Disclaimers: The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess and all other associated with the television series of the same name are owned by MCA/ Universal Pictures. This is a work of fan fiction and no copyright infringement is intended.

Subtext: I guess with my writing so far we'll just quit calling it subtext and call it maintext. Yes they are in love with each other.

Sex: None

Violence: Ah yeahÖviolenceÖ

Language: Mild

Spoilers:

Other: Part Seventy-six in the series "Raising Melosa". Takes place right after "As if Things Werenít Bad Enough."

The Ascension of the Warrior Princess

By T.Novan
TNOVAN@aol.com
 

 

I began making rounds in the camp to see what needed to be done yet. I couldnít help but be annoyed with myself for letting Xe talk me into staying back on the second line. I know the only reason she did it was because I was so tired this morning. What makes me really mad is, I agreed for the same reason. I should be up there with her, not hiding back here.

I find myself headed for the tent for the wounded. As I pull the flap back I find what I figured I would. Mel. Doing her absolute best to impress the young healer. I can't help but smile as I enter.

"Your Majesty." Celia bows her head as I stop and lean against a table.

"Please Celia call me Gabrielle." I canít help but smile as Mel shoots me a look. By the Gods she looks like Xe. "Mel are you keeping busy?"

"Iím doing my best Your Majesty. I thought that since Celia is here alone I would help her set up."

"Very commendable Melosa. Glad to know your putting your many skills to good use."

She just clears her throat and continues to unpack the crates. Celia smiles at me as she moves to a small cooking stove. "Tea?" She questions as she lifts a small kettle.

"Please. With a little mint if you donít mind."

"Are you not feeling well Your Majesty?"

"Iím just a littleÖ." Before I can finish my sentence, Solari enters and beckons me with her finger. Sheís got a really silly grin on her face. "Excuse me for just a moment." I follow Sol out of the tent to find several warriors with a collapsed, packed tent. "Whatís going on? Thatís Xeís command tent."

"Well apparently itís not now." Sol laughs as she hands me a folded note. "Where do you want it?"

"You choose Sol, itís your camp." I take a seat on a stump as I unfold the note.

Ri,

I sent this back for you. Donít even bother to argue with me or anyone else about it. Let Solari set it up for you and SLEEP in it. I donít want you on the cold ground tonight. So help me woman if I find out you didnít use it Iíll make you pay. Yes, I arched my brow.

I laugh as the mental picture floats through my mind.

I love you and yes, my love, I miss you already. Iím worried about you Ri. Please take care of yourself. Iíll try to make it back tonight, but it is not looking good.

Epinon and I are deciding if we should try sending an envoy to negotiate. If Delcar is willing I may be sending a messenger for you, so send a scout back to the house for you leathers.

In the meantime, hot tea with mint, wear your leggings instead of a skirt and make sure you stay warm tonight.

"You sound like a mother." I say to the parchment before reading on.

Itís because I am a mother. Now be good and take care of yourself. I have a nice little spot I want to show you when this is over.

I address the note again. "Now how can I resist that?"

You canít. Love you.

X

I smile as I fold the note up and tuck it away. Getting to my feet I suddenly feel dizzy again, a half step back finds me sitting on the stump. Then the blackness surrounds me.

 

 

Watching over the rise I canít imagine what this man is waiting for. Surely he knows that longer he waits the worse his odds become. The more time he gives me the more troops I will have gathered. Scouts and messengers have been sent to our allies. Tartarus Iím expecting assistance from the Greek Army. I knew that treaty Ri signed would come in handy one day.

Maybe thatís what he wants, all out war. He must be truly insane.

I hear the pounding of hooves behind me. I turn to find Solan. He is leading in the new horse I purchased from him the moment the animal was born. Three seasons I have waited for the animal and never I havenít felt such things about a horse since Argo. He is beautiful. Black as the darkest night and so full of energy, just watching him makes me tired. I thought with the injury to my arm, I would never have the pleasure of riding him. I knew that I would never have been able to control him. Now however, in my current state I had as much power as he does and it is going to be a battle of wills. The kind of battle I have never lost.

My new mount is encased in a light war armor. I didnít order armor for him and Iím wondering about it as Solan dismounts and strides toward me with the reins of my horse in his hands. "I would have had him here sooner, but Tyldus demanded that the armor be put on him."

"Tyldus huh?" I move around my new horse and stoke his neck as I remove the face shield. "You donít need that right now do you boy? No you donít." He looks back at me as he paws the ground. The muscles in his strong body twitch nervously under his shiny black coat. I can feel the same kind of connection developing with this animal that Argo and I had.

"He started making the armor for him a half season ago." Solan says as he hands me the reins. "He said he couldnít explain it and he wasnít even going to try but he knew that this horse was going to require armor."

I laugh a little as I give the beast another stroke on the neck. "Tyldus is a good friend."

"Yes he is. He says his troops will arrive before nightfall. So, whatís going on down there?" He gestures to the camp below us.

"I wish I knew. Heís not making any attempt to advance. There donít seem to be any new troops arriving. He just sits there. Forty seasons of knowledge behind me and I canít figure out what it is heís doing. This does not make me happy. As soon as the sun sets Iím going to send down a few sets of ears to see if we can get some information." I turn to find my eldest son grinning at me. "What?"

"You may not be happy Mother, but are most certainly in your element. The Great Warrior Princess rises again." He throws his arms open as he glances around. "On the battle ground with troops at your command. You are home. Itís going to be a pleasure to watch you work."

"Thereís nothing pleasurable about war Solan, you know that."

"Yeah well, somehow you just seem to enjoy it."

I lift my brow as his word sink in. He is right. I do enjoy it. I give my horse another pat as we walk back toward camp.

"Is umm my wife around by any chance?" He grins just a little as he scans the troops looking for Alana.

"Actually I think sheísÖ." I glance around trying to remember the last place I saw my daughter. "Right over there." I point to her. He smiles at me as he drops the reins of his horse in my hand and heads for his wife. "Sure," I call after him. "Iíll be happy to take care of your horse."

Kids.

I wave over a young amazon. She straightens to her full height and approaches me with great deal of arrogance written across her face. Ah yeah, I remember her. Mira. Iíve never been given all the details, but as I understand it she and Mel had to come to an understanding. Apparently it wasnít pretty.

"Yes Your Highness." The tone in her voice is almost sarcastic.

"Mira would you mindÖ." Before I can finish my sentence a scout comes riding into the camp at a full gallop.

"Your Highness! The Queen! The Queen is very ill."

I grab her horses bridle. "What do you mean Ri is ill?"

"She collapsed about a candle mark ago Your Highness."

"DAMN!" I look to my son and his wife. "Solan, Alana!" I wave them over they can see something is wrong and they run over as fast as possible.

"Mother?!"

"Solan I need you to ride back to the second line. Your Mom is sick. Go find out for me whatís happening. I canít leave. Everything deep in my bones tell me that I have to stay here."

Heís on top of his horse without a comment and headed for the second line without a word. As I watch him ride away I feel a hand come to rest on my arm. I look to find Alana.

"Sheís fine." She whispers.

"By the Gods I hope so." I shake my head as I try to bring back my focus. I mount my horse and begin riding him through the camp. I need to feel his power under me. Gods Ri please, please be all right. I stop him at the eastern crest of the hill looking down on Delcarís camp. "What are you up to you bastard? What are you waiting for?"

I give the horse a pat on the neck as he dances and paws the ground. This is what I get for having a stallion. "Easy boy. Wonder how fast you could get me back to the second line." I know I canít leave, but it doesnít keep me from wanting to. "Damn it!" I twist the reins in my hands as I readjust on the saddle feeling an unwelcome arrival behind me.

"Xena?"

I turn to find Artemis standing behind me. "Why canít you ever just pop up in front of me? Do you always have to try and sneak up on me like that? You know itís not possible. Hades is the only one I donít always feel. You shouldnít be here you should be back with Ri. She needs you."

"No. She needs you."

"I canít leave. If I do they all could be lost." I can feel the anger welling up inside me. "Is that why you did it Artemis? Is that why you made me ten seasons younger? So I would lose Ri and have to live in the Tartarus that will be my life if I have to live without her."

"No, Xena thatís not it at all. Please believe me. I didnít trick you. I did as you asked because your love for my Queen is so profound. It is your love for her that keeps you here now isnít it? You know that this is what she would want and expect you to do isnít it?"

"Yes." I let my head drop as the thoughts of losing her and not being by her side twist in my gut. "And I swear if anything happens to her IíllÖ."

"Yes?"

"Make her proud of me. I donít tend to break my promises."

"Xena itís time for you to understand the power of that circlet. Go down to his camp," She gestured to the camp below. "Take off your swords and offer him the first blow."

"Ah, I get it. You want me to commit suicide."

"If you do as I say, you will be back at Gabrielleís side before night fall. If not you will go to war and it will be long and bloody."

"Tell me this, why all of the sudden are the Gods guiding me? Why such an interest in my life?"

"The Gods do guide and protect the truly righteous Xena."

"This is too easy."

"Nothing is easy Xena. If you want to get back to my Queen then you will do as I tell you."

"Of course Iíll do it." I watch as she disappears. I return to camp to find Epinon. Luckily she finds me first.

"Xena I just heard about Gabrielle. Do you want to go back?"

"I want to and I will, but I have something I have to do first. Iím going down to Delcarís camp."

"Oh yeah, youíve finally snapped."

"No. Artemis has told me to go down there. Iím going. If itís a trick, attack and attack fast and," I look back to where I know the second line is. "Make sure to take good care of Ri. Tell her," I swallow hard. "Tell her I love her."

"Xena. You can just tell her yourself when you get there." She smiles as she gives my horse a long stroke on the neck. "I tell you if I were Delcar and I saw you coming at me in that outfit on this horse Iíd just beg Hades to come get me before you got there."

"You like this look huh?"

"Yeah well," She steps back. "You know come to think of itÖ." She trails off.

"What?"

"Gods on Olympus XenaÖ."

"What?!"

"You do look like Hades himself."

"Oh come on!"

"No. Really. I mean it. The circlet, the new clothes, the horse," She shakes her head. "Xena there is no doubt about who your father is."

"Okay then, fine. If thatís the look they seem to be going for then Iím going to use it to my full advantage." I turn my horse to the ridge. "Get the troops up here Epinon."

"Yes Your Highness."

I move to the ridge and wait as my troops fall in formation with me. I notice several of the soldiers in the camp below have taken an interest in us.

Ep rides up next to me. "We are ready Your Highness."

"Good. Iím going down alone. If I fall, donít waste any time Ep."

I turn as she extends her hand to me. "Good luck my friend."

Taking her arm with my own I nod. "To you as well."

Taking a deep breath I heal my horse and we are over the ridge at full speed. His mane flies back as he strains into the run, trying to find more speed in his young powerful body. The energy the horse seeks seems to be finding its way into my body as I feel a very familiar rush entering my veins. As we continue down the hill I see a young man come out of the largest tent. This must be Delcar. He has his sword in his hand as he watches my approach.

I rein my horse hard and leave the saddle quickly, landing solidly, just an arms length from the man. His soldiers start forward he motions them back. "You are?"

I need to get out more.

"I am Xena. Consort to Gabrielle, Queen of the Amazons."

He smirks as he eyes me. "I had heard that about amazons. Guess itís true. So Xena, Consort to the Queen," He twirls his sword lazily in his hand. "Why are you here? To surrender perhaps? Now that the Queen is deadÖ."

I feel the anger and resist the urge to pull him off his feet until he explains that comment. Taking a deep breath I unfasten my swords and let them drop to the ground. "No. I am simply here to offer you the first blow. If you can get past meÖ."

"Done!" He raises his sword and strikes before I can finish my sentence.

I wonder who has a bigger look of shock on their face. Him or me. It takes a moment for both of us to register that his strike to my neck was stopped just short of my body. Luckily I recover before he does. With two quick jabs, he drops to his knees gasping for air. "You have thirty seconds to tell me what I want to know. What did you mean about the Queen being dead?"

He gasps as he clutches at his throat. "Poison. Sheís been poisoned."

I grab him by the shirt and draw him close to my face. "What kind? What kind of poison?"

"Donít know." He gasps.

"Did you arrange this?"

"Yes."

I release him and then taking his head in my hands I snap his neck. He falls to the ground lying dead at my feet. His soldiers stand stunned for just a moment. Then they start to move forward. "Donít!" I wave my hand at the ridge and their attention is drawn behind me. "Your commander is dead. By rights Iíve inherited this command. Now break camp and get out of here or you will all find your selves lying at my feet as well. He committed a capital crime of trying to assassinate the Amazon Queen. His immediate execution was just."

I pick up my sword rig and replace it as I whistle for my horse. He returns to me and I vault into the saddle. "Be out of here by dawn or Iíll send the entire Amazon Nation and our allies down on you!"

I turn the horse and we head back up the hill. Ep meets me at the crest. I rein him just long enough to speak with her. "Riís been poisoned. I have to get back there. Delcarís dead, his men have been ordered to leave by sun up. Stay here and make sure it happens."

I spur my mount and we head for the second line.

TBCÖ.


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