Monthly Archives: May 2012

Chapter Two

The apothecary lay in ruins.  Jars lie broken on the floor, their contents trampled underfoot.  Strange smells lay thick on the air; old spices and dried herbs and… something else.  Blood?  Fear?  Something.

Mica squinted her eyes, peering past the gloom, looking for any sign of life.  Jasmine pressed her body against the wall, willing herself to blend into the cold stone, to disappear.  Slowly the pair edged their way inside.

The apothecary was once a place of peace, of life.  Both the workshop and living space of Jasmine’s mother Dawn.  Many were the long hours she had spent at her mothers knees while the elder woman bound herbs for drying or prepared a medicinal tea.

Dawn had made the space holy with her presence.  The apothecary was a place of healing, of peace.  Its ruin mocked Jasmine’s memories, laughed at her fear and pain.

Drops of blood discolored the counters, mixed with the myriad herbs on the floor.  Jasmine’s heart skipped a beat but her face never betrayed the turmoil within her breast.  Her mother may need help, may even lay dying in the next room or it might be a trap waiting to end them.  The minions of the Demon usurper were treacherous.

No matter how much she wanted to run into her mother’s chambers Jasmine forced herself to move slowly, cautiously.  Make no sound, check for trip wires and traps, surprise was the Amazon’s most potent weapon.  Finally, the pair reached the far doorway leading to Dawn’s chambers, Mica readied herself on one side, Jasmine on the other.  They glanced at each other and nodded in unison, an entire conversation shared in the one look.

They breathed deeply, readied their knives and, in unison, rolled into the room ready for a skirmish.  Jasmine leapt to her feet, her arm out, ready to grapple with an opponent, her knife held close to her body point facing out.  Mica stayed low, crouching to one side of her friend and compatriot, balancing on the balls of her feet, one hand lightly touching the floor the other ready to thrust her blade into the enemy.

The room was empty.  The ruin of the apothecary didn’t extend into Dawn’s living quarters.  It was almost as though the older woman might be returning at any moment from a long day tending her garden.

Puzzled the pair glanced again at each other then moved cautiously about the room.  The bed was pushed up against the wall, blankets folded neatly and placed on a small table ready to be used for sleep.  Dawn’s scent permeated the room, flowers and herbs and something else, something that was just… her.

Jasmine’s eyes teared up and her chest heaved.  Her mother was gone, she might be a captive or tortured or dead for all she knew and there was nothing she could do about it.  Mica moved to her friend and put her arms around her, burying her friend’s sobs in her embrace.

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Flea’s Revenge

She stared in disbelief at the carnage before herShe raised her hands and all eyes were upon her.  Deft motions of practiced fingers spread the news that had cost one of their own her life.

“The Demon Usurper wants our magic,” Storm signed, “our battle plan needs to change.”

Mei Ling scowled briefly as her brilliant mind began recalculating the scenarios.  Storm caught the look of concern flashing across her best friend’s face.  Nothing to be done about it now.

“We must stop them from breaching our secrets,” Storm’s fist struck her palm, the sound overly loud in the quiet room.  “Guard our secrets at any cost!”

The beautiful, Amazon princess padded silently across the cold, stone tiles to the side of the doorway, listening intently for any sound of enemy presence.  Behind her, the rest of her band followed, moving quickly to line the inner walls.

Storm held up a hand and all motion instantly ceased.  In the resulting silence a gentle, far-off tapping could be heard.  Sandal-ed feet were approaching along the main hallway toward the front door.  Heartbeats quickened and barely contained anger flared in anticipation of the coming kill.  Amazon warriors smiled darkly to each other across the gloom.

Storm made a fist with her upheld hand and then raised two fingers.  Two warriors came up to join her.  The three moved to the room’s entrance, muscles taut.  Flickering torchlight played against the wall showing the enemy’s approach.  When the flame came into view, the three women leapt through the portal into the main hallway and landed squarely.

Both guards stopped dead in their tracks, suddenly confronted by three almost naked women appearing from the darkness as if by magic.  They stood dumbfounded, staring at the smooth oiled skin, tan from long days spent working in the sun.  As their eyes drifted down the women lashed out as one, feet cracking against slackened jaws.

Two necks snapped almost in unison, and the guards were thrown backwards to the floor.  In seconds their bodies had been pulled into the room, stripped and dumped in a corner.  Storm guarded the hallway with her two warriors while the rest paired off and scattered into the labyrinthine passages of the ancient temple.

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Daemon’s Touch

Her eyes held the black fire of hatred, they were almost too intense to look at directly.  She held up her hand and signaled ‘come’ then stepped back from the entrance.  The warriors slipped into the room taking in the scene with a sweeping glance.

A naked man lay in the center of the large room.  He’d been cut from groin to gullet, his guts spilling onto the bloody stone floor in a mass of carnage and gore.  Another man, dressed as the two guards outside had been in a rough tunic, lay crumpled near the entrance his head at an impossible angle with his body.

In the corner another form rested upon a heavy, wooden table.  It lay curled up into itself, its skin mottled with dark bruises and scrapes.  Willow, the healer’s young student, cautiously investigated the body.

The others watched as her gentle hands probed the form.  She suddenly gasped, covering her mouth with her hands and stepping back.  She turned and her eyes sought out Cloud, the pain evident in her expression.  Willow shook her head slowly, her jaw working up and down unable to think of any words, unable to speak.

Scowling, Cloud stepped toward the body, roughly shoving Willow out of the way until she stood next to the form.  She stood there for a moment and then dropped to her knees, her strong arms pulling the still form to her breast.  Hot tears dripped upon the abused form.  Questioning eyes sought out Willow and she mouthed the word “sister”.

An oppressive silence filled the room.  The warriors turned their eyes away, giving Cloud what little privacy they could to mourn her loss.  Only her tears and her labored breathing broke the quiet until a soft whisper came from the pair.  It seemed impossible but Cloud’s sister yet lived.

Cloud cradled her dying sister in her arms, stared into her face while the tears streamed from her eyes.  Storm stood over the pair listening, a scowl etching its lines deep within her brow.  The dying woman’s words were almost too faint to hear.

“Our… magic,” she said straining hard to get the words out, “They… want… magic.”  One eye opened, half red from a beating that had swollen the other shut, and gazed up at her sister for a moment.  A single tear formed and rolled down her bruised cheek.

“Stop… them.”  Each word was an agony to produce but the strength of the Amazon warriors was strong within her battered frame.  Her breathing grew more faint, the effort to speak was sapping the last of her strength.  She tried to form more words but no sound would come.  Finally her eye lost focus and turned up.  Her body shuddered and she lay still.

Cloud clutched her dead sister to her body, her grieving sobs all but silent.  She rocked back and forth as Storm turned away.

Storm stepped to the center of the room and looked at each of her warriors in turn.  Her expression was neutral but her eyes betrayed the burning fury within her.

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Dark Embrace

Lightning scarred the sky for a moment followed by a peal of thunder that shook the ground.  Dozens of Amazon warriors slipped from the covering forest, bounding up the temple’s walls in moments and lining the ledge above like living gargoyles.  White eyes stared back at the trees looking for any threat.

Storm watched the amazons move, a grim smile curling the edges of her lips.  The coming tempest seemed a good omen: the gods smiled upon them this night.

When the last of the warriors had perched atop the ledge and the surrounding forest was once again silent Storm finally moved.  Her lithe figure leapt from one impossible purchase to the next, like some creature from myth, until she stood with her warriors.  Fat raindrops began to fall from a turbulent sky.

Storm’s fingers sought and found the hidden switch in the bas-relief lining the temple’s walls.  She glanced at Mei Ling, one sharp nod and they both pressed in at the same time.  A section of the wall slid soundlessly in and to the side.  Within moments the Amazons were once more within their sacred temple-home.

Warm bodies pressed together within the narrow passage, centuries-old dust kicked up by their feet tickled the warrior’s noses and stung their eyes.  Storm led the band through the narrow passages until she reached a dead-end.  She paused listening intently for several moments before her hands spread out and almost caressed the walls on either side of her.  A faint click presaged the wall sliding back with a dull grinding noise as of metal on stone.

A dim glow filled the space the wall had once occupied.  Storm’s hand arose and she signaled a quick message that was, again, repeated along the line until it reached even Mei Ling at the rear; “stay here, await my return.”  Without looking back the Amazon’s intrepid leader slipped past the heavy rug that lay over the passage.

A brief flash of torch-light and then the relative darkness of the hidden passage.  The warriors waited, each immersed in their own thoughts but each fully aware of everything happening around them.  Faint breathing stirred the still air, sweat dripped down tense bodies eager for battle.  Silence seemed to stretch on into an eternity.

A sound broke the oppressive air, a scrape of something hard against stone muffled by the fabric ‘door’.  The warriors tensed, readied themselves for battle, fear and expectancy tinged the sweat dripping from their bodies.  Every sense focused on the few sounds filtering past the wall-hanging, every heart beat a little faster.

A choked-off yell was followed by a hollow sounding thud, then something sharp, metallic, grinding against stone.  Then there was silence; even the faint sound of breathing had stopped.  There was only the sense of expectancy hanging in the heavy air of the passage.

The rug was pulled away, torch-light flooded the dark passage.  The warriors in front ducked down, coiling themselves to spring.  Outlined by the orange glow of the torches, splattered with crimson, stood Storm, knife clenched in her hand, her head held high, her eyes flashing with the dark joy of battle.

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