n the early afternoon of the following day, before the blazing triple Lethorian suns began their scorching journey across the azure sky, a small group of males were herded into place in the nearly deserted Arena. There were perhaps twenty women standing in a circle facing the eight males. Over in the exercise area was a group of athletes, busy at their individual practices or just chatting with one another.

The males were a sorry-looking group, except for one tall young slave who stood in the center of the tight-packed bunch. He was standing quietly, his shaggy blonde head lowered and his hooded eyes looking at the ground. One of his legs bore a terrible gash that was crusted over with congealed blood. It was obvious that he had taken a sword slash. His face was purpled along one side, as if he'd been kicked in the head. This was a slave-male who had not been taken captive easily, that much was certain!

The spectator benches were fairly empty, except for thirty or forty Amazons who sat right on the front row, most leaning over the lip of the retaining wall and talking to the athletes down below in the Arena. The athletes and spectators kept glancing over at the circle of women surrounding the captives. A Mate Testing was going to take place, and the number of spectators present for the event suggested the importance of the Coming Out Ritual being held for the young Amazon whose Test this was.

"Not much of a choice today," groused one of the onlookers. "If it was me, I'd have waited for the next raid."

"I heard that this bunch is what was left of the crew of the Northern Longboat that was captured last week," replied another of the spectators. "As usual, the Longboat crew put up quite a fight, and these males were all that was left alive."

"They say that the big one in the middle was the Captain, and that the raiding party had originally left him for dead," said another Amazon. "He regained consciousness, played dead for a while, and then attacked the clean-up detail as they were gathering weapons. Killed five of our Sisters with his bare hands before one of the Warriors sword-clubbed him down from behind."

"So how come they didn't just put him to death right then?" questioned the first woman.

"They thought they had, but he was a tough one," the other replied. "Turns out that most of the blood the Warriors thought had come from his head wound actually came from his leg, not the sword stroke that was supposed to have dispatched him. Either he had an awfully hard head, or the blade struck flat. But in any case he went down like a polled ox and then revived a few minutes later. With that kind of male spirit, the Warriors figured he had good breeding-stock potential and brought him back for Selection."

Out in the Arena, the small group of Amazons who seemed to be inspecting the captives included Merthia and her daughter Litha. Litha seemed calm and collected, but her mother appeared nervous.

"I'm not at all happy with what's available here," Merthia said quietly to her daughter. "Maybe we should wait another week or so. There's supposed to be another raid coming up, with the chance of better prospects."

Litha was staring at the tall Longboat Captain, her eyes slowly checking him out like she would a prize bull she intended to purchase.

"No, Mother," Litha murmered. "I think I've found just what I was looking for. What do you think of the big one in the middle?"

Merthia's cool grey eyes looked the male up and down in a slow appraisal. She smiled to herself as she found herself looking first at the big male's butt, then his arms, his legs and only then at his face. It was her own preferential order. She loved a good tight butt on a male ... showed his pelvic action potential, and thus his sexual prowess, or so she had always believed. And this male had a great butt.

Litha, on the other hand, was looking intently at the male's eyes. There was something there, just out of reach, something that made the young woman shiver with excitement. Perhaps it was that glint of cruelty, that glitter of savagery in those deep black eyes of the captive which drew Litha's attention. He was, after all, a warrior from the Northlands, not some weak-kneed male taken in a raid from a nearby village.

"So that's the one you want," mused Merthia as her eyes examined the big male capative more closely. "He's obviously injured, but do you think that you can handle him?"

Litha smiled at her mother's concern, and started to reply. But then, suddenly, there was a commotion at the far end of the Arena and Litha's heart sank. It was the Queen!

Surrounded by her ever-present personal guard, Queen Ka'Li had swept into the Arena and was striding straight toward the group of male captives.

Easily the tallest woman there, the Queen seemed to project an aura of power that was almost overwhelming. As she reached the huddled captives, the Queen made a quick motion with one hand. Immediately an Amazon guard moved forward and began beating the males aside with a short-handled bull whip.

A moment later the guard had reached the big Northlander. She raised her arm, intending to give him a taste of the whip, but the tall young male suddenly reached out with one hand like a striking snake to grab the Amazon's wrist.

For a few seconds their two arms strained, the muscles in the Amazon's upraised arm quivering and flexing while his bunched and coiled. They stood like a pair of statues, as if their rippling limbs were carved out of marble, while each tested the other's strength. But then, with a sudden twist, the male had the whip.

There was utter silence in the Arena, no one moved so much as a finger. Then a voice cut through the tension like a knifeblade.

"Hold! Put down that whip, NOW!" the Queen's voice lashed out. It was a tone of voice that demanded compliance.

The big ship's captain moved his head in an almost lazy gesture to look at the woman who had spoken. Despite being clad in an ankle-length cape, the flash of revealed limbs showed the imperiously tall woman to possess a superb muscularity. His blazing eyes looked her up and down, and then a tight mirthless smile played at his lips.

"Come take it from me, woman," he spat out. The way he spoke the word 'woman' was as if it tasted bad. There was not a hint of fear in his eyes as he continued to watch the Queen padding across the sand-strewn Arena toward him.

The Queen's guards moved as one, hurrying to put themselves between the captive male and their Queen. The guard, who had been tossed carelessly aside by the male as he wrenched away her whip, was now getting back to her feet with rage in her eye. But the Queen motioned her and the other guards back, and kept walking toward the big male captive with an expression of interest on her strernly beautiful face. Finally, with only a few feet between them, the Queen reached up and undid the clasp of her cape and let the garment slip from her sinewy shoulders. She was stripped down to leopard-fur briefs, bare to the waist and ready for action.

She was simply magnificent! Even the big captive's eyes blinked in admiration at what has now revealed to his gaze. Standing there in arrogant ease, hands on hips and legs widespread, it was easy to see that the woman stood almost eye-to-eye with the young male, well over six feet, with a physique that was no less muscular than the male's. It was just that her sinews were sculptured much more smoothly than his, and not as massively clefted and straiated.

"Well, Northlander," murmered the Queen. "It would seem that no one has ever taught you how to conduct yourself around Women. I think that it will be amusing to teach you those lessons."

Then the tall, beautiful Amazon Queen looked slowly around the Arena. Her eyes finally found Merthia and Litha, and a cold smile creased the Queen's thin lips. Then, as if speaking more to the two women than to the captive, she began to speak in a loud voice that carried across the Arena.

"I select you to be Mate Tested as my slave-male" said the Queen, as her glance came back to rest on the Northern sea captain. She was instantly aware from his puzzled frown that the male had no idea what the Queen was talking about.

"You were brought here to the Arena to be selected by one of my subjects as her personal slave-male. It is the right of each young Amazon to take a mate, when she feels that she is ready and able to do so. But according to our Law, she must be able to take her male by force ... to wrestle him into submission. It is what we Amazon's call Sexual Combat."

Then the Queen turned to look at Merthia and Litha. "However," continued the Queen, "There is also a provision in our Law that allows the Queen to claim any male selected for Mate Testing for her own, which is what I'm doing right now," she ended with a cold smile.

"That's not quite the way the Law reads," came Merthia's voice as she stepped forward. The Queen's eyes widened, and then the smile grew even frostier. The shock of being contradicted was evident on her handsome face.

"The Law says, my Queen, that you can claim any selected male slave or new captive IF the Amazon who is Coming Out relinquishes her right to him. Otherwise, you must first prove your worthiness by becoming the Amazon's Arena Tester," Merthia continued.

The Queen shrugged her broad shoulders and gave Merthia a grunt of irritation. "Alright, then I'll serve as Tester," she replied.

"Well my Queen," said Merthia smoothly and quietly,"there's only one problem. Litha has already been Tested, and prevailed. If you now challange her to another Testing you will be placing your own crown on the line as prize of victory. Do you really wish to do that?"

A look of intense fury swept across the Queens features and her eyes blazed at Merthia. Then, slowly, another emotion crept slowly into being, that of suspicion.

She had already received reports about Merthia's daughter having secretly been given the Qwatzil drug, and how it had reportedly effected her in terms of hugely increased strength. What if this girl were to somehow defeat her, mused the Queen to herself. She was certainly not interested in putting herself to such a test if there was even the slightest danger of losing. And as she let her gaze slide over Litha's superbly muscled young body, the Queen realized that she might very well have made a serious error in judgement.

"Why was I not advised of Litha's Arena Test," grumbled the Queen, as she searched for a way out of this corner she'd backed herself into.

"It was conducted privately, my Queen," replied Merthia. "Sevia authorized the Testing for yesterday afternoon out in the woods."

"What do you mean by 'private'," snarled the Queen. "Tests are not private, they are to be held in the Arena for all to see."

"A Senior Elder Warrior has always had the privilege of scheduling a Field Test, so long as the Tester was from the active Arena cadre and all rules of combat are followed," Merthia said to the Queen with a bright smile. "In fact, My Queen, didn't your own Testing take place in the field? And wasn't it Sevia that gave permission for you to be Tested and Come Out on the same day you were to be Crowned?"

The Queen shot Merthia a glance that was venom-filled, and reached down to pick up her discarded cape. She abruptly slipped the garment over her powerful shoulders and jerked it across her widely spaced melon-solid breasts.

"It would do you good to remember that the Crown does indeed sit on my head," growled the Queen.

Merthia caught the implied threat, but said nothing in return. She was thoroughly enjoying the Queen's discomfort and saw no reason to let her off the hook, but she was wise enough to know when to take her winnings and not throw the dice again. It was time to stop this potentially dangerous game she was playing with the Queen.

"Ka'li, my daughter and I are your loyal subjects. If we have somehow offended you, then please accept our humble apologies," Merthia murmered with a bowed head. She hoped that the Queen did not notice the half-smile that hovered around Litha's lips, as the girl listened to the verbal exchange that was taking place between Merthia and the towering Queen .

For a second or two Ka'li stared at Merthia, as if she was trying to find any disrespect in the Elder Warriors grey eyes.

"Very well, I'll accept your apology, Merthia," drawled the Queen. "But I'm not at all happy about the way in which your daughter has achieved her Coming Out. And if she isn't able to prevail, then I do have the right to claim the Northern captive for my own. He is the one she will choose, isn't he?"

Litha took a step forward and nodded quickly. "Yes, My Queen, he is the one that I claim."

The big woman once again slid her eyes over the girl's splendidly developed body. She took in the the strong columnar neck that flowed into smooth shoulders, saw the way the girl's deltoid caps bunched with strength, noticed how the curve of her sculptured biceps showed, then let her eyes travel down to inspect the flatness of Litha's sinew-laced belly. But it was the expanse of curvacious flesh situated between the girl's belly and her shoulders that demanded most of the Queen's attention. It was Litha's heavy, solidly curved, taut-nippled breasts that made Ka'li give a barely smothered hiss of excitement. Her eyes began to glaze with lust as the Queen surveyed those glorious tits.

Merthia, aware of the Queen's perusal of her daughter's evident physical charms, began to worry. She knew Ka'li well, and she knew the Queen's lusty predilection for Amazon-lovers with perfect tits and beautifully sculpted muscularity. There was a voyeuristic side of Ka'li that Merthia was aware of, and had often used to her own advantage. Merthia also realized that if she didn't distract Ka'li from her present attraction to Litha's splendidly muscled body and alluring breasts, there would be the danger of the Queen deciding to wrestle her daughter for the captive after all.

What Merthia knew, and what very few others remembered, was that a seldom used section off the Law stated that if an Amazon Queen did challange a previously Tested warrior and won, then that warrior became the Queen's sexual slave-maiden for a period of one month. And Merthia was very much aware that Ka'li was now more interested in Litha than the Northland captive. The Queen's lusty libido was always more directed toward women than men, and Ka'li would like nothing more than to strain in a hardlocked, nude-muscled, sweat-slippery wrestle with Merthia's daughter ... if for no other reason than to out-wrestle Litha to win the girl as her sex slave. Merthia knew that she would have to do something to distract the Queen of the Amazons from her daughter, and do it quickly!

"My Queen, while I have your ear" murmered Merthia in a quiet voice. "There has been a breach of discipline that you should be told about, a problem that involves that young athlete standing right over there," Merthia continued as she pointed toward the group of Amazons exercising at one end of the Arena. The athlete she was pointing at was none other than Mithgad!

Ka'li looked over her shoulder with a disinterested glance. Then she saw Mithgad standing there among the athletes, and here eyes widened with interest.

Ahh-hhh, now THERE was a set of tits, thought the Queen Ka'li to herself. And there was even more; the tall young athlete was one of the most massively muscled Amazons that Ka'li had ever seen. The Queen remembered seeing this athlete before in the Arena, and had heard some tales about the woman's strength and ferocity as a fist-fighter. She'd also heard that the young athlete was far too muscle-bound to be a good wrestler. But Ka'li wasn't interested in quick moves and speedily applied holds when she wrestled. What the Queen loved was straining in tight-locked, limb-entwined holds for long minutes at a time, where she and her opponent could fit their sweat-soaked bodies together and squeeze one another into hissing sexual submission. And fortunately, Merthia had realized that the big young Amazon athlete could provide the lusty Queen with just such an experience ... if only she could get the two of them to take on one another in a wrestle.

A look of hot, smoldering lust began to creep across the Queen's beautiful features as she looked the athlete up and down. In a flash, Ka'li saw how she could extricate herself from this quite dangerous confrontation with Merthia and her bitch-daughter Litha, and have herself some pleasure at the same time.

"What has she done," Ka'li inquired in a suedo-disinterested tone of voice.

"Mithgad challanged Sevia yesterday, my Queen."

"I thought that Sevia had retired from active Testings," replied Ka'li as her eyes continued to slide up and down the big athlete's sweat-glistening body.

"She has, but this wasn't an Arena challange. It was a private spat that occurred just outside Sevia's chambers," Merthia said. It supposedly had to do with Mithgad being attracted to Luden, Sevia's slave-mate, and deciding to fight her for the male."

Ka'li jerked her head around so that her attention was completely focused on Merthia. "Do you mean to say that Mithgad actually made a formal challange to Sevia?"

"Not exactly, my Queen. It was a very impromptu thing, out in the corridor at Sevia's doorway. Mithgad laid her hand on Luden, and Sevia demanded that Mithgad release him. When she didn't, Sevia wrenched the girl's hand away and then the two of them were about to go at it when I arrived to break it up."

"Well, doesn't seem to me that any harm was done," said Ka'li with a shrug of indifference.

"That's not the point, my Queen," murmered Merthia quietly. "Sevia is a Senior Elder Warrior, a retired Battle-Leader, and as such is beyond Challage by any Amazon. This arrogant young savage dared to lay hands on a Sister who is one of your most loyal and faithful subjects, and who enjoys the special protection of the Queen. This is punishable, but only by the Queen of Amazons herself," Merthia said with special emphasis on the last part of her sentence.

Ka'li cocked her head for a second, as if giving thought to what she'd just heard. Actually, a plan of action had already formed in the Queen's mind when Merthia had first mentioned that there was a discipline problem, and that it had to do with Mithgad. Ka'li knew that she needed a reason not to go through with her challange of Merthia's daughter, and here was her answer.

"Well, of course she must be punished," drawled Ka'li. "And I'll take care of that personally. However, like your daughter's own private Testing, I think that I'll discipline Mithgad privately, too. The Law also allows for that," the Queen said in a sarcastic tone to Merthia.

Ka'li then turned to her Guard Captain and spoke quietly for a moment or two. A second later, the Queen swept from the Arena with her entourage in tow ... except for two members of her Royal Guard who were fast approaching Mithgad.

Merthia gave a long sigh of relief as she watched the Queen leave the arena. That had been close, she mused to herself, too close! Then, with a smile forming on her lips, she turned to her daughter who stood quietly at her side.

"Alright, Litha. Now let's get back to your Mate-Test. If the big Northlander is who you have chosen, then let's see if you are woman enough to take him."

Litha flashed her mother a radiant smile, and walked slowly toward the group of captives. The tall, young, beautiful girl was about to become an Amazon Woman.