Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
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This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.
This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.
COMMENTS: Good to the last drop. This story follows I Was Not Listening. Please feel free to comment if you wish. Greatpear@yahoo.com
The level of the seas began to recede but in the beginning it was slight and no one took notice. Time passed and a few seafaring people observed the change. By the next moon there was worry starting to show on the faces of many. Peculiar as it was, it rained almost every other day during this phenomenon and no drought was evident or aided in this peculiarity.
"Poseidon! I cannot hear your arrogant voice anymore. Now that I have you in the underground desert where you will have to endure your eternal captivity, I feel for you and would offer you a drink but we seem to be running out of water! Ha! Ha! Ha! " The voice echoed through the arid prison but there was no physical form attached to it.
The Warrior was returning from a short visit to Amphipolis, where she visited her mother, Cyrene and spent some time with her mothers brother Daeates who was visiting for a week. He was a sailor that moved about from port to port, following the winds and when they blew toward home, then home was where he would return. He was a burly sort and would have made a good pirate but he was an honest, hard working salt of the sea.
Xenas time spent with Uncle Daeates was an enjoyable time; talking about the old days when Xena was a child and listening to her Uncle share his stories of the sea with Cyrene and her daughter. On one of his voyages, he said that he was told of an island that held the secret origin of the mermaids. It was supposedly a place called Poseidons Well. He had that far away look when he talked about it and yet, he said, "It was somewhere off of the mainland, on one of the thousand islands from what Ive heard. The gods watch this place closely or so I was told. A man could get caught up searchin for such a place! Ha! Ha! Ha!"
"Uncle, you wouldnt know what to do with a fish with breasts!" Xena ribbed him and Cyrene laughed with her daughter right back at the fool.
The Warrior let her mind drift over the stories, the time spent with her mom and Uncle Daeates as she road towards Poteidaia. She was to meet Gabrielle in two days time and they were going to do some shopping several days later in the port of Thessalyia. They were also to meet Eponin and Thia while they were there and spend a few days shopping and just having fun with them. Thia had asked for some moral support because after some long talks with Eponin, the warrior finally agreed to a formal date but only if Xena and the Queen were near by. Xena thought to herself, Oh warrior, you are so brave in battle but this beautiful Amazon has you running scared. Kind of reminds me of myself.
The unexpected always seems to knock when were not prepared and this day was no exception but who would have guessed waited behind the proverbial door. Xena thought she saw something move quickly into the bushes just ahead, so she separated herself from the saddle and had Argo wait as she disappeared into the woods. She moved through the foliage working her way around the area and walked quietly behind three small children. They ranged in age from twelve to seven and they looked like someone had been keeping them in a pigsty.
"Stand still until the rider goes by. We dont want to get caught by anyone who could harm us." The oldest boy explained to the other two children.
Xena startled them when they felt her presence and the youngest two bolted in one direction while the oldest one headed the opposite way. She did some figuring in her head and grabbed the oldest. Her thought was that the younger children would stay near out of fear of being separated. As she grabbed the little eel, he screamed out, "Let me go! Let me go or Ill put a curse on you!"
"Hey! Little man, calm down. Im not going to hurt you. Where did the other two go?"
"They went to get my father. Hell get you for this. Hes a warlord and mean as a snake." The boy carried on.
"OK, are you finished? Lets hear the truth now." The Warrior commanded.
"Aw theyre hiding in the bushes. Come on out, I think shes OK. Least ways she aint harmed me yet!" The toe head said with a gruff edge to him.
The underbrush moved and two small, scrawny children walked toward Xena and the boy she held on to. There was a young girl was under that layer of dirt, maybe nine winters in age and blonde like her older brother. The smallest was another boy encased in a covering of earth, who sported brown hair. All three children had brown eyes but they were supposed to be that color. Their clothing they were wearing was ill fitting and filthy. The oldest had shoes but the others were barefoot. Xena had a hard time breathing because they reeked from not taking care of themselves.
"Where are your parents at?" Xena asked the oldest boy.
"Oh! Theyre down the road a ways. We were just on our way to join them."
"Is that right? Xena asked the other two.
One moved her head in a yes and the other a no.
"I see! Youre telling me a story and hoping Ill bite on the bait and let you go on your way. Thats it, isnt it?" The Warrior drilled them.
"We can take care of ourselves. We have been for some time now."
"Well, where are your parents?" Xena asked again.
"Theyre dead, thats where they are."
"Thats right! They died on us." The littlest one said to Xena with big eyes.
The oldest explained that their mother past away about two winters ago from a bad fever. He remembered that she came down with a cough late in the fall when the season turned rainy and as time went by, she became weaker and weaker until the day came that she was no more. The childrens father took her death very hard and although he tried to make the best of things, raising the three of them, he began to drink. He would stay out late at the taverns and although he was never mean to them, he began to drift away and lose the bond that he had with them. One morning there was a knock at the door and they were told that he had been murdered. Stabbed with a knife as he left the tavern. That was about seven moons ago and they told how they left their village so they wouldnt split them up or put them in an orphanage.
"Im sorry for you. Im sorry for all of you. Listen, I have an idea. Id like you to come with me to visit my best friend. Youll like her a lot. She tells stories." Xena explained in a motherly tone. "But first, we need to head over to the river."
"Oh! By the way, what are you called? The Warrior probed.
"Im Polithius, shes Calsota and hes Daeates." The oldest boy explained.
"Daeates! I have an Uncle Daeates and I just visited with him these last two days. Remarkable!" Xena said with surprise.
"My name is Xena." The Warrior told them.
The boy agreed to bring his siblings and follow the Warrior at least to the river. When they reached the bank, she said to Polithius, "You need to be an example by getting in the water and cleaning yourself up. Your sister and brother will follow your lead. Ill help with the little one if you like."
He eyeballed her and looked back at the river then said, "You want me to take my clothes off in front of you?"
"No! Go in the water and take them off, wash them out then throw them to me and Ill hang them on a branch to dry. When theyre dry, you come out and put them on. Ill turn my back." Xena explained step by step.
The three youngsters did as they were told while Xena took her boots off and headed for the water. As she stepped off of the bank, she noticed that the river level was low and it had just rained the night before. She thought that to be odd but the kids grabbed her attention and her focus returned to scrubbing up the little guy named Daeates.
"You all need a hot bath with soap but this will do until I can get you to where we will meet up with Gabrielle. All right! Give me those clothes and Ill set them on the bushes to dry, just over there. You three spend a little more time in the river, so you dont give my horse an upset stomach."
There was a nice breeze, which helped dry the kids clothing, so they were up on shore and dressed within a half of candlemark. Xena kept herself busy brushing Argo and making small talk with the horse while the kids replaced their clothes. When everyone was ready, Xena mounted up and the three orphans followed along behind her.
Pondering again, the thought crossed her mind, How do I get myself into these things? This is your doing Gabrielle! Always teaching me to be nice!
"Xena, were hungry! Can you get us something to eat?" Calsota said with the sweetest tiny voice.
Xena melted and her negative attitude vaporized. It was Xena: Warrior Temporary Mother.
"All right, as soon as we get to a tavern or an inn well get some food."
After about three-quarters of a candlemark, the Warrior and her brood found a tavern on the road. Xena tied Argo to the hitching post in front and entered the establishment with the trio following close behind. Xena walked up to the bar and signaled the barkeep over to where she was standing. "Can I get some food for my three companions and myself?"
The man looked over the bar and down at the three kids, then back at the Warrior and said, "Sure, be just a little while. Grab a table in the back and try to keep them under control. OK?"
"Ya sure." Xena replied as she pointed them in the direction of the furthest table. Several of the other patrons took a look and then returned to their conversations.
A quarter of a candlemark later, the barkeep came back with four bowls of stew and three mugs of milk and one mug of ale. On his second trip to the table, he brought two loaves of bread and butter. The kids ate like they had never eaten before and Xena felt so bad that she ordered seconds for all three of them. They finished their meals and the Warrior pulled out the dinars and put them on the bar as they walked out. "Thank you for the food and drink! Xena told the barkeep.
"You looked like you could use a drink, Warrior!" The barkeep laughed. "Hey Warrior, here are a bag of apples and pears. Theyll be hungry in a half a candlemark."
It was back on the road toward Poteidaia. The Warrior missed her lover and best friend very much. Xena needed her help with this problem she had somehow become responsible for. The weather was favorable even though it had rained on and off these past days, so traveling would be slower than normal but possible. It was warm and good sleeping out doors this time of year. They would need to camp for one, maybe two nights, depending on how their feet held up. So far these kids had not been any trouble but Xena knew how quickly things could change.
Calsota really liked Xena and the presence of a woman or mother figure around. Xena picked her brain for a solid solution regarding the three children but nothing came to mind. She was worried about their future and what would become of them if she could not help.
"When we get to where we decide to camp tonight, I want you, Polithius and your little brother, Daeates to get wood together for the fire. Calsota, you can help me with supper after I find us some food." Xena explained as she tried to prepare them for the evenings events. She also figured that if they were kept busy then they might be less trouble.
They passed by several warriors who were taking a break from riding but Xena figured that because of the kids, they wouldnt make any trouble. They checked the blue-eyed beauty out as she moved by but never made a sound. Anyway, it wasnt like the Warrior and three kids had anything to steal. The four of them made it by the group without incident and although none of them said a word, the kids were scared, just the same.
The children took turns riding on Argo with the Warrior and it helped quite a lot by lessening some of the fatigue. With the air cooling down, it told the Warrior that the sun was beginning to hide among the trees and evening was moving in. Calsota, Xenas new assistant and the Warrior found a temple a little further up the road and returned to tell the two boys. We will stay near the Temple of Hecate.
It took them all of a quarter candlemark to get to the temple, then Xena felt it was wise to move beyond it and set up camp. This would lessen the chance of any contact that they might not want with other passers by.
The blue eyed leader of the group asked of them, "Remember your chores that we talked about? They need to be taken care of. Ill get Calsota a small branch to clean the ground area so we have a decent place to sleep on tonight." Breaking a branch off from a large bush, she showed the little girl what to do with it, by using it like a broom. Xena told the two boys to stay close to the camp when they were scouting for firewood. Stomachs were growling so the Warrior let them know that she was going to locate some dinner for them. Xena needed to move quickly because of evening approaching but she was well versed in hunting with the chakram. Within the length of a catnap, she returned with three rabbits, dressed out and ready for cooking.
Polithius had a fire started but the Warrior, making sure she didnt hurt his feelings, showed him a few tricks and the smoldering embers blazed away in a short time. Roasted rabbit filled the air and while the children waited for the main course to be served, they remembered the fruit and started making it disappear.
"Great pear!" Daeates said as he filled his belly.
Soon, they were all chomping on the rabbit dinner. There was nothing to drink but water, which Xena brought back with her from a nearby stream. Xena was surprised that the stream was so low. They passed the waterskin around and each of the children took a long drink even though the Warrior knew that water was beginning to become harder to come by. Xena had picked up a couple of extra blankets from the barkeep at their lunch stop. She figured the boys could double up and Calsota seemed pretty comfortable with her new mother figure, so she would sleep close.
The first part of the night was peaceful and the children slept like children should. Somewhere about two thirds of the way through the night a bobcat walked the edge of the campfires light. It stirred a field mouse out of the short grass and the chase went straight across the middle of camp. When that bobcat sprung off of Daeates blanket covered body in an attempt to get his mouse, the little boy screamed like a banshee possessed. Everyone jolted. Xena jumped to her feet, flipped and called out her war cry, "YiYiYiYiYi!" landing on the ground with chakram at the release position but the bobcat was nothing but a memory and the mouse was deep in its hole, safe for yet another day.
The rest of the night was spent with six wide eyes all sitting upright as close as they could get to the Warrior for they all knew there was safety in numbers and Xena had the sword. There was no way she was going to make them believe that it was just a bobcat and a mouse when the Temple of Hecate, the goddess of dark magic was just down the road. As far as the kids cared or believed, it was dark magic and there were demons on the prowl.
Xena could feel the closeness every time an owl hooted or a coyote howled as the kids put the squeeze of insecurity on her. Needless to say daylight was a relief. Red-eyed and sore back, the Warrior Princess mustered her troops and headed toward the direction of Poteidaia.
Aaaaaah, what an adventure the Bard could write down and tell the world. The erosion of Xena by the hands of three, count them, three children who wore out one of the greatest female fighters in Greece. The gods couldnt destroy her, she couldnt even destroy herself but a kid with an answer for everything and two runny noses, brought her to her knees. Her mind rambled on as she walked Argo with the two smallest kids on the horse and Polithius telling Xena for the fifth time how long the fangs and claws were on the demon that attacked them last night.
Gabrielle will have the laugh of her life when I come walking in with these three. They really are pretty good kids; its just not my forte. The voice in her head talked on.
Poteidaia was the better part of a day away, so it looked like Xena was going to have another evening together with her new friends. She wondered what Gabrielle would suggest they do with the trio. At least she hoped the Bard would have an idea that would work. There was no way Xena could turn these kids back out to the elements.
"Hey Xena, are you daydreaming again?" Calsota asked.
"No, Im figuring out what will happen next, so I can be prepared." Xena tried to explain.
Polithius shot back with, "I think youre figuring out how to get rid of us. Youre starting to think that you bit off too much and now youre choking on us. Well, you just give the word and well move out of your life as fast as we moved in to it."
"Thats not true! I have a great idea for the three of you but you have to wait until we get with my friend Gabrielle." Xena told them.
"Is she gonna be my new mother?" Calsota wondered.
"Im not sure child, Im not sure."
The road was starting to feel very long to the Warrior Princess but she moved forward toward an answer, she hoped. Lunch was spent in a small village that offered nothing more than fresh water and some bread from one old couple and a slice of pie for each of the children. Xena tried the local tavern but they had gone out of business due to the low population. The place was locked up. On the way out of the village they did manage to get some more apples. It didnt thrill them as much as it made Argo happy!
The afternoon went by with three kids asking three different questions and when given an answer, asking why ten times to each answer given. At about the time that the hawk takes its late afternoon flight for food, is about when Xena said, "Lets camp here. I need to rest and theres a nice stream over that hill, where everyone can take a dip and cool off. Afterwards, Ill catch us some fish for dinner."
The kids all broke for the hill and disappeared behind it.
"Wait! Oh, go .youre gone anyway."
Xena started collecting wood for a fire and set the camp up. The kids came back in the time it takes to eat a meal and they all looked kind of depressed.
"You call that a stream? Theres hardly enough water to keep the dirt acting like mud." Polithius told Xena.
"Im thirsty." Daeates whined.
"Funny, the old couple said something about water being harder to come by from the local spring." Xena recollected.
The Warrior walked back to the stream with the kids and was shocked at what she saw. One of her favorite streams was reduced to half of what it used to be. She would have to follow the stream down a ways to find where it pooled to catch any fish for the evening meal. There also would be no bathing until they got to Poteidaia. Xena was looking forward to the cool water more for herself than for the children but first things first. She told the oldest to do the campfire and she would take his sister with her to catch some fish.
Watching baby brother was his job until they all met back at camp.
Calsota followed like a little puppy as Xena moved along the bank of the stream. The time it took to brush Argo found them in front of a deep fishing hole that had to be packed with fish, since they had limited spots to hide in the low water. Xena pulled her boots off and told Calsota to be ready to gather the fish as she tossed them on shore. Stepping into the water, Xena began to fish. One, two three, four .five six, seven!
"That should do it!" The Warrior told her little helper.
Calsota slid the rawhide through the gills just like a tiny Xena. She looked up at the Warrior and winked as a sign that she was ready. Slinging the fish over her shoulder with the last one dragging on the ground, she followed Xena back to camp.
Xena found a large boulder that was table high to clean the fish on. It was far enough from camp to keep any unwanted guests in the form of raccoons or bears from visiting in the middle of the night. Afterwards, the Warrior and her shadow came into camp. The fire was in full force and the boys were helping it along with additional sticks that they were throwing in. The fish were cooked and the three kids ate with a vengeance and there was nothing left in the time it took a horse to swish its tail.
Bellies full, the blue-eyed mother figure told all three of them that a good nights sleep was very important, since nobody got any sleep the night before. With a deep look into each one of the childrens eyes, Xena sealed the message. The children all agreed on the condition that Xena tell them a story.
"Well, thats usually Gabrielles job but Ill see what I can do. There was an old woman called Willo that was given the task of watering a special tree of the goddess Aphrodite. She was to water it from the dark of the moon until the first full moon, on a daily basis. This went very well for twenty-nine sunrises and sunsets. The last day, the old woman walked to the pond where she had drawn water all of these past days but to her surprise, the pond had dried up! She went to the nearest creek and discovered that it too had dried up! Panic set in and the old woman walked for several candlemarks to the river and as she looked over the bridge, there was nothing but a dried up riverbed. She pushed her weary body all the way back to the tree. By now, the sun was beginning to set and the day was coming to an end. So distraught was she, that the old woman knelt in front of the small tree and began to weep. The tree, which had begun to droop immediately, sprung back to life although the branches continued to hang over. Aphrodite was so touched by the old womans dedication that she named the tree, Weeping Willow in honor of her sacrifice of tears to keep the tree alive."
"That was beautiful Xena!" Calsota told the Warrior then rolled over to go to sleep. The boys followed her lead.
They all stayed close to the fire, with Calsota sleeping right next to Xena. There was a comfort level that was recently reached between the three children and Xena. They began to know trust again.
Everyone was awake and out of the blankets early but not as early as Xena. She was very anxious to get back to Gabrielle. It seemed way too long of a separation and the Warrior needed to be with her. Xena mused about how good a hug would feel right about now.
Promising the trio breakfast as soon as they reached Poteidaia, which was about a candlemark away seemed to help in picking up the pace. The children were singing some silly song as they reached the outskirts of the village. Standing in the middle of the road was a sight for sore, sleepless eyes. Gabrielle, dressed in a big smile, her blonde hair blowing in the breeze was sure a welcomed vision for the Warrior Princess.
"Xena! What have you got with you? A new Army?" The Bard chortled.
Xena walked up and gave Gabrielle a long overdue hug. The two little ones on Argo took a hand down and the three were all introduced to Gabrielle. "This tallest one is Polithius and his little brother Daeates. The other tiny bug is Calsota"
Afterwards, Xena turned to her Bard and said, "Gods, Ive missed you so much this past week. These little ones have no parents and I knew that if you had been with me that you would have talked me into taking them with us, so you werent there and I talked myself into it anyway. I figured that you might have an answer to what we can do with them now!"
"Oh? Well, this will take me a little time to think things through." Gabrielle remarked as she started a deep thought process.
"While youre thinking, lets get the kids some breakfast." The Warrior mom suggested.
"Well, I all ready ate but I could go for a little more. Well get my mom to cook something up. Shell get a kick out of these cuties anyway." The Bard concluded.
So, they moved on toward Gabrielles parents cottage and surprised everyone there with Xenas find. Lila took an active hand in getting the three cleaned up after they had their fill of raisin muffins with honey, that Gabrielles mom baked. There was fresh goats milk and plenty of fruit. Xena also indulged in the food but Gabrielles herbal tea was what hit the spot after a weeks absence of the brew. When the children returned with a fresh bath and clean clothes, which were appropriated from the neighbor, they took on a whole different look. They were like rosy little cherubs with full, plump bellies.
Now, the question that filled everyones mind was what to do with them? Xena had been wracking her brain for several days with no conclusions. She had truly hoped that Gabrielle might have a solution to this obvious problem. Who needed three children? The Warrior and the Bard left the kids go out and play while they mulled this over out in front of the cottage. For a long time there were these two blank expressions staring at each other. Suddenly, as if a great torch were lit, Gabrielles eyes became animated.
"Ive got it!" The Bard said as she jumped off of the ground. "Well, at least I have a possible solution."
"Well .Im all ears Gabrielle. What is your great insight?" The Warrior said with a touch of apprehension.
"What about our friend, the healer?
"Aurislia?" Xena mouthed.
"She might be the definitive answer! She lost two children, she has an incredible amount of energy and this might be the gift she needs to help heal her heart after such a great loss. Shes smart and would make sure that they would grow up educated and as good people." Gabrielle shared.
"Youre amazing my love. Remind me to be nice to you later." Xena teased.
Later in the afternoon, Gabrielle sat down with the three children and explained to them that, there was a place that Xena and her wanted to take them. It would be a three day journey but she felt that it might be a very rewarding trip. Xena added, that they would be going to see a very nice woman who was a healer for people and animals. She had a beautiful farm with a cottage and a barn. This would not only be a neat adventure to go there but it might also be an answer to finding them all a permanent home.
"Youre not dumping us off at an orphanage, are you?" Calsota asked.
"No! Not at all honey. I think you all might love this place and Ill promise you this, if you dont like it, we will go back to my home in Amphipolis." Xena assured them all.
The bell rang on the porch of the cottage, which signaled that there was most likely someone or something to be tended to. Aurislia was in the barn but heard the sound. After closing the stall gate to secure the horse she was tending for a gash in its hindquarter, she walked outside for a look. Looking back toward the barn, Aurislia knew in her mind that the poultice was changed and a new dressing applied, so she headed up to the house to see who had called.
To her surprise, it was Gabrielle and Xena with a following.
"Gabrielle, Xena! How good to see you both!" As she gave each one a warm hug. "Lets see, it has to be at least two moons since we saw each other at the spring blossom festival in Katerini. I havent had much of a chance to come north and apparently, you have not been down this way near Thiva. No matter, tell me about your travels and lets hear about these three little ducklings. Come children, I have many things around hear that will interest you. Heres an apple for each and if you go to the barn, there is chicken feed. Take the wooden bowl and throw some seed around for our feathered friends. Only two bowls worth please!"
Aurislia put some water on to boil for tea and the three women talked. After everyone was caught up on past and current affairs and adventures, the focus moved to the children as Aurislia looked out the window at them playing in the yard. Her eyes took on a sadder tone, as if she was recollecting her past and the memories of her own children.
"Theyre lovely kids. Who do they belong to?" The healer asked.
Xena told her. "Theyre parents are dead. I found them scavenging around the countryside between Amphipolis and Poteidaia. They would have eventually ended up in some kind of trouble or eventually be taken away to an orphanage where they would only be mistreated. I felt I could do better with them and ."
Aurislia interrupted, saying, "And you brought them here because of my loss, feeling that this might help?" Xena held her breath and hoped for a miracle. "You were right in your thinking, Xena. Give me some time with them and lets see how things go. I must say, its an intriguing idea! What Im going to need from you two, is another day of your time, to help the kids see if this is what they really want. Do they have any idea what you two are up to with this visit here?"
"I think the oldest has a better comprehension but little Daeates just sort of follows along like a puppy. Calsota wants to be a little Xena!" Gabrielle explained how she saw it, then added. "You preconception makes this a lot easier on us, Aurislia. Then Xena added, "These children are desperate for a family, a mother, anything but an orphanage or separation."
"Well do whatever you need us to do, Aurislia. We both want to make sure this is right, not only for the children but that it goes well with you. You've become a good friend to us and we want to make sure that this is a good thing for you. We wont leave unless you feel that its time for us to go." The Warrior told the healer.
Dinner was planned after all the animals were fed or tended to for injuries or illnesses. As the day progressed, several of the sick or injured people in the area came to see the healer. There was a young man with an arrow wound to the shoulder. His brother accidentally shot him as he walked around the side of their dwelling and into the line of fire. A young woman followed after with a snakebite that she got while crossing a field. Another younger woman came to the cottage with an infection in her right eye. A sliver was found and removed, then a poultice was applied. And so, the day progressed. Polithius became Aurislias right hand by fetching what she needed throughout the day. The longer he did this, the better he became at knowing where everything was. The two smaller children played out in the barn and wandered around the place, perfectly content and making themselves at home. Xena laid down under a large shade tree and took a well deserved nap, while Gabrielle kept her eyes and ears open, with the intent to learn all she could from Aurislia about healing.
Evening came as evening does and they all sat out in front of the cottage, star gazing with the kids until Calsota and Daeates fell asleep on the grass. Polithius just kept on about how he was going to grow up and be a great healer. Everyone was pretty tired from a very full day and the three children were split into two rooms. The rooms were small and had been used for storage but after a quick cleaning would do just fine. Gabrielle and Xena slept in a large room off of the kitchen, which served as a waiting room in the daytime. Aurislia had her own room and had fallen fast asleep after the emotionally exhausting day. Halfway through the night, she rolled over to discover little Calsota in bed with her. The youngster was sound asleep and had a pleasant smile on her face. This touched the healers heart and there was a bit of a healing going on within her, as it appeared that the gods were working some of their magic.
Aurislia was an early riser and had been out of the cottage for close to a candlemark. She was in the barn tending any of those animals that needed her care. Xena joined the healer in feeding the livestock while Gabrielle took charge of the breakfast chores, which included making her favorite nut bread and cooking up some eggs and smoked ham. Everyone got a mug of goats milk. Gabrielle had gone down to the spring but it had dried up. They would have to hall water from the stream later. When Aurislia came in for her breakfast, she made some herb tea with blueberries and honey. It was so tasty of a concoction that she was prompted to make a second pot, after little coaxing.
As things were being cleaned up and the first arrivals of the sick or injured were walking up the long path that led from the road to the healers door, Calsota walked up to Aurislia and asked, "Are you going to be our new mother? The boys asked me to ask."
"Would that be all right with you, Calsota?" Aurislia asked the child.
The little one said, "Oh yes! It would make us all very happy!" The boys nodded with large doe eyes from the other side of the room.
"Then thats what we will do, if its OK with Aunt Xena and Aunt Gabrielle?"
"By the gods, yes! A wonderful idea!" Gabrielle shouted with enthusiasm.
Xena gave a nod and a smirk as Calsota ran over for a hug from the Warrior. The boys ran outside and went right back to exploring around the place. Suddenly the door flew open and Polithius poked his head back in saying, "Just call me when you need my help with anything, Mom. Uh, is that OK to call you?"
"Why, yes son, it would be an honor if you called me mom," and a couple of tears escaped from the healers eyes. Polithius ran from the door, gave her a hug and a quick kiss on the cheek, then ran out of the door calling his little brother.
The conversation then switched to when Gabrielle and Xena would be leaving and where they were headed next. Gabrielle explained that their plans for the next ten days or so, would be filled with a certain amount of relaxation and some browsing and shopping that was promised and long overdue. Xena rolled her eyes when she heard the whining from the Bard. They were heading off to Thessalyia and were to meet up with two of their friends from the Amazon village. Eponin and Thia were going down to the port first. The Warrior and the Bard were to meet up with them for a fun time but they were also to be there for moral support. This was a first, formal date between the two Amazons and although there had been an underlying love that was on the verge of coming into bloom, both Amazons had a need for their friends to be there for encouragement.
Gabrielle explained where the romance was with the two Amazons so Aurislia could understand. She told the healer as best as she could, why Xena and her were picked to be somewhat chaperones for two adults. Thia actually thought it might help with the comfort level between Eponin and her. Eponin was often aloof and this was a big move for the seasoned warrior to commit not only to a date but several days together away from the village.
Xena said that they would move out about mid afternoon, so if there were any last minute change of heart with the children, then they would still be around to help Aurislia to deal with it. Everything looked like the kids had made a full commitment in their minds to their future with Aurislia and life would only improve for all.
Argo was saddled and the healer set the couple up with provisions for a couple of days. Saying goodbye to the kids was tougher on Xena than Gabrielle but they both promised to return within a moon or two and would stay for a visit. Hugs were exchanged by all and the two women headed down the road to the Port of Halkida. Even though Halkida was a seaport, they would go on, for their intentions were to cross the peninsula to the Port of Kimi where the trip would be considerably shorter by sea.
Xena and Gabrielle reached Haldika within a little less than two candlemarks and proceeded straight through to the Port of Kimi, where they needed a room for the night and hopefully could catch a small ship back to Thessalyia in the morning.
Xena was hungry and that meant that Gabrielle was famished so food was high on the priority scroll. They found a nice place to eat, along with lodging but a somewhat pricey at twelve dinars a night for the room. Three more dinars were for stabling the horse over night. They both were too tired to argue but Xena had a fit when she found out that a bath was extra.
They paid it anyway, for their intentions were to get clean after dinner and spend some valuable time saying hello the proper way with no interruptions. After all they had not been alone since before Xenas trip to Amphipolis. The room was on the ground floor and you could see the water and hear the gulls. It was a soothing sound, almost as soothing as the sound of the hot water being poured into the tub.
Soon things were going to get very hot, Xena thought to herself.
So many times the two of us found ourselves in similar settings. Sometimes it was out under the stars or in a cozy cave but never did it become mundane or average when we made love to each other. Perhaps, that was it! We made love to each other and not just had sex. This was different because of the emotional bond between us. It was the passion of not taking but giving pleasure to your lover. These were thoughts that filled Gabrielles mind as she pulled off her dusty clothes and thought about the first contact with her Warrior in the tub.
My gods shes beautiful! Her body is as poetic as her storytelling. I want to give her pleasure; I want to take to her new places by making slow moving, tender and poignant love to her. She is why I continue on. Her actions feed my spirit and drive me, guide me. I am my own person but in her light I shine as a brighter jewel. It is all she is that helps make me all I am. Xena noted in her mind.
They both climbed into the tub at the same time. The water was hot, soapy and then Xena added some crushed lavender flowers, which gave the water a beautiful bouquet.
"Could you wash my hair first Xena?" The Bard asked her lover.
"Sure, come over and turn around." Xena directed.
The Bard spun around in the water and backed up into Xena. Slipping her hands around each side of the blonde storyteller, the Warrior cupped her breasts and lifted them slightly. "Oooo! That feels nice!" Gabrielle said as she tilted her head back and received a soft kiss from her lover. Xena released her, as hard as it was to do and began the washing. It was hypnotic for Gabrielle, as she became relaxed, drifting off to somewhere deep within the resources of her mind. Xenas fingers worked their way down to the scalp, getting not only the road dust out but massaging the Bards busy head.
Xena turned her sideways, tilting Gabrielles head back into the crotch of her arm. She took a large wooden ladle and began slowly pouring the water over her head, rinsing the soap out of her hair. When she was close to finishing, the Bard opened her eyes and pursed her lips. The blue-eyed lover lifted her head slightly to her mouth and they slow danced with their tongues for awhile.
Gabrielle finally remarked, "Well never get clean at this pace my love. Its your turn to have your hair washed."
Xena changed positions and they repeated the intimate wash and rinse, then the scene turned to scrub the bodies clean. At first, they worked on themselves, then they worked on each other. When they were finished, there was a glow about each of them.
Xena finished drying herself off first then started combing out the snarls until her hair was a smooth black sheen. The Bard was also working on her hair when she caught eye of the Warrior watching her. Always the tease, the Bard stood up dropping her towel to the floor and flipped her hair forward over her head, combing it out, then flipped it back. Naked and seductive, she walked over to the chair where Xena was sitting and sat down on her lap. She gently tugged on one of the Warriors nipples in a toying fashion, as she kissed her lover passionately. Their lips parted and they tasted each other much more feverishly than before. Xenas thighs were wet from her lovers excitement but that only made the flames jump higher. One easy pull on the Warriors arm is all it took to get her to follow the Bard to the bed.
"Take me Xena, please take me!" The Bard moaned as the Warrior skipped a few stops and pulled one leg open by lifting it by the knee. She gave the inside of the thigh a long lick. Xena alternated kisses back and forth between the two thighs but this did not last as long as the thought of doing it lasted in the Warriors mind. The blue-eyed lover could hold off no longer and she slid her tongue deep into Gabrielle as the sensitive lover jerked at the initial contact. Xenas mouth and tongue seemed to work independently of the rest of her body as she sucked easy on the Bards center, bringing body tremors to her lover. Xenas hands reached up the Bards torso and found her breasts, squeezing and caressing, then rubbing the nipples, which grew at each touch.
The Bard was exhausted but refused to collapse until she got to go down on her Warrior. Xena was all ready on the edge, so when the Bard had her lay on her back, the raven-hair beauty just opened up, showing her swollen flower. Her young lover moved her tongue through the soft hair and began to taste her own personal ambrosia. As far as Gabrielle was concerned, her lover was a goddess and nothing could be better than to be with the one whom holds your heart.
They both looked deep into each others eyes when they had finished pleasing their bodies and realized that their souls had been touched too.
Sunrise brought an overcast sky and choppy waters but the women were on a mission of love, not to mention good times. Needing to get to Thessalyia, they first had to find passage. They reached the docks and started inquiring about a ship that might be headed their way. When Xena checked with the innkeeper the previous evening, there was nothing moving out in that direction. They ran into a sailor who had just gotten off of a ship in the middle of the night. The vessel was called The Storm and had set anchor under the cloak of darkness. With their friends arriving late tonight from the Amazon village, the Warrior and the Bard were hoping to get to Thessalyia before another evening passed.
This ship would be adequate if they could secure passage on it but it was what Xena called a dark ship. They would make this work but under less hurried circumstances, the two would have picked another ship. As ships were, this one carried a feeling of bad luck about it.
After some quick talking and of course, getting robbed by the price the Captain was asking, they at least came up with a straight shot to Thessalyia. The cost of passage for the two of them plus Argo was forty dinars. There was no working a deal with this low life. You paid his price or found transportation elsewhere.
Xena made sure that there was no miscommunication with the Captain and the crew, regarding the boarding plans. The ship was to leave the harbor at midday, so Gabrielle was waiting on the dock with Argo early enough to gain access to the ships hold. A candlemark later, they were on the deck and Argo was down below as the ship began to pull away from land, following the coast to the north. Everything seemed to be going well but the Warrior was on her guard just to be safe anyway. She thought she had seen a familiar face as they were coming aboard but she couldnt place it just yet and had not an opportunity to look upon it again.
The clouds were beginning to break up and there was periodic sunshine filtering through. It felt good when the rays landed upon them as they stood by the railing of the deck. Some of Gabrielle and Xenas most interesting discussions often took place on a ship deck. Their conversation was focused on Aurislia and how she and the children were getting along. Xena wondered if three children might be too much to handle for her. Somehow though, it felt like a proper fit for all four of them and Polithius looked to be a great help to the healer. There were great possibilities for him to follow in his new mothers footsteps.
Their talk took an unusual turn as Xena asked Gabrielle if she noticed how low the waterline was, when they went down to the docks in the morning.
"Yea, now that you mention it, I did notice the pilings were showing more than normal. You could see the old water marks. Heres something else; when I went to the spring at Aurislias place, the spring had dried up. That spring has been active every time we visit." Gabrielle said with a wrinkled brow.
"Theres something happening and Im not sure what it is but Ive seen some other signs too. I took the children to the river when I first found them because they were very dirty and in need of a bath. It was there that I noticed the low level of the river and thought it odd for there had been several days of raining on and off. Ive seen other examples too but I havent an answer for it. There was no way it could be a coincidence." Xena remarked as she looked out over the water.
The Captain must have thought about this also, for he had a mate checking the depth through the narrows so they did not tear out the bottom of the ship on submersed boulders. Gabrielle watched the sailor as he tossed his line out, hit bottom with the weight and counted the depth by the length of the line that had been fed out.
As she turned her attention to Xena, she asked, "How is everything with your mother, Xena?"
"Oh, shes doing fine and she wanted to know if you were keeping me out of trouble. I told her, every night! We had a real good time visiting with my uncle; in fact, he should be back to the sea by now. He was telling some wicked stories about mermaids and some of the odd places hes been."
"Odd? We could tell him about odd!" Gabrielle laughed.
"Mom was sniffing around to know where our place was." Xena said without concern.
"You didnt tell her, did you?" The Bard questioned.
"No! We agreed that no one but us would know about our special place. Besides, what Mom doesnt know wont come back to cause her trouble if trouble shows up at her door."
Gabrielle started munching on some nut bread she had placed in her bag for just this kind of hunger emergency, while the Warrior was sitting on a small barrel working an edge to her sword. The attack was without warning but not unexpected. The sailor walked the deck as if he was just passing by on his way to another part of the ship, when he lunged at Xenas back with a long knife. She forward rolled and turned as he missed his mark, then the fool tried again while he faced the Warrior and she sent him off to Tartarus with a single thrust of the sword.
"This is the character I recognized when we boarded. Does he look familiar to you, Gabrielle?" Xena asked.
"I think he used to ride with Callisto. Probably just trying to make a name for himself by killing you, Xena."
"He made a name all right! Dead!" She pointed out.
Two sailors and the Captain came down to the deck area. The sailors removed the body and the Captain said, "Sorry for the inconvenience, Xena."
"No inconvenience ..I needed the practice." She replied with a caustic tongue.
They dropped anchor just past the dinner hour and there were still a candlemark or two of daylight left. The deceased had a quick burial at sea with no words or tears before they arrived in port. It was his second voyage and no one knew him or would miss him.
Both women were excited to connect with their friends. This gathering had been planned for about a good moon. The two travelers were to meet up with Thia and Eponin, at the Blue Parrot Inn and let life unfold after that. There was the formal date that was to take place but Thia was arranging that. Everything else was to be spontaneous. The gods aside, they needed a good time to clear their heads of all that had happened lately.
The Blue Parrot Inn was a very nice establishment and catered to a mixed clientele. There were merchants and seafaring men, actors and actresses, musicians and bards, warriors and warlords. If you could think of them, they were somewhere about. It was a very large inn with lots of drink flowing and fun being had by all. The stable was directly behind the place and was fairly new. Argo would be pleased to stand on solid ground again.
There was a note for Gabrielle at the bar that read, My Queen, We hope your journey was pleasant. We will join you after our date. I am to meet Eponin at The Sea Horse Tavern and Inn for dinner. Pray to the gods this will go smoothly. We are both nervous! Your Servant, Thia
Gabrielle handed the note to Xena and laughed as she leaned over and collected a kiss. After Xena read it, she smiled and said, "Lets get a drink and order a bath, then meet the lovebirds down here."
"That sounds good to me." The Bard agreed.
Eponin walked into The Oar, which was a small tavern near the docks. She had a candlemark to kill before she had to be at her rendezvous so she stopped in for a little courage because she was nervous. When she walked through the door of the tavern she ran into three undesirables coming out and the big one said, "Youre in my way." She attempted to push Eponin but the Amazon pushed back and went inside of the place. Sitting at the bar she ordered a mug of ale and tried to kill time by thinking things through. The warrior was a little nervous about doing this. Being pretty much of a loner, it was difficult to open up to someone. It was about a half of candlemark before the warrior was to meet up with Thia at the Sea Horse tavern. Finishing her ale, she paid the bartender and walked toward the door. It was a short trip to the Sea Horse and the warrior cut between the buildings to save some steps.
"Thwack!" Was all she heard.
Eponin was blind-sided by the punch to her head. She dropped to her knees and the attack continued as she was hit in the back of the neck and the face. She fought hard to get to her feet but was no match for the three warriors who surprised her. They threw her against the wall of the building and continued to beat her. She got a few good punches in but really didnt have a chance in Hades of winning or even defending herself. They worked her over for quite awhile and continued to kick her when she was down.
The leader said, "When I say that youre in my way, you get out of it or youre getting a beating!" She said to the crumpled body of Eponin. "I dont give a night with Aphrodite, if shes an Amazon or not." The arrogant warrior shouted in the direction of her companions. "Im tired of hearing how wonderful life is in the northern Amazon territory. Im sick of hearing about the new Queen up there and that Warrior bitch Xena. This ones lucky that I didnt slit her throat. Anyway, pretty soon there wont be enough water around to wash this things wounds off. They all can die as far as I care."
They left Eponin on the ground between the buildings hurt, but not dead. The strawberry blonde took the lead as they walked away and the other two warriors fell in behind her. She was an extremely big woman who stood almost nineteen hands. Larger than most men, she had an attitude of a gladiator. As if she knew that eventually death would come knocking and she wanted to get all of her licks in or as many as she could, before she went down. She was plain looking with several scars from earlier confrontations she must have won but not without taking a few shots. She was a strong individual and boasted about it by the way she carried herself. Her two companions were the kind that seemed to prey on the weak. The shorter of the two was full of bad Karma and made her sister look like a Hestian virgin. The smaller of the two appeared to be intimate with the leader and bent her ear from the look of things. They laughed as they moved away from the mess that they had made out of the Amazon.
Thia was concerned on being late and when she arrived and there was no Eponin, she began to panic that the great warrior had changed her mind about the date. Waiting and listening to her heartbeat loudly in her chest, Thia worried that she had pushed to hard, too fast. After all who would want anyone that could not talk, she thought. Thats just my insecurities haunting me. It doesnt make me less of a person; it only makes me a different person. Of course, maybe Im just kidding myself?
She motioned the bartender and pointed to the ale.
"You want one of these?" He asked.
Thia nodded her head in agreement. Then she looked around the room once more to make sure she had not overlooked Eponin. The bartender brought her a mug and a smile a short time later.
I hope everything is fine with Eponin and there are no problems with us. Thia thought.
Eponin regained consciousness then struggled to get back on her feet after she. Slowly she aimed herself in the direction of the Sea Horse tavern, moving one foot in front of the other. A couple of passers by gasped at what they saw when the Amazon stumbled across their path. She got to the front of the tavern, moved slowly up the steps and through the door. She struggled toward the center of the room and Thia spotted her date. Her mouth dropped open in shock at the sight before her. The woman had been beaten bloody and looked horrendous. One man stumbled backwards out of the way, while a woman screamed as Thia leaped across the table that separated the two women. Slipping an arm around Eponin to support her weight while the other hand was on her knife, she moved her out of the middle of the crowd. The bartender came over and told Thia that there was a room behind the bar that she could take her friend to. They followed him and he opened the door for the couple. Thia got Eponin seated on a chair so she was able to make an assessment of the damages. The bartender returned, gently knocking and opened the door slowly so not to startle either of them. He brought a basin of water, wash cloth and a towel.
Thias eyes told the bartender thanks and she began to clean her friend up. Tears streamed down her face as she worked on Eponin but the warrior showed no emotion. She stared straight-ahead apparently contemplating revenge. The warriors nose was broken and one eye was swollen closed, the rest were scrapes and minor cuts to her face and neck. She had a couple of broken ribs, one sore torso and a large bruise above her right breast. Thias mind was running as fast as a runaway horse. Thank the gods your alive, she thought.
There was another soft knock at the door and the bartender returned with bandages and a salve. He said, "If you need anything else, let me know. I took the liberty to set up a room upstairs for you. Number seven is on the door."
Again the sandy blonde showed her gratitude by reaching out and holding is hand between her two hands as a gesture of thanks. Eponin looked up and through a swollen mouth and a split lip said, "Thank you."
When Thia had the warrior cleaned up and bandaged she put her hands lightly on both sides of her face and looked deeply into her eyes. As hard as she tried to hold the tears back she could not and they ran freely toward the floor. She gently kissed Eponin on the cheek, then pointed to go up stairs to the room.
She knew that she needed to get a message to the Queen and Xena, who were also in the city of Thessalyia by now, she had hoped. They would be concerned when the two Amazons didnt show up later that evening. After the date, they were all going to meet at the inn that they were staying at but Thia knew that Eponin should get some rest and not be moving around in the shape she was in. They didnt need to run into that trio again, not tonight anyway.
When she got Eponin settled into bed, Thia waited awhile to make sure the warrior was going to be OK, then she wrote two notes, one for the bartender and one that she wanted him to deliver to Xena. The Amazon found him downstairs and after he read his note, he nodded and said, "I will send a boy I can trust. He will leave immediately."
The boy went out of the front door of the Sea Horse Tavern and moved down the street in the direction of the newer section of the city. He was to wait at The Blue Parrot Inn until he had given the note to Queen Gabrielle or Xena. Leaving the Amazon village yesterday, they arrived at the Port of Thessalyia this morning. Their plans were to spend several days just having a good time together, however, everyone knew without saying it out loud that there might be romance in the air. Xena and Gabrielle were to arrive this night and check into their room. They were all to meet about a candlemark after sunset and have a couple of ales and some laughs.
The boy slipped through the door, stayed close to the wall and scanned the room. His eyes locked when he saw the tall, dark haired Warrior who commanded the room by her presence. Next to her was a blonde beauty and the boys eye level was even with her breasts and him being all of fourteen winters, looked real hard at this vision. He then remembered why he was here and his duty to the bartender. Moving closer he said, "Xena?"
Xena looked down at the boy and said, "Yes?"
"Is that Queen Gabrielle?" The boy asked. At which time, he placed the parchment into her hand and left like a cat threatened with water. Gabrielle and Xena looked around, then at each other and finally at the note.
Xena opened it and said, "Oh no!"
Gabrielle grabbed it and read,
Eponin was attacked in an alley. She is hurt but will be OK.
We are at the Sea Horse tavern. The owner gave us a room.
Ill let her rest tonight and see you tomorrow.
Xenas eyes took on the look of the hunter and she said, "I dont know who did this to Eponin, but I will make it right."
Gabrielle added, " I wish we could go to Eponin but I understand Thias concerns and she will take good care of her, Im sure. I just feel so bad for her. We should have been there."
"I feel bad too but much of it is up to the Fates on how life unfolds Gabrielle. Even knowing that Lao Ma knew my future tells me that there must be something that has its hand on us. Something greater had to open the door for her to gain access to that knowledge. Maybe there is a reason for everything that happens. Take a look at the Horde for instance. Everyone including me thought that we couldnt communicate with those savages but you found the key Gabrielle and we began to understand them. It didnt make them different, it made us different finding that out. They were who they were before we knew more about them. Eponin had this happen to her for some reason we might never know, but it might be there to make a significant difference in her life. Of course, this is all my own speculation."
"Hey!" Gabrielle touted. "Im the one whos supposed to be philosophizing and searching for spiritual answers, arent I?"
Thia sat in a chair that she placed up against the wall. Facing the door of the room just to be safe, she stayed attentive to her night watch. She didnt really think there would be any more trouble but it was better to be safe and prepared. With one eye open she slept, not only to be ready for trouble but she wanted to make sure that if Eponin needed her for anything she would hear her. Thia looked over at the warrior from her vantagepoint and pondered on how the night unfolded. It was supposed to be a sweet evening of dinner and exploring the possibilities, at least in Thias mind of romance. This was going to be a first date with someone she had been in love with for a long time. Thia had deep feelings for Eponin ever since she could remember. They grew stronger by the time she reached seventeen winters and now she was twenty-two winters and it was unbearable sometimes to have to look but not touch, to hold all the words inside that she would share with this woman should her feelings for Thia be the same.
She thought about how she would like to get her knife on the throat of the animal that did this to her friend. The young Amazon dozed off with revenge on her mind.
When the moon was high over head, Thia opened her eyes. At first she was a little displaced, then it came back to her and all that had happened. She got up, walked to the edge of the bed and took a look. Eponin opened her own eyes, smiling a little smile that must have hurt. Thia ran her hand softly over the warriors cheek then leaned over hesitantly at first. Continuing closer, she brushed her lips against the lips of this woman her heart desired. The young woman started to well up with tears so she moved back to the chair, allowing the warrior the rest that she needed.
A candlemark later, Eponin got out of bed and called softly to Thia in such a way, as not to surprise her. The sandy blonde jumped, slightly startled from being tense to begin with. When she focused, Eponin said, "Come share the bed with me my friend. No one will come and you need to get some sleep too!"
Thia removed her boots and moved cautiously on to half of the bed while Eponin climbed in on the other half. Thia thought, I would have given a year of my life for this, under different circumstances. The wounded warrior rolled over and faced Thia. Reaching out with her hand, she stroked the younger womans hair, then closed her eyes and fell asleep. They both slept until morning.
When they opened their eyes, Thia had her arms around Eponin but backed off when she came to her senses. She still wasnt sure of herself or if Eponin had any of the same feelings for her. Under the circumstances here, Thia felt it was not appropriate for exploring her hearts wants and needs.
They both got up out of bed and Thia went down to find the proprietor who had been so kind the night before. He was cleaning up the bar and was still closed for the morning hours. Thia wrote down her questions that he read, then nodded in agreement with them.
"Give me a half of candlemark and Ill have a bath ready for her. The room is right next to where you were last night. Ill have everything shell need in there. By the way, my name is Zolono."
Thia looked deep into his eyes and grabbed his hand again, holding it close to her heart to let him know how much his kindness meant to her. "You remind me of a daughter I have not seen for many winters. You and your friend are my guests and are always welcomed here." Zolono told her.
Thia went back upstairs to the room and gave Eponin the hand visuals, explaining that a bath was being prepared for her and would be ready shortly.
The warrior spoke to Thia, saying, "I want you to help me, to join me in the bath. I need your help washing. Im very sore and my face is a mess. Please do this for me Thia."
Thia could hardly believe what she was hearing and tried not to jump up and down with happiness. She was asked to join her hearts desire in the bath. Of course she realized it was to help the wounded warrior and nothing else, still
The gods are too kind or they toy with my heartstrings. She thought.
The two women entered the bathroom and began to remove their clothing. Eponin was an excellent physical marvel and might have been killed if she wasnt in as good of shape as she was. She was shorter than Xena and therefore had a stockier build. Remarkably strong, she worked out in the Amazon village by lifting logs of various sizes. Even with all of her muscles and strength she was still a beautiful woman who could turn the head of any other woman or man. Thia could not tear her eyes away from her magnificence but she also was concerned for the many bruises that her body suffered in the fight. From what Thia could see, Eponin had been kicked in the ribs repeatedly, as well as other areas. The tops of her thighs were all bruised and there were bruises all over her back as well.
Eponin was her own spirit, a free spirit that stayed aloof from most people but not all. There were some that she would die for, so strong was her bond when you were allowed inside. The warrior climbed into the hot water and let out a groan when she settled in. Thia removed her tunic and it was Eponin who took inventory this time. The sandy blonde was lithe and quick as her body suggested. Her breasts were firm and supple. At this moment they hungered for the warriors mouth. Thia had fair skin and the blonde patch of hair that covered her mound was thick and a deeper brown. She moved like a mountain loin sure-footed and without sound. Her hands were more the hands of a musician or an artist. The fingers were longer and gave one the impression of a gentle touch but place a knife in that hand and she was lethal.
The water barely moved as she entered the tub and her eyes never left Eponins. Her mind was on fire at the thought of touching the warrior. To wash her and to move her hand over the surface of this remarkable person made her dizzy. There was a little fear in her heart that she might forget herself and do something foolish.
Eponin asked, "What are you thinking, my friend? Does my face look that bad? Are you ..repulsed at how I look?"
Thia shook her head. "No." She was almost angry at Eponins words. She paced her response and took her time to let the warrior know that she still thought she was beautiful and the black eye, the broken nose and the many bruises would all fade away in time. She took the wash cloth and soap, lathering it up; she began to wash the warriors back and shoulders. She worked carefully on her neck and face, going carefully over the areas that were tender and sore. Thia dropped the wash cloth and it drifted down into the water. She reached down and her hand landed right between the warriors legs and Eponin parted them slightly or so Thia imagined. She retrieved the wash cloth blushing and continued with washing her friend. She handed the warrior the soap when there was nothing left to do but her personal areas and her hair. As hard of a decision as it was to make, she washed Eponins hair. The young blond was a complete shambles by the time she was finished with Eponin.
Had the warrior felt better, Eponin would have pursued a more intimate time in the tub but she was still messed up and a day or two would help, revive her spirit and her hunger for this interesting lover to be. Eponin kept her feelings well hidden but there was something about this woman that pealed away her elusiveness and for the first time in her life she thought she might have found a serious love interest.
They dressed and when they came out of the bathroom and walked into the tavern they ran into Xena and Gabrielle.
"Dear gods!" Gabrielle said with shock when she saw Eponin.
Xena stayed quiet until everyone calmed down, then asked, "Are you all right?"
"Ill be fine." Eponin replied "I just got my ass kicked, thats all."
"Who did this to you?" Gabrielle said with anger in her voice.
"It was a big woman, along with two others. She had reddish blonde hair and tried shoving me out of the way when I entered a small tavern called The Oar. I shoved back but I never figured them to wait for me outside. They blindsided me and just kept beating me until they got tired."
With that said, Eponin sat down and everyone joined her.
"My name is Zolono. We met last night. If you give me half of candlemark, Ill have breakfast for all of you. Some eggs, sausage and biscuits?"
The Bard said, "Please! That would be great!"
Eponin looked up and said, "Thank you for everything, Zolono. Youre a good man."
"It is nothing" Zolono replied.
While they were waiting for breakfast, Thia let everyone know that she would get her revenge for what was done to Eponin. The warrior smiled at Thias fury and told her, "My dedicated protector, how am I ever going to repay you for all youve done and all you would do, if given half a chance."
Xena shot Eponin a quick grin as she read between the lines at what had just been said. The other two believed that Eponin was talking about Thias dedication to evening up the score.
Through the door of the tavern came an unlikely hero but one that would prove to be a friend to the four souls who sat together. "Who would have thought that the road would be dusty today! Im parched and in need of a fine wine." The dandy exclaimed. "Did anyone hear my plea? Dear gods! Amazons and me without any protection."
"You neednt worry mister. Youre not our type and if you want a wine, go to the bar. Dont whine here." Xena said with a cup of sarcasm.
"Well, I never!" The dandy huffed.
"Dont suppose you did!" Xena shot back.
"By the way, my name is Hetros and I am performing at the Maiden Theater, starting tomorrow night."
Zolono came in with the breakfast, placing a plate in front of each of the women. He left and returned quickly with four spice teas, then disappeared again returning with a vase full of fresh flowers and set them in the middle of the table.
"You are too much, Zolono! Thank you for your generosity and your kindness. The Amazon Queen said with a warm smile.
"Would there be any more breakfast? Hetros needs to eat too!" The pathetic whiner begged. "After all, getting attacked and robbed by those three women took the life right out of me."
When he looked up from his wine, all four warriors surrounded him and they all were looking at him very hard. Xena was first to ask, "What three women attacked you?"
"And robbed me!" He added. A peculiar looking individual, Hetros stood tall and thin. A pale sort of creature, he looked close to starvation and talked in an actors rhythm and air. The women would have dismissed him as a harmless irritant but after what he just said; they were captivated by his every word.
"My, my! What happened to you once lovely?" The fool uttered in the direction of Eponin, while Thia grabbed him around the throat in a flash.
"Id be careful of what you say actor. Shes kind of taken by the little lady." Xena chided Hetros.
"My deepest apologies for being misunderstood. Let me tell the tale of my misfortune and you judge if I was wronged by fate." Hetros babbled.
"Just tell us what happed." Eponin ordered.
"I was riding towards Thessalyia and my horse came up lame. I got off of the crippled stallion and checked out the damages. While I was examining his hoof, this tremendously large peach haired woman and her two companions kicked me in the soul of my being and I landed on the ground. I begged mercy and they laughed at me! Then they stole my money, my jewelry, my food and water. The big one was going to kill me but her little sidekick said something about Poseidons Well and the three of them just left me there with a lame horse. I was hungry and without any dinars!"
"What direction were they heading in Hetros and exactly where did this all take place? Xena asked impatiently.
Hetros replied by telling them, "It happened right outside of a village called Katahas."
"Why, thats on the far side of the bay, in the direction of the Temple of Poseidon." Gabrielle noted.
Xena shouted for the bartender, "Hey! Zolono, please get him something to eat. We wouldnt want him to pass out on stage tomorrow, would we?"
Xena turned to the others and they returned to the table they had come from. As they looked across from each other, you could have heard a feather drop if it wasnt for the noise coming from the bar.
Xena told the rest of the women that she knew of someone in the area that might be able to tell them more about the three women ruffians and possibly what Poseidons Well was all about. Xena suggested that Thia and Eponin stay at the Blue Parrot while she and Gabrielle went to seek some guidance. Xena knew that Eponin did not need to get into anything just yet.
There was a small cottage on the outskirts of Thessalyia and if you werent looking you would have missed the small trail that led to it. The occupant of the cottage was a blind man, approximately fifty winters in age. He lived with a raccoon that hissed at anyone who came around the cottage. It was common to see the blind man near the entrance of the city asking for alms. Xena knew Cabriello in a different capacity from earlier encounters and needed to make contact with him in hopes of getting a better understanding of where they were going and what to expect.
Eponin was feeling a whole lot better. Her right eye was starting to open and the swelling was going down. She was as tuff as they came and never complained of anything that came her way. Thia had really been enjoying this time of Eponins convalescence for it gave her an opportunity to be close to the warrior. She would have preferred however, that nothing had happened to the woman she was in love with. They stayed right where they were while Xena and Gabrielle went to the edge of the city to look for Cabriello.
They could not find him after a short walk around, so they headed in the direction of his cottage. Argo was stabled while the two enjoyed the time in the city together. So, with staff in hand, Gabrielle and Xena, who was on foot, made their way down the trail to a small clearing that held the dwelling. Xena called from out front, to the cottage and its occupant, "Cabriello! Are you in there?"
"Who wants to know such information?" The reply came back.
"Xena of Amphipolis and my friend, Gabrielle."
"The Amazon Queen?"
Xena looked at the Bard with a look of half surprise, half annoyance. Her lover was starting to get a reputation of her own. "Yes ..The Amazon Queen." Xena answered.
The blind Oracle stepped out of the cottage and waved them forward. He was dressed in a dark blue robe, tied with a sash around the waist and sandals upon his feet. His beard was gray and his hair was salt and pepper. As the two seekers came closer, the raccoon came out of the half-opened door and hissed at the women.
"Quiet, Epedurmus! These are our friends! Please come into my humble abode and may the gods bless us all!"
The three of them sat around a small table and when the raccoon had made his rounds, checking everyone out including Cabriello, Xena started the conversation by saying, "Who drinks from Poseidons Well, Cabriello?"
"And what do you know of Poseidons Well, Xena?"
"No more than the next avid listener, who as a child, was raised around the fables and mysteries of the storytellers. Sitting around the campfires, I listened to one such storyteller who said that, only Poseidon could drink from his own well but did not need to unless his powers as a god were thwarted by one who tricked him into submission." The Warrior told the Oracle.
"You are right, Warrior. There are few that would curse their own world with such an ugly act of treason by removal of the god of waters. But there are those who are not right with themselves. It is those that life fears the most."
Then Cabriello added this; "The Well of Poseidon was the solution to the worlds loss of water. As everyone knows, water is a necessity of life in all lands. The legend concedes that one would journey to Poseidons Well, fill the waterskin and deliver it to the ends of reality and the lips of the god Poseidon. Upon drinking, Poseidon would once again be returned to the stature of god and rule over all the waters upon the face of the earth. The other part of this legend that is not widely known is, that if another drinks from the Well then they would have power over the mortals, as they would become a demigod. "
"How would we know that this had come to pass and that there was something amiss with Poseidon?" Xena questioned the Oracle.
"The subtle receding of the waters everywhere, would be the sign to look for." The Oracle responded. "However, one problem above all problems is, that no one knows where the Well resides but Poseidon. One cannot save that, which is unattainable!"
Xena and Gabrielle concluded their conversation with the Oracle. Thanked him and left a substantial offering for his well being in the form of many dinars. The last thing he told the two was; there, at the Temple of Poseidon was a secret chamber that held the possible whereabouts of the Well. This information would not be easily attainable nor would the location of Poseidon himself be, if in fact there had been some form of a curse placed upon him or his essence had been captured. This would take some doing to find these answers.
"The Temple stands beneath Athens on the end of the peninsula, near the village of Sounion." Cabriello explained as he waved farewell.
"We have a long journey ahead of us. Are you up to it?" Xena asked her confidant.
"Youre asking me if Im up to saving a god, the land and all the people from drought? OK!" Gabrielle messed with the Warrior like perhaps there was a choice to do nothing.
This was one of the rare times that Xena talked Gabrielle into riding her own horse. The Warrior found her a friendly sort that was smaller than Argo and a bit less feisty. The animal was black as night and was just over five winters old. They had a long three-day ride to get to the tip of the peninsula and with what they had discovered, there was no time to waste. Xena was only speculating that she and Gabrielle could even find the nature of the problem, let alone the solution as well but try they would.
They rode into Thessalyia to inform their friends of their plans and when it was all over they promised to return to the Amazon village. By that time they would need a well-earned rest. The duo would take the road that ran down the coast until they got to Mount Ossa, and then they would head inland to the town of Larisa. This was where they would spend the night, planning on an early wake up then on to the second leg of the journey. It was Xenas hope that they would be able to get as far as Livanates by the end of the next day.
Entering the village of Katahas, the Warrior and the Bard kept their eyes peeled for anything that gave way to the three warriors they were inadvertently trailing. Xena had it in the back of her mind that they might be on their way to the same destination but this was the village that Hetros had his run in with the three.
The two women stopped in a tavern on the far side of the village. Gabrielle was first to walk up to the bar and she ordered two ales. Xena followed and when the barkeep returned with the drinks, she drilled him about the three female warriors. When she described the big strawberry-blonde, he said, "Fallaria and her sidekick, Aedres. I forget what Aedress sisters name is but she was the other one. Real crazy, that Fallaria! Talkin some nonsense about helping to rid the land of water."
"How long ago did they leave?" Xena asked.
"Why should I tell you?" The barkeep snapped back.
Xena quickly hit him on both sides of his neck with her fingers ridged. "Wack!"
"You have about as long as it takes you to pray to figure out why you should talk to us or you wont be tending bar anymore. Ive cut the flow of blood off to your brain, so lets hear it!"
"They...left three candlemarks ..earlier."
"Where were they headed?" Xena questioned.
"Wack!" And she released him. "Next time be a little more sociable." Xena suggested.
They finished their mugs, walked out the door and heading south. Gabrielle and the Warrior continued along the way they had planned from the beginning. The urgency of the situation was pressuring the women to make haste, so they continued down the coast until they came close to Mount Ossa and then turned inland. Good weather helped in the traveling across country, making better time than they expected. They rode into the town of Larisa a candlemark after the sun had set. Both of them totally exhausted and the Bard with a tender backside, found lodging with a stable. They opted to skip a meal and went directly to bed.
The next morning, as they ate breakfast, they talked about making a quick stop by Aurislias place to freshen themselves and pick up some supplies. It was a good excuse to see how things were going with her new family and it was of course, right on the way to the temple. Xena gave the sign and they were on their feet and moving out the door.
"My best side is killing me, Xena! After this is over, Im a permanent walker. Do you hear me, Xena?"
The Bard moaned in a loud and pathetic voice.
"Yea, I hear you. Saddle up! We might be able to make Aurislias by tonight."
Xena thought back to when they first met the healer and she reflected. I sure had doubts about her intentions with Gabrielle but there had been so many others that seemed to try to split us apart that I was overly protective. Some of that was my own fear of losing what I thought I had no right to and that was happiness. She took Gabrielle shopping for a new outfit for our interlude that evening. I remember how nice I thought that was after Gabrielle had told me. They also went to pick up her supplies but they ended up helping a woman who was giving birth and that was why my Bard was late. That day, I gave my love the ankle bracelets and we still wear them, when were not doing this. Aurislia turned out to be a good and valued friend to both of us.
"Where are you at Xena? I keep talking but youre in your head. There looks to be trouble ahead!" The Bard scolded as Xena snapped out of her daydreaming.
Five warriors blocked the road and one who apparently thought he was in charge stood in front of the rest of them. He said, "Callisto sends her regards and wanted us to have you stick around awhile." As he pushed the point of his sword towards them to emphasize the word, stick!
"Are you ready to stretch those legs Gabrielle?" Xena mused aloud. She then did a forward flip out of her saddle with chakram in hand and careened it off of a tree and dropped the second man back. Sword pulled, she landed on the ground right in front of the warrior who was the mouthpiece and she sported a large smile, which only enraged the poor rube. He took the bait, swinging his sword wildly and the Warrior cut him down. A Callisto wannabe was next and gave Xena a pretty good going. By this time Gabrielle had made it off of the horse she affectionately named Pain, pulled her staff from the side of the saddle and commenced beating the two remaining warriors silly. The blonde Callisto look-a-like had some of the moves but not the insanity that made Callisto the lunatic she was. Xena cut her on the forearm and she pulled a dagger as she lost her sword, throwing it in the direction of Xena. She ran for her horse and the fear in her eyes said she would not be back today, anyway. The other two lay on the ground beaten to a pulp. Xena walked over to the one that still remained conscious and put the pinch on him saying, "You know the drill, if youre interested in seeing tomorrow, start talking. What is Callistos interest in all this?"
"She .said..to tell .you shes not .thirsty." The warrior struggled to say.
Xena frowned. "Anything, else?" Prompted the Warrior.
"She ..said that ..Blondies boyf riend .was running things .now."
"Dahok! By the gods, this could get ugly." And Xena released the man.
"Gabrielle, maybe .."
"No Xena! Im not going to sit this one out. You owe me for this sore backside and I owe Dahok!"
Mounting up, they continued on their way. The conversation was focused on Dahok and what they were going to do when they reached Poseidons Temple. Xena calculated they would run into much more resistance as they got closer to the solution and it was only a matter of time before Callisto would show up like a bad dinar. As the sky turned rose, orange and purple, they saw landmarks that told them they were getting close to Aurislias place. They were both tired and so were the horses. Everyone needed a good rest and depending on when they arrived and how much talking they did, they both agreed that they might get a little later start in the morning.
Xena and Gabrielle had returned to explain where they were going and why. They told their two friends that if and when things were right, the Warrior and their Queen would return to the Amazon village. Until that time, the Queen made Eponin promise to work on getting her health back and not to follow after them.
Eponin was a quick healer but it took two days to get back to where she was feeling good enough to travel.
The company she was keeping was a definite help in her healing process and Thia wanted to be as much help as she could be. The time spent together was a gift from the gods, for Thia wanted desperately to show Eponin how much she loved her.
When the two warriors felt that Eponin was ready to travel, they set out for the Amazon village. There was no hurry to get back but it was much better to be at home healing rather than in a place that had brought trouble to begin with. Eponin was sore and she looked a little rough but she told Thia that she was feeling good. They both were stealing glances at each other as they moved along the road and their minds were actively imagining what it would be like to be intimate with each other. The closest they came to intimacy was that time in the bath but things were just too disruptive to make it the emotional bonding between two lovers, as it should be.
The afternoon was very pleasant with the sun shining and the travelers made their way along the shore of Lake Koronia. Eponin looked over at Thia and just couldnt take thinking about it anymore, so she said, "I need to take a swim and cool down some Thia. How about you?"
Thia nodded, riding her horse over to some large bushes. She flipped the reins around a branch and Eponin mimicked her move. The two Amazons walked to the edge of the water and began removing their clothing. Thia was quicker than Eponin because she wasnt hurt and sore but she did not help the warrior either for she was not asked to. When the older woman was finished she turned and smiled at Thia then moved into the water, which was cool and refreshing. It took a little while to get comfortable but they both swam to loosen up and then they submerged, getting their hair wet, one at a time so the other could watch for trouble. After a time they moved back to where the water was shoulder high and faced each other, looking intently into each others eyes. Finally, Eponin questioned Thia, "What is it you want from me?"
"Uh, duh!" Aphrodite stood invisible to the lovers and mused to herself, "What do you think she wants from you?"
Thia moved into shallower water so she could use her hands to help her talk and thought for a moment, then she looked back at Eponin and pointed at her. Eponin did not understand by the wrinkling of her brow, so Thia moved next to her and touched her just below her left breast as she tried to mouth the words, "Ah wan yo haat!" Then she hung her head because she was embarrassed by her poor ability to talk.
Eponin gently lifted her head with a finger under the chin and brought their eyes to where they were peering into each other. "You have my heart Thia." Then she kissed the sandy blonde easy on the lips, as her lip was still split and hurt.
Thia began to cry those tears of joy because in her own heart she felt that she never deserved to have any happiness. She always pictured herself as the village freak, although Melosa and Ephiny had tutored and taught her about being proud of whom she was, her self-esteem had always been low.
"If you can say that much Thia, I bet with practice we can get you to learn how to speak. You might not really have a problem with speech. You might need someone to take some time with you and work on it. Id do that for you!" Eponin said as she moved closer toward Thia, reaching out and slipping her arm around the blondes waist. The seasoned warrior was making the move that Thia had dreamed about for many, many nights and now it was coming true. She stayed a little passive and let Eponin have the lead as their lips touched again and they both trembled at the contact with each other. Breasts rubbed gently against each other in the water as the two women lost reality in a deep and special kiss. Had someone been watching, they would have gotten a big laugh when both warriors returned to the real world. They both broke away simultaneously, looking around to see if anyone had moved up on them. It was time to leave the water.
Eponin looked at Thia and said, "I want to make love to you. Is that OK?"
"I just love it when they can do for themselves sometimes! Well, no need for me to hang around. They have everything well in hand!" Aphrodite chuckled to herself and vanished.
Thia nodded and a smile spread across her face as she turned red. The dark haired Amazon took both of their bedrolls and found a small clearing just a ways off of the road. This would allow them to hear anyone coming from either direction. Still naked, they both knelt down on the blankets and began to make love to each other. Thia was mad with passion as she pushed Eponin to the ground. In a blink, the warrior rolled her over quickly and took command being the leader type she was. She straddled the blondes waist, bent down, kissed and probed her lovers mouth with her tongue. Thias stomach was wet from Eponins arousal. She reached around her and rubbed the lithe womans mound, feeling its own moisture then slipping in a finger. She worked her lovers body by bringing her close to the edge then easing off. Eponin leaned forward again and slipped her tongue into Thias mouth. She then began to slide herself lower, sucking on each breast until she heard those soft moans of pleasure. Eponin continued downward, licking and kissing her way toward the honey that waited for her. Thia tore the blanket she pulled so hard on it as she came. She tried to pull the warrior from her center but she was too strong and she kept the vigil going until Thia came again. Eponin rolled over and was physically drained from the experience. Although she still was hurting, at this moment she was not hurting at all.
Polithius was the first to see them coming up the long path from the road. He didnt know right away to run and greet them or run back to the cottage to tell Aurislia. He opted to run to the cottage.
"Mom! Mom! Weve got company! Its Gabrielle and Xena!" The excited boy called out.
Aurislia came running up from the barn, drying her hands after watering the livestock. When she saw her friends approaching, her face lit up and she was excited with such a sight. "Checking up on me and the kids so soon?" Aurislia spoofed, then continued. "Why, its only been eight days. Did you forget something?"
"We wanted to see if they wore you out yet." Xena shot back.
"The thought crossed our minds to bring a wagon load of food with us, just to help out." Gabrielle got her dig in also.
"Actually, if you would have brought water, wed of gave you a bigger kiss than youre gonna get." The healer remarked.
Calsota came running across the field hollering, "Aunt Xena, Aunt Gabrielle!"
Following behind her was her little brother, Daeates. They both landed in each of the two womens arms. Everyone seemed to be doing just fine but Xena had to play the hunch, so she said, " Well, are you three ready to leave?"
The two little ones ran over to their new mother and clung. Polithius just said, "What?" And twisted his face into a knot.
"Just kidding! Just kidding, everyone! Anyway we cant stay long but we will stay the night." Xena said as she straightened out the faces of the kids she just worked up.
Theyre happy! Thats a good thing. Gabrielle mused.
"Well, let me put together a late snack for everyone. I made bread this morning and I have some with raisins in it also! Give me a little while and Ill have some cheese and other things out. If you two want a bath, Im sure we can set it up. Why dont you start a fire Polithius and get the water ready. Thank you son." Aurislia said, as she looked his way with kind eyes and a warm heart. She thanked the gods internally for the gift of a family again.
The boy went to the woodpile and brought back an armful of fuel. He started a fire out back where there were a couple of cauldrons set up for bath water. While Polithius was taking care of things, everyone else helped in the kitchen. They all sat around the table snacking and talking. Actually the children did most of the talking by sharing their stories of how things were going in the new surroundings. They also let Xena and Gabrielle know how much they loved their new mother and how well she showed them that her love was real for them too. It amazed Xena that everything was going so well. Of course, there were a few little problems as far as picking up after ones self and doing chores properly but no different than any other household.
After the two youngest children went to bed, Xena asked Aurislia if she had seen the three riders they felt were moving in this direction toward the peninsula. She said she had not, but there were four men and a female warrior that passed through late yesterday afternoon. Polithius had seen them pass by as he hid in the bushes near the road. He told his new mother about them, saying that they looked mean and evil. The woman had blonde hair and wore black leather.
Xena said, "What do you think, Gabrielle, were they that mean?"
"They were poor examples of good and wholesome and I dont think well be seeing them again." The Bard added between a chunk of cheese she was gnawing on.
Xena then told Aurislia what they had been told by the Oracle in Thessalyia. Gabrielle also shared their experiences regarding the lack of water that was showing up everywhere. The Warrior added a couple of examples of her own, then Aurislia reminded them both that the spring out back had dried up and they all looked at each other as they understood the seriousness of the situation.
The women explained to the healer that they were on their way to the Temple of Poseidon. There was a hidden cavity, as told by the Oracle, which held a message they believed would take them to Poseidons Well. When that much had been accomplished, Xena and Gabrielle would move onward in the direction they were guided to go.
The bath water was poured before Polithius went to bed. The tub was small so they took turns getting cleaned up but it sure felt good after two days of riding. Gabrielle soaked her weary bones the longest. The tired Bard started to fall asleep, so Xena shook her and had her get out of the tub before she shrunk down to nothing. Xena took her turn after warming up the tub with hot water and by the time she crawled into bed, the Bard was out for the night and the Warrior was right behind her.
Sunrise found Xena working in the barn, once again helping with the morning chores of feeding and watering the livestock. Everyone joined in and when they were finished, went up to the cottage for a good breakfast followed by some teary farewells. The Bard and the Warrior knew that they needed to get moving if they were not going to lose anymore time. They might have been a day behind from where they could have been, if they had pushed through without the stopover but it didnt pay to be exhausted when they arrived at the temple or to have their senses dulled by fatigue.
They followed the road from Thiva to Mandra then along the coast through Pireas. When Xena reached the Port of Glidafa, Gabrielle suggested stopping to rest for the night. It had rained on and off a good portion of the day and made traveling miserable. They both had a chill and it wasnt going to hurt them to stop for they were getting close to their destination.
The Bard and the Warrior had been to Glidafa within the last moon and several times before that over the last twelve moons. They decided to stay in a place that was familiar to them, giving them a good comfort level. The Calm Waters Inn had been a great place on several occasions and although this wasnt a pleasure trip, they were comfortable with the proprietor whose name was Jena. She was an ugly woman with a heart of gold. Her face had seen too many barroom brawls and aging had not been kind to her but even the most twisted of trunks bares a sweet apple and truly she was sweet.
A room was given to them out of friendship and there would be no arguing about it. Jena had her right hand man put Argo up in a stall and made sure she was well taken care of and fed. After they had dropped their things off in the room the two guests ate, talked briefly, went back up to the room and drifted off to sleep as the rain came down.
A couple candlemarks after Xena and Gabrielle had gone to sleep, Xenas eyes opened, she felt the bed next to her and it was empty. The Warrior jumped up quickly to find Gabrielle looking out the window at the moon.
"Whats the matter honey?" Xena asked as she put her hand on the Bards shoulder.
"I had a dream Xena. I dreamt that we were going to have a very difficult time in the next couple of days. It felt as if we would be very close to death but things werent really clear and then I awoke because it felt like my throat was closing. I was begging for water. It was awful!" The Bard said as she turned her gaze to Xenas eyes.
"Please hold me Xena. I need you to make love with me. I have a strange feeling this might be our last time together." Gabrielle finished in an eerie way.
"Oh my Bard, you worry too much. The gods will help us. Come sit on the bed with me." Xena told her lover. "Do you know how much you mean to me Gabrielle? I would give up my life to save yours. That is how important you are to me. I love you all the time, not just when its convenient but through the storms, as well as the sunny days we share." Then she put her arm around the blonde beauty and their lips touched easy. Tongues searched each other out and mingled somewhere in the middle. They separated, looking at each other and tears flowed down Gabrielles cheeks, which told Xena how truly bothered the Bard was by what she dreamt.
"Dont worry my love!" Xena soothed her.
Gabrielle returned to the lips that loved her and the passion began to take over, as their hands explored familiar terrain. The tenderness in their approach to each other was only enhanced by the delicate touch that was used on each other. Xena ran her tongue along the nape of her lovers neck, placing little kisses as she moved along to the sound of genuine pleasure as the Bard moaned softly. Gabrielle responded by sliding her hand between Xenas legs as they reclined on the bed. The Bard broke free and engulfed a taunt nipple with her warm mouth and nibbled easy on the raised flesh with her teeth and lips. She pulled as much of the breast into her mouth as she could and in her hunger broke the suction, making a noise. The two women each giggled a little then returned to the poetic art of making love.
There was a glistening to both of their bodies under the moons glow, as a light perspiration was brought to the surface of the skin. Their centers flowed with a wanting that needed to be attended to and the Bard would not be denied. She moved along Xena like a slow wind through the branches of a tree, making the Warrior sway at the touch of her lips. That place between her naval and her mound was not neglected but rather caressed by the Bards gentle kisses until Xenas hands guided Gabrielles head to that place where only she was allowed.
"Mmmmmm! Ohhhh! Thats it my love .no! Dont stop, please!!!" The Warrior begged as she held one hand lightly on her lovers head.
Xena was flowing with passion and her tolerance level was gone as she climaxed once but Gabrielle was relentless, continuing on and bringing the Warrior to her peak again. The taste of her lover had driven her on. This was the body that had more than several times, saved her from destruction and kept her out of harms way. She had watched Xenas muscles ripple as she fought for her, so having her enjoying these pleasures only heightened the experience, knowing that she was giving back to the woman she loved so deeply.
Xena pulled Gabrielle up to her and they held each other while their hearts returned to a normal rhythm. "There can never be another who would make me feel the way you do." Xena told her love. "You and you alone have the power to crush my heart. Do you know that?"
"I know that I love you as much as you have described your love for me! Now, dont let me beg you." And the Bard rolled onto her back and spread her legs slightly.
Xena looked at her wickedly and began to lap at her breasts with long licks of her tongue over each nipple as she worked her hand down the Bards stomach to her mound. The Warrior worked her finger back and forth over her nerve center and then inside. As Gabrielle opened wider, her blue-eyed lover worked those fingers between the folds until she could wait no longer to taste her Bards essence. Xena took long strides with her tongue through the swollen opening and up to the pulsating place that waited impatiently for attention. Gabrielle screamed as her body trembled over and over again.
Finally she said, "Rest! Rest please."
The two soulmates curled up and slept the remainder of the night away.
Xena shook the Bard by the shoulder and said, "Time for some breakfast, sleepyhead!"
That was all it took to get the eyes to open and a half of candlemark later, they were in the large hall downstairs getting a table for two. They didnt waste a lot of time eating because they wanted to arrive at the temple fairly early. Jena gave them hugs goodbye and they started out the door of the inn.
Hetros, the traveling actor that they had met one morning way up in Thessalyia had just gotten off of his horse and was walking up the steps of the inn when he spotted Xena leaving with Gabrielle. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the Callisto wannabe come running with dagger held high. Other people moving through the double doorway blocked Xenas view and just as the assassin struck her blow at the Warrior, Hetros ran in front of Xena, taking the knife in the shoulder. The blonde warrior pulled a second knife but Xena had her blade in hand and finished what had been left incomplete on the road.
"Dear friends, Im punctured." He said, as Hetros fainted.
"Why did you did you do this for me?" Xena asked the fallen actor.
"I saw what was about to happen and I acted like I was brave." Hetros replied.
"Thank you, my friend." Xena told him as she held his hand.
"He saved my life, Gabrielle. I was pretty hard on him the first time we met. I feel awful."
Xena paid Jena to make sure all his needs were met and she promised to look in on him, on their way back home. There were clear skies as they rode out of town and Gabrielle complained about the cursed animal under her. Never would she ride again if they made it through this.
When they reached the village of Sounion Xena and Gabrielle camped outside of it, so they would not draw a lot of attention to themselves. They rode up to the area where the temple stood but tied the horses a pretty good distance down the road, walking the remainder of the way to surprise anyone that might have gotten there ahead of them.
The Temple of Poseidon was high on a plateau near the cliffs overlooking the sea. Within the Temple were a main altar and several smaller altars around the interior. There was an enormous statue of the god in the center of the temple that would intimidate anyone who walked up to it. Xena explored every possible place that there might be a secret passageway or hidden room but she could not find anything. Gabrielle also seemed to be coming up empty handed until out of boredom, she took her staff and started tapping on the upper walls and the altars. She finally poked around on the statue of Poseidon, striking him in the navel and it was depressed about half the length of a thumb. There was a loud sound of grinding stone against stone as one of the smaller altars moved the distance of three paces, revealing an entrance below the floor of the temple.
Xena lit a torch that she took from the wall and looked down to make sure that it wasnt set up as a trap. When she was convinced that it was OK, she lowered herself into the opening and the Bard followed after. They moved down a long corridor and then they went one level lower down a stone ladder, which ended in a large room.
Inside the room was a large silver and gold bowl that measured twelve hands across and stood on a stone pedestal. It was filled with water and when Xena looked into it, her own reflection stared back at her. In the four corners of the room were gold statues of the shark, the whale, the dolphin and the squid. Xena wondered, Perhaps it represents the two sides of the great seas. Creatures, known by mortals to be good and evil, living together in the same surroundings.
The Warrior studied the room from top to bottom, looking for some clue as to what she was supposed to do next. Stumped and out of ideas she sat down on the edge of the two steps that led to the tureen of water. Gabrielle was very quiet all the while Xena was exploring and finally said, "Maybe its the dolphin because it always appears to be on a higher plane with man than any other creatures of the sea."
Xena looked up at the Bard and said, "Why not? I havent a clue right now. See what you can find."
Gabrielle placed her staff on the floor of the hidden chamber and walked to the statue. She closed her eyes and ran her hands lightly over the surface of the reproduction of the dolphin. She let her inner being guide her to the secret and her hand found the dorsal fin. It slid forward revealing a slot that was finger wide and a hand long. When the fin retracted a large medallion rose from the opening and on it was a map. At the same time, the water in the tureen began to boil and Poseidon appeared to them both as a reflection in the water. Poseidons message was, "To you who embarks on this journey, I bid you great speed for I am trapped in a place where water is uncommon and I am too weak to fight. To save me, is to save the lands from drought and all mortals from extinction. Look for the throat of the dragon. It is there you will ." And the image faded before he finished.
The two women found themselves staring at their own reflection in the water. They returned their focus on the treasure that Gabrielle held. The medallion was a one hand round and just less than a finger wide. It was made out of gold and the map was inlayed in silver, with a sapphire giving reference to Poseidons Well. The other side of the medallion had the image of a drop of water. Gabrielle handed it to Xena for her to inspect it, then the Warrior had Gabrielle place it in her leather bag for safe keeping.
They got what they came for with minimum effort and that bothered the Warrior to a degree. It also kept her on edge for anything that might come their way. When they returned to the surface of the temple, Xena told the Bard to try her staff again on Poseidons middle. The Bard pushed against the navel and the altar returned to its original position.
They came outside and the sea was dead calm, as if its heart had been removed. It was also one league lower than normal. They purchased a single sail boat from the village fisherman and set out towards the island of Astypalea. The fisherman was kind enough to put up the horses while they were gone and then Xena didnt have to keep them in the village, as he had a place for small boat building down on the beach. At first there was much rowing for the sea was still in a strange way. Several candlemarks later the wind picked up and the two searchers made use of the sail. They stopped at a beach landing to stretch their legs for a short break and to relieve themselves, then continued on.
They reached the island of Astypalea and moved the boat around the shoreline, searching for the hidden entrance. Only low tide would give access to the portal and Xena was sure they had not missed their mark or time of day. As they rounded some large rock formations, they noticed a small narrow hole that was partially blocked from view by the rolling sea. This had to be the throat of the dragon that Poseidon talked about. One could almost see the teeth as they got closer, in the form of the jagged opening they needed to enter.
"Gabrielle, turn the rudder. Were going in." Xena directed.
"Were going in there Xena? It doesnt look like enough room."
"There will have to be." The Warrior replied. The boat turned towards the island and Xena dropped the sail, then manned the oars. She pulled hard as they fought against the undertow out to sea. They were very close to the orifice and the waves were treacherous, crashing against the rocky shore of high cliffs.
Timing was everything and they glided into the opening, as if it were receptive to their needs. The water calmed itself inside the long passage and it became another world. Few if any had ever gained admittance to the throat of the dragon. Xena and Gabrielle were seeing sights that were virgin to mortals. The passage was lined with brilliance that was created by some type of phosphorescence, there was also an enhancement in the form of the large jewels that were embedded in the volcanic rock overhead and to either side. Xena believed that this was a distraction for the greedy, who would eventually be drowned in the tunnel by staying too long and being caught by the tide. There was also an abundance of seaweed hanging from the ceiling of the passage that dragged across the pair as the boat moved through the waterway.
The lighting changed up ahead and it seemed to become more natural from where the passage opened into a large cavern. There must have been some openings to the outside but unreachable from in here. Poseidons Well would be close at hand and that might mean the possibility of additional danger. The water began to swirl into a maelstrom after the passage ended and the chamber opened up. The draw was tremendous and Xena screamed at Gabrielle over the roar of the water that was going down. "Were going to lose the boat. We have to jump over to the rock ledge or get sucked under."
As the boat spun into the vortex, it broke away for an instant and they both jumped. When they landed on the floor of the cave and turned around toward the water, the boat was gone. Behind the duo was a honeycomb of cave entrances and only one would bring them to the Well. Xena asked the Bard if she was all right.
"Im OK Xena, just a scrape or two. Now what do we do we do? We do not have boat and it looks like no clue either." Gabrielle whined a little.
Xena had that intense look in her eyes, like she knew something was going to happen soon. Looking into the six tunnel entrances the Warrior had to make a choice and she did as she said to Gabrielle, "Come on, lets go see what we can find."
Moving into the second opening they were immediately attacked by Fallaria and her partner Aedres. The big strawberry blonde tried crushing Xena with a very large rock as it crashed into the wall of the cave but missed due to some quick maneuverability on the Warriors part. Gabrielle fought Aedres hard, sword against staff. The Bard was losing ground, being backed up to the waters edge. This would be certain death if she lost her footing, falling or being shoved into the vortex. Gabrielle swung her staff by its end, knocking Aedress feet from beneath her. Then rolling forward, the Bard turned around and shoving her staff into her attackers chest when she stood drove Aedres backward into the swirling water, disappearing forever.
Behind the Bard, was the sound of metal on metal, blade striking blade.
"Im gonna kill you Warrior! Then Im gonna kill that Queen sidekick of yours. I should have killed that witch that shoved me back in Thessalyia but I was feeling charitable that night." The enraged woman swore with an added touch of cynicism.
Her blade missed Xena by only inches, as it struck a rock and split it in half. The Warrior countered and her enemy blocked the blow. Xena punched her in the face, which only enraged her and she swung her sword wildly at the Warrior. Xena landed two more shots to the nose, drawing blood. Fallaria threw her sword with all her might at the Warrior but she stepped back and stumbled over some rocks as the blade flew by and stuck in the gravel behind her. Xenas opponent took the advantage to pick up another large rock and as she tried crushing the life out of her, the Warrior sunk her sword into Fallaria and said, "Eponin says goodbye." As she looked right into her attackers eyes.
Gabrielle was standing behind Fallaria with a large rock in her hands but she dropped it on the ground when she saw that Xena had taken control and finished her off.
Apparently, the Warrior and her Bard were on the right track. Fallaria was looking for something more than just a fight and Xena was willing to bet that these adversaries were working for Callisto or worse. Her interest in what was to be gained in this entrance to the unknown needed to be discovered quickly. The two continued down the second tunnel, to see if the couple of thugs they had just encountered had discovered anything. When they came to the other end, the tunnel emptied into a large cavern that was illuminated by the silver veins that ran through the cavern walls and ceiling. In the center of the cavern, the floor had a large opening and Xena could see handholds cut into the rock in order for someone to be able to climb down.
Gabrielle gave Xena the empty waterskin that she had carried with her and the Warrior gave her a quick kiss and headed down the opening. She was not even sure that this hole held the secret they were looking for. All indications seemed to lead them here and the trip down to the bottom was slow and tedious. Xena thought she could hear water and when she took her next step down, she found herself on a small landing.
From here, there appeared to be nowhere to go. The drop below would kill anyone including the Warrior. Xena studied her surroundings and tried to see another way down but nothing was visible. She hung from the ledge to see if she could locate any means to move lower and Xena felt a breeze on the front of her legs. This told her that there might be a cave beneath the ledge she was on. Pulling herself up, she lay on her stomach and tried to see if she was right by hanging over the edge but the ledge was too thick.
"Whats going on Xena? Are you all right?" The Bard questioned with worry in her voice.
"Yes! Im OK, just looking for the best approach." Xena replied.
Xena centered herself on the ledge with her back toward the abyss. She knelt and hung once again from the rock platform. Dear gods, guide my hands. The Warrior thought as she let go and began to fall about the height of a horse then caught the second ledge she was hoping for, pulling herself up. She was at the entrance to a tunnel and could hear the water more clearly than before. Moving cautiously forward for a ways the blue-eyed beauty guarded her steps. The well was just a few paces ahead from what she could see, for the light was faint. Taking the top off of the waterskin, Xena held it beneath the surface of the water and filled it up. When that was complete, she went back to where she had entered to alert the Bard.
"Are you all right, Xena?" Gabrielle asked with concern as she called down to her.
Xena leaned her head out of the entrance and called up to Gabrielle, "Ive got it but I have to come back up a different way. Stay still, Ill be there soon."
The Warrior moved deeper into the tunnel and the path was slowly rising but the light was fading. Onward she went and the tunnel ended abruptly into a solid wall. Xena jumped up and grabbed a ledge with her hands and tried to pull herself up but there was nowhere to go up. She tried to shimmy to the right and found a way to move along the ledge. After several tries, the Warrior finally found the spot where she could go up. After pulling herself up to the next landing, she continued up the tunnel and came out into a large cave. The tunnel ended and there was a significant drop to the floor below. Xena hung from the edge and dropped down right next to Gabrielle.
"Hi!" Xena said.
"Hi? You scare the blonde right out of my hair and all you can say is hi?" Gabrielle huffed as she tried to regain her composure.
"Lets go, I got the water." Xena said with a bit of confidence in her voice.
"Go where? We dont have a boat." The Bard whined.
"Oh yes we do!" The Warrior assured her friend. Then she headed down the forth tunnel and grabbed the torch that waited on the wall for them, lit it and headed down the true Throat of the Dragon. It could only be seen from where Xena exited the tunnel that was up above the large cavern that had the vortex in it. When she was up there above Gabrielle, she could see across the cave and noticed that the forth entrance had the dragons head.
"Poseidon wasnt telling us how to get in to this place, he was trying to tell us how to get out!" Xena explained to the Bard.
Sure enough, as they reach the end of the tunnel, it opened to an underground lagoon. You could see the daylight coming from the outside but in order to leave they were going to have to swim out under water. There didnt look to be much of a choice, so they entered the water and swam for the light. When they reached the end of the lagoon they dove under the water, leaving the cave and came up on the outside of the island. When Xena broke the surface, her first thoughts were for Gabrielle and looked around until the Bard popped up. The Warrior grabbed her arm and swam over to what appeared to be the entrance to another cave. As they both got to solid ground, what they found was an alcove with a boat in it. The boat was actually on a stone shelf of sorts, to prevent rotting and was placed far enough back in from the elements to prevent any storm damage. The sail was in poor shape from age but the boat floated when they got it into the water.
Xena manned the oars and got the two of them away from Astypalea Island as they worked their way back to the mainland by rowing from island to island. They were both still very much alive and they had what it would take to restore Poseidon. What they did not know was where to look but Xena did have an idea who might know the answer to that question. Poseidons internment had to be near but from what the two women knew, he was being held in a subterranean desert and that would be difficult to locate. Given enough time, the Warrior felt that Gabrielle and her would prevail, however, there wasnt much time.
Several candlemarks after they left the Island of Astypalea, the Warrior and the Bard set foot on the mainland. When they went back to the fisherman to retrieve their horses, Gabrielles horse was dead and Argo was not to be found. They went to the fishermans hut after checking his small barn where they found the dead horse and they found him with his throat slit.
"This has the look of Callisto. If she was here then she cant be far away." Xena told Gabrielle in a half whisper.
Callisto materialized in the doorway and said, "Thats right Xena! I know something you dont know! And Im not going to tell you. Haaaa! Haa!"
And she threw a fireball that the two women dodged by leaping through the window and out on the beach as the fishermans hut exploded into flames.
Gabrielle could not contain her anger and said, "I hate that bitch! Why did she have to kill that horse? The only harm it ever did was to my bottom and that really wasnt his fault. Someday Callisto you and me. I still owe you."
Xena knew that Callisto had to have some of her old followers around just so she had something to kick now and then. Her idea was to check the beach for tracks and to see if they led anywhere. The thought of Perdicus crossed both the minds of Gabrielle and Xena, of how the blonde lunatic took his life for nothing. Callistos path of destruction ran long and wide and there was some things that could not be forgiven. There would be an opportunity to at least upset her day. Being a god still could have its downside.
Xena began to think, If Callisto is still here then we must be pretty close.
"Gabrielle, lets scout down the beach for Argo, she cant be too far away."
"OK, Xena but Im gonna get Callisto." The Bard said with deep anger.
"Let it go for now, you wont be thinking right if we run into trouble." Xena reminded her friend.
Not too long after Xena whistled for her horse, Argo showed up unharmed. They saddled her, then Xena had the Bard take a leg up and ride for awhile as they looked around for some sign of Callistos whereabouts. As they came farther down the beach, Xena noticed something out of place. They must have traveled at least a league past Poseidons Temple. She dropped the Bard off and scouted a little further. There were several large tree branches near the rocks at the base of the cliff but there were no trees. It looked like a few riders had rode along the beach and just disappeared when the neared the cliffs. Xena let Argo free on the beach in case of trouble and led the way, with Gabrielle several paces behind her.
As they rounded the rocks they came upon another quite large cave. Xena wasnt exactly happy but she entered the cave with the waterskin in her left hand and her sword in her right. The cave was wide and open; looking very safe until Callisto came out of the rocks.
"You found me, Xena! Using the branches to wipe out our horse tracks didnt fool the Warrior Princess, now did it." Callisto mocked the Warrior.
"Let me have her!" The Bard said, running in her direction.
"No! Gabrielle, let me." And Xena did a forward flip twice and landed in front of Callisto as the sand started sucking the Warrior under. When her arms went out to her sides in a reaction to stop her downward progress, Callisto relieved the Warrior of the waterskin. Xena slipped quickly as the soft sand sucked her down to her apparent death.
"Turn around is such a bitch, Xeeeeena!" Callisto laughed.
Gabrielle shouted, "Nooo!" Diving into the sand following Xena down but not before she snatched the waterskin from Callistos hand.
In the flick of a candles flame, the Warrior and the Bard dropped through the sand into a lower chamber that appeared to be as far as the eye could see. It was all sand with very little else. Xena shook Gabrielle to get the sand out of her hair and eyes.
"Aaeeeee! I hate them both! Theyre going to ruin this for me!" Callisto screamed, as the two women disappeared into the sand.
Ares materialized across from Callisto and blasted her with a fireball and then another.
"Youre messing around with my protégé Callisto and Ive put too much work into getting her to come back to me." Ares yelled at the goddess.
"Aaeeeeee!" She screamed as she shot a fireball back at him but missed her target.
"Leave her and that irritating blonde screw this up on their own. Xena will try to save her friend and never restore Poseidon." Ares said encouragingly.
"Are you all right Gabrielle?" Xena asked concerned.
"Im OK but I could use a drink of water." The Bard said as she looked around. "By the way, Ive got the waterskin!" And she pulled it out of the sand and from under her butt to show Xena.
"By the gods, I love you Gabrielle!"
"Just cuz I got the water?" The Bard chuckled to lighten up a grim situation.
"Listen my friend. This has to be Dahoks Desert and if we dont die searching, we should be able to revive Poseidon. We need to find where he is being held." The Warrior told her companion.
They got to their feet and staying together started searching for something that looked like a holding place for the god of the sea. Walking for a candlemark in each direction brought them no closer to the end of the journey. The overwhelming temptation to drink from the waterskin in hope of quenching their thirst superceded the thought of even becoming a demigod. In their understanding, much time had passed by but in reality, life on the surface had moved but a quarter candlemark. Their time was running out for both of the women but Gabrielle was failing faster than Xena.
"My love keep..going ..This is .for every .ones ..sake. I love ..you." The Bard said as she collapsed in the sand.
Xena tried to carry her but she was too weak herself at this point. She thought she was seeing things but moved forward anyway toward a silver object in the sand. As Xena got closer, lightening started to shoot across the dark ceiling of this enormous place. The Warrior knew that nothing mattered but the end result and she dragged her body onward, ever closer to the silver sphere. She got her hand on top and the pressure of her hand opened the top exposing a basin similar to the one in Poseidons Temple except this one had but a few drops of moisture remaining. Xena lay on her back close to passing out from the intense heat, opened the spout on the waterskin and began to pour the precious fluid into the basin.
When the water mixed with the little moisture that was left in the bottom of the basin, it began to fill, then overflow and continue to run across the sands. It began to shoot up into the air and when Xena got a mouthful, she got to her feet and started to run back to Gabrielle.
Callisto hit Ares this time with a fireball and knocked him out of the cave onto the beach. She followed him out to continue the disagreement and that is what he wanted. He thought, what good is a god of war if there are no mortals left to fight with each other? Callisto is blinded by hatred that goes far beyond today into yesterday and that is an undying thirst to cause Xena pain. This will distract her long enough for Xena to win and Dahok will be put back a step.
The rage between the two immortals was stupendous, as fireball after fireball was thrown in both directions, some hitting there mark, others missing and tearing up the shoreline.
Callisto turned toward the mouth of the cave when she heard the rumbling. As she faced the opening she was hit with a blast of water as high as two horses and as wide as a ship is long. All she could do is scream, "Xeeeenaaa!" As the water drove her into the sea.
Ares, with his arms folded, smiled smugly and vaporized into thin air.
Everywhere the rivers began to gradually rise, returning to their original levels. The seas began to come back and it was as if new life returned to those bodies of water. Streams that had dried up completely began again as a trickle, the flow increased and the wildlife came to nourish themselves. Polithius came running up to the barn and shouted, "Mom, the spring is alive again!"
Xena had almost made contact with Gabrielle when the rushing waters knocked her off her feet. She tumbled over and over in the turbulent water, along with Gabrielle. Every so often at the moments passed a quick glimpse of a leg or an arm would pass, as they seemed to be pushed forward and upward at the same time. Partially conscious of what was happening the Warrior and the Bard each felt they were being lifted high and their bodies broke free from the waters. They were in the hand of Poseidon as he lifted them to the top of the cliffs that held his temple. Setting them gently on the ground, he called the Warriors name, "Xena! Xena of Amphipolis!"
Xena and Gabrielle both came to, coughing up water until they had their wits about them.
"Xena, you and Gabrielle, at the risk of your own lives have done me a great service. You have restored me to god of the seas and in that action, you have restored the lands waters. There is no reason for the gods without the mortals. I am and shall remain grateful." And as quickly as he finished speaking, his manifestation returned to the sea and dissipated into the waters.
Xena turned to her love and asked, "Are you all right Gabrielle?"
"Yes, Xena. A little waterlogged but Ill be fine."
"Theres a rider approaching. She looks like a warrior." The blue-eyed woman remarked.
"A very well dressed warrior, I might add." The Bard indulged.
Riding up to Xena and Gabrielle, the woman got off of her horse and brought her waterskin over two the adventurers as she said, "Would you care for a drink of water?"
"A candlemark ago I would have kissed you for asking that question but to be perfectly honest, I think weve had enough, noble warrior!" Xena said as she got to her feet, helping the Bard up also.
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