Disclaimers - The following story uses characters owned by MCA/Universal and thus Im not sure anything I write can belong to anyone but them but since Im doing this for fun and no monetary profit, Im not sure it matters. This story does contain certain scenes of violence but nothing beyond anything youd see on television .... Lets make that beyond anything youd see on the Xena television show. Though not graphically sexual on the whole, there are same- gender love scenes in here and if you have a problem, then its best you not go on. Though if you got over this silly prejudice, you would find a heck of a lot of good fiction out there.
Authors Note: This story is based on the episode, Remember Nothing. However, in my world, the episode happened after A Necessary Evil and before A Day In The Life. (I just thought it would be more interesting that way) It is inspired by the Discussion that takes place over at Whoosh which was printed at the end of their review of this episode. It raised some intriguing questions that I thought would be fun to address in a story. Such as, what if the world Xena had found had been slightly different and the decision she makes at the end, even more difficult than it had been. Suppose it hadnt just been Lyceus she was destroying, but a happy and content Callisto and a competent and strong Gabrielle. Could she make the same decision even if it meant living the life of an innkeeper married to (gulp) Maphias? No adventure, no Gabrielle in her life? What would she decide then? - Gina
Nothing Remembered by G. L. Dartt
Numbly, the statuesque dark-haired warrior looked down at the young face that stared unseeing at a sky that arched overhead uncaringly. A sick weariness spread throughout her as she dropped the sword stained crimson onto the grass, her deep blue eyes dark with one horror too many. It didnt matter that he had attacked her and her companion, Gabrielle, moments before along with a group of outlaws. This was just too much. When the bard had cried out to her, warning her to watch behind, she had reacted instinctively, thrusting her sword decisively to kill her foe. Except then the hood had come lose and rolled away as he hit the ground and she saw for the first time how very young he was. The blond fair features were so much like her brother, so much like Lyceus. Blindly she stumbled to the temple, ignoring Gabrielle questioning Xena? as she entered and leaned weakly against the inner door. She wasnt aware of the glow right away, but when it coalesced to reveal three women, one old, one in full womanhood, the third young and virginal, she was forced to take notice. She instantly recognized the three faces of fate, the Maiden, Clotho, the Mother, Lachesis, and the Crone, Atropos, to whom she had been praying prior to the attack and to whom this temple belonged. Xena, they said as one. You know us? Everyone knows the faces of fate, Xena replied without enthusiasm. Gods were something she could easily do without. But few glimpse them, Clotho said quietly. And fewer still incur out debt, Lachesis added. You saved out temple, Atropos went on. Name your reward. If its ours to bestow, its yours. Reward? For what? Killing a boy barely out of his childhood? the warrior princess answered bitterly. I dont want a reward. I want that boy alive again. By the gods, I wish Id never followed the sword in the first place. The Fates shared a look. So be it, Atropos said. All shall be restored. What? Xena asked with surprise and a dawning hope. You mean you can bring him back? All is restored, the maternal woman said kindly, then raised a hand to forestall Xenas reaction. Until the first time you draw blood in anger. Xena stopped. I dont understand. Clotho stepped forward. Spill so much as a drop of blood in rage, and everything changes back. But Im a warrior, Xena said, bewildered. How can I obey that? As a warrior, Atropos said deliberately. You cant. She nodded to the Clotho who reached out to strum the strings that represented all lives in all times in all dimensions, as all three faded from sight. The other two did not notice the maidens slight hesitation. Clothos heart had gone out to the warrior princess and she was well aware that this all was just a ploy to show Xena that her original choices in life, though hard at times, were really the best for her and the rest of the world. Xena was to be sent to a dimension where she would discover a world where her brother lived, true, but her mother died and her friend was desperately unhappy and destined for a miserable life. The Maiden, in all her youth, considered that unfair. So when she plucked the string it was next to the one she was supposed to. Why shouldnt Xena find happiness in a world where all her loves were happy. And so, the plan was altered.
Xena could scarce believe it. It was more than she had dreamed possible. When she left the temple, it disappeared, along with her armor which was replaced with a simple dress. Outside, the bodies of her attackers and Gabrielle were no where to be found and then from the bushes, Lyceus had appeared, hale and hearty, eleven years older, a young man in the prime of his life. As he walked her back to the inn where her mother scolded her for being out so close to dark, Xena had been struck almost dumb with the sheer joy of being in his presence again. It wasnt perfect. In this life, her and her brother had run from Cortese and their village had been subjugated by him but the warlord had gone on to bigger and better things, leaving Amphipolis under the more benevolent rule of a lieutenant. The village had become somewhat of a important crossroads in the minor empire Cortese had created and it prospered from the traffic that came here for supplies. Of course, a lot of the traffic consisted of soldiers, much the sort that had rode in her army and it wasnt safe for any young maidens to be about after dusk. Slavery was accepted rather than being a crime and unscrupulous men made a habit of doing business here, but generally things were no better or no worse than a lot of other towns. And Xena had her brother back. More importantly, she had never taken up the sword, the darkness had never consumed her and the warrior princess had never existed. She was somewhat disconcerted however, to discover she had a fianc of some eleven years. Maphias was a boy she had dabbled with in her youth and she barely remembered him. Apparently here, he had captured her heart and both he and her mother were constant in their pressure for her to set a wedding date. Not to mention for her to start popping out grandchildren. She didnt know how much longer she could hold this combined attack off. Most of the time, though, she delighted with being with her family, her semi-charming if somewhat provincial betrothed and simply doing good honest work in the inn. No warlords attacking her, no constant pressure to protect herself and Gabrielle. She did miss her friend but she contented herself with the thought that the bard was probably married somewhere, with a large brood of babies and a loving husband. A month passed before that happy assumption was shattered. Xena had been sent to the market to pick up chickens for that nights supper. When she entered the general store, she discovered the store partially trashed and a dirty, unkept man pinning the old storekeeper to the wall menacingly. Were here to place an order, he was snarling. Two wagon loads of food and hay, delivered by midday tomorrow. That a problem? No, but Ill need some dinars in good faith, he said, bruised but not bowed. The man drew a knife and pressed it against the throat. You wanna see some good faith? Start praying. And if I spare you, thats as good as it gets. He waved his knife around for emphases. Then suddenly his feet were drawn out from under him, and he crashed to the floor. The storekeeper rubbed his neck, looked up to see the innkeepers girl, Xena holding the edge of the carpet shed just pulled out from under him. An innocent expression was plastered on her face, which certainly did not fool the old storekeeper who suppressed a grin, as she hurried to the fallen mans aid. Im so sorry, she said as she helped him up, using every ounce of her not inconsiderable charm to dazzle him. I was just checking the price of this rug. Are you alright? Guess I dont know my own strength. Can you forgive me? Next time, watch what youre doing. Someone could get hurt, he said, grudgingly. He was embarrassed but he knew he had no authority to harm citizens at random so he had to let it go. He frowned as he turned back to his two companions. Well, just dont stand there. Bring the slaves in to fetch dinner, he barked angrily. Xena frowned as he and his minions went outside and the storekeeper began to straighten up a bit. She was startled as a woman dressed as a peasant girl suddenly appeared next to her. Quick thinking, the woman said approvingly. Thanks, Xena replied slowly as she recognized the youngest Fate, Clotho. Guess youll be doing quite a lot of that, the Maiden said. She turned calm eyes on the tall, dark-haired woman. Unless youve had enough of the quiet life. If so, you know the remedy. I do, Xena replied. She frowned again as she studied the Fate. Clotho seemed uncomfortable, as if she were doing something she didnt wish to do but was obligated to by some higher power. Which in fact, she was, though Xena had no way of knowing that. The young Fate had gotten into a great deal of trouble by altering the plan. Clotho had been sent to make sure Xena returned to her own world, her own life though of course, it had to be the mortals choice freely made. Clothos continued existence as the Maiden depended on it. It took a month just to find the mortal and the other two made it very clear that she was living on borrowed time. They were already looking at replacements. Who knew that a momentary lapse of judgement would cause such aggravation? Xena shook her head. Im through with fighting, she said. And nothings gonna change that. I never meant this to happen. I only wanted the boys life back. Instead, Ive been given a new chance for life too. She hesitated, then grew determined. And Im gonna take it. The hardest part is losing Gabrielle. I wish she was here, sharing this new world with me. But it helps, knowing in this life, I never shamed mother, that Gabrielle never left her family to follow me. That I never led Lyceus to die in battle. Its like Xena, Warrior Princess never existed. And I know the worlds a better place without her. Is it indeed? Clotho said cryptically. The commotion at the door heralded the arrival of the slave boss and his slaves who were directed to gather the supplies. Xena froze in horror. Chained and dirty, one of the slaves held tightly by the Slave Boss was all too familiar, the long reddish-blond hair, the green eyes that adorned that achingly recognized face. Gabrielle. Instinctively, Xena started towards her friend, unaware that Clotho had faded from sight but was continuing to watch with interest. The slave looked up to see the tall, imposing woman striding purposely towards her and startled, she backed up. Directly into the Slave Boss, accidently stomping on his foot. Muttering a curse, he shoved her furiously to the floor, drawing out the wooden baton at his belt. Ill teach you to watch where youre going, he bellowed as he raised it high to beat the woman cringing at his feet. Without thinking, Xena imposed herself between Gabrielle and the baton, catching the wooden stick. Dont touch her, she snapped. I wont let you beat her. Wont let me? he howled, incensed. Then by the gods, youll take her place. However, her grip was like steel and he was unable to wrench the baton from her. For a long moment they remained that way, Xena fixed and unmoving as the Slave Boss shook with rage and effort. Then from the doorway, a voice interrupted the tableau. Wait...stop, I can explain. Both Xena and the Slave Boss looked up to see Maphias approaching quickly. Scowling, the Slave Boss wrenched free from the woman as the young man deftly separated the two combatants. Its all a misunderstanding. Right, darling? Maphias said as Xena stared at him, nonplused. He turned quickly to her fuming opponent. You see, were getting married soon, which means were in the market for a house slave. Isnt that so, sweetheart? Without giving her time to answer, he continued. And shes right, this girl would be perfect. But if Ive told her once, Ive told her a thousand times: ask before you examine the goods. Isnt that true, my love? Finally catching where this was going, Xena managed to nod. Yes...yes it is, she said, trying not to show her distaste. How much for this one. The Slave Boss eyed her coldly, a little gleam of pleasure stirring his greasy features as he was able to deny her. Forget it. Mezentius just got her. He hasnt gotten his...use of her yet to sell her though you might want to take it up with him, he said. Mezentius? Xena responded, appalled. She recognized the name of the arms dealer who she had killed when she had first been reunited with Marcus. But of course, in this life, she hadnt killed him. Or met Marcus for that matter. One of the slave herders chose that moment to interrupt, informing his boss that they were ready to go. The Slave Boss nodded. Right, load everyone into the wagon, he said. He glared down at Gabrielle who was still crouched on the floor, jerking on the chain attached to the neck collar. Get up you worthless slag. Xena caught a flash of green eyes darted her way as Gabrielle rose and fled, adroitly dodging the kick he directed at her as he followed her outside. Xena started after them but Maphias restrained her, quickly hustling her into a storage room before she was able to shake him off. Let go, she said furiously. Hes taking her away. What do you think youre doing anyway? Saving your neck, he snapped back, angry from the aftermath of the confrontation and the fear for her. Whats gotten into you? Lyceus is worried and so am I. Thats why Im here. Xena bristled. Lyceus sent you? Good thing he did too, he replied. He took her by the arms, worry replacing the anger in his eyes as he looked at her. Xena, your mothers worried too. Youve been acting so strangely the last month. I thought it had to do with us pressuring you about the wedding. But this is crazy. What were you doing interfering like that? Xena, disturbed that apparently she had not been putting up as good a facade as she thought, calmed slightly. I wasnt interfering. I was saving a frie...a girl from being beaten. She was a slave, he objected. The way youre acting, youd think it was a crime. It is, she blurted, then amended. It should be. Dont give me that argument again, he responded, torn between love and frustration. Its very generous and noble, but youve got to learn to get along. Thats how the world works. He softened and hugged her. Listen, Ill talk to your mother, get her to lay off a little. And I promise to be more patient. Remember, its enough for us to find our life together. You cant change the world, Xena. No matter what you think. He kissed her gently and left her to gather herself. Xena was shaking in helpless anger as Clotho once more reappeared beside her. Love those pre-wedding jitters, she offered pleasantly, smiling at the glare Xena shot her, and added more gently. Hes wrong, you know. One person can make a difference, can change the world. You did it. One drop of blood, and it will all be as it was. Xena shook her head violently. No, she replied shortly. Things arent perfect here, but they werent perfect in my world either. I wont take my brothers life away from him. Not again. And Gabrielle? What about her life? Xena frowned but did not alter the stubborn set to her mouth. I can change that, she stated positively. All I have to do is free her and Gabrielle will be fine. You sound very sure, Clotho warned. But as you said, things are different here...people too. Xena smiled confidently. Were talking about Gabrielle, she said. How different could she be?
End of Part One
Disclaimers - The following story uses characters owned by MCA/Universal and Renaissance Productions. There is one little ol sex scene between two women (minor) and some violence.
Nothing Remembered by G. L. Dartt
The next day, clinging to the bottom of the supply wagon from the general store, Xena snuck into the castle, cautiously making her way to the kitchen. There she found the Slave Boss and a group of slaves which were hard at work preparing dinner and unloading the supplies. She lurked in mead storage room until Gabrielle moved to drop her load of wood by the fireplace beside the door. Swift as a striking snake, Xena reached out and grabbed her, clamping her hand over the red-heads mouth as she jerked her into the room. Gabrielle made a brief resistance, then suddenly relaxed as she saw Xena who signaled her to be quiet. The room was filled with large barrels of mead and the dark-haired woman drew her deeper into the shadows. Dont worry, its me, Xena said, removing her hand from the smaller womans face. Gabrielle looked confused. I see that, she said coldly. Boy, you must really want a house slave, lady. Xena forced herself to remember that here, Gabrielle had no idea who she was. Ive come to get you out, she instructed, going over to check the door. As soon as its clear, we make our move. And stick close, the timing is everything. Gabrielle was watching her back, an incredulous expression on her face. Are you crazy? she said. The only place Im going is back to work before someone notices Im gone. No, wait, Xena said, inserting her body between Gabrielle and the door. Why? the red-head said in sudden anger, pulling away abruptly. You know what they do with runaway slaves. You ever see it? She pulled off the shoulder of her blouse, displaying scars of lashes, imbedded in her skin. To Xenas experienced eyes, she judged them to be years old. Dear gods, how long had Gabrielle been a slave? Horror and devastation threatened to overwhelm her. She had believed that the bard had just been captured. Oh, Gabrielle, she whispered. Im so sorry. Gabrielle whirled, eyes narrowed as she quickly pulled up her blouse. How did you know my name, she asked sharply. Suddenly her face was no longer shaded with fear and submissiveness. Now it was as stone, cold, professional. Who are you? Why are you doing all this? Xena could not meet her eyes, wracked with guilt and knowing she had no way of explaining to her. My name is Xena, she said. I just want to help you. My brother, Lyceus and I can hide you until its safe. Lyceus? The same Lyceus who stood off Cortese? she asked alertly. She frowned, looked around. Do you have a plan? Xena, a little taken aback at the sudden shift, nodded. Yeah, I do, she said. But youll have to do exactly as I say. Lets hear the plan first, Gabrielle responded. As plans went, it wasnt bad and with a minimum of fuss and fighting, Gabrielle and Xena soon found themselves launched up a chimney and down into the waiting hay of a wagon leaving the castle. Beats taking the stairs, Xena smirked. Right, Gabrielle looked askant at her companion, wondering if this hadnt been a mistake after all.
Gabrielle looked out the window in Xenas room at the inn. The escape from the castle had been handled quite well, all things considered and she was suitable impressed by the young woman who had saved her. The moves were incredible, Amazonian in their execution and she though that maybe things would work out after all. The sound of the door opening made her turn and she saw Xena enter, followed by an older woman. The family resemblance was uncanny and Gabrielle knew that this must be Xenas mother. Hello, Gabrielle, the woman said kindly. You look to be about my size so I brought you these. She handed Gabrielle some clothes and exchanged a significant look with her daughter before leaving. Apparently she wasnt pleased with her daughter but was going to remain silent. Gabrielle held the delicate blouse and skirt gingerly, wishing it were armor instead and tried to look suitably grateful. Xena smiled. Theres a bath drawn in the changing room, she informed her. She turned to go but Gabrielle forestalled her. Why are you doing this? she said. I know what you said about wanting to help me, but if theres one thing Ive learned, its that mostly everyones out for themselves. So whats in it for you? You want me to join this little resistance you and your brother have going? No, Xena frowned, confused. She didnt know they had a resistance. At the look of skepticism on the smaller womans face, she added. But youre right, there is a reason Im doing this. The truth is, you remind me of my best friend. Whatever Gabrielle had been expecting, it wasnt this. I do? Xena nodded, looked at her with such an expression of pure unadulterated love that the red-heads breath caught in her throat. I look at you, and I see the purest, kindest person Ive ever known, the tall woman said. Someone whos full of wonder, and stories and never gives up on anything...or anyone. Are you sure you rescued the right person, Gabrielle tried to inject a note of reality here. Cause that sure doesnt describe me. But it could, Xena said. She put her hand on the red-heads shoulder briefly before she exited. Gabrielle looked after her, dumbfounded, then shaking her head, she went into the other room where a tub steamed slightly. Well, at least, this much she was truly grateful for and she entered the tub with a groan of satisfaction, washing away the grime she accumulated while on the slave chain. She dressed in the clothes Xenas mother had given her and went out into the main dining room of the inn. There she found Xena, her brother and their mother sitting around a table. She frowned as she noted the absence of the other man, what was his name. Maphias. That was it. Wheres your boyfriend? she asked. Xena looked up in surprise, then around as if she had just now noticed him gone. Real close relationship there, Gabrielle thought wryly. He left a while ago, Xenas mother piped up. He said he had something to do. Gabrielle narrowed her eyes. She didnt like the sound of that but she wasnt sure why. Then she noticed the goofy look on Lyceuss face as he gazed at her. He leaped to his feet and offered her a chair, all the while staring at her as if she had taken his heart, which in fact, she had the moment she walked in the room. She shot a look at Xena who was regarding them both fondly and at the mother who was suddenly eyeing her with that look mothers get when their son suddenly had another woman in his life. Un huh, she mused. Been there, done that, aint going there again. Best to nip this right in the bud. Dont even think about it, farm boy, she hissed as he sat down next to her. She favored him with a steel-eyed glance and looked back at the other two who clearly, she had shocked. So whats the plan here, she said. Mezentius isnt the only warlord in town you know. Theodoris is also here and Krykus is on his way. Theyre planning to team up to attack Cortese and while I certainly got no love for him, a lot of people will die if we dont stop it right here. Theyve already killed the mayor of this little burg though clearly that hasnt gotten out to the general public. So whats your arms strength and how many can we count on to... Her voice trailed off as she realized they were all looking at her as if she had grown an extra head. Theodoris? Xena echoed weakly. Krykus? Lyceus queried. Isnt he the guy that attacked the Amazons and lost his whole army to the Amazon Princess and the Queen of Thieves? Gabrielle sat frozen. She suddenly realized that she had quite possibly made a dread mistake here. Waitaminute, she said, glaring at Xena accusingly. I thought you recognized me. Thats why I went along with your crazy escape plan. I figured if you had recognized me and if Lyceus was your brother, that you knew all about the warlords, that you had some kind of underground movement to fight with. Why else would you break my cover? Cover? Xena was really confused now. This woman before her was no longer acting like a frightened slave, or for that matter, like her Gabrielle. In fact, she was acting like....well, rather like Xena used to. A furtive knock at the door made them all start and Lyceus leaped to his feet. Dont worry, he said reassuringly to Gabrielle. It must be Maphias. You met him earlier, remember? He opened the door and Maphias entered. Behind him was a troop of Mezentiuss guards who quickly deployed, grabbing all the people in the room. Its all right, Maphias explained tersely. They just want the slave. I made a deal: we give her back, they leave us alone, no problems. Then he noticed as they took all the people, holding them at sword point. Hey, whatre you doing? We have a deal! Deals changed, the head guard said shortly as two others grabbed Maphias. Lyceus exploded, ramming his elbows into the two guards holding him, seizing their swords, one of which he tossed to Xena. To his amazement, Xena made no move to catch it and it clattered to the floor harmlessly. Shocked, he was quickly overwhelmed by the rest of the troops and Gabrielle watched the pained expression come over the dark- haired womans face. The red-head was totally boggled by all of this. This was rapidly becoming a comedy of errors that she would find remarkably funny if she hadnt been so involved. What was it with these people anyway? Two double-crosses in the space of ten seconds. Amazing. One of the windows suddenly exploded inward and a black clad figure flipped through, executed a mid-air somersault and landed on a table. Knee high leather boots with silver decorative designs thumped loudly as dual swords cut intricate patterns through the air with deadly intent. An imperious woman with long blond hair that flowed wildly about elven features grinned wickedly at all concerned as they gaped up at her in total shock. Except for one who thought it was about time her partner showed up. Hey boys, is this a private party? Callisto, Queen of Thieves chortled. Or can anyone join?
Xena found herself thrust back against her mother and she had her hands full grabbing the older woman to prevent her from falling. She hustled her to stand against the wall and stood in front of her protectively as she turned back to the melee that had broken out. She goggled at the supposed slave who was flipping through the air to land behind the new woman, the two standing back to back as Callisto handed Gabrielle the extra sword. About bloody time you got here, Xena heard Gabrielle snort as she skillfully dispatched a guard who had lunged at her, slashing across his chest with efficient deadliness. Well, excuse me, Amazon Princess, Callisto returned mockingly. But I dont remember you explaining this part. I hate when you change a plan. Youre always doing that. A perfectly good plan and you just start improvising. Hey, you got to be flexible, Gabrielle returned and met the charge of two other troopers which she cut down quickly. Nice outfit, Callisto retorted feebly before flipping away to down a trio rushing from the other side. Xena felt a sick weakness overwhelm her. No blood innocent in this world, Gabrielle was extremely competent with the sword and the feral grin the red-head wore would have been familiar if Xena had ever seen her own expression in a fight. Xena found herself standing by helplessly as she watched the two women quickly and thoroughly demolished the squad though Lyceus did managed to take care of a couple himself. Maphias stumbled over to her, trying to protect her which was not necessary as the last trooper fell, the head guard hitting the floor with a crash under the booted kick of Callisto. The silence seemed almost to ring, then Lyceus stepped forward, looking at the two women in something akin to awe. It is you, isnt it, he said. Youre Gabrielle, Amazon Princess. And her sidekick, Callisto, Queen of Thieves. Sidekick? The blond frowned at him warningly. She darted a look at her partner. What have you been telling them? Believe me, Gabrielle snorted. These people are making it up as they go along. What are you doing here? he said, clearly suffering from a bad case of hero worship. Gabrielle furrowed her brow. No cringing slave, no happy-go-lucky bard, this woman was a competent warrior who casually wiped the blood from her blade with the tail of her skirt. Xenas mothers skirt. She took the sheathe Callisto handed her and slipped it over her shoulder, sliding the sword into it with a metallic rasp. I was here to break up Mezentiuss little party, she said shortly. Until you people screwed it all up. She looked at Callisto. Krykus is coming. Callisto nodded thoughtfully. I thought he wouldve given up on the warlord biz after the last time. Scum like that arent smart enough to, Gabrielle said. He got away with his skin at the battle with the Amazons. I wont make that mistake again, she added with determined coldness. She strode confidently out of the room, turning back at the door as Callisto hesitated. The slender blond gestured to the others. Hey, what about these guys? she asked. Mezentius is sure to send out another squad when this one doesnt come back. I doubt that theyll be treated too well. Gabrielle looked at them with utter disgust which gave Xena a distinct chill. She had never felt so unsure of her life. Gabrielle wasnt Gabrielle. Callisto who was showing compassion for bystanders, certainly wasnt Callisto. And Xena herself, standing on the sidelines during a fight, definitely wasnt herself. All right, Gabrielle decided. Well have to take them with us. Is the cave still secure? Callisto nodded and the next thing Xena knew, they were being herded out of the inn and out into the courtyard where horses waited. Including a golden palomino with a snow white mane and tail which made her heart leap. With a glad cry, Xena ran forward and mounted eagerly. Instantly she was flying through the air and thudding to the ground with a bone crushing whomp as Argo promptly and unexpectedly bucked her off. Hey, thats my horse, Gabrielle snarled down at Xena who lay gasping helplessly on her back on the cobblestones, the wind knocked out of her. Take another one. The Amazon Princess executed a flip and landed in the saddle, reining Argo around with comfortable skill. Well, you got a good eye for horses, Callisto said kindly as she stopped to help Xena up. But Argo doesnt let anyone ride her but Gabrielle. Xena found herself pushed towards one of the guards animals before Callisto mounted a big black gelding, the saddle bright with silver inlay which matched the ornate bridle. It was a striking complement to the black leather vest and leggings decorated with silver studs and metal buckles. In this world, Callisto certainly made a habit of being showy. The group galloped out of the courtyard and took to the hills, Xena taking up the rear on a small bay mare as she tried to wrap her mind around everything that had happened in the last day. Bruised, bemused and baffled, she could only try to keep up and wonder what was going to happen next.
End of Part Two
Disclaimers - The following story uses characters owned by MCA/Universal and Renaissance Productions. There is one little ol sex scene between two women (minor) and some violence.
Nothing Remembered by G. L. Dartt
The cave was large and full of assorted boxes and barrels. The two women warriors had been systematically raiding supply trains to Amphipolis in an effort to slow down the warlords. When that didnt seem to work, Gabrielle had come up with the plan to disguise herself as a slave and had herself sold to Mezentius in the hopes of getting close enough to finish the warlord. That was before she had discovered the accord between the three warlords and their plan to kill Cortese. Not to mention Xenas rescue. Now they had to fall back and come up with another plan for themselves. They were all seated around a large campfire, Callisto providing some bedding and food for the refugees. Xena sat cross legged next to her mother who seemed in a state of shock at the whole thing. Whats going to happen to the inn? she asked for the hundredth time. Xena put a comforting arm around her. Itll be all right, mama, she reassured. Why dont you lie down and get some sleep. This time her mother took the advice and lay down on the bedroll laid out by the fire, Xena gently covering her with a thick warm blanket. Xena looked over at where Maphias huddled against the wall of the cave, as far away from the rest as he could get, wracked with guilt and shame. Xena sighed, she didnt know how to handle this. She knew he had just been trying to help but she was still very angry at him. Not for the first time, she wished Gabrielle was here. Her Gabrielle, the bard, the loving friend who did all the sensitive chats as the redhead had called them. Lyceus sat on the far side of the fire beside Callisto, asking the blond an endless stream of questions about various battles she had been in. Callisto answered graciously, not showing any sign of impatience or annoyance at the obvious hero worship. Xena could not help but marvel at this incarnation of her long-time foe. Was this how Callisto was always meant to be? The lanky, good-natured blond who clearly adored her warrior partner and who seized life with a happy enthusiasm no matter how bad the odds? Is this what Xena destroyed when her army rode into Cirra? She shifted her gaze to Gabrielle. The red-head had changed from the peasant clothes to her armor, brownish body hugging leather and metal making up the breastplate and loincloth clearly Amazonian in design. She was sharpening her sword with skilled patience, putting a keen edge on the blade, looking up only occasionally to bestow a fond look on Callisto when she thought no one was looking. Xena felt like a little kid standing outside a sweet shop with no money and no hope of any. Xena cleared her throat, breaking into the conversation between her brother and Callisto. Un, is there a king of thieves? she asked, wondering about her friend, Autolycus. She thought a shadow passed over those elegant features before Callisto smiled wryly. Oh yeah, once upon a time. He was bold as brass, handsome as all outdoors and smooth as a babys bottom, she said with bittersweet remembrance. Autolycus rode into my little village and just swept me off my feet. Taught me everything I know. She added with a impish grin at her partner, and a not so subtle nudge. And I do mean everything. Gabrielle snorted and concentrated on her sword. Lyceus was fascinated. What happened to him? Callisto shrugged. Broke his number one rule, she said, the smile faltering. He always told me, Calli-girl, steal for fun, steal for challenge and steal cos its there, but dont ever steal out of greed. Then he got involved with a group of lowlifes in pursuit of some ambrosia and they all got themselves killed. He wasnt satisfied with being a king, he wanted to be the god of thieves. He was right, theres no profit stealing for greed. So you took over the mantle, Xena said evenly, morning the charming rogue who had been so helpful in helping return her to her body. At least, in that other life. Callisto grinned. Yeah, my mamas so embarrassed, she said. We should go visit her after this, Gabrielle offered suddenly as she sheathed her sword and replaced the stone in her belt pouch. Its been awhile. Oh, you think shes forgiven you by now? Callisto shot her an impish grin. Gabrielle reddened and looked uncomfortable. Was it my fault Cassiope took so well to Perdicus? You introduced them, Callisto reminded her partner teasingly. Just cos you didnt want to marry him didnt mean you had to foist him off on my sister. They make a nice couple, Gabrielle objected weakly. Maybe, Callisto allowed. But he sure is dull. Cassiopes gonna regret it and mama knows it. I just hope Cassiope realizes it before she actually marries him. Well, you know, it could have been worse, Gabrielle noted with a sudden wry grin. I couldve introduced Joxer to her. Callisto winced visibly. Shed have gone for him, too, she said in a disgusted tone. Poor mama. Two daughters, one who has no taste in men and the other one cant keep her hands off other peoples property. Even though I am the absolute best at it. She laughed, turning back to Xena. Though apparently you did a pretty good job at liberating Gabrielle. Xena actually blushed and felt Gabrielles glare burning into her. Yeah, screwing up a perfectly good plan, the Amazon Princess said acidly. Stung, Xena responded without thinking. I thought you were a slave, she said. You certainly fooled me. Were the scars fake too? No, Gabrielle said flatly. They werent. Without expression, she got to her feet and left the comforting ring of firelight. The was an terse pause, then Callisto leaned over and put a comforting hand on Xenas arm. This whole thing has been harder on her than she likes to let on, she said apologetically. You see, when Poteidaia was burned by Draco, Gabrielle and the few other survivors were sold into slavery. It took her a few years to make a successful escape and the times that werent successful, she paid for dearly. Thats where the scars on her back came from. Finally though, she was able to take refuge with the Amazons, became their princess and they helped her learn how to never be a slave again. I didnt think this plan was a good idea, but she was so sure she could handle it. Obviously she isnt handling it as well as she hoped. Xena looked back in utter despair. Her family? All killed? she whispered. Callisto nodded sadly. She had two sisters, she informed her. But she got Draco. Thats when I met her. He was trying to take Cirra as well. She took out his whole army. And she got him finally. Hunted him down like a dog and slit him open. Good for her, Lyceus spouted. Xena looked at her brother with active dislike as she got to her feet. I gotta talk to her, she mumbled. Make it better. Callisto stopped her with a hand on her arm, looking at her quizzically. I appreciate the gesture, she said gently. But she doesnt really know you and Im her friend. Im who she needs right now. Xena was left by the fire, watching as Callisto disappeared into the darkness after her partner. After her Gabrielle. In all their encounters, Xena had never been so destroyed or devastated by anything Callisto had done or said as she was by the simple, kindly meant words just spoken to her. They lanced her soul with bitter pain, shredding any light or happiness that might have been there. I thought the Amazon Princess would be...I dont know, tougher somehow, Lyceus said as he looked at his sister. He was disturbed by the way she had been acting, the obvious pain on her face now. Helplessly, he searched for something to say. I guess the reputation is bigger than the person after all. Thats what killing does to you, she said to him coldly. It destroys your soul. The fact she still hurts means she still has one. Angry at her brother, angry at herself, angry at the whole world, she strode away from the warm circle of light, exiting the cave into the night air. She paused, wondering which way Gabrielle and Callisto went and picked what she hoped was the opposite direction. Wrong again, but then she was getting good at that. She heard them before she saw them, her path leading her to a quiet pool in the moonlight and from her vantage across the pond in the bushes, she saw Callisto and Gabrielle seated on a big rock on the edge of the water. Their words carried easily in the still night air and hating herself even as she was unable to tear herself away, she stayed and listened. You know shes a good kid, Callisto was saying. There wasnt anything meant by it. Gabrielle sighed. I know, she allowed in a tired voice. And she did rescue a slave just because I reminded her of her best friend. Is that why? Callisto was surprised. Not because she recognized the great Amazon Princess? Nope, Gabrielle replied. She hugged her legs to her chest, gazing at the water. You know, she described her friend and I couldnt help thinking, thats not me shes talking about, its Callisto. I figured she got us mixed up or something. Really? Callisto said, her curiosity piqued. Yeah, she said her friend was the kindest most loving person shed ever known. Someone who never gave up on anything or anyone, Gabrielle repeated. She shot a look from the corner of her eyes, smiling at she saw how pleased Callisto was at the compliment and trying so hard not to show it. Who else could she be talking about, but you? Oh, I dont know about that, the blond said, blushing. Gabrielle laughed then, and she wrapped her arm around Callistos waist. You have the biggest heart I know. You never gave up on me, she reminded softly. And I certainly gave you enough reason to. I couldnt give up on you, Callisto said, staring back at her intently. You saved my village, my family from Draco. You never gave up on us even when you were wounded. I had my own reasons for going after Draco, Gabrielle reminded her. Sure you did, Callisto accepted readily. But it would have been easier to attack him after he destroyed the village and wasnt expecting a fight. You didnt. You chose to attack a whole army just to save some village youd never heard of. Yeah, well... It was Gabrielles turn to be bashful. Callisto laughed and leaned over, kissing her partner on the cheek. Gabrielle turned her face to her, reaching up to stroke a high- boned cheek. I love you, you know, Gabrielle said, her words carrying clearly. I cant imagine loving another. I know, the queen of thieves answered with a smile. I love you, too. With more seriousness, Callisto bent her head once more and captured the red-heads mouth in a long deep kiss that could not possibly be mistaken for mere friendship. Gabrielle ran her hands over the slender form in her arms, tugging at Callistos vest and working the laces. Slowly they slid off the rock to the grass, still embraced lovingly. Xena swallowed hard. Frozen, she watched as Callisto caressed Gabrielle just as Xena had imagined doing in her deepest, most secretive of dreams. Watched as the blond undressed her Amazon with slow and obvious familiarity. Watched as Gabrielle leaned back in joyous surrender while Callisto kissed her way down the muscular body, lingering over the generous breasts and hard abdomen before dipping her head to the place between Gabrielles legs. The Amazon cried out for the first time at the sweet touch, arching under her lover, voice full of desire and delight as she buried her hands in the blond tresses. That was when Xena turned and ran, hands over her ears to shut out the rising sounds of passion, until, exhausted, she sank against the foot of a tree, hugging her knees against her. In utter misery, she wept, her heart shattering within her. Finally she realized just exactly what she had given up. Friendship. Love. A partnership that could survive the harshest of situations, the darkest of deeds. But Lyceus was alive. She kept telling herself that desperately. Only it didnt seem enough any more. It didnt stop the ocean of pain flooding through her. It didnt stop the flood of tears flowing down her face. You know the way out of this. The voice came from her left and she was not surprised to see Clotho sitting across from her on the pine needles and moss. How can I? Xena husked. Gabrielle had a hard life. She had Callistos life. But she didnt turn to the darkness. She fights for the innocent. And now she has love, love I never had the courage to show her. My brother lives. My mother is proud and not shamed. And Callisto....Callisto and her family have the life I denied them. How can I take that away? I was right, the world was better off without me. The world isnt without you, Clotho said, angry now. Thats what this is all about. For everything there is a balance. What happened then must happen now. In this life, Gabrielle took the burden because you didnt. You cannot escape destiny. Im really sick of that word, Xena said bitterly. So you intend to spend the rest of this life unhappy? Married to Maphias and producing children by a man you dont love, Clotho responded acidly. You really are taking this self-sacrificing thing to an extreme. Xena merely shook her head and buried it back in her arms crossed on her knees. Her anger drained away as Clotho gazed at the dark hair, the muscular body shaking in grief and she felt her immortal heart break once more as she suddenly realized what her choice had done, that Xena did not take the easy way not because she didnt want the burden of her life, but because she couldnt bear letting others suffer for her choice. Oh Xena, I never meant for this to happen, she whispered. I wanted you to be happy. I thought this life would. Everyone was alive and Gabrielle had taken over to do all the good that you hadnt without doing any of the bad. I didnt realize how you truly felt about her. Why didnt you consider that love before you asked what you did? The two women remained sunk in their shared unhappiness until the first rays of light brightened the eastern horizon. Then, with eyes still sad, Clotho faded away and Xena slowly got to her feet. Head bowed, she walked back to the cave wondering how she was ever going to be able to survive this. And how she was going to be able to look Callisto in the face and not hate her with every fibre of her being.
End of Part Three
Disclaimers - The following story uses characters owned by MCA/Universal and Renaissance Productions. There is one little ol sex scene between two women (minor) and some violence.
Nothing Remembered by G. L. Dartt
Gabrielle was grooming Argo when she walked in and the Amazon Princess frowned at her. Where in Hades have you been, she snapped. I was just about to send a search party for you. She hesitated as a thought struck her and she reached out, snagging Xenas arm in a grip of steel. You werent thinking of pulling another double cross, were you? I never double crossed anyone, Xena retorted, anger flaring as well as hurt at the suspicion in Gabrielles eyes. Then what was that at the inn, when your brother threw you the sword and you let it fall? Gabrielle persisted. Xena avoided her eyes. I...I cant explain but I cant take a life, she offered, realizing it sounded lame and wishing she could make it clearer. To her surprise, Gabrielle relaxed and let her go. Sure, she said understandingly. Youre a blood innocent. Probably never killed anyone before. I can respect that but maybe youd better stay behind with your mother tonight. Xena bristled at the condescending tone, then bowed her head. After all, wasnt that how things were here? Gabrielle and Callisto were the heros. Xena was just a country girl who had never gone anywhere or done anything. She was appalled to find herself envying Gabrielle who had lived a life of adventure and excitement. With a sudden jolt she realized that the longer she lived this life, the more she began to fall into it, old reflexes and instincts fading. It had happened so gradually, she hadnt noticed. But now she knew part of her bodys aches came from being saddle sore after the mad gallop to the cave. Xena, who used to go for days on Argo, sleeping in the saddle, now had unfamiliar pain in her thighs and legs. And her actions at the inn. Yes, she thought she was protecting her mother but when was the last time she stood passively by during a fight? Even her rescue of Gabrielle which had been the only good workout she had in this world had left her sore from muscles forced into a use they were not familiar with. Maybe the Amazon Princess was right. Maybe she should stay behind. Hey, Gabrielle interrupted. Are you all right? Xena raised her head to meet those green eyes looking back at her with concern. With just a little effort, she could pretend they were the same eyes, the same loving concern. But of course, it wasnt the same. Im fine, Xena said quietly. I want to go tonight. I want to help. Well, I was impressed with your moves when you rescued me, Gabrielle allowed slowly. And even if you cant kill anybody, another fighter will come in handy. But we cant afford to have you drop a sword or freeze on us like you did in the inn. If you cant handle this, dont come. I wont freeze, Xena replied. I wont let you down. She held the gaze intently and it was Gabrielle who finally nodded. All right, she said, eyeing the tall woman quizzically as if trying to figure out exactly what it was that wasnt being said here. Well spend the day here lying low and well break into the castle tonight. With any luck, well be able to get to the warlords without being spotted and finish them off. Youre going to...assassinate them? Xena asked delicately. Gabrielle shrugged. Not really the way I like to do things but, it has to be done, she said casually and suddenly she was a stranger again. Both Mezentius and Theodoris are slavers and deserve to die. And obviously the Amazons have already sentenced Krykus. Its my duty to carry that sentence out. That it would also be her pleasure went without saying but Xena could see that clearly in the fierce expression that crossed Gabrielles face. Heart sick and soul weary, Xena turned away and stumbled into the interior of the cave where she found her mother talking quietly to Callisto. Beside the fire pit where the ashes still smoldered, Lyceus and Maphias were sharpening swords and laughing. Apparently they had resolved their differences and her brother was able to accept that Maphias was just trying to help in his own inept way. Her fianc noticed her approach, his face lighting up as he saw her and he got to his feet, puzzled as she drew him off to the side. She hated herself for what she was about to do but knew it was best in the long run. Even if she was going to spend the rest of her life unhappy, there was no reason to make him miserable in the process. Maphias, I cant marry you, she said, steeling herself at the bewildered pain that crossed his face. Oh, Xena, if its what happened at the inn.... Im so sorry. I was wrong, I admit it, he said, grasping her arms tightly. She shook her head. No Maphias, its not that, she said as kindly as she could. I dont love you. I guess I havent for a while. I just didnt have the courage to tell you. You deserve someone who wants to marry you, to bear your children, to give you a life. Thats never going to be me. But I dont understand, he said, dazed. Weve been together for years. I know, youre like another brother to me, she said, wincing internally at that one. I guess I mistook the sisterly love I felt for you to be real love. Now I realize how unfair that was. I am truly sorry. She took her leave from him, trying not to see the defeated cast to his shoulders and the dejected way he stood as she walked away. Now there was one more she had to tell, and summoning all her courage, she sat down next to her mother and Callisto. Her mother was gazing at her with a profoundly disturbed look. Xena dear, whats going on, she asked. I saw you talking to Maphias. Did you have a fight? Xena took a deep breath. I told him I wasnt marrying him, momma, she said. Callisto stood up abruptly. Un, I gotta go...un, water the horses or something, she said, flustered, before making her escape. What do you mean youre not marrying him? her mother responded in her have you lost your mind tone of voice. Youve been waiting eleven years to marry him. And you dont find that significant, Xena said, a flash of her old humor rising before she grew serious again. I dont love him. I havent for awhile. This...crisis just helped me realize it. Momma, I know Im doing the right thing. I cant marry a man I dont love and Maphias cant marry someone who doesnt care about him the same way he cares about her. Her mother looked at her closely, studying the strong features of her only daughters face. I dont understand this, her mother said finally. But I guess I have to trust you know what youre doing. Thank you, momma, Xena said sincerely and hugged her, wishing she could undo this whole mess. But of course, that was the one thing she couldnt do. She spent a few more moments with her mother, then found herself a bedroll to catch up on the sleep she had lost the night before, wishing that when she woke up, she would discover this was all a dream. That she would wake up, look across the fire, and there would be her Gabrielle, fast asleep, the innocent face beautiful in the flames light.
They snuck into the castle through a convenient sewage tunnel that Gabrielle had discovered in her tenure as a slave. It wasnt pleasant but it did get them into the cellars of the castle. There were four of them, Gabrielle, Callisto, Lyceus and Xena. Maphias had stayed behind with Xenas mother much to his objections but Gabrielle absolutely refused to let him come along. He had proved untrustworthy before and she was not prepared to give him another chance. Xena was dismayed to realize that the Amazon Princess apparently wasnt too sure of her either, appointing Callisto to keep an eye on her, not because she didnt trust her but because she was considered the weak link in their group. Xena wondered if this was how she had treated Gabrielle in the other past. Not much wonder the bard occasionally chafed under her well meant but condescending direction. Xena promised herself that she would start treating Gabrielle more as a partner in the future, then felt distinctly ill when she realized, there was no future. Not that sort. She began to hope that she would be able to forget that other past, that other life. If she were to maintain her sanity here, it was the only way. But she knew she couldnt go back to being just another peasant girl living in a small village. She had to do something, just as Gabrielle and Callisto were. Maybe it was a need for adventure. Maybe it was just a desire to contribute. All she knew is that she could not stay in Amphipolis after this. She would fight. With a staff if need be. She hefted the wood with a ironic grin. Gabrielle had given the Amazon staff to her, explaining that there was no shame in the quarterstaff and how very useful a tool it could be. Xena wondered if the Amazon Princess could use a sidekick since Callisto was clearly a full partner. Or could she bear to be that close to her without telling her how she felt? Here, Gabrielle suddenly hissed in a quiet tone. The Amazon looked upward at a grate above her head, the torch flickering in the dank blackness. Without speaking, Callisto brushed past Xena from her rearguard position and after a professional glance, set to work opening it. Within seconds she had silenced any squeaks it might have made with a judicious squirt of an oil she drew from her belt, and pushed it up and out. They all crawled through and found themselves in the castle cellars. Absolute silence, Gabrielle warned, favoring the brother and sister with a significant look as she took the point and led the way up the stairs. Callisto was at her shoulder as Xena followed, the thief taking her responsibilities seriously. Xena tried not to chafe under the aegis and held her staff tightly as they made their way through the darkened main floors. Occasionally, a patrol of two or three guards would pass and they would either hide or Gabrielle and Callisto would dispatch them with efficient silence. Unfortunately, the warlords were not in their chambers and they were temporarily stopped. We have to ask some questions, Gabrielle told the others grimly. That could make some noise, Callisto offered. Making someone talk, I mean. Let me, Xena said suddenly. Then, before the other two could stop her, she slipped out into the corridor and found another patrol. This time it was only one and she swiftly grabbed him and hustled him into an empty room. Gabrielle was almost white with fury when the rest caught up to Xena, Lyceus looking at her as if he had never seen her before. However, before the Amazon Princess could speak, Xena applied her pinch to the guard. Ive just cut off the flow of blood to your brain, she told him. You have thirty seconds to tell us what we want to know. The guard, in incredible pain, spoke readily, and as the rest watched in amazement, she released the pinch, rendering him unconscious with a swift punch in the head. Whered you learn that? Gabrielle asked her with grudging admiration. Xena shrugged. I have many skills, she told her modestly. So I see, the Amazon Princess allowed before they continued onto the main throne room where the three warlords were still in conference over their plans even thought it was extremely late, an hour past midnight. The guard had been quite forthcoming with his information, even telling them how many slaves should be in the room in addition to the ever-present guards. Without much preamble, the four burst into the throne room and lay about them with unrestrained abandon. The inhabitants didnt know what hit them and were slow to react though it did not take long for the room to become absolute bedlam. Xena dropped her foes with ruthless efficiency, welding the staff with a new appreciation for the weapon. From the corner of her eye, she saw Gabrielle attack Krykus with a loud scream of anticipation and fury, the warlord falling back before the rain of blows. In another corner, Callisto dispatched Theodoris without knowing who he was, sliding her dagger across his throat with a stony expression of distaste on her face. And Lyceus impaled Mezentius as the warlord overbalanced himself with a large swipe at the blond man that just missed. Gabrielle leaped to the throne, looking every inch the warrior queen. Halt, she thundered and surprisingly enough, the survivors as well as the new guards rushing in did so. In the name of the Amazons, I claim justice here. She favored one of the remaining guards, the highest ranking member of Corteses occupying force with a withering gaze. Send a message to Cortese. Tell him what has transpired here and warn him that the bigger he gets, the bigger a target he is. And be sure to let him know it was not a favor. Krykus was wanted by the Amazons and we do not favor those who would shelter the enemies of my people. Nor do we let slavers such as Mezentius live. Tell him to clean up his act or we ride against him next. This time with the entire Amazon nation and her allies. Under the rule of Melosa and the advice of Gabrielle, the Amazon nation had prospered, growing and taking on the Centaurs and Giants as allies who had also prospered under the Amazon Princesss aegis. It was not an idle or easily dismissed threat. The general bent his head in submission and nodded at one of his subordinates who immediately went to dispatch the message. He knew which side he was best served with and he had not been pleased to discover what the three warlords had planned for Cortese. But he had been helpless to act, having only a minimal squad to fight the men the warlords had brought with them. Now, with the three dead and the rumors of the Amazons getting involved, the armies camped outside the village would disappear, or find themselves making plans to ally with Corteses men. I appoint you as acting leader of this village until Cortese can send a new administrator, one who doesnt allow slavery or pigs like Krykus to take refuge here, she said, and stepped down from the throne. She knew the general was already making plans to be that new
administrator and ignored him as she joined the other three. She exchanged a quick hug with Callisto and looked at Xena and her brother. You did well, she complimented them. Lyceus was angry. I though you would help us get rid of Cortese, he said angrily. Gabrielle looked at him with a frown. Cortese isnt here, she pointed out coldly. And if you didnt want to be a part of Corteses empire, you should have stopped him eleven years ago before he took over this entire area. If eliminating him was your purpose, then I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you were fighting on the wrong side. You should have been working with them. She gestured at the three dead warlords which were being unceremoniously being hauled from the castle room to be dumped. Cortese is slime, but he has become a semi-efficient administrator in his old age. Hes no worse than any of the others you might have ended up with. She turned away, bored with trying to explain political reality to a farm boy and looked at Xena. You know, you handled that staff as if youd been trained by the Amazons, she complimented. If you only knew how much I was winging it, Xena thought. She had a hard time taking her eyes off the Amazon Princess. Dare she ask if she could go with her? Or should she do what Gabrielle had done to her in that other life and just follow her. She knew she wanted to be with the redhead no matter what the roles. As for Callisto...well, theyd have to work something out. Maybe the queen of thieves could accept Xena loving Gabrielle too. A sudden motion caught her eye and with horror she realized one of the forms which she had knocked unconscious was not so out of it after all. One of Krykus lieutenants whom apparently had been playing possum until he was close to Gabrielle, brought a dagger up from his boot and thrust at the Amazon Princess with insane fury. Xena moved instantly, quicker even than Callisto, blocking the blade with her staff and following up with an angry butt to his temple. She realized just as she struck that it was too hard, her inexperience with the staff costing her a death blow, but she was unable to let up in time, the spurt of blood from his nose, the crack of the mans temple echoing in her ears to be replaced by a familiar voice crying out. Xena, look out. Xena whirled, no time to understand that it was now a sword she held and not a staff but utilizing it the same, her two handed grip thudding into her attackers chin and sending him to the ground where the hood fell off and rolled away to reveal the stunned features of a boy. Hes just a kid, Gabrielle said as she ran up to join the shaken warrior. With a great effort, Xena gathered her scattered wits and looked down at the boy, reflexes having automatically put her sword at his throat. You have a second chance, boy, she said huskily. Swear you wont waste it by killing again. I wont kill, I swear it, the boy promised reverently. Never again. Xena stepped back, sheathing her sword. Get up then, she spat. Then added as he hesitated. Go. He didnt have to be told twice, scrambling to his feet and running away through the meadow, disappearing into the woods. Hey, he dropped something, Gabrielle said, bending down and picking up an amulet which sparkled in the turf. Its his virilis token. She handed it to Xena who stared down at it in her hand, remembering her brother, and an Amazon Princess. And a Queen of Thieves who looked out at the world with humor and optimism rather than with hatred and rage. Hey, are you alright? Gabrielle asked then, disturbed by the look on her friends face. Xena finally looked at her, gazing deep into quizzical green eyes so full of concern and love, at the ugly green shirt that Xena usually could not stand and now adored, the simple skirt and lastly at the staff held in hands which had never taken a life. Oh Gabrielle, she whispered. Then, to the bards surprise and no little gratification, Xena swept her up in her arms, holding her tightly in an embrace that she did not wish to relinquish. Ever. Xena. The voice came from everywhere and nowhere at once. Drawing back to look down at the young woman in her arms, Xena could tell the bard had not heard it. Instead, Gabrielle was looking at her with pleased confusion, not knowing what had prompted this sudden embrace but more than willing to go along with it. Ill be right back. I need to go into the temple for a moment, she said. She hesitated, looking down at her friend. Her partner. Will you wait for me? she asked humbly. Gabrielle blinked. Of course, she replied, looking at her oddly. Xena strode rapidly into the temple, frowning as she saw the three fates waiting within. It is as it was, Atropos intoned formally. Xena bowed her head, tears stinging her eyes. Lyceus, she whispered. Callisto. Lachesis sighed and nodded at Atropos. It is not as it should be, she said pointedly. No, Atropos agreed and nodded at Xena. But it will be. She placed her hand gently on Xenas head. You shall remember nothing. The memories of an Amazon Princess who united her people and became a hero, the young thief who was her caring and gentle lover all disappeared. Replaced by differing memories of a life where Xena had voluntarily shed blood to save a slave from killing. Dazed, Xena stumbled from the temple and found Gabrielle waiting patiently for her, leaning on her staff. One thing remained the same, Xenas new appreciation for her friend and as she joined her, she hugged her once more. Gabrielle was smiling as they began walking down the road. Not that Im complaining, she said. But what was that for. Xena looked down and smiled. Just for being you, she said. Oh, Gabrielle said. Are you sure youre all right? Yes, Im alright. Really? I mean, you dont seem yourself, the bard persisted. Xena actually laughed out loud. Youre wrong, she said, draping an arm around Gabrielle as they walked. Im more myself than ever.
So do you think shell be all right? Callisto asked as she and her partner rode away from Amphipolis. Behind them, trailing a few horse lengths behind on a bay mare, the dark haired woman named Xena rode quietly, allowing the other two their privacy. Gabrielle raised an eyebrow in thought. She did seem kind of in a daze after killing that guy, she admitted, then shrugged. Killing for the first time can be pretty traumatic. I mean, she cant even remember how she used those pressure points. But, shes big and strong as an ox. And she can read. Thats a pretty rare combination in these parts. Callisto shot her a look. And very good looking, she added blandly. Gabrielle looked over, her sardonic expression showing she knew she was being teased. She smiled suddenly, the ice green eyes softening. Shell do well with the Amazons, she returned. I think Ephiny will be glad to see her. Since Phantess death, shes sort of been at loose ends. I think taking on a new student will be just the thing she needs to get herself together, mentally. And maybe those good looks will remind Ephiny just how to use her heart again. I think Xena has a little bit of a crush on you, Callisto continued her teasing. It must be the leather. Gabrielle laughed. Like I dont have my hands full already, she said. She leaned over and kissed Callisto, patting her thigh companionably before straightening and looking back at the figure trailing. Cmon, kid, she called. I want to be a long way from here come nightfall. Argo picked up her pace and together, they cantered to the west and into history. Because every life cried out for a hero. Every world needed a warrior princess. And every warrior princess needed a companion to bring light to her darkness, and love to her heart.
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