(c) 1997


Warning: This story involves love, romance, and implied sexual relationships between consenting women. This story also depicts violent acts. If you can't take the beat, get off the dancefloor. Also, if you are under 18, Xena's blue eyes are watching you, so it would be better if you did not read this story at this time!

Xena, Gabrielle and the Amazons belong to no one but themselves. However, I borrowed them for a short time and wish to thank MCA for allowing me to indulge in my fantasies. The rest of the story is mine, and I own the copyright on it. If you wish to use all or any part of it, please ask me first.

A very special thank you goes out to roc-it scientist, who is a lot better at spelling and grammar than I am!

Write on!

Hope you enjoy the story -- feel free to send comments to:




"This is just great!" Xena barked as she paced back and forth across the floor of the hut, "We come here for a nice visit and get stuck in the middle of yet another Amazon Nation power struggle."

Ephiny, Loggia, and Eponin cast their eyes to the floor, trying to avoid the glare of the warrior's anger. Gabrielle, the only one who ever seemed to be able to reach Xena when she was like this, tried to halt the warrior's frenzied pacing by grabbing her arm.

"It's not their fault," Gabrielle said softly, hoping the tone of her voice would calm her friend down. It didn't. She whirled on the bard and fixed her with an icy stare.

"Well, it's not my fault either!" Gabrielle exclaimed.

"Well, you could have warned us!" Xena turned to scold the three Amazons.

"How could we know you were coming!" Ephiny barked back just as fiercely at Xena.

The logic of the statement stopped Xena's pacing. The warrior sighed and looked at Ephiny, Queen of the Amazons, or at least Queen in Gabrielle's absence. Now that Gabrielle was back in the Amazon Nation, rule automatically transferred back to the bard, and therein lay the problem.

"Well, now what are we going to do?" Xena asked, a little more calmly. Gabrielle patted her arm and smiled. Xena did not smile back.

"Thesia has already made her challenge. Ephiny was going to defend the Queen's Mask tonight. But now that Gabrielle is here, she'll have to......" Loggia's statement was cut short by the cold blast from Xena's eyes. "I guess Gabrielle won't be defending her Mask." Loggia whispered to no one, but Ephiny heard her.

"She has to. There is no other choice. She's here and she must accept the challenge." Ephiny explained.

Gabrielle's eyes lit up with an idea, "Well, why don't Xena and I just leave quietly the way we came!"

"Gabrielle," Ephiny answered wearily, "The minute you and Xena entered our territory, the entire Amazon Nation knew you had arrived. Thesia is probably riding at full speed right now, a lot happier for the news!"

"What's that supposed to mean!" Gabrielle exclaimed.

"It means that Thesia is thanking the Gods right now that *you* decided we should pay them visit." Xena began to pace again, "Now she'll get to fight you instead of Ephiny! Your timing is impeccable, Gabrielle!"

"Xena, please calm down. You're making me seasick with your pacing!" Gabrielle's threat was taken seriously by the warrior and she stopped, eyeing the bard warily.

"Look, this is easy." Gabrielle began, placing herself strategically between the warrior and the Amazons, "I'll just choose Xena as my champion again, and Thesia will have to fight Xena. That'll be one quick fight, don't you think?"

Xena rolled her eyes. Ephiny shook her head.

"It doesn't work like that, Gabrielle. You're the Amazon Queen. No one can champion for you. If the throne is challenged, only the Amazon Queen can defend it!"

"That's not true!" Xena butted in, an idea popping into her head quickly. "There's is a way that I can fight to defend the throne instead of Gabrielle!"

Ephiny shook her head, "No Xena, there is no way unless..." suddenly Ephiny's eyes grew wide as she realized in which direction Xena was headed, "No Xena, don't be ridiculous, you can't....." but before the Amazon could finish, Xena was already on her knees before the Queen of the Amazons, Gabrielle.

"Gabrielle," the warrior asked taking Gabrielle's hand in her own, "Will you marry me?"

"WHHHATTTT!" was all the bard could manage to say.

Ephiny was really angry now, "Xena this is not funny. The joining of two Amazons is sacred to Artemis and is not done lightly! This would be a sacrilege and an affront to our Goddess. We could incur her wrath!!"

Gabrielle was still looking at Xena with her mouth open, but Xena was not laughing.

"I'm not trying to be funny. This is serious and it's none of your business. I've decided to ask Gabrielle to join with me, following the ancient Amazon custom. And I haven't been struck dead by lightning.... .....yet." The warrior pulled Gabrielle's arm to get her attention, "Gabrielle, close your mouth and answer me!"

Gabrielle wanted to laugh, but somehow knew that Xena was not trying to make a joke. "What would my marrying you have to do with the challenge Thesia is making for the throne?" She asked innocently.

Ephiny would not answer. Xena shot her a look and turned back to her friend, "When two Amazons are joined by the ancient ritual, they become as one. Because of this, it wouldn't matter who defended the Queen's throne because we would be looked on by Amazon Law as one and the same. Isn't that right, Ephiny?"

Ephiny still would not answer, so Loggia answered for her, "That is exactly right!" Ephiny poked her new lover in the ribs. Loggia ignored her.

"Xena!" Ephiny warned, "I don't think this is a good idea!"

"Then what would you have Gabrielle do? Fight Thesia! There's not a snowball's chance in Tartarus I'm going to let that happen!" Xena tugged on Gabrielle's hand again, "Come on Gabrielle, answer in front of your Amazon sisters. I'm asking you to join with me. Will you?" Xena's blue eyes turned soft and clear, and Gabrielle thought for a moment she was serious in her proposal, her voice was so soft.

Gabrielle gulped and answered, unable to think of any other way out of the situation.

"Yes," was all the bard of many words could manage to say.

Ephiny stomped the ground angrily. Loggia and Eponin clapped their hands in joy. Now that it was done, Ephiny would just have to ensure that their plan succeeded.

"I'm not happy at all about this Xena," the Amazon hissed at the warrior as Xena stood up from her knees, "but now that you have pushed this plan into motion, I'm going to make sure that nothing goes wrong. Loggia, get word to Thesia that the challenge is being put off until tomorrow due to the celebration of Gabrielle's and Xena's She's not going to believe a word of it, I'm warning you!" Ephiny pointed her finger at both Xena and Gabrielle.

Gabrielle looked at Xena worriedly, but the warrior patted her shoulder and smiled.

"Eponin, you take Gabrielle and get her ready. Also, get hold of the rest of the council and spread the word that the ceremony will happen tonight after sunset." Eponin nodded her agreement and took Gabrielle's hand, "Come with me, my Queen, we have to prepare you for your joining." Eponin smiled shyly at Xena and giggled. Gabrielle looked back nervously as she was being led away.

Ephiny turned back to glare angrily at the Warrior Princess, "I'm PERSONALLY going to get you ready, Xena. You and I are going to have to plan this detail!" The amazon grabbed Xena's arm and pulled her out of the tent. Xena chuckled and allowed herself to be led, "Whatever you say, Ephiny."


Xena lowered herself into the hot, perfumed tub. 'This is nice!' the warrior sighed to herself.

"Aaaahhh!" was what she said aloud.

"Enjoy it while you can," Ephiny growled from her kneeling position, outside of the tub "Before Artemis strikes you dead!" Ephiny grabbed a brush and began to scrub the Warrior Princess's back, quite roughly.

"Oww!" Xena howled, "Take it easy. Leave some skin, will ya?"

"You have to be cleansed."

"I'll do it myself!" Xena said, grabbing the brush from the Amazon and continuing to wash.

Ephiny sat back in a chair, "Xena, Thesia is not going to believe for a minute that you and Gabrielle suddenly want to get joined."

"Nonsense," Xena argued, washing under her armpits, "Just let everyone know that we came back to the Nation for the reason of getting joined. We knew nothing about her challenge for Queen's Mask, and Gabrielle decided that our joining was more important than her challenge. And well it should be, right?" Xena finished her washing and sat back to soak, enjoying the hot bath immensely.

"You know, Xena, you're going to have to convince her and everyone else that this joining is real! Otherwise, she could very well challenge the validity of the ceremony in the morning."

Xena shrugged her shoulders, unconcerned, "So. We'll convince her."

"Xena, I have no doubt that you can convince her. But, what about Gabrielle?"

"What about Gabrielle?"

"Xena, Gabrielle probably never even thought that two women could be...well, you know....together!"

"Ephiny," Xena tilted her head back and rinsed her long raven hair in the water. Then she turned to look the Amazon in her eyes, "Gabrielle is a mature and intelligent woman. I know she realizes that two women can love each other just the same as a man and a woman. She is not as innocent as she seems. I have complete faith and confidence in her, and you should too!"

With that speech, Xena rose to her full height and let the water cascade from her body. Between the warrior's speech and the sight of Xena's incredible body dripping before her, Ephiny was speechless. Xena smirked.

"Don't worry, Ephiny. I'll explain everything to Gabrielle. She'll get the idea."

"What about after the ceremony?" Ephiny asked meekly.

"What about it?" Xena wrapped a towel around her hips and stepped out of the bath.

"You know, after the ceremony, when you have to go to the ceremonial hut and....well you know.....this is an Amazon village. There are no secrets here!"

Xena laughed, "Don't worry about it! I'll take care of everything."

Ephiny thought she saw a twinkle in Xena's eye, but dismissed it to the sparkle of the water.

"Well, what about the token? Do you have something to give to Gabrielle as a symbol of your joining?"

Xena turned and smiled at the Amazon.

"As a matter of fact, I do."

Gabrielle sighed and splashed some water over her face. She smiled back to Eponin, who was gently scrubbing the Amazon Queen's back and enjoying every minute of it.

"This is nice!" Gabrielle splashed some water around, "But I wish Xena was here! Why are we in separate huts?"

"You won't see each other again until the ceremony. It's tradition. You are both cleansed and dressed, so that when you see each other, it will be as if you are seeing each other for the first time!"

"How beautiful!" Gabrielle sighed again, and leaned into the scrubbing and then she laughed out loud, "If my mother could see me now!" She began to chuckle and then stopped short, "She probably wouldn't be very pleased at all!" The sudden realization caused Gabrielle to frown, and then she laughed again.

"Who would have thought that a small girl from Poteidaia would grow up to be a wandering bard, an Amazon Princess, then an Amazon Queen and then the wife of Xena, The Warrior Princess!" The bard frowned as she thought about this a moment.

She turned to Eponin, "Am I the wife or the husband?" Eponin shrugged her shoulders.

Gabrielle laughed and splashed around, "This is going to make a great story!" Gabrielle laughed again and then rinsed herself off.

Eponin smiled warmly from behind her, "You are a very lucky woman. Half the Amazon Nation lusts after Xena."

"Really?" Gabrielle turned away from the young amazon and grinned, "I can't imagine why." Eponin laughed out loud.

"The other half lusts after you."

"Don't be ridiculous!" Gabrielle guffawed and then turned around to face Eponin, "Really?"

Eponin chuckled and motioned for Gabrielle to stand. The bard did and helped Eponin wrap the towel around her wet body.

"You better believe it!" Eponin confessed. Gabrielle blushed.

"What happens next?" Gabrielle asked, stepping out of the tub, and changing the subject.

"Well, we dress you up in your full Amazon Queen attire. We'll take hours just to make sure that everything is perfect. By then, it will be time for the ceremony!"

"Is Xena going through the same thing right now?"

Eponin thought about this for a moment, "Well, I don't think it will take her that long to get dressed. But, she has to go the temple to make an offering to Artemis, so the goddess will bless the joining. Oh, I almost forgot. Do you have something you can give to Xena as a token?"

"What do you mean?" Gabrielle asked, drying her ears.

"A small gift. Something she can wear. Usually, it's a bracelet or a necklace or a ring, or even an earring or a nose ring?" Eponin looked at Gabrielle hopefully.

"Well, I don't think she'd appreciate a nose ring," Gabrielle answered and Eponin laughed. Then Gabrielle thought for a moment, "Yes, I do have something. Yes, as a matter of fact, I do."


Xena exited the Temple of Artemis with a sigh of relief. Never one to pray, she found it hard to petition Artemis for her blessing. She surprised herself by asking very eloquently for the Goddess to help her keep Gabrielle and the Amazon Nation safe. As the Goddess did not strike her down in her place, she assumed the joining to be blessed, and that was that. She left the temple.

Ephiny shook her head sadly as Xena exited the temple no more than two minutes after she had entered, "That was quick!" she commented sarcastically.

"I asked if it was all right. She said yes. What else is there to say?" Xena explained with a shrug.

Ephiny eyed the warrior sideways, "Artemis said yes, huh?"

"Well, she didn't say no."

Ephiny made no comment, but stared straight ahead, making a silent vow to Artemis that she would fast for three days after this, if the Goddess would forego her wrath. Xena and Ephiny approached the center of the Amazon village. A crowd was already gathering.

"Which one is Thesia?" Xena asked, looking through the crowd, anxious to get a chance to examine her next opponent.

Ephiny looked around, "She's not here yet." The amazon stopped and grabbed Xena's arm, "Listen Xena, this won't be an easy fight. Thesia is good, very good. I've seen her and she is very, very good."

"She's that good, is she?" Xena said flatly. Ephiny sighed.

"Just make sure you get a good night's rest." the Amazon warned.

"I thought you told me I better not!" Xena joked.

Ephiny rolled her eyes and pulled Xena along, "It's not funny. You know what I mean."

Xena only chuckled. The two women approached the stage and climbed the steps. It was almost time. The crowd hushed to silence as Xena mounted the platform. Her raven hair had been washed and brushed to perfection. Every detail on her armor was shined and sparkling. Her trademark weapon, the Chakrum, was polished until it was so clean, any light at all was reflected brilliantly from it. She was the epitome of an Amazon. The Amazon Nation collectively gasped in awe and then sighed sadly, that this particular warrior would no longer be available.

Xena shifted her feet on the stage, suddenly nervous about the impending ceremony. The drums began to pound. The Amazon Queen was approaching.

All heads turned and watched as Gabrielle was carried in on the Queen's litter. Six incredible looking Amazon women carried her atop their muscled shoulders. Yet, not one of them came close to the regal aura emanating from Gabrielle as she sat on the throne; an Amazon Queen to the core. She stood up as the litter was brought to the platform, and walked proudly to stand face to face with Xena. The Amazon Queen wore the full feathered Mask of her position, but it did not stop her golden red hair from reflecting in the firelight or her sea green eyes from sparkling through the mask at the sight of the Warrior Princess.

Xena's heart stopped beating as she realized just how beautiful Gabrielle appeared.

Gabrielle's eyes took in all of Xena in one glance, and it was more than her senses could tolerate. The hair, the shinning armor, her olive skin and, most of all, her incredibly translucent turquoise eyes, all beamed with a light that Gabrielle could not believe. The Warrior Princess quite simply took the Amazon Queen's breath away.

All of a sudden, the ceremony was not so funny any more. Gabrielle held her breath as the ritual began. She removed the Queen's Mask and carefully watched Xena's reaction.

Xena had never seen Gabrielle look more beautiful. She thought of smiling but could not seem to be able to breathe, so she concentrated on that instead. Finally, Ephiny spoke:

"We have come together to join these two women as one!" Ephiny began.

Suddenly, there was an angry shout from the rear of the audience.

"This is a farce! These two women aren't in love! This is an affront to Artemis! I protest this joining!"

It was Thesia, finally arrived at the ceremony, and she was very angry indeed. But, not as angry as Xena was at the interruption. The warrior flew from the stage sword in hand and had her left hand around Thesia's throat before the amazon upstart could say another word. Xena's eyes bore fiery holes into Thesia's.

"How dare you interrupt my joining ceremony!" Xena hissed angrily. "I should kill you here and now!"

Thesia slapped Xena's hand away from her throat and jumped back, drawing her own sword in one lightening fast movement, "Let's have at it, then!" Xena's fierce white smile signaled to Thesia that she would like nothing better.

"ENOUGH!" Gabrielle ordered from the stage. Both women froze.

Ephiny moved forward and spoke, "Thesia, you can protest the union before the Council tomorrow. For now, you must hold your tongue. You know this!"

Thesia reluctantly sheathed her sword and stared directly into the icy blue eyes of the Warrior Princess. "I'm going to do just that! I don't believe this farce for a minute, and neither does any Amazon! Your sexual appetite is legendary, Warrior Princess, and you don't have a taste for......" Her words were cut off again by Xena as she lunged once more for her throat, a deadly growl escaping her lips.

"XENA!" Both Ephiny and Gabrielle yelled at the same time. The warrior was somehow able to stop herself from squeezing the life out of Thesia. With one last clench of her grip, she sent the Amazon spilling to the ground, choking in the dust. The warrior spun around and reluctantly sheathed her sword. Xena worked on controlling her breathing as she stomped back to the stage.

"You're a dead woman," Xena whispered to herself. Only Gabrielle heard. The bard placed a soft hand on the warrior's arm and looked into her eyes. This had a slight calming effect, and everyone sighed in relief.

Ephiny looked around nervously, "Now, where were we?"

Thesia lifted herself from the dirt and wiped off. She stood back in her place and grimaced. She was going to watch this ceremony very carefully. If either of them gave any sign at all that this was a hoax, it was going to be more fuel for the fire. Either way, she would get her revenge tomorrow.

"Xena, are you ready?" Ephiny asked cautiously. She wanted to make sure that Xena had the mindset to go on. Xena took a deep breath and nodded. She looked into Gabrielle's eyes and found the trust there that she knew she would. Gabrielle smiled back in confidence. Everything would be fine.

"Who petitions to join with Gabrielle, Queen of the Amazons?" Ephiny asked loudly, speaking the traditional question.

"I do, Xena of Amphipolis!" Xena answered, never taking her eyes off of Gabrielle.

"What is your offering?" Ephiny asked the second traditional question.

Xena took another deep breath and smiled at Gabrielle. For once, words were not going to be a problem.

"Gabrielle," the warrior began, her voice surprisingly soft, "Since the day you came into my life, there has not been one moment that I have not basked in the warmth of your light. We've been through so much together. I've watched you grow, and you've watched me grow. There is no doubt in my mind that I could not have made it this far without you."

Xena stopped for a brief moment to take a nervous breath and removed her token out of its hiding place in the small pouch on her hip, "You are the best part of my heart and I can not live without you."

Xena gently placed a necklace around Gabrielle's neck. Gabrielle was speechless. The look in Xena's eyes told her that the warrior was absolutely serious about everything she had just said. Or was she? Gabrielle looked down at the amulet. It was Lyceus' Barilius token. Gabrielle caught her breath and a smile spread across her lips.

"Xena," Gabrielle answered in an almost hushed whispered, "I could not imagine my life without you. When you left me once, I felt an emptiness that I had never felt before, like a part of me was gone. I never want to lose you again."

Gabrielle pulled a ring out of the small pouch on her own hip, and took Xena's hand. It was a small ring and would only fit on the warrior's pinkie. Gabrielle slipped it slowly on Xena's left pinkie finger.

"You will never be alone again." The ring slipped into place and Xena looked down at it with in a start. It was the ring that Xena knew belonged to Lilla, Gabrielle's younger sister.

Xena stared silently at Gabrielle. Suddenly, the world around them slipped away and they were no longer on a Amazon platform in an Amazon village going through an Amazon ritual. They were just Xena and Gabrielle, and nothing else in the world mattered. Xena slowly bent her head down and ever so gently brushed Gabrielle's lips with her own. She meant the kiss to end there, but Gabrielle's lips tasted so sweet, she could not resist pressing her own lips against them again just to taste her one last time.

When she did, she found Gabrielle had opened her mouth slightly and brushed Xena's lips lightly with her tongue. Xena paused and drank in the feel of Gabrielle's sweet tongue against her lips. The warrior could no more stop what happened next than stop the rising tide. Gabrielle moved her arms slowly up around Xena's neck as their tongues softly tasted one another, and she pulled the warrior to her. They kissed fully now, Xena's tongue happily dancing across Gabrielle's, reveling in the sweetness of it. The outside world dropped away.

Reluctantly, Gabrielle pulled away, suddenly out of breath. Xena was unwilling to release her so soon, and sucked softly on her bottom lip, hoping some of her sweetness would remain behind. If not for her arms around Xena's neck, Gabrielle's knees would have given way and she would have fallen to the floor. Xena willed her heart to beat and stared down at Gabrielle in wonder. Slowly Gabrielle unwrapped her arms from around Xena's neck and they smiled at one another. An old secret finally being shared.

Ephiny sighed in extreme relief. 'Good job!' she thought in appreciation, 'Practically took my breath away, and I know what's really going on!" The Amazon smiled broadly and announced, "May Artemis bless this union!" and the Nation cheered in unison.

Xena and Gabrielle were joined as one, partners in life -- forever.

Thesia fumed in the background.

'There's more than one way to skin a cat,' Thesia thought to herself. 'Tonight, little love birds, we'll see what happens tonight....or what doesn't!' Then she snickered evily and stormed off.


The Amazon village was serene in its silence. Only the call of the crickets could be heard, the ceremony having ended long ago. All were safely tucked away in their own huts, huddling together in the candle light. A Joining Ceremony never failed to fill the air with romance.

Xena and Gabrielle sat at the table in the Ceremonial Hut staring at the fine feast laid out before them. A single, flickering candle danced off of the hut's walls, illuminating the hut in shadows. Gabrielle nervously played with her necklace.

"Aren't you hungry?" Xena asked softly. Although she asked the question of Gabrielle, Xena herself had no stomach for food.

The bard shook her head.

"Are you sick?" Xena reached over and felt her friend's forehead. Gabrielle grinned crookedly.

"Very funny," was all the bard could say, as she played with the Barilius token. Xena watched her quietly.

"Xena?" Gabrielle finally asked meekly, "Isn't this Lyceus's Barilius token?"

Xena smiled, obvious affection shinning in her eyes, "Yes, it is." she confirmed. Gabrielle accepted this answer and remained quiet.

Xena played with the ring on her finger, then she looked up at Gabrielle, "Isn't this the ring that Lilla gave you the last time you went home?"

Gabrielle smiled, "Yes, it is."

"I want you to keep it." They both said at the same time, and then laughed together.

"I was going to give it to you anyway, for your birthday or something, but you've never told me when your birthday is." Gabrielle explained, smiling. "Besides, I wasn't sure if it would have been appropriate."

"Oh no," Xena answered, "It would have been perfect. *If*, I would have told you when my birthday was." Xena smiled wickedly, "Not that I'm going to tell you now."

Gabrielle laughed and swatted at her arm.

"Besides," Xena continued, "I was going to give you Lyceus's token anyway.....sooner or later."

Xena's eyes fell away from Gabrielle, and she nervously took a sip of wine. They drifted back into silence once more.

"Xena?" Gabrielle broke the quiet, "What you said to me, it was very beautiful."

"I meant every word of it." Xena whispered and looked once again into Gabrielle's warm eyes.

"You did?" Gabrielle asked so softly that Xena could barely hear her. Xena slowly nodded her head in agreement, a smile parting her lips ever so slightly.

Gabrielle lost herself in the depths of Xena's cerulean gaze, "So did I," she whispered.

Once again the world dropped away.

Ephiny peeked out of her tent for the zillionth time.

"What are you so nervous about?" Loggia asked, blowing out another candle. "Close the flap and come to bed."

Ephiny squinted and watched as the light went out in the Ceremonial Hut. She drew her breath as the darkness revealed a shadowy figure running towards it.

"Just as I thought!" Ephiny hissed and looked back at Loggia. "It's Thesia, sneaking up to the Hut to listen. I told you so!" Loggia joined her at the flap and peeked out. They looked at each other knowingly.

"This could be trouble." Ephiny kissed her lover quickly, "I better get out there. Stay here."

Not waiting for a response, Ephiny stole into the darkness and headed for the Hut. She was so quiet, that Thesia became startled when Ephiny grabbed onto her arm. She had been crouched at the side of the hut, listening intently through the wall.

"What do you think you're doing!" Ephiny hissed at the intruder.

"I don't believe we'll hear a sound from the 'Ceremonial Hut' tonight, and I think you know I'm right!" Thesia poked a finger in Ephiny's chest pushing her away. "Listen. Nothing. Absolutely quiet! They're probably sleeping!"

Suddenly a bang and a clanking sound broke the silence from the hut.

"What was that?" Thesia wondered aloud.

"Sounds like armor dropping to the floor to me." Ephiny answered knowingly.

"I don't believe that for a moment!" Thesia hissed in response.

A soft moan filled the air. Gabrielle's voice. Ephiny raised her eyebrows. Thesia scowled and listened closely.

A few more muffled, unidentifiable sounds and the rustle of sheets. Thesia shifted uncomfortably. Ephiny smiled. Another moan and then a deep whisper in Xena's voice, "Gabrielle." Another soft moan. This time it was Gabrielle.

Thesia narrowed her eyes suspiciously and started to say something. Ephiny brought her finger to her lips, warning her to be quiet.

Another moan. Then another. And then Xena's soft, low voice. "Gabrielle?" it was asking a question. "Yes, Xena, please," was Gabrielle's pleading answer. Then a sharp intake of breath followed by an even stronger moan from Gabrielle, immediately answered with a deep "Yessss," from Xena.

Ephiny hid her smile behind her hand. 'Not bad!' she thought to herself and watched Thesia's face very carefully. The amazon was buying their performance, no doubt about it.

The sounds increased from the Ceremonial Hut, until Thesia's ears were burning red from blushing. Gabrielle's final cry of release echoed throughout the village causing Thesia to look away, and Ephiny to swallow a laugh. 'Over-acting a little, but effective." Ephiny criticized the performance and pulled at Thesia's arm.

"Are you satisfied?" She whispered as quietly as she could in the sudden silence.

"Are you kidding?" Thesia spat back, "You think I'm going to buy that? This is the great Warrior Princess we're talking about, and you're telling me that's it!" Thesia grunted and pulled her arm away from Ephiny. "No way, sister. I don't buy it for a minute!" The two amazon's glared at each other in the darkness.

A sudden voice interrupted their glaring. It was Gabrielle's.

"Xena," she rasped in short breaths, "what are you doing?"

Xena's answer was deep and guttural, "I'm not done with you yet!" she growled.

"Where are you going?" Gabrielle asked again, her question stopped by her own moan. "By the gods! Xena! Ooohh!"

Thesia and Ephiny stared at each other wide-eyed.

"You want me to stop?" Xena's low voice asked seductively.

"Yes. Oooh. No. I mean, ohhh yesss." Gabrielle's ragged plea disappeared into a moan.

Thesia gulped and held her breath. So did Ephiny. The listened in embarrassed silence as moans echoed in the soft night air.

The next cry was a scream of such absolute pleasure that both Ephiny and Thesia had to turn away to avoid each other's eyes. They could hear Gabrielle gulping for air, trying to breathe, in between the waves of multiple orgasms that were raging through her body.

The cry ended in soft sobbing from Gabrielle, "By the gods, Xena, I didn't know. I just didn't know..." and gently, whispered words from Xena, "It's alright, Gabrielle, I've got you. I've got you."

Ephiny looked at Thesia. Thesia was staring wordlessly at the ground. The woman was about to whisper something to Ephiny, when the soft voice of Xena interrupted.

"I love you, Gabrielle. I always have. And I always will."

Ephiny smiled to herself triumphantly. That did it! She grabbed at Thesia's arm and pulled her away. The Amazon warrior came with her willingly. They walked quietly from the Ceremonial Hut in total silence, until they were well out of range. Ephiny turned to Thesia impatiently.

"Are you satisfied now?"

The Amazon warrior cast her eyes to the ground, and then back up at Ephiny. "It doesn't matter one bit!" She barked at the surrogate Queen. "Tomorrow, not only will I claim the Queen's Mask, but I'll be the one to finally defeat Xena, Warrior Princess! I hope she enjoyed her night. It'll be her last."

And with that, the Amazon warrior stormed away.

Ephiny looked back at the Ceremonial Hut and cackled. She practically danced back to her own hut, and happily slipped in through the flap. Loggia was waiting with a smile on her face.

"I take it she bought it?" Loggia asked, grabbing her lover in a hug.

"Hook, line, and sinker." Ephiny kissed Loggia firmly on the lips. "Remind me to nominate Xena and Gabrielle for an award from the Athens Academy for Performing Bards!"

Loggia laughed out loud, and pushed Ephiny back on their bed. "Come on, we have our own performance to work on!"


The dawn found the Amazon Nation quiet and sleeping. Not many Amazons slept much that night, including Ephiny and Loggia. Ephiny squinted her eyes against the sunlight as she peeked out of her hut's front flap. A growl left her lips as she spied Thesia once again sneaking towards the Ceremonial Hut.

"Hades damn her!" She hissed and jumped out of bed, throwing a robe around her naked body.

"What is it?" Loggia asked sleepily.

"Stay here!" Ephiny ordered and ran out.

She sprinted the distance from her home to the Hut, cursing the rocks and gravel that cut into her bare feet. She intercepted Thesia just at the door.

"What do you think you're doing?" Ephiny demanded, pulling the Amazon warrior away from the entrance.

"I'm taking bets that I'll find them both fully dressed and sleeping on opposite sides of the bed!" Thesia pushed Ephiny away and barged through the entrance. Ephiny was right behind her, very fearful that she would find just that.

Ephiny's fears were unwarranted. Gabrielle lay sleeping, her head and arm resting peacefully against Xena's chest. A white sheet twisted cozily around their entwined bodies. Ephiny could not tell whether they were naked or not, but they appeared to be naked. She bit back a smile. Xena was awake, of course, and had her sword in hand. She lifted her head and her sword, careful not to disturb Gabrielle, and eyed Thesia with malice.

"Is there a problem?" Xena asked the Amazon with venom in her voice.

"Excuse the intrusion," Thesia fumbled, "We thought we heard a sound." It was a lame excuse.

"I bet you did." Xena said flatly, motioning with her sword, "Get out."

Thesia whirled and left wordlessly. Ephiny caught Xena's eye and gave her a "thumbs up." Xena winked back and smiled.

'The perfect ending. There's nothing she can say now! Thank you Xena and Gabrielle!' Ephiny mentally praised her friends for their brilliant performance as she walked back to her hut. The praise changed to a curse as she stepped on another rock.

Amazon drums beat loudly into the air, calling all sisters into attendance. This was not to be as happy a gathering as last night's, but it would be missed by no one, just the same. The center of the village filled to capacity. Xena stood beside Gabrielle on the platform, waiting for the commotion to settle down. Gabrielle was in full Amazon Queen attire with the feathered mask covering her features. There was no sign that the previous night had occurred at all. Ephiny eyed Xena closely. The warrior on the other hand appeared tired. 'Surely, she got some sleep?' Ephiny pondered to herself.

When everyone had settled down, Gabrielle began, "Who challenges my throne?"

"I do!" Thesia announced, stepping forward in full armor. She was young and tall, and very well muscled. Ephiny watched Xena size her up. The warrior betrayed no emotion whatsoever, except for perhaps a gleam of anticipation shining from within her azure eyes. Ephiny shuddered. She remembered what it was like to be on the receiving end of Xena's cold stare. She never wanted that to happen again.

"This is a fight to the death. Are you willing to risk your life just for a chance at a throne!" Gabrielle asked softly, almost woman to woman. Thesia blinked at Gabrielle's sudden compassion, then her eyes clouded over. "Of course, I wouldn't make the challenge if I wasn't." The warrior scoffed.

"So be it." Gabrielle waved her hand for the challenge to begin. "Your challenge for the right to wear the Mask of the Amazon Queen is accepted!"

Xena drew her sword and flipped it once with a deadly grin. This did not surprise Thesia, she was expecting to have to battle Xena. Now that they were joined, she and Gabrielle were one and the same.

Xena jumped off of the platform and waited. She watched Thesia move with the eyes of an eagle.

The two warriors circled each other for what seemed like forever. Neither one wanting to be the first to attack. Xena grew impatient and relaxed her stance, tapping her sword in an open palm. She raised an eyebrow.

"Well, do you want to fight or do you want to dance?"

The flippant remark flew Thesia into a frenzied rage. She lunged at Xena with a down swing. Xena blocked the strike easily and whirled away. The Warrior Princess laughed now, swinging her sword in figure eights around the front of her body. Thesia stayed at a cautious distance and waited.

Xena suddenly flipped into the air with a piercing warrior cry, landing squarely in the dirt behind Thesia. She kicked Thesia in the back, sending her flying into the dirt. Ephiny shook her head. Xena was playing with Thesia. "She better be careful." Ephiny whispered a silent warning. Gabrielle heard her, glancing back briefly.

It didn't take long for Thesia to recover. She attacked Xena viciously with a barrage of sword strokes. Xena effectively blocked each and every one. A swipe to Xena's head missed Xena as she ducked. A counter-swipe to Thesia's head by the Warrior Princess missed as well. Xena tried a fancy maneuver in an attempt to flip Thesia's sword from her grip, but the attempt failed. Thesia laughed, flipping her own sword once triumphantly.

The arrogant move left Thesia exposed for a moment, and Xena tried to take advantage by jumping up to lock Thesia in a scissors grip with her legs to bring her down, but Thesia saw the move and dropped out of the way. Xena crashed to the ground in surprise.

Thesia lunged from above with a mighty downstroke, but Xena managed to roll over and block the swing with her own sword. The strike was blocked cold. The Amazon warrior grunted and pressed her sword down on the Warrior Princess's sword with all her strength.

Without warning, a knife appeared in Thesia's other hand. Xena had no idea where it had come from, but she adjusted quickly to catch Thesia's wrist with her free hand, before the Amazon could plunge it into her. They stayed locked like this for several agonizing moments. Their swords locked in a block, and Xena's wrist holding off the knife. Both warrior's teeth were clenched in determination. The knife began to inch its way closer to Xena's chest. Ephiny gasped. Xena was tiring. She looked worriedly at Gabrielle who was trying to maintain her composure. She was clasping her fists open and closed in frustration. Ephiny looked down at her own hand to find she was doing the same.

Suddenly, the impossible happened. Not for any reason, other than luck, the swords slid apart sending Thesia crashing down unexpectedly to the left. The unanticipated movement caught Xena off guard and sent the knife plunging into the warrior's shoulder. Thesia jumped back in surprise. Xena growled in pain. Ephiny had to restrain Gabrielle.

Gabrielle was struggling violently against Ephiny trying to get to Xena. Xena looked towards the platform at Gabrielle, distracted for a moment. She managed to get to one knee and then saw Thesia winding up for a final swing that would behead the Warrior Princess.

The swing left the Amazon Warrior completely exposed. With no regard for her pain whatsoever, Xena grasped the knife embedded in her own shoulder and tore it out, sending it spinning into Thesia's heart.

The Amazon Warrior stared at the knife in surprise and horror, and then fell to the dirt. Dead.

Xena stumbled back to the ground, trying to stop her flowing blood with her fingers.

Ephiny released Gabrielle, and they both bolted to the fallen warriors. Gabrielle ran to Xena. Ephiny ran to Thesia and checked for a pulse.

"She's dead." Ephiny announced to her sisters. "The Mask remains with Gabrielle." There was no dissent. Ephiny looked to Xena. Gabrielle was lifting her up with the help of Loggia. Eponin, the other member of the council, ran up and assisted as well.

Xena smiled weakly at Ephiny.

"Well, that was exciting." Ephiny said flatly, "Couldn't you have killed her without getting hurt? What's the matter, didn't you get any sleep last night?"

Gabrielle looked up at Xena and blushed, "I don't know," Xena answered with a grin, "Was I supposed to?"

Ephiny shook her head and laughed, "Let's get you sewed up. Come on."

They all helped Xena over to the healer's hut. Another challenge to the throne thwarted.


Ephiny walked into the shade of the awning and sat down at the table with Xena and Gabrielle. They were eating a mid-day meal in the common kitchen. Xena's shoulder was bandaged and her arm hung in a sling.

"How are you feeling?" Ephiny asked the Warrior Princess.

Xena swallowed a mouthful of bread, and washed it down with a bit of port, "Fine," she answered smiling.

Gabrielle smiled warmly and greeted Loggia and Eponin as they entered the shade as well, and sat on either side of Ephiny.

"Well, now that this is over, the Council will have to talk about whether your joining can be dissolved." Ephiny decided to get the topic over with. Xena and Gabrielle looked briefly at each other. "You know, there really is no such thing as divorce in the Amazon Nation. But this was a special circumstance, so maybe, well maybe, the rules can be bent.....this time." Ephiny smiled and looked to the other memebers of the Council, anticipating their unanimous consent. Loggia looked back at her lover in amazement.

"What are you talking about?" Loggia asked Ephiny, kicking her with her foot under the table.

"What?" Ephiny frowned at Loggia's kick, "I'm sure Xena and Gabrielle don't really want to stay joined!" Ephiny scolded her naive lover.

"It's alright, Ephiny," Xena's voice got Ephiny's attention, "You don't have to bother. It's better this way. Next time Gabrielle is challenged, we won't have to go through this all over again." Xena looked down at the bard for her agreement. Gabrielle smiled and looked back up at the warrior nodding once. They both turned their smiles to Ephiny. Hidden under the table, Gabrielle slyly worked her hand over to cover Xena's. Xena took hold of the hand and squeezed.

Ephiny narrowed her eyes at the two of them, not sure whether to be angry at the affront to a sacred Amazon tradition, or impressed by the logic of their argument.

Loggia and Eponin rolled their eyes at each other behind Ephiny's back. Loggia laid a soft hand on Ephiny's shoulder, "Just leave it Ephiny. Xena and Gabrielle know what they're doing. Right?" Loggia turned to look at the newly joined couple.

Xena and Gabrielle smiled and nodded together, "Right!" They replied in unison. Xena gave Gabrielle's hand a second hidden squeeze. Gabrielle surpressed a giggle.

Ephiny acquiesced, "Well alright, if it's ok with the council, then it's ok with me." The Amazon leader decided to change the subject.

"So, what are you two going to do next?"

"Well, my sword arm is incapacitated; we can't very well go back on the road. Not until it heals anyway." Xena explained.

"We were hoping you would let us stay here until she healed," Gabrielle finished.

"Of course. You're more than welcomed to stay as long as you like!" Ephiny replied with a smile.

"Great!" Gabrielle said thankfully.

"This could be our 'honeymoon', since I really can't afford anything more. Sorry Gabrielle." Xena looked to the bard and laughed.

Ephiny stood up in a huff.

"You know, I really don't find this funny at all! A joining is very sacred in Artemis' eyes, and in the Nation's eyes, as well. I don't appreciate you two making fun of it!" Ephiny jumped up from the bench and began to stomp away.

She was stopped dead in her tracks, by Xena and Gabrielle's reply in unison, "We weren't."

The Amazon turned around just in time to see Xena and Gabrielle breaking off from a warm kiss. Loggia and Eponin were smiling happily.

"Hut?" Xena asked Gabrielle.

"Hut!" Gabrielle agreed. They stood and walked by Ephiny, who watched dumbfounded, her mouth hanging wide open.

Xena stopped briefly at the Amazon and raised an eyebrow, "Is there a problem?"

She didn't wait for Ephiny's reply, but gently pushed Gabrielle along towards the Ceremonial Hut. Ephiny's eyes followed them, her mouth still agape.

She watched in total surprise, as Xena, despite her wound, deftly swept Gabrielle up into her arms and carried her over the threshold and into the warm darkness beyond.

Ephiny was speechless.

Loggia stood and walked over behind Ephiny. She leaned her chin on her lover's shoulder and shut her mouth closed with gentle fingertips.

"You're going to catch some big flies, if you stand here with your mouth hanging open like this!" Loggia laughed softly into Ephiny's ear.

Ephiny kept her mouth closed and swallowed.

"What's the matter," Loggia teased, "Did that surprise you?"

Ephiny didn't answer, but looked very embarrassed into her lover's eyes.

"Come on, you big dumb warrior. I've got a few surprises for you myself."

Loggia pulled the silent Ephiny to their own Ceremonial Hut.



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