These characters, Xena, Gabrielle, Toris, Lilla, Solan and Cyrene, do not belong to me. They belong to MCA, Universal and Renaissance Pictures. The story, however, is mine alone. Please refrain from plagiarizing.
I have not received, nor will I be receiving any financial gain from the writing of this story. No plagiarism is intended on my part.
This is my first attempt at writing fan fiction. It was a cathartic experience for me to express my feelings in this way. I hope you are not disappointed.
WARNING: This story contains a scene of sexual violence and may be traumatizing to some sensitive readers.
RATING: (Alternative fan fiction. Rated NC17) There are explicit scenes of passionate love between two consenting adult women that I, deeply, enjoyed writing and I hope you enjoy reading. However, if you are under age or if material of this type is illegal in your neck of the woods, THEN .................... SCAT.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, thanks, Lena
"You have your instructions. Do not fail me." The god of war's voice boomed against the huge stone walls of the Halls of War.
"Ares, you waste your time on that woman. She's washed up. You need a man to lead your armies. To be your chosen." The leader stood before the god of war head held high full of false bravado.
"And I suppose you are just the man for the job." Ares grinned.
"Yes, I am. Let me prove myself to you, war god. Let me show you what a real leader of men can do."
"Alright. You show me that you can follow orders. You show me that you can subdue the Warrior Princess and deliver my little gift as I have instructed you. Then, if you are still alive, we'll talk." Ares returned to his thrown, lowering himself gracefully, a look of amusement on his chiseled features.
"Her mother runs an Inn and tavern in Amphipolis. I suggest you start looking there. Now, run along and do not disappoint me." Ares dismissed the four soldiers and there proud leader with a wave of his hand.
"How come Toris and I have to work and sweat in the fields while you and Lilla get to stay in our nice comfy farm house?"
"Because you're bigger and stronger and, let's face it, Xena, you can't cook. Besides, Lycea is only four years old and needs Lilla. Unless, of course, you want to babysit your niece, do the wash for the five of us, cook and clean, ride the candle mark into Amphipolis to do the marketing....."
"Ok, Ok, I get the point. Geesh! Come on Toris that irrigation ditch won't dig itself."
Toris kissed his wife and daughter then hugged his sister-in-law goodbye.
"Hey, keep your hands off my wife." Xena playfully shoved her older brother out the door and into the hot summer sun.
"Lilla, if you don't mind, I think I'd like to write in my journal for a candle mark. I haven't had the time to since Xena and I moved here and I have fallen way behind."
"Sure, Gabby, I have a lot of sewing to do. This little daughter of ours is growing faster than I can let out her clothes. If she keeps this up she'll be as tall as Toris."
"Xena's no shrimp either. It stands to reason, Lycea will be a big girl."
Gabrielle gathered up her ink and parchment and curled up on the wide window sill to work on her diary.
Xena and I have settled into her uncle Cyrus' farmhouse with her brother, Toris, and my sister, Lilla. They've been married for five winters now and have a beautiful daughter, Lycea, who is a miniature of her aunt Xena. When Cyrene offered us her late brother's farm I didn't think Xena would even consider settling down, but I was pleasantly surprised when she decided to give it a shot. After all, Lilla and I were raised on a working farm and there's not much we don't know about this life, but the road is all Xena's known since she was fifteen. Farming's not easy but, working together, we are managing to make a go of it. Lilla and I for once are the brains behind Xena and Toris' brawn. It's been quite an adjustment.
Looking out the window of our new home, I watch Xena digging the drainage ditch that will bring fresh water from the stream to the fields and our well. Her muscles ripple with the strain and sweat slides off of her tanned skin, shining in the early morning sun. Even after all these years the sight of her excites me. She is magnificent. Her silky black hair is peppered now with gray just around her temples, which adds a deeper dimension to her beauty.
I was afraid Xena would get restless for the excitement and the challenges of life on the road, but forming the Amphipolis militia, running our farm, and chasing after Lycea seems to be enough challenge for her.
She trains the villagers in use of weapons and defensive tactics so they can defend their homes, and ours. I like to watch. Patience is not one of my Consort's virtues, and to see her biting her tongue while clueless villagers trip over each other playing soldier, is more entertaining than any of the plays I've seen in Athens. The amazing thing is she enjoys it. She is making a vital contribution to Amphipolis and it is appreciated. Our neighbors respect her now, instead of fear her.
Lycea, that four year old tyrant, has my warrior wrapped around her little finger. Every evening after supper, I watch her little replica crawl into that welcoming lap to snuggle. I've seen the unshed tears in my partner's eyes and I know she is thinking of her own child, so long dead. Solan would be a man now of twenty winters. It's hard to believe so much time has passed.
She is restful now. I am so grateful to whatever gods gave us this time. No more nightmares, no more murderess warlords and Xena wannabes to face, to fight, perhaps to kill.
I know there are times she misses the freedom and solitude of traveling. But, when those moods come over her, she just takes off on her beloved mare for a few candle marks until she gets it out of her system.
Argo is gettting on. Xena sees to her comfort and is careful not to push her too hard. I don't know which of us is getting fatter, me or Xe's horse. She obviously enjoys our retirement.
Gotta go, for now, I have two hungry field hands to feed.....
"Lilla, I'm going to take Xena's lunch out to her and have a little picnic down by the stream, in the shade. I'll try not to be too long. Then I'll take Argo into town and do the marketing.....Um.....do you think you could keep your family busy for, say, a candle mark?"
"Go ahead, Gabby, I saw you watching your Consort through the window. You are just incorrigible. You two never tire of each other, do you?"
"Never have and never will, Sis. I can't help it if she gets sexier every year. I'm only human, after all." Gabrielle stated as she gathered enough food and wine for their picnic, and a couple of towels, just in case.
"Get going, already. It's going to take an hour to ride into the market, an hour to shop, an hour to gossip with Cyrene and another hour's ride back. You know Xena has a fit if you are out alone after dark." Lilla pushed her sister out of the door.
"Oooh, this was a wonderful idea, Gabrielle. A delicious meal, a jug of wine, a refreshing bath, a beautiful bard to scrub my back..... Life just doesn't get any sweeter." Xena pulled Gabrielle's slippery wet body to her own. In the water their breasts gently touched, the hardened nipples rubbing and exciting the women's ardor. Xena leaned down to gently kiss her lover. Their spirits soared as the kiss deepened, trembling hands went to tenderly caress aroused flesh, thighs rose against swollen sex, and the dance of love began.
Aaaah, my meal and my wife were delicious. This could become a part of our regular routine.....
G. (Smiling and wiggling her eyebrows suggestively.)
"It's done. We should have fresh water for ourselves and our crops, in spite of the weather. See here? This lever releases the water straight into the cooking area. No more having to cart water from the well into the house. We've buried it deep enough that the water shouldn't freeze in the winter." Xena explained proudly.
"That is amazing. It's just like in Rome. Just no fancy tiles."
"Or Roman soldiers trying to kill us." Xena smirked.
"Yea, let's not go there." Gabrielle squinched up her face in distaste.
"This calls for a celebration. What do you two say to joining Lilla and I for dinner at Mom's and, maybe, Gabrielle will regale us with one of her stories." Toris piped in.
"Sounds like a plan. Just give me a chance to wash up."
Xena leaned back in her chair at the rear of the tavern, watching the patrons enjoy her partner's bardic gifts and drinking her ale as Toris drunkenly boasted of how he came up with the idea for the irrigation system using their stream based upon the aqueducts of Rome. The fact that he had never been to Rome or seen an aqueduct in his life, slipped his mind, as well as, who he was telling the story to. Xena just rolled her eyes and tried to ignore his bragging. She was feeling mellow and very content at the moment and was determined not to let anything ruin her celebration.
The Tavern door opened, letting in the crisp evening air and 5 ruff looking strangers, covered with the dirt and grime of the road. They all looked around the tavern til their eyes fell upon the Warrior Princess and little Lycea sound asleep in her lap. Xena thought at first that they knew her and braced herself for trouble, but they simply walked on to a table and proceeded to enjoy a hot meal and a considerable amount of port. She kept an eye on the strangers til Gabrielle completed her last story of the night and collected her tips.
After hugging Cyrene and helping Lilla collect Toris and a sleeping Lycea, Xena and Gabrielle made there way home to the farm and gratefully fell into the arms of Morpheus.
The morning broke clear and warm. Xena had arisen before the sunrise, as was her habit. She stood in the doorway of the room she shared with Gabrielle and watched her beloved sleep. Admiring the slight rise and fall of her breasts and the little smile on her sweet moist lips, Xena felt the familiar warmth at her center and debated if she should wake her love with tender kisses.
Alas, her morning bliss was not to be, as fate would have it, Lycea came stomping up to her aunt, lower lip poking out and a familiar scowl upon her lovely face. "What are you doing up, little one?" Xena asked as she bent down to scoop her niece up into her strong arms.
"I'm hungry! Daddy is sick and Mommy is holding his head over the wash basin. They said you'd feed me." Xena couldn't help but smirk at her overindulgent brother's plight.
"How's about we go down to the stream for a picnic and a swim?" Xena used this ploy more than once to get Lycea well scrubbed. She was amazed at the amount of dirt the child attracted and in how many places it hid.
After filling a basket with bread, cheese, and preserves, Xena grabbed some rags, soap and a clean change of clothes for Lycea and herself and left a note for Gabrielle as to where they were headed, although she felt sure they would return before her bard rejoined the living. 'That woman sure loves to sleep.' Xena placed the bath stuff in the basket with breakfast, scooped Lycea up into her arms and off they went.
Walking down the long path through the forest to the stream, Xena sang a song she had made up for Lycea, who joined in with her sweet breathy little voice. They held hands, Xena lifting her over the ruff spots on the way, and both smiled and giggled, enjoying this special moment.
After enjoying their meal, most of which Lycea wore on her face, hands and clothing, Xena discarded the child's soiled garments and her own nightshirt and raced Lycea into the cool, clear water for a thorough bath.
Lycea allowed her aunt to bathe her with the agreement that she could "help" bathe her aunt.
It took some time for Xena to wash all of the soap from her hair, ears and eyes. Her eyes burned like Tartarus and, for a moment or two, the ex-warlord wondered if she would ever see clearly again. Lycea splashed onto shore to escape the wrath of her favorite playmate as Xena rinsed her head vigorously with the mercifully cleansing water. THAT'S WHEN IT HAPPENED. Her life would never be the same.
Lifting her head from the water she heard the child's frightened cries and froze. On the shore were the five suspicious characters from her mother's inn last night. One had a tight hold on Lycea and a dagger in his hand held out from his body so that Xena could easily see the threat from where she stood. The others busied themselves tying the child's hands and feet and gagging her mouth to squelch her screams.
Xena shook with the effort to control her rage, not wanting to do anything to endanger her precious little niece, while weighing her options.
"What do you want?" Xena hoped to give it to them if they released Lycea.
"We want you, Xena." The foul looking man holding the child stated and chuckled. "You see, we are soldiers who come bearing a gift for you from our sovereign."
Xena sneered, "what are you talking about?" She ever so slowly inched her naked body out of the water toward this threat to her family. All five men looked on with admiration at the impressive feline body of the prior Destroyer of Nations. She could see the effect she was having on them and hoped she could use their distraction to her advantage.
"Ah,ah,ah, Warrior Princess, stay right where you are. We will kill the child, make no mistake, if you do not give us your full cooperation."
"And if I do cooperate, will you let her go unharmed?" Xena asked.
"Yes, we will release the child unharmed, where we stand." The leader proclaimed.
"And, why should I believe a band of cut-throat, low-lifes like you? You know, if you harm her, I will kill each of you, slowly and very painfully. I have many skills in the glorious art of torture. But if you know who I am then you already know what you can expect of me." Xena growled.
"No, Xena, you will do nothing. The child will be set free after you have accepted the gift from the God of War."
Xena flinched at the mention of her nemesis, and sometime ally. "Ares" the name dripped venom from her lips. "What does he want from me after all these years. He knows I will never go back to him."
"Yes, he knows. But, he says, if he can't have you, then he will have a part of you to lead his army and be his legacy." The leader recited his master's words.
Xena looked on with confusion. Her mind raced. 'What can he mean? Does he want Lycea to lead his army? She's only an innocent child.' She looked at her terrified niece in wonder.
"No, Xena, Ares doesn't want THIS child." Their filthy leader responded, following her gaze.
"What do you mean, Ares doesn't want THIS child?" Xena looked on with suspicion.
The soldier of Ares laughed heartily as his comrades circled the Warrior Princess, pushing her back up against a tree and shackling her arms and ankles around the sturdy trunk. The bark was rough against her bare skin.
As one of the foul creatures rubbed the front of his trousers, Xena's body went rigid. 'Oh Gabrielle, there's nothing I can do to stop this.' She looked at the soldier who still held her niece and in a barely audible plea, asked that the child be blindfolded. "You said the child would not be harmed if I cooperated with you. Please, ..she mustn't see this." To her great relief, her request was granted.
Xena stared down the soldiers approaching her, unwilling to yield her will to such filth, as one by one they took their pleasure. Their leader approached with obvious pride. She met his gaze with an equal sneer of her own and felt the sharp pain in her left cheek and eye socket before she even saw the blow coming.
"I want to hear you Xena, I want to hear you cry out for mercy." He spat the words at her.
Another vicious blow and blood trickled down from her busted lip.
"I want to hear Ares' Chosen whimper in fear." Xena just glared at him with a look of disgust.
Another strike to her head and more blood joined that already flowing from a cut above her right eye.
Xena's legs gave out as she began to slide down the bark of the tree, leaving bloody scrapes down her back.
"Oh no, Princess, we aren't done quite yet. I still have to give you Ares' gift." He said, reaching behind him for something.
Xena tried to glare at the foul smelling man, but her grasp on consciousness was slipping. Then she saw a glint of sunlight reflect off something in his hand and felt an agonizing, tearing pain. A triumphant "whoop" came from her assailant as darkness overcame her.
Gabrielle awoke with a start. 'What was that?' Something awakened her. She arose and padded out to the common living area to see if Xena had called to her. But no one was there. Looking out the window she realized that the sun was too high and she had missed breakfast and Xena was probably irritated with her. Turning to go to their room to dress for the day, Gabrielle noticed the note Xena had attached to the door. It read:
"Good morning, sleepy head. I am taking Lycea to the stream for a picnic and much needed scrubbing. Toris is worshiping at the porcelain altar this morning in payment for his over indulgence last eve and I have taken pity upon him. It is not quite sun up, we should be no more than 2 candle marks. I enjoyed last night very much and apologize for my lack of romantic vigor. I do hope you will let me make that up to you, several times, tonight."
"I love you. Xena"
Gabrielle smiled at the prospect of a "romantic" evening with her warrior and quickly dressed so she could join her and Lycea for a bit of fun in the sun.
Lilla caught Gabrielle's attention as she was about to walk out the door, "Good morning, where are you heading with that big grin on your face?"
"To join Xena and Lycea down by the stream. Want to join me? Um ..Where's Toris?" Gabrielle inquired with an evil glint in her eye.
"Toris is asleep, finally, after hurling everything he ate or drank last night into our wash basin. Men! Why do they always have to prove how strong they are by how drunk they can get?"
Seeing her sister was anxious to leave, Lilla grabbed her bath necessities and ran out the door close behind Gabrielle.
They gossiped and giggled over Toris' escapades the night before like a couple of schoolgirls. Thoroughly enjoying each other.
As the women approached the clearing by the stream, Gabrielle froze. Something was very wrong. She could make out Xena's apparently naked body sitting up against a tree at an unnatural angle. There was dead silence, highly unusual with Lycea around. And, where was Lycea? Gabrielle grabbed her sister's arm with one hand and covered her mouth with the other as she pulled her into the bushes, making shushing noises in her ear.
"Something's not right. Be very quiet. I'm going to check this out." Gabrielle whispered to Lilla.
Gabrielle stealthily passed through the underbrush, closing in on the scene before her. There didn't appear to be anyone else around. But, Xena had taught her well and she was taking no chances on being caught unawares by bandits, especially without her staff.
As her view of the clearing improved she saw Lycea, hands and ankles tied, she was gagged and blindfolded. Gabrielle's heart was pounding in her chest as she tried not to panic. Carefully approaching the child she heaved a sigh of relief when she saw the rise and fall of her little chest as she slept.
Gabrielle called to Lilla as she unbound her niece and gently checked her for injuries. Finding none, she handed the child to her sister and turned her attention toward her soulmate.
From where she stood, she couldn't see how badly Xena was injured. As she quickly ran to her lover, the blood, bruises and dirt that covered her still body assaulted Gabrielle's senses and she staggered falling to the ground at her beloved's side.
"By the gods, Xena. What have they done to you?" Gabrielle felt Xena's neck for a pulse. Not sure of what she felt, she lowered her ear to her lover's chest and listened, trying to quiet her own galloping heart. She heard a thready, irregular heart beat. But, Xena was alive.
"Lilla, take Lycea, wake Toris and send him for the healer and Cyrene. Then hook up the wagon to Argo, throw some blankets in it and come help me get her back to the house."
Lilla just stood there staring at her friend's still body and holding her whimpering daughter to her breast.
"LILLA, did you hear me?"
Lilla shook her head in affirmation.
"Then do it. NOW!!!" Gabrielle shouted in exasperation.
Lilla looked at her sister, turned and ran, with her child in her arms, as fast as she could.
"Stay calm, Gabrielle, and think..... THINK!!!.....You have to focus. What does she need most?..... Gods, I can't lose you, not now. Not when we have finally made a home for ourselves. I won't let you die."
"Xena, wake up. Come on, love, wake up." Gabrielle gently beckoned as she patted Xena's unbruised cheek. "There is so much blood and dirt and ....."semen". Awww gods, no! No, no, no, NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!" Gabrielle shook her head and sobbed, hugging herself as she rocked back and forth seeking comfort in the motion.
"OH, ZEUS!!!!! How could you let this happen to her?" Gabrielle wailed at the sky.
"Ok, deal with that later. Right now, you've got to help her. How can I help her? I have to stop the bleeding but there is so much grime, I can't see where all her wounds are. If I can just pull her to the shallow water, then I can wash her and find out where all this blood is coming from."
Grabbing her bath rag and soap, Gabrielle proceeded to carefully drag her unconscious lover to the stream, leaving a trail of blood. Resting Xena's head on her shoulder, the little Amazon gently soaped her hair and her body, removing the blood and grime and uncovering a cut over her left eye, left cheekbone, upper and lower lips on the same side, and a deep gash to the back of her head that was bleeding freely. Bruises were springing out all over her body, especially her breasts, neck, abdomen and upper thighs. There were superficial scratches to her back, buttocks and shoulders that were seeping. Gabrielle carefully cleaned them all.
"Now comes the hard part." Gabrielle said out loud as she wiped the soapy rag, gingerly, between Xena's legs, cooing to her love, expecting at least a whimper of agony. But, none came. Lifting the rag from the water to soap it up again, Gabrielle looked on in horror at the amount of blood and thick white semen the rag had collected. Turning away, so as not to soil her lover, Gabrielle retched until there was nothing left in her belly but emptiness and profound grief.
Collecting her resolve, Gabrielle pulled Xena's body to shore and, finding her bath rag, began making a pressure bandage to staunch the bleeding from her head wound. Not sure how to stop the flow of blood from her lover's battered sex, she decided to pack her vagina with the rinsed out wash rag she had used to bathe her.
"Xena, you're the healer in this family. If you would only wake up, you could tell me what to do. Come on, love. Please, wake up."
Gabrielle pulled Xena's night shift over her shoulders to cover her nakedness and provide some warmth. Gabrielle pulled her head and shoulders into her lap, praying that Lilla would return soon with the wagon to transport her precious cargo home to safety.
Rolling Xena onto a blanket, Gabrielle and Lilla were able to hoist her onto the back of the wagon like a sack of potatoes. It was none to gentle, but it worked. Quickly, Gabrielle wrapped her shivering lover in the warm blankets. She spent the short ride back to their farm rubbing her extremities vigorously and cooing in her ear. "You're safe, love. I'm here. You are safe, now. Lycea is safe. Come back to me, Xena. Please, wake up. I need you. I love you, my warrior." Gabrielle lay at Xena's side and held her til Toris returned.
It wasn't long before Toris and Cyrene arrived with the healer/midwife, Alena, in tow. Quickly, he approached the wagon and turned his head away at the pathetic condition of his heroic sister. Blinking back tears from his eyes, he placed a supportive arm around his mother's waist as she swayed as if stricken by a physical blow at the site of her little one.
Collecting himself, Toris gently lifted his frail sister in his arms and carried her inside to her sleep pallet to be examined.
Alena was getting up in her years and resented being dragged out of her comfortable home to tend to an ex-warlord who probably deserved whatever beating she got. 'You know, what goes around comes around.' But, Toris and Cyrene had been insistent and, truth be known, the thought of sharing a mount with the young handsome man, was not at all unappealing. It had been many winters since she had her arms wrapped around such virility. Her husband, the town's healer for 25 winters, was gone now, leaving her to wear both hats of midwife and healer. The demands were sometimes just too much.
The healer asked everyone to leave as she slowly and methodically examined her patient. Xena's pupils were unequal and did not react to exposure to the considerable daylight pouring into the room. Her head wound was very severe. She had seen patients with these symptoms never wake up. But, then again, some did.
It was with shock and horror that she examined the damage to Xena's sex. Removing the rag that had successfully slowed the bleeding, Alena cleaned the area and prepared it for stitching.
It was 2 candle marks, and a very sore back, later that her task of caring for Xena's wounds was completed. She couldn't help feeling some remorse. Even though her opinion of the ex-warlord was heavily colored by rumor and memories of a time long ago, she felt no one deserves what was done to this woman. No matter who she is or what she did in the past.
Alena joined Xena's family in the common area of the farm, with her head and shoulders slumped in exhaustion and sadness.
"Who is the spouse?" The healer asked.
"I guess I am." Gabrielle said, her face a mask of anxiety.
"Gabrielle is the Queen of the Amazons. My daughter is her Consort." Cyrene piped in as she slipped a reassuring arm around her daughter-in-law's shoulders.
"Consort?" Alena responded.
"By Amazon law, Xena is my wife." Gabrielle stated firmly, shoulders squared.
Alena raised an eyebrow at that revelation, but decided it was none of her business.
"Let's sit down. There is much to discuss." Anxiously the family sat around the dining table, Cyrene holding Gabrielle's hand as the younger woman trembled in fear at what the healer had to say.
"Your, uh....., companion has lost a great deal of blood. Whoever treated her wounds likely saved her life." Cyrene nodded toward Gabrielle, squeezing her hand. "She may pull through, but she will have to awaken enough to take fluids to replace what she has lost. I have sewn her wounds, the worse being a long jagged tear in the birth canal. What ever entered her was not flesh. I hate to imagine what it could have been." The healer let out a sigh, her eyes full of compassion making contact with pained green ones. "She must stay quiet to prevent that wound from reopening. If she does start to bleed heavily, come get me."
"I will give you herbs to help prevent infection, fight fever and to relieve her pain. Use a pinch of each in a cup of tea. Add honey to relieve some of the bitterness and mint leaves to settle her stomach. I will leave this salve with you. Apply it to her wounds twice a day. Help her with the chamber pot and bathing. I don't want her walking unnecessarily, and definitely not on her own."
"Now, that head wound is deep. Try to wake her about every 2 candle marks til tomorrow morning. If she cannot be awakened, then I am afraid there is nothing more I can do. The head wound may be too severe."
Gabrielle grimaced at the ominous prognosis. 'I can't lose her. She would never accept defeat. And neither will I.'
Alena's words broke through Gabrielle's ruminations, "Now, the next thing we must be concerned with is the very real possibility of conception." All at the table gasped at this revelation. They were concerned with the immediate life and death struggle of their loved one, never considering the obvious outcome of rape..... a child.
"I will return to check on Xena in a couple of days if she is still with us. I should be able to check her uterus for life in a moon. I do so wish you the best of luck. By the grace of the gods, she may well pull through. Toris I will expect you to fetch me in two days if your sister's heart still beats." Toris nodded.
Alena gave Toris a lascivious look saying, "Well, young man, I am ready to share your mount." Toris dutifully complied.
Gabrielle leaned against the doorway to their room, watching her beloved sleep. She looked so peaceful, almost childlike in her innocent slumber. Gabrielle wiped away her tears and moved to sit on her side of the pallet. Taking Xena's fevered hand in hers, she gently called to her. The healer said she must awaken every two hours and Gabrielle was determined that she would. Gabrielle kissed her lover's hand and ran shaking fingers softly against her brow.
"Xena? Xena, love, wake up. You have to wake up for me...... I love you...... Now, open those beautiful eyes and look at me." There was no response to Gabrielle's pleas.
Cyrene entered their room with the medicinal tea for her ailing daughter. Stopping in the doorway, she didn't want to intrude on this moment. Gabrielle, sensing Cyrene's presence, turned toward her mother-in-law with despair in her eyes.
"She won't awaken for me. It's as if she's not in there anymore. I can't think of what else I can do to help her .. I have to help her." Gabrielle held Xena's hand to her breast, bursting into tears, fell onto Xena's shoulder and cried out her anguish and grief.
Then something occurred to her. Xena had treated many severe head injuries in their time together. Gabrielle recalled always elevating the victim's head. There was something about swelling in the brain that did most of the damage and elevating the head decreased the swelling. Gabrielle immediately placed two more pillows behind Xena then made a cold compress for her head. Xena had long preached the benefits of cold compresses to relieve the swelling of sprains. It couldn't hurt.
In the family room, Lilla questioned her daughter as to what happened at the stream that morning. The bewildered child told her mother that there had been 5 nasty men, one grabbed her while Auntie Xena was rinsing the soap from her eyes. He had a dagger. They mentioned Ares, but she didn't understand what they were talking about. They tied her up and Auntie Xena made them blindfold her.
"Why did she do that, Mommy? Did I do something wrong?" Lycea asked her mother with tears streaming down her little face. Lilla's heart broke at Xena's desire to protect her daughter from watching the horror that was to be her aunt's fate.
"No, my love, you didn't do anything wrong. Auntie Xena had the bad man blindfold you because she loves you very much. Do you understand?" Lycea was confused and just shook her little head .. no.
"Do you remember anything else?" Lilla gently inquired.
"The man holding me kept saying that he had a gift for Auntie Xena from Ares. Who is Ares, Mommy?"
Lilla thought for a moment, "A very bad god, Lycea, a very, very bad god."
Gabrielle awoke with a jerk, having dozed off, her head on Xena's shoulder. Noticing it was still daylight, she figured she hadn't slept more than a candle mark or two. She took Xena's fevered hand in hers and rubbed and kissed it. "Xena, it's time to wake up now, love. Come on. Open your eyes. Please, Xe, I need you. Lycea needs you. You can't give up..... You promised." Gabrielle leaned toward her love, touching her forehead to Xena's fevered brow, cooling it with her tears.
Joining her family, Gabrielle expressed her concern over Xena's increasing temperature. "She needs those herbs. But, how do we get her to take the tea, if she won't wake up?"
A glimmer of an idea came to Cyrene. 'It just might work.'
Gabrielle lifted Xena's shoulders and sat behind her, supporting her lover's limp body. Taking a hollow read, two hands in length, Cyrene sucked up the tea then placed the end of the read deep in the corner of Xena's cheek as she released the tea into her daughter's mouth, Gabrielle rubbed her throat causing her to swallow the medicine she so desperately needed.
It was a long arduous process but, in time, all the medicine was swallowed and Gabrielle resituated her lover on the pallet with her head elevated and a fresh cold compress over her wound.
"Now we wait." Cyrene said with a weak smile for her daughter-in-law. The whole process was repeated every 4 candlemarks over the next 2 days.
Xena remained unresponsive even though her fever was well controlled. The four adult family members took shifts to provide for her care. Rags were placed under the prior Destroyer of Nations to collect her waste and protect the linens. Soapy water was kept boiling outdoors to clean the soiled rags so they could be dried and reused.
Gabrielle insisted that they all speak to Xena as if she could hear them. She hoped it would help Xena regain some awareness. The stress was taking its toll on them all.
"You worthless fool. I send you to do a simple job and you fail me." The God of War bellowed in fury. "You were to plant my seed in my Chosen. That was all I told you to do."
"But, I did that, Master. I swear by your sword. I planted it all deep within her. No one else's but yours did she conceive." Ares' filthy soldier visibly shook in terror at his master's wrath.
"Tell me, oh faithful one," Ares sneared. "what good does her conception do me IF SHE IS DEAD!!!! If she dies, my heir dies with her."
"My Sovereign, the woman still lives."
"You had better pray that she continues to do so. Because, if Xena dies, ..YOU DIE!"
Ares disappeared in a bolt of lightening, leaving his soldier with need of new trousers.
The God of War shook with rage and frustration as he paced the Halls of War. "I had the perfect plan. No direct intervention in Xena's life or harm to her irritating little blond. I kept to my agreement with the family. And, that little nothing of a creature ruins it. If Xena dies, he will wish he was never born. I can't even stop her death." He sighed...... "No direct intervention."
Ares dropped onto his throne. "I'm sorry, Xena." Ares hung his head in his hands, "It's up to you now .. THIS WAS NOT SUPPOSE TO HAPPEN." Ares pounded his fists into the arms of his throne as he yelled out his frustration.
"Aw, damn." The God of War realized he was feeling something he had not felt before. At the prospect of losing his Chosen forever, of never seeing Xena alive again, of not being able to intervene on her behalf, he felt...... remorse.
"Please, Xena, don't die." Ares heard himself say as a single tear escaped his cold black eye.
Gabrielle asked Toris to fetch a bucket of water and warm it over the fire. "I want to bathe her and wash her hair."
"Sure, I'll get that for you." Toris gave her a wan smile. 'I don't know what difference it makes now. She doesn't even know we are here.' Toris kept his thoughts to himself, not wanting to upset his over wrought sister-in-law, as he did what she asked.
Gabrielle carefully removed her lover's sleep shift, not wanting to jar her battered body, sucking her breath in at the sight of the angry looking bruises on her beloved's breasts, abdomen and thighs. "I'm almost glad you're not awake to see what those animals did to you, my love." And, she covered Xena's body with a blanket.
Gabrielle met Toris at the bedroom door, taking the pail of warm water from him, and reminded him to fetch the healer. "She said she wanted to see Xena in two days, if she was still with us, and she is." Gabrielle remarked when Toris shook his head and sighed in frustration. "Now I'd like some privacy. I need to be alone with her for a while."
Toris approached his mother, who was washing more rags for her daughter. "Mother, Gabrielle wants me to fetch the healer for Xena."
"Has there been any change?" Cyrene asked with hope gleaming in her sad eyes.
"No. And I don't see the point in my riding all the way into town for nothing." Toris complained.
"YOUR SISTER IS NOT NOTHING." Cyrene responded in outrage. The older woman took a deep breath, calming herself, she continued, "Toris, you know how strong Xena is. If anyone can survive this, she can. So, don't give up on her. Not just yet."
Toris looked at his mother and, not wanting to staunch that glimmer of hope in her eyes, agreed to fetch Alena.
As he rode away, sure that no one could see, he let the hot tears flow down his cheeks..
Having collected the toiletries she needed, Gabrielle began washing Xena's luxurious, long, black hair. "Xena, remember the times we used to wash each other's hair when we lived on the road. You use to claim one bath was cheaper than two. So we'd bathe together, washing each other's backs and hair until the water turned cold. Oh, how I enjoyed your tentative touches and how red your face would get when I'd catch you staring at my body. By the gods, you were so beautiful. And, I flirted with you unmercifully. Oh yes, I knew you were watching as my towel would, accidentally, slip passed my breast, or I'd bend over a little too far to pick up my clothes. How I loved that game. How I loved you. I still love you, Xena. Don't leave me, please." Gabrielle let her tears mix with the soapy rinse water collecting in a basin she placed under Xena's head.
From head to toe, Gabrielle carefully washed the still body of her soulmate as she recounted all her fondest memories out loud as if Xena were quietly enjoying her ruminations. Gabrielle grimaced at the smell and the grime around Xenas genitalia and was oh so gentle in her ministrations. "I know this has gotta hurt, love, but I have to keep you clean or you'll get an infection." Gabrielle spread the warriors legs wide and raised them at the knee so she could thoroughly bathe her. There was still much swelling, but no more bleeding. Taking the soapy wash rag, she continued to clean along the stitches and apologized when Xena flinched in pain.
"Oh, Xe, I'm so sorry. I'll try not to hurt you .. WAIT. YOU MOVED!!!" Gabrielle lowered Xena's legs a little too abruptly, causing her lover to groan and wince. "Xena, can you hear me?" Gabrielle took Xena's face in her two hands, encouraging her to open her eyes. "Xena, open your eyes. Open your eyes and look at me. DO IT. DO IT NOW!!!" Xena's eyes fluttered open, squinting at the light.
"Quit yelling at me." She said, ever so softly. "Ow, my head hurts like I got kicked by a centaur." Gabrielle burst into joyful tears and fell onto Xena's chest hugging her powerfully.
Xena was confused now. 'Gods, why do I hurt so badly? And, why is Gabrielle trying to drown me in tears? Um .., why am I naked and wet?' She tried to concentrate, but the pounding in her head made that impossible. Her eyes found Gabrielle's but they looked all fuzzy. She tried to sit up .., threw up .., and passed out.
"Well that's not exactly the welcome I had hoped for." Gabrielle moaned as she collected a clean wash rag and started bathing the puke off of herself and her soulmate. Then hurried to find her family to tell them the good news.
"She woke up?" Cyrene screamed with excitement.
"Yea. She woke up and puked all over us. It was wonderful." The elated little bard hugged the older woman.
"Auntie Xe's awake? May I see her, please?" Lycea asked enthusiastically.
"No. Not just yet, sweet thing. Auntie Xena is still very sick and we have to be very quiet around her cause her head hurts a lot." Gabrielle hoped her niece would understand. The four year old stuck out her lower lip. She thought using the "please" word was a sure guarantee she'd get her way.
"I've got to see her." Cyrene stated as she ran into her daughter's bedroom. Xena appeared to be sleeping fitfully, mumbling words that Cyrene and Gabrielle couldn't discern. Cyrene pulled a chair up to the bedside and leaned over to kiss her daughter's forehead. "Sweetheart, it's your Mother. Wake up, little one." As Cyrene gently smoothed Xena's brow, her daughter opened her bleary eyes and smiled.
"Mom, what are you doing here? What happened to me?" the groggy warrior asked as she reached up toward her head and then tentatively toward her sex.
"Sshh, stay calm, little one. We can talk all about that when you're feeling a little better. Lilla is fixing some herb tea for you. It will help with the pain."
Xena tried to concentrate, but she couldn't recall being injured. Noticing the look of confusion on her daughter's face, Cyrene asked, "What's the last thing you remember?"
"I was taking Lycea down to the stream and I, um....., don't remember passed that."
Gabrielle took Xena's hand, taking her attention away from Cyrene, kissing her hand gently, "That's alright, love. It will come back to you. Just rest now. The healer will be here soon to look in on you." Bringing the hollow reed to Xena's lips, she instructed the warrior to sip the medicinal tea and Lilla handed her some warm goat's milk to provide her friend with much needed nourishment.
Too tired and sore to ask any more questions, Xena drank her meal then fell into a fitful slumber.
The family gathered around the dining table awaiting the return of Toris and the healer. "OK, we have a problem. Xena has awakened, but she has no memory of what happened." Gabrielle flatly stated as she took her seat at the table.
"But, isn't it a blessing from the gods that she doesn't remember?" Lilla said with a sad smile on her tired face.
"It would be, except that, when the healer examines her, she's bound to figure out that she was raped and beaten. There is just no other way to incur those injuries." Gabrielle responded.
"Then, one of us has to tell her what happened before the healer sees her. I'll tell her, if you like." Cyrene whispered as a tear slid from the eyes that so reminded Gabrielle of her beloved.
"No, Cyrene, thank you. I think she would take it a little better coming from me. But, she is going to need your support and love more than ever." Gabrielle gave her mother-in-law's hand a gentle squeeze as she squared her shoulders and turned to face the task at hand.
'She looks so frail and helpless, this warrior who has protected me and cared for me for 12 winters. Now, it is I who must protect and care for her. And, I swear to you, I will not fail you, my love.' Gabrielle took Xena's right hand in hers and gently caressed the callused palm. "Xena? Xena, wake up, I need to speak to you."
Xena opened her bleary eyes and tried to focus on the familiar voice calling to her. "Gabrielle?" Her mouth was dry and her tongue felt like it was sticking to the roof of her mouth. "Water?" Gabrielle helped her sip some cool water from the hollow reed, not wanting Xena to try moving just yet.
"Love, I need to talk to you about how you got injured." Gabrielle said, with obvious trepidation in her voice. Xena knew something was terribly wrong by her lover's voice and body language.
"What's wrong, Gabrielle?" Then with obvious alarm, "Was Lycea hurt?"
"No, Xe, Lycea is fine. No one else was hurt."
"You mean I let whoever did this to me get away. I wouldn't do that without good reason."
"Xena, please just listen to me. Please let me finish what I have to say, before you ask anymore questions, OK?"
Xena let out a frustrated breath, "Ok."
"You remember, you were taking Lycea for a picnic and a bath down to the stream."
"Yes, I already told you that" Xena remarked in exasperation.
"Please, sweetheart, don't interrupt me. This is hard enough as it is." Gabrielle kissed a fevered hand. Gabrielle told the whole story, including Lycea's version concerning Ares' gift. She struggled to keep her composure as Xena just lay there staring into empty space as if she had gone far away.
In a hollow voice, Xena stated "So, Lycea heard everything but did not see anything." Gabrielle just nodded her head as Xena fixed her eyes upon her. "Gabrielle, would you leave me alone for a while, please?"
"I don't know that---" Gabrielle began to protest.
"Please." Xena interrupted her protest.
Gabrielle nodded and she wiped at her tears. "OK, call me if you need anything and don't try to get out of that bed."
"I won't" Xena said, in a barely audible voice.
Xena stared off into space, trying to assimilate everything she'd been told. 'Why? Why would Ares do this to me? Why now?' Xena raised the blanket covering her body and studied her injuries with a healer's eye. Reaching down to just above her mound she pressed to feel for internal damage. It was sore and bruised but it would heal. She was aware of sharp pains and a throbbing ache over the entire area of her sex but unable to examine herself, had to wait for the healer to explain the gory details of the myriad of injuries she knew she had suffered there. 'I guess there will be no more romantic evenings for me for a while.' The warrior chuckled to herself.
"How did she take it?" Cyrene asked her daughter-in-law with worry.
"I don't really know, Mom. She just stared out at the ceiling. She asked about Lycea. Then she said she wanted to be alone." Gabrielle broke down in Cyrene's arms as they heard Toris and Alena ride up.
"She's awake? That's wonderful. I gotta see that sister of mine and tell her she's not to scare us like this ever again." Toris exclaimed.
"Toris, wait." Cyrene grabbed her son's arm effectively stopping him in his tracks. "Xena doesn't want to see anyone right now. Gabrielle just told her what happened and she needs some time alone. She only wants to see the healer." With that, Alena braced herself to face the Warrior Princess.
"You must be the healer." Xena said, flatly.
"Yes, my name is Alena and you are a very lucky woman. That blow to your hard head just about sent you to Hades."
"So I here. You want to fill me in on my injuries?"
"I'll fill you in as I examine you." Alena stated, trying to be as clinical as she knew how.
After completing her examination, Alena remained to answer any questions the warrior had. "Frankly, Xena, I don't know what was used to tear you so violently. I do know it was not of flesh and blood and it was too jagged to be a knife. It is, however, healing. You heal very quickly. You have received excellent care from your family and your, um, partner. I have some instructions for you to follow. Don't get out of this bed without assistance. You'll probably have some dizziness when you sit up or move your head for a few more days. I'll come back in a week's time to remove your stitches and I brought some more of the medicinal herbs for you to take until I return. You shouldn't need any after that." The healer turned to go.
"There is an herb used to end early pregnancy. Do you have any?"
Xena asked flatly.
The healer was surprised by Xena's question. "Why would you want that. It will be nearly a moon before we know whether you are or are not pregnant."
"DO YOU HAVE ANY?" Xena began to visibly shake with frustration.
"No. I don't usually have any need for it here. But, I can procure some from Athens. It will take three to four weeks to arrive." Alena tried not to meet Xena's eyes and realized she was afraid of the suffering woman.
"Then do so. I will expect you back here with the herb within a moon's time." The warrior's tone broached no argument.
Alena nodded and rushed out of the warrior's chamber.
"How is she?" Gabrielle asked of the healer.
"We need to talk, privately." Alena took Gabrielle by the elbow and led her out into the sunshine. "Xena has asked me to procure for her an herb that successfully terminates early pregnancies. There is a possibility that she did conceive as a result of her attack. I will do as she requests. That is her right. But, I thought, since she is, for want of a better word, your wife, you have a right to know what she plans to do. The herb will make her very sick and cause a lot of bleeding and cramping. It often can cause violent retching. She should not have a problem surviving the effects if she waits at least a moon to use it. I can make sure it is a moon before she receives it. But, only you and those who love her can help her deal with her actions."
"I understand, and thank you." A dejected Gabrielle shook the healer's hand. "I'll have Toris return you to your home." The healer nodded her head as their sad eyes met in understanding.
As Gabrielle entered the dining area, a loud thud and a string of curses could be heard from the bed chamber she shared with her Consort. Racing through the door with her family at her heels, a terrified Gabrielle screamed, "What are you doing? Your not suppose to get out of bed on your own." as she knelt on the floor next to her ailing partner.
"I had to use the chamber pot. I'd have made it to if it weren't for the damn room spinning." With that the warrior grabbed her throbbing head, moaned, puked and entered the land of Morpheus, yet again.
"Oh, gross!" Toris exclaimed as he ran out of the room to make his own deposit into the water pail.
"I had no idea I raised two children with weak stomachs. Here, I'll help you lift her onto the pallet. Lilla grab her feet." Once the women had successfully tucked Xena in bed, they all pitched in to clean up the vomit from the floor, Xena and, of course, Gabrielle.
"Someone is going to have to stay in here at all times. We just can't trust her." Said Lilla.
"I'm afraid you're right." Agreed Cyrene.
A preoccupied Gabrielle simply nodded. "Will one of you stay with her while I get some air." Gabrielle asked.
"Sure, I'll stay with her. You go and clear your head. Don't worry about a thing." Xena's mother said as she patted the little bard on the shoulder.
"Thanks. I'll be down at the stream if she needs me." Gabrielle lifted her staff from its resting place on the mantle and headed out the door.
Sitting on the shore, letting her feet dangle in the water, she studied her dust covered staff. 'I never thought I'd feel the need for you by my side again.' Gabrielle stood and, planting her bare feet firmly in the sand, began the staff drills she had practiced daily for nearly twelve years before moving to the farm, the farm that had been so tranquil and safe, the farm where her beloved had been brutally beaten and raped. 'If I just hadn't overslept, if Xena had only awakened me to join her this never would have happened. Why didn't she wake me? Because she loves you and she knows how much you love to sleep. This is all my fault. If I wasn't so damned lazy, I'd have been there for her.'
The more Gabrielle berated herself, the more violently she swung her Amazon staff. Suddenly, spinning on her heals, she ran up to the tree where Xena's body had been restrained and viciously struck it over and over as tears flew from her eyes. "My fault, my fault. I shoulda been there. I shoulda been there." Gabrielle repeated her self condemning words over and over with each strike of her staff sending bark and sap flying. She continued until she fell to her knees in emotional and physical exhaustion.
Xena awoke confused and achy. "Gabrielle?" She called out quietly, not wanting to cause the throbbing in her head any aggravation. "Gabrielle?"
"No. Little one, it's Mom." Cyrene responded as she brushed the hair from her daughter's damp forehead. Xena's head cleared and she remembered why she was aching so badly. Settling a neutral expression upon her face, she asked where Gabrielle was.
"She needed to get some air. She took a walk down to the stream." Cyrene responded.
"No! How could you let her go there alone after what happened to me? I've got to find her." Xena arose to sit at the side of the pallet, holding her head and swaying slightly.
"Oh, no you don't. I'm sure Gabrielle is just fine. She took her staff with her." Cyrene held Xena's shoulder, effectively halting her weakened daughter's progress.
"She took her staff? But, why would she..... because she is scared." Xena again tried to rise to her feet, but her mother had her restrained. Cyrene was shocked when her usually stoic daughter began to cry. "Please, Mom, take Toris and go find her. They could come back and do this to her. I couldn't bare it. Please."
Cyrene held Xena's head to her breast and rubbed her distraught child's back. "Sshh, Ok, now calm down. I'll find Toris and go fetch your bard as soon as you lie back. There you go." Cyrene helped her lie down and pulled the blanket over her shivering daughter. Turning to leave the chamber, she said, "We'll bring her back to you, safe and sound, little one. Don't worry." Xena gave her mother a sad smile as she watched her go.
Mother and son froze when they saw Gabrielle lying in a heap on the ground beside the same tree where Xena had been found less than four days before. "Oh no! Oh, my gods, no!" Cyrene yelled as she ran to her daughter-in-law's side. Quickly assessing that the little bard was unharmed and not wanting to frighten the sleeping woman she called her name as she gently touched her shoulder. "Gabrielle? Are you alright, sweetheart?"
The little Amazon Queen raised her puffy, blood shot eyes to her mother-in-law as tears began to fall anew. "It was my fault. It was all my fault."
"What was your fault, Gabrielle?" Cyrene asked, sincerely confused.
"I overslept. If I hadn't been so damned lazy I'd have been there to watch her back. I always watched her back. OH, GODS! It's all my fault."
Cyrene lifted the smaller woman into her lap and comforted her while she cried. "No, child, you have no fault here. And neither does Xena. Those men were evil. If you had been with her, they'd have done the same to you."
"She hates me. She can't even look at me."
"Gabrielle, that's just not true. She asked me to find you and bring you home to her. She is afraid for you being out here. She loves you so much. She's just hurting right now and doesn't know how to deal with it all. Be patient with her. She'll come around." Cyrene lifted Gabrielle's face toward her own and smiled and Gabrielle sniffed and nodded in return.
Toris helped his sister-in-law to her bare feet and then his mother. "Let's go home ladies." He said and motioned for them to precede him.
Gabrielle crawled onto the pallet, trying not to awaken her injured lover. "Gabrielle?"
"I'm here, love. Go back to sleep. I'm here." Never opening her eyes, Xena gave a little satisfied smile and, taking her wife's small hand in hers, slipped into a peaceful sleep.
Continued - Part 2
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