Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction. The characters in this story: Xena, Gabrielle, Eve or Livia (and any mention to characters from the television show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys)are the property of Renaissance Pictures and Universal MCA. This story is not meant to infringe upon their rights or the rights of the actors who portray them. Also, no part of the story entitled Growing up "Livia" is to be copied, whole or in part, without the author's permission. It is not to be copied for public use or for profit by any person or organization.
Growing Up Livia
Written by: Caina Q. Fuller
Shiria had forgotten what freedom tasted like, but now that she was out and away from Rome, the city shed called home since she was ten years old, she began to remember what it felt like to be her own person. Shed been miserable away from her sisters, but she wondered what the homecoming would be like. She wondered if she would recognize her sisters and her tribe now that everyone shed been close to had grown older, and would they recognize her?
Shirias feeling of freedom diminished somewhat as the sound of her escorts wheezing and coughing broke the silence of the morning. Shed been riding with him for over three days as they traveled for Amazon country on her last mission for her mistress-former mistress-Ghita. She had been given a scroll to give to the Amazon Queen, if she could get that close, and this soldier was here to see to it she did as told. Shiria still found herself hoping that as soon as the message was delivered the Queen would send soldiers to slit this pigs throat. Hed done nothing but leer at her since theyd gotten out of Ghitas site, and shed been traveling under a constant fear of rape the entire trip.
Finally their small caravan reached the foothills that led to the Amazon forests and her traveling companion, Cenon, halted their progress. Alright Shiria. This is where you continue in alone. Heres the message.
Shiria took the parchment handed to her but Cenon grabbed her wrist and held it so tightly she began to fear he would bruise her. Is it necessary to hold my wrist that hard?
She tried to keep her tone respectful but the anger still showed through. For a moment she was certain he would strike her, but he reigned in his wrath and let go. It wouldnt do for the messenger to show up with a black eye.
You listen and listen good. Ghita has given you your freedom for this mission. Would you do something as dishonorable as fail her?
Like I owe her so much, Shiria thought. After all, the only thing Ghita ever did for me was enslave me most of my life. Shiria looked to the hills that had been the home of her youth and considered what hed said.
The first thing shed been taught was to be honorable. Her word was to be as precious as diamonds and gold, and since shed made an agreement with Ghita that she would deliver the message, she intended to do just that. However, she would read it once they were out of sight. She almost smiled at the memories of Ghitas sons teaching her to read behind their mothers back. She would use the knowledge theyd taught her, and if the message didnt put her sisters in danger she would deliver. Otherwise she intended to tell the Queen the entire truth.
I will live up to my end of the bargain. For the sake of her sons, she added. Though shed been a slave, they had always been good to her.
Cenon let her go, watching her disappear into the thick shadows and foliage of the forest. If she did indeed live up to her end of the bargain then he would need to put the next phase of the plan in motion: Making Rome look like she was under attack.
Shiria stopped her horse once she found the first warning totem pole that announced the edge of the Amazon land. From what she remembered as a girl there were dozens of guards in the trees at all times to monitor each passage to the Amazon camp. She could feel their eyes all over her, though she could not see them, regardless of how hard she tried. Now that shed read the scroll she decided to give the Queen the message, along with a large dose of truth.
Shiria dismounted, went to the totem pole and bowed respectfully. After this she stepped across a line drawn clearly in animal blood. No sooner had she done so did a warning arrow plant itself in the ground at her feet. She quickly held her hands above her head in the Amazon gesture of surrender, clasping her hands to make a ball. At the sight of this seven warriors came from the trees, their faces hidden by masks.
My name is Shiria, and Im a friend.
One of the guards stepped forward, lifting her mask. She was unusual for an Amazon, with dark auburn hair and beautiful green eyes. She had a gentle look to her eyes that calmed Shirias pounding heart.
Why are you here Shiria?
I have a message for the Queen, and I wanted to come home.
After languishing for three days in the palace dungeon Ghita was beginning to lose her mind. It was one thing to have your lover sentence you to death. It was quite another not knowing when he would carry out the sentence. She found herself praying he would have the courtesy to make it a quick death.
The door to the dungeon entrance clanged open and Ghita ran to the bars of her cell door. Perhaps Augustus had changed his mind and he would simply banish her instead of sentencing her to die. During her hours in the dungeon shed had nightmare after nightmare about the people shed wronged, especially Jara and Shiria. Shed taken for granted her position of power over others, and for the first time she was finding herself in the victims shoes. It wasnt a pleasant place to be and shed give anything to take them off.
Finally her cell door opened but instead of seeing a face she could plead for mercy to, she found the girl whod finally managed to bring her down: Livia. The young warrior entered the cell, wrinkling her nose at the smell of mildew that covered the walls.
What are you doing here Livia?
Livia found a clear spot on the wall and leaned against it. Her face was a mask of sheer arrogance but Ghita was too whipped to feel any indignation. The girl had won so what more could she want?
Youve won. Is that what you want to hear?
Instead of answering she only stared at Ghita, boring a hole through the older woman until Ghita couldnt stand it anymore. When the tension was almost too great between them Livia broke the uneasy silence.
You did lose. Somehow I am not taking as much pleasure in it as I thought I would.
I wouldnt have known that from your face, Ghita thought. She walked up the younger woman, sensing that if she could pick a fight with the girl, then Livia may kill her now, quickly, instead of on a cross in public.
What do you want? Answer me!
I wanted to tell you how youre going to die.
That figures. Ghita felt her shoulders sag as she lost all hope of having her life spared. How?
Crucifixion. Cadmus is going to drive the nails in. You have one week left for your family to settle your affairs, in case you were wondering.
Cadmus that name sounded familiar to her, but Ghita couldnt place it right off. At least not until she remembered Livia ordering him to stop choking her and sending him away the night his wife had died in Livias place.
The husband of that woman. How is the baby?
Livia snorted in disgust. Like you care.
Just tell me child.
I am not a child! Livia screamed, coming up off the wall and advancing on Ghita.
Ghita began to laugh uncontrollably. Of course you are. Youre a spoiled, evil little child. You are exactly who I was twenty years ago Livia. Careful: Youll end up just like me if you dont change.
Livia turned away in disgust. I have half a mind to kill you right now.
And ruin your chances to win that handsome young bucks heart? I dont think so. Hes looking forward to avenging his wifes death by nailing me to a cross. You rob him of that and hell hate you forever.
It was all Livia could do to keep her jaw from falling open. It was as if the woman could read her mind! You think youve got it all figured out, dont you Ghita?
Knowing she had something on the girl, Ghita circled around to face her. You think you know everything Livia, but you dont. Theres one lesson you need to learn or you wont last in the game of life very long: There is always someone watching you. Always. I saw you with Cadmus. I saw that you want to control him. Thats smart considering he would make a very powerful ally and lover on the side. If you can convince him that you care for him and value him, hell fall for you and when he does that hell become a valuable tool in your climb to power.
Livia stood a few inches taller than Ghita, so she leaned over the woman in an attempt to intimidate her and take control of the situation. Unfortunately Ghita was a condemned woman so she wasnt the least bit afraid of her. On top of that her life experience allowed her to get right back in Livias face.
Seeing as you are only 18, you tend to wear your heart on your sleeve. I, however, have been in the game a long time. Theres a lot you could learn from me. Pity you wont get to.
If I spared you, youd just try to kill me again.
Probably, Ghita said. She stared Livia in the eye until the younger woman backed down and headed for the door.
At least youll die telling the truth. And I have learned a few things from you.
Livia didnt bother to turn as she sauntered toward the door to leave. Keep my feelings hidden, never back down and never forget someone is always watching me. Thanks for the free lesson.
Heres another for you Livia: Nothing in life is ever free.
Livia exited the doors. It was the last time she would ever see the woman, for the biggest storm of young Livias life was heading her way and she didnt even see it coming.
Six Days Later
Cadmus rocked his son to sleep as he thought about his beloved wife Jara. This was the ninth sunrise hed seen since shed died but he felt the pain as freshly as he had the moment hed first lost her. He found himself weeping all the time and his son, Doran, was picking up on his feelings. It was no way for him to begin his life, so Cadmus did all he could to hold his feelings in. Sometimes the pain was too much and he wept despite his best efforts. Each time he gave in to the need to cry he felt weaker and held even less hope for a happy future than he did before. Would this torture ever end?
Tomorrow is the day I avenge your mother my son, Cadmus said, looking at his sons peaceful face. The boy had already opened his eyes and Cadmus had seen they were a beautiful blue, just as his mothers had been. As the boy grew older, Cadmus prayed he would see more and more of Jara within him so he could catch a glimpse of her each day.
A knock sounded on the door to his chambers and he got up to open them. Livia stood on the other side, an excited look on her face.
Is it time? He was surprised at the excitement in his voice. For the first time in his life he found he wanted to kill someone. He knew he would relish each scream that ripped from Ghitas evil body as he pounded the nails through her wrists and ankles. Is it time to kill that murdering bitch?
He stepped back to allow Livia entrance into his room but he didnt like the answer she had for him. Livia loved seeing him in a rage like this, and she hoped hed hold onto the fire in the heat of battle. Youre going to have to put that on hold Cadmus.
What? Why? His disappointment was tremendous and it showed painfully clear on his face.
Rome is under attack by the Amazon Nation and Caesar wishes for me to lead the Alpha Legion into battle against the enemy. Cadmus, this could lead to my position as the youngest Champion in Romes history!
Cadmus looked to his son, then back to Livia. But Livia. What about my son?
Remembering what Ghita had said, Livia hid her irritation well. Instead of showing her disbelief that he wasnt as geared up to fight as she was, she only touched his hand instead.
I know you want to avenge her Cadmus, and I promise you will. Right now I need you and Lycus at my side. Ill tell you what. Fight with me this one last time and my first action, as Champion of Rome will be to release you from the military for good. You will be free to raise Doran and Ill give you choice farmland in the eastern provinces. What do you say?
Cadmus considered his son as he paced back and forth. And if I die in battle? What will happen to Doran? Hell have to grow up without knowing either his father or his mother. No child should have to go through that.
Livia thought of how shed had to go through it and felt no pity for the boy, but she didnt come out and say so. Instead she put on a mask of understanding. He will be raised in the palace as Caesars charge. Ive already made he arrangements. And I will nail Ghita to the cross myself Cadmus. I promise you. Ill drive in each spike in Jaras name.
A flash of anger went through Cadmus eyes. You assumed I would be willing to abandon my son to follow you, right?
It was hard, but Livia performed admirably. She put on a face of understanding instead of wrath. I assumed you were my friend. Technically you are still in the military in service to Caesar. I just tried to make leaving your son a little more-
Ok, Livia. I get it. Doran will be taken care of. And Ghita will be punished.
You have my word. Thats if something happens to you Cadmus. Youre one of the finest warriors I know. Ill probably die before you.
Not likely Livia. Ill be right down.
Livia turned to leave and Cadmus held his son close. He had the intense feeling this would be the last time he would ever see his child. He was right.
Shiria had only been home for six days, but she felt as if she had never been away. Shed fallen back into the routine of daily living easily, but being treated with respect and like a person with feelings instead of a mindless slave would take some getting used to, and she wondered if she would have the chance. Queen Vashana was moving the sisters to the Eastern hills where Ghitas note had said the Roman attack would come from.
Every woman with a claim to Amazon heritage, past and present (for some sisters left the Nation for husbands and sons) had returned to this land, which was commonly known as the First Tribe. For it was here, in these forests, that the first Amazons first rose up to become a nation of women independent from male domination. Not since the Tribal Split, caused by rival tensions for power over two hundred years before, had so many Amazons been gathered in the First Tribe. Shiria estimated that in the past six days over six thousand sisters had moved in from surrounding areas, and this didnt even include their Northern sisters which were over ten thousand in number.
Since shed been home Shiria had been busy helping pack the wagons that would carry the children and girls too young and inexperienced to fight back toward the Northern Amazon lands should they lose against the Romans that had been spotted moving in on them. Apparently Ghita had been telling the truth about Caesars plan take over the Amazon forests.
Hello, Shiria said timidly. The woman with the exotic green eyes whod first welcomed her home stopped packing food supplies for the children long enough to look around at Shiria.
Ill bet youre here to ask me my name, she said, and Shiria noted this woman had an uncanny gift for anticipating other peoples actions. She also had a constant smile in her voice, which put Shiria at ease.
Thats right. No offense, but Ive never seen anyone like you before.
The woman finished loading water skins in a wooden crate then sat down to rest. My name is Hanai. It means strange one in our language.
Why did your mother name you that?
Hanai moved over on the crate to allow Shiria room to sit. The day was warming to the point of being hot, even in all the shade of the trees. My mother is dead. Queen Vashanas older sister Cyane, who was Queen before Vashana adopted me. She rescued me from slavery when I was twelve years old, but shes dead now.