Disclaimer: The following characters of Xena Warrior Princess are property of MCA/Universal. It is not meant to infringe on any copyrights whatsoever.
However this story is mine and mine alone.
WARNING! There is graphic violence, some strong language as well as a touchy rape scene. If this bothers you please leave. I write stories in ways that I see fit. I try to make it as real as possible, NOT for the ratings of television. So if youre NOT 18 or older, go read Barney or something.
NOTE: This story was started last year before the end of the 3rd season and never finished, until my soulmate read what I had and wanted to know how it ended. So here we go. Enjoy. Please let me know what you think. Thanks!
" By the gods its really getting cold out", Gabrielle stated through her teeth as she pulled here cloak closer around her to keep warm.
" I know Theres a village about another 3 candlemarks or so. We'll stay there for he night. Sound good to you?"
" Xena why didnt we go to the other town that was down in the valley we just passed?" The bard asked as here teeth began to chatter.
Xena heard her friends question and knitted her brow and stopped to face the bard.
"My army destroyed that valley Gabrielle, just for the point that I could." Her face was masked with the warlord from so long ago. Xena took in a deep sigh and looked down at her feet and continued on.
" We didnt even loot the village. All I told my men was do go and have fun.
I remember watching from the crest of the hill and just watched my men. They burned the houses, killed the men, raped the women and all I did was sit back, drinking my port and laughed."
Gabrielle stood in front of her warrior and saw the pain the ran across her face as she told the tale of so long ago that still haunts her soul and stabs her heart. Slowly without even really knowing she put her hand on Xenas arm and gave it a slight squeeze to let her know she was there for her. Xena realizing the affection from the bard pulled her in for a long and emotional embrace. Gabrielle gave Xena a full hug and ran her hands up and down Xenas back to let her know she would be here for her if needed. Xena returned to hug and kissed her lightly on the forehead and looked deep into those green pools she loves so much.
"Thanks." She whispered with a smile." We should keep moving if we dont want to freeze solid." Gabrielle let out a small giggle and they began their journey for a warm inn once again.
The forest was mostly quiet except for the footsteps of the two women and Argo. It was about a candlemark or so and not a word was spoken between them. Xena realizing this she looked over to her friend a noticed she had her cloaked pulled over her head to try and keep as warm as possible. Xena moved over to the bard and all she saw was her nose poking out of the hood.
"Gabrielle. Cmere." Xena opened her cloaked to show the bard that she was welcome to come in and warm up. With out a sound she pulled the cloaked back down off her face, moved over to her companion, wrapped an arm around the warrior and Xena closed the cloak in around them. Gabrielle proceeded to put both arms around her friend, put her head on Xenas shoulder and thought to herself Yup, this is much better. She smiled to herself as she picked of the rhythm of Xenas walk. Gabrielle let herself melt into the warmth of her friend and never wanted this feeling to end. She was noticing lately the feelings for Xena have been growing stronger and she wasnt to sure how Xena felt about her. Xena has told her time and time again the she loves her, but in what way. Gabrielle knows she is falling in love with Xena and doesnt know quite how to tell her or what her warriors reaction will be. Thinking to herself I know how I feel and I should tell her. We both told each other we should keep anything from one another, but what if Im wrong? What if she thinks its just some silly hero worship. Her thought process was broken when Xena shifted her arm around her shoulder into a closer embrace, which sent a feeling of arousal through the bard. Gabrielle reacted by tightening her grasp around Xena waist. Oh, Xena You can make a girl so insane at times. I really need to figure how Im going to tell you I cant keep this in any longer.
As they walked together both cover completely by the warriors cloak, Argo followed his mistress just off her left shoulder, all you could see from behind was two sets of feet, Xenas head and a large lumped connected to her right hip. If a stranger saw them from a distance they might think it was one of Akidnas children. Now that could be a scary sight. Xena was walking a casual pace and enjoying the comfort of her friend, not to mention the warmth that was being shared between these two women. Xena adjusted her hold around the bards shoulder and let Argos reigns fall so she could put a nearly frozen hand inside for warmth.
" Hey!!! Thats cold" A cry came from the lump attached to her hip.
" Sorry. I cant feel my fingers." Xena replied as she looked down to her cleavage and saw two beautiful green eyes looking up at her. She smiled at the warmth that showed through them and a hint of something else she wasnt to sure on.
" What about Argo? Will she still follow us?"
" Yes. I trained her to follow me in case I was unable to lead her or whatever the matter was, and right now that training is coming in handy." Giving the bard a smile and another hug they feel silent and continued on.
Xena was lost in thought and was trying to make sense of all the feeling that were running through her veins. She could feel the bards warm breath on her breasts and it was making her head spin. She'd know for a while about her feeling for Gabrielle and wanted so desperately to tell her, but she had never been good with words.Okay Xena get a grip on yourself old girl. Its not like youre a young schoolgirl, think! But that WAS the problem she DID feel like a schoolgirl again. Her heart was pounding, she was sweating and her groin felt like it was on fire. She loved this woman so much it hurt, but she could never get up the nerve to tell Gabrielle. She thought of how much she would love to just throw her down an take the bard right there. Oh I need a cold bath. She thought to herself on how to give her thoughts a voice, she had to tell Gabrielle how she felt, she couldnt keep these feeling in any longer. Xena. Its now or never.
They both stopped in their tracks and broke the embrace they had together. Looking at one another in unison. " You go first." They stopped and giggled for a minute. Xena spoke first.
" Go ahead Gabrielle you first Please."
The bard took a slow intake of air and let it out just as slow. Trying to get up the nerve to proceed with her heart, but it felt as if she was going to exploded from within. She was beginning sweat, her heart was now in her throat, her head was spinning and it felt as if someone was standing on her chest. Her brow knitted together and she started to fidget with her hands.Gods, why in Hades am I so nervous?!
This is a first, Gabby at a loss for words. Xena thought as a small grin crossed her face but she then noticed the look in the bard eyes. The look from Gabrielle was so powerful, so full of emotion that her chest became tight with anticipation. Xena was beginning to sweat when she noticed that Gabrielle was beginning to play with her hands and that was a sign that she was nervous about something. Xena decided to give her a push of encouragement to continue with what she wanted to do
" Gabrielle, you know you can tell me anything that is on your mind. Im always here for you." She looked into her eyes for a reaction. "You know that, right?" Xena finished as she put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. Their eyes locked onto one another, the silence was chilling, Xenas heart began to race, she saw Gabrielle just began to form her words, CRASH!!! Both women jumped, Argo began to stammer around. Another sound that couldnt be identified was beginning to grow louder by the second.
"Xena! What is that?!" Gabrielle replied slightly panicked
" A tree ..I think..But I cant make out what that other sound is." She began to take a look around to try and find out where the sounds were coming from. Before Xena could make another move the bards voice broke her concentration.
"Xena!! Gods! LOOK!!"
Xena spun on her heal to see the forest was beginning to disappear. Everything was being sucked into a sinkhole and it was headed right for them. Xenas eyes were fixed in disbelief at the scene that was unfolding before them. Argo was getting inpatient and whining for them to snap out of the daze they were in. Xena heard Argo urgency and grabbed Gabrielles arm snapped her around. " RUN!" Both women and horse were running for their lives. Anything in the path of this horror was pulled down to its death, trees, plants, and any animal that didnt run. The sound of rumbling was growing louder by the second. Gabrielle looked back as a giant oak was pulled to its death; panic started to rise in her stomach as she was being pulled by Xena. They were running in full sprint, lungs were burning, muscles were on the edge of cramping, hearts were pounding so hard the bard thought that here heart might attack her. Sounds of splitting wood, rumbling of the earth, and falling rocks were being over powered by the sound of rushing water. Xena looked to her left and back and noticed that a circle was forming out of this madness. They were running in the direction of the completion, which gave her and idea.
" Gabrielle! When I say jump, jump!"
All Gabrielle could do was nod to herself and followed the warrior. They pushed forward with all they had. That horror was growing louder and louder until Gabrielle that it was going to take her.
They both leapt as far as they could landed on their feet but rolled forward to a complete stop. Hearing the sound was deafening an still coming closer, Argo whining fiercely at his mistress. Xena quickly rose to her feet lunged at Gabrielle and encircled the bard with herself to let the bard know if they die, they would die together.
Then as quickly as this horror came, it was gone. Silence once again covered the forest with the exception of the faint sounds of rushing water and heavy breathing. Xena laid with the bard encircled in her arms, she slowly opened her eyes and looked around and what she saw terrified her. Everything was gone. The whole forest that they just walked through was gone. All that remained was a huge hole in the ground that was just inches away from them.
" Gabrielle?" she spoke softly." Hey. Its over. Were okay"
Gabrielle slowly relaxed her grip on the warrior and looked up into her eyes. Still breathing hard she managed a small smile and let Xena help her top her feet. As she fought to catch her breath she looked behind her and saw the awesome damage that this horror caused. A gasped left her throat as the tears began to flow. Xena pulled her into an embrace gently rocking the bard back and forth whispering reassurance into her ear. Xena looked past the woman in her arms and looked over the edge as far a she could and shook at the depth of this abyss. Closing her eyes to this sight she tighten her grip onto her bard.
" Shhh. Its over now. Everything is going to be alright." Xenas soft voice helped calm the bard down to where her breathing was almost back to normal. Gabrielle pulled back to look up into the best sight she has seen all day, Xenas eyes. Both women stood in the place just looking at one another not wanting to break the spell. Gabrielle spoke first after a very long comfortable silence.
" Yes?" Xena said with baited breath as her heart began to pound inside her chest. She saw that Gabrielle was about to say something when a loud snap made them stop breathing. Xenas eyes looked at a frenzy pace to find the cause of the noise. Nothing. Not a damn thing. All of a sudden the hairs on Xenas neck stood on end.
"Xena. Ive got a really bad feeling about this." The bards stomach was now in her throat, her heart was pounding and tightens the grasp she had on Xena. A small rumble was heard as well as felt beneath them. In unison they looked at their feet than at each other. Xena raised an eyebrow," Oh shit." Before she could get a hold on Gabrielle the ground crumbled beneath them. Gabrielles piercing scream ripped through the air as she fell. Xena was able to grab onto a tree root and the bards hand. Trying desperately to find footing to help support the weight was a loosing battle. Every time the warrior got her footing the ground would crumble under her. Xena was beginning to lose her grip on the bard. Gabrielle had nothing to grab onto or any footing to help support herself. She was hanging onto Xena for her life. Xena was beginning to lose her grip not only on the tree root but Gabrielle as well. Xenas mind was racing on what to do, there was nothing she could do if she couldnt get footing soon, they both will die. Xena was starting to panic.
" Xena!!! Gods please . Dont .. let go." Gabrielle was all panic trying to keep a good grip on her warrior, but she was losing that battle." Xena I cant ..I cant hold on much longer." Suddenly the root lost some of it grip onto the earth and both women were jerked
hard. Gabrielle squealed and lost her grip on Xena. With quick reflexes the warrior caught the arm of the bards cloak.
"Gabrielle! ..Hang on!" Xena was beginning to lose the feeling in her fingers from holding on to long and so tight. Finally she was able to get her footing and took the strain off her arm and now fought to pull her friend up. " Gabrielle. Im going to pull you up enough to hold on to me..Okay??" She caught her eyes for a brief moment and knew the message was understood. Xena slowly began to gently pull her up when the arm of the cloak began to tear. Both sets of eyes locked onto each other. Terror ripped thought Xenas heart.
" I love you Xena." Was that last thing said as the arm of the cloak ripped way.
The sun was slowly making its decent on the world and all that was heard in the forest was the wind. Another sound was caught on the tail of the moving wind, the sounds of great emotional pain. Xena sat looking over the edge of the great abyss before her, tears streaming down her face, her knees hugging her chest, slowly rocking back and forth not taking her eyes off the bottom. Her shoulders shook violently, her head shaking from side to side in disbelief that the one treasure in her life was gone. Gone forever. Sitting at the edge as her mind began to race on what she could have done different to save Gabrielle. Her thought was broken when she felt her cloak being tugged from behind. Snapping her head around as if to see those green eyes she loved so much, only to find Argos big brown eyes it their place. Xena understanding Argos concern, takes one last look at her abyss, stands taking in a breathe " I love you too, Gabrielle Forever." Turning and walking away as the tears began to flow so thick that her vision was now blurred. Walking over to a small cave off the road, the warrior set up a small fire, sat on a log left by the last occupants, and just stared into the fire reliving the day.
Her muscles ached, her head was pounding, and eyes were swollen from all the tears that were spent. She knew she had to eat but her stomach was all in knots and the thought of food actually made her nauseous. She continued to stair into the fire closing her eyes tight to try and rid herself of the vision of Gabrielle falling. Her scream still echoed in the warriors ears, her breath quickened she suddenly felt panic rise up into her soul, Xena please dont let me go! Covering her ears and standing screaming in rage. "Im sorry! Gods Im sorry Gabrielle." Dropping to her knees, grabbing her heart, she began to sob with unspeakable guilt. Slowly Xena lowered herself down onto the bed roll, curled up into a tight ball like a frightened child and cried herself to sleep
The warrior began to toss and turn in her sleep, crying out to Gabrielle. Her face was tormented by pain, sweat beaded on her brow. Xena please dont let me die. Please dont let me go.
The voice would say over and over, " NO!" Xena sat up with a start; her eyes were looking around trying to focus. They finally fell upon the bards bag of scrolls, her heart became heavy, she rose to her feet grabbed the bag and walked off into the night. Argo sensing her mistress was not going to return she instinctively followed.
The valley was covered with a light blanket of snow as small sounds from a nearby river could be heard. All the animals of the forest were finally moving about their business of the day. For the most part the forest was quiet, with the exception of a barking dog down by the river.
" Hey! Shadow! Get over here! We do NOT have the time to play around. I want to get back home while the fish are still fresh." The soft, yet firm voice of a woman echoed over the hills. A light grunt could be heard as the animal left the chase to obeyed its owner.
A rather large dog pranced through the snow to its owner; the animal stuck out like a harpy in a flock of sheep, with his black coat shinning in the snow. The animal played around while still heading in the direction of the river to its owner.
"Come on butthead, its getting cold." This mysterious woman was standing next to a wagon filled with baskets of fish and a couple of rabbits hanging off the side. A black fur cloak covered her from head to about midleg, her brown leather boots had fringe off the back, black wool pants, and black leather gloves, but her face was hidden behind her hood. Her attention was broken at the sound of Shadow barking in a panic. Oh, for crying out loud. Now what? Thinking to herself as she made her way down to the river where Shadow was totally involved in.
"Okay girl, what the hell ." The sight of a body cut off her breath in mid sentence."Zeus!"
Her eyes widened as her heart began to pound against her chest. Sliding down the embankment to the body in the water and rolled it over. A large gasp of air left her chest as she saw it was a young women, bleeding from a horrible head wound above her right eye, as well as a rather large chunk of flesh missing from her left shoulder. Quickly she check for a pulse, noticing that the women lips were blue and her skin was nearly white as the snow, which wasnt a good sign, suddenly her eyes lit up like a couple of candles.
"Shadow! Go home. Light the center fire pit. Understand girl?" The animal gave a grunt and was gone in a flash. She carefully pulled the woman from the water and noticed the girls right knee was multiple colors and twice the size. Brushing back frozen hair she whispered, " Hang in there darlin help is on the way", hoping the girl would hear her, wherever she is. Taking off her cloak she wrapped the women carefully thus revealing her identity. From the looks of it, at one point and time in her life, fire wasnt her best friend. Her face was heavily scared on the right side; her right eye was a foggy white color, unlike her left which was a light brown. Her head was covered with a hat which had a brim that extended out the front a short way, her hair was light brown and pulled into a tail which hung out the back of the hat. From what was showing of her arms her skin tone was a light olive color, but here arms were only lightly scared by the fire she encountered so long ago. With this woman wrapped for warmth, carefully she climbed into the back of the wagon cradling her and giving the giant horse gently words of encouragement to move on toward home.
" Okay, Chance. Time to go home. Take it easy on ruff road, boy." With that said the enormous horse started back, keeping in his mind his masters words of caution.
Shadow was in full run when she came into the main opening to the cave, running down a long tunnel into the main part of the cave. The cave looked like an old abandoned temple of sorts. A large pit, which had carving along its walls, a hole was in the top just under this pit to release smoke and excess heat. Just behind the fire pit was a set of stairs, about 5 to 10 steps, which led to a living area. An assortment of furniture, another small fire pit for cooking and warmth. Near this pit was a couple of pallets, one high back chair, with a table next to it, also a couch which a person could sit up and stretch out or was big enough the sleep two people in necessary. Further to the right was looked like and indoor meadow, light shown through another hole I the ceiling, casting beautiful rays of sun on the small group of tree in the back. To the left of the living area was a steaming hot spring and well as two other opening in the cave walls. This could be storage or other rooms. Giant pillars lined the wall back toward the main entrance tunnel, several tapestries hung along the cave wall.
Sounds of a bucket full of water echoed through out the cave. Shadow was tipping over three buckets along the ledge of the main fire pit; one after another they fell witha thud followed by a splash. She then proceeded to a torch that was lit and sitting in its holder, pushing up from the bottom she tipped it over the top of the ledge. A loud whoosh sounded as the liquid from the buckets was ignited. The wood began to crack and pop as it was slowly catching on fire; the heat from this fire began to warm the entire cave. Shadow retreated back to the main opening to await her mistresss arrival home.
The wagon rocked and squeaked as it moved along the road. Chance still aware of his precious cargo took extra caution on the ruff road that led home. The woman was talking to the injured girl, just incase she was still in there and listening, " Its going to be alright. Were almost home, just a little longer I promise to do my best darlin. Hold on. Alright?" Chance rounded to bend to their home and pulled them as close to the entrance as possible. She carefully put the girl down; untied Chance then headed inside. She proceeded across the hall past the main fire pit, Gods, is it hot in here! Moving to the living area she placed the girl on one pallet and move to the other, taking all the furs off including the rug from under it exposing the dirt floor. Moving to a larger table, she rummaged through some bottles then tossed a large blanket on the rocks next to the hot spring. Crossing back over to her patient removing the cloak, " Okay darlin, Ive got to take these wet cloths off you. I promise to replace them." Placing the cloak on the floor she reaches over to a table to grab a pair of sheers to cut them away. She closely watched the girl as she cut away her top, carefully lifting her to pull the last of her top out from underneath her. Tossing is aside she cut away the skirt, which was all torn from her ride down river, finally the boots. First she tried to unlace them and pull them off, but the wet leather was making it impossible to do so, so she cut them off too. Looking over the almost naked form, the only garment that remained was the girls underwear. She quickly stood and moved over to the spring to retrieve the blanket. The rocks near the hot spring were warm so thus heating up the blanket. Gently placing the warmed blanket on her she moved over to the small fire pit and placed a fire poker in the flames and began to make medicine, boil bandages, as well as some hot chicken broth. With a bowl of warm water in her hands she knelt down beside this helpless woman. A whimper caught her attention. She looked over to where Shadow was sitting," Its okay girl. Ive got to clean her up before I can attend to her wounds." Picking up the girl and placing her on the uncover pallet, she began to wash away the dried blood and dirt from her face. Her color was beginning to change for the better. Between the heat of the cave and the warm blanket, her body temp was looking good. Her lips were now pink in stead of the discolored blue of death. Finally removing the girls underwear and cleaning her, she covered her up once again with a warm blanket then moved to the wound above her right eye.
The cut wasnt long just very deep, carefully she cut away the infected piece of skin, some stands of hair, cleaned the wound again, then using a very small version of a poker, began to cut and burn the other infected areas of the wound. Twenty-five small stitches it took to close the wound. The scare should go unnoticed; the wound is just below her hairline. Wrapping the bandage snug around her head she quickly moved to her right shoulder that was beginning to bleed. Good, she back up to temp. Now to stop her from bleeding any more. With the young womans temp almost normal her blood flow was starting to continue. She worked quickly to close the hole on her shoulder. Muscle and. bone could be seen. Packing the wound with cobwebs, placing a light green paste onto the wound then wrapped her up. Placing her hands on her ribs to detect if any were broken she heard a light moan come from the girl. Her head snapped to the right looking for some expression, noticed pain across her face. Placing a hand on her forehead, " Thats it darlin, come on back. Youre in good hands." Stroking the girls face once more than returned to finish her exam on the ribs. None seemed to be broken, but definitely bruised. Looking at her left knee, she was so afraid of what she was going to find. The knee was all colors of the rainbow and even some colors she didnt have words for, it was twice its size and the gash on the inside looked as if she got caught up on something along the way. The skin was ripped, but the bleeding had stopped a while ago. Slowly she pulled open the flap of skin that was hanging there and noticed a piece of wood broken off inside. Taking a small knife she held out the flap and began to cut the wound a little wider to get a better view of the damage. Seeing that the piece could be pulled out with no further damage, she grabbed it with her forefinger and thumb and pulled. Blood began to run over her fingers just as the girl moaned in pain. Almost there Almost there. Finally it was out. She cleaned, stitched, and wrapped the wound. Looking up at the girl she notice a fever had broke, her forehead was beaded with sweat and her breathing was a little quick, but nothing to worry about just yet. Shadow moved closer to the pallet and looked at the injured woman and began a soft whimper.
" Shadow. Shes going to be all right. Do you wanna stay with her?" She asked her little fury companion as she washed away the blood from her hands and cleaned up the small area that became a hospital. Placing a clean light blue shift on the girl, she picked her up and placed her in the other pallet next to the fire pit as well as a nice warm blanket over her. The next few day were going to be hairy. Hoping that this girl was strong enough to fight off any infection and illness brought on by the cold she was exposed too. Who was this woman and where did she come from. Thoughts just filled her head as she watched intently from her chair hoping for the best out come.
The forest trail was beginning to open up into a main road through rolling hills ahead. The snow was lightly laying a gentle kiss upon the land. The wind was gentle but crisp and the sounds of a horse can be heard. Breaking into the light of day from the confines of the tree covered trail; a lone figure seated upon a golden war-horse appeared. The horse was moving at a slow trot; her rider just sat in the saddle lifeless. Enfolded in a thick black cloak the riders features were unable to be made out. Armored covered legs could be seen peeking through the sides of the cloak. The wind pulled at the war-horses mane as well as the cloak that flapped like a war banner in the wind. The road has been silent for some time now only the sound of the wind, no animals out on such a cold day. Slowly the forest began to disappear into the back ground as the lone travelers pressed on. Still lifeless in step.
"Hey! Crowl! Lookie what I see." Barked a dark figure next to a still smoldering wagon.
"What! Cant you see Im busy." He hissed as he continued to force his manhood into this young victim they ambushed a couple of candlemarks ago. " Thats it bitch. This is what a real man feels like." A hand silenced the young woman screams that cover it from behind.
"Gods! Looks like she doesnt like it Crowl." Another spat as laughter rang out. "Sure your doing it right?!"
"Oh Ya!" He hissed as he found his release. Then after he slowly slit the girls throat, with a smile of satisfaction.
"You are one sick bastard." Came a reply as the rest began to laugh. " Check out the road you losers. We got some more company coming." All the raiders turned to look up the road to see a lone rider headed their way. They took what they could get from the farmers they just killed and got ready for their next victim.
" Well this looks like its gonna be easy. The riders asleep. Hell never know what hit him." Spat a harsh voice.
The slow walk of the horse stopped with a snort hoping to wake its mistress up out of a zombie like state. No movement came from the saddle. The war-horse slowly backed up away from the carnage before her. Sensing movement to her left the slightly turned to get a look, just as a pair of knees slowly put pressure into her sides.
"Well. Well. Well. Looks like were all going to get a little today boys."
"Crowl how do you know its a female? HHHMMMM?." Came a smart remark from behind him.
" Shit. Crowl dont care as long as he gets some." Deep throaty grunts and chuckles exploded into the air.
"Take a good look boys. Do men have legs like that." Pointing to the exposed thigh. Slowly moving in that direction. " And it doesnt matter she end up just like her when Im done." He hissed jerking his head over to where the young woman was lying lifeless, naked, and frozen. The scene was gruesome. The white innocent snow covered road that was now crimson from the dead bodies that now lay upon it; three men, two women, an elder, and an infant. All dead.
The rider still gave these men no sign of life. So Crowl made his way over to the horse, kicking a decapitated head out of his way, lifted his hand to grab the stirrup when a boot was slammed in to his face. Crowl landed with a thump, knocking the wind out of him. Trying to catch his breathe and trying to get to his feet, the rest of the men slowly look up to the rider as a pair of cold blue eyes stared them down hard. It felt as time stood still, everyman didnt dare move, as those ice filled eyes looked over the gruesome scene before her. She lifted her head up towards the sky sniffed the crisp air slowly rolling her head from side to side finally loosened.
A soul-shattering shriek ripped through the air, snapping all minds into a frozen state of being. With a push of powerful legs the warrior pushed herself up and over the war-horse in a tight roll landing in front of two raiders. Blue eyes burned right through them. With in a split second they knew in their guts that they were going to die, and it wasnt going to be pretty.Shadows danced along the back wall, as the fire burned in a smaller pit. Sounds of dripping water were constant in the air. Soft tones of the outside wind filtered their way down the main tunnel into the large living space. A tall figure off in the shadows moved its way over to the pallet next to the small fire. Slowly a face begins to appear out if the shadows, light brown hair fallen across light olive skin, further into the light the face appears. Half goddess, half demon.
"Well Shadow almost morning and our little friend is still with us." She slowly pulls back the light cover she covered the girl with over night. Her skin was pale, covered in a light sweat, but her color wasnt too bad as to start digging a grave yet.
" Lets get our friend here cleaned up. Looks like she broke her fever this mornin I hope that lump on the head isnt as bad as it looks, cause if it is were in trouble girl." The older woman looked over to her fury companion as she continues to wash down her patient. Shadow looked at her mistress with a small whimper.
"Well girl, if she doesnt wake up in a couple of days Im afraid she never will." She pauses in her duties to gaze upon this woman and wonders how did such a lovely young woman wind up on that riverbank.
"Who are you? I know youre in there Your going to be all right. You just come back to us." Putting her wash rag back into the bowl, she slowly lifted her into a slight upright position. This gave her an easy access to her hair, which was in dire need of being washed. A small tone was softly heard. She turned back quickly to see if what she heard was true. Looking intently at the girl as if trying to will it to happen again. It did.
"Thats it darlin, come on I know your in there." With soft-spoken tones the young woman was trying with all her might to open her eyes, but the battle was lost. She mumbled one word, a name. That name sent the older womans blood to boil. As her temper was about to let loose, a wolf howled off in the back ground, making the woman snap her head off to the back left portion of the cave. A wolf stood on top the rock ledge back in the small cove. Her posture relaxed a bit. She drew in a long breath then slowly let it out, as the name hissed off her tongue.
"Xena." The howling rang throughout the cave once again.
Time stood still for the raiders in the direct vision of this banshee. It was as if time stood still. The warrior stood frozen in her footsteps, drilling horror in to this poor excuse of a man. As they began to hear the beating of their hearts, as they pounded against their chest. A bellowing voice exploded through the air around them.
"Kill that bitch!"
Before the raider could understand what was said, horrifying pain exploded in his head, as the supply of blood was quickly shut off. His partner didnt even have time to react, when a powerful fist slammed into his jaw, breaking it and sent him reeling to the ground screaming in pain. Loud voices sounded behind the warrior. Two very large men came at her like a couple of bulls. An ear-piercing scream torn through the air as the warrior flipped into the air, landing only a few paces in front of the first man. Swinging her left arm with such force that when it connected with his throat, it snapped. With quick reflexes she kicked the second man square in the chest knocking not only the wind out of him, but sending him into unconsciousness.
"Its Xena ..Im outta here." One panicked voice cried in terror while heading to the tree line.
The warrior snapped her head in the direction of the voice only to see three men running for their lives. Blue eyes locked onto the running men, targeting them.
" You messed with the wrong man Xena. Im gone rip you apart." Crowl spat out as he pulled his sword from its home then advanced toward her. Xenas eyes locked on to his, pulling her arm out from under her cloak, she threw a weapon behind her as she advanced towards him. His eyes never left the direction of the weapons path, with in a split second of it being tossed, the three men she spotted heading toward the trees, suddenly collapsed. As if Hades himself came up and pulled them down to Tartarus, alive. Crowl was in total disbelief at the sight behind the fast approaching warrior. His heart began to pound as his palms started to sweat making it difficult to hold the hilt of his sword. To hell with it.Crowl thought to himself. He drew in a long breath and released a wild battle cry. His eyes became crazed as he ran toward the warrior; his sword aimed for her heart.
" Im gonna cut you in half!" He screamed. Xenas expression never changed. Cold and vacant. Xena pulled her sword out of its home with little effort. With a twist of a powerful arm, Xena passed her sword across her body to her left, connecting with Crowl with such force he dropped his. Xena quickly spun following through with her swing, and slamming the hilt of her sword into his forehead. She really could have taken his head off, but had a better idea instead.
Crowl was rolling around at her feet holding is head as if his brains were leaking out.
Blue eyes slowly looked over at the smoldering wagon; two bodies lie frozen in their state of death. Mouths and eyes twisted in pain and frozen in time. An elder whose lower half was taken from him violently as a small trail of intestine led to his legs. A young woman stripped naked, beaten and raped by these monsters. Xenas eyes locked onto hers. Empty, frightened, yet screaming for help that never came. Her mind was twisted in rage and suffering. Slowly closing her eyes as if hoping that the scene would disappear when she opened them once more, but it wasnt. They young woman looked like Gabrielle. Xenas rage snapped out of control just as one raider was almost upon her. Xena dropped her sword quickly pulling her breast dagger out sunk it home into the raiders neck. She could feel the warm blood flowing over her hand and down her arm. The air was so still she could hear his blood dripping onto the snow covered ground as she watched him die. The raider landed with a thud when she dropped him and slowly turned to a whimpering Crowl.
"Get up!" Xena hoarsely snapped to him in a low tone. She watched him slowly gather himself off the ground. Wanting so much for this day to be over, not to mentions that her stomach was wanting to expel anything in her stomach. Her head was pounding with such force she thought she was going to pass out. Xena pulled her Chakram out of its holding place walked over to a crate and sat down. Crowl was a little confused but relieved that she hasnt taken his head off yet.
" I want you to go and get your little friends out there and bring them back here." Xena instructed him with a flat tone as she pointed over to an area next to the smoldering wagon.
"But first, why dont you get that fire up over there. Then go get the bodies. Understood?"
Crowl could only nod his head. He knew he wasnt leaving this part of the land alive.
Voices were heard, somehow strange, maybe different language, but it was too hard to think. The pain was too great to handle. Everything hurt, legs, arms, ribs but something, somehow she felt safe. Using what energy was within; she pushed forward her voice.
"Xena?" Her urgent whisper woke her fury protector.
"BrRoo?" Shadow hopped up from his position only to see his mistress flinch at the name being called to. She slowly turned and gazed at the young woman in wonder. Wonder how half of her soul wants nothing but to kill this woman for speaking that name, when the other needs to know why. With no effort she stands and crosses the to her sleeping area to see if she can get this young woman to wake for just a moment. If only to get her name.
"Hey darlin." Softly she whispered to her, as she began to wipe off her brow from her fever. Intently she watches as green eyes slowly make their way into the light for the first. Eyelids flutter open and close. Low whimpers and moan are constant as she tries to regain consciousness.
"Xena I ." Her battle is beginning to come to an end.
"SShhh first my name isnt Xena Hey, Hey nice move, idiot its okay relax Im not going to hurt you." She quickly wrapped her hands gentle around the now struggling womans wrists so she wouldnt move too much. But pain was evident on her face.
"SSHhhhh stop.. Youre only going to hurt more. " Finally the energy was gone and the tones of the voice were soft and low. " Thats it .see Im not going to hurt you, I just want to help you honey." Gently she brushes her finger over her cheek. "See your safe . So.. Do you have a name?" Half-open green eyes regarded her, but her vision was blurry. Off in the background she could hear the falling rain; her mind began to spring to life.
"Gab rielle thi rsty .please." She answered softly. With no reply she watched this cloaked woman move to a table, but is almost looked as if she was floating. Ooo my head is playing tricks on me. She thought as the room began to spin slightly.
"Here you go Easy not so fast. Wouldnt want you bringing it back up." A smile flashed for a brief moment.
"Do you have a name?" She stated out of breath.
"Yes my name is Luna."
"Luna Where is Xena." The question was unmistakable; this young woman was worried for the warrior. Her brow knitted briefly as she looked upon this girl who was fighting a loosing battle to stay awake. Is it true. Did she really change? Bullshit, I should just no I need to see how much this bitch changed. Then Ill kill her. Maybe Gabrielle too.
"Im not sure, but Ill send a friend to look for her Alright?" Gabrielle could only nod as her eyes rolled off into the back of her head once again. Luna pulled her hood back off her head, whistled once then proceeds to her medicine table. She picked up a pair of sheers then headed back to the cot where Gabrielle was asleep. Luna looks down at her, regarding her. Absent-mindedly she raised a hand to her right cheek and stroked it.
"Pretty face." Her tone was flat, no emotion. She bent over Gabrielle and snipped off a long strand of her hair and took it back over to the table. Off the left of a table was a silver-grey
Wolf, large one at that.
"Well Jasmine, I have a little errand for you to run." She looked up at her and replied with a low grunt. Luna was now cutting three strips of cloth; two from Gabrielles green top and a piece of leather from her staff. Braiding the two from the green top with her stand of hair in the middle and tying them up with the leather. Satisfied with her work she put them into a little leather pouch, with a note, placing it around Jasmins neck.
"Come here girl, one more thing before you leave." She crossed over to the hot spring and disappeared into one of the back opening. Jasmine was right on her heels following her friend. Luna pulled out a large chest, opened it and just stopped. The smell of old leather and metal filled her senses. Slowly she folded out a folded piece of cloth. Moving over to her friend, hold it out.
" Here girl, smell this." Jasmine sniffed the pieces intently, back up and snorted. " Yeah, I know. Now go find her, go towards the old hunting grounds. Understand?" Jasmine snorted once again and took off. "Good luck my friend." Hmm. could that story be true. Poseidon. Out here?
Xenas eyes slowly watch Crowl as her brought the last of the bodies from the field over by the burning wagon. She still couldnt get the image of the young girl out of her mind. All she could do is see Gabrielle. Eyes began to flood as her emotions were about to take over, but footsteps snapped her out of it. She straight her shoulders and the foot fell stopped. Xena spun around, put her sword home then proceed over to where Crowl stopped. Frozen by fear. Xena took two paces past him, looked at the wagon.
" Ground is to hard to have you dig up graves, so your going to place them in the fire." Xena orders him with such an icy tone that Crowl was beginning to shake. He turned and headed to the bodies that litter the ground. One by one he put into the make shift funeral pyre. The smell of burning flesh was filling his senses making his stomachache. The smell of death was strong in the air. He looked from the fire to see Xena just standing there, motionless. Here eyes empty, her brow was angry, she was just bone chilling scary. He felt like a little kid after a scary story. Dread filled his very soul. He moved over to the finally body, the girl.
"No!" Xena commanded. " Ill take care of her. You, go undress your men and toss there belonging into the fire." Xena didnt even look at him, she moved past him and over to the girl. Crowl watch in amazement, Xena was wrapping this woman in blanket, then put her body at the edge of the fire. " Well?" Her voice snapped him out of his daze. Crowl quickly moved over to where the bodies were and began to remove their things but continued to watch her.
Xena knelt down next to this girl began to wrap her in a blanket she found near by the burning fire. Xena proceed to pick her up, walked over to the fire and place at the edge. Her heart began to ache, pulse quicken, blood boiled, tears began to fall as she let out a tormented scream aim high to the heavens. Crowl jumped out of his skin as the scream took him off guard. His eyes locked onto the warrior in shock. She was crying. The Warrior Princess was crying.Well I guess the rumors were true shes nuts." Crowl looked to the trees, only about 20 paces away; Xena seemed to occupied to noticed. He look at her once more then bolted to the trees.
Soft crunches of snow caught her hearing bringing her mind back to the situation at hand, only to see Crowl making a break for the woods. Almost primal, her yell told Crowl she was coming. Xena sprung up and over the burning wagon then broke into a dead run when she landed. Now she was really pissed off. Crowl, you idiot. Crowls lungs were beginning to burn from running, he never had to run for his life before, guess there is always a first for everything.
Heavy boots were catching up to him fast. He turned his head to see, but nothing was back there, nothing. As he turned to continue something snapped as his neck was suddenly jerked back and landed with the air being knocked out of his chest. All he could make between coughing and gasping for air, were a set of armored covered legs connected to one pissed off Warrior Princess.
"Fuck." Crowl coughed out.
"Yeah your fucked alright getup!" Xena snapped as she pushed him back to the road. "Stop there." Xena looked around, spotted Argo and whistled for her. Crowl wasnt sure what she was doing, maybe she wasnt gonna kill him after all. Xena mounted Argo, looked down at Crowl. "No since you really pissed me off take your cloths off."
"What??? Ill freeze."
" Thats the idea Take them OFF!" Crowl didnt waste anytime he did as he was told then placed them into a pile, all but his socks. Xena looked at this man, well maybe not a real man. " Toss them into the fire or Ill toss you. Now thats would keep ya warm. Now wouldnt it." She flashed a wicked grin, turned and moved Argo away down the road. Crowl was yelling every word at her he could think off, but she was paying much attention. Xena turned I her saddle to look back at the fire regarded it a while, finally she looked up to the sky. The snow was beginning to pick up, but she hardly noticed. Tears began to flow I love you Gabrielle.
The moon was full as it cast shadows over the snowed cover path. Nightlife in the forest began to come out for the evening hunt for food. All was quiet; the snow fell lightly through openings in the forest ceiling as an uninvited guest interrupted the deer nearby a stream. Through a cluster of bushes exploded a large wolf in a full romp. The noise upset the balance of the night in these parts. The wolf paid no attention to other animals running around him, she had a mission to complete. Running along the stream was making it much easier then the snow filled road. Hoping over little streams, logs or just another animal that was in her way, she could taste the sent her friend wanted her to remember, it was also close by. She made it to a ledge that over looked the lower section of road that she was on before, her senses were buzzing as she pick up the trail. Jasmine looked around to find the safest way down without slipping. Walking over to a low slope in the ledge, she looked over. Sniffing the air to get her barings, just underneath her paws the snow began to crack. She looked down then forward and let out a small grunt as the snow gave way and down she went. Snow and ice pelted Jasmine in the face and she tried to slow her decent, but it was no use. Her paws were on nothing but ice and she slid all the way down landing in a large snow bank.
"Umph Roo." Jasmin poked her head out of the snow. Growling to herself she climbed out, shook off the snow then sat down. Panting hard and still a little dizzy from the ride down the hillside. A slow breeze began to move around. The night air was crisp, clean, and relatively quiet, except for the running water. Jasmine picked up her ears. Slowly she moved to the sound just around the bend of the road, well there use to be a road here. A great abyss stretched out before her. Slowly she moved to the edge, sniffing everything around her when her nose detected a familiar scent in the area, and that sent was very strong.
"Br Roooooooooooooooo."Sounds of horses running echoed into the morning air. The air was cool, clean, and rather loud.
"HEY! BLUE!" The voice called toward the barn doors. Birds quickly took to the air at the sudden shock. The tall cloaked figure stood at the feed trough, closely watching the doors as she mindlessly bumping hay and oats. Slowly the doors of the barn inch their way open. A huge horse came walking out as the other smaller horses followed behind. Blue was an enormous workhorse full-grown Calvary war-horse in its prim; even Argo could never equal the strength and size of this magnificent beast. The smaller horses all to be trained for their owners mainly work horses to help plow the fields come spring.
Luna finished filling the troft and paused to watch the animals eat their breakfast. The farm was small. A barn had been erected just off the main entrance to the cave dwelling; the front was enclosed in fence for the horses to run freely. Three small pens connected to the main, one for cattle, the other for chickens and a couple of hogs, the third pen seems to be for visiting horses an other animals. The barn was in tight order. Back section was full of hay and grain stalls; blacksmith equipment lined a small corner just inside the main doors. About 5 stalls for horses lined the right side of the barn. Hanging up on the walls were all types of farm tools, saddle and leather repairs as well as weapons. The second floor of the barn was full of old creates, stacks of fur and bolts of cloth raging from cotton, hemp to the finest silk. Many items a good merchant would take days to filter through. Sounds of horses running and playing with one another drifted throughout the air.
"Well Blue why dont you go play with the others?" Luna asks her giant friend as she walks across the barnyard. The giant horse follows her steps in a slow stride. Luna sees Blue is just a little annoyed at the question with a hard snort. " What? What did I say wrong? I thought you liked them??" Blue begins to pick up speed. Luna noticed the change of pace, her stomach tightens and every muscle in her body is telling her to run. " Hey! Blue.." Luna begins to back up toward to open barn. "Blue come on I was kidding Hey!.Shit!" Luna spins, tosses the bucket and sprints toward the doors. Damn horse. Can never take a joke Luna picks up speed then leaps into the air, pulls herself into a tight roll and lands on the top of the ladder leading into the loft. Blues whimpers and snorts in discuss that she made it to the loft and to victory as he got the better of his master.
Luna climbs the rest of the way up and laughs outright. " You jerk!! I was only kidding" Blue jumps up and clashes his hoofs together in protest. Luna smiles in surprise, " Okay, they will only be here a couple more week then youll have your barn back. Geeze." Blue snort in agreement and walks back outside. Luna places her hands on her hip and shakes her head with a smile. Crazy horse.
Sounds of fire cracking and popping drifted in the air. Small echoes of horses danced off
the walls along with pants of a very excited animal. Slowly green pools of light danced into life. Slowly the world around began to focus; familiar tapestries lined the wall of this strange place. Well my head doesnt hurt as much. Moving her head toward the pants of excited a pair of big brown eyes looked at her with happiness that its body was shaking from the fast wagging tail
" Well hello there." The voice was quiet and hoarse. She began to look herself over to inspect what damage she did to herself. Her left shoulder was out of action for a while, since it was wrapped in a sling, feeling a slight pull above her right eyes she slowly patted that part and notice her head was wrapped as well. Slowly she started to sit herself up, pains in her ribs were telling her a different story, but it didnt stop her. Small whimpers of encouragement from her furry friend were comforting. Finally what seemed an eternity she was up. Gabrielle froze, not from pain but the sight at this awesome view, a beautiful meadow within a cave. The light was something out of the heavens, beautiful, and quiet. She let her eyes drift across the room noticed the main fire pit that heated the entire cave, or temple. She wasnt really sure. Looking down at the blanket she now had to see why her knee was throbbing so. Moving aside the blanket, Gabrielle noticed the rather large wrapped knee slightly elevated by a pillow, she also noticed she was bathed and changed. "Woof." The sound startled her making her inhale at the sharp pain from her ribs. The animal whimpers, as the pain was its fault.
" Shh its not your fault. Come here girl Im not going to hurt you. Have you been here all morning?" Gabrielle asked her furry friend as she approached and laid her head on the edge of the bead. Gabrielle began to pet the animal as she slowly looked at the position she was in. " What did I do to myself." She continued to pet the animal and look into the meadow in deep thought as a voice snapped her back into reality
" You fell down a really big hole."
"Xena?" Her heart skipped a beat as she turned toward the voice to see a hooded woman before her. The hood was covering most of her facial features as a light brown eye locked onto hers, as she stopped in mid stride.
"No. Im not Xena. My name is Luna." Her answer was cold. Gabrielle sensed right away that she ran into her friend once before. The woman moved over to the side bench with medicines and bandages. " How are you feeling? You head especially, headache?" Her voice was calm this time, showing concern.
" Not too bad I guess. My head still hurts, but nothing like before. No spinning, or blurred vision." She continued to watch herput together herbs in a bowl and mix some salve from the looks.
" I would like to change you bandages of your feeling up to it. Maybe a bath."
"Are you alright? You havent taken you cloak off?" Gabrielle was absent mindedly petting the dog when she noticed that Luna still had her winter gear on, and the cave was rather warm. "Im not sure if its me or its rather warm in here." Gabrielle watched as Luna looked up at the main fire pit but still couldnt make out her face.
"Chance, open the doors." She gave her furry friend a command. Chance barked once at her mistress padded over to a rope near the center of the pit. She grabbed it with her teeth and pulled until two little doors rose up a bit and the sounds of water filed into the cave.
Gabrielle watched this incredible task, as this rather large dog open two small flood gated to take down the flames a little. She watched as the animal held onto the rope until her mistress whistled to release the rope and the doors slide shut.
"There. Give it about half a candle or so and this room should be really nice."Luna answered an unasked question, not once looking up from her work. Gabrielle still wanted to see the woman behind the voice, and why she disliked Xena so much.
"Why dont you take your cloak off and stay awhile?" Gabrielle razzed her strange savior. Hoping to break the ice between them.
" People are afraid of the way I look." A light brown eye caught hers.
"You saved my life. I would like to see the person who saved it .please?" Gabrielle was being honest, yet she just had to see her. Her voice was stern, angry, and yet full of life and power. A lot like Xenas when shes thinking of a battle plan. Luna stopped what she was doing and pulled back her cloak, untied the front and placed it over the back of the nearest chair. Slowly she turned toward Gabrielle showing the olive skin, light brown hair and eye, begin to melt into a hideous being. Hair missing, scalp scared and melted, her right eye was filled with the fog of death. Gabrielle just sat there, not able to say one word. Except. "Thank you."
Luna was taken slightly off guard. "Your welcome. .. Can I change your bandages or not?" She cocked her head to one side and just looked at her, and why on earth was she sweating. Was it that hot in there? Gabrielle regarded her with a smile and a nod. Luna slowly turned around took up a tray and made her way over to Gabrielles cot. Luna pulled over a chair set the tray of medicines and bandages next to Gabrielle and started to unwrap her left shoulder. Gabrielle was able to look over Luna and notice the scares continued down her neck and her hands were lightly scared. Luna wore long sleeves and pants, apparently the scares ran very deep. Luna continued to clean her wound.
" Im not going to bandages you back up just yet. I figure if you were up to it you might want to take a bath. That knee needs to be soaked in warm water to work out any more swelling." Green eyes nail brown to the wall.
" Xena did this to you." It wasnt a question. It was a statement of fact. Luna couldnt take her eye off her; her whole body wanted nothing more then to slam her fist into her face for being to up-front. Lunas inside were screaming for revenge.
"Yes. We had a slight disagreement, and I lost." She casually replied.
" Ill tell you what. Lets get you bathed, feed and new bandages and after all that well see how your feeling. If you feel strong enough Ill tell you a story. If not it will wait until dinner." Luna was annoyed but knew the questions would repeat.
"Yes. You havent had a good bath since I first brought you here about 5 days ago, besides it will help to determine how much damage you did to your knee. Its not broken, but some damage was done. Anymore questions?" Luna was fighting the sensation of loosing her breakfast; the thought of Xena was just making her sick. The question was coming, she knew it.
Gabrielle sat there listening to this woman. This woman who must have once served Xena in her warlord days. She could feel the hate she has for Xena. Her thoughts turned toward her friend. Where is she? Oh my gods Xena. She must think Im dead, oh gods. Her eyes began to fill with tears. "Xena." She whispered. Luna looked up from here work to see the tears forming. For a moment she felt sorry for her, she does have feeling for Xena. How? How is this possible? Luna stood to change the water for cleaning, standing over the table mindless gathering items.
" I sent a friend to look for Xena I sent something of yours to show her you were alive."
Gabrielle looked over to Luna as she continued her work not missing a beat, wondering why. But all she could do was think of what Xena was going through.
"Thanks." Gabrielle looked off toward the meadows praying that Xena is all right. Xena please be safe I love you.
"Hot stew! Hot beef stew! Only 3 dinars!" A voice shouted above the crowd of people filling the streets of Frenzea. A decent size city that sits in a valley between two great nations. This is the last stop on the way to Neapolis. The streets were filled with fresh snow that fell early morning.
"Hey Bonner!?! Come out here and look at this." The tone was deep.
"What is it? Im a little busy doing my job here." The thin man shot back in the same direction the first voice came from. He was slowly adding coal to the blacksmith fire.
"I mean it. Come here, your gonna love this." Booner looks over to his buddy looking out the window of the shop like a little kid. Bonner shakes his head, tossed aside the shovel in disgust. Man what does this ass want now. What could be so.. Bonner stopped at what he saw. His eyes bugged out of his head in disbelief.
"Holy sheep shit Noah. It that?" He asked is amazement as he pointed to the rider coming into the city. A smile burned across Noahs face.
"Yup. Its Xena. Go over and let Verco know that someone special just road into town." Both men watched out the window as Xena moved toward another stable and Inn just down the road. Bonner was watching her, his brow creased as to notice how unkempt she was, not like the warrior princess he ran into a year ago.
"Did you get a good look at her?"
"Yea, MMm, Mmm finger lickin good, Booner. The Bitch is gonna pay." Booner looked over to his buddy and became disgusted all of a sudden.
"Ya know what Noah why dont you go tell Verco, I have customers waiting today." With no answer he walked back into his shop and left Noah standing by the window watching the warrior princess. Noah looked back slightly confused at his friends statement.
"Whatever." Turning away from the window tossing his cloak over his broad shoulders
as he walked out onto the streets of the city. Noah was a large mercenary man who could care less for law and order. Kill anyone at anytime. This was his motto. A real sweetheart to be around. "Oooo Verco is going to love this."
Bonner looked back over his shoulder to see if his friend was gone, looking down both streets and saw nothing. Nothing but the warrior princess at Brodys Inn. What happened to her. He thought as he looked around. Finally it hit him, no friend. Oh gods. No wonder.
Jasmine was running at a comfortable pace around the edge of the abyss. Then followed a thin trail to a main road. It was beginning to snow lightly as she continued to follow the sent her friend wanted her to find. It was confusing to Jasmine on why her friend wanted to follow a scent of a person she hated. Horses broke her thought as she bounced into the woods edge. Five men on horseback ran past her in a hurry. She waited a little while longer then proceeded down the road to the sent of food was in the air. Jasmine was hungry, having only stopped a few times for rest then continued on, she knew her little mission was important. So far both scent continued in the same direction. "Bro." Jasmine broke out into a slow trot.
What seemed like eternity the gates of the town were finally upon them. Not really caring if her friend was tired or not, damn she was. Slowly huffing and puffing as a gentle hand began to rub her neck softly with much needed apology.
"Im sorry Argo, well stop for a while." Argo snorted in acceptance of her mistress apology and that she was still alive up there. Xena shook her head a bit as she gathered her bearing, not really knowing where the hell she was. Last thing she remembers was hearing Crowl curse her names. Didnt matter, she needed to tend to Argo. The city was set off in sections of where your dinars will take you; Xena took the middle path. The small shops faded into a blur as she trotted down the narrow streets looking for a place to put her and Argo up of the night. Stopping at an Inn called Brodys, she dismounted and stopped at the sight of Gabrielles pack of scrolls.
Xena this is great! Where did you find this, Oh it perfect." Xena just leaned against the barn doors and watch her friend light up at her gift. Gabrielle kept wanting some type of bag she could carry her scrolls in, toss over her shoulder and have it outta of the way when walking. So when they passed through Amphipolis a few moons back, she just happened to give her uncle a special job, he ended up calling it a back-pac. Well she didnt care what it was called, just seeing Gabrielle so happy was enough for her.
Well Im glad you like it, you bitched about it enough.
I did not. I just didnt want you to forget, Ms. gotta have new leather stitch." Mocking her friends warrior tuffness, then she noticed the eyebrow go up. Xena flipped over her head and put her into a bear hug making Gabrielle squeak. She loves making her squeal like a little kid, besides it always turned into a nice long hug, like now.
Thank you, Xena, Came a muffled voice from her right shoulder.
Your welcome Gabrielle. Xena replied as she rested her chin on Gabbys head, still holding one another. Content.
"Hey! You alive." Xena slowly heard the voice as an older woman came at her. "Or are you going to stand there in the cold all night?" The hag snapped.
"Need shelter for myself and my friend." Xena replied, in a daze still able to feel Gabrielle next to her. "One night."
"Fine. Pick a stale and settle your horse you can pay me at the bar." The old hag retreated into the warm inn as she yelled back to Xena. "Names Maggie if ya need anything else."
"Come on Argo, let take care of you." Xena slowly turned Argo into the barn and took the last stall on the left. Big Barn. Xena looked around as she continued to take off the saddlebags and then the saddle. "Nice place. Big, dry. This is nice, huh girl." Large brown eyes regarded her as Argo put her head on Xenas shoulder to comfort her in the pain. Xena noticing the loving gesture from her friend, slowly rubs her neck, "I miss her too." Tears once again rise to the surface and fall.
"How long do I need to stay in here?" Gabrielle could feel her whole body relax into the warm spring water Luna was helping her in. Being able to float freely, took much added stress off her ribs and knee.
"About an hour. Try to bend and flex your knee slowly. You havent been able to move it in a few days and you dont want your knee to stay that way now do you?" Luna finished curtly. "Besides, I need to clean up and make something to eat. Just do what ya gotta do and Ill be back. Chance watch your friend."
"Why do you call her Chance?"
"Because when I found her there was a chance she would live and a chance she wouldnt. Thus her name. Chance." Luna finished the sentence as she continued toward the main hall outside. Chance and Gabrielle followed her till she was well out of sight down the hall. Gabrielle floats over to her furry friend sitting on the edge of the spring.
"Chance huh? Hi there. *scratching an ear* Your friend doesnt like to talk much does she, well well just have to see about that." Gabrielle moved over to the steps and seated herself for a bath. She tried to bend her knee and found it not too painful, just incredible tight from the swelling. "Well bathing is going to be fun, especially one handed." Her thoughts drifted off to the bath not long ago.
Gabrielle Im sorry." Xena kept repeating as she was helping her friend from choking. Xena goes to start a splash fight and almost drowns her best friend.Gods Im sorry."
Its okay Paybacks are a bitch. Warrior Princess." Gabrielle coughs and wheezes.
"Well guess I deserve at least one payback, dont I?" Xena answers, watching her friend face turn.
"What is that suppose to mean?"
"Nothing. Nothing at all. A grin began to grow, as well as the temp of the tub.
"Youre fibbing." Gabrielle moves closer once more, as there noses slightly touch. A heart skips a beat.
"Im a warrior, my honor forbids it." The grin grows, heart rate speeds up. Their bodies begin to touch one another as they float close to each other.
"Okay *grin* truth or dare??" Really big grin as she see Xenas eye bug out.
Gabrielles sucked in a breath as she felt Xenas arms slide around her waist and pull her into an embrace, a nice big, wet, naked embrace. Xenas eyes drilled into hers.
"Dare." She hissed.
"Hey guys, need anymore water."
"Ya know Chance I really hated Mina for that. I hope shes alright." Her heart was hurting so much just to think of what Xena is going through, thinks she is dead. "Gods Xena, please .please be okay." Her chest was aching from the heartache she has for Xena. Closing her eyes and willing for Xena to hear her thoughts. I love you Xena.
"Luna, we need to talk to you?" The sound of the voice startled Luna that she actually yelped out loud.
"What the hell are you doing Emery, sneaking up on me. Ass. What the hell do you want." She scolded him. Finally looking else where as the silence was broken by Emery.
"We heard you found a body in the river?"
"Yup." Luna continues to unload a wagon of grain sakes into the barn. Knowing very well she was pissing the bunch of them off. Emery and his city council, circle of jerks was more like it.
" Well who was it and are they dead or alive?" Patience was wearing thin.
"Why?" Another sack hit the ground. "Why the interest." Luna walked back toward the wagon to unhook Blue.
"Luna we just want to know who it was. We have reports that Xena is in the area." another man confessed. Luna looks over toward Emery who rolls his eyes in disgust at the honesty of one of his councilman.
"Well, well the truth comes out. Now why do you think this girl has anything to do with Xena."
"Everybody knows what Xena does do people. What she did here years ago, she is still wanted and the crimes she committed she must be brought to pay for them." Emery continues to raise the level of his voice. Blue snots at the sound, Luna starts coming unglued.
"What she did here .Ya know what I think?" Luna slowly looks over the 3 men around her. One young minded fool to look after the horses. The second was without a doubt Emerys lackey. Man in his mid twenties, who still has much to learn, and for Emery, well lets just say a man well versed in politics and bullshit. "I dont think you have any idea who this woman really is." Lunas hock the gate shut to Blues pen.
"No you have no ide.." Emerys voice was quickly cut off. Luna who was forcing him back against the wagon griped his throat. Thud!
"I, have no idea Look at my face Emery." Lunas words were cold. Emery looked up at Luna. One brown, one white. Once what he could tell, was a very beautiful woman. A woman now scared for life, half of her face looked melted, a sight most people cannot look at.
" I think Ive got a much better idea who Xena is then you old man. That bitch took away my life because I disagreed with her, Poof. So if Xena was around here. Id kill her or anyone that was with her, got that Emery." All the man could do was shake his head and choke. Luna let him go and backed away shaking her head at this man the people call in the village, wise.
"Now get off my land. Next time Ill send the dogs after you. Get lost." With that said Luna retreated to the barn to finish her chores.
Emery and his friend mounted and turned back to the village.
" I know shes hiding something, and I will find out what." He stated to anyone who cared and he didnt care whom. Slowly the sound of retreating horses grew quiet.
Slowly melting into the sunlight Luna made her way across the barn and out the back into another small building. Closing the door behind her, she moved over to a large cabinet and opened the doors, revealing many hand weapons of choice. Every knife perfect, sharp, every sword perfect balance, every ax ready to use. Lightly scared hands reach for a broad sword, with loving care then removed it from its home. Sunlight was raining in through the shuttered window that reflected off the blade onto her face. Eyes were focused on the blades edge, knowing how razor sharp it was, her muscles flexed as her heart began to beat hard. A smile formed.
"Come on Xena, come to me I have a score to settle with you."