To Conquer the Conqueror
Part 3

by Ponyblue

Disclaimers: Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, Artemess, Ares, Ephiny, Eponin and Solari 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/domination between two women.

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

Xena sat on her throne. It was midday she had not slept all night. It was the worry of this very moment that had kept her up. Now it was time.

Gabrielle entered the room eyes downcast she knelt before Xena.

"What have you to say for yourself?" Xena asked.

"I am sorry for disobeying my lady when she told me to stop. I had no right to take such liberties." Gabrielle said.

Xena was having a hard time with this whole thing. Her face was starting to get warm. She stood extremely aggravated.

"Actually, I do not plan on handing down a punishment." She said moving to stand just off the girl's right side.

She knelt then whispered in the girl's ear.

"Last night was a nice little distraction." Hissing more forceful. "Don't you ever again in this life lay a hand on me in any way without my permission, if I ever tell you to stop and you ignore me again your life is forfeit." She stood noticing the slight shiver that ran through the girl.

"Understood My lady." Gabrielle said relieved that her life was not already forfeit.

"Good." Xena said sitting back on the throne she watched the girl closely. "Look up slave I want to see your eyes."

'The conqueror is back and I may have been the one who forced her out.' Gabrielle thought.

"Samuels." Xena waved him forward.

Samuels stepped forward hands clasped behind his back. The girl looked from Xena to him.

"Amazon guards from Amazonia will be arriving upon the rising of the sun. They are coming for you. From here on you will be spending an allotted time with the amazons to train in combat and also they're way of life. When you return you will take on your regular duties until they come for you again." Samuels stepped back.

Gabrielle turned to Xena who had noticed the look of apprehension that went over the girl's face.

"My lady—but you said you was not going to hand down a punishment." She cried almost whining.

"This is not a punishment." Xena stated studying the girl carefully.

"—But...My lady---." Xena cut her off.

"This is not open for discussion. Samuels will brief you on the way you should behave there. You will report to him. Upon return you'll demonstrate everything they taught you. He'll relay that information to me. You will not hold back any kind of information. You are excused." Xena dismissed her with a wave of her hand.

Gabrielle stood and was about to walk away but stopped.

"Gabrielle you have become a little to brazen. Now if you know what's---." Gabrielle cut her off.

The girl was feeling wave after wave of fear at leaving the shelter of the conquerors land. Granted Amazons would protect her but they were not Xena. She knew she would be punished but if it meant the conqueror would send another woman under her command it would be worth it.

"My lady----." Xena silenced her with a hiss.

Before Gabrielle knew what was happening she found her legs was no longer underneath her and she braced for the impact just before she hit the ground.

Just as quickly Xena was on top of her. She would have grabbed her by her slave collar but she had never put another one around her neck so she grabbed her collar of the gown she was wearing.

"Why are you testing me. Do you have a death wish." Xena hissed angrily. "Just who in Hades do you think you are to keep challenging my authority." She shook Gabrielle.

Artemess whispered in Xena's ear.

"Calm down murderer. It won't due for the girl to show up in Amazonia all bruised up. If she is sullen with my amazons she'll get over it. Let her go!"

Xena glared into the girls slightly watering eyes ignoring Artemess. She knew she was scared to leave the protection of her gates. In a way she could not blame her.

"My lady I don't trust them. I mean no dishonor." Gabrielle whispered turning her face from Xena's piercing stare.

"You mean you are scared." Xena sneered hotly in her ear.

Gabrielle closed her eyes her shame plainly evident by the red tint blazing her cheeks. This was not lost on Xena.

"If you bring shame on me I'll give you a reason to truly be scared. I do not ask for your trust. I have no reason to prove my decisions to my whore. I took the time and Manpower to find you a month ago and make sure you were well. It is not for you to trust the Amazons because I do. Now you will go and you will put forth 100% or so help me you will answer to me." Xena spat the words at her. Dragging her to her feet and all but throwing her towards the door.

"The only excuse I'll accept for you not being ready when Urthro comes for you on the morning is death itself." She shouted to the girls retreating form.

Later that night Xena sent a messenger pigeon to Ephiny. The message gave her the okay to tell Gabrielle she was to be their Queen. She was hoping that would distract the girl from her fear.

Xena and Samuels tracked the Amazons from her territory to their borders. The Amazons had a series of shorcuts that allowed them to make it to their borders in record time to Xena's disappointment. They were not crossing into Amazon territory. Xena stole one more look at Gabrielle confident in her concealment. They were dangerously close to the Amazons

She had noticed that the one named Solari had got the bard to tell them a story. Up until then Gabrielle had looked so sad. She had constantly looked around like she was waiting for an ambush at every step.

As the Amazons rode into their territory Xena watched on proudly noticing the girl was handling her horse a lot better then when she'd first started.

Xena got the uneasy feeling she was being watched and turned to see Teris looking right in her eyes.

'That is impossible she could not possibly see me from this distance underneath all this cover' Xena thought amazed as she froze all movement.

Teris nodded slightly bringing a finger to her lips in a ssshhh motion then winked.

Xena's jaw dropped as she watched Teris spur her horse to a full gallop to catch up with the others

When they were out of sight Samuels spoke up.

"Did you see that? That Amazon Witch saw us." He huffed in amazement.

"It just goes to show you should never become overconfident." She said as they made their way to their horses.

"Have you noticed how quickly we made it to their borders." Xena pointed out.

"They have been very vague as to how close their borders are to mine. First thing tomorrow I want scouters to make sure our borders are secure and have not been compromised." She ordered. She was missing the girl already.

Gabrielle was so worried she had only got a small amount of sleep. Then Urthro was waking her, rushing her to get ready so he could familiarize her with the horse he made ready for her. "I assure you he is a strong mount but he has a gentle soul. I've even promised the kid she could learn to ride on him." He said patting the horse reassuringly.

"My liege order that all the bags be filled for your trip." He said opening one of the saddlebags.

"Here." He motioned to the girl.

Gabrielle looked in the saddlebag.

"She personally stocked this bag with a couple scrolls from her library. As well as fresh scrolls, quills, and ink." He made a point of letting her know. Noticing the slight smile.

The amazon's had been feeding and resting their horses. Teris and Solari walked up to them. Teris nodded to Urthro but did not speak to him.

"If you do not mind we need to be getting on our way. There is much to do." Teris spoke to Gabrielle. She watched as Urthro helped her onto the horse. Placing the reins in her hand and gave her some last minute pointers.

'Go ahead and baby her for now.' Teris thought throwing Urthro a dirty look.

'It is that kind of treatment that made the girl a victim a month ago.' Teris thought bitterly.

Gabrielle kept having the distinct feeling that the Conqueror was watching her, as she fought her tears back. She kept trying to catch a glimpse of her as they rode towards Amazon territory.

Solari kept trying to get her to talk. So, she asked them if they wanted to hear a story to past the time. When she finished the story they'd crossed over onto Amazon land. The presence she though was Xena was gone, so she dismissed it as her imagination. She could not help but notice how quickly they'd made it here. She had been taking mental notes the whole time. She would map it out on one of her fresh scrolls when she got a moment to herself.

Once they crossed Amazon borders they broke into a fierce gallop. It was all Gabrielle could do to keep up and on her saddle. They rode for what seemed like forever and just when Gabrielle thought she would drop the village came into view.

'Just a little bit longer' She kept telling herself.

When finally they did make it Gabrielle dismounted all but falling from the horse. She wanted to rest for a second but was urged to take care of her horse and settle him in the stable.

Gabrielle remembered that Xena always settled her horse after a ride even though her stable boys could do it.

Solari then directed her to grab her saddlebags and whatever else she wanted and she'd be shown her quarters.

Solari stopped her in front of the door to her hut and took her bags and gear and sat them just inside of the door and closed it. She then motioned to the woman who was walking towards them.

"Eponin, this is Gabrielle. You were not here when she was here before. Gabrielle this is Eponin our Guards Master. I will hand you over to her capable hands. I may see you for the evening meal, if not good night." She said bowing her head and walking away.

'Why is she bowing.' Gabrielle thought.

Eponin bowed too.

"My lady, Reagent Ephiny wish to see you in the Elders Hall. I will show you the way." Ephiny said leading the way.

As Gabrielle followed she could not help but berate herself for not being grateful to get away from Xena.

Once she got to the great halls of the Elders she was seated. She recognized Ephiny and Teris. The other three older women she did not recognize at all.

She was seated in the very seat Xena had been seated in a month ago. Eponin stood at her right.

Ephiny looked down the table at the small women.

"Gabrielle, I guess you are wondering why you are here." She asked the girl gently.

Gabrielle did not speak she just nodded.

"Simply put you are to be our new Queen. The destroyer lay claim to you and will give you a week out of every month to rule. In your absence I will rule." Ephiny allowed a moment for this information to sink into the girl's head.

"This is a joke?" The girl questioned in disbelief.

"So you do have a voice. I was starting to think you was mute, and NO, this is not a joke." Ephiny informed her.

"Does Xena know about this?" She asked quietly.

"Yes. As a matter of fact she has agreed to the terms in the scroll sitting in front of you. She swore to it on her word and in your name. Am I correct in thinking she speaks for you." Ephiny asked


"Yes she does." Gabrielle said opening the scroll.

'She's playing a joke on me with these people's lives.' She thought disgusted then looked at the faces around her.

"I understand this may be a shock to you. A lot of thought and planning went into this." Ephiny assured her

'So this is why she wanted me to learn to read. I thought it was because she wanted me to learn something I loved. It was so I can spy.' Gabrielle thought bitterly.

'No, I bet this is some kind of test and if it is I will figure it out. I don't know what kind of test it is but I'll show her I can handle it.' Gabrielle thought.

Teris stood suddenly.

"Well my fellow Elders, Reagent, Eponin."

She turned to Gabrielle bowing.

"My Queen, since we are running late I would suggest getting things underway so My Queen can eat lunch." She stated.

"If you will follow Eponin she will get you on your way. Ephiny you may want to accompany them. You know let her know what is expected of her for now." Teris directed.

The rest of the day went like clockwork. First was the Royal deep cleansing bath. Complete with servants. Gabrielle did not like the thought of others bathing her. Ephiny explained that it was tradition and they would not deviate from tradition. Then came lunch, and on to the training grounds with Eponin.

She was taught defensive moves. Eponin made sure the bard knew the physics behind them and when to use them.

Four hours later dinner was served on the training field. Eponin motioned her over to the corner where it was laid out on a blanket.

"Come my Queen. They've sent plenty for your healthy appetite." She said as the bard collapse on the blanket. She watched as the Queen ate quietly. The bard made no attempts to start or hold a conversation.

Gabrielle was not comfortable with Eponin. She reminded her of Xena a little. Only thing was Eponin lacked the abusive nature of the conqueror. She trained Gabrielle patiently. In all fairness to Xena she did not know if she was patient in this kind of setting. She could feel the Guard Master watching her closely.

After the meal Eponin stood it was time to get to work.

"My Queen, Having been in the Conquerors realm as you have I know you noticed that in combat warriors can get quite verbal." She said moving back and going through a series of moves punctuated by a cry straight from her gut. Some low and some high in pitch depending on the move she was executing.

"These sounds come from focus and following through on an action. They start in your gut as you focus on what you're doing and end in a battle cry as you follow through. It is a releasing of the energy you put into the action. I want you to focus on each move we go through and end the action with a release." She said.

"What." Gabrielle said wearily. She had been riding horses and sparing with this Amazon all day. All she wanted to do was go to sleep.

"What do you want me to repeat?" Eponin asked. She knew the girl was tired but she had been put in charge of molding her into an Amazon Warrior then honing her skills so no one would dare challenge her.

"I heard what you said. I just-----." Gabrielle looked away.

"There is no need to be shy here." Eponin encouraged her.

"Believe me I am not shy. I just couldn't start to know how..." She said catching the staff Eponin tossed her.

"You've seen the conqueror fight?" Eponin asked.

"Yes, why?" Gabrielle asked suspiciously.

"I've heard her War cry is legendary! I've heard she is a very vocal Warrior. The sounds are intended to be your source of focus but, it also can serve to intimidate your opponent, camouflage a cry of pain, be a sound of a victory, or a sound of frustration." She explained to the bard.

"How much longer will we be training." Gabrielle asked dejectedly.

"Until you've reach the goal I've set for you." Eponin stated.

"uuuhhh." Gabrielle exclaimed dejectedly.

"See your getting the idea." Eponin laughed.

Gabrielle felt herself laughing too---and it felt good.

All Gabrielle's time was spent with Eponin sparing, horseback riding or some form of physical training. When she was released late in the night she was so tired she would just fall into the bed and sleep. She did not have any time to herself. She did not even get the chance to explore anything in her quarters but her bed. On the seventh moon of her stay in Amazonia, Eponin had her pack her bags up and place them in the stables before she let her retire to her hut. On the seventh morning she saddled her horse and with all the bags in place she started out with Teris, Solari and the three royal guards back home.

She was going to gladly give up her Queen's stature to go home to her Conqueror.

Xena had precious little to keep herself occupied with. The kid took up some of her time. She helped her adjust to life in her residence, but the kid's schedule kept her busy with all the lessons Xena decided her child should have.

Her Generals was busy making sure her malitia stayed in tiptop shape.

In peaceful times her lands were thriving. Her alliance with the Amazons made her enemies very wary. Where as they feared her Army, and they feared the amazons. The two forces joined simply were not worth the trouble. They backed off both Nations for easier pickings.

So once again Xena became Quiet and brooding. She was extra hard on Challis and his Elite and her household servants.

Finally after Samuels finished his visit with Challis in the healers chambers he decided he had to distract Xena for the next four moons then Gabrielle would be back.

Xena was on her balcony. Her thought's far away in the land of Amazonia. The evening breeze flowed over her as she looked out into the night.

Samuels sent a servant girl into the room and retreated closing the door behind him. The girl entered and knelt on the mat reserved for Gabrielle.

Xena knew she was there she could feel the girls fear. Not like Gabrielle. She only felt this kind of fear from her after she'd pushed her limits.

'This girl is no Gabrielle.' She thought.

"My lord, your pleasure is my pleasure." The girl said catching her breath as Xena turned and looked at her.

"Who sent you wench." Xena scowled for affect. The girl was kind of cute.

"Lord Samuels." She stated transfixed. The Conqueror seemed to exude a darkness as deep as the night behind her.

"What is the purpose of your visit slave?" Xena said circling the girl. She knew fully well the answer.

"To bring my lady pleasure." She said bowing her head.

Xena walked backed out on the balcony. Maybe if the girl had been in the bed, but for her to kneel where Gabrielle knelt turned Xena off completely.

"I do not need any pleasure you could offer me on this night. So be a good girl and go away. Find Samuels and tell him that if he feels I need pleasure then he should be man enough to deliver it. Then tell him I want him in my quarters, Now!" She said in a toneless voice as the girl bowed out of the room.

He must have been close by because it did not take long for him to arrive

"My liege." Samuel's appeared at full attention with the door wide opened.

"Shut the door Cupid." Xena told him with a purr.

He shut the door hesitantly.

Xena circled him stopping with his back facing her.

"Did you get my message lover boy." She whispered hotly in his ear.

"My liege---." Samuels started a little too loud.

"I want you to know something Samuels." She said moving to stand on the balcony again.

"I don't need you or anyone else to pick someone for me to be intimate with. That by no means is none of your concern." She said letting him off the hook.

"My liege, may I speak freely." Samuels said wondering if it was a good idea. Xena had ripped through Challis like a harpee out of hades simply for a comment about the alliance with the Amazons.

"You're my first I would hope you could speaks freely when it counts." She said wearily.

"Yes but Challis----." Samuels was cut off.

"Challis was long overdue. Speak your mind or leave me to my thoughts Samuels." She said firmly.

"She is an Amazon Queen, okay. There was no way of knowing that when we acquired her. I suggest you let her go." Samuels said.

"No." Xena said shaking her head

"She is going to change. She has to. They will want their Queen to be a Queen full time. We should break this Alliance. Others already know you have a weakness for her. My liege let her go or do what you have to do to win her heart. If not she is going to break you." Samuels stood his ground as Xena whirled on him.

"No, and I want tell you any more. She is mine I do not need to win anything that is already mine. I will not break the alliance. I gave my word to withhold it, understood!" She glared at him.

"Yes, My lady." He said gently. For the first time he could see the conqueror was in love. "I will not bring it up any more."

She turned to look back out on the night.

"I thank you now please leave me to my thoughts." She said.

He left quietly.

"GET OUT!!!!!!" An outraged yell could be heard from the outside of the conqueror's chambers. Seconds later Urthro witnessed a naked soldier being thrown out of her quarters.

'Thank the gods Gabrielle gets back on the morrow. I don't think my lady could take one more day without her.' He thought. Retiring for the night.

Xena sat in the scalding hot water scrubbing her skin until it was almost raw.

'What made me think that someone else could please me as she do.' She thought trying to scrub any evidence of the soldier's caresses and kisses from her body.

It was not his fault his every touch reminded her that he was not she, so she threw him out without even trying to go further. He would have been a very good lover if she had not met Gabrielle yet.

She had not even tried to have a woman on this night she knew that was not possible. Not after having Gabrielle.

Xena splashed out of the bath toweling off her tender skin just as vigorous as she had scrubbed it in the bath. She did not bother to put on a shift. She burrowed into the comforters and furs on the bed.

'I know she is enjoying herself with those Amazon's. Away from the hated and ruthless Conqueror.' She thought. Her tortured heart screaming out form the pain as she tossed and turned half the night away.

'The precious little fucking Queen. She has her choice of lovers in that damned Village. She's probably having some kind of ritual ORGY right now.' Xena got out of her bed in a panic.

She stood on the balcony as the cool night air bit into her naked skin. Her warm tears chilling as they ran down her face.

'But what if she is looking at this same moon missing you as well.' Artemess whispered in her ear, retreating quickly knowing Xena's heightened senses.

The warrior was to upset and the last thing she wanted was for her to go back on the alliance due to a fit of jealousy.

'Samuels is right.' She thought as she burrowed once more into her furs.

'I need to end this alliance. I need to lock her away from everyone. She shows to many of my weaknesses. Is that what Artemess plan is? I attacked one of my best Mercenaries for challenging the Alliance. He is now out of commission. Is Gabrielle a sorceress, I know Teris is something unnatural.' The warrior's sleep depraved mind entertained irrational thoughts.

"Someone is probably treating her to the feel of true love---." The Warrior broke into heart wrenching sobs.

"My lady..." A small tearful voice sounded out in the darkness. Through Xena's tears she recognized the kid's voice. She tried to reign in her emotions.

"What are you doing out of bed." Xena snapped angrily. Snagging her sleeping shift and pulling it over her head.

"I could not sleep. I was going to---." Xena cut her off sharply.

"Go back to bed, Now!" Xena said sharply feeling her control returning to her.

The girl stood there ringing her fingers.

Xena got out of the bed and stood pulling a robe over her sleeping shift. She took the kids hand and they raided the cooks pastry pantry. After she felt the child was sufficiently stuffed. She pulled her into her lap and told her one of the stories she'd heard Gabrielle tell the other children. When the child fell into a slumber she carried her back to her room.

She looked around the room. It was furnished for functionality. What caught Xena's attention the most was the wooden sword and body armor fashioned after her own sitting in the corner. She had not authorized that, but her men were following the words she'd spoken on the day she'd taken up the care of the child.

'Is it right to raise this child to be like me.' She wondered as she returned to her own chambers.

She looked around the room at the evidence of her torment before the child appeared. As she lay across the bed she decided to give up on sleep and devise a way out of the alliance.

Artemess waved her hand, taking pity on the Warrior. Xena slept. Artemess eyes tinted the same deep blue as Xena's and widened. She opened the warrior's sub conscience mind, and pulled into her conscience mind a dream she would have never remembered in her waking hours. Artemess eyes went back to normal as a smirk formed on her face.

"How interesting." She said as she disappeared.

Gabrielle got back the next night. It was late and she feared Xena did not wait up for her. She ached to see her Warrior but did not dare to disturb her.

The next day passed.

The kid had came to see her as soon as her lessons and chores were done. They both laughed at how mad the cook was about Xena and her raiding the pastry pantry last moon.

Lindy looked her over to make sure she was okay.

Samuel's met her for debriefing, but no Xena.

She felt her presence very strongly at times but no sign of her.

Xena woke in a panic a very disturbing dream of Gabrielle and her strong in her mind.

Her heart hardened towards the girl, as she did her best to deny the dream and push it to the back of her mind.

All the same she tried to pull herself together. She did her normal day to day duties and retired early. She was so tempted to meet Gabrielle and the Amazons at the gate, but she decided that would be a show of weakness.

The next day went much like the day before. From time to time she allowed herself to watch the girl from the shadows.

Feeling she was not quite ready to face the girl on this night she retired early again.

She was standing on the balcony when she heard the door open. She shrunk into the shadows, her heart quickening as she saw Gabrielle enter. At the same time she felt a cold malevolence towards the girl. She blamed her for the torment she'd felt in her absence. She blamed her for the dream and the love she felt that she did not want.

Gabrielle entered Xena's chambers. She had not been summoned and she'd probably be punished for the intrusion, but she needed to see her.

She stood inside the entrance. A bath had been brought in but the Conqueror had already used it. She'd already eaten too from the empty dishes. The room was in a state of disarray. She called in two servants and had them remove the bath and she placed the empty dishes outside the door. She continued to straighten up the room.

She felt the Conqueror presence but she knew better then to acknowledge it. She took her place on her mat and waited.

She waited for a half of turn of the sand, nothing.

She gave up deciding that the Conqueror either did not want her at the moment, or she was going crazy and feeling things that was not there.

She decided to leave before she embarrassed herself further. Just as she reached for the door It happened!!!

Xena attacked savagely punishing the innocent bard for her dream of submission and the love she felt for her.

She did not bother to remove or more likely rip the bard's clothes away as she ravaged her body urgently.

Through it all, the pain, the cries, the tears, and Yes the arousal, and the climax. The bard clung to Xena with all her heart and would not let go until Xena forced her away.

Xena's heart pounded fiercely as she stood over the bard. She could not bring herself to orgasm she was too tense. This served to leave an edge on her anger. She grabbed the girl and threw her to the floor.

"On your rug slave and be quick about it." Xena sneered as Gabrielle took her place.

"So they told you have they not." Xena demanded cutting her off as she started to answer.

"They must have. You decided to enter my chambers without being summoned. Is that it MY QUEEN." Xena said sarcastically.

"No My Lord. I was worried. You---I had expected to---be summoned---my apologies My lady." Gabrielle stammered.

Xena grabbed her by the neck.

"Oh it's to late for apologies My Whore. You've already intruded." She slapped the girl knocking her to the ground.

"On your knees slave, Stand you're ground proud Queen." She sneered her jealousy showing.

"So I guess they served your every need?" She looked down at the girls bowed head. When she did not answer Xena snatched her head back by her hair forcing her to look at her.

"Answer me." She looked her in the eyes and saw sadness.

"Yes, they did." She tried to avert her eyes.

"Don't you dare look away from me." Xena demanded. "You didn't want to come back did you. Probably got your own little whore that was more then happy to bed her Queen, MY WHORE." She said knocking the girl to the floor once more.

Gabrielle quickly took her position once more as Xena went to stand on the balcony. She could see the warrior was very high strung.

"My lady, please don't send me back." She said quietly.

Xena turned shocked. The girl had bowed her head again.

'She is mocking me' Xena thought as she struck out lunging for the girl.

The reflexes Gabrielle had developed in the past week took over. She reacted without thought catching Xena's arm she went limp, which cause Xena to land behind her, hard! She flipped onto Xena's back bringing her arm up between her shoulder blades.

Xena was overwhelmed to the point it took her a moment to recover.

Gabrielle was horrified. She released Xena's arm and moved off her.

Xena turned and looked up at her. They're eyes locked.

To Gabrielle's horror she noticed Xena's bloodied nose, and how unreadable her eyes had become. She did not know what to do so she moved back on to the rug kneeling, her head bowed.

"My lady please forgive me. It is never my intention to hurt you." She cried her eyes watering.

Xena moved to her hands and knees a predatory glint in her eyes she crawled to the girl's side, but she said nothing.

"I'm sorry." Gabrielle whispered softly.

Xena stood in front of the bard parting her robe. She grabbed Gabrielle by her shoulders. As she felt her mouth start to work it's spell she let her head drop back. The sheer pleasure that had been denied her while the bard was gone washed over her as her eyes rolled back. She braced her knees against the bard's body to keep them from buckling. Nothing could stop the cry that was forced from her lungs as she finally released. It shook her to the very bone. She held on to the bard until she felt her strength come back.

She knelt in front of the bard wiping her juices from Gabrielle's mouth.

"Oh you're going back. I promise you that." She said cryptically. Her voice never betrayed the feelings mounting inside as she dismissed the tearful bard.

With shame she saw that the Amazons were holding up to their side of the agreement and she was letting her feelings get in the way.

Time passed everything was peaceful.

Gabrielle performed her duties and went out of her way to please Xena, but something had changed.

Gabrielle was summoned to Xena's quarters late in the night. She knelt on her rug. Xena circled her slowly.

There was a knock and she heard a noise as the guard handed Xena something. The door was closed and she came to stand in front of the bard. In her hand she held two fighting staffs and a package wrapped in parchment.

She dropped the package in front of Gabrielle and indicated for her to open it.

She opened it but looked at both amazon outfits with disdain.

Xena could not help but remember how the bard had looked when she opened the package with her quills and scrolls inside. There was no doubt about it she did not like this package.

"Do you not like your gift from the Amazons." She teased the bard.

Gabrielle said nothing.

"They also sent you this staff it is for the Queen of the Amazons and its marks identify you as such." She said tossing it on her bed.

Xena never let her touch the Queens staff. Instead she dropped the other staff she held in front of her like it was an old stick, but the staff was very solid and exquisite. She looked down at the staff and the outfits, one for the journey there the other for the journey back.

Gabrielle opened her mouth to protest but Xena placed a finger to her lips. A disapproving look on her face.

"Believe me Amazon you don't want to make me mad on this night." She said to Gabrielle.

"Accept that title you are one of them now." She said retrieving a wineskin and taking a deep swallow.

"Not by birth." Gabrielle stated plainly.

"By my decree and you must forget who I am amazon. I am tiring of these arguments." Xena reigned in her temper and took another swallow of wine.

"The Amazons are an important alliance to me. They are under my flag of protection. You were chosen as their Queen. The peace you see is because of this alliance. You will not question my motives as far as the Amazons go. You will follow my lead to the letter. You can not take the Queens staff. I wish you to take this one." She indicated the staff lying on top of the parchment.

"As you can see my crest is at the top. Ephiny Okayed the Amazon engravement's underneath. My staff is better balanced the Queens staff is for a more experienced fighter. You are not deserving of it yet. I will keep it until that time and you will keep my staff with you at all time from now on. Your escorts are here but not in my residence. Anything I do in front of your Amazon's is so they will respect you to the utmost. It is very important that their allegiance is to you. You're to remember your allegiance is to me. You are the balance My Slave. Don't let your head get too big. I am doing this because I want you to have them to protect you. I can not be rescuing you every minute. My enemies set you up as a target. You are my possession and no one will take you from me. When I bore of you I will let you go." She said with narrowed eyes.

"Now report to me here in the morning as you are now. Dressed with your staff and I'll take you to your Amazons. Look at me slave." She said.

Gabrielle looked up into Xena's hard stare.

"I want you to make me proud. Leave me now." She said.

Gabrielle did as she was told and all to soon was on horseback on her way to Amazonia. Her second visit was much like the first as far as training went. Immediately her and Eponin started clashing. She openly voiced her objection to training day in and day out. She did as she was told but made a point to let both Ephiny and Eponin know she did not like it. Yet she never challenged them in the presence of others.

Ephiny found herself in the middle of the whole thing. She tried to explain to Gabrielle why it was so important that they train her in this way. At the same time she tried to get Eponin to be a little more patient.

By the fourth day Gabrielle's defiance serve to grate on each and every nerve Eponin tried to keep calm. She was making a parody out of her training.

Ephiny was standing there watching them clash yet one more time

but, to her horror, this time Eponin did not resist the impulse to throttle the girl. Ephiny pulled her off with great difficulty.

"I will not train that brat any longer." Eponin roared as she tried to catch her breath. "She has no respect for my skills.

"Your skills are nothing compared to My---Xena's. I did not think teach meant not even give me a chance to use the skills you claim to teach me." Gabrielle shouted back.

Ephiny looked at the girl on the one hand she was glad she was finding her voice again. On the other hand the training was very necessary.

The two went at it for a while finally Ephiny sent Eponin away and trained Gabrielle herself. After the evening meal she handed her over to Solari for horseback training.

'Maybe they clashed because they were together all day long' She thought as she found Eponin in an attempt to make her change her mind. She would not.

She caught Gabrielle as she dragged her tired form towards her hut and tried to get her to apologize to Eponin. She would not.

Ephiny and Solari continued her training, but she knew they were only second best if that.

Finally Ephiny sent a messenger pigeon to Xena asking her what her opinion on this situation would be.

Xena sent her reply back immediately.

The next day Ephiny dragged Eponin out of bed. She told her they were both going to accompany Gabrielle back to the land of the Conqueror.


The guards led them to the training ground. No one but they're ruler was there. All training sessions having been done in the morning. The grounds were now strictly off limits. The destroyer amazingly enough gave them the day off.

Eponin, Ephiny, Gabrielle, and the entire royal guard stood in awe as Xena finished her meditation state. Limbs flowing smoothly almost as if she were dancing.

They were all caught up in the beauty that was The Warrior Princess. She knew they were there even though her eyes had not opened. Suddenly....


They all jumped to their defenses.

Gabrielle was even startled and amazed. From such a peaceful state Xena went into an all out routine of jabs, punches, and flips.

'No wonder she has no respect for my training.' Eponin thought now humbled as she watched the warrior harpee do things seemingly impossible.

Gabrielle saw the look and was now ashamed for what she'd said.

The thought was driven from her head as Xena flipped through the air landing at her feet she dropped to one knee. Xena then took her hand and turned it over and planted a warm kiss on it.

"My lady." She said clearly as she bowed her head. "I am glad your journey was a safe one"

"uhhhh" Gabrielle said shocked. She'd never seen Xena on bended knee. Xena squeezed her hand hoping she remembered the conversation they had before Gabrielle had left.

Gabrielle did.

"I am so very glad to be back. On your feet Warrior you do not need to be so formal. We interrupted you." Gabrielle said hoping she had covered her mistake.

Xena got to her feet. Gabrielle introduced her to everyone. Xena nodded politely as she passed them but her eyes remained cold.

Gabrielle noticed with pride how the royal guard could not seem to keep their eyes off Xena.

"Ephiny." Xena remembered the demanding regent and did not need an introduction. They eyed each other coldly.

"Warrior, I see you're fairing well since our alliance. It seems our forces have strengthened as well." Ephiny offered as close to a thank you as she was going to give the destroyer.

"Your welcome." Xena said sarcastically an arrogant smile touching her lips, but the smile did not reach her eyes until she came to step in front of Eponin.

Gabrielle had never seen Xena favor anyone with such a friendly look. Least of all her, well especially not her. She felt a pang of jealousy.

"You must be the guard master that refuse to train Gabrielle. The infamous Eponin. Your reputation does proceed you amazon." Xena let her eyes move over Eponin noting the scars from battle, the compact muscular body, and the proud stance.

'My little one needs to be brought down a peg or two. Of all the people to challenge she picks not just a guard master but an Amazon guard master.' Xena thought.

"I do not understand you amazons. Is this not disloyal to your queen? How will she defend herself? Really, how could you defy Artemess chosen?" Xena asked her eyes settling on Ephiny. Her statement dripping with sarcasm.

Gabrielle stood a little more proud now. This was the first she'd heard of herself being Artemess chosen. Even though she wanted to ask Xena what she meant by this, she knew she couldn't but she made a mental note to ask Ephiny

As Xena's eyes fell back on Eponin she met them defiantly. Xena had never stopped smiling. Eponin noticed that despite her words those crystal blue eyes remained soft. Not icy cold like when the destroyer was looking at Ephiny. Xena raised an eyebrow apparently waiting for an answer from her. Eponin raised her chin just a little bit more.

"The same way I respect you as a warrior. I expect you to respect me." Xena nodded, and so Eponin continued.

"This is regardless to your skill level. If you are my amazon sister I'll try to bring you to my level and expect the same of you. In any case if you do not respect me you will not take my lessons seriously. I do not blame my Queen. I feel it is her upbringing. In time she will learn our ways and respect them. Then I will teach her." Xena favored her with a nod.

Just as quickly her eyes turned cold and the smile left her face.

'Oh no, I am about to die' Eponin thought.

Xena let her hand rest on the back of Gabrielle's neck lightly. Now Gabrielle knew she would pay for this later. Shame colored her cheeks.

"Are you saying My lady and your Queen is not mature enough to be trained by you." Xena said still facing Eponin

Eponin stood her ground but did not speak.

"Pray tell why is it she would feel your not deserving of her respect." Xena lightly rubbed Gabrielle's neck. She already knew the answer.

"She feels there is someone better then I." Eponin planted her feet firmly her hand moving to rest on her belt buckle at her waist.

The downward set to Gabrielle's eyes told Ephiny that if she did not stop this interrogation Gabrielle would be the one to pay for it.

"Eponin I think----." Xena cut her off as if she had not even spoken.

"Gabrielle." She said sweetly "Your royal guard is no longer needed. My guards are enjoying the rest of their day off. Ephiny, Eponin, and I can keep you safe." Xena's words dripped sweetness like a snake's venom in honey.

"Wait I don't------." Ephiny started but again was cut off by Gabrielle.

"You heard her lady's. I order you to enjoy yourselves tonight." Gabrielle looked at Ephiny.

"You may go." Ephiny hesitantly waved them off.

When they left Xena turned her full attention back to Eponin.

"You were saying." She let her hand drop off Gabrielle's neck. She crossed her arms in front of her body, seemingly at ease.

Eponin noted the relaxed set of the warrior's body and relaxed herself.

"It is not for me to repeat what my queen felt a need to say. I would like to ask. Why is it you send the Queen to us for training? You are more then able to have her trained very well here. Your facilities are much more superior then ours due to the fact that we are still in the process of rebuilding." Eponin stated.

'Maybe Gabrielle just wants to be trained by Xena. If this is the case I definitely could not blame her.' Eponin thought.

Xena on the other hand was very impressed by Eponin's discretion.

"Your Elders wants her to be trained the Amazon way." Xena said dryly.

"Since she is to be an Amazon Queen now. I would not feel comfortable training her to know my defenses. In case your God has something up her sleeves." Xena answered honestly.

"Wait a minute Xena----." Ephiny started in defense of Artemess.

"She asked the question and I gave my answer. I do not care for the Gods and will not pretend just because you do. Now back to the issue at hand. Gabrielle I would like to know what you said that put off your guard master." Xena said stepping back onto training platform and picking up two staffs.

Gabrielle eyes followed Xena. Now she saw her error. She knew that if she told Xena that she felt Eponin was going to fast Xena would not like it. She watched her mistress train her soldiers. Now that she thought about it. Eponin's training was a slice of cake compared to Xena's.

"Well." Xena said raising an Eyebrow and walking back towards them.

Gabrielle went through her options and though she did not think herself to be a coward, there was no way in tartarus she was going to admit that at the time she thought Eponin was being to hard on her. She turned to Eponin.

"I am sorry Eponin I was acting very childish. I had no right to speak to you the way I did. At the time I was frustrated and my pride was hurt. I would be honored to take up training with you again." She said sincerely hoping that Eponin would accept.

Xena's low chuckle could be heard as she step down off the training platform.

Gabrielle waited for Eponin to say something the look of shock on her and Ephiny's face would be funny if not for the seriousness of the situation.

"I accept My queen and would be honored to take up your training again on you next visit." Gabrielle felt relief rush over her.

"No No No No!!!" Xena stated. Gabrielle felt a cold sense of dread.

Everyone looked at Xena.

"I think that your queen needs to go through full training. I must insist that you stay here with us until it is time for her to return to your village. My army is about to go through much needed field training, which means that for the next three weeks they'll be all through the forest surrounding my territory. No one will be getting in or out without an escort. In the meantime other then women and children all the men will be gone. You'll have the training field to yourself. I will be going back and forth into the fields. You can teach her how to drill herself when there is no one for her to drill with. I would be honored to sit in on the first couple of sessions. You will be a guest of the sovereinty anything you need your queen will supply for you. I will not take No for an answer." Xena looked at Ephiny daring her to say No.

"I can't leave the village for that long. My sisters are still training and with the rebuilding." Eponin had no intention on staying here in the conqueror's domain. She knew how dangerous the woman was. Ephiny nodded her head yes to Xena.

"There it is decided" Xena said noting the mixture of shock and dread on Gabrielle's face and the arguments coming from Eponin whom she tossed a staff.

"My lady, how many times will you make me ask what was said?" Xena asked. Her icy stare giving a warning to Gabrielle not to make her ask again.

"I told her that her skills was nothing compared to you the destroyer. That she was not giving me a chance to learn what she was trying to teach." Gabrielle said seeing that Xena was not going to let it go.

"Well, you have some much faith in my abilities. Just as I had faith in yours that you could take whatever she could throw your way." Xena glared at Gabrielle and motioned for Eponin to join her on the platform.

"So now I have to defend your faith in me. In a match to the death." Gabrielle's eyes went wide and Ephiny drew her sword as she rushed onto the platform.

"You see." She told Gabrielle looking into Eponin's eyes. Eponin motioned for Ephiny to stop. For some reason she got the feeling Xena was bluffing. It was all in her eyes, if not she sent a silent prayer to Artemess. Eponin took a defensive stance as Ephiny backed off the platform. Gabrielle stayed frozen to the spot. She did not want Eponin to die because of her big mouth. Xena continued.

"You've never seen Eponin really fight before and neither have I." Xena continued.

She wanted to know if Gabrielle could watch her fight someone to death because of something she'd said. Gabrielle was still her slave and if she were dead Gabrielle would be free. There were many that would jump at the chance.

"She is the guard master of the Amazons a race of female warriors. This is the first time I've actually met her, but as you saw I knew of her. What if she kills me? Will that be pleasing to My Lady?" Suddenly they both crouched ready to spring. Xena was bluffing the only way she had known of Eponin was her amazon garb designated her a guard master, and the message Ephiny had sent.

Ephiny finally relaxed. It dawned on her that Xena was testing Gabrielle. Not for the first time she found herself wondering how this whole alliance was going to work, and just how long would it take to smooth out the kinks.

Just as they started circling each other. Gabrielle jumped in the middle. Pleading.

"Eponin I command you to leave this platform right now." Gabrielle turned to face Xena.

"It was I whom is to blame." With that Eponin gladly left the platform.

Gabrielle pulled in a shaky breath

"I will take her place because I was wrong, but I can not fight you. Not only because I know there is no possible way I can win. I just can't"

She turned to Eponin and Ephiny.

"Leave me now I will be fine. Ephiny I believe you know where your quarters are. I will see you and the guards off tomorrow." She said

'If I am still alive.' She thought. She then turned her attention once more to that cold stare.

"Are you sure My queen." Ephiny asked noting the very icy look that had not left Gabrielle's face since she sent Eponin off the platform.

"Yes I am fine." Gabrielle stated with authority.

"As you wish." Ephiny said.

They both bowed and went in search of the other amazons.

"My lord I have shamed myself----." Finally alone Gabrielle dropped to her knees in front of Xena.

Xena grabbed her by the hair making her face away from her.

"YOU have shamed me and my kingdom. I can't stand to touch you." Xena sneered as she forced her face down into the mat. She did not want her to see in her eyes that she had lied. Not only could she stand to touch her. She longed to make love to her fiercely.

"You will train with that Amazon every day. You'll not only take what she gives you but will gain her respect. You will work harder then even she pushed you. When she leaves you will challenge me." Xena had no idea that she was going to say that, and was both shocked and filled with excitement at the idea.

She grabbed the young queen up from the mat and looked her in the eyes. The queen tried to avoid her eyes not wanting her to see the horror that had just took over her.

"Look at me my Queen." The sinister tone in Xena's voice chilled her from deep within but she did as she was told. She met the conqueror's eyes.

"Know this my lady. The challenge you have forced me to take is only postponed. You will challenge me and if you are not up to expectations, if you refuse to challenge, if you do not impress me, I will kill you. Since your amazon trainer will also be to blame I will completely destroy the amazons and take no prisoners-----." Xena knew the girl was going to cut her off.

"Please, My lord they-----." Xena backhanded Gabrielle sending her backward on the mat. She stood over the girl. Who was fighting a loosing battle with her tears.

"Did I not warn you?" Gabrielle knew she was only expected to answer.

"Yes, my lord." She got to her knees bowing her head.

"You will not read. You will not write. You will not have contact with anyone but your trainer. You will not come to my quarters. You will eat, sleep, and train. When not in her presence you will drill on your own." Xena dropped to her knees raising Gabrielle's chin she looked in her eyes smiling innocently.

"When you do come and challenge me in thirty days you better be ready to kill me. If I get the slightest suspicion that you are trying to hold back I will kill you. If you do kill me you will be free, or you can take my place with your amazons. Arty would love that." Xena looked in her eyes a little longer got to her feet and left the queen

Only when Gabrielle was sure that Xena was gone did she flee to her room where she cried herself to sleep. She cursed Xena forbidding her to come to her quarters, for demanding this stupid challenge in thirty days, and even worse she hated herself for being the cause of it all. She forced herself to sleep she knew Xena was testing her. Why she did not know, but she did not doubt that Xena's threat was very serious.

Gabrielle focused on her training like it was her lifeline. Eponin had sulked for the first few days after she'd been left.

The conqueror true to her word sat in on the first few sessions. She never participated. She'd just watch. Eponin figured that the conqueror was mad at the queen for they never was with each other since they'd arrived.

The queen was so intent on her training she would not speak of what was going on. Xena would catch her in the evenings when the queen was working on her meditation and they'd drill and spar.

The queen's determination and stamina was a complete change over from the whining lazy girl she'd been out of this kingdom. Eponin had to guess it was because of the conqueror and despite herself she knew the two women loved each other.

The conqueror sat Eponin on edge. She was irresistibly beautiful. At the same time this women was very dangerous.

Gabrielle was so soft and completely opposite from Xena.

Xena however had treated Eponin like royalty. It was almost like she was trying too hard. Like she was covering who she really was.

The only time Eponin got a glimpse was when they were sparring. Even though Xena skills was higher Eponin had picked up a lot from her in this short month's time.

Once Xena snapped and lost herself and Eponin had to give it all she had for those couple of seconds. Xena's unleashed fury amazed the guard master and just when Xena was about to take her life she snapped back to herself. Pulled Eponin up and apologized.

The next day she had given Eponin the finest horse she had other then Gabrielle's and her own. Even though the queen hated to ride Xena kept a very fine steed stabled for her.

One day after a very intense session Xena and Eponin sat on the field resting. Both had finished off much of the full skins of wine they were sipping on.

Eponin had teased Xena. Stating that she knew she was in love with the queen. And was surprised at what Xena told her next.

"Eponin, You are probably the only one who I'd care to give an answer about it, but I feel close to you. I think I could have been somewhat like you---if certain things hadn't occurred to make me who I am.----She makes me feel different." Xena turned away slightly.

"However I do not love her." She finished.

"You do not have to be ashamed that you love her. I know that she loves you too. The way she focuses on her training, It is because of you. All she needed was to know that you was near even if you are mad at each other." Eponin stated Xena reaction puzzled her.

"If you only knew." Xena said leaving the training grounds. She felt that Gabrielle was concentrating on her training because she wanted to kill her gain her freedom, and/or not loose her life. Neither of which had anything to do with love.

On the day of the battle Xena and Gabrielle went on their separate ways.

Gabrielle worried that she would have to kill or be killed.

Xena had a mixture of downright sexual heat due to her nightly dreams of submitting as well as shame for the same reason, as well as a growing pent up anger toward Gabrielle for being the object of those feelings.

The designated time had arrived. Xena approached the platform. She noted Gabrielle was wearing her amazon leathers her staff at the ready. Her body was tense her expression very serious. Her eyes were slightly downcast. Xena stopped a body length away from the girl.

Gabrielle dropped to her knees holding her staff out to Xena. Dropping her head fully.

"I can not fulfill my lords wishes. I will not challenge you, I can not." Gabrielle stated her voice trembling.

"You will accept your fate then?" Xena asked.

Gabrielle wanted to show Xena all that she had learned. She had gained Eponin's respect. She desperately wanted Xena's respect.

"Yes my lord. I lay down for My Lady my life, my amazons, and my all. It is up to My Lord to do what she feels fair to what is hers." Gabrielle stated.

"You did find Eponin's favor. You've gained her respect. That is what I wanted. You turn down the opportunity to kill the destroyer. You will not get another chance. You are released from the challenge."

My soldiers are returning tonight and we will set out for Amazonia in the morning. I will accompany you for your trips from now on since I can not trust you alone. I will not treat you like my slave in front of the amazons. You'll act and speak on your own accord but I will be watching. I warn you to be on your best behavior. Or your nights will be a living Tartarus. You've already disgraced me by forcing me to change part of the alliance. Do not shame me again." Xena said her heart racing.

She moved to pick up a staff.

"Get up slave show me what your worth. You have an audience to impress so make it good." Xena stated.

Gabrielle stood and looked to the side. The kid sat on the steps to the platform munching on an apple.

Gabrielle tensed not knowing what Xena had in mind for her. After they started she noticed that Xena was just taking her through the drills that she had learned already. The only variance was the speed. Gabrielle found herself relaxing.

"Now I am going to teach you some new drills you'll only do with me or practice alone, never with the Amazons. The Amazon taught you to keep eye contact. Her thinking is slightly flawed. You must focus on the eyes but hone your peripheral sight to watch the rest of the body." She instructed.

As time went by the kid fell asleep on the steps. Urthro came and carried her to her room. A few moments later he came back and let them know the royal guard had just arrived he then retired to his chambers.

Gabrielle was feeling a strong connection with Xena. She did not notice Xena had stopped moving until she effortlessly caught a staff aimed at her head.

"She may be getting to good." Eponin said laughing.

"She almost took you head off there." Xena raised a questioning brow at Gabrielle.

"You'd almost think she was trying to kill me wouldn't you." Xena teased.

"My queen should not be dirtying her hands with such an unworthy adversary." Eponin said taking the staff from Gabrielle's hand.

"Wait----." Gabrielle exclaimed. She had been so intense in her training that she was not aware Xena and Eponin had been interacting in any way.

Xena snagged the wineskins Eponin had been holding. As she expected one was half full and Eponin was in a mood. However she was in a mood Xena liked. In the last month she'd caught Eponin like this twice before. The first time had served to break the ice between them.

"Now—Now." Xena said.

"She has challenged me and I can not allow that. So you sit here like a nice Queen and enjoy the show, but do not interfere. You may get hurt." Xena said sitting Gabrielle on the steps where the kid had sat. She sat the wineskins in front of Gabrielle. She felt Eponin creeping up on her.

"Have a drink dear you need to unwind." She said ignoring Gabrielle's frantic attempt to warn her. With her shrill battle cry she vaulted into the air landing behind Eponin in time to see her staff swing over Gabrielle's head.

"If you don't stand still I can't hit you." Eponin whined.

Gabrielle looked to Xena with a "She can't be serious" look on her face.

Xena was enjoying the look on Gabrielle's face but decided to pay close attention to Eponin. In a way Eponin was more dangerous when she'd been drinking.

"That my drunk Amazonian, would make it to easy. If there is one thing I aint is easy, aint that right baby face." Xena couldn't help but tease Gabrielle one more time.

That one-second cost her as Eponin sailed over her head. Throwing a back kick to the back of her knees causing her to hit the mat face first.

Xena heard Gabrielle's breathe catch. Eponin drove her full body weight onto Xena. Which caused her to have to take another second to catch her breath.

"Right now you are as easy as I say baby cakes." She said smacking Xena on the but.

Xena caught her by the ankle, driving her own body backward she applied just enough pressure to hurt without injuring. Eponin's cry of pain told her it worked. Eponin twisted around scissoring Xena in between her thighs and squeezing savagely.

"I warn you I know of a very painful move from my position that will make your romantic life very difficult for the next couple of weeks and will be forced to use it if you don't release me." Xena said in between gulps of air.

"Is she bluffing." Eponin asked Gabrielle.

"I wouldn't test it." Gabrielle admitted tightly.

Eponin released her immediately.

Xena laughed as she crawled to Gabrielle and picked up the full wineskin in front of her.

Eponin followed suit grabbing the half-full one and taking a couple deep gulps.

"You got some powerful thighs there lover." Xena said teasing lightly. To her amazement a look flashed across Gabrielle's face.

'Could that be jealousy.' She thought.

Eponin saw the look too, but just as she was about to assure Gabrielle Xena was not her type Xena ran a hand along her thigh.

"What do you squeeze between them to make them so strong, other then me." Xena smiled at her seductively.

Eponin threw her a 'Are you crazy' look.

Gabrielle leaped off the steps and stalk off heading to her quarters.

Eponin was about to call after her but Xena clapped her hand around her mouth and pulled her to her chest in a highly suggestive way.

"Gabrielle." She called out intentionally breathless.

When Gabrielle turned her eyes widened and her mouth dropped opened as she took in the sight in front of her.

"Why don't you get a good night sleep I'll see you in the morning." She crushed Eponin's lips with her own in a savage kiss. She knew Gabrielle thought she did not just kiss anyone. She dared a look after her and the girl was running towards her room disappearing through a door.

She released a very drunken angry Eponin.

Eponin turned looking for the Queen. She then pinned Xena with a desperately frantic look.

"Where did she go." She grabbed the front of Xena's tunic.

"How could you dare laugh after what you just did." She screamed letting her go and watching her in amazement.

"Because she was jealous." She said between fits of laughter.

Eponin caught her and pulled her from the edge of the platform before she rolled off and maybe hurt herself.

"Of course she was silly you came on to me right in front of her. Why wouldn't she? She's going to hate me, and you my friend will be on her shit list for a while. How could you laugh at a time like this. You have an evil sense of humor." Eponin frowned at her still drunken but getting very angry.

"You don't know the half of it." Xena stopped laughing watching Eponin cautiously.

"I do Not appreciate you putting in your sick little joke." She said pushing Xena.

"Is everything okay My liege." Samuels said seeing that Xena was holding back for some reason.

"For now Samuels stay there I don't want to hurt her she's drunk." Xena said.

"No everything isn't okay. Your Liege is a sick individual. Someone needs to teach her a lesson." Eponin said lunging towards her.

Xena ducked out of the way.

"Eponin let it go. Her honor is not in question. I don't want to hurt you so let it go." Xena warned.

Eponin swung with all her heart and connected with Xena's jaw. Xena hit the ground turned and looked up at Eponin in shock.

Samuels moved to grab Eponin.

"Back off Samuels leave her." She ordered.

"My honor is in question thanks to you. I know you don't care about honor anymore but I live by it." Eponin said stumbling off the platform and towards her own quarters.

Xena looked up at Samuels who offered his hand. She took it and he hauled her to her feet.

They both hopped off the edge of the platform.

"Do you agree with her Samuels?" She asked bluntly. "Am I a sick person who needs to be taught a lesson.

"Sometimes, but that go for all of us. It is what make us human." He answered just as bluntly.

"You may want to go to the healer to have a look at that." He hinted.

"Okay." She said catching the hint that Lindy was up to something.

She entered Lindy's chambers without knocking. Gabrielle sat on a cot rocking the kid.

Xena's eyes narrowed.

"What's going on Lindy?" She questioned.

Lindy glared at her. This threw Xena into a rage.

"What in hades is going on with everybody today."

The kid started sobbing.

"That is real nice Xena. Gabrielle had just calmed the child even though she herself was upset. You had to come in raging. Don't you know how to do anything else." Lindy said narrowing her eyes.

Xena turned her back to them closing her eyes and forcing herself to focus.

"I swear fighting a war would be easier then dealing with household problems." She said quietly.

"Yeah cause you could do what you do best destroy. Instead of building something productive." Lindy said sarcastically.

Just as Xena was getting ready to let Lindy have it Lindy caught her chin gently.

"Why is your lip bleeding?" She said turning her face firmly to the right. "—and why is the right side of your face puffy? Is this someone's fist print?

Xena turned and caught Gabrielle looking at her with concern as she cradled the sleeping child.

"Your Guard Master hit me in the jaw. Seems she feels like I compromised her honor in your presence. You see I wanted to make you jealous. So I took advantage of her intoxication. If you think back I was the one talking to her. She was just as shocked as you were. When I called to you to get you to turn around I had her pinned to my chest by force. I hope I have cleared her name. She was very concerned about your feelings." Xena finished wondering why was she even bothering to clear her honor and she'd just smacked her down.

Xena then turned to leave.

"Xena." Lindy stopped her.

"What now?" Xena said just wanting to be alone.

"I know of the Amazon Teris. She is a reknowned healer of the body, spirit and mind." Lindy said tentatively.

"Why are you telling me this?" Xena said through clenched teeth.

"Not for you although---." Xena cut her off.

"Get to it old lady." She ordered.

"Avia needs help with her spirit and her mind. You need to take her with you and see if Teris can help her." Lindy said.

"Who is Avia?" Xena asked. She heard two sharp intakes of breath.

She turned sharply to see Lindy and Gabrielle looking at her in utter amazement.

"So I have did yet another disgraceful thing today. So spare me the OUTrage and tell me what I did this time." She said feeling utterly wretched.

"All I can say is that I am so glad the child was sleep and did not here you say that. Her name is Avia." Lindy reprimanded her.

Gabrielle actually felt Xena's shame. She gathered Avia in her arms, and carried her to Xena and placed her in her arms. She then dampened a piece of linen with water and wiped the blood off her face.

"She will go with us on the morrow and if you can't ask Teris to help our child I will." And with that she walked out of Lindy's chambers.

Not for the first time today she was left speechless by the bard.

"Don't try to figure it out. Go to bed you've had a long day. Tomorrow will be even longer. You will be traveling with two angry people you have feelings for and a sick child. Don't try to deny anything just know it will work out in the end." Lindy said kissing her on the cheek.

Xena carried the child to her own chambers put her in her bed and changed into her sleeping shift. She got in the bed pulling the child into her arms and fell asleep.

Gabrielle entered the room. She stood over the two sleeping forms. Avia stirred enough to wake Xena but not fully she rocked the child whispering soothing words until she fell back into a sound sleep.

Tears filled Gabrielle's eyes, as recognized those soothing words Xena whispered to the child. They were the words she herself had whispered to Xena when she had her nightmares. She remembered the first night she held Xena trying to help her through her nightmare. It seemed so long ago.

'This is my family now.' She thought. 'This is where I belong. It is time for me to make my claim. I have to succeed. I shudder to think what will happen to them if I fail.' She though as she watched over the two troubled souls.

Continue to Part 4

alt fic index <> homepage