Samsara prepared to knock on Jade's door when it slightly
opened on its own. She pushed the door a little more and walked
in. She supposed it a welcome. It probably wasn't meant to be
one, but the Teloan wasn't known for walking on eggshells.
The room was quiet and well lit. The Latra was deep in
thought but it seemed that her niece Tae'Nah interrupted her.
Samsara felt that she had come on the heels of someone. She
could sense whom, and she didn't like the knowledge.
Samsara sniffed the air. "What business did Domaris have
here?" she asked sharply. Her voice had an edge of
protectiveness. Her aunt's odd state was now beginning to make
sense to her. Domaris had said something entirely unpleasant,
and Sami wasn't leaving until she got the full story. "I
swear that Protectress' title's got the best of 'er..."
The Cirran's stern look stopped the Teloan from going any
further. Samsara shrank a couple of inches, but stood straight
again. Jadea moved slightly, looking into her clay bowl again,
then away. It was as if she didn't know what to do with herself.
The Themiscyran Queen put her hands out.
Athanase understood the gesture and handed her daughter to
her Aunt. The movement was quiet, methodical almost. It was
simply handing a child to another person, but there was
something symbolic about it. As if Samsara was trusting Jadea,
and only her, with the care of her daughter. The Teloan shook
the thought out of her head. That wouldn't make any sense. Why
would Jadea be the only person she could trust? Nina was a
worthy caretaker as was Selena. She could name others that were
trust-worthy enough to watch over the young one. What would
happen to them that would make Jadea the only choice?
"So, what is it?" she pressed again. "What did
the Protectress have to say that's made you like this?"
"Have you talked to your sisters about your trip to
Ankara? Have you explained to them your reasons for going, told
them any stories, offered them the presents you bought?"
Athanase cocked her head in complete confusion. "Excuse
me?" I mean, Jade works in mysterious ways and has her
reasons, but, damn it, what the Hades is all this about?
"Just answer my question," she didn't need to be
stern to get her point across.
"Oh, uh, not really, no. I mean, I came back from a war
right in the middle of another one," she paused. "I
know, it’s no excuse. I've had a lot of time and I apologize
for not using it wisely." She felt sheepish. The only
person she had given anything to was Selena. And that fabric,
all the work the Cumae Paros put into the new outfits for the
Winter Solstice . . . gone.
"Talk to them first. Then I'll tell you what's on my
mind," she turned her back to Samsara, signaling that the
conversation was over and the orders given.
Sami wanted to ask for Karma back, but that didn't seem like
part of the plan. She turned and left the Latra to her thoughts.
She whistled for Bodhi and he followed. It was late at night!
Who would she talk to now and not distract? Besides, Karma was
sleepy. It was time for her to get to bed. But Jadea would take
care of it.
Almost listless - such may be the life of a Teloan Queen -
Samsara decided to stick her nose where it didn't belong.
Faela was stunned! She had talked to Ryka after her talk with
Valkyra and decided to skip the first lesson of the new language
class. Instead, she sat in her bedroom, trying to get over the
"Me, Chief Huntress?" She found herself asking over
and over again. Night had truly fallen when Faela emerged from
"I had better go and tell Morigan I'm sorry for missing
work today. She won't mind, but I should still apologize,"
Faela said to herself as she casually walked towards the
"Faela! Wait up!" Deirdre's young voice called
behind her, Faela stopped and waited for her friend to catch up.
"What is it? You look like someone announced you Queen
of the world," Faela said, a happy smile on her face.
"I sort of was. Valkyra has offered me the position as
head of the dancers, isn't it great!" Deirdre said a smile
from one side of her face to the other.
"That's excellent! You're great at dancing, I'm sure
you'll be great at you're new job," Faela said as she and
Deirdre entered the stables.
They were empty.
"Perhaps Morigan went to bed. I'll speak with her in the
morning," Faela said, a confused look on her face.
It was night when Morigan woke up. Kou and Venny were sitting
beside her. Kou reached down toward Morigan at the same time
Venlusia moved her sister’s hair out of her face.
"How are you sis?" Venlusia whispered.
"What happened?" Morigan turned to Kou then back to
"Cassia said you were dizzy then you became delirious.
You mentioned something in Celtic about altars and blood. Then
you fell asleep."
Morigan got back up leaning on her elbows. "I can't
remember," Morigan shrugged "I feel fine I
guess." She smiled and looked outside. "Honestly, I've
never felt better."
Venlusia looked at Kou, then Kou turned back to Morigan.
"Cassia said it would be better for you to spend the night
here, and then we'll see how you are tomorrow."
Morigan sat up on the bed and looked at the Isandil Archila.
"Venny really, plie'ra kala." Really, I'm fine.
Morigan turned to Kou "Deirfiúr mé am breá" Sister
I am fine.
"Kanete tu, Morigan?" Venlusia looked at her
"Nai!" Morigan replied with a smile.
At that Kou got up and stretched. "Well I better get
back to Deoris, we were in the middle of something when I was
called. Kalos kalinihta, Venlusia and Morigan."
"Kalos kalinihta, Kou," Morigan and Venlusia said
in unison. As Kou left the sisters burst out in laughter.
"I never thought we would start the speaking together
thing," Venlusia giggled.
Morigan hugged her sister and smiled. "Thanks, Venny,
for being here."
Venlusia, feeling a little uncomfortable replied back.
"That's okay, sis. Now let's get to sleep. If you want to
get back to work tomorrow, you need to rest."
Morigan sighed and agreed. "Venny."
There was a long pause as Venny turned back to look at her
sister. "Nai?" Venlusia smiled.
Morigan bit her lip before she decided to talk again. "I
think it was Radicus' doing," Morigan lay back down on her
"Yes I know," Venlusia whispered so that Morigan
couldn't hear her.
Well, this is uncomfortable, Deoris thought. "Did
you want some tea?" she asked. Her guest nodded, fingers
drumming impatiently on the arm of the satin-covered chair.
The Priestess wandered over to her sisters' shelves and got
the supplies. "Domaris has been showing me how to brew
it," she said, moving around the room. "It's amazing
how you never know you don't know something until someone asks
you to do it. Brew tea, pick up the room, clean your clothes . .
." she trailed off.
Samsara eyed the delicate porcelain teapot with suspicion.
"Where did that come from?"
"I don't know, honestly. Stuff just appears for her. She
points her finger and there it is. Curtains on the bed and rugs
on the floor and the walls move out," Deoris looked at each
item in turn, then down at the pot. She put the rose-patterned
object on the delicate wood table. "Poof, there's a teapot
and her favorite tea."
The Teloan Latra glanced over at Deoris' own belongings, a
rough wood cot and hand-hewn chair, a pile of leathers and some
rickety shelving. She raised her eyebrows at the Ti'Sa.
"Yeah, well, I don't ask Artemis for stupid things. I've
a whole tribe to care for, don't I?"
Samsara leaned back in the chair and began thrumming again.
"That's true enough, I suppose. She could at least offer
you a better bed," she inclined her head.
"Oh, that's all right. I'm fine just the way I am,"
she poured the now hot water into the teapot. The aroma of
licorice and mint filled the hut.
Domaris materialized in her usual chair. "Only one
dollop of honey for me, athelfi," she said.
"Tepae, athelfi. We have a guest," Deoris nodded
toward the Teloan.
"I know, little kitten. Finish pouring the tea and leave
Samsara to me. Kou and her mother are expecting you for the
"Kou wanted me to stay over? She didn't say anything
"She's going to keep you talking all night anyhow, so
you might as well go prepared. Gather your . . ." the
Protectress' voice trailed off as she glanced over in Deoris'
corner. "I see you've been busy, Latra."
Samsara took the cup of tea. "Efharisto tu, Deoris.
We'll have a chat another day, soon. For now, do what your
Deoris shrugged and turned, noticing the change to her side
of the room for the first time. A solid wooden bed covered with
a thick down mattress and a patterned quilt replaced her little
cot and furs. A sturdy rocking chair stood where her dilapidated
one had been. A cabinet of oak hung on the wall, her ointments
and ceremonial herbs neatly arranged behind the open doors.
She turned back. "Latra Samsara," she started.
"Forget it for now, Deoris. Go on, Kou's waiting."
"Right, Kou, sure," she moved to her corner and
gathered her thick woolen coat and staff. Moving around the
table, she went out into the night.
Domaris waved a hand and sealed the room. "So, what did
you want to see me about?" she asked the Teloan Queen.
"Taking us out of time, are you?" Samsara took a
sip of the hot tea. Not to her liking, but not horrible. She
added another dollop of honey.
"I didn't want this to take TOO long. And I know how you
do go on," the Protectress stated.
Samsara refused to rise to the bait. "Let's get down to
it, then, Sorceress."
Deoris found her way to Kou's new hut, the Isandil Archila
having decided to take up residence near the sauna, behind the
Tribal Hut. She remained close to the temporary school this way,
available when her students would need her.
They talked well into the night, Deoris relating how she had
been blinded and then dedicated to Artemis. She told with relish
the story of how she had been given not only her sight, but also
her sister. Kou shared her adventures in the world, a place
Deoris knew little about. She spoke of her own dedication and of
lands exotic and strange.
They spoke about the people they had known and about the ones
they knew now. Sometime around dawn they finally allowed
exhaustion to overcome them and lull them into a sleep that
would last until afternoon.
Despite her exhaustion, Venlusia remained awake for an hour
or so before slumber overcame her body. She had vague dreams and
partial flashbacks of conversations she’d had with her sister.
All of it was jumbled, really, and by the time she awoke,
Venlusia remembered very little of her dreams.
In the Queen's Hut...
The Latra wondered where Samsara was. It was unlike her
protective niece to leave Karma unguarded so long. There was
little help for it, as the child was already asleep in her bed.
She set her work aside and climbed in next to the toddler.
The next afternoon found Jadea sitting in a chair
thoughtfully studying Karma, who was playing, or rather
attempting to work, with a dormant wand. Each time she pointed
at something and tried to zap it, nothing happened. Yet Ishtar's
daughter did not give up, and after each failed attempt, she
would change a variable in her method. Sooner or later, she
might get it to work.
As she watched Karma, Jadea thought of her own daughter. How
old would she be now? Too many years, too many to sort
out. Even Jadea's own age seemed like a vague number.
She isn't dead. She's isn't dead. Can it be true? How could
she be alive and I not know? The Sorceress Empress wondered
and the answer struck her almost immediately. She's been
hidden from my sight. Intentional deception - this is the work
of her father!
Just then, Karma turned around, pointed the wand at Jadea,
and said, "Luibh!"
The word caught Jadea off guard, likewise the sudden
intensity with which Karma delivered it. The former jumped an
inch and looked wide-eyed at the child. She noticed the wand -
the supposedly dormant and useless except as ornament or toy
It . . . glowed.
"Nai?" She responded, also watching the wand but
with more wonder and curiosity than the concern of Jadea.
"How do you know that word?" The Amazon sorceress
asked, slowly approaching Karma and watching as the wand glowed
Karma's eyes came up to the Latra. They were lit and she
smiled, but she didn't answer. Before Karma could respond, an
alarming sound came from outside the hut.
Having woken up from her restless slumber, Venlusia climbed
out of bed and grabbed her weapon off the nearby table. The hut
Venlusia slept in had been too quiet last night because of the
absence of her sister.
"What happened to Morigan?" Venlusia thought,
opening the door to her hut to walk outside in the great the
"Whoa!" Venlusia squeaked, as her unprepared eyes
met the rays of the morning sun. She continued her way towards
the training ground.
Having neglected her duties for too long, Venlusia started to
spar with some Amazons, teaching quite a few of them some new
tricks. She then went to the shooting range and picked up a bow
and loaded it with an arrow.
"Been a while since I exercised with one of these,"
she said to herself. Once again, Venlusia got used to the feel
and power of the bowstring as she pulled the arrow back and
aimed at the bull's-eye. She let the arrow go and it went
sailing through the air and landed centimeters from the
"Well, I will have to improve that, now won't I?"
She chuckled to herself, as she placed the bow and arrow back on
Venlusia was still worried about Morigan. She told her she
had a feeling Radicus had something to do with her sudden wave
of dizziness. When Morigan said she had a feeling, her feelings
often proved to be right.
A sudden wave of nervousness hit Venlusia just then, and she
had to lean against a nearby hut to keep her knees from buckling
over. "I need to talk to Morigan," Venlusia mumbled to
herself, as she passed by and bumped into many of her Amazon
When she finally got to the Med hut, she opened the door and
walked in. "What's up, sis?" Venlusia asked cheerfully
to hide her sudden panic.
"Oh, well, getting better Venny," Morigan said as
she smiled at her sister. Morigan frowned and looked at
Venlusia. What's going on in that head of yours Venny?
Morigan thought as her sister came and sat by her cot.
"It sure is boring without ya, Mori. No matter how
annoying you are, I can always tell when you aren't around. It's
just too quiet!" Venlusia giggled and watched her sister's
face turn red.
"Well, you know I try," Morigan commented back,
returning the smile. "Has anything strange happened last
night Venlusia? Anything?" Worry was in her voice again.
"Um, well, I dreamt last night. I don't remember what it
was about. I had this strange feeling. But I am sure it wasn't
anything," Venlusia said hastily.
"Oh," Morigan paused, thinking. "Well, we need
to watch out still. Radicus will not give up until he gets what
he wants," Morigan said.
"Oh, don't I know it, Morigan. And he could strike anyt
. . ." Venlusia trailed off, a panicked look coming over
her face and eyes dilated.
"Venny!" Morigan shouted while her sister convulsed
in the chair next to her. "Help!" She yelled again, as
she heard the most alarming sound coming from outside.
Faela and Deirdre went back to the hut after leaving the
stables. They stayed up late into the night talking until they
finally feel asleep just as the sun came up.
Deirdre was gone when Faela crawled out of bed. Probably
gone to annoy everyone in the mess hall, Faela thought,
looking at the harshly bright sunlight that filtered through her
Faela looked across the room to her new crossbow. An hour of
hunting sounded very tempting, and she could be back in time to
go to the new language class. Faela slung the crossbow onto her
back and put a handful of bolts into a quiver. Attaching it to
her waist, Faela walked into the sunlight and headed to the
"Perhaps after the midday meal, I'll see Mori,"
Faela said to herself.
"Me' foghlaim my own language, pha!" Faela said,
using a mix of Latin and her normal Gaelic. "Oh well, I
guess I can teach Deirdre, then she'll know what I'm
Faela explained her business outside the gates to a guard.
She was reminded to return before dark and to avoid the
soldier's camp. Agreeing, she walked out the gates and headed to
"Oh, come on Toria! It's nearly mid-day! Aren't thieves
supposed to be light sleepers or something?" Dria tugged at
the furs wrapped around her sister, trying to get her to get up.
Toria groaned and answered, "Just because we're light
sleepers doesn't mean we don't like to sleep in. It just means
we're light sleepers."
Dria knelt down beside Toria's bed, more a nest than a bed
though, where she thought Toria's head was. "I'll ask Ryka
to make you some pancakes."
Toria's head popped up from the opposite side of the bed.
"With the little berries?"
"Uh-huh, and honey smothered all over them too."
"Oh, and a cup of that nice warm drink from India,
"Whatever you want," Dria concluded.
Dria barely finished by the time Toria was dressed and
pulling on her boots. Toria stood straight again eyeing her
sister critically. "Are you coming or not? Ryka isn't very
likely to be filling orders for me, is she?"
"So what was that business with Jadea about?"
Cassia asked later as she and Toria stood preparing a mixture of
diadell root and gungai stalks.
"Just a letter that had been delivered to her, that's
"I don't know, Dria read it not me," Toria didn't
lift her head from the preparation.
"What, was it for her?" Cassia was confused.
"No, it was for both of us."
"You didn't read it?" Cassia was amazed. Toria was
usually very stubborn about knowing everything.
"I just didn't, all right?" Toria threw down the
knife she was cutting the roots with and moved over to the fire
stirring a pot boiling over the fire.
"Oh, come on. You always know what's going on,"
Cassia pressed, knowing something more was going on than Toria
"I can't read, all right?" Toria threw down the
stirring rod and stormed over to the window. "I can't
read," she repeated.
"But you read all those medicine scrolls I give
you," Cassia prompted.
"Dria reads them to me, I only study the diagrams,"
Toria mumbled, picking at the splinters of wood in the window
frame. "That's why I don't want to go to the language
lessons. They'll all think I'm stupid or something. I may not be
as good a thief as Autolycus or an assassin as Jett, but I do
have some dignity. They'd all laugh at me. 'Toria can't read!
What a laugh! She's such a goof!'" Toria copied the laugh
of one of her more annoying Sisters. "I couldn't stand it
if they did that to me."
Toria looked out the window she spotted something outside,
her eyes widening, and the breath catching in her throat.
"Cassia," she waved the Archila Keturah over.
"Look . . ."
Selena lifted her head slowly from her pillow. Sighing she
turned to lay on her side, the light shone right through the
window of her room, causing her to cover her face with her arm.
She groaned and sat up rubbing her eyes. For a few moments
she sat in silence. Worry knitted her brows together as she
didn't hear Karma's morning babble. Maybe I've over slept.
She grabbed her boots from the door, she pulled them on and
tied up the laces. Exiting her room she looked around, the place
was empty, making her even more concerned.
Once outside, she looked around. Everything looked normal,
but was it? A question that rotated round and round her
mind. Several athelfi’s greeted her whilst she made her way to
the Queens hut.
She noticed a number of the Tae'Nah children running around.
Two of the young girls almost knocked over an older woman. The
children apologized and just as quickly carried on with their
No matter how much worry there was on her mind, she couldn't
help smiling to herself.
She reached the Queen's hut and noticed the guards. She had
almost made her mind up about visiting Jadea, but then she
changed it. She didn't want to have to contend with guards to
speak with the Latra.
Something odd is going on, she thought. Suddenly she
heard a giggle from inside Jadea's hut and recognized it as
Karma's. She breathed a sigh of relief and walked the long way
around to the center of the village.
The fire was out cold from last night and only a few Amazons
were around. She acknowledged their presence and sighed. A few
moments later there was crash of lightening and another sound,
something that sent a shiver down her spine as her head swung to
stare in the direction where the noise had come from.
Deep breaths escaped her mouth as she began to panic. Her
face lost its color as her eyes widened. Selena shook her head
in disbelief. "You . . . you were only a dream. How can you
be real? You were just a dream!"
The figure walked towards her as Selena stood firmly to the
spot. The sun caused a shadow to be cast on to the ground,
something long reached out towards the young Amazon . . .
Seriana heard the crash, and for a moment thought of
lightning, but quickly dismissed it. In an active Amazon Village
loud noises were common, and could usually be explained. And if
they couldn't be explained, well, they were probably none of her
That was why, lying in the tall grass near the farthest
corner of the horse paddock, she barely stirred in response. She
had concerns of her own. For two days now she had lain here,
moving only every few hours to hear the reports of the watches.
She hadn't eaten or trained. She'd just been lying there,
smelling the grass, listening to her village, and trying to
The crash from somewhere off in the village had awakened her
from her half-doze, which was what her meditations seemed to
keep turning into. It was hard not to fall asleep, with the
midday sun hot on one's face and the sweet smelling grass all
around. She had progressed no further in her quest for her own
abilities. Whether that was because of inability or
unwillingness, she couldn't tell. If it was unwillingness, it
was so much a part of her that changing the reflex that
suppressed her abilities was next to impossible.
She rolled over and put her chin on her stacked fists. She
was getting nowhere. She'd been lying here for days, solitary
and hidden, trying to find clarity and ending up with nothing.
She was a common mortal, an empty shell, lying on the ground
wiggling her toes inside of her boots and wondering what on
earth to do with herself.
Then she rolled over again and sat up. This was pointless.
She would just have to go and tell Jadea that she couldn't do
it, that was all, and concentrate on being a competent watch
mistress instead of a half-useless magician.
Deinus raised his head and whickered at her.
Seri froze. Since that night when she'd thrown away her
divine half, Deinus had ignored her and tried to kill her by
turns. He'd been without a rider since that day, since anyone
powerful enough to handle him had a war-stallion of her own. But
as she watched, he trotted over to her and nosed her, snorting.
She hardly dared breathe. In a flash she remembered how much she
loved this horse, all they had been through together, how close
they had been. Curse the powers, curse the gods, curse all of
it! All she wanted was her horse back!
She threw her arms around his ebony neck and rubbed her cheek
against him. He didn't protest, just pulled up a little to
encourage her to stand on her feet. She did so, then hopped onto
his back and flung her leg over until she was settled astride.
This was how it had been -- she and he together, Deinus the
Terrible and Seriana the Princess of the Curse, before a
thousand armies, with nothing to stand in their way but Ares
She blinked a little and came to herself. She hadn't reveled
in those memories in years. She hated them. That was just wrong.
Deinus stamped and fidgeted. She had no tack for him, no
means of control. This proved a problem a second later when he
sprinted straight across the enclosure, stirring up the mares,
wheeled about, sprinted the length of it again and jumped the
"Stop! Deinus, Deinus, stop!" Seri was screaming,
clinging to his chest with all the strength in her knees, trying
to pull on his mane in lieu of reins. There was no way she could
reach his halter, he was stretched out his full length, in a
dead sprint. He jumped the corral gate and dropped down on the
other side, making a beeline for the open gates. He streaked
past the guard and out into the forest beyond the village,
barely slowing to swerve trees and jump obstacles that stood in
Deinus had never done anything remotely like this. She was
trying not to panic but failing, as it became more and more
evident that she would be dead before he slowed.
Remember this? The speed, the power? Remember being
invincible? Remember no death? His pounding hooves seemed to
say as they raced along.
She did. It came back to her in a rush like the adrenaline in
her blood, like the wind in her face. All the battles she
wouldn't talk about, all the feelings and the addictions she had
never mentioned to anyone - blocked out, suppressed, forgot.
When life was like a drug, the raw awesome existence of power,
of which her silly fire-throwing abilities were the merest
residue. She was not anything other than herself, she didn't
revert to an earlier version of her life, but she remembered.
And the memory declared that, for good or evil, nothing was
The pleading scream became one long, awesome shriek that the
woods swallowed and forgot. Suffocated in memories and by the
sound of herself shrieking, she slipped from Deinus' back and
was unconscious before she hit the ground.
She woke up. That was a feat in itself, considering how fast
she'd been going when she fell. Luckily she'd landed on soft,
thick moss, as dense as a mattress, and though she was viciously
sore she was not really hurt. Deinus was nowhere in sight, and
she was a long way from the village.
Wincing, she got to her feet. Nothing for it but to walk
She headed for the village, orienting herself by the sun,
which was leaning into afternoon. The trees were thick here --
how Deinus had sprinted through it she would never know.
She walked for quite some time, tracking Deinus’ trail in
their wild ride from the village. So Seriana didn't see the
young woman until she shoved away from a nearby tree and
collapsed in a heap practically at the Watchmistress’ feet.
Though on her feet, the girl was thin as a rail and bearing a
pack far too heavy for her. She'd been leaning against a tree to
catch her breath, which was why she'd been nearly invisible. As
soon as she moved, Seri was aware and her knife flicked out into
her hand. The girl posed no threat, though. She moved into
Seriana’s vision, swayed for a moment, and collapsed to the
Knife still out, Seri knelt next to her and felt her pulse.
She was alive, just exhausted beyond belief and soundly
Hoof beats sounded in the dense ground cover, and she looked
up to see a horse she first mistook for her own. A black
war-stallion saddled and bridled as though for a long journey
came closer to the collapsed girl. Unlike her Deinus, the
stallion looked as exhausted as the girl, and swayed on his
Seri left the weary woman lying where she was and went to
catch the horse. The woman needed nourishment and warmth, and
needed to be taken to the village as soon as possible, and the
Watchmistress certainly wasn't going to carry her.
In another part of the forest . . .
Faela lay in wait by a deer trail. At least twice a day, a
local herd would pass this way on their way to the Thermadon to
drink. All Faela had to do was wait.
A crash! As loud as thunder, coming from over by the village.
Faela looked up into the sky, she didn't see any rain clouds but
that didn't mean that one of the Goddesses in camp wasn't upset
at something. Faela shook her head and concentrated on the deer
trail. The crash had sent the animals sprinting in different
Faela cursed, then stood, her eyes trained on a doe that was
sprinting passed her hiding place. Her eye trained the crossbow
onto the beast and was about to fire, when a loud, painful
whimpering, distracted her.
Losing sight of her prey, Faela dropped her arm down and
cursed again, looking around for where the noise had come from.
She stalked through the undergrowth, humming a tune as she
moved. Why she was humming she had no idea, it just made sense
to her to do so.
Faela noticed a movement in the long grass on her right.
Pushing it aside, Faela knelt down. It was a wolf cub, very
young, she guessed around seven weeks old, but there was
something wrong with it. It whimpered again and Faela could see
why. Its front right leg was lying at an impossible angle. The
poor thing had broken its leg.
"Well, I can't leave you here on you own," Faela
said, getting down to the pups level. Humming a tune of calming
and sleeping, relaxing and peace, soon the pup was close to
asleep and she was able to pick it up.
"Let's get you to Toria, she'll know how to fix you
up," Faela said. Pushing the crossbow over her shoulder and
ignoring the pain in her arm, she began to walk back to camp.
There was a slight click as the bone slid back into place, a
heart-wrenching whimper going with it. "Be glad your little
friend here is only a pup. Otherwise we would never get this leg
healed properly. We would probably have to wrap a leather thong
round its mouth to keep it from biting me," Toria raved on
as she continued her examination of the furry little body.
"You are a pretty little beastie, aren't you? Hmm,"
Toria turned to Faela standing at her shoulder. "You'll
have to keep the little critter somewhere warm and comfortable
for three weeks. And I would suggest you don't touch these
bandages till I say. They have to be tight or it won't heal
right, and this cutie pie's a little too small for a splint to
Faela watched Toria's face as she wrapped the linen bandages
around the tiny leg. "You really enjoy this, don't
you?" Faela smiled.
Toria smiled back. "Not half as much as when I get to
take the bandages off, and the little mite is all better,"
she answered. "Here you are." She gathered the little
bundle of fur in her arms and handed it over to Faela. "You
should maybe think of a name."
Toria scratched the wolf-pup between the ears. "Get Ryka
to prepare it some bead and goody, which is just bread soaked
with warm milk. Make sure she doesn't put in anything but bread
and milk. You'll have to start it on raw meat in a few weeks,
its teeth are coming in." She gently placed a finger tip in
the pups mouth pushing back the lip so Faela could see the clean
white edges pushing through the gums that would in less than two
months become a worry to all the Amazon mothers.
Bodhisattva was a wolf and when he sensed another wolf in the
village, he made sure he was there to meet it. He sniffed the
air, wandering around until he found the new, but familiar,
scent near the animal enclosures. He padded softly up behind
Toria and Faela, and watched them handling the pup with concern
in his eyes. As soon as he heard the soft crack of Toria putting
the bone back into place, he stood at attention on all fours and
watched protectively as the Dacian handed the pup to Faela.
"You know, I don't know how Samsara likes you," she
said, barely turning around. "You eavesdrop as much as I
do!" She smiled though once she saw him there. "Think
we found a daddy for the little guy?"
Faela wasn't sure, so Faela didn't respond. She simply
shrugged and stared adoringly at the pup. "Bread and
milk," she said quietly.
Bodhisattva walked to Faela and climbed up her body on his
forelegs for a viewing of the injured one. He brought a paw to
the little one who responded back with a playful bite. It was
half-asleep, but it certainly had its instinct of play. When
Bodhi was satisfied with what he saw, he jumped back down on all
his legs and waited for Faela to move.
"I suppose you'll help me out a little with him, won't
you?" she asked the large wolf. She turned to the animal
healer. "Efharisto tu, Toria!"
"Don't mention it."
The three walked out of the enclosures into the mid-afternoon
day. "I hope Deirdre won't mind if I keep him in our hut
for a while."
Bodhi barked in response. Faela didn't understand, so she
just shook her head and walked along. Samsara's hound stopped
and sniffed the air slightly, but seemed to dismiss whatever had
caught his attention, for he was more concerned with the new
In another part of the village, Samsara had been tending to
Prince outside of the stables. She had left Domaris' in a huff.
She didn't like what the Protectress had to say one bit.
She had been humming a melody to her horse when she heard the
loud crash and turned to her right. She could see Selena and she
seemed to be fearful of someone, but she didn't see whom. After
a moment's glance, she finally made out a reflection of someone.
And no one else could see her. She could see Selena's face twist
Athanase dropped the comb she was using and made to head to
the center of the village. It was then that she felt a shriek
that snapped her attention and brought her focus onto it. She
felt it, for it wasn't something anyone was able to hear. She
felt a flash, a breeze of power. She could smell it almost. She
was caught in a dilemma here. Go see what was wrong with her hut
mate, or go investigate that flash and shriek she felt.
"Selena's got Athelfi around her," she commented
out loud. "They can help her." In one fluid motion,
she swung onto her Pegasus and kicked her heels into him. He
bobbed his head once, sending his demonic black hair flying all
about and launched into a gallop. He hopped over the barriers
and out the open front gates, maneuvering his lithe body passed
the trees. After a moment in the woods she knew - she was
following her sister Seri.
Faela climbed the stairs to her hut carefully, making sure
not to jerk the puppy in any way. "You're a lot heavier
then you look," Faela said to the little fur ball as she
pushed open the door with her elbow and put the pup on the
floor. It walked, uncertainly on its bandaged leg, them began to
sniff and explore.
"I hope Deirdre likes dogs," Faela said, chasing
after the puppy before it could pull the sheets off her bed.
"Now, I have to find you a name," she said, stroking
the puppy's soft fur as it curled up in the makeshift bed Faela
had constructed of old sheets and furs.
Over in Samsara's hut there was a humming coming from inside.
Latrina was humming to herself while she cleaned the hut.
Samsara was kind enough to let her stay in her hut while she got
used to her new life in the Themiscyra tribe. All of the sisters
had been warm in welcoming her to their tribe. "The least I
can do is show my gratitude by cleaning the hut," Latrina
Bodhisattva had come in, and now sat watching Latrina and her
cleaning antics with amusement. "I believe you are laughing
at me Bodhisattva. I guess that it is pretty funny since this
hut is already pretty clean. I would be laughing at me
too," Latrina said with a pat on his head.
It had been an easy task to do since Samsara had left to see
her horse Prince early this morning. She must really love
that horse to leave so early, Latrina thought to herself.
For some reason, Latrina had an idea that horse tending was
not the only thing Samsara was up to. But she refused to be
nosy. She was still a newcomer here, after all. Besides, she had
had that lesson taught to her at a young age from her mother.
"Never stick your nose in others people business,
Latrina. All that will get you is the chance to come to an
untimely end," her mother's voice sang through her head.
Thinking of her mother made her sit down and she started to
cry. Her mourning had been cut short when Rumor had taken
control of the tribe. "Why was it that she was taken from
me? Wasn't she suppose to stay with me and guide me in the right
direction?" With this thought she couldn't help but scream.
Cassia tried not to worry about Iona. She was fine, Toria
looked after her when Cassia herself could not. She kept
repeating that in her mind as she walked around the Med hut,
checking on her patients and treating them where needed. But her
mind was never far from the young girl in the back room.
It was, after all, because of her that Iona was here in the
first place. She'd come to tell the truth about Naiya's
circumstances to Doron, and Doron had come after Cassia. If she
had never left Aria, neither one of them would be where they
were now. Iona wouldn't have gotten pregnant and Doron wouldn't
be risking his life in Samsara's army.
But then she would be married to Galen, and no force on
Olympus would make her take that fate. Not knowing what she knew
now. And Naiya would be dead. And she would never have gotten to
know the girl in her back rooms. So, if she had to choose fates,
neither one seemed appealing. She was hesitant to say either of
them was better.
She had to admit, though, that despite the pregnancy, Iona
was happier here. Lighter, more capricious.
And Cassia herself had found a niche that she could call her
Doron was less fatalistic, though Cassia could tell that he
was still clinging to the memory of her sister. But at least he
had something else to concentrate on instead of his grief, and
that helped. Also his vicinity to Naiya, being close to his
daughter was a healing experience for him, and she was grateful
In fact, Ana had been in earlier, and suggested that she
might take her niece to see her father. Cassia hadn't seen
anything wrong with that, so long as the rules regarding visits
were followed. However, she wondered what caused Ana's sudden
interest in Doron. He certainly didn't seem to be her type.
Anatolia was walking with Brenna and Miday to the soldiers'
camp and endured their teasing as she went.
"Don't think we don't know what's going on, Ana,"
"Yeah, we're not blind," Miday chimed in.
"You want the new recruit, so you're using his niece as
"Though I have to admit, had she been Tanet's, I would
have done the same thing," Miday said. Both Amazons
Ana ignored them. It was true; she was using Naiya as an
excuse to see Doron. That was also part of the reason why she
kept tabs on Iona. The girl was her Sister, but she didn't think
she would have any more than a passing interest in the girl if
it weren't for the new man in Samsara's ranks.
He was adorable, but that wasn't what attracted Anatolia. No,
what attracted her was the fact that he had risked execution to
see his daughter, and later to bring a new Sister to them. He
had further braved a Queen's wrath and those of his brethren by
reporting the rape of that same Sister. He was truly a man of
Oh, she couldn't ignore the physical attraction. It was
obviously the first thing she'd noticed. His broad, rippling
shoulders, his increasingly flat abdomen, the thick thatch of
brown hair, his green eyes . . . but that was all just a bonus.
What she really wanted was the man beneath the body, the man who
risked his very life for others. The man who bravely withstood
the stink of Death's breath. That was the man she was after, and
the one she intended to have.
These thoughts came to an end as she stopped outside the
entrance to the camp. An officer saw them and came to greet
them, affecting a deep bow as he did so. "What need has
brought you here?" he asked respectfully.
Ana could see Brenna eyeing him with interest. She elbowed
her discreetly. "I seek Doron of Aria. I bring his daughter
Naiya for a visit."
Faela watched as the pup rolled over swinging its bandaged
leg, she smiled and ran a hand along its dark back. "Toria
was right, you are a little cutie," she said as the pup
opened one tired eye and gave a happy whimper.
The door opened and Deirdre walked in with her usual smile on
her face. Her eyes lit up when she saw the puppy. "Oh wow,
isn't it just adorable!" She sat down next to Faela and
proceeded to smother the pup with affection. "Has it got a
name?" Deirdre asked, looking up at Faela.
"Not yet. I was just going to see Ryka, why don't you
stay here and watch her for me, when I come back, I'll give her
a name," Faela didn't wait for an answer. She walked out of
the hut and headed for the mess hut, hoping Ryka wasn't working
in her usual rush and would make the food Toria had suggested.
Soraya walked around the tribe, trying to understand some of
the stuff she'd learned in Kou's language class. It didn't seem
to be as easy as she thought it would be. Ray kept reciting some
words, but she kept forgetting what they meant.
As she wondered, her thoughts left her studies and wandered
off to Zia, whom she hadn't seen in a long time. Where could she
be? She wondered.
"Maybe I should go off and look for her, but I wouldn't
even know where to start." From what Soraya had heard Zia
had walked off in the middle of her training, and Adriana had
"But what does Adriana have to do with her?" Soraya
asked herself. "First she challenges Zia and then what? Are
they friends now? It just doesn't make sense to me."
The young Amazon sat down and began playing with her dagger,
trying to understand what possessed Zia to go ahead and disobey
Samsara and go off with Adriana.
"It's been a couple of days since I saw her
around," Soraya commented. It was then that she had this
feeling in the pit of her stomach, so strong that she couldn't
even move. Her thoughts came out of her mouth.
"What if Adriana killed Zia? What if . . . what if she
tricked her? I'll kill her!"
Soraya shot up and headed for the stables.
While Soraya made her way to the stables, Samsara stopped her
horse deep into the woods. She spotted Seriana leading a tired
black stallion carrying a skeleton of a human with a huge pack.
"Seri!" she shouted, dismounting from Prince. She
walked several feet over to her Sister. "What are you doing
"Majesty, you sound accusatory," the girl said,
helping the other to her feet. "I don't know why I'm here.
I just ended up here."
"Hmm," barely audible. "And the girl? Who is
she?" She motioned to the frail one. "What would she
be doing out this far?" Anyone who ended this deep into
the woods must have had a purpose.
"Does it look like I'm her best friend, Highness?"
Athanase rolled her eyes. "That is really irritating.
Would you stop that?"
"Right." Seri climbed up behind Samsara on Prince.
They headed back to the village, trailing the tired horse and
unconscious rider behind.
On their way, little was said. "I hope Latrina likes
sleeping down with Cassia and Selena," Athanase commented.
"She seems a little scared of me, don't you think?"
A quiet and nearly breathless sigh escaped from the Queen of
Teloans. This isn't going well, she thought. What's
with her anyway? She felt she needed to fix things with her
Then a wave of something . . . someone . . . hit her. She
felt as if she had pressing business elsewhere. She shook her
head to clear it.
After a moment, she looked toward the nameless girl Seri had
found, noticing she was partially awake now, swaying in her
saddle, her eyes dully watching the trees they passed. "Do
you want something to eat?"
The girl nodded slightly.
The Teloan slid off Prince and moved toward the tired girl.
She pulled out a cookie she had stolen from Ryka. She had
planned to give it to Seriana, but this girl was more deserving.
Besides, "You look like you haven't eaten in days."
The girl took the sweet and ate it slowly, as if to savor
"We're almost back," Ritani called back.