Author: Tim Knight

Title: The Song

Copyright: December 2000

Rating: G, maybe a weeeee bit PG (there are descriptions of cutting up defenseless plant life)

Spoilers: Buffy: Season 2 until Phases.

Highlander: Season 5 until Season finale. Richie Ryan lives. Season 6 does not take place.

Chronicles of Wanderer: Witch Hunt, Slayer In Black, Hunter in Dark, Be Careful What You Wish For.

Keywords: Buffy/ Highlander/ Forgotten Realms.

Summary: While Steve, Buffy and most of the Slayerettes are in the Wishverse, fighting the forces of the Master, Shaw Hunter shares a special part of her past with Amy Madison.

Legalese: All characters except those noted below with their respective rights, properties and copyrights are the property of their respective creators, authors, owners, producers and agencies. These characters are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended or meant, and no money will be made from this story. This story may be copied in its entirety, and may be distributed as long as all copyright information remains.

The character Shaw Hunter and Ulric Johansen are mine. Anyone wishing to use them may contact me at doobytim@aol.com.

The characters Steve St. Wolf, Frank Iverson, Randi Jessup, Brian Jessup and Joe N'Gato are property of Steve Pantovich, as is the universe in which this story takes place. Steve can be contacted at steve711@concentric.net.

The character Robin Goodfellow is property of Mike Weyer.

Author's Notes: This story takes place two weeks after the major events in Hunter in Dark, and during Be Careful What You Wish For.

Dedications: Steve, for letting me use and work with his characters. To Rebekah, who filled me with fear by telling me that I now have groupies. To Mike, for Robin Goodfellow and the banter and dialogue we bounce off of each other. To Timbo, for his unique contributions. And, finally, to said groupies, who were the ones who inspired me to write this story. I don't know your names, let alone your e-mails, but you know who you are. This is for you.

Here are the changes from normal shows that may play a part in this story:

Buffy: 
1. Due to her drowning at the hands of the Master in Prophecy Girl, Buffy is Immortal.
2. Passion and Becoming never took place, so Angel is evil, and Jenny and Kendra are alive and well. Kendra has taken up residence in Sunnydale and is attending UC Sunnydale.
3. Amy Madison is a full time Slayerette.

Highander: 
1. Richie Ryan is alive.


Part 1: Ask A Silly Question
(What Do You Talk About When Your Teammates Go To An Alternate Universe With Their Duplicates From An Alternate Universe To Fight A Horde Of Vampires?)

St. Wolf Residence
Sunnydale, California
Early hours
13 December 1998

As Artemis, the Greek Goddess of the Hunt, cast a powerful spell to send the majority of the Slayerettes, as well as a moderate number of allies that Steve St. Wolf had called in, to an alternate reality that desperately needed their help, the members of the team, as well as some allies they had called in to cover for them during their absence, watched as the fighters bound for that alternate reality simply vanished as if they had been mere illusions.

The people left in the St. Wolf residence were not great in number, but what they lacked in numbers, they made up for in sheer power; Amy Madison, a teenaged Amazon and a powerful witch of Hecate; Shaw Hunter, Amy's cousin, who herself was from another dimension, and a half-elven priestess and warrior servant of Artemis' beloved friend, the Goddess Mielikki; Kendra McPhereson, a Slayer born and raised in the island nation of Jamaica; Brian Jessup, the young man who was the reincarnation of a legendary hero, Sir Marcus the Valiant, whose sister Randi had gone with the others to the alternate reality; Joseph N'Gato, a Liberian who was a member of the Knights of the Order of the Grail; Merlin, the legendary wizard from Camelot; and Axel Foley, who lacked any form of supernatural powers, and was a detective from the city of Detroit.

Artemis turned to Amy, and said, "Well, it is now up to them, Amy. I shall be off, but call on me if you run into anything you cannot handle. I shall do what I can."

"You got it," Amy said with a grin. She jerked her head back a bit, and said, "But with this crew, I think we can handle things."

Artemis smiled, and disappeared in a flash of light.

Once the flash faded, Axel turned to Amy.

"Lemme get this straight," the cop said, "that was a Greek Goddess."

"Yep," Amy said with a grin.

"And you're an Amazon," Axel added.

"Yep."

Axel just shook his head, and said, "Man, either I've walked into the Twilight Zone, or I breathed some damn fumes from my exhaust."

"I'd bet on the latter, young man," Merlin chuckled. "I've seen your car."

"Hey, Santa Claus," Axel said warningly, pointing at the New Yorker, "don't diss the ride."

"Enough," Amy snapped, laughing at their antics. "Look, you guys go grab some sleep before we patrol tonight, okay? It's gonna be a long night, so we gotta be in top shape."

No one disagreed with that assessment, so most of the other occupants of the living room headed out into the early morning air.

"I hope poor Axel doesn’t have any problems with any more vamps," Amy muttered after they left. She turned to Joe N'Gato, and said, "Joe, are you staying here tonight?"

"Yes," the Knight answered. Indicating Shaw, Amy and Kendra, he said, "I'd suggest you three go home and get some sleep. As you said, Amy, it will be a long night tonight."

"Joseph," Shaw said slowly, "would it be permissible for me to stay a while? I would like to do some research on the computer."

"On what subject?" Joe asked in curiosity.

Shaw's face settled into a neutral look, and only said, "It is a private matter, concerning the Lady of the Forest."

Slightly put off by her lack of explanation, but knowing how seriously she took her religion, Joe nodded. "Very well, but please do not stay too late. If you do, you might want to stay the night here, to avoid any problems, after your recent ordeal."

To his surprise, Shaw nodded without arguing. "You are right, Joseph. Thank you."

"You're welcome," he said. Looking at Amy and Kendra, he asked, "How about the two of you?"

"I will go back to Buffy's home," Kendra answered, fingering her favored stake. "I am not tired, so I believe that I can make it there without incident."

"I'm going to hang out for a while," Amy said. "I've got some stuff to look up in some books, but I'll try to be quiet."

"Very well," N'Gato said, and he looked at Brian Jessup. "Brian, you should head up to bed as well."

"Awwwww," Brian muttered, but the twelve-year-old boy started to head upstairs without an argument.

Amy and Shaw covered soft laughs at his situation, and Joe bid them good night, heading up himself.

Kendra began to leave, but Amy said, "Hey, Kendra. You need a ride? I can always come back."

"No, that's all right," Kendra replied. "I can use the time to think about what Steve told me a few nights ago."

Amy nodded in understanding; it hadn't been easy for the Jamaican Slayer to learn that not only were her parents alive and well in Jamaica, but that she also had a sister. And not just any sister, but a twin.

Kendra left through the kitchen, and the Amazon turned to the ranger, who was watching the kitchen door that the Slayer had exited through.

"Uh, Shaw?" Amy asked, catching her cousin's attention. "You okay?"

"Yes, Amy. Of course," Shaw replied softly. "I just wonder how Kendra is dealing with the knowledge that her parents are alive."

"I don't know," Amy confessed with a shrug of her shoulders. "But tell me; what's this project you're working on about Millie? You've been occupied with it for a week now."

"Amy, it is a private matter," Shaw said to her. She hesitated, and with great reluctance, told Amy, "It seems that there are spiritual servants of the Lady here on Earth. I have been charged with finding them, and they are supposed to act as guides for me. I have not had much success as of yet."

Amy was stunned at the announcement, as she realized that Shaw was looking for fellow servants of the Lady of the Forest. She thought about what had been said, and nodded in understanding about Shaw's desire to fulfill this quest herself.

"I get your drift," the witch said, forcing Shaw's eyebrows to squint in confusion at yet another Earth idiom. With a laugh, she said, "I see your point. You want to do this yourself, because it has to do with your beliefs."

"Yes, Amy. Even though I have tried to be more open, I wanted to keep this to myself," Shaw offered. With a interested look at Amy, she asked, "Was that wrong, Amy?"

"No, Shaw," Amy stressed. "It's understandable. I know how much your religion means to you. More than anything, even helping others or any of us. Even me."

Grateful that her cousin didn't feel upset about that fact, Shaw smiled. "Thank you, Amy. It is a great comfort that you understand this about me."

As Shaw started to turn for the computer room, Amy made a clarification to Shaw's statement.

"Well, actually," Amy said, interlocking her fingers, "I understand the fact, or maybe the idea, that your religion's your number one priority. I don't understand why. You know, the details."

When Shaw stopped in her progress to the computer room, Amy quickly said, "Shaw, I'm not asking you to tell me, I'm just pointing something out. I wouldn't pry into your privacy like that."

The half-elven Slayerette shook her head, and said, "No, Amy, it is quite all right. I do not mind telling anyone things about my faith. My hesitancy towards Joseph was about the quest itself, not the Lady."

"Oh," Amy said with a blink. She thought for a second, and asked, "I do have a question about you and Millie. How'd you ever decide you were going to be a priestess in the first place?"

"I did not 'decide' to follow that path, Amy," Shaw said with a smile, her eyes going distant as if she were recalling a memory. It was a trait that Amy knew fairly well by now. "I received the Calling when I was nine. I did not know what it was, or what it meant at first. But. . . Grandfather did."

"How did he know?" Amy asked with a grin, glad to see Shaw actually reliving a memory about her family that wasn't painful.

"I said something to him, and he realized what my words meant," the ranger said. Shaking her head in amusement, she confessed, "It happened when he caught me carving up his favorite oak tree."

"Wait a minute, here!" Amy blurted, trying to fight giggles. "Shaw Hunter, are you telling me you actually misbehaved as a kid?!?"

"Of course I did," Shaw said, fighting to control her own laughter. "My Grandparents always said I was very precocious."

"So what did Grandpa do when he caught you playing with sharp objects on his tree?" the Amazon asked with a sincere desire to know.

"It begins when I was nine," Shaw answered, sitting down on the couch to tell the story. "It was in Deepingdale. . . ."

*****

Part 2: The Song
(Okay, It's Not Exactly Britney Spears)

Deepingdale
Faerun, Toril (The Forgotten Realms)
24 September 1955 (1326 Dale Reckoning)

Myokar Flamingarrow picked his way through the trees the surrounded his woodland home, trying to find his granddaughter. The child had left their cabin about an hour earlier, and the aging ranger was grumbling in irritation that she would take off without telling anyone where she was running off to.

<At least she had the sense to arm herself,> the tall man thought wryly. <Not that a short sword and two daggers in the hands of a nine-year-old will do much good against a six-foot-tall orc.>

Indeed, Myokar himself cut an imposing figure; standing two inches above six feet, with corded muscle and gray eyes that, when his temper was aroused, Shawukay had called "storm clouds." His shoulder-length hair, fading to the same color as his eyes, added to the stormy visage. Also taken into consideration was the long, wavy-bladed sword at Myokar's hip.

Part of the emotions running through Myokar was concern. As much as he adored the half-elven child, the girl did sorely test his patience at times, much of it due to the fact that she had certainly inherited his temper and stubbornness. Even through that, he felt some admiration at the very faint trail that he was following, showing that the lessons he and his wife had taught their son's daughter had been learned very well.

<But, that is the rub, Little Kitten,> Myokar chuckled mentally. <Your Grandmother and I have taught you everything you know.>

As he followed the path, the ranger felt some relief as he divined her probable location; a grove where he and Shawukay had spent many hours, where he would teach her the ways of the forest, and she eagerly absorbed his lessons. As he closed towards the grove, a reassuring sound came to his ears on the wind; the sound of Shawukay humming hymns unique to the Mielikkian faith. The man cocked an eyebrow at her humming; he and Mishaya had told their descendant of the Patron Goddess of Rangers, but they had also told her of the other Gods, human and elven, should the girl someday decide to follow another Power's path.

Myokar slowly stepped his way to the edge of the grove, not wanting to disturb Shawukay from whatever had brought her out here alone, as well as wanting to see exactly what it was that she was up to.

His mouth dropped in shock when she saw was she was doing while humming holy songs.

She was using a dagger to carve into the wood of the largest oak tree in the grove. His *favorite* oak tree.

Myokar instantly walked into the grove, and stressing every syllable, growled out his granddaughter's name.

"Shaw-wu-kay."

The girl jumped to her feet with a spin, drawing her short sword and flipping her dagger to the ready, a look of determination in her eyes. As her wavy black hair cleared itself out of her eyes, she saw her grandfather standing there, looking very displeased with her. Her strong demeanor vanished in a heartbeat, and she hid her weapons behind her back, looked at the ground, and stared at her feet, one boot shuffling and then another.

"Grandfather," the half-elf whispered, not looking him in the face.

Myokar waited for her to say anything else, were she inclined to do so, but after two minutes or so, he decided to begin the conversation.

"What are you doing, Shawukay?" he asked, although grandfather and granddaughter knew full well what she'd been doing.

To his immense surprise, Shawukay's face came up and lit itself into a bright smile, and her eyes danced with pleasure.

"Come and see, Grandfather!" she said cheerfully, all thoughts of punishment vanished.

Myokar, somewhat puzzled by the change of her mood, stalked forward and knelt in front of the oak, and his eyes widened at the sight that greeted him. In the wood, where Shawukay had removed the covering bark with great care, was the carving of a unicorn's head, the symbol of Mielikki, the Patron Goddess of the Flamingarrow clan going back several generations. What truly surprised Myokar was the delicacy that the carving had been made; it was a near representation of the symbol of the Supreme Ranger, done with a skill that should have been far beyond that of a nine-year-old girl, much less one using a dagger meant for combat, not carving.

As Myokar felt a great deal of confusion over this scenario, Shawukay suddenly made everything clear to him when she asked him something from her position, looking at her handiwork over his shoulder.

"Who is She, Grandfather?" the child asked in innocent wonder. "She sings to me."

Myokar's head snapped back around, and he saw the curiosity in the young girl's hazel eyes, so like her mother's. Realization came to the ranger, and he felt surprise, and also a great deal of pride, in his young descendant.

"I will take you to someone who can explain it to you, Little Kitten," he said, using the pet name he had for her. "But we must go home first."

Shawukay let a pout form on her lips, and Myokar chuckled at her stubbornness.

<Oh, child, but you will break many hearts when you reach your majority.>

The elder ranger just shook his head kindly, and said, "In time, Shawukay. But we must go home first."

Shawukay accepted his order, and put her dagger in the sheath at her belt. She kept out her short sword, and started walking back towards the cabin.

"I will lead, Grandfather," the half-elf said with determination, taking off into the brush with very little disturbance to the plant life.

Trying to fight a bellow of laughter at her bravery, Myokar simply chuckled, "My great protector."

The tall man quietly followed his little one into the trees.

Mishaya looked up from her carving work when a high-pitched squeal erupted from just outside the door to her cabin. The door flew open from a kick, and a laughing Myokar strode in, carrying a squirming Shawukay in his arms, squealing in glee as her husband tickled her ribs. Finally, he set the girl down, and said, "Look what I found traipsing through our forest, my love."

"I don't know. . ." Mishaya said teasingly, tapping her chin. "She looks fairly thin. Is she worth the effort of keeping?"

"Grandmother!" Shawukay said with righteous indignation, folding her arms across her chest in a manner copied directly from Mishaya.

"Off to bed with you, little one," Myokar said. When Shawukay turned her childish glare on the male ranger, he said, "We will be going to the temple later on, and I want you to be properly rested."

Shawukay's face lit up in joy again; she always enjoyed such trips, and any thought of arguing was gone as she quickly scampered off to her room. Mishaya fought down laughter, and watched as her husband of some thirty-odd years wearily walked over and sat down in the wooden chair she'd carved by hand for him some fifteen years prior.

Mishaya walked with catlike grace over to the companion chair sitting next to Myokar's seat. Her grace often led people to remark that she had elven blood in her veins. Although she didn't know of any, having an elven swordmaster when she was Shawukay's age helped. Now, at the age of fifty-four, her once golden hair had faded to platinum, which only made Myokar tease her, since platinum was five times greater in value, he said it made her that much more valuable to him. Her eyes however, were the same icy blue they had been when she was a child. And, like her husband, she stood a shade over six feet tall.

She sat in her chair with great dignity, and asked, "So what mischief did our Granddaughter get herself into this time?"

Myokar steepled his fingers, and softly said, "It seems that Shawukay's destiny has called to her."

"Oh?" Mishaya said in curiosity. "We had her tested four years ago; she has none of her mother's potential for wizardry."

"Perhaps not," Myokar said, standing up and beginning to pace. "Shawukay will likely be a ranger when she reaches adulthood, but she will be something more than a mere ranger."

"What do you mean, Myokar?" the woman asked, seeing his concern, which was quickly becoming her own.

Myokar stopped, and turned his head to his wife's. "She has the Calling."

Mishaya's mouth opened into a little "O" of surprise, and she asked in a hushed whisper, "Are you certain of this?"

"I found her in the grove," Myokar said with a snort, "carving the Unicorn into my favorite oak. She says the Lady is singing to her."

Mishaya put her palms together, and said, "Thus the trip to the temple."

"Aye, beloved," came the simple answer.

"You do realize, Ashallia will have her hands filled with teaching our Granddaughter," Mishaya said with a laugh. "They are too much alike; they have the same fire, the same passion. . ."

"Which only means that they will fall in love with each other all the quicker," her husband laughed. "And I pity the other priests in the temple."

Both Flamingarrows laughed in anticipation of Shawukay meeting the iron-willed High Priestess of the temple of Mielikki in Highmoon.

*****

Myokar and Mishaya led Shawukay into the temple of Mielikki, situated at the northern end of Highmoon, the town that served as the capital of Deepingdale. When they came to the entrance, a ranger they both knew well came out to meet them.

"Well met," the young man said, holding out an arm, which Myokar grasped with a strong grip. "It is always good to see you, Master Flamingarrow. May I ask what business brings you here?"

"We must see the Hawk of the Lady," Myokar answered, sending a hidden glance at the squirming Shawukay, who wanted to take off and explore the temple.

With a glance of his own, the forester nodded. "I will get her for you."

As he took off, Myokar turned to Mishaya, who was watching Shawukay looking in all directions, taking in everything her eyes could see.

"Mishaya?" Myokar called, attracting her attention. She came closer, and so as not to let Shawukay's sensitive hearing pick up his words, he said, "I know you are worried about her, but she will be fine. She is very strong."

"I only hope she can accept this," Mishaya said in return. When she looked back towards where Shawukay had been standing, the girl was nowhere in sight. "Myokar!"

He looked, and cursed under his breath. As the grandparents prepared to tear the temple inside out if necessary, the person who they'd come here to see chose that moment to walk into the greeting area.

"Myokar, Mishaya, is something wrong?" Ashallia Nyserrion asked, humor wringing in her voice. "You seem to have misplaced something."

Both rangers turned to the woman, whose black hair was unbound for once, falling to the back of her knees. The half-elven woman, just short of her one hundred and seventieth birthday, wore the customary red tabard with white accents, as well as tan buckskin leathers and boots, and carried two weapons at her waist. The first was the common longsword, but rather than a second sword, Ashallia carried a footman's mace. Her black eyes, inherited from her gold-elven father, held a great deal of mischief as she watched the doting grandparents scrambling to find their charge.

"Tell me, old friend," she said, looking to Mishaya. "What are you searching for?"

"Shawukay," Mishaya answered, wondering how the child could have disappeared in the mere seconds she'd taken her eyes off of her.

"Honestly, Mishaya. I was expecting you at least two hours ago," the powerful cleric said with a thin smile. "What happened? Did Shawukay's Grandfather put her down for a nap?"

Both Flamingarrows stared at the priestess, shock evident on their faces. As the young guardian of the door tried not to snicker at their confusion, Ashallia nodded to him to leave them. With a nod and bow, he headed outside into the afternoon sun.

"Come, I will take you to her," Ashallia said, turning to head for the main chamber of worship in the Lady's temple.

As Myokar and Mishaya followed, the husband asked, "How did you know that we were coming, Lady Nyserrion?"

"Myokar, please. We have known each other these fifty winters and more," Ashallia laughed, her voice sounding like a bubbling brook. "We can drop the formality here, especially since the Lady told me that I would be receiving a pupil that is quite like the three of us in temperament."

"We were thinking much the same thing, my friend," Mishaya confessed with a light laugh.

"Then the Lady was speaking truth," Ashallia said quietly, but not so much that the two human rangers didn't hear her. "Myokar, I must tell you; she must stay here, in the temple, to learn what she must know from me. But the two of you, having retired from active service to Those Who Harp, must also come here, every day."

"I beg your pardon?" Myokar asked. Even though he knew of Shawukay's destiny, he did not like the thought of her leaving his home at such an early age. "What do you mean?"

"Like me, Shawukay is half-elven," Ashallia said mysteriously. With a look over her shoulder, she added, "Unlike me, she is destined to be more than a priest."

Mishaya gasped as she realized what her lifelong friend was hinting at; the demihuman races, particularly elves and their half-elven kin, were known for taking up more than one path. Very common were fighter-mages, or those who combined the magics of religion and wizardry. But a priestess who was a ranger was very, very uncommon.

"Multitalented?" Myokar asked, using the word commonly associated with such adventurers.

"Quite," Ashallia muttered noncommittally. As they approached the door to the worship chamber, she noticed the door was ajar, open just enough for a small child to squeeze through. "Ah, here we are."

The trio of Mielikkians quietly walked in, and saw Shawukay, standing in front of the temple altar, just standing, and doing nothing else.

Myokar sighed in frustration, preparing to grab the impatient child, but Ashallia grabbed his arm, shaking her head slowly but smiling at the little girl standing there.

"Shhhhhhh," Ashallia said, looking at the scene unfolding before her. "She is listening to the Lady. Give her a moment."

Myokar nodded, and relaxed to watch Shawukay.

*****

<But why must I leave my Grandparents?> the child thought in fear, the expected emotion of a child facing a separation from her family. <Can I not stay with them?>

The music in her mind shifted, and Shawukay cocked her head, listening to what was a gentle, but negative, answer.

*NO, LITTLE ONE, YOU CANNOT.*

<Then can they stay with me?> she asked, changing directions.

The song bubbled, giving the half-elf a sense that the Voice was laughing in joy at the girl's attempt to change directions, while still conceding to its wishes.

*NO, BUT THEY WILL BE HERE, EVERY DAY, TO TEACH YOU. YOU ARE TO BE MORE THAN YOUR FAMILY, AND MORE THAN THE LADY WHO WILL TEACH YOU WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW. BUT THIS IS WHERE YOU MUST LEARN WHAT YOU NEED TO LEARN. THIS IS WHERE MY LESSONS ARE BEST TAUGHT.*

<But. . .>

*IT IS ALSO WHERE MY SONG IS THE SWEETEST. YOU CAN HEAR THE DIFFERENCE, CAN YOU NOT?*

With a tear of happiness, Shawukay thought, <Yes, Mother. But how do I do this? What am I supposed to do?>

*BEYOND ALL ELSE, FOLLOW YOUR HEART.* the Voice said with a voice filled with love that was even greater than the love Shawukay felt from her family. *FOLLOW YOUR HEART, AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY.*

As the Voice faded to the level she'd felt upon walking into the temple, which had spurred her to seek out this place, Ashallia walked up to her side, and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.

"Hello, Shawukay," the priestess said with a smile.

Shawukay just continued to stare at the altar, and said, in a voice filled with awe as tears flowed down her face, "She sings to me."

"I know, little one," Ashallia said with a warm, loving smile. "She sings to me, too."

*****

Part 3: Comments
(Am Amazon's Reaction To Her Cousin Finding That Home Town Religion)

St. Wolf Residence
Sunnydale, California
Early hours
13 December 1998

As Shaw finished her recollection, she asked, "What do you think?"

"I wonder how your Grandma and Grandpa got by without ever having heart attacks," Amy giggled from her seat on the couch. At Shaw's frown, she said, "Hey, you have to admit, you were a handful."

"That is too true, Amy," Shaw said, giving in to the point. "But as for the rest?"

"Well, it's sort of like what happened with me and the others," the witch replied. "We were sort of chosen by Artemis, you know? So I think I can relate as far as that goes. But as for 'hearing that song,' I haven't a clue."

"I can give you a 'clue,'" Shaw said, a smile coming to her face. "It is very easy, once you know how to do it."

With a dubious look, Amy said, "Oh, really."

"Yes, Amy," the ranger told her. "I can give you the instructions on how to do it. In fact, we could do it now, if you wish."

Still uncertain about this, Amy finally nodded. "Okay, how do I do it?"

"Shift your perceptions as you do when you try to determine the magical abilities possessed by someone," Shaw instructed. "Then, look inward. At the magical power inside of you."

Amy cocked an eyebrow, and said, "You're kidding."

Shaw frowned, and Amy said, "Okay! Okay! I'm shifting already."

Amy closed her eyes, and she seemed to fall into herself, retaining just enough attention to say, "Okay, now what?"

"First, separate the magic of your witchcraft," Shaw ordered in a soft voice, quietly standing and moving over to Amy. "Now, focus on your Amazon blessing. The gift given to you by Artemis."

"Okay," Amy said, her features etched in concentration as she focused on that amount of magic in her own body. "Now what?"

"Go INTO it," Shaw ordered firmly, so that Amy wouldn't think to question her directive.

Amy did what she was bid, and her mouth opened a bit. After about twenty seconds, her eyes snapped open, her blue eyes shining in awe.

"What the heck WAS that?!?" she breathed as Shaw caught her before she fell onto the floor. Settling herself back onto the couch, she asked, "What was that?"

"Artemis," the half-elven warrior replied instantly. "That was the small portion of Her divine power that she gave to you as a gift. That is the part of Her that makes you an Amazon."

"Shaw, it was. . ." Amy said, stopping when she couldn't find a word to describe what she'd felt. "I want to say 'beautiful,' but that doesn't do shit for it."

"I know," Shaw replied, a smile on her face.

"That's what if feels like," Amy said, not asking a question, but rather making an observation.

"In a way," Shaw confessed. "Yours is a warrior's blessing. My connection to the Lady is more direct, because my magic is derived from Her divine power. When I cast a spell, I am, in a sense, acting as a conduit for Her power. But you do know, to some extent, what it feels like. And many times, in those dark years, it was the only thing I had to hold on to. It was likely the one thing, above all else, that kept me sane, and kept me from giving up."

Amy felt a tinge of sorrow at the confession, and wrapped her arm around her cousin's shoulder.

"Hey, like you said," Amy told Shaw, "it makes you happy. That's what's important. To you, to us, and to Millie."

Shaw fed the Amazon a look of irritation, and with one corner of her mouth twitching upwards, she said, "I did ask you to use some restraint in calling her that."

"Sorry," Amy said, grinning as well. "You didn't say how much restraint."

"Do not force me to challenge you to a sparring match, Amy Madison."

"Yeah right, Hunter," Amy said, standing up in a defiant pose. "I can beat you with one hand tied behind my back."

"Not with a sword in your free hand, you cannot," the half-elf countered. "That would simply make it too easy."

"Oh, yeah? Care to test out that theory?" the witch grinned.

"No, Amy," Shaw said. "You have a saying about not kicking those who are crippled. Having one hand tied behind your back in a sword duel would only be insult to injury."

"Hey!" Amy snapped.

Joe N'Gato's voice called from upstairs, crossly saying, "There are some of us who require sleep, Miss Hunter, Miss Madison. Could you please show some courtesy towards them?"

Amy and Shaw looked at each other, and then upstairs.

"NO!" they both snapped.

Joe moaned, sparking laughter from the cousins as they went to do their research, walking with arms around shoulders, as if they had no worries in the universe, this one or otherwise.

*****

Part 4: Punishments
(What, Did You Think I Was Going To Let The Dipwod Of War Off THAT Easy? Yeah Right)

Olympus
Home of the Greek Gods
Early hours
13 December 1998 (But, once again, there's that eternal question; what does time matter to a God?)

Ares walked into His home on the plane of Olympus, not believing His eyes. His personal guard, the elite warriors of Greece from centuries past, from centuries of worshippers, were lying unconscious all over the floor of His palace. The sleeping soldiers left a path, much like a human trail of breadcrumbs, towards His planning room.

With a quick crick of His neck, He stormed into the room, determined to deal with whoever it was that had violated the privacy of His domain.

When He walked in, He was somewhat less than surprised.

"Artemis," he growled, His eyes narrowing at the sight of His Sister looking through his maps. "What are you doing here?"

"Oh, hello, Brother," the Goddess of the Hunt replied. "An old friend of mine dropped by, and invited me on a hunt. And, since you have the most comprehensive maps of the mortal realm, I wanted to find the perfect spot to have our fun."

"And trashed my guards in the process?" Ares screamed, not believing that His Sister would embarrass Him just to find a place to go hunting. "You did this for a MAP?!?"

Folding up the map she'd been looking at, Artemis shook her head.

"Oh, no Brother dear," the Patron Goddess of the Amazons said nonchalantly. "That was handled quite nicely by my friend."

"And which friend was that?" the God of War hissed.

"Hello, Ares," a rich, purring voice called from behind.

Ares' face paled as He recognized the voice, as well as what it meant for Him. Slowly, as if to make what He was going to see somehow NOT be there, he turned to face the Goddess Mielikki.

"Oh, shit," the Olympian said in fear.

"Hello, Ares," Mielikki said again, walking past the God of War as if she didn't care about his presence. She stood next to the table, and asked, "Well, Arti? Did you find someplace acceptable?"

"Yes, Sister, I did," Artemis said with a grin. "Are you ready?"

"Of course," the Lady of the Forest agreed. "All we need is our equipment."

"Allow me," Artemis said, waving her hand.

Suddenly, bows appeared in the hands of Artemis and Mielikki, and quivers were on Their backs. Ares watched this scene with confusion, and Their ignoring of Him with irritation.

"Ready, Millie?" the Huntress asked.

"Yes, more than ready," Mielikki said, before snapping her fingers as if remembering something. "Oh, yes. Ares, I almost forgot. About this punishment that I was somehow supposed to inflict upon you? I cannot come up with something as original as my daughter, so I will not subject you to something totally horrific."

Feeling as if a tremendous burden had been lifted from His shoulders, Ares said, "Thank you!"

Mielikki nocked an arrow, seeming to test the quality of Her bow, when she said, "Oh, Ares?"

"Yeah, Millie?"

An evil grin curved Mielikki's lips, and she said, in a low, angry voice, "Thirty. . . twenty-nine. . ."

His eyes went wide as He divined what Her counting meant, and said, "Wait! Millie, it wasn't like that. . ."

"Twenty-eight. . ."

Ares disappeared in a bright flash, His fear lingering for several seconds. As Artemis was readying Her own bow, when Mielikki surprised Her.

"Twenty-seven. . ." the Supreme Ranger of Toril counted, and then, she went, "Three. . . two. . . one."

Artemis laughed, and said, "Same count? The first archer to twenty shots into Ares' backside is the better archer?"

"I thought we might try something new," Mielikki said cheerfully. "There is this Earth concept called. . . best of seven?"

Artemis' jaw dropped, but She quickly recovered. "Of course. Poor, poor Ares."

"I agree."

The two Goddesses, Patrons of two Slayerettes, vanished with ringing, sweet laughter, going to have their fun.

The End

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