BEHIND COLD EYES
By: Warrior Rep
The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Velasca, et al. belong to MCA Universal. They are used here without intent to profit or infringe on copyrighted material. The story is copyrighted to me. No aspect of this story may be used elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the author. This story may not be altered in any way and this copyright information must appear in this work at all times.
Thanks to: my friend the editor, who is too shy to let me mention her by name. So I won't, but your help and insights have always been appreciated, my dear.
Warning: This story contains scenes of sex between two adults of the same gender. If this offends you, or you are under 18 years of age, stop reading now. The author accepts no responsibility for noncompliance of this warning.
Note: This story continues a tale I began with "The Wrath of the Gods," which in and of itself was a continuation of the Xena: Warrior Princess episode, "A Necessary Evil."
For the third night in a row, Xena awoke in the early morning hours before dawn to an empty bedroll. Deciding that the now common abandonment must come to an end, Xena went in search of her lover. Knowing that the issue wasn't with her, the warrior had tried yesterday to get the bard to tell her what was bothering her, but Gabrielle uncharacteristically refused to acknowledge Xena's concern, and changed the subject of conversation. Xena wanted to give the amazon time to sort her feelings, but the tension in Gabrielle was only building, not diminishing. By the light of the half full moon, the warrior princess saw the smaller woman huddled with her back to a tree, hugging her legs into her chest, and her forehead resting on her knees. Silently, the dark haired warrior approached her lover.
Slowly Gabrielle lifted her head and looked at Xena. The older woman could not mistake the sadness she saw in the pain-filled eyes.
"Are you ready to tell me what's wrong?" Xena sat down next to the bard, and wrapped her right arm across the smaller woman's shoulders, drawing her into her body for a comforting embrace.
Gabrielle rested her chin on her knees and looked off into the distance. Taking a deep breath, she finally answered her lover. "Xena, I can't get Velasca out of my mind. She's still out there, somewhere, and who knows what she is up to? She hasn't attacked any Amazon villages yet, but I can't believe that their luck is going to hold out forever."
"Gabrielle, it's not your job to protect every Amazon in every village. You have to let them live their own lives, the lives the Fates have in store for them."
Gabrielle grabbed Xena's hand and held it in her grasp, "But I'm their Queen! I'm expected to take charge, make suggestions, offer battle plans...something! Instead, I feel so helpless, so useless. I can't sleep, so every night I pray to Artemis. And every morning begins the same. No suggestions. No battle plans. No answers from Artemis."
Shifting slightly so she could manoeuvre Gabrielle into a more comfortable position, Xena had the bard stretch out along side her, resting her head in the warrior's lap. Lightly placing her fingers on Gabrielle's temples, Xena started gently massaging the sensitive skin, trying to relax the tightness she felt there. "But Gabrielle, you've only been queen for a very short time. Do you think you are supposed to have all the answers? Are you so sure Melosa had everything worked out when she was queen? You can't play these games with yourself. Things will work out, you'll see."
As Xena started rubbing her head from the temples up and back to her neck, Gabrielle thought about what Xena was telling her. To a certain point, she agreed with the Warrior Princess, but still, she felt she was letting the Amazons down by doing next to nothing. The head massage was relaxing her, and she sighed a long breath in contentment. Xena next worked on her forehead, gently stretching the skin there out and away, and again to the back of Gabrielle's neck, as the bard's eyes closed in fatigue. Taking that as her cue, Xena got up and carried Gabrielle to their bedrolls, laying her on her stomach, ready to continue the massage.
"Xena?" Gabrielle asked.
"Sure, Gabrielle, we can head over to the Amazons to check on things. At the very least, we can tell them where we last saw Velasca, and let them know what she was up to."
Xena now dedicated herself to eliminating the tension that was stored in her lover's shoulders. As she worked the trapezius muscles, she again heard her woman sigh in relaxation. The warrior slowly felt the knots loosen as Gabrielle's breathing became deeper. Bending down, Xena kissed the bard on the back of her neck. "Sleep well tonight, my Amazon Queen. I love you."
Xena could see a small smile creep onto Gabrielle's lips as she continued to work the sore muscles. "I love you too."
The bard was asleep by the time that Xena finished the massage. Knowing which pressure points to stimulate, and which to avoid, helped the warrior get her lover into the first deep sleep that she had had in many nights. Throwing a light blanket over the smaller woman, Xena snuggled down next to her, cradling her lightly, as she too drifted off before the sun could rise.
The weather was always beautiful in the Elysian Fields, and Melosa quickly adapted to her new realm, spending most of her time with her Amazon sisters that had passed from the world of mortals before her. Although she was no longer queen, her existence changed little from when she was alive; she sparred daily with the other Amazons, and was well known as unbeatable at chobos. The warrior women even had their own camp, and although they did not snub the other residents of Elysium, it was equally well known that the women preferred the company of each other. It had always been that way in life, and few of the warriors saw any reason to change now.
Although the surroundings were idyllic, Melosa was still troubled. She had been hearing the concerned and often times frightened voices of her former Amazon tribe, and last night had even caught a fleeting thought from Gabrielle, the young Amazon Queen. The Nation was in an uproar about Velasca. The thoughts that came through the clearest were from Ephiny; clearly, as acting Amazon Queen, she was most worried about how to stop the God of Chaos.
Shaking her head in dismay, Melosa walked into the hut she shared with her lover, Jace. Jace was a short woman with light brown eyes and dark long hair; she and Melosa had been together for many years, up until the very end of the Amazon-Centaur wars. So many of the Amazons had been lost during those skirmishes, but when Melosa lost Jace, it had been doubly hard since her lover had also been her second in command. She had never really gotten over the death of the warrior; in fact, she had 'adopted' Velasca shortly after the end of the wars in order to fill the hole in her heart that still longed for Jace. Although Velasca had been someone she could lavish her love and affection on, no one could replace the woman who held her heart.
Jace looked up from sharpening her sword when her lover entered their quarters. One look at the worried face of Melosa convinced Jace that something important had happened that concerned all the Amazons. Putting down her whetstone, she got up from the table she was seated at, and pulled the former Amazon Queen into an embrace. Still holding onto her hand, Jace pushed Melosa into one of the chairs at the table, taking the one next to her, and bringing it closer to her lover. "What's wrong?"
"You always could read me that easily. How do you do that?" Melosa asked.
"Years of practice, and don't change the subject. I want to hear it."
Melosa hesitated slightly before beginning. "You remember I told you about Velasca, my daughter. I adopted her not long after...well, you know...after you had made the Fields your home. She had always been an unpredictable child, excitable and not even tempered. When I brought her into my home, I viewed her as a challenge, someone to keep my days and nights busy as I got over my grieving for you. And Velasca needed a steady hand to guide her, after her own mother died in that same battle you did. I tried...but Velasca never did change too much from her true disposition."
Jace squeezed her lover's hand. "You did the best you could. You can't blame yourself for things that Velasca has done."
"It's not what she has done but what she could do to our sisters. This insane vendetta she has...sometimes I can almost convince myself that I can her unstable thoughts as she goes about plotting her revenge." Pulling her hand out of her lover's grasp, Melosa stood up and started pacing the room. "I feel so frustrated by not being able to do anything about it!"
Jace stood up too, and walking over to Melosa, grabbed her by the shoulders to stop the pacing. "My Queen. This is something for the mortals to handle. Do you so doubt our sisters that you are already mourning their passing? Can you not dream of their succeeding against Velasca?"
Melosa looked Jace in the eye. Her lover had given her an idea.
Melosa struggled her way up the cliff wall to Hades' palace, cursing all the while at the vain god's paranoia that there was no easy way to reach the castle. Jace had wanted to come with her, but Melosa thought that she would have a better chance of avoiding detection from the harpies if she went alone. So far, she had managed to avoid the flying demons; either they were out threatening the denizens of Tartarus, or they were so sure she was not a challenge to them, that they were completely ignoring her. The Amazon Queen was thankful of their absence; already she had slipped once on the steep incline, falling about fifty feet before she was able to grab onto a root from a dead tree to stop her unexpected descent. Wiping the sweat from her brow, she ignored the stinging of her raw hands as she again attacked the slope.
The dark haired woman started second guessing herself, now wishing she had Jace by her side. At the very least, one of them could look out for the harpies, while the other plotted a better route to the top. Breathing heavily, she finally reached the wide patio of Hades' front door. Knowing that being out in the open would be the easiest way to attack her, Melosa again scanned the skies for the demons. Against Jace's advice, she had brought no weapons with her, arguing with her lover that the best way to ask for a fickle god's help was to present an aura of sincerity and innocence. She had also wanted to present her best appearance, but the treacherous incline had taken care of that; her leathers were slightly ripped from the fall, her legs were caked with grime, and she had an awful taste of dirt in her mouth. The Amazon had no way of changing how she looked right now; taking a deep breath, she walked up to huge wooden door, and taking the gold knocker in her hand, slammed it several times against the metal plate beneath it. Several loud booming sounds could be heard echoing off the walls of what must be an immense hallway behind it.
Melosa suddenly had a sickening thought; what if Hades was out in the mortal world, wearing his helmet of invisibility? She would have no way of finding him if he didn't want to be found, and most gods were too caught up in their own lives to really care too much about what was going on in other realms. Sighing deeply, she was just about to give up waiting when the door swung open slowly. Standing to the side of the wide portal was a tall muscular man, dressed in the red and black colors of Hades. He stared at Melosa startled; very few of the underworld residents ever took it upon themselves to visit his master of their own free will. Finally overcoming his surprise, he asked the woman, "Who is it that visits the God of the Underworld?"
Taking her cue from this man, Melosa replied in precise wording, "I am Melosa, former Queen of the Amazons, here to ask the mighty god Hades for his intercession on a personal, and somewhat political, matter." Melosa hoped that sounded formal enough to get her past the doorman and into the palace.
The doorman swung the huge door wider. "Enter, and never forget that you are in the presence of a god."
Taking a deep breath, Melosa walked past the man into the castle. She was right about the hallway, it was huge, cavernous, and clammily cold after the heat of the outdoors. A thin film of sweat popped up on her skin, making the woman all the more uncomfortable. Pausing as the man shut the door, she then followed him into a huge room off the right side of the hallway. It too was mostly empty of furnishings, except for one large throne that faced out towards a large group of windows. The dark man left her there, but never offered her a seat, guessing she would be smart enough not to sit in the god's throne. Clasping her hands behind her, Melosa wandered over to the bank of windows, which offered an unobstructed view of Tartarus. The red glow of the twilight world was offset by bright flashes of flame that shot from the molten ground at irregular intervals. Since the palace was so high above the heated ground, she could not see any of the unfortunates who were left there to suffer for eternity. Shuddering slightly, she was glad none of her Amazon sisters had that fate, and wondered if any of the Centaurs were unlucky enough to be placed there at death. Turning away from the dismal sight, she was caught off guard by Hades, who was seated at his throne, taking off his helmet. The god's red and black leathers creaked as he removed his gloves in order to run his hands through his thick, wavy blond hair. Setting his helmet aside, he looked at Melosa passively.
"Lord Hades," Melosa began.
"Yes, yes, I've heard all about it. I watched you struggle up that slope. Personal and political. I'll tell you right now, I don't get involved in personal matters. And if you ask anyone in Tartarus, they are all here because of 'politics'." Tapping his foot, Hades rested his chin on his fist, daring Melosa to continue.
Undaunted, Melosa pursued her task. "Then if I may ask a question, Hades. It's been said that you helped Xena when she was trapped in Callisto's body. And that Xena had become trapped due to her feelings of guilt of letting Callisto die. That Callisto reached her in her dreams."
Hades nodded slowly in agreement, "That is all true."
Taking another deep breath, Melosa asked the next question. "Would dreams of guilt also affect a god?"
Hades, never a patient god, was starting to lose interest with Melosa. "What are you getting at, Amazon? That I should feel guilty for having you as a member of my realm?"
Melosa sensed that her time with the god was growing short. "You misunderstand me, Hades. I am speaking about Velasca, the God of Chaos."
The dark god snorted a short laugh. "Your daughter, Melosa? I told you, I don't get into personal disputes."
"I won't disagree with you that it is somewhat personal, if you agree that her behavior and actions cast a very bad light on all the gods. That Velasca is making this political by undoing all the good that you and the other gods do."
Crossing his arms across his chest, Hades looked at Melosa with heavy lidded eyes. Shifting slightly in his chair, Hades answered her, "Agreed. You are very clever, my dear. But I don't feel it is up to me to stop her.
I didn't create her."
"Then let me stop her, Hades. At least let me try."
Shaking his head, and getting up from the throne, Hades walked over to the bank of windows. "I let Xena have one day to correct the wrongs that Callisto did to her. It was a special dispensation. I am not willing to do it again."
"Then please answer me the question I asked before. Can dreams of guilt affect a god?"
Hades took his time in answering. "I suppose it is possible, since Velasca was not born a god, and if she has reason to feel guilty of something. But from what I've heard, even though she was not the best of daughters, or of Amazons, Velasca did beat you in a fair fight."
"I'm sorry Hades, but you are wrong. Velasca had been slowly poisoning me for weeks prior to the match, to dull my reflexes. There was nothing 'fair' about that fight."
"Look at those clouds coming in." Gabrielle kicked a small rock out of her way as she walked alongside of Xena and the war horse.
Xena glanced up from her perch on Argo at the angry storm clouds that were swiftly moving across the sky towards the south. "We're going to get caught in it for sure, and there's no where to take cover out here in the meadows." A deep roll of thunder rippled through the air. "Lyceus and I used to love playing in the rain. Of course, mother used to get upset with our dirty clothes after we had been pushing each other in the mud for hours," Xena smiled at the memory.
"Huh! Now that's something I'd like to see, you and Lyceus caked with goo! Lila was always afraid of the thunder and lightning. She would beg me to tell her stories to keep her mind off it. I liked the lightning...it made ordinary things look so different, almost alive. But I would be stuck inside, telling story after story to Lila."
Xena slowed Argo's pace down. "So you started story telling at an early age?"
Gabrielle smiled at her lover, "I have many skills."
Xena smiled back at the younger woman. "That you do," she said as a bolt of lightning lit up the sky, crackling the air with it's energy. "Here comes the rain!" Xena grinned as she stopped Argo, and jumped from the saddle. Grabbing the bard in a hug, she twirled the woman around. "Now you have your chance to enjoy a storm!" Tilting her face up to the sky, Xena felt the first raindrops splash against her skin as she started removing her vambraces and loosening her armor.
"What are you doing, Xena?"
"Well, I'm going to enjoy the storm too. After I get out of my leathers, I'm going for a run. Do you want to join me?"
Gabrielle considered the idea as the rain continued to beat down. Smiling at the taller woman, the bard started to untie her green top as Xena sat down to remove her boots. As the second boot came off, Xena stood up, helping her lover out of her clothes. Just as Gabrielle was finally free of her clothing, Xena took off running. "Catch me if you can," she laughed over her shoulder. The thunder punctuated the dare with a loud rumble.
"Oh, you don't play fair!" Gabrielle laughed as she chased after the dark haired woman. Running as fast as she could, the bard could not catch up with Xena, who had a much longer stride than the smaller woman. Lightning flared across the dark sky, illuminating the sight of a beautifully muscled warrior woman leading a chase around a meadow.
Xena slowed up a little to give her lover a chance to catch up. "C'mon, Gabrielle, here I am. Can you get me?" Thunder boomed in the distance as the rain dripped it's way down Xena's sleek body. She was panting lightly from the sprint, and finally came to a stop, waiting for Gabrielle to reach her.
Gabrielle raced up to her lover, grabbing her in a hug and planting a firm kiss on her luscious lips. "OK, Xena, I caught you now! What's my prize?" Gabrielle asked with a twinkle in her eye.
"This!" Xena laughed, as she broke the embrace, and did a forward flip over the bard, landing behind her in a large puddle, splashing the bard with muddy water. The thunder seemed to be accompanying Xena's laughter as she again raced away from the strawberry blonde.
"Oooohhh, Xena! I am going to get you for that!", the bard promised as she too took off running.
"I'm counting on it, Gabrielle!"
Xena ran over to where they had left Argo, with Gabrielle close behind. Just as the bard caught up to her, Xena moved to the other side of Argo, keeping the horse between them. Gabrielle circled the horse, but Xena kept pace with her, laughing all the time. "C'mon, Gabrielle...try harder!" Xena joked, as the bard tried crawling under the horse to get to her lover. Xena continued to circle away from her as lightning filled the sky.
Standing up, and catching Xena's taunting smile over the back of Argo, Gabrielle smiled right back as she unexpectedly slapped the mare on her rump, sending her on her way. The bard jumped forward and grabbed her lover in a bear hug. "Ha! I've got you now! And I'm not going to let you get away!"
"Who says I want to get away?" Still smiling, Xena leaned down for a kiss as her hands roamed over Gabrielle's slick back. Nudging the bard's lips apart, Xena explored her lover's mouth with her tongue, moving her right hand to the back of Gabrielle's head to deepen the kiss. Xena could feel her heart pounding, but it was less than from the running, and more from the sensations that Gabrielle's tongue could do to her. Sucking on the bard's tongue, Xena squeezed her left hand between their bodies, and grabbed Gabrielle's full right breast. The smaller woman groaned her pleasure in response as Xena lightly stroked the erect nipple. Pushing her tongue into Xena's mouth, Gabrielle let her hands roam over her lover's body, at last stopping on both breasts, kneading them with growing passion. Breathless, Xena broke the kiss. Putting both hands on the sides of Gabrielle's face, Xena looked her lover deep in the eyes. "I love you, Gabrielle," she whispered as she again leaned into a kiss. Rain fell from their bodies as they both sank to their knees in the mud.
Xena slowly leaned forward, gently lowering Gabrielle to the ground. The bard wiggled around a little, getting used to the odd feeling of lying in wet mud. The rain continued to beat down on them, as Gabrielle again found Xena's breasts with her hands, leaving muddy splotches over the warrior's body. Leaning down, Xena's wet hair framed her lover's head, as she started to kiss away the raindrops on Gabrielle's face. Reaching her mouth again, Xena teased the woman with light nips on her full bottom lip, as her hand explored the contours of a heavy breast. The feeling of the excited flesh against the palm of her hand made Xena groan in pleasure. Gabrielle's excitement drove her on, as she slipped her tongue into the younger woman's mouth. Gabrielle didn't resist, and twirled her tongue around her lover's before finally sucking on it forcefully. Panting with desire, the bard arched her back against Xena's hand, begging for more contact. Xena responded by playfully rolling the nipple between her fingers, then lightly pinching them. Gabrielle groaned at the teasing her body was taking.
A burning streak of lightning flew across the sky as Xena left Gabrielle's mouth to continue her assault on the bard's breasts. While still kneading the right breast, Xena tasted the other; the taste of the rain combined with the salty taste of Gabrielle's skin was an aphrodisiac that Xena could not get enough of as she circled the nipple with her tongue. Scrapping her teeth across the erect head, and then lightly biting it had the bard again arching into her mouth. Xena brought the full nipple into her mouth and sucked hard on the tender flesh, moaning with pleasure as thunder again rolled through the meadow.
Licking the rain off Gabrielle's body, Xena worked her way downward. Reaching her lover's navel, she plunged her tongue in, as Gabrielle gave a delicious shiver. Feeling the bard's hands on her shoulders, Xena needed no further urging. Spreading her woman's legs a little wider, the warrior nipped the soft skin of Gabrielle's thighs, marking her as her own. The bard responded by bucking her hips forward as she groaned, "Please, Xena! Now!"
Hearing her lover's need, Xena felt her own heart racing out of control. Moving the folds of the bard's sex back, the warrior plunged her tongue into Gabrielle. The wetness of the smaller woman's arousal excited Xena as she drove her tongue into the quivering flesh. Drawing back, Xena flicked her tongue across the bard's clit, bringing more spasms of delight from the woman. Gabrielle began thrashing about and bucking harder into Xena, as the taller woman began sucking on the nerve bundle. The rain had a rhythm of its own as Xena brought her fingers into Gabrielle, stroking the swollen flesh as the muscles there squeezed Xena's fingers in return. Xena increased the depth of her fingers, looking to explore all of Gabrielle as she took a long lick of the woman's center before returning to the sensitive nub. Blowing lightly across it, and then biting it forcefully brought Gabrielle over the edge as she thrust her hips helplessly forward one more time and screamed her release. Panting and quivering with pleasure, the bard groaned as Xena continued to lap up her juices, before she finally had to beg the woman to stop.
As Xena crawled up her lover's body, thunder and the cries of Gabrielle ringing in her ears, the warrior looked down on the woman she loved. "Playing in the rain with Lyceus was never this good," she panted.
Breathing heavily, Gabrielle rubbed her hands over the other woman's shoulders. "You know, Xena, I think you look too clean, " she gasped. "What would your mother say?" the bard laughed as she twisted her hips and threw Xena on her back into the mud.
"She would wonder how I got this dirty having this much fun," Xena said as she surrendered to her lover.
Velasca felt restless as she contemplated her revenge on the Amazons. She wanted to plot everything out clearly, so there would be no mistakes, or survivors, this time. She had only been able to take out her revenge on that simpleton bard who thought she was worthy to be Queen of the Amazons. Smiling at the thoughts of how she had tortured, then killed the irritating blonde, she wondered who the remaining Amazons would pick to be queen, knowing that the new queen would be her next target. Velasca hoped that Ephiny would be chosen; she laughed at the thought of how she would wipe that smiling smirk off the proud woman's face. And at least Ephiny was a worthier opponent, being able to use more than a simple staff to defend herself.
Velasca looked forward to a good fight, knowing that the powers that made her a god would also make her invincible in battle. She would make it a slow death for whomever the foolish Amazons had chosen to lead them.
But first, Velasca wanted to return to her temple and reclaim some of the weapons she had left there. This little detour would not really slow her down too much.
Jace was practicing with her staff when Melosa returned to camp. Catching sight of all the bruises, cuts, and dirt on her lover, Jace silently took the woman's hand and led her to the bathing hut. Once inside the relative darkness and privacy of the small building, she pulled Melosa into a fierce hug, followed by a lingering kiss of welcome. Sitting the dark haired woman down, Jace set a few buckets of luke-warm water by the fire that was left burning from the last bather. "So how did it go?" she asked, as she returned to Melosa, bent down, and started to remove the woman's boots. "You look exhausted."
Melosa smiled as her lover massaged her feet, and then the calves of her legs. Relaxing a little, she felt some of the tension leave her body. "Well, you know Hades. Just like any other god, he doesn't want to get involved. But he did say that dreams of guilt might work on Velasca, if we can reach her."
Jace rose and brought Melosa with her. Bending in for another kiss, she let her hands run from Melosa's shoulders, down her arms, bringing the straps of her leather outfit with her. Helping her out of her clothing, Jace gave her a winning smile. "Don't you look delicious. Now get into that tub, and I'll finish the massage."
As Melosa slowly lowered herself into the cool water of the oaken tub, Jace emptied the contents of the heated buckets into the bath. Shivering with delight, Melosa rubbed the dirt from her body as Jace removed her own armor and leathers, and joined the woman in the tub. "Here, let me do that," Jace suggested as she returned to massaging sore muscles. "Did Hades give you any idea of how to accomplish your plan?"
"Not really. All he would say is that it could be possible to reach her. I just hope that as we can hear when the living think of us, that I can get to Velasca to remember and to hear me." Melosa sighed. "Oh, that feels good," she whispered as Jace worked the knotted tension from her shoulders.
"I'm not done with you yet," Jace winked as her hands slipped beneath the surface of the water. "Today you get the full treatment, my Queen."
Velasca entered the empty desecrated temple, fully expecting to find things unchanged. While the room was still in ruins, the body of Gabrielle had been removed. There was no trace of the Amazon Queen, only the bonds that had once held her lifeless body were lying on the ground. "The Amazons probably searched for her so they could build her a funeral pyre," Velasca mused to herself.
Searching in the dim light for the discarded weapons, Velasca stumbled across a staff. Picking it up to test its weight, an unbidden thought crossed her mind. A familiar voice whispered to her, "Was it a fair fight?"
Velasca blinked her cold eyes in confusion. She had no idea where that thought came from, and she really wasn't concerned at this point on how she claimed her successes. Twirling the staff above her head, she heard the whispering movement of air as she performed a practice kata in anticipation of meeting her former sisters. The voice again broke her concentration. "Have you ever had a fair fight?"
Spinning around, Velasca expected to find Artemis in the dim room with her, but she was alone. "Artemis! Show yourself! I'm not afraid of you!" Discarding the staff, the red haired god looked for a better weapon to use in case the temple's former owner did choose to appear. Spying a sword that was more to her liking, she bent down to pick it up, and heard the voice for a third time.
"Daughter, have you no honor? Is this really what you wanted to become?"
"Melosa," Velasca gritted between clenched teeth, finally recognizing the familiar voice. Sheathing the sword, the god turned and left the cool darkness of the temple, determined to keep her mind closed to her former 'mother'.
The summer day was getting warmer as the pounding of the drums sounded the arrival of Gabrielle, Queen of the Amazons, when she and Xena entered the women warrior's village. Ephiny waited on the raised dais of the throne as the two approached her, at last taking off the mask of Queen as Gabrielle reached the edge of the platform. Standing up from the throne, Ephiny called out her warrior cry, and then handed the mask off to the smaller woman. "Welcome Queen Gabrielle!", she shouted, as the rest of the Amazons took up the cry. The drum beat reached a crescendo as Gabrielle put on the mask.
Jumping down from the dais, Ephiny grabbed the queen's hand, and led her up the stairs to the throne as the cries died down. Looking over the crowd, Gabrielle smiled at her sisters. "It's good to be home!" The Amazons showed their approval by again yelling their individual cries, as others took up more drums. Soon all of the women were celebrating the return of the light haired queen.
Xena caught Ephiny's eye, and motioned her over with a toss of her head. When Ephiny reached the warrior's side, Xena nodded towards Terreis' hut and said, "Get Solari, and meet us over there in a few minutes." Immediately understanding that this was more than a social visit, Ephiny went in search of the stocky amazon.
Everything was just as they had left it in Terreis' former hut. Gabrielle took advantage of the privacy, and changed into her Amazon garb while waiting for the others to arrive. After adjusting her gauntlet, she caught Xena's hands, and placed them on her own face as she leaned upwards to kiss her lover. She sighed as she heard Solari asking for permission to enter.
Grabbing her lover's hand, Xena turned towards the door. "Ephiny, Solari, c'mon in."
The two amazons entered, and were led to chairs around the common table in the middle of the room. As they waited for Gabrielle to sit down and begin her tale, they both noticed the concerned look on Xena's face, immediately guessing that it was bad news that made the pair return to the village.
Taking a deep breath, Gabrielle began. "It's Velasca. We thought we had both she and Callisto trapped in a lava pit, but somehow they escaped. Velasca is as strong as ever; she kidnapped me, and thinks she killed me in Artemis' temple. She...well, I don't remember much of what happened..."
Xena grabbed her hand and gave it a firm squeeze. Continuing the tale, Xena said, "I found Gabrielle, left for dead. Velasca was already gone from the temple. I called on every god I knew to help me...and Artemis heard me. She either tricked Velasca into thinking Gabrielle was dead, or she brought her back to life; I don't know. All we can be sure of is that Velasca is still out there."
The muffled drumbeats could still be heard as Ephiny glanced at her second in command. Returning her gaze to Xena, she said, "Well, she hasn't been here. We assumed you two had stopped her; none of the other Amazon villages have reported seeing her either."
Again squeezing her lover's hand, Xena replied, "I suggest we leave Velasca in the dark about Gabrielle as long as possible."
The bard could not believe what her woman was saying. "Xena, no! I'm the Queen, it's my duty to lead my people!"
Xena raised her voice, "Gabrielle, there's no telling what Velasca will do when she finds out everything she did to torment you has been reversed! She thinks she's killed you! Let's use that to our advantage!"
"I agree," Ephiny said softly as three faces turned to face her. "And we should be using this time to come up with a plan instead of fighting each other."
For an instant, the room grew brighter, and then returned to it's usual level of dimness, as if there was a lightning storm on a cloudless summer day. As Ephiny turned with a shocked look on her face to Solari, they all heard the unmistakable sound of fierce winds and laughter. "She's here," Solari breathed, as her eyes grew wide in terror.
Chairs were knocked over as all four women raced for the door, Gabrielle leading the way. Xena reached the woman from behind. "No! You're not going out there!"
Ephiny glanced behind her to see Xena trying to hold the bard back. "Solari! Make sure she stays here!" Unsheathing her sword, Ephiny raced from the hut.
"Xena! Let me go!" Gabrielle shouted as she continued to struggle against the stronger woman.
"I'm sorry, Gabrielle," Xena said as with lightning speed, she jabbed her lover on both sides of her neck.
Gabrielle fell to the ground, her whole body weak and useless. "Xena," she managed to whisper as the warrior tied her hands together, and then carried her over to the main support beam of the hut. After securing the bard to the stout post, Xena released the hold she had put on Gabrielle. Breathing heavily, Gabrielle looked up at her lover with hurt filled eyes.
Turning to Solari, Xena glared at her, making sure her point was made. "Solari, do not let your Queen out of this hut!" she barked, as she too unsheathed her sword and ran from the hut.
Gabrielle realized that the drums were finally silent as she heard Velasca demand the name of the new queen. Many of the Amazons were yelling as they scrambled for their weapons. Picking up Ephiny's whistle, Gabrielle knew that the blonde warrior was getting the women regrouped for battle, when the God of Chaos let loose some crackling lightning. The smell of burning wood wafted across the village.
The bard again heard Velasca ask for the name of the 'new' queen, as the noise of swordplay could be heard. It sounded like the whole Amazon Nation was taking on the insane god at the same time. Screams of pain added to the confusion, as Velasca took her revenge on her former family. Gabrielle's heart nearly stopped when she heard Velasca next speak. The god had spotted Xena, and challenged her to a duel.
Terror gripping her soul, Gabrielle struggled against the bonds that held her, trying to break free. The sound of clashing metal made her throat close in panic. Thrashing about, she gasped, "Solari! Solari, please! You have to let me go! I'm not ordering you as your Queen, I'm begging you as your friend! XENA_IS_MY_WIFE! Please, Solari!" Tears were in her eyes as the bard continued to wrench against her bindings.
Hoping that Ephiny and the gods would forgive her, Solari released Gabrielle as the sounds of the duel ended.
Gabrielle ran from the hut to see the aftermath of a terrible battle. There were bloody splotches in the dirt, and several unmoving Amazons were scattered around the village. Standing before her, but with her back towards the bard, was Velasca.
The God of Chaos had her sword upraised, ready to plunge it down into the body laying at her feet, when the scene before her looked familiar. She realized that this was how she had ended Melosa's life, towering above an unmoving dark haired warrior. She smiled at the thought of ending the Warrior Princess' life, and sending her off to Tartarus. She was going to keep Hades busy with all the Amazons she planned to send his way.
"Nnnooooo!" Gabrielle screamed as she threw herself over Xena's prone body.
Velasca could not believe the sight before her icy inhuman eyes. Somehow, that stupid bard-queen had managed to live! "Oh, Gabrielle! Now I get to kill you again! I can't tell you how happy that makes me!", laughed the red haired demon.
Raising the sword a little higher, and readying it for a killing blow, a taunting thought thrust itself into Velasca's mind. "Doesn't this look familiar? Another 'fair' fight?"
Dropping her sword, and raising the heels of her hands to her temples, Velasca screamed, "Get out of my head, Melosa!" Her cold blue eyes sparkled in fury and pain.
"Not without an answer Velasca! Is a fight between a mortal and a god fair?"
Screaming from the agony the mental contact was causing, the former amazon groaned, "Is it a fight you want, 'Mother'? If so, then you will have it! Prepare yourself!" As Velasca spat out the final promise, the winds picked up as she became a whirlwind, rushing to meet her mother.
The village was in a shambles after Velasca left. Three or four huts were on fire, and some of the Amazons that were able to walk worked on getting the blaze contained. Luckily, most of the damage was done only on the east side of the camp, away from the stables and horses.
Gabrielle gently rolled off Xena's body, and began looking for injuries. The warrior was still unconscious, but groaned when Gabrielle touched the side of her head. Looking closer, Gabrielle saw a large angry looking bruise beginning to form both above and behind Xena's left ear. "Solari! Ephiny! Help me get Xena back to our hut!"
Ephiny and Gabrielle carried Xena by the shoulders, as Solari grabbed the woman at the knees. After placing the warrior on the soft pallet, Gabrielle turned to Solari. "Get the healer, and bring her here as soon as possible." Nodding, Solari left the cool dimness of the hut and stepped out into the bright sunshine again.
"Ephiny, get some water and clean rags, I need to see if she's hurt anywhere else." Knowing her orders would be obeyed, Gabrielle turned back to her lover, and started loosening her armor. Hearing Ephiny return, Gabrielle took the bucket and rags from the amazon, and applied a cold compress to Xena's head. Relieved that it did not come away bloody, Gabrielle continued to resoak the cloth in the cold water, and wipe her partner's face and body down, almost willing her to regain consciousness.
"Gabrielle, I'll be with the others if you need me. I want to see just how much damage Velasca has done to us," Ephiny said as she turned to leave. Nearly bumping into the healer on the way out the door, the Amazon rushed to find Solari and help her with the clean-up.
Mari had been the healer for only a short while, but was very skilled in her knowledge of herbs and oils. Guessing correctly that Xena had suffered a head injury, she began to make a pain killing tea that would also reduce the slight swelling that was now beginning to show. "You're doing a good job, my Queen. Keep putting those cold compresses on the bruise. That will do the most good right now," she said as she stirred the herbs into a mug of hot tea.
"Gabrielle," Xena whispered.
"You're awake. Thank the gods! Are you ok? How badly does it hurt? Can I get you anything?" the bard peppered her with questions as she clasped Xena's hand in her own.
Looking up into wide eyes that were filled with concern, Xena smiled.
"Yes, not too bad, and something to drink would be great."
Mari stepped forward. "I've made you something that should help for a headache. How bad is it, really?"
Xena looked up at the dark haired woman, having just noticed her. "Well, Velasca caught me a good one right on the ear. My head's ringing a bit, but I think I'm ok," she said as she took a sip of tea.
"That tea should help the swelling too. Are you dizzy at all? How's your vision?" Mari's green eyes brushed over the warrior's body looking for any other injuries, and finding none. Helping to get Xena in a sitting position, the healer put her hands in front of the tall woman. "Squeeze my hands."
Shrugging her shoulders, Xena grabbed the woman's hands and squeezed.
"Ow! Ok, Warrior Princess, at least I know your coordination is still fine. And you're sure you're not dizzy?" Mari asked, as Xena shook her head 'no'. "All right, I'm going to get some fresh water. Finish that tea, and I'll be right back." Mari hurried out the door on the way to the well.
"Xena? The fight? Did you notice anything 'unusual' about it?"
Gabrielle asked, looking into her lover's eyes.
"Unusual? Not really, except Velasca has gotten stronger, and quicker. She really surprised me with that roundhouse punch. Why? Did you notice something? And how did you get out there anyway? I thought I left you in here...where's Solari?"
"Now don't get mad at Solari, Xena. She just did what any friend would do. But the strange part is...I think something did happen during the fight. I mean, why did Velasca suddenly just give up and leave? She certainly wasn't scared off by anything we did." Sitting down on the bed, Gabrielle looked her lover in the eye. "Please don't laugh, but Xena, I felt Melosa here. It was almost as if I looked hard enough, or tried more, I could have seen her."
Xena frowned in concentration as she looked away from Gabrielle, struggling to remember. "Gabrielle, just before I passed out...I think I heard something. It was almost a whisper...and then, nothing. But it wasn't Velasca, and none of the other Amazons were close enough to me for me to be able to hear them. I don't know, Gabrielle. I'm not sure."
Reaching up and touching Xena's chin, the bard moved her lover's face to meet her own. "What if it was Melosa? What does it mean? Velasca said something about fighting her. But how?" she asked as she dropped her hand.
"Sorry it took me so long," Mari said as she brought the bucket into the hut, sloshing a little bit of the water over the sides. "Ephiny stopped me to look at some of the more injured Amazons. Luckily, no one has any fatal injuries." Drenching a new rag in the cold water, she wound the cloth around Xena's head. "How's that feel?"
Xena looked up at the healer. "Mari, right? It feels better, thanks. But tell me, do you know where I can get some Incama oil?"
"Incama oil? Well, I usually don't carry any, because there's not much use for it. But last month I was in another village, testing my skills against their healer. She encouraged me to make some, since she found that when rubbed into sore muscles, it acts like a natural tension reliever. Why? Did Velasca injure you somewhere else?"
"No," Xena answered, and grabbed Gabrielle's hand, knowing that this would be the difficult part. "But Incama oil preserves the body's fluids when the user is in the dreamscape."
Gabrielle wrenched her hand out of Xena's grasp. "You're not going.
What are you thinking? Velasca is too strong! You said so yourself!"
Xena reclaimed her lover's hands. "Velasca is going after Melosa. When she's done with her, she'll be back. I have to stop her now, before she gets any stronger. And Melosa will be there to help me."
"I'm coming with you. And don't think that I've forgotten that you put the neck pinch on me! You can't protect me all the time, Xena!"
"Gabrielle, I need you to protect me! You have to stay here to be my anchor, and to apply the oil. It's the only way. But I have to get there quickly to be any help at all to Melosa." Closing her eyes, Xena begged the gods that the bard would see reason.
"All right, Xena. I want to help," Gabrielle sighed.
Xena released the breath she didn't know she was holding. Looking at Mari, she said, "Get the oil."
Gabrielle applied the Incama oil to Xena's body. The warrior's eyes were closed, and her breathing was steady as she prepared herself to enter the dreamscape. Bending down to kiss closed lips, Gabrielle whispered, "Good luck," as her lover's body jerked once, and then became still again. Xena's consciousness had entered the dreamscape.
Turning to Mari, Gabrielle caught her eyes and held them in her gaze.
"Get more Incama oil, I'm going next."
Mari was surprised at the turn of events. "But my Queen, Xena said..."
Gabrielle cut her off. Raising her voice, and doing her best to sound imperious, she demanded, "Do it!" as the startled healer rushed from the hut to find her supplies.
Gabrielle woke as if from a dream to find herself walking towards a small village of huts. As she neared the closest hut, a red-haired woman wearing a soft brown leather Amazon outfit emerged from one of the bigger buildings. With a shout of happiness, Gabrielle ran towards the other woman.
Looking around to see who was calling her, Terreis immediately recognized her Amazon sister. Catching the woman in a big bear hug, she squeezed the small bard until Gabrielle was almost breathless. "Gabrielle, it is so good to see you! But tell me, you didn't come over on Charon's boat, did you?"
"No, Terreis, I followed Xena into the dreamscape. Have you seen either her or Melosa recently?"
"They both left for the Punishment Grounds behind Hades' palace. Melosa forbade us to follow, only telling us that this was between her and Velasca. Their plan is to somehow get Velasca into Hades' Punishment Pit, where the smoke, heat, and noise will so confuse the god that she won't be able to find her way out."
"Tell me how to get there, Terreis."
Terreis was surprised by her friend's willingness to go into such a dangerous situation. "Gabrielle, if Velasca should kill you while you are in Tartarus, you will have to spend eternity there. Since you didn't get here by Charon's boat, the Judges haven't decided on which realm you should inhabit. If you die on the Punishment Grounds, the Judges will surmise that you chose that for yourself, and leave you there."
"Terreis," Gabrielle sighed as she wrapped an arm around the amazon's waist. "If Xena went there, that's where I have to be. It's where I belong."
The amazon shook her head. "Gabrielle, this is wrong. Xena is...was a warlord. She's prepared to die at any time. And the Judges can be very harsh on warlords, former or not. She would probably end up in Tartarus anyway. But you wouldn't. You could be here with me, and Melosa, and Jace..."
"No! No, Terreis, this is my decision. I will spend eternity with Xena, no matter where that might be. Now tell me how to get to the Punishment Grounds."
Knowing she could never change her friend's mind, Terreis sadly gave Gabrielle the directions to Hades' cold palace and his Punishment Grounds.
Gabrielle could see Hades' castle on the top of a steep slope amid the flames and eerie red glow of Tartarus. Trying to ignore the screams and moans of the wretched inhabitants of Tartarus, the Amazon Queen slowly made her way to the far side of the palace, hoping to find Melosa and Xena before Velasca arrived. When she heard the faint sounds of swords clashing, she knew that the battle had already begun.
Rounding the corner of the cold palace, Gabrielle's breath caught in her throat. Everywhere she looked, she saw destruction and suffering around her. The flames of Tartarus seemed to burn more brightly in the Punishment Grounds, and the heat was almost unbearable. But the sight that froze her in her place was the one right before her eyes. Melosa was trying to get close enough to Velasca to use her chobos, as Xena, with swords in both hands, kept the God of Chaos busy and on the defensive.
Xena kept up her parrying and sword-play, trying to force Velasca to take backward steps. A few yards behind the god was a rather ominous looking pit, that constantly was spewing forth flames and smoke. But every time that Xena won a slight advantage, Velasca would increase the speed of her slashing sword thrust, trying to wear the warrior out. The sweat of exertion and of the heat already looked like they were taking a toll on the Warrior Princess.
Melosa saw movement out of the corner of her right eye, and turned slightly to spot Gabrielle, momentarily dropping her guard. Seeing an opening, Velasca slammed the hilt of her sword into the side of her mother's head, knocking her to the ground. Using the confusion to her advantage, Velasca twirled herself into her whirlwind form, and flew to a position behind Gabrielle.
"Gabrielle!" Xena shouted as a warning, but it was too late. Velasca appeared in human form behind the bard, holding the dagger of Helios to her throat. A twisted smile on her face, Velasca smirked at Xena over the Amazon Queen's shoulder.
"Say good-bye to your lover, Xena, because I'm going to introduce her to all the tortures of the Punishment Grounds!"
Wild-eyed with fright, there was only one thing Gabrielle could think of to do. Slightly shifting her position and weight, she wriggled her right leg behind the legs of the God of Chaos. With a quick thrust, she brought her knee into the back of Velasca's leg, instantly breaking the hold the woman had on her, and causing the god to fall to the ground. Backing away, Gabrielle swung her staff in ever decreasing arcs as she tried to put some distance between them.
Surprised to find herself on the hot dirt of Tartarus, Velasca slowly raised herself to a sitting position. Glaring at Gabrielle for her ability to trick her, a smile spread across her face. All her attention was focused on the bard, as she mentally promised herself that the irritating blonde would suffer for what she had just done. "You are going to regret that, Amazon!" the god promised.
Ignoring the sounds of screeching over-head, the god rose slowly to her feet, ready to spring on Gabrielle, if the bard chose to run. Her eyes locked on the bard's, she advanced on her, completely ignoring the staff that was swung closer and closer in defensive patterns. Hearing Xena coming up behind her, Velasca threw a lightning bolt at the warrior, without even bothering to look behind her. Judging from Gabrielle's reaction, she knew her weapon had found it's mark, eliminating Xena from the fight. "Now it's just you and me, my 'queen'."
Still retreating, Gabrielle looked for any kind of opening to defend herself from Velasca. A braying screech broke her attention, as she glanced away to see two harpies hurtling towards them. A look of fear crossed her face as she knew she could not win a fight against three opponents.
The harpies flew closer and closer, the golden brown scales of their skin glowing in the weird light of tartarus. Two sets of iridescent eyes locked onto Gabrielle's as the beating of their large leather wings seemed to fan the flames of the Punishment Grounds into even greater heights. Hearing the cruel laugh of Velasca, Gabrielle prepared herself for what was to come.
Two sets of claws reached out to grab onto the prisoner. Suddenly pulling up short, the two flying monsters sunk their talons into the shoulders and upper arms of Velasca, jerking the woman along the hot ground. Not bothering to fly higher, the harpies simply dragged the struggling god to the Punishment Pit, and let her drop in. As they released their hold on the crazed woman, Velasca screamed in outrage as she fell into the bottomless trap. Taking one last circle around the immediate area, the harpies disappeared into the steam clouds of Tartarus.
Gabrielle rushed to where Xena and Melosa were lying. The former queen was already coming around slowly, as the bard reached her lover's side. Relieved that she was still breathing, Gabrielle brushed a few stray hairs off of Xena's face, just as the larger woman opened her eyes. "Gabrielle?"
"It's over, Xena. Velasca won't be bothering us anymore."
Xena rewarded the woman with a smile. "Let's get out of here."
Melosa staggered over to join the two, wiping the sweat from her face. Glancing up at Hades' palace, her attention was immediately drawn to the faceless windows of the god's sitting room. Even though the windows were high up on the walls of the castle, Melosa thought she saw a shadow up there. It looked like something moved away from the glass and back into the confines of the building, but Melosa couldn't be sure. It could also have been the reflection of light and clouds tricking her into believing she saw movement. Reaching the other women, Melosa asked, "Everyone ok?"
Helping Xena to her feet, Gabrielle smiled at the former queen. "Melosa, I have one question. Who gets to use the bathing hut first?" she laughed.
Xena felt hot, sticky and messy from being covered in Incama oil. Opening her eyes, she glanced over at Gabrielle who was also starting to regain consciousness from the dreamscape. Propping herself on one elbow, the warrior watched her partner begin to stir. As the green eyes fluttered open, Xena asked the woman with a smile, "Am I ever going to be able to convince you to stay out of danger, and let me handle things?"
Reaching up to draw her lover into a kiss, the bard laughed back, "Nope. You're stuck with me," as she felt Xena's slippery skin rub against her own.
There was a not so discreet cough from the corner of the room. Glancing back over her shoulder, Xena saw Mari still holding the rag she had used to apply the oil to both of the women. "Well, ah...I can see my work here is done. I guess...um... I should..." the healer stammered.
"Sure, see you later, Mari," Xena replied, and turned back to her bard.
No one saw the Amazon Queen or the Warrior Princess for a few hours after that.
The sounds of celebration had been building since dusk. When Gabrielle finally finished dressing in her ceremonial leathers, the music, laughing, and general mayhem were still building to a peak. Walking to the door of their hut, Gabrielle fidgeted with her queen mask. She would be handing it to Ephiny before the feast, and she wanted it to look perfect. The bard felt Xena's arms encircle her waist from behind. Xena's breath was warm across her skin as the warrior whispered into Gabrielle's ear, "We can stay longer if you want, Gabrielle. Nothing says that we can't relax around your sisters for a week or two."
"No, I want things to return to normal for the Amazons. Now that Velasca is gone, they need to rebuild their loyalties to each other. They can't do that if I'm still here. Ephiny needs time to heal the wounds that Velasca caused."
Xena kissed Gabrielle on the side of her neck, causing the smaller woman to shiver at the sensation. "Maybe you're right," Xena breathed in the scent of the bard's hair. "We can always return in a month or so and see how they are."
Feeling a tightness in her throat at the effect Xena had over her, Gabrielle simply nodded. Moving out of Xena's embrace, Gabrielle left the hut, with her lover close behind her. As soon as the other Amazons saw the pair emerge, a cheer went up in welcome and gratitude to the two women. Still behind Gabrielle, Xena placed her hands on the younger woman's shoulders, and leaned in close to again speak into her lover's ear. "They love you my Queen. But not as much as I do." Even though she couldn't see it, Gabrielle smiled. Moving to Xena's side, Gabrielle reached up and took the woman's right hand off her shoulder, clasping it to her heart as they walked into the main square of the village. The party had begun.
The celebration was slowly winding down. The drummers were playing a softer, slower beat as some of the couples gently swayed to the music. Gabrielle had her left arm wrapped around Xena as the two observed the sensual movement of the dancers.
Ephiny looked out over her sisters from the throne on the dais. Motioning Solari over to her, she whispered something in her ear. Nodding in approval, Solari went to join the drummers, after first rummaging into a pack that was near some unused drums. As soon as the musicians finished the song they were playing, Solari whispered them instructions on what to play next. As a slow steady rhythm filled the night air, Solari brought her flute to her lips and started an intricate melody that enhanced the music of the others. Some of the dancers stopped their movement, content just to listen to the beautiful song that was given to them as a gift.
Xena glanced down at Gabrielle, and really wasn't surprised when she saw some tears in the blue-green eyes. The sweet melody effected the bard's tender sensibilities, as she gave herself over to the passion of the music.
Turning Gabrielle into an embrace, Xena nuzzled her neck. "Would you like to dance?"
Gabrielle led her woman into the open area used by the dancers. Two or three couples were already moving to the music as the bard grasped the warrior in a loose embrace. Xena drew the woman closer to her own body, moving sensually against her lover, delighting in the feel of her warm body pressed up against hers. Resting her head on Xena's chest, Gabrielle gave a slight start as she felt a thigh press gently against the core of her being. Still swaying to the music, Xena let her arms and hands travel over Gabrielle's back, loving the feel of muscles reacting to her touch. Moving slowly, Xena again pressed her thigh into Gabrielle, this time hearing a gasp of pleasure. Leaning down for a kiss, the warrior tightened the embrace even more, leaving her leg firmly nestled between Gabrielle's. The bard's breathing became ragged as her lover's tongue pushed past her own lips and started it's own journey of exploration. Locked in the embrace, Xena could feel aroused nipples pressing into her body. Groaning, Xena held Gabrielle at the back of her head, deepening the soul searching assault. Breathless herself, she broke the kiss just as the melody ended. Grasping Xena's hand, Gabrielle led the woman back to their hut as Solari began a soulful tune without the accompanying drums.
Stopping to light a candle, Gabrielle felt Xena come up behind her as hands found willing flesh responding to warrior's touch. Massaging the smaller woman's breasts against the soft leather of her outfit, Xena heard Gabrielle's breathing become ragged as the bard's body responded to her woman's fingers. Xena nuzzled the bard's neck, leaving small nipping kisses from jawline to collarbone, and her right hand mover lower to stroke a thigh. Gasping for air, the amazon shuddered as Xena cupped her sex lightly, teasing the bard with thoughts of more to come. Groaning at the wetness she found there, Xena couldn't control herself as she thrust two fingers into her lover's core, while massaging the more sensitive nub with her thumb. Legs weak with passion, Gabrielle leaned back against her lover for support, as Xena's free arm snaked around her waist to hold her in place. Ripping shudders wracked the bard's body as Xena's tongue found her ear. Responding to the intimate assault at two such sensitive areas, her legs shaking with a coming release, Gabrielle allowed herself to lose control to her lover. When the smaller woman was no longer able to stand, Xena held on to the bard tightly as she drove her fingers deeper into her lover, still biting onto an earlobe as she felt small spasms working their way past her fingers and into the amazon's whole body. Feeling another wave of wetness wash over her hand, Xena moaned and nipped the flesh at the base of Gabrielle's neck as the bard's legs stiffened and her body arched more fully into the warrior. Gabrielle screamed as she felt Xena's thumb tease her one last time as wet pleasure washed out of her. Warmth radiated outwards from her sex to every part of her body; shaking with release, heart pounding, the bard gasped for air as Xena removed her delicious fingers and turned her in her arms. Licking her fingers dry from Gabrielle's essence, the warrior bent in for a kiss, as the bard tasted herself deep in the mouth of her lover.
Drawing back, Xena looked at her woman's passion glazed eyes. "Gabrielle, you're always so wet...so ready. You don't know how exciting that is."
"Only for you, Xena, only for you," the smaller woman whispered as she felt Xena scoop her up and take her to the bed. Dimly hearing Solari's flute, the bard could pretend that she was playing only for them. Relaxing in Xena's arms, she began undressing the warrior. The taller woman drew a deep breath as Gabrielle's hand lightly grazed a full erect nipple. Seeing the woman respond to her had the bard catching her breath. Her heart pounding in her chest, she quickly removed her clothing and nestled herself on top of the warrior. Intertwining her fingers with Xena's, the bard moved slightly so their breasts would be touching, increasing the pleasure of sensation to both. Letting a knee slip between Xena's legs, Gabrielle kissed the woman passionately as their arms stretched out and away from their bodies in wordless sexual tension. Xena jerked at the assault at her thighs, straining for more contact. "Xena," Gabrielle panted breathlessly, "you are as ready for me as I was for you." Hearing the words of her lover, Xena again tried to force her hips closer to the intimate knee, needing more pressure. Gabrielle responded by wiggling her leg, stimulating other areas of Xena's center, teasing her sensitive nub into excited life.
Still jerking her body up and into Gabrielle, Xena released her hands from her lover, and placed them on the woman's shoulders, urging her to explore lower. When Gabrielle circled her tongue lightly around first one nipple, and then the other, it brought a series of groans from the helpless warrior. Xena could feel the wetness seeping out of her body as the bard continued to tease the tempting flesh of her chest. "Gabrielle, please, go lower. I can't..."
"You can't what, Xena? You can't take my kisses that I give you?" Gabrielle smiled as she pulled forcefully on the erect tender flesh of a breast, eliciting another moan from Xena. "You said, 'Go lower'...maybe you want me to tease you a little on your delicious belly?" Bending her head a little lower, Gabrielle let her hair swirl and tickle the skin between her woman's breasts and belly-button. "Or do you want me to taste you here?", she smiled as she first blew a warm breath on the exposed navel, before gently moving her tongue into that opening, sending quivers through the bigger woman's body. After again feeling a warm breath across her slick skin, Xena bucked her hips in greater frenzy and invitation.
Pushing more forcefully on Gabrielle's shoulders, Xena managed to groan, "Please...lower, lower..." Shaking all over with anticipation, a red flush crept up her chest to her face as she again raised her center toward the bard.
"Lower? Ok. Is it your feet that need my attention?"
Xena rolled her head side to side in mounting pleasure. The teasing was only increasing her desire for the intimacy of her lover's lips on her most sensitive spot.
"No? Your calves, then?"
Xena groaned in frustration as her body strained for the coming release. Helplessly thrusting her hips at Gabrielle again, Xena's hands left the bard's shoulders to clutch at the blankets, balling them up as she clenched her hands into fists.
"Oh, I think I know what's best for you," Gabrielle finally gave in, and without hesitation, spread her lover's folds with her thumbs and plunged her tongue into the wet ripe opening at Xena's center. Xena shouted with pleasure and release as she felt the warm soft tongue of Gabrielle at last slide into her. Moving her hands slightly, Gabrielle began stroking the engorged bundle of nerves amid the folds of her lover. Wordlessly, Xena again strained forward, needing more contact from the one she loved. Still not ready to stop the esquisite teasing, the bard took a slow lingering lick of every fold and crevice of her lover, at last stopping at the excited clit. Rubbing her teeth against the flesh, the bard circled two of her fingers into her woman, bringing more cries in a strangled voice from the warrior. At last taking the nub into her mouth and sucking as hard as she could, the amazon felt Xena's legs stretch out in climax as her own fingers continued to create more and more spasms inside the woman. Gabrielle was amazed as she again felt wetness splash onto her hand and tongue, and delighted in the sensation of Xena's inner muscles clenching her fingers, trying to draw more of the probing fingers into her. The bard's groans of pleasure matched Xena's as they both crested the wave together.
Hearing Xena's panting release, the amazon crawled up the woman's body for another kiss, now mixing the tastes of each other in Xena's mouth. Although panting breathlessly, the warrior's hands moved over the bard with a sense of purpose, finding flesh that still reacted to her touch. Groaning at the eager response of Gabrielle's body, Xena continued the assault through the night.
Ephiny was surprised to find Gabrielle and Xena still in camp. Since no one had seen them in the morning, it was assumed that the two had gotten up before dawn to leave; but they had emerged from their hut well past the time that the sun was directly overhead.
"I guess you couldn't tear yourselves away," Ephiny said, and then hurriedly added, "...from us."
Gabrielle had a hard time meeting the other woman's eyes. "Um, yeah, something like that. Besides, what's one more day with my sisters?"
"Well, seeing that the day is almost gone, it's nothing I guess," Ephiny laughed as she wrapped her arms around both women, and lead them to the food supplies hut to find them something to eat.
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