Early in the morning Samuel woke up and took off Eve's arm that was draped over his chest and laid it on the bed softly. He smiled and got out of bed slipping on his pants and grabbed his tunic and quickly dressed. Slipping his khussas on, grabbing his coat and turban he began to quietly sneak out of the room.
Eve opened her eyes and felt the spot next to her was cold, "where are you going?" she yawned and stretched her arm over her head. He sighed and turned to her with an apologetic face.
"I have some business to care of," he saw the disappointment in her face and hated to leave the bed. In truth, he'd rather stay in bed with her all day instead of doing paperwork and have long meetings with councilmen and his vizier.
She sat up wrapping the sheet around her bare chest, "you always have business, Samuel. You just got back and I was only able to spend a few hours with you and most of it was sleeping," she frowned.
He sighed and tapped his fingernails on the bed, "after I'm finished with my meetings I will take you out for a walk in the gardens. How does that sound?"
She contemplated the offer for a moment and then said, "with no guards following us around?" she asked and he smiled nodding his head, agreeing to her conditions. "And no vizier, either?" she smiled sneakily. He sighed and relented. She crawled across the bed and the sheet slipped off her body. She stood on her knees and wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him gently. "Then it's a deal," she whispered and he lowered his eyes, finding it hard to resist her especially after last night.
The door opened and Kosem walked in. She saw the king standing in front of Eve and gasped loudly, averting her eyes. Eve's eyes widened and she crept down, covering her body with the sheets and her cheeks reddened.
"My king, I didn't...know you were in here," Kosem said a bit embarrassed to walk in on both of them. "Perhaps I should come back..later?" she suggested.
Samuel smirked and kissed Eve's forehead and left for the door. He placed his hand on Kosem's shoulder, "don't bother, I was just leaving," he kissed her cheek then waltzed out the door to go to his room to change into a different set of clothes.
Kosem closed the door and remained facing the wall refusing to look at Eve. "Princess, forgive me. If I had known he was in here, I wouldn't have –"
"It's fine," Eve sighed and got out of bed with the sheet still wrapped around her body. She was looking for her kaftan and quickly snatched it from the chair nearby and put it on. "You should probably knock next time," she looked in the mirror and ran her fingers through her messy hair.
Kosem turned around and saw Eve was dressed and bowed her head, "you are usually still asleep at this time, princess. I always come in here to check on you and prepare your clothes for the day. Forgive me," she said sincerely.
Eve smiled at her placing her hands on her narrow hips, "you can stop apologizing now," she chuckled and the maid began looking through the wardrobe of dresses for Eve to wear for today. Eve grabbed a few towels to go wash her hair in the baths. "At least you apologized. Once, my mother walked in on me and this boy I was with when I was sixteen. He was a nice Egyptian boy from the Greek academy a few blocks away from the palace in Cairo." Eve smirked thinking of that awkward situation and Kosem followed her with oils and lotions. "Nothing happened, we were playing a game and fell asleep on my bed although it didn't look like that to my mother. I thought she was going to kill him!" she chuckled softly.
Kosem smiled finding some amusement in Eve's story. "I'm sure she was just protecting you, princess," she followed her into the baths and Eve took off her kaftan and walked into the floor bath.
Eve dipped her hair in the water and wiped her face with her hands. "She didn't let me outside of the palace for a month after that and also had guards spy on me and report back to her," she sighed shaking her head. "She didn't want any boys coming around me. Obviously that is not a problem anymore," she smiled and poured some oil onto her arms.
Samuel came walking down the hall with his vizier catching up to him. Xena was waiting for Samuel to arrive and she smiled at him, "Samuel, I need to speak to you."
He stopped and sighed, rubbing his forehead, "can this wait, Xena? I'm very busy right now." He said and she frowned at him.
"It's very important and I think you would like to know about it," she said seriously and he tapped his shoe on the floor. He agreed to speak to her and told her to follow him to his office.
Samuel sat down at his desk and gestured for Xena to sit down as well. Jazar stood by his side and Xena frowned up at him. "So what is so important?" he leaned forward on the desk.
Xena crossed one leg over the other, "I will tell you but..." he eyed the vizier, "he has to leave," she requested.
The king frowned, "Xena whatever you say you can say around my vizier," he said and Xena remained quiet, tapping her fingers on her knee impatiently.
"I'm not saying a word until you tell him to leave," she stood her ground and Samuel thought that this woman was very stubborn, even more so than her daughter. Obviously, it was important otherwise she wouldn't bother coming to talk to him. He sighed and told his vizier to leave the room temporarily.
Now the two were alone and he leaned back in his chair staring at her curiously. "Alright Xena, you have my full attention now," he smiled politely at her.
She still felt like someone was watching or listening and she got up and began pacing around the room. "As you know, I don't like your vizier. He was your father's advisor and he dislikes me too. You and I are close aren't we, Samuel?" she smiled.
"Well, I guess so," he watched her pace around and he was very bemused at her behavior.
"And you trust me don't you?" she asked and he nodded, agreeing with her. She stopped and leaned on his desk, coming very close to his face. "Your vizier is plotting against you," she whispered and he blinked, a bit shocked to hear that. "Last night I was taking a walk in the gardens and I saw him talking to a messenger from Scythia. I believe he has been sending messages to the Scythian king for awhile now..." she smiled at the young king.
Samuel stood up and huffed, pacing back and forth behind his chair. "What proof do you have?" he asked, suspicious of her, though he knew that Xena was not a liar, he just couldn't believe that his own vizier would betray him.
She folded her arms, "you should check the balance of your treasury. He is sending money to the Scythian king."
His eyes widened and his blood began to boil. He immediately stormed out of the room to go to the treasurer in a room below the palace. Xena passed the vizier and smiled deviously at him. The vizier was confused and he frowned at her, watching her follow the king down the stairs to the basement of the palace.
Ibn Malak, the treasurer saw the king storm into the room. He stood up frantic at his arrival and bowed his head, "your majesty, I don't normally see you down here."
Samuel walked up to the man, "I want to see the count of yesterday's gold count and today's," he demanded. Ibn Malak looked through his log of numbers and scooted the book towards the king. Samuel looked at the numbers as they were divided up into several sections. A portion for food, weaponry, clothing, palace necessities and war efforts. He looked carefully, flipping the pages back and forth. He saw that the allowance for weaponry was decreased by a landslide and the war efforts allowance remained the same.
He pointed to the weaponry numbers, "why has our weapon allowance decreased in one day?" he asked.
Ibn Malak checked the numbers with a magnifying glass and looked up at the king. "The Grand vizier asked me to take money out of the weapon allowance yesterday. He said he was giving it to you," he bowed his head.
Xena snickered at the entrance and Samuel turned to her, furious at this discovery. "Is that enough proof for you?" she asked with a smug grin. He growled and stormed out of the room to go confront of his vizier.
Jazar was in the throne chamber speaking with one of the guards in hushed tones and Samuel marched for him. "Vizier!" Samuel yelled and Jazar turned around, quite alarmed to see the king in such an irate mood.
"Yes, your majesty?" he folded his hands behind his back and noticed Xena standing behind him with a smile on her face. Of course she would be smiling, she was up to something and he always hated her.
"I was informed that you took money out of the weapon allowance and you were supposed to give it to me," he said and the vizier's face paled. "Are you in contact with the Scythian king?" he asked.
Jazar stumbled in his speech, "no of course not, your highness. I would never go behind your back."
Samuel frowned, "is that so? Xena told me she heard you speaking to a Scythian messenger, is that a lie as well?"
Jazar glared at the empress, "your highness, the empress does not like me. She is lying to you!"
Xena laughed, "I am lying? I have no reason to lie, vizier. Wasn't it you who called the king young and naive and unfit to rule Persia?" she smirked and Samuel grit his teeth then raised his hand and slapped Jazar across the cheek.
The vizier stumbled back and fell to the floor. Samuel walked over to the elderly man and kicked him in the leg, "you insult my wife," he kicked him again and the vizier winced in pain. "You insult the Empress of Greece," he kicked the man in his ribs and the vizier curled his legs close to his chest. "You insult my mother!" he kicked his spine harshly, "and you insult your king!" he stomped on his hip and the vizier moaned in agony, gasping for air.
Xena stood at a distance and her eyes widened as she witnessed Samuel kicking the life out of this elderly man. She had never seen him act this way, even in battle together he did not behave like so.
"Guards!" Samuel yelled out and a swarm of guards came to his side. "Take this filth away and put him in prison until I decide what to do with him," he said and walked away.
Jazar groaned in pain, "your highness!" he began and the guards hoisted him up, "your highness, please!" he pleaded and Samuel kept walking ignoring his pleas.
Xena followed Samuel down the hall and he turned to her, "Xena, I want to thank for you relaying this information to me. I should have got rid of him long ago."
She smiled, "we make mistakes and learn, but now, you need to deal with the Scythian king," she said and he nodded, rubbing his chin.
He waved to his royal guard, "tell my general Mehmed, that I want all the court interviewed. I want to know everything about them, what they eat, where they go, how they spend their vacations and what people they see outside the palace." The guard nodded, "and make sure Mehmed sends a report back to me immediately!" he called out as the guard began running off with the others to find General Mehmed.
Later Eve left her room after Kosem fixed her hair and she wore a gold dress with black trim. It was still early in the day and she had yet to see her mother or Samuel, though she figured that Samuel was busy, as usual. She tread down the hallway and went to the guest room that her mother and Gabrielle stayed in during their visit.
She entered the room and saw Gabrielle was awake and fixing the bandage around her ankle. She looked up and saw Eve and grinned at her. "How is your ankle?" Eve came closer.
Gabrielle sighed, "I should be able to walk on it in a few more days, hopefully!" she smiled and grabbed her staff hoisting herself up off the bed. "You look nice," she scanned her dress and noticed her hair neatly done with perfect curls and jewels in her hair.
Eve rolled her eyes, "Kosem always does my hair every morning. I tried to tell her that she doesn't need to, but she doesn't listen to me!" she grinned and linked arms with Gabrielle. "Are you and mother going to return to Greece soon?"
Gabrielle frowned, "well she hasn't mentioned anything to me." They walked together to the balcony to sit for awhile. She sat down and Eve sat next to her. "Where is she anyway?"
Eve shook her head, "I have no idea. I haven't seen her all morning," she sighed and looked at the mountains from afar. From here, they could see the port of Susa, which was equally as beautiful. "Gabrielle..." she couldn't stop thinking about yesterday with Gabrielle's and Fadi's interaction with one another. The blonde turned to her with open eyes. "Why did you react like that...yesterday? with Fadi, I mean..." she asked, fearing that she might strike a nerve in her.
Gabrielle frowned and looked out at the rocky terrain. "I don't like people like him, Eve. Something happened to me when I was very young and I never want to hear about something like this to someone I love, especially you," she grabbed Eve's hand squeezing it tightly.
The princess smiled weakly and nodded. She could hear the sadness and anger in her voice. "I'm sorry that happened to you, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle smiled, "It was a long time ago. I was fifteen years old and just left Potidaea a few years ago. I was lost and confused. A young man, who I thought was going to help me, ended up taking advantage of me and having his way with me." She grew even more angry the more her memories came rushing back to her. "It was then when a nice Egyptian man that worked for the Roman military found me and saved me." She smiled thinking of that nice, and thought he was probably dead by now, but if she saw him again, she'd definitely want to thank him.
Eve pat Gabrielle's hand then hugged her warmly from the side, "I'm glad that you were able to get away, Gabrielle."
"I'm glad that you were able to defend yourself," she kissed Eve's forehead."How's the life of being a Princess of Persia?" she smirked and Eve sighed heavily. "Not liking it too much?"
"It's not that," she tapped her fingers on the armrest of the chair she sat in, "Samuel is so busy and I know he's the king, but I hardly ever see him." Gabrielle rubbed Eve's arm warmly and the young princess looked out at the mountains then to Gabrielle. "He hasn't even seen the children since he came back."
Gabrielle knew that feeling all too well. She remembered when Xena was still a very busy empress in Athens and she was always gone or busy with treaties, meetings and documents when Eve was a child. She hardly ever saw her, but she always made time to see her even when Xena was super tired and worn out. Xena hit her peek as empress during those years and everyone was out to get her it seemed. Not long after she defeated Octavius the first time, she had to meet with many princes, kings and queens from Africa which caused her to be absent through much of Eve's young childhood. Though Eve was too young to remember the times when Xena was gone, she definitely caught on when she was around six years old.
After Xena had settled down a bit more when Eve was older and after she lost pretty much everything and fled to Egypt to live there for awhile. Xena was more active in Eve's life when she was around twelve or thirteen. At this time, Samuel was very young, probably one of the youngest kings to rule in Persia and he was at the height of his reign, making him vulnerable to attacks and people trying to take advantage of his position. It was no wonder that he was so busy and hardly had any time to see his wife or children especially dealing with the Scythians. The Scythians are the same burden that the Romans were to Xena.
"Eve," Gabrielle grabbed her hand and the princess looked at her with wary eyes. "Remember when your mother was away a lot when you were younger?" Eve nodded. "Samuel is very busy because of his age. Now that he is old enough to rule by himself without his vizier and mother by his side making the decisions for him, he has to do it all by himself."
Eve never thought about it like that and knew that Gabrielle was right. She remembered when her mother was gone a lot and she missed her a lot, but now it seemed like her mother was always around her and before, she wanted her gone, now she didn't want her to leave her.
"So I should be patient with him?" Eve asked and Gabrielle nodded.
"He loves you and I'm sure he wants to spend more time with you but his people and empire will always come first."
Eve scoffed, "sounds familiar," she mumbled, thinking of her mother and her giant empire. "I just don't want him to miss out on his children's lives."
Gabrielle nodded, feeling her anxiety and worry. "He won't, trust me. Just keep them around him at all times," she smiled.
Eve nodded, "thank you Gabrielle," she smiled and kissed her cheek and stood up to leave.
"Where are you off to now?" Gabrielle asked with a smirk.
"Samuel promised me that he would take me on a walk in the gardens this afternoon. I'm going to hold him to his promise," she smiled and disappeared from the balcony.
In the throne chamber Samuel sat talking with Xena about his councilmen. "I trust Mehmed and his judgment. He will do what is needed," he said.
Xena nodded, "make sure he picks out the liars in the group and sends the men directly to you otherwise they will continue to lie."
He groaned feeling a headache coming on. "Now what should I do about King Nimrood? He will have Persia's money to fund his army. I don't want to have a war with him, but I cannot have him thinking that my court supports him."
Xena knew that this was going to turn into a problem especially with Persia being border brothers with Scythia. "Have an emissary sent to Scythia and ask for the money to be returned, including the weapons he bought with Persian money. If he refuses...then you might have to go see him in person again..."
Samuel pinched the bridge of his nose, "and if he refuses again?"
Xena sighed, "then you war with him. That is the only way to make him stop," she said seriously and knew that was not what Samuel wanted to hear. She decided to offer her own help, "you may use my men at your disposal if you wish." She smiled.
He shook his head, "Xena that is kind of you, but you just finished a war, I don't want to drag you into this mess."
"Don't be ridiculous. You helped me, now let me return the favor. This is not up for discussion," she smiled and he sighed heavily thinking this was such a bad idea. He thought that if it came to war, then Xena's men will definitely be an asset to Persia, considering her empire was much larger and would trump Scythia's army to the ground.
Eve came into the room and saw her mother speaking with Samuel which was odd. "Mother, what are you doing here? I haven't seen you all morning," she interrupted.
Xena stood up to greet her daughter, "business affairs," she said and Eve nodded, knowing what that meant. She was not allowed to tell her since Samuel was her husband and he was king. The two had a higher status than her and since she was in Persia, she was not allowed to know all the details of Persian affairs and politics.
Eve turned to her husband, "Samuel you promised me a walk in the gardens earlier, remember?" she smiled.
He cursed to himself, forgetting about that promise he made to her early this morning. She frowned at him folding her arms. "Samuel, you promised me," she said lowly.
He stood up and placed his hands on her shoulders and smiled, "I did promise you," he gestured her to lead the way to the gardens and saw her eyes light up, something he enjoyed seeing. He did want her to be disappointed and a small walk couldn't hurt anyone.
She grinned, "I thought we could take Layla and Luca with us. You haven't seen them since you got back."
"Sounds good to me," he smiled then Eve left to go get the children and he looked at Xena. "Tell me when Mehmed is done interrogating my councilmen." He instructed and she nodded then he sauntered off to help Eve with the twins.
Later Gabrielle came to find Xena speaking with the royal guards. She approached her slowly, "what are you up to?" she asked curiously. Xena turned her with a smile, happy to see her. "Butting your nose where it doesn't belong again?"
Xena smirked, "just helping a friend, Gabrielle." She pointed to the gardens, "Samuel and Eve are on a walk together with the children. They left an hour ago." Gabrielle looked outside and saw the two of them walking together, each with a child in their arms. "Gabrielle," she placed a hand on her shoulder, "this is becoming a serious problem. Samuel's vizier has been sending money to the Scythian King without Samuel's consent. Now the Scythian King has Persian money to fund his army. Samuel must convince the Scythians to return the money and weapons, but I fear that he won't abide by the rules."
Gabrielle knew this talk all too well. "You think the Scythians want a war, then?" Xena nodded instantly. "And you want to help the Persians?" she asked and again Xena agreed. "Well let's hope it doesn't come to that," she sighed heavily.
"You would help wouldn't you Gabrielle?" Xena hoped she'd say yes.
"Is Aphrodite the goddess of love?" Gabrielle grinned mischievously. "Of course I would! Although I was enjoying my vacation from war," she joked.
A messenger came running into the room looking for the king and was panicking. Xena frowned at the young man. "Yes?" the empress asked.
"Empress," he bowed his head, "I have a message for the king from the King of Assyria. Do you know where I might find his majesty?" he asked hoping she'd know.
Xena's eyes widened, "I will deliver it to him," she said and he nodded, giving her the letter and ran off. She ripped open the letter and Gabrielle gasped.
"Xena, you can't do that!" she exclaimed and Xena completely ignored her and read over the letter. It was torn on the corners and covered in blood and dirt.
Send Persian aid to Qin.
Solan and I are trapped in Scythian territory in the Himalayas.
Not enough men.
Xena frowned and folded the letter up and put it inside her bodice. Gabrielle looked confused and grabbed her arm. "Xena, what does it say?"
"Allat and Solan are trapped in Qin, fighting against the Scythians. They're asking for Persian aid."
"You need to tell Samuel," Gabrielle urged her and Xena remained silent.
"I knew Solan should not have gone to Qin. It is dangerous there," she cursed to herself. Though, she couldn't control her adult son, she still cared for him and wanted him to be safe and Qin was definitely the least safest place to be especially in Scythian territory, which she had no idea the Scythian kingdom stretched that far across the eastern map.
Himalayas –Scythian Territory
Allat hid behind some snowy brush and Solan was next to him, pressing his hand on his open wound on the side of his torso. Allat took out his bow and arrow and looked at the Scythians as they were searching for them. Solan groaned and Allat frowned. "Shh, you will give our position away," he whispered and drew his arrow back aiming at a large Scythian soldier. He let go of the arrow and shot the Scythian through his heart and saw him fall over into the snow bank.
Solan winced in pain and Allat threw his bow over his shoulder and grabbed Solan beneath his arms and drug him off in the snow. The Assyrian king grunted and drug Solan off and then heard Scythians yelling at one another. He saw two of them peer over the brush and pointed at them. "Shit," Allat groaned and pulled Solan behind a couple of trees. "I'll be back," he frowned and drew two swords from his sheaths and came at the soldiers.
Allat plunged one of the blades into a Scythian and tripped the other with his boot. He growled and kicked the wounded soldier down and then struck the other Scythian in his chest. Allat breathed heavily then saw three more Scythians running towards him. He cursed to himself silently and thought he probably was going to expect more of them after these guys.
There were hordes of Scythians in this area and Allat had no idea that the Scythians even drifted this far off the map and he regretted coming here especially with Solan. As the Scythians attacked him all he could hope for was that the Persians would come to help but he thought that it might be too late. It had been four days since he sent that letter and he didn't even know if the messenger made it alive. If the Scythians were attacking the people of Qin in the Himalayas then it was a good chance that the Persians were dealing with the Scythians as well.
Solan ripped off a piece of his already torn cape and wrapped it around his torso to protect his bleeding wound. He looked behind him and saw Allat trying to fend off four Scythians at once. Solan grabbed a dagger from his boot and closed one eye aiming at one Scythian without a helmet that was about to strike Allat from behind. He threw the dagger and it went directly through the Scythian's eye and he groaned in agony, dropping his mace. He scooted away so he was not noticeable and hid behind one of the larger trees and exhaled sharply as the slightest movement further opened his wound even more.
Allat breathed heavily and had slain all four Scythians coming for him then heard some more coming his way. He groaned and sheathed both of his swords. He ran to Solan and hoisted him up. "We need to get out of here, there's too many of them!" it began to snow and Solan grunted as he held his side with his palm. Allat looked to his friend and was starting to become worried seeing all the blood he already lost and his face was extremely pale too. He looked ahead and saw a small cave. "Can you make it over there?" he yelled as the snow began to come down heavier as they walked. Solan looked ahead and the cave seemed so far, but he nodded and clung onto Allat as tightly as possible.
What seemed like an eternity later, they finally arrived at the hidden cave and Allat put Solan down on the cold ground. He went to the entrance and blocked it with a few branches from a snowy tree. He rubbed his hands together then looked at his friend. Kneeling beside him he touched his wound and Solan hissed. "That looks pretty bad, my friend," he said shaking his head and unwrapped the cloth and ripped open Solan's tunic. He saw pieces of a blade stuck in there and some debris.
Allat stuck his fingers in the wound without warning and Solan cried out in pain. He pulled out the debris and an end of a dagger blade and wiped his hands on his pants. "All of our medical supplies were left on the horses a few miles back," Allat groaned and pressed his palm on Solan's wound.
Solan reached in a pouch he had hanging off his belt and handed it to Allat. The Assyrian king looked inside and saw a few dried herbs in there. He smiled, "brother, you are resourceful," he took some of the herbs out and spit in his palm to moisten them. "This is going to hurt," he began gently packing the wound with the herbs and Solan's eyes widened though he refused not to make a sound.
"We...we should have sent a letter to my mother," Solan said in between harsh breaths.
Allat shook his head, "Greece is too far from here. Hopefully Samuel gets the message and will come to help us." He sighed and took off his cape and wrapped it around Solan for warmth. He stood up and began pacing around not knowing what to do next. "That should hold you up for a few days. We can't stay in this cave forever or they will find us," he scanned the area and barely could see anything with the blizzard coming in fast and hard.
Solan coughed, "my mother was right," he exhaled slowly, mindful of his breathing.
Allat turned around frowning at his blonde friend, "about what?"
"Qin is dangerous," he smiled weakly and felt so cold. Allat smirked and sat next to him and pat his leg gently. "Do you think the Persians will come save us?"
The king sighed, "I hope so my friend. We will need to leave when the storm calms down. I don't want the Scythians to find us," he frowned.
The following morning Allat grabbed Solan and they began walking out of the cave. The snow storm had subsided and it was very sunny outside. There was barely any coverage for them to hide behind so it was going to be tough to try and get out of here.
Allat helped Solan out of the cave and then saw they were surrounded by swords and spears. He blinked and Solan glanced around him. "They aren't Sycthians..." Solan mumbled.
A man dressed in all black and green wearing a black gaunmao on his head sat on his large black horse staring them down. He smiled at the two travelers, "you shouldn't leave trails of blood, you know, people could find you and kill you." He chuckled then quirked his head to the side, "you are not from Qin, are you?" he asked and both Solan and Allat remained frozen, afraid what might happen to them. "Who are you?" he frowned looking at them.
Allat spoke first and cleared his throat, "King of Assyria," he said proudly and the man nodded then turned to his blonde friend.
Solan looked up at the man on his horse, "Prince of Greece," he said not as confident as Allat did.
The man frowned, "Prince of Greece?" he tapped his fingers against his thigh, "so you must be the empress's son," he smiled. Solan's eyes grew in shock and the man laughed aloud. "Don't look so shocked! I am an old friend of Xena's, well actually...she was my mother's friend. I can't say your mother and I have the best relationship," he sighed. "So what are you two westerners doing in Qin?" he smiled and the two remained silent. He frowned at the two then snapped his fingers to his soldiers. "Take them," he demanded.
Allat groaned and began to fight them off and before the man began trotting off he smirked. "I forgot to introduce myself," he bowed his head to the Assyrian King, "my name is Ming Tien, Emperor of Qin," he smiled as he saw Allat struggling. "It would befit you to stop struggling, your majesty." Allat spat at him and Ming Tien frowned and one of the soldiers hit Allat with the butt of the spear and he fell backward into the arms of the soldiers holding his arms.
Solan was taken by two Qin soldiers and Ming Tien, "careful with the Greek Prince. I will make sure he receives special treatment." He clicked his tongue against his cheek and pulled on his horse's reins then rode off in the snow with his men following behind him.
Ming Tien's men put Solan and Allat in a large cage and were being carried by two horses threw the thick snow. Solan looked at the emperor and sighed heavily as he saw Allat was knocked out still. "You and your enemies, mother..." he grumbled to himself.
Xena went out into the gardens to interrupt Samuel's and Eve's time alone. "Samuel," she said loudly and he turned around to see her marching towards him with a letter in her hand. He frowned and she stopped in front of him. "Allat sent a letter from Qin. He and Solan are in trouble and were attacked by the Scythians."
Samuel groaned, "Scythians are everywhere!" he cursed himself and held Luca in his arms and he was sleeping on his chest. He looked down at him and was conflicted. Xena held out her arms and he gave him to her in exchange for the letter. He opened it and read it over quickly. It was short and sweet, right to the point. "I should send my Alps to search for them," he said and Xena looked confused. "Alps are some of my best fighters and are sent on dangerous mission such as this."
Eve stood next to Samuel and grabbed his arm, "is Solan alright?" she asked, worried for her elder brother.
He sighed, "I hope so," he reached down and kissed her cheek. "I need to speak to Mehmed about this," he said with an apologetic look on his face. She understood and nodded then he began running off back to the palace.
Eve came to stand next to her mother and adjusted Layla on her hip, "are you going to help save Solan and Allat?"
Xena frowned, "I am not allowed in Qin and I promised I'd never return there," she began walking back to the palace and brushed her hand against Luca's dark hair.
"Mother, you need to help Samuel! Solan could be hurt or trapped somewhere!" she said and Layla looked up at her with wide eyes. Xena let out a large sigh and remained silent. Eve frowned, "if you don't go then I will."
Xena turned to her with irate eyes, "no!" she said loudly and Luca woke up, crying softly on her chest. She groaned inwardly and began trying to calm him down.
"Forget about the agreement you made a long time ago, mother and just go to Qin," Eve said and they entered the palace and Xena handed off Luca to Kosem. "I don't want anything to happen to Solan," she touched her mother's arm, "he's my only brother," she smiled softly.
Xena kissed her daughter's forehead and grazed her cheek gently, "if I leave...I will be gone for a long time." She admitted seriously.
Eve looked into her mother's eyes, "just bring him back."
Awhile later in the evening General Mehmed came to Samuel's office with a report of all the people he interrogated. He bowed his head to his king, "your majesty, I have interviewed everyone that you asked me to."
Samuel nodded, "good, but that can wait. I have another problem to deal with," he sighed and Mehmed raised a thick brow. "The Scythians attacked the Assyrian King and Prince of Greece in Qin. They asked for our help and I want to send our Alps to find them."
Mehmed nodded, understanding the king's decision. "Afendim, if I may say, our Alps do not know the terrain of Qin very well. It could take weeks or even months to find them. Qin is a large territory." Samuel banged his fist on the desk and never felt so much frustration or stress in his short life until this very moment. He had too much to deal with at once –first the Scythians invading Susa, then the Scythian king receiving his money, his vizier betraying him, his own brother tried to have sex with his wife and now this Qin situation.
"Do you know of anyone that is familiar with the terrain?" Mehmed suggested.
Samuel sighed, "yes I do," he did not even want to ask Xena to help, but he was sure that she would especially if her son was being attacked.
A few minutes later Xena was brought into his office and she stared at Samuel then at his general. Mehmed bowed his head at her and she curtly nodded at the man. Samuel tapped his fingers on the desk then stood up staring at the empress. "Xena, you know the terrain of Qin well, don't you?"
"Yes," Xena said immediately.
He sighed not sure how to say this, "I hate to ask you this but, I want you to go with my Alps to Qin to help rescue Allat and Solan. I understand if you don't –"
"I will do it," Xena said folding her arms and he blinked, quite surprised at her quick response. "How many Alps do you have?"
"I have twelve," he said and she shook her head.
"That is not enough especially if we are dealing with Scythians. If Allat and Solan were not able to handle the Scythians by themselves, that means they have a horde of them in Qin."
Samuel raised an eyebrow, "Xena, my Alps are trained under the Anatolian Alps ever since they could walk. They are more than qualified."
Xena was about to protest until Mehmed intervened. "If I may make a suggestion?" he said and Xena looked to him. "The empress may take all twelve Alps plus twenty of our best archers to Qin. We will need the rest of the army to stay here in case King Nimrood decides to invade or do something irrational."
Samuel nodded, liking the idea of that, "what do you think Xena?" he asked for her approval and she agreed with him and the general. "We will need a week at the most to gather up necessary supplies."
"I will tell Gabrielle that we will be leaving soon," Xena smiled and left the room.
Mehmed now turned to his king now that they were alone in the room. "Your highness, I have gathered a lot of information from the court," he said pulled out a stack of parchment and plopped down on the desk. Samuel sat down and began looking through of all his general's notes. "It seems that the vizier, Jazar, has been sending money to the Scythian king for his army in the last year when you were absent. To my knowledge, all of the councilmen were aware of this and were able to hide it by switching around allowances to make it seem like no money was missing at all in the budget."
Samuel's blood began to boil as he heard Mehmed speak of the betrayal of his councilmen, especially in his absence. It was the vizier's job to oversee political matters when the queen and king were gone and he was not even able to do that correctly. He waved his hand, "I want them arrested."
Mehmed nodded, "all of them, your majesty?"
"Yes. Tell them they will be sentenced to death for their treason to Persia," Samuel got up and left the office, infuriated at his own people betraying him for so long and right under his nose too.
AN: I wanted to address that in the show that Scythians were mentioned a lot, but it was not mentioned who they were or where they come from. The Scythians had an empire that bordered ancient Persia. They are from modern day Kazakhstan, Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. They also had military posts in ancient China, India and parts of Pakistan. They were excellent fighters and indeed ruthless warriors.
some side notes: "afendim" means respected sir and "gaunmao" is a headdress worn by ancient Chinese emperors in the ancient Qin dynasty.
there is a lot of politics in these last few chapters so try and keep up! lol ;)