The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, and Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles, and back-story are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. The story is written only for fun, and no profit is being made. All other characters such as Tarren, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. The story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. The story itself as well as the character created by the author may NOT be duplicated or archived without the author’s permission. All works remain the copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the authors consent. This story is a continuation of my first stories called SHE HAS MY EYES, ON THE ROAD AGAIN, NALA’S GIFTS, HOME SWEET HOME, and Little Thief of Hearts You really MUST read those stories first. Otherwise you will be lost as to who some of the characters I have created are. This story contains some violence, no subtext, and the use or reference of corporal punishment. I will be putting that statement in all of the Tarren series whether it exists or not in that particular story. Please understand that this does NOT reflect on my personal beliefs or politics. I am just trying to stay true to the characters and culture of that period of history. Feedback is ALWAYS appreciated and I am most grateful to all that have written and will hopefully continue to write me with your thoughts.


Xena Warrior Mother Series –Story 6

Legend of the Last Amazon-Part I

By Fantimbard@aol.com



Chapter 1 – New trails to blaze


Leaving Amphipolis had been hard on the trio, but the freedom and excitement their life on the road offered could never be replaced. After protecting a village from a small band of road bandits for nearly a week, Xena had made camp in a small meadow far from the dangers of the trail. The warrior and bard were tired from their battles and Tarren was bored with sitting in trees never allowed to do more than watch all the excitement. They needed a day of rest and relaxation.


"You really should be careful with that."

"I am careful."

"No you're not."

"Yes I am."

"You are acting like such a spoiled brat."

"I am not. I'm just having some fun."

"How many times do you have to hit the same tree?"

"As many as I can. That's the idea. Isn't it?"

"We really do have to go."

"Right now? Just give me a minute I think I get hit the branch of that really small tree way in the back."

"That's way too far away."

"It is not!"

"Yes it is. Now lets go."

Aim is taken. The pebble flies through the air and the target is hit squarely.


"Huh told you I could hit it."

"Very good! Now it's time to put the toy away and go."

"Oh Ok...Gabrielle you really no how to spoil a good time."

The bard tapped her foot on the ground to show her impatience. "Sorry Xena, but you are the one who told me that you wanted to be on the road again early. If you wanted to leave later in the day that would have been fine with me. I would have slept right along side Tarren. I didn't know you just wanted me to get up so I could watch you target practice with a little kid's slingshot."

The warrior sighed and placed the slingshot in her cuff. She had taken it from the still sleeping youngster to place a new vine band across the top so there was no danger of the brittle old one snapping and catching the child in the face. While Tarren was still fast asleep the warrior had decided to test it out to make sure it was both safe and of course still fun.

Ignoring the bard’s chastisement, the warrior took a few quick strides back to the campsite and placed the toy back in the hand of her sleeping child.

As the warrior mother attempted to close the youngster’s fingers around the slingshot, a small hand tapped her on the wrist. "Was it fun Momma?" the little voice asked.

Xena shook her head and grinned at the now obviously wide-awake little girl.

"How long have you been awake?" the mother asked, gently running her hand along the youngster’s cheek as she waited for a response.

The little girl smiled and yawned. "Only since Gabby said you were a spoiled brat Momma," the child giggled as she repeated the words.

The warrior turned and frowned at the now smiling bard, "Thank you very much Gabrielle."

The bard nodded feeling this was proper revenge for waking her earlier than was truly needed, "Oh you are quite welcome Xena."

Tarren yanked on her mother’s armor trying to bring the warrior’s attention back to her.

"So was it fun Momma?" the youngster repeated, reaching her hands up to her mother wanting to be lifted into the warrior’s protective embrace.

Xena grinned and took the affectionate child into her arms and stood. "Nope!"

The little girl wondered how such a great toy could not bring complete happiness to any that held it. "How come Momma?"

The warrior glanced over at the bard and then back into the eyes of her young daughter and kissed the child gently on the forehead, "Simple Tarren because you weren't with me to make it fun."

Tarren grinned as she looked in the gentle eyes of her mother. This woman truly was not just her mother but also her best friend and guardian. "Will you teach me how to hit targets like you?" the child asked, still trying to push the sleep out of her words.

Xena tossed the little girl over her shoulder and started to move out of camp once again. "Yup! Just as soon as you are allowed off your bedroll...Two more days." The warrior sighed knowing her young daughter was hoping for an early parole from her week-long sentence in the bedroll.

The youngster mumbled under her breathe, "Might as well be a week."

The warrior glanced back at the bard and winked. She then turned her attentions back to the small form now pressed against her shoulder. Xena knew the now grumpy child was anxious to be released from the stillness of her bedroll, "I'm sorry little one. Did you just say you'd like another week?"

Tarren shook her head. "No Momma...I'm sorry two days will be just enough," the child replied anxiously, fearing the wrong words would earn her additional time in her blankets.

Xena nodded as she continued to walk. "Uh huh and have you finished all your scrolls?" she asked, glancing down at the suddenly quiet youngster, knowing the child was not yet done.

"No ma am," the small voice murmured burying her head in her mother’s muscular arm.

Xena had taken to inspecting her daughter's scrollwork that she had assigned as part of her punishment for her many misdeeds while visiting Amphipolis.

She tapped the little girl gently on the leg. "Well how many do you have left?"

The child lay her head on her mother’s chest and whispered, "I still have to write ‘I am not allowed to tell lies’ and ‘Momma loves me very much.’"

Xena grinned remembering the last scroll she had added in an effort to help Tarren realize just how much she truly was loved. "Hmm well you better have that last one done by tomorrow or you'll have to write it 200 times."

The youngster smiled, her voice was now filled with enthusiasm. "You want me to write ‘Momma loves me’ 200 times? I will. I don't mind writing that one at all Momma."

The warrior mother chuckled. "No baby, just write what you've got and make sure you remember it. That last one I sort of like reminding you of myself." Xena grinned and kissed the little girl’s cheek. She hoisted the child higher in the air as she picked up her pace. "However, right now it's a bath for you little girl."



Tarren frowned and pushed her lower lip out hoping her best pout would get her out of the dreaded bath. She saw Gabrielle bringing up the rear with soap and towels in hand and the youngster tried to wiggle out of her mother's arms.

"Don't wanna bath!" The child moaned, struggling to be free from her mother’s gentle but firm hold.


Xena paused and willingly placed her daughter on the ground beside her and glanced down at the child. "Think about it little one. Are you really going to run from me?" the warrior asked wanting to offer her daughter the opportunity to make the right choice.

The child looked up at Xena’s face and could not help but grimace at the odd smile she was showing. Tarren thought about her mother’s question and played out the scenario in her mind. Each time the vision started with the child running it ended with her still getting a rather lengthy bath.

Tarren shook her head and let her shoulders slump in defeat. "No Momma I don’t wanna run from you." The youngster lowered her eyes and moved slowly toward the water.

Xena smiled and rubbed the child’s head affectionately and pointed to a spot on the lake that she had chosen as a bathing area. "You have just shown great wisdom little one."

Tarren stood by the water as Gabrielle pulled out the vile tools of the ungodly act of washing such as towels and soap. The youngster frowned as she watched both her mother and the bard undress and slide into the water knowing full well that she was expected to be next.

Gabrielle grinned at the child standing on the shore with her small arms tucked neatly against her chest in silent protest. "Come on Tarren take your night clothes off and get in the water," the young woman ordered, waving her hand over the cooling stream to show the pleasure of the pool.

Xena merely sighed at her friend’s efforts and swam out to the center of the lake content to feel the cool water against her skin. "Still haven’t learned the difference between act and react. Have you Gabrielle?" the warrior mumbled, staring back at both the stubborn youngster and her now pleading young friend.

The bard sighed. "Please Tarren. You need to take a bath. I really don’t want to have to chase you this morning."

The little girl heard the words as if they were a call to arms. The young woman had truly offered inspiration.

The youngster was lost in thought as she stared at her frowning friend soaking in the water. "There is no need for a bath. Momma is busy swimming and Gabby’s not gonna chase me. I don’t have to take a bath if I don’t wanna and I don’t wanna."

Tarren pressed her arms tighter against her chest noting that her mother was still quite busy swimming. She smiled oddly at the bard. "Nope! I don't wanna bath Gabby…bye," she giggled, running from the water and far from the bard's reach.

Gabrielle let out a long breath as she watched the child sprint away. She turned and called to the warrior. "Xena this is your area. Tarren may not want a bath but I do." The young woman sat back in the water running the soap along her skin as she watched the child disappear from sight.

The warrior mother frowned and swam back to the shore. "I'll get her…the little monster," the mother groaned as she reached for a towel and headed off in the direction of the small footprints.

Xena tracked the youngster to a grouping of three large rocks about 50 paces from the water. She leaned up against the side of one knowing her daughter had positioned herself carefully in the center. The warrior stared up at the sky wishing her child had a better concept of what the difference between a good idea and a bad idea was. Her voice was low and cool as she spoke.

"Ok Tarren here is the situation. You can come out on your own and be carried down to the water where your gonna get a bath or I can come in there and get you and you'll be carried down and then given a bath. It’s up to you."

The child thought carefully about her options and then the small voice squeaked from beneath the rocks. "No big difference."

The warrior mother smiled. "Well I'd say the big difference is that if I have to come in and get you that before I take you down to the water I'm give you one good swat on your little bottom," she said stiffly, ready for either course of action.

Tarren quickly popped her head out and glanced up at her mother. "You never mentioned that part Momma. That makes a big difference." the child mumbled, climbing out of her hiding place.

The mother stared wearily down at her young daughter. "Oops didn't I? I am sorry…Now which will it be?" she asked, lowering her voice to let her child know that she was not in the mood for this game of hide and find me.

The little girl smiled broadly hoping to show her repent. "I'm coming with you Momma."


The warrior grinned and lifted the run away child into her arms, "Well good, but ya know I think this time I’ll just make sure you get all the way there myself."

The youngster groaned knowing that the bath was now an inevitable event.

Xena carried the little one down to the shore and smiled at her still soaking friend. She undressed the child and playfully tossed her in the water with a splash directly in front of Gabrielle. "I brought you a present."

The warrior smiled at her companion and jumped back in the lake beside her emerging daughter.


The bard chuckled as the little girl came to the surface with an expression that let all know she was not happy at the prospect of being bathed. "Thanks…I think."

Gabrielle grabbed the soap and started the cleaning process working her way from head to toe. The youngster moaned and groaned but did not move knowing her mother was keeping a careful eye on the proceedings.

The bard smiled at her unhappy captive. "Ok you little brat you’re getting clean whether you like it or not and my big warrior friend over there is gonna make sure you behave yourself."


Tarren glanced at her mother who gave her a stern look to let the child know she was indeed the guardian of this particular prison. The youngster settled quietly into the water for the familiar and still vile bathing ritual.


When Xena was finished with her own bath she tossed the soap to Gabrielle, got out of the water, and dressed, drying her dark mane with a small towel and a brush.

Having finally finished scrubbing the sulking but still youngster, the bard chose to linger behind and soak before leaving for the dusty trail. "Gods Xena do we really need to move on already? This is such a nice spot and we've been fighting dirty bandits for days. Why don’t we just stay here today?" she moaned as she felt the tight muscles in her body relax in the soothing waters.


The warrior shrugged her shoulders knowing they had no real definite plans for the day. "Well I wouldn’t mind a bit of fishing myself." Xena thought about it and glanced down at her young daughter who was now looking longingly at the center of the lake. "Ok you’re next. Come on get out," the mother said wiggling her finger for the child to exit.

Tarren bit her lip and looked up at her mother. "Can I go swimming Momma?" the child begged eager for something other than lying in her bedrolls.

Xena was quick to respond, "Nope you're still being punished. Come on out."

"But Momma...." the youngster whined.

Xena placed her hands on her hips and stared down at the child submerging in the water. She pointed to a spot in front of her as she scolded. "Don't you dare ‘but Momma me.’ First you give me a hard time getting in the water and now you give me a hard time getting out. Little girl if you know what's good for you you'll get your bottom out of that water right now."

Gabrielle sighed as she watched the sulking child obediently crawl out of the water.

"Wanna go swimming and I can't...bedroll...scrolls… bottom hot…not warm...cheese not sloppy...bath…." the child mumbled, wanting all her dissatisfaction over recent events to be recited.

Xena nodded as she listened to the youngster's ramblings. "Keep it up Tarren. It's very early in the morning and you're already getting a bad case of the naughties," she warned, wrapping the little girl in a towel and rubbing it up and down her body to dry her.

The Naughties was a phrase that the child had created to describe a string of small events where she was not really misbehaving but just not quite in the mood to do as she was told happily.

Little Tarren glanced up at her mother with her wide-eyed stare not realizing she had allowed all her thoughts to spill out her lips. "Sorry momma I don't want the naughties…They just sort of come," she said quietly, giving her mother her best look of pure innocence.

Xena chuckled a bit as she carefully ran a brush through the little girl’s tangled hair.

"Well let’s see if, just once, we can’t make them go away before you get into trouble Ok?"

The child nodded and gave her mother her most mischievous grin. "I'll try Momma, but they're pretty strong ya know."

Xena let out a long breath knowing from experience just how strong they could indeed be. "Well you will let me know if you need my help. Won't you?"


The youngster swallowed knowing that her mother's version of help left her with no naughties but a sore bottom. The child considered her options and decided it best if she made them go away on her own. "Nope Momma…All gone. They left...Nope no more naughties here," the child declared with a smile.

Xena looked at the bard who was so entranced by the entire exchange, she finally decided to exit the water herself.

The warrior mother paused and gave the child a gentle hug. "Uh huh I thought they might make a run for it," she said with a nod. "Good job baby." Xena continued the task of dressing the struggling child when suddenly she heard a branch break behind her. She quickly placed the half-dressed youngster behind her and without a moment’s hesitation turned and tossed her chakrum in the direction of the unusual crunch.

A slim figure covered in leaves hit the ground as the branches above came crashing down. The warrior caught her weapon and then drew her sword moving toward the fallen spy.

The warrior mother snarled making sure her body always stood between her child and the stranger. "Get up!"

The lone figure moaned and groaned from the weight of the branches and then slowly arose from the rubble. The warrior kept her blade trained on her prisoner ready to strike at the first show of a threat.

As the slim form removed the last of the broken tree limbs from her arms and legs she picked her head up and growled, "Did you have to throw that thing so damn close to my head?"

Xena lowered her sword and smiled at the sight of the familiar face before her. Ephiny!"





Gabrielle and Xena sat in front of the fire as the amazon queen told how she had come to find them.

"So I had to go all the way to the other side of the territories to meet with the other tribe’s leaders. However, it may have been worth the trip if it brings us that much closer to joining the tribes together again." She paused and looked at her friends. "I heard you were heading this way and decided I would stop by," she moaned, rubbing a lump on her head caused by a falling branch. "Of course I should have known better than to try and make it a surprise visit."

Xena grinned slightly. "Sorry Eph."

The amazon waved her hand in the air to show her friend it was not a problem. "Nope I got just what I deserved for sneaking up on the Warrior Princess."


Tarren rushed over to the trio seated by the fire and tossed her boots in her mother’s lap hoping a little assistance putting them on would earn her some time listening to the stranger’s story.

Xena looked at the pleading eyes of her child and just patted her lap motioning for the little girl to have a seat. The mother carefully pulled each boot on a foot as the youngster stared at the oddly dressed stranger who had dared to enter the private camp.

Gabrielle shook her head as she watched her amazon friend. "Gods Ephiny I am so proud of you. You are doing such a wonderful job."

The amazon grinned and bowed her head a bit making the bard blush a bit. "Why thank you my Queen."

Tarren eyed the stranger with interest. Ephiny was a tall woman. Not as big as Xena of course, but she wore some armor and carried a sword like the warrior. Her dress was strange, mostly scant skins and some odd jewelry and an armband similar to her mother’s but not nearly as ornate.

The youngster listened to the conversation with interest as the bard handed the wide-eyed child a plate of food. Tarren took the plate but continued to stare at the stranger she had yet to be introduced to. The child chewed on her morning meal squeaking out words between bites. "Gabby I thought you were a…princess."

Before the bard could respond, Ephiny turned her head to observe the small child who had dared to interrupt such a royal conversation. She gave the youngster an angry stare. "Didn't your mother ever tell you not to interrupt your elders little girl?" the amazon asked, wondering just who this child belonged to and why children were not reared in the rest of the world in such good fashion as they were in her village.

Tarren lay back against Xena’s chest and shook her head. "Nope Momma says that if I have something to say I should just speak right up."

The warrior covered her mouth to hide a smile and Gabrielle grinned knowing that poor Ephiny was in for a very big surprise.


The amazon stared at the unruly child with dissatisfaction. "Oh really. Well your mother is not doing a very good job showing you your place child," the amazon scolded, pointing a warning finger at the small form.

Xena had remained quiet for this exchange and simply chose to pull the little girl in closer and wrap her large arms around her. Tarren looked up her mother with a sullen expression wondering if she had just again done something wrong to deserve this stranger’s immediate disapproval.

The warrior kissed the child's cheek gently and smiled to let her know she had not. "It’s Ok baby," the mother whispered in the little girl’s ear.

Ephiny noted the affectionate exchange and raised her eyebrow in confusion. "Hey who is this little brat anyway? Some kid you rescued from a burning wagon or something?"

Tarren frowned noting the way the amazon called her brat did not hold the same affection as the way Gabrielle did. There was a definite difference in the tone and the child did not like it at all. She leaned back against her mother’s chest and pulled Xena's arms tightly in around her to show the stranger just who belonged to who in this camp.

Xena winked at the bard to let her know that the pleasure of introducing Tarren to the visiting amazon would be all hers.

Gabrielle cleared her throat as if ready to make a long speech. She pointed to little Tarren and smiled. "Uh Ephiny this is Tarren. She's Xena's daughter...Solon's twin sister."

Ephiny looked at the bard and the nodding warrior and then to the angry child planted squarely in her mother’s lap. After everything she had just said the amazon was truly hoping this was just a joke. "Daughter? Xena? You’re kidding right?"


The warrior frowned a bit at the surprise her friend was showing that she could indeed have a child. "Yeah Ephiny this is my daughter. Ya know the one that doesn't know her place. The one, whose mother doesn't teach her very well."

Xena was not about to let those words go without comment.

Ephiny swallowed and looked to Gabrielle for enlightenment. "I'm sorry...I didn't know...Wow your daughter. But how?"

The bard shook her head slightly to let the visitor know that small ears were not welcome at the telling of this particular story, so the amazon just stared at the child sitting so protectively in her mother’s care.



Tarren looked up at Xena a bit confused by the stranger’s words. "Momma?" she asked, gripping onto the warrior’s wristbands.

Xena again kissed the little girl’s cheek. "Yes daughter," she replied loud enough to let the amazon know she was not kidding.

"Where is my place?" the child asked, wondering if she had indeed been misplaced at some point.

The warrior chuckled a bit and tightened her hold on the child. "Right here with me little one."

Tarren smiled at her mother and then glared at the now stunned amazon sitting across the small fire.


Ephiny let out a long breath and nodded at the youngster. "So you're Xena's kid?"

Tarren sat straight up to reply. "Yes I am. Who are you?"

The woman bowed her head slightly. "I am Ephiny, Regent of the Amazons youngster."

Gabrielle took a deep breath and shook her head eager to correct her friend’s mistake. "Actually, Tarren she’s the Queen of the Amazon Tribe," the young woman stated.

"Only while you're gone," the amazon argued, giving the bard a sideways look.

The bard shook her head and turned toward the visitor. "Ephiny!"


Xena sighed sensing a familiar argument about titles approaching.

Tarren looked at her mother and then the two bickering women and frowned. The child decided to ignore the little spat. "Gabby what's a regent?" she asked, reaching out and tugging on her friend’s arm.

Gabrielle paused in her discussion with the amazon. She leaned in beside the child and grinned "Well…It means Ephiny is the Queen in my place. She takes care of things because I’m not there."

Little Tarren offered her friend a wide grin and nodded in complete understanding. "Oh I get it. She’s your sidekick."


Xena lowered her eyes and the bard bit her lip not wanting to turn and see the expression on the visitor’s face.

"Uh no honey. Ephiny is in charge of the tribe. She is the Queen." The young woman’s tone was so decisive that even Ephiny did not argue the point any further.

The child touched the bard’s face as if trying to gather information from the contact. "But you said you were a princess. How come you’re not queen now Gabby?" the youngster asked, confused by all the titles being tossed around and wondering if she was ever going to get one.

The bard smiled and rubbed the child’s head affectionately. "Because my life is with you and Xena." She tweaked the little girl’s nose eliciting a giggle.

The youngster stared at her gentle friend. "So then why does that woman keep calling you queen?" the child asked pointing at the visitor.

Ephiny got to her feet and stretched out her muscles tired of all this chatter. "Because I am the queen in her absence youngster."

The child frowned at the strange woman. "Didn't your mother ever tell you not to interrupt?"

Xena bit her lip and covered her mouth to hide a smile. She then glanced down at her daughter knowing she needed to be corrected. The warrior’s face was a mixture of parental frustration and amusement. "Tarren that wasn’t very nice. Apologize to Ephiny."

The child said nothing.

Gabrielle gave the youngster a stern look. "Tarren you were told to apologize to Ephiny. We are waiting."

The child folded her arms against her chest and shook her head. "Not unless she apologizes first," the stubborn little girl replied.

Xena let out a long breath knowing the proud amazon would not apologize to a child. She let her voice drop to a serious level that she knew her daughter would recognize as a no nonsense tone. "Don't worry about someone else’s bad manners. You just worry about your own little girl. Now I want to hear an apology right now," she scolded, staring down at he child sulking in her lap.

Ephiny frowned at the insinuation that she was both a sidekick and that her manners were bad but said nothing.

The youngster glared at the amazon deciding that this stranger was going to be nothing but trouble. "Ok I'm sorry but only because Momma and Gabby say I have to be," the child mumbled.

Ephiny stared at the youngster amazed that Xena would allow such disrespect from anyone none the less a mere child. "Well thank you very much."

The warrior mother let out a long breath and shook her head at the very backward apology the child had offered. "Ok monster back to your bedroll," she ordered, lifting the little girl off her lap and pointed toward the blankets.

Tarren dropped her empty plate on the ground and looked at her mother with wide eyes wondering what she had done wrong now. "Why Momma?"

Xena motioned to the bedroll in the distance. The tone in her voice said the discussion was now over. "Because you are not being a very good little girl this morning, so get going...right now."

The youngster looked sadly at Gabrielle who only shook her head to let the child know this was not one of those times she would offer any assistance.

Tarren kicked a rock with the tip of her boot rather than make any headway toward the bedding. "But I didn’t do anything. I was just apologizing like you said," the child mumbled, staring at the all too familiar bedroll.

Xena got to her feet in an effort to show the youngster she was not kidding around. "Uh huh… I said move it young lady," the mother said stiffly, giving the child a gentle swat on the backside to get her started in the right direction.

Tarren bit her lip as she very slowly started back toward the blankets never taking her eyes off the stranger who had dared to enter her private world uninvited.




The warrior mother frowned as she looked at the sullen child lying on the bedroll holding both the beloved saddlebags and slingshot tightly in her grip.

Ephiny lowered her eyes a bit knowing it was her intrusion that had caused the problem. "I'm sorry Xena. I didn't mean to hurt her feelings. It's just that if she were an amazon child she wouldn’t dare…."

Xena silenced her friend with a stare. Her voice was low and subdued. "But she’s not an amazon child Eph. She's my child. Please try and remember that."

Ephiny watched as the warrior walked over to the blankets and knelt down beside the child. She could see that Xena was quietly scolding the child but then the warrior leaned in closer and whispered something to make the child smile and before the encounter was over the little girl was being held in her mother's arms giggling.




In a matter of moments Xena walked over to small campfire where the bard and Ephiny were talking. She had Tarren seated happily on her broad shoulders.

Xena glanced at the child above her. "Gabrielle as long as we are going to be a bit delayed in moving out a day, this youngster and I are going to do a few drills with the staff and the chucks. Somebody has more energy than is good for them and we're gonna go take care of that right now. Right little one?"


Tarren smiled broadly at the thought of some private play with her mother and hoping she could talk the warrior into teaching her some new maneuvers with the chucks. Anything was better than being confined to her bedroll.

"Uh...Sure Momma...We can play with the big sticks too if you want," the child replied half heartedly, much preferring the small wands to the long staff.

"It's a staff Tarren ...It's called a staff."

"Oh Ok.... Sorry…We can play with the staffs too if you want Momma."

Xena raised her eyebrows in surrender. "It's not supposed to be play ya know...You're supposed to be serious."

"Why Momma?"

"Because it's important to be able to defend yourself."

"Why Momma?"

Xena glanced at Gabrielle who shrugged. She then looked up at her daughter’s grinning face. It was time for a serious conversation. "Tarren what would you do if someone was gonna try and hurt you?"


"Call you Momma!" the child was quick to say.

Xena nodded. That was a good response but not helpful to her objective. "Well...what if I wasn't there?"

The child patted her mother’s head. "Your always there Momma. Why wouldn't you be there?"

Xena let out a long breath hoping to make a point. "What if I was fighting 50 warlords off with my sword and couldn't make it to you in time?"

Tarren chuckled at the thought. "Only 50 Momma...you'd be there," the child stated proudly.

Gabrielle and Ephiny both smiled knowing that was indeed the truth.

Xena was desperate to make some headway. "Well then I dunno… What if I fell in a hole running to get to you?"

The child tapped her chin with her finger trying to come up with a good answer. "Was it a deep hole Momma?"

Xena was having a hard time keeping up with the story that was now unfolding.

"What? No…not really deep."

The child shrugged. "Then why don't you just vault out Momma?"

The warrior covered her face with her hands wishing she had chosen a different story. "Well Tarren, maybe when I fell in I hurt my leg and I'm having trouble standing."

This vision brought the youngsters lower lip out and a single tear down the child's cheek. The game of what if had suddenly turned from mere play to serious fear when the warrior unintentionally gave her daughter an image of her mother injured and alone.

Gabrielle frowned at the warrior who could not see the child’s face who was seated high above her vision. The bard pointed up at the teary eyed and now silent child. "Xena!"

The warrior looked up and sighed when she saw her youngster's face. She brought the child quickly in front of her holding her closely. "What... Tarren what's wrong?"

The child cried, rubbing her eyes with the balls of her fists. "I don't like the part of the story where you got hurt Momma."

Xena shook her head and smiled trying to remind her child this was just a story. "But Tarren I didn't really get hurt. It’s just a make believe story. I was only trying to show you...Tell you...."

The warrior soon realized she was now touching on the child's greatest fear and broke off her thought in mid sentence. She wrapped her arms tightly around Tarren and grinned.


The mother sighed. "Ok I'm sorry ...I fell in the hole but I just vaulted right out."


"Were you hurt?" the child asked with a sniffle.

"No I wasn't hurt."

"Did ya get the 50 warlords?" the child asked with a slight smile.

"Of course I got all 50 of them," the warrior replied matter of factly.

The child grinned knowing that the story had to end with her mother triumphantly saving the day.

"So then it's a good story Momma."


Xena grinned as she stared into the youthful eyes of her young daughter hoping for even just a small victory. "Yeah it's a good story baby. But Tarren I only want you to learn to use the staff JUST so you can protect yourself better in case someone should ever try to hurt you."

The child gave the warrior a wide-eyed look of innocence that made her mother smile.

"Why Momma? You'd never let anyone hurt me. Would ya?"

Xena glanced at the grinning bard and sighed. "No baby I wouldn't let anyone ever hurt you. Come on lets go play with the big sticks." Even a warrior had to know when to surrender.


"It's called a staff Momma."



Gabrielle and Ephiny chuckled as they watched the warrior heading down the trail with a small child on her shoulder's chastising her about watching out for big holes.



After the warrior and child were out of earshot the bard explained about how they had found Tarren and all the things that had occurred in the last few months.

Ephiny glanced at her friend and true Queen. "So is this what life is for you now Gabrielle?"

The bard smiled as she considered how her days were spent. "Yeah I guess it is."

The amazon was hoping her friend would return and help her to bring the tribes back to one nation. "Ya know we could always use our rightful queen back in the village if you are looking for a change."

Gabrielle shook her head and grinned at her friend, patting the woman’s hand to let her know her loyalty was appreciated. "Nope...I've got my place here with Xena and Tarren. That's where I belong."

Ephiny let out a long breath to show her disappointment, "OK...but you three could at least visit. Come back with me for a few days. Xena is always an amazing sight to the amazons...especially the young warriors, and you are the still the rightful queen."

"Eph YOU are the queen. I think I'll stick with being a princess. It keeps Xena and I on an even level." Gabrielle grinned at the thought of Xena ever bowing to her. "But ya know I wouldn't mind a visit. Let me talk to Xena about it."

The amazon nodded and gave her friend a long stare. "Ok...Now tell me about more about this kid. She can't be Solon's twin. She's way too young, but then again she does look just like him and gods she definitely has the warrior's eyes and disposition. It's a bit confusing." She tossed a rock at a tree trying to get her own thoughts straight.

Gabrielle added a few sticks to the small fire. "I know...Xena and I have been talking about that a bit ourselves lately. All I do know is that Tarren is Xena's daughter and a very special little girl. I love her Ephiny and I don't want to see her hurt, so be careful what you say to her," the bard warned, offering a gentle smile to show her friend that it was more than a request but not quite a demand.

Ephiny shook her head and started pacing around the fire. "Gabrielle I didn't mean to insult her. She's just a kid. In the amazon village she would not dare speak without being spoken too. Amazon children are taught the meaning of discipline from a very young age."

The bard chuckled as she tried to imagine Tarren living under such a strict regime. "Well both Xena and I believe that treating her as a person first and a child second is right. She is entitled to dignity and her thoughts are important to us Ephiny."

The amazon shrugged her shoulders and grinned. "Well you guys are way too easy on her. The kid has a little attitude problem...probably needs a good kick in the britches to set her straight."

Gabrielle smiled at her friend’s lack of perspective. Even Xena had never had such a one sided view of things. The bard’s words were soft but firm. "Eph try and remember just whose kid that is. When Tarren needs to be punished her mother takes care of it. I wouldn’t push Xena. She is very protective of that child and so am I."

Ephiny put her arms up in surrender. "Uh huh. Ok but I still can’t believe that the great warrior Xena is actually a mommy."

Gabrielle got to her feet and motioned for the amazon to follow hoping that a slight demonstration of mother and daughter together would show Xena’s dedication and ability as a parent to the visitor.

The bard led she amazon to where Xena and Tarren were drilling. "Eph come with me. I want you to see something." The bard paused. "Oh and I wouldn’t call Xena Mommy if I were you."

Ephiny chuckled. "Oh no. I have too much work to do to die now."


Down on the field...


Xena tried patiently to get her young daughter to demonstrate her skill with the staff. She knew the child had learned some of the maneuvers since the warrior had watched the youngster practice her forms. However using the staff as a tool for even playful sparring only made the child giggle and the warrior frustrated.

"Hold it up higher. Now when I come in to attack you hold it over your head to block," the mother instructed.

The child held the short stick her mother had carved just to meet her small size. "Ok Momma."

Xena lifted her staff in the air and brought it slowly forward. Tarren lifted her stick in the air as she casually noticed a large butterfly on the ground. Xena’s staff tapped the child’s stick lightly and the youngster dropped it to the ground. The warrior fell back and leaned on her staff watching the child now playing with the butterfly. The mother’s words became stern because she wanted the child to focus her attention with the staff the same way she did with the chucks.

"Tarren you're not even trying. You need to hold the stick…the staff as if you were really being attacked."

The youngster waved at the butterfly as it flew away and then stared up at her mother with a broad smile. "I am Momma, but it's hard cause I know you'd never hurt me."

Xena looked at the smiling face of innocence staring up at her and grinned. She put her staff down and knelt beside her daughter. The child immediately reached out and hugged her mother and the warrior could do little more than accept the embrace happily. "Ok monster…Staff now and hugs later."

The warrior mother seated the child on her knee and pointed to the staff dropping her voice to a soft whisper. "Baby you do the forms perfectly, but when I ask you to spar you always back away. Why?" the warrior asked, wondering if she was pushing the small child too much.


Tarren quickly reached up and hugged the stoic warrior again. "I don't wanna fight with you. You're my Momma," was the innocent reply.


Xena smiled at the gentle words. "Well what if I get Gabrielle?"

The child giggled. "No she's Gabby."

Xena chuckled a bit; knowing this would be her daughter’s reaction. "Well Gabrielle likes it when you spar with her. As a matter of fact, she likes it most when you make her land in the dirt," the warrior said with a grin, remembering how her bard had referred to her as a spoiled brat earlier that morning.

The little girl’s eyes went wide with surprise. "She does?"

Xena thought carefully about the answer that she was about to give. It wasn’t exactly a lie since the Gabrielle did like to know that Tarren was learning to protect herself. The warrior was just making a small assumption based on that idea that such an action would serve as proof that the child was indeed learning.

The warrior mother nodded. "Uh huh…Of course she likes it. You see how many times I do it to her don’t ya?"

The youngster nodded as she played with the straps on her mother’s armor. "Yes Momma."

"Well I wouldn’t do it if she didn’t like it. Would I?" the warrior asked, hoping she was not digging herself into too deep a hole with the bard.

"No Momma," the child replied wondering how strong the straps really were.

The youngster pulled on one and noticed that it did not tear.

Xena quickly moved the little girl’s hand away. "Hey don’t do that!" she scolded.

Tarren giggled at her mother and again reached for the strap.

Xena arched an eyebrow and let her voice drop. "Tarren I said no!"

The youngster started to turn and when the warrior’s concentration was refocused, the child reached for the strap ready to test its endurance once again.

However, the warrior’s quick reflexes caught the small fingers and Xena slapped the child’s hand lightly. "Hey I said No. Don’t do that. You’ll rip it."

Tarren pushed her lip out to show her dissatisfaction. "I was just playing."

Xena shook her head. She could feel her resolve melt as she stared at the little girl rubbing the sting from her small hand. "I know, but you can’t play with everything you touch or see Tarren and when I say no I mean no!"

The youngster’s eyes went wide and she said nothing.

The warrior let out a long breath and took the little girl’s hand in her own and kissed it gently. "Better?"

The child grinned at her mother’s gentle touch as the warrior caressed the slapped wrist.

"Uh huh…It didn’t really hurt Momma."

Xena collapsed her legs so she was now sitting on the ground with Tarren on planted on top of her. "Go ahead youngster. Pick me apart. Give me gray hair. I give up."

The child giggled as she made an attempt to tickle her mother.

The warrior responded by tossing the little girl over her shoulder and running her fingers across her legs. "Oh pick on your mother when she’s down will you. I’ll teach you."

Xena lifted the little girl to one side and let both her hands run up and down the squealing child’s sides.

Tarren laughed loudly until the warrior gathered the child in her arms and stood placing a kiss squarely on the child’s nose. "Back to the staffs little girl."

"Oh no not that," the youngster begged, grabbing her mother’s straps once again.

Xena shook her head in warning. "Don’t you even think about it. Rip one of those straps and I’ll paddle you good."

"Would not," the child argued.

"Would to," the mother responded, twirling her staff skillfully over her head.

"No ya wouldn’t," the child decided reaching for the forbidden leather.

"Wanna find out?" the mother asked, giving her daughter a raised eyebrow.

Tarren noticed the familiar eye movement, released the straps and smiled. "Nope!"

The warrior put the little girl on the ground and tasseled her hair. "Good choice monster. Now pick up your staff and let’s get back to work."

The child grumbled a bit and just stared innocently at her mother awaiting her next instruction. Xena rubbed the little girl’s face with the side of her hand and smiled knowing this small child was not about to spar well with she or Gabrielle. "Well I guess sparring is out."

There was a long a pause as the warrior considered asking the youngster to pick a fight with a tree. She decided against it realizing Tarren had probably made friends out of most of them as well.


A strange voice called from the edge of the meadow Xena had been using for her drills.

"I might be able to help a bit. I've done a little sparring with the staff myself."

The warrior looked up and grinned at Gabrielle and Ephiny as they approached.

Tarren grabbed her mother’s hand as the amazon moved closer hoping that this dream was really coming true.

Xena shook her head. "Ephiny she's just a kid. I don't want her fighting. I just want her practicing a few basic defense drills," the warrior replied, knowing her friend’s great expertise with the staff.

The amazon queen offered the warrior a quick smile and waved her hand to dismiss the mother’s concerns. "Oh Xena I've taken time on the fields with all the youngsters in the village. I won't hurt her," she said with a smile, wishing to offer some assistance in putting this child on the right path.

The little girl stood patiently waiting for her mother to make a decision.

Xena thought for a moment and then looked down at her small daughter. "Tarren would you like to spar with Ephiny?" she asked, knowing the youngster would decline.

"Yes Momma," the child replied quickly, eager for any chance to thump the stranger who she felt had insulted both she and her mother.

Xena’s eyes flew open. "Uh huh…great," the surprised warrior replied. She moved beside the amazon and whispered in her hear. "Ephiny you and I are friends, but that is my daughter. Don’t forget that. OK?" she warned, giving the woman a look into the depth of her eyes.

The amazon nodded in understanding. "Relax Xena I'm just gonna offer the kid a chance to spar with a real opponent. Ya know someone that doesn’t tuck her in at night. I’ll be like a tree. I’ll hardly move."

Xena nodded and moved beside Gabrielle who looked on the entire turn of events with trepidation. "Err…Xena do you think this is a good idea?" she asked, noting the strange smile on the little girl’s face as she eagerly waited for the joust to begin.

The warrior mother nodded. "Well Tarren needs to learn to control the staff and she doesn't want to spar with us, so maybe this will be a good experience for her," she answered not quite sure who she was trying to convince. "Look I’m not gonna let anything happen."

Gabrielle let out a quick breath and shook her head, "Ok but just remember this was your idea."

Xena turned. "No it wasn’t. It was Ephiny’s and you brought her down here."

Tarren glanced over at the two bickering women. She was getting a bit impatient for the fun to begin. "Momma?"

Xena paused in her discussion with her friend to answer her daughter. "Yes Tarren,"

"Can we start fighting or do we have to wait for you and Gabby to stop first?" the child asked with a smirk.

Xena folded her arms tightly against her chest and frowned at her child. "Very funny little one. You just mind your manners and worry about your opponent."

The child lowered her eyes under the scolding. "Yes ma’am."

Xena winked at her daughter and the youngster again smiled.

The warrior glanced at both the amazon and her young daughter and threw her hand in the air to signal the start of the match.

Tarren took her position opposite Ephiny with a renewed interest in sparring with the big stick. She gripped the staff in her hands tightly just as her mother had taught her.

Ephiny grinned and slowly circled the child. "Don't worry kid. I won't hurt you."


Tarren shook her head wondering if this stranger was going to talk or fight. "Thanks."

The amazon brought her staff slowly around to the child's side and Tarren back flipped in the air and let her small staff whirl through the air making contact with the strangers.


Xena smiled proudly at Gabrielle. "That’s my daughter!"

The bard gave her friend a gentle poke. "Yup she sure is warrior."

The amazon gripped her staff tightly and again circled the small child. "Well...well aren't we the little Warrior Princess?"

Tarren grinned appreciating any comparison that was made between she and her mother.

Ephiny moved forward trying to swipe the youngster's feet. Tarren again vaulted in the air, this time bringing her own small staff quickly across the amazon’s lower back with a thud.

Gabrielle looked at Xena who was still smiling. "Xena are you gonna let this continue?" the bard asked, noting the sour expression on the amazon’s face.

The warrior was pleased with her young daughter’s ability to defend herself even a little against such a worthy opponent. All the months of drilling had not been in vain. "Uh huh what? Oh just a bit more Gabrielle. Ephiny won't hurt her." the warrior mother reassured her friend. However she then immediately brought her concentration to the amazon’s maneuvers.


Ephiny glared at the child who had dared to make a strike at her back.

The youngster just grinned and twirled the staff playfully in the air and giggled. "This is fun!"

The amazon warrior sneered at the child’s lack of respect for the art. "OK kid I think it's about time you learned a lesson in respect," the woman growled settling down into a serious fighting stance.

The small child looked at her new playmate oddly wondering why the stranger wasn’t enjoying the game as much as she was. Tarren shrugged and held her staff in the air again ready for an attack.

However this time the amazon warrior swung her staff with some force at the child’s side. Tarren reached out to block the move but it wasn’t necessary since Xena's hand stopped the motion before it ever had a chance to make contact with the youngster’s staff.

"I think that will be enough sparring for today. Thanks Eph" the warrior said with a grin, holding the amazon’s staff firmly in her grip. "Unless you are in the mood for a real workout with me," she offered, never allowing her smile to fade.

Tarren took up a safe position behind her mother's leg and peered at the now angry amazon.

Ephiny considered the offer but shook her head knowing Xena was better with both the staff and the sword. She had not come to fight with her friends and her own foolish pride was bringing her to that point. The amazon released her hold on the staff and sighed. "Sorry, I guess I got a bit carried away. The youngster handles the staff pretty well for a little kid."

Xena placed a hand on her friend’s shoulder and winked knowing the amazon had indeed held back all her natural abilities to give the child a chance to practice. "Thanks Eph."

The amazon nodded and turned to head back toward the camp.

Gabrielle watched as her friend walked off noting the heavy strides she was now taking. "Xena that was not a good thing. Was it?"

The warrior knew that an amazon’s pride was their greatest strength and greatest weakness. "Nope!"

Tarren looked up at her mother and the bard wondering what all the fuss was about. "What’s a matter? Didn’t the lady like the game Momma?"


Xena smiled at the youngster. "Well to her it was not a game baby." The warrior knelt beside the small child. "You however did really well. I am very proud of you. I just wish you had not done so well on Ephiny. She's a proud warrior Tarren and having a kid get even one strike in is a bit humiliating for her."

Tarren lowered her eyes a bit and looked at the bard. "I'm real sorry Gabby. I didn't mean to hurt your friend," the child said, sensing this woman seemed very important to the bard.

Gabrielle grinned and tasseled the child's hair. "Don't worry about it honey. Ephiny is not hurt. She's just a little unhappy... She'll get over it...I hope." She touched the child’s face, "Beside I agree with Xena. You did really well out there."

Tarren smiled and twirled her staff playfully. It was always nice to have Xena and Gabrielle say they were proud of her. However the youngster decided to drop her little staff to the ground and reach her arms up to her mother rather than play further.

Xena quickly brought the child into her embrace. "What’s this?"

Tarren buried her head in her mother’s shoulder as she laced her hands around the warrior’s neck. "Hug time. Staffs later and hugs now."

Xena smiled at Gabrielle and squeezed her daughter tightly. "Hugs for you anytime little one."

Both she and the bard had noticed that since leaving Amphipolis, Tarren had become even more in need of affection than before. The child was always reaching out to one of them for a comforting hug. However what the youngster seemed to crave most was to be held tightly in her mother’s arms, something Xena was most happy to do.




"So what are we gonna play now?" the youngster asked, feeling she deserved a reward for playing so nicely with the unfriendly stranger

Xena looked at Gabrielle and shook her head. "We are not playing little girl. We are practicing. IF you think this is playtime then maybe I should send you back to your bedroll since you’re not supposed to be playing at all right now."

"Uh…No Momma…I wanna practice more," the youngster pleaded, deciding anything was better than more time in the bedroll.

Xena grinned knowing she had gotten her message across. "Ya do huh?"

The child smiled hoping to show some enthusiasm. "Yup I’ll even toss Gabby into the dirt the way you say she likes."


Xena closed her eyes and quickly covered Tarren’s mouth with her hand before any other secrets spilled out.

The bard who had been watching the amazon moving in the distance suddenly turned around and faced her large friend. "Xena!" The younger woman placed her hands on her hips and the warrior could see her friend’s face turning red with anger. "Xena, what did you tell her?"

The warrior hoisted the child over her shoulder and started to back away. "Sorry Gabrielle can’t talk right now. I promised Tarren we’d work with her chucks. See you later."

Xena smiled at her friend and then with a confused child in one arm and two staffs in the other she headed for a new, more private place to drill as well as have a long talk with her daughter about keeping secrets.

Tarren waved at the bard and Gabrielle forced a slight smile and wiggled her fingers at the departing child. "You can run but you can’t hide forever warrior."






Chapter 2 – Just the Way of it


That evening Tarren lay on her bedroll working on her scrolls while Xena sat talking with Ephiny and Gabrielle.

Xena had been mulling thoughts in her head since Ephiny had arrived. "So what is the chance of joining these tribes together again?"

The amazon queen let out a long breath. "Well the biggest problem is that there are so many leaders that no one person is willing to listen to the other…As a matter of fact Xena I had mentioned to Gabrielle before that if you guys weren’t busy…maybe you could visit the village." Ephiny glanced at Gabrielle who was waving her hands frantically in the air. "Xena everyone knows who you are and it could make a big difference," the woman said quietly, staring at her infamous friend while awaiting a response.

The warrior glanced at the bard who bowed her head slightly and smiled. "Well Gabrielle never mentioned this to me Ephiny. Did ya?" the warrior chided.

Gabrielle shrugged as she cooked the fish in the large frying pan over the fire. "Gee I was going to Xena but I was too busy looking for someone to toss me into the dirt. You know how much I enjoy that."

Ephiny glanced at her two friends oddly. "You two spend too much time on the road," she murmured.

Xena let out a long breath realizing her earlier words were going to be something that followed her for quite a while. "Oh well… As long as you were busy doing something you enjoy then I forgive you Gabrielle," the warrior replied with an equally sly smile.

Ephiny listened to the exchange and shook her head. "So are you coming or not?" she asked point blank.

The warrior frowned, hating being held up as an example. She did not want people looking up to her. Xena felt she had made too many mistakes in her life to be considered a proper role model for strangers. The warrior glanced at he grinning bard. "Ok we’ll visit, but no Warrior Princess stuff. We’re just gonna visit as friends. Right?"

Ephiny nodded in agreement.

Gabrielle just smiled wondering if she had enough pull in the village to muster a parade in Xena’s honor knowing just how much her friend loved attention.

Xena studied the bard’s odd expression and shook her head. "Don’t even think about it," she ordered.

The young woman sighed wondering how the warrior could always read her thoughts.

Xena was about to say something to the amazon when a small voice pierced the air.


The warrior mother tilted her head to the side. "Yes Tarren," was the gentle reply.

The little girl grinned. "I’m finished."

Xena smiled at Gabrielle and then motioned for the child to approach. "Well Ok then bring them over," she ordered.


Ephiny gave the bard a confused look. "What’s all this about?" she asked, staring at the small child approaching with an armload of scrolls.

Gabrielle leaned in close to the queen and whispered, "Tarren got in trouble and part of her punishment was to write down all the things she did wrong 100 times, so she wouldn’t forget. I guess she finally finished it. Thank the gods. I don’t think I could have taken another day with her lying in that bedroll."

The amazon rolled her eyes at Xena’s idea of discipline but watched the exchange none the less.

The youngster handed her mother the scrolls and waited for judgment to be passed.

Xena’s eyes scanned them all quickly and glanced up at the child. "Hey there’s one missing," she grumbled.

Tarren pulled the final scroll from behind her back and giggled.

The mother tickled the child’s side as she took the last parchment. "You’re not funny."

Xena put the scrolls down and faced the child putting on her most serious parental face. "Ok now young lady tell me what the scrolls say."

Tarren looked at Ephiny not grateful for her presence at such a private moment but then brought her attention back to her mother’s gentle eyes.

"They say…I will not tell lies…I will not copy other people’s handwriting…I will not go places Momma says I can’t go…and…Momma loves me very much," the youngster recited, hoping she had gotten them all.

Xena grinned and pulled the little girl gently onto her lap. "Very good. Now do you think you can remember all of those?"

The child nodded. "I’ll try Momma," the youngster replied with a smile.

"And if you should forget?" the mother asked in a low husky voice, wanting the child to know that this was not a game.

The child said nothing but merely rubbed her bottom to show she understood quite well the penalty for forgetting.

Xena smiled, rolled the scrolls up and handed them to Gabrielle. "OK then you can put that bedroll away until bedtime."


Tarren jumped up from her mother’s lap. "Ya mean I don’t have to stay in my bedroll anymore?" she asked with uncontrollable excitement.

Xena placed her hands on the child’s face and grinned. "Nope…You’ve been given an early release because you’re too damn cute for your own good…that and the fact that I want to sleep tonight," the mother answered, grateful to see her child so happy.

Tarren reached out and hugged her mother tightly, "Well then can we go fishing and swimming and go play with the slingshot and…."

Xena grinned and covered the child’s mouth to get a pause in the ramblings. "Not so fast…Tarren pick one."

"Swimming!" she yelled starting to strip off her clothes.

Xena stopped the child just as she was getting to the bare essentials. "Ok we’ll go for a swim, but I wanna tell ya something first. We’re gonna go visit the Amazons for a bit," she said quietly, staring into the youngster’s blue eyes.

Tarren’s smile disappeared. She had hoped the stranger would be gone by morning. Now she was being taken to an entire tribe of Ephinys. "Why?"

Xena glanced at Gabrielle fearing the child might have this reaction after their recent visit to Amphipolis and Tarren’s obvious displeasure with the visitor. "Well they’re our friends and we haven’t seen them in a while, so we want to go say hello," the mother replied.

"They’re not my friends," the child muttered, staring at the stranger who she knew had brought these problems into her private world.

Gabrielle glanced at Ephiny who just lowered her eyes knowing this was partly her fault. The young woman moved beside the sulking child. "Hey they are your friends and you’re gonna like them an awful lot."

Tarren shook her head. "No I won’t. It will be just like Amphipolis. I’ll be left all alone," she replied with a tear.

Xena lifted the half-dressed child into her lap. "Tarren nobody is gonna leave you alone. You will go where we go," she replied gently. The mother glanced at the sad eyes of her young child and tried to smile. "Hey monster ya know Gabrielle swings a bit of weight over there. You could have some real fun."

Tarren looked at the gentle face of the bard. "Do you really swing weights Gabby?" the youngster asked wondering how that might be fun for her.

The bard nodded trying to muster a royal pose. "Yeah I am the queen Tarren…I might even be able to get some sloppy cheese sandwiches made," she said with a smile.

Xena glanced at her friend and shook her head feeling the young woman was going a bit too far.

Ephiny’s eye popped open and she smiled. "Oh really …A minute ago you were just a princess."

Gabrielle gave her friend and fellow queen a warning stare. "Well NOW would be a very good time foe us BOTH to be queens," she said through tightened lips, motioning to the youngster so her friend knew the reason for the change in titles.



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