Morning came quickly for the Amazon traveler. Sometime during
vesper's wake, Jadea stopped and clutched her heart. She knew
what caused the sudden slicing pang in her chest.
A minute passed before she nudged her horse onward. Mortal
ways of travel were not the most effective or speediest, but it
drew less attention than suddenly appearing in front of the
The Amazon following Jadea did her best to keep out of sight,
but it didn't make any difference. Jadea knew she was being
tracked. She allowed it because she knew what it meant to the
Amazon behind her, but when an unexpected visit occurred, the
Amazon inadvertently made herself known.
The Goddess of Love appeared in front of Jadea's horse in a
shower of rose petals.
"Aphrodite?" Jadea asked curiously, calming her
astonished horse. She hadn't anticipated this when making her
list of possibilities.
"You have got to do something about Samsara! She's
brought back Ares only to torture him. Her mongrel bitch of a
sister is probably still laying face down on Olympus." The
breathtaking blonde goddess was flustered beyond recognition.
She saw something move behind Jadea and said, "You're being
followed." It wasn't important to either of them, so the
Goddess shook her head and continued speaking about Samsara.
"Can't you do anything?" she pleaded.
Jadea's pendant swirled with a mild red hue. "Aphrodite,
I'm going to do all that I can. Where is Ares now?"
"The psycho goddess that Callisto spawned has left him
on Olympus. We are allowed to move him, but we can't do anything
to get him out of the cage she's put up around him."
Aphrodite's voice displayed her desperation. Ares was her
brother and she loved him, despite his faults.
A scream bellowed out behind Jadea and a woman fell on the
ground. "Ohhhh!" She lay still for a few seconds
before trying to get up. The Amazon rubbed her neck and became
aware of the eyes on her.
"Fancy meeting you all the way out here, Sister."
Jadea commented. She turned her head back to the Goddess.
"Did Callisto make an appearance, Aphrodite?" She
"Yeah, how did you know?" The Goddess seemed
"Just a feeling."
Samsara watched in the viewing bowl as Aphrodite conversed
with Jadea. She slammed her fist down on the side of the stone
bowl, distorting the image. "Damn you," she hissed.
"Why, why, why, why? CUPID!"
The winged god appeared. "You beckoned?"
"What in the Hades is your mother trying to do?"
she demanded. "I have nothing against her and she knows
damn well that her brother, your uncle, my FATHER, deserves
every single thing he gets."
"Well, Great Destroyer," he commented. "You
have to admit that Ma is the Goddess of Love."
"Love, schmove. If she is that goddess, then why can't
she hate? Why is there no Goddess of Hate?" She crossed her
legs and leaned back on Ares' throne.
"She can't hate."
"There is a fine line betwixt that and love, my dear
Cupid. A fine line," she shook her head. "Never
mind," she said, waving her hand. "I have nothing
against your mother, but she best stay out of my way. Let her
know that," she said, dismissing him.
Meanwhile, approaching the city-state of Athens...
Dachus and Samsara's men stopped right before the first town
so the General could look down on the small village he would
soon destroy. "This is to be a quick sweep, Dachus,"
Samsara had ordered him. "A message to all the enemies of
the Amazon Nation that they will be eliminated for their
He wasn't sure what misdeeds they had done, nor did he care.
Orders were orders. He pulled out his scimitar and yelled a
battle cry. The 200+ army rushed down the hill and took the city
Samsara knew better than to allow the women and children to
live. She saw the flaw of such a measure. Dachus followed her
plan and did not stop until everyone, even the last screaming
infant, was dead. Then they torched the town in the Great
Destroyer's fashion, leaving her mark on the outskirts of town.
They indulged in moderate spoils, taking very little. Samsara
knew that if she allowed her men to take as much as they could
carry, they would only be led by greed. By limiting them, she
assured that their rewards were praise and augmentation of their
skills, not their lust for monetary gains.
"Greed is the fall of many an army, Dachus," she
once explained. "Armies that raid for riches raid their own
worth. I want this army to succeed through loyalty and respect
for their leader, not through wealth. The world is run by war,
my General, and I will soon become its Master. Anyone who
marches with me knows that he is the elite and only loyalty
lights his passion."
Meanwhile, at Samsara's Academy of War . . .
"Greed is the fall of many an army. The Academy accepts
only the elite; those whose passions are lit by loyalty and not
by avarice," the head of the Academy addressed a range of
The men sat in silence, watching and listening to the speaker
"Those who believe they will graduate from this academy,
heed my words. You may not! A good number of you will fail. Your
fellow cadets, those who sit beside you, may perish within the
first couple of weeks! See that man on your right? He will be
gone before the month is out!" He paused a moment so they
could absorb the impact of his words.
"This is not to say that you should not make friends. On
the contrary, friendship, loyalty, and respect for the Amazon
are the most valuable lessons you will learn in your three month
journey. They are more important than the fighting skills and
methods of strategy you will learn. Only the elite graduate from
the War Academy, and only loyalty incites the passions of the
"Did I miss anything?" Seriana asked as she
interrupted her aunts with the dense thuds of Deinus' hooves in
"Nothing important," Jadea told her. "I should
have known you wouldn't stay in the village."
"Hey, I may not have any desire to get mixed up in
Olympian politics and I may still be confused about this whole
Majie-war thing, but I know that when the going gets tough the
tough stick with their families."
Aphrodite sniffled. "That's so sweet. Now, are we going
to Olympus or what?"
"Hold on!" Jadea told her. "It might not be
safe up there. Ares, Callisto, Kaia, and Samsara are not a good
"It's not getting any less dangerous the more we stand
here talking about it. But, in all fairness . . . has anybody
got a plan?"
"Have you?" Jadea countered.
"No. I'm just here to supply a clear head and a good
shot . . . plus the ability to navigate the Olympian City, which
can get confusing. It's all divvied up into territories and
levels and secret passages. But you're the one in charge of this
Aphrodite's head jerked up suddenly. She heard, like only a
mother goddess could, the voice of her son, Cupid.
The Goddess of Love looked at Jadea. "So what are you
going to do?"
"Enlist the help of someone who owes me a favor. In the
meantime, Aphrodite, it would do you well to stay out of
Samsara's path. Like her mother, she can leave quite a messy
Like her mother... Jadea repeated the thought in her
mind. Oh, shit...her army!
Aphrodite shot Jadea a half-hearted look of agreement. She
then straightened up and was gone, a brief line of what appeared
to be gold dust marking her departure.
The Sorceress Empress studied her niece's face. Seriana had
tracked her all this way. That was probably more to her own
inexperience on horseback than Seriana's skills as a tracker.
She loathed traveling this way. She'd grown too accustomed to
using sorcery to "pop" in and out of places. Jadea
shook her head.
Seriana gave her a confused look. "What?"
"Nothing. Just every now and then, I see things through
the gods' eyes," she replied casually.
After a moment, Seriana's head tilted a bit to the right.
"Scary, isn't it?"
With a smile, Jadea nodded. "Very." She waved,
encouraging Seriana to come up alongside with her.
"Where are we going?" Seriana asked, realizing that
Jadea had altered their course.
"Samsara is too much like Callisto, I fear. Just as
Callisto had counterpart who could neutralize her...perhaps
allay her is better wording...so does her daughter."
Seriana questioned the Amazon sorceress about this. All she
got for a reply on it was, "You'll see what I mean,
Celosia resumed her role as Queen of the Themiscyran Amazons.
But Medea's time and reign as queen, though brief, had shot her
with a dose of leadership - a very potent dose. Medea went about
her duties with invigorated zeal.
Thalia strolled into camp. She was given odd looks and some
Amazons whispered. It was a peculiar welcoming, really. None of
her Sisters rushed up to her; none called out to her.
The Head Scout had the misfortune of running into Medea
first. She'd truly hoped she could meet with Celosia first. An
encounter with that Highland Queen would be preferred to
reckoning with Medea.
By now, though, Vorgeen had gone. She'd left her tribe in
Themiscyra, with Celosia's blessing. Dolphinea now presided over
the Highland Amazons. Vorgeen had appointed her as Regent, which
now made her the Queen.
"Thalia!" Medea snapped, her eyes narrowing on the
Amazon. She walked a step or two and stopped. The nearer Thalia
came to Medea the better Medea could see of the Amazon.
The Scout's face was dirty, her hair unclean and completely
frazzled. She bore some bruises, the worst of which she kept
hidden. Her eyes were watery as though she'd been crying...or
was about to start. She was without her Amazon sword or weapons.
"Just where in Hades have you been? We've had search
parties out since you disappeared! You worried Jadea so badly
that she left to find you!" The Regent ejaculated and
glared at Themiscyra's lead scout.
A few yards away, other Amazons stood and watched. It usually
wasn't a good idea to stand idly by and watch one of Medea's
tirades - you generally became her next target if you did. But
this was a bit different. Thalia had been missing for over a
day. To the best of her tribe's knowledge, she was dead. They
hadn't accepted that, of course, but it was certainly a possible
explanation of what'd happened.
Thalia silently stood her ground. The last thing she wanted
to do now was fight. She'd been fighting since
before...before...Thalia drove away the thought. She still
couldn't explain it to herself.
Attacked by her own Themiscyran sister? It'd happened too
fast. She'd denied to herself what happened...all the way up
until the Amazon had found her. Remembering Jadea's plan and
Medea's orders, Thalia had attempted to take control of the
fight the moment the Majie fell into security. Suddenly, she'd
been overwhelmed by an attack. Unable to grasp the racing
events, she let her instincts take over. In doing so, she'd
survived and killed a number of Majie before Samsara pulled her
little stunt. That was still something that completely confused
"Explain yourself, Amazon!" Medea ordered.
Queen Celosia charged upon the scene. She shot her sister a
"back off, you need to work on your timing and tact"
look. Her arms embraced Thalia, thankful for the Amazon's safe
return. Other Amazons were quickly gathering around to watch.
Thalia stood as she was, unmoving and silent. She didn't say
it, but Thalia didn't trust her sisters right now. None of them.
Someone had attacked her and she wasn't sure who it had been.
The traitor was Themiscyran, of that she was positive.
Themiscyra's Queen pulled back from her Head Scout, a
completely confused and fretted look on her face. Something was
seriously wrong; apparently Thalia's disappearance wasn't all
that needed explaining. "Thalia, what is it?" Celosia
The Amazon could hardly bear to look into her Queen's eyes.
But she did...for a second.
Medea fell profoundly quiet. She now saw how strange Thalia's
composure and mood were. A fine time for Samsara to go
god-power hungry and her aunt to turn goody-two-shoes... She
thought to herself.
Celosia took Thalia arm and softly urged her to come with
her. The scout did so on her own power, but she wore an eerie
From across the camp, Angus watched the three women. He saw
Celosia take Thalia into the command tent and sit her down.
Outside the tent, Medea hesitated long enough to shout at the
others to get back to work, then followed her sister. No matter
what else she had to do, Medea intended to make time to find out
what the Hades was going on.
Angus made a quiet thanks that Garrett hadn't been around to
see all of this. He'd gone out with one of hunting parties. Said
something about wanting to learn some of the "old Amazon
hunting tricks" he'd heard about. When he returned, Angus
made a strategic intervention and began a conversation to keep
him away from gossiping tongues.
Brighid help me, I'm goin' soft, he mused to himself.
Time had been that his heart was hard and his justice cold. But
that was then...and this was now. And now - a lot of strange
things were going on in the Amazon world.
Back on the trail …
Jadea led Seriana and herself toward Teloq. As they neared
the border two arrows were shot in warning. Seriana called out
and declared who she was. Jadea followed her action.
"If you speak the truth, then where is our Goddess
Samsara?" A female voice shouted back.
Themiscyra's Sorceress shot her niece a look. The same
confused look was returned.
Another voice soon spoke. "You are imposters! Jadea
hails from a land in the sea. Not Themiscyra."
Turning her head to her aunt, Seri asked, "You want to
answer that one, or shall I?" She chuckled and saw Jadea
"I tell ya, Seri. It's just no good when you're not who
you thought you were."
No sooner had she said those words than six Amazons descended
around her and Seriana. The lead Amazon removed her mask and let
her eyes lay solely on Jadea. She'd been the one to challenge
Jadea's claim, though both had been called imposters.
Jadea caught something familiar in the Teloan's eyes. An
element strangely familiar to her, though she could not identify
"You dare to pose as the Sorceress Empress of the Amazon
world?" She hissed lividly, as though she'd been challenged
in the worst way - by insult and defiance combined.
"My dear, Teloan Sister, I dare a great many things. But
I would never dare to pose as the Sorceress Empress of the
Amazons. She is dead. She went by many names. More often so, she
was Rumyna. I am Jadea, daughter of Celtia and sister of all
Amazonia...including Themiscyra." Jadea answered
strong and clearly.
Seriana had looked at her when she spoke. When Jadea
finished, Seri turned her head confidently back to the Teloans
and beamed with pride. Jadea's little speech had impacted the
Teloan guards. But the Head was still not convinced. With a
raised brow and deeply suspicious eyes, she remarked, "That
may be so, Amazon. But the Sorceress Empress bears a sign."
The Themiscyran Sorceress grew tired of the questioning. She
conjured a fireball in her hand and threw it up into the air.
The round circle of fire lingered for a moment before dropping
down and exploding outward, leaving the sign of the Teloq to
sparkle slowly down.
Her anger came through her eyes and authoritative voice.
"Let us pass now or face treason."
Two Teloan guards escorted them through to camp. On the way,
Seriana quietly spoke, "for a minute, I thought you were
going to kill them." She gave Jadea a sidelong glance.
"Strange. Because for a minute, I thought about killing
them." The Sorceress responded. She sounded strangely
honest, but a pinch of humor found its way into her tone. She
gave a half-smile. "If they hadn't been Amazon, I would
have. Perhaps, my patience for my sisters is greater than my
patience for the rest of the world."
To this, Seriana made no remark. She wasn't sure what to say
to that last comment. A few minutes later, though, she
thoughtfully stated, "I wonder why they didn't recognize
Jadea shot her a glance. She'd noticed the youth of the
Teloan border guards. They likely didn't know what Seriana
looked like. Seemingly, they barely knew her reputation - which,
within the Amazon Nation, every warrior builds up to some
degree. Even if she doesn't intend to.
"Seriana, when we enter their camp I want you to stick
close to me." She stated and paused before speaking again.
Something solemn came over her. "I nearly lost you once. I
don't intend it to happen again."
Seri didn't answer for a few seconds. She sensed something
vague and tried to latch onto what it was. As these things often
do, it slipped out of her grasp. "I will," she said.
Unknowing but trusting, Seriana let Jadea take the lead of
the conversation. Themiscyra's sorceress deliberately made every
attempt to be amiable and honest without divulging too much.
Soon, she and Seriana were on the very spot Ishtar had died.
It'd taken some time and convincing to get there, but Jadea,
with her niece's assistance, managed it.
They were alone, per Jadea's request. The latter closed her
eyes and focused. Sitting on her mount, back straightened, eyes
closed, and utterly still, she looked so mystical and serious. A
combination that was a wonder to behold.
Seri, close your eyes, Jadea mentally directed.
Somehow Samsara's sister had heard her. She complied.
What? She began to ask but didn't have the chance to
Shhh...simply concentrate. The rest will take care of
Together, Jade and Seri conjured to mind Samsara's mentor and
the only mother she'd ever really known. Ishtar appeared before
the two women, who seemed to be standing and not mounted. The
Teloan smiled warmly but didn't move toward them.
"Seriana. Jadea," her eyes lightened to see them.
She wore a festive Amazon dress as one might see in times of
ceremony. Ishtar's hair lay freely and blew back some with a
"You know me?" Seriana asked in a kind of gasp.
Chuckling and nodding, Ishtar responded, "Of course,
young one. You are my Samsara's sister." She gave a laugh
when Seriana's confusion failed to retreat. "And
Ishtar's eyes moved from Seriana to the Sorceress. "Such
grimness, Jadea. Dare I ask what could befall you to turn your
Seriana blinked beside her. She had caught "turn your
heart" and it bewildered her.
Not now, Seri, she heard Jadea's soft tone inside her
"My sister-" Jadea began but didn't finish.
"Your sister, Jadea, will return when her time comes.
Rumyna did not lie to you. She never could, I believe."
Ishtar stated solemnly. Her composure abruptly changed.
"But you did not come here to talk of her. You came to ask
my help with Samsara."
Jadea nodded once. The point about Rumyna...and the
connection Ishtar had made with Callisto...had thrown Jadea off
track. And that was a bad sign. "Yes. You're the only one
she would listen to. The only one-"
Yet again the Teloan stopped her. "You above all should
know that mortals have free will."
Seriana was first to say, "But Samsara isn't mortal.
She's a goddess."
Ishtar let her gaze drift to Seriana. She nodded. "True,
but she's part mortal. Samsara has grown up among Amazons.
Although we have a chain of command, we are still free to choose
our actions. An Amazon warrior can choose to obey an order or to
defy it. Samsara was born of immortal flesh and through time,
she's acquired great powers. But within her still beats an
Amazon heart. We cannot refuse one of our own the right to
choose their actions."
Jadea mentally sighed. The Teloan made sense, but Jadea
fervently disagreed. "Even when those actions result in the
repetition of past crimes? Past crimes of their mother. . .and
aunt? Even when those actions result in the deaths of women and
children?" Jadea questioned, gathering more and more
velocity towards the end. But as she paused, her rise of tone
fell calmer. "Ishtar...even when those actions will destroy
In those few moments, Seriana witnessed what few of her
Sisters had. She saw Jadea become as desperate and vulnerable as
any mortal could. And she heard Jadea admit as much.
"Ishtar, please...you are her only hope. You are our only
hope for saving her."
The Teloan became quiet as she thought. Finally, she
inquired, "All right, Sorceress Empress. What did you have
in mind?" Her voice rang like a morning songbird to Jadea.
"Ares must sit as God of War again."
Seri interjected. "But Jadea, he-"
"Seriana, it is the only way. Samsara is unbalanced
right now because of what's she done and what's now doing."
Ishtar nodded her consent. "All right. So Ares regains
his godhood and mantle. And then...?"
"Kaia will be a problem. But she's one I can handle.
What I need from you is to return to this world." Jadea
informed. To this, she was given an extremely reluctant look.
"Jadea, you know that once an Amazon crosses-"
It was now her turn to cut in. "What I know is that you
can return on a quest to help save the life or soul of
another." Jadea stated. She knew that an Amazon who had
passed into the nether realms could return as her living self
long enough to complete a mission.
"I see you have thought much on this." Ishtar
Jadea smiled and shook her head. "Actually, it's a
Again, the Teloan was quiet as she thought. At last, her gaze
moved from the air to Jadea's eyes. "Very well. I will do
this on one condition."
Jadea hated conditions. They always seemed complicated or
inconvenient. "Which is..." Jadea observed.
"That once I have done my part and Samsara is her true
self again, you will return to Celtia."
A long silent pause. Jadea felt she was being ambushed
almost. Vorgeen and then Angus - and now Ishtar. What was back
in Britannia that could be so important?
Jadea was quiet for so long that Seriana worried she'd deny
Ishtar's request and Samsara would be lost. But at long last,
Jadea gave a nod. "So be it. But for that price, you must
begin right away. I know her army has destroyed at least one
How do you. . . Seri questioned.
Felt it earlier, Jadea quickly replied.
Ishtar smiled again at her Amazon Sisters.
Jadea and Seriana gave their sincerest thanks to the Teloans
"How in the name of - YOU - could you let her do
that?!" Athena bitterly and angrily demanded of her father.
Zeus had tried to leave Olympus, but his wife stopped him
short. Perhaps she knew he would leave to meddle with another
mortal - the gods' version of drowning their sorrows.
"Mind your place, my daughter." He warned tersely.
"Thank you, father. And I'd like you to remember
YOURS!" The Goddess retorted and vanished. She reappeared
inside one of her temples, a stunned priest in front of her.
"Gather my loyal followers - all of them. Tell my
nearest general to march on Themiscyra!" She ordered, her
voice booming against the walls of the temple when she spoke.
Ordinarily, this wasn't Athena's style. But someone had
pushed the wrong buttons too many times and in too short a time
Following her order, Artemis appeared inside and shot an
arrow into a statue erected of the Goddess of Wisdom. It stuck
in the statue's forehead, just above the nose.
"That was uncalled for, Sis." Athena said acridly.
"You go too far." Artemis replied.
"No, you don't go far enough, Artemis "
The Goddess of Amazons readied her bow once more.
"Go ahead and shoot. It won't do you any good."
"Why are you doing this, Athena?" Her sister asked.
"If Zeus and the other gods won't take care of
Callisto's bitch, I will!"
Elsewhere in an unknown land...
"We are down to one Majie, sire," A tall dark
figure informed his master.
"A pity that they felled themselves just as she said
they would." The other sighed wickedly. "But one is
all we shall need."
"The sorceress who sought an alliance with them...I know
her. She was taught by the Old One in the days before the
Olympian gods," the tall one said. His master looked
"Oh? I was unaware you knew such things."
"Well, sire, I suspect it was the only thing you were
unaware of," he replied, desperately hoping his answer
would serve its purpose.
"Yes, I suspect. Still, do not go about mentioning such
things. We can't have the gods believing they were the first.
Not anymore than we can have them believing the Titans
"I understand, sire. I won't speak of it again."
Medea came out of the command tent. The Elder Serena was
waiting to cross her path outside. She had yet to return to
Growling to herself, Medea prepared for the inevitable
confrontation. What she got, however, was a surprise.
"Regent Medea, I would like very much to thank you and
Queen Celosia for your graciousness and aid in the Majie matter.
I understand that Samsara is now a major concern. As Elder of
her native tribe, I offer any and all assistance that Themiscyra
may need to subdue her. I shall be leaving shortly with my High
Guard." She bowed her head. Medea responsively did the
same. "I apologize for any offensive words or gestures on
my part. It was an honor to fight beside you."
Medea gave her a slight expression of recognition. After,
Serena turned and left.
Shaking her head, Medea began thinking to herself. Just
when I think things can't get any stranger or worse...an
arrogant and fiery Teloan Elder goes and gets sincerely sappy.
Humph! It's almost as though she likes us Themiscyrans. Go
The Regent walked on and gave two or three orders before
heading for her hut. She still had Thalia and Celosia on her
mind. Some promised quiet time to collect and straighten out her
thoughts was all she needed, she thought. After that, a nice
long bath in the hot springs...maybe.
At the corral…
"Bloody hell, Angus!" Dolphinea screamed and four
Highland Amazons giggled.
"What? You said help!" He returned as his face
"I meant help me round up the rest of the herd! Not play
musical horses!" Dolphinea stopped to breathe heavily as
she watched the herd scamper to and fro around the paddock with
Angus chasing them. Feminine laughter filled the air again.
Noticing the commotion, Antigone came up and whistled a tune
the others had never heard before. Strangely, the horses slowed
and halted. The woman then made an imitation horse call.
Swiftly, the animals turned and began trotting towards a
feverish but not very happy Dolphinea.
The horses had been those that the Highlanders had brought
with them and they were trying to integrate them in with
Themiscyra's. It hadn't been going well.
Antigone watched from behind a wooden rail fence. Dolphinea
shouted her thanks and nodded. Antigone gave her a smile.
Angus trotted up through the herd on one of the
horses...regrettably Dolphinea's. He stood up, carefully, and
flipped forward off the mare. His feet landed just outside the
fence; a close call and near wipe out.
The Highland Queen glared at him. "If I was Vorgeen, I'd
have you in the barracks for that."
Foolishly, he remarked, "If you were Vorgeen, I wouldn't
have tried that."
Too late. She charged for him. Antigone immediately ran to
break it up. She didn't reach it in time. Dolphinea dove into
him and he fell backward onto the ground. She let her fall take
her into a roll. And soon, she was on her feet. Angus struggled
to get to his own. Before long, her blade touched his neck.
"Now apologize," she ordered.
With a devilish grin becoming of his own fashion, he
answered, "I will not."
Her blade pierced his flesh and blood appeared. "I will
say this once more. Apologize for your foolish antics."
He studied her eyes and saw that she meant both her words and
her threat. "I apologize, Queen Dolphinea."
A silence came after this. But when the Highland Amazon
lowered her sword, the watching Amazons cheered and laughed. The
humility of a man was a rare and cherished sight for them.
"Good. Now thank my sister Antigone for savin' your arse!"
Antigone blushed. She didn't believe any gratitude was owed
her. And when the Celt's entrancing eyes met hers, she felt
something heat inside her. "I am truly thankful, Antigone.
Had you not been here to help, I'd be a dead man. If ever I can
"That's enough Angus." Dolphinea interrupted,
already hearing his charm lines beginning.
"I mean it!" He defensively declared with his head
turned back to her.
Antigone ventured to speak. She couldn't muffle a slight
chuckle, though. "It's all right, friend. We help each
other around here. That's just how it is."
At the sound of her voice, his head turned from the Highland
Queen. He smiled when she finished and nodded with a final
whisper. "If you need anythin', you can call on me."
The two Themiscyran Sisters continued on. For half an hour,
neither spoke. The silence got so that the younger could stand
it no more.
"Jade?" Seri softly asked.
"Hmm?" Came her only response.
"Samsara is the daughter of Callisto and Ares,
A reluctant pause. Sometimes, I just hate the truth,
Jadea thought to herself. She wasn't certain how to answer.
Then, the words of her mentor returned. "Often, Jadea, we
can avoid the pain of a lie by choosing our words with more
care. A common phenomenon, to be sure."
Jadea cleared her throat, prepared to see if Rumyna's lesson
had stuck. "Samsara is the daughter of two immortals,
yes." Oh please, oh please, oh please . . . let her not
think too long on that to contest it!
"So if Sami is their daughter, and I am-"
Now Jadea knew where this was going. They had had a brief
little exchange about it before. "You're my niece, Seriana.
You are my Amazon Sister, and my niece."
The Amazon thought silently for a minute, turned her head and
replied, "All right."
Don't think that Samsara had no idea and she was quite livid
when she found out that Athena decided to declare war on her
Amazons. She stood abruptly from her new throne and tugged on
her hind's blood pendant.
"She wants to play with fire?" she said aloud.
Dachus took care of two more Athenian villages before
settling for the afternoon. His men marched on a tavern of the
next village and they rented rooms with the small amount of
dinars they had in their possession. Quite true to the game,
Samsara's men were quite respectful of the women, even if they
were to kill them in the morning.
The general went to Samsara's (formerly Ares') temple.
"Great Destroyer!" he called.
She appeared before him with a smile. "I see things are
going according to plan," she responded.
He nodded, kneeling before her.
"Skip the formalities, Dachus. Do it in front of the
army." He complied and stood. "I need you to do
something. Artemis has issues defending Themiscyra and I'm sure
she's tried her best but she simply has too much kinship for
that screwed up family. Turn around. Go toward Themiscyran
territory and be sure that all men marching in the name of the
Goddess of Wisdom make it no further than three steps.
He nodded. "Yes, oh Great Destroyer."
She walked to the brown-haired, armored man and kissed him
softly. "For all of your years of faithful service."
He smiled as soon as she parted from him.
She vanished back to Olympus to visit Ares. He was chained to
the pole, waiting to be set on fire. Samsara would be the one to
do the task and she showed up with a smile on her face.
"Father," she said in a low growl. She approached
him and stood three feet away.
"Sam.... Samsara, daughter of mine... Now you don't want
to do this..." As he spoke, she walked around toying with
an ever increasing-in-size fireball. "I mean... I didn't
mean to do all those things, honest!"
She chuckled. "Continue," she ordered with a
"I-I... Vorgeen, she... I didn't mean for it to..."
"You didn't mean for it to WHAT, Father? WHAT?" she
cried. "YOU DIDN'T MEAN TO PIT TWO AMAZON TRIBES TOGETHER?
You don't think I don't know with your deal with the Majie? You
don't think I don't know about that mark you left on Thalia
where Ser' stabbed her? You don't THINK that I know those
slavers you initially sent were just a diversion? What do you
take me for!" Her voice boomed throughout Olympus.
Someone watched aside from Ardra, unbeknownst to all
involved. A smile crossed that face, knowing the damage caused.
This person had a connection to all that was weird in Themiscyra
and perhaps to the fall of the Pantheon.
Perfect. She is going just where we want her to go. Samsara
didn't need to kill a Majie to go this way. It would have been
easier if she had.
She shook her head. "You disgust me." She set him
afire and watched as the flames engulfed him. "For all that
has happened to Mother, Jadea, Seriana, my Amazon sisters and
for the turning of Kaia Kakistos; for all of your past misdeeds,
for the injustices committed against all with the Amazon
But Samsara knew.
And somehow so did Kaia. The daughter of Ares and Discord
walked into the room. She had been docile and caused little
trouble. Kaia knew how to bide her time. "Samsara,"
she whispered hoarsely.
The Goddess Kakistos turned to her younger sister. "What
do you want?" she demanded quietly as Ares cried in pain.
"That isn't Daddy... is it?"
Samsara turned. "How did you know?"
"Because you're inherently good. You would
never..." she said as she looked at the burning man,
"ever do this. No matter what you think Daddy has
"Yes, he burns in effigy. He whines just as much as
Father would. You're right. And it doesn't matter if the other
gods know, because oddly I despise most of them more than
him." She turned back to Ares' "twin" so to
Suddenly the walls began to shake. All of Olympus was
"Sam," Kaia urged. "You have to fix this.
Olympus is falling and that can't happen for a long while, you
"Trust me, I care. If Olympus falls, the world goes to
shambles. These mortals aren't ready for a one-god."
Kakistos shook her head. "No, they aren't."
Samsara peered at her sister through slit eyes. "You get
the Hades out of here. Get out of here and avoid my path. I'm
ready to go to war."
Kaia looked at her sister's hind's blood pendant. She knew
that if Samsara were to be stripped of it, the world would fall
into ruin just as hard as the order falling so soon. Samsara was
Protector of the Blood. Without one, the gods would use the
blood against each other, and the Pantheon would fall sooner
The shaking stopped. That was when Kaia spoke. "You
didn't poison her did you?"
Samsara pushed against her sister and walked out of the room.
Hephaestus approached her. "Great Destroyer," he
"And what would you want? Another kiss from your blood
niece? You are almost as disgusting as that man burning in
The God of Metalworking shook his head. "What have you
against me? I blessed your sword, blessed your armor, blessed
your army. I've done nothing to offend you, Goddess
Samsara stopped and turned her head to look at him. "You
helped in torturing my mother by standing by and allowing the
atrocities to continue. You helped in torturing me when you
stood idly by as Ishtar was killed by a disciple of
Hephaestus cringed at the reference to Ares. He knew. Somehow
he knew. Artemis knew the truth, because she was witness to the
vile act committed against Callisto. Samsara knew only half the
story. When she saved Zeus she saw his viewing portal and
witnessed the act as well. Anger overcame her more than the
anger that rushed into her body when Ishtar was murdered. No one
but Artemis saw what had happened next. A great flash of light
engulfed the darkness of the Labyrinth of the Gods. This is
perhaps how Samsara was sired. Ares and Callisto knew nothing of
the occurrence as this event stopped all time. Artemis was loath
to admit this, for she had no evidence to back it up, so for
years she regarded Samsara as her "niece" but only
"If you're not part of the solution," she
continued, "then you become part of the problem." She
Ares meanwhile was trapped indeed. Very few would admit it,
but the former God of War was in his green hell still, amid the
Amazons in the Land of the Dead.
The wind was clean, but because of where he was, the fog
rolled around. The scene was desolate and grey. The recently
dead Amazons glared at him and told him of all the suffering
"At least Samsara makes sure her victims die
painlessly," commented one. "I had my heart sliced out
by one of Criton's men."
"I was raped repeatedly by your worshippers,"
responded another. Her wounds were still fresh, as she died
around the time Ares was stripped of his mantle. "Then my
jugular was slit and I was left to die in the bushes. Thankfully
someone came and held me for the remaining painful minutes of my
Ares shook his head. "Come on... I don't advocate that
"But your doctrine led to it," cried another.
"That's enough," a woman said. Her voice was soft,
but it carried across the Land and over the grievances of other
spitting mad Amazons. She approached Ares in her ceremonial
dress. Her long-flowing auburn hair reached to mid back and fell
over her shoulder. She reached him in his cell. She was about
5'4"ish and lithe. "You've led to the torture and
murder of many of my sisters, those who have fought against you
and the others who followed your doctrine of war. Although my
ward has become its Master, she must return to you your sword to
balance the Pantheon.
"I'm here to help you Ares, despite the fact that your
men killed me and my child." On her back was a wicker
basket, much like the one she found Samsara in. Inside was a
gurgling little girl. She spoke to the Lady of the Land and
after having explained her mission, the woman granted her a
chance for life in the Realm of the Living. This is strictly
against all Law, but the Lady of the Land knew that Ishtar was
performing a great service by risking becoming a wandering soul.
Ishtar refused, but asked that her baby be the one given
The Lady mulled the thought over and nodded, knowing that
giving the baby life would help Ishtar further her goal.
The women gasped in protest. To let Ares return as God of
War? Preposterous! The Shamaness Priestess ignored their
Ares looked at her in disbelief. "You would help
"Despite what you have done to me? Yes. Forgiveness is
the key. I will never forget Ares, but forgive I can. That is
something Samsara must learn if she is to continue in her acts
and labors for Queen Empress of the Teloans. You don't think I
know that Ephiny will die? She will rule a great race of Amazons
and I must be sure that she goes down the correct path. This is
my only chance and if it means that I must restore you to your
position, then so be it."
She walked past him toward the horizon. It was time to find
her ward, somehow, someway.
It wasn't odd that Samsara thought of Ishtar and the unborn
child in her. Well, it was odd to Samsara, but she tried to push
the thought aside as she watched the viewing bowl. She also
tried to get her mother out of her mind, but that was something
Dachus followed the plan. Her men were trained in a mix of
Amazon and Spartan fashion: tough, strong, and stealthy.
They stalked the forest and found the first scouts of
Athena's men. They remained quiet and once the scouts were
satisfied that the forest was safe to pass, the rest marched
It was then that the ambush began. The siege was quick and
relatively painless. Samsara demanded that these men be killed
like her other victims: quick and painlessly.
She laughed as she watched the last soldier fall. She waited
for Athena to march into her throne room, fuming in anger and
exerting lots of energy. It was all Samsara needed for the
Goddess of Wisdom to succumb to the hind's blood.
And show up she did. She stomped into the throne room,
seething. "YOU!" she cried. "THOSE WERE MY BEST
WARRIORS!" She pulled out her sword.
Samsara yawned loudly. "Now they are your best dead
ones." She lazily hung her arm over the armrest.
"Where's Bacchus? I need some of his best wine for a
celebration." She noted the sword and stood, pulling out
Ares' with little effort. Her eyes glinted. "When will you
realize that you can't kill me? Wouldn't it be interesting to
see you slide off Father's sword leaving trails of blood on the
blade?" she responded, eyeing the blade. "Ironic,
that's the word I'm looking for. I-ronic. And messy, too. I'd
have to get the carpet cleaned and I just wiped out the best dry
cleaner's in all of Athens. Dammit, I shoulda thought of that.
Don't you hate it when that happens? I do. I hate it very much.
Almost as much as I hate you."
Athena peered at her in lividness.
"Oh, you want to fight me, that's it! Well, thought
you'd never ask. Just be forewarned." Her voice suddenly
became ominous. "You might just die."
Athena straightened and scoffed.
"Oh, you didn't know? Remember that trick Discord played
on Zeus? Yeah, I did the same to you. I poisoned your food and
it's only a matter of time before you become mortal and I kill
you. Yes, an antidote exists, but you'd have to go to the far
reaches of the known world to find it and that would mean you'd
have no time to fight me." She pointed the sword toward the
floor and continued. "So either you fight me to your death,
or you do something about getting cured."
Little did Samsara know that Athena had little of the poison.
Annoyed, she ate little then left. Aphrodite had gone back and
indulged in the remaining leftovers of Athena's food and the
Goddess of Love was not Samsara's intended target. The poison
would take longer to course through Athena's blood, but
Aphrodite was at risk. This was not known to these two angry
When Samsara finally realized that Athena wasn't going
"Taking your chances, huh?" she snarled. "EN
GUARDE!" she cried.
Antigone was glad that things had become peaceful again. But
there was still suspicion in the camp. She went into the woods
and prayed to Aphrodite. After all, who else could help her
bring about a state of love and trust?
Jadea neared an abandoned temple and stopped. Her baffled
niece slowed behind her.
"What is this place?" Seriana asked with all the
confusion in her eyes.
The sorceress became deathly serious and distant. "This
is the first temple ever constructed to Artemis. Many years ago,
a war broke out among the gods. As each took sides, so did
mortals. Artemis couldn't defend herself, her subjects, and her
main temple. It was sacrificed.....along with a great many other
Seriana watched as Jadea gazed at the fallen pillars and
rubble. The door to the temple was half blocked by a cave in.
"Jadea, why have we come here?" The Themiscyran
asked, regaining some of her strength.
"Shhh..." Her aunt softly replied.
Artemis presented herself upon a large pillar that laid on
the ground, half buried by the wear of time. She looked at the
two Amazons. "I can't help you now." She said simply.
"You won't help, you mean," Jadea quickly
quipped. She was angry at the Goddess of the Amazons. And as her
anger grew, so did her clarity in seeing the late Velasca's
view. This, however, she kept to herself.
"It's no use, Amazon Sorceress. She has the hind's
blood. She has Ares. She commands the loyalty of her own army,
not to mention that of many Amazon warriors," Artemis
stated in her own defense, but she sounded rather demoralized by
Seriana ventured to speak before Jadea got another chance.
"What if you rallied the Amazons? You are our Goddess and I
refuse to believe that as Goddess of the Hunt and Amazons, you
are helpless," she declared with a sense of Amazon pride.
Artemis looked at her as though the Amazon's words had
Jadea took the silence and used it. "If you won't unite
the tribes and lead us...then at least give us an edge to work
with," she humbly requested.
The Goddess nodded. "All right. What did you have in
"I want the name of the last living Amazon assassin. The
Majie spy in our ranks."
Silence filled the air as Artemis debated it with herself.
She knew who Jadea spoke of. Some things could be kept from a
god, but most could not be. "That crosses a li-"
"Damn the lines! Artemis, we're talking about the whole
world - including the Amazons'!"
"Jade..." Seri said softly to cool her down.
Another silent pause was given as Artemis studied Jadea's
eyes. At last, she reached her decision. "Don't make the
mistake in believing I am blind to what's at stake. I am aware
of more than even my fellow gods know. I can't given you a name,
but I can tell you that she's among you still. During your war
with the Majie, she assaulted Thalia. The fight was taken out of
Themiscyra. Thalia survived and has since returned home. You're
traitor returned with her. She does not know this. You want the
last Majie, Sorceress Empress? She's in Themiscyra." With
that, the Goddess vanished. It was true that her hands were
tied, but she held cards the other gods didn't know of. And
carefully...strategically...she was playing them one by one.
Jadea turned to Seriana. Her face was contorted in a mixture
of panic and focus. "Seriana, go home. Go straight to
Celosia and tell her what we know. Let this fall upon her ears
and no one else's."
"No buts. Go!"
Before Seriana knew it, her aunt had sent her away and placed
her down on the path to Themiscyra. One final chance was all
they had. Otherwise, a Majie would continue to be a threat.
Perhaps, though, this is what the imposter wanted.
Fed up with mortal travel, Jadea dismounted and sent her
horse back to Themiscyra. With one snap of her fingers, she
appeared in Samsara's temple. Her face was hard and her eyes set
in a steely glare. "We need to talk."
The Goddess was currently in the middle of a sword fight with
Athena. She looked over her shoulder and called back, "I'm
busy. Please take a seat in the waiting room, and I'll be right
It was the wrong thing to say to her Aunt.
Jadea formed a large ball of energy and launched it at her
niece. Samsara flew backwards, dropping Ares' sword, and fell
onto her back. Athena advanced to take advantage of the
situation, her blade drawn and her face full of victory.
"ATHENA!" Jadea hollered, her voice booming off the
The Goddess of Wisdom jerked her head up to look at Jadea.
She was now standing over a half-stunned Samsara.
"If you have any sense of self-preservation, you'll
leave now "
Reluctantly and with defiance in every aspect of her
demeanor, Athena teleported herself out of the temple. When
she'd left, Samsara got to her feet. She looked for the place
she had dropped Ares' sword. But it wasn't there. Immediately,
her eyes locked onto Jadea.
"It's time for a visit, Samsara." She stated with a
coldness the Goddess hadn't heard from her before.
"I'm not in the mood for-"
"Silence!" Jadea cut her off. "I'll tell you
something, Amazon. I'm not in the mood to grieve for the
loss of another blood relative. So I've decided that since I
can't fix this, it's time for someone else to try."
Before Samsara could say anything to oppose, contest, or
whatever she had in mind - Jadea disappeared. The Goddess, after
a second of total surprise, continued looking for the mantle of
God of War, the sword of Ares. It took her all of three minutes
to realize where it had gone to.
Nodding, she spoke to herself with a thin smile. "Now
that was an impressive trick, Jade." Suddenly Samsara found
herself chuckling. "More than worthy of your reputation, my
Seriana followed Jadea's instructions. It took a bit of
effort on her part. She'd had to track down her Queen before
speaking privately to her. Once Celosia heard the news, she
called in her sister.
Quickly, the Amazons were gathered into camp. Upon a
platform, a recent addition to the camp, stood Queen Celosia. To
her right was her sister Medea. To her left was the Highland
Tribe's Regent Queen, Dolphinea. The majority of Highland
Amazons were positioned in front of Dolphinea while the
Themiscyrans stood in front of Medea and Celosia.
Even the border guards were brought in. Any scouting or
hunting parties were also recalled for this meeting. One of
Themiscyra's finest that was also capable of magic placed a
shield along the border of their land. Angus and Garrett both,
the only two men in their land, also attended. Every Amazon was
accounted for. EVERY Amazon. The wounded were no more, either
now casualties or recovered.
Yet still...there was one Amazon who attended discreetly. Her
Sisters didn't know this, save Celosia and Medea.
Whispers went through the Amazons like wildfire. A drumbeat
silenced them all. Queen Celosia was about to speak.
Appearing on Olympus, the Sorceress Empress was greeted with
a mixture of disapproval and welcome. Some of the Olympians had
personal reasons for disliking her, but the rest disliked her
simply because of her relation to Kakistos.
She noticed Aphrodite's wearied look. Something wasn't right.
But Jadea couldn't deal with it now.
Zeus approached her for a confrontation. She stopped him with
one wave of her hand. "I really wouldn't...if I were
you." Jadea said and then turned to address all the gods
present. "Listen, all of you! If you want things back to
normal - or as normal as that can be - then you'll heed my
advice. Stay out of Samsara's way. Do nothing to antagonize her
anger or provoke her vengeance. Athena lost a great many of her
warriors because of her impulsive act. One that, I might add, we
all know is out of her character," she then paused shortly.
"I will help to reinstate Ares as God of War. I will also
put both Samsara's and Kaia's powers in restraint. And I will
help you gods to recover some of your losses," she stated
with a business-like tone.
"And what, pray tell, will this generosity cost
us?" Zeus asked.
Jadea stared at him intensely. "Zeus! King of the Gods!
My how the mighty can fall!" She laughed to herself and
thought of Rome for some odd reason. At last, she replied,
"If you keep yours in line, I'll keep mine the same."
Her answer was ensued by a pause. "But the first time Ares
incites a war, or one of his men so much as insults an Amazon -
the first time, correction - the NEXT time Athena sends her
loyal followers to march on Amazon lands...the first time ANY
god commits ANY crime against ANY Amazon - I will return
everything back to as it is now. Samsara will be master of you
all And believe me when I say that I shan't a problem with it if
I am crossed on this deal."
Zeus prepared to obstinately refuse and add his own colorful
remarks. Hera interceded. "Your condition is fair. We
accept," she stated honestly. Her husband then turned on
"Since when, wife, do you speak for ALL OF
OLYMPUS?" The King looked as if he might smack her. A very
nasty sight that Jadea wasn't willing to stick around for. But
something happened before the domestic violence could erupt.
Cupid, along with a few other gods, were completely in
agreement with Hera. The former was the spokesmen for the group.
This was strange, but also admirable in a way. Cupid was
generally well liked by the other gods and hardly anyone could
resist his charm. Part of that could've had something to do with
his striking resemblance to Julius Caesar. "Hera's right.
This is the best choice we have."
Behind Cupid, Apollo added, "Not only that, but it's the
only choice we have."
Zeus wouldn't give in, however. "I am the King of the
Gods! I am NOT about to cower to some lowly spawned goddess
Again, Apollo spoke. "Zeus, at least this way we are
insured that Samsara will be taken care of."
The King's anger began to fall slowly. He looked from his
wife to Jadea. She read his eyes and his look.
"Have you a better idea or offer?" She asked
neutrally. He shook his head.
"Very well. So be it." He said. She nodded and
All this began as a mission to rid the world of the Majie.
All this seemed simple at first. But that's the trouble with
simple problems. They can turn complicated in the blink of an
The plan now rested on Ishtar's part, on the gods' agreement,
and on Jadea journeying to the Amazons' Land of the Dead to give
Ares his sword back. She was no going to relish this! Well,
maybe a little of it.
Themiscyra's Queen had a hard look. She had anything but
liked the news Seriana had brought her. Celosia liked it less
that Samsara was out of control. An attack on one of her Amazons
was an attack on all of them. But, naturally, this attack had
"I have called you all here today because among us is a
traitor. And rather than allow you all to go on witch hunts to
find her, thereby dividing us all with hatred and suspicion, I
have decided to take the matter into my own hands," Celosia
declared and paused for breath and emphasis.
Beside the Queen, Medea shifted her weight uncomfortably.
Something was pricking at her mind. And she didn't like it at
Dolphinea made a quick sidelong glance across Celosia. She'd
felt something peculiar as well. She saw now that Medea too had
The Majie spy was present and listening. If only she could be
separated from the other Amazons. If...if...ifs were a major
pain in the ass as far as Medea was concerned. Her eyes scanned
the rows of standing Amazons. Nothing. She couldn't read any
deception in one pair of eyes.
Jadea traveled to the Amazons' Land of the Dead through the
only way immortals could use. She hadn't been warm to the idea
of doing the ritual to cross over because of time constraints.
The wind blew violently and whipped her long hair behind her.
She saw Ares caged by a trap that couldn't be seen. Still, it
was well known to the Amazons that he was bound.
The God's coal black eyes managed to look up the woman who
approached him. His sword was hidden in her possession. She
didn't want him to know right away that she came to bail him out
of his hell.
The Amazons gathered around her immediately. One of them, a
tribal queen, raised her hand to silence them. She knelt down
upon one knee, the other standing, and bowed her head.
"Raise up, my Sister." Jadea softly instructed.
She'd known the Amazon in life.
"Why have you come, Amazon sorceress?" The Queen
asked on both feet.
"To return the balance of power, my Queen. And to allow
you to cross over, at last."
It was true. Ares' deposed godhood and Samsara's initial
replacement of him had prevented the Amazons' spirits from
crossing over. They could now feel no pain, but many felt a
great despair from the thought they may never be freed.
"Ares, look at me," she turned her head from the
Amazons and looked at the God of War with a hardness.
He met her eyes. His bearing looked weak. And somewhere in
the recesses of Jadea's heart, an old feeling resurfaced to her
mind. The feeling, the instinct, the desire to protect a man. It
was a deep sensation rooted in all Amazons. For some, it was
simply buried farther down.
Jadea knew that Amazons were not to be the destroyers of
men...but their protectors. It was a complex thing that had lost
its momentum because of the atrocities men committed against
women over time. They weighed too gruesome and counted too many
for most Amazons to forgive, let alone think about changing
their attitudes toward men.
"I owe you big time," his voice was hoarse when he
"To me, you owe nothing, Ares. To life, you owe all,"
The sorceress said. She closed her eyes and muttered an
incantation to counter the one Samsara had spoken to send Ares
where he now was. It was a difficult task. Her niece had used a
language she knew of but now how to speak. Her own chosen tongue
for the occasion was the most commonly used form of Latin of the
day. Roughly translated, it went:
"Fire and cloud and rain and snow Lift this cage and let
Brief but effective. Ares stumbled once he was freed. He was
but the shell of a immortal right now. His eyes quickly scanned
over the Amazons, then rested on Jadea.
"Silence!" She declared. "You and I are far
from finished, Ares."
Thalia listened to Celosia speak. She unconsciously moved her
hand to one of the wounds on her arm, her encounter from before
still vivid. Taken by surprise, attacked by one of her own
sisters, dragged out into the woods...
She shuddered at the thought of a traitor. Who could she
trust? She had such a strong faith in her sisters, which is why
this had gotten her off guard.
She trusted her sisters, they were the only family she had
really ever known. It angered her to know there was a traitor
among them, a traitor who could hurt her sisters. She eyed the
people around her. Whoever it was, they were a master to get
this deceit into the tribe of Amazons.
Whoever it was, she was determined to find out before any of
her other sisters were hurt. She stepped away from the crowd,
quietly morphing into a rat and scurrying through the tribe...
"I hold your fate in my hands..." Jadea said.
"And you and I are going to get one thing clear if nothing
Ares straightened out. "You want something in exchange
for you giving me my godhood back."
"Very good, war god. Now you'll listen to what I have to
say unless you want a land of very angry dead Amazons to torment
you for the rest of your days. I have your godhood in my
possession and I'm giving it to you on the condition that you
not declare war against my Amazons. Understood? No more
meddling, no more tricks, no more games, UNDERSTOOD?" Oh
she was livid. It was because of Ares that all this happened.
Had he left the Tribes alone, the balance wouldn't have been
upset to begin with. But that was over. She pulled out his
"Fine." His response was curt. "J-Just gimme."
Jadea glared at him.
"W-What? You don't understand what it's like to have
shrieking women angry at you..." He quieted as soon as he
realized who his audience was.
The Sorceress gave him the mantle and as soon as he wrapped
his fingers around the hilt, he felt stronger.
Samsara sat on her throne and felt the urge to reach her hand
into her viewing bowl and strangle him. But she resisted.
"Jadea means well," she thought. "Come in, dear
sister of mine," she called.
Kakistos shuffled in, head slightly down
"And you want to talk to me because..."
"I know who the traitor is."
Those six words made Samsara sit up stiffly. "You,
what?" she demanded. She stood up abruptly and pushed
passed her. "That is it!" She teleported to the scene.
Celosia was in the middle of her speech when the stroke of
lightning fueled fire fell from the sky. The Goddess of
Destruction, Master of War appeared in its place and marched up
through the crowd of Amazons.
"Unbelievable," Xena said. Gabrielle looked on in
"Typical," Medea growled, pulling out one of her
"Refrain," Dolphinea commanded.
Samsara's feet fell hard on the ground as she stomped up to
an Amazon. She grabbed her by the collar. "YOU," she
snarled. She threw the woman down and brandished her staff.
"Division is your way? Coward, prove to me you are
Meanwhile, the Guards drew their bows and arrows, ready to
shoot on command.
The Amazon was on the ground. Her face was contorted into an
angry outlook, her eyes dark and evil.
Samsara keep her eyes trained on the traitor. She had nearly
stepped on Thalia, who deep down relished that she be the one
involved instead of the High Princess in what the Goddess
Kakistos arranged seconds later. The Head Scout was relieved
that she wasn't the challenger.
"Queen Celosia!" Samsara cried. "As an Amazon
of royal standing, I demand to challenge this traitor to a death
The Themiscyrans remained deathly quiet. Xena furrowed her
Gabrielle remembered the last "death" joust. It had
been her versus Melosa and Xena had fought for her. When was the
last time the Themiscyrans witnessed a joust in their borders?
In recent history there had been none.
"Remember Teloan," Medea shouted. "Your Mask
may mean something back where you came from, but here it's not
worth more than the parchment you emboss your insignia on!"
"Celosia, what say you?" Samsara demanded. This
will end NOW, traitor! She thought angrily. Not tomorrow, not
next season, and not diplomatically. This is long overdue.
Oh, Samsara had a plan in mind. She knew how to get rid of
the spirit that plagued this vessel without killing it. Believe
it or not.
The Queen stood on the platform staring at one of her sisters
grabbing hold of the other.
There hasn't been a death joust since she had moved the tribe
here, she thought. Samsara. I don't know if I can let you do
this. Do you understand the implications of this . . .
I understand just perfectly, my Queen.
My Queen. Two little words reverberated in Celosia's head. Then
do as you see fit.
Then do as you see fit, Celosia responded.
I need a declaration, Samsara sent back. "Queen
of Themiscyra, what say you?"
The Queen straightened up. "Samsara, Teloan High
Princess, heiress to the throne, on what grounds do you make
"High Treason: assault of the Head Scout Thalia in the
midst of war!"
The crowd gasped. Now everything was falling into place.
Garrett was especially angry, but that could be dealt with
"I, as Queen of Themiscyra, grant your request, Teloan
High Princess. The battle is to ensue at dusk and to last for
the duration of half a candlemark!"
Samsara smiled. This was it. No more Majie, no more traitors.
Somehow she had to keep the traitor alive. Not a hard task,
after all, Samsara was a goddess. She just had to separate the
evil spirit from the sister.
Queen Celosia had just done something she'd never expected
herself to do - she permitted Samsara to execute her anger as
she pleased. It was a rightful Amazon ritual to declare, still,
Celosia was given many gasps and questioning looks. Not the
least of which was the reaction from Medea.
"What do you think you're doing? You're actually going
to let her do this?"
Samsara grabbed the Amazon's arm and dragged her a few paces.
Suddenly, she stopped and dropped the girl. Something swept
through her repeatedly like the way a cathedral's bell continues
to move after it has been rung.
Ares. She seethed to herself. Not only was he back, as
she'd witnessed that through her viewing bowl, but he was in the
camp. Another presence accompanied his. One that didn't anger
the Goddess, but didn't please her either.
Samsara looked up in time to see the God of War standing
beside the Sorceress Empress. The latter had her sword
brandished and her eyes set upon her niece.
Ares had come as part of his agreement with Jadea. He was
about as thrilled to be in the Amazons' land as the Amazons were
to have him there.
The reaction was mixed. Many Amazons were armed, or
weaponless but still in "attack" mode. Others were
just frozen, like hypnotized bystanders. Perhaps they were
simply awaiting a clear order. None had actually been given yet.
The Amazon traitor lay with her back on the ground. She tried
to rise up when Samsara dropped her arm, but the Goddess placed
her boot firmly down on the girl's chest.
"What's he doing here?" She demanded to
know. Since Jadea was the most obvious candidate to have the
answer, all eyes looked to her.
"I have come to collect what is mine," he stated.
Samsara glared at him. He wasn't speaking like himself. But
the aura, the vibes, the stench...they all leaned toward it
really being him. It then hit the Teloan that he was all
business this time. He was there because Jadea wouldn't have it
any other way.
She lifted an eyebrow and smirked. "Oh, well in that
case...let me help you!" Her sword swung twice around
before plunging downward. The blade penetrated the dirt. She
instantly raised her head up and saw Ares was gone.
"WHAT...IN THE NAME OF HADES DID YOU DO?" She
bellowed at her aunt.
As coolly as possible, Jadea shrugged and replied,
"Relax. I know Ares. He'll be back."
The sorceress was right. He appeared, as if cued, again -
with Kaia Kakistos by his side. His eyes looked only on Jadea.
Shoving his daughter to the ground in front of the sorceress, he
remarked, "The trade is complete," he then vanished.
A bewildered Kaia slowly got to her feet. She saw the staring
Amazons and impulsively charged at them. Kakistos got no more
than three steps before Jadea swiftly knocked her down.
"A word of caution, Kaia." She paused and waited
for her to look up at her. "You're in my backyard
Thalia came up to the sorceress, at last, in her human form.
She'd been, like the majority of the Amazons, stunned by what
just happened. What did you just do? she mentally asked
of her Sister.
I've delayed the last battle of our war against the
Majie...saved Ares' hide...recovered some missing bits of
truth...and a few other unmentionables, she sent back and
took a quick look at Thalia. You all right? She asked
Would you be? The Scout sent back to her. She didn't
get an answer to that one. She didn't really expect one, either.
"Samsara..." Jadea began, noticing that the silence
was no more. Medea, Celosia, and Dolphinea all were well on
their way toward the Goddess and her Aunt.
A very angry, very disappointed, and very disbelieving Kaia
was desperately trying to use her powers against these
"shrieking women." Time and time again, she failed. It
was like she'd been stripped of her powers. She hadn't, though,
really. Jadea had done just as she said to the gods that she
would. She'd restrained Kaia's powers - and Samsara's. And she'd
returned Ares as the sitting God of War.
Ishtar, her Sister, would be called upon to help next.
I suggest you return to Olympus. The other gods will no
doubt wish an audience.
I won't forget this, Samsara, the Great Destroyer,
retorted. She sounded angry, but at whom or for what was known
only to herself. The Goddess teleported herself out of
Themiscyra. She didn't go to Olympus directly. Instead, she
returned to her temple. It was now her temple, and she was a bit
disappointed that Ares didn't attempt to retrieve it from her.
"What the Hades was that, Jadea?" Medea growled
"Medea, stop it," Celosia interjected, but she too
wasn't happy with all this. In her mind, however, it beat the
death joust Samsara had wanted.
Dolphinea kept quiet at first. She'd been given the position
of Queen rather unexpectedly, and she was unsure of her limits
in the matters of other tribes. Although, in this case, it did
spill over into her own.
"No! I want to know!" Medea yelled, her body well
within arm's reach of Jadea.
"Medea, I'm sorry. I was so wrong about you. I thought
your time as Queen of our tribe had broadened your senses. I see
now that it hasn't," the sorceress quipped in a moderate
tone. It was nearest she'd ever come to insulting the Regent.
Now that the Majie threat was over, to the best knowledge of
the Amazons, Medea had no reason for polite formalities.
"That's it!" She cried out and threw three of her
daggers down at Jadea's feet. An unspoken challenge.
Jadea looked up from the blades in the ground to meet Medea's
eyes. "Don't do this, Medea. I'm asking you not to do
The Themiscyran Regent just glared back. Much of her
hostility came from the fact that Samsara was given free range
to do as she pleased. No one kept her in check. She faced no
consequences or punishment for what she did, even to her own
Sisters. Medea was tired of being second best to her sister. She
was tired of the looks, the quiet snide remarks about her, and
the sudden avoidance she got at odd times. The fact that she'd
wanted a showdown with Samsara - but had been denied at the last
possible moment...that made her all the more furious. If she
couldn't have the Amazon goddess bitch, she'd settle for the
next best thing - her aunt.
Unfortunately, Medea's chance was again robbed from her. Xena
ran and flipped over 15 Amazons, her feet landing softly on the
ground in front of Medea. She met the Regent's eyes and gave a
silent message through her own. The Warrior Princess then turned
to Jadea. "If that Amazon really was the Majie traitor, you
know she'll be back."
"I know." Jadea answered almost nonchalantly.
Xena turned her body and eyed Kaia, who bitterly tried to
fight some of the Amazons. Each time she was easily defeated.
And each time the Amazon, Themiscyran or Highlander, failed to
strike a death blow.
"Yes," Jadea quickly replied. A soft sigh escaped
her. "She doesn't know it yet, but she's going to play an
intrinsic part in restoring the Amazons."
Do you have any idea how much I hate this? To her
Sister, Thalia sounded extremely fatigued, but in the way a
soldier continues fighting through hunger and thirst and grief
for fallen comrades. Jadea didn't answer Thalia, but the latter
knew she'd made her point.
It was time for Queen Celosia to get in a word edgewise.
"All right, that's enough of this! I won't have us slitting
each other's throats. Medea, you know that Jadea did what she
felt is best for all of us. The Majie are gone. We no longer
have gods attacking us-"
"Yeah, well Artemis knows how long that'll be
true!" Medea snapped. She was losing some of her anger.
Jadea used her powers to retrieve the Regents three daggers
from the ground. She offered them to their owner with a softened
look. "Regent, I have a story to tell you. It's about this
tribe of women who based the center of their lives on war. Would
you care to hear it?" It was unexpected of the Sorceress
Empress. All her ager and hatred and even the focused solemnity
that battles often had was gone from her voice.
Medea managed an, "All right."
Celosia was pleased. It was certainly a 180 turn for her and
Looks were exchanged between Xena, Celosia, and Dolphinea.
Pretty much they all said the same thing - "Huh? How did
Before the Regent and Sorceress were seen walking away
together, Queen Celosia informed them that a debriefing would be
held at nightfall. During which time, both tribes of Amazons
would celebrate their victory. The leaders would partake of the
festivities only after each part of the story had been told.
Oddly enough, the meeting went smoothly. By the time it
concluded: Xena knew where the plan had gone awry; Medea was on
fair terms with Jadea and later with Seriana, whom Medea was too
pleased had recovered and cleared the Regent's good name;
Celosia had dealt with her reservations about the Sorceress
Empress, Samsara, and the whole bloody business with the Majie;
and Dolphinea had a few tips given to her by Queen Celosia which
made her a little more comfortable with her newly bestowed
Samsara returned to Olympus. As part of her own deal with the
gods, she remained more powerful than Ares. The latter could not
interfere in any way with Amazon affairs. Upon her initial
return to Mount Olympus, Samsara asked Cupid about his mother.
"She is not herself," was all he could say. The
Goddess paid a visit to Aphrodite. She found Cupid spoke the
Using her healing powers, which Jadea had left to her,
Samsara cured the Goddess of Love. Since the Great Destroyer had
been the cause of Aphrodite's sickness, she had the power to
undo the mistake. For her deed, Aphrodite granted Samsara one
wish to be used whenever the Callisto's daughter pleased.