An Awakening - Discovery

Part I

by Hunter Ash

Disclaimers: Repeat after me: I donít own Xena, Gabrielle, Argo - etc etc etc. I am only borrowing them for my own entertainment, and hopefully, yours. This story is written for entertainment only and no copyright infringement is intended. Warning to anyone wanting to sue: donít bother, it wouldnít be worth it.

Alt Sex: yup, and itís between two consenting adults of the same gender. If this is illegal in your state or country, change your laws or move. If this type of story bugs you, leave now, I can only say I hope the sex scene is intense.

Violence: hmmmm, this does have some hurt and comfort aspects of the main characters. Also, one bad word.

Storyline: This story answers a question put forth in the story "A Visit Home, An Awakening." I hope the story stands alone on its own but you might want to read A Visit Home first. I hadnít intended on starting a series of stories but, there it is. It happened and I hope you like Ďem.

Gabrielle learns some truths about her past and some surprises.

Feedback: Yes, please! <beg> <beg> Donít worry, I donít bite. Wait, thatís not right, I do bite. Okay, I promise not to bite hard.


The dark haired warrior knocked softly on the door and was pleased that it opened almost immediately. It was late and she was afraid the occupant would be asleep and she didnít want to go pounding doors down looking for the small figure that opened the door.

She smiled and pulled back the hood of the cloak she was wearing to let the woman see her face.

"Xena!" Gabrielle exclaimed and dragged the warrior through the door. The bard quickly removed the wet cloak from her tall mate and gasped. She had seen Xena after battle before but it still always surprised her. The warrior was covered in road grime, blood and stuff the bard didnít want to know about. There was one vicious looking gash across a thigh and another on Xenaís sword arm. The warriorís left eye was swelled and a patch of black and blue beginning to show.

Gabrielle moved the warrior further into the room and began removing the dented, torn and filthy armor. She sat the warrior down in a chair and began removing her gauntlets, bracers and boots. Xena leaned back in the chair and sighed heavily and closed her eyes.

The warrior woke up enough to let the bard totally undress her and moaned with pleasure when Gabrielle lead her to the bathing room and helped the battered body into a tub of hot water. Almost instantly Xenaís head dropped forward.

Gabrielle was pleased and worried at the same time. She didnít want to keep Xena in the tub too long, not wanting to reopen the wounds but she also wanted Xena to keep relaxed. It wasnít often Xena fell asleep like this, she was usually so intent on being in control and alert. She began to clean the body in the tub when a knock on the door broke her concentration. The bard was irritated to find the Captain of the Guard standing in the doorway, holding his helmet.

"What is it, Misenus?" she whispered.

"Just making sure she made it to the room. I donít know if she told you, she and the guards cleared the bandits out of the next village over and she rode hard to get here. Itís over, theyíve cleared out." he smiled a very tired smile.

"Thank the gods, can you send for a healer, that cut on her leg looks bad."

"Of course, Iíll rouse her up right now. Iíve got her horse being cared for as well. Both villages owe you both a great debt."

The small bard waved his thanks off. "Donít worry about it, itís what we do." With a grin he was gone and she went back and managed to get an nearly unconscious warrior out of the tub and began drying the woman.

Gabrielle hadnít seen Xena this tired in a very long time. It wasnít unusual for Xena to lose sleep when fighting but this had gone on for a week. "Stupid bandits," the bard muttered as she led Xena back to their room.

Within a candlemark the warrior had her leg stitched up and both arm and leg bandaged and was sleeping sounding in the bed. Gabrielle was worried, Xena hadnít even woken up when the healer began stitching the leg. Both Gabrielle and the healer looked at each other and the healer moved up the bed and felt the warriorís forehead. The bard was instantly by her side when the young woman swore under her breath.

"Whatís wrong?" the bard demanded.

"Fever. It may just be from exhaustion. Get her to take some of this herb in a tea and get some food and liquid in her. Rest is the best thing right now."

"Then sheíll get rest." Gabrielle promised, the healer recognized the stubborn set of the bardís jaw. The healer knew the fierce reputation of the former Conqueror of Nations but she had a feeling that this smaller woman in front of her was just as stubborn as the warrior.

"Good. No roughness, no fighting, no traveling. Her body needs rest."

Gabrielle thanked the healer and was surprised when the woman refused payment. "The village Guard Captain said the village would pay for all your keep and Xenaís care."

***

Gabrielle crawled into bed beside Xena and, for once, the warrior slept sounding with Gabrielleís arms around her instead of the other way around.

***

Xena woke up and groaned, her body hurt everywhere all at once. With experience of a hundred battles she assessed her condition, feeling the bandages on her leg and arm and bruises everywhere. She took in her surroundings and was glad to find herself in a solid room with a solid bed. The warrior sighed, she began remembering making it back to the village and to Gabrielle.

Another moan escaped her lips as she attempted to sit up. Xena smiled a painful smile when the bard entered the room with a tray in her hands.

"You shouldnít be sitting up!" Gabrielle scolded.

"Why not? Iím not out of bed. I have a feeling youíre not going to let me out."

The bard smiled and placed the tray over Xenaís lap and then sat down on the bed beside the warrior. She frowned and felt the tall womanís forehead.

"Still a little warm, you are definitely not getting out of bed today." the bard announced and Xena grinned.

"Does that mean youíll be joining me?" she invited and Gabrielle laughed as she suddenly darted out of reach of the warrior.

"None of that, my Princess. The healer said you were to rest and rest you shall have." Gabrielle giggled at the frustrated look on her mateís face.

"At least kiss me," the warrior complained and the bard quickly agreed by removing the tray and lavishing kisses all over the warriorís face, neck and almost to the warriorís breasts. Xenaís breath became rapid and shallow.

"Keep that up and you wonít get out of this bed either," she growled and the bard danced out of her reach again. "Gabrielle," the warrior threatened.

"Nope, rest you will have." then the bard sat down on the bed again, replacing the tray of food, encouraging the warrior to eat. "Seriously, how bad was it?" she asked and Xenaís smile disappeared.

"We lost a lot of good men. They just wouldnít give in and it turned brutal at the end."

"Brutal?" Gabrielle whispered.

"You donít want to hear this." Xena protested. Gabrielle placed her hand over her warriorís.

"Yes, I do. Youíre wounded, exhausted and probably came very close to being killed several times. I want to hear that it worked out."

"It did, but not before they hanged several of our men they had taken prisoner. They hanged them in front of us."

"Oh gods," the bard whispered. Gabriellle was sorry on several levels, she realized. For the men who had died, for their fellow villagers and families who had witnessed their deaths, and afraid for what it may have awakened in Xena.

"Yes. We finally broke them. The remaining leaders will probably face those same ropes when the villagers have tried them."

"You didnít....."

Xena smiled at the unasked question. "No, I didnít give into the darkness, even when that happened."

"I love you, Xena."

"I love you, my bard." Xena suddenly looked frustrated. "For crying outloud - hand me my pack from last night."

Gabrielle handed her the pack with a puzzled look on her face. She started to ask questions but Xena held up a hand for silence while she rummaged through the pack. With a worried look she pulled out a piece of parchment and handed it to Gabrielle. The bard turned over the folded paper several times, it had been sealed with wax but bore no impression in the wax and no writing on the outside.

"A messenger came yesterday with that from your family. I figured I could move faster than he could after the battle."

"My family?" the bard whispered. A look of concern overcame the bardís lovely features and she unconscious pushed a lock of hair out of her eyes. Green eyes sought out the blue ones of the warrior.

"You wonít know until you open it, little one." Xena encouraged, feeling the same dread grip her own heart. Families like Gabrielleís didnít hire messengers for simple letters to relatives. It had to be important.

With a sigh the bard broke the wax seal and unfolded the parchment. With a cry she threw the parchment down and went to the window, looking out at the rain. Xena carefully removed her breakfast tray and picked up the parchment.

Dearest Gabrielle, Patronius, the healer is writing this for me. I hope this finds you well. I must tell you that your father suffered an accident two days after the Spring Full Moon and is gone. I do not know if this will reach you in time for the funeral but it would be good of you both to come home for a few days. I love you and you are both welcome. Lovingly, Hecuba.

"Oh gods, Gabrielle, Iím sorry." the warrior, ignoring the advice of the healer, was out of the bed in an instant and took the bard into her strong arms, letting Gabrielle finally break down and cry. She moved the two of them back to the bed and pulled Gabrielle into her arms like a child and held the woman as she grieved.

After awhile the tears had slowed down and Xena began to make out words.

"Xena, I was so angry when we left! He thought I didnít love him!"

"No, little one." Xena stroked the lovely reddish blond hair and held her little bard tight. "We talked before we left, he loved you very much."

"You talked? After all that shouting and ordering you out? You remember his face when he found out I loved you!"

Xena smiled, she did remember his face. She also had a pretty good idea what her own face had been like when he had ordered her gone, Gabrielle to stay and challenged the warrior. Fortunately, Gabrielle had stepped between them and calmed everyone down. Xena was now grateful she hadnít thrown him through a window like she had wanted.

Herdoctus had come to her later and apologized for his behavior and the way he had treated Gabrielle and Lila growing up. He was willing to try and change. Xena cursed his stubbornness now, he hadnít wanted to approach Gabrielle and tell her that just yet. Now it was too late to say it himself.

Xena told this and everything to her bard as she held the younger woman. The warrior tried to comfort as best she could, she knew Gabrielle both loved and sometimes hated her father. Herdoctus had been quick to use his fists too many times on his daughters for Xenaís taste, the thought of anyone hitting Gabrielle could bring the warlord back to the surface instantly, but she had tried to be understanding for Gabrielle.

"I need to see my mother," the bard whispered.

"Of course, weíll leave immediately."

The bard sat up facing her lover with a frown. "What are we going to do? Youíre still sick and shouldnít be traveling with those wounds and your fever." Gabrielle protested.

"Iím not staying here!" Xena protested right back. "Thereís still bandits out there."

"You canít come right away either!"

Xena began muttering. Then threw her drinking cup across the room with a scowl. She knew Gabrielle was right, her leg was in incredible pain just from crossing the room to the bard and she felt as weak as a newborn.

"Feel better?" the bard asked with a smile. Xena scowled as Gabrielle began packing her things. "Iíll take a horse and you can follow in a couple of days. Itís a short ride and itís in the opposite direction of the fighting."

"I am not amused!" Xena growled.

Gabrielle quickly sat down next to her love, touching Xenaís face gently. "I know, but I need to get to my mother and Lila. I also have to stop in a nearby village and see my uncle. My mother left a parchment for me if something happened to either her or my father. For once I need to leave you behind, my love."

The irony was not lost on the warrior, it was usually Xena who left Gabrielle behind at some inn for up to a couple of weeks at a time to settle some war or bandit problem, especially when she needed to move fast. Gabrielleís reluctance to ride a horse often meant her staying behind. The bard continued packing.

"You hate to ride," Xena mumbled.

"Yes," Gabrielle agreed simply.

"Youíll be careful?" Xenaís voice suddenly sounded small and the bard turned from her bags and threw herself into her warriorís arms, both crying.

***

Xena reluctantly stayed in bed for two days, having promised Gabrielle. That didnít mean she was happy about it and on the third day she was ready to travel before the sun came up. Argo, picking up on her masterís energy, stomped her hoof, ready to be going as well.

Misenus met her at the stable door as she mounted Argo.

"Thank you, Xena. Any time you need anything you just have to ask. Iíll always be in your debt."

"Call it even for the healer, Misenus." she smiled and grabbed his arm in a warriorís handshake.

The young man shook his head with a grin. "Canít call it even yet, warrior. My little sister was one of the women you saved from those bandit slavers when you snuck into their camp by yourself and freed them. Donít think I donít know what risk you took for that one."

"Weíll call it even if you donít tell Gabrielle exactly how many times I risked my neck." she grinned back.

"Nah, but I agree. Farewell, Xena."

***

Xena made good time and was pleased to be entering Poteida by the next evening. She had taken it easy on Argo and the horse had kept up a good steady pace. She directed the horse directly to the house where, just four months before, she had wanted to toss Herdoctus out the window and had discovered the exact nature of Gabrielleís feelings for the warrior. Fortunately because of the family confrontation, both the bard and warrior had been forced to admit to each other the depth of their feelings and had bonded immediately as mates.

Lila greeted her knock at the door and surprised the warrior by hugging her tightly. "Whoa, little one. Whatís wrong?"

"We were worried, the messenger said that he had reached you and when you didnít get here a couple of days ago we began to get worried." the teenager said, pulling the warrior into the living area of the house where Hecuba rose from her chair and hugged the warrior as well.

"Didnít Gabrielle tell you I was following behind?" Xena asked.

"Isnít she with you?" Hecuba whispered.

"What? She left me two days ago." Lila grabbed Xena and pulled her over to a chair, noticing the stunned look on the warriorís face and the heavy limp.

"Sheís not here and weíve had no word." Hecuba said softly, looking to the warrior for answers.

"She said she was going to stop and see her uncle and then come here for the funeral." Xena told the two women. She stood up quickly and winced at the pain in the leg. "Where does your brother live?"

"Two villages over to the east. His name is Harpalion and heís the baker. Hurry, please."

"Donít worry, Iíll find her." Xena promised, heading out the door.

Lila followed her out. "Let me come with you." she pleaded.

"No, your mother needs you here and Iíll travel faster alone." Xena quickly mounted her horse and leaned down and touched Lilaís hair. "Iíll find her." she promised again and urged Argo off at a gallop.

***

"Where does Harpalion live?" Xena asked in the tavern later that night. She was dusty from the road and her voice was stern and short.

"Iím Harpalion, you must be Xena." a voice said next to her. The warrior turned and found a middle aged man standing at the bar. She could see the family resemblance between him and his sister.

"Yes, is Gabrielle with you?"

"No, please come to my house, I think I might have something for you."

Once inside his simple but well kept house he sent his wife to bed and came back from their bedroom with Gabrielleís broken staff in his hands. Xenaís heart sank as she took the pieces in her hands.

"What? How?"

"My wife and I were away to her family for a wedding. When we returned I found this note," he handed the warrior a parchment.

"Dearest Uncle Harpalion, sorry to come in while you were gone. Mother told me about the parchment you had for me if something ever happened to my father or mother. I donít know if you heard about my fatherís accident but he has died and I came to retrieve the parchment. I will come back and get it after the funeral, I am going home now. Love, Gabrielle."

"I found the staff just outside the doorway, thatís what is puzzling me. The staff and this," he handed the warrior a necklace of beads, bones and feathers." He frowned. "Thatís Amazon, isnít it?"

"Yes, it is. She never made it to Poteida. Somethingís wrong and sheís telling me she heading for safety with the Amazons."

"Find her please, warrior."

"My word on it, Harpalion." Xena pledged as she slipped the necklace over her neck.

"Here, take this with you, I know sheíd trust you with it." he said, handing her a small pouch. "Inside is that parchment and a bottle of something that her mother left with me."

"Thank you." Xena frowned at the pain when she mounted Argo again. She looked down and saw the bandage on her thigh was bloody. She cursed under her breath and urged the horse down the road.

Xena was more than a little worried. It had to be something very serious for the Bard to be fleeing to the Amazon nation and to miss her fatherís funeral. Especially serious for the bard to put off finding out the answers to a mystery. Xena smiled to herself, Gabrielle seemed to be born with an innate curiosity that could drive Xena crazy upon occasion. Keeping secrets from Gabrielle was almost impossible, especially when she got her teeth into a mystery.

***

In the next village Xena finally got some partial answers from an old friend.

"Xena?" the older man hobbled out from behind the tavern bar on crutches to shake the warriorís arm. "I donít believe it! How are you? What brings you here?"

"How are you Timicus?" she asked, letting herself be led to the bar.

"Better than you, I think." he commented, looking her up and down. Xena merely shrugged. "Orithya, bring my guest food and port!" he called to the barmaid.

"I donít have time, Tim."

"Yes, you do. When was the last time you ate?" he demanded, pulling a chair up to a table for her. "And when was the last time someone changed that bandage. "Orithya, the healing supplies too! And clean water!" he shouted.

"I really donít have time, I need information if you have it."

"Then youíll have it while I change that bandage and you eat." the barmaid completed the delivery of all the items her boss wanted with several trips and then helped Timicus in changing the bandages. He whistled when he saw the wound. With a shake of the head he poured healing herbs on it and followed that with salve. Xena hissed as he rebandaged the leg while Orithya bandaged the arm.

"That wound is not looking good, warlord."

"Iím not your warlord anymore, Tim. Iím not anyoneís warlord." Xena said between bites.

"I know, thank the gods." Tim grinned. "I couldnít afford to lose another leg."

"Tim, Iím sorry about that....."

He held up a hand and laughed. "Enough! Weíve been through this. Losing that leg was the best thing to ever happen. Got me out of your army and soldiering and into this bar. Iím married, got four kids, money set aside, good employees and Iím happy. How about you? I hear youíve changed."

"Yes. Tim, I donít have time, I promise Iíll be back and weíll catch up."

"All right, finish eating and tell between mouthfuls what brings you here." he sat back in his chair after whispering to his barmaid.

"Have you seen a bard traveling through, probably in a hurry. Sheís small, reddish blond hair, small but wiry build."

"Yes, named Gabrielle."

"Yes! Youíve seen her?"

"Yes, two days ago. She came in here and offered to trade her horse for a fresh one. I wasnít going to trade but she asked if I trusted your word. I told I trusted you with my life and she said youíd pay any difference between the animals and that youíd probably be following. I asked her what devil was after her. I mean, Xena, she was scared. Her hair was messed up and she was dusty from the road and she drank two goblets of water real quick like. She told me to tell you that someone is after her and sheís heading for the Amazons. I made her grab some food and she was off immediately."

Xena was nearly frantic but Timicus held up his hand to stop her. "Finish your food. It wonít do her any good if you fall out of your saddle."

The barmaid came back with a pair of saddle bags and handed them to Xena. "Filled with travel food, my friend." Tim answered her questioning eyebrows.

"You were always a good man, Tim." Xena stood and winced at the pain and wiped her forehead with the back of her hand. Tim looked concerned and reached forward slowly to feel her forehead as well.

"You're burning up, my friend." he scolded.

"I've got to go, Tim."

"You need rest, you're friend is either safe or dead by now."

"She's not dead, I'd know that. I've got to get to her as soon as I can." Xena threw the saddlebags over her shoulder.

"Is it true then, warrior?" Tim smiled and Xena hesitated at the door.

"Is what true, friend?"

"That the mighty Conqueror was conquered?" he grinned and then laughed when Xena began blushing. "Go and come back this way, I want time to meet her."

With a sheepish grin the warrior was back on the road.

***

The closer Xena got to Amazon territory the better she felt about Gabrielle. She hadnít found the bard yet and hopefully that meant she had out rode whoever was after her and Xena was confident in the ability of the Amazonís to protect their Queen.

With her arm wounded the warrior wasnít as fast as normal and it cost her. Xena found herself coughing in the dust of the road, wincing in pain from the arrow sticking through her shoulder and from landing hard. With a growl she rolled off the road and drew her sword as she regained her feet. She was limping heavily and the pain was trying to cloud her eyes. The warrior barely even caught a glimpse of the butt end of a crossbow before it hit her.

***

"This is not my week," the warrior muttered to herself as consciousness began screaming at her. Once again, her trained mind took over and assessed herself and her surroundings. She muttered another curse. The warrior was blindfolded and that always presented extra problems when you didnít know where you were and you werenít ever sure when you were being watched.

Xena took several deep breaths and extended her senses. She felt manacles on her wrists attached to chains, arms outspread, holding her body weight up. She stood up to relieve the stress on her arms and wrists, especially the wounded shoulder which was feeling like a hot poker was being prodded into the wound right then. Bird and other animal noises reached her as well as the scent of forest. She hadnít been taken far then, she thought. No sunlight but it was still warm, not night time yet, that meant she hadnít been unconscious long.

Personal assessment: head hurt like Tartarus, thanks. The leg was throbbing and felt swollen and that was not good. The wrists hurt, of course, but the major pain was the shoulder wound. Xena moved slightly and it felt like the arrow had been removed but the shoulder wasnít bandaged.

All in total, the former Warlord summed up: not good. Manacles would be extremely difficult to get out of, especially blindfolded. Not bandaging the warriors wounds probably meant her attacker didnít mean to keep her around. Kidnappers usually wanted their captives healthy until they got their money. She didnít think this one wanted ransom.

"I know youíre there." Xena said simply. "What do you want?"

Further movement told the warrior that her armor had been removed and so had the dagger between her breasts. Damn!

"Your death," a male voice answered, in a simple conversational tone.

"Terrific, stand in line."

The male laughed and Xena felt him approach in front of her. Then Xena's head was rocked back and she could taste blood in her mouth and felt it flowing from her nose from the punch she had just received. 'I hate being blindfolded,' she thought to herself again.

"I think I moved to the front when I caught you. Although your wounds probably helped slow you down." Xena did scream this time when she felt fingers jammed into her leg wound and quickly bit her lip.

"That's better," the voice approved of the sound.

"Who are you and what do you want?" Xena demanded. It was hard standing on one leg for any length of time but it hurt too much to put weight on the other leg. She didnít want to drop and let her wrists and arms take the weight of her body either, that would set the shoulder bleeding, not to mention the pain. This was not a good situation, she decided again.

"I told you what I want, your death."

"What for? Who are you?"

"I am Menestratus, brother of Perdicus."

"Why in all the hells of Tartarus would you be stalking Gabrielle, your sister-in-law?" the warrior demanded and was surprised when her head rocked back and forth from the force of the blow from Menestratusí fist connecting with her jaw. The warrior knew if she could see it would be only stars for the moment. She shook her head and moved her jaw around, testing itís movement. She spit blood at where she had last heard his voice.

"She is no sister of mine!" he hissed, this time in her ear. She hadnít heard him move while she was still reeling from the blow. He was now behind her. Xena felt the familiar sensation of a blade at her throat. She hadnít been on the receiving end of that kind of threat often but she knew how a blade felt.

"Because of both of you my brother is dead."

"Gabrielle loved Perdicus."

"And now she loves you. The only good thing in my life is dead. She talked him into giving up his sword and your creation, Callisto, killed him. Gabrielle took something away from me and now I'm going to take something away from her." While ranting Menestratus left a small and shallow wound along the warrior's throat, just enough to sting and draw blood.

"This isn't going to bring Perdicus back and it won't help you. Listen to yourself, you've become just like Callisto, the one who murdered your brother in cold blood." Xena said calmly.

The warrior gritted her teeth as she took several punches to the small of her back. The blows managed to knock her leg out from under her and the full weight of her body was snapped up by her wrists, arms and shoulders. As lightning hot pain shot through her body from her shoulder the darkness claimed the warrior again.

***

"Are you awake yet?"

"Fuck you." Xena mumbled. Again a slap to the face.

"That wasn't a nice thing to say."

Menestratus seemed to be waiting for the warrior to say something else but she refused.

"That little bitch managed to get into Amazon territory before I caught up with her so I've sent word that I have you and for her to come alone. Good thing for me those Amazons don't like to leave their territory and they won't trouble about a lowly bard. I don't know how long those she-demons would grant her sanctuary but I'm not waiting. When she gets here she'll find you hanging here like a slab of meat." he informed her.

"You're not going to ambush her?"

"No, I want her to live with what I've lived with. She can try and sleep nights with the image of you like this."

For the first time in days Xena felt the beginnings of hope, Menestratus didn't know about Gabrielle being the Queen of the Amazons. For her they would go to the end of the earth and for her champion, Xena. They would also protect Gabrielle if they didn't arrive in time to get Xena out of the mess.

"This is not what Perdicus would want."

"That's the ironic part of this." a voice insisted. "We are so much alike, warlord. I'm a mercenary, a bandit at times. Perdicus was like light itself to me, always trying to get me to change. All he wanted was to help people and couldn't understand why I rode with warlords like you."

"Strats?" Xena whispered. "I know your voice."

"Damn you," the voice sounded tired.

"You rode with me," Xena felt sick to her stomach. She did remember him, a good soldier and an even better bandit. "You were at Cirra."

The impact of the situation made Xena's head reel.

"Yeah, I was there."

Xena's sharp ears picked up a bird call that was followed by an answering one. She turned her attention back to the man she had known as Strats.

"Damnit! You're as much responsible for Perdicus' death as I am!" she snapped. "You were there, you helped slaughter Callisto's family and turned her into the monster who murdered your brother. You can't blame Gabrielle for this."

"I realize that, warlord. That's why after Gabrielle finds your body I'll fall on my sword and accept my guilt."

"It doesn't have to be like this!" Xena protested. "We both made mistakes and people have paid for it. Don't make Gabrielle suffer for our actions."

"It's too late for me, warlord and now for you."

Xena had the feeling he was about to strike when she heard the sounds of arrows through the air and a slight grunt followed by something hitting the ground. Then bird calls and animal sounds filled the area.

"Xena!"

It was the sweetest sound that the warrior had ever heard. "Gabrielle!"

She felt the bard's hands on her face and then the tender lips she had missed more than life itself. As other hands began supporting her weight and working at the manacles Xena let herself slip away, feeling safe in the arms of her bard and in the company of the Amazons.

"I love you, little one." The warrior muttered as darkness claimed her.

Continue to Part 2

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