were the last words the General nobleman recalled. He awoke in a
strange place and without his clothes. Somehow, he'd been
knocked out and his head throbbed incessantly. The Celt tried to
focus his eyes to assess his whereabouts. Indeed, he was nowhere
that he knew of. With his right hand holding his head, he moaned
in pain. Nothing about this made sense to him.
tried sorting through his thoughts and what he remembered. The
last memory he could summon was being on the battlefield. Hazy
though that recollection felt, he could remember the look on
Jadea's face - the same as he'd seen in the eyes of the Amazon
women of that tribe he'd annihilated.
door opened and he looked up at the sound of its creaking.
Before him stood a tall woman with spiked-looking hair. He'd
never seen her before, but she had all the makings of an Amazon.
Her eyes set upon him with a coldness he felt was undeserved.
She didn't even know him, yet she judged him.
found himself to be completely unarmed and clothed in a brown
shirt. He'd been stripped of his armor, gauntlets, torque, and
your feet!" The woman commanded.
then realized, for his head was bit dizzy at the moment, that
his hands were shackled behind him. As he struggled to maintain
some kind of dignity, his ears caught the voice of someone he
handle it from here, Queen Medea," the feminine voice said
The Celt questioned in disbelief.
Medea jumped and kicked him hard with her heel. "You will
not speak unless given permission! And if given permission to
speak, you will address your audience with the proper respect
that she deserves!"
had taken the man back to Themiscyra with her. And without him
to command his army, Conor would destroy Bruce's men. Even
though Conor commanded fewer men on the battlefield,
reinforcements would arriving once they hit shore in the form of
a band of Highland Amazons. The warrior women knew the situation
and were more than willing to fight beside Conor to defeat the
Jadea commended sarcastically as she walked past Queen Medea.
"You're dead again."
Celt felt more lost than ever before. Had she killed him only to
bring him back? No. . . no the pain was too intense for him to
be dead. Oh, if only his head would quit moaning so he could
how it stands. You are dead as far as Eire is concerned, as far
as Britannia is concerned, and as far as Rome is
raised an eyebrow. "Rome?"
ignored the reference. She'd explain later if pressed.
will not come for you. He's likely dead by now. Newsflash, my
good man...you're not in Lagore anymore." Jadea then
chuckled to herself, amused by her unintended rhyme.
I'll assemble the tribe," Queen Regent Medea stated,
realizing that she'd rather be elsewhere if she was going to be
allowed to kill the man.
Amazon Sorceress nodded. "Thank you. I'll be there
steadied himself and looked at the woman he once loved. His
sharp blue eyes studied her icy gaze.
think of trying to escape, dear. I've given the word that you be
killed without hesitance or question should you flee. And don't
try to talk to my Sisters, either. They won't listen. I've made
sure that your reputation and history are known by all of them.
You'll be lucky if one doesn't try to sneak in and kill
shook his head and gave a baffled look. Jadea smiled. "Oh,
I've ordered that you not be killed unless you give a
reason." She chuckled again, such a terrifying sound.
"Of course, to most Amazons - you've already done
co-Queen stared at the prisoner with indifference now. She
turned to leave and wasn't surprised to hear his voice call out.
outside the cell, Thalia looked in and gasped at what she saw.
Turning back toward the chained man, Jadea walked to him and
laid her hand on his cheek.
killed me once, already. The Amazons are what saved you in
Lagore yesterday. Your horse reared back and threw you. Never
saw a man hit the ground that hard before. I walked up to you
and watched your lifeless body. I was prepared to do more than
just kill you. I still am. If you taught me anything with your
death, it's that many things are worse than death itself."
Jadea turned and walked out, nearly ramming into Thalia. The
Sorceress narrowed her eyes at the young warrior. "Be wise,
Thalia, and never do that again."
Jadea," the Scout managed to reply through her fear. She
walked behind the Sorceress heading straight for the platform.
Sisters! I thank you all for gathering here, today. I have
rather important news to tell," Jadea's eyes crossed over
the large square of women. Her pause lingered, and Medea felt
she asked, "What is it?"
Jadea brushed the feeling off to continue.
many of you are aware, I have brought back a man from the Isle
of Eire. Be assured that he is your enemy. Under his command, an
army obliterated an entire Amazon village." She paused once
more and noticed the horrified and angry looks of her Sisters.
one was spared, my Sisters. Not a woman, nor a child...nor a
babe. Per his orders, the men burned their homes and killed
their livestock. After her death, the Queen of that tribe was
raped of her clothes and crucified."
she spoke, Jadea had thousands of gruesome images flash across
her mind. Because of her powers and ties to Celtia, she'd been
able to see the events when she journeyed there after hearing of
them. The reports given to her had been incomplete but truthful
with what they did tell.
meanwhile, clasped Karma closer to her bosom. She'd not had time
to speak to her Aunt yet. Jadea's return had again been a shock,
even more by the words she spoke and the prisoner she'd brought.
wish none of you to live the kind of nightmare our Sisters
suffered. Therefore, a standing order is issued by Queen Medea
and myself. No Amazon warrior in this camp is to speak to or go
anywhere near the prisoner. If he attempts to flee, the first
Amazon able to do so is ordered to kill him. The closest
villages to our lands have been told of the price they'll pay if
they aid him in any way." Jadea once again paused. She'd
been more wearied by her speech than she thought.
cleared her throat and attempted to veer some of the looks she
received. "Many of you are probably wondering why I bring
such a vile pig into Themiscyra."
this, she was given many nods and remarks like, "Yeah, are
you crazy?" Ironically, the Amazon had asked herself the
could attempt to explain my reasons for allowing our enemy into
our lands. Likely, though, they would not sound just or
reasonable. Therefore, let me say this! If a man who slaughters
women and children...burns their homes...if such a man is killed
for his sins - then has he suffered? Has he learned any lesson?
No! This man will! He will learn that the Amazon Nation will NOT
be enslaved and will NOT be destroyed! He will learn that an
Amazon is to war against EVERY woman with the Amazon
farther on she went, the more cheers and yells rang out among
the women. Jadea may have left Themiscyra under mysterious
circumstances, but there was no denying that she'd returned with
Amazon pride intact. The Amazon Sorceress may have left to seek
vengeance for the past, but to her Sisters, she'd returned to
instill them with passion, courage, and hope. Even Medea, who
stood beside her, turned her head and smiled at her co-Queen.
She then looked back over her tribe.
Jadea's voice cut through them. "We must unite and stand
together!" She paused just as another wave of spirits
exulted from the tribe. They quieted after a bit. "I heard
once in this Amazon tribe that two leaders linked their arms and
pledged their cause with these words: 'For a strong Amazon
drew her sword and raised it. The Amazons followed her action,
though some chose to lift their favored weapon of choice.
Queen Regent's voice could be heard throughout her lands when
she cried, "FOR A STRONG AMAZON NATION!" The Amazons
repeated the words and raised up their blades, staffs, etc.
and hollers were belted out from the spirited lungs of a great
many Amazon warriors. From his cell, the Celt known as Bruce
heard the women. He moved off the bench and fell to his knees,
bowing his head.
please forgive me," he whispered and prayed in the belief
that he could be heard.
circumvent the need of placing guards on the prisoner, Jadea
enlisted the aid of a few Sister magicians. Together, they cast
quite the spell over the prisoner's chamber.
Themiscyra had changed since Celosia left it. In fact, Jadea
even noted in counsel with Medea that her sister would probably
faint to learn of the changes that'd occurred.
turned and walked back to her hut. Seriana saw her sister move,
but remained where she was. The older was just labeled Princess
Regent. Sooner or later, the three would have to make a trip to
Teloq to make the casting official on their ground. Seriana
dreaded the trip in some ways, but she decided not to worry so
much. Her sister wanted to retain the thought that they were
blood sisters, despite evidence to the contrary.
had explained the purpose to her again before the ceremony. She
had taken her sister to a quiet area and told her everything.
"Ser'," she started. "I know you know the truth.
But it is more than important that you follow through on
are you sure you know what you're doing?" Silver Hawk
asked. "When people find out that we knew . . ."
then the ceremony will be done and there will be no disputing.
This is for our own good as a family, Sis. Being Princess
insures that Medea won't go challenging you whenever she feels
like it. It insures that should anything happen to me, Karma
still has a family. That if she ascends to the Teloan Throne too
young, then you will be the Regent. Seriana, I trust you and
that is why I'm giving you this duty. Believe me, by endowing
you with this title, you have trumped Kakistos. That is a big
part of my fear . . .that someone as demented as Kaia could rule
an Amazon Tribe," her eyes were wide when she finished.
Seriana looked at her and nodded. She would accept the charge.
walked into her hut. Mariko walked in behind her. The woman was
wearing a different outfit today: that of a cream color and
silken fabric. Her kens were strapped to her hips, fastened by a
broad waist band. "Goddess," she called.
woman turned around. "Mariko, why are you here?"
need to return to your destined path," her words were
straight to the point.
held the child fast in her arms. Karma played with her ponytail.
"I have no destined path. What are you telling me? I have a
child to raise and I can't return to what I was."
you don't return to your life as the Great Destroyer of Greece,
then when it is your time, the world will fall into the depths
of chaos," the Japanese woman's words were harsh.
eyes turned into slits as she eyed the woman.
must retrieve your sword from the Thermodon. The names given to
you are not arbitrary," she explained.
taking a walk," she responded, leaving her hut.
followed her. "Goddess, you must realize what you are
I am done with this. Dachus will receive charge of my army
within days. I have the parchment to give to him via
messenger," Samsara shook her head. "Ishtar would
never have let me continue on this path..."
meaning of your name is no mistake." They were on the river
by then, standing at the point where Samsara threw her sword
into the Thermodon. Samsara looked at the still, glass-like
water as it reflected Selene's moon.
does the meaning of my name have to do with anything?" the
Amazon said, quieter.
without samsara, no one pays."
I do," came the response.
achala, samsara!" Immortal, indefinite, eternal! The
words startled the Teloan. "You are the indefinite cycle of
birth, misery, and death, fueled by Karma. Do you believe that
the Gods are through with you? By learning the truth, you
threaten their well-being, their safety, and their stand in
history. You, Samsara Kakistos, Worst of the Worst, Goddess
Kakistos of Destruction, Great Destroyer of Greece, Master of
War are the inheritress of the Pantheon."
eyes became wide. "What?"
curse that has befallen Uranus and Cronus will soon befall Zeus,
only his son will not be the one to do it. You, Athanase, are
the one to bring down the Pantheon. You must retrieve your sword
and return to your ways, because soon an evil force will come
for you. The same evil force that took you when the Majie were
at war with the Amazon Nation."
lowered her head and clasped Karma close to her bosom.
"This can't be true, Mariko. Why have you returned with
this news? This can't be true."
returned to teach you the final lessons you will need to not
only defeat the onslaught of any enemies of the Amazon, but the
lessons to rule them as well. Ephiny will die, and Gabrielle
won't become their Queen as she should," she looked toward
raised her hand and lifted the sword out from the depths,
scabbard and all. She gripped her death weapon in her hand,
having left her staff by her pallet.
will train you in the art of jujitsu, and the defensive arts of
combat. I will train you in the kens, my swords, which I will
bequeath to you."
saw it all as he was dying at the hands of the Khans. I will
reveal it all to you in due time."
after Jadea, the Sorceress Empress and Medea, the Queen Regent
rallied the Amazons in their unity of Sisterhood, all of the
women were in such good spirits that instead of going back to
work, most of them ran down to the river for swimming to release
their pent-up energy. Clothes were shed and the splashing went
wild. They were all like children at play. The girls of the
tribe looked at the adults in astonishment. They didn’t know
what was going on, but they loved it and were soon in the water
the splashing and fun gave way to serious bathing, for it was
quite common for these warrior women whose pursuits kept them
outdoors most of the time to find dust, dirt and grime on their
skin and in their hair.
Valkyra’s new apprentice said, “Let me wash your hair,
Sister; I love its golden color. You are so beautiful; I wish I
smiled at the seventeen year old young woman with short red hair
and said, “You are quite lovely, my dear, but you must
remember that it is not in how a woman looks that makes her
beautiful; it is in how she behaves that makes her attractive.
Why, some of the goddesses on Mount Olympus were very beautiful
physically, but their evil made them very ugly. If you can
retain goodness and justice in your actions, then you will
always be lovely.”
just lean back and relax as I wash your hair,” said Megakleia.
sighed as she was being pampered by Megakleia. “After you
rinse the soap out, put in some of this plant extract that I
brought with me from the Caucasus. It makes one’s hair feel
really soft after this harsh soap that we have to use. I will do
yours after you finish mine.”
asked, “Valkyra, how long do you think Jadea will keep that
horrible man prisoner in our village?”
do not know, but if he tries to escape, I hope I am the one who
sees him,” replied Valkyra in a dead serious manner. “I
would kill a rapist as well as a murderer.”
Up there on the riverbank! It is the Goddess Samsara and that
Japanese woman, Mariko,” said Megakleia as she pointed toward
the two women speaking in low voices. “Look! Samsara raised
her hand and lifted a sword from out of the river. “What does
gazed at the Goddess and answered, “I don’t have the
foresight to know, but it could mean that some more trouble is
heading this way.” Valkyra wiped the soap from her eye as she
added, “For some unknown reason, I fear for Karma’s life.”
stood beside her Co-Queen and spoke so that the two were the
only ones to hear what was said. "By bringing him here,
you've signed his death warrant," the Queen declared,
hoping that Jadea wouldn't notice how badly she wished to be the
few Amazons had failed to notice Jadea's attitude toward their
prisoner. That she'd brought him as a prisoner at all said
something in itself. It was widely known that Amazons did not
keep prisoners or slaves with but few exceptions, as in this
already dead, Medea," Jadea replied pointedly before adding
rather grimly, "He just hasn't figured that out, yet."
Queen Regent looked on as her Amazons took a much need break and
reveled exuberantly in the river. Some of the younger ones were
still yelping and laughing, but most of the older Amazons were
now in conversations.
will you do with him?" The Queen asked a minute later. She
was quiet and solemn, not usual for her personality. Her eyes
remained down on the water.
won't harm our Sisters, Medea," Jadea stated, somewhat in a
confident fashion. Her instincts told her that that's what
Medea's true concern was.
already harmed one of my Amazons. You," the Queen countered
Sorceress Empress sighed. She'd just seen her Niece retrieve the
sword she'd cast into the waters. "The
man will not live to harm another," she stated and turned
Queen called her to stay. "Samsara has been wanting to see
you, you know. I don't like that Mariko hanging about her. She's
always referring to your Niece as 'Great Destroyer' or 'Goddess
Kakistos,'" Medea commented.
see to her now," she answered and turned her head skyward.
"Ardra, find her and escort her to my hut." The hawk
immediately left without response.
turned again to the Queen beside her. Medea saw the angry
concern flashing in the Amazon's eyes. She was ever thankful
that Jadea did not hold such animosity towards her.
Medea...I am sorry."
Amazon leader quirked a brow. Okay now that was unexpected.
"For what?" She asked.
much. But in this case, for leaving you - both times. And for
bringing back an enemy I'd originally sought to kill in
somehow, Medea could see that Jadea felt responsible for a great
many things that she should not have. The Queen could see that
Jadea sought temperance in bringing the man she hated back
alive. Callisto's sister was desperately trying to not become
what she once was, what her sister had been, and what Xena had
nodded and clasped the hand of her Co-Queen. "Not that
you're in need of it from us, but you're forgiven. Now, go talk
some sense into Samsara."
nodded and left. She'd not get far before a startling surprise
caused her to freeze in her tracks.
The sound was masculine and so clear that
the woman couldn't be sure if she'd heard the words in her mind
or with her ears. I know you can hear me. You always could,
even the times you fought me. I can't blame you, though. I
fought you, as well. You'll be glad to learn that Conor
triumphed over the Bruce. The whole battle had your sign. It
practically reeked of you. I tried to save you, but you pushed
away. And now, I suspect, you will try to save Samsara. Don't be
surprised when she pushes you - and you lose her as I lost you.
clenched fists at both sides of her body and through much anger
and despair, Jadea uttered a single word.
took the child in her arms as Samsara strapped her weapon onto
her back. She took the child again and looked into her almond
colored eyes. "I won't use your knowledge for offensive
purposes, Mariko," she turned away from her mentor. "I
can't put Karma's life in danger."
put her in danger when you sought Rhea's Ruby. The Gods are
spitting angry that you killed the vulture that was to attack
Prometheus. They will eventually come for your child as
retribution, Goddess," the Eastern woman replied.
what am I supposed to do about that? I have the hind's blood.
They are stupid to come after anything mine."
but will hind's blood stop them if they all come together?
Safety in numbers, Athanase. It's something the Amazon Nation
also ensures our eventual death," Samsara whispered. She
watched the women bathe in the water, sending ripples down the
river. "Mariko, I can't inherit your kens. They are
is rude to deny a gift." Mariko followed many of the
traditions of the Amazons, including accepting a gift.
don't believe in pre-emptive strikes."
would be lying if I said I believed you."
turned around. "I will accept your training, Mariko. But, I
am mother and I have to think of my child..."
is what I am asking you to do," Mariko went back to camp,
leaving Samsara to watch the women in the river.
should I do, Karma?" she asked, as she started to bathe the
child. "I can't return to who I was. That would be unfair
to you. But I am an Amazon and I have the fighting spirit in me.
Amazons don't cause trouble but they defend when they
still paced the halls of Olympus. Hera sat contentedly and
smiled. "Dear husband, why do you worry? The Goddess is
Eastern woman called her Athanase. Do you realize what that
means? Athanase: Immortal!"
already knew she was immortal, Zeus."
turned to his wife. "Dear lady, she knew. But this news
that Ares isn't her father... ARES!"
God of War appeared.
is this?" the King of the Gods demanded. He opened up a
window and presented to him Apollo's confession. "What is
this? What was with you having your way with Callisto in the
father, like son," came Ares' dark response. He had his
hands clasped before him. Ares referred to the many times Zeus
had his way with mortals.
got angry. "You will not speak to me in that tone of
voice!" His words boomed all throughout Olympus. "If
not for your indiscretions we would not be in this situation
at your other favorite son, Zeus! He was the one who begot this
mess! Had Hestia not taken Jadea and Callisto's sister in the
first place, there would have been no soul to implant in that
ravenous banshee!" He was not going to take blame for
whatever Samsara did that was wrong, however he would take
credit if she accomplished anything great.
had better be afraid of your "daughter," Ares,"
Hera warned. "Once she regains her sense of anger, she will
come after you with a vengeance."
Zeus responded. "Perhaps not. Remember, Hera, she knows
that I knew. All the loyalty she had for me when she saved me
from the hind's blood dissipated when she looked up at that
clothed the child and looked above. Ardra was there signaling
that Jadea was free for a chat. Samsara had much to say to her.
right, you dumb bird, I'm coming, Samsara muttered in her head.
that in that tone and I'll drop you a gift, the hawk responded.
got to her feet and headed toward her Aunt/Sister.
was heading towards the Mess Hut when she almost ran into Jadea
again. Remembering the previous encounter, she was sure to avoid
her before Jadea noticed the Amazon was there.
saw Jadea stop and perk her head up. A
message, Thalia thought to herself. Should
she try to listen? She watched for a moment as Jadea
clenched her fists angrily. Who was talking to her? There were
only a select few that would be able to do that. Celosia,
Samsara, herself, and Angus. Where
had that Celt gone off to, anyway? Garrett was missing his
friend. Garrett. . . Thalia shook her head. She still had to sort out her
mess of emotions with him.
mind drifted back to Jadea. What had gone on? She cautiously approached the woman, wary of any
sudden moves, placing her hand on the Amazon's shoulder.
is fine," Jadea responded. "I'd not worry about
Thalia knew better. She decided not to press the issue. Besides,
Samsara walked right in at that very moment, holding her child
in her arms. "Thalia, could you excuse us for a
second?" the Goddess asked nicely.
nodded and left the mess hut, but not until after taking another
piece of Valkyra's special Caucasus recipe cake. Samsara smiled
at her as the biomorph walked out.
knew a great deal, Jade," Samsara started. She rarely
called her Jade. She only invoked the name in times of anger or
confrontation. This was confrontation. "Why did you keep it
secret from me?"
knowing the truth not only would not have set you free, but the
Pantheon would have crumbled sooner than ordained," she put
her hands on her hips. "You need to curb your temper."
is the one with the nasty temper, not me."
blood family," Jadea countered. "You have your
laughed. "Perhaps I do. But you see that I've held
fear that you may explode."
was right. Samsara did hold her anger, but it boiled inside her
like water in a pressure cooker. She was angry over Ares, her...
sire... doing what he had. She was angry that no one had told
her the entire truth before Apollo. She was angry that Hera
hadn’t struck her son down after he defiled a woman and that
Artemis hadn’t strung him up by the unmentionables. Samsara
didn't want to use Mariko's knowledge for the offensive, but she
knew that anything she learned she would apply against Ares in
fear for Karma."
looked up at her aunt. She had concentrated her vision on the
sleeping child in her arms, tiny hands clasped shut, holding a
tuft of her new mother's hair. Tiny eyes closed, tiny nose, tiny
lips pursed. The child was indeed the pinnacle of beauty,
enclosed in a small package that would grow slowly.
I know the Gods will come after her to insure that I am indeed
neutralized. Jadea, you know that by coming after anything mine,
I will strike back with a vengeance. If they come for me now,
let them be forewarned," she paused, looking around her.
The other Amazons eating the late night snack were intent on
their own conversation about loves, Garrett, the prisoner, and
the lack of significant action. Some even discussed politics of
the camp, Celosia's Nok’tana and Medea's obvious ascension.
Jadea's stand and Samsara's "manipulation" of the
rules for her advantage.
had a right to fear. The Gods were going to go after something,
and soon. They just had to wait.
am also concerned about your training,” Jadea commented
abruptly, looking from the babe in Samsara's arms and into the
stiffened. "What about it?" She growled defensively.
Sorceress Empress gave her a look she'd never seen before and
couldn't discern. "How much do you know about what you've
learned?" She asked.
are you talking about?" The Goddess quipped impatiently.
She never did like riddles, mostly because Ares had been too
fond of them.
talking about your parentage," Jadea began, feeling herself
begin to lose control.
her journey to Celtia, the Sorceress had been itching for a good
fight. She'd denied herself the opportunity when she brought her
enemy back with her. And now that Mariko, Samsara's mentor and
friend, had given the woman reason to doubt her - Jadea felt the
itch worsen. She quickly added behind that, "I'm also
talking about Mariko."
niece looked surprised and then suspicious. "What about
woman did not answer. Though she was aching for a fight, Jadea
lacked the will to combat her own niece. She thought once or
twice of visiting the Celt she'd captured, perhaps to exert some
pent up aggression. This whim passed, though, as her attention
became more and more focused on her Sisters. Jadea still had
Thalia to talk to, their previous encounter having bothered her
more than she thought.
narrowed her eyes. "What do you know that you're not
telling me, Jade?"
above in the air, Ardra flew patiently around from tree to tree
and watched her Mistress below.
was growing more worried as time passed. That Jadea had spared
Bruce’s life was a good sign. That she'd brought the
treacherous pig back with her, was not.
hawk sounded a strange call once or twice. A few Amazons from
various directions returned the call to see what the matter was.
Soon, Queen Medea and a few Amazon guards approached.
there a problem Sorceress Empress?" Medea asked, looking
from Jadea to Samsara and speaking as though she hoped for an
affirmative response - any excuse to have at it with the little
eyes rested on her Niece's for a moment. She turned her head to
look at the Queen. "No. No problem," she replied,
returning her eyes back onto her sister's daughter.
Because that horrid excuse for a human wants to see you."
whipped her head around again. "What? That's impossible.
I've insured that he can't talk to any Amazon."
Queen Regent tilted her head slightly forward. "That may be
but he's been bellowing for half an hour now. At first, the
women just ignored him, but his persistence lead them to report
it to me."
nodded, seeming to have lost all thought regarding Samsara.
"Very well. I'll deal with him,” she answered and began
to leave. An intruding voice in her head caught up with her.
no you don't! I asked you a question, Jadea.
was Samsara, of course. She had all the resilience and
persistence her mother had.
halted herself, turned sharply, and glared at her Niece. This
was certainly not the best time for a family feud. And Samsara
could see that in Jadea's eyes. What she didn't understand was
how her Aunt could go from being concerned and mildly irritated
into absolute fury. The cause, of course, had been the man
imprisoned in the Amazons' camp. Jadea'd suspected that it would
only be a matter of time before he made himself a nuisance.
me what you know," Samsara stated, holding her ground. She
failed to notice that Queen Regent Medea was behind her.
The Amazon leader cleared her throat, thus causing the Goddess
to curse herself for not hearing the woman's feet before her
you are standing near the edge. If you wish to go over, you're a
damn fool to think I won't try to stop you. Medea," Jadea
looked past Callisto's daughter. "See to it that Samsara
does not leave Themiscyra. And keep Mariko under close watch.
Post Pike, if you wish."
Queen simply nodded. "Understood, so long as you see to it
that our prisoner stops whining. Crying out in agony is one
thing, but hollering to see you or be heard is another."
nodded and, to save herself from being followed again,
teleported directly into the cell. The
Sorceress Empress was the sole person able to get past the
shield and to the prisoner. When she appeared, the Celt stood up
rattling the two chains behind him. Strong and muscular, as most
fierce some warriors tend to be, the man now looked like a
come," he said plainly, but he was obviously surprised to
had no choice. My Queen asked that I shut you up," she
retorted before her hand reached into a pouch at her side. The
Sorceress Empress often had various places on her person where
she hid things.
I believe," she said and tossed the object just as her
other hand released his hands, "that this belongs to
caught it just in time. He recognized the ring instantly.
never thought ya'd part with it," the man remarked as he
studied the ring's beauty.
learned to live with parting from a great many things," her
voice hit him hard, sounding as cold as the day he came into her
put the ring away with the intent of protecting it for some
reason. Perhaps, as he'd been denied all other personal
belongings, he felt a desire to hold on to this one last thing
allowed him. The Celt's blue crystals looked deeply into Jadea's
eyes. He searched for that one flicker, that one spark of the
woman he knew. For a flashing moment, he found her.
be saddened to hear that Conor's defeated your army."
the help of some Highland Amazons who landed onshore and made
rather remarkable timing in charging the battlefield. I suspect
you'll want time to grieve for the loss of your army," she
paused and noted the despaired look on his face.
"Unfortunately, I cannot afford the time to you. According
to Amazon law, you must be executed for your crimes against our
Sisters." Again she paused, resenting the next part she was
obligated to tell him.
law declares that you be given three days time from your capture
to prepare your defense, where upon you will be given the
opportunity to address the tribe. If at that time, you can
convince one Amazon to speak on your behalf, then you may stand
a chance. Of course, that won't happen. And even if the gods
intervened to make it so, that Amazon would still have to fight
the Queen to death in order to have your life spared."
the Amazon sorceress finished, she became aware that her mind
was not hers alone anymore. Another's thoughts were intruding
again. Such the speaker, ya are. And tell me, then, if your
Sister should defend him, will ya kill her for treason, Jade?
This is wrong and ya know it!
woman came within seconds of responding when she heard the Celt
do I know I won't be killed?" He asked in a tone Jadea
remembered. Calm and collected, it was.
may I speak with you?
She'd been one of the Amazons to dive in the waters and cool
herself off, relax a bit. Obviously, she'd returned sooner than
most of the others. The young Amazon huntress seldom if ever
asked anything of Jadea. So, the Amazon felt she ought to
her feet turned from him, she heard the man's voice in her mind.
died a thousand deaths for what I did to your Sisters, Jade.
moving her tongue, she replied, and you'll die a thousand
vanished and set out to find Antigone. As Jadea walked, she
began talking aloud - a habit she used to have under control.
"Ach, I still need to talk to Thalia. Oh, no. Garret's
going to wonder where Angus is. I've not seen him yet, and I
know that's why he hasn't asked. In the name of Brighid, could
things be simple just once?"
Queen Regent of Themiscyra waited for Jadea to exit before she
started shouting out orders to her sisters.
she called imperiously, setting her gaze on the young warrior.
"I'm assigning you a very important task. You are to stick
to your orders and only your orders until either myself or Queen
Jadea informs you otherwise, understood?"
cringed inwardly at hearing herself using Jadea's present title.
She still hadn't been able to bring herself to confess that she
was relived the Sorceress Empress had returned. Which was
ridiculous because everyone else in the tribe saw it, clear as
understand, my Queen!" Pike answered, unable to mask her
enthusiasm. This was one of Pike's first missions of true
significance. If she didn't mess this up it could be her ticket
to real status in the tribe, and definitely to the favor of her
superiors. Of course it wasn't either of those things that
really drove the Amazon. It was simply exciting to be assigned a
definite task in this time of organized chaos.
Go find the eastern woman that Kakis-" Medea mentally
reprimanded herself. "Samsara has been associating with.
Stick to her like flame to the pyre--you got me?" Pike
nodded, eyes sparkling eagerly. Medea couldn't help but smirk.
"All right then warrior, get moving."
as for the rest of you," the severe-looking woman sneered
at Samsara, though she addressed everyone else in the tent but
the Goddess. "You all heard the Sorceress. Miss Goddess
here isn't allowed out of Themiscyran borders. All of you will
be keeping an eye on Samsara."
Goddess' eyes flashed with something feral and Celosia's sister
felt her spine tingle slightly. She remembered that she had
agreed to pay Kakistos some respect and therefore added a
somewhat forced: "Be discreet about it as she has a child
and she doesn't need twenty shadows scaring her. Should there be
any abnormal activity on the Goddess' part, inform myself or
Jade--" Medea paused. Jadea had enough on her plate.
"Inform me," she finished tonelessly.
her gauntlets, the Queen Regent rolled her shoulders once and
nodded, satisfied that her job had been done. "All right,
that's all for now. I'll leave you to your break, sisters."
that, Medea turned on her heel and exited the tent with her head
held even higher than usual. She felt great. A chance to issue
orders and to spite Samsara. It was turning into a beautiful
day. Grinning at the sky, Medea ran a hand through her spiky
platinum tresses and sighed contently.
if you're weaseling in on my thoughts, things are finally
shook her head as the fiery Regent exited. She turned to Pike
with a look of warning.
understand you have to obey orders," Samsara said.
"That does not mean that I'll make it easy for you,"
she turned and left.
arched an eyebrow and walked out, finding Mariko waiting for
Samsara in the village square. The Goddess stalked to her and
they had a quiet conversation. Seriana showed up and took Karma
from Samsara. She disappeared into the Mess Hut for a moment,
then reappeared at her sisters side. Then the three went to the
I will train you in the art of the kens as well," Mariko
looked at the woman and raised an eyebrow. "I am skilled in
kens are not like the Grecian swords you use. You must handle
them differently, as they are single-edged blades and swipe
differently." She demonstrated with one of her kens, then
did the same twirls and maneuvers with Samsara's sword. The
movements were extremely fluid with Mariko's ken, but Samsara's
sword proved cumbersome.
trained with the kens and soon Seriana and Samsara were squaring
off, each with a sword. The cool night air surrounded the two
Sisters as they sparred. Mariko stopped the exercise and
requested that Seriana get a staff from the weapon's hut. She
with Samsara. I would like to see the techniques the
Themiscyrans and Teloans use," she said.
Hawk was wary. "I'm not well trained in the use of the
are better than you say you are, Seriana Ritani. Spar with your
two did so. The sparring continued for hours, as Mariko
critiqued technique and commented on stance and composure. Pike
continued to watch them.
all knew and that bothered Samsara. If she wasn't the daughter
of Ares, then how could she be bestowed with the powers that she
had? Callisto had been immortal, but not a goddess, when she
gave birth to Samsara and therefore had no powers to bequeath to
stopped in mid-swing and Seriana's staff came crashing down onto
Samsara's shoulder. "Oh, dear Gods!" shouted the
older. Mariko simply looked on. Ser' dropped her staff and
looked at her sister in utter disbelief.
I still need to talk to Thalia. Oh, no. Garret's going to wonder
where Angus is. I've not seen him yet, and I know that's why he
hasn't asked. In the name of Brighid, could things be simple
came Samsara's voice. We
need to talk.
now, Samsara, was
the Sorceress' response.
NOW, Jade," the Master of War said. "You will tell me
why I am a Goddess."
Antigone attempted to talk to Jadea. She noted that several
times, the Sorceress Empress would look away as though bothered
by something unrelated to what was being said.
hoped that you would hear me out on this," she said as
Jadea's eyes came back to her.
had upset her more than she'd thought. Jadea couldn't understand
how his thoughts could be so strong and clear in her mind when
he was still in Celtia...or was he? That agitated her nerves, as
you out?" The Amazon Co-Queen returned curiously. She'd
only half-heard what Antigone had to say.
the prisoner," Antigone scrunched her eyebrows with
about the prisoner?" Jadea asked, her voice rising in
think he is a danger to keep in camp," the Huntress
answered, taken aback by Jadea's sudden fierceness.
Themiscyra's Sorceress soon calmed down. "Oh, don't worry
about him, my Sister. He will be dead before the next full
moon." Actually, much sooner, she added to herself.
"Rest assured that he will not cause you nor any one of us
harm, Antigone. Now, I must go attend to something."
gave a respectful nod which Antigone immediately returned. She
left, seeking peace in her own hut.
changing her clothes, Jadea heard the somber voice of Ardra. Your sister's daughter is headed your
growled, but she thanked her guardian hawk for the heads up.
entered the hut with a clear sign of anger in her eyes. She
hated being kept in the dark. What the Sorceress needed now
...was a diversion.
diversion, though not planned, was exactly what happened. As
soon as Samsara stepped into the tent, there was a loud squeal
and crashing noises.
two Amazon peeked out of the tent to see a wild boar crashing
through the camp, squealing like mad. Apparently it had stumbled
upon the camp from the woods, and all the people around were
making it panic and it didn't know its way out.
dove to snatch one of the little girls out of harm's way just in
time for the boar to pass. "Get the little ones back!"
She ordered. Now, how did they get this pig out of here?
it knocked over another table and got tangled in one of the
tents. Seriana started to go for it, but it untangled itself and
ran between her legs.
it!" Yelled Valkyra as it ran.
dove and missed, landing on one of the fallen tables.
went for it again, managing to grab its tail but only making it
more panicked. It broke free and went squealing off, crashing
into more tables and belongings.
Garret managed to arrive on the scene at an unfashionable time.
No sooner had he stepped into the main circle when the pig
crashed into his legs and sent him to the ground. Thalia giggled
and helped the poor man to his feet.
sooner had he gotten to his feet, when the boar came at him
again. He moved out of the way and dove for it, missing and
landing in a big pile of mud. The others giggled.
was laughing when it ran under her legs causing HER to fall in
the mud as well. She stood up and grabbed the laughing Xanthea,
pulling her into the mud as well. What ensued was a crazy,
mud-flinging wrestling fest with a wild boar running through it.
and Jadea watched in amusement. Finally there was a loud squeal
and everyone looked over to see Garrett pinning the pig. "I
got it!” He yelled. Dragging it off to the outside of the
village, he let it free.
came back to clapping, and bowed amidst the applause. A second
later, he was hit in the stomach with a piece of mud. Another in
the face. Then another and another...
Samsara straightened her neck as Seriana had really knocked it
out of alignment. Then, she rolled her shoulders back and looked
at her Aunt.
looked across the room to her sister's daughter and internally
groaned. I do not have
time for this, she thought.
know more than what I've been told," Samsara started again.
She had her hands on her hips. Her staff leaned against a table.
Samsara could say anymore, there was a commotion outside. The
Goddess grabbed her staff as Jadea leaped from the bed. Whatever
it is they heard, it was clearly bad.
rushed outside to see a figure obviously not Amazon cowering on
the ground. About fifty paces away was Valkyra, lowering her
Mongolian riding bow and arrow. Her long, blonde hair was still
wet from the bath in the Thermodon, her clothes clinging to her
body. The Weapons Master was truly a sight to see, standing in
defense of her Sisters, stone-cold look on her face, head held
other Amazons nearby started to close in on the muddied
individual writhing on the floor. An arrow stood from his left
rear, rendering him unable to escape. Each of the women held a
kind of weapon in their possession: mace, chobos, spear.
Whatever they had they had trained on the person.
meanwhile, pulled out one of her more deadly arrows and readied
her bow to shoot. Thalia stepped out and stopped her, forcing
her to put down her weapon before she made a grave mistake.
stepped in immediately, for she knew it wasn't Bruce cowering on
the ground. "Garrett, what are you doing?"
man explained that he was attempting to find an unoccupied hut,
but he had gone the wrong direction from Bruce's holding cell.
As he explained himself, Samsara knelt down and removed the
arrow, healing him completely.
she isn't how I was," Athanase remarked. "Or, she'd
have slaughtered you like the dog she may make you out to
be." She helped him up and patted him on the bottom.
"See? All better."
playfully pushed Garrett. "You should have asked me for
directions, you know."
Sorceress took this as her opportunity. "I'm turning in
now." She moved toward her hut.
hope you don't mind that Mariko is sleeping in your hut as
well," Samsara reminded. "If not, she may stay with
me." This isn't over,
dear Aunt of mine. Not by a long shot...
at all," Jadea replied sweetly. All that much easier to
watch her like a hawk, she thought to herself, then heard a
soft coughing in her head.
would be my job, Ardra commented to her Mistress.
silently thanking whatever powers that be for creating the
perfect diversion, Jadea retreated quietly to her hut.
did not sleep well that night. Flashbacks plagued her mind's
eye, and she tossed and turned throughout the night. Roughly an
hour after falling asleep, Mariko snuck in silently and laid
down on the makeshift pallet provided for her. She looked over
at the Amazon Sorceress and began to intrude in the woman's
warning, Jadea bolted into an upright position. She glanced to
her right to the seemingly sound asleep Eastern Woman. The
Amazon slipped on her boots and teleported into Samsara's hut. A
heavy sigh of relief escaped her when she saw that her niece
slept peacefully with Karma in a small wooden cradle beside her.
the woman vanished and reappeared beside the young Amazon. She,
too, was asleep, curled up like a kitten.
smiled. Her family was safe, and there was no need to worry. But
the Sorceress Empress worried all right. Samsara would demand to
know the name of her father soon enough. And she'd also want to
know all details surrounding how she came to be born.
just isn't the time, though. Zeus and the other gods are
plotting some way to retrieve Rhea's Ruby and get Samsara.
They'll be putting their plans into motion soon.
thought of her sister and how Callisto had spent a lifetime
seeking revenge for the loss of her family. What had unknowingly
driven her was that guilt she carried; the guilt of having been
unable to protect her mother and sister. Callisto hated that
nearly as much as she hated Xena. True, the Warrior Princess had
taken her family and childhood from her, but she hadn't even
been able to fight back. And that is what motivated her into
becoming the formidable warrior she became.
the recesses of Jadea's mind, she heard someone faintly call out
to her. A low snarl was uttered. Seriana flinched a bit but did
not wake up.
with her cape cascading from her body, Jadea cleared her throat.
Bruce looked up, blinking as he did so, and saw who stood before
him. Two torches on opposite walls provided the only light.
ya not sleep, either?" He queried softly. The Celt's eyes
fell gently upon the woman, despite the harsh conditions she
held him in.
stared at him hard. She couldn't allow him to stay in Themiscyra
much longer. His presence was affecting her too greatly.
"Before I took you from Eire, you gave an order to your men
that if faced with fighting Amazons they were not to kill them.
eyebrows lifted as surprise filled his blue eyes. Bruce couldn't
believe she knew about that. "I..." He stammered and
shook his head.
I know. Now tell me why," she pressed him for the reason
and stepped closer to him until she was within arm's reach. The
prisoner could practically feel the heat emanating from her.
his eyes, the Celt surrendered to her question. His eyes opened
as he looked up to her once more. "After you spared my
life, I resolved I'd never again take another woman's life. To
this day, I have not."
studied his eyes, his bearing, and all the aspects she knew to
read. He wasn't lying to her, and she almost wished he was.
then, the Sorceress Empress became aware that someone was
looking for her. Across the camp, she heard an Amazon ask about
her. Leaving without a word, Jadea appeared behind Samsara.
for me?" She asked and nearly caused the Goddess to jump to
hair whipped around as she turned with a bewildered expression.
"How did you . . . forget it. I want to talk to you.
a sort of slanted look, Jadea retorted, "Then you'll have
stepped away from her niece and in the direction of her own hut.
As she passed by, she saw Pike standing outside. The Amazon gave
a smile and respectful nod which the Jadea returned to her. She
then lead her niece into the forest, noting that Ardra traveled
discreetly among the trees.
why won't you tell me-"
the Sorceress cut in. "You want to know what I'm hiding and
why," her voice was low and almost timid.
Goddess sighed but nodded once. "Yes."
moments passed before her Aunt would speak. She knew that
somewhere nearby one of her Sisters was watching. "Your
mother was immortal when she had you. She could not be killed.
She had no need of food or water. She could not even the feel
the elements of Nature."
Queen paused, painfully reminded of missing Callisto. It was
something she didn't like to admit to herself, and had never
admitted to another being, save Rumyna. "Anything
short of slicing off her limbs, Callisto feared nothing. And
then she had you. To your mother, it was like losing our mother
all over again."
losing you," Samsara added gently, and the Amazon nodded.
no longer had her own pain to focus on. Callisto didn't want you
to suffer the way that she had. And if she'd known about me,
she'd not have wanted you to feel the pain I endured
voice became slowly stronger as she continued, but her spirit
degenerated. "At the time your mother had you, she was
worse than ever before. Her demons were larger, darker, and
tormented her frequently. Her obsession with vengeance and Xena
increased, but her hopes for success became grim. One night, she
camped out under the stars. For the first time since she became
an immortal, Callisto fell asleep. When she awoke, Ares was
Amazon Sorceress stopped and turned from her niece, heading back
the way she'd come. Samsara followed closely, though what she
heard was impacting her immensely. Little of what Jadea said
made any sense to her. "And...?" The Goddess urged
when her Aunt would say nothing more.
had you. Samsara, you are here and you are alive. That is what
matters, now. You've a babe to raise and protect. This path that
Mariko has you on...will destroy Karma if you continue on it.
Now please...I must take care of something."
with that, Jadea disappeared to lure out her Sister. As she
left, Samsara stood with a stunned look and mulled over what
she'd been told. The Goddess was too suspicious to believe Jadea
had told her everything. But it was a start.
you're far too superior a scout to reveal yourself so easily.
Why don't you come out here now?"
Amazon flipped down off a branch and met with a disapproving
you be in bed?" The Sorceress asked.
young warrior chuckled. "I slept earlier. Can I talk to you
about something?" Her voice lifted with hope. Jadea nodded.
of course, my Sister. And pray tell, what do you wish to talk
about?" Jadea's voice lightened when she cracked a smile.
Indeed, her Sisters still retained some innocence that she could
not help but love.
biomorph sighed mildly, responding with a single word.
Jadea walked on with the Head Scout by her side, she wondered to
herself if any of her Sisters ever slept when they were supposed
to. Perhaps the night has stirred some of them, she thought
and attentively listened while Thalia spoke about Garrett.
her subconscious, Jadea was reminded that she must speak to the
man about Angus.
greeted Themiscyra with a bright warm light and found Thalia
seated with Jadea...still talking about men.