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Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
Chapter 11
Welcome Guests and Allies
Xena waited for Gabrielle to calm down from her confrontation with Bridget before she spoke again. “So who exactly are we preparing to fight, Ares or Alti?” Xena asked curiously.

“Does it matter? One or the other or both will probably respond to your little trip.” Gabrielle responded quietly.

“Why do you think that they will be attacking Mars?” It was a huge assumption.

Gabrielle had been waiting for this question and was a bit surprised that it had taken Xena so long to ask it. “It’s a gut feeling of Cara’s and I’m inclined to go with her gut. She’s given me ample reason to not doubt.”

While they had spoken they had passed through several dozen Amazons and had quietly greeted them and had managed to make it to the other side of the clearing and waded through or past many ghostly visitors. In roughly the center of the women they were stopped by a familiar face. 

“Gabrielle, Xena it’s so good to see you both again. It has been a very long time.” The beautiful ghost smiled and pulled them both individually into an embrace. The other Amazons could not see the ghosts, so what they could see was disturbing. “Varia, it is so nice to see you. But what are you doing here? You are a long way from home.” Now that she had been accepted into the Nation Xena could see the ghosts. 

“We’re all a long way from home Xena.” A voice from the past sent a chill down Xena’s spine. She turned from Varia to look upon the one Amazon that she had wronged the most. 

“Cyane…” She was thunderstruck and could find no words to say to the woman that she had betrayed and murdered. “… but you led your sisters into the hereafter. I saw you go.” Confusion was written on her face. At the sound of the legendary name Bridget and everyone around her started to focus on listening to the one-sided conversation.

“I led them to the portal Xena and then I sat on the mountain and waited. I had a long time to think about why you had come to the spirit world to begin with. Helping my tribe was secondary for you; fighting Alti was not even the reason. You came because you thought that she was there.” She pointed at Gabrielle. 

Xena started to get a defensive look and stepped in front of Gabrielle. “What are you leading too Cyane?” There was a growl in her voice.

“Relax Xena, I was curious and I guess I still am. I wanted to know who this woman was that had changed the Warlord so much that she would travel the lands of the spirits looking for her. You didn’t have to help my tribe, you probably could have avoided Alti but you didn’t. You stayed to fight and to help… the Xena that I knew would never have done either of those things. In fact the Xena that I knew would have never been there in the first place. I wanted to hear more about this Queen Gabrielle of the Greek Amazons. So I sat on the mountain and I waited to speak to the Greek Amazons. I asked everyone about her… and about you.” 

“And what did you learn Cyane?” Gabrielle asked as she sidled up to Xena and wrapped her hands around Xena’s arm possessively. 

“I learned that the Xena that I had known was dead.” Cyane only glanced at Gabrielle she was speaking to Xena.

“Not dead Cyane, changed… for the better.” Xena smiled down at her beautiful partner and rubbed her hands.

Cyane nodded in understanding. Then she looked at Gabrielle. “What you said about Xena being forgiven was true. But how did you know? I’ve never spoken with you.”

Gabrielle looked a little embarrassed and even blushed lightly. “I didn’t know actually. But then again I did… I could feel it. All of you were there looking at me and I could feel the approval, the warmth coming from you. Does that make any sense to you?” 

Cyane and many of the ghosts were nodding their heads. “Yes that makes perfect sense, especially coming from you.” Gabrielle was slightly confused by the answer. But Cyane continued before Gabrielle could ask anything. “You know, my wife was like you, she could tame a rabid bear or scream in the face of a raging storm and all the while keep me honest with myself. She was my light and I pray that she will be again. She’s why I’m here; she wanted me to continue to watch over our people.” Cyane’s eyes blurred for a moment as if the ghost was looking into another realm. “It was my blood that made Alti who she is. So I want to see the end of her.” 

“We all want to see an end to that bitch, that bane of our existence!” Another voice from the past spoke up. This one caused Gabrielle to smile. 

When the woman’s specter showed itself Gabrielle squealed and drew the undivided attention of everyone in the area. She ran to her friend and they hugged. That’s when the strangest thing happened. Suddenly everyone could see the ghost as if she were a whole person once again. The group of Amazons that were gathered around Bridget all let out a gasp and Bridget held a hand over her mouth and was stunned to silence. Gabrielle and the specter of Ephiny turned to look at their living audience. 

“They can see you?” Gabrielle asked.

“Apparently they can. Your love is a powerful thing Gabrielle and that’s a good thing, because there is one more person here that I think you would really like to see. I know that she’s been waiting a long time to see you again.” With that being said Ephiny turned to look at a beautiful blond who was wading through the crowd of assembled Amazon ghosts. Gabrielle put a hand to her mouth and tears sprung to her eyes. The living Amazons could instantly see the ghostly woman advancing on their Queen and silently watched the magic unfold before them. 

Gabrielle couldn’t get her feet to move but she could hold out her hands. The woman had no trouble reaching Gabrielle and she moved quickly to cover the distance. She extended her arms as well and when their arms touched they pulled each other into a strong full embrace that lasted a good long time while they both cried into each other’s identical yellow hair.  

Xena, Cyane, Ephiny and Varia stood together and watched the emotional exchange. Xena could see the emotion and love that Gabrielle had for this woman but she did not know her. “Who is she?” She asked the Queens that stood beside her. 

“Let Gabrielle introduce her.” Varia answered.

In time the embrace ended and they turned as one to face Xena. “Xena, honey I want you to meet our daughter, Aella.” 

Xena heard the name and instantly her eyes filled with tears. She gasped and held out her arms and Aella rushed into them. Their hug actually lasted longer and produced more tears and blubbering than the one that Aella had shared with Gabrielle and that was before they drew Gabrielle into the embrace with them.

Gabrielle’s heart was so overflowing with love and joy that all of the ghosts were materializing for everyone to see. It was a scene that would make it into the annals of Amazon legend.

Finally the trio separated. Xena stared lovingly into her daughter’s face. Her eyes were hazel like Gabrielle’s and she was beautiful and petite like her birth mother and her smile could melt glaciers… just like her birth mother. “You are so beautiful!” She took Aella’s face in her hands and kissed her forehead. Xena noticed the Shamans’ headdress on Aella’s head and felt compelled to ask, “You were both Shaman and Queen?”

“Yes the first of many. Mother taught me how to travel the spirit world. She taught me about herbs and healing, hunting and fishing, she taught me how to lead and how to follow and she taught me how to fight and how to love… and she taught me about you. Her stories and her love brought you alive every day for me. But I am so glad that I am finally able to meet you, almost face to face.”

“Oh Aella, there is so much I want to ask you, so much I want to say to you… so much…” Xena looked around at the Amazons that were no longer engaged in any task except watching their long lost leaders talking to the Amazon ghosts of myth and legend. 

“I know mother we have a lot to talk about… with our Queen’s permission I would like to go on the mission with you?” She turned to look at Gabrielle who had been watching them and crying tears of pure joy. Gabrielle was beyond words she simply nodded her head and smiled. 

“Well, I could watch this forever because I am dead but most of you are not and I would keep it that way.” Cyane said loud enough for everyone to hear. “There is much to be done and none of it is getting accomplished.” She strode away from Xena, Gabrielle and Aella towards Bridget. “Bridget, have you picked out a team as your Queen has commanded? Is it a team that you would trust your life to?” Bridget was dumbstruck. “Speak up woman!” Cyane continued.

While Cyane took Bridget to task a group of six women all wearing elaborate headdresses walked up to the half surround Xena and Gabrielle. All were watching Cyane. “Now you all can see why she was made Queen of Queens and why we followed her… why she is legend and why it is a great honor to bear her name.” One of the women said before she and the others joined Cyane.

“Let me guess, those are the ones that you killed?” Gabrielle said quietly to Xena.

“Yup, that’s them… well some of them.” Xena sounded ashamed.

“That was evil mother, but damn impressive as well… they’re pretty scary.” Aella said almost in a whisper.

“I’m the reason that Alti has the power that she does but it was with their blood that her power was made manifest. They have more invested in this than anyone.”

“It’s a testament to how much you have changed that they allow you to stand among them and their sisters.” Gabrielle said as she took Xena’s hand.

“That’s where you’re wrong Gabrielle. That is a testament to your love. All of this is a testament to your love… all of it. The Amazons, the military, the fight for Mars’s freedom, the ghosts that surround us… all of it is a testament to how much you love.” She was looking at her beloved with such awe and thankfulness in her face that Gabrielle was compelled to pull her into a gentle short kiss.  

“If that is so, and I’m not agreeing that it is, it’s all because of you Xena. You’re the one that took the naïve little girl from Poteidia and taught her how to be a woman. If I hadn’t been with you I never would have been made a Princess of the Amazons and none of this would have ever happened.” 

“Don’t you see my mothers; this right here is what it means to be soul mates? One cannot complete her life’s tasks without the other. None of this could have happened had it not been for the both of you doing what you needed to do. Your lives are a single breathing living thing, you only happen to inhabit two bodies.” Aella had taken one each of their hands and she was holding them together between her own. 

They all smiled at one another and then Gabrielle turned her attention back onto the business at hand. Cyane was right, time was wasting. “Well ladies, tempus edax rerum, time is the devourer. Let’s get to work.”