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Steve Orlando (writer), Sara Pichelli (artist), Elisabetta D'Amico (inking assistant), Mattew Wilson (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Anthony Gambino (production designer & illustrator), Russell Dauterman (cover artist), Alex Ross; Jeehyung Lee (variant cover artists), Kaitlyn Lindtvedt (assistant editor), Alana Smith (editor), Wil Moss (senior editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)
Scarlet Witch created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Scythia – better known as Hippolyta – has captured Darcy Lewis, whom she claims has aggreived the Bachae and must pay for her crime. The Scarlet Witch knows who the Bacchae are – a secret society that protects women and the abused. Scythia recounts what happened – about how Darcy had infiltrated the Bacchae following a ruse, and then killed one of their number before fleeing. However, the dead Bacchae's life must be countered with the life of Darcy. The Scarlet Witch protects Darcy, remaining defiant against the powerful warrior woman. Wanda is about to hold her own, and eventually uses her powers to rebuild the Emporium, which Scythia had burned down, and then drops the building on top of her. But Scythia breaks through and shoves her wepaon through Wanda's stomach – however Wanda was able to break the weapon, causing her no injuries. Scythia then runs into a nearby apartment building, causing the building, which is full of civilians, to begin to collapse. Wanda casts a large number of spells instantaneously to protect the civilians, rescuing them, and as the building and everything in it is destroyed, Wanda materializes a lottery ticket for each of the civilians, telling them that they will all win the lottery draw. Scyathia gets physically violent with Wanda, and hurls the worry stone through Wanda's shoulder, before Wanda casts a spell which transports Scythia to the outskirts of Lotkill – but when Scythia attempts to re-enter, she discovers that the town is now surrounded by a force field. Wanda picks up the worry stone, determined to uncover its mysteries. Darcy then tells Wanda her side of the story, that she was desperate for a story, that she investigated the Bacchae and killed one of them in self-defense. Wanda promises to protect Darcy, while under Lotkill, Scythia has found the same metal that was made into the worry stone, and fashions herself an armor, ready for her next battle with the Scarlet Witch.
Wanda Maximoff is the Scarlet Witch... and someone has just burned down her house! That someone is the warrior woman called Hippolyta, now known as Scythia, who holds a limp Darcy Lewis up amongst the rubble of The Emporium, while a large chain is wrapped around her other hand. 'Darcy Lewis is mine, Maximoff. Stand aside, or meet the same end as your home' Scythia warns the Scarlet Witch, who replies 'I don't think I will'. Scythia drops Darcy to the ground with a THUD and retorts 'Do I look like I'm asking?' as she holds up her large speak-like weapon. The Scarlet Witch remarks that she has heard of the Bacchae, and explains that they are a secret society that protects women and the abused. 'We should get along. But here you are, their queen, threatening a friend... who's under my protection. So you owe me a story' Wanda adds, smirking as she tells Scythia, in case she didn't notice, 'I'm not asking either'. Scythia is surprised by the Scarlet Witch's defiance, and offers to tell her of the snake, and how she forced her hand.
(flashback images, narrated by Scythia)
Long ago, as Hippolyta, Scythia led her fellow Amazons from oppression, and ages later, she founded the Bacchae in their tradition, to fight wicked men. Today, there are many sects, views differ, but as long as the world has chains, the Bacchae will break them, physical or otherwise. It was Hippolyta's sisters who were hunting a man suspected of violence, that they came upon Darcy Lewis, defending the violent man's lover. Darcy Lewis presented herself as a kindred soul and possible initiate. Hippolyta's sisters saw Darcy as a potential, and invited her into their sect – but it was all a trick to get close to the Bacchae. There were no attackers – no one attacked, only a ruse in which Darcy Lewis drew first blood.
The Bacchae live in secrecy, revealing themselves only to avenge the abused. Each sect answers this call in its own fashion, keeps its own den, where it heals the wounded and teaches them to break their chains – but after weeks living among them, learning their ways and breaking bread – Darcy Lewis killed a daughter of Enyom, one of her hosts. In their own culture, the Bacchae are free to draw Bacchae blood, but the murder of a sect sister by an outsider calls for balance – a life must be collected in payment, it is the founder's burden, a sacred obligation. Darcy Lewis was not one of the Bacchae, she only played it. Hippolyta had long since abdicated as Queen of the Bacchae, because they need no such leader. And though the Daughters of Enyo have strayed from what she may call the path, the burden was invoked, and as founder, she could not ignore it.
As Darcy Lewis fled the Bacchae, Hippolyta appeared before her sisters, bound to kill Darcy Lewis for killing one of their own – not a question of choice – Darcy Lewis had the choice. Hippolyta had only duty – she knows not why Darcy Lewis struck, and while Hippolyta has little love for the one whom Darcy Lewis killed, none of that matters. The Daughters of Enyo called and Hippolyta had to answer, she had to become Scythia, a debt collector of sorts. A Bacchae life was taken, and payment is long overdue. Darcy Lewis was inches from Scythia's blade when she disappeared through a door.
'... but every door leads somewhere' Scythia declares, telling the Scarlet Witch that she has her story, now to yield, suggesting that surely the Scarlet Witch respects tradition. 'The girl is late for a long and complicated execution' Scythia announces as she places the blade of her weapon to Darcy's cheek. 'GAH – WHAT – HIPPOLYTA? HOLY -' Darcy exclaims as she opens her eyes and leaps to her feet, avoiding the blade. 'Quick, Darcy, Jump!' the Scarlet Witch calls out as she opens some sort of portal, which then teleports Darcy several feet away, behind the Scarlet Witch. Scythia holds up the mysterious worry stone and remarks that it is adorable how Darcy clings to Wanda as she did this little ornament when she found her. 'This could barely dispel my civilian glamour. You'll do even less' Scythia declares.
'You don't know what you're talking about, lady! The Daughters of Enyo were butchers!' Darcy exclaims as she stands behind Wanda, boasting that Wanda could turn the moon into soup if she wanted to. 'Youre done – you're -' Darcy begins, to which Wanda tells her companion that she appreciates her confidence, but to perhaps let her talk to the ancient blood debt collector. 'Deal' Darcy utters. The Scarlet Witch moves closer to Scythia, who raises her weapon in response. Energy glows around Wanda's hands, which she keeps behind her back, as she informs Scythia that she knows Darcy, and that if she did kill her sect sister, then there must have been a reason. 'I've also heard you. I see that you're bound by honor. I respect that' Wanda adds, before remarking that Darcy dying does not work for her, and suggests that surely the founder of the Bacchae can find another way.
'Ha! Don't condescend me. I didn't come to take lessons on my people from a witch in a tiara...I came for blood!' Scythia responds, and as the energy behind Wanda begins to cause the ground beneath them to crack, Scythia brings her powerful blade down towards Wanda, who flips backwards, dodging the attack. 'Scythia...you only get one' the Scarlet Witch declares, energy glowing around her once more, but Scythia moves quickly and punches the Scarlet Witch hard in the face: 'Please. You're not my first sorceress' she snaps. Wanda narrowly dodges Scythia's blade once more, as Scythia asks 'Who needs iron? For all your spells and hexes...not one of you could ever take a punch'. Wanda rubs her jaw following the impact of the punch, and asks 'Ready to take mine?' to which Scythia utters 'Oh... you've rebuilt your shop'.
Indeed, The Emporium suddenly re-appears – right on top of Scythia – with a massive CRASH as The Emporium connects with the ground. 'You really went full Wizard of Oz' Darcy remarks. 'Never met him' Wanda smiles. 'ENOUGH!' Scythia shouts as she bursts up through the floor of The Emporium and hurls the blade at the end of the chain towards Wanda, it strikes the ground at her feet. 'Run Darcy!' Wanda exclaims. 'Isn't that your brother's gig?' Darcy jokes. 'For the next five seconds...it's yours' Wanda responds as she casts a spell that enables Darcy to move quickly. 'I'll never say a bad thing about Pietro again not his annoying mouth not even his scientifically perfect ass!' Darcy responds as she speeds away.
'Let's see you enchant her feet with a blade through your entrails!' Scythia suggests as her blade seems to pierce Wanda's stomach – but with a simply hex thje blade breaks away and Wanda is unharmed. 'Behave, Scythia. Don't make me drop my shop on you again' Wanda replies. 'You want to joke?' Scythia snarls. 'LET US LAUGH TOGETHER' Scythia shouts as she runs towards Wanda and slams her into the side of another building, which begins to crumble from the impact. 'No' Wanda utters. 'You could've yielded, Maximoff. I can drop houses too...when pushed, and you? You'd risk all these lives...just to fail to save one' Scythia exclaims. Wanda sees civilians in the building, in danger of being crushed when the building collapses.
'Help! You've got to help!' someone calls out. Wanda casts a spell which extracts the trapped civilians from the building and places them safely on the ground. 'What?' one of them calls out. 'We – we're alive?' another asks. Wanda tells everyone that it is okay, that they are safe. 'Safe? All we had just turned to leaves and blew away...' a woman utters. Wanda tells the woman that she knows, and that she can't replace what was lost, not exactly. She casts another spell, and assures all of the civilians that if the next thing they do with these hands is buy a lottery ticket, each of them will win.
Suddenly: 'You'd lower your guard so easily?' Scythia asks as she smashes a fire hydrant across Wanda's face, knocking Wanda's tiara from her head. 'For them?' Scythia snaps as she kicks Wanda to the ground, suggesting that perhaps they are both prisoners of duty – but that Wanda's are the greater chains. 'I've lifted plenty' Wanda snaps as she gets to her feet, looking very unimpressed as she approaches Scythia, who admits that Wanda is powerful, more powerful than she may ever be. 'But you spread your loyalties too thin. You can be pressed – and you can be beaten!' Scythia exclaims as she hurls the worry stone towards Wanda with furious force – striking Wanda's shoulder, the worry stone passes through Wanda's shoulder as if it was a bullet.
Wanda drops to the ground, and Scythia stands over her, declaring that once Darcy is dead, and the burden satisfied, they will no longer be enemies. 'But when your wounds ache in the cold...you will think of me'. Wanda calls out to Scythia, who rolls her eyes: 'What is it? Enough -' she begins, before vanishing through a portal which Wanda opens beneath her. 'Honestly? I'd rather not think about you at all' Wanda declares.
A moment later, Scythia emerges from the portal – on the outskirts of Lotkill. 'Infuriating. Here in the manure wilds, dueling a witch to shame Hera...for the damn fool Daughters of Enyo' Scythia complains. She turns around and starts to walk back to Lotkill, dragging her chain behind her. 'All this for an unhinged sect I'd rather soon forget -' she begins, before slamming into a mysterious forcefield. 'A sphere of protection? For the love of -' Scythia begins, as she starts to slam her fist into the force field – but it does not break. 'Maximoff. A witch to shame Hera...there can be no doubt'.
Back in the center of Lotkill, Wanda turns and notices Darcy has returned. 'You should be miles away' Wanda tells her, looking down at the worry stone. 'That'd sure make it hard to check on you' Darcy replies, joking that it turn's out Jarnette's rock is a real pain in the ass. 'In my shoulder, actually' Wanda replies, noting that it pierced her spells like a bullet. She holds the worry stone up and looks at it, deciding that they can't afford this metal's mystery any longer. Darcy adjusts her broken glasses and tells Wanda that she needs her to know that she is sorry for bringing Scythia to her door. 'I never wanted you risking your life for mine. You or anyone. You... you know I was on the run when I fell through the last door...you don't know why' Darcy remarks.
Darcy Lewis rubs her head as she informs Wanda that Scythia was right – she infiltrated the Daughters of Enyo as a journalist – a desperate journalisty. She had made mistakes, ran a story she knew was true – but she was green, didn't wait to verify her sources and got herself fired. She got canned a few more times, hunting for a comeback, got reckless, but didn't care. She explains that she had heard of the Bacchae, most women have, but that the Daughters of Enyo were out of control – and death was the only penalty they had, no matter the crime. She thought she could expose them, would be enough to redeem her byline – it was going fine, and she almost made it to initiation, then they found her notes, and it was she who was facing death. Darcy apologizes to Wanda and admits that she killed that sect sister. 'In self-defense. And that sole act does not define you' Wanda responds, extending a hand to Darcy, who takes her hand. Wanda remarks that all is not as Scythia sees it, but that she no longer matters, as she isn't here. 'As long as you're in Lotkill... you are beyond the Bacchae's reach'.
At the edge of Lotkill, a cracking, chomping noise can be heard as the sun sets and darkness falls that noise is from the tunneling that Scythia is doing. Tunneling through the earth under the surface of Lotkill. 'Hours wandering the border of this druge of a village with no way in...but finally, a way under and there, a boon. A hunt of alchemy. A sign that the fates favor me' Scythia tells herself. 'A pocket, deep and long. Of the very rock that broke your spells. The ornament alone drew your blood. Imagine what I'll do with this' Scythia declares as she creates an entire armor of the mysterious worry stone. Scythia looks mad, and tells Wanda Maximoff to prepare herself. 'The next round is mine'.
(in flashback images)
Fake victim and attacker
Wanda was given the mysterious worry stone in Scarlet Witch (3rd series) #1.
Members of the Bacchae have previously appeared in Fantastic Four (3rd series) #7, #20-21, Peter Parker Spider-Man 2000 #1, Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #450-451 and Gambit (6th series) #1.