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By: Stephanie “XenaG” Gugle
One month after bringing her children together, Xena Gabrielle, Mel and Solon were headed for Amphipolis. Mel and Solon were going to stay with Lyla in Foxburrow, at least for a while. However, Gabrielle had convinced Xena that Cyrene should finally meet her grandchildren.
“Mother, how much further? I’m hungry and tired,” questioned Mel.
“Not far now. Don’t worry, your grandmother will have plenty of food. Even though she doesn’t know about you two coming, she knows Gabrielle is coming,” replied Xena giving Gabrielle a sly smile.
“Haha, you are so funny. I’m glad you decided to go through with this,” said Gabrielle.
“Me too. Mother has a right to know her grandchildren and they have a right to know her. It will be a good surprise,” stated Xena.
When Xena had finally decided to take this trip, they had sent word they were coming with a surprise. The surprise of course was Mel and Solon, who were chatting away on Argo. They had become inseparable since meeting each other.
The group traveled the rest of the way in silence. When Amphipolis came into view, they picked up the pace. They headed straight for the tavern. Cyrene heard Xena’s voice when she said hello to a village and headed outside to meet her and find out what the big surprise was.
When Cyrene caught sight of the two children on Xena’s horse she wondered out loud, “Who are your young friends, Xena?”
“Mother, let’s go inside. This is Mel and Solon. We’re all hungry and the story is long,” said Xena.
Cyrene looked confused, but nodded and lead them all inside. After getting everyone something to eat and sending a boy to take care of Argo, Cyrene asked, “So Gabrielle, you have a story to tell?”
“Actually, this is Xena’s story to tell. I couldn’t do it justice,” replied Gabrielle.
“Before I tell the whole story, I am going to tell you the ending. Mother, Mel is my daughter, she’s nine. Solon is my son, he’s eleven. Mel, Solon, this is your grandmother,” stated Xena.
Before anyone else could say anything, Xena began her story. Throughout the story, Cyrene looked from her daughter to her new found grandchildren. Gabrielle was captivated, even though she knew the story.
“So there you have it. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before, but I didn’t know that Mel was still alive until a year ago and Solon was happy so I didn’t want to take that away from him. But we are all together now,” Xena said.
Cyrene still hadn’t said a word since Xena began. Now with tears in her eyes she replied, “I understand. I am very happy to meet you Mel and Solon. Come give me a hug and let me get a good look at you.”
The two children went to their grandmother. After hugging each other, they took a step back to allow Cyrene a good look at them.
“Look a lot like their mother don’t they. Especially the eyes. And you should see them fight. Xena’s been teaching them self defense and I don’t think we have to worry about them one bit,” stated Gabrielle.
“Yes, they do look a lot like Xena, especially when she was younger,” answered Cyrene.
Mel and Solon were beginning to droop. They were full and tired from the long journey. “Mother, I think we need a room,” stated Xena with a smile.
“Come on you two sleepyheads, I’ll take you to your mother’s old room. Your uncle is around somewhere, but you’ll have to wait until later to meet him,” Cyrene said as she lead the kids to a back room.
“I wondered if Toris was around. I was kinda hoping he was here,” sighed Xena, who although she would never admit it, was tired as well.
“Xena, I’m tired and I know you are too even though you won’t admit it. After our long journey we could both use a rest. What do ya say?” asked Gabrielle.
“Your right. Come on, we can use Lyceus’s room. Mother has always kept it fairly in order all these years,” replied Xena leading the way to the back of the inn. “Here we are. Well not very clean, but it should do. Mother, we are going to take a nap too.”
Cyrene had walked up behind them. “Okay. I have let this room go the past few years. I used to keep it exactly as he dd. Now I store supplies in here. Make yourselves comfortable and Gabrielle do you want anything special for dinner?” asked Cyrene.
“No, anything and everything you cook is wonderful. That is one skill Xena lacks, you should teach her,” replied Gabrielle, dodging Xena’s punch.
“Haha. She tried, it didn’t stick. Besides, that’s why I keep you around,” stated Xena with a smile on her face.
Cyrene left Xena and Gabrielle to sleep, knowing they were as tired as Mel and Solon who had fallen asleep the minute their heads hit the pillows. Cyrene went to prepare dinner, for family and paying customers, with a smile on her face.
“Mother, did I see Xena’s horse in the stable?” asked Toris as he carried wood in to the stove.
“Yes, her and Gabrielle are here. They brought some friends with them too. They are all asleep right now, I’ll let Xena introduce you at dinner tonight. Now, go bring me some clean water,” said Cyrene.
Several hours later, four sets of eyes slowly opened as the owners smelled something good. Cyrene had a table in the back corner of the inn set for them. Xena and Gabrielle met up with Solon and Mel at the table. Gabrielle’s eyes lit up when Toris brought out the food.
“Mmmmm, this looks great. I could stay here forever with this kind of cooking,” stated Gabrielle. After a quick glance at Xena she added, “But it would get boring after a while, staying in one place.”
“Xena, are you gonna introduce me to your friends?” asked Toris. “Toris, this is Mel and Solon. Kids this is your uncle Toris,” said Xena, loving the surprised look Toris got.
“Uncle? You mean...?” fumbled Toris.
“Yes, these are my kids. Close your mouth Toris,” laughed Xena.
“Don’t you see the resemblance? Look at the eyes. Tomorrow, when we spare with each other, you’ll really see the resemblance,” stated Gabrielle between bites.
“Hi Mel and Solon. Your mother sure does know how to surprise people. I have to get back to work or mother will be after me, but I will come over and chat later,” said Toris, who was still in shock.
“Mother, this is good food! Can you cook like this?” asked Solon.
“No, I am afraid I can’t, but Gabrielle can come pretty close to this sometimes,” answered Xena giving Gabrielle a dirty look for her giggles at the question.
The four ate in silence after that. Xena of course was scanning the room constantly, as did Gabrielle when she looked up from her plate. They both saw the two men when they walked into the room.
The two men scanned the room until their eyes settled on the table at the back. “Can I get you something?” asked Cyrene who had just spotted them.
“Yes please and take it to that table back there,” answered the bigger of the two men.
“That’s a private table,” returned Cyrene.
“We are friends, you can ask her,” said the smaller man.
“Mother, it’s okay they are friends. Hercules, Iolaus, this is my mother,” spoke up Xena who had walked up.
“Nice to meet you,” returned Hercules.
“It’s an honor,” said Cyrene.
“Come on you two, Gabrielle and two of my special friends are waiting,” said Xena. When they got to the table Xena said, “ I believe you know Mel, this is Solon, my son. Solon, these are my friends Hercules and Iolaus.”
“Hello Solon, it is nice to finally meet you,” said Iolaus.
“Yes, glad to meet you,” said Hercules, “Boy, those eyes run in you family don’t they.”
“They sure do,” said Toris, “I’m Toris, Xena’s older brother.”
“Wow, we have just met your entire family, right?” asked Iolaus.
“Yes, and I hope you can stick around a few days to get to know them,” replied Xena.
“Well, we will be here a while not to visit, but because there is an army headed this way. That is why we are here now,” stated Hercules.
“Great! Do you know who it is? So much for our family time,” stated a slightly irritated Xena.
“Unfortunately no, we don’t know who it is, but we do know it is not Callisto, she is busy picking fights with the other gods. She’ll be busy for a while. However, whoever it is, they targeted Amphilpolis. We will know soon enough, they are about a day or two away,” stated Hercules.
“Well, we should start getting ready for them. Mother, I need you to take the women, children, and those who can’t or don’t wish to fight to the caves. Mel, Solon, I would send you two, but I know you won’t stay, so you stay with one of us at all times. Toris, see Mother and the others safely to the caves and make sure they have plenty of supplies then come back and help us,” started Xena.
“Okay,” replied Toris.
“Xena, please be careful and protect Mel and Solon. We just found them, I don’t want to lose them,” stated Cyrene, hugging everyone in the group and heading off to do her task.
“I want to help Hercules and Iolaus,” said Solon.
“That’s okay with me if it is okay with them,” replied Xena.
“Fine with me, come on, let’s see how much that mother of yours has taught you,” replied Hercules, giving Xena a wink as Iolaus and Solon followed him outside.
“All right, Mel, Gabrielle let’s get to work. Gabrielle find out who has stayed behind to help. Assign guards to stand watch. Then take Mel and go find the plants for healing we need. Be careful,” said Xena.
“What are you going to do?” asked Gabrielle.
“I’m going scouting to see how close the furthest scouts for them are and to see if I an find out who we are up against,” responded Xena, “If something comes up, get Hercules or Iolaus, I’ll be back soon. Take care of Mel.”
The room grew quiet as the last inhabitants left. Xena and Gabrielle split up outside the door. Gabrielle and Mel headed toward the center of town where the men staying were gathered. Xena headed off into the woods. Xena’s last thought before being engulfed by the trees was, ‘Not again. At least I have help this time.’
Hercules, Iolaus and Gabrielle assigned those who were staying tasks. The first watch was on and the rest of the men were to sleep, in the morning further instructions would be given. Then Hercules and Iolaus made sure the village was secure and scouted for places to set traps. Gabrielle took Mel and Solon to a safe place to sleep telling them nothing would happen before morning.
Meanwhile, Xena was moving through the darkness without a sound. She hadn’t seen any sign of the approaching army. Suddenly her alert eyes saw movement in the trees. With lightning quick reflexes, she had him on the ground and put the pinch on him.
“I’m sure you know the drill, so whose army is headed this way and how far away are they?” asked Xena.
“The goddess of chaos has gathered an army and ordered the attack on Amphipolis and they should be here by nightfall tomorrow,” stated the man.
Xena undid the pinch and knocked him out. ‘We are in trouble,’ thought Xena, ‘Good thing Hercules is helping us. I need to get back.’
When Xena got back into town, everyone was organized and those not on guard were sleeping. Hercules and Iolaus were outside the barn discussing plans.
“Where’s Gabrielle and the kids?” asked Xena.
“They’re inside with Argo. What did you find out?” returned Hercules.
“Well, we have a very big problem. It’s a goddess we’re up against. None of your relations Hercules, it’s Velesca, the Amazon who was after Gabrielle and they will be here tomorrow night,” stated Xena.
“Well, I can call in a few favors from the gods and maybe get a check on her powers,” said Hercules.
“We need all the help we can get. I just got my family together, I don’t want it broken up again,” said Xena, with passion.
“Iolaus convinced Toris to stay with your mother. Why didn’t you send Mel and Solon?” asked Hercules.
“Because they have too much of me in them. I knew they would sneak back to try and help. Figured if I kept them here I could protect them,” returned Xena.
“You mean we could protect them. They are safe with the four of us. Why don’t we all try to get some rest, the guards are posted and they will alert us if anything happens. Who knows when we will get sleep after tonight,” suggested Iolaus.
“Good idea. Give me a few minutes,” said Hercules, who headed towards the treeline.
Xena and Iolaus went into the barn while Hercules went to call in his favors. Mel and Solon were curled up together on a pile of hay. Gabrielle was not far away, leaning against Argo’s stall.
“They are so innocent. I wish they didn’t have to go through this. Iolaus, if anything happens to them it will kill me,” said a suddenly distressed Xena.
“Don’t worry Xena. They are strong like you, they will get through this. We won’t let anything happen to them. Come on, let’s get some rest,” responded Iolaus.
Xena went over and laid down between her children and Gabrielle. Iolaus picked a spot near the door. Hercules walked in, saw all was well and went to sleep opposite Iolaus, on the other side of the door.
All was quiet that night, although a shadowy figure crept into the barn and went to sleep in a dark corner. The inhabitants of the barn slept, all knowing trouble was getting closer with each hour.
Just after sunrise, everyone in the barn began to wake, including the stranger who found herself cornered by Iolaus. “Hey guys, we have an uninvited visitor, “ he yelled.
All at once the other three friends said, “Ephiny.”
Xena looked at Hercules and asked, “How do you know Ephiny?”
“I met her and Xenon getting off a boat,” replied Hercules, “That explains the name Xenon, you knowing her I mean.”
“Gabrielle, I heard Velesca was headed this way and came to offer to help,” stated Ephiny.
“Thanks, but I don’t want to injure or kill any more people than we have to by getting them involved. We are hoping that Hercules got a check on her powers, the army shouldn’t be a problem, so that just leaves her. Thanks though,” returned Gabrielle.
“Well, I’m staying. Solari and Eponin are in charge, but things are quiet and they know where I am if they need me. Who are these two kids?” asked Ephiny.
“Hi, I’m Mel and this is my brother Solon,” said Mel.
“Well hello Mel and Solon. Where are your parents, why aren’t you with them?” asked Ephiny.
“Mother is right there,” Solon stated pointing at Xena, “but both our fathers are dead.”
“It’s a long story Ephiny. Gabrielle will tell you later, but yes these are my children,” said Xena. “My mother and older brother are out of town, you can meet them later, hopefully.”
“Wow. This is a surprise! I see the resemblance now, the eyes. Do they fight like you too?” asked Ephiny laughing.
“Actually, yes they do. They need work, but they are still real young. I am hoping they don’t choose to follow in my footsteps in that respect, but they can defend themselves,” stated Xena.
“Oh and this is Iolaus. Iolaus, this is Ephiny, Queen of the Amazons,” said Gabrielle.
“Only in your absence Gabrielle,” added Ephiny.
“Sorry about earlier. Nice to meet you. Any friend of theirs is a friend of mine,” stated Iolaus, extending his hand to shake hers.
“Ok, now that we all know each other, let’s get ready for Velesca,” said Xena.
They all headed outside when Iolaus and Hercules both stopped and looked at each other and said, “Queen?”
“Oh yeah, I am Queen of the Amazons, when I am there. It’s a long story. I’ll tell you later,” said Gabrielle.
As the warriors made the rounds, the kids tagged along. Although this was a very bad situation, Mel and Solon were getting lessons that could not be learned anywhere else.
Hercules and Iolaus were setting traps in the places they had chosen the night before. Xena was giving instructions to those who had stayed, including changing the watch. Gabrielle and Ephiny were preparing a hospital for the injured. Mel and Solon went from one to the other, helping and always staying within sight of one of the warriors.
After everyone was as prepared as possible in such a short amount of time, the friends me up. Xena got them all something to drink from the tavern and they sat outside where they could be ready for the approaching attack. While they waited, Gabrielle brought Hercules, Iolaus, and Ephiny up to speed.
“Wow, so when you are with the Amazons, you’re the queen. Should I bow?” asked Iolaus with a big grin on his face.
“Only if you want my staff upside your head,” replied Gabrielle, giving her best impression of Xena’s look.
“Xena, Mel and Solon are welcome to come stay with the Amazons anytime. We will teach Mel our ways, and Solon can stay with Xenon. Just for a visit of course,” stated Ephiny.
“Well, they will be staying with Mel’s stepmother, however if they want to visit, I wouldn’t mind,” returned Xena, looking at her children.
“I would like to visit and learn the ways of the Amazons, especially if Aunt Gabrielle is Queen,” stated Mel.
“Yeah, and I would love to meet Ephiny’s son and visit with the centaurs again,” added Solon.
“Well, when this is all over maybe we will all visit the Amazons. After all, the Queens will need an escort,” said Xena, looking at Gabrielle and Ephiny out of the corner of her eyes. They were both giving her a look somewhere between a glare and a smile.
“Yeah, we could be your royal escort. But do we have to call you ‘Your Majesty’ or can we still call you ‘Aunt’?” asked Mel. Solon nodded because he had be thinking the same thing.
“Just stick to calling me ‘Aunt’,” stated Gabrielle.
“Incoming warriors,” yelled one of the guards.
All of the happiness that had been present just moments earlier was gone as the warriors prepared for the battle. Everyone took their places, Solon stuck with Hercules, while Mel stuck with her mother.
Warriors came out of nowhere. Xena took on as many as five at a time, as did Hercules. Iolaus and Gabrielle had their hands full and Ephiny battled until she though she couldn’t fight anymore. Solon and Mel, fighting with their staffs, helped taking out several men themselves. After fighting for what seemed like hours, all the men were either dead, unconscious or running.
Xena looked quickly for her children. She found them standing not far away back to back, staffs ready. She saw Gabrielle and Ephiny checking for wounded and sending then to the makeshift hospital. Hercules and Iolaus had begun carrying the dead out of town so the villagers wouldn’t see them when they returned.
Xena started towards Solon and Mel when she sensed her presence.
“So, you thought you had trapped me for good. And now you think you have defeated me. Don’t forget I am a god,” a voice said.
Suddenly, Velesca appeared between Xena and her children. Hercules, who was on his way back into town, headed slowly and quietly toward them.
“Hello Xena. My what nice children, whose are they?” asked Velesca.
“It’s me you want, not them. Fight me, without your powers,” said Xena, circling and trying to get between the god and her children.
“No, I understand that worked with Callisto, but not me. No, I’m going to destroy everything you love, starting with...” but Velesca didn’t get a chance to finish her sentence because at that moment Hercules grabbed her and wrapped a rope around her.
“Do you actually think this rope will hold me?” asked Velesca laughing. She stopped laughing quickly though when she was unable to get out of the rope, “What is this?” she screamed.
“A surprise for you. The other gods want to have a chat with you,” said Hercules.
Velesca gave a scream as she disappeared.
“What happened to her?” asked Solon.
“My family wanted to have a talk with her about using her powers. That should keep her busy for a while,” answered Hercules. “Now back to work.”
“Come on you two, I’ll show you some very important tricks a warrior needs to have,” said Xena heading for the hospital to help and show Solon and Mel some healing.
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