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In The Name Of Artemis
Prologue - Immortality
On a night of the full moon, a voice cuts through the calm air. "Artemis! Great goddess of the amazons! Hear your humble servant's prayer. The nations are falling apart and I wish to reunite my sisters again. I cannot do it without your strength to help me. Give me a sign." A gust of wind blows through the meadow where the lone woman was kneeling with her arms outstretched towards the night sky. Her weapons were laid ceremoniously at her sides. The small fire was threatening to go out. The woman closed her eyes and took a deep breath as if she were trying to draw from the strength from the air surrounding her. She could sense something approaching her from behind, but she did not turn around. She knew whatever it was would not cause her any harm.
The voice was so soft, Kiara thought it was only in her head, even though she knew it had been spoken aloud. To the lone amazon, it was the sweetest sound that she ever heard.
"Yes, my goddess." Kiara opened her eyes and saw the most beautiful doe standing before her. It looked at her with eyes that had seen time since its beginning. She knew that it was Artemis and that she was blessed to be in the presence of the virgin goddess.
"You have come here because you want to save the Amazon Nations. Do you know what kind of burden you are willing to take on?"
"I believe the nations can be reunited and become feared again instead of being the laughing stock at the local tavern. It is an insult to you when the Amazons are mocked. Valaska had the right ambitions at first, but got sidetracked with delusions of grandeur." Kiara rises to her feet and continues. "With all due respect, why didn't you try to stop the deterioration of the nations? I thought we were your chosen people."
>A strange glow surrounds the doe, and with a small cloud of silver dust and light, the deer is transformed into a slender woman wearing dark hunting leathers. Her shoulders are bare to the moonlight and on her back is a fully loaded quiver. A small leather headband keeps the cascading curls from falling in her eyes. She is holding an exquisitely carved bow in her left hand. Artemis looks sadly at Kiara.
"The Amazons were my chosen people, but ever since the war with the centaurs and the nations were divided, nothing has been the same. Many tribes decided just to desert my altars. Others worship only when it is convenient for them. Apollo was going to help me destroy the remaining tribes before my name was made a complete mockery of."
"Artemis, let me try to unite the nations," Kiara says with a sense of calmness. "I will rule as queen and the name of the goddess Artemis will once again be feared instead of laughed at."
"The nations can be brought back together by a champion, and you will be that champion." Artemis thinks for a minute and then continues. "I will grant you one gift that should help. Hold my hands."
Artemis holds both of her hands out to Kiara, which she grasps firmly. As soon as she made contact with the goddess, Kiara felt an overwhelming surge of power flow into her limbs and radiate throughout her body. She felt as if every muscle was being set on fire. Artemis held on relentlessly for several minutes and then she released Kiara suddenly. Kiara landed on the ground with a thud. She sat there trying to catch her breath for a minute.
"Kiara, I have made you immortal," Artemis says. Kiara is still trying to regain her composure and doesn't respond "You need to be immortal for the battles that are going to be fought. It is just a precautionary measure. Fail me, and you will lose this gift."
Artemis lays a hand on Kiara's shoulder.
"Rise my champion," Artemis says with all the tenderness of a mother.
Kiara rises to her feet with confidence. She looks into the goddess' silver-blue eyes.
"And future queen of the revised Amazon nation."
Artemis turns away from Kiara.
"Actually, I had someone else in mind. You have the heart of a warrior, but not the knowledge of a queen."
"What?!" Kiara's voice is tinged with anger but she tries to hold her composure in front of the goddess. Artemis is not oblivious to the tone in her voice.
Artemis continues, "The tribe to the north is holding a celebration in three moons for their queen who has just return to them. I want you to go there and join forces with her and her companion. They are the only ones, with select other few, I believe that can help in succeeding on getting the tribes back together."
Kiara still trying to maintain her cool, through clenched teeth, "And what is the name of the queen and her companion?"
Turning back around to face the goddess, Artemis could see the frustration written all over her face.
"Queen Gabrielle and the Warrior Princess, Xena. When the nations are united, I want Gabrielle to be the queen over the entire Amazon Nation. You will be her first lieutenant. Is everything clear?"
"Gabrielle." Kiara says slowly as if trying to imprint the name.
"Kiara!" Artemis says sternly. Kiara snaps out of her daze. "If you corrupt this last chance, I will make you regret ever hearing the name Artemis."
Kiara falls to her knees before the goddess.
"Your wish is my command," as she bows, hiding a sinister grin, her head touching the grass. She senses Artemis leave.
"You are a fool, Artemis. Giving me the gift of immortality and then taking away my title of queen. If I unite the tribes, then I should lead the nation. The only one who is going to sorry is Ex-queen Gabrielle. Sorry she'll ever hear of Kiara."