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MCA/Universal. I just borrowed them for my own purposes.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
I am Ephiny. Daughter of Rualla, widow of Phantes, mother of Xenon and Queen of the Amazon Nation. This is my song.
I suppose that I will start by saying this: I never wanted to be a warrior. I would have rather been a hunter or an artisan than a weaponsweilder. However, my wishes were not to be observed. As was traditional, on the first day of my first Moonblooding, I was given the Test. I reached into the sacred bowl, my eyes blindfolded from sight, I felt each smooth stone as it slipped through my untried fingers. I do not know what futures I passed over with the Hades-may-care attitude of youth, I only know that I was searching for the stone that felt the most beautiful to me. After a time that seemed an eternity, but which all present assured me was only a few drippings of the day candle, I felt a stone slide into my hand. Even today, I still have this bit of earth that shaped my days and nights for so many years. Round, but with jagged pits pebbling the surface and a bone white shaft of pure quartz bisecting it, I had chosen the stone marked with the rune of the Warrior's Way.
And so began my training. Melosa, an untried princess at the time, and not yet the glorious Queen, was herself one of my many teachers. She taught me the chobos, and though I was never very good with the dual batons, I did learn how to avoid those sharply delivered blows. My best weapon was the short sword. I guess being small, it made sense, but I have never felt more at ease than with a two and a half foot length of double edged razor sharp metal in my hand, the song of the blade cutting through the air and enemy around me. I learned and mastered few other weapons. Staff, short bow and javelin. My instructors were proud of me, I made sure of that. As was my mother. I gave up my dreams of being a weaver and instead threw myself into my life as a warrior. I never lost my crafting skills though, and today, I still sit before the loom and create the odd piece for friends.
Enough on my childhood. As the seasons passed, Melosa became Queen and I took my place in the guard. Slowly, I moved through the ranks, filling places left vacant by others who either retired, or passed into Artemis' hands. The skirmishes and battles fought between us and the Centaurs never failed to bring a heat to my blood that would drive me into the arms of one of my women-at-arms. I shared many a bedroll as a youth, and I'm not ashamed of it. My lightskirted ways changed however, on the day I looked into the eyes of my enemy and saw not hate, but love reflected therein. I learned something that day. I discovered that I was not made of ice, but of a fire so hot, it burned my soul into Phantes'.
My Centaur husband and I loved well. Oh, don't frown at me that way. Just because he was physically made different, does not hide the beauty of his gentle heart. He tamed me, and loved me and then set me free to be wild again. Mitoan militia may have stolen his life from me, but none could ever take his love. And I will bear the gifts of his love for all of my days. But I get ahead of myself.
The day that the Warrior Princess, with her irritating blond bardly wannabe strolled through our forests, my life changed. I'll not be ashamed to say that I hated both of them on sight and trusted neither of them not. The Warrior Princess, we all knew about. And even as she claimed changes in her, I could still see the fire of her warlord years burn from her eyes. This was not heartening to me. Gabrielle...well the bard was an innocent and too naive to be what the others whispered behind their hands her to be, but I held my peace. Much better, I think now, for some to have thought her the warrior's bedwarmer than for them to have offended the same warrior with unwanted attentions. I don't know what Xena thought when all eyes looked away from hers, but I do know that we all slept a little better knowing that the legendary passions of the Warrior Princess would not disrupt our happy homes.
Gabrielle proved herself to me when she tossed herself over the body of my friend and sometime bedmate, Terreis. Even as my friend's life drained into the forest floor, I knew that Artemis had gifted us with someone who possessed a strength and a talent not seen in a long time in our lands. I did not think as much then, but Terreis did right to pass on the Caste to the girl, for she became a true Amazon. No, I was not happy with the decision at first, but now, I so clearly see the wisdom of it, that I am shamed now to recall my harsh words to Melosa on the eve of Gabrielle's acceptance into our tribe.
"You can't be serious!" I had exclaimed indignantly. "That bit of bedfluff will never do as a princess of the Amazons!"
"Ephiny, my oldest student, sometimes we must trust the whims of the goddess and put our fates in the hands of the unlikely ones." Melosa had calmly replied. I shut my jaw with a snap and stomped out of the Queen's hut.
The day of Gabrielle's acceptance ceremony, I wore the mask of a warrior and I shoved my hatred deep down into my soul. I welcomed our new princess with as much grace as I could muster, and allowed myself to be her teacher, along with Eponin, while the Warrior Princess took off for parts unknown to deal with our Hooved problems. I will always thank Artemis for her gift of the Warrior Princess to my tribe. Her machinations allowed us to see beyond our own petty prejudices and end a war before it could begin.
Time passed. I lost my beloved Phantes to Mitoan soldiers, bore my son in a broken down temple of Aesclepius and nearly lost my princess, now my best friend, all in one week's time. Without Xena, my son and I would lie dead at the foot of an ancient oak, our songs unsung and our deeds undone. I think I fell in love with the Warrior Princess for that gift. When I looked into her eyes as she drew my struggling child from my body, I saw not the passion of death, but the gentle glow of life. I knew then that my soul could mesh with another. I know that I fell in love with my Amazon Princess for her freely given gift of kinship that day, as she lay there dying in that wartorn temple. Watching Xena care for her friend, I realized that I could never allow myself to experience the feelings that wanted to consume my soul. I stuffed those unasked for gentle feelings down deep, for something told me that my presence would not be accepted in either of their lives. I could not have been more wrong.
With the return of Melosa's long lost daughter, then the subsequent loss of our strong Queen to the treachery of the twisted Velasca, I felt the soul of the Amazons wither. I am ashamed to admit that I considered taking my son and fleeing the Amazon Nation for Athens, but the wise voices of Solari and Eponin held me steadfast in my place as Captain of the Guard. Amazonia needed me to protect it from the insanities Velaska was preaching. I sent my son to live with his father's kin for safety and took up the reigns as Velasca's second. I prayed to Artemis everyday that Gabrielle would be returned to us, for only she could right Velasca's wrongs.
My prayers were answered, but at such cost! Discovering the death of the Warrior Princess hurt me so deeply, that I think only the grief of our Princess was more crushing. Knowing that Gabrielle would need time to grieve, but knowing as well that the matter of Velasca needed to be addressed, I placed my own sorrow in a rucksack and stowed in a carefully locked corner of my heart. Counseling the bard to give Xena an Amazon funeral, as well as advising her of the situation of her adopted people, I tried my hardest not to listen to the screaming of my soul to reach out for this lovely young, vulnerable woman. I was as shocked as anyone else when Gabrielle found her own voice and took up the mask of the Queen. Proud I was, too. I was the first to offer our new Queen my homage and I pledged my oath of servitude with my heart in my words. When that man called the Thief King appeared as though possessed by the spirit of the warrior princess, and made off with her casket, I couldn't help but feel the belief of our newly made Queen. I stepped in to put a stop to Velasca's timely coup, but I was too late. Her insidious insanities had taken root and those of us in favor of Tradition were quickly overwhelmed. But Xena did not let her bard, or us down. Stealing life from the gods and removing herself from the grip of Hades, she returned, blazingly triumphant. Never mind that she was in part responsible for Velasca's attaining godhood, she saved our people from being ruled by a bloodthirsty, insane bitch.
When Xena and Gabrielle returned from vanquishing the fledgling goddess Velasca, the sparkle of their newly discovered love auroraed their every step. Gabrielle, no longer the shy, unassuming and naive village girl had taken her chances and won the heart of the embittered, emotionally shattered warrior and made her whole again. I envied their love, but I did not let my jealousy color my friendship with them.
Perhaps that is why I failed to see what was happening. The celebration, after winding down, had left me more than a bit tipsy, and as I allowed Xena and Gabrielle to lead me back to my hut, still reeling from the recent events, I did not notice the looks that passed between them. They helped me dress for sleep, and soon, Morpheus had his arms wrapped tight about me and I slept dreamlessly.
Many moons passed before Xena and Gabrielle made their way back through Amazon lands, but when they did, we paused in our rebuilding to celebrate. Gabrielle's choice to make me Queen was both the greatest gift I'd ever been given, and the darkest curse. Dealing day in and day out with the petty squabbles of each individual of the nation was wearing thin on me and the excuse to call a halt to our routine was gladly welcomed. At the dancing circle, I could easily see how the two women had only grown to love each other more deeply, each completely in tune with her partner. Where Gabrielle went, Xena's eyes followed and same was true of the bard. Gabrielle refused the honor of the high table, choosing to sit with her warrior among the guardswomen, and this choice only endeared her to the women more. We all knew that someday our Princess would return to rule, and this knowledge fueled our desire to show her that we were a people worthy of her.
I, seated in my position above the rest, found my eyes seeking out both warrior and bard all through the long night of feasting, dancing, song and story. And even though I was not a part of their love, the glow of their happiness infused me till I was giddy. Once again, as the night ran down, I found myself being helped to my hut by the most important women in my life. This time, I was not tipsy from spirits, but from my own state of emotional and physical arousal. Their casual touches of direction sparked quake-like tremors in the very pit of my stomach and I fought to hide my state. It would never do for them to know that I desired both of them.
Gabrielle preceded Xena and me into my hut, going around and lighting the small lamps I kept within against the darkness. My home, now lit with the soft oil-fed glow, closed around me as I watched another unspoken conversation pass between warrior and bard. Without a word, Xena took hold of the ties to my top and began to undress me.
"Xena, thanks, but I think I can tuck myself in tonight." I protested. Hands encircled my waist from behind and I felt the small compact body of the bard press into me.
"Ephiny, no one said we were tucking you in." The bards quiet voice tickled my ears and her lips brushing along my neck caused the hairs on my arm to stand at attention. Her hands, soft, yet hardened by seasons of staffwork, skittered across my bared abdomen and released the belt holding my skirt. Xena was not idle, her own sword scarred hands had finished releasing my top and now cupped my breasts delicately. Her blue eyes twinkled with sudden mirth and banked passion.
"At least not to sleep..." Her lips, so full and soft, claimed mine as the bard's hands finished removing my clothes.
My body felt the cool breeze of the bard's departure but my eyes drank in the sight of the lithe body emerging in front of me as my princess removed Xena's leathers. Before I realized what I was doing, my own hands joined the bard's in the almost ritualistic process of de-shelling the Warrior Princess. Her mouth and hands were not still, either. Equally, she kissed me, then Gabrielle and she who was not receiving the warrior's lips, felt the heat of her touch. Then, our roles changed, and Gabrielle was soon in the same state of disrobed arousal. We moved as a whole towards my thankfully large bed, and I paused to ask, "Why?" before we three fell into the dance of passion I was certain would come.
"Because we needed to be complete." Answered the bard.
"And so did you." Added the warrior. It was all the answer I needed. Accepting their love and their touch, and returning it with all the love and passion and desire and need I felt, we three made the gifts of our bodies to one and other all night.
I knew they would not stay. The warrior's own quest for redemption would never allow it, but somehow, this knowledge did not sadden me. I was whole once again. I knew that they would be back, and someday, it would be for good. Until that day, I will remain here and prepare our lands for it's rightful Queen.
I am Ephiny. Daughter of Rualla, widow of Phantes, mother of Xenon, Queen of the Amazon Nation, and beloved of Gabrielle and Xena. This is my song.
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