Tern! What do I need with all of this? I'm just the Regent! I'm not HALF of what SHE is! My belongings to Celosia! My hut, my bed, my SWORD to Celosia!" The blonde screamed, unsheathing her blade and whipping it to the ground.

"Medea!" Pelee spoke up, finally understanding the consequences of her dry comments. "Calm down!"

"NO! I will NOT calm down! Why should I? It's not like I have to set an example for the tribe! I'm just the REGENT!"

"STOP THIS! You're behaving like a child!" Tern shouted back at her, catching the Regent by surprise. It wasn't very often Tern yelled, but when she did, people listened.

Medea stopped her tirade and stared, dazed. "Thank you! Now listen. You can either sit in here and scream, making a brat of yourself, or you can get out of this tent and do something about your situation! For Artemis' sake, what are you accomplishing by attacking your own things?"

The younger Amazon turned her head away angrily and glared at nothing. "Like what?" she finally growled through the heavy tension. "I've been denied access to the meeting. I don't need to be jailed again, Tern! I'm too tired for that crap..." She was. Nobody knew, but Themiscyra's Regent hadn't slept in the last three days, having been too worried about her tribe.

"Then sleep. Regroup. Find out what went on at the meeting from your sister," Medea snarled ferociously at the comment, "and do something about it," Tern finished hurriedly. She folded her arms and exchanged a serious look with her friend. "You've never let one Amazon stand in your way before," she reasoned soothingly.

Medea sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "Yeah, you're right," she admitted. At least partially right, anyhow. "But I'm not going to sleep."

Tern began to protest.

"I can't, okay?" the Regent snapped. "I'm heading out to the training grounds, let off a little steam." She snatched up her sword and half-smirked at the anxious looks on both of her friend's faces. "It isn't Celosia's yet," she told them quietly and exited the tent.


Serena peered across the table at the Themiscyran and Highland queens, her Imperial Guard flanking her. "So," she said. "I understand we are under attack. It's imperative that we mobilize our forces to stop this before it starts."

Serena liked to take charge. As a child, she knew she would hold the position she was in now - Chief Elder of the Pentad, Domestic Queen of Amazonia. In Teloan fashion, this title was not hereditary, as was its counterpart, so she had to beat out other contenders. She played her game and got what she wanted, and now she was wielding her power. The only way to curb her was to get the Triumvirate -- the Queen (in this case Regent Ephiny), the Second-in-Command (Solari, at odds with Samsara), and the Leader of the Armed Forces (at this time Samsara).

The Goddess wasn't sure if she wanted Serena to do anything. When she demanded an envoy, she hoped that Ephiny would come, but perhaps Serena talked her out of such an endeavor.

She had this planned all along, Samsara thought. She must have planned to get into a situation like this. Solari would never agree with me on anything! She was slowly becoming angry.

The joust for High Guard was a complete sham. It didn't matter who lost, because Serena won no matter what the decision. It was more to her advantage to have someone as agitating as Kaia for High Guard with Samsara as the High Princess to "control" her wayward tendencies. In the event that Kaia Kakistos should leave the tribe -- she was banished for the span of Ephiny's life -- Samsara would take control of the position, but still would have to submit because of Solari, Serena's trump card.

The Goddess shook her head. This theory only made sense in her head.

"What do you suggest we do," Vorgeen commented. "We have three armies, we should probably attack from three sides, should we not?"

"Not necessarily," Jadea responded. "I think they want us separated. The Majie are counting on some weakness."

If they want Xena -- it was Ardra from where ever she was -- maybe we shouldn't attack. I'm still looking for her. Should I drop a sign that you want to see her?

Well, when she sees you in the skies circling her, she'll realize something's amiss. Hold off until I let you know. It depends on this meeting. Jadea was not fond of Serena but she had to work with her. She hated the confines of the situation, but Seriana needed to be avenged.

Serena looked at Jadea and continued. "And what of this new development in our High Princess' acts and labors? Surely with your new goddess powers, you can circumvent this Majie's control."

"I'm no match for them," the Goddess answered.

"Perhaps we should speak at length about this new development when this is over," Serena said with a hint of sarcasm in her voice. Changing her attitude like lightning, she went back to the situation. "And what of this Swift Blazer and Thalia, Celosia? I understand they have knowledge about these assassins?"

"We sent for them..."

A knock on the door proved to be Valkyra. An Imperial Guard at the entrance let the Weapons Master through. "I'm sorry to be abrupt, Celosia," she said. She turned to Chief Elder and lowered her head slightly. "I am Valkyra, Warrior Woman of the Caucus Mountains, Weapon's Master."

"Serena, Chief Elder of the Teloan Pentad, Domestic Queen of Amazonia."

The fair blonde turned to Celosia. "Thalia is here, but I can't find Swift Blazer," the admission was embarrassing. Swift Blazer was her apprentice and the idea that a mentor had no idea where the apprentice could be - was appalling. "I have no idea where she could be."

Celosia frowned at her Weapons Mistress. "Find her, then," she said sternly.

Valkyra heard the unspoken, "And don’t come back until you do," and saluted the Queen.

Thalia walked in as Valkyra stepped out. Serena stood and walked to the biomorph. She lifted Thalia's shirt on her side and her eyes opened wide. "It is..." she whispered to no one in particular.

"What is it?" Despina, a Themiscyran Elder, queried.

"The warning signs were here," she turned to Samsara, livid. "You obviously saw this. Why didn't you investigate it?" she demanded. "Do you realize you could have prevented this from happening?"

Samsara stood, angry herself. She had investigated it. In fact, it was one of the things she did before searching for Medea, Tern, and Xanthea when Medea was still under Ares' spell.

The Goddess turned around and knelt to Thalia's level. She touched the wound and made sure it closed completely before she removed it. She turned her palm skyward and examined it. "Just as I thought..." She bowed to the Queen. "I shall investigate this further with your permission," she said.

She had found maggots in her hand, testament to a disease within the tribe perpetuated by outside forces. However, when she had searched the forests with Prince, she had found nothing. And that is what she told Serena. "I found nothing," she said. "I searched the forests and checked the trails and I found no sign of them."

"Why didn't you inform Celosia, Queen of this tribe I sent you to?" Serena wasn't going to let her get away with this one, not now.

"I didn't feel it necessary, considering the circumstances," the Princess-Heiress answered in a strained voice.

Jadea put a hand on her wrist to restrain her. Calm down, Niece, she commanded. You know how she is, and this isn't the time for you to throw a temper tantrum. You're a princess, High Guard, Goddess, and AMAZON. Act like one.

"That's not the matter now," Vorgeen said. "We have to discuss what plan we have to combat the Majie."

Serena ordered Thalia bound and gagged. One word and Serena would see to it that the Head Scout's life would be miserable. Thalia agreed, if reluctantly. She still had the mysterious reappearance of Garrett to deal with. There was little else she could do as she was dismissed from the council chamber.

"What do you know of these Majie?" the Chief Elder of the Teloan Pentad questioned the Sorceress Empress.

This would take a while.





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