The following story contains adult themes depicting explicit sexual relations between consenting adult women. If you are under the age of 18 or reading this material is illegal where you live, please do not read further. There is also a fair bit of graphic violence so please consider yourself forewarned. The author accepts no legal responsibility for non-compliance with this warning.
The characters of Xena and Gabrielle et al are copyrighted to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. They are used here without intent to profit from or infringe upon said copyrighted material. The stories themselves and sundry characters within are exclusively copyrighted to the author and may not be reprinted without express written permission.
This story is considered to be a loose sequel to Down To The Darkness and as such, some of the events that took place in that story are alluded to here. Although it is not necessary to read Down To The Darkness, it wouldn't hurt ya.
Nestra was running, running hard. "Running hard towards what used to be." A line from a poem crazily echoed in her mind. Her lungs burned hotly and her legs felt as if they were mired in quicksand. Sweat poured from her forehead and her ebony skin glistened in the moonlight. Her jet black braids were drenched and smacked against her back as she ran. Her cinnamon coloured eyes were wide with terror. No matter how hard she ran, she didn't seem to be gaining any ground on her pursuer. She recognised a familiar laugh that cackled in her ears. But Nestra was baffled, that sound was in front of her. She pulled up suddenly and stopped. It was Callisto, her friend. Just then she turned around and behind her was Xena, the Warrior Princess. The fierce warrior arced her immense sword over Nestra's head and plunged it deep into her heart.
Nestra jumped awake with a start. Damnit to Hades, Xena again, she sighed to herself. She took in a deep breath and re-positioned herself against her lover, Brissea, who slept fitfully at her side. She stared up into the coal black sky where the stars were sprinkled across the gods' heavenly landscape. Very little light illuminated the dense copse of trees that clustered near the stream. Their near fatal encounter with Xena had made Nestra's sleeping patterns erratic at best. It was all the two warrior women could do to get as far away from Xena as possible. Damn that Leica, Nestra cursed her friend who had been so stupid as to challenge the best warrior in the land. Nestra was a brave soul but she was no fool. She had tried to warn Leica just as she had tried to warn Callisto but both her friends were now dead at the hands of the frightening warrior.
For the past half moon, she rarely slept for more than a candlemark at a time. Frequently, she dreamt of Xena's giant sword pointed at her throat, her dazzling blue eyes blurred by bloodthirsty savagery. Eyes that had been void of compassion. Eyes that would have sliced her throat without a second thought if not for the sweet and innocent bard that somehow managed to keep Xena's temper under control. Frankly, she was quite amazed that the strawberry blonde had succeeded in stopping Xena from killing Nestra and Brissea back in the cave. Nevertheless, in her nightmares, Xena's sword gouged her throat every time.
Nestra turned on her side and held her lover more tightly. She knew Morpheus would not visit her for the rest of the night but just holding the woman in her arms was enough to momentarily allay her fears. She buried her face into Brissea's light brown hair, trying to think of anything but Xena. She failed. Her thoughts were heavy as she remembered the first time she had ever laid eyes on the Warrior Princess. It had been four winters past when she and Brissea had been one of Callisto's legion. It was a day she would never forget for as long as she lived.
Nestra was jolted out of her reverie by a sound in the dense woodlands. She urgently shook Brissea awake and leapt to her feet and automatically withdrew her sword from its scabbard. Brissea's eyes shot open and she quickly clambered to her feet, unsheathing her sword as well. A figure emerged from the trees. Her lemon coloured hair cascaded around her shoulders, radiating in bright contrast against the dark cloak she wore.
"Good evening, ladies."
"Callisto!" both women gasped in unison.
"Were you going to kill me with those puny little swords?" she
laughed. "Well, I have news for you. Not even Xena can kill me now!"
Callisto had been walking steadily for days making progress toward her intended goal. She supposed she could make use of a horse or other means of transportation, including a mere wave of her hand, but she wanted to savour every waking hour. Never before had she noticed the wonder of Gaia's green foliage, or the tender flowers that sprinkled the landscape. The smells that assaulted her seemed brand new, no matter if fair or foul. She absorbed every nuance as if it was the very first day she had ever walked on a dirt trail.
Every so often, the trail was marked by evidence of Xena's passing, accompanied by the little brat, of course. However, Callisto knew that nowhere was safe for the Warrior Princess. She tenaciously pursued Xena and Gabrielle just as fiercely as the Harpies hounded intruders into Hades' domain. Callisto turned her face up to meet the heat of Apollo's journey across the brilliant blue sky. It took her back to the fateful day when the destinies of she and Xena became inextricably intertwined and would be for all eternity. Tartarus or the Elysian Fields no longer made a difference. Callisto would follow Xena to the end of time.
She took a glimpse into her past and for as long as Callisto could remember, retribution against Xena had always been her mission. There had never been a time in Callisto's young life when she did not want the Warrior Princess to pay for the murders of her mother and sister. The fire that annihilated her tiny village was a mere ember in comparison to the searing inferno in her heart that snuffed out any light or compassion she might have known. Xena was to blame for that. The Callisto she knew was created on that black day so many winters ago when Xena's army swept through Cirra. And Callisto would spending the rest of her eternal life making sure the Warrior Princess never forgot it. Eternity was a long time, indeed, she thought.
Callisto smiled to herself as she realised she would have the pleasure of tormenting Xena for as long as her little heart desired. Poor Hephaestus was kind enough to grant her that honour. She reached into her pocket and fingered the necklace he had given her as a means to own her. But she had other plans for that necklace and was certain that it would look so charming around Xena's neck.
She thought of how Xena had supposedly changed her ways since she met the little brat. Callisto laughed derisively at Xena's misguided notion that she would be able to gain entrance into the Elysian Fields by turning her efforts to fighting for the greater good. She went over some of the deeds in her mind, unchaining Death, helping Ares get back his godhood, freeing Prometheus, releasing Cecrops from Poseidon's curse. She rolled her eyes and spat on the ground when she thought of that one. The former warlord was becoming a hopeless romantic in her old age. Must be the little brat's doing, Callisto mused. No matter, she sighed, none of those "good" deeds held a candle to the scars Xena left on Callisto's wicked soul. One lifetime for Xena would never be enough to claim redemption and Callisto was there to collect her debt in full.
Her introduction to the Warrior Princess would forever be a scar that wove a dark strand through the tapestry of her soul. She remembered it as clearly as if it had happened just yesterday. She was in the middle of her twelfth summer and she had been playing outside with Theodorus in the mid-day sun. A high cerulean sky betrayed no omen of what destruction would soon visit the sleepy village. Theodorus was her only playmate. Callisto liked him because he understood her and let her be in charge. Then, without warning, she heard the mighty roar of many horses as they rumbled through the village at breakneck speed. Above the din, she heard the battle cry of a fierce and angry woman. A warrior's cry. The Warrior Princess.
Callisto stood frozen amongst the carnage unable to move, her eyes and soul battered by the destructive acts that swirled around her. Miraculously she remained unscathed. She watched in horror as Xena's army annihilated the villagers she had known since she was a baby. Many of the townsmen were run through with huge metal swords. Arrows darted through the air and found their human targets. Blood gushed out of large gaping holes. Tresephus, the blacksmith, the man who occasionally let Callisto watch him forge tools for the town, was beheaded before her very eyes. She wanted to look away but her body betrayed her and she remained glued to the grimy earth that flowed freely with bloody red rivulets.
And then the flames swept over them, devouring every hut and dwelling in its destructive path. No one would come out as they were were too fearful of Xena's army, too fearful of her wrath. They would rather face the scathing heat than Xena's sword. Callisto heard her mother and sister's screams above all else. Theodorus pleaded with her to run away but she couldn't. She wouldn't. It was a nightmare that was soon to end. She was certain of it. It had to be a dream. She didn't want to believe it was real. No god would be so cruel as to let the vision before her actually happen. She cursed Morpheus for not allowing her to awaken from such a horrific nightmare.
Then Callisto saw her. A powerful woman warlord in warrior garb. She wore black leather, cold armour, a sword, and a round metal weapon. Fear, awe, respect, and admiration commingled with Callisto's deepening hatred. The ruthless warrior was the cause of her demolished home and the anguished cries of her family. Xena trotted up on her horse and surveyed the smouldering ashes. Callisto had but one question for the Warrior Princess.
Xena barely registered a passing glance at the young girl.
She began to shout orders at her men to collect the spoils of the village or what was left of it. And without a backward glance, Xena stormed out of the hamlet as suddenly as she came. Callisto never got an answer to her simple question.
Several candlemarks after Xena's army trailed a cloud of dust out of Cirra, Callisto remained crumpled on the ground with her face buried in her arms. Her arms hugged her knees tightly as she rocked herself back and forth. Her eyes were clamped shut but still she saw heads and body parts sliced into oblivion.
When she paused to look up on occasion, she did not see the few survivors that prayed to the gods for mercy. Nor did she hear their moaning wails for help. Neither did she hear Theodorus' pleas to leave. The only sensation that registered was numbness. She prayed to any god that listened to wake her from this nightmare but they only answered her with silence.
As Apollo's chariot made its descent over the horizon, she became vaguely aware that a hand had been shaking her for some time and that a voice was attached to it.
"Callisto!" Theodorus shouted in panicky bellows. She turned to look at him for what seemed like the first time that day. She noted the sheer horror reflected in his eyes and realised his eyes were not only a mirror to his soul but to hers as well.
"Callisto! What are we going to do? Callisto!"
Do? Callisto wondered. She would go get her mother. Yes.
Mama would know what to do. She rose to her feet.
"Theodorus, we'll have to ask Mama." She started to walk towards the spot where her dwelling had once been. Theodorus grabbed her by the arm.
"She's dead, Callisto!" he cried in anguish. "Everybody's dead except us!" Callisto ripped her arm away from his grasp and ran toward the place where her hut should have been. She searched the smoking remains for her mother. Two burnt bodies clung together, blackened by the flames. Callisto imagined the scene of their final desperate moments and squeezed her eyes shut to block it out. She didn't succeed.
She slowly turned to face Theodorus as she plainly came to the realisation that this day's atrocities had been real. A mask blanketed her features as all emotion drained from her soul. A faraway gleam clouded her eyes and in that moment, Callisto knew her life would be changed forever. She vowed to herself that Xena would live to regret this day for the rest of her entire life.
The rain beat heavily on the roof of the tavern. From the centre of the stage, Gabrielle's voice competed with nature's insistent tapping for the attention of her captive audience. Many of the townspeople, including a few children, did not want to venture outside until the storm had subsided. Despite the late night, they remained glued to their chairs. For the proprietor, business was excellent. For the bard, Xena was making a simple pleasure extremely difficult. Even though Gabrielle should have been grateful that she and Xena had a chance to earn some extra dinars, she could care less about their fortuitous circumstances. Her eyes honed in on the warrior's muscular leg as it was propped up on a table for sheer comfort. Xena casually sipped from a mug of port. Gabrielle smiled to herself as she noticed Xena's long leg took up more room than necessary considering the crowded tavern but she knew no patron would dare challenge the warrior's desire for a wide berth.
Gabrielle continued her bard's tale, unconsciously letting her eyes languidly travel along Xena's well-defined curves momentarily resting on the dark apex of her undergarments. Her face flushed and a warm current flowed through her as she thought of Xena's warm centre hidden beneath the cloth. She quickly looked away and continued reciting the story she knew from practised memory. Her eyes darted noticeably around the room as she made a conscious effort to avoid Xena's supple leg.
Nevertheless, her eyes were drawn back to the Warrior Princess. Self-conscious of her minor slip-up, she caught sight of Xena's twinkling blue eyes. She watched as Xena's tongue slowly spread across her upper lip caressing the soft opening. Her lips glistened in the candlelit room. Gabrielle was entranced by the bold demonstration of her many skills. A nervous giggle leaped out of the bard's mouth and she lost her place in the story. She glanced at Xena who feigned innocence at causing the disruption and took another sip of port. Oh Xena, you will pay for this later, Gabrielle promised the warrior silently. She took in a deep breath and finished the story holding on to a steel will not to look in Xena's direction again. Mercifully she concluded the story, inhaled deeply and strode over to Xena's table determined to wipe the smirk off the warrior's face.
Gabrielle approached Xena's table, her eyes were narrow slits as she contemplated various tortures she'd make Xena endure later in their room. Her eyes gleamed at the erotic thoughts that danced in her head and a stabbing pang of longing gathered between her legs. Xena arched her eyebrow in recognition of the sparkle in the bard's eyes. Unexpectantly, a small boy of not more than eight winters ran up to Xena's table barging in on their silent communication. Agitated by the interruption, Gabrielle stood and hovered near the table.
"Xena! you're really her, aren't you!?" he exclaimed. "You really know Hercules?!" the boy was beside himself with excitement.
Xena laughed at the boy and patted his shoulder. "Yes I do," she said matter-of-factly. As the boy chattered on incessantly about the warrior's adventures, Xena caught Gabrielle's steady gaze and slyly grinned at the bard's sigh of frustration. She pointed one finger at Gabrielle and with a tilt of her head, beckoned her to come closer. Not knowing what to expect, the bard acceded to her soundless command. The boy continued to prattle on about Xena's conquests. Xena interrupted him.
"Excuse me, what's your name?" Xena asked determined to find the boy's parents so she could join Gabrielle in their room.
"Landreus," he answered.
"Landreus, are your parents here?"
"Yes, my father's here somewhere. And so's my sister. She
loves you too, Xena!" he explained excitedly as his head bobbed and weaved in search of a familiar face. Just then, the boy spotted his father coming towards the table. He waved frantically for them to join him as Xena turned to the boy.
"Hold on just a minute, Landreus, I want to talk to my friend here." The boy nodded agreeably and raced over to his father and sister. He pulled them reluctantly toward the table of the intimidating warrior.
Xena pulled the bard down to her ear level. "Go to our room and wait for me. You know how I'd like to find you," she suggested seductively. She discreetly flicked out her tongue and brushed lightly against a corner of Gabrielle's ear that sent shivers through her. The bard giggled to hide the passion that ran rampantly through her and croaked out a meek "sure" before she started for the room.
"Oh, and Gabrielle." Xena held on to her hand, not letting the bard go just yet. "Don't start without me," she said as she squeezed the bard's hand to emphasise her point. It took a moment for Gabrielle to fully comprehend what the warrior meant and when she did, her face turned a bright red as she hurried to their room.
Landreus, in tow with his sister and father, reached their table and blurted out, "She's really nice, Father, you'll really like her! Aren't you glad we got caught in this storm?" Xena groaned inwardly and quickly thought of a plan to ditch her unwanted companions.
Gabrielle had removed her boots and all her clothes as she patiently waited for Xena to get rid of the happy little family. She lay on her side and thought of the warrior's long lithesome body covering her own and getting lost in the soft velvety skin that melted all reason from her mind. She had toyed with the idea of withholding her favours from Xena as payback for causing her slip-up on stage but she wondered how long she would be able to hold fast to that promise without succumbing to Xena's alluring presence. The longer she waited, the more impractical the idea became. All she could think of was to leap on top of the warrior and ravish her luscious body within seconds of her arrival. It was all Gabrielle could do to keep her hands from wandering to the hot liquid between her legs. Slowly, a wicked idea began to formulate in her mind. A wide grin spread across her face.
Nevertheless, Gabrielle didn't notice the silhouetted figure that lurked just outside the window as it waited for the redheaded bard to be joined by the dark-haired warrior.
Xena hurried through the hall that led to their sleeping room in the back of the tavern. She'd finally been able to disengage herself from the talkative boy and his family. She smiled as she anticipated the lovely woman that awaited her. She reached the door and unlocked it to find the bard's exquisite nude form as beautiful as a flower in the Elysian Fields. Her mouth went dry and she self consciously swallowed. She shut the door behind her.
"What took you so long?" Gabrielle grinned at her teasingly. Xena stood frozen just inside the door and carefully removed her armour and weaponry. Her eyes clouded over in uninhibited passion as they travelled slowly along Gabrielle's delectable curves. The bard lay on her side propped up against a pillow. One hand rubbed the smoothness of her inner thigh and Xena imagined her cheeks melting into the delicate skin. The bard's legs were slightly open and they revealed the glistening moisture that shone through the wispy hairs. As she waited for Xena to approach the bed, Gabrielle's hand played with her damp red curls.
"You didn't start without me, did you?" Xena answered her question with a question. Her dry throat made her voice crack. She licked her lips and her breathing increased markedly. She definitely didn't want to discuss the babbling little boy. She moved closer to the bed and began to remove a leather greave from her wrist when the bard kneeled up on the bed.
"Here, let me do that, you sit down." Gabrielle motioned for Xena to sit on the edge of the bed, then slid off the bed and stood between Xena's supple thighs. Xena complied with the bard's wishes even though she felt a strong compulsion to ravish her despite being fully clothed in her leatherwear. Xena held her arm out so that the younger woman could unbuckle the leather greave from her wrist. The warrior's hand trembled and only her best efforts kept it still. She couldn't help but notice the leisurely pace Gabrielle was setting and nuzzled the bard's neck to speed things along.
"Wait, Xena, I want to undress you first," Gabrielle insisted and gently pushed back Xena's shoulders to give her some space to manoeuvre. "Sit back, let me undress you," she said. Her eyes gleamed as she grabbed hold of Xena's other wrist and began to unhook that accoutrement as well. As she unsheathed the greave from the warrior's wrist, Gabrielle licked the palm of Xena's hand and followed a wet trail to just below the leather band at the warrior's bicep. She removed the band and continued her oral assault on Xena's muscular arm. Tiny goosebumps erupted along Xena's skin and a wave of desire settled in her loins.
"I don't know how much more of this sweet torture I can take, Gabrielle," Xena grinned. One hand caressed the bard's buttocks as the warrior pulled Gabrielle closer to her but still the bard resisted.
Gabrielle laughed. "A lot more, Xena. Do you know how long I've been waiting for you?" she purred. She removed the other leather band as she spoke and then licked the inside of Xena's elbow. The warrior gasped at the contact on an especially sensitive place on her body. She was beginning to enjoy this tortuous little game. Gabrielle's hot breath followed Xena's arm until she reached the strap of her leather tunic. Her hands reached up to peel the leather strap down Xena's arms and exposed her breasts to Gabrielle's touch. The bard gently massaged the soft mounds, the nipples hard as pebbles against her palms. Gabrielle's eyes never left contact with Xena's as her crystal blue eyes grew dark with hunger. The bard claimed Xena's lips and slipped her tongue inside. The warrior moaned loudly as their tongues intertwined in an erotic dance of passion. The bard's hands continued to massage Xena's breasts and pinch the erect buds. Finally, Xena could take no more and leaned back on the bed taking the smaller woman with her.
"Oh no, no, Xena. Not yet," Gabrielle teased pulling herself upright and away from Xena's grasp. She stood up and eyed the warrior's prone body, whose legs were draped over the side of the bed. Xena sighed and gave in to the bard's desires. Although she wouldn't admit it aloud, she rather enjoyed Gabrielle's aggressive overtures. It was a switch for them, but, after all, she liked catering to the bard's every whim.
Gabrielle kneeled between Xena's legs and carefully unbuckled her knee bracers. Next, she began unlacing the extensive ties on the warrior's boots. She took her time knowing that the longer she prolonged her little task, the longer Xena would have to wait. She grinned to herself confident that the payback she was meting out to Xena clearly balanced the playful torment she had received on stage. She only hoped that she would be able to hold out as long as she had originally planned. Her hands quivered on the warrior's boot and she was grateful that Xena could not view them from her angle.
The bard removed Xena's boot and carefully positioned the warrior's freed foot between her legs. Her bare toes slid effortlessly against Gabrielle slippery triangle as the bard licked broad circles on Xena's bare thigh. Xena gasped and bolted upright.
"See what happens when you tease me so much?" she asked
innocently as her mouth continued to graze random patterns on Xena's thigh. "You shouldn't torture me so on stage."
Xena grinned as she rested back on her elbows. "Is that what this is about?"
"Hm," Gabrielle answered, but did not remove her lips from Xena's silky skin. Her mouth seemingly had a life of its own as it travelled to the wet spot in the middle of Xena's undergarments. Gabrielle inhaled the intoxicating aroma and it took all of her self-control not to rip off the rest of Xena's outergarments to reach the divine elixir. Instead she let her tongue swipe a taste from the cloth and continued her path down Xena's other thigh and back to the remaining knee bracer.
Xena inhaled a sharp breath and grabbed hold of the bedsheets as she felt Gabrielle's tongue brush against her wet centre. Only her years of training in strict discipline kept her from taking control and spurring Gabrielle along. In another way she could not explain, the restraint needed for her not to dominate excited her more than she cared to admit. She laughed at herself because only Gabrielle would ever have the privilege of her unconditional surrender. She could just hear the word around town now - "Xena: Warrior Wuss". A smirk crept onto her face as she laid back on the bed and awaited Gabrielle's next move.
The bard finished unlacing Xena's boot and removed it. Quite frankly, she was surprised that Xena had been patient for this long but she enjoyed the willing surrender of the mighty warrior. She was amazed at how much discipline it took to restrain herself from ravishing Xena and she made a mental note to let her do all work next time. But for the moment she was going to see this thing through for as long as she could.
"All right, Xena, stand up," the bard encouraged and pulled the warrior up from the bed. Gabrielle began to unlace the complicated ties at the back of Xena's tunic. Her hands trembled slightly and she noticed Xena's increasingly rapid breath. Gabrielle swallowed nervously as she held on to her precarious self-restraint. Finally, Xena shrugged out of her tunic and Gabrielle completed the undressing by removing the warrior's undergarments. Without turning around, the magnificent warrior waited for Gabrielle to do with her as she pleased.
The bard wrapped her arms around Xena's waist and stroked her taut stomach. Her breasts crushed against Xena's back as she cupped the warrior's mounds with wandering hands. She murmured into Xena's back, "Go lay on bed. On your stomach."
"Yes, my Queen," Xena answered playfully. She laid on her stomach as Gabrielle drew in another deep breath. The bard's tongue flickered over the base of Xena's spine and dampened the fine hairs that collected in the sensitive area. Xena emitted a low grunt into the pillow. Gabrielle continued a steady trail of kisses along the warrior's spine and brushed aside Xena's long ebony hair as her lips finally came to rest at the back of Xena's neck. She hoisted her body over Xena's and covered the warrior's back with as much of her smaller body as possible. The contact ignited lightening bolts between them as Gabrielle felt herself melting into the warrior's lithe frame. She took a few moments to regain her composure. When she heard Xena moan beneath her, she grinned with satisfaction. She just might be able to last longer than she thought.
Gabrielle's mouth found an enticing spot at the side of Xena's neck that she nibbled on. She sucked on it for several moments as Xena groaned non-stop into the pillow. Her hips ground helplessly into the bed as she found no release from Gabrielle's tortuous lips.
"Xena," she purred.
"I think I like this," Gabrielle said.
"Do you now?" Xena tried to lift up her head to look behind her.
"Oh no, not yet, Xena," Gabrielle grinned. "First, you have to agree to let me do everything to you, you can't take over." She examined the spot on Xena's neck to see if she left any evidence of her passion. She decided, yes indeed, it would look pretty in the morning light.
"Okay, I agree," Xena said exasperated. "Please Gabrielle, I need you," she pleaded, her voice husky with desire.
Gabrielle gave Xena room to roll over and straddled the warrior's waist. She could see that their little role reversal was creating as much excitement for Xena as herself. Her wet centre slithered against Xena's abdomen and she knew that soon she would have to quiet her own fire as well as Xena's. She harnessed a Herculean urge to take Xena right then. Instead, she guided her breast to Xena's mouth and the warrior hungrily suckled the erect bud. Xena's hand squeezed the fleshy mound of the bard's other breast. Gabrielle moaned in ecstasy, no longer able to hold back her fading restraint. She pulled her breast away from Xena's lips and covered them with her own. She took possession of the warrior's mouth using her tongue to seek out any remaining resistance. She found none. Xena was hers.
Gabrielle's hand began its exploration down Xena's pliant flesh and the warrior's legs parted to welcome her carnal invasion. The bard broke away from Xena's kiss as her hand discovered the liquid fire between her legs.
"Let me in, Xena!" Gabrielle moaned loudly and plunged two fingers into the hot inferno.
"Yes! Gabrielle!" Xena exclaimed as her back arched up instinctively to meet the bard's thrusts. She wrapped her arms tightly around Gabrielle's waist as she held on against the wave of passion that consumed her. Her delirium built into unfathomable ecstasy when Gabrielle thrust a third finger inside her. Each thrust brought with it the bard's possession of her until she became one with her lover's soul and unreservedly abdicated to the Amazon Queen. It took Xena only a few more strokes before the raging fire washed over her and took her in a tidal wave of sheer bliss.
It took Xena several moments to get her breath back. Gabrielle slowly extricated her fingers and watched the warrior's face as she regained some semblance of lucidity. She showered her lover's face with gentle kisses, her mouth finally coming to rest over Xena's, her fingers intertwined in her thick black hair. The warrior responded with a renewed onslaught of fervour ignited by Gabrielle's kiss. The bard rocked her hips against Xena's thigh as her juices soaked the warrior's skin. She broke away the kiss and murmured softly in Xena's ear.
"Please, Xena, let me come," she moaned in breathless gasps.
"Yes......scream for me," Xena panted.
Gabrielle whimpered at Xena's words and reclaimed the warrior's mouth. The rocking against Xena's leg increased steadily and harder. Soon she knew she would go over the edge as she held on to Xena for dear life. The noises that emitted from her throat increased in volume and she knew when she tumbled into the precipice she would be screaming. Suddenly, a surge of heat filled her and extended to every fibre and nerve. And with it came a wail that started in the pit of her stomach and erupted into her throat. She passed the scream on to Xena and the warrior swallowed the wail as if it were her own.
From the window, the mysterious figure watched the entire scene in amazement knowing full well that it would be one of the last times Xena and Gabrielle would have such an intimate rendezvous.
The roar she heard became the sound of many horses. Hooves pounded on the dried out dirt. She looked up to see a huge sword gleaming in the sunlight. The rider swung it menacingly at anything and everything in its path. Other soldiers flanked both sides of the leader's huge war-horse. She heard many screams in the din but above all else she heard the screams of her mother as the fire burned down the only home she'd ever known. She heard the battle cry of the leader of the destructive army and it sounded familiar. It was a woman. A warrior woman. She turned to the sound that rang in her ears and saw the monstrous sword arc toward her. She looked into the fierce blue eyes that glowed with excitement as they anticipated another swift kill. Instantly, she recognised the face. It was her. It was Xena. The Warrior Princess.
"NO!" Xena shouted.
Xena's eyes flew open. She sat up on the bed and took in deep gulps of air to catch her breath. Gabrielle stirred briefly in her sleep but didn't awaken. The night air that came through the window was cool against her hot and sticky skin. Another demonic nightmare, she thought. When would they end? This one seemed more vivid than usual, she thought. But actually it was no different than the countless other nightmares she'd endured over the years. This time, she had been in Cirra and she watched as she, as a warlord, skewered everyone in sight. She was about to murder a small girl, who must have been Callisto, she surmised. When would that woman ever stop haunting her? she wondered.
The warrior sighed and lay back on the bed. She wrapped her arm around Gabrielle's waist, hugging her lover closer to her. She kissed the side of her head and thanked the gods again for bringing such a sweet soul into her life. Is it any wonder she sleeps so soundly? Xena mused. A broad smile spread across her face as she clearly remembered their resplendent lovemaking from the night before. She marvelled at the bard's ability to penetrate the many layers she'd created to protect her heart. But Gabrielle sliced through those layers with the ease of a blade through thin air and what the bard gleaned was true. It was as if Xena were transparent and Gabrielle could see clearly through to her soul. She knew no one except Gabrielle would ever have been allowed to possess her like she did last night. Xena gave Gabrielle a soft peck on her shoulder and examined the younger woman's slack features in her untroubled slumber. It would be just fine with Xena if she died right there in her lover's arms, never to awaken again. Moments later, she fell back asleep.
For three summers Callisto and Theodorus roamed the countryside. Almost all of their idle time was spent practising many ways and means to defeat Xena. Callisto quickly learned from her childhood friend varied techniques in fighting and soon surpassed her mentor. Although they were of the same age, Theodorus had been privileged as a boy to practice self defence with the town's militia. Of course, those humble farmers had been no match for the Warrior Princess so Callisto promised herself she would be. Every traveller on the road who even remotely knew any kind of fighting skill, she badgered into teaching her. Most would, just to get the little blonde kid out of their hair. She also kept her wild streak intact so as to deter any man who would dare get further ideas.
Every day Callisto and Theodorus tracked Xena's army going mostly unnoticed as they kept their distance. On occasion they would cross paths with her soldiers in a crowded tavern but never did they come face to face with Xena. Callisto knew if her plan was to work, her identity would have to remain anonymous. Of course that didn't stop her from getting close enough to wonder at the powerful effect Xena left in her wake.
It was just after she had survived her eighteenth winter when Callisto saw a completely different side to the dark warrior. She and Theodorus sat in a hideaway tavern frequented by warriors called the Wicked Wing in Athens. It was dusk and they leisurely ate their evening meal. An attractive woman emerged from the back room with a strong armed warrior behind her. He pecked her cheek and pressed some dinars into her hand as he waved goodbye and left the tavern directly. Callisto eyed the woman with curiosity, fascinated by the long chestnut curls that hung loosely around her shoulders and framed her cherub face. Her smooth olive skin glowed faintly in the candlelit tavern. Her dress flowed freely about her curvy figure and the deep plunge of her neckline revealed voluptuous breasts. Callisto surmised she was at least ten winters older than she, but nonetheless, the woman radiated an understated beauty. The woman casually returned to the back room from whence she came.
Shortly thereafter, a band of soldiers noisily entered the half empty room. Callisto immediately recognised the lavender colours of Xena's army. The sparse crowd didn't recognise the identifying crest until it was too late. The magnificent Warrior Princess entered the tavern. Her men cleared a space for her and guided her to an empty table across the room. She sat, evidently expecting a meal and port to be brought to her. Both were forthcoming. Xena quickly downed the contents of the mug and ordered another.
Callisto upturned her lip in disgust. There was no way in Tartarus she would ever drink that stuff. It would dull her senses and distract her from her reason for living, her mission to destroy the Destroyer of Nations across the room. No, she wanted to keep every nerve fibre intact, every memory intact, every nuance about Xena that would make revenge upon her that much sweeter. Nevertheless, she was mesmerised by the imposing presence before her. Xena held her unwavering attention.
"Xena!" a woman cried out. It was the same unassuming woman who had enthralled Callisto earlier. The woman sprinted to Xena's table and the warrior hugged her tightly. She planted a long wet kiss on the woman's mouth. Callisto watched in fascination as the woman sat comfortably on Xena's lap. The warrior's hands roamed playfully underneath the woman's dress as she nuzzled her neck affectionately. They were obviously very intimate friends, Callisto concluded.
Callisto bit her lip to hold back the rage that threatened to consume her. For reasons she could hardly fathom, a wave of jealousy washed over her as the lovely woman responded under Xena's touch. Part of Callisto wanted to be Xena and explore the woman's luscious curves but another part of her, a much stronger part, wanted to be the woman on which Xena lavished all her attention. She cursed the gods for the little war being waged inside her.
Distractedly, Callisto wondered what it would be like to be seduced by the power that was Xena and her faced flushed at the possibility. She had no idea what it would be like to give herself completely to another woman but she imagined Xena was a woman who threw herself headlong into these passions. She envisioned herself sitting in Xena's lap and then having the warrior succumb to her pleasures just before she slit her throat.
She thought about the mediocre experiences she'd had with Theodorus. She had only joined herself with him twice. Once, just to see what it was like and a second time to make sure she wasn't mistaken about the first. Mostly, she had been bored. Sure, there had been a bit of pain, but after the suffering she'd already endured at the hands of Xena, it was weak by comparison. Theodorus never made her loins tingle or her face flush the way the dark warrior was making her feel in the noisy tavern. Someday, she vowed to herself, she would get her satisfaction.
Xena quickly finished her meal and rose from the table, her old acquaintance in tow. The woman led the warrior to the back room from which she had initially emerged. Callisto's eyes followed the two women. She composed herself and stood to leave.
"Let's go," she instructed Theodorus.
"Callisto! What are you going to do?!" he whispered hotly.
He saw the glint in her eye and didn't like it one bit. He knew that Callisto could be extremely erratic and the wild streak in her spurred her on many times. But he didn't want his childhood friend to ruin their plans for Xena. They had been following the notorious warrior for too long.
"Let's go, I said," she answered through gritted teeth and headed for the door. But not before Theodorus saw the reddish tinge in her face and knew Xena was the source of her agitation. He followed meekly behind her.
For three days and three nights, Callisto and Theodorus waited for Xena's army to leave Athens. They kept to themselves, easily remaining anonymous and out of sight. Her soldiers were never the wiser. When they left town, Callisto sauntered over to the Wicked Wing to ask the brown-haired woman a few questions. She pressed some dinars into the barkeep's hand and asked for her favours. The man eyed her suspiciously, then a smirk crept up the corners of his mouth. He dropped the dinars on the counter.
"Aren't you a tad young to be asking about her, go home to your mother, little girl," he chuckled, then turned his back on Callisto. He'd made a big mistake.
Instantly, Callisto leaped across the counter and onto his back. She jabbed her dagger at his throat and one arm cut off the air to his lungs.
"Now. The last time someone told me I was too young to do something was my mother," she paused for effect. "She's dead now, you know." She let those words sink in on the now terrified barkeep. "Now you go find your beautiful friend and tell her I want to see her." Callisto pressed the tip of the blade harder into his throat and drew a minuscule drop of blood to emphasise her point.
"I.I.I.I.I....will," he stammered. "SSSShe's in the bbback rrrroom."
"Good. Now take these dinars to her. I wouldn't want her to think I'm not a good paying customer." Callisto released the barkeep. He rubbed his neck and to his horror, he saw the blood she had drawn on his fingers. Quickly, he picked up the dinars from the counter and raced to the back room. Moments later, he returned. He nodded at Callisto.
"She'll see you now," he announced as he wiped his brow nervously and eyed her warily.
"I knew she wouldn't think I was too young," Callisto snickered. She strolled nonchalantly into the back room to meet the brown eyed beauty who had touched Xena.
"How can I be of service to you?" the brown eyed woman asked. She was seated on the bed, a low cut dress emphasised her well-endowed chest. Her long curly hair fell loosely around her shoulders and Callisto instantly wanted to get lost in her wild tresses.
Callisto's voice caught in her throat as she drank in the radiant beauty before her. To her surprise, she was trembling. She had always prided herself on having nerves of steel but her anticipation for the past three days overwhelmed her. This was the woman who had touched Xena. This was the woman who would provide her with still more weapons and knowledge to defeat the Warrior Princess. It took Callisto a few moments to regain her composure but she did so with due haste and found her voice.
"I.I.I.I.....never.....you.....so beautiful," she faltered, stumbling over her words like the childish girl she was expected to be. She bowed her head in feigned innocence pretending to be ashamed of her desires.
"Come here, young lady," the woman beckoned and patted the space on the bed next to her. "Don't be afraid. What's your name?"
"Neenah," Callisto meekly replied as she drew closer to the enticing woman. She sat on the bed and nervously fidgeted with her fingers. She pretended to be reluctant to make eye contact.
"My name's Isiphae," she said as she encircled one arm around Callisto's shoulders. "My friends call me Isi. Now tell me why you're here."
Callisto giggled and her words faltered again, "I....you know," she smiled shyly.
"Don't you know any girls your own age that you could....," she left the question unfinished as she remembered the barkeep's wild story of how desperate this young girl was to see her. "No, no of course not," she added quickly. "Why else would you be here?"
"Yes, please teach me," Callisto pleaded innocently. She turned her body towards Isiphae and buried her face into the woman's wavy locks and breathed in the scent of her beauty. She wrapped her arm around the woman's waist and moaned deep in her throat. Xena was here, she sighed with glee, Xena smelled this scent, Xena licked this velvety skin, Xena aroused this woman's passions. Although she'd had never made love to a woman before, she instinctively knew what to do. It had helped her immensely when she had vividly imagined it for the past three days as she anxiously awaited Xena's departure to fulfil her dreams.
Callisto searched for Isiphae's mouth anxious to taste the mouth that had only very recently tasted Xena. The woman held her back.
"Wait, no need to rush," she said as she pushed Callisto away from her. "Here, why don't you take these clothes off." She began to undress Callisto as the blonde girl watched her intently. She breathed in the power she felt at knowing her plan was working to perfection.
Shortly thereafter, the two women were naked on the bed, their clothes a heap on the floor and their bodies intertwined in the afterglow of heated passion.
"Hmm?" Callisto answered, her mind deep in thought. She had
surprised even herself with the intensity of the climax she'd reached by Isi's dexterous fingers. She had not expected to enjoy her little task so much. She had expected their lovemaking to be a little more exciting than her encounters with Theodorus but not by much. After all, her visit to Isiphae was only a small part in her overall mission. Up until now, she had always thought that love was a trick nature played to get people to reproduce. She didn't realise that there could be more than a little pleasure in the physical act itself. She smiled deviously. Eventually, she promised herself, she would find out what this simple pleasure would be like with Xena.
"Neenah?" Isiphae repeated.
"Yes?" Callisto was coaxed out of her reverie.
"When you...um...let go, did you know you called me Xena?"
Puzzled, Callisto said, "I did?"
"Yes, you did. Do you know Xena?"
"The warrior, some people call her the Warrior Princess," Isi confided.
"Oh, that Xena, actually I don't know her, do you?" Callisto raised herself up on one elbow to watch Isiphae's reaction. She was pleased that Isiphae had taken the bait so easily.
"Yes, she's a friend of mine," Isiphae answered. Is that right? Callisto thought, I didn't think that evil woman had any friends.
"What's she like? I heard she's pretty scary," Callisto enthused breathlessly.
"Well, all I know is she's a brave warrior and she's good to me," Isiphae answered, her face beamed at her recent memories with the warrior. Isi's excitement did not go unnoticed by Callisto. However, she decided it would be a good time to change the subject. If she continued with her plan, there would be plenty of time later to get all the information she needed out of the brown haired woman, including the curious scar above Isi's right breast. She was sure it was a mark left by Xena.
"I'm sure she is, but let me be the one who's good to you this time." She kissed Isiphae on the lips and closed her full mouth over the older woman's. "Teach me how to please you, Isiphae," she murmured as she anticipated the taste of Isiphae's wet centre where she was sure Xena's mouth had been very recently.
Gabrielle awoke to the sound of birds chirping. She automatically reached for Xena but the warrior was missing. She surmised Xena was probably getting them breakfast and her stomach growled in anticipation. She got up to wash her face at the basin and reminisced about their previous night's lovemaking. Goddess, she had been brave. She knew Xena was hardly the most patient person in the known world and she was pleasantly surprised that the stoic warrior had let Gabrielle have her way with her. She was amazed at how aroused Xena's surrender had made her feel but in a way it was the best thing that could have happened to them. It made her feel like the bond between them was on more equal footing.
When Xena retreated into brooding silence after they encountered the Horde, Gabrielle had initially been unable to penetrate the fortress surrounding her heart. But when she finally did, they'd both come out of the ordeal with a richer and fuller understanding of each other's needs and last night was a testament to the deeper trust they shared. It was all Gabrielle could do to keep her heart from bursting with love. She sat and furiously began writing on a scroll.
A quiet knock on the door interrupted the bard's concentration. The door opened slightly and Xena stepped in. She carried a tray of food filled with fruit, cheese, bread, and two mugs of tea.
"I see you're finally awake, sleepy head," she smiled.
"Who could sleep?"
Xena laid the heavy tray on the small table, careful not to
flatten any of Gabrielle's scrolls underneath it. She waved her hand in a grand gesture at the food on the tray.
"My Queen, are you ready to eat?" Xena questioned in mock subservience. She curtsied deeply, bowing her head to the Amazon Queen.
"Eat?" she nodded at the tray filled with breakfast goodies. "Oh....you mean food?" she laughed. "Are we going to pick up where we left off last night? Are you going to serve me?" She tilted back her head and held her mouth open.
Xena raised an eyebrow at Gabrielle's question.
"Yeah right!" they both laughed in unison and delved into the
Between mouthfuls, Gabrielle asked, "So where are we off to now?"
"I don't know, no where in particular."
"I've got a great idea, Xena! There's a Summer Solstice Festival in Aulis. It's Apollo's longest journey of the year. I heard they're having a bard's contest. Can we go, huh? Please, please, please?" Gabrielle pleaded exuberantly.
For a moment Xena was caught up in the bard's enthusiasm.
Then she groaned inwardly at the thought of another crowded festival. With people, lots of people. By the gods, she wondered, surely there must be somebody in dire straits that needed her to save them. Like, right now, in some quiet little village somewhere, anywhere. Nevertheless, she knew she couldn't deny Gabrielle her wish but it would come with a price, she thought mischievously. A wide grin spread across her face.
"Yesssss, Gabrielle, we can go to Aulis but first, I'd like to have my way with you. Come here, my precious bard." She held out her arms to gather Gabrielle into her loving embrace.
For an entire moon cycle, Callisto managed to enjoy the pleasures of Isiphae's favours. She catered to the woman hand and foot and in exchange for food and shelter, persuaded Isi to allow her to be her personal maidservant. Not that Isi really needed one, but Callisto convinced her that she could never do without and made Isi wonder how she had managed her entire life without the blonde girl's attentions. Callisto stayed out of Isi's way when she serviced her clients but never strayed far from the older woman's side during her free waking hours and comfortably filled the empty place beside her while she slept. Indeed, she had persuaded Isi that all she wanted was a roof over her head and slyly reminded her that the road could be a pretty harsh place for a young girl.
Callisto quickly learned that Isiphae revelled in her role as teacher and used that to wiggle herself into a spot in Isi's heart right next to Xena. To Callisto's never-ending surprise, Isi unleashed a wild fury inside her that needed only to be extinguished. It became a delightful little by-product that Isi happily fulfilled. However, the only thing that really mattered to Callisto was what clues she could divine from Isiphae to peer into Xena's soul. And being with Isi made her feel like she was somehow inside Xena's encampment, somehow inside the inner workings of her mind, and somehow inside Xena's wicked heart.
She queried Isiphae about the scar above her right breast. It was a simple "X". Callisto was certain that Xena had made that scar and not by accident. At first, Isi was evasive about its significance but Callisto was persistent and before long Isi was dreamily reminiscing about her days when she rode with the Warrior Princess. Callisto's heart was once again gripped by the duality of her emotions. She felt an intense hatred and jealously for Xena for having Isi as her lover and as well as a fierce envy that Isi was at Xena's side as part of her army. It took all of her self-control to reign in her emotions so that Isi would not see her true intention. Her intention to wipe Xena off the face of the earth.
Callisto left Isi soon after. She made some lame excuse that she needed to visit her mother but truth be known, she knew Xena would be back in Athens soon. Callisto did not want to encounter the warrior face to face. That could wait for a later time, when Xena would not know who she was or what she was up against. She informed Theodorus that they would be leaving in the morning. He packed their skimpy belongings and waited for her at first light.
"So what do they call this contest again?" Xena asked. She rode atop Argo while Gabrielle walked beside her. They had been walking all day in the bright sun and would soon need to find a campsite. Xena scanned the countryside looking for an appropriate setting.
"A round robin tournament," she answered.
"Robin? Like the bird?"
"Yes, like the bird. I don't know why they call it that,
that's just what it's called. Bards compete against each other and one by one are eliminated, depending on how good or bad the story is. The last bard standing is the winner," Gabrielle patiently explained.
"But what's a bird got to do with it?"
"I don't know. Nothing, I suppose, but it's been called that for a long time." The bard was at a loss as to how to explain it further.
"But a bird? Why don't they call it a scroll tournament? Or a word tournament? What's a bird got to do with it?"
"Xena, will you get off the bird, already," Gabrielle said, exasperated. "It's a contest, a tournament, and the best bard in the end, wins."
"Well, why don't they just call it a word tournament?"
"Because......," Gabrielle started to stamp her feet in
frustration when she realised Xena was toying with her. Sometimes it was hard to tell when Xena was teasing or not, and even now she wasn't sure how far back in the conversation the warrior had been kidding. Gabrielle stopped dead in her tracks.
"Xena, you know what? I know just the perfect story to tell that will win this contest for sure. It's about a warrior, high and mighty on her horse who carried a big sword, a lethal chakram and a deadly whip. She was known around the land as the Xena, the Warrior Princess....."
"Gab-ri-elle......," Xena knew this story was headed in a bad direction.
Gabrielle continued her tale. "Then, one day she met a tiny little bard, so fragile and petite and helpless, who eventually learned how to wield an expert staff, not to mention an expert lascivious tongue."
"Gabrielle!" Xena leaped down from her horse as the fast talking bard sped up her words to race through to the end of the mock tale. Xena marched toward her in feigned anger.
"And the next thing everybody knew, the high and mighty warrior princess let this tiny little bard have her way with her and miraculously, overnight, she became Xena, the Warrior Wuss!" Gabrielle barked out the last word and hightailed it down the trail at breakneck speed knowing full well that Xena would have no trouble catching her. She was not disappointed.
Before Gabrielle had a chance to whirl around to see how far back Xena was, the warrior swept the smaller woman off the ground and swiftly had her draped over one shoulder. Gabrielle struggled to get down and her fists pounded on Xena's back, but it didn't matter. The warrior was much stronger and she'd taken worse poundings during any number of fights in her life.
"Put me down, Xena!" Gabrielle shouted, only half seriously. She loved it when Xena flexed her muscular arms and showed off her impressive strength.
"Tell me again, Gabrielle, what story were you going to tell everybody in the known world?" Xena asked calmly, a menacing tone coloured her words. Argo obediently trotted behind the two women as Xena spotted a perfect place to camp in the green forestry.
"Nothing!" Gabrielle gasped, as she half heartedly tried to kick her feet to get down but Xena held fast with ease.
"Funny, I remember something about a mighty warrior, or was that a wussy warrior and a tiny little bard. Hmm, tiny little bard with a libid.....what was that word again?.....lecher......no.....lasciv..... ah! that's right, lascivious tongue," she grinned. "Let just see how lascivious it is, shall we?" she said as the warrior strutted off into the woods with her bard flung across her shoulder.
A cloaked figure blended into the woods and soaked in the playful scene between the warrior and her bard. May the gods help us all, she groaned inwardly. Don't those two ever stop? she wondered. Go on, Xena, she whispered into the wind. Have your little fun with the little brat, but it won't be for long. Oh no, not for long, she promised.