How the Lines get Blurred
“8.5.” Rada said as she and Arsen huddled closely to the small barred window of the jail.
“8.5? Are you kidding?” he asked. “She's a 6. Maybe a 7.5 at best.”
“No way man, she is blondie; 8.5” Rada argued.
“What's a blondie?” Arsen asked.
“You know; fair hair.” She answered.
“Did Sarah teach you that derogatory label right after she taught you this misogynistic game?” He joked.
“In fact she did.” Rada answered.
“And what about the obsession with well endowed blond girls? Did you get that from her too?” He asked.
“Oh no, that's all me.” She said.
“Solid 9, right there with the fighting staff.” He pointed out quickly.
“Ooo. Good one.” The Slav agreed and surveyed the rest of the camp. “Front gates: seven point… wait a minute, I think that's Sarah”
“You were gonna give Sarah a seven?” he asked, not seeing the importance of her presence.
“It is her!” She said before calling out. “Sarah! Sarah! Over here!”
“You know it might be wise to note that if it weren't for her neither of us would be in this situation. Calling out her name could be more trouble than it's worth.” He noted, but was ignored.
Sarah heard her name being yelled by a familiar voice as she entered the camp. It didn't take her long to recognize the accent and she hurried off in its direction.
“Rada?” She called out as she came closer to the source.
“Sarah, come over here. I'm in the jail.” She said.
As the time traveler reached the barred windows her brow furrowed.
“What the hell are you doing here?” She asked, not waiting for an answer. “More importantly what the hell are you doing in there ?”
“Well you told me that I could come see you if things didn't work out at home, so I came here and these bitches locked me up because I'm a foreigner.” She spat.
“Because you're a foreigner?” Sarah asked, amazed at Amazonian bigotry.
“Technically they called her a vampire.” Arsen answered before greeting her. “Hi Sarah.”
“Why did they think you were a vampire?” Sarah asked before looking Rada over and remembering the Slav wore all black from heat to toe. “Actually, never mind, I think I've figured it out. Anyway, I'm going to talk to the queen now, I'll make sure she lets you out.”
Sarah turned to leave, but Rada grabbed her by the sleep shirt she'd been wearing since the night before.
“Wait, what's going on around here? Where's Eve?” She asked.
“It's a long story and I don't have much time.” She said. “Just keep your guard up. Some serious fighting is about to go down.”
“Please tell me you didn't start another war.” She said.
Sarah thought for a moment before answering. “I actually don't think it's big enough to be considered a war. But seriously, I gotta go. I'll come back for you soon.”
As Rada watched Sarah retreat to the queen's hut she shook her head.
“You wouldn't think that one girl could go around causing so much trouble.” She said.
“Oh I'm never surprised anymore by the damage that can be caused by one female.” he said. “Take my back for example.”
“This is very true.” Rada agreed.
“Let me see if I understand you correctly.” Varia said as she stood up and braced her hands on her desk.
Sarah knew good and well that any statements following the phrase ‘Let me see if I understand you correctly.' would be nothing more than a regurgitation of the presented proposal followed by a few derogatory phrases about the presenter's mental state. Varia was restating her treaty terms perfectly. All that was left were that defaming comments that always followed.
“That's correct.” Sarah said, bracing for impact.
“Have you lost your Gods be damned mind?” She roared.
Sarah simply swallowed and waited for the rest of the queen's wraith to pummel her.
“You want us to not only let the vampire's live, but to fight beside them?” She asked as she came out from behind her desk and proceeded to circle Sarah as would a vulture to a dying gazelle.
“These monsters have killed and eaten two of our sisters, they have threatened the entire Greek Amazon nation, AND they have kidnapped my…” She paused with that one. “…subject, Eve. What makes you think I would ever allow them to escape punishment for their crimes, let alone trust them enough to take up arms with them?”
She was mere inches away from Sarah's face once she'd finished.
“Varia, I know you're angry right now.” Sarah said before realizing that understatements might not be the best tactic.
The queen grabbed her by the scruff of her shirt and slammed her up against the door.
“I asked you for an answer, not a placation.” She growled.
Sarah had enough. She used her arms to push Varia back then spoke again. “Then stop acting like a child that needs to be pacified. I'm doing my best here, and you have to realize that you don't have a whole lot of choices anymore.”
“That's because you let one of them in here and told her our entire plan.” Varia growled.
“And without me you'd be fighting a war on two fronts!” She yelled back. “Those slavers are coming for your people whether you accept help from the vampires or not. And let me tell you something else, if you don't accept help from them you're all doomed. You may be able to take out the lackeys, but the leaders can't be killed by sunlight and stakes. I know from personal experience. They are immortal in every sense of the word and they will hunt down each and every one of you if you kill their tribe.”
Varia looked at her with disgust. “And which side would you be rooting for Sarah? The Amazons' or your little girlfriend's?”
Sarah snorted and scowled.
“You can antagonize me all you want Varia, it won't solve your problems. I'm just the messenger here. You can either take my advice and kill two birds with one stone or you can be the reason the Greek Amazons fall; your choice.”
Varia gritted her teeth and crossed her arms as she weighed out her options. She knew Sarah was right, in the end, but it killed her to ally with the monsters that killed two of her sisters.
“I'll accept the treaty on one condition: Eve comes back before the battle.” She said, still not knowing if she truly believed she would. “They can keep you.”
Sarah clenched her fist. This was yet another hurdle she'd have to overcome. It was going to be hard to get the vampires to simply let Eve go.
“Think of it as an act of good faith.” Varia interrupted her thoughts. “Unless you're afraid they'll kill you.”
Sarah's feelings for Varia were on their way from annoyance to hatred, but she tried to keep her cool.
“Oh I'll find a way to get Eve back here, but you're gonna have to show a little of that good faith first.”
“What, to the vampires?” She asked as if that would be answer enough.
“No, to me.” Sarah said. “I have no promise that you won't just try to attack the vampire's once you have Eve and that would put me in a mighty fine predicament. So unless you want me to just go back to the vampires and tell them their best bet is to mount an offensive you'll give me what I want.”
“And that is?” Varia asked.
“Rada will be set free from your jail.” Sarah said. “She's done nothing to your people and she is not a vampire. Plus that actually gives you a little insurance. I know you've been so kind it would be rude of me to side with the vampires, but just in case I did get that wild hair up my ass, Rada will ensure I have a hard time crossing sides.”
“Are you really threatening me?” The queen asked incredulously.
“I'm on the fence.” Sarah bluffed. “So I guess if I were you I'd meet the small demand I'm making.”
Varia pulled a knife from her boot, bounded over to Sarah once more. This time she didn't bother backing her against the wall; deciding to punch her and put a knife to her throat instead.
“If anything, and I mean anything goes wrong with your little plan this time I will personally hunt you down before anyone else gets a chance to. And it will not be a slow and merciful death.” She said to the girl as the knife dug in to her skin.
“I'm sure that'll be fun for both of us.” She said angrily.
Varia pushed the knife harder against her throat and Sarah winced a bit, but did not look away.
“Let the foreigner out of the jail, but have her followed. She's not to leave the camp.” Varia said to her guards, not moving her eyes from Sarah's until they were gone.
“Go back to your whore and give her my message.” The queen said after shoving Sarah to the floor.
As Sarah exited the building and headed for the gates, she saw Rada. She knew Amazon eyes were on her, so she'd have to be quick about anything said to her friend. She grabbed her in a fierce hug and said loudly. “So good to see you again, my friend!”
Rada was confused, but she hugged her back anyway.
“Good to see you too.” She said.
“Listen carefully Rada, I'm only gonna have time to say this once.” She whispered to the Slav. “If you get a chance to run away from here, you take it. Things are going to get really ugly very soon.”
“Sarah, what…” Rada tried to ask what was going on, but failed.
“Alright, I'll see you later.” Sarah said as she pulled away. “Be safe.”
Her last words were coupled with a look that was both sad and serious. Rada answered her with a nod and she immediately turned to exit the camp. There was no time to waste.
As the Slav turned to take in the rest of the village she saw a group of Amazons standing and staring at her.
“You got a problem?” She asked them.
“No, we were just wondering what's going on with Sarah.” Zoe answered.
“We're her friends.” Meg asserted when Rada simply stood there.
“Shouldn't you be in jail then?” Rada asked. “Seems like Amazons don't like Sarah's friends very much.”
“Well we're her Amazon friends.” Zoe said, her voice taking on a tone of aggravation. “So what's going on?”
“Your guess is as good as mine.” Rada said. “All I know is she got me out of the jail and took off.”
“Well why don't you come with us and we'll fill you in on what's been going on.” Rah said, easing the tension. “At least then we'll all be on the same page.”
Rada shrugged and nodded before following the group. It wasn't as if she had anything better to do.
Sarah made her way through the trees as the sunlight filtered through. Her mind was far too busy at the moment to appreciate the beauty of the forest. She kept her eyes on various mental markers she'd made to find her way back to the nest. Her focus was so great she didn't hear the creaking in the tree above her. In fact, she wouldn't have noticed Asteri dropping down right in front of her if she hadn't bumped into him.
“Shit.” She exclaimed as she backed away. “Didn't your mother ever tell you it's not polite to sneak up on people?”
“Actually her advice was much to the contrary.” He said with a smile. “As you can imagine.”
“Of course.” Sarah said, her eyes not shying away from his predatory gaze. “What are you doing out here?”
“Khepri thought I might keep an eye out for you just in case you got lost.” He answered, barely trying to conceal the lie.
“More like you wanted to make sure I didn't bring any of my friends back with me to torch your little hiding place.” She asserted.
“Aren't you the clever girl?” He demeaned. “Shall we walk?”
As they trekked through the woods Sarah remained silent and Asteri tried to get some information from her.
“The pesky Amazon queen didn't agree to your offer, did she?” He asked.
“Oh no, she agreed.” Sarah said, concealing the rest of the deal.
“Well, well, well. I may have miss judged you.” He countered. “What were her terms?”
“Nothing that can't wait to be discussed in front of Khepri.” She answered.
“About that… My sister, clever as she may seem, can sometimes be a bit short sighted. She may not see the potential in recruiting someone like you as our ally instead of some insipid go between.”
“Really?” she asked with an eye roll.
“Yes, from what I've seen, you have the ability to talk a great many people into doing what you want. That's a wonderful skill to possess and not something you run across every day. If you were to use it to, let's say, make our little Amazon problem go away completely I'd wager you would be rewarded greatly by our people.”
“Wow.” She said, allowing the conversation to go just a bit further. “And exactly what kind of reward could I possibly want from a small group of vampires?”
“Well for starters we happen upon quite a few riches throughout our search for food and since money means nothing to us, I'd wager we could make you a very rich woman.” He stopped walking then turned to her, putting his hands on her shoulders. “But if you could let your imagination wander a bit you'd see our true potential. Think about an army of immortal soldiers with super strength at your disposal. You could take over any province you wanted with nothing more than a simple order. The potential for power is only as limited as your own thoughts.”
“And what makes you think I give a shit about that kind of power?” She asked, completely disgusted by his offer.
He studied her for a bit before one side of his lips lifted in a smirk.
“You certainly have put yourself in the most powerful position in this little dispute.” He said, relishing the silence that followed as Sarah's eyes grew wide with realization.
“That's just…” She faltered. “I'm just doing this because…”
“Because it benefits you.” He said with acceptance. “You can stand there all day and tell yourself this is all very philanthropic, but in the end you are saving a people that have killed men for merely looking at a naked woman…all because they're your friends. Turn down my offer if you must, but don't pretend it's out of some sense of right and wrong because it isn't. You have your loyalties just like everyone else. I'm simply trying to offer an option that would leave you with a little less scarring.” His eyes moved to small wound on her neck then back up to her face.
Sarah swallowed hard.
“Your offer is still declined.” She said as if she still believed in her position.
But the sad truth was he had rattled her. She decided to change the subject to keep her mind occupied.
“Why are you so worried about an attack anyway? If you're anything like your sister, the Amazons shouldn't be able to kill you. So what does it matter?”
“You certainly have a dark view of the world.” He mused. “You're correct, my sister and I cannot die by means that would kill the other vampires, but that doesn't mean we don't value their lives.” He answered.
“Not their lives.” Sarah corrected. “Their lives you already took.”
“Look, I'm not going to argue semantics with you.” He was starting to get angry. “The point is, my sister and I are more than likely going to live forever. We'd rather do so with people we like around, rather than just each other.”
“You're kidding, right?” She was flabbergasted. “Lonely vampires? That's why you've got this horde of minions? Now that is interesting… in a pathetic kind of way.”
“Humans don't seek out companionship throughout their lives?” He asked, trying to prove a point.
“Not companionship that requires us to drink each other's blood.” She answered.
“No, that's right.” He said. “You ‘people' just kill each other for gods that laugh at your ignorance.”
“Oh holy Christ.” Sarah said as her face cringed.
She was starting to realize that she might actually have a lot in common with Asteri. The new knowledge worked to temper her tone.
“Do all of your subjects get a choice in the lives they lead?” She asked, curiously, not accusingly.
“Do all people get a choice in the lives they lead?” He answered, his tone softening too.
She took a deep breath and decided not to go any deeper down the rabbit hole. She was starting to second guess not only her views of the vampires, but her views on the morality of all societies.
“So why are you and Khepri different?” She asked. “Why can't you die?”
Asteri chuckled, and stared at her.
“Do you really think that just because you now see me in a different way that I feel differently about you?” He asked as if it were the most absurd notion in the world. “Until you're no longer siding with the enemies of my vampires, you remain my enemy. You may want to try to remember it.”
Sarah mentally chastised herself. In a short walk, she'd been completely mentally disarmed by her opponent and now he was rubbing it in her face.
“I'll put some string around my finger.” She said as she trudged forward, determined to keep her mouth shut for the rest of the trek.
The door to the cell clicked open and Eve eyed Khepri warily, waiting for the vampire to speak. Khepri crossed her arms and leaned against the door after shutting it. Her eyes searched Eve's for any sign of fear, but found none. This frustrated and amused her, all at the same time.
“So did you give Sarah the old ‘I told you so' when you found out who I was?” She asked.
Eve's eyes remained stoic as she took her time answering. She wanted Khepri to get the sense that though, as a vampire, she may physically have the power in this situation, and Eve would control all conversation paths.
“You know, Sarah and I haven't known each other very long, but in a very short time I've learned what is, most likely, the tragedy of her very person. See, Sarah is a very reckless individual by nature, she just can't help herself. There's some kind of insatiable urge within her that absolutely will not settle with living life quietly. She comes out swinging, wears her heart on her sleeve and lives life out loud.” She stood and started to step closer to Khepri. “Now this wouldn't be a problem if she were not also her most critical judge. Even if I was angry with her for simply following her heart and not watching for signs of treachery,” she spat the word as she came right up to Khepri, “I could never say anything that would punish her more than she's punishing herself right now. And now that she's realized exactly what you are, I won't have to worry about telling her ‘I told you so' again. She's smarter than that.”
“You really think so?” Khepri looked down at the messenger and tried to sound sure of herself. She couldn't believe the power Eve could command with only a few words. Her very presence was imposing.
“You think I don't see the looks you give her? That I don't recognize the game you're playing?” Her eyes were shooting daggers. “You're trying to charm her over to your side and it's not going to work.”
“Don't be so sure about that.” Khepri spoke with a smirk, but a hitch in her voice gave away her insecurities.
“She's turned you down already hasn't she?” Eve asked
The Messenger had her answer without one word exiting Khepri's mouth and she smiled in victory. Knowing she'd won, she started walk back to her cot as if to signal the end of the dialogue.
“I really am trying to make peace here.” Khepri said.
“Oh, I actually do believe that. In fact, it's the only reason I've allowed you to speak with me without taking it upon myself to see how far the bounds of your immortality really go.” She sat down casually as she saw Khepri's nostrils start to flair in anger. “See, something you don't know about me is that I was a very violent person before I found the way of love. And although I haven't harmed another person since that time, I still have urges… And you don't count as a person as far as I'm concerned.”
Khepri didn't know if she was being bated into a fight so that Sarah would come back and find Eve beaten, or if Eve was simply that sure of her skills. Either way, there was nothing she could say to a statement such as that. Her purpose in coming to speak with the Messenger was to try to win over her trust. The only thing that had been accomplished was that she now knew exactly where she stood with Sarah's little friend. Eve had certainly turned out to be a surprise.
She turned to leave without saying a word.
“So glad you could stop by for a little visit.” Eve called to her back.
How did that happen? The vampire asked herself as she walked back to her room.
Sarah knocked on Khepri's door about an hour after her conversation with Eve. The vampire took a deep breath before opening it and asking the girl in. She was surprised that Asteri had not accompanied her.
“Where is Asteri?” She asked.
“He said he wanted go lie down, or something.” Sarah said as she entered. “It was weird.”
Khepri's brow furrowed in confusion, but she let the matter drop. “How did your talk go with Varia?” She asked, closing the door behind them.
It was Sarah's turn to take a breath now.
“She wants Eve back in the camp before she'll agree to any further terms. Once she's safely returned, Varia will make plans to meet and take down the slavers.”
Khepri narrowed her eyes. She felt like she was losing battles left and right as the day went on.
“What about you?” She asked, skeptically.
“I'm staying.” She said. “But…” It was then that her little talk with Asteri started to get to her. “… that isn't exactly a sign of reassurance.”
Khepri studied Sarah's face to try to figure out what she was saying and ended up noticing a fresh bruise near her mouth and a small cut at the base of her neck; a stream of blood drying below it. The vampires eyes narrowed and her mouth scowled.
“Did they do that to you?” She pointed at the cut then moved to wet a rag in her water basin.
“Yeah.” Sarah answered as Khepri came closer with the rag and dabbed cleaned the girl's neck and chest. “The blood doesn't bother you?”
A smile broke through the scowl for a brief moment as the vampire answered. “It's enticing, I'll admit, but I do have some self control.”
Sarah chuckled as Khepri stepped away. There was something solemn about the woman, she looked almost defeated. It made it harder for Sarah to say what she had to say.
“If you send Eve back there's not guarantee Varia won't simply attack the nest.” Sarah said. “She won't bat an eye at harming me.”
The very thought of Sarah being hurt caused her chest to grow heavy, though she did not show it.
“And if we don't send Eve back?” She asked.
“We still risk an attack from the Amazons, only this time Eve may be caught in the crossfire and I won't let that happen.” Sarah said soberly.
Khepri felt her annoyance with the Messenger start to rise. Eve was right. No matter what the vampire did now, she still wouldn't come before Sarah's best friend.
“Why have you even told me any of this? You've obviously made up your mind as to how you want this to turn out.” She asked. “What's to stop me from just killing the Messenger now and slaughtering the whole damn village after?”
“You don't want to lose your vampires.” Sarah said, assured by her talk with Asteri.
“My brother doesn't want to lose the vampires; I will do whatever is best for me.” She raged.
Sarah's eyes grew wide. She'd been duped. That whole talk had been nothing more than a maneuver to help her open up and be honest with Khepri and now she'd tipped her entire hand. The vampire saw the startled look on her face and wondered why, for the first time, Sarah was allowing her fear to show through. It didn't show for long though. Within seconds the fear turned to anger.
“You put him up to it, didn't you?” Sarah asked.
“What are you talking about?” Khepri spat back.
“Oh, don't give me that shit. You sent Asteri out in the woods to soften me up so I'd spill all the details to you.”
“Actually I didn't, but after my little chat with Eve I sure wish I'd had so much foresight. She made sure to let me know where your loyalties would lie after everything that's happened. All that talk about me having to have faith in you, when you knew damn well you'd never allow yourself to have faith in me.”
Sarah's voice was elevating to a yell at this point. “You know last I checked I was in control of who I put my faith in. But I guess if you say Eve's got the job it must be true. Forgive me, Princess, for not realizing I could think for myself.”
Khepri was about to start screaming back at her when she started to realize something: they'd both been played. Eve and Asteri wanted this war; they both wanted to solve the problem for good so it wouldn't arise again and now she and Sarah were at each other's throats ready to start the fighting in the very room in which they were standing.
“They're setting us up.” She said.
“What?” Sarah asked, still not understanding. “Who?”
“Eve and Asteri; they're turning us against one another so we can have out this battle.”
“Oh, come on.” Sarah said. “Why would they do that?”
“Because they're thinking tactically, Sarah.” Khepri said. “Eve used to lead an army; she knows that it's not wise to have a possible enemy right in your back yard. She wants to get rid of the vampires for good. And Asteri wants the exact opposite. He has ambitions to grow in numbers far more vast than what we have now. Taking over the Amazons would give him the perfect opportunity to get things started.”
Sarah was starting to come around to her way of thinking. “But there's no way they could know we'd end up having this argument. It's not like Asteri knows me that well and even so he certainly wouldn't suspect that Eve would have talked to you unless…” Then it started to sink in.
“Unless they worked together in planning it.” She chuckled at the irony of it all. “They're allying with each other now so they can start a war later.”
Sarah started rubbing her temple in an effort to keep her brain from exploding. Everything had turned into such a mess.
“We should just start it all by killing them both.” She said, defeated. “We're obviously the only ones who actually want this peace to work out.”
Khepri wondered how the girl standing in front of her could invoke so many emotions within such a small amount of time. Since she'd entered the room the vampire's mood had changed from fear to protectiveness, to anger and now comfort. She moved closer to Sarah grabbed both of her hands before forcing the girl to look in her eyes.
“There has got to be a way to fix this. We just have to figure it out.” She said, and then added. “But we have to trust each other.”
Sarah nodded. “I don't think we have any other choice.”
“I don't think its working.” Eve said. “We'd be able to hear them fighting right now.”
“If you know Sarah as well as I know my sister then it should work. Just calm down and be patient.” Asteri said, looking around the cell for a place to sit and finding none worthy. “By the way, before we start trying to kill each other in this war could you please explain to my why you're going along with the plan to initiate it? Not that I don't appreciate the help, but I am curious as to how a Messenger of peace and love justifies this kind business.”
Eve turned back to look at him.
“It's fairly simple, actually. I'm supposed to promote peace and love among humans; you're not human. You pose a threat to people that I love, therefore you must die.”
He studied her for a moment then spoke.
“You know, I think it goes a bit deeper than that. I've heard about that little ‘past' of yours and it would seem you have quite the case of bloodlust, my dear. Your main interest in this war may lie in the fact that you want to keep your precious Amazons safe, but deep down there's a part of you that can't wait to get back into the action.”
She stared back at him with an angry expression on her face.
“You don't know anything about my past.” She said. “You weren't there when I was murdering innocent people and you weren't there when I vowed to stop, so don't try to act like you know what I'm feeling.”
“Your passion is really astounding once you let it out.” He said. “I think I'm going to enjoy watching you fight.”
“You won't get a chance. I'll make sure to take you out first.” She growled.
“Hmm. Something tells me little Sarah may have forgot to relay a small detail to you about my ability to die.”
Eve smiled. “No she didn't, you just don't have much imagination. My mother is the queen of pulling off the impossible and when it comes to immortals there's always a rock slide, a lava pit, or a magical dagger that seems to save the day just in the nick of time. Killing you will simply take little creativity.”
“You know if it weren't for that peace loving, messenger of Eli thing I think I'd really get along with you.” He said admiring her thought process. “I much prefer you like this.”
This statement caught her off guard and it took a moment for Eve to recover.
“Well too bad for you, I'm on the good side.” She looked away from him and out the bars.
He moved closer to her and leaned in to softly say “Don't be so sure about that.” Then he moved passed her to exit the cell. If he was going to wait around for Sarah and Khepri to finish he might as well do it in the comfort of his own room.
“What about a peace and love spell?” Sarah asked as she paced the room. “I mean, if vampires exist, witches must too.”
“If they do, I'm not acquainted with any.” Khepri answered as she sat in her chair and watched Sarah. “What if we made a deal with the slavers instead?”
Sarah stopped and looked at Khepri as if she'd grown a third eye.
“Oh right, we're trying to keep the Amazons safe.” The vampire said with a snap of her fingers. “Sorry, you'll have to forgive that one.”
Sarah shook her head and continued to pace. “I wish Xena and Gabrielle were here, they'd know exactly what to do.”
“Yeah, like what they did with Bacchus.” Khepri said with soft indignation.
Sarah noticed the tone. “Do you have a connection to Bacchus or something?”
The vampire thought for a moment, but declined to answer. “That's a conversation for another time. I just mean that things would be a lot easier if all we had to do was take out the leader and the rest would follow.”
“Yeah.” Sarah said. She would have realized sooner that Khepri had just spelled out the solution to their problems, but her mind was too busy trying to figure out what Bacchus had to do with the vampires. Finally she gave up trying to map out all of the lore involved and focused back on what the woman had suggested.
“Wait, that's it!” Sarah exclaimed.
Khepri laughed. “Now it's your turn to apologize for wanting to kill an Amazon.”
“No, we don't have to kill anyone. I just have to challenge Varia to a fight and beat her. Xena did that with Queen Melosa and all of the Amazons had to follow Gabrielle. I'll just fight as Eve's champion and fend off Varia until she admits defeat.”
“ You are going to fight an angry Amazon queen?” Khepri asked.
“Well it's not like she can kill me, and if you've learned anything about me at this point, you should know that I am awesome at wearing people down when given ample time.” Sarah said.
“But she can still hurt you. Would you like to go through the rest of your life without a limb or two?” The vampire stood as she spoke and moved toward Sarah.
“I've managed to come this far with all of my limbs. Plus it's not like we have any other options presenting themselves. This plan seems like the best bet.”
“And how do you know Eve will demand the challenge for you?” Khepri was looking for any way out of this plan. “She's Varia's lover! Do you really think she's going to simply side with you?”
“She won't have a choice.” Sarah said and paused to really think about what she was about to say. After finding her resolve she proceeded. “After I have a little chat with Eve, we'll send her back to the camp and tell them that we want to meet tonight. If the Amazons try to fight the vampires in any way, and Eve doesn't issue the challenge, then I'll fight on the side of the vampires and target Varia. And unlike the royal challenge, I'll go in for the kill with you on my side. If she cares about Varia and the Amazons she'll do as I say.”
“And what if she simply decides to fight alongside the queen?” Khepri was absolutely astonished at Sarah's words. “Are you going to take the chance of Eve getting killed?”
“We all make our own decisions.” Sarah said.
But even as the words fell off her tongue she felt sick to her stomach. She was angry at Eve, there was no doubt about it, but putting her in that kind of danger was something that truly made her feel like the bad guy. Of course the lines were so blurred at this point that nothing was simply black and white.
“Everyone, at some point, has to choose a side to fight for. I'm choosing the one that is willing to work for peace and I'll have to face the consequences of that. And whatever Eve chooses, she'll have to face her consequences too.” She took a breath and tried to will herself to accept her own words. “You just make sure Asteri doesn't try anything. I can't be worrying about him as well.”
“Believe me, you won't have to. I'll take care of that right after we're done here.”
Sarah nodded and prepared herself for the talk she was about to have with Eve. Khepri could see the anguish and concentration on her face and wished she could simply make all of her problems go away. Instead she moved closer and put a hand on the girl's shoulder. Once Sarah looked up she spoke.
“If this doesn't turn out the way you plan, things could get very ugly for you. You're offering to fight your best friend and a member of your family to help protect my people. Whether you believe it's right or not, you know you'll torture yourself if anything happens to her.” She brought her hand up to Sarah's face and softly stroked her cheek. “I'll only make this offer once, and I want you to think hard about it. I need you to be absolutely sure that this is what you want before you leave this room. If you have any doubts as to whether or not you're doing the right thing, I want you to leave with Eve. You can force her to go somewhere else with you; you can take her back to the Amazons and then leave all of this behind…” She paused; amazed at the next option she was willing to put on the table. “…or you can stay with the Amazons and fight with them.”
It was now Sarah's turn to be shocked at what she heard. She simply stared at Khepri for a few seconds, not daring to do what she truly wanted. Her hand ached to bury itself in the woman's dark locks and bring their lips together, but that would complicate things even further than they already were. She couldn't afford to let passion in as yet another emotion warring for her attention. So instead she reached up to hold the cold hand that was caressing her face and placed a quick, but soft kiss on Khepri's palm, before addressing her.
“I'll always have doubts about whether I'm doing what's right in this situation, but I can promise you that I have no doubts now about what the right choice is for me.” She looked at the hand she was holding then clasped it with a firm and confident grip. “I'm going to fight beside you, Khepri… whether the Amazons are fighting with us or against us.”
Not wanting the emotions to go any further than they already had, Sarah briefly shook the hand she was holding then let go before exiting the room. There was a messenger she needed to talk to.
To be continued…
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