Promises, Promises


"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Thalia said, standing. "No way you're doing that." She pulled her sword. "She's my best friend. Not your play toy."

The men stood at attention, ready to strike back. Discord merely laughed. "Why is it that silly mortals believe they can take on the gods? Perhaps the Xena stories have been exaggerated. I could have killed her off years ago. Don't think you can do any better." She snapped her fingers and two of the men quickly took hold of Thalia. Then she turned her attentions to Seriana. "Now, as for you..." Her eyes became a bright blue as she prepared to strike, but something stopped her.

"What are you doing, Pumpkin?" he said in a forced manner. It was Ares. "You don't intend on turning my daughter into shish kebab, do you?" His sugary sweet manner annoyed her.

Patronizing, conniving . . . she thought.

He raised a finger, having read her thoughts. "Ah, ah . . . Watch your language, baby. You can use it later," he winked. "But for now, you won't be using your pent up energy to fry her. I have big plans for Seriana." He looked at his frightened daughter who drew her dagger and kept it at ready. "Let's make a deal. You want your memory back, don't you?"

Her stance slackened. My memory, she thought wildly. Could this awful man give it back to me? She nodded. Of course she wanted her memory back. She wanted to remember everything.

"I can give that back to you," he continued. "I can give everything back to you with just a snap of my fingers. And I could even erase the bad memories forever, Seriana. You had an awful life, but I can give you the good times back. I can give you what you want. All that I ask is that you come with me, live on Olympus and train with me."

A horse violently neighed as the two men holding Thalia buckled and fell, each dead. It was Samsara and she hit them with arrows tainted with the hind's blood she carried in her pendant.

Discord growled. Now she's asking for trouble, she thought, preparing her eyes.

"Don't even think about it," Samsara responded. Hercules and Iolaus were behind her. The short one ran to Thalia and caught her before she fell.

"I'm taking her back to the infirmary," he responded, carrying her away.

"Be sure to strap her down then," the High Princess ordered. "She'll make herself sick for the rest of her life if she doesn't stay in bed."

"Floozy!" Discord yelled. "Those were gods!"

"Talking to the mirror again? I suggest you stop that," Hercules said with a smile.

Samsara dismounted. "No, how can she if the broke the last thousand she's glared at?" she responded laughing. She then turned to her father. "Now you. Let her go. Her place is with the Amazons."

"Such a wonderful, matriotic thing to say," Ares said. He extended his hand. "Seriana, all your memories -- all the good memories -- if you take my hand and come to Olympus with me . . ."

Samsara needed a diversion. Ares was going to convince her and she needed some way to keep him from saying more. She jumped and landed behind a confused Discord and quickly took out her dagger, wetting it with hind's blood. To Hercules' dismay, she killed the two bodyguards, grabbed the Goddess of Mayhem by the hair and pulled her head up, exposing her milky neck. She deftly put the poisoned dagger at her throat and said:

"Rescind your offer or I off the witch."

Ares looked at her and smiled. "You think I would risk this just to save her?"

Discord spat, attempting to hit the God of War but failed. Samsara pulled her grip tighter. "Yes, I do. You will not take my sister away from me. You already seduced one." She referred to the turning of her sister Kaia Kakistos. "Although the deck was stacked against her from the beginning."

Ares' lover laughed. "Not like your mother is any prize . . ."

Samsara jerked her head back. "Shut up."

Hercules was alarmed by what was going on, but he knew what to do. He had to convince Seriana that the deal was a rotten one. Whether Samsara killed Discord or not was up to the Great Destroyer herself. "Seriana don't do it. It's a bad deal."

Ares ignored his half brother and focused on his other daughter. He continued to have his hand stretched out to Seri. "Do you want to risk the wrath of Zeus if you kill an Olympian, Samsara?" he said. "Do you believe that killing a god will make the situation any better? Because the death of a god requires the retaliation of all the gods and you would not like your matron goddess hunting one of her own. Oh, the irony of it all."

He stretched out his other hand toward her. "I will make you a similar deal. You let me take your sister to Olympus and you let the sniveling witch live, and you can come to Olympus and have the ambrosia you crave and deserve. You, Goddess Kakistos of Destruction . . ."

Hera had denied Samsara the ambrosia after realizing her lineage. So, although Samsara was not an Olympian god, Callisto was technically an immortal when she gave birth, Samsara needed ambrosia to keep her powers should her staff -- her talisman – ever come up missing.

Ambrosia. The offer was tempting. I could get the powers I deserve, she thought. I wasn't meant to be Queen. I was meant to be a god. The Goddess Kakistos of Destruction.

"Samsara, Seriana, don't," Hercules said. He glared right at his brother. "Ares lies and you both know it."

But Samsara looked at her father's hand. She never felt the love of her biological parents. Her Amazon mother had been Ishtar, but Ishtar was long dead. She needed parental affection. When her guardian had died she had needed to grow up as fast as her goddess body had. Goddess Kakistos of Destruction. And Seriana could be happy . . . She loosened her grip on Discord's hair and reached for her father's . . .

Swift Blazer

Looking to her new mentor.

"So, what do we do now?" Swift rubbed the back of her neck still trying to remember what the symbol she had seen earlier meant.

"We practice," Valkyra said. She thrust one of the bows at the young woman and began showing her how to hold it properly.


Following her sister's lead, Seriana slowly put her knife back in its sheath. Remember . . . to remember at last . . .

She shot an evil look at Discord, who was angrily re-arranging her hair. "All right, Vampire-Face: call me that filthy name again and you don't want to know what's going to happen to you."

Discord looked as innocent as she could. "What? You mean b . . ."

Samsara reached back and gave Discord's hair a firm twist, causing her to yelp. "Yeah. That one."

"Samsara, Seriana, leave her alone," Ares ordered. "The sooner we get back to Olympus, the sooner we get down to business."

"Come on, you two!" Hercules shouted. "He's a chronic liar; you know that! You knew that," he amended quickly as Seriana glared at him.

"Maybe he's right," Samsara said thoughtfully. "We don't have any reason to trust you."

"I'm making you an offer you can't refuse. You don't need any more reason than that."

"But how do we know you'll give it to us if we pledge allegiance to you?" Seriana asked.

Ares rolled his eyes. "Look, Artemis is going to have my neck any second so if you want what I'm offering you'll take my hands now."

"Memories first," Seri said.

"Ambrosia first," Samsara added. "Then I come with you."

The God of War shrugged. "Fair's fair."

He waved his hand towards Seri, and her eyes and mouth went wide as every good thing she'd ever experienced came rushing back to her. It came too fast for her to handle, and she fell to the ground like a rock.

Samsara felt something soft and cool in her palm, and she held it up to the light to glow pink. The smell of ambrosia was something you could never forget, and she drew it in with deep, steady breaths.

Seri remembered ambrosia . . . remembered poison and Ares and phenomenal power and blood. She sat up and watched, her eyes shining, as Samsara moved to lay the ambrosia in her mouth.

But Samsara was a few seconds too late . . .


Hercules tackled her. Samsara screamed as her uncle violently pulled her down.

"You can't have that!" he yelled.

Samsara pushed him off. She still had the ambrosia in her hand. "How dare you, Hercules?" she demanded. "I've waited years for this!"

"You will turn evil if you have it," he responded. "You would be a minion of Ares!" He hoped he could reach her through reason. A physical fight with her would be more difficult than fighting Zeus himself, as he felt almost as much affection for her as he did Seriana.

Discord shot a glare at Ares. "You would let her become an Olympian?" she demanded. "Your bastard child by that nut case?"

At that, Samsara finally spoke to Hercules. "Uncle, if my only purpose is to rile Discord, then it's all worth it." She looked directly into Hercules' eyes and swallowed the food of the gods with a laugh.

The ground rumbled and the skies turned dark with storm clouds. Samsara's eyes turned a clear blue like her mother's had when she had eaten the ambrosia. She stood and her eyes flared. Now she was more powerful than the King of the Gods. She held the hind's blood, which had the power to kill gods, and now she had the power of the gods running through her veins. She had infinite power. All she needed was an infinite supply of ambrosia to maintain her infinite power.

Seriana remained where she was and watched.

Ares laughed. Now, she's mine . . . now all I need is for her sister to follow.

But Samsara had other plans. She was far from being Ares' general, but the rage that was Callisto was still in her. She took out her dagger and seemed to focus on picking the dirt out of her nails as Discord had done earlier. She looked at the Goddess of Mayhem and said. "How about you and I have it out . . . Later?"

Discord was frozen in her position. She was honestly afraid of her. "Yes, later," she said in as steady a voice as she could manage. Then she looked at Ares. "You and I will have a discussion about this, honey." Then she vanished with the sound of yowling cats in her wake.

Samsara looked down at Hercules and cocked her head. "Sorry, Herk. You tried to reason with me and failed...."


"But you can do something for me. Tell Celosia I will take my leave from Themiscryan and so will Seriana. And tell her not to worry. Father won't be leading any charges against ANY of the Amazon tribes. I'll be sure of it," she shot a look at her father.

Hercules stood up. He looked down at his younger niece. "That's not you talking. That's the ambrosia. Samsara, you don't mean this. You don't want to become Ares' slave."

The God of War folded his arms. We'll see . . .

"And I won't. And neither will Seri. Herk, your father himself told me. I am the Goddess Kakistos of Destruction. I am a goddess and there is nothing anyone or even this hind's blood can do about it. And since I have this pendant -- " she played with the chain " -- no god will go against me and the ambrosia is mine." She laughed. "It's just perfect! I succeed where Mother failed. I have the control she wanted all her life. It's all around my neck!"

She called for Prince and he trotted to her, faithful as always. She stroked his nose. "There are two first orders of business. First: Seri, call your horse. I can take you to Olympus. You don't need father to do that for you."

Ares' mouth dropped. She isn't going to get away with any of this.

"Second," she continued. "Time to find Prince's third eye." She referred to the soft spot in her horse’s forehead, which was missing a ruby. He was reputed to be the son of Pegasus the winged steed. She wanted to give him back his wings and make him the horse he was supposed to be.

"We had a deal," Ares said. "You'll hold up your end."

She turned to him and all that was her mother boiled to the surface. "Oh yeah? And, uh, what exactly are you gonna do if I don't, huh? You're going to kill me? 'Cause I'm a goddess now, sweet cheeks, and goddesses don't die!" She laughed. "Sounds like something Mother would say."

Seriana whistled for Denius and he thundered to his mistress. She stood and held his reins tight. She looked at Ares as she mounted.

Hercules cried after Seriana. He needed to save one to be able to save them both. "Seriana, you can't! Why would you go to Olympus?"

She didn't answer him. He focused on the younger.

"Samsara!" The Goddess turned to him. "Don't follow Ares. You'll only do evil if you follow him. Please, be your good self . . ."

"Good?" she demanded. "What is that if all you felt after your guardian's death is pure hate?" She mounted her horse. "She was everything to me and nothing has been the same since!" She had vowed never to cry again after she had cried at Ishtar’s funeral. "And the only way for me to feel sane is to purge of this pain . . ."

She took Seri's hand. "Are you ready to go?" she said.

Seriana slowly nodded. She knew what she was doing.

Hercules looked on painfully as the sisters vanished. Then the brothers looked at each other. "I hope you know what you've done," Hercules said. "You just put your whole family in danger. You have no scruples."

Celosia arrived with her guards behind her. She felt she needed to as soon as Iolaus had brought Thalia back to camp. She was amazed at what she saw. "Where are they?" she demanded of Hercules.

He explained as quickly as he could.

The Queen was angered. She walked to the God of War and stood between him and Hercules, looking up at him with pure determination in her eyes. "You will return them to me unharmed, or my forces will topple every one of your temples until you reconsider. My Amazons will destroy everything that is yours and Artemis will protect us at every step until you return Samsara and Seriana."

Ares was afraid of her threat. He knew she would do it. Celosia was not one to make idle threats. "I don't think I can do anything about it . . ."

"I believe I am right when I say Artemis will hold you personally responsible."

He gulped then vanished.


Solemnly the Queen turned to Hercules and sighed. "I always felt uneasy about Samsara. She always did things without consulting me. She has always come through for me, but now she's proven different."

Hercules put a hand on her shoulder. "I know her well. She felt betrayed when she was denied and her sister was accepted onto Olympus. She may think that she'll do good being a goddess, but from experience I know she'll realize it's not what she expects it to be. My fear is that she'll turn evil while she learns it."

"So what do we do, Hercules? Do we wait? I have to start the campaign against Ares, but how do we get them back?"


Meanwhile, Samsara and Seriana appeared at a clearing. Their horses trotted toward the base of a mountain and as they passed they saw the city of Mt. Olympus before them. They dismounted and looked, observing the marble buildings. Samsara smiled.

"Home," she said. She looked at her sister.

"I'm sure you think it is," a familiar voice said behind them. It was Kaia Kakistos and she walked between them and faced them. "If it isn’t both of my goody-two-shoes sisters! Welcome to Olympus!" She shouted, throwing her hands up and laughing. "I see Daddy gave you ambrosia, Sami. Can't wait 'till Grams finds out."

"Hera," Samsara seethed. "Don't cause any trouble here, Kaia." She pulled her horse along and motioned for Seriana to do the same.

Seriana looked at her younger sister. She's turning evil . . . I can feel it. But how do I . . . why do I . . .?

The younger merely smiled. They herded their horses to stables. Denius and Prince were not happy to be next door to each other. Prince's eyes seemed to get redder with anger every time he looked at the battle steed and Denius just snorted angrily.

"Denius," Seriana said. "Calm down." She stroked his nose until he calmed a bit then the sisters left the stables.

They stepped out and walked along until Artemis called for them.

She was livid.


The young Regent sighed and rubbed her stomach. She'd spent the last four hours in the tent designated for eating and had barely looked up from the plates upon plates of food she'd been served. Only now as a wide-eyed Amazon cleared off her last bit of venison did she feel completely full.

"Thanks," she muttered after the Amazon, who nodded as if in awe of what she had seen and quickly scurried away. The younger girl chuckled to herself and looked around the tent, hoping for some company.

There weren't very many warriors kicking around. Of course, there weren't usually at this time of day. Still, somehow Medea felt a bit . . .abandoned. She had no clue where Tern had gotten too and Celosia had run off to do what Medea could only assume was 'Queen Duties.'

It didn't help that no one in the tent would make eye contact with her. Whether it was because they were angry or afraid of what she had done over these past few weeks, she didn't know.

Come on Medea. Get a grip! Since when do you give a flying piece of centaur dung if those snotty Amazons don't like you. Remember Léda? You didn't get along with her either, never made a difference!

Forcing a self-assured grin onto her face, the young Regent nodded and got to her feet. Several of the Amazons in the tent jumped to theirs at the same time, weapons drawn.

"Uh, training grounds," Medea explained with a raised eyebrow. "I'm heading to the training grounds?" she offered again, glaring pointedly at the weapons held out at her.

They continued to stare uncertainly, forcing the blond to snarl in contempt. Storming from the tent, she made a point to swear in every language she knew -- and Medea knew quite a few. She had traveled to other villages to sign peace treaties and things with Celosia on many occasions, and had picked up quite a few . . . choice . . . words.

"Dali Amazons, think they're so dali special. Just because I went a little dali crazy for a while, not like I'm the first one who ever dali did that . . .UGH!"


Thalia opened her eyes finding herself back in the healing tent. She vaguely remembered Iolaus bringing her back. "Here we go again." she chuckled to herself. She didn't know how long she'd been out, but the healers had done a good job. She felt a lot better.

Yawning, she tried to sit up only to find her wrists strapped to the bed. "What the . . ." A sideways grin fell on her face. "They know me too well."

With a little maneuvering, she managed to get free of the straps. Xanthea moved to stop her but Thalia held up a hand. "I'm fine, honest."

She hopped off the bed and pushed the door aside. Looking around, she tried to spot Seriana. "Are they back yet?"

Spotting Medea heading for the sparring grounds she ran after her. "Medea! Have you seen Celosia or Seriana? Are they back yet?"


"No," Medea said, turning and continuing on her path.

Thalia cocked her head. Now Medea can be anti-social, but this is just silly! She ran to her and grabbed her shoulder and said, "Hey, it's me!"

Medea shrugged her off. "Don't touch me," She grouped Thalia with the dali Amazons who had drawn their weaponry earlier.

"Medea! I'm your friend, remember?" she said, a bit worried.

The Regent smiled. "Oh, okay. Come with, I need a sparring partner."

They walked together toward the weapons hut to retrieve some sparring staffs, the ends protected with cloth to prevent injury.

"No, they aren't back yet," Medea said quietly.

"Well last I saw of Seriana she was dealing with Discord and then Ares appeared and started his usual yapping . . ."

"Ares," Medea seethed.

Thalia made a face. Names not to mention around Medea . . .Ares. "Well, I'm wondering if she got back. Samsara showed up and I don't know what happened after . . ."

"Samsara," Medea seethed. Then she stood up straight. Well, hopefully there will be someone a bit more hated than I am. She smiled. She also felt resentment at how the High Princess of Teloq was accepted without so much as a stir. She shook her head as she picked up a staff. "Ready?" she asked with a glint in her eye.

Thalia was feeling better by the second. "Yes."


"I am not tolerating this!" Artemis roared as she caught up to Ares and grabbed him by the back of the vest. "No. Not your serpent-tongued brat and not my Amazonian heiress."

"I am my own mistress now, Artemis," Samsara announced. "I will do as I wish."

"You will do as Ares wishes," Artemis snapped. "And you," she turned on Seriana. "Again you give in to temptation. What would Xena think?"

"It wasn't temptation, it was blackmail," Seriana pointed out. "And I don't care what Xena would think. She taught me to fight the hard way and then she abandoned me."

"Wait a minute . . ." Samsara said, turning to face her sister. "That's not what happened the way the Themiscyrans tell it."

Ares shrugged. "Who defines 'good' memories?"

Kaia smiled. "Oh, that was low, Ares, really low."

"I'm not the god of truth."

"I'm going to go talk to Mnemosyne," Artemis announced. "And Hera. I'd hide my sad, ugly head if I were you, Ares. Where's Hercules when you need him?"

"He's in Themiscyra," Seriana offered before Kaia smacked her in the back of the head.

"Shut up, mortal."

"Shut up, Discord-spawn," Seri snapped back.

Samsara carefully separated the two. "All right, girls, if we're all going to wreak havoc together we must learn to stop name-calling."

"Hold it," Ares ordered. "Where'd Artemis go?"

The four of them looked around. Artemis was nowhere in sight.

"Hunt her down," Ares ordered. "Find her. I don't want her opening her mouth about this to anyone."

Samsara and Kaia nodded sharply. "We're on it," Samsara announced.

"What about me?" Seri demanded.

"Stay here," her father commanded. All three gods vanished in unison.

"Seriana does not follow orders to stay put," she muttered to herself. "If they're running off without me then I'm going home."

She turned and headed off towards the center of the city, where she knew she would find the gods she could still count as allies.


Soon, Kaia and Samsara found Artemis walking up the marble steps to the Olympian palace. Samsara knew what Hera's response would be and she was ready for the queen of mean. In fact she had no idea why she was listening to her father anyway.

Kaia laughed. "Hey, archer!" she yelled.

Artemis turned around. She was still angry and she was determined to stop Samsara from eating more ambrosia. She knew the Amazon wasn't ready for it. She was still fighting Ares' influence. "What do you want? You know what I'm going to do."

"I want to talk to you, Matron."

Artemis' eyes widened at Kakistos' words. "We have nothing to discuss."

"How about you tell me why the tribes were split?"

Samsara looked at Kaia and her mouth dropped. What is she doing? She thought.

"To keep you and your sister from turning the Amazons into a farce," Artemis answered, turning back and continuing up the stairs.

Kaia was not having it. She created a force in the palm of her hand and threw it up toward Artemis. She intentionally missed her and the force landed before the Matron of the Amazon, shaking the foundation of the palace.

Out came Hera, angered. "What is the meaning of this?" she demanded. She looked down at Samsara and said, "You . . ."

"Grams!" Samsara responded with fake glee. "Isn't it nice to see you again?"

"I thought we had a deal," she said. "I let you keep the hinds blood and you don't set foot here."

The Goddess Kakistos chuckled. "Forget it. I keep the hinds blood and I make my home here," she blew a kiss to the Queen of the Gods. "Because unless I'm needed back there, I am here to stay."

Artemis looked at Samsara. She knew how to stop her. She needed someone she could trust to poison her ambrosia . . .


Artemis vanished from the steps of the temple and reappeared in front of Celosia, who was sitting alone in her hut. Once the Queen realized that her Goddess was in the hut with her, she dropped to one knee and lowered her head.

"Artemis, Goddess of the Amazons, to what do I owe this pleasure," the Queen asked, her voice directed to the bearskin on the floor.

Artemis smiled upon the Queen of one of her favorite tribes. "Celosia, I have a request of you. Rise and listen."

Celosia got to her feet, her shoulders thrown back and head up, proud to be conversing with the Goddess of the Hunt. As she stood there, waiting for the next word from Artemis, the Goddess raised her hands, fingers splayed, palms upright. A light breeze swept through the hut, lifting Celosia's long two-toned hair, signifying that the Goddess had formed a protection around herself and the Queen of the tribe.

"Now, no one can overhear us," Artemis continued. "I need you to do something, not only for me but for the future of your tribe."

"If my tribe is in any danger, Artemis, you can count on me to do as you bid," Celosia said.

Artemis nodded; knowing Celosia could be trusted to fulfill the difficult task she was assigning. "I need you to take this vial," Artemis said, handing Celosia an ornately decorated vial, "and sparingly pour it over the ambrosia fruit. I know Xena showed you where it was."

Celosia looked at the vial, turning it over in her hands. The vial itself was dark blue glass, with a dragon's tail made of silver wrapped around it. The dragon itself sat on the red wood stopper. "My Goddess, may I be so bold as to ask what this contains?"

"Hind's blood," the answer was short and succinct.

Hind's blood! Celosia thought. Why would I have to pour this on ambrosia? Unless Artemis wants to weaken a Goddess' power . . . "Samsara!"

Artemis watched the play of emotions over Celosia's face as she figured the answer out. "Correct, Celosia. Left as a Goddess, Samsara will wreak more destruction than Callisto, Alti, and the Xena of her days with Ares' army put together. We need to weaken her godly powers. The only way to do this is to taint the supply of her powers."

"The ambrosia," Celosia finished. Artemis merely nodded assent.

Celosia was torn, knowing that the hind's blood would likely cause serious damage to Samsara, one of her Amazons. But she also knew it was the only way to stop Ares’ influence over her charge.

"I will do as you ask, my Goddess," Celosia answered. Artemis disappeared, leaving Celosia to her disturbing thoughts of harming another Amazon.


Family Ties

Goddess Kakistos


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