~ Ephiny and the Battle for the Amazons ~
by AJ Marks

Disclaimers: "Xena: Warrior Princess" is not owned by me, but by Renaissance Pictures and MCA/Universal. Fourth in the Ephiny series and takes place right after "Ephiny and the Roman Army". Disclaimer 2: This story is written entirely in Ephiny's point of view. Yes Gabrielle is a slave to the Conqueror, but in name only. Nudity, you bet, sex, no, mentioned yes. Enjoy, send any comments to AJMarks01@aol.com

Ephiny walked towards the nearby lake hoping to find Gabrielle there. Melosa asked her to find the princess and bring her back to the Queen's hut. Eph's first stop had been Terreis', no Gabrielle's hut, only to find it empty. She thought perhaps she and the Conqueror had gone to the Greek Royal Guard camp. On her way there she ran across Zona, who told her to try the lake instead. She wondered about the slight face Zona made when she headed out to find the missing princess.

Closing in she heard the unmistakable sound causing her to stop in her tracks. She knew that sound, and now suddenly thought twice about interrupting Gabrielle, at least she hoped that's who it was. Silently cursing Melosa she trudged on hoping any noise she made would alert the couple ahead. Entering the clearing she stopped at the sight in front of her. She expected it, but it still surprised her.

Lying near the lake the Conqueror and Gabrielle were making love. Eph felt she should turn away, leave, something but oddly she felt mesmerized by the sight. Of course, her position was not helped when Gabrielle climaxed leaving Eph staring.

Eph stood there, feeling quite sure her brain stopped working at the sight before her. Neither the Conqueror or Gabrielle appeared to have noticed, at least she thought so. The Conqueror, lying on top of Gabrielle, whispered something to Gabrielle, who turned to look at Eph.

Eph watched not sure she could look away as the Conqueror rolled off Gabrielle allowing the smaller woman to get up.

"Hey Eph, what's up? Gabrielle asked, walking towards her.

Eph's mind heard the words, at least the sounds, but not the meanings. Her brain still focused on the sight she'd seen and the sight before her. Gabrielle had to repeat the question.

"Um, yeah, queen, talk, you," Eph stuttered out, and then stopped. She faced Gabrielle who appeared to look confused for a few seconds then finally replied.

"All right," Gabrielle said drawing out the word. "The queen wants to see me?"

Eph nodded not trusting her speech making abilities. She wondered if she'd ever get that image out of her mind, or if she wanted to? Now, she had a sudden urge to find Eponin and drag her off to bed again, and sleeping wouldn't be an option.

"She probably wants to see you now," the Conqueror said.

"Think so," Gabrielle replied, turning towards the Conqueror. Eph felt slightly relieved the princess no longer faced her, now however Eph had a perfect view of a cute butt as it walked away from her.

"Yeah," the Conqueror said. "It's the only reason Ephiny would have continued on into the clearing."

The Conqueror's words finally got though to Eph snapping her out of her stupor to say something intelligent.

"Princess Gabrielle the Queen would like to talk to you," Eph said, slightly proud she hadn't stumbled with the words.

"All right, let me wash up then," Gabrielle replied.

Eph watched Gabrielle jump into the lake then climb back out where the Conqueror stood holding a cloth for drying. Eph took that time to look out across the lake at the other shore hoping to calm herself down.

"All right, let's go," Gabrielle said.

Eph turned to see a now dry, still nude, Gabrielle walking towards her. She looked anywhere but at Gabrielle. Each time she allowed her eyes to look over she looked further down. She did notice the ever present chain attached to the nipple rings. She finally stopped otherwise she might trip and that, she didn't want to do.

Eph felt relieved when she only had to drop Gabrielle off, and not go into the Royal hut. With a bow to the queen Eph took off towards her hut, glad when she noticed Eponin walking out. Eph dragged her lover back into the hut and closed the door.

Eph stretched feeling quite pleased still lying on top of Eponin. Eph wondered if her lover thought about her being crazy dragging them back inside the hut like some sex-crazed honeymooners who only joined a few hours ago.

"Ya know, I'm not complaining here, but what brought this on," Eponin finally asked. Eph lifted her head enough to gaze into Eponin's eyes before blushing a bit at the reason.

"Um, well," Eph said, scratching the side of her nose. "The queen wanted to talk to Gabrielle, and well, I, um, found them."

"And this has to do with our exciting morning how?"

"Well, they were at the lake, havingsex," Eph said quickly. She felt the heat of her blush intensify across her face.

"Let me guess, they made you horny," Eponin said.

"You'd have to be dead for them not to," Eph replied, putting her head back down on Eponin's chest feeling the laughter there.

"If it's any help, you're not the first one. Erika ran across them that first day. I don't think Cybela's recovered. Probably hasn't seen that much action in years," Eponin said. "I've seen many head to their huts only to walk out later on, walking a bit funny."

"Great," Eph said. "Now the whole village know what happened, but, why haven't I seen it?"

"Probably because you're around her whenever they are in the village," Eponin replied. "It's when they're off alone when the others try to catch a glance at our new princess, and stumble upon them, well, personally I'm not sure how much of a show the princess is putting on or not?"

Eph thought about that for a few seconds before Eponin threw her thoughts off track.

"Speaking of the princess, I wanted to run something by you?"

"All right," Eph said, rolling out of the bed searching for her clothes, which lay all over the hut. "Make it quick, I need to get over to the Queen hut, she mentioned she wanted me to come by later, and you as well to update her on the Romans."

Eph walked into the Queen's hut, casting another glance at Eponin before continuing inside. She stopped short at the sight of her mother sitting across from the Queen. She barely noticed the fact that the Conqueror and Gabrielle were also in the hut. When Eph finally did noticed she had to look twice at the fact Gabrielle sat on the Conqueror's lap, looking quite like the owner of said lap.

"Um, mother, I wasn't expecting to see you here?" Eph said, managing to hide her surprise.

"Oh, Ephiny, I was talking with the queen about a small problem that seems to have developed," her mother replied.

"And what is that," Eph said, looking over at Eponin who avoided her gaze.

"Well, as you know Gabrielle isn't technically an Amazon, an das such would need to be adopted into the Nation," her mother said.

"Yeeeessssss," Eph said, drawing the word out before looking over at the queen, the Conqueror and Gabrielle and finally to Eponin.

"I've made the motion to adopt Gabrielle," her mother said.

"Really," Eph said, not breaking eye contact with Eponin. What a coincidence, so did we."

"Oh good, then it's settled," her mother said. "We'll adapt Gabrielle."

"This will settle many things. A lot of people were afraid of adopting Gabrielle, as the Empress would be included as well," Melosa said.

Eph thought about what that all might mean. Gabrielle as a legal sister of the Nation, and that would basically mean the Conqueror as a sister-in-law. Eph thought for sure worse things could happen, but nothing came to mind at the moment. Of course Gabrielle spent some time in the library yesterday. They had a shared interest with her mother which she didn't have. She almost said something when Erika walked into the hut.

"My queen," Erika said, giving a slight bow to Melosa and one to Gabrielle. Eph thought she noticed a slight double take at the position of Gabrielle but Erika said nothing else about it.

"Report," Melosa said.

"The Centaurs were not easy to convince, but it appears that an emissary from Greece arrived shortly afterwards. Their arrival allowed for some real discussions to take place," Erika said. "They'll be there if we need them. It appears they have more problems against Rome than they do against us."

"Interesting," the Conqueror said.

Eph had the feeling that the Conqueror knew more than she stated but nothing else came forward. Before she could saying anything else Solari walked in. Judging by her friend's face Eph felt sure something else had now happened.

"My queen, the Roman camp had some visitors," Solari said, bowing slightly to Melosa.

"Who?" Melosa asked. Eph wondered the same thing.


Eph looked quickly at Solari but saw no deception at all in her friend's face. She became slightly aware that the rest of the group now also stared at Solari.

"Valaska sent me to inform you the moment we saw her," Solari said.

A commotion from outside interrupted the conversation before Melosa could reply. A stray voice came in from outside, one that Eph felt sure she recognized. However, the Conqueror left the hut before anyone else had a change to even recover. She noticed Gabrielle had managed to stand up though and now also strode outside after the Conqueror. Eph followed the rest of the group outside.

Eph blinked at the brightness of the sun after being inside. Her vision finally cleared enough to see why the voice seemed recognizable to her. There flanked by two warriors stood Autolycus with the Conqueror staring at him.

"Um, Autolycus, what are you doing here?' Eph finally asked.

"Well, I was bringing information about the Romans, but," he looked at the two guards, "now I'm not sure."

"Spill it," the Conqueror growled.

Autolycus glanced from the Conqueror to the guards back to the Conqueror before looking at Gabrielle then decided to answer.

"They're moving tonight, against the Amazons," he finally said.

For a second no one spoke as what Autolycus said sunk in. "And how do you know?" Solari finally asked.

"I overheard the commander giving the order after talking with that Amazon, Tanis," Autolycus replied.

"She's no Amazon," Melosa growled.

"All right," Autolycus said, holding up his hands. "She said she was, also said she was the rightful ruler. Said all they had to do was use a bit of force and she could take right over."

"So, the game begins," the Conqueror said. "I suggest contacting the Centaurs, they'll need time to start moving, as well as my guards and a few others."

"This is still Amazon land," Melosa said. Eph watched the Conqueror nod her head towards Melosa's direction then wait.

Eph didn't know whether to feel in insulted or proud. Staying behind meant she would miss the battle, but yet the Queen trusted her enough to stay guard with Gabrielle. Both Melosa and Valaska lead groups of Amazons, and some of the Conqueror's troops in the upcoming battle. The Nation would need at least one princess safe from the fighting just in case.

The activity around the village picked up even more when Valaska returned with additional information. The Romans appeared to have been joined by several Amazons who were loyal to Tanis.

Gabrielle, meanwhile, had been quite helpful in the entire situation. Eph's main concern had been Valaska. She appeared to out for revenge on Tanis. Eph wondered which Valaska had more contempt of, using her name, or what had happened before the banishment. Passing Valaska, Eph thought she heard Valaska mumbling something about what she'd do when she caught Tanis.

"I guess it really is going to be a war," Eph said to Eponin entering their hut.

"Seems like it," Eponin said. "The Conqueror is already brining up her support and is going to place it under the Amazon command."

That statement shocked Eph. She felt sure that the Conqueror would not place her troops under the command of anyone else. Perhaps they really had misjudged the Conqueror.

"What about the Conqueror, she's all right with this?" Eph asked.

"She's the one who suggested it," Eponin replied. "Looks like it's going to work though. Jana is coordinating with the Centaurs and hopefully things go well."

"And I get to stay behind and protect the Princess," Eph stated, looking over at Eponin.

"Only because her normal guards are going with us," Eponin said. "The Conqueror requested at least one person stay with Gabrielle."

Eph nodded her head in agreement. A thousand armed Romans on their shores and adding in the additional problem of several Amazons turning traitor only served to weaken their position. Melosa had called roll to see how many and who were missing. About a dozen were missing, including Koni and Ligeia. What really worried Eph and she felt sure Eponin and the Queen had been the fact the Amazons knew the defenses of the Nation.

"Looks like Tanis will stop at nothing to become queen," Eph finally said.

"I know, I think we all should be careful," Eponin said.

Eph, knowing that Eponin had to go gave her a quick kiss. Glancing over she noticed Gabrielle and the Conqueror. Eph could see the worry in Gabrielle posture as the smaller woman poked the warrior several times. The Conqueror gently grabbed the poking hands and pulled Gabrielle to her for a kiss. Eph turned back to Eponin who also had witnessed the scene.

"Come back safely," Eph said.

"I will, but you be careful as well," Eponin replied.

"I will," Eph said, watching Eponin finally walk towards the waiting troops. She hoped they all returned safely but knew war would take some of them.

"I take it you normally go with them?" Eph heard Gabrielle ask. She turned to the princess, who wore the armband of her rank, but nothing else except the small gold color and chain.

"Yeah, normally, but the Queen had a different mission for me this time," Eph replied, glancing one last time at the disappearing warrior then back to the princess.

"It never gets easy, I'll tell you that," Gabrielle said. "It's not the first time we've done this, and each time I hope she returns.

"Must be tough," Eph admitted, turning towards the dining hall. Perhaps she could help setting up the medical supplies to take her mind off what would be happening real soon.

Once inside the hut Eph watched in fascination the princess' abilities. Gabrielle never hesitated, or waited to be asked before pitching in and taking over. Eph guessed the princess had done this more than once.

Eph felt, for once, like an outsider watching everything going on. Deciding to give people room she walked outside. The training grounds stood empty, testament to the warriors' absence. She noticed even the empty field where children would play. The elders already left with the children to a safe place.

Sitting down she lost track of time. Her mind kept turning to the battle, each time she had to push that thought away. She didn't need to think about what might happen, at least not right now. They had the Conqueror helping them, no way would they lose this battle.

Realizing she'd been out for a while Eph turned to head back into the hut when a couple of figures emerged not far away. She quickly thought something might have happened until she recognized Tanis. Had the warriors been defeated?

Eph noticed no other warriors to help her out. She had to confront four Amazons. One she had a good chance of defeating, but all four, Eph held no illusions about winning. However she had sworn to protect the village. Right now that enemy walked towards her smirking.

"Well, well, well, if it isn't the queen's pet Ephiny. What's the matter, not good enough to join the real warriors?" Tanis taunted.

Eph jaw set in anger speaking before she thought. "No, I'm guarding the princess."

"The princess, I think you mean that slut slave, ha-ha," Tanis said. The other three chuckled along with Tanis. Eph recognized Koni but didn't see Ligeia anywhere. Tanis continued on though, "that slut will be my ticket to becoming queen, like I should be."

"I don't think so," Eph replied, trying to think of a way out of the situation. She could expect no help from the warriors fighting the Romans and she knew she had no chance of holding Tanis off for so long.

"Tell me where the slut is and I'll make your death painless," Tanis said, drawing her sword.

Eph watched the sword, the sunlight glinting off it knowing she had lost any chance of stalling Tanix. The ex-Amazon wanted this over. Eph went for her own sword stopping suddenly when a thought came to her.

"Where's your Roman leash, after all you went crawling to them," she said, satisfied at Tanis' scowl.

"I have no owner," Tanis growled back.

"Funny," Eph said, taking a more relaxing posture. "You ran to Caesar and everyone knows he doesn't share power, did he promise you something?"

"You should realize I'm already Queen, Melosa will die by Roman hands as will Valaska, and I'll have the Right-of-Caste," Tanis said. Eph heard the confidence in Tanis' voice, a confidence the woman always seemed to have no matter how wrong she was.

"Then the Nation will cease to exist. You've doomed us to slaves of Rome, literally," Eph replied.

"Not likely, I've already got plans for him," Tanis said.

"And it won't work," a new voice said behind Eph. She didn't have to turn around to know who said that, but glanced anyways to see Gabrielle walking towards them. Eph glanced back at Tanis and her group noticing that Gabrielle had the same effect she had on everyone else.

"So," Tanis said, recovering quickly. "The Conqueror's slut shows up at last."

"Probably best she didn't hear you," Gabrielle replied. Eph marveled at how calm the princess appeared to be.

"Or what, she'd kill me. I've seen her fight, and I'm not impressed little girl. Caesar's told me all about how easy she is to defeat," Tanis said, giving a lazy swipe of her sword.

"Did Caesar tell you have he uses everyone around him, or how he allows no one else to gain any power? You'll be more his slave than I am the Conqueror's slave," Gabrielle said.

"You Bitch," Tanis said. Eph noticed Tanis' face reddening with anger and almost failed to notice the aggressive move towards Gabrielle but managed to place herself between the two women.

"You wish to challenge me, I'm more a warrior than you ever hope to be," Tanis stated.

"Maybe not, but I'm more of an Amazon than you'll ever be," Eph replied, dodging Tanis' blade.

"Amazon, you don't even know what the word means," Tanis said, her voice getting louder. "Only I do, I've been chosen by Artemis herself."

"Then she's appeared to you?" Eph heard Gabrielle ask.

"Silly slave, you know nothing about the gods, no, of course you don't. She doesn't have to appear, I've seen her signs," Tanis said.

Eph ducked again countering with an attack of her own. Tanis easily blocked it. Eph barely had time to block another attack feeling slightly grateful the others hadn't joined the fight. She barely thought that when Tanis backed away breaking off the fight.

"You're not worth fighting me, Koni, Riga, kill her," Tanis said, stepping back allowing the other two to step forward.

Eph glanced at the group now behind Tanis noticing that Ligeia and another Amazon now stood with the group.

"With pleasure," Koni said, withdrawing her sword. "The Nation is ours, and the warriors are off fighting the Romans."

"Not all of us," another voice said. Eph risked a glance sideways in the direction of the voice. She noticed Erika and another elder standing there. Eph hoped the elders had not brought any children with them.

"How sweet, has been warriors," Tanis said, laughing. "Not that it matters, kill them as well. And as for you 'princess', I'd love to sample your pleasure, but you're holding my Right-of-Caste."

Eph gave herself a bit of room to face off against Riga and Koni. The arrival of the two elders did help their chances. She briefly noticed that Tanis had started towards Gabrielle who still stood not far away leaning slightly against a staff.

"I suggest you focus on us, unless you wish to die looking at your princess," Koni said.

Eph realized that attacking gave her the best chance to escape. Eph managed several swings at Riga forcing the woman off her feet before blocking an attack from Koni. Other battles broke out behind her but Eph knew she could do little about them at the moment.

"You know this is futile," Eph heard Tanis said, she thought to Gabrielle. "Give up and I'll make sure to end your pathetic existence quickly."

"I see you lack the ability to understand who is defeated already," Gabrielle's voice said. Eph ducked an attack from Riga, whose swing caused Koni to step back allowing Eph to move back slightly.

Eph risked another quick glance over at Gabrielle and the elders, who appeared to be holding their own at the moment.

"You do realize that if you kill the princess Rome won't be able to save you. You will have destroyed the Nation and anyone helping will be destroyed as well," Eph said, hoping to distract Koni.

"I doubt that, Tanis already has is all figured out," Koni replied. "So far everything is going as planned, right down to making that Roman a hero in the Amazon nation for killing Tarreis."

"A hero, hardly! Did Tanis tell you that! You do realize that under Rome the Amazon Nation will cease to exist, be real Koni," Eph said, hoping to appeal to Koni's sense of honor to the Nation, if she still had any.

"Like I said, Tanis has it all figure out. No more running like we've done under Melosa," Koni laughed at Eph. "Anyways, you're running out of allies, poor Cera."

Eph noticed in her peripheral vision one of the elders had fallen leaving Erika fighting two warriors. Eph knew she had to get Gabrielle out of there. Time slowly appeared running out on her to complete her duty to the princess. Gabrielle's voice floated over to her with a calmness Eph felt sure she couldn't muster.

"You do realize Caesar won't allow you to live. The Roman general probably already has orders to take all survivors and return with them as slaves," Gabrielle replied.

"Then you're the delusional one," Tanis' voice replied. "After all, that's all you are, all you will ever be, a simple pleasure slave."

Eph attacked again this time managing to get past Riga's defenses. The blow to the Amazon's arm caused Riga to drop her sword. Eph forgot to check Koni. The other Amazon's sword sped towards her. Eph managed to turn avoiding a death blow but the sword still pierced her shoulder. White hot pain pierced her senses causing her to drop her sword. She fell to her knees clutching her shoulder.

"Well, well, the exact position I hoped to see you in," Koni said, lazily swinging her sword.

"Hurry up and kill her," Riga said, regaining her feet shaking her sword arm slightly.

"In good time Riga," Koni said. "I think it's better for her to watch her precious princess slave die, and the Right-of-Caste transferred to a true Amazon at last."

Eph turned slightly watching Gabrielle holding her own against Tanis, who appeared frustrated. Tanis's sword against Gabrielle's staff and Eph noticed the precision the princess fought with. The princess had been trained in combat. Eph wondered if Tanis even noticed the abilities that Gabrielle used to defend against Tanis' attacks. To Eph eyes it also appeared the princess was used to fighting someone stronger than Tanis.

She noticed Erika still in combat with now one Amazon, another one lay on the ground next to the other elder. Eph knew though that she could expect no help from Erika at the moment. Eph looked back at Gabrielle who moved back tripping over a patch of uneven ground. Her staff falling out of her hands leaving the princess unarmed.

"Well, surprisingly tough for a slave, but I'll win, I always will," Tanis said, grinning. "Now, for your Right-of-Caste and I'll be queen."

Tanis prepared for the final strike. Eph felt dread in her chest at the fact she had no way to save or protect her queen. Her shoulder still burned with pain and she realized she had no feeling in her right arm. Time slowed down watching Tanis' sword begin the downward stroke. A buzzing, high-pitched sound came to her ears and she thought she noticed a smile come to Gabrielle's lips.

The sword descended faster when a fast moving object collided with the blade causing Tanis to miss the princess. Time stood still for a heartbeat while Eph looked at the scene where Tanis' sword impacted the ground. Tanis raised up looking around.

"Who dares interrupt me," the Amazon yelled, anger evident in her eyes.

Eph recalled the high pitched noise she heard and looked in that direction. Walking towards the group Eph saw a true hunter approaching. Ice blue eyes taking in the scene filled with so much power Eph involuntarily took a step back. The Conqueror strode into the area with power and grace. Eph looked over at Tanis who either refused to accept what stood in front of her, or was too stupid to believe otherwise.

"So, the might Conqueror finally graces us with your presence," Tanis said. "Turning traitor like you always do and leaving the Amazons to be slaughtered by the Roman Army. Caesar predicted this of course."

Eph remained silent watching the ensuing battle of words and wits continue. The Conqueror still hadn't said anything but from the look Eph knew the Conqueror and Gabrielle already had a conversation.

"You know, Caesar knows you better than anyone else alive, did you mention that to your slut here," Tanis said, taunting the Conqueror. Eph felt sure that somewhere the gods had bless Tanis with the wrong words to say to an enemy. "Oh, he knows she means something to you, and you know Caesar put a price on her head. Taking her out will earn me double reward. Either way, I will rule the Amazons."

"Then you're a fool," a voice said, but it came from Gabrielle, not the Conqueror. "Caesar never knew or understood Xena."

"It matters not, I won't be denied, Koni, Legia take care of the Conqueror while I kill the princess," Tanis said, turning back around to the princess.

Eph took another couple of steps back while Koni and Legeia approached the Conqueror. Eph understood nothing she said, or did could save the Amazons in front of her now. The Conqueror powered past the defenses of both Amazons with precision skill. The look however made Eph shiver. She now understood where the phrase 'Ares' Daughter' came from. War and death were the Conqueror's domain.

"I suggest you run, now," Gabrielle's calm voice said, floating over to where Eph stood.

"Run, in my moment of glory. I won't allow some two-bit, non-Amazon to spoil my return to power," Tanis said. "But, I'll enjoy killing your master, then I'll own you. Of course, so simple, I never had to kill you, only your master and then own you."

Eph watched Tanis engage the Conqueror. Tanis might have been good, but even Eph noticed right away the far superior skill the Conqueror possessed. Tanis managed a few offensive attacks, but Eph noticed the defensive position the Conqueror kept her in.

"You made two mistakes," the Conqueror growled. "First, believing Caesar."

"And the second?" Tanis said, sneering slightly.

"That you were a match for me," the Conqueror stated, setting though a series of attacks making her sword a blur of motion before powering though Tanis' defenses to deliver a death blow. Tanis slumped to her knees before falling over her chest still.

Eph glanced over at Riga, the lone survivor of the group and at Erika who appeared to have survived intact.

"I suggest you surrender to Amazon law Riga, unless you also wish to fell the Conqueror's wrath," Erika said.

Eph allowed Erika and Gabrielle to take over knowing she needed medical help. Already a few of the healers had come out of the hut but a few warriors ran into the village, causing some concern for a few seconds. Eponin headed straight to Eph. She noticed her lovers eyes which held only panic for her.

"Um, why are you here?" Eph decided to ask. She had a thousand questions about the battle. She noticed that Melosa and Valaska were both missing. "Where's the Queen?"

"One question at a time, both were all right last I saw," Eponin said. "What happened here?" she asked looking over at the Conqueror and the bodies of Koni, Ligeia and Tanis.

"Seems we had some excitement," Eph said, glancing over at where Gabrielle and the Conqueror stood. The Conqueror appeared to be checking Gabrielle over in detail despite the protests of the younger woman.

"I'm fine Xe, really," Gabrielle said, grabbing the Conqueror's hands.

"She might be, but you're not," Eponin said, placing a hand on Eph's uninjured shoulder. Eph knew Eponin to be right and couldn't argue with her lover.

"All right, all right," Eph said, knowing she couldn't argue and allowed herself to be led away to the hut.

Two healers quickly guided her towards one of the cots .

"We'll need to clean that, lie down," one healer said.

Eph glanced over to Eponin's concerned face who appeared to watch the healers work.

"The cut is clean, but unfortunately it's deep," the healer told her. "We don't know how much damage there is to the muscles until later on. In the meantime you should rest, and don't move your shoulder too much, but you'll live for sure."

Eph nodded her head then noticed injured warriors began coming in from the battle-field. She had a feeling that the battle had gone their way by the unhurried approach the warriors took. If the battle had been going badly the warriors would have a urgent look on their faces.

"So what happened Eph?" Eponin asked.

Eph relayed the events quickly, the arrival of Gabrielle and then the elders. Finally she told the group about Tanis' plan to take over the Amazons and eliminate Caesar.

"She's a bigger fool than I thought," a voice said from behind Eponin. Eph looked to see the Conqueror, Gabrielle and Melosa standing there before the Conqueror continued. "Caesar maybe foolish, but he doesn't share power with anyone, ever."

Eph thought about that statement, the same one Gabrielle said earlier during the fight. Rome operated under a triumvirate and if Brutus and Anthony understood that fact about Caesar.

"Well, it appears Ligeia and Koni killed our Roman prisioner," Melosa said. Eph understood that the trial would be over, and in a slightly odd ending to an argument Gabrielle would no longer be involved in any punishment of the case.

"So, now what?" Eph asked.

"We have Roman prisoners, which the Conqueror will be handling for us," Melosa replied, motioning to the Conqueror. "The Amazons do not have the ability to handle so many prisoners at one time."

Eph felt slightly relieved for confirmation of the battle before looking back over at Gabrielle. "I'm glad I'd seen you fight already princess, though it appears Ligeia failed to mention that to Tanis," Eph said.

"Maybe she didn't think it important, but it does surprise me," Eponin stated.

"Well, I do have one awesome sparring partner," Gabrielle said, giving the Conqueror a bump on the hips.

Eph noticed Gabrielle had yet to release the Conqueror. The physical attraction between the two felt stronger than ever. Eph had the feeling that if the two had the opportunity the rest of the Amazons might be presented with quite a show.

"Well, we should let you get some rest," Melosa said, then turned to visit with other injured Amazons.

"So, what happened out there?" Eph asked, wanting to hear the story.

"The Romans had already organized for an attack when we got there. The Conqueror advised us to attack, even though neither the Centaurs or the Greek Army had arrived yet. We attacked from the cover of the trees with bows," Eponin said. Both women understood the Amazon strength relied on trees and arrows. Ground combat in large numbers put them at a disadvantage.

"The Princess' Royal Guard are very good, probably trained by the Conqueror. Without them we'd have had much higher losses," Eponin said. "Anyways, we're fighting when the Centaurs show up with Jana, and well, you know how good they are at going combat."

Eph nodded, that had been why the Amazons had adapted tree tactics to negate the Centaur strengths.

"Anyways the Roman general reorganized his men when we noticed several Amazons leaving the battle, headed back to the village, including Koni and Ligeia," Eponin said. "The Conqueror intercepted me before I could get very far, calling me a traitor."

Eph cringed at the statement. She knew her lover well enough to know that statement in most cases would lead to a fight.

"Well, I don't like to lose a fight, or see deserters," the Conqueror said, defending her actions. Eph glanced between the two noticing a comradery she hadn't seen before.

"I don't either, so I quickly explained what I saw," Eponin said.

"I realized the group, 'Valaska's Chosen' had to be making a move towards the village, and knowing Bri, she'd be right in the middle of it," the Conqueror said, giving Gabrielle a smile.

"I am not that bad," Gabrielle pouted.

"Yes you are love, but we can discuss that later," the Conqueror sadi.

"Anyways, the Conqueror takes off, and I mean takes off," Eponin said. "Leaves me behind watching her dust."

"Practice," the Conqueror said. "Hang around your princess and you'll get faster, or injured as well."

"The Roman general now had made another charge, and we're now wondering what's going on, the Guard is slightly confused, but fortunately the Greek Army with Paleamon arrived. He and Valaska took over, and Melosa and I took off to the village behind the Conqueror," Eponin stated.

"So, then the battle's still going on?" Eph asked, confused by that.

"No, I received information from Paleamon the Roman's surrendered shortly after they noticed the Greek Army. Seems they had orders not to engage Greek armies just yet," the Conqueror said.

"I see, so how many did we lose?" Eph asked.

"Surprisingly not many," Eponin said. "Thanks to the Conqueror and the Guard, but we still lost twenty warriors."

"Okay everyone, if your done Ephiny needs sleep," the healer said, walking over to the group with a cup in her hands.

Eph groaned slightly knowing the healer had a bad tasting sleeping drug with her.

"I need to see to my men anyways," the Conqueror said. "The Amazons have been gracious to allow men on their land for one night while we organize everything."

"And I volunteered for guard duty tonight, you'll be sleeping so I know you're all right," Eponin said.

"And I'll be here," another voice said. Eph recognized her mother's voice even before her mother appeared. She frowned slightly at Eph's condition but managed to smile which Eph returned.

"Here drink," the healer said.

Eph took the cup draining it with a shudder. Handing the cup back to the healer she watched the Conqueror and Gabrielle embrace before the tall woman left the hut.

The sleepy feeling washed over her in moments. Of course not having eaten much earlier helped everything. She felt her eyes close while watching her mother, who kept watch over her.

"Hello Ephiny," a female voice said. Eph frowned slightly at the sound of the voice and the fact she had no idea where she was.

"Where am I?" Eph asked, looking around the forest. She recognized nothing around her. A beautiful woman appeared, dressed in leathers, dark brown hair and brown eyes walked towards her.

"Oh, neither here or there," the woman replied.

"What type of answer is that, it's got to be somewhere," Eph replied.

"Oh, it is, but that's not important," the woman said.

"Then who are you?" Eph asked.

"I need to get out more if you don't recognize me," the woman mumbled, her shoulders slumping slightly before she stood back up and approached Eph.

"Um, I'm suppose to know you?" Eph asked. "And how did I get here?"

"Always with the questions," the woman said. "You my sister are to be rewarded. You will need the use of your sword arm."

With that the woman touched the area of Eph's wound. A slight stinging sensation ran though her shoulder and arm.


Eph opened her mouth to say something when everything went dark once more.

The smell of food aroused Eph. She blearily opened her eyes noticing the tray of food nearby, her mother sitting next to Eponin who appeared in whispered conversation.

"Should I be worried?" Eph asked.

"I see your awake," Eponin said. "You just missed Gabrielle, she brought us something to eat."

"Ah, that explains that," Eph said.

"I could have brought it over," her mother said.

"Nah, you wouldn't have left until I woke up," Eph said.

"I see she awoke," Eph heard Gabrielle's voice say. "Feeling better."

"Yeah," Eph said. "You look tired?"

"Well, I had an appointment to keep last night," Gabrielle replied.

"Appoint-" Eph stopped realizing what and who Gabrielle probably had that appointment with, the Conqueror.

"Oh, haven't seen that color in a while," Eponin teased.

"Great," Eph mumbled.

"Don't worry, the Conqueror left early and I had to have Paleamon explain to me what the appointment was," Eponin said.

Eph laughed at that comment wishing she had been there for that.

"I guess I forgot she's human, after what I saw on the battlefield, that wasn't human," Eponin said.

"She is the daughter of Ares," Gabrielle said. "She has a way to make people think that way."

"I think she single-handedly won the battle yesterday," Eponin said.

"I saw her take out Tanis with ease," Eph said, the battle had been shorter than she'd have thought. "I'm not sure she fully understood what she was up against."

"I think they watched her on the training field and were not impressed," Eponin said. "I think she held back during the practice."

"She didn't want to harm anyone," Gabrielle said. "And against Tanis, well, I was in danger."

Eph thought about what both women had said. IF Eponin was right, that might explain why Ligeia challenged Gabrielle, or why Tanis didn't seem too impressed with the Conqueror. Maybe, Eph thought to herself, maybe she read too much into it.

"Maybe the Conqueror set them up?" Eph finally said. "After all, you did say you could beat the Conqueror with a staff."

Gabrielle snorted, "yeah, only because she won't go full out with me, and I can distract her easily."

Eph opened her mouth then closed it not trusting herself to speak. She understood how the Conqueror might get distracted willing herself not to look over at Gabrielle's body.

"Our patient is awake at last," the healer said, sitting down on the other side of the bed. "Let's see if the swelling is down enough to check the damage."

Eph winced slightly at that thought. She had purposefully not thought about her damaged shoulder. She knew the damage might limit her use of a sword, even end her ability to use the arm. The thought scared her more than she said. She felt a hand cover hers. Eponin had sat down on the other side, and Eph knew no matter what, her lover would be there for her.

She felt the bandages unwrapped and felt slightly relieved at no pain. She guessed the medicine had yet to wear off before the healer finished removing the bandage. A gasp caused her to look over, expecting to see the worst. Instead her arm, though covered with dried blood, seemed fine. In fact, Eph lifted her head a bit more, she couldn't see any wound.

"Um, I think I'm going crazy," the healer finally said. "I know I stitched that up last night, and wrapped it."

Eph flexed her shoulder sitting up even more. "The dream?"

"Dream?" Eponin asked, confusion in her voice.

"Yeah, I had this strange dream-" Eph stopped suddenly reviewing the dream. The woman said Eph knew her. "Artemis!"

Eph looked at Eponin and then over at the healer before back at her shoulder. It had to be the only explanation, yet she understood nothing of the reason.

"Then you've been touched," the healer said.

Eph looked over at Gabrielle, who appeared to be the only one who didn't seem surprised.

"Um, actually I have a confession," Gabrielle said. "I talked to Aphrodite last night, and well asked for your shoulder to be healed, she must have talked to Artemis."

Eph, still stunned by Gabrielle's revelation failed to hear Melosa and Valaska walk up.

"So, how is she," MElosa asked.

"Um, quite healed my queen," the healer said. For some reason Melosa and Valaska seemed to take that news in stride.

"Then she can leave the hut?" Melosa said.

"Yes my queen," the healer said.

Eph stood feeling like she everyone knew what was going on but her. "Does anyone want to fill me in?"

"Don't worry about it, Artemis said what she did in a visit with us last night," Valaska said. The comment making it sound like such visits happened every night.

"All right," Eph finally said, finishing dressing before walking out with Eponin and her mother, who looked as stunned as Eph felt. Walking out she noticed a Centaur and Jana standing nearby.

"Jana!" Eph said, heading to where the two stood.

"Oh, um, hey," Jana said. Eph thought she noticed a slight blush on Jana's face. "Eph, Eponin, this is Marcus."

"A pleasure," the Centaur said.

"You and your warriors were a welcomed sight yesterday," Eponin stated. "The Romans attacked before we had our troops in position."

"You mean the Conqueror's army, yes we were lucky," Marcus said.

"Didn't go exactly according to plan did it," Eph said.

"No, the Romans attacked too quickly. I'm surprised we lasted with only our warriors and the Royal Guard," Eponin said.

"Don't forget the Conqueror, she counts as at least ten warriors," Marcus said, causing everyone to smile at that.

"The Romans had almost made it to our position when you arrived, I'm glad so many of you survived," Jana said, and Eph thought she saw eye contact between the two. Interesting Eph thought to herself.

"Not all Centaurs hate Amazons, only a few older ones who remember the wars between our two nations," Marcus said. "In fact, some of us actually like Amazons."

"Why do I get the feeling there is more to the story," Eph asked. She hadn't expected Jana to blush even more.

"Well, um, Marcus and I have been seeing each other for almost a season now," Jana said, rushing the words out.

"A season," both Eph and Eponin replied. The statement surprised Eph.

"I'm not the only one," Jana finally said.

"We have a meeting place in the middle ground where interested Centaurs and Amazons can meet and talk. Quite a few romances have occurred," Marcus said.

"And how long has this been going on," the voice of Valaska said.

"A season," Jana said, standing up to Valaska.

"Anyone pregnant that the healers should know about?" Valaska asked, taking Eph by surprise.

"Um, only one, we were trying to figure out what to do about it," Jana said, hesitantly.

"Well, I know the queen will be pleased to hear this," Valaska said. "The Royal family meet last night, and I think you two should attend this afternoon's meeting."

"I didn't think Centaurs were allowed in Amazon's meetings," Marcus replied. Eph noted no ill in Marcus' voice, only fact.

"Times change, and this is a special meeting that will affect many Amazons, and surrounding nations," Valaska said, looking at Ephiny and Eponin.

"Um, so what will happen to the Romans?" Eph asked, changing the subject slightly.

"The Centaurs and Greek army are watching over them. Technically Amazon prisoners which will have to be sorted out with the Conqueror and a few things to go over with when the Centaur leaders arrive here," Valaska said. "The only bad news, the Roman prisoner who Koni killed."

"That's what their mission was before joining Tanis," Eph said.

"It appears Elasia and Rita are quite talkative now that Tanis is dead," Valaska stated. "Seems they figured if Tanis got the Right-of-Caste the Romans would kill Melosa and me allowing the takeover to occur. Seems that her plan took a slight detour when Terreis gave Gabrielle the title instead of one of you two."

Eph thought about that for several seconds. Would the nation have survived if Gabrielle hadn't received the title. She wondered if Terreis knew how much giving the caste to Gabrielle had saved the Nation. For one thing, the Romans would have probably won the battle as the Amazon would not have had the support of the Greek army.

"I'm surprised we didn't start killing each other during the battle," Valaska said. Eph noticed the princess looked at the Centaur when speaking.

"We had volunteers, and most either have talked with Amazons, or friends of those of us who have," Marcus said.

"And the Conqueror demands obedience," Eponin said. "She says which side they on and they do unless you give them a reason not to be."

"And the Amazons fighting for their homes, a strong emotion indeed," Marcus said.

"It's possible in any other situation we'd be bickering among ourselves losing the battle," Eponin said.

"Might be, anyways the Greek army showed up under Paleamon, who took command from the Conqueror telling me that the Conqueror took off towards the village after a few Amazons," Valaska said.

"That's when I left," Eponin said. "I knew that if Gabrielle got in trouble then Eph had to be as well."

"Gee thanks, I don't know if I should be insulted or flattered," Eph replied.

"Yeah, wondered about that," Valaska said. "I know Paleamon and I split the army into two feigning an attack in the middle while the other went to the side under my command. Seems the Romans were shocked at the presence of so many Greek soldiers. In moments we had Bluto captured and the fighting ceased. Melosa then sent me back with a group of Amazons to secure the village."

Eph knew the rest of that story and that every Amazon in the village already knew what had happened in the village.

"Well, this meeting should be quite interesting," she finally said.

"I'll see you all this afternoon then," Valaska said.

Eph and Eponin left headed back to their hut where Eph hoped to spend a bit of time relaxing before the meeting.

Eph felt good walking into the meeting hut. She then noticed everyone standing outside. Confused she glanced at Eponin who shared her confusion but continued on hoping the meeting still would go smoothly. She knew the queen planned a party and hoped the meeting didn't last long. Standing outside Eph noticed several chairs arranged around a table. The Conqueror, Gabrielle and Melosa already sat at the table waiting for the group.

Eph looked at the Centaur delegation, Marcus and another Centaur stood nearby. She then realized why the queen chose outside to hold the meeting, inside with two large Centaurs, not a good idea. Eph sat down followed shortly by Erika and Valaska.

"I see everyone is here, we can now begin the meeting," Melosa said. "First off, the Amazon Nation offers it's thanks to the Centaur Nation and Greece for their help against the Romans yesterday."

No one said anything waiting for Melosa to continue.

"I'm also aware that when I was younger I fought against the Centaurs in our last war, as did Erika. Our young grew up on both side hating the other side. I have learned however that lately this hatred already is losing its hold," Melosa said, looking over at Marcus and Jana.

"Really?" the other Centaur said, glancing over at Marcus.

"It's true father, many of us wanting to meet amazons did so against the council wishes," Marcus said. "And well, we found some to be quite, interesting and sweet."

Eph noticed Marcus look over at Jana who smiled back at him. The other Centaur appeared lost in thought for a few seconds.

"I see," he finally said.

"Perhaps it's a start," Gabrielle said, speaking up for the first time.

"So, I take it the rumors are true, about you being an Amazon princess," the centaur said, looking over at Gabrielle.

"Yes, I realize not everything is pleasant, and it takes work but some things are worth the effort," Gabrielle replied. "Perhaps a village could be built between the two nations, on the border where those who are already engaged can live."

"I see the reports of your wisdom are not exaggerated," the Centaur said, then Eph watched him look over at Melosa. "I'm afraid some feeling between the two of us may never be resolved, but I also understand times change."

"Yes they do," Melosa replied.

Eph had that feeling another conversation had occurred between Melosa and the Centaur few others understood. Melosa lead the Amazon warriors during the last war. Since that war there had been no other attacks, but neither side had reached out for diplomacy until now.

Eph looked at Erika then at Jana. Erika had fought the Centaurs, yet had always felt differently about them. Perhaps that was why Jana never feared the Centaurs. Erika's influence as her aunt probably helped. Eph own mother hadn't fought the wars but never mentioned them either.

"Perhaps the Amazons can help this process by inviting the Centaurs to our festival tonight," Melosa said. "We're crowning Gabrielle tonight, perhaps it's a fitting start."

Eph looked over at Gabrielle who appeared slightly embarrassed as the center of attention. The young woman appeared to be holding the Conqueror's hand, almost as if gaining support from her.

"And that brings up the next agenda for this short meeting," Melosa said. "Princess Gabrielle."

Eph waited to see what the queen had thought up. Everyone knew that Gabrielle would not stay in the nation and would return to Corinth.

"I have discussed this with the Conqueror, and Princess Valaska and Gabrielle. We agree with this solution. Gabrielle will not live in the village, instead she will return to Corinth along with an Amazon delegation and guard. Heading up this delegation will be Ephiny, and leading the guard will be Eponin."

Eph almost fell out of her chair at that announcement. She heard a slight cough come from Eponin knowing that her lover had been caught off guard like she had. Looking up at Melosa she noticed that it was no joke.

"I only ask that in all matters concerning Gabrielle's security, Eponin works with Paleamon," the Conqueror stated. Eph heard the tone the Conqueror used knowing that there'd be no argument in that.

"Eponin, you will decide how many warriors to take and have on hand. Warriors assigned to Corinth will rotate regularly. Ephiny I ask that you take someone from the library who knows the laws to advise Gabrielle in such times as needed," Melosa stated.

"Of course," Eph replied. She'd ask her mother for advice there.

"Now, the last item, the prisoners," Melosa said, glancing over at the Conqueror.

"I will take them back to Corinth, there we have the facilities to hold so many until such time as Caesar sends a delegation to negotiate their release. Any tribute will be split between all parties," the Conqueror said.

"And how do you know we'll get our tribute," the centaur said.

"Because I say so," Gabrielle stated, standing up.

Eph watched the Centaur walk over towards Gabrielle, towering over her. Eph wondered why Gabrielle had not yet moved, or something, but she only stood there. The Centaur bent down until his head was even with Gabrielle's.

"You are a brave little on," the Centaur said, looking over at the Conqueror then back to Gabrielle. "And you have kept your promises. Because of you, and only you, the Centaurs will accept this. We will also accept the mutual defense treaty between our nations."

"The Amazon Nation will stand by the treaty as well," Melosa said.

"As does Greece," the Conqueror replied. "As long as each nation respects the other's sovereign rights this treaty will last."

Eph thought that phrase sounded strange coming from the Conqueror. She heard too many stories about the Conqueror's warlord days causing her to wonder what the truth really was.

"I'll have my scribes write it up and sent out. We might have to meet again over the language of the treaty, but the basics are there," the Conqueror said. "I'll put my best treaty-maker on it."

Eph noticed the conqueror placed a hand on Gabrielle's shoulder while speaking.

"And does this treaty-maker happen to be standing right here," Melosa said, her voice teasing and light.

"I think so, best I've seen so far, and quite fair," the Conqueror said. Eph noticed the slight blush on Gabrielle at the compliment the Conqueror gave.

"I look forward to reading this treaty then," the Centaur said.

"If there's nothing else, there is a feast to prepare. We have two things to celebrate," Melosa said.

Eph stood along with the rest of the group when no one else had any objections.

"That was interesting," Eph said to Eponin on the way back to their hut.

"Yeah, and now we've got to pack as well, remember, we're heading to Corinth," Eponin stated.

"I know, not something I expected, you?" Eph asked.

"No, but should have seen it coming," Eponin said. "A lot to do. Delegation at the court of Greece, that's a big deal. I should be able to learn some new moves on the Conqueror's training grounds."

Eph shook her head at the slight smile on her lover's face. "Come on, let's go get ready, remember we're adopting Gabrielle."

"Oh, right, wonder if your mom's ready."

"Ugh, don't remind me. You two suckered me into this, so now you're going thought with it," Eph said, opening the door to their hut allowing Eponin inside.

Eph glanced over at Queen Melosa and Princess Valaska then over to where her mother and Eponin stood next to her. Looking over she noticed Gabrielle walking down the center in her 'Amazon' clothing. She wore a simple small skirt, perhaps too short in Eph's opinion, along with several necklaces barely covering the young woman's breasts. Only he armband and wristband revealed her position in the Amazon nation.

Gabrielle stopped in front of Melosa. Eph noticed the Centaurs and Greek soldiers watching the ceremony as well.

"Gabrielle, tonight among your sisters, and allies, you shall become a sister of the Amazons. Who here will accept Gabrielle into their family?" Melosa asked.

"We will," Eph said, for her family stepping forward.

"A family is willing, are there any who challenge either the family or the adoption of Gabrielle into the Nation," Melosa said. Eph feared this part hoping no one would challenge. Silence continued though the thirty heartbeats until finally Melosa stepped forward again to continue the ceremony.

A flash of light caused Eph to close her eyes. Blinking her eyes she noticed not one, but two figures standing there. She recognized the beautiful, scantily-clad woman as Aphrodite. The other woman, a bit shorter, and dressed in leather reminded Eph of her dream, and then realized the woman had to be Artemis.

Both goddesses walked over to stand behind Eph causing her to swallow slightly. She had no idea what would happen next.

"I announce the newest member of the Amazon nation, Gabrielle," Artemis said, her voice ringing though the crowd. She then turned taking the mask that would be Gabrielle's from the stunned guard who'd been holding it. Eph noticed a slight change in appearance of the mask before Artemis turned to Gabrielle. "Gabrielle, I crown you a princess of the Amazon nation."

Eph watched Artemis turn to Melosa and Valaska giving each woman a smile. Eph then looked over at the Conqueror who appeared focused not on the two goddesses but in the back of the crowd. Looking back Eph noticed a man who appeared slightly out of place. A tall, handsome, dark-haired man who looked slightly familiar to Eph stood there looking back at the group.

"Now, let's party," Artemis said, breaking Eph's train of thought about the man.

In only a few seconds the group recovered from their shock and began to talk excitedly. Turning Eph noticed that both goddesses still stood there along with her mother's slightly shocked expression.

"Um, I guess in all the excitement I forgot to mention Gabrielle is Aphrodite's Chosen," Eph said.

"You both knew this?" her mother asked.

"Yeah, I guess it when we were in Corinth last," Eph said.

"Well, I guess I gained a talented daughter then," her mother said.

"Well, this is exciting," Aphrodite's voice said. "So much energy, I love this, have to get Artie to allow me to come to Amazon parties more often."

Eph looked out at the crowd knowing what Aphrodite meant before looking back at the goddess. She decided to ask the question that had bugged her since she spotted the man.

"I thought I saw Ares in the back there," Eph stated, looking at Aphrodite.

"Well, he was keeping an eye on his daughter, even if they don't get along," Aphrodite said.

"Just about killed him to ask me for permission though," Artemis stated.

Eph looked at one another before realizing that Amazon land was protected by Artemis.

"Well ladies, shall we, it looks like their having fun out there," Aphrodite said.

Eph glanced down realizing that they were having fun.

"Sure, let's go," Eph said. Tomorrow would be another day. For now the Romans had been defeated and new allies for the nation had resulted.

She looked over seeing Jana and Marcus along with other Centaurs and Amazons. She noticed Bele standing next to the blonde-haired Centaur.

"Bele is the one who is pregnant," Eponin said.

Eph's eyebrows went up not expecting that. She wondered if Bele would have a boy, girl or a Centaur. She noticed the Conqueror and Gabrielle walking towards them.

"Princess," Eph said, giving a small nod towards the Conqueror.

"That was different," Gabrielle said, referring to the ceremony. "I'm glad that you accepted the assignment to Corinth though."

"You poor, women, have no idea what they're getting into," the Conqueror said. Eph noticed the glare that Gabrielle gave the taller woman.

"I don't know, I was there during the battle," Eph said. "I think I can handle it."

"Ha-ha, Xena," Gabrielle said. "But you know, I think we should hire a few Amazons for the next festival we have."

"Hmm, well there will be a group at Corinth unless you've scared them off," the Conqueror said, laughing before Gabrielle nudged her in the ribs. Eph turned to see Aphrodite approaching the group.

"Aphrodite, I didn't know you were coming," Gabrielle said.

"And miss an important event like this, and add in an Amazon festival? Like, I wouldn't miss this for anything," Aphrodite said. "More did want to come, but Artie limited the number so it wouldn't overwhelm anyone."

"Only you were allowed?" Gabrielle asked.

"Ares stood in the back watching," the Conqueror said. "Good thing he told me before hand so I wouldn't interrupt it."

"Ah, that's why you were so tense earlier," Gabrielle said, Eph noticed the soft touch Gabrielle gave the Conqueror. "And here I thought you might be tense over this presentation."

"Nah, as long as I can see you, I know where the trouble is," the Conqueror replied,

"Keep it up Xena," Gabrielle said.

Eph turned to see the festival going in full swing. Music started filling the air with a festive atmosphere. She looked back at the group knowing her life would change once more tomorrow, but tonight, she have some fun. She walked towards the dancing dragging a reluctant Eponin to the laughter of the rest of the group.

AJ Mark's Scrolls
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