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The Characters of Callisto, Xena and any others mentioned from the television series are the property of Universal and Renaissance. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this story. All the others (with the exception of the Gods) come from my own twisted imagination but other people are welcome to use them.
This story contains some graphic depictions of violence so those of you who are easily (and I mean EASILY) upset by this kind of thing should not read any further.
This story is the beginning of a narrative that will continue to crop up as I write more TLOC (The Legacies of Callisto) so if you wish to know what is going on then read on and enjoy another tale of a reformed Callisto and her adventures
|Redemption||Mortius||The Shadow Riders||Soul, Strength And Faith||Out of Time|
The Legacies of Callisto: Mortius
By Michael Stacey
My name is Callisto. In days still to come I slaughtered many men, women and children. Xena, the warrior princess, ended this life. Now, hurled into the past by Zeus, the father of the Gods, I start my life again. I have one last chance to save my soul, one last chance at redemption. And so, my legacies begin.
Prologue: A Walking Shadow
Callisto sat in the flickering light of the fire, her eyes fixed on the stars that glittered in the sky above. She liked these quiet moments, staring at the sky and trying not to think of anything. It gave her sense of calmness and serenity that she had never really felt before, a chance to forget everything that had ever happened to her, a moment of peace. She sighed and reluctantly clambered to her feet. The sun would be up soon and she wanted to be moving before it crested the horizon. Kicking sand over the already dying campfire she turned to saddle her horse. Lazarus had done well over the past few weeks, but she could tell the long hours being awake were taking their toll on him, and maybe her. She had already decided that the next village they came to, they would take a break. In the past she wouldn’t have cared. She wouldn’t have bothered taking the horses health into account. She would have simply ridden the animal to death and when it did die she would have got another. She wouldn’t have paid a single dinar for it either. When you were a warlord you simply took what you wanted. But recently she had come to learn there were something’s that a warlord couldn’t get through force. Love was one of them, and it had been love that she had wanted most. She clambered into the horses saddle and spurred him into life with a light dig to the ribs. The horse began to trot forward at a steady pace. With any luck today might be the day she came to a new village.
The cloaked and hooded figure stood humbly before the twisted stone obelisk in the massive dark chamber lit only by flickering torch light. Before the obelisk was a pool set into the ground of a strange silver liquid that glittered in the torch light while to either side of him huge pillars of black and red marble stretched upward into the shadows high above him. Clutched in his left hand he held a halberd that measured the length of his tall frame, each blade added a foot to the length at both the top and bottom and were stained blood red. Suddenly the flickering torchlight was extinguished and a deathly stillness fell across the room. The man immediately dropped to one knee and hung his head so that his chin drooped to his chest, the halberd laid flat on the ground but still clutched in his fist. The room began to shake, slowly at first but as time passed each tremor grew more and more violent. Suddenly the obelisk split in two. A beam of pure shadow, darker even than the blackness surrounding it had been held inside the huge stone shape. It pulsed as a voice whispered in tones softer than the falling of autumn leaves.
"Look into the pool." The darkness said softly. The figure turned and watched as the darkness spread across the surface of the pool like oil in water. Slowly the darkness parted to reveal a moving image of a striking young blonde woman in a black leather battle dress and with a fine sword strapped across her back. She sat upright on the back of a noble looking black stallion as it trotted down a dirt track at a leisurely pace.
"The woman poses a threat." The voice said matter-of-factly.
"She must be dealt with." The hooded figure spoke.
"Then I need say no more?" The voice hissed
"No, my master." And with that a blinding flash emanated from the pool temporarily blinding the hooded figure. When his vision cleared the obelisk was whole once more and the pool was silver once again. The figure turned and walked back toward the shadows. He and the others had worked hard and planned for too long to let all their efforts go to waste because of some warrior woman who had appeared from nowhere. As he approached the shadows they rippled in anticipation of his arrival. The warrior woman did indeed pose a threat, and a threat, no matter how small must be eliminated.
Chapter One: The Barn
The light from the sinking sun grew less with every passing minute but Callisto drove Lazarus onwards. The horse must be tired. She had ridden most of the day stopping only at midday for rest and food. She massaged the back of her neck tiredly with one hand while leaving the other to grip the reins of the horse. She groaned quietly and Lazarus whinnied with approval.
"Just a bit further." She said patting his neck soothingly. "I want to reach the top of that next hill by nightfall." Lazarus whinnied again.
It took about half an hour to reach the top of the next hill. Callisto groaned loudly as she clambered down from the back of the horse, stretching to try and relieve the cramps in her back. Leaving Lazarus standing where he was she turned and looked down into the valley beneath her. What she saw immediately made her forget how tired she was. The flickering light of a fire lit up the valley eerily in the dim light. The sheer size of the blaze immediately told her that this was no campfire, it looked like a building of some sort was being burned to the ground. Quickly she turned and clambered back onto Lazarus. A vicious kick to the ribs immediately had the horse running at a gallop down the hillside into the valley below.
The building was a farmhouse and had been alight for some time judging by how much the flames had spread. If anyone was in the farmhouse there would be no saving them. If they were lucky they would already be dead. If not they soon would be. Slowly she clambered down from the back of her horse, drawing her sword as she did so. If whoever had done this was still lurking in the shadows then she didn’t want to be caught unawares. She circled the farmhouse twice making sure no one was hiding anywhere near it before she turned and headed for the nearby barn. The building was dark inside, anyone, or anything could be hiding in those shadows. Slowly she moved toward the door that creaked ominously in the biting cold wind that was beginning to rise. Carefully she moved over to the door and pushed lightly against it. There was a loud groan as the door swung inwards. As she walked in Callisto tripped on something that lay on the floor. Dropping on her hands she felt something wet coat her palms. Cursing loudly, she rose to her feet and fumbled by the door to see if there was a lantern. She was in luck. A lantern hung from a peg on the wall while a flint box sat on the shelf beneath it. After fumbling with it in the dark for quite some time she finally managed to get the thing to light. She took a step back at what the light revealed. Dead cattle were strewn about the floor, their blood drenched the boards and indeed Callisto’s own hands. Each had had its head sliced cleanly from its body and these now lined the walls of the barn, disgusting leers carved into their faces like some obscene hunters trophy room. She moved forward through the abattoir of bodies until she reached the far end. The sight of what hung before her eclipsed everything else she had seen so far. Three people, one woman and two children, neither of them older than ten had spikes viciously driven through their hands and feet, attaching them to the wall, feet together and arms spread wide apart. Each had been cut from the groin to the base of the throat and gutted, their insides strewn across the floor. Their eyes had been cut out and deep gashes etched into their foreheads depicted a strange symbol. It resembled a crescent moon. From the looks of agony on their faces what had been done to them had been done while they were still alive. Callisto had seen sights like this before. As was often the case she had usually been the one to commit the act and even though the sight of the three bodies repulsed her she had to admire their killers skill. Whatever tool he had used for the job, he had had exquisite control over it. Their deaths had probably been very slow and extremely painful She felt a sudden wave of guilt. What was she thinking. These people had been brutally butchered and here she was admiring the handy work of there killer. She was appalled with her self. There was a groan from above. Glancing up Callisto caught sight of a man hanging by a piece of rope from the ceiling, his arms bound at the wrist and strung over his head. The three people nailed to the wall must have been his family. She couldn’t let him awaken in this place. It would most likely drive the poor soul out of his mind. Hurriedly she leapt up at the rope and slashed through it with her sword. Dropping to the ground she caught the man in her arms and lifted him so that he was draped over one shoulder. Quickly she turned and hurried from the barn, the stench of fresh blood still strong in her nostrils. Inside her something flared up. Her own bloodlust ignited by the sights and smells of the dead that littered this cursed place. She had to fight hard to keep it under control.
"I’m not that person anymore." She growled savagely to herself. "I’m not like whoever did this." As she reached the doors something above them glittered in the light of the lantern. Slowly she raised the lantern to stare at whatever it was. Scrawled on the wall in blood that was still fresh was a single word. A word she had never heard before. Mortius.
Chapter Two: The Hooded Man
Callisto held the long fragment of plank in the fire until it caught ablaze. Clutching the blazing plank between both hands she turned and held it toward the barn until the wooden planks that formed the buildings walls caught fire. The fire spread quickly thanks to the large dry bundles of hay she had set around the barn so that it would light quicker. After bringing the man outside and laying him on the grass she had gone back into the barn. If these people were to have a respectful funeral she couldn’t leave them hanging from the walls of the barn like stuck pigs. It just wasn’t right. The first thing she had done had been to cut the farmers family down and laid them side by side on a bed of dry hay, arms folded across their chests. A whirlwind tour of the walls of the barn had quickly brought down the heads of the cattle and she had done her best to stack their bodies in a corner. It wasn’t easy moving cattle about with your bear hands. She sung quietly to herself as the fire spread, gradually engulfing the barn until all that could be seen were the flames. She couldn’t remember where she had heard the song, it simply leapt out of her memories and into her mind. She closed her eyes and let the imaginary music take her away to wherever the families souls were going. . Suddenly the man groaned and she turned from watching the flames to walk over to him. Kneeling down she looked him as his eyes focused on her.
"Ilyen!" he cried ecstatically and threw his arms around her neck, hugging her joyfully
"I thought I’d lost you." He wept over her shoulder. Callisto did her best to disentangle herself from his grasp.
"Listen to me." She said, trying to control her temper and stop herself from punching the man
"Listen to me farm boy." She said harshly. The man let go of her and pulled back blinking in a hurt manner. "Whoever Ilyen is, I am not her." The man blinked confusedly several times before his eyes truly acknowledged who she was. His expression collapsed from one of confused joy to one of total misery. Tears of sadness welled up in his eyes.
"I'm sorry," he said apologetically "but for a moment I thought you were my wife."
"Well I'm not." Callisto said simply. The man turned away and his shoulders shook
"Are they dead." He asked, his voice shaking as if he already knew the answer.
"Yes." His shoulders shook even harder.
"I thought it was all a nightmare." He wept "Their screams of pain. Ilyen begging for mercy. The man who did it." Callisto's ears pricked up this
"What man?" She asked, but the farmer just cried even harder
"I didn't even try to stop him." He yelled, enraged with himself.
"What man?" Callisto repeated, louder this time so that the farmer would hear. He turned his tear stained face to her.
"What?" he said shakily
"The man," Callisto said slowly "Who was he." The farmer closed his eyes and shook his head.
"I don't know." He said miserably, "I'd never seen him before and I wish that by Zeus, I had never met him."
"What did he look like?" she pressed.
"He was tall, maybe seven feet high but that was all I could tell. He was wearing a long robe that covered him from head to toe. I couldn't see his face and his body was to well covered for me to make out his build."
"Do you know where he went?" She asked
"The only place near here is a town called Dalzabar to the South East." The mans eyes narrowed suspiciously, "Why do you want to know? Are you a friend of his?" Callisto shook her head
"Then who are you?" she gazed at him levelly
"My name is Callisto." She said. Fear spread across the mans face and he scrambled to his feet, backing away and bringing his hands up in front of him as if to ward off evil. Callisto was confused. In her previous life as a warlord people had often reacted to her in this way, but this was two hundred years before she had even been born. How could anyone fear, or even know her?
"Get away from here." The farmer stammered as he shuffled backwards, never taking his eyes off her.
"What's wrong?" She asked
"The man…. The hooded man mentioned your name." He said, his voice rising to panic stricken tones. "You'll bring him back. Leave now, before he returns looking for you." The man was virtually paralysed by fear. Callisto had had good experience with this sort of thing from interrogation and knew she was going to get nothing more out of him. Her gut reaction was to slit his throat but this was a new life. She was trying to redeem herself and the best way to do that did not include murdering a farmer who was too afraid of her to tell her anything useful. Clambering to her feet Callisto turned and walked over to Lazarus. Quietly she saddled him and left for the town of Dalzabar Her mind was full of questions. Who was this man? Why had he butchered the farmers' family? And most importantly, how, by all the Gods, did he know her name.
Chapter Three: On The Trail Of A Shadow
The walls of Dalzabar loomed out of the late night mist like black twisted mountains, their spires reaching high up toward the stars that dotted the sky. Callisto yawned tiredly. Since leaving the farm she had rode flat out in, sleeping only occasionally in an attempt to catch the killer on the road and hopefully, drag the answers to her questions out of whoever it was. Unfortunately whoever the killer was he had gone on ahead of her like Cerberus himself was behind him. In a town finding the man and the answers to her questions would be much more difficult. A voice echoed out of the darkness above her.
"Halt, who goes there?" It bellowed. Callisto craned her neck up to the ramparts to see shadowy figures scattered along them at irregular intervals. The voice spoke again.
"I said, who goes there?"
"Just a traveller." Callisto replied and yawned again.
"Aye, and a strange looking one. Seems to be a fad to dress weird at the moment." The voice was low but had been carried on the wind. Callisto's brow furrowed.
"What do you mean?" she asked
"Oh, just some guy came through this gate a few days ago. Strange he was, dressed in a black robe and carrying an unusual weapon. A long staff with blades at either end." The brief description did seem to match the description the farmer had given her of his families' murderer. Well, at least she knew he was here.
"Open the gates and let me in. I only want a decent nights rest in an inn." She shouted. Above her one of the figures moved and she could hear muffled voices. Eventually there was loud wooden groan as the towns huge gates swung slowly open. Casually she eased Lazarus forward at a canter through the stone archway. Once through she dismounted as the gates swung shut behind her with a loud bang.
The nightlife of Dalzabar was just like any other town she had ever visited. Eerily quiet streets and houses that stood silent and unmoving in the darkness. The only signs of life were the inns themselves. From the windows of each one bright light sprang forth and inside Callisto could hear the rowdy drunks singing and stamping their feet upon the wooden floor. Most of the them were disgusting places that would have made an outhouse look like a the Hilton but one did seem a little more reputable than the others. Dragging a tired Lazarus by the reigns toward the inn she stopped and glanced up at the sign that hung above the door.
"The Lucky Soldiers." She read aloud and turned to the black mare that snorted behind her. "We could do with a bit of luck, eh Lazarus?" The horse whinnied softly. Leaving a few Dinars with the stable boy to take special care of the proud mare, Callisto entered the inn. It was a loud place full of aforementioned drunks who were currently being held spellbound by a young female bard who was stood on a make shift stage telling a story. Callisto doubted it was the story that was keeping the drunks quiet but more the very short skirt the bard was wearing. Virtually every man sat nearest her had his neck twisted at an angle Callisto had never thought possible, and a filthy leer etched into his features as he tried in vain to see up the girls skirt. Callisto moved to a dark corner of the room and sat down at a table by herself. Ordering a tankard of ale from the serving girl who came to her, she leaned back and began to listen to the young bards story. She had never taken time out in the past to actually listen to a bard and now that she was, Callisto found it oddly satisfying. Sat here among this noisy, foul smelling bunch of oafs she felt strangely at peace, her mind free to wander and explore her thoughts and feelings. So engrossed was she in her own mind that she barely noticed when the serving girl brought her, her ale. She didn't even notice when one of the hairy palmed brutes slumped into the chair next to her and began drawl drunkardly in her ear. She didn't even acknowledged it when he placed his huge joint of a hand on her thigh. The reaction of breaking his thumb was a simple reflex. She was however, jolted out of her daydreaming by a young man barging into the building and shouting something about another murder over at the granary.
The streets were filled with worried throngs of people as Callisto emerged from the inn, the peaceful night shattered by the hideous event. Seeing a group of men heading through the streets clutching torches, Callisto decided to follow them, rightly assuming they were on the way to the granary and the sight of the murder. As she approached the marching mob she tapped one of them on the shoulder.
"When was the last murder?" she asked curiously. The man turned his head to face her.
"Two nights ago. A watchman coming off duty found a trail of blood leading to the stables behind an inn. The poor guy had been gutted like a fish and his innards arranged into a kind of shape."
"What did the shape look like?" asked Callisto, a cold dread sweeping over her as the man lifted his hand and drew the image in the air with his index finger. She held back a shiver as he traced the familiar crescent moon emblem.
"The creepy thing was that from the look on the guys face he must have been alive while it happened."
"So?" said Callisto not cottoning on.
"No one heard anything, and there were a whole bunch of guys just ten feet away at the inn!" Suddenly she understood what the man was getting at. How could a man be gutted alive and not scream? It just didn't make sense.
The door to the granary swung open and the group of men, ten strong crowded in followed by Callisto. The light from ten torches lit up the granary, the mountains of cogs, gears and axles cast flickering shadows that made it look as if an army of wraiths surrounded them. There was no sign of the body other than a few drops of blood that stained the hay-covered floor. Then they looked up into the rafters. Some gasped, some cursed, others ran outside to vomit in privacy, Callisto simply stared at the gruesome sight with grim fascination. The man had been dissected, each and every major organ had been extracted and arranged so that the image above looked like some life-size exploded diagram of the human body. Painted on the very planks that made the roof was a huge eight foot long version of the crescent moon symbol painted using pints of the mans blood. It glittered in the firelight like a evil jewel. Callisto suddenly realised she was the only one left in the building. Turning she strode out of the barn and into the cool night air. The men were making plans as to how to get the body down without dishonouring the dead. She decided to head back to the inn, there was little she could do here and she doubted that whoever had done this was still nearby. As she walked out into the street she took in a deep breath and stretched tiredly. Suddenly she froze. Had she just seen something move in shadows of that nearby alleyway? Cautiously she drew her sword and crept toward the alley. Between the two houses everything was a dark and deathly hush. Even the moonlight had no dominion here. The alley appeared to be empty but she could have sworn she had seen something move in here. Slowly her eyes travelled from the wall of one house to the other then back again. There was a loud clatter as a rat scurried out from under a pile of garbage dumped there by the occupants of one of the houses. Callisto sighed in a relieved manner. Under the circumstances it was always going to be an anticlimax she thought as she turned away and began to sheath her sword.
"Callisto." She whirled around to face the back of the alley again, sword back in hand. The voice had been little more than a faint whisper but she had heard it, and it had definitely spoken her name. Callisto felt an icy chill grip the bottom of her spine. Something of incredible evil was happening here and she was suddenly very afraid. It took a lot to frighten Callisto but something was managing it and if it could do that then she didn't want to meet it. Slowly she began to back out of the alley her sword remaining drawn and poised to strike at anything that moved. When she was clear of the black alley she turned on her heals and ran. She ran like she had never ran before, as if a great wall of darkness were rushing behind her and she was running to keep from being sucked into its dark void. She didn't stop until she had reached her inn.
Chapter Four: The Darkness Beckons
Callisto tossed and turned on the straw bed, trying desperately to get to sleep. Her eyelids were heavy and her body was crying out for rest but her mind refused to become drowsy. Eventually she gave up sleep as a bad idea and clambered from the bed. Quietly she padded barefoot over to the window of her room through which slivers of pale moonlight were shining and stared out into the street below. The panic and fear that had gripped the town for the day following the murder had begun to die down and things were starting to return to normal in Dalzabar. Everything except for the fact that the killer still had not been caught. Callisto just couldn't relax. Not until the sick mind behind all this had been caught and her questions had been answered. Beneath her she could still hear the muffled voices of drunks in the common room of the inn. Slipping into her leathers and sheathing the sword that had been forged especially for her, Callisto opened the door to her room and decided to try and drink herself to sleep.
The common room was as rowdy as ever with the usual motley collection of drunks and even more drunks shouting and singing filthy songs involving them, several beautiful women and a large barrel of ale. Callisto smiled at the various songs. As a warlord she had often had to listen to far worse from the soldiers under her command. Sitting down at the same table she had sat at the night before and ordering a mug of ale from the serving girl she sat back and rested her boots on the table. Her large brown eyes travelled the room, always alert and on the look out for danger. Eventually they came to rest upon a familiar looking figure. He sat at the other end of the room dressed in a long black cloak that hid his face and body. Even though he was sitting down Callisto could see that he was tall. Perhaps seven foot. Her eyes widened as she remembered the farmers description.
"He was tall, maybe seven feet high but that was all I could tell. He was wearing a long robe that covered him from head to toe. I couldn't see his face and his body was to well covered for me to make out his build." Was what he had said. The man sat on the other side of the common room fit his description perfectly. She watched intently, never taking her eyes of the hooded figure that sat hunched over a table. Slowly his head lifted and turned to stare straight at her. Callisto shuddered at the dark void where she should have been able to see his face. He stood without a sound and began to move away through the common room, his long robe never fluttered even when two drunks fell beside him with a crash. He was headed for the door. Quickly Callisto leapt to her feet and ran forward vaulting tables and chairs knocking mugs of ale and drunks flying as she dashed across the room. The door began to swing shut just behind the man as she reached it and yanked it open. She stumbled out into the street, drawing her sword as she went. The robed man was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly the street was plunged into darkness as a cloud moved across the moon blocking out its light. Her eyes scanned the street once more desperately searching for any trace of the man. Then she saw him. He stood at the far end of the street, tall and dark watching her intently. A long, pale, muscular arm appeared from inside the folds of his robe and beckoned silently for her to follow. Clutching her sword tightly she moved slowly to the end of the street. As she approached the tall man disappeared around the corner. Not wanting to lose sight of him, Callisto broke into a jog. Rounding the corner she saw the man already half way down the next street and making for yet another corner. She followed him halfway across the town until eventually she found herself standing at a dead-end. The only possible way the robed man could have gone was through the door in front of her and into the deserted town hall. Taking a deep breath, Callisto headed for the door and prepared to meet the hooded murderer.
Chapter Five: The Abode Of Evil
Callisto tiptoed silently through the pitch-blackness of the town hall. It was so dark in here that she couldn't even see her sword, which she held before her. What she wouldn't give for a torch, or a lantern, or anything that might bring a little more light into this cursed place. She cursed loudly as her knee slammed against the corner of a solid oak table that had been hidden in the darkness, then kicked herself mentally for giving away her position. Suddenly she whirled around, her eyes desperately searching the impenetrable dark. Had she heard a noise? Or was it just her imagination? If only she could see something.
"Let me guess," the voice seemed to come from all around her. "You wish you had some light. Well, no sooner thought than done." A pale blue glow lit up the centre of the room where Callisto stood. Slowly she turned in a wide arc looking for the source of light. She soon found it. The familiar crescent moon symbol glowed eerily on the floor beneath her feet. Was it some kind of magic? Or just blue stained glass with torch light shining through it? She couldn't tell. Callisto looked up and let her eyes scan the shadows that still gathered at the edge of the light.
"Who are you?" she shouted at the darkness. Mocking laughter floated over to where she stood.
"Ah, the age old question. Who am I?" The tone changed from one of amusement to one of mocking cruelty. "I know who you are Callisto, where you are from and what you have done."
"That doesn't answer my question." Callisto said, trying her best not to be caught off guard by the voice.
"You already know my name." The voice replied. "So why do you ask?" Suddenly Callisto twigged.
"You're Mortius aren't you?" she said.
"Then I have another question." Callisto said, stalling while she desperately tried to work out where he was "Why did you murder these people if you only wanted me?"
"To get your attention and lure you here." The voice replied. "And don't think you can find me by making me talk, you see." Suddenly the voice was coming from behind, then to the right of her "I'm all around you." He finished. Callisto felt anger brimming up inside her.
"Stop skulking in the shadows and come out to fight like a man!" she yelled as loudly she could. That familiar mocking laughter drifted into her ears.
"I'm not a man Callisto." The darkness in one corner rippled with a life of its own, then drew back to reveal the black robed man. "I'm a shadow." He said coldly.
The tall robed figure circled around her just on the edge of the soft blue light. Although she couldn't see his face Callisto could feel the dark warriors gaze on her. Suddenly he rushed at her without a sound. As he ran a bright red flash emanated from his left hand and Mortius was carrying a long halberd, the blood red blades glowing like the fires of Tartarus. He swung the weapon up into a position to strike as he ran. Callisto dodged aside but Mortius easily adjusted, swinging the halberds lower blade round toward her spine. Callisto clutched her sword in both hands and thrust it backwards over her head only just managing to parry the blow as it crashed toward her. Quickly she spun to face him just in time to see his right harm let go of the halberd in swing at her in a vicious backhand. The blow hit home and the strength behind it was beyond that of a mere mortal. Callisto should know, she'd fought a few immortals in her time. The impact lifted her clean off her feet and sent her flying back a good fifteen feet before she crashed down onto the town halls main oak table, smashing it in two like it was nothing more than a twig. Callisto groaned and heaved herself to her feet, shaking her head to get rid of the tiny cupids that danced in front of her eyes.
"Okay," she said "Now you've made me mad. I'm afraid I'm going to have to hurt you." Mortius simply hefted his halberd and moved closer. The two edged nearer to one another, each one eyeing the other cautiously for any opening. Callisto was first as she lapsed momentarily to shift her sword grip. The halberd flew toward her head forcing Callisto to dive and roll away from it. Bouncing up onto her feet she whirled around and just managed to block a blow from the halberd and followed up with a swipe at Mortius' midriff. The battle continued like this for quite a while as attack gave way to defence and each blow lead to a counter blow. After half an hour of non-stop fighting sweat was pouring down Callisto's body and her arms ached fiercely. Mortius showed no signs of exhaustion however and if her guess was right he never would. Being an immortal certainly had its perks.
"You're good." Said Mortius coolly. "But you're not good enough." As if to prove his point, a vicious downward swipe sent her sword skating across the stone floor tiles. Callisto leapt aside to try and avoid the blade that has hurtling toward her skull. It caught her across the forearm leaving a deep gash.
"I wonder how much more blood I can wring out of you?" He said in a voice like iron. His foot lashed up and smashed into her chest sending her flying across the hall once more only this time there was no table to break her fall. She hit the wall with a tremendous thud and slid to the floor. Her senses reeled from the impact as she managed to clamber up onto her hands and knees. She coughed and blood splattered from her mouth to the floor. Mortius strode over to her side and delivered a savage kick to her ribs. As she flipped over onto her back Callisto opened her eyes and managed to see something through the haze that clouded her vision that shocked her to the very core. The shadows around the edges of the room were moving. They fell upon her, grabbing her arms and legs and lifting her into the air, holding her in a similar fashion to those people at the farm, arms spread wide and legs pinned together at the ankles. Mortius walked up to where she floated and lifted the halberd up so that its blade hovered a foot or so above her heart.
"I'll see you in Tartarus Callisto." He said icily. She closed her eyes and waited.
The blow never came. Slowly she opened one eye, then the other. Mortius stood with an intent expression on his face, the halberd no held at his side.
"But master the warrior wom…." He stopped mid sentence and appeared to be listening to something. Suddenly he dropped to one knee, the halberd laid at his side.
"Yes master." He said obediently. He stood up again, turned on his heel and began to walk away.
"Zeus is with you this day Callisto." He said as the shadows rippled and swallowed him. Suddenly Callisto felt the strong arms of darkness that held her disappear and drop her onto the floor. Her head thudded against the tiles and everything was darkness.
Epilogue: Unanswered Questions
Callisto wandered into the stables around the back of the inn plucking idly at bandages that were wrapped around her midriff and arms. It had been two days since she had woken up in the town hall to the sounds of birds coming out to sing just in the early hours of sunlight. Being found lying in the wreckage of the town halls interior covered in blood from her wounds would have raised unwanted questions from the local authorities so she had made the decision to return to the inn as quickly as possible. She had spent the time resting and tending to her wounds. Most of them were just cuts and bruises, nothing that wouldn't heal with time but the blow to her arm worried her a little more. It had been deeper than she first thought and despite the fact that it was already beginning to close her arm seemed to have developed an unusual twitch that occurred when she tried to hold it steady for long periods of time. It wouldn't have been so bad if the blow had been to her left arm but it wasn't. The halberd had sliced her right arm, her sword arm. Still, there was nothing she could do about it now, it was just something she would have to learn to deal with. After saddling up Lazarus she led him out into the crowded streets by the reigns. It was time to be moving on.
Mortius watched the warrior in the pool before his masters altar. He couldn't believe the master had called him away over such a minor issue. The woman had been at his mercy, he could have dealt his masters enemies a vital blow by breaking their little tool. But the master had called him away and now the opening had been missed. Her disorientation at being in this new place and time as a mere mortal once again was quickly passing and every day she grew more accustomed to her surroundings. Another opening would come and until that time he would just have to be patient.
"Mortius!" the soft voice spoke. He raised his head and stared at the broken obelisk where the black beam pulsed almost as if it had a life of its own
"Yes my master." He said slowly. The beam brightened slightly, an indication that his masters mood was on the up. "The time approaches and the Strength and Faith awaken. Go to them and inform them of the situation." Mortius heard and understood his masters instructions but all the time his mind was on Callisto. His master now had other plans for her. He considered her to be a possible asset if her strength could be harnessed. Mortius saw only a threat that should be destroyed before it grew to become unstoppable. He would make sure that when the time came that was how his master saw her as well.
Callisto drove Lazarus forward along the dirt track at a slow trot. It was a beautiful sunny day but it could have been raining centaurs and gorgons and she wouldn't have noticed. Her head was buzzing with unanswered questions. Her entire reason to find Mortius hadn't been a quest for revenge over his victims. It had been one of curiosity as to who he was, what he wanted and how he knew her name. Of all these questions only one had been answered. Who he was remained a mystery and how he knew her name and who she was remained shrouded in darkness. All she knew was what he wanted. Mortius wanted her dead.
The Legacies Will Continue In The Shadow Riders
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