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Characters and backstory of Xena: Warrior Princess are the property of Renaissance/MCA/Studios USA.  This story is not meant to infringe upon their rights.  This story was not written for monetary gain.  Anything not copyrighted to the above mentioned parties is copyrighted to me.  If you wish to archive or link this story, please contact me.

Content Disclaimers

This story is rated PG-13 for implied violence.

This story contains themes and descriptions of a loving, sexual relationship between two consenting adult women.  This story is intended for a mature audience with an open mind.  If it is illegal for you to read this story for any reason at all, please close this web page and find something that is legal for you to read.

Author's Note

This is a collection of letters written from Gabrielle to Ephiny during her travels with Xena from Hooves and Harlots through A Family Affair.

Timeline/Spoilers

Please see the notes below as to which episodes are spoiled by which letter.

 

Comments can be sent to ztami@hotmail.com.


Letters To Ephiny

By TZ

Letter One

July 7, 1998

Hooves and Harlots

Letter Two

July 7, 1998

Is There A Doctor In the House

Letter Three

July 7, 1998

The Bitter Suite

Letter Four

July 7, 1998

One Against An Army

Letter Five

October 22, 1998

A Family Affair



Dear Ephiny,

I have read the scrolls that you gave me the last time I visited with you and our sisters. I must say that I found them to be both fascinating and complex. When I first received my right of caste from Terreis, I really did not fully understand the journey upon which I had embarked.

But that fateful day that you came to me in my hour of greatest need, in the Nation's hour of need, the fact that I was responsible for a nation of warrior women, was almost as shocking as Xena's absence.

And now, after reading the scrolls of Amazon history and culture, I am struck by how our history has been based upon the strength of the reigning Queen. I am now, more than ever, beset by doubt and anxiety that I am not the right woman for the mask. If it were not for the encouragement and support of both you and Xena, I believe that I would have run away screaming from my responsibilities.

The fact that you stand by me and rule in my presence is more than I could ever ask of you, and yet, you go so much beyond friendship by assisting me in what has become a personal quest. Some day, when I believe that I am made worthy through experience, I will come to the Amazons and take my place beside you.

Until then, I am afraid, I am still a naive child, ignorant of the ways of the world, of the harsh realities of being an Amazon in a world where women are only expected to marry and have children. Xena saved me from that existence, and I shall continue to learn and grow at her side until we are ready to come home.

Artemis be with you,

Gabrielle

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Dearest Ephiny,

First, to set aside any fear you may still have, I am doing much better since Thessaly. How is Xenon doing, by the way? I hope that he grows to be strong and brave like his papa. I hope that you, yourself, are feeling better. The loss of a loved one can be so confusing. I have been there twice already. When I lost Perdicus, I wanted to seek revenge, to cool the rage that had claimed my very soul. When I lost Xena, I wanted to follow her. And yet, through it all, I knew that I had to continue, to follow the course I had set for myself the day that I began traveling with her. It is funny now, when I think back to it, that she was the one who got me through both times with my sanity intact.

I have heard rumors as far south as Mycenae regarding the events with Velasca and Callisto. Just the other day, Xena took care of a couple of petty warlords who thought to use our time of rebuilding to take advantage and capture our sisters. Only Xena's cold, warning eyes kept me from laying into them myself. Imagine me, the little bard from Poteidaia, taking on a couple of brutes in defense of the Amazon Nation. I imagined it. I almost did it.

As for your worry, Xena is good to me. I think my dying has brought us closer to our own mortality. I had believed that she was unbeatable, and she had thought that with her smothering, she could protect me. We were both wrong. We are only human.

Realizing that, I believe that things will change between us. They have to. I learned that she is just like me, but with many more skills. You can laugh at that, it was a joke. And I think that she is beginning to accept the fact that I have to do some things on my own. I cannot learn from her example alone. I must live the lesson if I am to learn anything at all that would benefit her, the Nation, and me.

My love and Artemis be with you,

Gabrielle

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Dearest Ephiny,

I am writing this letter because I know that the moment that either Xena or I step onto Amazon soil, we will be hunted. I for my judgement and she for her blood. I am not sure if you can understand what I need to tell you, I am not sure if I understand it myself, but you must listen, and you must consider my words. Just know that I am healthy, if somewhat mentally exhausted, and I still travel with her of my own free will.

When I told you about the events that occurred in Britannia, I did not give you the truth. The situation, as I told you, was bad. But it was far worse than even I understood at the time. Xena had gone to Britannia to oppose Caesar. We traveled with a man by the name of Khraftstar. As was my nature, I trusted him. I trusted the fact that Xena and I would come back the same as usual.

I was terribly wrong on both accounts. I cannot put all the blame on her, however. I should have foreseen it. She has always carried this sort of anxious rage in regards to Caesar. I should have known that she would become preoccupied with helping Bodicceia defeat him. And at the time, I did not realize the danger in which I had placed myself.

Ephiny, that time in Britannia was many times over, worse than what Xena did to me. I do not know how it happened. I only know that I lost my blood innocence. My purity, as Khraftstar explained, was a sacrifice for his god, who I discovered firsthand, was more evil than any Greek god I have ever met.

I do not think that I will ever forget the mind-numbing horror of being violated by the foreign god's evil. I cannot even say or think his name, for fear that he will find me and hurt me all over again. His attack left me with the child about whom I told you.

The only way I know how to describe my pregnancy was freakish and odd. Never having been a mother before, I knew not what to expect. It was certainly not conceiving and giving birth within the span of one month. Add to that the unwanted attentions of the villagers and warriors who wanted to kill me, and the banshees (very strange immortals) who wanted to protect me, I was lost and confused.

The warriors belonged to an order called the Pierced Heart. They swore to protect the world from the prophesied birth of evil, and I am afraid that I beat them all. I named my child Hope, for she was to me, a symbol of the good that could be had out of the nightmare Britannia had been. To this day, I am not sure if I did the right thing. My fear is like a live serpent that coils within my belly and gnaws and gnaws until I feel as though I am about to be consumed.

But at that moment in time, I believed that I was right. The warriors told Xena and me about their legend, that a child will be born of the dark, and that the child would be evil and bring about the death of the world. I could not believe that they were talking about my child. If you could only have seen her then, Ephiny, I believe you would have understood. She was so precious.

Less than a day after her birth, however, things happened so fast, that I'm not even sure if could recall them for you. Xena, suspicious by nature, listened to the tales of the warriors, and when she believed that the prophesy was unfolding, she sought to end the evil, to kill its source. She believed the evil was in my daughter.

I suppose now, looking back and considering recent events, it was possible. But then, I knew only a mother's instinct to protect her child. I ran from her. My best friend, my family, became the enemy. I ran, and when I could no longer run, I used the skills she had taught me, and I tricked her. I lied to her. As I told you, I told her that Hope had died. To save my child, I had told her that I had thrown my daughter off of a cliff.

In reality, I had set her adrift in a basket upon a lazy river, praying to the gods that some nice family would find her and teach her how to be good. How I prayed that she would be good. Obviously, my prayers were not answered.

Do you remember the little girl to whom I was speaking in the merchant's store? That was my daughter. My Hope. My relief at seeing her alive blinded me to the truth of her nature. She knew me so well. She knew what exactly to say to make me believe her. I had thought that Callisto wanted to harm her, so I sent her to be safe with Solon. I thought that I was being a good mother.

I was so wrong. She was working with Callisto. She wanted to destroy all of the children in the village that day. What she accomplished was so much worse. How I wish I could go back to that day and tell Xena the truth of what was going on. But I was so afraid for the little girl I thought to be innocent. Ephiny, I gave my daughter the opportunity to kill Solon. It is because of me that a sweet boy is dead. And what hurts most of all, is that he was Xena's son.

Only a few people knew that truth. She had given Solon to Kaliepus so that her son might grow up to be spared her past. For eleven summers, he was healthy, happy, and relatively safe from his mother's enemies. Callisto, however, was no common adversary. Together, she and Hope killed the one person that meant the most to Xena.

And in turn, because of my lie in Britannia, because of my reluctance to voice the truth later, I finally found the one person who could come between Xena and me. Me. I tried to apologize, but I should have known better, that when Xena is in a pain so great, that she needs time alone. That was why I went back to Amazonia. I knew my fault. I needed to purge myself, as well as give Xena the time she needed.

The fact that she came to me so violently should shock no one. It is the way that she deals with emotional pain, for she knows no other way. Look at what happened when she lost her brother. I suppose I should be grateful that she only attacked me herself and not the whole Nation with an army. Part of me wants to believe that she was justified, that the pain I suffered was nothing compared to what she must have felt as she cradled her son's dead body. My physical wounds healed, even if by some miracle of the gods. The mental ones, like hers for Solon and my betrayal, and mine for my lack of courage to tell her the truth and to protect my daughter, are the ones that bruise a soul for a lifetime.

So, Ephiny, do not blame her for her actions. Those who truly know her would have been surprised at the restraint she showed. Yes, restraint. Only you and I truly suffered at her hands. I have forgiven her, for I understand her reasons. I can only beg your forgiveness that you also, clear her of blame. I know that for an Amazon warrior, forgiveness for such an act of brutality towards your Queen would be unthinkable, but I am asking as a friend, as a sister, that you consider it.

Until then, Ephiny, I am afraid that I cannot return. If I have learned anything from this tragedy, it is that I am miserable without her. I would suffer any Tartarus to be with her. If that means that I must forfeit my caste, then I will. I would gladly give you my mask to spend the rest of my life at her side.

My love and Artemis be with you,

Gabrielle

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Dearest Ephiny,

Once again, I have discovered my own mortality. Do not fear I did not die. I only came close. If it were not for Xena, I surely would have been resting on the other side. And because of it all, the most amazing thing has happened. The unthinkable, the incredible.

I think that I have fallen in love again, Ephiny. I have found someone to whom I could dedicate every word of prose and poetry that I write. I have lost my heart, my soul, to a warrior. I never thought that I, someone who tries to live her life by a code of peace and love, would fall for someone who lives life with a two-foot sword.

I know, quit babbling and give you the details. Would you believe that I have been traveling with the most incredible woman for the past two and a half years? I mean, I have always known how special she was. I have always admired her many skills. I am awed by her daily struggle with the darkness she fights, especially since I have seen that darkness firsthand. But one day in Tripolis, when Greece was threatened with annihilation by a brutal Persian army, I saw a vision of an angel, and she wore black leather.

I have always looked upon Xena's beauty as a god's gift, most likely Aphrodite's, for I cannot tell you how many men and women have fallen under her spell. All she has to do is look at them. A smile will melt any suitor into a mindless puddle upon the floor. And now, I am almost giddy to realize that I can be counted in those numbers. Perhaps I had been too close to her. Perhaps I had been observing her with the eyes of a bard for so long, that I did not see her as the passionate woman she is. But on that day, when she fought off the Persian advance army, I saw her with the eyes of a woman who desired her.

I suppose I must tell you that I was shot with an arrow. A poisoned arrow. Xena wanted to take me to Thessaly to get an antidote, but I argued. At the time, I saw her as putting me above the greater good, and of that, I am truly not worthy. I am only one. Athens is the heart of Greece. She relented and in the process, managed to find the antidote that the Persians carried in the case of an accidental shooting among their own. She is so incredible. She was fluid grace, primal fury, and an unstoppable force. She scared them, I think. She sent them running home. My one, big, bad, beautiful warrior sent the elite of the Persian army packing. I cannot tell you her parting words to them, for I went unconscious. And you know how verbose she is. Perhaps some day, like in fifty years, I will manage to pull them out of her.

The moment that I felt the bitter tang of the medicine upon my lips, I awoke to the most beautiful sight. Exhausted, sweaty, and smiling so warmly, she welcomed me back to the land of the living. For a moment, I had thought that we had both died, but she saved Greece, saved me, and did it all with only a minor sword wound to show for it.

And she was so modest about it. I think that endears her to me even more. So many warriors I have met in my travels have been boastful and proud. But Xena is different. She knows what she can do. Most of Greece knows what she can do. But she never praises herself. I am glad that I have the distinct privilege of doing so for her. The entire known world must be told of the woman with whom I could not help but fall in love.

I believe, Ephiny, since you have assured me that my sisters will no longer hunt Xena, that I shall bring her home to meet the family. As if half of the Nation does not already feel the way I do.

I have not told her. I do not even know if her affections run any deeper than that of family or friend. She is not prone to words nor sentiment, but there are times when I think I see a spark of something in her eyes that is so different from what those baby blues usually convey. I cannot find the words to tell her, and I am shocked to find that I am too shy to even comprehend action as my course of admission. Well, I have contemplated, but that is a scroll of another name, and not appropriate for this letter.

I suppose that I shall play it by ear. I will watch her even closer, now. I must learn to read her mind. I must satisfy myself with loving her from afar, for the time being. Eventually, though, she will come to realize what she means to me, and when that happens, I will hold my breath in agonizing anticipation.

Wish me luck.

With my love and Artemis to guide you,

Gabrielle

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Dearest Ephiny,

So much has happened since my last scroll...I'm not sure where to begin. First off, I do not know if stories have reached the Nation or not, but I almost died...again. From all accounts, everyone thought I was dead. If I could only go back to Britannia and do it all over again, I would. Ever since that ill-fated trip, my life was been like a whirlpool of grief and despair.

I suppose you want me to start at the beginning.

I believe that I told you about my daughter Hope? I thought that she was dead...remember the funeral? Well, it seems that she has more lives than Xena or I combined. I don't know all of what happened. Every time I think that she has died, she comes back again. We had not one, but two run-ins with her.

It all started when Xena and I were asked to find an old friend of mine...Seraphin. Her mother was worried about a group with which she had gotten involved. The group, we discovered, existed for the sole purpose of aiding the rebirth of my daughter. You can imagine the high emotions Xena and I experienced upon discovering this. I think I stumbled around in dazed disbelief and Xena barely had a rein on her rage.

Seraphin turned out to be the Priestess of the Blood that would be sacrificed to give my daughter flesh for her body. I never really took the time to understand all of the details of the religious rites; I was overwhelmed by a nightmare that seemed to never go away. So, in order to save an old friend and the world, Xena and I went up against Hope's cult.

It wasn't long before other gods got involved. Ares and Callisto showed up...my other nightmares. After a few insane twists and turns, Ares ended up betraying his father and allying himself with Dahak. His goals were the usual - power and Xena. Callisto, in a disconcerting quirk of fate, ended up on our team. Her reasons shocked and intrigued me. She wanted Xena to take her life and to send her to an oblivion where her tortured soul would exist no more.

What we all thought to be the final battle took place in one of Dahak's temples. Hope's followers had taken some villagers there to be sacrificed. Their blood was to open the gateway for Dahak's arrival into the world. Xena and I arrived just in time to prevent that course of action.

After we defeated Dahak's priests and freed the villagers, Xena set her sights on Hope. She was determined to avenge Solon's murder and I think perhaps, the pain I had suffered. I couldn't let her do it, though. Ares, for some reason or another, revealed to me that Xena would die if she killed my daughter.

You know how I feel about her Ephiny. I could not let that happen. I could not watch her die again...and I had my own past for which I had to atone. Just when Xena was about to make the killing blow, I threw myself at my daughter. I didn't mean for it to happen the way that it did, but my momentum sent us tumbling into a deep chasm of lava.

I thought that I was going to die. The last thing I remembered was Xena calling my name. I cried for the pain and despair in her voice. I believed that I had lost the chance to finally tell her how much she meant to me.

It's obvious that I didn't die, though. I don't remember much of what really happened. I remember falling and rocks. I remember hearing Hope call out to me. It is all such a blur.

I woke up some time later in a hospice. My body was weak and my mind was exhausted. As I lay on my pallet, though, all I could think of was Xena. I knew that if she were near, she would have been at my side. In the past, she always was when I was hurt. Since I had not heard anything about her death, I assumed that she was still alive. I sent messages to the four corners of Greece, letting her know that I was all right. I thought that she had finally abandoned me.

My despair weighed upon me. I envied Atlas his task.

Thinking that perhaps Xena had tired of me, I decided to return to Poteidaia when I recovered enough to travel. I was scared and lonely. At the time, without Xena, I barely had the will to exist.

Without my staff and my scrolls, I was a simple peasant woman searching for a haven. I had no idea what awaited me. I walked like I always have, towards a future that was uncertain.

Then, like a goddess, she was there.

I was stumbling towards home. Tears clouded my vision, my heart with doubt. She came at me with her sword at the ready and I gasped in awe. She was magnificent as always. When her lips trembled and her eyes widened moistly with recognition, I broke down and cried for the love that overwhelmed me.

Xena and I were reunited. It was the most emotional time of my life. All that I thought dead was reborn.

We held each other and she listened to my story...the first I had told since waking up in the hospice. It was short and lacking dramatic detail, but I think that it affected her more than any other I had told.

Her eyes were so naked with joy and love. I've never seen her so open and vulnerable before. I saw the human side of the woman that I loved. And how my heart ached for her then...until she told me why she had greeted me the way she did.

It seems that I failed again. My daughter was still alive. She was in Poteidaia with my family pretending to me. And to convolute the plot even more, she was sheltering her son, my grandson (Ares had coupled with Hope with the desire to sire a master race that would conquer the world). It seems that my grandson, the Destroyer, was killing ruthlessly and without remorse.

Xena had already faced him once. That's how she discovered Hope's duplicity. Wanting to see things ended, I dug deep to find the energy to argue with my warrior. I wanted to help defeat Hope and the Destroyer. I guess I wasn't up to the task, however, because I ended up taking refuge in my family's barn while Xena left to deal with my mistakes.

You know me, though. I ended up sneaking out, if only to reassure myself that my family was safe. I was reunited with my sister Lila. She left so that she could offer our parents a pretense to come back to our room so that I could explain what was going on.

I was expecting her to return. I ended up confronting my daughter again. I wondered once more what I had done that was so wrong. What did I do to deserve the hell I lived for over a year? What can I do to appease the higher power that seems so bent on making my life miserable?

Hope and I spoke briefly about us. Dahak saved her. She was bitter about my attempts to end her life. We weren't your typical happy family. A howl broke up our little reunion. Hope left to see what the commotion was about. I took the non-traditional route out the window.

I ran to the barn where Xena was fighting the Destroyer. He had her pinned to the wall and was ready to kill her. I did the only thing I could think of...I called to him. He thought I was his mother and he forgot Xena as he approached me. I was afraid, but I stood firm. I had to allow Xena the opportunity to finish it.

And for a moment, Ephiny, I could feel the part of myself that was the Destroyer. My blood flowed through his veins. I heard him call out for his mother and part of me responded to that forlorn cry for love. I felt sorry for a creature whose mother could not love. I was never able to teach my daughter that softer emotion. All she ever knew of me was betrayal and death.

As did her son. As I distracted the Destroyer, Xena attacked him. With one fluid, savage thrust of her sword, she ushered the beast of Ares to his death.

I ran to Xena. I had to assure myself that she was unharmed and to let her know that I was safe.

The Destroyer's howls of rage echoed through the barn and out into the night. I shuddered at their intensity. Then Hope found us. Her cries matched his, although I believe that she was angered more by the fact that Xena and I had thwarted Dahak again.

The Destroyer saw Hope and attacked her. I suppose he thought that she had betrayed him like I betrayed her. They died in each other's arms.

After all that has happened, Ephiny, I feel so lost and confused. I have realized that life moves in cycles of dark, waking moments and glimpses of startling clarity. I feel like I am alone at sea with no land in sight. I don't know how to read the stars and the wind is dead, leaving me lost and adrift.

Xena understands my desolation. She lived that cycle for ten years. She told me that I was the one who pulled her from the darkness. I'm not sure how she can use me as a guide when the path once so simple for me, has become a web of littered trails.

I don't know the answers anymore, Ephiny. I once thought that everything was so black and white, but I have since discovered that everything exists in shades of gray. I don't know how to guide her and I don't want to repeat my past mistakes.

She promised me, though, that together, we would find our way. She said that it doesn't matter if we ever find the answers we seek, but that we do it together. Her words held such hope for our future.

I was helpless against her unspoken fear of losing me again.

Our bond is unexplainable. I only know that I cannot live anymore without her. Now, however, there is no beacon of purity and light. There are only two souls that are desperately seeking the solution to this riddle of life, if there is one at all.

In my parent's barn that night, we committed ourselves to this life together. We declared our love to each other. We made love to seal our union. It was not romantic in the eloquent sense that I had always dreamed, but rather, it was the achingly sweet joining of two people that are lost without each other.

I found my first clue to the riddle...it is love.

What started out as a simple desire to escape the dull village life into which I was born, became a profound journey of discovery about myself. I fell asleep that night, firm in the belief that I would find the answer. Xena recovered part of the wonder that I thought I had lost forever.

I spent some time with my family the next day. They were even more confused than we were. I nearly got into it with my father, by my mother and sister soothed his anxious fears for my safety. They have finally given me their blessings for my travels.

Xena and I left the day after that. My fierce Warrior Princess desired to complete our wandering family of three...she missed her horse.

On our way out of Poteidaia, we stopped in the clearing where we first met. I could not help chuckling for the irony of it all. We had only connected briefly that during that battle against Draco's men. It was but a mere second that our eyes saw the truths in one another. Who would have ever thought that we would travel the path we have thus far? I was a stubborn little girl and she was the haunted ex-warlord. We were total opposites, but after all our pain and joy, we have blended into a medium that is on the whole, acceptable to the both of us.

I must lay my quill to rest now, for Xena has returned from her hunt. My darling warrior has informed me that we will be heading into the swamps, a shortcut she calls it, so that we can make our way back to the Thrace faster.

I hate swamps. I swear...if even one bug ends up in my bedroll, I may just divorce her before our union sees its first week of bliss. I am kidding, of course. Through swamps, bugs, sickness, and hell, I will be at her side. We are as one as we face the prospect of new tomorrows.

My love and Artemis guide you,

Gabrielle

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