Best Short, Short Story (alternative)
The Untitled Argo Story
by Amazon Moon
Disclaimer: Alt. Fan fiction. This story takes place before the India episodes. I had a hard time thinking of a good title for this story since it seemed most would sound cliché or would be used, most probably, by others. Some choices my partner and I were brainstorming over were pretty zany stuff like (okay, don’t laugh now)… Argo’s day off, Argo saves the day, Run Argo Run, you get the picture… so hey, don’t mind the title… it was the best I could think of. *sheepish grin*
Righto, all comments to go to me at
Enjoy the story! =)
The infamous trio ventured into a serene garden that seemed like a treasured haven of the gods. Night had already come and a cool breeze swept past them, gently rustling the overhanging leaves, creating harmonious music with the trickling of the brook nearby.
The sturdy horse, a fine beauty with a gleaming coat and bright eyes, flicked her fine mane of gold as she trotted stoically beside the two human companions beside her. Her owner was the well-known warrior princess, Xena. Argo had known Xena all her life- from the day the then blood thirsty conqueror saved her life when as a young fawn, she had her delicate hoof trapped in a nasty metal clamp laid by greedy horse sellers.
Xena had stopped her men and released Argo from the painful metal clamp herself. The rest of Argo’s family had left her. They could not risk the chance at being caught. Argo’s mother, the aged mare Andalucia had wept tears when the group had to leave little Argo.
"We shall meet again little one," Andralucia promised, her heart breaking as she reluctantly followed the herd, leaving her youngest to her fate. They had tried all their best to free her but could not. Argo neighed for her mother to return but the herd only seemed to drive faster into the forest. Argo could hear Xena’s army fast approaching.
Argo lay her small head beside the horrid clamp that trapped her foot. She wept and tears fell to a splash at the places where the trap was hurting her, helping ease the pain a little.
The young mare waited for her destiny to happen. She was a special one, her mother had told her. She had a great future. A fate intended for her, which she cannot escape. Andalucia had read her daughter’s future the night she had been born. Argo was different from the average horse. She had a special blessing given by her late ancestors. She would achieve great things, her mother had told her.
The herd had to leave their grazing home due to the visits of some hunters and their horse trader friends. Their leader, Eccles, the broad brown horse with a streak of silver in his jet black mane wanted them to move before it was too late. They started out on their journey and had lost two other members on their way.
Argo liked her aunt Des and her mate Riqueni and had wanted sp badly to run back to their dead carcasses and lament their deaths but Andalucia foreboded her. Argo could only continue their run for survival with the rest of the herd, leaving Des and Riqueni behind for the hunters to collect.
If only she knew fate would separate her from her family a day later.
Xena’s army swarmed loudly, surrounding the young one like a massive wave of noise and dust. Hoof trapped in the unflinching metal trap, Argo tried tugging but it didn’t work. She just barely managed to work herself in circles.
Unfriendly dark horses eyed her coldly; rowdy armed men upon their backs. Argo turned around and saw a human different from these men upon a dark steed. Her blue eyes seemed to understand her pain. Argo somehow felt she could speak to her.
Please don’t kill me, Argo begged the warrior woman through pleading eyes. The young horse looked around nervously. Were they hunters? If so, where were the dogs?
The blue eyed woman seemed to have softened her gaze and her mouth that was twisted in an angry mocking smile before had now gone gentle. She eased herself off her mount and walked over to where Argo was.
I’m not going to hurt you, Argo read through the still blue sea of her kindly eyes.
The healthy horse gave a nod like she understood when the woman bent to release her from the trap. Argo neighed happily when she was finally released. Her foot felt better and she owed it all to the woman. Not only had she saved her leg, she saved her life.
You’re my mistress now, Argo told the woman as she rose from her knees. I will serve you for as long as you want me.
Xena just smiled.
A low moan brought Argo back into the present. Her owner lay on her lover’s lap, pale and hardly breathing. Gabrielle, the one with a sunny smile and easygoing look in her green eyes now seemed like she was torn between misery and fear. Usually, she was almost always talking when they were on the road but now she was silent and deep worry lined her face.
"You’re not going to die Xena," Gabrielle whispered as she stroked her lover’s cool pale face, wet with sweat and tears. "Not like this."
Argo pricked her ears and trotted over, near to where her owner lay. She bent her head when Xena offered her hand. Feeling Xena’s weak pulse as the warrior woman meekly stroked her face, Argo knew her time was near.
Fear prickled her. Throughout her travels with Xena, she had been through so much. She had been Xena’s faithful horse since her conqueror days. Even when Xena was ‘dead’ and her body was tied to her and another horse, Argo had refused to budge and tear apart the woman she had so loved.
When Gabrielle joined them, Argo had detested the blonde one, afraid she would steal the warrior’s affections away from her. But she got over that. And now the three were the best of friends.
But that painful time when Xena left her for another horse… Argo felt at a loss. She hadn’t done anything to deserve that. She watched as her owner left her for another, a darker, stronger horse and wept tears.
Her owner had left her. She had to go on. She ran wild and free, telling herself she enjoyed her freedom and ability to go anywhere she pleased. But yet, she knew something deep called out inside her. She longed for the adventures the warrior woman had brought her.
She had let another ride her, against the woman who she had kept on her back all her life. Rage, jealousy and hurt had shot like arrows through her soul of course. But then, when Xena lay crumpled on the ground, her sea blue eyes filled with confidence and trust for her, Argo knew Xena must had her reasons. She threw her rider off. She shared a sacred bond with her mistress Xena and nothing was ever going to change that.
"You’ve been a good horse Argo," Xena smiled weakly as she rubbed her nose.
"Xena, don’t talk like this," Gabrielle urged, shaking her slightly. "You’re going to live."
Argo whined softly as she nuzzled her mistress’ face. You’ll be fine Xena.
"The pain… Gabrielle…," Xena winced again, crying at the intense misery the wound at her hip caused her. They had been attacked by a gang of ruffians awhile ago and one had grazed the warrior with a dart tipped with a deadly poison.
Even putting the pinch on him, they found no remedy. There was no cure for the poison which now seeped further in, burning Xena’s flesh as it traveled further into her blood system. By the way it goes, Xena judged she would probably be dead if she didn’t get the serum by the next day.
"Stay with me Xena," Gabrielle whispered, on the verge of tears but holding them in to act brave in front of her fallen warrior. "Stay."
Argo watched sadly as Xena began to waste away before her eyes. She looked away, tears shining in her bright hazel eyes. She couldn’t stand her owner dying this way. She had to do something about it. She knew the meaning of death. It meant a long separation. She never saw Des and Riqueni again. And she didn’t want Xena to go. Things would be so strange with just her and the bard on the road.
With a last nuzzle, Argo kept her head bowed in a silent promise as she backed away. Before they could stop her, the brilliant mare galloped into the stillness of the night.
Argo ran like the wind that breezed through her mane. She neighed in pleasure at the cold tendrils of the breeze that tickled her naked hide. Argo leapt over rocks, splashing through cool streams and pounding across wide green grasslands. She did not know where she was going but she knew she was heading the right way. Her heart told her so.
It seemed like she had traveled for days but it had barely been hours. Argo’s tough muscles were put to a test as she charged fiercely towards her goal. An animal instinct told her she was getting nearer.
The promise to her mistress spurned her on, acting like a painless whip that urged across her hide now wet with beads of sweat. Argo grunted as the round moon in the sky above watched over her and showed her light. She was reaching. She could feel she was.
Galloping like the wind, Argo soon found herself entering a mysterious wood. It had luminous fresh green leaves and the darkest bark on trees she had ever seen. She allowed herself to slow to a trot as she ventured deeper into this strange, soothing place.
The comforting drip of dew from flowers eased her weary body while the rush of breeze behind her ear warmed her in a strange comforting way she had never felt before. As she trotted past green bushes and sturdy trees, she spotted a wide pool.
It was nearly silver in the moonlight and was so clear, Argo could see a number of horses nearby. She gasped as she recognized several family members. She gaped as she walked towards them. She knew where she was now.
She was at the Pool of Dreams. The place all horses of good merit went after passing. When she was a young fawn, Argo remembered her mother whispering tender tales of magic about this pool when she tried to sleep during those rainy nights.
The Pool of Dreams held sacred magic in its waters. It was located in a sacred haven so carefully hidden, no ordinary mortal could find it. All good horse spirits lived there, where it was all calm and peaceful. Nothing evil lurked there as goodness and goodwill were the only things that thrived.
Argo knew she was different from them as she trotted slowly towards them. She lacked the mysterious glow of hot bright silver which illuminated their bodies. Her tan hide still carried a healthy sheen which deferred her from the rest almost immediately.
No one uttered a sound and Argo could hear the deafening crunching of her hoofs upon the grass as she made her way cautiously towards them. Something had brought her to them but she could not think of the reason.
A familiar shape made its way to meet her and she stopped in her tracks instantly. The face was never forgotten and even in her dreams, Argo had thought of her. ‘Mother?’
Andalucia smiled as she gave a nod, her eyes looking peacefully serene and quiet. The whole place oozed a peculiar calmness that soothed her being. Argo could have wept. She had finally seen her mother again, after so long. And with this visit, she also found out her mother had passed.
‘What are you doing here child?’ Andalucia questioned gently as she nuzzled her daughter’s mane. ‘Only those who have passed come to the Pool. It’s not your time.’
‘Xena’s in trouble, Mother," Argo explained as Des and Riqueni joined Andalucia in showing their fondness for her. She spotted Eccles standing nearby. ‘Something brought me here… to the Pool of Dreams.’
Des nodded. ‘I understand now… Argo was sent her because her wish to help her mistress was pure and true. Not anyone can enter this realm.’
‘If I don’t do something soon, she will die,’ Argo informed them, clearly distressed. Her hide was still wet with sweat and her mane damp. Her muscles were now feeling heavy and weariness was starting to kick in.
‘For your goodness, she will be saved,’ Eccles said suddenly. Argo had always feared him. He was a big, stern one, always impatient at the young ones. But now, he seemed less fiery. He even sounded gentle. ‘You have proven your worth.’
‘Wash yourself in the healing waters of the Pool, Argo,’ Riqueni instructed her as she stood beside her partner. ‘You will feel much better.’
Argo complied obediently as she entered the cool, still water. It was cold at first but she gradually felt its warmth curling inside her, melting away all weariness she felt before. It was a wonderful sensation, making what Riqueni said, an understatement.
She finally came out of the pool’s magical waters and glanced at the familiar faces of her relatives. She would miss her mother the most. She could already feel an unbearable ache starting to form in her chest where her heart was, when her mother rubbed her cheek lovingly with hers.
‘I see you everyday Argo,’ Andalucia whispered. ‘But we will meet here again, some day. Then there will be no separations and no pain.’
Argo feebly nodded. Eccles trotted forward, offering her a branch of eucalyptus leaves dipped in the healing waters of the Pool. ‘This is for Xena. You must go now or it will be too late for her.’
Taking the branch carefully between her teeth, Argo turned to go. Tears welled up in her eyes. She was so sad to leave her family. The family she had lost back then she had found. But it was either she stays or Xena leaves. She couldn’t bear to let Xena down. She promised.
Taking a last look at the horse spirits before her, Argo bowed and blinked away tears. Xena needed her. Quickly putting her newly refreshed muscles into good use, Argo rode faster than she came, seeming like lightning to the wind as she streaked towards her mistress with the healing branch between her teeth.
"Where’s Argo?" Xena whispered weakly, her lips pale and dry. She looked sadly at Gabrielle who held her close. "Where’s she gone to?"
"She’ll be back, don’t you worry," Gabrielle whispered to the love of her life as she wiped damp hair away from Xena’s grieving blue eyes. The bard bit her lip and squeezed her eyes, letting tears slip through. "I love you Xena."
"I love you too Gabrielle," the warrior princess said hoarsely as the pain ate away her body. She had lost the feeling of her legs and arms. She could barely turn her head now. "I’m just so sorry."
"I’m not sorry Xena," Green eyes moist with tears one can only mourn for a lover answered. "You have showed me what life is. And what love really is…"
"Oh Gabrielle…," Xena cried as her lover held her tight. "I’m so sorry…"
This was it, the warrior princess knew. Daylight was coming and it would be the start of a new day for the world but an end to the life of the warrior princess.
Gabrielle held Xena close, engulfing herself to the familiar scent of her lover… she would miss her, of course. Maybe they could die together.
"Xena," Gabrielle said suddenly in a choked voice, forcing her lover to flicker her eyelids halfway. "Remember the time when we had to fight a whole army? You promised me that in death, you would never leave me."
"Gabrielle…," Xena started but the bard quickly hushed her.
"Don’t," Gabrielle raised a hand. She looked at her lover with tearful green eyes the colour of an emerald sea. "I’ve decided. It’s pointless of me being here without you Xena. You’re not leaving me. I’m coming with you."
Xena knew it was pointless to argue when Gabrielle had made up her mind. She fell silent, watching her lover through half lidded eyes. Soon the poison would engulf the whole of her and she would feel nothing but the numbness of pain.
Reaching for Xena’s breast dagger, Gabrielle brushed the end of the blade across her chest. "I can’t bear for us to be separated Xena. Even the gods know this."
Xena knew she had lost her ability of speech. She could only stare at the intent young woman before her through sad blue eyes and hope she could understand. A tear slid down her cheek.
"It’s the only way for me Xena," Gabrielle whispered as she wiped away her tear.
I know, Gabrielle. Xena told her through grieving blue eyes.
The morning sun was soon to rise and Xena knew Hades would soon come for her. It felt nice to be held by Gabrielle but her skin felt numb and all she could feel were the intense prickles of pain shooting up her nerves as they took over her whole system. She was beginning to lose her sight and her hearing.
She looked at Gabrielle and saw she was asleep, her tearstained face calm and soft, her hair looking as beautiful as the first day she met her. Xena smiled and felt herself drift. Goodbye Gabrielle…
The bard realised she must have fallen asleep when she heard a loud crash and immediately opened her eyes. Xena lay impassively on her lap, her eyes closed. Gabrielle realised it was too late. "NO!" she cried.
It was Argo who had returned, and had crashed through the bushes. But Gabrielle was too grieved to notice a peculiar branch in Argo’s mouth. She only knew her lover was dead and she had to follow. Raising Xena’s dagger above the space where her heart was, Gabrielle was about to plunge it deep down when she felt a swift strong kick and the blade escaping from her hands.
‘Xena?’ She thought immediately as her eyes flew open. It was only wishful hope she realised, when she saw her lover lying still before her. She was about to flare up at the horse for kicking the knife away from her when she realised Argo was doing something.
The faithful horse had a branch in her mouth. She was gently tapping dewdrops from it unto Xena’s pale, lifeless face. Gabrielle stared, unsure what was going on. Argo seemed to know exactly what she was doing.
"What are you doing girl?" Gabrielle asked softly, as she knelt before Xena’s head, stroking Argo’s face.
Argo gave no answer, only sprinkling the dew like holy water on the impassive warrior’s face. She didn’t stop. Not even when the branch was finally dry.
"You’ve got to let go girl," Gabrielle said sadly as she eased the branch from Argo’s lips. "She’s gone."
Gabrielle stood up and lead Argo away from Xena’s lifeless body. "You must have some family. Go and join them. Xena’s dead."
Argo didn’t budge. Tears formed in her eyes as she watched the blonde one walk sadly away. Gabrielle reached for the knife which had fallen and pressed the blade on the skin above her heart. The blade felt cool against her warm skin. The bard raised the knife above her chest. "I’m sorry I’ve got to do this, Xena…"
She brought the knife down, waiting for the pain to erupt from her broken heart. To feel the warm stickiness of her blood when she plunge it down. What would death feel like?
A swift kick knocked the weapon out of her hands. Angry green eyes flew open and the infuriated woman was about to scream at the horse when she saw familiar leather boots before her.
Looking up, she saw strong, tan legs, a warrior’s finely crafted armor and finally, met a pair of familiar intense blue eyes which can only belong to one person she knew, staring back at her.
"Xena?" Gabrielle gasped at the sight of her lover.
The warrior woman helped her astonished bard to her feet. "Yes Gabrielle, it’s me."
"You’re alive," Gabrielle smiled through tears as she grasped the woman tightly, afraid to let her go. "You’re alive…"
Argo watched them from some distance away, glad she had managed to save her mistress’ life. And also Gabrielle’s. She turned to watch the babbling brook for a moment, missing her mother. To her amazement, she saw Andalucia’s face form on the rippling surface of the clear water.
Argo smiled. ‘I love you too, Mother.’
End of Story. All comments welcomed. Just pop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. December 4th 1999