To Stop A Goddess


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.

Ares. Kaia.

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 unwary.

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 asked.

"Yeah, how did you know?" The Goddess seemed surprised.

"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 misdeeds."

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 within candlemarks.

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 new recruits.

The men sat in silence, watching and listening to the speaker intently.

"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 elite!"


"Did I miss anything?" Seriana asked as she interrupted her aunts with the dense thuds of Deinus' hooves in the moss.

"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 combination."

"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 escapade."


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 wake."

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 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, soon."


In Themiscyra...

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 Thalia.

"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 asked quietly.

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 facial expression.

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 smirk.

"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 it.

"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 me."

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 finish.

Shhh...simply concentrate. The rest will take care of itself.

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 gentle breeze.

"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 mine."

Ishtar's eyes moved from Seriana to the Sorceress. "Such grimness, Jadea. Dare I ask what could befall you to turn your heart?"

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 mind.

"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 her?"

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, 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 noted.

Jadea smiled and shook her head. "Actually, it's a recent development."

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 village already."

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 and departed.


On Olympus...

"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 span.

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." Athena quipped.

"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 interested.

"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 were."

"I understand, sire. I won't speak of it again."


In Themiscyra...

Medea came out of the command tent. The Elder Serena was waiting to cross her path outside. She had yet to return to Teloq.

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 arrogant and fiery Teloan Elder goes and gets sincerely sappy. Humph! It's almost as though she likes us Themiscyrans. Go figure.

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 reddened.

"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.

"Turn around...slowly."

He complied.

"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 return the-"

"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."


Outside Teloq…

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, right?"

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!

Seriana didn't.

"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. "Fine."


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. Understood?"

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 gleeful smile.

"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 spirit..."

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 done."

"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 speak.

Suddenly the walls began to shake. All of Olympus was shaking.

"Sam," Kaia urged. "You have to fix this. Olympus is falling and that can't happen for a long while, you know this."

"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 than ordained.

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 said.

"And what would you want? Another kiss from your blood niece? You are almost as disgusting as that man burning in there."

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 Kakistos."

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 Father."

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 guardedly.

"If you're not part of the solution," she continued, "then you become part of the problem." She walked away.


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 they endured.

"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 life."

Ares shook his head. "Come on... I don't advocate that at all!"

"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 life.

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 repeated arguments.

Ares looked at her in disbelief. "You would help me?"

"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 else entirely.

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 closer.

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 goddesses.

When Samsara finally realized that Athena wasn't going anywhere...

"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 things."

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 the facts.

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 reached her.

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 mind?"

"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 with you."

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 temple walls.

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 Aunt."


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 her.

"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 bitch."

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 vanished.


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 eye.

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 been different.

"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 all.

Dolphinea made a quick sidelong glance across Celosia. She'd felt something peculiar as well. She saw now that Medea too had sensed something.

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 spoke.

"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 war go"

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 else."

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 sword.

"Fine." His response was curt. "J-Just gimme." Typical Ares.

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 disbelief.

"Typical," Medea growled, pulling out one of her six daggers.

"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 not!"

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 joust!"

The Themiscyrans remained deathly quiet. Xena furrowed her brows.

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 this request?"

"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 later.

"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 now."

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 worriedly.

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 lividly.

"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 this."

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.

"Is she-"

"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 the Amazons.

Looks were exchanged between Xena, Celosia, and Dolphinea. Pretty much they all said the same thing - "Huh? How did THAT happen?"

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 responsibility.

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 truth.

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.



What Little Goddesses

Mischief and Mayhem


All material contained in these archives belong to the authors who created them and the community they wrote them for. Removing, reprinting or reposting these stories in whole or in part is copyright theft. ©1999-2010 Themiscyra Amazons