~ Adventure of a Lifetime ~
by MomBard

Disclaimer: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Ephiny,Solari, Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas are the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. This is just a work of fan-fiction and not intended to infringe on the copyright of the "Xena Warrior Princess" TV show. All other characters in this story are mine.

Violence: Yep! There is some. But nothing that wouldn't be seen in the TV show.

Love/Sex Warning/Disclaimer: This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two women.

If this bothers you, don't read it. If you are under 18 years of age or live in a state or country where a story like this is illegal, please don't read it. There are many stories out there for you to read.

Author's Note: This is my first attempt at writing fan-fiction. I want to thank my daughter Susan for her help. I probably never would have had the courage to attempt this without her. When I started to write this I never thought it would be such a long story. But it is finally finished. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. Any, and all constructive criticism is welcome. Just don't be hurtful. I'm sensitive! I can be reached at : phrice@suffolk.lib.ny.us

Chapter One

Irene Stevens was ecstatic! What good fortune to have been chosen to go on this dig. Of course, it didn't hurt the fact that her professor was her next door neighbor and closest friend. She was going to Greece!

When she started college two years ago she never in her wildest dreams thought she would actually get anywhere with her studies let alone be picked for this expedition to find some of the Xena Scrolls written by the bard Gabrielle. Some were found by the two outstanding archeologists of the 40's Drs. Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas. No one else has found anything since then.

Irene thought back to the events in her life that lead to this day. "Jeez! I never would've dreamt I'd be even going to school let alone this adventure of a lifetime!"

Irene had been married at a very young age and had started a family right away. She loved her husband, and he was devoted to her and their two children Bill and Nicole. Unfortunately this happiness was not to last. Alex died of a heart attack and left Irene to raise the kids and run the family building business by herself. The business flourished. It seems she was quite the business woman and did very well for herself and the children. As they grew up Bill and Nicole assumed more of the responsibilities of running the business and when Bill and Nicole had finished college Irene turned the business over to them. She told them she wanted to go back to school and do something entirely for herself. She had a lot of things to do. She was 50 years old now and she still looked beautiful. She was of average height. Her red-blond hair didn't have a streak of gray and her green eyes sparkled with the colors of a rainbow.

The kids were very supportive about her going back to school so she was very surprised when they reacted the way they did about her going on the dig.

''Mom, How can you go traipsing off to the other side of the world? You could get hurt or worse!" Nicole said with a shaky voice. Bill stood there and shook his head in agreement. "Mom is this so important to you that you would just leave us?" 'So that's it ! They'll miss me. They've never known me to be anywhere but here for them'. "Look, I'll miss you guys, but you have your own lives to live. Now it's my turn. I want to experience everything life can throw at me. I want to be an archeologist and travel and explore and write about it. That doesn't mean I've stopped loving you or being there for you. I'll have my cell phone and you can reach me anytime you need to speak to me. We'll be contact with each other I promise. But you have to understand I need this." With that Bill and Nicole came over to her and gave her that great big hug of theirs. "Sorry mom. We didn't understand. It's just that we'll miss you sooo much. We were being selfish and thinking of ourselves and not you. Can you forgive us." Bill said. Boy did she love these two. Irene looked at them and said, "Nothing to forgive. I love you both."

Professor Leslie Powers had moved into a nice sized ranch house next door to Irene about four years ago and on that first day Irene went to greet her new neighbor. Little did she know that she would become best of friends with Leslie and that her life would be changed forever. It was very easy for Irene and Leslie to talk to one another. Almost like they knew each other forever.

They had much in common. Both women loved to ride horses, and spent many afternoons riding together. They both like archery and were quite good at it. Leslie also did some fencing, but Irene was rather intimidated by the blade so she was content to watch as Leslie made quick work of her opponents. It's hard to fence with your eyes closed. Both were about the same age, and both looked younger than their years. Leslie was the taller of the two. She had raven colored hair and deep shimmering blue eyes. She opened up a whole new world to Irene. Tales of her adventures on her many digs abroad. About teaching at the college. It was Leslie that had convinced Irene to take some courses at the college. Leslie knew Irene had a brilliant mind and could do anything she set her mind to. All she needed was encouragement and some confidence in herself. The confidence would come when she realized that maybe she too could be an archeologist. Leslie was pleasantly surprised to find how proficient Irene had become with ancient Greek syntax.

This dig was a dream come true for Leslie. She ran her hand through her shoulder length raven hair. When she dreamed her dreams her blue eyes sparkled with excitement.

She had been moving towards this day since she went to a seminar so long ago. When she heard Dr Covington & Melinda Pappas speak with so much passion about the scrolls. She was hooked, line and sinker. She got every book and paper she could lay her hands on concerning the scrolls. The doctors had published a book with all the stories that were on the scrolls. Irene was determined to continue their work and find more scrolls and any artifacts she could. She felt a connection to Xena & Gabrielle somehow. But that was foolishness! Or was it? By this time next week they would be on their way. Soon they would go by plane and arrive in Athens. From there they would head towards Amphipolis by car and meet up with the rest of the crew.

Leslie was anxious to start this new adventure. There was a temple that had been discovered near the ruins believed to be Amphipolis. Only half of the temple had been uncovered before the first group of archeologists ran out of money and had to leave without any information about this very large building. 'Lucky for us . Now it's our turn.' thought Leslie. When Leslie heard about this she immediately set about the task of raising the substantial amount of funds needed to finish the job. It took her two years to raise the money, but with the help of the archeology department at the college and the Covington-Pappas Foundation she was able to get the funding. Leslie told Irene she had a gut feeling that something extraordinary was there waiting to be discovered. She couldn't explain how she knew. She just did. And Irene knew that when Les got those premonitions to just go with it, because she was usually right.

Irene awoke with a start. 'Damn ! Again! That damn dream. What the hell was that? ' Her language was very colorful at times. She's had the same dream every day for the past week! She sees two women sitting by a campfire. One with long dark hair sharpening a sword with some kind of stone and the other one with blond hair writing on what looks like one of those scrolls. Suddenly they turn and see her and that's when the dream ends. She couldn't understand why she felt so uneasy... She would find out soon enough.

Irene had asked Leslie to come over and see if she had packed the appropriate clothing for their journey. When Leslie saw the three suitcases laden with clothes she nearly fell over laughing. Irene was a little miffed by this response.

"What's so funny? We're going to be away for months. We'll need a lot of clothes!"

"Re, we're goin' on a dig not a vacation! You don't need all that stuff. We're going to be living in a tent not a hotel with room service. You just need the basics hon." 'Did I just say hon? Stop that! ' ' she thought. " Here let me help."

After an hour they had whittled down the things Irene needed to take with her. Mostly jeans and cotton pants and tops. good pair of work boots and sneakers, underwear and toiletries. It all fit into a small suitcase and she would need to take a backpack as well. Lesley knew from experience, that the backpack was more important than any of the other stuff. It had come in handy many times. You could carry all kinds of goodies in it. Although Irene had picked some things that Lesley would never think of putting in the backpack it really wasn't a bad idea. She put the basics in first: first aid kit, flashlight, extra batteries, 2 walky talkies with extra batteries (When Lesley asked her why the walky talkies, "You never know when you might need them", Irene said) diary, a small laptop computer, a sewing kit, and a red Swiss army knife. The thing that impressed Lesley the most was the very large Bowie knife in a leather sheath that Irene tossed in. "You think that knife is big enough?" For a minute Irene thought about it and then realized Lesley was kidding. Both women laughed.

"Are ya sure that'll be enough Les?"

"Sure am. Just like camping Re. Just like camping. "

No one else ever called her Re. It felt right when Les said it so she never corrected her. Irene kind of liked it coming from her. Sometimes she felt a closeness to Les that made her uncomfortable and she buried that feeling as quickly as she had felt it. 'She's my best friend for Gods sake! That's all.'

After the pain of packing and then having to leave most of the stuff behind, thanks to Leslie, the two women sat down at the kitchen table and were having a cup of tea and discussing travel plans and their upcoming adventure.

"I must be more excited about our trip than I know, because I've been having the same dream every night this week. Les, it's kind of unsettling though."

"What's the dream about Re?"

After Irene had told her of the dream, Leslie just sat there with a look of shock on her face.

"What? What's wrong? You have this strange look on you face."

After a few seconds Lesley got a hold of herself and answered her friend's question. "I'll tell you what's strange Re. I had the very same dream...Every night this week!"

Almost at the same time both women said...."Oh my."

Well, this was the big day. They were on their way. The plane would be taking off soon and Irene hadn't even thought about her little problem yet. Irene had asked Lesley if it was OK if she sat on an aisle seat and Lesley hadn't really cared if she had a window or aisle seat so she said sure.As the plane started down the runway Irene's little problem reared it's ugly head. Yep! Irene had motion sickness. Lesley was talking on and on and looking out the window and didn't see her friends complexion turning the same color as her eyes. When she heard Irene moan, she turned quickly to face her friend. What she saw was her friend sick as a dog and maybe getting ready to throw up. When Irene saw the look of concern and question on Lesley's face, she knew it was time to let her in on her "little problem".

"Uh! Something I forgot to mention...I get sick when I fly." Smiling weakly.

"Why didn't you tell me this before? We could've gone by boat!"

Wouldn't (burp) have mattered. I get sick on boats too. And that would've lasted to long. This was the lesser of the two evils. (burp). I was so happy that you thought I was good enough and believed in my ability to read ancient texts, and to go with you and be apart of this, that I didn't want to screw up or disappoint you." (Burp)

"Re! How could you ever think I would be disappointed in you or not believe in you? Your ability to grasp ancient syntax far surpasses my own. You're good at what you do. You are a valued part of this adventure of ours. You are my dearest friend and now my partner in this. " When she saw the tear role down Re's cheek, Lesley thought her heart would jump out of her chest. Another complication...She knew at that moment what she already knew but couldn't bring herself to admit, she loved her with all her heart.

Leslie reached into her pack and took out a package of Dramamine pills and gave one to Irene. "Here, take this it'll help. Oh! Yeah! Here's a barf bag. Just in case y....She never got the words out. Irene did indeed need it. After Irene had cleaned up. Lesley said: "Put your head on my shoulder and close your eyes and try and sleep." Irene did so eagerly. The pills were taking effect and she felt really drowsy. Leslie had a sort of half smile on her face. What a revelation today turned out to be. However she was not yet ready to make her feelings known. She wanted to keep Irene in her life and if it had to be as a friend so be it. She had no idea that Irene was dreaming. Dreaming about her in a more than friendly way.

The first words out of Irene's mouth as she disembarked the plane was, "Thank you God!" Then came..."How long till we get there?" Both women looked at each other and laughed. Bob had arranged for a jeep to be left at the airport. Her assistant, Bob Masters had gone on ahead several weeks ago to get the site up and running. He was a great asset to have with her on this dig. Bob was a student of Leslie's and had gone on many digs with her. He had gone on and gotten his degree in archeology. Leslie and Bob had a mutual admiration society. They genuinely liked each other. She knew she could depend on him.

After all the luggage was tossed into the jeep they were off and rolling along. Although both women knew they wouldn't get there until nightfall the excitement of the last leg of the journey was at hand and neither of them could contain there excitement.

"Les I'm about ready to burst with excitement! You can't know what a dream come true this is for me, and I owe it all to you. My life has been so dull until now. If you hadn't encouraged me to reach for my dreams then I'd still be home alone. "

"All you needed was a push in the right direction Re. That's all. You did this yourself. "

"Finally! There it is Re. We're here. " As they pulled into camp they could see the Temple. It looked incredible in the moonlight. Both women were awe struck.

" Hey, you two. I thought you gals were never gonna get here. What took you so long? I was gettin' lonely." Bob said as he was giving Leslie a great big bear hug. "Hi Irene glad to see ya."

Bob filled Leslie and Irene in on what was happening at the site so far. Things had been progressing faster than he had anticipated. They had cleaned away part of the earth and found that the temple was built up against a hill. Bob also thought there might be something behind one of the walls. It seemed sort of irregular and out of place somehow. They would check it out tomorrow. Some pottery and some kind of sealed clay cylinder was found. He didn't open it because he knew Leslie would want to do that. After having some dinner both women were ready for bed. It had been a grueling trip.

"O.K. Bob, everything sounds like it's under control. Thanks to you." But now I think I need to get some sleep. How 'bout you Re?"

" Yeah. I'm beat. Where's my tent?" Irene looked around. She only saw four tents. One she knew was the work tent.

"I figured you two would share a tent. That's why I got a larger one. You gals are always chatting so I figured you'd want to be together. That's O.K. Isn't it?"

"Sure Bob it's fine. O.K. with you Re?" 'Here ya go. Another complication. This is going to be difficult.' Les thought.

Huh...Fine. O.K. No problem. Irene thought, 'No problem! Yeah right. '

After they put their things away it was time to get into their nightclothes. Both women slept in long t-shirts. Lesley saw Irene hesitate to remove her clothes, so she turned around to give her friend some privacy. "Listen Re, I'm sorry about you not having your own tent. If I'd have known I would have corrected the situation. But hey, look on the bright side we can talk about the day and rehash everything we discover or just BS if that's what you want. Or..." she realized she was babbling on.

"Les it's OK. No problem really. I'm fine with this." 'Fine my ass! Look at her...she's gorgeous.' . "" Boy, I sure am tired. I think I'll just turn in now. 'Night. Can't wait to tackle that wall tomorrow. "

"Me too. Sleep well Re. See ya in the morning. " 'This is ridiculous! I have never felt this way about a woman. I'm not attracted to women!!! I will not let myself feel so uncomfortable around my best friend. We're working here. My feelings will just have to go away. I'm not jeopardizing our friendship. And that's it.' She was furious at herself.

Chapter Two

Xena and Gabrielle were traveling on the road that would lead them to Amphipolis. They had had a rough few months and decided that it would be a good idea to return home to rest and see Cyrene and Toris. A nice soft bed seemed like a good idea to both of them. Xena riding Argo and the bard walking as usual. Although the bard was unusually quite this day. "Dinar for your thoughts Gabrielle.

"Oh! It's nothing. I just... haven't been getting much sleep."

Seeing her companion's shoulders droop, Xena felt it was time for her to ride Argo. Besides she loved feeling her next to her. "Come on give me your arm. Time for you to ride my bard. We don't want you getting sick. Not when you will soon be able to eat moms nut bread." Xena smiled. With that Gabrielle offered her arm and was up on Argo safely against her warriors back loving the comfort and pleasure she felt whenever she was close to Xena.

"I love you, my warrior."

" I love you to, my bard."

They rode for another two candlemarks and than Xena decided it would soon be dark and this would be a good place to camp. They were near a stream and the ground was soft and grassy. Soon they fell into their rhythm of setting up camp. Gabrielle went about her tasks of making the fire and starting some water boiling for tea to have with their evening meal. There was some dried meat and some fresh vegetables left to make a stew with. The stew was good as always. Gabrielle was a good cook, thank the Gods. Because Xena made everything taste burnt. Even water. They laughed many times about this. After dinner they set about their nightly routine. Xena, sharpening her sword with her whet stone and Gabrielle writing her stories on her scrolls. This night though, Gabrielle's mind wasn't on the stories. It was on the dream...

"Xena, I keep having this same dream over and over, and it's making me very uneasy. And I don't know why. "

Hearing Gabrielle sound so distressed made Xena come to her side and hold her in her arms. "Tell me what this dream is about?"

"Well...we are at our campsite doing exactly what we are doing now and all of a sudden two women, in the oddest clothes, come out of a cave and just look at us with a look of amazement on there faces. That's when I wake up and I have this feeling I have to help them in some way although I'm not sure how. And the thing that really has me confused is that I feel that in some way they are connected to us."

Xena sat for a moment holding on to her love before she spoke. Finally she told Gabrielle that she had had a similar dream. She too felt some kind of connection with these two. The two lovers sat by the fire with there arms around each other thinking.

"Xena the cave in my dream looked vaguely familiar to me. Like I'd seen it before." She described the cave and even before she had finished, Xena was very excitedly telling her..."Gabrielle! You have seen that cave! It's that large cave outside of Amphipolis!"

"We have to get to that cave. I don't know why, but I know we must", Gabrielle said very softly.

Chapter Three

"Hey, wake up Re. Times a wastin'. Breakfast is almost ready. I'll meet you at the food tent. Rise and shine Re. Rise and shine." And out the tent she went. "ohhhgh...How can anyone be that happy and energetic this early in the morning. Rise and shine! My ass. I'll rise, but I refuse to shine.
At least not till I get a cup of coffee!

"Coffee, I need coffee as she poured herself a cup. Oh! that's good. Good morning Bob, Les. Les I've known you for years, and I had no idea you were so damn happy in the mornings. I figured everyone was a grouch like me. Everyone had a good laugh at Irene's comment. "Sorry Re. Get used to it. I'm like this every morning. "

After breakfast the archeologists got to work on the wall. Leslie was sure there was something behind it. She just didn't know what. She figured it was a room of some sort. The workmen were dismantling the stones very carefully so it was taking a very long time. While Lesley was supervising this effort Irene was looking around the site and suddenly saw something very odd. It looked like a bullet. A very old bullet. "Les come over here. Look at this." Not wanting to pick up this artifact she bent down to inspect it more closely. Yep! It was a bullet!

"What is it Re?"

"Look..." As she pointed down at the object.

"What...What the hell is that? That's a damn bullet. That's impossible... How could it get here. It looked very old. Nah! Some how , some way, someone must have dropped it."

Irene looked at her friend and said... "Yeah, and when do you think that was Les? This place hasn't been uncovered in thousands of years. I'm getting a creepy feeling about this. This is not good."

"Look Irene we are both intelligent women here. There has to be a reasonable explanation for this. Only I... I can't think of one."

Dinner was a quiet affair. Not much conversation because everyone was deep in thought. Bob was thinking that by this time tomorrow they would know what was behind the wall. And Leslie was just too exhausted to even think. Irene's mind was going a mile a minute. She was excited about what they would find tomorrow. She doubted she'd sleep at all tonight.

When Lesley and Irene were getting ready for bed Leslie looked at her friend and told her she had a very strong feeling that they were on to something. Something special was behind that wall and they were going to find it. Irene looked at Leslie and with a smile just said..."As long as we don't find anymore bullets." They looked at each other for a minute and laughed, rather nervously, at that prospect. Then Leslie said very seriously, "Whatever we find, I'm glad we will find it together. Good night Re. See ya in the morning."

"Yeah me too. Night Les." and turned off the lantern. Happily Irene fell right to sleep. As if that were ever in any doubt.

This morning Leslie didn't have to wake Irene up. She had had her morning coffee and was raring to go. Both women took their backpacks with them and off they went to the site of the temple. What they saw amazed them. This was not a doorway to another room, as they had assumed, It was an entrance to a cave. A rather large cave. When the three of them went in, they discovered that the cave was rather large and had many natural rooms. They would have to explore these rooms one by one making sure not to get lost in the maze of rooms that made up the cave. Lucky for them Bob thought of everything. He had bought spray paint that glowed in the dark so they could mark there way in and out of the tunnels and rooms if their light source went out. They could easily get lost in there. The women found signs of a fire pit and some animal bones near the pit in the great room at the front of the cave entrance, but nothing in the farther reaches of the cave. That is, until they found a small room with some kind of altar in it. They were awe struck when they saw what was on the altar. There on the altar was a bejeweled golden talisman with a very large red crystal embedded in the center of it. The most beautiful the three of them had ever seen. There was an inscription on it. And next to the talisman, lay a scroll.

"Bob take some pictures of the talisman" Lesley ordered.

"Oh! Damn! I forgot the camera. I'll be right back. Don't start without me" he joked and was off running to get the camera.

"Irene can you make out what the inscription says on the talisman?" Leslie asked.

"Hmmm. Let me see... It says: Embedded in this talisman is the Stone of Ages. Beware or be wary of its powers." "Les, lets read the scroll. It might give a clue as to it origins."

"Sounds like a plan, Re. Be careful when you unroll it. It's been rolled up for thousands of years." Irene went about taking her time with the scroll and Leslie turned to examine the talisman. She just couldn't believe the beauty of the thing. She felt the need to touch and caress it. As she did so, she could feel a power she could not explain. As she moved her hand over the stone she immediately had a vision of walking towards a town...

Irene looked over to where Leslie was working and noticed her friend had an odd look on her face. "Les...Les... What's the matter? Hey get a grip!" Irene grabbed her hand and it fell away from the stone. She suddenly realized where she was again, but felt weak in the knees. "Are you OK?" asked Irene.

"Oh my God! I think I had a vision or a very real daydream! Whoa!!!. Re... I really don't think it was a daydream."

"Here take a drink of water." and handed her the canteen from the backpack. "Now tell me! What happened to you?"

"All I know is it felt very real. I was walking down a road to a town. Then you grabbed my hand, and here I am. Dumbfounded!!" Lesley said.

Irene had a scowl on her face as she said: "I don't feel good about this. I think we should read the scroll before you go ahead and touch that thing again."

"I think you're right. Go ahead, read it." Leslie said. "Here goes! It's a combination of ancient syntax but I think I can translate it. "Hmmm! Ya know, this is going to be harder than I thought. It seems to be like a poem only seems... I'm not sure. Les, hand me my laptop computer. It's in my backpack. Now's my chance to use that new program I wrote to help me translate these ancient texts."

"Here you go. I hope it work's." Les said.

"Me too. Oh. Hi Bob. Bought time you got back. Whaddya do? Stop for lunch?" Irene said, with a grin on her face.

"Don't I wish! Damn film was not where it was supposed to be. I had to look through three boxes before I found it. What a waste of time man."

Lesley was standing by the altar. "Come over here Bob and start shooting some pictures of this fantastic looking artifact. Have ya ever seen anything so beautiful? It's hard not to want to touch it all the time." Bob did as Leslie requested, and was happily snapping pictures. After Bob had finished his chore he took the camera back to the camp to develop the photo's. But knowing Bob, he was probably hungry and wanted to get something to eat first. Lesley looked after Bob as his figure faded into the darkness. Then she turned her attention back to Irene...

"So. Irene. How's the translation coming?" For the umteenth time! Lesley was getting impatient. She wanted to find out what was on that scroll. Patience was not one of her virtues.

Irene looked up from the laptop with an annoyed look on her face. "The translation would be coming along much faster if I didn't have to stop every few minutes to answer you. I'm doing my best. It would take a lot longer if I didn't have my computer! I'm almost done! Please let me finish."

"OK, OK! I'm sorry. It's just that I'm so excited about this find. That thing is priceless! Maybe that scroll can tell us who and why it was put so deep into this place. My God the theories are endless!!!" said Lesley excitedly. Some time later...

"Finished! Whew! It took Irene almost two hours to translate the text, but with the help of her laptop she finished and showed it to Lesley.

Follow this path only those of the right line
For great Adventure will be thine
Of the Warrior and the Bard descendants you be
One touch of the stone to enable you to see
Together caress its surface and you will feel
That moment in time is very real
Beware, the risk is great
But much rests in our futures fate

"Huh! What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"

"Gee Les, I never heard you use that word before. I thought I was the one with the colorful language." Irene smirked. "Look Les. I think it's a warning, of some kind, to anyone who finds it. I also think it is about time travel. That is, of course, if you believe that baloney in the first place. Which I don't. It's just to scare people from taking it. That's all."

Lesley just stood there and looked incredulously at Irene and said: "What!? What is that? A Captain Kirk Quantum leap kind of thing you just came up with? You got all that information from the scroll?"

"Excuse me! You don't have to get all huffy because
can't understand the scroll. That's my theory of what the scroll means. I think... Do you have any other ideas?"

"No. No I don't. Look, I'm sorry I was so sarcastic. Really. This talisman has me a little shook up and I don't know why."

"It's O.K. Don't do it again." She smiled at Lesley and winked. Lesley's heart skipped a beat.

"Come on Re, let's get back to work. Come here and take another look at the inscription on the talisman again. Isn't this the most beautiful piece you've ever seen? Look at the intricate workmanship. The way the red crystal is placed in the talisman." "It is lovely. I've never seen anything like it."

Both women touched the red crystal at the same time. As they do the hair on their arms suddenly stands up and each of them feel a tingling sensation through their bodies and then the lanterns flicker and go out. "Shit!! What happened to the lights? How are we gonna get out of here?" "Calm down Re. The lanterns must have run out of propane. It's O.K. You're forgetting the iridescent paint Bob sprayed on the walls of the cave. All we have to do is follow the lines out..." In the darkness the two women held hands as they turned around to look for the painted arrows on the cave walls to show them the way out. All they were greeted with was nothing but darkness.

"Les...Les... Where the hell are the damn arrows? We're never gonna find our way out of this cave!"

"Yes we will. I promise you we will. I've never let you down yet have I. And I'm not going to now. Just trust me Re." With that Lesley remembered she had a penlight in her pocket and pulled it out . "This will help us find our packs and flashlights. I Think it's on to the left of the altar. Yeah! There they are. Get the flashlight on and we're half way there." Picking up the packs, Lesley told Irene to put the talisman and scroll in her pack.

"What the hell!! The talisman... the scroll... They're not here! They disappeared!!!" Irene yelled.

"What do you mean they disappeared?! How could they disappear? They're right ... there! Ohh! Damn! Don't panic... they must have fallen on the floor. Yeah that's it. Look around for God's sake. It's gotta be here. "

"Helloooo! Not here... nothing... nada... Zilch... We are never gonna make it out". By now Les could hear the panic rising in Irene's voice.

Leslie said: "Come on, let's get out of here."

"Are you sure we can make it Les? I'm really frightened of being lost in here."

"Don't worry Re. I have many skills. One of them is a good sense of direction, and I'll get us out of here."

"Alright... I trust you. Let's go for it. Lead on my friend. Let's get the hell out of here..."

After maybe two or three hours of many wrong turns and stumbling in the darkness. They emerged from the cave and gave a sigh of relief. "We made it Les!" Both women hugged each other. They were so happy to be out of the cave. By this time the sun was setting and it was starting to get dark. They were elated. Elated that is, until they noticed the site was gone. Everything and everyone was
!!! "Holy shit! What the hell is going on here?!?" shouted Leslie. "
Oh No! The Stone!!
" It really happened. Oh my God! Well Re, I guess your little theory was
, huh." Shouted Leslie.

Irene looked from left to right and left again. The look on Irene's face was that of sheer panic. By this time Irene was crying and apologizing at the same time. "Oh Leslie! I'm SO sorry! I never thought any of that stuff on the scroll was for real... How could this happen?!? This is all my fault." Irene sank down to her knees and continued to cry.

Leslie sat down next to Irene and tried to calm her friend. Fat chance of that, because she was having problems calming herself at the moment. 'Think! Think! Have to focus on the problem at hand. '

"Wait a minute!!! That's it! Of course!" Lesley swung her arms out in a wide ark. "Re! Look at the terrain of the area. It doesn't even look the same... We must've come out a different cave opening!!! We probably got so lost in there that we ended up here. Wherever here is?!? That's gotta be it Re. We just came out the wrong side."

"You really think so??" asked Irene as she was still sobbing.

"Yeah! I do. Look, the light is fading and we wont be able to find our way in the dark. So, we'll have to stay here until morning. It's not to cool out so we don't have to worry about that, and we have two canteens of water, so that's OK. We just might get a little hungry is all. And we can either sleep by the cave opening or out here. We'll be fine."

"We won't get hungry, Les." Irene goes into her backpack and pulls out two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Leslie looked at Irene in amazement. "Why!?"

"You never know when you might need it." . "But I think we should save it for breakfast." Irene said. All Lesley could do was shake her head in agreement.

For some time both women had just been sitting there perusing their surroundings. When all of a sudden they spotted what seemed to be the flickering light of a campfire.

Irene said it first: "Maybe we should take a look and find out if, whoever is out there can help us find our way back to the site. It would be better than waiting here until dawn. They might be gone by then."

"I agree. Let's go. But first let me check something out that's in my backpack." said Leslie. With that she pulls out a revolver and a box of bullets from her pack. She starts to load the revolver...

"What is this?!? I didn't know you had a gun!!"

Leslie looked up, and as she did so a lone bullet fell to the ground unnoticed by the two women. "Well Re, Ya never know when ya might need it."

"Ok, Ok, I get it" said Irene. Both women had a good laugh and then started out towards the flickering light.

Chapter Four

'I don't know what it is, but I just can't seem to tire of watching her practice every morning. She is so graceful and fluid in her movement. It's mesmerizing. I know she is watching me watching her but I can't help it. The way she spins, dips and lunges are truly poetry in motion. thought Xena. It's almost as if the bard in her is always present. The way she twirls her staff; tells a story all it's own.'

Xena continued to watch Gabrielle as she continued her morning exercise. She was amazed at the level of control that Gabrielle displayed with this weapon. An Amazon War Staff could easily kill a person, but it takes true skill and dexterity to wield this weapon and spare a life in a combat situation. 'Yet my bard seems to do that all the time. Truly amazing.'

Xena notices a change in the Bard's routine, and knows that Gabrielle is starting her cool down exercises. Xena still watches mesmerized by her partner.

Gabrielle turns and smiles at her Warrior. As green eyes lock with blue; both can feel the warmth they share. Xena stands as Gabrielle returns to camp.

"Hey, you're up awfully early. Sleep on a rock or something?" asks the Warrior.

"Well my warrior pillow was a little bit lumpy last night. I would have been more comfortable if you had taken off the breastplate last night." said Gabrielle, with a grin.

"Pillow! Now I'm a pillow! I hope your highness will be happy to know that tonight we will be sleeping somewhere other than the ground, and in your case, somewhere other than me." growls Xena. Try as she might she could not keep that sparkle of amusement out of her eyes.

"Oooo" said Gabrielle, Does that mean it's my turn to play pillow?"

Xena reaches for Gabrielle and pulls her close. She whispers, "Maybe." into the bards ear.

Gabrielle locks her knees and thinks, 'Gods, I don't know if it's the workout or that one whispered word, but if she lets go now she'll need to pick me up off the floor.'

Gabrielle smiles and asks, "Where are we spending the night?"

"At Mom's inn. I figure if we push it, we can be there by early evening."

Gabrielle leans in and lightly brushes Xena's lips with her own. "I can't wait."

Xena says, "Then we had better get camp packed up and head out."

Xena tries to move away from Gabrielle but realizes that she has no intentions of letting her go. Xena says, "Um, Gabrielle! We've got to get moving if you really want to get there before dinner is served."

"Hmmm, maybe I did not make myself clear." says Gabrielle in a voice deep with desire: "I... Can't... Wait... " In between kisses.

"Mmmmh" says Xena as she gathers Gabrielle more firmly in her arms. "Now I think I understand... You want a late dinner." The grinning warrior says.

"Something like that." the bard says.

Xena thinks, 'Well, what's another hour or two. This is a great spot and I can think of no one better to share it with than my beloved bard.'

'Well we're finally on the road. But, what a great way to start the day. First watching Gabrielle practice with her staff, then some serious cuddle time and now this. Look at her... I swear, the day and the view is just getting better and better. Definitely and advantage to riding rear guard; yep, and what a rear to guard!'

Xena, did you hear what I just said?" asked Gabrielle.

"Um, no. I was too busy guarding your rear. I mean guarding the rear. stammered Xena.

Xena notices a blush starting to make its presence known on the bards neck.

"Oh, um, well..." the bard falls silent.

"Tongue tied, or did my little bard forget how to speak? That could be an occupational hazard you know."

"Well I was wondering, about how far out from Amphipolis are we." asked the bard.

"Well, I had hoped we would make it there tonight, but it will be too late when we arrive so, I think it would be a good idea if we camped near that cave you dreamed about. You said you wanted to see it; and we're not far from it. Besides I'd like another night alone with you. But we would make better time if you rode Argo with me. Come on, we'll get there faster if we ride." With that Xena held out her arm to Gabrielle and pulls her up on Argo.

Gabrielle grabs hold of Xena's arm and is pulled up into the saddle in front of Xena. "Um, Xena, I thought I was going to ride in the back."

"Not this time Gabrielle. Today you're leading and I'm going to wrap my arms around you for a change." Xena wraps her arms around Gabrielle's abdomen. Her fingers start to gently stroke her skin. Xena could hear Gabrielle take a quick breath and heard her whisper... "How many candlemarks can I take this?"

T he Warrior chuckled and stated: "Quite some time if you don't get Argo moving again." As she continued to tease the bard.

Gabrielle groaned and kicked the old warhorse into motion.

Xena and Gabrielle decided that they would camp near the river instead of by the mouth of the cave. It was more convenient to be closer to the river for bathing and fishing. About two candlemarks before sunset they set about making camp. They fell into their familiar pattern around the camp. When everything was as it should be; Xena went up to Gabrielle, and from behind, wrapped her arms around her bard kissing her tenderly on her neck and whispering in her ear of her deep love for her.

Gabrielle turned in Xena's arms to face her and kissed deeply and passionately. "How do you know what I need from you at exactly the right moment?"

"One of my many skills." grinned Xena.

Gabrielle looked up at Xena with an impish grin on her face. "Why don't you show me your many skills right now, my warrior?"

Xena felt a shiver run through her body. "By the Gods, Gabrielle! You have no idea what passion your words invoke in me."

The two women made love to each other as though it was the first time. When they had finished they just lay in each others arms... Until... Gabrielle's stomach rumbled.

"Oookayyy! You boil some water for tea and I'll go catch some fish for dinner. Do we still have that frying pan??? asked Xena, with a grin on her face.

This time it was Gabrielle that raised an eyebrow!

After the evening meal was finished. They each fell into their familiar routine around the fire. Xena sharpened her sword with her whet stone and Gabrielle writing the days events on her scroll. Suddenly Xena jumped to her feet with her sword at the ready. She had heard footsteps coming their way. She motioned to the bard to get her staff. Whoever was heading toward their camp couldn't have been sneaking up on them , because they were making far to much noise.

Chapter Five

Leslie was leading the way; with Irene holding on to Leslie's backpack. The going was a little more difficult for our two adventurers than they had expected, because of the darkness and not knowing where they were going. And Irene's ability to bump into every tree and trip over every log and bolder they encountered. It was apparent, early on that night, that Irene was an accident waiting to happen to herself and anyone else in close proximity. This was driving Leslie crazy as every time Irene stumbled she pulled Leslie down along with her. "Ughhhh! Re! Would you please be more careful!! Must you find
damn tree in this forest?!? You ran a construction company for God's sake!! Ya couldn't have done construction if you were a klutz!" Lesley heard Irene sigh and shined the flashlight on her face and when she saw the look that was there, she loudly said: "
You could

Sheepishly Irene told Leslie how she could.... "Les I was always banging into things, hitting myself with hammers and the like. Hell, I was on a first name basis with the emergency room nurse. This went on for some time until I figured out what was going on... Why I got so clumsy... This only happens when I get frightened or nervous about things. And Les, right now I'm really frightened."

"Oh Irene, It'll be Ok. You'll see. Ahh, I'm sorry I lost my temper. We're very close to the campfire now. I don't think there is anything for you to bump into." Leslie took Irene's hand in hers and they walked side by side. 'At least if Re trips I can let go! ' she thought with a smile.

As They came into the campsite Leslie and Irene were greeted by a most imposing sight. There stood Xena and Gabrielle just staring at them. "Holy Shit!!" This is the damn dream!" said Irene. All Lesley could do is stare at the Warrior and Bard with her mouth hanging open. The bard just turned to Xena and said: " By the Gods! These are the people in my dream, Xena."

All of a sudden it dawned on Lesley, "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore!!" she said.

Shit, Holy Shit!
It is true! We're in the past. That was the right cave entrance...
Wrong fucking millennium!!!
" And as Irene said those words she tripped on a rock...

Chapter Six

The four women sat around the fire. Xena wasn't quite sure what was making Irene and Leslie so upset. She knew they looked different. She had never seen such different looking clothing before and some of the words they used were odd. Although, she did not have too much trouble understanding them. "So. I think it would be a good idea if you told us how you came to be in Greece." demanded Xena.

Both women looked at each other waiting for the other to start the explaination. Irene nodded to Leslie to start.

"Where to start?! Ok, here we go. We're archeologists and we were excavating a site where... Leslie started to say, when Irene interupted her....

"Well she's the archeologist really. I'm just a student of archeology and ancient Greek synta... language that is to say... we found this talisman and scroll inside a hidden room in the large cave back there and that was the start of all our trouble, and..."

"Re! Please, you are rambling. Let me explain."

"Ah! Sorry... Go ahead." said Irene.

"We found a talisman, in a cave behind a temple wall, with the largest and most beautiful red crysral in it. And a warning etched into it. We also found a scroll written in the form of a poem that was a warning to anyone who found it. Sorry for us! We blew it off as nothing more than something to keep people from taking it out of the cave. Boy, were we ever wrong. Well, we both touched the talisman at the same time and we ended up here. I guess it was a one way trip..." her voice trailed off as she put her head in her hands.

"Do you have this talisman and scroll. I want to see them." said Xena. She was not sure she believed them.

"No. We don't. After we touched the stone everything disappeared. But I did manage to save a copy on my computer. Here take a look... said Irene.

Gabrielle was amazed! "What is that!!! Where is the light coming from?"

"Oh this... It's my computer. I never would have been able to translate the scroll without it."

Now Xena was very interested in this thin gray box. It was too close to Gabrielle. "How does it help you?
Explain! Now!
" she yelled.

"Look! First of all your scaring the hell out of me! Stop being so damn combative... We are not here because we chose to be, damn it, we're here because... because... I don't know why the hell we're here (she said with dismay). And we mean no harm to you or Gabrielle. So, lighten up and give us a break here. In our time we have many wonderful things that make life much easier for us than here in your time. I can only tell you that the computer is one of them. Unfortunately, it will only work for four or five more hours until the battery wears down." Irene closes the computer and shows Xena the battery. "This is what gives the computer... Machine... it's power. This is what makes it work! It's just a tool. Nothing else."

Before Xena could respond, Leslie chimed in and said: "Xena in my time you are a legend! And Gabrielle you are the one responsible for that. Your scrolls recounting Xena's exploits have been discovered and translated into many languages so that our time can know of the deeds that were done for the greater good. The scrolls were found by Janice... "

"Janice & Melinda." said Xena softly. Gabrielle came over to her warrior and put her hand on her arm. "They are our descendants. Xena met them."

"Oh my!" both women said. "How?? How do you know who they are?" Leslie asked.

"Melinda and Janice helped me defeat Aries. He wanted to bring war and distruction to your time. With their help we defeated him."

"They searched the world for your scrolls Gabrielle. Translated them and wrote many article's and books about them. I wanted to be just like them and find more scrolls, but instead I found that talisman and here we are stuck in a place and time we don't belong. What's that saying: Nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live here...." Leslie's voice trailed off as tears ran down her cheeks. Irene went to her side and put an arm around her and turned to look at Xena... "Please! Do you think you can help us get home?"

Xena's response was slow to come, as she pondered the problem at hand. "That's a toughy! I have to think about this. I don't know if I can help, but I promise you both I'll try. I think we should get some sleep and tomorrow we will head on into Amphipolis."

Leslie and Irene were exhausted. One little problem thought Irene. "Uh, Gabrielle... Um, I need to go to the bathroom and...

"What is bathroom?!" asked Gabrielle.

"Um, I mean I have to relieve my self... ya know!" Irene motioned with her hands. "OH!" It finally dawned on Gabrielle what Irene was talking about.

"Overthere." pointing to the bushes.

"Shit! I was afraid of that... No possibility of toilet tissues then either, huh?"

"What is that?" asked Gabrielle.

"Aw shit! What do you use to wipe yourself with?"
Leaves." Gabrielle laughed.

"Leaves..." Irene just groaned and walked into the bushes. Leslie tried to stifle her laugh as did Xena, but the bard just couldn't stop laughing.

Gabrielle had an extra ground blanket and fur covering that she gave to her new friends. Each couple were on either side of the campfire. Leslie and Irene had to share the blankets, but they were so exhausted that they were just glad to be able to fall peacefully and safely asleep. They said good night to each other and drifted off to a deep sleep.

Xena and Gabrielle were lying on their backs looking up at the stars and thinking. " Xena, I can't explain it, but I think that Leslie and Irene are, in some way connected to us. I think they are our descendants. From what I got from that "machine"; only our kin would be able to use the Stone to reach into the past. It doesn't say anything about how they can return, I'm afraid."

"I too feel a connection to the two of them. I kind of liked how Irene stood up to me... They may never get back to their time, though. We don't even know who put that Stone there in the first place, or why... If it was just chance that they were the ones to discover the Stone, or if they were destined to do so. Like I said, my bard, it's a toughy!" The two just looked at each other and with a sigh just snuggled up and kissed goodnight.

Irene was the first to awaken. Partly because she had had a very restless night, and partly because she had to relieve herself. I can't believe this! How did these people survive! 'NO COFFEE... NO TOILET TISSUE... NO NOTHIN'... SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!!! ' She thought to herself as tears rolled down her cheeks. 'But... How can I be so upset about something so insignificant. I must be really shallow. I should be worried about getting us back to our time... It is , after all, my fault we're stuck here in the first place. My smug arrogance that we didn't have a thing to be afraid of from that damned talisman. If only I had...'

"Morning Re. Hey, you Ok? Don't cry..." she says as she wipes the tears away from her cheeks. "We'll get back home. Re... Re... Look at me... It's Ok! We're here with people we can trust and who will help us to get home. And even if we don't they'll help us adapt. We are survivors; you and me. And..."

"Oh God! How can you be so nice to me?!?
This is all my fault.
I'm so very sorry! I made fun of your concerns about the scrolls message and told you it was baloney! You should punch my lights out instead of wiping my tears away! We're never gonna get out of here, and back to our time... never, never." Her voice trailed off. Irene had never felt such guilt before.

Les pulled her friend into her arms and hugged her. "Listen to me now! It was not your fault!! How could anyone believe that such a thing could happen. No one would or will believe this. I don't believe it; and I'm living it! We will be alright no matter what turn of events occur. You have to trust me on this. We are here together... It would be horrible if we didn't have each other.

"That's the only positive aspect of this whole fantastic mess. Of course, I trust you. And I promise you I will do everything to get us home."

"Come on Re, lets take a bath in the river. I think we both need one. she laughed. It sure will make me feel better. What do you say? Lets go swimmin'. I haven't skinny dipped since I was a kid."

"Oh my! I have never skinny dipped! Alright! Let's go for it." she laughed. "Last one in is a time traveler." She was off and running towards the river with Les right behind her.

Xena, with her incredible hearing, heard everything the two women had said to one another. She was deeply moved by their friendship and devotion to each other. It was then that she made a promise to herself, and these two kinswomen of hers and Gabrielle's; that she would help them either to return to their time or make a life for themselves here. A plan was formulating in her mind. They would go to Amphipolis for a time and then they would journey to see the Oracle of Delphi. If anyone could tell them who or what was responsible for this the Oracle could.

Irene and Leslie were splashing around in the water like a couple of kids. "This feels so good. You were right Les, this is relaxing me. Not as tense as".... SPLASH ... "HA! HA! GOTCHA!!" shouted Les. "Oh yeah!" as Irene started to splash Leslie back. "Right back at ya." As both women were splashing they came closer and closer together until they were holding each others arms. The laughter subsided and both of them looked at each other with desire and longing... When suddenly, they heard Xena's voice calling to them from the river bank. "Come on you two; play time is over. Time for breakfast. "Ok. We'll be right out." shouted Les. "Yeah, Ok... We'll be right there." Re said as she got out of the water and started putting on her clothes rather hurriedly. She felt somewhat embarrassed about standing there naked as a jaybird. Leslie was not uncomfortable being naked in front of anyone, but this was different, Re was there. She too hurriedly dressed and both of them headed back to camp. Whew! Saved by the bell. That was too close... Irene thought.

After breakfast Irene set about helping Gabrielle. And Xena, decided to do her sword drills and asked if Lesley would like to watch her. It surprised Xena when Leslie asked if they could spare together. "You are familiar with a sword?" asked Xena. "Yes. fencing is a hobby of mine. Although I've never fenced with anything like that. It's very impressive, I might add." pointing to Xena's sword. "What is this fencing!?" "That's what they call fighting with swords in my time." "Hmmm"... said Xena, "here is a sword you can use to practice." The first time Xena struck Leslie's sword, Leslie could feel her whole body revirberating from the force of the blow. On and on they practiced until Xena fiigured Les had had enough. "You have a long way to go, but that was very good for a first time." "Thank's... But I feel like my arms are going to fall off. You certainly are strong." said Leslie. Xena just smiled. "I think we should go back to camp and see if Gabrielle and Irene are ready to get going. I want to reach Amphipolis before nightfall."

Gabrielle and Irene had already packed up camp and were waiting for LesLie and Xena to return. Gabrielle was sitting by the fire and Irene was pacing back and forth, like a caged animal. "Re. Maybe I can help. Please talk to me... tell me what's troubling you?"

"Ya know, I'm almost twice your age. I should be helping you, not the other way 'round. I feel so lost and helpless. And to be honest with you; I'm terrified! My life was so dull. I wanted an adventure, and boy oh boy, I sure got one. I have this awful feeling we will never get back home and I will never see my children again and Les is going to end up hating me for getting her in this mess. You've both taken us to your hearts and we are so very grateful, but we can't expect you to babysit us forever." Irene waved her hands animatedly. Then Irene said almost in a whisper, "And just a small complication... I'm in love with Les, and I can't take the chance telling her, because she would be disgusted with me and never speak to me again. God! I... have... never... been... attracted... to... a... woman... before! What am I gonna do? Any ideas?" Irene just stood there with her hands on her hips looking at Gabrielle; who was looking at her with her mouth hanging open. Before Gabrielle can respond... Irene looks up and sees Leslie looking at her...

Chapter Seven

Leslie was leaning back against a tree watching Irene's every move as she paces back and forth, speaking to Gabrielle. Leslie thinks: 'Gods! Look at her! I've never seen her this fired up before. She looks so sad. It's almost ... Uh oh! She's looking at me ... her eyes are so expressive; I can just imagine what they would be like while we were making love...
What am I thinking?1? She's my best friend... I can't have these thoughts about her.' Leslie tries to control her emotions; she can feel the heat rising in her face as she continues to watch her friend's movement around camp. So intent is she, that she doesn't notice Xena come up next to her.

Xena touches Leslie's shoulder and whispers, "Les, did you hear me? Are you alright? You looked a little flushed."

Les turns to Xena and sees a crooked grin on the warriors face, " I... I'm fine, why do you ask?"

Xena's grin grows as she looks at Leslie. "Because, I've been trying to get your attention for a while now and you have been staring at our two friends over there. Now I know you weren't looking at Gabrielle... so that leaves Irene. And from the look on your face, I can guess at your thoughts." Then, with the grin still firmly implanted on her lips, Xena turned and walked into the forest.

"WHAT!!" "What are you saying?!? Leslie says anxiously, as she catches up with Xena.

"I think you are in love with Irene. Does she know?" asks Xena.

"I don't... I mean... It's not that obvious, is it? I... She... I mean...we are best friends. She was married, has two great kids, she's just not interested in me that way."

How do you know, until you ask?"

"Oh Yeah... Risk loosing her friendship, because I have the hots for her... Just great! How would you handle it if you were in my place?"

"Easy" said Xena. "I had the same problem as you. For a very long time I knew I loved Gabrielle, but was unwilling to share my thoughts and heart with her for fear of loosing her. The same questions were going around in my head too. An then one day I just kissed Gabrielle. It was not a long drawn out kiss... It was lightly on the lips as I said thank you."

"What did she do then?"

"She stopped breathing for a minute, and all I could think was that I was in trouble. But then I saw her cheeks turn red, and as I looked into her eyes I could see them darken. Then she turned from me and made an excuse to leave camp to clean the dishes. I was devistated! I thought I blew it big time. I followed her to the stream, and there she sat by the waters edge, deep in thought. I went back to camp hoping that I had not scared her away. So when she came back to camp, I gave her her space and just went about my chores. Well, it wasn't long before my bards curiosity finally got the best of her and she asked me "Why?" I told her I was happy and it felt like the best way to express myself... did I get teased about that comment. Then she sauntered up to me and said, in a silky voice, I had never heard eminating from my bard before, 'So, if i'm happy, I should demonstrate those feelings.' And then she put her hands on either side of my face and pulled my head down towards hers... That kiss was almost like being lightly brushed by a feather, and getting hit by a ton of bricks at the same time. My soul has been hers from that moment on."

Chapter Eight

Gabrielle just sat there and continued to looke at Irene for a few minutes as she gathered her thoughts. When she asked Irene what was wrong, she hadn't expected her to throw in that last tidbit of information. "Whew!" she thought, 'Irene feels much the same as I did.'

"Re... Your concerns are very real. We will do everything we can to try and get you back, but you have to be prepared that that might not happen. As far as your feelings for Les goes... Well, I think you should tell Les your feelings for her. You never know! She may have those very same feelings for you... "

What if she doesn't... I couldn't risk loosing her... You just don't understand... I..." her voice trails off.

"Oh, but I do understand.", she said. Then Gabrielle proceded to tell her the very same story that Xena was telling Leslie. "... And that's the story. I loved Xena from the minute she rescued me from the slavers. Only, it took me awhile to figure it out."

"Come on, enough serious talk for one morning we have a long journey today. Xena will probably want to get to Amphipolis before nightfall." Looking over to where Xena and Leslie were standing, Gabrielle waved for the two new friends to come and help close camp.

It was midday and Xena was pleased with the distance they had traveled since starting out this morning. She had to laugh to herself... Gabrielle usually did all the talking, but this day there were three women talking a mile a minute and everyone was enjoying the conversation, even Xena. Well, it was time for a rest. She knew the bard could have walked farther, but Irene & Leslie looked like they could use a rest . She found a nice area and the group stopped to rest and have their midday meal, which consisted of some dry cheese and dried meat. As the women were about to partake of the meal, Xena suddenly stood up and drew her sword... Seeing this Gabrielle instantly got her staff at the ready.

"Oh Shit..." Irene said.

"Xena! Behind you... " Yelled Leslie.

Then all hell broke loose as five bandits attacked the women. Xena turned quickly and kicked one of the bandits in the stomach, as this happened Gabrielle was taking care of two very ugly, smelly bandits. She swung her staff with great strength and precision and felled one of them. However, the bard lost her balance and the other bandit took advantage of this misstep and kicked Gabrielle in the stomach. She doubled over in pain. Seeing this, Irene let out a scream and proceeded to attack the bandit, just as he was going to stab Gabrielle with his sword. She threw herself at him and he fell to the ground. She was grapling with him and found a rock and hit him in the head over and over again, until he stopped moving. Xena was trying to get to Gabrielle, but had to deal with three more bandits. One of the men broke away from the fight and headed towards the two women. By this time Irene had gone to help Gabrielle. Her back was to the fight , so she didn't see the man approaching. Xena seeing this, yelled at Irene to look out. She knew she couldn't get to them in time. She made short work of the two men she was fighting, and as she turned to run to aid her friends, a shot rang out, from behind her, and the man fell to the ground, dead. Xena turned... what she saw... was Leslie falling to her knees with a smoking gun in her hand. Irene looked at her friend and ran to her side. Leslie dropped the pistol, and just collapsed into her arms crying and shaking. Irene just held her and rocked back-and-forth, talking to her telling her it would be alright. By this time Gabrielle was by Xena's side holding her warrior's arm; looking at Lesley.

Looking at the pistol, Gabrielle asked: "What is that?!"

Xena just shrugged. "It's a weapon of some sort."

"Was Lesley hurt, Xena?" Gabrielle said with concern in her voice.

"No, my bard, she is fine. But something
changed for our two friends. They lost their blood innocence today... They are forever changed..." Xena just held Gabrielle as tears started to run down the bards cheeks.

After a time Leslie regained her composure and Irene knew she needed some space, so she went to help put their things in order so that they could get going again.

"Lesley. May I see your weapon?" requested Xena.

"Sure. But be careful. Let me show you how it works... She showed Xena the shells and how to load the pistol. Then taught her how to shoot it. It amazed her that that little bullet could do so much dammage. "Xena. If anything happens to me... I want you to know how to use the gun. Unfortunately, when the bullets are gone the gun will be useless."

Xena spoke softly to Leslie, "Les, you did what was necessary! Don't feel guilt for killing that man. He would have killed Gabrielle and Irene if you hadn't. I could never have reached them in time. You saved their lives. Now everyone, Let's get going. I really want to get to the inn before dark." Xena said, as the four friends set off once again on their journey to Amphipolis and mom's inn.

Just as the sun was setting they reached Amphipolis. "Oh My!" Lesley and Irene said as they came upon the Lion statue that was standing in front of them. Look Re! It's Amphipolis! By the Gods! We're here in Amphipolis and it isn't a ruin! We can really see what everything really looked like... What the people were like... And... "

"Whoa! Slow down. Do you think you can wait until tomorrow to go running around town? Les, we have to fit in. If we act strangely, people will shy away from us. Let's just go to the inn and just rest for tonight. Tomorrow is another day!" Irene said.

"I'm sorry. I just got carried away. It's just so exciting to see this town alive and not in ruins. You're right, of course, Re. We do have to be careful."

Chapter Nine

Cyrene thought, 'It's really busy tonight! I'm glad I have enough help tonight.' As she was cleaning up one of the tables, she looked up and noticed her daughters just coming in the door. Putting the dishes back on the table with a clatter, she ran to her girls and gave them a great big bear hug. "I've missed you both so much!"

"We've missed you too mother." Xena said, as she tried to breath while still in her mothers bear hug. "Your visits are few and far between... Let me look at you as she first turned her attention to Xena. You look thinner! What have you been doing?" Thinking better of that question, she said, "Never mind... I don't want to know."

"Come here you", as she grabbed Gabrielle and hugged her tight. Then holding her at arms length, "Oh! You look positively georgeous. My daughter is lucky. I'm so happy to have my daughters home." "Hi! Mom. I sure missed you." As she reached up and kissed Cyrene on the cheek. Cyrene laughed and said: "You missed me? Are you sure it wasn't my nutbread?"
"Well, mom, maybe the nutbread did have something to do with it." the bard said, starting to blush.

Just them Cyrene noticed two oddly dressed women standing near 'her girls" (as she liked to call them.) 'Hmmm!' she thought, 'They don't look like Amazons. I wonder where they came from? As a matter of fact they look a little out of place.' "Xena are you going to introduce me to you traveling companions?"

"Oh! Uhh! Sorry mom... Just got carried away in the excitement. This is Irene & Leslie... And mom, They need a place to stay. If it's alright with you. "Irene... Leslie... This is Cyrene my mother." "Hey! My mom too!" laughed Gabrielle.

"We're pleased to meet you Cyrene." said Leslie. "We've heard a lot about you from Gabrielle's writings."

"I'm embarrased to say we don't have any money... "Dinars..." interjected Gabrielle. "You don't have any dinars." "Ahh Yeah! We don't have any dinars, but we offer our services to work around the inn... I'm really good with my hands; I mean I can help fix things around the inn... Irene's voice trailed off. "And I can cook! Sort of..." Leslie said.

Cyrene looked at Xena with a confused look on her face. "Writings... money... What..."

"It's a really long story as to how we met up, so if you don't mind I'll tell you about it tomorrow. Ok? We've had a really rough day, mother."

"If my daughter welcomes you as a friend, then so do I. Welcome to my home. You must be starving! I'll get you all some food and drink. Xena, Gabrielle your room is always ready for you, and as for you two; is it alright if you share a room tonight? The inn is rather full. "

"Oh sure... Anything... We can share, right Les?"

"Yeah. That'll be fine. Hell. We shared the tent. Didn't we. Yeah, that'll be fine", she groaned.

Cyrene brought out some stew and ale for the women. Irene and Leslie were enjoying the food and the ale. "Listen you two, go easy on the ale. My mom makes it herself and it is quite potent."

"Oh! I'vvve haaddd ale be (hiccup) fore. Isss Sok." Irene said slurring her words.

"Oh Shit!! To late." Leslie said. "OK! Time for bed Re. Come on! Here we go"... As she helps her friend to their room. "Goodnight everyone and thank you for everything."

Xena, Gaabrielle and Cyrene just looked at each other and busted out laughing. "I know. Wait till tomorrow." Cyrene said as she walked into the kitchen. Xena took Gagrielle's hand and they are soon on their way to their room.

"Here we are Re. This is our room." Leslie got a big surprise when she opened the door to the room... Only one bed! Big enough for two, but still only one bed. "Why are you doing this to me?" as she looks up to Heaven. Not that she saw anything but the ceiling.

"Doin' wha (hiccup) at Leshh?" Irene slurred.

"Oh Re, hon, not you. We have to get you to bed. Come on, get your clothes..." before she could finish her sentence; Irene threw herself onto the bed and was out cold. Leslie just took her boots off and let her sleep in her clothes. She gently covered her dear friend with the blanket. Then she got undressed and slipped under the covers. She had no idea how exhausted she really was, until she laid down. She was almost asleep when there was a knock at the door. She got up and wrapped the blanket around her almost naked body... "yes?! Who..."

"It's me, Cyrene." Leslie opens the door... "Oh Les! I'm sorry to disturb you, but I noticed that you and Irene didn't seem to have any other clothes. So... I got something for you to change into while I have your clothes washed. Here. I think this will fit you... And this will fit Irene."

Tears spring into Leslie's eyes... "Oh Cyrene. Thank you. You are so very kind. I... I'm overwhelmed!"

"There now, no reason to cry." As she patted Leslie on the arm. Cyrene felt a little embarrassed by this display of emotion. "Now give me the dirty clothes."

"Well, here are mine, but Re is still wearing hers."

"We'll just have to take them off now; won't we?" Finally the two women got Irenes clothes off.

"Thank you again Cyrene. Goodnight." Leslie shut the door and went to sleep feeling happy that she had such wonderful ancestors.

The next morning Xena was up and bathed and headed towards the kitchen at the crack of dawn, leaving her bard sleeping peacefully. When she reached the kitchen, she saw her mom humming and working around the kitchen. This was the time of day Xena liked best when she was home, because she got to spend some quality time with her mother. "Morning mother."

"Good morning Xena. Did you rest well?" Cyrene asked her daughter as she kissed her on the cheek.

"Yes mother. I always do when I'm home." She kissed her mom on the cheek. "How have things been around here? Where's Toris mother?"

"Things are about the same here except we need to rebuild two of the cabins out back. Toris has gone to get supplies to lay in for this coming winter. There are things I just can't get here, so he went to a few other towns to gather what is needed." Cyrene hesitated, "Xena dear, it's time you told me about your new friends. You know, it's funny, but they kind of a resemble you an Gabrielle."

"Yes. We have noticed that mom. I guess I can't put off the explanation any longer. So, here goes.." Xena proceeded to tell her mom the whole story since meeting Irene and Leslie. Leaving out the part about being attack on the way home. It wasn't necessary to upset her mother. "There you have it mother... They resemble us, because they are our descendants."

"I find it hard to believe... It's such an incredible story. Are you sure?" Cyrene asked.

From the doorway came Gabrielle's voice, "Yes mom. We are sure... they belong to us alright! That's why we have to try to help them as best we can." She moved to where her warrior was sitting and sat down next to her, placing her arm around Xena's shoulder and kissing her good morning.

"All right then. What's your plan, Xena? How can we help our grandchildren?" She giggled as she said this, because they looked to be around her age.

"Why do
always have to come up with a plan?"

"Well dear, that's because you always do! " said Cyrene.

It took all of Gabrielle's disipline not tho burst out laughing.

Xena groaned. "Ok! Yes. I do have a plan to at least try to find out why they are here. If I can find that out... Maybe, just maybe, I can figure out a way to get them back to their time. If not... Then I'm afraid they are here to stay. I thought we could ask the Oracle of Delphi."

"Oh, and mom... let them help around the inn. It will give them something to do and make them feel like they are paying for there keep. They are two very proud women."

"Hmmm! Must have inherited that from two other very proud women I know." Cyrene said looking directly at Xena and Gabrielle. She had this big smile on her face.

A few hours later Irene and Leslie came down stairs and into the kitchen. "Morning everyone. Isn't it a lovely day? Leslie said.

"I just can't understand how you can be so up, this early. I can barely see straight." said Irene.

Teasing, Leslie said, "Perhaps, if you hadn't gotten smashed last night you would feel better!"

"Don't even go there." Irene said. "Please, Cyrene do you have coffee? I need coffee."

Cyrene had a puzzled look on her face. Looked at Xena, who just shrugged. "Uhh, Irene, what is coffee?"

"Never mind... " Irene said. What she thought was an entirely differant matter! Damn, Damn, Damn!!

Everyone was seated at the table for breakfast, and the conversation got around to the two cabins that needed rebulding. This got Irene's attention. "What has to be done to the cabins? I might be able to help! I used to run a construction company. I can build anything! Please Cyrene let me help. With the four of us we could get it finished in no time, and I bet it will be better than it was the first time." She said this in one breath.

Cyrene didn't know what to say. It was a large undertaking and she wasn't sure this woman could build the two cabins. She looked to Xena for help and Xena nodded her approval. "You have the job then Irene. You can get what ever supplies you need in town. Xena, you know where to go, so you can take Irene to purchase what is needed. We can also get some of the men from the village to chop down some logs for us. They owe me some favors."

"You won't be sorry. I promise you. And Cyrene... thank you for the clothes and your hospitality." Irene said.

"It's the least I can do. You're family!"

Chapter Ten

It had been two weeks since the rebuilding of the cabins had been going on, and although some of the technics that Irene was familiar with had to be modified, things were going well. She worked with what was at hand and adapted her skills to fit the job. Everyone had helped out, and done what she asked of them. And, of course, Leslie was so very proud of her. She couldn't believe this was the same women who two weeks ago was stumbling all over the place, and bumping into things. 'She's got her confidence back.' Leslie thought as she looked up at the sky and said: 'Thank you.'

Irene had been training to use the war staff. She had seen Gabrielle use it when they were attacked by those thugs, and was very impressed. Gabrielle would practice every evening after they worked on the cabins and Irene tended to tag along with her. One session Irene could stand it no more, and asked, no begged rather, if Gabrielle would please teach her. At first Gabrielle wasn't very receptive to the idea, but saying no to Irene was very difficult. If not impossible. Irene came up with more reasons why she should learn than a caterpillar has legs. So, Gabrielle relented. She was an apt pupil. Irene felt more secure about being able to help in a fight now. Now, her friends could depend on her.

Xena had been sparing with Lesley every night. Teaching her how to use a sword. She had been impressed with her ability. She seemed to be stronger now. Xena guessed it was the hard work of building the cabins that were bulding Leslie's body up. Both women seemed to be much more confident now than when they had first met...

Cyrene went out back to call everyone in for the noon meal. She couldn't believe how fast the cabins were being finished. It probably would only take about a few more days. 'I never would have believed it if I didn't see it for myself. Irene certainly knew what she was doing.'

That night as everyone was finishing the evening meal, Xena told the two travelers what her plan was to try and help them get home. "When do we leave!" asked Leslie very excitedly.

"Well, Irene says the cabins will be done in a few days, so I figured we would go the day after... I'm sure the Oracle can shed some light on your predicament. I'll ask for an audience with her, and we'll take things from there. You do realize that this might all be for nothing."

"No Xena. None of this is for nothing..." She clasps Xena's arm in friendship. We have found out who we came from. How wonderful all of you are... I found out that the traits we see in ourselves, we have inherited from you and Gabrielle. You have done so much for us already... I can't begin to even thank you..." Tears started to roll down her cheeks.

Irene walked up to Xena and kissed her on the cheek and said: "That's ditto for me too!" Then she went and hugged Cyrene and Gabrielle. Xena was a little unnerved by all this show of emotion. She looked to the bard for help. When she saw she would get none, she just shrugged and smiled that half smile of hers and went with the flow.

It was late and the last of the inns patrons had left. Nothing to do now but straighten up and get things ready for the next day. When everything was finished our little family group sat around the table for a bite of food and some conversation.

"So. The cabins are finished right on time Irene. They look wonderful! Thank you. I never thought that you would be able to do the job, but you sure proved me wrong." Cyrene said as she gently touched Irene's cheek.

"Thanks... But I didn't do it by myself ya know! We all did it. Thanks to all of you for making me look so good." With that statement Irene went around and hugged everyone of her new family. Even Xena accepted the hug good naturedly. 'Gods! More hugging! '

All of a sudden the door to the inn bursts open and three very tired looking Amazons walked in. They saw Gabrielle as she was rising from her seat to greet them, they quickly came towards her.

"Solari! It is good to see you! Hello Diandra, Cassia. What brings you here?" asked Gabrielle.

Solari bows to her queen, "Thank Artemis we have found you safe and sound, my Queen. We have been looking for you for three weeks now. Ephiny has sent scouts out to find you, and bring you back to the village. She is terribly worried about you."

"Solari... First of all, don't call me My Queen. Gabrielle will do nicely. Now, tell me why Ephiny is so worried that she would send out search parties to find me?"

"The high preistess of Artemis told Ephiny that it was imperitive that we find you and warn you that you were in grave danger. And to bring you back to the village immediately. Eph said something about some kind of vision , but didn't elaborate on it. This is all I know my Queen, er Gabrielle."

Gabrielle turns to look at Xena. Xena could see worry in Gabrielle's eyes. "Don't worry, Gabrielle, we'll head out at first light. We'll be there in two or three days. Then we can get to the bottom of this. No one will hurt you as long as I'm here."

"Correction!" said Leslie. "As long as we are here. We're going with you. Isn't that right Irene?"

"You bet it is. I wouldn't miss this! Irene thought a minute and a devilish grin appeared. Pointing to Solari and the other two Amazons: "Do you think I could wear clothes like that when we get there?" Speaking to now one in particular. Of course, this got a laugh out of everyone thus relaxing the tense emotions of the moment.

"Leslie, Irene I'm so sorry that we can't go to Delphi now, but... I am the Queen. It's my responsibility to go an.... "

"Please, you don't have to appoligize to us. We understand completely. We can go there after we find out what's going on at the village. Right Les?"

"You bet! I know you have to do the Queen thing. But, I'll tell you this... We refuse to let you go without us. We wouldn't miss out on this for anything."

Xena spoke before Gabrielle had a chance to: "Listen, Les, this could be very dangerous and... "

We're going and that's that. We're family and families stick together! Ya got that?!"

"OK! You can go!" Xena had a very surprised look on her face. She thought to herself: 'Whao! She certainly isn't intimidated by me! Is she?"

All Gabrielle could do, after seeing the look on Xena's face, was to try to stifle a giggle. She knew by the look on Xe's face that she was surprised by Les' standing up to her that way. The look was priceless. Sort of like shock that anyone would dare stand up to the Warrior Princess.

The very next day they were on their way. The only difference was, that this time everyone was on horseback. Much to the dismay of the bard; who complained that she didn't like to ride and would much rather walk. But, Xena insisted, saying that they didn't know where they would have to go after they reached Amazonia, and riding horses would be more practical. They could get to wherever they were going much faster. Gabrielle had to agree with that bit of logic. But that didn't stop her from grumbling when she mounted her horse.

Our group had been traveling for four or five candlemarks now, and everyone was in need of a rest. Xena found a clearing and decided that this would be a fine place to rest. Leslie and Irene could not wait to get off their horses. They loved to ride... but not for this long a time! Leslie removed her back pack and took her canteen out and drank her fill. Her hand automatically went to her belt where she kept her pistol at the ready. Since the incident on the trail she felt more secure having her pistol close by. She also knew once the bullets were all used up the gun would be worthless. But by then, she would be well versed in using the sword and able to protect herself and Re.

Irene now wore the Bowey knife on her belt at all times. It made her feel safe. And thanks to Gabrielle, she had her staff. 'Yes. Yes indeed. Much safer. ' she thought as she drank from her canteen.

Xena and Gabrielle just sat next to each other speaking quietly and smiling. The Amazon's always seemed to be on guard. Ever watchful of their beloved Queen. They rested about a candlemark and then it was time to move on. Thank the Gods, the trip was uneventful. It took three days to reach the village.

As they came to the outskirts of the village they were met by more Amazons and escorted into the village. There Ephiny was waiting for her friends. Waiting not so patiently... She was very glad to see her Queen was well and safe. "My Queen, Thank the Gods you are alright. Xena, my friend, how are you?" Then Ephiny notices Leslie and Irene standing next to Xena. "Who are these women, Xena?"

"Eph, it's a long story... I'll fill you in later. As to how I am, depends on your answer... Right now I would like an explanation as to why it was so urgent for Gabrielle to return to the village. "

"Ephiny. Let's go to the Queens hut and we will discuss this. Also please have a hut prepared for our... uh! family." said Gabrielle.

"What! Family! I'm confused... where did... They resemble you but... " stammered Ephiny

"Eph, long story... Later... remember?" Gabrielle just shakes her head.

When our group was seated inside the Queens hut, Ephiny began to tell the story of why she was so anxious to find and bring her Queen to the village... "Celin, the high preistess of Artemis, told me that Artemis herself had come to her and told her to come and tell me to have you brought here immediately, because your life was in great danger. In fact Artemis saw your death. This was told to me one moon ago. The preistess said that there was a plan to help, but Artemis did not devulge this to her She also said that you and whoever you came here with was to go to the Temple the morning after your arrival and wait there. All will be revealed at that time."

Gabrielle just sat there stunned by this revelation. "By the Gods!"

Xena looked over to where Irene and Leslie were sitting. She was developing a plan... Xena gave Gabrielle that look that says 'we have to talk...'

"Eph would you show Irene and Leslie to their hut, please. Xe and I have to talk about this alone. Turning to the two archeologists she said, "we will meet you at the food hut for our evening meal and discuss this further."

"OK. See you later. If you need us just yell. I am kind of tired. I could use a nap." Irene said. The two women followed Eph out of the Queens hut to their own hut, which was next to Gabrielle and Xena.

Chapter Eleven

When Xena and Gabrielle were finally alone: "Ok, Warrior... What's on that mind of yours?"

"Gabrielle, I have a suspicion that Les and Re are not here by chance and I think Artemis has something to do with it. Brie... The scary part of this is that they were the ones who saved your life when we were attacked on the road to Amphipolis. I think that's why they were brought here. I could never have reached you in time... Forgive me... " Xena's voice trails off.

Seeing the pain in Xena's face, Gabrielle goes to her love and holds her in an embrace. "Oh Xena! My love, there is nothing to forgive. I'm fine and here with you. I love you. There was nothing you could have done. If what you surmise is true, then we should thank Artemis for bringing them back to help us."

" I love you, my Bard."

Gabrielle goes over to her warrior and gives her a very passionate kiss. Just then, Gabrielle's stomach starts to rumble. "I guess I'm a wee bit hungry." she laughs.

"Right. Lets go to the food hut. Everyone should be there by now anyway. Don't want you wasting away; do we? Chuckled Xena.

"Thank you Ephiny. I don't think we were properly introduced. My name is Irene and this gal is Leslie. We are kind of family... sort of... you might say."

"Yeah! Oookayyy! I guess I have to wait till Xena tells me what's going on, huh? If you need anything, my hut is on the other side of the Queens hut. Till the evening meal then..." Ephiny turns and leaves.

"I'm exhausted and downright confused. Did you see the look on Xena's face. She's on to something... I can feel it." Irene said looking over to her friend. "What's the matter Les? We made it to the village without any problems, and Gabrielle is safe. Come to think of it, So are we. That's a plus, Babe!"

"This brought a smile to Leslie's face. Yes it's a plus alright... When I'm down you become the optemist. I love y... that... about you. Look Re! A bathtub! Ughhh! I need to wash the dirt off. How 'bougt you."

"Yeah! Sounds like a plan to me."

"Ahh, you... you go first and I'll give you privacy and wait outside... OK?"

"Les, come on! Don't be silly. It'll get cold by the time one of us finishes. We're big girls here... Let's take the bath together. That way we both get hot water! And... we still have time for a nap."

Irene did not hear Leslie groan. "Right! We are two adult women... Sure why not...
'You can do this Leslie! ' she thought .

Both women undressed and got into the tub with out looking at one another. Oh boy! This feels great! Doesn't it Les? I had no idea I had so many muscles in my back that could cause sooo much pain. I am so stiff!"

"Here... Let me clean your back and then you can do mine. Maybe it will relax the muscles. How does that feel Re?"

Ahh! Yeah, yeah! That feels fine... 'A little too fine ' Irene thinks. OK... Thanks! That's enough... Your turn now." Irene turnes and faces Leslie... She looks into the deep blue pools that are Leslie's eyes. ' Oh yeah! I really do love her. I'm in trouble now. ' she thinks. "Les we need to talk... But not in the tub... I can't really concentrate in the tub... After we have dinner." Irene gets out of the tub and wraps a bath sheet around herself.

'Just great! Damn, Damn, Damn! My god! Was I that transparent?!' " Re! Are you angry with me? Did I do something wrong?! What's the matter?"

"Oh Les, no, I'm not angry at you. Quite the contrary. Les, do you think you can get out of the tub... It's kind of distracting... Leslie got out of the tub and was standing there naked, wiping herself with her bath sheet. "Les... Les... I... I... God! This is hard."

"Re. What?! You can tell me anything... you know that." Still standing there naked as a jay bird.

" I... I love you! Not like a friend. Like a lover. If you don't feel the same way about me, it's Ok Les, but, please don't be disgusted by my feelings for you. We can still... "

"Oh... My... God! You love me!!! I've been in love with you for so long. I was afraid to tell you for fear of losing you. I'd rather have you around as a friend if I couldn't have you as a lover. So, I kept quite."

All Irene could do was cry. Leslie came to her and held her in her arms and she too cried tears of joy. They sat like this for over a candle mark. Until Irene realized... "Les, hon... You're naked!"

"Very observant Re. What gave you the first clue?" Both friends just started laughing. This was the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. Together.

Ephiny was already at the food hut when Xena and Gabrielle came in. The three friend sat at the Queens table and started making small talk, when Ephiny could contain herself no longer... "Will you please fill me in on your traveling companions. They're strangely dressed... Which means they're not from around here and they talk funny. They said they were family, but I never heard you mention them and.... "

"Eph! Hold it!" Gabrielle proceeded to tell Ephiny the story about their two descendents. " And that's it in a nutshell, Eph." It took awhile for Eph to fully comprehend what Gabrielle had told her.

When Ephiny finally closed her mouth... "Sooo, that means.... You are grandparents!!!"
And burst out in a fit of laughter.

Xena just growled at Ephiny. "Okay! Enough with the laughing!" And Gabrielle just sat there giggling. "Oh great! You too!"

At that moment Irene and Leslie walked up to the table hand in hand. This did not go unnoticed by the three giggling companions. Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other and nodded their approval.

"Okay!!! What's fer dinner? I'm starving! My stomach has been rumbling for an hour." Irene said. With this last statement everyone just howled with laughter. How very like Gabrielle she was...

After the women had finished their evening meal and had had some wine, things got a bit more serious. The conversation got around to going to the Temple of Artemis and what they would find out. Leslie and Irene didn't have a clue yet, and Xena wasn't about to tell them her theory. They would find out soon enough. As a matter of fact both Les and Re were excited to actually see the inside of a temple that wasn't in ruins. They were, at their hearts, archeologists and the thought of gaining new knowledge about a civilization they could only speculate about a short time ago, was mind boggling for them. Everyone decided it would be wise to turn in early. The two time travelers couldn't begin to understand what awaited them.

Chapter Twelve

Morning came very quickly. The five women gathered together and then proceeded to the Temple of Artemis. It was just on the edge of the village. The Temple was a marble structure with columns in the front. Leslie and Irene were very impressed by this spectacular building. The others just thought of this as Artemis' Temple. Nothing that special. In they walked and were greeted by Celin, the High Preistess. "Welcome, my Queen. I are truly relieved you are here and well. The visions were frightening."

"What were the visions, Celin?" asked Gabrielle.

" I cannot answer your question your majesty. That is for the Goddess to tell. Please forgive me... "

Gabrielle just waved her hand and told Celin there was nothing to forgive.

An Owl flies into theTemple. Then there is a bright light and Artemis appears before Gabrielle. "Gabrielle! You are safe... My plan was successful.

"I don't understand! What... Was I in danger?!? From who and... " Gabrielle started to ask when Artemis raised her hand for Gabrielle to stop talking.

Before Artemis could speak, Xena, who was furious by this time, was glaring at Artemis and said: "What have the Gods done this time? Don't you ever get tired of meddling in our lives? When she is in danger it involves me as well. She is the other half of my soul and... "

"Xena! Please, stop it!" Gabrielle said, as she went to Xena's side and held her around the waist. She continued to speak to Xena in a calm and soothing voice. "Remember who you are speaking to. Artemis would never do harm to me. You know this."

"Gabrielle... I... I'm sorry. I couldn't live if... " Xena held Gabrielle close to her.

"Xena... Look into your heart. You know that I would protect Gabrielle. I also know you would give your life for her, but this time I knew you would be unable to protect her, and I could not. That is why I brought them (pointing to Leslie and Irene) to our time. I could not interfere, but nothing said I couldn't manipulate the situation so that the attack on the road to Amphipolis would fail to kill her." said Artemis.

"Areeessss... " Xena said his name with such hatred that the hair on Leslie's arms just stood up.

"Yes. Ares... He has been dealt with. When Zues found out what he was doing.... Well, let's just say he won't be bothering anyone for a while. He thought if Gabrielle were dead, he could get you back into the fold. I could not directly stop this from happening but I could bring Leslie and Irene here to help." She turned to speak directly to Lesie and Irene: "That is why the stone was put into the talisman so that you would feel an irrisistable urge to touch it. And when you both did... Well, you know the rest. Once you were here it was easier for me to... have you do what you were supposed to do... And that was to save Gabrielle's life. You have obviously done that. My thanks to you both."

"Artemis... Can you help us return to our time? When we touched the stone and were transported here... the stone vanished. Now, we have no way of getting back home. Knowing our ancestors has been an incredible experience for us, but this is not home. I miss my children... Please, help us!" A single tear falls from her eye.

Artemis could not help but feel compassion for this woman who looked so much like her chosen, and the other one, she had Xena's temperament. One had only to look at the way she held herself to know that she had confidence. She also didn't take her eyes off Irene. Hmmm! That protective thing... "The stone disappearded because it does not exist yet in this time frame. I may be able to help you return to your time. However, that depends on you."

"Great! More riddle's! What the hell is that supposed to mean? 'that depends on you'. You're the Goddess around here. Why not just snap your fingers and send us back?" shouted Leslie.

"I may be a Goddess, but there are things that even I can not do Leslie. I will allow your disrespectful tone of voice, because in your time we gods are looked at as just mythes. But I will allow it only once.
Do you understand me?

Before an angry Leslie could respond, Gabrielle said nervously: "Please, my Goddess... Leslie means no disrespect to you. This has been a harrowing experience for them both. Although they have adjusted to life here, their time is not now, but in the future. "

Then Leslie said: "Please forgive my outburst. You have no idea how frustrating all this has been. We have discovered who we are and where we come from. We have discovered we are stronger individuals than we once thought we were. But... we don't belong here... What do we have to do?"

Artemis waves her hand, and then turns to Xena... "You, all of you must journey to the isle of Theliki and bring back the Sands of Time to me. It will not be an easy journey for you. The island is in the Aggean Sea off the coast of Amphipolis near Thasos. Bring it back here to my temple."

I have never heard of an island off the coast of Amphipolis. " How far away is it, and why has no one charted it?" Asked Xena.

Xena! You doubt me? The island can not be seen because it is covered in a mist-like fog. Only when you come up close to the island can it be seen. I will give you instructions on how to reach Theliki and where to find the Sands. There is an old temple on the island. That is where you will find the Sands of Time." Artemis whispers something to Xena. She shakes her head in agreement.

"Forgive me Artemis... but... how is this going to help us get home?" Irene asked.

"Have faith! Follow Xena's directions and do as she tells you. All will be well. She knows exactly what has to be done. Then Artemis was gone in a flash of light.

Chapter Thirteen

Xena had managed to procure a ship and a crew. An old friend of hers, Calvos, owned the ship and agreed to take her and her friends to the island, if she could secure a crew for the journey. Thanks to Ephiny, she got her crew. Calvos was thoroughly surprised to see ten Amazons march on board and go right about their duties as a crew. Diandra and Cassia were among the ten Amazons. Best looking crew he'd ever had! He too had never seen or heard of the island, so he was eager to set sail on another one of his adventures. Quite frankly he would do anything for Xena. He owed her. She had saved his family and himself from certain death from a ruthless warlord. She heard of his plight and came to his rescue. Calvos never forgot his debt to Xena, and made a vow that he would be there when ever she needed him. So, that was the case today. He would take her and her friends to this invisible island and wait for her while she did what she needed to do. From what Xena had told him... It would take at least two days to get there. When they did reach the island, he was to wait until their return. And this he would do without question.

Xena and Leslie looked at the ship and were excited to be finally getting on board to start yet another adventure. However, that was not the case for Gabrielle or Irene...

Irene said, "Oh my! I'm feeling queasy just looking at the ocean."

"I know just what you mean. Give me your wrist... (she pokes Irene's wrist several times) Xena taught me how to do that. It will help... (as an after-thought she said) just don't eat anything you wouldn't normally." Gabrielle just smiled at her last statement.

Puzzled... Irene asked, "Huh! I don't get it? How's poking' me on the wrist going to stop my motion sickness?"

"Trust me! You should be feeling better right about now."

It was amazing, but true. Irene was feeling better. "Thanks Gabrielle! This is better than dramimine." Irene noticed the puzzled look on Gabrielle"s face and tried to explain... "Uhh... long story... Hey! I'm Hungry! When do we eat."

"Alright Calvos, let's set sail! " Looking over at her three traveling companions she said: "Okay! Next stop the Isle of Theliki. Oh! And Gabrielle, did you tell Irene about the wrist poke?" Xena said as she was laughing. She had already clued Leslie in on the consequences of the poke. Irene would want to eat the strangest things.

"Yeah, I did." answered Gabrielle. She smiled at Xena, thinking of a long time ago....

They had had their evening meal, exchanged stories and were sitting next to one another. Leslie and Irene were huddled under a blanket sitting by the metal stove trying to keep warm as was Xena and Gabrielle.

"So. How are you two doing?" Gabrielle asked with a sweet smile on her face. All Xena did was stifle a giggle.

"Oh! Fine! The motion sickness is....Oooh! You're not talking about that are you?" Irene said. "Ah, we're doing fine... I finally got up the courage to tell her (she turns to face Leslie ) I love you..."

Leslie was positively ecstatic: "Isn't that the greatest thing in the world to hear. I love you too, Irene."

Both Xena and Gabrielle just sat there and smiled at their descendants. They were very happy that they had finally found the courage to tell each other of their love.

Irene was the first to give in to sleep. "Well, I think it's time for me to turn in. I'll see you all tomorrow." And off she went below decks.

"Xe, I think I'm ready for 'bed' also. Are you. She smiled that smile at Xena, and that was all she had to do to convey what the word bed meant in this case.

"Oh Yeah! Right behind ya, my bard. Good night Les. Tomorrow will be a busy day for us. We should sight the island, and then the fun begins. Try and get some sleep."

"Xena... Do you think this is going to work? I don't want to get Irene's hopes up if there is no chance... If it was just me, I could make a life here as long as I have her, but I know she misses her children... And... She lower's her head.

Sensing the turmoil that was swirling around in Leslie's mind, Xena said: "Les! Listen to me! Only the Fates know what life has in store for us. We have to live our lives as best we can. Where we live them doesn't matter. It's how we live them that's important. Irene know's the chances of getting home are slim to none. We have to trust that Artemis will do as she said."

"Thank you, 'Grandma.... Just kidding!!!" she smiles sheepishly. " I say that with the deepest affection, Xena."

"You're welcome. Now, as your Grandmother; I'm telling you to go to bed!" Xena and Les just laughed and hugged good night.

When Xena got down to her cabin Gabrielle was writing on her scroll of the days events. "What took you so long my love?"

"Les was in need of a shoulder to lean on. You know, I will miss them a great deal when they go home. I've grown very fond of them."

She teased. "Well you could knock me over with a feather! You getting mushy about someone! Other than me, of course." "I feel the same way about those two. Half of me wishes they won't go home and the other half wishes they do. I feel a deep connection to them. A love, actually. Now, my Warrior, come over here and give me some love."

"Oh Yes! My Queen. Your wish is my command." said Xena as she bowed.

Leslie remained on deck for awhile longer, just looking out at the vast expanse of the moonlite sea before her. 'How beautiful! ' she thought. She and Irene hadn't had the chance to consimate their relationship with each other. There just wasn't the right opportunity. Things were moving to fast for them. They wanted their first time with each other to be perfect. Leslie had had lovers before, but never a women, and never had she felt such profound loving feelings toward anyone before.

She opened the door to her cabin... There Irene was sound asleep in her nightshirt. Les got undressed and got into bed next to Irene. She snuggled her body next to her love. 'Oh my! She feels so right next to me.' "Goodnight love." as Les kisses her on the cheek. Irene stirs in her arms. "Night Les."

Chapter Fourteen

Calvos was at the helm of the ship with Xena right next to him. Straining to see the island. Xena was losing patience. Up in the crow's-nest was Diandra trying to spot anything that remotely looked like it could be Theliki. "Xena! There! On the port side of the ship. The mist... That must be the island." Diandra slid down the sail and landed right next to Xena. Xena was impressed.

"That was very good Diandra."

"Thank you Xena. I learned that move from you a few years ago." Diandra said smiling.

"Diandra I want you and Cassia to take over here. Watch the island for a smoke signal. If you see one... Come running. Got it?" Xena said.

"Got it! You know you can count on me. How long do you think you will be on the island?"

Xena just shrugged her shoulders. "I really don't know."

"Alright! Listen up everyone... We'll take a rowboat and head toward the island Be very aware of your suroundings. We know nothing of this island so stay on your toes. Okay! Let's go!"

As the women were getting ready to row the boat ashore, Calvos tells Xena, "I won't tell you to be careful, because that's an impossiblity with you, but I will tell you to walk with the Gods. Be safe my friend."

The trip to the shore was uneventful. The women got out and pulled the rowboat up on the beach.

"Make sure it's up far enough so that it won't float away when the tide comes in." Gabrielle said.

"Before we start, Les and I want to thank you both for going to all this trouble. We know this island is an unknown. You are risking your lives to help us. Who knows what awful things are out there or if anything is out there. Yet you both are there for us. We... We love you both. Just wanted you to know that in case.... " Irene and Leslie had tears in their eyes as did Xena and Gabrielle. Of course, there was a group hug.

"Okay now! Let's head on out. Les! Have that weapon of yours handy, just in case." Xena said.

"Right. No problem."

Irene got a great idea! Taking the walky-talky out of her pack... "Les Take one of the walky-talky's. That way if we get seperated we can still be in touch and find each other." Turning to Xena and Gabrielle: We'll show ya how they work so you can use them also." After the quick lesson was over, our four adventurers were off on their trek.

Artemis had given Xena some idea as to where the old temple was, but Xena didn't know how long it would take them to get there, or what obstacles they would run into if any. They walked for almost three candlemarks when they came to a clearing. On the other side of the clearing they saw theTemple. What they couldn't see from their vantage point was that at the end of the clearing was a sharp drop off. The temple was on the other side. They couldn't see any way to get to the other side.

"Damn! How the hell are we going to get accross? I don't see any way. Can we climb down and then up again? We'll kill ourselve's trying." Irene said.

Everyone kind of agreed with her, but being with Xena meant never giving up. There had to be a way, and they would find it. Xena had an idea. She climbed a tall tree to have a look around. She could see things up there that she couldn't see from the ground. Up she climbed. "I see something we can use." She shouted down to her companions as she came back down the tree.

"There is a natural rock bridge connecting both sides of the cliff. It's about one candlemark north of here. I think it's big enough for us to get accross. It's worth a try, anyway." Xena said.

"Xe, could you try not climbing any more trees. I worry!" Gabrielle held her hand as they walked on. Xena just kissed her on the forehead and smiled that half smile.

"Come on Re, let's get going. I can't wait to see that temple. It's even older the the one we saw at the village." Les was more excited about checking out the temple than thinking about getting accross the bridge safely.

Irene just looked at her and shrugged. 'Ever the archeologist! ' "Okay! Let's get movin'."

They had been walking for awhile when all of a sudden there was a small earth tremor. Everyone just stood still for the few seconds it lasted. "Wow! Did ya feel that?!! Is that what an earthquake feels like?? I've never felt anything like that before!!" The panic rising in Irene's voice.

"I dunno!!! Me neither... " Leslie answered anxiously.

Xena heard the panic in both her descendants voices and tried to calm them down. "It's Okay! Trust me. That was not an earthquake just a small rumble. That happens every now and then. You are not in any danger from that. Come on let's keep going. We should be at the bridge very soon."

Both Irene and Leslie nodded and continued on their way. Looking at each other nervously. But they trusted that Xena knew what she was doing; and they would follow her anyway, even if she didn't.

"Xe", Gabrielle whispered to her warrior, "Is it really Okay?"

"Brie, I'm really not sure. But, I had to say something to calm them down. I won't let anything happen to any of us."

Finally they came to the rock bridge. It wasn't nearly as wide as Xena had figured. As a matter of fact it was quite narrow. Maybe a foot and a half wide, but it looked sturdy enough and passible. They would have to traverse it very carefully. As they started toward the bridge it started to rain.

"Rain! Of all times for it to rain. Son of a Bacchae! First the earth moves and then it rains... The damn bridge will be slippery!" said Gabrielle.

Before Xena can respond, Leslie says: "It's Okay! Really! The soles of our boots will help Irene and me not to slip. You and Xena should stay here and we'll go over to the temple and pick up the sand. You'd be slipping all over the place."

Xena saw the logic in what Leslie said and agreed. Gabrielle was not as sure... "How can you be sure you wont fall? You might need us to...."

"Look... Gabrielle! if we need help who better than you and Xena to come to the rescue. We'll give you two a walky-talky to keep in touch with us. We'll keep you informed all the way. You know this is the right decision."

Irene chimed in, "I promise, no dilly-dallying around the temple. We'll just get in... get the sand and back here as soon as possible. I'm not to thrilled walking on that narrow bridge, but Les is right it's the best plan. We can do this. This time you need to trust us."

Alright then... Take your time. Don't rush it and be careful. I'll try and walk you through. Good Luck!" Xena said.

Gabrielle hugged them both. "Gods be with you."

As Irene and Leslie started to cross the bridge it started to rain even harder than it already was. All the women could do was keep going. They were soaked thru but things were going along fine. 'One step at a time ' was all Irene could think. 'One step at a time. ' "No time to get klutzy now Irene" she murmured to herself.

Leslie turned her body a little to see if Irene was okay. "That's it love! You're doin' fine! We're halfway there. Come on... Hey Re! I like the way your shirt is clinging... "

"Not now Les! Wait till you reach the other side... " Came Xena's voice over the walky-talky. "You both look fine from here."

The two friends were coming closer to the end of the rock bridge. They couldn't wait to get to the other side so that they could sit down and rest. It wasn't that the distance was long, it was the tension of falling to your death that was taking it's toll on them mentally and physically. Finally! The other side. They made it! Leslie and Irene signaled to Xena and Gabrielle that they were alright. All they could do for the moment was just sit there in the rain and try to catch their breath. They were exhausted, but they had to keep going.

They made there way to the temple, talking to Xena on the walky-talky as they went. "Is there anything we should know? Booby traps or some such nonsense? Did Artemis tell you where the Sands of Time are, or do we have to solve a puzzle? The Gods don't make it easy; do they Xena?" Leslie complained.

"No. No. Yes. No. ." answered Xena. Talking into this thing, as she called the walky-talky, seemed to make her nervous.

"My! Aren't you the talkative one! Ha! Ha! Ha!" Where are the Sands?"

"The Sands are on the altar in a small sealed urn." answered Xena.

"Okay... I see it."

Both women walked up to the altar. Then circled it to make sure there were no surprises. When they were satisfied that it was reasonably safe, Irene picked up the urn. She shook it to make sure the sand was in there. Yep! It was there. She put the urn in her backpack and proceed to join Leslie. "Okay Les... Let's blow this joint." Les just looked at Irene and giggled. The women left the temple and started down the path to the bridge. It was still pouring rain... When they got to the bridge both women looked at each other and just shook their heads from side to side and sighed deeply. It looked like the Gods weren't going to make this easy...

"Okay Irene... You go first and I'll be right behind ya. We'll be fine." But Leslie wasn't as confident as she sounded. Truth be known, she was scared to death. It was raining harder than when they traversed the bridge the first time.

"Right!! We will be fine! Sure... Uhh! Do you think we should wait till the rain lets up?"

"Re... It will be getting dark soon. Then we won't be able to get accross until tomorrow, and I don't want to spend the night here."

"Okay then, let's do it!!! It can't get any worse... " Irene was frightened, but she knew Leslie was right. Some how she was more frightened now about crossing the bridge than the first time.

Both women started their journey accross. Irene in front and Leslie bringing up the rear. The going was much more difficult this time. The winds were stronger and it was more slippery. What else could go wrong... All of a sudden the two companions felt the bridge shudder... It was another tremor... Irene lost her balance and fell off the bridge before Leslie could grab her. Irene had grabbed onto a jagged piece of rock that was jutting out from the bridge and was hanging on precariously. Irene was screaming and holding on for dear life. Her feet dangling in the air. Leslie too was having her problems, although she was in a much better position than Irene. She had fallen forward and had grabbed on to either side of the narrow bridge. All she could think of was to get to Irene...

"Irene!!! Hold on!! I'm coming... Don't let go!" She finally regained her balance.

Don't let me fall!
Help me Les, help me! I can't hold on much longer. Hurryyy!!!" She was screaming.

Leslie grabbed her hand and the backpack, and pulled her up and onto the bridge. Irene just held Leslie very tightly and sobbed. Then Leslie noticed that Irene's hand was badly cut from the jagged rock she had grabbed when she had fallen.

"Re... You're hand is bleeding... Hon... come on we have to get to the other side so I can take care of that. Are you hurt anywhere else." Irene nodded her head that she was fine otherwise. She checked her out anyway, and decided that everything was Okay. Let's go Re..."
"I'm okay!! Just terrified is all... Just one thing Les... No more bridges....."

Smiling, Leslie replied: "No more bridges. I promise!"

They made their way back accross to where Xena and Gabrielle were anxiously waiting. Xena was very relieved that they had gotten back in one piece. Well, almost one piece... It was then both she and Gabrielle noticed that Irene was bleeding heavily from the deep laceration on her hand and wrist. Leslie was desperately trying to stop the bleeding. She was not being very successful. She knew Re needed stitches, but where was she going to get them out here, she wondered. Leslie helped Irene to the shelter that Gabrielle had prepared, and then set about rummaging thru her backpack looking for the first aid kit.

Irene sat down and felt very weak all of a sudden. "Gabrielle... I... I... think I'm going to be sick! I can't stand the sight of blood... Especially Miiiiinnnne!! Irene just slumps over in a faint. She knew she was about to faint because the blackness just seemed to envelop her.

Lesley was right next to her and grabbed her before she can hurt any other part of her body. "Re! Re! Oh God! Don't you die on me!" She yells as she holds her in her arms, crying and rocking back and forth.

"Les. It's going to be Okay. I can stitch up her hand. That will stop the bleeding. She's not going to die. It's good she passed out. This way she won't feel it when we sew her up. Gabrielle take some herbs out of the pouch and make a tea to help fight an infection. Let's clean out the wound... What's that you have there?"

"It's a first aid kit. It has some antiseptic and antibiotic cream in it, bandages, Bandaids... When she looked up and saw the puzzled look on Xena's face, she realized Xena didn't know what she was talking about. "Ummm, sort of like what you carry in you medicine pouch. This stuff, pointing to the anticeptic, is to clean the wound and this tube is to put on the wound to stop infection. Doesn't always work though. I hope your stuff works better than mine. Ya want to use it along with your herbs?"

"Sure. Let's get to it then." After Xena had finished, and Irene was all bandaged... She started to come around.

First face she saw was Gabrielle's... "I passed out huh?" She looked down and saw that her hand and wrist was bandaged. "Stitches?" "The answer is yes to both your questions You gave us quite a scare. How are you feeling?"

"My hand and wrist hurt some, but it's not so bad. I'm kinda embarrassed that I keeled over like that though. Where's Les?"

From behind her she heard her friends voice. "I'm right here Re." Les came over and hugged her. "I'm so sorry! It's all my fault. If only I hadn't pushed to get across; you wouldn't have fallen and hurt yourself."

"Now you just stop all that bullshit! It was not your fault! Did you cause the earth to move?!"

"Well no! Of course not. But... "

"But nothing. It... was... not... your... fault. Ya got that? You saved my life!"

"I love you, Re. Don't ever scare me like that again..."

"Trust me! Never again! I love ya too."

Xena was standing next to Gabrielle with her arm around her shoulder just taking this all in. "You know Brie... It's kind of scary how much they remind me of us." Gabrielle just shook her head in agreement.

Chapter Fifteen

The journey back on the ship was uneventful, thank the Gods, and everyone was anxious to get back to the village. As they were disembarking the ship Xena thanked Calvos for his part in this mission. So off the group of Amazons went. Ever protective of their Queen. Leslie and Irene noticed that Gabrielle had a more commanding demeanor when she was around the Amazons.

It took three days to reach the village. It was evening, and by this time everyone was exhausted. Ephiny, of course, was there to greet the weary travelers...

"Gabrielle. Xena. Was the journey successful? Did you get the Sands of time?"

"No. We didn't get them... They did." Gabrielle said proudly, as she pointed to Leslie and Irene.

"Well! What do you know!" Ephiny was impressed with the two newcomers.

Gabrielle had told Irene and Lesley that they would all meet in the morning, and then go to the temple together. Xena had told Gabrielle what Artemis had requested of them. She thought that it was a fine idea, and couldn't wait to see the look on Leslie and Irene's faces when they heard the good news. Tomorrow would be an interesting day. But right now all she wanted to do was sleep. It had been an exhausting trip.

Irene and Leslie took their leave and went to their hut. Neither woman had slept really well since they went to Theliki. They had so much going on in their minds that it was practically impossible to sleep thru the night without a nighmare or two. They were very quiet this evening... Each with her own thoughts... And so very tired.

"Les... I'm exhausted! I think I'll turn in if you don't mind. I just can't seem to carry on a conversation. My mind feels like jello."

"Hon, I know the feeling. Me too! All I want to do is go to bed. I can't believe all the things that have happened to us this past month! And the Island... You falling like that... I don't even want to think about it. I hope Artemis can get us home, although I'd be happy anywhere you are. If we don't make it home.... Do you think you could be happy here with me?"

"I won't lie to you Les... I have to do everything in my power to try and get home. But if we can't; there's no one in the world I'd rather be with than you. Whether it's in this time or our own. I love you. Now lets go to sleep. I have a feeling we'll need to be wide awake tomorrow. Goodnight my love."

Leslie got into bed beside Irene and snuggled against her melding their bodies as if they were one. "'Night Re. See ya ing the morning."

They waited, and waited in the Temple for Artemis to appear. 'Punctuality was abviously, not a God thing. ' Irene was torn... She had come to love these people. Her family, as she liked to call them. But the thought of never seeing her children again was breaking her heart. She missed them terribly. 'I am happy here. I've learned so much about myself this past month... I'm more capable than I could ever have imagined. Les is here with me. She loves me! I wonder, will she still feel that way when we return to our time?? Will I?? ' she mused as she looked over to where her friend was.

Leslie was not big in the patience department... she was pacing back and forth. Getting more angry by the minute. "Damn, damn, damn!" Talking to no one in particular... "First we are kidnapped by a God and sent back in time... Almost killed by highwaymen... Killed a man... Nearly fell off that damn excuse for a bridge... " She looks over to Irene and almost inaudibly says "Worst of all I could have lost you." Her eyes were filling up with tears. 'Oh shit! I will not cry! '

Artemis appears again in another blinding flash of light. There the Goddess stood at the top of the steps next to her altar. She liked to impress her subjects.

Artemis spoke to Irene and Leslie... You have done well, my daughters. You have done your kinswomen well. They, and I are proud of you. You deserve an explaination as to why you two are here. Nothing happens by chance. Your fates were determined even before you were born. It was not chance that you were in that cave on that particular day in time. It was not chance that you chose that field of work... It was your destiny. You are truly descentants of Xena & Gabrielle. I'm sure you both feel the connection with them.

"I had two visions in regard to My Chosen. I saw her killed by the hands of Ares henchmen. I could see that Xena could do nothing to save her. The other vision was of her two descendants in the future who would come back in time to save her. Both of you had to be brought here without Ares knowing I had interfered... So... I made the Stone of Ages that only the two of you could use to come back here to this time. It disappeared because you arrived before it was ever made... Sounds confusing I know, but never-the-less that is what happened. You were there for Gabrielle and I might add for you too Xena, because if Gabrielle had died, then you would have returned to your warlord ways and then Ares would have won."

Speaking to Leslie and Irene, Artemis said: "I will make a crystal out of the Sands of Time so that you may return to your time... If you wish. I have also spoken to Xena and Gabrielle regarding the crystal and they have agreed to my request. Leslie, Irene bring the Sands and pour them into the basin on my altar and then stand beside it. " Leslie and Irene did as they were told. Then Artemis turned to Xena and Gabrielle and told them to stand on the other side of the altar as well. Ephiny and Solari were standing at the bottom of the steps that lead to the altar.

Artemis passed her hands over the sands and spoke in a language no one was familiar with. Bright light eminated from her hands over the sands and there in an instant was the most incredible white crystal They had ever seen. Irene started to speak, but Artemis put her hand up to silence her.

"Xena, take your daggar and cut your finger as well as Gabrielle's, Irene's and Leslie's. Each of you must let a droplet of blood fall onto the crystal. Do it now!" Xena obeyed. As the drops of blood fell on the stone, Artemis again waved her hands over the crystal and again a blinding light appeared. When the light had subbsided... Irene and Leslie couldn't believe their eyes... The Crystal had turned a deep ruby red.

"There is something you should know about this crystal. All four of you have given your essence to this Stone. With this you can return to your own time. However, this stone is different than the last one; you will be able to return here whenever you want to. When you touch the stone you will be transported forward to your time, but the stone will remain here to be put on the altar for your return.

"You mean we can come and go as we please?" It wasn't really a question, it was more a statement said out loud so that It would sink-in. "
Yesss! We're going Home!!!!
" Leslie grabbed Irene in a big bear hug, them ran to hug Gabrielle and Xena. Laughing and crying at the same time. As a matter of fact everyone was crying with joy. Both women were happy at the prospect of returning home. And yet... They knew they would miss their new found family and friends. They would miss this time of Gods and Goddesses; of the excitement and uncertainty that this life held.

"Gabrielle, Xena you have both been wonderful to us, but it's time for us to go home. We have a lot of things to sort out, and I think it best... if we do that at home. I know we will see you again. Please say goodbye to Cyrene for us." Irene said.

"Everything she said and more. Thank you so very much." Leslie said.

"Thank you Artemis for keeping your word to help us get home. I'll never disbelieve in the Gods again! But now it's time for us to leave. Come on Re... Let's do it!" They waved at their family and friends and then touched the Stone. Then in an instant they were gone...

Artemis then commanded her subjects to do her bidding... "Gabrielle, you and Xena will erect an altar in one of the small natural rooms in the cave outside of Amphipolis. There you will place this Stone of Ages on the Altar. Ephiny... you and Celin, will supervise the building of my temple. Take as many Amazons as you need to complete this task as I have commanded of you. You will build the Temple so that no one knows that a cave entrance exists there." Then she was gone in another brilliant flash of light.

Gabrielle just smiled and shook her head, "Well! She certainly likes to appear and disappear in a most dramatic way. Doesn't she? Come on Xe! Let's get our things and our friends and head back to Amphipolis. We have to build that Temple.

"Right behind ya! You know Brie, I am going to miss those two. We may never see them again."

Gabrielle smiled and said, "Oh! I don't think you have to worry about that. I have a feeling they'll be back."


Again the hair on their arms stood straight up, and the tingling sensation occurred through their bodies... And there they were... Back by the altar holding on to the talisman. They just stood there, not really sure any of this had happened...

"Did all this really happen or were we hallucinating?!"

Leslie looked over to Irene and put her hand to her lips to try to stiffle a giggle. "I believe... And that's in my professional opinion (she couldn't help but giggle) that; noting by your attire, we were most deffinately there. Ha Ha Ha Ha!"

Irene had a questioning look on her face. "Wha!!! Oh... My... God... " When she looked down she saw that she was wearing one of the Amazon outfits that she had admired when they first entered the village. "How am I ever conna explain this??!!!" she groaned.

"Re! Haven't I told you I have many skills? It'll be a cinch to explain..."

"Oh yeah! Miss I have many skills. How?"

"Simple... You put your clothes in the backpack when you put on this outfit. Don't ya remember? Just change back to your old clothes and put this stuff in the pack. We can say we found the warstaff and sword behind the altar and that's how you cut your hand and wrist." Les just stood there with an I told you so smile on her face.

Leslie could hardly contain the laughter that was welling up in her throat. She knew Irene was annoyed at her being so smug, but she just couldn't resist teasing her.

'Shit! I hate it when she's right! ' she thought. "Why, thank you Leslie. Right again! My, My!"

After Irene had changes into her clothes, the two women were getting ready to put the talisman into the pack, when in comes Bob with a frown on his face.

"Les! All the damn pictures were ruined. Not one came out... They were all cloudy... I don't understand what could have happened. I'm sorry boss! I screwed up! Hey!!! Irene... What the hell happened to your hand? How'd ya get so dirty...? Whoa!!!! Look at this... " he said, as he saw the sword and scabbard and the warstaff leaning on the altar. He went right over to the weapons to inspect them. It amazed the women that he could say all this in one breath.

After Les had explained to Bob the story that she and Irene had concocted, they took everything out of the cave and went directly to the work tent. There Bob looked over every piece they had brought out of the cave. "Wow! When I saw this talisman in the cave, I knew it was incredibly beautiful, but looking at it just blows me away. Ya Know?!"

"Oh yeah! We know! We were "blown away" too. Answered Leslie. With Irene nodding in agreement.

Leslie was looking around the work tent when she noticed the clay cylinder. "Re! Look! The clay cyliner... I forgot all about it. We never opened the damn thing. Come on let's open it and see what's inside..."

"Wait Les... Not now. Let's wait till later. I'm tired and dirty and I'd like to go to our tent and clean up first. We have to discuss our "findings".

"Okay Re... Sounds like a good idea. I could use a shower also. Even if it is cold water. Hey, Bob! Got that shower thingy hooked up?"

"You bet! I'll have the men set it up for you gals. See ya later."

After their showers the women were sitting in their tent. Each going over in her mind the events that had come to pass. Although they had been gone for one month, only a few hours had passed. They both had a lot to say to one another, but just couldn't find the words to start the conversation.

Leslie noticed the sad look on Irene's face and went to her side. "Hon, what's the matter. Why are you sad? I thought you'd be over-joyed to get back home..."

"Look Les! I need to know if you still love me... here and now, in our time. I know what you said back there, but we're home and it's different now. I know I still love you. Les... If you don't feel that way about me anymore... it's okay... Nooo! It's not okay! What I'm trying...."

"Hold it right there!! Don't say anymore!!
. Ya got that! I want to spend the rest of my life with you." She couldn't say anymore because Irene was kissing her passionately. When they finished that kiss, they were both breathless and wanted more than just kissing.

Irene could feel her body reacting to the passion she was feeling. "Les, babe... Now would be a good time to show me those many skills of yours... I don't think I can wait any longer. I want you now!"

Leslie was more than happy to oblige. They made love with a passion neither of them had ever known before, and when it was over they lay in each others arms just savoring the smell and feel of each other. They fell asleep... holding each other.

Next morning Irene woke up to the smell of coffee. When she opened her eyes she saw Leslie sitting on her cot, smiling at her. "Hey sleepyhead. I've brought you some coffee. Come on! Time to get up... We've gotta translate that scroll."

"Ohhh! Coffee! Thanks Les. How'd you know?" she laughed.

Coffee was finished and Irene was ready to face the world. Well anyway the scroll.

"Okay! Ready! Let's break the seal... Here it comes. Right! Be careful when you take it out of the cylinder Les. Here, put it on the table and we'll roll it out." As Irene was perusing the scroll, tears started rolling down her cheek... "Oh Les! It's a message from Xena and Gabrielle..." She didn't seem to have to decipher the document at all. She could just read it as if it were written in english. Probably a residual effect from traveling back in time.

Re! What's worng? What does it say, hon?

I't... It's addressed to us!! It's a letter from our ancestors to us...

Dear Irene and Leslie,

You will, I trust, read this when you return to your time. We decided to put this scroll in a clay cylinder and leave it in the temple itself, rather than in the cave. We figured you would find it first.

I know you go home to your future... a little unsure of your feelings for each other. It is only natural that you feel this way. You have been through so much. There is never an easy way to sort out very complex feelings. You need to take it slow and everything will fall into place. It is very obvious that you love each other. Don't be afraid! Live your life for the Greater Good and you can't go wrong.

You have given Xena and I a great gift... You have shown us how wonderful our life together will be. You, by your just being, have shown us part of our future. We will have children and grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren and so on... You have enriched our lives. We love you both.

Till we meet again... May the Gods watch over you..

Gabrielle and Xena

Oh yes! Cyrene sends her love, and says she expects to see you again soon... Maybe winter solstace perhaps.

After Irene read the scroll out loud to Leslie both women just sat there and looked at each other... It was at that moment that they both knew they would most definately return someday. Of this, there was no doubt.


The Athenaeum's Scroll Archive