Myth part 6
by Anita Louise
When Ephiny opened her eyes she tried to move, it didn't take long before she realized her hands and feet were tied. She moved her head and the pain that shot through it made her nauseous.
"Glad to see the blow didn't kill you, it would have left nothing for me."
She stared into the face of the high priest. Struggling to get her wrists free she said, "Let me go! Why are you doing this?"
A very confident grin crossed his lips as he said, "Where is your friend, The Warrior Princess?"
Seeming very confused, Ephiny answered, "Princess? Don't know what you are talking about."
He had been handed a knife. She could see that the handle was inlaid with precious stones and he was enjoying swirling it. Ephiny muttered, "Didn't your mother ever tell you that playing with knives was dangerous?"
He glanced at her and said, "This one will be, dangerous to you that is."
The man raised his hands toward the crowd and said, "I know, you are out there somewhere Xena, are you willing to trade yourself to spare the life of your friend?"
There was no answer as he snapped his fingers and several men brought out Salmanthron. The man was struggling but they had no trouble bringing him to the altar area.
Ephiny looked up into the face of the man she had grown to dislike on the trip. He glanced at her then looked away. The High Priest shouted, "Your friend does not care very much for either of you. She will not trade her life so you may live!"
Ephiny pleaded, "Why are you doing this?"
He pointed to all the people and said, "It is an apeasement to the Gods, we
give them a sacrifice so that they will withhold their harmful powers. The
Gods love beautiful things and you are beautiful. But, if we could dedicate
the death and sacrifice of The Warrior Princess to them, they will smile
down upon our people. She has done many noble deeds and they will bless us with their kindness."
Ephiny kicked at the ropes that held her ankles to the altar as she said, "Yeah, well I think you are all insane. Xena would never..."
The priest was holding the knife in the air and it was at that time that the
whirring sound was heard as a chakrum flew through the air knocking it from
his hands. In an instant the battle cry echoed through out the area. The man
glanced toward the sound as he watched the tall woman push her way through
the throngs of people. She had discarded the robe and was a formidable sight
in her leathers. She had drawn her sword and was making it talk to the air as she twirled it in her right hand.
He scowled at the woman then said, "Glad you could join us, Xena."
Stepping up to the altar she stared down at Ephiny as she lashed out her sword and severed the ropes that held the woman's wrists. Ephiny sat up and began to untie the rope from around her ankles. It didn't take her long to get down from the altar. She looked at Xena and said, "What took you so long?"
Xena gave Ephiny the look as she said, "At least I made it before that happened."
Ephiny stared at the remains of the goat and said, "Just ignore my last comment. I'm so glad to see you."
Xena smiled as she said, "Get Salmanthron and let's get out of here."
Ephiny walked over to the man and said, "Come on, you heard Xena let's go."
Within seconds he had pulled a knife as he twisted her right arm behind her, he placed the blade at her throat and said, "Drop the sword Xena or watch your friend bleed to death."
Xena's eyes grew wide, her face showed great shock and despair as she said, "Salmanthron, why?"
The man smiled and said, "It was all a plan from the beginning, we needed you here for the ritual. There were a few kinks but it has worked beautifully."
Xena dropped her sword as she said, "Let Ephiny go, I just happened to be with her. And the treasure, your story of the mines?"
He laughed and said, "There is a treasure, it's just not there and pity, the mines are true and that is where your little friend will end up after your death."
Xena felt hands grasp her arms and she let them lead her toward the altar. The horror that showed on Ephiny's face was screaming out at her. Xena stopped as they approached the altar. She struggled against the men's grip as she said, "Ephiny, I'm sorry."
Ephiny gazed at her and said, "Xena, don't let them do this."
With a brave smile on her face the woman said, "It will be all right, you must live and go to the mines."
Ephiny was very confused as she said, "A big choice, either die here or go to some mine and become slave labor. No thanks, I would rather die by your side!"
The Amazon sent her right elbow into the man's lung and as he gasped for air, she kicked him in the shin. He released his hold on her and she spun around as her right fist cracked across his face. Stumbling backwards, he never even saw the high spin as the woman's left boot struck his temple. He crumbled to the ground. Xena was surprised at the woman but it gave her the opportunity to free herself. It wasn't long before they were running through the crowds of people. Slowing down as they neared the crop of trees, Ephiny leaned over and gasped for air. Xena walked up to her and placed her right hand on the woman's back as she said, "Thanks."
Standing, Ephiny turned to gaze at her friend and said, "Xena, if you ever hear me say I want to attend a ritual again, wake me up!"
Xena laughed as she said, "Oh, I will. Let's get back to the campsite."
Ephiny left Xena and went to get the animals. it didn't take her long to make it back leading the two horses and pack animal. Xena looked up when she saw them walk into the area. Ephiny handed Argo's reins to her and said, "I'll ride his horse. And, you will be surprised at what I found."
Xena looked pensive as she asked, "I'm almost afraid to ask but what did you find?"
Ephiny walked over to a pack on the animal and said, "Look!" When she brought her hand out it contained a cup and a rolled parchment.
Xena smiled as she walked up to her and said, "Dare I hope it is the map?"
"Yes, he must have put them there thinking he would come back and get them along with Argo after..."
Xena cut in and said, "I am thankful he did. At least we still have the directions to the mines."
Ephiny frowned as she said, "What is it about these mines that has you so centered? After what happened today, we could find ourselves working them."
Wrinkling her nose at the woman, Xena said, "It is honest work, just not what a person would choose."
"Yeah, and can't quit. I mean back there, you were ready to let them send me there as slave labor." Shrugging her shoulders, Ephiny said, "I hope never to think about that again, but you should know by now, I would not let you die in my place. I don't look forward to that day but if I had to choose, I would hope it would be beside you."
Tossing the reins over Argo's neck, Xena said, "Well, if it's all the same to you, let's hope that is not going to be for a long time. Now mount up, we have a long ways to go."
Ephiny smiled as she said, "You don't have to mention it twice, the further we get away from here the better."
Xena grabbed the pack animal's lead rope as Argo trotted off. It wasn't long before the horse that Ephiny was riding was trotting beside Argo.
Gabrielle had been faithful in applying the ointment and as she gazed at her reflection in the water she smiled. Mary had been right, it not only eased the pain but took the swelling down and she couldn't even tell there had been a mark there. They had stopped at one of the islands while the crew went ashore to gather supplies. She rode in with them but decided to stay by the boat and wait for their return. She didn't much want to find herself in a crowd of people again. She had been on her knees staring at her reflection in the calm water when she heard Saxton's voice. "Looks like it is all gone. Whatever Mary sent with you, seemed to have healing powers."
She beamed up at the man as she said, "Yes, it does. Were you able to get all the supplies you wanted?"
He sat down on the sand beside her and said, "Most of it. We can get the rest when we get to the village. Are you sure this is what you want?"
Turning her full attention to the man she bit her lower lip and said, "I don't think I will ever be sure of anything again. But I feel it is what I need to do. I have to know if there is anything left to save of what once was a good relationship."
He was staring at the crew as they began to make their way toward them. He thought for a long time then said, "She wasn't there before, what makes you think she will be now?"
Getting to her feet, Gabrielle answered, "Don't, what will be, will. Let's get back to the ship, won't be long before I will know the answer to that."
She could see the island in the distance and knew it wouldn't be long before
they dropped anchor once more. Walking toward the helm she glanced around
for Saxton, he was nowhere in sight so she decided to step off the deck and
see if she could find the man. She really hated to leave the ship, part of
her would always be with The Bounty even if she wasn't. The ship and crew
would never leave her thoughts. She had searched the entire deck and couldn't find the man as she headed toward the cargo hold.
Saxton was on his way topside and the two ran into one another. She laughed as she said, "Well, I was looking for you."
His face lit up as he said, "Looks like you found me. Is there something I can do for you?"
She answered, "I wanted to ask you to take some time and come to the village with me."
He frowned as he said, "They don't take to men, I always feel uncomfortable there."
Gabrielle bowed her head as she said, "I understand, sometimes I forget about their customs."
He smiled as he said, "Oh, all right, I'll accompany you to the village but I will leave the minute you hook up with your friend."
Gabrielle reached up and pecked him on the cheek as she said, "Thanks." She turned and headed for the cargo hold."
Saxton was rowing them toward the shore as Gabrielle sat down beside the man and said, "Let me help."
He kept his eyes forward as he said, "I can do this, why don't you just relax."
She reached out and grasped the oar that was in his right hand and said, "I'm nervous and I need something to do. It's either this or I will surely dive in and swim for shore."
The man smiled as he said, "Then, use those muscles and take the oar and help."
Gabrielle could see several amazon women standing on the beach as they neared. "She gazed around for Xena but couldn't see her. Saxton had pulled the boat ashore and had helped her down. He reached out and touched her right hand as he said, "If things do not go as you want, promise me you will not get riled."
She patted his hand with her's and said, "Can't make that promise but I will promise to try."
She walked up to the women and said, "Where is Xena?"
They gazed at one another then said, "Not here."
She placed her hands on her hips as she stared at them. "You mean she is at the village?"
Leina stepped forward and said, "We don't know where she is, they haven't returned."
Saxton was watching the woman and could see her beginning to seethe as he stepped forward and said, "Can you tell us anything?"
Leina looked at Gabrielle and said, "We were told you would be arriving and have been sent by the Queen to give you a message."
Seeming very agitated Gabrielle said, "Yeah, why couldn't she give it to me herself?"
They shrugged their shoulders then Leina said, "She probably thought you would want to know as soon as possible. A carrier pigeon arrived several days ago."
Gabrielle's eyes were alert as she said, "And? For the love of Zeus, tell me what you are blabbering about?"
The woman was stuttering as she finally got the words out, "It was from the first mate of the Scavenger, Mary Ready has been taken prisoner."
Gabrielle exploded with rage as she stomped back and forth. "Mary taken prisoner! Who would have the gall to do something so brazen?"
The women were clearly intimated as they cowered. Gabrielle stepped up to Leina and said, "Are you sure Xena has not returned?"
They both shook their heads and she turned to Saxton and said, "Best we get back to the ship. We need to find the Scavenger. I need to talk to the person that sent that message. By the Gods if someone has been so foolhardy as to harm Mary, they will pay!"
The tall woman was bending over a small campfire. She shivered as she felt
the coldness envelop her skin. Haunching down she stretched out her arms,
hoping to catch a fleeting moment of warmth. Her brunette hair hung loosely
about her shoulders and in the glow of the fire it almost seemed to hold a
touch of red. She reached up to wipe away a tear that had fallen from one
eye. Her green eyes held a mist as the firelight touched them. Her once pulchritudinous complexion showed the telltale signs of the dust from the mines upon it.
She heard the footsteps approaching and heard the voices as she hovered close to the wall.
It wasn't long before several men walked into view. They were pulling and pushing a hooded figure forward. In the light of the campfire she could see a tall man step into view, he was muscular in build with silver hair and a ruddy complexion. She watched as he struck out sending the hooded person to the ground and said, "I want you to take good care of her, if she lives, make sure she never gets out of here."
The short man that was standing beside him said, "What would you have us do with her?"
He threw his head back and laughed, "Work her till she dies, I don't care, just make sure Mary Ready never leaves here, alive that is."
The other man asked, "There was a mention of dinars, Blackird."
She watched as the man placed a leather pouch in his hand then turned and left. The short man looked at the others and said, "Leave her, if she is alive in the morning, we'll put her to work."
They guffawed and walked away. She waited till they were out of sight then she crept up to the still body. Slowly removing the hood, her eyes widened as she stared at the lustrous dark hair that cascaded past the women's shoulders.
She knelt and began to untie the rope that was wrapped around her wrists.
Whoever had tied the woman wanted to make sure she didn't get loose, because
she had a hard time working the knots free. She sighed when she finally got
the last one to give and was able to free the bloody wrists. The woman was
making groaning noises as she reached down and rolled her onto her back. Her
face had been badly beaten, the left eye was swollen shut and her upper lip was bleeding. It was the one that gazed up at her that caused Epinon to swallow feeling she had a wad of cotton in her throat she said, "You look... What are you doing here?"
The woman was attempting to focus her right eye as she asked, "I don't know you, but, you act like you know me. Who are you? Someone to finish Blackird's dirty deed?"
She found herself staring down at the woman's light blue eye and said, "I
mean you no harm, my name is Epinon and I am a prisoner here, just like you.
It's obvious I don't know you. You just remind me of someone and she has a
habit of pretending to be someone she isn't at times." Getting to her feet
she reached down, placing her hands under the woman's arm's, she began to
drag her closer to the fire. Gently laying her on the ground she walked over to a small rock and retrieved a water skin. Falling to her knees she cradled the woman's head in her left arm and held the water skin to her mouth with the other as she said, "Here, drink some of this."
After she had attempted to drink several times the woman gazed at her and said, "Thanks."
Epinon eased Mary's head back to the ground as she said, "From the looks of you, I would say you have taken a bad beating."
Attempting to sneer and cringing from the pain her lip was sending her she muttered, "Can't imagine what gave you that idea. Help me to my feet, I need to get out of here."
Epinon answered, "Don't think so, from the looks of you, I'm thinking you might just pass out any minute."
Mary tried to move and cried out in pain, as she succumbed to a world of blackness.
Epinon walked over to the fire and searched around the area until she found
a few more pieces of wood. She was squatting as she tossed them onto the
blaze. The crackling sound was all she could hear as she stared across at
the still body. It was evident someone had it in for the woman. She had
never seen anyone that badly beaten. Her eyes slowly moved down the woman's body. The loose fitting pants were covered with dirt and the blouse she wore, that must have been white, showed little evidence it once was. It had been torn and she could see patches of blood seeping through the material.
When she had first seen the woman's face, she thought it was someone else. Shaking her head she whispered to herself, "You have been locked up here too long, you are seeing things."
She crawled back over to the woman and sat down beside her. Reaching down
she gently raised the front of the shirt, stopping when she saw the gashes
on her abdomen. It was obvious she had been struck with something sharp. The
bleeding had stopped and she was grateful for that. Drawing her knees to her
chest she set and stared at the still form. Who was she? One of the men
mentioned the name, Mary Ready. It meant nothing to her but someone wanted this woman out of sight and she wondered who and why?
She had torn a piece off her shirt and wet it with water. Laying it on the woman's forehead she gazed down at the swollen face and shook her head. She wasn't sure Mary Ready would even make it through the night.
The next morning she was awakened early by two guards. They had walked into the area and walked over to the still form of Mary. Getting to her feet she watched as one nudged the woman with his right boot and said, "Come on you lager, there's work to be done!"
Epinon stepped in front of the man and said, "Why don't you leave her alone, she is not in any condition to be working your mines."
Both men turned their attention toward her as one said, "That right, well if she can't pull her share of the work, then you will have to do it for her as well as your own. Change your mind?"
Epinon gazed down at Mary and could see the woman wasn't in any condition to work, all it would do was finish killing her. She glared at the man and said, "If that is the way it has to be I will do what I can."
Smiling the men said, "Then come on let's go there is silver to mine."
They followed her from the cave as she joined the others who were lining up to go back into the mines.
It was late when they would bring her back to the cave after pushing the woman all day. It had been difficult but Epinon continued to do the work of two people. Several weeks had past and she was happy to finally see color returning to Mary Ready's face. Color, besides the purplish tint that still covered one side of her face. The swelling over her left eye had gone down and she was able to now see two beautiful blue eyes staring at her.
Mary had laid and watched as the men pushed Epinon into the cave. The woman
was gaunt, she knew what Epinon had been doing and thanked the woman, she
only hoped she would be able to repay her. Epinon's knees seemed to falter
as she staggered forward and fell. The men had left and Mary hurried to her
as she put her left arm around the woman's waist and said, "Come on, over
here, I have kept the fire going."
Epinon half walked and half leaned against the woman and was thankful to finally sit down. The fire felt good as Mary reached out and grasped a mug of gruel and said, "I fixed it from what we had left. Drink, you need the strength."
Epinon accepted it as Mary helped hold the cup, the woman consumed what was in the mug. When she had finished, Mary handed the water skin to her and said, "Now, drink some water. Thank you, for what you have done, but I can go tomorrow. If I have to work a mine, I will until I can figure a way out of here. By all that is, I will find that cutthroat and he will pay!"
Scooting back, Epinon now found herself leaning against the cool rock of the cave. She set the water skin down and said, "You have to be careful, they have it in for you. Though you may think you are well, you're not. Don't let them get you into a situation where they will beat on you."
As the glow from the fire danced across the woman's face, Mary could see a trace of blood by her lip and said, "How did you get that?"
Epinon drew her knees to her chest and let her arms dangle over them as she said, "One of them wanted a little sport, made him feel big and important."
Fuming, the woman reached out and caressed the area with her right hand as she said, "Let me clean it off."
Shaking her head Epinon replied, "No, I just want to sleep."
Mary walked over to her and sat down as she said, "After all this time, I feel I know you. Tell me Epinon where are you from?"
Epinon turned to gaze at Mary as she said, "I'm an Amazon."
A faint smile crossed Mary's lips as she said, "Amazon huh. I always thought they had two heads and were as large as Mount Olympus."
Managing a smile, Epinon said, "Yeah, well I always thought pirates stood on one leg and wore a patch over one eye."
The two women laughed as Mary reached out and placed her right arm over Epinon's shoulders. "Lay your head on my shoulder, and rest."
Wearily Epinon felt her head falling against the woman as she closed her eyes and went to sleep. Mary was thankful for the woman, Epinon had helped her through many long days of suffering. And if she could lend her any comfort, she would.
Gabrielle had just stepped onto the deck of The Bounty, she had been on the Scavenger. Mary's crew had captured The Raven's first mate. They had been treating the man to the ravages of their inquisition. She had been there when they were finally able to get the location of the Laurium Mines from the man before he died. She was not fond of the beating he received but after she found out what happened to Mary Ready at the man's hands as well as Blackird's she wanted to finish him herself.
Saxton was just making it aboard and walked over to her as he said, "It was not a sight you should have seen."
Turning to stare at the man she said, "Maybe not, but what they did to Mary was horrible and if she is still alive, we have to get her out of that place."
He had seen the fire in her eyes and felt the anger of her tone as he said, "How do you plan on doing that? Seems the only way is through Athens, and their troops, or the ocean and they will see you coming either way."
She pursed her lips then said, "Then you will take me and some of the crew there as prisoners."
His eyes grew wide as he said, "Are you daft? I would never do that."
She reached out and placed her left hand on the man's shoulder and said, "It's the only way, you will pretend to be one of Blackirds men, bringing new life to their mines. Once we are in, then we will turn the table on them."
He scratched his head and said, "Seems awfully risky, are you sure?"
Nodding her head she replied, "I am sure, so set course for there."
Xena and Ephiny had just made it past the last sentries and were starting their final climb toward the mines. They knew they would probably run into more guards. Ephiny had tried to get the woman to turn back many times by telling her a treasure was not worth risking their lives over. Xena continued to ignore her telling her she could stay put but she was going on. Ephiny really wondered what had the woman so fixed on this particular treasure.
They had hoisted a flag that resembled the one The Raven carried on it's mast. The ship was now within distance of the mines. Saxton was staring down at Gabrielle as the woman placed her hands behind her back and said, "Get it over with, tie them."
He held the leather strand in his right hand as he said, "I can't, I can't take you in there all trussed up like some animal to slaughter."
Her blue green eyes gazed up into his as she said, "It will be all right, now do it. I would rather you tie me than someone else."
He nodded his head and began to wrap the leather around her wrists. Gabrielle called back to the man and said, "See that it is tight, they might check."
He grumbled but jerked on the leather as she bit her lower lip. From the pain she was feeling, he definitely had done as she requested and she didn't have the heart to ask him to loosen it. When he was finished she glanced around at the others that were lined up beside her. Their faces were solemn, she knew they were afraid once they got in they might become slaves. Stepping out in front of them she said, "I want to thank you for volunteering to go with me. It has not been easy to do, this will be over soon."
She had placed a dagger between her breasts and had told each of the men to place a knife in an opportune spot. Many had placed them in the sides of their boots and she didn't even want to know where the others had hidden their weapons.
They had received glittering signals from the mines and had sent back their own. After they were in the longboats heading for the shore, she looked up at Saxton as the man sat down beside her. He was sporting a patch over one eye and actually looked like a ruffian. "I'm sure glad you are on my side."
He turned to gaze at her and said, "I wish you would think of some other way to get into the mine."
Her eyes stared at the inlet that was coming up and the dock as she said, "It's too late for that. Just wish us luck."
He raised the eye patch as he stared at her and said, "Luck. Now, start acting like a prisoner."
She looked up to see several men standing at the dock as she gazed at the water. They had anchored the boats and the prisoners were being led onto the dock. One of the guards walked up to Saxton and asked, "What is this? We have received no messages about new prisoners being brought in."
Saxton swaggered up to the man as he squared his shoulders and said, "Blackird sent them, thought that you could use some fresh help."
One of the guards walked up to Gabrielle as his eyes surveyed the woman he said, "And this one? She doesn't look like she is with this group."
Saxton laughed as he roughly answered, "Not part of the group? This here is Gabrielle, she is Captain of The Bounty and second in command at Celicia!"
The man that had been giving Gabrielle the once over stared into her face as he said, "Captain, and second in command of the pirate capital at Celicia. Tell Blackird he did good. We will take them from here. If you wait, I'll send someone down with the payment."
Saxton nodded as he watched them march Gabrielle and the others off. It sickened him to see the woman place herself in such danger.
Epinon and Mary had just finished hiding a sharp piece of rock they had found, when they heard the voices and knew someone was heading their way. They turned their attention in the direction as they braced themselves for anything. Mary's mouth fell open as did Epinon's when they saw the woman being pushed into the cave. They both muttered in unison, "Gabrielle!" Then stared at one another as they got to their feet.
The man that had pushed Gabrielle stared at them and said, "Stay back, we've brought another for your little group. Fill her in and I will be back."
Gabrielle stared at Epinon and Mary then she turned her gaze on the man and said, "Don't bother coming back."
He stepped up to her as he glared into her eyes and said, "Oh I'll be back, I've yet to bed a woman such as yo..."
Before he got the last word out, Gabrielle had spit in his face. He reached
up to wipe his face with his right hand and when he was finished he sent it
flying through the air and into her face. The blow popped her head back as
she lost her balance and fell. He stood over her and said, "I'll be back,
you can count on it!" He turned and left.
Mary and Epinon hurried over to the woman as they helped her set. "Mary reached out and held her in her arms as she said, "Gabrielle, I'm so glad to see you, but not here."
Epinon stared at the two as she said, "I am missing something here, last I heard you were with Xena, you seem to know Mary and what is this about your being a captain and a pirate?"
Mary sat back as she stared at Gabrielle and said, "It's a long story, better to be told when we are not in here. Let's get you untied."
The two women worked feverishly on the ties and finally used the sharpened piece of rock to break through. When they were finished Epinon said, "Whoever tied you wanted to make sure you didn't get away."
Gabrielle laughed as she said, "It was Saxton, before you ask any more questions let me fill you in on the plan."
When Gabrielle pulled the dagger from between her breasts Mary said, "Why didn't you tell us you had that there, the ties would have been easy."
Shrugging she answered, "I forgot, so much was happening and I was surprised to see you both here."
Epinon had noticed the looks between the two as she got to her feet and said, "I'm going to go tend to the fire, looks like you two need to talk."
The two women were standing as they stared at one another. Nothing was said for a long time, just looks. Mary finally reached out and hugged the woman. Gabrielle wrapped her arms tightly around her as she said, "When I heard, I feared for you. Thank the Gods you are all right."
Mary whispered in her ear, "You cared enough to come looking for me."
Stepping back, Gabrielle said, "I care, you are a good friend. After all, if not for you, I probably wouldn't be alive today."
Mary pointed toward Epinon and said, "I was almost dead when I was brought here, Epinon saved my life."
Smiling toward Mary, Gabrielle said, "Then we should do something nice for her."
Mary hadn't said anything and Gabrielle reached out placing her right hand on the woman's face. Her fingers traced the scar as she said, "The ointment worked, thanks."
Mary grasped her hand and placed a tender kiss on it as she said, "I thank the Gods, you are now a part of my life. We have to get out of here before he comes back."
Smiling, Gabrielle said," He doesn't frighten me."
Mary replied, "I know, but what he can do, does. Let's go talk to Epinon and get this thing going."
Xena and Ephiny had watched the goings on at the dock and when Xena saw them bring Gabrielle ashore her heart jumped into her throat. Ephiny had to hold the woman back. She had never seen Xena so upset and she could not understand what Gabrielle was now doing in what started out to be a treasure hunt. After calming Xena, the two women began their descent to the dock.
Gabrielle had told Epinon how they all thought she was dead. This did not set well with the woman who was more determined than ever to get away from the mines and find Ephiny. Mary put a finger to her mouth and said, "Shh, someone is coming."
Gabrielle sat against the rock wall, she had placed her hands behind her
back and hung her head down as if she was asleep. Before long the guard,
from before, walked into the room. He glared at the two women and said, "If
you two know what is good of you, you will stay put!" Then turning his
attention toward the sleeping woman he bent down and said, "Now, my pretty pet, it's time."
He never knew what hit him it happened so fast. Gabrielle brought her right hand around and plunged the dagger into the man's heart. He staggered back a look of surprise on his eyes before they clouded over and he fell dead at her feet. Mary and Epinon hurried over to the woman as Epinon said, "Remind me never to get you mad at me."
Mary had taken the man's sword as she said, "Let's go!"
Before Xena and Ephiny could get to the bottom it started. Loud voices along
with the sounds of metal on metal. They watched as men came running from the
caves followed by others brandishing weapons. The fighting was merciless and
it wasn't long before the three women came into view. Their high kicks and
the swords that were dancing in their hands was music to many. Xena reached
out and grabbed Ephiny's right-hand as she said, "Wait."
The woman turned to gaze at her and said, "You knew Epinon was here?"
Looking back down at the free for all Xena said, "I couldn't be sure and I didn't want to see you hurt again."
Ephiny replied, "What are we waiting for, let's go help."
Xena answered, "No, they are doing fine all by themselves, we don't need to interrupt and have people wonder who to fight. If they need us, we will be there."
They watched the battle if one could call it that because it wasn't long before the women and Gabrielle's crew had subdued the others. The three women were standing as they held their arms around each other, raising their swords toward the sky.
"Hey you! Gabrielle!"
They all turned to see who would dare call out the woman and it was at this time the statuesque woman casually walked from behind a boulder. She smiled as she sauntered toward the blond. Gabrielle had turned as she raised her sword, ready for anything. When her eyes spied Xena she dropped the weapon and yelled, "Xena!"
The long legs of the woman propelled her faster as she reached out and wrapped her arms around Gabrielle. They clung together for several moments as Xena placed soft kisses on her forehead.
Gabrielle looked up at her and said, "Xena, I didn't think I would ever see you again. I went back but you were gone."
She gazed down at Gabrielle, her face was full of concern as she said, "I was doing an old and good friend a favor, we went to see if we could find Epinon and were told she had died. Later I was told she might have been brought here."
Tears cascading down her face, Gabrielle said, "Then you didn't forget about me?"
Glancing around at the others who were staring at the two women she turned
her gaze back to Gabrielle and said, "Forget you, never, I love you." Their
lips met in a gentle sensation of rapture. It was at this time Ephiny walked
down toward the group. When Epinon saw the woman heading toward them she ran
to meet her. Sweeping Ephiny off the ground she whirled the woman in circles
and when she stopped, they stared at one another for an instant, then their lips met in a powerful, electrifying welcome home kiss.
Gabrielle stared at Xena and said, "There is something I need to say to Mary."
Xena nodded as she said, Go ahead, I need to talk to Ephiny."
Mary had been standing at the dock, staring out at the water. She glanced up when she heard Gabrielle approach. Turning to set her eyes on the woman she said, "I see you are back in the arms of love." Gabrielle reached out and took the woman's right hand in her's as she said, "I will always be grateful you are my friend. And though you may not know it, I love you in my own way." Mary squeezed her hand as she said, "You act as if I will cringe at hearing the words. Don't, I fell in love with you back then, I have never regretted it." She reached up and cupped Gabrielle's chin in her left hand. Gazing into her eyes she said, "Never be afraid to tell someone you love, because love is never a sin, only the lack of it in your life."
Gabrielle smiled as she said, "I will never forget you and hope one day you will take me up on my offer and come visit."
"I am glad you have someone in your life, and if you ever get tired of the life of the landlubber, don't forget the sea."
"I won't, take care of yourelf, my friend."
Xena had been staring at the two women when Ephiny approached and said, "She will be fine, thank you Xena for helping me to find Ep again. You may have to adjust a few things in your life but it is plain to see Gabrielle loves you. Just remember, she is not the same person you once knew. From all I have heard, she is very self sufficient, should prove interesting."
Xena raised an eybrow as she said, "You and Epinon take care and have a good journey back to the village."
Ephiny kissed her lightly then turned and walked back to Epinon's waiting arms. Xena walked toward Gabrielle and Mary and as she approached they turned to stare at her. Gabrielle beamed as she said, "Xena, meet Mary Ready next to Ann she is a force to be reckoned with."
Reaching out to grasp the woman's right arm she said, "Any friend of Gabrielle's is a friend of mine. I hope you have a good trip back." Gabrielle had stepped away from the two women and was now staring at them. The sunlight was sending down it's rays upon the water and on the two women. They stood side by side and it was the first time that Gabrielle realized what it had been when she looked at Mary that made her feel so relaxed. The two could have been twins, except for their clothes and the scar on Mary's left cheek their likeness was close. Thinking to herself she would ask Xena if she had any other family members.
Saxton had agreed to take Mary back to her ship and he was going to make
sure Epinon and Ephiny made it back to the amazon village. Gabrielle had
wished them all a safe journey and advised them she would be traveling back
with Xena. They had to get past the guards that would be sent to the mines
but she wasn't worried because she knew that they would slip past them with
The two women were starting downward, toward a thicket of trees. Xena had told Gabrielle that was where she had left Argo. Xena was walking in front and had taken several steps when she heard Gabrielle call to her, "Hey Warrior Princess?"
She stopped and gazed up at the woman and said, "Yeah."
With a mischievous smile crossing her face Gabrielle said, "I hear you are a Myth."
Xena smiled and said, "What ever gave you that idea?."
Their faces were almost touching as Gabrielle reached up and placed a tantalizing kiss on the woman's lips then said, "Well some say I am a Legend." She began to walk away as she called back, " It's been a long dry spell Xena, and I look forward to spending some quiet time with you."
A coy smile began to play on Xena's lips as she turned and followed Gabrielle she said, "Well, when a Myth and a Legend get together, there will be fireworks. And I can't wait to expierence them all."
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