Strange Beginnings



As morning started to sift through the leaves of the Themiscyran woods, Xena and Gabrielle were loading up Argo. Wanderlust was stirring again; it was time for them to move on. Seri was helping them, making polite conversation and saying final goodbyes.  

"I wish you'd come with us, Seri," Gabrielle said. "Just so we could keep an eye on you, know that you're not getting into trouble. Themiscyra can be a dangerous place."  

Seriana tightened the buckle on one of the bags, stuffed with supplies. "I'm staying right here. This is my home now, and unless I stay to protect it it will be even more dangerous for my sisters. I may move on someday, but not for a long time yet."  

"Take care of yourself, then," said Xena. "We'll send someone in a month or so to check up on you."  

Seri opened her mouth in a silent cry of protest. "I don't need to be 'checked up on', Xena! I'm an Amazon warrior."  

"You are still a child to me and I'm sending someone anyway. Like it or lump it." Seri lumped it. She gave Argo a hug, then swung up onto Deinus to escort her friends to the edge of the territory.  

As they were leaving the village, Seri spotted Jadea, still asleep on Angus' shoulder. She grinned, glad that her aunt was happy but still ignorant of what Jadea was feeling. That was all right. Seri was still young.  

She rode with Xena and Gabrielle as far as the border, where the woods stopped and the open plains and fields of the rest of the world began. She exchanged final hugs, farewells, and blessings with them, then turned back into the shade of her forest and went riding for a while, just her and Deinus. She didn't return to the village for hours.  


Xena and Gabrielle crossed the river neither of them feeling all that talkative. Of the two women, Gabrielle was more the talker. But even she felt a quiet solace come over her. Both warriors wondered when their paths would next cross the Amazons'. The Warrior Women meant a great deal to them both.  

Angus and the Sorceress Empress had conversed until Apollo began to ascend the stairs of his throne in the sky. Exhaustion fell upon them both, and they fell asleep leaning against each other. Some time during the night, Jadea's head had fallen to her left to rest on the man's chest. He'd woken up at her movement but settled the moment he saw she slept peacefully.  

Artemis knows how long the Amazon might've remained in the company of the man had it not been for her guardian hawk. Top of the morning, Jade!

The sorceress jolted up and blinked repeatedly at the light that shined in her eyes. "Ardra?"  

Beside her, Angus moved slightly and yawned. He resisted the conscious world whenever possible.  

You just missed Queen Gabrielle and the Warrior Princess.

"Hmm? They're gone?" She asked, stifling a yawn as she tried to get up.  

"Who's gone?" A sleepy man at her feet questioned.  

Left a few minutes ago.

"Any message?" Jadea asked. Xena was known to leave them with trusted allies - and the Amazons were among the few she counted as such.  

Not that I saw. Queen Medea might know. 

Medea. Jadea shook her head to herself. She'd meant to get back to her co-ruler. That whole disappearing business the night before had been gnawing on her mind.  

The Amazon looked down at Angus who tried desperately to curl up and fall back asleep. "Angus." Nothing. "Angus!"  

"What? What?!" He jerked up, trying to make his eyes open. He was just too bloody tired. Love can do that to a person.  

"Get up! Go to camp!" She said hastily, displeased that she'd let herself be so sloppy as to oversleep.  

Angus grunted but got to his feet, draping the blanket around himself like a cape. He slowly made his way toward camp, occasionally mumbling about this or that.  

Your Sisters, Ardra noted as two of them approached.  

"Queen Medea is asking for you." Queen Dolphinea informed.  

Antigone stood beside her. The sunlight made her face glow. She wore a simple grin on her face. No doubt caused by the last update she'd heard on the Sorceress Empress. It had spread through camp by now.  

"Is she?" Jadea asked lightly. She had a thing about bantering with her Sisters. Sometimes they made it too easy for her. Often though, they surprised her with witty counter remarks.  

"No, she lied. She's been bellowing, actually," Antigone chuckled and Dolphinea grinned widely.  

Jadea raised an eyebrow. "Well, in that case...I'd best go see what she wants, hmm?"  

The three of them walked together back into camp. Originally, Medea had sent Dolphinea to get Jadea when she found that the woman wasn't in her hut. Queen Dolphinea had run into Antigone on her way, though, and the two united for the brief mission. The trio split ways once they hit camp. Dolphinea headed for the training grounds to get in a little practice. Antigone decided an apple would be ideal for a late breakfast.  

Jadea found her co-Queen in the Queen's hut. Medea sat with one leg over the other, a sword laying across her. She made long strokes down the blade with a river rock. Her eyes were intently laid on the weapon.  

"Queen Medea?" Jadea asked when she stepped in. Purely to get the woman's attention, really.  

Medea looked up, set the stone down, and laid the sword beside her. "You may want to sit down for this, Jadea," she said grimly. Medea was overall beginning to act like a queen.  

"If you are saying this, then I had better," Jadea commented and took a chair located at the small table to her right.  

Medea looked into the air for awhile. She didn't like what she was about to say, even though it agreed with her personal opinions about a particular woman. At last, the Queen Regent's eyes looked at the Sorceress. "There's no easy way to say this, so here it is. I have reason to believe that Samsara has teamed with Discord."  

The Sorceress Empress sat quietly. She knew Medea had it in for her niece. But she also knew that Medea, despite the impressions she gave off, had integrity. And what further helped her credibility with this was that fact Jadea had wondered something of the sort before. "All right," she casually replied. "You sound like you have proof, so what or where is it?"  

"Trynka!" Medea stood up to call the name firmly. An Amazon guard immediately walked in.  

"Yes, Queen Medea?" She respectfully spoke upon her entrance. Trynka was a member of the Guard in Themiscyra.  

"The arrow, Trynka!" Medea stated.  

"Right," she answered and pulled it out from a place on her waist. The arrow was peculiarly small and light, and screamed to Jadea, "I was not made by a mortal!" It was obvious to her eyes that a mortal hadn't constructed it. Trynka handed the arrow to her Queen.  

"That will be all. Thank you, Trynka."  

"Yes, my Queen," the Themiscyran responded, bowed her head, and left.  

Medea handed the arrow to her co-Queen. Jadea examined it, already knowing its owner. 

"Recognize it?" Queen Medea asked, knowing the answer. If she herself knew it was Cupid's, surely the Sorceress Empress would know as well.  

Jadea nodded and laid the arrow on the table. "It still doesn't tie my niece to Discord," she remarked. Jadea was reluctant to believe that Samsara would make any kind of arrangement with a goddess she hated so greatly.  

"I thought you might say that," Medea commented. She hated this next part even more than the previous. "Ares." The Queen Regent spoke his name like it was the most vile word in all languages ever spoken. But he appeared at her call.  

And at his presence, Jadea stood up and drew her sword. "We had a deal Ares," she was quick to remind him.  

"Whoa! I am here only by request," he threw his hands up.  

Medea glared at him in disgust. She didn't like him as God when he had powers to speak of, and she liked him less now.  

Jadea kept her sword raised between herself and the God of War.  

"Jade, put it down!" Medea instructed.  

The Amazon sorceress shifted her gaze to Medea. She looked utterly surprised. Medea had never once called her by that name before. That, and it alone, brought Jadea to lower her sword. However, she refused to sheath the blade. "What's he doing here, Medea?" Jadea quipped in her deadliest tone.  

Medea knew she had little slack to work with here. So, she got right to the point. "Tell her, Ares."  

"Discord and Samsara are working together," he stated.  

"And why would they do that?" The Sorceress inquired.  

"Discord wants Kaia back," he answered, mindful of the blade Jadea held in her hands. Ares seemed to be upset with his answer, as though he didn't agree with Discord's intentions.  

"And what does Samsara want?" Jadea shot back at him, her eyes narrowing.  

"The gods if I know! I offer the girl everything, and she refuses."  

"Take a guess, then!" Jadea shouted and took a step towards him.  

When he didn't answer, for whatever reason, Medea cut in. "She wants to drive me insane, Jadea," the Queen Regent answered.  

That certainly brought the Sorceress Empress away from Ares. "A short ride Medea," she commented tartly, but added, "for all of us."  

A few moments of silence passed while Jadea processed the information she'd been given. She had to determine what was true and what wasn't. That could be tricky, especially if a god was involved.  Finally, she looked up at Ares. "All right. Say I believe your sorry black-leather-clad butt...what's your part in all of this?" She asked suspiciously. As much as Jadea hated to admit it, the explanation seemed plausible. Samsara disliked Medea enough to mess with her. And the prospect of playing with Medea's mind now was even more tempting since she was Queen. And Discord would want to get her daughter away from the Amazons. It didn't all fit, but the pieces seemed to have places they could go.  

"Me?" He asked innocently. "I'm just a guy trying to get my daughter not to hate me. It doesn't help that every time I turn around, Discord is up to some "plan" of hers. She knows Kaia is powerless, and she wants her back. Maybe she thinks that getting her back will undo whatever you Amazons have done to her."  

"Fine." Jadea stated crisply. She didn't like this one bit.  

"You can leave now Ares," Medea advised. The God gave a look of annoyance before leaving.  

The two women exchanged looks. Jadea sheathed her sword and turned to exit.  

"What are you going to do?" Medea called after her.  

Jadea turned back around and eyed the arrow on the table. "Make sure that gets back to Cupid. I'm surprised he hasn't noticed that he's missing it." She turned again to go.  

"What are you going to do, Jadea?" She asked again, this time more firmly.  

Without looking over her shoulder, the sorceress replied, "I'm going to give Discord her bitch back!"  


Samsara observed from her viewing pool. She frowned when she saw that Ares had helped her Sisters figure things out. They still didn't know her plan, per se, but they'd just learned a chunk of it. "Father, if you had any balls I'd cut you down to half as many!" She threatened aloud, though no one was present to hear.  

Cupid hadn't noticed his bow and arrows missing because he was currently too preoccupied elsewhere. He was tending to two lovers on opposite sides of a war where lies were spread causing the two lovers to fight thus fueling the war - basically a big mess that he had to clean up.  

Samsara noticed how Queen Medea handled the situation with her aunt. It appeared as though she'd pulled rank on Jadea, and that Jadea had buckled. That didn't set well with the Great Destroyer. "Hmm...I wonder what she'd do if her own horse disappeared?" Samsara mused, snapped her fingers and a horse appeared in her temple. She laughed in absolute amusement.  


On her way to fetch a neutralized Kaia, Jadea's path crossed Thalia and Seriana. "You can't possibly be thinking what I think you're thinking," Thalia remarked, planting herself in front of Jadea's.  

"This isn't the best time, Thalia," she returned quickly, her voice smooth and deadly.   

Apparently the Scout was getting better with her hearing. She knew what the sorceress was planning to do. Or, at least, she thought she did. "It's never the best time, Jadea. You know that."  

Beside her, Seriana chimed in, "You can't let Kaia go! She'll try to kill us all."  

Jadea shook her head. She had neither the time nor the patience for this right now. Vanishing, she appeared behind Kaia Kakistos.  

Thalia turned to Seri. "You know, I really hate it when she does that."  

Seriana nodded with a slight smile. "You're not the only one."  

"What should we do now?" Thalia asked her Sister. The latter shook her head.  

"There's nothing we can do," Seri sulked. She'd enjoyed the relief of not having to worry about Kaia. It'd been one less threat to concern the Amazons.  

Thalia began to walk away. Seriana paused for a moment before following. Nothing we can do ... maybe.  

When the Sorceress Empress teleported behind Kaia, she made sure that the goddess could sense it. Kaia turned around, her eyes narrowing.  

"YOU! YOU did this to me!" She yelled and charged for Jadea who merely made herself disappear and reappear behind Kaia again. Kakistos growled furiously. She despised the Amazons. She despised her sister Samsara for being loyal to them. She despised herself for being among them - and for being weak.  

"I have good news, Kaia," Jadea smirked while she spoke. Her voice was acrid and dangerous. Any Amazon in their right mind would've been able to detect this. But Kaia was no Amazon, and she certainly wasn't in her right mind. "You're going home," she added a minute later.  

Kaia stared at her suspiciously. She didn't trust Jadea as far as she could throw her. "Just like that, huh? You're lying," Kaia declared.  

"You're right. It won't be 'just like that.' You get to go back to Discord a mortal. Oh, won't Mommy be thrilled?!"  

"Ohhhhhhhhh!" Kaia howled and tried again to attack Jadea. This time she was kicked hard in her stomach for her efforts.  

"Your powers are gone, Kakistos. And since you're no longer a threat to the world, you may leave Themiscyra. As your aunt, of distant relation of course, I will grant you one final favor."  

Kaia glared at the woman with contempt. She said nothing, but it wasn't for lack of want.

"I won't make you leave here like a mortal," Jadea finished and snapped her fingers. With that, Kaia Kakistos vanished from Themiscyra and appeared before Discord. Jadea sighed with satisfaction and walked outside. "Ah, what a glorious day!" She observed aloud. Several Amazons stopped and stared at her. They then shook their heads and smiled.   


From her viewing bowl the Goddess could see clearly what was happening. She didn't like this turn of events.  

Her sister, back home.  

This only meant that her powers were permanently Samsara's. She toyed with her dagger. She knew that returning her sister's powers would be a trial. Someone was going to end up in lots of trouble.  

Samsara feared that one of them might regress if she returned Kaia's powers to her. She knew that both of them had grown, and were growing, quicker than the average god. In mortal time, Samsara was only 8 and Kaia was 4. Should one of them lose their powers, they would go back to their mortal age. Samsara supposed that it wouldn't be a bad thing for Kaia, but it would be devastating for herself.  

Discord smirked when she saw her daughter on her hands and knees before her. "Now your mongrel sister has nothing over me."  

Ares appeared. "We need to control her, somehow," he said. "At least for the time being." He smiled. "She won't be Master of War for long."  


Ishtar continued her long journey out of the Land of the Dead. The child in her arms pull on her hair and gurgled happily. The Shamaness Priestess smiled despite the great sadness in her.  

Terreis had been the one who had taken Ishtar in when she escaped a group of traders attempting to sell Sumerian women to Greek landowners. The two had been close, about the same age. When Terreis had been killed, Ishtar had secluded herself for days.  

It had been Melosa who had made the decision that Ishtar remain with the tribe, however. It was the Queen she owed her life to.  

And it was the dead Queen Melosa who appeared before Ishtar as she and the child walked the long, lonely, barren road back to the Land of the Living. Ishtar instinctively knelt down as her way of showing respect for the dead.  

"You may rise," Melosa said. "There's no need for you to bow to me." The Priestess rose. "You are on a mission to save our Queen Empress."  

"Yes, my Queen," she responded.  

"Do you realize how dangerous this mission is?" she asked. "You only have a small window of time to complete your mission. Tarry and you may become a lost spirit, unable to rest for the rest of time."  

Ishtar knew the Queen was right. She could feel herself slowly coming back to life, and time was not on her side. In addition, she was taking a child born on the other side with her, one that was intricate to the plan to save Samsara. Ishtar nodded. "I do realize. If Jadea's visions couldn't sway our Empress, perhaps what I can do will."  

They said their goodbyes.  

Ishtar continued walking. She was almost at the border.  


Samsara was lost in thought. She was thinking about Ishtar. The emotions were getting stronger. The Goddess had effectively shut off the tear ducts after her mentor's funeral. She was not about to let them open up again.   

She smiled as she forced herself to think of something other than the loss of Ishtar and thought of Medea's precious horse in her stables on Olympus. It brought to mind her own beloved beast, Prince. She thought of his glossy black flanks, bereft of the wings that should rightfully be folded majestically against his side and the soft cupped area in the center of his forehead that should contain the blood-red ruby that would return them to him.  

She shot up. "Time to get that ruby for my horse!" Endeavor! She knew exactly where it was. She was surprised she didn't go as soon as she was back on Olympus. She walked toward the exit of her throne room, vanishing.  


Back in Themiscyra...  

Medea was livid. "That... that... OOOH!" She paced around the stables. "Smyrna, are you SURE you didn't see anyone walk in?  

The Guard shook her head. "No one came in."  

"I knew it! I just KNEW it! That Goddess... she won't stop meddling, will she?"  

"What Goddess?" Smyrna queried.  

Medea turned to her and snarled. She was going to get Jadea.  

Little did Medea know that by the time she would get Jadea, the horse would be back right where it was supposed to be.  


"Your little wretch of a niece stole my horse!" cried Medea as she dragged her co-Queen to the stables. Jadea knew that Samsara was playing a few tricks but she didn't take kindly to Medea pulling her about every time the Goddess did something.  

"I'm sure she'll give it back to you when she realizes that nothing that she does will affect you," the Sorceress commented.  

Angus was far behind and chuckling at the scene. That was his Emerald Jade all right.  

A cough made him turn around. It was Garrett. He cocked an eyebrow. "And how are you this fine morning?" he commented.  

"Aw, c'mon, mate!" he cried. "Don' go on treatin' me this way! I said I was sorry! Besides, don' ya see now that you really like the girl? Why don' ya go talk to 'er?" 

Garrett eyed him and smiled. "Angus, you showed me that I have to talk to her at some point. I just don't have the guts to go see her yet."  

"Aw, mate," Angus said, slapping him on the shoulder. "That Thal's got spirit and that's what a man would like in a woman that pretty. Go an' talk to 'er, will ya?"  

Garrett smiled. He was afraid of what her reaction may be.  

Meanwhile, Medea was taken aback. There was her horse and mounted on it was one of the younger Amazons. Valkyra was holding the reigns and leading the young one around. "WHAT IN THE HADES ARE YOU DOING WITH MY HORSE?"  

The Weapons Master looked at her. "I'm teaching Constantia how to ride. Didn't you get my note?" Medea's eyes widened.  

Smyrna came up to her and impishly handed her a parchment. "Valkyra couldn't find you so she left a note with the last guard. I guess she forgot to give it to you..."  

Medea snatched the papyrus from the woman. Sure enough, it was Valkyra's writing. She wanted to use a good horse and Medea's was just right for the young, but lithe study.  

Back on Olympus...  

Samsara had climbed the rock face with agility. This was the one place that the Gods could not teleport too. High above was Prometheus. The Titan was still in his chains and the vulture ate at his liver and flew away by the time the Goddess reached him.  

He turned his massive head and looked at her. "What do you seek?" he asked. "No God has come to visit me without some kind of request."  

She nodded. "Where is Rhea's Ruby?" Very much like the Cronos Stone, Rhea's Ruby held a lot of power. She needed it to make her horse into what he was destined to be.  

Prometheus continued to look at her. "Do you realize that if that stone falls into the wrong hands..."  

"Yes, all Tartarus will break loose. But it is for Prince. He needs his wings. He's an Olympian horse dropped onto the Earth to die and I will restore him to his rightful status. 

The Titan nodded. "Understood." He knew the story of Prince. Born to Pegasus, Hera wanted to be sure that there was only one winged horse, so she sliced off his wings and sent him hurtling down to Earth, injured and ready to die. Samsara found him and healed him, and as lasting gratitude, the horse had never left her side. She was feeling the loss right now and to make it up, she was going to endow him with Rhea's Ruby. He needed to get his wings and she was going to give them to him.  

Prometheus cocked his head to the vulture circling about. Samsara looked up and saw it in the vulture's eye.  

"I see the trade." If she killed the vulture, he would not have to suffer having his liver eaten every day. All for bringing fire to man she thought. Fair's fair.  

She realized that she would be incurring Zeus' wrath, but no matter. She was Master of War.  


Stifling a laugh, Jadea still couldn't hide her smirk. She looked at her co-ruler as if to say "Well...?"  

Queen Regent Medea growled. "Next time, ask me in person!" She snapped at Valkyra who helped the Amazon to the ground.  

Valkyra bowed her head slightly. "Yes, Queen Medea. I'm sorry for the mix-up."  

Jadea clapped her hands together. "Well, this concludes another fine epic, Medea. Now, if you'll excuse me - I have a little goddess to fry."  

The Sorceress Empress headed out, Medea quickly on her heels. "And just where the Hades do you think you're going?"  

Jadea stopped and turned around, appearing to be annoyed and in a hurry. "Discord wants to play games. Fine! I can play, too."  

She disappeared before Medea had the chance to say a word.  


In Ares' temple...  

Discord held Kaia in her arms. She felt unnatural in such a position, but it was her daughter and she'd rather Kaia be with her than Ares.  

Jadea appeared but kept herself hidden. She possessed an ability most of the gods resented - the ability to conceal herself from any god or immortal.  

Ares was watching Discord...watching and thinking. He hadn't been able to formulate a solid plan yet. The God of War had always been uncanny with predicting Samsara's next move. This time, however, he was at a loss.  

The all powerful is poetic, Jadea mused. She began to walk around the temple, gazing at various weapons that ornamented the walls. She felt bored, somehow. Bored and restless...a combination that lead to mischief in no time.  

CLANG! Oopsie! Jadea smiled as three swords hit the floor.  

Ares and Discord jerked their heads up.  

"Who's there?" Ares asked, his voice booming.  

Discord glared at him. "Who's there? What do you think they'll just step right out? Uhh! How did you get this job, again?"  

"Shut up, okay...just shut up," He quickly shouted.  

WHOOOSH! Damn! I just hate it when that happens, Jadea snickered as a bow was thrown across the room. It crashed into a wall.  

"All right! That's enough!" Ares yelled in absolute hostility.  

Jadea made herself seen. Her crystal pendant glowed three shades of blue, the center of it being the darkest.  

"You?" Discord stammered and clutched Kaia tighter.  


Meanwhile, back in the village...

Valkyra helped Constantia down from Medea’s horse. Constantia, quite concerned, asked, “Is Queen Medea going to stay mad at us for using her horse?”  

As Valkyra returned Medea’s horse to the stable, she smiled at the child and said, “Oh, I am sure that Queen Medea will rant and rave for a while, but she will get over it soon enough. Do not let her scare you; she is just letting her temporary appointment as co-queen go to her head. Occasionally she is insensitive and becomes out-of-control. She and some of the others sometimes forget the true Amazon sisterhood spirit of sharing and teaching. Just be glad that Samsara isn’t here as well.”  

Constantia looked up at Valkyra and said, “I’m afraid of her.”  

“There is no reason to be afraid of her,” Valkyra replied, “Just stay out of both Medea and Samsara’s way until you have the power or ability to overcome them.”  

Constantia asked, “Will you still teach me how to ride?” she then patted Medea’s horse.  

Valkyra answered, “Of course, you shall be quite a horsewoman when you finish your lessons. We cannot use my mare, Melody, for she is a trained battle steed and very dangerous to all except me. Now, I wasn’t going to show you until after you had your next lesson, but under the circumstances I think you should see him now.”  

“Him who? Who should I see?” asked the young Amazon, now becoming very curious.  

“Do you remember when I brought all those horses here to the village right after Winter Solstice?” Constantia nodded her head. “Well, since then, I have been gradually training some of them for you and the other children. You shall each have your own horse,” said Valkyra. “There is a young crème-colored stallion over in the corral waiting just for you.” Valkyra teased, “Now of course you cannot ride him until you give him a name.”  

“Oh! I shall give him the best name ever!” cried Constantia as she ran ahead toward the corral.  

Valkyra thought to herself, “There is nothing like teaching children to stir up maternal feelings in oneself. Well, maybe some day before I grow too old.

Of course that would mean I would have to find someone to father it.”  

She looked around and saw Medea having words with Jadea. Valkyra said to herself, “Medea better calm her temper or she’ll have a insurrection on her hands. I hope Queen Celosia comes back soon. Now, I do believe that I will have a little talk about responsibility with the guard who was supposed to give Medea my note.”  


"I'm insulted, Ares," Jadea remarked, noting that Kaia was but a helpless babe now. The idea of killing Kaia Kakistos was one that'd entered her mind. She was glad now she hadn't liked the idea much. "No grand welcome? No words of gratitude? How utterly thoughtless! And you - Discord - why I never pictured you as the motherly type. Oh, that's right..." Jadea paused, her voice inclining as she gushed sarcastic delight. "You abandoned that pathetic creature without so much as a second thought to her welfare! How careless of me to forget."  

No sooner did Jadea finish speaking than Discord shot bullets of energy from her eyes. The sorceress easily deflected them with a wave of her hand which threw up a shield when she was hit. "Temper, temper, Discord!" The Themiscyran admonished. Her eyes began to get the same bloodlust look that Callisto's had in her time. "I have a deadlier temper than yours!" Jadea noted an instant before shooting a fireball straight from her hand toward the goddess. 

"Jadea!" Ares yelled and drew his sword. He began to charge towards her but she raised her left hand.  

"I really wouldn't...Ares."  

"We had a deal," he stated coldly.  

"That's right. We did. What, did you think you were the only one capable of lying?" She snarled back at him as a bitter memory intruded her mind.  

"Men lie. . .and then they die," one of Jadea's loyal warriors had stated in a rather insightful tone. She'd been surprised to hear such a comment - come from a man.  

Jadea's pendant darkened to gray. Her eyes changed their expression, losing the amusing glow they'd had before. She closed her eyes, summoning an enormous amount of her energy. The temple began to shake and soon the walls were crumbling as though under heavy attack by artillery. A pillar fell hard to the floor and shattered.  

"Get out of here, Ares!" Jadea shouted through the ruckus as his temple came apart chunk by chunk.  

When she finished, the Sorceress Empress vanished, returning back into Themiscyra. She appeared unusually calm and collected for someone who'd just destroyed a temple to the god of war.  

One of the Amazon children ran up to her, a giant grin on her face. "Jaaydeah!" She shouted and hugged the woman's legs.  

Jadea bent down and picked the little girl up. She walked with the child on her hip, smiling as if she hadn't a care in the world. "What have you got there, little one?" Jadea asked as the girl showed her something she'd made.  

"It's a bunny! Anti said I could have one when I'm older," she beamed happily.  

Jadea took "Anti" to mean Antigone. The young Amazon child had a small feather stuffed and sewn animal in her arms. "Well, if Antigone said it...then she must be right." The sorceress smiled and gave the girl a hug.  

After a few moments, Pike walked up to Jadea. "Queen Medea wants to see you," she informed plainly.  

"Why am I not surprised?" Jadea asked.  

"Come along Aura." Pike said and took the girl into her arms. The young girl giggled.  

Ah...I wonder how long it will take-

"JADEA!" A voice bellowed out her name.  

Longer than I expected, but still relatively on time.

Medea marched up to her co-Queen, a hard look on her face. All I want is some peace and quiet, is that too much to ask? She asked herself.  

"Have you lost what little mind you have left?" She questioned, flailing her arms wildly.  

"Why, whatever do you mean?" Jadea returned sweetly.  

"!" Medea growled and clenched her fists in frustration. "You gave Kaia back as a mortal!”  

"Why, yes, yes, I believe I did. How did you know?" Jadea asked curiously, though she suspected she knew. What she heard next would nearly shock her to death.  

"I have someone you should see! I believe you know her. After all, you did go to our Land of the Dead to see her. Follow me," Medea instructed in a tone that left no room for protest. Not that Jadea would have, anyway. "You! Get back to work!" She snapped at a few Amazons on her way to the command hut.  

Jadea stepped in behind Medea. Out of a shadowed corner emerged Ishtar. She held a sleeping infant in her arms.  

This wasn't in the plan. This isn't happening! This can't happen! Her mind screamed to her.  

"Jade, I'm sorry." Ishtar replied softly.  

"Wh-why?" Jadea looked dumbfounded, her eyes seeming to twinkle with water.  

"I had to bring her. It was the only way, my Sister," Ishtar answered.  

"NO!" Jadea shouted and stormed out of the command hut.  

Inside, Ishtar and Medea exchanged looks. The Queen Regent bit her lower lip. "She took it well, I think," the Queen remarked.  

The Teloan shook her head and closed her eyes. "What have I done?" Ishtar asked herself sorrowfully.  

"Don't worry. Jadea will come around. I know she will." Medea reassured, though she herself doubted it.  


"Corestarah!" Jadea beckoned one of the Highland Amazons to come at once.  

"Aye, Empress?" The woman asked upon her arrival.  

"Send Queen Dolphinea at once!" The Highlander nodded and was off quickly.  

Angus watched silently from afar. He'd seen a dangerous thing in Jadea years before. For some mysterious reason, the man began to feel traces of that "thing" returning.  

You're worried, aren't you? Ardra inquired, perched nearby.  

Aye, he sighed. I've never seen her like this - not with Amazons.  

The guardian hawk agreed. She, too, didn't know the cause for the change Jadea was going through. Unlike Angus, however, Ardra had nearly accurate suspicions.  

What if she . . . He thought.  

The hawk wouldn't let him finish the thought. She won't!

She could, though. What's to stop her from. . .

Again, Ardra was adamant. I said she won't! But after a few moments of complete silence between them, the hawk added, she has us. She has the Amazons.

Aye. But are we enough, do ya think? Angus asked while he watched Jadea pace back and forth. A few Amazons stopped to stare but quickly looked away when Jadea glanced up at met their eyes.  

Ardra never answered. She wanted to reassure both Angus and herself that she was. But she couldn't. Lingering doubts and remembrances prevented her from being certain.  

Back on Olympus . . .  

"All right you big ugly flying pile of dung! Come and get it!" Samsara shouted upwards.  

She'd given the giant bird an incentive for returning so soon. the deceitful appearance that she was vulnerable. To further draw the large vulture in, she killed a cow in the valley far below the rocks. she hated waiting! At last, though, her "patience" was rewarded.  

"Not yet...not yet...come on, you know you want me!" Samsara insulted the bird and continually made comments until the vulture had landed.  

Rolling over onto her stomach, Samsara shot a lightning bolt to her left which cut the trigger to a primitive spear launching catapult. The long, thick spear pierced the hide of the bird and went through him. He emitted a low pitched cry.  

On the spear's tip, Samsara had poured a thin line of hind's blood - enough to kill the creature without using too much. The Great Destroyer used her supply of hind's blood sparingly.  

As the bird's head hit the ground, Samsara was ready. She threw her breast dagger straight for his eyes, a small ball of energy right behind it. The dagger hit the ruby and the energy knocked it loose.  

Greedily, the Goddess stretched her hand out and pulled it in toward her body. The ruby came to her through the air and she caught it with both hands.  

Back to Themiscyra...  

As Queen Dolphinea of the Highland Amazon Tribe approached Jadea, Queen Regent Medea did so from another direction. Somehow, the three met in the middle.  

"Jadea, what's goin' on?" Dolphinea asked immediately concerned.  

"That's what I'd like to know," Medea remarked.  

"Stop it, both of you!" Jadea snapped, but her eyes instantly apologized. "Look, I'm just...fine. I went to Ares' temple and toyed with him and Discord. The Goddess had a baby in her arms."  

Dolphinea gasped quietly. Could things get any stranger?  

"A baby?" Medea asked in disbelief.  

"Kaia." Jadea stated regrettably. She hadn't known that stripping Kakistos' powers would turn her into an infant mortal. All she'd wanted was for the damn vixen to be mortal - not an infant.  

"How is that-" Dolphinea started to ask.  

Jadea shook her head. "I took her godhood from her."  

"You can do that?" The Themiscyran Queen asked in amazement. She was learning new things about Jadea every day it seemed. Not all of them she liked, either.  

"Not by myself, but yes I can," Jadea answered and waved her hand to dismiss that part. "There's more. I destroyed the temple. All three of them were inside when I left." A minute was taken to absorb this.  

"How does Ishtar and her baby fit into this?" Medea asked, breaking the silence.  

Dolphinea raised her eyebrows at Jadea. She didn't know about Ishtar, the baby, or either’s relation to Samsara.  

"During the war, I went to seek Ishtar's help. She agreed to aid me in restoring Ares as god of war," Jadea abruptly cut herself off, and it showed on her face.  

"I take it there's more," Medea said grimly.  

Her co-Queen nodded. "This wasn't a part of our plan then. Ishtar plans to give Samsara the child to raise."  

"That rabid bitch? Raising a baby? Have you both lost your minds?" Medea retorted sharply.  

"Not yet, Medea. But you seem to have a head start!" Jadea quipped back instinctively. A hunger to fight was growing inside her rapidly.  

The Sorceress Empress sighed. "Ishtar believes that if Samsara sees the child, the light and innocence the baby possesses will-"  

"I get it," Medea interrupted. She knew the power a child could have over others. "So, why is Ishtar here?"  

Dolphinea may not have had much of a clue as to this Amazon Ishtar and her child, but she wasn't entirely ignorant. "Obviously she thinks Samsara will soon come here," the Highland Queen pointed out. She was confirmed by a nod from Jadea.  

"It's trickier now, though. Kaia is a baby now. She's innocent."  

"You can't be serious, Jadea. Kaia Kakistos is the daughter of Discord and Ares. She is not innocent!" The Queen exasperated. She was backed up with Dolphinea's nod.  

"Regardless of her parentage, Medea...regardless of whether we like it or not - Kaia is innocent. Do you think as a child she knows of all the horrendous things she's done?" Jadea was quick to defend a innocent, even if it was Kaia.  

Only one way existed for Kaia to have her powers back. And Jadea had made sure that the one way would never come to transpire. Even if Discord gave her daughter ambrosia, Kaia would still be mortal. And if word got out that Kaia Kakistos, the evil goddess, was a helpless little baby? Mercenaries, assassins, Amazons, Centaurs, and hordes of other enemies would swarm to hunt the child down and kill her.  

About this time, Ishtar made herself known as she cleared her throat. She'd approached the three Queens with light steps. In the presence of the Sorceress Empress, her spirit was stronger as she fed off Jadea's energy in much the way Seriana could with Thalia. “Sisters?"  

Two heads turned. Medea could look at the Teloan without turning.  

"Ishtar..." Jadea's voice trailed off. She wanted desperately to help her Amazon Sister, but she couldn't.  

"I understand," the woman replied.  

Queen Medea shot her co-ruler a look. "Understand what?" She asked intuitively.  

"What must be done," Jadea stated, meeting Ishtar's eyes. "She'll soon come for her horse, Prince. We do this then. Dolphinea, ready the Highlanders."  

"Jade, what's-" She was given a reprimanding look.  

"Just do it," Jadea responded with a half-sigh.  

An hour later..."Rider approaching!" The message was sent through the camp.  

Jadea and Medea both rushed toward the gate, taken aback by the surprise guest.  

"Do we attack?" Valkyra asked Medea.  

The Queen Regent glanced at Jadea. "No! Hold fire," Medea instructed right before asking, "What does he want?"  

Jadea stared forward. "I may have killed his daughter…so revenge."  

"Why come through the front door, then?" Medea asked quickly. Indeed, she was beginning to think like a leader.  

"Sometimes the best tactic is the one least anticipated. I'll go," Jadea stated and began to move but Medea caught her arm.  

"Jadea, if he so much as flinches the wrong way, I'll-"  

The Amazon nodded, a small smile curving her lips. Despite their differences, the Amazons cared about each other.  

Medea watched her co-Queen walk the dirt path that lead up to the god of war. Hidden behind some bushes were several warriors. Up in the trees were archers, poised for firing if given the word.  

Neither Jadea nor Ares spoke until she was in front of him. They were only out of earshot by a hundred or so yards.  

"That was some assault," Ares remarked in a low, dark voice.  

"No assault. I was returning medicine to Discord," Jadea observed.  

"Didn't know she dabbled in medicine," he declared offhandedly.  

"What do you want?" Jadea questioned pointedly. She had no time for word games.  

"You," He answered smoothly, his eyes on hers.  

"I'm flattered," Jadea returned after a few seconds. His ready response had taken her off guard. "Won't Xena be jealous, though?" She added to better regain her composure.  

"Discord has taken Kaia. She refuses to let me near my own daughter."  

"You're breaking my heart, Ares," Jadea said less than remorsefully.  

"If she remains with Discord, she'll grow up to be like Callisto.....and Xena."  

Silence. Jadea was again knocked off her guard. A moment or two passed before a single question was able to be pulled up to counter his problem. Why would Ares have a problem with his child turning out the way Callisto was and Xena used to be?  

"Your point would be? Nothing you've said concerns me," she stated simply.  

"You think not? All right, then answer me this. Do you really want Kaia to slaughter your tribes and wipe out every village from here through Rome?"  

No, she thought to herself. “So, you want me to help you get back your screaming brat based on the assumption that she's going to grow up to be a warlord?"  

"If Discord raises her, I'd say that's a little stronger than an assumption. Wouldn't you?"  

"I handled Kakistos as a goddess. I think I can bring down a mortal warrior," the sorceress turned her back on him and took a step.  

"You thought you could save Callisto, too."  

The woman stopped and didn't move.  

"What is she doing?" Medea asked herself. A couple of sounds came from the trees to ask the Queen for an order. She gave none.  

"Back in Cirra, remember? You thought you could save her. But you couldn't. And then when you found out she was alive still? She wasn't immortal yet, remember? You thought if only you could reach her...oh, but you couldn't manage that either."  

Jadea's pendant burned a bright red. She clenched her fists at her sides. Her body was tense.  

From her spot, Medea watched anxiously.  

Come on. Come on, Jadea! Give me a sign. Give me something.

The Queen didn't want to make her move until she knew one was called for. The Amazons around her felt the same impulse.  

"Wait a minute," Ares began after letting the silence hit Jadea. "You can't be blamed for that. Rumyna kept you from finding your sister, didn't she?"  

Jadea didn't answer. She didn't even turn around.  

"Didn't she, Jadea?" Ares repeated, knowing he was endangering himself by antagonizing her.  

The horse behind the God of War whinnied. Ares made a quick glance at him. When his eyes were forward again he found Jadea was facing him.  

"I have a plan to fix both our problems, Ares. You're going to love it! Well, half of it. You can keep Kaia...and even Discord. You can even help raise Kaia if you like."  

He lifted an eyebrow at her. "What's the catch?"  

"Discord and Kaia can never...leave...Olympus," she said, emphasizing her words.  

"You want me to ask Zeus if I can raise my mortal daughter on Olympus? No chance." Ares replied. He saw that Jadea smirked darkly.  

"Too late. It's done," the sorceress remarked then raised her hand at the God. He disappeared along with the horse he rode in on.  

One down. One to go. Come on Sami. It's a girl!

In Samsara's temple...  

"Well, Greek fireballs!" The Goddess yelled. One of her temple guards ran in, thinking something was wrong. She turned her head at the sound of his steps.  

"Great Destroyer! Is there a problem?" He asked, his sword already drawn to fight.  

She looked at him with amusement but sighed and shook her head. "Nothing you can solve. Get back to your post."  

"Yes, mighty Kakistos!" He answered and was gone before she could tell him not to call her that. The mighty part was perfect. The latter was what had bothered her.  

Samsara tried to swallow the shock that her sister was now a crying, squirming little baby mortal. She'd just recently returned to her temple and had witnessed the charming exchange between Ares and her Aunt.  

"Father, you really don't know your limits, do you?"  

The Goddess picked up Rhea's Ruby in front of her. She admired its beauty and power. "Well, I can't think about that right now. Time to pay a visit for Prince. Oh, I really do hope that Medea won't spoil things. She has a way of doing that, you know? Spoiling plans...usually perfectly crafted ones, too."  

In Themiscyra...  

"So, what happened?" Medea interrogated her co-ruler.  

"Ares and Discord were having a dispute over the baby. I stepped in to make a decision they couldn’t. They'll share custody of a very mortal baby Kaia on Olympus. Of course, that means that Discord and Kaia will be confined to Olympus," Jadea explained, her eyes glittering their normal way now.  

Queen Medea had nothing to say to that.  

Jadea turned to Dolphinea beside her. "Is everyone-"  

"Aye. Confused...but ready," she answered sadly. The Queen didn't really want to leave. And it unnerved her greatly that Jadea wasn't confiding in her the way she'd done with Vorgeen.  

"Good. Tell Angus to get Prince out of the Themiscyra Stables."  

"Aye, Empress," she replied and left.  

"Umm, Jadea? Mind clueing me in here? I am the Queen, you know?" Medea asked from behind her.  

The Sorceress turned. "When Samsara comes for Prince, Ishtar will deliver her babe to the only other daughter she's ever known - Samsara. Once she has, Ishtar's part of our deal is complete."  

"Wait, what deal?" The Queen Regent demanded to know.  

"I must leave, Medea. I'm sorry. I know my timing couldn't be worse what with Celosia gone. But..." Jadea found she could say no more. Medea's puzzled and hurt look was too much for her. The Sorceress shook her head. "I'm sorry," she repeated and walked off.  

Leda caught up with the Co-Queen before she could reach the sanctity of her hut. “Jadea!" She called out, and Jadea stopped.  

She didn't like ignoring her Sisters - ever...even though she sometimes did. "Aye?"  

"Some of the Highland Amazons have been talking. There's a rumor that you're going to take them and leave," she paused for a second. "Is it true?"  

Jadea's expression answered for her. Guilt was already setting in. This wasn't how she'd planned to fulfill her part with Ishtar. But then, things often didn't go according to plan.  "Aye, Leda. It's true." She softly answered. Jadea was just about to apologize yet again, something she never did unless she meant it with every fiber of her being, when Leda asked, "When will you be back?"  

The Amazon wore a solemn light in her eyes, reflective of the hope she had that Jadea would return. Celosia leaving? That'd been hard enough to accept. Celosia and Jadea gone? Not to mention the Highland Amazon Tribe? Granted they were guests in Themiscyra's lands, but nevertheless - the Themiscyran Amazons had become accustomed to them being around. Friendships, even love, had been established.  

"I don't know. Look, I have some tasks to attend. Please excuse me, my Sister," Jadea said briskly and left, this time by using her powers. She collapsed on her bed and buried her head under a blanket.  


"Go away!" Came her muffled response.  

An aching pain had filled the woman's heart. She'd tried valiantly to fight it back. Slowly but surely, the feeling had gained ground. Like it or not, Jadea was missing something in her life. All her denial and involvement with wars had allowed her to keep the loss buried for quite awhile. But now there were no wars, to speak of. No great crisis to handle. And her denials were losing their ability to cover for her.  

Jade? A voice called her name again.  

Under the blanket, she groaned but came out. Standing up, she glared at the entrance and debated whether to knock out whoever was on the other side.  

"What?" Jadea yelled.  

"May I come in?" The voice asked respectfully. It was Ishtar.  

"By all means, do," was the invite.  

The Teloan came inside, her babe in her arms. She walked in slowly and studied Jadea before approaching any closer.  

"Ishtar, about earlier - I didn't mean to-"  

Shaking her head, her Sister interrupted. "I know. I understand your grief. I wanted to give you a present, my Amazon Sister."  

She handed Jadea her babe wrapped in a white cloth. The latter seemed uneasy and completely uncomfortable with holding Ishtar's child. But in no time at all, Jadea was gently cradling the newborn in her arms and rocking from left to right.  

Ishtar, as the adoptive mother of Samsara, had long since been able to recognize the purity of a child. She saw now that Jadea gazed lovingly at the babe.  

Many moments passed. Ishtar listened as her Themiscyran Sister hummed a foreign lullaby to her babe. It had been a song native to the Cirra valley and province. A lullaby Jadea had hummed to herself continuously in the days that followed Cirra's destruction. Years after, Rumyna had asked her protégé to sing the words. Surprisingly, Jadea'd found she hadn't forgotten them despite that she'd always just hummed the tune.  

With this, though, came a revelation which struck Ishtar with a new light. "You have a daughter?" The woman asked calmly, though quite surprised.  

The Sorceress Empress looked up from the baby in her arms. She was stunned. "No," she answered and looked back down at the infant.  

But the feeling wouldn't leave Ishtar alone. She was certain of it. "Yes, you have a daughter, Jadea."  

Again, Jadea's eyes shot up. She looked angry, almost as if she might lash out. But soon, the look faded and was replaced by one of anguish. "That was a long time ago," she said softly.  

A long time ago? Ishtar wondered just how old she was. No one really knew. She suspected her to be younger than Callisto, but she wasn't sure. Perhaps, Queen Celosia was the only one to know. If that was the case, she hadn't ever indicated Jadea's age to the Amazons.  

Jadea stepped lightly toward Ishtar and handed the child back to her. She looked at the babe, now in her mother's arms. Meeting the Amazon's eyes, she thanked her. "How did you know?" She asked.  

Ishtar smiled. "I didn't...until I felt it."  

Jadea gave her a strange look. "I meant, how did you know that she was just the medicine I needed?"  

"Something Xena said once about the light of a child's face affecting the darkness inside a person," she smiled. And in that moment, Jadea realized how wise Ishtar was. She knew that many of her Sister Amazons were. It just took some a longer while to get there.  

As Ishtar left, Jadea took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. She gathered up a few belongings: her sword, her Solstice gift, her letter parchment from Samsara, and a few other items. Leaving her hut, she made certain what remained behind were what she intended to leave - and that all was placed just right. On her way to talk to Medea, the Sorceress ran into Thalia.  

The Scout eyed her with a kind of angry pain. "So it's true, then?" She shouted, though not so loud that everyone heard.  

Jadea reached out to Sister, but Thalia just jerked back. She shook visibly, acting as if she'd just been stabbed through the heart by her own blood. "How can you do this?"  

"Thalia," Jadea spoke softly to calm her. The Scout stared at her angrily and ran off.  

I'm beginning to see why Celosia chose one big clean meeting. She might've warned me this would happen.  

Seriana was next to find Jadea. By the Gods, could she never reach a destination without being stopped? Luckily, Seri was more saddened than angered by the true rumor she'd heard. "I wish you weren't leaving," she said weakly.  

"Seriana, I'm glad you caught me," Jadea stated as lightly as she could. "I want to give you something."  

"What?" She asked.  

Jadea pointed in the direction of her hut. "I want you to take care of the place while I'm gone, okay?"  

The Amazon didn't answer for a few moments. " 'While' you're gone? So, you're coming back then, right? Right?"

Jadea nodded and hugged her niece. "I'm coming back."  

"You promise?" Seriana pulled back out of the hug to look into the woman's eyes.  

"I promise," Jadea pledged, hoping beyond hope that she could keep it.  

"All right, then," Seri sniffled before adding, "I'll keep your hut clean and ready for you."  

Jadea laughed slightly. "I also mean for you to use it, if you like."  

Seriana cocked her head to one side. "Really?"  

Her Aunt nodded. "Really."  

"Ahem " The Queen Regent stood a few feet away, blocked from Jadea's view. Seriana gave her Aunt one last look before making a hasty retreat. She'd yet to engage in a major fight with Medea, and she wasn't anxious for that to change.  

"You're disappointing many of your Sisters, you know?" Medea asked rather rhetorically. Perhaps she meant it as a last ditch effort to sway Jadea's mind.  

"Aye, well they're not the only ones. I've given Seriana occupation of my hut."  

"So I heard," the Queen commented.  

"Yes, well, she may wish to use it for a few days after I leave. I've left many herbs and other things you can use if needed," Jadea added.  

"None of this will make it easier, Jade. Who will help me run this tribe, hmm?" Medea questioned meaningfully. Celosia had left Jadea with the responsibility of helping Medea.  

"I won't be gone long," the Sorceress replied after a minute. "You won't even miss me."  

"That’s the worst pile of horse dung I've ever heard. And believe me, I've heard some raunchy, rank piles of it!" Medea quipped back.  

Just then a loud call spread throughout the camp. Samsara had arrived. The Queen looked at Themiscyra's Sorceress. "You owe me big time, Jadea," she informed her.  

"For?" Jadea returned as she walked.  

"For what I'm not going to do. I could demand a challenge, order every Amazon in Themiscyra to stop you from leaving...among other things."  

After a few seconds, Jadea decided consent would be better. "I owe you."



"I saw what you did back there," the Goddess said from across the open spaces of Themiscyra. Spears, swords, and arrows were pointed at her as the Amazons waited on Medea or Jadea's word. As far as some were concerned, Samsara committed an act of treason when she "killed" Xena during the war.  

The Goddess Kakistos sensed something strong stirring in her soul and within the gates, but she ignored the thoughts. "You turned my sister into a four year old," she smirked. "Unfortunately, that has to change. Her remaining followers already know. I can fend them off with my army. No worries. But that is not what I came here for." She looked toward the stables. "I came for my horse." She kept Rhea's Ruby well hidden. No one knew of its existence except for a very few.  

Jadea looked at the Amazons training their weapons on the Goddess. "Hold," she commanded. They lowered their weapons. "There is someone you need to see," her voice was cold.  

"Yeah, that's another thing. What's with your leavin'?"  

There was no time to answer the question. Ishtar walked out from the crowd. She stood behind Samsara.  

The Great Destroyer froze. She knew who was behind her. Her eyes began to well up, but she would never dare cry. Especially not in front of the Themiscyrans and never before Medea. "Mama?" was all she said.  

"Our deal is complete," the Shamaness Priestess said.  

Samsara turned around. "What?"  

Ishtar walked to her foster-daughter and pushed her still-loose hair back. "You're beginning to act more like Kakistos than Samsara. There is only one way to get you back on your path," she handed the sleeping child to her.  

The meaning was implicit. No one questioned what was happening.  

"Please..." Samsara said.  

"I can't. You understand this," Ishtar responded. She placed her palm on the Goddess' forehead. When she removed her hand, wind picked up from below. Once the air stopped moving, Samsara was back in her natural Amazon clothes. Her eyes were the chocolate brown they used to be. "Tie up your hair if you desire. I always thought the ponytail was more becoming of you," she began to fade. "My time here has come and gone. Jadea, I have held up my end."  

"Mama.... Mama stay..." Samsara's voice had begun to crack. She wouldn’t let the tears fall, but she had no control over her voice. "Mama, what am I supposed to do...?"  

"Raise my daughter the way I should have raised you," and with that she was gone.  

Samsara turned back to Jadea. Her eyes were deadly, but sad. "What have you done? What is going on?"  

Jadea looked away as she walked toward the gates. She mounted her horse. "I have to leave, Samsara," she responded simply.  

"No. No, you stay!" She got no response. She got angry. The much-older woman still gave her her back. Samsara turned and handed the child to Seriana. She slammed her staff down violently. "Jade, I will not allow you to leave. You, Sorceress Empress, will not leave the Amazons!"  

Jadea trotted a bit ahead. She couldn't look at her sister's daughter. She couldn't bear the look on Samsara's face.

Samsara pulled out her sword. "As High Princess, Princess-Heiress to the Teloan throne, I, Samsara the Great Destroyer challenge Jadea, Sorceress Empress of the Amazons, native of the Highlanders, as is my Amazon right," her voice was wavering greatly. She let go of her tears. It had been the first time in four years that she cried openly and at all. Her grip on the sword was strong, but the stance was shifting violently. "I can't let you leave!"

"Oh, not this again," Medea whispered.  

"Don't fight someone you don't have the courage to kill," was Jadea's dark response.  

And at that Samsara sheathed her sword. "Then I won't fight you," she took the child out of her older sister's arms and cradled it in her own. "At least give me my horse back."  

Jadea snapped her fingers and Prince appeared. Samsara mounted the son of Pegasus and faced the opposite direction as her aunt. "Then this is good-bye," she said quietly. She regained some composure in her voice. She didn't look at Jadea. She started off then stopped.  

"By your sword and staff!" called the Sorceress.  

"By your dagger and your wits," added Samsara.  

"Blood promise of life..."  

"Fight to the death!" Samsara galloped away to the far end of the camp, toward the river. Jadea trotted away, leaving word with Dolphinea as to when to move out.  

Meanwhile on Olympus...  

Zeus slammed his fist down onto his table. He was quite unhappy. He was also unsure of which to put on the top of his list: Kaia's 'infantilization,' Samsara's insurrection, or the fact that the vulture assigned to eat Prometheus' liver was killed for the Rhea Ruby.  

Athena paced by her father's side. "We have to wait until things cool down. Once everything is calm and back to its original state, then we retrieve the stone. We can't have another winged horse."  


Meanwhile, Samsara let Prince graze as she held the babe in her arms. The events of the past few candlemarks threw her for a loop. Was she still Master of War? The Academy still ran smoothly. Jadea was gone. Ishtar came and left after barely a moment and left her with a gurgling, infant child to care for.  

She looked at the child. She had tufts of Ishtar's auburn hair. Her eyes were almond-shaped much like her mother's and were a piercing green. Samsara smiled. "You child... you child are a blessing: pure and true... You're just like Mama," she kissed the child's forehead. She pulled on Samsara's hair, now in a ponytail.  

"You can come out, Ser'," Samsara said. She knew her sister was nearby.  

"You know I meant to be found," the red-haired beauty walked to her younger, but older-looking sister and sat down on a log next to her.  

"I know."  

"What are you naming her?"  

Samsara paused. "Karma. I'll name her Karma," she handed the child to Seriana and stood up. She drew her sword and looked upon the Thermodon. She aimed carefully and shot the weapon into the water.  

"What are you doing?" Seriana said. "You need that."  

"I have my staff. I don't need to fight anymore, especially now with Karma," she sat down and took the child again. "I can't let her out of my sight. I can't let her grow up the way me or my sister did without Mama. I can't let her become evil like I did and I won't lose her like I did my sister."  

"I know the story behind Kakistos," Seriana said. "Don't think I didn't read your scrolls when you left for Olympus that second time. What happened is not your fault. She was ruled by Velasca just as Medea was. There was nothing you could have done to stop it."  

"I found her. It was my responsibility. Now I will spend the rest of eternity making up for that fault with this child. Just as I destroy I can create. I have hardly created but I have destroyed so much. Perhaps it's time I fix that."  

Seriana nodded. She understood what her sister meant. She just wish it had come in a different way.  

Aphrodite appeared. "You called?" she said in a sad voice.  

"Aphrodite..." the Great Destroyer said. "You said I could have one wish that I could use whenever I wanted, correct?"  

"Oh, I know where you're goin' with this, honey, you know I can't grant you that wish!"  

"You promised--"  

"I know I promised, but I can't break a deal and I can't resurrect someone whose cord Atropos cut. There's an order--"  

"And you have to abide by it. I understand," Samsara never looked at the Goddess of Love once.  

"I can do something that would kinda, sorta help you," The Goddess of Love twisted her fingers. "Like, I know how this kinda feels, what with Ishtar showing up and Jadea leavin. I don't like sadness."  

"You weren't cut out to be the Goddess of Sorrow," Samsara smiled slightly at her barb.  

"Hehe, yeah. Well, expect a visitor in due time, great Goddess. I suppose that is the only way I can grant your mondo, but well-spent wish."  

The Goddess of Destruction turned to her and smiled. "Perhaps. You do seem to know well, 'Dite."  

She giggled. "I really like it when people call me that! Oh, and by the way, the kid looks cute. She's got your mama's best features. Not like Ishtar had any bad features, but you know what I mean." She kissed the baby's forehead. "I bless you with the eternal capacity to love, little one."  

Karma scrunched up her nose and gurgled. Aphrodite scrunched her nose too and grinned toothily. "Okay, bambinas, I gotta go. I've got some mean, old warlords to turn into smoochy, young lovermen." She waved. "Toodles!" She shrugged slightly and she disappeared in her usual fashion.  

"In due time, huh?" Seriana remarked. "I wonder who's coming."


Overhead, Ardra looked down as her Mistress galloped away from Themiscyra.  

The hawk was to stay behind with the Themiscyra Amazons - sent to either Celosia or Jadea only under the utmost need. At present, she disobeyed the order to follow the Sorceress Empress. The bird feared that a slice of history was about to repeat itself.

She's going to seek him out. I just know she's going to seek him out! Ardra thought grimly. Would he know she was coming for him? Would he be ready for her? Would he try to run or hide? Or, would he want to fight her? Did he even still have men in his command?  

Back in Themiscyra...  

The Queen Regent was anything but lenient now. It would take some adapting before her softer side dared to peek out again. Now she had Samsara Kakistos, the Great Destroyer in her camp...and with a baby!  

The other Amazons were skittish, unable to make heads or tails of what they thought. More than one wanted to kill Samsara for what she'd done. And still other women pointed out that she was now a mother. Perhaps not the natural way, but a mother nonetheless. They argued that they had no right to take the child's mother way. To this, many countered that they'd be doing Ishtar's baby a great duty by killing Samsara and sparing her the life of being raised by the Goddess.  

Medea wouldn't concern herself with Samsara just yet. The Goddess was of no threat to her right now, as she was far more preoccupied with what'd just transpired. Instead, Themiscyra's Queen Regent helped the Highlanders with the last touches before they were to leave. She spoke to Queen Dolphinea.  

"Are you sure I can't change your mind?" Medea asked, unconsciously fiddling with one of her daggers.  

"No, but orders are orders. You're a Queen now. You know how it is," Dolphinea remarked with her cool Irish brogue.  

Yeah, I know how it is, Medea said to herself.  

She hated this. There'd been far too many drastic changes happening too close together. The Queen Regent began to wish for Celosia's return. She missed her sister greatly. Not to mention that she was starting to understand the anxiety and concern an Amazon Queen had to endure.  

Dolphinea tightened a bag on her horse, a tall and magnificent black stallion named Dark Angel of the Night - Dark Angel for short. She looked to her right where Medea stood, sadness in her eyes. "Jade's decreed that Angus come with us, as well."  

Medea nodded. "She knows he wouldn't stay put anyway."  

Dolphinea smiled and nodded. "Aye. But I think it'll be harder than we suspect. He and that Garrett lad have made themselves comrades, aye?"  

The Queen nodded. She didn't like the men being in camp. She didn't like men - the vast majority of them. Nevertheless, Medea had seen enough to know that Angus and Garrett were helpful to the Amazons. They did their share, and more, of the work and without complaint. They'd provided the women with some interesting entertainment from time to time. But perhaps this was for the best. With Jadea and Angus gone, Thalia and Garrett would have no choice but to have that long overdue talk.  

Corestarah and few other Highlanders came up to their Queen. Dolphinea sighed at the sight of them. She knew what it meant.  

"It is time, my Queen."  

"Each team ready?" Dolphinea asked. Silent nods were given. "Very well. Corestarah, lead us out. I'll be right behind ya."  

The Highlanders nodded again and left. Dolphinea looked at Medea. They exchanged looks, each knowing what the other meant. Medea stretched her arm out and Dolphinea clasped it, smiling as she did so.  

"Was an honor to meet and fight beside ya, Queen Medea!"  

"Likewise," Medea managed to reply. She wasn't the gushy type, but she felt the emotions from time to time nonetheless.  

Dolphinea mounted gracefully and looked down at the Themiscyran next to her. "Ach, I almost forgot. Jade wanted ya to have this," she said, handing down a black pouch.  

"What is it?" Medea asked hesitantly. She wouldn't have been surprised to find a snake in the bag.  

"Somethin' to use when ya want to bark," Dolphinea commented, a grin on her face. Before Medea could say anything, the Queen kicked her horse and charged off. She gave a loud whooping holler to those of her Amazons who were lagging behind.  

Medea opened the bag and pulled out a smooth oval emerald stone. Under the stone was a message written on a small bit of scroll.  

"Medea, you are now Themiscyra's Queen. Celosia would not have trusted you with the rite if she lacked faith in you. Know this - I believe in you. Use the Twilight Bark only if needed. Jadea, Amazon sorceress of Themiscyra."  

In addition to this message was one Dolphinea had previously given to Medea for Samsara. The Queen Regent stared at it a moment, then decided to withhold it from her for now.  

Back on Olympus…  

"This is ridiculous!" Ares' voice boomed, as he attempted to get Kaia away from Discord.  

Athena appeared and struck her brother down. He flew backward and hit his head against the wall. "Stop this, both of you! Because the two of you, we are now in this mess! If you can't get along together, I will kill the child myself!"  

Discord hissed. "You touch my daughter, Athena and I'll show the mortal world HOW DUMB YOU REALLY ARE !"  

"Discord!" Ares yelled her name to warn her not to provoke Athena's wrath.  

Athena's glare shifted from the raven-haired goddess to Ares. "Keep your girlfriend in check, bro. Or your precious Kaia will become an orphan...if she lives." Athena left Ares to deal with Discord. The latter snarled at the God of War.  

In the main hall, Hera sat on her throne and watched as Zeus walked around his table numerous times. He stared and mumbled to himself. His wife, however, was quite amused with how things were turning out. Two Goddesses neutralized without them so much as having to lift a finger or raise an army. The Queen of the Gods could now focus on ridding the world of her stepson, Hercules. These thoughts she kept to herself, though. The Queen hid a smile as she observed Zeus.  

In Themiscyra... 

Angus had said his goodbyes to Garrett, apologized to Thalia, and managed to keep a reserved composure about him. But now, as he rode behind Dolphinea, Angus felt his nerves starting to move. He peered upward and saw Ardra flying back toward Themiscyra. She spotted him, as well. 

Good luck, mate, Ardra wished him. 

We need more than luck this time, was his reply. 

By the next morning, the troop of Amazons had caught up with Jadea. They had broken off into teams to make travel easier. Sometimes, hearing that a large number of Amazons were on the move had villagers thinking the worst, often assuming the warriors are going to attack them or they're marching to war with another army. 

It would be several days before the Highland Tribe reached a port they could take back home. Jadea often teleported many of her Sisters there, but this could only be done in shifts and a small number at a time taken each trip. This time, some Amazons went back by boat and some by magic. 

Jadea left three Highland Amazon Elders behind in Themiscyra. They were had no desire to make the trip back to Britannia and their age made it unwise for them to do so. They offered their services to Queen Regent Medea and she called upon thier counsel every so often. Once, primarily, to learn how to use her "gift" from Jadea to send and receive messages. 



A couple of days went by with few squabbles. Samsara spent much of her time with Karma, and even managed to repair some of the broken ties with her Sisters. Some were wary of her, others did as they could to look past what she had done. They, after all, realized they'd have done the same thing, even if it meant sacrificing oneself. 

The Goddess herself was sitting in her hut sanding posts. The babe was old enough to sit up on its own. Six months, she estimated. She supposed time went by really slowly in the Land of the Dead. Karma had been there, and therefore effectively dead, for nearly two years. 

Samsara hummed a lullaby to herself as she continued to sand. She stopped. She knew the song. Callisto had sung it to her... 

She remembered. She had just been born and the immortal woman had no idea what to do with her. She grasped the crying child in her arms and rocked slowly back and forth until Samsara became quiet. 

Her next memory was during Solstice time, when Dachus's spirit had taken her to the Labyrinth. Her mother had remembered where Samsara had come from and in her insane moments she tended to leave the child alone in a dark corner by the light. Callisto would huddle in a corner and rock herself about, humming, then screaming for the baby to be quiet. 

Samsara shook her head and looked toward Karma. She set down her pieces of wood and picked up the child, cradling her. "Aren't you a darling?" she asked, touching the baby's face. 

She thought of Jadea. She missed her aunt dearly, but she knew once she completed whatever mission she had to accomplish in Britannia, she would return to the Themiscyrans. 

None of this was a matter to her now. She had a child to raise, and she needed to be as peaceful as possible. 

Until Seriana burst in. "Samsara," she said. 

Samsara looked up. She knew it. 

Mariko had arrived. 



 Thalia paced back and forth in front of her tent. Zanifus, her blue-green dragon followed her with his eyes, wondering if the Amazon was going to wear a hole in the ground. 

"I need to talk to Garrett," she mumbled to herself, wringing her hands. What would she say? What was she supposed to do? She still loved him, yet did she still love him? Everything was so different now, how much had they changed? It had been so long... 


Thalia jumped and whirled around. "G-Garrett? Uh, hi! I umm.. I.." She fumbled for the words. 

Garret approached and held her arms. "It's ok, calm down." 

Thalia let out a deep sigh. "Garret..." just as he said "Thalia" 

They both stopped and smiled sheepishly. "It's been a while, hasn't it?" Garrett rubbed his hand on the back of his neck nervously. 

"I... too long." Thalia sat down on a log bench, inviting him to sit beside her. "Garrett.. I... I don't know what to think right now." 

"About me, you mean?" Garrett cocked an eyebrow. 

"Yes. Well, about... us. About what we are now. We were young... and it was so long ago..." 

"What are you trying to say?" Garrett shifted to turn towards her. 

Thalia sighed again. "I just don't know what to think right now. When you went off to the war, when you were captured and I never heard from you again... it was so difficult for me, but I pulled myself through and I got past that point in my life, and now suddenly you come here and-" She broke off, not quite knowing what to say next. Her feelings were strewn about, not having any sort of order. She didn't know WHAT she felt, much less how she felt about him. She loved him, yet did she LOVE him? Oh Zeus... 

"I.." Garrett seemed lost as to what to say. "I've been through... a lot. I can't talk about it now, but everything is different. Things have changed, I have changed, and I don't know how much you've changed. I can't lose my feelings for you-" 

"And I for you," said Thalia softly. "I-I still love you, but I love what you were, and now I feel... I feel like I'm meeting someone else, a different you." 

Garret was quiet for a moment. "I know, I know... but we don't have to think about that now. Let's start over- start as friends. See where the tide takes us." 

Thalia looked up at him, tears in her eyes. "Thank you," she whispered. He leaned over and they embraced each other tightly for a long time. 



 A week after she'd left Celosia was lounging on the bank of the Aesthecles River. She had traveled south along the Thermodon River for a few days, then crossed over and picked up following the Aesthecles, which would lead her west and northwest, until she eventually reached the Caucasus Mountains. Her first planned stop of her Nok'tana was a visit to the homeland of the Amazons, high in the mountain range that separated the Black Sea from the Caspian Sea. But for now, she was resting against a tree, hid in it's shade. 

She heard him approaching, but decided to remain as though she were asleep. If he passed on, he'd live intact. If he didn't.. she'd just have to play it as it went. 

The stranger noticed the Amazon relaxing against the tree. He crept over, and sat down a few feet from her. Leaning over, carefully, as quietly as could be, he grabbed hold of one strap of her pack, and pulled it toward him. 

Oh no he doesn't, Celosia thought to herself. She listened intently as he carefully, quietly opened her pack and began rummaging through it. The light reflecting off her dagger and into her eyes finally prompted her to action. 

Without warning, she rolled over and kicked, aiming for the man's head. However, he was fast, and though he had been caught off guard, he managed to lean back, so that her foot connected with his hand, knocking her dagger free. Celosia brought her foot back again and used the motion to launch herself to her feet. The man rolled backwards and pushed off his hands springing to his feet. When he landed, he was faced with one angry Amazon in attack position, her short blades drawn and one pointing directly at his throat. 

"Move and die," Celosia growled. The stranger raised his hands. His face was partially covered by a piece of dark cloth, revealing only his bright blue eyes and dark blonde eyebrows. He started to move one hand toward his face, and Celosia pushed her blade a little farther towards his throat. He paused, then indicated he wanted to remove the cloth covering his mouth. Celosia nodded, bringing her other blade up next to her cheek so that the two were inline, ready to deliver a death blow if needed. 

The man swallowed, and Celosia felt the motion through the short blade. Feeling he was going to be cautious, she removed the blade at his neck a centimeter towards her. He grabbed a part of the cloth at the back of his head, and pulled it forward, unwinding it as he went. A firm jaw first emerged, followed by a sculpted mouth and patrician nose, until he was completely bareheaded, his short, spiky wheat colored hair glinting in the sunlight. He dropped the cloth and moved his hands back out to his side, holding them perpendicular to his body. 

Celosia backed off a foot, dragging her pack with her. "You move fast for a man," she said, keeping her blades drawn and ready. 

"Against an Amazon I do," his voice was slightly gravely. 

Celosia snarled. "What do you mean by that?" 

"I was trained by Amazons. I know how Amazons move, how they work.. and may I say you work quite well- okay, okay no need to get defensive," he corrected as the blades were once again near him, one at his throat, the other at a place most men hold quite dear. 

Celosia quirked an eyebrow. "Why were you rummaging through my stuff?" she asked, not letting down her guard. 

The man bravely reached over and slowly pushed the blade at his neck a little bit away from his throat. He knew which blow would kill him and which would merely hurt him. "I was trying to find out what tribe you were from. I figured you'd have something in your pack." 

Celosia removed the blades, cocked her head, and began tapping her foot. "You claim to be raised by Amazons, and yet you rifle through the property of one? Did you learn nothing while you were with them, or are you lying to me?" 

The man sighed. "I realize I should have probably waited for you to wake, but I didn't know if I'd want to talk to you after I found out what tribe you were from. And something I did learn from the Amazons was that if you're not liked in their tribe, you don't want to be around when they realize who you are," he said ambiguously. 

"I am of Themiscyra." 

"The Thermodonians erected by Lysippe... I've never traveled that far north. Allow me to introduce myself," he said. He reached forward to extend a hand, and that sent Celosia back into battle stance. He pulled back. "A bit testy, aren't we?" He sighed. "I suppose I deserve it. Anyway, my name is Ean. My sister was Telepadai, of the Ephesian Amazons. She and I were found as orphans by the Amazons. They took in Paddy, and I guess I was such a cute baby that they took pity on me." He chuckled, but Celosia's raised eyebrow told him she didn't really believe that reason. "Hrm. So I grew up among the Amazons, but I made a play for the queen's daughter when I was about 13, and they uhm, asked me to leave. So I've been wandering around for about 10 years." 


"Generally, people introduce themselves after one person initiates it." 

"I was making sure you'd finally shut up," Celosia said. Ean grimaced. She sighed. "I am Celosia." 

Expectant silence. 

"That's it, Celosia? I tell you my life story and you tell me your name is Celosia." 

"I didn't ask to hear your life story." 

"Well I am asking to hear yours." 

"Well you're not going to," Celosia replied as she knelt to find her cloth in her sack to clean her blades. As she leaned over, her top crept upwards a few inches, revealing a firm back and the tail of a green dragon. Ean whistled softly at this revelation. Celosia whipped her head. 

"Queen, huh? What's a Queen doing so far from her tribe?" 

Celosia grabbed her cloth and sat down, beginning to make long swipes of her blade. "You ask too many questions." 

"And the fact that they are good questions bothers you to no end," he said, crouching near her. She looked over at him, then down at the feet he was balancing on, then back at his face. He took the hint and moved back a foot. 

"Yes I am the Queen. I am on my Nok'tana." Swipe of the blade. 

"Aren't you supposed to do that before you're Queen?" 

"I didn't have a chance to." Swipe. 

"Why not?" 

Swipe of the blade, broadsided, knocked him on his rear. "Because I didn't," Celosia answered icily. 

"Okay, okay, source of belated Nok'tana is not to be spoken of," Ean said, pushing himself up on one arm. "May I ask where you are headed?" 



Ean rolled his eyes. "Where are you headed?" 

"The Caucasus Mountains." 

"Ah, to see the remnants of the Amazons of old." Celosia looked over at him. "You do know the Amazons from the Caucasus are scattered? After that last great war with the Khan, they are hiding out in small bands, avoiding his successors." 

"I know. That doesn't mean they're dead," she replied. 

"You're right." He picked up a pebble and tossed it into the water. "So." 


"You don't talk much, do you?" 

"Would you know what to do if someone tried to talk as much as you do?" 

Ean laughed. "Okay, I get it. You're the strong silent type." He tossed another pebble into the swiftly moving waters. "Well.. would you like a travel companion?" 

Celosia looked him over. "You really think you can keep up with me?" 

He chuckled. "Honey-" He looked down his nose at the blade. "Okay, okay no honey," the blade was sheathed, along with it's partner. "I was raised with Amazons. Not only can I keep up with you, I can do it with style," he said, finishing with a grin. 

Celosia rolled her eyes, jumped to her feet, and swung her pack up onto her shoulders. "So let's see this style," she said before whirling on her feet and heading off in the jungle. She heard him following behind her, until he caught up to her and grinned jauntily, walking by her side. 


The two women spoke little as Samsara was not entirely ready to deal with another reunion. 

Seriana made sure Mariko was comfortably lodged in Jadea's hut. The mysterious Asian woman looked about her surroundings, lightly touching everything, but moving nothing. She carried two swords slung on her hips, the scabbards tied against her long navy blue tunic. Her pants were flowing and long and as she walked it seemed as if she were floating. Her hair, darker and longer than Samsara's, was braided and placed in a simple bun, the braid coiled around near the nape. 

The tunic itself was embroidered with designs from the East. The reds and the yellows, obviously an Indian influenced garment, melded perfectly with the blue of the cloth. Her hands were long and slender, but to the touch they were calloused, rough. 

Seriana looked at the woman in wonder. She understood some of the story. Her sister Samsara met Mariko and her consort, Haisun, when she traveled East. She protected them with her army, as they were being sought by Uzbek the Khan and his men. As a reward, or payment, for her duties, Mariko taught Samsara her lightning quick moves and how to channel her energy into one force that can level mountains. She also told Samsara that she had no sister named Kakistos and that she had no father. Such ideas obviously upset Samsara and she chose not to speak of them at length in her journal. 

"Why are you here?" Silver Hawk queried. 

"My Waka-musubi -- young growth -- needs to find her path," Mariko responded. "She is near it, but she needs to return to her destiny." 

"I don't believe in destiny." 

"Come, now, my child," the woman responded. "All Fates have planned a grand scheme for everyone. It is up to the individual whether or not she follows the road set for her. If Samsara refuses to return to her path, your Tribe will collapse and with it all the Amazons." She understood that this was one hard, jagged, little pill to swallow, so she added on: "My intent is not to change her. I merely come so that she may continue in her instruction. Only she can truly choose the path she must take." 

Seriana looked at the woman. Things get stranger by the day she thought.


Everything is

A lie in this world

Because even Death

Isn’t so 

--Japanese Zen folk saying



 The Goddess finally got the courage to talk to the woman. She picked up Karma from her newly made crib and cradled her as she walked out from her hut across to Jadea's. 

As she walked, some Amazons still glared at her. Others avoided her eyes. Still some wondered at why she threw her Hephaestian sword away. The intricate sword made of his perfect, impenetrable, deadly black-steel. She ignored the gestures and entered Jadea's hut stealthily. 

"You remember well, great Goddess," Mariko said. She kept her back to Samsara. "I hardly heard your steps. Only the child gave you away." She turned around, her oval face expressionless. Her barley-colored eyes looked at her protégée.

"Where is Haisun?" Samsara asked of the woman's consort. 

"In your conquest to destroy Uzbek the Khan and his army, you allowed some of his soldiers to live, to tell the world your story and spread your name across all known lands. One of those soldiers returned with an army of Chi'n warriors, bent on conquest of Mongolia and killed Haisun as we doubled back toward our Land of Eight Islands." Her words were emotionless. 

Samsara's eyes widened at the story her instructor taught. "Haisun? Son of Amaterasu, dead?" 

Mariko nodded. "Spilt water does not return to the dish, great Goddess. No reason to blame yourself. It was Haisun's time," she looked about her. "Your Sorceress keeps a beautiful room." 

"How did you find me?" Samsara asked. 

"Quite simple. Word travels slow of the inactions of warriors. I went back to your Tribe and the Queen Regent informed me of your whereabouts. Their Elder and Imperial Guard returned from fighting with dark forces." She paused and looked back at Samsara. "I believe I returned at an important moment in your life." 

"An important moment in my life," Samsara scoffed. "Mother returns for a moment, my aunt leaves, Mama comes with a baby in her hands, and my Queen has gone on her quest. Not important at all." 

"Your tongue is as sharp as ever. Haisun had no reason to worry." 

"Haisun worried?" 

"He did. He was never sure if you could resolve Callisto as your mother--" 

"And Ares as my father?" 

Mariko stiffened. "My dear Goddess, there is much for you to learn. Please let me cradle the young one." 

Samsara blinked. She knew bad news was coming.



Upon reaching the docks, many of the Amazons began to feel restless. None of the Highlanders were particularly fond of splitting up the tribe for the journey home. 

Their Empress disappeared briefly to speak with the ship's captain. When she returned, the woman had a roster with her. Names were called out and each Amazon on the list was to board the ship. Complaints and protests were shared among those due to set sail. 

"I do not like this," the Highland Queen whispered to Jadea. 

"You needn't worry, my Sister. They will be safe," the woman assured her, confidence behind what she said. 

"How can you be so sure?" The Queen asked, reluctance and doubt causing her voice to waver. 

"I know the Captain," Jadea replied casually. 

As if cued, a tall dark-toned woman walked down the plank. She wore a smile on her face as her eyes expressively revealed her strong character. "Long time no see, Jade!" She called out and warmly clasped the woman's hand. 

Jadea nodded, a smile too on her face. "It's been too long, Nebula! I want to thank you-" 

The woman didn't let her finish, raising her hand as she stated, "Please, don't thank me! What are friends for?" 

The Empress gave a meaningful nod. She'd not have trusted just any one with transporting her Sisters back to the Isles. Nebula had a renowned reputation for being sea-wise, clever, and utterly dangerous to her enemies. She'd practically grown up on the ocean and never missed a good chance to sail. Generally, the woman was a cross between a merchant...and a pirate. She mixed a little in both trades, which accounted for her having enemies. Still, Nebula undoubtedly had the Amazon spirit within her - something Jadea'd recognized when first they met. 

Queen Dolphinea stepped to Jadea's side, a quiet and reserved look on her face. She was not to go with her Sisters on the ship. This made her uneasy as she never committed to abandoning them, which through her eyes, she was now about to do. 

Nebula saw the young woman and offered her hand. "And this must be the fearsome Amazon Queen I've heard so much about!" 

Jadea cleared her throat and shook her head slightly. She'd not told Nebula that Vorgeen had left; there had been no time. 

Dolphinea stood shaken and embarrassed. "You've mistaken me for Vorgeen." 

"Um, this is Queen Dolphinea. Vorgeen left her caste with Dolphinea. She'll be going with me and the rest," Jadea did her best to compensate for the innocent misunderstanding. She was aware of Dolphinea's self-doubt in her ability to fill Vorgeen's boots. The situation paralleled the one in Themiscyra. 

"I'm sorry," Nebula apologized. 

The Queen shook her head. " 'Tis alright, mah friend." 

The Captain cleared her throat quietly, her eyes moving back to Jadea. "I didn't expect this many, Jade." 

"Neither did I. Are you sure it's no trouble?" The Empress asked, beginning to have her doubts. 

If word circulated that a ship load of Amazon warriors was on the sea, Artemis only knows what could happen. Yet, the Highland Tribe had little choice if they wanted to return home. 

"Shouldn't be. I've made the trip before," Nebula commented in a slightly cocky tone. 

"Aye, well if anythin' happens-" 

"I'll send up a flare," Nebula chuckled and clasped the woman's arm again. Each nodded. 

"Safe journey, Captain. I'm entrusting you with precious cargo," Jadea smiled, though she was sincere in what she said. They Amazons were extremely precious to her. 

"Safe journey, Jade. The way I see it, we've got a smoother ride than you." 

The two then parted company. Dolphinea kept herself beside Jadea. The Queen had an awful feeling in the pit of her stomach. One of Vorgeen's lessons to her had been to never ignore your gut feelings, no matter how obscure or far-fetched they seem. 

As a favor to her friend, Jadea spared Nebula the endurance of Angus' presence. For her generosity, however, the Empress herself had to bear the brunt of his company. Until now, the Celt had kept a silent tongue. So contrary to his behavior was this, that a few of the Amazons had wondered if he was ill. Their Empress knew better. Angus could exercise profound patience when it served his purpose. 

Jadea escorted some twenty-five Amazons, excluding herself and Angus. From time to time, she broke away from the line to view other matters of the Amazon world. Whatever scenes she was privy to she kept to herself. Never before had the sorceress been so secretive with what she knew. 

"This doesn't feel right," Dolphinea said to herself, not knowing that Angus overheard. 

"I agree," he replied. The Queen jumped, turned around and raised her hand to slap him. She managed to refrain from following through on the impulse. 

"I wish ya wouldn't do that, Angus!" Her voice warned him coldly. 

"We're on the same side, Dolphi," Angus answered indifferently. He didn't understand why the Amazons were so quick to blame him. After all, he hadn't been the one to betray them. But to him, it seemed that he was forever punished in the place of the one who had. 

The Queen shot him a look. Soon, though, her mind returned to Jadea. The Empress was outwardly herself, but it was the little things which made her Sisters unnerved. 

When she returned, Jadea noted the tension in the air. She chose to believe that it was due to a deep desire to set foot upon Britannia once again. "All right, here's the plan. I will take two shifts. Corestarah, your clan will be the first so get them ready. Dolphinea, you and Angus will come with the second. I want you to remain hidden until I return for you. If any trouble arises, Angus you will contact Ardra. Understood?" 

"Aye," he answered quietly. Why must I stick behind? He asked himself, fearing that Jadea had a hidden agenda. Angus couldn't prove his fear had merit, though. That made him all the more agitated. 

"Good. Now let's move," the Empress stated crisply.  


Darkness covered the sky in thick layers. The first group of Amazons appeared on the northern shores of Britannia. They swiftly traveled inland where they found their horses already awaiting them. The forest was quiet when the band reached the hills marking their borders. A small circle of fire was spotted in the far distance. As they neared closer, another was seen across from the first. The torches gave some light to the gate watch.  

When their Sisters realized they'd returned, several shouts were given and the way was cleared for them to enter. Corestarah quickly gave the signal to Jadea that all was well. The latter then vanished to retrieve her remaining Highland Sisters.  

The use of her energy over such a long distance exhausted her greatly. She stumbled just as a strong hand caught hold of her arm and lifted her to her feet. Jadea looked up and saw Angus, a fretful look on his face. She'd seen the look before.   

"I'm fine, Angus. Where's Dolphinea?"  

I'm here, Empress, Jadea heard in her mind and looked to her left.  

The Highlanders crept out quietly a few at a time. They looked eager to leave, though no one said a word.   

"Everyone here?" Jadea asked just loud enough to be heard. She turned to Angus. "Go through and headcount. I want no one left behind."  

He nodded and soon returned. "We're all here," he said bluntly. The Celt felt for his dagger, keeping it concealed from Jadea.  


Vesper dawned upon the Highlands as Jadea appeared with the second group. Oddly, she seemed stronger when they reached shore this time.  

Queen Dolphinea was soon riding Dark Angel and leading the others on the worn path toward home. Jadea watched from a low hill top. A few moments of quiet counsel with the land and she trailed down the hillside.   

Without any warning, Angus dove from above her and forced her to the ground. A struggle ensued with Jadea feverishly fighting to overpower the Celt. Her effort was futile, however. He knew how she fought, her moves and her style. It was not long before Jadea was on her stomach, hands forcibly kept behind her, and a blade pressed against her throat.  

"What in Brighid's name are ya doin'?" She cried out angrily, her breathing fast as it came in gasps.  

"Savin' ya! What's it bloody look like?" Angus returned, driving his weight against her when she tried to kick him. Unable to concentrate, Jadea couldn't use her powers to get out of her predicament.  

"Ya don't want me to answer that! Get off me!" She shouted, fighting to get her hands loose. But Angus was no fool. He knew her hands could inflict as much pain as they could pleasure. Often more, actually.  

"Not until ya swear ya won't go after 'im!" Angus answered, delivering an ultimatum.  

"I don't know what ya're talkin' about! Get off me, now!" Her anger began to boil, flashes of the past racing across her mind's horizon.    

In his zealous plan to keep Jadea from doing what he suspected she planned to do, Angus failed to realize that the new Highland Queen had ridden back to investigate as to what hindered Jadea. Dolphinea quickly had a crossbow aimed at Angus.  

"Let her up, Angus!" She shouted, her aim true.  

His head looked up and saw the peril his life was in. While he may not have had it in him to kill Jadea, Dolphinea certainly had it in her to kill him. That much, he knew beyond any shadow of a doubt.  

Angus brought the dagger away from her neck and raised up off her. She groaned in pain and got to her feet. The man kept his eyes glued to Dolphinea, unsure if she'd still fire the arrow.  

Jadea shook her head, shaking her hair loose, and brushed off the dirt from her clothes. Her eyes gazed upon Dolphinea. The Queen's glare was steely and bore through Angus like a blade into butter. Attacking an Amazon was a serious offense.  

"Impeccable timin', my Queen!" Jadea shouted and began to walk towards her. "Let 'im go," she said about five steps from Dolphinea.  

"I can't do that, Jade. He tried to kill ya," The Highland Queen stated.  

Softly, Jadea placed her arm on Dolphinea's. "No...he didn't." The Queen brought her eyes from the man to Jadea. The latter repeated, "Let 'im go."  

Dolphinea ever so slightly nodded. Jadea walked ahead of her and took Dark Angel's reigns, awaiting her Queen.  

"Step foot on our lands, and ya'll die!" Dolphinea yelled down to Angus. He silently stared back at her, then watched her quickly turn and retreat to her horse. Jadea rode behind her. They returned to the Highlands within the hour.


Mischief and Mayhem

Family Quarrels


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