Disclaimer & Notices: See the prologue.

Prequels: To Find What was Mine (#1) & To Take What is Mine (#2)

AN: Sorry for the delayed update! Work is a little too much and the winter snow is way too much. But, I made it to the next chapter. We'll be jumping back to Xena after this then the chapter after that one will be getting to the fun stuff! Down below are the replies to anonymous reviews. Thank you all for the great support. I'm glad so many are still following this oldie. :)

AN2: An almost after thought, for those of you that are on Tumblr... I just started an account. I'm on there as lilredwings so feel free to add me because I need friends. Stuff on Tumblr is funny as all hell! :))

Guest (from Feb 9): I enjoyed adding in the flash back. It helps to still get X/G time when the two of them are currently separated again. Thank you for the feedback. I hope you enjoy this chapter!

Liz: I'm happy too that I've been able to pick it up again. It's one of my most favorites series to write, despite some of the difficulties I've had with it. Glad you enjoyed the update! Thank you so much for the review.

Debbie: I know reading all the stories is a lot to cover. Even though this is only the third story, I know they're so damn long. lol. Not sure it's good or bad to be an epic writer. I'm so glad you've enjoyed the series so far. Thank you for your kind words!

Guest (from Feb 22): You know, I had to do the same thing... reread everything. Sadly that's how out of sync I made myself. But, I'm just happy to be back at it. Thank you for the review and hope you like the rest. :)

Started: June 6, 2008

Series 9: Destiny of Mine, Story #3

To Fight for What is Mine

by Red Hope

Chapter 21

"The armory is well stocked," Queen Gabrielle reported to the other members around the table. She had looked over the inventory that Andra and Seven of Nine organized for them. It had taken quite a bit of time too. "Food is ample, and we can begin to ration it as soon as we seal the gates."

"And what of medicines and herbs?" Delos, an Amphipolitan council member, spoke up.

"We are also well stocked," Queen Gabrielle replied. She set the scroll down on the table. "However, we may have more herbs than healers, I am afraid."

"There is hardly any time to gather more healers," Patracles reminded the group. He studied his fellow Amphipolitans, Nikostratos, and Xander.

Kaylee traded a glance with Gabrielle, and she spoke up. "There are a handful of our own healers coming with the army." She noted a few relieved looks. "I suspect Queen Cyane will have hers too."

"Perhaps we should focus on the plan of attack," Nikostratos brought up. Many seconded his idea so he indicated the large, hand drawn map of Amphipolis, Eion, and the local surroundings. The map was fresh after Queen Gabrielle's Amazons took the time to draw it.

"So far, we have reinforced the walls and many homes in Amphipolis." Nikostratos pointed to the western wall line. "We especially focused on the western side since the legion will most likely come from the west."

"Their siege weapons will be strong," Xander reminded.

Nikostratos nodded at the nauarchos.

"Have the people of Eion been evacuated to Amphipolis?" Delos questioned.

"Yes," Nikostratos replied. "Any wishing to flee Eion or Amphipolis have already left."

Theron, a third council member, had been quiet. He shifted in his seat. "Commander Xander, are you leaving your two hundred hoplites in Eion?"

"Yes, to defend it and my triremes."

"Perhaps it is wiser to fully abandon Eion," Patracles argued. He looked to the nauarchos. "You could move your hoplites here and send your ten triremes away until this battle is over."

"If Eion is taken then Amphipolis will fall. Classis Alexandrina will supply the legion and buy them more time." Xander rubbed his dark beard a few times. "I do not see how it is wise."

"You will be outnumbered two to one," Patracles debated.

"I have faced worse." Xander was hardly deterred by the argument. He would weather whatever Classis Alexandrina threw at them.

"A foot hole using Eion would harm us greatly," Nikostratos softly agreed. He hated the idea of the Delian League battling Classis Alexandrina. However, it was a better option than giving up Eion instantly. Even if Xander lost, it was a later loss that could keep Amphipolis temporarily safe.

"Your Amazons will be stationed here?" Nikostratos returned to the map.

"Yes," Gabrielle agreed. She nodded at Nikostratos's indication to the southern portion of Amphipolis. "Queen Cyane's Nation will go to the northern sector."

Nikostratos seemed pleased by the positioning of the Amazon armies. "The legion is marching from the north-west." He placed his finger near the lone bridge. "Their only choice is to cross the Strymon here." He looked up at the group. "The bridge is plenty strong to hold them."

"It will be a bottleneck," Kaylee summarized.

"The Strymon is too deep to pass without a bridge," Gabrielle reminded the group.

Nikostratos tapped on the bridge. "We can make a stand there." He looked at the two Amazons. "In phalanx formation, we should be able to hold the bridge and take out many legionnaires."

"They will use archers," Xander reminded them.

"Will they not use their siege weapons?" Patracles spoke up.

"Yes," Nikostratos replied. "But, it will take them some time to setup their siege weapons. By that time, we could take out several hundred legionnaires."

Queen Gabrielle was listening and picturing such a maneuver on the bridge. She then looked up from the map. "Then we should destroy the bridge once they start with the siege weapons."

"We need the bridge," Delos argued. "You cannot destroy our only means across the Strymon."

Nikostratos shook his head after he considered Gabrielle's idea. "She is right." He grinned at Queen Gabrielle before he added, "If we take out the bridge, we could rid of another hundred or so legionnaires. They will wash down to the delta and into the sea."

"We would need to weaken the bridge first," Kaylee brought up.

Gabrielle nodded at the suggestion. "We have time."

"Once the bridge is gone then what?" Delos demanded.

"The Romans will build another," Xander revealed. "It will take a few days, but they will control it and come to us."

"Let them control it," Gabrielle whispered. She met Xander's gaze.

Nikostratos sensed the tension between Gabrielle and Xander. He cleared his throat and mentioned, "Speaking of control, the legion will attempt to take control of our water supply."

"Yes." Queen Gabrielle indicated the underground lines that filtered water from the Strymon into the city. "There is also a natural underground spring that enters the city here."

"That feeds the city baths," Theron explained.

Kaylee folded her arms and sighed. "The legion will find and block the city water."

"It may take them longer to find the natural spring," Gabrielle argued, "Since it is not tied to the Strymon."

"That could give us an edge," Nikostratos agreed. He rubbed his dark beard.

Xander shifted closer to the table and placed his index finger at the base of the valley to the south. "The legion will build a defense wall around the city like this." He traced his finger in a crescent shape to the west side of the city. "A small encampment to the eastern side of the mountain to make sure nobody travels over and down the valley."

"All traffic in or out of the city will be blocked," Gabrielle softly concluded. She remembered her lessons from Xena, who explained to her how a legion often laid siege on a city. Normally the legion had plenty of time to lay siege. However, this siege would be unusual because the legion had no access to supplies from Rome. Xena summarized the legion would work quickly to starve, dehydrate, and beat on Amphipolis before the legion ran out of supplies. Gabrielle learned under the worst duress, that the Amphipolitans could turn on each other including suicide and cannibalism. Gabrielle prayed to the gods that the siege did not go down that path.

"They may also blockade the Eion harbor," Nikostratos offered. He looked at the nauarchos. "And not engage the Delian League."

Xander, the nauarchos, sighed and looked down at Eion. "It is hard to say until the fleet arrives at the harbor."

Nikostratos silently agreed with the nauarchos. He then continued the discussion with the group. The initial plans were started, and like the others, he felt there was a better grasp on the future. If the city was prepared for the legion then they stood a better chance.

After the meeting, Gabrielle left with Kaylee at her side. She walked slowly and rather quietly as she went over things again in her head. There was much to do to be ready for the war and siege. She only came out of her thoughts when Kaylee grasped her shoulder and halted her.

"We can survive this," Kaylee mentioned.

Gabrielle sighed and faced the stratègos. "We will," she firmed. She leaned against her staff. Gabrielle parted her lips, about to asking something. She paused when Nikostratos passed them, and she nodded at him. She focused on Kaylee again. "I can tell you are displeased with me."

The stratègos was taken aback and started, "Gabrielle-"

"Your support is very important, Kaylee." Gabrielle straightened up. "We are not here because of my family."

Kaylee went quiet and decided it was better to listen to the queen. She suspected her recent signals to the queen were noticeable.

"I would take Cyrene, Toris, and his family out of Amphipolis, if it was just about them." Gabrielle read the stratègos's eyes. "I would remove them by force, if I must." She took a step closer and softly explained, "Thrace has no ruler… has no army. Amphipolis is the gateway between Thrace and Macedon and a step closer to our nation." She paused and watched how her words slowly altered Kaylee's attitude. "Amphipolis is awfully close to Queen Cyane's nation." She narrowed her eyes. "We have a lot of reasons to be here."

Kaylee let out a low breath when Gabrielle started to turn away. However, she tensed when the queen pivoted and faced her again.

"Did I forget the thousands of innocent lives in this city?" Gabrielle checked. She shook her head and joked, "I knew I forgot something." With that, she strolled off.

Kaylee stood rooted and watched the queen's receding figure. She silently cursed herself for her own stupidity of lately. She was bitter with Seven of Nine's secret endeavor to protect the queen. She let out a frustrated sigh and ran her fingers through her auburn tresses.

Queen Gabrielle sensed the stratègos at her side again. She held her tongue after she said her piece.

"I apologize, Gabrielle." Kaylee kept pace beside the queen. "You are right." She studied Gabrielle's profile. "There are many reasons for us to be here."

Gabrielle halted and turned to the stratègos. "Those are the reasons I need your head in this." She studied the stratègos's features. "The Fates only know what this legion will bring down on us."

Kaylee grasped the queen's forearm and promised, "We will weather it." She released the queen and continued their trip across the city.

"The Conqueror sent us Greek fire," Gabrielle reminded.

Kaylee recalled the Greek fire among the supply wagons.

"Greek fire burns even on water."

Kaylee glanced at the queen and realized it was less of a question. "Yes."

"If the legionnaires hear the bridge breaking," Gabrielle summarized, "They will back off."

"You want to contain them on the bridge," Kaylee guessed.

"Is there a way?" Gabrielle posed.

The stratègos considered the Greek fire and mentioned, "If we mix Greek fire and water, we can pump it like a stream."

Queen Gabrielle bit her bottom lip. "We would need somebody on the west side of the river." She looked at Kaylee. "Somebody hiding and ready to use the Greek fire and another to pump the fire."

Kaylee swallowed hard because her thoughts followed the queen's ideas. "We could construct a temporary floating bridge further down river so they could cross."

"No." Gabrielle shook her head. "It would be better up river once the bridge fails." She glanced at the stratègos. "Do we have enough time to build a pump and siphon?"

"I think so."

"With enough ruthless tactics, we can hope that it will turn legionnaire moral downward."

Kaylee grinned and joked, "We could have them shaking in their leather skirts."

Gabrielle chuckled and mirrored Kaylee's grin. "Yes, the big bad Amazons." She and Kaylee continued to discuss the idea about using Greek fire to control the legionnaires on the bridge. Gabrielle suspected that the Romans were unaccustomed to battling Amazons, which gave them an edge.

Just as Gabrielle approached Cyrene's taverna, she heard a familiar voice call her name. Like Kaylee, she turned on her heels and saw Solari running towards them. Gabrielle waited for the Amazon.

"What is it, Solari?"

Solari took a deep breath then hastily explained, "Queen Cyane… she's here."

Gabrielle instantly looked towards the west, where the gates rested. "Thank the gods," she murmured. She looked at the stratègos. "Are you ready to meet the famous Queen Cyane?"

Kaylee chuckled and held out her hand. "Lead the way, my queen."

Solari fell into step beside the pair. "She is early."

"Amazons are early birds," the stratègos quipped.

Solari smirked and looked at Queen Gabrielle. "Not all of us."

Gabrielle rolled her eyes and gave her friend a glower. "Thanks, Solari." She received a firm pat.

"I just tell the truth."

Gabrielle swatted her friend then picked up the pace. As soon as they made it to the gate, Gabrielle found Queen Cyane dismounting her horse.

Queen Cyane had forgone her normal red headband and instead had two braids that held her hair behind her head. She wore her usual maroon leathers but now iron plated armor was added to her attire. Her sword's winged hilt protruded past her right shoulder. Instantly, her blue eyes settled on Queen Gabrielle.

"Cyane," Gabrielle warmly greeted.

Queen Cyane smiled at the other queen. "Gabrielle." She approached the younger queen and exchanged a strong hug.

"It's good to see you," Gabrielle murmured to the Thrace queen.

Queen Cyane withdrew but held onto Gabrielle's shoulders. "I had hoped Xena changed her mind… or that you had changed it."

Gabrielle sighed and shook her head. "I am afraid not."

Cyane squeezed Gabrielle's shoulders and softly promised, "It does not change the outcome." She released Gabrielle and grinned. "Those pigs will squeal all the way back to Rome."

Gabrielle chuckled at the mental picture. She turned as she mentioned, "I'd like you to meet my stratègos."

Kaylee neared the two queens and smiled at Queen Cyane. "I have heard much about you, Queen Cyane." She held out her arm.

"Likewise, Commander Kaylee." Queen Cyane locked arms with the stratègos. "I heard you were trained by Penthesilea herself."


Queen Cyane smirked and looked at Queen Gabrielle. "I may have to steal her away."

Gabrielle opened her mouth about to ask for Lyda, but she snapped her jaw shut. She would have to find out more later.

"I am afraid I am already tied to the Macedon Nation," Kaylee interjected.

"Pity." Queen Cyane chuckled then sensed a familiar presence come to her side.

"Yakut," Gabrielle greeted. She hastily went in for a hug. "I didn't expect you to come."

Yakut returned the fierce hug then looked at Cyane. "Somebody has to watch my sister's back."

Queen Cyane sighed then signaled Commander Kaylee. "This is Kaylee, Gabrielle's stratègos."

Yakut shook arms with the stratègos. She then poked her sister's side and reminded, "The troops, my queen?" She indicated the travel worn Amazons behind them.

"Ah yes." Queen Cyane turned to Gabrielle. "Where are we to go?"

"I have a spot picked out for you." Queen Gabrielle took charge and helped Cyane guide the Thrace Amazon Nation into the city. She noticed how crowds of citizens lined the streets to welcome the Amazons. It filled Gabrielle with both gratitude and pride to be an Amazon.

It took all afternoon for the Thrace Amazons to settle into their spot to the north. They built temporary yurts in quick fashion. Gabrielle was quite impressed by their organized abilities and efficiency. By nightfall, camp fires were spread out among the Amazons and food was distributed amongst everybody.

Queen Gabrielle was seated with Cyane by a campfire. They chatted about what Amphipolis had done so far and the initial plans to prepare for the legion. On Gabrielle's right was Kaylee.

Cyane carefully listened to the details and kept them in mind. She wanted to see the map of Amphipolis that Gabrielle had drawn the other day. She needed a better understanding of the lands and city.

Yakut was on Cyane's other side. She hardly understood warfare since she had yet to participate in a battle. However, she was going to learn soon.

"What happened to Lyda?" Gabrielle quietly brought up.

Cyane dipped her last piece of bread into her empty bowl of soup. She wiped out the last remnants of the soup but answered the question before she ate her food. "She has retired."

Gabrielle blinked and shook her head. "So sudden?"

Cyane chewed on her food and gave a faint nod. After she swallowed the morsel down, she softly explained, "Lyda had a hard time letting go of the past."

Guilt swelled in the bard's stomach, and she touched Cyane's knee. "I'm sorry if we were somehow the cause of it."

Cyane knew Gabrielle meant her and the Conqueror, but she shook her head. "The nation cannot move forward if we continue to the live in the past." She studied Gabrielle's concerned features. "We have spent far too much time isolating ourselves in Thrace. Now is our chance to rejoin our sister nations as well as Greece." She sighed, sadly. "If Lyda cannot move forward as a figurehead of the nation then I could not keep her in command."

"I… I understand." Gabrielle squeezed Cyane's knee then let go. She still felt guilt about Lyda, yet Cyane had good reason.

"Gabrielle," Kaylee interrupted, "I believe I need to retire for the night."

"It has been a long day," the queen agreed with her stratègos.

Kaylee stood up and promised, "I will find you in the morning." She then bid goodbye to everybody.

"I think I may retire too, sister." Yakut fought a yawn and lost to it. She removed her headdress and set it in her lap.

Cyane leaned over and kissed her sister's temple. "Goodnight, Yakut."

The young shaman stood up and hugged both her sister and Gabrielle goodnight. She quietly left with her headdress under her arm.

"I hope she will not fight with that on," Gabrielle joked.

Cyane smirked at her sister's fading backside. "People tend to aim for the antlers instead of her."

Gabrielle softly laughed and looked to Cyane. She was about to ask Cyane if she wanted to lay down. However, Cyane spoke first.

"Let us talk about something other than war," Cyane prompted. She tilted her head to one side and encouraged, "Tell me more about yourself, Gabrielle."

The bard held out her hands and asked, "What would you like to know?"

Cyane grinned. "Something about you that does not involve Xena." She knew the pair had grown up together.

"Well…" Gabrielle seriously considered the request and finally gave a shrug. "I graduated from the Athens Academy of Performing Bards."

"Really?" Cyane's interests were peaked. "Can you still tell a good story?"

"Some think so." Gabrielle had told a story only a few nights ago for her nephew and Cyrene.

"And what of family?" Cyane saw Gabrielle's glow instantly die off. She touched the young queen's knee and offered, "If you wish."

"It's okay." Gabrielle let out a low breath. "My parents have both passed and my sister…" She blinked away the sting in her eyes. "I don't know what's become of her."

"I am sorry, Gabrielle." Cyane shifted on her seat and faced the other queen better. "It's very hard losing family, especially when it's not their time." She leaned in closer to Gabrielle.

"What about you?" Gabrielle countered. "Were you born as an Amazon?"

Cyane smiled and replied, "I was born in the Nation." She tilted her head. "I am a descendant of the first shaman in the Nation."

Gabrielle remembered what she had learned about the first shaman and the last priestess in the Thrace Nation. "Crescentia," she murmured.

Cyane smiled and nodded. "Yes, she was my great grandmother."

Gabrielle was amazed and a hint of surprise shined in her eyes. "Then why are you…"

"Not the shaman?" Cyane finished. She chuckled and straightened up from her bent position. "To be the shaman, it is not a hereditary requirement." She shrugged and added, "My family is more apt as a leader." Again she leaned closer to Gabrielle. "However, I do have minor spiritual powers but hardly compared to what Yakut will learn in time."

Gabrielle smiled at the new information. "It explains your lighter hair." She remembered that Crescentia was from Germania.

Cyane grinned and asked, "And what of yours?"

Gabrielle toyed with her blond strands and shrugged. "I was just the… light sheep in the family."

Cyane's grin turned into a soft smile. "I see," she murmured. She then patted Gabrielle's knee and suggested, "We both should get some rest." She stood up and drew Gabrielle with her. "I'll walk you to Cyrene's taverna."

"That's okay," Gabrielle brushed off. However, her attempt failed because Cyane hooked her shoulder and guided her through the Amazon camp. She and Cyane chatted during the walk across town. Once at the taverna, she exchanged a quick hug with Cyane before she said goodnight. Cyane promised to find Gabrielle in the morning for breakfast.

Gabrielle went to her room. As she prepared for bed, she considered Cyane's arrival in Amphipolis. It brought a great deal of relief that Cyane was here. Cyane had many more years of experience as a ruler and warrior than Gabrielle. She hoped between Cyane and Kaylee that they could formulate strong battle tactics against the Romans.

Gabrielle sunk into Xena's old bed and happily groaned at how it felt so nice. She shared many memories of her and Xena in the bed. She tried thinking less about the old memories because it made it harder to sleep. Tonight though, she slept better than the last few because of the Thrace Nation's arrival. However, her improved sleep was cut off by a sharp knock at the door well before dawn.

"Go away," Gabrielle muttered into the pillow. Another set of knocks jarred her further.

"Queen Gabrielle, you must wake up."

Gabrielle recognized Seven of Nine's distinct voice, and she softly groaned because she was awake before the sun. She sighed and rolled out of bed in only her nightshift. She opened the door and weakly glowered at the tall automaton in front of her.

"What is it?"

Seven was hardly deterred by the queen's attitude. "A Roman scout has been captured by three Amazons on patrol."

Gabrielle sharply came to life. "When? Just now? Where are they?"

"Shortly ago," Seven answered, "The Amazons are bringing him to the city."

Gabrielle bolted to the washroom and hastily changed into her regular attire. "Seven, can you find Cyane and Kaylee for me?"

"The stratègos is already awake and will meet you downstairs. I will retrieve Queen Cyane." Seven took a step out of the room until the queen's voice halted her.

"You and Queen Cyane join us at the gate," Gabrielle called.

"Very well." Seven left the room and closed the door.

Gabrielle rammed her feet into her boots and hastily tied the laces. She hooked her sword into place and hid her sheathed dagger in her boot. She swung on her wool duster and grabbed the staff by the door on her way out of the room. Gabrielle raced downstairs and Kaylee accompanied her. Once at the gates, they impatiently waited for patrol to return with the captured Roman scout.

Queen Cyane arrived with Seven of Nine at her side. She already knew who was on patrol tonight, which included several of her Amazons.

"Here they come!" A hoplite on the wall pointed in the direction of the approaching party.

Three Amazons approached with a Roman legionnaire in front of them. Two Amazons had their swords drawn while the third came up from behind with a horse in tow. The Roman scout slowed as he saw the one open gate, but a sword tip into his back made him stumble forward.

"Keep going, Roman dog," an Amazon barked at him.

Gabrielle recognized Solari's voice, but she was unsure of the other two Amazons. They were most likely from Cyane's Nation. Like the others, she made room as the Roman scout was brought into the city.

Everybody encircled the captured legionnaire. However, Solari kept her sword on the Roman and warily eyed him.

"We found him just north of here over the ridge," Merta explained to the group.

The Thrace Amazon, Sarai, handed the Roman's horse to a nearby hoplite. She traded her bow to her other hand now that it was free. "He was forging a creek with his horse."

Queen Gabrielle approached the Roman legionnaire, and she saw Cyane come to the legionnaire's left side. "I pray you tell us what you know without us having to force it out of you." She remembered Xena's lessons about fear and when to use it.

Cyane's blue eyes briefly flickered to Gabrielle then back to the legionnaire. She was uncertain about the legionnaire's easy capture. She focused on the legionnaire, who was shorter than her but bulkier in his uniform. His brown eyes followed Queen Gabrielle.

"Rome does not kneel to barbarians," the legionnaire stated. He slotted his eyes at Queen Gabrielle. "Especially when they are led by women with beards between their legs." Before he could add further insult, he had a strong hand around his throat. He latched onto the wrist, but his legs filled with a strange pain that brought him to his knees. He gazed up into fiery blue eyes.

"I believe you do kneel before us," Queen Cyane smartly proclaimed. She tightened her grip on the legionnaire's throat. "If we can make one legionnaire kneel then we will make them all kneel."

Gabrielle studied how the legionnaire seemed weaker than he should be for a trained soldier. She peered up at Queen Cyane and recalled last night's conversation about spiritual powers. She wondered if Cyane was exhibiting them now.

"Ephiny," Gabrielle ordered, "Solari, can you both escort our guest to Nikostratos. I am sure he has comfortable accommodations."

Ephiny stepped out of the circle of onlookers and went to Solari's side. She and Solari exchanged a curious glance before they approached the kneeling legionnaire.

Cyane jerked her hand free and stepped back from the legionnaire. She sensed Queen Gabrielle at her side. She watched Ephiny and Solari escort their prisoner then she turned to Gabrielle. "Let Nikostratos interrogate him first."

"And then?" Gabrielle prompted.

"Yakut and myself will… learn the rest," Cyane promised. She folded her arms and wished to say more to Gabrielle about the legionnaire's capture. She withheld her words though because there were too many onlookers.

Kaylee joined the queens and suggested, "We should increase patrol, especially now that your nation is here."

Gabrielle nodded.

"The legion is not far," Cyane agreed. She frowned and looked between Gabrielle and Kaylee. "Do you expect your army here in the next day?"

Gabrielle sighed and peered up at Kaylee. "Let's hope it's today."

"We can send out a party to locate the army," the stratègos offered.

Gabrielle shook her head. "We need all hands here, but I do want to increase the patrol." She turned to Cyane. "If you do not mind." Most of the patrol would be made up of Thrace Amazons and hoplites.

"Not at all." Cyane then decided on breakfast first. She followed Gabrielle and Kaylee to Cyrene's taverna. She had yet to meet the Conqueror's mother, who was very welcoming to Cyane. For Cyane, it gave her more insight to Xena's previous life and childhood, especially with Gabrielle at her side. Cyane was convinced she had made the right decision to unify her nation with the Conqueror's nation.

As breakfast went on, the three Amazons spoke about the legion and Amphipolis. Cyane learned what the initial plans were for the war. She agreed that the Romans would blockade the city once they were able to surround it. Their best option, before the siege, was to readily attack the legion and breakdown their moral. Cyane's main concern was Classis Alexandrina, who could supply the legion. The siege then would go on for months upon months until one side lost will power.

As the Amazon leaders continued to discuss the war and siege, word spread about the legionnaire's capture. It was no secret that the legionnaire was held prisoner in a jail on the west side of the city, close to the hoplite barracks. The legionnaire was kept under guard by a hoplite, as assigned by Nikostratos. By late morning, a female hoplite arrived at the small jailhouse, and she kept her eyes trained on the hoplite at the locked door.

"I was sent by Commander Nikostratos," Cameron Philip stated once she was in earshot of the hoplite. "You are relieved of your duty."

The hoplite curiously eyed the female hoplite, who was from Pella. He had heard about her arrival several days ago. "I have another candlemark left."

Cameron stood in front of the hoplite. "Now you do not." She tilted her head. "I would rather not myself. However, I promised Commander Nikostratos that I would assist in any way."

The hoplite shifted on his feet. He considered the order because it was unusual. Yet, it was impossible for the prisoner to get out since the key was retained by Nikostratos. After a moment, he nodded and stepped away from the heavy, locked door.

Cameron watched him go then her eyes went to the locked door. She weighed the lock's strength against her own, but she was not here to free him. Instead, Cameron approached the door and put her back to it. Her face remained near the barred, open window.

"The legatus legionis sent me," the legionnaire quietly informed from his position on the other side of the door.

Cameron kept her attention straight ahead as she listened to the legionnaire.

"It has been decided that the legatus legionis will offer a trade to Queen Gabrielle," the legionnaire explained.

"What trade?" Cameron demanded.

"If she hands herself over then the legatus legionis will free her slave owner."

Cameron had a thin frown at this news. The Cornelio family was strong leverage over Queen Gabrielle.

"The legatus legionis wishes for you to kill Queen Cyane, not capture Queen Gabrielle as originally intended." The legionnaire leaned in closer to the window. "The reports are showing that Queen Cyane will be formidable in battle. Even with Queen Gabrielle's capture, the legatus legionis is concerned Queen Cyane will continue to battle us."

"Why?" Cameron countered.

"Queen Cyane's family has a long history of battling Romans," the legionnaire revealed. "Battle lust and revenge run deep in her veins."

"And what of the automaton?" Cameron countered.

The legionnaire grinned and softly replied, "It would behoove you to kill her first. She will protect Queen Gabrielle after all."

Cameron slotted her eyes.

"You must not fail the legatus legionis." The legionnaire brought his lips close to the bar. "Or you will return to the games where Caesar found you."

Cameron was breathing hard from a rise of anger. She stepped away from the door and put distance between herself and the legionnaire. She placed her hand against the kopis's hilt and refrained from gripping it too tightly unless she wished to damage it. There were far too many memories and honor tied to the blade.

For a moment, she remembered her days before Rome. She remembered the face that had been her salvation. She deeply missed him, her father. At one time, his name made Greeks tremble in respect. After his assassination, Cameron joined her brother in battle and expanded beyond Greek borders to lands so far. However, those days were gone and only remembered by bards' stories. The glory that once was Greece was forgotten, until the Conqueror gave Greece life again. How Cameron loathed the Conqueror's skills and diplomacy that rivaled her brother's abilities. It was only a matter of time before the Conqueror fell to the Roman Republic, especially to Gaius Julius Caesar.

And Queen Gabrielle was the key to the Conqueror's final fall from grace.

To be continued.