THE CURSE part 7


by Anita Louise

copyright 09/98

Chapter Thirty Eight

She had been walking the beach for a long time and it was apparent by the woman's actions she was in pain. He stood high on a hill, half hidden by thick shrubbery. His eyes never leaving the beautiful blond that had captivated him from that first moment.

Always thinking himself a strong man, he felt his body crumbing as he thought of her. When he purchased her, his intent was to save her life. She wasted no time in telling him to go to Hades. A smile crossed his face. Gina definitely had a fiery temper and the more she tried to curse him, the more it endeared her to him.

"She is beautiful."

He turned, a startled look on his face, Leiah was fast approaching. Squaring his shoulders he asked, "What are you doing up here?"

The woman was tall, almost as tall as Silver. She ignored his question and gazed down at the woman that had now sit. "Why don't you do what it is you are supposed to. She is yours, it is time she began to act like your woman."

His eyes were cool and his voice low, "This is none of your concern. I suggest you go back and do whatever it is you were doing."

Her hazel eyes seemed to be taunting him as she walked slowly around the man. Each step and movement of her body was sending him signals. "I found myself wondering how you are, what you are doing. The minute I found out she had left the village, I knew you would not be far behind."

His right hand shot forward and grasped her shoulder, twirling her around. The minute their eyes met, he said, " I do not need you to baby sit me, I am fine."

Her gaze traveled the man's muscular form, and as she felt his fingers tighten she said, "Dam you Silver, I was all right until you brought Ann Bounty's whore here. Either take the woman or let someone else have her. I cannot stand to see you sitting around like a love sick puppy. the woman
does not want you, can't you see that!"

"This is my business. Stay out of it," the low rumbling that was coming from deep in his throat was meant to intimidate her, but it didn't work. Throwing back her head she smiled, "You don't scare me darling, I know every facet of your body and I also know you would never harm me."

Releasing his hold on the woman, he stepped back, his eyes glaring at her. Placing his hands on his hips, he said, "I think I have let you get away with too much. What I do is my business and I do not want to hear you speak that way about her again. Do I make myself clear?"

Her eyes darting past him to the form on the beach she answered, "It is not just me, your men, they are beginning to think you cannot command them, after all a mere woman seems to have you defeated."

His right hand unknowingly reached up and pushed the hair back from his forehead as he said, "If my men have something to take up with me, then let them. And there is no one that has me defeated," Grasping both of her arms with a steel grip, he leaned forward crushing his mouth down up-on hers. The kiss was long and when he released the woman she fell backwards. Stumbling
and catching her balance, her face flushed, red lips moist and gleaming as she ran the back of her right hand across her mouth. The woman's eyes shot fire at him as she stammered, "One day your kisses will not have such an effect on me. Heed my warning before it is too late." She turned and
hurried away. He watched her until she was out of sight, a satisfied look upon his face. Then slowly turned to stare once more at the lone woman who was now staring at the vastness of the ocean, his mind mulling over Leiah's words.


Drawing her knees to her chest, Gina grasped them, and began to slowly rock back and forth. It was a beautiful day, and as she stared at the sky, she felt an ache in the pit of her stomach. Lowering her vision to the rolling waves that seemed to almost touch her and then ease back out to sea. She began to feel the tears filling up her eyes once more. Trying to suppress them, she stood, and began to walk once more. The slight breeze seemed to reach out and caress her face making it all the harder to keep the tears away.

Spying a tall tree not far away, she headed for it. Releasing a heavy sigh as she reached out and touched the bark, her hand moving slowing and to anyone watching they might have thought the woman was caressing the tree. Leaning against it, Gina felt her body relax. The tree offered some shade from the sun and at the same time it seemed to comfort her. She closed her eyes trying to shut out the present for as long as she could.


"There you are," Ann Bounty's words were warm and melodic as Gina looked up from her perch atop a lone tree trunk. The woman's long golden locks were moving effortlessly in the breeze, the blue cutoffs she was wearing were hugging the woman's lovely form blissfully and the light blue calcutta tunic she wore was catching.

As Sea drew closer, Gina waved and smiled, "I have been here all the time," her eyes sparkled toward the woman, "did you miss me?"

Ann smiled as she approached her. The way Gina was haunched upon the trunk, her full breasts were peeking through the loose leather ties that held the tunic together.

She met the woman's smile with one of her own as Gina said, "Now, just what has you looking so radiant this morning, pirate?"

Reaching out, Ann grasped the woman and swooped her off the trunk so fast, Gina lost the fishing line she had been holding. Sea's emerald green's seemed lost in Gina's eyes. Gina placed her right arm on Sea's shoulder and said, "Do you sweep all the girls off their feet like this?" A mischievous
look ran across the woman's face as she said, "Nope, just you and from the looks of you I would say you are in need of a little water."

Immediately locking her arms behind Sea's neck, Gina laughed, "Come on Sea, don't, I..." Without warning the woman began to walk toward the incoming surf. By this time, Gina was squirming and the feel of Sea's full breasts touching her even slightly had the woman turning scarlet. "Please, Sea,

Smiling, the woman walked into the surf, carrying the woman. She did not stop until the two were deep into the water and both had to swim. Of course by the time this happened both women had gone under and within moments both re-surfaced. Gina tred water as she spouted, "Just why did you do that? I guess you know, you are in for it now."

The two women's laughter echoed the area as Ann grinned, "You looked too peaceful up on that perch. I was afraid you would get to much sun. Didn't want you to overheat."

Swimming toward the woman, Gina said, "Overheat huh? Well I am definitely not hot anymore. I guess you.know there will be no fish for dinner now." As she neared, Sea submerged herself and disappeared from the woman's view. Slowly circling the area, Gina called out the woman's name to no avail. It was at this time Sea came up behind her and quickly dunked her under the water. The woman held her for a few seconds before bringing her back to the surface. Gina was spiting water, and trying to breath at the same time. Finally taking a long look at Sea she asked, "You think this is funny do you?" Nodding, Ann said, "Yes, and you are adorable."

"Yeah if you like the look of a drowned animal."

Leaning forward, Ann's lips sought Ginas, softly as if brushing a masterpiece she laid claim to the woman's. When she pulled away, Gina just stared.

Turning to swim toward shore, Sea called back, "Can't think of any animal that can kiss like that, come on. I have the morning meal ready."

"Geeez! You sure know how to liven up a day. I meant it pirate, when you least expect it, I am going to get you."

Sea was already walking toward the beach as she called back, "I hope so."


The sound of a seagull flying overhead calling to it's mate brought her back to the present. She watched the birds doing their acrobatics in the air for a few minutes, then stared out at the vastness of the ocean. Somewhere out there was Alexandria and she would not rest until she made it back. The ache had returned and she felt as if she would heave. Gods, she missed Ann Bounty. There had never been anyone that gave her such a jubilant feeling for being alive. The ocean seemed to have a more greenish texture to it this day and as she stared, she could see Ann gazing up at her. The woman's red hair, moving as if doing a sensuous dance with the wind. Emerald green eyes
that reached out and touched Gina's very soul. Those luscious lips that could spread across her face and give Gina the essence of the sun touching her with unending love and adoration. Sighing as she felt wrapped in Ann Bounty's essence she whispered, "I pray you are all right. I am so sorry to
have left you. Please do not be angry at me." The vision disappeared as fast as it had appeared and once more Gina felt alone.

Ann Bounty had a way about her, she could make even the most mundane, days turn into the most spectacular. Her thoughts were still heavily on that day by the sea. The romping the two women had done and the pleasant way they spent that time. Gina was so preoccupied with her thoughts she did not even hear the man until his voice brought her out of her reverie. "There you are."

Seeming startled, she felt her body tremble and for an instant Ann Bounty flashed across her mind. Turning she saw Silver striding toward her. The man was handsome and all the women seemed to be in awe of him, all that is, except her. Standing straight she declared, "I'm not lost, why do you come looking for me?"

He stopped, his eyes making a quick survey of her body before he answered, "We need to talk, it is time."

She leaned back against the tree, crossed her feet and said, "There is nothing we need to discuss, that is, unless you are going to finally come to your senses and let me off this godsforsaken place."

He did not move and it was apparent the man was going to speak his mind.

Gina chose to ignore him and gazed toward the ocean. Before long, he stepped close, reached out cupped her chin in his right hand and gently turned her head. "Look at me, you have eyes that speak and I want to see and hear everything you have to say."

She didn't try to pull away, her eyes met his as she said, "Then say your piece and leave me be."

He turned and walked away from her, stopped then said, "Get over it, quit pining away for what can never be."

Quickly Gina shot back, "A lot you know, Ann Bounty will never forget me and she will have your heart for taking me like that."

He turned, his jaw set as he said, "Ann Bounty is dead!"

He might as well have struck her full force in the stomach because the reaction he got was worse than he ever expected.

Gina snarled at him, "Never! There is no way. Don't lie to me, it will not get me into your bed any faster."

Stepping toward her, lowering his voice he said, "She's dead."

Gina walked away from him, "Yeah, by whose hand, there is no one that is a match for her."

"You may not wish to believe this but it was Caesar that ordered her death. Seems the man had some sort of grudge against her. Probably took some of his ships also."

Before he knew what was happening she had turned and ran full force into him, her fists thrashing out as she cried, "Dam you, dam you all!"

Grabbing her wrists, he held them and try as hard as she could to break free, he would not release her. "Go ahead, get it all out, Ann is gone. You must chose to go on."

She had screamed, and cried at the man, kicked him and he still would not release her until she finally collapsed from exhaustion. Silver dropped to his knees, cradling her in his arms. He felt as if he would die, he wanted to take the pain away but knew he could not. The man sat like that, holding her, rocking her and when the sun set, he laid down beside her. She had dropped off into a restless but exhausted sleep and he held her close, hating himself for telling her but the woman had to know. The two went to sleep like that and it was toward morning when Leiah made her way down the path to the beach. She stopped short when she saw the two lying together. The woman seethed as she muttered, "All right whore, you have asked for it. No one takes my man." She turned and made her way back to the village.



Chapter Thirty Nine


As chills traveled her body, she began to shiver. Slowly opening her eyes, Silver's words still fresh on her mind, "Ann Dead!" Thoughts were running rampant as she sit up. Immediately her eyes fell upon Silver lying near. Quickly, scooting backwards, her only thought was to get as far away from
this man as she could.

Opening his eyes, he seemed amazed at the uncanny movement of the woman. Sitting, he smiled, "You move faster than the back spider. Slow down, you don't have eyes in the back of your head you know."

Stopping, she glared at the man, "If you think I will feel any differently today, don't."

He was standing and walking toward her as she jumped to her feet and began to back away. "I mean it, stay away from me."

He threw back his head, allowing his hair to move about and fall into place. "I will be missed and we must get back to the village."

"No, I don't want to go anywhere with you. What is it you do not understand, no or go to Hades?"

He moved his shoulders as if to remove a kink in them before answering, "I understand you are in pain and I regret having been the one to have caused this. But, you must know and you have to begin anew."

Her eyes wore the tell tale signs of many tears, they were red and swollen. Reaching up to rub them, she said, "I will not cry again. You will not get to me that way anymore," her voice was vehement, "I know Ann is alive and I will find her!"

He shook his head, "You are wrong."

Her face was almost as red as the whites of her eyes as she cried, "She is alive, I would know if she wasn't," placing a clinched fist over her heart she continued, "here, I feel her here. Ann would never leave me, she promised and she never goes back on a promise."

"What will it take to convince you?"

Squaring her shoulders, she replied, "I want to go back to Alexandia, I want to go to her."

He held out his right hand as he said, "I will take you there, if you promise not to run away. Maybe it is best you see it for yourself."

She glanced at his outstretched arm before she said, "Can we leave today?"

He smiled, "As soon as you get packed. I can do some trading while we are there and you can finally come to terms with this."

She ambled past him, "I will be ready." He watched her confident walk for sometime before running to catch up with her. They went the rest of the way in silence.

Leiah was standing near a hut when she saw the two walk into the area. From their disheveled look she knew they had spent the entire night on the beach. The woman was fuming as she watched them part company. Gina walked toward the hut she had called home since arriveing there and was happy to enter. Walking toward the basin she poured water into it and submerged her face in
the cool liquid. She was in the process of drying off when she heard the woman's words, "Just couldn't keep it to yourself slut!"

Turning she gazed into the face of Leiah. Dropping the towel on a chair, she said, "I have no idea what you are talking about. I would appreciate it if you would leave."

Laughing, the woman planted both feet firmly on the dirt floor, crossed her arms and smirked, "There is no one that tells me what to do."

Gina's face held no expression, "Leiah? I don't have time for this right now."

Yes, my name is Leiah, and just why are you in such a hurry, a date with Captain Silver?"

"Not that it is any of your business, but yes, he has agreed to take be to Alexandria.."

Leiah smirked, "You just don't quit do you, it is bad enough you spend the night on the beach together and now you want to spend days with him on his ship. No, this is one voyage you will not make."

Gina shrugged her shoulders and ignored the woman. It didn't take her long to stuff a few essentials in a leather pack and when finished she walked toward the door.

Leiah stood ominously in her way, her eyes cold, "I said, you are not going nowhere." Gina held the straps of the pack in her right hand as she said, "I won't say it again, get out of my way."

Leiah reached out and shoved the woman backwards and with such force Gina lost her balance and fell. Dropping the leather pack, she stared up at Leiah. The woman was approaching and she held a wicked looking dagger in her right hand.

Quickly getting to her feet, dust falling from her clothes, eyes never leaving the woman, Gina said, "Look, I don't want any trouble, I only want to get out of here and it seems that is what you want also."

Curling her lip, Leiah growled, "Yeah, but I want you far away from Silver."

"Then there should be no problem, I only want off this island. If it is Silver you are thinking will catch my eye, don't."

Moving the dagger back and forth, the woman said, "I never could understand what his fascination with you was. You are just a woman, not even as pretty as some."

"I don't want any trouble, think this over, leave me alone."

Stopping, Leiah licked her lips, her eyes dancing with undertones of malice in them as she said, "You asked for trouble the minute you set your fancy feet on this island." She lunged toward the woman, and Gina quickly sidestepped, the dagger barely missing her left side. Stepping back, a
wicked smile crossing her face, Leiah taunted, "That was close, the next one will make it's mark."

Heaving a sigh, Gina watched the woman as she played cat and mouse with her. She had become soft, the woman was right she almost cut her. She followed the woman's movements and began to walk a thin line. Her hands moving stealthily in front of her like a cobra waiting to strike, she waited for Leiah's next move. It wasn't long before the woman lunged again, this time thinking Gina would sidestep. She threw all she had in the stab, the opposite direction. To her amazement the woman had not moved and all she contacted was air. Losing her balance she fell forward, hitting the floor
with a thud.

Leiah's dagger had fallen and the woman was quickly crawling toward it. As her hand reached out to grasp the sinister weapon, Gina's right boot had already kicked it further away. The woman's eyes had grown dark, her face was full of rage as she spouted, "I'll kill you with my bare hands!" She dove into Gina's ankles, sending her falling backwards. The second her body hit the ground, Leiah was straddling the woman, her fists beginning to rain down upon her face.

The fall had dazed Gina, it took her a few moments to clear her head and by this time, Leiah's fists were making contact. Quickly grasping the woman's wrists, she held her at bay.

Leiah was now livid, she seemed to be a picture of madness. Gina was finding the position she was in difficult to keep the woman's blows from making their mark. It was at this time, Leiah brought her head down and made violent contact with Gina's.

Feeling herself between light and darkness, Gina tried to move, the woman had gripped her body with her legs so tightly she felt all the air being sucked from her as she loosened the hold she had on Leiah's wrists. Within moments the woman had her hands around Gina's neck, "I'll kill you! No one
takes what's mine!"

Trying to move and at the same time attempting to pull the woman's death grip from her neck, seemed to be a useless battle. It was at this time as she gasped for air, Leiah taunted, "Now you will know what it feels like. You can join the bitch, Ann Bounty. Caesar did the world a favor when he silenced her!"

It was as if Ann Bounty herself had possessed Gina, for when she heard the woman's words, she summoned up hidden strength. Her legs came up and grasped Leiah around her neck, pulling her off balance and at the same time, Gina rolled sending the woman to the floor. Standing, Gina rubbed her neck as she watched the woman get to her feet. "You don't know Ann," her words were raspy, "and you are not good enough to even speak her name."

Cackling, Leiah smirked, "Oh, I see, I have hit a touchy spot. You got lucky, it will not happen again."

The woman charged and as she drew near, she struck out with her right fist. This only to be met by Gina's left hand as she warded the blow away. Her right fist making solid contact with the woman's stomach. Leiah's eyes grew wide as she doubled over only to be met by Gina's left and right fist
making their marks on the woman's face. The blows took her to her knees and she grabbed Gina's legs with a death grip. Reaching down, Gina grasped the woman's long hair and pulled her head back, their eyes met for an instant before she struck out, her left fist snapping Leiah's head back as the woman collapsed in a heap. Gina stared down at the limp form, then dropped to her knees and checked for a sign of life. It took a few seconds before she found a faint beat. Standing she walked toward the leather pack, picked it up and started toward the doorway.

Captain Silver was standing on the deck when she made her way aboard. He looked up when he spied her. Stopping what he had been doing he strode toward the woman. Gina could tell by the look on his face, there would be questions and she was bracing herself.

His eyes darted past her for an instant then he said, "We are ready, what kept you?"

She managed a smile and answered, "Ran into something."

Reaching out, he gently touched the side of her face with his right hand, "Looks like it must have been pretty hard." Turning away, Gina asked, "Something like that, where do I put my things."

Stepping up to her, he said, "Follow me, I'll show you to your quarters. Didn't happen to see Leiah while you were out there did you?"

"And if I did?"

Silver pointed toward the helm, "I just wondered how she..."

Whirling, Gina spat, "She looks worse, now are you satisfied?"

His eyes lit up as he answered, "You didn't kill the woman did you? I sure hate to lose her."

"Woman is better than she should be. Look, if you want to bring me up on charges or something, then do it but know this, she started it."

He bowed and said, "No. Leiah has a habit of picking fights, seems this time she might have met her match.. I guess you know, you have made an enemy. After I get you settled, shall I send someone to tend your wounds?"

Shaking her head, she answered, "I can take care of them. All I want to do at this moment is lie down," her eyes held little emotion as she continued, "She doesn't frighten me."

He reached out and took the leather pack as he said, "Come on, let me get you settled. Will you join me for the evening meal?"

Shaking her head she answered, "All I want to do is rest."

He stopped just before they went below and said, "She may not frighten you but she can be deadly. Leiah has been known not to be fair."

Gina took a few minutes before she said, "Who said life is fair. Don't worry yourself Captain, I am not as fragile as you might think." They went below, no more words were spoken , but they both had many things running through their minds.

Chapter Forty


Ann gazed up at the moon, it was full and hanging low. She took a deep breath and started after the silhouetted form of the woman who was running ahead of her. Ever since she had been hit on the head, she had been experiencing moments of dizziness. She was happy the moon was providing
them with enough light. The one thing she did not want to do was stumble across the path of the, "Croc."

Asteria chided her as they followed the river bank. The sounds of a crocodile plunging into the water once in awhile as well as the cry of one of their unwilling victims, was all the two women had heard. Though they stopped from time to time to see if the sounds of dogs and men on their
trail could be heard.

Asterea had been running for sometime, she slowed then stopped, bending over grasping her knees, she gasped for air. Her hands were shaking and for the first time, she realized how hard she had been pushing herself.

"It is good to see you can stop once in awhile."

Standing, Asterea turned to see Ann Bounty stumbling toward her. "What is wrong with you?" she reached out and caught the woman as she plummeted toward her. Helping her to the ground, Asterea asked, "What is wrong? Did you run into someone back there?"

Ann's eyes were barely open, she murmured, "Guess that hit on the head was a little harder than I thought."

Asterea was now on her knees, her right arm was wrapped around Ann. "Come on, we both know you have a hard head. Maybe we should find a spot and rest."

Ann tried to get to her feet, "No. Must keep going, can't let them catch us."

Sitting, Asterea rested Ann's head on her lap, her eyes gazing down at Sea's. "You don't look like you are going to go much farther, not tonight." Sea attempted to move and quickly gave this up as Asterea said, "I can tell you are tired and if you will not admit it, I will. I need to rest."

"All right, we will stop. Just what do you have in mind. We can't stay out here, if a "Croc," doesn't find us, they will."

Not realizing she had placed her right hand on Sea's cheek, Asterea whispered, "I don't want to become food for any old,"Croc," and I definitely do not want to run into those people back there. Gods, they catch us and we will wish we were dead." Her eyes had been searching the area.

"What is it?" Sea's voice was apprehensive as she sat up.

Bringing her gaze back toward the woman, Asterea answered, "Just trying to see where we might hold up tonight. Looks like there could be something up there."

Following the direction of the woman's hand, Sea said, "Looks like a steep climb. What if we get to the top only to find out there is no place to go?"

Asterea stood, reached down and grasped Sea's right hand as she pulled the woman to her feet. Quickly steadying her, she placed her left arm around Sea's waist. Sea shook her head and said, "I feel as if some spider has laid a web inside, things keep getting hazzy."

"Then you stay down here and I will climb up and see if there is a good spot. You rest, till I get back. "Stepping backward and finding herself swaying, Sea mumbled, "Oh no, you are not taking off and leaving me to the likes of them. Where you go, so do I."

Trying not to smile but finding it impossible, Asterea replied, "You don't know how long I have waited to hear you say that."

Smirking at the woman, Sea walked past her and said, "Forget it, I just don't trust you, after all I wouldn't be in the spot I am, if it hadn't of been for you."

Thinking for an instant, then running after the woman, Asterea said, "What can I say, when you are right, your right. Lead on..."

Sea stopped and Asterea found herself quickly running into the woman. Turning, Sea's emerald green's sparkled toward her as she said, "No, you go first. I could not relax knowing you were behind me."

Brushing off her breeches, Asterea said, "I wouldn't hit you on the head or stab you in the back if that is what you are thinking."

Resting her hand on a boulder, Sea answered, "It is more what you might be thinking. "

Asterea walked past her, reached down and took the water skin from Sea's belt, took a long drink and said, "There are much better times to be thinking of that. And even if I did, thoughts will not harm you."

Sea replied, "Maybe not but I think I would feel your eyes burning holes into me and it would interfere with what I was doing."

"All right, I will lead the way, just promise you will keep up."

Nodding, Sea watched the woman put the water skin back and proceed up the incline.

The climb had been a long one, it took many slip and slides before Asterea finally reached the top. She stretched and tried to catch her breath, before she turned to give Sea assistance. There was no sign of the woman and she decided Sea was just taking her time. Turning back around, she began to look at the area. Sitting, she laid back on the ground, her body ached and for the first time, she felt a tinge of fear. Always being the person to instill fear in someone else she did not enjoy the sensation.

It was the silence that awakened her. Asterea opened her eyes and suddenly realized she had fallen asleep. Sitting, she glanced around, there was not sign of Ann. "Dam, woman what have you gone and gotten yourself into now." Muttering to herself, she began to retrace her steps back down. It was as she neared the first ledge, her eyes spied the woman. She was laying on her back at the bottom and from the looks of her, Asterea surmised, she had fallen. Quickly making her way back down, she hurried to the limp body. Dropping to her knees, her hands brushing Sea's face as she queried, "Sea, wake up, what happened?"

She didn't move and it was then Asterea stood, looked up the river and saw a low rise. Bending over, she scooped Sea up and cradled the woman against her, then began walking. By the time she reached the area, her legs were beginning to feel like jell and it didn't take long to find a cove.
Carefully laying the woman down, she began to gather pieces of wood and proceeded to build a small fire. When she was finished she walked back toward Sea, she had a nasty cut on her head, her clothes were torn and it looked like she had taken a bad fall. Taking the water skin, she began to dab water on her face, gently caressing as she urged, "Sea, come on, wake up."

It seemed like an eternity before there was movement and Sea slowly opened her eyes to stare at the concerned face of Asterea.

Trying to move she found Asterea's hands forcing her down, "Stay."

"Wha...what happened?

"You must have taken a fall, I told you to stay below."

The woman went to say something and drifted off Asterea, watched her and finally said, "Nope, you cannot go to sleep. I had a mate that took a nasty spill once and drifted off to sleep, he never woke up. Come on, wake up, keep those beautiful green eyes open."

It had been a fight, Sea cursing her and the woman forcing her stay awake. Finally toward daybreak, Asterea drifted off to sleep, feeling she had kept the woman awake long enough.

Sea opened her eyes, started to move and groaned. Every bone in her body ached and the throbbing in her head was making her nauseous. Reaching up she touched the side of her head and grimaced. Bringing her hand down, she gazed at the red color that adorned several fingers. "Blood! Gods, how did this happen?" With great difficulty she sit up and gazed around. There was the
remnants of what had been a fire. Gazing at the sand, she could tell that someone else had been lying nearby. Crawling toward the spot, she reached out and traced the pattern, whoever it was, was of good built. Turning to gaze out at the water she began to wonder where she was.

Sitting, she grasped her head with her hands and held tight. From the feel of it, she thought it might roll off. "Who could have done this to me, and why?" She heard her own voice but did not realize she had spoken. Moving slowly toward the ashes of what had been a campfire, she reached out and touched them with her fingers. Immediately she knew how long they had been out. Reaching down and taking the water-skin, she held it up and let the water cascade down upon her head. Then she tore off a piece of her tunic and wrapped it around her head. Taking the last sip of water, she stood.

Suddenly she could hear names, and see pictures passing before her. Sea, Asterea, Gina, Kierea, Saxton, Will, Gabrielle, Xena... Who were these people, and who was she?


Sea was sitting, trying to figure many things out when she heard the approaching footsteps. Glancing around she looked for a place to hide. There wasn't any and so she stood, waiting to see who would walk around the bend. Before long the tall woman came into sight. She was carrying some vegetables in her arms.

"Stop!" Sea's words were threatening and the woman stopped. She gazed at her and said, "Thought you might be hungry this morning. Found a few vegetables. What has gotten into you?"

Reaching up to touch her head, Sea asked, "Do I know you?"

"Sure you do, come on this is not the time to play games."

Sea stepped back as she said, "How do I know you are telling me the truth and it wasn't you that gave me this bump on the head?"

"Because it wasn't, if it had been me, I would have finished the job instead of tending to you all night. Now, can I come on in or do we have to go rounds?"

Shrugging her shoulders, Sea watched the woman come closer. She was pretty, her long hair shinning in the rays of the sun only added to the woman's statuesque build. Her clothes and the condition she was in matched Sea's and she wondered if they really had been together in some way. Asterea attempted to hand a vegetable to her and said, "Eat, it is not the best but it will
fill up that empty hole in your stomach." She sat and waited for Sea to join her.

It wasn't long before Sea dropped to her knees and said, "I am hungry, thanks." She took the vegetable and began to scarf it down, in between bites she asked, "Who are you?"

Asterea was taking a bite and almost choked on it as she stuttered, "Who am I? Don't you know?"

Shaking her head, Sea answered, "No, I have many names in my head but I don't know who I am nor who you are. I guess you must be a friend, please tell me where we are, how we got here and who in Hades am I."

Laughing, Asterea whispered to herself, "This is too good to be true," she gazed at the woman and said, "pass me the water-skin?"

Within moments she tossed it to the woman as she said, "Empty."

Jumping to her feet, Asterea stuttered, "What? Where is the water, it was almost full last night?"

Leaning back, Sea explained, "Used most of it on my head. Why? There is a lot of water out there?"

Having a hard time believing these words were coming from this amazing woman, Asterea said, "You can't drink that water. Do you realize you have left us out here with nothing to quench our thirst?"

Looking around, Sea answered, "Must be a spring or something near here, maybe even a village."

Getting to her feet, Asterea said, "There is, and the people there are hunting for us. If they catch us, it will mean a lot of pain before killing us. Now, let's go."

Scrambling to her feet, Sea muttered, "I don't understand any of this, and I am not going anywhere with you till you tell me who you are and just who I am!"

Biting her lower lip, Asterea walked up to the woman, reached out and touched her face, "Your name is Asterea and some people call me Ann Bounty. Come, I'll tell you more on the way."

Sea followed the woman her head full of questions...


Chapter Forty One


It was a beautiful night, the stars were out in all their glory, making it easy to stay on course.

He had been standing at the helm. The trip was a good one, they had not encountered bad weather and within days would be able to see the outline of Alexandria. He had hoped the trip would have allowed him to get to know Gina better, but, she had made every effort to elude him. He knew that his men were probably talking behind his back, and he also knew it was not a good sign. To many, it seemed the woman was ruling his life, and he was merely a thread wrapped around her finger. A thread that she could discard at any given moment.

Leiah had been right. He was going to have to prove himself in battle and pray his men would follow. Silver had never taken a woman that did not desire him. And he had now found himself in a dilemma where this beautiful blond was concerned. There had never been anyone that had held off his charms like this one. "Dam you Ann Bounty!" He glanced around and realized his thought had become vocal. He was thankful there was no one within earshot to have heard.

As much as he hated Ann Bounty, he cared for the woman Gina. She was young, and he couldn't help but think that the fiery pirate had given her some sort of potion. Shaking his head he thought, "There is no other reason Gina would push me away... for her." He knew he wouldn't give up without a fight. And getting Gina to finally admit Ann was dead, was his first step toward a
conquest, he had been keeping in check.

His eyes had come to rest on the woman as she paced the deck. He had never seen anyone with such determination. Gina had acknowledged him when she walked onto the deck but did not tarry. The woman was now leaning on the railing, her back was to him and it seemed she was mesmerized by the vastness of the ocean.

It was then, one of his men approached and asked a question, reluctantly he took his gaze from the woman.


She took a deep breath and inhaled the fresh ocean air. It seemed to give her body a new resurgence of hope. Resting her arms on the railing, she listened to the sound of the waves lapping against the bow as the ship moved easily through the water. "Sea, I hope you can hear me, I pray you know I am coming back." her voice was low, words almost a whisper and with each one
she felt a pain within her heart. Her thoughts traveled back to a night like this and a time that seemed so long ago.


She was sitting on the deck, part of a fish net laying across her lap. Gina's thoughts were centered on getting it fixed. She was so deeply concentrating on what she was doing, she didn't even hear the woman when she neared. "Pity the fish that gets caught in that now."

Stopping what she had been doing, Gina looked up, Ann Bounty was beaming down at her. The minute Gina saw her, she felt a wondrous sensation in the pit of her stomach.. Ann always had this amazing effect on her.

Sea...How long have you been standing there?"

Sitting down beside the woman, Sea crossed her legs, and replied, "Long enough to see you were deeply into it. I couldn't help but feel a tinge of envy."

Seeming surprised, Gina gazed at the woman, "Envy? Wh---y?" The gentle breeze was ever so gently moving the woman's fiery hair about her head. Her green eyes had been captured by the rays of the moon and as she looked into Gina's, the woman felt as if she would melt into them.

Smiling, Sea whispered, "Because it had your deep concentration. And I can think of a much better place for you to be so attentive."

Feeling a sudden warmth creep up her neck and soon settle upon her face, Gina stuttered, "Ge... Gol...Sea, do you know just what you do to me?"

Reaching out, Sea cupped the woman's chin in the palm of her right hand.

"Love, do you know what you do to me? I have not been the same woman since you came into my life. I feel so many different things now. Life, love, happiness..." Grinning she added, "Did I ever tell you how beautiful you are when you blush?"

Reaching up, she grasped Sea's hand, slowly lowering it, she held it to her chest, "Feel," "see what you do to me, my heart is beating out a rhythm all it's own."

For an instant it almost looked like Sea was going to cry. She leaned forward, lowered her head and murmured, "I love you," her lips caressed Gina's with a softness she had never felt before. When Sea drew back, she added, "have I ever told you, you make my life complete. I never want to lose you, promise me you will never leave."

The woman was so beautiful, her words were poignant and it took a few moments before Gina whispered, "I promise. If you ever wish to rid yourself of me, pirate, it will not be easy."

"Good, because I would die if you would leave me to a fate worse than death, a life without you darling."

Moving close, Gina lay her head on the woman's chest, snuggling as she said, "I will never leave you." She could hear Sea's heart beating madly within her chest as she added, "ummm seems there is something I need to attend to pirate, lie back."

"Wha...what are you talking about," Sea stammered."

The minute her back touched the ship's deck, Gina was on top of her. She seemed to delight in this turn of events. Sea gazed up at the mischievous look on the woman's face as she said, "All right, I give. You know we cannot do anything out here, one of my men might stumble upon us."

Gina didn't move, she had rested her arms on the woman's chest, her face beaming down at the woman. "They know, it would not be something new to them."

Attempting to move but finding the woman not willing to budge, Sea bit at her lower lip as she said, "Gina...Now Gina, we have to talk."

The woman's light brown eyes were gleaming and her mischievous smile brought out the dimples that made Sea weak in the knees.

"Gods woman! You know I..."

Gina lowered her head, her lips caressing the woman's neck. Sea squirmed as Gina whispered, "Better give it up pirate, because before this night is through, I am going to have all of you."

As quickly as it had started, Sea moved and before Gina knew what had happened, she soon found herself flat on her back and Sea straddling her. Reaching out, Sea grasped Gina's wrists and pinned her to the deck. "Think that was cute don't you. I feel I must finish what you have started. Are you ready to give?"

Giggling, Gina managed to say, "I give, I give...Please pirate, do not hurt me."

Sea glanced around, she was happy for the barrels that obscured their position as she said, "You are beautiful. And such a tease my love."

Gina was all to aware of Sea and the position she was in as she said, "I...I didn't mean..."

"Oh but you did, and you my dear are going to pay and I mean pay."

"But I don't have any..."

"All the treasures in the world would not suffice my love."

Squirming, Gina panted, "Then what?"

Pulling her legs in tighter, she held the woman and lowered her head, placing soft kisses about her face. Gina started to say something and Sea whispered, "Shhhh," as her mouth met Gina's with a burning desire, the woman squirmed with delight.

A loud noise brought her out of her reverie and Gina could sense her body was very hot. Ann Bounty had managed to reach out and grasp her without even being there. The emptiness she had been feeling overtook her like a storm on a summer night. Sensing the loss, Gina gazed up at the sky. She would do whatever it took to have Ann Bounty back into her life. There were so many
stars in the heavens, it was a beautiful night. Finding the words, Gina whispered, "Radiant star, glowing in the sky so high, please carry my love to Ann. Let her know she will always be, within my heart and close to me." She turned and went below, back to the empty room and high hopes of soon finding Sea.


They had been riding for days and were now traveling the rest of the way on foot. The heat, the sand, the insects, had begun to take a toll on their small group. When Gabrielle collapsed and refused to move another step, Xena decided to to put up camp.

Xena had gone ahead to do some scouting. Gabrielle wanted to go but she finally persuaded the woman to stay behind and help get things settled.

They weren't far from the crossing and soon would be at the encampment. Everyone was apprehensive. They all wanted to see Ann and have her released. And at the same time they feared what might have happened to the woman. Though everyone was afraid to say it, they also feared the first time Mary and Ann set eyes on one another.

Mary Ready had her own demons to deal with and most of the group left her alone. Everyone that is, except Gabrielle. She would bide her time and search the woman out. At first Mary thought Gabrielle wanted to cause her trouble but after awhile she realized, the woman was facing her own

Will and Saxton had gone down to the inlet to cool off. The two women had been invited but both refused. Once the men were out of sight, Gabrielle walked toward Mary Ready. The woman was stretching out under a shade tree. Nearing, she paused and said, "Mary, is it all right if I sit?"

Gazing up at the woman, Mary mumbled, "Sit, this is a big camp. Why here?"

Dropping to her knees, she answered, "I wanted to apologize to you."

Ignoring the woman and turning onto her right side, Mary replied, "Nothing to apologize for."

"Yes, there is. I should never have challenged you without knowing what had happened. I know you, I should have realized, you would not change."

Quickly sitting up, the woman reached out and grasped Gabrielle's right arm. "You don't know me, you only think you do. I did it, I turned my best friend over to her enemy. It was my fault and is my fault she is where she is."

Grimacing at the vice like grip the woman had on her arm, Gabrielle said, "I am not the enemy."

Realizing what she was doing, Mary released her arm apologizing, "Sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you."

Sitting, Gabrielle gazed at the woman and said, "I know how hard this has been on you. I also know how much you still love Sea. I only hope we can get this point across before she goes off half cocked and tries to do you harm."

"Let her, I deserve it."

Gabrielle fumed, "Stop that! You are better than this. I know you, have you forgotten?"

"No, but you seemed to."

"I have apologized. Please, Mary, talk to me. I am worried about you, every since we started this trip, you have become so quiet."

"Not much to be happy over. Except for setting a wrong I did, right. There is nothing I need to be joyous over."

"Sure you do, you are alive, well and you have your life ahead of you."

Managing a smile, Mary said, "I always wondered just where you get all of your exuberance. Don't be concerned about me, maybe you should start worrying about yourself."

Seeming quite perplexed, Gabrielle asked, "Me? What do you mean, I have nothing to worry about." Mary's blue eyes caught Gabrielle's in a knowing look as she answered, "You do. You might have Xena convinced but not me."

By this time she had scrambled to her feet, as she muttered, "Forget it."

Mary quickly sprang to her feet, declaring, "Nope, you don't just walk away."

Scowling at the woman, Gabrielle said, "And who is going to stop me!?"

Mary had now planted herself in front of Gabrielle and said, "Me. Face it, you will have to soon anyway."

Gabrielle seemed startled as she asked, "Tell me, since you seem to be dying to anyway, Just what do you think I have to face?"

Mary's eyes were full of concern as she uttered, "Ann. Don't deny it, I know the two of you are close."

Shrugging her shoulders, Gabrielle said, "Once. We are good friends and we will always be that." Stretching, Mary seemed to be enjoying the feel of her body as she tried to remove kinks that had settled in places she never knew existed. "You love the woman. When you found out about Sea, and knew I had been responsible, your actions spoke louder than any words."

"I apologized to you. Can't you let it drop?"

"Sure, but will Xena?"

Throwing up her hands Gabrielle pushed past the woman as she said, "I will not play your little game, whatever it is. Sea and I are friends. Xena knows all about my past. I am going to go find Will and Saxton. Maybe you should also, I think you could use a cool dip."

Chuckling to herself, Mary called out, "Maybe but the water is not cool enough to control what is going on in your body. Admit it, you are still head over Mount Olympus and more in love with Ann Bounty, than you ever were!"

Gabrielle raised her right arm and waved back as her fading words reached Mary, "Think what you will, you are wrong!"

Shaking her head Mary whispered, "No, and Xena is no fool." She laid back down, hoping to be able to get some much needed rest.


Chapter Forty Two


The woman was squatting, her eyes taking in the surrounding area. It had grown dark since she left Gabrielle and the others at camp. She had planned on returning as soon as she looked around. The restful sound of the river as it moved casually on it's route, along with the night air had given the
woman occasion to pause. Xena wanted to obtain the release of Ann Bounty but at the same time, she felt a twinge of jealousy crawl through her body.

She knew Gabrielle had broken off all serious ties with the woman, still she felt a nervous twinge that she had not been able to shake. Ann had been a good friend to her as well as Gabrielle but the fact the two shared a bond that even she had not been able to sever completely gave the woman cause to worry.

She had been tracing the sand with a twig, finally tossing it, she stood. Hands on her hips, she stared at the crossing just ahead of her. Taking a moment to look back, Xena picked up her step and strode toward the lone raft that was tied, floating at the landing. As she approached , she looked around to see if anyone was in the area. Finally she called out, "Hello! Anyone here?"

There was no answer, so she stepped aboard and released the tie. Her strong arms began to pull the rope that was attached to the raft and the landing on the other side of the river. It took more strength than she thought it would to finely pull herself across. After landing, she tied the raft off and
started toward the camp. Her mind going over what she would say when Ann and her met. Xena knew she would have time to talk to her before they arrived at camp. She wanted to be able to fill her in on what had been happening, and maybe on the way find out just where this dashing pirates mind set was with Gabrielle.

Stopping to gaze at the half moon, her thoughts went back to the woman she had fallen so deeply in love with. Gabrielle was the most wonderful woman she had ever known. She prayed the woman would not be to angry she went on ahead. Sighing, she realized Gabrielle would not be a happy woman and would probably give her a piece of her mind.

Smiling to herself, she new the outcome would be well worth it.

A slight breeze had come up, and was now gently moving her lustrous dark hair. Xena had been able to find the path and seemed to be making good time. Her thoughts were now on confronting the guards and getting Ann Bounty's release. The rest would fall into place.

She had been so deep in thought she never even heard the men until they stepped from the bushes, swords in hand and she found herself surrounded.

"Halt!" The man's words were ominous and she immediately stopped. Translucent blue's gazed around at the menacing appearance of the men. Noticing a taller man walking toward her, Xena set her full attention on him, "I come in peace," she asserted.

He approached her, his eyes taking in the woman's statuesque form. His weapon held tightly in his left hand. "Who are you and what are you doing near our village at this hour?"

"My name is Xena and I have come to get the release of a prisoner named Ann Bounty."

She thought these words would settle things immediately, instead she felt a stabbing pain in the back of her head and blackness.


Gabrielle had walked the length of camp so many times she was making everyone sick to their stomach. It was finally Mary that stepped out in front of the woman. "Mary! What are you doing, trying to scare the begees out of me?"

Once again Mary Ready found herself having to fight a grin. Gabrielle was such a sight. "No, I wanted you to stop this confounded pacing before the entire camp gets so dizzy they become sick.

Glancing around at Will and Saxton, a guilty look crossed her face as she muttered, "Didn't mean to get everybody's attention. Guess I have been walking in circles. Sorry."

Mary was standing beside the woman as she replied, "You are worried about her, it is understandable. Xena should have been back by now."

Gabrielle' eyebrows raised in astonishment as she exclaimed, "There, you see! I have not been the only person wondering. I think I should go look for her."

Reaching out, Mary placed her right hand on the woman's shoulder and said, "Not a good idea, it is too dark, and who knows what you might encounter out there. I don't want to send someone out to look for you, then perhaps someone to look for them, until there are none. If she doesn't return my morning, we will all go look."

Turning, her eyes imploring the woman she whispered, "What if Xena needs me? What if she has fallen into something?"

Gazing out at the darkness, Mary answered, "She's a big girl and I am sure if she has fallen into something she will get herself out. Besides, we both know Xena is too crafty to let this happen. Now, I suggest you get some sleep," she glanced at the two men adding, "all of us."

They smiled and watched the two women walk away. Will looked at Saxton, "Do you think something has happened to Xena?"

The man thought for a few minutes then replied, "I think perhaps our warrior friend has gone ahead."

Seeming surprised at the man's answer, Will said, "Nah, she wouldn't do that," his eyes were locked with Saxtons's, "would she?"

Scratching his head, Saxton answered, "I think she would. I have seen the look in her eyes when she is with the, little one."

Will was totally confused now as he asked, "Little one? Come on Saxton, just who is this little one you often talk about?"

Turning to stare at this young man, he said, "It is a term I gave her a long time ago. Gabrielle, will always be, little one to me."

Wills' eyes grew wide as he pursued his line of questioning, "You knew Gabrielle? How well, tell me, I want to know all about her?"

Saxton chuckled, "Seems you want to know all about Gina also. Tell me young man, has Gabrielle given you reason to think something might be there between the two of you."

Shaking his head Will answered, "Not hardly, she has threatened me a few times. But I like her and she likes me even though she won't admit it. I know she and Xena are tied at the waist. If you won't tell me that, then how about this look she is giving to Gabrielle that you seemed to have picked up on?

"It is just the look in her eyes at times. I think the woman fears Ann coming back into Gabrielle's life."

Will was sitting, his eyes glued to the older man and it was apparent Saxton was not going to get any rest until he told the man what he wanted to know. Sighing, Saxton whispered, "All right, but no sense in waking the women, get your things, we'll go look for Xena and on the way, I'll tell you what I can."

Within moments, Will had grabbed his belongings and followed the man from the camp.


Slowly opening her eyes, the woman groaned. Her head felt as if a Hydra had ran over her. Starting to move, she realized her hands were confined. It took a few moments to rid her head of the groggy sensation before she realized she was tied to an wooden pillar. Pulling herself up, she stood, placing a lot of her weight against the pillar. Her eyes glancing upward, at the same time a shooting pain shot through her head. She was trussed up like some wild animal. Try as hard as she could, it made no sense. All she wanted to do was get Ann Bounty's release, instead they had captured her. "Misunderstanding," she heard her despondent voice as she continued, "Hey!
Anyone, this is a big mistake!"

Her yelling finally brought a young woman from a hut. She walked toward Xena, her face fearful and as she neared she said, "Do you want to bring their wrath down on all us women?"

Totally confused, Xena answered, "No, why do you think this would happen? Who are you and why am I tied up like some animal?"

"My name is not important but you seem to be a friend of Ann Bounty's."

Xena nodded, "I am, where is she?"

The woman glanced around the area before she continued, "Escaped, injured a guard."

Cursing under her breath Xena said, "Damn! Ann, couldn't you wait," her eyes were gazing at the woman as she continued, "Why did they do this to me, I didn't even know she had?"

Shrugging her shoulders the woman answered, "You seem to be a friend and right now any friend of the beautiful red head is an enemy to them."

Struggling with her ties with little success, Xena muttered, "They can't hold me, I haven't done them any harm."

Raising her arms toward the sky, the woman replied, "Where you are at this time, they can do whatever they wish. I am sorry for your troubles. Your friend Ann Bounty saved my life."

"Then help me, cut the ties."

"Can't, I fear them to much. Please forgive me," she turned and hurried away leaving Xena calling after her.

Xena's strength had returned and the woman strained against the tight rawhide that held her fast. Her wrists raw, she finally stopped, raised her head and let out the most amazing war cry anyone had ever heard. this brought every person still in the village running out. All with looks of
terror on their faces. They stopped when they saw the woman, each amazed that such a ferocious sound could come from one so beautiful.

Xena scowled at them, "Well, come on, one of you release me!"

They seemed to be hesitating and it was then a young boy stepped forward. "I know who you are, your the one they call, "The Warrior Princess."

Xena nodded, "That's right, can you find someone to cut me loose?"

He glanced around before he stepped close to her whispering, "Shh, if they hear you, they will kill you as well as us."

By this time her patience had completely dissipated and she grumbled, "If someone doesn't cut me loose from here, I'll pull the blasted thing from the ground. Then you people will have some one to fear."

Placing the blade between his teeth, he began to pull himself up the pillar. Xena was amazed at the young man's skill. He was soon near the top and quickly severed the ties that held her. The minute she brought her arms down, he had already slid to the bottom and was now staring up at her. "I
cut you loose, now you must leave."

Removing the remaining straps of leather from her wrists, Xena said, "I have Ann Bounty's release, I brought it from Cleopatra."

He laughed, "That will do you no good, she attacked a guard and they can hold her for that. Your piece of paper is just that, a piece of paper and here all it could do is add kindling to a fire. Go, leave while you can."

Seeming worried, Xena pleaded, "What of you and your people? I can't leave you to the likes of them. When they find me gone, someone will pay."

He shrugged his shoulders, "We will tell them of your powers and strength. Go, please."

Managing a smile she said, "I will, but first, you must tell me why you risked everything to help me."

He glanced at the woman, Xena had spoken to earlier, "Because your friend Ann Bounty saved my sister's life. I owed her and since you are her friend, I have repaid my debt."

Nodding, she grasped his hand in a firm shake and said, "Peace be with you and your sister."

The boy watched until the woman was out of sight, then turned to his sister and said, "I'll get the rest of the leather tie down, leave no trace of it. There must be no evidence Xena was ever here."

The villagers went about their task as the woman said, "That was a brave thing you did, what if she had not been who she said she was? Harm could have come to us."

He smiled, "I knew, there is no one that can do a war cry like the woman. Besides, she is the most beautiful woman I have ever set my eyes on."

His sister laughed, "Seems you said the same thing about the red head. I fear you will be a handful once grown brother."

He laughed as he shimmied back up the pillar.

Xena hurried through the cover of night, her feet taking her back toward the river. She was nearing the bottom when she heard a familiar voice, "Xena! What are you doing clear out here and why are you moving like the Banshees are after you?"

Quickly stopping, her eyes widened as Will and Saxton stepped from the shadows. "I might ask, what the two of you are doing out here and just when I might expect to see Gabrielle and Mary step out?"

Saxton smiled, "Left them back at camp, both sleeping."

"Seems that is what the two of you should be doing."

Saxton looked behind her as he asked, "Where's Ann, is she far behind?"


Will had noticed the woman's look and said, "Something has happened, am I right?"

Taking a deep breath, Xena said, "I wish you were wrong. Yes, something has happened."

Saxton was on the defensive, the man's face was smoldering, "What happened? Tell us, where is Ann?"

Xena listened for a second then said, "We have to get out of here, let's get back to camp, on the way I will tell you."

Saxton held back, "No, I am going to go get her."

Reaching out, Xena placed her right hand on the man's shoulder it was then he noticed her wrists were bleeding. "She escaped. Now, come on we don't have a lot of time."

He nodded and followed her, "I'll go, only because I need to know what is going on. Why did you take it upon yourself to go and do this alone. We all came to help?"

As they pushed off, Xena found it much easier going back. With the two men's added strength the raft made it's way across quickly. After tying it off they started toward camp. Saxton reached out and grasped her right arm, "Tell me Xena, the truth, no harm came to Ann by you?"

Seeming surprised, she answered, "No, I haven't seen her, she and the one called Asterea are out there somewhere, running from their captors."

He growled, "Gods, Ann and the woman that was the cause we almost lost her."

"Fraid so, and we need to get back to camp, get the others up and find them before the guards do."

Will mumbled, "Seems you are not welcome there now, so it would be obvious we won't be. How can we search for them and avoid the others?"

Grinning, Xena answered, "I have many skills, come on let's get back."

They all heaved a sigh of relief when they approached the camp. Xena was excited to see Gabrielle and for the rest of this night, she wanted to share a few precious moments. The second their feet were planted firmly in camp, they all sensed an unusual feeling run through their bodies. Xena hurried toward the spot she knew Gabrielle would be. She stopped so quickly that Will ran into Saxton. They stared at the area, a look of dismay on their faces.

continued in part eight, chapter forty three


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