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DISCLAIMER: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle are the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. This is a work of fan fiction, and there is no attempt to profit from the use of these characters.
WARNING: This story contains violence and several graphic descriptions of sexual activity between consenting adult females. If you are under 18, please stop reading and find something more age-appropriate to do. If any of this is deemed illegal where you live, please stop reading this and read the most recent Supreme Court decision regarding freedom of speech. If you are already upset or offended by this warning or feel that reading this story will upset or offend you, please find something else to read.
The Dragon's Child
"What is it you want from me?"
The young woman stared at her companion. After years of traveling together, of surviving through wit and strength, of caring for each other through sorrow and laughter, of pledging their very lives for the good of the other, it had finally come to this: What is it you want from me? With a sigh that carried the weight of her very soul, she said, "Nothing."
And she walked away.
The tall warrior, her mentor and protector, lover and friend, did not call her back. Or follow.
And so Gabrielle went toward the light of a rising sun.
And Xena stepped back into the darkness of the forest--and of her soul.
Part 1: Emiril's Children
The bard looked around the tavern at her audience. She held them as if on a tether, and she moved them with her breath as a parchment can be moved by the wind.
"The Dragon Emiril offered to help the villagers on one condition: They would give one child to live with the dragon. And, the dragon promised, at the end of the year, that child would return to her family, and another child would become the dragon's companion for a year. The villagers didn't really trust Emiril, but they felt they had no choice. The cyclops that had taken up residence in the caves just outside of town was eating their sheep and cattle and taking their tenderest children anyway. So they agreed. Emiril went to the caves and told the cyclops to leave, and, when he would not, the dragon sent her flaming breath into the cave. The fire chased the cyclops to the lowest reaches of the deepest part of the most remote cave. And the cyclops, unable to run any farther, was burned to ashes."
"The next day Emiril came to the village to collect, and the villagers gave to her an orphan child, a child to whom no one in the world laid claim. The dragon put this child on her back and flew to her lonely valley, a place once the most beautiful on earth, but now brown and sere since all the dragons had died save one. And Emiril asked the unclaimed child her name, and, being told the child had never been called anything but "Hey, you" and "Getoutahere," she named the child "Carida," because this had been the name of her first and most desired dragon-child."
"Carida stayed with the dragon for the year. But, at the end of the year, when Emiril returned to the village and asked for a second child, Carida was not with her. The villagers said, "Where is the first child we gave you? You are supposed to return her before taking a second." And the dragon breathed a small flame that stopped just short of the headman's toes, and said, "There was a slight . . . .mishap with that first child. Please give me another, and I will be more careful this time." So the villagers offered the dragon the worst child in the village, the one that was the shame of his mother and who had never known his father, and who wore out the whipping arm of every schoolmaster hired. And the dragon said, "Deal. I'll take him." So this child climbed onto the back of the dragon and was also flown to the lonely valley. Emiril said to the terrible child, "What is your name?" And the child said, "Whatsittoya?" The dragon found this name impossible to pronounce with her dragonish tongue, so she named the child "Palomo," because this had been the name of her sweetest dragon-child."
"Of course, after another year had passed, the dragon returned to the village and demanded yet another child. The villagers noticed that the second child had not been returned as promised, but smoke from the dragon's nose showed that her fire was fully fueled, and, besides, the village had been a quieter place without that awful child. So they found another child whom no one would mourn and gave that one to the dragon. And so it went, from year to year, until finally a year came when the village found it had no more disposable children. And, that year, when Emiril came for a child, the villagers banded together and, with spears and swords and bows and arrows and knives and daggers and even farm implements, they attacked the dragon and spilled all of her dragon blood upon the dusty ground. Then one of the villagers said, "Why didn't we do this sooner? Why did we not kill the dragon that first year and so save every child?"
"Feeling guilty for the deaths of all the children in all the years since the bargain had been struck, the villagers decided to go to the Emiril's valley and put up a monument to all those little wasted lives and, if bones existed and had not been burned to ashes, to put them respectfully below ground as a way of asking forgiveness. And when the villagers came to the valley after a long and dangerous trip, guess what they found? No, not little bones. Or ashes where little bones might have been. They found a thriving village. And in it were living all the children their village had given to Emiril over the years. From the very first children, Carida and Palomo, who were married and now had children of their own to the very youngest, the last unwanted child of their own village, a child Emiril had named Mariposa for the most talented and last of her own dragon-children. And every child in this village, the smallest, the largest, the most mischievous, and the fastest and the slowest to learn, every child in this village was WANTED and every child was LOVED. And the valley was green and beautiful again."
When the barmaid passed a cup to collect from the tavern patrons, all but one man found at least one coin to give the little bard. And the few women who served the men or kept them company remembered the names: Carida, Palomo, and Mariposa. In the next few years, the village would have a wealth of children called by those names.
The one man who did not give a coin, stood up and staggered to within a few paces of the story-teller. "What's this with tales about dragons and children?" he slurred. "I didn't come to hear a bedtime story, little girl."
Thinking there was one in every crowd, a thought performers have had since the first stood up to describe a hunt by the light of a fire, the slight, red-haired woman, said, "Maybe I can guess what you came for." Making a show of smelling his breath and waving away the fumes, she guessed, "Was it the ale?"
Everyone laughed but the man. "I'm drunk, but I know what I want. Don't want a story 'bout no friggin' dragon. Want a story about Xena. One where she's a do-gooder or one where she's a warlord. Don't matter. Just so she kicks butt!"
The bard stood up and headed for the door. She turned just before stepping into the night. "I don't know any stories about Xena. None that I will tell."
Part 2: The Bard's Story
People have always liked to guess if Xena and I were lovers. Wherever we went, the whispers were there. Are they? Aren't they?
Most people liked to think we were. And then they would ask: When and why? At first, when Xena was rough-mannered and still carried the soul-stench of a warlord on her, they figured she just took me. I must be her captive, with no more choice in the matter than any slave. Later, when I wore the clothing and the dignity of an Amazon, they figured we were warrior-lovers, bound for the campaign, together until battles were fought and won, when we would separate and make peacetime lives with men as lovers. Finally, as our fame grew and what we had gone through for each other was known, and it became legend that we had defied Death herself to be together, they said we were immortal lovers, two bodies with one soul.
I never told anyone the truth of it until now. But I figure it won't hurt to write it down.
Were we? Weren't we? Of course, we were. When? Soon after we met. Why? Warlord and captive, warrior-lovers, or two bodies with one soul? At some time, each of those. Here's how it began:
I was hungry, and I got cold.
At this time, Xena had saved my life from ruffians who worked for the warlord Draco. And I had followed her out of boredom, hero worship, and maybe something more. Then I had saved her life. Yes, you don't often hear about how Gabrielle the BARD saved Xena the WARRIOR PRINCESS's hide, but I did it plenty of times. It doesn't get told because I'm the one who makes up and tells the stories. This time was the first, and I saved her from being stoned by people of her own home village. After her own mother washed her hands of her. Her own MOTHER! Xena put down her weapons and practically invited them to execute her. At that time, she had a tendency to do that, you know. But I stepped in and, when I couldn't convince the villagers that Xena had reformed, I told them that Draco was Xena's lover and he would not be happy if he no longer had her to . . . . well, you get the idea. Of course, they backed down, and Xena defeated Draco, with a little hand, or rather FOOT from me. But everybody knows that story.
What they don't know is what happened afterward. Xena took off without me, and I followed on foot. She's either not a very fast rider, or she was never trying to get away at all. I was going to hang around until I had another chance to save her life. But it got dark, and I got cold, and I got hungry. . . . And I went to Xena's camp. She fed me some stew and threw me her blanket, and that's the end of the story I've told in taverns.
It was a very dark night and cold, and I had the only blanket. Xena's pretty tough, but she's not as STOIC as I usually make out. The wood was a little wet, and the fire burned down, and next thing I knew, there was a shivering warrior in the blanket with me.
Now I didn't know much. But I knew she had clothes on, what there was of them, when she was by the fire. And I knew naked skin when I felt it under a coarse blanket. "What are you doing?" I asked.
"Removing your blouse. Where's the tie on this thing?"
"Flesh against flesh is warmer."
"Oh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What are you doing now?"
"Teaching you something I learned when I was the same age as you."
I have to tell you that Xena was always a good teacher.
She kissed me the way I thought only men kiss women, and later learned was the way men almost never kiss women. Not knowing what to do, I kept my lips firm and pressed them together, returning her kiss like I had kissed the back of my hand while practicing at home. She opened her lips and sucked my bottom lip into her mouth. She tugged on it, and I felt that tug to the root of my being. Letting go after one small nip, she ran just the tip of her tongue around the inside of my lips. Then she said, "Close your eyes," and she kissed each lid before returning to my mouth, which now awaited hers, eager, wanting to learn. Her tongue entered then, exploring, caressing my own, thrusting as my body began thrusting, not knowing why but acting as its nature said it should.
She laughed then, that throaty laugh I later heard whenever we made love. And when it was kill or be killed in battle. Same laugh. Same emotion?
Until now, we were lying side-by-side, Xena cradling me in her arms, holding my head in both her weapon-hardened hands. Xena's hands. Long fingers, narrow palms. . . . But I'm getting far ahead of the story. Now Xena moved the top half of her body over mine, and slid her head down my chest, kissing and licking my skin as she went, bringing it alive, giving it an ability to feel that it had never had. When she reached my breasts, she asked, "Is this your first time?"
Again the laugh. "Making love."
Is that what we were doing? I had suspected, but I wasn't sure. "Yes."
"You're going to be very good at it," she said. "I can already tell." Then she did something that will keep me from ever completely cursing her name. Xena took the nipple of my right breast in her mouth and, taking hold of it with her teeth, pulled on it until I thought she would pluck it off. And a sound came from my mouth, no, from my being, a sound I never would have thought could come from me. And then she moved to my left breast and did the same thing to that nipple, and the sound came again. Xena nuzzled each breast and, as she suckled on one, she used her thumb and forefinger to torture the nipple of the other. This went on until I was bucking and thrusting against her so madly I thought I would never regain my senses again. Nor ever feel pain and pleasure more exquisite than this.
Then Xena ripped the waist of my long skirt and pulled it off over my feet.
Being down there anyway, she kissed each toe and drew each in turn into her mouth. I giggled, singing in my mind a childish rhyme that named each toe, until I realized that it was like having ten nipples sucked upon instead of just two. As my urgency grew, Xena slowly slid her naked body, no longer cold, but now slicked with the sweat of passion, up my legs. And suddenly, I no longer thrust, but found myself completely still, frozen in place like a small animal held in the sinuous coils of a snake.
Strong hands parted my legs, and I did not resist. I felt soft hair against my thighs and belly and then. . . .a breath, soft, just a gentle exhalation and then another. And my body lifted of its own accord, a supplication more eloquent than words. Xena, less heartless even then than some would call her, softly sought the source of this plea. Parting the last barriers, the mouth that had brought me to this state beyond mere readiness touched that small button of flesh, grown more hard and aching than any touch of mine had ever felt it. Her tongue caressed and then released it, to run along each side, widening and lengthening the area of passion until it came to the opening, the well-spring of a fluid I had not known myself to possess. It played around this opening, which began to ache with need for something more, for some culmination of all the acts that had come before. Her lips and tongue lapped up my liquid passion until her hands had to tighten their hold upon my thighs, straining upward, trying for more contact, some act she was still withholding. Her tongue darted in and out but only to increase my need and never reach it. I felt her hand move up and replace her tongue. I knew that she would do it now, give me what my body knew it needed, desired now beyond all else.
And then she pulled back, and I heard how rough her breathing had become. "That isn't for me to do." She pressed her fingers hard across my opening and, placing her mouth back over the aching button, sucked in sharply and then touched it with her tongue.
I exploded in an ecstasy that felt like pain, a pain I knew must end or I would die. And that I hoped would go on until I did.
That was the first stage of our relationship. And even then WE WERE.
Part 3: Simple Courtesy
"Wise men stay out of her way," Meko the barkeep told the surly stranger.
"Why should I walk carefully around HER?" the man asked. "She should watch out for ME!"
The barkeep, who was the one who mopped up spills, be they beer or blood, shook his head sorrowfully. He calculated the amount of sawdust remaining in the bucket behind the bar and thought about the amount of blood this big bandit had in him. Too little sawdust. Entirely too much blood.
Xena stepped up to the bar, and Meko placed a tall earthenware mug in front of her. She had already had several drinks since sunset but hardly showed it. As she raised the mug, the stranger jostled her arm. Not spilling a drop, she switched the mug to the other hand and drank it in one draught. "Another."
"You're Xena," the big man said.
"Tough call," she said. "Another for the smart man, too."
"Buying me a drink, huh? Why don't you come outside with me instead?" He licked his lips in what was supposed to a lascivious gesture.
"Why would I want to go outside? The ale's in here."
"You're right. We could just do it on the floor." He laughed. "Everyone could watch."
Xena drank half of her new drink and sighed, a weary sound. "Outside?" Meko asked quietly.
She nodded. "Come on." The stranger looked surprised, expecting that his invitation would lead to a sword fight and that to the making of his reputation. Oh, well, he thought, as much as he thought at all, there are other kinds of reputation. And he could still kill her later. Swaggering, he followed Xena to the door. Since everyone else knew the outcome and had seen it for three nights in a row, no one followed. Seen one jackass meet his end, seen 'em all.
Xena returned alone. As she climbed the stairs to her room, you would have to know her well to see she staggered slightly. Not bad, thought Meko, for someone who had been drunk for three days.
Continiued - Chapters 4 -6
The Bard's Corner