Xena turned to Mensor. "How far to the mountain?"
"A few hour's ride but it's too treacherous to travel there by night. It will have to wait 'til morning." He explained.
"Please," King Pelagos said. "Stay the night and take advantage of the riches of the castle. I'm sure you'll find our rooms to your liking and you can unwind in our hot springs."
"Well," Xena mumbled. "I suppose it's too late to return to the inn." She glanced over at Gabrielle who appeared to have a slightly green pallor. Perhaps her over indulgence was finally catching up with her.
"I've had two of our finest rooms prepared for you." Lynchia explained.
"Oh no, we couldn't." Xena said. "One room is fine, really."
"Don't be ridiculous!" King Pelagos cried. "We have fifty rooms in the castle."
"Yes, it is no imposition, I assure you." Lynchia smiled over at Xena, her dark brown eyes sparkling.
"Oh, well, I see." Xena said shifting uncomfortably in her seat now. She was struggling. She knew Arcadia frowned upon such relationships though she was beginning to suspect Lynchia was well versed in this area. Yet she didn't want to open up herself or Gabrielle to a potential situation. However, there was no way in Tartarus she was sleeping alone tonight.
Gabrielle was watching the situation unfold in mild panic. Not only was this meal going to cost them dearly, she was going to be spending the night alone! Her eyes widened as she looked over at Xena who seemed to be at a loss for a plan, for perhaps the first time ever. Or perhaps she was lost in that woman's eyes. Think, Gabrielle, think. By the gods. "Nightmares." Gabrielle blurted out.
Everyone turned to look at her, these were the first words she had spoken since they had been seated.
"Excuse me?" Mensor asked.
"I get nightmares." Gabrielle stated. Like right now, she thought to herself.
"Yes!" Xena said. Very good Gabrielle, she smiled inwardly, the bard was improving. "She can't sleep alone, it's too much for her."
"Yes, too much. Horrible dreams. And it's always the same thing..this terrible evil beast is coming for me with red piercing eyes and long clawed fingers to tear me up, and horns jutting out of its horrific head, swishing through the air as it descends upon me." Gabrielle spoke animatedly her hands forming claws and swinging at the air for further effect. She noticed with more than a little delight that she had all three of them feeling the terrible vision as their own. Sometimes her story telling abilities came in handy in the strangest circumstances.
"Yes," Xena piped up. "Terrible really, so bad she sometimes relieves herself in her sleep."
"Xena!" Gabrielle cried in horror while attempting to laugh it off. "She exaggerates. Don't you Xena?" She turned to look at Xena, tiny daggers shooting at the warrior.
"Gabrielle's a little sensitive about the situation, you understand." Xena explained.
"Oh how terrible for you my child." Lynchia spoke down to Gabrielle. "Why your self esteem must really take a beating.....I mean, you're young, but not that young."
Child? Child? She screamed inwardly. Gabrielle's face was turning a deep crimson, partly from embarrassment, but more from anger. She wasn't sure who she was more mad with at the moment, Xena or the gorgon with the bad dress across the table.
Xena looked over at her and realized she had taken it one step too far. Oops. The bard was looking a trifle perturbed at the moment. Then to Xena's horror, Gabrielle spoke.
"But actually, I'm getting better these days." She said looking over at the king and ignoring the two women. "Much better. In fact I think I'm ready for my own room. Yep, it's time I faced my demons." She stated. "Alone." She added looking back at Xena who appeared to have been gutted with a long sword.
"She's brave.." Xena laughed lightly. "But that's a big step and I'm not sure she's ready for it quite yet." She squeezed Gabrielle's knee hard under the table.
Oww, I think I am." Gabrielle said through clenched teeth as she stifled a scream.
"Well, if you're sure." King Pelagos said uncertainly. He watched the two women across from him and was unsure why he didn't quite believe them. But he was in no position to question anything at the moment. Xena was his last chance to salvage this delicate matter before it got out of hand and he was not going to say a word.
Lynchia signaled to Gallion who hurried over from across the room. "Why don't you show Gabrielle to her room, hers is the Rapunzel, you know where. And yours Xena, is Cupid's Shrine, quite quaint, and I'm sure to your liking." Lynchia turned and smiled at Xena.
"Right away Lynchia." Gallion said as he bowed to her and the king.
Gabrielle jumped up. "Yes Gallion. Maybe you could show me round the castle as well?" She said lightly wrapping her arm around his. Ooh, she was going to make Xena pay for this one. But not for too long as she was sure she could sneak around and find her room later. Bedwetting, by the gods. She glanced down at Xena who's eyes had narrowed to slits, and then over at Lynchia who was smiling perhaps too widely. Suddenly she was having second thoughts. Perhaps she had been the one that had taken this too far.
"This way then!" Gallion pulled her towards the door.
"Wait!" Gabrielle said pulling Gallion back towards the table. She looked down at Xena with pleading eyes. "I've changed my mind."
"Come on Gabrielle." Gallion coaxed, pulling her back towards the door. "You can do this!"
"No really." She pulled him back.
"It's alright Gabrielle." Xena sighed. "You go on. I'll check on you later."
"Xena?" Gabrielle said with barely a whisper.
"You can do it Gabrielle, we're all rooting for you." Lynchia purred. The evening was turning out to be far more perfect that she could have imagined. She stole another glance at the beautiful warrior woman across from her.
Xena motioned towards the door with her eyes trying to convey to Gabrielle that she was beginning to make a scene. She could ill afford anyone in this kingdom holding this particular private information over her head. They were guests of the king now but she was not going to take a chance. She gave Gabrielle a reassuring glance.
"Would you like to see the weapons room or the torture chamber first?" Gallion asked with growing enthusiasm. He was going to have the beautiful young maiden all to himself.
"Oh, funny, torture comes to mind at the moment." Gabrielle laughed nervously as he led her out of the room. She took once last glance at Xena who gave her a reassuring nod. By the gods, Lynchia was feasting on Xena with her eyes again, it was amazing there was anything left to dine on. She was still working this over in her mind when Gallion pulled her through the door and out to the corridor.
There was an awkward pause.
"Perhaps I could show you to your room then?" Lynchia looked alluringly over at Xena.
Xena saw that look and immediately groaned inwardly. "Yeah, sure." When exactly had this evening gone so wrong. She was already feeling empty with Gabrielle gone from the room. And now she had Lynchia to contend with. She would have gladly traded everything to be back in that inn in that disgusting room that was beginning to look more and more like the Elysian Fields. So much for the vacation plans. And the Isle of Lesbos was so beautiful at this time of year.
"look into my eyes..." da dum dum dum
Cai, The Jungle Book
"Do you like what you see?" Lynchia asked as she whirled seductively around the lavish room that she had chosen for Xena.
Xena looked around. It had to be the largest and most impressive of the master bedrooms. Surely they didn't come any bigger than this? Her eyes traveled to the canopied bed with red satin sheets, thin veiled curtains hanging down from it. She immediately thought of Gabrielle and how she wished she was with her now to share in the beauty of it. To the left was a large hearth, a fire burning brightly, its glow reflecting across the ornate mantle that housed it. There was an expertly carved story of what looked to be the story of Cupid. The theme was carried across into the paintings that hung from the walls, all of lovers in various reposes having been struck by cupid's arrows. There were also tiny sculptures of him and to finish the effect there was a gold bow and arrow that hung over the bed. Interesting choice on Lynchia's part Xena smirked inwardly. To the right was a balcony and Xena walked over to investigate further. She stepped out onto a terrace that alone was the size of the room they had left back at the inn. She stood at the railing and took in the view which was breathtaking. It overlooked the city of Arcadia which shimmered from the glow of torches under the moonlit night. Her thoughts turned to Gabrielle once again.
"It's beautiful, don't you think?" Lynchia whispered as she came up behind her and brushed against her ever so subtly.
"Yes she is, I mean it is." Xena stammered. She turned to look at Lynchia whose eyes appeared to have become almost completely black under the moonlight. She was sure they had been brown at dinner. She caught herself gazing into her almost hypnotic stare.
"Beautiful." Lynchia smiled.
"Yes..beautiful." Xena repeated as she felt herself stepping into the black seductive pools of the woman's eyes.
Lynchia leaned into Xena, her eyes burning into Xena's and reaching out to the deep recesses of her soul. Yes, my love, look into my eyes, she chanted silently, and become one with me.
Xena felt an almost physical pull towards the woman who was standing in front of her. She longed to dive into the blackness of her eyes, to taste of her essence, to crawl inside and never return. She leaned forward, her lips parting ever slightly.
Lynchia felt Xena's soul slip from her ever quietly and she too leaned forward to meet her lips, her quarry now well within her grasp. She smiled inwardly at this and awaited the kiss. So easy.
Xena's lips brushed against Lynchia's, her eyes locked with the woman's but as she was about to lose herself Gabrielle's face came into her mind's eye and she staggered backwards, nearly falling over the rail. She caught herself just in time and stared in horror at the woman before her. What in Hades had come over her? "I'm sorry, I was just...." Xena stammered. Just what? Just exactly what?
Lynchia screamed in rage internally, though her features showed none of this emotion. She had been so very close but she was discovering quickly that the warrior woman's will was strong. This would not be as easy as she had originally thought. The love for that irritating brat must be very strong, though for the life of her she couldn't imagine why. "Are you alright, you nearly fell?" Lynchia purred reaching out for her arm.
Xena pulled back slightly, leaning further back over the railing. "Fine. Just fine. Really fine, great."
"Are you sure? You could have been killed." Lynchia spoke slowly and seductively.
"Oh no, really, I'm quite acrobatic, ...I mean, skilled in..." Xena's voice trailed off.
"I'm sure you are." Lynchia smiled and leaned in closer.
Xena was in fear she would indeed have to act on this and exit the room by jumping the balcony. She couldn't get any further back than she already was. "So tell me, where's Gabrielle's room?"
"Who?" Lynchia asked.
"Gabrielle, my," Gods! Xena sighed inwardly. "My best friend."
"Oh yes of course, I'm sorry, don't know what's come over me....your little friend." Lynchia chuckled. She leaned past Xena who leaned even further over the balcony, and stretched her arm past her head pointing across the court yard. "There." She said.
Xena followed her arm which was pointing outside. "Where?" She said as she turned, shifting uncomfortably around Lynchia whose breasts were precariously close to her own.
"Up there." Lynchia said pointing at the tall turret against the north wall. "The tower. It has the best view of Arcadia."
Xena groaned inwardly. "Oh, all the way up there. That's great. Great view, yah." How in Hades was she going to manage this? Xena was beginning to suspect there was nothing random about the choice of rooms here but just couldn't imagine how this woman had planned so far in advance, they'd just met at dinner. Surely she hadn't formulated such a devious plan already, had she? Xena glanced over at Lynchia, careful not to get caught in the black pools of her eyes once again. She'd never trusted mystics before but now she was really cautious. She had to keep her head clear and access the situation. Xena was beginning to suspect the woman had been using something on her just moments ago though she was not sure what that something was yet, but she would not be burned twice. "Where did you say the hot springs were?"
"I could show you the way." Lynchia purred.
"No, that won't be necessary, just point me in the right direction, I'll find it." Xena assured her.
"It's a big castle, you could get lost." Lynchia said trying to lock onto to the warrior's eyes once again.
"I'll manage." Xena said as she quickly avoided the woman's eyes.
Lynchia saw she was not going to get any further with this and gave in for the moment. "But of course. It's just down the hall, turn left at the end and it's the first door on your right. You can't miss it, it's just across from my room."
"Ahh, I see." Xena smiled curtly. "How convenient for you."
"Yes, isn't it?" Lynchia smiled.
"Well then." Xena looked away awkwardly.
"Yes, of course, I'll leave you now. There are towels in the wardrobe over there as well as other clothing for you.
"Don't mention it." Lynchia replied, "And if there's anything at all you require.."
"I'll keep that in mind."
"Please do." Lynchia said as she left the balcony.
Xena stood there for the next few moments contemplating what had just transpired. She was beginning to feel very uneasy about agreeing to help the king. She cursed herself for having given in to that young messenger. Then her thoughts turned to Gabrielle as she gazed up at that impossible tower across the courtyard and wondered just exactly what Gallion and Gabrielle were doing at the moment. She shook away such ridiculous thoughts, Gabrielle was completely trustworthy, just as completely as she was. Then she gulped at this thought. If Gabrielle was as trustworthy as she, then they'd be in big trouble. She left the balcony, stopping to grab a robe an towel and headed out of the room.
"I'm on the top of the world lookin' down on creation"
"By the gods! How much farther????" Gabrielle gasped to Gallion as she continued to climb the spiral stone staircase of the tower. She was heaving visibly and silently wondering if she was in as good shape as she had always believed.
"Oh, not much, really," Gallion replied trying to mask his own labored breath. He didn't want his prospective new conquest to think he wasn't in top form. They rounded another turn and at last they had reached the end of the journey. "There!" Gallion spoke excitedly.
"Thank the gods....I think my ears are popping....how far up ARE we?" Gabrielle gasped.
"Why we're at the highest point of the castle, the tallest turret in all of Arcadia actually." Gallion said as he opened the door to reveal a quaint cozy room with rounded stone walls decorated with various tapestries depicting the tale of Rapunzel. There were tall peaked windows located every few feet for a near panoramic view of the land. There were no corners in the room and a bed with a curved wooden headboard had been custom made especially for it. Emerald satin sheets covered it and there were soft embroidered pillows with designs of the cityscape. There was a tiny foot stool at the end of the bed carved to resemble locks of hair, spiraling across its seat and down its wooden legs. Across from this was a tiny, yet majestic hearth, a fire already burning brightly in anticipation of the guest's arrival. Gallion walked over to a wooden wardrobe that was also created with a curved back, especially for this room. "You can wear anything you'd like from here." He reached inside and pulled out an emerald silk robe. "I think this would be perfect. It matches your beautiful eyes."
"Oh thank you." Gabrielle said awkwardly as she accepted the garment. He was looking at her with far too much enthusiasm but she had to admit he had good taste. And the room, well, perhaps it was worth the climb after all. It was so cozy and romantic. She walked over to a window and took in the view of the land, it was mesmerizing. Her eyes traveled far into the distance giving the illusion she was gazing at all the world . She looked down and could see the guards posted on the walls below, and beyond that the murky moat that bordered the castle. For a split second she experienced vertigo. She closed her eyes and opened them again. She turned to see Gallion staring at her. "Pretty high up but its a nice view." She said nervously.
"Yes, beautiful." He replied coming over to her. "Has anyone ever told you how magnificent you look?"
"Oh, well, er, that's quite a compliment, really." Gabrielle leaned back slightly.
"Or how your eyes sparkle like tiny emeralds?" Gallion came closer.
"Tiny emeralds? No actually, that's new." Gabrielle laughed nervously. "Look, it's getting late, and..."
"Oh, yes, of course, I apologize, I haven't offended you have I?" Gallion stammered.
"No, oh no, listen, really, thanks for the tour, and everything. And I'll not forget the iron maiden for as long as I live." Gabrielle said.
"Yes, and with authentic blood stains still on it, I know, it's amazing isn't it!" Gallion spoke excitedly.
"Yah, that was, really great. Hmm. Listen, could you show me where Xena's room is?" Gabrielle asked tentatively.
"Sure. And the hot springs?" He asked.
"Hot springs! I forgot about the hot springs. Ok!" Gabrielle said with growing enthusiasm.
"Right this way my lady," Gallion bowed and gestured to the door.
"Why thank you kind sir." Gabrielle curtseyed on her way out. She couldn't help but succumb to his good nature.
"Splish Splash, I was taking a bath
Long about a Saturday night
A rub-a-dub, just relaxing in the tub
Thinking everything was alright"
Gabrielle stepped out of Xena's room and back into the hallway trying not to show her disappointment in front of Gallion. "She's not there." But she had left a note on the bed for Xena with an apology for when she returned. She missed her terribly already and needed to see her.
"Well the hot springs are just down here. They are really quite amazing. Many years ago the original king of Arcadia had the castle built around them." He explained.
"Really," Gabrielle replied. "Well I heard he was an evil man that sacrificed his own son on the altar of Zeus."
"Careful now, our king is his descendant after all, and besides, even evil men need a bath once in awhile." He laughed. "Well, here it is." He opened the door and a warm mist greeted them.
Gabrielle followed him inside and immediately became enchanted with the room. The hot springs were embedded into the natural stone flooring, the steam rising from the three separate pools. The edge of each was lined with lit candles creating an extremely beautiful and romantic setting. She wished Xena was here at the moment to share it with her. She felt her heart tighten at the thought of her lover sharing a bath with her in this incredible haven. The walls were all natural stone as well, no decoration was needed as the various rock formations created their own beauty. It was perfect, but empty without her.
"Well if there's anything else you need I'll just be outside. Waiting." Gallion said.
"You don't have to wait Gallion, really." Gabrielle said. Gods, how was she going to shake him.
"No trouble at all." Gallion replied.
"Why don't you go find Xena for me." Gabrielle suggested.
"Oh, alright, sure, I'll get right on that."Gallion bowed and left the room. What a woman!
By the gods, her headache was returning in full force again. Just how many more Tartarus stairs were there? And that incessant squeaking of her boots with each step was driving her insane! Breath, Xena, breath and let the tension out. Gods she needed that massage badly, perhaps she should have visited the springs first but she really needed to see Gabrielle as a small part of her was aching in her absence. And a deeper part was worried about her safety though she was fretting needlessly, there was no danger here except for Lynchia and her energies were for Xena, not Gabrielle. She was still working this over in her mind when she rounded the final corner and caught sight of salvation and the door to Gabrielle's room. Thank the gods!
Xena opened the door and found nothing. "Terrific." She spoke flatly to no one in particular. Breath deep the air Xena, breath deep the air. She turned and headed back down the stairs cursing under her breath all the way.
Gabrielle removed her clothing and laid her necklace carefully at the edge of the pool, stepping into the hot tub. An incredible warmth greeted her skin and she immediately fell into its caress, leaning back against the edge, letting the steam rise across her face. It was unbelievably relaxing and yet stimulating at the same time. She had never experienced anything quite like it. Within a few moments Gabrielle had become so relaxed she was nearly melting. But a part of her was becoming sexually charged. Gabrielle closed her eyes and pictured Xena arriving and finding her waiting for her. She had left a note to meet her at the springs and knew Xena would not disappoint her, she never did.
She pictured Xena coming up behind her and caressing her hair, gently, and the more Gabrielle thought of this the more she could almost feel her there, behind her. She felt her hand brush across her head. Gabrielle's eyes shot open and she turned her head to see who had touched her. "Xena?" There was no one there. But she was sure she had felt someone touch her, ever so subtly. Gabrielle, you're losing it here, she chuckled to herself. That'll get you for fantasizing when your lover's not here. She smiled and sank back down into the tub closing her eyes once again. Enjoy this Gabrielle and stop spooking yourself. This was luxury and it didn't come round too many times in their line of work.
Finally Gabrielle relaxed and began to soak in the sensation of the warm water swirling around her. The Elysian Fields couldn't be as incredible as this.
"I love you, forgive me, I'll be waiting for you at the springs. Naked." Xena spoke aloud to herself as she read the scroll placed discreetly on her bed. A ripple of desire spread through her. She forgot all about the headache and raced out the door in search of Gabrielle.
Her thoughts drifted to their morning together in the clearing. She could feel Xena gently stroking her hair as they lay in an embrace under the warmth of the sun. Her imagination was so vivid she could feel her hands on her head, caressing her hair, so gently, she was almost sleeping from her soft touch. "Xena.." Gabrielle murmured as her thoughts drifted towards Morpheus. The hands were so soft, so unbelievably soft.
"It's me." She whispered from behind her.
"I knew you'd come." Gabrielle smiled dreamily. She felt Xena's hands begin to massage her temples, working her way to the top of her head sending shivers down her spine from the touch. "Gods Xena, that's incredible..."
"Sweet dreams little one." She purred.
Yes, dreams, sweet dreams. Gabrielle froze. Little one? Her eyes shot open and she turned towards the voice but hands gripped her head tight and she couldn't move it. "Hey, you're hurting me." Gabrielle gasped. "What--" Gabrielle's voice was cut off as her head was forced down under, her mouth filling with water. A terrible fear shot through her as her hands instinctively flew up and tried to tear away at the hands that held her strong. There was nothing there. Her mind raced wildly as she tried to comprehend this while also trying desperately to survive. Her lungs were burning and choking at the same time, her heart pounding madly in her chest. She felt for the edge of the tub, her hands working their way up the sides from under the water. She caught the edge and pulled herself up against the force that held her. Her head broke the surface momentarily and she gasped for air. Then her head was plunged down hard. She tried again to release herself from the death grip but when she reached back there was nothing, no hands to grip, only air. It made no sense, nothing made sense, anymore. Her head was becoming light, her world becoming a pinpoint, her mind sliding into another place, far away from the panicked nightmare that had become her last breath. And finally she did open her mouth to breathe, and the water filled her lungs, and her world filled with darkness.
Xena smiled as she opened the door. She had done a cursory check and there was no one in the halls. She was feeling fairly confident they would not be disturbed. The mist greeted her as she stepped inside. Oh she was going to enjoy this immensely, her eyes traveled over to the central springs where a robe lay discarded. She walked over wondering where Gabrielle was hiding, perhaps this was part of the plan. By the gods, Gabrielle never ceased to amaze her, she was so... Xena's heart leapt into her throat. She stared in horror at the figure floating face down in the water. Her mouth opened to call her name but no words came forth.
Xena broke from her fear and jumped into the pool pulling Gabrielle out of the water. She clasped her face in her hands. "Gabrielle!" She shook her.
Her face was deathly gray. She lifted her out of the water and onto the floor. She jumped out herself and turned Gabrielle over on her stomach and pushed hard on her back, forcing water to run out Gabrielle's mouth and onto the cold stones. "Come on Gabrielle, don't you even think about it." Xena cried as she pushed hard on her back again, more water pouring from it. Xena was trying not to panic, there was no time for that now. She turned her over on her back and bent down, placing her lips on Gabrielle's own, and breathed deeply into her lungs.
Xena breathed into her lungs again pleading silently for her to wake. She put her ear to Gabrielle's chest and heard a faint beating. "Come on Gabrielle...please....for me.." Xena pleaded as she bent down and placed her mouth on Gabrielle's once again. Suddenly Gabrielle coughed, her lungs spitting up the water onto Xena's lips. Tears began to spill down Xena's face as she lifted Gabrielle into a sitting position and held her as she coughed up more water, and began to breathe on her own once again.
"Xena?" Gabrielle whispered as she slowly broke through the haze of unconsciousness.
"It's me," Xena whispered through her tears. "I'm here, you're ok, I'm here." She said as she gripped the bard tighter to her chest, more for her own reassurance than anything. Gabrielle coughed again and Xena rocked her gently.
"She pushed my head under, I couldn't breathe." Gabrielle gasped through her tears.
Xena stiffened. "What do you mean?"
"Hands, I thought it was you....but then she spoke and I knew it wasn't you.." Gabrielle whispered. "I couldn't breathe." Gabrielle started to shake uncontrollably.
"It's alright...we'll talk about it later...don't think about now...I've got you." Xena spoke soothingly in Gabrielle's ear and tightened her grip.
"I reached up but there was no one there." Gabrielle sobbed.
"Shhh, you were scared, don't think about it now." Xena said. But inside she was still letting her words sink in. Her? Lynchia? What in Hades was going on here. Well she'd had enough. They would be leaving in the morning, promise or no promise. She had a very bad feeling about this place and she wasn't taking any chances. The king would have to find someone else to solve his problems because it wasn't going to be her. Her thoughts traveled back to Gabrielle's words. No one there? She must have imagined it so.
"I don't want to sleep alone tonight." Gabrielle whispered through tears of emotion. She was beginning to realize how close she'd come to the Elysian Fields after all.
"You won't be, I'm not leaving you out of my sight." Xena whispered as she kissed the top of Gabrielle's head.
"Can we go now?" Gabrielle asked. "This place scares me."
"Of course we can." Xena lifted the bard up and wrapped her in the robe.
"My necklace," Gabrielle whispered.
Xena looked over at the pentalpha, "Oh yeah, for a good luck amulet it hasn't been working too well so far."
"It's from you, and that's all that matters." Gabrielle spoke quietly as Xena placed it back over her head.
She noted with concern that Gabrielle had begun to shake, her eyes glazing over. She lifted her up and carried her out of the room.
"Xena! What's wrong!??" Gallion cried as he rounded the corner to see Xena, visibly distraught, carrying Gabrielle in her arms.
"Gabrielle nearly drowned in your hot springs." Xena said flatly and walked past him.
"Wait! By the gods, is she alright?" He asked desperately as he ran to catch up to her.
"She'll be fine, as soon as we get out of this place." Xena growled and continued on.
"Xena, you can't mean that, the king needs your help." Gallion said. "Please."
Xena stopped and whirled around facing him, anger seething through her pores. "Why should I?!!!"
Gallion nearly jumped out of his skin. The warrior was furious and he was just beginning to realize how much he didn't want to be the object of her wrath. "I..you're right...I'm.." He stuttered. "Is there anything I can do?"
Xena's eyes narrowed to slits. "Where's Lynchia?"
"Lynchia? Her and Mensor are in the library. They're going over plans. I was just there looking for you and I got talking." He replied.
"Lynchia was there? How long?!" Xena barked.
"Xena.." Gabrielle groaned and nestled further into her.
"It's alright Gabrielle." Xena whispered, softening slightly from the sound of her voice.
"Well she was there when I arrived, after I dropped Gabrielle at the Hot Springs." Gallion stammered.
"The whole time?" Xena asked, her brow furrowing as she worked this information over in her mind.
"Yes, she never left the room, why?" Gallion asked tentatively, afraid the warrior would explode again.
"Nothing. Goodnight Gallion." She said evenly and continued walking without another word.
Gallion was left standing in the empty hall wondering what in Hades had happened. No one had ever nearly drowned in the hot springs. This was not good, and now everything was ruined. How was he going to explain this to the king? And his poor Gabrielle, part of him wished he was the one carrying her to his room. He shook his head to dismiss such thoughts. He had to concentrate. He had to find some way to turn the warrior woman around before the king found out. He just had to.
"All I need is the air that I breathe, and to love you"
Olivia Newton John
She was tied down, her mouth gagged and her eyes blindfolded. The wind was whipping up around her as she lay across a cold stone. She struggled to free herself from the binds but they held her fast. Her heart was pounding wildly in her chest, she new it was coming, but she just didn't know what it would be. The night was still except for the beating of her desperate heart as she waited for it to come for her. And then she heard it faintly, thudding towards her, the ground shaking with each step that grew louder as it neared. Her mind was racing trying to envision what would make such a sound. A terrible mind numbing fear had spread across her and she opened her mouth to scream but no sound came out. Then it was there. Breathing. And she felt it lift the blindfold from her face. She braced herself for a vision of terror. She opened her eyes and it was Xena. An incredible relief spread across her. "Xena!" She found her voice. Xena bent down smiling at her, she held a goblet in her hand, she began to pour the red liquid down Gabrielle's throat.
Gabrielle began to choke on the liquid, Xena continued to pour it, a blank expression now covering her face. "Stop..st.." Gabrielle choked on her words, liquid now spilling everywhere. She looked pleadingly at her, but Xena's eyes showed no mercy, and then her face began to change, and her ice blue eyes rolled over in her head and became dark. Gabrielle tried to scream but her words were choked, she was gasping, as she desperately tried to .....
"Breathe Gabrielle!" Xena cried as she lifted her into a sitting position on the bed. She pounded on her back as Gabrielle choked up more water in her sleep.
"Xena?" Gabrielle gasped as she coughed again into Xena's shoulder.
"I'm here." Xena replied, relief flooding over her. She had been watching over her intently for the last hour as she slept in case something like this would happen. She doubted she was going to sleep at all tonight, she was so on edge. "I'm here, it's ok." She rocked her gently.
"Nightmare.." Gabrielle gasped.
"It's no wonder."
Gabrielle pulled away slightly and looked into Xena's eyes...thank the gods, they were as beautifully ice blue as always, concern and compassion visible in their gaze. A warm flood of emotions spilled over Gabrielle's heart. "Xena," She whispered.
"Yes, Gabrielle?" Xena asked, locking onto the green eyes of her lover.
"Make love to me Xena." Gabrielle pleaded. "I need you..."
"Gabrielle...You need to sleep."
"Please...Xena...I need...." Gabrielle whispered, on the verge of fresh tears.
Xena stroked Gabrielle's hair gently as those green eyes called to her . She would give her anything her heart desired. Gods, she wanted to squeeze her so tight she was afraid she's break her, the emotions running through her were so strong. She leaned down and kissed her softly at first, and then more passionately as she felt Gabrielle respond to the caress of her lips. Xena laid Gabrielle back down on the bed gently, taking herself with her, their lips still in a tight embrace.
Gabrielle ran her fingers through Xena's hair pulling her closer, needing to have her closer, needing to sink into her skin and forget the terrible images that were still fresh in her mind. Only the touch of Xena's lips on hers could offer her such release. She kissed her deeply, eliciting a deep groan from Xena and all thoughts left her except for the sensation of her body against hers.
Xena pulled away and looked into Gabrielle's eyes, which were dark and alive from her touch. "Are you sure?" Xena whispered, her voice betraying the passion that was already building inside her. Gabrielle nodded and reached up to pull her close again. Xena began to remove her clothes, her eyes never leaving Gabrielle.
"She says she's leaving in the morning, what will we tell King Pelagos?" Gallion asked, desperation in his voice.
Mensor paced back and forth while Lynchia watched from her reclined position on the hand crafted love seat in the corner of the library. Inside she was smiling but her sullen expression of mock concern betrayed none of this.
"I don't know...let me think!" Mensor snapped back at him. He turned to Lynchia, "You seemed to get along with her, what do you think?"
"Hmm,?" She said. She was only half paying attention, her mind was elsewhere, in Cupid's room, where she could feel the passion between the two women building. She felt it as her own.
"Gods..Xena...." Gabrielle groaned as Xena circled her nipple, already hardened from her touch. She tried to lay back and soak in the sensation but she couldn't stop herself from wanting to feel every part of Xena's body with her hands. She was already aching inside from the heat of her lover's passionate caresses. A pleasurable warmth shot from her breast to her groin as Xena flicked her tongue expertly. Gabrielle began to moan softly, small gasps escaping her lips.
Xena in turn, sucked harder, and with each gasp from Gabrielle, a ripple of desire spread through her. She was trying desperately to go slowly and savor this pleasure but she was quickly losing the fight. She closed her eyes and basked in the feel of her lover's body against her own. Gods, there was no one that had been able to drive the heat in her so intensely as this woman did now. She sighed deeply and let herself give in to the waves of warmth that splashed over her. She was on fire.
"Maybe if we told her another maiden had been stolen from her bed last night. She'd have to change her mind." Mentor spoke to the others.
"That is pure evil Mensor." Lynchia smiled as she shifted on the couch. She was starting to feel very warm now, it was spreading from her groin out to the tips of her toes, her fingers tingling from the touch of Gabrielle on her hands. She was mildly excited that she had failed in her attempt to drown the brat. Perhaps she had misjudged the potential of her for something a little more enticing. She was pleasantly surprised.
"Yes, Mensor, that just wouldn't be right....afterall she's honorable and we shouldn't, couldn't lie like that." Gallion said with more than mild concern at the direction the conversation was heading.
"Would you rather suffer the wrath of the king?!" Mensor cried staring down at Gallion's fearful eyes. "Want to remain a lowly messenger boy for the remainder of your puny existence??"
"Mensor," Lynchia purred, "You're scaring the boy." She turned to Gallion, her eyes soft, and sympathizing. "Mensor's right Gallion. What's a little white lie amongst friends? It's not like we're truly lying...girls have been going missing..er.. after all." She nearly tripped over her last words as a surge of pleasure shot through her. "And I think the King's Protégé would have to agree, don't you?" She said as she gazed intently at Gallion, her lips slightly parting. Xena was hers and she wasn't going to let some sniveling boy ruin everything with his warped sense of ideals. "Oh," She gasped, and had to bite her lip to keep from crying out. By the gods, these women were amazing.
Both men turned to look at Lynchia with mild puzzlement.
"Raven hair and ruby lips, sparks fly from her fingertips"
Xena stared down at Gabrielle, she was straddling her, her hand slowly caressing Gabrielle's breasts. Shivers were rippling up her spine and down her legs as Gabrielle squeezed her thighs, working her hands slowly towards her center, that was aching in anticipation of her lovers touch. "I love you." Xena whispered to her, her eyes locking with the deep green of Gabrielle's. Then she threw her head forward as Gabrielle touched her lightly between her legs, stroking her, slowly, and seductively. Xena closed her eyes and began to moan.
Gabrielle enjoyed the feel of Xena's hair gently falling across her stomach. She could feel Xena's thighs quivering as she worked her hands teasingly slow, savoring each moan from the warrior's lips. With each shudder her own loins ached more insistently.
Xena lifted her head and gazed into her lover's eyes and reached behind placing her hands into Gabrielle's wetness. The bard gasped, arching her back, but never leaving Xena's stare. Their eyes locked, their mouths slightly parted, as the heat built within them.
"Agreed." Gallion said, his voice barely a whisper.
"That's the boy, Gallion." Mensor gave him a reassuring slap on the back.
"Yessss," Lynchia gasped.
Both men looked over at her once again. Mensor noticed with slight concern that Lynchia appeared to be flushed. "Are you alright Lynchia?"
"Hmmm....perfect.." Lynchia purred.
"You want some water Lynchia?" Gallion asked. Perhaps the strain was getting to her. He looked closer at her and suddenly caught himself staring into her deep brown eyes. His eyes widened in surprise as they began to change to an ice blue. What in Hades?
"She held me spellbound in the night, dancing shadows and firelight"
"Kiss me..."Gabrielle gasped and Xena immediately bent down and locked her lips on the bard's open mouth, never leaving her eyes for even a second. She wanted to see Gabrielle's face when she released herself to her. She was trying hard to hold back her own as she wanted to share this moment together. Her thighs were beginning to shake uncontrollably and she was starting to lose herself to the sensation. "Gabrielle..."Xena gasped, searching for confirmation in her lover's brilliant green eyes, the firelight from the hearth dancing across them. Gods, she loved this woman more than life itself. Everything dropped away but the green of those beautiful eyes.
Gabrielle understood Xena's plea, a surge of heat shooting through her from the sound of her voice. She stared deeply into Xena's eyes in answer to her, as she allowed herself to let go, finally. Her body began to writhe as wave after wave of pleasure swept over her, and she could feel Xena's own release in her hands as the warrior moaned loudly under her lips. So perfect were her blue eyes, but as her last surge of orgasm spread over her she could swear for a second she had thought Xena's eyes had turned brown. But they were as blue as ever, if not a deeper blue, as her lover collapsed into her arms.
"When you arouse the need in my
My heart says yes indeed in me"
Witchcraft, Frank Sinatra
Xena traced the tip of he finger down Gabrielle's face, and down her neck, playing with the natural lines under her skin. She had been doing this for the last half hour, ever since the first rays of light had filtered through the terrace and onto their bed. She was so beautiful when she slept, no worry to cloud her perfect features. She had almost lost her last night and she tried hard not to think too much about this, it hurt too deeply. She lifted Gabrielle's hand to her lips and softy kissed her palm. The bard moaned in her sleep and Xena smiled. She knew she shouldn't be disturbing her, as she needed to rest, but she just couldn't seem to control herself. She slipped a finger inside her mouth, sucking on it gently as the bard moaned louder and began to stir. Xena stop this right now, she scolded herself. But then she placed her mouth over the next finger, her tongue circling its tip, a wicked grin spreading as she watched the bard instinctively arch her back. You devil Xena, bad, bad, bad. She bent down and placed her lips on Gabrielle's nipple, taking it in her mouth and teasingly pulling on it.
"Xena..." Gabrielle gasped as she placed her hands on the warrior's head urging her to suck harder. "Morning..."
Xena lifted her head smiling at her waking bard. "Morning...how are you feeling?"
"I'm great...I'm good.." Gabrielle smiled back at her through half closed eyes.
"I'm sorry I woke you." Xena whispered.
"Don't be." Gabrielle said looking into the soft blue eyes of her warrior. Her heart quickened from the desire she found there. "Gods...come here.." She whispered. Xena sank down and lost herself once again.
Gallion paced back and forth in front of the door to Xena's room. It was too early to knock but he didn't know what else to do with himself. He had barely slept a wink and he was mad that he had to be the one to deliver the lie. Seniority rules sucked, especially since he always seemed to be at the wrong end of the deal. He raised his hand to knock and quickly stopped himself. He'd give her another half an hour and then he'd have to knock or he'd explode from the wait.
"I guess I should be in the tower.." Gabrielle chuckled to Xena who was now melted into her, her head resting in the crook of her neck.
"Too many stairs." Xena mumbled through half closed eyes.
"But I thought it wasn't condoned here..." Gabrielle whispered.
"To Tartarus with all of them..." Xena spoke. "Just let anyone try to come near us." She said with growing anger.
"Xena, it's alright,"Gabrielle stroked her hair. "They just fear what they don't understand." She sighed.
The bard's words soothed Xena, yet again, like nothing else could. "Gabrielle..you don't know how much I love..."
"I know..." Gabrielle whispered to her lover.
A knock came on the door and they both stiffened.
"Hades." Xena growled and reluctantly left her lover's arms. "Just lay still." She instructed as she slipped a robe over her naked body.
Xena went over to the door and opened it a crack. Deja vu. It was Gallion. "What is it?" She growled.
"I.." Gallion hesitated from the sound of the warrior's voice. "I was hoping you'd reconsidered."
"I haven't." She closed the door in his face.
He stuck his foot in the door and winced as pain shot up his leg. Gods this woman was strong. "Wait...please...you have to." He pleaded.
"Give me a reason!" Xena barked.
He looked away from her ice blue eyes. "Another maiden was taken last night."
"When? Where?" Xena asked with growing agitation. Hades, Hades, Hades.
Good question, Gallion cried inwardly. By the gods he wasn't very good at this. Stupid, stupid, stupid. "In Lycosura. Near the temple." He stammered.
"Word travels fast." Xena said slowly, he was lying.
"Yes, true.." He said quietly.
"The truth Gallion, or I'll close this door and take your foot with it." She spoke evenly.
Gallion looked into the warrior's eyes. "We thought that if we told you, you'd change your mind."
"We, which we?" Xena asked.
"Mensor and Lynchia....and me, I guess." He said, his voice barely a whisper, his shame was so great.
Xena struggled. Part of her wanted to get as far away from this as possible but another part knew that she should go to the temple, as promised, lives depended on it. She was just so tired, so very tired. And perhaps scared, a new emotion that had deepened with Gabrielle wrapped so tightly around her heart. Then she felt her hand on her back, gentle and soothing, and she had her answer. "Get everybody ready, we leave within the hour." She closed the door.
"I love you." Xena whispered to Gabrielle as she wrapped her arms around her hugging her fiercely.
"Vacation's are for wooses anyway." Gabrielle smiled into her lover's chest.