Disclaimer & Notices: See Prologue.


The Bluest Eyes in Greece
by Red Hope

Chapter 1 – Warrior… Goddess

“Hold on, Gabrielle! I’m coming for you!”

Gabrielle dropped her head back and tried to grip the tree root tighter. She couldn’t control her frantic heartbeat when Velasca’s laugh echoed in the ruins. She lifted her head and gazed past her boot tips at the tornado and lightening bolts.

Xena moved swiftly and made a jump for a long stick buried in the ground. She wrapped her body around it just as it snapped from her weight and the wind’s pull. She rolled around on the ground and was dragged towards the tornado, and Gabrielle.

The bard let out a scream when Xena came at her side. “Xena?”

“I gotcha.” The Warrior Princess clutched the tree root with one hand and ordered, “Hold onto me.”

Gabrielle clung to her friend’s body and hid her face into Xena’s neck.

Xena released the tree root, and she and Gabrielle went sliding across the ground towards the tornado. She gave a brief warcry and dug the stick’s end into the ground. She and Gabrielle lifted into the air and glided past the tornado and to safety.

Gabrielle was stunned but relieved, and Xena quickly pulled her behind a fallen column.

“We have to get her to the lava pit,” the warrior explained.

“I’m the bait,” the bard reminded, “Where I go, she’ll follow me.”

Xena shook her head so that her hair was out of the way. “Go across the rope bridge, as fast as you can. I’ll follow behind and slow her down.”

“Xena,” Gabrielle argued, “she’s too powerful.”

“Just do as I say,” the warrior holler over the wind. “Take my chakram.” She unhooked it and handed it to her friend. “When I tell you to go, make a run.”

The bard glanced at the circular weapon in her hand. She swallowed and peered up at her friend. “Xena, be safe… please.”

The warrior smiled and touched her friend’s arm. “Always.” She turned her head to the left and saw that the tornado was slowing down. “Get ready.”

“Gabrielle!” called out Velasca’s voice. “Where are you?”

“Go, now,” Xena ordered.

The Amazon Queen popped up from her hiding spot and made a dash through the ruins.

Velasca formed in the middle of the ruins and laughed. She raised her right hand at Gabrielle’s back. “You are mine, Gabrielle!”

“Chaaaaaaayaaaa!” The Warrior Princess somersaulted from the hiding spot and made a very lucky calculation when she landed. She raised her sword horizontally just as the lightening bolt came at her.

Velasca suddenly had wide eyes when the lightening bolt reflected off the warrior’s sword and came at her. She ducked just in time and straightened up with angry features. “Please, Xena.” She stalked up to the warrior. “I’ve had enough of you.”

Gabrielle had made it out of the ruins. She’d taken a few steps out on the rope bridge, but her stomach pitched when she saw how high she was from the lava river below. She hesitated, freed her right hand that still held the chakram, and she quickly hooked the chakram through her arm. She now had a better grip on the rope bridge, and she forced herself to go across it. After another five steps, Gabrielle stopped when she heard her friend’s scream.

Xena came soaring through the air, backwards, and she slammed onto her back just near the ledge of the pit. She had a bloody face and her right leg was cut badly. She forced herself up onto her hands, and she gazed at the rope bridge.

Gabrielle had stopped and partially turned. She gasped at her friend’s beaten and bloody body. “Xena?” she yelled. “Oh gods.”

“Go, Gabrielle!” the warrior hollered. She inhaled sharply and snatched up her sword by her body. She turned her head when she heard the evil goddess’s footsteps.

Velasca held her unsheathed sword at her side. She studied the bard out on the bridge, then she lowered her eyes to the slowly standing warrior. “She’s really not worth it, Xena.”

The Warrior Princess fully stood and held out her sword at the goddess. She tightly gripped the handle with both hands. “Oh she is,” Xena replied with conviction. She suddenly lunged at the goddess.

Velasca sighed and easily parred the warrior’s attack. She was tired of Xena so she put all her effort and strength into the fight.

Xena felt the weakness come over her. She still wouldn’t back down until she was sure Gabrielle was across the bridge. She stopped many of Velasca’s lunges and slashes, but one made it past her defense and cut her across the chest.

Velasca took her opening and commanded, “Enough!” She prepared her powers so that she could throw Xena into the pit.

Xena knew what was about to happen so she came at the goddess. She quickly moved her left hand to Velasca’s belt and made a grab for the small pouch.

Velasca surged her powers at Xena and threw Xena out over the lava pit.

The warrior cried out and lost her sword in midair, yet her left hand’s grip was sure. She made her descent and came at the rope bridge.

Gabrielle was only a few steps away from the other side. She stopped and held her breath when her friend started to fall. She screamed, “Xena!”

The Warrior Princess grabbed the bottom rope with her right hand. Her body came to a jerking stop, but she made it.

Velasca was surprised, but she didn’t much care. She walked out onto the rope bridge and started for the warrior. She paused after a few steps and lifted her right hand. “Goodbye, Xena.”

Xena glimpsed at the evil goddess. She anticipated the lightening bolt, and she quickly bounced the rope bridge with her body weight.

Velasca shot her bolt, which went erratic thanks to the bouncing. She completely missed the warrior and just barely held onto the bridge. She growled, spun her sword, and decided to come after the warrior.

Xena knew she only had a minute left before she either lost her grip or Velasca skewered her. She quickly worked to open the small pouch in her left hand.

Gabrielle finally made it across, and she extracted the chakram from her arm. “Xena?” she called. She glanced at the evil goddess.

The warrior had the pouch’s flap open, and she wiggled her two fingers into the pouch. She felt the slippery, soft contents in her fingers. She held her breath and released the pouch.

Velasca paused when she saw what was in the Warrior Princess’s left hand. “No,” she rasped and checked her right side. She gaped when she realized it was in fact true that Xena had taken her last piece of ambrosia.

Xena smirked at the goddess and glimpsed at Gabrielle. She’d promised Gabrielle that she’d do whatever it took to protect her from the insane goddess. Earlier she’d resolved to give up her mortality if it came down to it. The warrior lifted the ambrosia to her lips.

“By the gods,” Gabrielle whispered in shock. “No.”

Velasca quickly tried to move across the bridge, but she was too far.

Xena slipped the wiggly ambrosia into her mouth and quickly digested it. She then gripped the rope with both hands as the ambrosia hastily transformed her from mortal into god. She dropped her head back, closed her eyes, and released a silent cry.

Velasca shielded her white eyes when the lightening bolts pulled into Xena’s body. She turned her head back and found the warrior was easily pulling herself back up on the rope. She also noted how Xena’s body was now perfectly healed as if the fights never happened.

The Warrior Princess balanced her feet on the rope bridge with perfect accuracy. She grew smug at Velasca’s blanched features.

Velasca took in the warrior’s godhood. What completely captivated Velasca were Xena’s bright blue eyes that were enhanced by the godhood. She swore the skies were held in Xena’s eyes. She steeled her fears and quickly came at the warrior.

Xena was plenty prepared to take on Velasca now that they were on even ground. She hastily halted the former Amazon’s pursuit by using the lightening bolts.

Velasca shot her left hand up and returned the lightening bolt. She gritted her teeth when her bolt slammed into Xena’s, and they fought.

“Gabrielle,” Xena hollered, “do it now!”

Gabrielle was frozen by what’d happened, but she shook it away. She held up the chakram and stopped. “Xena, I can’t-”

“Do it!”

Velasca and Xena both dropped their bolts from lack of strength. Velasca cried out and charged after the warrior.

Xena raised her hands up and prepared to stop the sword attack. She neatly caught the blade in her right hand and landed a punch to Velasca’s face. “Now, Gabrielle!”

The evil goddess finally realized what Xena was telling the bard to do. She caught sight of the shiny chakram in the Amazon Queen’s raised hand. “Noooo!”

The warrior wrapped her arms around Velasca and held her from going anywhere. “Cut the ropes, Gabrielle!”

Gabrielle held her breath and brought down the chakram at the left rope. She easily sliced it, and she lifted her arm to take out the right rope.

Velasca struggled against Xena and to keep her balance. She started to lose the battle when both ropes were gone. “I’m not going without you,” she snarled and held tightly to the other goddess.

Xena had no plans to go with Velasca. She started to slightly topple to the right, but she used her powers to break Velasca from her body. The power explosion between their bodies sent Xena flying towards Gabrielle’s direction while Velasca fell towards the lava pit.

“Nooooo!” Velasca hollered.

The Warrior Princess slammed into the cliff wall and managed her hands into some rocks. She stopped her fall and tightly gripped the rock. She was surprised when her fingers dug into the rock.

Gabrielle dropped the chakram to the ground, and she got onto her stomach. “Xena, take my hand.” She stretched her right hand as far down as she could.

The warrior climbed up higher then managed her right hand into Gabrielle’s. She and Gabrielle worked to get her up the cliff side and over the ledge.

Gabrielle fall onto her back and rasped for air.

Xena flopped onto her back too and stared up at the beautiful sky that mimicked her eyes.

The bard started to catch her breath, and she hotly demanded, “Why did you do that?” She turned her head to her friend.

The warrior played dumb and questioned, “Do what?” She earned a smack on her side, which made her grin. She turned her head to Gabrielle and lost her smirk at the bard’s serious features.

Gabrielle lost her train of thought when she found those magnificent blue eyes upon her. She found no words that would ever describe how blue Xena’s eyes were now. She felt so alive when she stared into them.

Xena gradually arched an eyebrow when she realized she completely lost the bard. “Gabrielle?”

“Huh?” The Amazon Queen refocused herself and tried to become annoyed again. “The ambrosia,” she snapped but there wasn’t much bite behind her words.

The warrior shrugged and casually replied, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

The bard groaned and covered her face with her hands. “Great,” she muffled between her hands. She dropped her hands to the ground again. “Just great.”

“It’s not that bad, Gabrielle.”

Gabrielle shot a glower at her partner. “I suppose it’s better than you still being dead,” she coldly remarked. She sighed at her nasty words, and she quickly sat up. She scooped up the warrior’s chakram but larger hands held hers still.

The warrior took the chakram from the bard’s hands and set it down on the ground again. She sat up better and turned to her friend. “Gabrielle, I’m sorry about my death… that I just gave up.” She paused when the bard bowed her head slightly. “I won’t apologize for the ambrosia though. It was my only choice out there on that rope bridge. I wasn’t about to let Velasca kill you.”

Gabrielle kept her head down, and she closed her eyes. She sighed and raised her head back up. “I’m sorry, Xena.” She understood that Xena made a sacrifice by giving up her mortality. “I just…”

The warrior understood, and she patted her friend’s hands. “Come on.” She stood up after she decided they could talk about this later.

The bard swallowed and climbed up to her feet with Xena’s chakram in hand. She held it out to her partner.

The Warrior Princess hooked the weapon into its home. She turned on her boot heels and peered over the ledge.

“How long you think it’ll hold her?” Gabrielle clutched the warrior’s hip.

“I hope for eternity,” the warrior murmured.

Gabrielle lifted her view to her friend. “What about your sword?”

Xena frowned at the question and carefully scanned the cliff for her sword.

The bard crinkled her nose and grinned. “Can’t you just poof it up?”

Xena lifted her right eyebrow and smirked at the bard’s suggestion. “Let’s see…” She closed her eyes and concentrated on her sword and also Gabrielle’s staff. She lifted her hands and suddenly they were filled with metal and wood.

Gabrielle brightened at seeing her staff. “That’s a nice trick.” She received her cherished staff from the warrior.

Xena opened her eyes and smiled at her sword. She swiftly sheathed it. “We’ll have to take the long way around with the bridge out… but we have time.”

The bard glanced at the lava pit. “Hmmm.” She smiled up at her partner, who was now a goddess. “Come on, oh godly one.” She tugged on Xena’s wrist.

Xena followed along but teased, “I kind of like the ring to that.”

Gabrielle released Xena’s wrist, but she flashed a smirk at the new god. “Oh don’t let your head go to Mount Olympus.”

Xena chuckled and strolled along side her partner. “So, what should my title be?”

The bard rolled her eyes, yet she’d play along despite how worried she was about Xena’s godhood. “How about the Goddess of Smartasses.”

“Hmmm,” the warrior seriously considered it. “No… that’s just missing something. Goddess of Warriors always works.”

Gabrielle chuckled and peered up at her friend. “And you want a following of smelly warriors?”

Xena crinkled up her nose at the idea. “You do have a point.” She brought her arm around the bard’s shoulders and tormented, “You’re the only follower I need.”

“Ha, ha.” Gabrielle shook her head and remarked, “You know, this is pretty serious.”

Xena inwardly sighed, but she had to face the facts. “I know.” She removed her arm.

“You think one of the gods could help?” Gabrielle carefully tried, yet she knew her idea was already rejected by the raised eyebrow from Xena. “I mean what about Aphrodite?”

“Oooh no,” the warrior argued, “she’ll only make it worse.”

“Xena, we don’t have many options,” the bard argued.

Xena sensed the worry and fear mixed in the bard’s words. Then her godhood only magnified the bard’s emotions, and Xena wanted to ebb them quickly. “We’ll figure it out. Right now, we just need to get back to the nation so they know you’re okay.”

“We’re okay,” the queen corrected.

“We’re okay,” the warrior softly agreed.

Gabrielle relented and nodded. She tried to become casual again and lightly teased, “How about Goddess of Flowers… or Goddess of Bows…. better yet-”

“Knock it off, Gabrielle,” the warrior warned.

The bard smirked at her friend and teased, “Goddess of Grumps might work too.”

Xena playfully growled and lifted her hands.

Gabrielle’s eyes became large, and she squealed at Xena’s intent. She made a run for it through the woods.

The Warrior Princess devilishly laughed and chased after her prey. She found running always easy after so much training, but she noticed it was even easier thanks to the godhood. She also discovered her speed was much faster than normal, but she didn’t push herself because she wanted to give Gabrielle the lead.

The Amazon Queen ducked under low branches and dodged around various brush. She then noticed ahead there was a road because of the slight incline. She was thankful because it could mean another way over the lava pit. She then heard a low whistle coming up behind her, and she became fearful.

Xena was a blur, and she swiftly caught up to her partner. All her warrior instincts were alive, and she was fearful for Gabrielle’s life again. There was something in the air that caught her senses. She came up behind the bard, who slightly yelled. Xena hooked her left arm around the bard’s waist to stop her from running, and with her right hand, she covered the bard’s mouth.

Gabrielle’s cry became muffled, and she stopped when she saw Xena’s serious expression.

“Be quiet,” the warrior softly instructed. She removed her hand and pointed at the road just ahead through the trees. “Something is coming.”

“They’ll see us from here,” the bard murmured.

Xena tilted her head back and gazed up at the tree branches and heavy foliage. “Hang on.” She stepped behind her partner, grasped the petite hips, and she bent her knees. “And stay quiet.”

The bard wasn’t completely prepared for Xena’s impossible jump. She just bit back her small yelp, and she soon found her boots on a tree branch. She slightly teetered on the branch, but Xena held her steady. She also used her staff to help her balance on the branch.

Xena easily craned her neck over Gabrielle’s head. She narrowed her eyes when she picked out the wagon wheels on the road better. Next she heard the soldiers’ marching boot steps, and their metal armor clanked.

“It’s an army,” the bard whispered, “What would they be doing out here?”

“I’m not sure,” the warrior replied. She waited patiently until the soldiers were in her view. She hoped she could pick up a lead when she saw the dress style of the soldiers.

Gabrielle saw them the same time as Xena, and she sucked in a breath. “It’s the Athenian Army.”

“Not the entire army,” the warrior whispered, “but a nice size none-the-less.”

The Amazon Queen carefully thought about why the army was out here. The only civilization were her Amazons and the Centaurs. “Do you think we should talk to them?”

Xena had a few suspicions about why the army was in this area. She didn’t much like her conclusions. She considered the bard’s idea but explained, “I think it’s better to follow them.”

Gabrielle was concerned, but she silently agreed with her partner. She remained quiet while the army marched past. She then peered up at the warrior once they were gone. “Follow them?”

“Mmmhmmm.” Xena tightly held Gabrielle’s hips, and she hopped them off the branch. She neatly landed with Gabrielle in front of her.

Gabrielle hurried up onto the road and took in the deep tracks from the wagons. She sensed Xena bent beside her, and she watched how Xena traced the fresh ruts with her fingertips. “It’s a heavy load, isn’t it?”

The Warrior Princess slowly stood up. “Yeah.” She stared down the road in the same direction that her and Gabrielle would have to go to make it back to the nation. “Come on.” She walked down the road and Gabrielle followed along side.

The pair traveled down the road for several hours, and Xena was able to detect the army the entire time. She found her heightened senses quite rewarding because of the godhood. She was able to easily follow the army without having to get too close. Just before sunset, she heard the army pull off the road. She suspected that the main, stone bridge across the lava pit wasn’t too far from here, nor was Amazon territory.

Xena and the bard trailed off the road and discovered a clearing that was a safe distance from the Athenian Army. Gabrielle went about getting a campfire started, and Xena hunted for dinner. Just when Gabrielle finished building a temporary spit, the warrior strolled in with two rabbits.

“Here.” Xena offered a handful of sage she’d found during her hunt.

Gabrielle brightened and took the herb. She neatly managed it on and in the rabbits. She then put the skewered rabbits on the spit and hoped for a good meal. She took in the soft grass near the fire and carefully considered where she and Xena would sleep tonight. Last night she hadn’t slept at all because she was too afraid of Velasca showing up. Now that was behind her, and she actually felt exhausted.

Xena sat beside her friend and crossed her legs into a comfortable position.

The bard bumped her shoulder against the warrior’s. “So what’s it feel like?”

“Hmmm?”

Gabrielle sighed and urged, “Being a god?”

The Warrior Princess shrugged and nonchalantly answered, “Nottin’ special.”

The bard huffed and smirked then teased, “The Goddess of Many Words.”

Xena mock glared at her friend. “I might be the Goddess of De-barding.”

Gabrielle laughed at the awful joke. “Is that sorta like plucking the feathers off a chicken?”

“I don’t know… let’s find out.” The god reached for the bard.

Gabrielle yelped and jumped up from her spot. “Now, Xena.”

The warrior smirked, and her bright blue eyes revealed a dangerous glint. “Sit down… I won’t do anything.”

“Promise?” the bard demanded.

Xena showed a lopsided smile and softly replied, “Promise.” After the bard sat, she muttered, “For now.”

Gabrielle glared at her partner. “I heard you.” She was silent for a few beats then seriously questioned, “Why you think the Athenian Army is coming this way?”

The goddess studied the bard’s concerned features, but she knew she had to give her suggestion. “They’re headed for Amazon territory.” She let the information sink in, then she gently added, “Nobody comes this way unless they’re going to the Amazons or Centaurs.”

“Okay… potentially they’re taking a shortcut through the Amazon territory.” Gabrielle prayed that was the case, but that sinking feeling in her told her otherwise. “To go to… wherever.” She sadly sighed and questioned, “You really think they’re headed for the Amazons?”

“There’s not much else reason to be here or headed this way, Gabrielle.”

“For once, I wish you were wrong,” the bard murmured.

Xena stretched out her right arm and turned the rabbits. “I wish I am too.” She sat back in her same position.

Gabrielle peered up at her friend. “Well, your godhood may just come in handy.”

The warrior grunted and didn’t comment back.

The bard remained quiet, but she mulled over Xena’s new godhood. Another thought came to mind so she asked, “Do you feel anything? I mean emotionally.”

“I thought I wouldn’t,” Xena mentioned, “but it seems to be the opposite in fact.” She noticed Gabrielle’s curious stare. She tried to better explain it. “I seem to feel emotions more but not in an emotional sense. More like…” She paused and searched for the right words. “More like I sense emotions better.”

“You’re more aware of them,” the bard summarized. After the explanation, she grinned wildly. “So what you’re really saying is that you’ll be better at the sensitive talks.”

The warrior laughed at Gabrielle’s instant assumption. “I don’t know about that.”

“Well,” Gabrielle teased, “this bard can dream.” She stood up and took care of the rabbits.

The goddess observed her friend and mentally repeated Gabrielle’s last words. She’d come to understand a lot about Gabrielle ever since she’d been in Gabrielle’s body. Just as she’d come to know Autolycus’s true self, she also understood her friend. Xena knew there were depths of emotions that floated in the bard and many centered on Xena. The next step was for Xena to bring them up, but there hadn’t been a right time for the matter.

Gabrielle and Xena quietly ate the rabbits together, but Xena only ate about half. She was far from hungry, which she assumed was from the godhood. Gabrielle questioned her, and Xena’s smart remark was that she was simply full from the ambrosia. Gabrielle returned a smack to the warrior’s side, but she polished off the remaining rabbit.

Once Gabrielle cleaned up after the meal, she felt rather worn out. She’d rested on her back in the soft grass by the campfire. She had her staff at her side, and her hands tucked under her head.

The warrior wasn’t at all tired, and she suspected she wouldn’t need any sleep. She felt somewhat tense because of the army being so near, but she hadn’t sensed any nearby threats from them. She figured the army would pack up at first light, and they would need to follow.

Gabrielle rotated her head to the right and observed her friend, who sat in front of the fire. “Xena, lay down.”

“Mmmm.” The warrior stretched out her legs and leaned back on her hands. “I’m not tired.”

The Amazon Queen considered the response and closed her eyes. “The godhood huh?” She sighed but teasingly offered, “You could always go stalk around in the Athenian Army. I’m sure they’ll never notice you.”

“It’s tempting,” the warrior granted. She knew she could easily maneuver through the camp since she was a god.

“I’ll be fine here,” the bard argued. She briefly yawned and covered her open mouth. She slipped her hand back under her head.

Xena shook her feet in front of her. She debated the idea.

“Go on before I fall asleep,” the bard offered.

The warrior gave in and jumped to her feet. “I won’t be long.”

“Mmmhmmm.” Gabrielle opened her eyes and gazed up into blue ones that reflect the firelight. Her heart missed a beat at the beautiful sight, but Gabrielle recovered. “I’ll be here.”

Xena grinned then turned and disappeared into the dark woods.

The Amazon Queen rolled onto her side, faced the fire, and tried to stay awake by watching it.

Xena though hurried through the woods at a fast speed. She came to a stop when she neared the perimeter of the army’s camp. She squatted behind some brush and scanned for patrol. She soon spotted a soldier coming in her direction so she hid deeper into the brush. When he was close enough, Xena shot out her hands and grabbed his ankles.

The soldier fell to this back and before he could give a yell there was dark woman over him. He then lost consciousness when a fist connected with his head.

The warrior left the soldier hidden in the brush, and she headed for the camp carefully. She hid behind trees and finally came to the outskirts of the camp. She ducked behind a tent just when three soldiers passed. Once they were gone, she hastily snuck across the open space and went behind another tent. She heard a few voices inside, but it was only soldiers chatting away about nothing important. She ignored it and looked around the corner. She finally spotted the main tent where the commander would be located.

Xena moved swiftly through the dark camp and went around any fires or soldiers. She finally made it to the other side where the commander’s tent was located. She knelt behind the rear of the tent and attempted to make out the voices, but they were too low. She concentrated harder, and her godhood increased her hearing ability.

“They won’t surrender,” one man argued.

“I don’t expect them to,” agreed a second man. “Not after how they ruined the temple.”

“It still doesn’t make sense why they did it, commander,” mentioned the first man. “The Amazons have always worshiped Artemis, and for them to attack and destroy the temple doesn’t make sense.”

The commander was silent but finally replied, “It’s not our place to question why. We have our orders.” He moved about in the tent and ordered, “I want the army prepared to move after dawn. We don’t have far to go and build a temporary base in the valley. From there we’ll prepare to attack the Amazons.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll see to the men.” The officer saluted his commander and marched out of the tent.

Xena straightened up from her hidden spot. She didn’t much like the news nor did she hear anything about the destruction of Artemis’s temple. She agreed it didn’t make sense that the Amazons would do such a thing.

Suddenly several soldiers ran into the camp and yelled about an intruder. They rallied other men and sounded the alarm around the camp.

Xena cursed and debated what to do next. She mostly feared that they would spread out their search efforts and find Gabrielle. She hadn’t been carefully enough when she knocked out the patrol guard. Well there went any theory that godhood meant perfection.

The warrior debated her first step, but she decided to finally give into her godhood. She spotted several soldiers coming her way, and they would spot her in a matter of seconds. She closed her eyes and focused on the one power she’d seen many gods use in the past. Xena reopened her eyes and smirked when the soldiers approached her but didn’t see her. The invisibility worked perfectly.

Xena sidestepped the soldiers before she was bumped into by mistake. She then casually started through the camp and passed the fast moving soldiers. She wondered why she hadn’t used the power before now. Once she was out of camp, she made a fast dash for her camp and hoped Gabrielle hadn’t been discovered.

In the small camp, Gabrielle shot up and grabbed her staff when she heard the whistle sound. She sighed in relief when the blur formed into Xena. “Gods… do you have to do that? As if just disappearing and reappearing out of the woods wasn’t enough to scare me.” She patted her heavily pounding chest.

The warrior came closer and knelt down. “Sorry. I was worried.”

The bard read the tension that flowed through the goddess. She tilted her head and asked, “Did they spot you?”

“Sorta,” Xena admitted, “the guard I knocked out woke up sooner than I expected.”

“You know,” Gabrielle ranted, “you could have just used that invisibility trick and walked in there without being seen.”

The warrior arched an eyebrow at Gabrielle’s suggestion.

The bard sighed at the look. “Yeah, I know… you like to be creative and sneaky.” She set her staff back down then lowered onto her back again. “Did you find out anything?”

“Yes and no,” Xena honestly replied.

“Mmmm.” Gabrielle stared up at her friend and waited for more details.

The warrior sighed and sat down. She didn’t sense any danger around them. “They are headed for the Amazons.”

The Amazon Queen released a low moan of annoyance. “Why can’t anything ever be simple and quiet with us?”

“Would you really have left Potidaea then?” the warrior teased.

Gabrielle sent a dark look to her friend. “Did you find out why?”

Xena sighed but answered, “Kind of. The Amazons destroyed a temple to Artemis, and it sounds like they have orders to punish the nation.”

“What?” Gabrielle shot up from her spot. “What temple? When? How?” She looked to Xena for the answers.

The warrior held up her hands. “I don’t know… I didn’t hear that part.” She lowered them back to her lap. “It’s not getting solved tonight, Gabrielle. Just get some rest.”

Gabrielle realized her partner was right so she settled back down. She didn’t like knowing exactly why the Athenian Army was headed for her nation, but she couldn’t do much tonight about it. She hadn’t slept last night so she was now exhausted. She needed some sleep so she could think clearly tomorrow.

Xena watched her friend slowly drift off to her dreamscape. She felt deeply for her partner, who hadn’t slept well in several nights since Xena’s accident that ended in her death. She hoped Gabrielle’s sleep would be more fitful than the previous nights.

To be continued.