Usual disclaimers apply.

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Chapter 58

"At Amphipolis in this fateful hour,

"I place all Heaven with its power,
"And the sun with its brightness,
"And the snow with its whiteness,
"And the fire with all the strength it hath,
"And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
"And the wind with its swiftness along its path,
"And the sea with its deepness,
"And the rocks with their steepness,
"And the Earth with its starkness
"All these I place
"By God's almighty help and grace

"Between myself and the powers of darkness".

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"Damn it, Daphne!" Turning with my sword I stopped short of slicing her arm with it. "You know better than to do that when I'm drilling."

"What? No, hi, how are you?" She asked.

Taking a deep breath, I put my sword in it's sheath and looked down at her. "I was drilling and you know better than to get that close when someone is drilling. You may not have been born an Amazon, but you do a fair representation of one when you aren't being an ass."

"I am so glad I volunteered to come and find you," Daphne said as she glared at me. "Thought maybe I'd give you a few more moments before you have to face the family about what happened here. Nobody is saying anything without you."

"Damn," I muttered. "I figured the moms were on their way, but I didn't expect you to join them." I admitted.

"Are you kidding?" Daphne sat on a large rock and waited until I sat down next to her. "You should have heard Mom muttering about you and how she knew better than to encourage you to come alone because you were too much like your mothers. Then she told Xena and Gabrielle that we were coming along to make sure that you were okay and that Toris wasn't running the inn into the ground."

Chuckling at that statement I shook my head and shoved against Daphne. "Toris is actually pretty adept at running the inn, as long as Tabitha is in the kitchen giving the orders."

"Yeah," Daphne agreed. "We had some of her soup when we got here. It was great. Not as good as Mom's but good non-the-less."

"When did you get in?"

"About two candle marks ago. Long enough to get something to eat, settle in and convince everyone that I could be the one to come and find you."

"I'm surprised." I admitted. "I thought for sure that it would be Rory who they'd send after me."

"Rory hasn't been let out of Xena and Gabrielle's sight since we arrived. The twins haven't left her side and have barely spoken since we've arrived and Toris is trying to make light of the whole Roman general being here for as long as he was without trying to send for help."

"I guess it's time to head back." Standing I helped pull Daphne to her feet and we began to walk towards the clearing where I had let Jedi graze. Pulling myself onto his back I offered Daphne a hand and she settled in behind me with no problem.

"Why didn't you ride out here to find me?" I asked. "Usually you're always trying to figure out a way to go riding on your own."

"I knew better than to ask after Mom cuffed Toris across the back the head for giving her a sarcastic remark about something."

Laughing I moved Jedi into a steady run towards the inn, "Hold on, Daphne."

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I took my time stabling Jedi and finally moved into the inn. I wasn't surprised to find Jason and Tabitha alone in the kitchen getting things ready for the evening meal. "Here," Tabitha handed me a stuffed pastry. "You might need a snack before facing the tribunal waiting for you at the family table in the dining room."

"Thanks," I began to eat the small pie and then grabbed the glass of cider offered me. Taking a sip, I carried the glass with me into the dining room.

I had barely made it into the dining room before my moms had moved towards me and pulled me into a hug. "We are so happy to see you," Mom began.

"But you have a lot of explaining to do, Samina." Mama added.

"Yeah, I figured." I grinned sheepishly at them and let myself be sat between them at the large round table.

"You," Yaya got out of her seat and moved towards me. Kissing the top of my head she then looked at me intently. "It's time for us to know what happened here, Sam."

Waiting until Yaya had sat down again I looked around the table. The twins were sitting in-between Rory and Toris and looked rather nervous. Daphne was way too relaxed as she sat next to Yaya and Toris. "First, let me say that everything turned out alright. Rory and I were able to take care of things without fighting."

"We talked our way out of it," Rory quipped.

Mama looked at Rory with narrowed eyes and Rory looked at her hands in her lap for a moment. "Well, we at least listened to the rules and used them." Rory tried again.

"You're not helping," I added gulping when Mom's green eyes met mine.

"Tell us what happened, Samina." Mom directed.

Sitting back in my chair I decided to get comfortable before starting the story, "Well, it all began when Rory and I stopped for a break and found the twins….so you see, we used the Rune and were able to call on our gods for help and get rid of Indar. I mean, he's been the one all these years trying to get to me. I'm still confused about that," I admitted. "Why all the tricks?"

"Good question," Mom agreed. "Xena?"

"I have an idea, but I'm not certain. Let me check into a few things and then I'll let you know what I'm thinking." Mama's voice left no room for argument and I wondered what would come next.

Feeling Mama's arms around me and a kiss to the top of my head, I looked into eyes so similar to my own when she pushed me back, "Your mom and I are so proud of you and Rory, Sam." Her crooked grin at my surprised expression made Mom chuckle.

"Mom?" Looking to an equally confused Rory before being caught by Mom's green eyes, I waited for an explanation. "I thought for sure we'd be dead."

"Oh, my Sammy." Mom hugged me then and pushed me back the way Mama had. "You are sixteen now and handled this situation better than a lot of full warriors could have handled it. You and Rory not only got Arion and Melodia to safety, but you got rid of the Romans, and Indar without any bloodshed or harm to the village."

"But I didn't contact you either. I didn't let you know what was going on here."

"You told Artemis," Mama interjected, and she let us know. "You talked to someone you trusted." Mama held up her hand at my arched eyebrow. "Yes, I know, she's a god, but she's never done anything to cause me to doubt her, Sam. You know this and you acted on it. Face it, little one, you and Rory did good."

"Yeah, Sam." Rory got out of her chair and started the Peanuts* happy dance. "We did good."

Laughing at her, I shook my head. "So, what does this mean?"

"It means when we get back home that you and Rory will have earned your first feather." Mom's announcement caused Rory to stop dancing and me to look around the table while taking in the news.

"Our first feather?"

"Yep," Mama reached up and gave me a nougie. "But don't think you'll ever be too big for your moms to give you hell when needed. Both of you." She added pointing at Rory.

"We'd never dream of thinking that, Aunt Xena." Rory replied starting her dance again, this time pulling the twins up with her.

Four days had passed since my family had joined us in Amphipolis and it was nice to watch how things began to return to normal. Arion and Melodia had begun to integrate themselves into the inn family Toris had created. It was nice to see them without worry, and save for the nightmares that seemed to plague them both, they appeared to be recovering from their ordeal with the Roman soldiers.

I was currently sitting on the front porch swing of the inn watching the comings and goings around me when I felt a familiar tingle. Smiling at the blonde I accepted her hug and allowed myself to be pulled into her side as I continued to watch the people in front of us on the street.

"You did well, my little warrior bard," Aphrodite kissed the top of my head and I leaned my head on her shoulder.

"Thanks," I kept my focus in front of me but turned to look at my goddess mother briefly. "What happened when you left with Indar?"

"We will discuss back at the village," Aphrodite informed me. "Artie and I along with Ares had quite the long talk with Indar and his other god friends. We have some things to tell you, but nothing too bad. I mean, you are the child of the gods, and though you've accomplished much there is more for you to do. Or have you forgotten that you'll be choosing the next Olympian?"

"I haven't forgotten." I sat up and moved to lean on the porch rail facing her. "I think I may have an idea of who it may be, but something strange is happening in regards to choosing. That's not in my imagination is it, Auntie?"

"It's not." Standing, the blonde pulled me into a quick hug and kissed my cheek. "I will be seeing you later, my little warrior bard."

Shaking my head at the butterflies and smell of roses soon dissipated and I found myself jumping over the railing of the porch towards the voices I heard.

"Leave her alone!" Stopping short I slowly walked towards the commotion.

"Care to tell me what's going on here?" I asked.

"They won't leave Melodia alone," Arion faced me as his hand motioned the group of children around us. "We told them that we didn't want to play and that they couldn't see her walking stick."

"Go on," I encouraged.

"And that one," Melodia to a tall girl near her. "Tried to take my walking stick."

"And you?"

"Used one the moves you taught me with the staff to knock her on her butt."

Chuckling I put my arm around Melodia. "Good job," I whispered in her ear. Turning to face the group of children I pulled myself to my full height. "Why are you bothering them?"

"We just want to see the walking stick," the tall girl protested. "We've never seen one like that."

"That's because I made it," I offered. "And it's made to help Melodia keep steady on her feet as well as offer protection when needed. You can't see it when she's using it because she might fall. I know that all of you are old enough to understand that."

"But they won't ever let us see it!" The girl protested.

"Have you ever come over to the inn to see it?" I asked her.

Shaking her head, a shorter boy stepped forward, "We never thought of that." He replied. "Would that be okay, Melodia? Would you show us if we came to the inn and you could sit down while we looked at it? Those carvings look so unusual."

Looking to me, I shrugged. "I don't have a problem with it, if you don't. The choice is yours, Melodia."

"Yeah," Melodia finally smiled. "I guess that would be okay. But not today. Tomorrow."

"Sounds good," the tall girl replied. "By the way, my name is Anyanka."

"Well, as you know, I'm Melodia and this is my brother Arion." Waving to the group of kids Melodia turned and took my hand with her free one. "Can we go back to the inn now, Sam?"

"Sure."

Walking slowly, it was quiet for a few moments, "Sam?"

"Yeah, Arion?"

"Are we ever going to find our parents?" His question was quiet and I wondered when they would finally ask.

"I don't know," I admitted. "We've sent out word to outlying villages and to those that suffered the Roman attacks you did. I'm hoping that your parents will get one of the messages and come here looking for you."

"What's going to happen to us after you go back to the Amazons?" Melodia asked squeezing my hand.

"That's something we can talk about," I offered. "You could stay here with Toris, Tabitha, and Jason or you could come with us."

"But we couldn't stay together in the Amazon village, could we?"

"Afraid not, Arion. Girls only. But there would probably be someone in the centaur village that would take you or take both of you."

The twins nodded and held hands as we reached the inn. "Hey," stopping I let go of Melodia's hand and knelt in front of them. "We don't have to make any decisions right now. We'll talk about this with everybody and decide what to do. Okay?"

The twins finally nodded and I stood up again, "Good. Now let's go see if we can snatch a piece of cake before dinner."

"Are you kidding?" Arion looked at me and shook his head, "With Cyrene in the kitchen? We'll never get past her."

"You'd be surprised," I said as we entered the inn. "Just follow my lead." I instructed as we headed towards the kitchen and hopefully the liberation of some cake.