Thalia sighed, why now? She hadn't had a chance to talk to Garrett yet, who was recovering from his wounds. Where had he come from? How had he found her?

It was so long ago... many years before... yet it all came back to her like it was yesterday.

Garrett had rescued her, saved her life. As she was part of the Themiscryan tribe at the time, she would sneak out to see him, unsure if the Themiscryans would approve. He was so wonderful, always attuned to her feelings and he cared so much for her. Even her friend Reuben, a were-panther had said so.

She had been heartbroken when he was captured in battle by the Teleferon king. He had promised her it would be the last battle he would fight in, that he would be back for her. If only he knew.

She still had scars from the heartbreak, but had tried to put it behind her... until now. Had he escaped and come to find her? What was he doing in the Themiscryan territory?

She was shoved none-too-gently forward and resisted glaring at the Amazon. I could escape easily anytime I wanted to, she thought angrily. Lack of sleep was making her a bit angry, she had to catch herself as not to snap at her captors. Why was she so irritable? Must they lock her up like an enemy? Had she not done enough to prove her loyalty to the tribe? She resisted a few curses in a few different tongues.

They hadn't even really told her why they were locking her up, she wanted to know what was going on. What had they found? What was with the Celtic knot on her shoulder, did they know how it came to be? By Artemis, she deserved to know! Instead of being treated as one of Celosia's most trusted Amazons, she was being caged like a criminal.

If only she could talk to Garret, she could get some answers. Why had he come back? Did he have information about the Majie? Was he warning them or working with them? What was going on?

She sighed heavily, following the Amazons.


After days of tireless boundary walking, Antigone finally had a break. She grabbed some food and settled down to clean her weapons and think.

The suspicion was wearing on everyone. People were looking at each other out of the corners of their eyes. Antigone sat in an out of the way corner, cleaning her weapons and brooding. This paranoia was not good for the tribe. The simmering rivalries below the surface were coming up, and with an emergency like this to add weight to bad feelings, the outcome was likely to be bad even if the Amazons triumphed.

Antigone stopped and took a bite. Nah, she thought, I'm just getting depressed because I'm tired. Then she saw Thalia, bound, being led away, and her spirits dropped again. She dropped her things in the dust and ran up.

"Thalia! What's going on?"


"Keep away from the prisoner!" shouted one of the Guards. She looked tired and haggard, but she kept her arm on Thalia as she led her to the jail.

Antigone was surprised at the use of the word prisoner. It was Thalia after all.

"Don't worry about it Antigone. It's for the good of us all," Thalia said warily as she walked away. Antigone kept where she was, watching in disbelief. She saw the logic, but Thalia?

"Not like you aren't under some kind of suspicion, too," said another Amazon behind her. Antigone turned around. "You see, if Thalia's under suspicion, and Thalia's been here much longer than you have, then why not think of you as having something to do with it?"

"I have more respect than to poison one of those who graciously took me in," Antigone responded, bristling. She wished now she hadn’t left her weapon in the dust.

Meanwhile, in the Council Hut...

Jadea told the council everything she knew . . . all over again. She was not happy to tell anything to this Chief Elder, but she did as she must. Once she was through, the Chief Elder of the Pentad turned to the Princess-Heiress.

"So you can find these Majie."

"Perhaps," Samsara felt strange. She hadn't had anything to drink since Caoilinn had brought her back. Her body wasn't cleansed of whatever it was she had. She ignored the sensations in her head. "I need to channel the power in my staff and Callisto's sword to do it."

"And what do you expect us to do when we find out where they are?" Celosia said.

"We gather our forces and attack. We can't allow Amazon assassins to survive in our forests," Serena responded.

"If they want one person, then that is precisely what they want us to do," Samara answered. "Maybe we should hold back." She didn't particularly want to meet the Warrior Princess -- after all, she killed Callisto -- but she wanted to wait until she could get her input on the situation.

Aletha looked at Samsara with suspicion. The Themiscryan Elder's look did nothing to assuage the sensations in Samsara's head. "You don't think I poisoned Seriana, do you?" she hissed at the older woman. "She is my blood sister! I would never..."

"You did kill your sister and strip your father of his mantle," reminded Despina.

Samsara laughed. "This is interesting - very interesting. Serena, I don't believe you need me in this meeting any longer," she stood up. She unsheathed Callisto's sword. The Imperial Guard stood at the ready, protecting the smug elder. The Goddess slammed the blade down into the ground next to her aunt. "Jadea, here's Mother's sword. Vote my conscience."

She started for the door when Dolphinea stood up. "Samsara, you're interim High Guard . . ."

"No, Dolphinea, it's all right. It's quite all right. You make your decision and you find me. I'll be on the training grounds with my own weapons," Samsara stepped out and slammed the door behind her.

She reached the training grounds and heard the grunts of an Amazon working with a dagger. Samsara smiled.

I suppose I'm not the only one with issues, she thought to herself. She rounded the corner, holding a bow and arrow and all her weapons. She guffawed when she saw who it was.

Medea turned around, her steel gaze boring into the Teloan. "Well, if it isn't the esteemed High Prickness of Teloq."

Samsara laughed. "Nice. Nice."

"So what's going on in there, huh? You looked real smug when I was denied access. Maybe you're holding a secret yourself."

"What, you accusing me of poisoning my blood sister?"

"You were Ares' right hand bitch for a while," Medea smiled at her retort.

"Suppose it takes one to know one," Samsara responded, eyeing her through slit eyes.

Medea flipped her dagger in her hand. "Why don't you go to your own training grounds, Teloan?"

"I live here. Don't forget that Regent. I would never poison an Amazon, let alone my own sister Seriana."

"I heard you have a vendetta against Xena," Medea crossed her arms. "You know how important she is to her."

"You know what, you're just full of it. You think she owes you for saving her life in the cave. You decide to teach her a lesson for disobeying you, so you poison her water--"

"She wasn't the only one who got poisoned! Dolphinea, remember? You sent her back!" She pointed at Samsara to stress her point. "Why would I poison everyone's water supply to get to one person?"

"Because it throws suspicion off of you. There’s no stealthy breaking and entering in the middle of the night and no accounting for missing time. It's perfect."

"It's not something I would do. However, you would go to any lengths to get what you want, Sadistic-Psycho."

"It's not something I do. Besides, you said it was some kind of black magic that caused this. I don't know any. How about you? Your mentor's a witch, isn't she?"

"She knows no black magic and would never use it. Neither do I," The Regent's voice was strained.

"Exactly my point. I don't either. So you see, Medea, I don't suspect you and you shouldn't suspect me."

"How do you know Jadea had nothing to do with it?"

The remark was scathing. Samsara shook her head and laughed. Then she turned and stalked away without another word.

"Medea: one. Samsara: zero," the Regent said quietly as she watched her rival leave.


She set the bow and quiver down gently, although she wanted more than anything else to slam the delicate weapon down. "That Regent," she grumbled. "That Medea..." She grit her teeth against saying anything more. The walls have ears, she thought.

She exited the weapons hut and headed toward the Med hut. She wanted to see her sister. The strange sensations continued in her head. She tried to ignore them, but she knew it was in vain. She would have to deal with it sometime. The smile played on her face still, and she kept her eyes averted to avoid suspicion.

But averting her eyes did quite the opposite. Samsara was known to look directly into someone's eyes when she spoke to or passed them. She did this even before she won the respect of her fellow Themiscryans.

She hurried along her way and stopped at a well to drink some water. She glanced over to Celosia's hut. The meeting continued on. Apollo was sending hints of his impending rise, the midnight sky turning a dark violet and indigo.

Samsara drank a ladle of water and wiped her lips with the back of her hand.

Entering the Med hut, she went directly for her sister and knelt by her. The effect that the cleansed water had on Dolphinea did nothing for Seriana. She was still unconscious and breathing quietly. Samsara placed a palm on her sister's forehead and vowed:

"When I found out who did this . . . I swear by my staff, I will avenge you."

Seriana shifted in her position. Samsara was startled. She moved! Her eyes fluttered slightly.

Xanthea had stepped out when Samsara entered. She knew that Samsara had nothing to do with what had happened and she left her in privacy with her blood sister.

Samsara looked at Seriana. "Ser. Ser, are you all right?" she whispered.

Seriana didn't respond.

The Goddess concentrated. With considerable effort, she entered her sister's mind.

Fog rose from the shapeless ground and wafted up and around her. Samsara's black outfit was still intact. She walked to a looking glass that stood on its own and looked at herself. Her eyes, which were entirely as black as night, were back to their original chocolate brown. Her hind's blood pendant was gone.

Alarmed, she turned to observe her surroundings. Out from the shadows stepped a figure. The person was still cloaked in silhouette. "Who are you? Why are you here?"

"You have a relation to a sorceress."

Annoyed that he didn't answer her question, she demanded, "What are you doing in Seriana’s dreamscape?"

"A Goddess, yet your powers have no prowess in this realm."

She threw a fireball at the figure, but it dissipated.

"Now you believe me."

"What do you want?" she demanded.

"You are beautiful. Just like the others."

"Answer me!" she demanded.

The figure turned and walked into the fog again. Samsara took after him and as soon as she was in the fallen cloud, she found herself in a cave with many passages.

She knew where to go.

Waking, she stood up from her position next to Seriana's pallet. Feel better, dear sister. I swear by my staff . . . And at that she walked out. She signaled for Xanthea to go back.

"Where are you going?" the Healer queried.

"Tell them that I'll be back soon!"

Prince snorted as soon as she reached him. She untied the reigns of his bit and mounted him. He reared and headed straight for the gates.

The disturbance was barely audible inside the council hut, but Jadea sensed what was happening. The meeting needs to be wrapped up now, she thought. She addressed the council.

The Guards opened the gates as soon as Samsara reached them. She galloped away just as the sun rose.

Apollo, I would thank you for another glorious sunrise, she thought, but I have other matters to attend to.


She continued on her path, leaving subtle marks that only Jadea would recognize. She reached the cave in Seriana's dreamscape and dismounted Prince. He trotted off to hiding, as he knew how to do, and she entered the cavern.

"Just as I thought," she whispered. The floor sloped down and stalagmites and stalactites were scattered across the scene. She walked carefully through until she reached a set of tunnels. She turned around. The only light that shone seemed to be from above, but noting the time of day, the intensity of the light was unnerving. She drew her sword as a precaution and twirled it around. I'm ready.

She wasn't sure what she was going to do once she found these Majie. In fact, she knew it to be downright foolish to be in there by herself. It was almost as if she were disobeying a direct order from Serena. But she cared little for the Chief Teloan Elder and her demands.

She chose a tunnel and walked right through. She scanned the darkness for traps. There were none, but she proceeded with caution. My powers my not have any realm in my sister's dreamscape, but you have no idea what a vengeful daughter of War can do.

She continued until she was in what seemed to be a room. Her night vision was extremely acute. Suddenly, light broke the darkness as dozens of candles and torches started to burn. She whirled around.

Samsara was trapped.

She threw her head back and closed her eyes. Nothing happened. She concentrated again.

"Ares' powers will do you no good, dear Goddess Amazon."

The words echoed in the room.

She looked ahead of her. There was an altar and behind it what seemed to be hundreds of candles were slowly coming to life. She looked up and gasped.

Seriana was hanging face down, tied by the wrists, ankles, and waist. Her body remained rigid as if she were on a board. Her face was blotched and bloated. The blood had rushed down and was beginning to settle. It was the only bit of flesh Samsara could see, as Seriana was still in her black leather outfit.

Samsara cried out for her sister. Seeing her sister suffer only made her suffer. "Ser!"

"Don't think you will be able to do anything," the voice boomed. "Anything you do that is not in accordance to what we want will only endanger her and your fellow sisters."

Had Kaia been around to see this turn of events, she would laugh. She always called her older sister weak for her warrior code and loyalty to others. Samsara believed it to be strength.

"What do you want from us? Why are you after us?" she demanded. She thumbed her right ear and slowly pulled off the phoenix feather. It was her rite of caste, a sign of her nobility and position. Should a Teloan find it without her, she would know it to be a trap. She slowly pulled off the jewelry and dropped it onto the ground.

"It's not your place to reason why..."

She was trapped. Now what?


Get out! Came a plea from inside Samsara's head. She looked around, expecting to be attacked again, but saw only Seriana's dream-body.


Yes. Don't look at me! They'll notice. Look away.

Samsara quickly did so. It was no hardship: at the sight of her crushed and crumpled sister she wanted to be sick.

Hurry up and get out of here before you're trapped, too.

Seri, you should know me better than that. I'm not leaving you here.

I'm the oldest and I say you scram. I'm okay. I just need time to work through the poison. I'm trying to take its magic and use as much as I can so there's less to hurt my body. I'm getting better. I know I look gross, but I'm getting better.

You'd get better a lot faster if I could get you somewhere safe in your dreamscape.

Yes, but then you'd be dead. See the problem?

"Now, Samsara, you will listen and obey," said the other voice, its excessive volume horribly rude in somewhere so sacred as a dreamscape.

Move it! Seri ordered.

Stick it in your eye, Big Sister, Samsara shot back.

Sami, PLEASE! If for no other reason than my honor! I am ashamed that anyone sees me as I am now. Please go!


She dropped her head knowing precisely what Seriana meant. Honor is an important thing to an Amazon, and even if she were to be stripped of everything, she would never feel naked so long as she had her honor, her dignity.

There's got to be some way out of here, she mused. She figured that the way she came in would be off limits.

FOR THE LAST TIME! It was Seriana again.

Impatient for a big sister, you know, the younger responded. Hold on, I'm leaving in just a second. She knew she wouldn't need to leave her rite of caste if she weren't sticking around. She knelt down to pick up her earring, but it disappeared into the darkness.

She knew it was a trap. She backed away slowly.

"That's right, Goddess Kakistos," the voice boomed. "Back right away and we won't kill your sister."

"We. Right." She sheathed her sword and placed her hand on the hilt of Ares' sword. "You don't realize with whom you're dealing, Majie. You know I will be back if so much as a hair is harmed on her." Seri, you know I'll be back, she vowed. I will avenge you.

I'm not dead yet, she responded in her usual banter.

Samsara couldn't help but smile. She knew she'd be all right. It was all a matter of being rescued. She turned and sprinted out, mounting Prince as soon as she saw him. He galloped with her back to camp.

The sun had been up for nary more than two candlemarks. As she rode in through the gates, Samsara dismounted. The Queens, the Chief Elder, Dolphinea, and Jadea walked out of the Council Hut as if on cue, followed and preceded by the Teloan Imperial Guard. When Jadea was within earshot of Samsara, she called for her in the way blood relatives signal for each other.

The Sorceress Empress broke from the group. "Where were you?" she demanded.

"Seriana's trapped in her dreamscape," she explained. "I went to investigate."

Jadea peered at her. "Are you sure?"

"Of course, I'm sure!" Samsara hissed. "When have you ever doubted me before?"

"Show yourself!" cried an Imperial Guard. She held a bow and arrow at the ready. She caused such a ruckus that Samsara had no choice but to comply.

"Hippoppih, what are you doing? I trained you!" Samsara cried.

Hippoppih meant business. "I learned from the best. Now step away from her."

Samsara did as told. Prince bolted as soon as things got hot. If anything, he wanted them to lead the others to Seriana. He knew there was trouble.

Serena and the council walked over. "What is the meaning of this?" Serena demanded. "Who are you?"

Samsara was incredulous. "Who am I? I am your Princess-Heiress, Serena."

She scoffed. "You seem to have her attitude. You are almost dressed the part. Except for one thing: if you are the Princess-Heiress, where is your rite of caste?" By then the other Imperial Guards surrounded the Goddess with their spears and bows.

Samsara touched her right ear. Her phoenix feather! She sighed heavily. Dali, she cursed.

Medea walked toward them from the training grounds. It was obvious the Regent still had not slept. She still appeared haggard and there were dark circles under her eyes. Still she smiled at the situation. I wonder what she's in for.

"My rite of caste..." Samsara whispered.

"I recommend that you lock up this intruder. How did she get through our borders this easily?" Serena decried. The Imperial Guard took hold of her and stripped her of her weapons.

"Jadea..." Samsara said. "Jadea, come on, you have to tell them it's me..."

"We can't trust anyone," Jadea's simple response was surprising to her niece.

You know it's me, Samsara sent. There was no answer.

"I'm sick of this. I don't have to take it!" Samsara cried.

If it's really you, it was Jadea, then you'll obey.

They took her to the jail.


Antigone had had enough. A fake High Princess? She asked herself with sarcasm, right.

The paranoia was destroying the camp. The unseen enemies only had to wait, and their work would be done. It was time to take matters into her own hands.

She waited a while until the guards were relaxed, then distracted them by shooing some pheasants behind the jail. When they looked around the corner at the sudden appearance of the raucous birds, she slipped inside.

"Samsara!" she hissed. "I don't have much time. What needs to be done?"


Samsara was both pleased and utterly stunned at Antigone's sudden actions. The Amazon had always appeared more peaceful compared to some of the others. She was someone who would kill or fight only when lives were on the line, or if food needed to be had for the survival of the tribe. Still, the Goddess Kakistos recovered enough to respond.

"Jadea. Go to her and ask her for Callisto's sword. She'll demand an explanation. Tell her that no daughter of Callisto will leave her blood sister behind to die. If that doesn't convince her, nothing will."

Antigone nodded, willing to go with any plan that held more logic than this ill-spread paranoid evil that infected the Amazons. As she left, Samsara found a safe hiding place in the back shadows of her cell.

Damn it! I knew I should've left when Seri first told me too! She began chiding herself and cussing silently about her timing. She should have retrieved her caste sooner; should've done something, anything, to help Seri. At the very least, I could've been a hell of a lot more bitchy with that - whoever he was!

When the Amazon huntress reached Jadea, she saw that the Sorceress Empress had replaced the sword in her possession. Evidently, Samsara's little gesture with her Mother's sword at the meeting had left Jadea in a flustered state. On one hand, she understood her Niece better than Elder Serena. This part of her sympathized with Samsara and desired to aid her in an endeavor of their own to save Seriana and defeat the Majie. An implausible idea, but a strong feeling nonetheless. On the other hand, Jadea was angry.

Angus spoke with Garret for the duration of this. Some "male bonding" did the both of them a little good. Thalia's beloved had suffered severe wounds, but all were healing. Meanwhile, the two men discovered a great deal about each other. Not the least, of which, were some similarities - particularly concerning Amazons.

Yet still, when Antigone approached Jadea, the latter seemed to listen. And when the Amazon relayed Samsara's message in exact wording? "I knew it was her. I could feel it. Not even the strongest magic can alter that. But we've decided that the direct approach would be the worst in this case."

The Sorceress Empress paused, surprised that she'd come near to telling Antigone what had happened at the meeting. Somehow, the Amazon left a strange impression on her that she couldn't define in any terms. Jadea trusted Antigone, and felt a kinship that at times led her to feel as though she were too much at ease. Her silence was brief but heavy. Antigone came close to interrupting it with a plea, but she didn't get the chance.

Jadea laid her hand on the Amazon and they both disappeared. She drew her sword and offered it to Antigone. This was something she'd never done before. Callisto's sword had only ever been in the possession of three people - herself, her sister Jadea, and her daughter Samsara. Something pricked at Jadea's mind when Antigone took the blade from her. She knew it was her instinct of protectiveness. It could be overbearing at times, she found.

"Let no one see you with this, and deliver it to Samsara's hands alone. It's not like any other blade, nor that of any of the Amazons. And it's relatively easy to recognize, so be careful. Tell my niece that she can only use it to free Seriana."

The Amazon nodded and slightly bowed her head. "Thank you, Sorceress Empress. I shall return soon after my task is done."


Thalia sighed heavily as she paced back and forth in the jail. She felt the bonds between the Amazons growing weaker by the hour, and with it she became slightly weaker. She drew much of her strength from the bond between the Amazons, but with all the mistrust going around, that bond was severely damaged.

She shook her head. All this blaming of one another, all this mistrust ... when would it all end? By caging their allies they would set themselves up with broken links and weaknesses in the tribe.

This has to be the Majie's plan, she thought to herself. Divide and conquer. They WANT the Amazons to distrust each other, to think they have enemy among them. If the bond between the Amazons is broken, if they cannot work together, then they are easily defeated.

United as one, Amazons are unstoppable. Divided - they are doomed.

She had to talk to Celosia about this.



"Yes?" Maylee turned around to see Queen Celosia.

"You have next guard duty at the jail."

"Yes, Queen Celosia," Maylee took her staff and headed towards the jail where the two captives waited.


Jadea sent Antigone back. The Huntress slipped into the jail again, as stealthily as ever.

Samsara stepped out of the shadow of her cage. Before the Goddess could open her mouth, the huntress spoke quickly and quietly. "She said that you can only use this to free Seriana."

Succinct. Samsara nodded slightly. "Tell her--"

"I know. I want to tell you--"

"She knew it was me. Yes," she took the sword and scabbard from Antigone, smiling slightly, not from the sensations in her head, but from tacit sisterhood. Antigone was one of perhaps two in this situation that trusted Samsara. Jadea was the other. The Goddess was grateful.

Maybe it's time? She thought about Ares and Kaia. "My weapons..."

"Are out back. I retrieved them . . ."

"From the weapons hut," Samsara finished, smiling visibly this time. She easily stepped through the bars using her godly powers. Slipping the scabbard on, she took Antigone's forearm, then hugged her. "Send my aunt..."

"Your love. I will." They separated and Samsara slipped out of the jail. She took her other weapons: her own sword, Ares' mantle, her staff, and various daggers. She slipped up and over the wall and into the shrubs, then climbed up into the trees.

Thankfully, the sensations in her head were ceasing. It was just a matter of time for the cleansed water to take effect on her.

It was midday and Samsara had three agendas, the top priority being her sister. She was unsure whether getting her rite of caste was above killing these Majie or not, but something told her that there was something more sinister behind these Amazon killers that needed to be studied.

Not that the Princess-Heiress cared to study these men. She wanted them defeated, be it by death by her swords, or otherwise. Then she would attend to the matter of this Garrett person.

Men she muttered. ALWAYS causing trouble. She hoped that Jadea convinced the emergency council to do something . . .

…Constructive. She stopped.

A movement in the bushes below her current position caught her eye. She tensed and drew one of her daggers for a quick throw at the possible enemy. When the foliage parted, she saw instead that it was Swift Blazer. The Amazon was hiding in the bushes with her weapon, ready to attack any intruder.

Samsara sheathed her blade and dropped down behind Swift Blazer. "Easy, girl!" She said as the Amazon whirled to attack. After a short conversation, Samsara assuaged her fears.

"When I heard this Serena person was looking for me, I decided it was time to go do something, anything, else," Swift Blazer said. "I’ve been avoiding the patrols and Valkyra ever since."

The Goddess chuckled. "The Chief Elder of Teloq has that effect on people. Go on back. You don't know anything, I know that now. I made a stupid connection since this all started happening around the time you showed up," if the Goddess could turn red, she would have right then. She felt ashamed for having doubted and suspected the Celt.

Swift Blazer took her forearm. "Sisters."

"Sisters. Now get back to camp before they get a lynch mob together."

Swift Blazer did as told, and Samsara decided it was time to cut down on time by teleporting to the mouth of the cave. Prince trotted out and snorted at her.

"Anything, big guy?" she asked, stroking his nose. Upon realizing that nothing new had occurred, she rushed into the cavern.

She had to free her sister whether Seriana liked it or not.


Meanwhile, Jadea set out to visit her sister, Thalia, in the prison. She declared her intention to Serena, Celosia, and Vorgeen when she returned to them from her caucus with Antigone. The Highland Queen merely shot her a warning glance that displayed her belief for Jadea to be cautious. Celosia, trusting her Amazons more than Elder Serena of the Teloq, gave a slight nod of recognition.

Serena, however, had this to say. "Do as you like, but if I should find the Themiscyran Head Scout missing suddenly - I'll know who to look to for an explanation."

Something inside the Sorceress Empress churned violently at Serena's tone and choice of words. Her anger, which she'd managed to keep in check for the most part, was starting to get the better of her. And Jadea was unsure just how long she'd be able to keep her cool. She held respect for Serena, but at the same time held limits to how far she'd trust the Teloan Amazon Elder.

Despite the obvious friction and restrained protest, no one stopped her from visiting Thalia. Even if they'd had the order, her eyes were wildly vibrant, an indicator of her current frame of mind.

She walked across the camp and toward the well. Medea crossed the camp and came up to her as though she'd planned her timing.

"Well, now...if it isn't the Amazon Empire's very own Sorceress Empress."

I wonder if there's any way I can get out of this without knocking her out. Jadea smiled sweetly, preparing for the engagement. "That's right. And if you don't want to feel the wrath of the mighty 'Amazon Empire's Sorceress Empress', you'll leave my nieces alone."

About that time, Angus exited the guest hut where Garret was housed. For the present time, the man was being guarded with four Amazons, but he wasn't denied food, water, or healing treatment for his wounds. The stranger seemed the least of Celosia's concerns. And in her mind, so long as he was sufficiently looked after and watched...he posed little threat. Besides, she intended to question him when he felt up to it.

Now, Angus, being the mischievous man that he was...felt it his duty to somehow "rescue" Jadea from Medea's company - and at the same time, maybe rile the Regent. He never got the chance.

Get your arse out of here unless you want an Amazon Regent to tear it apart, Angus, Jadea warned him off. Her tone was unusually biting, and he took the hint.

"I know it was you who poisoned Seriana!" Medea yelled and drew her sword.

The Sorceress Empress smirked. She realized what had sparked Medea's temper this time, and that gave her a way out of it. Celosia hadn't stood up for her when Serena commanded who was to attend the meeting and who wasn't. Medea felt responsible for Seri's condition even though she hadn't poisoned her. And that made her even madder.

"Queen Celosia, Queen Vorgeen, and Elder Serena are in the command tent as we speak. At my suggestion and then by a vote, Celosia and Vorgeen have decided to bring you into the loop," Jadea remarked, trying ever so much not to sound triumphant.

Her response caught Medea off guard, and the Regent didn't know how to react. She lowered her sword and after a few moments, she looked at Jadea. "Why?" Was the only word she said.

"I told them of the suspicion you were under. I also told them there wasn't any way you could've poisoned Seriana. Your sister, Celosia, is smart. She knows you have more powers than you realize."

She also knows that Tern and Pelee have their own agenda for your power, Jadea thought to herself. She bit her tongue to keep it from being spoken aloud. "Celosia knows that you'd never use those powers against the Amazons, although, you might wreak havoc on the men of this world. Still...your sister believes in you. And so do I." Again, Medea wasn't ready for this turn of words or events.

Unknown to the Regent, Tern watched from the dark side of one of the huts. She didn't trust Jadea. Jadea seemed to know too much, and didn't appear eager to reveal what she knew or admit what she didn't know.

At last, Medea sheathed her sword, still looking at the Sorceress Empress. As though she expected something was still left to be said or done before she'd leave.

Jadea, whose intention remained to see Thalia, decided to take the initiative. "They're waiting for you to join them," she commented, and Medea gave a slight nod.

"Let them wait. Why aren't you going?"

"I have someone to see."

Medea's eyebrow raised in suspicion. "You're not going to disappear again, are you?"

Jadea smiled but shook her head. "Not this time."

The Themiscyran Regent nodded again, her foot turning to walk away.

"Oh, and Medea?"

The Regent turned around. "Yeah."

"In the past, I have had dealings with black magic. But I can tell you this much. I'd never have used my powers on the Amazons."

A sudden wave of embarrassment rushed over Medea. By Artemis, she knows! She thought regarding her earlier confrontation with Samsara.

Indeed, Jadea did know. She'd heard them when she was still in counsel with the others. In fact, Jadea had risen out of her seat with a strange expression on her face. Vorgeen questioned her, but she sat back down and shook her head, then nodded for the speaker to continue.

"Why?" Celosia's sister managed to ask.

"Because black magic can't kill Amazons. It can only make them suffer, only delay. And I belong to the Amazons. As do you. At times, we've killed our own. But rare is it that an Amazon makes another of hers suffer."

Several moments passed, and the two looked at each other. At last, Medea came to understand what she meant. Unfortunately for Jadea, Tern and Pelee weren't too pleased with the development.

The Regent shot a faint smile and nod, both were returned to her. Medea headed for the command tent, and Jadea the prison.


Prince snorted and shook his head. Whatever lay inside the cave was well hidden. Until you entered so far and then saw it was too late. It didn’t deter Samsara.

The Goddess of Destruction took her staff and left her Mother's blade sheathed. She wasn't sure how to use Callisto's sword in the way Jadea alluded to, but she knew her staff quite well.

Back in Themiscyra...

"Well, nice of you to join us at last, Medea," Serena remarked acridly.

"That's Regent Medea to you, Teloan Elder," Medea returned sharply.

Vorgeen stood up. She'd had enough of this. "All right, both of ya! Regent, would ya please sit down?" Vorgeen asked. Something in her tone struck Medea as both authoritative and pleading. It led her to comply without further insult. Vorgeen then turned to Serena. "Elder Serena, would you please keep in mind who the enemy is? I guarantee that as long as we attack each other, our real enemies are going to devour us."

Serena, who was unused to being reprimanded, suddenly felt humbled. She realized that despite her power and position, she was in Themiscyra lands. Also, she was dealing with a common enemy that they all shared. To go after each other gave that enemy a huge advantage. If Serena loathed Samsara or even Medea, she loathed the idea of an opponent, any opponent, attempting to destroy the Amazons even more.

Elsewhere in camp...

Jadea walked up and found Themiscyra’s newest sister, Maylee, outside the prison. Maylee held up her staff and blocked Jadea.

"Relax. I want to see Thalia," she refrained from terming her sister "prisoner."

Maylee shook her head. "I'm sorry, but orders are that no one goes in or out."

Tsk, tsk, tsk... Jadea thought and then gave a sigh. She'll learn soon enough. "Either you let me pass now, or I'll make toothpicks out of your staff."


Maylee's eyes glittered with unwavering strength. She'd observed very little of Jadea, for she'd not been able to observe very much for very long. She stood firmly in the path of the Sorceress Empress.

Something in her manner, something in her eyes made Jadea curve her lips into a smile and laugh. "Very impressive. There aren't enough Amazons in this camp to count on two hands who would do that."

The Amazon guard wasn't too amused. But Jadea's seemingly sudden change in mood was a surprise. Jadea took a step forward, but again Maylee blocked her.

"I have royal permission, Amazon."

"Prove your word and you may pass," Maylee returned.

Jadea rolled her eyes. Without any warning, she spun around on her heel and kicked Maylee who barely deflected in time with her staff. Without her sword, Jadea had but her three daggers on her to use. They weren't an option since she didn't mean the Amazon real harm. The only other choice was her powers, and that seemed wasteful given the bad situation the Amazons were in.

"You're very good," Jadea commented, noting that for a relatively young woman this Maylee was pretty skilled. She then took a slight step to her right that Maylee was quick to follow, and sharply brought her left leg up and around. Her heel made contact with the Amazon's hand and caused the Amazon to drop her staff.

"And you're very quick. But here's a short, useful lesson," Jadea remarked and noticed that while she still felt some amusement, Maylee had taken the mock attack seriously. Her face showed this even when Jadea spoke. But her expression would change with the next spoken words. "When you're fighting someone, keep eye contact as much as you can. That's how you anticipate their next move. It's also how to read if they intend to kill you or just get past you."

The Amazon guard finally gave a smile. She had to, because she'd just realized she'd been played. Perhaps she'd been too hasty before. But she could've sworn that Jadea had read her mind and found some things there that she didn't want known.

Stop it. You're being ridiculous. She just wants to see Thalia. She has no stop being paranoid before you really get hurt. Her mind begged with her to stop acting so rigid. Yes, things were tense. Yes, someone was after the Amazons. Yes, a lot of questions were still unanswered and yes there was a lot of danger. But that was no excuse for losing it.

Thalia? Jadea sent to her Sister on the other side. She wondered if Thalia was still strong enough to hear her.

Jade, is that you making that ruckus out there?

The Sorceress Empress suppressed her laughter. Thalia always could lighten the mood, even in the darkest times. Thing was, she often didn't even try. Just came naturally to her.

I'm coming in, Jadea answered.

Maylee reluctantly stepped aside, knowing that if the Amazon Sorceress had really wanted she could have blasted her way through to get to Thalia.

When Jadea entered she saw Thalia sitting down with her knees up to her and her arms around them. Her head was up but she looked tired.

Jadea walked up to her and laid her hand upon her sister. A light surrounded the Head Scout and soon all traces of physical exhaustion were gone. Now all that remained was the weariness of her mind and spirit. The Sorceress Empress sat down beside her.

"So, talk to me. What is this 'sign' I've been hearing of all about?"

Thalia shot her a confused glance. She knew that Jadea had met with Celosia and Serena and Vorgeen. She’d been present in the Council Hut as she’d been taken away. "Didn't they tell you?" She asked curiously.

"I heard what they know and their side of it. I want yours, now," she answered softly, but her eyes held strength to them.

Thalia drew off of that. She felt a sudden rush of energy and found what she needed to explain.

In the Themiscyran Council Hut...

"So, that's the plan." Vorgeen stated simply. Oddly, the Regent hadn't interrupted much while the others filled her in on things.

To some degree, she was still stunned that she was there listening to all of it. She'd been livid before and in her mind with good reason. Now, though...her fury had found a more deserving target. The Majie. She didn't care who they were or what they wanted. She wanted them wiped out of existence.

The Highland Queen exchanged looks with Serena and Queen Celosia. The three weren't sure what kind of reaction they'd get, but right now they weren't getting much of one at all.

Finally, Medea spoke. "Why would they want Xena?"

Again, meaningful looks were passed among them. When someone answered, it was Serena. A peculiar choice, given that she didn't like Medea and the Regent felt the same.

"We think they want Xena because she is the only Amazon that every Amazon would rally behind. Queen Gabrielle isn't in the running because of the split Velasca made and has left behind. Some Amazons are still sore about that one."

Vorgeen ventured to add her own thoughts. "Also, Xena has dealt with Amazon assassins before. She's the only one we know of who's killed 'em before."

Medea started seeing the sense in an otherwise senseless situation. She still, however, suspected Jadea. She just didn't know of what.

Celosia looked at her sister. She's calm, for once. Well, calmer I should say. Medea is seldom calm. I wonder what happened to change her mood. She''s like she's focused. This plan could work after all. I still need to talk to Valkyra. Oh, and there's still that Garrett to deal with. I can't put that off much longer. He could be dangerous.

Medea stood up and stretched her hand out. "All right. Let's do some damage."

Serena was taken off her guard by Medea's enthusiasm. But she rose to her feet with Celosia and Vorgeen. All stretched out their hands.

"For all Amazons...and for Seriana," Medea pledged.

"For all Amazons," the other three repeated.

The oath was sealed. All that was left was to gather some more information on the enemy, much of which they'd already gathered. Then it would be show time.

Little did the Amazon leaders know that Samsara was in the middle of a rescue mission for Seriana. They also didn’t know that the traitor Jadea had been warned of was still in their village. The hidden secrets wouldn't remain hidden for long. All in all, the enemy was still a few steps ahead.

That's when something resembling a random stroke of luck occurred. Ardra's voice entered both Jadea's and Thalia's minds. You'll never believe who I found pummeling a small detachment of Roman recruits. That's right, Amazons! If you guessed the Warrior Princess, you've just won our secret weapon lottery ticket.

Obviously, the long flight and search had made a mark on the hawk. She was tired and feeling quite "batty." The two sitting Amazons in the "prison" chuckled. The news was a relief in the pit of despair they seemed to have fallen into.

Now ask me where she is. Go on, ask me! Ardra urged.

All right, where is she? Jadea sent back to her guardian hawk.

I have no idea! She sent a message back with me, but I didn't have time to read it before the thing became a part of my leg. So, who do I drop this thing off to, anyway?


Meanwhile, Samsara was back in that hole in the ground, still in possession of her many weapons. What would be a burden for any mortal, this immortal took in stride.

The drip drop of water filled the walls of the cave. It was the only sound audible, for Samsara learned well from her guardian Ishtar the ways of successful stalking. She considered tying up her hair again, but that was for another day.

The effects of the poison were wearing off her. She was relieved. Now it was time to show these Majie who's boss.

She entered the tunnel leading to the room where Seriana was held captive. The torches and candles were still on. She looked on the stone floor and saw her phoenix feather in the same place she left it.

Her rite of caste overshadowed any foresight she gained. She reached down and picked up the earring, hooking it into her earlobe again. She stood up and as she did she saw the cloak of the voice that had boomed earlier.

"Well, well, look who it is again," the figure said. But his lips did not move. In fact, it was very much like the figure that visited her on Solstice eve. She shook off the reference. She had since dismissed the "warning" as a trick of her conscience.

She laughed at the Majie's comment. "Yes, I'm back." She thought of drawing her mother's sword, but knew she couldn't touch the assassins with it. Instead she attempted to slam her forearm into his chest.

But when she did, he simply put up a hand and deflected the blow without so much as a flinch.

She grunted. She jumped up and tried to kick his head back with her right leg, but to no avail.

Same trick.

"When will you learn, Goddess Amazon, Niece of the Sorceress Empress? You're powers are of no use here, although they are of use to us."

She tried to punch him with a left cross hook.


"I am a daughter of WAR, Majie. You don't know what you're dealing with," Samsara responded.

The Majie laughed heartily, but his figure still remained still. This angered her to the extreme.

I'm here to get my Sister, not to deal with this loser, she reminded herself. She straightened, then suddenly jumped up high into the air where Seriana was. As if she were suspended in the air, she cut away at the ties that held her sister up using Callisto's sword. She held fast to Seriana before she fell hard onto the ground and landed safely on the ground before the Majie. She noted that the girl was partially translucent. The only way she would get better was if she were to be reunited with her physical body.

"Like I said, you don't know who you're dealing with," she repeated.

The Majie just stood where he was. Suddenly, the scene changed. Instead of an altar, behind him appeared what seemed to be dozens of Majie warriors, all dressed in black cloaks.

If anything had ever struck fear deep in Samsara's heart, this was it. She had never had such a sinister feeling before, even with her dealings with Ares. She cradled her sister in her arms as her midnight eyes opened wide. She backed away slowly and as soon as she was around the corner, she turned and sprinted away. Her first priority was getting her sister out.

As soon as she stepped into the mid-afternoon wilderness, she whistled violently for Prince. He matched her urgency with thunderous hooves. She couldn't quite sling the unconscious Seriana over her shoulder because of the swords she carried, so she threw the semi-opaque body on her horse's saddle slipped her staff in its catch and told him to go.

Was it the best idea? She had no choice. They were coming and she couldn't quite find the best way to put her sister on her and gallop away. She couldn't teleport -- Seriana was half-mortal. She had to cover her face and send a note with Prince in hopes that Xanthea or Celosia would see it. Seriana would be angry that others saw her blotched and bloated face, but the younger had no choice.

She scaled the treetops to follow her horse and keep the Majie at bay. She was taking a great risk bringing them so close to Themiscyran borders, but she knew three things:

One: There was a traitor, someone masked as an Amazon there. And who she was would be a shock to everyone.

Two: She knew better than to physically fight the Majie. That was her prowess, but she knew it would only anger them and be a means to their end.

Three: She had to get back to Themiscrya to warn them in time.



Majie Mystery

Amazons Divided


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