Times weren’t as simple as they used to be for Amazon tribes. The jungles were once their private territory, where they were free to hunt beasts, redecorate their villages, and do the occasional raid on villages outside the jungle or travelling caravans to steal small men to keep their matriarchal society going.
But now the jungles were less unknown by outsiders and adventurers keep popping up more and more every year. They stole the Amazons’ kills and ransacked their villages for loot. The worst was when the less-scrawny men managed to woo away one of their sisters to be his girlfriend/bride. There were even Amazons getting bored with living in the jungle and seeking better fortunes in other lands.
There were some Amazon tribes that were hit badly by the increase of emigration. One example was a village of the Miyaztic tribe that lived not too far from one of the pale-face settlements in cleared jungle land. Too many sisters have left, single or with new hubbies, leaving barely enough to keep the village going.
It was time for a change, and the first change was a new goddess to worship. It was becoming clear that their old goddess wasn’t answering their prayers for strength anymore. Either she had died (which seemed unlikely but could happen in a fight with another god), someone had done something unforgiveable to offend her (also unlikely as the tribeswomen weren’t repentant sinners), or she had fallen in love, possibly with a hunky demigod, and forgot all about her patronage to feminine independence (which seemed plausible, gods not being as steadfast in their patronages as they used to be).
So, the Amazon elders of the village started interviewing priestesses for a new goddess to worship. There were some obvious rejects, such the Goddess of Night Owls and Coffee, the Goddess of Bats and Angsty Poetry, and one priestess accidentally knocked her headdress off, revealing a headful of tentacles. She was immediately chased out of the villages with spears and slings. The last thing the Miyaztic needed were one of those goddesses.
But one priestess sparked their interest in the Calel Comb, Goddess of Bees and Zeal. What they needed was a busy goddess that wouldn’t shirk her work or ignore prayers. Calel Comb was certainly not a slacker, not like the God of Sloths and Sloth.
But Calel Comb required a temple, one that would actually test those who would try to loot it. Thankfully, there was a mountain within walking distances of the Miyastic village they could carve a temple out of. And some bartering at the pale-face settlement for the right tools soon saw them beginning the construction.
Chief Sheza lifted the construction helmet that was temporarily replacing her headdress and said, “Isn’t this getting a bit excessive.”
Her head forewoman said, “Well, Calel Comb is known for her attention to detail. And the honeycomb pattern isn’t that hard to keep going.”
“But one in every six floor tile is a pressure plate,” said Sheza, putting her foot on one. A puff of air came from a hole in the wall. When the temple was finished, it would shoot a bee-patterned dart.
“You know dart traps are standard temple traps,” said the forewoman.
“Yes, but not this many dart traps,” said Sheza, waving a hand down the hall where hundreds of dart holes could be seen on the wall, stretching along with the hexagonal floor tiles, “I mean, for starters, where are we going to get that many darts to keep them loaded?”
“The darts are sold in bulk,” said the forewoman, “It’s the poison on them that we have to make.”
“And another thing, do we really want the corridors of our temple cluttered with rotting corpses riddled with darts?” asked Sheza, “There’s going to be a big stench and cleaning it constantly is going to be a pain in the butt.”
“They’re…not deadly,” said the forewoman a bit uncertainly.
“If they’re not deadly, what’s the point of so many flippin’ dart traps?!” snapped Sheza.
“The poison’s supposed to help with our recruitment drive,” said the forewoman, “That priestess is annoying vague about all this.”
“Well, we’re gonna do a test-run. If it flops, we’ll redo the whole thing,” said Sheza before walking off.
The forewoman walked over to where the workers were setting up more dart traps and said, “C’mon, c’mon, what do I pay you girls for?”
“You don’t pay us,” said one worker, “In fact, we don’t even have a currency system. Our economy relies completely on trading goods and services for other goods and services.”
“One more crack like that and you’re out of here,” threatened the forewoman.
“No! Wait! Please! I have three nieces!” pleased the worker.
Another worker turned to her fellow and asked, “You think our lack of currency is one of the reasons we keep losing sisters to outsiders?”
“Eh, I dunno. I just work here,” said the other worker.
When the exhaustively-excessive temple was set up, it was time to test it. Fortunately, there was no shortage of adventurers who were willing to test a dungeon for a chance at easy gold. Eventually, three adventurers were chosen, a group of different classes to test how the temple will be able to handle various types.
First there was a knight in armor, though not just any armor. The kinda of heavy armor that makes a man seem twice as big as he already is and would crush a weak man like a cave-in. This was the kind of knight who would slowly stride through battle and let his armor do all the defending for him.
Then there was a druid, one of the nature-loving mages who could rely on animals, plants, and stones to attack and defend for him. A jungle temple seems like a good place for him to practice his ability.
Then there was a ninja, a rare kunoichi from the far east. Compared to normal women, she was rather thin. Compared to the amazons, she was downright spindly. However, her lithe body meant she was much faster, more agile, and can jump higher than most people. Even the amazons were impressed with her agility and speed.
Starting down one of the many hallways in the temple, it didn’t take long for the traps to start being triggered. It was practically impossible for them to not be triggered, unless someone could crawl on walls or float over the floor. The darts shot out at the adventurers. Of course, they just pinged off the knight’s armor without touching him at all. The ninja was able to dodge or even catch the darts before they could hit her. It helped that the knight made an effective shield.
The druid wasn’t so lucky. There was precious little he could coax into doing his will in this temple and his shields couldn’t protect him from every angle. His robes didn’t block the flight of the darts and they struck through to his flesh. However, the darts didn’t appear to do anything. They didn’t make him drop, swell up, hallucinate, or anything debilitating. They stung, but not unbearably so. As soon as the druid realized how harmless the darts were, he started blocking them less and less.
However, the knight and ninja weren’t letting up their guards. A new temple couldn’t possibly be loaded with blank darts. Not to mention it was unwise to let dozens of darts hit you. But another good reason is that druid seemed to get giddier and even sloppier with his shielding as he kept getting stuck. The giggling he was making was rather unnerving as well.
Eventually, they got to the central chamber. There were no more dart traps here. Instead, there was a huge pool full of what was undoubtably honey and it looked pretty deep too. There were several hexagonal pillars rising up out of the honey and at the other side of the room on a larger pillar was a shrine. On the shrine was a statue of a golden bee the size of a Fabrige egg. Quite clearly, the only way to get to the shrine and the golden bee was to jump from pillar to pillar.
However, as soon as the druid saw the pool, he let out a squeal of glee before running pell-mell towards the room. He took a flying leap, not aiming at any of the pillars. “HONEY!” he squealed joyously before splashing down right in the middle of the pool. Despite the honey’s viscosity, he sunk rather fast.
The knight and the ninja looked at the bubbles coming up from where the druid sank. “Well…that happened,” said the knight.
“Now we know what all the darts were for,” said the ninja.
“So, all we need to do is get to the shrine?” asked the knight.
“Not so easy for someone like you,” said the ninja.
“Ha, I walk 10 miles a day in this armor,” said the knight, “It doesn’t weigh me down at all.” With that, he jumped for the nearest pillar. It wasn’t too far, but the other pillars were increasingly farther and higher. The knight was soon struggling to keep his balance as he jumped from pillar to pillar. Eventually, he jumped for one pillar and came a little short. He grabbed the pillar, but the surface was too smooth and waxy for him to get a good grip and pull himself up. He struggled, but it was a losing fight. Eventually, with a ‘WHOA!’, he lost his grip and fell into the honey pool. His heavy armor made him sink like a stone.
The ninja was studying the chamber with more respect for the temple’s unusual design. Too much exposure to the darts’ poison would give you a euphoric urge to jump into the honey. But relying on heavy armor to get through the darts meant you couldn’t be able to get to the shrine without falling. But someone as light and agile as her can avoid getting too poisoned and be able to cross the pool.
The idea was parent to the deed and the ninja was soon leaping from pillar to pillar with ease. The pillars did feel like they were made of solid wax, so they were a bit slick. But the ninja had dealt with worse and before long, she was climbing up the final pillar to the shrine.
The ninja looked around. This still felt too easy. Was this temple really designed exclusively for adventurers like her? She understood how amazons respected speed and agility, but this didn’t seem like the best way to keep their sacred relic protected. Well, this was supposed to be a test trial. They might add other traps later to compensate for adventurers like herself. The golden bee was probably not even real gold. She grabbed it, expecting it to be painted wood or something.
Instead, she got a massive charge as the statue started glowing and the glowing spread to her body. She should be feeling fear, but she just felt good. Her body was surging with magic as it started reshaping her. She was getting much taller, taller than the average man. But she wasn’t remaining thin. Her body was filling up with curves and muscles like the amazons. Her clothes, which could hardly contain her bigger form, were also becoming the tribal clothes she saw the other amazons wore. Even her skin was becoming darker like the beautiful natives.
When the magic was finished, the former ninja was now an amazon like the others. She looked at her bigger, curvier body with amazement. She had felt overshadowed all her life, but now she was head and shoulders over pretty much everyone she knew. Her black ninja garb that had covered most of her body now had yellow stripes and showed off a lot of her darker skin.
The former ninja didn’t want to steal the idol any longer. She’s gotten everything she wanted now. She leapt all the way back to the hallway with a single bound. The traps wouldn’t go off on her now. She was a proud member of the Miyaztic tribe.
“Ok, this temple is working out a lot better than I would have thought,” said Chief Sheza to High Priestess Bizbi.
Bizbi smiled and said, “Calel Comb provides for those who work for it.”
“Well, she’s definitely helping us get new sisters,” said Sheza. Since the new temple has opened, there has been a pretty steady stream of adventurers who tried their luck. Those who were able to get to the golden bee became new members of the tribe, with the right kind of agility and speed the amazons favored. And those who were men before adjusted very quickly.
There were still plenty who failed the temple and ended up in the honey pool. There were those who were like the druid and exposed to too much of the darts’ poisons. When they were fished out, they had become short humanoid bees, fuzzy, cute, and eager to serve the goddess. They were her Scouts, who foraged for food, watched for invaders, and maintained the temple.
Those who had tried to use heavy armor to bypass the darts but ended up sinking became a different class. When the knight and others like him were dredged out, they were large humanoid wasps, standing as tall as the amazons and heavily armored in chitin. They were the Defenders, who guarded the village and the temple from anyone who would try to pillage it. They also did the heavy lifting that the amazons couldn’t.
“At this rate, we could be one of the biggest tribes in the jungle,” said Sheza, “I just hope we don’t get too crowded.”
“There may be other tribes who’ll wish to join us,” said Bizbi, “Calel Comb would welcome more workers.”
“You mean worshipers,” said Sheza.
“Right, what did I say?” asked Bizbi.
Sheza had a bit of a slight worry that Calel Comb might get a little too powerful and tyrannical over time, but that was the future’s problem. If need be, the amazons could abandon the temple and move to a farther area. But for now, the bee goddess was a good patron.