Category Archives: The Amazon Wars

Tales from the Amazon Wars, Episode 6

Princess Katarina sat in her tent, trying to think of a strategy for the next day’s march. Suddenly, her dark brown eyes lit up as she got an idea. She hurried out of the tent and called out to one of her aides. “I want all the company-level commanders to gather for a meeting with me.”

“Just the company-level commanders? Not the senior officers?”

“That’s right.”

“Yes, milady.” He hurried off to spread the word.

When the officers had been gathered, Katarina led them to an isolated part of the camp where the others couldn’t hear them. “Gentlemen, I have called you here for a very important and secret reason. I want each of you to make a list of six or seven men from your companies that are troublemakers, malcontents, or other dead weight.”

The officers looked at one another, not quite sure what was going on, but obeyed her order. When she had all the lists of names, she thanked the officers and dismissed them. She then made her way across the camp, heading for one man in particular.

She found him sitting alone glumly by a campfire, staring off into space with a blank expression on his dull face. He was the fat ex-colonel (remember him, from Amazon Wars Episode 2) who she had demoted to private for his sexist attitude, lack of command skill, and general asshole personality. She tapped him on the shoulder and motioned for him to follow her away from the fire. Puzzled, he obeyed.

“Listen,” she whispered, putting on her best fake smile. “I want to apologize for insulting and demoting you earlier. I am a hot-tempered woman, and sometimes my anger gets the best of me. I have created a new battalion to take the position of honor in the front of the army tomorrow, and as a way of making it up to you, I want you to command it. By the power vested in me by His Majesty, I hereby re-promote you to lieutenant colonel.”

The fat, dim-witted man broke into a wide smile, falling for her act hook, line, and sinker. “Thank you, my Princess. I am very happy to accept.”

“Excellent. Here are the lists of the men you will be commanding.”

“Thank you, my Lady. I won’t let you down.”

“You sure won’t,” she thought to herself, a smirk appearing on her elegant face as soon as he turned away.

* * *

The next day, the battalion of malcontents, four hundred men, with the fat colonel in command, formed up in the vanguard of the army and led the march out as they broke camp. None of the fools in the battalion had the brains to realize what was going to happen. In their arrogant, delusional minds, they thought they were the best soldiers in the Royalist army and were being given a position of honor.

Soon, they approached the mouth of the narrow canyon. The fat colonel and his battalion of deadweight happily and stupidly marched right in. It was only when they had marched several hundred yards in that one of the soldiers in the rear turned around. “Hey, the rest of them aren’t following us!”

“What the…” The fat colonel whirled. “Is this some sort of…AAAAAHHHHH!” He suddenly fell to the ground, writhing in agony. An arrow had pierced him right in the groin.

Then the sky was filled with arrows. Hundreds of men dropped, killed or maimed. The survivors fired their muskets uselessly up towards the sides of the canyon at an enemy they could neither see nor hit.

“It’s no use! Retreat!” shouted a lieutenant. The men who still could began running, but suddenly there came two quick bursts of cannon fire. Cannonballs slammed into the canyon walls, triggering a rockslide that blocked off the escape route. Arrows were still falling like rain, steadily reducing the number of moving male bodies. Trapped and helpless, the men could do nothing but wait for an arrow to find them.

Amazon Princess Livia, watching from high up on the canyon rim, laughed as the slaughter of the battalion was completed. Most of her officers were smirking and giggling at the killing right along with her, but two of them were several yards behind the others, whispering.

“We should have waited until more of them entered the canyon to spring the trap. This is but one battalion of their army, and an undersized one at that,” said one Amazon quietly.

“When they stopped coming, Livia got impatient and gave the order to fire. So impetuous, that one,” the other girl whispered back.

“This might even be a trap on that Katarina’s part.”

“Perhaps, but I can’t see her sacrificing a battalion of her own men. Unless…”

“Unless what?”

“Shh! Here she comes!”

Livia approached them. “Now let’s get our cannons repositioned to…”

BOOM! A Royalist burst of grapeshot exploded among a group of Amazon archers, blowing several of them to bits. Then the massed fire of an entire artillery line began firing into the Amazon army. Screams from wounded and dying women came from all directions.

“TAKE COVER! GET THOSE CANNONS FIRING BACK! FAST!” Livia roared. As the girls ducked, the two who had been whispering earlier gave each other looks of “We told them so.”

Livia, though cocky and arrogant, was still an intelligent tactician. Knowing that even when her cannons were up and firing, she would still have fewer of them than the enemy, she ordered her archers to advance.

“Here they come!” shouted a Royalist officer. “Amazon archers, advancing en masse!”

“Concentrate all artillery fire on the archers!” ordered Katarina. “Kill as many as you can before they get into range! Infantry, advance!”

“What?” said her chief of staff. “My Lady, the infantry will…”

“Suffer many casualties from the arrows, yes. But they’ll get in range with their muskets faster. We have the advantage at long range with our cannons and at short range with our muskets, but at medium range the Amazon archers rule the battlefield. We must make sure that advantage lasts for as little time as possible. In this way, we will suffer fewer casualties in the long run.”

“Yes, my Princess.”

Just like Katarina had predicted, the next phase of the battle started out well for the Royalists. Their cannon fire blew many of the Amazon archers to bits. But then, the Amazon cannons began firing and started blowing up male infantrymen. Still, the Royalists held the advantage, with thirty cannons to the Amazons’ fifteen, until the surviving archers got into range. With howls of vengeance, the girls fired devastating volleys of arrows into the advancing but still out of range Royalist musketeers, the archers’ rapid rate of fire enabling them to inflict far more carnage than artillery ever could.

Katarina winced as she watched many of her men fall. But the army, purged of malcontents and cowards, bravely charged forward until they were in musket range and the survivors could fire back.

Livia watched the scene from the rear of the Amazons’ side of the battlefield. “This is the great Katarina’s plan? Send her musketeers against my archers, who can fire four shots for every one they fire?”

“But their musketeers outnumber our archers four to one,” said one of Livia’s officers.

“And there’s still an artillery duel going on, and they have more cannons than we do,” another girl added.

“Still, it’s not like the enemy to fight a battle of attrition like this,” murmured Livia. “They are soft, they don’t have the balls to fight like that. That girl has something else up her sleeve, I just know it.” She suddenly whistled for her horse. “Cavalry, prepare to charge!”

But suddenly, sure enough, the Royalist cavalry, a thousand men and horses, led by Princess Katarina herself, burst out of the forest and charged straight for the Amazon archers. The Amazons, though taken completely by surprise, reacted coolly and without fear. Half of them turned and began firing on the charging horsemen, while the other half kept pressure on the musketeers.

A cavalry charge against Amazon archers without the element of surprise, without a second force supporting them, or without Princess Katarina would have ended in slaughter for the charging force. But luckily for the Royalists, they had all three of those things. Though fully one-fifth of the cavalrymen were shot down by the girl-archers, the 800 male survivors did what few ever had by reaching the Amazon line, lowering their lances. Katarina, her shield now with three arrows stuck in it, armed with her trusty sword and trusty double-barreled pistol, fired twice, killing two Amazons whose fancy headdresses indicated they were women of high rank, then drew her blade.

The Royalist cavalry crashed into the archers, trampling and lancing them. Katarina cut off several Amazons’ heads with her sword. The musketeers on the other side let out a loud cheer, preparing to advance and finish the trap…

Suddenly, an Amazon war horn sounded and several dozen musketeers fell dead with arrows in their bodies. Arrows fired from much further away. Amazon light cavalrywomen were in the distance, firing with deadly accuracy into the male infantry, who were far out of range with their muskets for shooting back. At the same time, the Amazon heavy cavalry, led by Princess Livia herself, charged the male horsemen. Katarina, knowing she couldn’t leave her riders vulnerable, ordered them to re-form to face the new threat. The surviving Amazon archers swiftly retreated.

The two forces of heavy cavalry charged one another. Katarina, leading her men, and Livia, leading her women, looked at each other as the distance between them shrank, both knowing what they had to do. As the two forces collided, Katarina and Livia drew their swords.

The two female commanders’ blades clashed for the briefest of moments as they rode by each other. Each woman would have easily killed a normal opponent with her swing as she rode by, but both ladies were as good on defense as they were on offense. Livia received a minor wound to her left shoulder and Katarina a small cut on her left forearm, but both girls were otherwise unhurt.

Livia brutally slaughtered every man she passed by as she made her way through the male riders to turn around and charge Katarina again. The sadistic Amazon preferred gut slicing, ripping open men’s stomachs and sending their intestines spilling onto the dirt. Katarina, making her way in turn through the Amazons, made her kills cleanly by cutting off her opponents’ heads or stabbing them through their hearts.

Now facing off once more, Katarina and Livia stared across but twenty yards of space at each other…

Suddenly, a Royalist war horn sounded. From over a ridge, 500 more of Katarina’s horsemen appeared…

Wait a minute, thought soldiers from both sides as they looked at the newcomers. They weren’t horsemen, they were horsewomen! Female citizens of Frederick’s kingdom, they wore a modified version of the blue and white Royalist uniform, consisting of black knee-high riding boots, black leather gloves, low-cut white pants, and blue and white blouses with three-quarter length sleeves and midriff ties, showing off their toned six-pack abs and slender but muscular forearms.

The new Royalist female light cavalry charged their Amazon counterparts, firing carbines and pistols as the Amazons shot arrows back at them. Another fierce battle erupted as the two forces of light horsewomen crashed into each other, swords and axes clanging.

Livia saw that her army was now being pressed hard on all fronts. Not wanting to lose her cannons, she quickly rode back to her lines, slicing and dicing several male cavalrymen to death along her way, and ordered a general retreat while they could still do so in an orderly fashion. The Amazon archers and light cavalry covered the retreat with their bows. Katarina, looking at them, ordered, “Let them go.”

“Congratulations on your victory, my Lady,” said one of her cavalry officers.

The Princess looked around the battlefield, surveying the heaps of her dead soldiers, including many high-ranking officers, and shook her head. “One more victory like this, and we are ruined,” she responded grimly.

* * *

The fat colonel (remember him?) groaned as he crawled along the canyon, leaving a trail of blood behind him. He was alive. Everyone around him was dead, but he was still alive. His right testicle had been pierced and destroyed by the arrow, but he still had his left. He still had his life. And he still had his desire for vengeance. The fat, stupid man had finally realized that Katarina had set him up. He would survive. He would make it back. He would get his revenge…

There was a whizzing sound, like the buzz of a bee, followed by a horrific pain in his chest. The colonel looked down and saw that he had been shot with another arrow. He took a few last gasping, wheezing breaths before expiring.

Livia, high up on the canyon rim, smirked as she lowered her crossbow. It was she who had first shot him in the groin with an expertly aimed arrow. Now, she had finished the job and salvaged some pride from this defeat at the hands of Katarina. The Amazon warrior spat down into the canyon before turning away.

* * *

“1600 men dead. One-quarter of our army,” reported Katarina’s chief of staff.

“Although only 1200 of those are real losses,” said a colonel. “Those 400 who died in the Battalion of Knuckleheads were just dead weight anyway.” Murmurs and nods came from the assembled officers. Nobody had liked those troublemakers, and none of them had any problem with Katarina’s decision to sacrifice them.

“How about the enemy?” asked the Princess.

“The Amazons suffered about 1400 dead. That’s more than a quarter of their force,” said her chief of staff.

“But they can bring up reinforcements almost immediately, while we have to wait weeks for ours to be brought from across the sea,” she responded. “In addition, General Norton’s bad defeat on the other side of the island has put us in a severe position of weakness. We will have to retreat to our interior line of forts despite the casualties we inflicted on the enemy today. Only when we receive full reinforcements can we go on the offensive again.”

“I have to admit, those female riders provided that extra push we needed,” said a general. “They came just in time.”

Katarina allowed herself a smile. “After seeing how well those girls performed in drills, I thought it was time to test them in battle. With their petite weight and fast riding speed, they’ll make an ideal light cavalry counterpart to our male heavy cavalry. All right, meeting adjourned. We’ve had a rough day and it’s time to get some rest.”

* * *

ROYAL AMAZON PALACE, AMAZON CAPITAL

“Fourteen hundred Amazons dead? By the Mother Goddess, Livia, what have you done?” Amazon Princess Jenova said to her sister. “We have not seen slaughter of that magnitude among our people since the days of the civil wars.”

Princess Livia glared at her younger sister. “I killed more of them than they killed ours! And we can get reinforcements a lot easier than they can!”

“War of attrition is not the Amazon way! The Amazon way is to strike fast and hard, hammer the enemy while they don’t know what’s hitting them, and retreat before we get into a situation where we’ll take many losses!”

“You won an easy victory over a MALE commander, while I had to fight a WOMAN, and you think that makes you better than me?! You think defeating a mere MAN makes you a great warrior?”

“Girls, ENOUGH!” shouted their mother, the Amazon Queen. “There will be NO MORE ARGUING! Now, let’s move on to more important matters. Jenova, I understand you have some prisoners?”

“Yes, Mother. About two hundred males, including about twenty officers. I was planning to interrogate the officers as soon as I had the time. The grunts can be inspected, with the strong ones to become breeder slaves and the rest to become slaves in the fields.”

“Let me handle the interrogations,” said Livia, a cruel look appearing in her eyes.

“Mother, please don’t…” began Jenova.

The Queen looked at her daughters. “Quiet, both of you. Just remember, Livia, that the purpose of torture in interrogation is to extract information, not to satisfy a desire for revenge after a battle gone wrong. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Mother,” Livia pouted.

“Good. Now since you said there are about twenty officers, I see no reason why both of you can’t work on questioning them. As for me, I will inspect the grunts and personally select those I feel suitable for status as breeders.”

* * *

FORT OSWEILER, ROYALIST COLONY

“A letter from the King, my Lady,” said the messenger, handing Katarina a sealed envelope.

“Thank you.” She opened the letter and began to shake as she read it:

“My dearest sister,

I am deeply saddened to report that our beloved father has died of a heart attack. As you know, he has named me heir to the throne. I am recalling you to the Imperial Capital immediately. Your silly island adventure has gone on long enough. A ship is waiting for you at the Colonial Capital.”

Katarina paused to wipe away the tears. Her father? Dead? Of a heart attack? It couldn’t be! He was in excellent health. No, her slimy brother must have had him poisoned! Earlier, she had been on the fence about being able to obey her brother’s orders, but that had been when she had thought her father would die a natural death. Now that her brother had revealed himself to be a vile sack of shit who murdered his own father, she knew that there was no way she could ever obey him. She clenched her fists, the muscles in her slender but muscular brown forearms rippling, as she continued to read:

“These gentlemen are here to escort you to the Imperial Capital and make sure you get there without any delays or misadventures.

Your brother and YOUR NEW RULER, AND DON’T YOU FORGET IT,

King Frederick X.”

The Princess looked up and saw four burly men pointing muskets at her. The messenger lowered his head. “I’m sorry, my Lady. I had no choice. Your brother is holding my wife and daughter hostage.”

One of the men, wearing the uniform of a major, suddenly stabbed the messenger in the back with his bayonet, the tip sticking out of the front of his chest. He withdrew it with a squishing sound as the messenger slumped down. “Yes, and your usefulness is over now. After the king gets tired of them, he’ll give your wife and daughter to us as a reward for a job well done,” the murderer sneered to the dying man. He then looked up at Katarina. “Let’s go, Princess.” He spat the last word.

Katarina looked around. The major smirked. “You think we haven’t thought of that? I have three hundred men here, personally hand-picked by the new king, who are loyal to me and have been specially selected for not wanting to take orders from women. They are all armed and alert, ready to take the unsuspecting men who are loyal to you by total surprise. All I have to do is shout and there will be a massacre. Now I’m sure you don’t want that, so I’m sure you’ll go quietly.”

She looked down at her feet, nodding with a sigh.

“Excellent. All right, men, play it cool. To anyone who doesn’t know, we’re just escorting the Princess. She knows not to try anything.” He began moving towards the exit of the large tent, another man beside him. The other two formed up behind her. Katarina saw out of the corner of her eye that their muskets were shouldered, so not to look suspicious.

She struck with lightning speed, performing a spin kick that struck both the men behind her in the face, knocking them down. She then grabbed the major and his companion and bashed their heads together, stunning them. Snatching up one of the muskets, she stabbed one man in the heart with the attached bayonet, kicked another in the head with enough strength to both fracture his skull and break his neck, and simply beat the third to death with the butt of the musket.

Only the major was left. She stood over him, then suddenly stabbed the bayonet right into his throat.

“All you have to do is shout. Too bad you can’t do that.”

She savagely twisted the point of the weapon, then withdrew it with a squishing sound. Blood sprayed out like a fountain.

She cautiously peeked outside as the major expired. Sure enough, her tent was surrounded by hundreds of men in identical uniforms to those of the major and his three goons. Further in the distance, she saw her regulars, blue-and-white uniformed men who were loyal to her, but they were unprepared. They had no idea what was going on, and being safe in the fort, most of them didn’t even have weapons on them.

Katarina tucked two double-barreled pistols into her belt, making sure they were loaded. She tucked a knife into each of her knee-high black leather boots, sheathed a sword on her hip, and finally slung the musket over her shoulder. She took a deep breath.

“This is for you, Father.”

She slipped out the back of the tent, a knife in each hand. The two men guarding the rear exit had their throats ripped open before they knew what was happening. She quietly shoved their corpses into the tent.

She began making her way as rapidly and silently as she could towards the nearest cluster of her loyal soldiers. If she was lucky, she could…

“Hey, she’s getting away!”

The enemy soldiers, who had been milling about, bored, jerked to attention. Katarina was already in action. She emptied both of her double-barreled pistols, killing the shouting man and three others. Tossing the empty weapons aside and drawing her knives, she stabbed a nearby man in the heart, then hurled both knives at a pair of soldiers taking aim at her with their muskets. Both dropped dead, one with a blade in his throat and the other with one in his eye.

“TRAITORS AND MURDERERS!” she shouted. “LOYAL SOLDIERS, YOUR PRINCESS NEEDS YOU!” There wasn’t time for proper explanations, but the soldiers had already heard the shots. Seeing these new, differently attired men attacking their Princess, the loyal soldiers sprang into action. A quick volley from several of them slammed into a squadron of enemies who had been taking aim at her.

Katarina raced for the cover of a large boulder. Two enemies popped up in her way, preparing to fire. She shot one dead with her musket, then suddenly did a standing layout backflip, being athletic enough to pull off the flip despite wearing a long dress. The second man’s musket ball flew safely between her legs as she was upside down.

She landed elegantly on her booted feet and charged him as he drew a pistol. Lashing out with her sword, she cut his hand off, snatched the pistol in midair, and whirled and shot dead another enemy who had been about to fire at her. She then turned back to the screaming one-handed man.

“No, please…”

She cut off his head, shutting him up.

Looking back again, she saw more enemies advancing. A gun battle had broken out between the loyal men and the traitors, but the traitors had the advantage of preparation and greater numbers. Seeing several muskets being aimed at her, she threw herself into a cartwheel followed by a series of fast back handsprings. Her elegant, blindingly fast backflips in the style of a pro-gymnast allowed her to dodge the musket balls fired at her. She finished her tumbling run with a high back tuck that took her over the boulder to land safely on the other side. She swiftly reloaded the pistol she had appropriated, then began reloading her musket.

She heard a noise behind her and whirled, aiming the pistol. An enemy was standing there, with the tip of a bayonet sticking out from his chest. The weapon was withdrawn and the corpse kicked down, revealing one of her officers standing behind him.

“Thank you, Colonel,” she said, squeezing his hand gratefully.

“Any time, my Princess.” He smiled as she went back to loading her musket.

On the parade grounds lay the corpses of a dozen loyal soldiers who had made a heroic stand. In front of them were at least fifty dead traitors. Still, Katarina knew that she and her allies were badly outnumbered. She alternated between firing her musket and pistol, while the colonel leaned out and fired from the other side of the boulder. Even though every one of their shots found its mark, and more loyal soldiers were firing at the enemy from different positions, there were perhaps twenty of her allies left alive, facing over two hundred enemies.

Katarina and her loyal men shot enemies dead by the dozens, but the enemy pressed on by sheer weight of numbers. One by one her blue-and-white coated allies were shot down. There were only a few left now. Was this how it was going to end?

Suddenly, a loud, clear female voice rang out. “Take aim! Fire!”

Musket balls slammed into the traitors, killing over half of them with a single devastating volley. Sure enough, in the distance stood a company of female Royalist soldiers in their sexy uniforms. The front line of girls knelt down, reloading their weapons and revealing a second line of ladies with muskets aimed.

The surviving enemies, suddenly facing fire from two sides, tried to turn around. They were greeted by a volley from the second female line. Blood splattered.

The few traitors left alive dropped their weapons and either raised their hands in surrender or began running away. The first line of female soldiers, who had finished reloading, coolly shot down the running men with expert precision. The second line charged the surrendering men with their bayonets, brutally stabbing them to death, showing them no mercy and giving the cowardly traitors exactly what they had coming. One enemy ran right by Katarina’s boulder. She stuck out her leg, tripping him and sending him to the dirt face first. Before he could get up, she stabbed him in the back with her sword. She spat on the corpse. A coward’s death for a traitor.

“My Princess,” said the female captain in command of the girl-soldiers, bowing.

“Rise, Captain,” Katarina said, giving her a hug. “You saved our lives.”

“So what happens now?” asked a female lieutenant.

“Little F probably already has an army on its way. Handpicked men who are loyal to him,” said the colonel grimly.

“Well, we…” Katarina began. Just then, a messenger rode up, staring at all the dead bodies.

“I’ll explain later,” said the Princess. “From the look on your face, you have something important to report.”

“Yes, my Lady. Amazons are approaching, two days’ march away. Eight thousand of them. A force of equal size marches on San Sebastian in the south.”

“By the gods,” murmured Katarina. “Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.”

They stood in the already battered stone fort, men and women together, knowing they faced an army of angry woman-haters on one side and an army of angry man-haters on the other. As if on cue, dark clouds covered the sun and a cold wind began to blow.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

Tales from the Amazon Wars, Episode 5

The two Amazon princesses, daughters of the great Queen, sat alone in the large command tent in the middle of the Amazon war camp. Livia, the older sister, the fiery woman with long straight auburn hair who was heiress to the throne, moved some figurines of army women across a map. “Take three brigades and attack the enemy on the other side of the island. I’ll take these five brigades here and attack that Katarina, that woman who fights for those men, and bring her down once and for all.”

Jenova, the calmer and more patient younger sister, ran a finger through her curly, shoulder-length jet black hair. “Only three? Let’s divide them evenly, four and four. The armies each of us will face are the same size.”

“You have the easy job,” said Livia. “All you have to do is defeat an army led by a man. I have to defeat a female commander. Now get your girls moving. You’ve got a long march ahead of you.”

“Yes, sister,” sighed Jenova reluctantly, departing the tent.

Livia watched her go, then ran her fingers over the map, knocking over the male figurines that represented the enemy. From the reports her scouts had brought her, Livia knew she would be facing perhaps 6000, or 6500 at the most, Royalist soldiers. Her force of 5000 Amazons should be able to defeat them easily. She had won facing worse odds many times before.

* * *

Princess Katarina, daughter of King Frederick IX and commander of the Royalist Army that had been sent to this island to defeat the Amazons, tossed and turned in her tent, unable to sleep. Every time she closed her eyes, she kept seeing those words from that letter from her father:

“I am naming your younger brother heir to the throne.”

Frederick Junior. Little F. Little Fuck-up. Her younger brother was far too incompetent to ever make a good king. But because of her father’s reasoning – that he feared she would be assassinated by power-hungry nobles who preferred the easy-to-manipulate Little F as ruler if she was named queen – the stupid young Little Fuck-up was being given this undeserved chance.

Despite his misguided decision, she loved her father. She would never betray him. As long as he was in charge, she would fight for king and country. But when Little F ascended to the throne…that would be a different story. Her two choices when that happened – obeying her idiotic little brother’s orders or committing treason – seemed equally repulsive. Luckily, it was a decision she would hopefully not have to make for many years. Her father was getting on in age, but was still strong and in good health.

She yawned. Running her fingers through her long silky black hair, she turned over and went to sleep.

* * *

General Norton sat on his horse, frowning as he surveyed his army. The general had been sent to lead this half of the Royalist relief force while Katarina led the other half. The army had marched out strong, 6000 infantry and 1000 cavalry, the same size as Katarina’s force. He wondered how she was doing, on the other side of the island. He was a capable officer – she wouldn’t have chosen him to lead if he had not been – but no man in the King’s army could match the Princess’s intelligence, leadership, or fighting skills.

His army was not so strong now, he thought worriedly. The small bands of Amazon troops had fallen back before the advance of his large force. But as they marched further inland, Amazon archers had begun nailing the fringes of his army with lethally accurate arrows, targeting officers first and always getting away before the Royalists could mount an effective response. Although the casualties they had taken were relatively light – about two hundred men dead – the disproportionate loss of officers and the fact that the Royalists had been unable to retaliate was crippling to morale. The biggest losses had come from desertion. Over a thousand men had deserted, some from simple cowardice and some tempted by greedy slick talkers who promised them riches and women if they became bandits roaming the countryside. Norton had ordered captured deserters beheaded to make examples of them, but still the desertions continued.

* * *

The band of 30 thuggish-looking deserters, hidden in the trees, smirked as they looked down at the three Amazon wagons passing by on the road below, each driven by a single teenage girl. After abandoning the Royalist army, they had raped and pillaged their way across the countryside, attacking their own citizens. Now, they would attack these girls. They didn’t care who they killed. They had lost all honor, if they had had any in the first place. The men aimed their muskets, waiting for the signal to fire.

But suddenly, all three wagon covers were ripped away, revealing half a dozen Amazon archers hidden in each wagon. With blinding speed and deadly accuracy, they released their arrows. Eighteen shots. Eighteen men dropped dead. At the same time, each of the girls driving the wagons drew hidden knives and threw them. Three more males dropped, blades driven straight into their hearts.

The survivors screamed in fear, panic, and shock. Some began running away, while others fired off their muskets, none of the bullets finding their mark. The Amazons reloaded and fired a second volley.

* * *

“My Princess Jenova. I bring you a gift,” said the slender, pretty teenage girl. She motioned with her slim wrist, bracelets sliding as she raised her arm, and two equally petite girls shoved forward two male captives, each wounded with an arrow right in their buttocks. The girls savagely kicked their victims, then yanked them up by their hair. “Show your faces to the Princess.”

“And what have we here?” asked Jenova.

“Deserters from the Royalist army, milady. They’ve been raping and pillaging their way across the countryside, attacking friend and foe alike. They thought they could ambush one of our caravans. Of course we outsmarted them. There were thirty of them. These are the only survivors.”

Jenova calmly walked up to the first prisoner. “You will tell me everything you know about the strength and position of the Royalist army.”

“Like hell I will, bitch,” he spat at her. Despite having deserted from the army and having no loyalty to it, he didn’t want to talk because he was a sexist pig who hated the idea of obeying a woman.

The Amazon princess, in one fluid motion, drew her sword and cut off his head. Ignoring the blood splattering all over her dress, she turned to the second captive and said, “You will tell me…”

“Yes, yes, of course! I’ll tell you everything!” He was shrieking, sobbing, begging for his life to be spared.

“Squeeze all you can out of him, then use him for target practice,” Jenova whispered to the teenage girl next to her. The girl nodded and smirked. Jenova crossed her slender but muscular arms in front of her as she watched. She wasn’t a sadist like her sister, but cowardly deserters who raped and pillaged even their own people deserved no mercy.

* * *

“The Amazons are coming! The Amazons are coming!” shouted the scout. “General Norton, the Amazons are charging! Cavalry coming up on us very fast! Infantry behind them!”

The general looked off into the distance in alarm. 500 Amazon heavy cavalry were charging the front part of his long column of marching soldiers, their lances already lowered. Further back, he could see a thousand female archers, accompanied by a thousand swordswomen, jogging towards the scene of the coming battle, their fit bodies showing no sign of getting tired. In the rear, Princess Jenova, in command, sat on her horse, calling out orders.

The Royalists were in panic mode, despite the attacking Amazon force being only half their size. Some fired their muskets wildly, but the ragged shots had no chance of stopping the powerful charge of the horsewomen. As they frantically tried to reload their muskets, they froze in fear as it became clear that the Amazons would crash into them before they could fire their second shots. Some of the men dropped their weapons and raised their hands in surrender. It did them no good. The sexy warrior maidens, showing no mercy, rode into them, impaling male soldiers with their lances or simply trampling them to death. Other men tried to run away, but they were swiftly ridden down by the girls or slain with well-aimed axe throws to their retreating backs.

“FORM SQUARES, YOU FOOLS!” roared General Norton. “FORM SQUARES!” The Royalist soldiers finally began forming up. It was too late for many of them, who were slaughtered by the Amazon riders before they could get into formation, but the surviving infantry managed to group themselves into four large squares of a thousand men each, with the commanding officers clustered in the center of each one. A thousand infantrymen already lay dead on the field.

General Norton and his staff officers, on a small hill to the rear of his army, barked more orders as he continued observing the scene. “Artillerymen, get those cannons set up, and start blasting the enemy! Cavalry, hold but be prepared to charge at a moment’s notice!”

The Royalist force was well-equipped with 20 cannons, but the slow, clumsy weapons took time to set up. Meanwhile, Jenova, recognizing the danger the squares would pose to her cavalry despite never having seen those tactics before, uttered a sharp command and through a rapid relay of signals, her horsewomen retreated under orders and regrouped in the rear.

In their place, the female archers marched up and began firing into the squares with their powerful longbows. Despite being outnumbered four to one, the longbow-women were able to dominate the field with their long-range weapons, which could kill at 300 yards, while the Royalists’ muskets had an effective range of only 100 yards. Slowly but steadily, male bodies began dropping with arrows impaled in them, while the musket balls they fired back at the enemy fell short into the ground.

Finally, the cannons, set up in four rows of five each, were ready. They began blasting the girl-archers with grapeshot and canister. The longbow-women’s arrows couldn’t reach the cannons, but they continued firing into the musketeers, who still couldn’t hit back with the shorter range of their weapons. “Infantry into line formation. Prepare to advance,” ordered General Norton.

Jenova scowled as she watched the scene. Livia had refused to allow her to take any of the cannons the Amazons had captured with her army, saying they had to march quickly across the island and the artillery would slow them down too much. Now she would have to make do with what she had.

She knew she had to act fast. As the blue-coated Royalists shifted from one formation to another, she gave a signal with her fist. Immediately, the thousand Amazon swordswomen charged straight at the male infantry with spine-chilling warrior cries. As soon as they got within a hundred yards, they threw their athletic female bodies into cartwheels followed by back handsprings, elegantly backflipping at incredible speed towards their targets.

The male soldiers were not yet properly formed into lines, and their musket fire was ragged and ineffective, only scoring a few lucky hits. The cannons fired into the charging swordswomen, but the Amazons were charging in a loose formation instead of being densely packed, limiting the effectiveness of the artillery. In less than twenty seconds, the rapidly flick-flacking girls crashed into the male soldiers, forcing the cannoneers to stop firing so they wouldn’t hit their own men. The swordswomen, each wielding a blade in each hand, easily sliced and diced their way through their male victims, the Royalists’ bayonets being no match for them. Slowly but steadily, they began chewing up the much larger male army.

Then a war horn sounded. The Amazon heavy cavalry were charging again. General Norton barked more orders. “Cavalry, intercept the enemy riders! Artillery, soften up the horsewomen, then switch to the archers when our boys ride into them!”

At first, it seemed to be working, although the cannons weren’t able to do much damage to the Amazon cavalry because of the speed of their charge. But the Royalist cavalry attacked their female counterparts, seemingly pinning them between the infantry and themselves…

Suddenly, 500 light horsewomen charged out of the nearby woods where they had been hiding. Jenova had kept them in reserve, waiting for a situation just like this. Now, the Amazon light cavalry attacked with arrows and thrown spears and axes from the other side, making it the Royalist cavalry’s turn to be facing a double-sided attack. Panicking, the surviving male riders urged their horses away in a rapid retreat until they were under the covering fire of the cannons.

Now freed, the Amazon heavy cavalry rode straight into the mass of male infantry, lancing and trampling everything in their path and splitting the Royalist force in two. They, along with the swordswomen, completely surrounded the far half of the male army, while horse archers and longbow-women fired over their comrades’ heads and into the trapped men. Meanwhile, Jenova detached part of the female infantry from the main Amazon army and personally charged forward to lead the small force of swordswomen and archers to attack the other half of the Royalist army.

“Retreat!” shouted General Norton. “First line of cannons, keep firing! Cover the retreat and hold off the enemy for as long as possible! Get the rest of the cannons hitched up to the horses and get them out of here!”

“My lord,” said one of his staff officers. “What about the men on the far side?”

The general shook his head. “They’re lost. All we can do now is save the other half of the army.”

“And the front line of cannons?”

“Better to lose five cannons than twenty.”

The staff officer gulped and nodded, glad that he was not one of the expendables.

Men, horses, and cannons hurried away from the battlefield as fast as they could. When they had passed, the soldiers manning the front line of five cannons that had been ordered to cover the retreat were left alone on a ridge, firing desperately at the screaming, charging Amazons led by sexy Jenova.

An explosion of canister blew several Amazons in the front rank to pieces and splattered Jenova with blood. Some of the younger girls began to hesitate, but the Amazon princess, with a shrill shriek, drew back her bow and fired a perfectly aimed shot right into the heart of a man just before he could light the fuse to another cannon. With cheers, the Amazons, now in archery range, fired a devastating volley into the cannoneers. The survivors turned and ran, but were all shot down by a second volley.

General Norton took one last, sad look at the scene below him before turning his horse away. In the distance, the surrounded men were screaming, begging, pleading, their horrified cries audible even at the great distance. He shook his head. It was them or the whole army.

“Secure these cannons!” Jenova ordered. “Drag them back to our lines. Archers, cover them and drive off anyone who tries to take the cannons back, but do not pursue.” With that, she rode back to the main force of Amazons.

In the middle of the deadly trap, there were only a few hundred men left alive, surrounded by piles of male corpses. The highest-ranking Royalist left, a colonel, raised a white flag of surrender.

“What say you, milady?” the commander of the archers asked Jenova. “Do we take prisoners or slaughter them all?”

“I’ll handle this,” said the Princess. “Cease fire!” she ordered. The girl-archers looked at her, most of them wanting to continue the massacre, but obeyed their Princess’s order.

“Drop your weapons!” Jenova ordered the men. “Form one line, facing me! Officers, stand in a separate group over there!”

The terrified males quickly obeyed her command. Because the Amazons were wearing their traditional leather uniforms of short shorts, tank tops, and knee-high boots, showing off their tanned, muscular bodies, many of the men had hard-ons despite their fear. Some of the men who were badly wounded remained on the ground, moaning. Even some of the wounded males had erections.

Jenova, smirking to herself at the men “standing at attention,” addressed the line of enlisted men. “Starting from this end, every third man step forward!”

Again they obeyed. The Amazon Princess raised her arm, then lowered it. A perfectly aimed volley of arrows slammed into the soldiers who had been ordered forward, each arrow striking its target right between the eyes. A hundred men fell dead in complete unison. The males still standing quivered in terror. Some wet their pants.

Jenova addressed the survivors coldly. “I am capable of showing mercy. I will never show weakness. That demonstration was to assure you that what I am showing now is the former and not the latter. You are now the property of the Amazon Nation. Accept your fate, and you will live. Resist, and you will die.”

Unarmed, she walked fearlessly up to the line of men, most of whom were taller than her and all of whom were heavier than the slender girl. She strolled in front of them, looking straight into the frightened eyes of each captive she passed, and stopped in front of one. “What are you?”

“I am a soldier of the Royalist army, loyal servant of His Majesty, King Fred…”

With lightning speed, Jenova performed a standing backflip, kicking the speaker in the underside of his jaw. Her backflip kick was so powerful that it broke his neck instantly with a sickening CRACK. The odd angle of his neck as he fell to the dirt left no doubt that he was now a corpse.

The Princess’s face remained expressionless as she landed perfectly on her booted feet. She turned to the next man. “What are y…”

“I am a humble male slave, the property of the Amazon Nation!” he cried in panic. She smirked. Looking at the other men, her gaze was met with submissive lowerings of heads. She nodded in satisfaction, then, with a series of elegant standing back handsprings, made her way back to her officers.

“Shackle the men and march them off with the other spoils of battle,” she ordered. “Keep the officers separate, I’m going to interrogate them later. Any man who is wounded too badly to walk…put him out of his misery.”

* * *

Princess Katarina’s army marched through the green, rolling hills towards Amazon territory. Like she had earlier, Katarina rode up and down the column, checking in with each of her high-ranking officers, making sure that everything was all right and keeping a sharp eye out for any Amazon ambushes.

Suddenly, there was a commotion from the rear. “A messenger!” came a shout. A haggard-looking soldier rode up and handed the Princess a sealed envelope.

“For your eyes only, my Lady.”

“Thank you.” She found a private spot to the side of the column, then opened the letter. She cursed as she read it.

Katarina rode over to her chief of staff. “Norton suffered a bad defeat. He lost half his army and five of his cannons. The survivors have retreated to our fortifications at San Sebastian, licking their wounds.”

The male officer shook his head. “Perhaps if I had been in command of that force…”

She gave him a hard stare. “Most likely, your army would have suffered the same fate. It appears that it takes a woman to stand up to the might of these Amazons. I hope you are not questioning my decisions on who to appoint as my division commanders.”

“Of c…course not, my Princess. I’m sorry.”

“That’s what I thought. Now, back to business. If we can defeat the enemy on this side of the island, we can secure the northern flank of our territory, then march south again and intercept any enemy that might be coming to attack.” She raised her arm, bracelets sliding down her slender wrist. “Messenger!”

The haggard rider hurried over. “Yes, milady?”

“Get a message to my father. I want two full divisions of reinforcements from the mainland. And one more message, this one for the Colonial Capital.” She whispered into his ear and he nodded.

“Yes, my Princess.” He swiftly rode off into the distance.

Katarina turned back to her chief of staff. “Until we get those reinforcements, with Norton’s losses we simply don’t have the manpower for large-scale offensive operations. After this battle we’ll have to confine ourselves to defending the part of the island between San Sebastian in the south and Fort Osweiler in the north until fresh troops arrive. Keep Norton’s defeat secret, I don’t want the men’s morale to drop into the toilet. I’m going up ahead to talk with the scouts.”

Katarina rode up to the scout commander. “What have you to report, Captain?”

“This open country continues for a little while longer, my Lady. However, sometime tomorrow the main route would take us into a narrow canyon. It would be…you know.”

She nodded. “Way too easy for the Amazons to ambush us there. We’ll have to come up with an alternate plan.” She looked at the sun, low in the western sky. “Keep on for another hour, then we’ll make camp for the night.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

Tales from the Amazon Wars, Episode 4

Early the next morning, as the army was on its way again, a squadron of scouts rode up to Roslyn. “My Princess. I think you’ll want to see this,” said their commander. They led her to a group of seven male heads, decapitated and impaled on pikes. The heads were those of Prince Antonius and his six generals.

“Bury those quickly, and don’t let the rest of the men see them,” she ordered. Roslyn shook her head. She knew she was “supposed” to feel sorrow for the loss of her brother, but he and his twin had been nothing but arrogant jerks to her all their lives. She just wasn’t feeling much at all.

It was around noon when it became clear that a major battle would start soon. The two sides’ cavalry had been skirmishing all morning, with the action steadily increasing in intensity. Finally, the Amazon horse archers approached the Imperial army en masse, preparing for a full-on attack.

The teenage Amazon princess whose little force of 2000 women had effortlessly slaughtered 20,000 men smirked arrogantly as her horse archers approached the enemy. She had cockily refused her Queen’s offer of reinforcements for the next battle, thinking that if her small army could exterminate 20,000 so easily, what was 9000 to them? Unfortunately for her, she had no idea that Roslyn was in command.

“This is it, men,” said Roslyn, riding back and forth across her force’s lines, trying to comfort and encourage the soldiers who knew what this girl-army had done to their comrades. “Stand strong. For the Empire! Archers, prepare to fire on my signal.”

And so it began, 1500 Imperial crossbowmen versus 1200 female horse archers. The crossbowmen readied their Mark VIIs. Roslyn’s trained eyes watched the enemy horsewomen ride closer and closer. When she judged the distance to be just right, she shouted, “FIRE!”

A volley of steel bolts flew towards the Amazons. Many fell short and many missed the petite, fast moving targets, but several dozen riders fell off their horses and hit the desert floor hard. The Amazons fired a volley of arrows in response, but the lesser range of their bows caused them to fall short.

“NOW! SHIELDS!” screamed Roslyn. The crossbowmen removed the massive shields they had been carrying on their backs and planted them into the ground. Ducking behind cover, they reloaded their weapons as the Amazons, whose bows could be fired much more quickly, sent another shower of projectiles.

The Amazon Princess cursed as she saw the arrows slam harmlessly into the shields. And she couldn’t order her force to ride around and attack the enemy from behind because the river was covering their rear. A lesser force, a force of men, would have ridden away. But the Amazons were women with balls (not literally, of course). The riders charged closer, screaming war cries. The crossbowmen fired another volley, dropping several dozen more Amazons, but now the girl-archers were in range themselves. Some of the fastest and most accurate markswomen were able to kill Imperial targets as they popped out from behind their shields to shoot.

Both Princess Roslyn and the Amazon Princess quickly ordered their troops to begin firing at will instead of using volleys. A nail-biting archery duel developed. At first, the Imperials had the upper hand thanks to the greater range of their weapons and their shields, but as the horsewomen drew closer, they were able to fire their bows at steep upward angles, avoiding the shields and nailing men in the backs of their necks or tops of their skulls. And the Imperials’ Mark VII crossbows, though much faster to fire than the Mark VIs that Antonius had foolishly used, were still a lot slower than the Amazon horse archers’ bows. Soon, male bodies began dropping much faster than females.

Roslyn was ready. “Cavalry charge!” she ordered, preparing to lead them herself. Trumpets blared as she led her 1500 light horsemen against the Amazon horse archers. Blocking an arrow with her shield, she killed the shooter with a well-aimed and powerfully thrown spear. There was a brief further exchange of arrows and thrown spears, resulting in a few dozen casualties on each side, before the Amazons retreated. Seeing the 800 Amazon heavy cavalry waiting in the distance, Roslyn ordered her own force to retreat as well.

“Now what?” asked one of her generals.

“We wait,” she said simply.

The Amazon commander cursed again as her horse archers retreated. “Attack! Attack, you cowards!” the hotheaded teenage girl screamed.

“My Princess, please,” said a middle-aged woman, an advisor who had been sent by the Queen to prevent the fiery princess from getting herself or her army into too much trouble. “They would have been caught between the enemy cavalry and the crossbows. They had to retreat. They had no choice.”

“Then send the heavy cavalry to attack!”

“My Lady, the enemy has spears backed with crossbows. It would be suicide. They outnumber us almost five to one. We must send for reinforcements. Then we will be able to defeat them.”

The teenage Amazon growled angrily. “We were able to defeat them effortlessly when they outnumbered us ten to one! Why do they fight like they have balls all of a sudden?!”

“I think I can answer that, my Princess,” said one of the horse archers. “I saw their commander. It’s a woman.”

Nods of understanding came from the Amazons at that. “But why would a woman fight for those males?” asked the Princess.

“That question will have to wait,” said the advisor. “Right now, we need to focus on getting those reinforcements.”

As the Amazons retreated into the distance on their horses, the Imperial army let out a loud cheer, whooping and hollering. Roslyn was about to remind them that all they had done was run off a force barely one-fifth their size, but stopped herself. Let them have this, she thought. It would be good for morale. The men certainly seemed happier and less frightened as they were setting up camp, the Imperial Princess thought as she stepped into the command tent that evening for a meeting with her senior officers.

“We lost slightly more than 200 men. The Amazons lost a little less than that,” one of her generals reported. “However, because their force was much smaller, proportionately they suffered a much greater percentage of casualties. They can’t sustain that, so I wouldn’t expect any more attacks until they get reinforcements.”

“Conventional attacks, yes,” said Roslyn. “But they may try more sneak attacks at night.” She had already ordered double sentries looking out over the desert and triple sentries on the river. “We’ll continue to advance along the river towards enemy territory. The big battle is yet to come.”

Suddenly, a man wearing the uniform of an Imperial Messenger burst into the tent. “My Lady,” he said, bowing to the Princess and handing her a sealed envelope. “From the King himself, for your eyes only.”

Roslyn thanked and dismissed him, then opened the letter. Her eyes widened as she read it:

“My dear daughter,

Your brother, Albert, has returned to the capital with the tattered remnants of an army, most of which he squandered in foolish suicide attacks against the barbarians of the north. That was the last straw. With the lack of intellect of both of my sons and the death of Antonius, I am naming you the heir to the throne. I know you will make a strong and wise Queen when it is your time.

Good luck in your battle and know that win or lose, a crown is waiting for you upon your return home.

Love, Father”

Roslyn pumped her fist in triumph, then noticed that all the men in the tent were staring at her. “You are dismissed,” she said quickly.

Three days later, a scout returned with the news the Imperials had all been anticipating. “An Amazon army marches on us. Their numbers match ours. Nine thousand men…er, women.”

“Thank you,” said Roslyn. She nodded to herself. Now would be the real test. Fighting against these lethal Amazons in numbers equal to her own.

The plain of battle was hot, dusty, and dry, with the fierce desert sun beating down on both armies. The Amazons had formed up in a strong defensive position to the east of Roslyn’s army, with the river covering one of their flanks and a mass of cavalry guarding the other. The girl-warriors were simply holding and making no move to charge. The Imperials would have to attack with the sun shining right at their faces.

“Clever,” Roslyn murmured. “They can outwait us. Our supply lines are longer and we don’t know this territory as well as they do. They’ve forced us onto the offensive in a disadvantageous postion.”

“Shall I order the men to begin advancing, my Lady?” one of her generals asked.

“Not yet. Give the sun a little time to rise further so it won’t be right in their eyes. Hold a defensive position for now in case they attack.”

As they waited, Roslyn ordered her light cavalry to use their spyglasses to gather as much information about the enemy as they could. “They have heavy and light cavalry massed at the north. Swordswomen lined up two deep facing us to the south of the riders, with archers right behind them and the main body of swordswomen in the rear,” came the report.

She nodded, looking at the sun. The angle wasn’t too bad now, and if she waited much longer it would get very hot. The heat would impact the heavily armored, cold-climate-dwelling Imperials much more than it would the lightly armored, darkly tanned Amazons. “Thank you. General, prepare your men to advance. Crossbowmen, load. Prepare to fire on my order.”

The Imperial crossbowmen, locked and loaded, marched forward. Roslyn’s trained eyes judged the distance as it grew closer and closer, waiting to deliver the first volley at their exact maximum range.

But suddenly, a barrage of arrows came flying at the crossbowmen. They slammed into the front ranks of males with devastating efficiency, dropping many dead and others with gory wounds from the thick, massive arrows. The Amazon archers, tall, ultra-muscular women with the enormous strength needed to draw back their lethal long-range longbows, laughed triumphantly and prepared to fire again.

Chaos erupted in the Imperial ranks. Some of the crossbowmen loosed their bolts, which fell short of the enemy. Others began to turn and run. “What devilry is this, bows with a longer range than ours?” cried an officer.

“Now is not the time to wonder about that,” said Roslyn, urging her horse forward. “HOLD, YOU FOOLS!” she screamed at the crossbowmen. “DON’T RETREAT! HOLD YOUR FIRE AND USE YOUR SHIELDS!”

Her strong leadership restored order, and the crossbowmen planted their shields into the ground, hiding behind them as the female archers fired another volley. Some men were too slow and dropped dead, but most of them were safe behind their shields this time.

“In range! NOW! FIRE!” she shouted. A barrage of steel bolts flew towards the Amazons. It was not as efficient as it should have been, since some of the men had foolishly fired earlier and were still reloading, but she knew that they had to get a first volley off before the enemy reloaded. Several dozen Amazons fell to the ground.

“Fire at will!” ordered Princess Roslyn and the commander of the girl-archers to their respective armies. Again an archery duel erupted. The Amazon longbows could fire ten arrows a minute compared with the Imperial crossbows’ four. At first, the males’ shields evened things out, only allowing the Amazons to hit them when they popped out to fire, but as the armies drew closer the female archers were able to shoot at steeper angles, sending arrows over the shields and into the men’s skulls. Once they were able to do that, the Amazons’ superior firepower and markswomanship meant that three or four males were dropping dead for every female.

Although few knights had traveled with the army, their leader, Duke Larssen, a fat fool who was called Duke Lardo behind his back, was there, along with about 80 other mounted noblemen. The duke growled, annoyed at having to serve under a woman and wanting glory for himself. “Prepare to charge!” he ordered his knights. “We’ll sweep those archer bitches off the field. Swordswomen just two ranks deep in front of them? We’ll mow them down like grass.”

“Crossbowmen, retreat under shields!” Roslyn ordered. “Infantry, first division, advan…what the fuck?”

With a roar, Duke Larssen and his 80 knights were charging across the plain. The Amazons pumped arrows into them. By the time they reached the enemy line, 60 of them were dead. The 20 survivors prepared to ride into the front ranks of swordswomen, but the girls suddenly picked up long spears that had been hiding in the dirt. The knights rode into them and were impaled and slaughtered to the last man. A slender teenage girl with dark brown skin and long silky black hair cut off the duke’s head with her sword and impaled it on a spear.

“Fucking idiots,” said Roslyn. “Now, back to real war. Infantry, first division, advance!” The Imperial infantry marched forward. Arrows slammed into their shields. Other men were not so lucky, as arrows nailed their heads from above. Behind them, Roslyn re-formed the crossbowmen. They fired over the infantry’s heads and into the Amazons, reducing the pressure somewhat.

In the front of the Amazon ranks, 150 teenage girls with swords and spears formed a thin brown line, guarding the Amazon archers firing over their heads behind them, standing with balls of steel as thousands of Imperial heavy infantrymen drew closer and closer. Though outnumbered 20 to 1 and occasionally being hit by bolts from the crossbowmen, they showed no fear.

Suddenly, with perfect coordination, the girls hurled their spears at the faces of the front ranks of Imperial infantry. Only a few men moved their shields upward in time and over a hundred males dropped stone cold dead. The girls then hurled themselves into cartwheels followed by back handsprings, elegantly backflipping towards their enemies with incredible speed. They finished their tumbling runs with high back tuck somersaults, flipping right over the first rank of Imperials, landing perfectly on their feet right behind them, and wreaking havoc with their swords on the men’s vulnerable backsides. With their speed, most of the girls were able to kill several men each before being cut down.

Meanwhile, the Amazons had moved the rest of their swordswomen to the front, with the longbow-women behind them. When the maneuver was complete, the survivors from the girls who had penetrated the male ranks quickly backflipped away.

As the two main bodies of infantry clashed, the Amazon cavalry charged. The Imperial light cavalry intercepted their Amazon counterparts, a bloody battle of arrows and thrown spears followed by hand-to-hand combat with swords and axes breaking out. Meanwhile, the Amazon heavy cavalry rode around the Imperials, preparing to attack their rear.

Roslyn gave a signal with a whistle from her full, pouty lips. A detachment of reserve infantry, shields and spears at the ready, formed up to guard the rear. Behind them, a force of crossbowmen moved into position, ready to fire over their comrades’ heads. She then rejoined her staff officers.

“Shit. Heavy cavalry to the west, light cavalry to the north, infantry to the east, and the river to the south. They’ve got us surrounded. We’re trapped!” a young officer panicked.

“Quiet, Major,” Princess Roslyn ordered him. “We’re surrounded. We’re not trapped. Spears backed with crossbows guard our western flank. Their cavalry can’t get past that. We are meant to *think* we are trapped, so we will panic. But we will not panic. Right, Major?”

“Right. Sorry, my Lady.”

From a small hill overlooking the battle, the hotheaded teenage Amazon princess in command of the female army smirked. “They’re surrounded. They must be panicking. Heavy cavalry, charge the line. They’ll turn and run. Then we can hit their main force from the rear, double envelop them, and finish them off.”

“My Princess, please,” said the middle-aged advisor. “If they *don’t* run, our girls will ride into a wall. Let’s just contain them for now and tighten the noose slowly.”

“Morwen, please,” said the Amazon Princess. “I’m in command here. They’ll run. Now give the signal to charge.”

800 Amazon heavy cavalry charged the western Imperial line. Roslyn rode over to her men. “Steady, boys. They’re trying to scare us. Don’t run.” The men, facing Amazon war horses thundering towards them, probably would have run if she hadn’t been there, but her presence was enough to bring calm and strength to them.

As the enemy riders entered crossbow range without turning away, she ordered, “Give them a volley.” A barrage of steel bolts flew towards the Amazons. A few dozen riders fell off their horses and into the desert sand. The cavalry commander wisely turned the rest of her girls away.

Meanwhile, in the main infantry battle, although both sides were taking heavy casualties, the heavy armor and large shields of the Imperials were actually doing some good. They were slowly pushing the Amazons back. “By the gods,” breathed one of Roslyn’s generals. “Could we actually win?”

Roslyn’s heart was pounding. She forced herself to remain calm, concentrating on keeping an eye on every part of the battle, not counting her chickens before they hatched.

The Amazon Princess scowled as Morwen gave her a look. “Don’t give me that ‘I told you so’ look,” she growled. “I’m going to win this battle, one way or another, and annihilate the enemy. Queen’s Guard! Forward, with me!”

The Amazon Queen’s Guard, a hand-picked elite corps of 300 ultra-lethal female warriors, the best of the best, who had each personally slain at least 50 men in combat, began advancing in perfect formation as the hotheaded princess dismounted her horse and joined them. The other Amazons parted to make way for them. Morwen sighed. She had no choice but to pray that this would work.

Roslyn raised her eyebrows as she noticed. “They’re going for the whole enchilada. They’re going to try to smash our lines. Imperial Guard! Forward, with me!”

The Imperial Guard, a hand-picked elite corps of 400 men, veterans of many wars and the best soldiers in the Imperial army, formed up and began advancing. Roslyn turned to the colonel who had survived Antonius’ foolish ambush. “Besides myself, you’re the strongest leader here. Protect our rear. Don’t let the men panic, and don’t let anything break this line. If it does, we’re doomed.” As an afterthought, she added, “No pressure,” hoping the joke would relieve the tension. It worked, as all the men laughed.

Turning serious again, Roslyn dismounted, exchanging her small round cavalry shield for a large, rectangular infantry one. She patted the sword sheathed on her hip, covered her head and face with a helmet, grabbed a spear, and hurried to catch up with the Imperial Guard, positioning herself in the front rank.

The regular Imperial infantry, who had been slowly pushing the enemy back, gasped in shock and fear when the lines of Amazons suddenly parted and 300 incredibly beautiful and muscular women were coming at them with elegant aerial cartwheels followed by whipbacks. They backflipped with lightning speed, crashing into the still-startled men and slicing, dicing, and decapitating their way through the male ranks. Now the momentum was reversed, with the female army advancing and the lucky men retreating – and the unlucky men dying.

The Amazon princess roared with laughter as she cut a man’s head off, sliced another in half, and slit the throats of two more. Men were slaughtered by the hundreds, and still none of the Amazon Queen’s Guard had suffered anything worse than a minor cut.

The regular male soldiers gladly parted to make way for the Imperial Guard. All of a sudden, Roslyn and her men were facing the Amazon Princess and her women. Two elite forces, the best of their respective armies. They stared at one another for a second.

Then they both charged, spears, swords, and shields clashing as they collided. Roslyn blocked a spear thrust with her shield and stabbed her attacker in the foot with her own spear. With a cry of pain, the Amazon’s shield dropped. Roslyn impaled her through the heart, then kicked the body off and slit another Amazon’s throat with the razor-sharp end of her spear.

A girl’s blade flashed. Roslyn moved just enough to avoid having her right arm cut off, although she still received a nasty gash on her shoulder, the pain causing her to involuntarily drop her spear. She lashed out with a kick, knocking her opponent back long enough for her to draw her sword. They battled, swords striking each other’s shields for a few seconds, until Roslyn suddenly backflip kicked the Amazon in the face, stunning her. Before she could recover, Roslyn cut off her head.

She glanced around, quickly guesstimating the dead on each side. Although the Imperial Guardsmen were much better fighters than the male regulars, she still counted two dead men for every dead woman. And her side only outnumbered the enemy 400 to 300. This wasn’t going to work. Already the men were being pushed back. If the Amazons broke through, the Imperial army would collapse.

She looked over at the Amazon Princess, who was gleefully slaughtering men left and right with incredible skill. If this had been a movie, she would have challenged her to Noble One-on-One Single Combat (TM), but this wasn’t a movie. The Amazon leader had foolishly and arrogantly not bothered to hide who she was. Roslyn, on the other hand, equipped with the same weapons and shield as her men and wearing the face mask, looked like any other soldier, though smaller. Still, none of the enemy knew who she was. If they did, she knew she would have been immediately targeted.

No, it was time to end this, once and for all. Snatching up her spear, she hurled it with perfect accuracy at the Amazon Princess. The weapon impaled her right in the throat, the tip sticking out of the back of her neck. She stood ramrod straight for a second, then collapsed. The Amazons froze in shock for just a split second. That was enough. With a high-pitched shriek, Roslyn led the Imperial Guard in a counterattack.

A piercing whistle cut across the battlefield. The surviving Queen’s Guardswomen began backflipping away like pro-gymnasts. A few of the men who had been standing too close had their necks broken by the powerful backflip kicks.

All across the battlefield, Amazons moved away in a calm and orderly retreat. “Let them go,” ordered Roslyn. “They have archers covering them, and we’ve been pounded enough.” She examined the wound on her shoulder. Nasty-looking, but not really serious. She could still swing her sword and throw her spear.

A ragged cheer went up from the bruised and battered men as the enemy disappeared into the distance. One of her generals rode up to her. “Congratulations on your victory, my Lady.”

Roslyn looked around, surveying the heaps of her dead men, including many high-ranking officers. “One more victory like this, and we are ruined,” she responded grimly.

In the fortified Imperial camp by the river, Roslyn met with her surviving senior officers in the command tent. “I have the count,” said a general. “2000 of our men are dead. 800 are wounded too badly to fight if the Amazons attack again, and another thousand are wounded but capable of combat.”

Roslyn shook her head. “One-third of our force is out of action, many of them permanently. How about the enemy?”

“We counted 1200 Amazons dead on the field. That’s all we killed, they didn’t have time to carry off their dead. We don’t know how many of them are wounded but the number will probably be lower than ours.”

“So not only do they outnumber us now, but they can get reinforcements quickly, while ours will take weeks. In addition, their foolish commander who made mistakes is dead and has in all likelihood been replaced by someone far smarter.” Roslyn wondered if she should have left the hotheaded Amazon alive, but it was only her death that had stopped the elite Amazons’ charge. It had been a no-win situation.

“Gentlemen, it’s time to face reality,” Roslyn continued. “If we fight them again, our chances of victory are very slim.”

“So what are we going to do?” asked a colonel. “Just retreat?”

“No,” said Roslyn. “If we did that, they would probably follow us. Most likely invade our territory. No, I think it’s time for a parley.”

“A parley? Those Amazons slaughtered the men from our first army who tried to surrender,” said a general. “I don’t think they’ll be very open to negotiation.”

“Not with a man. But I don’t believe they will harm a female emissary. And with that hotheaded princess dead, cooler heads should be in command now. I will send one of my female servants over to their camp with a flag of truce.”

“An enemy rider approaches! He carries a white flag,” an Amazon scout reported.

“He is a fool, then,” said a muscular female archer, reaching for an arrow.

“Wait,” said her commander. “The rider is a woman. Let’s see what she wants.”

* * *

“My Lady,” said the servant, bowing as she entered the Imperial command tent. “The enemy commander has agreed to a parley with you. Tomorrow at noon.”

“Thank you,” said Roslyn, squeezing the girl’s hand. “You were very brave. You will be rewarded for this.” She turned to her officers. “It is settled then. Tell the sentries to stay sharp. I don’t think they’ll try anything now but you never know.”

The night passed without incident, however. The next morning, the two armies formed up on the dusty desert plain, ready to fight if the negotiations went bad. The tension was thick as the forces faced each other. “Don’t let any of the men do anything stupid,” the Princess instructed her senior general.

“Yes, milady.” As she began riding away from her lines, he added, “Good luck.”

Roslyn looked at her counterpart as the two women rode towards each other. She was tall, slender, and beautiful, with long light brown hair and an elegant, high-cheekboned face. Though she was an older woman, probably in her forties, her hazel eyes still sparkled with energy.

The woman dismounted elegantly despite the long dress she was wearing. As Roslyn dismounted as well and looked into the other woman’s face, she saw a long scar running down her cheek, looking like it was from a battle many years ago.

“Princess Roslyn. I am Morwen, senior advisor to the Queen of the Amazon Nation.”

“It is good to meet you, Morwen,” said Roslyn formally.

“You may dispense with the pleasantries. I only agreed to this meeting because you are a woman in command of these men. If you have something you feel is worthy of my time, then speak it.”

Roslyn took a deep breath. Her opponent was clearly powerful and cunning. She would have to play this just right. The fate of thousands lay in her hands.

“If that is your wish, then so be it. We did not want a war with the Amazon Nation. This conflict began when one hundred of our men were slaughtered in an outpost on our own territory, without provocation.”

“Without provocation? I guess the one man our girls left alive just long enough to tell the story didn’t tell the whole truth. He didn’t tell you that those soldiers at the outpost decided to entertain themselves by sailing down the river into Amazon land and attempting to rape Amazon women. Of course that ended in the invaders being slaughtered. Then we nailed the rest of them at the outpost in retaliation.”

Roslyn stared in shock, then clenched her fists in anger. Those stupid fools, thinking with their cocks. They had gotten thousands killed. And their idiocy had placed her in a very difficult position.

“My Lady, I am sorry. I did not know. If I had known, things would have gone very differently.”

“Would they now.” Morwen’s tone showed no emotion at all.

“Yes. But at any rate, whether you believe me or not, that is in the past and cannot be undone. We must focus on the present. Many have died on both sides. Both our armies are battered. There is no need for more killing. I offer a treaty of peace.”

“Are you still under the command of your father?”

“Well, of course. He is the King…”

“The Amazon Nation does not sign treaties with men. However, I have an offer of my own. Join us. Become a general of the Amazon army. You know everything about those men. With your knowledge and our fighting skills, we will become an unstoppable force.”

“Treason?! I will not!”

“Why do you fight for a nation that regards women as inferior?”

“It is not quite so simple as that. This is my nation. This is my blood. There are many good men here. There are many men that I love. Including my father.”

“We will not treat with a land under the rule of a man. Now unless you have anything further…”

“I do.” Roslyn took out the letter from her father. “The King has named me his heir. I will become Queen.”

Morwen read the letter, appearing deep in thought. Roslyn could see the wheels turning as her counterpart went over possibilities and consequences like a chess player. Finally the Amazon said, “Under these circumstances, I can treat with you. If you can convince your father to leave the Amazon Nation alone, we can have peace. But this is contingent on you remaining heiress to the throne. If not, the treaty will become null and void.”

“Trust me,” said Roslyn. “You won’t have to worry about that happening.”

* * *

“Well?” said one of her officers excitedly. “How did it go, my Lady?”

“We have signed a treaty with the Amazons. The borders remain the same. The desert is a neutral zone. Anyone entering the desert does so at their own risk, and killings in the desert will not be considered a declaration of war. Both armies are to retreat immediately.”

The news was greeted with mixed emotions. Some of the men still wanted to fight the Amazons, but others recognized that the treaty was probably for the best, since they most likely would not have been able to defeat the female army. One loudmouthed officer shouted, “They butchered 20,000 of our men and we’re not going to take vengeance?!”

“Vengeance?” said Roslyn sharply. “Did you know that the soldiers at that outpost started this whole war by entering Amazon territory and trying to rape their women? The attack on the outpost was not unprovoked. THAT was vengeance.” The officer hung his head in shame.

As the army began preparing to move out, Roslyn thought about the offer Morwen had made. She had rejected it immediately. There was no reason for her to accept it, since her father had named her heir to the throne. But what if he had not? What if the idiotic Albert was to become king? She was willing to follow her father’s orders because he was an intelligent man. But could she have followed Albert’s? If it had come to that, Morwen’s offer would have been very tempting…

She snapped herself out of her thoughts. The Princess was sure of one thing. She was glad she wouldn’t have to make that decision. “All right, men,” Roslyn called out. “Let’s go home.”

“You surrendered to them? You coward!” spat Albert at his sister. “Daddy!” he whined. “This is why GIRLS shouldn’t be rulers! I should be king!”

“Shut the fuck up, you fool,” Roslyn snapped at her brother. “I didn’t surrender to anyone. I signed a treaty as an equal. And I saved thousands of lives. Maybe even yours.”

“Albert, calm yourself,” said King Frederick III.

“I will not! In fact, I will not accept this! Roslyn, I CHALLENGE YOU!” Albert drew his sword.

Roslyn drew her own blade. “I was hoping you’d say something like that.”

“Roslyn,” said her father. He had a tone of warning. She looked at him and read his expression. It said, “Don’t kill him. He may be an idiot but he’s still my son.” The king knew that Albert was no match for her and had no chance of winning. She smirked to herself at the thought. She nodded to her father and he nodded back.

“Well, bring it on, Fat Albert,” Roslyn taunted her opponent. The prince stared down in shame at his fat gut, wishing he had toned abs like his sister.

The fight didn’t last long. The Princess blocked her brother’s wild swing easily, popped him in the nose with her free fist, and gave him a small cut on his arm with her sword, causing him to drop his own weapon with a yelp. She then did a standing back handspring, kicking him in the jaw and sending him to the floor. Landing elegantly on her feet, she stood over him dominantly, her blade right in front of his face. “Some challenge,” she mocked him. Everyone in the room was laughing at the stupid prince.

When King Frederick III died five years later, Roslyn was crowned Queen Roslyn I. She stripped Albert of all his lands and noble titles, and forced him to live as a peasant commoner. The fat earl (remember him?) who had said that girls couldn’t fight and the loudmouthed officer (remember him?) who had wanted vengeance on the Amazons after the treaty had been signed received the same treatment.

Her reign was long and prosperous, and under her the Empire grew in size, although of course she respected the boundaries with the Amazons. No conflict occurred between the Amazons and the Empire during her rule. She fought many wars on other fronts, however, personally leading her soldiers in combat and winning stunning victories over larger enemy armies time and again.

On the domestic front, Queen Roslyn instituted an intelligent and workable policy towards sexual equality that combined real change and a genuine desire to make things better for women with respect for tradition and recognition of the realities of a medieval monarchy. The powerful trade guilds and the Imperial army became open to women, although both remained majority male.

Eventually, she married the smart colonel (remember him?) who had been the only survivor of Antonius’ doomed army. They had two sons together, and when they grew up, she declared her younger son to be her heir, as he was smarter than his older brother. He was eventually crowned King Frederick IV.

Although Frederick IV continued his mother’s policies of sexual equality, they couldn’t last forever. Only seven years into his reign, the new king was killed in battle against the barbarians of the north. His children were too young to rule directly, and the council of “advisors” that ruled in their place, after putting down a bloody coup attempt by Frederick IV’s older brother and beheading him, swiftly rolled back all the reforms that Queen Roslyn had made. Unsurprisingly, war with the Amazons erupted again. But that is a tale for another time.

Time marched on. Years, decades, centuries. Great sailing-ships were invented, along with cannons and muskets. The Empire began expanding across the sea, finding new islands to explore and conquer. The line of kings and queens continued, finally reaching King Frederick IX, father of Princess Katarina.

Katarina closed the journal. “Fascinating,” she said out loud. She loved history. Outside, the rain was still pounding her tent.

Another commotion came from outside. She opened the flap. “It’s okay. I’m still not sleeping.”

It was a Royal Messenger this time. “From your father, for your eyes only, my Lady,” he said, bowing and handing her a letter.

“Thank you,” said Katarina. She retreated back into her tent and opened the letter. She began to shake as she read it:

“My dearest Katarina,

It breaks my heart to say this, but I have decided that your brother will inherit the throne. Although you would make a far better ruler than he would, I have heard whispers of assassination should you become Queen, from evil men who do not want someone of your strength with the crown. I would much rather have you alive and not ruling than have you as a dead Queen. I know it will be tough, but in time I hope you will come to understand my decision.

Love, Father”

The Princess put her face in her hands. How could he?! She risked her life time and again in battle against REAL enemies. How could her father be more worried about POSSIBLE assassins?

Katarina remembered what she had just read, about Roslyn wondering if she would have switched sides and joined the Amazons if she had not been named heir to the throne. Well, now SHE was going to have to do more than wonder. She was going to have to make a decision…

TO BE CONTINUED…

Tales from the Amazon Wars, Episode 3

Raindrops pelted Princess Katarina’s tent in the dark night. Unable to sleep, she sat up in her lightweight but comfortable travel bed as the thunder boomed again. How was she going to defeat these Amazons?

Suddenly, she heard a commotion outside. “No one is to disturb the Princess while she is sleeping,” came the voice of one of the guards. “I don’t care if you outrank me. I wouldn’t care even if you were a four-star general. I have my orders from the Princess herself.”

Katarina opened the flap of her small tent. “It’s okay, soldier. I wasn’t sleeping anyway.” She turned her gaze to the visitor, recognizing the military historian. “Major. Do you have something for me?”

“Yes, milady,” said the major. He held up a journal, bound in leather. “I think you’ll find this very interesting.”

“Come into the tent. Let’s keep that thing out of the rain and see what we’ve got here.” Katarina’s dark brown eyes widened with fascination as she opened the journal. “Why, it’s a war diary from my ancestor, the great warrior queen, Roslyn the First! Where did you find this?”

“I was digging around in the basement archives of the library in the Colonial Capital. As soon as I found it, I rode out here as fast as I could. I knew you’d want to see it.”

“Indeed I do. This should prove to be very valuable. Thank you, Major.” As the officer bowed and exited the tent, Katarina opened the journal and turned to the first page…

Princess Roslyn was the oldest child and only daughter of King Frederick III. She had two younger brothers, twins, named Albert and Antonius. Tweedledee and Tweedledum, as many, including herself, called them behind their backs. Both were incompetent, dim-witted louts.

Because sons came before daughters, regardless of age, in the line of succession, Roslyn was only third in line for the throne. And because her brothers were twins, they were constantly competing with each other to impress their father enough to get officially picked to be his heir. This competition led to both brothers taking many foolish risks in battle and needlessly sacrificing the lives of many of their men.

When a small outpost near the southern border of the empire had been overrun and its garrison of a hundred men massacred by unknown attackers, Antonius had eagerly volunteered to lead an expedition to find and punish the mysterious assailants. Albert, who was currently away on an expedition to the north, would be so jealous when Antonius returned with a triumph to celebrate his victory, the arrogant prince thought. The king accepted his son’s offer and provided him with a massive army.

Roslyn sighed as she was forced to stay home once again. Although she was an expert archer and swordswoman, and had received the same education at the military academy that her brothers had, she had never been granted the honor of leading military expeditions to the fringes of the Empire. All of her combat knowledge had only been put to use a few times in small skirmishes with bandits and raiders. She longed for the chance to prove herself in a real battle. But her father always said that her military education was for emergencies only.

Prince Antonius rode out of the Imperial capital at the head of a huge army, cockily proclaiming that if there were any survivors from the enemy force after he was through with them, he would bring them back to the capital in cages like zoo animals. He had 15,000 heavy infantry armed with spears and large shields, plus 3000 archers armed with modern crossbows. But the pride of the army was the heavy cavalry, a force of 2000 knights. These riders were all noblemen who were constanly seeking more battles to gain more riches and glory.

The massive force moved southward, sweating in their armor under the hot sun. They moved slowly, hampered by the Prince’s insistence on taking many luxuries with him. Finally, after several weeks, they reached the outpost where the massacre had occurred. After the Prince’s servants had set up his large, luxurious tent and all his furniture, Antonius and his staff met with the commanding officer of the force that had discovered the massacre to make their battle plan.

The officer, a colonel, bowed to the Prince and his six staff officers, all generals. “My Lords. I fear we are dealing with a much more serious situation than we thought. We have examined the corpses of the men that were slaughtered. About half of them were shot with arrows. Every single shot was either straight to the heart or right between the eyes. I’ve never seen marksmanship like that. The other men were either impaled with spears, again always straight through the heart, or had their skulls split open with axes, or were chopped into many pieces with swords.”

The staff officers, all of whom were old, overweight aristocrats, gulped in fear. Prince Antonius, however, still had a cocky, arrogant look on his face as the colonel continued. “One man was still alive when we got there. He had been expertly stabbed in a way that would keep him alive for a while, but ensure that he would die eventually. He was insane with terror when we found him. The only thing he could say before he expired was, ‘They’re girls. An army of girls. Incredibly sexy girls who can outfight any man. Those girls are demonesses from hell…’ Then he died.”

The other men in the tent looked at one another doubtfully. Finally, the Prince banged his fist on the fancy, heavy oak table. “Preposterous! The idea that one hundred men of the finest Empire the world has ever seen could be massacred by a band of GIRLS is utterly ridiculous. You yourself said that this man was insane with terror. His information must be inaccurate. We’ll find out who really did this and punish them.”

“As you wish, milords,” said the colonel, aware of what fools these men were but knowing he had to obey orders. “My scouts have followed the assassins’ tracks into the desert. Far to the south, beyond where any of our explorers have ever gone, they report that the inhospitable desert turns into fertile land once again. There lies the kingdom of the enemy. If we follow the river, we can be there in three weeks.”

“Three weeks? We would waste so much time, following that meandering river. If we march straight south, we can be in the enemy’s territory in ten days. We’ll just fill our water kegs here,” said Antonius.

“My lord, I would advise having a continuous supply of water handy. You never know what might happen. Also, if we follow the river we can use it to protect one of our flanks.”

“That’s enough, Colonel. I am in command here, and what I say goes. We march straight south through the desert. Tell the men to get busy filling those water kegs. We leave tomorrow at first light.”

“Yes, my lord.” The colonel sighed, hoping that the prince’s arrogance wouldn’t lead the army to doom.

The attacks began on the third day. One moment, the massive column of soldiers was marching along in complete peace. The next, fifteen men dropped dead, arrows sticking out of their throats, chests, or heads.

The others looked around in shock. There was nothing but a faint cloud of dust on the horizon. Some of the crossbowmen fired bolts uselessly into the distance, wasting precious ammunition. A squadron of knights rode off to investigate, returning to report only that the enemy consisted of light horsemen…or horsewomen … who could easily outride them.

From that point on, the attacks continued, the only change being that they grew in size and frequency. The second strike came from the other side. This time, twenty-five men were shot dead with perfectly aimed arrows. After surveying the corpses with a curse, the Prince ordered the crossbowmen to prepare for an archery duel.

They didn’t have to wait long. An hour later came the third raid, from both sides this time. The crossbowmen began shooting back, but there was nothing to shoot at but clouds of dust. The mysterious attackers would ride into range, expertly fire their bows just as they were turning, and vanish before the crossbowmen could acquire their targets.

“I thought our bows had a longer range than any other in the world,” grumbled one soldier as he reloaded his weapon. “Maybe they do, but those riders are so fast they can dart in and out of range before we can h…ugh!” The man who responded was shot in the chest as he was speaking. The arrow penetrated his armor and drove straight into his heart. He was dead before he hit the ground. When the attack was over, forty more male soldiers were dead. The crossbowmen had fired many bolts and hadn’t been able to hit a thing.

Prince Antonius ordered a dozen of his servants to go out and retrieve the bolts. A few minutes later, a solitary servant returned, empty-handed. “I’m sorry, my lord,” he reported. “They hit us while we were trying to collect them. We had to flee. I’m the only survivor.”

“Not for long, coward!” snarled the Prince, drawing his sword and decapitating the servant. It was the only kill any of the male soldiers made that day.

The mood when the army made camp for the night was one of fear and dread. Things only got worse the next morning, when it was discovered that a hundred men had had their throats slit in the darkness by mysterious attackers who had snuck in and out right under the noses of the sentries. The killing wasn’t over yet, however, because Antonius ordered that the surviving sentries, a total of 200 men, all be executed for their failure. The executioners, though reluctant to kill their own men, were worried that they would become the next targets if they refused to obey their prince’s orders. After the sentries had been decapitated and their heads placed on pikes, per Antonius’ wishes, the army set off again.

It wasn’t long before the first attack of the day came, arrows whizzing through the air and embedding themselves in male flesh. This time, Prince Antonius ordered the knights to respond in force, two columns of a hundred riders each. Two hundred proud, heavily armored noblemen rode out into the desert. None of them ever returned. In addition, sixty more men were shot dead in the main column. The vast army still hadn’t managed to kill a single enemy. The Prince screamed and stamped his feet, having a tantrum like a little baby.

When the next ambush came, it was deja vu for the men…or so they thought. Enemy arrows came flying in, the crossbowmen shot back uselessly, and then, in a flash, it was over. “How many hit?” came the call.

There were murmurs and whispers, then the response. “Looks like none, sir.”

“None? But…”

Suddenly, a soldier pointed to a water keg, pierced with an arrow. The powerful shot had cracked the wooden barrel and all the water was long gone and rapidly sinking into the desert sand. The men looked around in panic. Every other keg was in the same condition.

“NOOOOOOO!” roared the Prince. “COWARDS! Come out and fight me like a man!”

“I don’t think they are men, sir,” said one of his staff officers, holding one of the Empire’s new inventions, a spyglass. “The figures on the horses looked like girls to me.”

“Girls?!” Antonius sputtered. “How could mere girls…ugghhh…”

The colonel who had found the men massacred at the outpost rode up. “Beg pardon, sirs, but we should focus on the big issue right now. Our water supply.”

The Prince was still in tantrum mode. “We’ll charge right at them, slaughter them, and drink their blood!”

“My lord, please. We’re six days from enemy territory and the only water we have left is the tiny amount in our canteens. We’d never make it. We’re four days’ march from our territory, and few if any can survive four days in the desert without water. Our only option is to head for the river. We can get there in two days, rest and recover, then follow the river to enemy territory and make our attack.”

The Prince, by now a broken man, wanted to scream at his subordinate and tell him off, but even he knew that the colonel was right. “Fine. Make it so,” he sighed.

But they never made it. As the army changed course and made for the river, horsewomen began following them, staying just outside of crossbow range. The men gulped the last of their water in their canteens and desperately but uselessly quickened their pace. The number of hoofbeats behind them increased.

“Why aren’t they attacking?” wondered a young junior officer.

“They know the river is our only option. They know exactly where we’re going. They can wait for the right moment,” his superior responded. Everyone within earshot gulped upon hearing that.

It was early afternoon when the final attack came. One second, there was uneasy silence. The next, there came a spine-chilling, high-pitched, distinctively female warrior cry in the distance. Then came the arrows, this time over a thousand of them fired at once, all aimed at the crossbowmen. Lightly armored and with no shields, they stood no chance. Over a quarter of the crossbowmen were killed by the first enemy volley. Many others were wounded, in agony from hits to the leg, arm, stomach, or groin, and unable to fight back. Those who could shoot back fired their bolts ineffectively at the distant female figures darting back and forth on their ponies. Then it was time to begin the agonizingly slow process of reloading.

The Empire’s warfare doctrine emphasized heavy infantry, heavy cavalry, and responses designed to counter enemies who emphasized the same. The archers were currently armed with the Mark VI model crossbows, which, although very powerful and capable of piercing the heavy plate armor worn by knights, were also very slow to fire, taking close to thirty seconds to reload. Though the Mark VII crossbow, which could fire twice as fast while being only slightly less powerful, was available, Prince Antonius had elected to stick with the Mark VIs under the mantra of “more power.”

The Amazon horse archers, on the other hand, used compact but powerful bows that were small enough for mounted troops to use, powerful enough to penetrate almost any armor, and capable of rapid fire. Trained in markswomanship from the day she was old enough to ride and hold a bow, a girl-archer could defeat even the most heavily armored opponent by aiming for the weak points in his armor, then finishing him off with her hand-to-hand combat weapons, generally axes or short swords, if necessary.

Each female horse archer could fire a dozen arrows per minute, and three more devastating volleys finished off the rest of the crossbowmen before they could finish reloading. In less than twenty seconds 3000 of the Empire’s best-trained, well-equipped male bowmen lay dead or dying on the hot desert sand, slaughtered by girls, most of whom had not yet seen twenty winters.

The beautiful Amazon princess, just eighteen years old, in command of this force, 1200 horse archers and 800 heavy cavalry, tiny compared to the vast Imperial army, laughed at the carnage her girls had just inflicted. She had been sent out with her little force with orders from her Queen to harass, delay, and weaken the enemy. But after seeing the vulnerability of these males and the incompetence and arrogance of their commander, she had decided to launch a full-scale attack to annihilate them.

With a coy giggle, she ordered her archers to fire into the main body of enemy infantry. A volley of arrows came flying, dropping several hundred men to the dirt. “Infantry into turtle formation!” ordered the Prince. “Knights, charge those bitches and run them through!” The Imperial infantry moved into their turtle formation, shields covering all sides and the tops of their heads. Hundreds more men died before the maneuver could be completed, but the remainder now seemed relatively safe, though occasional cries of pain came from men hit in an exposed arm here or an exposed leg there.

Prince Antonius, cowering in the center of the formation along with his six staff officers, finally thought he had things under control. His knights, heavily armored and armed with lances, would ride right into the lightly armored horsewomen and end this humiliating barrage of arrows striking the shields like rain.

But it was not to be. As the 1800 knights charged the female horse archers, they turned their attention to the new attackers. Though the arrows could not penetrate the thick chest plating the men wore, the Amazons, with their expert markswomanship, fired into the joints and other weak points of the suits of armor, piercing knights in their armpits, hips, and groins. Men fell off their horses with cries of agony, stopping the momentum of the charge. Some girls were such good shots that they could hit their opponents in the eye-slits of their face masks, killing them instantly.

“Rally to me!” cried a high-ranking nobleman, gathering the unwounded riders and preparing another charge. “AAAAHHHHHHHH!”

Suddenly, hoofbeats thundered from the left. The 800 Amazon heavy cavalry were charging them, lances lowered, from the males’ vulnerable side. The Imperials were unable to turn in time to counter this new threat and were brutally ridden into, female lances utterly impaling and penetrating them. The Amazons then rode into – or onto – the wounded knights on the ground, simply trampling them to death, laughing as their victims begged for mercy. Knights were used to being captured and ransomed in battle instead of being killed, but the Amazons were not interested in gold. They were interested in slaughter.

One of the infantrymen on the edge of the turtle formation thought he heard hoofbeats. He peeked out from behind his shield, thinking the allied knights were returning after a job well done. The rain of arrows had stopped, after all. But instead, the last thing he saw before he died was a beautiful brown-skinned woman leading several hundred others in a heavy cavalry charge. A second later, the girl’s lance popped his skull open like a smashed watermelon.

The turtle formation, effective against enemy archers, left the men using it vulnerable to heavy cavalry attacks. With brutal efficiency, the 800 female riders lanced, sliced, axed, decapitated, and trampled everything in their path, riding right through the formation and dividing it in two. Over two thousand men were killed.

“SHIT! Prepare to receive cavalry charge!” shouted the Prince as the Amazons turned around and re-formed their line. The men formed up as well, spears ready to impale any horse that dared charge into them. But instead, the horse archers began firing again, dropping hundreds more men dead as arrows rained down from above onto their now exposed skulls.

“FUCK! What can we do?!” moaned one of the staff officers. “Those cunts have an answer for everything!”

“Hold!” roared the Prince. “Arrows run out! They can’t keep shooting at us forever!”

But just then, a sqaudron of girls rode up to the horse archers. They began handing them packages from their heavily laden animals. Though it was too far to see, the men knew what was in them. Arrows. Thousands and thousands more arrows.

As the incessant rain of lethal projectiles continued, the survivors, without waiting for orders, re-formed the turtle. And sure enough, the Amazon heavy cavalry came crashing into them again, slaughtering thousands more men.

The sun sank lower in the western sky. The Imperial soldiers who were still alive knew that it was the last time they would ever see it. Command broke down completely, with the Prince and his generals simply crying and whimpering, unable to issue any orders. The slaughter was methodical and efficient, alternating between arrows and lances. Hour after hour passed and the killing went on. Finally, the sun reached the horizon and turned blood red, matching the new color of the desert sand.

The smart colonel, the only man of high rank in this force who had any sense, lay in the middle of a pile of male corpses, an arrow sticking out from his chest. He opened his eyes and looked around. It was dark now. In the distance, he could see the torches of the Amazons and hear the pleas for mercy from wounded men as the girls finished them off, but around him, all was quiet. Everyone else was dead. Some of the soldiers had been finished execution style with arrows right between the eyes or good old-fashioned decapiations. He removed the arrow that he had broken and attached to himself with a wad of chewing gum, another of the Empire’s recent inventions, to make it look like he had already been shot. Then he began crawling away.

The Imperial scout peered through his spyglass again, wanting to confirm the strange sight. A man was floating down the river towards him on a piece of wood. Bruised, battered, and sunburned, he wore the tattered remnants of an Imperial uniform. “Colonel? Is that you?” asked the stunned scout as he recognized the officer.

“Yes. It is I. Alive, though not by much,” said the colonel as he beached himself on shore. “Gather the men. I have urgent news about the…let’s say the Amazons.”

Princess Roslyn and her father, King Frederick III, were having dinner in the palace dining room when the door suddenly burst open and a messenger entered. The King raised an eyebrow. “I’m going to assume this is important from the manner of your entrance.”

“Yes, my lord. I’m sorry. But it is important.” He handed Frederick a letter. The king paled as he read it, dropping the turkey leg he had been eating.

“Roslyn, come with me. I’m calling a council of war. Right now.”

“I cannot believe it. Twenty thousand of His Majesty’s finest soldiers, completely and utterly annihilated by a force but one-tenth of its size?” said a duke.

“Believe it, sir. I was there, and I’m the only survivor,” said the colonel who had made it through so much.

“The size of the enemy force is hard enough to believe, but an army of mere GIRLS?!” a fat earl grumbled. “Preposterous!”

Roslyn felt her blood becoming hot. “Perhaps you would like to see a demonstration of what a girl can do in combat.”

As the earl opened his mouth to make an angry retort, King Frederick spoke up. “Enough!” he shouted. “I called this council to plan a way to defeat the enemy, not engage in fighting amongst ourselves. Earl, you will show respect to my daughter. Roslyn, you will control your temper. Now, Colonel, do you think these…Amazons will attempt a full-scale invasion of our territory?”

“They already attacked one of our outposts without provocation and after exterminating a huge army of ours so easily, I fear it is very likely that they will feel arrogant and aggressive enough to do it, my lord.”

“Then we must raise what forces we can as fast as possible. Roslyn, you will be in command.”

Roslyn felt both excitment and apprehension. It was what she had always wanted – but against such an unknown and lethal opponent? She truly would be put to the test.

Princess Roslyn sat on her horse, reviewing her army as it prepared to march out of the Imperial capital. This time, there were no shouts of jubilation or dreams of glory, just a cold sense of duty.

The army was much smaller this time – there just weren’t enough men who could be pulled off of other duties to create a force as massive as the last one. The impact of Antonius’ defeat had been devastating – one-sixth of the Empire’s military had been wiped out in a single battle. Roslyn had 6000 heavy infantry along with 1500 crossbowmen, armed with the new, faster firing Mark VII bows at her insistence. Only a few knights had the courage to go up against an enemy that preferred extermination to ransoming, and because of the power of the nobility, the king couldn’t force them to go. Just as well, thought the princess. She had no use for cowards in her army. The bulk of the cavalry would be provided by 1500 light horsemen, armed with a variety of swords, spears, axes, and bows.

Many of the male nobles had grumbled at the idea of a woman leading an army into battle, but none of them had the balls to do it themselves after the Prince’s epic fail. And her other brother, Albert, was still off in the north, thank the gods. She knew that he was as dumb as his twin, and only would have led a second army to its doom.

They moved much faster than the first force had, Roslyn knowing well just how quickly she could march her men without tiring them too much to deal with a potential ambush. It also helped that she was a low-maintenance young woman who, although she enjoyed the luxuries at the palace, was perfectly capable of traveling light in the field.

The sun rose on the Imperial camp as the army, now at the southern border of the Empire, prepared to move out to meet its destiny. As the men formed up, the Princess looked into their frightened eyes and began a quick, impromptu speech.

“Soldiers of the Empire! For a thousand years we have been the most powerful force on this continent. Through the strength of our soldiers and the innovations of our scientists we have defeated all those who sought to destroy us. Will that streak be broken on your watch?”

“NO!” came the answering roar of thousands of voices.

Roslyn raised her tanned and toned right arm, decorated with many bracelets. She loved dressing feminine, and since she had to dress like a man for battle, the bracelets at least added some femininity to her outfit. “Then let us advance! Now, this kind of goes without saying, but we follow the river this time.”

As the men laughed, she turned to the colonel who had survived the massacre, who was riding next to her. “If anything should happen to me, you are to listen to this man and do what he advises, even if you outrank him. Is that clear?” She looked at her generals in turn, receiving an affirmative salute from each. She nodded and smiled.

A band of scouts rode up. Their leader approached her, bowing. “Any sign of them?” she asked.

“None, milady. It’s as if they’ve vanished into thin air.”

This time, the attacks began on the fourth day. A humming sound broke the monotony and stillness of the desert heat. A second later, a dozen men dropped dead with arrows in their chests or faces.

Even as the bodies were still falling, Roslyn was shouting orders. “Cavalry, split up and pursue! Try to cut them off! Crossbowmen, be ready to fire, but DO NOT shoot without a confirmed target!”

The army waited, tense, as the riders disappeared into the distance. Finally, the sound of hoofbeats returned. The crossbowmen readied their weapons, but thanks to the princess’ instructions refrained from being trigger-happy. It was a good thing, as the riders were their own men.

“Report, Captain,” said Roslyn as the soldiers rode up to her.

“We split up and managed to cut four enemies off and trap them between two of our forces, Princess.” She nodded. Light cavalry was needed to catch other light cavalry. Her dim-witted brother had brought no light horsemen, only heavily armored knights who had been far too slow to catch the Amazon horse archers. “Anyway,” continued the captain, “they fought to the death, killed five of my men and wounded four more, but we finished them off. And we acquired four of these.” He held up a bow.

Roslyn took the weapon and examined it with fascination. It was incredibly light, lighter than the small bows her own cavalry used. Yet it could fire from such a long range, much further than the Imperial cavalry bows and almost as far as the much heavier, slower firing crossbows, which were too big for mounted troops to use.

“Put two of them in the wagons, one in the front of the column and one in the rear. At least one must make it back to the Empire for our innovators to reverse engineer and eventually mass produce. Give the other two to your two best marksmen.”

“Yes, milady.”

“And for the record, just so everyone can hear and all these doubts can be put to rest once and for all. They WERE girls, correct?”

“Yes. Four young female warriors. I’ve never seen women fight that well. Except you, Princess.”

She giggled. “Thank you. Now let’s move on. Everybody keep a sharp eye out.”

The next time, the Amazons attempted an attack from across the river. Horsewomen fired a volley of arrows, but they fell short into the water. “Crossbowmen ready! Pick your targets!” ordered Roslyn as the female riders urged their horses into the river, trying to get closer.

A group of crossbowmen fired their bolts. Most of them missed, as the weapons were at the limit of their range, but two women fell off their horses and into the water. The others quickly retreated.

A loud cheer rose from the men. “Victory! We drove them off! For glory! For the King! For…”

“Uh…guys?” said Roslyn. Everyone stopped shouting and looked at her.

“Perspective, gentlemen. Keep it in perspective. Yes, we drove them off, but we only killed two of them. This can’t even be called a skirmish, much less a battle. Good job, but let’s keep going, you know?”

The men nodded. In truth, Roslyn wanted to jump up and down and join in the celebration, but she knew the dangers that overconfidence would bring. Still, it was an important victory. There were no more attacks from across the river.

The hit-and-run ambushes continued from the other side, but with cavalry patrols able to concentrate on guarding one flank, their effectiveness was limited. Ten more Imperial soldiers were shot dead, but seven Amazons died as well, and the cavalrymen managed to capture three more Amazon bows. When they made camp for the night, the mood was decidedly different than it had been when they had set out. There was still a lot of apprehension, but the fact that they had been able to hold their own gave the soldiers a much needed morale boost.

As she watched the sun sink beneath the western horizon, Princess Roslyn ordered the sentries on double duty. “They’re going to try something before the sun comes up, mark my words.” In her small but comfortable tent, the princess read a book by lamplight until she drifted off to sleep.

She awoke with a start some hours later. Popping open the tent flap, she judged it was around midnight from the position of the stars. The moon was full, giving a ghostly illumination to the vast desert. Everything was peaceful. Too peaceful. She had a gut feeling that something was about to happen.

She began checking on the sentries, who all reported the same thing. Nothing. “With the moon this bright, we’d see them coming a mile away,” said one soldier.

Roslyn nodded. There was truth to that. She turned her gaze to the river…

The river! She tapped the man who had spoken on the shoulder. “Every second man is to follow me!” she whispered. “If they come, they’ll be swimming the river. We need to reinforce that side.” She darted into a supply tent, grabbed a Mark VII crossbow and a quiver of bolts, and tucked a small axe into her belt. Her sword was sheathed on her hip. “Now let’s go,” she whispered, loading a bolt as she spoke.

But before she and the reinforcements were halfway across the camp, she saw female heads rise like spectres from the surface of the water. As if it were a nightmare, muscular female arms drew back the strings on bows. The sound of expertly aimed arrows driving into their male targets, silently slaying an entire row of sentries on the river side of camp, reminded her that this nightmare was all too real.

“ALARM! ALARM! WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!” she screamed. Even as she shouted, she fired, her crossbow bolt nailing an Amazon right between the eyes.

Bells clanged and war horns blew as soldiers raced into action. The sentries she had alerted managed to shoot down several Amazons with their crossbows, but then the others were slashing into tents with their swords, intermingling with the men and making it too dangerous for the sentries to fire without hitting their own side.

Some men woke up at the alarm, only to be met with a blade straight through the heart at the hands of a brown-skinned woman. Others stumbled sleepily out of their tents, right in front of waiting Amazons who shot them down or simply decapitated them.

“Keep the other sides manned! They might have forces waiting while we’re distracted!” Roslyn shouted as she finished reloading her crossbow. She popped out from behind the boulder she had used as cover and came almost face-to-face with a bow-wielding Amazon. The Princess was faster and shot her opponent straight through the heart. Roslyn then drew her sword in her right hand and her axe in her left. As she stepped around the corner of a tent, two enemies charged her. She brained one with her axe and decapitated the other with her sword.

Screams came from a large tent. Leaping inside, she saw a trail of bloody male corpses. Near the back, two Amazon girls, each with a long dagger in each hand, were slowly pushing back the survivors, who couldn’t match the female warriors’ speed and skill.

She hurled her axe and was rewarded with a satisfying THWACK as the weapon buried itself in the back of one of the girls’ skulls. The other Amazon whirled, throwing one of her daggers as she turned. Roslyn just managed to block it with her sword.

The Amazon let out a shrill scream and tumbled towards her with a roundoff followed by a series of ultra-fast one-handed back handsprings. Roslyn stepped to the side and attacked with her sword, but the Amazon dodged with a full twisting layout and landed perfectly on her feet. With a superhumanly fast kick to Roslyn’s arm that sent her sword flying, the Princess suddenly found herself unarmed.

The Amazon drove her dagger straight at Roslyn’s throat. She barely managed to block it, receiving a cut on her right forearm. Her opponent drew the dagger back again, but the Princess suddenly kicked her in the face, breaking her jaw and stunning her. Roslyn then cartwheel kicked her, knocking her down. She stomped down hard on the Amazon’s throat with her military boot, crushing her enemy’s windpipe.

Roslyn let out a sigh of relief. “You guys okay?” she called out to the men in the back of the tent.

“Yes, milady. Thank you for saving us. How about you? You’re hurt.”

She touched the wound. “It’s just a scratch. Now come on and join the fight.”

As she led the men outside, a shrill whistle echoed through the night. The surviving Amazons began backflipping away like pro gymnasts, with incredible grace, elegance, and speed. The men fired their crossbows at them, but thanks to their blazing fast tumbling most of the shots missed. In less than a minute all was quiet again.

“I have the count,” an officer reported, when all the bodies had been lined up. “77 of our men are dead, and there are 24 dead Amazons. We also have a few dozen men wounded too badly to fight who will have to be transported in the wagons.”

Roslyn cursed. “I should have known better. I should have had the river side guarded more heavily from the start.”

“Don’t blame yourself, milady,” said the officer. “Without your warning, hundreds of men would have died.”

The Princess nodded, but she knew she would have to take responsibility for this one. She hadn’t ordered the camp guarded as well as it should have been. But the lessons she learned that night would go on to serve her very well in her long military career.

She looked up at the stars, then out over the vast desert. The Amazons were still out there. Waiting. So far, she had just been sampling a few appetizers. The main course was yet to come.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Tales from the Amazon Wars, Episode 2

Tales from the Amazon Wars, Episode 2: Enter the Princess: Her Royal Highness is sent to stop the Amazons

The citizens of the Colonial Capital were frightened, and rightfully so. Two weeks earlier, eight thousand of their soldiers had been massacred by an army of just three thousand teenage Amazon girls. Only three male soldiers had escaped alive to tell the tale. Four others had been captured by the Amazons. The men who had died were luckier.

In the days that had followed, isolated outposts were overrun by roving bands of Amazon maidens. Garrisons were slaughtered to the last man. The people had fled into the few towns on this large, partially explored island that were protected by city walls, leaving the Amazons to rampage throughout the countryside, burning crops and buildings. The Colonial Governor had sent for help from His Majesty’s army on the mainland, but due to the four-week round-trip travel time, it would be another two weeks before the earliest help could be expected to arrive. The town watch, on double guard ever since news of the battle had broken, was full of jitters, expecting every day to see lethal Amazon warrioresses riding out of the woods. The Governor tried to calm the citizens’ fears. “Even if they do come,” he said, “they can’t breach our walls with their primitive weapons.”

“We lost twelve cannons at the massacre,” a lieutanant, one of the three men who had escaped from the battle, pointed out. “And more from the outposts that were captured by the Amazons.”

“How would they know how to use them?” asked the Governor. “We just need to sit tight and stay calm. Reinforcements will arrive soon. Then we can teach those arrogant Amazons a lesson.”

And so with those words, the citizens of the royal kingdom tried to find strength and comfort. But it was not to last. On the fifteenth day after the massacre, a guard up on the city wall was making his usual rounds. Thinking he saw something in the woods, he tried to get a better look. Suddenly, something was flying directly at him with incredible speed. He let out the beginning of a scream which was abruptly cut short.

Three of his comrades rushed over at the sound. They found him dead on the wall, the razor-sharp tip of a spear embedded in his skull. Three decapitated heads had already been impaled on the spear before it had been thrown by an obviously very powerful arm.

They recognized the heads immediately. They were those of Major General Donner, the commander of the ill-fated army that had been massacred by the Amazons, along with his chief of staff and his artillery commander. All three heads were covered with bloody cuts and scars. That, along with the expressions of terror frozen on their dead faces, indicated that they had been subjected to sadistic torture before meeting their grisly ends. The youngest guard fainted at the gory sight. Another began throwing up. The last guard, the oldest, managed to scream for his commander. “Milord! Look!”

The officer hurried over, gasping in shock at the scene. He opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, a cannon shot boomed. The stone wall in front of them crumbled away and all four men dropped stone cold dead, bodies blasted to pieces. More cannon fire came, more stones were blown loose from the wall, and more men dropped, some dead, some with arms and legs gruesomely blown off. “WHAT?!” The Governor came flying out of his mansion at the sound. All around the city, people were staring at the carnage that had come out of nowhere.

A figure emerged from the woods. It was a man, bloody, bruised, and battered, covered with scars from whips. His hands were tied, and on his broken body he wore the tattered remnants of a Royal Artillery captain’s uniform. Another figure came up behind him. This one was a girl, perhaps in her late teens, petite and slender, but well-muscled. Despite being far smaller than the man, she was clearly in dominant control of him.

She spoke in a commanding but feminine voice. “Cowards of the male kingdom! Did you think you would be safe behind your walls? Think again, fools! Your comrade here was kind enough to train us in the use of these cannons we captured from you, after a little ‘encouragement,’ of course. You cannot run and you cannot hide from the Amazon Nation! The Mother Goddess will never be denied her vengeance!”

“Kill her!” ordered the Governor. Dozens of muskets spit flame, but the girl had already begun executing a lightning-fast series of standing back handsprings, elegantly backflipping like a pro-gymnast into the cover of the woods, dodging all the musket balls easily. After she disappeared, the artillery officer was left standing there alone, staring up at the people he had betrayed. “Traitor! Coward!” came the shouts from the citizens.

“Please!” he begged. “They tortured me…”

“Silence, turncoat!” boomed the Governor. He pointed to the decapitated heads of the other three officers impaled on the spear. “They were tortured too, but they had the balls to stay loyal to their king and country! And you did not! By the authority vested in me by His Majesty, I sentence you to death for treason. Guards, kill him!”

The soldiers, in a bloodthirsty mood and wanting to lash out at something, needed no encouragement. They opened fire and the traitor dropped dead like a sack of potatoes, at least twenty musket balls in him. The citizens cheered at his death, the only thing they had to celebrate that day. Cheering loudest of all was the dead traitor’s own wife, a musket that she had snatched from a soldier in her silk-gloved hands. She had aimed for his groin and her shot had hit true.

The cheering stopped abruptly, however, as the Amazons began firing the captured cannons again. The soldiers fired back with the cannons mounted on the city walls, but the enemy guns were well hidden in the woods and trying to knock them out was blind guesswork.

And so it continued. Each day, another forty or fifty men died from Amazon cannon fire. Each day, the sturdy stone wall around the city grew a little weaker. To make matters worse, the Amazon girls also began using hit-and-run tactics, in which horsewomen would ride out from the woods, fire expertly aimed shots from their bows, dropping several males dead each time, and retreat back into cover before the defenders could respond. Soon, the wall became fully breached in several places, forcing men to be pulled off of other duties to keep each opening guarded. Makeshift barricades of overturned wagons and old furniture were placed at the gaps. Reserves for the dozens of soldiers who died each day were running thin, and boys and old men were starting to be pressed into military service. And to the defenders’ unending frustration, they had no way to tell whether their own cannon fire was having any effect on the enemy. The increase in the intensity of the enemy fire indicated that either it was not, the Amazons were bringing up more captured cannons from the overrun outposts, or both.

Getting news from the outside world was impossible. During the first few nights of the siege, scouts and spies had been sent out quietly from the walls to try to gather information about the enemy positions and what was happening in other towns. And each morning, like clockwork, the corpses of the spies sent out the previous night would be tossed out of the woods, perforated with arrows, impaled with spears, or simply sliced and diced into small pieces. After the fourth night, the Governor had ordered the spy patrols stopped.

The Amazon espionage missions had far more success. Under the cover of night, girl warriors snuck out of the woods with catlike stealth. Evading the gazes of the guards, they used their gymnast-like strength and agility to scale the walls, then wreaked havoc inside the town before escaping. Cannons were booby-trapped to explode when fired. Food, water, and ammunition were stolen. And men were executed by girl-assassins with knives, swords, axes, and bows. One night, two teenage girls slipped into the city, silently slaughtered thirty-seven male victims, and slipped back out into the woods without a single hair in their elegant coiffures being disturbed. Morale among the defenders plunged to rock bottom. As they waited for the inevitable mass attack, people even began talking about evacuating the city by sea. The great Colonial Capital that had stood proud and dominant on the island for two hundred years was being humbled by an army of tanned, long-haired, pretty girls.

The day of the attack was not long in coming. One cold morning, just before dawn, a terrifying, high-pitched female warrior cry came from the woods, directly opposite one of the breaches in the wall. The sound was accompanied by the pounding of footsteps and hoofbeats. “They’re coming! To arms, to arms! To the breach!”

Sleepy men grabbed their muskets and raced to the opening. “Positions! Take aim!” barked an officer. “Don’t fire until I give the order!”

The men waited. And waited. Suddenly, horrible screams came from across town, at one of the other breaches in the wall. The Amazons had cleverly lured the main body of soldiers to one part of the city, then attacked and overwhelmed the few defenders at one of the other openings. Amazon cavalry was riding through the city, shooting down men with their bows and decapitating them with their swords.

The soldiers manning the cannons on the wall prepared to fire. Suddenly, devastatingly accurate volleys of arrows slammed into the artillerymen. Male bodies dropped like flies, arrows sticking out of various parts of their corpses. The few survivors could do nothing more than crawl away. Meanwhile, as the main body of infantry turned to meet the threat inside the walls, a second wave of horsewomen rode out towards the breach they had orignally been guarding, ready to finish the trap.

From a window on the third floor of his mansion, the Governor looked out at the scene sadly. Was this how it was going to end?

Suddenly, just as the top of the sun peeked over the horizon in the eastern sky, there came the deep, familiar sound of a war horn. Not an Amazon war horn, but the one of the Royalist army!

A volley of artillery fire from a large mass of cannons boomed. Grapeshot and canister were poured into the horsewomen charging towards the gap in the wall, dropping many. Though taken completely by surprise, the Amazon riders reacted swiftly and efficiently. With expert coordination, the survivors wheeled about and rode back into the cover of the woods. The Amazon cavalry still inside the walls reacted with the same expert skill. Shooting or riding down anyone in their way, they fled as quickly as they had charged, mounted girl-archers in the rear firing backwards over their shoulders with impressive accuracy to discourage men from shooting them in the backs as they rode away.

Over the crest of a ridge in the east appeared a massive force of Royalist cavalry, three thousand riders. Leading them was a beautiful young woman on a white horse. “It’s the Princess!” came the joyous cry from the defenders of the city. “Princess Katarina has come!”

The Royalist cavalry formed up, the Princess riding in front of them, her sword raised. “Make safe our city, in the name of the King!” she cried, her commanding but feminine and musical voice audible even in the distance. “Forth, and fear no darkness!” As the war-horn bellowed again, the riders let out a roar and charged down the hill, following their female commander. The men in the city joined in the shouting.

The riders thundered across the plain towards the city and the woods. Suddenly, from the cover of the trees, a volley of Amazon arrows came flying towards them, followed immediately by another, two groups of girl-archers executing a well-coordinated attack. Princess Katarina, with her quick reflexes, raised the shield strapped to her slender left arm, stopping two arrows that would have hit her face. Most of the males near her, however, were not as quick. Some dropped dead instantly, arrows in their brains, throats, or hearts. Others, including some who had gotten their shields up, were hit in their exposed legs by the first volley. As they dropped their shields with cries of pain, the second barrage of arrows finished them off. Still others had thought they could save their money by buying cheap wooden shields instead of well-built metal ones. Their penny-pinching cost them their lives, as the powerful bows of the Amazons sent arrows straight through the wood and into male flesh.

More arrows came flying at them. A lesser commander would have turned and run, dooming many of his men to being shot in the back and wasting the effort of the charge. But the Princess had balls. Not literally, of course, but the figurative kind. She let out a high-pitched warrior shirek, rallying her men though soldiers and horses were dropping dead all around them, expertly deflecting another arrow with her shield, urging her soldiers on faster.

Another woman on a white horse was in the woods. She, too was a Princess, but a Princess of the Amazon nation. Her name was Jenova, and she was the second daughter of the Queen and the commander of the Amazon advance force in the forest.

“My Lady!” A mounted teenage girl-warrior with a bow in her hand rode up to her. “Forgive me, my lady Jenova. Our arrows were not enough to stop them. They’re going to ride into us.”

“Shh,” whispered Jenova. “You did well. You slew many of them. Now have your girls fire one more volley, then retreat. It’s time for another group to fight.”

“Yes, milady.” As the archer rode off, Jenova stared at the woman leading the charge in the distance, wondering who she was and why a girl was leading this band of males.

As the riders approached the trees, Katarina drew her double-barreled pistol, gripping it tightly in her leather-gloved right hand, her shield still on her other arm. Though riding at top speed, her trained dark brown eyes were carefully scanning the wall of green. Suddenly, a look of alarm appeared on her face. “Ambush! Ambush! They’re hiding in the branches!”

Sure enough, a petite but muscular Amazon girl, a blade in each hand, launched herself from the nearest tree with a powerful front tuck somersault directly at Katarina. The Princess fired her pistol, killing her attacker in midair. Another Amazon hurled a spear at her. Katarina ducked. “LOOK OUT!” she shouted. The male soldier riding directly behind her wasn’t fast enough, however, and got impaled right in the center of his chest, the powerful throw sending the spear straight through his armor.

As the Royalist cavalry rode into the forest, Amazon girls dropped on them like rain from high up in the trees. Thanks to Katarina’s warning, some of the men were able to save themselves with their pistols. Others, however, were blinded by the Amazons’ speed and gymnastic skills, and met gruesome ends by Amazon blades after missing their pistol shots. Katarina, seeing an enemy about to stab one of her men, fired her second barrel, shooting her straight through the heart. The Princess then drew her sword, decapitating an axe-wielding Amazon who was leaping at her.

The battle in the woods was long and bloody, and many died on both sides. But thanks to superior numbers and Katarina’s leadership, the Royalists won the fight. The surviving Amazon warriors retreated by backflipping away with incredible speed and agility, causing most of the shots fired at them by the male soldiers to miss.

Behind the cavalry, thousands of Royalist infantrymen marched down the hill, splitting into two columns and securing the space surrounding the Colonial Capital. Meanwhile, more Royalist infantry landed at the docks and marched directly into the city itself.

Princess Jenova of the Amazons rode up to her older sister, Princess Livia, heiress to the throne. The two made a striking pair. Both were incredibly beautiful, but Jenova’s curly shoulder-length black tresses contrasted sharply with Livia’s long, straight auburn hair. It had been Livia who had commanded the girl-army that had massacred the eight thousand Royalist soldiers in the earlier battle. The torture of the four male officers and the execution of three of them had also been done on Livia’s orders.

“We did what damage we could while preserving as much of our forces as we could,” Jenova reported. “We have about eight hundred dead and several hundred wounded, but the enemy has suffered heavy losses too. Our archers are still picking off men at the edges of their columns, but we’re going to have to retreat into the interior of the island soon, before they can organize a pursuit. Most of the wounded have already been put on horses and are back on their way to our fortifications.”

“Those males have been so cowardly and weak,” said Livia. “Why do they fight like they have balls all of a sudden? Our arrows should have cut their cavalry charge to pieces just like it did on the Plain of Victory four weeks ago. The city should be ours.”

“A woman leads them now,” Jenova replied.

“Ah, that explains that,” said Livia, nodding. “But that doesn’t explain why a woman is leading those males in the first place. Tell me, sister. What does she look like?”

“She is tall, slender, and beautiful. She would look exactly like one of us if she dressed like us. She even has darkly tanned brown skin like we do. It was her leadership that won the day for the enemy. Without her, the men would have crumbled. If we could capture her alive and convince her to join us, she could be a very powerful ally indeed.”

“An interesting idea, little sister. But we must also remember how dangerous she is. At any rate, now is not the time for such discussions. We must regroup and plan our next attack.” Livia clenched her fists. “I just hate losing battles. This is the first one I’ve ever lost. I need to let my rage out…hello, I think I see just what the herbalist ordered.” She turned to a young woman with a crossbow standing nearby. “Give me that.”

“Yes, milady.” The girl-archer bowed and handed the weapon over. About 300 yards away, a male soldier was helping a wounded comrade get up. He placed the injured man on a horse, then got on himself. Livia grinned wickedly and took careful aim. Her accuracy was lethal and perfect, despite the great distance. The large, thick, cruelly barbed steel bolt flew through the air with tremendous speed and power, impacting the second man in the back, driving all the way through his armor, through his torso, through the armor on his front side, and coming to rest in the body of the first man after penetrating his armor as well. Both soldiers dropped dead to the dirt. Livia handed back the crossbow, laughing aloud at her markswomanship. “Come on, let’s go.” She began to ride away, still smirking.

The Colonial Capital was saved. Two large scouting parties, one to the northwest and one to the southwest, had been sent out to investigate the status of other towns in the island colony. Cavalry now regularly patrolled the nearby woods. The broken sections of the city wall were already being repaired. “Thank you for saving us, Princess,” said the Governor, bowing before Katarina submissively.

“You may stand, Governor,” she responded. “You did the best you could with what little forces you had left, after General Donner foolishly squandered most of them.” The Governor smiled with relief.

“What news from the battle?” she asked her chief of staff.

“Milady, our army suffered a thousand men dead, seven hundred badly wounded, and six hundred walking wounded. That’s only from our arriving force, it’s not counting the casualties among the city guard and the civilians. We lost more men than horses, so we can reassign some of our infantry as cavalry. We estimate that we destroyed about one-fifth of the enemy force, though keep in mind that their army was significantly smaller than ours. Most of their cavalry escaped, and we only managed to recapture two cannons, so they still have significant artillery strength.”

“Thank you, General. And of the earlier battle, I heard there were three survivors?”

“Yes, Princess.”

“I wish to speak with them immediately. Have them brought to me. After that, I am calling a council of war in one hour at the Governor’s mansion. All officers of the rank of lieutenant colonel and above should be there.”

After the men scurried to carry out her orders, Princess Katarina, left alone in relative peace and quiet for the first time in a while, sat down on an ornately carved stone bench overlooking a fountain, the water still flowing despite the siege and battle. She put her head in her hands. A thousand of her men dead. Plus likely several hundred more dead in the city. It was a delicate balance inside her between the tough warrior who knew that deaths were inevitable and the compassionate leader who cared deeply for the soldiers under her command.

Her thoughts turned to the future. The Amazons. How was she going to handle this? Was she even capable of handling this? After a single battle, she could say without question that they were the toughest opponents she had ever faced. Her side had had every advantage. Superior numbers. The element of surprise. Superior artillery firepower. And yet, the battle had essentially ended in a draw, or at best a minor victory for her side. What was going to happen when she met the Amazons in an even fight?

After speaking with the survivors of the first battle, Katarina felt even more intimidated by the Amazons. The men had described the enemy as having near-superhuman speed, unbelievable accuracy with bows and thrown weapons, expert knowledge of tactics, unshakeable courage, and the ability to learn and adapt incredibly fast.

Katarina was a powerful warrior princess in her own right. Though only twenty-three years old, she had already fought many battles, personally slain dozens of men in combat, and led Royalist troops to victory over larger armies time and again. Tall and intimidating, slender but muscular, powerful yet feminine, she looked quite the stereotypical female warrior. The daughter of King Frederick IX and his first wife, an exotic-looking noblewoman from a far-southern tribe, she had inherited her mother’s long, silky black hair and darkly tanned brown skin. Some men joked that she looked almost like an Amazon herself, though the similar deep tans of the Amazons and those of her mother’s tribe simply came from both groups living in warm climates. Their homelands were thousands of miles apart.

Katarina did not think of herself as having much in common with the Amazons…at least not yet. For now, her curiosity about them was motivated simply by her desire to know her enemy. Yes, she came from a society with a long tradition of sexism. It was unusual for women, even princesses, to lead armies in the kingdom, and it had taken several victorious battles for her to become the well-respected leader she was today. Yes, women had far fewer rights than men in her country. But her father was a good man who was trying to make things better. He had issued an edict making wife-beating illegal, and another allowing women to join some of the guilds. Not all, but some. And the throne…

The throne. It might even be hers someday. According to the law of the kingdom, the eldest son was first in line to inherit the throne, and daughters got the monarchy only if there were no available sons. She had one sibling, a younger brother, also named Frederick, called Junior to his face, but Little F behind his back, for Little Fuck-up. Twenty-one-year old Little F was not only dim-witted and utterly incompetent at everything from battle to money management, but also a cruel sadist. Everyone knew that he would make a terrible king, though some people still supported him for their own reasons. Some were as sadistic as he was, some hated the idea of a woman in power, and some wanted an incompetent fool who would be easy to manipulate rather than a strong leader.

But there was the rule, the Roslyn Rule, named for the queen who had been a distant ancestor. Way back then, King Frederick III had named his intelligent daughter, Roslyn, the heiress to the throne over her incompetent brother. That had started the tradition of a monarch being able to name another of his children his heir, if he deemed the eldest son would be a danger on the throne. In the five hundred years the Roslyn Rule had been in existence, it had only been used twice after the original proclamation. By the gods, it was time for it to be used again. Surely her father would not let the useless Little F on the throne…

Katarina was used to being the only woman in a room, as she was now in this council of war, held in the large basement of the Governor’s mansion. She looked over the various males in attendance. Some were courageous and intelligent men that she could always trust in battle. Others were cowardly fools who had only risen to their ranks because of political connections.

“How many soldiers do we have available here in fighting shape?” she asked.

“Milady, we have 13,000 infantry, 2500 cavalry, and 55 cannons,” her chief of staff answered.

She nodded. “We will send out two armies, following the paths our scouting parties took, one to the northwest and one to the southwest, to reclaim our land. Each army will have 6000 infantry, a thousand cavalry, and 20 cannons. We’ll keep 15 cannons in defense of the Colonial Capital, and 500 riders to patrol around the city.”

“But milady, that would leave only a thousand infantry in the city,” said one of her generals.

“Yes, plus the town guard,” she responded.

“Princess, the men of the town guard were decimated by the Amazon attacks. There are few men among them fit to fight,” the Governor said.

“Few men. That is true.” Katarina tossed her long black hair. “But women, on the other hand…We should be able to recruit two thousand young, fit female citizens of the city and arm them with muskets and bayonets. With them, plus the men of the town guard, the thousand Royalist infantrymen, and the cannons, that should be enough to hold the walls.”

Murmurs and whispers broke out in the room at the Princess’s idea. Some of the men approved of it, some were stubborn sexists who did not approve, and some were closeted schmoes – men who were sexually attracted to dominant, aggressive, weapon-wielding women – who were secretly turned on by the plan, but felt the need to express opposition to it to cover up their fetish. Actually, there was quite a bit of overlap between the second and third groups.

“Young ladies defending the Colonial Capital with muskets and bayonets? Preposterous!” shouted a fat colonel. “Girls would run and hide as soon as they saw the enemy coming!”

“The enemy? You mean the Amazons? Who are girls, the last time I checked, and who have shown that they can fight damn well, a whole lot better than anyone else who has gone up against the King’s army. And probably a whole lot better than a fat rear echelon mother fucker like you,” Katarina snapped.

The overweight officer dropped to his knees. “Forgive me, my Princess,” he begged.

She rolled her eyes. “Get up, sit down, and just keep your fat stupid mouth shut.”

“Yes, milady.” His voice was now barely above a whisper. Some of the other men were snickering at him.

“Getting back to business,” said Katarina. She turned to her chief of staff. “Have the soldiers ready to move out as soon as the scouts return. Governor, you will be in charge of recruiting the young women for city guard duty. Together, we will restore this colony to its former greatness.”

As the people in the Colonial Capital waited for the scouts to bring back news, their mood was far brighter than it had been in the past few weeks, although fear of the Amazons still ran high. The calm presence and strong leadership of Princess Katarina, however, helped their morale immensely.

The training of the female militia was coming along well. It was customary for girls as well as boys to learn how to use muskets, swords, and bayonets while growing up, so most of the training they required was learning how to fight together as large, cohesive units. The girls picked their new skills up quickly, and many of the male citizens became intimidated by, and attracted to, the new look of their women.

As for the Amazons, they seemed to be laying low for now. Katarina had issued strict orders for the cavalry patrolling around the city not to ride past certain boundaries. One patrol ignored the order, went past the boundaries, and disappeared, never to be seen again, although other riders reported hearing terrified screams of men being tortured far in the distance. After that, the horsemen kept close to the town. The Amazons were staying away from the walls, at least for the moment.

There was a knock on the door of Katarina’s large bedroom. “Come in,” she said.

An officer entered. “You wished to see me, milady?”

“Yes, Major. I was told that you’re the best military historian we have here. You know more about the Amazons than anyone else. I need you to tell me everything you know about them. Have a seat, I expect this will take a while.”

“Thank you, Princess. As far as we can tell, the Amazons have been on this island for at least several hundred years, maybe longer. We don’t know if they were the first inhabitants or if they were later conquerors. What we do know is that until relatively recently, they were split into warring clans that fought with each other as well as with male armies from other peoples. About a hundred years ago, a great warrior queen became the leader of one clan and conquered and unified all the others. She set up a well-organized monarchy that has been passed down through generations of daughters. The unified female empire began making war on the various male-dominated indigenous tribes of the island. The males didn’t stand a chance and fell one after another. But then, the queen realized that if the Amazons didn’t have any outsiders to fight, they might break up into squabbling clans again. So they set up a system that continues to this day. Basically, they handle the male-ruled tribes like cattle, keeping them boxed in, culling them from time to time, but never completely finishing them off.”

“Most interesting,” said Katarina. “Is there any chance of our exploiting old clan divisions within the Amazon nation?”

“I’m afraid not, milady. Even in the ages of warring clans, the Amazons had a strict rule. No band of female warriors was ever allowed to make an alliance with outsiders against another group of Amazons. The old ‘me against my brother’ policy, but with sisters.”

“Me against my sister, me and my sister against my cousin, me, my sister, and my cousin against the clan, the clan against the nation, and all of us against the outsider,” said the Princess, nodding. “A primitive but effective policy. Now, you’ve talked about the Amazons’ relationships with other tribes, but what about with our kingdom?”

“Although we’ve never had diplomatic relations of any kind with the Amazons, there was a sort of unwritten rule that as long as we stayed on our part of the island and they stayed on theirs, there wouldn’t be any trouble. A gentlemen’s agreement, or in this case a gentlemen’s and ladies’ agreement. Sometimes small groups of curiosity seekers would go into Amazon territory. None of them ever came out alive. Since it was obvious that the intrusions weren’t sanctioned by the kingdom, the Amazons were content with taking vengeance on the explorers themselves and not starting any bigger wars with us. I think they feared our modern technology. Unfortunately, now that they’ve faced it and seen its limitations, they’ve lost their fear of us, permanently, I’m afraid.”

“Well, we’ll just have to rekindle that fear,” said Katarina with a slight smile. “We show them we are not to be trifled with, we can restore the old borders, end their attacks, and bring back peace. Now can you tell me something of their social structure?”

“The Amazons have a strict hierarchy based on class. At the top are the warrior women. Every girl is trained in the arts of war as she grows up. When she comes of age, she must pass a test. Those who make it join the ranks of warriors and become full-fledged citizens of the Amazon Nation, with all the rights and privileges that come with it. Girls who fail their warrior test are not allowed to join the army and become farmers or merchants. They are second class citizens. Below them are the male slaves. There are two categories of slaves, the higher category being breeders. Strong, athletic men who are needed to mate with the women to produce strong babies. At the very bottom is the other category of male slaves. Those are simple laborers and are usually treated with sadistic cruelty, and are sometimes hunted and killed for sport. It’s actually the second class women and the breeder slaves who are the most cruel. The second class females go through their whole lives with resentment at not passing their warrior test, and take it out on the slaves. And the breeder slaves take out their anger at their enslavement on the lower slaves, beating them and sometimes even buggering them.” The officer shuddered at the thought.

“Most interesting,” said the Princess. “Since it’s the lower class women who seem to be the most fanatical and violent, it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to use class divisions either against the Amazon power structure. Thank you, Major. You’ve been most informative. You are dismissed.”

“Thank you, milady.” The officer bowed and left the room. Katarina sat on her bed for a long time, thinking. Defeating these Amazons was not going to be easy, if it was even possible.

The Princess met with her senior officers again later that day. “We are going to make some changes,” she announced. “Too much of what we’ve been doing hasn’t been working. First of all, all infantry officers will instruct their men to fire at will in battle instead of firing volleys, which are too easy for the Amazons to dodge by doing timed backflips. Second, our armor. We’re getting rid of it. It can’t stop Amazon arrows from their longbows, it can’t stop bolts from their crossbows, and it can’t stop spears thrown by their powerful female arms. All it’s doing is slowing us down. Without it, we’ll be much faster both marching and riding. Cavalrymen will keep their shields. Any rider who somehow managed to survive the last battle with a cheap wooden shield is strongly urged to purchase a metal one instead.”

“Now, to the issue of command structure and rank. Those of you who reached your positions through nepotism, cronyism, or corruption, and you know who you are, hear this. You may be able to get away with the things you do on the mainland. But out here, there is no room for incompetence. I will be posting a list of officers whose rank has changed. Some of you will be promoted, and some demoted. If anyone has any objection to these changes and feels it is an insult to their honor, I am accepting challenges.”

As she had expected, there was quite a bit of grumbling among the officers who had been reduced in rank. Two former lieutanant colonels who had been busted down to major took her up on her offer and challenged her to duels. She chose pistols as the first weapon. Showing off her speed and markswomanship, Katarina shot her opponent in the hand before he could even take aim, causing him to drop his weapon with a cry of pain. For the second fight, she went with swords. She parried her attacker’s first swing easily, stunned him with a backflip kick to the face, and swiftly pressed her blade against his throat. After that, both officers humbly accepted their new positions, and there were no more challenges. The fat colonel (remember him?) who had objected to girls being made defenders of the city had been busted all the way down to private. He had blustered and threatened louder than anyone else, but hadn’t had the balls to challenge her. Everyone who had had to serve under him was overjoyed at his demotion, as he had been utterly incompetent and a total asshole.

TEN DAYS LATER

The scouts had returned, reports had been made, battle plans had been drawn up. The massive Royalist army was assembled in the main square of the Colonial Capital, standing at attention as Princess Katarina addressed them. “The day you have been waiting for has arrived!” she shouted. “It is time to reclaim the land that our forefathers paid for with their blood. Today, we march! As we planned earlier, we will divide our forces in two. I will personally command the first army, which will advance to the northwest, where the scouts reported that the largest force of Amazons is located. The other will be commanded by General Norton. His army will sweep towards the southwest, liberating our towns and neutralizing any Amazon forces they encounter along the way. Now advance, in the name of the King!” The soldiers let out a loud cheer.

Katarina’s army advanced cautiously towards the northwest, deeper into the interior of the island and away from the safety and familiarity of the coast. Knowing what the Amazons were capable of and having seen their feminine handiwork up close and personal, the men couldn’t help feeling nervous. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, and the birds were singing. Yet the cold fear was still there. Only the presence of Princess Katarina saved morale from getting too low. She rode from place to place along the long column of marching men, sometimes in the front, sometimes in the rear, speaking with them, checking if everything was okay, making sure that any problems that arose were nipped in the bud.

Right now, she was riding ahead of the main column with a scouting force of about fifty cavalrymen. She liked to spend as much time as she could with the scouts without neglecting her responsibilities to the rest of the army. She liked to know what was going on, what was coming up ahead.

As the trees on either side grew taller and thicker, she frowned. “I don’t like this, Captain,” she said to the scout commander. “The forest is getting so dense. It would be so easy for the Amazons to ambush us here.”

“The woods extend all across this part of the island, milady. There’s really no getting around them.”

“I understand, Captain. Still, we’d better be on extra alert until the trees thin out.”

“With respect, milady, I don’t expect an ambush here. We’re still relatively close to the coast, and our force is so large. I doubt the Amazons would bring an army of their own large enough to make an impact on us so far from their own lines.”

“Still, I just have this feeling…” She suddenly froze, stopping her horse. “Listen.”

“I don’t hear anything.”

“That’s just it. The birds. They’ve stopped singing.” She shouted as loudly as her feminine, musical voice would carry. “AMBUSH! WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!”

Even as she spoke, the arrows came flying. Katarina’s shout saved many lives, as men raised their shields or took cover behind the wagons. It could only do so much, however, and many Royalist soldiers still fell, arrows sticking out of their bodies. Then it got worse. Artillery, captured by the Amazons, began booming. More men fell, the grapeshot and canister taken from the King’s army doing devastating damage to the very forces that had invented it.

The Princess forced herself to remain calm. She saw men panicking all around her, some firing wildly into the trees, some curling up on the ground, simply waiting to be impaled with an arrow or blown apart by cannon fire. She knew she had to act fast. She began screaming orders, hoping to save as many of her men as she could. “Infantry! Don’t just sit there! Odd numbered companies, advance into the woods and flush them out! Don’t fire unless you have a target! Even numbered companies, guard the supplies and stay covered by the wagons! Cavalry, ride with me! For the King, for the land!”

All along the column, men sprang into action. Remembering their training and fighting their fear, the strong leadership of the Princess reminded them that curling up into a ball was not the best way to go. The Royalist infantry began advancing. Men were still falling from arrows and cannon fire, but the lines did not break.

Katarina issued fresh orders to her cavalry. “Six companies of riders,” she called out, pointing to the commanders of each. “Ride around and double back. Try to trap the enemy between yourselves and our infantry. The other four companies, follow me. We’re going straight for the Amazon artillery.”

The Amazon girls firing the cannons, gleefully laughing as each shot resulted in horrified male screams in the distance, were shocked to see four hundred male riders, led by a woman, burst out of the woods and charge straight for them. Katarina, her pistol in her right hand, fired both barrels, killing two girls who were about to light the fuses to cannons. The men joined in, firing their pistols and carbines, dropping more Amazons. Some of the artillerywomen managed to turn and fire their big guns, blowing a few dozen men and horses to pieces, but the charge had been too sudden and swift to be stopped.

A band of girl-archers that had been placed nearby for just such an occasion fired a volley, killing several men in the front line of cavalry who couldn’t get their shields up in time. The Amazons took the opportunity to begin doing their trademark back handsprings to retreat, elegantly backflipping like pro-gymnasts to their horses, which they quickly mounted and rode away. The Royalists only managed to shoot down a few of the flick-flacking, difficult to hit women, and the horses were well out of range before the men could get the cannons turned around.

Katarina turned to an officer next to her. “Stay here until you can have infantry called up to guard the cannons. Even then, don’t pursue the Amazons, they’ll be long gone. Just secure the area. I’m going to help our men in the woods.” With that, she rode off, reloading her pistol as her horse galloped.

The battle in the forest was brutal and bloody. An Amazon could get four or five shots off with her bow for each shot a Royalist musketeer could fire. Still, the men preferred shooting at a distance, because in hand-to-hand combat the girl warriors could literally slice males to pieces with their swords before the men could even try to make a stab with their bayonets. The Royalist infantry was losing, being slowly pushed back, until their cavalry suddenly appeared on the other side of the Amazons. Not wanting to be trapped, the female fighters moved swiftly to the south, away from both the Royalist infantry and cavalry, to escape, firing arrows to cover their retreat.

Just as Katarina was about to reach the trees, a lone Amazon burst of of the woods, running. She hurled an axe at the princess, who got her shield up just in time. The weapon buried itself in the shield with a THUNK. Katarina continued her charge, simply trampling the girl underneath her horse.

Amazons were retreating, swiftly but not panicking. Katarina shot two of them dead with her pistol, then rode through them, slaying several of them with her sword, dodging spears thrown at her, and blocking arrows with her shield. She met up with her cavalry officers in a small clearing. In the distance came the sound of muskets still firing and arrows still whooshing.

“How was it?” she asked. At the edge of the clearing, a male soldier had been pinned to a tree by an arrow through his heart. Next to him was a pile of arms, legs, torsos, and heads – it was difficult to tell how many men they had belonged to.

“Bad, but it could have been a lot worse. They ran when they saw us about to close the trap. It was a near run thing, our boys were losing.”

She nodded. “Get the wounded to the wagons and secure the area. When it’s safe, we’ll bury the dead.”

Livia and Jenova, the Amazon princesses, stood by the large command tent, watching as the female army that had been sent to ambush the Royalists came riding up. The leader of the strike force dismounted and bowed to the princesses. “My Ladies.”

“How did the battle go? Did you annihilate them?” Livia asked eagerly.

“Um…not exactly, my Princess. We got them good at first, but instead of sitting there and waiting to be slaughtered they actually found their balls and counterattacked. It was their female leader, she was the one who gave them that strength. Then we were beating them again, but their cavalry appeared behind us and we had to retreat to avoid being trapped. The good news is that our casualties were relatively light and we killed a lot more of theirs than they killed ours.”

“Where are the cannons?” Livia demanded.

“I’m sorry, milady. We had to leave them behind.”

“I see.” Livia turned her back, then, in a lightning move, drew her sword and brutally decapitated the girl!

Jenova grabbed her sister’s arm. “What the fuck are you doing?! This is not the Amazon way!”

Livia shook Jenova off. “It is MY way, and I am the heiress to the throne! This fool committed the ultimate sin! She let herself be run off by a group of MALES! That is unforgivable! And to add insult to injury, she lost ten cannons to the enemy! Not only that, but those males may be becoming less scared of us! We rely on our reputation as invincible goddesses to strike fear into the hearts of men before battle even begins! Do you know how much weaker we will be if we lose that?”

“In all fairness, sister, they were led by a woman. It’s not like she lost to a male commander. Anyway, you can’t just execute an Amazon warrior without trial. The Queen will not approve.”

“We shall see what the Queen approves. You do not speak for her, little sister. Now let’s get back to business. I guess the old saying is true. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. I will personally command the next attack. Now here’s what we’re going to do…”

The Royalist army had made camp for the night. The sentries were on double duty. Katarina turned to her chief of staff. “Do you have the count?”

“Yes, milady. Five hundred of our men are dead. Three hundred more are wounded too badly to fight, and will have to be evacuated to our nearest fort. Enemy casualties were relatively light, maybe 150 or 200 dead, but we recaptured all ten cannons they used in the ambush.”

The Princess nodded. “The men also now know that the Amazons are not invincible goddesses, and it is possible to survive an ambush by them. They are human. Extremely strong, fast, and lethal humans, but still just humans. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they are very swift at learning from their mistakes. I fully expect us to be ambushed again before we reach Amazon territory, and it will be more clever next time.”

Katarina saw several men gulp. She tried to give them an encouraging smile. Overhead, the once clear, starry sky was clouding up. Thunder rumbled ominously in the distance.

THE END…for now

 

 

 

Tales from the Amazon Wars, Episode 1

It was time. With trumpets blaring and banners waving, the royal army – seven thousand infantry, a thousand cavalry, and a dozen cannons – marched out of the gates of the colonial capital, ready to teach those arrogant Amazons a lesson.

Three weeks earlier, the ambassadors, five of them, had ridden into Amazon territory with a letter signed by His Majesty himself, King Frederick IX, demanding acceptance of the royal kingdom as the Amazons’ feudal overlords and a tribute of fifty of the Amazon tribes’ prettiest, most athletic young women per month for the sexual gratification of the royalist males. The response had come swiftly, in the form of a riderless horse, galloping back to royalist territory, carrying a bag filled with five decapitated heads. The colonial governor, with the blessing of His Majesty from across the sea, had quickly raised an army to punish this act of feminine treachery.

And now, as the soldiers headed off to battle, their spirits were high. How could mere girls defeat big, tough grown adult males, after all? Most of the men were thinking of a swift victory followed by the bounty of the spoils of war. The army’s commander, Major General Donner, had promised his men any girl-warrior they captured as a sex slave. Bulging hard-ons could be seen in many of the soldiers’ crotches as they marched, as they thought about their promised reward.

Two days’ march into Amazon territory, the royalist scouts returned with the news the men had been waiting for. An army of Amazon warrior maidens was advancing to meet them. Only three thousand in number, and armed with bows, swords, and spears against the royalist cannons and muskets, General Donner laughed arrogantly when he heard the report.

The general was a fat and stupid man, who had only risen to his rank because of his noble blood and political connections. His failures on the battlefield were many, and though they were never punished beyond mild reprimands because of his status, he longed for a great victory he could call his own. Now, here was the perfect opportunity, right in front of him. It was going to be so easy.

They drew themselves up in the standard battle formation of the day – infantry front and center, cavalry on the wings, artillery perched on a high bluff in the rear, ready to fire over the heads of the men below and straight into the Amazon ranks. The general and his staff officers sat on their horses by the cannons, watching the scene below on the grassy plain, a place that would become known as the Plain of Tears before the sun would set that day.

“Estimate front ranks of the enemy in cannon range, sir,” his artillery commander reported.

“Excellent. You may fire when ready,” he ordered. The artillery commander gave the order and one by one, the twelve cannons unleashed their projectiles, some falling short, some landing in the Amazon ranks, dropping a few girls here and there. The men waiting on the plain cheered at the sight of female warriors falling, but the effect was small compared to the size of the Amazon army.

As the artillerymen reloaded, a spine-chilling, high-pitched battle cry came from the Amazon girls. A second later, a barrage of arrows was flying towards the royalist army. General Donner snorted. “Arrows against the might of our cannons? They can’t hit us up here.”

“But they can hit them,” said one of his officers. Sure enough, the arrows slammed into the front ranks of the infantry with brutal efficiency, dropping a hundred men dead instantly, and leaving a hundred more howling in agony from gruesome wounds. The arrows were long and thick, fired from powerful bows, and had sadistically barbed arrowheads with multiple sharp points to cause particularly gory injuries.

The men fired back with their muskets, but their primitive firearms, with an effective range of only a hundred yards, were no match for the Amazon archers, who could hit targets at three hundred yards easily. The musket balls fell harmlessly into the dirt far in front of the Amazons, as another lethal volley of arrows came, causing more carnage among the helpless males.

General Donner dismounted his horse and began stamping his feet, shouting at his cannoneers. “Hurry it up, will you?”

“These things take time, sir,” responded the artillery commander. Two more devastating volleys of Amazon arrows slammed into the royalist infantry before the cannons finally fired again. Some more Amazon girls fell, but again some of the artillery fire fell short, and the damage was far less than what the girl-archers could do.

“They’re getting four or five volleys for every one we do,” moaned an officer. “We can’t go on like this!”

“Cavalry charge,” growled General Donner. “Sweep those archer bitches off the field.”

“Sir, if we do that, they’ll suffer terrible casualties from the arrows. Our cavalry is valuable. I recommed either a full infantry attack to accompany the cavalry, or a retreat while we let our artillery take care of business. If we stay stuck in the middle like this we’ll be slaughtered,” his chief of staff said.

“I am in command here, and I say cavalry charge!” Donner shouted. “Our riders will mow those girl-archers down like grass. After that, then the infantry can advance and crush the Amazon swordswomen.”

“Yes, sir. Cavalry charge it is.” A trumpet blared and the royalist cavalry, one thousand men and horses, began their fateful (and fatal) charge.

The Amazon archers turned their attention to the galloping cavalry. Their arrows rained death upon the riders. Despite the speed of the well-bred royalist horses, the girl-archers were so efficient and accurate that by the time the cavalry had almost reached the Amazons’ front line, more than half the riders were dead. Up on the bluff, the chief of staff shook his head sadly at the carnage he had warned his commander was coming.

The surviving cavalrymen lowered their lances as they reached the final phase of their charge. Now, they would get revenge for their fallen comrades. Now, they would make those bitches pay. The girls, wearing only leather armor, on foot, and carrying no hand-to-hand combat weapons other than short swords, would be no match for heavily armored riders with lances.

But not three seconds before the cavalry would have ridden into their enemies, the front rank of Amazons suddenly snatched up long, sharp spears that had been lying hidden in the grass. With lightning speed and perfect coordination, they formed a solid wall of lethal spear points. Too late to stop the charge, the first line of cavalry rode straight into their gruesome deaths, male voices screaming as they were impaled. The cavalry commander tried to rally his men, but a tall, slender, muscular Amazon maiden stood up, long hair blowing in the wind, and hurled her spear, sending it straight through his heavy armor, right through his heart, and through the armor on his back as well.

The surviving horsemen did the only thing they could do. They fled. The female archers were not going to let them get off so easy. They opened fire again, really showing off their markswomanship. Men fell dead by the dozens, arrows in their backs. Of the thousand cavalrymen who had begun the charge, less than twenty made it back to their own lines.

The royalist infantry was already advancing. The general’s chief of staff had ordered it and even Donner, fool that he was, had enough sense to realize they had to win this fight now if they were going to win at all. Arrows rained down on the infantrymen, killing many, as they advanced as rapidly as possible, trying to get into musket range.

The General and his officers watched anxiously from the top of the bluff as their numbers steadily shrank. The cannons were still firing, but couldn’t do more than drop a few women warriors here and there. A mass of Amazon swordswomen formed up rapidly in the front of their ranks. Behind them, the archer-girls were still firing, over their comrades’ heads and into the royalist infantry.

“Take aim-unh!” As an infantry colonel shouted his command, an arrow drove through his armor and into his right lung. He fell to the dirt, on his way to an excruciating death ten minutes later. His lieutenant colonel barked, “Take aim! Fire!”

As the ranks of muskets spit flame, the entire corps of Amazon swordswomen, with the grace, skill, and coordination of champion gymnasts, suddenly executed perfect, simultaneous standing back handsprings. The musket balls whizzed harmlessly between their legs as they were upside down. The swordswomen landed neatly on their feet as the musket balls landed in the dirt behind them. The female archers, still firing, had intelligently retreated out of musket range.

As the men stared in shock at the display of female athleticism that had completely and utterly shown them up, the swordswomen launched themselves into cartwheels followed by rapid back handsprings directly at the males, elegantly backflipping with amazing speed. Many of the soldiers developed hard-ons at the sight of such awe-inspiring female gymnastic skill. The royalist infantry reloaded and fired another volley. The swordswomen responded by increasing their speed just enough to time their perfectly coordinated flips so that they would be safely upside down when the musket balls reached them. Sure enough, once again the strategy worked to perfection, the rounds flying harmlessly between their legs.

“Fire at will, you fools! Fire at will!” an officer shouted. It was too late, however. The Amazon girls could backflip a hundred yards in less than thirty seconds, not enough time for a musketeer to get off a third shot. The officer drew his pistol, taking aim at a young woman in bright colors who seemed to be a warrior of high rank, but before he could fire, a perfectly thrown Amazon knife came flying and drove straight into his heart.

The girl-warriors finished their tumbling passes with various full and double full twists, landing right on the front ranks of royalist infantrymen and cutting them to pieces with their wickedly sharp swords. The Amazon swordswomen wielded a blade in each hand, and had a graceful but lethal attack style that was known as the dance of death. While the strongest and most muscular girls were chosen to become archers, as they could best handle the huge, heavy bows that the Amazons used, the swordswomen were chosen from the fastest, most agile girls. The men, trying to fight back with their bayonets, were utterly helpless against the blinding speed of the sexy swordswomen. Arms, legs, and heads flew off, guts were disemboweled, and some bodies were simply chopped in half as the warrior maidens sliced and diced their way through the male ranks.

General Donner and his staff were looking at the scene below them in pure shock. How could it have come to this? How could eight thousand of His Majesty’s finest men be defeated – not just defeated, but utterly annihilated – by three thousand teenage girls?

If the General and his staff officers were alarmed, the men below were in pure terror. Literally caught between a rock and a hard place, trapped with cliffs behind them and the relentless Amazon death machine in front of them, they knew they were doomed. The girls were so quick that they could cut the men in front to pieces before they could fire, and the soldiers in the rear couldn’t shoot without hitting their own men. Most of them simply threw down their muskets and prayed for a quick death – an arrow through the heart or a simple decapitation.

As the scene below continued to unfold – the color on the plain steadily turning from the blue and white uniforms of the Royalists to a simple brown, the brown leather and darkly tanned brown skin of the Amazon girls, his chief of staff tapped the General on the shoulder. “Beg pardon, milord, but I think it’s time to get these cannons out of here.”

General Donner sighed, his shoulders slumping. All the fight had gone out of him. “Yes. Make it so.” The artillerymen removed the cannons from their emplacements and began harnessing the draft horses to them. The one hundred men of the King’s Royal Guard, a hand-picked elite corps, stood at attention, ready to escort the artillery and their General to safety.

Suddenly, there was a terrifying, high-pitched female warrior cry from the nearby forest, followed by the thundering sound of hoofbeats. The men looked at one another in fear. “We were wondering where the Amazon cavalry was,” said one officer. “Well, I think we’ve found our answer.”

A volley of arrows came flying from the trees. “Of course,” said another officer, rolling his eyes. There was no cover. The lethal arrows slammed into the men with devastating efficiency. Sixty Guardsmen, half the artillerymen, and three staff officers collapsed to the dirt, dead or dying. The surviving cannoneers frantically tried to get the big guns turned around, but maneuvering the slow, clumsy weapons in time was hopeless.

The well-trained Guardsmen stood cold and still in the face of death, holding their fire, waiting for a target they could see. Then came the thrown weapons. Spears, axes, and knives, hurled with incredible strength and accuracy by the horsewomen still hidden in the cover of the trees. Dozens more men dropped dead with axes to their skulls, knives to their hearts, or simple good old impalements through the middle with spears.

They finally emerged from the trees, perhaps three hundred of them, slender, muscular, pretty teenage girls on horses, charging at full speed. The surviving Guardsmen had time to fire a single volley, bringing a few girls down, but the fight was already over. Spear-wielding horsewomen rode right into the Guardsmen, whose bayonets were no match for the long, sharp female spears. The men fell, disemboweled or impaled. Meanwhile, another group of horsewomen was riding down the artillerymen, decapitating them with their swords. Men who tried to run or ride away were shot down with expert precision by a group of horsewomen in the rear with bows, smaller than the massive ones fired by the infantry-women but well-designed and modified to be capable of piercing armor.

General Donner, his chief of staff, and two more of his officers were the only men left alive. The Amazons surrounded them, dozens of arrows and spears pointed at them as the men raised their hands in surrender.

The crowd of horsewomen parted and a young Amazon princess rode up. She smiled at her captives seductively and dominantly. “You fools. You cowards. Did you really think that your fires and explosions would be enough to defeat the Amazon Nation? Now you will pay for your arrogance.” She made a quick motion with her muscular, bracelet-adorned wrist and strong female arms seized the men. “You will now be taken to be sacrificed to the Mother Goddess. You will suffer. You will burn. And you will learn what all enemies of the Amazon Nation learn. Never let an Amazon girl take you alive, because you’d be better off dead.” The men trembled in fear. General Donner wet his pants.

“Riders approaching! Three of them. Our men,” said the scout from his lookout tower on the wall surrounding the Colonial Capital.

“Open the gate!” shouted another man. Three brusied, battered, weary looking riders, a young man in a lieutenant’s uniform and two enlisted soldiers, rode into town, gasping with extreme relief as the gates shut behind them. The Governor, having heard the commotion, hurried up to the scene. “What news from the battle, Lieutenant?”

“Milord…we’re it. We’re the only survivors. The Amazons… they slaughtered us all.”

“What?! Impossible! Eight thousand of His Majesty’s finest men? You must be mistaken. More men will be coming, I’m sure,” said the Governor, in denial.

“Even if more survivors come in, sir, they’ll just be a few more stragglers. I was there. I saw the whole battle. We were annihilated. Utterly annihilated. Those girls…they fought like demonesses. I’ve never seen anything like it…”

The Governor put his face in his hands. “All right. Get these men some food and water. When they’ve recovered, bring them to my mansion. I’ll want a full report on what happened,” he ordered. “Double the guards on the walls, right now. And send a messenger-ship to His Majesty.”

Thunder rumbled ominously in the distance as the men hurried to carry out the governor’s orders. A sense of doom and dread came over the town underneath the gray, rapidly darkening sky.

TO BE CONTINUED…