A small scene that I imagine taking place during Sins of the Past
by Marie E. Costa
The strawberry blond tentatively pushed the tavern door open. "Hello?" She called out questioningly. "H..hello?"
"We're closed. What do you want?" Cyrene snapped the words out. Angry at the whole world today. The Gods were too cruel delivering her only girl back to her...then snatching her away again.
"I..I," the girl swallowed, her throat dry and uncertainty making her more nervous. Briefly she considered turning and running away. No, she needed to help her new friend...it's what friends did. "I'm looking for Xena's mother." The woman's face paled.
"She has no mother!" Anger turned the full lips into thin whitened lines. "Now get outta here." She jerked her head toward the door and turned to go back into the kitchen.
"Wait." Gabrielle implored the woman. "I know you are her mother."
"Was her mother...I disowned her...this village disowned her...she is evil...I curse the day I conceived her." She tore her arm free and moved forward.
"Please," Gabrielle whispered the word, pain in her voice. "A mother shouldn't hate her daughter." The woman faltered and she continued her plea. "I want to tell you about the woman who saved my village...gave me and all I knew back their lives and their freedom." A pause as the woman glanced back at her. "..she's not evil. She fought in only a plain shift...she'd buried her armor and her weapons...I think she was preparing to die." Gabrielle stepped closer to the older woman who had turned fully around. "She had no reason to live...and so many reasons to die."
"What about her army?" The woman glanced at the young girl. Had her daughter been telling the truth? Was the army really the other warlord's?
"Army?" Gabrielle shook her head confusion on her face. "Have you seen an army? Xena travels alone now. She fights to right as much of the wrongs as she can."
"Alone?" Cyrene gave the young girl a sharp glance. "Not with you?"
Gabrielle shrugged sheepishly. "No, not with me..." She looked down at her hands. "Although it's not for lack of trying. I want to be her bard. I'll Chronicle all her stories...she is amazing! I can't begin to tell you the sights I saw as she fought. Backwards flips, low flips, high flips, frontwards flips, her sword play, her...wait a minute. Don't tell me...I know what it is...she told me once...uhhhh" after a long pause she stopped and snapping her fingers made the man working in the kitchen come running to see what was going on.
"She's telling me about the Warrior Princess."
"But I thought..."
"Maybe I was wrong...I have to find out." She looked at the young girl standing before her. "It's called a chakram. Now sit down." She pointed to a bench. "Tell me...from the beginning...the truth...I'll know if you're lying."
Gabrielle swallowed hard and looked into eyes that begged to be told all she knew was a lie...blue eyes, soft and pale from age and pain born of years of failure. "I can only tell you of that which I know. Everyone has heard the stories of Xena Warrior Princess. In my village they used the tale to frighten little children into bed at night. But, a few days ago I saw a different Xena. A hero who saved an entire village with no thought of her own safety."
Gabrielle sat down and took a drink before continuing her tale. She looked earnestly into Cyrene's eyes. The leader of the war band - I never did learn his name - threatened to kill everyone and take all the girls. I tried to stop him. Threw myself forward and said leave them take me. He laughed and said he'd take me and all the others." She leaned forward, "That's when it happened. He held out his hand and one of his men put a whip into it. He meant to beat me into submission." She closed her eyes.
Gabrielle bit her lower lip. "I can picture it as clear as if it were happening in front of me right now.
From out of nowhere there stood a woman...in nothing but a white shift. No weapons. She had her hand on his whip. Stopping him from attacking me with it...and with her knee she whacked him once, twice, three, four times...he went spinning backwards. He screamed at his men to take the girls while he dealt with her. She attacked...unarmed...using their weapons against them...there were at least twenty of them, but that didn't stop her. Me and the others joined in the fight."
She paused to sip her drink and gauge Xena's mother's reaction. The older woman sat silently staring at Gabrielle. Her throat no longer dry she began again. "At first it looked like we would win, but then one of them grabbed me. He threw me over his shoulder. I struggled, but to no avail. He was too strong for me. Somehow in the midst of her own battle she noticed and paused long enough to throw a spear. It hit the man and I broke free. I looked at her and she at me, that's when they got her...from behind...knocked her to the ground. Everyone else stopped fighting to see what would happen."
She shuddered remembering that moment and feeling responsible. Shaking herself she returned to the present and reminded herself of why she'd come to the tavern. "A dozen men surrounded her...she was scrabbling in the dirt. The leader raised his sword above his head...it started the downward swing...aimed for her neck. And as it came down her hand went up and attached to it a sword blocking his strike and in her other hand a round thing she wielded like a weapon...she threw it. It sliced the tops off the swords of the men surrounding her. She rose to her feet and laughed at the fear she saw in their faces. The round weapon returned to her hand and she battled the men concentrating on the leader this time."
Gabrielle was breathing hard, caught up in the excitement of her own tale. "And just before she finished him off she noticed the cloth her wore on his shoulder. She flicked it with her sword. Draco. She breathed the name as though it were a poison. Pulling her sword arm back she said tell him Xena said hello. And with those words she knocked him out with the pommel of her sword." Gabrielle sat back and took a deep breath. "It was quite a sight... " She let her voice trail off lost in her memory.
"Then what?" Cyrene interrupted.
"Huh?" Gabrielle shook herself. "Sorry." She smiled. "Then nothing. She turned from us and without a word began digging her clothes out of the dirt. I helped her. She didn't thank me...pulled her armor out of my hands. I noticed blood and called my mother. She convinced Xena to return to the village where she and my sister cleaned the wound and bandaged it. She was lacing her boots when my father and the others came."
"Did they thank her?"
"No." Gabrielle lowered her head. Shame for her kinfolk filled her. To see them treating the warrior they owed their lives to in such a manner was a disgrace and one she didn't want to bear. "They told her to leave. I argued with them, but they wouldn't listen. So I asked her where she was heading. Amphibilos she said." A sad smile came to Gabrielle's face. "I asked her to take me with her. She said no. I don't listen very well...if I did I'd of been married off long ago." She fell silent.
Cyrene needed to sort it out...she knew her daughter had turned into a murderous bitch and couldn't reconcile this tale...but the words of Xena kept returning to her: "I wanted to come home...I thought maybe this time I could get it right."
And her own response: "I don't think anything will ever take away the shame and sorrow you've brought on your kinsmen."
Xena so accepting of those words: "Probably not, but I'm gonna spend a lifetime trying."
Still I wouldn't accept her back. "Oh, Xena...I wish I could believe you."
Then my neighbors came and filled my head with stories I knew suited my daughter's nature more than the tale of heroism this youngster tells. "Do what you will with her!" I turned and fled to the sanctuary of my room...my daughter...how cruel the gods are. I believed my neighbors and I left them to kill her...yet this child saved her.
Now I see a stranger a mere slip of a child...as young as Xena was when I lost her and she stands before me and says you are wrong. Come love your child. She is good...please forgive her...what's a mother to do?
Gabrielle rose to her feet. She gazed softly down at Xena's mother. "I need to go to her...she needs me...she just doesn't know it yet." She smiled. "Forgive her." Quickly she moved out the door and hurried toward the tomb Xena had bid her wait outside of.
Return to The Bard's Corner
rd the tomb Xena had bid her wait outside of.
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