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The Amazing Adventures of Kestra The Amazon Princess
Book 1
A Warrior's Love
Teris Xenite

Author's Note:This story is written for one of my best friends in the whole world. You know who you are stand up and take a cyber bow.

A lone warrior stood staring down at his gleaming sword. Palomont shuddered as he tried to gather the strength to take his own life. As he stood there faces flashed before him, faces of those Killed in battle, in duels, and in barroom bawls. They all haunted him. All he had killed had been evil except for that one time that haunted him most of all.

She had been the one that he had wanted for all time. They were to have been married in the spring, but something had gone terribly wrong. He had relived that day every time he closed his eyes for the last ten years and once again he relived it now.

One day as they walked to their favorite spot two men dropped from the trees and grabbed her. They demanded his gold in exchange for her life and he readily supplied it. But it didn't matter to them and they had killed her anyway. Her screams rang through his head even now. He had been to late to save her, he had been to late.

Palomont was snapped out of his reminiscing by the high pitched sound of a woman' s scream. " No, please take me I' m old. Please don't hurt my daughter." Before the scene could progress any farther Palomont charged into the clearing. There he saw an older woman on her knees begging the man to spare her daughter. Who was sprawled upon the ground stunned.

His deep voice filled the clearing as he said " Spare the girl or I swear you'll regret it." The man sensing the danger in his tone sheathed his sword and fled. Palomont knelt beside the girl and after determining that she was not injured; he helped her to her feet. " Oh, thank you so much. We never would have been able to defeat them by ourselves. Oh, my name is Kestra by the way." the girl said so quickly that her words rushed together in an unintelligible babble.

" My name is Palomont and as for thanks there are none needed."

" Oh, young man," said the older women. " you simply must share our fire tonight." And so he came to share their fire and learn more about them.

" So , Alanla where were you heading when you were attacked?"

" We were headed to Poteidia to visit my sister, but it appears that the roads are too dangerous for us to continue."

" Oh don't worry about the bandits I insist on accompanying you to Potedia."

" Well if you insist Palomont. I guess I will see you in the morning."

As Alanla settled down for the night Palomont looked over at Kestra and said " Kestra, I am going to scout around one more time before I turn in for the night. Stay here you'll be safe until I get back." Palomont then rose from his seat and headed into the woods. By the time he returned Kestra was fast asleep.

The next morning they set out at a leisurely pace and stopped in the late morning for lunch. Knowing that Kestra and Alanla would most likely be tired of trail rations Palomont surprised them with fresh fish he had caught in a nearby stream. Once again Kestra was amazed by his perception and thoughtfulness. Kestra was called back to reality by Alanla calling her name. " Kestra, could you give me a hand I think I have twisted my ankle." Kestra doubled back and knelt by Alanla's side and saw that she had indeed twisted her ankle. She called to Palomont who came back to them.

" Well it looks like we are going to be camping out for a while longer ladies." he said and carried Alanla into a cave that he had spotted.

After Palomont had gotten Alanla settled into the cave he pulled some herbs from his saddle bags older. " Let me guess, you're a healer too." Kestra said. " Where did you learn how to do all of these things?"

" Well Kestra you're right I do have many skills and they all come from experience." Palomont replied, then chuckled as he realized that he had used one of Xena's classic lines.

Kestra watched intently as Palomont prepared a draft for Alanla. Crouching down beside of her Palomont said " Here, drink this it will help you sleep and ease the pain." After Alanla had drifted off Kestra asked Palomont a very important question. " Palomont do you think that you could teach me a little about healing? I've always wanted to learn, but the healer in our village wouldn't teach me because I am a girl."

"Of course I'll teach you Kestra. In fact one of the best healers I've ever met was a woman."

" It sounds like she taught you a lot Palomont. What's her name maybe I've heard of her."

" Her name was Xena, and you've probably heard of her. She taught me one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned."

" Really what's that Palomont?"

" She taught me to be myself no matter what the cost, and to always be someone I could live with."

Palomont was about to say more, but when he started to speak they heard a war cry sounding eerily like Xena's. They rushed out of the cave and were stunned to see an extremely tall woman fighting the air. The girl was breathing hard but did not give an inch to her imaginary attacker. At that moment they heard a loud crack of bone against bone and then they realized her attacker was not imagined. As Palomont reached back to draw his sword two voices screamed " Stay out of this!" The voices sounded very similar and both were filled with rage. As the invisible man knocked the girl to the ground Palomont drew his sword and prepared to enter the fray. The girl reached out and caught his ankle and tripped him. " Stay out of this it is not your fight." They felt the air go slack and they knew that he was gone.

The girl rolled back onto her feet with a catlike grace and extended a hand to Palomont. "You are very lucky stranger" she said "most mortals who draw a sword on Ares don't live to tell the tale."

" You speak of Ares, is that who you were fighting?"

" Yes, for some reason my father just won't leave me alone."

" Your father?"

" Yes let me introduce myself I'm Cyreneia Lyceus."

" I'm Palomont and this is Kestra."

"Palomont your name sounds familiar. I think you may have known my mother. Have you ever heard of Xena?"

Cyreneia's question was met by stunned silence. "I'm sorry did you say Xena?" Palomont asked.

"Yes, I did."

"Excuse me for saying so, but you look a bit to old to be Xena's daughter."

"Well, what can I say demi-gods grow fast."

Cyreneia shared their fire that night and Palomont was amazed by their resemblance to Xena. Upon entering the cave and seeing the meager meal that would now have to be shared with another mouth. Cyreneia went out to find something to supplement it with. Apparently she had inherited some of Xena's skills as well. Palomont thought as she entered the cave carrying two plump rabbits, a container of honey, and some wild apples and berries. To Kestra's great relief the rabbits had already been skinned and cleaned. "I thought that I would help out a little with dinner." she said with a smile.

Kestra and Cyreneia knelt side by side as they prepared the rabbits. This really suites Kestra, Palomont thought. Sheíll make some one a very lucky guy. Cyreneia caught Palomontís gaze and recognized the meaning. I wonder how long he intends to keep his feelings a secret from her.

After they had eaten Palomont began to rise from his seat to scout around one last time before he went to bed. He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up to see Cyreneia above him. "Donít worry about it Palomont Iíll scout around one last time before I turn in. You stay here with Kestra." As Cyreneia left Palomont thought Oh great just what I was trying to avoid. Palomont knew that if he spent time alone with Kestra he would soon fall in love with her.

Cyreneia took first watch that night, and as she stared into the flames she sent a wish to Cupid. Big brother I hope that youíll help those two out they really deserve some happiness. Without even meaning to Cyreneia thought back to those that she loved. Their love was the only thing that kept her fathers influence at bay. It made her to shudder to think that without them she would have been haunted as her mother was by demons that she could never escape.

Cyreneiaís eyes shot up as her keen hearing caught the sound of footsteps at the caves entrance. Before she could react she caught wind of the travelers voices and realized that she had nothing to fear. She decide to play a trick on her favorite uncle. She hunched down at the entrance to the cave preparing to pounce on him as he passed by. Iolaus stopped his ongoing banter with Hercules and paused in his stride. "Herc, do you get the feeling that weíre being watched?" Before he could answer he found himself on his back while a very delighted niece sat on top of him. Cyreneia rolled delicately off of his chest and back onto her feet.

"I got you Uncle Hercules, you never even saw me coming." Cyreneia extended a hand and helped him to his feet.

"Now Cyreneia, is that any way to greet your favorite uncle?"

"Is that any way to take a joke?"

"Youíre right princess, besides Iíd have to give up anyway, I never win arguments with you."

"What are you two doing here anyway Uncle?"

"We heard of some trouble in amazonia , Cyreneia." Iolaus said with a note of resignation in his voice.

Inside the cave they discussed the possibility of trouble in Amazonia. They were completely unaware of the immortal presence watching them. Velasca, the goddess of chaos, stood apprising each of them. So this is the daughter of Xena and Ares, finally Iíve found a worthy opponent.

Kestra and Palomont awoke to find the trio still engrossed in conversation. To their suprise breakfast had already been hooked and cooked so to speak. Introductions were made all around and the group was soon talking and laughing together as if they were old friends. By the time they had finished bringing Palomont and Kestra up to speed on the Amazon situation Alanla had awoken.

After breakfast Palomont set off to accompany Kestra and Alanla to Potedia; Hercules, Iolaus, and Cyreneia set off for the Amazon nation. Before the two groups parted ways Cyreneia reached into her saddlebag and pulled out three medallions. She handed one to each of them and said, "If you ever need my help come to Amazonia. Ephiny will know where to find me. Be sure to keep these in site though, they will mark you as friends to the nation and prevent you from being attacked." With all their good-byes said each walked off into their destiny.

When Palomont, Kestra, and Alanla reached Potedia they were all travel weary. Kestra almost jumped for joy when she finally managed to convince Palomont to spend the night at an inn before setting off for Amazonia. They went ahead and said their good-byes, however, for Palomont intended on starting out long before dawn the next day.

Early the next morning before Apollo had wakened, Palomont set out for the Amazon nation. He was so preoccupied with reaching Amazonia that he didnít notice Kestra following him in the shadows. Kestra said a silent prayer of thanks to Artemis and prayed that Palomont would notice her before they reached Amazonia. This method of traveling continued for several days and finally Palomont reached the outskirts of the Amazon Nation.

Cyreneia was their to greet him. "Palomont, its great to see you."

"Well I decided to see if you and Hercules could use any help."

"Are you kidding with Callisto, Valaska, and Hope running around we can use all the help we can get." The two continued their friendly conversation as Kestra pondered her predicament. She couldnít reveal herself now, they would surly send her home. She decided that she would wait until the action started and sneak into the Amazon camp.

Several days later Palomont, Cyreneia, various other heroes and legends, and an army of angry amazons faced off with Hope, Callisto, and Valaska. Palomont and Cyreneia were both heavily engaged in combat when they saw Kestra come running across the field to show them what a warrior woman she was. Both of they started to make their way over to her, but they couldnít reach her in time. One of Velaskaís men had grabbed her and was gone before they got there.

Ephiny heard Valaska call for her men to retreat. The men began leaving the battle field and the Amazons began to pick up the pieces. Ephiny called a tribunal that night where Cyreneia confirmed their suspicions about the retreat. "It wonít last long Eph. Valaska has captured a friend of mine and probably plans to use her to get me to agree to singular combat." The council discussed the possible courses of action far into night.

Meanwhile Kestra was engaged in conversation with Valaska. "So little girl what exactly were you doing on a battle field?"

"I am not a little girl, and I was there to help my friends."

"Well it looks like youíre the one who needs help now, doesnít it? Marmax! Algonis! Chain this little piece of fluff to the post in the center of the camp. Iíll be willing to bet that Cyreneia is already on her way to rescue her little friend."

Palomont, Cyreneia, and a group of six amazon warriors snuck into Velaskaís camp. They reached the trees and waited for an opportunity to rescue Kestra. Early that morning Kestra awoke to the feel of a hand covering her mouth. "Relax Kestra its me. Hold still for a second." Kestra nodded her head and in a few seconds she was free from her bonds and they were heading for the woods.

The next morning Valaska appeared in her armyís camp. The goddessí shrill screams informed the soldiers that they had displeased her. "You let her get away! You incompentant fools! I will destroy the ones responsible for this! Double the attacks on the amazons! Show no mercy! The Amazon Nation will be mine!"

Back in the Amazon camp Kestra slept well into the morning oblivious to the argument going on around her. She was soon to be roused however by the loud exchange occurring between Ares and Cyreneia. As she listened she could easily make out their conversation.

"Cyreneia, why do you refuse to listen to reason? The Amazon Nation is a corpse. You canít revive it. Leave it and move on!"

"No!" Cyreneia screamed back at a noise level that Kestra hadnít realized that mortals could reach. "I wonít abandon them, Ares. They took me in when you abandoned me, and if you donít like it thatís just too bad Daddy cause youíre just going to have to live with it."

"Fine if you insist on this foolishness then I wash my hands of you. Until you get some sense knocked into you donít even think of calling on me. Youíre on your own!" her exclaimed and disappeared.

Kestra watched as Cyreneia fell to her knees exhausted from the bitter, angry exchange with her father. Hercules went over to her and cradled her in his arms like a child. He whispered words to her that fathers had used sense the beginning of time to comfort their little ones and as they had sense the beginning of time they worked. She huddled against him, trusting that he would protect her and keep her safe. He carried her to bed and tucked her in, and stayed with her until she fell asleep.

Outside of Cyreneiaís hut Kestra questioned Hercules about her friendís condition. "She gets like this every time she and Ares have an argument Kestra. This is the worst that theyíve ever had though, and I honestly donít know if she can handle much more from him."

"Hercules she trusted you so completely afterwards? If any one else had of gone near her sheíd have snapped. Why do she trust you so much?"

Hercules sat down on a bench outside of Cyreneiaís hut and motioned for Kestra to do the same. "About 18 winters ago Xena sent word asking me to meet her here. When I got here she told me that through a trick of Ares she was pregnant with his child. She knew I loved her and even though we couldnít be together I would protect her child from Ares."

Hercules lay his head on her hands as he tried to regain his composure. "10 years later Ephiny sent word that Xena had been killed. I came here for her funeral and Iíve been here ever since helping to raise Cyreneia."

Later on that day after recovering from her fight with her father Cyreneia sat at a table in her hut doing something she did before each battle. She had seen many warriors fall without telling the ones they loved how they felt. She didnít want anyone she cared about not to know it should something happen and she not return, so before each battle she wrote letters to those dear to her. This time along with the ones she had written in the past she had two new friends to add.

The next day Velaskaís army once again attacked the Amazon Nation and the amazons once again pushed them back. There was one fatal difference in this battle however, Cyreneia, the amazon princess had fallen. The next day as the nation mourned her letters were found and delivered to her friends. They were all deeply affected by her last words to them, but none of them more so than Kestra.

Her letter read: Now for the formalities. I leave to you my right of caste, and hope that you will accept it and it entails. I know that you will use your strength and courage for the greater good and be an asset to my sisters. May Artemis bless and keep you.

Good Journey,

Kestra wiped the tears from her eyes and found that there was not a dry eye to be found in the circle of friends. Ephiny finally broke the silence. "Soriai, arrange a funeral fire for Cyreneia and our other fallen warriors. After the morning period is finished we will make arrangements to crown Cyreneiaís successor."

"Successor, but who?"

"Cyreneia gave Kestra the right of caste. "

"The preparations will be begun my queen."

Kestra watched Soriai bow to Ephiny and then her before leaving. Seeing the suprise on Kestraís face at Soriaiís gesture it became clear to Ephiny that Kestra had no idea as to what the right of caste meant. "Kestra," she said softly, "Cyreneia has entrusted you with a very important gift. She has given you her place in Amazon society and my family. Welcome daughter." She said and opened her arms to Kestra who gladly took the offered comfort.

In the underworld Cyreneia stood watching the touching scene. She had always known that she would die by the sword, but she hadnít expected the end to come so soon. A dark presence alerted her to the fact that Hades had entered the room. "Cyreneia what are you doing here? You werenít supposed to show up here for at least another 20 years."

As Hades and Cyreneia tried to sort things out in the underworld Ares sat in temple morning for his daughter. He was going to attend his childís funeral, even though he knew it wasnít likely that he would be greeted with open arms. It wasnít supposed to happen this way. She wasnít supposed to die, she was supposed to stay with me forever.

Zeus looked down on both of his sons. Both were hurting. Hercules in his quiet, resigned grief, and Ares in his angry, malicious rage. Such a contrast, his two sons. Twice they had both loved the same woman. First Xena, with passionate, all consuming love; then Cyreneia with a fatherís tender love. Zeus feared that this connection would not be enough.

Xena and Cyreneia could have well been the salvation of Aresí soul, but now with their death he feared his son was forever lost. "Oh Ares, I gave you the best chance for happiness that I could. Itís such a pity that your pride and anger got in the way."

© 1997