Disclaimers ~ These characters belong to me. If they have a passing resemblance to you or share your name, it's purely coincidental.

Bad language ~ Nothing I deem bad, but...let's say yes, scattered here and there.

Love/sex ~ Ongoing relationships between women. Love scenes between m/f & f/f. If none of this is your cup of tea or it offends you, you're in the wrong place.

Violence ~ Loads! The warriors are at war so....

Copyright © June 2008

Chapter Thirteen

Hidden in the cover of the many trees and plants growing in the Palace gardens, the warriors watched the Palace. The doors that led into the dining room were open so getting in would be easy enough. It was what was waiting inside that was a mystery. They weren't quite sure what or who they were about to face.

The warriors had arrived home late the previous evening. Despite some of the girls wanting to go straight to the Palace, it was too late to do anything. Leonora convinced them they had to rest and led them to the farming community, hoping they could provide refuge. She also had hopes of convincing a few of the farmers and the blacksmiths to join them in their attack.

After tearful reunions, loads of hugging and kissing and sighs of relief, everyone sat down to a hastily put together meal and discussed what had happened, what was going on, and what the warriors had planned for the next day.

Now the moment had arrived - it was time to take back their home.

Leonora Segerstone slowly crept towards Rayna. The teen hadn't said anything all morning and the former guard was worried about her. Crouching next to the tense warrior, Leonora patted her arm to get her attention. "Did you get any sleep last night?"

"Not much. I just wanted to get in there. I couldn't switch off long enough to rest."

"I..." The former guard sighed. "I know, we all know, what a talented warrior you are," she said slowly, wanting to get her words right. "But what we're about to go into...involves the Royal family, your..."

"I know who it involves. You're worried I'm going to go off the track," Rayna interrupted, iridescent blue eyes flashing in anger as they turned to Leonora. "If they have hurt Arcadia, so help me God!" she said in a dangerous, level tone. "I will hunt down every last one of them and give them all very slow, very painful deaths." She turned her attention back to the open doors. "It's breakfast. Now's a good time to strike."

Leonora felt slightly unnerved. She realised for the first time she was in the presence of a true warrior, a woman who would do anything to protect her loved ones, do anything to keep them safe and anything to get them back. "Would you give up being a warrior if the Princess asked?" she enquired, remembering another who had.

"In a heartbeat."

Leonora smiled. "True love," she mumbled. "'Tis a rare and wonderful thing." She patted Rayna's arm. "Lead on, Rayna. We'll follow you."

Turning to look at the older woman, Rayna saw only respect in kind grey eyes. Nodding, the dark-haired girl looked over her shoulder at those waiting behind them and signalled to Gia Cartman to alert the women around the front to start their distraction. Rayna closed her eyes, waiting for the knowing sounds of a heavy battering ram hitting the sturdy wooden doors. Both of her mothers had insisted on helping, along with Bedilia's mothers, the Queen's sister Rosana, Destiny's mother Coralee, Valonia Shepherd and her daughter-in-law Cass, Cynthia Green, Daralis' daughter, and Imogen and Hilary Segerstone, Leonora's older sisters. The young warrior smiled as she heard a loud roar of angry female voices and the heavy thud she had been waiting for. Hand in the air, she waved the warriors forward.

They moved stealthily, not sure what lay ahead and wanting to be cautious. They darted from tree to tree, bush to hedge, eyes and ears alert to their surroundings.

Reaching the Palace wall, Rayna inched along it towards the open doors and peeked inside. Seeing no one, she slipped inside quietly, pointing out the laid out food to those who followed her in. They nodded. Someone had just been here eating. They moved towards the doorway that led out into the open-space hallway, needing to go along a corridor on the right that led to the stone steps that would take them to the cells.

Rayna stood watching the hallway and elegant staircase that led upstairs, while the other warriors crept towards the corridor. The dark-haired girl rolled her eyes as a soldier stumbled out of the living room, obviously hung over and started shouting. Just our luck! She went into action as did the others.

As the hallway filled with the renegade Roman soldiers, swords clashed and grunts and yells echoed off of the Palace walls. They couldn't be too concerned about anything they damaged, like the glass vase that toppled from a rosewood table, or the hanging picture that suddenly had a nice long gash in it as Mallory ducked a soldier's swipe.

Rayna made quick work of all those who came near her, the warrior in a battle frenzy zone as she focused only on finding Arcadia. She shoved and kicked her way in the direction of the corridor that would lead her downstairs. Slashing the throat of a soldier who sliced open her arm, she looked up from the fallen man to see Egbert trying to make a retreat. She was torn, she wanted to get downstairs to where she guessed the Royals were being kept, but on the other hand she didn't want the little slime-ball to get away. Growling in frustration, she chased after Egbert. The Royals, if they were all right, would be safer for now locked in the cells. She made her way quickly in Egbert's direction, the man having spotted her tall frame and trying to hastily get away.

Egbert raced upstairs, tripping twice, eyes widening as Rayna gained on him. His heart was pounding and he was having trouble breathing, knowing if the warrior got hold of him he was likely to lose his life. How did they get here? How did she get here? She was a prisoner! How did it all go so wrong again? The mousy-brown-haired man raced towards Athena's office, knowing if he could get there he could lock himself in.

Rayna took the stairs two at a time, eyes only on Egbert. Her wish right then was to end the pathetic man's life for all the pain and suffering his selfish power trip had caused. He was heading towards the Queen's office and she knew Athena had a lock on the doors. Rayna wasn't all that worried, the office wasn't like the secure room. She would get in, it just might take her a little time. Seeing Egbert hurry into the office, the warrior raced up the last few stairs, frowning as Tamara appeared in front of her.

"You! What are you doing here? I won't allow you..." She looked down in shock at the sword sticking in her stomach, mouth moving as she tried to put her shocked thoughts into words.

Twisting, then pulling out her sword, Rayna sneered at the older woman. "You're fired, Tamara." Not stopping to watch the Queen's former adviser fall forward and tumble down the stairs, Rayna hurled herself at the locked doors of Athena's office. "EGBERT! I'M COMING IN, LIKE IT OR NOT!" she bellowed in rage.

Clarance Church and Lane Inman hurried down the corridor that would take them to the stone steps. Reaching the top of the steps, together they kicked a charging soldier back down, watching as he tumbled head over heels until he hit the bottom. The two warriors raced down after him, rushing passed his still form on their way to the cells.

"Maybe we should have checked him for the keys?" Lane said suddenly, coming to a stop.

Rolling her eyes, Clarance nodded and waited as her friend hurried back to the man. She watched Lane pat the man and grin triumphantly as she located the heavy key chain.

Running back to Clarance's side, the two ran onwards past the cells with doors open. The two doors at the very end were closed and reaching the first solid wooden door, the girls peeked inside, surprised to see not the Royal family but the members of the senate.

"Looks like they could do with saving," Lane said grinning, getting everybody's attention.

The group jumped up from their seated positions and hurried over to the door.

"What are you doing here?"

"How did you get here?"

"Get us out!"

The two warriors looked at each other. "Rude lot aren't they?" Clarance commented. "Not a single thank you!" She unlocked the door and opened it before moving to the next locked door. Smiling as she saw Dionis and a guard peering out through the small bars. "I hope you guards are ready to fight," she said to no one in particular. Opening the door, the guards raced out first, heading for the stairs in the hopes of getting a little pay back. They were followed out by the Palace staff, who looked around, not sure what to do.

Dionis and Athena followed Mina and Aaronia out, the Queen's consort looking along the dark corridor that held the cells. "Rayna, is she..."

"Around somewhere, Your Highness" Lane replied. "Last I saw, she was chasing after Egbert Sheehan, looking...angry."

"Fuming," Clarance added, hugging her wife Francis as she approached. "Wife, you look heavenly!" She kissed the redhead's temple.

Francis blushed. "You are in one piece?"

"I am."

The maid nodded, seemingly satisfied and hugged the warrior fiercely. "Good."

"Where's the Princess?" Lane asked.

* * * * *

Rayna had splintered the doors and knew it wouldn't be much longer before she was in.

Bedilia and Emmanuelle stood off to the side watching the raging dark-haired warrior throw herself at the closed doors, amazed at the strength and power Rayna put into each lunge. They had watched wide-eyed as the doors bent, then started splintering and knew before much longer their friend would be in and whoever was inside would be in deep trouble.

With a loud roar, Rayna charged and broke through the doors, the broken pieces falling to the floor. "Hello, Egbert," she said nicely, even managing a small smile. She walked towards him. "Do you remember what I told you at the Roman camp?"

"Rayna, wait! We can work something out surely?" the mousy-brown-haired man stammered, eyes darting about as he sought a way out. "I...I just wanted to see some change. Athena never..."

"Don't worry, no harm will come to the Princess," Rayna said. "That's what you told me, isn't it? She will be given a choice, join with Lexie and...supply heirs," she spat out. "Or rot in a cell." She moved towards the cowering man who was desperately trying to keep the Queen's rosewood desk between them. "What did I reply?" Rayna asked politely, like this was a normal conversation between friends. "Do you remember?"

"I'll leave! I'll never ever come back, I promise!" Egbert cried. "Please, I promise!"

Rayna slammed her hands down on the desk. "What did I tell you?" she barked.

"You...you swore you would hunt...hunt me down and..." Egbert stammered, lower lip trembling.

"Aannndd?" the warrior drew out.

"M...mmmake me wish for death."

Rayna shoved the desk out of her way like it weighed nothing and grabbed the small man by his shirt front, slamming him up against a wall hard. "Where...is my...betrothed?"

"I...I...I don't know!"

Rayna yanked him forward, before slamming him back again. "If it helps, you're going to die whether you tell me or not."

Egbert whimpered eyes darting over to the broken doors as he wondered where all his men were, where the women who had joined them were, where his mother was. "Really, I don't know," he said, looking back into ice cold blue. "She ran away."

The warrior frowned. "She ran away?" A small smile curled her lips then and Egbert thought perhaps he was safe. "That's my girl," Rayna chuckled, then with thoughts only on finding Arcadia, she dragged the snivelling man out of the office intending to throw him down the stairs for the warriors to take care of.

"I'll deal with him," Dionis said, a feral smile on her lips. "You don't mind, do you?"

Rayna grinned. "Not at all." She handed Egbert over gladly. "'Tis good to see you Dionis."

"'Tis good seeing you, Rayna."

"Arcadia?" the warrior asked, hoping the dark-haired woman would know where the blonde was.

"Somewhere in the Palace. She ran away with Lexie."

"Lexie Sheehan?"


Rayna turned and ran, shouting out Arcadia's name at the top of her lungs.

* * * * *

After hiding in the secret room for two days, Arcadia and Lexie decided it wouldn't hurt to hide out in the main room. The hidden room was stuffy and full of dust and lacked light. They reasoned that the guards had probably given up trying to find them. They still locked the chambers door though, just in case. Two days without food was tough on the pregnant Princess, she had seriously considered giving herself up just so she could eat. Lexie had convinced her not to. Now the third day in hiding, Lexie had been preparing herself to sneak downstairs after the breakfast hour to try and get something for them. They had both looked in surprise at the locked doors when they heard sounds of fighting.

"Do you think they've turned on each other?" Arcadia asked from her seat on the bed.

"I don't know. Maybe...maybe you were right and the women have attacked the Palace," Lexie suggested.

"And gained entrance," the blonde squealed in delight. "We could be saved, Lexie!"

Both girls moved over to the doors and pressed their ears to the wood, straining to hear what was going on. They could definitely hear the sounds of fighting, crashes and thumps, metal on metal, and cries of pain and anger.

"Who do you think it is?" Arcadia whispered.

"I don't think my mother's people would have turned on each other so soon. I guess perhaps it's the islanders."

Arcadia grinned. "Good for them! See, we're not useless without the warriors."


Both sets of eyes widened at the blaring bellow that was quickly followed by a loud thud of something hitting wood.

"By the Gods!" Lexie exclaimed, backing away from the doors. "What...what was that?"

"Someone incredibly angry at your brother!" Arcadia replied, moving back towards the bed. "Do you think we should...arm ourselves?"

Chewing on her bottom lip, Lexie looked around the room, slowly nodding. "It wouldn't hurt. Better to be safe than sorry." Arcadia grabbed a fire poker, while Lexie broke a chair and held up a thick leg like a club. "Do you think we should barricade the doors?" the brunette asked.

"Good thinking. Lets push that vanity table against them."

"I'll do it, Princess. You're with child."

"I can help!" Arcadia exclaimed indignantly.

"I...I'd prefer for you to save your energy. You know, in case we have to fight."

Rolling her eyes, the blonde nodded her agreement and watched Lexie huff and puff as she pushed the heavy vanity table towards the doors. Both girls jumped, startled, at the loud crash a floor below.

"I think your brother is in trouble," Arcadia said needlessly, sitting down on the end of the bed with her poker laying across her lap. "I'm sorry, but I hope whoever that is really does him some harm."

With the vanity table in place, Lexie leaned back against it and looked sadly at the Princess. "Do you..." she paused, frowning. "Do you think I'll be banished?" she asked quietly.

"No," the blonde shook her head. "If you don't want to leave, I'll make sure you can stay. You had no idea of all this and you saved me. I will forever be grateful, as I'm sure Rayna will be once she hears."

"Thank you," Lexie smiled. "I...don't know why you would do such a thing. I have truly been unpleasant to you. Trying to court you when you weren't interested..."

Arcadia waved a hand in the air. "All forgotten. What matters is now, Lexie. You grew up and did something brave. You betrayed your mother and brother and saved me. I will...."


The Princess looked in surprise towards the barricaded doors. "That sounded like....It couldn't be? How did..." The blonde jumped up. "Quick, Lexie! Get this table out of the way!"


"It is!" Arcadia cried in surprised delight. "It's Rayna! She's here! I don't know how, but she is! RAYNA! RAYNA, I'M HERE!" The blonde hurried over to the doors where Lexie was struggling with the table and stood next to her, both shoving the table out of the way. Unlocking the door, Arcadia opened it and looked out. "Rayna!"

The raven-haired warrior dropped her sword as she raced towards a heavenly vision, a relieved smile on her face. "Cadie! You are..." her words trailed off as she saw Lexie hovering over her love's shoulder. "YOU!" Moving passed the startled Princess, Rayna grabbed Lexie by the front of her robe and moved them back into the chamber, intent on doing serious harm to the girl. "You and your family!" Rayna growled.

"Rayna, stop!" Arcadia said from behind her tall lover. "She saved me, Rayna. Let her go!" The warrior didn't respond, instead she slammed the petrified brunette back against the wall. "Rayna Banks!" Arcadia said sternly. "I haven't seen you in I don't know how many moons, I am carrying your child, and here you are with eyes only for Lexie!"

That statement said in a disgusted tone got the warrior's attention. Dropping Lexie back to her own feet, Rayna turned around to face the blonde, looking sheepish. "Hello, love."

"Hello love, she says!" Arcadia couldn't keep up the pretence of being annoyed when she was so relieved her betrothed was standing in front of her. "Come here and kiss me!"

Grinning, Rayna moved forward and wrapped her arms around the blonde, holding her as she claimed soft pink lips in a tender kiss. "I missed you," she whispered against the blonde's lips. "So much!"

Arcadia smiled and kissed the warrior again. "And I you." She pulled back. "Not that I'm not delighted, but how are you here? We were told you were a prisoner of Rome?"

"I was. I got free and came home," Rayna shrugged.

Arcadia rolled her eyes, unimpressed at the lack of detail to the tale. "You can tell me everything later. My parents? My grandparents? Are they..."

"Dionis is dealing with Egbert," Rayna interrupted. "I'm not sure about the Queen or your grandparents." She looked at Lexie. "Your mother is..." she trailed off, hoping the girl got the drift.

"I figured she would....When I heard sounds of fighting, I didn't have much hope. Do you know of my other mother, Blyth?"

Rayna shrugged. "I haven't bumped into her."

"Rayna, you're bleeding!" Arcadia exclaimed, moving away from the warrior's side to look at the arm wound. "That's going to need stitching. Come on, I'll take you to the hospice."

Looking the Princess over properly, blue eyes widened as Rayna realised just how much Arcadia had changed. "Cadie, you...you look amazing!" She gently caressed the blonde's stomach. "I...you..." With tears in her eyes, the warrior embraced her love again. "I can't believe we're to be parents!"

Smiling lovingly, Arcadia eagerly returned the hug. "Don't try and change the subject, warrior," she teased. "You're still going to the hospice."


"Mummy had one built," the blonde explained. "A place where the injured can go and recover."

Rayna nodded. "First, I should really..."

"Oh, no you don't! You are coming with me to have that wound seen to!"

Blue eyes widened and the warrior obediently followed after the adamant blonde, Lexie's laughter ringing in her ears.

At the hospice, Rayna's arm was stitched up and covered by a bandage to keep the wound clean. Her injury tended to, she wandered over to where Keera lay, still unconscious. "Hello, my friend," she said quietly, taking a seat next to the cot. "When I realised you weren't by my side, I thought you were with Bedilia. I guess she thought you were with me. Who could have known you were hurt!" The warrior sighed. "You won't believe the things you have missed, Keera. I was taken prisoner by the Romans, Brutus defeated them though." Rayna smiled as she thought of her brother. "He gathered all the villagers and warriors and they attacked the Roman camp early in the morning. Completely caught them off guard. And then once I was free I had to tell them that Egbert Sheehan was behind all this trouble!" she sighed again wearily, rubbing her forehead. "We raced to get back here and you sure missed a fight! Anyway, listen, you have to wake up, Keera. You have to come back to us. Otherwise, I'm sorry but I'm going to have to steal your wife for myself. I'm sure Cadie won't mind me splitting my attentions." Hearing a soft chuckle behind her, Rayna glanced over her shoulder to see a tearful Leslie.

As the warrior stood up and embraced her in strong arms, Leslie broke down completely. "Rayna!" She hugged the dark-haired girl tightly, face buried against her neck. "'Tis so good to see you!"

"I'm sorry," Rayna said, pulling back slightly to look down into soft grey eyes. "I told you I would keep her safe and..."

"She is alive, Rayna, and in one piece. For that I am grateful." Leslie smiled and hugged the warrior again. "I'm so glad you're back! I don't...I don't understand how, but..."

Rayna grinned. "It's a long, long tale, that is best shared another time." The warrior looked down at the redhead's protruding stomach in awe as she felt a kick where it touched her. "Strong little bugger! Just like her mama, huh?"

Leslie grinned. "Or his mama. I don't care what we have, as long as he or she is healthy and Keera...Keera wakes up in time to be there."

"I'm sure she will be, she can't possibly sleep much longer, the lazy sod!"

"Rayna! Your language!" Arcadia said from behind Leslie. "You can't be talking like that when our child is born!"

"Sorry, love," the henpecked warrior apologised, kissing the blonde's head when she was close enough. "Look, I got stitched up," she said, showing off her bandaged arm.

"Good and no taking that bandage off for at least a couple of days, you have to let the wound heal."

Rayna scowled as Leslie grinned.

"Have you noticed how easy these warriors are to handle?" Arcadia commented, making her cousin laugh harder. "Or is it just mine?"

"No, no, Keera is securely wrapped around my little finger," Leslie joked.

"I should get back to the Palace," Rayna said. "I need to check on the warriors and help with the clean up. Are you staying here, Arcadia?"

The blonde shook her head. "I'll be wherever you are, love. We've been apart far too long. Now that you're home I'm not letting you out of my sight for the time being."

"Everybody's back?" Leslie asked in surprise. "The war is over?"

"The war is still raging, but we had to come home to take care of business," Rayna told her. "It's a long story."

"It was all Egbert Sheehan's fault," Arcadia said simply.

"That snake!" Leslie exclaimed. "If I get my hands on him!" the redhead snapped.

"I don't think you'll get the chance," Rayna said. "I handed him over to Dionis."

Arcadia took the arm her warrior offered her, smiling lovingly. "Anyway, cousin Leslie, we should get back. Karita is fine, and Valonia is fuming and looking to take on the world!"

Leslie laughed. "She does have an awful temper! Thank the Gods Keera takes after Karita." The redhead looked at the patiently waiting warrior. "I'm glad you're home, Rayna."

"Thank you, it's good to be home," the dark-haired girl replied, squeezing Arcadia to her side.

Leslie frowned, her head tilting to the side. "You've grown! You're taller than when you left, I think."

Rayna shrugged. "Possibly."

"I'll try and come by later, cousin, but if not tonight, definitely tomorrow," Arcadia said, getting a nod from the redhead.

Waving goodbye to Leslie, the couple left the hospice and headed back to the Palace.

* * * * *

The men who hadn't been killed and the women, now traitors to Belleza, were all locked up in the cells, never to be released. They couldn't be banished in fear of them launching another attack or telling others of Belleza's existence.

Athena stood on the second floor, leaning against the marble balustrade looking down at the warriors and guards carrying out the dead. The Palace staff went about picking up broken pieces of furniture and shattered glass. The Queen sighed, wondering if the puddles of blood would forever stain the marble floor.

Seeing Arcadia walk in holding onto Rayna's arm, Athena couldn't help but smile. They made quite the couple. Blue eyes rose and met her green and the Queen saw Rayna say something that made her daughter look up as well. The Queen waved in greeting as did the Princess and watched as her daughter kissed Rayna's cheek before heading off in the direction of Dionis' office, while the warrior made her way upstairs.

"Your Highness," Rayna greeted, bowing respectfully.

"Warrior Banks." Athena pulled the teen into an embrace, relieved she was home and seemingly well. "I'm glad to see that you're in one piece."

"Just about," Rayna smiled. "I...wanted to apologise for breaking your office doors. I'll fix them as soon as I can."

The Queen blinked in surprise. "You broke them? Alone? That took...great strength."

"Egbert was inside. I wanted him." Rayna shrugged.

"Uhm...there's no need to fix the doors, Rayna. Daralis has sent for a carpenter to come and see to it, but thank you for offering."

"I uhh, better go and find Cadie. She doesn't seem to want me out of her sight."

"Too late," Athena smiled, nodding towards the approaching Princess.

Arcadia quickly climbed the stairs and approached her mother and her betrothed. Smiling in relief, the blonde hugged her mother. "I'm so glad everyone is all right!"

"What happened to you, Arcadia?" the Queen asked. "I heard what Tamara said about Lexie marrying you, then I was dragged off. I was told by Daralis that when you were all being moved the guards started yelling and chasing after two fleeing girls. Tamara was fuming, ranting and raving about it not being the plan."

"Lexie saved me, mummy. She dragged me away and told me to run. I took her up to great, great, great, grandmother Abi's secure room, we locked ourselves in and I found out Lexie had no idea what was going on."

"I'll leave you two to talk," Rayna said. "I'll go and find Dionis. We have much to talk over." She kissed her love's head. "Stay out of trouble," she teased.

"Me!" Arcadia screeched in outrage, watching the laughing warrior retreat downstairs. Once Rayna was out of sight, light green eyes turned to the Queen. "Will it be possible to give Lexie and Blyth, if she's not involved, a public pardon? Lexie is worried about being banished."

"If she truly didn't have any part in all this, I don't see why not."

"Mummy, I...have something to ask and I know usually it's not allowed, but then nothing in my relationship with Rayna has been usual."

"You want Rayna to stay with you tonight," the Queen guessed. "You know...."

"I'm already with child, mummy," Arcadia interrupted. "It's just for comfort, to hold her and be held by her and relish the fact that she is home and all right."

Athena sighed as she looked at her daughter, seeing the pleading look on her face and knew she couldn't refuse. Arcadia was right, they had already lain together, she was already with child, the women of the island thought they had been joined in a private ceremony, what was the real harm. "All right, Arcadia, but..." she waited as her daughter jumped at her, hugging her tightly. "Only tonight. No more sharing a bed until you really are married."

"I understand and I agree." Arcadia grinned, bouncing around. "I have to go and tell Rayna." She kissed her mother's cheek. "See you later, mummy. I love you!"

* * * * *

It had been a busy day and eventful night. After the clean up at the Palace, a hastily put together party was organised, the women on the island wanting to celebrate the victory, the release of the Royal family and others, and the warriors returning home. Food was cooked and set up on tables, a band started playing up on the stage, and fires were lit for women to sit around. Couples danced, women drank and talked, everyone had a good time. The warriors were in popular demand, everyone eager to hear their stories of battle.

Tired of having to share her love with everyone else, Arcadia and Rayna finally bid goodnight to everyone and returned to the Palace. Hand in hand, they slowly walked upstairs together and along to the Princess' bedchamber.

Leaning back against the closed door, Arcadia gave Rayna a sexy smile. "I want you out of all your clothes, my love. I want to feel your skin on mine."

Swallowing hard, Rayna offered the blonde a small, nervous smile. "As you wish, Princess." Undressing, Rayna watched as the blonde did the same, amazed at how Arcadia's body had changed. "You are so..." She moved towards Arcadia. "Beautiful!"

"I'm fat!"

"No, you're with child," Rayna said in a low tone, watching her hand cover her love's stomach. "'Tis amazing!" she said quietly. "I can't believe..." She looked up into loving green eyes and leaned forward, closing the gap between them to claim soft lips. Wrapping her arms around the Princess, she pulled Arcadia closer as she deepened the kiss. Her tongue ran slowly along Arcadia's bottom lip, drawing a moan from the blonde. "I like these," she commented, as she caressed Arcadia's full breasts. "These are new," she gently teased.

Running her hands up and down the warrior's back, Arcadia frowned at what she felt. Not the usual smooth flawless skin she was used to, but bumps and the roughness of healing wounds. "Rayna, what..." she pulled back and turned the warrior around, gasping at what she saw. "What...what happened!"

"I was captured by the Romans and I...did something foolish." Seeing the Princess wanted to hear the story, Rayna sighed. "Your cousin Brock, who was captured also, was taken for questioning. He came back beaten, black and blue and bleeding. Then it was my turn. Only I was fuming mad at them, mad at myself....When I was thrown in the tent I just launched myself at the arrogant man standing in front of me," Rayna chuckled. "I choked him until the guards came in and dragged me off. Whipping was my punishment. Some will scar, but most should fade."

Wiping away tears, Arcadia managed a weak smile. "Let me..." she wiped her nose. "Let me make love to you. I want...I want to touch you and caress you and remind you of how much I love you."

Smiling, Rayna tenderly kissed the blonde. "That's the best offer I've had in a long time, love."

They moved over to the bed, Arcadia pushing Rayna to sit down on the end then moving in close. She kissed the warrior possessively on the lips, hands buried in dark hair, feeling the silky locks run through her fingers. Running her tongue along Rayna's bottom lip, she smiled as she was granted access to the warrior's mouth, dipping her tongue inside and caressing her love's tongue with her own. "I love you," she whispered pulling back to look down into lust filled blue eyes.

"And I you, Cadie. Always."

"And forever," Arcadia finished. Hands on broad shoulders, she eased the warrior onto her back. "You know, I think you've grown a couple more inches in height," she commented. "You seem taller. You've definitely got more muscle." She bent to claim a rigid nipple, her hair cascading down and tickling Rayna's naked skin. She flicked her tongue slowly back and forth before sucking on the hard nub and making Rayna arch up.

"Gods, Arcadia! Do you have any idea what you do to me?"

"I have a fairly good idea, my love," the blonde replied, running her fingers down between Rayna's legs. She traced the warrior's swollen lips, gathering her hot desire on her fingertips. "I missed you so much, Rayna. Seems you missed me too," she teased.

Her hips were rocking, the Princess' gentle touch driving her mad with need. It had been so long since they had last lain together. "Cadie," she whispered. "Did you ever dream?"

"Yes," the blonde chuckled. "I tried not to. Getting all hot and bothered during the hot summer moons isn't wise!"

Rayna moaned and breathed heavily as Arcadia softly traced every inch of her toned body with her fingertips, open-mouth kisses placed wherever the blonde wished. She let Arcadia do as she pleased, knowing this was something the Princess had to do to reassure herself Rayna was really there, was really home. All night, the blonde had barely left her side and had always had a hand on her or an arm around her. Rayna didn't mind the contact, she had missed the Princess just as much and loved the feel of the blonde by her side.

She hissed in delight as Arcadia kissed her way down her body, brief little teasing kisses that left her wanting more. She bit her bottom lip, body arching off of the bed as Arcadia's tongue lapped up one side of her swollen lips then down the other. "By the Gods, Cadie!" she cried out, a flash of heat shooting through her.

Arcadia gently stroked up and down, tasting her lover as well as teasing her. She felt Rayna's hand on the back of her head, fingers trailing through her hair, holding her in place. Though she wanted to draw this out after many moons apart, Rayna was so swollen and already twitching she knew it would be cruel to keep the warrior waiting. As she suckled Rayna's throbbing, hard, bundle of nerves, she easily slid two fingers into the warrior, her strokes matching those of her tongue.

Rayna cried out loudly, back arched high off of the bed, body aflame as she burst into hundreds of different pieces, trembling as she came. When she came around again, slowly opening her eyes, she found herself still lying on her back in Arcadia's bed, the Princess up beside her, blonde head resting on her shoulder. "Wow!" she mumbled.

Arcadia chuckled. "Was that...all right?"

"That was more than all right, my love. You always know what I need."

The Princess pressed a kiss into Rayna's neck and hummed in delight.

"Don't you...want me to return the favour, Cadie?"

"No, 'tis all right, love. To be honest I am really weary! After days of being locked away, unsure if they were going to burst in and find us, then you coming home and the party this evening, I think I could sleep for a week!"

Rayna smiled though the blonde couldn't see it. "Sounds like an idea. Though I have a feeling we won't be allowed to do it together!"

Arcadia snorted. "No. Sadly. Will you hold me? All night?"

"Of course. Goodnight, my love. I love you."

"I love you, too. Goodnight, Rayna."

The warrior placed a hand on Arcadia's stomach. "Goodnight, baby Banks."

Arcadia grinned widely and snuggled closer to the warrior, her life for now perfect.

To be concluded...

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