by D.S. Wynne and Doc Quantum
As the demoness Blaze was about to claw the helpless Princess Celia, she suddenly felt a blow to the back of the head. When Celia’s adversary went down, the young princess could see that it was her best friend Drusilla that had caused the blow.
“Dru!” Celia exclaimed as she ran to embrace her friend.
“Hola, Celia,” replied Drusilla, not taking her eyes off her foe. After the embrace, Drusilla asked if everything was all right.
“Yeah, I guess,” replied Celia. “This witch is trying to kill me and Thena. Athena! I almost forgot. She’s fighting this lizard-thing over there. We’ve got to help her!”
“Sure, sure. But let’s take care of this demon over here first. You still got your rope?”
“Sure. Let me run and go get it. But be careful. She is one tricky witch.”
“Obviously. Now hurry and get the rope.”
“Right,” Celia replied as she went to retrieve her gear. Unknown to both girls, Blaze was feigning unconsciousness and was determined to get her revenge.
Meanwhile, back at the palace, Lysippe continued her tale.
“Promethea, I know that what I just said is a bit hard to swallow, but what I have said is the truth. You are the daughter of my daughter, Thermodosa. Furthermore, your heritage is Titan, since your father was Prometheus.”
“But how? When?”
“Thermodosa cared for Prometheus on many levels. He was the only god who respected mortals as equals; that’s what attracted her to him in the beginning. They shared many things, including a warm bed. But, to her dismay, she could never love him beyond mere friendship. Perhaps it was because he was too refined for her taste. Still, she never stopped caring for him.”
The queen got up off her seat and walked over to Promethea. She gently stroked her cheek.
“Prometheus would have done anything to see that you had a full life. Some time after you were brought here, he came here while searching for Thermodosa. He was not told of your existence, but he vowed to find Thermodosa to return her to us, whether she be alive or dead. To this day, I never knew what happened to him. Perhaps you can find out what did happen.”
“What do you mean?” Promethea asked.
“Ever since you were brought here, I have been using whatever means available to locate his whereabouts. Perhaps you are destined to find your father in the outer world.”
Before Promethea could reply, Ursula came rushing in to Lysippe’s chamber. “Your Majesty!” the Captain of the Guard exclaimed. “Forgive my indulgence, but we have a terrible situation.”
“What is it?” the queen asked.
“Xyleena has detected a malevolent entity here on the island, and it is where your daughters and their friend are!”
“Summon the guard. I want a search party ready immediately!”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Athena Dare could feel the gash beneath her rib cage. Damn, she thought to herself. I can’t afford to get any more injuries like this!
She had been an adventuress for many years now, and she knew that she should have taken this thing out a while ago. She was a trained Amazon warrior, and she’d had extensive training under the best fighters the world had ever seen. Why was she now behaving like an amateur?
Athena crouched, waiting for the lizard-thing to attack. The way it behaved reminded her of that film with all the dinosaurs running amuck on some gods-forsaken island. The only way for her to beat this thing was to evoke the Eye of the Huntress. Even though this was a gift that was originally given to her mother, she hoped that she would be able to invoke it.
Concentrating, Athena willed herself to tap into the amorphous energies of nature. She suddenly began to see all around her. She felt the rhythm of nature pulsing within her veins. She saw through the eyes of the animals within the immediate area. There! Athena’s mind and body adjusted to match nature’s perception. She saw that the creature was about to attack. Grinning in an almost catlike manner, Athena prepared herself for the incoming assault.
The lizard-monster smacked its lips with its forked tongue. It was determined to finish off its prey. Then it attacked. With the reaction of an animal, Athena responded in kind.
The two tore into each other, each determined that there could be only one victor. The lizard-thing was determined to win. However, it made a fatal mistake in assuming that its prey was easy to defeat. It would die knowing that Athena was an Amazon warrior for more reason than her bloodline.
The young Princess Celia ran quickly back to her campsite, hoping that her rope was still where she had last left it. She had a gut feeling that, if she didn’t return soon, something terrible could happen to her friend, Drusilla.
Meanwhile, Drusilla was still standing guard over the fallen demoness. Suddenly, she heard Celia cry out. This sound distracted the young Amazon long enough to allow Blaze to get back to her feet. With inhuman speed, the demoness slashed at Drusilla’s back. The girl fell, sprawled across the ground. Drusilla felt an intense pain on her back, and knew from Amazonian training that she was badly injured and bleeding. In spite of the pain, Drusilla was an Amazon through and through. She was determined to see to the safety of the princess. Struggling, Drusilla slowly got up, making sure that she had her staff in hand.
“Witch, you’re going have to do better than that,” she said through gritted teeth.
“Hmmph,” Blaze responded. “Tricking you into distraction was an easy thing. And now, your death will be just as simple.”
Princess Celia had managed to find her rope in short order, when she heard her friend scream out in pain. Damn! she thought to herself. Damn that witch! Celia gathered her rope and staff and ran back to where she had last left her friend.
Athena Dare shivered slightly. She always knew that, as an adventuress, she could expect to get into a brutal scrap or two. The one she just had was particularly brutal. However, that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was how she had reveled in the violence, as if she was a force of nature. Slowly, she looked at her hands; they were covered in blood. For the first time, Athena realized how easy it was to give in to one’s primal nature. She hoped that she would never have to go through this episode ever again.
Suddenly, a scream snapped Athena out of her distraction. Drusilla! she thought to herself. Then she remembered who had caused all this. “Blaze.”
The demoness Blaze laughed menacingly at Drusilla, thinking that she would serve as the perfect object lesson for Princess Celia. Casually, she pointed at the princess’ friend and unleashed a ball of green flame. Drusilla, in spite of her weakness, managed to duck for cover. Unfortunately, her strength was failing her, and her body became more difficult to move. Still, she was determined to protect her friend at all cost.
Meanwhile, the Queen’s Guard, Ursula, Xyleena, Promethea, and Queen Lysippe Hippolyta XXXIII were using the main access road to go through the heart of the forest on horseback. Everyone had donned their armor, for they did not know exactly how powerful this Blaze was.
At the halfway point, Promethea had finished donning her Gauntlet of Atlas and the Sandals of Uranus. She had yet to learn how to use her other Titan-level gifts, so Promethea chose the two items she figured she could use right away. From what her mother had told her, the gauntlet would multiply her physical strength, endurance, and stamina by a factor of ten, and the sandals would grant her immense speed and flight.
They saw a firefight in the distance. Steeling themselves, the rescue party arrived at the scene of the battle.
Athena struggled as she raced toward where Blaze and Drusilla were. She was still injured, and was also trying to shake off the effects of the Eye of the Hunter technique. Her perception was a bit off, so she had to concentrate to remain focused. I’ve got to go… faster, Athena thought to herself. So she pushed herself more.
Princess Celia was the first to arrive at the scene. Not really thinking strategically, Celia rushed at Blaze. The demoness casually blasted her to the ground.
“Why, thank you,” Blaze said tauntingly. “I hate to think that I would have to ravage this entire island just to get to you. You saved me a lot of trouble.” Taking aim, the demoness unleashed her most hellish blast. It looked like Celia would not survive this one.
Princess Celia, barely conscious, saw her friend Drusilla rushing toward Blaze and herself. In what she would remember as the slowest moment in her life, Celia saw her friend taking the full brunt of Blaze’s blast. In a display of sheer horror, Celia saw Drusilla blasted into non-existence. When it was all over, there was only a wisp of smoke where her friend had been.
“Drusilla! Drusilla! No-o-o-o-o-o!” Celia cried in anguish.
“Yesss!” Blaze responded mockingly.
Celia, with hot tears streaming down her face, got up and faced her foe. She was determined to get her vengeance.
“You witch! You’ll pay for this!” Celia exclaimed.
“Yeah, right,” Blaze replied as she snapped her fingers.
Suddenly, veins grew all around the young princess, and the stems succeeded in binding her tightly. Unable to move, Celia watched in horror as the demoness casually walked up toward her.
“Poor dearie,” Blaze said as she lightly stroked the young girl’s right cheek. “I told you that it would have been in your best interest to accept my offer, so this is all your fault.”
“My… fault? No! You killed Dru, not me!”
“Oh, really? Do you honestly think that your friend would be gone if you had just done what I recommended? Oh, well. You blew it, and now you will have to accept the consequences.” Using one of her talons, Blaze reached a position that would allow her to slash the young princess’ throat.
Suddenly, Blaze was body-tackled by a speeding object. Athena had arrived just in time to prevent another death. Having had enough, Blaze used her legs to kick Athena off of her. The kick agitated her stomach wound, causing a moment of dizziness. Looking up, Athena saw Blaze rushing up toward her; then she received a kick to the head, and then another.
“I have had enough of this interference!” Blaze exclaimed as she continued her assault. Suddenly, Blaze herself received a kick to the head. The blow knocked the demoness down past where Athena’s prone body laid.
“Thena! Are you all right?” Promethea asked her older sister.
“Oww, I guess so,” Athena replied. After being helped up, Athena asked how she knew that there was some trouble on the other side of New Aretias Isle.
“Xyleena detected some demonic force at work, so she zeroed in on the source. I’m just glad we were able to get here as quickly as we did.”
“Yeah, good thing. Wait! Blaze.”
Athena and Promethea turned to see that the demoness had already recovered from Promethea’s blow. The two members of the royal family were determined to make the demoness pay for her transgression. However, Blaze had other ideas.
“Well, two against one? Bad odds, indeed. You won this round, so expect me to drop in on both of you when you least expect it.”
Turning toward Celia, the demoness continued. “Well, Princess, it looks like our time together will have to wait. Mark my words: either way, you will be mine!” With that, Blaze disappeared.
A moment later, Lysippe and company arrived. Once released from the veins, Celia hugged and cried in her mother’s arms. Lysippe sadly knew that, from here on out, her granddaughter/adopted daughter’s life would be a lot more complicated.
It was now a week since the death of Princess Celia’s friend Drusilla. It had also been a few days since the young girl was given the funeral, where she was honored as a full Amazon (for giving her life to protect the princess). Drusilla’s mother, Tara, was proud of her daughter and was honored when the queen awarded full Amazon status to Drusilla posthumously. Even the Smyrna sisters, Flora and Greta, were proud of Drusilla, though they had been very competitive toward the fallen girl. Still, after all the fanfare had come and gone, Celia’s pain had yet to go away. While Lysippe knew that Celia was still grieving, she also knew that it was time for her daughter to face her destiny.
Lysippe found Princess Celia of New Aretias sitting on a bench overlooking the beach from the royal palace. Much had changed since she had last sat there. She didn’t know whether to be happy about knowing her true origins or not. If only life was still simple, Celia thought to herself. If only I could have done what I did without this hanging over me…
Cautiously, Lysippe sat down next to her youngest daughter.
“Hello, Mother,” Celia said without turning to face Lysippe.
“Hello, Daughter,” Lysippe responded. “How are you this morning?”
“Not very well. It still hurts, Mother. Drusilla died protecting me, and I couldn’t do a thing about it.”
“You’re young, Celia. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You did not know who this Blaze person is, nor did you know how powerful she would be.”
“I guess. How is Athena?”
“Athena is doing quite well. She is being transferred from the Temple of Healing to the palace today. Hopefully she’ll be fully recovered in a couple of days.”
“That’s good to hear.”
“I’m glad you approve. Listen, please come with me. There’s something I need for you to have.”
A short time later, Xyleena led Lysippe and Celia to a secret chamber below the sorceress’ residence. The chambers were well-lit, so much so that Celia could see a series of inscriptions on the wall in front of her. Within an etched lightning bolt were six names. She began reading them in their exact order:
Selene, Hippolyta, Atalanta, Zephyra, Artemis, Minerva.
“These names represent beings who have donated a portion of their abilities in a special matrix,” Xyleena began. “The Titan Selene has donated her power; our greatest queen, Hippolyta I, donated her enormous strength; the demi-goddess Atalanta donated her immense stamina; the goddess of the western winds donated her speed and flight; and finally, the Olympians Artemis and Minerva donated their skill and wisdom, respectively. Together, these abilities form the mystical matrix called the Power of Shazam.”
“Wow. That’s pretty neat,” Celia replied. “So what are you going to do with it?”
Smiling, Xyleena asked her to say, “Shazam.”
For a moment, Princess Celia thought that time seemed to stand still. Suddenly, though, a huge lightning bolt struck the girl. All around her, the room was blanketed by the flash of the lightning bolt. At the same time, Celia could feel herself changing, somehow, as if she was getting a major adrenaline rush. Finally, the lighting subsided. Once Celia’s eyes had readjusted themselves, she realized that her clothing had changed.
Xyleena took out her magic mirror and expanded it to a length and width that was big enough for Celia to take a good look at herself. What she saw shocked her. She still wore her short-length white tunic, but it now had a gold sash around the waist and a gold lightning bolt emblazoned on her chest. Celia also saw that she possessed very stylized golden gauntlets, a short cape, and Grecian-style yellow sandals. Even her hair was different, now slick back and tied in a waist-length pigtail.
“This is the Power of Shazam,” began the sorceress. “You have been one of a very few to be chosen to wield this power by the gods as their champion in the name of justice and righteousness. You are to right wrongs and crush evil wherever you find it.”
“Don’t worry,” Lysippe interjected. “You’ll do fine. You have your family and friends to help you to prepare for this role.”
Stepping closer, the queen placed her hands on the girl’s shoulders. “I know this is a bit much right now, but you must trust my wisdom in this matter. Drusilla’s death will help you to prevent future occurrences such as the tragedy that has befallen our sisters.”
Celia could only wonder if even being given the opportunity to right wrongs could do away the pain she was feeling right at that moment.