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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…