Disclaimers in Part 1

Chapter 7.

Alex and Ellie spent the rest of the day exploring the hills around the dig.  The countryside was arid, with little vegetation but the geology was fascinating.  About a mile from the dig site, they discovered a rocky outcrop, heavily salted with quartz which made it seem to sparkle in the sun. 

The surroundings could have been from millennia earlier, there were no buildings or ruins to show where any might have been.  There was a sense of timelessness about the area and they sat quietly in the late summer sun.

They returned to the mess tent for supper and retired to their tent where they read by lantern light before getting ready for bed.  They settled on the air mattress under the warmth of the duvet, and Ellie took her place on Alex's shoulder.

“I'm so sorry Hon….today has been spoiled hasn't it?”

Alex kissed her gently and answered.

“If this was any other dig, you wouldn't see me for dust, Ellie….but there is more to this than meets the eye and we are going to get to the bottom of it.”

Alex woke with a strange feeling…..she thought she could see a vague sparkling effect just disappear as she opened her eyes..….she immediately reached for her girl and was relieved to find her in her usual place, by her side.  Daylight showed through the fabric of the tent and Alex glanced at her watch, she shook it on her wrist, .but it had stopped.

“Damn battery again.” She muttered to herself.

 Alex scrubbed her hands through her auburn hair and wiped her hand over her face.  She could hear sounds outside the tent and could not place them.  Ellie stirred beside her and her green eyes opened and began to focus.

“What's all the noise, Hon?….sounds like we are in the middle of Athens”

Alex nodded, slipped from their camp bed and got dressed.  Ellie did the same and the tall Scot opened the flap of their tent.  She could not believe her eyes.  They appeared to be just outside a small town, which consisted of a single main street with ramshackle houses on either side.  There were what seemed to be Militia, stationed at the gates of the town, armed with spears and short swords.  They wore a uniform of sorts and a strange round symbol adorned their tabards.  The town was a hive of activity and people dressed in simple peasant garb passed by, leading horses and herding sheep.  Ellie joined her girl and they both looked out in utter amazement.

“This is a dream…..right Babe? ...croaked Ellie, and Alex, also lost for words, shrugged.

Nobody seemed to be paying them any attention and walked by them as if they were invisible.  The two women, hand in hand and with not a cigarette paper space between them, walked through the town.  It was a scene from ancient times with simple houses thatched with straw and pens with sheep and goats in them.  The sounds and smells seemed as real as those of the modern day dig, but they were in some kind of ancient scene. Women wore long skirts of coarse woven material and the men carried swords at their belts.  Although at a loss to know what the heck was going on, the two 21st century women carried on until they heard the sounds of merriment coming from a tavern.  Alex pushed open the door and found a celebration in progress.

At the table next to the fire, Alex and Ellie saw two women.  It was like looking at themselves.  A tall strong woman whose black hair was streaked with silver sat next to a smaller woman with sparkling green eyes.  Her once golden hair was also dimmed by grey but as the sun shone through the window behind them, the gold still sparkled.  The two women sat close together, the tall woman's arm around the smaller ones shoulders and their hands clasped together.

A tall slim woman in her mid fifties stood up and claimed silence…Four other adults came to stand by her; two men and two women.  Each shared a common family line that showed clearly from the black hair and piercing blue eyes, she raised a mug of ale and spoke.

“Today is the 30th anniversary of the day when my mothers defeated the evil demon Yodoshi in the land of Japp and freed the souls trapped within him. Each year we come together, friends and family to celebrate their life together and their love for each other.  Today, my children, Elias, Virgil, Xenia and Bria are here with their children. Join us friends and neighbours, please, join us in sending our love and respect to them….Xena and Gabrielle!!.

Their names reverberated around the tavern and Alex and Ellie looked at each other is silent amazement.

As the sounds of the toast died down, Xena nudged Gabrielle and they heard her say….

”Go on …you're the Bard…..go be Bardly…!!”

Gabrielle stood a little stiffly and spoke.

“Eve.  Thank you daughter, for your kind words.  Xena and I give thanks that we are able to celebrate this day with our daughter, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren.”

At this two little blonde children ran, one to Xena and the other to Gabrielle.  Each child was gathered up into their arms and hugged.  The twins, Toris and Lyceus put their arms around the elderly women and hugged them…then they shouted together in a well rehearsed ritual.

“We love you Giagia Xena and Giagia Gabby!”

The whole room endorsed the words of the two boys.  Alex and Ellie felt the depth of love and respect for their two past personae fill the tavern as the gathered folks applauded their Guests of Honour.

Time seemed to stand still for Alex and Ellie as they heard the stories of these two remarkable women.  Many scrolls were spread around the room and one after another people rose to read of their exploits.  They told of the time that Xena stopped the Persian invaders single handed when Gabrielle had been poisoned by an arrow….How Gabrielle fought by Xena's side when the Olympian Gods wanted to kill their daughter Eve….Their battles against Rome and how they had been part of the defeat of Caesar…Each story brought great roars of approval from the gathered company and through it all, Xena and Gabrielle smiled at each other and at their family and friends.

As the last story ended, Little Lyceus, who was sitting on his grandmother Xena's lap, asked ”Throw the Chakram for us…please…It's good fun…..pleeese?”

Xena looked at Gabrielle who smiled and shrugged, so the tall warrior stood and to the small boy's delight, reached up and took down the weapon from the mantel where it rested between two dagger like weapons.  Xena took Lyceus' hand, and Gabrielle took the hand of Toris and together they walked out into the road outside the tavern.  Alex, Ellie and the other guests followed, Xena left Lyceus with his father Virgil, and walked to the middle of the road.  She looked around and gestured some of the townspeople to move back a little and then she let out her war cry and launched the Chakram.  As it left her hand it divided onto two parts, each sped off in different direction.  The two parts ricocheted from rock to tree and rock again, sending off showers of sparks and shards of wood until the two pieces rejoined as it returned..  The party trick was well received with Oooh's and Aaah's and then applause as Xena caught it with a flourish.

“Show Off!” Gabrielle whispered quietly and received a hug from Xena in return.

Ellie looked at her girl and saw her own amazement at what they had just seen, mirrored in her face. 

The road swirled and Alex and Ellie began to see another scene appear.  It seemed to be some years later; Xena lay on the bed and Gabrielle knelt beside her. Their hair was now silver and their faces showed the lines of age.  Eve stood behind the small blonde figure, her hands on her shoulders. Silent tears flowed from both and the door gently closed as the healer made her final exit.

Gabrielle moved to lie next to her soulmate and at the touch; Xena's blue eyes opened and fixed on the beautiful face of her love.  She managed a small smile.

“My love, you are the beat of my heart, my beautiful Bard.”

Gabrielle whispered.” You are the breath of life to me my love….even in death I will never leave you.”

Xena's last breath sighed from her and Gabrielle held her dear face in her hands and kissed her lips one last time.  Both Gabrielle and Eve began to sob and the Bard arranged the coverings over her love and went to comfort their daughter.  Both Alex and Ellie felt their cheeks wet with tears as they witnessed this sad event.

For the two time travellers, the room swirled again and next they saw Gabrielle alone in the room with Xena.  The small blonde held Xena's razor sharp Chakram to her own throat and her pain was palpable, even through millennia.  Then a sparkling shape appeared in the room and a slim blonde materialised, her face a mask of concern.

Gabrielle spoke, her voice quavering with disbelief.

Aphrodite? She gasped.

“Yes little one....I'm still around.”…and she took the grieving woman into her arms.

“What's the plan, girlfriend,” she drawled, but her voice betrayed her fears.

“I can't go on without her Dite....I don't want to…the pain is too great.  All the other times I knew I had a chance to get her back….not this time.  My heart is breaking. No more, no more, Dite….no more...it's too hard.” she sobbed.

“Gabrielle” said Aphrodite, “do you think I would let you be parted after all you've been through?.  Your hourglass is running out too. Just trust your love, my old friend.”

In a twinkling, she disappeared and Gabrielle stood for a few moments, then turned and went to lie next to her love, she put a last kiss on her forehead and adjusted a stray lock of hair.

Alex' n' Ellie watched as the two women lay together for the last time in this life and waited as Gabrielle's breathing slowed and then stopped.  A shimmering figure reappeared at the end of the bed and blew them a kiss of farewell.

Once again the room swirled and the two modern day women saw a procession through the town.  A chariot led by a golden horse pulled its precious cargo for the last time, two still forms lay in the chariot, covered by soft linen blanket. They followed the procession to the familiar cave outside the town on the hillside.  Music played softly on lutes and lyres to accompany the last journey of these revered soulmates and both Alex and Ellie knew they were to be buried together, wrapped in each other arms. 

The procession travelled to a familiar hillside outside the town and stopped.

Eve spoke to the assembled mourners.

“My friends, my family and I would like to say our final farewells in private.  We thank you for the respect you have shown our special women and we ask to be left alone now.”

The crowd dispersed, several laid flowers on the covered forms on the chariot and soon Eve and her children were alone.  Inside the cave a stone sarcophagus had been carved and decorated, the top of the sarcophagus showed the complex knot pattern that had become so important to Alex.   Eve took an earthenware pot from the Chariot and she entered the cave. 

In the corner a small hole had been dug, she rested the pot in it and carefully buried it.

From the Chariot, the others brought in pots of wine and oil, they laid linen fabrics in the sarcophagus and flowers on top of the lid, and finally Eve rested a Warrior shield up against the stone and sprinkled some gold coins on the lid.  Virgil and Elias completed the tribute by bringing in a small carved statue of a Warrior's Battle Horse. 

The family left the cave, Eve nodded to her sons and they rolled a large rock over the entrance.  Even in this strange dreamscape, Alex and Ellie were confused and waited to see what would happen next.  The five people began to lead the golden horse away from the cave.  They travelled about a mile away from the cave to a mountain side where a swathe of quartz twinkled in the sunshine.  There, in a small hidden valley, was another cave.  They carried the bodies of Xena and Gabrielle carefully inside.  Alex and Ellie followed and witnessed them laying the soulmates together in a deep hole dug in the floor of the cave.  Xena and Gabrielle were laid gently and reverently on their sides, facing each other.  Their arms were placed around each other, flowers placed over them and then they were covered in layers of soft linens.  Each member of the family, tears streaming down their faces helped to cover them in the earth and they did not rest until the floor of the cave was level and flat and showed no signs of disturbance.

Eve nodded her approval,

“Now let us see if those who would wish to desecrate the graves of Xena, Warrior Princess and Gabrielle, the Battling Bard, can find them here.   Here they rest for all eternity.”

Finally, the family laid into a second hole one half of the chakram and one of the daggers Alex and Ellie had seen in the tavern dagger.  Ellie shook herself from the emotion of this scene and whispered in Alex's ear.

“Hon….I've just realised that they must the things that Telemon wants....the Chakram and the Sais….but they've only buried half the Chakram and one of the Sais.!”

Alex nodded and they left the cave.  The family also left the cave, and then Elias and Virgil climbed up the rock face above the cave.  A large pile of rocks had been placed at the top of the cliff.  Whilst Eve and her daughters moved away from the cave, the two men started a rockslide and a shower of boulders fell and covered the opening of the cave.  When the dust had settled, there was no sign of the cave.

The family made their way slowly and sadly back to the first cave.  The two men began to dig a small hole in direct line from the sealed tomb to a rocky outcrop some thirty feel away.  The hole was small; maybe a foot square and a foot deep and when Eve nodded her approval, her daughter Bria reached into the chariot and carefully carried another earthenware pot to her mother.  She placed it in the hole, slowly and almost reverently, and then she backfilled the hole.  When she had finished her sons ran the wheels of the chariot and the hooves of the golden mare over the hole, again and again, each time an indentation appeared as the ground settled, it was filled again until only the tracks of the wheels and hooves remained. 

Eve whispered…

“Their final wishes have been honoured and we are all bound by our oaths to them, to keep their secrets.”

She gathered her children around her and they stood for a moment in final farewell, before turning and making their way back to the town. 

The scene swirled again and the next thing the travellers knew, they were waking up in their tent.  They shook their heads to clear the fuzziness they both felt and neither saw the sparkling shape disappear.  They turned to each other and neither seemed to want to speak.

“Did you have dream, Hon?” ventured Ellie.

“Yep….and a dilly it was too, darlin'…..I'll tell mine if you tell yours.” but the tremor in her voice belied the weak attempt at humour.

When the two soulmates had discovered that they had been together before, it had not seemed strange at all, and even the enormity of their shared ‘dream' did not truly frighten them.   If anything, it seemed to awaken more memories, and so they talked of what they remembered and Ellie got out a notebook to write it all down before it faded from their minds. She sketched the shape and decoration of the Chakram and the very strange shape of the dagger like Sais.  When they were happy that they recorded all they had seen and heard, they began to hear sounds of the camp waking up.

“Why did Eve bury the pot in the fake tomb?” mused Ellie.

“To lay a false trail, I suggest…The tomb was obviously robbed out by someone…..we only found a few coins, some pottery shards and the horse.  Most of our information came from the carvings and the friezes on the cave walls.” Alex suggested.

“.and what about the second pot…??”

“Beats me, darlin'…..they really didn't want the second one found….but why bury it?  Why not destroy what was in it??”

“Maybe it was too precious to destroy….but too dangerous to allow it to be found?”

Alex looked fondly over at her girl.

“You've spent too much time talking to us Archaeologists, Ell….you're starting to think like one…..and sound like one!”

“Why, Dr Wallace….I'll take that as a compliment!!  So what do we do now, Hon?”

“I have a mind to get that second pot….What do you think?

Ellie thought carefully, “What we found in the first pot has only reinforced the story of our Warrior and her girl….if we could be sure the second would do the same, I'd be all for it…but the only way to find that out ….is to dig it up and then, it'll be too late….”

“Not if Alan and I get sole rights to it…the Greeks don't have the scanner and we do…after Alan's little scam with Mr Telemon, I'll have the whip hand and I can keep anything under wraps we think is too private…or too personal to our past….to be revealed”

“OK….but how do we get the search area extended?”

“I can easily get the geo-phys to check the area in front of the tomb to get the second pot….no problem..…..Another thing….It will look suspicious if I don't join in with the hunt for the second chamber…so I will....but in a few days, it will become apparent that there isn't one, and we can all go home.”

Ellie suddenly leapt on her partners lap and hugged her with all of her might.  Alex managed to balance the change in weight before they both crashed to the ground, and hugged her back.

“Whoah….Cowgirl….what's all this for.?”

Alex felt tear on her cheek and pulled back to see that her girl was crying.

“What's wrong ..?” she asked.

“I am so proud of you….and there is nothing wrong with me!! .I'm feeling great…because that means we are going to leave them in peace, doesn't it?”

Alex was thoughtful and answered.

“Do you know how many digs I have been on where I have disturbed the bones of ancient skeletons?  I had never realised what I was doing…..it was always about the science and the clues for me….I had never thought that these were real people ,with families that loved them and laid them to rest with such love, only to have someone like me come, millennia later, to disturb that peace.  Never again Ellie…..from now on…...no burial mounds or tombs for me.”

The two lovers sat together and absorbed this for some time, until a voice disturbed them.  It was Stavros, the dig leader, an old friend of Alex's.

“Any chance you two love birds are going to do some work today?”

Alex gave Ellie one last kiss and answered

“Och...awa with ya, Stavros… ya heathen bastard    make yourself useful and get us some tea!”

They heard him roar with laughter and walk back in the direction of the mess tent.

Chapter 8.

For the next few days, Alex worked with Alan and George on the geo-phys results.  They found a few anomalies in the floor of the cave and to help in their efforts, the sarcophagus was moved. It took ten diggers the best part of a day to jack it up and get it onto rollers.  They were careful and much to Alex's relief …did no damage.  The carvings on the stone were still clear and beautiful even after two millennia, and Alex wanted them to stay that way.

After her initial reaction to the news about Rase Telemon, she and Alan slipped back into a reasonably comfortable working relationship, but Alex felt no remorse in keeping what she knew to herself.  The work was hard and one morning, Alex decided that she and Ellie deserved some down time together.  She cleared it with Alan and borrowed one of the camp vehicles.  They drove to the coast to a little Taverna, enjoyed an excellent meal and watched the waves lap at the shore.  They were about finished when a car drew up and out stepped Affie Telemon.  She was alone, still a vision in pink and when she saw the two women, she waved and came to join them.

Both Alex and Ellie raised their eyes to heaven but by the time she had reached their table, they had assumed the welcoming faces of the diplomat.

“Hi Girls...this is soooo not what I expected…can I…..like…..join you?  Waiter, can we get some more wine please.”

The blonde Bimbo continued to prattle on about the weather and her visit to the beauty parlour that morning until the waiter had brought, and poured, the wine.  Then she became quiet and sipped from her glass. She slipped her sunglasses down her nose and regarded the two lovers over the top of them.

“Well, girls…I hope you got my message?”

Alex and Ellie looked at her, her tone had changed and the valley girl was gone....in her place sat a confident assured woman, looking at them with a knowing smile.

“What message?” asked Ellie….genuinely confused

Had any good dreams lately?” Affie asked and now it was her turn to be the subject of probing looks from the Scot and the Texan, both of whom would have sworn that the woman before them was giving off a shimmering sparkle.

It was Ellie who dragged the words out through dry lips.


“As you live and breath, little one….It's me!”

There was a stunned silence and Affie spoke again.

“If you think I was gonna let my Bro get his hands on my chosen ones again   Huh!....No way girlfriends…!!  The Chakram and the Sais stay where they belong …..Am I right….or am I right?”

Alex and Ellie looked at each other and smiled as they glanced over at the blonde vision in pink.

”You're right!”….they said in unison and watched in amazement as she got up, walked back to her car and drove away, with a lazy wave of her hand and a kiss blown in their direction.

The two lovers looked at each other, they were becoming immune to the many surprises that this dig was throwing up, and even the presence of an Olympian Goddess left them only faintly bemused.

Back at the dig, they discovered an irate Rase Telemon berating Alan Stimpson.

“I know they are in there somewhere, you are trying to stonewall me, Professor….and you will find out that is not a wise course of action…”

The dark man bristled with rage and in the sunshine, he seemed to shimmer.  He saw Alex approach and turned on her.

“What are you hiding from me, Wallace?…How long will you be a thorn in my side?  I want the Chakram and the Sais....and I will do whatever it takes to get them.”

He turned on his heel and stormed back to his vehicle; a young digger got in his way and was thrust away with enough force to send him several feet through the air.  Ellie rushed to him and helped him up and as she checked he was alright, she caught the look on her partners face and just for a second, a dark shadow passed over the beautiful blue eyes and Ellie felt a shiver go down her spine.

The dig had come to a standstill while this scene unfolded, but gradually people began to return to their jobs.  Alan brought Alex up to speed with developments.  The cave tomb had been searched from top to bottom, the walls were all solid rock proven by geo-phys, the floor was just a floor, proven by several test pits and Alan had run out of ideas.

Later that evening, most people had retired to their tents and the camp became quiet.  Alex and Ellie were reading in their tent.  Ellie was still working on her account of their strange dream when they both felt a strange sensation.  It was as if someone was breathing next to them, and yet they were the only occupants.  They looked at each other and instinctively moved to touch the other.  Then they heard a faint sound, almost a memory of a sound, Alex grabbed a torch and taking her girl's hand, led her out of the tent.  The camp was lit by the full moon in the night sky, but their attention was drawn to faint sounds coming from the tomb and together they began to move towards it.

As they approached, they heard voices that were raised but muted by the thick stone walls of the cave.

“Come on Bro….there is nothing here…lets go before they find us.”

“Give me a break, Sis and stop your whining…I know they are here….I was here when the procession left Amphipolis……I saw them stop here.  Then I had to go get involved in the war in Thrace….but I know they were buried here.  When I got back, I hung around the town and everyone was talking about what a great funeral it was.  Damnit, I could take this tomb apart with one thunderbolt…”

“Don't even go there, Rase….I am not gonna let that happen…and you know you need my power to make thunderbolts….we found that out after Xena gave us back our powers in the north country.  We are ying and yang, Bro....get used to it….you've had 2000 years.”

A roar sounded from the tomb and Alex and Ellie stepped back and turned off the torch as the two intruders left the tomb.  When they were both in clear ground Alex turned on the powerful light and stood in front of them.

Rase Telemon hissed when he saw her.

“You...again!  Will you haunt me for all eternity?”

Alex moved closer to him and Ellie felt the reverberations of many such encounters flow around them.  Her girl's voice sounded out with no trace of a Scots accent….it's tone was low and menacing.

“You couldn't beat me then Ares....and you won't beat me now…the graves and weapons are lost forever…..only Gabrielle and I know where….and we aren't gonna tell you anytime soon….So just go away and leave us alone.”

“Telemon paused and Ellie could see him weighing up the situation…he sniggered and in a flash of light, two swords materialised in his hands…..he threw one to Alex who caught it with practised ease and they began to circle each other.  Ellie was rooted to the spot until Affie came and drew her some distance away.  Every instinct in Ellie body willed her to go to her lover's side….but she couldn't move of her own free will…..it was as if she was held in invisible bonds.  She watched as the tableau unfolded.

The two participants circled each other and then in a flurry of movement, they slashed and parried…stroke after stroke…the blades crashing against each other with great force.  The two protagonists whirled and tested each other, until the dark man committed himself to a roundhouse stroke which Alex met with a twisting parry and his sword flew from his hand and landed feet away.  In an instant Alex's sword was at his throat, and she growled.

“I know I can't kill you any more....but if you have any self respect as a man….you will yield..”

His chest heaved as he fought to calm his breathing and, for Ellie, the moment seemed to last forever, but then he spoke.

“OK….you win...”

Alex dropped the sword and offered him her hand, which he took, and she pulled him to his feet.

Affie's hands left Ellie's arms and released from her strange handcuffs, she ran to her lover and was quickly taken into her arms.

Ellie looked at the man standing before her and spoke, her voice trembling with suppressed rage...

“You ever do that again….and I will find a way to kick your butt so far up itself, that you will be hard pressed to know what day it is….”

Telemon looked at her long and hard and shook his head

“Still the feisty, irritating little blonde aren't we?” he said mockingly and as Alex made as if to move towards him, he held up his hands, palms towards her, and backed off a few steps.

There was a shimmering light and he disappeared, Affie remained long enough to smile at them and gently stroke Ellie's face before, she too, disappeared.

Stavros banged together two metal cups outside the tent in the traditional wake up call of a dig, and he called to them.

“Breakfast ladies…..Rise and shine.”

For the second morning running, the two women shook their heads as if to clear them....and this time….without a word, Ellie reached for her notebook. 

The work of the dig continued.  Alex had suggested that the geo-phys survey should be extended outside the cave to a radius of about 30 feet and several test pits were dug but, initially, turned up no new evidence.  Then George came out from the tent where the computers were set up and her excitement was very clear.

“Alan, Alex….look at this..”

She showed the printout of the last survey and there, clear to be seen, was an anomaly that just begged to be investigated. Alex couldn't help exchanging a look of triumph with Ellie, who was sitting nearby under an umbrella, making notes.  The geo phys results were used to mark out the dimensions of the test pit and, after careful measurements, a specific area was identified with spray paint.  Two of the students began the hole by shaving off a bare inch of soil at a time.  They knew from the results that whatever it was, would be found about a foot below the surface.  When they were about eight inches down, Alex signalled them to step back and she lay down full length on the ground and began, painstakingly, to remove the soil, teaspoon by teaspoon, until she saw the faintest glimpse of earthenware.  She signalled for an umbrella to shield the pit so that no shadow fell across it and used a fine brush to sweep away the grains of soil adhering to the surface of the find.   She lay there for two hours, ignoring the stiffness that was creeping into her body, and concentrated only on the tiny movements of her hands.  Once the news that Alex was onto something had spread, the dig had come to a standstill.  The diggers and techies were all seated around the dig area; there were faint murmurs of voices but most were quiet.  Ellie marvelled at the power of the moment and, although she and her girl knew what they were about to uncover, the tension was no less tangible for them.

Eventually, Alex had revealed almost all of the pot except a small area that still anchored it in the ground and kept it still.  She beckoned to the two diggers who had begun the pit, and they too lay down full stretch on the ground.  George came with a camera and began to take photographs of the pot from every angle. When she was satisfied that she had sufficient photographic evidence of the pot in situ, she nodded to Alex who in turn nodded to the diggers and carefully, they lifted the pot from the earth after 2000 years and placed it in the waiting padded box.  Alex settled it in safely, making sure that it would not move, and only then did she slowly stand up to ease her sore muscles. She smiled as Ellie moved into the circle of her arms and the whole dig erupted in applause.

That evening, as tradition demands on a dig, there was a celebration of their find.

“These people live and breathe for such a day.” Elli thought and their delight was apparent …as was their seemingly infinite capacity for the strong drink of the area!!!

The next day, they completed all of the surveys and nothing more was revealed.  Alan and Alex agreed that it was time to pack up and although disappointed, Dimitri concurred by phone from Athens.  The dig was disbanded and on the last day, Alex and Ellie walked to the valley where they had seen the seam of quartz.  It was a quiet, peaceful spot and the two lovers sat together, their fingers entwined, and soaked up the atmosphere.  Ellie picked a few of the wild flowers that grew on the hillside and they made a small cairn of rocks and placed the flowers in it.  Then they kissed, a long and passionate kiss…as if to show how glad they were to be together in this special place

Two days later, after the debrief at the University of Athens they travelled home, as they had arrived, in the belly of a C130 Hercules Aircraft.  Alex held in her arms the case, within which was the second precious pot.  At RAF Kinross, Alex placed the find in the University truck and charged one of the students to guard it with her life.  The girl, whose name was Fiona, just gazed up at Alex and nodded.  Alex saw her own girl stifle a giggle and turned to her…

“What?....Did I say something funny?”

“No Hon....it's just that poor girl….she is sooo in the clutches of' ‘I'd do anything for you Alex' mode!“ she was delighted to see a blush spread up her tall dark partner's face and she hugged her fondly.

Alan and his team unloaded their gear.  He came to say goodbye to the two women, waiting by their truck.

“Well Alex…no second chamber....we must have mis-read the scroll…or maybe the reference was to the second pot? “  he hesitated and dropped his gaze, he shuffled his feet in embarrassment and spoke, his voice low and full of emotion....”I'm sorry if I disappointed you…I had no real choice….It could have been the find of the decade and we need that kind of publicity if the faculty is going to continue to grow and evolve.  Are we still friends?”

Alex just came and hugged him; he hugged her back and nodded to Ellie. She smiled and he walked to the University truck and drove away.  Alex and Ellie thanked the Hercules crew and began their drive back home. 

“What do we tell the family Hon?” asked Ellie.

I'm not sure that they are going to be ready for the story of how we saved our two millennia old tomb from raiders, darlin!  Perhaps just the facts, that there was no second chamber in the known tomb of Xena, Warrior Princess.”

Chapter 9.

Their explanation was accepted by J, Jeannie and the Boys who were pleased that their girls were back.  The changes at the hotel had worked well and all was running smoothly.  Ellie was pulled in to help with training the staff for conferences and the hotel already had bookings for two prior to Christmas and three in the New Year.

Alan Stimpson and Alex were writing a joint paper on the finding of the scrolls inside the pot and the way in which they had extracted the hidden data.  The discovery was, in itself, big news in the world of Archaeology despite their failure to locate a second chamber at the tomb.  The finding of the second pot had gone a long way to offsetting the disappointment, but Alex had been adamant with Alan, that no investigation of the find would happen until the New Year and that she should be present and lead the investigation.  Alan was pleased to demur to Alex and agreed to her terms, without discussion.  The pot was locked in the secure vault of the university, sitting safely next door to the original one. 

Twice, during the weeks since their return from Greece, Alex had driven to Edinburgh to compare data, leaving Ellie to organise the conferences, but as Christmas approached, they began to spend more time together at their Croft. 

J had asked Alex and Hamish to stand as his Sidesmen at the wedding, Donald was to give the blushing bride away and Ellie was to be Jeannie's maid of honour, so there were invitations to sort, flowers to arrange and the honeymoon to arrange. Alex and Ellie had taken on this role, J and Jeannie had been adamant that they were too old for all this fuss, but the two women were determined that their two family elders would have a holiday that they would remember. There had been many discussions over a beer at the hotel and each idea had been discounted, until finally an agreement was reached.

Christmas was fast approaching and the hotel began to fill up with guests.  Alex had heard from Alan that they had been asked to present their paper on the use of the new scanner, at the prestigious New Year lecture to be held on the 29th December at the University.  Although this pleased Alex, her thoughts kept returning to the valley in Greece with the quartz sparkling in the sun.  She would often catch her lovely girl in quiet contemplation and mused that although they had only been together in this life for less than a year; they had centuries of shared memories waiting to be explored.

They had set up their little Christmas tree in the croft and gradually little packages began to appear around it.  Alex caught Ellie shaking one of them

“Oh no you don't, my nosy little cowgirl….you'll have to wait” and she took the gift and held it over her head so that Ellie couldn't reach it.

“Hey, unfair use of height advantage, Babe, “Ellie shouted as she jumped up to try to get it. She realised it was futile so she decided to use underhand tactics and began to tickle her tall lover until she dropped the parcel and fell to the floor, helpless with laughter.

Ellie sat astride her and continued to tickle her until Alex yelled

“Give…OK I give…you can open one....but only one….OK”

“What and spoil the surprise on Christmas morning??....No way, big girl….half the fun is in the shaking and sniffing before the day.”

Alex pulled her girl into her arms and they lay together in a happy heap and enjoyed the closeness.

Christmas day dawned and found the two lovers all cuddled up together, dozing contentedly.

They were due at the hotel for a traditional family meal at midday so they had plenty of time to spend, just being together.  Alex, eventually, got up to make tea and rekindle the fire in the sitting room, a tousled blonde followed shortly after.  They sat on the couch watching the snow swirling outside the croft and sipping their tea.  Alex rose and went to the tree; she brought back some gifts and gave then to her girl. Ellie went to the tree and brought some gifts back for her girl. Each opened one and laughed as they discovered silly little tokens, some jelly babies and sugar mice for Ellie and new tea bucket for Alex with the legend' World's Best Teamaker' on it and to her delight, a new Scottish Rugby shirt.

This is great darlin', perfect.”

“There is one condition to this gift, my big girl…the old one goes in the bin....it has been beyond redemption since we met….Agreed?”

“Aww, Ellie…it's an old friend and it so comfy…..can't I keep it for mucky jobs…..pleeeese….??”

“OK Hon....but I warn you….the first time you put it on to go to the Hotel….”Ellie mimed a big pair of scissors cutting it up, with a gleeful expression on her face.

A few moments later, they had showered and were back in their bedroom getting dressed…...well….Alex was wearing her traditional Highland dress….but Ellie was pulling things out of the wardrobe and then discarding them. Alex sat on the bed and smiled at her indecisive love.  She went to the large cupboard by the door and pulled out a brightly wrapped gift, she walked over to Ellie and handed it to her. Ellie's nose wrinkled into her cute little grin as she received it; she looked sideways at her girl and then sat on the bed to unwrap the gift.  The parcel contained a Kilt, made in the Wallace tartan, a long narrow piece made from the same tartan and a white ruffled shirt.  Ellie held them up in amazement and looked over at her grinning girl.  Her green eyes were glistening as she began to put on the new clothes.  Alex helped her to arrange the plaid over her shoulder and fix it in place with her final gift, a silver Wallace Clan pin. When Ellie was dressed, Alex turned her so that she could see herself in the mirror on the wall.   She drew in a breath of delight as she saw the two of them standing together in the timeless dress of the Scots, so full of tradition and history.  Alex's hand was on her shoulder and the small blonde Texan Scot turned and hugged her love, she whispered.

“Is this all real, my love, or am I dreaming again?”

Alex's answer was a long gentle kiss and as they broke apart. Ellie whispered.

“Nope…definitely not a dream....but maybe you'd better do that again.  Just in case…!”.

As they prepared to leave for the hotel, they wrapped up in long flowing capes for the short journey to the Hotel.  The wind was swirling the snow around outside and the temperature was below zero.  They ran from the car park into the Hotel reception area; Alex took their capes and shook the snow from them before hanging them by the door.  As she turned around, she saw Uncle J. in his full Scots dress standing as if transfixed, as he looked at the tiny blonde figure.  A huge smile grew on his face and with a roar; he shambled over, picked Ellie up and swung her around.

“Well Lassie, you look the part and no mistake….my wee Scots girl.  I claim the right as head of this family, to escort the prettiest Flower of Scotland I have seen in many a long year.  You're to come away in on my arm, and no man will be prouder than I am this day”. And he whisked Ellie away into the dining room already full of people gathered for the feast, leaving Alex smiling fondly at the retreating backs of her love and her uncle.

The usual Christmas day festivities at the Applecross Hotel consisted of an humungous meal, this year prepared and cooked, in it entirety, by John the Chef.  He had finally exerted his rights and banned Jeannie from his kitchen.  Although she had, at first, made lots of noise about her position and the respect due her…eventually and, Alex thought, a little too easily, she accepted and sat quietly at the head of the long table laid out with decorations of holly and candles.

As tradition demanded, J brought in the turkey accompanied by Donald playing the bagpipes and it was placed on the table already groaning with steaming bowls of vegetables.

The waiting and kitchen staff came and took their seats around the table as J called for silence and the room became still.  Guests and family alike joined hands around the table and the deep voice of Uncle J intoned the traditional Scottish Grace, handed down through centuries from the quill of the Scottish Bard, Rabbie Burns.

Some hae meat and cannot eat

Some can not eat that want it

But we hae meat and we can eat

Sae let the lord be thankit.

A loud AMEN sounded and, with a flourish, J began to carve the bird and the meal began.

By the time the flaming Christmas pudding and a huge Cloutie Dumpling had made their entrance, Ellie was so full of food she thought she would burst and leant against her girl with her cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk, this comical sight almost made Alex choke on the last sprout she was forcing into her mouth.  When those that could…. had finished the rich desserts, J rose again and with a glass of wine in his hand, called for silence.

O Lord, since we have feasted thus

Which we so little merit

Let Meg now take away the flesh

And Jock bring in the spirit!!

The room erupted at the traditional meal end grace and as the applause died away, the musicians left the table and began to tune their instruments.  The table was cleared and to the family's delight, Jeannie allowed herself to be led to the couch by the window by her gallant Fiancé J, whose face glowed both with wine and love, as he did so.

Alex, Ellie and the Boys played their part and cleared the table so that the staff could join in the after dinner festivities.  The hotel was a family run affair and the staff were part of that family, they all donned silly hats and glasses were filled and refilled as the dancing began.

Apart from the occasion of their wedding, when she had performed a line dance with her buddies Dany and Ann, Alex had never been able to get her girl to dance. Ellie's excuse was always that she had two left feet. So the tall auburn haired Celt was astonished when her girl rose, and with a small bow extended her hand and asked.

“May I have the pleasure of this dance, lovely lady?”

Bemused but delighted, Alex accepted the hand and they joined the couples ready for The Eightsome Reel on the dance floor.  The chord sounded and the couples began to twirl in and out of the circles, handing from one dancer to another and Ellie twirled with the best of them, her kilt swirling in time to the music.  When the Reel finished and the couples had bowed to each other, Alex was amused to see Hamish come towards Ellie and exchange a high five with her, and then they both let out an ear splitting Scottish Battle Cry, which had all the assembled guests laughing.

“Well done, wee girl…you did me proud!” Hamish turned to Alex and laid a light punch on his ‘sister's arm.  “What do you think, big girl….quite a dancer, our Ellie…. Huh?”

Alex smiled at the two of them and muttered gruffly.

“My spouse and my brother…Hmmm!” and then roared with delight and hugged both of the conspirators.  What Alex didn't know was that when Ellie was supposed to be arranging conferences, Hamish had been teaching her Highland dances ready for just this day.  Alex was touched by what they had done for her, and tears filled the blue eyes.

They were sent home by Jeannie later that evening, with enough leftover turkey and salads to sink a battleship, and although Ellie protested that's she may never eat again….her girl knew that the little Texan's capacity for food would soon reappear.  The next day, they spent quietly, reading and playing games.  There was along transatlantic conversation between them and Dany, who was with her parents in Dallas and, as they were speaking, Ann arrived to visit Dany and the conversation continued for even longer.

It was about 4pm when the door to the Croft opened and the familiar voices of Hamish and Donald rang out.

“Room for two wee bored boys??  Have pity on us good ladies..!!”

The two big men were greeted, and seated with a sandwich and a beer before the snow had melted on their boots.  However, when he saw the sandwich, Donald groaned..

“Och, Ellie...for pities sake not turkey …again....do you have any cheese?” and he went into the kitchen with her to help make the replacement snack.  Alex grinned as she saw their heads close together over the cutting board and continued her conversation with Hamish.   The Boys had brought the girls their gift and they were delighted to find that it was a wrought iron candle sconce.  Donald had a workshop at the back of their cottage and he was skilled in making most anything in metal; they sat it in the table and as Ellie fitted some candles and lit them, the gentle light made the room even cosier.  They decided on a game of Monopoly but as they began to set up the board, Alex asked Donald if he could take a look at one of the windows in the bedroom which she though might need to be replaced.  Ellie was a little bemused by this as Alex hadn't mentioned it before, but she forgot about it as she and Hamish readied the board.

Chapter 10.

The time between Christmas and New Year was always a strange time, but this year Alex and Ellie were busy completing the PowerPoint presentation that Alex was to give to the faculty of Archaeology on the 29th.  They had done more work on the translations of the scroll from the pot and Ellie, who had used such presentations endless times in her Conference and Convention business, delighted her tall Scot with the skill and professionalism she brought to the task. Although Alex was a 21st century woman and her grasp of technology was good, Ellie's help took the presentation to a different level and Ellie had agreed to be at the sharp end of the projector that Alex and Alan would use to display their findings.

At one point, Ellie went to the hotel in response to a call for help from Tilly.  In her new role as Hotel manager, Tilly was well aware of when her skills were not sufficiently developed and when she needed some assistance.  This gave the family the reassurance, if any were needed, that they had made a good choice when they had promoted her...  Ellie was always pleased to support the young executive so grabbed her cape and, dropping a quick kiss on her lover's cheek, she braved the wind and snow of the promontory.  Alex, meanwhile, was working on a very obscure piece of the scroll.  There were many gaps but after identifying one symbol, the meaning suddenly became clear.  Her first reaction was to tell her partner, but then she hesitated.  Her face was covered by a momentary shadow as she decided to keep the secret for the time being.  She did, however phone Alan to tell him and he greeted the news with stunned silence.  It was amazing to both of these scientists how unwilling the past was to give up its secrets.  Alan in his turn had a revelation for Alex.  This lecture was shaping up to be a blockbuster for the world of the Archaeology of Ancient Greece, and for the Wallace women.

As the two women completed their preparations, prior to their departure to Edinburgh they were pleased to find that business at the Hotel was brisk and the preparations for the impending Nuptials were all in place.  They would, as normal stay overnight and their usual hotel room had been booked well in advance; Hotel rooms in Edinburgh, at Hogmanay, were as rare as hen's teeth!

They arrived at the Faculty building and went to find Alan.  He was his usual self, he wore a rather crumpled shirt, his tie was crooked, and he was leafing through sheaves of papers.

“Oh Hi you two!….good journey?”

He and Alex spent some time checking that each presentation would dovetail into the other, whilst Ellie sat and watched.  Eventually the time came to leave the safety of the lab and

Ellie, who had grown quite fond of the absent minded professor, straightened Alan's tie and the collar of his shirt,

“Thanks Ellie....”he muttered

The lecture theatre was packed to capacity as Alan and Alex mounted the stage to expectant applause.  Ellie was up in the sound box at the back, controlling the high tech LCD projector screen behind the two performers.

“Even from this distance, she looks good enough to eat” thought Ellie but then decided that she should concentrate on the job in hand.

The presentation was flawless and the audience sat in rapt attention as slide after slide revealed their journey in the discovery of the earthenware pot, in the original dig.   Despite Alex's objection's Ellie had insisted that some pictures of a much younger Alex and Alan leant both credibility and a human face to the dry and dusty process!!  Alex had objected to the description and had chased her girl around the Croft until the remark was withdrawn!

The slow and teasing reveal of the layers of the scrolls had the audience holding their breath and Ellie had to remind herself that to these gathered academics, students and luminaries of the archaeological world, this kind of new technology was their Holy Grail.

The final few slides showed the digital reconstruction of the scrolls and then Ellie faded the translation over the top of the Greek symbols to read…..

I, Xena of Amphipolis, formerly Warlord and Destroyer of Nations, swear on my sword to put behind me the ways of War.  I will use my skills to protect those who cannot protect themselves from evil and exploitation, and to spend the rest of my life in atonement for the lives I have taken.

I cast from my soul the bloodlust and fury of Ares, God of War, who led me for so long down the dark path to the damnation of Tartarus and pledge my sword, from now on, to the Greater Good. I attribute this to my friend and soulmate, Gabrielle of Poteidaia, whose gentle spirit and pure heart have been my guiding light in my search for redemption.  She is the breath of life to me, without her I am an empty shell.  I pledge my love to her for all time and will protect her, with my very soul, from any harm.

The audience was silent as Alex's deep tones resonated around the hall.

Ellie faded out the first scroll and then faded in the second, in its digital form.  With a great sense of timing and drama, she transposed the Greek version for the English translation.

I, Gabrielle of Poteidaia, Bard and Warrior, pledge my life and my weapons to Xena, Warrior Princess that I may help her in her quest for good. Her road has been hard from the time when the death of her brother Lyceus started her on her path of death and vengeance, but now she travels the path of peace.  I will chronicle her journey, and mine, in our search for those in need of our help.  I vow to be her support and her succour in times of need.  I pledge my heart to her for all time and will protect her from harm with all that I have and all that I am.  As Queen of the last Tribe of the Amazons, I name Xena of Amphipolis as my Consort with all of the rights and responsibilities of the office from henceforth until we are parted by death..

Ellie felt her throat begin to tighten when she heard a tremor in her lover's voice as she read the words, and then she realised that these scrolls were a declaration of marriage between the two women from the past.  Then the final sentence that Alex had spoken finally penetrated her consciousness…she replayed it in her mind…Queen of the last Tribe of the Amazons…!!

She was vaguely aware that the lecture hall had erupted into rapturous applause and as she looked down at the stage, all she could see was the tall figure of her soulmate gazing up at her with brimming eyes.

For a moment Ellie felt herself suspended in time as the revelations of the last few minutes became familiar and real to her.  She thought she heard the faint sound of tinkling laughter…then she might have felt a light brush of a kiss on her cheek as she sensed a few vestiges of a sparkling light in her peripheral vision…..then the world came back into focus…and she was overwhelmed by the deafening applause reverberating around the hall.

It was another hour before she managed to extricate Alex from the hordes of press and television crews, all clamouring for interviews and later, at the hotel, the two lovers sat quietly.

“Penny for ‘em darlin'? Alex enquired softly

Ellie's head swung to meet the blue eyes, and she smiled.

“I was just wondering, my big Scot…..whether a Warrior Princess beats an Amazon Queen?!!”

Alex dissolved in peals of laughter, she reached for her girl and they collapsed on to the bed.

“I'll show you....shall I…your majesty…?!!”

Chapter 11.

The 31st December dawned with clear blue skies and sub zero temperatures, the two lovers snuggled in their big bed and just enjoyed the feel of their bodies close together.  Neither wanted to break the spell that they seemed to be able to weave around each other, but eventually the need for coffee spurred Ellie into action. She kissed Alex's nose and threw back the covers, revealing the tall Scot in all her glory, the little blonde looked her up and down….and whispered in an exaggeratedly sexy voice…

“Hmmm.. not bad for 2000 years old, Warrior Babe....you'll do…...I guess I'll keep you for a while longer!!”

Alex slid from the bed and knelt before her girl with equally exaggeratedly deference.

“At your command..…Oh Queen of the Amazons and of my heart…!!”

She got a swat across the butt for her trouble and Ellie was gone in a flash of white bathrobe before Alex could get her hands on her!

They breakfasted and made last minute preparations for their duties at the Hotel, when the door opened and they heard Donald calling for Alex….who became almost furtive and said rather quickly.

“Put the kettle on babe, I'll sort Don”

Ellie shrugged her shoulders and went to the kitchen, after a few minutes, Don came in ….she whispered to him

“Well…..have you got it?”

“Aye I have ….I left it in the woodpile under the tarpaulin.”

Ellie dropped a kiss on his cheek and grinned.

“You are the best, Bro….Where's Alex?” Donald raised his eyes to the ceiling and sighed…

“Oh I don't know, Ellie…in fact I don't know anything any more…..I need a cup of tea…!!”

The Applecross Hotel was decked with streamers and balloons in readiness for the double celebration of the Wedding of Uncle J and Jeannie and Hogmanay. 

The two women arrived in good time; Alex wore full Highland dress and Ellie looked beautiful in a full length cream dress with the Wallace tartan plaid across her chest, secured at her shoulder with the Clan pin.  They hugged briefly in the Hotel reception before parting to attend to their duties; Ellie to go to Jeannie and Alex to find Hamish and J.

“Och...wee girl,” Complained Jeannie..” If I had known what a faff it would be….I'd never have said Yes…I canna get my hair right, I cannot remember the last time I put on daft makeup…..and this dress has shrunk since I bought it…...I'll have to call it all off…” and she dissolved in tears.

Ellie took her in her arms and rocked her.  ”Jeannie....does this remind you of something??”

The elderly Scotswoman blew her nose and looked at her niece quizzically…..then she snorted with laughter and they both dissolved in giggles.

“Of course I do …it's what you said just before you married Alex!!!….Pre wedding nerves isn't it?

“Reckon so, Jeannie” Ellie whispered gently….”Come on...go splash some water on your face and I'll sort your makeup.”

Meanwhile, Hamish was struggling to get the Groom's bow tie done up.  J had tried and it looked a mess, it had not looked a great deal better after Hamish's ministrations. So as Alex entered the room, J roared at her…

“Alex…will you please tie this godforsaken… devil made… bloody implement of torture.”

The plea was so heartfelt that Hamish and Alex hooted with laughter, leaving their poor Uncle J with a tortured look on his face...but eventually, his niece took pity on him and came to stand behind him….she led him to a seat in front of the mirror where she quickly and efficiently tied an even knot for him.  She gazed at his grizzled face in the mirror and he caught her eye.  They shared a moment and then she picked up a comb and began to attempt to get his unruly mass of hair under some kind of control.

“Right then big man…..let's have a look at you.” She whispered and he turned to stand before his two Sidesmen,  who stood together and appraised his appearance.

They nodded and smiled at the dear old fella….

“Ye''ll do ....Uncle J…!!”

The guests were assembled, gentle music played in the background and the room was filled with the scent of roses and carnations.  J, Alex and Hamish sat waiting at the front and when the piper began to play, The Pibroch of Donal Dhu, they stood up.  The doors were flung open to reveal Fergus in his full Highland regalia, playing the pipes and leading a very proud looking Donald in his tartan, with Jeannie on his arm and Ellie walking behind..  Alex felt J give gasp as he saw his girl; she wore the same cream dress that Ellie wore but she wore two tartans crossed over her chest.  Her own Stewart and his Wallace plaids, the assembled gathering recognised the tradition of the Old Scots Wedding and smiled.  As Jeannie and Donald reached James Wallace, he put out his hand and Donald placed Jeannie's hand in his.  The ceremony was a simple one with just the declarations and vows and as this ended, J and Jeannie turned to face each other.  Ellie reached up to release the plaids crossed over the bride's shoulders, Jeannie tied them together in a large knot and handed them to J.  .The room was silent until he accepted them from her and leant forward to kiss his wife gently on both cheeks, then the room was filled with the stamping of feet and the sound of whoops and yells that threatened to lift the rafters.

Arm in arm, the newlyweds were led from the room by Fergus, to the sound of Morag's Wedding.  Alex took Ellie's hand and they followed, with Hamish and Donald bringing up the rear.  The guests clapped in time to the pipes and smiled at the wonderful sight.

The party that followed was the best of a long line of ‘best' parties ever held at the Applecross Hotel.   There was a never ending procession of music, dancing and singing….and of course the wine and whisky flowed in vast quantities!!!

J and Jeannie led the dancing, until J made her sit and rest. 

At 11.45, as the clock ticked away the last hours of 2006, J stood.  He called for silence and everyone settled in chairs, benches and windowsills to hear him.

“Today has been a wonderful day….I want to thank all of you for sharing it with us… Alex and Hamish for standing up for me….Donald for giving my girl to me….and of course our wee Ellie. Without the gentle support and encouragement of our friends and family, we might never have seen what has been staring us in the face for so may years....and finally....and most importantly….I want to thank my darlin' girl, Jeannie, for consenting to be my wife....”

As J took Jeannie's hand and raise it to his lips, there were few dry eyes in the room.  The applause died as down the grandfather clock began to sound the hour and Alex picked up the timeless task of raising the toast to the old year, and raised a glass.

“To family and friends, may the New Year bring you all health, wealth and happiness….SLAINGE!!”

……and the room replied with one voice.


Tradition demanded ‘Auld Lang Syne' and they all linked hands to sing…so the year ended and as Alex held Ellie tightly, she whispered in her ear…

”Here's to us and ours wee one.”


There were many sore heads the next day, but most of the wedding guests were in the car park to wave goodbye to Mr and Mrs James Wallace as they left for their honeymoon.  Hamish was to drive them, in Alex's truck, to Edinburgh where they would spend their holiday in Scotland's capital city.  The Girls and the Boys had tried to persuade them to take a cruise or fly off to the sun, but the family elders would have none of it. Scotland was fine for them and they were happy to be going to a posh hotel.  As the truck pulled away from the hotel, J satisfied another old Scots tradition by throwing handfuls of coins to the waiting children who scurried around to pick them up.

The morning of the 3rd of January dawned and the tall Scot and the wee Texan celebrated the first anniversary of their marriage with a leisurely morning in bed.!  When they finally got up, they each had a steaming hot drink and settled in their favourite place on the couch, by the roaring fire.

Ellie left the room and returned with a gift which she gave to Alex with a kiss; Alex smiled and reached down by the pile of cushions to bring out her gift.  They smiled and opened them at the same time.  Each gasped as the gifts were revealed. For Ellie, there was pair of Sais, made from steel, intricately tooled and twisted, with quartz stones embedded in the hilts and for Alex, a Chakram inlaid with the brass design from the tomb.  They looked at each other and a realisation hit them as they both spoke at the same time.


They laughed as they twigged why the poor lad had been so edgy around them for the last few weeks; each had asked him to make their gifts for the other!  They looked at these gifts and in their 21st century hands, the feel of them resonated through the centuries.  Alex stood and placed her Chakram on the mantle above the fireplace…as she turned back to Ellie, the small blonde reached up to arrange her Sais on either side of the Chakram.  They fell into a big hug followed by a long deep kiss; the connection with their past never more evident.

The End.

…hmmmm….now the Girls have another earthenware pot mystery to unravel….

Return to the Academy