Mischief & Mayhem


Thalia fumed. What had happened? A fellow sister had attacked her? Not only that, she was MAJIE?! How could this have happened? They had let a Majie in their midst, who had tried to attack them. She should have known it was the Amazon who they would least expect- the one who hid in the background. Even now, she couldn't believe who it was.


Maylee, the quiet Amazon, she'd been in the tribe for months now. Everyone always figured she didn't talk much, while all this time she was spying on them and working within the ranks. What was next?

At least the traitor was out in the open, they knew who she was now. The only thing that bothered her was that this Majie had to be powerful. Not only had she manipulated the Amazons, she had survived the attack by Samsara. Maylee clearly had more power than the others. Only now, would she still pursue the Amazons? Lying in wait to attack, or come in subtle as her first plan was?

Thalia shook her head. She needed rest. First, though, she would talk to Celosia. She needed to vent a little bit.


"Attention! Amazons!" Celosia was having trouble getting her sisters' attentions. She stood there holding her staff, tapping her fingers against the oak impatiently. Finally, annoyed beyond control, she twirled her staff and hit the out of tune gong that was the last resort. As the last tones reverberated across the common area, the Amazons released their ears and quieted down.

"Thank you sisters, for gathering here today. I know many of us are still recovering from our battle with the Majie," she paused as collective groans arose from the crowd. "But I do want to congratulate you all on a job well done." She clapped her hands and soon the entire tribe was raucous with cheers. Celosia held up her hand and after a few seconds the noise died down.

"I want to recognize Samsara, Jadea, Thalia, Medea, and Seriana for their extensive help to the tribe," Celosia continued. Seriana dug her toe into the ground, Medea beamed, Thalia blushed, and Jadea smiled. "All of you have done a wonderful job." She took a deep breath as she knew her next announcement would rock the group.

"While all of you are my family... the time has come for me to leave-" Shouts arose from the entire tribe. Celosia tried to quiet them down, but after a few minutes, she twirled the staff again and poised to hit the gong. All Amazons became silent.

"It is traditional for the Queen of a tribe to go on a Nok'tana - a pilgrimage. Most complete the journey while a Princess or an Heiress of the tribe. I, however, was unable to due to Lysippe's constant absence. Now is the time for me to take this journey."

Medea almost said something, but Seriana beat her to it. "Who will rule in your absence?" This question was echoed throughout the tribe.

Celosia nodded. "I have asked myself this question. Traditionally, when a Queen leaves the tribe for whatever reason, the Regent or her heir takes over. As I have no heir - yet - that would leave Medea in charge." Dissent voiced itself in mumbles. "However, my faith in Medea as a leader hasn't spread throughout the tribe. I know Medea is often headstrong and temperamental, but she is also loyal to the tribe and would serve you well. To appease the feelings for those of you who aren't so confident in Medea's abilities, I have decided that she and Jadea will jointly - let me repeat that, jointly - rule in my absence."

Jadea and Medea stared at each other in shock. "I am confident in their abilities as leaders, and I hope that my confidence in them is carried over by all of you." She paused to let that sink in. "I leave at sun up. Any questions can be voiced after I meet with Medea and Jadea in my hut. Except for the two of them, you are dismissed." Celosia placed her staff at the edge of the platform and jumped off. She turned around, grabbed her staff, then turned back to Medea and Jade.

"You two, follow me," she said as she stalked back to her tent. The other two followed a few paces behind, not really together. They walked into the Queen's hut, and Celosia walked over to her bed. She reached down and picked up her sack.

"Why-" Medea began.

"Because I have to. I have to do this Medea," Celosia stopped putting things in her sack and walked over to face her sister and Jadea. "The Nok'tana is such a huge part of being Queen. You know. You were trained for this as much as I was."

Hurt yet again by the reference to the fact that her mother didn't think her good enough to rule, Medea turned to the side and started fiddling with her daggers. "You're already Queen. You shouldn't leave the tribe," she said finally. She twirled back to face her sister, tears dampening her eyes. "And why do I have to co-rule? If you're going to leave cause it's the right thing to do, then do the right thing and let me rule by myself!"

Jadea decided to interject. "Celosia's right Medea. I'm not saying this because I want to co-rule - I know that ruling the tribe in your sister's absence is what you were meant to do. But you don't have the entire tribe's support. Until you do..." She shrugged.

"The best way to gain their support is to show them you can lead them, but you need someone they \trust in there with you to start," Celosia finished. Medea stayed silent.

Celosia turned back to Jadea. "Jadea, you understand what I am asking of you, correct? No Amazon is to leave the village unless it is an emergency. Send Ardra to me if you need me." And telepathy is a last resort. The entire purpose of a Nok’tana is that the Queen discover herself.

Jadea nodded. "I understand." She held out her hand and clasped Celosia's forearm. "May the Gods smile upon you, my Queen," she said before releasing Celosia and leaving the tent.

Celosia took a deep breath, then turned to Medea. Gently placing one hand on her sister's shoulder, she turned Medea to face her. "This is something I have to do, sis. I know you don't like it right now. Hopefully when it's time for you to go on your own journey, you'll understand better." Medea didn't say anything. Celosia turned back to her pallet and continued to pack her things.

Medea turned and watched her for a second. She swallowed hard. "Sis?" Celosia looked over her shoulder and straightened. Medea ran over and hugged her. "You be careful." Celosia smiled and hugged Medea back. Medea broke first, smiled weakly, then stormed out of the hut.

Celosia turned back to her packing. "I feel sorry for Seriana. She's going to get the brunt of this outpouring of emotions."


As Celosia continued packing, she stopped for a moment and called one of her guards, "Trynka, I would like you to go get Valkyra. Tell her that I wish to speak to her."

Soon Valkyra came to Celosia’s hut and said, "Queen Celosia, I was told that you wished to speak to me."

"Yes, I had wanted to take care of this task sooner but because we became involved in our battle with the Majie, I had to delay the task." She paused with a sigh as she looked at one of her garments.

With Celosia’s pause, Valkyra could see that she was still caught up in her earlier thoughts about her decision to let Medea and Jadea rule jointly. However, Valkyra knew that Celosia’s thoughts were private and she shouldn’t pry. She stood quietly as she waited for Lysippe’s eldest daughter to explain the reason that she wanted to see the woman warrior from the Caucasus.

"At present time, Leda, who was our tribe’s Primary Warrior, is now considered Themiscyra’s Weapons Mistress. Although Leda’s fighting skills are extraordinary, she’s become over confident in her ability and lax in her duties as weapons instructor. Apparently she has a troubled history of violence in her former tribe and that still haunts her. Instead of teaching the younger and inexperienced Amazons, she constantly fingers the two rubies that she possesses and she goes off hunting while she should be on duty."

Valkyra replied, "Nai, I have observed Leda’s strange behavior, but I knew that you would see into it."

"I have been tolerant because of her troubled past, but I can no longer do so, especially since I’m leaving on Nok’tana. Before I leave, I am relieving Leda from her primary position and I am appointing you as Themiscyra’s new Weapons Mistress."

Valkyra blinked in surprise, but said, "Efharisto tu, sumani Latra, I’ll do my best to live up to your confidence in me."

Latra Celosia smiled and said, "I’m sure you will. I have observed you and your fighting ability is extraordinary as well. Actually, if there were a match between you and Leda, I would put my dinars on you. That’s all, Valkyra. I’ll have Medea tell Leda what has occurred."

As the new Weapons Mistress turned to leave, Celosia said, "One more thing, I have a feeling that Leda will be resentful of you now. So watch your back."

"I shall, my Latra; I always do." replied the Warrior Woman of the Caucasus Mountains. She added, "Good journey! Good Nok’tana!"


Sitting on her throne on Olympus, toying with her hind's blood pendant, Samsara shook her head. "Celosia... leaving?" she questioned aloud.

It concerned her more than Dachus going around tearing up little villages. And oh, Dachus was tearin' them up, but she chose not to dwell on that right now. Samsara crossed her legs as she watched the viewing bowl and smiled.

The gods were smart enough to let her alone. Yeah, sure, she was pissed that Ares made a trade, Kaia for mantle and godhood, but Jadea's task was noble. Nobility was a big thing for the Goddess.

She watched as Medea hugged her sister with teary eyes. The Goddess laughed. "And you made us all think you were incapable of emotions outside of hate. Tch, tch. There are ways for me to expose you. Besides. It'll be for your own good," she smiled from ear to ear at the thought of doing something for Medea's own good.

Discord appeared. "Talking to yourself are we?" she commented.

Samsara looked from the viewing bowl to her. "You push your luck, lady. But perhaps we could be of use to each other?" Not only was Samsara going to expose Medea, but she was going to show Discord up.

"BAH!" the dark-haired woman scoffed. "You're responsible for getting my kid stuck there in the midst of those Amazons!"

"Hey, remember you left her in Teloan territory. I, the Amazon, found her." She stuck out her tongue. "Let's wreak mutual fun havoc without violence?"

Discord peered at her. "And what's with your change in demeanor?"

Samsara chuckled. "Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Besides, I need to pick up my horse."


While a wide-felt shock reverberated through the Amazons, Jadea retreated to her hut for a few moments to herself. Two of her Queens had just recently made unforeseeable decisions. Ironically, their decision had been the same one, only at different times.

Queen Celosia's announcement left the Sorceress Empress with a sick knot in the pit of her stomach. She'd felt this exact sensation only three times before; that last day in Cirra when she'd lost her family, the day her man had betrayed her and she'd lost, and the day she learned of Rumyna's death.

Sitting in a chair, she clutched her stomach and leaned over. Jadea felt weak now. She didn't know if she could do all that her Queen had asked of her. And knowing that she had to try was of little comfort this time. The Sorceress was certain that Medea would not welcome her input, let alone share the responsibility of ruling an Amazon tribe.

Outside, she heard footsteps approach her hut. They were too heavy to be young, and too close together to be male.

Antigone's gentle voice came through the doorway. "Jadea? May I come in?"

Jadea straightened herself out and got to her feet. She couldn't let herself be seen this way. The number of people who'd seen her like this could be counted on one hand. Clearing her throat, she answered lightly, "Come in, Sister."

The Huntress stepped inside and noted that Jadea looked as if she'd just left another world. She drove away the thought, however. "I was just wondering if I might have a word with you."

Jadea smiled and nodded, her eyes shining. "Of course. Please, sit down."

Antigone shook her head. "No, thank you. I'm all right with standing," she replied politely.

Jadea nodded, "As you will. Now, tell me...what's on your mind?"

In her head, Jadea was fighting another train of thought. Her inevitable meeting with Medea. No doubt, Medea would try to put it off as long as either of them could. Antigone's expression of unspoken concern helped to keep Jadea focused.

"Well, it's this whole business with Celosia leaving. Some of the Amazons are talking. They don't believe she's really going to leave us. Some say she's just playing a trick," Antigone commented, her tone sounding as sad as the rumors she'd heard. She looked into Jadea's eyes for the truth. There, she found what she'd suspected from the instant Celosia had delivered her announcement.

"I wish I could say that they're right," Jadea admitted and then paused, looking as though she might say something else. Whatever that might have been, it went unsaid.

"Do you-" Antigone started but cut herself off. She found it difficult to hear her voice right now. "Do you think she'll return?"

A tranquil silence fell between them then. Jadea gazed at her younger Sister. She saw something in Antigone, something she could see in each of her Sisters. It was a kind of strength beyond the description of any words. At last, and with a clear but soft voice, the Amazon sorceress answered. "No, I don't." A moment passed during which Antigone gave a stunned look. It quickly faded when Jadea added, "I know she will."

In those few but sincere words, Antigone found Jadea's strong confidence in the Amazons and in fate. The Sorceress didn't know it, but in that brief and simple gesture...she'd laid to rest Antigone's reservations about her Sisters overcoming the odds that faced them. Antigone smiled genuinely then stated she had some chores to do. As she moved to leave, Jadea called out her name. The Amazon looked back as if to say "yes?"

"Medea, she's...she's not that bad. I mean," Jadea found herself at a loss for words. Her eyes became thoughtful almost. "She's strong and she cares."

Somehow, Antigone understood what Jadea was trying to say. The latter felt terrible about the Regent's reputation among the Amazons. Even while Medea seemed to thrive on her own headstrong, mean-spirited reputation...at times, it was painfully clear that she bitterly resented it - and maybe herself for it.

The Amazon nodded gently with a soft smile on her face. Her agreement shined in her eyes. "I believe Queen Medea has potential." And with that, Antigone took her leave. Little did she know that her last words would have an affect on Jadea.

The Sorceress sat back down, a distant look in her eyes. Medea has potential, she repeated to herself. That she agreed with this didn't surprise her. What did, though, was that she found herself realizing she wasn't the only Amazon, outside Celosia, of course, who believed in Medea.

It was in this pondering and reminiscing state that Medea found her co-ruler. Upon her entry, she'd expected some form of recognition. But Jadea simply stared into the space, lost in whatever world of thought she was in.

When Medea cleared her throat, Jadea jerked her head somewhat and lifted her eyes to the standing woman. "Oh, I'm sorry. I was just..." Her voice trailed off.

"Yeah, me too." Medea remarked.

She felt about as blindsided as Jadea, neither of them knowing what to make of this. It all seemed to be happening so fast. And both of them had asked themselves how long Celosia had been planning this? Had she intended to go before the Majie threat? Had she planned to take this journey time and time again - but each time, some danger or other obstacle had prevented her?

And neither the Regent Queen nor the Sorceress Empress were thoroughly convinced they could pull this off. Both had confidence, in themselves & in their Sisters. But this ? This was...something new.

"So, what do ya think?" Medea asked after a minute. Jadea looked up and smiled as if she'd just slain her mortal enemy.

"What do I think? I think we have a tribe to govern and protect. So we'd best get out there before they try to ambush your sister."

Medea chuckled. "Ya know, that's not a bad idea - for a sorceress."

Jadea laughed and shook her head. "Thanks, I try."


Medea left to take some time to adjust to all the new ideas that had suddenly hit her. As soon as she slipped out of Jadea's hut, Seriana stepped up and requested entrance.

Jadea, mentally sighing, called that she could enter.

"Got a minute?" Seri asked, poking her head in the door.

"Too many. Have a seat."

Seri proceeded to do so. "I just came to ask if you have some black thread."

Jadea looked at her askance. "The Queen is leaving and you're asking about black thread."

"Well, she's confined us to the village and hunting grounds. I need to do something to keep my fingers busy, and I need thread. But it's only one reason that I came."

Jadea smiled a little. "Somehow, I'm not surprised. You're not too happy with this arrangement, are you?"

"Well, no . . . I mean, it could be worse, but it could also be a great deal better. The Queen expects me to acknowledge Medea as co-Queen. Medea! The woman tried to sacrifice me before I'd been here a week. She hates me."

"You seem to respond in kind."

"I'm not a saint, Jade. I'm a warrior. I may try to be like Thalia, see the best in people, but I don't forgive easily. Neither you nor Celosia nor Artemis herself can ask that of me."

"No one's asking you to forgive her. Only to respect her, because of her blood. No one understands the importance of blood more than you."

Seriana looked down at her folded hands and visualized the blood running through them. Half was Ritani's, giving her her appearance and her religion. Half was Ares', and it gave her the ability to hate that was now surfacing so strongly in her.

Finally she nodded. "I do know the power of blood."

"Then you will acknowledge Queen Medea. It's your responsibility . . . and it's her chance to grow up a little, get her feet on the ground."

Seriana stood up. "I will acknowledge her," she said, her voice tight with restrained frustration, "Because I am Amazon. But I cannot respect her, I cannot trust her, and I cannot call her my sister."

Jadea sighed. "As you will." She tossed a small wooden spool at her niece. "And keep your fingers busy with this instead of your dagger."


A large hawk soared in the air, scanning the land below. She followed what she suspected would be Celosia's trail. The Queen had yet to leave, but her time was drawing ever nearer. In fact, to the best knowledge of the Amazons she'd already left them.

At her Mistress' request, Ardra was currently scouting the immediate area outside Themiscyra - in all directions. She made several circles at various points and back tracked a few times. Despite her faint hope that some danger would jump out and threaten the Amazons, thereby forcing Celosia to remain, Ardra found none whatsoever.

The valley was peaceful in a humble kind of way. A light warm breeze blew in the sky, and Ardra began to remember how simple her existence had been once. A voice invaded her mind, cutting through her private thoughts.

Jade wants you back.

It was Angus. Of course. If his thought hadn't sounded so plainly polite, the hawk may have used a colorful remark.

Entering the Amazon forest, Ardra spotted some of the children playing. Two or three seemed they were involved in some kind of "tag." Several had divided into teams and were competing in one of the many training games the Amazons used for teaching young ones to fight.

Ardra found Angus and landed beside him. He was gazing at some passing Amazons, a thoughtful spell in his eyes.

"Find anythin'?" He asked without looking at her. She caught a slight dose of hopefulness in his voice.

I tried, but nothing, she quietly answered and sighed.

"Better face it, Sister...we're here for long run."

Ardra gave him a baffled look. She only half understood what he meant; the rest was too terrifying for her to want clarification. She flew off to report her lack of news to Jadea.


Seriana formed a slight grin. "I'll try."

As she left, Jadea again fell into a distant mode. So far, the Amazons were taking this well. No fights had broken out, nor wars nor floods nor draughts - nor any major problems.

Jadea, all is clear on the home front, her hawk reported from outside.

The Sorceress replied with, "I expected none."

Orders? Ardra asked when Jadea failed to say anything else. A long pause.

Just look after the Amazons. Relax, if you wish, she sent back, and walked out.

Along the way, Jadea ran across Valkyra in the middle of a demonstration. The sorceress stopped to watch.


The demonstration was a technique for shooting a bow while still carrying a shield for protection during a battle. Valkyra was teaching a few of the newer and younger Amazons who wished to improve their archery skills. When she noticed Jadea watching, she became slightly nervous. Valkyra was always a little shy when she had to perform in front of others of higher rank. She hated being a show-off and tried her best to be as modest as possible. She thought to herself, “I hope I don’t miss the bull’s-eye. That would be very embarrassing with Jadea and the others watching.” Of course in reality, it would be highly unusual for her to miss with she being as skilled as she was.

Valkyra carried her round luminous shield on her left arm as she held the bow with her left hand. Without looking, she pulled an arrow from the quiver on her back and notched it onto the bowstring. As she slowly pulled the string back to her anchor point, she checked her point of aim and raised her left arm slightly to allow for the weight of the shield. The target, only thirty paces away, was an enemy made of straw with a small piece of red painted parchment attached where the heart would be. After quickly noting the wind direction and holding her breath, she let her arrow fly dead center into the straw enemy’s heart. Valkyra then quickly pulled her shield in front of her as Antigone shot an arrow directly at her. As the arrow bounced off her shield, her students gasped. The demonstration was a success. Valkyra sighed and smiled as her audience applauded. She was pleased that Jadea smiled at her. Valkyra then went to thank Antigone for shooting at her as prearranged.


The Goddess discussed her plan with Discord, leaving out the important parts that would lead to the Goddess of Mayhem's exposure. She noticed that Ardra left to make rounds across Themiscyra's borders, but it was about that time when the enemies were waning. Evil came in tandem, like waves on the shore. Besides, Samsara made sure that Dachus kept whatever enemies there were at bay. It gave her more time to decide what trick to play on Medea. Jadea would find out but somehow she would be too busy cleaning up the aftermath that she couldn't do anything.

Discord smiled. "This is all so long as you get Kaia out of there right?"

"As long as you stick to the plan, perhaps," Samsara responded. She smiled. "It's almost a pleasure doing business with you, Discord."

"Likewise," Discord answered, putting her hands on her hips. She disappeared with the sound of yowling cats.

Samsara cupped her chin. "Hmm... maybe I should decree that no god may appear or disappear, that they instead walk right in." She mused as she turned around and slowly vanished.

It was afternoon when Samsara arrived in Themiscyra. She was cloaked in invisibility. Some noticed a presence but could not place who it was that stood among them. But the Amazons knew the threat was gone for now, and took solace in the fact that despite Celosia's abrupt leave, that Artemis or Samsara or both were protecting them. Samsara knew that it was really Dachus' work but the tribe had know way to know this.

She walked around until she found Medea, who had so graciously decided to show the young ones her own moves. Actually she was taking to the charge of "co-Queen" better than expected. She was being slightly nicer, but her air was still present.

"Weapons Mistress!" she called. She had two sets of chobos, one of which she tossed to a flustered Valkyra. "How about we demonstrate to the young ones the art of defense?"

Samsara cocked an eyebrow. Hmm.... She crossed her arms and stood among the crowd.

The fight was entertaining. Medea got some good shots in, and Valkyra was good, but it was Samsara dashing in here and there that kept things moving. She finally stole a chobos from the Queen Regent, laughing maniacally in her head as the weapon seemed to fly from Medea's hand.

And for some reason, Medea kept from getting angry. Well, at first she was angry. "WHAT THE HADES!" were some of her cries until finally she tossed the chobos into the air and over and behind her. "You know what? I give up." Samsara handed them right back to her. She pointed at the young ones who could not contain their laughter. "Yeah, you laugh now, but this is all part of the element of..." she continued, jumping up in the air as she finished with, "surprise! AHH!"

Somehow she jumped to kick Valkyra, but was pulled down and never made it forward. She landed on the ground on her bum, dust rising from the loud thud! she made. She looked around again, as the laughter increased. She stood.

"Fine. Fine, you laugh. Keep laughing. I'll get you!" She laughed herself... slightly, then stifled the laugh and rushed off.


Mischief and mayhem were a part of an Amazon's daily life. Some days held a greater amount than others, but life for an Amazon was anything but dull and ordinary.

The Sorceress Empress left abruptly after Valkyra's successful demonstration. It was not noted that her departure came within relative immediate timing of Medea's arrival. Where the new Queen partook of Valkyra's training exhibition.

Medea and her co-ruler were thus far having no frictions between them. That they spent time and distance apart may be a variable in this rarity of shared rule between them. Queen Medea and Jadea were of like mind more often than either of them would have ever admitted to themselves, much less to each other. Since jointly ruling Themiscyra was working with the two of them apart, they did nothing to alter the state of affairs.

The Sorceress Empress walked around various Amazon huts, no particular destination in mind. She heard loud laughter in the direction she'd just come from. A smile made its shape on her face. She shook her head from side to side.

"Maybe Celosia does know what she's doing after all." Jadea mused aloud in the belief that she was alone. A slight chuckle shattered this belief though, and the sorceress turned her head to see her audience.

"Hello, Thalia," she greeted the Amazon with a smile suggestive of her present mood.

That was another thing that puzzled the Sorceress Empress, though. Since Celosia's announcement followed by the meeting and her departure, Jadea was experiencing some intense mood swings. As a sorceress, her time of the moon did not affect her as much as her Sisters and other females of the world. Yet still, her moods seemed to change like the wind. Some winds are kinder than others.

Thalia smiled back. "Jadea! You know it's not healthy to be off by yourself so much," the Head Scout commented as she came down around a tree and began walking in stride with the Sorceress.

"Ach, true. But not enough time by one's self can be just as unhealthy," Jadea remarked with a slight chuckle afterwards. She knew Thalia had come to her for a reason. Likely, she was taking after Seriana and trying to stay out Medea's path.

A few minutes passed between them as they journeyed through their forest. Jadea lead them through areas seldom visited by the Amazons. She loved the beauty Themiscyra possessed.

"Is it true?" Thalia asked, finally. She spoke plainly with the suspicion that Jadea knew to what she was referring. The Sorceress had a clue, at least.

"Is what true?" She questioned wonderingly.

"Garrett remains in the camp," Thalia stated inquisitively, though she believed she already knew the answer. The Scout had yet to see him since she'd returned.

"Aye. He's been with Angus, I believe," Jadea answered, making a short pause before she added, "If you want to see him, I can tell you where they are."

Thalia shook her head quietly. "No, it's all right. I'll talk to him later tonight."

Another short length of silence. Jadea felt the meaning that Thalia left unspoken. She'd been in the Amazon's place before. Loving a man was never easy for an Amazon. Her loyalties, her thoughts, her feelings...all became increasingly hard to sort through and see clearly.

But there was something else here, too. Jadea sensed a secret that Thalia kept from her Sisters. The Sorceress Empress didn't pry. She believed in allowing others the right to their privacy...provided that whatever they kept private didn't threaten their lives or those of others. Even with this belief, however, Jadea found that the matter was gray.

The Sorceress cleared her throat softly. "Queen Medea is planning a celebration for tonight. Nothing elaborate, mind you. In fact, it's meant to be a surprise. So, don't let it get back to her that I told," she said in a light tone as they slowed their pace.

Thalia nodded, her smile returning. "I won't, promise."

Jadea laughed and grinned. "Good."

As they continued on again, this time heading back toward camp, Thalia became quiet. Jadea suspected that the Amazon scout, like herself, just wanted a peaceful stroll.

Upon reaching camp, Thalia went off and left Jadea to see to Queen Medea's "preparations." Since the festival was to be a surprise for the Amazons, Medea was relying on Jadea's powers, and those of a selected few other Amazons, to put everything in place. It wouldn't be easy, and the decor involved a lot of cloaking so others couldn't see.


Many of the Highlanders and Themiscyrans were in a clearing where they staged foot races. Some bets were placed with wagers like - "If Alex wins, then you have to take my turn at cleaning the barns!" And... "Okay, but if Leda wins, then you have to do my share of cooking for a week." Usually this was followed by either - "You're on!" Or - "Hey, that's not fair!"

On the training ground, as always, stood a number of Amazons vigorously practicing combat or repetitively performing a move to gain master of it. Here, one could occasionally spot an Amazon executing some gymnastic moves - always worth watching

Still, other Amazons took to busying themselves with scrolls or garden work or, like Seri, some sewing. All in all, the Amazons were taking to being confined to their own lands well. But then again, this was the first day. Eventually the Amazons were bound to get restless.


Little did Themiscyra know that one of their own had no intention of letting these women become bored.

Jadea had been sensing Samsara for hours now. The two had a strong link because of Callisto. The latter named may have been dead but her memory, much like her past crimes and deeds, lived on. And the Sorceress Empress knew that Samsara would soon make a move. What the Sorceress Empress didn't know was that her niece had already made one. But when she found out, what angered her most was that she hadn't picked up on anything.

The Goddess of Destruction simply waltzed into the camp and began messing with the Queen Regent Medea.


Queen Medea observed the festivities, trying to appear passive and relatively uninterested. Certainly she enjoyed fighting and feasting and dancing and singing as much as the next Amazon, but Queens weren't supposed to behave that way. A Queen was supposed to be dignified and collected and after whatever had happened during her demonstration to the young one's earlier, she wasn't sure she wanted to make her presence overly apparent.

The platinum blonde looked over her shoulder with a jump as she felt a breeze graze her back. "Who--" she began to query, but stopped herself with a harsh expression. There is NOTHING there you moron! she screamed at herself, glaring at the hands that had automatically seized her daggers at the sense of a threat. She tossed her head fiercely. What in Hades is WRONG with me? Gods above...Celosia leaves me in charge of the tribe-

Co-charge, an annoying little part of her mind chirped cheerfully.

Shut up you, she answered it. It occurred to the Queen/Regent that conversations with herself were odd, especially with voices only she could hear in her head.

"Artemis...maybe I'm going mad?" she muttered resignedly and slipped off into the shadows, destination uncertain.

In the center of the village Antigone and Karyn circled each other with flickering grins.

"You're going down, sister!" Karyn promised as she lunged forward to throw Antigone.

Antigone sidestepped the move neatly. "You'll have to do better than that!" she laughed, swiftly dropping to the ground and swiping her opponent's legs out from under her with a precisely aimed kick. Karyn thudded to the dirt with a grimace. The half of the crowd who had been rooting for Antigone cheered. The other half booed loudly.

"Looks like some one's going to be doing a lot of cooking this month, Dolphinea!"

"Oh just you wait Léda! *I'm* not the one who's going to be roasting venison."

"Oh really?" Léda asked smugly. "What makes you so sure?" A loud tumult of exclamations erupted.

Dolphinea beamed, eyes alive as she watched the fight. "Because Karyn just made a comeback! GO KARYN!"


Seri came out to watch the fights, her heavy black cloak draped over her arm and a collection of spools in her hand. Embroidery was perhaps not the most dignified of pursuits for an Amazon warrior, but it was useful and it kept fidgeting fingers busy. She took a seat on one of the benches surrounding the training field and spread the cloak over her knees. "Good girl, Antigone!" she shouted to the battle. "Keep it up, hang on!"

Medea, also watching the fight, suddenly jumped sideways and looked around.

Seri started for a moment, then relaxed as she studied the ground around Medea's feet. "Thalia!" she called to her best friend. "Can I borrow you for a second?"

"Sure, Seri," she sat down on the bench, keeping one eye on the fight. "What do you need?"

"Can I borrow some magic from you? I need to talk to someone. I promise I'll be as quick as I can."

Thalia, being a biomorph, generated her own magical energy to power her changes and her mental voice. Seri could use magic as well as the average god but generated none of her own.

"What do I need to do?"

"Just open your mind."

Seri gently placed her three fingers on Thalia's temple, and her God's blood sucked greedily at the power flowing through the temporal artery, offered willingly by its wielder. She suppressed the hunger with pure force of will and took only a very little.

You really should leave her alone, Sami. She's the Queen, you know.

Samsara mentally groaned. How did you know?

I'm your big sister; I know everything, she let that sink in a moment then thought, Actually, you're leaving boot prints.

Oh! She began levitating six inches or so off the ground. Thanks for the tip.

Don't cause too much trouble, all right? Seri took her hand down and closed her mind before Samsara could answer. Thalia shook her head a little and opened her eyes.

"You okay?" Seriana asked urgently. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"

"No; I'm fine. Just a little dizzy."

"Okay. It'll clear in a minute, as soon as you recharge. Thanks. Hey, I think Antigone's got the upper hand again. Keep it up, girl!"

Thalia took another second to reorient her brain, then returned to watching the fight.


Discord paced around the waiting room, expecting Samsara to appear. She shook her head in frustration. After all, she usually led the way when it came to causing mayhem. But again and again, Samsara was usurping her authority as Master of War and she was quickly getting sick of it.

The Goddess Kakistos appeared within seconds. "You beckoned?" she said as she materialized. "I can hear your thoughts, you know."

Discord noticed that Samsara's eyes were still entirely black and her clothes were the same as when she had "killed" Kaia. She remembered that Samsara had stabbed her sister after uttering some incantation and hissing her name as a damnation. Now that the Goddess of Omens was back -- well "alive" or "present" or what you will -- she was docile, quiet, and removed.

Samsara knew that Discord noticed and smiled. She had absorbed most of the powers of the Goddess of Omens. She'd put the powers to good godly use, such as riling Medea. Letting the lesser Goddess notice the power, see it raw and still in the control of Samsara...well, that all part of some her plan to piss off Discord.

Discord gulped because she had used some choice words about Samsara and Callisto earlier. But she exhaled slowly and responded: "I was wondering what was going to happen next."

"You do the exact same thing."

Perfect. So long as Samsara kept up the act, Discord would be the one caught playing the tricks on Medea. Medea, being tricked, would calm down some and take the daily trials in stride. People would like her better.

Discord looked at her. "What precisely would you like me to do?"

"Well, as co-Queens, Jadea and Medea must add into a logbook of events every day even if there aren't any events to speak of. Every week they review such entries. Your job, since Medea is going about now to the hut, is to make her think that she's somewhat losing it. Don't make her think she's crazy. Just make her think that she needs to get with it." Samsara smiled. She liked the idea of pissing off the Queen Regent. Jade had a clue about what was going on, but the Sorceress was going to be too busy watching out for other things that she wouldn't really do much. In fact, it might even make her laugh some.

Seriana had clued her sister in, showing that she picked up Samsara's mark. The Master of War had to be careful next time.

"Now, get to it. You want Kaia back, don't you?"


Celosia was laying on her pallet thinking of her upcoming journey. She had no idea what to expect. Only knew that she had to do this.

What if Medea gets taken over by an evil goddess again? What if Jadea has to go for some reason? What if all your Amazons sprout wings and fly off to join Cupid's merry band of matchmakers? She sighed. It was obviously a little too late to worry about such matters.

She rolled over onto her back. The sounds of the festivities were going to keep her awake for a while. She might as well do something productive.

She sat up and pulled one of her short blades out of its sheath. She dug a rag out of her sack and began polishing the blade. The sounds of drums and shouts wafted through her tent and she smiled, glad that her tribe was finding joy even when most of them were confused about her leaving.

She rose and walked over to the tent flap. Pushing it aside slightly, she winced as the firelight hurt her eyes. After a few seconds though, she'd adjusted and was able to watch the goings-on.

Dolphinea and Karyn were both going at it like the warriors they were raised to be. She watched them, proud of the warriors they were and thankful to the wonderful teachers who had passed on their skills to them. She glanced around and saw her sisters watching the warriors excitedly. All except her own sister.

Medea probably thinks she's gotta be all tough and rigid right now, Celosia thought. She looked around her tent, saw a few pebbles, and picked them up. She lobbed one at Medea. The Queen was startled and started looking around wildly. Celosia lobbed another one and hit her sister in the forehead. EEP! Medea looked at her sister and glared.

"Sorry," Celosia mouthed. She looked at the merry makers and then back at Medea. Medea shrugged. Celosia's eyes narrowed, and she nodded toward the circle of Amazons. Then she started dancing a little in her tent, and Medea struggled to not laugh. Giving in, Medea rolled her eyes and strolled over to the mass of Amazons. Antigone immediately made room for her.

Smiling to herself, Celosia re-packed her rag and re-sheathed her blade. I'm not going to get any sleep tonight. I may as well head out. She strapped her blades across her back, hefted her pack up onto her back, and suspended her water skin over one shoulder. Sneaking out of her tent, she headed out through the gates toward the woods and off into the night. The guards at the gate watched her go.


Medea went into the tent to make an entry into the logbook. Celosia was out and on her journey.

Samsara watched in her viewing bowl as Discord appeared behind the Queen Regent. Medea opened the book and got her sister's ink and a quill to write with. She turned and Discord made her move. She took the logbook as quietly as she could and moved it across the room. Medea turned back and saw the book missing and grunted. Then, whipping around, she was flabbergasted to see it someplace else. She walked toward it and picked it up again to place on the table and once she was done with that the ink bottle and quill were gone. Discord had moved them.

The only person she could think of that had the capacity to do it was... Thalia. She snarled and marched out of the tent. "THALIA!" she screamed.

The Head Scout turned around. "Yes, Queen Regent?" She was with Jadea and they had been chatting for half a candle mark.

Medea looked at the two of them. She lifted an index finger and pointed it at the both of them. "You..." She couldn't muster up the words to say anything. She realized Thalia had been with Jadea for a while and couldn't have possibly done anything in the tent.

She kept her finger raised to a very stunned Head Scout and co-Queen. "Oooh, get back to work!" she snarled, turning around and heading back into the tent.

Samsara chuckled. Then she focused on Angus, who was hanging out with Garrett. She cupped her chin. She had another idea and grinned from ear to ear.

Before she could stand, in came Ares. "Samsara, we need to talk," he growled.

She laughed. "Not now, Father." She stood up and walked past him. "And only when I, Master of War, say so." She teleported to Cupid's area. Both Cupid and Aphrodite were gone. She saw one of his bows on the wall and smiled.

Oh she had a really good idea now...


It didn't take an oracle to read the flabbergasted look Queen Medea wore. Jadea and Thalia exchanged glances, each of them questioning the other for something that neither of them knew.

"I'll be right back," the sorceress remarked as she got up from her seat.

"I'll be here." Thalia returned lightly. She didn't know what the problem was, but it didn't seem big enough to be a bother.

Jadea entered the tent where she found Medea talking to herself. "Okay, I laid it down here...turned and then came back-"

"What are you doing?" Jadea asked her co-queen. She sounded a bit worried.

Medea looked up and dismissively waved her hand. "I...I had the log book, right? And I set it down. Well, I go to get the ink and quill...and when I turn back, it's gone!"

Hmm, I wonder how much wine she's been in. The Amazon Sorceress thought to herself.

But as though the Queen had heard her, she quickly declared, "I'm not delusional!"

Jadea cleared her throat and let her gaze fall to the floor. She had no words to advise with at the moment, so silence seemed best. But it was at this precise second that Medea's eyes locked onto her co-Queen's pendant. She pointed while asking,

"Is that thing supposed to be doing that?"

Jadea looked down and saw her crystal pendant continually alternated between black and white. Her eyes instantly shot up at Medea and began darting around the place.

The sorceress growled. Medea didn't like the sound too much. "Stop that. I've got enough to deal with without you making that noise."

But Jadea emitted another growl anyway. Her eyes targeted a space next to the table across from where Medea stood. Startled, and fearing she'd been caught, Discord instinctively teleported out. The Goddess hadn't expected to be discovered. Truth was that she hadn't been. Jadea had bluffed.

"Okay...what just happened?" The Queen Regent asked, sensing some unusual activity.

"I'm not sure. But someone's stirring trouble. Until we found out who or why, keep your wits about you. If things begin moving again, find me."

Still a bit flustered, Medea gave a mere nod. Jadea exited and returned to her seat. Medea looked again at the table and mumbled to herself about lack of sleep.

"What was that all about?" Thalia asked when Jadea sat down beside her.

The Sorceress Empress shook her head, a clear indication of her answer. Thalia let it be. Her attention went back to the contests.


Ardra sat perched in a tree at the time that Celosia slipped quietly through her woods. Her curiosity perked, the hawk decided to follow the Amazon.

Upon reaching Themiscyra's border, Celosia stopped and closed her eyes. She took a deep breath.

Ardra, I know you're watching... Celosia mentally commented.

Force of habit, I suppose. I am a guardian hawk, after all.

I know. But I'll be fine. Look after my Sisters? Celosia's tone was soft.

Always, Queen Celosia. Always. Be careful, Ardra commanded before leaving.

Celosia heard Ardra's flight and exhaled. As she began to venture further from Themiscyra, her mind began to wonder if she'd ever see it again. Somewhere in the night, the Amazon's heart answered her back, "Let love reside within you, and you can forever return home again."


Two Amazons sat on opposite sides of a table. Around them were roughly thirteen Sisters. The two Amazons were arm-wrestling, and again bets were placed.

"Ten to one that Cairu will win the next one!" One of the Highlanders yelled. She was placing her confidence in an older Themiscyran. Naturally, there were Amazons to take her on.

"I want a piece of that one!" One of the Highlanders stated cheerily.

Indeed, spirits were high...considering all that had recently happened to these two Amazon tribes.


Ares followed Samsara. He found her staring at one of Cupid's many bows, a glint of wicked fire beaming on her face.

"Uhh, that's not a good idea." He commented plainly.

Samsara turned her head with a frown. "You know what your problem is, Ares?" Her voice inclined when she delivered her question. A smile followed. "You just don't know what fun is - or how to have any!" And with that, the Goddess vanished again...this time with Cupid's bow and of his arrows.

Since the God of War realized that this approach wasn't working, he opted for another. But before he could attempt it, someone dropped by for a visit.

"Stay out of this, Ares!" Discord screeched angrily. She'd been about one second from returning to Themiscyra to continue messing with Medea when her godly instincts had alerted her to Ares' doings. After all, gods had a way of "watching."

"Discord!" Ares seethed in much the way he had done before. "*When* are you going to grow...up?"

She cocked her head and took a few steps forward. "I don't know. When are you going to wise up?"

They both left the Temple of Love at the same time.


"All right, so show me again." Garrett asked Angus, who'd taken it upon himself to teach his friend the art of using a slingshot.

"Okay, so ya find a decent size stone." Angus instructed.

"Like this?" Garrett asked picking up the nearest one. He showed it to Angus who nodded.

"Exactly. And then you- here let me have that one...and then you place it in the middle-"

"Wait. I thought you said you place it where you intend to aim. If you're aiming right, the stone goes to the right. If you-" Angus interjected with a kind of goofy look on his face.

"Look, do ya want to learn this?"

"Yeah, yeah. Go on." Garrett returned.

"Alright, so ya got the stone in the middle. Now ya eease back- and this is very important, ya see?"

About this time, Pike happened to walk by and catch enough of the mens' conversation to understand what was going on. Being an Amazon, she naturally found the impulse to create a little havoc too irresistible. Just as Angus pulled back to fire, his target a piece of cloth tied to an arrow stuck in a tree, she stepped up behind them and yelled, "BOO!"

"Ahhhh!" The shooter yelled, jumping higher than you thought a man capable, and missed his target terribly.

Pike laughed and shook her head. "You must be Garrett. Take it from me...you're better off letting one of us teach you to shoot."

Angus, embarrassed and slightly angry, challenged the Amazon warrior. "Alright, then! Let's see ya do it!"

Pike smirked. "My pleasure, boys. My pleasure."


She watched Pike as she taught Garrett how to shoot. She was in the treetops in visible form. She knew well how to hide from even her own Amazons. Samsara kept the bow slung over her shoulder and the quiver of Cupid's best arrows was on her back. She wanted Angus to get back towards the center of the camp.

The plan was relatively simple. Angus would get to camp and Thalia would be around doing her usual set of chores. Samsara would swoop in and shoot an arrow at Angus, making him fall for Thalia. Garrett and Jade would become jealous. Garrett would talk to Angus and realize that he needs to talk to Thalia. Jade would finally get it in her to talk to Angus and they would resolve their differences and if things went according to plan, maybe Jadea would let go of some of the fear and let herself love him. Then Samsara would remove the spell and Garrett and Thalia would get back together.

Samsara disliked men at best. She thought them as just useful enough for procreation and even then she was uncomfortable with the power afforded to them because of that. She liked Dachus. She perhaps had some kind of feeling for him, but she stifled that as she is an Amazon. Iolaus was always attractive in that short, cute, and funny way, but no one had ever stirred in her the feelings Thalia and Jadea had for their men. She shrugged as Pike successfully taught Garrett how to shoot from a slingshot.


Ishtar was stuck. On her journey out of the Land of the Dead, she had been able to stop and view Samsara through pools. She also got a view of Themiscyra. She knew that by saving Samsara, she would make Jadea leave as part of their deal and the Sorceress could not leave until Celosia returned. However, Ishtar knew that the longer she waited, the harder it would be to exorcise the dark force that held reign over Samsara.

She would have to figure out something. Jade needed to return to Britannia. The order needed to be preserved for another generation at least until the people were ready for a one-god.


At some point, Thalia got up to take care of a few of her responsibilities. Celebration or no celebration, some things had to be done.

It was at this time that Jadea broke camp for a few minutes. She vanished only to reappear on Themiscyra's northernmost border. The border patrol had gone in for the night. The Sorceress Empress stood alone.

She reflected on a great many things. But one thought frequently surfaced in her mind. Angus.

When Jadea had inadvertently brought the Celt into the Amazons' world, she'd no idea what to expect. Anything short of his immediate execution would certainly have served as a surprise to her. But as she continued to reflect on things, a single thought formed in her head.

I love him.

It was instantly rejected, of course, by her hardened and sculpted Amazon heart. She'd loved before and it had nearly cost her everything - the lives of everyone she cared about, her own life, everything she knew...her world.

Since then, though, Jadea had renewed her kinship with the Amazon warriors. In doing so, she had remembered much of her early training and the precepts the Amazons held dear had filled her heart. They brought her heart back in tune with nature and away from the corruption that was man.

The Sorceress Empress closed her eyes. She knew her niece was up to something. Unable to put her finger on what it was was made her restless. Thus, she'd left the honorable company of her Sisters for a few moments to let herself have some quiet time in the night.

She began to wonder how far Celosia had gotten by now. Jadea wasn't even certain if her Queen had taken a horse or chosen to go on her journey by foot alone. The Amazon shuddered a bit to think of such a perilous quest to be taken by walking. No, she much rather preferred a good horseback ride.

The open wind blew cold against her cheeks. She let the chill invade her body as it willed. The colder she felt inside, the hotter her fire burned. From somewhere in the distance she heard one of her Sister spirits.

He lives, my Sister. He lives...and he waits for you.

No doubt the voice belonged to a deceased Amazon. Their voices could often be heard by those they left behind. This one happened to refer to the man whose memory Jadea had spent years trying to suppress. She never had, though.

And when Angus, the meddlesome cad, had insistently tracked her when she "hopped" from tribe to tribe...that only added to the power of the traitor's memory. Oh, no. Angus had never betrayed her. Well, he'd irritated beyond her level of temperance. And he'd often caused more mischief than any man had a right to. But the Celt hadn't crossed her in treason.

From deep within Themiscyra, Jadea heard Thalia's familiar tone. I think you might want to see this, she sent to the Sorceress with enthusiasm fueled by a kind of haste only an Amazon could recognize.

When Jadea reached the Head Scout, she found Angus on one knee in front of her. Thalia shot her one of those "help me and help me NOW" looks. "Milady, your eyes are the northern stars which have guided me heart home."

Jadea stifled a laugh. So did Thalia but hers could not be seen. The former had seen Angus when he was genuinely a lovestruck fool. And the scene began to feel familiar in that vague "I've been here before" sort of way.

"Angus, please...that's very kind of you, but-"

"Shhh, oh sweet Amazon angel!" He whispered and rose to his feet, cupping her right cheek.

"All right, that's it!" Thalia grabbed his wrist and her index finger began to press into his blood vein.

Angus winced. "Ow, ow, ow, ow..."

Again Jadea had to control herself. It was indeed a mystery as to why Angus was acting so...so not himself. But at the same time, it was funny to watch. She walked up and shot her Sister a look. "That's enough, Thalia," she managed to say without breaking a smile.

But Angus continued to look at the Head Scout with big puppy-like eyes.

Medea, at this time, had been watching since about the moment Angus had stood and seemed he might kiss the Amazon.

Oh, groooosss! Gross, gross, gross! Somebody kill him before I puke! The Queen Regent thought silently, but her thoughts were written in the expression on her face. She didn't say anything to indicate the effect, though.

About two seconds later, the second arrow had been fired. This time, the target had been Medea. The arrow missed, however, luckily, embedding itself into the side of a hut. Damn! Samsara reprimanded herself, not knowing her Aunt had been the reason she missed.

Jadea knew Samsara was in camp. She didn't know why, exactly, and hadn't put all the mischievous details in order...but sometimes an Amazon's instincts can compensate for what she may be lacking. Believing she had control of the situation, Jadea took Thalia by the arm and tried to lead her off. But Angus followed. About five steps into this, Garrett arrived on the scene. He noticed how Angus seemed to be drooling over Thalia. The latter appeared to be flattered but also embarrassed to the point of annoyance.

A small crowd gathered loosely to watch. The majority of the tribes had yet to notice anything peculiar.

Somehow, Angus managed to get himself around Jadea and up close to Thalia. He tried to kiss her, thus provoking Garrett into charging for him.

Angus didn't manage to press his lips to Thalia's. He missed her lips and the kiss ended up being a peck on her lower cheek. All this transpired right before Garrett punched Angus. The two wound up on the ground wrestling like two rabid wolves. Before either knew what was happening, Jadea had them both hovering in the air about two feet from each other.

"How could you Thalia?" Garrett accused her.

"Shut up, lad! She can kiss me if she likes!"

"Both of you shut up! " Jadea yelled and dropped them both onto the ground. She wasn't concerned with Garrett. Her eyes were fixed on Angus who laid curled and clutching his stomach.

Jadea walked over to him and kicked him as hard as she could.

"Jade!?" He cried out in a painful shock. The Celt got to his feet, slowly, and found his ear instantly pinched and twisted. "Ow, ow, ow, ow - Jade...ow!" He yelled along the way.

Thalia, can you handle Garrett? Jadea barely had the focus to ask.

Not a problem.


"Uh, Jade? Can we talk about this?"

The man hung upside down from a tree, bare from the waist up. The night, being a bit cold, was not kind to the man.

Jadea sat on a large rock and stared at him from time to time. She had been all right until she saw Angus kiss her Sister. Garrett's reaction would've been her own. Only, he reacted more swiftly. Gazing away for a few moments, Jadea recalled her last battle in the Isles. She shook off the memory before it had time to wrap around her mind. Suddenly her head jerked up.

When you have the time Jadea, I'd like to see you. It was the Amazon's co-Queen. She sounded miffed.

Jadea got to her feet. Looking at the man upside down, she said in a rigid voice, "You never learn, Angus." And with that, she turned and walked away.

Some time later, not long after the celebration ended, Thalia found Angus in his uncomfortable predicament. She cut him down with her sword and threw him a blanket she'd brought.

"Thanks." He said quietly, an awkward silence between them. His chest bore a mark from where Garrett had hit him. Neither suffered great injuries from the scuffle. The worst perhaps was a wounded pride.

Thalia studied the man sitting now at the base of the trunk. She didn't see her Sister return to camp. Her conversation with Garrett had been brief, and there would later be another.


Samsara's play hadn't gone precisely as she wished. And thusly, she had to take another step. When the Goddess saw her Aunt go to see Medea, the timing seemed too perfect.

"You wanted to see me, Queen Medea?" Jadea questioned the woman whose back faced her.

Medea turned around, a lost look fleeing from her. "You know how I feel about men in this camp." Jadea stood quietly, unsure if Medea was stating something or asking. When Medea raised her eyebrows as if to say, "Well, don't you," Jadea nodded.

"Look, I don't know what went on earlier, but-"

Samsara entered - visibly.

"Samsara!" Jadea exclaimed as if in total and absolute amazement.

Medea's jaw dropped. She quickly recovered. "What do you want?"

The Goddess smiled sweetly. "Why, I just wanted to come see my Aunt. Is that such a crime?"

Queen Medea narrowed her eyes. She noticed the free use of Samsara's dramatic license. Why must she treat me like such a buffoon? Medea asked of herself. Jadea heard her but said nothing.

Before the Queens could think long enough to say something pessimistic, Samsara turned to her Aunt. "So, how've you been? Tell me, is Seriana all right?" She inquired in an all-too-unrealistic manner.

"She- She's fine." Jadea replied taken aback. Things were getting stranger by the moment.

"Say, Samsara, a few things went missing earlier this evening. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?" Medea interrogated in her most sarcastic and meaningful tone.

"Why, no. Queen Medea, I certainly don't." The Goddess nonchalantly lied.

Medea smiled a bit. "Right. Okay, well Jadea and I have some business to discuss, so if you'd-"

"Now? I mean, it's terribly late, Queen Medea. Can't it wait?"

Jadea, I could use your back up, the Queen thought profusely. Whether or not Jadea heard her, she didn't answer.

"Good," Samsara gleamed upon receiving no response. She walked out with her Aunt who shot Medea a look.

Damn that sorry bitch! If her mother wasn't dead, I'd kill her myself! Medea bitterly told herself. She was angrier at Samsara for her uninvited interruption than she was for Jadea's silence. After all, the Goddess Kakistos had a way of getting what she wanted. Often, her way was to use the element of surprise.

While passing through camp, Jadea and her niece spotted a few Amazons here or there. Mostly, though, Themiscyra was quiet. A half moon shone down upon the land. Shadows lurked in every place a torch's light did not reach. Within some huts burned lit candles. Still others were completely dark, the occupants having gone to sleep.

"I wonder, my niece, if you are going to tell my why you're really here." The Sorceress Empress commented softly. The Goddess could use her act with Medea, but attempting it on Jadea would be an insult and futile mistake.

Instead, Samsara opted for the truth - or part of it. "I came to get Prince," she stated plainly. All too plainly to her Sister.

"I see," Jadea remarked warily. Obtaining a horse isn't exactly stealing the Cronos stone. If Samsara had merely wanted her horse back, she could've gotten him a hundred times over by now.

"And since you've taken it upon yourself to collar and leash my powers, I couldn't just teleport him out of Themiscyra."

A subtle guilt trip, and effective. Jadea hadn't known until then if her niece knew what she'd done. Truth was, limiting Samsara's godly powers was a slow drain on Jadea's own. Without Ishtar's help soon, Jadea would deplete herself of her magic. The Sorceress wondered what could be keeping Samsara's mentor delayed. It bothered her greatly that the Goddess appeared she was having the time of her life. Still, she had to say something to Samsara. "I-"

"Have done it for my own good. I realize that," Samsara finished. "Still it does make some of the simpler things more difficult."

Jadea winced. She'd been thinking that exact thing for months now.

As the two walked in pace beside each other, Samsara's eyes began to glaze over distantly. She'd hidden Cupid's bow and arrow. And the separation from them began to make her nervous. She didn't want to be caught, so she had to speed things up a bit. "Do you know what I regret most, Jade?" Samsara questioned without looking at the woman.

"No. What?" The Sorceress asked curiously. This whole discussion was peculiar to her.

"Betrayal," the Goddess stated crisply. "Betrayal is my worst regret. Xena betrayed. Mother betrayed. I betrayed. Men betrayed. And each of us is paying for it." The tone she used was eerily cryptic.

Her words cut through every defense Jadea had constructed to guard herself. Samsara had known about treason and deceit and death. But to so openly and darkly speak of it now? Jadea studied her niece.

Her thoughts turned to Angus again. And then to Medea's stated opinion of men. The Sorceress Empress had taken a great risk in allowing the two men into camp. Garrett she could claim but minimal responsibility for. Angus, though was Jadea's burden of responsibility.

Had she made the right choice so long ago? Had she even really had a choice? She couldn't have allowed her Sisters to kill him; she'd have stopped them. And if it all had come to that, Jadea would be a traitor in the eyes of many Amazons. To spare a man's life in defiance of orders? Such an act would be punished with death in the Amazon world.

And then...Jadea thought of Garrett. How good his heart seemed when she read his company. And how she could name men like him she'd known once. How they had died under her command...and how she'd spilt an ocean of blood seeking justice for each of them.

The Sorceress Empress sighed. All that seemed like an ice age ago. But it all was still very real to her. At times, the memories were too clear to endure.

As a product of Samsara's words and Jadea's mood, the latter excused herself for the night.

The Goddess watched her go. As soon as Jadea was out of sight, Samsara grinned in appreciation of herself. Ohhhhhhh, I am just too good!


Themiscyra's Sorceress found her Celt wrapped in a blanket by the tree she'd hung him from. Thalia was nowhere around.

Angus looked up, apology in his eyes. The arrow's potency had worn off as a result of Jadea's tough love. Cold air, like cold water, can often chill the passion out of one.

"What are ya doin' out here?" She asked as she approached.

"Wallowin' in misery. I've insulted me friend, made a fool of meself to your Sister, and worse yet I've..." His voice trailed off when he noticed Jadea's eyes gazing at him tenderly. She smiled some at the thought of his humility.

"Angus...?" Her tone rose to question. "Do you know why I got so angry?"

"Because I'm an arse?"

Jadea chuckled but shook her head. "I thought that at first, too," she said and walked toward him. "No. I got angry at you because you made me jealous," she admitted so softly, as though she was at risk of being heard.

"Jealous?" Angus asked disbelievingly.

"Aye. Jealous," she repeated. "I'm not accustomed to feeling jealous about anyone for any reason."

A moment of silence. "I see. Well, I'd keep it mind to watch meself with that if I were you."

Jadea laughed, her eyes shining. She knew he was right.

Samsara watched through her viewing bowl. She'd returned to her temple with Cupid's bow and arrow. Prince, however, remained in Themiscyra. An overlooked detail that would lead to Samsara's unveiling. "Awww, I do such good work!" The Goddess remarked aloud in a celebratory praise.

"Back away! I'm about to lose my ambrosia lunch!" Discord colorfully commented upon her arrival. Once again, she'd made her appearance without Samsara's consent or knowing.

That's it! I am so making that a rule, now! "What's the matter, Discord? Not up for a little love-hate warfare?" Samsara retorted and giggled. She wanted Discord to believe that her little match-making was part of a plan to cause pain. Otherwise, Discord could throw one of her tantrums...or even call upon Cupid whose bow and arrows Samsara had taken without authority.

"I want my daughter, Kakistos!" Discord yelled.

Samsara whirled around in anger. "Don't call me that!"

"Fine! But I...WANT...KAIA!"

Samsara looked back into her viewing bowl. "You'll get her, Discord!"

The Mistress of Mayhem vanished. She reappeared in Themiscyra to find Kaia. Discord had no luck. Queen Medea and her co-Queen kept Kaia well hidden and out of their way.

The Goddess of Destruction saw her aunt sitting beside Angus, the blanket over both of them. Jadea leaned against the man, but he resolved not to put his arm around her. Caution warned him that he might lose his arm if he did so.

Chuckling, Samsara shook her head. "Oh, how I could get use to this gig! Pity that Aphrodite's got it. Well, all's well. I'd get bored with it, anyway. After all, we can't have love without war, can we?"

The image in the bowl changed. Samsara's army strategically had men based in camps around Themiscyra. A detachment continually marched on and destroyed villages in the Great Destroyer's name.



To Stop A Goddess

Strange Beginnings


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