Happy Easter!
This story is dedicated to Kim and Michelle (Happy Birthday to you both and many more.)
And especially to my partner and best friend Lou Ann (Happy Anniversary Love)

Xenaís Dreamscape

Emptiness and loneliness and cold, bitter cold, pain and darkness.† Pain so intense, it hurt to do much other than pray for a quick end.† For her though the end would not come quick.† She would suffer at the hands of her enemy.† Her enemy would make sure of that.† She only hoped her soul mate would not follow her into oblivion or wherever.† She had many people who needed her and where she was going, well she didnít know what happened when you died in the spiritual realm.† And, she did not want that for someone who offered so much light and hope to others.† She did not want that for her soul mate.

Gabrielle (materializing in front of her partner): You promised me, you made a promise that even in death you would never leave me.† You promised that over 2000 years ago.† Or did you forget.

Xena (hoarsely): Brie, I canítÖ

Gabrielle (looking at her lover hanging on the cross and the injuries she had suffered at the hands of Alti, and the tears fell down her face like rain at seeing the very center of her existence in so much pain at seeing her lover suffer): Youíre hurt, terribly and I know the pain is excruciating but you have to hold on for me.† Please Iíll get you out of this.

Xena (fighting tears): Brie you know yourself what happens on the cross.† Itís getting harder to breathe.† I canít pull myself up any more.

Gabrielle (looking around the sparse cell): I donít know how or why I got here all I know is Alti or someone put us in here.† I wonít let you go.† (Looking around she found a chair and pulled it closer to her lover, barely giving thought to where it came from) Iím going to help you breathe, remind you of the reasons you should hold on and fight (standing on the chair and moving her mouth to Xenaís.)† I love you and I want you to remember that promise (sealing her lips to Xenaís and breathing gently into her mouth.† The warmth of the kiss touched her soul but she felt the cold in XenaĎs lips felt the short panting breaths and the trembling of her loverís form and continued to slowly breathe for her lover.)

Temple Courtyard

Xena shuddered and opened her eyes.† The mid day sun blaring down on her already weakened body caused her to close her eyes again quickly.† She could hear Alti spewing off something and she tried to focus; tried to pull her self up but her body had given out.† Her injuries were too much.† Then her good eye caught something glinting in the sunlight and she saw for the barest of moments her lover and fought harder to hold on.† She held onto the hope that her soul mate would save her.

Ephiny (drawing in the dirt): We only have one shot at this.† Yakut are you sure.† Sheís more powerful now than the last time we went up against her.
Yakut (nodding): Iím sure.† To save Xena and the fate of the world.

Mel (patting the gun on her hip): Weíre with you.

Gabrielle (closing her eyes): You know what to do.† Remember she uses your mind for attacks.† Fight her there.†
Epinon (nodding): We split up and wait for your signal.

Cyane (pointing at Mel and Janice): You two be careful.† If you get in trouble, get out of the way and wait for one of us.

Mel (nodding): Weíll do our best (squeezing Janiceís hand.)

Janice (pulling Mel back for a moment): You be careful ok.† I wish you would get out of here.

Mel (leaning down and brushing her lips gently): Theyíre part of us, our family and they need our help.† They have always been there for us if we needed them.† Itís our turn now.†
Janice (leaning in for another kiss): I know.† Just donít do anything crazy ok.

Mel (nodding): Keep an eye on GabrielleÖ

Janice (smiling): And you Eve.†

Amarice (twirling her sword): You two ok.

Janice (squeezing Melís hand): Yeah.† Everyone ready?
Amarice (smirking): Oh yeah.† Letís get rid of her once and for all.

Varia (dropping beside Ephiny): By the Gods.† She canít take much more.
Ephiny (agreeing): Thatís what she wants.† For us to rush in and attack her.† We wonít.†

Yakut (standing and walking out to face Alti): ShamanessÖ

Alti (smirking, this was perfect): That I am.

Yakut (concentrating): Hand over XenaÖ

Alti (tapping her chin): Or what?† You know what I want.† Give me the ambrosia or she dies (gesturing with her hand and Xena screamed; more wounds opening and bleeding.)† Sheís dying and I want the ambrosia.
Yakut (holding her hands out in front of her): Never (and moving her hands launched a force ball at Alti.† It hit her in the gut sending her flying into the wall of the temple.)†

Gabrielle (waving her sword): NowÖ

Everyone ran in the direction of the cross and Alti.† Mel skidded to a halt in front of the cross and gulped.† She had never seen such horrible pain inflicted on a person in her life.† Even some of the horrors seen during the war years couldnít compare to the evident agony Xena was in.

Alti (standing): I see youíve learned somethingís over the years bitch.

Yakut (noticing the Amazons moving to get Xena down): Yes, I have.† And weíll stop you.

Alti (noticing Mel helping to get Xena down): Tell me whose life, do you value more (turning and launching a fireball at Mel.† She had no time to react as it hit her and sent her sprawling in the dirt.)† Only time to save one.† So who will it be (taking aim again?)

Janice (running and shoving Amazons out of the way): NoÖ.

Gabrielle (moving closer to the Alti): Fight on our level AltiÖ
Alti (laughing): And not enjoy myself.† I donít think so (closing her eyes) do you remember Germany Dr. Covington (clapping as Janice sank to her knees, blood pouring from wounds opening all along her body.)
Eve (cursing and trying to decide the best course of action, she charged at Alti hoping to distract her enough to get the two mortals out of there): Let them go.

Alti (whirling around): Well hello Eve.† Or should I say LiviaÖ.

Eve (clutching her head fighting the onslaught of memories from so long ago; angrily): Let them go (feeling Gabrielle and Varia move behind her.)† Youíve lost.† (Noticing Cyane moving in from behind.)

Janice (weakly; noticing Mel wasnít moving; grabbing a sword she stood weakly determined to end this): You bitch (staggering; limping towards Alti.)
Yakut (turning): Janice no (throwing her hands up to push Alti back; watching as Alti turned and partially dodged the force of light.† She turned to move, everyone did but it seemed like no one was gaining any round.)
Janice had one thought and one thought only take Alti out for hurting Mel, for hurting Xena or she would die trying. She raised her sword hearing Eve yelling and someone trying to catch up to her.† She kept going aiming for that evil bitchís heart.† Gaining strength and momentum as thoughts of killing the bitch who had hurt Mel.† No one, not even a she demon got away with that.
Varia didnít know which way to turn she knew stopping Janice might be futile and Gabrielle, Eve and Ephiny were already catching up to her.† She turned her attention to the cross and noticed Epinon and Solari running towards it.† She jogged over and unsheathed her sword.† Getting Xena, down was the first priority.††† She saw Cyane moving forward to guard her.† Imagine that a very powerful Queen guarding her.† Well maybe not her but Xena.† And from the looks of things, Xena needed all the help she could get.

Gabrielle felt the nervous clenching in her gut.† She knew what Janiceís intent was and knew what might be the result.† She watched in horror, even as she tried to get to the mortal as Janice raised her sword preparing for the final blow.† Yakut was throwing something from her hands and Ephiny was trying to tackle Alti.† What happened next took her breath away.
Alti felt the mortal approaching, careless of any injuries she might suffer she dodged Yakutís attack; sidestepped Ephinyís lunge and produced a sword meeting Janice face to face and embedding her sword in the mortalís chest just as Janiceís sword plunged into her own and another ball of light hit Alti in the back.† The shammaness screamed knowing it was the end.† The light had overcome the darkness as predicted for thousands of years.

Eve (screaming):No.

Ephiny (rolling to her back): Son of a bachae.† Yakut hit her again (grunting as a body slammed into her and covered her as her world turned sideways and the wind picked up.)

Gabrielle (pushed Eve to the dirt as explosions started going off all around them): Stay down.† Itís her powers or something thatís causing this.
Varia (covering Xenaís prone unconscious form and praying for someone to interfere): Solari whereís the rest of everyone (yelling over the roar of the wind.)
Solari (yelling around the roaring wind): Behind us.† Rayne and Vandel are holding their positions as ordered.† I canít see a dam thing other wise.
Varia (shifting, she said a silent prayer for her lover): And MelÖ

Epinon (softly): Still breathing.† But sheís hurt bad.

Cyane (shielding her eyes): DammitÖ.

The wind picked up speed and lighting flashed.† Amarice protected her Queen the best she could; she could feel the dark energy splitting and churning causing a malevolent storm on the spot.† Alti was gone but at what cost and for how long.

Ephiny (grunting; trying to assess the situation): Amarice, can you see where everyone is.

Amarice (softly) Not yet my Queen.†
Ephiny (closing her eyes, she could feel the air settling): Itís almost over.†
Gabrielle (rolling to her back): Where is everyone (shielding her eyes from the debris?)
Eve (pushing her back down): Stay down mom.† Itís almost over.

And like it came, the wind died down and everything settled.† The only thing anyone could hear was the beating of their own heart.† Then pounding feet as everyone moved to see what had happened.

Gabrielle (kneeling beside Janice): Sheís (turning her head) get a litter made.†

Cyane (walking over and placing her hand on Gabrielleís shoulder): Xenaís with Varia and Epinon and Solari.† Rayne is standing guard.† I instructed Vandel and Trinity to get the med kits.†
Ephiny (spitting dirt out of her mouth): And MelÖ

Cyane (looking at the woman who resembled Queen Gabrielle): That was a brave thing she did.

Eve (pressing a piece of cloth to the wound): What she did onlyÖ

Amarice (softly): Another Amazon would do.† I remember a story like that from a long time ago.
Rayne (running over): Gabrielle its XenaÖ
Gabrielle was up and running before anyone could reach a hand out to her.† She dropped to her knees in the dirt not sure, if she should pull her soul mate into her arms for fear of hurting her more.

Varia (backing up; indicating to everyone else to give them some space; noticing Epinon carrying Mel over to Janice): By the Gods.† No (angrily.)

Eve (moving behind her and placing a tentative hand on her arm): Here let me take a look at you.

Varia (gently): No.† Itís not right.

Eve (pulling Varia to her; despite her struggling): Itíll be ok baby.† (Praying silently for some miracle or for someone to intervene.)

Elysian Fields

Two of the Guides watched the scrying bowl and the events taking place.† They knew what question and answers would be demanded.† And knew the rules and how they would apply to this situation.†

The First Guide (nodding at the bowl): This calls for some consideration.

Aphrodite (storming in): How could you?† You knew what would happen or could have happened yet you did nothing.† Some guides you are.† You let them suffer after all they have done through the centuries.

The Second Guide (glancing up): The mortal was not fated to die.† But it is her will alone that will make the decision.

Aphrodite (rolling her eyes): Puuhleease.† I know you have the power to restore life when it suits you.† You saved Variaís soul once.† You can do the same for Xena and Janice.

First Guide (pausing in thought): There is a way.†

Aphrodite (angrily): I donít care what you have to do fix this.† We have three pairs of soul mates suffering.† It has to end.† They stopped Alti they deserve a second chance.†

Second Guide (softly): Bring them here.

Aphrodite (rolling up her sleeves): No (defiantly) you get out there and fix this. Iíll take care of Xena (pointing her finger at them) and you better restore the other little one to life or youíll have me to contend with (vanishing in red sparkles.).

Temple Courtyard

Mel (fighting tears; cradling her partnerĎs body in her arms; oblivious to the blood staining her clothes and hands): You crazy woman.† You canít leave me.† You promised (taking a shuddering breath.)
Cyane (softly): She did what any Amazon would do for another.

Mel (angrily): And thatís cold comfort to what the rest of my life will be like without her.† You know nothing of us.† We helped you and at what cost.

Ephiny (kneeling next to her): We can give you a choice.† We can help you through this.

Mel (angrily): No leave me alone.† Iím taking her home.† Iíll bury her with my family.† She wanted that.† Find me a way home now (growling.)
Gabrielle (wiping Xenaís face gently; there wasnít any inch of skin that was bruised; cut; or otherwise): Baby hold on (she fought her own tears and anger as she cared for her lover.)

Varia (paced restlessly; listening; they had to do something; she looked at her lover helping Gabrielle with Xena): By the Gods what a mess.

Aphrodite (materializing): Well then, I guess its good I came.† Altiís gone for good this time.† At least I think so.† And Janice wasnít fated to die this dayÖ

Varia (angrily): And XenaÖ

Aphrodite (softly): Sheíll live.† She has to fight but sheíll live.† Iíll help everyone get homeÖ

Varia (softly): The Elysian Fields, The Amazon land of the dead orÖ.

Aphrodite (smiling): No.† South Carolina.† Itíll be like a vacation for you.†

Several murmurs of protest and several agreements greeted her statement.† She knew not everyone would want to go to South Caroline.† Varia watched as the blonde Goddess walked towards Mel.

Mel (looking up; she had never seen such radiant beauty; had never felt such raw sexuality): And just who are you?
Aphrodite (gasping at the remarkable resemblance between this mortal and the Warrior Princess): A close friend.† Here give me your hand and close your eyes.† Itís been a while since I did this but I think I remember how (she held Melís hand and concentrated on her injuries, remember the words her sister Athena had taught her so long ago.† A light covered Melís body and suddenly the wounds disappeared.)† There all better.

Mel (standing stiffly; she felt better than she had in a while): Thank you.† Can you help Janice and Xena?
Aphrodite (shaking her head): I canít.† Iím sorry my powers arenít strong enough to restore life.

Mel (crying harder; cradling the body of her lover): You mean (choking) sheís gone and thereís nothing you can do?

Aphrodite (softly): No.† Iím sorryÖ

Gabrielle (kissing Xena softly): Just relax.† Donít try to move.† Aphrodite thank you.† Can you get usÖ?

Aphrodite (kneeling down and squeezing Gabrielleís shoulder): Iíll get you to South Carolina.† Hey, Warrior Babe youíve got to stop scaring my favorite little one here.

Xena (trying to smile; she appreciated Aphroditeís attempt at humor knowing it was the only way the Goddess could deal with as an ugly situation as this): Iím trying.† Everyone else (she started coughing and clutched her ribs.† She felt Gabrielleís hand stroking her face then felt someone elseís hands on her arms.)
Ephiny (softly): Easy there Princess.† You need rest.

A light flashed and hooded figure stepped forward.

Guide (ominously): Actually, youíre all entitled to one.† Youíve saved the world today.† The mortal was not fated to die (kneeling next to Janice to find a sword at her throat; she feared no one but this one was a descendant of Xena): Iím going to help your friend.†

Mel (angrily): Youíre going to help her.† How? Sheís goneÖ.
Eve (trying to comfort her and pulled the sword gently out of her hands): Mel please.† She will help us.† You have to just back up a little ok.† Trust me.

Mel (looking into bluish green eyes): Please bring her back (choking back a sob.)
Guide (placing her hand over Janiceís heart): She has a strong lifeline.† It was severed prematurely (running her hands over Janiceís body feeling the injuries repair themselves; the wounds heal and finallyÖ.)
Janice (coughing): What the (and felt another pair of hands holding her; caressing her.)
Mel (crying): Thank God.† BabyÖ

Ephiny (smiling): Thank you.† What about Xena?
Guide (standing stiffly): I can do no more then Iíve done.† Iíve interfered enough as it is.

Eve (angrily): You mean to tell me she has to heal on her own.

Aphrodite (stepping forward): Iíll helpÖ

Guide (holding his hand up): No.† You know the rules.†

Aphrodite (angrily): And Iím sick of them.† This is my family.† Iíll heal her if I want.

Guide (protesting): We have interfered enough.† Anymore and you could upsetÖ

Aphrodite (stepping forward): Upset this (reaching out to knock some sense into her; she felt a strong hand encase hers) ouch.† Hey!
Solari (softly): As much as I would like this to just disappear, you know yourself Xenaís a fast healer.† She brought Janice back and if she canít heal Xena then weíll all do our best to make sure she does just that (looking around to see everyone in agreement with her.)†

Gabrielle (understanding what the rules were; understanding the game but hating it at the same time): Just get us out of her so we can get down to that.

Guide (softly): Aphrodite will take you home.† For now I must go.† Time is short.

Mel (softly): Thank you.† (The guide nodded and vanished.)

Inside the Temple

Epinon (hissing through clenched teeth): Just donít touch anything else.† Get those scrolls and get out of here.† This place is giving me the creeps.

Amarice (smirking): Oh my big bad Warrior afraid of the darkÖ

Epinon (rolling her eyes): Keep it up and youíll see what this big bad Warrior can do to your insolent (a hand clamped over her mouth.)
Amarice (shaking her head): Quiet.† Iím trying to recall all the directions Ephiny and Gabrielle gave me.† So we can get the Hades out of here.

Rayne (moving away from the wall): Will you hurry it up already.† I want to get home like today not tomorrow.

Epinon (nodding in agreement): Didnít they say they were in an alcove or something somewhere.

Cyane (walking in): Yes they did.† Guarded by water through stone.† Come on Aphrodite wants to know whoís going to South Carolina and whoís going home.

Amarice (excitedly): Iím going and so is Epinon.

Epinon (throwing her hands up): Gee, thanks love.

Cyane (snickering): Rayne (she shook her head) and neither is Trin or Vandel.† Ephiny and Solari are going though. †Good between the four of youÖ

Amarice (pushing a stone back): Youíre not going, but why?† (Pumping her fist in the air) I found them.† Dam thatís one big box.

Cyane (moving to her side): Careful with that.† Itís over two thousand years old.

Epinon (rubbing her hands together): Rayne give me a hand with this (they both reached in to grab the chest but Cyane grabbed her arm.)† Hey what theÖ

Cyane (taking a deep breath): Just be careful please.† Some of those arenít the best picture of the Amazon Nation but some of them areÖ.

Amarice (nodding): Our history and customs.†

Rayne (shrugging): We got it (grabbing another small box and smiling.).†

Temple Courtyard

Aphrodite (angrily): I canít believe this.† Of all theÖ

Gabrielle (tying off a bandage): Itís all right.† Itís happened before and itíll happen again.

Janice (moving stiffly over to her): You mean to tell me that well whoever that was refused to heal Xena before.

Ephiny (smirking): Itís because Xena does not always follow the rules (wincing as Gabrielle glared at her.)† Sorry but it always seems like thatís the case.† You know your partner better then anyone Brie.† Sheís as hard headed as they come.

Gabrielle (brushing back her loverís locks): I know.† But they donít have to pull this bullshit.
Mel (looking around): So how many of you are going home with us.
Gabrielle (glancing around): I know Eve and Varia will and so will Ephiny and Solari.† Not sure about the rest of everyone.† Speaking of Solari where is sheÖ
Ephiny (offering Gabrielle the waterskiing): Taking a look around.† You know her.† Always prowling, always getting into something (yelping as she was picked up and squeezed.)† Do you have to do that?
Solari (setting her down gently): Of course.† Otherwise, you would wonder what was wrong with me.

Amarice (running out): We got them.† We can go now.† (Solari groaned and rubbed her face with her hand.)† What?
Ephiny (smacking her lover playfully): Be nice.

Solari (grumbling): Do you remember what happened the last time?
Ephiny (chuckling; coughing to cover it up; she remembered all right; Amarice in another time and another visit had almost gotten a whole group of Amazons arrested all because she didnít understand the concept of not going into certain places after certain hours): Donít remind me.† It took me forever to get the smell out.† Thank you.† But never mind she didnít know better.

Solari (tapping her chin in thought): Right.† You keep telling yourself that.† I donít believe it.

Cyane (smirking): Youíre just antsy look at it this way itíll be a learning experience.

Solari (turning around): And then why arenít you coming.

Cyane (smirking): Because I promised my baby a week on Lesbos after this.

Ephiny (leaning against Solari): You havenít taken me to Lesbos in a while love (leaning up and nipping her earlobe.)
Gabrielle (standing and walking over to Mel and Janice): You two ok.

Mel (looking up at her): Yeah.† Thank you.† You got us the scrolls thatísÖ

Gabrielle (kneeling down): Itís what you came here for.† And itís the least we can do for you.† I just ask you be respectful of somethingís.†

Varia (protesting): But loveÖ.

Eve (softly): Please for me.† Itíll be a couple of weeks at the most and we can see some interesting things while weíre there.

Varia (pinching the bridge of her nose): All right but she starts just once so help me (mmmph as soft lips silenced her protests.)† Youíre a cheater you know that donít you.† You think you can just bat your baby blues and give me a kissÖ

Eve (caressing her cheek): Yep.† Works like a charm.

Amarice (hugging her lover tightly): Thank you Poni.† You wonít regret this.

Epinon (picking her up until they were nose to nose): I better not (kissing her softly.)† Just remember things are different and most people arenít likely to excuse your behavior ok.

Amarice (deepening the kiss): Iíll be good.
Varia (groaning): This I want to see (bending over as Eve backhanded her in the stomach.)† What?
Eve (softly): Behave.

Aphrodite (rolling up her sleeves): Ok.† Letís get going here.† All this heat and humidity isnít doing anything for my hair or makeup and I need a manicure again.† Mel I need you to think of your home and the rest of you get over here.† I would hate to leave someone behind.† (She watched as the rest of the group said their goodbyes then smiled as everyone else took someoneís hand.† The link must not be broken or they could end up anywhere.)† And get that chest more secure.† I would hate to have to come back for it. (Watching as Ephiny and Solari placed their feet on it and then closing her eyes and following Melís instructions took them to South Carolina.)

South Carolina

When the group of Amazons and mortals arrived their gear was already there and the scrolls were placed in the large library for the time being.† Mel showed them each to their rooms while Janice called a friend of theirs who was a highly respected Dr. and would keep her mouth shut about the origin of Xenaís injuries.†

Xena (protesting as Epinon and Gabrielle got her settled in bed): Iím fine (coughing and clutching her ribs.)
Epinon (stepping back as Gabrielle moved to hold Xena): You need rest my friend.† And donít give me that look either (pointing her finger at her.)
Gabrielle (caressing Xenaís cheek): Baby you heard her.† Rest.†

Xena (hoarsely): I just donít want to be cooped up all day.†

Gabrielle (understanding; Xena got bored so easily): Donít worry.† Youíll have plenty of company.† Ephiny and I are going to help Mel and Janice with the scrolls.† Eve, Varia, Solari, Epinon, and Amarice will be in to keep you occupied.

Xena (closing her eyes): They better.† Or Iíll be out of this bed and looking for you.

Epinon (rolling her eyes): Iím sure we can find some restraints.

Xena (feeling sleep coming; she hated feeling this weak and exhausted): Try it featherhead.

Epinon (taunting): You canít do a dam thing about it Warrior Princess.

Gabrielle (tucking the blankets around Xenaís shoulders): Behave.† Ok.† The Dr. will be here tomorrow to look at you.† And Iíll be in to look in on you every chance I get ok.† I need you to get better love.

Xena (softly): Iíll try.

Gabrielle (leaning down and whispering in Xenaís ear): You get better my Champion and do as the Dr. says and Iíll reward you.

Xena (perking up at that): Iíll try Brie I promise.

Epinon (snorting): Little Queen has you wrapped around her little finger.

Gabrielle (chuckling; that much was true; but she too was wrapped around Xenaís little finger): Rest now (standing and looking at her loverís face; not one inch wasnít bruised or cut and she grimaced knowing the rest of the strong lithe body looked the same.)† Iíll be back in a little while.† Ok.

Epinon (opening the door for her Queen): Iíll come by and entertain you later.

Mel (pointing at the different buildings around the sprawling estate): Over there well those are whatís left of some old slave quarters and that (pointing to a smaller shed) is a storage shed of sorts.† HavenĎt really gotten around to cleaning it out.

Ephiny (looking around): How long has your family been here?
Mel (thinking): A very long time.† Some of the original papers are in my fatherís office.† I never really looked into it.†
Janice (puffing on a cigar): You should love.† I know your dadís lawyer made sure everything was in place to protect you but thereís probably some good history as well.

Solari (admiring the beautiful landscape; the lush green gardens): Itís pretty though.† Sort of like our home in the fields.

Amarice (running out): Hey you have to check this out.† Thereís this box that makes sound when you press a button.

Mel (laughing): That would be a radio.† You can hear news and music.

Ephiny (excitedly): Iíve heard of something like that.† It must be so nice at night sitting around and having something pretty to listen to.

Epinon (walking out): Xenaís settled in and Gabrielleís taking a look around.

Janice (curiously): I wonder where Varia and Eve went.

Mel (smiling; knowingly): Oh theyíre fine.† The last I saw them they were in their room talking.
Ephiny (biting her lip): It runs in the family.

Amarice (understanding): Does it ever?
Janice (wondering what was going on): What?† What did I miss?
Solari (wrapping her arm around Ephinyís shoulders): Mel would you mindÖ
Mel (shaking her head): No.† My home is yours.† Feel free to look around and get comfortable.† Youíre all practically family.

Epinon (pulling Amarice to her): Thank you for the hospitality.† But we plan on helping anyway we can.†

Janice (leaning up and kissing Melís cheek): Thank you but it wonít be necessary.† Iím going to take a shower love.†
Mel (nodding): Sure Iíll be up in a minute.† If you two go down by that stand of trees thereís a small creek running through it.† Itís real pretty.

Solari (smirking): Thanks.

Epinon (pulling Amarice with her): A shower sounds good.† Come on trouble.

Amarice (jumping on her loverís back): I am not trouble.

Epinon (shaking her head): Yes you are.†

Eve (panting): Baby slow down please.† I know youíre oh my yesÖ
Varia (nipping her partnerís inner thigh then moving her tongue and mouth back to the delicious nectar that was her lover): I need you.†

Eve (clutching a handful of her loverís hair): I need you yes babyÖ

Varia continued her delicious assault on her lover.† Reveling in the sensations she felt from her love and the moans and screams as well.

Gabrielle flipped through the different cookbooks and looked at all the different gadgets and things needed to make a meal.† She missed that sometimes.† Sitting out under the stars by the campfire preparing dinner.† Most of the times meals were taken in the communal dining hall or some other place surrounded by their families and their friends.† She heard footsteps and looked up as Mel came walking in the kitchen.

Mel (smiling): Hi.† Howís Xena?
Gabrielle (leaning against the counter): Sheís resting.† I appreciate you calling your friend to have her looked at.

Mel (moving closer to her): Did she talk about what happened to her?
Gabrielle (shaking her head; she had put some pieces together but didnít have all of them): No.† Iíve guessed some from her injuries but I donít know all of what that bitch did to her while she was in her custody.† Thank you for the hospitality.†

Mel (squeezing her shoulder): You saved Janice.† I can never repay you for that (seeing Gabrielle about to say something) I know but I still canĎt thank you enough.

Gabrielle (nodding in understanding): Mel I understand that pain and I couldnĎt stand the thought of you going through it.† ThatĎs why Aphrodite showed up she knows my heart and she understands.† And it shouldnít have happened.† I didnít want you or her to get in the middle of things.† But she did.† By the way how is the little spitfire doing (smirking?)
Mel (laughing): Iím sure you can imagine.† Sheís fine, cussing and smoking.† I think she went to shower.
Gabrielle (teasing): Well then why donít you go join her.† Iím sure she would appreciate it.

Mel (blushing): You would be taking a shower with Xena then as well if she werenít injured (winking.)
Gabrielle (licking her lips): Oh yeah (thinking of all the ways they could work off the effects of the battle.† Shaking her head quickly to clear her thoughts.)

Mel (patting her arm): Thank you.† I think I will go join her, and then weíll figure out what to do for dinner (walking out of the kitchen.)

Gabrielle smiled and thought maybe a shower would do her some good as well.† But first to go find Eve and Varia.† Although she pretty much had figured out where they were and what they were doing.

Eve (moaning as the warm water pounded the tight muscles in her back): That feels so good.† Baby you coming in or are you going to lounge out there all day.
Varia (pulling back the shower curtain): I just needed a moment love.† You know to get my thoughts together.

Eve (wrapping her arms around her loverís strong shoulders): You ok.† (Varia nodded) you know Iím here hey um (as she picked up effortlessly and held in strong arms.† She wrapped her legs around her partnerís waist.)† Now this is nice although (moaning as soft lips seized hers.)† Baby maybe we should oh God Varia (as her lover slid two fingers inside her and began slipping them in and out slowly.)

Varia (pressing Eve against the wall): I canít get enough of you (trailing kisses up and down her throat.)
Eve tilted her head back giving her lover better access.† Thanking God once again for bringing them together.)

Solari stroked her loverís face gently.† Listening to her breathing and pulling her closer.†

Ephiny (taking a deep breath): Dam baby.† I love you (softly.)
Solari (kissing her softly): And I you.† Itís pretty here isnít it?
Ephiny (sitting up and straddling her partnerís lap): Oh yeah makes me think of home though (nipping her ear and sliding her hands lower.)
Solari (groaning at the sensual onslaught): Love (and found herself on her back with her Queen straddling her hips and rocking gently, sensually.)† Youíre going to drive me nuts (clutching at her partnerís hair as her nipples were sucked.)
Ephiny (looking up from her delicious feast): Good.† Thatís my plan warrior.† (Teasing the buds with her teeth and playful bats of her tongue) the question is will you surrender to your Queen or will you (moving her hand lower) resist.
Solari (squeezing her eyes shut as Ephiny teased her already swollen clit): I surrender.† Oh Goddess I surrender.
Ephiny (smirking and trailing kisses down her partnerís torso): Good Warrior.† Time for your reward (kissing her inner thighs and then diving into the sweet ambrosia with feral intensity.† Smiling as her partner screamed and writhed under her calling her name.)

Amarice (crying against Epinonís shoulder): Oh my Gods.† Dam PoniÖ.
Epinon (stroking her back): I love you little one and Iím glad I could bring you such pleasure.

Amarice (softly): I canít believe even after all this time someone like youÖ
Epinon (kissing her softly): Shh little one.† Just rest Iím here.† (She knew what Amarice met.† They had been over it enough times in the past couple of thousand years.† When Amarice had entered the Land of the Dead she barely paid the girl any thought.† She was mouthy; sarcastic and refused to listen.† Melosa, Marga and Cyane had asked her to help the girl better herself at being an Amazon.† She groaned and agreed reluctantly.† At first she wanted to strangle her.† Even in the Land of the Dead she seemed to get in more than her fair share of trouble.† But eventually she started to listen and they formed a close bond.† Then one night during a festival of some sort Amarice had asked her to dance.† She remembered being nervous and laughing at the thought.† Here she was one of the toughest Amazons and she was nervous.† Well they danced and over time their friendship evolved intimately.† And she remembered when she asked Melosa for her blessing on her union and how happy the Queen was and how happy Amarice had been.† Now even after all these years Amarice still couldnít keep out of trouble but she had Epinonís heart.† A heart she thought she never had until this little imp came in and grabbed it.)

Amarice (shifting): What you thinking about?
Epinon (smiling): Just remembering how much trouble you can get into and the first time we danced.

Amarice (nuzzling her neck): And you were so sweet and patient.† I love you.
Epinon (pulling her on top of her and wrapping her arms around her tightly): I love you.† What do you suppose everyone else is up to?
Amarice (kissing her collarbone): Same thing as you and I were (moving her mouth lower.)† And plan on doing until someone comes looking for us (feeling strong arms pull her back up.)† What?
Epinon (softly): Together baby.† I want us to come together.†

Amarice (smiling): Then love me my big strong Warrior.

Gabrielle had given up on talking to anyone judging by the fact no one had been seen.† She went to her and Xenaís room and nearly fell backwards.† Xena wasnít in bed.† No of course not.† She was moving around well attempting to with her injuries and grabbing for any piece of furniture she could reach.† She had removed her shirt as well and she could see the strain her lover was in just for moving.

Gabrielle (trying not to yell): Just what are you doing out of bed?† And why didnít you call for me?
Xena (sheepishly): Canít sleep.† Got uncomfortable lying still for so long.† And I donít think you could hear me with the zoo in this house.

Gabrielle (shaking her head): Zoo oh you meanÖ

Xena (nodding; she felt like shit but she wouldnít tell anyone that well maybe Brie if she could get the room to stop spinning): Can you point me to the nearest shrub.

Gabrielle (moving beside her partner): They have whatís called bathrooms as well Warrior and after this back to bed.† And why is your shirt off (not minding the view in the least.)

Xena (leaning on her partner): It was irritating my wounds (shaking her head to clear it.)† Brie I canít sleep.† Iím uncomfortable (stopping as Gabrielle opened the door for her.)† This connects to Eve and Variaís room right.

Gabrielle (listening): Yes.† All seems quiet.†
Xena (looking around and squashing the thought; moving her head was too much trouble): Um BrieÖ
Gabrielle (smirking): They are so messy.† (Pointing to the armor and clothes on the floor.)† Iím sure Eve picked those habits up from you (looking at her lover who in the light was as white as a sheet and sweating) here let me help you.

Xena (shaking her head): Iíve got it.† Just stay close.

Gabrielle (stood by while Xena took care of her business; getting her back up proved to be rather difficult): Baby just nice and slow ok.

Xena (weakly): Maybe you better get one of the girls.†

Gabrielle (worried): XenaÖ

Xena (closing her eyes): Brie (forcing her muscles to co-operate and standing stiffly and almost falling but grabbed the sink at the last minute.)

Gabrielle (steadying her lover): Iím going to get Eve or Varia to help me put you back to bed.
Varia (pushing the door open hesitantly): I thought oh my Goddess.† Mom (reaching out and placing her hands on Xenaís shoulders; hearing the sharp intake of breath.)† Ok letís get you back to bed.† (Seeing Xena about to protest) mother you look like shit.† You need to be lying down and let me guess the shirt irritated your wounds.

Gabrielle (rolling her eyes at the sheet wrapped around Variaís body): Something like that.† You two and clothing.† I swear (Varia blushed) oh stop that.† Between the two of you and your injuries over the years I give up with the clothing thing.† After you help me get Xena back in bed you can clean this mess up.†

Varia (gingerly wrapping her arms around Xenaís waist): I will.† Youíre hurting pretty bad huh mother.
Xena (grimacing with every step): Yeah.

Varia (comforting): Weíre going to help you get back on your feet (guiding her across the room slowly.)†
Gabrielle (thanking her silently): You need to rest.† Iíll tell the zookeepers to keep the racket down to a dull roar (glancing at Varia.)

Varia (blushing and helping Xena lie down; she felt the iron grip on her arm and waited): Easy.† Just take it easy mother.†

Gabrielle (stroking her loverís face): Hon just breathe.

Xena (fighting the pain and weakness): Itís ok.
Varia (shaking her head): You need to stay in bed.† Ok (smiling as her arm was released.)† As soon as we get ourselves together.† Weíll come, keep you company.

Xena (shaking her head and regretting the decision immediately): No.† Iím fine.† You two enjoy yourselves.

Gabrielle (biting her lip in frustration): Xena just relax.† Weíll take care of you.† You just concentrate on getting better.† Ok (leaning forward and kissing her softly on the lips.)

Varia squeezed Xenaís arm and excused herself.† She had better go wake Eve before Gabrielle did.† That was trait they inherited they could fall asleep anytime, anywhere, and still be hard to get up.† Walking over to the bed she crawled over to her partner and began placing kisses up and down whatever exposed skin she could.

Eve (grumbling): Give me another hour.
Varia (softly): Canít.† Mom wants to talk to us.† Your mother isnít doing so hot.

Eve (rolling on her back): I know.† Here let me get up and get decent.† Oh shit (realizing what her mother must have heard.)† DamÖ
Varia (smirking): Itís ok.† Itís not like we havenít heard them over the centuries and frankly I can do without that conversation.

Eve (snickering and pulling on a clean shirt): You better put something on more than a sheet before mom gets in here.
Varia (looking around for something to wear): She already talked to me about my state of dress.

Eve (smirking): Or rather lack of.† (Tossing her a shirt) here.

Varia (grabbing the shirt): Iím working on it.

Gabrielle (walking in; she looked like she had been crying): Xenaís asleep.† She started dozing then started hallucinating.

Eve (pulling her mom in for a hug): Sheíll be ok. †Did she say what happened?
Gabrielle (nodding): Some of it.† It tore me apart knowing that Alti did the things she did.† I donít know all of it but some of it, itís just terrible.

Eve (softly): Weíll get through this.† I promise you.† Weíll do what ever we can.

Ephiny (looking around the kitchen): Iíve had more experience in this area then you have so you just sit right there.

Solari (cutting up the carrots): You know I was wonderingÖ.

Ephiny (whirling): You just keep that thought to yourself love.† Weíre still missing a few people.† Although I canít imagine why (smirking.)

Mel (slapping her partnerís ass): What did you say?
Janice (moaning and writing under her partnerís attentions): I said it wonít happen again.† God Mel please babyÖ

Mel (teasing her further): No. No.† Now you donít sound very sincere love.† You sound like you just want relief and will do just about anything to get it (pumping her hips for emphasis.)
Janice (pleading): God no.† Baby Iím telling you the truth.† I will never do anything like that again just oh God (screaming and crying as Mel finally gave her the rhythm and movement she need to release.)† Just like that.†† PleaseÖ.
Mel (smiling and pumping her hips faster): Poor baby.† So frustrated, so tense.† You need this, you need me.
Janice (pleading and clutching the sheets): Yes always just like that.

Amarice (kissing Epinon softly then getting out of bed): Poor baby.† I need a shower thenÖ.
Epinon (stirring): You better keep out of trouble little one.

Amarice (turning around): Hi love (licking her lips as Epinon sat up.)† You want to take a shower with me.

Epinon (smiling): Yeah then I think we have to go and be social for a bit.† I want to check in on Xena as well.† (Hearing a knock at their door) get something on (grabbing the sheet and standing to open the door.)
Solari (leaning against the doorjamb): Hey.† Sorry but Eph wants you two downstairs.† Something about cooking and all that.

Aphrodite (materializing): Now why are you three doing things the old-fashioned way?† I can take care of this (snapping her fingers and producing a feast.)
Gabrielle (wide eyed): Thanks.† UmÖ

Aphrodite (embracing Gabrielle): Iím sorry little one.† Those dam guides have more rules then wellÖ

Ephiny (checking out the food): Yeah we noticed.†
Gabrielle (shaking her head): So Xena suffers because of some dammed rules.

Aphrodite (pleading): Gabrielle (looking up as Epinon, Amarice, Eve and Varia came walking in.)† Hi.

Eve (leaning against the counter): Hi.† MomÖ

Gabrielle (slamming her hands on the countertop): Donít Gabrielle me.† I donít want to hear anymore (and took off out the backdoor.)
Mel (walking in): Whatís wrong?
Aphrodite (softly): The little one is upsetÖ

Varia (agreeing): And rightfully so.
Eve (taking a deep breath): Itís not sheís upset with you.†
Ephiny (leaning against the counter): None of us are.† Itís just Xenaís pretty bad off and you could have helped so could that dam guide.† But because of some rules and petty bullshit her Champion and soul mate lay in that bed upstairs suffering.
Solari (rubbing Ephinyís back): Amarice follow Gabrielle.† Keep an eye on her (pulling her lover against her.)† Aphrodite like Eph said none us blame you.† Itís just hard watching someone hurt knowing something could have been done but wasnít.

Aphrodite (softly; tears welling up in her eyes): Iím sorry.

Eve (reaching out to the Goddess): Donít cry.† Itíll be ok.† Iím going after my mom.† Varia can you please check on mother (following Amarice out the door.)
Epinon (following Varia): Iíll go with you.†

Mel (sighing): I donít know what theyíre talking about and I donít even know you. I do know youíre the Goddess of Love and Desire (Aphrodite smiled.) And youíre close to Xena and Gabrielle especially.†† (Looking at all the food) thank you for dinner.† And thank you for helping Janice and I.†

Aphrodite (softly): Youíre welcome.† Iíll be back later on.† Just keep an eye on them for me (and vanished.)
Mel (looking at Solari and Ephiny): I didnít know Goddessí cried.† Well not that Iíve ever met one in person that is.

Ephiny (softly): She does.† Sheís very close to Gabrielle.† Sheís been a good friend to all of us.

Mel (pulling plates out of the cupboard): I can see that.† So how did they meet?
Solari (chuckling): Thatís a real funny story.† Dam it all started (and Solari proceeded to tell Mel about the time they met up with the Goddess and Gabrielleís enchanted scroll.)

Janice (puffing on her cigar): Are you sure youíre supposed to be up (feeling Xenaís weight more and more on her with each step.)

Xena (grimacing): Look I need a bath.† I need to get some of this gunk off me and I canít stand laying still (softening her tone.)
Janice (softly): Well when Mel beats my ass and Gabrielle beats yoursÖ

Xena (nearly collapsing but catching herself): Mel wonít beat your assÖ

Epinon (opening the door): Cause Gabrielle will beat both of yours first.† Xena by Artemisís girdle you look like shit.† And what are you doing out of bed.

Varia (shaking her head): Probably wants a bath, not that I blame her.† Come on Poni letís get her in the tub.

Epinon (moving to Xenaís other side): All right you stubborn mule.† Dam weíre all in hot water up here arenít we.

Janice (agreeing): You could say that again (still feeling the soreness of her bum from Melís earlier attempts at making her see reason.† Not that she minded one bit.)

Amarice (leaning against a tree): My Queen.
Gabrielle (turning and smiling through her tears): Amarice I told youÖ

Amarice (softly): Got you to smile didnít it?

Gabrielle (facing her): Yeah.† It just hurts.† Seeing her like that.
Amarice (understanding): I know.† They act so tough and stoic but they carry so much inside.†

Eve (walking out): Tell me about it.† Mom, mother will be alright.† You know how tough she is (seeing her mom about to protest) I know but she will be ok.† Itís just hard to see her hurting.† I can understand completely.

Gabrielle (wrapping her arm around Eveís shoulders then Amarice): Come on.† I know Mel has dinner all set so letís go get something to eat and relax.†
Amarice (softly): Relax.† Right with this bunch.

Eve (protesting playfully): It can happen.† Besides two of the biggest troublemakers are upstairs oh shit (a thought dawning on her?)
Gabrielle (nodding): You said a mouthful Eve.

Amarice (laughing): Why is it whenever they get together they always manage to get in trouble?

Eve (laughing): Donít go there.† You donít want to know the answer.
Mel (wiping her eyes; she hadnít laughed this hard in a long time): No way.† You mean to tell me that, that little spitfire out there argued with Xena then proceeded to dump her in the mud.

Ephiny (nodding): Yep only Gabrielle had ever succeeded doing that up until then.† Once Amarice had her down the look on her face and Xenaís.

Solari (chuckling): I donít know whether Amarice wanted to run or pass out.† I swear you could hear a feather drop among all that.

Gabrielle (walking in): Talking about my wife again I see.

Ephiny (smirking): You know it.† (Hugging her) you ok.

Gabrielle (squeezing her tightly): Yeah thanks.† (Looking around we seem to be missing someone or rather a bunch of some oneís.

Solari (sheepishly): Theyíre upstairs visiting XenaÖ

Eve, Amarice and Gabrielle shared the same look of oh shit.

Varia (gently drying Xenaís hair): You know Gabrielle is going to strangle us both and Eve wellÖ.

Epinon (rifling through the clothes): Dam girl I donít know what to give you to wear.

Xena (weakly; the bath had tired her out but she didnít feel so dam grimy): Anything loose that will be soft against the skin.

Varia (gently patting the wounds on Xenaís back dry): Dam mother.† What the hell did she do to you?
Xena (biting her lip): I donít want to talkÖ

Epinon (softly): Hey.† You need to.† You canít keep this shit inside (looking at the long deep scratches on Xenaís thighs.)† What happened?

Xena (closing her eyes): Poni drop itÖ

Varia (gently): Mother please its ok.† You need to get this off your chest.† Youíll feel better.

Xena (weakly): No I donít.† Let it go.†

Epinon (handing Xena a loose shirt and a pair of shorts): Xena thereís no need to act so tough in front of your family.† At least talk to Gabrielle.

Xena (wide eyed; looking up quickly and almost passing out and felt Varia and Epinon grab her by the shoulders): No (clutching her ribs) noÖ

Varia (looking at Epinon): Easy just breathe.

Xena (hoarsely): DammitÖ

Epinon (softly): Easy there Champ.† Just take it easy (pulling Xena tighter against her when she felt her pass out.)† Um I think you better go and get GabrielleÖ.

Varia (jumping up): Be right back.†

Epinon (reassuring): Just take it easy ok (pulling Xena against her and holding her.)† DammitÖ

Gabrielle (taking a bite of her food and trying not to choke and Solariís feeble attempt at avoiding the conversation): So you fell out of the tree trying to think of a way to ask for her hand.†
Eve (muttering): Typical Warrior.† Varia passed out and mother I donít think she sat still for ten seconds before she asked you (laughing.)

Mel (shaking her head): You mean those two (Eve and Gabrielle nodded.)† Oh myÖ
Ephiny (leaning forward): And you should have seen Epinon, had the whole nation in hystericsÖ

Amarice (nodding): Yep not only did she pass out but in the mud nonetheless.†

Eve (chuckling): Tough Warriors my bum.

Gabrielle (remembering fondly Xenaís asking for her hand): When it comes to emotions they fall well flat on their faces.

The table erupted in laughter.† Just the thought of a fierce female warrior passing out cold when it came to expressions of emotions had the whole table in hysterics.

Amarice (smirking): Though once past the asking and the joining the honeymoon well thatís a whole nother story.

Solari (cuffing her lightly): Of course it is.† Thereís not a lot of need for talking (smirking and ducking Ephinyís swat.)

Janice (shaking her head in amusement): But once someone asks for someoneís hand in the nation then well how is the ceremony planned.

Ephiny (looking at Gabrielle): Usually an Amazon Warrior will ask the permission of the Queen to be bonded with their partner.† In the case of the Queen though usually the council will decide.

Mel (pushing her plate aside): And in the case that the council doesnít approve.

Eve (taking a deep breath and looking up when she heard pounding feet): Then certain tests might be required.† They can petition against the councilís vote and most of the time the Queen can overrule the decision of the council.

Varia (leaning against the doorjamb): Mom she (she didnít even get her sentence out when Gabrielle ran past her.)† How does she move so dam fast?
Mel (standing and following everyone else out of the room): Keeping up with Xena will do that to you I take it.

Ephiny (following): You would be right.† Come on.

Epinon (trying to keep Xena from hurting herself as she thrashed around in the throes of what appeared to be a nightmare): Xena come on.† Itís ok.† Altiís not hereÖ

Xena (delirious): Brie no pleaseÖ.

Gabrielle (dropping to her knees): Sheís got a fever (noticing the wet pile of clothes on the floor) and she wanted a bath didnít she (arching her eyebrow?)
Epinon (looking at the floor): Well you know how she gets (tightening her grip on Xenaís arms.)
Gabrielle (hearing everyone else come in): Sheís having a nightmare induced by the fever.† Get her on the floor gently though.† I donít want to risk opening any of the wounds on her back.

Epinon (being as gentle as possible): My Queen Iím sorry she already did.

Eve (moving behind Gabrielle): What do you need?
Gabrielle (thinking): Get me something for her fever and something to put her to sleep.† She needs to rest and I need her out to look at whatever wounds she tore open.†
Ephiny and Mel walked in and both women went to Xenaís side to help hold her down.

Solari joined them on the floor and Varia and Janice grabbed a couple of washcloths.

Xena (weakly): Brie no more please stop babyÖ
Gabrielle (soothingly): Itís ok love Iím here.† Iím right here youíre safe.† Youíre familyís with you.

Janice (wiping Xenaís face gently): Sheís reliving what Alti did to her isnít she?
Ephiny (nodding): I think so.† Gods if she wasnít already dead Iíd tear her apart.

Eve (running in): Here.† I also got some fresh bandages.†

Gabrielle (taking the stuff handed to her): Solari, Varia hold her shoulders.† Janice, Mel grab her legs.† Sheís going to fight this every step of the way.† (softly) baby Iím sorry.† But I have to take care of you.† And face it youíre not always the easiest patient there is.† Iím sorry love.†

Elysian Fields

Aphrodite paced and paced.† She tried to come up with a way to heal Xena without breaking any more dam pestering rules.† She hated rules.† Well the ones that seemed so unfair.† And she hated the fact that her favorite couple was suffering.† She had an idea and she hoped it would work.† Vanishing out of her home she appeared in the halls of the guides.

Guide (stepping out of the shadows): I figured you would back sooner or later.†
Aphrodite (rolling up her sleeves): Listen Xena and Gabrielle have done so much.† And I know Xena can be a hardass and get into more than her share of trouble.† And I know she starts it (thinking) sometimes.† But you canít let her go through this.† Sheís hurt pretty bad and sheís having nightmares and my little one is hurting.† You have to fix this.

Guide (folding her arms across her chest): AphroditeÖ
Aphrodite (summoning all her courage; she knew that the guides could strip her of her powers; knew that they could make her eternity a nightmare but so what; her family was hurting and she hated that): I donít care.† I donít care about your fucking rules.† I donít care what you deem is right or wrong.† This is wrong.† An immortal soul is suffering.† Two immortal souls are suffering and your making everyone around them hurt as well.† I donít care anymore Iíll heal her myself.† Dam you and your fucking rules.

Guide (softly): Even though the outcome for you could be unpleasant.

Aphrodite (fighting tears): Yes.† I donít care.† Her life is worth more than my powers.† Over the years Iíve learned what true love is.† True unconditional love.† And everyone of those women down there have it.† With or without your blessing Iím going to fix this (storming out the door.)

South Carolina

Gabrielle shut the door and leaned against the wall.† Taking care of Xenaís wounds had been hard enough on her but then in Xenaís delirious state she had cried out relieving the nightmare and torture Alti had put her though and it was some of those thoughts that weighed heavily on her heart and soul.

Eve (coming down the hall carrying a cup of tea): Mom (seeing her shoulders shaking) hey itís ok (setting the on a small table and pulling her in for a hug.)† What happened?†
Gabrielle (crying): She relieved some of what Alti did to her.† She used our love against her.† She hurt your mother using my love and affection for her.†

Eve (thinking then comprehending): Oh no.† Mom she knows the truth you would never hurt her like that.† You two have such a pure unselfish bond between you both.† She doesnít believe that.
Gabrielle (shaking): But how can I, how can sheÖ

Eve (taking a deep breath): Like someone very wise said to me once, you trust in your love for each other.†

Gabrielle (smiling remembering those words of wisdom): I know.† I hate to see her hurting.

Eve (rubbing her momís back): I know and I wish there was something we could do.† But right now youíre doing everything you canÖ
Gabrielle (softly): We all are.†

Ephiny (coming down the hall): Brie everything ok (noticing the tears and sad look on both of their faces.)†

Eve (looking at her Aunt): Momís just upset over some of the things that she heard from mother.

Ephiny (brushing back Gabrielleís hair): Sheíll be ok Brie.† Youíve done what you can for her and sheís a tough stubborn pain in the ass (affectionately.)† Why donít you come downstairs and just sit by the fire and talk.† Mel and Janice made some great coffee and Amarice and Solari made a few snacks.† Itíll be good for you.

Gabrielle (nodding): Yeah.† Sheís out for the night anyway.† Iíll check on her in a little while (wrapping her arms around both Eve and Ephiny they walked downstairs together.)

Mel (teasing Janice): Of course you wouldnít have gotten into trouble in the first place if you had used the front door.
Janice (pouting): I didnít know I would be welcome.

Mel (softly): Yes you did.† I told you repeatedly you were more than welcome.

Amarice (laughing): Stubborn and hard headed.† It seems to run in the family.

Poni (squeezing her, which elicited a yelp): Hush.† You should talkÖ.
Amarice (sticking her tongue out): Oh really, need I remind you what happened with you and Cyane and Xena on that supposed hunting trip in Artemisí forest hmmmÖ
Ephiny (walking in and sitting next to her lover): I remember that.† It took two weeks for either of them to sit right.

Solari (chuckling): Wasnít Varia there as well.
Varia (pulling Eve into her arms): No I was withÖ
Eve (nipping her earlobe): Yes you were.† And I think you were at fault.

Janice (laughing): So even in the afterlife they all manage to get into their fair of trouble.

Ephiny (agreeing): You bet your degree that they do.† And itís always them.† No other Amazon seems to get into the things they do.

Solari (playfully protesting): Hey I resemble that remark.

Gabrielle (sipping her coffee): You should.†
Eve (smirking): Good point.
Varia (shifting and running her hands along Eveís ribs): Donít say another word.† I remember a certain vacation where the Messenger of Eli Amazon Princess got arrested.

Gabrielle (teasing): And so did you.† And what was your message.
Ephiny (biting her lip): Something to the fact Mother come help us get out of jail.
Everyone busted up laughing and it was that moment Aphrodite materialized.

Aphrodite (sensing everyoneís good mood): Hi.† Glad to see you having such a good time.

Gabrielle (standing and hugging her): Is everything ok?† Iím sorryÖ
Aphrodite (waving her hand): Itís ok.† I just got bored and thought I would come to visit.
Mel (smiling): Thatís nice.† Youíre more than welcome here.† Although I would like to ask a few questions if you donít mind.

Janice (gesturing to a chair): Have a seat.

Aphrodite (softly): I canít stay long right now.† Tomorrow though Iíll come back and you can ask me whatever you want.† (She wanted to make sure everyone was ok then once they were all asleep heal Xena and then accept whatever the venerable guides deemed her punishment for violating their so called rules.)† And you have all those scrolls to go over.

Mel (excitedly): Plus firsthand knowledge from two Queens themselves and the Princess herself.

Varia (grinning): Yep theÖ

Eve (sheepishly): HushÖ

Ephiny (arching her eyebrow): You were and are our princess.† Mel, Janice it took a while for Eve to accept her title as Princess of the Amazons.† So you have to excuse her.

Eve (rolling her eyes playfully): Aunt EphinyÖ

Gabrielle (proudly): Hush.

Janice (thinking): You gave Eve your right of caste when she was a baby.† And then that whole mess with the Gods and then the incidents in the village.† (Looking at the Goddess of Love) Iím sorry IímÖ

Aphrodite (waving her hand): No need.† I understand believe me I do.† I told them not to do what they did but they didnít listen.† Iím going to go check on Xena and then back to my palace.† Iíll be here first thing tomorrow morning (leaning down she kissed Gabrielle on the forehead.)† Trust in your love for one another little one.† I promise it will be ok.

Gabrielle (softly): Thank you for everything.
Mel (standing): Yes thank youÖ

Aphrodite (walking over to the southerner): Youíll learn a lot over the next couple of days.† Just enjoy yourselves.† Iíll see everyone tomorrow.

Everyone said their good nights and then resumed their conversation.

Janice (thinking): So we get the whole story of Eve the Amazon Princess, the Twilight of the Gods andÖ

Mel (thinking): And her reinstatement.† Wow I hope some of thatís in those scrolls.† And of course we have you to help us if you donít mind.

Gabrielle and Ephiny looked at each other and smiled.

Ephiny (proudly): Anyone of us would be more than glad to help answer any of your questions.† We just ask that not everything be revealed or brought to light.

Gabrielle (nodding): Some things are better left unsaid.† Ephiny and I will help you understand some of our traditions.† As well as Eve and her right of caste and her responsibilities.†
Solari (smiling proudly):† And Poni, Amarice, Varia and myself can give you our perspective on our roles as their consorts and Champions.

The conversation continued to the early morning.† Topics ranging from Amazon life to some of the epic tales of adventure, war, triumph, ceremonies and the afterlife.† Everyone wanted to get an early start, well as early as they could so they said their goodnights and went to bed.

Gabrielle walked into her and Xenaís room.† Careful not to disturb her but thinking the mild sedative she had given her would hopefully keep her out for the night and let her body rest and heal she crawled in gently beside her.† Kissing her lightly on the lips she gingerly wrapped an arm around her loverís waist and closed her eyes.
Sometime later Aphrodite came back with tears in her eyes.
Aphrodite (softly; she had cast a spell to let both of her favorite soul mates to sleep with out nightmares or pain): Iím sorry.† I should have done this sooner.† I donít care what it costs me anymore.† I canít bear to see my little one hurting and to see you hurting either Xena.† Tomorrow all your physical injuries will be gone but you need to talk about the things that happened.† Iíve learned a lot from you both over the years.† The one most important thing is unconditional love.† So as my last gift to you both youíll be healed.† Remember me always.† For no matter what happens Iíll hold you both closest to my heart more so than anyone (with that she placed a gentle kiss on both of their foreheads and then went to each coupleís room giving them a small blessing and saying her good byes.† These woman had come to be her family over the years of eternity.† If this was good-bye she had so many good memories and lessons learned from each of them.† She saved Mel and Janice for last as she not known them as long as she head the others.)† Mel, Janice our time has been short but I see a lot of Xena and Gabrielle in you.† Remember your love in times of struggle and pain.† It will guide you and carry you through everything.† And pay attention to my girls.† Theyíve been around a long time and know more about life and love then I could have ever hoped to even as the goddess of love.† Take care of my family (with that she vanished going straight to the venerable guides temple and awaited her fate.)

Elysian Fields

The guides stepped forward and told Aphrodite what she had done was against the rules (we knew that right) and for violation of those rules she would be punished.

Aphrodite held her head high and told them if that was the price of saving her family then so be it.


Xenaís Girl

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