Desperations 4

by D.Virtue

 

Disclaimers: See part 1 for all disclaimers.

My novel "The Corporate Raider" is now available for sale. Click here for more information.


 

"WHAT?!!" Xena asked with a sarcastic, acid filled tone, filled with contempt at the very thought that Questra would make such a comparison of Diana to her.

"I know, I know, I thought and felt the same way. Appalled at the very idea. But then she asked me that if she could prove it to me without a shadow of a doubt, would I agree to help her by going there or wherever to visit her?"

"Why? So she could rape you again each time?"

"No, she told me that she would not touch me unless I wanted her too, which of course we all know what that answer is. But, she just said we would talk."

"Right! And Hades doesnít have a demon dog."

"Xena??"

"Ok, ok, finish."

"Ok. Anyway, she then proceeded to tell me that she had never killed a child, and that she had never killed anyone that loved her and would never do so. Yet, I had, and had done it with intent and cold callousness."

"What in Hades is she talking about??" You have never hurt anyone Diana, you could never hurt anyone, let alone a child!" Xena stated with conviction and certainty.

Diana gave Xena a warm smile for her faith in her, but then tears rolled down Dianaís cheeks as she knew Xena had not considered the exact same thing she had not considered. Diana leaned into Xena and buried her head in Xenaís chest as she let her guilt have itís way with her for a bit. All of the warriors felt Dianaís pain radiating from her, and their hearts clenched at the feel of just how much pain Diana was actually feeling about whatever was causing it.

"Kitten, itís alright, nothing can hurt you now, I wonít ever let it." Xena whispered to Diana, trying to comfort her of whatever it was that was causing so much pain.

Diana sobbed for a moment longer as Xena continued to hold her in her protective arms. Then Diana leaned back and gazed at Xena with a small smile that made Diana look as innocent as a child. Xena couldnít help smiling as well, and she brought her hand up to caress Dianaís tear streaked cheeks. Diana brought her own hand up and covered Xenaís and they shared a moment for a bit before Diana continued.

"Xena...what she said was true, I had killed children, and I did do it with callous, unfeeling, emotion."

"What are you saying??!" Xena asked in shock and horror at the very thought that Diana actually believed she had done such a horrible thing.

"I did it twice as a matter of fact. The first time was when my real sister was killed, I killed everyone in his family including the children, and I had no remorse, I just had vengeance in my heart."

"But kitten, your heart was broken and you were blinded by the pain."

"I know. But it was not as callous as I was when you were killed. I remember that day as if it were yesterday. I remember seeing that sword sticking out of your chest, and your eyes...your gaze was surprised and then they filled with tears as the reality that we would not see each other again presented itself to you, as it did to me. I then caught you before you hit the dirt and I held you in my arms begging you not to leave me. I remember you telling me not to give up that I had to live for Gabrielle and my other sisters...But Xena, when you closed your eyes and died that day, my heart closed and I died that same day. I had nothing but a raging hatred in my soul, and all I wanted to do was satisfy it. I went after him, knowing he was one of my Chosen and could kill me as a result of that, but I didnít care, at least I would have been with you again. So I went after him, but along the way, I killed all of his family. People who loved me at one time as if I were their own child or sister, or cousin, I killed with no trace of feeling. I killed them as if they were him and I went on and killed all of them, and finally him. That Questra was right, she has never been as cold and calculating as I had been. She was right, and therefore she won that bet, and I could not see going back on my word especially after such overwhelming proof. And you know what was worse? They are all still dead by my hands, while you...my heart and love is back with me, alive and well." Diana said as she looked around at the three older women, and then she leaned into Xena and once again her guilt claimed her. The three women now had tears in their own eyes, and Xena kept her arms wrapped tightly around Diana as she buried her own face in Dianaís thick mane of hair, taking on Dianaís pain as her own. Lady Xena and Lord Questra both allowed their hearts to feel Dianaís pain.

After a long pause in the conversation, Lady Xena needed to know what the other thing Questra had said to Diana to make Diana even consider forgiving her.

"Diana?"

"Yes?" Diana answered as she continued to lay against Xenaís chest.

"You said there was two things she said that put you in this mindset."

"Oh, yes. We were talking about something and I was telling her that I didnít think she could ever change her way. Basically I had told her she was evil to her heart. This was before her comment about me, anyway, she got upset and then said what made her any worse than you or My Lord Xena?" Diana said leaning away from Xena to look her in the eyes as she directed the statement to her. "She said that you and I didnít meet under pleasant conditions, in fact your intentions towards me were the same as any rulerís would be who only wanted the best and had the power to take it. She said you wanted to possess and control me and the day you came to me and said you wanted my help to change, why was it so reasonable that you could change, and not her? She then pointed out that Lady Xena wanted the same thing she did when they first came here and that was power and the control over me. She asked what made me believe she wanted to change and take a chance with her, and why wouldnít I think she could change if given the same help? She told me that I had a gift that was meant to be used to help people. Again, I couldnít argue her point because she was right. I mean what made me sure that you and Lady Xena were telling me the truth? The only thing I had to go off of was the fact that you were one of my Chosen and therefore there had to be some good in you, plus the fact there was a powerful sexual draw between us that I wanted to have satisfied by you." Diana blushed and lowered her eyes when Xena smirked at her. She then coyly lifted them again and smiled slightly, but continued. "Anyway, I really didnít know if either of you were serious, I just took your word for it. Especially yours Love, because you told me either I agreed or you would hound me for the rest of my life, and I couldnít deal with the thought of you chasing me around the world trying to possess me or beat or kill me for resisting. The options were just not conducive to my plans to enjoy my new life here, so...I really had no choice but to give you a chance."

"Well you are right about that, you really didnít have a choice because I would have hounded you. I had to have you one way or the other." Xena said as she hugged Diana to her and planted a kiss on her.

"Ok, you two, enough of that for a moment alright?" Lord Questra sighed.

"Sorry. But thatís what I mean, Xena has this way of drawing anyone in, that is pretty much the way it was when she first made the offer to me. Anyway Xena, what do you think about the other Questraís motives now?"

Xenaís disposition became serious once again.

"What do you expect for me to say Diana? That I believe her, that all she wants is a chance to change? Iím just supposed to forget about all of the things she did to you right? Is that what youíre asking me to do? Or maybe youíre asking me to forget about what she has done to some of the people in my realm. Diana she killed one of your sisters, she planned to kill Anthony, thinking he was our child...how can you possibly expect for me to just forget about all of that and trust this woman??"

"Because Iím not asking you to forget about anything, Iím just asking you to give her a chance!"

"By risking you??"

"Xena youíre not risking me."

"How do you figure that? Youíre asking me to let you go and see this woman whenever she wants to see you and itís convenient!"

"Xena, help me give her a chance to change? Besides, if she is being sincere about all of this, then it can only be good for your Realm. No more threat from someone who can cause a lot of damage if something isnít done."

"Diana I canít and wonít just let all of the things sheís done go. She must be tried."

"Why?? You already tried her when you tried Lady Xena."

"Diana that was a while ago and you seem to have forgotten that although they had been tried, they escaped, remember?"

"No, I didnít forget. I just didnít think it mattered because Lady Xena was never retried for escaping. Instead you gave her a chance to change and look what happened with that? She has not only been forgiven, but you even cloned ME to give her as a gift to her to help her stay true to her change. Now...I canít imagine her not being just as important to us as Lord Questra and Gabrielle are to us, can you?"

"Diana, itís a little different." Lady Xena chimed in, moved by Dianaís loving words.

"How? How is it different Lady Xena?"

"Because I never killed any of your family."

"True, but...and please donít take this the wrong way because it is all in the past, I am just trying to make a point, you did rape me as well, you even pretended to be Xena during the war when she and Lord Questra went after Questra the clone and Callisto. Yet, you were not taken to trial again, but instead forgiven and Noor was made and given the chance to fall in love with you, which she did and look where you two are today. You have a beautiful family and youíre as loved as any of my family is loved and I would die to protect anyone of you. So why not give Questra that chance? She didnít ask to be created evil, but neither did you Lady Xena. And you My Lord Xena, you didnít ask to have your homeland invaded! You didnít ask for Ares to come to you and offer you vengeance and success to kill those responsible for killing your brother! You didnít ask to have your heart turned to stone, yet, that is what happened and you went through that dark time. Yet there was a light in you, and Lady Xena that just needed to be nurtured. If I had not accepted your deal then you would still be on that dark path, yet I took a chance...because I loved you even before I was willing to admit that to myself, and look what has happened. We have the most wonderful life together and the only thing that is missing is children of our own, but outside of that, I could not be any happier. I know youíre happy, right?"

"Yes."

"Yes, and I know Lady Xena is happy?"

"Yes."

"And Lord Questra is happy?"

"Yes."

"So why not give the other Questra a chance to be happy, she was created to be evil, yet...the light that is in her is asking to be helped, how can we refuse that?"

"Because I will not allow her to bed you again?"

"Thatís fine. I agree with you on that, but thatís not what she is asking for. She is just asking for hope."

Xenaís eyes narrowed, she knew Diana had a point, but she wouldnít bring herself to admit it.

"No. My army goes after her in the morning. Now I think it is time to turn in, itís going to be a long day tomorrow."

Diana jumped up off of Xenaís lap, turned and glared at her. Then in a tone that Diana knew Xena didnít like, Diana raised her voice at Xena.

"Youíre just not being fair with her!"

"Why are you trying to defend her?!"

"Because it is what is right! And you know it!"

"I know no such thing! And I warn you Consort, you are out of line!" Xenaís voice lowered to a meaningful tone.

Diana went silent for a moment, knowing the sound and meaning of Xenaís lowered tone. Diana lowered her eyes for a moment, and then raised them to look around at the other two women in the chamber, and then back at her Xena.

"Iím sorry. It just means so much to me that you consider this. Please My Lord?" Diana asked as she went to stand back in front of Xena as Xena sat looking at her.

"Go to bed Diana." Xena said firmly but in a more gentle tone.

"Yes My Lord. Goodnight." Diana conceded without argument, as she leaned down and gave and received a kiss. Then with a sad look she stood back up to her full height, turned and bid the other two women in the chamber goodnight, and headed to the bed chamber as she had been told to do.

"Good night Diana."

"Good night Diana, sweet dreams to you." Lady Xena bid in reply.

Once Diana had gone into the bedchamber the focus once again returned to that of the other Questra.

"So...looking at the two of you, I take it you both agree with Diana?"

"She made some good points. But I understand your side of things as well, so I will go along with whatever you think is best to protect Diana." Lady Xena offered.

"I appreciate that. What about you Lord Questra, where do you stand on this?"


"I am all for what is best for Diana, and this Realm. Diana made some very good points, and it would be unwise of any of us to not at least consider what Diana has said, especially considering whom we are talking about. Questra is very dangerous, and quite cunning, if I must say so myself. If she got to the children once, whatís to stop her from getting to them again, especially if we donít capture her, or if she escapes? The risk of her forever being evil will be assured. "

"So what are you saying?" Lady Xena asked not sure of Questraís direction.

"Iím saying...why not give Dianaís idea a try?"

"Is this Lord Questra speaking as a ruler looking out for a people? Or is this Questra the woman and her ego speaking with a desire to have her likeness made into a more desirable person, and not continued to be seen as a plague upon the land?" Lord Xena inquired as she studied Questra. She already knew the answer, but she needed to see what Questraís feelings were on it. Questra gazed over at Xena, and with a thoughtful look coming into her eyes she subconsciously began nodding her head.

"Yes. I think it is a little of both, but mostly the Ruler in me."

" I knew that, I just wanted to see if you would admit it." Xena stated.

"So, what are you going to do?"

"I donít know. I need to think about it."

"Are you going to take your army after Questra tomorrow?"

"I donít know. Right now I still plan to, but then again, who knows? I just have to think about it. If you two will excuse me, I am going to go talk to Diana for a little while, goodnight to both of you." Xena said abruptly ending the conversation.

"Goodnight Lord Xena." Both women said understanding the sudden dismissal.

Lord Questra and Lady Xena both rose and left the chamber. Xena then stood and strolled into the bedchamber where she found Diana had cleaned up and crawled into bed and appeared to be asleep. She walked over to the bed and sat down on it next to Diana where she at first just watched her sleep. The
peacefulness in her features made Xena smile in spite of herself and the turmoil that was going on inside of her. Xena then frowned at the thought that entered her mind when she thought about the Questra. Xena leaned down and placed a soft kiss to Dianaís forehead, then stood up and left the chamber to go to the Royal Library and into her private chamber within the library.

Xena sat and thought for a while and wrote as she usually did; her thoughts and the cause of those thoughts. While she was thinking she felt a change in the air and her keen senses went into effect.

"Lord Xena?"

When Xena heard the voice she relaxed back into her large chair and sighed both a relieved sigh and one of frustration for what she knew was coming.

"Indite. Itís been a while."

"Yes, it has. But there was a reason for that."

"Oh?"

"Yes. You had everything within your control, your doubts were only brief moments, but you always came up with an answer, and I knew you would."

"So what brings you here now, you think I wonít come up with an answer this time?"

"No. I think without someone to offer insight for you, you will come up with the wrong answer this time."

"Oh, is that what you think?"

"No. Itís what I know Lord Xena."

"Well then, since you have the answer, why donít you just save us both some time and just tell me what you think I should do."

"It is not my place to tell you what to do, but simply to give you insight into things so that you are better able to make a wise choice."

"Fine, whatever, just do it." Xena stated with a lost of patience for the cryptic conversation.

"Very well. You are considering what to do in regards to the other Questra."

"You know that, so...whatís the insight?"

"That Questra is very complex, just like the woman she was cloned after, but even though she was cloned to be evil, a clone still follows the foundation of whomever they were made from."

"So youíre saying that just because that Questra was made to be evil, the fact that she is a clone, created from the actual DNA of Our Questra, there is that ability to be good inside of her. All she needs is for someone to bring that out in her, someone to encourage her and make her want to bring it out?"

"That Questra is no different from your clone."

"So that IS what youíre telling me. Youíre telling me that I should allow Diana to go to her?"

"No, I am only giving you the insight you need to make an informed decision, it is up to you to decide if what I have said makes sense to you and whether it is prudent. I will make but one suggestion to you and it is entirely up to you."

"What is it?"

"Rather than have Diana go anywhere out of your sight, seeing how that seems to be what is really bothering you, why not bring the concern to the palace?"

"You mean invite that evil woman into our homes? Our lives?? Risk the whole palace??!"

"Why do you think you would be risking the palace?"

"Because, that may be her whole plan, to get invited to the palace so that she can wreak havoc!"

"I would not have made the suggestion if there was certain risk. But...it is up to you to decide on that, my only purpose was to give you the insight, now that I have, I will bid you farewell for now."

"Wait!"

"Yes?"

"If I do this, can you swear to me that nothing will happen to my Diana or any of my people inside or outside of these walls?"

"I cannot swear it, because I can not tell you how Diana will deal with Questra. Diana is the variable in this whole thing, as she goes, so goes the direction of that Questra."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, Diana is all for helping Questra to change, or so she thinks she is, but Questra still has her darkness more at the surface of who she is than the little light that Diana referred to. So Questra will challenge Dianaís resolve to help her, and if Diana doesnít let her temper or her stubbornness get the best of her then you will not regret your decision."

"What do you mean? Are you telling me Questra is going to do something to Diana or someone else?"

"No. I am telling you that Diana can be impulsive...still. Although she has improved a great deal since knowing you! That is a credit to you Lord Xena, you did something that 12 men could not. 13 if you include Rah, but he was a God rather than just a plain man."

"I know she is impulsive still and that is one of my concerns. If she does something to upset that Questra, I am concerned what effect that will have on the whole situation."

"Lord Xena...I didnít say Diana was going to do something to upset Questra necessarily. But just know, all of Dianaís actions are always out of the love she has for you. Goodbye Lord Xena. Choose wisely, and things will workout better than you ever imagined, and remember, there is always a way to deal with the NEEDS of that Questra without giving Diana to her, or any part of Diana. Goodbye." With that Indite faded out of Xenaís view. Leaving Xena to ponder their conversation and especially certain elements therein.

Xena stayed in the library for a few candle marks more after Indite left, just thinking and writing. Finally, she decided she needed to go be with Diana, so with that, she put away her things and headed back up to her bedchamber.

Xena quickly and quietly cleaned up and then climbed into bed, nude as usual, behind Diana. She then pulled Dianaís nude body over into her arms and began caressing along Dianaís arm and neck, hoping to arouse her gently from her slumber so as to have Dianaís full attention when she took her.

Diana sighed and snuggled closer to Xena, and sensing Xenaís desire, even in her sleep, Diana began kissing on Xenaís neck and eased into gentle sucks upon it. Xena craned her neck to allow Diana better access, as a sigh of contentment escaped Xenaís own throat. Diana slowly kissed and sucked her way
down Xenaís neck to her chest and eventually, she caught one of Xenaís taut nipples in her mouth and she cherished and delighted in the feel of the firm tip within her mouth. Xena was now more than willing to let Diana have her way for a while. Diana bit down on the one tip and it began producing a warm cider for Diana to delight in.

Meanwhile, both Dianaís and Xenaís hands were making their way down each otherís body, heading for the soft curls between the otherís legs. Throughout most of the night the two made love, finally, a few candle marks before Xena was to rise to lead her army, the two drifted off to sleep. Dianaís one of peace and Xenaís somewhat fitful, yet she managed to get rested well enough for her to function as needed.

The next morning Xena rose leaving Diana in bed to sleep for a while longer while she called her Captains to her, as well as Lord Questra , and Lady Xena.

"I decided not to go after Questra. Instead I am going to send a message to her informing her that I want to meet with her alone at the same city where we met originally to make the exchange."

"But why?"

"Letís just say I gained some insight into handling this in a better way, but weíll see once I meet with her."

"What is the purpose of the meeting?" Lord Questra asked.

"To see exactly where her head is, and to see if she is being sincere with what she told Diana."

"Oh! Youíre going to meet with her to decide whether or not youíre going to allow Diana to help her?"

"That, and to tell her that if she tries anything with Diana, I will rip her throat out right there and then." Xenaís eyes narrowed and they seemed to flash.

"Very well. So when are you going to contact her?"

"Right now." Xena said as she pulled out the viewer. After drawing upon it the image of whom she wanted, she then waited for a moment and the image began to move.

Xena waited for a moment more and then she spoke to the image within the viewer without enlarging the image. She kept it just so that only she was going to be seen.

"Questra...can you hear me?"

"Lord Xena, well, isnít this a surprise? What can I do for you? Did Diana make it back home alright?" Questraís sincere concern caught Xena somewhat off guard, but she did not show it.

"Yes." Xena said tightly, trying to bring herself to continue in her plan, despite her contempt for the woman she was speaking to.

"Is there something I can do for you?"

"Yes. I want to meet with you at the same spot where we originally made the exchange, at the town Inn, in the dining area?"

"Mind if I ask why? "

"Itís about your agreement with My Consort. And if youíre worried about whether this is a trick, you have my word it isnít. It will be just you and I meeting, none of my army or yours. What do you say?"

"I will trust you Lord Xena. I will meet with you. When?"

"I can be there in less than a candlemark."

"Alright, I will see you at the Inn."

"Very well." Xena then cleared the viewer and sat back in her chair and wiped her face trying to smooth away the tension she felt. She was not sure she would be able to hold her temper with The Clone.

"Ok, so youíre leaving now?"

"Yes, I will leave before Diana awakens. I know she will want to go with me and there just is no way that I am going to take her into that situation without my knowing what is going on with Questra."

"Makes sense. So what do you want Diana told?"

"Tell her I will return later."

"Now you know she will push for more information as to where you are."

"Yes, but I will leave it up to you to find a way to occupy her while I am away."

"I guess we can keep her busy with the kids, we know how much she enjoys them."

"See? I knew I could count on you two to come up with something. Well I am off then, take care of Diana."

"What if you discover Questra isnít sincere?"

"Then I will bring her in, one way or another." Xenaís tone was serious and deadly.

"Alright then. So, when do you expect for Diana to wake up?"

"In about another candlemark, sheíll be starved." Xena said with a smirk.

Both Questra and Lady Xena smirked right back as they all stood and headed for the door. Xena left the palace and went to meet with The Questra. The Conqueror arrived at the meeting place 15 minutes before Questra did, just so that she could check things out and watch Questraís arrival to see if she held to her word to come alone. Not that The Conqueror was worried about an ambush, Xena could kill all of the soldiers. And Questra if necessary, but she was more interested in seeing if Questra was going to break her word about meeting alone.

Xena saw Questra riding towards the gates of the city, and she was alone. Xena smirked and then went down from the battlement area of the gate and went to wait for Questra in the Innís dining area. Questra arrived five minutes later and was escorted to where Xena the Conqueror sat waiting for her.

"Lord Xena."

"Questra."

"So, I take it that Diana has talked to you?"

"She has. So what?"

"HmmÖwell, I guess I understand your skepticism, I would be too if I were you."

"Then you wonít be offended if I tell you I donít believe one word of it."

"Oh, but I think you want to believe it, otherwise you would not be meeting me here like this."

"You told Diana a lot of things, things that you know are not true."

"I told Diana only the truth."

"Oh, and you call telling her she is more cold blooded than you or Lady Xena or myself to be the truth??"

"Yes. She was, and if you think about it honestly, you will agree."

"I will never agree with that. Diana is the most loving person, between her and Gabrielle, they have it covered."

"I would agree with you that Diana AND Gabrielle are the most loving people, but Diana has a dark side, just like all of us do, only herís shows itself when it comes to a loved one being harmed. Ours are there just because of how we were created or chose to live our lives. That is why Diana was able to help you and MY Xena, because she understands the dark side of our souls, thatís why I know she can help me."

"Is that what you really want Questra...to change?"

"Yes. Do you think I or anyone enjoys living the way they do? I donít, but it is the only way I know. I was cloned to be evil, but...somewhere in me, there is something that is trying to come out. Itís like whenever I think about Diana or Gabrielle I feel this very slight warmth within. Looking at your face I can see that youíre thinking I am talking about sexually. Well Iím not, itís different, I donít know how to describe, but I feel it and I think I like the way it feels, even though it is a distant feeling right now. But I think if it can be nurtured, then I believe it will be a very positive thing for all of us."

"All of us??"

"Yes. I hope once I have proven to your satisfaction that I have indeed changed, I would like to settle down somewhere within your realm."

"Why within my realm?"

"Because you rule over most of the known world, it is a little hard to find someplace that you donít rule over, unless it is a newly discovered land."

"Hmmm...well weíre a long way from that right now. First you have to convince me that you are sincere, and I can promise you...it wonít be as easy with me as it was with MY Consort."

"What makes you think it was easy? Diana was quite skeptical, I think she was still skeptical when I released her, but thatís alright, I expected that and your mistrust. I only hope you wonít let your emotions win over your judgement?"

" That almost sounded like a threat, or at the very least an ultimatum??"

"No threat, and as far as it being an ultimatum, it is, but not in the way youíre thinking."

"Meaning?"

"Meaning, I think you already know what will happen if you donít allow this to happen?"

"I know you will continue in the way you have been, hurting the people of my kingdom, and other lands."

"Yes, but there would be a difference."

"Oh, and what would that be?"

"I would see no hope, therefore my heart would turn to pure evil. I know, I know, you already think I am pure evil, but Iím not, believe it or not."

"Is that right?"

"Yes. It is. Right now I have some hope that I can change, with help, but reject this and that hope will vanish just as quickly."

"So if I donít agree to all of this, then you are going to choose to do evil, is that what youíre telling me?"

"No, Iím telling you I wonít have a choice, that is one of the things about us clones. Itís like a defect I would say, that evil part in us if not controlled some way, in this case, the control would come from the change, if not controlled, then it will take over the whole being, and I will be powerless to stop it."

"Are you telling me that if Diana and I had not helped Lady Xena, then she would have become pure evil with no hopes of redemption??"

"Yes. But you two chose to help her, and look where she is now? I would wager that you and all of the others could not imagine hurting her now, or anyone else?"

"So what is your point?"

"Iíve heard love is a powerful thing, and I can see how it has changed Xenaís life. Iím envious."

Xena sat back in her chair and studied Questra for a bit. The silence stretched out for what seemed forever to Questra, and then Xena spoke again.

"I still donít know if I believe you. But...I am willing to give you a chance, against my better judgement I must say, because when I saw you, it was all I could do to not rip your heart out for what you did to my Diana."

"I know. But I knew you wouldnít let your personal feelings outweigh what was and is good for your Realm and the people therein."

"Hmmm."

"So, how would you like to do this? Will you allow Diana to come to my camp, or shall we meet here or what?"

"No. You will come to the palace and stay in one of the guest dwellings on the property that way I can keep an eye on you, and make sure My Diana is safe."

"Oh...I like that, even better."

"Iím sure you do. " Xena then jumped to her feet and caught Questra by her throat and squeezed as she continued to speak to her. "Let me warn you Questra. If you do ANYTHING to anyone in or around my palace ESPECIALLY Diana or Gabrielle, I swear by the Gods I will make you wish you were dead! I will
dog you from here to the end of the earth and through time! Do you understand Questra?!" Xenaís teeth were bared and her anger barely contained. Questra tried to stay calm in spite of her air being cut off.

Questra managed to gasp out her understanding, and Xena held her for a few moments more, and then she suddenly let go as suddenly as she had taken hold. Questra immediately inhaled a lung full of air as she grasped her throat and rubbed it, she glared at Xena.

Xena casually sat back down as if nothing had just happened, although her gaze was leveled on Questra as she took a drink of her port.

"We...well Xena, I hope our relationship is not going to be like that?"

"No. Not as long as you behave yourself."


"Fine. SoÖwhen shall I arrive?"

"As soon as you disburse your army."

"Excuse me?"

"Oh, yes, you donít think I would go into this knowing you have an army out there doing only the Gods know what."

Questra gave Xena a thoughtful look, and then she gave a slight nod of her head in agreement.

"Good."

"I will see you in four days."

"Very well. Make sure you present yourself to ME when you arrive. You are not to go anywhere else until you have presented yourself to me, then I will have my guards escort you wherever you want and are allowed to go."

"When will I see Diana?"

"When I say itís ok."

"Oh, you want to see how I behave first?"

"Of course."

"Fine. I will abide by your rules Xena, as long as you live up to your word."

"Then we wonít have a problem, will we?"

"No. We wonít."

"See you in four days Questra." Xena then stood and left without looking back. Questra sat for a while longer and even ordered something to eat as she thought about the conversation.

Meanwhile, Xena had made it back to the palace and immediately called her advisors to her as well as called for Lady Xena and Lord Questra to join them.

"My Lord, My Lady, The Conqueror has returned and she has commanded both of your presence in the counsel chamber."

"Thank you Dancea. Let Lord Xena know we will be right there."

"Yes Lord Questra."

"So, what did Dancea want?" Diana asked as she and Gabrielle and Noor and the children all came back over to where Lady Xena and Questra were sitting, and settled down by them.

"She was just letting us know that Xena was back."

"Oh?? Well why didnít Dancea tell me?"

"Because Lord Xena wants to see just me and Lady Xena right now."

"Why?"

"To discuss something."

"What?"

"We wonít know until we get there, but in the meantime, you three stay here and play with the children, weíll be back in a while." Lord Questra stated as she and Lady Xena went to their feet, gave the kids hugs and watched the children run back off to play.

"Well I will go with you two, I want to see Xena, I havenít seen her all day, and I missed her."

"No, you stay here for now, Iím sure Lord Xena will be calling for you real soon." Lady Xena stated as she put her hand up in gesture for Diana not to follow.

"Maybe, but I want to go anyway."

"No Diana, you canít go. It would be disrespectful of you to show up in a meeting when your Lord has not summoned you." Questra now spoke in a firm tone of voice.

"Why are you two trying to stop me from going to see Xena in this meeting?? Oh...I get it...this is about the other Questra. She wants to discuss it with you two, but not me? Well itís not going to happen, I am going to the meeting." Diana stated defiantly.

Both Lord Questra and Lady Xenaís eyes narrowed at Dianaís defiance.

"I suggest you do as you have been told Diana." Lady Xena said with a gaze that reminded Diana of her Xena and when she was about to lose her patience.

"Fine!!" Diana pouted and went down to the ground and sat Indian style, with her arms crossed, and an attitude to match her pouting disposition.

"Thatís fine. Weíll let Lord Xena know you are looking forward to seeing her." With those words Lady Xena and Lord Questra both turned and headed for the palace to go and attend the meeting called by The Conqueror.

Diana watched them go, and Gabrielle came over to her and balanced herself on her knees as she looked at the departing women and then back at Diana, and she saw the instant it showed on Dianaís face.

"Diana you know you better not go. Not only will those two get upset with you, but Xena will be pissed if she hears you disobeyed either of them, especially Lord Questra. Plus, if this is about that other Questra, then I am sure Xena will not be in a good mood to begin with, and you showing up at that meeting will only make that mood darker, thereís no telling what she will do to you."

"Gabrielle I hear everything youíre saying, and it makes sense, but this is about me, and I have the right to know what is going on."

"Yes, you do. But...your rights are determined by what Lord Xena decides you have a right to, and in this case, youíve been told, no ordered, not to go to that meeting by Questra! You break that and you will have herís and Xenaís wrath to contend with."

Diana chewed her lip for a moment and then giving a sidelong glance at Gabrielle. She stood and with some uncertainty in her voice she told Gabrielle she was going.

"Diana??"

"Iíll see you all later...I hope." Diana said under her breath.

"Ok. But do me a favor?"

"What?"

"If you get there and you hear or see that Xena is already pissed, donít go in, ok?"

"Gabrielle I will be fine, even if Xena is in a bad mood, she wonít get upset with me if I tell her that I am there because I missed her, after all...it is the truth."

"I know, just be careful. Questra was talking to me about this the other night and she said Xena is so tense and angry about all of it."

"Ok, sis, youíve warned me, I will be alright, donít worry."

"Famous last words Diana."

"Haha, very funny." Diana called over her shoulder as she strode away to go and attend the meeting.

"Alright. In four days, Questra will be joining us here at the palace. Draco, Silass...I want her watched day and night! Where she goes, there had better be guards escorting her, if I find she has gone ANYWHERE without an escort, you two will have me to answer to, do I make myself PERFECTLY clear?"

"Yes My Lord."

"We will put our best soldiers on her."

"Good. She knows she will be escorted around, so should she try to dismiss any of you, I want to be told about it. I also want guards posted at the residences as well, during the whole time she is here. If she leaves that place at night or during the day, I expect for her to not be able to slip past any of you."

"Yes Lord Xena."

"What about Dianaís part in this, are you going to allow Questra to see her whenever she wants to see her?"

"No."

"What? Why not? I thought that was the whole point of your doing all of this?" Dianaís voice breaking the focused conversation.

"What are you doing here Consort?"

"I came to see you. I missed you."

"Thatís sweet Consort, but I want you to leave right now and go and wait for me in our chambers. As soon as I am finished here, I will come and attend to you." Xena said trying to maintain her temper, despite Diana questioning her in front of her advisors, Questra and Lady Xena.

"Iíd rather stay. I want to know why you wonít let her see me when she wants to?"

Xena dropped her head and sighed, trying to maintain the small amount of patience she had left, but Diana was trying her.

"Diana! What did I tell you to do?" Questra now asked, jumping in when she heard Xenaís sigh.

"I know what you told me, but I wanted to see Xena."

"You disobeyed Lord Questra?" Xena asked raising her head up to glare at Diana.


"Well...I wouldnít exactly call it disobeyed...more like creative thinking." Diana said, now sure it was not a good idea to come to the meeting against Lord Questraís orders. Plus the fact that she had now disobeyed her own Lord.

"Diana... both Lord Questra and myself told you not to come here until you were summoned by Lord Xena. Lord Questra even told you how disrespectful it would be for you to do that, and yet...here you are." Lady Xena added. She was also angered by Dianaís blatant disobedience.

"They both told you not to come, and yet you still came? Leave! All of you. Except you Consort. I want you to come over here and explain to me, just why I should not punish you right now." Xena said as she sat back in her chair and watched Diana now shift nervously from one foot to the other. She even flinched when Questra came and stood in front of her, and then again when Lady Xena did the same thing, only she took Dianaís chin in her hand and lifted it so that Diana was looking her in the eyes.

"Next time, youíll listen." Then she let go and walked out with the rest of the departing people.

Diana stood where she was until she heard Xenaís voice growl at her, or so it seemed. Diana startled out of her hesitation and immediately went to stand where Xena had told her to.

Xena leveled an inquisitive brow on Diana and then gave her further orders.

"Remove your skirt and underpants."

"But Xena..." Diana started to plead, but saw it would do no good, Xena was upset for a number of reasons and no matter what Diana said, she was going to receive some punishment.

Diana slipped out of her skirt and undies and stood looking down into Xenaís steady piercing gaze.

"Iím sorry." Diana offered.

"A little late, donít you think?"

"Maybe, but I am."

"Iím sure you are...now. To bad you didnít think about this before you interrupted my meeting. To bad you didnít think about why you shouldnít have disobeyed Lord Questra, or lady Xena, and you know Consort, I would even wager that Gabrielle or Noor told you not to disobey?" Xena stated as if she had been standing there in the garden listening to Gabrielle.

Diana lowered her eyes due to her embarrassment, and then raised them as tears rolled down her cheek.

"No, no. I havenít given you anything to cry about...yet. Right now I am just trying to get you to see just how much of a temper you still have, as well as how impulsive and stubborn you still are, and the consequences that come as a result of your behavior. The crying starts when I finish talking to you. So...dry your eyes, because itís not doing you any good, in fact it is making me more upset."

Diana immediately wiped her eyes of the tears, and now stood quite scared at how upset Xena was with her. Xena made Diana stand there while she talked to her, and at times just made her endure long drawn out periods of nerve-wracking silence.

Then Xena turned her large chair so that she was now facing completely away from her large desk. She gestured for Diana to position herself across her lap. But instead of doing that, Diana went to her knees next to Xenaís long legs and looked up into the icy blue orbs. Dianaís hands nervously holding onto Xenaís thigh as she spoke to her.

"Please Xena? Iím sorry. I was wrong, and I see that now. I wonít do it again, please donít punish me?"

Xena sucked her teeth slightly, and then gave Diana a somewhat sympathetic look that also had a Ďthereís no getting out of thisí look in it as well.

"Come on, Iím waiting."

Diana tried to blink the tears away as she leaned her head against Xenaís thigh and tried to deal with the idea and soon the reality of how painful her backside was about to become. Xena caressed Dianaís thick hair for two reasons as she waited for a brief moment. One was to comfort Diana, and the other was to let her know that she was waiting and not to take too long to get where she was supposed to be.

Diana eased up off of her knees and slowly slid across Xenaís waiting lap. Xena leaned over to whisper in Dianaís ears and told her that she loved her, but with the other Questra on the grounds, she was not going to tolerate ANY disobedience, it was just too dangerous. With that Xena kissed Diana on the cheek and then she sat back up and her face took on an even more serious demeanor as she began laying strike after strike upon Dianaís rapidly reddening behind.

Diana cried out with each and every strike and eventually dissolved into pleas for mercy. Xena punished her for over two candle marks, and by the time she was done, Diana was not able to stand do to the acute pain. Xena redressed Diana, and carried her to the back of the chamber to the bed that was there for those times when Xena was dealing with crises and had to be available.

Xena laid her crying Consort down on her belly, and covered her with one of the covers. Diana buried her head in the pillow and just continued to cry. Xena in the meantime summoned the guard and told him to have everyone return. She then turned back to Diana and squatting down just enough to be level with
Diana, she told her more of her expectations.

"Kitten, during this meeting, I donít expect to hear one word from you, if I do, I will stop, come and pull you back over my lap and proceed to punish you once again, is that clear?"

Diana was sobbing so hard, she almost was unable to answer, but she managed to sob out yes and then went back to crying.

"Good girl." Xena leaned forward and placed a kiss on Dianaís exposed shoulder. Then she stood and turned and left Diana sobbing on the bed at the back of the chamber as she went to go and resume her meeting with her advisors, Lord Questra and Lady Xena.

Everyone heard Diana sobbing, but no one mentioned it. By the time the meeting had ended it was full moon, and Diana had cried herself to sleep, although she would sniff intermittently while she slept.

Xena and Lord Questra and Lady Xena all continued to talk about things, despite the lateness of the hour. None were tired enough to want to sleep, so they talked.

"How long will Diana be down?" Lady Xena asked as she looked past Xena back to where Diana was asleep.

Xena looked over her right shoulder back at the sleeping form, and then she looked back at the two women sitting with her.

"For about three days. I will not take any chances with her being hurt by Questra. She will obey me to the letter, or I will punish her every day until she learns...I am The Conqueror and what I say goes and there is NO questioning of it. Questra is too dangerous for her to be disobedient to me, or to either of you. I am going to give both of you the authority for as long as Questra is a possible danger to her or Gabrielle. You both have my permission to punish either of them if they are disobedient AT ALL. I donít care if it is a simple matter of telling her to sit down. If she is disobedient at all, you have my permission to punish her. Within reason of course."

"It wonít be a problem. I know I can speak for Lady Xena when I say that we both care about what happens to Diana and Gabrielle and will not have a problem punishing either of them if it is to protect them from harm whether from Questra or themselves out of their misbehavior."

"I agree fully. Gabrielle doesnít seem to have the same temper that Diana has, although she has developed some of a temper. But Diana is too much of a wanted young woman, by too many people, and her impulsive and disobedient behavior at times, is quite a risk to her."

"I knew you both would agree and understand."

Xena knew Diana had awoken five minutes before she got into the conversation about punishment by the other two women. Once she had brought it up and given her consent, she heard Diana begin to sob again quietly. Although to all of the women in the chamber, Diana could have been sobbing loudly for all the
good it did, considering all three womenís ears were capable of hearing even the most distant conversations or sound.

The three talked for a while longer and then decided they should turn in since the next three days would be busy checking security. After the two other women left, Xena stood up and walked back to where Diana was still sobbing. She bent over and gathered Diana in her arms and while Diana buried her head in Xenaís neck continuing to sob, Xena carried her treasure up to their bedchamber. After helping Diana get cleaned up and settled in bed, she settled down next to her and gathered Diana into her arms once again.

The next three days Diana stayed in bed slowly getting over the punishment she had received. Xena in the meantime along with Questra and Lady Xena and Gabrielle and Noor, and the heads of Xenaís guards all went about checking everything and everyone. By the end of the last day, everyone was ready to sit back and take a breath, everyone that is except The Conqueror. The closer the day came for Questra to arrive, the more restless and impatient she became.

Diana in the meantime had eased out of the bed and was slowly making her way around the room, regaining her strength and mobility. After a few hours of walking around and stretching, Diana decided she would dress and go see what all was going on.

Diana walked around the palace and saw some of the changes, and the increase in security, she figured it was because of Questraís arrival tomorrow. Meanwhile at the residence that Questra would occupy while she was at the palace, The Conqueror was listening to the head of her guardís plans for maintaining security with Questra.


"So what is your plan if she subdues these guards, how will you know she is gone?"

"We have soldiers posted in areas around the residence, and even the palace Guards on the battlements also will be supplying observation and security."

"Hmmm...double the guards you have posted here, and position soldiers around the perimeter of this area of land as well as have soldiers positioned from the outer areas of the perimeter all the way to and around the palace and the lake and garden areas. Also the science hall and the other buildings here on the property. I also want soldiers sent to the city of Gabrielle, only have them dressed as peasants so they blend in, and provide surveillance there for when she leaves the palace grounds. I want any and all reports of any behavior that looks suspicious or anything like that, is that clear?"

"Yes Lord Xena."

Xena then looked around for a while and then left and headed back to the palace where she saw Diana heading around a corner. Xena decided to follow Diana for a few minutes before she made her presence known to her. She noticed Dianaís slightly slower strides, and knew it was due to the recent punishment that was put upon her. Xena watched Diana head into one of the advisorís chamber. Xena waited for Diana to close the door and then went and stood outside of it leaning against the frame of the door with her arms crossed over her chest as she now waited to hear what the conversation would be.

"Advisor Rayza, I want to know something."

"Yes Your Majesty, Iím at your service."

"Good. What happened in the meetings of the last three days?"

The advisor raised a brow, and hesitated to answer the question.

"What is it?"

"Well...itís just that Our Lord gave strict instructions that no information was to be given about anything that was discussed in the meetings, as if the Realm were in a war situation."

"Thatís fine, I understand that. But Iím sure Our Lord was not talking about me."

The advisor looked unsure of how to answer, but then thought the only way was to be honest.

"Actually Your Majesty..."

"Diana."

"Diana. Our Lord gave specific instructions that no information was to be given to you under any circumstances."

Diana flinched slightly at the information, and then she thought about it.

"Hmmm...I see, okay. We definitely donít want to get you in trouble with The Conqueror."

"Thank you for understanding your Majesty."

"Oh, youíre welcome. Hmmm...since you canít tell me what was discussed in the meeting, then I guess I donít have to worry about when Questra gets here tomorrow. I think it is better that I will be able to go to the residence here on the palace grounds to see her and talk to her anytime I want to. I mean since she is on the grounds. Ok, well thank you Advisor Rayza." Diana then turned as if she were leaving, but she hoped the Advisor would stop her, which, the advisor didnít fail her.

"Your Majesty? DianaÖwait. "

"Yes."

"Umm...Iíll tell you this, but please donít tell Our Lord?"

"Whatís to tell?"

The Advisor smiled at the inference and then proceeded to tell Diana some of the things that was discussed in the meeting. But she had only told one thing when there came a knock on the door of the Advisorís chamber doors.

The advisor called to the person/s to come in, and when The Conqueror stepped through the door with one of her Royal guard, the two younger womenís mouths dropped open. Diana snapped herís shut just as quickly.

"My...my Lord. Oh, I guess you want to speak to your Advisor, Iíll leave you two. Advisor Rayza, it was nice talking to you." Diana said innocently as she then turned and headed for the door where Xena stood.

But instead of being allowed to walk by Xena, her arm was caught and Xena pulled Diana close to her and leaning slightly over towards Diana without turning around, she whispered to Diana.

"I will see you in our chamber in a few minutes. Strip and wait for me."

Diana looked over her shoulder at Xena, not sure of how to take her order. It didnít quite sound like a seductive request, there was something in the tone that sent a chill down Dianaís spine, but she didnít know why.

Xena turned her head just enough to let Diana see her eyes, and then Diana knew why there was a chill running down her back. Dianaís eyes immediately began to glisten, but Xena simply raised a brow, and with an ever so slight shake of her head, she told Diana that the tears were not to fall. Diana inhaled sharply and dropped her head at what it meant for her.

Once Xena saw Diana understood, she let her go and gave her a final command.

"Go."

Diana then lifted her head and then slowly raised her eyes, the tension apparent on her brows, as Xena held her gaze for a moment and then cutting her eyes over to the Advisor, it allowed Diana to break the eye contact. Diana distractedly moved her hair from her face and headed out of the chamber to go to their chamber and do as she was told. At the same time the torture of having to wait for the punishment to come was even more stressful.

Once Diana had left the chamber and the guard closed the door, something told her to not leave just yet. She eased back to the door and stood outside of it and listened to the conversation within, mainly because she was concerned about the advisor.

"So Advisor Rayza, is this how you obey my commands? By telling things that I specifically told you not to?"

"My Lord...I...I...I only meant to enlighten Her Majesty about the fact that she would not be allowed to just go and see her...that other Questra anytime she wanted, I didnít mean to betray any confidence My Lord. Please forgive me for presuming?"

"I shall forgive you Rayza, but not until you have been shown the error of breaking ANY of my commands, especially those that are meant to be confidential. If I had wanted My Consort to know about things, then I would have told her myself or invited her into the meeting." Xena said as she moved to the door with catlike grace and stealth, and just as she had come to a good place to pause in her discussion with the Advisor, she suddenly opened the door of the chamber and leveled her gaze on a shocked Diana.

"I..." Was all Diana managed before she realized there was absolutely nothing she could say. So she immediately turned and ran for the staircase as Xena the Conqueror watched her go, then stepped back inside and continued her TALK with the advisor.

"Have the healer pay the advisor a visit." Xena said as she headed out of the chamber of Advisor Rayza. About half of a candlemark had passed since Diana had left.

The Advisor was lifted up off of the floor by the guard and carried to her bed and placed gently upon it. Being that the Advisor and most of them were soldiers first and advisors second; Xena punished the soldier as she would any of the others.

Xena arrived back at her chamber and when she entered she found Diana sitting on the bed back on her heels her head bowed and her hands on her lap. Xena immediately recognized the submissive posture, and she walked over to the bed. Rather than sit next to Diana on the bed, she stood towering over her as she looked down at her Consortís contrite and humble position.

"You know you were wrong, donít you?"

"Yes My Lord." Diana answered without raising her head.

"You know...itís been a while since Iíve seen you in this position, I have missed it. I think the reason why I have not seen it lately is because I have been quite lenient with you. Now that this Questra is here and I have to be strict with you, you seem to want to rebel against it, and it is partly my fault, but I wasnít expecting you to be disobedient and disrespectful to me. So...what does that mean for you? Well while I am tempted to not punish you because of this ever so sweet display, I can not and will not let ANYTHING go. So...prepare yourself while I go and change out of these clothes and get cleaned up." Xena watched the tears roll down Dianaís cheeks and drop off onto her lap. "No Kitten, I told you, no tears until I give you something to cry about. Suffice to say though, Questra will not be seeing you for the first few days. Xena then turned and walked to the bath chamber calling Dancea to her. She was assisted with her bath. After Xena had finished she returned to the bedchamber dressed only in a flowing robe. Diana was now sitting on the bed with her feet touching the floor. She nervously bounced her toes on the floor thereby bouncing her legs.

Xena walked over to the bed and stood once again towering over Diana, she brought her hand up to cup Dianaís chin and lifted her head to make Diana look her in the eyes.

"I love you kitten and I donít like having to punish you! Especially with everything else that is going on, but I have to have you completely under control, otherwise you may end up hurt. This Questra is just too dangerous, and kitten I canít let anything happen to you because of your behavior."

"Xena I will not go or do anything you tell me not to. Iíll stay right by your side. I will behave the way I am supposed to. Please give me the chance to show you? I can do it Xena, My Lord."

Xenaís expression remained stoic although her heart did smile. Xena sat on the bed, but she had not let go of Dianaís chin, Diana turned her body so as to follow her head around and her doe eyes gazing into Xenaís, hoping that Xena would forego the punishment.

"You will have your chance to show me....after your punishment." With that, Xena pulled Diana across her lap and immediately went to punishing her. Only it did not last as long, just long enough to once again have Diana stuck in bed for the next couple of days.

The next day Questra arrived at the palace.

"I am here to see The Conqueror." Questra announced to the sentries at the Palace gates, as she sat upon her black steed.

The gates glided open and Questra rode her horse inside and was escorted up to the palace by a troop of soldiers. She was met at the main entrance of the palace by Drago the head advisor and the head of Xenaís Royal guard.

"Welcome. Lord Xena is expecting you. If you will follow us, we will escort you to the throne room."

"Very good." Questra said as she gestured for them to lead on to the chamber. She cut her eyes to look at the contingent of soldiers that was also still escorting her, and she judged the purpose of it all was for security.

"My Lord...Your guest has arrived, shall we escort her in for an audience with you?"

"Yes, escort her in."

"Yes My Lord."

The Advisor and the others escorted Questra in to the chamber and then stepped back to allow the Conqueror to address only Questra. Questra looked up at Xena and saw that she was waiting for her to render the proper respect to her, and with a smirk, she raised a brow at her and then rendered a bow of her head to Xena. Xena smirked back, then gave a slight nod of her head as she commanded Questra to approach her.

Questra walked up closer to the throne. Xena stood and stepped down from it and walked up to Questra and leveled a gaze on her, then walked past her.

"Come with me." Xena called over her shoulder without looking back. Questra shook her head slightly at the whole thing, but she knew what it was about, and she would try to behave. Questra turned and followed at Xena and then caught up with her.

"So, where are we going?"

"Does it matter?"

"Not really, I was just curious."

"Good. But I am going to the Royal dining hall, I think we can talk better there."

"I did have a long ride and a little food would be nice. Will Diana be joining us?"

"No. Sheís not going to be available for the next two days."

Questra wasnít sure if she should believe that Xena was just trying to lead her around by her nose or if it was a simple matter of Xena just feeling her out. To see if she was sincere in her plans to change.


They arrived in the Royal dining hall and everyone rendered the proper respect. Xena gave them leave to continue their meals and turned her attention back to Questra.

"So, do you have any questions as to what I expect of you while you are here?"

"Not really, except to ask, where will I be staying and will Diana be allowed to come to me where ever that is?"

"You will be staying in one of the residences here on the grounds of the palace, and I will decide whether or not I will allow Diana to visit with you there of if you will only see her when either myself or Lady Xena, or Lord Questra are around. "

"Will I be allowed to walk the grounds or will I be a prisoner within the residence you have chosen for me?"

"Yes, you will. You will be allowed to go anywhere that any of my guests are allowed to go that is not restricted."

"Well thatís nice to hear."

Xena raised a brow and then continued.

"But, you will have escort with you everywhere you go, and if anything happens to any one of my guards because you did something, then I will take it as though you broke our deal. I will have you arrested right on the spot, and if you give them any problems, then I will kill you."

Questra pinched her lips together as she looked at Xena and saw the promise in her eyes.

"I have given you my word as to what my intentions are, yet you still think otherwise."

"I obviously believe something about your story, otherwise you would not be sitting here with me like this, you would be shackled down in the dungeon awaiting trial. So while I donít trust you, I do have some belief that you are sincere, maybe itís just my hoping that you are for Dianaís sake."

"Why Dianaís sake?"

"Because she believes you are sincere, and has taken punishment for that belief."

"Diana stood up for me?"

Xena studied Questraís expression due to the look of surprise and as a result a small smile played at the corner of her mouth.

"Diana stood up for what she believes is possible."

"Ok, I can understand that, but why are you going along with all of this? I can tell you would rather I just be imprisoned forever?"

"Does it matter?"

"Only in that it will determine what the environment will be like between us."

"I will be civilized with you as long as you donít cause any problems. And youíre right, I would just as soon see you imprisoned than look at you, but....because Diana seems to have some faith in you that you are sincere, I will forego my desire for vengeance against you to cater to that of Diana."

"Though you hate me, I must say I have respect for you in that you do not let your personal feelings rule you, but instead your wisdom to at least try and see what happens. I believe with Dianaís support, I will be able to succeed. Just like you did, and Lady Xena, and no telling who else Diana has run across in her life that she has helped to change. She is a special young woman and I do envy that she is yours, but I also envy the fact that you not only have Diana, but Gabrielle, I would be completely content to have either one of them as my life Consort."

"Well you can forget that, it will never happen.

"I know, but I just wanted to tell you how lucky you and Lord Questra are to have two such women in your lives."

"We know how lucky we are."

"Iím sure you do. So...when will I be allowed to talk with Diana?"

"In a few days. Meanwhile, you and I will get to know each other, and I will see what youíre about." Xena then took a sip of the orange juice as she watched Questra.

The two ate in relative silence, each watching the other, and every now and again they would either ask a question or make a statement to one another about things that were expected by each other.

The second day that Questra was there she ate all of her meals with Xena the Conqueror, except at evening meal, they were joined by Lady Xena and Lord Questra.

"Evening ladies, please join us." Xena invited as Questra and Lady Xena both took their normal seats and continued looking at the new guest at the table with Lord Xena. Lord Questra was really interested due to the obvious reason which was the woman looked exactly like her, and in fact was her in every way except the one that really counted, but even that had a possibility of changing, now that she was at the palace.

"Good Evening Lord Xena." Both women greeted as they sat, and then Xena re-introduced the other woman at the table.
"You both remember Questra? Questra this is Lord Questra and of course you know Lady Xena."

"Yes. Hello ladies. Itís good to see you both again."

"Questra. Itís been a while...youíve been quite busy."

"Yes, itís true Lady Xena, but you know why and how all of that came about. Now...just like you and Lord Xena, I too am looking for a change, and I believe....no, I know, Diana is the key to a successful result."

"Is that right?"

"Yes, it is." The two clones eyed each other, unwilling to be the first to break contact, but then when Lord Questra spoke, Questra the clone was the first to break and both Lady Xena and Lord Xena smirked.

"So...why are you looking for a change Questra, it appeared to me that you loved what you were doing?"

"I only loved it because evil was what I was created to do, and do it I did...and well. But there is this strange feeling that I have inside of me that found myself enjoying the responses of Diana when I was sincerely nice to her. She is quite a young woman. Despite her head telling her not to believe a word I was saying, and just play along, her heart actually saw the truth, and it leapt with hope that what it was seeing was possible and..."

"So youíre doing all of this for Diana?"

"No, as a result of the way Diana made me feel. The last few days that she and I spent together, it was quite tension free. We even laughed a few times believe it or not."

"Not." Lady Xena stated sarcastically, and Lord Xena watched to see what Questraís response to her would be.

"Well it is true." Questra answered simply, and then took a sip of her port.

Lady Xena smirked and then glanced over at Lord Xena who happened to be looking at her as well, and she gave an approving nod of her head at Lady Xenaís goading of The Questra.

"Hmmm...if you say so."

"I do."

The four women sat in silence for a few minutes each studying the other, then Xena saw Gabrielle enter the dining hall and she nudged Lord Questra who casually glanced to where Xena gestured with her eyes. Questra was about to send a message to Gabrielle, but Gabrielle saw them and called to Lord Questra.

"Ques!"

Lord Questra gave a slight nod of her head to acknowledge her Consortís greeting, although she had a tight smile on her face as she did so. Gabrielle arrived at the table and greeted Lord Xena first with a kiss, and then greeted her Lord with a kiss, she then turned to greet Lady Xena, but just as she did, her eyes fell on the other Questra and she jumped and fell over into her Lordís lap. A gasped escaped her throat and she looked wild eyed at the other women at the table.

"Itís alright Gabrielle." Lord Xena stated calmly, hoping to radiate the feeling of comfort to Gabrielle.

Gabrielle gave Xena a wide eyed look of ĎYouíve got to be kidding.í

"Hello Gabrielle. How are you?"

Gabrielle didnít know what to do, or say as she looked to the three women for some sort of reassurance. Then seeing that neither of the women seemed concerned at all at the cloneís presence, Gabrielle figured it was alright to answer.

"Hi. Iím...confused, but fine, and you??" Gabrielle asked perplexed by the whole thing.

"Very well, thank you. It really is good to see you again, hopefully, you and I will have some time to talk?"

"I...I donít know...that would be up to...to My Lord! Yeah up to Lord Questra and Lord Xena, and they may not want me getting in the way of ....of whatever the heck is going on here...will someone PLEASE tell me what is going on??" Gabrielle finally asked in frustration.

Clone Questra chuckled, and Lord Xena raised a brow and then answered Gabrielleís near panicked question.

"I invited her here based off of what Diana told us."

"Oh...OH! You mean about her....you wanting to change??! You really meant that?"

"Yes Gabrielle, and I know with Dianaís help....and yours, I can turn things around just like Lady Xena and Lord Xena both did."

"My...my help??"

"Yes. You have a sweet disposition that a part of me seems to appreciate, the same way I appreciate that which is a part of Diana."

"Really?? You...you think I have a sweet disposition??" Gabrielle asked surprisingly flattered by the compliment.

"Yes." Questra answered simply, and with a smirk.

"Gabrielle, I think you should go check on Diana and then help Noor if she needs any?" Lord Questra stated as she gave a slight pinch to Gabrielleís behind.

"OW!! " Gabrielle yelped jumping up onto her feet. " I mean...yesÖyouíre right, I do need to go check on Diana and Noor. Um...Questra...weíll see what My Lord thinks about my helping you along with Diana."

"Well hopefully she will allow it, Iíve missed you."

"Iím sure you did." Questra sneered as she then gave a jerk of her head for Gabrielle to leave.

Gabrielle gave a nod of her head and then bid the others at the table a good evening. She leaned over and giving a kiss to her Questra, then turned and left the dining hall, despite her not getting anything to eat which was the purpose for her going into dining hall in the first place.

She left the hall and immediately went to Dianaís and Xenaís chamber.

"Diana?"

"In here Gabrielle."

"Oh. Diana, you will not believe who I ran into in the dining hall?"

"The Dining Hall?"

"Yes. The Royal Dining hall, out of all places!"

"Oh, ok. The other Questra?" Diana answered with a slight smirk.

"Yes!! How did you know?!"

"Xena mentioned that she was allowing her to come here."

"Oh, thatís right, so that you can help her change?" Gabrielle now had a conspiratory look in her eyes as she hopped on the bed with a wry smirk on her face, and then she asked in a curious voice. "Do you really think she can change??"

"I wouldnít be doing this if I didnít think there was a chance. Plus there would be no way Xena would even think to let me try if she didnít see that I was somewhat sure about this."

"Wow! Itís going to be so tense around here, donít you think?"

"Maybe at first, but Gabrielle I am going to need your help more than anyone else."

"What do you mean?"

"Questra has deep feelings for you, just like our Questra does, she spoke of you often when I was there."

"Really? What did she say?"

"She just spoke of how she wished things could have been different. Although she was nice to you for the most part, she said the way she feels now, and hopes to continue to feel, she thought that maybe you two could become friends...maybe."

"Really??" Gabrielle said again in disbelief.

"Yes, really sis. Gabrielle, I really believe that the success of all of this will depend on you and me. If you turn your back on her and not help by talking to her, or even trusting her enough to be somewhere with her alone, then she will feel like this is all just for nothing. If she canít win over any of us here in this palace, how is she going to do it with the people out there?

"What in the hell are you saying Diana?!" Lord Questraís voice broke into the quiet conversation that Diana and Gabrielle were having. Neither had heard the three women come into the sitting room, but all three heard the two young girlís conversation loud and clear, even though the door was closed. It was their ears, able to hear the faintest of sounds, so any conversation no matter the distance was heard as if sitting in the same room talking to each other.

Diana and Gabrielle were both startled by the angry tone.

"Lord Questra? My Lord, Lady Xena, I didnít hear you come in, how is everything with our visitor?" Diana asked, although her eyes were locked on Questra, who seemed to be glaring at her.

Xena glanced at Questra, and then back at her consort. She moved to sit on the bed next to Diana as she leaned back and locked her hands behind her head she let a smirk play on her lips.

"Things are fine. Now I do believe Lord Questra has asked you a question and I suggest you answer her, she doesnít look to pleased by what she heard, and I will admit...neither do I."

"I...I simply meant that it was going to take both Gabrielle and I to make this successful." Diana said trying to explain.

"Gabrielle was not part of this agreement, and therefore she will not be involved in ANY WAY with Questra!"

"But Lord Questra, it is important that Gabrielle is involved, after all Questra is YOUR clone, therefore she is capable of the same feelings for Gabrielle that you have for Gabrielle." Diana argued back.

"Even more reason why she will not be involved! Do I make myself clear Diana?!"


"Oh, youíre clear Lord Questra, I just think youíre being completely unreasonable and unfair! If I didnít know better I would think you were hoping this failed, after all, the possibility of Gabrielle developing real loving feelings for Questra is all too real and possible." Dianaís sarcasm was not allowed to pass.

Both Xenaís already knew what was about to happen even before Diana had finished Questraís name. The tone and just everything about her comments were all disrespectful, and Lord Xena would have snatched Diana up had she not already knew that that was what Lord Questra was about to do. Even Gabrielle felt and saw what was about to happen.

Before Diana could say anything more, Questra had not only made it to the bed before Diana could try to jump over Xena, but she had caught her by her long hair. She pulled Diana back to her and flipped her over and laid 20 painful swats to her already sore bottom. Diana screamed and pleaded for Questra to stop, but they went unanswered until Questra had finished and then flipped Diana back up onto the bed on her knees as she held Diana by her thick hair. Her head tilted upwards to look Questra in her eyes, their faces only inches away from each others, as large tears rolled down Dianaís cheeks.

"If...You...Ever...Speak to me in such a way again little one, I promise you, I will forget that you are Lord Xenaís and I will whip you until...I grow tired. Do I make myself clear Diana?"

"Yes My Lord. Perfectly. Forgive me?!" Diana sobbed as her body trembled from fear and pain.

"Youíre forgiven little one. Gabrielle, you will have nothing to do with Questra, is that clear?"

"Ye...ye...Yes My Lord." Gabrielle answered nervously, as she stood on the other side of the bed shocked and scared at what she had just seen, and the fact that Xena didnít say or do anything to stop it.

"You have any problems with that Diana?"

"No My Lord. None." Diana said hurriedly.

"Good." Was Questraís final words on the subject, as she leaned in and kissed Diana on the forehead. She let her hair go, and Diana eased away from Questra and eased up next to her own Lord, and she lowered her eyes and then brought them humbly up to glance at Xena in wonder as to why she didnít do anything. But the sympathy she sought, was not there, instead, Xena gave her a hard look, one that told Diana she was wrong, and that she was lucky Questra got her.

Diana lowered her eyes once again as the tears rolled harder, eventually she covered her face and sobbed into her hands. Xena then pulled her Consort into her arms to comfort her, and her hurt feelings. Diana cuddled into Xenaís arms and buried her head in Xenaís chest and cried.

"Ladies, if you will excuse me. I need to talk to my Consort."

"Of course Lord Xena. Diana, I will send Gabrielle to see you later, if your Lord says it is ok. Gabrielle letís go."

"Yes My Lord. Sis, Iíll see you later, ok?"

Diana just nodded her head without looking up from Xenaís chest. Gabrielle had tears in her own eyes, so she turned and headed out the bedchamber doors with Questra, and Lady Xena waited a moment and spoke to Diana.

"Diana, I will send Noor to see you as well, she has missed you."

Again, Diana just nodded her head and continued to sob into Xenaís chest.

"Ok. Lord Xena, when you are ready to continue our conversation about things, Iíll be in my chamber."

"I will call for you and Lord Questra when I am ready."

Lady Xena then turned and left, pulling the doors closed behind her. Xena then turned her attention to the sobbing young woman in her arms. She lifted Dianaís head up off of her chest and held her chin up so that she was looking Xena in the eyes.

"I know your feelings are hurt, in more ways than one, but you do let your temper get the best of you. Iíve told you before, I was not going to allow you to misbehave at all while this other Questra is here. Itís just too much of a risk, and I am not willing to take that risk, not with you, OR Gabrielle. I also know you are stunned by what Questra was allowed to do to you, but you heard me when I told them that they could disciple you if they thought you needed to be. Obviously, you didnít believe me, or them, that they would actually do it. Diana, itís not just words, I mean what I have told you. You will be obedient, you will be respectful, and you will only see that Questra when I say it is alright for you to. You will also not involve
Gabrielle...."

Diana went to say something at Xenaís last statement, but then thought better of saying anything at the moment since she didnít want to anger Xena as well. But Xena knew Diana had something on her mind, after all, it was at that same point in Lord Questraís statement that led to Diana being whipped.

"Go on." Xena said encouragingly.

Diana tried a couple of times to find the courage to tell Xena, and finally, after a few times, she finally was able to just say it.

"Xena....I understand why Lord Questra doesnít want Gabrielle anywhere near the other Questra."

"Do you? Do you really Kitten?"

"Yes. I know itís not because of what I was saying, I was just mad. I know Questra is only trying to protect Gabrielle the same way you try to protect me. But Xena, you know...I would NEVER let anything happen to Gabrielle, you know that."

"I know Kitten. But thatís not the concern, the concern is that you wonít be able to stop anything from happening if Questra decided to try something."

Diana lowered her gaze for a moment as she thought about Xenaís words, and then lifted them once again to look her love in the eyes.

"Iíll admit you are right about that, but Xena, I know it is vital that Gabrielle be a part of this. I know I didnít mention it before, but I didnít want you to say no. The fact of Questra wanting to change is a tremendous thing. She is the most dangerous woman out there who has the ability to hurt any of us...well not you directly, but indirectly, isnít it worth anything we can do to make sure she has a chance of succeeding? If not for her, then for the people of your realm?"

"Diana I hear you. But the fact is, Questra has the right to protect Gabrielle as she sees fit. I donít even want you near her, but I understand that that is not realistic. I canít tell Lord Questra how to handle Gabrielle...well I can, but I wonít, it is her choice what she chooses for her."

"I know you wouldnít dictate to Lord Questra about this, but all I am asking is that you talk to her, and get her to see that Gabrielle is important in all of this. After all, it was Gabrielle she wanted when she and Lady Xena first showed up here."

"Yes but her desire seems to have changed."

"No, it hasnít, itís just that I am an aberration to people."

Xena smirked and then agreed with Diana.

"Yes, you are truly a fantasy for anyone Kitten, and youíre all mine to enjoy in all ways anywhere and anytime...and speaking of which, I have desire of my fantasy now." Xena purred as she pulled Diana back to her and laid a heated kiss on her opened mouthed Consort.

Diana melted into Xena and Xena repositioned herself and Diana followed her as they continued to kiss. Xena slipped the robe off of Dianaís shoulders and begun kissing her way down Dianaís neck. Diana stretched out and moaned as Xena sighed deeply and stretched her long body out over top of Dianaís while
stretching Dianaís arms up over her head. Xena kissed and nibbled her way down Dianaís sweet body.

Xena came to Dianaís bronze nipples and she kissed around them at first. Kissing and sucking the flesh of Dianaís breast into her mouth, she went from one to the other, as Diana groaned she lifted her chest trying to get Xena to pay attention to her taut nipples. But Xena smirked and stretched Dianaís arms tighter over her head, thereby elongating Dianaís body more.

Xena did everything to Dianaís breasts except touch her nipples. They were now glowing with need, and Diana was squirming and pleading for Xena to love them.

"No." Xena purred up to Diana, her eyes watching Dianaís struggle to not cry, but Xena saw Diana was going to lose that struggle. Xena was in a temptress type of mood. She wanted Diana so in need of her touch that to not touch her would drive Diana out of control.

"Please Xena??" Dianaís voice labored and pleading.

Xena continued to love over Dianaís breast, but still refused to touch those needful tips of Dianaís. Xena slowly began to move down once again, nibbling as she went, her hands gliding down along Dianaís arms as she moved lower over Dianaís writhing and trembling body.

Xenaís hand came to rest on Dianaís breast as her mouth came to Dianaís flower. Xena teased her flicking her tongue over the throbbing ready button, yet, not staying long enough to send Dianaís spirit soaring just yet, Xenaís own body ringing with need, only this need was for Xena to have Diana first and then allow Diana release.

Xena took a long firm stroke over Dianaís button, as well as downward to her sultry lady hood. Xenaís tongue wasted no time burying itself deep inside, until it touched upon Dianaís core. Dianaís body jerked reflectively as a result, and now intense trembles were affecting Dianaís glistening body. Xenaís tongue radiated the sensation throughout her mouth and through her body where the electrical energy ended in Xenaís hands and groin. Her hands squeezed Dianaís breasts hard, as her fingers pinched each nipple just as hard.

Diana moaned deeply and her hands tangled in Xenaís thick raven mane. Xenaís womanhood was rubbing hard against Dianaís knee.

"Xena I want you?!" Diana gasped through her breathless state as Xenaís tongue was having a field day inside of her flower. Xena quickly turned her body and lowered herself overtop of Dianaís waiting grateful mouth.

The moment Dianaís mouth caught hold of and sucked into her mouth, Xenaís pulsating clit, Xenaís breath caught and she began moving her hips. But then Diana moved from Xenaís peak down to her nature where she didnít waste anytime either, she slipped her tongue inside of Xena and Xena sighed deeply.

The two then found the same rhythm as their tongues danced inside each otherís hot love tunnels. Teasing and sucking at the otherís core openings. Both their tongues changed at the tips to achieve the affect they were going for. Then Dianaís body contracted, relaxed and then contracted again, and relaxed slowly. Each time it did, the relaxed stage was not lasting long w and then Dianaís hips jerked as did Xenaís and suddenly.... both their tongues were being caressed against as a result of the intense contractions the two were having as their bodies and minds exploded.

The two found themselves floating once again in Ecstasyís Realm, the watchers looked down at the two real forms locked in ecstasy. The watchers lifted their eyes to see six women, with Lord Xena and Lady Diana towering behind the other four, and Lord Xena behind Diana, with her arms enfolding Diana within. When the watcherís looked at the other four they saw Lady Xena embracing Lady Noor, and Lord Questra embracing Lady Gabrielle. The watchers then saw two more images coming towards the other six women, and all looked back, and then returned their gazes to the front as if not bothered or worried about the two approaching figures.

The watchers quickly looked back down at the two tangible figures and then back up so as to see who the two figures were that were approaching, yet causing no concern to the other women. The figures were about to come out of the shadows but just as Lord Xena lifted her arms to accept the two still unfocused figures into their group, the two tangible figures suddenly inhaled and the the watchers looked down and saw Dianaís body collapse back to the bed. When the watchers looked back up, they saw Dianaís image fading, and then when Xenaís body collapsed overtop of Dianaís, all the other images disappeared, never revealing who the other two figures were.

Xena would remember the vision, but Diana would not because of Xena making that choice. The watcherís saw that the two had slipped into a deep sleep so they were the oneís to position the two tangible figures side by side. Then they had the two servants Ludmilla and Dancea to attend to their mistressís in cleaning them up. The two slept through the next day, and then Xena aroused and eventually awoke. After checking on Diana and making sure she was alright and comfortable, she then gave orders to Ludmilla to make sure she alerted her when Diana awoke. She dressed and went to attend to some of her duties, although she knew Lord Questra had already attended to things while she was unavailable.

"Lord Xena, how are you feeling this morning?" Lord Questra asked as she and Lady Xena and the other Questra all stood and welcomed her to the dining table for breakfast.

"Relaxed." Xena stated with a meaningful raise of her brow. All three of the women chuckled.

"So....I take it Diana will be unavailable for our meeting?"

"I donít know, depends on how....relaxed....she still is. I know one thing, she will be quite famished when she does awaken." Xena then snapped her fingers and the servants brought in her breakfast, as well as the other ladies at the table.

Gabrielle and Noor decided to go and visit with Diana since they had not seen her yesterday and Noor had not seen Diana in over a week because of not wanting to leave her childrenís sides because of the other Questra being around. But Gabrielle talked her into leaving them with Kalissa. When the two arrived at the chamber Ludmilla greeted them.

"Where is your mistress?"

"She is still asleep."

"Really? Hmmm, I guess Lord Xena was really impassioned for Diana to still be asleep. Well....I think it will be alright to wake her, donít you Noor?"

Noor was trying not to laugh outright at the way Gabrielle had Ludmilla blushing with embarrassment.

"Yes Gabrielle I think it would be fine." Noorís voice cracking due to her efforts to not laugh and embarrass the young servant anymore than she already was.

The two went into the chamber and headed for the bedchamber. Gabrielle went to one side of the bed and Noor to the other. Both sat and for a moment just looked at Diana sleeping so peacefully. Then Gabrielle cast Noor a conspiratory gaze and leaned forward and whispered in her sisterís ear.

"D..i..a..n..aaaa. "

Dianaís eyes fluttered, and then Noor leaned in and did the same thing to the other side. Diana groaned, and then both of Dianaís sisters leaned in and just as Dianaís eyes fluttered opened, they kissed her on each cheek.

"Good morning Sis!!"

"How do you feel?"

"Gabrielle? Noor?"

"Yes, itís us."

"Hmm, whereís Xena?"

"Probably in a meeting or something. How about we get you dressed go get something to eat? Or we could have Ludmilla have some sent up here?"

"No...I want to go out of the chamber. So letís go to the Royal Dining hall...I could eat into next week I think."

Gabrielle and Noor both laughed when they heard Dianaís tummy agree. Diana blushed and then with help she got out of bed and was assisted in getting cleaned up and dressed. Diana was weak, but they made it to the dining hall and Diana didnít sense Xenaís presence, nor any of the others, so they went to find a seat. Just as they passed by one table with a group of harem girls giggling among themselves, with one chair empty, Diana thought it was strange as did Gabrielle.

"Now what do you suppose that is about?"

"I donít know, but it is unusual to see them in here, usually they eat in the Dining chamber within the Harem."

"That is strange, the only time they eat in here is if there is a special Diplomat or visitor." Diana stated thoughtfully.

"Well...letís go on and sit down, we know youíre hungry Diana." Gabrielle said changing the subject.

"I would say she is, the only time Iíve ever heard Dianaís tummy make any sound, is after she and Xena have had and extremely marathon length lovefest." Noorís smirk made Diana smirk back at her and then she turned and headed for their reserved seats.

While they were sitting, and Gabrielle and Noor were watching Diana in awe at the sheer amount of food Diana was putting away into her small framed body. Diana suddenly stiffened as she caught hold of her belly and held it as if in pain. Gabrielle also reacted in a similar way. Noor watched the two and became alarmed at what was happening to them.

"What is it?"

"I...I just suddenly got tight!" Diana gasped.

"You too Gabrielle?"

"Yes. I donít understand it, this never happens."

"Well it must be that both Lords are impassioned, so they must have just came into the dining hall?" Noor reasoned as she looked over to her left towards the rest of the dining hall.

"Goodness." Diana gasped again and then began to breathe slowly to try to control the uncomfortable feeling.

Gabrielle was near tears at how tight she was. Noor scanned the room and then her eyes fell on what the cause was for Gabrielle but not Diana.

"Oh...there is it. Lord Questra just came in, that explains why you feel so tight Gabrielle, but I donít see what is causing you the problem Diana, maybe..." Noorís words cut off when she saw what Questra did.

Rather than Questra heading over to where they were, she took a seat with the Harem women.

"Whatís she doing?" Diana asked through her controlled breathing.

"I donít know." Noor answered as she watched Gabrielle lift her eyes to look over where Diana and Noor were looking.

Gabrielleís eyes widened when she saw one of the women get pulled into Questraís lap and she kissed her fiercely.

"What is she doing??!" Gabrielle fumed despite the intense tightness in her belly.

"Iíll go talk to her Gab." Diana stated as she finally tamped down the intense tightening she had.

"No! Help me Diana! Ease what I am feeling. Can you do that?" Gabrielle asked not knowing if there was someway of taking away the tightness from her.

"Yes, but you will have to hurry I wonít be able to maintain it for too long."

"Ok. What do you have to do? Gabrielle asked assuming it was some major process.


Diana gestured for Gabrielle to lean over to her and she lifted her hand to Gabrielleís head and touched her on her forehead. With a thought, Diana suddenly gasped and curled up on her knees in the large chair that she and Xena usually shared. Gabrielle at the same moment exhaled and was breathing normally.

"Wow!" She exclaimed.

"Hurry!" Diana gasped as tears now ran down her own cheeks.

"Ok. Are you going to be alright?"

"Gabrielle go!"

"Ok, Ok. Be right back." Gabrielle said in a rush as she then turned and headed for the table that Questra was sitting at, with the harem woman in her lap still.

Questra sensed Gabrielleís approach although she pretended that she didnít.

"A-hem!" Gabrielle said clearing her throat to make her presence known.

"Gabrielle? Hello. How are you?"

Gabrielleís brows knitted in confusion as to why Questra was acting so casual without any sign of regret at being caught by Gabrielle kissing and fondling another woman.

"What is it Gabrielle?"

"Whatís going on with you? Why are you acting like this? And WHY are you kissing on her? And why are all of these other oneís here with you also?" Gabrielleís eyes flashing their anger.

"Gabrielle, Iím sorry. I didnít realize until just now...you think I am YOUR Lord Questra, Iím not."

Gabrielleís mouth dropped open, and she paled right in front of Questra, who simply gave a compassionate smile.

"Iím...Iím so sorry! Gaia I am so sorry, I thought..."

"Itís alright Gabrielle, mistakes happen, no harm done. Besides, it led to you talking to me right now. Iím sort of disappointed that I am not youíre Lord. But to be your friend will be enough." Questra gave a studying gaze at Gabrielle, and then continued. "Do you think that is possible Gabrielle?"

"I...I donít know. I have to go. Iím sorry I disturbed you." Gabrielle then turned to leave, and Questra watched her, disappointment registering in her eyes, and doubt in her heart if she could actually do this.

But just as she was thinking about it, Gabrielle stopped and turned back around.

"But you know..." Gabrielle suddenly said as Questraís brows now knitted. She waited to see what Gabrielle was about to say. Gabrielle lowered her eyes for a moment in thought, and then lifted them back up. "The fact that you didnít take advantage of my mistake, and pretend to be My Lord, says a lot to me. Who knows, anything is possible? Oh, by the way, would you mind reining in your hormones a little, itís REALLY causing a problem for Diana and me?"

"Of course, no problem, I should have realized. How is that?"

Gabrielle looked over at Diana and saw that she was no longer crying.

"Fine, thank you." Gabrielle then gave a small smile and then when Questra smiled back, she lowered her eyes, turned and went back to her table with Diana and Noor.

Questra felt that feeling again. That warm feeling deep inside of her once again, and the smile on her face turned into that of a satisfying smirk.

"Interesting." Questra said thoughtfully as she continued to watch Gabrielle, until she took her seat at the table once again.

"You ok Diana?"

"Yes."

"So what is going on with Lord Questra?"

"Itís not her, itís..."Gabrielle was unsure as to whether to tell Noor or let her figure it out. Then she thought Noor had the right to know. "Itís the other one."

"What? What do you mean the other....Itís her?!!" Noor shrieked in a low but obviously fearful voice.

"Yes. But sheís not going to do anything Noor!" Gabrielle said in a rush, and Diana also now spoke.

"Noor, sheís minding her own business, she is no threat."

"Right, you two can say that, you donít have any children Diana, and she didnít mess with your children Gabrielle, she kidnapped and then tried to poison my son! She deserves nothing but to die!" With those words as hurtful as they were to Diana, she understood none the less.

Diana jumped from her chair and was on Noorís heels as Noor shot out with a knife for Questra, intending to take her out, or at least try. Just as Noor was ready to strike Questra who turned and Diana was just about to catch Noorís descending hand, but someone caught Dianaís and at the same time someone else caught Noorís. Questraís eyes narrowed, but when she looked up at the person who was holding Noorís wrist, the anger that was there gradually faded.

"Noor you donít want to do this." The calm voice stated.

"Yes I do! She tried to hurt my child!" Noor sobbed, as she tried to move her wrist to strike, but Lord Xenaís hold held her as if she were being held by cement.

Xena pulled the sobbing woman into her arms to comfort her, and she looked over to one of the Priestessís and asked her to take Noor back to her chamber and to locate Lady Xena and tell her. Noor moved from Xenaís arms, into that of the Priestess, and was taken from the dining hall.

"Are you alright Questra?" Xena asked of the clone.

"Yes. Thank you. Although she would not have hurt me with a regular knife, but none the less thank you."

"Hmmm...I want to know what happened."

Lord Questra let go of Dianaís hand and Diana went to explain, but Gabrielle felt it was her responsibility.

"No Diana, it was my fault."

"What do you mean Gabrielle?" Questra asked as she stepped up to her Consort.



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