Darkness Waits for All
Elissa slept in her mother's tent that night, wanting to stay close, just in case. She lit candles and said prayers to Artemis to protect them. Lysippe watched her and said a prayer of her own. Mother and daughter wrapped their arms around and went to sleep. Elissa soon fell into a dreamscape, which terrified her.
Darkness she couldn't escape surrounded her. Elissa screamed for her mother, except no sound escaped her lips. She saw a woman with dark auburn hair and large blue eyes in Roman garb, leading endless rows of Roman soldiers. It was Livia. She saw flashes of Xena, Gabrielle and Livia followed by Xena killing Artemis. Elissa woke up screaming.
Lysippe grabbed her shivering child who tried to talk, but her teeth were chattering so badly she couldn't speak clearly. She clung to Lysippe so tightly, the queen could barely breathe but that was the least of her worries.
"Please Elissa, tell me what you saw. What has you so upset, daughter?"
She held Elissa away from her so she could see her face and her concern grew. Elissa's eyes had turned white. Lysippe watched the color slowly start to return.
"Lissa, please," the queen begged.
Her mother hadn't called her that since she was a little girl. Taking a deep breath, Elissa again tried to gain control and tell her mother about her dream.
"I saw Xena and Gabrielle with Livia then saw Xena kill Artemis. I don't know what it means, mother. But, I know they are tied to Livia. I fear the rest means only death and sorrow for our tribe, for all Amazons." Her voice was a mere whisper, but it caused Lysippe to shiver.
On the other side of the camp, Gabrielle shivered in Xena's arms. Her teeth chattered, and she couldn't seem to get warm, no matter how close she curled next to her lover. Xena was growing worried about Gabrielle; her dreams seemed to grow increasingly troubled each night. It wasn't like Gabrielle not to share her worries, but she wouldn't talk about her dreams no matter how much Xena asked.
Gabrielle couldn't stop the feeling that the something missing, she had felt for so long, was almost within her grasp. She just didn't know what it was or how to recognize it, but knew it was close, very close. Strangely enough, it felt the same way she did when she carried Hope - a feeling of utter completeness.
"I think we will find Eve."
She smiled up at her lover who pulled her close and wrapped more furs around them both.
"We'll find our daughter together; now go to sleep. We go to war tomorrow. The sooner this is over the sooner we can find her."
Livia shivered in her bed, while she tossed and turned caught in a nightmare. She watched as someone ripped her away from someone's embrace. It left her feeling lost and scared. Her eyes stared as her hands, where blood stained them red. An overwhelming guilt rushed over her.
Augustus Caesar woke filled with concern for his young lover. He intended to take her as his bride upon their return to Rome. He had tired of this isle and its savages. They had them under control, and he intended to leave one of his lieutenants in charge. A knock startled Livia from her nightmare and Augustus from his travel plans.
The captain of his Praetorian guard entered the Roman Emperor's private bedchambers.
"Caesar, our sentries have returned with news of a large group of warriors gathered no more than one league from here."
Before the emperor could respond, Livia jumped from the bed unmindful of her nudity.
"Where are the sentries? Bring them to me immediately."
The captain didn't move or say a word. His eyes drank in Livia's nude body as she paced the room in a fit of temper. She stopped, when she realized the soldier hadn't left to follow her orders.
"What are you waiting for? I gave you a direct order, now move before I remove you permanently," she growled, causing the captain to make a hasty retreat.
Octavius hid his displeasure, until they were alone.
"Put your clothes on, Livia. You will become the Empress of Rome one day, and should learn to act the part, at least when others are present."
The censor in his voice shocked her. Livia kept forgetting that Octavius, now known as Augustus Caesar, was the nephew of the great Julius Caesar, and more than he seemed.
"I'm sorry, my lord. I was angry that anyone would dare raise arms against Caesar."
"I know you better than you think I do. Livia, you want to punish those, daring to raise arms against you."
He dressed and walked out of the room, leaving Livia visibly shaken by his words. Does he know about Ares? Is he going to replace me with another? I cannot allow that to happen. Perhaps, it's time for Caesar to die like his exalted Uncle. There are those better suited to rule that aren't afraid to take what they wanted.
Livia quickly dressed to race after Augustus. She was about to leave the room, when Ares appeared.
He gave her his best smile, while his arm snaked out to pull her body close to his.
"I thought you might want to stay and play?"
She pushed him away angrily.
"Why didn't you tell me about the rebels? I looked a fool in front of Augustus. Now, I have to go and assure him that I'm the only one that can take care of this problem, before he decides he doesn't need me anymore."
Ares' brow rose at her tone, as his eyes darkened in anger. She had never witnessed his temper. The God of War took special measures to show her what he wanted her to see. She was about to experience the full spectrum of a god's wrath. A bolt of red lightning hit her body, pinning her against the wall. Ares advanced on her like a hungry tiger.
"You would do well to remember who taught you how to fight, Livia. I am not your lap dog. If I want you to know something, you will. Learn to live with it; otherwise, I'll leave you to fight your battles alone. You better run along and catch up with your Caesar. See if he'll treat you, any better than his uncle treated his lady love
He released her from his power's grip, and her body slid down the wall. His dark eyes raked over it as if accessing it and finding it lacking.
His anger reverberated in his tone as he said, "I think you should understand your place, Livia. Don't call on me, until you realize it. Your next battle you're on your own, without any help from me. Let's see if you have what it takes to take that throne you 'think' belongs to you."
He disappeared leaving Livia frozen in a moment of real fear. She knew she could lead the Roman Empire to future glory. Doubt started to plague her. What if my accomplishments were due to Ares aid. What will happen without it?
She shook her head to free it from her troublesome thought. Livia straightened her shoulders and marched from the room. I don't need him; I don't need anyone.