A Good Day
The Warrior Princess squared her shoulders, her blue eyes coldly settle on a pair of Roman soldiers, brandishing their swords in her direction. With a snarl she is upon them, quickly disarming one and skewering the second. As the first soldier lunges forward, she grabbed him by the shoulders and cracked his forehead with her own. He went down like a rock.
Xena looked up, momentarily dazed, and squinted through the black smoke, trying to find Gabrielle. Another soldier barrels down upon her, spear at the ready. She dodged him at the last moment and then grabbed the spear as he flew by. Using the end to apply a nasty upper cut, Xena then turned the weapon upon him and brutally thrust it into his chest, through his armour, pinning him to the ground.
Her eyes were cold as she barely registered his life blood soaking the ground beneath him. The sounds of the wounded and dying filled her ears and she madly looked around, trying to catch a glimpse of....
With the shouts of men in anger and fear, the bard wasn't sure at first whether she'd heard her name being called or not. She turned slowly, dodging the swing of a sword, countering with a two handed blow of her staff. As the man went down, Gabrielle turned, and putting her hand up to shield her eyes, finally saw the warrior, surrounded by four soldiers. Each one is going full tilt towards Xena, swords and spears at the ready.
Although she couldn't possibly hear, Gabrielle is sure by the feral look on Xena's face, that she is laughing evilly. The bard arched her neck as Xena went down under the onslaught - only to reappear moments later, a gash on her right cheek and arm, covered in blood and dirt but still grinning. Only two of the soldiers had enough energy to crawl slowly away to die elsewhere.
Gabrielle watched in horror as their friend Flannigus held his sword up high in triumph, having beaten off a score of Roman soldiers. He is clubbed from behind and goes down. Gabrielle can see that unless she does something, unless she stops the Roman soldier's senseless action, Flannigus will die. Horribly. She looks about for something, anything, and finding a spear, hefts it high and then with a brief hesitation, hurls it in their general direction.
The spear seems to have a will of its own and falls uselessly into a mound of dirt, not even close to wear the deadly action plays out. The bard is helpless to do more than watch as a spear is shoved into the chest of her friend. As her mouth hangs open in shock, an arrow sprouts from the Roman's chest and he falls to his knees before toppling over dead. Gabrielle sees with disbelief that it was Temecula, the young unproven archer that has shot the arrow, losing his blood innocence. Because she couldn't....she wouldn't. Covering her mouth, she ran towards the crumpled body of Flannigus, hoping that perhaps his wounds were not as terrible as she thought.
Dodging wounded soldiers, broken bodies and the weapons of war, Gabrielle finally throws herself down over the body of Flannigus. She held his head as the man's life just seems to seep out of his damaged body.
Gabrielle is hit with the full horror of war at that one moment. All the fear, the horror...the fact that she had lead mere farmers against the elite soldier's of both Pompeii and Caesar to certain death; that she and Xena had helped torch a village only to stop the advancing Roman army from procuring any supplies, burning down both material goods but memories as well; that because of her inability to do the right thing, to prevent a friend's death, his blood was now on her hands.
She grabbed the body close and shook it, as if by her mere force of will she could undo the horrible realities of war. She screamed to the heavens, her face contorting in rage and suffering, tears coursing down her dirty and tired face.
Not even acknowledging the presence beside her, she barely felt the blue eyes of Xena wash over her in sorrow and remorse. Then she was taken into a fierce embrace and soft low nonsensical words were rushing by her ears.
Everthing seemed to conspire against her right then: the embrace holding her together, letting her fall apart; the rocking motion that seemed to center her once more; and finally, the soft kiss on her temple as the Warrior Princess bestowed the final blow that would undo everything...letting her soul fly far, far away. Away from the horror, the death, the senselessness of it all.
Xena held her love closer still as she felt the hot tears fall over the front of her Roman tunic. Her red rimmed eyes glistened as she felt the sobs racking her friends small body. And all she could do was bare witness to it all, knowing that somehow Gabrielle would have to make sense of it, analyse it and then decide what to endure and what could be put away for another time when nightmares haunted her sleep.
Copyrighted by ArdentTly, October 1998
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