By shadowdancer


For Disclaimers: See Part One

The next day, as they ate in the communal meal hut with the Amazons of the tribe, Xena and Gabrielle met Helena and Eponin, becoming great friends instantly. Gabrielle as happy about Helena's pregnancy as she herself was. They all agreed that she didn't have much time until the baby was born, and Helena asked Xena if she would do her the honor of attending the birth if not actually delivering it if the Healer wouldn't mind; Being the person who kept the tribe alive and healthy, the Healer, other than the Queen of course, was often one of the most powerful people in the tribe, and was certainly one of the most respected. “I would be honored Helena, but I think your Healer might not like it”.

"I will ask her, but I'm sure she wouldn't mind”.

“Eponin, you must be so proud, you'll be a mother soon” Gabrielle said, so happy for them both, but she still didn't know what to call the second mother figure in a bond mate relationship when one of the women was pregnant in the relationship.

“Yes, I am. I can't wait, and yet I wish she could stay pregnant forever”.

“Bite your tongue Ep! I AM NOT staying pregnant forever. You carry this child then if you want that”. The sparing between the two showed their intimate affection for one another despite the verbal combat and sparring.

The two went on their way, Xena promising to stop by the training grounds to observe and participate in Helena's classes with her young trainees, and Ep promising to instruct both Xena and Gabrielle in Tree travel later in the day after she performed some morning chores for the Queen. It was only two candle marks after sunrise, and yet the entire tribe was already up and about their daily lives. A candle mark later, after they had bathed in the nearby river, Xena and Gabrielle joined the tribe in their daily routine. Gabrielle joined the tribe's Bard, and Xena, as I said, joining Helena in her classes. Suddenly, a loud horn sounded, “What was that? “ Gabrielle asked Tandalia.

“It's a call to arms, the village is under attack”

“But I didn't hear anything” she said.

“When you're an Amazon, that doesn't mean anything, the most dangerous attacks are often the silent ones”.

“Come on, let's go see what it is Tanda” Gabrielle encouraged the Bard who was so much like herself, as she grabbed up her staff and ran out, her new friend right behind her.

As she ran out into the village proper, Gabrielle saw Xena running towards her from the Ceremonial/training grounds, the very pregnant Helena hurrying along behind her as quickly as she could, one hand under her very large, round stomach, the other on the small of her back for support. When they all assembled there, they found the person who most people assumed to be Alti on first sight, but who was in fact, her daughter by Dahok, Vengence, standing in the center of the square. One of the first ones to reach her, Eponin held her spear to Vengence's throat, daring her to move. “Alti…. but I thought you were dead?” Eponin stood her ground, trying to put on a brave front despite the fact that she was trembling.

Vengence stood still, keeping her hands in plain sight well away from the sword on her back and her dagger at her waist. Very calmly, quietly, Vengence said to Eponin, “I'm not Alti, I'm her daughter, Vengence, but I'm not like my mother”. Now Eponin really shook, sure that her sister Amazons could see her shaking, not that they could blame her, look who she was standing in front of.

“Yeah, right, do you take us for fools? You look like Alti; you move like Alti, everything about you says “Alti” Danalia said, coming out to stand in front of the woman.

“No, she's telling the truth, she is who she says she is, she is Alti's daughter. But you can trust her, she's not evil like her mother despite her parentage”. Xena spoke up for Vengence, putting herself between her and Eponin's spear, not only protecting her from potential harm, but purposely putting her own, unprotected back to Vengence to show that she trusted her.

“Xena, you know her?” Danalia asked, as she motioned her ever present guards back as she stepped closer, trusting Xena's judgment; if Xena trusted this Alti look alike than maybe there was plausible reason to.

“Yes we've worked together before. She's the daughter of Alti and Dahok, but she fights her evil heritage. She can be trusted, I give you my word. I've worked with her several times, and she's never turned on either Gabrielle or myself, nor tried to harm either of us in anyway”.

“Xena's right” Gabrielle chimed in, moving up to Vengence as well, “Look, with Alti let me do this?”, she walked around behind Vengence and removed her sword from her scabbard as Vengence stood perfectly still and allowed it. Xena stepped aside so that all the Amazons who had come at the sound of the horn would easily see what Gabrielle was doing.

Gabrielle moved to stand beside Vengence and held the tip of her sword to her throat. And looked at the Amazons to see their reaction and make sure that they understood the point she was trying to get across to them. “Would Alti allow me to do this? Would her daughter allow me to do this if she were as evil as her parents?, no, she wouldn't, not only would I have been dead long ago, but Xena wouldn't be standing where she is right now without either being dead or writhing in pain”.

“Alright, your point is proven Gabrielle, I will trust this one who looks like Alti and says she is her daughter, but she will give her weapons to my guards. They will be returned to her when she has left the village”.

“Alright, as you wish Queen Danalia” Vengence said as she removed the scabbard to her sword and handed it to Gabrielle who still held the sword, and then gave her the dagger as well.

“How do you know me?” Danalia asked, she had never met the woman before.

“I have my mother's mental powers, I can read any mind I choose whenever I choose. I also have the powers of the gods, given to me by my father. But don't worry, I have no intention of using them on any of you”. That little confession made all the Amazons present all the more nervous than they were before.

“What is your purpose here Vengence?” Danalia asked as Gabrielle handed the weapons to Eponin who handed the sword and dagger to another guard.

“I've come to talk to Gabrielle and Xena and ask their help, I have reason to believe my father is rising again. He's spoken to my sister Hope who told me that he's back. He hasn't contacted me yet, but he will in time. My sister has the same father, but a different mother”, here she looked at Gabrielle who stood there amazed, she thought Hope was dead. “Hope has no powers, though she does have father's evil in her. I have taught Hope to suppress the evil inbred in us both when she was resurrected. She is willing to help fight our father and keep him down in the deepest bowls of Tartarus; she's nearby and will come when I call her, or I can take us to her. She didn't come with me because she knows she is less trusted than I am and knew how you would respond to her; and she didn't want to cause her mother pain bye seeing her”.

Gabrielle was stunned, Hope, her daughter Hope was back, she thought she'd been killed by the Destroyer long ago, she should have known, you can never kill evil entirely, it comes back in some form or another.

“Well” Xena said, breaking the silence, “Let's go and talk about a strategy” and she turned and led the way to the hut she shared with Gabrielle, Vengence following, and then, Gabrielle after a moment.

A few moments later, the others broke up slowly, going about their chores, talking about the evil of Dahok returning to their world again, and praying that Xena and Gabrielle could stop him.

Part V

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