As usual the characters from the hit show Xena are not mine, but the rest are. This story has no time line, its just another week in these two extrodinary characters literary life. There is past reference to the story line involving Queen Cyane and her tribe. From this story I have added my own little twist.
Sexual Content: Yep you guessed it--there is sex! Steamy is how I'd rate it. All relationships here in Amazonland are female/female.
Violence: There is some fighting amongst the girls, some blood and alot of anger.
I hope you enjoy this story--comments my be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
The small usually quiet village of Amazonia, was busting at the seams with noise and rowdy Amazons. The Wandering Queen couldn't believe her eyes when she and the Warrior had arrived two days ago. Never had she seen so many of her sister's gathered in one place. But then again, she had never witnessed one of the tribal gatherings. This years gathering was for the Dementer Corn Festival. All four regions were represented for this yearly celebration. Every other season the tribes would travel to a different region. The week long celebration allowed them time for tribal business, training and plenty of partying.
In the past two days the nervous Queen watched and greeted the visitors that arrived. The Eastern villages had been the first to arrive, followed by the Northern villages the next day. Today they were waiting for the Western villages to arrive. With their arrival would bring one of the most respected of the Amazon Queens, Marlina, was infact the Queen of all the Amazons in Greece. A title bestowed on her by her peers, it was she alone that represented the Greek Amazons whenever there was a meeting of the entire Nation. Her younger years saw many a trip to foreign lands to talk with other Amazons, but in in the past several years she had seen a drastic decline of most of them. War and sickness in their countries had taken a toll on their numbers. Many of the remaining villages combined together for survial or moved to Greece.
Butterflies attacked Gabrielle's stomach the moment the runner reported that they had been seen entering the Southern Territory and that was over several candlemarks ago. News had spread over the territories that Marlina would be passing down her Queen's mask at the festival.
Word had it that there was five perspective canidates for succession. Which meant a tournament would be held to see which one of them got the mask. Gabrielle and her Regent had spent the past two days preparing the tournament field. Five challenges had to be undertook and won, in the event of a tie, the remaining contestants would fight it out with the weapon of their choice till one of the conceded.
Gabrielle paced back and forth wondering for the fifth time today what was taking Xena so long. She and a small hand full of warriors took off late afternoon the day before to go hunting. With so many visiting they didn't want to run out of fresh meat. The sounding of the horn pulled her out of her wonderings. Rows of brightly colored flags waved in the air carried by women on foot, colorfully adorned women on horseback followed those on foot. The rows split in two directions, leaving a clear path for their Queen to ride up the middle.
Gabrielle was in awe of the regal looking woman on the white horse. Not at all what she had invisioned. Marlina was far from "old", why she couldn't much older than Gabrielle's own mother. By the talk of the village women, Gabrielle had invisioned an old fragile gray haired woman. Marlina was nothing of the sort. A neat braid of brown hair hung down over her shoulder, a few wrinkles graced her beautiful face, her posture was perfect and her smile was bright. The young Queen's butterflies disappeared, as the older woman dismounted and approached her and the Regent.
Following Ephiny's lead, Gabrielle bowed to the visiting Queen.
"Queen Gabrielle, it is a pleasure to finally meet you." returning the bow and extending her hand.
"Welcome Queen Marlina. I'm honored to finally meet you." Gabrielle politly returned, grasping the woman's forearm. Stifling the urge to hug the older woman, something Ephiny strongly urged her not to do on the first meeting.
"Ephiny your looking well, seems like you two are doing a great job running the Southern region. I also see that your rebuilding went well." Marlina noted.
"Yes we have come a long way since the last time you visited. Valaska did alot of damage, but we survived." the Regent replied, grasping the Queen's forearm. "It's really good to see you. Now come and we'll get you all settled in." leading the visiting Queen to the prepared hut.
"That sounds wonderful, I forgot how long it takes to get here and with a group this size it only slowed down the journey." Marlina chuckled.
"It does look like you brought the whole Northern Region with you." Ephiny commented, her eyes gazed over the mass of women standing around.
"Well not all of them came," looking out over the gathered women. "With the passing of mask at the festival anyone who could travel came along. Not that I can blame them, it will be interesting to see which of the five will claim the mask." Marlina replied as she walked between the two. "speaking of which, is everything ready for the tournament?"
"Yes My Queen, we have seen to every detail personally." Gabrielle quickly answered.
"The alter too?" Marlina looked to Gabrielle.
"That too has been set up in the field." Gabrielle smiled as she commented.
"Well then, the tournament will start tomorrow." Marlina returned the smile, instantly taking a liking to this young one. Her attention was drawn from Gabrielle as the crowds parted again.
Mummurs from the crowd could be heard, as the five brilliantly decorated warriors passed by. One of them would be their next Queen, but which one? All five were equally qualified, each tutored in the Laws and Customs, each of them held a specific rank in the village, and they were all very well liked, some more than others, but that was to be expected. Any one of them would make a good leader. The five dismounted and made their way towards the three royals that waited.
Marlina waited for the five to gather. "Queen Gabrielle, Regent Ephiny I would like to introduce the five who will compete for the mask." moving to the first warrior. For Gabrielle this was a first time introduction, as for Ephiny she remembered the five faces.
Colene was the first to be introduced, her tall stature set her apart from the others. Her wheat-colored haired was simply braided, not a real beauty, plain would describe her features. She stood tall and proud. Colene held the rank of Captain of the Guards.
Sy was the next to be introduced, a bit of an improvement over the tall Captain. Her muscled compact frame was offset by freckles and red hair. She held the rank of Weapon's Master.
Marda was next, sleek and sexy, with shoulder length dark brown hair and equally dark eyes. Not being a warrior, her attire was made of soft deer skin. Marda headed up the Amazon Council, though she was profiecient in weapondry, she used her verbal skills to benefit her people. Plus she was Marlina's neice, which made her a favorite canidate.
Eva came next, she too was not an actual warrior, but headed the Justice Council. No battle plan was put into action without her approval. She fought only when it was neccessary. Golden brown hair neatly framed her round face. Soft tanned leathers snuggly fit her sculptured frame, which highlighted her beauty.
Ephiny was a bit surprised by the last contender. Marlina generously smiled when she introduced the honey haired blonde, with pale blue eyes. Kayla bowed deeply and silently greeted the two royals. Ephiny approvingly smiled at the young woman. Noting that the last time she had seen Kayla, she was gangily awakward girl. The years were more than generous with this one. Natural beauty was the only way to describe the young woman. Flawless youthful skin, strong, lean, and shapely. Her dyed blue leathers, what there was of them, hugged every curve of her body. The Royal crimson belt around her waist marked her position in the village.
Being the daughter of the Queen, made her a Princess. Kayla was the Regent, a title she had only filled a few seasons. She was highly schooled in all aspects, groomed to be Queen from her youth. Two things held her apart though. The first strike against her was she was only an adopted child of the Queen and the second strike against her was the fact she was mute. Though she was not without words. Kayla found out early when spoken words wouldn't come, she could mentally convey what she wanted. Some thought this unusual talent was a gift from the Gods, while there were those that believed it was unnatural. Her natural accession to the throne met with the same scrutiny. For some she was the only choice, but when opposition arised against her ability to govern the Western Region properly, Marlina was forced to open up the throne to any contender, with these five being the remaining ones who made it through the challenges and voting that was done before hand.
"I'm very pleased to meet you Princess Kayla." Gabrielle approached the young royal.
Kayla nodded and grasped Gabrielle's forearm. Kayla smiled, as Ephiny leaned in and whispered to Gabrielle. Kayla watched as the hosting Queen's beautiful smile faded at the news. Kayla looked to her Mother.
"Gabrielle, Kayla doesn't wish to see such a beautiful face so sadden." Marlina quietly informed the frowning woman.
"Oh I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..." Gabrielle started.
Marlina touched Gabrielle's elbow. "Don't apologize Gabrielle, Kayla is more than use to that reaction from people. Now come, we really should get this band settled in." forcing the two move again. Gabrielle tore her green eyes from Kayla's gaze.
After settling the large group down she and Ephiny settled themselves onto a bench, the days activites had worn them both out.
"Eph, what's the story behind Kayla?" Gabrielle asked, as she stretched out.
"An interesting case that one is. She came to live with Marlina about fourteen winters ago, supposedly Artemis herself delivered the child to the village and explained that she was the last of her village. Seems an army came through and wiped out all her people, Kayla was the only one to survive. She's from across the water Gabrielle." Ephiny paused, noticing again the sad look on her sensitive queen's face.
Gabrielle's heart sunk when she heard this news. Something from her memory pulled at her, but she couldn't put her finger on it.
"They say, she is a Mystic." Ephiny continued.
"A Mystic?" Gabrille questioned, again something pulled at her.
"Yeah, they were a special breed. Legend has it that they were all taught from birth how to harness their inner powers, a gift some say was given to them by Ghia herself. I remember my mother telling me about them when I was little. It's really ashame a child so young had to witness her whole tribe being wiped out. No wonder she doesn't speak." Ephiny saddly finished up.
Gabrielle sat quiet, pondering the news. "Hey I'll see ya later. I need to go and clean up a bit before tonight." abruptly announcing her plans.
"Ok and don't be late. There will be alot of ansy amazon's waiting to party." Ephiny words trailed after her. *Humm, I wonder what up with her?* Ephiny watched as Gabrielle disappeared. Shrugging it off, she went in search of something to drink.
Gabrielle found herself wandering around the grounds, dodging bedrolls and makeshift tents. Her mission was to find Kayla, for some reason she had to learn more about this young woman. Her green eyes found the honey-haired woman sitting under a tree, she paused when she saw Kayla wasn't alone.
"Queen Gabrielle, please come and join us." Gabrielle recalled this one was Eva. Both women jumped to their feet.
"Thanks, I was looking to talk to Kayla." Gabrielle announced, motioning for them to sit again. Still not accustomed to all the royal fuss.
"Well I'll let you two talk, I need to get some of this road dust off me." Eva announced. she bowed slightly to Gabrielle and winked to Kayla, who knodded back.
"But how do I?" Gabrielle didn't know how to pose the question.
Eva knew what the question was. "My Queen, Kayla has her own way to communicating, trust me you don't need me here." Eva patted the worried woman's hand and left.
Gabrielle sighed, not quite understanding. Kayla smiled as she approached, taking Gabrielle by the hand, she pulled motioning for her to sit. Leaning closer Kayla put her hands on either side of Gabrielle's temples, she smiled again and knodded. Gabrielle wasn't quite for sure what she was doing, but some how sensed the young woman wouldn't hurt her, she knodded back. The warming sensation ran through her whole body, soft words could be heard.
"I am breathing. Hey! I can hear you." Gabrielle's green eyes went wide with excitment.
"Ephiny said your people had special powers." Gabrielle commented.
"Only what I have been told. I'm truely sorry for your lose. It must of been hard to have witnessed such a thing." Gabrielle patted Kayla hand.
Gabrielle sat glued to Kayla's every word. As strange as it was she could actually invision what Kayla told her. But it wasn't the first time she had this vision though. She had witnessed this before, but through Xena's eyes. *Oh Xena, this is another one of your victims.*
"Please Kayla, just call me Gabrielle. As for being sad, yes I am, but I'm also glad.> Gabrielle announced mustering up a smile.
Gabrielle blushed, "No I really am. You've been through alot, but yet you didn't let it eat up, you choose to put it behind you and move on. Not many could do that." again smiling to the blonde. Visions of Callisto ran ramped through her thoughts.
"Very well Kayla. You made the right choice. There's too much good to be done in this world." Gabrielle noted, as she looked at the setting sun. "Oh I better get going. Seems we have a welcoming celebration to get started soon." raising and dusting off her leather skirt.
Blushing again. "I try. I think you too will be an asset to your people. You've seen what hatred can do and you didn't make the same mistake. That alone makes you more than qualified to be a good ruler." her infectious smile warmed Kayla's heart. "See you at the celebration."
"Careful there Little Wolf." Eva's whispered words tantalized the blonde's ear.
<Why? Kayla leaned into the strong arms, still watching the swaying skirt.
"Because that one just so happens to belong to the Warrior Princess." Eva's arms squeezed Kayla's waist.
"None other, so I suggest you stick to easier pickins and leave that one alone." Eva teased.
"Nothing wrong in going home in a pine box either." Eva snorted, trying hard not to laugh.
<What's a sweet, innocent, young thing like that doing with someone like Xena? Kayla wondered.
"You know us older types always go for the sweet, young, innocent types." Eva huskily replied.
Eva stalked the young blonde. "Well you have the young part covered and your definitily sweet," licking her lips "But innocent your not."
Kayla freigned a shock look. <What? her back bumping into a tree.
"Don't give me that look, Kayla. How old were you when you seduced me?" raising an questioning eyebrow at the pinned blonde.
Eva's hazel eyes pinned those magnifigant translucent blue eyes, crossing her arms over her chest she stared at the blonde expectantly.
Kayla's reserve melted under
the heated stare.
"Ahum, so much for innocent." placing one hand on the tree for support, while the other teasingly stroked the opened middrift.
<Can't blame a girl for taking the initiative. If I would have waited for you to make the first move, I'd been to old to care. her skin tingled from the light stroking.
Eva leaned in closer "Oh believe me Little Wolf, I'd of never let that happen. In fact I was watching your development very closely." a lercherous smile crossed her face, as her eyes fixed on the ample cleveage showing. "I wasn't about to let anyone taste, I mean have you before I did."
Kayla shivered as the warm caressing words filtered through her ears. The retort she had ready for the older woman floated right out of head. <Really? was all she could come up with. Every inch of her body begged to be touched repeatedly.
Eva knowingly smiled as she sensed the younger woman's need. Knowing her own thoughts and need matched the willing woman trapped between herself and the tree. "Really my dear, I'm quite possessive when it comes to you. I'm not fond of sharing." nipping the tender flesh on the shoulder. "I imagine Xena isn't either. She doesn't strike me as someone who shares." the nipping continued up the neck.
<Oh, you know I was only
looking. Your more than enough for me. adjusting because the bark on the tree
was biting into her back, Eva's knee convientiently slipped between her legs.
"Well I'm glad, I'm the one woman." the nipping stopped and turned into velvet kisses.
The sound of someone clearing their throat broke their intimate contact. "There you two are. Been looking for you both. We have a celebration to attend ladies." Queen Marlina stood tall and looked intimidating in her regal attire.
Marlina chuckled to herself. "What's up with that one?"
"Nothing that a good roll in sack wouldn't cure." They both laughed.
"Sorry about interrupting, but it would be rude to be late for a party in our honor." Marlina explained, taking the brunette by the elbow. "Eva do me one favor."
"Anything My Queen." changing her tone, when she noticed the worried look on the Elder's face.
"Keep a close eye on Kayla while we're here." the worried mother instructed.
"Still worried about Gypsa prediction? You know you should really take what she says at face value." Eva replied. A vision of the old village crone flashed through her mind.
"I've known Gypsa for sometime now and never have I known her to say something that wasn't true. Her warning of the two dark-headed women has me worried. One of them will try and kill Kayla and the other will change her forever. I can't let any of the prediction happen Eva and you have to help me." fear constricted her voice.
Eva wrapped her arms around Marlina, "Well if you ask me the only one that would benefit from Kayla dying is Marda and by the Gods I'd kill her first before I let her hurt Kayla." hazel eyes bore their truth. "As for the other, I haven't clue, but I promise I will watch Kayla closely, we all will."
"I know you will and I know the only reason you, Colene and Sy are in the running is to keep Marda from getting the mask. But as the Queen I have to be fair and Marda has never shown any resentment towards Kayla or threatened her for that matter, so I have to remain impartial. Don't let hatred cloud your judgement Eva, it could be someone you least expect. Besides I wouldn't think Marda would do it herself, not with wanting to be Queen, it wouldn't look good." Marlina finished with a sigh.
"So you suspect her too." Eva gave the Queen a coy look.
"I wouldn't put it past her or my sister for that matter. Kayla's unexpected arrival did take away Marda's right to the mask. The majority I know would rather see Kayla with the mask, but their our those who side with Marda too. It's my job to see that the best one takes my place. I will have to give the mask to who ever wins the tournament. But being one of the contestants mothers' also makes me bias and I want nothing to happen Kayla in her quest."
"Nothing will, I promise. I'd give my own life before I let anything happen to Kayla, and that goes for the other three also. All of us have pledged our lives to our Regent. I'm just as bias My Queen, Kayla not only has my life, but my heart as well." Eva proudly stated.
"I have the feeling the sentiment is returned. I personally couldn't think of anyone else I'd rather see Kayla give her heart too." Marlina lovingly replied.
"Thank you, she does mean the world to me and I will protect her. But ya got to give her some credit though, she may be young, but she's not naive. Kayla has a wonderful gift of seeing beyond the surface and finding the good or the bad. Her insight has saved us many a battle. And she was strong enough to stand up to Marda in each of those cases and prove her way, being one of communication and comprimise was far better that all out war, which Marda proposed. I have no doubt that she wouldn't be just as strong to face off Marda in the tournament and win." Eva's conviction left no doubt in just who her bet was on.
"Your right Eva, I'm probably just worring for nothing, but I'm her mother and it's my job to worry." Marlina wearily smiled.
"I know Marlina, I feel the same way, but we just have to have faith that Kayla will be safe and still come out the victor." smiling back. "I think you said we had a party to attend, didn't you?" changing the subject to a happier topic.
"I did and we should be going." straightening her shoulders and wiping her eyes. "I suggest you go and collect Kayla and the other's and maybe we'll get there on time." Marlina shook her head and laughed.
"As you wish My Queen." Eva replied, bowing and retreating.
Gabrielle entered her hut, immediatly noticing her warrior had returned, due to the scattered clothes that left a trail right to the tub. Placing the picked up clothes on the stool next to the tub. "Nice of ya to join us." purring the words into the relaxing warrior's ear. Small hands kneaded the tight muscles beneath them.
"It's not easy rounding up enough meat to feed all these hungry Amazons, Queenie." relaxing under the skilled fingers.
"Your efforts my dear warrior will be abundantly rewarded." small nipping kisses were precisely placed up and down the long neck. "Speaking of Amazons, I have a party to get started. You think you can drag this luscious body of yours out of the tub and join me?"
"Do I have to? You know how fond I am of multitudes of Amazons." sarcastically repling. Lifting her wet frame from the tub. "Your drooling Gabrielle." smirking at the gaping bard.
"Can't help myself. Your beautiful when your wet." reflexively wiping her lips. "I'm one lucky woman." commenting on her good fortune. Picking up the towel to dry off the slick skin.
"Thanks, but it's me who is lucky. Your not only beautiful on the outside, but on the inside as well." pulling the smaller woman to her, a sweet kiss was placed on top of the strawberry blonde hair.
"Give yourself a bit more credit Warrior. Your just as good on the inside, and it show's, whether or not you like to admit it." Gabrielle hugged the taller woman tight.
"Getting to transparent I guess." Xena laughed. "Well then I guess I better get dress for this party of yours. What should I wear?" leaving the decision to the Bard.
"Oh something sexy and low cut I think." wickedly smiling.
"Thanks, but I don't think I want to be on the menu tonight." raising her brows.
"Ok then something dowdy and matronly should do, can't have those wild women drooling over my warrior." Gabrielle cooly remarked.
"Why don't I just go for something in between." Xena replied, heading for the chest, choosing a light blue tunic and soft leather pants.
"Works for me." Gabrielle approvingly noted, as she gathered up the warriors wet tresses. "Your a vision in what ever you wear."
"Speaking of vision, I think your showing way to much flesh for this bunch. I'll have to wear my sword, in order to protect your virtue My Queen." Xena boasted, while Gabrielle brushed her hair out.
"Oh you don't need a sword, just your presence keeps the wolves at bay, my dear." Gabrielle retorted, as she quickly braided the long black hair.
"Good, because I'd hate to crack any heads tonight. Did all the regions get in?" making small talk to stay alert, having her hair braided was far to relaxing.
"Yep, all present and accounted for. There is someone I have to talk to you about..." a knock on the door interrupted them.
"Gabrielle, it's time." Ephiny yelled out, before she peaked her head inside. "Hey Xena good to see you made it back." she got a small annoyed knod from the warrior. "Come on now we don't want to be late." giving her best pout.
"Impatient as always Eph. Come My Queen, your public awaits." Xena broke into a lop-sided grin.
As soon as Gabrielle got seated, the introductions of the regions Queens and their courts got under way. With Ephiny seated on her right the two greeted their vistors. While Xena, Eponin and Solari sat off the side, doing play by play on the womens looks. From cute to what rock did she crawl out from.
A wave of uooh's and agh's set out amoung the crowd, as the visiting blonde Princess made her way to to where the Queens' had been seated.
Solari strained to see over the crowd, "Now that one know's she's got it and isn't afraid to flaunt it." refraining from whistling.
"Blessed by the God's themselves. Wouldn't mind keeping her company." Eponin growled.
Xena said nothing, but openingly stared into the pale blue eyes. A memory of another set of pale blue eyes haunted her thoughts. The hair, the body, the walk, the eyes...Cyane.
"No I think her name is Kayla. She's Queen Marlina's daughter." Eponin whispered.
"Huh?" Xena didn't realize she spoke the name out loud.
"Better not let Gabrielle catch you gauwking." Solari chuckled.
"I not gauwking, just looking." Xena retorted.
"Right Warrior Princess, and I'm still a virgin." Eponin teased. The remark made Solari choke on her wine, which went flying out of her nose.
Gabrielle turned to give the trio a silent warning. They all did their best imitation of being innocent. Xena along with everyone else watched as the lovely woman dressed in barely nothing, but a couple of convientily place pieces of leather and a crimson sash greeted the seated royality.
Xena pondered the the simularities between this Princess and Cyane. *I wonder, but Ep did say she was Marlina's daughter. But what a coinciedence.* she removed herself from the stand to get another refill. If she would of stayed, she would have heard Marlina speak on behalf of her mute child. A distant memory of Cyane the Queen of the Amazons, came back to haunt the strong warrior. Floods of emotions ran through Xena. How she, along with Alti destroyed one of the strongest nations and all it's people, how she almost lost Gabrielle and then the last words Cyane spoke to her before she crossed over to the other side:
The two adversaries stood face to face, Xena had met Cyane in a dreamscape. Cyane and the other Amazons gave their thanks to Xena for freeing them from Alti's spell, when Cyane reached out to Xena. "My friend, it's good to be able to call you that Xena. I know you changed, I can see it in your heart. I have a favor to ask of you." Cyane smiled.
"Anything you ask of me, I will do it." Xena replied.
"I have a sister, I need you to find her. She is the last of our people Xena and she is lost. Alti put a spell on her also, taking away her voice so she couldn't tell no one what she saw." Cyane's voice was filled with saddness.
"What does your sister look like and what is her name?" Xena questioned knowing the woman's time was growing short.
"Hair of honey and palest of blue eyes. Her name is Savana. Please find her for me Xena, you hold the power to release her from the spell." Cyane's figure began to fade, "Please find her Xena." the figure begged then disappeared.
"I will, I promise." Xena remarked.
"You promise what?" Gabrielle asked, coming to refill her mug.
"Oh I promise not to get to drunk tonight." Xena tried to cover up her slip.
"Good Xena, you do that." Gabrielle patted the broad shoulders. "So what did you think of Princess Kayla?" watching the warrior's expressions.
"She's quite breathtaking. And obviously she knows it too." Xena tried to sound casual.
"Yes she is and I noticed you staring." Gabrielle gibed the warrior.
"Hades Gabrielle, we all were. Don't think for one minute I didn't notice your eyeballs about pop out." Xena teased the now blushing Bard.
Gabrielle laughed, "Ok I'm guilty, but one can't help but to stare into those pale blue eyes."
"It wasn't her eyes you were staring at Luv." Xena taunted and again Gabrielle blushed.
Gabrielle playfully slapped at Xena's arm, "Your positivly bad. But if you must know it was the cute little freckle near her bellybutton that I was staring at." smiling broadly.
"Must of missed that, never got past the exposed clevage myself." Xena winked. Both of them laughed. "Come on Queenie, we've got a party to attend." wrapping her strong arm around the thin waist.
Before they reached the stand Gabrielle decided she would bring up the past. "Xena do you think she could be the one?"
"The "one" what?" cocking her brow.
"The "one" you've been looking for all this time. You know since I came back." green eyes expectantly looked up into puzzled blue eyes.
Xena stopped in her tracks, "You were there weren't you? It wasn't just a dream I had or one of Alti's visions." waiting patiently for an answer. Knowing full well she should of asked Gabrielle this over a year ago, but being the silent type she was, the thought never occured to her just to come out and ask the bard, her friend and now lover. Xena mentally kicked herself.
Gabrielle found something interesting to stare out on the ground, afraid to meet the warrior's eyes. Xena lifted the lowered chin. "Yes I was." barely whispered. "I thought you could use some help. I was afraid that witch's influence might..."
"I would never follow her again Gabrielle, one lifetime of mistakes was enough." gently caressing the soft cheek. "I'm sorry you had to live with this all this time, I should have spoken to you about it, but I didn't want you to ever see that side of me or have my past touch your goodness in any way."
"Warrior woman I hate to tell you this, but your past has touched me several times. Ceaser, Callisto..." starting to rattle off the names from Xena's past.
"Ok I get the idea." Xena interrupted, it was her turn to find something interesting in the dirt.
Gabrielle gently lifted the fallen chin, "You know Xena, I wouldn't trade any moment of the past four years, good or bad. Those past moments have brought us to here. Nope I wouldn't trade a wagon full of dinars for this, for us." using her hands to animate her point.
A single tear rolled down Xena's cheek. "When did you get so smart My Little Bard?"
"Oh I didn't get smart Xena, I just improved." Gabrielle smile brightly.
"That you have. Come here." Xena huskily commanded, as she pulled the smaller woman to herself and with the upmost passion, kissed the woman who held her whole being.
Gabrielle caught her breath, "Like I said, I wouldn't trade one minute for a kiss like that." breathing deeply to calm her rapidly beating heart.
"To answer your question. I don't think the Princess is the one I'm looking for, just a coinincedence she has..." Xena started, but was interrupted.
"Coincedence? Hades Xena, she's blonde, has pale blue eyes and is mute. Isn't that how Cyane described her to you? What else do you need?" Gabrielle ranted.
Xena looked puzzled, the last bit of information was registering. "Are you sure she can't speak?"
"I'm quite sure. I even went to talk with her. Kayla can only communicate with her mind Xena. She touched me here." placing her hands on Xena's temples, "And all of a sudden I could hear her."
Xena raised her brows at the chatty woman. "Did you ask her about her past?" quizzing the Bard, figuring once Gabrielle got someone to talk, she knew their whole life history. Her heart lurched, when she realized Gabrielle had to hear such a horrible story.
"Of course I did." rolling her sparkling green eyes. "To make a long story short, she told me about how her village and people were destroyed, about finding her sister and the Elder's impaled." Gabrielle stopped weaving the girl's tale, when she noticed the sad look on Xena's face. "I'm sorry, I know this is hard for you to hear, but she is the one, Xena."
"No I'm the one who is sorry. You shouldn't of had to hear such a thing and that child shouldn't of had to gone through the horror she did." her blues eyes became sullen.
"Stop right there Warrior, don't even start feeling guilty." Gabrielle chasticed, knowing Xena as well as she did. "What happened is in the past and there is nothing you can do to change that, but you can change the future. That "child" has grown into a fine young woman, who has learned not to let hate consume her. Your right, she shouldn't of had to seen what she did, but she did and she chose to move on past the hate and bitterness. You have to do the same Xena. Your not that person any more, but you are the person who hold the power to give back her voice. You've already righted the wrong you did to her people, you freed them from Alti's spell, now you can finally right Kayla's life too." her voice was pleading and her touch was soft with understanding.
The sullen blue eyes misted over, "What would I do without you. Your everything good in this world Gabrielle." hugging the small frame close to her. Her chin rested on top of the strawberry-blonde's head. The warrior's world fell into perfect place when this joyous life touched her. Xena calmed her breathing under the soft touch of Gabrielle's hands rubbing her back.
"You give me way to much credit Xena." the muffled voice spoke up. Gabrielle pulled herself away from the crushing cleavage. "I've done my share of hurtful things." whispering the confession.
"Ah, but you did them thinking it was the right thing to do, not out of hate or greed. And don't think for minute I hold you responsible for Solan's death. There were other forces at work there. And I more than understand your motives in Chin." she moved to sit on a bench, her own guilty conscious was weighing heavily on her heart. "Hades Gabrielle I did the same thing with Perdicius. I knew, not for sure, but I felt Callisto might try something like, but I didn't warn you. I was so caught up in my pain of loosing you to him that I let it blind me." dark raven hair fell forward, as her head hung in shame.
Gabrielle sat along side the warrior. It totally amazed the young Bard how Xena could always forgive her, but never herself. Memories of Solan's bright smile and Perdicius' gentle nature warmed her heart. "You know I think it time we both stop feeling sorry for ourselves and finally put this all behind us." pulling herself from the past. "We can't relive the past Xena, even if we could we're destined to make the same choices for the same reasons. All we have is today and tomorrow and it is up to us to make it up as we go along and try to do the right thing at the right time. Even with all we know now, someday we're gonna do something to hurt someone or each other, that's just part of life, my warrior." tenderly tucking back the fallen strands of hair. Amazed again, at how much she loved the dark souled, brooding and quiet woman.
"You've more than improved Gabrielle, you've grown up to be someone even I would like to be. And I thank the Gods' I know you and have the chance to love you, as well as being loved by you." tear ladden blue eyes held misty green ones in an eternal hold. Their hearts pulled them together in a ferious hug. Some how they each knew the past would never come between them again. Oh not that it wouldn't meet up with them again one day, but they'd face it together, as one.
"You two are something else. We have one of the best parties going in moons and here you two sit hugging and crying." Ephiny playfully chided the two. Not that she had intentionally been listening in on their conversation. Her heart felt a thousand times lighter just knowing the two had come to terms with everything that had happened in the past few years. It had broken her heart to see the two of them part in separate directions at the funeral pyre. Then to have Xena ride in and steal her Queen away, not to mention breaking her arm in the process. Ephiny wondered if the two would ever come to terms with the hate and mistrust. *Guess it goes to show you, love does conquer all* a big grin played on her face.
"You can wipe that stupid grin off your face Eph." Xena noted, which only made Eph grin harder. "Eavesdropping will get you into trouble one day Eph."
"Hey it's a Regent's job to know about anything concerning her Queen." Ephiny replied with a wink. Strolling closer to the seated pair, she knealt before them. "I can't tell you two how glad I am that everything has worked out between you. I thought for awhile there I had lost two very dear friends." warmly smiling, then slyly smiling. "You know My Queen, we're gonna have to do something about the rumors though." leaving the statement open.
"What rumors would those be Ephiny?" Gabrielle bit at the bait.
"Ah the ones about our fair Queen just living with an infamous warrior, instead of being properly and ceremonial joined according to Amazon tradition rumors." Ephiny chuckled, loving the look she was getting from the infamous warrior and the blush on the fair Queen's cheeks.
"Your right Eph." Xena annouced as she stood up, "We will have to do something about those ugly rumors, but later. Say maybe at the next full moon." looking to Gabrielle for consent.
"You mean that Xena?" Gabrielle bubbled over with excitement.
"Of course I do, can't have the Queen's rep being tarnished now could we?" giving her famous mischievious grin to the little Bard.
"Nope and I accept." hugging the warrior tightly. "Don't think for one minute I'm gonna let you back out of it either."
"I wouldn't dream of Gabrielle, nothing would make me more happier than to have you as my bonded." Xena lovingily replied. Which took Ephiny by surprise that the warrior was showing public display of affection. "What?" commenting on Ephiny's expression of shock. "Us bad ass warriors can be very loving if we want." chuckling heartily.
"I didn't say a thing." Ephiny replied, before she engulfed the pair in a big bear hug. "The future is looking a lot brighter." hugging them even tighter. "But hey, why wait till the next full moon. Why not do it at the end of festival?"
"Well for one thing. I think it would be nice to have our families present, don't you Xena?"
"That would be wise or we'd never hear the end of it from either of our Mother's." they all laughed.
"Great then I'll send runners out immediatly to fetch them." Ephiny replied, with the wheels spinning, she didn't even wait to see if the pair agreed, before her feet carried her away.
"Eph wait.." Gabrielle started.
"Let her go Gabrielle. Once she gets something set in her brain there's no stopping her." Xena chuckled.
"Guess now is just as good as later, huh." Gabrielle snuggled up to the warrior.
"Now is fine with me, it's only a ceremony my Bard, because as far as I'm concerned we're all ready joined, now and forever." Xena tenderly replied, kissing her love lightly on the lips.
"Oh you do have a way with words, my Warrior." pulling them back into a kiss, but with more passion and need.
Xena breathed in heavily, "Before we get carried away, I think we have some unfinished business to attend to." regaining her senses, which always were astray when Gabrielle's green eyes burned with passion and want.
"Sweet Artemis, I almost forgot about Kayla." Gabrielle blushed at her forgetfullness.
"You mean Savana, the next Queen of the Amazon's." Xena smiled.
"Well that remains to be seen, she has to win the tournament first." Gabrielle thoughtfully noted.
"What against that bunch. The only competetion she has from what I see is the brunette, what's her name." Xena confidently announced.
"Marda is her name and she is Kayla's, I mean Savana's cousin." Gabrielle informed.
"No for now, just remain calling her Kayla. I wouldn't want to bring back any hurtful memories just yet, it might keep her from winning the tournament." Xena instructed. "We'll have to pick the right time to tell her."
"We?" Gabrielle looked expectantly to the warrior.
"Yes we. Your much better with sensitive matters that me." hugging the bard close.
"Oh right." green eyes rolled.
d One lone figure moved about the pre-dawn shadows. The freedom this hour brought served to energize the body, as it went through practiced movements. The handler and the sword moved as one through the warm up, then the sword moved as if it acted on it's own accord as the warm up continued. Treasured memories flooded the handler, as she remebered sitting in the shadows watching her sister go through the same movements.
("I hope I can do that someday.") a gangly youth announced from the wings.
("Why wait. Get your sword and come try this with me. It's not very hard to learn, you just have to concentrate with your whole body.") the older experienced girl explained. Smiling at the exhuberent child, as she retrieved her sword. ("You ready Bug?") waiting patiently for the child to take her place along side her.
The two siblings moved through the first steps, rather slowly at first and injurous too. Each suffered a few cuts and bruises from the inexperienced handler. Patience and practice payed off in the end, by no time the pair had developed a rhythm of perfect unison. This was a favorite time for both, their time alone to learn and talk.
The sword ceased it's movements, as the handler adjusted the hilt to a defensive stance. Not for sure if the faint noise she heard was animal or human. Her eyes focused on the mist, waiting for the noise to appear. The noise presented itself promptly, in the figure of a tall woman, casually dressed carrying a sword.
"Sorry I didn't know anyone was out here." the figure apologized for the intrusion. Eyeing the other woman as she lowered her sword. "I'm Xena, by the way. This is my favorite place and time to come and work out." advancing on the blonde. The figure didn't respond, but only knodded her acceptance of the intrusion.
"Your Kayla aren't you?" knowing full well who the woman was, again the figure knodded. "It wouldn't bother you if I joined you in your work out would it?" Xena politely asked, more than hoping the young woman would speak to her.
Xena moved closer and took her stance close to the blonde. "It makes alot of difference. You were here first and you are the guest." Xena replied, enjoying the shocked look on the young woman's face.
"Oh I have many skills Kayla. Actually I have been touched, along time ago. Your sister..." watching as Kayla expressions went blank, "Your sister taught me how to communicate without words, among other things."
"Quite well infact, I spent alot of time with her and in that time she taught me a great many things." Xena smiled, thinking of some of the favorite things Cyane taught her, most of them beind close doors and under the covers or not. Xena had long ago decided if Alti wouldn't of interferred, Cyane would of probably converted Xena over to be an Amazon. Cyane's gentle touch and manners alone were enough to tame the darkness that pushed Xena. Cyane like Gabrielle, had a calming effect on the destructive warrior and she was the first woman to have deeply touched Xena's dark soul.
Xena put her thoughts on hold, not knowing if Kayla could read them and she didn't want somethings brought out yet. "Yes, briefly though. I didn't stay to long, being in place for to long made me anxious." nervously smiling.
Kayla replied, not realizing she stepped over the line.
"Gabrielle chooses to follow me. It's her decision whether or not she stays here or comes with me." Xena defended herself.
"Yeah well, I'm glad she does, because I think I would be lost without her." Xena relaxed and grinned.
"Depends on what kind of mood she's in." Xena wiggled her brows suggetively.
"Quite enjoyable, guess that's why I can't live without her." Xena purred.
While Xena filled Kayla in on the better parts of her and Cyane realtionship and experiences, the two had begun to practice together. The swords and the words flowed evenly as the pair tandemly worked their blades. Time quickly passed while they chatted and practiced, as the blades halted, so did the stories.
"You are so much like your sister Kayla, it kind of hurts to look at you and not see her or remember the past." Xena quietly admitted.
"Anytime Kayla, just let me know when your ready talk again. This tournament doesn't bother you?" Xena questioned, handing back the water skin.
Kayla rolled her eyes,
"Marda I presume is a big reason for that thinking." Xena intuitively noted.
"You sound like you have reservations about the other three claiming the mask." Xena quizzed.
"Must be nice to have such loyal friends. Kayla are you worried that Marda might try something under-handed?" placing her hand on Kayla's shoulder.
Xena responed by leaning in, "I know I saw them as I came in, but I figured they were there to protect you so I didn't bother rustling them out of hiding." taking Kayla by the arm, "Heed your mother's warning Kayla, she acting on gut instinct. You very well just might be in danger. Don't let your judgement be clouded by the fact that Marda is your cousin, or she may just end up the Queen and you'll wind up."
"Cocky warriors usually end up on the tip of someone's sword." Xena repremanded, not being afraid to voice her feelings one bit.
"Good." patting Kayla's shoulder. "That's were you differ from Cyane. She was to trusting for her own good. Always beliving that things would work out, even when it was obvious they wouldn't. She held her beliefs so strong that she ended up dying as a result." pain etched itself on the warriors face.
Kayla studied the sadden face.
Xena was taken off guard by Kayla's display, not to mention her heart-felt words. Guilt tightened her chest. Here this young woman was comforting the woman who killed her sister. Xena's mind wandered to the past and the look of disbelief and betrayal on Cyane's face, as she gripped the branch that protruded her body. She shook her head to clear the haunting memories, patting Kayla's back. Her blue-eyes searched the beautiful face for any signes of hatred, fearing that her thoughts might have been shared with Mystic. Seeing none, *Evidently you haven't learned that little trick yet.* "Yeah well, you better get going. It wouldn't be good to be late." not being comfortable with dealing with others emotions.
"Wouldn't want it to get around I'm a big softie." Xena covered up her guilt with a chuckle.
"What?" Xena earnestly asked, noticing the ill look that came over the young Princess.
rubbing her hand.
Xena breathed out a sigh, more than thankful that Kayla didn't suspect anything and a bit puzzled by why she didn't feel the exchange at all. Xena knew her time was running out, because Kayla was a fast learner and in the peak of her powers. The more time Kayla spent around Xena the more powers she would gain. The Mystic's taught their children from birth how to handle to powers, but it was only after they reached maturity did they bestowe the gift to them. It was a simple transferance of energy and with the teaching, the young Amazons were able to harness the gift and use it wisely. "You will in time Kayla. I will make sure you learn to use them, as well as be the one to give them to you. That must be what happened just now, you got a little dose of them. But to what extent I don't know."
Xena proceed to inform the novice of her legacy, just the same way Cyane had explained it to her so many years ago. The young woman listened intently to her words, not realizing the time had quickly passed.
"Hades Kayla, I've been looking all over for you. Your mother has already left to start the tournament and look your not even ready." Eva frustratingly proclaimed as she entered the clearing. Having found them several candlemarks ago, Eva silently sat and listened to their conversation. Now they were going to late.
The two exchanged nods. "You can say that again. And as usual my ass is in a sling, no thanks to you." Eva chasticed, smacking the blondes butt.
"Don't worry Little Wolf, your ass, as cute as it may be, is in pleanty of trouble too." Eva chuckled when the blonde cringed. "Now off with you and don't be late." recieving a quick kiss from her young lover. Eva shook her head, as she watched Kayla run off.
"I gather your far more than just her keeper." Xena grinned at the frustrated woman.
"That obivious, huh. Yep she keeps me young, save the gray hair." light heartedily laughing.
"Yeah I know the feeling." the older women then laughed together. "You gotta admit though, there are definite perks to keeping a younger woman." Xena wiggled her brows.
"Gods' bless the energy of youth. Somedays I wish I could turn her off, but then she gives me that sweet pouty lip and I can only think of ways to turn to her on." showing complete love and adoration in her eyes.
"Then you pray you can keep up." Xena winked, to the woman who just about her own age. Noting that Kayla's shadows were all gone. "Guess you better be going also. Wouldn't want to lose anymore of your ass..ests." informing the woman of her own tardiness.
"Your right, it's already to thin as it is." Eva smiled, then turned serious. "Thanks for taking time to talk with Kayla today. She really needed to find someone who could tell her about people. The Mystic's were an elusive bunch, so much of what we know is only hear say. It did her a world of good to hear the facts, not just the myths. There is a new spark in those pale blues, I've never seen before and it's because of you. I'm eternally in your debt." crossing her arm over her heart.
"Whoa there, don't give me so much credit. That spark you see, is a young woman coming into her own, with a little help from me. That's all." Xena tried to deter the graditude. Graditude she didn't deserve, because of her, Kayla was left an orphan.
"What ever you say warrior, but none the less I'm still grateful." Eva duly noted. A strange feeling came over Eva, as her mind began to register Gypsa's words. Two dark headed woman, one would try and kill her and the the other would change her forever. *Humm, So Xena your the one who will change her, but Hades who is the one...* kicking the dirt in frustration. "I better get moving. I can hear the drums starting. See you later Xena and thanks again." Eva gripped Xena's forearm and promptly took off for the tournament field.
*Don't be thanking me just yet.* Xena shook her head at the trust the stranger had in her.
Continued in Part 2