DISCLAIMER: I created Vengence, and a few others in this story, but not the usual Xena Characters as you well know.
Suddenly tired of riding, Xena stopped Argo, dismounted, took up her reigns and decided to walk along with Gabrielle for a while. "What's the matter? Saddle sore?" Gabrielle asked jokingly, never having known Xena to ever get saddle sore. "No, just thought I'd walk with you for awhile if that's alright? Unless you wanna ride and I'll walk for a bit". "No, no that's alright, I like walking, you know that" they walked a few more feet in silence, comfortable in each other's company without needing words to fill the silence. Suddenly, Xena stopped and put her hand to her stomach; instantly worried, Gabrielle asked, "Xena? What is it? Are you alright?" "The baby just kicked, here, give me your hand". She took Gabrielle's hand and put it on her stomach, after a moment, Gabrielle gasped in surprise, and then delight. "Doesn't that hurt?" "No, just sort of tickles. He hasn't moved since yesterday morning, I was beginning to wonder what he was doing in there that he wasn't moving". "Well considering he's your baby, probably laying in there thinking up new fighting techniques, and watching you use your chakram trying to learn how to do it so that he knows how when he comes out of there". "Probably. Come on, let's keep going, Amphipolis is only five miles away" Xena gave her best friend a smile and walked on, putting her arm on Gabrielle's shoulder.
FIVE MILES LATER:
SCENE: AMPHIPOLIS, THRIVING, LOOKS LIKE IT ALWAYS HAD BEFORE THE HAUNTING AND POSSESSION OF THE INN. THE INN HAS BEEN RESTORED TO ITS ORIGINAL STATE, AS HAS THE REST OF THE VILLAGE. HORSE AND PEOPLE HUSTLE AROUND.
TIME FRAME: ROUGHLY THREE YEARS AFTER HAUNTING OF AMPHIPOLIS.
As they enter the village Gabrielle, still on foot, as is Xena, replies, "Xena, it's thriving. It looks like it used to before...." "Mom crossed over to the other side?" "Yeah.... sorry...." "There's nothing to be sorry about, you're right, it does, just like the Amphipolis I always knew, like the one I grew up in. I'm home again," Xena said with nostalgia and a tear threatening to well up in her eye. "Come on, let's go to the Inn. I wonder who's running it now?". They walked on into the village headed for the Inn. Upon having tied Argo in front and going into the Inn to find one of Xena's cousins tending the bar, they were greeted with a warm smile; he didn't remember her, it had been years. The last time she'd seen Talmadaeous, he'd been, what? Fourteen? And handsome as hell, she'd always said, if he hadn't been her cousin she would have fallen for him. When they got to the bar, Talmadaeous couldn't help but notice her prominent belly, "Xena! I didn't recognize you at first, how are you? Expecting I see? The town Healer will be glad to have a baby to deliver, she was just saying it's been nothing but cuts, and bumps and bruises, no real medicine to practice her skill on lately". "She? What's her name?" the fact that the Healer was female in a non-Amazonian village was rare. "Vengence, she said her name was Vengence, exotic beauty, tall, long haired, cat like eyes, really beautiful, what she's doing in this tiny town I don't know". A cold chill went down Xena and Gabrielle's spine, Vengence, the daughter of Dahok and Alti, gods, what was she doing here. She was twenty times more lethal than her mother ever had been, and far more lethal. "Do you know her?" "You might say that we've met before. But what is she doing here in Amphipolis?".
"I don't know, but she's one of the best Healers I've ever seen next to you of course Xena". Distractedly Xena said a half mumbled, "yeah, Thanks", as her mind filled with images of Vengence and the ways she had tortured Gabrielle, and herself. She was so much like her mother; even in looks it was frightening. Both had mental abilities that were beyond anything mortal. Alti was a shamanesse, but at least she was mortal, a powerful mortal, but a mortal none the less; Vengence was not only an immortal thanks to her lineage, but she was half demon because of her father. That alone made her ten, or twenty times more dangerous than her mother ever had been, but added to that, she was the daughter of Dahok, father by him in his mortal form it was assumed. Xena sat at the bar drinking her milk, Gabrielle beside her also drinking milk so that Xena wouldn't feel awkward, and because Gabrielle and alcohol were not a good mix. She stared off at the wall, her body in one place, her mind in the past, refighting the battles with Vengence, and Vengence and her mother. Mother and daughter were lethal separately, but together they were unbeatable. She still couldn't figure out why they could have killed both of them in their last encounter, but hadn't, mother and daughter had shown both Xena and Gabrielle mercy and let them live. They'd been barely alive at the end of that battle, but alive non the less.
"Xena, what's wrong, you look like you've got the weight of the world on your shoulders" "I'm just remembering how powerful Vengence and her mother are, and wondering how the Tartarus we're going to stop Vengence this time. The only reason we stopped them the last time is because she backed off. I still haven't figured out why they backed off, but they did. "Maybe Hope called her, you know they say that Hope and Vengence have to come together every few days to join and rejuvenate one another or they'll die". "That might have been the reason at that. We have to find away to get her out of town away from these people so that they aren't hurt. Since she knows I'm pregnant and due any day, we can use it to our advantage. You go to Vengence, and tell her that she has to come right now, that the baby is coming and I need her. Bring her to a small cave I saw just outside of town and we'll fight her there."
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