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Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
NOTE: All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.
This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.
COMMENTS: Good to the last drop. This story follows I Was Not Listening. Please feel free to comment if you wish.Greatpear@yahoo.com
The level of the seas began to recede but in the beginning it was slight and no one took notice. Time passed and a few seafaring people observed the change. By the next moon there was worry starting to show on the faces of many. Peculiar as it was, it rained almost every other day during this phenomenon and no drought was evident or aided in this peculiarity.
"Poseidon! I cannot hear your arrogant voice anymore. Now that I have you in the underground desert where you will have to endure your eternal captivity, I feel for you and would offer you a drink but we seem to be running out of water! Ha! Ha! Ha! " The voice echoed through the arid prison but there was no physical form attached to it.
The Warrior was returning from a short visit to Amphipolis, where she visited her mother, Cyrene and spent some time with her motherís brother Daeates who was visiting for a week. He was a sailor that moved about from port to port, following the winds and when they blew toward home, then home was where he would return. He was a burly sort and would have made a good pirate but he was an honest, hard working salt of the sea.
Xenaís time spent with Uncle Daeates was an enjoyable time; talking about the old days when Xena was a child and listening to her Uncle share his stories of the sea with Cyrene and her daughter. On one of his voyages, he said that he was told of an island that held the secret origin of the mermaids. It was supposedly a place called Poseidonís Well. He had that far away look when he talked about it and yet, he said, "It was somewhere off of the mainland, on one of the thousand islands from what Iíve heard. The gods watch this place closely or so I was told. A man could get caught up searchiní for such a place! Ha! Ha! Ha!"
"Uncle, you wouldnít know what to do with a fish with breasts!" Xena ribbed him and Cyrene laughed with her daughter right back at the fool.
The Warrior let her mind drift over the stories, the time spent with her mom and Uncle Daeates as she road towards Poteidaia. She was to meet Gabrielle in two days time and they were going to do some shopping several days later in the port of Thessalyia. They were also to meet Eponin and Thia while they were there and spend a few days shopping and just having fun with them. Thia had asked for some moral support because after some long talks with Eponin, the warrior finally agreed to a formal date but only if Xena and the Queen were near by. Xena thought to herself, Oh warrior, you are so brave in battle but this beautiful Amazon has you running scared. Kind of reminds me of myself.
The unexpected always seems to knock when weíre not prepared and this day was no exception but who would have guessed waited behind the proverbial door. Xena thought she saw something move quickly into the bushes just ahead, so she separated herself from the saddle and had Argo wait as she disappeared into the woods. She moved through the foliage working her way around the area and walked quietly behind three small children. They ranged in age from twelve to seven and they looked like someone had been keeping them in a pigsty.
"Stand still until the rider goes by. We donít want to get caught by anyone who could harm us." The oldest boy explained to the other two children.
Xena startled them when they felt her presence and the youngest two bolted in one direction while the oldest one headed the opposite way. She did some figuring in her head and grabbed the oldest. Her thought was that the younger children would stay near out of fear of being separated. As she grabbed the little eel, he screamed out, "Let me go! Let me go or Iíll put a curse on you!"
"Hey! Little man, calm down. Iím not going to hurt you. Where did the other two go?"
"They went to get my father. Heíll get you for this. Heís a warlord and mean as a snake." The boy carried on.
"OK, are you finished? Letís hear the truth now." The Warrior commanded.
"Aw theyíre hiding in the bushes. Come on out, I think sheís OK. Least ways she ainít harmed me yet!" The toe head said with a gruff edge to him.
The underbrush moved and two small, scrawny children walked toward Xena and the boy she held on to. There was a young girl was under that layer of dirt, maybe nine winters in age and blonde like her older brother. The smallest was another boy encased in a covering of earth, who sported brown hair. All three children had brown eyes but they were supposed to be that color. Their clothing they were wearing was ill fitting and filthy. The oldest had shoes but the others were barefoot. Xena had a hard time breathing because they reeked from not taking care of themselves.
"Where are your parents at?" Xena asked the oldest boy.
"Oh! Theyíre down the road a ways. We were just on our way to join them."
"Is that right? Xena asked the other two.
One moved her head in a yes and the other a no.
"I see! Youíre telling me a story and hoping Iíll bite on the bait and let you go on your way. Thatís it, isnít it?" The Warrior drilled them.
"We can take care of ourselves. We have been for some time now."
"Well, where are your parents?" Xena asked again.
"Theyíre dead, thatís where they are."
"Thatís right! They died on us." The littlest one said to Xena with big eyes.
The oldest explained that their mother past away about two winters ago from a bad fever. He remembered that she came down with a cough late in the fall when the season turned rainy and as time went by, she became weaker and weaker until the day came that she was no more. The childrenís father took her death very hard and although he tried to make the best of things, raising the three of them, he began to drink. He would stay out late at the taverns and although he was never mean to them, he began to drift away and lose the bond that he had with them. One morning there was a knock at the door and they were told that he had been murdered. Stabbed with a knife as he left the tavern. That was about seven moons ago and they told how they left their village so they wouldnít split them up or put them in an orphanage.
"Iím sorry for you. Iím sorry for all of you. Listen, I have an idea. Iíd like you to come with me to visit my best friend. Youíll like her a lot. She tells stories." Xena explained in a motherly tone. "But first, we need to head over to the river."
"Oh! By the way, what are you called? The Warrior probed.
"Iím Polithius, sheís Calsota and heís Daeates." The oldest boy explained.
"Daeates! I have an Uncle Daeates and I just visited with him these last two days. Remarkable!" Xena said with surprise.
"My name is Xena." The Warrior told them.
The boy agreed to bring his siblings and follow the Warrior at least to the river. When they reached the bank, she said to Polithius, "You need to be an example by getting in the water and cleaning yourself up. Your sister and brother will follow your lead. Iíll help with the little one if you like."
He eyeballed her and looked back at the river then said, "You want me to take my clothes off in front of you?"
"No! Go in the water and take them off, wash them out then throw them to me and Iíll hang them on a branch to dry. When theyíre dry, you come out and put them on. Iíll turn my back." Xena explained step by step.
The three youngsters did as they were told while Xena took her boots off and headed for the water. As she stepped off of the bank, she noticed that the river level was low and it had just rained the night before. She thought that to be odd but the kids grabbed her attention and her focus returned to scrubbing up the little guy named Daeates.
"You all need a hot bath with soap but this will do until I can get you to where we will meet up with Gabrielle. All right! Give me those clothes and Iíll set them on the bushes to dry, just over there. You three spend a little more time in the river, so you donít give my horse an upset stomach."
There was a nice breeze, which helped dry the kids clothing, so they were up on shore and dressed within a half of candlemark. Xena kept herself busy brushing Argo and making small talk with the horse while the kids replaced their clothes. When everyone was ready, Xena mounted up and the three orphans followed along behind her.
Pondering again, the thought crossed her mind, How do I get myself into these things? This is your doing Gabrielle! Always teaching me to be nice!
"Xena, weíre hungry! Can you get us something to eat?" Calsota said with the sweetest tiny voice.
Xena melted and her negative attitude vaporized. It was Xena: Warrior Temporary Mother.
"All right, as soon as we get to a tavern or an inn weíll get some food."
After about three-quarters of a candlemark, the Warrior and her brood found a tavern on the road. Xena tied Argo to the hitching post in front and entered the establishment with the trio following close behind. Xena walked up to the bar and signaled the barkeep over to where she was standing. "Can I get some food for my three companions and myself?"
The man looked over the bar and down at the three kids, then back at the Warrior and said, "Sure, be just a little while. Grab a table in the back and try to keep them under control. OK?"
"Ya sure." Xena replied as she pointed them in the direction of the furthest table. Several of the other patrons took a look and then returned to their conversations.
A quarter of a candlemark later, the barkeep came back with four bowls of stew and three mugs of milk and one mug of ale. On his second trip to the table, he brought two loaves of bread and butter. The kids ate like they had never eaten before and Xena felt so bad that she ordered seconds for all three of them. They finished their meals and the Warrior pulled out the dinars and put them on the bar as they walked out. "Thank you for the food and drink! Xena told the barkeep.
"You looked like you could use a drink, Warrior!" The barkeep laughed. "Hey Warrior, here are a bag of apples and pears. Theyíll be hungry in a half a candlemark."
It was back on the road toward Poteidaia. The Warrior missed her lover and best friend very much. Xena needed her help with this problem she had somehow become responsible for. The weather was favorable even though it had rained on and off these past days, so traveling would be slower than normal but possible. It was warm and good sleeping out doors this time of year. They would need to camp for one, maybe two nights, depending on how their feet held up. So far these kids had not been any trouble but Xena knew how quickly things could change.
Calsota really liked Xena and the presence of a woman or mother figure around. Xena picked her brain for a solid solution regarding the three children but nothing came to mind. She was worried about their future and what would become of them if she could not help.
"When we get to where we decide to camp tonight, I want you, Polithius and your little brother, Daeates to get wood together for the fire. Calsota, you can help me with supper after I find us some food." Xena explained as she tried to prepare them for the evenings events. She also figured that if they were kept busy then they might be less trouble.
They passed by several warriors who were taking a break from riding but Xena figured that because of the kids, they wouldnít make any trouble. They checked the blue-eyed beauty out as she moved by but never made a sound. Anyway, it wasnít like the Warrior and three kids had anything to steal. The four of them made it by the group without incident and although none of them said a word, the kids were scared, just the same.
The children took turns riding on Argo with the Warrior and it helped quite a lot by lessening some of the fatigue. With the air cooling down, it told the Warrior that the sun was beginning to hide among the trees and evening was moving in. Calsota, Xenaís new assistant and the Warrior found a temple a little further up the road and returned to tell the two boys. We will stay near the Temple of Hecate.
It took them all of a quarter candlemark to get to the temple, then Xena felt it was wise to move beyond it and set up camp. This would lessen the chance of any contact that they might not want with other passers by.
The blue eyed leader of the group asked of them, "Remember your chores that we talked about? They need to be taken care of. Iíll get Calsota a small branch to clean the ground area so we have a decent place to sleep on tonight." Breaking a branch off from a large bush, she showed the little girl what to do with it, by using it like a broom. Xena told the two boys to stay close to the camp when they were scouting for firewood. Stomachs were growling so the Warrior let them know that she was going to locate some dinner for them. Xena needed to move quickly because of evening approaching but she was well versed in hunting with the chakram. Within the length of a catnap, she returned with three rabbits, dressed out and ready for cooking.
Polithius had a fire started but the Warrior, making sure she didnít hurt his feelings, showed him a few tricks and the smoldering embers blazed away in a short time. Roasted rabbit filled the air and while the children waited for the main course to be served, they remembered the fruit and started making it disappear.
"Great pear!" Daeates said as he filled his belly.
Soon, they were all chomping on the rabbit dinner. There was nothing to drink but water, which Xena brought back with her from a nearby stream. Xena was surprised that the stream was so low. They passed the waterskin around and each of the children took a long drink even though the Warrior knew that water was beginning to become harder to come by. Xena had picked up a couple of extra blankets from the barkeep at their lunch stop. She figured the boys could double up and Calsota seemed pretty comfortable with her new mother figure, so she would sleep close.
The first part of the night was peaceful and the children slept like children should. Somewhere about two thirds of the way through the night a bobcat walked the edge of the campfireís light. It stirred a field mouse out of the short grass and the chase went straight across the middle of camp. When that bobcat sprung off of Daeatesí blanket covered body in an attempt to get his mouse, the little boy screamed like a banshee possessed. Everyone jolted. Xena jumped to her feet, flipped and called out her war cry, "YiYiYiYiYi!" landing on the ground with chakram at the release position but the bobcat was nothing but a memory and the mouse was deep in its hole, safe for yet another day.
The rest of the night was spent with six wide eyes all sitting upright as close as they could get to the Warrior for they all knew there was safety in numbers and Xena had the sword. There was no way she was going to make them believe that it was just a bobcat and a mouse when the Temple of Hecate, the goddess of dark magic was just down the road. As far as the kids cared or believed, it was dark magic and there were demons on the prowl.
Xena could feel the closeness every time an owl hooted or a coyote howled as the kids put the squeeze of insecurity on her. Needless to say daylight was a relief. Red-eyed and sore back, the Warrior Princess mustered her troops and headed toward the direction of Poteidaia.
Aaaaaah, what an adventure the Bard could write down and tell the world. The erosion of Xena by the hands of three, count them, three children who wore out one of the greatest female fighters in Greece. The gods couldnít destroy her, she couldnít even destroy herself but a kid with an answer for everything and two runny noses, brought her to her knees. Her mind rambled on as she walked Argo with the two smallest kids on the horse and Polithius telling Xena for the fifth time how long the fangs and claws were on the demon that attacked them last night.
Gabrielle will have the laugh of her life when I come walking in with these three. They really are pretty good kids; itís just not my forteí. The voice in her head talked on.
Poteidaia was the better part of a day away, so it looked like Xena was going to have another evening together with her new friends. She wondered what Gabrielle would suggest they do with the trio. At least she hoped the Bard would have an idea that would work. There was no way Xena could turn these kids back out to the elements.
"Hey Xena, are you daydreaming again?" Calsota asked.
"No, Iím figuring out what will happen next, so I can be prepared." Xena tried to explain.
Polithius shot back with, "I think youíre figuring out how to get rid of us. Youíre starting to think that you bit off too much and now youíre choking on us. Well, you just give the word and weíll move out of your life as fast as we moved in to it."
"Thatís not true! I have a great idea for the three of you but you have to wait until we get with my friend Gabrielle." Xena told them.
"Is she gonna be my new mother?" Calsota wondered.
"Iím not sure child, Iím not sure."
The road was starting to feel very long to the Warrior Princess but she moved forward toward an answer, she hoped. Lunch was spent in a small village that offered nothing more than fresh water and some bread from one old couple and a slice of pie for each of the children. Xena tried the local tavern but they had gone out of business due to the low population. The place was locked up. On the way out of the village they did manage to get some more apples. It didnít thrill them as much as it made Argo happy!
The afternoon went by with three kids asking three different questions and when given an answer, asking why ten times to each answer given. At about the time that the hawk takes its late afternoon flight for food, is about when Xena said, "Letís camp here. I need to rest and thereís a nice stream over that hill, where everyone can take a dip and cool off. Afterwards, Iíll catch us some fish for dinner."
The kids all broke for the hill and disappeared behind it.
"Wait! Oh, go .youíre gone anyway."
Xena started collecting wood for a fire and set the camp up. The kids came back in the time it takes to eat a meal and they all looked kind of depressed.
"You call that a stream? Thereís hardly enough water to keep the dirt acting like mud." Polithius told Xena.
"Iím thirsty." Daeates whined.
"Funny, the old couple said something about water being harder to come by from the local spring." Xena recollected.
The Warrior walked back to the stream with the kids and was shocked at what she saw. One of her favorite streams was reduced to half of what it used to be. She would have to follow the stream down a ways to find where it pooled to catch any fish for the evening meal. There also would be no bathing until they got to Poteidaia. Xena was looking forward to the cool water more for herself than for the children but first things first. She told the oldest to do the campfire and she would take his sister with her to catch some fish.
Watching baby brother was his job until they all met back at camp.
Calsota followed like a little puppy as Xena moved along the bank of the stream. The time it took to brush Argo found them in front of a deep fishing hole that had to be packed with fish, since they had limited spots to hide in the low water. Xena pulled her boots off and told Calsota to be ready to gather the fish as she tossed them on shore. Stepping into the water, Xena began to fish. One, two three, four .five six, seven!
"That should do it!" The Warrior told her little helper.
Calsota slid the rawhide through the gills just like a tiny Xena. She looked up at the Warrior and winked as a sign that she was ready. Slinging the fish over her shoulder with the last one dragging on the ground, she followed Xena back to camp.
Xena found a large boulder that was table high to clean the fish on. It was far enough from camp to keep any unwanted guests in the form of raccoons or bears from visiting in the middle of the night. Afterwards, the Warrior and her shadow came into camp. The fire was in full force and the boys were helping it along with additional sticks that they were throwing in. The fish were cooked and the three kids ate with a vengeance and there was nothing left in the time it took a horse to swish its tail.
Bellies full, the blue-eyed mother figure told all three of them that a good nights sleep was very important, since nobody got any sleep the night before. With a deep look into each one of the childrenís eyes, Xena sealed the message. The children all agreed on the condition that Xena tell them a story.
"Well, thatís usually Gabrielleís job but Iíll see what I can do. There was an old woman called Willo that was given the task of watering a special tree of the goddess Aphrodite. She was to water it from the dark of the moon until the first full moon, on a daily basis. This went very well for twenty-nine sunrises and sunsets. The last day, the old woman walked to the pond where she had drawn water all of these past days but to her surprise, the pond had dried up! She went to the nearest creek and discovered that it too had dried up! Panic set in and the old woman walked for several candlemarks to the river and as she looked over the bridge, there was nothing but a dried up riverbed. She pushed her weary body all the way back to the tree. By now, the sun was beginning to set and the day was coming to an end. So distraught was she, that the old woman knelt in front of the small tree and began to weep. The tree, which had begun to droop immediately, sprung back to life although the branches continued to hang over. Aphrodite was so touched by the old womanís dedication that she named the tree, Weeping Willow in honor of her sacrifice of tears to keep the tree alive."
"That was beautiful Xena!" Calsota told the Warrior then rolled over to go to sleep. The boys followed her lead.
They all stayed close to the fire, with Calsota sleeping right next to Xena. There was a comfort level that was recently reached between the three children and Xena. They began to know trust again.
Everyone was awake and out of the blankets early but not as early as Xena. She was very anxious to get back to Gabrielle. It seemed way too long of a separation and the Warrior needed to be with her. Xena mused about how good a hug would feel right about now.
Promising the trio breakfast as soon as they reached Poteidaia, which was about a candlemark away seemed to help in picking up the pace. The children were singing some silly song as they reached the outskirts of the village. Standing in the middle of the road was a sight for sore, sleepless eyes. Gabrielle, dressed in a big smile, her blonde hair blowing in the breeze was sure a welcomed vision for the Warrior Princess.
"Xena! What have you got with you? A new Army?" The Bard chortled.
Xena walked up and gave Gabrielle a long overdue hug. The two little ones on Argo took a hand down and the three were all introduced to Gabrielle. "This tallest one is Polithius and his little brother Daeates. The other tiny bug is Calsota"
Afterwards, Xena turned to her Bard and said, "Gods, Iíve missed you so much this past week. These little ones have no parents and I knew that if you had been with me that you would have talked me into taking them with us, so you werenít there and I talked myself into it anyway. I figured that you might have an answer to what we can do with them now!"
"Oh? Well, this will take me a little time to think things through." Gabrielle remarked as she started a deep thought process.
"While youíre thinking, letís get the kids some breakfast." The Warrior mom suggested.
"Well, I all ready ate but I could go for a little more. Weíll get my mom to cook something up. Sheíll get a kick out of these cuties anyway." The Bard concluded.
So, they moved on toward Gabrielleís parentís cottage and surprised everyone there with Xenaís find. Lila took an active hand in getting the three cleaned up after they had their fill of raisin muffins with honey, that Gabrielleís mom baked. There was fresh goatís milk and plenty of fruit. Xena also indulged in the food but Gabrielleís herbal tea was what hit the spot after a weekís absence of the brew. When the children returned with a fresh bath and clean clothes, which were appropriated from the neighbor, they took on a whole different look. They were like rosy little cherubs with full, plump bellies.
Now, the question that filled everyoneís mind was what to do with them? Xena had been wracking her brain for several days with no conclusions. She had truly hoped that Gabrielle might have a solution to this obvious problem. Who needed three children? The Warrior and the Bard left the kids go out and play while they mulled this over out in front of the cottage. For a long time there were these two blank expressions staring at each other. Suddenly, as if a great torch were lit, Gabrielleís eyes became animated.
"Iíve got it!" The Bard said as she jumped off of the ground. "Well, at least I have a possible solution."
"Well .Iím all ears Gabrielle. What is your great insight?" The Warrior said with a touch of apprehension.
"What about our friend, the healer?
"Aurislia?" Xena mouthed.
"She might be the definitive answer! She lost two children, she has an incredible amount of energy and this might be the gift she needs to help heal her heart after such a great loss. Sheís smart and would make sure that they would grow up educated and as good people." Gabrielle shared.
"Youíre amazing my love. Remind me to be nice to you later." Xena teased.
Later in the afternoon, Gabrielle sat down with the three children and explained to them that, there was a place that Xena and her wanted to take them. It would be a three day journey but she felt that it might be a very rewarding trip. Xena added, that they would be going to see a very nice woman who was a healer for people and animals. She had a beautiful farm with a cottage and a barn. This would not only be a neat adventure to go there but it might also be an answer to finding them all a permanent home.
"Youíre not dumping us off at an orphanage, are you?" Calsota asked.
"No! Not at all honey. I think you all might love this place and Iíll promise you this, if you donít like it, we will go back to my home in Amphipolis." Xena assured them all.
The bell rang on the porch of the cottage, which signaled that there was most likely someone or something to be tended to. Aurislia was in the barn but heard the sound. After closing the stall gate to secure the horse she was tending for a gash in its hindquarter, she walked outside for a look. Looking back toward the barn, Aurislia knew in her mind that the poultice was changed and a new dressing applied, so she headed up to the house to see who had called.
To her surprise, it was Gabrielle and Xena with a following.
"Gabrielle, Xena! How good to see you both!" As she gave each one a warm hug. "Letís see, it has to be at least two moons since we saw each other at the spring blossom festival in Katerini. I havenít had much of a chance to come north and apparently, you have not been down this way near Thiva. No matter, tell me about your travels and letís hear about these three little ducklings. Come children, I have many things around hear that will interest you. Hereís an apple for each and if you go to the barn, there is chicken feed. Take the wooden bowl and throw some seed around for our feathered friends. Only two bowls worth please!"
Aurislia put some water on to boil for tea and the three women talked. After everyone was caught up on past and current affairs and adventures, the focus moved to the children as Aurislia looked out the window at them playing in the yard. Her eyes took on a sadder tone, as if she was recollecting her past and the memories of her own children.
"Theyíre lovely kids. Who do they belong to?" The healer asked.
Xena told her. "Theyíre parents are dead. I found them scavenging around the countryside between Amphipolis and Poteidaia. They would have eventually ended up in some kind of trouble or eventually be taken away to an orphanage where they would only be mistreated. I felt I could do better with them and ."
Aurislia interrupted, saying, "And you brought them here because of my loss, feeling that this might help?" Xena held her breath and hoped for a miracle. "You were right in your thinking, Xena. Give me some time with them and letís see how things go. I must say, itís an intriguing idea! What Iím going to need from you two, is another day of your time, to help the kids see if this is what they really want. Do they have any idea what you two are up to with this visit here?"
"I think the oldest has a better comprehension but little Daeates just sort of follows along like a puppy. Calsota wants to be a little Xena!" Gabrielle explained how she saw it, then added. "You preconception makes this a lot easier on us, Aurislia. Then Xena added, "These children are desperate for a family, a mother, anything but an orphanage or separation."
"Weíll do whatever you need us to do, Aurislia. We both want to make sure this is right, not only for the children but that it goes well with you. You've become a good friend to us and we want to make sure that this is a good thing for you. We wonít leave unless you feel that itís time for us to go." The Warrior told the healer.
Dinner was planned after all the animals were fed or tended to for injuries or illnesses. As the day progressed, several of the sick or injured people in the area came to see the healer. There was a young man with an arrow wound to the shoulder. His brother accidentally shot him as he walked around the side of their dwelling and into the line of fire. A young woman followed after with a snakebite that she got while crossing a field. Another younger woman came to the cottage with an infection in her right eye. A sliver was found and removed, then a poultice was applied. And so, the day progressed. Polithius became Aurisliaís right hand by fetching what she needed throughout the day. The longer he did this, the better he became at knowing where everything was. The two smaller children played out in the barn and wandered around the place, perfectly content and making themselves at home. Xena laid down under a large shade tree and took a well deserved nap, while Gabrielle kept her eyes and ears open, with the intent to learn all she could from Aurislia about healing.
Evening came as evening does and they all sat out in front of the cottage, star gazing with the kids until Calsota and Daeates fell asleep on the grass. Polithius just kept on about how he was going to grow up and be a great healer. Everyone was pretty tired from a very full day and the three children were split into two rooms. The rooms were small and had been used for storage but after a quick cleaning would do just fine. Gabrielle and Xena slept in a large room off of the kitchen, which served as a waiting room in the daytime. Aurislia had her own room and had fallen fast asleep after the emotionally exhausting day. Halfway through the night, she rolled over to discover little Calsota in bed with her. The youngster was sound asleep and had a pleasant smile on her face. This touched the healerís heart and there was a bit of a healing going on within her, as it appeared that the gods were working some of their magic.
Aurislia was an early riser and had been out of the cottage for close to a candlemark. She was in the barn tending any of those animals that needed her care. Xena joined the healer in feeding the livestock while Gabrielle took charge of the breakfast chores, which included making her favorite nut bread and cooking up some eggs and smoked ham. Everyone got a mug of goatís milk. Gabrielle had gone down to the spring but it had dried up. They would have to hall water from the stream later. When Aurislia came in for her breakfast, she made some herb tea with blueberries and honey. It was so tasty of a concoction that she was prompted to make a second pot, after little coaxing.
As things were being cleaned up and the first arrivals of the sick or injured were walking up the long path that led from the road to the healerís door, Calsota walked up to Aurislia and asked, "Are you going to be our new mother? The boys asked me to ask."
"Would that be all right with you, Calsota?" Aurislia asked the child.
The little one said, "Oh yes! It would make us all very happy!" The boys nodded with large doe eyes from the other side of the room.
"Then thatís what we will do, if itís OK with Aunt Xena and Aunt Gabrielle?"
"By the gods, yes! A wonderful idea!" Gabrielle shouted with enthusiasm.
Xena gave a nod and a smirk as Calsota ran over for a hug from the Warrior. The boys ran outside and went right back to exploring around the place. Suddenly the door flew open and Polithius poked his head back in saying, "Just call me when you need my help with anything, Mom. Uh, is that OK to call you?"
"Why, yes son, it would be an honor if you called me mom," and a couple of tears escaped from the healerís eyes. Polithius ran from the door, gave her a hug and a quick kiss on the cheek, then ran out of the door calling his little brother.
The conversation then switched to when Gabrielle and Xena would be leaving and where they were headed next. Gabrielle explained that their plans for the next ten days or so, would be filled with a certain amount of relaxation and some browsing and shopping that was promised and long overdue. Xena rolled her eyes when she heard the whining from the Bard. They were heading off to Thessalyia and were to meet up with two of their friends from the Amazon village. Eponin and Thia were going down to the port first. The Warrior and the Bard were to meet up with them for a fun time but they were also to be there for moral support. This was a first, formal date between the two Amazonís and although there had been an underlying love that was on the verge of coming into bloom, both Amazonís had a need for their friends to be there for encouragement.
Gabrielle explained where the romance was with the two Amazonís so Aurislia could understand. She told the healer as best as she could, why Xena and her were picked to be somewhat chaperones for two adults. Thia actually thought it might help with the comfort level between Eponin and her. Eponin was often aloof and this was a big move for the seasoned warrior to commit not only to a date but several days together away from the village.
Xena said that they would move out about mid afternoon, so if there were any last minute change of heart with the children, then they would still be around to help Aurislia to deal with it. Everything looked like the kids had made a full commitment in their minds to their future with Aurislia and life would only improve for all.
Argo was saddled and the healer set the couple up with provisions for a couple of days. Saying goodbye to the kids was tougher on Xena than Gabrielle but they both promised to return within a moon or two and would stay for a visit. Hugs were exchanged by all and the two women headed down the road to the Port of Halkida. Even though Halkida was a seaport, they would go on, for their intentions were to cross the peninsula to the Port of Kimi where the trip would be considerably shorter by sea.
Xena and Gabrielle reached Haldika within a little less than two candlemarks and proceeded straight through to the Port of Kimi, where they needed a room for the night and hopefully could catch a small ship back to Thessalyia in the morning.
Xena was hungry and that meant that Gabrielle was famished so food was high on the priority scroll. They found a nice place to eat, along with lodging but a somewhat pricey at twelve dinars a night for the room. Three more dinars were for stabling the horse over night. They both were too tired to argue but Xena had a fit when she found out that a bath was extra.
They paid it anyway, for their intentions were to get clean after dinner and spend some valuable time saying hello the proper way with no interruptions. After all they had not been alone since before Xenaís trip to Amphipolis. The room was on the ground floor and you could see the water and hear the gulls. It was a soothing sound, almost as soothing as the sound of the hot water being poured into the tub.
Soon things were going to get very hot, Xena thought to herself.
So many times the two of us found ourselves in similar settings. Sometimes it was out under the stars or in a cozy cave but never did it become mundane or average when we made love to each other. Perhaps, that was it! We made love to each other and not just had sex. This was different because of the emotional bond between us. It was the passion of not taking but giving pleasure to your lover. These were thoughts that filled Gabrielleís mind as she pulled off her dusty clothes and thought about the first contact with her Warrior in the tub.
My gods sheís beautiful! Her body is as poetic as her storytelling. I want to give her pleasure; I want to take to her new places by making slow moving, tender and poignant love to her. She is why I continue on. Her actions feed my spirit and drive me, guide me. I am my own person but in her light I shine as a brighter jewel. It is all she is that helps make me all I am. Xena noted in her mind.
They both climbed into the tub at the same time. The water was hot, soapy and then Xena added some crushed lavender flowers, which gave the water a beautiful bouquet.
"Could you wash my hair first Xena?" The Bard asked her lover.
"Sure, come over and turn around." Xena directed.
The Bard spun around in the water and backed up into Xena. Slipping her hands around each side of the blonde storyteller, the Warrior cupped her breasts and lifted them slightly. "Oooo! That feels nice!" Gabrielle said as she tilted her head back and received a soft kiss from her lover. Xena released her, as hard as it was to do and began the washing. It was hypnotic for Gabrielle, as she became relaxed, drifting off to somewhere deep within the resources of her mind. Xenaís fingers worked their way down to the scalp, getting not only the road dust out but massaging the Bards busy head.
Xena turned her sideways, tilting Gabrielleís head back into the crotch of her arm. She took a large wooden ladle and began slowly pouring the water over her head, rinsing the soap out of her hair. When she was close to finishing, the Bard opened her eyes and pursed her lips. The blue-eyed lover lifted her head slightly to her mouth and they slow danced with their tongues for awhile.
Gabrielle finally remarked, "Weíll never get clean at this pace my love. Itís your turn to have your hair washed."
Xena changed positions and they repeated the intimate wash and rinse, then the scene turned to scrub the bodies clean. At first, they worked on themselves, then they worked on each other. When they were finished, there was a glow about each of them.
Xena finished drying herself off first then started combing out the snarls until her hair was a smooth black sheen. The Bard was also working on her hair when she caught eye of the Warrior watching her. Always the tease, the Bard stood up dropping her towel to the floor and flipped her hair forward over her head, combing it out, then flipped it back. Naked and seductive, she walked over to the chair where Xena was sitting and sat down on her lap. She gently tugged on one of the Warriors nipples in a toying fashion, as she kissed her lover passionately. Their lips parted and they tasted each other much more feverishly than before. Xenaís thighs were wet from her loverís excitement but that only made the flames jump higher. One easy pull on the Warriors arm is all it took to get her to follow the Bard to the bed.
"Take me Xena, please take me!" The Bard moaned as the Warrior skipped a few stops and pulled one leg open by lifting it by the knee. She gave the inside of the thigh a long lick. Xena alternated kisses back and forth between the two thighs but this did not last as long as the thought of doing it lasted in the Warriorís mind. The blue-eyed lover could hold off no longer and she slid her tongue deep into Gabrielle as the sensitive lover jerked at the initial contact. Xenaís mouth and tongue seemed to work independently of the rest of her body as she sucked easy on the Bardís center, bringing body tremors to her lover. Xenaís hands reached up the Bardís torso and found her breasts, squeezing and caressing, then rubbing the nipples, which grew at each touch.
The Bard was exhausted but refused to collapse until she got to go down on her Warrior. Xena was all ready on the edge, so when the Bard had her lay on her back, the raven-hair beauty just opened up, showing her swollen flower. Her young lover moved her tongue through the soft hair and began to taste her own personal ambrosia. As far as Gabrielle was concerned, her lover was a goddess and nothing could be better than to be with the one whom holds your heart.
They both looked deep into each otherís eyes when they had finished pleasing their bodies and realized that their souls had been touched too.
Sunrise brought an overcast sky and choppy waters but the women were on a mission of love, not to mention good times. Needing to get to Thessalyia, they first had to find passage. They reached the docks and started inquiring about a ship that might be headed their way. When Xena checked with the innkeeper the previous evening, there was nothing moving out in that direction. They ran into a sailor who had just gotten off of a ship in the middle of the night. The vessel was called The Storm and had set anchor under the cloak of darkness. With their friends arriving late tonight from the Amazon village, the Warrior and the Bard were hoping to get to Thessalyia before another evening passed.
This ship would be adequate if they could secure passage on it but it was what Xena called a dark ship. They would make this work but under less hurried circumstances, the two would have picked another ship. As ships were, this one carried a feeling of bad luck about it.
After some quick talking and of course, getting robbed by the price the Captain was asking, they at least came up with a straight shot to Thessalyia. The cost of passage for the two of them plus Argo was forty dinars. There was no working a deal with this low life. You paid his price or found transportation elsewhere.
Xena made sure that there was no miscommunication with the Captain and the crew, regarding the boarding plans. The ship was to leave the harbor at midday, so Gabrielle was waiting on the dock with Argo early enough to gain access to the ships hold. A candlemark later, they were on the deck and Argo was down below as the ship began to pull away from land, following the coast to the north. Everything seemed to be going well but the Warrior was on her guard just to be safe anyway. She thought she had seen a familiar face as they were coming aboard but she couldnít place it just yet and had not an opportunity to look upon it again.
The clouds were beginning to break up and there was periodic sunshine filtering through. It felt good when the rays landed upon them as they stood by the railing of the deck. Some of Gabrielle and Xenaís most interesting discussions often took place on a ship deck. Their conversation was focused on Aurislia and how she and the children were getting along. Xena wondered if three children might be too much to handle for her. Somehow though, it felt like a proper fit for all four of them and Polithius looked to be a great help to the healer. There were great possibilities for him to follow in his new motherís footsteps.
Their talk took an unusual turn as Xena asked Gabrielle if she noticed how low the waterline was, when they went down to the docks in the morning.
"Yea, now that you mention it, I did notice the pilings were showing more than normal. You could see the old water marks. Hereís something else; when I went to the spring at Aurisliaís place, the spring had dried up. That spring has been active every time we visit." Gabrielle said with a wrinkled brow.
"Thereís something happening and Iím not sure what it is but Iíve seen some other signs too. I took the children to the river when I first found them because they were very dirty and in need of a bath. It was there that I noticed the low level of the river and thought it odd for there had been several days of raining on and off. Iíve seen other examples too but I havenít an answer for it. There was no way it could be a coincidence." Xena remarked as she looked out over the water.
The Captain must have thought about this also, for he had a mate checking the depth through the narrows so they did not tear out the bottom of the ship on submersed boulders. Gabrielle watched the sailor as he tossed his line out, hit bottom with the weight and counted the depth by the length of the line that had been fed out.
As she turned her attention to Xena, she asked, "How is everything with your mother, Xena?"
"Oh, sheís doing fine and she wanted to know if you were keeping me out of trouble. I told her, every night! We had a real good time visiting with my uncle; in fact, he should be back to the sea by now. He was telling some wicked stories about mermaids and some of the odd places heís been."
"Odd? We could tell him about odd!" Gabrielle laughed.
"Mom was sniffing around to know where our place was." Xena said without concern.
"You didnít tell her, did you?" The Bard questioned.
"No! We agreed that no one but us would know about our special place. Besides, what Mom doesnít know wonít come back to cause her trouble if trouble shows up at her door."
Gabrielle started munching on some nut bread she had placed in her bag for just this kind of hunger emergency, while the Warrior was sitting on a small barrel working an edge to her sword. The attack was without warning but not unexpected. The sailor walked the deck as if he was just passing by on his way to another part of the ship, when he lunged at Xenaís back with a long knife. She forward rolled and turned as he missed his mark, then the fool tried again while he faced the Warrior and she sent him off to Tartarus with a single thrust of the sword.
"This is the character I recognized when we boarded. Does he look familiar to you, Gabrielle?" Xena asked.
"I think he used to ride with Callisto. Probably just trying to make a name for himself by killing you, Xena."
"He made a name all right! Dead!" She pointed out.
Two sailors and the Captain came down to the deck area. The sailors removed the body and the Captain said, "Sorry for the inconvenience, Xena."
"No inconvenience ..I needed the practice." She replied with a caustic tongue.
They dropped anchor just past the dinner hour and there were still a candlemark or two of daylight left. The deceased had a quick burial at sea with no words or tears before they arrived in port. It was his second voyage and no one knew him or would miss him.
Both women were excited to connect with their friends. This gathering had been planned for about a good moon. The two travelers were to meet up with Thia and Eponin, at the Blue Parrot Inn and let life unfold after that. There was the formal date that was to take place but Thia was arranging that. Everything else was to be spontaneous. The godís aside, they needed a good time to clear their heads of all that had happened lately.
The Blue Parrot Inn was a very nice establishment and catered to a mixed clientele. There were merchants and seafaring men, actors and actresses, musicians and bards, warriors and warlords. If you could think of them, they were somewhere about. It was a very large inn with lots of drink flowing and fun being had by all. The stable was directly behind the place and was fairly new. Argo would be pleased to stand on solid ground again.
There was a note for Gabrielle at the bar that read, My Queen, We hope your journey was pleasant. We will join you after our date. I am to meet Eponin at The Sea Horse Tavern and Inn for dinner. Pray to the gods this will go smoothly. We are both nervous! Your Servant, Thia
Gabrielle handed the note to Xena and laughed as she leaned over and collected a kiss. After Xena read it, she smiled and said, "Lets get a drink and order a bath, then meet the lovebirds down here."
"That sounds good to me." The Bard agreed.
Eponin walked into The Oar, which was a small tavern near the docks. She had a candlemark to kill before she had to be at her rendezvous so she stopped in for a little courage because she was nervous. When she walked through the door of the tavern she ran into three undesirables coming out and the big one said, "Youíre in my way." She attempted to push Eponin but the Amazon pushed back and went inside of the place. Sitting at the bar she ordered a mug of ale and tried to kill time by thinking things through. The warrior was a little nervous about doing this. Being pretty much of a loner, it was difficult to open up to someone. It was about a half of candlemark before the warrior was to meet up with Thia at the Sea Horse tavern. Finishing her ale, she paid the bartender and walked toward the door. It was a short trip to the Sea Horse and the warrior cut between the buildings to save some steps.
"Thwack!" Was all she heard.
Eponin was blind-sided by the punch to her head. She dropped to her knees and the attack continued as she was hit in the back of the neck and the face. She fought hard to get to her feet but was no match for the three warriors who surprised her. They threw her against the wall of the building and continued to beat her. She got a few good punches in but really didnít have a chance in Hades of winning or even defending herself. They worked her over for quite awhile and continued to kick her when she was down.
The leader said, "When I say that youíre in my way, you get out of it or youíre getting a beating!" She said to the crumpled body of Eponin. "I donít give a night with Aphrodite, if sheís an Amazon or not." The arrogant warrior shouted in the direction of her companions. "Iím tired of hearing how wonderful life is in the northern Amazon territory. Iím sick of hearing about the new Queen up there and that Warrior bitch Xena. This oneís lucky that I didnít slit her throat. Anyway, pretty soon there wonít be enough water around to wash this thingís wounds off. They all can die as far as I care."
They left Eponin on the ground between the buildings hurt, but not dead. The strawberry blonde took the lead as they walked away and the other two warriors fell in behind her. She was an extremely big woman who stood almost nineteen hands. Larger than most men, she had an attitude of a gladiator. As if she knew that eventually death would come knocking and she wanted to get all of her licks in or as many as she could, before she went down. She was plain looking with several scars from earlier confrontations she must have won but not without taking a few shots. She was a strong individual and boasted about it by the way she carried herself. Her two companions were the kind that seemed to prey on the weak. The shorter of the two was full of bad Karma and made her sister look like a Hestian virgin. The smaller of the two appeared to be intimate with the leader and bent her ear from the look of things. They laughed as they moved away from the mess that they had made out of the Amazon.
Thia was concerned on being late and when she arrived and there was no Eponin, she began to panic that the great warrior had changed her mind about the date. Waiting and listening to her heartbeat loudly in her chest, Thia worried that she had pushed to hard, too fast. After all who would want anyone that could not talk, she thought. Thatís just my insecurities haunting me. It doesnít make me less of a person; it only makes me a different person. Of course, maybe Iím just kidding myself?
She motioned the bartender and pointed to the ale.
"You want one of these?" He asked.
Thia nodded her head in agreement. Then she looked around the room once more to make sure she had not overlooked Eponin. The bartender brought her a mug and a smile a short time later.
I hope everything is fine with Eponin and there are no problems with us. Thia thought.
Eponin regained consciousness then struggled to get back on her feet after she. Slowly she aimed herself in the direction of the Sea Horse tavern, moving one foot in front of the other. A couple of passers by gasped at what they saw when the Amazon stumbled across their path. She got to the front of the tavern, moved slowly up the steps and through the door. She struggled toward the center of the room and Thia spotted her date. Her mouth dropped open in shock at the sight before her. The woman had been beaten bloody and looked horrendous. One man stumbled backwards out of the way, while a woman screamed as Thia leaped across the table that separated the two women. Slipping an arm around Eponin to support her weight while the other hand was on her knife, she moved her out of the middle of the crowd. The bartender came over and told Thia that there was a room behind the bar that she could take her friend to. They followed him and he opened the door for the couple. Thia got Eponin seated on a chair so she was able to make an assessment of the damages. The bartender returned, gently knocking and opened the door slowly so not to startle either of them. He brought a basin of water, wash cloth and a towel.
Thiaís eyes told the bartender thanks and she began to clean her friend up. Tears streamed down her face as she worked on Eponin but the warrior showed no emotion. She stared straight-ahead apparently contemplating revenge. The warriorís nose was broken and one eye was swollen closed, the rest were scrapes and minor cuts to her face and neck. She had a couple of broken ribs, one sore torso and a large bruise above her right breast. Thiaís mind was running as fast as a runaway horse. Thank the gods your alive, she thought.
There was another soft knock at the door and the bartender returned with bandages and a salve. He said, "If you need anything else, let me know. I took the liberty to set up a room upstairs for you. Number seven is on the door."
Again the sandy blonde showed her gratitude by reaching out and holding is hand between her two hands as a gesture of thanks. Eponin looked up and through a swollen mouth and a split lip said, "Thank you."
When Thia had the warrior cleaned up and bandaged she put her hands lightly on both sides of her face and looked deeply into her eyes. As hard as she tried to hold the tears back she could not and they ran freely toward the floor. She gently kissed Eponin on the cheek, then pointed to go up stairs to the room.
She knew that she needed to get a message to the Queen and Xena, who were also in the city of Thessalyia by now, she had hoped. They would be concerned when the two Amazons didnít show up later that evening. After the date, they were all going to meet at the inn that they were staying at but Thia knew that Eponin should get some rest and not be moving around in the shape she was in. They didnít need to run into that trio again, not tonight anyway.
When she got Eponin settled into bed, Thia waited awhile to make sure the warrior was going to be OK, then she wrote two notes, one for the bartender and one that she wanted him to deliver to Xena. The Amazon found him downstairs and after he read his note, he nodded and said, "I will send a boy I can trust. He will leave immediately."
The boy went out of the front door of the Sea Horse Tavern and moved down the street in the direction of the newer section of the city. He was to wait at The Blue Parrot Inn until he had given the note to Queen Gabrielle or Xena. Leaving the Amazon village yesterday, they arrived at the Port of Thessalyia this morning. Their plans were to spend several days just having a good time together, however, everyone knew without saying it out loud that there might be romance in the air. Xena and Gabrielle were to arrive this night and check into their room. They were all to meet about a candlemark after sunset and have a couple of ales and some laughs.
The boy slipped through the door, stayed close to the wall and scanned the room. His eyes locked when he saw the tall, dark haired Warrior who commanded the room by her presence. Next to her was a blonde beauty and the boys eye level was even with her breasts and him being all of fourteen winters, looked real hard at this vision. He then remembered why he was here and his duty to the bartender. Moving closer he said, "Xena?"
Xena looked down at the boy and said, "Yes?"
"Is that Queen Gabrielle?" The boy asked. At which time, he placed the parchment into her hand and left like a cat threatened with water. Gabrielle and Xena looked around, then at each other and finally at the note.
Xena opened it and said, "Oh no!"
Gabrielle grabbed it and read,
ĎEponin was attacked in an alley. She is hurt but will be OK.
We are at the Sea Horse tavern. The owner gave us a room.
Iíll let her rest tonight and see you tomorrow.í
Xenaís eyes took on the look of the hunter and she said, "I donít know who did this to Eponin, but I will make it right."
Gabrielle added, " I wish we could go to Eponin but I understand Thiaís concerns and she will take good care of her, Iím sure. I just feel so bad for her. We should have been there."
"I feel bad too but much of it is up to the Fates on how life unfolds Gabrielle. Even knowing that Lao Ma knew my future tells me that there must be something that has its hand on us. Something greater had to open the door for her to gain access to that knowledge. Maybe there is a reason for everything that happens. Take a look at the Horde for instance. Everyone including me thought that we couldnít communicate with those savages but you found the key Gabrielle and we began to understand them. It didnít make them different, it made us different finding that out. They were who they were before we knew more about them. Eponin had this happen to her for some reason we might never know, but it might be there to make a significant difference in her life. Of course, this is all my own speculation."
"Hey!" Gabrielle touted. "Iím the one whoís supposed to be philosophizing and searching for spiritual answers, arenít I?"
Thia sat in a chair that she placed up against the wall. Facing the door of the room just to be safe, she stayed attentive to her night watch. She didnít really think there would be any more trouble but it was better to be safe and prepared. With one eye open she slept, not only to be ready for trouble but she wanted to make sure that if Eponin needed her for anything she would hear her. Thia looked over at the warrior from her vantagepoint and pondered on how the night unfolded. It was supposed to be a sweet evening of dinner and exploring the possibilities, at least in Thiaís mind of romance. This was going to be a first date with someone she had been in love with for a long time. Thia had deep feelings for Eponin ever since she could remember. They grew stronger by the time she reached seventeen winters and now she was twenty-two winters and it was unbearable sometimes to have to look but not touch, to hold all the words inside that she would share with this woman should her feelings for Thia be the same.
She thought about how she would like to get her knife on the throat of the animal that did this to her friend. The young Amazon dozed off with revenge on her mind.
When the moon was high over head, Thia opened her eyes. At first she was a little displaced, then it came back to her and all that had happened. She got up, walked to the edge of the bed and took a look. Eponin opened her own eyes, smiling a little smile that must have hurt. Thia ran her hand softly over the warriorís cheek then leaned over hesitantly at first. Continuing closer, she brushed her lips against the lips of this woman her heart desired. The young woman started to well up with tears so she moved back to the chair, allowing the warrior the rest that she needed.
A candlemark later, Eponin got out of bed and called softly to Thia in such a way, as not to surprise her. The sandy blonde jumped, slightly startled from being tense to begin with. When she focused, Eponin said, "Come share the bed with me my friend. No one will come and you need to get some sleep too!"
Thia removed her boots and moved cautiously on to half of the bed while Eponin climbed in on the other half. Thia thought, I would have given a year of my life for this, under different circumstances. The wounded warrior rolled over and faced Thia. Reaching out with her hand, she stroked the younger womanís hair, then closed her eyes and fell asleep. They both slept until morning.
When they opened their eyes, Thia had her arms around Eponin but backed off when she came to her senses. She still wasnít sure of herself or if Eponin had any of the same feelings for her. Under the circumstances here, Thia felt it was not appropriate for exploring her hearts wants and needs.
They both got up out of bed and Thia went down to find the proprietor who had been so kind the night before. He was cleaning up the bar and was still closed for the morning hours. Thia wrote down her questions that he read, then nodded in agreement with them.
"Give me a half of candlemark and Iíll have a bath ready for her. The room is right next to where you were last night. Iíll have everything sheíll need in there. By the way, my name is Zolono."
Thia looked deep into his eyes and grabbed his hand again, holding it close to her heart to let him know how much his kindness meant to her. "You remind me of a daughter I have not seen for many winters. You and your friend are my guests and are always welcomed here." Zolono told her.
Thia went back upstairs to the room and gave Eponin the hand visuals, explaining that a bath was being prepared for her and would be ready shortly.
The warrior spoke to Thia, saying, "I want you to help me, to join me in the bath. I need your help washing. Iím very sore and my face is a mess. Please do this for me Thia."
Thia could hardly believe what she was hearing and tried not to jump up and down with happiness. She was asked to join her hearts desire in the bath. Of course she realized it was to help the wounded warrior and nothing else, still
The gods are too kind or they toy with my heartstrings. She thought.
The two women entered the bathroom and began to remove their clothing. Eponin was an excellent physical marvel and might have been killed if she wasnít in as good of shape as she was. She was shorter than Xena and therefore had a stockier build. Remarkably strong, she worked out in the Amazon village by lifting logs of various sizes. Even with all of her muscles and strength she was still a beautiful woman who could turn the head of any other woman or man. Thia could not tear her eyes away from her magnificence but she also was concerned for the many bruises that her body suffered in the fight. From what Thia could see, Eponin had been kicked in the ribs repeatedly, as well as other areas. The tops of her thighs were all bruised and there were bruises all over her back as well.
Eponin was her own spirit, a free spirit that stayed aloof from most people but not all. There were some that she would die for, so strong was her bond when you were allowed inside. The warrior climbed into the hot water and let out a groan when she settled in. Thia removed her tunic and it was Eponin who took inventory this time. The sandy blonde was lithe and quick as her body suggested. Her breasts were firm and supple. At this moment they hungered for the warriors mouth. Thia had fair skin and the blonde patch of hair that covered her mound was thick and a deeper brown. She moved like a mountain loin sure-footed and without sound. Her hands were more the hands of a musician or an artist. The fingers were longer and gave one the impression of a gentle touch but place a knife in that hand and she was lethal.
The water barely moved as she entered the tub and her eyes never left Eponinís. Her mind was on fire at the thought of touching the warrior. To wash her and to move her hand over the surface of this remarkable person made her dizzy. There was a little fear in her heart that she might forget herself and do something foolish.
Eponin asked, "What are you thinking, my friend? Does my face look that bad? Are you ..repulsed at how I look?"
Thia shook her head. "No." She was almost angry at Eponinís words. She paced her response and took her time to let the warrior know that she still thought she was beautiful and the black eye, the broken nose and the many bruises would all fade away in time. She took the wash cloth and soap, lathering it up; she began to wash the warriorís back and shoulders. She worked carefully on her neck and face, going carefully over the areas that were tender and sore. Thia dropped the wash cloth and it drifted down into the water. She reached down and her hand landed right between the warriorís legs and Eponin parted them slightly or so Thia imagined. She retrieved the wash cloth blushing and continued with washing her friend. She handed the warrior the soap when there was nothing left to do but her personal areas and her hair. As hard of a decision as it was to make, she washed Eponinís hair. The young blond was a complete shambles by the time she was finished with Eponin.
Had the warrior felt better, Eponin would have pursued a more intimate time in the tub but she was still messed up and a day or two would help, revive her spirit and her hunger for this interesting lover to be. Eponin kept her feelings well hidden but there was something about this woman that pealed away her elusiveness and for the first time in her life she thought she might have found a serious love interest.
They dressed and when they came out of the bathroom and walked into the tavern they ran into Xena and Gabrielle.
"Dear gods!" Gabrielle said with shock when she saw Eponin.
Xena stayed quiet until everyone calmed down, then asked, "Are you all right?"
"Iíll be fine." Eponin replied "I just got my ass kicked, thatís all."
"Who did this to you?" Gabrielle said with anger in her voice.
"It was a big woman, along with two others. She had reddish blonde hair and tried shoving me out of the way when I entered a small tavern called The Oar. I shoved back but I never figured them to wait for me outside. They blindsided me and just kept beating me until they got tired."
With that said, Eponin sat down and everyone joined her.
"My name is Zolono. We met last night. If you give me half of candlemark, Iíll have breakfast for all of you. Some eggs, sausage and biscuits?"
The Bard said, "Please! That would be great!"
Eponin looked up and said, "Thank you for everything, Zolono. Youíre a good man."
"It is nothing" Zolono replied.
While they were waiting for breakfast, Thia let everyone know that she would get her revenge for what was done to Eponin. The warrior smiled at Thiaís fury and told her, "My dedicated protector, how am I ever going to repay you for all youíve done and all you would do, if given half a chance."
Xena shot Eponin a quick grin as she read between the lines at what had just been said. The other two believed that Eponin was talking about Thiaís dedication to evening up the score.
Through the door of the tavern came an unlikely hero but one that would prove to be a friend to the four souls who sat together. "Who would have thought that the road would be dusty today! Iím parched and in need of a fine wine." The dandy exclaimed. "Did anyone hear my plea? Dear gods! Amazons and me without any protection."
"You neednít worry mister. Youíre not our type and if you want a wine, go to the bar. Donít whine here." Xena said with a cup of sarcasm.
"Well, I never!" The dandy huffed.
"Donít suppose you did!" Xena shot back.
"By the way, my name is Hetros and I am performing at the Maiden Theater, starting tomorrow night."
Zolono came in with the breakfast, placing a plate in front of each of the women. He left and returned quickly with four spice teas, then disappeared again returning with a vase full of fresh flowers and set them in the middle of the table.
"You are too much, Zolono! Thank you for your generosity and your kindness. The Amazon Queen said with a warm smile.
"Would there be any more breakfast? Hetros needs to eat too!" The pathetic whiner begged. "After all, getting attacked and robbed by those three women took the life right out of me."
When he looked up from his wine, all four warriors surrounded him and they all were looking at him very hard. Xena was first to ask, "What three women attacked you?"
"And robbed me!" He added. A peculiar looking individual, Hetros stood tall and thin. A pale sort of creature, he looked close to starvation and talked in an actorís rhythm and air. The women would have dismissed him as a harmless irritant but after what he just said; they were captivated by his every word.
"My, my! What happened to you once lovely?" The fool uttered in the direction of Eponin, while Thia grabbed him around the throat in a flash.
"Iíd be careful of what you say actor. Sheís kind of taken by the little lady." Xena chided Hetros.
"My deepest apologies for being misunderstood. Let me tell the tale of my misfortune and you judge if I was wronged by fate." Hetros babbled.
"Just tell us what happed." Eponin ordered.
"I was riding towards Thessalyia and my horse came up lame. I got off of the crippled stallion and checked out the damages. While I was examining his hoof, this tremendously large peach haired woman and her two companions kicked me in the soul of my being and I landed on the ground. I begged mercy and they laughed at me! Then they stole my money, my jewelry, my food and water. The big one was going to kill me but her little sidekick said something about Poseidonís Well and the three of them just left me there with a lame horse. I was hungry and without any dinars!"
"What direction were they heading in Hetros and exactly where did this all take place? Xena asked impatiently.
Hetros replied by telling them, "It happened right outside of a village called Katahas."
"Why, thatís on the far side of the bay, in the direction of the Temple of Poseidon." Gabrielle noted.
Xena shouted for the bartender, "Hey! Zolono, please get him something to eat. We wouldnít want him to pass out on stage tomorrow, would we?"
Xena turned to the others and they returned to the table they had come from. As they looked across from each other, you could have heard a feather drop if it wasnít for the noise coming from the bar.
Xena told the rest of the women that she knew of someone in the area that might be able to tell them more about the three women ruffians and possibly what Poseidonís Well was all about. Xena suggested that Thia and Eponin stay at the Blue Parrot while she and Gabrielle went to seek some guidance. Xena knew that Eponin did not need to get into anything just yet.
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