Chapter 6: Suffering Sappho!
As she sat on the shoreline, feeling the sun against her skin and watching the waves roll in endlessly, she couldn't help but feel at peace. This place was the definition of soothing.
She supposed that the theoretical residents would need that, to put up with all the goddamn stairs.
Craning her head away from the hypnotizing tide, Juri Han turned to look once again inland. This island -- or perhaps more accurately, set of islands -- was a spectacle all of its own. Whatever force shot this land up above sealine must have been anything but gentle, resulting in jagged peaks and sheer cliffs as far as the eye could see. There were some areas made manageable by determined hands, carving out and flattening down the landscape for pathways and cities, but they were still surrounded by rock as soon as the first step out of their boundaries.
Well, no, that was a bit disingenuous. There was plenty of rock inside the cities as well. One could argue even moreso, in fact. Whoever had colonized this home away from home were apparently big fans of the Greeks; most notably their love for marble. Every structure was made pretty much entirely from that brilliant stone, to the point that all the fancy columns and expertly sculpted statues of dead heroes eventually just turned into a blur. It was a masterwork of craftsmanship and artistry... but good luck finding a comfortable place to sit.
Sighing and rising to her feet, Juri Han set sights again on her ultimate destination. On the furthest mountain (of course), at the tip of it's highest peak (of course), with only a winding, unkempt trail littered with crumbling marble stairs (yep), was a small structure. Juri could not make out what it was from so far away, but she could see the billows of smoke rising up from it.
Where there's smoke there's fire. And where there's fire, in this colony of the least flammable buildings in existence at least, there must be someone there to tend to it.
After a quick series of stretches to get her legs ready for the trip, Juri set out to meet her new... friend.
After an entirely-too-long trek, Juri found herself at the foot of the mystery building. Apparently it was a shrine. Or, like, part of one. Either by design or just simple weathering, the structure currently standing could be best described as half of a marble dome. Held aloft by pillars of the same material, it provided a small amount of shelter for three statues and several decorative wall torches. Crouched in front of the largest, centermost statue was a person, with only her curly black hair unobscured by her cloak. There were no points for guessing what she was doing.
"Praying already?" Juri asked, stopping a few feet from her new plaything. "That usually doesn't happen for a good ten more minutes or so."
Nonplussed, and without a hint of motion, the figure replied back.
"You are privileged to set foot on such sacred ground."
Rising to full height, but still with her back to Juri, the figure gestured upwards to the statue before them. It was an enormous replica of a woman, her attire a unique blend of delicate silks draped over impressive looking armor. The statue itself was kneeling -- the only thing allowing it to fit inside the structure at all -- and its hands were put forth on top of each other palms-up as if presenting an unseen gift.
"This is Athena, goddess of wisdom and patron of the Amazons."
Moving her hand to the left, the cloaked figure now pointed to a second statue. This one was much smaller -- only slightly too large to pass as a human proper -- but this did little to diminish its stature. Clad entirely in well-worn armory, a female warrior glared from the eyeholes in its helmet as it was apparently frozen in the middle of hefting a battleaxe .
"This is Antiope, second born and first exiled of the Amazons."
Pausing only a moment to shuffle an unseen object between hands, the hooded figure brought her right hand up to point at the final statue. It was roughly the same size as the previous, this one being of a woman dressed in a flowing robe. It was much more unassuming than either of the others, merely standing there demurely with its hands clasped in front of it, but nonetheless had a warm and caring air.
"This is Hippolyta, first born and ruler of the Amazons."
Finally turning to face Juri, the figure allowed her cloak to slide off her shoulders and drift to the floor.
The woman's frame was slender but well toned, one of a person not adverse to hard work. Her red, white and blue attire was rather odd given the circumstances -- clearly an imported design from a very obvious source rather than naturally born from the culture around it -- but managed to avoid a total clash with skillful use of gold trim. The only other metal she wore was a similarly golden tiara and a pair of silvery gauntlets; their basic design blurring the line visually between armor and shackles. Attached to her waist was a looped rope; Juri had almost counted it as golden as well, but the bizarre way in which it glowed hinted at it being of something far less mundane than mere ore. But despite all this Juri's gaze couldn't help but be drawn to the woman's face; her red, pursed lips and chilling blue eyes making her determined gaze almost hypnotic in intensity.
"I am Princess Diana; daughter of Queen Hippolyta, chosen of Athena, and Themysciran emissary."
Diana shifted her stance to bring up the object she had been holding earlier, now revealed as a immaculately polished xiphos, and pointed the blade towards Juri.
"Though I somehow doubt that you are here for diplomatic reasons."
Both women stood their ground, clearly trying to gauge the confidence of the other. It was ultimately Diana who cancelled the standoff, shifting her weapon slightly to the side to point instead beyond Juri.
"...Are you kidding?" Juri asked. "I can tell you're old fashioned, but that trick stopped working centuries ago."
"Tricks are for the unprepared and desperate." Diana answered, bringing her blade back down to point at the floor. "You have walked past two barrels filled with weapons, flanking either side of the entrance. They are all of Themysciran make; you will find no higher quality in the hands of man or beast. You may take whatever you need for our duel."
Juri glanced behind her. Surely enough there they were; she must have been too preoccupied with everything else to notice something as comparatively mundane.
"I appreciate the offer, princess..." Juri replied, turning back to the Amazon and assuming a combat-ready stance, "...but I've always been a hands-on type of girl."
It was for just an instant, but Juri was sure that she saw a ghost of a smile touch the Amazon's features.
Crouching slightly, Diana plunged her sword directly into the marbled floor. It pierced through the stone as easily as cardboard, leaving itself embedded as its owner left.
"I accept your terms.", the Amazon continued, and rapidly picked up speed as she began her opening charge.
The fight started fast but restrained, both combatants holding back in order to test the other. Juri easily danced around Diana's attempted blows, but made sure not to get careless; judging by that trick with the sword, even a glancing hit from this Amazon could be a game changer. What quickly caught Juri's attention, though was her opponent's method of repelling attacks.
Princess Diana was resolute in standing her ground during the brawl, not taking a single step back to dodge any incoming attack. What she did instead was block each strike with her arms, using the gauntlets on her wrists as mobile shields. This worked much better than expected; Juri's normally weighty kicks could not even push her back, every blow landing upon the gauntlets stopping instantly as if drained of all momentum.
It was a perplexing, but somehow impenetrable defense. At least, at first. It did not take long for Juri to spot a glaring flaw in this strategy.
Retreating a step and drawing both of her fists back, Juri made sure to telegraph the impending twin hook punches hard enough to travel by land lines. Diana predictably brought both of her arms up to meet them, one gauntlet for each fist. But when their limbs met Juri's hands were instead open and ready, instantly grasping tightly on to the Amazon's forearms to keep them in place.
Now having something to work with, Juri followed up with the counterattack. Still clutching the Amazon, Juri hopped slightly off the ground and pulled inwards; the end effect being a slingshot motion allowing her to bury both feet wherever she chose on her opponent.
Juri's finished attack landed squarely on Diana's face, the sudden force resulting in a brutal torrent of pain.
The Amazon's form did not give one bit, meaning that Juri absorbed all the shock of the blow. She felt several bones in her feet crack or dislodge as they crashed against their target. Her legs thrashed involuntarily as the shockwave traveled through her bones and danced up her spine. Caught utterly by surprise by this turn of events, Juri lost grip of the Amazon and fell on her back.
The standard simile for this would probably be something like 'it was akin to kicking a brick wall,' but that would be a massive undersell. Juri, with the aid of her Feng Shui engine, could kick through brick walls without a second thought. This was on an entirely different level, one that by all means should not be possible.
"What are you made of, girl?" Juri asked between whooping breaths, clutching her back while it spasmed.
"Funny you should ask.", Diana replied, the smile hinted at previously now surfacing in full.
Diana squatted down beside the prone Juri, lowering her voice to offset their closeness.
Diana paused a moment to take in Juri's look of puzzlement, then continued.
"Clay, Hippolyta's prayers, the soul of the first infant girl denied life by the hands of mankind, a little bit of magic..."
Diana paused again to rise back up to standing.
"Oh, and the blessings of at least six gods."
With that she drew her foot back and landed a kick in Juri's side, sending her skipping off like a rock across water.
Despite the agony shooting all across her form, Juri knew that she had to turn this around quick. Willing herself into action, Juri grabbed hold of the statue of Antiope as she tumbled by it and used it as a springboard to launch herself back into the fray.
Diana was more than ready for round two, but was confused by her opponent rolling by her instead of starting a new assault. As she turned around she quickly discovered why: Juri was now holding her discarded sword, having just pulled it from it's 'sheath'.
"Through with fisticuffs?" the Amazon asked with a slight tinge of jest. "Well..."
Diana, not breaking eye contact with Juri, unfastened her lasso and unwound it in her hands.
"These are also acceptable terms."
Juri leapt foward with a war cry, sword in hand and Feng Shui engine in full swing. The air between them whirled and spun as Juri filled it with everything she could manage, her acrobatic nature creating an unrelenting torrent of slashes into kicks into punches into knees.
But still, through it all, the Amazon remained unscathed.
As fast as Juri was, Diana was always just a little bit faster to stop every attempted advance dead with her gauntlets. The Amazon had not launched a counterattack yet, but with Juri's rising frustration it was only a matter of time until she overextended.
A few instants later, the Themysciran princess found the opening she wanted.
After a sword slash was deflected downwards, instead of falling back Juri committed even harder via a wild haymaker with her free hand. Easily dodging the swing with a slight shift to the side, Diana allowed the arm to fly through the loop of her waiting lasso.
With a practiced tug her lasso closed tightly around Juri's arm, and with an overhead swing the frenzied opponent was lifted and sent crashing down on the opposite side of Diana.
Not giving her foe enough time to regather her senses, Diana hefted the rope again and pirouetted; dragging Juri across the ground in a full circle around her before depositing her face-first into one of the marble supports.
As Diana once more advanced on her opponent, she was surprised to find that she was still conscious. More than just conscious, in fact; she had pieced what was happening together and was trying to saw through the rope with her sword.
"You might as well cut off your arm," Diana noted offhandedly. "My lasso was made by Hephaestus, god of the forge. The sun will wither and fall from the sky before the day this rope breaks."
With her piece said Diana lifted Juri up and sent her flying once more with a spinning throw, towards the entrance of the shrine and into the open air. Waiting a moment for Juri to gain enough airtime, she then yanked on her lasso to splatter her foe across the ground.
This did not happen, however.
Feeling a surprising amount of tension in the rope, Diana looked upwards to see what was wrong. Her opponent, ever the resourceful one, had plunged the sword into one of the remaining pillars which used to keep up the now missing shrine half. Having quickly spun her rope around the pillar, so Diana couldn't just pull Juri's arm off as she hung on, Juri was now seated on the ragged top of the orphaned support.
"What now, princess?" Juri asked, confidence once more leaking back into her voice. "You going to come up and play?"
The Amazon had half a mind to just pull down the whole support, to show the upstart just what she was dealing with, but ultimately decided against it. She really did not want to damage this place of worship any more than it already was.
Besides, that was not the only way this opponent had underestimated her.
Once again locking eyes with Juri, her smile now bordering on smugness, Diana lifted off the ground and began her flight upwards.
Juri was not having a good day.
As this unexpected juggernaut actually took flight, it immediately sunk down somewhere between 'wisdom tooth removal aftermath' and 'S.I.N.'s surprise birthday party' on her personal list of bad times.
She could fly? She could fly? What couldn't she do? Mind reading? Astral projection? Ventriloquism?
Juri backed away from the edge of her perch as the Amazon drew level with her, only to watch with puzzlement as she continued climbing upwards. This mystery was quickly solved, however, as the now unraveled rope was tightened and Juri was pulled up into the open air. Her sword remained embedded in the stone below her, but all things considered it wasn't exactly helping up until this point.
She was now dangling like a fish on a hook, with no purchase at all to work with, complete with her captor slowly 'reeling her in'. Great. Just great. That glorified golem was probably going to spike her like a football when she got her hands on her, and with her strength coupled with this height they'd be finding bits of Juri from Hades to Olympus.
Well, there was no use stewing about it. Gotta think up something.
Lacking in options, and running low on time, Juri began to swing her legs back and forth. Each sway went a little further as momentum was built up, and that combined with the rapidly shortening workable rope meant that gains were added fast. Right before she was up to the Amazon, Juri had attained enough to swing above Diana's grasp and...
...Wait, what was she even going to do up here? Hit her? That went so well last time.
Princess Diana was not terribly interested in what Juri was doing, having already written off her plight as hopeless, but she was nonetheless amused as the girl spun upside-down in front of her blowing a raspberry. Truly facing death with dignity.
It was so much a distraction, in fact, that both women were caught off guard as the spinning rope wrapped around the Amazon's wrists and brought her gauntlets together with an unnaturally loud CLANK
What followed next will require a bit of explanation.
To start, what is the difference between science and magic? Some have argued that magic is merely science not fully understood, or that science is properly harnessed magic, but both are merely sayings coined by people wishing to sound witty for an audience.
The real difference between science and magic is that science is consistent. Science has a set of rules that are never deviated from, and will always output the same result when given the same scenario to work with. In the world of science one plus one will always equal two, as long as the system it is done in deems it so.
Magic, however, is... fluid. Given the proper circumstances, one plus one may equal three, five, or in especially interesting scenarios violet. This is because magic in itself is alive, and open to interpretation. Any spell, hex, or wish can wildly vary in results depending not only on the materials and location, but also on the disposition of the caster, his force of will, and what he wants to get out of it. Magic can be bargained with, and if properly attuned to can be coaxed to go an extra mile or violet.
It is with this in mind that we now turn to the Bracelets of Submission.
Interesting name, eh? That is the title given to the armored wristbands of the Amazons, in truth repurposed manacles. While many know of their ability to nullify any attack, they also carry an ancient enchantment forgotten by most and often thought removed by the few who still remember. The terms of this enchantment, called Aphrodite's Law, are as follows:
"If an Amazon allows her Bracelets of Submission to be bound together by a man, she will lose her powers and become but a normal woman until freed."
Neat, right? But what does this have to do with anything here? There are no men in this fight, least of all Juri. But magic is alive, thinking, and adaptive.
As Princess Diana's bracelets were bound together by her own lasso, due to the actions of Juri Han, the ancient magic tied to their enchantments was roused to approve or deny activation.
It first verified that, yes, Juri Han was indeed a woman.
But then it analyzed what kind of woman she was; her history and intents.
It then reviewed the enchantment itself: Why it was cast in the first place, who made it, and under what circumstances.
But most importantly it asked itself this question: Why only men? What was the idea behind it; what was the intended result of only allowing males to exploit this weakness?
Finally reaching a conclusion, the magic rendered judgement: While not fitting the letter of the enchantment, Juri Han more than fulfilled the spirit. Aphrodite's Law was now in effect.
Of course, Juri had no way to know any of this.
She was, however, a fast learner; and the unusually loud sound of the Amazon's bracelets getting forced together being immediately followed by the both of them freefalling towards the earth connected quite a few dots awful quick.
Taking full advantage of this moment of opportunity, Juri used the lasso loop she was still bound by to pull herself closer to her opponent. Diana, still trying to parse this turn of events, was caught unprepared as Juri clocked her across her now much-less-resilient skull. With the few seconds they had left before impact Juri wrapped a few more lasso loops around the dazed Amazon's wrists, made sure that she was on top, and braced.
They landed back in the half-ruined shrine with a weighty thud, the major impact and minor crackles it caused echoing throughout the structure. Juri had placed herself with her knees on top of Diana's midsection and her balled fists against the Amazon's shoulders, distributing her landing energy through her 'cushion' with all the consideration of four sledgehammer blows. Juri took a moment to watch Diana... appreciate her newfound vulnerabilities before standing up, with her foe sprawled on the ground between her legs.
"So... six gods huh?" Juri asked the fallen Amazon below her. "Greek too? Flawless idea. Zeus really knows how to treat a lady."
Taking hold of the Amazon's bound hands, Juri lifted her woozy form up to a kneeling position and leaned down to meet her face.
"I think one of your oh-so-generous patrons have a thing about powerful women made humble, clay-girl. And boy, did they call the right person for this job."
Leaning further in, Juri caressed the Amazon's jaw with her unbound hand as she reeled in the slack between them.
"Now that you're all tied up and helpless, I'm going to savor every second of-"
Juri was cut off as the Amazon jerked forward, resulting in a headbutt. It was not nearly as devastating as previous blows, but the unexpectedness still caused Juri to recoil. As she steadied herself, she looked back to find that Diana had risen to her feet.
Juri was not surprised to find a bit of fight still in the Amazon. To be honest, she was happy about it. Juri had a lot to pay her back for, and this was the prime time to do it.
With the unbreakable lasso wrapped around both of Diana's wrists and one of Juri's, there was no retreat or defense in this fight. The hand Juri had caught in the lasso loop also held the tail end -- she having claimed it from the dazed Amazon during the fall -- so Diana would have to force Juri's grip to slacken one way or another to have a chance.
A chance Juri was not about to let happen. With one free arm compared to Diana's zero, and the Amazon's recent demotion, the tables had definitely turned. Diana attempted to push Juri off her feet and onto her back, but only succeeded in launching herself into a knee strike. While falling back from the blow Juri reached out and flicked off Diana's tiara; the move at first seemed pointless, but then Juri clutched the back of her neck and brought her in for a headbutt of her own. Lacking the metal brace, and with the power of Juri's Feng Shui engine behind it, Diana's world grew jumbled as her knees weakened and buckled.
As Juri capitalized on her advantage, Diana felt her feet drag backwards as she was pushed up against something. Only when the clouds in her vision thinned out did she realize her position, and figure out that she must have had her back against the statue of Hippolyta. Pausing only for a smirk, Juri launched herself over and above the statue; briefly pulling Diana off her feet as she reached the top, and wrapping the Amazon's bound arms around the structure as they slid down the idol of her mother. Juri finished the move by freeing her own hand and using the slack to more firmly tie together Diana's binds, securing her in place.
Princess Diana stood there, struggling to find any way out of the bonds as Juri took her time circling back. Even with her arms raised above her head as they were, there was not nearly enough clearance to get them over the oversized statue. She could not break through the statue itself in her weakened state, and no one knew better than her the strength of the binds which held her. Anyone trapped by her lasso was forced to tell the truth, and the truth seemed to be that she was pretty boned.
"Where's the bluster now?" Juri cooed, pressing herself up against the struggling Amazon. "All that hemming and hawing about gods and titles? How does it feel, being brought so low?"
"I-" Diana began, before a punch to the throat cut her off.
"I did not give you permission to speak.", Juri shot, then turned her attention to playing with Diana's curly locks as she gagged on bile and blood.
After the spasms died down, and Juri was sure the Amazon was ready for more, Juri brought both of her hands up to cup her face like an adorable little stepchild.
"You know, I'm genuinely curious how you'll die. Not the method -- we'll find that out soon enough -- but what actually happens. If even half of what you said is true, it could be quite a show."
Moving her hands about Diana's face, her thumbs brushed against lips now painted red with more than lipstick.
"Will you turn back to clay? Will a troupe of Valkyries ride down to claim you? Will you just disappear in a flash of light?"
Juri paused a few seconds to gaze deeply into those intense, frigid blue eyes, knowing that soon she would get to see them cloud and dim.
"You can talk now, by the way."
"I am not a toy here solely for your amusement."
"Of course not," Juri purred. "This'll amuse a whole lot more than just me."
Juri suddenly perked up, apparently something coming to mind.
"Speaking of toys..."
After a quick lick of the Amazon's nose as a goodbye present, Juri stepped back and left Diana to stew in her own frustration as she wandered off on some unknown errand.
How could this have happened?
The question ran through Diana's mind over and over, demanding to be answered. How? How could she have been felled so fast, and with such force? Had the gods forsaken her? Were they really on her side to begin with? Was the madwoman right; her whole life being a buildup just for the sake of dashing it all the harder?
Was her story truly to end like this? Dominated, humiliated, and tied to a statue of her mother?
Diana opened her eyes to find that her captor had returned. She had apparently gone off to rifle through the weapon barrels, judging by the dory spear she now held.
"Didn't think you'd have one of these!" Juri exclaimed, bouncing it slightly in her grip to feel the weight. "I would have thought that Amazons would shy away from this type of stuff. Then again..."
After a couple twirls, just for the sake of doing so, Juri brought down the spear against Diana. The spearhead itself rested between her breasts, the tip digging slightly into the gold trim of her outfit.
"...I suppose a girls' club like yours would have a reason to be fascinated by... well, penetration."
Oh no. Oh no, no, no.
Juri allowed her grip to slide up the shaft of the spear, to the point that she was once again against the silently panicking Amazon. releasing her left hand from the lance, she brought it up behind Diana's head and grabbed a fistful of the princess' curly locks. Slowly, purposefully, she brought her mouth up to Diana's ear and whispered.
Although the Amazon was putting on a brave face, Juri could feel the pounding of her heart even though she had to shift to the side to make room for her spear.
"I know. You're scared. Everyone's scared the first time."
Juri spun the spear in her hand, the tip digging a small hole into the Amazon's embroidery.
"It will be painful. You will bleed. But I'll make sure to ease you into it."
Ramping up the force, Juri heard Diana begin to hold her breath as the spearhead started to sink through her "armor."
"And I promise that this will be an experience neither your girlfriends nor your gods could ever provide."
Diana let out her held breath in a hiss through her teeth as the blade finally pierced through, sinking into her skin and drawing a trickle of blood.
"Oh don't wuss out on me now," Juri breathed, her chiding barely above a pant. "That's just the tip. We haven't even got to the good part yet."
Diana wanted to fight back -- to thrash and struggle and bite -- but Juri's grip on her scalp kept her head facing forward, and any movement she made lower only helped the blade sink that much faster. She could already feel every breath she took betraying her, her rising chest egging on the intruder ever deeper. She could only bite her lip, attempting to suppress the gasps of pain she knew her torturer was waiting for.
Juri was in no hurry to push the blade onward, cherishing all the time she had with her quivering prey. As Diana fought to keep her composure Juri licked her way up and down the Amazon's neck, pausing occasionally to nip slightly or twirl her tongue in her ear.
She only stopped when the spear came to a complete halt, the blade scraping up against Diana's sternum.
"No worries..." Juri cooed, shifting more weight into the spear. "It's normal to have a little resistance..."
Diana could feel the pressure building up against her internal chestplate. Fresh blood poured from her mouth as her teeth bit deep into her lower lip, doing all that she could to not scream as her breastbone began to crack and bow. She had given up on surviving; her one remaining goal now to deny her captor her satisfaction and die with dignity.
"All we have to do is... force.. our way... through!"
All at once Diana's sternum gave way, and the spearhead plunged into her depths. Assaulted with searing hot agony, Diana temporarily lost control of herself and let out a yelp. Pleased with this result, Juri spun the spear handle like a valve to churn through the Amazon's insides and coax out similar moans.
"That's it. Now we're in there."
The blade paused for a fraction of a second, giving the princess the closest she could get to a respite.
"I think you can take it deeper, though."
To Diana's unending despair, the spear once again began its steady descent into her. Although, at this point, it may have been technically on its way out. Diana's cries of pain could no longer be concealed, as even if the agony had not gotten to her she had bitten a hole straight through her lip, and had thus degenerated to pleading "no" and "stop" whenever she could muster enough for real words.
Soon Juri felt the spear come to a halt for the second and final time; not against Diana, but Hippolyta. The lance had pushed straight through the Amazon, and now rested against the statue behind her.
Juri released her grip on Diana's hair, but did not draw back. Instead she petted her head and once more spoke to her.
"I hope you enjoyed that..." she cooed, as she pulled the spear back through. It was much faster coming out than going in, and in only a few seconds it exited Diana with a wet pop and left her to limply pant.
"...because I'm through with foreplay." Juri finished, and thrust the spear back in with all her might.
Losing any shed of composure left, Diana shrieked and wailed as the spear worked its way through her body. In and out, out and in, always in a slightly different spot to tear a new hole through her and add to the chorus of agony. She convulsed and jerked as her body was ravaged, tearing enough of her costume for it to fold down in front of her in rags. While her voice eventually gave -- either due to her vocal chords going ragged by the sheer volume of her screams or her lungs undoubtedly filling with ichor -- it didn't stop her from trying; her burbly, rasping cries just barely louder than the sound of her own flesh being violated.
As her spasms grew weaker and she began to fade, Juri lined the spear up for a finishing blow. With a final heft Juri plunged the spear through the indentation where Diana's throat and collarbone met, tearing through her neck and severing her spinal cord.
Wasting no time Juri once again came in at an angle to avoid the handle, leaned her forehead against the dying Amazon's, and watched intently.
Diana's mouth opened and closed in silent disbelief, like a fish pulled out of the sea. Those deep, frigid eyes had already begun to lose focus, their eerie power draining with her life. Juri did not get to see their true last moments, as they rolled up into the Amazon's head and stayed there. With a final gurgle Diana's tongue escaped her mouth and lolled pitifully as blood oozed out around it.
Juri drew back, and Diana's head limply dropped against the spear that ended her.
Princess Diana -- favored of the gods and champion of the Amazons -- was dead. And she died just like any other person would. Something could probably be made of that, but Juri was never much of a philosopher.
Still, she could see an opportunity when it presented itself.
The giant statue of Athena stood quiet and still, same as it ever was. If it had any opinion of the figure now before it, it was not voicing them.
"Hello, Athena?" Juri called to the statue.
"I'd like to make a return."
Unceremoniously, Juri lifted and dumped Diana's ravished corpse onto Athena's cupped hands. She only made it partway on, her arms drooping down and her exposed breasts shifting upwards as her upper body hung off the edge, but Juri did not move to push her further in. More fitting this way, really.
"She was okay to start with , but it only took so long to see all the terrible design flaws you made here. The soul of a murdered baby? Could that be any more of a red light? I mean, she already lost once!"
Juri took a step forward, presenting to the statue one of the gauntlets she had pried off the late princess.
"And these? Why? Sure, they're nifty, but look what happened! At the very least, why not just give her one? Can't tie one gauntlet together."
Lowering the gauntlet and tucking it away, Juri then brought forward the golden, glittering lasso.
"This, though, is top notch. Very nice work here. Actually makes me wonder why you stuck it in this mess of a project."
Juri brought it back down and draped it over her shoulder, before gazing back up to Athena and continuing.
"You're not getting it back, of course."
Turning around and making her way to the stairs to leave this shrine and it's failed experiment behind, Juri shot back a final set of parting words to the statue.
"Now when you get around to the souls of women killed by women, and pluck this one out again, feel free to send her my way. Third time's the charm!"