Introducing New Xenaverse Characters Kicking Horse and (Sacred Moon) Mateksi
PART ONE by Ephiny
Ephiny and Eponin were eating the midday meal as snow fell outside. Ephiny was warm in her winter garb, a leather coat that had Amazonian markings at the cuffs and along the trim. Eponin was
wearing a similar coat, a gift from Ephiny for the holiday. Ephiny
also wore Xenon's gift. The young centaur and his mother had met on
Solstice so Ephiny could give her son his gift of new arrows,
fletched by Xena. Solstice was ending soon and everyone was enjoying
the peace of the winter season.
Several other tribeswomen were gathered around the fire, eating
meals, drinking mugs of whatever was available, or just conversing
with each other. Spirits were high and merry.
"Are you going to eat all that?" asked Eponin, pointing at the large
chunk of meat hanging from Ephiny's mouth. Ephiny popped the
remainder in her mouth and answered back with a grin, "Yes. Did you
want any of it?"
"Not now, you pig. You should leave some for the rest of us lowly
tribe members. Your appetite will get you into trouble one day!"
As they were finishing up their dinner, a messenger from the
Northern Amazons came into the village requesting to see the Regent.
A guard delivered the summons to Ephiny.
Saluting the Regent, the guard said, "Forgive me for interrupting
you meal, but someone is here to see you. She says it's urgent."
Nodding her head to the guard, Ephiny asked, "Where is this person
"From the Northern Amazons. By the looks of her, she's had a hard
Ephiny finished her drink and told her guard, "I'll see her in my
hut. Eponin, you're welcome to join me."
"Wouldn't miss it." stated Eponin.
A little while later, Ephiny, Eponin, and the visitor were inside
"...and that's why I'm here. Our queen requests that you come as
soon as you can. The attacks are becoming more frequent and we are
in great need of your support.We don't know why we are being
attacked. Every prisoner we've managed to captured has chosen to
kill himself rather than reveal any information." The guard sighed
quietly as she finished her message to the Regent.
Ephiny was quiet for several moments before she answered, mulling
over the news. Summoning the guard that was outside the door, she
said, "Please make sure our guest has food, water, and a warm bed so
she is rested before she has to return to her tribe." Looking back
to the messenger Ephiny told her, "I will meet with the council
shortly and tell them of your problem. I will need to get their
ideas on this before we decide. I don't foresee any reason why we
can't assist our sisters."
Saluting Ephiny as she left, "Thank you, Regent. With your leave."
The guard left Ephiny and Eponin.
Eponin looked at her friend. "I suppose I need to gather the council
for a meeting."
"Could you do that? I will meet everyone here. No need to rouse
concerns just yet. Everyone is enjoying the Solstice, let's just keep
this quiet for now. We'll be busy enough in a few days." Running her
fingers through her blond curls, Ephiny stood. "Guess I should look
queenly. I need to convince the council that it is time for a good
Eponin gave Ephiny a small smile before she left to get the council
The council met soon thereafter and it didn't take long for them to
decide to aid their northern sisters. Many of them had been ready
for a good fight and training was becoming routine and dull.
"When do we leave?" asked one.
"I'll take care of gathering the extra weapons" said another.
The thrill of an impending battle was coursing through the council
Ephiny addressed the council. "Let's get some rest tonight. Say
nothing to anyone else about this. I will announce our decision to
everyone tomorrow after we have midday meal. Rest well, Amazons."
The council dispersed and thankfully nothing was said to the women
in the tribe. The evening went normally, with nothing out of the
That evening as Eponin and Ephiny lay in their furs for the night,
Eponin rolled over and asked, "Do you think Xena would want to know
"One step ahead of you. Already sent someone out to her and
Gabrielle. Our Queen should be there, too. She's got some
interesting friends that can help too." Ephiny pointed over to the
new bow that she had been given by one of Xena's friends,
Kha. "Anyone who can craft that, must know what they are doing."
The next day, the village was buzzing with rumors about the stranger
and why they were being addressed by the Queen's Regent that
afternoon. Everyone had a theory as to what would happen.
Ephiny stepped up the platform and looked at her tribe. Fires
burned around the village to help keep everyone warm. "Sisters." A
hush fell quickly on the assembled Amazons. "Yesterday we received a
guest from our sisters up North. They are in dire need due to
recurring attacks on their tribe. It has been requested that we
assist in their fight." At the word 'fight', the tribe roared with
gusto. Ephiny waited for the voices to quieten. Raising her hand,
she motioned for calm. "My sisters. We go to fight a battle in which
we do not know our enemy. We only know the part of our nation is
being attacked. They have requested our help. Are you willing to
answer the call?" Cheers went up all around the village.
"The messenger from the other tribe has already left to deliver our
answer. In three days, we will leave for the north. Please prepare
accordingly." Ephiny dismissed the assembly and stepped down.
"You really know how to get them ready!" said Eponin, encouragingly.
"Maybe. I have a feeling that we will need all the help we can get.
With any luck, Xena should arrive there about the same time as we
do." Wrapping her arm around Eponin, Ephiny added, "Let's go get our
things ready. It's going to be an interesting fight."
PART TWO by Xena
It was a bitterly cold morning on the road. Gabrielle
had insisted that they stay in camp one more day as
she just wanted to stay buried in her sleeping furs.
Hoarfrost clung to every branch and Argo's breath blew
through her nostrils like a dragon's and ice clung on
the mare's nose whiskers and her eyelashes.
Xena listened to her lifemate's complaints as she
tried in vain to warm her hands in what was left of
their campfire after the long winter's night. Argo
snuffled right by her, picking up frozen tufts of
grass that just peeped above the snow's surface. The
warrior fondly scratched the horse's ears as she
"We have to keep moving, Gabrielle. If we stay still
too long we'll never wake up."
"Like that would be bad?"
"Let me rephrase that. We'll wake up on Charon's
"Oh." The bard fell silent, then grumbled loudly and
got out of bed. "COLD! COLD!" she chattered as she
hurriedly pulled on her traveling cloak.
Xena chuckled to herself as she watched Gabrielle
dance around the frozen camp trying to get her blood
moving. Even Argo seemed amused.
"CAW! CAW!" a raven flew overhead and then landed
nearby. Xena looked up and regarded the bird
thoughtfully. "Somebody's thinking of us." she said
halfway to herself.
"What? I can't hear you...my ears are frozen shut."
"Ravens are messengers, Gabrielle. It's said that when
one lands near you and looks you in the eye, that
somebody is wishing to get into contact with you.
Either in this world or...well, the next."
With another loud cry the Raven took flight and Xena
returned her thoughts to striking camp. That is, until
she heard the hoofbeats of an approaching horse.
Drawing her sword just in case of trouble, she stood
in the roadway. Not blocking it, just prepared should
the rider on the horse not be coming in friendship.
But one look at the horse and rider made her sheathe
her sword and hold up her hands above her head in a
sign of Amazon trust.
The Amazon Messenger pulled to a halt on the frozen
road, her horse out of breath but not winded (a
tribute to the rider's skills and bond with her
mount). She immediately dismounted and went to
Gabrielle, kneeling before her and holding up a scroll
for the bard to take from her. "For you, My Queen."
the warrior said. "And for your Consort."
Xena snorted at the term.
"You love it, don't deny it." Gabrielle teased her
partner, opening the scroll and ordering the Amazon to
"Xena, there's trouble."
"Fancy that." Xena added. "Somehow it's always about
trouble. What is it this time?"
Xena immediately cut short the joking and went to read
over the bard's shoulder. Her eyebrows rose as she
read the words. "It's serious all right."
"I await your response, My Queen. " The Amazon Warrior
"Tell Ephiny that of course we'll come. We'll meet up
with her....where will we meet up with her, Xena?"
Gabrielle had never traveled so far to the North,
although she had heard tales of the Northern Amazons
from Xena who had had prior dealings with them long
"There's an abandoned Amazon Village right before we
cross over the Northern Border." Xena told the
Messenger. "Ephiny knows of it, as does Solari and
Eponin. I gave them directions to it years ago in case
anything like this ever happened. We'll meet them
there and join forces."
With a bow of acceptance the Amazon Messenger
remounted her horse and was about to ride away when
Xena called out to her to stop.
"There's a friend of mine." she said, writing
directions on the back side of the scroll Gabrielle
had been holding. "Her name is Kha. She and her
husband Sennedjem are allies of ours. Last I heard
they were not far from here at this place." she
pointed to the hand drawn map. "You'll know her when
you see her. There aren't many Egyptians in Greece."
the warrior grinned.
"I have heard of this woman." The Messenger answered.
"Ephiny herself mentioned her and said you may know
where to find this woman and her husband. I'll go at
once to deliver the message to her." Taking the scroll
back from Xena she tucked it into her bag and then put
heels to flank and horse and rider rapidly disappeared
Gabrielle sighed. "So much for traveling South." she
grumbled. "Now we're going to where it's even
"It's not that that has me worried." Xena told her as
she drew her close. "It's that we're walking into an
unknown situation. I just hope it's not who I think it
PART THREE by Xena
"Sni." the Human Being spat into the freezing cold wind, peppered
with blowing snow. She patted the neck of her warhorse, and the
red/brown mare shook her mane as if agreeing that it was, indeed,
"I don't know, Tanka Suka...the wind tells me that things are going
to be bad before they get better between me and my People."
The liver colored mare lifted her nose to the wind and called
loudly. The woman on her back knew that signaled another rider
approaching and she scanned through the bad weather to see who it
was. Her hand rested behind her, ready to draw her bow if she needed
"Sha!" Exclaimed the rider as she got within earshot. "You are witko
tko ke...crazy! To ride alone in this weather...has your head left
your shoulders, my friend?"
It was Mateksi. Kicking Horse's best friend since early childhood.
Her name meant "Sacred Moon" in the tongue of their People, the
Lakota. She had just completed the Right of Passage and Initiation
to be a Holy Woman for the People; a Shamaness. Her standing with
the People was strong. Like Mato, the Bear.
Not like Kicking Horse, who had never felt on firm ground as far as
the People went. Just now, she had left to ride into a snowstorm to
get away from the taunting, from the teasing and humiliation.
Freezing to death on the open prairie, she thought, was better than
listening to their tongues waggle any more.
"Leaping Deer is getting a search party together." Mateksi informed
her blood sister. "If you ride back with me now, there will be no
"There is always trouble." came the reply, said harsher than Kicking
Horse had meant to sound. "Forgive my sharp tongue, my Sister. It's
"You don't belong there." the Shamaness replied.
"Hiya." the warrior shook her head no. "I don't belong *anywhere*.
I'm a woman who rides like a man...a warrior since I could walk. The
men are right! I'm not natural! I should ride out to meet the
Creator alone, with honor. Not live a lie in some man's tent
wishing daily to meet Death. My pony....the one that is ready to
break for riding. It's yours, Mateksi. Anything left back in my lodge
is yours, too. I don't know if I'll return, but I have to search my
Spirit for an answer. Maybe my Totems can tell me what the People
cannot. Maybe. Maybe I'm wrong and they are right, I don't know. But
I need to find out. Goodbye, I'll miss you."
Without waiting for an answer from her friend, Kicking Horse put
heels to flank and drove Red Dog into the swirling snow. She knew
she would never return to Camp...that Camp...again.
Sacred Moon watched her friend ride away, and then her Totem
appeared in her head and spoke clearly. "Follow" the voice told her,
and her Spirit answered "Ha." Yes.
"You, Kicking Horse, are crazy. You have always been crazy. Perhaps
I am crazy to follow you, but you are my blood sister, my best
friend and the first one to stand by me when I said I wanted to be a
Shamaness. So now I'll follow you into your craziness to help you
with your Quest. Creator help me." Her horse hurried after Red Dog
before the pony's tracks could be lost in the falling snow.....
PART FOUR by Leonie
"Ape miya, Kicking Horse!" Sacred Moon called after her friend. Her crazy, insane, wonderful friend. They'd been together since childhood and she was not going to abandon her now. Not when she needed her most. Not when she was so close to falling away from the edge.
"Hurry then Mateksi, I"m not staying close to here so long as I have too. You said yourself Leaping Deer was on his way."
"Would it be so terrible if they found us?" Mateksi ventured.
"Hiya! Do not start this again. I cannot change what I am. No more then 'they' can change who they are." With that said Kicking Horse turned Red Dog's head forward and the two women began their journey away from the only home they had ever known.
Mateksi looked over her shoulder once more. Though she could see nothing through the blizzard that was coming but she knew her once home lay behind her. With her brothers, sisters, her spiritual wa uspewicakiyapi. Mateksi shook her head to clear her thoughts. She was Shamaness now, there was no more Morning Sun could teach her. Had he not said so himself the day she was initiated. This was the right path. Following Kicking Horse where she would go, learning what was to be learned outside of the Lakota Tribe.
Clicking to her pony Wet Ears, Mateksi ducked her head and pulled her furs closer around her and tried to coax her pony into catching up with Red Dog.
PART FIVE by Ephiny
Back in the Amazon Village everyone was gathering supplies for the
trip and for potential battle. Healers were gathering herbs and
supplies for battle wounded and the warriors were polishing and
repairing weapons. The wind blew snow and fallen leaves about the
village in swirls, causing everyone to clutch their cloaks and furs
that much closer about them. Fires blazed around the village but
didn't help against the cold unless one was close enough to the fire.
Ephiny was meeting with the Council about the impending
travel. "Arrows. We need to make sure we have plenty since we are
likely to run out quickly in the first run of attacks. Blades, each
person should carry at least a spare. Horses... we have someone
taking care of those?" One person nodded. "Good. Hmmm... So far, so
good. Anyone care to add anything else?" Ephiny looked about the
Solari looked at the Regent. "We need more blankets. If it's this
cold, then it's likely to be a lot colder up north." Everyone nodded
in agreement. "Food we can scavenge ..." They heard the commotion of
the messenger returning from delivering her summons to Xena,
Gabrielle, and Kha. Ephiny left the group around the fire and met
with the messenger.
Noting the travelerís frost covered clothes and hair she said, "You
found Xena quickly. How soon can she arrive?"
Saluting Ephiny quickly, the woman replied through chattering
teeth, "Xena will meet us at the abandoned Amazon village near the
northern border. She said that you would know the place." As Ephiny
nodded, the messenger rubbed her hands together to generate some
warmth. She added, "Xena also had me forward the summons to Kha and
Sennedjem, the Egyptians."
"That's what I was hoping for. I am anxious to see what those two
can do in combat. Their reputation precedes them, and Xena certainly
can vouch for them." Again noticing the chill about the messenger,
Ephiny said, "Please make sure you get some food and warm yourself.
Thank you for returning so quickly."
The messenger saluted and left to find warmth and food. Ephiny
returned to the council. She recounted the information and after a
short talk, the council left to make ready.
The next morning, the majority of the tribe was ready to leave. The
weather was slightly warmer and travel looked promising. The wagons
were filled to capacity and everyone was eager to start. "The trip
should take about 2 1/2 days, maybe a couple more if the snow was
bad further on ahead." Eponin said to Ephiny as she leaned into her
friend for some extra body heat. "I have a feeling I'll be ready to
make camp tonight."
"Fine... we'll talk about that later." Ephiny grinned. "I have a
tribe to lead right now." Looking back over the gathered
warriors, she gave the direction to move. En masse, the tribe moved
out, toward their sisters in the north and to unknown enemies.
PART SIX by Xena
Kicking Horse grumbled as Red Dog slowed of her own accord.
"Toka?" she asked out loud. What's wrong?
The mare shook her head, set her neck against the single rein and
"Hiya!" Heels drummed against ample belly, but Red dog stood stock
Then Kicking Horse heard the approaching hoofbeats and turned around
It was Mateksi and Wet Ears. Red Dog had stopped to wait for her
favorite equine friend.
"He is wanahosi...stubborn!" Kicking Horse said with a frown. "Why
do I like this horse? She chooses when to obey!"
"Because she is like you." Mateksi answered. That made her best
When you're such good friends with somebody, you don't have to talk
long about why something happens...you just know. So Kicking Horse
made Red Dog walk on, and Mateksi rode along beside her. Each was
glad to be with the other, each was glad not to be alone in the
They rode like this for a very long time. Neither woman knew exactly
how long, but suddenly the weather cleared and the snow stopped
swirling. The sun came out and sent it's warming rays down to Earth
Mateksi suddenly held up a hand, signaling for Kicking Horse to halt.
"Taku?" What? the Warrior asked.
The Shamaness simply pointed to a far away clump of tall grass not
yet flattened by the snow. There in stark contrast to the white of
the snow was Tatanka, the Buffalo.
"Your Totem." Kicking Horse whispered, and her friend nodded.
"It is a gift, and maybe a sign. We'll follow him."
Trusting the word of the Shamaness, the Warrior pulled Red Dog back
a few steps so that Mateksi and Wet Ears might lead on. The Shamaness
headed in that direction. Not straight on (which would have
frightened the buffalo off), but at an angle, non threatening.
As if waiting for them, the giant animal slowly ambled away only
when they had gotten very close. They followed, and suddenly
realized they had been led into a small stand of trees; sort of a
mini forest. They had traveled very far from their plains home, but
they didn't think they had traveled that far!
The buffalo leading them was a good sign, so they carried on...and
then they both pulled up and stared at each other.
The Buffalo was standing next to two Deer...a Doe and a Stag. Both
of Mateksi's Totems, and the female side Totem of Kicking Horse. It
was very wasake ma...strong medicine.
The three animals turned as one and melted into the foliage. How
could they not follow? Both women forgot all caution and cantered
directly after the animals.
From all around them shone the brightest light they have ever seen.
So bright they had to shield their eyes and turn their horses
around, trying to save their eyes as well.
"What is this?" Kicking Horse asked. Only a Shamaness would know
what was happening, but all Mateksi should answer was,
"Something very strong, but I feel no evil! Wait, my Sister...wait,
and we will see!"
The Warrior grumbled, not being one to wait...but soon enough the
blinding light faded, the horses nickered low their relief and both
women opened their eyes. The Buffalo was the only one there, but he
spoke to the Shamaness one word before vanishing himself.
"Tiyatani." At home.
Neither woman knew what had happened or how they had gotten where
they had...but they were not anywhere near the plains! This place
was thickly forested, with strange trees and foliage neither had
ever seen in their lives. It was another world, they knew that...but
what kind of a world? And why had Tatanka told them it was their
They sat on their horses in silence, trying to digest all that had
occurred. Then they heard voices in a tongue they didn't understand,
and hid themselves to lie in wait and see if they were friend or foe.
PART SEVEN by Kha
Riding double with Sennedjem while he led her stallion, Kha swore "The blacksmith is at fault. I will trust no one to do Night Winds hooves but Xenaís smith, Are you sure he'll be OK?"
Sennedjem sighed for the hundredth time "I am sure he will be fine. Toby is a wonder with the horses and when we get to Amphipolis again he will take care of him for you."
They were coming across a clearing near the place they often wintered at, and stopped. Night wind was tugging against his lead rope, his head was held high and his ears pricked forward.
Kha looked at Sennedjem "He's caught wind of something." She slid sideways and hit the ground her scimitar in her hands at the ready. She hears Sennedjem leave his horse and land with a soft thud.
His eyes skimmed the place where the thick forest bordered the clearing. He dropped his hand to his weapon and called a greeting "hola. We travel in peace. Come into the clearing where we may talk."
Kha was the first to see the riders. She raised her hand in greeting and smiled cautiously.
PART EIGHT by Leonie
Mateksi whispered to Kicking Horse, "My Nicuwe ki (Sister) we should
be cautious, we are no longer in our own plane."
Kicking Horses own precautions had set in as she saw the fierce
looking woman slide off her horse with ease and raised her mighty
wicked sword. She felt however that these were not travelers looking
for trouble. "Hi (come), Mateski." Kicking Horse laid a hand on Red
Dog's flanks and lead them all out from behind the bushes.
"Hola, we travel in peace. Come into the clearing where we may talk."
called the ruddy skinned man.
Kicking Horses' eyes flicked to the Shamaness, the question already
being answered by Mateksiís own look of confusion at the words said
by the man.
Experimentally Kicking Horse called out to the pair. "Hau." She
raised her own hands, mimicking the pair, right down to the mans
friendly looking smile.
"Do like the natives?" asked Mateksi under her breath.
"What else do you propose oh Mighty Shamaness of the Mysteries."
Kicking Horse smirked at her.
A snort was all she heard from her friend as they finally reached the
pair on the road.
The horses seemed to pay each other greetings far easier then the
PART NINE by Ephiny
Back with the Amazons:
The air had most definitely gotten colder the farther north the
column of Amazons went. So far it had been close to four days. The
trip was taking longer than they thought because of the melting
snowdrifts caused by the recent snowfall. The horses plowed through,
hauling the heavy carts behind them. Their breath snorted through
their nostrils like little clouds.
The Amazons were faring somewhat better. The anticipation of what
laid ahead kept them warm. Hunting for dinner had been far. So far,
they had been able only to catch rabbits and the like. Everyone had
covered in extra furs to help keep warm. At night, many slept in
pairs for heat during the cold.
"Brrr. It's been a long time since I was this cold." complained
Eponin, teeth chattering. "You think it will be much longer?"
Ephiny looked at her friend. "The scouts should be back to let us
know something soon. I would think it's only about a half a day at
best." The pair trudged the snow side by side. Their fur lined
boots had done a good job keeping their feet dry and not frozen in
the ankle deep snow. "How's everyone doing?"
"I think they are holding up well, although I hope we'll get a
little rest before we have to fight anyone. Not to mention a good
meal would do us a world of good." Eponin sighed. "Rabbit only goes
Not too much later, a scout returned and reported to the
Regent. "Just over that hill and the Amazon forest will be in sight.
We've already sent word that we are arriving and someone will be
meeting us just within the forest edge."
Ephiny nodded her acknowledgment. "Thank Artemis. I don't think I
cold stand another night in the cold." She reached down and knocked
a clump of snow from her boot.
"Not that the nights have been *all* that bad" laughed
Eponin. "You've been warm enough!"
Just inside the forest, one of the Northern Amazons greeted the
Regent and the company of Greek Amazons who traveled with her.
Saluting Ephiny, the delegate said, "We welcome you to our lands. I
am Sonara of your sister tribe. I hope your travel was safe. Come,
we'll get everyone fed, warm, and rested in our village. We'll have
someone take care of your horses while you rest and meet with our
Ephiny reached out and clasped arms with Sonara. "Thank you, Sonara.
I know I speak for everyone that we are glad to be finally be here.
How soon can I meet with the Queen?"
"As soon as you'd like, Regent. She awaits you back in the village.
She and the others of our High Council will brief you about the
latest attacks." The northerner bowed her head. "Now if you can
follow me, we'll be in the village shortly."
After everyone was seen too, Ephiny, Eponin, Solari, Sonara, a few
council members, and the Northern Queen sat around the warm coals
inside the Queen's hut. Ephiny and her tribeswomen held steaming
mugs of brew that warmed them well. The Queen was a tall red headed
warrior, dressed in a tunic and leggings that were well suited to
the colder climate.
"Greetings to you, Ephiny. My sister and Regent of our Greek Amazon
tribe. I am Tigar, the reigning queen of my tribe. I thank you for
responding so quickly to our call for help."
Ephiny returned the introductions and inquired of the lates on the
Tigar replied, "Not too much has changed since our courier reported
to you. We have lost 8 hunters, scouts. The attacks have consisted
of masked men who fight with a vengeance against us, die rather than
give up any information, and leave us with few clues as to why we
are being attacked and by whom." She glanced about the room. As she
made eye contact with Sonara, she added, "Sonara has been in more
than a few skirmishes with these mystery people. You would ask her
some details, too."
Solara nodded. "The masks are made of thin leather. The markings on
them are some that I haven't seen before. They fight with swords and
arrows. Although, I wouldn't be surprised if they had something else
ready for us. With your help, I think we'll be able to fight off an
attack more easily."
Ephiny took a sip of the warming brew. "I have also sent messages
for additional support from Xena. She is the Consort of our Queen,
Gabrielle. They should be here soon to offer their own advice."
Looking back to Tigar, she asked. "Do you have any of the masks that
the men wear?"
"I do, in fact." Tigar held out her hand to one of the guards. The
guard quickly produced one of the masks and Tigar handed it over to
Ephiny to examine. "The masks cover the entire head and ties in the
back, there." She pointed to the leather laces that were on the back
of the mask. "The runes and symbols are of a god or warlord that I
do not recognize. I am guessing that the men wear the masks during
battle only so that they may remove them so we wouldn't recognize
them as friend or foe in any other situation."
Ephiny fingered the masked, tracing the symbols. She gave the mask
to Eponin and Solari to look at and turned back to Tiga and
Sonara. "Would you mind if we kept this tonight? I'd like to have
some time to see if I or any others in my Council might know of the
"That's fine. I won't keep you any longer tonight. You've had a long
journey and you need rest." Tigar stood. "Please feel free to help
yourself to any of our supplies and stock."
Ephiny and the others stood. "Then until tomorrow, Tigar." The group
left and headed for their huts.
Eponin, Solari, and Ephiny walked together through the village.
Solari said, "Think Xena'll be here tomorrow?"
"If not tomorrow, then the next day. She'll make good time,
especially when it's important." Ephiny huddled closer to the other
two as they went to the warmth of their guest hut.
PART TEN by Xena
The four people were at an impasse. Neither could understand the
other's words, but neither seemed threatening. In a flash of
inspiration Kicking Horse let her hands fall to her sides, her palms
up in her People's sign for non combatant. Empty hands that held no
weapon in a neutral position.
It was similar to a sign language the Egyptians had used themselves
for silent communication on the battlefield. For the first time
since their brief meeting both sides understood one another. Kha
grinned and nodded, repeating the gesture and nudged Sennedjem in
the ribs so that he copied her.
Mateksi chuckled. "They're fast learners."
"Be nice." her companion smiled back.
"I'm always nice. I'm the Holy Woman...you're the fierce Warrior."
To Kha and Sennedjem the two women's words were nothing but babble.
No language they had every been exposed to even remotely sounded
like it. They found themselves hoping fervently that the language
barrier would be broken soon.
Mateksi placed one of her hands on top of the other, cupping them
together as if she were shaking her own hand. "Kola." she said.
Friend. "Kola." she gestured to all present.
Sennedjem got excited as he understood. "They're saying they're
friends!" he exclaimed. "They're sign language *is* a lot like ours!
Let me try something."
He stepped forward, repeated the gesture and simply stated. "Friend."
"Frr...frrr...end." the Lakota Women copied the speech. From the
beaming smiles and nods the two tall people did back at them, they
guessed they had at least come close to the pronunciation.
Suddenly there was a flash of blue light and there stood Ares.
Bored, he had come by to see how his two favorite Egyptians were
fairing. Now he was fascinated.
"Well this is going to be slow going." he wryly commented. "They
were bantering back there a little while ago. Said you were fast
"You can understand them?" Kha gasped in astonishment.
"Hey. It's a God thing." Ares told her with one of his dazzling
smiles and a shrug.
At the sudden appearance of the man in black leather both women drew
their weapons. Mateksi, although a Shamaness, did know enough to
protect herself if need be. The God of War laughed as they exclaimed
as one, "Waka sica!" Demon.
"Hardly. Demons are mere lackeys. But I trust that's about as far as
your People go with the whole Gods/Goddesses thing. Here...let's
make this go faster, shall we? I have a short attention span." he
waved his hand and suddenly the gibberish the others had spoken
became clear to the Lakota.
"What kind of magic is this?" Mateksi asked in awe. "We know your
words! How can that be? Are you a lost tribe of Sioux?"
Kha, also impressed by the God's act, simply answered, "No. My
husband Sennedjem and I are from a land called Egypt. This is Ares,
the God of War in this land."
"War?" Kicking Horse's ears perked up.
"Yup. God of War, that's me." Ares told them, making a slight
dramatic bow. "And you are..."
"I am Kicking Horse, Sukawaka Natahka in our Language. This is my
Blood Sister Sacred Moon. Mateksi in our language. Are we dead?"
It seemed a reasonable question. After all, how else could they
appear in a world they've never been to, seen people who did not
speak their language and even see a Spirit of such strength? Surely
this must be the Afterlife.
To their consternation the God of War laughed out loud. "Dead? No,
not yet. You've just kind of dropped in on us is all. Not that
that's a problem. But no, you're not dead. When you do die, you'll
meet my brother, Hades. He's in charge of after you die. I'm just in
charge of..well..how a lot of people meet him. Well, now that I've
eliminated this little speech problem of yours, I'll be on my way."
he nodded and made eye contact with Kicking Horse. "It's a pleasure
to meet you...Warrior." And then he was gone.
We're traveling this way, to help our friends." Kha told the
newcomers. "You're welcome to travel with us if you'd like, but
there will be danger."
Kicking Horse smiled grimly. "It sounds good."
It was at that instant that Kha knew who the Warrior looked like.
Xena! She was an exact double of the Warrior Princess, right down to
her blue eyes (although not as light). Her skin was almost the same
hue, her hair so dark brown as to appear black most times. Lighter
skinned than Mateksi, Kha suspected a Caucasian in her family's
woodpile, but was too polite to bring it up.
"Remember the rumor about Ares 'getting around'?" Sennedjem
whispered to his wife. "And how some people think he sired Xena?
Kha shot him a look. It would explain some things if that was the
case, but right now getting back on the road was the important thing.
"We'll follow you." Mateksi told them. "We are strangers here, and
you are the first friends we have made. If it is all right with you,
we would come with you, and learn about your People and your Land."
Kha grinned. "Sounds like a plan to me. Now here's the deal..."
As they continued down the road together Kha filled them in on their
mission, who the Amazons were, and worked on answering the seemingly millions of questions the newcomers had for her. But they were learning fast, and Kha and Sennedjem were all ready glad they had
come upon them in the wilderness that day. From what they had been
told in that message, the Amazons could use all the help they could
PART ELEVEN by Leonie
Hours pass quickly on the road when your traveling with good
company, and soon the foursome found that they were loosing the
"We can continue or we can camp." Sennedjem put up the suggestion for
the other three women. "If we keep going we reach the Amazon's by
early morning, or we camp and reach them by evening tomorrow."
Kha stared hard at Sennedjem's mount, Night Wind. "No, we camp. Night Wind will throw that shoe if we do not stop. With luck Xena and
Gabrielle will be there already."
Kicking Horse and Mateksi attended to Red Dog and Wet Ears as their
companions began to set up camp for the evening. Kicking Horse
whispered comforting things to Red Dog as she brushed him down and
left him in a spot with much grazing. Mateksi watched her friend
carefully for signs of fatigue or stress. For though Kicking Horse
would never admit it she'd gone through a loss with leaving her
Tribe. True, she did not fit in, nor did she ever. But they were her
Mother, Father, friends and family and though they'd never accepted
her, Mateksi knew Kicking Horse would forever carry them in her
heart. Seeing nothing except the normal excitement of 'being on the
trail' of something, Mateksi shrugged the thoughts off and
concentrated more on the surroundings of the camp.
"Even the flora is different, you know." she mentioned while pointing
out the ferns and trees that were growing in the earliness of winter.
"It is not the plains, that we came from. This will be lush and with
many mountains once the frost and snows clear away." Mateksi
explained with some excitement of her own.
"Oh no, I"m not going to be collecting herbs with you this year. You
can find someone else to be your pack donkey, and carry all your
plantings and flowers." Kicking Horse held her hands in front of her
as if warding off Mateksi and her herb gathering plans.
"I've a feeling Iíll have more to do in this place, then to settle
with following you around the woods and gardens." Kicking Horse
glanced to Kha who was digging into a pack on her mount.
"You see that sword she carries. She knows how to use it, and her
body.. it has seen battles. We even go to a battle with them! They do
not care that we are women or that my sword was made myself, without
the blessings of our Gods. I will not be denied status here simply
because of my gender. Kicking Horse's face was alight with the glow
of one that has found acceptance and a place in the world.
Sennedjem called over. "Kicking Horse, does your name pertain to
having any knowledge of horses then?" "Night Wind has got a nasty
shoeing here, perhaps you can offer me some assistance..?"
Mateksi nodded at her friend. "Go, I will help Kha with the meal."
PART TWELVE by Xena
The Warrior nodded and approached their new friend. "My name is who I am. Sennedjem looked up. "What?" he asked, not understanding. "My name...'Kicking Horse'. It describes me. I am like a horse if cornered or threatened." she smiled grimly. "I kick."
"And she bites, too!" Mateksi called over, laughing. "She's a lovely animal."
"Anyway," the Warrior continued, ignoring her friend's joke, "That is what my name means. But to answer you, my new friend...yes, I do know a great deal about horses. But we do not put these...these...what are they?" she bent over, examining the shoe.
"Horse shoe." the Egyptian prompted.
"Ah! We do not put moccasins on our horses. I will look at his feet, though, if you would like. Maybe I can see...ah, Hai! Yes, look here..this is why your moccasin will not stay on his hoof. This part of the hoof is soft. You must keep it very dry for several days, then maybe the moccasins can be put back on."
"Well that's what I was worried about." Sennedjem shook his head. "I suppose it won't kill him to be barefoot for awhile."
Kicking Horse pointed to Red Dog, who was happily munching on nearby vegetation. "Red Dog has never had one of those on her, and she is fine. Your horse will be fine, too."
"It's settled then...I'll pull these shoes and let him go barefoot for awhile."
"And I will get some herbs and make a poultice so that the hooves will heal faster. You will still be able to ride him, so do not worry. He is not lame. Not yet anyway."
The warrior went to her pack to retrieve the herbs she needed, but stopped halfway there and cocked her head to one side.
"Shhhht!" she said, holding one hand up for silence. "I hear a horse!"
Before they could react a lone horse turned the corner at a trot. The golden hide of the animal gleamed like a piece of Sacred Corn and it's rider looked very comfortable in the saddle.
"XENA!" Kha and Sennedjem cried out at once, and dropped what they were doing to run and greet their friend.
Mateksi and Kicking Horse watched as greetings were exchanged, and excited slaps of friendship were traded as well. It was obvious that this Xena was a friend...and a Warrior as well. Something else was also obvious.
"She looks like you." Mateksi whispered.
Kicking Horse nodded. "But taller. How could this be? I have no sisters."
"You were not supposed to be born, remember? The Gods gave you to your Mother when she was thought to be barren. It was a miracle."
"The Elders still talk about it." Kicking Horse said. "Then I was born...lighter skin, and strange colored eyes like beads. Nobody knew what it meant. Maybe now I know...maybe she is my Sister. Or maybe...I don't know. Let's not make a big deal out of it, all right? We will know what this means when we are meant to."
The Shamaness nodded. She knew that her friend's skin color bothered her. She burned more easily than the other Lakota, and her eyes hurt more in the bright sunlight. Yet the Tribe had no explanation of how she came to be born this way. Maybe they'd never know.
Another woman had turned the corner to catch up to the one they called Xena. She was small, very light skinned (the lightest either Lakota had ever seen) and carried a long wooden pole that was as tall as she was.
"OK, that's the last time I offer to race you." she laughed, leaning upon the pole. Then she noticed the two other women.
"Hello." she called and waved to them. "Who are your friends?" she asked the Egyptians.
Kha took a deep breath. "It's a long story. But they're friends."
Xena scrutinized the women who were still standing pretty far from them, and offered a smile. She raised one hand in greeting and they returned it. "Well, it's still a day's ride to the Amazons. We should have plenty of time to get to know one another. Mind if we all travel together?"
PART THIRTEEN by Ephiny
Back with the Northern Amazons:
The following morning, Ephiny and Eponin awoke to what promised to
be a warmer day. The snow had thawed a little overnight, and the sun
peeped through the forest canopy.
"Mmmmm..." yawned Eponin, stretching in the furs. "I could do with
more mornings like this." She sat up and looked over to Ephiny.
Ephiny was already up and getting dressed. She was grumbling about
oversleeping, even though the village was quiet. "Eph, you needed
the rest, don't complain. Besides, guards were posted on duty last
night... including some of ours. If something had happened, we'd
Ephiny slid on her coat. "I know, but I don't like sleeping when I
could be planning against the next attack." Grabbing her knife, she
slipped it into one of her boots. "I am going to grab some food and
see if Tigar has any more information. I have some ideas for defense
and want to talk some more about this mask." She grabbed the mask
and was out the door.
Outside, Ephiny walked briskly to the mess hut. The breeze was
warmer and ruffled her blonde curls as it blew. The hosting tribe
was already about their daily tasks, and she could see some sparring
in the training area. The mess hut was a small building not to far
from the living quarters and was easy to pick out due to the large
number of Amazons going in and out as well as the aroma of fresh
breakfast. Ephiny's stomach began to growl with the anticipation of
Opening the door, she glanced around for Tigar. Hopefully, the Queen
would be eating now and she wouldn't have to go searching elsewhere.
At a table in the corner, Tigar sat with Sonara, both with their
elbows propped up on the table as they ate. Ephiny went up to the
cooks and got her roll, drink, and some vegetables and then headed
to Tigar's table.
"Morning. Mind for some extra company?" Ephiny paused for a moment
and Tigar nodded, gesturing at the seat across from her.
"Good, Ephiny. You're just the person I was going to go and find as
soon as I finished here. There was a minor skirmish with a couple of
scouts and two of the masked men last night. Both escaped and it
seems they were testing our defenses looking for a weak spot. Your
added warriors seemed to help."
Ephiny tore off a piece of the bread. "I'm glad they were there to
help. I have some things I'd like to suggest for defending against
future attacks." She ate the piece quickly. Just as soon as she was
about to continue, shouts were heard outside. The three jumped up
and ran to the door.
"Attack! Attack! Just past the stables!"
Ephiny darted over to the weapons hut where her sword and staff were
stored earlier. Amazons were a swirl of activity. Ephiny raced to
the edge of the east side of the village, where the attack was
occurring. About 30 masked men were charging the village only to
find themselves up against twice as many Amazons as before. Tigar
and Sonara were already in the mix, slicing and thrusting at their
attackers. Ephiny jumped into the fray and was back to back with
Eponin, who had been jarred out of sleep with the calls of attack.
"Glad to see you didn't miss you beauty sleep!" Yelled Ephiny to her
friend. She stuck her sword into the man in front of her and another
one jumped over the falling body to fight.
"Mumph." Eponin stepped away from Ephiny and began fighting with
her staff. Eponin's deadly swing knocked the enemy from his feet and
her staff came down on his head with a crack. "You know I'm cranky
if I don't get enough rest."
The Amazons fought the masks and soon there were 20 men dead at
their feet and the others had retreated. A few Amazons followed the
retreating men but came back with only news that the men seemed to
have vanished into thin air.
"They ran into a thick bush and never came out! We looked around the
area, but there were no other signs of them." The warrior shrugged
her shoulders and shook her head.
Tigar nodded and thanked the warrior. The Queen turned toward the
Southern Regent. "Let's get our wounded taken care of and then meet
me back at my place. Now that you have seen firsthand one of the
attacks, I'd like to hear your thoughts on it."
"As you wish." Ephiny bowed her head to the Northern Amazon Queen
and watched her leave the battle field. Eponin came up to stand next
to Ephiny. "You ok?"
Eponin grinned. Her face was flushed from the fighting. "Sure thing.
You know how I feel after a good fight! None of ours had any serious
wounds and the other tribe only had one significant injury. Not bad,
Ephiny smiled at her hut mate and closest confidante. After telling
Eponin of the meeting with Tigar later, she added, "Sure wish Xena
was here. But knowing her, she'll have already found some clues on
her way here. Let's have a look at some of these men and then I can
report to Tigar. See if you can arrange to keep a body and all the
masks. I want to see if there are any clues there."
The two women started working on gathering the masks and examining
one of the bodies. It was well after noon before they were able to
stop for food and meet with Tigar.
Meanwhile, back with Xena, Gabrielle, the Egyptians, and the
PART FOURTEEN by Xena
It had been a day and a half since the two groups had met up and
decided to travel together. Xena and Gabrielle had listened intently
while Kicking Horse and Mateksi told their story of how they had
ended up in Greece. When all was said and done, they all decided it
didn't matter in the long run *how* all of it happened; only that it
seemed to have worked out for the best.
That night they had each told tales of the Lands they had come
from. Kha and Sennedjem told tales from Egypt, Gabrielle told
several wonderful stories of the Olympians so that the newcomers
could start to get acquainted with them, and she loved how the two
women's eyes seemed to get as big as one of Cyrene's serving plates
at the stories of Medusa, and Jason and the Argonauts and their
favorite one, Hercules' Labors. Xena went to go brush Argo when
she told that one, not wanting to hear the inevitable, "Do you know
The next morning they set out together and were making wonderful
time on the road. Gabrielle hung back, chatting with Mateksi, who
had many tales of her own to share. The Warriors up front, although
talking friendly amongst each other, were also watching the
surrounding areas for any signs of attack or being followed.
"How much further now?" Kha asked Xena.
"Just over that rise there." the Warrior pointed. "We should be
there within half a candle mark."
Sennedjem grinned. "That's good! I could use a meal and a rest."
The sounds of battle drifted over the rise and although it was very
faint, it was unmistakable.
"Gabrielle!" Xena yelled to her lifemate. "Hurry! We have to ride!
There's trouble up at the Village!"
The Bard ran to Argo's side and was lifted up in her partner's
strong arms to sit behind Xena on Argo's broad back. She hung on
tight and they all galloped towards the battle.
By the time they had ridden within striking range, the fight was
over. The group pulled up their horses and watched as the Amazons
went about their tasks of picking up the wounded and dragging off
the dead attackers.
Xena let out a tense sigh. "We're too late."
Gabrielle slid to the ground and got the attention of a young Amazon
Warrior. "Could you tell us where Ephiny is?" she asked. "Tell her
Xena and Gabrielle have come with help. The reinforcements are here."
PART FIFTEEN by Kha
Kha had briefly noted that Sennedjem had dropped back a few minutes earlier in the gallop towards the village. She was not worried. She looked forward again dismounting,
She made a brief greeting her eyes bright with curiosity. She had of course heard about the amazons and knew a few in her travels with Xena and Gabrielle, but she had never seen a village.
She saw it was extremely well organized and armed. The women were a mixed bag so to speak, some tall, some short, and all were incredibly fit looking. She found herself liking this place.
She was jolted out of her complacency by a furious sound of combat once more close to the village. Out of the woods rolled a pair of men fighting, and getting the upper hand, was her battling mate.
Sennedjem came up tackling the man who fled for the woods, then catching him by his harness that carried his blade he jerked him off his feet and backhanded him.
The man managed a blow of his own head butting the larger man in the face and then once more for good measure. Sennedjems nose bled freely and he bore a cut along his arm.
Kha swore and darted for them yelling back "It's OK, he's with me. Its my mate." She roared Sennedjems name as the man in the mask sunk a small hidden dagger into his shoulder. She stopped just short of the combatants when Sennedjem dropped the man with a blow he had learned from hours of sparring with Ares himself.
He lifted his unconscious quarry up, after he drew the masked mans dagger out. He scowled at its markings and looked at his wife who stood there, then asked the amazons ringing the combatants in "Is this one of the scum raiding your village?"
He spoke once more to the amazons who stared with some hostility "I think he might be made to talk with a little persuasion. Its why he is still alive after this..." He flicked a careless hand to his shoulder.
Kha was already checking it shaking her head "Itís deep, and will require stitches."
Sennedjem sat down on a handy log "Then take care of it before I bleed to death..." He noted with some concern the number of amazons now crowding forward "Should I leave the village Xena? I know how they react to men, and I could set up a small camp a bit away from here."
PART SIXTEEN by Ephiny
"No need to worry about that." The group of travelers looked up to
see their friend, Ephiny grinning at them. "I'm sure we'll manage
just fine with one man around us. We don't bite." She reached over
and clasped Xena's arm. "Xena. Glad you could make it, but you
missed the fun." Releasing Xena's grip, she looked to Gabrielle and
saluted her Queen. "Gabrielle. You look none worse for the wear."
Xena hauled the captive up to his feet to where Ephiny could get a
look at him. He still wore his mask and glared defiantly at Ephiny.
Xena said menacingly, "I'm sure that you can find a use for him.
Sennedjem managed to stop him as he fled."
Ephiny gave the masked man a hard look. After she motioned for 3
warriors to escort him to the village "jail", she reached over to
the top of the man's mask and ripped it off. The man underneath
shook his head and thrashed about, trying to break free of Xena's
incredibly strong vice grip. The harder he tried, the stronger her
Gabrielle leaned up and said softly into Xena's ear, "Are you gonna
do the pinch? Or are you going to show me how so I can use it on
him?" Xena's hair flew around her shoulder as she turned her head to
give her lifemate a quick look. She said, "I will show it to you
later, now is not the time." Then she thrust the captive man over to
the warrior guards, causing him to stumble and roll on the ground,
Ephiny gave a few instructions to the women and they left, dragging
the man between them. "They'll make sure he's taken care of until
Tigar can have a chance to speak with him. Tigar's the Queen here
and she wants to meet with our Queen as soon as she arrived."
Kha took Mateski's hand and pulled her over to the group of friends.
Kicking Horse followed. "I'd like to introduce you to our new
friends. This is Mateksi. And this is..."
Ephiny's eyes grew large. "By the gods, Xena!! She's you!"
"...Kicking Horse." continued Kha.
The idea of another Xena running around was a bit disconcerting to
the Amazon Regent. After the introductions were made, Ephiny
recovered from the sight only enough to give the group a proper
welcome and take them back to the Northern Village. On the way,
Ephiny filled Xena and the others in on the strange circumstances of
the men's escape through the bush and battle details.
PART SEVENTEEN by Xena
High on Mount Olympus the peace was shattered by the sounds of
raised voices. In the Great Hall in front of Zeus' throne, two Gods
"Get over it all ready!" Ares shouted at his sister, Artemis. "None
of your precious featherheads were hurt!"
"Not for your lack of trying, dear brother." the Patron Goddess of
the Amazons hurled back. Then suddenly sounding very much like a
little girl she turned to the Throne, "Daddy, make him stop!"
The King of the Gods sighed heavily. Out of all of his children,
these two were the ones most often found arguing. Usually over petty
matters, but this time it seemed more important. At least to Artemis.
"Everyone plays with mortals, Artemis." he told his daughter. "It's
what we do."
"But as for you," Zeus turned towards his son, "The Amazons are
under Artemis' protection and *not* for you to toy with! Go to Troy
or someplace and play with mortals there. You seem to have a lot of
fun with those men."
Ares crossed his arms in front of his broad chest. "I'm getting
bored with them." he said, his mouth turning into a frown. "I want
to play with somebody else."
"Why don't you go play with Xena." Artemis jibed, and that succeeded
in getting Ares to conjure up a ball of energy and send it at his
She neatly ducked the blast, but a stately column wasn't so lucky.
It cracked in two, and shattered on the marble floor.
"ENOUGH!" Roared Zeus. He stood up and raised his arms. Thunder
sounded menacingly throughout Olympus and both Ares and Artemis
turned their attention to their Father. "Fix that." he glared at his
"Yeah yeah...don't get bunched up." Ares waved his hand, and the
column rose again, fixing itself and moving back into
place. "Better?" he asked.
Zeus nodded. "Yes. Now Ares...Artemis...I want you two to solve this
problem without my having to interfere. I trust that our little
discussion here helped matters?"
Artemis glared at her brother, but finally said, "I don't know what
he's up to, but I want his word that he's going to stop interfering
with the Amazons!"
"Oh. I promise, Sis."
They shook hands on it, and Zeus returned to his Throne, sending his
children off with a wave of his hand and a fatherly smile.
He never noticed the crossed fingers behind Ares' back as he looked
his sister in the eye and shook her hand.
PART EIGHTEEN by Ephiny
As Ares and Artemis left Zeus's room, Ares watched his sister stalk
away. "She really doesn't know how to use those Amazons properly."
Stroking his chin with one hand he said to himself, "Speaking of
which..." and he disappeared.
The masked fighters were just returning to camp from the surprise
attack on the Amazons, via the magical bush. The soldiers were
becoming more adept at transporting through the portals the more
they used them. Inside one of the tents, the warlord was removing
his mask. He wasn't exactly in the best mood. His two captains stood
nearby, wary of their leader's temper. Both had removed their masks
upon entering the tent.
Slamming down the mask on a table, he grunted, "That attack was
supposed to eliminate another quarter of those Amazons!!" He threw
himself into a chair that was sitting behind the table. "WHAT
happened?" He glared at the taller of the two captains.
"Sir... there were more than our scouts had reported. WE had planned
our attack based on less than half the number that was in the
The warlord roared. "And just WHERE do you think they magically..."
he waved his hands in the air, "got new Amazons?"
The captain shook his head. "I am not sure, sir."
"Ares, himself, has blessed me in the siege on this tribe of
Amazons. These masks are supposed to protect us. Give us the gift of
battle prowess." Pointing to the markings, he rumbled, "This symbol
was bestowed on me by the God of War. When my army wins, I will rule
not only the Amazons, but this entire land!"
Just then Ares shimmered into the tent with the warlord and his
captains. "In *my* name -- you will get to rule. And *only* if you
beat the Amazons." Immediately the three mortals went to one knee,
"Lord Ares. I... I..."
"Oh, be quiet." Ares rolled his eyes. These mortals really were
pathetic. "Raucus, I chose you because you showed the most promise
in this forsaken land. Never forget that I can *choose* someone else
to be granted my favor."
"Yes, my lord."
Then easing himself into the recently vacated chair, Ares asked
nonchalantly. "So, how did it go?"
The leader, Raucus, stood to his feet. His captains followed suit.
The three glanced worriedly to each other and one said, "Not exactly
as planned. There were more Amazons than before." The God of War
raised an eyebrow as Raucus continued. "We tested the outskirts for
the weakest places about the Amazon village. The few Amazons that
were there were weak and we thought it would be a quick fight."
Ares laughed. "It's never a 'quick fight' with Amazons. Go ahead..."
Raucus swallowed hard. "When we attacked this morning, there were at
least twice as many."
"Seems Tigar has called for reinforcements. That's fine, it'll just
take longer." Giving the warlord a glare that could have turned the
room cold, Ares said, "Just make sure it isn't too long." With that,
The god vanished.
Back at the village, the Amazons were recovering from the attack.
Kha, Sennedjem had been seen to a hut. Sennedjem was relieved to
find that the Amazons were cordial and friendly, nothing like the
stories he'd heard about man-haters. Kicking Horse and Mateksi were
at the horse stables, seeing to the mounts. Xena and Gabrielle had
met with Tigar and Sonara and been briefed about the attacks. More
than once, Kicking Horse was mistaken for Xena. The Amazons were
clearly fascinated but the resemblance between the Lakota warrior
and the Warrior Princess. Xena and Gabrielle were walking about camp
after the meeting.
Rolling her eyes, Xena said to her lifemate. "I can't see what is so
interesting about me."
"It's all that leather. Some people just can't get enough of it."
Seeing her friend smile, Gabrielle snickered. "Besides, Kicking Horse
could be your twin. There aren't too many Amazon twins."
Xena laughed. "Oh well. I'm going to scout around the village. See
if I can find any clues about why the Northern Amazons are under
attack. Stay here and see what you can learn."
"Right. Stay here." Gabrielle blew her bangs out of her face and
leaned on her staff. "You always get to do the fun stuff." Xena
smiled again and left.
Outside the village, at the bush that had served as the portal, Xena
was scoping out the terrain. At once she stood rod-stiff and her
lips curled as if she smelled something foul. "Alright Ares. You
"As many times as you have done that, you never cease to amaze me,
Xena." The God of War, rested his arm on his belted sword as he
gazed appreciatively at the Warrior Princess. "My, my, my. Long
time, no see."
"Cut the crap, Ares. Obviously, you have your hand in this,
otherwise you wouldn't be here."
"Oh, Xena. Couldn't I just be curious as to what my best student was
PART NINETEEN by Xena
Xena sighed and answered, "In a word...no."
"You *are* in a mood today, aren't you? What's the matter? Didn't
get any last night?"
"You know, you're on thin ice right now Ares so just tell me what
you're up to and I'll say a few sarcastic remarks and we can end
this little dance, OK?"
Ares chuckled. "I never can fool you, can I? Well, here's the
scoop...I'm bored, I want to play and lo and behold here are some fun people to manipulate."
Ares "tsk'd" and shook his head no. "You're thinking too narrow,
Xena. Sometimes that focus of yours isn't a good thing. Sometimes it
just plains turns into obsession."
"I wonder who gave me that trait?" the Warrior Princess snarled.
"Your father. He had the same fire in you as you do. I loved that
guy." Ares took a deep breath and then went on as if he actually had
no feeling for the man at all, "Oh well, ashes to ashes and all
that. Or should I say, off to the meat market? Your mom carved him
up pretty good."
If Ares was waiting for an emotional explosion he was sadly
disappointed. Xena merely calmly returned, "Speaking of sires,
you've been off to other realms making copies, haven't you?"
The leather clad God pointed at his own chest. "Me? How so?"
Xena turned and pointed to the village. They could just make out
Kicking Horse and Mateksi chatting with Ephiny and Solari near the
gates. "I'm talking about her, Ares. What's up with her?"
The God of War shrugged. "I have no idea, Xena. The very thought
that I'd go to other realms and interfere with the natural order of
things..." he flashed a wide grin and disappeared.
"I'll just bet." the Warrior Princess muttered under her
breath. "I'll just bet..." she stood for a moment and observed her
double. With a small grin she said to herself, "At least I'm taller
by half a head. That ought to clue people in as to who is who. Not
to mention she wears more leather than I do." she went to join the
"So what's the general consensus?" Xena asked as she came within
earshot. "Has Tigar made any announcements?"
Ephiny shook her head no. "Not yet, but the whole village is on high
alert. I'm expecting a call to arms any moment to move and seek out
the enemy. We're tired of being the ones that are being hunted."
"Before you go rushing off to battle there's something you should
"The Gods are helping them." Kicking Horse interrupted.
Xena raised an eyebrow at the Lakota. "Observant. She's right, you
know. It's Ares, which means it's never as simple at it may appear
to be. My suggestion would be to.."
"My suggestion would be to let Amazon business be kept between
Amazons, Xena. You're welcome to join us in battle, but you are not
one of us and have no Voice here."
It was Queen Tigar.
Xena's mind flashed back to years earlier when she almost took up
another Queen's offer to join the Amazons officially. That had
turned into disaster on an epic scale, but having spent many years
among them, Xena still felt the words sting.
"She's led them before." Gabrielle calmly stated. "And she's my
Protector and Consort. In my scroll, that makes her worthy of a
Voice. But if you feel threatened by her, maybe she and I should
leave. You see, she and I are a package deal. You want help from my
Tribe? Then Xena comes, too. *And* is heard."
The Warrior's mouth almost hung open. She'd never seen the Bard be
so forceful! Ephiny couldn't help but grin, remembering their first
meeting. Gabrielle had changed quite a bit from that day! It was a
good change, but not a complete one. Immediately after saying the
words, her eyes strayed to Xena's, then her nose wrinkled in the
telltale grin that spoke volumes to the Warrior. She was bluffing!
Tigar shifted from one foot to the other. "I had forgotten about the
battle with Queen Melosa where Xena became Queen in her stead. My
apologies. No offense meant."
"None taken." Xena replied, her eyes cold. The warlord that still
lay deep within her heart screamed at her not to trust this woman.
The Warrior she had become since she met Gabrielle told her to wait
and see. Time would tell to see which voice was correct...
PART TWENTY by Leonie
Mateksi followed Kicking Horse around the camp. They had been on the receiving end of odd stares from all the women since they had arrived. Not only did Kicking Horse and Xena look so much alike, but the clothing they wore was different from what the Amazon's were used to as well.
"We stick out like stars in the night sky." Mateksi complained. "We do not belong here, in this place of warrior women."
Kicking Horse gave her friend a bland look.
"Alright, I do not belong here. These are not a people of peace, Kicking Horse. These women are warriors that seem to revel in the battle. They carry weapons and are not afraid to shed blood. They even fight amongst themselves over who has the right to plan the next attack!"
Kicking Horse shook her head. "Sacred Moon. This is the reason I did not fit in back in the Plains. I think like these women. I should have been born here, like Xena. They do not revel in the battle so much as protect their own rights to live. They fight for their own peace."
"And the squabbling?"
Kicking Horse shrugged her shoulders. "Even the Lakota squabbled about who was in the higher position of power and had the right ideas."
Mateksi grinned at the memory of Kicking Horse and Spotted Rabbit bickering over who knew how to build a proper fence to keep in the young colts. They had been so busy arguing, that the colts had completely ignored them and simply wandered through the gaping hole and took off. It had taken all day for the two to round up the ponies, then they had to deal with the stern lecture from Kicking Horse's Father.
With a smirk, Mateksi nodded. "Yes, I seem to remember that bit."
Kicking Horse rolled her eye's and wandered back to where Queen Tigar and Xena were planning with Gabrielle and the rest of the Amazon's.
It was clear why Kicking Horse had been lead to this world but Mateksi's only reason for being here was still her friend. "I cannot live for Kicking Horse. I must find my own reason's as well." she muttered to herself.
"What? You don't like it here?" asked a voice from behind her. It was Kha, the dark skinned woman who had found them.
"Kha, I did not hear you."
Kha smiled thinly. "I would not be very good at my chosen career path if you had heard me." She joked.
"You are unhappy in this land then?" Kha asked again.
"No. Just uncertain of my own career path and weather it will be of any use when I am not in a land of my own Gods." Mateksi smiled, trying to reassure the woman she was all right. A discussion of what sort of Gods she was speaking of was not at the top of her list of things to talk about at the moment.
Kha simply smiled and laid a strong muscled arm on the short woman's shoulders. "Come, my friend. A plan is in the making, perhaps your special talents will be needed."
PART TWENTY ONE by Ephiny
While the Amazons were planning the counterattack, the army of
Raucus was recouping from their own attack on the Amazons. Several
of the soldiers that had escaped the Amazons brutal defense were
being seen to for a variety of injuries. Raucus made his rounds to
the rest of the men, making sure they saw him as their mighty lord
instead of the weak man he really was. The defeat had shaken him to
his very core. Why hadn't Ares told him about the new reinforcements?
Raucus stopped at the table where several men were eating. Abruptly,
they leapt to their feet. "My lord."
"That I am. Your lord. Don't forget it." He was enjoying being the
master of these men. Soon... soon he'd be ruler over these lands, as
soon as those Amazons were taken care of and destroyed. He fingered
the earring that dangled from one earlobe and gave and appraising
look to one man in particular. "Barth, you are one of my bravest
captains, are you not?"
"Aye, sir. I have given my pledge to serve you and your cause."
"I have a proposition for you. Meet me back in my quarters after you
have finished here." Raucus walked away. Speaking to only himself,
he said, "If Ares can use me, then maybe I can find a use for Barth."
Barth entered Raucus's tent. The warlord was drinking some ale at
his table that also served as a planning desk. "Sir. What do you
need of me?"
Raucus grinned maliciously. "You have lead a unit of men quite
bravely in several attacks against the women. Doing so has made you
stand out, more so than my other captains. I have been thinking..."
Raucus set down his mug and stood. "... you would do well as my
second in command once I am ruler here. I intend not only to rule,
but to be king."
Barth's eyes grew large and he inhaled. This was more than he had
Raucus continued. "My name will be remembered for centuries. You will
be my heir presumptive, since I am not married, nor intend to be. As
second in command, you will reign victorious after I am gone. Howís
"Your offer is very generous, sir." Barth's mind was working. HE
would be king after Raucus. Not a bad deal at all.
Raucus walked over and stood behind Barth. He breathed heavily into
Barth's ear. "Very generous, Captain. No one else has been given
this opportunity. Will you accept?"
Barth saluted his lord and future king. "Aye, sir. I do."
"Then here is your assignment. I want to attack tomorrow morning.
The Amazons won't expect us to return so soon after a defeat."
"But our men are still recovering!"
"Doesn't matter. They are hurting too. Aren't you men? We can handle
Barth drew himself up straight. "Yes, sir!"
Raucus stepped over to the table and sat on the table top, crossing
his ankles in front of him. His shoulder length hair hung around his
face, lending him a barbarian appearance. "Then you will lead the
first attack. I will come in the second wave with more men and help
clean up any leftovers. You will have an equal share in the glory
when we are through!"
Barth was almost gleeful as he thought about the battle ahead. "I
will gather soldiers and form an attack plan immediately. We will be
ready to leave before daybreak!"
Lowering his voice, Raucus's eyes glittered. "See that you do. I
won't be far behind"
In the Amazon village the women were checking their defenses. Scouts
were positioned in the trees to help give warning and as a first
means of defense. Tigar, Sonara, Ephiny, Eponin, Xena and Gabrielle
were meeting in Tigar's hut.
"Tonight we need to have a war dance. Prepare ourselves for war!"
Tigar was saying. "With our sisters now joining us, we need to raise
Xena shook her head. "No, I don't think that is a good idea. The men
will attack sooner than you might realize. It's totally like Ares to
try and surprise us."
Tigar grumbled. "It's been months! Our tribe has been depleted and
weakened. We need something to help motivate our warriors."
Ephiny cocked her head to the side, nodding toward Xena. "I will
have to agree with Xena. If Ares is behind this, then we don't need
to waste time and resources on a ritual that can be postponed."
Tigar's eyes flamed. Her mouth went into a fine line. Sonara looked
at her queen. "My queen, what they say makes sense. I'm sure the
Goddess will understand..."
"I don't CARE what Xena says!"
The entire room hushed. Gabrielle stood. "Xena, I think we aren't
needed here. I think we will get our things and leave."
Ephiny stood quickly. With a hand on Gabrielle's shoulder, she said
quietly, "Why are you going? You are an Amazon Queen. Our sisters
have asked for our help and, in your absence, I answered their call.
You can't leave!"
Red-blonde bangs bounced as Gabrielle swung to face her Regent.
Gabrielle spoke through her teeth. "Tigar has insult Xena, and as a
result, insulted me. You can stay and fight, but I will leave. I
don't have to listen to that."
Xena stood next to Gabrielle. "Ephiny, You can handle this on your
Sonara had been talking quietly to Tigar. The Northern queen stood
to her feet and lowered her head. "I must apologize. The stress of
the attacks has made me a little more short tempered. I have a hard
time going against tradition." Raising her head, she looked evenly
with Xena. "I believe your... expertise... is needed. I hope that
you will stay."
"Thank you. Now let's get back to our plan."
The remainder of the meeting was spent organizing the best plan of
PART TWENTY TWO by Ephiny
After the meeting, Sonara escorted Tigar to her hut. Tigar was still
fuming over what seemed to her to be Xena's attempt at taking over
her tribe. Snow had begun to fall during the conference,
accumulating about an inch or so. Tigar shuffled through the snow,
causing snow flurries to fly up into the air. "I hope Xena's plan
works in the snow."
"I think it will, my queen. From what I understand, Xena's plans
usually work." The pair stopped upon reaching the queen's hut.
"I can't help how I feel, Sonara. The way the women watch Xena, talk
about her, listen to her. I am trusting you to lead the tribe, but
not under Xena. This is *our* home. It's unfortunate that Queen
Gabrielle couldn't come without her Consort."
Sonara listened as the northern queen unloaded her feelings. "I
understand how you feel. But without Xena, Gabrielle wouldn't be who
she is. And anyone who has been trained as thoroughly with Ares,
like Xena has, a daunting reputation."
"I know. Without Xena here, we wouldn't stand a chance. I know she's
an Amazon, even though she never took that step. But I can't help
myself. But... anyway. Until morning, Sonara."
Raucus was gathering his men. The final battle was in the air. The
men could feel it. Ares had already been by and approved the battle
plan. Inside his tent, the brown haired warlord was finishing
polishing his sword. He raked his fingers through his hair. In just
a couple of hours, he would be ruling this land, without the
nuisance of Amazons. As he picked up his shield, he caught his
reflection. Twisting his earring in his fingers he said, "Not bad. I
think I am even beginning to look like the God of War." He laid down
into the pile of furs and continued to admire himself. "I've got the
looks. I've got the brains. Nothing can go wrong now."
Back in the Amazon Village, Xena was brushing down Argo before she
went to bed where Gabrielle was already snoring. Ares appeared
behind the Warrior Princess. Even though she knew he was there, she
continued her work.
Ares stepped up behind her and leaned in to smell her hair. "MMmmm.
I love the smell of musk on you. Tells me you've been working too
"Give it up, Ares. I'm only working hard because the Amazons are
getting ready to fight off that poor excuse of a warlord you've dug
Ares placed his hands on her shoulders and began to rub. "You
shouldn't worry, tomorrow it will be all over and you can go back
home and play with your little bard."
Xena shrugged off his hands and turned around. "Tomorrow, you'll be
watching everything won't you?"
"That I will... everything..." And the god raked his eyes over the
raven haired warrior.
"I don't have time for this. When this is over, Ares," Xena chucked
the brush into a bucket. "You'll have to deal with me." And she
walked out, letting the door shut behind her.
"Man!! I love her fire!" Ares grinned.
Artemis appeared in front of her brother. "I assume there is a good
reason why you're in an Amazon village?" Then hearing the door shut
again, she glanced over her shoulder. Then noticing the horse and
knowing to whom she belonged, Artemis added, "Ah... Xena. You never
learn, do you Brother?"
"Actually, sister dear, Xena is an unexpected bonus to my little
"Either way. You play with your little men. But I hope you realize
that now with Xena here, you haven't got a chance."
"Maybe... maybe not." He gave a shrug. "It's war... it's what I do."
Ephiny and Eponin were getting ready to catch some sleep for a
couple of hours before they had to be at their posts. Eponin saw the
grimace Ephiny made as the Regent laid down.
"Tell you what, Eph. I'll take care of your muscles so you can rest."
Complying with the request, Ephiny rolled onto her stomach. Eponin
straddled her friend's back and began ministrations. She went
on. "Kha and Sennedjem are amazing with that scimitar. Deadly blade.
Her and the weapon. I'd love to get my hands on one of those!"
Ephiny grunted as Eponin worked out on particularly hard knot. "Uh
huh. And Kicking Horse. besides being Xena's double, she's got
incredible aim with the arrows. I've never seen anything like it.
The more I watch her, she's like an Amazon... only, what did she say
"Yeah. She's like a Lakota Amazon. If they ever had one of those.
And her friend Mateksi. She's going to be performing a ritual while
we sleep to help us in battle. She's got the makings of a great
Eventually, Ephiny's conversation dwindled to inaudible mumbles.
Eponin smiled as she laid down next to Ephiny. "Don't fight it, Eph.
A couple of hours later, everyone was moving into position. Some
women were in the trees, others were hiding in bushes, waiting for
the attack. The rest were scatter in the outmost huts and
structures, to keep the fighting out of the village.
Meanwhile, Raucus was on the march. The men were wearing their masks with *his* and Ares symbols emblazoned on them. As they approached the bush that would transport them to the corresponding bush , courtesy of Ares, the men entered the bush in small groups,
disappearing. When Raucus went through the bush, he reappeared just
beyond Amazon territory.
The men were hunkered down, low to the ground. Raucus looked over
his army. Not long now. They awaited his signal. Soon, very soon,
these lands would be his.
PART TWENTY THREE by Xena
Several Amazons were finishing readying Gabrielle. The feathered mask that was hers to wear as Queen of the Amazons fit as if made for her. Xena watched the dressing ceremony, and couldn't help but be impressed. Finally they stood back, revealing Gabrielle in typical Amazon leathers and her Queen's Mask.
"Now that's something I don't see every day." Xena drawled low, her eyes sparkling.
"Xena." Gabrielle said, her hands on her hips, her voice muffled by the mask. "This is serious!"
Xena stood up, her smile gone, her eyes a bit darker than usual. "I know...so am I." she crossed the room, pulled the mask up off of Gabrielle's face and kissed her deeply. When their lips parted the Warrior whispered, "This isnít just another battle, Gabrielle. You'll be away from me and I....I couldnít let you go off with them this morning without me without telling you how much I love you. Just in case.." her voice trailed off.
Understanding, Gabrielle reached up and kissed Xena again, then traced the warrior's jaw line with a fingertip. "I love you." she whispered back. Both knew better than to tell the other they would be OK. There was no way to really know that. All they could do was pledge their love, and send the other off with their best wishes.
"My Queen." one of the now fiercely blushing Amazons said, "It's time to go."
Xena watched her Life go out the door of the hut and then allowed herself a moment of worry for the bard turned Queen. When that moment had passed, she squared her shoulders and strode from the hut herself. There was a lot to do to help the Amazons, and she'd better get started.
Xena made her way through the dense forest to a deserted Temple. Once inside, she lit the torches and announced, "All right I'm here. Are you?"
There was a bit of sparkling and then Artemis appeared, her big sister in tow.
"Xena," The Goddess of the Hunt intoned with a smile, "This is Athena, The Goddess of War and Wisdom. She's agreed to your request and mine...she'll help route Ares and his thugs."
PART TWENTY FOUR By Leonie
Mateksi sat with Kicking Horse under a tree in the Amazon's camp, the two friends leaned against each other and chewed on some of the trail fare that Kicking Horse had packed with her before leaving on her journey.
"Do you think it will work here?" Kicking Horse asked her childhood friend.
Mateksi shrugged. "I do not know. This world is different from ours but not in every way. I suppose it should."
"I will stand guard over you."
Mateksi turned her face to Kicking Horse. "I know you will. I will be safe." Vainly she tried to comfort Kicking Horse. "This is not the first time you know. I have done it before, it was part of my training, in my teachings."
"Doesn't matter. I will watch anyway. We don't know how the Gods here will react to Lakota magic."
Mateksi smiled and was relived that she was not the only one who was nervous about reaching out the spirit plane in this placed everyone called Greece.
A short time later.
Xena, Gabrielle, Queen Tigar, Kha and Sennedjem all stood in a circle surrounding Kicking Horse and the Shamaness Mateksi. Gabrielle was still decked out in her Amazon War Outfit and looked very regal next to the rest of them. It lent an aura of power to the air.
"Iíve asked you all here to help me." Mateksi began. "As was requested I will try to perform a Dream Walk to the Warlord Raucus. I ask from all of you... to send me strength and to watch, for I do not know what powers wander in your world. I am out of my element in that much, but I wish to do what I can."
Xena arched an elegant eyebrow. "Are you sure you want to do this Mateski? Sometimes the Gods of this world are unkind."
Solemnly the Shamaness nodded. "I do. This is what I am. If I can help, I wish too. If I am to stay in this world, I must learn if I can continue on my chosen path. This is but a ... useful test."
Kicking Horse alone had heard the emphasis on the 'if' of Mateksi's words. Her heart squeezed painfully at the though of her friend trying to leave. Though if that was what it came to, she knew she would not stand in her way.
Mateksi began to hum deep in her throat, a buzzing sound similar to that of bees in a hive filled the tent. The Shamaness sat cross legged, her hands laid loosely on each knee. Her back was ramrod straight and her heavy black hair hung straight to the ground. A look of concentration masked her usually smooth features and Kicking Horse could see the tension in her friends forehead.
"Sunmanitu, Kagi Taka, Hupaki Glake;
My animal friends of the Humor and Trickery.
I humbley call upon you to guide me this eve,
A foray into trouble I wish you to consider.
Frolic with me, fly with me, guide me my friends,
Take me into the deep dark, in the way only you can enter."
The Shamaness had entered a trance at the finish of these words from her lips. Though she sat in the same position, her eyelids fluttered but did not open and Kicking Horse stood still by her side.
PART TWENTY FIVE by Xena
"Is she going to be all right?" whispered Ephiny.
"Yes, if everything goes as it should." Kicking Horse answered in a
whisper of her own. "This is Lakota magic and is what she was
trained to do her whole adult life. She is safe, and I will guard
her body while she walks the Spirit Road. Now you are free to go to
Battle. This is why she's doing this, to give you help."
The Amazons didn't need a tree to fall on them to get the hint.
Their place was on the battlefield, before Racus' army had chance
to attack them first.
"Let's go then!" Solari grinned, and the Amazons silently left.
Xena and Gabrielle clasped arms with Kicking Horse, silently giving
their support and then they, too, left.
The Lakota Warrior took up guard, and waited...hoping her friend
would return safely from her journey, hoping that nothing went wrong.
PART TWENTY SIX by Kha
The Amazons didn't need a tree to fall on them to get the hint.
Their place was on the battlefield, before Raucus' army had chance
to attack them first.
"Let's go then!" Solari grinned, and the Amazons silently left.
Xena and Gabrielle clasped arms with Kicking Horse, silently giving
their support and then they, too, left.
The Lakota Warrior took up guard, and waited...hoping her friend
would return safely from her journey, hoping that nothing went wrong.
Kha methodically checked her blades testing them though she knew them
well enough. She even checked the heavy ivory headed roman gladius
she had stripped from Caesar during one memorable battle. She
whirled it in a series of exercises then slid it home with a decisive
clicking noise. She finished it with her scimitar which Sennedjem
slid home in her shoulder harness for her and turned to do his own
She wore her dark armor, the gift from Ares and moved out. Sennedjem
ever at her side began to carefully circle to where he thought that
the bulk of them would come in. He had special plans and had made
them known to his wife who approved.
She had slung her quiver of arrows on a special hook that held a
sleek quiver to her leg. She was checking her bow strings strength
when they heard the first furtive tread. Sennedjem drew his dagger
silently, and winked at her as they separated to bring the battle to
the attackers. She watched the first come gliding past her and
leaped her unique dagger and slid his throat holding her hand over
his mouth so not a sound was made.
She laid the body down quietly and heard a soft sighing sound.
Sennedjem had found a scout also. They eliminated the scouts to the
point where the main body was forced to come in blind. Pleased, Kha
caught sight of a shadow moving stealthily. Xena was also ready.
She flashed a sign to her friend and disappeared back into the woods.
The village was attacked, the menís deep roaring war cry was over
shadows by the amazons response. Sennedjem dropped his latest and
leaped from the brush with Kha and joined the battle attacking them
from the rear. Kha's war cry and his echoed, almost identical. It
was the unique war cry of their desert tribes and it was a chilling
Kha saw their friend Kicking Horse standing by Mateksi, her weapon at
the ready, and she saw several approaching them. Kha left Sennedjems
side at that point springing forward bulling her way through the
attackers slashing left and right.
She panted lightly, blood spattering her jaw and side of her face as
she asked "Need some backup?"
PART TWENTY SEVEN by Leonie
Kicking Horse paced back and forth inside the hut, while she stood
guard over Mateksi. She could hear the sounds of battle but would
not leave her friend unguarded no matter how much her instincts
wanted to be in the fray.
Kicking Horse watched her friend, still meditating, no longer
humming though. She squatted down in front of Mateksi and simply
gazed at her.. willing her safety in her 'journey'.
Black, bleak, dark. The only words to describe the place Mateksi
stood now. The spirit world in this land was no different then the
one in the plains. Both were places the Shamaness had learned to
have some Mastery over. This one however was currently poisoned with
the thoughts of the one called 'Raucus'. His mind was powerful, but
weak at the same time. Power here was not from him but
instead 'granted' him from elsewhere. Mateksi could see the signs of
it in the mists and vortex's. Weakness came from his mind, he was so
sure of himself, cocky and arrogant. His power was foul and was
colored a diseased reddish black.
The Shamaness searched for the links that would lead her to
the 'greater power' Raucus was feeding off of. Her feet moved of
what seemed their own violation, she had found the power... or more
likely the power had found her.
"What are you doing?" asked the unbodied voice. It seemed to have a
hint of humor in it.
"Stopping you." Replied Mateksi with a curve of her lips. She
could 'see' with her minds eye the ropes of power that lead from
this ...deity to Raucus. Ares was in for a shock.
"How did you get here?Ē,demanded the God of War. He sounded more
befuddled at the mortal's invading then angry.
"You brought me."
"I don't mean Greece! I mean here, Mortals don't have the competence
to get here!" Ares railed. If Mateksi had known Ares as Xena did,
she would have been extremely entertained to see her 'favorite' God
so rattled. She did not know Ares in that way however, yet it was
"Some Mortal's do.",was all Mateksi answered as she took hold of the
ropes of power linking Ares and Raucus and yanked them free.
"You little....." Ares' voice faded away as the Shamaness quickly
returned her mind to her body and to Kicking Horse.
Kicking Horse was still crouched in front of Mateksi when she opened
her eyes. "How did it go?" She asked.
Mateksi nodded, she was spent mentally but her body was just
fine. "I've done what I can. Raucus will get no help from Ares. For
now. I don't know how much time Iíve bought you though, the Gods are
different here." the curve of her lips returned as Mateksi remembered
how incredulous Ares had sounded as she pulled the matt out from
Kicking Horse squinted at her friend, curious at just what that
smile meant. But she had no time to think on it at the moment.
"Kicking Horse! Go to battle, I am fine now, send the wounded back
here, I will make a place for them."
The Warrior needed no more confirmation then that. Mateksi was safe
now and she had another place to be.
PART TWENTY EIGHT by Kha and Xena
"Hai!" she nodded, grateful to be able to run at last. With a last nod to her best friend, she headed out into the sunshine. She pierced the air with a loud whistle and from around the corner came a very eager Red Dog. With one smooth vault the Lakota Warrior leaped upon the dark red back and put heels to side.
The only means of guidance were her legs, weight and balance and a pitifully small thong that was around Red Dog's lower jaw. Basically it was there for emergencies, and offered very little in the way of "steering". But Kicking Horse didn't need a complicated bridle, only the knowledge that the pony was trained well, and trusted her.
"Yi! Yi! Yi!" the warrior cried as the horse raced through the village and out into the fray. Kicking Horse smiled grimly at the familiar scents and sounds. This world was not so very different! Horses, people, arrows...this was all a good day's fighting.
Seeing her new friend emerge from the hut she was protecting with a vengeance, Kha gave a shout of greeting "There is sport to be had here my friend."
Her arrows spent long before, Kha was using her scimitar well, and to great advantage against a much larger man who roared in pain as she kicked hard, nailing him in the groin dropping him. She aimed for kicking him in the head, knocking him silly.
She swung into play with Kicking Horse covering her well. With some concern she whirled when she heard an angry voice raised in annoyance.
Sennedjem had taken on two and now had a nasty cut across his ribs where the armor he wore did not cover, A small patch it may have been but enough for a good swordsman to get a blow in. He dropped the left hand to more of less guard the cut, and went to work with his right.
He made his way over to his wife, and friend and swore "These amateurs...Ares man chose the worst mercenaries I have ever seen."
Kha looked pointedly at the blood and shook her head and declared "So I see. You let him get past your guard...." She nodded with her head "Go inside, Mateksi is taking care of the wounded. I will try to draw them away from here so she can work in peace."
So saying she surged forward and redoubled her effort.
As Kicking Horse watched Kha and Sennedjem go off on their own, her eyes scanned the jumble of bodies. Some on horseback, some wrestling on the ground, others clashing swords and wielding clubs and axes. This fight would be easy...save for her friend Sennedjem all males were targets.
"Prepare to meet the Creator!" she screamed, "For today you will die! I have no fear of you!" Red Dog dove into the mass of fighting people, her rider guiding her first one way, then the other, using her war club to dispatch many a man before she caught sight of Gabrielle felled by a menacing figure.
He was standing over the blonde, sword drawn and murder in his eye. Kicking Horse reached back and drew her bow, notching an arrow and letting it fly in order to save her friend.
Two times the man grunted as he fell dead to he earth. Two weapons buried in his body...one long and feathered, the other round and metallic.
Xena's wolf like eyes met with Kicking Horse's with gratitude and respect and the Lakota raised her bow in acknowledgement...and then she urged Red Dog into the fray once more..
PART TWENTY NINE by Ephiny
While Kha and Sennedjem were using their skills to help defend the
Amazon Village, Ephiny was covering Eponin by shooting arrows into
would-be attackers before they could reach her best friend. Ephiny's
war mask was lift up on top of her head so she could have better aim.
A fletched arrow found itself embedded in the front of a
mask just as the man had raised his arm to strike. Eponin yelled
into the direction of the trees, "a little sooner, next time!" and
the brunette was fighting again.
Ephiny was really enjoying Kha's gift to her, the beautiful bow with
etching all over it. She barely had time to really appreciate the
fine structure of the weapon before she had to notch another arrow
and let it fly.
The masked men seemed to come in an endless stream, pouring into the
battlefield where they were met by an equally endless outpouring of
Amazons. Ephiny and the remaining archers perched in the trees were
beginning to run out of arrows. Within moments, Ephiny raised a
finger and pointed to the ground with a nod. Ephiny pulled her
masked down over her face. In sequence, the archers alighted the
ground and joined in the fight amongst their sisters.
"Good day to fight, don't you think, Poni?"
"Right. Duck!" Ephiny hit the ground as Eponin struck yet another
opponent. As the curly headed Regent got back up, Eponin asked
cheerily, "Am I distracting you?"
"No more than usual. Duck!" Eponin shrank to the ground and Ephiny
drew her sword, quickly thrusting it into Raucus's man who was
intent on Eponin's demise. Ephiny snorted. "Might as well just stay
nearby to make sure you don't get lost!" The two women turned back
to back and fought off more men.
Kicking Horse was impressing many of the Amazon women with her
impeccable skill with the bow and arrow. The shorter version of the
Warrior Princess/Lakota style, was busy releasing arrows and
slashing those who got too close with her blade.
Xena and Gabrielle were fighting near each other, Gabrielle with her
staff and Xena throwing the chakram over her lifemate's head to kill
an approaching enemy.
The strawberry blonde Queen looked at Xena with a quick
grin. "Thanks!" Immediately following her comment, she swung her
staff into the gut of another man.
Noting that Gabrielle was faring well for now, Xena focused her
attention back on her attackers. Giving the smile that many men had
feared before they themselves died, she said, "Some men just can't
get enough! Well then, come on!!" Three men charged at her and
before they could reach her, Xena was in the air, swiping the faces
as she did so. When she landed, the men were unconscious and she went
and retrieved her chakram. As she was pulling it out of the fallen
man's head, another came behind her, sword drawn. With a look of
annoyance, the warrior princess kicked hard to the back, throwing
the man several feet and rendering him unconscious.
The Northern Queen and Sonara were handling things well, but Sonara
had taken several hits. The woman was pouring blood from more than a
few deep cuts. With concern etched in her face Tigar looked at the
weary Amazon. "I need to take you to the medics. Now. You can't last
much longer out here."
"Donít worry about me!" Sonara struck another man down. As she
turned to face her Queen, she collapsed. Tigar pulled the other
woman close to her. Sonara was fading fast. Knowing that she was
dying, Sonara put on a brave face. The fighting continued around
them, seemingly unconcerned about the tragedy that was unfolding. As
Sonara slipped from this world, Tigar held her. Sonara, in spite of
her pain, had slipped into eternal slumber with a smile on her face.
She was happy knowing that her Queen cared enough for her to stop
everything as she left this life behind. Tigar lowered her face to
Sonara's and wept.
Ephiny and Eponin could see Tigar kneeling on the ground, but were
too engrossed in the fighting to be able to make it to her. Close to
Ephiny, Raucus was dueling with a younger Amazon. As she watched him
bury his weapon into the teenager, she was filled with fury. Ephiny
shouted over her shoulder to Eponin. "Poni!! Cover me! I'm going to
kill that bastard!" As one, the pair of Greek Amazons leapt over the
bodies before them and charged Raucus.
All the while the battle raged, Ares leaned against a tree and was
enjoying himself immensely. Artemis appeared next to him and glared
hard at the God of War. "I hope you're satisfied, dear brother."
Not taking his eyes off the battle lust before him, he answered with
a sly grin. "Oh, I am. I am."
PART THIRTY by Ephiny (CONCLUSION)
Xena had just finished off another of Raucus's men when she could
see in the trees just beyond Ares, with his ever present smirk. Not
every mortal was able to see Ares, but Xena could because of her
past ties with him and the fact that he always wanted her to find
him. Anger boiled up inside her knowing he was there and was the
cause behind all this. She gave a quick look to Gabrielle and began
to make her way to Ares.
Ares was watching the battle gleefully when Xena came up behind him,
dagger at his throat.
"How clichť', Xena. I'm a *god*. You can't kill me." Ares rolled his
eyes as he turned around.
"You don't think I know that? I just enjoy the image it gives me."
Xena lowered her blade. She looked past his shoulder at the war
between the Amazons and Raucus's men. "Innocent blood was shed, and
all for your amusement. What's the reason?"
Ares laughed. "Oh, no reason. No reason at all."
Xena was beyond being just incensed. She growled as she lunged at
him. Ares met her sword with his, clash for clash. The God of War
and the Warrior Princess battled it out. Xena took her anger out on
the cause of the war, Ares just enjoying sparring with his favorite
mortal. The pair leapt into the trees and hopped and skipped over the
branches, all the while swinging the swords at each other.
Eventually, Ares was tripped up by his student and he found himself
falling to the ground. Xena wasn't far behind him and raised her
sword to his throat again.
Ares gave a half smile. "While it's been fun, Xena, the fun's over
anyway." He made a clicking sound with his mouth, winked, and
Meanwhile, Ephiny and Eponin were racing over fallen men and women
and dodging separate battles to get to Raucus. The warlord was
pulling his sword from another Amazon's body when the Greek Amazons
approached. "Seems I have to fight you women off with a stick!"
Raucus growled. He raised his bloody sword at the pair. "My sword's
thirsty for some more Amazon. How about you indulge me?"
"Not likely." replied Ephiny as she glanced his sword off her own.
Eponin was defending her back while she fought the warlord. The
blonde curls flew around her head as she rolled and missed Raucus's
ill-managed jabs. "And you call yourself a leader? Give me your
"My name? You will fear it, if you survive!" Raucus ran toward her
again, sword aimed for her belly. Ephiny clinked her sword against
"Your name!! I want to give something back to the Queen, other than
your head. Aaarrrr!!" Ephiny looped her sword in a maneuver that
disarmed Raucus. Quietly, she asked, "Your name."
Raucus was defiant. But thinking his men would save him, he gave his
name. "Raucus. Soon to be ruler of this land. My men..."
Ephiny shoved her weapon into Raucus. He was eternally surprised as
she said, "Oh do shut up. All I asked for was your name." Raucus
grunted and his hands wrapped around Ephiny's sword blade. He was
still shocked when his last breath left him.
The battle didn't last much longer, the army once seeing their
leader fallen scattered or died on the battlefield. All the Amazons
whooped and hollered at the victory. All, except Tigar.
Gabrielle was found holding and soothing the Northern Queen. Tigar
had stopped crying but needed the comfort of someone who understood
her pain. Hearing the victory shouts of her tribe she stood with the
grace she could muster. Pushing past her pain and grief, she
That evening, funeral pyres were lit for all the fallen tribeswomen.
The Greek Amazons had only lost about 4, while the Northerners had
lost more, not including those who had died before the battle and
before Xena and Ephiny arrived. Tigar stood in front of Sonara's
pyre with a solemn look on her face. Gabrielle and Ephiny stood near
Tigar while Xena sang her mourning songs for the women who had died
"She was everything to me. She was more than just an advisor. I'm
going to be lost without her." Tigar stared into the flames, grief
ever apparent in her eyes.
Gabrielle laid a comforting hand on the queen's shoulder. "I know
how you feel. But Sonara would want you to lead your tribe to future
greatness, not forget about your destiny."
"I know. But home will be empty without her. I will lead my tribe,
but differently now. This was has changed me."
Ephiny nodded. "War changes us all. It can't be helped."
Tigar smiled sadly at Ephiny and Gabrielle. "Thank you for coming to
help us. We wouldn't have survived without it." She turned to
Xena. "And I want to apologize for my behavior. Jealousy isn't the
best quality in leader." Tigar reached her arm forward.
Xena clasped Tigar's hand. "Accepted. I think we'll leave in the
morning, so you and your tribe can mourn your dead in peace."
Tigar smiled again. "Thank you. When we recover from this, we'll be
stronger than we were." And all four turned back to faces the flames.
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