Disclaimers: The characters of Ephiny, Solari and Eponin belong to MCA/Universal and Renaissance. But in all truth, I just used these Amazons in order to supply a certain familiarity within the framework of the story.

If you wish to write and comment, feel free to send what I hope will be either praise, constructive criticism or a combination of the two at: JayM_Gaidin@yahoo.com

Amazon Rite of Trust

By RP Michaud

Daria looked about the Ceremonial Hut with new eyes, those of one just moments away from her final rites as an Amazon warrior. Taking in the lack of any furnishings, she observed that even the ring of stones that surrounded embers quickly fading into oblivion was more for show than any practical source of heat.

Sighing, she turned to the two young women who shared both her fate as well as current occupancy of the hut. Kallideia was titian haired and light complexioned as well as the possessor of two vivid green. Darlilea was golden haired with a dark complexion that put her own tanned skin to shame and looked out at the world from deep, dark brown eyes.

Silently, she wondered what awaited them all. Surely, she would be found worthy. This was to be her final test before she received full acceptance as a full-fledged Amazon warrior. The most secret and presumably most sacred of all the Rites, the Amazon Rite of Trust was also one of the most mysterious.

What would she do if she failed? She had heard stories of a young women who had never returned from this final rite, but to the best of her knowledge, that was all they were, stories. Still, as the time approached, she felt her anxiety heighten with each successive heart-beat.

At moments such as this, one tended to remember - with exacting detail - how her older sisters would look away at the mention of this particular ceremony. Their proclamations that when the time came, she would come to know and understand refused to help matters or ease one's stomach.

Sharing yet another nervous smile with Kallie and 'Lea, she almost jumped out of her skin as she heard the sound of footsteps approach.

Daria audibly swallowed her fears - as the three reached for the comforted assurance of the hard grip of one another's hands, grounding them as they awaited their fate - and managed to gasp, "Here we go!"

Smiles holding more than a hint of nervousness were shared as the sounds neared the doorway.

With deep breaths, they quickly released the hands of their fellows - standing tall and proud. If all went well, in just moments they would be full sisters. They would be Amazon.

Following a cursory knock on the door frame, a head of curly dark gold hair made its way into the single roomed shelter. The brown eyes, framed by curly tresses, looked with warmth upon the three. Had there perhaps been the hint of a smile, Daria silently wondered?

The woman then focused on Daria, "I am Ephiny - an Amazon warrior come to guide one who would join the sisterhood." The formal words spoken, the warrior waited expectantly.

Her mouth as dry as desert sand, Daria cleared her throat and spoke in a none too steady voice, "My name is Daria. I wish to join the Sisterhood, to become Amazon" Stepping forward, she nodded to the woman who had agreed to guide her though this rite. Had she done it correctly? The young woman concentrated on her breathing as she awaited the reply to her plea.

"Daria, if you truly wish to become Amazon, you must put your trust in me and I shall accompany you on this most important journey." This said, the blonde warrior pulled a length of cloth from the belt-pouch she wore around her waist.

Turning about as the young woman had been directed, she realized that she wasn't the only one to have forgotten that they were to be blindfolded. Facing her compatriots, Daria forced a smile to her lips as the cloth was brought to cover her eyes and the world around her went black.

The soft encouraging timbre of the Amazon's voice rumbled in her ear. The rough calloused touch of Ephiny's hand, strong and sure in Daria's own as she was led step by cautious step from the ceremonial hut and down her darkened path of destiny.

With each step, the young woman felt certain of Clotho's touch on her thread of Fate. With each step, Daria wondered just what awaited her. Would she become the Amazon warrior she had dreamed of since childhood, or did she walk to some nameless fate?

At moments, it seemed that all that kept her from fleeing the approaching unknown was the presence of the woman beside her. Ephiny's strength of character displayed through her voice lent itself to imbue the younger woman with the fortitude to face what came.

"Very good my young warrior. You must trust me to guide you. Trust me, Daria, and I promise you shall come to no harm." The words were repeated time and again as the two strode through the village.

"Stop. Stay very still," the Amazon's whispered voice instructed.

Standing fast, Daria barely dared to breathe. Though she wished to ask why they had stopped, she refrained from querying her guide and simply stood her full height with the pride she deemed fitting for one of full sisterhood of possessing. I am Amazon. I will prove myself worthy of the title.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere, she felt something brush past her. She heard footsteps running by quick and light. Even as she listened, others approached. Swallowed giggles and whispered dares came to her from the sounds that formed the background noise of the every day of the village.

Daria knew the corners of her mouth twitched in suppressed mirth. It had come to her that the children played Close as You Can - a game in which each ran as close as possible without touching the blindfolded warrior and escaping without being caught.

As a child, she herself had played the game. She was sorely tempted to reach out and grab one of the children as they swarmed around her, each trying to outdo the other. Instead, she remained still and let the children have their fun.

"Shame on you Kayla," Ephiny mock-scolded, "you touched," her voice playful as she called them off.

"Very good, Daria. Now let us be on our way," the older woman spoke. So saying, she squeezed Daria's hand and led her on.

The interlude with the children eased the younger woman's nerves and allowed her - if but for a brief moment - to see within herself the child she had been. While she remembered herself as painfully shy, she had also been brash and bold with her friends. It was from this, as well as the touch of a child, that she was able to draw on a well of strength she had long thought buried in the years since childhood.

Impulsively, Daria halted her guide and turned. Blindly feeling her was into a kneeling position, she called out to the young girl who had made contact with her.

"What are you doing?" Ephiny whispered loudly - puzzled by this unusual behavior from the younger woman.

"I will only return a gift for a gift," Daria replied quite calmly.

Eventually, she sensed the children's cautious approach as they gathered around her once more. "Kayla ... " she called softly to the young girl who had lost the game by brushing against her.

"Yes," a young voice responded with nervous courage.

"Will you hold this for me?" Daria asked as she carefully placed her bow on the ground between them. "I will make you one sized just for you, in thanks. Take good care of it 'til I return," she charged the girl.

Rising, she held out her hand to her amusedly puzzled guide. "I am ready now."

The two women continued onward as Daria returned her trust in her guide as she walked blindly on. They traveled each step together along the path all Amazons had traveled.

"Wait Daria," the Amazon cautioned - calling their procession to a halt. "There is something in your way; but, you can step over it."

Holding to Ephiny to keep her balance, Daria's left foot awkwardly reached out and managed to plant itself on the other side of the unseen obstacle. Right foot following left, the two women cleared the obstruction.

"We're almost there," the warrior informed her charge.

A handful of steps later, they once more came to a halt. "Your path is blocked once more; but, this one's too high to step over. Don't worry, I'll guide you around it, instead."

Suiting words to action, the two carefully made their way around this second barrier.

A number of paces later, the blonde warrior announced, "Daria, we're standing near a horse. I will move your hand to some area of the animal, and I want you to tell me what you feel." Shifting her grip, Ephiny held the younger woman's hand with its first two fingers extended.

Daria balked for at this test. Yet, after hearing a human attempt to mimic a horse's whinny, she felt reassured and nodded in agreement.

Ephiny led her closer to the area from which the sound had come from and ran the woman's extended fingers through silky hair. After a pregnant pause, Daria answered uncertainly, "It's mane..."

"Good," Ephiny spoke encouragingly and led the young woman around the 'horse' and the responses of 'its back', 'it's hind leg' followed with much more ease.

Although she went along with the odd test, Daria could not, for the life of her, find a reason behind it. It struck her as a strange test to put a woman through in order that she might attain Amazonian Sisterhood.

Feeling something akin to coarse hair, Daria promptly answered, "Its tail," and soon found herself caught off-guard as Ephiny's grip on her hand tightened. Her hand was quickly thrust forward and enveloped by the feeling of moist flesh.

"GODS ABOVE AND BELOW," she heard someone shriek - certainly it had not been her voice that had cried out like that.

Daria felt as though time has skipped a beat as she suddenly found herself at least a pace behind her 'Guide' and holding the strap of leather that had blocked her sight. She searched in vain to find the source of the mysterious moistness and instead found herself surrounded by Amazon's, hands on thighs, bent over laughing.

She tried to surreptitiously sniff the two abused digits only to find that she had apparently pulled them away before any trace of scent had been able to attach itself.

Seeing Ephiny's mouth twitch and the obvious twinkle in her eye, Daria looked at the woman in such a manner that easily conveyed a heartfelt 'Don't even!'

With swallowed chuckles, the older warrior wrapped her arm about the initiate's shoulders. "Don't worry, you'll see soon enough," is her mysterious comforting statement, then pushed the younger woman gently toward the surrounding Amazons - many grinning if not engulfed in outright laughter.

The women - between guffaws and pronouncements of what the look on her face had been like - patted her on the back and hugged her, welcoming her as one of their own, a full sister.

With this feeling of befuddled warmth, Daria was invited to stand amongst them and watch as another warrior left to guide one of the hapless Amazons-to-be into their midst.

It seemed an eternity before Darlilea entered with Eponin into the area marked off for this day's events.

Eponin, guided the other woman over Ephiny's body which laid flat on the ground. She then guided her charge around Solari who had positioned herself on all fours.

Daria found herself wishing that they might hurry along, her curiosity aching to be fulfilled. Nodding in near impatience, she watched Eponin guide 'Lea through the various parts of the final test.

At one point, she observed the other young woman's fingers touch Ephiny's leg as Solari gave off her imitation of a horse's neigh - Ephiny going so far as to stamp her leg twice. After the woman announced that she had touched the horse's hind leg, Eponin guided her to the 'tail.' Ephiny sent a wink Daria's way as she reached into a pouch that had been hidden before and removed a citrus fruit that had been cut crosswise. Quickly joining her partners in crime for the final part, she arched a brow and grinned at Daria.

Gods help her, though she knew it was partially from her relief at having the mystery solved and finding the culprit to be no more than an orange cut in half, she leaned forward in anticipation to see another put through the very same paces she had just been. Looking about her, she found herself sharing a wicked, knowing grin of what was to come.

Drawing in the other woman's reaction as her fingers were plunged into the fruit, she laughed at the priceless expression, even knowing her own must have mirrored it or perhaps because she knew her reaction had to have been similar.

The combination of the 'Lea's sound of surprise with the quick withdrawal of her hand from the orange fruit - which Ephiny quickly hid - as well as the wild questing eyes freed from darkness and searching for the unknown, held us all helpless with mirth.

Moments later she was struck by some understanding of the lesson behind the ceremony:

Trust your inner child and acknowledge each child's touch on your life to be one of the greatest gifts of the gods.

Trust your Sisters to be there for you. That they will help you over the hurdles life sends your way.

Trust your Sisters to be there for you when obstacles overwhelm you. Knowing that together you will find a way around them.

Trust your Sisters to share the humour they feel with you. That they mean to laugh with you, not at you - even if the occasional practical joke has you feeling like a horse's nether regions.

With this realization, Daria swore she heard a voice as though from the very heights of Olympus whisper three words into her ear, "You. Are. Amazon." The words reverberated through her soul as for a brief eternity she heard her mind's voice cry out, "I AM AMAZON!"


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