Themiscyra, the air was tense and felt by all residing there.
The Sorceress Empress escorted the young Zia to Valkyra,
instructing that their newest Sister be afforded the proper
training. Valkyra, as Weapons Master and already current mentor
to a handful of Amazons, had enough on her plate. Still, she did
not refuse Jadea. Something in the way she'd seen the woman kill
her opponent hours earlier...a feeling she could not
name...concerned her deeply.
comfort, Thalia entered the Med hut. She visited with Xanthea
for a few minutes. The conversation soothed her nerves. The
Healer possessed a natural ability to help her Sisters in such
times. Thalia left soon after, though, heading for the Mess hut
where food preparations and dishes awaited her.
Jadea had gone off by herself. Her condition had gradually
degenerated from the moment she'd brought him back with her. Now
that she'd betrayed her Nation with her act, Callisto's sister
began to feel her strength ebbing away from her. She had learned
long ago the price a secret can demand. Knowing that this secret
had been her darkest placed fear into the Amazon's heart.
the Sorceress returned to camp from her solitary journey through
the forest, Queen Medea stood waiting for her with a clear
good of you to come back, Jadea!" She exclaimed as her
hands flew up from her hips.
co-ruler walked past her, replying as she did so, "Don't
start with me, Medea."
Celosia's sister had never been one to let go of something
easily. She turned right behind the woman and followed.
"Oh, I'm goin' to start all right! You bring our enemy
here, fine. You challenge him, fine. That was your right. You
kill him in fair combat, fine. But strangely I find that I've
had a damn ROMAN in my lands! Tell me, WHY didn't I know about
Amazon Sorceress didn't answer. She entered the command hut,
plopping down in the one and only chair present.
"Breahdora!" She called out, noting that Medea stood
near her with an exasperated look.
Amazon entered immediately and placed her first to her chest
with a bowed head. "Yes, Queen Jadea!"
us some water." She ordered in a calm voice. Despite
Medea's anger, Jadea herself was a great many things - but not
instantly left, returning shortly with Thalia in front of her.
The Scout held a tray with two silver goblets containing cold,
crystal water. The Queen Regent came within one moment of
snapping at her.
I believe Garrett is looking for you. Why don't you find
Sister looked at her, glancing a couple of times at Medea. She
fumbled for a reply. "I...I-"
has mess hut duty, that's why," Medea broke in with a
when?" Jadea stood up to ask.
I ordered she did," the Queen Regent countered and stepped
a moment or two, it looked as if Jadea would counter her order.
In a sense, she did. Turning her head to Thalia, she gave a soft
smile. "Very well. Thalia once you've finished your chores
with our food, I command you to find Garrett. Tell him that I am
sorry I could not bring Angus back with me, but that I am
certain the two will see each other in the future."
gave a slight nod, a joyful surprise in her eyes. "Yes, of
course. Thank you!" She turned and left. Medea gasped at
stop it! I realize that Seri's not here for you to pick on
anymore, but using Thalia instead is beneath you," She
observed, sitting back down as her head turned briefly.
"Besides, we may have to prepare for war. We don't need our
Queen persecuting our Head Scout because a Roman boy came to
warn us that Caesar's men march toward us," Jadea added,
her voice ringing of seriousness.
Medea paused for a moment, astounded at how swiftly Jadea's mood
could alter. She'd gone from a livid Co-Queen to a concerned
Amazon warrior in nearly three seconds flat.
about Samsara's army? That...Dachus is supposed to be our front
against any attack," Medea took her goblet up and gulped
army is strong and Dachus is a good commander. But they're
nothing against Caesar. No, no what I need is my niece as Queen
of Teloq. Athanase could join us. Whatever legions he sends
would not be enough to defeat two Amazon tribes and an allied
did you just say?" Medea ejaculated suddenly. Jadea's head
came up, confusion in her eyes.
said whatever legions he sends-"
before that. You said, 'Athanase could join us.'" Her eyes
pierced the depths of her Co-Queen's.
did?" The sorceress slightly shook her head. "Huh.
Well, Athanase is Samsara." She seemed merely fazed by the
reference she'd used. Medea, however, seemed greatly upset.
KNOW who Athanase is! The point is, you called her
Athanase!" The Queen Regent looked as if she might hit
Jadea to knock some sense into her.
is the big deal, Medea?" The woman asked casually.
sister stepped back, eyeing Jadea as if for the first time.
"You've never called your niece that before."
and Seriana moved about their old village. They hadn't known
each other when they lived there. In fact, one never knew the
other existed until they reached Themiscyra at different times.
Seriana felt safe despite the circumstances of her leave. The
person who betrayed her trust and informed Ares of her
whereabouts was promptly executed. Both women were worried about
the impending "Uelled" - Death Joust. The day went by
quickly although the days were getting longer. This didn't help
the sisters any.
Highland Elder reached them. "It is almost time, High
looked at the woman and smiled. "You can go back at any
time, Elder," she responded. "You really have no
Jadea sent me. I have to stay," was the woman's response.
"I'll be sitting with the Pentad in their Tower and I'll be
watching your fight. Seriana I assume will sit by me?"
Hawk nodded. She hated the entire idea of the joust, almost as
much as her younger "sister" but she knew what duty
entailed. She merely feared for her sister, considering her way
of handling Medea when she attempted to challenge her. If Sami
won't fight she thought will she survive ten candlemarks with
Athenia? "Yes, I'll support my sister from the Tower."
She pulled out her Ruby Dagger and handed it to her sister.
"When you go for the kill, do it with this. I can't feel
anything but disgust for Athenia and I wouldn't mind her blood
on my blade."
took the dagger and gave a thank you. "I'll use it well,
you know that right?"
nodded. They looked toward the setting sun. The moon was already
out, still reflecting her brother's rays at half-strength. It
walked toward the center of the village. They were between the
water tower, the Pentad Tower, and the various watch towers that
dotted the dusty ground. Samsara went into her old hut, still
intact since she left and dressed in ceremonial battle clothes
that she intended never to wear again. A long, sleeveless tan
tunic with green embroidery, long green pants and boots. She
pulled up her ponytail into a twist. She armed herself with her
Hephaestian sword, long dagger, and Seriana's dagger, both short
blades at her legs.
turned to Seriana again. "I know this is too much right
now, but I want to give you something," She bowed her head
and removed the necklace on her. "I want you to be
Protector of the Blood in my place."
eyes began to tear up. She accepted the Hind's Blood Pendant and
wore it around her neck. "You will come back to me, you
realize that, Sam," she said. "Don't you give up on
Goddess smirked. "Have I ever?"
and the Elder walked out. It was time for them to go to the
Tower. A horn was sounded. Samsara finished her preparations and
stepped out just as the drums started. The Teloans on the ground
were chanting. The fires licked high into the sky as the
bonfires were lit around the fight circle. The women's voices
began to harmonize and melt into each other. The ancient tribal
sounds filled the air until Samsara with her staff - the
challenger - was within the confines of the circle. Suddenly,
the music took an ominous turn as Athenia walked out of her hut,
dressed for battle. She wore all black and each braid of her
ponytail was laid over either shoulder. She eyed her prey
through slit eyes and with a smirk across her face.
to die, Samsara," she whispered. She was armed with a sword
and various smaller daggers. As soon as she was within the
confines, the chanting stopped.
stood. She wore her Phoenix mask and her ceremonial clothes.
Solari, Second-in-Command, pulled out her bow and prepped it
with an arrow dipped in fire. As soon as the arrow met with the
dusty ground, the oil spread across it would catch on fire and
the two contenders would be trapped inside.
ancient Amazonian law dictates," the Chief Elder began,
"the contenders must use their primary weapon until it is
of no value to them. Samsara Athanase Achala Kakistos, High
Princess, demands to use her staff. Athenia Cordula Mellicent
demands to use her daggers. The joust will commence once the
flames have met and will ensue until either fighter is dead.
Petitioners must request the permission of the Chief Elder
before killing." Solari squeezed and let go of the arrow.
The circle fired up immediately. "Fight!"
twirled her staff. "I didn't want it to come down to this,
Athenia. You can still abdicate if you do it within the first
couple of candlemarks..."
grabbed two of her many throwing knives. "Not a chance,
Goddess. This title is mine!"
Athanase's aunt rose to her feet. Before she could speak,
though, another image flashed suddenly into her mind. The vision
lasted longer than her first one had in the arena.
saw the Amazon Goddess in a ring of fire, a focused expression
marking her face. She saw the face of Athenia, Samsara's
opponent, just as the warrior flung two daggers at her. Cheers
went up when one of the blades nicked Samsara's hand. The image
vanished, and Jadea dropped the goblet in her hand.
what is it?" Medea asked cautiously. She'd seen enough of
the Sorceress to know when something was amiss.
in trouble. She's in a death joust with a Teloan. I must
go," she started to walk out when Medea caught her arm as
Jadea. This is her fight. You told me that yourself,
looked into her eyes as she spoke. The eyes looking back at her
were filled with a range of emotions...mostly fear. Fear was one
emotion that Jadea did not show often. Between Rumyna's
training, her Amazon conditioning, and the life experiences
she'd accumulated, Callisto's sister had achieved the ability
for masking her fear without the need to try. That said, when
Queen Medea recognized the terror in her Sister's eyes - she
began to feel fearful herself.
she needs my help. I can't just let her die!" Jadea tore
her arm out of Medea's grasp and moved for the exit. She stopped
with one spoken word.
Medea's voice had never been so calm nor so desperate. She
didn't speak again, but she didn't have to.
that precise moment, a shout erupted outside followed by what
sounded like a scuffle between Amazons. Jadea charged outside
with Medea promptly at her heels.
the blazes is goin' on?" The Queen demanded in a tone
reminiscent of her days as Regent.
message arrived from Teloq, my Queen. The language is Highland,
I believe," the eldest of the Amazons in the group
that here," Jadea instructed and broke past her Co-Queen.
Sorceress read the epistle silently. The Highland Elder to
travel with Samsara and Seriana had written Themiscyra to inform
that their arrival had been anything but welcoming.
looked up at Medea. "Athenia."
Queen Regent raised a brow at the name. "Velasca's
Sorceress Empress nodded, handing her the message.
"Samsara's challenged her for the Mask of the Queen. I know
my Highland Sister. She sent this as speedily as she
could...which means the death joust is under way as I
looked up from the message in her hands. "What do you
intend to do?" Her voice edged on the side of caution.
once told me that a person with faith is ten times as stronger
as one without," her eyes skimmed over the Amazons around
them. For some reason, the reception of a message from Teloq had
stirred the women up.
was a wise woman. But you avoid my question. What do you intend
glints of her former self igniting in her eyes, Jadea smiled
wide. "I'm going to give faith a kick so powerful that Rome
shall feel it."
her feet turned away and lead her off, Jadea called to certain
Amazons. "Antigone! Arm yourself with a fresh quiver and
take to the trees! I don't want any more Roman visitors. Leda!
Take as team of Amazons and ride along our borders. If I'm
right, those Majie medallions should still be hanging from our
trees. If so much as one of them is missing, get your Sisters
back here immediately!"
what are you up to?" Medea yelled as she caught up with the
going to keep Rome at bay without disobeying Celosia's order.
Even if I must turn over our catapults to Dachus to do it. Now,
are you going to fight me on this - or will you help?"
and only in partial agreement with Jadea, the Queen Regent
nodded in a half-shrug and a sigh. "Fine. But when sis gets
back, this falls on your head, right?"
gave a smile and nod. "Right. Now get to work," Jadea
stated, again going off in another direction.
Since when do you trust me to handle strategies?"
a beam, the Amazon simply returned, "I told you before.
Celosia has faith in you. Besides, I have to buy Sami some
time!" Jadea yelled, turning as she disappeared.
Athena!" The Sorceress Empress greeted the Goddess sweetly
before making herself shown. "My, my! Quite the busy
Olympian, aren't we?"
fireball shot out from Jadea's hand, knocking Athena in her
chest. "Tsk tsk tsk. A Goddess of your Wisdom should have
more sense...not to mention a decent set of manners."
got up almost as quickly as went down. Her demeanor exhibited a
warrior's worst qualities - anger, hatred, and absolute
as for how I dare - quite easily when my family is in danger.
What about you Athena?"
Goddess charged forward with her sword raised. The move was
undeniably impulsive, not at all in her character. Jadea, of
course, vanished before she could be harmed. Yet, the Sorceress
had not gone far. Remaining cloaked, her voice carried like the
whistle of certain spears as they speed through the air.
warned you. Callisto warned you. Samsara warned you. For Zeus'
sake, Ares warned you. I fear, Athena, that you have exhausted
all chances. Target my Sister and I contend that you will
returned to Themiscyra. There, she found some pleasant news.
never believe this," Medea began as an Amazon passed her,
"but the Romans have retreated. I sent Ardra to be sure.
She said that an order was given for them to return to
like to believe-" Jadea's reservations were interrupted.
haven't finished. Ardra also told us that a second legion had
broken away from the Roman troops. You'll never guess what
direction they went in."
Jadea did guess. The soldiers her Sister Queen undoubtedly
referred to were those previously under Bruce's command. With
news of his "death," they no longer had reason to
move, that one. You want to prove that the Amazon Nation means
more than Rome to you. Clever, indeed. I wonder where you will
send your men, though. If they return to Eire, Conor will crush
them. If they return to Britannia, the Highland tribe or the
Iceni tribe or some other Amazon tribe would crush them, Jadea's
thoughts caused her heart to escalate the internal war waging
Jade, didn't you hear me? I said the legion was heading for the
seas! They're leaving."
Sorceress snapped back to the conversation. She seemed to have
preferred her thoughts to Medea's newfound enthusiasm.
Medea would have been overjoyed at the idea of a war. The
problem was that Celosia explicitly stated her desire for the
Themiscyrans to remain in Themiscyra. What made it all the more
worse for the Queen was that she didn't want Celosia to return
to a list of fallen Amazons.
heard you," Jadea said quietly, though she was clearly
someplace else. By now, she could only hope Samsara had won the
death joust and now presided as Queen of Teloq.
the next couple of hours, Themiscyra was calm.
the second set of daggers whizzed by Samsara deflected them with
and Akvoryai watched on either side of Serena. Both were quite
worried for the well-being of the Goddess. Both knew she didn't
want to fight Athenia, but simply had no choice. Samsara was
only throwing defensive moves, deflecting knife after knife with
use your sword," Seriana whispered. "Just end it! Use
that second, Athenia faltered. Samsara took it as a sign. She
always knew Athenia to be strong by the grace of Athena and if
the Amazon were to falter it would be because of Athena. The
Goddess suddenly lunged for Athenia with her staff, knocking her
opponent down onto the dusty ground. Sand clouded up and
dissipated from the force of the fall. Samsara forced the butt
of her weapon down onto Athenia's chest and looked up at Serena.
Chief Elder gave the signal and Samsara immediately reached down
her leg for Seriana's dagger.
mistake. Athenia used the oldest trick in the book to deflect a
death blow. She gathered up a handful of dirt and threw it
violently onto Samsara's face. The grains embedded themselves in
the Goddess' eye and sent her stumbling back, dropping her
staff. Athenia kicked herself up and pulled out her sword. She
twirled her weapon and screamed: "FIGHT IF YOU DESIRE
words reminded Samsara of her old self, the one who told Xena:
"Forget dying standing," in the midst of the Majie
war. The inflection of Athenia's voice enraged her. How dare she
forget the warrior code? She pulled out her sword and charged
for the Amazon. They clashed blades immediately. The Great
Destroyer was back and she would fight Athenia to the finish, no
matter how long it would take.
or I will defeat you, Athenia," Samsara growled.
on your pathetic life, Pretender!" the other snarled.
Athenia focused too much on her threats for she faltered again.
With one swipe, Samsara knocked the sword from her hand.
Defenseless, the woman stepped back then charged for the Goddess
Great Destroyer blocked the blow with a kick of her own. Oh, she
was beginning to relish this. She wanted to extend this battle
until Athenia was begging for her mercy. She threw her own sword
down and walked to Athenia, grabbing her by the collar of her
black tunic. She hoisted her to her feet again, then smacked
her. Then a serious uppercut made Athena's protectorate step
back, holding her nose.
was watching from the stands with the Elders. She eyed her
sister. Would I venture to say that Sami's back? she thought
Samsara kicked and punched a defiant Athenia. The woman
countered with jabs of her own, but they were of no effect on
the High Princess. Soon, the archer began to moan in severe
pain. That ticked off the Great Destroyer. With every kick and
punch, she drove home the following words: "You will not
tell me when you have had enough. I will tell you when you have
had enough, for I will be Queen Empress of the Teloan Amazons. I
am your ruler. I will ascend to the throne."
finally pushed Athenia down to the ground and placed her boot on
the woman's stomach just under Athenia's diaphragm, forcing her
to gasp for air. She looked up at Serena with Seriana's dagger
in hand and uttered the very words that would compromise the
question: "Serena, Chief Elder of the Teloan Pentad
Council, I ask for a warrant. What say you?"
Eraelterinob Teloan Rat, rageum'f Efehlb umze Od'teh! Aswah
stood and waved her hand gracefully.
that was the last that Athenia saw. The flames were doused
immediately. Seriana rushed down the winding stairs of the tower
and rushed into her sister's arms. Samsara shut her eyes
the gods, I knew you'd be ok," Seriana breathed.
Goddess exhaled strongly. "I wasn't so sure for a
while..." Indeed the Teloan was not confident that she
could defeat Athenia. The shock of the victory surprised the
re-affirmed High Princess.
Karma in her arms, Jadea hummed a lullaby she'd learned in
Celtia. Her eyes gazed at the sleeping baby with tenderness. The
Amazon was lost in a pool of thoughts when another image decided
time, though, Jadea became relieved at what she saw. Her
sister's one and only daughter had defeated Athenia without
falling prey to her darker self. Somehow, motherhood had
realigned Samsara's priorities, as well as some of her methods.
Sorceress smiled and gently placed Karma in her cradle. Her eyes
remained on the child, fixated almost in a trance. Jadea had
learned to take every precaution possible, which often meant
using her powers without others knowing or consenting. The
Sorceress Empress placed a spell upon Karma, rendering the child
incapable of being harmed by any god. Her better instincts
warned her that Athena would not heed so quickly.
is it that when I think I have finally found some peace in life
a god feels the need to interfere?" She asked herself
aloud, looking up from the infant.
truth was that Jadea's generous visit to the Goddess of Wisdom
had quaintly put a damper on Athenia's stealth. The Sorceress
Empress suspected but did not know this for certain. She'd
simply gone to distract Athena from attacking. A modest little
plan, to be sure, but one that nonetheless appeared to have
to the woman, however, someone had slipped into her hut and
overheard her counsel with herself. That someone chose to answer
believe..." A male voice stated and paused just as Jadea
turned with a defensive movement. Her guard relaxed slightly to
see that it was Garrett. "The gods would be bored without
us to entertain them."
came forward before stopping suddenly when the Co-Queen threw up
a sword between them. "You may be right about that. But is
it worth your life to find out?" The Sorceress quipped in a
deadly tone. She'd never been too fond of surprise appearances.
sorry. I came to see you," he fell quiet and his solemn
expression convinced her to lower the sword.
It was bluntly asked.
told me about Angus," Garrett replied softly and gestured
for permission to sit. Jadea nodded reluctantly. An
interrogation, albeit an innocent one, was not what she wanted
right now. As fortune favored, Garrett didn't have one in mind.
what did she tell you?" The Amazon inquired, her voice
never once asked if either Seriana or Samsara had revealed
everything in the message she'd sent when in Britannia. If
Thalia knew about Angus' treachery, it was likely that she may
have told Garrett. However, Thalia had a protective instinct
similar to that of her Sisters which may have led her to
withhold the information.
that affairs back home prevented him from accompanying you this
time." He eyed her thoughtfully, recalling the way she
looked when she'd killed that Celt in the arena. Garrett found
Jadea particularly difficult to figure out. More so since she'd
never displayed such aggression toward him or Angus.
apologize, Garrett, on his behalf," she paused before
questioning, "Have you and Thalia spent any time
inquiry struck the young man off guard. He shifted his weight
uncomfortably as he tried to answer. "Umm, well no...but I
understand that she has responsibilities . . .and
but all work and no play makes for a weak woman. I tell you
what. . .since we have the luxury of some peace, I suggest that
we make the most of it. I'll make sure that Thalia will be free
tomorrow so that you two can do as you please."
stood up with a shocked look of gratitude. "B-but won't
smiled, shaking her head, and cut him off in mid-sentence.
"Queen Medea will be just fine. Now, go on."
man nodded while grinning from ear to ear. "Thank you!
don't wake Karma," Jadea whispered as she chuckled.
Sorry. Thank you again, Queen Jadea." He was beside himself
with joy as he skipped out of her hut. The Sorceress laughed to
herself to see such childish excitement in a grown man.
I tell ya Karma, men are just tall boys," She mused while
gazing down into the cradle. "I just hope a certain tall
boy doesn't come back. Or else," Jadea sighed gently,
"I just may have to kill him...for the last time."
I must tell our Aunt what's happened." Samsara whispered
quickly before Akvoryai came within hearing range.
Highland Elder's eyes gleamed with pride as she smiled at
Samsara. "You performed admirably, Queen Empress of
Serena was the next to approach followed with a handful of High
Guards behind her. "You speak half the truth, Highland
Elder Akvoryai. Samsara did perform admirably. Yet, she is not
the Queen of Teloq."
mouth gaped open at Serena's very words.
am not Queen Empress?" Samsara responded. "How dare
you? You put me in this match to reaffirm a title you already
gave me! I won this Uelled, Chief Elder, and you will not
deprive me of my right."
I would not, contrary to popular belief," the Chief Elder
began. "However, as far as the books are concerned,
Gabrielle is Queen you have yet to complete your acts and
made the Goddess livid. "Oh, no. No, no, no. First of all,
Gabrielle is not recognized as Queen by the entire tribe. The
Pretender has not led affairs for years. Secondly, as the
Pretender is away, the tribe is in need of a ruler. As I am the
Heiress to the Teloan Throne, I must take over the affairs or
appoint someone to rule in my name. These are my Teloan rights,
acts and labors completed or not."
sighed. The woman did make a good point. She snarled. "Only
because this is a time of crisis, Samsara. Upon Gabrielle's
return she will assume the duties of this tribe and your power
will roll back to her. Should she produce an heir, your claim is
shall see about that," the Amazon countered, seething. She
knew Gabrielle would not return for a long time. If only she
could have challenged the Queen for her Mask, but that was
strictly against Amazon Law. She called out to the Amazons
around. "See to it that preparations are made for my
ascension and my sister and daughter's naming and casting."
looked at her aghast. "Daughter?"
nodded. "Ishtar's child, my heiress. Seriana, I want you to
go to Themiscyra for your niece." Then she sent: After this
is over, no one will dispute our blood.
reached Themiscyra as fast as she could. Alex was at the gate
and let her sister in. It was around the middle of the night and
Silver Hawk knew she wouldn't be sleeping much. Her arrival home
was that of an urgent matter. Besides, she knew that Medea would
be sleeping and wouldn't have the chance to pick on her.
wonder who her latest victim is, she thought as she entered
the camp. She headed directly for Jadea's hut. She wondered how
would Jadea take the news of Karma having to leave for a day.
Hawk found the Sorceress Empress sitting with various scrolls
spread in front of her. The camp was deadly quiet, save for the
various sounds of night creatures. Jadea had but two candles lit
inside her hut. She didn't need to look up to know Seriana had
home safely," her voice startled the Amazon, who'd expected
to speak first.
knew I would be," was the only reply she could think to
say. Her eyes shifted a few feet away to an empty cradle.
"Where's Karma?" She asked abruptly, immense fear in
turned her head, stood up and came forward. "You needn't
worry. Medea wanted an hour or so with her. She's in the Queen's
hut right now."
couldn't help but crack a smile. "What would Medea want
with a baby?"
Aunt simply chuckled and shook her head. "I don't know, but
she's probably telling Karma all about the stresses of being an
passed between them as Seri's expression grew sorrowful. As
Seriana suspected, the Sorceress Empress knew she'd been sent
for Karma. "I'll get her for you. Wait here," the
woman instructed softly. To save time, she teleported directly
Queen and her enemy's child were quite a sight to see together.
Medea had set Karma down on some cushions and blankets. The
child's eyes watched Medea walk around and talk to her as if she
understood and agreed with her every word.
see, Karma, I never wanted Celosia to leave so I could be Queen.
So, what does she go and do? She leaves! That's not to
say that I'm ungrateful, mind you. Not...at...all. I am meant to
be Queen. It's just...it's just lonelier somehow...without
felt as if she were intruding, but she had to get Karma. Softly,
the co-ruler cleared her throat. Medea spun around on her heel,
staring at Jadea with utter shock.
Ever heard of knocking?" She quipped sharply. Karma giggled
then and the Queen's eyes looked at her with mock anger.
"Oh, hush you. Medea, I need Karma now. Samsara has sent
for her," she stated, avoiding the detail that her N=niece
had sent for her daughter by sending Seriana. If Medea knew
Silver Hawk was in camp, Artemis knows what kind of a tangent
she'd go on.
figures. Just as the tike's growing on me, her rotten excuse for
a mother...I'll never understand Ishtar-"
Jadea broke in, fearing her Sister would go on another rant.
Fine! Take her before she messes on my rug," Medea reached
down and lifted the baby into her arms. She smiled at her and
Karma grinned back, arms hugging the Queen's neck. Jadea came
toward her, and Medea handed her over only after warning,
"If anything happens to her in Teloq, I'll-"
be safe, Medea. But I'll relay your concerns all the same,"
Jadea made a hasty vanishing exit before the Queen Regent could
delay her further.
got up from her seat when Jadea appeared with Karma. The
Sorceress was reluctant to let the child go, despite her
agreement with Samsara.
Sami only wants her for one day. Just long enough for the
ceremony in Teloq," her voice wavered, hands trembling when
she saw the woman's expression.
well," the Sorceress sighed, not yet giving Karma to her.
"However, this tells me that Samsara doesn't believe Teloq
safe for Karma yet. So, if she wants her daughter back, then I'm
coming with her."
niece shook her head in absolute protest. She knew her sister
would have a fit, and Medea wouldn't like it one bit either.
However, compromise and Jadea were not two words often found in
the same sentence.
you can't come!" She argued futilely. In the end, it would
be a strange twist of fate which changed Jadea's mind. For the
moment she opened her mouth to declare she was going...a voice,
not her own, trespassed into her mind.
always been resilient, Jade. Ach, ya stil are, to be sure. But
tell me, then...do ya think thah Olympian gods don't know about
Celtia? Ya think they've not figured out that ya've a terrible
tendency tah put the land before all else? Ya didn't kill 'im. I
know that because ya can hear me now. Caesar has sent Rome to
voice faded from her mind; but the message of its speaker did
not. The color drained from Jadea's face, her eyes staring hard
at the air.
Seri asked cautiously. "Jadea!"
Sorceress appeared to come out of her illusion only partly. She
met Seriana's eyes and handed Karma to her. "Tell Samsara
she must keep Karma until she returns to Themiscyra. The babe
will remain with you or her at all times, understand?" She
commanded fiercely, a wild desperation in her eyes as if she
feared some danger she would not tell.
right," Seri nodded, at a loss for what else she could say.
I'll send you back to Teloq myself. The gods can't harm Sami's
daughter...but others can and they will try. Safe journey,
Seriana. And you, too, little one," Jadea kissed Karma's
head. She aimed her hand at the Amazon, gave her a reassuring
nod, and sent them into the Teloan camp.
face grew dark as she stalked out of her hut to find a
Goddess pulled the child into her arms immediately. "By me,
I've missed you," she said, holding the child tightly to
her bosom. "Thanks, Ser' for bringing her back. How's
shook her head. "Something came up and she looks a bit
worried. She did tell me that either you or I keep an eye on her
at all times..."
looked at her older sister with a sharp glare. "Of course,
I would never leave my daughter with anyone I didn't
trust!" My daughter she thought. Oh, how wonderful that
sounds... Her face softened. "Rest. We have a long day
ahead of us tomorrow."
nodded and laid on her sister's bedroll. This hut was very
similar to the one Samsara occupied in Themiscyra. Samsara hung
her Mask in its rightful place on the wall, hanging over the
looking glass. In the floor was a trapdoor filled with some of
Ishtar's poultices, just like the one in the Themiscyran hut.
The only difference was that there were two bedrolls, both of
the finest snow tiger's fur.
do you have two pallets, Sami?" she queried, her eyelids
settled on the other. "Kaia used to live with me until she
got 'too old' to share a hut with me. She built her own after we
came back from Cruen the first time. Go to sleep, Seriana,"
she placed Karma next to her on the bedroll.
I want to stay up..." she said, yawning. "Can't you do
your healing thing when I have to be at the ceremony?"
that would defeat the purpose of sleep. Besides, sleep is good
for you," she smiled. "Silly girl. I hope we have more
time together." Her smile disappeared instantly.
managed to keep one eye cocked open. "What are you talking
about? You are the silly girl, if you ask me! Of course we will
have lots of time together! I'm not leaving you."
don't think that's what it is, Samsara thought silently to
herself. She didn't know what was bothering her, but something
was and she didn't like it one bit.
far off somewhere else...
Ean person was growing greatly on the Queen. They moved on from
Nerida that day, but not before Queen Tenga could bestow a few
words on the Themiscyran Queen.
realize that when you return to Themiscyra, things will be
vastly different?" she said.
I know," Celosia responded. "You went on a similar
journey when you were an Heiress and when you returned, you were
so much stronger and more level-headed, your own sisters
couldn't recognize you. I hope I learn as much as you did on
smiled. "I bid of you one last favor, Ce'losah." The
Neridian was still struggling with the name, but her accent was
falling away. Celosia taught her some of the Themiscyran
dialect, should the woman decide to trek southbound some day.
"What shall I name my child?"
indeed Tenga was with child. The botched Krahn'kee ceremony had
still been a success. Three-quarters of the women who went to
the male settlement were with child and the knowledge that the
Queen was to deliver hopefully an heiress yielded much feasting
and celebration in the couple of weeks Celosia and Ean were in
was her simple response. The utterance of her mother's name made
her smile. She missed her dearly, and sent a mental prayer that
she was at peace. "Now, Ean and I must be on our way."
Apollo was sending word of his arrival, the skies turning a deep
apologize again for how we met," Tenga answered. She took
Celosia's forearm as a salutation.
smiled. "Not a worry. You do what you must to
survive." She hoisted her bag over her shoulder and kicked
Ean slightly. "Let's head out."
out the gates they went. Ean sent her side-long glances every so
often, and Celosia pretended to ignore them.
candlemarks into the day Samsara roused her sister. She trusted
that one of the younger Elders, Teal, saw to the preparations
for the Naming and the Ceremony of the Caste adequately. It was
to start with Athenia's funeral pyre. The Goddess hoped for no
interruptions this time, but she was sure that Athena would make
some kind of appearance. If not to disturb the Great Destroyer,
then to watch the burning of one of her blessed.
had been awake for a couple of hours and she was finally showing
signs of hunger. Samsara called for Hippoppih, one of the
Imperial Guard that she herself had trained.
you acquire some goat's milk for her?" she inquired with
the glowing smile of a mother. Samsara was beginning to trust
her Teloans more now that she was back and with an heiress.
Morale had been low and there was no telling what may have
happened to a leaderless nation had the High Princess not
returned to Teloq.
Medea found her Co-Queen in the command hut bright and early.
Across from the Sorceress Empress sat a now-wide-awake Zia.
Jadea stood at the end of the table, looking down intently at a
map of Rome's territories.
what's going on?" Celosia's sister inquired acridly. She'd
sensed tension between Jadea and the young Zia before, but this
had been unexpected to say the least.
Always bloody Rome!" Jadea answered and glanced back up to
Zia. "All right, Zia. So, they retreated from our lands.
Where would Caesar send his fleet?"
map stretched across most of the table. Zia skimmed at her end
of the map, noting the rivers leading to the seas. She didn't
understand the Sorceress Empress, and part of her even feared
the woman. But Zia held a strong sense of loyalty to her
Sisters. She would help them no matter what enemy they faced.
he really is campaigning for Britannia...then he'd want to use
Gaul. Here," she said, pointing to an area on the map.
Medea came up and leaned onto the table to examine just what the
Hades the two women were talking about.
Jadea leapt from her chair and headed out of the hut.
Medea gave the young warrior in the chair a quick look.
"Stay here," she instructed and quickly followed her
co-ruler. "Jade! Jadea, halt!" She screamed suddenly
in her old voice.
Sorceress Empress was, by that time, mounted on her snowy horse.
Her eyes flashed brilliantly with fire. She fixed her gaze on
the Queen beside her.
best time to stop a war is before it begins, Medea. Caesar gets
Celtia over my dead body," she stated in all certainty as
the wind blew her hair behind her.
what about Themiscyra, Sorceress Empress? We have no guarantee
the Romans won't return. And suppose Celosia comes back while
you're gone? What the Hades am I to tell her? That I let my
Co-Queen go gallivanting around the Roman Empire in a crusade to
stop Caesar?" Her voice raised while her fervor increased
steadily. She looked up at the Amazon sorceress with eyes that
your sister I have gone of my own will to protect the future of
the Amazon Nation. Don't...argue with me, Medea."
But it's your hide on the line for this!" The Queen Regent
screamed back as Jadea galloped toward the gate.
outside of their borders, the Sorceress Empress caught sight of
fresh tracks. Puzzled, she followed them all the way to a small
pool of water where the trail ended. "That's odd," she
quietly thought aloud.
that's me," a voice answered, startling Jadea to draw her
blade and spin around. Her eyes narrowed angrily and she kicked
her mare to charge forward. Jadea's opponent, also mounted,
bolted towards her. Their swords clashed with a deafening clang,
both horses neighing wildly.
Amazon's breathing quickened, her heartbeat pounding against her
chest. For the first time, the pendant she wore filled with a
spring green color. Apollo rose higher into the sky, and soon
the sun beamed down onto the two.
surprise shock from her left hand caused Jadea's opponent to fly
backward off his horse. She caught the reins of the brown beauty
before he could trot off. Flipping off her own mare, Jadea
landed within one step of the fallen man. The point of her sword
pressed into his chest just deeply enough to warn him.
shouldn't have come back, Angus!" She retorted while
catching her breath. He blinked against the streaming sunlight
in his eyes until she shifted her position, shading him.
came to help ya, Jade!" He exclaimed with full awareness
that his life was in jeopardy.
attacked me! How the blazes was that to help me?" She
quipped lividly, placing her right boot onto his stomach.
sorry." Angus answered softly. She studied his eyes and saw
he meant his apology. Though sincerity did not remove the sting
of his attack, it provided him with some credibility. Jadea
lifted her boot off of him and pulled her sword away.
want to help? Stay out of my way!" She vanished only to
appear on her mare, whom she promptly kicked and left.
that same evening, Jadea had arrived at an abandoned command
post. Or, nearly abandoned. She whistled with three short calls
and two longer ones. Two men came out of hiding, both armed, and
approached her with hardened stares.
goes there?" The left one shouted, his bow and arrow ready
answered in a rough Gaelic dialect. The man standing to the
right several feet away turned his head to question his partner.
The left one, attired in a gray tunic and vest with a darker
cape, answered, "Pass."
nodded and slowly strode up to them, dismounting a few steps
ahead. She wore her own cape with the hood drawn over her face.
Jadea let her right hand move up to pull the hood back. As she
did, both the men dropped to their knees. "Sorceress
Empress! Forgive us, please!" The older one cried out.
to your feet and I shall," Jadea smiled gently at them
both, feeling invigorated by their loyalty.
had no idea that it was you, Sorceress Empress," the
shorter, younger man added to his friend's plea.
can see that. Let us not dwell on trivial things, though. How
many do you number here?" She questioned, her eyes moving
behind the two warriors to spot any others that might be hiding.
mere dozen, my Empress. The others were killed while
stepped closer to them, eyes going over their appearance. She
was able to soon identify both. "Corvus and Titus."
She addressed with a smile that hid her despair from hearing
only twelve men were present.
men bowed their heads, a faint smile curving their lips. Much
time had passed since they'd last seen the Sorceress Empress.
Indeed, some rumors had her dead while others had her captured
by this enemy or that. Obviously they had been nasty lies.
twelve?" She sighed suddenly as her mare came up behind
her. They walked through into the compound.
yes. We attempted to move out, but our orders were to remain
until command's return." Corvus, the older, replied grimly.
He stopped short and met Jadea's strong gaze. "We heard
that you...you killed him. Of course, none of us
silenced when he saw Jadea's solemn look which confessed she had
killed him. He lowered his eyes to the muddy ground.
"Corvus, his treachery against the Amazon Nation demanded
retribution. I could not help him escape it a second time,"
Jadea spoke softly though her voice was clear and unwavering.
She had now just lied about a lie, since in a sense Jadea did
spare Bruce a second time.
understand, my Empress," he responded, looking up with a
new composure befitting the men Jadea led. "You have
Amazon looked beside him to Titus, whose own expression conceded
his comrade's. She nodded then, adding, "I want every man
fed, packed, and ready before dark. We leave then."
the hour after departing from Nerida, Celosia did not speak a
word. Her mind filled with an array of thoughts and emotions she
had never before had time to wade through. She missed Themiscyra
greatly, but her appetite for adventure had not diminished.
consistently glanced at the Queen from time to time. He'd never
met an Amazon like Celosia, and the awe not to mention the
affection he felt captivated him. They stopped briefly for a
rest, having made good ground thus far.
going to fill these skins," Celosia announced rather simply
as she trotted off to a stream they had passed a few minutes
She answered firmly. He drew back, a sudden fear in his eyes.
Celosia shook her head. "I'm didn't mean to snap. I can
handle it, though. Stay here and alert of any trouble."
nodded and sat down on the ground while gazing around him. The
land was truly a view to behold, if you could.
obligated to send word back to her Sister, Jadea informed Medea
of her plans. The Queen Regent had only one thing to comment: You'd
better hope that it works, because if I have to mobilize this
entire tribe to save your ass...you'll wish you were dead.
confidence! Jadea appreciated the concern, however well-cloaked
beneath a threat. Jadea's powers provided her men with more
supplies and arms. Under the cover of darkness, she lead them on
an intersecting path to the Romans.
She hushed a few men in the back as they crouched low. A hundred
yards away, Romans were camped for the night. With silent
motions, the Amazon deployed three men to the right, three to
the left, and the rest were to come with her. Cautiously, she
lead the remaining six warriors around to the opposite side of
men in one camp? She seemed baffled, not to mentioned
suspicious. This smells like a trap.
used to tell us that what smells like a trap is a trap.
and angry, Jadea quickly scanned around for him. Angus, I'm
going to kill you! She narrowed her eyes and spotted him
behind a tree. About five steps from the tree a Roman sat on
guard. He looked half-asleep or half-drunk. Angus approached
with light steps and with his sword raised. As he brought the
sword down to strike, the Roman fell backward asleep. Shocked,
Angus leapt back with a bewildered and then amused look on his
one yet," he whispered while Jadea cursed him from across
the camp. Her men would soon attack the Romans. Two of them had
released the horses, another two stolen as many weapons as they
could, and one - Titus - located the commander of the particular
camp they were ambushing.
in that tent," he whispered, pointing to an unguarded tent.
is a trap. Jadea could feel it. With her eyes on the
remaining Romans, she instructed, "All right. Move out
looked as if he would protest, but he nodded and quickly pulled
his comrades away. Jadea's eyes lingered on the Roman soldiers
for a few moments. Another time.
the afternoon of the following day, the Sorceress Empress had
returned the twelve men to Celtia. Along the way, she sank three
Roman ships headed for Eire and seven more that had been bound
for the upper shorelines of Britannia. The Iceni tribe along
with the Highland tribe were prepared defensively in case of an
attack. A successful aversion to war had been made. Rome would
not add Celtia to its empire - not this time anyway.
Jadea returned, she had a surprise for her Sisters. Two chests
of gold sent from their Amazon Sisters in Celtia were brought as
offerings of gratitude. With the two chests came two messages,
one each from the Amazon leaders of both tribes.
the first time in quite awhile, Jadea sighed heavily with
relief. Whether the Roman Empire and the Amazon Nation would
ever face off...was uncertain but probably inevitable. However,
it would not be soon.
sisters were pleased there were no interruptions to the
ceremonies. Athena failed to make an expected disruption at
Athenia's burning. There were no scuffles among the Teloans, no
double-crossing warlords and their armies infiltrating camp, no
angry Amazons challenging the ascension. All in all, it was a
good day, except for Karma's incessant crying. Even her mother
couldn't calm her until Hippoppih brought more goat's milk.
fed her child as they sat at the head of the feasting table.
Meanwhile, the Goddess fed herself sweet grapes as the women
danced and ate and drank. The barrels of aged wine saved for the
occasion were blessed by Dionysus. The weapons forged that day
were blessed by Hephaestus. When Samsara took Karma to Artemis'
temple, the Goddess of the Hunt blessed the child with the
ability to rule favorably.
had been a conversation to behold. Samsara handed the child to
the Matron of the Amazon. "Thank you for coming to bless my
child," she said.
looked at her and smiled. "You and I may have our
differences, Master of War, but we have the same intentions in
mind. Our petty feuds mean nothing to this little one you're
raising. I want to ask for peace."
smile cracked the stoic face of the younger Goddess. "You
read my mind, haven't you."
shook her head. "There was no need to. I will side with you
should my family decide to attack. You are one of the few chosen
to perpetuate the Amazon race, and I will do everything within
my power to make sure that no one trifles with the Tribes."
nodded. Although she didn't agree with how Artemis refused to
reunite the Tribes, she did agree with laying down one's life to
protect them. Artemis blessed Karma and had handed the child
back to Samsara.
at the feast, the Goddess Kakistos looked about her. Seriana was
by her side, wearing a phoenix feather much like her younger
sister's. She looked a bit perplexed and failed to enjoy the
festivities as she normally would have.
the younger started.
Hawk looked up from her goblet with a start.
ok? Let's go to my hut for a sec, we have to adjust your
clothes," they got up and went to her hut. Once inside,
course, I'm not okay, Sami," she said in a low tone. The
women danced to beats drummed out by other Teloans as they
worshipped Pyros and Panos. "We just lied to the entire
Tribe. You just said to them that we are sisters-"
are my sister," Samsara stressed. "Nothing will change
that, do you understand? Ares or not, because of his act, I was
born. Whether I'm related to him is inconsequential. As far as
I'm concerned, Ares begot me and you are my sister. End of
story. And if anyone disputes it, it won't matter. You are now
part of the Royal House of the Wolf and you will be my Regent.
looked down. She hated lying. She was a good kid. She also knew
that her sister was right. Any dispute was pointless. The
ceremony could be undone.
am I supposed to do with two chests of gold?" The Queen
Regent questioned Jadea while staring like an awestruck child
given the toy of their desires.
Sorceress Empress shrugged indifferently. She truly did not care
one way or the other what happened to the gold. "Acquire
more land or horses," she suggested casually while picking
up a small strawberry and popping the sweet treat into her
became of the gold was of little importance to Jadea. She'd
another pressing matter that preyed on her mind. And of course
it was a man.
had somehow left Celtia and managed to come all the way to
Themiscyra. The fact that he could do such a thing wasn't what
vexed Jadea. She knew that as a previous warrior under her
command, Angus had developed a strong skill for improvising and
the gift for using resources. No, it was the fact that Angus had
given the effort needed to pull off such a stunt.
feeling the need for some air, the Amazon sorceress rose out of
her seat and left. Halfway across camp, Jadea spotted Thalia
with Antigone. The latter seemed to be giving the Head Scout a
lesson in the techniques of shooting a crossbow. The Sorceress
sat down on a bench and watched from a distance. She let her
eyes gaze dreamily at the activities of her Sisters.
think, he almost won, she quietly thought to herself. But
like most times, Jadea's thoughts were not hers and hers alone.
on the top of an Amazon's hut, Ardra watched her Mistress
worriedly. Which he might that be, Jadea?
Amazon's eyes skimmed across to find her guardian hawk. She
smiled faintly and shook her head. No one of consequence, to
but he has always been of consequence. And always shall be, I
think, the hawk stated.
Jadea shook her head. She refused to think of such things now.
Instead, she focused on her future plans. The gods had made no
move against Themiscyra. This both pleased and displeased the
Sorceress Empress. Themiscyra had Prince in her lands and Prince
still held Rhea's Ruby. The only way to retrieve the ruby was to
kill the horse. And killing a Pegasus guarded by a tribe of
fierce Amazon warriors would be no day in the park, even for the
need some rest, Jade, Ardra advised gently. For once, Jadea
seemingly agreed. She silently stood up and headed for her own
hut. When she arrived, the Amazon found two guards standing in
front of her hut.
the meaning of this?" she asked, her tone lilting on the
side of anger.
Medea's orders, Sorceress Empress!" One of the answered
with a clear, trained voice.
felt too weak to fight the ridiculous order her Sister had
given. With a wave of her hand, she replied, "Very well.
Just don't wake me unless the matter is life or death."
Amazon guards bowed their heads slightly in respect before
allowing Jadea to pass. Once inside, she used her powers to make
the hut utterly dark. A little peace, quiet, and rest were the
things she needed. For but a single hour, Jadea would sleep
Teloq, the only remaining matter which needed to be dealt with
was the naming of Samsara's successor. Once all affairs were in
proper order, Samsara intended to return to Themiscyra. She
named Seriana as the tribe's new Regent. Upon Silver Hawk's and
Samsara's untimely demise, or lest something should befall the
both of them rendering them incapable of ruling Teloq, Karma
would be the next in line. Of course, with Samsara being a
Goddess and Silver Hawk being under a number of protectors the
likelihood of both of them being unable to rule was minimal to
walked with her baby in arms through the Teloan lands. She spoke
softly to the child who now peered around with wondrous eyes.
Indeed, Callisto's daughter had come a long, long way. But soon,
very soon, Samsara Athanase's loyalties would be tested. For at
that same moment, Athena enlisted the help of a troubled and
plan was simple. Discord would stir up some mischief with the
Romans which would lead both the Sorceress Empress and the
Warrior Princess far away from Amazon lands and keep them busy
so they could not make a hasty return. Athena would find a way
to isolate Seriana from her Sister. Discord would be permitted
to destroy as many Amazons as necessary to kill Prince and
reclaim the Rhea Ruby for the Olympians. Samsara, of course,
would try to intervene and stop her, but she'd be distracted
when her daughter's life hung in the balance.
scheme never saw stage two, though. With Samsara as Queen of the
Teloan Amazons, word spread rapidly throughout the Nation that
the tribes were uniting once again. Instead of a number of
tribes scattered across vast distances a rather large assembly
would be formed. The trick, aside from the feat itself, would be
to establish a central territory for the Amazons without
losing the lands they presently kept.
the two Co-Queens of Themiscyra worked on the details of such a
tremendous mission, Teloq awaited its orders from their new
Queen. When Samsara, Seriana, Karma, and Akvoryai returned, they
were welcomed with a celebratory feast in their honor.
Naturally, it took some coaxing on Jadea's part to get Medea's
commitment. In the end, the Queen Regent welcomed any excuse for
her Amazons to unwind and relax.
the music and festivities flourished in the camp, Jadea took her
two nieces aside for a chat. "I am more pleased to see you
both than either of you could know!" She beamed before
promptly asking in a somber voice, "Were there any
and Sami exchanged looks. Samsara shook her head. "None to
speak of, no. Athenia..." her voice trailed off when she
broke her eyes away.
know," Jadea said softly. That had not been easy for
Samsara, she knew. "She made her own choice, Sami."
Goddess nodded and looked up. "I know."
that time, Leda had snuck off to find the three Amazons. When
she caught up with them, the woman was out of breath. "Wh-what
are you all doing standing around here?!"
looked angrily at her hut while many thoughts had run through
her head. Caesar and his men were here, ready to attack at any
second. Not only that, but Jadea dared to talk about her people
in such an awful way. It deeply hurt her. She can still hear the
screams of her parents being killed by Caesar.
matter what happens to me, I will die killing Caesar and making
Rome peaceful once again, Zia thought.
was aware that a group of Amazons, including Jadea, were at the
location of the Roman hideout. What the Amazons did not know was
that Caesar himself was in one of those huts. Zia went on
horseback to the hideout. She saw the Amazons looking at her
strangely from behind the bushes.
in Hades name is Zia doing? Ardra asked her mistress.
is easy to suspect that Zia is an enemy because of her Roman
blood, and yet I feel that she is one of us. Let us see what she
is doing, Jadea answered.
went up to Jarus, a loyal soldier of Caesar.
back, Zia," Jarus said with a surprised look on his face.
Jarus. I came here to talk to Caesar. I know he is inside his
in Zia. He is expecting you."
went inside the hut and saw Caesar taking his daily bath while
his servants washed his back. "Hello Zia," he said. He
told his servants to leave the hut.
Emperor," Zia said. She took off her armor and her slender
naked body slipped inside the tub. Her legs wrapped around
Caesar’s waist. He did not know that she had her dagger in
hiding. She started kissing him. "Emperor, if I give you a
night of pleasure, will you give me anything I ask of you?"
of course, its only fair dear Zia," Caesar said smiling.
want Rome," Zia whispered.
Rome is yours."
lowered her body and kissed his chest…suddenly she grabbed her
dagger and put it against his throat.
attack now!" Zia screamed.