Ephiny and the New Princess – Part 4

Ephiny and the New Princess

by AJ Marks

Part 4

“Gabrielle stop!”

They all turned to see who had spoken.  They noticed a beautiful blonde standing not far away wearing a see-through dress.  “You are always welcome in my temples.”

“Aphrodite,” Eph said quietly, there was no one else who she could be.

“In the flesh babe,” the goddess replied back to her before making her way over to where Gabrielle stood.  Eph spared a glance to the priest who now seemed shocked now that the goddess herself had appeared personally telling Gabrielle to stop.  “We finally meet after all this time my Chosen.”

At this the priest finally sputtered back to life.  “My goddess, you must be joking.  I have to protest, she is but a slave!”

“Silence,” Aphrodite said, her words cutting across his protest.  Eph had never seen a god, or goddess angry and never knew the goddess of love could get angry but she was.  “I’ve been watching you, and I’m not pleased at all.”

“My goddess, I’ve only tried to serve your best interests,” the man said falling to his knees.

“No, you’ve only served yourself,” Aphrodite said turning towards him.  “You are relieved of your position in this temple.”

They watched the priest look between them all before scampering away from the room.

“You didn’t have to do that Aphrodite,” Gabrielle said, and typical of what the woman would say.

“He’s been double-crossing me for a while now, saying I want higher tribute which he keeps instead of helping the temple of others and he knows it,” Aphrodite said.  “He’s a pompous man who is self-centered, not what I want in my priests or priestesses, I just haven’t been here to do anything about it.”

“Um, I don’t mean to sound rude or anything, but am I your Chosen?” Gabrielle asked, her voice child-like.

“But of course, who else would I choose?  You and the Empress give a whole new meaning to the word love,” Aphrodite said with a small wiggle of delight.

Eph watched as Gabrielle blushed slightly at the statement.

“You must know by now Bri that you’ve been touched by many gods and goddesses,” Aphrodite stated to her.  “Artemis wanted you as Queen of your Amazons, but other factors interfered with that.”

The statement startled Eph as she looked over at Eponin and Airlea who both shared the same shocked expression.  Such news would come to a shock for everyone back in the Nation.

“For that path you would have been saved by the Amazons when you were taken as a slave, but the price, it would have meant an older age,” Aphrodite said.

Eph looked over at Gabrielle who now had a very strange, unpleasant look on her face, almost as if that would have been a worse fate and knew there was a story there she had not heard yet.

“So, what factors interfered with that?” Gabrielle asked.

“For one, Xena, even you must know now that you two are soul-mates, even Ares understood that one early on,” Aphrodite replied back to her.

“Ares.  Is that why I can fight so well?” Gabrielle asked.

“Um, you were touched by Athena, that’s where you get that skill, and your wisdom, she even thought about making you her Chosen as well,” Aphrodite stated startling Ephiny.

“And if Ares had touched you, I’d have known it,” another voice said causing them all to look over to see the Conqueror who walked over to Gabrielle and placed her arm around her waist.

“Now that’s love, it’s beautiful,” Aphrodite said with a slight sigh and smile.  Even Eph admitted the way the two acted towards each other made people jealous.

“Wait, what do you mean you’d have known about it?” Gabrielle asked looking up at the Conqueror.

“I can sense Ares, or things he has touched, part of the fact that I’m his daughter,” the Conqueror said.  “If I sensed you were from him I might have killed you before knowing who you were.”

Eph looked on seeing an insight into their relationship she had not seen before, jumping slightly at the flash as another god appeared.  Strangely the Conqueror never jumped.

“Hello Ares,” the Conqueror said to the new arrival.

“Xena, my favorite human, and Gabrielle,” Ares said walking over and Eph could now see the similarities between the two, tall, dark-haired, and the same imposing stare.  The two looked at each other before Ares looked down at Gabrielle.  “I had Aphrodite search for you.”

“You?” Eph squeaked out before she could stop herself earning a nudge from Eponin.

“Yes, me,” Ares said looking over at Eph, who felt uncomfortable with the stare.  “I may be the God of War, but I do care for my daughter, even if we don’t see eye-to-eye very often.  I only intended to watch over her, but others had plans for her.”

“What others?” the Conqueror asked, narrowing her eyes at Ares and Eph knew few people could ever get away with that.

“We know of Aphrodite, Artemis and Athena, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear Apollo’s name as well,” Gabrielle stated.

“Yes, even Hera and Zeus were interested in your path,” Aphrodite said.  “Few mortals are so blessed.”

“Hardly,” the Conqueror said.

“Why so many? Gabrielle asked, ignoring the statement by the Conqueror despite the other two looking at her.  It took a few seconds before Aphrodite finally answered.

“Sometimes a rare mortal comes along, once in a thousand lifetimes and they deserved to be blessed,” Aphrodite stated, and Eph thought the answer was a bit vague.  “If you ever need me, call my name and I’ll be there.”

Before anyone else could say anything she disappeared followed quickly by Ares leaving them to ponder what they had been told.  Eph looked over at the others and noticed Gabrielle appeared deep in thought.

“I think they do that on purpose,” she finally said pushing a lock of blonde hair behind her ear.

“Of course,” the Conqueror said.  “Now, if there are no more major epiphanies, let’s get back to the one we can solve.”

“You have something?” Ephiny asked, looking at the Conqueror and hoping she did.

“Yes, though I think we should talk about this back at the palace,” the Conqueror stated.

Eph nodded as the group left the temple.  It was a public place and they had no way to know who else might be listening in, or who even heard everything that went on.  She hoped that het Conqueror really did have something on who killed Terries and that things were not about to get complicated.


Eph watched the way the Conqueror walked with Gabrielle after everything that happened in the past few minutes.  The Conqueror wrapped an arm around Gabrielle’s waist, but said nothing.  Three was a silent communication going on between the two of them which seemed very sweet and unexpected by the Conqueror.

“So, you think she’s actually got something?” Eponin asked whispering to Eph.

“I, well, I don’t know,” Eph replied giving it some thought.  “I hope the Centaurs didn’t do it.”  She looked over at Eponin who had a strange look on her face, but Eph thought everything seemed too convenient.  Sure there was bad blood, but to do this, it wasn’t how Centaurs operated.

“Who else would do it?” Eponin asked.  “They don’t’ like us, never have, no one else has a reason.”

“I know, but doesn’t it seem a little too convenient and easy.  If the Centaurs had done it they would have been a bit better at hiding their tracks,” Eph replied back to her.

“I guess, but I wouldn’t put it past the Centaurs to have done it,” Eponin stated back.

Eph couldn’t blame Eponin for her thoughts.  Her first thoughts had been blind rage against the Centaurs as well upon seeing the arrow.  Now, after all that happened, it all seemed too easy for her, like the people behind it knew the Amazons would easily go to war against the Centaurs with a slight push.  Why assassinate the princess unless you were ready for war?  She went over the last reports from the meeting with the Queen about the Centaurs.  There were reports they were under pressure from Rome, with that thought her mind froze.  Could Rome be behind it all, and if so, what was the goal?  War?

“You all right?” Eponin asked giving Eph a nudge.

“Yeah, just thinking,” Eph replied back to her.

They continued on into the palace and into an interior room where she noticed Autolycus standing nearby.  She hoped he found something in the time they had been one from the palace.  She realized they still had to completely inform those back at the camp of what happened, if they already didn’t know something.

“All right, we’re all here,” the Conqueror said turning to Autolycus.

“There were signs of Centaur prints, we’ve discovered it’s highly unlikely that it came from the Centaur camp, no Centaur has left the camp since this morning,” Autolycus stated.

“The prints, are they Centaur or re they not?” Eponin asked.

“I thought they were at first, a rouge Centaur hoping to stir up trouble between the two camps, but the prints didn’t look right to me,” Autolycus stated.  “So I had the Empress take a closer look at them.”

“I looked at the prints myself, and as Autolycus stated, there was something wrong about them, so we followed them,” the Conqueror said to them.  “The tracks led to the Centaur camp, placing more suspicion on them, but short of the camp the track stopped and the prints changed into regular horse prints which leads to suspicion of the Centaurs doing it and someone setting them up.”

“Horse prints?” Ephiny asked, slightly disappointed that the Centaurs didn’t do it and the mystery would remain.  Terreis deserved to have justice for her death.

“I had Autolycus follow the tracks, and I think you’ll be surprised where they led,” the Conqueror stated.

“Romans,” Ephiny said before anyone else could say anything.

“Right on,” Autolycus said.

“Romans, who would they be behind this?” Eponin asked, confused.

“Our treaty with Greece, even the Centaurs have been having trouble with the Romans, and remember the merchant who seemed surprised the news,” Eph answered.

“He did seem a bit upset,” Eponin stated and by her face Eph knew her lover was thinking about something else.  “How well do you know Kori?”

The question took Eph by surprise so she had to think about it for a few seconds after picturing the dark-haired Amazon.  True, she didn’t know much as the Amazon usually associated with other people but had never caused any trouble.

“Not that well, why?” Eph asked.

“Before the meeting with the Conqueror in the winter, I overheard her and someone else talking, I don’t think they expected anyone to be listening, and I didn’t think anything of it, but Rome and the romans were mentioned several times.  I’ve got a bad feeling about all of this,” Eponin finally said.

“An invasion?” Eph asked, the possibilities of such an attack occurring were slim but would devastate the Nation.

“Rome is foolish, but usually not this stupid,” the Conqueror said pausing to think about this situation.  “Perhaps we can use this to our advantage.”

“Advantage?  You want to turn this to an advantage?” Eponin said outraged by it all and Eph could not blame her one bit by sounding shocked.

“Actually, yes, it’s the perfect time for this,” the Conqueror said.  “Caesar thinks he knows everyone, perhaps its time to show him that he doesn’t know the Amazons like he thinks he does.”

“What do you mean?” Eph asked, and Eph remained quiet listening to what the Conqueror was thinking, hoping she knew what she was doing.

“Well, the Romans believe they have an advantage, and they are also extremely egotistical when they think this way, with a proper plan we can keep them at bay for a long time,” the Conqueror said.

“That may be, but we still have to inform the Nation of Terreis’ death and that Gabrielle received the Right-of-Caste,” Eph replied not looking forward to explaining all of this and hoped some might have patience.

“Yeah, that’s not going to go over well,” Eponin stated.

“Add in the fact that Gabrielle’s technically a slave and things could get very messy,” Eph said.

“Am I the Queen?” Gabrielle suddenly asked surprising Ephiny with the question, something she had not expected.

“Um, well, no,” Eph finally replied.

“And who is the next in line?” Gabrielle asked.

“That would be Valaska, so you’re third in line,” Eph replied.

“Even with Artemis’ blessing this will take a small miracle,” Eponin stated.

“We should be about to use that to our advantage, at least a bit,” Gabrielle said.

Eph suddenly didn’t feel like thinking about the Amazons right now, Terreis’ death, Gabrielle as an Amazon and everything else including the Centaurs and Romans involved was giving her a headache.

“Regardless, we need to get back and tell the others at eth camp what happened, not all of it, but the basics,’ Eph finally said not liking that task.

Eph looked over at the others, the Conqueror was talking with the guards and Gabrielle was now talking with Airlea waiting to see what would happen next.

“You realize someone is going to have to stay with her to guard her, right?” Eponin said breaking Eph’s thoughts.

“I’ll stay,” Airlea said, speaking up.

Eph looked over at Eponin, who merely shrugged her shoulders and they both realized that Gabrielle had more guards than most Amazon royalty.

“I’d suggest keeping who gained the Right-of-Caste a secret for now, if some Amazons are part of this they might try again,” the Conqueror stated.

Eph groaned to herself but knew the Conqueror was right this time.  She found it hard to believe that another Amazon might be part of this, but with everything else going on she could not easily dismiss the thought.  Her first job was to defend the princess, regardless of who that was, and if Rome was involved in this things would have become much more dangerous.

“I don’t’ like it, but I agree,” Eponin finally said.

With that Eph and Eponin bid Airlea good-by and made their way back to the camp ground.

End part 4

Continued in part 5

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