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

Bad language ~ No.

Love/sex ~ Romance between conseting women. If this offends you, you're in the wrong place. Go back now and forget you were ever here!

Author's note ~ Questions, comments & thoughts all welcome. Loves_to_write_fic@yahoo.co.uk

Copyright © 2008

Chapter Ten

Keera nervously fiddled with her armour, fussing over imagined problems.

A warrior had three types of armour - training armour, battle armour, and parade armour, which a warrior wore when meeting the Queen or other members of the Royal family. It was also worn when the warrior got married.

"Why are you fidgeting so much?" Rayna asked, from her seated position on Keera's bed. "You nervous, my friend?"

Keera spun around, wide dark green eyes locking onto amused blue. "Of course I'm nervous! What if this is a mistake? What if she changes her mind? What if I don't return? What about...tonight?"

Rayna stood and walked over to her friend, placing caring hands on solid shoulders. "Of course you're nervous. You are about to marry the girl of your dreams, the girl you have loved your entire life. This is no mistake, Keera. You two belong together."

The smaller warrior nodded, taking deep calming breaths to steady herself.

"There is no way Leslie will change her mind," Rayna said, confident she spoke the truth. "No way. She feels for you, what you feel for her." She patted her friend's shoulders and turned to walk back to the bed.

"And...uhm...what of tonight?" Keera asked nervously, seeing the blush that made its way across Rayna's cheeks.

"I can't help you there, my friend. Maybe you should talk to your mother?"

"By the Gods! No! We already talked a little about....it was...awkward and embarrassing, for both of us!"

Rayna laughed. "Well, I suppose you'll just have to see how things play out. Remember Leslie will be just as nervous and worried as you."

Someone knocked on the bedroom door before opening it. "It is time to get going, love," Karita said, as she stepped into the small, simple bedroom.

"I've got to get some fresh air," Rayna said, seeing that mother and daughter needed a few moments alone.

Karita nodded in acknowledgement and smiled gratefully. Left alone with her daughter, the spiky-haired blonde walked across to the bed and sat down. "You look very smart in your armour, Keera."

"Thank you, mother," the young warrior blushed.

"I know I don't tell you often enough, but I am very proud of you."

Keera smiled, looking down at the floor as she fought to hold off tears.

"Wow!" Karita sighed. "My second daughter getting married! Soon the house will be empty," she said, trying to lighten the mood.

Keera smiled and walked across her room, taking a seat next to her mother. "Yes, but I doubt Flora will go too far. She is devoted to farm life. And soon you will be a grandmother. Valentina is due soon, is she not?"

"Yes," Karita smiled proudly. "You know, you should visit her more. You've only been to see her and Cass the once."

"It's hard, what with my training. Perhaps when I return and have officially graduated, I will go and spend a few days with them, along with my wife," Keera smiled. "Besides, Val is here today, mother. I'll catch up with her after my joining."

"It is hard to keep in touch, but we should all try a little harder. Family is important."

Keera nodded, agreeing completely.

"Anyway," Karita said, standing up. "I wanted to tell you how proud I am, how proud both your mother and I are. I like Leslie. She is a nice young girl, who'll be a good wife, I'm sure."

Keera smiled, a faint blush gracing her cheeks. "Thank you," she said quietly, as she stood. She hugged her usually stoic mother tightly.

"And she is the only girl I've ever known to be able to keep you in check!" Karita joked, hugging her daughter back.


The guard laughed. "Come, let's get you to the church."

With the approach of Summer, the weather tended to be nice and Friday was no exception. The sky above was as blue as the sea that surrounded the island, a slight breeze keeping everyone cool, and the sky clear of all clouds.

The whole of the farming community, along with friends from other sections, and the Royal family, turned up to witness the wedding ceremony of Keera and Leslie.

Many of the rituals of a marriage ceremony had been brought to the island by the first settlers, and were now used, along with newer traditions, when women decided to marry. One tradition was that once a marriage had been announced, a wedding notice was posted on the church door, so that anyone who objected to the joining could come forward. Another was that the ceremony took place outside the church door, before entering as a couple for a last prayer and blessing.

The head of the church, Ulrica Parson, oversaw every wedding which was performed by the island's shaman. She stood slightly off to the side, watching on as the shaman took her place on the top step of the church, in front of the two young girls, dressed in her tribal outfit.

"Does anyone here know of any reason these beautiful, young women should not marry?" the shaman asked aloud, looking out at the crowd.

When no response came, she turned her attention to Keera and Leslie. "Would either of you like to confess to any reason prohibiting your marriage?"

Both girls shook their heads for no, giving each other small nervous smiles.

The shaman smiled and continued the ceremony. "Keera Shepherd, will thou have this woman as thy wedded wife? Will thou love her, and honour her, keep her and guard her, in health and in sickness, as a partner should, and forsake all others, so long as ye both shall live?"

"I will."

"Leslie Youngs, will thou have this woman as thy wedded wife? Will thou love her, and honour her, keep her and guard her, in health and in sickness, as a partner should, and forsake all others, so long as ye both shall live?"

"I will."

"Who gives these women?" the shaman asked.

Karita and Missy stepped forward. "I do," they said in unison, before stepping back.

"Keera," the shaman continued. "Repeat after me. I, Keera, take thee Leslie as my wedded wife."

Keera repeated the words, looking into Leslie's watery light green eyes. "I, Keera, take thee Leslie as my wedded wife."

"To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part."

Keera finished her declaration and smiled lovingly at her partner. The shaman repeated the words for Leslie to repeat, and then the couple exchanged wedding bands. Together they bowed their heads, getting a blessing from the shaman.

As a married couple, they entered the church, only their immediate family following them in, and knelt before the alter and Ulrica for a final blessing.

The head of the church read a prayer out loud, then blessed the couple again. The ceremony was over.

* * * * *

Everyone made their way from the church to the great hall, where a decadent meal would be served, before everyone got on with a proper celebration for the young couple.

The great hall was a timber structure roughly 50ft long, with a thatched roof and accommodated with long wooden tables and wooden benches to seat everyone. At one end of the hall, a main central table was set horizontally, allowing all those who sat at it to look out at the other tables, which were set vertically. Everyone was seated to eat the feast that had been prepared.

At the main table, Keera sat with Leslie by her side, their families joining them. Voices around the hall were loud and boisterous, as everyone talked and laughed, enjoying the food and wine that was served.

Wild pigs had been caught and roasted over a fire pit. A couple of cows were cooked as well, along with a load of fish that had been caught fresh that morning, to offer a variety to all those attending. Fresh bread was set out in baskets. Cooked vegetables and potatoes cooked a variety of ways were also available, along with a variety of fruits.

After the meal, the celebrations moved outside, where flaming torches had been lit and a band played music to entertain. The food that remained was lain out on tables outside, off to the side and ready for when people got hungry again.

Keera and Leslie, much to their embarrassment, had the first dance. They held each other close, murmuring soft words and blushing as everyone watched them slowly sway. After the song finished, everyone else quickly joined in, laughing as the young couple retreated to the table where their families sat.

Valentina spoke to her new sister-in-law, eager to get to know her, and answering questions on her pregnancy, knowing the young redhead would surely be experiencing it herself if not soon then in the future. The Shepherd family and the Young family sat with each other when not dancing or mingling, easily talking and getting along with each other. They all gracefully accepted words of praise and best wishes from the other women as they moved passed the table or stopped to talk.

Rayna, as the island's best young warrior and being beautiful in her own right, was in hot demand for dances. Blushing a lot of the time as her family and friends laughed and joked at her expense, she did her best to please everyone. As the beat she was dancing to changed from fast and upbeat to a slow number, she found herself in front of Leslie. She looked over at the band. "You trying to get me killed?" she growled playfully.

Leslie laughed, as she wrapped her arms around the tall, dark-haired warrior, and rested her head on a strong shoulder.

"You look amazing, Leslie. Truly beautiful."

Leslie blushed, keeping her face hidden from the warrior. "Thank you, Rayna. You yourself, look positively dashing, but then I expect nothing else from a warrior." She looked up, laughing at the blush she saw on Rayna's cheeks.

Dancing to the slow beat, Rayna knew Leslie had a reason for coming to her and waited patiently for the young woman to speak.

"Keera loves you like a sister, and you and I have always been friends," Leslie said, looking up into intelligent blue eyes.

The warrior smiled. "Ahh, true words." She winked. 'What's on your mind?"

"I...I don't know what you mean?"

"I noticed you working your way over to me. I assume you want to ask me something or tell me something." Rayna smiled. "If you're about to confess to loving me, you've left it too late!" she joked.

Sighing, Leslie lay her head back on Rayna's shoulder and held her a little tighter. "I have no right to ask this of you," she started.

"I'll make sure she comes back safe to you," Rayna finished, understanding.

"Thank you," Leslie kissed the warrior chastely on the cheek, eyes filled with relief.

They finished dancing in silence, Leslie's worries out in the open and dealt with. Standing apart, they both smiled as Keera approached, holding mugs filled to the brim with a deep red wine.

"Go hound your own woman," Keera said, with a wink for her friend. "She's over to the right side, on the porch of the great hall. Looking miserable, I must say."

Rayna hugged her dear friend. "You have a good wife here, Keera. If you don't treat her right, I will happily take her off your hands."

Leslie shook her head at the two warriors' antics, hugging Rayna before taking her new wife in her arms, as the dark-haired warrior walked away.

* * * * *

"Hello, Princess," Rayna greeted, as she emerged out of the shadows to stand behind the small blonde. Arcadia was leaning against the wooden rail that ran along the outside of the great hall, watching women dancing and enjoying themselves.

Arcadia turned and smiled. "Hello, warrior. You're very popular this evening."

Rayna looked passed Arcadia to where couples were dancing. "But I haven't danced with the one woman I wish to."

The Princess blushed at the words and turned back around.

Rayna leaned into the small blonde, resting big, callused hands either side of Arcadia. She breathed in deeply, savouring Arcadia's scented soap. Lavender? she wondered. One day, I'll get up the nerve to ask.

Arcadia leaned back into the warm body that was pressed to her back, feeling safe and protected with the warrior. Feeling...home. She sighed, watching Leslie and Keera share soft kisses as they held each other. "They look so happy," she commented.

Rayna smiled. "They are finally officially together and wed. Joined and ready to live the rest of their days together."

Arcadia turned her head slightly, feeling the warrior's warm breath next to her ear. "And what if something happens?"

"I'll make sure it won't."

They watched as the newly-weds slipped away into the darkness, more than ready to be alone with each other.

Arcadia turned to look seriously at Rayna. I want that. I want what they're about to experience. I want to fall asleep in my love's arms.

Rayna swallowed nervously at the look of deep love and adoration in the Princess' eyes. By the Gods! Is it possible she loves me as much as I love her? the warrior thought in bewilderment. It can't be, I'm just...a simple warrior, daughter to farmers. She can have anyone on the island! "Arcadia..." Rayna said in low tones, her voice husky.

"Yes, Rayna?" Yes to anything.

"Uhm...while I'm away, I was thinking..."

You want me to wait for you? Like my great, great grandmother Abrona waited for her true love. The Princess frowned. Wait, that ended badly....

"Maybe you should...go out with other people."

Arcadia gasped in shock, her eyes widening in disbelief. "You...you...want to break up?"

"No!" Rayna shook her head. "Well, yes, sort of. I mean, I lo-...care about you, a great deal. But, you should see others while I'm away because you are the Princess, the next in line..."

"I am well aware of who I am and what my future holds, Rayna Banks!" Arcadia replied angrily. She wants me to see other women! "And what of you? Will you be seeing other women also?" she asked bitterly.

The warrior frowned. "I doubt it, Princess. I will be too busy patrolling or fighting."

"Then why would I wish to date others, Rayna?" She took a larger hand in both of hers. "I care for you very much. I..." Should I tell her what I wish for the future? Or will that just scare her away? Arcadia looked into the eyes she loved and knew this may be the one chance she had. She had to say something. If they left things unsaid, who knew what the future could hold for them both. "I love you, Rayna," Arcadia whispered, eyes downcast.

Blue eyes opened wide in shocked surprise. "Wha-...?"

"I hope, no, I have dreamed of marrying you for some time now," Arcadia admitted, blushing. "I don't want to date other girls, I don't want to know what else is out there. I just...want you."

Rayna leaned in, lifting the blonde's chin with her fingertips and let loose all the pent up emotion that had welled in her chest, putting as much love into the kiss as she could. Pulling back, she smiled as the Princess followed her retreat, trying to reclaim her lips. "I love you too, Arcadia," the warrior murmured against soft lips.

The blonde whimpered and wrapped herself tightly around the taller girl, her tongue darting deep into a warm mouth.

When they finally pulled apart to get some much needed air, they still remained in close contact, their foreheads resting against each other, as they looked deep into each other's eyes.

"You know you have to ask me to marry you," Arcadia whispered quietly, a small smile dancing along her swollen lips. "I did, after all, ask you out on our first date."

Rayna laughed and squeezed the blonde against her chest. "That you did, Princess. That you did." Getting serious for a moment, Rayna took a deep breath. "I'm not going to do it before I leave," she informed the Princess, getting a small nod in response. "Just in case."

"I understand, love. And I guess, thank you." Arcadia kissed the warrior's neck. "I'm going to write to you, I hope you know. And I expect letters back."

Smiling, Rayna ducked her head and kissed the lips she adored. "I promise."

"Good. Now that we have got our future sorted, dance with me, warrior."

* * * * *

Keera looked down at the beautiful body she had been imagining for years. "By the Gods, Leslie Shepherd! You are...an angel!"

Leslie smiled and reached out to caress her wife's cheek. "Thank you, my love."

Keera smiled and lowered her lips to the peaches and cream skin of the redhead's naked stomach, trailing butterfly kisses up the bare, heated skin.

"Oh, my love!" Leslie murmured, threading her fingers through soft brunette hair.

Keera suckled a taut rosy nipple, flicking her tongue back and forth and smiling as her wife moaned loudly in delight, her back arching up off the bed as she seeked more contact. Keera moved her attentions to the neglected breast and lavished that with love as well.

"Keera!" Leslie gasped.

The warrior looked up. "Do you like that, my love?"

"Yes...yes, 'tis...divine!" Leslie gasped. "Keera...sweetheart! I want you so much!"

Smiling, Keera kissed a hot path down her wife's body, until she was comfortably settled between the redhead's spread legs. She placed a soft kiss on Leslie's dripping opening, moving back as Leslie bucked up off the bed.

"BY THE GODS!" the redhead screamed, fists clenching the sheets beneath her tightly.

Keera laughed softly. "You like that, my love?"

Leslie chuckled. "Maybe."

Still laughing, Keera lowered her head again and slowly lapped up Leslie's labia, drinking the divine sweetness she found. Reaching up, she fingered a hard nipple, loving the moans and pleas Leslie made.

"Keera, please! My love, I...I want you!" Leslie sat up, reaching out for the warrior. Throwing the brunette onto her back, the redhead straddled Keera's waist and smiled down at her gaping wife. Bending, she placed soft kisses up the warrior's chest, up her neck, to her lips. "I love you, my wife."

Keera smiled, warm hands reaching out to caress the redhead's naked sides. "And I you. Leslie...are you sure? We can wait, I don't mind."

"I am sure, Keera." Leslie reached down and curled her fingers around the hard shaft of the strange device the shaman had given Keera. The redhead explored the device, wondering how it was going to help them conceive, as her hand moved up and down cautiously.

Keera moaned loudly as Leslie's movements pushed the shaft back into her, pressing against her in the most pleasurable way. "Oh..by the...Gods!"

Raising herself to her knees, Leslie shifted down until she felt the device rub against her heated centre. She slowly guided the shaft to her opening and started lowering herself onto it. She whimpered as she sank lower, the shaft opening her and pushing further into her. She came to a stop as it became too much, a twinge of pain making her hesitate. "My love, I...can you..." They had explored each other before in private moments alone, but this was different, this time there would be no stopping. The strange device Keera wore was stretching the redhead more than she had experienced before and she was nervous and afraid.

Keera understood the redhead's trepidation and smiled softly. "It's okay, my love." She caressed pert breasts, drawing the redhead's attention away from what was about to happen. As Leslie threw her head back and moaned at the delicious assault on her breasts, Keera thrust up, filling her wife completely.

Leslie's eyes slammed shut and she cried out at the sharp sting of losing her maidenhead.

Keera sat up as much as she could, wrapping her arms around her beloved. "Are you all right, my love?"

Leslie's eyes opened, a small smile making an appearance, before she leaned forward to capture the warrior's lips in a passionate, possessive kiss. She wrapped her arms around Keera's neck and thrust her tongue deep into her mouth.

Breaking the kiss, Leslie looked deep into dark green eyes. "I...I am fine, Keera." Nibbling her bottom lip, she slowly started sliding herself up and down the hard device inside her, moaning as it moved smoothly within her depths.

Keera groaned as the shaft pushed back into her with each of Leslie's downward thrusts. Getting into the redhead's rhythm, Keera thrust up as Leslie slid down, both girls moaning at the sensations that flowed through them. The warrior, lying back on the bed, reached up, hands covering creamy breasts, squeezing in time with each thrust.

Leslie grasped Keera's shoulders, her eyes closing again as she throbbed and tightened around the shaft, not knowing what was happening or about to happen, but having faith in the shaman and all the advice she had been given.

"Oh, Keera!" the redhead panted. "Don't stop! Please, my love, don't stop!" She arched her back, moaning as she felt the callused hands on her breasts, sure fingers pinching her hard, aching nipples.

Keera thrust smoothly, her pace quickening as her desire raged. "Leslie!" she cried out.

Trembling, Leslie moaned aloud as Keera jerked beneath her, her hips jerking and thrusting the shaft deeper into her, making her quiver and cry out loudly at the heavenly heat and passion that filled her.

Strangely exhausted, Leslie collapsed on top of a panting Keera, both with their eyes closed, both thinking of nothing but their love for each other.

Chapter Eleven

Tiring of dancing, Arcadia led Rayna off to the side, picking up two mugs of ale to quench their thirst.

"You're a very good dancer, my love," the blonde smiled. "For someone so...big and..."

"Hey! I can be graceful!" Rayna protested.

"You can. You danced well." Finishing her drink, Arcadia took Rayna's mug out of her hand, putting it back on the table.

"What are y-...?"

Scanning the crowd to make sure they weren't being watched, Arcadia took hold of the warrior's hand and led Rayna over towards the trees, set on having some real alone time with her sweetheart.

Arcadia led Rayna into the forest until they were out of sight of the women celebrating. Hidden among the tall, dark trees, but still able to see each other from the glow of distant torches that lit a path nearby, Arcadia threw herself at her taller girlfriend, knowing she would be caught. Rayna wrapped her strong arms around the blonde and kept her off of the ground, as their lips met in a desperate, hungry kiss.

Thrusting her tongue into the warrior's mouth, their tongues gliding smoothly against each other, Arcadia wrapped her legs around Rayna's waist. The dark-haired girl's hands cupping her buttocks, Rayna squeezed each cheek in the rhythm her tongue set, making Arcadia moan.

The heated kiss ended as they broke apart for much needed air, both girls panting. They stared heatedly into each others eyes, gasping for breath, no words passing between them. No words needed.

"You've been driving me crazy all night," Rayna said quietly, as she lowered her head towards the blonde again. "You've got me so damn hot, I feel like I'm going to explode into flames!"

Arcadia smiled sexily, ducking her head down to run her tongue up Rayna's ear. "I know," she whispered hotly. "Me too." Kissing her way down the warrior's neck, the Princess stopped at Rayna's throbbing pulse and started nipping and sucking.

Rayna groaned loudly at the sensation of pleasure-pain, her head tilting to the left slightly, offering more to the blonde. She pulled Arcadia tighter against her, as her legs almost buckled beneath her. "Oh, by the Gods, Cadie!"

Arcadia unhooked her legs from around the warrior and stood on her own two feet. She ran her hands slowly up Rayna's shirt covered chest, briefly pausing at the warrior's breasts. Tilting her head back to get another kiss, the blonde started to undo the buttons on Rayna's shirt. Arcadia left Rayna's soft lips to start kissing each bit of heated skin she revealed, working her way down until she had Rayna's shirt open.

Rayna panted with need as Arcadia stepped back and began undoing her own shirt.

So far, they had only shared kisses and brief touches over their clothes. Arcadia wanted to progress a little further now that Rayna was about to go off for a year. She knew in her heart Rayna was the one for her and wanted the warrior to know she was serious.

The small blonde sat down on the soft grass and looked up at her dark-haired girlfriend, trembling in the moonlight. "Sit down, darling."

Rayna swallowed hard. If I don't sit down, I'm going to fall down! she thought, letting out a shaky breath as she took a seat next to the Princess.

"I uhm...I wanted to feel your skin on mine," Arcadia admitted quietly. "That's why I undid our shirts."

The dark-haired warrior frowned. "Do you...I mean, don't you think we're going uhm...too fast?" she stammered.

"Too fast? No, I don't." Arcadia picked at the grass beneath her fingers. "As soon as I turned sixteen, a long line of suitors were knocking at my door asking for a date because I was of courting age. But not just because I was of age or fairly good looking..." she paused, looking up sadly at Rayna. "But because I am the Princess, the next in line. A lot of them are only interested in that power."

Rayna looked sadly back at the blonde. "I love you for you, Cadie," she declared softly.

The Princess smiled and raised her hand to caress the warrior's cheek. "The day we met again, I knew..." she sighed happily, knowing she could confess her next words without scaring Rayna off. "I knew that you were the one."

In that moment, Rayna felt it. Her whole life clicked into place. Her path was set, her place was next to Arcadia. Smiling, she leaned forward and claimed soft pink lips.

Arcadia went to lie back, pulling Rayna down with her.

Positioning herself between the Princesses legs, Rayna held herself up on her forearms, not wanting to put all her body weight on the blonde. She wasn't sure that what they were doing was right, but it felt right.

They kissed, again and again, savouring each like it was the first and last. Brief kisses and long deep kisses that took their breath away and left them gasping when they eventually pulled apart, only for them to return again for more.

Arcadia slid her warm hands beneath Rayna's open shirt, stroking the warrior's warm, naked sides. "Rayna," she gasped, as they rocked against each other in a delicious way. "Make me yours!"

Rayna lowered her lips to the fair skin of the blonde's neck and started sucking and nipping.

"No...I meant...really make me yours," Arcadia whispered, running her fingers through dark hair.

The warrior lifted herself up a little more, looking down into the blonde's eyes. "What?"

"Make me yours," Arcadia repeated.

"Yes, I heard that. It's just...we can't."

"We can, love," the Princess insisted, reaching down to take one of Rayna's large, callused hands.

Rayna rolled over to lie next to the blonde. "Cadie, you know the rules, no...making love until..."

"Oh, Rayna!" Arcadia exclaimed in frustration. "I'm offering myself to you and all you can think about are the stupid rules!"

"Before tonight we had only...gone so far. Why the sudden rush to go further?" Rayna asked, frowning. "Is it because of that diary you read? One of your ancestors lost her love on the battlefield, now I'm going away you're afraid the same will happen to you?"

Before the Princess could reply, Dionis appeared and glared down at them. "Arcadia, get home, now."


"Don't mama me, Arcadia. Home. Now!" The Queen's consort had seen and heard enough to know what was going on between the two teens. She's in such a hurry to grow up! Ready and willing to give herself...out of marriage!

The two teens jumped up and quickly buttoned up their shirts, their blushes unseen in the dim light.

"Can I walk you home?" Rayna asked quietly, knowing the blonde was angry at her and wanting to make peace.

"Why bother," Arcadia retorted, storming off into the trees.

"Cadie!" Rayna protested, running to catch up with the angry Princess.

Dionis walked a fair distance behind the couple, keeping them in sight, but giving them some privacy as they argued. No one saw or noticed when two dark forms snatched her off of the path and into the dark shadows of the trees.

Reaching the Palace gates, Rayna pulled Arcadia to a stop before the blonde could hurry inside. "Cadie, wait, please!"

"Please what? I offered myself to you, Rayna Banks, and you didn't want me."

Rayna opened her mouth to say that wasn't exactly the case, but snapped it shut at Arcadia's next heartbreaking words.

"I made a mistake about you. I was wrong believing you were the one. I no longer wish to see or waste my time with you. As heir to the throne, I have to find a suitable mate to rule beside me. Goodbye, Rayna." The blonde spun away from the warrior.

"Wait! You...you can't mean that! Just because I wouldn't take your innocence when you wanted me to, in the middle of the damn forest, you're ending our relationship?"

Arcadia kept walking, not looking back or responding.

Her chest constricting in pain, heart broken, Rayna made her way back into the forest and along the path she had just walked, heading for home. For the first time, she realised that Dionis had seemed to have disappeared.

That could be a good thing, Rayna thought morosely, as she remembered how Arcadia's mama had found them. Maybe she had business somewhere else, but happened to stumble across us? But at this hour? Rayna frowned. Surely whatever business it is could wait until morn?

Staying alert just in case, she kept walking, even after she spotted what looked like drag marks in the dirt, knowing she had to find a weapon and quickly.

* * * * *

Dionis looked on helplessly as Rayna walked passed the bushes she was being held in, without breaking her stride. With two well built men holding her each of her arms, and another behind her with a hand firmly over her mouth, the ex-warrior could do nothing. She had tried struggling, only to be hit and handled roughly.

By the Gods! My love, I am so sorry, she thought to Athena. If only I had brought one of my guards with me. If only I had been paying attention to my surroundings instead of my upset daughter and her...whatever Rayna is!

The men started dragging her backwards through the trees, deeper and deeper into the forest, making their escape. Closing her eyes, Dionis prayed they made enough noise to attract attention.

The consort's eyes popped open as she heard the soft sound of an arrow flying nearby, her right arm suddenly free. Not stopping to think, Dionis yanked her left arm free and slammed it back into the man behind, before grabbing the man who had been on her left side and snapping his neck.

Looking down, she saw that two of the men had arrows protruding from their necks.

"Your highness, are you all right?" Rayna asked, as she swung down from a tree to stand in front of the Queen's wife.

"I am because of you," Dionis admitted, resting a shaking hand on the teen's shoulder. "I saw you walk past and my heart sank!"

"I had to rush to get my bow." Rayna retrieved her two arrows. "I keep one hidden in the forest and other weapons scattered around, just in case."

Dionis smiled. "Good thinking." I never thought of doing that.

"We should get you back to the Palace. You have to raise the alarm, Your Highness."

* * * * *

Dionis raced towards the Palace shouting for the guards up in the watch-towers. As the dark-haired woman got near, the Palace gates swung open, armed guards waiting just behind, ready for an attack and staring at the Queen's consort in confusion when they saw she was alone.

"We're being attacked! Lock down the Palace and get word to the warriors that we need them armed and out there searching. Someone sound the island alarm, I want as few casualties as possible."

As the guards rushed about to do their duty, Dionis raced into the Palace, worried about her family. Just inside the large door, she lowered the large wooden beam across the closed front doors, blocking anyone from entering. She heard the alarm sound outside, alerting the islanders there was an attack. Not stopping, she raced around the bottom floor rooms, blocking each and every window.

Done securing the downstairs of the Palace, she ran for the secure room which Athena's mother, Aaronia, had had built when she was Queen. She found her wife struggling to keep their daughter inside the room. Her in-laws hurried in after her and sat down on one of the padded seats in the room.

"Dionis, what on earth is going on?" Mina asked, her attention swiftly going to her granddaughter, as the blonde struggled with Athena.

"I have to find her!" Arcadia cried out, desperately trying to wrestle herself free from her mother's hold. "I told her I didn't want to see her any more! What if she doesn't come back tonight! I love her, she has to know!" The Princess broke free and ran for the door.

Dionis hit the switch that would shut the heavy oak doors and lowered a thick beam across it, sighing in relief as the heavy doors closed in time with a solid thump.

"Nooo!" the Princess wailed, turning to face Dionis with wet, wide eyes. "Mama, please! I have to find Rayna! Please, mama!"

Dionis stepped towards her daughter, gathering the sobbing girl into her strong arms. "I'm sorry, baby. This is protocol, you know that," she tried to soothe.

"Please, mama! What if she dies! What if she dies thinking I hate her!" Arcadia sobbed. "There must be something you can do? I can't go through the night letting her think I hate her!"

The dark-haired woman looked across at her wife, who was watching the heart wrenching scene.

Athena knew that her wife could have the young warrior sent to them, as a sort of last stand against anyone who perhaps managed to get into the Palace. Looking from her sobbing daughter and into her wife's questioning baby blue eyes, she nodded, giving her silent consent to the ex-warrior's unspoken question. Be safe, my love. "Come here, baby girl," the Queen said to her daughter, opening her arms for the blonde and wrapping her sobbing girl up in a tight hug.

With a last glance back at her wife, Dionis smiled and winked, trying to assure the blonde Queen she would be fine. Getting a soft, but fearful smile in return, Dionis opened the heavy doors of the secure room and left, hoping to find a guard who could do what she wished.

* * * * *

Keera raced up to Rayna, out of breath and eyes wide. "What's going on?"

"Intruders," the dark-haired warrior replied, continuing to dress in her battle armour. "Better get geared up, Keera." She looked at her dearest friend. "Proper as well, you have a wife waiting on you."

The smaller warrior nodded, understanding but still not moving. Intruders? Attacking the island? On my wedding night!

Rayna finished strapping on her chest armour and looked at her statue-like friend. "Keera," she placed big hands on the girls shoulders. "This is for real," she said sternly. "I know it's your wedding night, but get with it!"

Keera nodded, snapping out of her stupor. She reached into her cubbyhole for her armour. "How did you get here so quickly? I would have thought you would be off with Arcadia?"

Rayna's jaw clenched at the Princess' name. "I raised the alarm." She smiled at her friend. "I've already killed two, you're behind."

"All right, listen up," Zamira shouted out, getting everyone's attention. She was already in full battledress, her specially made bow slung over her shoulder. "This is what you graduates have been training for. Remember to keep a cool head out there. Use every one of your abilities, most importantly stealth. To you older, more experienced women, be guides to our new young warriors, they need your help."

The women who stood around either ready or still getting geared up, nodded.

"Our aim is to capture one of these bastards as a hostage, we need information. Okay, let's get out there." With an air of authority following her, Zamira led the warrior's out into the dark night.

Keera, Rayna and Bedilia, walked together, looking closely at the ground they walked on for tracks. One thing they knew of their enemy was they were heavy footed and left plenty of footprints.

"Did you and the Princess have an argument?" Keera asked quietly.

Rayna stopped and crouched, studying the grass closely and seeing a slight dent near the base of a tree. Someone was standing here for quite awhile! "What makes you ask?"

"We have known each other since birth, Rayna. I can tell when something is wrong or bothering you."

Rayna sighed. "She told me she doesn't want to see me anymore," the dark-haired teen said sadly, as she stood up straight and continued forward.

"By the Gods, Rayna! What did you do, put the moves on her?" Bedilia whispered.

Rayna laughed louder than she meant to and got glared at by their older guide. "No. She put the moves on me and wasn't impressed when I told her we should wait."

Keera and Bedilia gaped at their tall friend.

"She wanted to...she wanted you...and you stopped it!" Bedilia exclaimed. "Are you mad?"

"You know the rules, guys. No...joining before the wedding night." Rayna looked at Keera. "Did you and Leslie wait until tonight?"

Keera blushed, though her friends couldn't see it in the dark. "Well, uhm...not exactly. There are rules, but I knew...I know...Leslie is the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with. When you find your one, how many girls actually obey the rules?"

Rayna frowned. "I do," she said quietly. "She is the Princess. It should be special, not in the middle of the damn forest, where anyone could stumble upon us. It shouldn't happen because she is afraid of me dying! It should be passionate and slow, an expression of our deep love for each other."

Bedilia frowned at her friend as they stopped, their guide putting up a hand, signalling for them to get down low. The three young warriors crouched next to each other. "Why does she think you're dying?" Bedilia whispered. "Are you sick, my friend?"

Rayna shook her head. "Have you heard of Abrona?"

"Let me guess," Keera whispered. "One of her ancestors?"

"Yes. Her true love was a warrior. They were very much in love and everything was looking rosy, then the island was attacked. The warrior went off to fight and didn't come home."

Keera looked towards their guide, seeing she hadn't moved. "So now Arcadia is worried the same thing is going to happen with you two?"

"I guess. This was all before the attack on the island. Now we've been attacked...." Rayna trailed off, not sure what to say.

The girls stood as their guide stood up, walking onwards.

"Wow! You know what this means, Rayna?" Keera said in awe.

The dark-haired warrior looked at her friend in confusion. "No?"

"You really are her one. She wouldn't be so worried if she didn't care."

"And we all know you care deeply for her," Bedilia added.

Rayna smiled. "I could have told you that when we were back in school. Even back then there was something about her that made me..." she paused, searching for the right words. "Well, I would have done anything for her."

Keera laughed softly. "You usually did! Do you remember that crayon fight you had with Lexie?"

Rayna smirked and nodded. "Yes, I do. Good times."

"Okay, girls. We're moving up into the trees," Sherry Inman, their guide told them quietly. "No more of this talking, I want you to pay close attention, all right?"

The three young warriors nodded and followed the well built warrior up the nearest tree, carrying on their search for the intruders in silence.

* * * * *

Dionis sighed as she climbed down from the third watch-tower she had tried. She couldn't find anyone to help her, it seemed all her guards and warriors were out in search of the intruders. Surely someone had remained behind to protect the Palace? That is how it used to be and I haven't ordered a change! she thought in disgust.

The ex-warrior climbed up the fourth watch-tower, finally finding someone. "Thank the Gods! I have been looking everywhere!" she exclaimed in displeasure.

"Your highness!" the wide eyes guard exclaimed in surprise. "We have everything under control."

"Really? Are you the only guard to remain at the Palace?"

"I...uhm...I think so, your highness."

"Then things aren't under control. The Palace needs defending, a team of guards should have remained," Dionis growled, her stomach twisting in knots as she thought of her family being attacked. "I want you to do me a favour, warrior."

"Anything, your highness." The guard bowed.

"Go and find me the warrior Rayna Banks and send her to me inside the Palace," Dionis said authoritatively.

"But...but, your highness, she could be anywhere! We have sent everyone out."

"I don't care, warrior. I want a guard inside with my family. So find her."

"Well, I...I could send..."

"I hope you're not about to suggest I have anyone but the best watching over my family?" Dionis interrupted, a dark eyebrow raised.

The guard shook her head frantically. "No, your highness. Of course not, forgive me. I will personally find Rayna Banks as quickly as I can."

Dionis nodded.

"Your highness, may I suggest you go back inside the Palace."

The ex-warrior snorted. "That's my plan, warrior. Remember, Rayna Banks as quickly as you can, please." The dark-haired woman made her way back down the ladder and to the Palace, quickly securing the doors and returning to her family.

She joined her wife and daughter on a sofa, taking a seat between them, both blondes cuddling up to her. With her arms wrapped around Arcadia and her wife, they sat back and waited.

next part

Return to the Academy