Ephiny and the Roman Army – Part 5

Ephiny and the Roman Army

by AJ Marks

Part 5

“Um, I guess I should learn what I’m going to do tonight,” Gabrielle finally said breaking the silence which had prevailed since Valaska and Eponin left the hut. “I don’t have to kill anyone, do I?”

Eph looked over at Gabrielle at the tone the younger woman had used. She had a slight look of terror at the thought of doing something like that, which was confusing considering the person she had as a lover.

“Um, no, the prisoner still has to undergo the trial, but the order will probably be death,” Melosa replied. “At that time it will fall upon you to carry out.”

Eph watched as Gabrielle’s face went pale at the thought but it was the Conqueror who spoke up first.

“She won’t do it,” the Conqueror said, her voice holding a note of finality to it.

“It’s an Amazon matter,” Melosa said looking up at the two.

“And I saw she won’t do it,” the Conqueror growled, and for the first time Eph saw the person she expected to see, a cool warrior ready to attack.

“Its tradition in such situations, the survivor executes the order,” Melosa said.

The verbal duel seemed to only increase the tension in the room which had Ephiny feeling slightly concerned with everyone’s health suddenly. It was Gabrielle who brought things back down.

“Let’s talk about this at a later time, there are more important things going on,” Gabrielle said.

Ephiny had no trouble imagining her own sword running though the Roman who was responsible for Terreis’ death to the point she even felt guilty for the image it involved. She realized she had been silent for too long and knew Gabrielle needed to know what she had to do.

“I guess we should head over to the temple,” Eph finally said looking over at Gabrielle.

“There’s nothing dangerous is there?” the Conqueror said speaking up and everyone heard the protective tone in her voice.

“Ah, no, the princess lights the funeral fire, but there are rituals to follow, a procession to and from the temple,” Melosa said speaking up.

“Oh, so I’m carrying a torch then?” Gabrielle asked.

“Something like that,” Eph said scratching her nose. “And, well, you’ll have to dress as our princess.”

Eph thought she saw a smirk on the Conqueror’s face which disappeared when Gabrielle glanced over at her.

“I thought I only had to wear that during the celebration part,” she said pouting a bit.

“You’re the princess here,” the Conqueror said to her.

“I think I prefer being a pleasure slave,” Gabrielle said walking over to where the Conqueror still sat. “At least, your pleasure slave.”

“Nah, you’ll do just fine, and it’s only for a small time, you’ll survive,” the Conqueror replied back to her pulling her into a hug.

Eph had a feeling she was witnessing another side of this complex relationship, one which the more she learned the stranger it got. At times it felt like Gabrielle was the strong one emotionally, then she goes and shows a side of indecision and stubbornness which the Conqueror has yet to show.

“Perhaps you’ll feel better after talking with the priestess at the temple,” Eph suggested. “Then we can go by Zona’s and see if she’s finished.

“Its torture,” Gabrielle said at the last part looking back at the Conqueror despite heading out with Eph.

“You really don’t like to wear clothing,” Eph said making a general statement.

“I guess not, after so many seasons I got used to it,” Gabrielle said. “I guess it’s a bit like a powerful drug, an addiction.”

“I guess it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact you enjoy it as well,” Eph asked, recalling something the Conqueror said to her about it, the fact the younger woman enjoyed showing off.

“Um, well, yeah, I guess I do enjoy that part, especially when talking with the nobles of the court, they have a hard time staying on subject when I’m there,” Gabrielle said with a small laugh. “They even tried to banish me from attending.”

Eph’s imagination went into overdrive with images of Gabrielle sitting on the Conqueror’s lap and doing things which would make anyone have a hard time concentrating.

“Hey, Ephiny,” Gabrielle’s voice said breaking the image she had set up.

“Yeah,” Eph asked, hoping by some small miracle she wasn’t blushing.

“Nice shade of color, haven’t seen that one in a while,” Gabrielle said, laughing as Eph felt her cheek heat up as Gabrielle continued. “Well, there was that one noble, I think he even stopped breathing for a moment.  He couldn’t take his eyes off what we were doing, then of course he missed his chair while sitting down.  Everyone looked at him and I think he blushed as red as the robe he wore.”

“Ah, here we are,” Eph said noticing the temple was in front of them and welcomed a change in subject. She didn’t need Gabrielle to start giving graphic details on what they were doing, her own mind was doing more than enough and she wanted to be able to walk without falling down.  She still couldn’t look at Gabrielle, ad doubted she would be able to look at her face for long before lingering down to the rest of the body.

Forcing the thoughts from her mind she noticed Airlea standing nearby tending to the interior of the temple. She made her way over the moment she spotted them.

“Ah, princess, I was wondering when you’d show up here,” Airlea said approaching them.

“Yes, it appears that I’m somehow involved in all of this,” Gabrielle stated, sounding much more like the woman Eph had gotten used to than the one in the queen’s hut.

“Only one of the more important parts,” Airlea replied. “The lighting of the funeral pyre is a great honor in an Amazon funeral.”

Eph barely listened while Airlea told Gabrielle what her part in the funeral would be. She noticed a slight look of determination in Gabrielle’s face as she listened to what all she would do and had no doubt about the new princess’ ability to carry out the duty tonight.

She lost track of time as Airlea taught Gabrielle what to do, when and how. She looked around at the others who also appeared interested in what was going on as word had slowly gotten out about who the princess was.  People stopped to get a peak at the princess and it caused Eph to wonder how many were lusting over her.  The fact she was nude probably only fueled that fact, the other was tempered by the knowledge she was the slave to the Conqueror.

“Ready?” Gabrielle asked approaching Ephiny as Airlea made her way towards another part of the temple.

“Yeah,” Eph replied.

“So, what about the ceremony for, well, me” Gabrielle asked as they started back to the huts.

“Ah, its nothing too much, more of an excuse to party and have fun. The Queen announces you as the new princess,” here Eph stopped as she realized something.  “You do have to be brought into the tribe first.”

“Does Xena know about this?” Gabrielle asked.

“I would think the Queen would have told her about it, and because you’re an outsider you will need to be adopted into the Nation,” Eph said having forgotten all about that part. She had a feeling many would be willing to adopt Gabrielle if they could get past one sticking part.

“Sounds interesting, know anyone willing to adopt Xena? We come as a pair,” Gabrielle replied honestly.

“And that’s the sticking point,” Eph replied wondering about how many would want such a person in your family. It meant a powerful sister-in-law which might be fun, but it also meant that person was the Conqueror, a person they all thought was an eternal enemy of the Nation.

“She’s not that bad, people only know her by her reputation,” Gabrielle stated as if that explained everything.

Eph started to reply when a slight gurgle came from Gabrielle. Looking over she noticed her princess blushing slightly, something she had yet to see followed by another gurgle from her stomach.

“Um, hungry?” Eph asked.

“Yeah, we never got lunch,” Gabrielle stated.

“My fault for heading off to the temple in a rush,” Eph said, knowing she also felt a bit hungry as well and turned towards the dining hall. “After lunch we can drop in on zona to see how things are going.”

“As long as it after food,” Gabrielle replied, not the response Eph expected to hear.

Ephiny walked into the dining hut smelling the food even before the door opened. Inside she noticed there were still quite a few people inside much to her dismay.  Heading over to grab something to eat she barely sat down before hearing a familiar voice behind her.

“Well fine, ignore me, after all you have an important guest with you, far too important to stop and say hi and introduce me.”

Ephiny inwardly groaned knowing she would have to face her mother. She thought she saw a smirk on Gabrielle’s face before turning to face her mother.

“Mom, care to sit down,” Eph said making sure she was smiling.

“Thought you’d never ask dear,” the older woman said. In reality Eph knew she didn’t have much to complain about with her mother, only that she would think a bit more before speaking.  That and they didn’t always see things the same way.

“Mom, this is Princess Gabrielle, princess, this is my mother,” Eph said introducing the two of them, before noticing that Gabrielle was looking back and forth between the two of them making her shift uncomfortably.

“You have your mom’s eyes, and hair,” Gabrielle finally said.

“See, I’ve been telling you that for ages, maybe finally you listen. But no, you have to inherit your fathers stubborn attitude,” she said before turning to Gabrielle.  “What about you dear, you still talk with your parents?”

“No,” Gabrielle answered far too quickly and Eph had a feeling there was something else going on there but said nothing. Her mother either failed to notice or chose not to and continued on.

“That’s too bad dear, what about the Conqueror?”

“Oh, Cyrene, she’s an innkeeper in Amphipolis,” Gabrielle answered. “Took her a while to get over who her daughter had become, but things worked out.  She also took me in as a daughter as well.”

“So, are the rumors true, you’re the Conqueror’s pleasure slave?” Eph’s mother asked leaving Eph mortified at the question and her mother’s usual lack of tact. She frantically thought of a way to apologize to Gabrielle when the blonde answered.

“Officially speaking, yes, but as you probably know life is so rarely simple. We’re very much a team and I will admit, my position allows me to study and listen better than anyone else.  They either ignore me due to my position or are more interested in my assets,” Gabrielle said, cupping her breasts in emphasis of her point.

Eph started coughing as the food she swallowed at that moment went down wrong causing her mother to pat her back.

“Are you all right dear?” her mother asked. “I haven’t seen that shade since I caught you and Eponin in the back spring last year.”

“Gee, thanks mom,” Eph growled glancing at her mother.

“So, what do you do?” Gabrielle asked thankfully changing the conversation for her.

“Me? Oh, I take care of the library, something I know my daughter won’t follow me in,” her mother said as Eph looked over to see Gabrielle’s eyes light up.

“A library?” she squealed, causing people at other tables to look over.

“You read?” her mother said sounding shocked.

“Love to read, and well, sometimes I write stories,” Gabrielle said. “I’m not that good, but I enjoy it, and Xena humors me in that way.”

Eph tuned out the conversation at that point knowing that her mother could talk all day long about story-telling and scrolls, bards and writing. Now it appeared she had someone to talk to about that passion.  She ate in silence and missed Gabrielle’s question and had to ask her to repeat it.

“You have training fields?”

The question caught Eph off guard as she had not been expecting it. She chided herself for not keeping up with the conversation but quickly recovered to answer.  “Yeah, generally Eponin is there along with Valaska.  They like to help train the new warriors and scouts.”

“I think I’d like to see it as well,” Gabrielle stated.

“Um, no problem,” Eph replied. “I can show you when we’re done, after that over to Zona’s to check on the work.”

“And then the library,” Gabrielle said her eyes lighting up.

“Right,” Eph said, inwardly groaning.

“I’ll finally see my daughter in the library, it’s a miracle,” her mother said standing up. “I shall see you later then.”

Eph watched her mother leave before turning back to Gabrielle, noticing she had finished her meal.

“Shall we?” Eph asked.

“Lead on.”

Eph left the dining hall headed towards the training fields.

End part 5

Continued in part 6

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