The Snow Owl--Xena's Scroll (Part 1)

“There is an Amazon legend that Artemis blessed the snow owl to lay two eggs each spring. One of the baby owls will be white and one will be black. The black chick will always be a female and it is the duty of the two most seasoned warriors of the Northern Amazon tribe to make the travail up Mt. Astor to retrieve the black chick from the sacred cedar tree. They will bring it back safely to the Amazon village, and the tribe will tend to the baby until it is full grown. In the early winter, the snow owl, now fully grown, will leave the village, only to return to the top of Mt. Astor in order to begin the whole process again. It is a sign of renewal and rebirth and the continued band of trust the Amazons have with Artemis.” Gabrielle looked up from the scroll she was reading. “Do you know of that legend?” she asked me.

I had only been half listening. I was still constantly distracted by her change in appearance…her shorter hair…and the new orange clothes she had been wearing. Our trip in India had been full of changes, and I’m not sure how good all of them were.

She looked up at me then, and knew I was caught, but she smiled patiently, used to my scrutiny by now. “Do you know of that legend?” she asked me again.

We were sitting by our campfire, about a day away from Yakut and her tribe. We had only arrived back in Greece yesterday, and I asked Gabrielle if she minded visiting the tribe, since we were already this far north. She seemed pleased to finally get to meet the young Amazons who had helped me find her after the lava pit incident, and after our recent run in with Alti, I wanted to make sure the tribe was doing all right.

“Yes, I know of the legend,” I answered then, sliding my sword in its scabbard, and slipping down so I was sitting next to her. “The snow owl was nearly full grown when I spent time with the tribe before, and Yakut told me the significance of it.”

Gabrielle looked amazed. “And the snow owl knows which mountain to fly to and which tree to make her nest in?”

I nodded. “Just like the legend says, and it will always lay the two eggs. The mountain isn’t that high; we passed by the foot of it and Yakut pointed it out, but it’s a difficult climb and considered a great honor to be one of the two warriors sent to retrieve the chick.”

Gabrielle had that dreamy look in her eye. “Maybe we’ll arrive in time for you to be one of the warriors,” she mused. “Wouldn’t that be something?”

I couldn’t help but eye her after that. “It’s a two to three day trip to retrieve the baby,” I told her.

She nodded her understanding, and once again, I felt a pang in my heart. I had been feeling it a lot lately, whenever I thought of how things used to be. “I know,” she answered, “but you haven’t been getting much action lately, and…I mean FIGHTING ACTION…” her voice trailed off, embarrassed now by the import of her own statement.

“It’s okay,” I said, trying to be generous. “I know you’re still searching for your Way of Peace, and I want to be by your side to protect you during your journey.”

“Thank you, My Love,” she beamed at me, then gave me a quick kiss, before pulling her sleeping fur up over her. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

“I’ll be here.”

I sat there in the dwindling campfire light for some time, studying my bard’s features, wondering what I was going to do. She told me she loved me, and I believed it, but since our travels to India and our meeting Eli, something was different. I still had the warmth of her smile blessing me daily, but suddenly, when I was used to the warmth of her body as well, she was withdrawing, not initiating any lovemaking with me at all. She didn’t refuse my advances, and she responded fully, but at the same time, I was beginning to really miss her seductive little techniques when she was trying to entice me for some love play. As days went by and she didn’t seem to NEED me that way anymore, I felt less and less like being the initiator, and now, I couldn’t remember the last time we were intimate. It had been long before we had left India,

Yet, I still loved her with all my heart, and the thought of seeking out someone else was out of the question. I had tried to tell her how I was feeling, but it didn’t come out right, and it just made me sound like a wanton slag, trying to get a piece of tail. I shut up immediately, and didn’t bring it up again, hoping that something would happen that would shake Gabrielle from her Way of Peace cocoon and draw her voluntarily into my arms once again.

She whimpered slightly in her sleep, and turned to her side to curl into a ball, drawing a sigh from me. I wish Alti had not insisted on showing her the vision, but no, in her infinite wickedness, she had forced Gabrielle to see the sight that had been haunting me for months, the vision of our crucifixion at Roman hands. Gabrielle later confessed the vision wouldn’t go away, and of course, I knew what that felt like. But Gabrielle was also convinced the vision didn’t have to happen. I wasn’t so sure.


I lifted my head, and saw she was watching me. “You’re going to get a stiff neck like that, come down here and keep me warm.”

I sighed quietly, and did as she said, sliding down beneath the fur beside her. She drew me into her embrace, and laid her head on my shoulder, snuggling in tighter. We’d sleep that way the rest of the night, until the morning sun would disturb my slumber and remind me, once again, that we were fully clothed and just holding each other to ward off the morning chill.

We broke camp, and I whistled for Argo, loading her up for the rest of the journey to the Amazon village. Even she seemed a little disgruntled with me, despite my reassuring her that I wouldn’t be leaving her behind this time. In general, it was a grumpy trio that finally caught up with the Amazons near the Mashewa Forest.

“It’s Xena…Xena’s back!” I heard the excited cries of the tribe before I could even see them, and I couldn’t help but give an ironic smile to Gabrielle. Usually, Amazons were thrilled to see her, so it was a switch to have my name called out in joy for once, rather than hers. When we finally entered the clearing where they had made their home, the Amazons came flying toward me, embracing me or patting my back, genuinely glad to see me.

I returned the greetings, surprised to see so many new faces among them, and for a few moments, introductions reigned supreme. The young tribe was thrilled to meet Gabrielle, as many of them felt they already knew her from my talking about her, and it wasn’t long before she was drawn in the center of a group of them, telling them of our adventures, as she got to know them.

That left Otere and Jostine with me, and I motioned for them to have a seat with me near the fire pit. “Where’s Yakut?” I asked, as she was the only tribe member I hadn’t seen yet. “She’s all right, isn’t she?”

“She’s fine,” Otere answered. “In fact, she’s been traveling with another tribe, learning from the shamaness there. You did right when you picked her to learn the ancient ways, Xena, she has become a very skilled healer, and she has connections with the spirit world that get kind of spooky sometimes. But she is doing very well, and will be back in a moon or so.”

I nodded, pleased to hear that. I had chosen Yakut to become the tribal shamaness because of her serene manner and maturity despite her age. Apparently, my assumptions had been correct.

“Otere!” One of the Amazons was rushing forward to their acting leaders, and I saw it was the Chinwoman Hung Li. She nodded reverently to me, and then whispered something in Otere’s ear. Otere beamed at her when Hung Li drew her head back.

“What’s going on?” I asked Otere, when I noticed the other Amazons were almost all grinning conspiratorially at me. Gabrielle had the same expression.

Otere slid an arm around me, and urged me to get up and walk with her. “Xena,” she said slowly, “Do you remember us telling you the legend of the snow owl?”

Gabrielle giggled at me, when I later walked into the hut and rolled my eyes at her. “Did you suggest it?” I asked her, noting she didn’t really look guilty.

“No, it was their idea,” she replied, helping me remove my battle armor. “But I gotta admit, I didn’t try to talk them out of it. I think it would be good for you to be one of the warriors…and you have to admit, you are far more seasoned than any members of this tribe.”

“But I’m not even a member of the tribe,” I protested, before bending over the wash basin to rinse my face and neck.

“They look at you as if you are,” Gabrielle answered patiently. She handed me a towel, and sat on the bed, watching me. “They speak of you as if you were their queen, Xena. You gave them the guidance to survive Alti’s attacks, and created a kinship among them that speaks highly of your leadership skills.”

She hadn’t undressed…again…so I left my leathers on as I walked to the opposite side of the bed to crawl beneath the covers. “And I don’t even know this Sharona they want me to go with,” I continued. “She sounds like a pigheaded eccentric, spending most of her time on hunting trips. What if she and I butt heads?”

“What if you do?” Gabrielle shrugged. “I have no doubt you’ll cut her down to size in no time, and maybe you can teach her a thing or two in the process.”

I wasn’t gaining any ground, and if the truth be known, the thought of an excursion was beginning to appeal to me. Maybe a day or two separated from me would make Gabrielle miss me. I fought back a chuckle as I slid deeper into the comfort of the bed. Some of the Amazons had described this Sharona as a looker, and if anything could rouse my bard’s passions, it was a heaping dose of jealousy. Yeah, this trip might work out to my advantage after all.

She rolled over on her stomach and stared at me. “You’re looking mighty pleased with yourself all of a sudden”, she noted.

“Not really,” I answered innocently. “Just enjoying this soft warm bed.”

“Uh huh,” she smiled sweetly at me, and then leaned in for a brief kiss, before closing her eyes.

The trip to retrieve the snow owl was to begin on the new moon, which was two days from now. Otere and I left the next morning to find Sharona, to invite her to take part in the mission. Gabrielle had wished me well, and then turned to join up with some of the Amazons who were eager for her to share more tales.

I watched her go for a moment, before turning Argo back to follow Otere. I saw she was watching me with a critical eye. “Yes?” I asked, annoyed by her look.

“I thought you and Gabrielle were…you know…together,” she said finally.

I drew Argo up beside her horse, and gave her a glaring look. “We are,” I said, my voice taking on a challenging tone.

“Okay, okay!” she raised a hand as if to ward off a blow. “She just seems so…I dunno…detached.” Something in my expression alarmed her. “I’m sorry, Xena. I didn’t mean it that way…I can see the love…it’s just that…well, if it were me with you…”

“Well, it’s not,” I snarled back, more vicious than I would have liked. “And Gabrielle and I are very much together…we just don’t feel the need to go around showing it all the time.”

“No problem,” Otere responded, facing the woods in front of us again. “I’m sorry I brought it up. Let’s go find Sharona.”

“Yeah, let’s.”

Otere’s comments had put me in a surly mood, and it was a quiet trip deep into the Mashewa Forest to locate this Amazon warrior, Sharona. Otere told me a little more about her, how Sharona had grown up in a house with four brothers who constantly derided her for being born a girl. When she was old enough to do something about it, Sharona had begun training herself to fight back, and it wasn’t long before she could handle anything her brothers could dish out. I admit I already felt a certain kinship with her I that regard; my brothers had never tormented my gender, but I had felt the need to best them in everything. But it was Cortese and his men who had transformed me into a true warrior; with Sharona, apparently it was far simpler. She had left her home as soon as she was old enough to live on her own and eventually settled in the wild, and had lived there ever since.

“She met up with us a couple seasons back,” Otere continued. “Just about everyone in my tribe has to admire her independence. She dresses in the skins of an albino doe, just to keep her skills honed to elude being seen. She comes and goes from the camp, and leaves us all sorts of game…she practially fed the whole tribe through the winter. She doesn’t ask for anything in return, other than we call on her when we need her. She’s kind of strange that way, always doing for us and never wanting anything in return.”

I listened intently, identifying with most of the story. I found myself wondering if Sharona felt guilt as I did, some hidden guilt over a past that she could never make up for. It’s what kept me trying to help others, and it was one of the reasons I felt drawn to this particular group of Amazons…they needed me.

The sun, high in the sky, filtered through the trees, when the brush got too thick for us to continue by horseback. We dismounted, and Otere told me, “She should be around here somewhere, her hut is just a little east of here.”

I was pleased with Otere’s directional skills, as we had been traveling for quite some time, but now, I had something else on my mind. My ears had caught a slight sound that didn’t quite seem in tune with the forest around us. “Stay here,” I told Otere. “I think I may have found her.” Otere nodded, and I immediately took to the trees.

Now, THIS was fun. I leapt from tree to tree, catching a flash of something white from time to time, as I pursued my prey. The one I was chasing remained on the ground, and I was impressed by the stealth with which it moved through the forest, seldom making even the slightest of sounds. I was slowly closing in on it though, when I realized I was being led in a circle, right back to Otere.

Otere blinked in surprise when she was suddenly surrounded by the two of us. I had jumped down from the trees to land in front of her, and at the same time, a white-clad figure had appeared out of nowhere, and had grabbed Otere’s arms behind her. Otere squeaked, then gasped in relief when the figure released her.

“Gods, don’t do that to me!” she shrieked, and then turned to slap at the shoulder of the assailant. Then, just as quickly, she threw her arms around the visage in white. “You scared a moon’s growth off me, Sharona.”

I heard a low chuckle of pleasure, and watched in amazement as long, elegant digits reached up and lowered the fur trimmed hood from around the face of the woman I had been tracking. I’m sure my jaw dropped as I stared at the woman before me.

“Sorry, Otere,” I heard a sultry voice purr, and the pursuer, Sharona, suddenly pulled Otere’s slight body to her for a hug. She rubbed her hands up over Otere’s back, and then her eyes were locking with mine, before brazenly moving up and down my body.

Gods, I had seen beautiful women before, but none had ever made me hold my breath out of shock. I had been expecting a wild woman, long unkempt hair, dirt covered face, maybe even a missing tooth or two. I was in no way prepared for the short white gold hair, swept back to reveal perfectly designed features, the most dominating of all her full red lips and smoky green-gray eyes. I saw a dimple appear in her left cheek, as she gave a slight smile.

“And who have we here, Otere?” she asked, her arm still around the young Amazon who was staring back and forth between us in amazement. “I certainly would have noticed this Amazon before.”

“I’m not an Amazon,” I answered, finally regaining my composure. Another woman’s looks were certainly no reason for me to forget my stature, and I mentally shook myself, before turning on the charm. Yeah, she was gorgeous, but I knew that I wasn’t exactly a slouch.

“Sharona, meet Xena, the Warrior Princess.”

“Ah…Xena…that explains how you were able to track me so easily,” Sharona said then. Her right hand came forward, and after a second’s pause, I reached my own out to cross her palm. Her touch was warm, and her hands suprisingly soft. “It’s nice to meet you finally, Xena.”

I nodded slowly. “Likewise.”

Sharona invited us back to her hut, telling us she had some fresh venison stew on the fire, and Otere agreed, not bothering to check with me. Within moments, I found myself seated in a chair, a bowl of stew in my hands, still entranced by this warrior named Sharona.

She had handed Otere another bowl of stew, and the young Amazon then made herself comfortable in another chair. Then Sharona stood, and reached for the fasteners on her coat.

One thing about my own leathers, they didn’t leave much to the eye, and as if returning the favor, Sharona slowly stripped the coat she was wearing down over her shoulders. I chided myself for being so tempted to offer to help her remove the coat, especially when I saw Otere eyeing me curiously. She seemed quite unaffected by the seductive movements of Sharona, who had now removed the coat completely.

She was a few inches shorter than me, but still taller than the average woman, and the white deerskin she wore hugged her body like a second skin. I could make out the prominence of her breasts, even the separation between the two of them, and as I continued to watch, I saw the impression of her nipples make their presence known. She wasn’t totally immune to my own charms, after all. Lower, the dress clung tightly to a flat abdomen, and ended up mid thigh, only slightly longer than my own battle dress. Her bronzed thighs gleamed invitingly at me, and I found myself sitting up a little straighter, letting her get a look at my own muscled limbs. She didn’t look like me, not really, but at the same time, I could tell her body was nearly as well-conditioned as my own. To put it mildly, I was intrigued by here.

I thought of what Gabrielle’s reaction would be on meeting this tall blonde goddess, and the sudden thought of my bard brought heat into my cheeks. What was I doing? It was one thing to check out another woman, but a far different thing to feel the sudden desire to see what color her pubic hair was! Ashamed of myself, I attacked the stew with renewed vigor.

Otere had already told me that Sharona had made the snow owl trip last year, and she didn’t seem surprised when she was asked to do it again this year. She nodded patiently as Otere raved about how the voting had been unanimous for her, and when Otere finally came up for air, she sat down opposite us. “I’ll do it on one condition,” she finally answered.

“What’s that?” Otere asked.

“As long as Xena goes with me.”

Her incredible eyes were trained on me again, but I didn’t answer, only smiled slightly. “Xena has already agreed to go,” Otere raved, sounded greatly pleased. “This is great!”

I tore my gaze away from Sharona, and nodded at Otere. “Looks like it’s all set then,” I said, silently pleading that Otere would take that as a cue to let us get out of there.

She didn’t. “Yep, can I have some more stew, Sharona?”

“Of course.” Sharona’s smile this time was of genuine affection, as she refilled Otere’s bowl, but once again, it became all heat as she focused on me. “How about you, Xena? Are you still hungry?”

I was starved, and not for food. Could she sense that? I dunno, but I wanted out of there fast, before I said something really stupid. “No thanks, I’m going to head back to the village…I’ll see you in the morning when we leave.”

I could hear Otere saying my name questioningly and Sharona’s knowing laugh as I made a hasty retreat.

Otere had found Sharona’s camp so easily, I had no doubt she’d make it back with no trouble, so I took the long way back myself. I was ashamed of myself, for feeling such a strong attraction to the statuesque woman, especially when I knew Gabrielle was waiting for me back at the Amazon village. It wasn’t her fault the Way of Peace was leading her in this way, and I knew eventually, she would be able to loosen up and want me to make love to her again. I was angry at my body’s own inability to go a few days without sex, especially when I knew what Gabrielle was doing was so important to her, still, at the same time, I could feel the dampness in my breeches that Sharona’s lithe body and searing gaze had brought about. It had been too long for me to not feel my body shaking with desire.

I dove into the river that flowed near the village, and let the icy coolness of the water sooth my enflamed cunt. I could have sought an orgasm or two on my own fingers, but my stubbornness wouldn’t let me, not when I knew Gabrielle was perfectly healthy and within an arm’s reach at night. I had told myself I wasn’t going to approach her until she had approached me first, and not for the first time, was regretting that, but it was the principle of the thing.

When I heard Otere returning to the camp, I redressed, and followed closely behind.

It wasn’t hard to spot Gabrielle, sitting near the fire pit, with a group of Amazons circling her, all sitting cross-legged. I know Gabrielle had them caught in her spell, as she told them about Eli’s philosophy for life. It’s ironic all he spoke of was love, and I wasn’t getting any. But what I had heard of Eli’s teachings were beautiful sentiments, and he did have a special miraculous healing gift, so I couldn’t begrudge him that.

Otere was standing outside the circle, listening in amazement to the words Gabrielle spoke. As I approached, she looked at me puzzled. I guess spending the time with me this morning made her feel braver around me, and she asked me pointblank, “Do you believe in all that?”

I gave her a slight smile. “Gabrielle believes in it,” I answered. “That’s all that matters.”

Otere just continued to shake her head in amazement, and I walked to Gabrielle and my hut to change out of my damp shift. By the time I was outside again, I saw Otere had joined the circle around Gabrielle.

“When are you going to leave?” Gabrielle asked me the next morning, as we prepared to spend another day with the Amazons. I was going to help some of them with their tracking, and Gabrielle was planning on spending the day teaching the more maternally inclined Amazons some food preservation techniques.

“Early tomorrow morning,” I answered, lacing up my boot, “even before the sun comes up.” I said it teasingly, knowing how much Gabrielle hated to be woken up that early, but she surprised me by eyeing me suspiciously.

“What did you think of this Sharona?” she asked me then.

There it was…a question that would bear a careful answer. I tried to appear indifferent. “She’s older than me,” I said, “and she seems…skilled. She was friendly enough, but I have the feeling she wouldn’t be one to cross swords with, unless you’re very, very careful.”

Gabrielle was digging through her saddlebag, pulling out some of our oft used spices. “What does she look like?” she asked.

I stopped, in mid motion of fastening my breast plate. Her question, though not unexpected, had taken me off guard. Finally, I answered, turning my body slightly so I didn’t have to face her. “Oh…short blonde hair, muscular build, she was attractive enough.” I had been so close to describing Sharona’s eye colors or the shape of those plush full lips, and remembered who I was speaking to just in time. I turned the tables. “Why do you ask?”

“Oh, no reason,” Gabrielle had gathered the things she needed, and was almost to the door of the hut before she turned back. “It’s just that…well…I’m getting the impression from some of the tribe that she is rather uh…gorgeous…but is very ‘hands off’ with the tribe. Jostine called her an ‘ice princess’. All glitter and beauty, but very cold to the touch.”

I smiled at Gabrielle, seeing through her ruse instantly. Catching her near the door, I bent and gave her a lingering kiss. “Well, I wouldn’t know,” I told her. “I only touched her to shake her hand.”

Gabrielle smiled at me warmly, stretched to give me a kiss on the cheek, and then disappeared outside the hut.

For a moment, I stood there, just taking in what had just happened, feeling guilty that I hadn’t been a little more descriptive about Sharona. I wanted Gabrielle to trust me though, and didn’t see any reason to stir up jealousy where it wasn’t warranted, at least not when I wasn’t going to be around to enjoy the results.

But as the day went on, and I caught glimpses of Gabrielle from time to time, I felt myself wavering a little. The truth was I found Sharona very attractive and more than that, the woman was sending sexual signals straight from her pussy to mine. It had been a long time since I had allowed anyone to get to me like Sharona had, and I took to groaning to myself whenever I thought about the fact that I would be spending at least the next two days with her. As the day wore on, I convinced myself that I would have to lay it on the line with Sharona from the beginning, and let her know under no uncertain terms that I was off limits, and was going to remain that way.

There was a dinner held in honor of Sharona and myself that evening, and the Amazons were a little fired up when Sharona didn’t show up for the feast. I, on the other hand, was feeling slightly relieved, as I realized that as much as I downplayed my encounter with Sharona, one look at her and Gabrielle’s suspicions would more than likely be aroused. The Amazons swapped stories about their encounters with the mysterious warrior, and as the night went on, the stories became more revealing. I was beginning to become slightly uncomfortable, and leaned over to Gabrielle.

“I’ll be leaving early, My Love,” I whispered, making sure my voice tickled her ear. “What say we turn in early?”

The look she gave me was one I had been aching to see for weeks now. “Let’s go,” she said, her voice low and seductive.

Once we were inside the hut, she took my hands and led me to the bed. “I’m going to miss you, Xena,” she whispered, stepping between my thighs so she was closer to me.

“Good,” I answered, letting her beauty surround me in waves. Her hands stroked over my biceps, and then she reached for my scabbard, unfastening it from me. My chakram was next, and then piece by piece, she removed my breast plate, my gauntlets, and my arm bands. Her fingertips stroked over each area of skin as she uncovered it, and I found myself leaning back on my hands and closing my eyes as I experienced the touch I had been longing for too long. I felt her hands working on my boots, and I sat back up, so I could stroke her bent head.

She smiled up at me, and pressed the side of her cheek into my palm, rubbing against it lightly. “I’m going to miss you, Xena,” she said again.

I nodded, and found my voice strangely hoarse when I answered, “And I will miss you too. More than I can say.”

She nodded, and her lips caressed over my palm. “I’ve got to be honest with you, Xena,” she said, her eyes suddenly looking troubled. “Some of the Amazons think that Sharona is going to try to seduce you. They say she’s never met anyone who’s her equal, let alone a better warrior than her, and it’s going to put her libido in overdrive to be around you.”

Looking down into her lovely gaze, I suddenly remembered the look Sharona had given me while hugging Otere. It wasn’t the first time another woman had appraised me, no, far from it. But it was the first time I had felt my body respond to such a blatant display, and it made me want to create a few sensations in Sharona as well. When I felt the need to answer a challenge, it wasn’t easy to get me to back down. I was wading into deep waters.

I opened my mouth to answer her, but she pressed two fingers against my lips. “You don’t have to say anything, Xena,” she said. “I trust you. I love you and I trust you. I just want you to be careful and hurry back to me. I’m ready to leave this place and pick up where we left off before we left for India.”

My brain suddenly raced. Was she saying what I thought she might be saying? I lifted her slightly, so she was standing between my thighs again. My gaze bore unflinchingly into hers, as I moved my hands over the straps of her shirt. “Gabrielle,” I husked, “why don’t you get more comfortable?”

My breath was forced from me when I saw the familiar look of a caged animal in her eyes. She trembled, and I could tell she was fighting not to pull from my touch. “Uh, Xena…” she began, and when my hands abruptly released her, she took a step back. “I uh…well, you have to get up so early, and well…I’m not sure I’m ready to…”

“Don’t worry about it,” I said, trying to sound sincere. I laid back on the bed, and pointedly closed my eyes. I couldn’t believe how easily she played me, only to deny me yet again, but I’ll be hanged if I was going to give in and make the first move again!

I heard her sigh, and then move around to the other side of the bed, “Good night, Xena,” she said softly.

I only grunted in reply, too angry to do anything else. I don’t know who I was angrier with…her for misleading me so much, or me for allowing it to happen.

As it often happens, my anger had softened somewhat by the next morning. I didn’t intend on waking Gabrielle up, just because I know how much she hates getting up before the sun rose, and she surprised me by waking up on her own. I was almost finished dressing, when I heard her stirring behind me.

When I was fully dressed, I turned to see what she was up to. She was just watching me, her hands on her hips. “Were you going to leave without saying goodbye?” she asked me, not disguising the hurt in her voice.

“No,” I answered her. “I just wasn’t going to make you get up with me. I was going to kiss you goodbye before I left.”

I saw her relieved smile, as she approached me. “Well, I’m up now, and I wanna see this Sharona with my own eyes,” she told me. She walked to where I stood, and took my hand. “Are you ready?”

“You’ll want to put your coat on,” I told her, even as I was reaching for mine. “It cooled off considerably during the night.” There was no pun intended, but I silently mused how that statement seemed to be true on a variety of levels.

Gabrielle pulled her coat on, as I did the same with mine. “Are you ready to go?” she asked me then.

“As I’ll ever be.” I let her lead the way out to the center of the village where most of the Amazons were awaiting me.

Otere stepped forward, and told me that the advanced scouts reported that Sharona would be there at any moment. She then called Jostine forward.

I suspected Otere and Jostine had developed a relationship, but now, the dark skinned Amazon was holding a wooden box out toward me. “This is to keep the chick warm on the return trip,” she told me, in her quiet voice. “There is a false bottom in it where you can place heated rocks to make sure it doesn’t get too cold.”

I checked over the design of the box. “Very nice,” I told Jostine, and turned to hook the box on Argo’s saddle. I accepted the gifts of food and a filled wineskin offered to me from other appointed tribe members, and then there was the sound of a horse approaching.

For someone who was reclusive, Sharona certainly knew how to garner attention. Her horse was a tall steed, and as black as midnight. Sharona was wearing the white coat again, but this time, the hood was lowered, and a cheer went up as she rode into the camp, smiling confidently at the Amazons. I could see genuine affection in her expression, and could identify. This group of young women was easy to learn to care for.

“That’s Sharona?” I had forgotten about gauging Gabrielle’s response until now, and felt her squeeze my hand tighter as she stared at the new arrival.

“Yeah, that’s her,” I replied, watching Gabrielle study Sharona. Her eyes started at the bottom, and traveled slowly all the way up Sharona’s body. Somehow, even though she was covered in the white fur coat, I knew Gabrielle could imagine what the body underneath might look like.

“You described her as ‘I guess she’s attractive’?” Gabrielle said sarcastically then, and I didn’t like the tone in her voice. I couldn’t blame her though, if the situation was reversed, I’d be thinking the exact same thing.

“You know how it is,” I shrugged apologetically, watching Sharona as she urged her horse to move closer to us.

I don’t know if Gabrielle did, but now she was lifting her head to meet the scrutiny of Sharona. “Hello,” Sharona said evenly. “I don’t think I’ve seen you before.”

“This is Gabrielle,” I spoke up quickly. “She is my soul mate…my love.” I’m glad the words flowed easily from my tongue, and Gabrielle seemed to like my introduction.

Sharona nodded evenly at Gabrielle. “A pleasure,” she intoned. “I’ll make sure I bring Xena back safe and sound.”

I smiled inwardly as many of the Amazons around us snorted at that. I didn’t need anyone to take care of me. “I appreciate that,” Gabrielle replied just as evenly. I could tell she was growing more and more uncomfortable as the seconds passed.

“Are you ready to go, Xena?” Sharona asked then, her eyes focused on me.

“I’ll be along in a minute,” I responded.

“All right, I’ll ride ahead.” She turned on her horse, and exchanged well wishes with the Amazons before walking her horse out of sight.

When she was gone, I turned to look down at Gabrielle. I know I had a guilty look on my face, but she smiled peacefully up at me.

“Hey,” I said softly, and was surprised to see her shaking her head at me.

“Don’t worry about it, Xena,” she told me. “Like I told you last night, I trust you. Now, have a good journey, and hurry back to me.” Her mouth met mine, and for the first time in days, I felt that she really desired my love. It figures, just as I was getting ready to leave her.

“I will,” I told her, and our lips pressed together again. She was pulling away then, and I swung up on Argo, smiling at the comments the tribe made. I gave her one last look and was struck by a sudden sadness in her expression despite a forced smile. I couldn’t get that image out of my head as I rode off in the direction Sharona had ridden.

I found Sharona waiting for me just a little way up the trail. “Wanna give the horses a run?” she asked me.

“Yes,” I replied, grateful for the excuse not to have to talk to her just then. I had too much on my mind, and suddenly, I was fighting back tears.

She grinned as if reading my thoughts, and then urged her horse into a gallop. “Let’s get her, Argo.” I clucked my tongue, and was grateful Argo’s gallop would create enough wind to dry the tears I couldn’t hold back.

We eventually had to slow the horses down, as the forest we were entering was very thick, and it would be dangerous to make them run through the maze of trees. We had ended up with me in front, so now we were traveling single file, moving down a barely discernible path. Mt. Astor loomed about a half hour ahead.

I was lost in a jumble of thoughts, when I realized she had spoken. “What’s that?” I asked, glancing over my shoulder.

“I said it sure turned cold last night, and it feels like it’s getting colder.”

“Yeah,” I nodded. “There’s snow in the air…I just hope it isn’t enough to slow us down much.”

“In a hurry to get back to the village?”

The question could have been casual, but there was an edge in her voice. “Yes,” I answered, not taking the bait.

“I don’t blame you,” she continued. “That little Gabrielle of yours is one of the hottest pieces I’ve ever seen.”

Argo responded immediately when I pulled on the reins, urging her to turn. Sharona’s horse pulled up abruptly when it couldn’t go any further without entering the scratchy underbrush.

“Gabrielle is many things,” I said slowly, “but one thing she isn’t is a ‘piece’. I’d advise you to remember that.”

“I’m sorry…” she answered easily, putting up her hands as a peace gesture. “She’s a beautiful girl…it’s just hard to see you tying yourself down to one lover.”

I was bristling at the implications of her words. “What are you saying?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at her.

She looked taken aback by my reaction. “I’m sorry again,” she protested. “I didn’t mean to offend you. I think it’s great that you’ve found someone you’re so happy with…really.”

I continued to glare at her for a few seconds, then gave her a nod of acknowledgement, and turned Argo again.

Silence reigned for a few minutes, and then we were at the foot of the mountain. I finally decided to speak. “We could take the horses partway up the mountain, but when it starts snowing, it could get treacherous for them”

She nodded her agreement, and we dismounted there. I took my saddlebag, my bedroll, and the wooden box Jostine had given me, and made them comfortable on my back. Sharona took her own saddlebag and bedroll from her horse, along with her bow and arrows, and I was surprised to see her say something in a low voice to her steed. I had never known someone else who could communicate with her horse through voice commands.

“Be right here by tomorrow afternoon,” I told Argo, and received a soft nibble on my shoulder in response. She nickered, and then was trotting off in the same direction as Sharona’s horse. “Ready to go?” I asked her.

She flashed me her pearly whites. “After you,” she grinned.

Mt. Astor wasn’t the steepest course I’d ever climbed, but there were some places where full concentration was needed to keep from slipping downward. Sharona told me that there were several small plateaus on the way up, and when we reached the first one a couple hours later, we stopped to catch our breath and get a drink.

A particularly cold gust of wind swept over us, and I saw Sharona shiver and draw her coat tighter around her. Maybe the freezing weather would work to my advantage. It was going to be hard enough to sleep beside her tonight, and the cold weather might force her to keep that body of hers covered. The sight of her in that white dress was indelibly etched in my mind anyway.

“You don’t talk much, do you, Xena?” she asked, taking a long draught from the wineskin, and then wiping her mouth on the back of her hand.

I found my eyes riveted to her throat as she swallowed. Even that had an erotic effect on me.

I shrugged, and just smiled wickedly at her.

She was nonplused. “It’s funny…I’ve lived by myself so long, you’d think I wouldn’t talk much either. I guess it’s because I talk to myself so much.”

I let my curiosity get the better of me. “What makes you want to live by yourself?” I asked her. “Does it ever bother you?”

She seemed genuinely pleased that I was finally asking her something for a change. “I grew up in a house full of men…four older brothers and a father. My mother died when I was born. It was impossible for me to have any privacy growing up, and I think it was harder because I was the only female in the family. So when I was old enough to take care of myself, I decided I’d never have to fight for my privacy again. The Amazons come around often enough to make sure I don’t get lonely.”

I chuckled. “Yeah, they’re a friendly group.”

“Now, THAT’S an understatement,” came the laughed reply. “And they aren’t shy either. I don’t think there’s one among them who hasn’t let me know that they’re uh…available.”

I found myself remembering when I had first met up with this particular tribe. At first, they had been frightened and intimidated by me, but as time went on, and they grew more comfortable with my presence, they had done the same with me. None of them had really tempted me though. Still, it was always flattering.

I nodded, not feeling like having to defend myself by telling her I had been in the same predicament. She grinned at me.

“I gotta tell ya, Xena, some of them were pretty tempting, especially that little Otere, but I’m glad I resisted. It’s hard to spend the night with someone and pretend it never happened the next day. I could handle it, but I don’t think any of them could.”

I was no novice to one night stands, but didn’t feel like going into that with her, so I just nodded again.

She shook her head at me. “You’re clamming up on me again. Ready to continue?”

“Yeah. This time, you lead for a while.”

As we continued up the mountain, I quickly understood why she had followed me for so long. Despite the chill in the air, the climbing warmed us up, and we had both unfastened our coats. When she moved in certain ways, I could see flashes of her legs, and I found myself focusing on the next time it would happen. Occasionally, I would even get a glimpse of a thigh, and I found my mouth growing parched again. I was grateful when she announced we were at the next stopping place

I pulled the saddlebag from my back, and tossed it toward her. “There’s some food in there if you’re hungry,” I told her, but she shook her head. “No thanks.” She leaned against the cliff’s wall, and waited for me to pass her the wineskin. I drank my fill before handing it over.

“Ready to go?” I asked, after she had recapped the wineskin.

“Give me a chance to catch my breath!” she laughed. “Gods, I thought it took forever to travel up here last year with Eliza. I hope it isn’t feeling the same way to you!”

I quirked a grin at her. “No, nothing like that.” I pointed to the west. “But the snow’s coming fast, and I’d like to be at the next plateau before it hits. Didn’t you say there was a cave there?”

She followed my outstretched finger, and could see the haziness that was filling the sky. It hadn’t been there a few minutes ago, and it meant the snow storm would be upon us soon. “Yeah, there’s a nice little cave we can shelter in. Let’s go, we can be there in less than half an hour.”

I was impressed by her stamina, and once again, followed her up the mountain. We were less than a couple hours from the top, I could see, but the snow was coming down now, and before long the travel got slippery. I didn’t see how we would be able to reach the top today.

The next stopping place was in sight, when the wind suddenly kicked up furiously. We were hit by a barrage of freezing rain, and it took my breath away as it soaked through my coat and into my skin. The temperature lowered even more, and it had been bitterly cold before.

“You doing okay?” I called, noting that Sharona’s movements had slowed greatly. She was only a couple steps above me, but it was hard to see her through the sleet.

“Yeah, but my hands are freezing!” she called back, and her foot slipped a little before she regained her toehold and pushed herself upward again.

My own fingers were rapidly stiffening, but I forced them to continue functioning as I moved onward. I was so focused on hanging on, I was caught by surprise when my face suddenly pressed into the back of one of her moccasins.

“Sharona?” I peered upward, and saw she was hugging her body to the cliff, but had stopped her climb. When she didn’t answer at first, I called out her name again.

“I can’t find a place for my hands!” I heard her calling then. “My fingers are too numb!”

Oh Zeus, it was understandable, but our situation was becoming far too dangerous for us not to make it to the plateau. I ascertained the situation, and then began climbing again, until I was parallel with her.

“Hang on,” I told her, and I wrapped an arm around her midriff. Despite the thick coat she wore, she was shivering violently. Hanging on with one hand and a tenuous foot hold, I pushed us upwards, my own aching fingers barely telling me when I had found a strong enough niche to hold our weight.

The climb was torturously painful, and although she wasn’t that heavy, I was beginning to wonder if my strength would hold out when I heard her cry out. “I can see the plateau! Can you give me a little boost?”

Something in the grateful tone in her voice helped me regather my energy, and I lifted her up easily with my right arm. She scrambled to safety, and then reached down with her icy hand to help pull me up the rest of the way.

“Sweet Artemis, thank you!” she exclaimed, once we were both safely on firm ground. “I can’t remember being that out of it in a long time.”

“We’re in this together,” I said with a shrug. “How could I explain leaving your frozen against the side of Mt. Astor?”

She chuckled at me, then wrapped her arms firmly around herself. “Here’s the cave,” she said, “Let’s get a fire going and try to thaw out.”

I followed her inside the small cave, and was pleased when I was able to stand without stooping over. There was a small fire pit dug in the center, and even more blessedly, a small stack of dry brush against one wall of the cave. I quickly arranged the kindling, and before long, a fire offered us its crackling warmth.

I helped Sharona take a seat near the fire, and took one of her hands, doing my best to rub some feeling into them. She was strangely quiet as she submitted, and offered me her other hand when I reached for it. After a few minutes, some of the color began to return to her hands. The action of rubbing her flesh had brought the blood circulating back to the surface of my own as well.

“Better?” I asked, before adding a bit more wood to the fire. Already, I could feel the warmth of the burning wood pushing away some of the cold bite in the air.

“My hands are, thank you,” she answered, her voice strangely subdued. “I don’t think I’m ever going to feel my toes again.”

I glanced at her feet. “Yeah, those shoes might be great for sneaking through the brush unannounced, but they don’t offer much protection against the cold.” With an exaggerated sigh, I sat myself down cross-legged, and reached for her nearest foot.

“What are you doing?” she suddenly asked, drawing herself to sit bolt upright.

“I’m going to get the blood flowing in your feet again,” I answered her, as I slipped the soft leather shoe from her foot. Her toes were blue from the cold, and I quickly pulled her other moccasin off, so I could rub both feet at once. “We don’t want frostbite to settle in.”

Even her feet were elegant, and it was a fact that I tried to ignore as I leaned over and blew my breath out over her foot two or three times. I partially unrolled my bedroll, and wrapped it around her feet, and began to rub them briskly.

“Quit yer squirming,” I told her after a minute. Her ass had started wriggling around the moment I had started rubbing.

“I can’t help it, I’m ticklish,” she replied, even breaking into an occasional giggle. Finally, I was satisfied her circulation had returned, and I relented in the rubbing, although I kept her feet wrapped in my bedroll.

“I’ve uh…never had anyone save my life before,” she said after a long moment of silence. I looked into her eyes and for the first time, thought I saw a vulnerability. “I’ve always been careful not to put myself in that kind of danger.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I told her. “We’re partners in this. Besides, who knows when you might save my life sometime?”

She scoffed at me. “Yeah, right. How many times has someone had to save your life?”

“You’d be surprised,” I answered. “Gabrielle alone has saved my life more times than I can count.”

“Really?” I could tell she was intrigued now, and she was watching me intently. “Give me some details.”

Gabrielle was the one with bard skills, but I did my best to relate some of our adventures to Sharona, as the storm raged outside. After we had been there about an hour, I ventured outside the cave and gathered up all the brush within easy reach, and with conservation, we’d have enough to get us through the long night. Sharona had pulled some of the vegetables from my pack, and added some diced pheasant with them into a skillet, and before long, there was a delicious odor of food permeating the cave.

I watched Sharona stir the concoction, grateful that she was able to cook. If we had to rely on my own cooking skills, we might not make it. “Hopefully, the snow will stop before the end of the day, and we’ll be able to get the chick in the morning,” I told her.

She nodded that she had heard me, then lifted the spoon toward her mouth, blowing on it. I watched as long fingers took up a piece of meat, then pushed it between luscious lips. She hadn’t cooled it enough though, and she waved her hands in the air as she blew out a gust of air through pursed lips. I felt my pussy clench from the sensuality of her actions. How could a simple act like that be so arousing to me?

“Almost done,” she purred at me, and she went about pouring us both another cup of hot tea. My coat was still damp, but had warmed considerably since we had entered the cave. The tea served to warm my insides even more, and it wasn’t long before I was actually feeling comfortable in the cave. Comfortable that is, until I’d catch glance at Sharona’s fair hair and realize with a start that it wasn’t Gabrielle.

“Here ya go, Xena.” It took me a minute before I realized Sharona was offering me a plate laden with food, and I took it with a grateful if sheepish look.


We ate in silence, and I even had seconds, recommending Sharona did the same to build her strength up. Between us, we finished off all the dish; I forget what she called it, and Sharona set the dishes outside the cave so the storm would clean them. The sun was beginning to go down by now.

I sat back against the far wall of the cave, and drew my sword from my scabbard. I took out a polishing cloth, and began to stroke up and down the length of the blade. It was a common thing for me to do, and would help soothe me when I was troubled with too many thoughts.

I was successfully able to tune out the presence of Sharona for quite some time, as I worked on the blade, shining it to perfection. I had forgotten all about her until she spoke.

“Do you know how long we have to bring the chick back to the village?”

After I realized what the question was, I shrugged. “I don’t think there’s any set length of time, just as long as we’re successful. Why?”

“Just making sure,” she answered. She was sitting cross-legged on her bedroll, absently whittling on a piece of wood. I had noticed she normally kept her sword on her horse, but kept daggers hidden up each of her sleeves. And, of course, she had her bow and arrows with her.

I resheathed my sword and put the polishing stone away. I skootched my ass up a little closer to the dwindling fire, and rubbed my hands together, stealing some of its warmth.

After adding a few branches, I just watched the fire burn for a while. The silence in the cave was deafening, until Sharona spoke again.

“So how long have you and Gabrielle been together?”

Finally! I knew we would get around to this sooner or later.

“We’ve been traveling together for about four and a half years,” I answered. “And we’ve been well…close…for about three of those years.”

“I see.” Sharona wrinkled her brow. “And you love her?”

“Very much.”

“I’ve heard a lot about your sexual past,” she continued after a beat. “And I never thought you could be the kind to settle down with one person.”

I laid back on my bedroll, and entwined my fingers behind my head. “Five years ago, I would have agreed with you. And then, Gabrielle walked into my life.”

“And she changed you, just like that?”

“Well, sort of. I was already on the path to good, but she made sure I stayed that way. And then later, when I began to learn to feel again, I realized I was in love with her.”

“And you haven’t desired anyone else since then?”

I glanced over at her, but her face was a mask of innocence. Still, I realized, I was treading a very fine line here.

“I’m not going to lie and say I haven’t found other people attractive. But I love Gabrielle too much to hurt her by cheating on her.”

Sharona smiled that easy seductive smile of hers. “That’s lovely,” she said. “I admire your devotion.”

“It’s all due to Gabrielle,” I told her simply, and relaxed again.

“What makes her so different?” Sharona asked me then.

I drew in a slow breath as I thought. “Now, that’s hard to answer,” I finally replied. “But when I’m with her, I’m at peace, even if the world is violent around us. It’s like she is a balance to all the wickedness in me, and she always brings light to illuminate my darkness. And I’m a very dark person by nature.”

“I don’t think I could ever be as dark as you are,” Sharona said thoughtfully. “I don’t mean that as an insult…just a comment.”

“No insult taken,” I responded. “And I don’t know of anyone else who has the dark side that I have. That’s why I think Gabrielle and I were made with the other in mind.”

“Wow!” Sharona looked taken aback by all this. “So tell me, Xena, what’s the sex like with her? It’s always been said that your appetite for sex was huge.”

Now, things were going to get a bit tricky. “Gabrielle is the perfect lover,” I finally answered. “She is able to read my moods and knows exactly what I want. And the great thing is, she desires the same thing.”

“That is beautiful,” Sharona said. I didn’t see the need to tell her that’s how Gabrielle was, up until a few weeks ago. Hopefully, that would be enough to put her off. “But you don’t ever miss the errr…parts that a man has to offer?” she asked then.

I grinned at her. “Gabrielle and I pretty well have all that covered,” I answered.

“But it’s not the same is it?” she asked me then. “A wooden or stone dick can never be the same thing as a flesh and blood one.”

“I know what you’re saying,” I answered. “But with Gabrielle I never have to worry about love being part of the deal. And that’s more important to me than a pair of hairy balls any day.”

“You really think that?” she asked.

“Yeah, I really do.”

I watched her mull that over in her mind, then couldn’t resist asking, “Do you have a lot of experience with men? I mean, that’s kind of unusual for an Amazon, isn’t it?”

“Actually, I’m not an Amazon,” she answered me. “I mean, I was never made an official member of their tribe. And yeah, I’ve had my share of men. But I prefer women.”

Well, there it was, laid out as plain as day. I didn’t want to get myself in any deeper, so I just nodded and smiled. “I’m going to get some sleep now,” I told her. “If the snow stops, we’ll want to get an early start in the morning.”

I slid under my sleeping fur, and laid down on my back, staring at the roof of the cave. I did my best not to look over at Sharona, but was aware that she sat unmoving for a long time. For some reason, it didn’t surprise me when she spoke again. “Xena?”


“I uh…oh, never mind.”

“G’night.” I rolled over on my side, facing away from her. I hoped I was able to put off any attraction she might be feeling with me by telling her of my love for Gabrielle. There was a real problem if I wasn’t successful. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to resist her entreaties. With the way Gabrielle has been treating me lately, I’m not even sure I wanted to.

I awoke a couple of hours later, realizing the cave was enveloped in pitch black. We had let the fire go out, and the frigid night air had already begun to permeate through my bedroll. I got up quickly, and wrapped my coat around me, as I hurried to get another fire started.

“Gods, I’m freezing my tits off here!” I heard Sharona moan from her side of the fire pit.

“I’m sorry, it’ll start warming up soon,” I answered, tending to the fire as it began to crackle merrily.

“Gods!” I could hear her teeth chattering from where I sat by the fire. I stood up and retrieved her coat from the corner and threw it over the top of her bedroll. “That will help.” I said.

“Th-thanks.” I returned to my own bedroll, and tried to get comfortable, but the cold had seeped into my bedroll while I was up tending to the fire. Goosebumps broke out on my body, although I was able to clench my teeth and keep them from chattering.

I could still hear hers though, going a league a minute, and finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I got up, and carried my bedroll and coat over to her side of the cave. She saw me, and gave me a grateful smile, before lifting the corner of her bedroll allowing me to slide in next to her. I took the time to spread my own bedroll on top of us, and then told her, “Roll over away from me a second.” When she obeyed, I spread my coat on the vacated spot. “Okay.”

She rolled back over and faced me. “Thank you very much,” she whispered, her eyes glowing warmly at me. “I’ll bet you think I’m a real weakling huh? Not much of a warrior?”

“Not at all,” I said. “I know what it’s like when you catch a chill…it’s hard to get rid of. And besides that, you look after that Amazon tribe with care. That alone makes you a warrior. Now, get some sleep.”


Like Gabrielle, she was quick to drop off, and in no time, I could hear her breathing take on the regular deep pattern of slumber. I rolled over on my back, and tried some of my relaxation exercises to get me to sleep.

It had almost worked…I was just beginning to feel the darkness overtake me, when Sharona made a little sound in her throat, and moved closer to me. One of her arms curved around my waist, and she pressed her head close to the spot where my neck meets my torso. In no time, her warm breath told me she was still sleeping.

There was no way I’d be able to sleep now! Not with the sensation of her body pressed into mine. I was wearing my leathers, but despite the thickness of the material, all I was aware of was the heat of Sharona’s body pressed into mine. From the description Otere and the others had given of her, I had expected a fierce aggressive woman, not a soft beautiful woman who had human frailties. I wondered if she was being so complacent intentionally, knowing that I would never act that way. Tomorrow, I determined, I’d try to rile her a little bit, and see what kind of an act she was really pulling.

Somehow, I managed to drop off into a light sleep. Sharona moved around a lot, and it seemed each time she moved, she ended up a little more on top of me. I was doing okay, until I woke up, feeling the heat of her lower thigh pressed at the juncture of my crotch. I woke up while my hips were in the process of moving into her leg. Like I’d been burned, I pulled back immediately, and shoved her off my body.

“Huh?” she shook her head sleepily, pushing herself up on her hands.

“I don’t mind sharing body warmth,” I couldn’t help but growl, “But that’s it. Keep your hands and your legs to yourself.”

I could see the confusion on her face, and then understanding took over. I’m sure my own expression had something to do with it, and I only hoped I was able to disguise the pleasure in my eyes with irritation. “Sorry,” she told me, before plopping down on her stomach.

I didn’t sleep the rest of the night.

Sharona awoke just at dawn the next morning, and I grunted a greeting at her, then told her, “The snow stopped in the middle of the night. It’s going to be a beautiful day today, and the sun will melt most of the snow from yesterday. We’ll set out in a couple of hours.”

“Okay.” I handed her some bread and cheese, and then went outside the cave to check out the next expanse of mountain we were to climb.

I heard her come up behind me. “Thanks,” she said, holding up the breakfast she was munching.

“No problem,” I told her, without turning to look at her. “The rest of the climb looks fairly easy,” I said, nodding toward the cliff.

“It is,” she answered. “The toughest part is what we went through yesterday before reaching this plateau.”

“Good, are your hands okay?”

She stretched her fingers in front of my face. “Just fine, thank you,” she replied.

“All right,” I told her, finally sparing her a look. “Finish your bread, and we’ll get started. We could be back at the base of the mountain by tonight if we really push it.”

She started to reenter the cave, and then turned to face me. “Are you in that big a hurry to get back?” she asked. “Am I really driving you that crazy?”

“No, not at all,” I said, way more quickly than I would have liked. “I just…”

“Miss Gabrielle?” she supplied with a questioning tone.

I thought about it. Did I really miss Gabrielle? I suppose that was part of the reason I wanted to end this trip, but there was more to it than that. The real reason I wanted to end this trip was because I felt something building in me, a lustful passion I hadn’t felt in a long time. Whether or not Sharona was aware of it, she was bringing out the old Xena in me…the Xena who didn’t give a care who she hurt when she fucked whom she wanted. The strength of its power was frightening me.

“Yeah, I miss her a lot,” I said finally.

Sharona stared at me for long seconds, as though trying to figure me out. “I’m curious Xena. What did I do last night for me to get kicked out of bed?”

I felt a slight wave of heat rush over me as I remembered what had happened. “Inappropriate touching below the waist,” I told her finally.

Sharona took that in, then grinned. “Sorry,” she said. “I have no control over my subconscious mind.”

“It’s not a problem,” I replied. “I mean, I know you were asleep.”

“Yep.” Suddenly, Sharona closed the distance between us. I couldn’t step back, or I’d be falling off Mt. Astor.

“Look, Xena.” Her incredible eyes were more gray than green as they drilled into mine. “Let me get this over with now. “ One of her hands came up to stroke over the side of my face. “My sleeping body did what my awake body has been dying to do ever since I first laid eyes on you. You are the most amazing, enchanting, breathtaking woman I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. I want you, Xena. I want to suck your pussy, I want to lick your tits, and I want to feel your fingers deep inside me. It’s making me act like a fool, I know, but I am tired of playing games.”

For a moment, I didn’t know what to say. I had heard some brazen approaches in my day, but something in her choice of words and her expression captivated me. She continued to lock her gaze with mine, and then her hand, which was still resting on the side of my head, slowly stroked its way back over my cheek. She turned her hand, so the back of her fingers brushed lightly across my lips. Her exquisite features were suddenly merely inches from me. I saw her eyes flutter close as together, we closed the remaining distance between our lips.

Gods, I don’t know what I was expecting, but she had the sweetest lips! At first, our mouths were the only part of our body connected, then with a moan of submission, I grasped her shoulders and pulled her tighter to me.

Her height was perfect so I didn’t have to strain my neck to reach her mouth. She wound her fingers through the curly hair at the very nape of my neck, and the kiss deepened, as our lips simultaneously opened against the other. Her coat was open, and I felt her nipples pressing hard into my own breasts, which were throbbing for more. I felt my cunt gush juices into the crotch of my breeches. And then…

I heard Gabrielle’s soft voice saying, “I trust you, Xena.”

With a frustrated moan, I pushed Sharona away. It took more than a little effort.

“I’m sorry,” I told her. “I just can’t do this to Gabrielle.”

“But you do want me, don’t you, Xena?” she asked, her face looking flushed. “Do you have the courage to at least admit you desire me?”

“You know I do,” I answered, accepting the challenge. “I won’t deny that. But…I’m with Gabrielle.”

She crossed her arms across her chest, and continued to give me that sultry pout. “You know what I said yesterday, about resisting the Amazons because it would be so awkward the next day? That’s because they’re so young…kids really. But you and I, Xena, are full-grown women with full-grown women’s needs. I know you’re capable of a night of incredible sex without any lingering feelings.”

I listened to what she was saying, and understood perfectly. But there was something bothering me about all this. “Is that the only thing you feel for me, Sharona? A physical attraction? The need for me to fuck you?”

“No, Xena,” she answered, her voice very reassuring. “I am absolutely intrigued by you…what makes you tick? Where does your strength come from? Everything about you. But I can also tell that Gabrielle has a lock on you, and there is no way I can ever expect or hope for more than one night with you.”

The crazy thing was, I believed what she was saying. And I was tempted, oh so tempted to just throw caution to the wind and take her up on the offer. But Gabrielle’s “I trust you, Xena” kept repeating through my head, and I just couldn’t do it.

“You are the most intriguing, sexy woman I’ve ever met, with the exception of Gabrielle, Sharona,” I told her. “But I hope you can understand when I have to turn you down.”

For a moment she just stood there, her eyes still locked with mine. And finally, she said, “Okay, I gave it my best shot.” She smiled at me, and that dimple that fascinated me so made its appearance known again.

“And it was a hell of a shot,” I acknowledged. “I hope you can understand.”

“Of course, I do,” Sharona answered. “And I admire you for it, I really do. But at the same time…”

I nodded that I understood. “Friends?” I asked, holding out my hand for her to shake it.

She hesitated for just a second, and then reached out to take my hand. I felt my breath catch when she drew my hand up to her mouth, and kissed the top of it genteelly.

“Friends,” she said.

Gods, had I made a terrible mistake? I don’t know. “Are you ready to start for the top?” I asked her.

The lingering snow and ice made the rest of the climb slow going. I had tried to insist that Sharona climb first, but she wouldn’t hear of it. She didn’t want a repeat of yesterday, when I had to help her and told me this time, she wanted to be there for me. I know it had been a real blow to her pride to ask for my help yesterday, so I acquiesced, leading the way up the remaining cliff face.

It was early afternoon when we finally reached the top. It didn’t take long before we were standing at the bottom of the lone cedar tree on the top of Mt. Astor. “After you,” I said with an exaggerated arm sweep, indicating I wanted her to climb the birch first. I had heated some rocks at our campfire on the last plateau, and the box was already to receive the little owl.

“Thank you,” she smiled at me. We had loosened up considerably on the way up the mountain, and I had told Sharona I would give her the honor of actually removing the baby owl from its nest.

I waited until she had climbed up a few branches, before I followed her. I couldn’t wait to check out the view from the very top point of the mountain.

“She’s here!” I heard Sharona call out and then she was holding the fuzzy little owl out for me to see. I was just getting ready to reach out my hand and take the baby from her, when something else caught my eye. I couldn’t believe it at first. This woman was the most daring person I had been around in a long time. Sharona had removed her underwear, and I was staring at her golden haired pussy as she hovered above me. Her skirt was short enough that I could make out the moisture glistening on her outer labia.

“You like what you see?” she asked, and I realized she was grinning down at me. She never gave up! “Come on, Xena,” she said, and I stared as she ran a hand between her legs, rubbing it hard against her slit. “Just one more branch and you can have a taste.”

I’m not sure how it happened, but the next thing I knew, I could hear the cracking of the tree limb I was kneeling on. I’m sure under different circumstances, I would have reacted faster, but when the limb gave way beneath me, I didn’t even try to scramble to freedom. I heard Sharona call out as I plunged to the ground, and into the steam of melting snow water.

I was already pulling myself out of the frigid water, when she was back on the ground. “Are you all right?” she asked, trying to help me along.

I pointedly jerked my arm away from her. “Oh I’m wonderful,” I sneered sarcastically. Tremors were already wracking my body. “Thanks to you.”

. .

Xena's Scroll (Conclusion)
Gabrielle's Scroll
The Xena and Gabrielle XXX Scrolls Page 2