I wrote a short Xmas story. It is part of the Warrior Mother Series but not attatched to any particulair story. I just wrote it upon the requst of my mailing list. I htought if you'd like to put it up for a week or so I'd offer it but it's NOT part of the Legend of the Last Amazon Story and I don't want to confuse your readers.


Xena Warrior Mother Series – Special edition

Yes Tarren there is A Solstice Santa

By fantimbard@aol.com



This story takes place on the road somewhere after Little Thief of Hearts and before Legend of the last Amazon….




Tarren kicked through the bushes hoping to find some kind of small creature to add to Gabrielle’s bedroll that evening. The youngster felt that this act had almost become expected and she did not wish to disappoint her squeamish friend. After all watching the bard jump from the blankets screaming and rubbing the risen hair on her pale skin was quite a treat.

On this particular hunt however, darkness had come quicker than the small child had expected and she had wandered a bit further from the camp than she knew she was allowed but this was an important mission so exceptions needed to be made.

Tarren gave the bush below one final kick and sighed. "Nothin! Son of a…." She glanced around the area to make sure her mother was not in sight. "…Bachae." She squeezed her eyes tightly and hunched her shoulders waiting for a hand of retribution to remind her that repeating such phrase as her mother too often used was not allowed.

Seeing that it was safe the youngster smiled and moved a bit further into the woods. "I gotta find somethin to keep Gabby company tonight, " she whispered. Much to her delight the mischievous little girl spotted a small frog sitting on a rock beside a small pool of water.

"Ooooh a froggy. Gabby never had one of those before," she said with an evil little grin.

The child picked up the small creature and examined it carefully. "Don’t worry you’ll like Gabby. She’s really nice," the youngster said with a chuckle. "But I don’t know if she’ll like you froggy," she whispered, remembering her friends aversion to things that crawled around the camp.

A husky voice from behind answered before the frog had a chance to croak. "I don’t think Gabrielle would like it at all and I know I would not like it if the bard woke up screaming in the middle of the night…again."

The youngster swallowed hard and turned quickly positioning the frog in the cup of her small hands behind her back. "Oh…Hi…Momma. What are you doing out here?" she asked with a squeaky voice.

The warrior who had been watching the child while leaning against a tree stood straight and folded her arms against her chest. "I am out here looking for you young lady," she scolded. "You were supposed to be sitting in a tree right beside the camp and you wandered off again." She bent down and shook a warning finger as she continued the scolding. "How many times have I told you that you are not to leave camp alone?"

The youngster shrugged as she tried to keep a firm hold on the amphibious creature fidgeting in her hands. "I’m sorry Momma. I guess I just forgot."

Xena shook her head. "No you didn’t. You just came out here to get something to put in Gabrielle’s bedroll," she replied with a slight smirk.

The small child gave her mother her widest stare and two dimpled grin of innocence. "Who me?" she said in mock disbelief at the accusation.

"Yeah you." The mother pointed to the youngster’s arms and tried to crane her own head around the little girl’s back. "Let me see what’s in your hands," she ordered in a parental tone.

The child tried to toss the frog to the ground but the little creature had decided that Tarren’s hands were as good as any place to sit for a while.

Again the warrior repeated the statement, however this time a bit louder. "Let me see what’s in your hands now!" This time the words were spoken with such force that there was no doubt left as to how much time was allowed to perform the task.

Tarren tried to keep her smile as she brought the small frog forward and offered it up for inspection to her mother. "Say hi to the nice froggy…Momma."

Xena stared at the slimy little creature and twisted her lips in frustration. "Let him go," she said in a quiet and controlled voice.

The little girl looked from the new friend contentedly settled in her hands to her mother’s harsh stare. "Do I haffta?" she asked in a pleading tone

Xena bent down so she was eye to eye with her young child. "Yes you have to and right now." She let her voice drop to a huskier tone. "And for wandering off you can just go straight to your bedroll when we get back to camp," she said sternly.

The youngster frowned and let her shoulder’s slump. "Ahh Momma."

The warrior’s response was a very high brow and a warning stare. "Tarren."

Little Tarren needed to see no more nor hear her name spoken a second time. That one word said a lot when spoken by her mother in that particular way. She gave the small creature in her hands a stroke with the edge of her thumb and then placed it on the ground and watched it hop away. The little girl glanced up at her mother’s still angry stare and smiled. "So I guess you missed me huh Momma?"


"Uh huh." The warrior mother let out a long breath shook her head and pointed in the direction of their small camp. "Move it," she ordered.

Tarren kicked the ground with the tip of her boot and then took the lead mumbling under her breath. "Look all this time for somethin to put in Gabby’s bedroll…finally find somethin…haffta let it go…gotta go to my bedroll…not fair…son of a…."

There was a fast whistle through the air as a large hand made direct contact with the seat of a small pair of britches.

The small child yelped and then rubbed the seat of her trousers fiercely as she stared at her mother’s now angry face. "Owe! Momma I didn’t say nothin," the youngster moaned.


Xena took the child by the upper arm and again shook a warning finger. "Tarren I swear one more dirty word out of your mouth and I’ll stick a bar of soap in it."

The child felt the sting of her mother’s hand on her bottom and rubbed it gently as she rolled out her lower lip in a distinct pout. "Yes Momma."

The warrior closed her eyes glanced up at the stars and then down at the now contrite child sulking in front of her. With a quick swipe she lifted the little girl into her arms and tossed her over one shoulder. "Come on."



Back at camp…


As always Xena had chosen a sight to camp that was as far off the main road as positioning allowed.

Gabrielle sat by the small fire rubbing her hands over the warming flames. "Ahh nothing like a little fire on a clear night." She took a deep breath. "And the fresh air fills your lungs." She could still smell the fried fish that they had just finished at supper hanging on the air around her. The bard smiled as she remembered the taste but then dutifully returned to writing in the diary that little Tarren had given her as a gift.

Dear Diary,

It is a beautiful night under the stars and the day has been happily uneventful. It is good to be back on the road again where we can help people and feel the touch of creation all around us. Tarren has….


The bard paused in her writing as she noticed the rather frustrated expression of a warrior mother stomping back into camp with a sniffling child perched over her shoulder. The young woman sighed as she stared at the sentence she had yet to finish and then placed her quill and diary down hoping to return to it later.

"What happened now?" she asked, as she looked from the warrior to the much smaller version with the pouty face and sniffles.

Xena immediately lowered the child to the ground in front of her and pointed to the youngster’s bedroll. "You get in your blankets and stay there until I say it’s time to go to sleep," she scolded, pointing to the coverings on the ground beside the fire.

Tarren rubbed the seat of her britches dramatically and stared at the bard. "Momma gave me a swat." The child sniffled. "And it was a real good one too."

The warrior mother leaned down to whisper in the little one’s ear. "And you are gonna get another one if you are not in those blankets by the time I count to three." She folded her arms tightly against her chest and counted. "One…."

Tarren knew her mother meant business and before the second number could be spoken the little girl skidded into her bedroll and covered her head with the blankets. All that could be heard was the muffled sounds of a sniffling and sometimes grumbling little girl.

Gabrielle glanced at her diary longingly and then let her head drop onto her open hand as she leaned against a nearby log. She let out a quick breath and looked at Xena who had taken up a parental position by seating herself on a rock in front of the bedrolls.

The bard frowned as she looked from the small figure sulking in the blankets to the large stoic warrior mother now sharpening her blade methodically. "Xena what happened?" she asked, knowing it was probably not as bad as either had made out.

The warrior ran her stone up and down the edge of her blade as she spoke. "What happened? Oh nothing really." She turned her head slightly and glanced at the small lump under the covers. "My little girl just likes to wander off in the middle of the night alone even when she knows she’s not supposed to…but she had a good reason." She twisted her lips and raised her brows. "She needed something to put in your bedroll tonight."

Gabrielle opened her mouth wide and sat up a little. "Tarren!"

The child poked her head out from the blankets and stared at her mother. "Momma you snitched."

The mother turned her head and eyed the small child. "Youngster if I were you I’d be very careful how you spoke to me right now because we are very close to you and I going off for a private chat."

Tarren rolled out her lower lip and looked from bard to warrior before deciding it might be best to stay out of sight for a while. She pulled the blankets back over her head and sulked quietly under the covers once again.

The warrior tilted her head to motion to the youngster. "See Gabrielle…she even talks back to me and if I hear another swear cross her lips so help me…."

The bard took a deep breath and placed a halting hand in the air. "Wait! Can we just back up here." She let her voice drop to a near whisper and leaned in closer to her friend. "Look Xena, I know you get scared when she wanders off but try and relax a bit now. She’s here and she’s fine," she said softly, hoping to calm the angst of the mother.

There was an understanding between these two friends that left little need for volumes of discussion. Gabrielle knew that the root of Xena’s frustration was fear that Tarren would wander off one night and be hurt or lost.

The warrior took a deep breath and dropped her sword to her side. She stared at her friend’s gentle green eyes and shook her head. "Ok you’re right." The mother looked over at the little form in the blankets and gave a quick tap to the child’s risen backside. "Come over here," she said quietly.

The youngster poked her head out and glanced at her mother’s expression wanting to make sure it was indeed safe and not just time for chatting privately. Once sure her mother’s eyes were as gentle as her voice the small child extracted herself from the blankets and obediently went to the warrior’s side. "Yes ma’am."

Xena closed her eyes and grinned. "It’s not ma’am time. It’s still momma time," she said trying to let her young daughter know she was not in any further trouble.

The child glanced at Gabrielle who nodded her affirmation and the youngster happily flopped in her mother’s lap. "Ok Momma I’ll sit with ya if ya want me too."

The warrior smiled and repositioned the youngster closer wrapping her arms around the child. "Thanks I really do but I want to talk to you too."

Tarren frowned at the idea of conversation at this moment. "Ohhhh but Momma every time we talk about stuff I get in more trouble," she groaned.

The warrior suppressed a smile and nodded. "Well that’s a chance I’m willing to take." She paused and looked at the bard. "Ya see Tarren you have to start behaving better. You are not allowed to leave camp alone ever," she said sternly, thinking of all the possible dangers that awaited her young daughter if left alone.

Tarren rolled out her lip and arched her little brow. "Why?"

The mother’s voice remained calm and understanding. "Because you could get hurt."

The child shook her head as she fingered her mother’s straps. "No I won’t. I’m real careful."

Realizing where this conversation was heading made the warrior sigh. "Tarren you are too little to be out alone," she stated in a no nonsense tone.

The little girl glanced up at her mother’s deep blue eyes and frowned. "But that’s not fair. You get to go off alone lots."

The warrior took a deep breath and forced a smile. "I’m not little now am I?"

Tarren shook her head as she thought of her mother’s stature. "No Momma. You’re big but why do you have to be big to go out alone?"

Xena tilted her head to one side and let her voice drop to a more serious tone. "Because I said so and I’m your mother and you do what I say. That’s why." These words left no room for further question.

Tarren swallowed hard letting her head drop to her mother’s shoulder, nuzzling in as far as she could. "Oh!"

Gabrielle could see her friend’s frustration starting to build a bit. She patted the warrior’s leg to signal her intervention.

The warrior smiled wickedly as she cuddled the now quiet child. "This should be good," she muttered as she rubbed the little girl’s back.


The bard cleared her throat and tapped the youngster on the leg. "Uh Tarren, You had better learn to behave or when the winter Solstice comes the Solstice Santa is not going to bring you any presents."

Tarren glanced at her mother who shrugged and rolled her eyes at what the warrior knew was the bard’s attempt at reasoning with the stubborn child.

Gabrielle pressed her lips together as she glared at her friend. "Isn’t that right…Xena?"

The warrior reluctantly nodded. "Yeah that’s right. Only kids that do as they’re told get visited by the Solstice Santa," she replied half heartedly, not understanding why the bard felt lengthy explanations were always needed to make Tarren behave.

Tarren leaned in closer to her mother. "Who’s the Solstice Santa?" she asked with a doubtful stare.

Gabrielle’s eyes went wide at the mere thought that a small child anywhere in the world had not heard of Solstice Santa. "Tarren didn’t you ever get presents from the Santa when you were with Nala?" she asked, hoping the old woman had not ignored this important holiday.

The child shook her head. "Nope but I got treasures left under my pillow from the Mystic Queen sometimes."

Xena leaned forward a bit. "Gabrielle, Nala was a mystic and they don’t believe in things like Santa," she whispered informatively.

Gabrielle was not about to give up so easily.

The bard frowned and glanced at the cradled youngster in the warrior’s arms. "Well Tarren, it sounds to me like you have been missing out on something very important."

The child looked at her mother for confirmation.

The warrior grinned realizing that her little girl should enjoy the things of childhood just as she herself had long ago. "That’s right baby. Solstice Santa brings toys to all the girls and boys around the world…if they’re good."

Tarren’s eyes flew open. "Really? What kind of presents do kids get? Like a pony maybe?" she asked hopefully.

Xena shook her head. "No pony."

Gabrielle moved in beside the youngster. "But he brings other good stuff." She paused as she remembered back to her own youth. "Santa once brought me a pretty little doll that I kept on my bed every night." She smiled at the memory of the treasured friend.

Tarren frowned at the thought of a mere doll and looked at her mother. "Momma what did this Santa guy bring you?" she asked, knowing it had to be better than a doll.

The warrior leaned back a little and the child lay her head down on her mother’s shoulder. "Let me see…Santa once brought me a really nice fishing pole." She smiled as she remembered the surprise gift. "That was some pole."

The youngster shrugged. "But I already got a new pole. You bought it for me Momma." The little girl threw her arms around her mother’s neck and hugged her to thank her once again for the gift.

Xena smiled and returned the embrace. She glanced at the bard. "I don’t think your impressing her Gabrielle," she said with a taunting smirk.

The bard thought for a moment and then tapped the child on the leg once again. "Tarren, Santa brings children what he thinks they really want or need. I got a doll because I wanted one and Xena got a pole because she didn’t have one. If you were good he might bring you something really special that you want."

Again the little girl’s eyes brightened. "Like a pony?"

The mother frowned at the revival of this taboo subject. "No pony."

Tarren folded her arms against her chest in fair imitation of her mother. She peered at her friend. "But Gabby if I can’t have a pony what else do I need? I got my Momma and you and my treasures." She ran her hands over the smooth wood on her newest toy. "And my slingshot of course."


Gabrielle smiled at being included amongst the little one’s possessions. "But Tarren, you didn’t even know what a slingshot was before we went to Amphipolis. There could be all kinds of treasures and toys you’ve never even heard of that Santa might bring if you were really good."

The child considered this Santa character deciding it might be worth looking into. "He would?"

The bard tossed her open hands in the air. "Maybe."

The little girl ran a finger over her own chin. "How does he know if I’m good?"

Xena tapped her small child on the shoulder. "Ya see that’s my job. I have to send him a report and tell him how you’ve behaved."

The child widened her eyes and ran her small hand up and down her mother’s arm. "Momma would you say bad stuff about me?" she asked with an innocent stare.

The warrior mother glared at her now grinning friend. This was not a fair question.

The mother glanced at the pleading face of her small child and pulled her closer. "No baby I could never say a bad word about you to anyone. I would just tell Santa the truth."

Tarren smiled ignoring the last part of the statement about truth, deciding that her mother would tell everyone she was good even if she wasn’t always quite perfect. "Then I’m all set with this Santa." She leaned into her mother’s shoulder to cuddle and the warrior grinned at her now frustrated friend.

"Sorry Gabrielle but I think she’s too fast for ya," the mother said with a grin.

The bard ran a single finger across her own lips and smiled. "Don’t give up on me yet. I know someone better than Santa."

Xena did not like the sound of this. "Who?"

"You." The bard tapped the child on the leg again and the youngster turned her head.

She smiled broadly. "Tarren did I mention Santa is not the only one to give gifts." Gabrielle motioned around their small group. "We all exchange presents with each other as well."

This caught the little girl’s attention and she stared at the bard. "Ya mean you and Momma give me presents too." She turned to her mother. "Momma are you gonna get me a present?" she asked hopefully.

Xena smiled at the innocent face of enthusiasm looking up at her. "Yes of course I will."

Tarren bounced up and down with excitement at the mere thought. "What? A pony?"

The mother shook her head and shook a finger. "No pony. I told you are way too young for that," she replied with an affectionate kiss on the forehead. "Something else."

The youngster sighed but did not allow her enthusiasm to dwindle. "Oh…Ok but then what would ya give me?" she asked, trying to conjure a thought of something better than a pony.

Xena winked at her now smiling friend and then glanced at her young daughter. "Well Tarren, that depends on how good you are. Doing things like wandering off alone and saying bad words…well that’s bad and I keep a list and I check it when Solstice comes. I see how naughty you’ve been and I look at how nice and that’s how I decide what you get," she said in a gentle voice.

Tarren frowned wondering where such a list might be found and how it might be destroyed. She turned to the bard. "Do you do that too?"

"Yes of course." Gabrielle suppressed a smile at the now unhappy expression on the child’s face. She patted the little girl’s arm. "Of course Tarren you do know that good things always outweigh bad things so that if you are really good now then any naughty stuff you did before might not weigh as heavy."

The youngster considered the deal in the process of being made. "Oh." She sadly lowered her eyes knowing she would never find the strength to be that good. "I guess I won’t be getting no presents from nobody then," she replied, letting her head drop onto her mother’s shoulder and nuzzling her face deep into the leather.

The mother ran her hand up and down the sullen child’s back and shook her head as she stared at her friend. "Another one of your great plans Gabrielle. Now you’ve made her feel bad. I should have just stuck with ‘because I said so’," she whispered in a scolding tone.

The bard let her shoulder’s slump as she stared at he now quiet child hiding in Xena’s arms. "I’m sorry. I just wanted to teach her to behave better by making her realize that…."

Xena held up a halting hand. "I know and I understand." She held the youngster closer and whispered. "But making sure she behaves is one of my skills." The mother pulled the youngster closer. "My mother used to try the same thing on me when I was a kid and I hated it. It’s bribery Gabrielle. Tarren has to learn to do what she’s told because it’s the right thing to do and because she’s told to do it. I don’t want her thinking that there’s some great payoff or loss for acting like…a little kid."

Gabrielle let out a long breath and nodded. "You’re right. I’m sorry. I just wanted to help."

Xena put her hand over the hidden child’s ear and smiled at her friend. "You do help every single day you are with her."

The bard grinned. "Thanks." She looked at the small child trying desperately to crawl behind her mother for comfort. "Let’s try and fix this. Ok?"

The mother nodded. "A very good idea." She pulled the little girl forward and could see that along with some mussed up hair the child had a few stray tears on her cheeks. The warrior wiped them away with the edge of her thumb. "Hey what’s all the crying for?"

Tarren bit her lip and rubbed her own eyes with the balls of her fists. "I can’t be that good Momma. I wanna be but I forget lots of stuff and I don’t want you mad at me if Santa don’t come and give me presents."

The warrior mother wrapped her arms tightly around her small child. "Now you listen to me. You just forget what we said about Santa. He knows how good you are inside." She tapped the child’s chest. "And that’s all he really cares about. He knows it’s tough to be good all the time and he understands that little kids get the naughties sometimes" She ran her hand tenderly over the youngster’s face. "And you my little one have the purest heart I know, so when Winter Solstice comes I promise you that Santa will come and give you lots of presents. Ok?"

The little girl sniffled a bit and looked at the bard who nodded in agreement.

"Ya mean it Momma?"

"Monster, have I ever lied to you?"

The child shook her head. "No Momma you don’t like fibbers."

The warrior grinned and tweaked the youngster’s nose. "That’s right so you know I’m telling you the truth. I want you to look forward to Solstice. Santa will come and we are all going to give each other gifts."

Tarren’s eyes went wide and she smiled. "Really?"


Tarren offered her mother a look of unquestionable love. "Momma what’s it like to give each other presents?" she asked curious over such an exchange.

Xena no longer had a taste for the lesson teaching game the bard had started. "Baby, are you telling me that you and Nala never gave each other presents?"

The small child shook her head. "No Momma."

The mother held her child close. "Well I promise you that when Solstice comes Santa and I both are going to make sure you have the best presents we can find…Right Gabrielle?"

The bard closed her eyes and leaned back on her arms as she considered how this young child had lived her entire life without knowing the meaning of Solstice or giving. "Yeah I’m going to get you something really special honey."

Tarren smiled at her friend but then bit her lip and lowered her head. "But Momma. I wanna get you and Gabby special presents too and you won’t let me spend any more of Nala’s money." She thought of her weekly allowance. "A dinar a week sure doesn’t buy much ya know."

The warrior grinned at the now pleading tone in the child’s voice. "Tarren, Solstice is not about spending money. It is about opening your heart and sharing what’s inside. The gifts are just a way of showing someone you care about them. If it comes from the heart then that’s all that matters," she explained in a loving tone.

Tarren frowned at he less than helpful explanation. "Momma are you telling me I can’t have any more money?"

"Yup! That’s exactly what I’m telling you."

The little girl’s shoulders sagged and she again slumped against her mother’s shoulder sadly. "I won’t be able to get any good presents for you and Gabby. I don’t want Solstice to come."

The warrior mother cradled her child and stared at the bard. "Gabrielle, you started this so you fix it. This is one of your skills," she said with a smirk.

The bard swallowed and tried to think of a way to repair the damage. She let her voice drop to a soft and soothing tone. "Tarren, how would you like to practice giving presents right now?" she asked formulating an idea of how to ignite some excitement over the coming holiday.

The small child’s turned and glanced at her friend. "How Gabby? We can’t buy nothin here," she said motioning to the camp around them.

Gabrielle nodded and ran her hand over the soft cheek of the little girl. "I know. I want

To show you how you can give great gifts from the heart without spending any money. We’ll each use only what we have and know to make the other’s gifts. Would you like to play that game with me?" she asked hopefully.

Xena cringed at this idea.


Tarren immediately looked at her mother for approval. "Momma do you wanna play Solstice practice too?" she asked.

Before the warrior mother could answer a bard’s boot caught her in the shin and she grimaced a bit at the contact. "Sure baby," she replied while glaring at her friend.

"Ok then I’ll play too." The youngster smiled broadly and jumped off the warrior’s lap dragging her treasure bag and all of her other belongings to the far side of camp.

The warrior watched her little girl moving away and called after her. "Hey don’t you go wandering off again."

The child dropped her things behind a large rock and replied. "I won’t Momma."

Xena let her muscles ease a bit. "That’s the best present I could get," she mumbled. The warrior looked at the grinning bard and frowned. "What are you smiling about? Now we have to come up with presents."

The young woman swatted her friend’s knee. "Oh Xena did you see the look on her face? This could be good for her. Tarren needs to learn to express her feelings. Stop being a big old warrior and play Solstice with us."

The stoic expression softened and Xena got to her feet still grumbling a bit. "Oh alright." She grabbed her saddlebags and went to another corner of the camp.

Gabrielle looked from the large warrior working covertly in one corner to Little Tarren attempting to do the same from the other side of the camp. She smiled as she noticed how every once in a while Xena would glance over at the little girl and grin at the child’s enthusiasm for this game.

Xena did not realize the bard was watching and the observations gave the young woman an idea. Gabrielle tapped her quill up and down deciding her best gift would be a story but for some reason none would come to her. She again looked at her small family and smiled. "I have a much better idea," she whispered. The bard took out two fresh pieces of scroll and went to work.


After an hour had passed and the sky had become completely dark each member of the family signaled that they were ready to return to the fire and offer their presents.

Tarren smiled broadly as she looked from her mother to the bard but kept her small gifts hidden inside her tunic for none to see. "Ok I’m ready to play," she announced jumping in her mother’s lap.

Xena repositioned the child to one side and smiled. "Ok ya little Monster." She looked at the bard. "Who goes first?"

Gabrielle sat beside the warrior and gave her a gentle nudge. "You go first."

"Why me?" the warrior groaned.

The bard tossed her hands in the air. "Because you’re the oldest," she said with a chuckle.

"Thanks a lot." Xena glanced at her friend and sighed. "Ok let’s not get mushy about this. It’s only a practice game for Tarren," she said quietly.

Gabrielle grinned. "I know but you have to show what you made so quit stalling."

Xena looked at her little girl who nodded in agreement. "Yeah Momma. It’s part of the game. Don’t ya like playin?"

The large blue eyes of her little girl immediately captured the warrior mother. She reached out a hand and ran it tenderly along the side of the child's face. "Of course I do Monster."

"Well then give Gabby her present," the child ordered with a raised brow.

Xena twisted her lips and glanced at the grinning bard. "Ok…well…here." She handed the younger woman a neatly sewn leather pouch.

Gabrielle smiled as she examined the craftsmanship of the stitching. "Xena it’s beautiful. What’s it for?" she asked noting it was too small for a satchel and too big for a side pouch.

The warrior pointed to the book nestled on a log beside the fire. "You’re diary. I know you worry about it getting dirty and wet so I made you a bag to keep it in." She pointed to a loop at the top. "If ya want you can slip a lock through there to keep small prying eyes out," she said with a smirk giving her small daughter a sideways glance.

The small child frowned at the accurate insinuation.

The bard swallowed and ran her hands over the smooth casing. "But you bought that leather to make a case for Nala’s diary…Xena, that’s much more important," she said offering the gift back.

Xena shook her head and pushed the item into her friend’s hands. "No it’s not. Besides I can get some more leather in the next town we pass." She glanced at the little girl. "I’m still reading it so much that I hardly ever have it out of my hands.

That was the truth.

Gabrielle nodded and without warning reached over and hugged her large friend. "Thank you…This means a lot to me," she said with a cracking voice for the caring gesture.

Xena allowed the embrace for a moment and then patted the young woman’s back. "Ok…It’s just practice. Don’t get all teary eyed over a leather bag," she said quietly, trying not to smile.

Tarren watched the tender exchange puzzled by the bard’s reaction. "Momma why is Gabby crying?"

The mother shrugged her shoulders. "Because she likes presents."

The bard wiped her eyes dry. "Oh Xena tell her the real reason." The younger woman glanced at the little girl. "Your Momma did something very nice by giving me something that she herself wanted to use. It was a gift of…love."

The warrior frowned at the wording but knew better than to argue with her now emotional friend. She decided a change of subject was in order so she turned to her young daughter. "Ok Monster you’re next." Xena smiled and wiped a few stray hairs from the child’s face. "Ya know I am really looking forward to Solstice so I can give you a real present…something I have time to work on and think about but in the meantime…." She removed the child’s slingshot from her little boot and slipped leather covering over the rough wooden handle. In the center of the leather slip was a small but ornate stud the mother had removed from her own armor. Once the new grip had been fastened properly Xena handed it back to the now wide-eyed child. "I thought maybe you might like a cover for that handle. I know it can be sort of hard to hold and…."

The little girl needed to hear no more words. She immediately threw her arms around her mother’s neck and squeezed as tight as she could. "It’s the best present ever Momma."

Xena ran her hand up and down the youngster’s back and returned the loving hug. "I’m glad you like it baby."

Tarren lifted her head up and smiled as wide as she could as she ran her hands over the smooth leather and the stud which she knew was a personal belonging of the Warrior Princess. "Momma, you fixed my slingshot up so it looks sorta just like your stuff." She brought the stud closer to her eyes to examine the intricate design. "And you even gave me a piece of your armor," she said awe struck by the act. The small child turned to her mother and bit her lip. "It won’t fall apart on you now. Will it Momma?" she asked with noted concern.

Xena smiled and tapped the sturdy warrior gear. "Uh no Monster. It will hold together just fine," she replied reassuringly

Tarren sniffed the leather and grinned. "It even smells like you Momma. It’s really the best present I ever got ever Momma." Again she hugged the warrior.

Xena glanced at the smiling bard and nodded as she accepted the second hug from her young daughter. "Good game Gabrielle."

"I thought you’d like it." The bard smiled and then glanced own at her own presents. "I knew I should have gone first," she mumbled.

Xena chuckled a bit and pulled her youngster forward. "Tarren come on. It’s Gabrielle’s turn and she’s really good at giving gifts."

The little girl stared at her slingshot as if lost in a dream world where she was already knocking down dragons and warlord.

The mother gave the child a gentle nudge to bring her back to reality. "Tarren…It’s Gabrielle’s turn now. Put the slingshot away," she whispered.


The youngster’s eyes flickered a bit and she looked at her mother. "Huh…What Momma? Oh…sure Gabby has presents too," she smiled and tucked her slingshot proudly in her boot and then stared at her friend waiting for the gifts to be handed out.


Gabrielle took a long breath and then handed Xena a small rolled parchment. "I hope this is something you like," she said in a gentle tone.

The warrior unrolled it expecting to see a story of some great exploit but instead she was surprised to find a beautifully scripted document with colored inks made from smashed berry.


Certificate of Birth


Age of child -

H Gender female

F MotherXena <The Warrior Princess>

K FatherBorias

F BornGreece

Officially documented: A Princess Gabrielle

Amazon Tribes of the western region


The warrior mother examined the document very careful not to let her hands touch the still wet ink. She read the words to herself and then glanced at her friend. "Gabrielle…this is…perfect." Xena cleared her throat. "This is the wonderful. I don’t know what to say."

The bard smiled knowingly and touched her friend’s shoulder. "How about thanks?"

The warrior closed her eyes and nodded. "Thanks."

"Your welcome." The bard pointed to the spot that indicated age. "I think we better leave that blank until we know for sure," she said in a whisper.

Xena regained her composure and looked at the confused child sitting beside her, nodding as she ran a gentle hand through the youngster’s hair. "I agree."

Tarren glanced at the worded paper. "I don’t get it. What did Gabby give ya?" she asked wondering what power words might have.

Xena wrapped her arms around the little girl. "Well when you were born I didn’t have a …chance…to get it written down all nice and proper like. I would have liked to but I didn’t. Gabrielle wrote it all down for me," she said giving her friend a heartfelt smile.

Tarren stared at the colorful parchment. "Pretty colors…What’s it say?"

Xena grinned at the question. "Basically it says I’m your Momma."

"Didn’t ya already know that Momma?" the child asked with a frown

"Yes I knew that you little wise guy, but it’s really nice to see it in writing." Xena looked at her gentle friend. "Especially written so nicely and officiated by a member of royalty. Right Princess?" she said with a wink.

Gabrielle blushed at the use of title but felt that the document would look more official if she used it rather than just wrote bard of Potedia. "Yeah warrior."

Tarren shrugged. "Well Ok Momma if you got somethin good then I guess that’s all that matters," the child replied, hoping she herself didn’t get a parchment that said the same.

The warrior kissed the little girl tenderly on the head. "Baby, I got something great." She stared again at the document and smiled wondering how long it would take the ink to dry before she could place it someplace safe.

The youngster sighed and waited for the bard to bestow a gift to her.

Gabrielle gave the youngster a crooked smile and handed her a rolled parchment equal in size to that of the warrior’s. Tarren unrolled it but could not understand most of the words so she handed it back to the bard. "Gabby can ya read it for me?"

The bard had forgotten the child would not be able to make out some of the larger words. "Sure honey. I’d be proud to," she replied reading it aloud.


This Document certifies that Tarren daughter of Xena is officially a Warrior Princess in training under the direct supervision of her mother.

Officially registered

Princess Gabrielle

Amazons of the Western Region f



Tarren listened to the bard’s word and her mouth opened wide and her eyes grew like saucers. "Me…a real Warrior Princess in training. Really?"

The child could hardly contain her excitement at the thought.

The warrior looked at the document and then her smiling friend and quickly grabbed the bard by the arm. "Excuse us for a second Tarren. I need to talk to Princess Gabrielle."

She grumbled as she dragged the bard to the far side of camp to speak privately.

All of a sudden the royal term was not so endearing.

Xena glared at her friend as she spoke with a muffled anger. "What do you think you are doing? You know I don’t want to encourage her."

Gabrielle let out a quick breath and placed a calming hand on her friend’s shoulder. "I know but Xena she’s a little kid and one that loves her mother. She’s going to imitate you no matter what you say because she loves you. This way I figured that maybe you could set some rules. If she thinks it’s official and you’re in charge…."

The warrior mother placed a halting hand in the air. "Gabrielle I am in charge. I’m her mother," she replied with a slight growl.

The bard folded her arms and nodded. "Yup and you’re also the Warrior Princess. Wouldn’t it be nice to have both titles at your disposal to keep her our of trouble?"

Xena let out a long breath. "I don’t know about this Gabrielle," she replied letting her frustration drain.

The bard pointed to the youngster sitting by the dire turning the small parchment in different directions trying to make out the long words. The child smiled as she fingered the word’s she knew like mother and Tarren and Warrior. Gabrielle grinned. "Look at her Xena. She’s so happy just to think she’s any closer to being like you. Can it really do any harm to let her have this?" she asked, as always rushing to the defense of this little girl.

The warrior knew she had been out maneuvered. She let out another breath and shook her head. "No I guess not." She shook her head and grinned as she watched the little girl. "She sure does love being like me."

Gabrielle patted her friend’s arm. "Warrior she loves you."

Xena smiled at the words. "Yeah and you too," she replied wanting that fact clear.

The bard smiled but hen shrugged. "I know but it’s not quite the same…You’re the Momma."

The warrior grinned and placed an arm around her friend’s shoulder. "You know. This little game of your has been nice," she said as they headed back toward the fire.

The young woman twisted her lips. "You sound surprised."

Xena patted her friend’s back and then dropped on the log beside her young daughter. "Oh…I am."

"Thanks," the bard said with a smirk before taking her place beside her best friend.



Tarren immediately jumped in her mother’s lap once again. "Is it true Momma. Am I in training like Gabby said?" no longer trying to contain her excitement.

The mother looked at the bard seated beside her and let out a quick breath. "Yeah you’re sort of in training." She shook a warning finger. "But you better do as you’re told or I’ll kick your little trainee butt. Got it?"

This was a fact.

"Yes Momma." The youngster reached over and hugged the bard. "Thanks Gabby. That’s a great gift. I’m gonna keep this in my treasure bag," she said, neatly rolling it and placing it in her satchel.

The young woman smiled at the action. "Now you see Tarren we gave each other gifts and it didn’t cost anything. Wasn’t it nice?"

"Uh huh." The child nodded. "Now for my presents." She pulled two pieces of scroll from her tunic.

Xena looked at the bard and grinned wondering what kind of creatures her little girl had dragged from the forest.

"You go first this time Gabby." Tarren handed the bard a piece of scroll. "This is what I’d get ya if Momma gave me more than a dinar a week," she said with a slight frown.

The bard smiled and unrolled the parchment. She smiled and turned the scroll around to display a drawing. "This is beautiful honey and you drew it all by yourself."

Using the edge of a small quill and some ink the child had managed to scratch out a scene of the bard on a stage.

"Uh huh!"

Xena stared at the artwork. "Wow! Let’s see I guess that’s Gabrielle up on a stage and all those circles are the people in the audience. Right?"

Tarren nodded her approval at the proper identification. "Uh huh."

Gabrielle smiled proudly at her gift and reached over and kissed the little girl. "Thank you brat. I love it."

Xena stared longer at the picture trying to discern the meaning of something she saw. "Tarren what are those belts the people in the audience are wearing around their waists?" she asked confused by the added piece of costume.

The little girl shook her head and stared at the drawing. "Those aren’t belts Momma. That’s rope. I tied everyone to the chairs." She held her chin in the air and folded her arms against her little chest. "Nobody leaves until Gabby is done talking," she stated.

Xena chuckled and lifted the little girl onto her lap. "Oh so then they’re never leaving huh?"

Tarren giggled a bit and leaned against her mother’s chest.

Gabrielle glanced at the picture and then her laughing friends. "Thanks Xena." She smiled at the small child. "I really do think it’s beautiful honey."

The little girl smiled broadly at the praise. She then looked at her mother and bit her lip knowing it was time to hand out the last gift. The small fingers fiddled with the parchment and she lowered her eyes. "Momma I drew you a picture of what I think you’d wanna have most but even if I had lots of money I couldn’t get it for ya…sorry." She handed the scroll to the mother and gave her the most wide-eyed stare she could.

Xena kissed the child’s forehead tenderly and tucked the youngster to one side of her lap as she unrolled the tiny scroll. She swallowed hard and her eyes closed for a moment when she saw the picture the child had drawn just for her.

Gabrielle immediately noted the emotional reaction and tapped her friend on the arm. "Hey what did she do…draw you breathing fire again?" she asked with a grin.

Xena turned her picture around and the bard saw a caricature of the warrior princess in the center holding in one hand a small figure with a slingshot that the young woman knew must be Tarren. On the other side of the mother was a second figure, much taller than the little girl, also holding onto his warrior mother’s hand.

Gabrielle closed her eyes. "By the Gods it’s…Solon," she said in a near whisper. "It even looks like him," she said, wondering how the youngster would know the brother she had never known wore his hair long with a leather tie around his forehead.

Xena wiped a tear from the corner of her eye and stared at the child’s drawing. "Yeah it sure is."

Tarren lowered her eyes as she noticed the sadness now surrounding them. "I’m sorry Momma. I didn’t mean to make ya sad," she said, feeling her shoulders sag.

The warrior took a deep breath and wrapped her arms lovingly around her little one. "Baby, you did not make me sad. I love the picture. I can’t think of a better gift than to now have a drawing of my two children in my arms." She kissed the little girl’s cheek.

"I love you Monster. Do you know that?" she asked in as tender a tone as she had ever used.

Tarren lifted her eyes and nodded. "Uh huh…Lots Momma?"

Xena smiled and tightened her hold "Oh yeah lots and lots." She paused and rolled up her drawing and placed it beside the special certificate that Gabrielle had given her. "As a matter of fact I am going to give you another gift just because yours was so special. I think you deserve two presents." The warrior reached for a quill and parchment and scribbled a word and handed the note to her smiling daughter. "There now you have a freebee."

The youngster glanced at the torn scroll with the inkblot on it and raised her brow. "What’s that?" she asked never having heard the term before.

Xena grinned and patted the youngster affectionately on the head. "It means the next time you’re naughty you can use that freebee to keep from getting in trouble."

Gabrielle grinned at the concept. "Oh that will make it through the week," she mumbled.

Tarren’s mouth dropped open as she held the magic paper in her hand. "You mean that if I do somethin naughty that I can give you this note and I won’t get in any trouble?" she asked, wanting to be sure she had the rules straight.

The mother nodded. "Yup, but it only works once," she replied holding up a signal finger.

Tarren grinned as she thought of all the possibilities such a script could have. "Thanks Momma. I really like this solstice game. I can’t wait for the real one so Solstice Santa can come and we can give each other presents again," she said throwing her arms around the warrior in a big bear hug.

Xena returned the little girl’s love and closed her eyes. "Me too baby girl…me too."

Tarren tucked the all-powerful freebee neatly in her waistline and stared at the bard. "Gabby can I have some more scroll?" she asked with a twinkle in her eye.

The bard gave the child a crooked smile. "Why honey?"

The youngster rubbed her hands together. "I wanna start making a list of things I want from the Santa. I figure I can give it to Momma and she can send it with her report." The youngster tapped her chin as she thought about her needs. "First thing…a pony."

Xena shook her head and motioned to the bedrolls "No pony. You’re way too young so don’t even ask." She gave the small pouting child a gentle tap on the britches. "Besides it’s time for you to get to bed. It’s way past your bedtime young lady," she said in a parental but still gentle tone.

"Why do I haffta go to sleep now?" the youngster protested.

"Because I said so," the mother replied immediately.

Tarren thought about the exact meaning of those words she heard all too often. "Oh…And?"

The warrior stood and looked down at her small child. "And if you argue with me I’m gonna give that little bottom of yours a good swat," she said sternly.

It was time to be the parent again.

Tarren grinned and pulled out her freebee scroll. "Ya can’t while I got the freebee," she replied with a slight taunt.

Xena nodded and pointed to the blankets. "Well then if you don’t get ready for bed you’re gonna need it and then you won’t have it and then...."

The small child quickly dropped onto her blankets and tugged at the laces on her boots. "Yes ma’am."


The warrior leaned over to her friend. "See Gabrielle, I don’t need to reason with her…I just need to be much bigger than her," she said with a smirk.

The bard grinned as she realized this was indeed the truth. "Yup that’s why you’re the Momma." She reached over and picked up the warrior’s picture and stared at it for a moment. "Xena she’s a very special little kid."

The warrior mother looked from her friend to the drawing and nodded. "Yeah she is." She nudged the bard. "But you’re Ok too."

Gabrielle smiled at the rare verbal show of praise. "Thanks."

Xena’s expression became more serious as she eyed her younger friend. "No thank you. Tonight was really special for all of us. I really am looking forward to Solstice for the first time in many years."

"Me too," the bard replied thinking of her once favorite holiday.

Xena sighed and looked over at the little girl still tugging at he laces on her boots. "I swear she can never get the laces undone." The mother took a quick step and seated herself beside the now quiet child on the bedroll. "Hi."

The youngster looked up at her mother. "Hi Momma."

Xena motioned to the small boots. "Need some help?"

The child bit her lip and nodded placing her feet on her mother’s lap.

Xena unlaced the small boots and placed them to the side of the bedroll. "Ok I started it so I might as well finish it. Put your hands up." With a smile the mother removed the child’s tunic giving her youngster a quick tickle as she reached for the undershirt.

Tarren giggled wildly and the bard watched as the mother wrestled the britches off the small but happy child.

Gabrielle thought about the drawing of Xena with the two children and then wiped away a tear. "Very special little girl indeed," she whispered.

Once undressed and in her nighshirt Xena tucked the blankets over her little girl. "Want anything?" she asked, running a single finger across the youngster’s nose.

"Uh huh."

"What?" the mother asked.

The child smiled. "A pony."

Xena gave the child another tickle. "No pony…Anything else?"

Tarren thought about her needs. "Uh huh…A hug."

Xena reached down and hugged the youngster tightly and kissed her youngster on the cheek and nose. "Anything else?"

Tarren nodded. "Our saddlebags."

"Ours huh?" the warrior replied wondering when the large leather bags had become universal property.

The small child nodded as she ran her fingers across her mother’s armor. "Yup you said we share our stuff so they’re ours. Right Momma?"

Xena grinned and reached for the saddlebags. "Yup I guess they are Monster." She gave the little girl the bags that the child immediately embraced. She took a deep breath. "Ok Monster I think that does it."

As the warrior mother started to rise a small hand reached up and grabbed her arm. "I want you to come to bed too," she said with a wide-eyed stare.

The mother leaned over tucking the blankets tightly around the small youngster. "In a bit. I want to chat with Gabrielle for a while. Now you got to sleep," she whispered.

"Do I gotta. I can chat too ya know."

"Yes I know but I want you to go to sleep now," the warrior said firmly.

"Why Momma?"

The final words were spoken. "Because I said so."

Tarren started to protest. "But I…."

Knowing the child had placed the small parchment somewhere close by the warrior started searching for it. "Where’s that freebee?" she asked ready to put it to use.

Tarren shook her head and covered her own mouth with both hands. "No I’m going to sleep Momma," she said through her fingers.

Xena smiled and placed a final kiss on the child’s forehead. " Uh huh…You better… G’night Monster."

The child let out a short breath and removed her hands from her mouth. She reached up and again hugged her mother. "Thanks for the presents Momma."

The mother smiled. "You’re welcome baby…and thank you for mine."

"You’re welcome Momma," the child said proud that she had pleased her parent.

Xena wiped a few stray hairs from the child’s face and then stood moving back toward Gabrielle.

Tarren waved at the bard. "Gabby it’s g’nighttime," the child announced signaling the bard to add her own affectionate farewells to the youngster.

Gabrielle grinned and walked over to the small form nestled in the blankets and kissed her tenderly on the cheek. "G’night brat." She then returned to her place by the fire beside the warrior. She took a long breath and glanced at her large friend "So what did you want to chat about?" she asked having heard those words spoken to the child.

The warrior shrugged as she stared up at the night sky. I dunno…I just thought we’d talk about stuff."

The bard leaned back and smiled and joined her friend at eyeing the beautiful night sky. The two watched the stars peacefully for hours but a sound was never heard and a word was never spoken. However a lot was said.




Xena had just gotten into the bedroll she now shared with her small child and tucked the little girl neatly under her arm ready for a peaceful night’s sleep.

Gabrielle watched the mother and daughter cuddling and smiled as she finished one final entry in her diary.

Dear Diary,

It is a beautiful night under the stars and the day has been happily uneventful. It is good to be back on the road again where we can help people and feel the touch of creation all around us. Tarren has…learned the meaning of giving.



The bard smiled satisfied with her accomplishment of the evening. She placed the diary in its new leather bag and stood ready to find Morpheous. After a quick change and a deep breath she slid happily into her blankets and closed her eyes.

The young woman’s eyelids flew open suddenly and she jumped from the bedroll screaming. "Xena there’s something slimy in my bedroll…Get it out…get it out…Gods I think it licked me," she yelled in a tirade of hysterics.

The warrior mother opened her eyes and twisted her lips as she tapped her not so fast asleep child on the shoulder. "Tarren."

The youngster gave an exaggerated yawn. "Yes Momma."

The warrior placed her large open hand in front of her small daughter. "Hand it over."

The little girl rolled out her lower lip and reached under her pillow placing the beloved freebee in her mother’s palm. "Ahh Momma."

The warrior mother crumpled the now useless freebee and grinned. She tasseled the small child’s hair. "Little Monster," she whispered to the now smiling mischievous little girl. Then with a deep breath Xena the Warrior Princess shook her head and got to her feet ready to do battle with a small frog and a hysterical bard.



Merry Christmas and Happy Solstice to All

Fantimbard@aol.com and the hungry Little Ego J



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