A Past Remembered part 3

by Anita Louise

Chapter Five

The woman turned to see a man walking toward her and she said, "If you had
called out any sooner, I would have missed the rabbit. What are you up to
brother?" Ephiny stared at the man approaching the woman. He was rather tall
and gangly and his hair was longer than most of the women at the village. He
replied, "I'm looking for the cows. Mother said she sent you out an hour ago
to fetch them. When you didn't show up she sent me to find you. I told her
that you were probably day dreaming again."

The woman smiled and said, "Did anyone ever tell you that with that long
hair you could pass as a woman?"

He replied, "Not hardly, just ask Glennis."

The woman stepped away from him and said, "Glennis is not the one to ask,
she is so smitten with you, she would say anything."

He approached her again and said, "You know, I really worry about you Xena,
for a girl, you never seem to have your mind on woman's work. Catching a
rabbit is man's work. Have you mended my shirt yet?"

She stuck her tongue at him and said, "You and some of the other men, one
day you will be happy I'm not like your whinny Glennis." She began to dance
around him singing, "Yes, master, what can I do for you now master." Ephiny
had to put her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing. This woman was
delightful, and she had never seen a man before, so she was enjoying this

He would chase his sister and she would dodge him, the two were laughing as
he said, "I swear Xena, I think the Gods were in a failing mood when you
were born. You are unlike any woman I have ever known. I pity the man who
will become your husband." He didn't know what hit him, as the woman tackled
him sending him to the ground. She was on top of him yelling, "Take it back,
Toris, take it back." He proceeded to roll on the ground with her, and he
knew she wouldn't let up. So he brought out the only defense he could, his
fingers. Xena saw the look on his face and she uttered, "No, not that, don't
you dare." He had a way of tickling her that she couldn't stand. The fight
was now gone and all she could do was laugh, "You win."

He smiled and said, "Say your are sorry, and that Glennis is a wonderful

Defiantly she said, "No, I meant it."

He began to tickle her again and this time she cried out, "All right! I'm
sorry, Glennis is the most wonderful woman I have ever known."

He stopped and said, "There, that's better, just you remember, that the
fingers can be a deadly weapon. They can make even my ornery sister beg for

The woman replied, "If you didn't know about my ticklish spots you would not
have won." She stood up, brushing the weeds off. Glancing over she noticed
Toris was standing on a fallen tree, looking for the cows. Seeing her chance
she crept up behind him and with one push sent him falling forward right
into a mud puddle. As the man sat in the slimy mud he called out to her,
"Got me again, Xena, now I owe you one."

"Got to catch me first." She was out of sight.

Ephiny waited till the man got up and was out of sight then she walked back
and picked up the dead rabbit saying, "Their loss is my gain." She headed
back in the direction of her horse. That evening the women sat around the
campfire, most were honing their weapons. Ephiny was leaning back against a
tree, mulling over the days happenings when Epinon walked over and sat down.
Glancing at Ephiny she said, "You surprised me coming back with that rabbit.
Everyone was just scouting today. Tell me how did you kill it? There wasn't
a mark on it."

Ephiny smiled at her and said, "Talked it to death."

Her friend laughed, "Well, I can honestly see that happen. Guess you aren't
going to tell me. Where did you go today? I couldn't find you."

Ephiny smiled and said, "Have you ever seen any of the other people?"

"If you mean the villagers from Amphipolis, no. Why? Have you?"

Ephiny sighed and said, "Don't tell anyone but I saw the most amazing woman

Epinon sit up and said, "More amazing than me, impossible."

"No, really, she was tall, with tan skin, hair the color of the Raven and
eyes so blue you get lost in them."

Epinon replied, "You're serious, Did you talk to her?"

Ephiny shook her head and said, "No, I hid in the tall grass and watched her
and her brother talk. Then they fought but I think it was more play than
fight. She bested him though. She could be an Amazon."

Epinon gave her a serious look and said, "Don't let the others know that,
you could get in trouble. We were told to stay away from them."

The woman reached out and caressed Ephiny's face with her left hand as she
said, "Sounds to me like you are smitten."

Ephiny reached up and grasped the woman's hand as she replied, "Smitten, I
doubt that, curious definitely."

Epinon knew in her heart that she held feelings for this woman and had
always thought eventually they would pledge their love to Artemis. She could
tell by the glazed look in her friend's eyes, and the excitement in her
voice, when she spoke of this village woman, that her friend was heading for
trouble. She hoped the next day's hunt would go well and they would all go
back to the village, far away from these people. Epinon said, "Come on, it's
time to turn in. Your skin has been thrown out by mine, come join me."

Ephiny looked at her and said, "All right, I am tired." The two walked past
the other women toward the end of camp. As they neared the spot where Epinon
had set up their camp, Ephiny said, "If you don't mind, I don't feel like
talk this evening. I'm going to turn in. Wake me for the morning meal."

Epinon smiled as she sat down on her fur skin, "It's your turn to fix the
meal, so get a good nights sleep because I will be ravenous." Ephiny laughed
as she laid down on her fur skin, stretched out her arms and said, "You

The next morning Epinon was awakened by one of the Amazons and as she sit
up, rubbing her eyes, she glanced over to Ephiny. The woman wasn't there.
Epinon stood up and said, "Where is Ephiny?"

Leia shrugged her shoulders and replied, "Don't know, the horse she was
riding is gone. I guess she has already left for the hunt."

Epinon cursed under her breath, "She's gone back to that place, and I have
no idea where that is. Hades be damned, Ephiny you are going to get in
trouble and I sure hope this woman is worth it."

Ephiny arrived at the meadow just as the Sun was beginning to ascent into
the sky. It was peaceful and she sat and surveyed the area. She hoped that
she would see the woman again, she was becoming very curious.

"Hey look boys, we got us a pretty one!" The voice was gruff and came from
behind her, Ephiny turned to see several men brandishing swords. She stood
up and began to back away as they followed her. One of the men lunged for
her as she sidestepped and began to run. "Get her boys, don't let the pretty
Amazon get away, the slave traders will pay dearly for her." Ephiny soon
found herself surrounded by men, and she knew now why she had never seen any
at the village. Her people were pretty peaceful unless provoked and she
could sense these men were evil.

She tried to fight them off but there were to many and she soon succumbed to
their attack. As she lay on the ground looking up at the men, she wanted to
cry out, but knew there wouldn't be anyone there to help her. Why had she
been so foolhardy, she needed Epinon. One of the men reached down and
grabbed her left arm pulling her to her feet as he said, "Are you alone?
Pretty strange seeing an Amazon in these parts." Ephiny stared at the men,
they had the look of someone who was hungry and had just been presented with
their meal. She said, "Let me go, you have no right."

The man who seemed to be the leader replied, "I have you, that gives me all
the right I need." Ephiny brought her left knee up into the man's groin and
as he doubled over, she swung around kicking him in the head. The other men
were surprised by her attack and she used it to her advantage by striking
out at them. The skills she had learned were paying off and she
incapacitated each one, then she ran toward a crop of trees. The man who was
the leader rose to his feet reached back, and taking out an arrow he placed
it in a bow and shot at the running woman. Ephiny felt the terrible
penetration exploding in unbelievable pain as the arrow found it's mark in
her back. Crying she fell to the ground.

The man followed by his men, who seemed dazed, walked up to her. One of the
men said, "What do we do now? She's wounded, no Slave Trader will buy her
like that."

Their leader said, "Maybe not, but this little vixen has made me mad. Lets
have some fun boys and if that doesn't kill her, then I'll do it myself."

The voice was cold and threatening, "Want to pick on someone who can fight
back boys?"

They turned to see the tall dark haired woman standing behind them. She was
smiling as she twirled a long stick in her hands. The leader shook his head
and said, "Am I going crazy or is there something wrong with this place? The
women seem to think they are warriors, kill her!" The men charged and within
seconds she had beaten them all down. The leader circled her as he said,
"You an Amazon too? You're not dressed like one but you fight like one." He
lashed out at the woman and met her left foot as she leaped into the air
coming down on him. He crumpled to the ground, and she ran over to the limp
form of the amazing woman she had seen face the men.


"I really hate to wake you, but I have a plan!" Xena shouted at Ephiny who
had been sleeping peacefully. The woman jerked her head up as she said,
"What is going on?"

Xena replied, "Nice to see you have come back. I have a plan, get over here
and tell me what you see outside this window."


Chapter Six

Ephiny walked over to Xena, stared at the woman and said, "I always wondered
what it would be like to be able to keep you in one place for awhile. This
was definitely not the way it was supposed to happen. Xena, your face is
swollen and I don't have any way of helping you."

The woman managed a smile grimacing as she said, "Bet you never thought
you'd find me hanging around huh?"

Ephiny reached out to touch the side of her face and the woman pulled her
head back saying, "I'm sure it looks worse than it feels. It's enough, to
know you care. Now, the window..."

Ephiny walked over to the window and gazed out saying, "All right, I'm here
what am I supposed to be looking for?"

Xena replied, "First, tell me what you can see." Ephiny stood on the tips of
her toes trying to get a good look. Then she walked back over to Xena and
said, "A street, a few people walking around. Nothing out of the ordinary."

Xena thought for a second and said, "It's like I thought, we are not in an
Athenian jail. This has to be Santos and Krikis's doing."

Ephiny answered, "He died, the guard you put the pinch on at the Tavern.
When you were unconscious there wasn't anyone to undo it. I guess Krikis and
Santos saw their chance and took you."

Shifting her weight Xena stared at Ephiny and said, "I don't know which is
worse, being tried as a horse thief or dealing with whatever Krikis and
Santos have in mind for me. If I can distract them long enough for you to
escape, will you do it?"

Ephiny's face showed no emotion but she answered, "No, either we both go or
I don't."

Xena grumbled, "By the Gods, you are just as hard headed as Gabrielle. You
must escape, bring back help it may be the only chance." Try as hard as she
could, the woman was unable to talk Ephiny into leaving. She grabbed the
chains above her wrists and said, "In case you haven't taken a good look at
the situation, it's not good. Chances of your getting away far surpass
staying and having to watch what may happen."

Ephiny's eyes met Xena's in a deliberate stare as she said, "I told you, no.

I left once and have regretted it. Besides, they need you alive, Krikis
realizes he has full control over you as long as he has Argo and the others.
Forget it Xena, I will not leave."

Xena cursed under her breath, at the same time remembering how strong this
woman could be. She didn't want to scare Ephiny but the situation they were
in could become volatile at any minute and she worried the Amazon could get
hurt. Ephiny had been pacing the room and Xena said, "Stop, you're making me
dizzy, sit down and rest. Pacing isn't helping and it's making me very

Ephiny walked over to the wall leaned against it and slid down saying,
"Happy? I'm still now."

Xena closed her eyes and said, "Just try to rest, my plan will work."

Krikis had been gone for some time and Ephiny was getting apprehensive, she
found herself pacing the room again, ignoring the looks Xena was giving her.
The sound of a large door closing, stopped her in her tracks and she said,
"Someone is coming, Xena, promise me you won't try anything." Before she
could answer, the door to the room they were in swung open. Krikis stepped
in glanced around and said, "Well, I see you have been good Xena, you're
still there."

The woman replied, "Like I have a choice in the matter."

He stepped closer and she could see he was holding a whip in his right hand.
The man approached her and said, "My, your face is a sight, thought I would
tell you that I just purchased you from Santos. Since he bought you from
Callisto, it was an easy buy. The man is terrified of you Xena, but I'm

Xena replied, "Maybe you should be."

He laughed and replied, "Amazing, you are bound, not going anywhere and you
still threaten. Maybe you need to be taught a lesson in manners." Slowly he
walked around her, Xena swallowed and closed her eyes. The crack of the whip
richocheting through the air as it found its mark on the woman's back,
brought terror to Ephiny's eyes. Xena tightened her hands around the chains
above her and said, "That the best you can do Krikis?"

He lashed out at her again then said, "Did you feel that one Xena? If not I
have more."

Ephiny had been watching in revulsion as she yelled, "Stop it! Haven't you
done enough to her." Xena glared at Ephiny hoping she would be quiet but the
woman continued, "Let her alone!"

He reached out curling up the leather and walked over to her, she stared at
him as he said, "Do I detect a hint of compassion for this she devil? I take
it you don't want me to hurt her, tell me, would you take her place?"

Ephiny glanced at Xena and said, "Yes, if it will stop you from injuring

Xena cried, "No, Ephiny, I can take anything he hands me."

He laughed and replied, "Seems we have an admiration society here, this gets
better by the minute. You two show such caring for one another, I believe
I'll take you up on your offer Amazon." He called for some of his men and
when they entered the room he said, "Chain the Amazon to the wall, this is
going to be more fun than I thought."

Xena scowled at him and said, "Don't do it Krikis, I'm asking you not to
harm her. It's me you hate, come and get me."

He glanced in her direction and said, "You're right but I think I can hurt
you a lot more this way. Some friend you have, wanting to take the beating
for you."

Xena loudly said, "She doesn't know what she said, leave her alone."
Ephiny's hands were now manacled to the wall, she turned her head, glanced
at the woman and said, "Don't, Xena, I know what I said." At that moment the
two women's eyes seemed to reach into their very being. Xena grabbed the
chains and began to pull as the man said, "Don't even try, the others will
die and your friend will be cold before you even get to me. My men have
their orders.

The snap of the whip and the sound it made as it cut through the woman's
flesh, caused Ephiny's body to jerk with each lash. Xena felt hopelessly
lost. She stood in horror as it ripped into her friends back. Her crystal
blue eyes filled with tears, tears that were now overflowing and running
down her cheeks. Xena softly said, "Ephiny..." The Amazon had passed out and
was now hanging limp as Krikis turned to look at Xena and said, "You must be
proud of her Xena, she took a lot more than I thought she would."

Xena answered, "If she dies, so do you. You've had your little fun, now take
these chains off. "

He walked up to her and said, "Of course, someone has to tend to her. Can't
let her die now can I, especially, after I have found out just how much she
means to you." As he unlocked the manacles, she glared at him and said, "See
I get some water, cloths and ointment."

Curling the whip up he said, "I'll send a man down with some. Do take care
of her won't you." He turned and left the room, followed by his men. Xena
ran over to the hanging form of her friend, reached out grabbing the chains
she easily pulled them from the wall. She held Ephiny against her own body
and slowly let her fall to the floor. The woman cried in pain and Xena
whispered, "Don't move, you've been cut up bad. Why? You didn't have to do

Ephiny, seeming to stir, looked up into Xena's face and said, "It
hurts...Xena..." Staring down at this amazing Amazon was not unlike the last
time she found herself in the same position.


Xena fell to her knees beside the form of the fallen women. She stared at
the shaft on the arrow that had penetrated the woman's back. She asked, "Can
you hear me?"

The woman grimaced in pain and answered, "Yes, what happened?"

Xena said, "You have been shot with an arrow, it didn't go through and it's
lodged in the upper part of your back close to your shoulder, I'll go get

The woman cried, "No, please don't go. I can't be seen by anyone."

Xena thought for a second then replied, "From your dress, you look like an
Amazon, if you are, what are you doing so far away from your home?"

Ephiny cried, "I'd really like to talk but I'm in pain here, please help

Xena answered, "The only thing I have ever done is work with the cattle and
the sheep, but a person, it's not the same. I don't know if I can."

Ephiny gazed into the women's eyes and said, "Anyone that can throw a rock
like you can and fell a rabbit on the run, can do it. Besides, do you see
anyone else?"

Xena answered, "Ok, but don't get upset at me if I fail." She reached down
and removed the woman's dagger from its sheath and said, "I've got to get
you onto your left side, I'm going to try to cut the shaft, it's going to
hurt like Hades."

Ephiny gasped, "A stick, piece of wood get a small piece and put it between
my teeth. Then by the Gods, do it." Xena glanced around, found a piece of
wood and placed it between the woman's teeth. She grasped the shaft in one
hand and began to cut away at it with the other. The dagger was sharp and it
didn't take long before she was almost through. The woman had been clamping
down on the piece of wood trying to hold back the cries. Xena grasped the
shaft and broke it with her hands. Ephiny had clamped down on the wood so
hard, she bit right through it as her cries of pain echoed through out the
meadow. Xena looked at her hands, they were covered with blood, she reached
down, tore some material from her skirt and held it against the wound

"I've got to get you out of here, I'm going to pick you up." She waited for
a reply but there wasn't one and she knew the woman had passed out. Xena
reached down, gently picked the woman up in her arms and carried her from
the field. This wasn't an easy task as the two women were close to the same
size. Xena carried her to the horse she had tied up by the stream. She
draped the women over the saddle and jumped on behind, guiding the animal
toward the forest. It didn't take long to find the cave entrance, stopping
the horse she slid off the back. Xena walked over and began to remove the
branches she had placed in front of the opening. When she had finished she
led the horse into the large chamber. Reaching up she pulled the Amazon down
from the saddle, carefully laying her down on the makeshift bed she had
previously put there.

Xena had placed her on her stomach, then walked over and picked up the water
skin she had left several days ago. She walked over to the woman and
examined the injury. It was swollen and very red, she knew she was going to
have to do something, but for the first time in her life she didn't know if
she could. Saturating a piece of cloth she bathed the area, then went
outside to gather firewood. It was cool in the cave and she didn't want this
women to get worse than she was.

The crackling of the fire caused Ephiny to stir and she started to move,
crying out in pain she fell back down on the bed. Xena raced over to her and
said, "Don't move, you still have the arrow in you. I cut the staff off but
it's still lodged.

Ephiny cried, "Epinon, get Epinon!"

Xena stared at her and said, "I don't know anyone named Epinon, I can't get
her." Ephiny replied, "Take the arrow out. The longer it stays in the worse
it will be." Xena got to her feet and walked over to the horse, she glanced
down at her hands, they were covered in blood. Her heart was beating so
loudly she felt at any minute it was going to jump out of her body. She
leaned against the saddle trying to calm down, then took the saddle bag down
from the horse and proceeded to go through it. She was looking for anything
she might be able to use. There was food, she always made sure to bring food
because she never knew how long she would remain in the meadow. It was the
only time she had to get away and enjoy the serene beauty of these marvelous
fields. A cry of pain brought her back to the present, and she walked over
to the woman and said, "I've helped my mother deliver a few babies, I've
helped around the Farm, but I have never removed an arrow from a person.
There are many vital parts and if I should accidentally hit one you could or
I should say die."

Ephiny's face was covered with perspiration and her body was so wracked in
pain, that the thought of crossing over was comforting as she said, "Just do
it, I can't do anything like this, and I promise, I won't come back and
haunt you." There was something in the woman's voice that struck a cord in
Xena, she knelt down by the bed and said, "I'm going to have to tie you
down. I can't have you moving too much while I am doing this."

Ephiny groaned, "Whatever, just do it." Xena had found some hemp and
proceeded to tie the woman's wrists down, then her legs. She reached around
and felt her forehead and said, "The pain will be unbearable." She waited
for the woman to speak, there was no sound, realizing she had passed out
once more.

After the woman had been restrained, Xena walked over to the horse and led
it from the cave. She jumped on and headed the animal toward home. Xena knew
she had to get some things. A needle and sewing material, a small knife and
a lot of cloth as well as ointment. She just hoped she would be able to
retrieve these things and not have to answer any questions. Xena watched her
brothers leave the house and when her mother followed, she saw her chance
and crept in the back door. It didn't take long to get what she wanted. As
she turned and left she knew her mother would be mad and probably send her
brothers out to look for her. She only hoped it would be much later.

It didn't take long to make it back to the cave. She climbed down from the
horse and led it back inside. The fire had died down and there were a lot of
embers. Xena walked over picked up the dagger and placed it in the hot
coals. She grabbed the saddle bag and walked over to the still form laying
on the bed. Spreading out a cloth, Xena took out the materials that she
would need and laid them out. She reached down checking the woman's heart
beat, it was faint but it was there. "How are you feeling?" She waited for
an answer then realized the woman was still unconscious and thanked the Gods
for this. Xena walked over to a wall, took down a torch and carried it over
to the bed, where she set it in a holder near by. Reaching down she removed
the bloody cloth she had applied earlier. The wound began to seep, as she
took a cloth and began to clean it.

Xena reached down, picked up the knife she had brought from home. Her hands
were shaking and she felt as if she would faint. The realization of what she
was about to do was hitting her full force, her body was wracked with
doubts. She paused for a moment then she reached down and began to cut back
the skin. The woman cried out in her unconscious state, but Xena continued.
Before long she could see the arrow and with her slender fingers she reached
in and grasped it. Drawing it back slowly, then cutting the flesh around it
she was able to pull the arrow out. The wound was oozing and she grabbed a
cloth putting pressure on it. Dropping the arrow on the floor, she walked
over and picked up the dagger. In several quick steps she now found herself
staring down at the injury. Xena had helped her brothers many times with the
livestock, she only hoped the same thing would work on a person. She reached
down and removed the cloth and put the dagger carefully into the wound. Xena
turned her head to the side trying to avoid the smell of burning flesh. The
Amazon, writhing in pain, cried out in agony.

Taking a deep breath the woman laid the dagger down and picked up the needle
and sewing material. It took her a few tries to get it threaded, then she
began to pull the skin together and methodically stitch up the area. When
she was finished Xena spread ointment around the wound and bandaged the
area. She untied the woman's wrists and feet, then walked over to the horse
and removed a blanket, walking back she placed it over the woman.

Sitting close to the fire she drew her knees to her chest, wrapped her arms
around them and rocked back and forth. Her eyes never leaving the Amazon.
Xena had done all she could, it would now be up to the woman to regain her

Who was this woman? Why had she found her way to the Meadow land? Were there
any others nearby? Her mind was full of questions that only the Amazon could
answer. The smell of blood filling her nostrils, caused her to glance down,
and she could see her clothes were covered with it. The hands she held out
also showed the telltale signs of the woman's blood. How was she ever going
to explain this to her mother. There was going to be Hades to pay and when
faced with her mothers wrath, would she turn over this woman.

Gathering her things she led the horse from the cave. Once outside she
placed the branches over the cave opening, mounted the horse and headed for
home. Xena left the horse in the corral and walked toward the Tavern, she
was hoping to be able to make it around the back, entering quietly hoping no
one would see her. Things never work out like one hopes and as she neared
the back of the building, Toris stepped out and she ran into him.

He gazed down at her and said, "You should watch where you are going Sister.
Where have you been? Mother is beside herself with worry."

Xena frowned and answered, "Had work to do, course I'm sure that concept is
new to you." She brushed past him as he called, "Xena, wait." She had made
it by him and entered the building. The sounds of the people in the Tavern
were drifting toward the back. She could tell her mother probably was very
busy as she hurried up the stairs to her room. Once inside Xena began to
remove her clothes, she found a basin and poured some water into it. Working
as fast as she could to remove the signs of the blood from her hands. Before
long she had cleaned up and changed clothes. Reaching down to pick up the
ones she had worn the woman muttered, "Now what do I do with these? Can't
have mother see them." Wrapping them into a ball she tossed them under her
bed and replied, "They will do under there for now." She was hungry and went
back down to the Tavern to get something to eat.

When she entered the room, she could see her mother busily pouring drinks at
the counter. She walked over to a table and sat down. Lena walked over to
her and said, "Xena, your mother has been frantic, she will be glad to see
you are back." Xena looked up at the woman and said, "Don't know about that,
I'm hungry can you get me something to eat and drink?"

Before long the woman had returned, placing a bowl of stew in front of her
and a large piece of bread. As she set the goblet down she said, "It's
water, your mother would not be happy if I gave you anything else." Xena
thanked her and dove into the meal, she was famished. She had just pushed
the bowl away and leaned back in the chair when she heard the words, "It's
good to see you come home for something!"

Xena looked up into the Sea Green eyes of her mother and said, "Mother, what
do you mean?"

The woman pulled out a chair and sat down. The stern look she was giving her
daughter meant to Xena tread softly as she said, "Where have you been young
lady? I was worried sick, Lycius is out looking for you as we speak. Have
you no concern for others?" Xena never could stare into her mothers eyes for
long as she glanced down and answered, "I'm sorry, time just got away from

The woman said, "Well, there is a lot of work to be done here and I suggest
you start by helping Lena."

Xena sighed and said, "I'm so tired, can't I do that tomorrow?" Her mother
stood up glaring down at the woman, then she reached out and grabbed Xena by
her right ear and pulled her from the chair, leading her to the kitchen.
Xena had yelled, "You're hurting me mother." The woman ignored her daughter
and seemed to relish in the Tavern clientele calling out, "That's the way
Cyrene, you show her who's boss. Can't let these young ones get the best of

If she was trying to humiliate Xena it worked. When her mother released her,
she said, "Now ask Lena how you can help and when I close this evening, it
will be your job to put things up and sweep and mop before you go to bed, is
that clear?" Xena nodded as her mother turned and left the room. Lena had
followed them into the kitchen, walking over to Xena she said, "I hope it
was worth it."

Xena shrugged her shoulders and replied, "What do you want me to do?" She
was exhausted way before her mother had bestowed the punishment on her and
when she was finished mopping the room that evening she didn't think she
could take another step. Xena walked up the stairs to her room and
approaching her door she saw her mother waiting for her. "I did what you
said, what is wrong?" Xena looked at her mother as she waited for the woman
to answer.

Cyrene replied, "You have done well, but we are not through. In the morning
I want to know what kept you." She turned and walked away. Xena watched the
woman until she was out of sight then opened the door to her room, walked
over to the bed and collapsed on it.


Chapter Seven

Xena had fallen asleep as soon as her head touched the bed. Tired as she
was, she kept waking. After a considerable length of time she set up on the
bed muttering, "It's that Amazon, she keeps invading my dreams. Maybe
something is wrong." She got up, glanced down at her wrinkled clothes and
said, "Oh well, no one is going to see me anyway." Walking carefully to the
door she opened it, listening for any sounds. Sure everything was all right,
she softly crept down the stairs and over to the corral. The Moon was
setting high in the sky. It illuminated the area with enough light, that she
had no trouble saddling the horse. Then she walked it from the corral to the
end of town. The sound of a dog barking could be heard in the distance.
Other than that she seemed to be the only person out on this night.

Stopping she took the reins and laid them over the horse's head and leaped
into the saddle. As she Pulled her legs in on the animal, it raised it's
head and galloped up the road. Reaching the fork to the meadow, she reined
the animal in and walked it slowly down the path. There were many large
rocks jagging along the edge, and a sure drop if one wasn't cautious. In the
daylight she never thought of this, but now she was being very careful. Xena
was thankful for the full Moon that night, it helped her to find her way.
When the horse trod into the tall grass, Xena sighed, "Thank the Gods, it's
not far now." She urged the horse on at a faster speed.

Arriving at the cave, she stopped the horse and jumped down. It didn't take
her long to move the branches and lead the animal into the cave. She could
see the fire she had stoked had died down. Leading the horse over to a
corner of the cavern, she proceeded to remove the bridle and saddle. She
walked further into the cavern and came back with new pieces of kindling and
wood. It didn't take her long to get the fire going. When she had finished,
she walked over to the bed and knelt down. Xena reached out and touched the
woman's neck with her right hand. The skin was cool and damp. There was a
heartbeat and she breathed a sigh of relief, the Amazon was still alive.
Before she could move her hand the woman reached up and grasped it saying,
"You've come back, I've missed you so much. Epinon where have you been?"

Xena whispered, "It's not Epinon, my name's Xena." She tried to pull her
hand away but the woman wouldn't let go. So she sat down on the ground and
leaned her head against the bed. The Amazon was incoherent most of the
night. She rambled off and on, Xena couldn't make any sense out of what she
said, except for the word, Epinon. It seemed she must of had a good friend
by that name. Staring at the woman, she wondered where Epinon was at that
moment. Xena went to sleep sitting on the ground with her head laying
against the bed. The Amazon had developed a death grip on her hand, so she
shrugged her shoulders and relaxed.

"By the Gods, you are lovely." The words filtered through Xena's dream, as
she smiled and nestled her head on the floor. "Have I died and gone to the
Elysian Fields?" Xena heard the words again, only this time they were
stronger than before. She opened her eyes to stare directly into the light
brown ones that were shining down on her. Setting up she shook her head and
said, "You're conscious, are you all right?"

The woman groaned, "No, I hurt in places I never even knew could. How did I
get here?"

Xena reached out and touched her forehead answering, "I brought you, don't
you remember?" The woman went to move and cried out in pain. Xena got to her
knees and said, "It's too soon to try to move, it was only last night I took
the arrow out. You need to be still so your body can mend." The woman stared
at her and said, "It's your fault you know."

Xena was taken aback at these words and she asked, "What's my fault?"

"I wouldn't be in this mess if I hadn't seen you that day in the meadow. You
were like a shining star drawing me nearer and nearer." Xena sat back down
and gazed at this woman. She had never noticed before but the Amazon was
striking, her blond hair glimmered like gold and she had the lightest brown
eyes, she had ever seen. She had never seen an Amazon before.

"Are you all right?" The woman's words rang out at Xena. She smiled and
said, "I'm sorry, I was... staring at you. How did you get here from your
village?" The Amazon didn't answer and she reached over and touched the side
of her face, "Are you all right?"

Still no answer, Xena's heart seemed to leap into her throat. She got to her
knees and felt for a sign of life, it was there but faint. Xena was beside
herself now, what was she thinking, the woman had been seriously injured and
she was trying to make ordinary conversation.

After touching her forehead, Xena decided to go get more wood and put on the
embers of the fire she had stoked that night. When she set the last few
pieces down she walked back over to the bed and set down by it. The woman's
face was perspiring heavily, her breathing labored. Xena began to hum, it
was a tune her mother used to hum to her when she was ill. She sat by the
woman all that day, never even giving a thought to herself or the trouble
she was in at home. Her mother would be so furious, and this woman didn't
want anyone to know she was there. She definitely had put herself in a no
win situation.


Toris walked into the Tavern and said, "Have you seen Xena?" His brother
Lycius, looked up from his breakfast and said, "No, not even last night, I
must have covered most of the valley." Cyrene walked in from the kitchen and
said, "She did come home late last night, I had her work in the Tavern. I
did tell her I wanted to talk to her this morning, but she hasn't come down

Toris looked at his mother and said, "Then she must be gone again, cause I
knocked on her door and she didn't answer."

Lycius replied, "Probably just sleeping in."

Torris shook his head and said, "No way, not as loud as I knocked. She has
either left or is dead."

Cyrene's face looked concerned and she said, "I'll go check on her." She
hurried up the stairs, knocking several times on the door. When no one
answered, she opened it and walked in. Glancing around she could see that
the bed had not been turned down, although it did look ruffled. Turning to
leave, she spotted something under the bed. Walking over to the bed, she
dropped to her knees, and reached under to bring a bundle out. The minute
she saw the blood, the woman screamed. Toris and Lycius bounded up the
stairs, in an instant they were standing by their mother. Toris asked, "What
is wrong mother?"

She pointed to the clothes and said, "I have made a grave mistake, your
sister is in trouble. You must find her."

They looked at one another and said, "It will be all right, we will go right
now." The two brothers quickly made it to the corral and saddled their
horses and headed for the meadows. Toris called back to Lycius, "She loves
to go there, I suggest we start at the meadows and work our way upland."
When they reached the high grassy land the two split up, agreeing to meet
back at the fork in the path later that day.

Xena first heard the sound of footsteps, and jumped to her feet prepared for
anything. "Xena, are you in here?" It was the voice of her brother Lycius.
Before long he walked into view, heading toward her with a questioning look
on his face. Xena approached him and said, "Swear, you won't tell anyone."

He shook his head and said, "Do you know how worried, Mother is not to
mention Toris and myself. What in Gods name are you doing in this cave?"

Xena answered, "Sit down and I'll tell you."

He glanced past her and said, "What in Hades is this?" He brushed past his
sister and walked over to the bed. Turning back to look at her, he asked,
"Who is this? You have a lot of explaining to do Sister."

Xena walked over to him and said, "I don't know her name, but she needed my
help. Come sit with me and I'll tell you." He followed her and after they
sat down she began to fill him in on the past few days, when she was
finished he said, "Thank the Gods you were there, they would have killed
her. Sister you still amaze me. You actually removed an arrow?"

She nodded her head and said, "I hadn't any choice, she asked me not to tell
anyone. She is an Amazon and terrified of the people here. I promised her I
wouldn't say anything, and you have to help me keep that promise."

He got to his feet and said, "What about Toris and Mother, they will be
worried and then mad. You have to tell them. If you don't, Mother may punish
you till you are old an decrepit."

Xena looked at him and asked, "Can you promise me that nothing will happen
to her if they know?"

He shook his head and said, "Well, it seems you have gone and gotten
yourself in a mess again. But then I would think less of you if you hadn't.
I won't tell anyone, so do you need anything for her, for the wound?"

Xena answered, "The next few days will tell the tale, You might say a few
prayers to Apollo for her and to Hestia for us." He smiled, bent down and
kissed her on the forehead then said, "I'm going, I'll try to come up with
some story, the bad thing is Mother found the bloody clothing under your

She groaned, "I thought I could get rid of it before anyone found it. You're
smart, think of a good story. Did you want to take a look at the wound?"

He shook his head and said, "No need, I know what you can do. Take care of
yourself." Xena watched him leave, then walked back over to the bed. She
stood, staring at this Amazon, who even knew about her throwing the rock and
killing the rabbit. How long had she been spying on her and why? As these
questions invaded her thoughts, she decided to spend the rest of the night
in the cave.

"Got to move."

Xena raised her head as the sound floated across the cave. She had been
drifting off and on throughout the night. Constantly waking to check on the
woman. Toward morning Morpheus, gained control and she had drifted into a
restless sleep. Fully awake now she rubbed her eyes, looking across at the
moving form on the bed. Xena was on her feet in an instant, running to the
Amazon's aide. She reached out and placed a hand on Ephiny's left shoulder
and said, "Don't, you are too weak and you might start bleeding again."

Ephiny replied, "Then you tell me how I take care of..."

Xena smiled, dropped to her knees and said, "I'll help." Ephiny's eyes
seemed to shoot fire as she said, "I don't think so, an Amazon would
never..." Xena reached out and touched the woman's forehead and said, "You
don't have a choice. Let's see if you can sit up." Xena reached out to help
her, as Ephiny cried, "Back, my head is spinning and I feel sick to my
stomach." Xena eased her down on the bed and said, "You have to get used to
being up. How are you feeling now?"

Ephiny managed a smile and said, "My head is better."

"Good, lets try again. I'm going to put my right arm around you and help
you. Now, trust me, I am going to pick you up."

Ephiny's eyes widened as she said, "No, it's too much, I can walk."

Xena replied, "Trust me, I have been known to have many skills. I've carried
you from the meadow to my horse so this short walk is nothing. Lean on me, I
promise I won't drop you."

Ephiny gazed at Xena, and at that moment, she felt a peacefulness within and
knew this woman could do what she had said. She was amazed at the way Xena
lifted her off the bed and carried her from the cave. Walking from the cave,
Xena carried her to an area she had previously prepared.


A Chirping bird attracted the Amazon's attention as she said, "It's so
beautiful out here, can we stay for a few minutes?"

Xena nodded and replied, "Yeah, I never get over the beauty and sounds." She
walked over to a large tree, it's branches, spread out like an umbrella. She
knew it would provide them with plenty of shade. Setting Ephiny carefully
down she said, "Don't lean back yet." Xena stepped behind her, dropping to
her knees, she sat back against the tree. Spreading her legs, she reached
out placing her hands around the woman's waist, pulled her back and said,
"Now, lean on me, I'm a lot softer than the tree."

Ephiny's injury was paining her, but this woman's gentle touch and words
seemed to made the aching fade. Laying her head back, she felt the warmth of
Xena's skin and started to move. Xena wrapped her arms around the woman's
waist and said, "It's all right, relax, the air will do you good. Xena
reached out and brushed several strands of golden hair back off Ephiny's
forehead and said, "You never have told me what you were doing in the

Ephiny began to tremble and Xena asked, "Are you cold?" She was happy the
woman couldn't see the deepening color her face was becoming as she
muttered, "No, I just felt a chill for a minute. I'm fine." Ephiny told Xena
about the village and the hunt that she had been on. When she finished
telling her about the day she saw Xena and Toris in the meadow she said, "I
had to come back, I had to see if you were real."

Xena looked away and said, "You make me sound like something special, I'm
merely a peasant girl."

They had been there for awhile when Xena said, "We had better get back, I
don't want to take a chance and have someone see us. Explaining you, might
be difficult." There wasn't any answer as Xena whispered in the woman's ear,
"Wake up, we have to go in."

Slowly opening her eyes Ephiny mumbled, "Why?"

Xena answered, "Someone might come by, besides you need to lay down and

Ephiny said, "I am rested." Xena had decided they should get back to the
safety of the cave and she said, "Lean forward, I have to get up." It didn't
take her long to get to her feet and she said, "Feel like trying to walk?"
The Amazon nodded, as she helped her to her feet. Holding the woman close
she said, "We'll take it slow, lean on me." They hadn't walked far when
Ephiny fell, Xena held onto the woman, catching her fall and carried her.

Laying Ephiny down on the bed she smiled saying, "Sleep, it's no wonder you
are weak, you are probably hungry. Mother is right when she tells me, 'Xena
you would lose your head if it wasn't attached.' She had to admit there were
times when she let things escape to the back of her mind. Knowing she was
not a cook, Xena decided to go back home and see if she could find something
to bring back. She was hungry and knew that the Amazon had to be.

Xena led the horse from the cave, turning to look back at the sleeping form
of the woman. She felt a chill travel her body, and jumped on the horse. Her
thoughts wandered back to the woman when she had said, 'I just felt a chill
for a minute.'

Urging the horse across the meadow Xena thought, had the two of them caught
some kind of illness?



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