THE CURSE - Part Four


by Anita Louise

copyright 9/98

Chapter Twenty Three

The two women had just set foot on the boardwalk. Mary approached Sea, her
eyes surveying the area. "What now?"

Turning, the woman replied, "See if we can find Amir."

Mary took several giant steps to catch up with Sea, the redhead was
barreling straight for a crusty looking man. He was busy unloading a catch
of shellfish when they neared. As he turned and leaned over to grasp a net,
he found himself staring at a pair of very shapely legs. His eyes traveled
upward, past the waist, hesitating on the ravenous bosoms then finally
making their way to the face. He staggered back, dropping a net of shellfish
as they cascaded onto the walkway. "Ann Bounty, thought you were dead!"

Sea took two steps, grabbed the man by the front of his shirt and pulled him
toward her. "Running away, not very hospitable of you." The man was flailing
his arms as he cried, "Let me go! You have no right to come in here and do

Mary had folded her arms across her chest, a pleasing smile etched across
her lips. "Sea, don't want to hurt the man, can't tell us anything if he is

His eyes darted to Mary then back at the woman who was holding him in the
tightest grip he had ever known. "De--Dead! Please lady, I have done nothing
to you!" He stuttered, his eyes becoming wild.

Sea was holding out her left hand as she said, "The knife, Mare, give it to

Mary quickly handed her the dagger she kept in her boot. Sea brought it to
the man's throat, her voice threatening, "Now that I have your undivided
attention. I am not a lady! I would soon as not feed your gizzard to that
raven over there!" He stopped moving and Sea growled, "Another boat came in
within the last day or two. There was a beautiful blond woman and two men on
board, tell me where they have gone?"

His eyes darted toward Mary once more as he pleaded, "Please can't you do
something to stop your friend. You won't just let her kill me in cold blood
will you?"

Mary's eyes were cold and so were her words, "I'll help."

The knife Sea held was now touching flesh. Her eyes slanted as she said,
"Either you tell me what you know now, or say good-by to this world!" He
cried, "I'll tell you all I know, please don't kill me."

She released the pressure she had on the knife and said, "Talk."

"There was another boat, it arrived yesterday." Sea quickly asked, "The
woman, the men were they all right?"

He began to shake, his words falling as he stuttered, "They were alive."

Mary had stepped forward, it was plain to see she was worried and it was
then Sea whispered in the man's right ear, "Alive? You had better tell me
just what you mean."

He nodded, "The woman, was bruised about her face, the men were also." Sea
had tensed up and Mary stepped forward grasping the hand that held the
knife. Gazing at the way Sea had taken the news she felt this man had little
time left. "Sea, get control, kill him now and we never know where they

Taking a deep breath, Sea glared at the man, "Where are they?"

His voice was raspy and seemed to be failing the man as he said, "There,
they took them there."

Both women gazed in the direction the man was pointing. Sea almost strangled
the man as she asked, "There! Looks like a temple to me, why would they be
taken there?"

"It is--all prisoners are taken there."

Loosening her hold on the man, Sea glared, "Who had my friends captured?

He shook, "All I know is they were with Amir and his cohorts. They do
business with the Egyptians from time to time. Maybe they thought they would
make good slaves."

Mary touched Sea on her right shoulder, her words soft, "He has told us all
he knows, let's go."

Pursing her lips, Sea nodded, released the man and turned to walk away. It
was then he drew a knife and charged the woman. It took only an instant as
Sea sent her hand backward impelling the dagger she still carried into the
man's flesh. Turning, she gazed at the startled expression on his face as
she reached down and removed the blade, he crumbled to the walk. She wiped
it on the man's shirt then turned to Mary and said, "Here, little worse for

Taking the knife, Mary gazed at the man and said, "How did you know?"

Starting to walk away Sea muttered, "They are all like that, always think
they can take a person down by stabbing them in the back."

Mary stared at the knife in her hand and whispered, "One day you might not
be so lucky." She hurried to catch up to the woman who was already nearing
the end of the boardwalk.

Sea was now walking down a thoroughfare, there were houses on both sides.
Walls made of mud brick each richly colored, windows were small, high
openings covered with loosely woven matting to keep out the heat and the
glare from the sun. "Sea! wait up!" Mary called as she ran to catch up to
the woman. Sea stopped, turned to face her and said, "Quit tarrying."

Trying to catch her breath, Mary said, "Just where do you think you are
going in such a rush?"

Sea pointed toward the Palace. Reaching out, Mary placed her right hand on
the woman's shoulder and said, "Bad idea, you can't just walk into the

Sitting her jaw, Sea growled, "Just watch me."

Mary would not release the hold she had on the woman and said, "You'll be no
help to anyone if you go and get us both killed."

Glaring at her friend, Sea spat, "I can't just stand here and not do

Mary's eyes had spotted a taverna and she said, "Let's go over there, get
something to eat and drink, think this out."

Sea was not happy but she nodded and followed the woman toward the eatery.
As they approached the doorway, several people stepped aside to let them
pass. They both noticed they were attracting a lot of attention. Finding a
small table, they pulled out the wooden chairs and sat. Mary looked at her
friend's concerned face and said, "I'll go get us something, anything
special you want?"

Shaking her head, Sea mumbled, "No."

Leaning back in her chair, Sea watched the tall women stride toward the
counter. Looking around the room she noticed she was not the only one whose
eyes were following the captivating brunette. She was deep in thought when
she heard the words, "Ann Bounty! I'll be, it is you!"

She looked up, her eyes setting on the man she knew as Captain Silver. His
right hand was resting on the hilt of his saber. Sitting up straight, she
tossed her head, sending flaming hair bouncing back and forth. Green eyes
met his as she replied, "I guess a person meets all kinds in a place like

He had drawn the cutlass and was holding it toward the woman, a threatening
demeanor in his stance. "Stand up! I don't want anyone saying I never gave
the famous Ann Bounty a fighting chance."

Sea stared at the richness of the man's clothes, the cockiness in his face.
Deciding to ignore him she turned her attention toward Mary. By this time
the woman heard the disturbance and turned to see what was going on. She
scowled when she saw the man trying to draw Sea into a fight.

Grabbing the two tankards of ale, she started toward the table. He reached
out and kicked the table over sending it to the floor, "Stand up, or is it
true what I have heard, the great Ann Bounty is now a sniveling coward!"

In an instant, Sea was on her feet, sword drawn as she kicked the chair she
had been sitting in aside. Their swords were almost touching as they circled
one another as if caressing. Ann's face was hard, her eyes emitting sparks
as she said, "I don't know who told you that, it may well be your undoing."

He snickered, "I can see you can hold a sword, let's see how well you use
one." His lunge was met with a clash of metal on metal. People who had been
sitting nearby were scrambling to get out of their reach.

He smirked, "Lucky, next one won't be!" The man was strong and the force
behind the sword had managed to now find Sea close to being cornered. She
had been able to withstand his thrusts and it was then she saw Mary closing
in behind the man. She shot the woman a glance as her eyes spoke the
message. Mary stepped back, knowing Sea wanted to handle this herself. The
woman was fully prepared to step in regardless if Sea didn't want any help.

Silver's hair had fallen down upon his forehead and he looked every bit a
schoolboy. The weight he was putting on the sword changed her thought to one
of keeping the man's steel from taking her life. The muscles on her arm were
taunt as she held her ground. He cursed as he tried to force her down. She
felt her knees giving and knew the floor was going to meet them soon, the
man had such strength she felt herself going. Their swords still pushing
against one another, the man held a satisfied grin on his face as he said,
"Not as tough as you think. This day I will have you on your knees, begging
for your life!" As Sea's right knee touched the floor, she flung out with
her left foot, sending it into the man's knee. He moaned and felt himself
falling, relinquishing the force he had on the blade. Sea was on her feet
and spun, sending her right foot along side the man's head, once more,
knocking the blade from his hand. He staggered to his feet, eyes full of
rage he yelled, "You will pay!"

Turning to walk away, Sea replied, "Maybe, but not today." He rushed her and
as he neared, she sent her right foot back into his groin and this time he
crumpled to the floor, writhing in agony. Mary walked up to her and said,
"Looked to me like you could have used some help."

Sea placed her cutlass into it's sheath, stared back at the man and said,

"Then why didn't you let me?"

Staring around the room, Sea replied, "That would be all I need, a story
getting out that I can't even handle myself in a fight, my life as Captain
of The Bounty would be over."

Smiling the woman said, "I understand but you understand this, if it came
down to it, I would have helped. I'd rather have a live friend than a dead

Sea reached down to pick up the table and Mary set the chairs upright. They
had just finished when Mary said, "Just a minute, I put our tankards over
there, be right back." Sea had already sat when Mary returned and placed a
drink in front of the woman. "After that I am sure you could use one."

Taking the tankard, Sea's hand touched Mary's and the smile she gave the
woman warmed her to the tip of her toes. Mary sat, she smiled at the woman
and said, "I ordered some food, and don't even give me that look. That was
one of your biggest problems out there, you haven't had anything to eat for
days. You need to eat, keep your strength up."

Grinning as she leaned back in the chair, Sea said, "When did you become my

"Kiera would tell you the same thing and so would Gina, so no argument, when
the food arrives eat," noticing the look on Sea's face she added, "either
you eat or I will feed you."

"Ohhh, give you a little authority and it goes to your head."

Mary took a long drink then said, "I meant it. If we are to get them out of
here, we need to be fully prepared."

Nodding, Sea whispered, "I know, I will try to eat but just am not hungry."

"You eat to keep from getting hungry, with each bite just think of Gina."

The food had arrived and the two stared at the heaping portions of heavenly
smelling food that had been placed before them.

Several men had helped Silver out of the establishment as they watched, Mary
said, "You know, he is one attractive man, shame the Gods had to waste all
that beauty on a man."

Sea was trying to eat the meal and stopped as she said, "He is, knows it
too. I can't understand what the man has against me. I hardly know him."

Mary turned her attention to her friend as she tried to pull the meat from a
chicken leg. "Why not just eat it off the leg, it is easier that way, no one
in here will care, the way you are going you will starve," Sea wrinkled her
nose at the woman but did decide to eat it that way. Mary added, "I think it
might have something to do with his father, Blackirt."

Stopping mid-bite, Sea said, "Why, I didn't harm the man, if anything, he
almost got Gabrielle and me killed."

Mary grinned, "Yeah, but ultimately it was your doing as well as Gabrielle
and Xena's that got the man imprisoned."

Pondering the woman's words, Sea said, "Maybe, still, don't understand the
man's ire. Let's eat, so we can go..."

"Not the palace, Sea, I have told you before, you cannot just walk up to
Cleopatra like she is a commoner."

A chicken leg in her mouth, her eyes gazing toward her friend Sea's voice
muffled as she said, "Maybe not, but she will certainly know I have been

Rolling her eyes, Mary leaned back and took another drink from her tankard,
her eyes fascinated on the woman that was tackling the chicken leg.





Anita Louise

copyright 9/98

Chapter Twenty Four

People stood aside as the two women left the building. Once outside, Sea
turned her attention to the temple.

"We can't just walk in there you know, let's face it we do not look like
followers." Mary's voice reached the woman and Sea shrugged her shoulders as
she replied, "I've decided, not going there it would be useless, I'm going
to the top."

Stepping in front of the woman, Mary shook her head, "Oh no, thought we
talked about that?"

Smiling at the woman, Sea answered, "You talked, I basically listened. Now
if this is too much for you, stay here, I can do this myself." She walked
past her friend and Mary hurried to catch up. The two stepped side by side
as they took the path leading to the palace. Many people quit what they were
doing to stare at their beauty, neither woman acknowledging them. Once they
were within easy distance, Mary said, "There it is, looks heavily guarded,
just how do you propose we get in there?"

Sea glanced around and said, "Walk in."

"Sure, like we could." Mary chided but followed the woman. They were met by
two guards as they approached the gigantic gate. "Halt! Who are you and what
do you want?"

Sea glanced at Mary who seemed to be looking to the Gods for help. Her voice
was steady as she replied, "I've come to see your queen."

The men's eyes were surveying the women and the tallest one finally said,
"Queen doesn't see anyone without an appointment, much less women such as

Sea's lip was beginning to curl upward at the right corner as she said,
"Just what kind of woman is that?"

He looked at the other guard and laughed, "A woman that thinks she can wear
a man's trousers and fall under the fantasy she is as good."

Mary reached out and grabbed the woman as Sea went to punch the man out.
"Sea, you have to forgive this fool, obviously he has no idea who you are."

He looked from one woman to the other, his face becoming serious as he
asked, "Yeah, just who might you think you are, and why should I care?"

Mary stepped in front of Sea, her voice lowering she said, "If you don't
announce us to the Queen it might be your head that ends up on a spear."

He looked apprehensive then said, "Stay right there, I will send word two
strangers are here and seek an audience."

They watched the man disappear and it was then Sea turned to Mary and said,
"Why must you do that?"

"What," the woman grinned.

"That, I could have handled the moron."

Mary nodded, "You could and may still have to. No one in their right mind
would grant us an audience."

Seeming disgusted, Sea began to pace as she said, "Then why?"

Mary watched her friend and said, "Because you were getting ready to hit the
man and we would have half the entire army out here. You are amazing Ann,
but an army?"

Stopping, the woman pondered her friend's words as she threw back her head
and laughed, "You are so good, I would have left a few for you to fight."

It was at this time the man reappeared, his face red from running. Gasping
for air, he said, "Queen cannot be disturbed, she is in her bath. Come back
another time."

Sea's back was to the man and the red in her hair began to match the color
in her face as she turned and sent her right fist into his flabby stomach.
Mary struck out at the other and within moments they had taken care of the
guards. Staring at the bodies on the ground, Mary dusted her hands together
and said, "Piece of cake, but what about all those inside?"

Sea motioned with her right hand, "Come on, haven't got all day."

Mary followed the woman as she muttered, "That's all we do have, all day."

They stayed close to the walls trying to blend in with them. Keeping to what
concealment they could find. Guards were walking about and people dressed as
noblemen and women also were enjoying the spacious gardens that were near
the royal chambers. The two women were kneeling behind a well that was
surrounded by circular stones. The same astrological signs were painted into
the rock. Mary peeked up only to be grabbed by Sea as she pulled the woman
back down. Sitting, she gazed at her and asked, "What now?"

Ann sat beside the woman, her back resting on the rock. "Can't you hear it,
sounds like..."

At that time, Mary said, "Sounds like women with a lot of time on their
hands," she laid her head back against the stone and added, "a beautiful
garden, what better place."

They listened to the idle chatter and giddy laughter till Sea could not take
it any longer and stood. Mary yelled, "Sea!" It was too late. The woman was
walking toward two men and two women that were laying on the grass, wrapped
in very steamy embraces. As her boots, touched one of the men, his lips were
locked with a well endowed brunette. One eye stared up at the tall woman,
her red hair moving in the breeze. He sat up, grasping for his shirt, he
stammered, "Who? Wo--Who?"

Grinning, Sea called back to Mary and said, "Think we have some kind of bird
here, all the man can say is 'who.'"

The woman quickly pulled her gown up covering two of the most voluptuous
breasts either women had ever set their eyes on. By this time the other two
were on their feet. The thin framed man stepped forward and demanded, "Just
who do you think you are?"

Sea reached out and grabbed him by the front of his loose shirt and said,
"Names not important. Where is the royal bath?"

He looked at the others and said, "You can't go there, that is reserved for
royalty," his eyes surveyed the two women as he added, "and you certainly
are not royalty." They all snickered as if sharing some great secret. Sea
only tightened her grip as she said, "We are, and the queen is expecting us,
now tell me, where is it?"

The brunette stepped forward, her right hand resting on Sea's, her blue eyes
sending warm glows to the woman as she said, "Through the garden, first
door." Sea smiled at the woman and it was obvious in the way she moved,
fluttered her eyelashes, she was trying to seduce the woman right there.
Mary reached out and removed the woman's hand and said, "Sorry, this one is
already taken, come on love."

Turning crimson, Sea let Mary grasp her right hand and pull her away. The
brunette looked at the others in her group and said, "Pity! Now where were
we when so rudely interrupted?"

As they passed a large group of flowers the woman's shrieks of laughter
echoed to them and Mary shook her head. Sea glared at her and asked, "What?
Come on Mare, you don't really think I was..."

Walking away, Mary Ready smiled, "I think the woman had you for a moment in
her charms."

Sea followed Mary as the woman chuckled and nearing her friend's neck, she
reached out and grasped Mary's shoulder stopping her. Placing her mouth near
Mary's right ear she whispered, "Seems to me, your eyes were feeling no
pain. I couldn't just be rude."

Raising her right hand, Mary pointed to the door and said, "Got me there
friend, but I am the unattached one, come on, no time like the present to
visit a queen."

The first thing that met senses as they entered the dimlit room was a
pleasing aroma. Directly in front of them was a huge bath, steam making very
unusual movements as it floated upward from the water. It took a few seconds
for the two women to adjust their eyes from the light outside to the dimness
there. Sea shut the door and the sound drew everyone's attention to the two
women. There were five maidens, dressed in light colored gowns. The material
clinging to their delicately formed bodies.

The words were melodic but held a range of authority as they heard, "Who are

Sea jabbed Mary in the side and whispered, "I think she is speaking to us,
snap out of it."

"Unhummp." Mary cleared her throat as Ann Bounty took several steps forward,
bowing at the waist she said, "Ann Bounty and Mary Ready, we seek an
audience with you."

The maidens stepped back as the dark haired women stepped forward. She was
tall, not as tall as either woman but of good height. Her hair was the color
of the raven and the woman's skin was flawless. She reached up and loosened
the thin robe she wore letting it fall to the floor.

Mary and Sea were speechless as they watched the woman step toward the bath.
Her body reminded them of a panther, stalking it's prey the way she moved
sensually. Stepping into the water she lowered herself and said, "From the
looks of you two I would say you are suffering from a common malady."

Mary bowed and said, "It is your beauty, it is..."

Sea reached out and pushed the woman back as she cut in, "We are just in
awe, of the great Queen."

Cleopatra was allowing several of the maidens to bathe her as she said, "Ann
Bounty? I would have to live in a dark hole not to know who you are and your
friend, Mary Ready's exploits have even reached me. Tell me, what brings you
to my domain?"

Sea gazed at the woman, she seemed so comfortable as she replied, "Friends,
a man named Amir and others kidnaped my best friend and first mate."

Mary added, "Also took my brother."

Cleopatra was leaning against the wall of the bath as she stretched out on
the water, "What has that got to do with me?"

Once again, Sea jabbed Mary in the side, the woman was mesmerized at
Cleopatra's beauty. The water from the bath only added to the woman's
mystic, her body shone as the oil mixed with water glistened. Her full
breasts taunting as they seemed to reach for the ceiling. Mary gave Sea a
scowling look and muttered, "What's with you?"

Sea looked at Cleopatra and said, "Excuse us for a moment." She grasped
Mary's right arm and pulled the woman toward the door. "We're here for a
reason, get your mind off the woman's assets and on business."

Mary winked at her and said, "Have to admit, they are worth a look."

Sea stared at the ceiling as she said, "How do I put up with you, when you
get like this," she whispered, "you have as much chance with her as a
snowball in Tartarus."

Mary grinned, "Maybe, but sure would be an enjoyable melt."

Throwing up her hands, "Ohhhhh!" Her voice frustrated she turned and started
back toward this breathtaking woman. Mary followed, the fingers on her right
hand jabbing Sea in the back as she chided, "Admit it, you are taken, admit

Cleopatra was drinking from a golden chalice as they neared. "You two get
over your dispute?"

They looked at one another and Sea nodded, "Over, I, we need your help to
get our friends."

The woman motioned to several servants and said, "Take them some

Both women shook their heads but readily accepted the drinks. Two of the
maidens were standing near Mary, their hands caressing the woman's arms. Sea
found herself being administered to by two of Cleopatra's' maidens.

The queen smiled, "Since you chose to disturb my bath, the only way you can
stay is to join me."

"Ca--can't," Sea sputtered and at the same time she felt fingers loosening
the leather ties on her blouse. Their drinks were removed from their hands
as the adept finger's of the maidens easily removed the women's clothes in
short time. Cleopatra's eyes were surveying both women, never missing a
place. Sea reached down and grabbed her blouse holding it in front of her

Clapping her hands the queen ordered, "Either you both come in to the bath
or I call my guards and have you thrown into the dungeon."

Mary looked at Sea, shrugged her shoulders and said, "Don't know about you
but this sounds so much better." She quickly stepped into the water. Now all
eyes were on Sea, she felt the hands remove the blouse from her hands and
push her toward the bath. As she neared, Cleopatra stood, water running down
her like drops of rain. She reached out and grasped Sea's right hand and
said, "Come, I won't bite."

Mary grinned at her friend, winked and sat back, enjoying the apparent
discomfort on Sea's face.

Cleopatra's hand was the softest she had ever touched, and when Sea stared
into the woman's violet eyes, she felt mesmerized.

Mary gazed at her friend, she was standing in front of the "Queen of the
Nile" and Ann Bounty's beauty was just as breathtaking. It was apparent,
Cleopatra also thought the same thing.






Anita Louise

copyright 9/98

Chapter Twenty Five

When Mary awoke, she found herself sprawled on her stomach, her arms
stretched above her head. Starting to move she grasped her head and groaned.
Rolling onto her back, her eyes fell on her friend. Sea was sleeping like a
baby and from the look on her face, it was apparent, she was having sweet

Taking a deep breath, she lay and enjoyed being this close to the woman she
adored. If there ever was anyone beautiful it was her friend. Ann Bounty was
not only physically beautiful, she carried an inner beauty that made anyone
she came in contact with know they had been in celestial presence. Placing
her right hand on the shimmering red hair that had found it's way upon the
woman' shoulders, she brushed it back. As her fingers caressed the woman's
hair, she felt an unusual giddiness in the pit of her stomach.

Moving her head closer, she placed a tender kiss on Sea's shoulder and laid

Sea began to stir, her movements slow as she stretched and opened her eyes.
Mary smiled at the woman, her blue eyes telling Sea all she ever would need
to know. "G'day, trust you slept well."

Managing a smile, Sea's voice was soft, "It was wondrous, and you?"

"Same here. The wondrous thing was to be able to wake to your lovely face."

Rolling onto her back, Sea sighed, "The woman has a way of making a person
forget why they sought an audience."

Mary's right hand was touching Sea's arm as she said, "That's for sure, she
certainly had her eye on you."

Turning onto her side, Sea gazed at the woman, "If you had not told her we
were a couple, I fear I would have ended up in her bed last night."

Grinning, Mary quickly said, "Fear, I think the woman could have taught you
a thing or two. But, you are welcome," she grinned impishly and added, "It
was her loss and my gain."

Sea's face held a worried look as she asked, "Mare? Did we? I had so much to

Mary was stroking the woman's forehead, her words tender, "No, if we had, it
would not be something you would forget. You are safe and still pure for

Sitting, Sea gazed down at her breasts and said, "How did I get out of my

Mary was sitting beside her, "Well, Cleopatra's servants, took them first
and when I got you here, I removed them."

"Biting at her lower lip, Sea muttered, "I had too much to drink, I'm

A sheepish grin traveled the woman's face as Mary said, "Don't be, it made
the evening very pleasurable." She reached out and placed her right arm
around the woman's shoulders, pulling her close, she whispered, "It's just
me, someone who knows you better than anyone, I will be here for you Sea, I
will see you through this."

Sea laid her head on the woman's shoulder, "Shouldn't do this." her voice
still held the tones of sleep as she closed her eyes. Mary gazed at the
woman and listened as Sea drifted off once more. "You were marvelous, love,
and I will never tell you," she whispered and closed her eyes, enjoying a
moment she knew would never return.


Mary was standing, her eyes gazing at the temple. Sea had told her to stay
put when she decided to try and approach the building. The woman had not
returned, so she decided to find out what was keeping her. Nearing the
entrance she heard strong words, "You cannot go in!"

"Get out of my way!" The voice of her friend echoed back. Stepping up to the
entrance she could see that four guards were daring Sea to venture forth and
from the woman's stance she felt anytime she would. Stepping into the
opening Mary said, "There you are!" All eyes turned to her as she strode
toward them. Sea's eyes flashed at the woman as a guard asked, "And just who
do you think you are?"

Mary looked at Sea as she said, "A friend, my friend apologizes for any
misunderstandings, excuse us." She grabbed Sea's right arm and said, "Don't
argue, come with me."

After they had left the building, Sea jerked away and blared, "Why didn't
you just let me handle it?"

Because you are thinking with something besides your head. Those men along
with the other guards would have fought you."

Hands on hips the woman steamed, "So?!"

"So!" Mary pointed to the infantry that was headed toward the temple. "They
would have either killed you or captured you."

Frowning, Sea said, "All right, I thank you, not that I couldn't have taken

Smiling, Mary replied, "Yeah, and there really is a small elf that leaves
goodies under our pillows if we place a tooth there."

Chuckling Sea chided, "You mean there isn't? All this time I wondered what I
was doing wrong."

Taking her right hand and leading the woman away Mary said, "You can never
do anything wrong, I have need of some food. We will go to the taverna and
await word from the queen, she did say she would look into it."

Sighing, she went with the woman.


She had been going from consciousness to darkness for sometime. Still
experiencing dizziness, she tried to open her eyes, forcing herself to
maintain consciousness, she surveyed her surroundings. Starting to move but
finding she couldn't, Gina realized her wrists were manacled to the wall.
Laying her head back against the cool stone, she bit her lip to keep from

She was in a cell, there was a wooden bench in one corner, some straw on the
floor and what looked to be a pallet on one side. Blinking her eyes she
could see the light from a torch burning in the passageway. Her thoughts
drifted back to that night.

It had been a night of wonders. Every time she and Sea were together it was
as if it was the first time. It was rapturous, the love they shared. Sea was
so tender and caring, Gina knew there would never be anyone like this
marvelous woman. They went to sleep in one another's embrace

She didn't know how long she had been asleep. They were all awakened by the
sounds of the camp being ambushed. She gabbed her cutlass and called for
Sea, the woman never answered, she had no idea what happened to her. Will
and Saxton had been totally surprised and had no time to defend themselves.

She, however, cut down many before she was stopped by the sight of a knife
to the young man's throat. Amir had his arm around Will's neck, his blade
near the man's throat as he called out, "Gina! You keep that up and I will
have no recourse but to slit your friends throat!"

She was in the process of slamming the hilt of her sword into a man's face
when she saw him. Stopping she gazed at Will as the young man called out,
"Never mind me, save yourself!"

Shaking her head, she dropped her cutlass and at the same time her arms were
grabbed from behind. She felt the rawhide as it cut into her wrists, all the
time her eyes were set on Will. Amir was close and quickly handed the young
man over to one of his accomplices. He walked up to Gina and said, "We
waited till Sea and Mary Ready left."

She looked downfallen as she asked, "Left? Where did they go?"

He laughed, "Probably for a moonlight ride, saved us fighting them."

She scowled at the man and implored, "Why are you doing this? Sea has paid
you well."

He laughed, "She has but Asterea has paid better!"

She felt a cold chill run up and down her spine as she said, "Asterea? No!"
Quickly leaping into the air, she sent her right foot into the man's
stomach, spun around as her left foot made solid contact on two others that
were standing near. Will butted one with his head and yelled, "Get out of
here! Go!"

She ran, hands tied behind her, she ran. The crack of a whip echoed through
the air as it's fangs grabbed her by the ankles sending Gina crashing to the
sand. She lay still for a few minutes the breath knocked from her body.
Rough hands jerked her to her feet and spun her around, Amir's eyes were
small and the man looked every bit like a serpent. Two of his men held her
arms tightly as he said, "Where did you think you were going? You will learn
never to do that again." His right hand struck with such fury it ricocheted
off her chin popping Gina's head back. He reached out grabbing a handful of
hair, pulling her upright he smiled wickedly, "I'll teach you, there is no
Ann Bounty here to hold your hand."

Will had been taken down, he was on his knees, their many kicks to his body
doubling the man over. He saw what was happening and yelled, "Leave her
alone, you bastard! Pick on someone your own size!"

Amir turned and smiled then turned back to her, "Seems you have more than
one admirer." He ordered his men to untie her hands and said, "Hold her arms
to the side." Gina struggled with the tight hold they had but could not
loosen their grips.

Will watched in horror as the man beat the young woman, tears rolling down
his face as he cried, "Gina! Gina!"


Shaking her head, Gina's body was wracked in pain as she sobbed, "Sea, Gods
Sea where are you?"

The sound of footsteps took her attention to the passageway and shadows soon
became people. Amir stood at the cell door, his face held a smugness to it
as he said, "Awake, good, I have a visitor." He stepped aside as the tall
women stepped close to the cell door. "It's been a long time."

Gina felt as if she would throw up, it was Asterea, and it was all she could
do not to scream.

The man unlocked the door and let the woman in as he said, "I'll be back."
Gina watched as he disappeared, then her eyes focused on the woman that was
stepping up to her. Asterea reached out and caressed the woman's face as she
said, "Looks like you have taken a beating."

Trying to move her head away from the woman's touch, Gina said, "What are
you doing here?"

She smiled, "I've come for you and the others but I will not leave until I
also have your mate."

Gina tried to free her hands as the manacles moved but that was all. "Damn
you! You almost killed the woman, almost destroyed her, leave her alone!"

Asterea made a clucking sound as she said, "My, you really love the woman,
should make it easy."

Struggling against her confinements, Gina declared, "I'll kill you, you harm
her again, I'll kill you!"

Asterea stepped back, tossed her head and said, "You really frighten me,
look at how I tremor." She broke out into a sadistic laugh. "Least you
forget, I own you, oh you have managed to evade me but now you will pay."

If looks could kill, the woman would have been dead. Gina's light brown eyes
were deadly and so were her facial features as she spat, "I'd sooner be

"Oh no, you will live to see my revenge on Ann Bounty and you. I want both
of you to know what I am going to do to the other and watch. It will be a
fitting end."

"Please, do what you will to me but please leave Sea alone." Gina's voice
was filled with deep despair.

Asterea smiled, "Can't, once a person gets Ann Bounty in their system they
cannot let her go. I'll be back." She walked toward the cell door and
unlocked it, smiled back at Gina and left.

Laying her head against the wall, Gina softly sobbed, "Sea, wherever you
are, go, get away."






Anita Louise

copyright 9/98

Chapter Twenty Six

Leaning back in her chair Sea dabbled at the meal setting before her. Mary
had left the room for a few minutes. She asked the woman where she was going
and Mary smiled and said, "It's a surprise."

Glancing around the room she was beginning to feel uneasy, her friend had
been gone too long. Standing, she left the establishment, looked around
outside trying to spot Mary. Grunts and groans were coming from the alley
and she headed in that direction.

Immediately she could see Mary Ready being beaten as several large men held
the woman. She was doubled over as they pounded her. Drawing her cutlass,
she somersaulted through the air her feet landed squarely on the two that
seemed to be enjoying beating her friend.

Mary did a back flip that caused the two holding her arms to release them
and when she landed she sent her fists into their faces. Several spins and
high kicks sent them to the ground.

Sea was facing two, their swords striking from opposite directions as they
tried to make contact. She met each thrust and countered with several of her
own. Mary watched as the woman jumped their many strikes, it seemed her
friend was just toying with the men. Leaning against the wall, she crossed
her legs and smiled at the swordsmanship. Sea had somersaluterd over their
heads, walked the parapet, her sword teasing and taunting each one. Sea
stared at her as she fended off their thrusts, "Could help you know!" She
yelled as her feet landed firmly on the ground.

Mary reached into her boot and tossed the dagger to the woman and said,

Catching it in mid air, she knelt as they charged her, their blades meeting
air but her sword and dagger finding their stomachs. Standing as they fell,
she turned her attention to Mary and asked, "What happened? This is a
surprise but not exactly what I was expecting."

Mary muttered, "Caught me off guard. Won't happen again."

Stepping toward the woman, Sea exclaimed, "You've been hurt!"

Brushing the woman's hand away, Mary said, "I'll be fine, thought I would
have better news for you."

Sea's eyebrows arched as she asked, "News? What are you talking about?"

"Need to sit."

Sea stepped up to her and placed her right hand around the woman's waist as
she said, "Your meal got cold but we can order a new one." They walked back
into the taverna and this time Mary did not object to her friends help.

Once seated at their table, Sea gazed at the woman and said, "Tell me, what

Leaning back, Mary grimaced as she said, "The news from Cleopatra, she will
not help."

Sea's face turned crimson as she cursed. "I'll just do it."

"You and what army? Seems the odds are against you."

Placing her hands on the table, she asked, "What would you have me do? I
can't leave Gina much less Saxton and Will."

Mary reached out placing her hands on Sea's and said, "They will be
auctioned off tomorrow."

Sea went to pull her hands away and Mary held them in place. "There you go
with that Celtic temper again, stop, think."

The woman's emerald greens were misting and Mary felt her own heart would
break as she said, "I'll be there, I'll help, may not be an army but I will
stand beside you."

If anyone was watching the two women as they gazed into one another's eyes,
they would have sworn they held the look of love.

The two were deep in conversation when several of the palace guards entered
the room. They walked toward their table, stopping in front of them. Sea and
Mary glanced up as Sea asked, "What is it now?"

The one closest to her handed a parchment to the woman and said, "Queen
Cleopatra sent this to you."

She took it and watched the men leave. Mary leaned forward, her eyes
gleaming as she asked, "What is it?"

Unrolling the parchment, Sea read the words, "It's a temporary pass. I can
get into the temple and see Gina." Reaching out, Mary took the parchment and
read it then said, "Says nothing about Will or Saxton."

She nodded, "I will try to find out where they are."

Mary looked at her, the woman's words were cautionary, "Could be a trap you

Looking at the parchment, Sea replied, "Why? Trap? Who would want to trap
me? If it were Cleopatra, she could already have done it."

Shrugging her shoulders, Mary replied, "I don't know, maybe the same ones
that took them, be on your guard."

Taking the parchment and rolling it back up Sea gazed at the woman and said,
"In case I never told you this, I want you to know the day you came back
into my life was a day of light for me."

Mary reached out and grasped Sea's right hand bringing it to her lips she
placed a gentle kiss and said, "I love you too. Now promise me, be careful."

Standing, Sea smiled, "I will, be back soon."

Mary watched her leave the room, her features changing as she ordered a
tankard of ale.


Staring at the edifice before her, Sea took a deep breath and walked in. She
was met by several well armed guards as she entered. They already had their
weapons drawn and their captain gave her the once over and said, "There is
no entrance."

She held out the rolled parchment and the man took it. It didn't take him
long to read it and when finished he said, "Follow the passage to the left,
one of the guards will escort you there. You have to leave the weapon."

Unbuckling the belt, she handed the man her scabbard and cutlass. Her voice
powerful as she said, "I expect to get it back when I return." He nodded and
motioned with his right hand for her to pass.

With each step she felt as if her heart would jump into her throat, with
each step she cursed herself for not being there, for not protecting the
woman. She saw the passageway coming to an end as the guard said, "She is in
the first cell, you do not have too long."

Sea immediately saw the woman manacled to the wall, her head hung down and
all she could see was Gina's beautiful blond hair. Turning to the man she
asked, "Can I go in?"

He seemed to be mulling her words over and finally said, "Guess that can't
hurt, all right." He unlocked the door as Ann stepped into the cramped

Gina heard the door open and close but she was between light and dark and
had no desire to see who was going to torment her now. It was the softness
of the hand on her cheek that caused her to raise her head.

Ann Bounty stood before her, eyes full of pain and the woman's facial
features were overcome with sorrow. Gina moved her head as she felt the
woman's caress, her words full of emotion, "Sea!"

The woman smiled, her voice soft, "Gods, I have missed you," quickly
noticing the marks on her friends face she cursed, "You've been hurt! Damn

Tears were starting to fall down her face as Gina said, "You have to get out
of here!"

Sea's other hand was gently touching the other cheek and as she held the
woman's face between the palms of her hands, she said, "Never, I will never
leave you again." Her fingers brushed the falling tears away."

Gina pushed herself against the wall and tried to stand straight as she
said, "You have to, Sea, get out of here."

Sea seemed perplexed and it was then Gina said, "Asterea, the woman is

The woman's demeanor changed, her face was full of rage as she said, "Here?
Did she do this to you?"

"No, Amir. Sea she wants you. The woman is going to use me for bait."

Sea gazed at Gina, her eyes taking the woman into them as if for the first
time. "Don't you know, I would cross a raging fire to be with you. I would
never leave you to the woman."

Gina tried to move her head, tried to shake Sea's hands away to no avail.
Sea lowered her head and began to softly place kisses on the injuries. Gina
tried to speak and all she heard was, "Shhh, at this moment and time, there
is just us, shhh, I love you woman, you will not be rid of me that easy."

Gina sighed as the woman's tender kisses took her away from her confinement.
Sea laid her head on the woman's shoulder, as Gina said, "Pr--Promise me,
you will go and not look back."

"Can't, you are so much a part of me if I did, I would die. If all we have
is now, we will spend it together."

Gina softly began to cry, "I love you so much Sea, I want you to live,

Raising her head, Sea whispered, "Not without you in my life." Her lips
caressed Gina's as her voice softly eased, I will never leave you."

The guard was returning and they both heard the footsteps. Sea's emerald
green's were locked with Gina's light brown eyes, neither woman had to
speak. Hearing the key turn in the lock, Sea caressed Gina's face and said,
"I'll be back, I'll get you out of here."

Gina managed to smile as she said, "I meant it Sea, get out of here, Asterea
almost killed you, almost ruined your life, don't let the woman do it again,
promise me."

With one last look at the woman, Sea replied, "I'll be back, love you." She
left the cell and once back at the entrance she asked the captain of the
guards about the other two prisoners. He told her they would be sold the
next day in the town square. She took her scabbard and strapped it on,
heading straight for the tavern.


Continued in part 5

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