The Golden Legion - part 3
by Anita Louise
A MEETING OF MINDS
The woman had been standing for a long time, staring into space. Her flaming hair tossing about her head from the breeze. She wore a pair of tight black leather pants and a white blouse that hung out at the waist. Saxton approached and said, "Still miss her don't you Captain?"
She was tall and when she turned, the low neck of the blouse was very apparent. The leather ties that held the blouse together were hanging loose giving her bounteous bosoms a chance to rise above the material. Gazing at the man, she nodded her head and said, "You are always so astute. Many things I have seen and been through but this is effecting me like no other."
The man leaned against the bulwark and said, "It is understandable, she came into our lives and made them full again. It is remarkable, the changes aboard the ship. Even the men miss seeing that bright smile of hers."
Ann's green eyes seemed to have a mist in them as she stared into the face of her first mate and supporter "Old friend, I don't know what to do. I feel each day the hurt will fade but instead the pain grows stronger."
He looked down as he replied, "I am sorry to know you are pained. The happiness the two of you shared is what you should have right now. Gabrielle would not want to know you are hurting."
"And I would never tell her. She and Xena deserve a life together and if I had met Gabrielle before Xena, maybe things would have been different."
"Might not have been the same though. It is from her travels with the warrior, that has taken a village girl to the strong woman she is today. There is a possibility that if you had met her before Xena she would have been different."
Sea smiled and said, "She still would be Gabrielle, Bard, friend and soul mate. There is nothing that would change her from the wonderful person she is."
He pointed to the left and said, "We will be getting close to the Amazon Village soon. Do you think this is a good idea? What if Xena and Gabrielle are there? It is not good to get all of you in one place."
Sea threw her head back and laughed, "I would think with the entire Amazon Nation there we would all be safe. I'm sure they would not let anything like a love triangle spoil their festival."
The Amazons had been watching the ship as it came into sight. Megan was beside herself as she said, "It is Captain Bounty! How wonderful she is paying us a visit again."
Her friend Lilith smiled as she said, "I'm sure there will be many in the village that will welcome her. We must go and tell the Queen." Megan was hanging back and the woman said, "Come on, if we don't hurry, she will be on land before we get a chance to tell anyone." The two women turned and headed toward the village.
As the longboat pulled into the inlet Saxton jumped into the water and began
to pull it on shore. Ann Bounty jumped to the ground as she said, "Tell the
men to bring the chest. I am going on ahead." He nodded and said, "We will
be right behind you." He shook his head as he watched the woman until she
was out of sight. He knew that her hurry was because she hoped to hear
something about Gabrielle.
The women were busily working on preparations for the festival when the statuesque woman stepped into their village. The minute her boots touched the ground the women turned to stare. Ann was oblivious to their stares as she continued to walk toward the large dwelling at the end of the path. She stopped when a guard stepped in front of her. "I want to have an audience with Queen Melosa." The guard motioned for her to wait and turned entering the building. Ann gazed around the area. She smiled when her eyes fell on Megan. The woman waved to her. It wasn't long before the guard returned and said, "The Queen will see you. Follow me."
Gazing at the surroundings in the room she saw the Queen enter from an adjoining chamber. The minute Melosa saw her she smiled and walked toward the woman. "Ann Bunty, good to see you again friend. I hope you have come to take in the festival and enjoy our amenities. She motioned to several chairs and said, "Let's set."
Ann followed and said, "I have brought your village some goods. My men are bringing them up, so tell your people not to harm the men."
Melosa motioned to one of the guards and gave her orders. As the woman left the room she said, "They will be all right. Now, tell me why you are here?"
Ann had been staring into space. The Queen called for something to drink then she turned back to the woman and said, "I already know the answer, you have come hoping to hear something about Gabrielle."
"That would be an added bonus. Have you heard anything?"
Melosa smiled and said, "Here comes our drinks." She took the drinks and handed a goblet to Ann then said, "You are in luck, Gabrielle is here."
Sea had started to take a drink and stopped in mid air as she said, "Gabrielle is here?"
Melosa answered, "Yes, she is in the cave of purification."
Sea's eyes were very alert as she asked, "Cave of purification, what is it and where is it?"
"Sorry, you cannot see her there. It is a place we go to rid our bodies of toxins and evil spirits. We must be alone and become one with our own being."
Sea got to her feet and said, "I have to see her, isn't there someway?"
Melosa rose and said, "Maybe she will be finished in the next day or two, until then you are welcome to stay and enjoy the hospitality of our people."
Sea thanked her and said, "I had better go check on my men and make sure you are brought the chest." They both left the building and as Ann stepped outside she saw her men standing by the chest. They did not look too comfortable. Saxton smiled when he saw her and said, "Good to see you Captain, these women do not like the sight of men." She approached him and said, "It is all right, you take the men and go back to the ship and when I am ready I will let you know."
He asked, "Have you word of the little one?"
Sea whispered, "She is here, and if they think something called the cave of purification is going to keep me away, they are mistaken."
He looked concerned as he said, "Best be careful. These women can be your friend but if you make them mad."
She smiled and said, "Don't worry, get back to the ship."
Sea watched the men leave then turned to see Melosa's guards carry the chest into the building. The Queen turned to her and said, "My guard will take you to your dwelling. Get some rest and if there is anything you should need all you have to do is ask."
Ann thanked her and she left. A woman approached her and said, "I will show you to your quarters now Captain Bounty."
Smiling at the woman she said, "Lead the way." The woman held the door open
as Ann walked into the room she then turned and thanked the woman. It didn't
take her long to check out the room. It was modest and she liked that. There
was a bowl of fruit setting on a small table along with a goblet and bottle
of port. Ann walked over and poured a goblet of the port. After taking a
long drink she set the goblet down.
Stepping out the room she checked everything. Spying the pallet on the floor she walked over to it and sat down. It didn't take long to lay back and stretch out. She had been fighting with herself for sometime. Every fiber of her being wanted to go and hunt down Gabrielle but she kept telling herself to wait. She was brought out of her thoughts by the words, "Captain Bounty, may I come in?"
She set up and said, "Enter." As the woman stepped into the room her eyes met Megan's. The woman smiled when she saw Ann. Rising to her feet Ann walked over and said, "Good to see you again Megan."
Megan was obviously enamored with this striking woman as she said, "Goo... You remembered me?"
Ann reached out and took the woman's right hand in her's and said, "Of course, hard to forget someone like you. Come on in and set down at the table. I'll pour you a goblet."
Megan shyly smiled as she walked over to the table and sat down. Sea poured her a goblet of port and handed it to the woman. She walked around the table and set. Staring at Megan she finally said, "Tell me, where is this cave of purification?" Megan took a drink then said, "Surely you don't have anything to purify?"
"I am just curious that's all. Queen Melosa was telling me about it."
Megan said, "It is down past the falls."
"That is all well and good, but for someone like me, I have no idea where that is."
Megan laughed and said, "I could show you."
Sea smiled and replied, "Just tell me, I will find my way there." The woman gave her directions and when she was finished she said, "I hope you will stay for the festival."
Ann replied, "I have come a long ways. I hope to attend. Now, I must get some rest."
Megan got to her feet as she said, "Oh, I'm sorry."
Ann reached out and touched the woman's left hand and said, "Nothing to be sorry about, I'm glad you came by and I will see you tomorrow."
Megan beamed as she left the building. Ann waited until most of the villagers had gone to sleep then she stepped out into the darkness of the night. The few torches that lined the compound were giving her enough light to find her way.
The directions the woman had given her were good because it didn't take long to find the path to the falls. Sea was cautious and had avoided contact with several guards. Peering over a rock ledge she could see several women standing guard in front of an opening. She assumed this was the purification place. Unusual to have guards posted but then if Gabrielle was in there and she was an Amazon Princess then maybe the guards were necessary.
It didn't take her long to create a diversion and when the women ran to see what made the noise she slipped through the opening. The inside was dimly lit by torches lining the walls and it didn't take the woman long to find a robe and put it on. She reached down and picked up several towels, a robe and started walking toward the doorway she had spotted in the distance.
Gabrielle had been setting in a circle. Her legs were crossed and she held her eyes closed. Surrounding the woman were many large heated rocks. She had a bucket of water setting beside her and she would toss out water from time to time causing steam to fill the room. She hoped that this would help to clear her mind.
She longed to be back with Xena and their home. She missed the open trail and their many adventures. And try as hard as she could to forget, she missed a woman named Sea Troll and a life on Spoon Island. She knew something had to give. For days she had been going in and out of reality.
When she finally made it to the village she was relieved and Melosa had been wonderful to her. The Amazons had their own Gods and they had their own way of praying to them. She felt at peace with herself and hoped that things would fall into place. She didn't care how many days it would take, she would stay and sweat it out.
Ann paused at the door way as she heard the sounds of water hitting something hot. She slowly peeked into the room. The minute her eyes fell on the woman she felt as if her heart would stop. It began to beat rapidly and she felt a weakened sensation in her legs. Clutching the towel and robe she watched as the steam spiraled upward. And in the middle of the circle, set the lovely form of the person she missed. Finally forcing her feet to move forward she entered the room. Gabrielle looked up when she saw the robed form enter and said, "Just leave the things by the door, I don't think I will have need of them now."
Sea laid the items down then turned and began to walk toward Gabrielle. The Bard saw the form through the steam and stood as she said, "Is there something else?"
It was quiet for an instant then she heard the words, "You are a sight, I would sail forever and never see a beauty like you."
Wiping her eyes with her hands she strained to see who was there. The words were reaching into her heart and pulling at a string she thought she had left far behind. "By all that is rationale, it can't be you. Who is playing such a hurtful game?"
"It's no game, and I have a message for you, 'little one, you are missed.' "
Gabrielle turned and walked to the opening between the rocks and stepped out behind the person. She felt her body tremble as she said, "Can it be? Sea is it really you?"
The woman turned as her eyes met Gabrielle's and said, "Yes, it's me."
Gabrielle ran toward her as Sea reached out and embraced the Bard. They clung together for several minutes then Ann said, "Is there another place we can go? We need to get out of here, the heat is killing my leather pants." Gabrielle laughed as she reached down and picked up the robe an put it on then said, Out this door and to the other side, there is a room. We can talk there." Ann wrapped her left arm around the woman's waist and held her close as they walked from the room.
Entering the room that Gabrielle had pointed out, Sea immediately took the robe off. "Clothes are enough." She had been watching as Gabrielle walked over to a bucket of water and took out a ladle of the cool liquid and took a long drink. Ann never took her eyes from the woman, she was amazed at how well Gabrielle was doing after her serious fall. Gabrielle offered her a drink and she shook her head. Walking over to a bed of furs she sat and said, "Come join me. It is good to see you again."
It didn't take Ann long to follow suit. The two women set staring into one another's eyes and finally Sea whispered, "Are you all right? Queen Melosa said you were here purifying yourself."
Gabrielle reached up and brushed her wet hair back as she said, "I am at this moment." She could tell the concern in the woman's eyes and continued, "You know about the fall. For sometime now, I have been going in and out. I think I am going insane."
Sea reached over and touched the Bard's right hand as she said, "None of that talk, you are fine. Sometimes falls like you had can cause problems."
Gabrielle stared at the woman's hand on her's then said, "I have done the most horrible thing to Xena."
"What are you talking about?"
Looking away the Bard said, "She was so kind to me, she tried to understand
my mood swings. But, just how long can a person put up with it? Then one day
this thing inside of me took over. I found myself on Argo far away from the
cave. I didn't know who I was and I wandered. The only thing was, I always
seemed to be heading here. When I arrived in the village I was raving and
Melosa took me here. She said that it was a sacred place and I could be healed. She stayed with me for awhile and when she left I was feeling more at peace with myself. But I don't know what has become of Xena. If she doesn't miss me, the way I have acted I wouldn't blame her. I know she misses Argo.
Sea answered, "Xena will understand, the two of you have been through a lot. I have to say your transformation seems to contain a few lose ends."
"What do you mean?"
Sea reached up and said, "I have seen many with head injuries and what you are talking about is unusual. You went through a lot to come back and I don't buy the idea it is all your fault. The Gods have made a habit of interfering in our lives. Some for the good and then some for their own means."
Gabrielle's eyes widened as she said, "Is it really possible? There is only
one God that would love to see Xena and I at odds with one another and that
would be Ares. Seems he never believes her when she tells him she wants
nothing to do with him." Sea leaned back on the furs, rested her weight on
her elbows. She had been gazing up at the Bard. Gabrielle smiled down at her
and said, "Are you ok?"
"Fine, better than I have been in a long time. Do you know how much I have missed you?"
Gabrielle answered, "I would hope a little as I have you."
Setting up Sea replied, "A little, I have been trying to cope with an empty feeling for so long but I can't anymore. If you were to line up all the people of the lands, that would be how much I have missed you and then some."
Gabrielle began to blush as she said, "Why Ann Bounty, you certainly know how to confuse a person."
"Never want to confuse you, I just want you to know I have missed you as well as my crew. Spoon island is not the same, Jez is getting fat and is lost without you. Mother misses your lovely smile and the servants all miss seeing you."
Gabrielle looked away then she turned and said, "I have missed all of you. I am so confused."
She was staring at the Bard as Gabrielle swallowed and slowly replied, "I, I don't know what to say."
Sea answered, "Say what is on your mind and in your heart, it will go no further than this room. If you want me to go, I will be gone."
"No, don't go. You have been so truthful and have told me how you feel. I already know how you feel and have always known that there was a deep feeling between us. I love Xena, but I have deep feelings for you."
Sea replied, "Do you love me? Mary has told me how you spoke up to Calico Jack when it came to me."
A smile played across the woman's face as she said, "I love you Sea, and I miss Spoon Island. There are times I look for the kindly face of Saxton. He has been so good to me. Most of all I miss you and The Bounty."
Sea leaned over and placed a soft kiss on Gabrielle's moist lips. When she pulled her head back she said, "One should only have a love like ours once in a lifetime. I will never forget you as long as I live."
Gabrielle replied, "What are you talking about?"
Sea explained, "I will be setting sail for Corinth and after getting supplies we will be leaving the area."
"Leaving, Sea, when will I see you?"
Sea stood and said, "Never, I cannot continue having the feelings I have. I must start anew in new waters."
Getting to her feet Gabrielle replied, "There is a warm bath in the next chamber, would you join me?"
Turning to stare at the Bard Sea replied, "Not a good idea. I remember you in the bath and at the time my desires were hard to control."
Reaching out and taking the woman's left hand in hers Gabrielle replied, "It's just a bath, after all the sweating I have done I need to clean up and I can't think of anyone I would rather have wash my back."
Holding back Sea replied, "I will walk you there, but I cannot get into a bath with you, seeing you within inches of my touch would be as if I were in Hades. I couldn't stand it."
Gabrielle tugged on her hand and said, "Come on, you may change your mind."
Sea followed the woman and when they entered the chamber she said, "When you are finished, I will be back in the room. I will wait for you."
"Se..." The woman was gone and Gabrielle walked over to the waiting bath.
Sea had laid back on the furs, she had a feeling of contentment as she closed her eyes. The excitement of coming to the island and the pure adrenalin rush of seeing the Bard had taxed her body and she was suddenly very tired.
When Gabrielle finished the bath and had tried out the scented oil she put
on a robe and started back to the chamber. The words Sea had said were
running through her mind. Would she really leave? Just the thought was
sending chills throughout the Bard's body. She was feeling sick to her
stomach and the thought of never seeing this marvelous woman again was putting its toll on her. Entering the room she spied Sea stretched out on the bed of furs. The woman looked so peaceful. She stood as her eyes surveyed the lengthy form of this woman. As her eyes fell on the low
cleavage of the blouse Gabrielle smiled. She walked over and set down by her. Setting for a long time just taking in this magnificent woman. Sea mumbled as she turned onto her left side and ran into the Bard. She slowly opened her eyes and said, "Gabrielle, you are back."
She smiled and said, "For sometime."
Setting up Sea replied, "Why didn't you wake me?"
Reaching out her left hand she placed it on Sea's face and said, "You looked so peaceful, and I was enjoying the view."
Sea reached up and grasped the Bard's hand and said, "Your touch is music to my body and with each touch I feel many instruments being played as my body dances to the tune. You are the only person that has ever made me feel the way I do and sometimes I feel it is a curse. "
Gabrielle seemed appalled as she said, "Curse, you think of me as a curse?"
"Only because I know I cannot have you. You, my love, are the best thing to ever come into this pirates life. I will love you forever. "Gabrielle leaned close and Sea was engulfed with the fragrance of her body as she said, "I will never forget you. Your scent sends me into heaven and I have no will to return."
Gabrielle bent forward and said, "I don't think I can live knowing I will never see you again. Please don't leave your home because of me. What will your mother do?"
"Mother will be fine and I will return from time to time to see she is all right."
Gabrielle replied, "If I ask you to stay, will you?"
Sea answered, "Can you live with it? If I stay, where will you be in my life?"
The Bard set back and said, "Since I don't seem to know each day who I will be it is hard to answer. I feel I will die if it is because of me you leave. Please reconsider."
The woman smiled as she said, "By the Gods, I believe you care more for me than you've led me to believe."
Throwing up her arms Gabrielle said, "I have given myself to you in many
ways except the one you desire. I have never led you to think I didn't care.
I am torn, I care for you but I have feelings for Xena. There can never be
anyone for me but her in that respect. I can't say the thought has never
entered my mind, but it cannot be. Even though, you are here in my heart and I cannot stand to see you leave. Please think about your decision, if I feel it is my fault I may never recover from this."
Sea was pacing the floor. Finally turning to the Bard she said, "Would you give me this moment?"
Gabrielle stood and approached the woman. She gazed up into her face and said, "If this moment is all we will ever have I will cease to exist."
Sea met the Bard's gaze and the two were locked as if in a trance. "I have heard that once you stare into a person's eyes as we have, we are destined to meet many times. I have no doubt we will be together again." Gabrielle whispered, "I only know that in my heart, I can feel you reaching into my soul."
Sea replied, "They say that there is always someone roaming the land that is
the other half of one's soul. I know that I have found mine. I will not
press you, it just gives me a feeling of flight to know you love me. If I am
never to know what it is like to love your body, then so be it. I know what
it would be. You are my everything and will always be. Will you let your mind meet mine?" Gabrielle seemed confused as she asked, "Meet your? What do you mean?"
Sea took the woman's right-hand in hers and said, Come on over here and set down with me."
The two women set staring at one another as Sea replied, "Now, move close, let everything in your mind go. Think of nothing but this moment. I will place my hands on either side of your face and you do the same to me. Gabrielle was trembling as she said, "Now what?"
Sea brought her head down and brushed the Bard's lips with her own as she said, "We let our foreheads meet. Concentrate and let our touch and thoughts do what they will."
The Bard seemed skeptical but she did it. As her forehead touched Ann's she started to pull back. Ann said, "Stay, you may enjoy this."
It was as if a cataclysmic orb had hit them. They could feel a warmth
traveling through there bodies and as it traveled up and through their arms,
their hands gripped each other's face with a force never to let go. There
was a golden glow surrounding them as their foreheads radiated. Gabrielle
closed her eyes as the feeling of ecstasy invaded her body. The two women set like that for sometime. The looks on their faces and the sounds they were making left little to the imagination. It was over as fast as it started. The light dimmed and the two were thrown apart. Gabrielle seemed
dazed as Sea reached over and said, "Are you ok?"
"What just happened, I have never felt like that before."
Sea smiled as she said, "It is a custom of old, and it only works if there is true love. I felt the need to know what it would be like."
"Are you telling me that..."
Sea answered, "We just were able to rid ourselves of the bounds of worry and travel to another time. If we were not to be, it wouldn't have happened. You may never admit this, but you are the other half of my soul."
Still dazed Gabrielle laid back on the furs and said, "I am so shaky, I feel as if I am made of mush."
She drew her legs up and was in a fetal position as she held onto her stomach. "Gods, will I ever stop, the feelings are overwhelming me."
Sea laid down by her and said, "Come on over here and lay on my shoulder. Let me put my arm around you. Our bodies will soon calm down. Until then let's just enjoy the closeness."
Sea smiled as Gabrielle laid her head on the woman's shoulder.
They went to sleep like that with both totally relaxed and feeling comfort in each other.
Smiling the woman reached out and ran her left hand around the fur. She finally opened her eyes and glanced around. Setting up she said, "Sea! Where are you?" There was no answer and she got to her feet and stared around the room. Where was she? Sea had been with her when she went to sleep.
Gabrielle dashed from the room and ran out to the cave entrance The women seemed surprised to see her and had no idea what she was talking about. Finally one said, "If you are talking about Captain Bounty, she is in the village." Gabrielle thanked them and ran up the path. The women ran catching up to her.
As Gabrielle entered the village she said, "Where is Captain Bounty?" They
pointed to a building and she hurried in that direction. Opening the door
she stepped into the room and said, "All right Ann, what kind of game is
this?" The form on the pallet moved slowly then set up as she stared at
Gabrielle. "Megan! what are you doing here and where is Ann?"
The woman got to her feet and said, "I don't know she was here. I must go." She ran past Gabrielle.
Gabrielle walked over to the table and pulled out a chair and sat as she
mumbled. "Was it all a dream? I am more confused now than before. Sea where
are you?" She waited the rest of the night for the woman to return. Had it
all been a vision, these feelings that were so vivid? If it happened, where
was Ann Bounty?" She never returned and Gabrielle finally went to sleep
laying her head on the table.
Ephiny entered the tavern, and walked up to the bar. There were several men milling about the room. Most talking among themselves but the minute they became aware of her presence all eyes turned in her direction. Leaning against the bar she glanced around, finally turning her gaze to the man that was standing behind the counter. "I'm looking for a few answers."
He glanced at her and said, "People come in here to drink, not for answers."
A tall man approached her and said, "What are you wanting to know?"
She turned to him and replied, "For one thing, where are the women in this village?"
"He sneered and said, "They are where they belong, home."
Stepping close to him she whispered, "I mean the women in the village. They can't all be home." Reaching out she grasped the front of his shirt and continued, "Just who decided women should all be home?"
He laughed, "That's the way it is, and what are you doing here? A woman like you must have a man looking for her."
Releasing his shirt Ephiny turned to stare at the men in the room and said, "Unlike some, I am an independent person."
The man said, "Well, seems like you just haven't met the right man. Come on over here and let me show you what you have been missing." As his large hands reached for the woman she blocked them with her own. He was startled at first and it gave her the opportunity to draw her knife, and holding it to his stomach she said, "I don't have time for your ego, now, let's start again, where are the women from the village?"
His eyes darted down to the knife as he said, "Gone, Satanic's men took them. Now a pretty lady like you doesn't really know how to use that, does she?"
Quickly cutting the man's buttons from the shirt she said, "With accuracy." As the buttons bounced across the floor the man stammered, "Don't, I will tell you all I know."
Ephiny smiled and said, "That's better, let's go over to that table." After they had sat she placed the knife in front of her on the table and said, "All right, tell me what you know?" The man had been staring around the room as he said, "He will kill me."
Leaning forward she replied, "I will kill you if you don't, so take your pick." Her hand touched the knife and he said, "I don't know who he is, just that he has some sort of evil presence surrounding him. He showed up here several days ago and it didn't take long for the women to start disappearing. We have been told to ignore things or suffer the consequences."
He swallowed and said, "The family across the street, their daughter Lila, got suspicious and began to ask a lot of questions and her entire family disappeared."
Ephiny asked, "Do you know what happened to them?"
He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Guess Satanic got them."
Leaning back in the chair Ephiny asked, "What does he want with the women, and why just them?"
He shook his head and said, "I don't know, please can I go?"
She smiled and said, "Go, crawl back in your hole, if you stay there long enough you might convince yourself it's the thing to do." The man stood then ran from the room. Ephiny gazed at the others as they went back to what they were doing. Seemed like none wanted to make eye contact with her. She centered her attention on the man behind the bar and said, "I'll have that drink now, a goblet of port and whatever you have that's edible."
He nodded his head and went into a back room. She had walked up to the bar and now stepped back over to the table and sat. Putting away the knife, she leaned forward and reached up beginning to rub the back of her neck. "I can do that for you if you like." The words were male and young. She turned to stare at the same boy that had approached her and Xena. "What's your name?"
He smiled and said, "Jonathan."
She answered, "Well, Johathan, why don't you come over here and set down. Are you hungry or thirsty?"
His eyes darted around the room then he said, "Ain't got any money."
Ephiny laid several dinars in front of the boy and said, "Now you do."
He pushed them away and said, "Can't take any charity."
Leaning back in her chair Ephiny studied the boy. Although a child, he was small for his years. He had a worn expression of weariness. Even though his face was covered with dirt, a tan complexion shown through it. When he looked at the Amazon his sparkling blue eyes were apparent. For a young man he was handsome. "Is there something wrong?" His voice cut through her thoughts and she replied, "No, and it is not charity I am giving. I expect you to work for those."
His eyes became filled with expectation and he asked, "Oh yes, what can I do?"
Sliding the money toward him once more she said, "First take the money and buy something to eat and drink." He smiled as his eyes caught sight of the man bringing over Ephiny's meal. As he set the goblet down Ephiny looked at the boy and said, "None of this." Thanking the man she said, "The boy would like something, bring him whatever he wants except alcohol." The man nodded as he turned and left.
Ephiny smiled as she watched the young man delve into his food. Taking a sip
of port she pushed her plate back. Relaxing into the chair she began to
study Jonathan. He ate the meal as if it was his last. When he had finished
it didn't take long to empty his mug. After taking the last drop his eyes
met the woman's and he said, "Sorry bout that, Guess I was..."
Cutting in she said, "No need to be sorry, I'm always happy to see someone your age with a growing appetite. Now, if you are finished, I have to go."
His eyes became apprehensive as he said, "Where are you going?
Standing up she replied, "I have a few places I need to visit. Can you find your way home?"
He stood and said, "You forget."
She looked at him skeptically and said, "What are you talking about"
Stepping up to her he squared his shoulders and said, "I work for the money, what do you want me to do?"
"It's all right , you don't need to work. It's my gift to you."
He scowled and said, "No, I will work for the money."
Realizing he was as stubborn as her, she said, "All right, but if your mother shows up tell her it was your idea."
He smiled and said, "She won't, I'm ready." Stepping onto the main street she asked, "Where can I buy some essentials?" She could tell from the look he was giving her, he didn't know what she was talking about so she continued, "Food, blankets..."
He smiled and said, "At the end of town, there is a store and you can get those things there."
Ephiny began to walk in that direction and he ran to catch up with her.
Several people turned to stare at the beautiful Amazon as she ambled down
the path followed by the young man. Stepping into the small store Ephiny
walked up to the counter. It didn't take long for a man to walk up to her
and ask, "Can I help you?" His eyes had now spied the young man and he said, "You! Get out! I have no need of anything being stolen today!"
Ephiny turned to stare at Jonathan then back at the man as she said, "His name is Jonathan, and he is with me. So, if you have a problem with him, looks like you have a problem with me."
The man's eyes surveyed the woman as he answered, "Didn't realize it, I apologize. If you tell me what it is you want, I'll get it." After she gave him the list of items she wanted, and he had gone to get them, she turned to Jonathan and said, "Seems he had a problem with you, want to tell me about it?" He shrugged his shoulders and said, "I stole some dried meat. Mom didn't have anything to eat."
Ephiny could see the man returning and as he laid the merchandise on the counter she asked, "How much is the slab of dried meat?"
He answered and she said, "What do I owe you for these?"
"That would be ten dinars."
Ephiny paid the man and said, "The extra is for the dried meat Jonathan seems to have taken. Now you are even and he won't do it again."
The man seemed to be at a loss for words as he mumbled, "Thank you." Ephiny took the hemp bag and threw it over her shoulder, turned and left the building. Running up to her Jonathan said, "Why did you do that? Now I owe you more."
"Felt it was the right thing to do. Now, come on. I need to go set up camp."
The sounds of running water caused her to pause as she said, "Down there, by that clearing. I will set up camp among those trees."
"Why don't you just get a room in the village?"
Setting down the sack she said, "The atmosphere there is not the best at the moment. I would feel better out here."
He looked around then said, "Aren't you afraid of thieves or..." Ephiny had drawn her knife and sent it flying toward a tree. "Must be slipping, I thought I had that squirrel."
Jonathan had watched with wide eyes as he said, "Pity the thief that might wander into your camp."
Ephiny laughed and walked over to the tree and pulled the knife from it. As the blade came out so did a few pieces of fur. Johathan smiled and said, "Bet that squirrel will have quite a story to tell its family."
Walking back to the pack she had set on the ground she said, "Now the squirrel has a family and talks too?"
He laughed and said, "What is it you want me to do?"
Pointing to a tree stump she said, "Set, and tell me what has happened to the people in this village."
He walked over to it and sat. Staring up at the woman he said, "Nothing more to tell, most of the women have disappeared."
Setting down she gazed at him then said, "Did you see any of this happen?" He shook his head as she said, "What about this Satanic, have you seen him?" Shaking his head again she pursed her lips and said, "Well, what do you know?"
He smiled and said, "I saw the men when they came into town. They were all dressed in black. Wearing armor and looking like they had made their way here from Tartarus. There were probably ten and the minute they rode into town the people ran. The one in front was carrying a large black raven on his right arm. It was perched and looked like it was ready for action and it was. One of the men, Silan stepped out to confront them and in an instant the bird attacked him. As Silan tried to fend off the raven their leader ran him through with a sword.
Ephiny leaned against a tree and said, "No one else came to his aid?" He shook his head and she said, "If it was the same Raven Xena tried to hit with her chakum, it holds some sort of magic. Tell me what happened next."
"These men, they began to knock down villagers and destroy some buildings."
"Hard to believe only one man stood up to them."
Leaning forward he said, "They were all afraid, except for Lila, she went after their leader with a pitchfork."
Ephiny laughed as she said, "I would have loved to of seen that. If she has just a little of Gabrielle's spirit, the man knew what had attacked him."
Seeing the woman was wanting to hear more he said, "Oh she did, First thing Lila did was strike the horse's front legs out from under it with the wooden handle. When the man fell to the ground, she hit him several times with the handle. By this time several more of the women had stepped out and began to beat up on the men. I guess they weren't used to women doing that because when the man finally got to his feet he jumped on his horse and called the men to follow. They all ran from town. Never seen anything like that before."
Ephiny asked, "Anything else happen?"
He nodded his head and said, "Then slowly at night the women started to vanish. Lila began to look around and ask questions. Then one sunset about a week ago she and the entire family disappeared. Most people in the village have taken to hiding except for some of the men. What women are left are all keeping out of sight. You and your friend happened to see my mother when she came after me. She is afraid something will happen to me and to her."
"Sounds like this Satanic is up to no good. I guess the sooner I find out just what it is the better."
Standing, Jonathan said, "I know you can throw a knife but to stand up to these men is asking for your own death."
The woman was on her feet now and said, "Looks like Satanic and I will soon find out. Come on, let's go take a look at Lila's home." She had started back up the path as he looked around then turned and followed her.
"It's getting late, better you should hide."
Ephiny laughed and said, "That will be the day, come on while we still have some light left."
The two didn't take long to find Lila's home. Ephiny was standing taking in the building and he said, "Might not be a good idea to go in there. Someone might think we were taking things."
Turning her attention to the boy she said, " You go on home, I'll just have a look around."
"Are you sure you won't need my help?"
Ephiny had to hold back the grin that was trying to spread across her face as she said, "No, I think I probably can handle this one myself."
Looking very serious he said, "All right, I'll go but I will see you bright
and early." Waving him off she walked up to the door. Pushing on the latch
it gave and she slowly opened it. The room was dark as she closed the door
behind her. It didn't take long to find a candle and after lighting it she
held it up and began to look around the room.
Moving slowly she checked everything. It was when she came to the cooking area she stopped. Whatever happened had been hurried because the plates were setting on the table and the food that was on them looked like it hadn't been touched. Though the fire was long gone, the food still hung over the ashes. Taking a step her foot hit something. Holding the candle down she could see it was a plate and near it was a goblet laying on its side. It was evident these items had been dropped in consternation. Reaching down she picked the items up and set them on the table.
Turning she walked into another room. It was a sleeping area, there was a
bed and little else. Finding nothing of importance she left and entered the
last room. The minute she stepped into it she knew it must have been Lila's.
The sweet fragrance still lingered in the air. Holding the candle up she
walked around the room. She could see the bed hadn't been slept in and items in the room were all placed in an orderly fashion.
Sitting down on the bed Ephiny stared at the small table that set beside it. The parchment laying on it caught her eye. The likeness was amazing, it was an image of Gabrielle and Xena. Tilting her head to the right she whispered, "Looks like you two could just step out. If Lila did this, she is good at capturing the essence of images." Realizing the candle was burning down she stood and headed back to the front of the building. Blowing the candle out she left the room.
Once on the street Ephiny stared around but there wasn't anyone about as she
turned heading for the river and her camp. She had learned a long time ago
to accustom her eyes to the dark and it didn't take her long to find the
camp. As she neared it she was met with the crackling of a nice fire.
Approaching the area she looked around to see if there was anyone near. "Hello, is anyone here?" There wasn't any answer and she walked up to the tree and set down by her recent purchases.
Taking out the blanket she wrapped it around her shoulders and leaned back
against the tree. The forest was dark but the light from the fire was
sending out a welcome glow and it was also sending warmth throughout her
body. Finding the bottle of port she had purchased, Ephiny took a long
It had been a long day and her muscles were sore and she was weary. Though the Amazon was tired, her last thoughts were of Xena, she hoped the woman was all right and that she would make her journey to the Amazon Village without any problems. Finally sitting the bottle down she closed her eyes and whispered, "Stay well, Xena."
Slowing opening her eyes she stretched and said, "Wonder who started the
fire, probably Jonathan. He seemed to be a fine young man. Sitting up she
looked around but couldn't see anyone. Ephiny reached in the hemp bag and
retrieved a bar of soap and a towel. Tossing the towel over her left
shoulder she started toward the river. Nearing she could hear the water as
it rushed over its obstacles and hoped it wasn't to cold.
"I almost gotcha that time!" Ephiny heard the words and turned heading in that direction. It didn't take her long to spy Jonathan standing on a rock. The boy had a makeshift spear in his hand and seemed to be beating the water with it. She watched him several minutes and finally walked out and said, "What in Gods are you doing, so early in the day?"
He looked up and said, "Trying to catch your morning meal."
"That's the way they do it here huh? I can see you are beating up the water but that's all."
He replied, "There are fish down there, just haven't been able to hit one."
Ephiny walked over to him and said, "Give me that." She reached out and took the spear from his hands and said, "Now, go set down and I'll get us something to eat."
"Yeah, guess you can try." He walked over to a rock and sat. Watching the
woman leaning over he smiled. She looked like she knew what she was doing
but he doubted it. Within seconds the Amazon struck down and when she
brought the spear up, a large fish was dangling from it. Jonathan's eyes
widened as he ran over to her and said, "How did you do that?" Ephiny handed
it to the boy and said, "You were casting a shadow number one but they are deeper than they look, you just needed to send the knife in deeper."
He smiled and said, "Least I can do is clean it while you catch us another. You are unlike any woman I have ever seen." Ephiny smiled and said, "I'll be there in a few minutes, hope you are hungry."
Jonathan looked up when he heard footsteps approaching. He smiled when he saw the three large fish Ephiny was carrying. As she approached him she said, "Here, I thought this would be enough."
Taking them he said, "Show me sometime how you do that, I would love to know your secret."
Setting by the tree she said, "No secret, it just takes patience. I will be happy to show you how to do it. You already had the right idea." She noticed he had the first fish on a spit and it was cooking over the fire. "Smells delicious, you haven't eaten have you?"
Standing up he said, "No, I'll go clean these and be right back."
Ephiny said, "I'm going to go take a dip, you take your time."
The boy turned to stare at her and said, "Do you know how cold the water is this time of day?"
Standing she replied, "I hope not to but that's all right, I am used to it."
She traveled quite a ways up the river until she found a deep spot. Checking to see if anyone was in the area she finally turned toward the water. Shedding her clothes she waded in. It was cold and the minute her skin met the water, her body was covered in goose bumps. She didn't take to long and was happy to get out and dry off. Picking up the soap she started back to the camp.
She knew she was getting near when she could see the smoke from the fire. And the aroma of the cooked fish was sending signals to her stomach. She was hungry and picked up her step. Walking into the clearing she could see the back of Jonathan. He was bending over doing something by the fire. "Smells wonderful and I am hungry."
He turned to see her approaching and said, "Set down, I'll get your fish. I made some tea from a few herbs I found."
Ephiny smiled and sat down. He walked over to her and said, "I also found some large leafs and put the meat on it. "Taking the leaf in her left hand she said, "Very smart, thank you."
He smiled and said, "Since you were going to go clean up, I decided I had better go do it also."
Ephiny gazed at him and said, "You didn't need to go do that. It is just
something I do all the time. You look very nice." He smiled and replied, "So
do you. Let me get you some of this tea." After they had eaten, Ephiny lay back against the tree and said, "I am full, the tea was good and I think
that you are spoiling me."
"Bet you have someone in your life that already spoils you, whoever it is, is sure a lucky person."
Setting up she replied, "I do, and I am the lucky one to have that person in my life. Now, where are you going to take me today?"
"I thought you might like to take a look at the falls."
Looking at him quizzically she said, "Falls? And why would I want to see them?
"One thing they are pretty but mainly because Lord Satanic's men have been seen in the area." Standing she said, "Got me there, let's go."
Chapter Eight- An Accusation
"Gabrielle, Gabrielle." The soft voice was now making its way into her thoughts. She slowly opened her eyes and said, "What?"
"They told me you had left the cave and I became worried. I came here as a last resort. Now tell me my child, what are you doing in Ann Bounty's room?"
Fully awake now, she stood up and stared into Queen Melosa's eyes. "I lost track of time, I was waiting for her to return."
"Well, you must come with me. You need to change clothes. It would not be good for the others to know you have been here all night and in your shift."
The Bard replied, "It's not what it might look like, I was just waiting for her. I will not argue with you, I will follow you to your chambers." As the two women left the building, several of the Amazon's were staring at them. Upon seeing Gabrielle in her shift and barefoot, several eyebrows also raised. Mumbling to herself the Bard said, "Something might as well of happened if people are going to think it." The Queen turned and gazed at her and said, "I heard that, I think we need to have a talk." Shrugging her shoulders she followed the woman into the Royal Chambers.
It didn't take her long to change into a leather top and short wrap skirt. When she had finished she walked toward the Queens chambers. Approaching the cave entrance she smiled at the guard and continued on into the room. Melosa saw her and said, "Enter, come over here and set down."
Approaching the woman Gabrielle replied, "It has been a long time since anyone gave me a lecture."
Melosa smiled as she sat and waited for Gabrielle. As the Bard stared at the Queen she said, "All right, let's get it over with. I do hope I get a chance to speak for myself."
"My dear, you are not on trial. I just have a few questions and some things we need to discuss."
Leaning back in the chair Gabrielle said, "What is it you want to know?"
"I would like to know how you are feeling. Who are you at this moment?"
She never let her eyes blink as she said, "I'm Gabrielle."
"Do you know why you are here?"
Gabrielle nodded and said, "I've been having trouble with my memory. But at this moment I know who I am."
"Then you tell me what is Ann Bounty to you?"
Gabrielle stared at the queen but didn't speak and finally Melosa said, "Surely she means something to you, you went to sleep in her room last night."
Beginning to get uneasy, Gabrielle said, "We are friends."
"I am friends with the Centaurs but you won't catch me sleeping in one of their rooms."
"Your friendship is different. I really don't see where this is going to get us. I slept there, nothing terrible happened actually, I feel great. This is the first day in a long time, I actually have my memory back."
Melosa leaned forward and said, "Then, you must remember Xena. What about her? You told me you did some hateful things to her. Do you think she will be happy to learn where you spent last night?"
"Xena won't care, after all I was alone so what could be the problem?"
Melosa stood up and began to pace the room as she said, "Will Xena look at it that way? I am happy you are feeling better, I hope it continues. The Gods cannot control a person when they are here. I don't know what would happen if you left."
"I can't stay here indefinitely, I do have to get back to the cave."
Staring down at Gabrielle, Melosa said, "You have to, or you want to?"
Standing Gabrielle threw up her hands and said, "Why can't people just let things be. Why make such a big issue out of something that isn't."
The Queen walked over and poured something into a goblet then she turned and handed it to Gabrielle and said, "Drink this, it will do you good, you may not realize it, but your body needs to replenish its supply of liquid. You sweat a lot in the cave."
Taking the goblet Gabrielle stared at its contents and said, "What is it?"
"Yours is not to question it is to do. You are in line to be Queen of the Amazons. You must remember this, and act the part of your destiny."
Gabrielle took a drink and said, "Do you know where Ann is?"
Melosa answered, "She should be on her way here, I sent the guard to escort her back."
Setting the Goblet down on a table Gabrielle walked up to the woman and said, "The guard, why? Ann would never do anything to harm the Amazons."
I was waiting to tell you but I feel maybe now is the right time." She motioned for Gabrielle to set back down and she did. Looking up at the woman she said, "I don't understand, Ann has been good to the Amazon, what has happened?"
Melosa set and said, "There has been a charge."
"Laughing Gabrielle said, "Sure and Mount Olympus has fallen into the waters."
Noticing the Queen was not laughing she said, "You are serious, what charge and who made it?"
"Megan, she has charged Ann Bounty with rape."
Jumping to her feet Gabrielle said, "We will just see about that, where is that little shrew?"
"She is in a safe place for now. This will all be brought before the tribunal."
Gabrielle was so angry she couldn't get the words out as she fumed and finally said, "At least tell me what she has said."
Melosa answered, "This is not to leave this room. Megan said that Ann Bounty invited her to her room last evening and got her drunk on port. She said she was unable to fight the woman off."
Gabrielle threw back her head and laughed. Melosa had now approached her and said, "Why are you laughing so hysterical?"
Looking at the woman through tear stained eyes Gabrielle said, "Because it's
so preposterous, number one, Sea could have her pick of anyone and she never
would have to get them drunk. I have seen them falling in line for her
attention. Now, when I came into the room last night Megan was laying on the
pallet but Sea wasn't there. Megan went running from the room when she saw
Melosa replied, "If she was laying on the pallet then there could have been plenty of time."
"Looking very serious Gabrielle said, "Wrong, I know that can't be true."
Fixing her eyes on Gabrielle the woman said, "Oh, and just how do you know that?"
Swallowing hard, she bit her lower lip and replied, "Because Ann was with me."
"You would say anything for her wouldn't you?"
Shaking her head Gabrielle replied, "I would tell the truth, and I know who was with me."
"Then she broke our law, she was told not to go there."
Seeming perturbed the Bard said, "I don't know just what it is you want, I tell you the truth and now she is still in trouble."
Melosa replied, "One of you isn't telling the truth and we will get the right answers."
"Let me alone with Megan for a few minutes and she will tell you the truth."
Melsoa smiled and said, "I have seen you fight, it would not be a match. I would tell you what ever you wanted to know to keep you from hitting me if I were her."
"Then how will you know which of us is telling the truth?"
Melosa walked over to a table and retrieved a piece of parchment and unrolled it. She said, "This contains the codes we live by and any Amazon that defiles these, will be banished from our lands. I will ask each of you to tell me the truth and you will place your hand on this. If one of you is lying, I will know."
"That's just wonderful, now it all falls on that. You know that Ann is good, she has always been there for me. I know she has also helped the people in the village. Why embarrass her like this? You could lose a valuable ally."
"I know, but I have to follow procedures. If what Megan is saying is false then she will be punished accordingly."
Gabrielle looked wily and said, "Has it ever given a false sense?"
Shaking her head the Queen walked over to the table and set the parchment down. Turning to the woman she said, "They will be back shortly, I suggest you get some rest."
Gabrielle replied, "Rest, that is all I have been doing, I want you to know, I will not let any harm come to Ann."
Smiling the Queen replied, "You are but one person, do not try to take it upon yourself to attempt to defeat the entire village. Although you are an Amazon Princess, I am the Queen and they will follow my orders. You may go now."
Stepping from the cave, Gabrielle stared around the village. She noticed a
hut toward the end of the pathway. There were several guards standing in
front and she assumed that was where Megan had been placed for safe keeping.
Several of the women walked past her and bowed. Shaking her head she knew
they hadn't all heard about her spending the night in Ann Bounty's room. She
could think of a lot of things that might be considered bad but not this. Somehow she felt that Ares still had his grip on her life and she hated it all the more.
Nearing the hut she veered to the right and followed a small path which led to the river. Once she was out of their sight she back tracked and came up behind the building. It didn't take her long to make her way into the room. As her feet landed on the floor she stared into the wide eyes of Megan. Before the woman could scream she placed her hand over the woman's mouth and held a small dagger to her throat. "Hello Megan, you and I need to have a talk."
Megan's eyes darted to the door way and Gabrielle whispered, "Don't even think about it. Now set down."
After they were setting, Gabrielle said, "I am going to take my hand from your mouth, and if you call out, I will slit your throat."
Looking at Gabrielle in amazement she nodded her head as the Bard removed her hand. "Why did you lie to Queen Melosa about Ann Bounty?"
"I didn't lie, she did force herself on me."
Shaking her head Gabrielle replied, "I know better, Ann would never force herself on anyone and why you?"
"I don't know, she was nice to me and before I knew it she got me drunk. I was in awe of this woman."
Gabrielle made her dagger's presence known to the woman as she touched the back of the blade to her throat. "I am not like some of the others, I will not be taken in my your drivel."
Megan's eyes grew wide and she had a quizzical look on her face as she said, "What are you talking about? I am not taking anyone in."
"Oh I think you are, what is it? If I had to guess I would say you have a deep attraction to Ann Bounty. Maybe she hasn't reciprocated in the manner you want so you have made up these phony charges. Don't even try to deny them I know they are phony."
"How, how do you know? When you came into her room last night I was laying down and she was gone. It had already happened."
Pursing her lips Gabrielle shook her head and said, "No, there is one thing you were not counting on, you see, Ann was with me last night not you."
Slowly shaking her head the woman said, "That is impossible, you were in the cave of purification."
Smiling Gabrielle said, "Then you really don't know Ann very well, nothing will keep her out if she really wants in, get my drift?" The woman defiantly glared into Gabrielle's eyes and said, "Then it is your word against mine. I will not be banished and you shouldn't care, after all you don't live here."
Glaring at the woman Gabrielle said, "These are friends to me and I will not see them harmed. Do you realize that by what you have done, you may have destroyed this village?"
Shaking her head she said, "I don't see how."
"In case you don't remember, Ann Bounty is Captain of a large Pirate ship. She has a crew that will not be happy if anything were to happen to her. They will retaliate. You think about what I have said, and be smart, tell Melosa the truth." Before the woman could reply, Gabrielle was gone.
The woman had been setting for sometime. She stared out at the vastness of the ocean. Though it was dark, she could hear the sounds the water made as it found its way inland. There was a coolness in the air and she shivered. Leaning against the large boulder, Ann Bounty began to mull through her mind what had recently happened.
When she set foot on the land she had been anxiously hoping to hear some word of Gabrielle. But to find her was more than she would have ever hoped. She found herself muttering, "Well, now you've gone and gotten yourself in a swell fix." Realizing what an idiot she had been. Gabrielle had gone to sleep on her shoulder and the first chance she got she left. What must Gabrielle think of her? Getting to her feet she said, "No, I will not take the cowards way out. I may not want to hear the words but I should never have fled in the night. I owe Gabrielle that much." Looking toward the sky she loudly cried, "If you want me out of your life, then by the Gods woman, you will have to tell me." She turned and started back toward the Amazon Village. Ann hadn't taken too many steps when she suddenly found herself surrounded by a group of Amazons. She stared at their leader and said, "What is this? Has something happened to Gabrielle?"
The woman in front of her said, "The Queen has sent us to bring you back. She has need to see you."
Ann answered, "I was heading back anyway, let's go."
She noticed the women were on all sides of her but she didn't pay it too much attention. She hoped the Bard was all right, but wondered what the Queen wanted to see her for. The Sun was starting to rise when they entered the village. Many of the women came out of their huts to watch the ensemble pass by. Stopping in front of the Queens cave the leader turned to Sea and said, "Queen Melosa will be with you in a moment."
Gabrielle had heard the sounds of the women entering the village and was now on her way to the cave. Entering the main path she could see the Amazon's standing around a tall figure. She knew it was Ann, and she hurried toward them. "Sea, where did you go?"
Hearing Gabrielle's voice she turned to see the woman approaching and said, "Gabrielle, we need to talk." She started to step toward her and it was at this time she found herself confronted with the drawn weapons of the Amazons. One reached out and removed her sword as Ann asked, "What is this?"
Gabrielle stepped as close as she could and said, "Seems there has been a problem."
Sea looked around and said, "I didn't realize my going into the cave to see you would cause this to happen. I will explain it to the Queen."
At this time Queen Melosa stepped out of the cave. She looked at Ann and then at Gabrielle and said, "It is good you found her."
Ann turned her gaze on the woman and said, " Good that they found me? I demand to know why I am being treated like I have done something wrong. If it is because of the cave I can explain."
Melosa answered, "You have been charged with an act against one of us, and for now, you are in our custody."
Sea stared at Gabrielle and said, "Surely this must be a joke, an act against one of you, never. I demand to know who charged me and with what?"
Melosa replied, That will be done by midday. Now, take her to her quarters."
Gabrielle stood and watched them as they left then she turned to the Queen and said, "This is ridiculous, you are going to bring havoc down on the village."
Melosa stepped close to her and said, "You can go see her, I feel things will be worked out." She turned and went back into the cave. Pondering the woman's words she turned and headed in the direction of Ann's quarters.
The guard stepped to the side as Gabrielle entered the room. Sea had been pacing back and forth and when she saw the Bard she stopped. Staring at her she said, "What is going on? You felt the need to charge me, and why?"
Shaking her head Gabrielle replied, "I never charged you with anything, it is not me." Sea's eyes were questioning as Gabrielle stepped up to her she said, "It was Megan."
"What! I hardly know her what could she charge me with?"
Stepping back Gabrielle said, "Rape, she said you forced yourself on her."
Ann's green eyes shot fire as she said, "Forced myself on her, if I wasn't in here under guard, I might find this amusing. Believe me, Gabrielle, I never did that. There is only one I desire and I would never force myself."
Pointing to the two chairs setting by the table Gabrielle said, "Let's go set. I know you didn't do it, I have already talked to Megan. I think she just wanted you so badly she thought this up. It also has given her popularity. I told her she had better tell Melosa the truth."
"Setting down Sea replied, "I thought she was nice. I am at a loss for words."
Gabrielle pulled a chair from behind the table and sat as she said, "I told
Queen Melosa about us in the cave. She is upset at that also. It looks like
Megan and I will be put to the test to see which one of us is lying."
Getting to her feet Sea began to pace the room once more and said, "This is
ridiculous. Before this goes any farther I have to tell you something."
Tilting her head to the left Gabrielle said, "What?"
"I have to tell you I am sorry for leaving you like that. What we shared was wonderful and I felt I couldn't stand hearing you tell me to go."
Getting to her feet Gabrielle stepped up to her and said, "I could never do that."
Sea reached out and caressed Gabrielle's face with her right hand. Gabrielle reached up and grasped her hand bringing it down to her lips she pressed a soft kiss on it as she said, "If you don't know it by now, I care about you."
Sea smiled and said, "And I you that is why I couldn't bare to hear you tell me to leave."
Seeming frustrated Gabrielle said, "You are so hard headed."
Walking away Sea answered, "Not at all, but do you know what you are doing to me?"
Following the woman she said, "I'm trying to show you that I care. Sea, I have already told Queen Melosa I will not see any harm come to you."
Laughing the woman said, "You and what army?"
"I meant it, if anything were to happen to you, I would die."
Turning to face her Sea whispered, "Then come away with me now."
Shaking her head Gabrielle replied, "I can't. You know I have a life here, I can't go with you in body but in spirit I will always be there."
Ann scoffed and said, "It's very difficult hugging a spirit and it leaves a lot to be desired at night."
With her hands on her hips Gabrielle said, "Then what would you have me do? If the tables were turned and it was Xena trying to get me to leave you, how would you react?"
"I would do everything in my power to keep you with me. But I also know you have a mind of your own and if you didn't want to stay with me I would let you go."
Walking back to her chair the Bard sat and said, "Look, I've never been good at making hasty decisions. I feel the need to see Xena and talk to her."
Throwing up her arms Sea replied, "Then it is settled, I will leave as soon as I can."
"In case you have forgotten, you aren't going anywhere, not until this mess Megan started gets cleared up." Sea walked over and sat on the pallet. She stared up at the Bard and said, "I'm sorry to put you in such a hard place."
Smiling at the woman Gabrielle said, "The place is not hard, it's just very delicate at the moment. Why don't you get some rest, I need to go speak to Melosa."
Sea nodded and Gabrielle left the room.
Queen Melosa glanced up from a scroll she had been reading when Gabrielle entered the chamber. "You saw Ann?"
Gabrielle approached the woman and said, "Yes, I just left her. She is innocent of the charges."
Melosa set back and said, "This will all come out soon. tell me Gabrielle, if she is cleared of Megan's charges what will you do about your's?"
"I have no charges."
Melosa replied, "No, but they do involve you. The cave of purification is not be be taken so lightly."
Gabrielle replied,"It was as much my fault as hers, I asked her to stay."
Melosa stood up and said, "Go get something to eat. The hearing will begin soon. You will need to be there."
Turning to walk away Gabrielle replied, "I wouldn't miss this, it is time Megan admitted the truth."
Leaving the cave Gabrielle walked down to the river. She set for a long time watching the water as it bubbled on its way. The sound of running water always seemed to calm the woman. The sound of a snapping twig behind her caused her set up straight. Turning to see what had made the noise she could see Megan's friend Lilith standing there. "Lilith, what are you doing down here?"
The woman walked closer and said, "Came to give you a message." As the last word left the woman's mouth she leaped into the air sending her right foot cascading across Gabrielle's face. The blow knocked the Bard off the rock she had been setting on and as she hit the ground she bounced to her feet. Staring at the woman Gabrielle said, "Why did you do that?"
Lilith was walking in a circle now and she said, "Megan told me what you did."
Gabrielle replied,"I merely went to talk to her."
Lilith struck out with her right fist as Gabrielle ducked the woman said, "With a knife at her throat."
Holding up her right hand the Bard said, "Look, this will get us no where. If you have a problem with me, take it up at the hearing."
Lilith replied, "You would like that, your Queen there to defend you as well as Ann Bounty."
Gabrielle was now taking small steps backwards as she said, "I don't know
what Megan told you about Ann but it's not the truth." In an instant Lilith
feigned to the right and as Gabrielle dodged, the woman hit her full force
with a blow from her left fist. Reeling backwards she fell against a tree.
Shaking her head she said, "I take it that is a no."
Lilith laughed as she said, "You're not an Amazon Queen yet and the title of Amazon Princess may cause some to bow to you but never me. As far as I am concerned, you and Ann Bounty both deserve to be punished."
As Gabrielle felt her swollen jaw she said, "I never did like to see anyone bowing to me. But punishment, you really need to go and talk to Megan again."
Lilith smiled as she said, "I am leaving, but remember if I got you that time I can do it again. Heed my warning, stay out of this." The woman turned and left.
She could feel the bark from the tree on her back as she slowly slid down. Gabrielle was happy when she sat on the ground. Lilith never looked like she could pack such a wallop. Her jaw was stinging and from the way it felt she was sure it was already swelling. She set there for a few minutes trying to get her bearings, then she got to her feet and started back up the path to Queen Melosa's.
Continued in Chapter Nine
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