For general disclaimers see part 1

There is some violence in this part. But also a lot of love <g>. Just to let you know....

Thank you Cyndi, for being our loyal betareader!

Ripples in Time - Part 14

By Lois Kay and Cbar

Immediately after he had send Jaali and Baldric on their way, Erhard started to make preparations for the army to move. He had called his two brothers, Reinar and Brandur in his tent and given each of them command of a part of the army. When they were to leave their campsite, it would be split up in three parts. They would all travel different routes to eventually reach their mutual destination. Those plans had been made many moons ago, supervised by their general.

The three brothers took great care in thoroughly instructing their men and started to send them off in small groups of not more than eight, only two days after Baldric's and Jaali's visit.

Anyone who would have been paying close attention, would have noticed the roads were slightly busier with traffic. Regularly small groups of drifters or peasants would pass the few settlements along the river Meuse. They were traveling south and anybody curious enough to ask them questions, would change their mind as soon as they approached the small groups. Even from a distance the smell of unwashed bodies was enough to turn the most curious person away.

Sometimes the groups of drifters were rounded up by a patrol of Romans, who chased the men in front of them, sometimes slapping them with the back of a javelin or the flat of a sword to make them walk faster. The Roman Empire did not tolerate beggars and drifters within it's boundaries. They would be sent to labor camps to serve the Empire.

Most onlookers gritted their teeth when they had to helplessly watch their oppressor treat the prisoners like cattle. Only a few of them sported a slight smile, having heard the softly whispered stories and noticing how tall, muscular and really fair haired a lot of the Roman soldiers were.

Erhard had waited until his brothers and their men had left the camp. There was nothing left from the huge campsite, only a few blackened fire pits, scattered around the small valley. Silent witnesses of great plans and endless soldiers tales.

Together with his wife, Sigrun, and the other women, he watched the last cart leave. Five of the men were walking behind it, accompanied by his brother Reinar, who was seated on a horse and dressed up like a Roman soldier, as were the four men that were following him closely.

Reinar had turned around and raised is hand in a silent greeting, bowing his head towards Sigrun with a wink.

" You look handsome, Reinar," she had shouted. " Don't let the little ladies distract you!"

He had shot his sister-in-law a toothy grin, turned his horse, and followed his men, who were already on their way.

" You think this will work?" Sigrun softly asked Erhard while they slowly walked towards his horse and the small group of men who were waiting for him.

" Trying to deceive the Romans by pretending to be them?" Erhard asked. When his wife nodded he put a hand on her shoulder and slightly bend his head to look into her eyes.

"It was a great idea," he smiled. " But you know Mor, she comes up with the most genial plans. Trust her on this one as well, love. I have faith in her."

Sigrun nodded her head and shot her husband a small smile.

" Be careful. Okay? I want you back in one piece."

" I will be careful," Erhard promised. " As soon as it's safe we will send for you and the others. And remember, stay out of sight. And if anything might go wrong, take all women and children and bring them east, until you meet the Chamavi tribe. They will take you in and give you shelter and I..."

" Ssshh."

Sigrun interrupted her husband by putting her fingers against his mouth. Her blue eyes shone with unshed tears and almost looked violet in the light of the early morning.

" You will be back," she whispered. " I am sure of that. Just be careful. And tell Mor she is gravely missed here, so she'd better be back soon as well."

Erhard brought his face close to his wife's and softly kissed her.

" I will be back," he promised. " Make sure you'll have a whole pile of those honey nut pastries when we come back. You know how many of those Mor can put away!"

Sigrun laughed and playfully swatted her husband in the stomach.

" You and Mor together," she chuckled. " May the Gods be with you, my love. And with all the other men and boys. And with our General."

The first thing Mor became aware of, after opening her eyes, was the warm pressure against her right side and the tickling of hair against her face.

When she reluctantly opened her eyes, she noticed Isa's head,firmly tucked underneath her chin. Her small body was practically plastered against her taller one and Mor smiled, letting a happy sigh escape her lips.

She carefully tightened her grip on her lover and tried not to chuckle when that action was met by an unintelligible mumble. In her sleep, Isa snuggled even closer and let out a little moan of pleasure when her body felt even more comfortable then before.

Mor stared at the ceiling of the cave and watched the flames of the fire cast light and shadows across the yellow stone. Her thoughts turned back on the last few days and she smiled. All had been going really well. Jaali, Baldric and Isa had been impressed by the preparations Mor had been making and they had walked around the caves in awe. There were rows and rows of barrels and boxes, containing all sorts of things. Huge piles of furs and blankets. An enormous amount of dried herbs. Bags of flour and grains. Wine and water. Tools, ropes and weapons.

Wide eyed Isa had stared at her lover and had let out a soft whistle.

" Are you expecting an army?" she had innocently asked.

" As a matter of fact, I am," Mor had answered, nodding towards Baldric. " I suspect Erhard gave you a message?"

The young boy had immediately pulled his tunic over his head to turn it inside out, which elicited a snort from his sister who had been watching him with teasing eyes.

" By the Gods, brother. Are those muscles?" she had teased.

Baldric had shot Isa a look full of pity and had just shrugged his shoulders.

" Jealous?" he had grinned, flexing his arms, knowing his sister was just teasing him.

" Yes," Isa had sighed, enjoying the bantering. " I always wanted to have the body of a God."

Before Mor even had a chance to stop and think about it she had mumbled: 'You do."

Isa had shot her a surprised look. Baldric had just looked embarrassed, while Jaali had sported a smile, that became a full fledged grin when he noticed Mor's blush.

To Mor's sensitive ears the silence had been deafening, until Isa started chuckling and had walked up towards the tall woman, wrapping her arms around a slender waist and carefully hugged her.

" Thank you, honey," she had lovingly said. " I know I don't have the body of a goddess, but I am glad you think so anyway."

The corners of Mor's eyes wrinkled when she smiled, remembering. She had not meant to make a remark like that, but somehow the words had just flown out of her mouth. And she didn't regret it. In her eyes Isa had the most beautiful body she had ever seen. Her lover was small and compact, but to Mor's loving eyes every part of her body was the right size and had the perfect proportion.

Mor gently kissed Isa's forehead, careful not to wake her lover, but suddenly needing the contact.

Where did that come from, warrior?

Mentally Mor shrugged her shoulders. The Gods knew where it came from. All she knew was that she loved Isa with an intensity she had never felt before. In the short period of time they had know each other, Isa had become the most important part of Mor's life.

I couldn't live without you, Isa. Not anymore.

That unexpected thought almost took Mor's breath away. Her heart had skipped a beat and suddenly she felt the palms of her hands go sweaty.

Her brain started to chew on that very same thought and slowly Mor could feel her body relax. She realized she had accepted the fact that she loved Isa more than life itself. And a life without the small blond woman was not something she was willing to face. She would go through hell and back to keep her lover safe.

" I would do anything," she soundlessly whispered, still staring at the ceiling above being very aware of the warm body she was holding in the circle of her arms.

Isa choose that moment to open a pair of sleepy green eyes and she smiled contentedly when she realized she was still in Mor's arms, where she had fallen asleep the evening before. And she was still very comfortable.

" Morning, general," she mumbled, earning a smile from her dark friend.

" Morning, sleepyhead," Mor answered, kissing a warm temple. " Your face seems to look a lot better today."

" It feels better too,"Isa confessed, touching her cheek with her fingertips. " It's not swollen anymore, is it?"

" No, the swelling is down," Mor affirmed. " It's only the bruises and those little cuts, but they are healing really well. Does it still hurt?"

" A little," Isa said, rubbing her cheek a little harder. She pulled a face and smiled. " I think I can even laugh now without hurting myself. I haven't been able to do that for a few days."

" Oh, well, that's good," Mor chuckled. " That is definitely an improvement."

" I think so, " Isa sighed, burying her face in Mor's neck and breathing in the scent that was distinctively her lover's.

" What were you mumbling, when I woke up?"

Mor's body slightly stiffened, enough for Isa to notice, but she didn't say anything about it.

" Just before I opened my eyes, you said something about you would do anything," she softly explained, knowing she had to tread lightly if she wanted Mor to talk to her. " What was that about, honey? Are you worried about the battle?"

Mor took the time to think about Isa's question. She wanted to be honest, but she also wanted Isa to understand. And somehow Mor did not think Isa would be pleased with the ideas that were going through her head at that moment.

" I...I was thinking about the battle, yes," she slowly answered, carefully choosing her words. " It's going to be a fierce one. There will be a lot of...bloodshed, because I don't think those Romans will surrender to us. Desperate soldiers can do desperate things."

" Are you afraid?" Isa asked.

" Not for myself," Mor answered, casting a look in a pair of deep green eyes, that looked at her calmly.

" For your soldiers?" Isa asked, knowing full well that was not the case. In her heart she already knew what Mor was worried about, but she wanted her lover to be the one to bring the subject up.

" My soldiers are trained well, better than those Romans, I am sure," Mor smiled. " Most of them are personally trained by Erhard and his brothers or me. No, I have faith in them. I almost feel sorry for those Romans."

Mor let out a deep sigh and gently scratched the back of Isa's neck, knowing it was something that relaxed her lover.

" Isa....?"

" Mmmm?" Isa almost purred, thoroughly enjoying the feeling of those strong fingers against her skin.

" Isa, I...have been thinking that maybe....a lot of my soldiers have families. The Romans occupied their ancestor's lands and chased them off. Some of them were slaves, prisoners or gladiators that managed to escape, anyway....their families are in the east and they will wait until....."

" No, " was the simple response from the small woman in her arms.

" But Isa, I...."

Isa lifted her head and a pair of suddenly blazing green eyes looked at Mor, with steel determination.

" No, " she repeated.

" You don't even know what..."

" I do know," Isa interrupted. " You want to send me east, out of harms way, at least that's what you think. The answer is 'no' Mor, I am not leaving you."

" But.."

" Mor," Isa sighed. " The Gods know I love you, but I could really hurt you right now. Why do you want to send me away?"

" Because it will be dangerous for you to stay here. This whole valley will be drenched in blood soon," Mor answered, gritting her teeth. " I don't expect us to lose this battle, but if we do, I don't want you to fall into Roman hands. Isa, please! I need you to be safe. I would do anything to keep you safe," she ended with a desperate whisper.

Isa lifted up her head so Mor could see her face when she talked to her.

" Honey, if the impossible happens and your...our army loses. What would happen to you?"

" I will never let those bastards capture me alive," Mor almost growled. " I will stay out of their hands, or die trying."

Isa swallowed and tried not to think about that option. Just the idea made her stomach churn with a feeling of nausea. And nervousness. Her fingers touched Mor's cheek and lovingly caressed the soft, tanned skin.

" What would you do if I died?" she softly asked, immediately seeing the panic in her lover's blue eyes.

" Isa," Mor croaked. " I..."

" What would you do?" Isa patiently repeated, determined to make her lover see her point of view.

" I can't live without you," Mor confessed, while a tear slid from the corner or her eye.

" And I can't live without you," Isa gently smiled. " I can't leave you Mor. If things were reversed, would you leave me?"

Mor's arms around Isa's body tightened and she was pulled into a bone crushing hug. Underneath her ear she could hear the rapid heartbeat and erratic breathing of the tall warrior, who desperately tried to control her tears.

" No," the whispered answer finally came. " I wouldn't leave you. But I don't want anything to happen to you, Isa."

" You will make sure I am safe," Isa spoke with confidence. " All I need to do is stay close to you. Right?"

" Right," the tall woman gave in with a shuddering breath.

It was a nice, sunny spring morning. With appreciation Jaali looked at the sky, that was slowly coloring a bright pink, heralding a new day.

Stretching his huge body he felt a vertebrae pop back into place and Jaali groaned with pleasure. Those last ten seasons he had mostly slept on the floor and he had gotten used to it. But the last few days his bed consisted of soft furs and blankets and he had noticed he needed to get used to that again. With a grin Jaali rolled his shoulders.

" I am not complaining though," he mumbled to himself, while his eyes followed a hawk that was flying high over the forest, gliding on the wind and apparently looking for a tasty breakfast.

" Good hunting, my friend," Jaali whispered, admiring the independent, sleek hunter.

He turned to walk back to the cave, when a soft sound reached his ears. Outwardly not responding Jaali jumped up and down a bit, to give the impression he was loosening his muscles. But his ears were perched.

After his little warm up Jaali started fighting an invisible opponent with a small stick he had picked up from the ground. His moves were swift and secure and with the rising sun kissing the dark skin, he was an awesome sight to see.

Casually strolling towards the tree line, where the hill rolled down in a steep drop, he softly whistled, apparently utterly enjoying his early morning activities. Now and then casting a look up to the sky, where the hawk was still circling to find a prey.

A small smile spread over Jaali's dark face and in the language of his mother he whispered: " I beat you to it, today, my friend."

With a motion that was so quick that his movement was only a blur, he stepped towards the tree line, stretched out his arm and pulled a frightened and struggling young man out of the bushes. His face was whiter than a fluffy summer cloud and his hazel colored eyes were wide with fear. Jaali loosened the grip on the boys arm when he could feel him trembling.

" State your business," he growled, while he made certain the boy had a good look at his flaring nostrils and fierce brown eyes.

" I...I......," the boy stammered. "!"

Suddenly he thrust out his hand and showed Jaali an item that he had been clenching so tightly it had left an impression in his skin.

With a frown Jaali picked up a small, smooth pebble that was adorned with a tiny picture of a hawk. In pure reaction his eyes searched the sky again and he smiled when he heard the triumphant cry of the bird of prey. Immediately Jaali felt a cold shiver travel down his spine and he let go of the young boy's arm.

By the Gods! Could this be an omen? Are the Gods really siding with my warrior friend?

" What is the name of the person you are looking for and who sent you, boy?" Jaali softly asked.

" I am looking for the gene...for Mor and Erhard sent me," the boy answered, feeling a little less frightened, since the huge, dark man had let go of his arm. " I am a scout to the General's army."

" What is your name, my friend?" Jaali gently asked, knowing he had probably scared the breeches off of the poor boy.

" Arvid!" a surprised voice suddenly sounded from the cave entrance about ten lengths above the ground.

The boy looked up and a huge smile spread across his youthful features.

" General Mor!" he greeted, raising his hand in greeting.

Mor waved back and disappeared down the small track that would bring her to the platform. In the meantime Jaali had crossed his arms and stared at the boy who was still standing in front of him.

" You need some lessons in slithering like a snake, my young friend," he friendly stated. " You and young Elojo wake up the dead sneaking through the forest."

Mor appeared on the platform and a few long strides brought her alongside Jaali. She extended her hand and clasped the young boy's forearm in greeting.

" It is good to see you, Arvid. You have grown taller since the last time I saw you."

Arvid cast down his eyes and tried not to blush. His friends always teased him about his hero worship for their General, but Arvid did not care. When he was only eight seasons old, Mor was the one who had pulled him from a burning stable, risking her own life in the process, because the beams in the ceiling had started to snap in half one by one, covering them both with burning cinders. He was unharmed, but Mor's hair had been singed and had needed to be cut real short. Every time Arvid saw her long, dark hair, that had slowly grown back, he was reminded of that day and thanked his Gods for sending her his way. He has lost his parents that day, but the families in Mor's army had taken him and his brother in, with open arms and treated them like their own.

" Erhard sent me to scout, general," Arvid said with obvious pride.

" He did good," Mor acknowledged her commander's choice and she could almost see the young boy grow.

" Thank you, general," he whispered, nervously shuffling his feet.

" Are you hungry, my friend?" Mor asked, putting a hand on his shoulder. " I am afraid I don't have Sigrun's honey nut pastries, but we do have some fresh bread and stew."

" I am starving, General," he shyly confessed, looking up at Mor. " I had my last meal before sunset. I think I..."

He suddenly stopped in mid sentence, staring at a point over Mor's shoulder and curious she turned around to see what had startled the boy.

A feeling of warmth spread through her body when she spotted the slender frame of Isa on the ledge in front of the cave. She was wearing a forest green tunic and her long, blond hair was cascading down her back and over her shoulders. The sunlight highlighted her hair and seemed to turn it into a shiny red gold.

Mor smiled at her lover and turned back to Arvid, who was still staring open mouthed at her lover.

" Arvid?" she gently prodded, her eyes twinkling with amusement.

Arvid swallowed and slowly broke away his gaze from the beautiful woman, who was looking down at them with a puzzled expression on her face.

" Goddess," he whispered.

" No, Isa," Mor smiled. " But yes, I can understand the confusion."

After hearing those words Jaali threw back his head and laughed out loud. Mor joined him and pulled in Arvid for a quick hug, making sure the boy knew they were not laughing at his expense.

" Sauda, you are still the little rebel I took under my wings all those seasons ago," Jaali laughed, wiping away the tears in his eyes. " I had not seen that part of you for a long, long time. I am grateful it still exists, my warrior."

Mor shrugged her shoulders and smiled at her old friend. He was right, she knew that. Her feelings had been dead for such a long time. But all that had seemed to change. Isa had changed that. For the first time in seasons she was alive again.

" This big, laughing man is my friend, Jaali, " she introduced Arvid to the still snickering dark man. " And that beautiful woman up there is Isa. Come on, she makes the best stew you ever had."

" She will be needing to make a lot of that," Jaali mumbled. " I am sure we can expect the first groups of men before this day is over."

Mor cast a look over her shoulder and nodded. She knew Jaali was right and that knowledge filled her with a feeling of nervous anticipation. Her eyes traveled back to the ledge and she said a silent prayer to the Gods to keep her lover safe.

" We are ready, " she answered Jaali. " We have planned this for a long time."

"Since they burned down your village and killed your grandmother," Jaali softly said.

Mor stood still and turned around to look at him and for a second Jaali could see the same pain he had seen when he had grabbed the young Mor in his arms and she had kicked his shins, trying to get away.

" Yes," she whispered. " Ever since."

" Then let it be so. For all the blood and innocence lost."

Erhard's brother, Brandur had been one of the first ones who had left their camp. He and his men had made good time. They had been rowed across the river by a few older men, who were in charge of making sure a considerable part of the army would be able to safely cross the river Meuse. The other part of the army would take a different route. They would travel alongside the river, down south and they would cross the river south of Trajectum Mosa. They would continue in a northwestern direction until they reached the caves.

Brandur's journey had been rather uneventful. The only thing he and his men had encountered was a small group of deer, of which they had managed to kill two. Feeding an army was not an easy task and Brandur knew the meat would be appreciated.

Unlike his brother Reinar, Brandur was clad in the outfit of a peasant. Dark gray breeches and a same color tunic, covered by a long, hooded cloak. The only thing that would make him look suspicious, would be the horse he was riding. Any trained eye would notice it's build and recognize it for what it was, a trained war horse. And that same trained eye would probably wonder what was hidden underneath the long cloak, that flowed elegantly over the horse's back, but didn't manage to hide the hilt of the sword that was clearly visible when the wind slightly lifted up the fabric.

Until now they had not encountered anything or anybody who could endanger their mission. With a content face Brandur cast a look over his shoulders, to see if his men were still following close behind and he missed the danger in front of him.

His horse followed the track they had been riding on for hours and just went around a bend, when a small Roman patrol suddenly blocked it's way. It was a sinister twist of fate that they met each other on the only stretch of the road for leagues, that wasn't straight and easy to oversee.

Brandur's startled horse sensed his rider's tension and responded in the way it was trained for. It raised itself on his hind legs and tried to trample the men that were blocking it's way.

But the Roman soldier in the front had years of experience on the battle field and he had sidestepped the horse as soon as he saw it raise itself.

Before Brandur knew what was happening, he was looking at a crossbow that was aimed at his chest.

He turned his head and tried to signal the men that was following him closely, but only partially succeeded. Three men could not stop their horses in time, but the four men behind them had understood the hand signals and quickly jumped off their horses. Their weapons were drawn and ready.

" Can I help you?" Brandur politely asked, turning to the Roman soldier who seemed to be in charge.

" Off your horse," The Roman commanded, gesturing with his crossbow.

For a moment Brandur debated with himself. The crossbow that was pointed at his chest made him vulnerable, but descending his horse would rob him from his best way of defense, which would be making a quick getaway.

" You will have to excuse me" he said, apologetically shrugging his shoulders. " I have hurt my leg a few days ago and I can't get down that fast. You will need to give me some time."

And you will need to allow my soldiers the time to sneak up behind you, you Roman pigs!

Brandur patted his left leg and leaned forward, slowly putting his left leg over the horse's back and sliding onto the ground, making sure his horse was between himself and the Roman. He did not forget to limp when his feet hit the track and with an exaggerated groan he carefully stretched his legs.

" Cursed pagan's," he muttered.

" What was that?" the Roman soldier quickly asked, not at all pleased with the fact he could not see what Brandur was doing.

" The pagan's," Brandur raised his voice. " They shot an arrow in my leg and left me bleed to death. Nearly killed me."

Curious about Brandur's story, the Roman soldier had lowered his crossbow and stepped a little closer.

" What pagans?" he asked with interest, knowing his commander would probably love to hear a story about the heathens that roamed the forests in the east. Maybe he would send them out on patrol and they would be able to bring a few of those barbarians back alive.

" I think he's referring to us," a voice suddenly sounded behind him and before the Roman patrol realized what was happening, they were engaged in a fight with a few rebels.

Brandur drew his sword and attacked the Roman that was the leader. The man had his sword in his left hand and his cross bow in his right. As soon as he saw the tall frame of Brandur advance on him, he aimed the crossbow and fired it.

One of Brandur's man had seen the danger, but his warning had come too late. The crossbow bolt hit Brandur in the middle of his chest and he went down immediately.

The Roman soldier had no time to ponder over his victim, as the long blade of a sword pierced the skin of his back and with a sickening crunch twisted to the side to sever his backbone. He crashed to the ground, while his intestines emptied themselves and his last conscious thought was focused on the question why his legs felt like they did not belong to him anymore. Then everything went black.

" Brandur, Brandur," an urgent voice called out his name.

Brandur could hear the sound, but it was like it was coming from a great distance and he tried to shake the fog that had seemed to cloud his vision.

" Yeah, yeah, " His voice rasped. " I am getting up, I...."

His blue eyes snapped open and looked around with a bewildered expression.

" What in the name of Thor....?"

" You got hit by a crossbow bolt," one of the men helpfully pointed out. " Are you okay?"

" By the Gods, that hurt," Brandur groaned, carefully rubbing his chest.

He could feel the telltale warm and slightly sticky fluid covering his tunic and he knew he had to be injured.

In spite of that he reached out his arm and let one of his men help him to his feet. He took a few deep breaths to try and shake the dizziness he was feeling and he tried to comprehend what had happened.

" Are they dead?" he calmly asked.

" Very," one of his men answered.

" Okay, good. Let's get rid of their bodies then. By the time they discover they are missing, it's going to be too late."

" We will toss them in the ditch, after stripping off their weapons of course,'" a soldier grinned. " Just take it easy for now, Brandur. Try and catch your breath."

Brandur nodded and peeled away the fabric of his tunic, to get a good look at his chest. What he saw made him chuckle.

" Gods, you are a genius, general," he mumbled, taking in the damage the crossbow had done to his breastplate. The army's smith and his assistants had painstakingly adorned the soft leather with tiny, iron rings. They were neatly hammered into the leather until they formed an invisible shield, that could almost entirely stop crossbow bolts. Almost. The very tip of the bolt had penetrated a small part of his breastplate and had pierced his skin and painfully bruised his breastbone. But Brandur knew he would have been dead, if he had not been wearing the device their general had personally designed.

" I will have to tell Mor she saved my life," he grinned. " Again."

What Mor had expected did happen indeed. The young scout Arvid had been the first one of many soldiers who had found their way to the caves.

After feeding him a decent meal, Mor had send Arvid back into the forest to keep an eye out for trouble. Baldric had shot the General his best pleading look and with a smile she had send him along with Arvid.

Of course Jaali had to tease both of them about not trying to sneak up on anyone and grinning the two boys had left.

" If you run into any Roman patrol, don't follow them," Mor had stressed. " Get out of their way, get back here so I can send out a patrol of our own."

" How, Mor?" Baldric had curiously asked. " There's no one here yet, just Arvid."

" By the time you two are back, this place will be filling up nicely," Mor had smiled. " Wait and see."

Isa had silently watched her lover interact with the young boys. A small smile spread across her face when she realized how relaxed Mor seemed to be. Almost as if there was no army on it's way to meet her, their general, who had been preparing a battle to fight the Roman occupier.

" What's that smile for?" Mor's voice suddenly caressed Isa's ear.

" You," the blond woman promptly answered, while grasping a strong hand between her own smaller ones and gently rubbing the skin.

" Really?" Mor smiled. " Were they happy thoughts?"

" They are always happy when I think about you," Isa replied, bringing Mor's hand to her face and softly kissing the back of it.

The loving gesture rendered the tall woman speechless and she swallowed hard, moistening her suddenly dry lips. Isa always managed to throw her off balance, with only a few words, or a gesture.

Mor brought her free hand to the back of Isa's neck and pulled her lover in for what was supposed to have been a quick kiss. But Isa immediately let go of Mor's hand and slid her arms around the tall woman's neck, while her warm, soft lips melted against Mor's.

The tall warrior could feel her heart rate pick up and with a soft moan, she wrapped her arms around Isa and pulled her closer, deepening the kiss with a passion that took her lover by surprise.

When breathing became more important than the delicious contact their lips and tongues were experiencing, Isa tilted back her head and took a deep breath. Her face was warm and red and her sparkling green eyes were dark with desire.

" If...if we don't...stop now...I...," she breathed with difficulty, because her tall lover was kissing the skin behind her ear and Isa could feel her lips and tongue travel down her neck, to the hollow of her throat, where her pulse point was shamelessly giving away her excitement.

" Mor."

It was a combination of a moan and a sigh and Isa could feel her lover chuckle.

" What is it, my queen?" Mor asked, without interrupting her activities.

" I...I don't think I can...stand up....much longer. You really have to ....stop," she whimpered, not very convincingly.

A strong, warm hand had slid underneath her tunic and caressed the soft skin of her back and blunt fingernails lovingly scratched her spine, slowly sliding down and up again.

" Maybe you will need to lay down then," a heated voice whispered in her ear, which was almost Isa's undoing.

Her knees buckled and it were Mor's trained reflexes that made sure the smaller woman was safely caught in her arms and gently lowered to a pile of blankets.

Isa looked up in a pair of mesmerizing blue eyes, that shone with so much love and devotion, it almost brought tears into her eyes. Stretching out her hand she stroked Mor's cheek and smiled at the look of pleasure that crossed her lover's face.

" I love it when you touch me," Mor whispered, her eyes never leaving Isa's. " It feels so good and it excites me, also makes me feel so warm inside. So safe," she confessed almost shyly.

" That's because I love you," Isa whispered back, letting her fingers slide through the dark, silky tresses that were cascading down the side of Mor's face. " You make me feel so special. When you look at me I...I just feel all warm and fuzzy inside and also safe. When those Romans had captured me and I thought I would never see you again, I...."

" Shhh."

Mor softly kissed Isa's lips and looked her in the eye.

" It didn't happen. We are still together. And we will be....always."

Isa nodded, almost drowning in those clear blue eyes, that slowly came closer.

" Always," she breathed, just before Mor's lips met hers and her speaking became impaired.

A tall, warm, body covered her smaller frame and when Isa felt the slow, grinding motion of their bodies and her lover's hungry lips, all thought disappeared from her mind. There was no past, no future. There were only Mor and herself. Loving each other with an intensity that surpassed all borders and boundaries. While their bodies moved in unison, the only whispered words were of love. With only the ancient cave walls as witnesses, and a soft crackling fire in the background, their souls became one.

" Is this the cave the old lady told us about? Are you sure?" Jody whispered, following Sam into a small opening. " I know she said we needed to climb that path first, but...."

" This is the only entrance, honey," Sam patiently answered. " Are you having second thoughts? Do you want to go back? Cause if you do, I...."

" No, " Jody answered, stepping a bit closer and grabbing Sam's arm. " But it's so dark in here. What if we get lost? I still remember the story that guide told us and it's not a very appealing thought to spend the rest of my life, which would be very short, wandering around in circles. Looking for a way out, while my fingers will be nothing but bloody stumps, because I will have to feel my way around and...."

" Honey!" Sam's voice sounded a little impatient this time. " Please! Do you mind? I have a torch. It's only five steps straight ahead. If that room is not there, we will turn around and go back. Deal?"

Jody silently nodded, trying to suppress a nervous giggle. She had told Sam about the vision of the hooded, dark rider on the black horse and they were both a little tense. Those visions kept puzzling Jody, but they didn't scare her. Not really. She had been thinking a lot about them and every time she did, a feeling of familiarity invaded her senses. It was just a feeling, hard to explain in words. But it was there. And it was intriguing. She wanted to know more.

Sam had reached out and grabbed Jody's hand. Slowly they walked down the little hallway down to where the old lady had told them was the old war room, as she had called it. That expression had puzzled Sam and she had asked the woman if she was certain about that, since none of the books she had read about the castle, had mentioned anything about a war room.

" It is not inside the castle," the lady had patiently explained. ' The caste has been build years and years after. No, you will have to go down to the center, the core. The room where the battle was mapped out and planned. The war room. It's in the caves, underneath the ruins."

To their relief the old lady had been right. After a few paces, they stepped into a room that was huge. Sam's torch illuminated just small pieces at the time, but in spite of the darkness, they could feel by the air that surrounded them, how big the room actually was.

Without letting go of Jody's hand, Sam pulled her lover along with her towards the other side of the room, where she could see the outline of an alcove. It seemed like human hands had carved out a doorway, between the room they were in and the one next to it. Sam let the ray of light fall through the opening and with interest they peeked inside, to see a small room. In one of the corners the remnants of a wooden barrel stood and when they came closer, Sam and Jody could faintly smell something familiar.

" What the...Can you smell that, Sam? " Jody asked, pulling her lover closer. " That smells like...."

" Resin, yes," Sam answered, hovering over the barrel and sniffing the air. " Yup, definitely resin. I wonder why anyone would keep that stuff in here. Unless they were illegally making that Greek wine, retsina," Sam joked.

Jody grinned and pulled her lover closer, to give her a quick kiss.

" Smarty pants," she teased.

" Well, now," Sam mockingly grumbled, trying to tickle Jody's ribs.

Immediately the smaller woman stepped back, to stay out of reach, which was not a smart move, because she was suddenly cornered. She pressed her back against the wall and used her free hand to fend off her lover.

" Stop it, Sam," she said, laughing. " What if you drop that torch? You will have to be careful."

" I guess you are right," Sam mumbled. " I wouldn't want to be trapped in here. No light. No food. No water. But, on the other hand..." the tall woman paused and brought her face closer to Jody's. " You would be in here with me and love...are the sweetest," Sam lightly kissed Jody's lips. " Loveliest," a kiss on her nose. " Most precious thing in my life, so...I wouldn't complain..."

" Sweet talker, you," Jody smiled, leaning into Sam's body to steal another kiss. " I love you, my cute Dutchie."

" And I love you, my spunky Aussie."

Jody grinned and wanted to reply, when suddenly her attention was drawn to something she saw from the corner of her eye. Her breathing hitched and when Sam wanted to ask her what was going on, Jody pressed a finger against her lips, gesturing her lover to be quiet.

" Sam," she whispered. " I have told you about my visions, right? At least, I call them that. I still wonder if I am not just seeing things. But...can you please slowly turn around and tell me what you see."

Sam cast her lover a look full of confusion and wanted to tell Jody she was holding the torch, shining it the other way, so how could Jody see anything behind Sam? But the look on Jody's face made her change her mind. Her lover's expression was one of silent wonder and after a last glance at Jody's face, she slowly turned around.

Sam's body stiffened and Jody managed to just catch the torch before it hit the ground, when it slipped from Sam's hand.

Across the small room, illuminated by an unseen source of soft, almost diffuse light, two bodies rested on what seemed to be a pile of blankets. A small woman with long, honey colored hair, was spooned up against a tall, dark haired woman, who had her muscular arms possessively draped around her companion. The two women seemed to be fast asleep.

" What the....?" Sam gasped. " Gods!! I'll be damned..."

" I guess you see what I am seeing?" Jody whispered.

She squeezed Sam's hand and could feel how warm and sweaty the palm of her hand had become.

" Honey, I..." Sam started, but stopped when suddenly the tall, dark woman stirred, stretching the muscles in her arms, before pulling the smaller woman even closer.

She turned to Jody to be able to see her lover's face, when Jody's sudden,sharp intake of breath alarmed her. Quickly turning back she felt a cold shiver run down her back. Frozen in place she could only stare as a pair of clear blue eyes looked straight at her.

" Sam, " Jody whispered. " Those eyes..... Do you... recognize....?"

Sam swallowed hard and wrapped her arm around Jody's shoulders, pulling her close.

" Yes, I do," Sam answered with a husky voice. " Every time....when I look into a mirror....."

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To be continued in part 15

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