Conclusion [Sunset—Amazon Village

As Xena and Eve had thought, Gabrielle was preparing to lead a search party of their own had they not returned within a few hours' time. After their return, all three parties attended a brief council meeting to discuss what they knew about the dual quests and came to the conclusion that the involved parties knew as much as they already could.

Jasmine sat in front of a campfire and let her mind consider the issues in front of her. Soon she and Xena would accompany their friends on the quest to hunt down Yodoshi. While she would've jumped in to help in any case, the day's events had given her a measure of perspective. "Can I hold myself to an advisory role?"

"Supportive role, ya mean," Xena corrected with a smirk on her face. "Mind if I join ya?"

"Please make yourself at home," Jasmine invited. As her friend sat beside her, she added, "I take it the day was a good one for you too?"

"I don't know if it was good but I learned a few things," Xena admitted grimly. "I heard Varia helped you too."

"She has a knack for that. She said something about knowing the situation we're about to get into," Jasmine recounted. "There was something about her losing the Queenship over a place named Helicon."

Xena nodded. "She rushed into that mess and a few others with Ares because she wasn't thinking straight. She let anger cloud her judgment. In the end, Gabrielle and I had to save the Amazon nation from itself." She shuddered while remembering how Artemis' son had nearly exterminated them all on that beach in a hail of arrows and fire. "We could all learn from that."

"But you saved the day though," Jasmine asserted.

"Actually Gabrielle saved the day, Jasmine. She took control of the situation." Xena corrected her companion. "I think we should look to her example right now."

"I can do that. Xena?" Jasmine agreed.


The younger Amazon admitted, "I'm nervous about this whole thing."

"You and me both, Kid," she declared. "Let's just keep our heads on straight. Miranda and Yori will be counting on us."

Jasmine nodded resolutely, pledging silently to do so when the time came.

May we make you both proud, Lao Ma, Xena mused while rubbing her companion's shoulder. For a second, her eyes darted toward the woods feeling as if they were being watched. Then the feeling was gone. Now what?

Meantime, Gabrielle stood in the darkness, watching the two soon-to-be travelers swap their experiences. Her own fears ate at her as she wouldn't be able to accompany her soul mate and the younger student on their journey.

The moonlight shone through the trees, catching the glistening streaks on her cheeks.

Come back to me. The Amazon Nation can't lose you. Nor could I.

With that thought, she retreated back toward her hut. Despite her concerns, she knew Nai-Jin's and Yakut's respective advisories about her role with the Amazon Nation remained her first priority…even if she knew it meant that she needed to stay behind on her friends' most important quest.

For all concerned, that lesson proved difficult to swallow. In the coming time, however, it would be essential if they were to survive the journeys to come.

THE END (for now)