There all dead how can this be so? It's like a nightmare the kind you only dream about Bastiaan was cruel and merciless. He killed all of my family now I'm on the run, running through a forest in broad day light and I have no idea where I'm going, I'm just letting my instincts guide me. I survived along with my brother and sister but we are the only survivors of this ruthless massacre of the White family. We were all able to get out of the house because we knew about a secret back entrance out of our great home we have never used it until now. We got out in to the city only to see that out ancient home which was built by our ancestors be set alight by Bastiaan. He pulled his warriors back then he shut the doors and barred them. He fully intended to burn us alive in side our own house just because he couldn't find us in side the house after we fled the room after every one else had died. We had but one choice to run despite being followed by his warriors but we suffered along the way my sister has a deep glancing blow to her stomach which is bleeding heavily and my brother's limping because a dagger was shoved in to his knee.

I can feel the sweat running down my face and the pain in my heart our family has always been so important and so needed and respected. Yet today that has vanished in the blink of an eye. The White family is no more my father and my mother are both dead our extended family are all dead as well. They spared no mercy, we tried to protect the children but they grabbed us and held us down and then killed them in front of us and forced us to watch. Then they started on the older family members after that killing them outright, we only got away because I was able to grab a smoke bomb and smash it in to the floor causing smoke to drift through the air blinding them all and giving us our only opportunity to run away. I feel completely out off my depth as I run through this forest, I have never been outside of my family home. I have always remained in side the walls in the Grand City only my mother ever visited the other werewolf cities but she's gone now. I feel like nothing more than a relic and I cannot put the pain I feel in to words right now.

We have always served the Imperial Council and Horn Hind and my mother was only doing what was right and what was her duty. Yet she was murdered for it along with the rest of my family. I want to cry but I know my pain is nothing compared to my sister's. She has lost her husband and mate. When a werewolf looses their bounded lover it's like loosing a piece of his or her heart and soul. She has had mating urge and strengthened the bond and now her lovers been torn from her. For a werewolf this can cause intense depression and pain for many years and most will never take another lover after loosing the first, I've seen it. I can't imagine the pain ahead of her, only that it won't be nice or pleasant and all I can do is guide her through it and hope for the best. Halirrhothius stopped as he leaned against the nearest tree ignoring the blood as it ran down his hand from a deep gash made by Bastiaan's sword.

He knew that Bastiaan's men were still behind them though they had no idea how far away they would have to keep moving at all costs. He had heard that there was tunnel complex some way from here though it was dangerous. A hydra lived somewhere inside the maze of underground tunnels from an abounded second city which had never been completed. Most werewolf warriors wouldn't use these tunnels and they wouldn't go in to them ether because they valued there lives. He had head rumours that though those fleeing the Grand City were using this maze, though a large number were killed by the hydra lots of them had made it through the tunnel and avoided the monster completely. He turned to his sister who was leaning against the tree opposite holding her side. He could see the blood stains pouring down her torn peplos robes he really needed to dress both her wounds and his brothers. He moved closer to her catching sight of the tears as they ran down her face. "I need to deal with your wound Obelia."

Obelia didn't think as she slapped his larger hand away. "Don't bother Halirrhothius!" Halirrhothius breathed in deeply. "The wound is deep it needs to be dealt with I need to stitch it up." Obelia breathed in painfully watching as Akil sat down opposite her the pain in his face as he pulled the bloody rag away eyeing the wound on his knee which was quite deep and causing him to limp. She had lost her husband and a part of her wished she had not lived to see him be killed in front of her, his head had been severed from his body with an axe. She eyed her eldest brother ignoring the stinging pain as he pulled the torn robe piece free which she had used to stop the bleeding. She couldn't stop herself crying out in pain as he touched the gaping wound which had cut so deep that she could see her own insides. The only reasons she was able to cope with it was because it was a glancing blow and not cutting all the way across her stomach it was only at the edge of her waist. Just like human's werewolves suffered horrible pain when there insides were exposed but they could survive it but only if it was dealt with quickly and only if the wound was small like this one.

She watched as her eldest brother pulled out his herb bag she could only hope that her mother teaching had rubbed off on him. She breathed in painfully her mother was dead and so was her fathers. Gods this was like being in Tartarus though out her whole life she'd never experienced pain like this, she turned to Halirrhothius seeing the plan echoing out from his eyes. "You have a plan don't you?" Halirrhothius nodded as he threaded the thick thread through the needle. "Yes I do, we are going to escape through the abounded city then we are going to Corinth." Obelia tensed in pain as he started stitching. "Why are we going to Corinth?" Akil rolled his eyes looking at his younger sister. "No why are we going to the abounded city? We both know that, that bastard hydra lives there!" Halirrhothius looked up slowly. "Yes and no werewolf warrior in their right mind will follow us through not even Bastiaan." He paused as he carried on stitching. "It's worth the risk." Akil sneered slightly. "Oh yes so worth the risk, you know werewolves get eaten in that place and that hydra is so well fed every week on run always. In fact I've heard that it's become so used to werewolf meat now that it doesn't even bother with eating human's anymore!"

Halirrhothius looked at his thick stitches as he cut the thread seeing his sister wince in pain. "It's a worth risk." He breathed in deeply. "We are going to Corinth because we going to see the Golden Hind." Obelia stood up fully ignoring the pain as she spoke feeling the burning rage in side her stomach. "My husband is dead because of her, I will not go to her side now!" Halirrhothius put the herbs in his mouth chewing on them as he pushed her back gently. He took the thick herb paste out of his mouth then pressed it in to of her stitched wound. "She is our king and our only ally right now Obelia. She didn't kill our mother or your husband that was the Imperial Council you know as well as our do that our mother had a reason for everything she did." Obelia stood up fully taking to take the pain as he put a fresh rag around her wound wrapping it tight. "No there was no reason behind this, this is reckless hate! We should flee, hide in Greece not follow the Golden Hind."

Halirrhothius looked up sharply. "The Imperial Council will hunt us down and we stand out Obelia we all have white hair, even in human form. This is our only chance, we have alley ourselves to our king she will protect us." Akil stood up eyeing him as he re-wrapped his wound. "As much as I hate to say this Obelia, Halirrhothius is right this is our one and only chance to ally ourselves with our king. She will protect us from the Imperial Council if we don't do this we will be hunted to extinction by them. They won't rest until we are all dead. We are now a threat to them, that's why they killed everyone." Obelia put her hand on her wound which was still stinging painfully. "I think your both stupid bastards but that's fine you want to lead us to our deaths then so be it but don't expect me to kneel before the Golden Hind." Halirrhothius turned to her. "You have to kneel to a Horn Hind Obelia, our family has always knelt down to the ruler you know this."

Obelia looked up in disgust. "You may believe that but I never have, I've never even met the Golden Hind why should I bow to her?" Halirrhothius shook his head sadly watching as his brother gave him a knowing look. He knew that his sister was acting this way due to the pain she was going through both emotionally and physically and that she didn't mean what she was saying. Maybe when they got to Corinth she would come around when they were safe at least that was all he could hope for. He breathed in painfully he couldn't change his sisters view and he wouldn't force his ideals on to her that was not his place. He was the oldest brother and his mother's apprentice and he had to now guide what was left of the family to safety, he turned looking up at the sky. "We need to go we don't have much time, Bastiaan won't rest and nether should we." Akil breathed in deeply putting his hand on his sister's shoulder. "Do you know where you're going Halirrhothius?" Halirrhothius turned slightly as he started to walk at a fast pace. "I have an idea." Akil shook his head. "Well I hope to the gods that your idea gets us to safety."


Gabrielle opened her eyes watching as the sun light streamed in through the balcony she breathed in feeling the arm which was wrapped around her waist and the larger body which was up against her own. She looked down seeing that the other woman had put the fur skin over her body after she had taken back her human form. She felt a felt a smile form she could hear the other woman's slow deep rhythmic breathing, she was clearly in a very deep sleep. She moved her hand running over the other woman's in a very gentle motion feeling her shift closer in her sleep. Last night had been very quite they'd just talked and enjoyed each others company before going to bed as they both needed to rest. She had just lain on the bed in werewolf form before falling to sleep. She had, had one of the most restful nights she'd ever had and she now felt so relaxed a part of her didn't even want to move from her position it was just to comfortable.

She wouldn't deny that she was surprised by Xena's reaction to her being intimate to her in werewolf form she had not expected that reaction at all. She had expected the older woman to find it disgusting and to push her away. She had assumed that because she was human that she wouldn't even want cross that boundary. She had been completely wrong though in her assumptions but then she had always been wrong when it came to her assumptions of Xena the other woman always surprised her at every turn. She had come to love that feeling of surprise just because it always made her feel accepted and that mattered to her more than anything. She didn't have to hide or put up any pretense she could always be herself in this woman's presence and that was so liberating. She breathed in deeply though she wouldn't say it openly she knew now that she would die for this woman with out question, what ever she wanted she'd give her if not now, then someday.

She had never craved power but she wouldn't deny that she had always craved love and acceptance and now that she had it again she was starting to truly feel whole once more. It had felt like such a long time since she had experienced this feeling, yet it was so nice to feel it once more. She'd fight to keep this feeling and do what ever it took to keep it, she would not loose it again, once had been enough. She breathed in only to feel a gentle kiss on her shoulders causing her snap out of her thoughts. She felt it again as the other woman's arms wrapping around her naked body. Xena moved kissing the other woman's neck gently before speaking. "Hello." Gabrielle breathed in enjoying the sensation feeling a smile form. "Hi." Xena kissed her neck again enjoying the feel of her body against her own. "Did you sleep well?" Gabrielle breathed in trying to stay focused which was getting harder by the second. "Yes I did, did you?"

Xena felt a naughty smile form as she watched as the other woman turn to face her. "Yes." She moved meeting the other woman's lips enjoying the warm sensation which was filled with a hint of desire. She shifted her whole body so she was on top of the younger woman as she carried on kissing her as she straddled her keeping her in place. Gabrielle closed her eyes easing her hands running them through the other woman's dark hair enjoying the feel oh she could move and get out from under the other woman if she wanted to but why bother? It had been so long since she'd woken up to this kind of affection and love and it was so nice. Xena pulled herself free of the other woman's lips taking in a deep breath as she spoke. "I love you." Gabrielle felt the taller woman's hands move as they locked in to her own. "I love you to." She paused taking in a breath. "Will I get this every morning?" Xena kept her hands on the other woman's she had learnt yesterday that she really didn't like having her wrists touched or held, she would get a very nervous look in her eyes, then eased her hand out off her grip.

She was certain that this was due to Adrienne and her violence towards the younger woman but she wasn't going to push her on the subject. It was very clear to her now that Gabrielle found it very difficult to relive these memories and she could always see a slightly distant look in her eye when she spoke about them. As though she was speaking about them from afar like she didn't want to be a part of those memories despite living them. She couldn't blame her for feeling that way, after all she had suffered and endured memories like these needed so much time to heal and Gabrielle had only really just started to heal. She'd bottled up all this pain for so long and never talked to anyone about it she also knew that though memories faded with time but the bitterness could remain like a foul aftertaste. The kind that stuck in the throat and took a long time to dissipate and the younger woman would need her support as she walked down this long road through her painful memories.

She shook away her thoughts as she turned to meet the other woman's gaze feeling a warm smile form then eased up her hand up slowly running down the scar on her eye before leaning over to kiss it gently. "I'll wake you up every day in this way if you want." Gabrielle felt her smile widen. "I would like that very much." She paused as an over whelming need to make her feelings known took over as she kissed the other woman back making no attempts to hide her passion as she spoke through her kisses. "I'd like that very much." She carried on kissing only for her bliss to be shattered as a knock came as some one hammered on the Empress's inner door. She found herself tensing in annoyance she wanted everyone to just leave her alone. Xena turned to the other woman seeing the annoyance her eyes as she moved her body off hers. "We should let them in." Gabrielle put her hands on her face feeling her teeth grind together as she spoke. "No we shouldn't."

She tensed realizing that today she felt different she couldn't really put her finger on it, all she could say was that she had this tense energy inside her and it felt like it had now where to go. She couldn't shake it or calm it ether like she normally did it was there like a nail in the back of her mind. She put her hand to her face groaning it was almost felt like a headache, though she hadn't felt it until now as her attention had been elsewhere, though she wouldn't deny that she couldn't remember what a headache felt like. She had not experienced one since becoming a werewolf and since she didn't drink she'd never had the ill effects of one, so this feeling was very new to her. It was a painful and nervous feeling, she couldn't control it and it was causing the slight aggression with in her. Xena eased herself over gently kissing her lover on the lips ignoring the knocking as it came again. She'd caught the slight aggression in her lover's voice but put it down to their moment being ruined. "We have all the time in the world Gabrielle, plus we can catch up on this." She met her lips again ensuring that the passion was felt in her kiss. "Later."

She turned slowly to the door as she eased the sheet up to cover her naked body fully. "Come in!" She watched as Ceto walked in a very uncertain look on her face as she spoke. "My apologies for interrupting you both." Xena felt a smile form. "It's no problem Ceto, what's wrong?" Gabrielle breathed in suddenly feeling nervous as she pulled the cover further up her naked body, feeling her desire go cold instantly. She wasn't used to people seeing her this way even in the Grand city people hadn't walked in to her room like this, with the exception of Damokles who she had always allowed in regardless of how well dressed she was. Adrienne on the other hand walked in regardless of her feelings which she'd always loathed. Ceto breathed in deeply. "Demetrius says that he needs to speak to you its urgent, he says he wouldn't bother but you always told him that if this person comes here you want to be told right away." Xena breathed in sharply she knew who Ceto was referring to and that was her order if this person showed up on her door step. "Please bring him in." She looked down as Ceto nodded as she opened the doors behind her letting Demetrius in, she left closing it behind her.

She looked up meeting his gaze watching as his face formed a warm smile before he spoke. "Good morning Empress, Gabrielle." Gabrielle looked away not meeting his gaze trying to hide the embarrassment. Her lover on the other hand didn't seem to be bothered about being seen in bed with someone, she was very calm and relaxed. Xena felt a smile form as she eyed Demetrius. "Morning Demetrius." She didn't mind him being here, he was after all her most trusted friend and she was happy right now for everyone to know that her relationship with the other woman had gone to the next level. She had never been happier in her life for people to know how she felt than she did right now. Demetrius looked up slightly. "I apologise for troubling you but you always said that if Theodore appears at the palace that I'm to tell you regardless of where you are or what you are doing." Gabrielle carried on looking away not wanting to meet his gaze as she spoke quietly. "Who is Theodore?" Xena turned meeting her lovers gaze. "Theodore does all the palace accounts he also insures the safety of the treasury if it weren't for him and the three others who work with him I wouldn't know if there are problems going on inside my palace walls or outside of it."

She took in a deep breath. "It was his quick thinking which led me to the fact that money was being pinched from my coffers all that time ago, he's a brilliant man with a great head for numbers and he can tell when the books have been switched or changed." Demetrius felt his body tense. "Only problem is he's a very difficult man to deal with." Xena shook her head truth was that the man was a pain in the ass and she hated dealing with him but she knew that every six months she had to. "Difficult that's an underestimate he's an annoying bastard I only put up with it because he has a brilliant head for numbers. The only person he gets on with in this whole palace is Chara everyone else he just rubs everyone the wrong way because he thinks we are all stupid since we don't see the world like he does." Demetrius looked up slightly. "Well he's waiting for you in the study and he's not in a good mood." Xena rolled her eyes. "Great." She turned back to Demetrius. "Give me a few moments, I want to get washed and dressed then I'll go and greet him, tell Ceto to bring me my breakfast in the study."

Demetrius nodded calmly. "As you wish Empress." He turned towards the double doors only to stop as a smile formed on his face. "I'll let you get back to what ever it was you were doing." Xena felt her smile widen as she caught the playful tone in his voice she turned seeing that Gabrielle looked both stunned and embarrassed she could see a shade of red appearing in her cheeks as he closed the doors behind him. She turned to the younger woman she clearly wasn't used to people seeing her in bed with the person she loved it very enduring. She moved her hand out running her fingers down her cheek seeing the uncertainty in her eyes. "You shouldn't be embarrassed Gabrielle, you're my consort, people should know that I love you." Gabrielle breathed in deeply slowly regaining her composer. "I've never had people see me under the bed sheets before I'm not used to it." Xena looked at her for a long moment. "I'm sorry it's clear that you need more time to get used to this, I'll try and take things a little slower." Gabrielle breathed in deeply as she sat up ignoring the pain which had come back to her temples along with the tense energy. "I'll let you go you clearly need to visit this man."

Xena leaned against her kissing her head gently. "Frankly I'd rather not." Gabrielle looked down slightly. "But you have to, I understand its part of being a leader in that you have to something's deal with things which you don't like." Xena looked at her for a long moment. "Yes, look once I've dealt with this man I'll do my paper work and catch up, then we can spend time together." Gabrielle felt a slight smile form. "I need to do my own paper work its mounting up and I need to speak to Thaleia as well, we have not spoken in a while." Xena eased herself out of bed walking over to bathroom she could see the other woman's eyes followed her, the slight hint of lust in them. "Then it would seem that we both have some catching up to do." Gabrielle felt a playful smile form as she eyed the other woman's naked back tracing the muscles on her shoulders with her eyes, by Ouroboros waking up to this everyday made life worth living. She almost felt like a giddy teenager once more, who had just found love and that feeling was so good to experience, it had been so long since she'd felt it.

End of part 96


To the guest reviewer who asked the question what is happening with Gabrielle's child, that subject will come to light in the next few chapters.