Ephiny and the Battle for the Amazons – Part 3

Ephiny and the Battle for the Amazons

by AJ Marks

Part 3

Eph heard the comment by Gabrielle and almost couldn’t believe how calm she sounded facing off against Tanis even as Riga stepped forward with an attack. Eph blocked the attack while backing up a bit and managed to see around her.  The elders appeared to be holding their own at the moment.

“You realize if you kill the princess Rome won’t be able to save you. You will have destroyed the nation and anyone helping will also be destroyed,” Eph said hoping to put some doubt in the minds of her attackers.

“I doubt that, Tanis has this all figured out already,” Koni said back to her. “So far everything is going as planned, right down to making that Roman a hero in the Nation for killing Tarreis.”

“A hero?” Eph said sputtering at the boldness of the statement. “Did Tanis tell you that?  You realize that under Roman rule the Nation will cease to exist, come on Koni, look at reality.”

“Like I said, Tanis has all of that figured out. No more running like we’ve done under Melosa,” Koni said laughing at Eph.  “Anyways, you’re running out of allies, poor Cera.”

Eph looked around and noticed that one of the elders had fallen leaving Erika to fight two warriors. She knew she had to get Gabrielle out of there somehow but she could not think of a way to do so.  Time wasn’t on her side, nor were numbers yet she had to find a way to carry out her duty.  Even as she struggled for some plan Gabrielle’s voice floated over to her with a calmness she was surprised about.

“You do realize Caesar wont’ allow you to live. The Roman general probably already has orders to take all survivors and return home with them as slaves,” Gabrielle said.

“Then you’re the delusional one,” Tanis replied back. “That’s all you are, a stupid slave, a pleasure slave, making your living on your back.”

Eph didn’t wait to attack, this time managing to get past Riga’s defenses and striking her arm. Riga dropped her sword but Eph forgot to keep an eye on Koni and watched as the other Amazon’s sword sped towards her.  Eph managed to turn enough to avoid a death blow but the sword still pierced her shoulder, white hot pain pierce her senses causing her to drop clutching her shoulder.

“Well, well, the exact position I wanted to see you in, on your knees,” Koni said stepping back and lazily twirling her sword as she now circled her prey.

“Hurry up and kill her,” Riga said, standing up and shaking her wounded arm a few times.

“In good time Riga,” Koni replied. “I think it would be better for her to watch her precious princess slave die, and the Right-of-Caste transferred to a real Amazon.”

Eph turned slightly to see Gabrielle holding her own against Tanis at the moment, and by the Amazon’s face she appeared frustrated by the battle. Tanis’ sword against Gabrielle’s staff and Eph noticed the precision used by Gabrielle, something she had not expected to see.  Eph wondered if Tanis even noticed how Gabrielle was defending against her, and even this far away someone could tell she was used to fighting someone stronger.

Not far away Erika was in combat with one Amazon, the other lying on the ground next to the other elder and Eph knew she not expect help from her at the moment. Even as she looked on she watched Gabrielle trip over an uneven bit of ground, her staff falling from her hands leaving her unarmed.

“Well, surprisingly tough for a slave, but as always I will win,” Tanis said with a grin. “Now, for your Right-of-Caste and I’ll be the queen then everything will finally be all right with the Nation.”

Eph watched as Tanis prepared for the final blow and had no way to stop it. She had failed in her mission to protect her princess, and with her injured arm she was in no condition to even fight.  Time slowed as Tanis’ sword began the downward strike even as a high-pitched buzzing sound came to her ears and she thought she noticed a slight smile come to Gabrielle’s lips.

As the sword descended a faster moving object collided with it causing Tanis to miss, her sword impacting in the dirt as time resumed. Tanis looking around for what might have stopped her, her face contorted in rage as she looked at Eph.

“Who dares to interrupt me, the future queen of the Amazons!” Tanis yelled, her anger apparent in her voice.

Eph turned to see where the object which stopped Tanis’ strike return to its master. Walking towards them Eph saw a true hunter, pure power radiated out from her posture as the Conqueror strode into the area unafraid of anyone there.  Eph realized this was the Conqueror of legend, the one who was the daughter of Ares standing before them and looking voer at Tanis the other Amazon was either too stupid to believe what was in front of her or she refused to accept it.

“So, the mighty Conqueror graces us with her presence,” Tanis said. “Turning traitor like you always do and leaving the Amazons to be slaughtered by the Roman army.  You know, Caesar predicted you’d do this of course.”

Eph remained silent watching as the war of words continued, the Conqueror had yet to say anything but a glance over at Gabrielle indicated a silent conversation. Something Eph was able to recognize only because she had seen it before.

“You know, Caesar knows you better than anyone else alive, did you mention that to your slut slave here?” Tanis asked, trying to taunt the Conqueror. Eph wondered if Tanis had been blessed with stupidity or if it came naturally when facing an enemy like the conqueror as she continued on.  “Oh, he knows she means something to you, and you know Caesar put a price on her pretty head.  Taking her out will earn me a double reward and either way I will rule the Amazons.”

“Then you’re a fool,” a voice said, but it came from Gabrielle not the Conqueror who continued to slowly advance. “Caesar never knew, or understood Xena.”

“It matters no, I will not be denied. Koni, Legia, take care of the Conqueror while I kill the princess,” Tanis said.

Eph moved back a bit as Koni shifted her attention to the Conqueror and she understood nothing she said now would save either of them from the Conqueror. The fight was as unequal as Eponin fighting a newly trained recruit as the Conqueror powered past the defenses of both Amazons with precision and skill in her attack.

What made Eph shiver was the look the Conqueror gave them. Death was visiting the Amazon nation in a way it never had making Eph glad she was on Gabrielle’s side.

“I suggest you run, now,” Gabrielle’s calm voice said sounding strange in the circumstances.

“Run, in my moment of glory! I won’t allow some two-bit Amazon to spoil my return to power,” Tanis replied back.  “I’ll enjoy killing your master then I’ll own you.  Of course, it’s so simple, I never had to kill you, only your master and then I will own you.”

Eph watched as Tanis engaged the Conqueror. It took only a second to noticed the superior skill the Conqueror possessed.  Tanis managed a few offensive attacks but anyone could tell who was on the defensive position the Conqueror kept her in.

“You made two mistakes,” the Conqueror growled. “The first, believing Caesar.”

“And the second,” Tanis said with a sneer.

“That you were a match for me,” the Conqueror stated, attacking again, her sword a blur as she powered though Tanis’ defenses, dealing a killing blow. Tanis slumped forward falling down and remained still.

Eph looked over at Riga, the lone survivor of the group who had been fighting Erika.

“I suggest you surrender to Amazon law Riga, unless you also wish to fall to the Conqueror’s wrath,” Erika said.

Riga looked around and dropped her sword allowing Erika to take over as Eph needed medical help. As the fighting ended the healers came forward looking over at everyone.  More footsteps and she noticed that Eponin was now standing in front of her looking very concerned.

“Um, why are you here?” Eph asked as a thousand questions came her concerning the battle. “Where’s the Queen?” she asked not seeing either Melosa or Valaska.

“One question at a time,” Eponin said. “Last I saw they were all right, but what happened here?”

“We had some excitement,” Eph replied as Eponin looked around at the bodies of Koni, Ligeia and Tanis before looking over at where the Conqueror and Gabrielle stood. From her position Eph noticed that the Conqueror appeared to be checking Gabrielle over in detail despite the protests from the younger woman.

“I’m fine, really Xena,” Gabrielle said grabbing the Conqueror’s hands as they checked for any injuries.

“She might be fine, but you’re not,” Eponin stated looking at Eph, something she knew already from the pain in her shoulder and didn’t argue.

“All right,” Eph said forestalling any further fussing from Eponin and allowed herself to be led away to the healer’s hut.

The healers quickly assessed the situation telling Eph to lie down. She focused on her lover’s face to avoid watching the healers work.

“The cut is clean, but its also deep,” the healer said. “We don’t’ know how much damage there is to the muscle yet.  In the meantime rest and don’t move your shoulder too much, you’ll live.”

Eph nodded noticing more injured being brought into the room from the battle-field. The healer rushed over to help and see what she could do.  She noticed the look in their eyes and noticed, aside from worry for the others, there was no look of urgency about the battle.

“So, what did happen,” Eponini asked.

Eph gave Eponin a brief rundown of what happened, the arrival of Tanis and then the elders and how Tanis bragged about her plan to take over the Amazons with Caesar’s help and how she knew more about him than anyone else. She even had plans for later on after she had taken over.

“She was a bigger fool than I thought,” a voice said behind Eponin causing them to look towards the door, seeing Gabrielle, the Conqueror and Melosa as the Conqueror continued. “Caesar may be many things, but he doesn’t share power, ever.”

Ephiny realized Gabrielle had said the same thing earlier in the fight. What she knew of Tome, It operated under a triumvirate of Brutus, Anthony and Caesar making her wonder if the others knew that about the man.

“It appears Ligeia and Koni killed our Roman prisoner,” Melosa said, they all understood what it meant and ended an odd argument involving Gabrielle and the punishment for the prisoner. In a way they had actually done them a service in their twisted path.

“So, now what?” Eph asked.

“We have Roman prisoners, which the Conqueror will be handling for us,” Melosa said, motioning towards the Conqueror. “The Nation cannot handle so many prisoners at one time.”

Ephiny wasn’t sure if she felt relieved at what happened or not but looked over at Gabrielle. “I’m glad I’d seen you fight already princess, though it appears Ligeia failed to mention that to Tanis.”

“Maybe she did and Tanis failed, like always, to think it was even important,” Eponin said. “It wouldn’t surprise me.”

“Well, I do have one awesome sparring partner,” Gabrielle grinned giving the Conqueror a bump on the hip.

Ephiny noticed that the Conqueror had yet to release Gabrielle, and the physical attraction between the two seemed even stronger than ever.

“Well, we should let you get some rest,’ Melosa said, turning to visit the other injured warriors.

“So, what happened out there?” Eph asked not having gotten that bit of information.

She watched as Eponin looked over at Gabrielle nad the Conqueror before starting her tale.

End part 3

Continued in part 4

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