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an on-line tale by Richard Carter Jr
I begin with praise for the Helicon sisters, you fill me with songs... of adventure...of friendship...
I sing too in praise of the chaste goddesses, the huntress and the warrior of the flashing eyes. The goddess whose magnificence inspires the heroes of our tale.
I sing of Terreis and Ephiny...
It was a time of troubled peace for the Amazon camp now located in Aetolia, on the fringes of Thessally, the home of the Centaurs. The progeny of Centaurus were not liked by the Amazons and for reason. The Centaurs, as a race, did not enjoy the company of mortals, and the company of women were meant for only one thing.
But the young Amazon queen Melosa had no choice but to find refuge near the land of the half-man, half-horse beasts. She had been forced out of Asia Minor, the home of the fierce warrior women, by a rival, and more popular queen. Melosa, joined with her sister and a small band of Amazons traveled forth to bring new truth upon the world of men.
In this group were women of heroic countenance. Terreis, Melosa's sister. Not yet of age, but the successor to the royal line. Ephiny, the latest to be counted in the long precession of Amazon warriors. Eponin, A decorated huntress, not much older than Ephiny, but skilled in the ways of teaching as well as of warfare. Though this troupe numbered only thirty, every army gave them clear passage but only with the agreement that they move on. And so they found themselves in a rugged and fierce land, with centaurs nearby.
Once their new home was found, Artemis anointed Terreis, the red-haired future leader, and she became the newest Amazon princess. In the wake of the celebration which followed, A yell pierced the air.
Eponin raced through the camp and immediately confronted Melosa, the young and wise queen. Raven-haired Melosa raced back with Eponin across the camp.
The Amazons, still swimming in the joy of their revelry did not follow. Eponin revealed to Melosa the awfully truth. The weapon of the Amazon, the silvery weapon made at the forge of the lame god was missing.
And there was the smell of man in the air.
In her heart, Melosa only saw blackness. Immediately Melosa suspected a rival of the Amazons.... Heracles. She called for avengers. Being Amazons, the entire camp volunteered. Melosa's heart swelled at the sight of her proud warriors. But their position in this land was not assured. She could not afford to send many away on a quest.
Terreis stepped forward. She said, "Sister, my Queen, I am the youngest of the warriors. Should the Centaurs attack, I will be the least useful. I ask that I be allowed to go in quest of the sword. If I am to be queen in your place, one day, I will have to have proven myself to my Amazon sisters that I am worthy of their trust. How better than for me to start down that path now?"
Melosa touched her sister's cheek. "You are brave, Terreis. I don't doubt that any of the Amazons here wouldn't go into battle with you leading them. But you are right, you are inexperienced, and there is only one way for you to gain that experience."
Terreis' youthful exuberance gained the better of her as she immediately turned and went to gather the tools of a questing warrior. Melosa continued, "But, I cannot let you set out alone. You have not yet seen battle. You have not seen terror in the eyes of your victims. You have not have to overcome the terror in your own heart. I will send with you, Ephiny. She is young, but is already a good warrior."
In truth, Fleece-haired Ephiny was only slightly less skilled than the great queen Melosa in her skill with many weapons, and none better with a fighting staff. Terreis and Ephiny bowed their heads in agreement to their queen. As they went to gather their tools of adventure, Melosa invoked the name of the hunter goddess Artemis.
Just one day out on their quest, Terreis and Ephiny found traces of the Amazon sword. It's imprint was clearly visible on the damp ground where it had been set down by it's thief. Not even great Cerberus himself could have detained the young warriors on the drive for their goal.
This was evident not long after when they found themselves in a box canyon. Around them were shadows. Despite the growing darkness, it was evident that the shadows hid eyes; eyes which stealthily moved first here, then there, and then there again. The warrior drew their swords in preparation for the coming battle. The shimmering steel blades were twins to that stolen from the Queen of the Amazons. From the growing darkness arose a wail so terrifying that the gods themselves would have known mortal fear.
Three beasts leaped at the teenagers, fire flashing in their eyes, smoke spewing from their nostrils. Death fueling their hungry hearts.
Ephiny yelled and charged the two beasts nearest to her. Hesitating only slightly, Terreis charged her four-legged specter of death.
Ephiny's yell of attacked startled one of the beasts, but its twin never stopped. Its surprise was evident in its eyes as it found Ephiny's sword no longer flashing in the air, but warmly sheathed within its bosom.
She then jumped in the air and landed on the back of the still living beast.
Terreis now understood what Melosa had warned her of. She had not expected the terror in her heart to be so strong. She had to swallow down her fear.
The beast leaped at the Amazon, who swung her sword. The gleaming metal cutting a path between them, and leaving a trail of crimson.
The beast still had life within it. Claws slashed at Terreis, but her training had made her more nimble than a simple jungle beast. More nimble, perhaps, but not faster. A paw caught her and she lost her senses.
From the back of her beast, Ephiny admired Terreis' battle, but now feared for her comrade's life. She forced her beast into a charge and rammed it into the would-be diner of her fellow Amazon.
She took Terreis' sword, warm with blood, and quickly slit the throat of the two dazed attackers.
Ephiny began a fire to help her princess. It was well into the night before Terreis awoke.
"You're awake," Ephiny remarked matter-of-factly.
"I guess we won?"
Ephiny replied, "You did well."
"You did better. I'm sorry I wasn't more help," Terreis said.
Ephiny tossed a large branch into the fire, "It was your first time in battle. My first battle wasn't nearly as difficult -- it was only against men."
Terreis laughed painfully.
The next morning, they were once again on the trail of the thief. Ephiny offered to let red-haired Terreis rest, she even insisted, but Terreis refused to be an excuse for the failure of the quest.
That decision almost proved to be their undoing.
Terreis, still weak from the adventures of the day before, took a rest while Ephiny scouted ahead. Ephiny, found more than she'd expected. When she cleared a thicket, who was she faced with but Khores, a strapping centaur with bow drawn and aiming at her heart.
Khores let the arrow fly, but not before he had altered its aim...it lodged in a tree beside Ephiny's head. Khores took a step forward, and let forth a mighty blow that crushed into the warrior's face, sending her on a flight of shock and unconsciousness.
Khores stepped toward the fallen Amazon. Her face now being slowly streaked with her own blood. A rustling in the underbrush focused the centaur's attention. He drew his bow.
"Ephiny!" shouted Terreis.
"Stand fast" shouted the centaur.
Terreis looked up in surprise. She didn't know the condition of her friend but knew that if there was any hope, she would have to fight the archer to assure their security. "I didn't mean to harm your friend. She surprised me," spoke Khores. The centaur lowered his bow. "My name is Khores."
"What did you do to her?" Terreis said as she rushed to her friend's aid.
"I only hit her. She'll be all right."
Terreis could see that the centaur spoke the truth. "You don't act like any centaur I've heard of."
"What are Amazons doing so far from home?"
"We are searching for a sword that was stolen from our queen."
"Ahh. Then you'll be looking for Klepteisos."
"Be wary of him little one. He's the son of Hermes, and was cursed by Artemis long ago. Ever since he as sworn vengeance on the goddess."
"Where do I find this thief?"
"I don't know. I live in this valley alone. But -- I know every bush, every tree, every blade of grass by heart. I will help you find him."
"What will it cost us? Centaurs aren't known for their generosity."
Ephiny stirred on the ground. The effect of the centaur's blow wearing off.
Khores replied, "I ask for nothing. This aching wound of Hermes' passion has been a scourge to the centaurs as well. If I find him, I will let you know. I only ask the same."
"How can I trust you," asked Terreis.
"You have my word of honor. I would trust yours, I hope you will trust mine."
The centaur extended his hand. Warily, Terreis shook it. With that, Khores galloped off. Terreis tended to her fallen friend, who was soon again in the wakeful world.
Terreis and Ephiny journeyed on for weeks. Coming across neither man nor beast. It was as if the gods had warned all in the countryside to beware the wrath of the Amazon princess and her fierce companion. In this time, the two women got to know each other as they'd never had in the Amazon camp. They grew to be more than companions, they grew to be friends. Ephiny knew that one day she would stand beside Terreis when she rose to her place as queen. Terreis knew that she'd have no other by her side. Ephiny had saved her life.
Finally, the day came when their quest would reach it's climax. Ephiny and Terreis were traveling through a small meadow when a shout caught their attention. Ephiny saw the form of a centaur charging them. Without hesitation, Ephiny reached behind her and unholstered her crossbow. She aimed and fired.
"Ephiny," shouted Terreis.
Ephiny's arrow flew true and hit Khores. It sailed into his chest, narrowly missing his heart, but a fatal wound nonetheless. Khores dove for cover into the nearby woods. Ephiny now had fire in her heart. She charged to the woods calling to Terreis, "You go that way. We'll corner the beast!"
Terreis followed, but with a different plan than her sister Amazon. She hoped that Khores hadn't been badly hurt, and that Ephiny wouldn't find him first. Terreis dove into the woods. Before long she found Khores -- or, more precisely, he found her.
"I don't have long to speak, you're friend's quite the hunter. I found the hiding place of your thief. He lives in a lower cave in the mountains a day's walk from here. He's been there for some days." A rustling in the woods catches their attention. "Goodbye, my trusting Amazon." And Khores limped off to be swallowed by the woods.
Ephiny emerged to find Terreis looking sad. "What's wrong?"
With a sigh Terreis said, "Nothing. I found out where our thief is."
"But --" Ephiny started.
Terreis interrupted, "The Centaur isn't our quest. Come on."
In the valley of the Darnedes, Terreis and Ephiny carefully and quietly worked their way to the cave Khores had described. When they found it, it was surrounded by four guards. Ephiny wanted to attack immediately, but Terreis held her back.
"Aren't the guards a little obvious?" Terreis asked, "This isn't exactly a well-traveled road."
Ephiny asked, "A trap?"
"See down there," Terreis pointed. "There's another cave in the shadow."
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a fury of steel descended upon the guards. Using both her own and Terreis' swords, Ephiny attacked the guards. One guard immediately fell to Ephiny's skill. "Go!" Ephiny yelled.
Terreis dashed to the far cave whose opening was now nearly invisible in the darkness. Inside the cave, lit by unseen treasure stolen from the Olympians themselves, stood Klepteisos holding the sword of Melosa.
"Looking for this little girl?" said the monstrosity with the head of a boar and a body covered with he scales of a snake.
"That does not belong to you. I'd like it back."
"Yes." replied Terreis, her eyes glowing with the fire of Athena's.
"I don't think so. HAHAHAHA"
Ephiny arrived at the mouth of the cave. "You get it yet?"
"Here," Ephiny tossed Terreis her sword and charged Klepteisos.
With a yawn, Klepteisos joined the golden-tressed fighter in battle. Ephiny, though skilled, was clearly not yet equipped to do battle with an immortal son of an Olympian. When Ephiny made a desperate lunge, Klepteisos swung Melosa's sword around for the fatal blow. Fortunately, Artemis, still angry with the son of Hermes, stayed his hand.
"Stay out of it!" yelled the boar.
Ephiny regained her balance and looked over to Terreis, "Anytime."
"You want help?"
With a yell, Terreis joined the fight. Two Amazons fighting ferociously against the son of the god of thieves. Ephiny was able to strike a blow which drew blood from Klepteisos' arm. Angry, he turned and aimed his sword at Ephiny. Ephiny fell to her knees as the sword cut across her chest, her ribs preventing a fatal injury.
Terreis, now more seasoned than when their quest began, seized the opportunity presented by Klepteisos' distraction. She plunged her sword deeply into his ribs, severing his cold heart from the rest of his being. In only moments, the beast lied on the floor of his cave, breath no long issuing forth.
Days later, lifted by the wings of victory, Terreis and Ephiny were once again in the Amazon camp. They presented Melosa with her sword. Melosa proclaimed to all, "These are true Amazons. Willing to risk their lives for the sake of their people, and to protect one another while faced with many dangers. Praise to Artemis for giving us the skills to be Amazons!"
And now, I close with thanks again to the nine sisters, daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, for allowing me to tell my tale.