“Take one step onto our isle and it will be the last thing you ever do.” Hippolyte yelled in warning. The men stopped rowing. The messenger stood in the gently bobbing boat and called back “Queen Hippolyte! I bring a message from Lord Laertes. He says that the year he gave you to consider his marriage proposal is spent. I am to return with your answer. Will you have his hand, or will you choose to suffer the consequences of refusing him?”
“Wasn’t the disappearance of his last messenger answer enough? Pride ill fits a man. Laertes wants the prowess of being the first man to wed an Amazon, and the Queen no less. Does he also hope to gain our fealty in the process?” Hippolyte muttered to her companions.
“The king also asked me to remind you that we will release a beast as fierce as the chimera on you if you choose to reject him.”
“I have a better answer, Herald.” Hippolyte called back. She pulled out her sword and tilted her arm back. She flung the sword at the Herald. It flipped through the air in a hypnotizing arch and severed the Herald’s arm before he had the sense to move. He screamed piercingly and collapsed backward into the water writhing about. Lyka and the two Amazons beside her used the time while the men were distracted by Hippolyte’s sword to rush to boat and silt the throats of the five guards that accompanied the Herald.
Hippolyte waded out into the blood tinted water and caught hold of the remaining man. She pulled his face close to her and hissed, “I believe Laertes is not lying about sending a beast to plague us. He may be loathsome, but he is no idiot. He wouldn’t call such a dangerous bluff. My spies have informed me that the people of Athens, at least, believe that Laertes does indeed have a mighty monster with claws that drip venom. But he made the mistake of taking his sweet time waiting for my reply. All the while we have been preparing for battle. Let him send his beast. We will feast on its flesh before coming for his head.”