Deciphering The Scrolls
by Azurenon & Savanna Mac
Please see part one for all disclaimers.
Mel was awaken by a long drawn out groan close to her ear. A hand was clutching her waist, almost painfully. "Janice... Janice, wake up, love," she said, grabbing this arm and shaking it.
"No-o-o-o!" Janice cried out, her grip tightening, her fingernails digging into Melís flesh.
"Please, love... youíre... hurtiní me!" Mel whimpered, grabbing her lover by the shoulder now and shaking hard. "Jan-nice!" she exclaimed. "WAKE UP!"
Suddenly her lover sat up in bed, knocking her hand away in the process.
"Hey... you alright?" Mel queried, raising up on her elbows, though unable to see more than her loverís outline in the darkness.
"M-Mel," Janice stuttered.
"Yes love, Iím right here."
"Yea Gods above," Janice breathed, suddenly reaching out for Mel and nearly throwing herself against her. The onslaught was so unexpected, the tall brunette fell back on the bed, taking Janice with her. But not before the latterís left arm went around her, holding on tightly as if for dear life.
"Sh-h," Mel soothed, both arms going around her lover, her right hand pressing Janiceís head against her shoulder. She stroked the soft, silky tresses, feeling her bedmateís heartbeat against her ribs, as it gradually slowed in rhythm. "Bad dream?" she queried, a few moments later.
"Ter-rible," Janice whimpered. "You... were shot!"
"Hmph," Mel grunted. "I donít like the sound of that. Who shot me?"
"That... warlordís son, remember?" Janice sniffled. "The arrow in your side..."
"Arrow," Mel murmured, before realizing her lover must have been dreaming about Xena and Gabrielle, not the two of them. Then again, maybe she was dreaming about us... in another lifetime, she corrected herself. Yet, Janiceís use of the word you caused Mel to wonder if she was truly awake.
"Hmm?" her lover whimpered, trying to snuggle even closer, which wasnít possible.
Well, at least she knows her name, she thought. "You... you were dreaming about Xena and Gabrielle, werenít you?" she asked.
Janice stiffened in her arms. Then she cleared her throat. "Uh... yeah, I guess I was," she said, in a bit stronger voice, while slowly loosening her death grip.
Mel took a deep breath. "Wanna tell me about it?"
Janice cleared her throat again. "No, I... it was just... just a silly dream."
"Maybe... maybe not," Mel suggested.
"Had to be."
"Why do you say that?"
"íCause I... Gabrielle..." Janice paused and rolled over on her back. "Theyíd just met a few weeks before and I... Gabrielle was... gonna have to remove the arrow from your... I mean Xenaís side. But, she didnít know anything about things like that back then, so... she couldnít have done that. It was just..."
"She did exactly that," Mel interjected. "Itís in one of the scrolls you havenít read yet."
"But, how could she... she didnít..."
"Xena told her what to do."
Janice whimpered and quickly rolled back over into Melís arms. "Wha-at... I donít understand..." Her voice was a low, nearly inaudible squeak. "...whatís... happening. None of this... makes any sense! Itís scary... I... I donít think Iíve ever felt so... afraid of anything in my entire life!"
Mel could feel her loverís body shaking slightly, from her sobs or from her fear, she wasnít sure. But, she pulled her close and planted a kiss on top of the soft blonde locks. The familiarity of this movement was not lost on her in the slightest. For, sheíd been having dreams about Xena and Gabrielle ever since the tomb, but they were often quite vague. And sheíd been afraid to mention them to Janice, knowing the latter would try and explain them away, the very same way Mel had tried to a first; assuming them to be just a product of an overactive imagination. Now however, Mel was sure this wasnít so. She had seen too much and felt too much -on too deep a level- for it to be just her imagination. And now Janice had dreamed about a scene in which she hadnít even read.
"Thereís nothing to be afraid of," Mel whispered. "Give yourself time to accept what your heart and soul are trying to tell you. Donít fight it, love. There may well be a reason for it."
"Whaddaya mean... reason for it?" Janice sniffled.
"Well, I just believe that... everything happens for a reason. I canít say I know what the reason is, most of the time. Well, no actually, hardly any of the time when Iím in the midst of... whatever is going on. Itís only afterwards that... I can see a reason for it." Mel paused, her left hand drawing lazy circles on Janiceís back. "Coming here, for instance... meeting you... it just feels like... it was meant to be, ya know. I... I feel like Iíve found... a part of me thatís been missing all this time."
"Soul mates?" Janice whispered.
A slow smile crept onto Melís face. "Yes, my soul mate. And... youíre it, love. I finally found you again."
Janice raised up slightly and maneuvered herself over on top of Mel, her desire settling against that of her loverís. Then she eased down very slowly; their bodies coming together a little at a time.
Mel was slightly surprised by her loverís actions; for, this didnít seem like the appropriate time for making love. Then again, what is the appropriate time? she wondered.
"I wanna... touch you, everywhere," Janice murmured, putting all her weight on Mel, as she pushed the latterís arms up and away from their bodies, covering them with her own. Their fingers interlaced, at the same time that Janice positioned her legs on top of Melís; her feet pressed against the top of her loverís.
Mel couldnít help but moan at the delicious feeling this elicited inside. She felt as if they were one person... one heartbeat... one soul... one desire. And that desire being to be as close as possible, always.
"Umm, it does feel as if weíre one," Janice whispered near her ear, as if sheíd read her mind. "I wish we never had to separate."
"Yes love, me too."
"I wish... I could crawl inside you," Janice continued, "feel what you feel... see what you see... think your thoughts... be a part of you."
"You are a part of me," Mel said softly and honestly. "You will always be a part of me."
"Oh... dear god... are you as hot... as I am?" Janice whispered.
"Mo-ore!" Mel hissed, already having felt the moisture between her own thighs.
"I need to... taste you," Janice announced, her voice deep and husky with desire, as she started down her loverís body.
"Turn around," Mel suggested a few moments later, when her loverís tongue neared her mound. "I need you, too."
Mel was first to crest the heights of passion, Janice following closely on her heels. Once on the other side, the two soul mates floated on a cloud of sheer ecstasy; their physical bodies lying limp and exhausted back on earth.
Dressed for work, Janice sat down on the edge of the bed and gave her lover a parting kiss.
Mel could see the look of indecision in her eyes and knew what it was about. "Still undecided about removing those weapons?" she queried. Janice nodded. "Then perhaps it would be a good idea to... spend some time alone in the temple." Janice frowned. "After all, its her temple. Perhaps... asking permission to remove things would... ease your mind."
Janice sat there, still frowning, her eyes belying the fact that she was considering this. Suddenly, she reached out and touched Melís cheek. "You know, you are one smart lady. I think I should listen to you more often."
"More often? How about all the time?"
"Hmph, letís not go overboard," Janice quipped. Then in a more serious tone added, "I love you, Mel. More than anyone... ever. These last few weeks..." She paused, running her index finger over her loverís lips. "...theyíve been... wonderful. And... well, I just donít know how Iíve managed to live without you in my life. I know I couldnít do without you now." She shook her head. "No, I wouldnít want to live without you. And thatís the honest truth." She then sealed this admission with a passionate kiss.
"Come home for lunch," Mel whispered, as Janice broke away.
"Count on it." Janice got up from the bed. "Oh and before I forget again... look in the bottom drawer of the nightstand. Thereís something I think you might find... interesting."
"And what might that be?" Mel queried. "Another scroll?"
Janice nodded. "Iíve meant to tell you about it several times, but... I keep forgetting, with all thatís been going on."
Mel grunted. "Guess I can understand that," she agreed, with a heavy sigh. "Donít forget lunch. Iím making homemade soup."
"Umm, sounds delicious. Iíll be here."
It was near lunch time, the workmen already having left the temple, where Janice had them shoring up the right wall, around the ruined hole sheíd made previously from the other side. She didnít want to take the chance of another cave-in, when they broke through this wall. For, although she and the workmen were entering from the hole in the ceiling of the temple -the one Mel had fallen through- she knew this way would not be as safe or convenient to carry out the removal of the weapons. The latter situation of which was still weighing heavy on her mind.
Alone at last, she stood at the foot of the stone staircase, gazing up at the painting of Artemis, the patron goddess of the Amazons. I feel kinda foolish doing this, she thought. Iíve seldom prayed to any god, much less a goddess. Well, actually I guess Iím not so much praying, Iím...
"I donít know what Iím doing," she mumbled aloud, as she lowered her eyes and toed the ground in front of her.
Mel suggested I ... ask permission to... She paused in her thoughts. Do I talk out loud or... just think it? she wondered, her gaze returning to the goddessí face, as if it might provide some clue. Were you ever real? she pondered. Did they even know what you looked like? Or was this their ideal?
She shook her head to clear these extraneous thoughts. "Okay, here goes," she said aloud, her voice sounding rather loud in the dank stillness. "Better to just think it," she mumbled.
Okay, look... I... Iím a little... I feel a bit guilty about removing things from your temple and... I mean, I know it was dedicated to you and... your mate, I suppose. Her gaze roamed over to the painting of the other woman. And I... uh, well... I canít see what use youíd have for these weapons or... how theyíd do anyone any good staying here. They are Roman after all. And what theyíre doing here is a mystery in itself. At any rate, I... I guess Iím asking...
"Oh this sounds stupid," she chided herself. "I canít believe Iím standing here talking to... a painting. No oneís listening to this. Why am I doing it?"
Suddenly, there was a noise from the vicinity of the tunnel, between the two paintings. A chill ran up Janiceís spine, as she remembered Gabrielleís stories about the gods and goddesses appearing out of thin air. A few moments later, when nothing else happened, she released the breath she didnít even realize sheíd been holding.
Probably just... more rubble falling, she thought, Yeah, part of the ceiling. She felt her knees tremble slightly, as she closed her eyes.
"You were saying?" A husky, yet obviously feminine voice asked.
Janiceís eyes flew open and she quickly glanced around herself. But there was no one else around, but her. At least, she couldnít see anyone else, in the semi-darkness. If one of those things moves, she thought, referring to the large stalagmites, scattered all around, Iím outta here.
She then got tickled at her own self. "Oh great, just great," she mumbled aloud, "Now youíre hearing voices and... scaring your own self. This is just... silly. Yeah, thatís what it is, just plain silly! Besides, Iím hungry." She put one foot on the step and the ground beneath her feet rumbled. Another chill ran up her spine.
"O-o-kay," she said slowly, stepping back. "May-be itís... not so silly after all. Uh-umph..." She cleared her throat, her eyes darting around herself, just to make sure she was still alone. "Umm... I uh... I wanted to ask your permission to... um... remove the uh, weapons from your temple," she said, slowly and cautiously, her gaze returning to settle on the painting again. She held her breath, expecting another earth shaking rumble. "If you donít want me to... Iíll understand. I mean... I wouldnít wanna make you mad or... anything. ĎCause Iíd rather no one got hurt... ya know?" She paused again, waiting for some sign. But her question was met with only silence. "O-kay." She breathed a sigh of relief. "Iíll take that as a yes... I guess," she mumbled, wondering if she had just imagined that rumble.
"Yeah, right," she muttered, feeling absolutely foolish all over again for having said all these things. "Youíre losing it, Covington." She started up the steps. "Seeing visions... talking to nonexistent gods... spooking yourself over..."
The rumble started again and a bolt of lightning struck the top step, sending up a dense cloud of smoke. Janice threw up her arms to shield her face. The air hummed with electricity. Janice saw the hairs on her arm stand on end, right before a strong wind whipped in through the tunnel entrance and cleared away the smoke.
"Ho-o-oly shi-it!" Janice exclaimed, taking a step back, while gawking at the apparition before her. Her legs went limp as noodles and down the stone steps she went, much faster than sheíd come up. She felt each one rake across her back and smack against her behind.
"Oops," said the husky female voice from before. "I forgot how you mortal types tend to react. You alright?"
Janice groggily peered up at the apparition, through the space between her boots. "Y-Youíre... h-her," she uttered, a shaking finger rising to point at the painting.
"Yep. In the flesh, so the speak," the Moon Goddess answered, placing her hands on her hips. "But, I donít think that really does me justice, do you?"
Janiceís hand fell limply at her side; its owner having passed out.
Her eyes fluttered open. A wiggling blob was in front of her face. "How many fingers am I holding up?" a husky voice asked.
Janice turned her head slightly, to bring the blob into focus. "F-five."
"No, four fingers, one thumb, but... close enough. Wasnít sure I still knew how to do that spell."
Janice cut her eyes towards the voice and promptly wished she hadnít. "Oh-my-god!" she gasped, as if it were one word.
The lovely, feminine, bronze features contorted into a frown. "Better look again." The husky voice emanating from a pair of full, bow-shaped lips; a pair of unearthly amber colored eyes, looking downward.
Janiceís gaze followed the path of these ethereal orbs over smooth bronze skin to a shapely bosom. Two ample sized breasts encased in a very tight, revealing deerskin halter rose with the Goddessí inhalation. "Oof," the archaeologist breathed, realizing just how close these were to her own face; her head being cradled in the Goddessí arm.
"Never heard that one before, but... yeah, you wonít find a pair of these on my brother," Artemis said, proudly. "He got all the muscles in the family." She frowned slightly. "Not that he needs them, of course. Feeling better now?"
"Uh... uh-huh," Janice mumbled, as she attempted to sit up. The Moon Goddess reached out and took her hand and she was suddenly on her feet.
"Oops, steady now." Artemis put her arm around Janiceís shoulder to keep her from falling over. "I always forget how you mortal types move around. Bit too quick for you, was it?"
Janice blinked several times, her head spinning from more than just getting up so quickly. And it was also starting to throb. She reached up to the back of her head.
"Didnít take care of all the pain, did I?" Artemis queried. She put her hand over Janiceís and the latter felt a soothing warmth flow through her hand and into her head. The throbbing suddenly stopped, as if it had never been there. "I thought I might have left something out of that spell. Better now?"
"Um-hm," was all Janice could manage to say.
"Sorry about my entrance." Janice frowned up at the taller woman. "Making you fall and hit your head," the Moon Goddess qualified. "Iím a little rusty. Havenít made many personal appearances in a few centuries."
"Cen... turies..." Janice murmured, her eyes raking over the goddessí beautifully chiseled features: the strong jaw, petite nose, full bow-shaped lips, small dimple in the chin. Long, wavy dark brown hair was pulled over to the left side and held in place by a strip of leather -a small white feather attached- just beneath a perfectly shaped and proportioned ear. The painting doesnít do you justice, she thought.
"I guess itís okay for mortals. Especially Amazons," Artemis remarked, glancing up at the painting, as if sheíd read Janiceís thoughts. "They were always so busy having to fight off all those scum-bags... Ah, but... Iph looks good, donít you think?"
Janice merely nodded, her eyes never leaving the vision before her. Which is surely what this had to be, a vision of loveliness, right out of a dream. For never in her life had she seen such smooth skin. Not a freckle, nor a blemish... anywhere.
"íCourse I wouldnít want her to know I said that," Artemis rambled on. "She doesnít like the idea of being immortalized in stone. Being immortal is enough for her."
Janice was only half listening. Her eyes still working their way down, taking in every detail. The deerskin halter looked new. Her abdomen was rippled and taunt. Generously shaped thighs were revealed by the slit sides of the short loincloth. Smooth, muscular legs were encased below the knee in boots, without a scuff mark on them.
"You buying... or just browsing?" Artemis quipped.
Janice quickly glanced up to find the taller woman staring down at her, one dark brown eyebrow arched skyward. "S-s-sor-ry," she stammered, feeling the blood rush to her cheeks. She abruptly turned away and looked down at her feet. "I... Iíve n-never seen a g-god-dess b-before."
"Ah, you just donít remember," Artemis corrected. "Of course you never looked at me like that back then. Good thing, too," she mumbled, then cleared her throat. "Now about those weapons you want. Anything that isnít Greek or Amazon, especially... be my guest." She waved her right arm towards the shields, turning away and letting go of Janice. "After all, you helped defeat them. Disgusting Romans." She frowned. "Diana... what kind of name is that, I ask you? Their women were weak. Now Amazons... there were some true women. Proud warriors."
"I... I th-think I n-need to sit down," Janice muttered, easing down on the bottom step.
Artemis sighed heavily, her gaze riveted to the shields, seemingly lost in thought and oblivious to her mortal audience of one, as she continued in a softer tone. "Theyíre all gone now. The mighty nation destroyed... scattered to the four winds... thanks to my stepbrother Ares." The latter name coming out as a growl. "Iím sure glad you and Xena put him back where he belongs. You mortals fight enough as it is, without a god of war stirring up trouble." In a blur of movement, she was now facing Janice. "You know, I hear that your women in the States are joining the war effort against this bully in Germany. I still hold out hope for a revival of the Amazon Nation. But... I know most donít remember those days. At least, not consciously. Too far in the past. Even though for me, it feels like it was only yesterday." She sighed heavily once again, then suddenly disappeared from in front of Janice and reappeared right beside her. The latter squealed and nearly jumped out of her skin. "Sorry, I keep forgetting youíre not used to this." She gave Janiceís hand a brief, but warm and reassuring pat. "Now, about your scrolls.."
"Yes, little one, your scrolls, even if you donít remember. Now... you left them in my care here and Iíve watched over them for..." She paused and cleared her throat. "...a long time now, in your mortal years. But, I have to warn you... I canít promise Iíll be able to keep them safe if you take them out of my territory." Janice frowned slightly. "Out of Greece," the goddess qualified. "The only way I can be of any help to you, is if you ask. You do know you have to ask for my help... otherwise I have no right to intervene?"
Janice merely stared at the unearthly amber eyes that were searching hers, as if for an answer. She finally nodded, though she still wasnít sure about all this.
"Okay, just so we got that straight," Artemis continued, "I know youíve forgotten these things. You all do," she added in a much softer, sadder voice. "Itís not a lot of fun anymore, being a goddess whose seldom worshipped. Pretty sad, actually. Oh everyone remembers the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite.. Venus... theyíre always calling on her, but... my followers are few and far between these days. Some still remember the old ways, but... not many."
Janice could see the goddessí sadness in the ethereal eyes, the amber color turning a bit cloudy, the lovely bow-shaped lips drooping slightly at the corners. And although she was scared out of her wits, not to mention still not sure this wasnít a dream or hallucination of some kind, her heart went out to the beautiful vision beside her.
Artemis looked over at her. "Youíre tougher in this life... not as trusting nor as innocent, but your heartís still in the right place. And youíre still one of my favorites." The goddess flashed a beatific smile.
Janice gulped and swallowed hard, feeling very small, helpless and vulnerable beneath the ethereal stare. And yet, even so, a deeper part of her wanted to revel in this praise.
"Itís okay," Artemis said softly. "Iíll make sure you remember only what you need to about this meeting. It wonít be a conscious memory, only a... feeling... an instinct. Trust your instincts, little one. Theyíve been placed there to help guide you along your chosen path."
"A-and vi-visions, what about those?" Janice stammered.
"The memories are always in here," she said, tapping Janiceís chest. "Familiar surroundings often bring them into your conscious mind. Donít be afraid of them. They are your memories, you know. And they can be helpful. Xena is more in tune with her feelings in this lifetime. More innocent and pure of heart like you were back then. And have been since. But, this is what each of you chose to experience this time."
"Are you s-saying that w-we were... that rein-incarn...?."
"You know that already," Artemis interrupted. "You just donít want to accept it. You mortals have strayed so far from your true natures... from the natural world around you, that if you canít actually see, touch, taste or hear it with only the five senses you use, then you can not accept that itís real. But deep inside, in your souls, you do feel it and you do know itís real. You just have to trust those feelings, despite what anyone else may say. You had a famous bard who once wrote ĎTo thine own self be trueí and he was right. He was writing from that place deep inside himself. And so did you, many times. Itís all in those scrolls."
"I... I d-didnít write those," Janice protested.
Artemis shrugged. "Have it your way. Just remember what I said about them. You have to ask for my help. And you need to find a safe place for them. The symbol you used before..." She paused, as the circle with the cross attached beneath it appeared before Janiceís eyes in shimmering Technicolor. "...use this again in the safe place that you choose. Itíll strike a chord in your memory, if you need to find them again. Your world is not quite ready for these yet, Iím afraid. The future should hold a place for them, however. You knew this back then and you know it now. Otherwise, why else would you be here?"
"My f-father, he was searching for them. He led me here, I canít take credit for..."
"He never found them," Artemis interrupted. "You did."
"Yes, but... they were his lifeís work. His dream and... he died never knowing that he was so close to..." Tears welled up in Janiceís eyes and she couldnít finish.
Artemis eased her arm around the mortalís shoulder. "Listen, little one, Iím not here to answer all your questions. I couldnít, even if I wanted to. Zeus knows Iíve probably said far too much as it is." She glanced around them, a worried expression on her face, as if she feared Zeus might well appear. "Although itís nothing you havenít already learned before and still know the answers to deep inside." She paused again, her gaze returning to Janiceís, her eyes back to their ethereal bright amber hue. "You will remember only that which you need to about this meeting. Trust your feelings, little one." With that the Moon Goddess placed a soft kiss upon Janiceís head.
Janice awoke to find her foreman, Solanos and several workmen gathered around and staring down at her. "Doctor, are you alright? What happened?" Solanos asked in his native language.
Janice raised up slowly, with the help of Solanos and the man bending down across from him. "I... donít know," she muttered, glancing around. She could tell she was on the floor of the temple, at the foot of the stairs. "The last thing I remember is... going up the steps and... then nothing."
Solanos nodded. "We found this stone in your hand." He held up what appeared to be a quarter size, irregular shaped, golden colored stone. "You must have stopped to pick it up and slipped on the steps or... something."
"I... I donít remember," Janice mumbled, staring at the stone.
"Are you hurt?" Solanos asked. "Your legs... back... head?"
"No, I... I donít feel like Iím hurt. Help me to my feet, would you?"
Solanos gripped her arm and hand; she could feel the stone still clasped in his hand, his knuckles pressing against her palm. "I... I want that," she said.
"This?" he queried, opening his hand. Janice nodded, taking the stone. "But doctor, it is bad luck stone," he protested.
"Maybe..." Janice murmured, turning the irregular piece of ancient, dried resin -formed perhaps many millennia ago- in her hands, so that she could get a better look. "Maybe not," she added, feeling a familiar warmth flow through her body. "Iím... going home for the day."
"Yes, you should rest," Solanos agreed. "Here, I will see you out. You will need help with the ladder."
"Thank you," she murmured.
"Your hat," one of the workman said, handing it to her.
"Where in the world have you been?" Mel asked, as her lover walked in the door. "Lunch was over an hour ago. Iíve been worried sick about..." She paused, when Janice turned to close the door and she saw the dirt covering her back and buttocks. "What happened?" She was quickly covering the distance between them. "Was there another cave-in?"
"No, no cave-in," Janice responded, removing her hat and placing it on the peg of the coat rack.
"But, your back... your hair... youíre filthy. What happened? Are you hurt?"
"I just had a slight fall," Janice grumbled. "No, nothing hurt. Although youíd think I should be," she added quietly.
"What?" Mel asked, reaching out, cupping her loverís chin in her hand and raising it upward.
"Warm bath," Janice responded, looking into the concerned blue eyes of the woman she loved. "Iíll tell you all about it while youíre washing my back." She smiled and cocked one eyebrow mischievously.
"Hmph, guess you arenít hurt, after all," Mel concluded. "Wait, letís get this jacket off you, first. Good lord, look at all the dirt."
Continue to Part 10
alt fic index <> homepage