For Disclaimers see Chapter 1
Gabrielle stood beside Xena with tears running down her face in pure happiness. Since their return to the Amazon village twenty years ago with a small baby wrapped in her arms, life had been one gift after another. She silently whispered a prayer of thanks to Artemis and Aphrodite for her daughter and Xena. She felt a tingle on her left ear and knew it was Artemis who had kissed her. A rose petal appeared in her hand and smiled as Aphrodite had acknowledged her as well. Today Elana and Ta'Kai were to be joined. Ephiny would preside over the ceremony as the Queen, Xena and Ta'Kai's mother Samoia would stand beside their daughters. The entire Amazon nation would give their blessings to their Princess and her new consort and would swear to the Goddess Artemis to protect the new family.
Hera of course stood on Mt. Olympus and sneered. "Soon dear Princess, soon."
As the ceremony was about to begin, Xena looked at her daughter and realized this was no longer the little girl who was always getting into mischief and constantly hiding from the Royal Guards. She had grown into a beautiful woman and will make the Amazon nation a proud leader some day. She possessed Gabrielle's oral skills of negotiation, but also possessed Xena's lethal combat skills if words would not be listened to. Xena noticed something wet on her face and realized she was crying. Today she was not the Warrior Princess, but a mother who's child was to be joined with her lover.
Elana stood at the alter dressed in her finest Amazon leathers. Her pants and top were a light brown colour made of deer skin. Her arm bands were strips of hide adorned with feathers and beads. She stood beside both of her mothers, but paid no attention to them as the woman that she loved with all of her heart was approaching towards the alter followed by the Royal Guard.
Ta'Kai wore a skirt and top made from deer skin as well as arm bands adorned with feathers and beads. In her hair was a wreath of flowers as well, she carried a bouquet of flowers in her hands and a small sword at her side. Before her stood Elana, Amazon Princess, her lover, friend and soon to be wife. If it weren't for a gentle poke by her mother, Ta'Kai was sure she would have missed the entire ceremony, for she only had eyes for Elana.
Ephiny stood before the tribe and performed the ceremony to join the two young warriors. She was sure no one except the guests listened to a word she was saying as Elana and Ta'Kai only looked at each other with love and contentment. Some how Gabrielle had managed to draw Elana's attention to the fact it was time for her to recite her vows to Ta'Kai.
Elana took Ta'Kai's hands and spoke her vows.
Today my love I join with you before this nation and our Goddess Artemis to become one.
I will love and cherish your heart and soul throughout all of our life.
I will protect you against all that would try to harm you until I breathe no more.
Here is my ring as a gift to you to honour our joining.
Ta'Kai smiles and takes Elana's hand in hers and repeats her vows.
Today my love I will join with you in front our tribe and Artemis as your consort.
I pledge you my undying love and devotion, protecting you from all of those who would try to do you harm. I not only pledge you my heart and soul, but lay down my sword at your feet as you are heir to the throne of the Amazon Nation.
I also give you my gift of this ring, to seal our joining until I breathe no more.
Ephiny stood before her Princess and family and proudly announced to the nation.
"You may now seal your joining in a kiss."
As the couple kissed for the first time joined, a cheer of congratulations was heard throughout the crowd. The young couple walked down from the alter to join in the celebration feast that was to follow. Hugs, kisses, feasting and celebrating went on throughout the evening. Gifts were bestowed to the young couple and the tribe rejoiced in this celebration. Artemis and Aphrodite looked down from Mt. Olympus with pride and love for the young couple. Tears ran down Aphrodite's eyes as she realized time was running short for Elana's fate. Soon enough she would be Queen and Hera would try and destroy her. But tonight the two Goddess' would be sending their own gift to the couple. A child to be born to Ta'Kai. Aphrodite hoped that Xena wouldn't be too mad. As the Centaur dung was sure to hit the palm trees over this one. But it was fate and it couldn't be helped. The future depended on it.
"I love you, you crazy nut. Come back to bed, I'm not done with you yet." Ta'Kai laid naked in their bed as the sun's morning rays filtered through the window of the hut. She had woken up to Elana sitting on their bed with a ball and chain wrapped around her ankle.
"I think someone was in our hut last night, before we left the celebration. I'm almost afraid to search around and see what other gifts our friends left us as a joke." Elana went to jump off the bed, but two very quick hands belonging to her lover grabbed at the chain and hauled her back.
"While I have you at a disadvantage, your mine!" TaKai let out a war cry and the battle for top was on.
"I surrender to your supreme rule, my consort. You may have the top." Elana looked up into Ta'Kai's beautiful eyes and could see nothing but love and desire for her. It threw her emotions into a spin and left her with tears running down her face. Ta'Kai stopped her assault on Elana's right breast and saw the tears.
"Elana, I'm sorry, did I hurt you?" The young princess dried her face and gathered her new wife into her arms. "No honey, you didn't hurt me, I'm just so overwhelmed by these feelings, it's so incredible."
Ta'Kai smiled at her lover and proceeded to move further down on Elana's body. "How about I show you incredible instead?"
The two lovers spent the rest of the morning showing each other just what incredible could be.
Xena could be heard screaming at Artemis and Aphrodite through the thick temple walls. Even Gabrielle was angered at the situation.
"You should have asked them first! Damn it you two! Maybe they don't want children yet.? They've just been joined. Couldn't you have waited a few months?"
Artemis was patient with her Queen and Consort. She let them have their say and then rose to speak.
"Gabrielle, you know better then anyone, that the Amazon must survive and to do that, it needs a Queen who will guide the nation for a next generation after Elana. We couldn't allow Elana to carry the child, she would be at a Hera's mercy and it's not what the Fates have in mind."
Xena started screaming again. "Now the Fates are invovled in this as well! It's bad enough you two have interfered in our lives over the years, but the Fates!"
Aphrodite held out her hand palm up and blew a potion in Xena's face. "Chill babe. Your making my hair go frizzy."
Xena quietly moved over and put her arm around Gabrielle. Small kisses turned into more demanding ones and the Queen was having a difficult time getting Xena to control her wandering hands.
"Aphrodite, what did you do to her?" The frustrated Queen didn't know whether to be angry at Aphrodite or thank her as Xena became more amorous. "Why don't we talk about this later? Gabrielle asked still fending off Xena. I'll take her home before she starts worshiping me on the alter instead of you." With that, the two smiling Goddess' disappeared in laughter.
Within weeks the morning sickness greeted Ta'Kai faithfully. "How did this happen, Elana? I can't be pregnant."
"Blame it on Artemis and Aphrodite and yes you are pregnant. Elana wet a piece of cloth to wipe her consort's face. Mother said to eat these biscuits, it helped her when she was pregnant with me." Ta'Kai took one look at the biscuits and promptly wretched again. Elana looked up to Mt. Olympus and said a few choice words that did not include worshipping the two Goddess' in question.
It was a warm night in June when the newest member of Royal family was born. A baby girl who came into this world kicking and screaming, letting the world know she was not happy about this situation. She looked around at this fuzzy world and although she couldn't focus on her mothers, she could plainly see two Goddess' smiling down at her. She smiled back as both Artemis and Aphrodite blessed her and welcomed her into this new and strange world. It didn't take long for the hunger pains to kick in and soon her tiny lips were surrounding the warm breast of Ta'Kai with Elana gently stroking her cheek. Maybe this place isn't so bad after all she thought and fell asleep while feeding.
The lookout guard came running back to the Amazon village. She had ran so fast, she almost collapsed from the stitch that ripped her side. "My Queen, an army, southwest corner, they're crossing through the plains." She had gasped as another Amazon brought her some water. Gabrielle quickly thanked the Amazon and yelled to the guard in the tower. "Sound the warning bell! Gather the children and the elderly. Make sure they are safe."
"Xena, where are Elana and Ta'Kai!" Gabrielle frantically searched for her lover, children and granddaughter, Arville. Two warm arms wrapped themselves around her in a gentle reminder that Xena would never allow anything to happen to their family. "They're down by the river and have heard the bell." At that two heads came running with Arville in Elana's arms. The argument could be heard over the tribe preparing for the advancing army. "Ta'Kai, please stay with the children and help guard them. If they break through our forces get out with Arville and the others." Ta'Kai stood her ground with the princess. "She is your child as well, you are the princess and heir, you should stay with her. I am just as good a warrior as you, remember?" Gabrielle was in no mood for this. "Both of you, swords and armour, now! Somia take Arville with the others." Somia took her granddaughter from Elana's arms, kissed both of the two warriors, touching Ta'Kai's face. "I will guard her with my life, Ta'Kai. Just make sure both of you return to take her home." With that she was gone.
Each and every Amazon warrior was stationed perfectly in position. Xena had trained Gabrielle's tribe members well and had no intentions of loosing anyone of them today. They had become friends and family. Each a valuable member in the scheme of village life. Even one person would be sorely missed.
Xena, Ephiny and six other Amazons rode out and approached the leader of the army. He was a young dark haired man. Brown eyes and a charming smile that had wooed many a bar maid. The approaching women made him feel cocky, not realizing just who the lead rider was.
Xena spoke first. "Greetings, you are trespassing on Amazon land. Perhaps you missed the signage?"
The young man sat back on his horse and grinned. "Greetings to you fair lady. My name is Tomas and I mean to pass through here. My army seems to out number you and your friends."
Xena smiled back drawing her sword. "Then perhaps you should look closer, Tomas." At the moment Xena drew her sword two hundred Amazon warriors appeared from their positions, weapons in hand, arrows cocked ready.
The smile left the young man's face. He had misjudged these Amazons. Perhaps one hundred men were not enough. But surely, his men could take these women. They were after all, just women. Pausing for a moment he looked Xena in the eye. "You will let us pass Amazon or we will slaughter you like sheep."
The smile never left Xena's face as she motioned the Amazons to be ready. "Sheep, you say. I can just imagine what a man like you could do with sheep. But it's not happening today. Turn around or we will show you how sheep fight."
With that, Tomas drew his sword and yelled the attack.
As the first round of arrows sailed through the air, Tomas' army held up their shields to block the approaching weapons. As half the arrows bounced off the shields, the other half found their way into legs and feet. Tomas' army quickly formed their position as the Amazon swordswomen attacked from the ground.
Elana's warriors were the first out to attack. Fifty of the tribes strongest warriors led the charge, followed by Ta'Kai and her fifty warriors. The battle had been evenly matched, if not for the sharpness of the archers from their posts in the trees.
In the history books of the Amazon tribe this battle would be recorded as a massacre. One in which Gabrielle sat and wondered why these men had attacked the tribe. Half of Tomas' army died, the other half captured and sentenced to death. As Gabrielle pronounced the death sentence, she immediately turned and threw up. Xena and the Royal Guard carried out the sentence. It was Xena's sword that executed Tomas. The talk of blood and war would be a hot topic around the campfire and dinner table for many days. A number of the Amazons had been injured in the fight and some had died. Their sacrifice to save their tribe would be honoured in the journals and their pyre shown brightly into the night, giving their souls back to Artemis and the Amazon land of the Dead.
Hera screamed at her minions and promised them eternity in Tartarus if someone wasn't found to kill Xena and Gabrielle. She wasn't about to risk her own children's wrath against her, but there was always some low life human looking for an easier way of life or a few pieces of silver. Tomas had failed her. What strength did those two Amazons possess that kept them from death? She could only think of Artemis and Aphrodite, but their powers were limited. No, she thought, there is someone else. Someone who's watching over and protecting them.
From elsewhere on Mt. Olympus, Hades and Celeste chatted quietly.
"Hera will not stop until she gets what she wants, my brother. What shall we do next?"
Hades looked uncomfortable sitting beside his sister. He hated Mt. Olympus. He much preferred his own kingdom of Tartarus. There he ruled and never had to hold conversation with anyone. Except for his sister, the other Gods meant nothing to him.
" I realize we both owe them favours Celeste, but how much longer can we protect them until Mother finds out? They are only mortals, what do we care?"
Celeste took her brothers hand and gently smiled. "You know why brother. They are the answer to the future. Mankind's future and ours."
Hades bowed his head and laughed. To think life and love would depend on the souls of a ex-warlord and an Amazon Queen.
The day started out with Xena, Elana and the newest Amazon Princess Arville, finding some quiet and solitude down by the river doing some fishing and talking. As the baby fell asleep, Elana spoke to her mother about the future.
"Those visions that Aphrodite said I would have, Elana stumbled over the words, when I 'd become Queen. I've been having them for awhile now."
Xena cast her fishing pole into the water and looked up towards the sky. "I know, you have been. She spoke as a tear ran down her face. Your mother is not well and there is nothing the healers or I can do to stop it."
Elana felt the tug on her fishing line, but did nothing to retrieve her prize. "I am not ready to become Queen, mother. I have Ta'Kai and a baby to worry about."
Xena looked at her daughter and smiled. "You will be a great Queen, my child. Gabrielle was Queen and pregnant with you and she had me to deal with." A laugh was heard between the two women.
Hera looked down from the luxury of her home on Mt. Olympus. "So, she sneered. It has begun." The cold laughter that could be heard sickened every God that day. Even Ares. "Blondie always was a pain in the ass, he said to no one in particular, but I'm going to miss her."
The two women fished into the late morning, bringing home enough fish for lunch and one hungry baby.