Undeniable by Rachel Hahn
by Rachel Hahn

Chapter 3

Varia glanced at the sun which was now low in the sky and sighed sadly. Having taken care of the pyres and gathered as many supplies as they could find that weren't burned, they were making their way slowly towards the caves to meet up with what was left of her tribe. Her senses seemed dulled, and she supposed it was because of what had happened, but it nagged her mercilessly that she couldn't concentrate completely on her surroundings. Eve on the other hand was having no such problem. Her eyes scanned the forest around them constantly, her ears hearing everything from the rabbit chewing on a berry twelve paces to the left, all the way to the trickling of a small waterfall as it cascaded over the rocks to a pristine pool below. Her vision picked up a glint ahead, something nearly hidden underneath a small bush. "Over here." she said as she made her way over to it. Dismounting, she reached down and picked up the item, a thin silver necklace laced with turquoise, and held it up in the light of the afternoon sun. Varia's eyes narrowed as she recognized the trinket. "That belongs to Deena. It's her joining necklace." She took the item from Eve and deposited it in her belt pouch. "At least we know they came this way." Eve nodded and the small group remounted and continued along the path.

Eve sidled her horse up next to Varia's as they rode along in near silence. "You know we're being followed...right?" she whispered.

"Yes, although I nearly missed it at first." She frowned. "Four to the right, four to the left and two trying to cut us off from behind."

"Course of action?"

Varia weighed her options carefully. "One prisoner. Kill the rest."

Eve smiled devilishly. "As you wish, one prisoner coming up." She casually dropped back and informed the rest of the small force of the plan, then rejoined Varia at the lead. "Done. Just say when."

A pause. "When."

Mags, Sarina and Varia quickly veered to the left...Tura, Alena and Vera to the right, while Eve charged headfirst into the bushes behind them for the last two. And there they were, suprised as all Hades when a very wild looking Amazon came barreling through the brush, screaming like a banshee and attacked them. The first barely had time to raise his sword in defense as Eve's blade sliced him open from shoulder to hip. All he could do was gurgle helplessly as he tried to reconcile that he was about to die. She bestowed a feral grin on the other man and watched in amusement as he turned tail and ran. Her warcry pierced the air as she pulled two daggers from her boots and let them fly, watching cooly as they embedded themselves neatly in the back of each of the man's legs, causing him to fall to the ground in a big, smelly heap. She slowly rode up to him. "Forgot something at home?" she snarled as she stood there and watched him STILL try to crawl away. She dismounted, walked over to him and brought the hilt of her sword down on his head. "Fool." she said to him as she retrieved her weapons. Shaking her head, she went back to her horse, grabbed a length of rope and securely tied it to his feet. She mounted and turned her horse back to the glade they had come from, dragging the poor sap behind her. I would have thought they would be more of a challenge than this. It seems just a bit too easy...hmmmmm... she thought as the man's head bounced off a stone in the road. "Ooops. Sorry about that." She chuckled as she sighted her friends ahead. Urging her horse into a canter, she reached them quickly, making sure when she reigned in her mount that the unconscious mess of a man slid to a halt in front of Varia. "Will this one do?"

"Oh yes." replied the Queen. "He'll do nicely." She strode over to the man and turned him over onto his back with her boot. "Mags...waterskin." Magdalena tossed her a full one, and she proceeded to pour it over the man's head until he woke up sputtering and cursing. Varia wasted no time at all in grabbing him by the hair and yanking back hard until she was looking him square in the eye. "Well well..." She fixed a cold angry glare on him. "What have we here?" He cowered in fear under her intense gaze. "Yes that's right, you best be afraid right now because after what I saw today I'm not sure I have the self control to not cut out your heart and show it to you as you die." Throwing him face first into the dirt she continued. "What is your name?"

Silence as he struggled to get to his feet.

"I asked your name swine."

"Maleus...my name is Maleus." he rasped as the pain of standing nearly made him black out.

Varia narrowed her eyes at him. "Well Maleus," she spat out in disgust, "Rule number one...you will show me respect if you have need of your life. Kneel."

"I kneel before no Amazon." he replied indignantly.

Eve circled around behind him and gave him a boot in one of his fresh dagger wounds. "You WILL kneel before the Queen." He fell to his knees in agony, hissing as a gray cloud blurred his vision.

"Now what were you saying?" She began to circle him like a hawk would circle its' prey before striking. "Oh yes, you were going to tell me why my village is burned to the ground...why my Queen has been assasinated.." She came to a stop in front of him and looked him dead in the eyes. "AND who did it."

He did his best to spit at her, but unfortunately he had no spittle left in his very dry mouth. Varia calmly whipped her hand out and struck him clean across the cheek without even looking. "That was an unwise move sir. Maybe you don't understand that it is we who are in control here and not you."

Maleus glared at her through an already swelling eye. "I ain't tellin you Amazon bitches nuttin."

Varia spun around and backhanded him yet again. "You will...one way or another. Even if it means I have to carve you up piece by piece until you beg for what's left of your miserable carcass." She pulled her dagger to do just that, but as she raised it for the first slash her arm was grabbed and held back. Her head whipped around to find her lover staring at her intently. "What??"

"Allow me." said Eve. She stepped up to the still kneeling Maleus and looked at him. Her hands snapped out and effectively pinched the two main lifegiving nerves in his neck. "I've just cut off the flow of blood to your brain. You have thirty seconds to spill your guts or you're toast buddy."

Varia's eyes went wide at what had just occured in front of her. Only Xena knew "the pinch"! What the...? How the...? I didn't know she knew that! Eve stepped back and turned to face the Queen. "Better hurry honey, not much time left.." she purred, raising her hand to Varia's chin and gently pushing the woman's mouth shut.

"Yeah...ok." She shook her head to clear it. She kneeled down so she was face to face with Maleus. "Who burned my village?"

He struggled for a moment, but finally blurted it out. "A-a-Arinius."

Varia's eyes became mere slits at the name. "How many."

The man was by now struggling for every breath. "T-t-two l-legions."

"Where is his camp."

"Beyooond the t-twin hillsss." he wheezed.

"Release him."

Eve stepped forward and restored his life. "Pig!" she hissed. "You don't deserve to live." He fell over face first into the dirt at her feet, unconcious once again. Varia walked over to her and rested her elbow on Eve's shoulder. "Nice touch."

Eve merely raised her eyebrow in acknowledgment and cast her partner a sly grin. "C'mon, let's get to the caves." She turned to address her guard. "Tie him up and lash him to the back of my horse." She turned her gaze back to Varia. "Ready?"

"Yes. Let's go."

By the time dusk was upon them they were near the cave's entrance, and as it loomed ahead, Varia could not help but worry about what they would find inside. Were the survivors followed and slaughtered? She sighed. Well, it looked like she was about to find out.


It wasn't long before Varia heard the soft owl hoots used to signal approaching danger. She smiled at Eve. "They seem to be alright, that's a good sign."

"Yeah. Let them know we're coming in."

Varia brought her hands up to her mouth and cupped them, uttering a soft 'whoooooo....whoo whoo'. Suddenly three Amazons dropped from the trees around them.

The first threw down her mask and ran up to the now dismounting group. "Varia! By the gods you're here!" cried Shayla as she threw her arms around her friend. "I thought for sure they were going to ambush you or something!" She hugged fiercely. "I'm so glad you're alright. Did you find Queen Marga?"

The warrior smiled sadly as she hugged her best friend back. "We're fine. Nothing happened." She let Shayla go and stepped back a pace. "And yes we found the Queen." The blonde was about to speak but Varia cut her off. "We'll discuss the queen in a bit. Right now I need you to assemble the commanders as fast as you can."

Shayla's eyes dropped to the ground.

"What's wrong?"

Shayla swallowed hard. "They've been taken prisoner."

Varia's eyes went wide. "All of them??"

The little blonde nodded her head. "Yes. It seemed they were only interested in the commanders and the elders. When Queen Marga gave the signal to retreat, we grabbed as many of the injured as we could and beat it back here to regroup."

Varia shook her head. "I see." She turned to Eve, "This isn't what I expected. We better get inside and organized in a hurry." She frowned as she faced her friend again. "Have someone stable these horses in the big cave and meet me in the war room as soon as possible." She then nodded to the man strapped to the back of Eve's horse. "And take that piece of trash to the cave deepest in the mountain. I don't want to hear his whining until I'm ready to speak to him again."

"With pleasure." replied Shayla, casting a sneer the prisoner's way. "Messlina...Dulce...get these horses inside quickly." They scrambled to move.

Eve draped her arm around Varia as they walked inside. "So are you going to tell me about this Arinius guy?"

The Queen cast a sidelong glance at the brunette and sighed wearily. "Let's just say he was instrumental in my sister and I joining the Amazon nation."

"I'm not going to get any more out of you than that right now am I?" asked Eve.

"Nope." She nodded to a group of her sisters as they passed.

"Alright, but I want you to know I'm here for you." They turned the corner into a large, brightly lit cavern. Torches had been lashed to the rock outcroppings along the sloping walls, and a large wooden table had been set up in the center, many maps laying open upon its' surface. Eve drew Varia into a comforting embrace. "Don't shut me out ok?"

The warrior wrapped her arms around the strong, slim body of her lover. "I won't have you getting hurt because of me." She took a step back, studying her partner's face before she continued. "I don't want anything to happen to you, so I'm going to ask you to stay here."

Eve's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Don't start that with me Varia. We both know I am a perfectly capable warrior." She glared in annoyance. "And aside from that, I'm not going to sit here and worry over you the whole time you're out there fighting." The warrior began to speak but was interrupted. "Not another word. I'm not letting you out of my sight. Period."

Varia knew she couldn't win this battle. One thing she had figured out about Eve was that she possessed Gabrielle's unwavering stubborness and Xena's fierce determination. "Alright." she replied with a defeated look in her eyes. "But you have to promise me you won't do anything crazy...I couldn't bear it if anything happened to you."

Eve's glare disappeared. "Nothing will happen to me sweetheart." She took Varia's hand and led her over to the makeshift table. "Sit a few moments until Shayla gets back, you need to rest. I'll worry about the details right now." The Queen merely nodded her agreement, practically falling into the chair she was so weary. She watched as Eve slowly walked around the table and began to pour over the maps of the surrounding area. She placed a marker in one spot, one in another, and a third in between the two. Glancing up, she said, "Here are the twin hills..." She pointed to one marker. "Here is where we are." She pointed to the second one. "And here is the village." She tapped the last area with her index finger. "They came through the forest and hit hard and fast, counting on the fact that we would be pre-occupied with the festival." Varia shook her head. "They were right...but there is a way we can suprise them if we come around their left flank to the east. That way, we have the cover of the trees for as long as possible." She paused. "I'm just worried that our 'prisoner' was just a little too easy to catch."

"Hmmmm I see. I thought that as well, but we have to start somewhere and your plan of attack is sound at this moment." stated the Queen. "However, circumstances may change, and we need to be ready for the unexpected."

"Agreed." Eve began to pace nervously. After a moment she stopped and met Varia's gaze with a look so dark and foreboding it made the queen's stomach churn. "There is one thing still nagging me about this whole situation though..."

"What's that?"

Eve frowned. "How could they have known when to attack? Was it just dumb luck or was it something else?" She leaned over the table so her whisper would not be overheard. "And now, with the news that they captured only the elders and commanders, well it seems like they knew just a little too much than they should have."

Varia's eyebrows flew up in alarm. "A spy?"

Eve nodded.

"By the gods, this gets worse every damn minute. We have to find them quickly, Arinius is not a kind captor Eve."

Their conversation was cut short as Shayla entered. "The horses are lodged and the prisoner has been chained."

"Good...thank you." She gestured to a chair opposite herself. "You better sit down Shay, because I have some bad news."

The blonde sat down with a plop. "Oh great. Just what I needed to cap off a really rotten day." She blew out a breath. "Lay it on me."

Varia sighed sadly. "It's about Queen Marga."

Shayla squeezed her eyes closed tightly. "No, no Varia, don't say what I think you're going to say..."

"I wish I didn't have to."

Shayla hung her head and did her best to fight back the tears that were threatening to fall. "I surmised as much." she half whispered. "They killed her in cold blood didn't they? Those heartless bastards!" She brought her fist down on the tabletop and looked up, her eyes brimming with tears.

"Yes...and believe me when I say she will be avenged."

"I know you will make them pay my queen." The tears silently began falling, and Eve reached out to stroke the girl's mass of blonde curls. "We will. You can count on it."

Varia stood and spoke to her friend. "I want you to gather everyone in the main meeting room as soon as you can. They need to know what has happened."

The little blonde snuffled as she got up from her chair. "Ok, I'll go do that now." And she was gone.

Varia turned to Eve. "This is not going to be easy."

Her lover strode over to her and slipped her arms around Varia's waist. "I know." She placed a soft kiss on her forehead. "But we'll get through it together."


Varia couldn't stop shifting her weight from one foot to the other. Her palms were sweating and her knees began to feel wobbly. "Stop fidgeting." said Eve from over her shoulder. Varia craned her head to look behind her and cast a seriously annoyed glare her partner's way. "Easier said than done." she replied as she turned to look forward again. "I'm just a little nervous."

Now Eve just couldn't believe what she had heard. "You?? Nervous? You've got to be kidding!" She managed a sort of snorty laugh that made poor Varia turn crimson from her head to her toes.

"Geeeeeee, thanks for the pep talk sweetheart. I'm so happy to know that my insecurities are such great comic relief." She sighed.

Eve felt horrible, but she couldn't stifle the grin that still was plastered on her face. "Awwwwww honey come on now!" She slid her arms around her lover's waist and pulled her back against her. "I mean, who would have thought the great Varia, Amazon Queen, would be afraid of a little public speaking?" She nuzzled her partner's cheek with her own before placing a soft kiss upon it. "I didn't mean it to sound like I was mocking you. Really." She punctuated her words with a gentle tightening of her arms.

Varia sighed again and turned in her lover's arms, draping her own across the brunette's shoulders. "I know." she said softly. "I'm sorry I snapped at you." She raised her eyes and met a gaze of complete understanding.

"Don't worry about it." replied Eve. "Trust me, you'll know exactly what to say to them when you get out there. You're a born leader and you know what is right by the nation. You have integrity, intelligence and are wiser than most, and I for one, would follow you anywhere." She smiled and smoothed a stray lock of her lover's hair back behind her ear.

Varia looked at Eve in amazement. "How do you do that?" she asked.

"Do what?" replied the brunette.

"Make all my fears just disappear like that?" She hugged Eve fiercely. "I love you, ya know that?"

Eve smiled as she brought her lips close to Varia's. "I love you too." She was about to consumate her seemingly never-ending desire to kiss this woman when she spotted Shayla in the doorway with one arm over her eyes, and one waving frantically in the air as she tried to catch someone's attention. Sighing, she pulled back and nodded her head in the direction of the hall. "Looks like it's time to be Queen sweetheart."

Varia's gaze traveled in the direction her partner had nodded. "Yeah ok, I'm going..." She begrudgingly unwrapped herself from the warm body she had been pressing herself against. Slipping her hand inside Eve's she added, "But you're coming with me."

Eve let herself be led towards the doorway. "My my, aren't we the bossy one today?" She joked as they stopped and waited for the introduction to begin. This comment only got her an elbow in the ribs from her once again nervous girlfriend. "Keep it up Princess...just keep it up!" mumbled Varia through gritted teeth. Then she felt the soft touch of two hands beginning to knead out the knots in her neck and shoulders, and she leaned into the welcome distraction.

"Relax sweetheart." whispered Eve into her lover's ear. "You'll be fine." The introduction began and before Varia walked into the hall, she turned around and laid a soft kiss upon Eve's lips. "Thank you again. Wait here ok?" She smiled and disappeared through the doorway and into the crowded room.

Eve shook her head and moved to the doorway so she could get a better view of the meeting, watching proudly as Varia mounted the steps leading to a huge slab of stone that served as the speaking platform. The crowd shushed as she was announced, and she heard a collective gasp as people noticed she was wearing the queen's adornment. This could go either way. she thought. I sure hope it goes in the good way, because I'm really too tired to have to crack skulls right now... Varia reached the top and turned to face the crowd. Eve noticed the tension running just below the surface of her lover's calm expression. Her fists clenched and unclenched in response to Varia doing the same thing. Come on honey...you can do this. Varia's eyes turned to meet Eve's and at once she felt more relaxed. Then she began...

"Sisters! Hear me! For I bring news important to all." She paused. "Today our village was invaded and completely destroyed." Murmurs ran through the throng. "And today our queen was ruthlessly, and in cold blood....murdered." They went crazy, chairs turning over as their owners flung themselves to their feet in disbelief, and cries of "No, it can't be!" were repeated over and over. Her eyes scanned the crowd before she spoke again. "PEOPLE PLEASE take your seats! The details will be provided if you would just all quiet down." She waited patiently for them to do so, taking another quick glance in the direction of her lifeline standing in the doorway and finding the strength she so badly needed. She took a deep breath and continued..."Our village was invaded by a tyrant named Aurinius. He is a hard and cruel man and carries a vendetta against all of us my sisters." (More murmers) "He murdered Queen Marga and left her honorlessly pinned to the large tree in the east clearing. For this he shall pay with his life." (nods of agreement) "With the death of our beloved Queen, our great leader....(she swallowed back the tears) my adopted mother...I, Varia, Princess of the northern tribes, do at this time assume the throne and begin the assault that will avenge our fallen leader."

Eve's eyes ran over the gathered amazons closely, looking for any signs of dissent. Seeing none, she returned her attention to the podium.

"On our way in, Princess Eve of Arboria was nice enough to disable and capture a prisoner, whom we have interrogated and gotten information from." (Eve's eyes scanned the crowd again, and this time she thought she saw a slight smile on the face of one of the warriors near the back. Hmmmmm....I better file this bit of information for later analyzation. She heard Varia begin to speak again, but kept a close eye on that amazon in her peripheral vision.) "At this time I wish to present to you my chosen second, Princess Eve of Arboria." Eves eyes nearly popped out of her head! No, she wasn't expecting this. Or had she? Didn't matter now, since it was already announced, she could not refuse it...not that she wanted to anyhow. Where Varia went, she would follow. She gathered herself and strode purposefully onto the stage to stand just behind the queen's left shoulder. Varia continued, "Today she has shown that she is invaluable to me...as a warrior, as a confidante, and as my friend." She turned to face her lover. "Do you accept this honor?"

Eve looked solemnly into Varia's eyes. "Yes, I do."

Varia smiled and turned back to her people. "The princess accepts. You will give her the same respect as you do me. The following people shall report to my personal quarters in a half candlemark. Sarina, Shayla, Messlina, Magdalena, Deena, Aliana." (murmuring, murmuring and more murmuring) "Sisters, I hated having to be the bearer of bad news, but together we will avenge this wrong to our nation. Together we will vanquish the enemy that threatens our lands and peaceful existence." She thumped her chest with her fist. "To a strong Amazon Nation!" Eve did the same and the crowd followed suit in the reverant phrase. She bowed to her subjects and left the stage, with her new Second right behind her.

As they passed through the doorway, Eve caught up to her and slipped her arm into Varia's. "See? I knew you would do just fine."

The queen gave her a sideways sorta grin. "Oh and you knew that all along huh?"


"Glad someone did, because I sure didn't." chuckled Varia as they reached the Queens' quarters. "Well, let's tie up the tactically loose ends and get this over with, I'm really hungry."

Eve smiled at her. "Why don't I go get us something to eat while you finish drawing up the declaration of war. I can sign it when I get back hmmm?"

"Sounds good." replied Varia. "Just don't bring back any of that fermented-goat-whatever-it-is that Traina likes to shove down our throats. I swear I'll vomit if I even smell that stuff."

Eve smiled again as she walked to the door. "Little did I know what a picky eater my girlfriend would be. Alright...as you wish...no goat-whatever-it-is."

"Thanks." Varia smiled at her lover. "See you in a few."

"You betcha." replied the Princess as she exited.

Varia took a moment to let all this junk sink in. She poured a mug of water and let herself fall back into the comforting padding of her temporary throne. All the decisions she was going to have to make were going to affect a lot of her sisters in a lot of ways. Sometimes it sucks to be Queen she thought with a soft sigh. Marga...I wish you were here to guide me. I'm so unsure of what to do She began inscribing the parchment that would send her village into a war with more powerful opponent who now outnumbered them probably three to one. But hers and Eve's plan was a good one. At least it seemed that way at the moment. "I sure hope this is the right thing to do." she said aloud, and continued the task before her.


Cassandra awakened to a world of blinding agony. How long she had been unconcious, she had no idea. Her left arm felt the worst at the moment, and as she moved it she nearly passed out. She tried to get her legs to move, but they wouldn't listen. In fact, she couldn't feel them at all, and her head felt like it had been run over by a hundred centaurs. She took stock of her situation...One broken arm, a concussion, some broken ribs and a possible broken back. Not good, not good at all... she thought. Her left eye was swollen shut, and she could feel the dried blood crackling around her nose and mouth as she tested her facial muscles. She got her good eye open and tried to focus on her immediate surroundings. Another cage sat not ten paces from hers, and she could see her sisters huddled together trying to lend support to each other. She tried to take a deep breath and was immediately sorry as a coughing fit overtook her, causing her to temporarily black out again.

When next she awoke, she thought she heard someone calling her name. She managed to get her eye open again and glanced over at the other cage. It looked like a person there, but she wasn't sure since her ability to focus was shoddy at best.

"Cassandra...Cassandra, hey are you awake?" came the voice again.

She tried to crane her neck to see better but a bolt of pain reminded her she shouldn't be moving at all. Her voice was dry and hoarse as she spoke to the image. "Who's there?"

She heard a relieved sigh before the image spoke again. "It's me...Dahla." A pause. "Are you ok? We thought you were dead when they threw you in there."

She decided that right now she would probably feel much better if she were dead. "I'm alive if that's what you mean." She groaned as her head resumed it's horrible throbbing. "But I can't move my legs and my arm is probably broken." She carefully took a ragged breath. "Not to mention the busted ribs and concussion." She heard a small gasp. "But aside from that I'm fine."

"By the gods they will pay for this!" came the whispered curse. "As soon as we get out of here I mean."

"We will." whispered the weaponmaster. "Just as soon as Varia gets here."

"How do you know she'll get here?" came the voice from the other cage.

"Because she will. And I pray to the gods she brings that woman of hers with her." She paused to try and catch her breath. "Until then we have to stay alive or we won't be worth saving. Got me Dahla?"

"Yes. Understood." She watched as Cassandra's eye began to close again. "General...is there anything I can do for you?"

The eye slowly peeked itself back open. "Not unless you can get me some water. And I don't foresee that happening in the near future." She sighed as best she could given her circumstances. "Varia...will.....come soon..." Her voice trailed off as she once again slipped into unconciousness.

Dahla's face scrunched as her mind worked. She just had to get into that cage. "Guards! Guards!" she yelled, and four of the nasty brutes came scrambling over to see what the ruckus was about.

"What d'you want bitch?" asked the tallest and probably ugliest one.

She pointed to Cassandra's cage. "See that woman in there?"

"Yeah so what?" he replied.

"Well if she dies from those injuries, what good will she be to you then?" She took a deep breath while the slug pondered her comment. "I can at least keep her alive if you would let just me in there."

The four men stepped back a few paces to discuss her request, and she quickly sent up a prayer to Artemis they would see it her way.

The leader stepped forward again. "What do we care if she dies?"

Dahla swallowed hard and hoped she could be convincing enough. "Well you may not care if she dies, but I do." She paused. "Let me ask you something sir..." (she nearly gagged on the form of address) "Do you have a wife?"

The man seemed a bit suprised at the question, but answered it nonetheless. "Well yes I do."

"Then maybe you can understand it when I ask to be allowed to go to her." She willed the tears to come forth. "She is my bondmate, and I can't let her die alone."

The man's indifference seemed to shift a bit. "Well...alright, but no funny stuff."

Dahla's heart nearly stopped from shock. Now all she had to do was convince him to give her some water. "Thank you, thank you. May Artemis bless your kindness." She watched as the brute unlocked the door and escorted her to Cassandra's cage. "Would it be entirely too much to ask for a bit of water and a few rags so that I may clean her up?" She put on her best pleading look. "Please? She needs to be presentable when she steps onto Charon's boat."

"Alright, alright. I will get them for you in a bit." He unlocked Cassandra's door and shoved her in. "Remember...no funny stuff."

Dahla shook her head up and down vehemently. "No sir, not from me sir. Thank you from the both of us."

"Yeah yeah whatever." He mumbled as he strode off, presumably to get the supplies she requested.

As soon as they were out of sight, she rushed over to her friend. She was scared to move her, so she did a very careful once over to determine her commander's state of injury. Yep...broken arm, three broken ribs. She lifted Cassandra's eyelid open and checked her pupils, which were dilated and mostly unresponsive. Damn! Those bastards! Damn their eyes! She felt a shift and the weaponmaster's eye opened to peer at her. "Am I dead?"

Dahla smiled. "No...you're not dead. In fact I'm here to fix you up some."

Cassandra tried to move and groaned as the pain consumed her. "Oh gods. This is really bad." Then realization hit her. "How did you get in here?"

"Well..." replied Dahla, "It wasn't easy. I had to lie."

Cassandra almost chuckled before she remembered her ribs. "YOU? You lied? That's a first!" She did manage a small smile. "What did you say?"

"I sorta told them we were bondmates, played on their sense of family values a bit and they let me in. AND they are bringing some water and bandages so that I can make you presentable for Hades."

The weaponmaster's smile grew larger. "But I don't plan on dying."

"They don't know that."

"True. So how long have we been lovers?"

Dahla blushed profusely. "Ummmm...does it really matter? What matters is if we can get you in a more comfortable position. Can you move at all?"

"Far as I can tell, my right arm is the only thing I can move with not too much pain." replied Cassandra with a frown. "Anything else makes me black out."

Now it was Dahla's turn to frown. "Ok then, maybe that's the best way. I'm going to move your arm so I can try and roll you onto your back. I think you've probably had just about enough dirt for dinner eh?" She laid a comforting hand on her friend's shoulder. "If you begin to pass out, just go with it. It'll be easier to move you if you're not screaming bloody murder in my ear when I do it."

"Alright." said Cassandra. "Go for it."

"K, get ready..." she gently positioned her hands under the weaponmaster's wrist and elbow. Luckily for her it was enough to put Cassandra out, and she gingerly turned her over, laying her head and upper torso onto her own lap. She looked around the cage and spied a small piece of wood within reach. This will come in handy for a splint. Then her eyes narrowed...And possibly something else... Just then she heard footsteps approaching and looked up to see the tall man coming towards the prison. He unceremoniously tossed in a wad of rolled up dirty cloth, a small wrapped bundle of something and a full skin of water.

"Don't ask fer nothin else, cause you ain't gettin it." Hewatched as Dahla ripped off a piece of the cloth and saturated it with water from the skin. His eyes softened just a little bit as the amazon gently began to clean the dried dirt and blood from her 'lover's' face. "I'll be sayin a prayer fer her...but don't think I'm bein nice or anything." With that he walked away, leaving them completely alone.

"Well Cassie...may as well get that arm reset while you're out visiting with Morpheus." And with that she began her task.


Eve watched from her chair as the new commanders filed slowly out of the room. Kids. That's what they were. Mostly younger than twenty five winters and definitely a LOT green around the edges. To take an army of this caliber into a battle such as they would be encountering could be their death warrant, but the options were extremely limited to begin with. She crossed her arms as Varia crossed the floor and plopped down in the chair next to her.

"Dinar for your thoughts?" she asked.

Eve smiled wanly. "Well, I was thinking we are sorely outnumbered..."


"And that they lack the battle skills this situation calls for.."

"Yes again."

"I think we are in some major trouble here Var."

"Yes...we are. But do we have a choice?"

Eve dropped her eyes. "No...I guess not. Don't mean I gotta like it though." She looked again into the eyes of her best friend in the world. "They're going to be expecting a counter-attack for sure."

"So we give it to them. Just not the way they're expecting it." She sat back and crossed her arms. "Trick is figuring out how to do that and still stay alive."

"Yeah." Eve sighed. "I wish my mother was here, she always knows what to do."

"Well she isn't, and we don't have enough time to send for back-up." She slipped her arm around the brunette's shoulders. "We'll just have to make do."

"I know." Eve leaned her head back onto her lover's arm. "In for a dinar..."

Varia chuckled. "We'll get through this hon, and then you and I will begin our nice, QUIET life together alright?"

Eve smiled. "Oh I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to that." She gave Varia's leg a pat as she rose from her chair. "Let's get some rest before we drop from exhaustion ok? We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow."

"Agreed." replied the queen as she accepted the held out hand, and was easily pulled to her feet. They walked arm in arm out the door and down the hallway to their sleeping quarters, never noticing the shadow that lingered just a few paces behind them...


Continued in Part Four ------->