The Key
(Sequel to "To Conquer the Conqueror")

By Ponyblue


Disclaimers: Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, and any other related characters are the property of MCA, Universal, and their creators. Just borrowing them for a second.

 No copyright infringements intended.

This story contains tough love situations/bondage/domination between two women. It also contains violence.

If you are under 18 or would find this subject matter offensive please look elsewhere for your entertainment. Otherwise read at your own risk.

Out of all the children her two favorite led her to the story chair.
One was little with blond hair and green eyes, the other taller with raven hair and blue eyes.
One an Amazon princess the other Princess to an entire nation.

They weren't related to her by blood, as many of the multitude of family member at the reunion weren't.

Still no one had more right to lay claim on each and every one of them as she did. Her own descendants ruled over Athens and the small Princess to that throne brought her 'The scroll.'

The scroll that now lay in her hand was very old and had to be handled with care. It had been scribed when she was a young woman.
Much older then the three little princesses that sat in the group of children, waiting for the traditional story to be told.
By a bard who had lived the tale.
She'd made it into a fairy tale for the little ones.
Historical scrolls told of a story that was anything but...
Having lived through it the older woman knew the brutal truth.

"Auntie Avia are you going to tell the tale." The children asked.

"Well lets get started. In the beginning...." Avia started her voice not as strong as it used to be.

Every year her sight got a little worse.
She knew the tale in her heart word for word, so she made the pretense of reading from the scroll. She related the fairy tale to the children.
Her mind went thru the brutal truth of it, that was not for a child's ears.
Of how three nations joined together, but was forever separate.

Her mind did not start from the beginning, but rather from the middle.


"WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CAN'T LEAVE." Xena shouted grabbing the nearest Amazon.

"Well at least your learning to control your temper tantrums. I'd have expected you to grab the person nearest you." Teris said.

"That is not funny Teris." Lindy said being the person who was standing next to Xena.

"You said if I cooperated the Queen would release me." Xena said. With each word she banged Ephiny into the tree she had her pinned against.

'What.' Gabrielle thought in shock.

'You mean it all was a lie. No, the way she told me she loved me could not be a lie. What did she say the night before the alliance meeting?' Her mind skipped back to that night.

"I offer you No promises and will tell you no lies." Xena's voice of that night filled her memory.

'So she didn't lie, but what did she say right before that.' Her memory searched again.

"There is only the here and now." Xena's voice of the past reminded her.

'So she wasn't thinking past that moment, but she had to be, and if I had her for that moment why can't I have her for always?' Gabrielle argued with herself closing her eyes tightly.

"Love is for fools. I don't want your love. I just" Xena's past voice taunted her cruelly.

'--but you said it in front of every one. Tell me what you said.' She demanded of the fathom voice as tears squeezed from behind her closed eyelids.

"Your my conqueror and for always I love you." Xena's past voice admitted.

"Then why deny us?" She whispered catching a couple eyes.

"Because love is for fools." The fathom voice whispered in her ears.

"The Queen asked you a question." Teris said nudging Gabrielle out of her thoughts.

"She asked why deny us?" Teris repeated Gabrielle's question knowing full well the girl was talking to her inner self.

"What.....?" Ephiny asked. 'How can she ask that question while this crazed she demon hold her sword at my neck.' Ephiny thought looking to her Queen.

"Xena let Ephiny go. Please." Gabrielle said as she eased over to Xena's side.
She could tell the Warrior was using all her strength not to kill Ephiny.
The muscles in her arm trembled as she resisted the impulse.
Sweat trickled down her brow.
Hate filled blues bore into tortured hazel.

"I told her if you cooperate I would let you go. I did not Intend for her to tell you. I wanted you to cooperate because you started this whole thing up. I thought you allied with the Amazons to stop the hatred and division of the two nations. I thought you was doing this for the Greater Good. Samuels told me that was the reason why you united the nations you ruled once. If anyone deserves the blade you hold upon her it is I." She said.

In a blur of motion Xena dealt a blow to Ephiny's head with the hilt of her sword knocking her out, and grabbed Gabrielle.
For all her anger she could not bring herself to hold her sword on her. Her forearm served as a substitute.

"I want out Queenie or you will die and I will not stop until all of the Amazons are dead. How would Artie like that." She whispered her threat in Gabrielle's ear.

Samuels stood outside of the barrier wondering what happened at one moment he was bringing up the rear of the group of rulers that entered Amazon land for an Alliance.
He was talking to Xena, Lindy was at her side.
Gabrielle and the kid was behind them.
The Amazon royal guard surrounded their Queen .
The next moment they disappeared and there was a dark barrier he could not see past or enter through.
He and Urthro waited to see what would happen.

Suddenly Xena was airborne.
She was thrown into one tree, then another, then another.

'That ought to knock the steam out of her.' Artemess thought having enjoyed it a little to much.

"I am tired of your temper tantrums mortal. I will also not tolerate your treatment of the Queen any further. You will not raise another hand to her in anger again or you will have to deal with me. I created these terms and I will not have her suffer for them."

Xena coughed trying to catch her breath. While nothing was broken she was certainly bruised, her ego included. She watched trying to regain her strength as Artimess advanced on her making sure everyone present heard what she was saying to her.

"Then kill me now." Xena stated not willing to let the goddess know she had the upper hand.

"No." Gabrielle cried out.

Avia broke loose from Eponin's hold.

"Very well." Artimess said softly.

"Nooooo." Avia said throwing her small form in front of Xena.
Pulling her little sword from her scabbard ready to defend her mother whether it be Xena or Gabrielle.

"Step no closer witch or you will feel the fury of my blade!!!" Avia said in a very low, threatening, and precise slightly trembling voice.

Everyone present looked on in shock, as a girl of Ten summers defended Xena the Warrior Princess, Destroyer of Nations, AKA The Conqueror.
A mere child standing defiantly over her injured mother and challenged the Amazon goddess.

Out of all the shocked women present none was more shock then Xena and Gabrielle.
The child's sword seemed to glow. The girls eyes normally green blazed an icy blue as if they'd been chipped out of The warriors eyes themselves.
Artimess smirked.

Another light Shimmered and none other then the Goddess Athena stood behind the child.
All movement froze for all mortals present but one, Teris.
It was just Athena and Artimess speaking.

"Hold Artimess for the child is My chosen. I couldn't have made a better decision, No----. She has the love of Xena Ares Chosen, and Gabrielle Artimess Chosen, Morpheus the God of dreams has marked her and she has conquered him with Teris's help. She's immune to Aphrodite's little puppy loves, so whoever she choose will be forever. She will have my blessings. Can you think of anyone better to choose. Leave her be. It is not her time." With that Athena shimmered out. All was normal again.

Artimess looked to Teris.

"You knew?" She asked.

"I knew." Teris answered.

Ephiny woke in time to see the child step in front of Xena.
Eponin and her watched the exchange between Artimess and Teris and wondered what they missed.

"You stand by and let your mother Xena terrorize any and everyone including your mother Gabrielle, but you can't stand if anyone get out of line with her. Do you think this is right child." Artimess watched the child somewhat amused.

'Athena you are going to have your hands filled with this one.' Artimess thought.

"My mom never hurt Gabrielle. Once when my mom was here Xena crie----mmph." The child was cut off because Xena had covered the girls mouth and grabbed her sword.

"That is enough." Xena hissed in her ear. Pushing the girl behind her.

"What do I have to do to get out of your lands that is all I want to know?" She asked Artimess.

"Simple Warrior. If not anything else you are smart. In order to leave you need to find the key. Listen to your heart it is there. Not all the answer lay at the end of your sword" She told the Warrior.

"The heart can betray but the sword never lie." Xena said openly glaring at Gabrielle before she stalked off.

Lindy walked out from the Barrier. Samuels and Urthro Immediately ran to her.

"What has happened to my lady?" Samuels asked Lindy.

"Well it seems as if The Conqueror is in a bind it is going to take a while for her to get out of. For the first time in a long time I think she will come out better for it. Samuels I'm puzzled by what she told me right before I walked through whatever that is." She gestured to the barrier.

"What did she tell you." Samuels asked her.

"She said if she would have continued as she was The Destroyer of Nations she would have her freedom. Someone told her that what she did best is destroy. She decided to build something productive and it spun out of control, and here she is imprisoned." Lindy looked to Samuels her eyes watering.

"Don't blame yourself Lindy. It's true she planned this whole thing. She knew no one would accept a major change from her. She put me in her place. The Amazons are the cause for things spinning out of control. They won't amend the alliance so that My lady can be released. They feel if she's allowed to leave she will become more destructive. She will not allow me to tell them of her plans, and so we are at a stalemate." Samuels sighed.

"I can't help but feel responsible. I told her all she does is destroy. That she could not do anything productive." Lindy said as they started their trip back home.

"You know I won't worry about it though. Other then that brand she looks good. Gabrielle is great, and Avia I get the feeling she has a destiny to fulfill. Teris assures me it will work out on her word as my daughter. Xena would kill me if she knew that. Maybe it's good she is stuck in there." Lindy laughed.

Upon entering the Amazon Village Xena tried to enter Eponin's hut.
The same dark barrier that appeared at the Amazon borders was now in front of Eponin's hut so she could not take refuge there.

'Fine two can play at this game." She said walking off in a huff deciding to leave the village. The barrier was now surrounding the village.

She watched as the other Amazons made their way back to the village.
She watched as Gabrielle walked into her hut.
Funny the barrier was not there.
She looked around her eyes landed on Avia who was following a couple other young girls to the training grounds.
The barrier was not there.
Neither was it in front of the dining hut.

"Fine." Xena whispered she walked directly into the Queens hut noting that none of the Royal guard tried to stop her.

She took a look around the hut Avia's room was in the back set off to itself with all the fixings of the room for a princess.
The main room for entertaining was big and roomy and the Queens sleeping chambers was on the other side complete with a bath and all the fixings for a Queen.
Xena left the Queens chamber and went into the main room and laid back and relaxed as her mind went over her options.

"Avia---." Gabrielle stopped short seeing that it was Xena and not the child sitting there.

"It seems I am at your mercy Queen. Artimess has blocked me off from every hut but yours. She has also blocked me off from leaving the village. So here I am forced to be with you." Xena said staring coldly at Gabrielle.

"No Xena I spoke with Teris and she says Artemess does not control these barriers only you can see. It is you who control them." Gabrielle said pulling her robe closer around her naked body. She'd just rinsed the grit of the road off herself.

Xena took her state of undress in.

"It seems I am a prisoner as you were in my realm. I allowed you certain freedoms will you deny me the same right." She asked.

"You controlled the conditions there. I do not. I have no idea why you can't leave." She said.

Xena eyes pierced through her. She could feel the anger rolling off the Warrior.

"Don't worry my Queen I have been forbidden not to harm you. I can not leave the village. I can not even stay in the hut I chose. What are your demands My Queen." Xena spat out the words despising herself for her arousal at saying them.

"I have no demands--." She started.

"Oh please come off it. This innocent routine has to go. You think I don't----." She cut Xena off.

"Stop it Xena. Do you think I like this. I was forced to be your slave. You beat me, abused me, humiliated me, every chance you got. At the same time you fed me, clothed me, dinars were no object. You taught me to write and made sure I had all the Quills and Scrolls I wanted. You even gave me a child to care for. An Amazon Nation to protect me. Yet you treat me like I'm lower then Centaur droppings. The latest thing for some reason your forced here with me against your will.. I love you but I don't won't to force anyone to be with me..." Gabrielle choked out.

"Like I forced you." Xena said her voice low.

Gabrielle looked at her but she turned away.

"You forgot rapes, along with the abuse and humiliation." Xena said. Her Guilt was bubbling up.

'Is that remorse?' Gabrielle thought taking Xena in. 'Is it possible that Xena could be sorry for anything. If so she has a lot to be sorry for.' She sat next to her, but Xena flinched away. She got to her feet and started pacing.

"Xena that's something you can leave behind you. I didn't mention it because.....Well, there were times when you really hurt me. I never really denied you either. Not even that first night. I know it sounds bad, but I didn't want you to go to anyone else. I just tried to understand your moods. After our first time here for the most part you haven't been as ....rough as you had been." She said noting the droop to Xena's shoulders.

"I can't stay here Gabrielle. I will not be controlled by Artimess." She shouted.
She wanted to hold the bard, make love to her to show her she could be gentle.
The thought that Artimess may be lingering somewhere making sure she was gentle angered her.

Xena stormed out of the hut.

Avia saw Xena enter her mothers hut. Well both were her moms.

'Its good we stay in Amazonia this two Moms thing could be hard to explain anywhere else.' She thought.

She waited in the hopes that Xena would make up with Gabrielle.
It did not take very long before Xena stormed out of the Queens hut.
Avia tried to stop her to ask if they could go for a ride, grabbing her hand.
Xena slapped the girl in her rage she did not see the child until after the slap. She rushed to the stables and rode off.

The child had been pulled into Gabrielle's arms, and taken to their hut where both mother and daughter cried themselves to sleep.


(The hands of time turn back to 80 years ago)

"She is vicious. How could you defend her after the way she slapped that child." Ephiny snapped at the bard.

Avia was in her room.

She had fallen into a deep depression since Xena had rode off three days ago.

"You do not understand. They have this bond. She sits in there with that damned sword. I didn't agree with Xena giving it to her, but she did and now I can't take it away. She just tells me that her mom told her that she could keep it if she took care of it." Gabrielle said confused.

"Gabrielle I don't know what went on between you two before. I just get the feeling that your were her subordinate. Snap out of it. She doesn't have the power she had before. Stop protecting her. She is to dangerous to be roaming free through our lands. If she was trapped in the immediate area how did she even get out. Sweet Artimess she gave a child of only nine seasons a real sword---!!" Ephiny shouted trying to reach Gabrielle.

"She did not give me the sword, and I am ten seasons. Urthro gave it to me to drill, but it was wooden. One night I was having a nightmare, and a pretty lady appeared out of a shining light. She turned it into a real sword. She said the signs was from the nations my mothers would rule in the future. She said I would have a Nation too, but that My mom had to make it so first. Then my crest would be underneath theirs. She said to tell the bard that my mom's seed would fertilize my mom's womb. That the future of a nation's base would be established. She told me I would not forget the message because she would make me remember it when I needed to say it. The other thing was........... 'Stay true to your heart for you have two Nations behind you. If you do not stay true all will fall and all will be lost." Avia said glaring at Ephiny for screaming at her mom.

Gabrielle turned sharply and looked at Teris.

"What." She asked knowing fully well why Gabrielle had looked at her.

"Don't what me Teris. Xena has been suspicious about you from the start. Now you pop up in Avia's room----." Gabrielle was cut off.

"That's not the pretty lady." Avia told Gabrielle.

"Since you called me a that, I could get offended little one." Teris snapped at the child.

"Still you said those words about staying true to your heart.....Teris I need to know. What or who are you. Your not like the rest of us?" Gabrielle asked.

"Now you call me a what....umph. I can't answer that but you are right. I'm different." Teris said a look of disgust going over her face.

"Teris, I hate to say this. The Queen has asked you a direct question. As Artemess's chosen she deserves an answer." Ephiny said wanting to know for herself once and for all.

"I accept the fact that I am banished. I will collect my things and leave. Because I refuse to answer that question." Teris said immediately standing and walking towards the door.

A blinding light and two gods appeared.

"Answer the question" They spoke as one.

"No." She whispered fiercely. Teris did not turn around she knew who was behind her.

"That's the pretty lady." Avia said pointing out Athena.

"I said answer the question" They spoke as one again firmly.

When Teris turned around again her eyes were full of tears. She refused to look at Ephiny.

"Why now? It is not necessary." The tears spilling over. Her pain showing.

Ephiny wanted to go to Teris but somehow she knew she had to do this by herself.

Another god shimmered into light. In pink lace and nothing else. The goddess of love.

"It is time." Three voices spoke as one.

Aphrodite hugged Teris tightly her normally carefree expression concerned and serious.

Teris's eyes met Gabrielle's.

"All I know is that my family is falling apart and I don't know how to get it back together. I did not mean to start all this. It's okay. Some things should remain private." Gabrielle said overwhelmed by what was going on right before her eyes.

Teris looked down to the floor.
She knew this day would come, but she had hoped not in this lifetime.

The God of War shimmered into light.

"I'm tired of this! Do it." He said coming at Teris.

Artemess and Athena caught him by both of his arms to hold him back.

Teris eyes changed in a way Ephiny had never seen them before.
Not from Teris.
With malevolent hatred and a slightly red glowing tint as she glared at Ares.

"I am the daughter of Lindy. I was brought here by Artemess. To be raised as an Amazon by the Elder Ranin. My own mother rejected me because I was the child of the God of War. My father Ares forced her lust and the result was my conception." Teris said hot tears flowing as she spoke of her lineage.

"I'd of killed myself a long time ago. Since I have his blood it will not work. My mother could love and be a godmother to The Warrior Princess, Ares Chosen. She could not find enough love in her heart to love me. To give me a chance to not be like him. Xena is everything he likes and she's known her since the day she was born." She spat the words out.

"Teris you are the reason why she made Xena a part of her life. She knew you was doing well. It just hurt her to much. She saw Xena as what her child could have been and has made it a point to try her best to help her." Athena tried to explain.

"--And what a disappointment. You couldn't even start to try to take Xena on and your a demigod. A complete and total waste of my seed. No wonder your mother didn't want you." Ares ranted.

Teris looked down her pain cutting through her over and over again.
She loved someone but never spoke of it.
She turned her eyes on Ephiny one last time.
In her first show in the presence of mortals she disappeared in a blinding light.

Aphrodite vanished with her.
The goddess of love knew her niece was in deep pain, and did not want her to be alone.

All the god's flashed out except Artemess.

"She is gone." The goddess said looking at Ephiny.

"I know but she'll be back." Ephiny said as her heart started to shatter.

"No, I mean she is not the person you knew any longer. Ranin will need to be reinstated as the healer. I brought her here because I wanted her to be raised with love. Rainin was barren, but she loved her more then anyone could love a child. The problem with being a demigod is that you have heightened sensibilities. She remembers the conversation between me and her mother the day she was born. Her mother was highly emotional and upset. Teris didn't want to be born. She knew it was the only time her and her mother would be connected. The labor lasted a long time. We were not worried about the child, It was Lindy who we worried might perish if Teris refused to let go. If Lindy died then the child would have to leave her mothers body to survive. When Lindy looked at Teris. The baby features was angry. Lindy did not know the baby was disgusted with herself. Just as her mother was disgusted with herself for hating the part of her own child that was Ares. Lindy thought she was showing Ares tendencies already. She was my niece so Lindy gave her to me. She asked me to give her to some one who could love her. She asked that this person not know anything about her lineage. "Artimess explained.

"You don't think she is coming back." Ephiny asked hurt .

"Raising a demigod is not easy because they're half and half. Ranin did a great job up until now. Let's just hope she does not deny her heritage. Show your love Ephiny. Right now is not the time to hide. Aphrodite blocked off her powers to see love. You have to tell her how you feel." Artimess shimmered out of site.

"Avia go to your training class. Do not repeat anything you just saw and heard." Gabrielle said pushing the girl out the door. "Your in love with Teris?"

"Yes, but I didn't know she was a demigod. Ares daughter. I knew she was different, but she just always been Teris to me. Then to find out Avia is Athena's chosen. Let's see if I got this straight. Your Artimess chosen and our Queen, We knew Xena was Ares chosen, The child is Athena's Chosen, and Teris who has been raised Amazon is Ares daughter. There is a serious breech of security here weighing on Ares side---" Ephiny said sitting down because her legs was shaky.

"Ephiny calm down. You know better then I this is land sacred to Artimess. He has no power here, and Teris may be his child but she is also Lindy's. Up until now she has taken after her mother, right? Don't you see she is scared of everyone's reaction to her now. Remember what Artimess said. She's just as blind to seeing love as we are. Even worse she hates herself. I'm kind of worried about Xena, she is jealous Lindy had an active part in her life." She said biting her lip.

"Wait what do you mean the child is Athena chosen. What child is that?" Gabrielle said in confusion.

"Avia. Didn't you see her confront Artimess when she threw Xena around?" She asked.

"Yes, I'm not following you." Gabrielle said still confused.

"Her eyes changed colors a sure sign of One that is Athena's. Her sword glowed and Athena's crest was clearly visible along with the Amazon's crest and The conquer's crest. The simple presense of Athena's crest in this matter shows that she is her chosen. I thought you was a bard. You should have read that before." Ephiny said smiling at Gabrielle.

"I did not learn to read and write until the Conqueror had me taught. That's something I will always be in debt to her for. In my town they did not want women reading of Athena. Unlike here where the children are taught from a very early age. Women were not equal to men in my home town, and they felt it was a waste of lessons to teach us." She said a shadow of sadness going over her face. "Avia is Athena's chosen. I am truly honored. Things have changed so much since I was brought into Xena's custody. She was so vicious. So Dangerous. She'd kill sooner then look at you. Something changed her. She's not the monster she used to be. I find myself wondering what changed her." She asked Ephiny.

"Love is a very powerful tool." Ephiny said leaving the Queen to herself.


Xena laid down to rest.
She would start to find a way our of the boundaries to the lands of the Amazons upon the rising of the sun.
She'd found a way through the boundaries that surrounded the Amazon village.
Now she had hope that if she took her time going along the borders that enclosed the Amazons land she would find a way out of it too.
She just had to take her time.
She ignored the fact that it could take years.
Even riding Argo hard it had took three days time to get to the outermost edges of Amazon land.

Her mind went over the way she slapped Avia.
The shame that flowed over her.
The fact that if she found a way out she would never have to face the girl or Gabrielle again.
At the same time the remorse and pain of not ever seeing them again

As she was trying to sooth her conscience she felt a presence.
She tensed knowing that it could only be a god, as she turned to see a familiar blinding light.

She would have expected Ares, Artemess, maybe Aphrodite or, even Athena.
Let's face it they've all dropped in on her for one reason or the other.
The being that was looking down on her with an angry red tint to her eyes, was none other then Teris.

She remained on her bedroll, but did not take her eyes off Teris.

'I knew she was no mortal' Xena thought.

Teris cocked her head to the side as to say 'oh really' but she did not say anything just glared down at Xena angrily.

"What do you want Teris. I have a long day tomorrow trying to get out of your lands. I don't have time for this wit...... ahhh." Xena cried out in excruciating unbearable pain.

Her face was turned roughly so she was face to face with Teris.
Who was on top of her with her hand pressed to her stomach.

"Were you going to call me a witch again. I told you I hate that name." Teris said through clinched teeth as she forced another life force into Xena.

"Uhhh.......ahhh." Xena cried out the pain more then any mortal should ever be forced to endure.
She felt as if she was going to bust out of her skin.

"Amazing I do feel some satisfaction from seeing you in pain. Let's see how much more I can get." Teris said her eyes full of hatred.

"Enough, Teris baby end this." Aphrodite materialized placing her hand on Xena's brow taking away a small amount of her pain.

"Uhhh...." Xena breathed a small sigh of relief as she felt even that small amount of pain taken away.

"No....Not quite enough." Teris said forcing yet another Life force into Xena.
Hearing Xena's screams as cries of pain flowed from her trembling lips.
Echoing through the night.

"Your going to kill her Teris." Aphrodite said grabbing Teris hand.

"So be it." Teris said releasing Xena and moving to sit on the other side of the fire.

Aphrodite looked into Xena's eyes. Her screams of pain pulling at her heart.

"Fine Teris you've done what you were supposed to. If you leave her like this all will be loss. She'll never be able to....." Teris cut her off.

"I should care why?" She asked feeling another presence make itself known.

"Because you are a healer. This goes against all you have known." She cried.

"You and the rest of my Olympian family forced me to leave all I have known. Ares you should be so proud. Didn't you say I couldn't even start to take her on." She spat out but despite herself she felt a mixture of satisfaction and disgust for herself at watching Xena writhing in pain. Especially since she could take it away.

"That's my girl. I knew you had it in you. A stroke of genius to use her. Use her destiny against her." Ares said patting Teris on the shoulder.

Xena in her crazed state of mind took hold of her chakram in an effort to end it all.

"Teris is that what you want to be. Because if it is You've become exactly what Lindy thought you would, as you can see you are much more dangerous then Xena. I wouldn't want you either, and Ranin. Can you imagine what this will do to her, and Ephiny. Well, maybe they won't care that you took down Xena. In their minds you would have destroyed a person who'd destroyed nations. What about what you will become after this. You will never be the same. You'll be what she was because let's face it since Gabrielle and the Amazons she has changed for the better. How will that affect you to kill someone who is finding their true self to be good." Aphrodite said as she wrestled with Xena to keep her from taking her own life in an effort to stop the pain that would have killed any other by itself.

Teris sat there and watched Xena with hate filled eyes as she moved to stand over her.
Finally she waved her hand over her and the pain disappeared to almost none at all.

Xena collapsed in relief extremely grateful to Aphrodite.
She was too overwhelmed to speak.

Ares huffed out his disapproval.

Teris knelt at Xena's side.
She noticed how Xena flinched away from her, and why not hadn't she just attacked her.

"Look Xena. That pain you felt will be your death if you do not expel the three life forms I've placed inside you. They are your legacy and if you deny them they will kill you. One will stay inside you until love releases it. The other two will pass through you into the one's you love. That is all I am telling you for now. So as you can see your circumstance has become more difficult. You can't leave because the love of your life who will release you from sure death is here. The longer you deny it the more pain you will be subject to endure." With that Teris shimmered out of sight, and so did the other gods.

Xena was left confused and hurt as she finally passed out.

The next morning she tried with a vengeance to leave but the barrier was not as weak as the one that was surrounding the village.
After a good fifteen days she finally gave up.

She went back to the village.
The barrier surrounding the village was gone.
She got Argo all stabled in and went to the dining hut to get something to eat that she had not killed herself.
Since it had just opened because it was very early, she bypassed the cooks and cooked her own breakfast.
Which was okay because once they got over the shock of seeing her there they ignored her and let her do as she pleased.

She grabbed six or seven wine skins and left the dining hut.
The barriers that had been in front of Eponin's door was also gone, but her door was locked.
Xena kicked it in and slammed it shut once she entered.
Eponin sat up in shock trying to clear her sleep fogged mind.
There was another naked Amazon behind her who was also shocked out of sleep.

"Honey I'm home." Xena said sitting on the extra bed that she had used when she had been staying with Eponin.

Eponin just looked across at her like she'd never seen her before.
The other women behind her was looking her up and down with another kind of hunger.

"Do you not have any respect for anybody. Xena that door was bolted." She said angrily.

"I know I had to kick it in." She said settling down to eat. "I brought enough breakfast for me and you so your lady will have to share yours."

"The door was bolted because I didn't want any interruptions." Eponin snapped getting out of the bed completely naked.
She poured water into a basin and washed the sex from last night from her body.

The woman still sitting in the bed clutching the bed linens to her naked body watched.
She was a little shocked that Eponin showed no signs of lack of privacy, and Xena showed no signs of interest in her that way.
More so since she was getting very warm watching her wash.

"C'mon breakfast is getting cold. I know you all must be hungry the scent of sex hit me before I even came in." She said oblivious to the way Eponin stopped dressing and looked at her with her mouth wide opened.

"Then why did you come in." Eponin shouted.

"Eponin, You have company don't be so rude, and aren't you going to introduce us." Xena said.
She knew she had overstepped her boundaries, but she needed a friend.
Even if she didn't know if she was a friend for sure.
Samuels and Urthro was not accessible and Gabrielle was out of the question.
The kid probably hated her and was to young anyway.

"Rude seems to be the flavor for the day, and No. I'm not going to introduce you." She said glaring at Xena.

"Eponin please, she was wrong to bust in but she's in now and you are being rude. My name is Acher. I came to visit from the Northern Amazon Territory. You can leave her breakfast for me. If you don't mind I'll ask that both of you to wait outside so I can have some privacy." She said.

"You are very gracious unlike present company." Xena said.
The woman did give off an air of eloquence even in her present form of undress.

"Thank you, I've heard you changed your ways. Feel free to come see us anytime." Acher didn't know what made her say that.
She did not envy this village for have the destroyer present. Xena took her breakfast and left Eponin's along with the wine skins, and followed a very sullen Eponin outside to sit on the bench in front of her hut.

"Xena, I'm not going to yell at you. I'm not even going to be mad at you for what you just did. I accept that you think you are above any form of etiquette---." She was cut off.

"I'm sorry. Eponin I'm-----." They both looked up as someone screamed in delight.

"Mommy." The girl barreled into Xena's arms.

If Eponin had not grabbed the breakfast platter it would have been knocked all over them.

"You didn't leave us." The girl started to cry while holding on to Xena tightly.

Eponin looked up to see Gabrielle watching as she continued on to the dining hut.
She made no move to join them.

"I could never leave you." Xena said her heart softened just a little. 'How could someone love so unconditionally. How could I even try to tell her that it's not that I didn't want to leave, but that I couldn't.' She thought.

"Look" She said holding the girl away from her. "I am so sorry that I hurt you. I was angry and I didn't notice it was you. I would never intentionally slap you like that." The child just pulled her sword from her scabbard.

Eponin jumped and so did Acher who had just come out of the hut.
Gabrielle even flinched from just outside of the dining hut.

"Look" The girl said. "I told you I could take care of it." She said holding it so that Xena could see how well she kept the sword.
What confused Xena is that the sword was somewhat bigger then it was the last time she saw it, but it was definitely the same sword.

"Avia do you trust me." She asked the girl solemnly.

"Yes." The girl said just as solemn.

Xena unscrapped the girls sword from her back and fastened it to her waist.

"...but you said I could keep it if I took care of it. I--I did." Avia said disappointment in her voice.

"That's just it. You kept it up so well I want to show it off." Xena lied.

If a lie could ever be good this one definitely qualified.
The girl lit up as she curled up in Xena's lap.

"Can I have my breakfast back.?" Xena asked.

"Sorry I thought you didn't want it anymore." Eponin handed it over. She'd ate half of it.

"You know your getting to big to be sitting in my lap like your a big baby." She told Avia.

"Fine." The girl said mimicking Xena's stoic look, as she slid out of her lap she took the breakfast platter with her and sat next to Xena eating happily.

"Well I guess me eating breakfast just wasn't meant to be. "

Things pretty much went back to normal.
Samuels continued to rule with Xena's advice.
Gabrielle ruled Amazonia.
However she refused to bother Xena for Advice.
Ephiny however did not feel the same and constantly asked for advice.

Teris never came back to the village.
People worried about her, and Ranin never gave up hope that she would see her child again.

Xena kept an eye on Avia's Sword.
It seemed to grow along with the child.
More writings that was not there at first started to become visible, but could not be made out.

Xena had found an old abandoned hut on the outskirts of the Amazon village and moved in.
If someone needed to talk to her she met them at Eponin's.
Her messenger birds from Samuels were trained to bring messages to her window.
Otherwise she stayed in that hut where her cries of pain could not be heard.

Ranin finally got Gabrielle to come in for her long overdue supposedly routine checkup.

"You royal types are all alike. You never want to come in for a moment of your life voluntarily to see if your up to par. You wait until your sick. Then expect us to be able to pull a rabbit out of our hats." She said as she finished up the exam.

"Or they don't come in at all. Just accept that they will die all alone in a hut on the outskirts of Amazonia." Teris voice came from nowhere.

Gabrielle set up alarmed because Eponin told her that Xena moved out of her hut to live in an abandoned hut on the outskirts of Amazonia.

"Teris." Ranin perked up too.


"Wherever your at--you bring yourself out from there. You have a lot of explaining to do." The older woman snapped.

Teris materialized right behind Ephiny's right shoulder.
Ranin took a step towards her but Teris stepped back.

"Don't come any closer Ranin." She said.
She still had the red tint to her eyes.
The proud way in which she held herself before was gone.
She looked injured.
A shell of what she used to be.
"I just came to deliver that message." She said flatly.

Ephiny turned slowly to look at her, but Teris looked straight through her.

"Ranin. What happened to Mom, or at least Elder Ranin." The women snapped. "..And what is this about you leaving your post so I have to take up your slack as your mother, but you call me Ranin. You disrespect me child. I don't care what you are. You shame me....You no one else. Do I mean so little to you. Just because I did not give birth to you. I raised you. Not Ares, or Artemiss or any of those other high and mighty's you've tooken up with. If I mean so little to you then strike me down or leave and never return Miss High and Mighty. You step away from me and all I wanted was to hug my only child." The older women left the hut in tears.

Teris dropped her eyes to the ground.
Eponin came in obviously hurt. Her arm seemed to be broken.

"Teris...ahh sorry I can't be happier to see you but I need assistance and Ranin said something about you tending to it if you weren't to high or something." Eponin said sitting next to Gabrielle.

Gabrielle turned to Ephiny and saw she was having just as hard of time as she was trying to keep from laughing.

Teris looked up at Eponin.

"Teris what have you been drinking your eyes are....glowing." Eponin jumped.

"Teris You know the rules if you abandon your post Elder Ranin has to function as a healer too. You are for all intents and purposes her daughter as far as we're concerned. She has to answer for you as Village healer as well as doubling her load as an Elder. You leaving forces her out of the retirement the rest of the Elders enjoy, or don't you care about any of us mortals now." Ephiny said a definite bite to her statement.

"I don't care what you've been drinking. I don't know what Ephiny is talking about. I'm in pain Teris. Human Misery!" Eponin said expecting at the most a nice splint and some pain relieving herbs.

Teris snapped her fingers toward Eponin and instantly her arm was healed.
The blood disappeared.
The bone mended.
The torn clothing was even mended.
The look of shock on Eponin's face was priceless.

"That's what Ephiny was talking about, and No I'm not drunk." Teris snapped.

Gabrielle hopped off the table pulling Eponin along with her.

"I'll explain it. Thanks for the message. Eponin and I have business to tend to. Teris please don't leave just yet please. Give me your word." She pleaded with Teris.

Teris had to admit it felt good that she was being asked to stay.
After living in a village with people constantly calling on her for help.
She had felt truly alone in the time she was away from the village.

"My word, My Queen for now." She said.

Gabrielle nodded as she dragged Eponin out the door.

Ephiny moved to sit on the table.
She watched as Teris moved around the hut noticing the changes since she left.

"How are you my friend?" Teris did not answer, but she did take a seat next to Ephiny.

"Teris I just want to--." Teris cut her off.

"Ephiny please....just leave. I will continue on until I fulfilled my debt to Ranin. I don't want your sympathy. I don't expect anything. I don't want your friendship, or anything else. I don't need it." She said getting up and going to the back of the hut.

"So that's it." Ephiny said truly hurt.

"Yes." Teris said firmly.

"After all these years you can say that." Ephiny said hopping off the cot.

"All these years have been a lie. Can't you see that." Teris snapped "While all of you have been working hard to find your place here. I did not work hard at all. Not even a sweat. You all thought I had all this knowledge. That I could work wonders. I've made a fool of all of you. In a way you were the biggest fool of all. Because you trusted me." She laughed bitterly.

Ephiny just watched her.

"Fine you won't leave on your own. Please don't come back unless your truly sick." Just as Ephiny was about to try to reason with Teris the healer waved her hand and Ephiny found herself on the horse behind Eponin a good ways from the healers hut.

"What" Eponin asked looking back at Ephiny.

"Teris?" Gabrielle asked shaking her head. She was riding beside Eponin on her own horse.

"Yes." Ephiny choked out past her tears, as she turned away and cried into Eponin's shoulder.

"You can take My horse back and---." Eponin started but Ephiny cut her off.

"No she sent me out here for a reason and I will continue to trust her even though she thinks I am a fool." She said sobbing and keeping her face turned away from them.

Gabrielle was about to say something when she saw Avia and her new best friend ride up to them.

"What are you two doing out here." Eponin snapped.

"That witch lady pop out of no where on the training field and told us to get out here and wait for you." Avia said.

Gabrielle watched the girl.
It seem she was doing all she could to mimic Xena to impress her little friend.
It was cute in a way.
Avia was a little to good at mimicking Xena for Gabrielle's liking.
She made a mental note to do something about that.

"Avia I told you not to call her that. Not only is it untrue it is disrespectful." Gabrielle said.

"..but my mom--." Avia started.

"Your mom is not always right." Gabrielle snapped.

"Aint that the truth." Ephiny huffed under her breath.

"Avia follow me right now." Eponin snapped.

The rest of them continued on.
Avia's little friend fell in alongside Gabrielle.
When Eponin and Avia returned.
Avia wasn't as cocky as she was before.
After a while she and her friend fell back to take up the rear.
Gabrielle signaled Eponin to come closer.

"What did you say to her. I've been having a small problem with her lately." Gabrielle asked.

"Oh she's just growing up. Xena aint all that great of a role model when it comes to manners and a couple other things. The last time me and Avia saw Xena I was with them. Xena warned Avia to Respect Teris and not to call her a witch. She referred to Teris 'going off the deep end' what ever that means---." They were cut off by a cry of pain.
Eponin motioned to the hut that was just off the road.

The door was off the hinges and the place looked like a dump from the outside.
Although it was quite pleasant on the inside as they walked in.

"Get out." Xena bellowed from the bed where she lay balled up in the fetal position.
Spasms of pain going through her.

Gabrielle's heart broke seeing her like that.

"Xena what's wrong." She asked.

"You are." She snapped. "I was okay until you came along." Xena shouted angrily. Turning away from them.

Part 2

Part II

©2001 Ponyblue

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