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Disclaimers: Donít own Ďem. Like to play
with Ďem. No dinars are being made. No copyright infringement
intended. Just good clean fun.
Subtext: You bet. Would I write anything else?
Donít think so.
Iíll just go ahead and beg for forgiveness
now. A lot of you are absolutely gonna hate this one, but hey I
had to stretch my legs a little (private joke to some of you who
know me too well). This is the kind of story that happens when the
writer in question is in an immense amount of pain.
Note from 10/13/98. I sat and contemplated my
next move. I made the mistake of complaining about the story. My
better half responded by saying, "Well you just never should
have started down this path. You got her into this situation. You
get her out."
Gabrielle treaded softly across the village square. Several of her
young warriors followed her in silence. Only once a season did their
Queen take it upon herself to teach them, to tell them a story and today
was that day.
As the group walked across the square towards the edge of the village
and the meadow where this lesson always took place. The tall, strong
warrior who would soon become the queenís consort walked up silently
to her. She interlaced her fingers into the queenís and they walked
hand and hand together. Talking quietly.
"Gabrielle, please donít do this. You know how much it upsets
"I have to. I made a blood oath and I canítÖNoÖ I wonít
"Please reconsider. Itís been so long now, almost ten seasons.
Itís time to move on."
Gabrielle stopped and cupped the warriorís face in her hands.
"I have moved on Kellas. I fell in love with you and I moved on,
but I owe her this."
Kellas leaned over and gave the queen a soft, loving kiss, which was
returned in kind. "Donít forget Gabrielle, how much I do love
you." There were tears in her eyes as she turned and walked away.
She knew what lay ahead of her this evening. It would be another night
of trying to calm her love of the nightmares that she was about to
unleash upon herself. The demon would return. ĎDamn her and damn
her memory!í thought Kellas, as she made her way to the practice
field. She hated the woman she had never met, but who still had such a
profound grasp on her loverís heart.
* * * * * *
Gabrielle stopped just at the edge of the meadow near a large rock.
She took a seat on the stone as her warriorís all dropped onto the
ground and stretched out. She looked around and felt the breeze blow
through her hair, listened to the trees and grass rustle with the soft
wind. Then she closed her eyes, partly to remember and partly to hold
back the tears that were already starting to form in her eyes.
"It was eight seasons ago almost to this day and this was the
last place I ever saw herÖ" She began to tell the tale.
Xena held her hand down to Gabrielle and pulled her up onto the
rock. Her blue eyes bored deeply into the bardís soul. "I love
you Gabrielle. Everything is going to be fine. Iíll be back before you
The warrior leaned over from her horse and kissed the amazon queen
passionately. Their souls mixed together as their tongues sought each
other. Gabrielle didnít want it to end. For the first time she was
afraid. Her dreams had told her that something was terribly wrong and
she was afraid of losing her warrior in this battle. When they parted
Xena gently stroked the bardís face. Gabrielle captured the warriorís
hand and held it close to her heart.
"Xena please stay here with me. Weíre going to need healers
when the wounded return. Please?" She begged tears pouring down her
"Gabrielle I canít. Iíll be far more useful against
Bracken and his men. Iíve fought him before. I know how he
"Please?" She said reaching out and grabbing both sides
of Xenaís head. "Gods Xena listen to me! My dreamsÖ! Please donít
"Gabrielle I couldnít live with myself if I sent your
warriorís out there by themselves. Besides, I have a wedding to come
back for." She smiled and took Gabrielleís hands from her head.
She held them together and kissed her left wrist that had the golden
bracelet around it. Xena had given Gabrielle the bracelet two moons ago
when she proposed. It was solid gold and had a stylized X and G
enwrapped together. "We will always be together my love." Xena
leaned over and kissed Gabrielle again and then leaned back and wiped
the tears from the bardís face. "No tears my love. No
tears." With one last gentle caress and a light kiss on the cheek,
Xena nudged Argo and set off across the meadow. Gabrielleís tormented
screams ringing in her ears.
The young warriorís were mesmerized by her story. They all sat up
right now, head in hands hanging on her every word. "Several days
later our war party returned. They brought me Argoís saddle and Xenaís
sword. Then they told me that the love of my life had fallen. She had
thrown herself between a dagger and Regent Ephiny. The throw was true
and it pierced her heart. I lost half of my soul that day. Gabrielle
paused and looked out across the meadow, hoping to see her warrior
again, but she never came.
"She died a hero then?" Asked one of the youngest girls.
"Oh yes my child. She died the valiant death she so richly
deserved. Not only did she fall in battle, but also she fell defending
the life of an amazon and a friend."
"Why didnít they bring her home for a proper amazon
burial?" Asked another girl.
"The battle was so fierce and so long that Hades himself arrived
from the underworld to collect the dead almost as quickly as they fell.
Since Xena and I hadnít been joined yet, he claimed her before the
amazons could get to her body. The only thing they found was her sword,
which they did bring back to me. Argo fell that day too. The mare
remained steadfast over her mistressí body and was cut down by the
warlordís men just for fun and spite. She also died a glorious death.
Protecting the one who loved her so much."
"Who defeated Bracken then?" Another voice piped up.
"Xena had sent Bracken to his place in Tartarus earlier that
day, but his men had not realized their leader had fallen and continued
their assault. Our amazon warriors made short work of the remaining
soldiers before returning to the village." Gabrielle stood and
stretched. "Come now letís get back to the village."
* * * * * *
Kellas sat in the dining hut trying to eat, but finding little
success. She hated this day, the anniversary of Xenaís defeat. Not
only was it hard on Gabrielle, but Kellas had to wrestle with the ghost
of the queenís former lover. It hadnít been easy on Kellas since her
arrival at this village seven seasons ago. She found herself immediately
smitten with the queen and took every opportunity to show her how she
felt. Ephiny had told Kellas the story of the queen and the warrior who
would have been her consort, urging her to give the queen the
appropriate amount of time to mourn her dead lover.
So she stepped back and she waited and she watched. She watched the
beautiful queen begin to waste away, slowly dying right along with the
warrior. She decided to take matters into her own hands. She wouldnít
allow this beautiful woman to go like that. Regent Ephiny had all but
forbid it, saying that if the queen were meant to follow the warrior
then no one should try to change that. Kellas however didnít listen to
She remembered the evening so clearly. She had followed the queen out
into the meadow and watched as the woman knelt by the stone and wept.
Kellas allowed her pain and gave her time to grieve. Then slowly she
approached and knelt down next to her. She sat against the stone and
pulled the queen into her arms. The woman lay in her arms and sobbed
until the sun started to rise, then she fell into a restless slumber.
Kellas picked her up and started to carry her back to the village. As
she shifted the queen, a dagger fell from her bodice. Kellas stared at
the knife and looked to the queen. "I wonít allow you to do that
my Queen. You mean too much to the nation, to me. I love you."
Kellas took the queen to her hut and placed her gently on the bed.
She sat by her side until she woke up the next evening. "Xena?"
The queen asked as she slowly regained consciousness.
"No my Queen it is Kellas."
"Yes my Queen." She said softly as she knelt down next to
the bed and took her hand.
"I brought you back here this morning."
"No, thatís not what I wanted. I wantedÖ"
"Gabrielle, listen to me." Kellas was bolder now moving up
and setting on the bed next to her. "You canít do this to
yourself. You deserve to live, to be happy. I didnít know Xena, but
from the stories I have been told she would want you to go on. She would
want you to be happy."
"I canít. You donít understand." The queen sat up on
the bed and started to get up.
Kellas grabbed her by the wrist. "I do understand. I understand
that you loved her. I understand that she died, but that doesnít mean
you have to die with her."
"I canít live without her."
"Yes you can."
"If I can prove to you that you can live without her, that you
can feel again. Will you at least give yourself time to try?"
Gabrielle didnít say anything. She just stared at the warrior.
Kellas pulled Gabrielle into her arms and kissed her, a long passionate
kiss. Gabrielle started to fight it, but then feelings long buried began
to resurface. She returned the kiss. Their tongues explored each otherís
mouths. Kellasí hands began exploring the queenís body. Gabrielle
moaned under the warriorís gentle touch. Kellas began kissing her
neck, gently licking and sucking the exposed flesh. Gabrielleís head
went back and another moan escaped her lips. Suddenly she froze as if
the sound had frightened her. She looked at Kellas and suddenly became
very angry. She lashed out, slapping the warrior hard across the face
and bolted from the hut. Kellas sat there rubbing her face, a slight
smile on her lips. Slowly, they got past that morning and they found
themselves spending all their free time together. The queen began
smiling and laughing, living again.
It was another three seasons before they became lovers. Even then
Xenaís specter remained. Many nights were spent pulling Gabrielle out
of a sweat soaked nightmare and rocking her gently back to sleep as she
cried for the lover she had lost. Then of course there was the guilt on
Gabrielleís part that she would wake up screaming Xenaís name when
Kellas slept so soundly next to her and was always there to comfort her.
The same way Xena had been there for her when Perdicus had died.
Finally, the time had come and Kellas had made the boldest move yet,
asking Gabrielle to join with her. She had to admit surprise when
Gabrielle said yes immediately. So now it seemed she had everything she
wanted why was she not happy. The answer came quick enough. Because she
was still competing with Xena on some level for the queenís
She continued to poke at her food. Gabrielle sat down next to her and
wrapped her arms around her waist. "Why so glum chum?"
"Listen, I have an idea Iíd like to run by you, just to see
how you feel about it."
"Okay what is it you desire my love?"
"Well I was just thinkingÖ" The queen leaned over and
whispered something in the warriorís ear. Something that made the
"Gabrielle. I didnít know you knew words like that."
"I used to be a bard remember. I know lots of words. So what do
you think?" She grinned and wiggled her eyebrows.
"I must admit it is very tempting offer."
"Well good, Iím glad youíre pleased. Have to keep my warriorís
happy you know."
Kellas turned and straddled the bench, facing the queen. "I had
better be the only warrior you keep happy in that manner."
"Oh is that so?" She said teasing. "I am the queen. I
have many responsibilities to the nation you know."
"Youíre just trying to get me started arenít you?"
"Un-huh." She said as she leaned over and kissed Kellas.
Ephiny sat across the room and watched the pair. She was so glad
Kellas has gone against her wishes so many seasons ago. They were suited
for each other. It was true that no one would ever truly replace Xena in
the queenís heart, but Kellas proved to be a close second. She was so
proud that she would be presiding over their joining ceremony with the
next new moon. As she continued to watch the couple, she didnít notice
the sentry who came in. The sentry walked quickly over to the Regent and
whispered in her ear. Ephiny looked up; there was no exchange of words.
The sentry simply nodded and with that Ephiny and the sentry both left
Gabrielle and Kellas walked arm and arm through the village, stopping
occasionally to talk with friends or share a soft kiss. As the patrol
came back into the village, Gabrielle noticed Ephiny was with them and
behind her on a dark, black horse, a riderÖ
A hand went unconsciously to her throat. Kellas looked down at her
and then over to the returning party. "Gabrielle what is it?"
"It canít beÖ," Gabrielle said softly as she slowly
began walking toward the patrol. Her pace quickened as the realization
The rider dismounted and stood next to the black horse loosely
holding the reigns in her hand. She smiled that familiar smile as she
watched Gabrielle come toward her. Very soon she found herself wrapped
tightly in the arms of the amazon queen. She returned the embrace and
lifted the queen off the ground. "Iíve missed you my Queen."
"Oh Gods, Xena, I thought you were dead." Her words cut
through her sobs. "Youíve been gone so long."
Kellas watched. Then, vengeful Gods carried over the name to her
ears. Xena. How could this be? After so many seasons, why had she come
back now? She took two steps forward and then stopped, not sure of what
to do. She just watched.
Xena put Gabrielle down and stood back. The bard just stared at her,
still touching her. Not quite believing her own eyes, which were filled
with tears. She reached out and touched the face that still came to her
in her dreams. The only noticeable change was a small red scar that ran
down her right cheek. Gabrielle traced the scar with the tips of her
Xena captured her hand. The scar was obviously a painful reminder of
something she didnít want to discuss at this very moment. "Iím
sorry Iíve been away for so long." She said as she looked into
the green eyes of the bard.
Gabrielle was having trouble forming words. "IÖI canít
believe it. Youíre home."
Xena smiled. Ephiny had met her outside the village and tried as best
she could to prepare Xena for what she would find. Xena had suspected as
much and had come to terms with the fact that the bard may have found
another in the time she had been gone. She had hoped it wasnít true,
but when Ephiny had confirmed it, she tried to accept it as fact. She
looked across the square to where Kellas stood firmly rooted.
"Gabrielle, is there someone you want me to meet?" She asked,
nodding to Kellas.
Gabrielle turned and looked back. Her mind began screaming, 'Oh
Gods, how could this happen'. "Yeah." was all she could
say as they walked toward Kellas.
Kellas watched them, sizing up the infamous Xena. Tall, strong and
annoyingly beautiful. The black pants, shirt, and cloak she wore, hid
what Kellas was sure was a firm, equally beautiful body. Her sword hung
on her left side and the chakram she had heard so many stories about
hung on the right. Her smile was infectious. The queen and the warrior
looked perfect together. Even she had to admit that. There was a glow
between them. An energy that surrounded them.
Gabrielle now caught between the two warriorsí was as uncomfortable
as any mortal could be. In all of her dreams, all of the nightmares that
surrounded her, this possibility had never come to her.
"Kellas, this is Xena. Xena this is Kellas, myÖmy
"And," Kellas finished "intended consort."
Xena smiled and extended her arm to the warrior. ĎGood, sheís
protectiveí Xena thought as Kellas took her arm in a warriorís
embrace. "Congratulations." She said as they parted.
Gabrielle was confused. This was not the Xena who had left so many
years ago. That Xena would have ripped Kellas limb from limb, broken
every bone in her body and then fed her to Argo. The confusion on her
face did not go unnoticed by the warrior in question.
"Gabrielle. Are you happy?" Xena asked looking down at the
"Yes." She answered honestly.
"Then that is all I ever wanted for you. I wish it could have
been meÖ" Her voiced cracked, "but itís not, and thatís
my fault. Iím just glad you found happiness." She turned to
Kellas. "Just promise me that you will always take care of her and
never hurt her."
"Of course." Kellas said eyeing the warrior and wondering
what her motive was.
"Now if you will excuse me Iím going to stable my horse for
the night. If itís okay with you, Gabrielle, Iíd like to get some
food and some rest. Iíll leave in the morning."
"Please donít leave again!" The words just came out of
the bardís mouth.
"Gabrielle under the circumstancesÖ" Xena began.
"Please at least stay for a couple of days so we can talk. Thereís
so much I need to know. I need answers to questionsÖ" She was
upset and beginning to cry.
"All right. All right. Iíll stay for a couple of days."
Xena couldnít help herself. She reached out and tenderly caressed the
bardís face. Xena could feel Kellas stiffen and broke off the touch.
She smiled at Gabrielle, turned and nodded to Kellas and then returned
to the sentryís, who all had been holding their collective breath
waiting for the fight.
Xena took the reigns of her horse and looked up to Ephiny who was
staring at her. "What?"
"Nothing, my friend, nothing."
"Are you going to take me to the stables or what?"
"They havenít moved. Theyíre in the same place they were the
last time you were here."
"Well, how was I suppose to know that? You know if you donít
want to go with an old friend and talk thenÖ"
"Oh, for Zeusí sake. Some things never change. Of course I
wanted to talk with you. I just didnít know if you wanted to."
The duo walked toward the stables. Once inside, Xena fell to her
knees and began to cry. Ephiny wasnít quite sure what to do. She knelt
down and rubbed her friendís back.
"I was afraid of this." Xena said as she got herself under
control. "I knew she wouldnít wait forever. I tried to get back
Eph. I did. I really did."
"Iím sure you did my friend."
"I only wanted to come home to her. I wanted to be with her to
try and make up for all the seasons we had lost. I shouldnít have come
after all this time."
"Donít be ridiculous, Xena. What if she had been waiting for
you? She did for so many seasons. She mourned you for so long. We all
thought you were dead. Hades was claiming the bodies so quickly, and
when we returned for youÖ"
"I was taken prisoner by Brackenís men as they fled." She
shifted her position and sat back in a pile of hay for a moment before
standing to tend to her horse. As she unsaddled him, she explained to
Ephiny how she had been wounded, taken prisoner, and kept drugged. When
she finally regained her senses she was in Egypt. She found herself in
service to Cleopatra who had saved her from slavers. In the process she
was once again face to face with Caesar. She had to finish what she had
started so many years before. Not to mention the debt she owed Cleopatra
for saving her. Dealing with Caesar was repayment of that debt.
"We heard he had been assassinated." Ephiny stated.
"It was more of a mercy killing actually." Xena said as she
began to brush her horse. "Anyhow, Cleopatra gave me safe passage
back to Greece and I headed straight back here."
Ephiny was about to say something when the stable door opened.
Gabrielle stood there. Eph look between them and decided now was the
time for a perfect exit. She slid out past the Queen. Gabrielle entered
slowly. Xena continued brushing the black stallion. Gabrielle came up
and began patting him.
"Heís very handsome."
"Whatís his name?"
"Autolycus?" The bard laughed. "Whyíd you name him
"Because I stole him. I figured it was appropriate."
"You stole him?"
"Donít worry, Gabrielle, it wasnít actually stealing. The
man I took him from gave me the scar. I figured it was a fair
trade." She removed his bridle and gave him a tap on the rump.
"Auto stall." The horse moved to an empty stall and made
Xena held his bridle in her hands and stared at the floor. Gabrielle
stepped forward and put her hand under Xenaís chin and raised her
face. "Welcome home." She said softly.
"Yeah well, Gabrielle, about that. We both know Iím not going
to be able to stay here."
"Youíre joking right? You know that I wouldnít be able to
stay here and watch you live your life with someone else."
"So youíre just going to walk away?"
"What would you have me do Gabrielle? Go out there and issue a
challenge. Do you want me to challenge Kellasí right to be your
consort? If thatís what you want I will certainly do it. I love you. I
always have, and I always will, but do you love her?"
"Then donít you owe her the opportunity to make you
"I donít know. Iím so confused. I mean Kellas has been so
strong and supportive, and we do love each other, but you know who my
heart belongs to. It is yours, my love."
"Gabrielle donít say things that youíll regret later."
"Itís the truth Xena. I have always loved you to the very core
of my soul."
"Xena, do you still love me?"
"Of course I do. You know I love you."
"Then stay, and weíll try to figure something out."
"What is there to figure out Gabrielle? Youíre going to be
joined with Kellas. Youíre going on with your life, as you
"Youíre my life."
"A past life maybe."
Gabrielle sat down on a pile of hay and just shook her head.
"Why did you come back then?"
"I had to know."
"Know what? If you could complicate my life."
"That was not my intention and you know it." Xena was on
the defensive now. "I came back here hoping that you would beÖOh
never mind. Itís too late for that now."
"All right look weíre both tired and not thinking to clearly
right now," Gabrielle said as she stood. "Letís get some
sleep and look at this though fresh eyes in the light of day."
"Good idea. Iíll bed down in here."
"Donít be ridiculous, weíll put you in a hut."
Gabrielle started to gather Xenaís things.
ĎJust like old timesí thought Xena as she gathered up her
saddlebags and followed Gabrielle out of the stables. They walked across
the square to a hut reserved for visitors.
Kellas watched them from the porch of the royal hut. She watched as
they spoke for a moment and then Xena went inside. Gabrielle turned and
headed for her hut. As she approached the porch Kellas offered her hand.
Gabrielle took it and they went inside.
* * * * * *
Kellas sat on the bed taking off her boots as Gabrielle went through
her nightly ritual of getting ready for bed. "It is all right if I
stay here, isnít it." Kellas asked, not wanting to make any
"Of course. This is your home too. Nothing has changed
Kellas finished getting ready for bed and climbed under the covers.
As was her routine, she slept in the nude. After many seasons of
coaxing, she had convinced Gabrielle of the freedom of it and the queen
rarely wore a shift to bed. Tonight, Gabrielle found it just a little
discomforting, and she put of a shift before she climbed in next to
"Nothingís changed huh?" Kellas said as she put her arms
around the queen.
"Kellas please just give me some time."
"Iíve been giving you time for seven seasons now. Iíve
waited. Iíve prayed. Iíve begged. Now she comes back and destroys
everything Iíve tried to build with you."
"She hasnít destroyed anything."
"Why did she have to come back here?" Kellas said in a
disgusted tone as she rolled away from Gabrielle.
"She came back to make sure I was all right."
"Well, now she knows youíre all right, she can leave."
"Kellas! Sheíll stay as long as I want her to stay."
"Do you want her to stay?"
"Part of me does, yes."
"Tell me more."
"I loved her for so many seasons, Kellas, itís hard to let
"Donít you think I know that. Iíve watched you for seven
seasons never quite able to let go."
"I love her."
"Well then that settles that doesnít it?"
"No because I love you too."
"Seems to me my Queen that youíre caught between a minotaur
and a hydra."
* * * * * *
Morning came too quickly for Gabrielle. When she awoke Kellas was
gone. She got up and dressed quickly. As she stepped out of the hut
Ephiny approached her.
"Good morning, Gabrielle."
"If you say so." She mumbled as she headed for her morning
Ephiny took a deep breath and followed her. "Gabrielle?"
"What?" She was far more testy that she meant to be.
"Iím sorry Eph. What is it?"
"We have a problem."
"Well, now tell me something I donít know."
"I mean besides that."
"Two of the smaller girls are missing."
"Doran and Galia are missing. They wandered out of the village
sometime this morning."
"Get every able bodied woman out and begin a search."
"Itís already been done."
"Iíll grab a quick bite and help too. Have you seen Xena this
"She was one of the first ones out looking this morning."
Gabrielle smiled, "Of course she would have been."
"Kellas went out too."
"I wouldnít have accepted less from her." Gabrielle
"Iím sorry, Gabrielle."
"Donít be, this has us all one edge."
"What are you going to do?"
"At this very minute Iím going to go find those little girls.
Iíll worry about the rest later."
* * * * * *
Xena walked through the forest looking for any signs of the girls.
Her ears caught a slight sound above her. She looked up. Kellas was
above her in the trees. "Do you see anything?" She asked,
hoping for an answer.
"Nothing. They couldnít have gotten far."
"I wouldnít think so. Little ones can just be so slippery
"My concern is that they headed for the caves." Kellas
called from the trees.
"Iíll head that direction. If you see anything, give me a
Xena headed towards the caves that were just east of the village. As
she approached she did indeed find tracks of two small children. She
looked around for any signs of other searchers. She wasnít wild about
heading into the old caves by herself, but she had no choice.
She headed into the caves. Luckily there were still a few torches on
the walls left over from a time when the amazons used the caves as
shelter during the war with the centaurs. She managed to get a torch
lit, but it soon flickered out. "Great, just great", she
mumbled to herself as she moved cautiously, further into the cave. She
had to adjust her senses to use everything but her eyes. She listened
for anything that would make her believe that the girls were in the
cave. In the distance she could hear something that sounded like small
cries. She moved as quickly as possible toward the sound. As she got
closer she got down and began to crawl as she inched forward she felt a
small foot. The little girl cried out in fear.
"Shhh, sweetheart itís okay I got yaí." She said as she
pulled the little girl into her arms. "Whatís your name?"
In between sobs the little girl responded, "Doran."
"Okay Doran. Whereís Galia?"
"I donít know. We were walking and all of the sudden she was
Xena reached out into the darkness and felt the area where she had
scooped up the little girl. A ledge. ĎDamní she thought.
"Itís okay honey, weíll find her. I want you to hold on to me
real tight okay?"
Xena headed back to the mouth of the cave. Once outside she heard
searchers and called for them. Several women came to the caves. Xena
handed the girl off to one of the women and quickly began organizing the
other and issuing orders.
"First we need fresh torches and several lengths of rope. I
think Galia has fallen from a ledge inside the cave. Iím going back in
there to see if I can hear anything from her. Bring me those things as
quickly as you can."
Several of the women left to gather the things that Xena had
requested. The warrior headed back into the cave. As she approached the
ledge, she laid down on her stomach and move carefully to the edge,
listening. She could hear the girls ragged breath. "Galia, can you
hear me?" She called down into the void. There was a faint whimper.
A good sign. "Hang on weíre coming to get you.
Several warriors entered the cave bringing torches, ropes and
blankets. Xena took a torch and held it over the edge of the ledge
looking down. The drop was a long one. She still couldnít quite see
the bottom. She tossed the torch out in front of her across the chasm
allowing it to fall to the bottom on the other side. Giving just enough
light for the warrior to see the little girl crumpled on a pile of rocks
at the bottom directly beneath her.
Xena lifted herself up and pulled a long dagger from her belt. She
drove it deeply into the ground. Taking a rope from one of the warriors
she tossed it over the edge and listened. Not hearing what she wanted
she asked for another length of rope. As she was tying them together
Ephiny came in.
"Whatís going on?" The Regent asked as she approached.
"Galiaís at the bottom of the pit. Iím going after
"Xena be careful, the floor of this cave has always been
unstable. Thatís why we stopped using it for shelter."
"Then get everyone else out of here. I need two strong warriors
to hold the end of the rope, but letís not put anymore weight than
necessary on the floor."
Ephiny ordered everyone else out, staying behind herself she was
about to hold one other warrior when Kellas entered the cave. "Send
her out too. Iíll stay." She said as she handed Xena another
length of rope. "Youíre going to have to use this one too if you
want to reach the bottom."
"Thanks." Xena took the rope and tied it to the end of the
second. She wrapped the rope around the hilt of the dagger leaving
enough free for Kellas and Ephiny to hold on to. "Iím going to go
down and get her. Iíll signal when Iím ready to come back up."
Xena wrapped the rope around her waist and began the decent down the
wall. She tried not to kick loose any small rocks that could injure the
girl further. At the bottom she checked the girl. She was unconscious
and had a broken arm. There were also several cut and bruises but she
"Eph, she unconscious. I canít get her back up by carrying her
so Iím going to tie the rope around her and you can haul her up."
Xena prepared the girl and signaled for them to start taking her up.
"Easy." She was pulled up quickly and carefully. "Eph get
her to the healer. Kellas can help me get back up."
Xena could hear Ephiny bundle the girl up in a blanket and leave the
cave. The rope was tossed back down. Xena grabbed it and began the climb
back up. The wall was full of lose stones that made the climb hazardous.
About half way up, she felt herself falling. She landed flat on her back
at the bottom. She landed squarely on a large rock, knocking the wind
out of her. "Oh I hate it when that happens." She tried to
stand. Blackness surrounded her, as she fell to the ground.
* * * * * *
Kellas left the cave, tucking Xenaís dagger safely in her boot.
Returning to the village, she quickly slipped into Xenaís hut and
gathered her gear. Then to the stables, she prepared Autolycus and led
him into the forest and turned him loose. With a smack on his
hindquarters the horse took off into the forest. She returned to the
village satisfied that her problems were over.
Gabrielle came out of the healerís hut as Kellas came back into the
village. She went to the warrior and hugged her. "Eph told me what
you and Xena did. Iím very proud of you."
"Sheíll be fine in a few days. Whereís Xena? I want to thank
"I donít know. She was headed back here. We got separated. She
should be around here somewhere.
* * * * * *
When she opened her eyes she was surrounded by darkness. The torches
had all burned down leaving her in total darkness at the bottom of the
pit. "Next time you try to kill me, Kellas, make sure you finish
the job." She said aloud as she got to her feet and began
contemplating her way out.
She pulled herself up onto the floor of the cave and just lay there
for a moment. Her body was cut and scraped from the climb, and she had a
headache that felt as if it had been brought on by one of Zeusí own
lightening bolts. Making her way to the mouth of the cave she found the
sun beginning to set and Autolycus standing there. The horse whinnied
and nodded his head as he pounded the ground with his hoof. "Some
big help you were." She mounted the horse and began the ride back
to the village.
As she entered the village she saw Kellas and Gabrielle walking
through the square. Gabrielle looked upset and Kellas was obviously
trying the comfort her. ĎOkay no more nice warriorí Xena
thought as she urged Autolycus on. She rode in quickly and dismounted
the horse without stopping him. Before she had her feet on the ground
she had her sword in her hand as she landed in front of the two women.
"Xena!" Gabrielle gasped "What happened?"
"Your intended tried to murder me this morning. Sloppy job,
"I donít know what youíre talking about." Kellas said
as she moved Gabrielle behind her.
Gabrielle stepped forward. This action enraged Kellas, who started to
raise a hand to the queen. Xena caught her hand and twisted it the sound
of breaking bones was unmistakable. She continued to grip the hand,
further crushing the bones. Kellas dropped to her knees. "Do what
you will to me, but never, never try to lay a hand on Gabrielle!"
Xena shoved the injured warrior back and pulled Gabrielle to her.
"Please stay back." She said as she stepped forward and put
the point of her sword at the womanís chest. A crowd had started to
gather. Several warriors started to step forward, but Ephiny held them
back with a wave of her hand.
"Tell her, Kellas. Tell Gabrielle how you cut the rope and left
me for dead in the cave. TELL HER!" Xena demanded. "Tell her
how you saddled my horse and turned him loose. TELL HER!"
Gabrielle looked down at the woman she had come to trust so much.
"Is it true?"
"Yes." Kellas offered "I was afraid of losing you. I
had to do something."
Gabrielle placed a gentle hand on Xenaís sword and made her lower
it. "Please donít kill her."
Xena looked into the eyes of her bard. She smiled and lowered the
sword to her side. Gabrielle motioned for Ephiny, who quickly joined
them. "Take Kellas to the healer and have that hand tended to. Then
take her to the edge of our land and let her be on her way. She is
banished from this village."
"Yes my Queen." Ephiny motions for guards who came forward
and took Kellas away. Ephiny grinned at Xena as she started to walk
away. She stopped and whispered in her ear. "Thank you. I just won
Xena turned and grinned. "I want the names of the ones who bet
Eph slapped the warrior on the arm and went to the healerís hut.
Xena turned to Gabrielle and put a gentle hand on her cheek. The bard
held the palm of her warriorís hand to her face and then gently kissed
it. "Iím sorry Gabrielle."
"No Iím sorry."
"Would you like to try andÖ"
Gabrielle cut her off. "Do you really need to ask?"
The warrior pulled the bard into her arms where she belonged and gave
her a soft and gentle kiss. The cheers of the amazons that surrounded
them was all the reassurance they needed. They were together, never to
be separated again.
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