Queen to Queen

by Leigh McEoghan

Disclaimer: I don't own Xena, Gabrielle etc. They are the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance. I'm just borrowing them for a wee while. Please don't sue me :O)

Subtext: Duh of course!! This story will eventually contain scenes of love between two women. If this bothers or sickens you in any way, then I feel very sorry for you and your little mind. If you are under 18, or this kind of material is illegal in your country then wait until you are old enough, move, and read it when you're good and settled.

Authors Note:
This is not only my first ever posting, but it is also the first piece of fanfiction I ever wrote. I would greatly appreciate any constructive criticism. I would appreciate it even more if you wrote and told that you like it.

Timeline: Emmm let me see, we'll say that it's 5th season, but Xena is not pregnant, she never was.

Queen to Queen.

It had been a long day and all Gabrielle wanted was to have a couple of helpings of stew and then hit the bedroll. Xena, however, had other ideas.

"We can't stop now Gabrielle if we travel through the night then we should reach Amazonia by sunup."Xena repeated herself for what seemed like the twentieth time. The bard behind her groaned loudly, causing the warrior to smirk.
"I promise I'll make it up to once we reach our destination. I want to stop and set up camp too, believe me I do, but Ephiny's scroll sounded urgent and I don't want to waste any unnecessary time." She finished. Glancing behind her, she saw that a troubled expression had clouded Gabrielle's usually chirpy features.

"Ok what's up?"

Letting out a loud sigh, Gabrielle turned to face Xena, who had pulled Argo to a complete stop.

"I was just thinking about Ep's scroll. What could be so important that she couldn't handle herself? I'm worried about it that's all." She finished, looking down at her hands that were clasped tightly in her lap. Xena placed two gentle fingers under Gabrielle's chin and pulled her face up so she could look her in the eyes.

" I understand why you are worried, I'm a little anxious myself, that's why the sooner we get there the better. Hold on tight little one, it's gonna be fast and furious!" With that, Xena dug her heels into Argo's sides and they were off, galloping at breakneck speed through the forest and on towards the Amazon settlement. Gabrielle held on to Xena's waist for dear life and squeezed her eyes shut. It was gonna be a long night.

The sun was just rising over the horizon when Xena, Gabrielle and a very weary Argo arrived at the Amazon border. Xena slid of the saddle and stretched luxuriously, letting her joints pop. After allowing herself a long drink of water from the wineskin, she turned back to Argo to wake the slumbering bard.

" Wakey wakey, rise and shine!" She said into Gabrielle's ear whilst shaking her gently. The blonde's eyelids fluttered open and she sat up, grimacing at the pain in her back. She allowed Xena to help her from the saddle then stood there, squinting in the early morning sun. She turned to face Xena.

" Why have we stopped Xena? Are we there?" She asked hopefully.

"Just about. The border is just ahead through those trees, we can go on foot from here." Answered Xena, trying not to laugh at Gabrielle who had just yawned for the fifth time since waking up. They set of towards the woods, Argo in tow. It wasn't long before Xena felt the presence of the Amazon guards, hidden high in the trees. Nudging Gabrielle, she stopped and raised her arms above her head, Gabrielle followed suit. Within seconds several ropes dropped down from the trees just in front of them and nine Amazon guards in full mask and warrior dress, slid down to the ground. The tallest of the group jogged towards them, tearing off her mask. It was Eponin. Smiling broadly, she stopped before Gabrielle and bowed slightly.

"Greetings my Queen, it is great to see you after all this time, love the hair by the way." The Amazon leaned forward and ruffled Gabrielle's short bangs, then, still grinning turned to the tall, raven-haired warrior."And if it isn't Xena. How are you doing friend? Knees given out on ya yet?" The Amazon knew she was taking a risk by teasing the imposing and obviously travel weary warrior and was almost about to apologize when Xena cracked her trademark, lopsided grin.

"You better watch yourself Epo', I could still kick your ass with one arm tied behind my back and lead weights tied to my ankles. Be sure you sleep with one eye open." Finished Xena offering her hand to Eponin for a warrior's handshake. Gabrielle, sick of the childish banter between the two women, cleared her throat to get their attention.

"Eponin, we got Ephiny's scroll two days ago and came as quickly as we could, can you tell me what the problem is?" She managed to ask before yawning, again.

"I'm afraid that you will have to talk to the Regent herself, I'm under strict orders to bring you straight to her hut as soon as you arrived. So, if you wouldn't mind following me, you will have your answers soon enough.

As they processed through the main street, Gabrielle was greeted by with sweeping bows and "Welcome home my Queen" by everyone she encountered. Few were brave enough to talk to the stoic warrior by her side. Those who did were rewarded with a small nod and a quiet thank you. Finally, they reached the royal hut. Eponin escorted them inside and arranged for a meal to be brought to the weary travelers. She then left, promising see them when they had finished speaking with Ephiny. They were midway through their stew when the Regent Queen herself entered the hut.

"Well I see you've made yourself at home pretty quickly." Teased Ephiny, folding Gabrielle into a bearhug." How have you been my Queen?" She asked, her voice serious this time.

"Oh Ep, it's so good too see you. I'm fine." Answered a smiling Gabrielle, "We're both fine." She finished, gazing across the table to Xena.

"Why Xena." Ephiny exclaimed, "I almost didn't see you there." She finished, laughing at her own joke. Xena allowed herself to smile.

"It's good to see you too Ephiny, how you been doing? You look great, hardly any grey hairs." Xena shot back. She was surprised to feel herself begin to relax. After days on the road, it felt good not to have to be on constant alert and she knew that Gabrielle and herself would always be safe here.

"My dear Regent," Both heads turned to face Gabrielle. "It's great to be back, but what, pray tell, seems to be the emergency, everything seems to be fine, there are no armies camped around the settlement, you aren't sick, what was so important that we had to rush here for?" Two sets of eyes were now fixed intently on Ephiny. Sighing she slumped into a nearby chair and sighed loudly.

"Oh Gabrielle," She moaned, " I didn't know whom else to turn to. She was
just dumped on me. I can't be expected to baby-sit AND run an Amazon nation at the same time." Gabrielle stared at her Regent, confusion written on her features.

"Who is 'she' Ephiny? What are you talking about?"

Ephiny sighed again and looked up, first at Gabrielle, then at Xena."Ok, I'll start at the beginning. Have you heard of a group of Amazons that live on the Island of Corthepius a few miles off the coast of Mycenae?"She asked, looking up to watch their faces. Gabrielle shook her head straight away but Xena looked thoughtful for a moment then nodded her head.

"Yes, I've heard of them. They are an extremely wealthy tribe that trades with local and passing merchants. I heard recently that they were involved in a conflict with their Island neighbours, the Cytherans." She looked back to Ephiny who nodded her head.

"About three years ago the people of Cythera grew jealous of the Corthepius Amazons' wealth and demanded that they cease all trade with the local merchants. Naturally the Amazons refused, trade being their only source of income. Incensed, the Cytherans then called on the local merchants to boycott all Amazon goods. This also failed. Cythera declared war on the Amazons."

"Wait!" Interrupted Gabrielle,

" You're telling me that the people of Cythera declared war on the Amazons because they were jealous?" She asked incredulously.

"That's exactly what I'm saying, although it wasn't so much the Islanders who wanted war but their governor, a man named Tristanimus, an ex-warlord with expensive tastes, or so I hear."

"I've heard of him," This time it was Xena who interrupted. "In his day, he was one of the most ruthless and dangerous warlords ever to have existed.

"So I've heard." Ephiny muttered dryly. "Now do you wanna hear this story or not?" She asked crossly.

"Alright, no need to have a baby," Teased Gabrielle. "No more interruptions, we promised." Stressing the 'we' she glared at Xena who nodded mutely, suppressing a smile.

"Good, now where was I? Oh yeah, Tristanimus. As I was saying, Tristanimus declared war on the Corthepian Amazons. Two days later, his army invaded Corthepius. At the time of the battle, the Corthepian Amazon Queen was a young warrior called Sariani. Sariani was a great leader and under her command, the Amazon warriors beat Tristanimus' army in a bitter battle that
lasted many moons. Unfortunately, Queen Sariani was killed two days before the Cytherans retreated. She never lived to see her victory. Her only surviving family was her younger sister Nessyna, who became the new Queen."

"Nessyna was only thirteen summers old at the time of the battle but she fought alongside her sister. She showed great skill and strength. This did not go unnoticed by the Amazon army's commander, who took Nessyna under her wing and trained her in the martial arts, swordsmanship and staff fighting. The results were astonishing." Ephiny stopped and looked up at Xena.

"What is it?" The warrior princess asked.

"On the night of Queen Nessyna's sixteenth birthday she was paid a visit by your friend Ares. He offered her unaccountable riches and glory if she joined his army and became its leader but, before he got his answer, Armetis herself intervened and told him to clear off. She then told Nessyna to pack up and get ready to leave Corthepius. The goddess then paid me a visit and
told me to expect a royal visitor. She also told me to send for you, it seems that you are to protect the young Queen." Ephiny finished the story and looked up to see Xena and Gabrielle's reaction. Gabrielle's expression was a mixture of intrigue and excitement. Xena looked like she had just been told that she was adopted. Gabrielle was the first to speak.

"What do you mean by protect?" She asked carefully, tilting her head tilted
slightly to the left.

"It is said that Nessyna's skills and talents are equal, if not better than your own Xena, Armetis wants you to, how do I put it, nurture her potentially destructive powers and teach her how they can be used for good" Ephiny watched Xena's expression again. No one spoke for what seemed like hours. Finally, Gabrielle broke the silence.

"Well I guess that means that we'll be staying here for a while, huh Xena?" Both Gabrielle and Ephiny held their breaths. Xena looked up and smiled slightly.

"I guess you're right Gabrielle," She turned to look at Ephiny. "Well don't just sit there, go get our hut ready." Ephiny smiled, scrambled out of her chair and began making her way towards the door. "Oh and Ephiny?" Xena called her back. "I wanna meet this 'wonder-girl' and see if she's as good as you've made her out to be." Xena finished.

"I can organise a sparring match between the two of you if you like." Ephiny answered.

"Perfect, let me get some shut eye first. We'll schedule it for after lunch." Ephiny nodded and made her way out the door.

<This should be interesting> thought Gabrielle. Reaching for another bread roll. "She sure sounds like something to behold." She said to Xena, who was staring deep into space, deep in thought. She blinked once, then twice.

"Yeah, 16 summers old and she supposed to be able to kick my ass, I don't think so."

"Xena I think you are being a little bit full of yourself. I don't think that Ephiny would have said that Nessyna was that good if she didn't really think so." Gabrielle answered, slightly angry with Xena for dismissing her Regent's opinion so offhandedly.

Xena picked up on this and decided that a change of subject was in order. "It feels good to be back here again Gabrielle, I'm looking forward to our stay. Now, what say you to soft bed and a long sleep?"

Gabrielle noticed the subtle change of the subject but decided to let it go."Me says lead the way!" She answered smiling, following Xena to their what would be their home for a lot longer than anticipated....

To be continued.

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