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 Fourteen

The week seemed to fly by far too quickly for the warriors who were due to leave.

Dionis had the blacksmiths working day and night to provide weapons and armour of all sorts, and already had enough to go around twice. She had the gathering food supplies stored near the shore where a ship, sent by the Queen mother's brother, Cornelius, would be docking. They needed enough food to get them across to Britannia, which was their destination.

The Queen's committee quickly organised a public announcement, Rayna and Arcadia's betrothal being announced to everyone. They were both officially off the market, so to speak. The Queen made time to meet with worried parents and partners, letting them know she knew how they felt, sympathising completely.

Arcadia and Rayna spent every spare minute they had together. During the days, they walked, talking about anything and everything, except their approaching separation. They would disappear into the forest, sitting and enjoying the beauty around them, sometimes Rayna listening to the Princess reading aloud. Other times they went to the waterfall with their friends, spending hot afternoons messing around in the water, all of them carefree for the time being.

In the evenings they went to each other's houses and had dinner with the two sets of parents. They took short strolls to private, hidden places, spending precious moments kissing and assuring each other everything would be all right.

* * * * *

Rayna strolled around the cattle fields, checking the fences for any damage that needed seeing to. Leslie and Keera followed after the tenebrous warrior.

"So, cousin Arcadia wants you share herself with you, but you're reluctant," Leslie summed up.

"I've always thought it should be special. You can't get more special than your wedding night," Rayna sighed. "But though we want to marry, we're not allowed, because Cadie is the Princess and needs a big Royal wedding." She stopped walking to lean against a railing, a frown on her brow.

"Why don't you have a small do now and a big thing when we get back?" Keera asked.

"That's what Arcadia said, but we were turned down."

"So now what?" Leslie asked, feeling for the couple.

"Cadie went to see the shaman. She uhm...she gave us the go ahead to, uhh..." Rayna looked away from the couple.

"And you're going to?" Leslie questioned.

Rayna looked at the redhead. "I have given it a lot of thought. We should be married, but because of protocol we're not. So...yes, I am."

"It's a big step. Are you sure you won't regret it later?" Keera asked.

"If I get fatally wounded, I'll regret it. If I don't come home, Arcadia will have to live the rest of her life knowing I made the decision to not share something very special with her. So, yes, I am sure." She turned to face her two friends. "The only thing I am worried about is...the birth, if there is one. So much can go wrong!"

Leslie left her wife's side and slid her arms around the warrior. "Nothing will happen to Arcadia. She is so strong when she needs to be."

"It's not about being strong though," Rayna said sadly. "If the Gods decide 'tis your time...." she trailed off, unwilling to finish her sentence.

"Well don't worry too much, Rayna," Leslie said with a small smile. "She has me and I have her. We'll look after each other until the two of you return."

* * * * *

"It doesn't seem fair to me," Leslie commented quietly, later that evening.

Keera stroked her wife's naked back lovingly. "No, just because Arcadia is the Princess. They should be allowed to join now, then have a big affair when we get back."

Smiling, the redhead lifted herself from her very comfortable position, half on top of her wife. "I love you."

Grinning stupidly, Keera lifted her head far enough to kiss soft lips. "And I you."

Leslie settled back down. "Maybe the Queen is worried about..."


"Rayna not returning," the redhead finished quietly, knowing she had to tread carefully on the subject of death.

"Rayna will return. Of that I am sure."

"So will you!" Leslie said boldly.

Keera smiled and kissed Leslie's head. "Being best friends with the best warrior around does have its advantages."

"You're just as good," Leslie said defiantly.

"Thank you, my love." Keera thought back to what they had been talking about. "Maybe you're right. If they allow the Princess to marry Rayna and...something did happen, what if there was no heir?"

"I think...I think Arcadia would have to join with someone else," Leslie said quietly.

"By the Gods, that is terrible!"

"Mmm." The redhead giggled suddenly. "You do realise that when they marry you'll be related to Rayna and the Princess?"


Leslie sat up, smiling down at her partner. "Arcadia is my cousin. Abi, Ailis and Callena's first daughter, married Eleanor Black, whose mother was Teresa."

"Okay?" Keera said, puzzled.

"Eleanor's older sister Dulce married Diana Youngs, Tricia Youngs' youngest daughter. Tricia Youngs and Diana Youngs are ancestors of mine."

"Ohhh. Wow! So...we're almost Royal."

Leslie kissed grinning lips. "Yes."

Feeling amorous again as she gazed at her wife's glorious peaches and cream, naked torso, Keera rolled the redhead onto her back and covered her body. "How about we forget Rayna and Arcadia, and try creating an heir of our own?" she wiggled her eyebrows.

The redhead laughed at her warrior's antics.

Smile slipping from her face, Keera gazed lovingly into the eyes she adored. "You are so beautiful, my love."

Leslie reached up to caress Keera's cheek. "You always look at me like I am the only woman on earth."

The warrior grinned. "You are as far as I'm concerned."

Lifting her head slightly, the redhead capture her wife's lips with her own, moaning as the warrior slid her tongue into her mouth and began a slow exploration. "Keera...make love to me, my wife," she gasped, as the kiss ended. She heard no response, but her plea was definitely answered.

* * * * *

Rayna hid in the shadows of tall trees, watching the guards patrol. She had decided tonight was night, tonight she would express her love for the woman who owned her heart and soul.

As each guard disappeared around a corner, all lack-lustre in their duties after a busy couple of weeks, Rayna stealthily made her way along the wall towards her destination. Eyes alert and feet silent.

Getting inside easily enough, she made her way quietly upstairs, heading to where she needed to be.

* * * * *

A guard rushed into the office where the Queen was sitting behind a large desk, looking over papers she had received from her uncle Cornelius. "Your majesty! Your majesty!" the panicked guard gasped as she came to stop in front of the blonde's desk.

Athena looked up from the papers. "Sarita, calm down."

The guard took a few deep breaths, brushing unruly black hair back out of her face. "I...I think there's an intruder!"

The Queen stood in panic, eyes wide in sudden fear. Where is Dionis? Arcadia? "You think?" she questioned, as calmly as she could.

Sarita swallowed nervously, knowing she had failed in her duty. "I...I only had a brief glimpse of a dark shadow. I mean I...I think I saw a shadow." The guard took another shaky breath. "When I went over to investigate, there was nothing there."

Could it be...? We have been keeping a close eye on them. Athena smiled, surprising the guard. "It's okay, Sarita. Go back to your post."

"Your majesty?" the black-haired guard frowned in confusion.

"Make sure you pay better attention, and warn the other guards as well. If my wife hears of this, there will be major changes."

Sarita bowed and quickly retreated, pleased she hadn't been relieved of her duties.

* * * * *

Rayna slipped inside the large bedroom, and by the light of the moon shining through the open shuttered window, saw the dark form of her love under the thin covers. She quietly shut the door behind her, cutting off the little light she had, and made her way over to the beautiful, mahogany bed. She sat down as gently as she could on the edge and ran her fingers lightly through soft blonde hair.

"I love you, Rayna," Arcadia mumbled groggily. "Never forget that."

"I won't, love," the warrior replied softly.

Arcadia lifted the thin sheet she used during the Summer months. "Get in here and hold me."

Rayna smiled, though the blonde couldn't see it in the dim light. The warrior removed her shoes, trousers and shirt, standing naked before her love. She gently placed the gift the shaman had given her on the table next to the Princess' bed, wanting it in reaching distance. She slid into the bed and snuggled close to the blonde.

Sliding an arm beneath the pillow they were now sharing, Rayna slid her other arm around the blonde's slim waist and sighed in contentment.

"You will come back to me, won't you?" Arcadia asked fearfully.

"I will try my best, sweetheart."

"Promise me, Rayna. Promise me you will come back," the blonde pleaded, holding on tightly to the big hand that had settled on her stomach.

Rayna took a deep breath, stalling her reply. How can I possibly promise?

Arcadia sat up in bed, looking down at the dark shape of her betrothed as the moon disappeared, leaving them in total darkness. "You promise me, warrior, or I won't let you go!"

Rayna pulled Arcadia down into her arms. "I promise you, Princess. I will return to stand by your side, for however long you want me."

"I will always want you! I love you so much!" Arcadia replied in a strained voice.

"I know. I know, my love," the dark-haired teen soothed. "I feel the same." She kissed the blonde's head repeatedly, wanting the world and its problems to disappear and leave them in peace. She felt Arcadia tilt her head back, their warm lips meeting in a soft kiss. She opened her mouth in invitation, moaning as the blonde's tongue slid in, exploring and caressing.

Arcadia pulled back gasping and breathing hard, eyes searching the shadowy outline of Rayna's face. "Make me yours, warrior. If nothing else, I want you to have been my first."

Rayna kissed the Princess again, then slowly rolled her onto her back. "I wish for you to be my first also."

* * * * *

Athena left her office and headed towards the staircase. The Palace was unusually quiet, and so far, no one was in sight.

Oh, by the Gods! What if I'm wrong and we do have an intruder? the Queen thought as her pace slowed. Stopping at the bottom of the elegant staircase, the blonde looked down to the ground floor below, her office being on the first floor, then up to the second floor, where the bedchambers were, chewing on her bottom lip in thought. I could call out and have a guard here in seconds, she thought. But what if I am right and we interrupt something...intimate?

Finally giving in to her curiosity, the Queen made her way upstairs. Walking the long hall of the east wing quietly, towards her daughter's bedchambers, Athena crossed her fingers in hope that she wasn't wrong.

She paused outside Arcadia's bedroom door, listening carefully. She smiled and shook her head, as she heard soft moaning. I should really be mad, but, how can I deny them these moments? If it weren't for Arcadia being a Royal, they would be married anyway.

Her thoughts turned to her own wife, whom she hadn't seen but for a few stolen moments in the past few days. As she turned to walk away, she gasped as her face almost hit a solid chest. The Queen gasped again as she looked up into the amused eyes of her wife.

"My Queen, what are you doing sneaking around?" Dionis asked as seriously as she could.

Athena slapped a hand against her wife's stomach. "You big fool! You scared me almost to death! And as for me sneaking, you can talk! Coming up behind me like that!"

A dark eyebrow lifted in amusement. "Why are you checking on Arcadia? Isn't she a little old to..."

"She will always be my little girl, love." Knowing how her wife would react to finding out Rayna was in their daughter's bed, Athena took hold of a muscular arm. "And no reason, darling."


"Now, as Queen, I insist you take me to bed. I have many things to keep you busy and out of trouble."

Dionis smiled, a faint blush rising to her cheeks. "As you wish, my Queen."

* * * * *

"Oh, Rayna!" Arcadia moaned softly, fingers running through dark strands of soft hair. Green eyes looked down at the warrior suckling her breast, a warm tongue flicking over and teasing her hard nipple.

Not long after Rayna had slipped into bed, Arcadia had sat up and quickly lit a couple of candles, enabling them to see each other. She removed her night gown, exposing her body shyly to her betrothed.

Rayna complimented the Princess repeatedly, not moving as her eyes roamed freely up and down the blonde's body. She would have been happy to lie there looking at the Princess all night, but Arcadia had other ideas. She lifted the warrior's hand and placed it on her naked breast, sighing in delight as warmth enveloped her.

Slowly they had grown comfortable with being naked in bed with each other. After spending time kissing and softly caressing, Rayna had taken the lead, kissing her way down the Princess' neck, along her shoulders, then shyly and a bit hesitantly down to the blonde's pert breasts.

Blue eyes lifted as the Princess moaned, locking onto aroused green. "Is this okay?"

"Yes, my love. It...it feels wonderful." Arcadia smiled, and reached down to brush dark hair away from the warrior's face. "What is that gift the shaman gave you?"

Rayna looked over at the phallus she had put on the table next to the bed. "I....She told me..." Rayna cleared her throat nervously. "I am to use it...on you, or...in you, rather."

Arcadia frowned. "And it will help us to conceive?"

"That's what she said. Along with whatever it is she gave you."

Arcadia thought of the small bag the shaman had given her, along with strict instructions not to open the bag, but to have it close. The blonde had set it beneath her pillow.     

Arcadia and Rayna shared a wanting look as the warrior reached out for the phallus.

Rayna stood up and strapped on the strange device, acutely aware of curious green eyes on her, studying. Ready, the warrior turned to face the blonde, suddenly incredibly nervous.

Arcadia licked her lips. "Come here," she said quietly, offering her hand to the warrior.

The dark-haired teen climbed back on the bed, lying next to the Princess and claiming waiting lips. As Arcadia moaned and thrust her tongue into the raven-haired girl's mouth, Rayna slide her hand down the blonde's body to her thigh, her touch feather light.

Arcadia gasped and jerked in surprise as Rayna gently slid her fingers across the blonde's sex. She traced slowly up and down, circling, before parting the soft folds to gather more of the Princess' desire.

Rayna delighted in the feel of the blonde. She was so soft, and warm, like silk. Feeling the steady build of moisture that gathered on her fingertips, she remembered the shaman's words. She heard the changing of Arcadia's breathing, felt the way slim hips slightly lifted from the bed to meet the stroking digits. Rayna kept stroking, searching for the source of the wetness, knowing that this was where she would have to enter.

Arcadia gasped as fingers pressed against her opening, her body jerking at the sensation. "Rayna!" she cried out, as a fingertip dipped inside briefly.

The finger retreated. "Are you okay, Cadie?" Rayna asked worriedly.

"Yes, my love. That felt so...so..."

"Did I hurt you?"

"No, sweetheart. You just surprised me."

Nodding, the warrior eased soft thighs apart and positioned her body between them.

Arcadia held her breath as she realised what was about to happen. Though this was what she wanted, she was still a little afraid. She felt Rayna's hands on her legs, indicating she wanted the blonde to bend them. She did and spread her legs a little wider to accommodate Rayna's bigger, muscular body, feeling her sex open in invitation.

Balancing on one forearm, Rayna reached down between their bodies for the phallus. Holding onto it, she guided it towards the blonde's hot, wet womanhood. Noticing Arcadia biting her bottom lip in anticipation, she eased the tip of the phallus inside the Princess' opening, hearing a soft moan escape the blonde.

Not moving, Rayna watched Arcadia's face carefully, searching for any signs of discomfort or pain. Seeing nothing, the warrior pulled back a little, then slid in again, going a little deeper.

"Oh!" Arcadia cried out, feeling a little discomfort as Rayna started to spread her inexperienced walls a little more. The blonde grabbed at the warrior's shoulder as Rayna thrust slowly in and out, finally pushing deep and taking the Princess' innocence. Arcadia squeezed her eyes shut at the slight sting of pain.

All the way in, Rayna didn't move, looking down on Arcadia's face, wishing the blonde's eyes were open. Green eyes slowly opened and radiated nothing but love and desire. "Are you all right, my love?" the warrior whispered softly.

"I'm fine. It stung a little, but I was told to expect that." Arcadia was getting used to having Rayna inside her, and to being filled completely. Now that the first brief sting of pain had faded, she realised she wasn't feeling that uncomfortable. She rather liked having Rayna close, their naked bodies pressing together.

Knowing the Princess was all right, the warrior started her slow thrust again. In and out, her strokes smooth and slow, each one deeper than the last. Arcadia moaned softly, lifting her legs a little higher and feeling Rayna press even more against her, the phallus moving even deeper.

"By the Gods, Cadie!" Rayna moaned, her hips moving faster as she felt a strange warmth spread throughout her body, her muscles tensing in preparation.

Arcadia slid her hands down to Rayna's firm buttocks, pulling at the warrior. Her warrior. The bedroom was filled with sounds of their lovemaking, their soft moans, their gasping breaths, the slapping of their bodies meeting.

Rayna thrust faster and faster, climax almost upon her as the wet sounds of the phallus sliding easily through the Princess' wetness drove her mad with desire. The warrior's hips slammed against the blonde, jerking as orgasm ripped through her. She wasn't aware of Arcadia crying out, her body lifting up into the warrior's, as her own orgasm overcame her.

They lay panting for breath, Rayna still on top of the smaller blonde, unable to move as she fought for breath. Arcadia stroked the warrior's sweaty back in calming circles.

The dark-haired teen finally gently slid out of the blonde, removing the phallus, before taking Arcadia into her arms. "I love you, Cadie."

"I love you, Rayna. Thank you, my love. I know you wasn't sure about this, but..."

"I was sure. If I had any doubts, I wouldn't have gone through with it. I love you with all my heart and soul and want a family with you. As soon as I return, I will marry you. This is my word."

Arcadia snuggled against the warrior, her light head resting on a strong shoulder, eyes slowly drooping shut. "You better," she whispered, fingers caressing Rayna's stomach. She lay still, listening to the warrior's breathing, Rayna's chest moving up and down slower and slower as she fell asleep.

Without meaning to, Rayna fell asleep. The comfort of lying so close to Arcadia made the warrior relax and drift off, sure that she was safe and loved.

Arcadia lay awake, not wanting to sleep, not when they had so little time left together. She lightly ran her fingers over her warrior's rippling stomach, thinking back over their lovemaking. She had enjoyed it. She felt it had made them complete, sealing their love for each other, their two souls returning to one form for a brief moment. I wonder if it is wrong to enjoy it so much you wish to do it again? she wondered, fingertips playing with the soft hair on the nape of Rayna's neck.

The Princess felt her body heat up as she remembered their soft kisses, light caresses, their heated, naked skin sliding against each other. She could almost still feel Rayna's fingers, Rayna's breasts brushing against hers, Rayna's tongue!

Arcadia moaned aloud, fidgeting as her desire seeped out to pool between her legs. She got up onto her side, pressing her warm lips to Rayna's neck. She trailed her way down the warrior's neck, working her way along her collarbones. She smiled as Rayna moaned and shifted slightly. She softly kissed the warrior's breasts, taking a hard nipple into her warm mouth and sucking softly, before nipping the hard bud with her teeth.

Rayna's eyes shot open in surprise. "Cadie!" she gasped, lifting her hands to Arcadia's head, fingertips disappearing into soft blonde locks.

The Princess straddled Rayna's waist, rocking herself back and forth across the warrior's taut abdomen. "Rayna, I..." she trailed off, unsure of how to ask for what she wanted. She nibbled on her bottom lip, eyes half closed as she continued her slow, sensual rocking against the warrior's hard body beneath her.

Rayna reached up, callused hands caressing the blonde's naked sides, moving slowly up to caress her breasts, thumbs brushing over hard nipples. "Tell me, love. Tell me what you want. What you desire. What you need."

Arcadia gasped at the sensation of the warrior's fingers playing with her. "I...want you in me again!"

The warrior nodded, willing to give into whatever the Princess demanded. She watched the blonde lean forward, reaching out for the phallus, her pert breasts rocking forward. "Mmm, by the Gods, Cadie! You are so beautiful!"

The Princess wasn't paying attention, she had the phallus in her hand, a curious look on her face as she studied it.

"You'll have to get up, love, if you want me to put it on."

Arcadia rolled reluctantly to the warrior's side, watching as Rayna stood and started attaching the phallus to her frame.

"Did you enjoy what we did earlier?" Rayna asked curiously.

Arcadia smiled and nodded. "Very much. You made me feel so loved, your touch so gentle. I felt...complete."

Rayna lay back down and smiled at the blonde. "Do with me what you will," she said, spreading her limbs in a show of giving herself to the Princess.

The blonde licked her lips, so many ideas flooding her head. We have plenty of time to explore when Rayna returns, the Princess thought. For now, I just want her close. As close as I can get her. Getting onto her knees, the Princess soon straddled her lover, gasping as the phallus brushed against her aching sex.

Looking into Rayna's eyes, Arcadia reached down, taking hold of the phallus and slid it towards her weeping opening. She slid down onto it, moaning gutturally as it filled her again. She kept sliding down until she was seated on Rayna, the phallus deep within her. By the Gods!

Rayna caressed the Princesses naked hips and thighs, smiling encouragingly to the blonde, wanting her to experience whatever she wanted.

Placing both hands on the warrior's shoulders, Arcadia lifted herself, feeling the phallus slipping from her, only for her to slowly slide back down, both girls moaning at her action.

"Oh...Rayna!" the blonde cried out, repeating the act again and again, finding she liked it very much, but not as much as having Rayna on top of her. "Mmm...yes!" she moaned throatily, as Rayna got in sync with her, lifting her hips off of the mattress as the blonde slid down. They slowly moved together, their slow rocking progressing to faster thrusts, both girls moaning loudly as their desire and need raged. Arcadia felt her walls tightening around the phallus, her body trembling, muscles tensed. "Ohhh, Yes!" she cried out as she lost control, her nails biting into her lover's bare shoulders.

"Cadie!" the warrior cried out, close behind the blonde in climaxing, hips jerking up, the phallus plunging high within her betrothed.

Arcadia collapsed on top of Rayna, her blonde head on a strong shoulder, face buried in her warrior's neck, the phallus still within her, her soft walls pulsing around it.

Rayna wrapped her arms around the Princess, big hands caressing a smooth, warm back soothingly.

Finally, both getting their breaths back, the phallus was once again removed, and the two lovers curled up in each others arms, falling into a contented sleep, the world and its problems forgotten for the time being.

Chapter Fifteen

An hour before the break of dawn on Sunday morning, the warriors old and new, and the teachers gathered on the shore. The rest of the islanders watched on as most of their protectors got everything ready for their departure. A ship, sent by their allies from Britannia, was docked and waiting to leave.

The young warriors-in-training helped to load the supplies, the food, their weapons and armour, and gifts to the men and women they would be joining up with.

Each woman had different feelings on the upcoming journey. Some were excited, looking forward to seeing the outside world for the first time, going into action to put their skills to the test, to fight and protect their home. Others were scared, or worried. Some, like Keera, didn't want to leave new wives.

"At least a year!" Keera moaned, for the third time that morning. "I can't believe we are going to be gone at least a year!"

"Oh, stop moaning, woman!" Bedilia groaned. "You would be going off for a year even if we weren't at war. You knew this was part of a warrior's life, so quit complaining."

"Yessss," Keera drawled out. "But now I know the joys of married life."

Zamira Wood, their swords teacher, laughed loudly. "Bless her! You just wait until you have been married twenty years! Then we will see if you still think it 'tis a joy."

The warriors around laughed along with their teacher.

"I will," Keera replied defiantly. "Leslie is my soul mate. I will never regret marrying her, and will always hate any separation."

"Zamira," Juno, teacher of archery, called out. "That is everything loaded."

"Excellent," Zamira replied. She turned to the most senior warrior, the Princess' Royal guard, Leonora, who had decided to leave her post to join the fight. "Everything is loaded, Leonora."

The dark-haired woman nodded. "Good. Get them lined up for the Royal family to see."

Zamira turned to Juno, who nodded and went about getting the young warriors organized. Zamira and Leonora made their way over to Dionis.

"Your Highness," they greeted, both bowing.

"Zamira, Leonora," Dionis nodded in greeting. "Zamira, you have done a good job this season. They are all looking good."

"You know as well as I do that there are no guarantees in war."

The dark-haired woman nodded. "Unfortunately." Dionis turned her attention to the former Royal guard. "Leonora, you are sure of your decision?"

The guard nodded. "I served with you, Your Highness. We never saw any action and this is my chance to do something for our home."

Sighing, Dionis looked past the two women who stood before her and along the line of young warriors. "I am going to make Rayna Banks a commander. Any objections?"

If they were surprised, neither woman showed it.

"I think it is a good move," Zamira spoke up. "She is a fine warrior, the girls look up to her. She will be a good leader and won't take any nonsense from them."

The Queen's consort nodded. "I want you both to know, I'm not doing this because she is betrothed to my daughter. I have read the reports. She is the best serving warrior we have. Granted, she has no experience, but she's about to get that."

Both Zamira and Leonora nodded.

Dionis nodded again. "Call her over, would you, Zamira."

The sword teacher turned to face the patiently waiting warriors. "Rayna Banks, here, now!" she barked out.

Though confused, Rayna left the line she was in and marched over to her teacher, the guard, and Dionis. "Your Highness," she greeted, bowing respectfully.

Dionis smiled at both Zamira and Leonora. "Thank you, ladies. Good luck in your journey."

"Thank you, Your Highness," Leonora said. "We will make the island proud and safe, you have my word." She bowed, then turned to walk away.

Dionis looked at the waiting young warrior, the girl reminding her a lot of her younger self. "I never saw battle," she said quietly, only Rayna able to hear her. "Sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice. Then I look at my family and all that I have accomplished, and I know that I did."

"You will always be a legend, Your Highness. With or without battle experience."

Dionis smiled. "But now, your name will be mentioned in the same breath, and for that I am proud."

Rayna swallowed, touched by the ex-warrior's words.

"My daughter is very much in love with you, I am told."

Rayna shifted nervously, wondering if the dark-haired woman had somehow found out about what she and the Princess had been up to recently. Would the shaman have told her? "Uhm..."

"Come back safely, young Rayna. I doubt she will forgive me if you don't."

Sighing in relief, the warrior smiled and nodded her head. "I will do my very best, Your Highness. I am very much in love with the Princess, and plan to make her my wife as soon as I return."

Dionis smiled proudly, knowing her daughter had found a suitable mate. The smile slipped as she turned her attention back to the matter at hand. "Back to business. You are to be a commander," Dionis said.

"I am honoured," Rayna replied, bowing her head.

"With this title comes a sacred responsibility," the dark-haired woman said sternly. "To protect, to defend, to value their lives above your own."

"I understand."

"Do you?" Dionis asked. "Do you realise how much your leaving is going to hurt Arcadia? How...destroyed she will be if you fall in battle?"

"I love the Princess. I love her with all that I am, but I have to do my duty, Dionis. I have trained for this my whole life, I have to do this so that I can return not a hero, but proud for my small part in it, so I can hold my head up high, and be worthy of your daughter's love."

Dionis placed a hand on the warrior's shoulder. "You are worthy, Rayna. Whether you know it or not. I think her heart has been yours for a long time." Dionis smiled briefly, before growing serious again. Her hand slipped from Rayna's shoulder. "Should the warriors perish in battle, it falls to you to live your life gloriously, in memory of them."

"When I return, I will marry Princess Arcadia. We will have heirs, and when it is time, we will honour all those who fall by ruling the island, their home, fairly, and doing our best to make life just as good as it is now, improving and adapting to our peoples needs. I will recount stories to my children, telling them how brave these women were." Rayna looked boldly into blue eyes. "Those who fall will not be forgotten, ever. This is my word."

Dionis smiled and reached out to rest her hand on the young warrior's shoulder again, squeezing gratefully. "I am proud of you, Rayna, no matter what."

The dark-haired teen blushed as she bowed her head.

"Now, back in line. I believe my wife wants to get on with the passing out ceremony."

The chatter and noise coming from the ship's crew died down as the Queen took up a position where everyone could see her, standing on two large crates stacked on top of each other. Her family and the Royal guard stood close to her, a protective circle around her.

The blonde looked around at the large crowd and at the warriors, noting that as usual there was a big turn out for the young women who risked their lives to keep them safe.

"Women of Belleza," Athena said, loud and clear for all to hear. "We are gathered here this early morn, to honour our protectors. These young women, who when called upon, will defend us and protect us from attack, some laying down their lives so that we can go on."

Rayna shifted from foot to foot, trying to get a glimpse of the Princess.

"What are you doing?" Keera whispered, as the Queen's speech continued.

"Trying to spot Arcadia, but there are too many people."

The smaller warrior smiled, knowing her life-long friend was head over heels in love. Leslie had told her that her cousin felt the same. "Don't worry, my friend. You will see her soon enough."

Up front, Arcadia was doing the same thing in search of Rayna. Dionis fought the urge to scowl at her daughter's behaviour. "Arcadia," she hissed quietly.

The blonde stopped fidgeting and looked at her mother in apology. Turning her attention back to the Queen, she tried to stay focused on what her blonde mother was saying.

"For you women who have children leaving, or wives, be brave and be proud with what they are doing for us. Some set to give their lives fighting for something they believe in. In this moment, on this shore, be proud and stand tall, as I read out each of their names and hand them their graduating scrolls." Athena looked around the large crowd, making eye contact with as many as she could. "I am honoured to be their Queen, and to let them know that I respect each of them, that I am proud of them, and wish for their safe return."

The women in the crowd, the gathered families, partners, friends and grateful islanders, started clapping their approval. Once they were silent again, Athena started calling out the names of the warrior's.

One at a time, the warrior had to step out of line and walk to the Queen, coming to a stop before her.

"Warrior Rayna Banks."

Swallowing nervously and praying she didn't fall over, Rayna stepped forward and began her walk towards the Queen. Blue eyes locked onto the blonde Princess, who looked angelic, dressed in her best peach-coloured dress. Rayna couldn't help but smile at her love.

Arcadia couldn't help but gape back. Rayna looked awesome in her warrior armour. Her silver chest armour, with Royal crest etched into it, gleamed in the rising sun's light. Her tight, soundless, brownish-green camouflage trousers fit her perfectly, outlining her taut muscular thighs. I want to marry her and have children who look just like her! the blonde thought, almost drooling. Who am I kidding, I want to jump her right now, and I don't care how many people are here!

Rayna stopped in front of her Queen.

"Warrior Rayna Banks," Athena started. "You have proven yourself to your teachers and to your fellow warriors, to be a worthy and an able, fearsome and powerful warrior. What say you?"

The dark-haired teen took out her razor sharp, gleaming sword, and stabbed it into the sand. "To you, and your family, I give my sword, my service, and my life, Queen Athena. Do with me as you will." Rayna dropped to her knees and lowered her head.

Athena hid her smile well. Nicely said. The blonde Queen bent to pick up the sword and proceeded to tap Rayna's broad shoulders. "Arise, elite warrior Rayna. Commander to the troops."

Rayna stood proudly before the Queen and the Royal family, her eyes drifting to the Princess again, who was clapping wildly, watery eyes shining proudly.

Athena presented the warrior with a gold signet ring, to be placed on her right hand index finger. A small etching of the Royal crest on the ring. She turned to take Rayna's graduation scroll from Dionis, noticing her daughter only had eyes for the dark-haired teen. What a pair! Smiling, Athena handed Rayna's scroll to the Princess, a move that showed her acceptance of their relationship.

With eyes wide in realisation, Arcadia stepped forward, taking the scroll as the vast crowd murmured at this strange turn of events. "Congratulations," the blonde said, holding out the rolled up scroll.

Rayna flashed the blonde a quick grin. "Thank you, Princess Arcadia." The warrior took her scroll, then bowed and stepped away.

* * * * *

The ceremony over with, the warriors were saying their final goodbyes. Keera was in her wife's arms, consoling her, while their parents and siblings looked on helplessly. Bedilia stood with her proud parents, blushing a flaming red as they complimented her. Single girls of courting age, approached to wish her well and congratulate her on her graduation. Other warriors spent precious time with their families and partners, happy about graduating, nervous about what lay ahead.

Rayna stood with her own family, shocked as the Royal family stood in front of them, sharing kind words and well wishes. The two sets of parents talked easily with each other, praising the young warrior and saying their goodbyes, knowing she would want some alone time with the Princess before she left.

With their goodbyes out of the way, Rayna and Arcadia slipped away briefly, hugging and comforting each other, before Zamira called out for the girls to start boarding the ship.

"I can't believe it's time!" the blonde cried, arms wrapped tightly around the warrior.

"I will be back in no time, sweetheart. You'll see." She slid her newly received signet ring from her finger and placed it on the only finger it would fit on the Princess. "Your fingers are smaller than mine!" she laughed.

"Rayna!" Arcadia gasped. "You can't give me this!"

"I can. You are to keep it safe until I return."

Watery green eyes left the ring to look up into loving blue. "And...if you don't return?" she whispered.

A large hand discreetly covered the Princess' abdomen. "Then pass it on to our child," she replied quietly. "Tell her, or him, stories of how happy we were briefly, and how I...was a proud warrior, who died protecting the home I love."

"Oh, Rayna!" The Princess wrapped herself tightly around the taller teen. "Come back to me, please! Come back."

"I love you, Cadie. I will be thinking of you every moment." Rayna kissed the Princess' head, and nodded to Dionis, who walked up behind the blonde. "I have to go, sweetheart." She untangled herself from her love and smiled weakly. "Do something for me?"

Arcadia nodded, tears running freely down her cheeks.

"Every night look up at the star lit sky and know that I am doing the same, and that we are not too far apart. Remember I love you with all that I am."

Dionis held her sobbing daughter, as the warrior turned and walked away, not daring to look back at her distraught fiancée.

* * * * *

Dionis sat stoic behind her desk, staring at nothing. It was done. She had ordered the attack, the retaliation. She had started a war.

Athena stood silently in the open doorway, watching the conflicting emotions run across her wife's face. She walked into the office and across to the large desk Dionis sat behind. Stepping around the desk, the Queen took a seat on her wife's lap. "You did what had to be done, my love."

"But so many will die, or get injured or maimed," Dionis said quietly, sad blue eyes turning to look into understanding green. "A lot are so young, Athena. They haven't had a chance to experience life and now...now they might not get the chance."

Athena placed soft kisses on her wife's head. "You were a warrior, love. You know that sometimes these things must be done. My mother had to make some hard choices of her own while ruling."

"I know, but it doesn't make it right."

"Would you prefer our way of life was no more?" Athena asked curiously.

Dionis frowned at her wife. "Of course not! And...I know we have to do things to protect that."

"These people who attacked us wanted to rule over us, my love. They wanted to completely alter the way we live. They don't care that we get on harmoniously. They had selfish desires and wouldn't have cared who got hurt in the process of getting what they wanted." Athena hugged her wife tightly. "You should talk to my mother, Dionis. She can share with you her own experiences."

Dionis nodded. Finally smiling, she hugged the blonde closer to her and placed a gentle kiss on a soft cheek. "How is our daughter?"

Athena rolled her eyes and sighed. "She hasn't come out of her room yet."

"If anything happens to Rayna, she will never forgive me!"

"She will, my love. One day she will understand the choices we make, because it will be down to her to make some of the same or even harder choices."

"But she will still blame me. For a long, long time."

Athena nodded slowly. "Then she will grow stronger. And anyway," the Queen kissed her wife's head. "Rayna is our best warrior. Who says she is not coming back?"

Dionis smiled. "No one. Everyone believes she is one of the few who will come back."

"It doesn't hurt that you made her a commander as well," Athena laughed. "She could have everyone running around after her, if she wished!"

Dionis laughed and shook her head. "I can't see Rayna being that sort of warrior. She wants to be in the thick of it, leading the way."

The couple sobered as their thoughts turned serious.

"I hope young Keera returns also. Karita will be devastated if she doesn't, and Leslie."

"Many parents and families will be devastated. But we're protecting our people and our home."

Athena ran her fingers over her wife's arm. "Why didn't you let Karita go with them?" she asked curiously. "You let Leonora go."

"Leonora was in my class. She never saw battle and now that she had the chance she begged me to let her go."

"Karita was in your class also."

"Yes..." Dionis sighed. "This war...there will be losses, of that I'm sure. Leonora lost her wife and child during the birth. She has no family. Karita is about to become a grandparent, she has a wife and a younger daughter at home. I...I just couldn't let her go."

Athena nodded in understanding and kissed her wife. "I understand, my love." She stood up, holding onto her partner's hand. "Come, tall, dark, stranger. I wish to walk the Palace gardens and wish for you to accompany me." She grinned naughtily.

Dionis grinned and wiggled dark eyebrows. "Whatever would your wife say if she knew?"

"She is not home, and may not be for some time. Would you not let me show you...the sights?"

Dionis stood, bending to kiss the hand in her own. "Lead on, beautiful lady."

* * * * *

Arcadia sat staring out her window, the shutters pushed wide open to show her the glory of another day on Belleza. Her fingers rubbed Rayna's ring, as she prayed for her love's safe return.

She had remained at the shore until the large ship was out of sight, and had only left when Dionis had guided her away. Since returning to the Palace, the blonde had locked herself in her bedchambers, refusing food and visitors. Just walking to her room, she'd had to endure sympathetic looks from the Palace staff, empty words that made her feel worse.

Sighing, her head turned to glance at her large bed. The bed she had shared with Rayna for one brief night. After that night, they had been worried about being caught and afraid Rayna would get spotted on her way in, so had taken their lovemaking to the forest, and to the waterfall, the back end of the Banks' fields, anywhere they could get some privacy.

Smiling, the Princess covered her flat abdomen, wondering if they had been successful in their attempts to produce an heir. Mummy wasn't successful for two years! she thought sadly. Some poor women never conceive!

Resting her forehead against the wooden beam of the window frame, the Princess lost herself in memories of her time with Rayna, praying she could add to those in the future.

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