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Disclaimer: The characters all belong to Renaissance Pictures, MCA/Universal Pictures and Xena Warrior Princess. No copyright infringement is intended. There is absolutely no profit for me in this - I’m just having a good time. Any characters mentioned that are not in the syndicated television show are of my own creation, as is the story line. If you wish to borrow any of them, please let me know.
Content Warning: This story contains references and descriptions of intimate activity. If you do not wish to read about this type of relationship or are under 18, please feel free to go elsewhere.
Violence: Some, not much.
Hurt/Comfort: Yes; appropriate for the story line.
Spoiler Warning: At this point – none.
NOTE: This story follows my on-going fan fiction series, which started with The Mist of Pieria, A Journey of Love and Home and A Bonding of Hearts. Hope you enjoy!
COMMENTS: I welcome comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Building Our World
Watching the inn for several days it was obvious to Herodotus that Xena was no where around. Only catching sight of Cyrene and Lila the old man decided he would venture into the inn today for a noon meal. He only wanted to talk with Lila and leave her with a few of her mother’s trinkets that had no meaning to him. The old man did not want to scare her in any way. Returning to the small camp that he established just north of Amphipolis, he could not believe the rumors he had heard about the messenger trying to kill Gabrielle. He did not really want the woman dead, he just wanted to let Gabrielle know that she caused Hecuba’s death and he wanted to disown her. "Finally after all these years, I don’t have to pretend to be that harlots father anymore." Packing what little belongings he had, Herodotus thought back about the fire he intentionally started on his property. "Yes, Gabrielle – you shall have no memories of your mother." Laughing with vengeance in his heart the unshaven man truly learned to hate his so-called blonde daughter over the years.
~~~ ~ ~~~~~ ~ ~~~
The day after the execution the preparations for Gabrielle and Xena’s Amazon joining moved quickly. The Warrior insisted they are married immediately and everyone agreed. Shulaba assigned various tasks to a number of willing Amazons. Eponin and Amarice adjusted the duty roster for all working areas of the village so everyone would have a chance to join in on the celebration. With Stella’s assistance, Teklai arranged the patrol schedules for the royal guards and sentries. It would be important to all women that they be allowed to congratulate the Queen and her Warrior. The Regent spent most of the time with the priestess, Helena, who would perform the ceremony and who decided to stay in the village after the execution. Shulaba did not want any challenges arising to stop the marriage of her Queen thus the two women reviewed each and every tradition and law available regarding the marriage of an Amazon Queen. The fact that Xena would not acknowledge being an Amazon did not matter. She was a proven warrior and quite capable of defending Gabrielle. Artemis had already approved of Xena, as the Queen’s mate in Amphipolis, so the women knew that would not be an issue.
"What if someone challenges Xena’s right to marry Gabrielle?" The Regent believed they pretty much covered all the laws but she was concerned that something might have been missed.
"Well, if someone is dumb enough to go up against Xena in a physical battle, the challenge has to be made prior to the ceremony. Otherwise it will not be recognized." Helena took a sip of the tea Shulaba ordered for the both of them. "And once the ceremonial bathes begin no challenges may be issued." The priestess looked across the table at her friend. "Are you worried someone might try and stop the joining?"
"No, not really. I just don’t want anything else to happen. They have both gone through so much this past season."
Helena reached across and patted Shulaba’s hands. "Relax, I can’t imagine Artemis allowing anyone to interfere."
~~~ ~ ~~~~~ ~ ~~~
When the Warrior awoke the following morning, she could hear the activity throughout the village and knew that the women were preparing for the marriage ceremony. Her soulmate was lying on her side facing away from Xena and although their bodies were spooned together the Warrior could not determine whether Gabrielle was awake or asleep. Running her hand up and down Gabrielle’s arms she felt a hand instantly capturing hers. "Good morning honey. How are you feeling?"
Not receiving any response Xena pulled on Gabrielle forcing her gently to lay on her back. Caressing her cheeks produced a small smile from Gabrielle. "I’m kind of numb. I need to center....pull myself back together."
Desperately wanting to make love to Gabrielle, the Warrior understood that her lover probably needed to meditate. "Why don’t I have some food packed and take you to the waterfalls. We can spend the day there and maybe you can meditate for awhile."
Sitting up Gabrielle ran her fingers through her hair. "Okay, sounds good."
Jumping from the bed the Warrior opened the front door to find two guards standing a respectful distance away. Giving one of them instructions to saddle Argo and procure the food, Xena returned to find Gabrielle pulling out a soft tunic rather than her leathers. Deciding it might not be a bad idea to wear a soft tunic, Xena dressed in the dark blue one she favored. Just about the time they were clothed and ready to walk out the door a knock came. It was Eponin and Amarice.
"Oh, Gods – Eponin, I’m sorry. I...forgot...Hades." Hitting the side of her head in self-anger, Gabrielle had been so caught up between the message from Poteidaia and Maris she realized she had ignored Eponin’s wound. "How is your leg?"
With only a small limp to her walk the Amazon Warrior approached her Queen. "I’m doing great. Xena did a good job patching me up. Listen we want to accompany the two of you out to the waterfalls today. You just can’t go unescorted Gabrielle. We promise to keep our distance and give you both privacy."
Not giving Gabrielle a chance to refuse, Xena placed her arm around her soulmate’s shoulder and answered. "I agree. It is a fine idea." Realizing there would be no opportunity to argue the point, Gabrielle conceded and the four friends headed for the stables. Only Argo was ready and the Bard grinned slightly, when Xena lifted her into the saddle. Mounting up behind the Bard, Xena grabbed the rein with one hand and wrapped her free arm around Gabrielle tightly. Feeling Gabrielle so close to her caused warm sensations to run throughout her body. "Giving you that horse was a bad idea. I like this much better."
With a giggling Bard, the women rode out of the village heading to the waterfalls and a day of relaxation, meditation and Xena was sure plenty of love.
~~~ ~ ~~~~~ ~ ~~~
"Lila, Uncle Tensandi will escort you to Poteidaia tomorrow." The innkeeper thought her earlier decision over about whether to accompany Lila or not. Still slightly irritated at Lila, the innkeeper decided it would be best, if Lila traveled alone. *Maybe she will grow up, when she hears the truth about her father from the locals.*
Before Lila could respond to Cyrene’s statement a man entered the inn and the young woman recognized him immediately. "Father?"
Cyrene picked up a broom and posed it ready to knock him in the head, if necessary. Glancing to her bartender, Adessa, she gestured that the woman should run for help.
Holding his hands straight out in front Herodotus spoke. "I’m not looking for trouble Cyrene. I just want to talk to Lila and then I will be on my way."
Moving between Lila and Herodotus the innkeeper was visibly angry. "YOU are a monster and have no right talking with Lila. She is my responsibility now." A gentle hand touched Cyrene’s shoulder.
"Cyrene, please. Let him speak."
Before the man could utter a word, Tensandi and three villagers barreled through the door and surrounded Herodotus. Lila screamed to leave him alone and ran into her father’s arms. Cyrene’s heart went out to the poor young women; she actually loved her father. Nodding her head Tensandi and the men backed off.
"Okay Herodotus. You have managed to gain some time by Lila’s grace." Closing the distance between them the innkeeper peered directly into the old man’s eyes. "You can sit at that table." Pointing to an isolated table close to the door Herodotus sat with his back to the wall.
Not anticipating he would even get this far the old man could not help but smirk. He would have to be careful what he would say, as it was obvious Cyrene had no intentions of letting him be alone with Lila. "Father, why did you send that horrible message? That man tried to kill Gabby. And what happened to the house?"
Lowering his head in hopes of appearing somewhat sadden over all of the events, Herodotus could not find any love in his heart for Gabrielle. "The message is true. If your sister were not traipsing across the countryside, Caesar would have never caught her. And as far as the messenger goes, he was ordered not to harm Gabrielle."
Tensandi was uninvited to the conversation but did not care; he too loved the little Bard. Standing behind Cyrene, he placed his hands on her shoulders. "Old man, your lies are not welcomed here."
Glaring up into Tensandi’s eyes, Herodotus almost wished the big man would kill him right in front of Lila. "I’m not lying." Pulling a small bundle out from his shirt Lila’s father placed it in front of her. "Here are several of your mother’s possessions. You should have them. Gabrielle has no right to any of them."
"Why Herodotus. What has Gabrielle ever done to you? From the stories I hear Gabrielle should hate you." The innkeeper was disgusted with the man sitting across from her pretending to be a loving father to Lila.
"Gabrielle is an embarrassment. She is not my daughter. For way too many years I just pretended she was. I burned the house and barn because it is mine to destroy. Gabrielle has no right to any of it." Looking directly into Lila’s brown eyes the old man smiled. "You are my only child and have all the rights to it. Pulling a parchment from his shirt pocket he handed it to Lila. "This gives you the land. You do what you want to it."
"Father....where will you go, what will you do?" It was obvious that Lila was being sucked right into the pity her father was attempting to portray.
"I am moving to Athens. I will write to you, when I get settled."
Standing Herodotus tried to move from the table and Tensandi came around shoving him up against the wall. Lila tried to pull on his arm and Cyrene yanked the young girl back, sat her down and told her to be quiet. "You will explain to me why you insist Gabrielle is not yours."
Laughter began to pour from Herodotus. "I owe you no explanations. But actually it might be more enjoyable knowing Gabrielle is suffering over the truth. I am not her natural father. Hecuba was pregnant with Gabrielle before we got married. I was always in love with Hecuba; she was such a beauty. However, Hecuba was in love with someone else." Tensandi let go of Herodotus and stepped back. Straightening his shirt out, acting as if, the shop owner had really disrupted his clothing Herodotus continued. "The man did not love my Hecuba and raped her. Gabrielle is a bastard’s child. It was the only way Hecuba would marry me – she needed a father for that child. So as not to cause shame and to get what I wanted I married her, we moved to Poteidaia and I pretended Gabrielle was mine."
"Who is Gabrielle’s father?" The old man was surprised to hear Lila ask the question.
"That is a secret I will take to my grave. I know he is still alive....and he knows Gabrielle is his daughter. He has always known."
Shoving the man back up against the wall Tensandi had one more question. "Why the abuse? She was a child."
"She was different. She has some type of power in her mind. Only demons and evil have powers like that. And from what I experienced with that demon daughter of hers, well I was right about Gabrielle. She is the monster, not me." Herodotus grabbed Tensandi’s hand and pushed it away. "When she was small I watched her use the power. I punished her and continued to punish her. I finally made her stop using the power." Laughing hysterically he walked toward the door. "Beating her was the only way to keep control over Gabrielle."
Yanking the man back by the cuff of his shirt collar Tensandi was boiling and pinned Herodotus to the floor. Lila jumped from her chair and began pounding on Tensandi’s back. Cyrene wrapped her arms around Lila pulling her away. Angry about the cryptic game Herodotus was playing Uncle Tensandi jerked him to his feet and threw him to the wall. "You better explain your words, if you want to leave here walking on both legs."
"Go ahead break them in front of Lila."
Doing everything to contain her tears Cyrene raised her hand to stop Tensandi from blocking Herodotus’ way to the door. "Herodotus, next time you enter my inn, be prepared to die. Lila will not be able to protect you."
Brushing the pretend dirt off his shoulders Herodotus left the inn. Lila ran to her room in tears and Cyrene could not yet find it in her heart to follow the young woman. Her body was weary, as she found a chair to sit on. Tensandi sat next to her. "I can go after him Cyrene. Make the man talk."
Grabbing the man’s large hands the innkeeper smiled at her friend. "No, let him go. We do not need his blood on our hands. We would then be doing everything I’ve been telling Xena not to do." Thanking Adessa for the tea the innkeeper glanced toward the hallway Lila went running down. "I will talk to Lila and then I will send a message to Xena."
~~~ ~ ~~~~~ ~ ~~~
"Hey! Can I get out of this water before my body shrivels up and Gabrielle does not recognize me?"
Eponin and Teklai found humor in Xena’s irritation over all the little traditions a champion must complete before bonding with an Amazon Queen. "No Xena. Not until the candle of purging is gone."
Sitting in what started out, as extremely hot water, was now turning rather cool. The tub was a comfortable size allowing Xena to stretch her legs and was filled with jasmine and several floating candles. One candle burned on the edge of the tub and this one cylinder of wax had to burn completely before Xena could dry off. Eponin explained that the candle represented Xena’s willingness to cleanse any doubt from her mind regarding her bonding with Gabrielle or as it was bluntly stated. "Now is the time to change your mind, if you do not want to bond with our Queen." Laying her head back against the side of the tub Xena reflected back to the wedding in Amphipolis. With a huge smile crossing her face the Warrior remembered how beautiful Gabrielle looked and how she was barefoot during the ceremony. For Xena, this symbolism meant the world to the Warrior to have the young woman from Poteidaia so devoted in her love. Interrupting her thoughts the Warrior’s face was splashed with water.
"Time’s up Warrior. Out you come and on to the next step." Both Amazon’s seemed to be enjoying this small prenuptial tradition and Xena made a mental note to come back and torture Eponin and Teklai, when they decided to bond.
"Why do I have a feeling Gabrielle does not have to go through all of this." Drying her body off, Eponin threw Xena’s bonding garments at her.
"My friend, your young bride has to go through quite a lot to join with a non-Amazon." Helping herself to some of the food left for the Warrior, Teklai plopped in a chair by the table. Eponin who was leaning against the wall drained a mug of ale and joined Teklai at the table. Both women observed the naked Warrior standing in front of them slip the dark green tunic over her body. Silently both Amazons knew Gabrielle was extremely lucky to have a woman like Xena to make love with.
"Oh, yes, Warrior Babe, you look delicious!"
Xena turned frantically to see Aphrodite winking seductively at her. Relaxing her body she went to the table and grabbed her hairbrush. "What do you want Aphrodite?"
Aphrodite moved behind Xena and helped her with several braids. "You have such gorgeous hair Xena. It feels so sexy.....makes me want to run my fingers through those raven strands." The Amazons began to chuckle over the goddess’ attempt at seduction. Aphrodite giggled charmingly and Xena just shook her head. "Listen Warrior Babe, I’m here because of something called love. I would not miss this joining between you and that little blonde for the world. And anyway Artemis invited me."
Xena faced Aphrodite. "Look, you are not going to make me appear with sparkles and all that crap." Glancing over at her Amazon friends, both appeared amused.
Aphrodite danced casually making a circle around Xena and stopped in front of her. Placing her hands on her hips the Goddess of Love smiled. "I like you Xena. I know Ares is not happy about that, but who cares what he thinks anyway."
"Yea, yea, yea....your point." Xena found herself uneasy at the mention of Ares name.
"Warrior Babe, you look so fantastically hot in the color green. Yes very sexy. Your little blonde can not help but notice."
"Stop – she has a name." Xena spoke up defensively.
"Oh – protective of her too. That is very good." The Goddess ran her fingers up and down the muscles in Xena’s forearm. "Do you know her passion for you almost has me jealous." Xena raised an eyebrow at the Goddess of Love’s last comment. "Trust in your love for her and then...." The Goddess paused to move within inches of Xena. "...don’t ever let go of her." With a wink goodbye Aphrodite disappeared.
~~~ ~ ~~~~~ ~ ~~~
The night was warm and the torches surrounding the center of the village lit up the darkness in a magical fashion. Everyone was wearing festive clothing and had already begun celebrating even before the ceremony. Gabrielle requested the women form a circle around Xena and herself, as they exchanged their vows. Tradition stated that the Warrior would escort the Queen from her hut to the joining circle; Helena would be waiting. As the drums of the Amazon nation began to beat in a slow rhythm, Xena stood before the door of the Queen’s hut. Eponin and Teklai were standing guard outside and opened the door. Amarice came out first followed by the Regent. They each took a position, which would lead the Queen and her Warrior to the joining circle.
*Why am I so nervous. I’ve already married her once. Heck, are my hands too sweaty.* Rubbing the palms of her hands on her tunic, Xena was feeling a bit heated. *Oh by the gods..... *
Suddenly Gabrielle emerged from the hut. Dressed, as only a Queen should be, Gabrielle was wearing the finest silk garment the Warrior had ever seen. Every shade of blue grabbed and shaped around her curvaceous and muscular frame. A split in the gown over her left side from her feet to her upper thigh teased Xena, as well as anyone else, who desired the Queen as a lover. The gown was without shoulders and clung tightly to her breast, exposing much more than Xena would have liked. Knowing full well that Gabrielle would not be out of her sight tonight, she could not help but notice the wetness building between her legs at the thought of her lips claiming the soft breasts peeking through the clothing. Bowing her head with a sensual smile across her face, the Warrior offered her strong hands to the Amazon Queen.
Accepting the powerful hands of her Warrior, Gabrielle almost fell to her knees at the sight of the sexy tall dark woman standing before her. *By the gods, I can’t believe you want me. Of all the people in the world you could have, you want me. Oh how I love you Xena.* To Gabrielle the woman standing before her, the Warrior, her friend, her lover was the most gorgeous person to ever exist. Squeezing Xena’s hands several tears pooled in Gabrielle’s eyes. For only a moment the world stood still for Gabrielle to enjoy the beauty of her Warrior.
A whispering voice of the Regent encouraged the couple to walk. "It’s time my friends."
Offering Gabrielle her left arm the Warrior smiled noticing the delicate bare feet of her lover. "By the gods Gabrielle...you...oh baby, I love you." Pausing for a moment Xena kissed one of the Queens hands and whispered. "Artemis must have had a fit over this."
"Mmmm...yes. Artemis was not happy but I convinced her otherwise." Gabrielle’s response was playful and this playfulness in her voice captured Xena’s spirit totally.
As the pair walked toward the circle, the drumbeat maintained a steady and sensual rhythm. Once they were standing before Helena the drums stopped. "Xena of Amphipolis, Warrior Princess, you have asked to join with the Amazon Queen, as her mate for life. What words and symbol do you have to offer our Queen?"
Having already exchanged rings and vows in Amphipolis the lovers both knew the vows they said today would still be from their hearts but also filled with Amazon tradition, which was required, when one wished to marry a Queen. For the physical symbol both still wore the rings and believed it would be difficult to find another token to express their love so deeply. After spending a great deal of time talking, while they were at the waterfalls, both eventually agreed that they would offer a part of their path.
Turning to face Gabrielle, the Warrior took her hands. Knowing she was required to make certain statements, Xena had no difficulty with any of them. "My Queen. I swear to protect you with my life. I will also care for you, clothe you, provide food and shelter for you. When you are sick I will never leave your side. I devote my life for all eternity to only you." Noticing both Artemis and Aphrodite standing several paces behind Gabrielle, Xena decided to break the boundaries of tradition. Bringing Gabrielle’s hands to her lips, the Warrior kissed them tenderly and was pleased, when Artemis shook her head in frustration. "Gabrielle I love you deeply and with all my heart and soul. Please continue to be my friend, my lover and my mate." Just then Eponin came up behind the Warrior and handed Xena her symbol. Raising it in the air for all to see, Xena smiled at Gabrielle. "I give you my chakram, as a symbol of my devotion to our love, as a symbol of protection that I bring to our bond. This is the path I have chosen and will use it to defend your honor always."
Aphrodite nudged Artemis in the ribs and whispered. "Oooo, you go Warrior Babe. Gotta be impressed with that one, right Art?" The Goddess of the Hunt and the Amazon Nation just smirked and nodded her approval.
Helena turned to Gabrielle who was completely lost in the blue eyes of her Warrior. "My Queen have you any words and symbols to offer the Warrior?" There was no immediate response from the Queen, as her eyes were locked and held prisoner by the Warrior’s penetrating gaze of love. Gently Helena touched Gabrielle’s arm and whispered so only the couple could hear. "My Queen...it’s your turn."
The Warrior’s smile broke the hypnotic trance Gabrielle was lost in, which caused the Bard to giggle slightly. Returning the kisses to her Warrior’s hand Gabrielle looked directly into the tempting eyes of her lover. "My Warrior, my life without you is incomplete. I will never love another and will always remain loyal to you. Death will not separate us. I will fight for you, protect you and care for you through the good and the bad. My love, my heart, my spirit are faithfully bonded to no one but you." Reaching up to wipe the tears from Xena’s eyes, Gabrielle moved closer to her soulmate. "Xena, I love you more than anyone. I am yours to command. Can you find a place for me in your heart." The Regent in turn approached her Queen, handing her the symbol she would use. As the Warrior, Gabrielle raised it for all to see. "Xena I give you this scroll, as a symbol of my abiding belief in the power of our love. The contents within this scroll describe the path of peace that I pray may enter our life."
Placing one hand on each soulmate, the priestess looked to Artemis who gave a nod of approval. Extremely proud of her Queen and the Warrior the priestess raised her arms and recited several prayers in an ancient language unrecognized to all but the gods and a chosen few. As Helena said the words, they caught Gabrielle’s attention and she jerked her head suddenly to look at the priestess. Gabrielle recognized several words that she knew no one had ever taught her. Xena noticed Gabrielle’s surprised and squeezed her hands slightly hoping her Bard was okay. Completing her prayers Helena glanced at Gabrielle and smiled. She then turned her attention to Xena. "You are both of one heart and one soul. Blessings on you both."
Xena knew what came next and she could not wait any longer. Pulling Gabrielle tightly to her body the Warrior found her soulmate eagerly waiting to be kissed. With nothing but pure love Xena tenderly claimed Gabrielle’s lips and the Amazons began to yell and scream with excitement. Just as Xena demanded entry into Gabrielle’s warm and welcoming mouth the overly anxious Amazons pulled them apart raising them off the ground. Riding on the shoulders of many friends, the couple never touched the ground between the circle and the dining hut for the formal part of the celebration. The Warrior was placed first on the ground in front of the hut and politely pushed her way to Gabrielle. Taking the Queen in her arms off the shoulders of two Amazon warriors Xena carried Gabrielle to their table to the delight of the villagers.
"I don’t plan on sharing you with anyone my beautiful Queen." Sitting next to Gabrielle the Warrior kept her arm wrapped around the waist of her soulmate.
The Regent and Teklai joined the couple, sitting to Gabrielle’s right, while Eponin and Amarice sat to the left of Xena. Immediately, in the same manner as she did in Amphipolis, Amarice handed Gabrielle footwear. Gabrielle smiled at her friend and slipped the sandals on her feet. "Artemis?"
Amarice giggled. "No – me. Don’t want anyone stepping on my Queen’s little toes."
While the two women giggled and hugged, food and drinks were served to all. The Amazons began to pass by the table to congratulate the Queen and her Warrior. No one was sure how much time went by until the Regent demanded quiet and order within the hut. Standing she offered a toast wishing the couple happiness and love, which was loudly accepted and applauded by the women of the Amazon Nations. A rowdy and happy group continued to laugh, talk and enjoy the celebration. Too much sadness had covered the nation recently starting with the death of Ephiny and many other women. Thus this marriage of the Queen was welcomed, as a rebuilding of their nation. Hope once again filled the lives of the Amazons.
For several candlemarks Gabrielle and Xena respectfully held small conversations with the women stopping at the table. Finally the Warrior had her fill; she was not much of a talker to start with and began to feel a bit closed in by the surrounding Amazons. Unsure what triggered the sensation the Warrior decided some fresh air might help. Leaning over to whisper in Gabrielle’s ear she could not help but kiss the soft cheek and nibble slightly on the tempting earlobe of her lover. "Hey, I have to get some fresh air. All this talking is starting to bother me." Moving away from the bench Gabrielle grabbed Xena’s hand. Looking into the emerald eyes smiling back at her. *I think you are feeling a bit playful.* Knowing how Gabrielle’s eyes always gave away her moods, Xena mused that her lover was having a wonderful time talking with so many women. *You need to feel happy. Too much sorrow has claimed you unfairly over these past several moons.* Bending to kiss Gabrielle lightly on the lips the Warrior wondered what was really going through the mind of her soulmate. "Will you be okay, if I get some fresh air or would you rather have me stay?"
"You go ahead Xena. I know all this attention is difficult." Returning the kiss Gabrielle did not want Xena to feel smothered by the Amazons, tradition or her. "Come back when you are ready."
Not quite sure she wanted to leave Gabrielle behind, Xena was pleased that her Bard knew her well enough to give her some leeway in order to find a comfort level in which she could deal with all the attention. "Are you sure?" All of the Warrior’s heart wanted Gabrielle to be comfortable. Xena understood that as Queen, Gabrielle was expected to perform certain functions.
Looking over at the crowd and noticing that Eponin and Teklai stood behind Xena planning on accompanying her, the Bard smiled tenderly. "I would much rather be with you....but I’ll be okay. Shulaba and Amarice are here." Tugging on Xena’s hands the Warrior bent down knowing Gabrielle wanted to whisper in her ear. "Don’t be long. I love you." With a quick kiss on the lips Xena and her two companions walked out the back doorway of the hut in search of some fresh air and hopefully no clinging Amazons.
~~~ ~ ~~~~~ ~ ~~~
In Cyrene’s opinion the stars in the sky appeared to fill the sky more than normal this evening. "Where are you my wonderful daughter. I imagine you are probably with the Amazons. I’m worried about Gabrielle. What will I say to either of you when......."
A familiar voice pulled the innkeeper from her conversation with the stars and she glanced to her right and found Ephiny sitting by her. "Ephiny.....oh child. What brings you here? Is Xena okay?"
"Yes, yes...they are both doing well. In fact they were just married in Amazon tradition. Although your daughter is not too wild about all those crazy women demanding the attentions of Gabrielle." Ephiny reached out slowly and was happy, when she was able to touch Cyrene’s hand physically and could sense the strength behind this amazing woman. She knew her training, as a spirit, was almost complete. Touching was the part she had the most difficulty with. At first, Ephiny was only able to remain in physical contact for brief periods. Now she was getting the hang of this whole spirit world and was actually proud of herself. Artemis had been challenging her, as she learned the ‘dos and don’ts’ of this spiritual world and once she completed them, Ephiny would only need to develop them to a higher level. "I’m worried about you Cyrene. I know Herodotus was here and I know about the disruption he caused."
Squeezing the hand of a woman she missed terribly the innkeeper smiled at the curly head Regent. "How did you know? Wait, don’t tell me – a spirit thing, right?"
This brought a chuckle to Ephiny and the innkeeper soon joined her in laughter. "Yes and no. Believe it or not, Artemis has me watching over you. I try not to interfere but I could hear your conversation with that old man and also with Lila, so in a manner of speaking I was present."
"Why on earth would Artemis have you watching over me?" This actually puzzled Cyrene. The gods were a crazy bunch and this made absolutely no sense at all to the innkeeper.
"Because she likes you Cyrene. I have learned not to ask a lot of questions." Standing the spirit offered Cyrene her hand. "Walk a bit with me."
"Ephiny, do you know the missing pieces about Gabrielle’s past. Do you know who her real father is or even if Herodotus is telling the truth. And what is this power he spoke of?" Realizing she had many more questions than would probably be answered the innkeeper still needed to voice them. Lila still insisted on going to Poteidaia and Cyrene tired of arguing with her. Uncle Tensandi would accompany her to the village and Lila would stay with her best friend, Marlana, until she was ready to return to Amphipolis.
"No, I do not know who Gabrielle’s real father is. Nor do I know about the power he referred too. I’m afraid I’m not very much help." Ephiny stopped in the village square and looked up into the heavens at the stars that filled the sky. "I did ask Artemis. She said a higher God told her not to interfere. Ever since Gabrielle’s rebirth Artemis has been acting somewhat different. In fact all of the gods have. No one has seen Ares."
"Really....well a missing Ares has to be a plus." Cyrene and Ephiny giggled over the thought of someone finally getting the better of Ares.
Walking Cyrene back to her inn the Regent put her arm around the woman and gave her a hug. "You need to tell Xena and Gabrielle what you know. I will keep searching for answers. I will be away for awhile."
"Is something wrong Ephiny?" The innkeeper was concerned for Ephiny even though she was a spirit and now evidently her guardian.
"Yeah...I have to meet Iason and prepare for Xena and Gabrielle’s arrival to the temple in another moon."
"Ephiny, what is that all about?"
Smiling at the feisty little innkeeper Ephiny anticipated Cyrene’s question. "I can’t tell you. But it will make you happy. I have to go. See you soon." Kissing the Warrior Mom on the cheek the spirit Regent vanished, as quickly as she came.
~~~ ~ ~~~~~ ~ ~~~
Catching a ship to the Island of Lesbos the rebel without a soul mused about the fate of her partner for so many years. *I told you that stupid plan would not work. Walking into the village was ignorant. We should have waited until Gabrielle came out. She would have to leave eventually.* Deciding to hide for a while Leandra would come back for the Amazon Queen. Now it was a matter of finishing a job. The young Queen managed to have all the luck in the world but Leandra knew one day Gabrielle would slip up and she would be waiting to rape and kill her. The Island of Lesbos was the perfect place to hide out for awhile. There were many smaller islands and plenty of caves she could run too, if necessary. For now she would mingle in with the common villagers. The word of Maris’ execution was inevitable. Hearing the rumors through the bordering village, a small part of Leandra was actually glad to be rid of Maris. Watching the people on the dock get smaller, as the ship she was on moved out to sea, the rebel began to form a plan to kidnap the Amazon Queen.
~~~ ~ ~~~~~ ~ ~~~
By the time Xena and her friends returned to the dining hut they discovered the music had started, many of the tables removed and the center of the hut was packed with dancing Amazons. In the center of the crowd were Amarice and Shulaba, as well as her lover, who also had a line of overly anxious Amazon’s waiting to dance with their Queen. Jealousy began to consume the Warrior’s heart but she just stood still and tried to control it. The beat of the music was fast and no one appeared to be touching Gabrielle. Eponin who was still too new to this whole relationship thing raced across the floor and shoved through the crowd to pull an overly affectionate Amazon away from Amarice. Claiming the young redhead, Xena and Shulaba chuckled, as Eponin led a willing Amarice to a corner and proceeded to pin her to the wall with obvious sexual intentions. Soon the rhythm of the music changed to a slower pace and both Xena and Shulaba made their way quickly through the bodies of sweating Amazons to their partners. There was no way the Warrior would allow any woman to rub up against her soulmate. Just moments away from reaching Gabrielle, an Amazon Xena recognized as a sentry, grabbed on her soulmate’s hips jerking her close. Gabrielle attempted to push away from the embrace but the woman was too strong. From behind, Xena yanked the sentry from her soulmate and threw her into a crowd of Amazons.
Pulling her soulmate into her arms Xena could feel Gabrielle’s body shaking. "Baby, hey, it’s okay. No one will hurt you."
Screaming voices disrupted the embrace and the Warrior quickly spun around placing Gabrielle behind her in protection. The sentry started to charge at Xena and just prior to reaching her Stella jumped in between and her fist made contact with the sentry. Not only did she knock her several paces away; she broke the Amazon’s nose. Lillioka swiftly attended to the fallen Amazon to discover the woman was extremely drunk.
"She’s pretty drunk Xena. I don’t think she meant any harm." The healer did not have much empathy for women who drank too much, however, she also knew the Amazon and the woman had a good reputation.
"Fine. Someone take her back to her hut. Make sure she sleeps this off." The Warrior snap orders not giving Gabrielle an opportunity. Several friends of the fallen woman offered apologies and obeyed Xena’s directions. Once the woman was carried away, the music began and Xena wrapped her arms around Gabrielle. "I’m sorry for interfering...I just will not allow..."
Rubbing her fingers over Xena’s full and tender lips Gabrielle was proud of her soulmate. "Sweetheart, I love you for protecting me and you have every right, to bark orders."
Swaying slowly to the music Xena raised her eyebrows puzzled. "Bark! I don’t bark – do I?"
Resting her head on Xena’s shoulders and sliding her arms around the Warrior’s waist Gabrielle gave Xena’s butt a seductive squeeze and began caressing her hips. "Mmmm, yes you bark my love."
*Ohhh...you’re not playing fair Gabrielle.* The sensation running through the Warrior, as her soulmate caressed her body, heightened her desires for the young woman. Figuring two could play this game Xena maneuvered her thigh so it would rub against Gabrielle’s mound with each beat of the music. Sliding her hands down and over her lover’s hips a surprised awaited the dark hair Warrior, as she fondled the rotating hips. Her young wife was without undergarments.
Smiling up at her Warrior’s discovery, Gabrielle was affected by this sly little play of bodies and decided quickly that she would make things a little bit tougher for her soulmate. One of the advantages of being a head shorter than Xena was she had better access to the Warriors breasts. Without warning Gabrielle nibbled at the top of Xena’s exposed breasts and expertly darted her tongue in the fevered valley between the voluptuous mounds.
"Aaaah...Gabri...no fair." Eliciting the reaction she had hoped for the Bard continued spreading kisses and pressing her tongue against the Warrior. A strong hand grabbed her by the chin and lifted the teasing blonde giving Gabrielle no time to pull back. Sucking on her top lip, Xena quickly slid her tongue into Gabrielle’s open mouth and danced with her lover’s pink tongue. Wrapping both arms around Gabrielle, she continued to move slowly with the music not releasing her soulmates lips or tongue.
Just to make things a bit more of a challenge Gabrielle, who was loosing control of her own body, slid one hand up Xena’s inner thigh quickly capturing the wet mound. The thick wetness surprised Gabrielle and a groan escaped her throat. The Warrior matched Gabrielle’s groan with her own and released Gabrielle’s lips "Ohhh...no. That’s it. We are out of here." Grabbing her lover’s wandering hand Xena looked into the glazed over eyes of her bride. *Yes....there they are, my favorite color; your surrender.*
Doing whatever she pleased with no one to stop her, Xena lifted Gabrielle in her arms and pushed her way through the crowd who eventually saw the couple and graciously formed a path for their departure. With animal whistles and wolf calls the Amazons went crazy, as the Warrior asserted her control over the Amazon Queen.
It did not take long for Xena to have her soulmate in their hut and on the bed. Gliding her hands up through the side split of Gabrielle’s dress the Warrior quickly verified what she found earlier, that her lover was without undergarments of any kind. Growls of passion escaped through Xena’s lungs and she pulled Gabrielle into a sitting position. "You, my love, are sexually dangerous. Do you know that?"
The soft tanned shoulders invited Xena’s lips for a taste. As she nibbled and licked the neck and shoulders of her moaning lover, Xena slipped the garment off of Gabrielle. Shoving her gently to her back Xena crawled on top and feasted with great appetite on the alluring breasts and harden nipples begging for the Warrior’s attention. "Ohhh...yes Xena. Love me please...love me madly." Pleading with hunger to be taken Xena released her grasp to see the disappointment in Gabrielle’s eyes. Removing her tunic and throwing it to the side, Xena quickly pulled her boots off. Crawling next to her lover, Xena rubbed her hand over Gabrielle’s breasts and down her body stopping once she covered the wet and fevered mound of her bride. After seasons of making love to Gabrielle, the Warrior knew what pleased her. With her fingers she expertly rubbed the throbbing folds in a circular fashion and watched, as Gabrielle could no longer keep her eyes open. Her breath became rapid, as Xena increased the stroking. "Pleaseeee...Xe...take me pleasee."
"You are so wet Gabrielle...is this all for me?" Knowing full well that the deepness of her voice had an affect on Gabrielle, she was not disappointed. Gabrielle’s words no longer made any sense, as they were mixed with sounds dripping of pure ecstasy. Slowly Xena commanded the lips of her lover and slid her fingers into the deep heated shaft of paradise. Once again her soulmate surprised her and swiftly held Xena’s head with her hands demanding a more forceful kiss. Gabrielle’s hips started to rotate with Xena’s hand and she was soon unable to continue kissing her Warrior. Feeling somewhat playful Xena removed her fingers suddenly causing Gabrielle to cry out. Running her tongue across the Bard’s lips and into her ear the Warrior whispered her demand. "You...did not answer me." Bringing her fingers covered with Gabrielle’s wet juices to her lips Xena sucked each finger exotically driving Gabrielle into madness. "Is this all for me? No one else.....just me?"
"Ohhhhhh...ye...ye..pleaaass.." Well aware the Warrior had complete command of her heart and body Gabrielle began to shake and grind her mound on Xena’s thigh. "Pleasse....Xen..."
Trusting that she tortured her soulmate enough, the Warrior scaled down Gabrielle’s body and quickly took possession of the treasure belonging only to Xena. The sweetness and bitterness of Gabrielle’s wet essence almost drove Xena to a climax. Within moments she had Gabrielle climbing and reaching an orgasm that made her body buckle and shake uncontrollably. In all their moments of love making Xena realized that at this very moment Gabrielle gave her body to Xena one hundred percent. The young woman’s orgasm was extremely powerful and overwhelming and she cried Xena’s name repeatedly. Eventually the Bard collapsed to the bed and the Warrior quickly was by her side wiping the tears that took over her soulmates body. "Hey, baby...you okay?"
Unable to speak Gabrielle curled on her side and Xena held her tightly allowing her lover to cry. "Sssshh...go ahead sweetie, you cry as long as you need too. I’m here for you." Understanding that too many emotions flooded her young wife, Xena held and soothed her soulmate for some time before the crying stopped. Jumping from bed she poured Gabrielle a cup of water and brought it to her. "Baby, drink this okay."
Accepting the water Gabrielle drank it completely and gave the cup back to Xena. "I’m sorry...I don’t know what happened."
Xena hopped on the bed next to her soulmate and pulled her tightly to her body. "Mmmm, I do. Too many things fill our life right now. You know what I want to do?"
Wiping the remainder of the tears from her eyes Gabrielle leaned on her elbow to look into the blue eyes of her soulmate. "What do you want, Xena?"
"After we visit Iason, our next commitment isn’t until the winter solitise, when Tara asked us to be at her wedding. So between visits, why don’t you and I visit the Island of Lesbos and spend the warm months there?" The Warrior knew Gabrielle had never been to the island and had wanted to visit it many times. It was just an island that loved to party constantly. While celebrations were okay, she tired of them quickly and Xena anticipated that the women of this island, particularly Sappho would demand a lot of attention from her. A part of Xena was also afraid they would demand time from Gabrielle and she did not really want to share the Bard. Thinking back to several seasons ago, when Aphrodite put a spell on Gabrielle, Joxer and herself, Xena remembered how Gabrielle accused her of staying at the lake so she would not have any competition. At the time, Xena denied it but now thinking back, she had to admit Gabrielle was right. Running her fingers over Gabrielle’s shoulder the Warrior was willing to spend time on Lesbos, if it would make her soulmate happy.
"Xena...you don’t have to do that for me. I know...." Before she could finish her words Xena pulled her in for a kiss. Pressing her lips firmly against her lover the Warrior would do this for her soulmate.
"Don’t argue with me baby. All I want is for you to be happy."
Slipping her fingers through the long dark hair, Gabrielle kissed Xena on the nose and each eye finally settling on the soft full red lips of her soulmate. Licking and sucking first on the top and then on the bottom, the Bard teased Xena until the Warrior began growling with passion. Slipping her tongue into the Warrior’s opening mouth amazed the young Bard. So many men and women had kissed these succulent lips and yet Xena wanted no one but Gabrielle to ever touch them again. This overwhelmed the young Amazon Queen and thus kissing her Warrior melted her soul each and every time. It wasn’t long before Gabrielle moved her body to the Warrior’s ever tempting breasts. Circling her tongue around the harden nipples Xena’s moaning became slightly louder causing Gabrielle to suck faster. Sliding her hand down Xena’s side the young Queen fondled the dark curly hair of the Warrior’s pleasure. This was familiar territory to Gabrielle and she knew by heart every fold and tender spot that would make her Warrior scream her name. Dragging her tongue firmly over Xena’s body, Gabrielle spent a moment circling her tongue in and out of Xena’s navel and then to their shared tattoo before spreading Xena’ thighs. Brushing her nose, eyes and face through the dark curly hairs of passion, Gabrielle took several large licks over and through the folds of Xena’s silky mound. Causing the Warrior to moan her name and gyrate her hips the Bard would enjoy this moment as long as possible. Sensually Gabrielle tugged on the throbbing wetness and growled when the flavor of her Warrior slid through her lips. "Xena....spread your legs wider. I’m going to crawl right inside of you."
"Ohhhhhhh.......Gab..." The fact that Xena knew she had absolutely no control or strength to stop her lover drove the Warrior beyond the brink of sanity. Gabrielle would devour her and Xena believed she was capable of crawling right inside of her center of passion. "Yess...harder, faster....pleasssee." Begging her lover to fulfill her cries of need, the Amazon Queen with moons of experience behind her, knew exactly which direction to lick, which nub to suck on, how much pressure to apply. As Gabrielle darted her tongue in and out of the Warrior heated cavern, alternating with her fingers and spreading them wide, Xena’s body began to shake and sweat uncontrollably. Lifting her hips off the bed, Gabrielle followed her and sucked madly on her swollen and throbbing center. The spasms and climax racing through Xena’s veins exploded and she reached several peaks before collapsing in her lover’s arms.
Gabrielle was immediately by her side holding Xena tightly. "I love you my Warrior. I love you so much."
Attempting to catch her breath and open her eyes, the Warrior gave up and could only nod her head and smile. Allowing her Bard to embrace her tightly it took a while before the tremors stopped and Xena could speak. "Oh, baby...you are amazing."
Giggling over Xena’s words, Gabrielle burrowed her head under her wife’s chin and crawled partly on top of Xena. "Mmmm...caught your breath yet?"
Rubbing her hands over the muscular back of her soulmate, Xena kissed Gabrielle’s blonde head. "No, you really wore me out that time."
Slipping her hands back between Xena’s legs, the Warrior jumped slightly at the touch that still caused tingling to run through her body. "Good....because I’m not done tasting you yet." Propping herself up so she could look into the sexiest blue eyes in the world, Gabrielle began once again to stroke the softness of her lover. Purring with pure animal seduction the Amazon Queen planned to possess the Warrior all night long. "Mmmm....here I come Warrior, I want more of you...I want ALL of you."
Rolling her eyes at the sensations Gabrielle was creating with just her fingers, Xena smiled and soon lost all ability to speak. She intuitively knew her young bride would exhaust her tonight and the Warrior planned on enjoying every single bit of it.
~~~ ~ ~~~~~ ~ ~~~
Four days after the Amazon wedding the Warrior found her soulmate with Shulaba in the council chambers. Both women had been in there since sunrise and it was already close to the evening meal. Spending the day with Eponin and Amarice training new Amazon recruits, the Warrior missed her lover. Earlier in the day the scouts that were sent to Poteidaia had returned to inform Xena that the message regarding the fire was true. The upsetting part for Xena was when, the scouts reported that Lila arrived and was staying with some young girl named Marlana. Walking into the council hut to lay claim to her partner she found Gabrielle in the mist of a scroll regarding treaties.
She did not see her Warrior come up behind her until strong hands rubbed her shoulders. "Hi, I missed you."
Bending over to kiss her lover, the Warrior glanced over at the Regent. "Shulaba, I’ve come to claim my wife."
"Good, she needs to get away from all of this. In fact all of this can wait for quite some time." Pushing back from the table Shulaba stretched and yawned before bidding the couple a goodnight.
Pulling Gabrielle by the hand the Warrior led her soulmate out of the hut. "I’ve ordered us a nice hot tub of water and some food to be brought to our hut. I need to hold you and talk to you for a while."
"Mmm...you really want to talk?" Gabrielle was pleased that Xena had missed her all day and wanting nothing more than to rest in her strong protective arms but Xena wanted to talk – that was unusual.
Once inside the hut the couple found the food ready and waiting along with a full tub of water that was still a bit too hot to climb into. Deciding they would eat first and bathe later the Bard wasted no time stuffing small pieces of rabbit meat into her mouth.
"Gabrielle, I sent scouts to Poteidaia to check on the fire?"
"You did what?" Instantly loosing her appetite the Bard could not understand why Xena would do that.
"Don’t be mad; I had to know if it was true or just a lie. Evidently the house and the barn are gone and your father is no where to be found. The villagers all seem to think he is alive. Several of Herodotus’ drinking buddies claim he was threatening to burn the buildings and give the land to Lila."
Moving from the table Gabrielle started to take her clothes off, not caring if the water was too hot.
Following her soulmate, Xena stripped and tested the waters before letting her lover get in. The water was hot but comfortable enough to bathe in. Sitting in the tub Xena held her hand out which Gabrielle accepted. Within moments the Bard was sitting in front of her soulmate allowing Xena to wash her hair and back. "Gabrielle, there is one more thing. Lila is staying with some young girl named Marlana. Do you know her?"
"Yes. She and Lila are good friends. They grew up together. Lila will be safe with her." Rinsing the soap from her hair the Bard took the sponge and washed the remainder of her body. Spinning around to face Xena she could see the concern across the tanned sculptured face of her Warrior. "Okay, let’s go. I can visit my mother’s grave and see what Lila is up too."
Indicating Xena should turn around so Gabrielle could wash her back and hair the Warrior complied. "Honey, are you sure? I really believe you need to face this, but I have mixed emotions about pushing you too fast. You know I love you." Turning around to search for the green eyes that would give Xena her answer, she discovered them serious yet accepting.
"Xena, you are not pushing me. You’re absolutely right - I have to put closure to this. Let’s leave tomorrow." Quickly Gabrielle found she once again being held by the most protective arms in the universe. "I love you Xena."
~~~ ~ ~~~~~ ~ ~~~
"I’m so sorry Hecuba....I’m so sorry about all of this. It could have been so different had I known you were carrying our child." An older man dressed in the leather clothing of a warlord laid a bouquet of wildflowers over the grave of Gabrielle’s mother. Bending down on one knee the white haired man bowed his head in respect. "I loved you so much Hecuba. By the gods...I still love you so dearly." Memories flooded back to the warlord, as he thought of the young blonde he fell so deeply in love with so many winters ago. The first night he declared his love for Hecuba was still fresh in his heart. They made love only once and it resulted in pregnancy. Having no idea Hecuba was pregnant the man, who at that time was only a young warrior, ran off to fight invading barbarians from the north. When he returned to the village of Korca, his love was gone. According to his mother, Hecuba married Herodotus, was pregnant and moved east to Poteidaia. Following her, the warlord discovered he had a young daughter whom Hecuba named Gabrielle, after his mother. Herodotus was furious and the two fought until Hecuba stepped between them. The warlord had no intentions of harming his love and left in anger and in pain over his loss. From that time on he watched from a distance, while his beautiful blonde hair daughter grew. Had he known of the abuse, which Herodotus had hidden so well, the warlord would have claimed his child immediately. Never approaching Gabrielle and telling her who he was, the warlord regretted his lack of actions. "I should have taken Gabrielle and raised her. Hecuba why....why didn’t you tell me she was being beaten. I could have protected her." The warlord was unable to stop the tears that flowed from his forest green eyes. "I would willingly give up my land, my riches and my home to do this all over again."
"Excuse me...do I know you?"
The Warlord was startled by a soft voice and jumped to his feet spinning around to see two young girls standing before him. He immediately recognized the young brunette as Gabrielle’s half sister, Lila. "Uh...no, I don’t think so."
Lila and Marlana observed the old man standing in front of them. He appeared to be harmless even though he carried a sword on his side and wore the typical leather and armor of a warrior. A peculiar design was tattooed on the back of his left hand and for some reason the pattern looked familiar to Lila. "Did you know my mother?"
"What?" Just then Lila pointed to the grave. "Oh, yes, Hecuba. Was she your mother?"
"Yes....but how do you know her? Do you know my father?" Not too sure what to make of this strange man, Lila glanced over at Marlana who just shook her head and had no idea who the man was.
"Well...it’s a long story and best if left unsaid. We knew each other a long time ago. I was just in the area and heard of the tragedy." The warlord moved away from the grave. "I meant no disrespect young lady." Bowing politely the warlord walked away rather abruptly and vaulted onto a beautiful black stallion. Looking back at Lila, the man smiled. "You look a great deal like your father?"
This Lila took as a compliment and giggled easily. "Thank you. My sister actually looks like my mother."
Without saying a word the old man smiled. *Yes she does young one. And she has the same beauty.* Kicking the stallion in the flanks the warlord rode away from the village of Poteidaia.
"That was strange. Do you recognize him Lila?" The strange man intrigued the young peasant girl who was a life long playmate of Lila’s. "Did you see how fine his clothing was. He had to be more than just a warrior."
Lila glanced down at the flowers left by the stranger and then looked up in time to see him slip into the cover of the surrounding forest. "No, I did not recognize him. But, that tattoo on his hand looks familiar – like I’ve seen it someplace before."
"Maybe Gabrielle knows him?"
Kneeling in front of her mother’s grave Lila shook her head. "Hmm....maybe. I’ll have to ask her next time I see her."
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