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A Past Remembered
By Anita Louise
The woman turned to see a man walking toward her and she said, "If you had called out any sooner, I would have missed the rabbit. What are you up to brother?" Ephiny stared at the man approaching the woman. He was rather tall and gangly and his hair was longer than most of the women at the village. He replied, "I'm looking for the cows. Mother said she sent you out an hour ago to fetch them. When you didn't show up she sent me to find you. I told her that you were probably day dreaming again."
The woman smiled and said, "Did anyone ever tell you that with that long hair you could pass as a woman?"
He replied, "Not hardly, just ask Glennis."
The woman stepped away from him and said, "Glennis is not the one to ask, she is so smitten with you, she would say anything."
He approached her again and said, "You know, I really worry about you Xena, for a girl, you never seem to have your mind on woman's work. Catching a rabbit is man's work. Have you mended my shirt yet?"
She stuck her tongue at him and said, "You and some of the other men, one day you will be happy I'm not like your whinny Glennis." She began to dance around him singing, "Yes, master, what can I do for you now master." Ephiny had to put her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing. This woman was delightful, and she had never seen a man before, so she was enjoying this spectacle.
He would chase his sister and she would dodge him, the two were laughing as he said, "I swear Xena, I think the Gods were in a failing mood when you were born. You are unlike any woman I have ever known. I pity the man who will become your husband." He didn't know what hit him, as the woman tackled him sending him to the ground. She was on top of him yelling, "Take it back, Toris, take it back." He proceeded to roll on the ground with her, and he knew she wouldn't let up. So he brought out the only defense he could, his fingers. Xena saw the look on his face and she uttered, "No, not that, don't you dare." He had a way of tickling her that she couldn't stand. The fight was now gone and all she could do was laugh, "You win."
He smiled and said, "Say your are sorry, and that Glennis is a wonderful person."
Defiantly she said, "No, I meant it."
He began to tickle her again and this time she cried out, "All right! I'm sorry, Glennis is the most wonderful woman I have ever known."
He stopped and said, "There, that's better, just you remember, that the fingers can be a deadly weapon. They can make even my ornery sister beg for mercy."
The woman replied, "If you didn't know about my ticklish spots you would not have won." She stood up, brushing the weeds off. Glancing over she noticed Toris was standing on a fallen tree, looking for the cows. Seeing her chance she crept up behind him and with one push sent him falling forward right into a mud puddle. As the man sat in the slimy mud he called out to her, "Got me again, Xena, now I owe you one."
"Got to catch me first." She was out of sight.
Ephiny waited till the man got up and was out of sight then she walked back and picked up the dead rabbit saying, "Their loss is my gain." She headed back in the direction of her horse. That evening the women sat around the campfire, most were honing their weapons. Ephiny was leaning back against a tree, mulling over the days happenings when Eponin walked over and sat down. Glancing at Ephiny she said, "You surprised me coming back with that rabbit. Everyone was just scouting today. Tell me how did you kill it? There wasn't a mark on it."
Ephiny smiled at her and said, "Talked it to death."
Her friend laughed, "Well, I can honestly see that happen. Guess you aren't going to tell me. Where did you go today? I couldn't find you."
Ephiny smiled and said, "Have you ever seen any of the other people?"
"If you mean the villagers from Amphipolis, no. Why? Have you?"
Ephiny sighed and said, "Don't tell anyone but I saw the most amazing woman today."
Eponin sit up and said, "More amazing than me, impossible."
"No, really, she was tall, with tan skin, hair the color of the Raven and eyes so blue you get lost in them."
Eponin replied, "You're serious. Did you talk to her?"
Ephiny shook her head and said, "No, I hid in the tall grass and watched her and her brother talk. Then they fought but I think it was more play than fight. She bested him though. She could be an Amazon."
Eponin gave her a serious look and said, "Don't let the others know that, you could get in trouble. We were told to stay away from them."
The woman reached out and caressed Ephiny's face with her left hand as she said, "Sounds to me like you are smitten."
Ephiny reached up and grasped the woman's hand as she replied, "Smitten, I doubt that, curious definitely."
Eponin knew in her heart that she held feelings for this woman and had always thought eventually they would pledge their love to Artemis. She could tell by the glazed look in her friend's eyes, and the excitement in her voice, when she spoke of this village woman, that her friend was heading for trouble. She hoped the next day's hunt would go well and they would all go back to the village, far away from these people. Eponin said, "Come on, it's time to turn in. Your skin has been thrown out by mine, come join me."
Ephiny looked at her and said, "All right, I am tired." The two walked past the other women toward the end of camp. As they neared the spot where Eponin had set up their camp, Ephiny said, "If you don't mind, I don't feel like talk this evening. I'm going to turn in. Wake me for the morning meal."
Eponin smiled as she sat down on her fur skin, "It's your turn to fix the meal, so get a good night's sleep because I will be ravenous." Ephiny laughed as she laid down on her fur skin, stretched out her arms and said, "You wish."
The next morning Eponin was awakened by one of the Amazons and as she sit up, rubbing her eyes, she glanced over to Ephiny. The woman wasn't there. Eponin stood up and said, "Where is Ephiny?"
Leia shrugged her shoulders and replied, "Don't know, the horse she was riding is gone. I guess she has already left for the hunt."
Eponin cursed under her breath, "She's gone back to that place, and I have no idea where that is. Hades be damned, Ephiny you are going to get in trouble and I sure hope this woman is worth it."
Ephiny arrived at the meadow just as the Sun was beginning to ascent into the sky. It was peaceful and she sat and surveyed the area. She hoped that she would see the woman again, she was becoming very curious.
"Hey look boys, we got us a pretty one!" The voice was gruff and came from behind her, Ephiny turned to see several men brandishing swords. She stood up and began to back away as they followed her. One of the men lunged for her as she sidestepped and began to run. "Get her boys, don't let the pretty Amazon get away, the slave traders will pay dearly for her." Ephiny soon found herself surrounded by men, and she knew now why she had never seen any at the village. Her people were pretty peaceful unless provoked and she could sense these men were evil.
She tried to fight them off but there were to many and she soon succumbed to their attack. As she lay on the ground looking up at the men, she wanted to cry out, but knew there wouldn't be anyone there to help her. Why had she been so foolhardy, she needed Eponin. One of the men reached down and grabbed her left arm pulling her to her feet as he said, "Are you alone? Pretty strange seeing an Amazon in these parts." Ephiny stared at the men, they had the look of someone who was hungry and had just been presented with their meal. She said, "Let me go, you have no right."
The man who seemed to be the leader replied, "I have you, that gives me all the right I need." Ephiny brought her left knee up into the man's groin and as he doubled over, she swung around kicking him in the head. The other men were surprised by her attack and she used it to her advantage by striking out at them. The skills she had learned were paying off and she incapacitated each one, then she ran toward a crop of trees. The man who was the leader rose to his feet reached back, and taking out an arrow he placed it in a bow and shot at the running woman. Ephiny felt the terrible penetration exploding in unbelievable pain as the arrow found its mark in her back. Crying she fell to the ground.
The man followed by his men, who seemed dazed, walked up to her. One of the men said, "What do we do now? She's wounded, no Slave Trader will buy her like that."
Their leader said, "Maybe not, but this little vixen has made me mad. Let's have some fun boys and if that doesn't kill her, then I'll do it myself."
The voice was cold and threatening, "Want to pick on someone who can fight back boys?"
They turned to see the tall dark haired woman standing behind them. She was smiling as she twirled a long stick in her hands. The leader shook his head and said, "Am I going crazy or is there something wrong with this place? The women seem to think they are warriors, kill her!" The men charged and within seconds she had beaten them all down. The leader circled her as he said, "You an Amazon too? You're not dressed like one but you fight like one." He lashed out at the woman and met her left foot as she leaped into the air coming down on him. He crumpled to the ground, and she ran over to the limp form of the amazing woman she had seen face the men.
"I really hate to wake you, but I have a plan!" Xena shouted at Ephiny who had been sleeping peacefully. The woman jerked her head up as she said, "What is going on?"
Xena replied, "Nice to see you have come back. I have a plan, get over here and tell me what you see outside this window."
Continued in Chapter Six