Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle and others mentioned, belong to
MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No infringement on their rights are intended.
Subtext Disclaimer: If youve been reading the series, you know that their two thousand years old, back in their original bodies, in love and have a very hot sex life, but not in this story. Sorry. In this story original bodies are really original.
Timeline: Plan D #8a. (Yes, 8a! with more little letters to follow. See note.)
Shock Factor: 4. This story has moments of extreme graphic violence.
Note: Okay, heres the scoop. Im introducing a new character to the Plan D series, but her origins go way back to the Greek times. So Im doing a little sub-series called Ancient Secrets to lay the foundation for the character. Once that is completed, it will be back to Plan D as usual and you will catch glimpses of Grace and Faith along the way.
Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ancient Secrets (a)
Swinging her sword upward with one hand, T slashed through the nearest body, separating a torso from hips, as her claws ripped the throat from another. Bringing the sword down, she didnt feel the soldiers blade slice her side open and cut off his arm, then his head. Her eyes seeing red, she flicked her wrist, releasing the dagger from her gauntlet and gripping it, she sent it sailing into the throat of a soldier as he approached the line to her left. Lunging forward, her golden sword hacked through another body, sending blood spraying skyward, only to have it beaten downward by the rain, that washed it into the muddy street. Spinning she sliced through a leg, jabbing her elbow into his neck, crushing his windpipe and snapping his spine, then blocked a blow to her right, bringing her sword up and around, rotating her wrist, sending a streak of steel into another body, that crumpled to the littered ground, she cut open the senders chest. A low growl escaped her throat, with the next body and the next, as the blood flowed from her side, melding with the rain, her motions never ceased and she drove the invisible line forward and the soldiers further back, filling the muddy street with men, pieces of men, their blood, lost weapons and their hope of seeing the coming dawn. Raising her sword, T drove it deep into the man, shoving it through his body and looked into his eyes as he came slowly to her. Feeling a cold twinge pass her heart as he fell forward, she roared, sending the gutteral bellow echoing off the buildings, grabbing his leather armor, shoving him backwards and felt the sword slide out of her chest. Looking down, as the mans eyes closed, she growled, then raised her eyes, searching for the next attack. Finding no one, she stilled, holding her sword, as her lungs heaved and burned with exhaustion. Slowly the rage seeped from her, as her eyes shifted from red, to gold, then to a dark brown and the irises grew round again. Closing her eyes, T lifted her head, feeling the cold rain on her face and let it wash the last remnant of rage from her, as the drops blended with the blood from her wounds. Sighing, she opened her eyes and looked down at the last man, shaking her head, then slowly turned, taking in the mass of bodies around her. Glancing down the long street, she sighed again and stepped forward to return to her friends, then fell when her leg gave out. Bracing the fall, she put out her left hand and crumpled to the ground, when it too, failed, her face bumping a severed leg. Raising her right arm, she drove her sword into the mud for support, pulling her torso upward as her foot slid on the rain soaked street. Falling again, her left shoulder dug into the mud and she groaned. Gripping the sword tightly, she pulled again, bringing her head up and her right leg forward, driving her boot backward with the effort to rise. Xena. Whispering through the blood. Slowly the sword tilted forward with each struggle, until it finally stopped and a clawed hand, relaxed its grip, and slid off the pommel, coming to rest on the golden hilt.
Xena. Shouting over the sound of swords clashing and the cries of the dying, Gabrielle bent over, holding the warriors elbow, straining to help her stay upright. Glancing up, she heard a roar echo off the buildings around them, then everything went quiet. Seeing movement, out of the corner of her eye, she put her arm out, holding Joxer behind the invisible line. No, Joxer. Turning back to Xena, she saw the grimace on her friends face and the blood seeping through the warriors fingers, as she held the gash in her side. Xena.
Listening, Xena straightened, ignoring the pain raging through her body and peered through the smoke and rain. Taking a deep breath, she gripped the bards shoulder, tasting the blood in her mouth and shut her eyes, as she felt the muscles in her neck tighten. Gods. Whispering, through gritted teeth, she opened her eyes and listened again. All was silent, except for the sound of her breathing, as it came out of her mouth in ragged puffs of fog and the rain, falling gently, now. Adding its clear liquid to the blood, forming a small stream in the reddened mud, that covered her boots to the ankles. Knowing the silence meant the battle was over, Xena waited, holding her side and wincing ruefully at the wound her pride has caused. Shaking her head, she glanced downward, seeing the edge of the battle line she stood behind and the bodies that came to the edge of that invisible line. Glancing up, again, she waited for her friend to come around the corner.
Looking away from the warrior, Gabrielle scanned the street, in front of her at the bodies that lay everywhere, their contributions to the bloody stream spent and their lives wasted. The whole ones were intermingled with pieces of others, the arms, heads and the unrecognizable. Somewhere in the carnage, Gabrielle knew, was the body of Draco, the man whod caused this massacre and paid the highest price for his greed and revenge. Glancing back at Xena, she wrapped her arm around the warriors waist, as the tall body leaned against her. Xena?
Gripping her side, Xena took a step forward, crossing that invisible line, as shed done earlier. Staring at the bend in the street, she watched for T , as her eyes shifted, searching. Taking another step, she stumbled, but continued to stare as a sudden spark of fear rose from her soul. Looking down, she spun the bracelet around her wrist, bringing the gold tiger head to lay over the top of her hand. Touching it softly, she closed her eyes, then opened them again, to look hopefully at the corner.
Following the warriors stare, Gabrielle held on to Xena and searched through the smoke, ignoring the remnants of the Harvest Festival theyd been coming for and the charred state of her home town, looking for a sign of movement, anything that would signal Ts approach. Hoping the wrenching in her stomach was wrong and that shed see that familiar smile through the rising mist. Shivering against the chilly rain, she closed her eyes as the seconds drew the silence into a crushing weight on her heart. Opening her eyes, Gabrielle waited, hoped, searched and glanced up at the warrior. Xena?
Shaking her head, Xena fought the rising fear and felt her guts rollover. Dont do this, please. She thought. Looking down at the bard, she saw the reflection of her fears etched on Gabrielles face and the dread in her eyes. Shaking her head again. Whats taking her so long? Returning her eyes to searching, denying the truth of what the passing minutes forbade, she stepped over something, not caring who and began to make her way to the place she never wanted to be.
Waving Joxer to stay back, Gabrielle wrapped Xenas arm around her neck, holding onto the warriors hand, supporting Xenas weight as they moved forward. Stepping slowly, she concentrated on their path, refusing to let anything else enter her mind. As they approached the corner, the vision before her make her stomach rise. The street theyd come from was nothing compared to the sea of bodies before of her. Everywhere she looked, all she could see were the muddy forms of Dracos men, laying in scattered pieces. By the gods. Whispering, she stopped when the warrior left her.
Moving on her own, Xena couldnt believe what she saw, but knew she expected nothing less. At least three hundred soldiers had entered Potidea and not a man had survived. They lay scattered across the street, blended into the mud, forming a virtual sea of destruction. Shaking her head, Xena scanned the street, looking toward the other end, searching for T. Suddenly the fear came home, when she realized that no one was standing. No one. T! Shouting, Xena swung her head back and forth, checking every crevice for the woman. Gods, no. Whispering into the mist, she called to her friend. T! Her heart pounding, she started checking the bodies around her. Gabrielle. Glancing at the bard, who had started searching as well.
No. Whispering, Gabrielle looked at the fallen bodies, stepping between the stray arms and legs, moving toward the far end. Xena? Looking to the warrior.
Shes here, Gabrielle. Crossing to the other side of the street. Somewhere.
Slowly, the bard and warrior scoured the street, checking the fallen and calling to their friend. Stopping, Gabrielle looked up, spotting a young man cowering in a doorway. He was standing dead still, his arms wrapped around his body, staring into the distance, oblivious to the carnage around him. Hey. Calling to him, she suddenly recognized him as the son of a friend of her mothers and remembered that he couldnt hear. Shaking her head, she moved to him, placing her hand on his shoulder. When he didnt respond, she followed his staring eyes, to the far end of the street and saw something sparkle. Watching closely, she saw it again and her breath left her body when the glint of gold came again. Xena!
Snapping her head up, Xena saw the bard, running down the street and followed her. Ignoring the pain, she leapt over bodies and stepped on them when she couldnt avoid it, catching Gabrielle as they neared the end. Gabrielle?
Continuing on, Gabrielle raced toward the shine and slowed, when she found the source of the twinkle. Gods, no. Seeing the gold tiger head, dangling from Ts wrist, suspended above the mud, resting on the sword. Rushing forward, she fell to her knees, picking Ts head up out of the mud, bringing it to her lap. Looking up, as Xena fell beside her. Xena?
Rolling her friend over gently, Xena saw the blood covering Ts chest. No. Shaking her head. No. No. Nooooo.
Nooooo! Screaming, Xena sat straight up, her eyes wide as gasping for breath.
Xena! Startled into consciousness, Gabrielle sat up, looking around their dark bedroom.
Covering her face, still living the dream, Xena drew her knees to her chest as the images started to fade and a bead of sweat trickled down her throat.
Xena? Her face becoming a mask of concern, Gabrielle placed a hand on Xenas shoulder as the warrior leaned into her. Wrapping her arms around Xenas shoulder, she eased the warrior into her arms, cradling her. Xena? Speaking softly, she stroked the warriors tousled hair, kissing it lightly. Feeling Xenas body wracking with sobs, she began to rock slowly and brought the warriors head to her to her chest, holding it gently under her chin. Its okay. Shhhh. Its okay. Giving the warrior another kiss, she closed her eyes. It was only a dream, Xena. Ive gotcha. Ive gotcha. Holding the warrior tightly, waiting for the nightmare to end, Gabrielle continued rock, whispering soothing words and closed her eyes. Remembering the times Xena had woken up screaming and their source, but not knowing which nightmare had caused this outburst. Its all right, Xena. Opening her eyes, Gabrielle looked around the room. Its all right. Seeing the face of their friend and the life left behind, playing in the darkness. Sighing heavily, she smiled. T.
An eternity passed and as the dream vanished, Xena lowered her hands from her tear streaked face and stared at the comforter, covering the bards legs. Not seeing the green and blue stripes, she sniffled. God, I hate that dream. Closing her eyes again, the warrior took a deep breath, then let it out slowly, but didnt move. Staying in the bards arms, she let Gabrielle ease her back to reality.
Which one was it? Speaking softly into the warriors ear.
Our first attempt at a vacation. Rubbing her nose, Xena shut her eyes. Dracos last stand.
Oh. Nodding, Gabrielle looked down at Xena. That one. Wiping the hair from the warriors face.
Xena opened her eyes, at the bards touch and leaned forward, lying into Gabrielles lap.
A smile on her face, Gabrielle leaned down, kissing Xenas cheek. But that turned out okay.
Bringing her hands up, Xena looked at them. I know. Closing her eyes, she let the memory take up where the dream left off.
Nooooo. Wiping the mud away, Xena put her hand over the wound. No. Her voice dropping to a whisper. Gods, no.
Looking back down, Gabrielle brushed the mud from Ts face. This cant be happening. Shaking her head, as tears mingled with the rain. She cant die. T? Lifting Ts head, she shook it gently. T? Please. Her heart breaking, Gabrielle looked to the warrior. Xena?
Taking hold of Ts hand, Xena placed her fingers to the kings neck. Her hand shaking, Xena tried to feel for a pulse. Come on. Squeezing her eyes she held her breath, then felt a faint beat. Opening her eyes, she leaned over, waiting for the next. Please. When the next one came, Xena let the breath shed been holding, out. Yes. Cupping Ts face, she glanced at the bard. Shes alive. Looking up, she noticed the rain had stopped as the clouds parted, exposing the rising sun. She hates the dawn.
Thank you. Sending it to Ungara, Gabrielle cradled Ts head.
Looking around, Xena spotted the crowd of villagers that had followed them and saw Joxer. Joxer. Give us a hand. Reaching under Ts body, Xena tried to lift her and grimaced, when pain shot through her side. Groaning, she sat back down.
Xena? Reaching for the warrior, Gabrielle took her arm.
I cant carry her. Scooting back, when Joxer came trotting up, she grabbed his arm, pulling him down. Get her shoulders.
Right. Kneeling beside the bard, Joxer took Ts shoulder.
Gabrielle, get her feet. Pointing to the muddy boots, Xena stood as they lifted T off the ground. Turning to the crowd, she shouted. Move. Waving her arm.
Holy cow. Joxer said, straining to keep his grip. Shes no light weight.
Shut up, Joxer. Gabrielle growled, giving him a menacing stare.
Ignoring the pair, Xena started for the crowd, holding her side with one hand and clearing a path with the other. I said move!
Stepping over bodies, Joxer and Gabrielle followed slowly behind Xena.
Jared eased out of the doorway, staring at the place T had fallen. Walking slowly, he made his way over, oblivious to the bodies and the devastation around him. Reaching the spot, he looked down at the golden sword, sticking out of the mud. Bending, he wrapped his hand around the hilt, pulling gently. As the sword came out, he turned, walking after the departing crowd, dragging the sword behind him.
When they reached the temple, Xena directed them to the altar. Put her over there. Shoving candles and offerings off the marble slab, then watched as T was laid on it. Joxer, go get the saddlebags off Argo and Artaq. Moving around the alter, Xena looked around at the women, children and the scattered wounded. Somebody get some water and I need some bandages. Waiting for someone to move, she growled. Finding a likely candidate, she pointed at Lila. Lila, get some water and take him with you. Pointing to the young man at Lilas side. Turning to a nearby woman. We need as many bandages as you can get your hands on.
Nodding silently, the woman started gathering strips of cloth.
Standing, Lila looked between the warrior and her sister, then at her parents as they entered the temple. Seeing the scowl on her fathers face, she grabbed the guy beside her and scuttled past her parents and out the door.
Xena? Gabrielle asked, scanning Ts body, wondering where she should start.
Weve got to get the bleeding stopped. Xena answered, taking in the wounds. You start there. Pointing to the deep gash in Ts side.
Right. Moving around the altar, Gabrielle began wiping mud from around the wound.
Watching his daughter, Herotodus frowned. All ready unhappy with Gabrielle, he scowled at how she worked on the creature while her friends went unattended to. Moving to the altar, he stood by Ts feet. Why are you helping that thing, when there are people who need you?
Snapping her head in his direction, Gabrielles eyes grew wide. She is not a thing and shes my friend.
Cracking her neck, Xena kept silent, choosing to concentrate on T, rather than Herotodus.
Shes not even human. Seeing through bitter eyes, he ignored the fact that T was completely human, except for the claws that she had instead of fingernails. Remembering the fangs, shed had and the way T had viciously slaughtered Dracos men, cutting them to pieces and ripping them apart. Shes some kind of creature.
Grabbing him by the neck, Xena lifted Herotodus off the ground. Shes not a creature and dont ever call her that. Shoving him across the room, the warrior took a step toward him. And if you want to live, youll stay out of our way. Glaring, she returned to her work.
Shaking her head, Gabrielle watched her mother go to her father. Sighing, she went back to work.
Joxer and Lila returned, bringing the items theyd been sent to retrieve and watched the bard and warrior work furiously on the woman. Standing to the side, they kept silent vigil, wondering if Xena and Gabrielle could save T, then moved closer when they started to shout.
T stood in the doorway of the Hall of Kings, staring at the row of statues of her forefathers. Stepping forward, she kept her eyes on the darkness at the end of the long hall. Moving slowly, she heard shouting above her.
No, T. Dont do this. Xena shouted, trying to feel for a heartbeat. Come on.
Xena? Gabrielle whispered, looking up from her work, watching the warriors frantic movements.
No. T, you cant do this. Please.
Still she walked on, getting further and further down the hall, as the voices of her friends pleaded for her to stay, hearing the pain and desperation in their voices. The pain in her heart, pounding out her sorrow, she finally reached the end and stood before her place in the hall. Looking down, she placed her foot on the first tier, stepping up.
Tears running down her face, Xena held Ts hand. T, please. You cant do this, you have to stay. We need you here.
Closing her eyes, Gabrielle held Ts other hand to her heart. You can leave. You cant.
The second tier.
Come on. Come on. Come on! Squeezing the blood covered hand.
Please. Opening her eyes. T, please.
The final tier, T raised her foot to the platform.
You cant leave. You promised. Xena closed her eyes. You promised.
The foot hovered above the final step.
You promised. Gabrielle whispered, stroking Ts long dark hair. Please. Squeezing the kings hand. You promised and you never break you promises. Remember, you said so.
Looking down at her hands, T brought her foot back and put it down. Shutting her eyes, she closed her hands.
Xena? Looking to the warrior, Gabrielle felt something move and looked down at the hand in hers. Xena. Whispering.
Looking at the hand that she held, Xena smiled. Come back, T. You can do it.. Feeling a weak squeeze, she smiled at the bard.
Choking back a laugh, Gabrielle squeezed her eyes shut. Yes. Opening them, she saw Xena lay Ts hand aside and start back to the task of caring for the king. Doing the same, the bard started stitching up the gash.
Herotodus shook his head and left, taking his wife with him. Joxer and Lila exchanged smiles.
Sitting up, Xena wiped her face. I dont know why I keep dreaming about that.
Well, once every couple of hundred years, isnt exactly a trend, Xena. Smiling warmly, Gabrielle took Xenas hand. You just miss her. Kissing the warriors knuckles. Like I do.
Smiling, Xena kissed Gabrielles head. Yea. I guess youre right. Laying back down, she stared at the ceiling and taking the bard in her arms, when she rested her head on her shoulder. I miss her a lot. Lifting her hand, Xena looked at her wrist, remembering the bracelet.
Glancing at her own wrist, Gabrielle smiled sadly. She was one of a kind.
Well, now, thats the understatement of the entire know history of mankind. Chuckling, the warrior wrapped her arms around the bard.
Rolling her eyes, the bard curled up in the warriors embrace. You know what I mean.
Yea. Pulling up the covers. I know what you mean.
After a fifteen minute argument, Xena relented to the bards wishes and called in sick to the hospital. Something she always considered an oxymoron, but did it none the less and sighed heavily as Gabrielle left for work. Maybe shes right. Watching the bards truck disappear down the drive, she waved. Walking back inside, the warrior went to the couch and sat down. The last thing I need is to get on a bike right now. Tilting her head back, Xena stared at the ceiling. Closing her eyes, she felt the nightmare cast a shadow over her heart. Gods, I miss you. Whispering to the memory. Opening her eyes, she looked around. Rubbing her forehead, Xena stood. Now what? Putting her hands on her hips, she went into the kitchen and stood there a moment, then went back to the living room. Moving from room to room, she finally ended up where her subconscious was leading her, to the library. Xena glanced around, trying to figure out why shed come there and looked up to the balcony railing. Biting her lip, she went to the spiral staircase and paused again, staring upward. Taking the steps slowly, the warrior climbed the stairs and moved to the bookcase that held the bards first editions.
Reaching out for one of them, she tilted it back and heard the latch release. Pulling gently, she brought the bookcase out and spun it sideways, exposing the hidden room behind. Taking a deep breath, she went in and was hit by the musty smell of leather. Standing in the dark, Xena didnt need to see what was there. Flipping on the light, the bards scrolls appeared, stacked on shelves all around the little room. Stepping all the way in, Xena turned and put the double sided bookcase back in place. Ive got to put some kind of ventilation in here. Shaking her head at the stuffy aroma. Sighing, she turned back and moved to the small table in the center of the room, running her finger over the top and looking around at the scrolls surrounding her.
Once theyd gotten married and had started on the plans for the house, Xena and Gabrielle had decided that it was time to bring the scrolls out of their hidden archive in Greece. Agreeing that it was better to have them close at hand and had considered how to store them. Xena had come up with the idea for the secret room, after seeing far to many spy movies and the bard had shaken her head, but said yes. After the house was completed, Xena had blocked off the space at the end of their bathroom, that shed added to the plans for the secret room and constructed the sliding bookcase. Then she built the shelves and added the safe at the bards request. Nodding her head that extra precautions should be taken. She also made the room fire proof and built the desk for the bard to write at. When that was done, theyd taken a vacation to Greece, collected the scrolls, and sent them overnight to their new home. Gabrielle had designed the scroll holder, after a really long one had accidentally rolled out the door and hit the warrior on the head, downstairs. It was a simple design, but effective. Gabrielle had a square piece of wood, tilted for writing, with two long cradles at the top and bottom to put either end of the scroll. Xena put a bandage on her scalp and built the scroll holder, opting that over a hard hat.
Chuckling, Xena looked around the room. On nearly every shelf, there were at least thirty scrolls, stacked neatly with their ends sticking out over the edge. Some shelves were empty, for future editions to the history of the world. The history of the world. Smiling at the real history that she knew was contained on the bound leather. Picking one up, she unrolled it and smiled. That was a real doozy. Replacing it, she picked up another and replaced it. Tapping her chin, Xena made her way around the small room, picking up scrolls, smiling and putting them back. She does love to write. Glancing around, once more, her eyes fell on the safe, behind the table, tucked into one of the shelves near the floor. Tugging on her ear, she stared at it, then sighed, moved around the table and squatted down. Running her fingers over the cool stainless steel, she smiled. I do miss you, T. Shaking her head, Xena spun the tumbler back and forth, until the lock clicked. Twisting the handle, she pulled the door open and smiled at the scrolls inside. Ancient secrets. Pulling them out, she stood and put them on the table. If T ever found out about these, shed have a hissy fit. Smiling with the thought, Xena pulled out the chair and sat down. Wrinkling her brow, she tried to decide which one she wanted, then shrugged, closed her eyes and picked one up. Unrolling it, she placed it on the scroll holder and started to read. Lucky guess. Realizing shed selected the one about the first time theyd met T. Getting comfortable, the warrior started to read, taking in the language shed learned so many lifetimes ago. I sing of friendship. The friendship that binds the Bard, the Warrior and the King. Of promises kept and destiny fulfilled.
Look, Xena. Im not saying that youre not nice. Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle kicked a rock. Im just saying, that maybe you could try a little harder not to scare people, every time you meet them.
Staring down at the bard, Xena stopped. I dont scare everybody. Raising an eyebrow.
Of course not. Smiling innocently, Gabrielle pulled on the warriors arm to get them walking again. But you have to admit that youre not the picture of friendliness.
I dont even think thats a word. Tugging on Argos reins.
Xena. Shoving the warrior. You get my point?
Yea, yea, yea. Be nice. Rolling her eyes.
Rolling her eyes as well, Gabrielle spotted someone up the road and pulled Xena aside.
What? Looking down at the bard, Xena scowled.
Look. Pointing to the figure, squatting on the ground.
Peering, Xena nodded. Yea, I saw her a couple of minutes ago.
Frowning for a second, the bard pressed on with the reason shed pulled the warrior aside. Xena, this would be a great chance for you to try to be nice. Checking out the girl, she smiled. She looks like shes lost. Noticing the large marker and the map looking piece of parchment in front of the girl.
Taking another look, Xena agreed. And?
And, since you know this area pretty well, you can ask if she needs some help, when we get up there. Smiling up at the warrior. What do ya say?
Id say the sun has gotten to you, because one, the only person I can think of that could possibly get that lost is Joxer and two I think if she got this far into nowhere, she probably knows where shes going. Putting her hands on her hips.
Xeeeennnnaaaa. Wrapping her arm around the warriors an pulling like the girl, she was.
Standing there like a pump for a couple of seconds, Xena sighed. Okay.
Good. Dragging the arm and the warrior back onto the road, Gabrielle tried to look cool.
Following the bard, Xena went back into her natural state of awareness and sighed. How do I let myself get dragged into these things? Posing the question to Argo, quietly and got a throaty horse chuckle for response. Youre a big help.
Okay Xena. Nudging the warrior, Gabrielle kept her eyes on the the girl. Go ahead.
Cant I wait until I dont have to shout. Running her tongue over her bottom lip.
Scowling at the distance, Gabrielle nodded. Okay.
Continuing to close the distance, Xena worked on a friendly smile and Gabrielle tried to look like nothing was going on. The warrior was in the middle of one of her smiles, when she got another nudge. Shaking her head, with a sigh, she smiled. Need some help? Moving to a respectable distance and holding the bard back.
Rising slowly, T held onto the map, then looked to the couple to her right and smiled a crooked smile. I think Im lost.
Ignoring the smirk from the bard, Xena rolled her eyes and moved closer. Where ya headed?
Here. Pointing to a spot on the map, with one hand and putting the other underneath it.
Cocking her head, the warrior looked at the area indicated. How old is that map? Immediately recognizing that there were no roads on it.
Xena. Smiling warmly to the girl, or woman, now that she got a good look, Gabrielle elbowed the warrior, who ignored her. Huffing, the bard looked at the map.
Looking from the bard to the warrior, T shrugged. Quite old, Im afraid. Its been in my family for generations.
Put it down. Taking hold of one side of the tattered leather, Xena bent over, then squatted. Where did you say you were going?
T squatted beside the warrior and pointed. There. Smiling up at the bard.
The location becoming secondary, Xena looked at the gloves the woman had on. They were so well make, they looked like her own skin, except for the fact that they were dark green and the warrior had to give them a closer look to make sure they werent. Nice craftsmanship, she thought, then went back to the map. Hmmmmm. Okay.
Giving the warrior her attention, T smiled, which caught Xena off guard and she smiled out of reflex. I think youre here. Quickly looking back to the map and pointing to the place she thought they were. But I never saw that river before. Tapping the long winding blue streak.
Hmmmm. Nodding, T smiled.
Being completely left out of the conversation, Gabrielle jumped in. Are you from around here?
Slowly turning her head, Xena gave the bard a raised eyebrow. I dont think shed be lost if she was.
Oh, yea. Shrugging, the bard smiled. Sorry.
Actually, I was born here. Picking up the map, T rolled it up and eased it into the sack on her back. I just havent been back since. Coming to her feet, she smiled.
By the looks of that map, I can see why? Xena got another elbow and gave one to the bard.
T held out her hands and laughed. Ya gotta go with what youre given.
Tell me about it Chuckling herself, Xena put her hand on the bards shoulder.
Funny. Slapping the hand off her shoulder, Gabrielle sneered, then put out her hand. Im Gabrielle.
Grasping Gabrielles hand, T shook it. Im Tiegra Empario De Na Nihate.
Wondering if her eyes were still in her head, Gabrielle stuttered. T what?
You can call me T. Releasing the bards hand, she held hers to the warrior. Everybody else does.
Xena studied the hand, then took it, instead of the traditional arm embrace. Xena. Giving T a curious look, when she shook it. What is it about you, she thought, scratching her proverbial memory. Shaking the thought away and giving the bard a glare when she suggested that T travel with them.
Smiling big, T nodded her head. Thatd be great.
Snapping her head at T, she wanted to glare, but couldnt with the smile facing her. Whatever. Shrugging, she started down the road before Gabrielle had the chance to offer anymore of her services.
So you have family here? Gabrielle asked, knowing the warrior wasnt going to give her any conversation.
Not exactly. Smiling, T walked beside the bard. They left the day I was born, but I do have some friends of the family around this area. Glancing at the forest up ahead.
So youre coming to see them? Finding herself unable to stop smiling.
Sort of. Looking back at the bard. My Father left some things behind and Im coming to get them. Rearranging the strap across her shoulder, T shifted the elongated sack.
Kind of a long time to leave something behind. Not really wanting to enter the conversation, Xena found the remark worth questioning.
Glancing at the warrior, T nodded. Yes, it is. Scanning the warrior, she looked down at the long legs. Tell me, Xena. How long are those legs, exactly? Grinning impishly.
Long enough. Raising one eyebrow. Why?
They look like they go up to your neck. Nudging the bard, T flicked her eyebrows. What do you think, Gabrielle?
You could be right, T. Going along with the joke, Gabrielle ran her hand over a naked thigh.
Hey! Slapping the bards hand, Xena scowled at the two.
Bouncing along, T moved to the next set of gams. Of course, those of Gabrielles are nothing to sneeze at. Thumping a muscled thigh.
Trust me, they dont come anywhere near my neck. Chuckling, Gabrielle smiled.
Yes, but theres something to be said for sheer power. Holding up a finger, T moved in front and walked backwards. Yep, I can definitely see the power there, although. Shrugging, she looked between the two.
What? Xena asked.
It must be a real bitch to shave those things. Laughing, T bounced.
Rolling her eyes, Xena sighed. Great, she thought, Ive got another Gabrielle on my hands.
Then theres the ear thing. Returning to the bards side, T tugged on Gabrielles lobe. Tell me, Gabrielle. Exactly how far can you hear with those things.
Wait a minute! Slapping the hand away, she swung at the warrior, who was laughing.
Stepping out of the way, Xena smiled. Maybe shes not so bad. The warrior thought.
Little did I know. Chuckling, Xena rolled the scroll further up.
They continued down the road, T engaging in annoying questions and Xena shifting between being insulted and laughing, as did the bard, whom the warrior watched closely. Gabrielle was obviously enjoying the company of the igmatic woman and the warrior found herself being left out of the conversation, as the two chatted endlessly. Normally, the bard would chat and Xena would answer in single syllable words, which she would get disgusted sighs for and then the bard would give up for awhile. But now, with T along, Gabrielle had found a compatriot for yammering with and Xena felt a twinge of jealousy.
Yawning, T looked up at the sky. Beautiful day.
Yea. Gabrielle nodded. Some people dont take the time to seeeeee that. Giving the warrior a knowing grin.
Xena shrugged. Yea, great. Then saw T yawn again. You tired?
Im not much of a day person. Shrugging, she readjusted the pack again.
Maybe we should take a break. Glancing at the warrior.
Almost grateful for the break in endless chatter, Xena shrugged and led them off the road. Moving deeper into the forest, she found spot under a large tree and stopped. This looks good.
Seeing a fallen tree, Gabrielle went to it and sat down.
Stretching her arms, T yawned. Do you mind if I take a nap?
Go right ahead. Smiling inwardly, Xena sat down beside Gabrielle, then watched in amazement, when T scrambled up the large tree and laid down on an overhanging branch. Looking at the bard, she shrugged.
Gabrielle peered up at T, seeing her hang her sack on a broken brand and apparently went immediately to sleep. Huh.
Now comes the good part. Rolling the scroll again, Xena smiled.
Following Ts example, Xena and Gabrielle eased off the log and settled on the ground, watching the woman above them and slowly drifted to sleep, wondering how T stayed up there.
Keeping her eyes closed, Xena listened, hearing the footsteps and counting how may attackers there were. Ten. Great. Taking a deep breath, she bolted up, drawing her sword as the first man came at her. Swinging in a broad arc, she let the soldier pass, kicking him to the ground, then spun to face the second, giving her battle cry.
Sitting up, Gabrielle took in the situation and got to her feet, grabbing her staff and stepping away from the warrior. Knocking a soldiers feet from under him as he came at her. Bounding on her toes, she smacked a helmeted head, sending the next one backward and into the third. Looking around, she turned into the pommel of a sword, and stepped back. Shaking the stars away, she missed the next thrust and felt the blade cut into her thigh. Groaning, Gabrielle raised her staff, blocking the next blow, but had to step back again against the assault. Concentrating, she gasped from the blow to her back and fell forward, getting another blow to the head. Going down in a heap, she rolled over and saw the sword above her, through the hazy vision and shook her head.
Gabrielle! Glancing over her shoulder, Xena shoved the soldier off her sword and brought up the chakram, then paused as something fell from the tree.
Hitting the ground, T crouched in front of the bard and grabbed the soldiers wrist as he swung the sword down. Getting to her feet, she raked her glove across his throat and let him fall.
Staring in wonder at the man in front of her, Gabrielle scooted away, seeing the blood oozing from his throat. Picking up her staff, she looked at T, then rubbed her aching head, bringing her hand down and seeing the blood that covered it.
You okay? Xena asked, replacing the chakram and punching a face.
Yes. Getting back to business, the bard ignored her wounds and whacked the closest soldier.
Grabbing a soldier, T knocked the sword out of his hand, wrapped her arm around his neck and spun him around, lifting upward, snapping his spine. Swinging out to her left, she drove her fist into the chest of the next soldier, feeling the bone break and soft flesh cave in. Letting go of both she turned, spotting the next victim and lunged for him. Picking him up off the ground, as he wiggled in her grasp, she saw the fear in his eyes as he stared into hers. Knowing what he saw, she smiled and let out a low growl, then tossed him at a tree and moved in for the kill.
T! Reaching for the woman, Xena pulled hard on her arm. Let him go.
Staring a moment more, T stopped her pursuit and watched the young soldier run off into the trees. Cracking her neck, she turned to the warrior. He could return with more.
I know. Nodding, Xena sheathed her sword. But Ive got more important things to worry about. Letting go of Ts sleeve, the warrior turned to the bard, who was sitting on the fallen log, holding her head. Gabrielle! Moving to the bard, Xena knelt down, removing the bards hand. Gods, Gabrielle.
Scrambling back up the tree, T grabbed her sack then jumped back down. Squatting beside Xena, she pulled out a small jar.
I know. Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle let Xena finish her inspection. Ive got to learn to duck.
Or get a thicker skull. Smiling, T opened the jar. Got any water? Looking at the warrior.
Moving her eyes between the smiling face and the jar, Xena raised an eyebrow. Youre a healer? Remembering the way the woman had fought.
Nope, just handy in a crisis. Grinning impishly.
Chuckling, Gabrielle smiled. Youve got to give her that one, Xena. She did save my life.
Hmmm. Nodding, Xena stood. Thanks.
My pleasure. Setting the jar on the ground, T reached back in the bag and pulled out a large roll of bandages, then a sewing kit and finally another jar.
Shaking her head, Xena went to Argo and got the water skin. Here. Squatting back down.
Folding one of the bandages, T soaked it. So who were those guys? Lifting the bards bangs and wiping the gash on her head.
Frowning, Xena looked back at one of the soldiers. Unless Im crazy, theyre King Laviuss men. Shaking her head.
Isnt that the guy were going to see? Gabrielle asked. I thought he was your friend.
He is. Shrugging, the warrior turned back to the bard. Thats what I dont understand. Hes one of the nicest men I know. Hed never send out a raiding party.
How long has it been since youve seen him? T didnt look at the warrior as a twinge passed over her soul. Maybe hes changed.
Four. Five years and I doubt that. Looking around, Xena searched the trees. It just doesnt make sense. Whispering, she rubbed her neck.
Do you think theyll come back? Gabrielle looked down as T wiped her leg wound.
Maybe. Turning to T, Xena touched her arm. Can you stay with Gabrielle? I want to look around.
Absolutely. Winking, T started to pull off one of her gloves.
Giving T a serious look, the warrior gripped her arm harder.
Sighing, T smiled. I promise I wont leave her and that Ill annihilate anyone who tries to touch her. Bowing her head as verification of her sincerity.
Satisfied, Xena moved her hand to the bards knee and smiled. Youre gonna be okay.
I know. Ill have a huge headache, but I know. Smiling, Gabrielle waved the warrior off. Now go.
Winking, Xena got to her feet and walked into the forest.
Thats quite the friend youve got there. Watching the warrior disappear, T finished taking off her glove.
Yea. Shes something all right. Sighing, Gabrielle looked down, as Ts hand came into view, then looked up into twinkling dark brown eyes.
Shrugging, T smiled. They came with the body. Holding up a clawed hand and wiggling her fingers. Taking off the other glove, she reached into the sack and pulled out a small mug. This will help with the headache. Setting the mug down, she opened the other jar and took two pinches of the contents and dropped them in the mug, then added some water. Swirling it around, she handed it to the bard with a smile. Yum, yum.
Smiling, Gabrielle took the mug and sniffed. What is this? Taking a sip and tasting a sweet bitterness.
Secret family formula. Flicking her eyebrows, she took the mug back, when Gabrielle had emptied it and picked up the sewing kit. This is going to sting, a little.
I know. Ive had stitches before. Bracing herself.
Threading the needle, T tied a knot in the end, wrinkled her nose and winked. Ready?
Nodding, Gabrielle watched as the needle was inserted into her leg and winced.
Sorry. Looking up at the bard, T smiled, then went back to stitching.
As the wound was slowly closed, Gabrielle stared at the claws on Ts fingers. You have a very gentle touch.
I get it from my mother. Concentrating on her job, T smiled anyway.
Did she give you those? Tapping Ts hand.
No. The claws come from my father. Tying off the wound, T pulled a dagger from her boot and cut the thread. Whaaaalaaaa.
Nodding her head, Gabrielle scanned the neat row of stitches. Thats better than Xena does.
Putting the sewing kit away, T smiled. The claws help. Picking up a jar, she dipped her fingers into the whitish cream, bringing out a small blob.
Really? Giving Ts hands a curious frown.
No. Chuckling, T started rubbing the ointment into the stitches and felt the shove on her shoulder. Im working here. Keeping her eyes on the wound and trying to sound annoyed.
Folding her arms across her chest, Gabrielle rolled her eyes. Just what I needed. Another fussy warrior.
T laughed out loud. Im not a warrior.
Then what do you call those? Pointing at the dead soldiers.
Glancing up, T followed the bards sweeping arm. Plant food.
Laughing, Xena held her stomach. I love that line.
Sighing, Gabrielle shook her head. Well you fight like a warrior.
Shrugging, T picked up a roll of bandages and started wrapping the bards leg. I just hate it when someone interrupts a perfectly good nap.
Ill keep that in mind. Smiling, the bard looked at the bodies again. I wonder why they attacked us.
Dont know. Tying off the bandage, T set the roll aside and dipped her fingers into the ointment again. Here. Look at me.
Doing as instructed, Gabrielle faced T and kept silent as the ointment was applied to her head. Using the opportunity to her advantage, the bard took a closer look at the woman in front of her. Except for the claws on her fingers, the bard couldnt see anything else that stood out. In fact, T appeared to be an average female, with dark brown eyes and hair, that was tied behind her head and a funny smile. Her face was very beautiful, Gabrielle noticed for the first time and she was even more tan than Xena. The rest of her body was a mystery, because she wore a baggy green woolen shirt that hung loosely off her shoulder and covered her arms down to her wrists. Looking down, Gabrielle tried to figure out what was under the dark blue pants and shrugged at the baggy leather. Returning her gaze to Ts face, she saw the woman smirking at her.
Do I meet with your approval? Staring into green eyes, that quickly looked away.
Sorry. Biting her lip, Gabrielle shrugged. You were kind of the only thing I could see at the moment.
Thats all right, Gabrielle. Rubbing the bards arm gently. When youve got claws instead of fingernails, you get used to being stared at.
Is that why you wear the gloves? Watching T pack up her things.
Not really. I just thought they went with the outfit. Winking, T set the sack aside stood. What do you think? Holding out her arms to expose the garments.
Actually its very nice. Nodding at the clothes. A little baggy, but I like the color combination. Smiling. Xena just wears that brown thing.
It looks very functional, though. Nodding, T took a seat beside the bard. Picking up her gloves, she slid them back on, stretched out her lets and crossed her ankles. What about yours?
Functional. Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle picked at her green top. Sucks in cold weather, though.
Functional! Xena frowned. I liked that outfit.
I wonder why? Poking the bards bare mid drift. I think you got robbed.
Slapping the hand away, Gabrielle smiled. It came that way.
Oh. I can recommend a good tailor. Poking the bards abs again and avoiding a slap.
Dont do that. That tickles. Scooting down the log.
Never give away your weakness, Gabrielle. Scooting after the bard. Its bad tactics.
Get away from me. Laughing, Gabrielle tried to fend of a tickling attack. Stop that.
Im glad to see youll survive. Xena chuckled, stepping into the little clearing.
Taking her hands back, T stood. Well?
I didnt see anymore soldiers, but I think there are more out there. Putting her hands on her hips, Xena looked at the bards bandage. Theres a cave about half a days hard ride from here. Can you walk?
Sure. Standing, Gabrielle fell into Ts arms.
Holding Gabrielle, T lifted her to her feet. Thats a no. Smiling at the bard.
Squeezing her hands, Gabrielle raised her eyebrows as she felt the power under the green wool sleeves. Giving the woman a curious glance she turned to Xena. Sorry.
Hmmm. Peeking at Argo, Xena winced. Youll have to ride then.
Gods. Sighing, Gabrielle slumped her shoulder. What about T?
I can take care of myself. Smiling wickedly.
That may be, but I dont want you out here alone. Taking charge, Xena frowned.
I meant that I can run, while you ride. Still smiling.
Run? Gabrielle gave her a startled look. For half a day?
Why not? Shrugging. I like to run. Itll be a good stretch of the legs.
Looking at Xena, Gabrielle stared wide eyed.
Xena shrugged. Well try it, I guess. Reaching for Ts sack, she got her hand slapped.
It goes where I go. Picking up the sack, T stuck her arms through the straps and settled it into place.
Okay. Shaking her head, Xena went to Argo and led the mare back. You ready? Smiling at the bard, who looked sad.
Smiling wickedly, Xena climbed into the saddle and reached down for the bard.
Hopping over, Gabrielle felt two hands around her waist. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw T wink. Go ahead.
My pleasure. Lifting the bard slowly off the ground, T helped her slide behind the warrior.
Im ready. Smiling up at the couple, T winked.
Show off. Rolling her eyes, Xena rolled the scroll further up.
TBC in part two and three and four and . . .
Epologue: Not in the middle of the story! Geez.
Thanks for reading
Return to The Bard's Corner