After a casual lunch, a group convened in the council hut to finalize the plans for their offensive against Gael. They decided that they would travel further north than the village where they figured that Gael might have left soldiers waiting for their return. They would attack on two fronts, from the north and the east, hopefully driving the warlord deeper into the valley, to be trapped by the canyon in the southern end and the mountains to the west.

Gabrielle had already sent scrolls to several villages that were along the way, briefly describing the situation and asking for volunteers to join their effort in defending the Nation. They expected conservatively thirty warriors to meet with them by the time they circled north of Gael and set their camp.

They would leave the village in the morning and travel easy, making their way in the week that it should, and not the few days that Arna's group had taken. The slower travel would enable those of Garalis' warriors who were accompanying them, to recover from their minor injuries and fatigue.

Solari would stay behind in the village (after much futile pleading with Eponin to trade places) to keep an eye on things, as well as those of the refugees who were still too wounded to travel. Eponin had promised the Amazon that she would definitely be the one to go on the next campaign, while the Weaponsmaster would stay behind to twiddle her thumbs in boredom.

Gabrielle had won an easy argument with Xena to allow her to go. Even though the bard would not be joining the battle, the warrior admitted to herself that she would need her lover there to bring her back from the dark abyss that her soul fell into after such an exercise.

After her own personal victory, the bard had written a list of things she would need for the camp's infirmary where she would wait until the battle was over.

Although not an Amazon, Wolf had asked to go with them and defend the honor of the Nation. She was, after all, following three of the most important people in her life, and she wanted to be there to make sure that none of them were killed. Even though she had told Gabrielle that she would fight in her human form, she had no objections to shifting if it meant the life of one of those she loved.

Eponin had met the news with a tender kiss, relieved that she would not be separated from the demi-god who meant so much to her. She had laughed at the breathless state in which the small gesture had left her. The Amazon shuddered at the prospect of their first joining. It would be explosive considering that the both of them were so worked up that they had trouble being around each other without the possibility of mutual ravishment. The warrior reflected that never, even when she had first discovered the raptures of sexual fulfillment, had she pleasured herself so often just to take the edge off her need.

After the meeting was concluded Ephiny and Eponin left to organize a provisions detail and the women of Garalis went to visit their wounded sisters in the infirmary.

Xena walked out of the council hut with a shorter woman on either side, her long arms each wrapped around a set of shoulders. They made an impression on those who observed. The dark Warrior Princess, former Destroyer of Nations, intimidating with merely a glance; the Queen, who had begun her life as a simple village girl and was a warrior in her own gentle way, who traveled with her lover to the farthest corners of the known world; and the demi-god who was a powerful force of muscle and energy, the one who was surrounded by an aura of blue light to those who were touched with the gift of sight.

The three women made their way to the temple where the Queen asked for Artemis' blessing on the military venture that would help the Amazons reclaim what was theirs. With a heartfelt plea, she entreated the goddess personally to help her guide her warrior, to lead her out of the darkness that engulfed the ex-warlord whenever she had to lose herself to battlelust.

After Wolf took a moment of her own to ask for the goddess' favor for when she rode onto the battlefield, the three friends separated.

Gabrielle went to find Ephiny to see how the provision detail was faring, and the two warriors left to fulfill a mutual wish to test their skills against each other.

Gabrielle willed away the bit of worry that nibbled at her gut. She knew that they would be careful when they sparred against each other, but she had to consider the fact that both of them just enjoyed it too damn much. Which might, just might, lead to a bit more aggression than was necessary. She said another prayer in passing, that the two women would remember that the real battle lay to the north, and not with each other on a friendly field.


When Gabrielle caught up with the Regent, things were going smoothly. The two carts that would carry their camp supplies were steadily being filled. Gabrielle hid a grin behind her hand when she saw Eponin failing miserably at her pretense of overseeing the job. The Amazon warrior's eyes drifted expectantly over the compound every so often, as she nodded absently at her charges' choices of provisions.

"You knew all along, didn't you?"

The Queen turned to her Regent and shrugged. "Not until I saw the way that they looked at each other in the baths," Gabrielle admitted. She chuckled when she remembered the awkward beginnings of her intimate relationship with Xena. "They reminded me of how Xena and I used to be."

"Just a little more violent, though, right?"

Gabrielle waved off the flicker of worry that crossed Ephiny's face. "I only hit Xena a couple of times. Our courtship was more of a battle of wills than weapons."

Ephiny's face registered the shock. Someone had hit the Warrior Princess and gotten away with it? But then again, she surmised, they had it bad for each other for so long. The Queen's death in Thessaly and the warrior's reaction had brought it all into focus. When Xena had died, Gabrielle, who was still a princess at the time, had been miserably forlorn. They were true soulmates, if she had ever seen a pair, Ephiny thought with a tinge of awe.

Then she looked to her second-in-command, her friend since they were children. Eponin had had her share of lovers in the past, but ever since she had met Wolf, she had been preoccupied by no one else. It would be good to see the warrior settle down, she thought. "Think we ought to let her go," the Amazon asked.

Gabrielle studied Eponin as the warrior directed one of the young Amazons. "Sure, why not? We can finish here."

With a mischievous grin, the Queen moved to sneak up behind the Weaponsmaster. Standing on her toes to reach an ear, she whispered, "Wolf's on the practice field."

The Amazon warrior spun on her heel and blushed. "I...she...," she began to sputter.

The Queen patted her arm in mock sympathy. "I understand, Ep. Ephiny and I can handle this. Why don't you go to her?"

Eponin glanced at Ephiny who nodded her agreement. Before the Regent had even dropped her head a second time, the love-struck Amazon was running across the compound.

"Love," Ephiny sighed, rolling her eyes.

"Yeah," Gabrielle returned, her mind wandering to a certain dark warrior who held her heart.

The Amazon looked at the Queen and rolled her eyes again. "Come on, let's see how bad it is," she encouraged, pulling at her friend's arm. Silently, she said a prayer to Artemis that she would find the light in her heart again, the one that had died with Phantes.


Eponin stopped dead in her tracks when she reached the practice field. She was awed by the spectacular display of the two friends exercising with their blades. It was obvious from the exhibition that Wolf had been taking it easy on her when they had sparred with swords earlier. Against Xena, though, the small warrior was able to test herself without restrictions.

While the Warrior Princess used her strength and height to her advantage, Wolf used her speed and dexterity. Her twin swords easily deflected every blow, her body ducked and contorted to avoid punches and kicks. When Wolf went on the offensive, she managed to back Xena up into an awkward defense, using her twin blades to keep the tall warrior occupied. Xena was unprepared when the small warrior dropped into a split.

Tucking her blade along the length of her arm, Wolf punched the inside of the tall warrior's thigh. She heard the tall warrior's grunt of discomfort and smiled slightly with satisfaction. Rolling back into a tuck, she again stood at the ready.

Xena grinned wildly and approached the small warrior cautiously. With a savage show of teeth, she attacked. Even with the agonizing cramp that caused her to limp, the tall warrior was able to shower the demi-god with blows that were beginning to test the smaller woman's endurance. When Wolf's grip on her weapon slipped, Xena smiled in victory.

Wolf cursed the sweat that caused her to lose her grip on her sword. The curse turned into a silent groan a moment before Xena made contact. The flat of the tall warrior's broadsword struck her wrist and caused her to drop her weapon all together. Tucking into another roll, she avoided the finishing stroke.

Nodding her head to acknowledge her friend's skill, Xena approached, aware that even with only one sword at the ready, the small woman had many weapons at her disposal. She studied her opponent's eyes, waiting for the flicker, the twitch that would betray her next move. To the tall warrior's dismay, Wolf's gaze was unwavering, as if she were made of granite. She was momentarily surprised when the demi-god threw her sword into the air.

When Xena was distracted by the unexpected move, Wolf took the opportunity to launch herself into a somersault over her mentor's head. Pulling a dagger from her boot, she pressed it against the tender flesh of the tall warrior's neck. "Yield?"

Considering her options in the split second that it took Wolf to blink, Xena grabbed the woman's wrist. She had been surprised by the somersault, but Wolf had not considered the negative aspect of her current strategy. With a growl, Xena threw the woman over her shoulder.

Already off-balance because of the way she was standing on her toes to reach the taller warrior's throat, Wolf was unable to counter the move and reminded herself to relax the second before her body impacted the hard dirt. When she opened her eyes, her gaze followed the length of blade that was pressed against her throat. "Hi."

"Yield?" Even though Xena sounded like she was not going to take any other answer other than an affirmative one, there was a hopeful glint in her eyes that begged for Wolf to continue.

Sparing a look to her lover who was pale with apprehension, the demi-god looked into blue eyes that reflected the sunlight glinting off her sword. Wolf considered her options. She could give up and let Xena have her victory, or she could try and counter the blade at her throat. But then again, she thought, she didn't want Eponin to have to see all the blood. After a moment's hesitation, she replied, "Yep." She smiled at her lover's sigh of relief when Xena stepped away and lowered her sword to rest the point in the dirt.

The tall warrior grasped the smaller woman's hand and pulled her to her feet. "That was better than I would have thought, Wolf."

The demi-god grinned and rubbed her smarting wrist. "Yeah, it was fun," she admitted, walking next to the tall warrior who was still limping slightly.

"Where did you learn to hide your moves so well?"

"Are you kidding? I rode for two years with the Ice Queen herself," Wolf retorted as Xena snatched a waterskin from the ground and proceeded to rinse the sweat from her face.

"Hey, that was hard...," the warrior began, smacking the smaller woman in the chest with the heavy skin. When she saw the wince of pain, she cursed. "Oh shit, Wolf, I'm sorry, I forgot...."

Wolf waved off the apology and released the breath she had sucked in with the pain. "It's all right, Xena, don't worry about it."

"You better tell her," the tall warrior said, nodding her head towards the observing Amazon. "She looks like she's either going to faint or rip my head off with her bare hands," Xena observed with a knowing grin.

"Xena, don't tease Pony, please?"

The warrior did a double-take and stopped their progress across the field by clasping her small friend's shoulder. "You really do love her, don't you?"

Wolf's eyes blazed with passion, desire, and love. "With all my heart," she easily admitted. "I never thought that I would feel this way after Lin Chi," she explained. "And the way that she makes me feel...."

Studying the glazed look that stole over Wolf's eyes, the warrior laughed. "You haven't bedded her yet, have you? With your speed records, I thought you would have."

Blushing furiously, the small woman turned the warrior, putting their backs to the Amazon. "I...I want it to be special. You, poetry, candlelight, wine...," Wolf explained, trailing off as she contemplated the perfect seduction.

"A courtship?"

Wolf snapped out of her reverie. "Yeah, what's wrong with that," she asked, standing to her full height and raising her head so that she wasn't staring at her friend's cleavage.

Xena chuckled. "Nothing, little Wolf, it's just that...well, this isn't like...."

"The usual?"


"Oh, Xena, you know what it's like. She...reaches in and touches my soul every time I'm near her. Sometimes if I think too hard about it, I feel like I want to cry or something...I don't know," she finished lamely, shaking her head.

"You aren't the same girl who nearly got herself killed for a little roll in the hay, are you?"

The demi-god merely smiled and turned to face the woman who she loved. "Yes, and no," she answered. "Anyone else, I probably wouldn't have thought twice about it, but with Pony, I want to wait. I want her to know that she has my heart and soul, as well as my body. I love her with everything that I am," she revealed as she walked towards Eponin like a moth to the flame.

Xena watched as the lovers greeted each other. Their casual touches became lingering caresses, their heads bowed as their hearts' secrets were shared. The tall warrior contained her humor when they stepped suddenly away from each other, putting space between their bodies that wanted desperately to betray their wills. If this keeps up, the dark warrior thought, they are going to be unstoppable in battle...all that pent-up energy.

Having no problem with her own battle readiness, being that she was always ready for a good fight, Xena left the women alone to their inclinations, to search for the other half of her soul.


Gabrielle glanced up the trail one more time before turning and following her earlier boot prints in the tall grass. She lifted her head and gazed at the assembly of Amazons as they waited for Wolf and Xena to return from their scouting.

Arna was pacing impatiently along the side of the trail, mumbling and casting looks into the trees where the trail disappeared. The other warriors of Garalis were watching her with anxiety. Other Amazons were sharpening their weapons or catching naps. Gabrielle had assumed that they were the ones who had the last watch into the morning's early dawn. She knew that there were others in the branches above, watching the higher trail.

Eponin and Ephiny were deep in a hushed discussion, sharing some jerky between themselves. Gabrielle had tried to join them earlier, but her fidgeting had made them nervous. She had then found herself talking to one of the draft horses that was pulling a cart. But then it had snorted in annoyance at her mindless chatter, so she decided that Arna had the right idea. Finding a vacant patch of ground, she had begun to wear her own path.

At the familiar bird call announcing riders, all Amazons stood and held their weapons at the ready. When Xena and Wolf appeared on their mounts, the sound of swords being replaced into scabbards hissed through the expectant air.

As Xena reported their meager findings, Wolf busied herself by brushing down their horses. Glancing across the opening, she saw Eponin watching her with intense scrutiny, her eyes hooded in desire. The demi-god mentally steeled her reserve. She knew that it was hard on the both of them. If she opened her senses, she could practically taste the Amazon's readiness. Leaning her head against Beast's neck, she reminded herself why she was waiting.

Eponin had watched her lover as she had descended gracefully from her mount's bare back. The small warrior's every move was primal, hinting at the potential for savagery. The Amazon's breath caught when she was trapped by the demi-god's eyes, her loins exploded in a rush of need. Clenching her fists, she cursed the fact that she couldn't even get a moment of privacy to alleviate the discomfort of her body's ache.

Glancing around the clearing and seeing that Xena had finished, Wolf took off in the direction of the lake beside which they had stopped. She prayed that the cool waters would ease the fire that was licking at every nerve ending in her body.

Gabrielle was surprised to find herself guided away from the group by Xena who steered her into the tall grasses along the side of the trail. When they had gone far enough to be out of hearing distance of everyone (well, except for the demi-god who was, at the time, chilling her fever under cold water), the tall warrior sat and pulled her down into an embrace.

"How are you doing?"

The Queen looked at her consort, her eyes revealed her relief and love. "Just fine," she replied, giving in to the urge to touch the warrior's face.

"We should make another ten leagues before dark," the warrior announced.

Gabrielle wrinkled her brow in thought. "We will be passing by Euralon, then, won't we?"

"Yes," Xena replied, proud that the bard had studied the maps so well.

Nodding her head to her private thoughts, Gabrielle stared off into the distance, her fingers plucking at the end of her skirt.

"Nervous," the warrior asked, pulling her back into her arms.

"Nah," she lied, knowing that Xena would know the truth.

"Uh, huh," the warrior replied dryly. "We're not leaving for another candlemark, so why don't you relax and take a nap," she advised as she pulled the bard to the ground beside her. After Gabrielle had found the soft spot above the warrior's right breast that she favored for a pillow, Xena allowed herself the luxury of joining her lover in a light slumber.


As Gabrielle had figured, they passed the village of Euralon where they were greeted by twelve warriors and a young healer. As Queen, Gabrielle praised the women generously for their dedication to the Nation and sent a scroll back to their village with a scout, thanking the chieftess for allowing her warriors the opportunity to serve.

As Xena had predicted, they traveled the ten leagues before the sun descended over the horizon. They found a secluded clearing to make their camp, laying their bedrolls and lighting their campfires with efficiently.

Gabrielle was laying out her bedroll in the middle of the camp when Xena startled her with an embrace. "What are you doing here?"

The warrior hid a grin at the bard's surprise. "There's enough warriors to keep an eye on things," she replied, as she sat on the bedroll and began her nightly ritual of sharpening her weapons. "Thought maybe I'd keep my wife company. Is that all right with you?"

The grinding of stone against metal stilled as the bard wrapped her arms around her lover and gave her a gentle squeeze. "Any time, warrior, any time."

Acting as if they weren't on their way to defend Amazon rights in battle, the two settled into their usual evening routine. While Xena worked on her weapons, Gabrielle heated some camp rations into a filling stew and told stories that the warrior had already heard, but didn't mind the repeats, for the musical voice that recounted the tales, eased the tensions she always felt at the end of the day.

When they had finished eating, they settled comfortably in each other's embrace, watching the flames of their campfire consume the branches that fed it. Occasionally, oblivious to the watching eyes around them, they stole soft kisses from one another, touched each other in simple caresses that were meant to reaffirm and not to excite.

Wolf collapsed on her bedroll after watching the play between her friends. She sighed at the hunger she felt, that she could hear roaring in her ears. Her own raging blood, when she stopped long enough to block everything out, was pounding her senses to mush. So preoccupied with her private misery, she didn't see Eponin roll out her bedroll across their fire until the Amazon released a harsh breath when she sat.

Glancing over the fire, Wolf's heated eyes were almost preternatural in their fevered brilliance. Taking a deep breath to taste the woman's essence, she groaned. "Pony."

The Amazon looked over at her lover and quirked a lazy brow. "Wolf?"

"Been busy," the small warrior asked as she unconsciously ran her tongue over her dry lips.

Eponin gave her a shrug. "I couldn't handle it."

Wolf chuckled when she saw the woman wiping her hand idly over the lush grass as if to hide the scent of her self-pleasuring.

"I don't know how you can deal with it," the Amazon continued, a brief scowl contorting her features. When she looked up to face her lover, she swore. Wolf was leaning on her elbow, her head bowed. When the demi-god lifted her eyes, they were naked with need. "Oh Hades, Wolf, I'm sorry," she apologized as she crossed to the small woman and gathered her in strong arms. "How do you handle it," she asked softly.

"I just remember why I'm doing it," she replied, a gentle smile shaping her mouth as she laid her head on the Amazon's shoulder, surrendering her body to ride the waves of heat that were licking at her sensitive skin. She was beginning to believe that she was a masochist at heart, the torture through which she put herself was becoming a bittersweet pleasure. "I remember why I'm waiting."

"Oh, Wolf, I know this is hurting you. You can smell my need for you. I can see it in your eyes when you look at me."

Exhausted by the constant struggle to control her baser desires and the long march, Wolf felt herself drifting. "Pony, please," she mumbled. "You keep talking like that and I'm bound to forget my reasons," she pleaded, her last words fading on the night breeze.

Eponin pulled the woman closer and kissed her forehead. "Not a chance, Wolf," she whispered. "Gabrielle told me your story today," she explained to the sleeping woman. "She told me about your loyalty, your love, and your faith. And I know that you have enough honor in your little finger to wait for the right time. And I promise you," she vowed as she lowered their bodies to the pallet, "that our love is worth it." The Amazon accepted Morpheus' embrace as she was lulled by the sentries' bird calls sounding through the trees.


Gabrielle glanced around the tent and rearranged the bandages on the table before her for the hundredth time. They had made it to their predetermined campsite in just about the time that Xena had figured. As they traveled, they had picked up another forty-two warriors, swelling their numbers to sixty-two.

Scouts had been sent out as soon as they had pitched their tents. They had returned last night, reporting that the guards' gossip was mainly of Gael's plans to build a fortified keep in the southern half of the valley that he had taken from the Amazons.

The Queen would have thought that their increased numbers would have given them the advantage would have made for a given victory, but Gael had also picked up some men since his massacre of Garalis. Gabrielle took a steadying breath and said a silent prayer for her Amazons, asking that none of them lose their lives in the imminent battle, and that if they had to die, to do so with honor.

Ephiny, after much arguing with her Amazon sisters, had accepted command of the party that would attack from the east, with Arna as her second. Xena was appointed, naturally, to lead from the north with Eponin and Wolf. The Amazon commander had left earlier to take advantage of the darkness since their position was practically on the warlord's back step.

Heaving a great sigh, Gabrielle glanced around their temporary hospital. She shivered at the prospect of the bodies that would soon be resting on the various pallets that were arranged throughout the tent. They had picked up a healer, Aglai from Euralon, but at the present, she was occupied with her warrior lover from whom she had refused to be separated.

Unwittingly, her mind drifted to Xena. The warrior had gone off to be by herself. Probably to brood, the bard thought sadly. She hoped that her lover would have the will to return to her after the battle, and if the warrior didn't, she was prepared to bring her back at any cost.


Xena, unaware that she was the subject of the bard's desperate plans, was watching the valley from the vantage point of a ridge above the camp. She stood tall, refusing to let her shoulders slump under the weight of her thoughts. She was leading an army into battle willingly...again. After she had left her warlord days behind her, she had vowed that she would never do so again.

But when they had been faced with the threat of the Horde, she had given in to the darkness and had led the Athenians to victory. How she had hurt Gabrielle then, she thought. *And she stayed with me*. And now, once again, she had a powerful army at her disposal, one that was sworn to her through their loyalty to their Queen and her decision to appoint the ex-warlord as the commander.

It had been a natural conclusion considering her experience, but it was her experience that could be the end of her. But the Amazons would follow her anywhere, do as she ordered without question. Simply because their Queen trusted in her leadership. Gabrielle...the love that reminded her of her destiny, the light that would lead her back from the depths of her bloodlust...the wife that trusted her not to lose her way.

Distractedly, emerging from her thoughts, the warrior ran a hand over her head after a pebble hit her. She knew of only two people who would dare such a thing, and one of them caught her eye as she moved through the groups of Amazons preparing for battle.

"Wolf," she called as she turned to catch a second pebble in midair, noting the serious set of the demi-god's features when she jumped from the boulder upon which she had been standing. Xena stopped herself from returning the favor, from tossing the pebble back to her friend.

Wolf moved to stand beside the tall warrior and observed the camp. "How are you feeling, Xena?"

The warrior shrugged as she followed the golden hair that reflected the late day's light. She was afraid. Very afraid.


The warrior turned her head to the friend that had been with her in the beginning, had seen her at her worst, the young woman who had seen the fear that the Destroyer of Nations had inspired. And yet, as she did before, the demi-god was committed to join her in battle. She would fight against the warlord that had threatened a people that neither of them were bonded to, except for the fact that they both were in love with Amazons. Wolf had proven herself worthy of trust. "Yeah, I am," the warrior admitted.

Wolf nodded her head in understanding. "You have an army at your command. Considering your track record, I'd be afraid, too."

"Well, thanks, I needed the encouragement," Xena retorted dryly.

The demi-god shrugged and studied the tall woman. "I want you to know that if it becomes necessary, I have no problem with shifting...if you command me."

Xena nodded. "I know," she whispered, trying not to let her own darkness defeat her.

Wolf could almost read her friends thoughts. "Xena, you aren't a warlord anymore."

The warrior tossed the stone she had been holding, clenched in her fist. "I wish I could believe that."

Wolf turned the warrior to face her, putting her hand behind Xena's neck to draw her blue eyes down to her own brown ones. "Look, you wouldn't be beating yourself up over the whole idea if you were. You'd be down there at Gael's stronghold, most likely serving his entrails at a victory celebration," the demi-god explained emphatically.

Xena grimace at the imagery. "I never served entrails."

"Whatever...entrails...hearts...organs are organs," Wolf clarified, waving her hand through the air. "What I'm saying is that here you are, making yourself sick with worry over something that might never come to pass. Gabrielle won't let it. She's probably down there now writing a royal decree that the Warrior Princess is forbidden to return to her former ways."

"I'm surprised she never considered it before," Xena deadpanned, giving in to the urge to smile.

"I like this Xena better," Wolf said when she saw the life return to her friend's eyes. "You've really got to learn how to relax," she chastised as she wrapped both hands around the back of the tall woman's neck.

Xena closed her eyes, allowing her muscles to loosen under the small bolts of energy coming from the small warrior's fingers. "You're getting good at that."

"Hmm...I'm working on just the right amount of power to give pleasure, and yet, not juice a person to cinders," Wolf replied with a suggestive wiggle of her brows.

"I thought that you were abstaining."

The demi-god shook her head. "Not Pony...not in that way. I had a test subject," she said as she nodded her head to the woman that Xena continued to follow with her eyes.

"Excuse me," Xena asked with angered indignation.

"Not like that! She was tense...almost as much as you. I just gave her a little jolt to loosen her up." When the warrior's eyes narrowed even more, Wolf put her at ease. "I swear that my hands never went below her shoulders," she said, putting her fist over her heart.

Xena's mouth lifted in a wicked grin. "Gotcha."

Wolf shook her head at being suckered into the trick. "Uh, huh."

"Come on, Lieutenant Wolfdragon...let's go find our women."

"You know, Xena, I really like that name," the demi-god said as the two of them made their way slowly down the trail to the camp.

"Well, after this is all over, you'll still be 'little Wolf' to me."

"Why not make it easy on yourself and just call me 'Pup?'"

The warrior threw her head back and laughed. "It's good to have you here, Wolf."

"Wouldn't be anywhere else, Xena."


That evening when Xena entered the tent that she shared with the Queen, she was more relaxed and comfortable with her temporary position among the Amazons. Gabrielle sent a silent thanks to Wolf for her help. She was no more eager to share space with a brooding warrior than she was to pull her own teeth.

Xena smiled in satisfaction when she saw that Gabrielle had drawn a bath and was waiting for her, wearing only a sultry smile. Disrobing with practiced hands, the warrior complied to her lover's silent wish, and sank into the water, into a heat that had more to do with the company than the steaming water.

That evening when they made love, it was if it was the first time. Holding nothing back from each other, they were awed by the heights to which they soared. Their bond became palpable, the pounding of their hearts witnessed their connection. For Gabrielle it was a reminder to her warrior what awaited her upon her return the next day. For Xena, it was a reason to return, a promise of salvation.


The sun was still a candlemark from rising, but Gabrielle woke instantly when Xena shook her gently. The warrior chuckled softly at her quick response, as the young woman threw on her clothes and rekindled the cooking fire to brew some tea. When she stood and turned, her face was of grim determination. "It's time."

It was a statement of hard fact. There was no fear, no trepidation regarding the battle. Xena nodded as she sat before the fire, sipping her tea. She set her mug down when the bard moved behind her to help her with her armor. Her small hands were efficient, repeating a chore that she had performed what seemed a thousand times.

No words were shared as the Queen prepared her consort, her champion, for the meeting with Gael's army. But when Xena stood to take her leave, she halted the tall woman with a gentle touch to her arm. The warrior looked down into that a face that was strong, yet held a slight tremor of fear. Xena memorized the lines, for they were the map that would return her to sanity.

The bard offered her a scrap of cloth. Xena remembered the piece well. She had told the young woman that it reminded her of the shifting green of her eyes. She lifted it to feel its softness against her cheek. When she caught its scent, her eyes glinted with amusement and desire. Raising the cloth to her nose to inhale the bard's intimacy, the warrior raised her brow and tucked it into her cleavage.

"One piece, Xena," the bard spoke finally.

"I promise." A thousand emotions were in those two words. Feelings to which she would be numb until the bard brought her back.

There were no words of undying love. They had shared those last night. A brief kiss was all they would allow themselves. Otherwise, they might want to forget about the warlord and lose themselves in the safe cocoon of their love.

The warrior felt no reluctance when she let the ice cold mask of death fall over her face.

When Xena exited the tent, her adrenaline had already begun to roar in her ears, surging through her veins in a manner that she could only compare to the heights she scaled when Gabrielle loved her body. She glanced around at the women who were forming ranks in two lines. She called her lieutenants to her after they had wished each other a safe return with a lingering kiss. Once their lips parted, their thoughts were only of war.

She ordered the two of them to pick five warriors each and flank her main force with Wolf on the left and Eponin on the right. When all the warriors were accounted for, Xena and her two lieutenants mounted and led them into the valley.

As the Amazon force began to make its way towards the stronghold, Gabrielle climbed the ridge carefully so that she could watch the battle that she prayed would not come. They would offer the warlord one chance to desert the valley...only one. And if he should refuse...the Queen shuddered at the thought of the bloodshed that would result. Her skin rose in gooseflesh with the chill on the early morning air.


At first light, Ephiny, Arna, and a few of the women of Garalis stepped from the shadows of the trees. They were in plain sight of the sentries posted along the walls. The men, who were not really surprised to see them, nor when they noticed that the Amazons were fully armed and ready for a fight.

Even though she knew that there were a dozen of the Nation's best archers behind and above her, Ephiny had to stifle the sliver of apprehension that clawed its way up her back, raising the fine hairs at the base of her neck.

When the men on the walls called to them, Arna stepped forward and called for Gael. The men's raucous laughter pierced the stillness. When the warlord made his appearance, the Amazon bristled. "Gael, I am Arna of Garalis, and I have come to ask you to leave this valley."

Ephiny hid her cringe at the sight of the hulking man. His bearded face and naked torso were covered in scars telling of battles he had survived. He held his long broadsword loosely in one hand while the other bore his weight when he leaned forward. "Ah...if it isn't the Amazon bitch! I see you've brought some of your girlfriends," he replied with a cruel grin. Emboldened by the mocking jeers of his soldiers, he continued. "Forget it, slut. I lay claim to this land."

The Regent put a stilling hand on the redheaded warrior and stood forward to take her command. In a clear strong voice, she addressed the man. "Gael, I am Ephiny of the Amazon Nation, if you will not return this land to my people who have held it since the time of their grandmothers' grandmothers, then you seek war with us."

He growled at their impertinence. "So be it, Amazon," he snarled with derision. Raising his sword, he signaled his archers to attack. When the soldiers raised their bows, they were taken by surprise (and then Celesta) when the Amazon snipers hidden in the trees found their marks with unerring accuracy. Gael cursed as he left the wall to ready himself for battle.


Xena waited behind the last ridge, unseen by the warlord's sentries. When she saw the volley of arrows, she counted to a hundred and then back to one to settle the animal within her. She would wait until the warlord moved his men onto the battlefield, out of the safety of the stronghold, and then she would give her own signal. Looking left then right at her flank forces, she saw that Wolf and Eponin were watching the scene intently. She knew that they were waiting for her call.


When the gates to the stronghold opened and Gael rode through with his massive army, Ephiny sent a prayer to Artemis and raised her fist into the air. When the gates had been closed by the enemy's force, she lowered her arm. "Amazons, attack!"

Ten more women stepped from the cover of the forest and readied their weapons as those in the trees began once again to fall their targets from the air, moving through the trees so that their positions could not be determined for a retaliation.


The moment that Xena heard Ephiny's call, she gave her own.


To the warlord's credit, only one man in Gael's forces pissed his pants when the shrill cry echoed through the valley. The soldier knew the sound before he saw the she-demon charging across the field. He had only been a boy when the Warrior Princess had attacked his village, but his nightmares kept the memory fresh. Without a second look, he turned and deserted, running deep into the forest until he collapsed in exhaustion.

Gael cursed his luck. He knew that the Warrior Princess had been something to admire in her time, although he was sure that her reputation was exaggerated greatly by the simple-minded peasants that she had terrorized. Where he came from, women were only good for two things (maybe three if a man was lucky), and making war was not one of them. With an arrogant smile, he split his force, sending the majority of the men to meet Xena, while a squad of forty remained with him. He licked his scarred lips in anticipation. He wanted the red-head's blood.

The lieutenant in charge of meeting Xena's larger force said a prayer to his god of choice as the black demon charged down the hill into the valley. His blood ran cold, as her mount's thundering hooves shook the battlefield, digging up great clods of earth. Even from his distance, he could see the bloodlust that had contorted the warrior's features. She was more animal than human, and he saw a vision of his own death. Shouting orders, he commanded his mounted infantry to engage.

Xena met the riders with a savage eagerness. Her sword flashed only once, for the blood that ran its length, dulled the gleaming blade. With a single-minded purpose, she led her troops through the scattering mass of men, cutting them down with an ease that proclaimed the truth of her past as a disciple of Ares.

Leading her troops towards the front line, Wolf and her squad prevented any soldiers from flanking the main force and attacking from behind. Her twin swords whistled through the air, singing a chant of death for those who braved her space. When Beast reared, she presented a terror from the night's deepest shadows, her black and bronze armor absorbing the blood she drew forth from her victims.

Casting a quick glance to her right, she saw that a few men had broken past the right flank and were engaging Amazon warriors behind the front line. With a curse, she called to her second and took off in a flying gallop. Something was wrong with Eponin.

When she arrived at the other end of the battlefield, the three men who were engaging her lover froze in terror at the sight of the demi-god's horse trampling a forth who had moved to join them. The warhorse's rider stole their breath with a feral howl as she leapt from the saddle. Her swords, as she cut their bodies to pieces, were a blur of sound and sight. With a vicious kick, she sent the last man to his death.

Rushing over to the injured Amazon, she caught the bigger woman as she collapsed. "Beast, guard!" When the warhorse complied, she turned her attention to the woman in her arms.

"Wolf, how nice to see you here," Eponin muttered, her eyes glazed with pain.

"Uh, huh," the small warrior nodded as she took stock of the deep gash in her lover's leg. Tearing a strip from the woman's skirt, she bound the wound and checked for any additional injuries. The Amazon's breath was quick and shallow, her pulse weak and rapid. When Wolf put a hand to her cheek, the skin was clammy and chilling. "Eponin, be still, I'll be right back."

When the Amazon did not respond, the demi-god stood and approached her horse. "Beast, stay with her, please." When the warhorse snorted and nodded her head, Wolf took left in a ground-eating run to find her commander. She caught sight of Xena as a man's agonized scream pierced her ears. Sensing a presence behind her, she pulled a dagger from her boot and spun, sending the blade to find a home in the man's chest. Standing from her crouch, she resumed her course.


The Warrior Princess turned to find the source of the voice. Recognition tempered the fierce lines of her face as Wolf waited for her attention, concern evident in the wavering lines of the small warrior's features. "What's wrong," she asked as she sent her chakram flying to take the head of another soldier.

Wolf waited until the weapon returned to its master's hand and then approached the warrior. "Eponin's down. She's starting to go into shock," she explained, fighting the tortured agony that tainted her voice. "I request to be relieved of my command so that I can take her to the infirmary."

Xena glanced around and estimated the cost of the loss of her lieutenant. "Go on," she shouted as she turned Argo to meet the charge of another man.

As soon as the commander gave her permission, Wolf began sprinting towards her lover. Shifting on the run, she took to the air and unfurled her powerful wings, covering the distance in a matter of seconds.

Xena knew the moment that the battle balanced in their favor. The sight of Wolfdragon brought many of the men to their knees, praying to the gods to spare them from the Amazons' fury and the demons that rode with them. With a strength greater than any she had ever used in battle, she forced her darkness back into the furthest corners of her soul. She turned and engaged those who were still eager to fight, relying only on the skills which she had practiced so diligently most of her life.

When Wolf landed at Eponin's side, she gave Beast the order to return to camp as she gathered her lover gently into her scaled arms, cradling the woman as if she were a child. Taking to the air once more, she crooned deep in her throat. "Please, Pony, don't leave me. I love you too much to lose you now."


Gabrielle had seen Wolf shift into her dragon form. When she saw the direction of her flight, she called to Aglai. There was only one reason why the demi-god would be returning to camp. When she recognized the Amazon leathers on the body the dragon carried, she whispered a prayer and made her way carefully down the ridge to meet them.


The battle was over quickly once Wolf shifted. Xena ordered the Amazons under her command to round up the surrendering soldiers, as she worked her way around the stronghold to see how Ephiny had fared. When she turned the corner, she came upon a sight both gruesome and heartening.

Gael had been defeated by Arna who had suffered only minor wounds from the confrontation. However, the warlord was swaying at the end of a rope from a tree branch, his body mutilated beyond recognition. The crest of the Amazon Nation had been carved neatly into his chest. The good thing, she thought with some awe for the restraint that the Garalis Amazons had shown, was that the surviving soldiers were being held at arrow point instead of dangling in similar circumstances.

She ordered a thorough search of the stronghold (no more Cirras for her...not ever again) and then set a torch to the warlord's camp. When all of the prisoners had been gathered, she ordered twenty of her Amazons to accompany them back to Garalis where they would stand trial.

With a mental shrug, she knew that the men's fates were sealed the moment they decided to join Gael in his attack on the Amazons. If they were recognized as being in the village the morning of the massacre (and more than likely, all of them would be), they would be decapitated. Quick and easy. She wanted no say in the matter. She was not one to mix in Amazon politics, she thought.

But then the warrior laughed with genuine mirth. She was, in all ways but legally, married to their Queen, and the things that she had done for her lover ever since she had received her caste had made her basically a main player in those same politics. With a resigned shake of her head, she abandoned the battlefield. Mounting Argo, she led her remaining troops back to the camp in a victory march.


When Wolf landed with her precious bundle, Gabrielle greeted her with worry written across her face. "Wolf, what is it?"

"Gash on her thigh. She's lost a lot of blood, and she's gone into shock," the dragon answered.

"Aglai...Aglai! Snap out of it," the Queen called to the healer who was staring in fascination as Wolf shifted to her human form and carried the injured warrior into the infirmary.

The healer blushed as she looked to Gabrielle and rushed inside the tent, mumbling apologies to the Queen.

When Wolf laid Eponin carefully on a pallet, she bent to remove the bandage that had been stained through.

Gabrielle grasped her by the arms and tried to pull her away. "Wolf, come on, let the healer see to it."

The demi-god struggled to pull from the bard's surprising strength. "I was with Xena...I know what to do," she cried.

The bard switched to words to calm her friend. "Look, Wolf, I know that you can do it, but you're too close right now, okay? Let Aglai handle the wound," she ordered. "Go talk to Eponin, give her a reason to stay with us."

With those words, the blood rushed from the small warrior's face. She fell to her knees at the head of the pallet and took her lover's hand into her own. Bending her head, she began to whisper words of love and need.

Once Wolf had settled, Gabrielle moved around the pallet to assist the healer. The wound was long and a finger deep, but the sword did no serious damage as it cut cleanly though skin and muscle. It was not so deep that the Amazon could not recover from it without any major repercussions, given that she could stay off of it long enough for the muscle to heal.

After Aglai had cleaned and packed the injury with a medicinal poultice, Gabrielle closed it with neat stitches she had learned from practice with Xena. As she was finishing, the healer made ready for the others who were cresting the last hill into the camp.

When the injured began to arrive, Gabrielle was surprised. Aside from Eponin, they were mostly minor puncture and sword wounds with a couple of broken bones thrown in for variety. She thanked Artemis silently for her guidance and protection. Sure that Aglai could handle the situation, Gabrielle assigned a couple of healthy warriors to aid the healer as she left to find Xena.


After Ephiny had given her report, Xena's shoulders sagged in relief. Things had gone very well, with no fatalities and few minor injuries. Glancing across the valley, she could see the flames that continued to burn Gael's stronghold to ashes. Relieved to be finished with her command, she turned and entered the Queen's tent.

Gabrielle had just lifted the lid off of the steaming tub. Xena's brow rose in surprise. My wife, she thought with a mental sigh of exhaustion. She wasn't really tired from battle. In fact, she was still running high on the battlelust that raged through her blood. Her weariness stemmed from the fact that she was fighting her natural inclinations desperately, quelling the urge to strike out until the murderous urges dissipated.

Falling to her knees in front of the fire, she allowed the bard to remove her armor and leathers. She barely registered the woman's absence until the bard returned to guide her to the water that the warrior wished could heal her soul.

Gabrielle left the tent to have someone clean Xena's leather and armor. When she returned, she found her lover leaning forward in the tub, rocking back and forth, her arms wrapped tight around her middle. Without a word, the Queen disrobed and joined her consort.

Xena howled silently with violent need when Gabrielle began washing the blood and gore from her body. Her body shook in reaction to the gentle scrubbing that removed the coppery scent of battle from her hair. With an effort that was bound to sap her strength for days, Xena willed the monster into its cage. She sat, numb against clear reasoning, as the bard poured buckets of cool water over her body until the sheeting water ran clear.

She felt a tug on her arm and looked up with dazed eyes into the gentle face of her lover, whose expression was compassionate with understanding. Standing at the silent request, she followed the small woman to their pallet and shivered as Gabrielle dried the moisture off her skin with efficient strokes. When she felt another tug on her hand, Xena looked down at the pallet. Tears began to well in her eyes as Gabrielle invited her with open arms and legs. With a last gentle smile for the woman who understood and accepted, who loved her, Xena let the demon loose to feed on the savage desires that only her sweet wife could tame.

Gabrielle cried out in primal ecstasy as Xena entered her roughly. She had been ready the moment she recognized the look in her warrior's eyes. She knew what to expect and how to deal with it. She was not afraid. Even when battling the demons of her own darkness, the warrior had never hurt her in the past. Their loving just tended to have a rougher (much rougher) edge to it. It was the only time that she didn't have to beg the warrior to unleash the control she always held over sexual power.

After just a few moments of Xena's merciless thrusting, the bard cried out with her first orgasm. When her breathing returned to normal, she grabbed the warrior by the hair and yanked her away from the breasts that she had been ravishing. With a strength that surprised them both, the sweet, little bard from Potedaia flipped the Warrior Princess onto her back to suffer the Amazon Queen's version of tough love.

Into the late candlemarks of the evening, the couple inspired more than a few Amazons to seek solace with each other. However, in the infirmary, Wolf was still kneeling at Eponin's side. She laced her fingers with those of her unconscious lover, and began to court her, whispering a song of love that she had learned as an innocent girl growing up among the Celts. In between bouts of tears, the demi-god covered the Amazon's face with gentle kisses, entreating Eponin to return to her and their love.


The next morning, Ephiny stopped by to see how the injured Amazons were faring. Only three were wounded enough to warrant a pallet, and one of those was Eponin. The Regent stood in the doorway, framed by the rising sun. She was afraid to move lest she disturb the couple who were entangled with each other.

Sometime before dawn, Wolf had crawled onto the pallet to stretch out against her lover's uninjured side. Her head was tucked under the Amazon's chin, her arm thrown possessively across Eponin's chest. Ephiny smiled at the picture they made, as if they hadn't been trying to kill each other a moon ago.

She was startled out of her thoughts when she felt eyes observing her. Focusing her attention, she was expecting to see Wolf awake. However, she was surprised to see the Weaponsmaster smiling weakly at her.

Gesturing for her to approach quietly, they clasped arms. "How did it go?"

Ephiny felt her friend's brow for a sign of fever. "We won. No one died...on our side. All Gael's men who survived are being escorted back to Garalis." Studying Eponin with sharp eyes, she asked, "How do you feel? You got a nasty cut on your leg."

"Cut," the dark-haired Amazon snorted. "Feels like I've been stuck to the bone."

"You were pretty bad, from what Aglai says. Went into shock. She says that Wolf saved your life."

"I remember floating," Eponin muttered, trying to remembered what happened after Wolf had killed her opponents.

The Regent chuckled low on her breath. "Ep, you weren't floating, you were flying."

"Ah, shit, Eph...don't tell me I missed it," she hissed in regret.

Ephiny nodded her head, concealing her mirth behind a hand. Many Amazons had been curious to see Wolfdragon, but none of them had the courage to ask the demi-god to shift for them.

"So, tell me...what's she look like?"

Shrugging, the blond Amazon admitted, "Let's just say that if I hadn't known that it was Wolf, I'd would have had to change my breeches."

"You wear breeches," the Weaponsmaster asked with taunting humor, swatting away the smack that was aimed for her head.

"Ha...ha, warrior." Ephiny let her humor pass and quirked a brow. "So, she stayed all night, huh?"

"I guess so," Eponin answered, stroking the head softly that was resting against her breast.

"You're lucky you were out of it last night," the Regent said, changing the subject. "The Queen and her consort set new records for the loudest...." Ephiny paused when she saw Eponin's eyes rise to the tent flap. "Well, speaking of Cerebus," she admitted, smiling for the warrior who had entered the tent.

Her eyes raked over Xena as the tall woman kneeled to check Eponin's wound. She didn't seem any worse for wear. But the shift that she was wearing until her leathers were returned, revealed numerous scratches and bites all over her body. The Regent raised her brow when she saw the one on the top of the tall woman's foot. *What had they been doing last night.*

Wolf stirred when Xena pushed a strand of hair out of her eyes. "Hey, Pup, you want to join the party, or are you going to sleep all day?"

Squinting her eyes against the light that filtered through the tent, the demi-god raised her head and looked around. "Xena, I was kidding about the name," she mumbled.

"Oh really, I couldn't tell," the warrior returned dryly. "Doesn't matter, though, Pup, 'cause I'm gonna milk it for all it's worth."

The small woman groaned until she felt her lover stir beneath her. Wolf's eyes widened in joyful surprise when she saw Eponin watching her, awake and alert. Unwilling to stop herself, she raised her head and drank greedily from her lover's willing lips. "Pony," she sighed, content to lay her head back down to listen to the Amazon's heart beating loud against her ear.

Yawning for effect, the Weaponsmaster succumbed to her body's need for rest and closed her eyes, dismissing her company. "Good night, all."

Ephiny adjusted the blanket over the two lovers and stood to join Xena. As they left the infirmary, the Regent asked, "So, how's Gabrielle this morning? I swear you two didn't get to sleep until a few candlemarks ago."

Xena quirked her brow. "Oh, how could you tell?"

The Regent blushed and shook her head. "The two of you could have woken the gods on Mt. Olympus with the noise you made."

"What do I have to keep telling you Amazons? That's not me. Gabrielle's the one with the lungs."

"Uh, huh. And that wasn't your battlecry that I heard as the sun was going down?"

The tall warrior grinned wickedly. "That was inspiration."

"So that's what they're calling it these days," the Regent pondered aloud.

"Really, Eph, you need to get laid."

"Tell me something I don't know, Xena."


Half a moon later, the band of travel-weary Amazons arrived back at the capital. Solari greeted the group and then pulled the Queen and her Regent aside to give them a report of what had happened in their absence. The wounded of Garalis had left to return to their own village a few days previous. The two cooks had to be separated...again. Their argument had been the usual - whose recipe for venison stew was better. But other than that, things had been quiet.

When everyone had been settled, Gabrielle and Xena went to check in on Eponin. Neither were surprised to see that Wolf had moved permanently into the Amazon's hut. What had shocked them, though, was the fact that Eponin was propped up in bed, sharpening Wolf's arsenal of weapons as the demi-god laid beside her, reading poetry from one of the scrolls she had borrowed from the village archive.

"Are we interrupting," Gabrielle asked as she led the warrior into the hut.

Eponin raised her head from her task and smiled. "Not at all, please come in."

Raising her cheek to accept a kiss from the Queen, Wolf set the scroll aside and sat up to her knees. "Gabrielle, Xena," she greeted.

"Hey, Pup," Xena answered as she stepped to Eponin's side of the bed and lowered herself to sit on the edge.

"So, Ep, how's the leg? I thought after all that travel in the back of the cart, you'd be out there doing somersaults or something."

Eponin shrugged and softly smiled. "Guess I just found better things to do," she replied.

The Warrior Princess looked affectionately to the woman who had stayed at the Amazon's side the entire trip home. "You're gonna make her soft, Wolf," she chided with humor.

Winking at her lover, the demi-god ran a hand over the Amazon's firm arm. "Far from it, Xena," she retorted as the temperature in the hut rose several degrees for the new lovers.

"So, are you two going to make an appearance at the celebration tonight?"

The couple looked into each other's eyes and then at Gabrielle. "Yeah, we'll be there," Wolf answered for them both. "But don't expect us to dance or anything."

"Nah," Xena assured them, "we wouldn't want to scare everyone away," she deadpanned.


That evening as Apollo began his descent, the escort party returned from Garalis to the sounds of drums. Shaking off their weariness, they joined their sisters eagerly as the festivities began.

Xena learned from Ephiny, who had heard from the senior officer of the escort party, that all of Gael's men had indeed been executed. The warrior wasn't really surprised. She had expected as much. She went to find the bard, who she felt, should hear the news privately.

Although she had managed to maintain an air of nonchalance about the whole battle for her people, Xena knew that the young woman would be saddened by the total loss of life that she had somewhat commanded. Even after three years of traveling with the most infamous warrior in all of Greece, after losing her own blood innocence, Gabrielle still tried to maintain her moral code regarding the value of life, no matter whose it was.

As predicted, the bard broke down and cried when the warrior led her to a quiet copse of trees and shared the morbid news. Xena held her lover, consoling her with murmured words of reassurance, until her sobbing ceased. Wiping away the last of the Queen's tears gently, the Consort returned her to the party, where she was prepared to handle Ephiny's report publicly with stately decorum.

When Wolf and Eponin stepped into the bonfire's circle of light, all conversations ceased. Stories had been spreading through the village about the demi-god's flight to save her lover's life, and the couple had become the fodder for many romantic notions. To their good humor, they accepting the Amazons' ribbing about getting carried away with the whole idea of their courtship.

After the meal had been consumed, a hush fell over the crowd as the Queen climbed to her dais and launched into a tale of the battle that reclaimed the Amazon village of Garalis. "I sing a song of the Amazon Nation, the chosen people Artemis...," she began.

Xena settled back against a hay bale next to Wolf and Eponin. In silent companionship, they listened to the bard weave her words of magic, spinning a tale of battle glory and heroism. Passing a wineskin among themselves, they lost themselves to her romantic metaphors, leaving the true nightmare of that day to bury itself in the dark recesses of their memories.



Cheers engulfed the couples as they found themselves jostled among the well-wishers. The day's light rain had given way to a brilliantly clear night that had witnessed the joinings so eagerly awaited. Representatives of villages as far as the furthest reaches of the Amazon Nation were in attendance. Their purpose was to see their Queen joined and to welcome their new sisters into the family.


After a long discussion, Wolf and Xena had decided that it was inevitable, loving ranked Amazons, that they would take oaths to the Queen and the Nation. Both of them had already fought for Gabrielle, both as a friend and as the leader of her people. The swearing ceremony was only a formality in their minds, for they had already taken vows to protect their respective lovers and those for whom they cared (which included the Nation).

The joining ceremony, on the other hand, had been the result of clandestine meetings and careful plotting. They had pulled the Regent eventually into their scheming, threatening her with loss of limb and life if she were to let the surprise out of the bag. When the warriors had finally proposed the double joining to their prospective mates, all their efforts had been rewarded with tears of happiness and kisses of passion (unrealized for the still frustrated couple).

Banners had been sent out and word of mouth had spread like wildfire. Within half a moon, Amazonia had been crowded to the seams and beyond into the forest, as representatives and families arrived. A great hunt had been organized for the celebration that would follow the ceremony. Going out together, just the two of them, Wolf and Xena had brought in two stags and a boar in under three candlemarks, much to the chagrin of the larger parties who had fared less favorably.

Much pomp and ritual had been paid to the four women as they were prepared to ask for the goddess' blessing of their unions. While Gabrielle and Wolf had allowed themselves to bask in the luxuries that had been administered on their minds and bodies, the dark-haired warriors had accepted it with restrained impatience. For Xena, it had been simply an aversion to the whole ritual and pampering. And for the Amazon, it had been a matter of her libido and its impending relief.

And so, on the night that the moon swelled to its full brilliance, the two couples had been joined. Xena had given her vow to defend the Nation and her Queen as both an Amazon warrior and the sworn Consort by law. After the tall warrior had finished, Wolf, in her full warrior regalia of black leather and armor, had taken her own. Once they had been accepted by their sisters, they were joined to the women who held their hearts.

In true emotional bard fashion, Gabrielle had been reduced to tears as Xena had laid her weapons at the Queen's feet in a gesture of surrender and sacrifice. Many laughs had erupted through the crowd when Wolf had repeated the same, but taking twice the time, as she had deposited her numerous weapons reverently at her lover's feet.

The two couples had taken their joining vows in unison, drinking from their respective chalices of wine, asking for the blessings of Artemis, their patron goddess. When the priestess had declared them joined legally by Amazon law and custom, the crowd had erupted in cheers.


Wolf, who was talking to Xena, found herself on the end of another back-slapping. Sparing a glower for the tall warrior who tended to avoid such pleasantries with only a look, the demi-god accepted endless wishes of congratulations. Standing on her toes, she tried futilely to see her new wife through the crowd that was mingling in the village square. So preoccupied as she was, she did not sense the warrior bend down to her ear.

"I bet it's a bitch being so short, Pup."

"Better than being freakishly tall," Wolf retorted, her ill humor melting at the barely concealed grin on her friend's face. "Can you see her?"

"Who," Xena asked with mock ignorance. When the warrior received only a muted growl in response, she scanned the crowd quickly and nodded her head toward the central platform. "She's with Gabrielle."

Wolf nodded her head. "Well then, Commander, lead the way. Maybe if I hang onto your skirt tails, I won't be molested."

Xena chuckled low in her throat. "They can be just a bit enthusiastic, huh?"

"Just a little," Wolf agreed with slight impatience.

"So, Pup, tonight's the night."

The demi-god felt another taut strand of control over her heated lust fray and bust. "Keep reminding me, Xena, and I might just ravish her in view of everyone."

When the warriors found their mates, they were greeted heartily with kisses from the women whose brows were lifted in question at the private humor the two were sharing.

"She's a bit...anxious," Xena supplied, whispering in the Queen's ear.

Knowing what the new couple were dealing with, having denied themselves sexual release with each other, Gabrielle grinned wickedly. "Remind you of anyone, Xena?"

The warrior quirked her brow. "Yeah, and I can tell you where every ice cold puddle of water is from Mt. Olympus to Sparta."

The Queen chuckled at the memory of her own suffering. "I could show you a few that you might have missed."

"No reason to now," the warrior purred, capturing a sensitive lobe between her teeth.

Gasping at the fire that erupted in her loins, Gabrielle decided to forego propriety and practiced a little royal prerogative. With a suggestive gleam in her eyes, she led her wife to the privacy of their hut.

Wolf, seeing that the Queen had already retired for the evening, saw no purpose in stewing in her own juices. She pulled her wife's head down to whisper words of need. Few were witness to the spectacle of the two women rushing to their dwelling. Their eagerness to finally consummate their relationship lending them the speed of Hermes.


When Wolf and Eponin reached the privacy of their hut, they melted violently into one another, as was their most basic of natures. Their need far outweighed any discomfort or remorse they felt as their clothes were ripped and scattered.

Ragged sighs were torn from their throats as their naked bodies met for the first time. Before they could succumb to the weakness in their knees, they stumbled to the bed, pulling each other in their haste to discover tastes and textures.

Foregoing any restraint or sentiment for slow gentleness, their mouths fused, their tongues invaded. The sheen of sweat on their heated bodies lent to a delicious gliding friction that resulted in tiny explosions of pleasure along every nerve ending. Their words of love were reduced to feral grunts and tortured moans.

Instinctively, their hands found the places that brought orgasmic delight, urging each other to the pinnacle they had craved upon their first meeting. When they reached their climax together, it was the greatest reward for their promise to wait.


Several women startled when cries of release pierced through a lull in the celebration's noise. Those on royal end of the square heard distinctly the phrase "oh gods" cried in twelve different languages, while those on the other end, down to the most jaded with experience, blushed at the primal roar that was released in two-part harmony.

Knowing smirks were exchanged as money crossed hands. Solari won twenty dinars betting that Wolf and Eponin would restrain themselves until after they were joined, but not before the dancing began. Many were in agreement that someone (most believed that it was Wolf) had definitely broken the Queen's 'loudest scream while in the throes of ecstasy' record.

As for the couples, well...Xena and Gabrielle were satisfied to love each other and fall into the bliss of easy sleep with each other. However, Wolf and Eponin, having denied themselves for so long, made love frantically throughout the night, collapsing finally in the early candlemarks as the last of the revelers passed out from the effects of too much wine.


To this day, no game can be found near the bit of land that used to be the Amazonia (which had been abandoned many years later during a severe drought and was buried eventually under the layers of time). Legend among the animals is that two souls that discovered each other, return occasionally to the place of their greatest joy, to rediscover, to burn in a fury of desire, howling their releases into the still forest air. Cries are said to echo across the mystical place, so primal, that even the largest beast is reluctant to encroach.

The End.


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ved that it was Wolf) had definitely broken the Queen's 'loudest scream while in the throes of ecstasy' record.

As for the couples, well...Xena and Gabrielle were satisfied to love each other and fall into the bliss of easy sleep with each other. However, Wolf and Eponin, having denied themselves for so long, made love frantically throughout the night, collapsing finally in the early candlemarks as the last of the revelers passed out from the effects of too much wine.


To this day, no game can be found near the bit of land that used to be the Amazonia (which had been abandoned many years later during a severe drought and was buried eventually under the layers of time). Legend among the animals is that two souls that discovered each other, return occasionally to the place of their greatest joy, to rediscover, to burn in a fury of desire, howling their releases into the still forest air. Cries are said to echo across the mystical place, so primal, that even the largest beast is reluctant to encroach.

The End.


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