Death's Shadow

by Marion D Tuttle


Here we go with the legal stuff These characters are not mine. They are
owned by Universal Studios I just borrowed them for a little while.

This story depicts a loving relationship between two women and the deep
level of commitment they share. There is some violence, but no more than
you'd see on the six O'clock news. If you find this disturbing or offensive
I'd like too apologize...I'd like too, but I won't cause hey thats life.
Hope you like it.

"She can't die Ephany, What I'm I going to do this is all my fault!"
"Gabrielle this is not your fault, Xena would have been injured whether
you were there or not."
The bard felt the guilt twist in her gut, she knew her friend and
co-ruler of the Amazon nation was just trying to make her feel better. But
her deepest heart she knew that this was all because of her.
Xena had wanted to dispatch the attempted assassin when the first
attempt on Gabrielle's life had been made. Her heart had been in her throat
as she had snatched an arrow out of the air just before it had plunged into
her lover's chest. The would be killer had been wrestled to the ground by
the royal guard before she had a chance to get off a second shot.
The warrior had been ready to break her neck right then and there but
Gabrielle had interceded on the behalf of the woman that had just tried to
kill her.
"There is no way I'm going to let her live Gabrielle if she tried to
kill you once what's to stop her from trying it again?"
"Xena she's so young, beside that don't you think we should find out
why she was trying to kill me? What if she isn't working on her own? If
some one sent her shouldn't we know that?"
As much as she wanted to Xena could not argue against Gabrielle's
logic. Everything she said made perfect sense. "I'll right I admit you make
some good points but at least order her locked up, and heavily guarded
until we get to the bottom of this."

That night as they lay in their bed Xena held Gabrielle as if she were
afraid to let her go, when she thought of how close she had come to losing
this woman it shook her through her very sole. Xena couldn't get enough of
Gabrielle as they made love it was almost like she was trying to absorb the
bard into her own being.
Gabrielle sensed the urgency in Xena's touch, instinct told her That
her warrior needed this connection tonight and she gave her lover all she
needed, and then gave some more. If Gabrielle had known what was going to
happen the next morning she never would have let Xena out bed.

The prisoner had escaped and no one had been able to find her, when the
morning guard came to relive the night watch she found the guard lying in a
pool of her own blood her throat slit. An alarm was sounded but an
extensive search of the area yielded no results. Xena had been wild when
she heard the news, her one and only concern was protecting Gabrielle. She
wanted to get the bard out of there as quickly as possible. But her bard
had adamantly refused. "I am the Queen Xena I can't run away from this."
she tried to gentle her rebuff of Xena's suggestion "If it where you, you
wouldn't run."
"Gabrielle, I'm worried about you whoever is behind this is serious."
but even as she made the argument she knew she would lose. as they left
the Queens pavilion a knife sailed towards Gabrielle Xena had blocked that
with her own body. The blade had imbedded itself in the warrior's chest,
just missing her heart. There had been a lot of blood. More than Gabrielle
could ever remember having seen before. When Ephany had extracted the blade
she caught the faint scent of the poison that had coated the blade. She had
not regained conciseness scince. that was a week ago, and the attacks had
stopped as suddenly has they had begun, no one knew why.

The pale visage of her lover scared the very breath out of Gabrielle.
She had not left Xena's side scince her injury except to take carry of her
unavoidable needs, she had her meals bought to their hut as well as baths,
on the rare occasion she was had to leave to attend her own personal needs
she made sure someone was there to watch over the warrior.
A fever had set in and Xena babbled incoherently, sometimes Gabrielle
knew what the warrior was reliving in her delirium Other times Xena's
fevered ravings made no sense to her at all. She spent all her time
applying cold compresses to Xena's burning skin and trying to spoon broth
down her throat in an effort to get some nourishment into the warrior.
For the first few days she had gone non stop doing everything for Xena
but Ephany had finally convinced her that that she needed help. "You will
be useless to Xena if you collapse from exhaustion." She had finally
relented, but she still allowed no one else to take care of Xena's most
personal needs.

Ephany had gone to find her own lover, Epinon. "Im worried about
Gabrielle." the Regent told her. If she keeps this up we're going to lose
them both."
"What are you saying?"
"I think it's time we accepted it, Xena is going to die....the poison...
the amount of blood she's lost, there's just now way she can survive this."
Both women were startled to hear the door thrown open with such force
it almost came of the hinges. "How dare you even think that." Gabrielle was
standing in the doorway, fury clearly evident on her face. "How can you say
that Ephany?"
Trying to calm an over wrought bard Ephany placed a hand on Gabrielle's
"Listen Gabrielle we all know you love Xena, we love her too. She has been
wonderful friend to the Amazons, and everyone knows how strong Xena is but
even she can't survive this. I don't want to be cruel but the truth is she
as already lasted much longer then I thought possible. It's just a matter
of time."
Gabrielle was just about to tell Ephany in no uncertain terms that she
had no idea of the depth of the warrior princess' strength when a young
Amazon the bard didn't recognize cleared her throat to gain the three
woman's attention. "Queen Gabrielle I was sent to find you.....Xena's
The cry of "Noooo!" that was ripped from her throat sounded like that
of a wounded animal, as she collapsed onto the floor. Ephany was at her
side in a flash pulling her back "Gabrielle, wake up! you can't fall apart
now what would Xena want you to do?
"Oh Gods...Xena I can't believe it.. she can't be gone... take me to
her, I want to see her I need to say goodbye."
"Gabrielle, maybe you shouldn't.... not right now."
"I said I want to see her!"

; The young Amazon Queen knelt by the body of her lover She looked so
at peace as if she were only sleeping the tears ran openly down Gabrielle's
cheek's but she didn't care. her heart had just been shattered and there
was no way she would ever put it back together. "Xena how could you leave
me?" She was suddenly overcome with a sense of rage at the unfairness of it
all. She howled towards the sky "By the Gods!! why did you let this happen?
Artemis if your listening as you're chosen Queen I demand an explanation."
She was greeted by a flash of intense white light. "Gabrielle, calm
"Calm down! the woman I love is laying dead because she tried to protect
me and you the Patron Goddess of the Amazons, you who is supposed to watch
overthis nation did nothing to prevent it and all you can say is calm
The Goddess did her best to keep her voice at an even level "If it were
anyone but you Gabrielle you would already be dead for being so impertinent
as to demand an explanation, much less launching into a verbal assault."
"Do you think I care? strike me down if you want, I have nothing left
live for."
Artemis could see the pain her Amazon Queen was in it was almost a
living form unto itself it was so strong.
"Gabrielle I am here to help you may not believe that right now, but if
you will listen for a moment I will tell you you I can help you and Xena."
"How can you help Xena she's dead!"
"Not nesacarrily"
Walking over to where the warrior's body lay on the bed and placed her
hand over the closed eyes and whispered "Come back Xena, you still have
work to do."
Gabrielle's legs threatened to give way under her when Xena sat up and
opened her eyes. She threw herself at Xena and kissed her uncaring that
Artimis was standing right behind them "Xena I can't believe it!" she said
between kisses.
"If I had known I would get this knd of greeting when I woke up I would
have started taking naps long ago."
"Naps Xena you died you were out of it for a week....the knife.."
Artemis touched Gabrielle's shoulder "Look under the bandage
The bard lifted the dressing from Xena's chest, there was no wound."
But how?"
Xena was growing more confused with every passing moment "What is going
on here?"
"Now will you give me a chance to explain?" Artemis asked

Both warrior and bard sat listening to the unbelievable tale being
spun out by the Moon Goddess. She told them of an ill fated plan to remove
Gabrielle from power and bring the entire Amazon nation including the
warrior princess under the control of her brother Ares. The God of War had
recruited one of the most ruthless warriors that he had ever seen. his plan
was to kill Gabrielle thereby crushing Xena's spirit and leaving the
village vulnerable in their grief for an attack.
"Why I'm I not surprised to find that Ares had a hand in this." Xena
dryly remarked
"But if I was the target, why did the attacks stop after Xena was
"Ares little helper had plans of her own, that's wher the confusion
comes in now one on Olympus knows who it is or what her agenda was other
than she wanted Xena dead."
Gabrielle felt she had to ask "Where is Ares now?"
Artemis answered "When Zeus found out what Ares had done he was
furious." Artemis turned to Xena "You still have a lot left in this world
to do before you leave it."
Misunderstanding what the Goddess was referring to Xena lowered her eyes
"I know.... my past..."
"Has nothing to do with it Xena you have more than made up for the
crimes you committed as a warlord I am talking about the good you are doing
now this world needs you Xena."
Gabrielle couldn't control the anger that was starting to course
through her blood "Then why did you let it go this far? Why did you let her
suffer like that?"
"As you can see Gabrielle Xena is feeling no ill effects its as if it
never happened there is no wound, no pain."
"But why did you wait so long?"
"If I had bought Xena back too soon the assassin would have finished
the job and at that point there would have been no saving her."
Xena who had remained relatively quite through out this whole exchange
felt the need to speak up. "There still seems too be some big peices
missing in the picture here, for starters why was no one able to track this
would be assassin?"
Artemis looked disgusted as she gave this explanation "Thats a good
question we think Ares as help from some one that is not a mortal." The
Moon Goddes continued Ares thought if he could bring Gabrielle down he
would be able to seduce you back to his side. Whathe didn't count on is his
crony deciding to kill Xena instead." This boughta gasp of surprise from
both women.
"So that was no accident."
"No the only accident was that it didn't hit your heart and kill you
immediately, but make no mistake, you were the intended victem.That is why
everyone even the Amazons must continue to believe, at least for a little
while that Xena is dead. Xena will come with me now, and you Gabrielle will
stay here to play the grieving lover."
Artemis sensed Gabrielle objection before she got a cance to voice it "I
know you hate being left behind, and under normal conditions I would agree
with you. However it is essential that everyone still believe that Xena is
until we get to the bottom of this because if the assign get's to her
again I will not be able to bring her back, this was a one time deal with
Hades and he's not likely to repeat it."
Xena thought about what the Goddess was saying it made sense but there
was still one little detail that bothered her "Don't you think that people
will get suspicious when they come in here and find no body?"
"Look behind you."
Laying on the bed was a lifeless body that if Gabrielle didn't know
better she would swear was Xena.
"But how?"
Artemis rubbed her fingers together despite the gravity of the situation
they were in she couldn't resist a small bit of humor. "Gabrielle, your
warrior princess isn't the only one that possesses many skills." she got up
from her seat "We don't have much time if we're going to pull this off we
need to move quickly. Zeus has banished Ares to Tartarus for is
interference but he won't stay there for long and once he's out all bets
are off." She turned to Xena "We have to leave now Xena it won't be long
before Ephany comes to get Gabrielle and to prepare your body for the
Xena cast one last look over her sholder at 'her body' "Seems kind of
creepy to see yourself laying dead." she observed. She tenderly reached out
and drew Gabrielle into her embrace, their lips met, holding the promise of
things to come when the got out of this. "I love you Gabrielle, stay safe
I'll be back as soon as I can."
"I love you too Xena, find this killer and come home to me soon."
Watching the exchange Artemis felt a small lump in her throat, rarely
had she ever been in the precense of a love this deep. Gently placing her
hand on Xena's shoulder she pulled the two lovers apart "I hate too rush
such a tender moment, but we really do have to go before some one comes

Gabrielle had watched while the Goddess had taken Xena by the hand and
they had both disappeared, a mix of emotions ran through her, relief that
Xena was back, fear that she wouldn't be able to be convincing enough to
pull this off and cold dread that they wouldn't find out the identity of
the assassin.
When Ephany entered the hut she was met with the sight of Gabrielle bent
over Xena's body her shoulders shaking from deep sobs. As gently as she
could she pulled Gabrielle away "Gabrielle come on it's time to start the
ceremony we must proceed with Xena's funeral. You have to let her go now."
"No Ephany I will never let her go!"
Ephany hoped that this was just a reaction to the grief and that with
time Gabrielle would come back to herself. She had heard stories of people
losing their hold on reality and never regaining it after the loss of a
love. And Ephany had to admit she had never seen two people that loved each
other as deeply as and Gabrielle had. "I know Gabrielle part of her will
always remain with you."
The bard had to bite her lip to keep from telling Ephany the truth but
she remembered what the Goddess had said, no one could know Xena was still
alive. She knew she had to play her part. "Your right, of course Ephany
it's just so hard to imagine my life with out Xena..."
"We will find who is responsible for this Gabrielle, we will avenge
Xena's death."

Artemiss and Xena sat plotting how they were going to find this assassin
the warrior princess was used to being in the thick of things and did not
like the feeling of helplessness that was growing by leaps and bounds.
me again how I'm supposed to bring this person out in the open when I can't
even show me face."
"Did I say you weren't going to show your face?"
"But I'm supposed to be dead....we know now that it's been an inside
"Which is why it is so important for everyone to believe your dead."
Xena felt her frustration growing she was in danger of completely
it . "Alright Artemis lets quit talking around in circles Everyone thinks
I'm dead, I can't be seen. but I'm supposed to go back to the Amazon
village to flush out my would be killer....What I'm I missing here?"
"Why Xena, your going to haunt them."

The full moon cast a warm glow over the village, the funeral fire that
had committed Xena's body to flames was just a small pile of glowing
embers. Gabrielle had gone to her hut after the funeral dismissing the
guard at the door with strict instructions that she was not to be
disturbed. Ephany had tried to talk her into staying with her and Eponin
"You shouldn't be alone tonight Gabrielle. Why not stay with us for a few
"No, thanks Ephany I need to be alone to collect my thoughts I have a
lot of Memories of Xena I want to go through." the truth was she just had
no more strength to keep up the facade. To add a reassurance to her friend
"If I need anything I'll send for you."
"Alright, but please take care I'll be by in the morning." The Regent
headed for her own home still worried about her friend and Queen she seemed
to be detached , in a deep sense of shock. She determined to keep a close
eye on Gabrielle.

Gabrielle laid on her bed she felt a deep longing she needed to have
Xena hold her, she needed to touch her the waiting was torture the past few
days had seen her happy life with Xena turned inside out. When she first
heard it whispered on a breeze she thought she was just dreaming of hearing
Xena call her name "Gabrielle..."
and then a little stronger "Gabrielle" She looked up to see her warrior
standing in the shadows of their bedroom. "Xena!!!" she flew into her arms.
"Sssshhh love we have to be careful, I can't stay here. its too
"Xena I need to ..."
"I know love I need to be with you too meet me by the water fall and
giving her a soft sweet kiss she was gone as quickly as she had come.
Gabrielle gathered her quaking emotions together to head for the water
fall. She took Argo to get there faster the young woman at the stables
raised a brow in question. it was a well known fact that the Queen was not
overly fond of riding. "I thought I'd feel closer to Xena if I took Argo
out for a ride." she said "Besides I can't let her get fat and lazy."
"Queen Gabrielle it's dark at least let me get an escort for you."
"No I want to be alone." and with that she nudged Argo forward. She
headed in the opposite direction of where she wanted to be, once she was
out of sight of the village she doubled back to where she knew Xena would
be waiting.

Arriving at the clearing she was really not surpassed to see a full
campsite set up a welcoming fire already built. Leave it to Xena to see to
all the little details. She looked around to find Xena standing by the
stream. "Xena!"
They came together in a bone jarring embrace, their lovemaking was
normally a gentle long drawn out affair but tonight there was an urgency
neither woman had ever experienced before, even their first time. They
kissed each other fiercely felling like they were being engulfed in flames.
Xena swept Gabrielle's legs out from under her and carried her to their bed
roll "I need you so much Gabrielle."
"Hold me Xena ..please take me I need you just as much."
Xena lowered them both to the ground holding the bard as if her life
depended on it. Her lips found their way to the top of Gabrielle's breasts
her fingers worked to unlace her lovers shirt,her tongue moving lower on
the exposed flesh. "I love you Gabrielle
I can't take being away from you."
"Xena don't talk about that right now.... just love me please."
"I want nothing more.." The warrior moved her hands down her lovers body
to unwrap the skirt from her hips her hand cupping a very wet mound "Gods
woman your hot."
"Only for you my warrior love."
Xena knew that Gabrielle was close she could already feel the first
stirrings in the tight muscles as she plunged her fingers in and out of
receptive flesh. "Bend your leg for me Gabrielle."
Xena stadeled her lovers thight bringing her wetness in contact with
the bards firm leg she worked her hips in a frenzy feeling her own climax
approach she leaned done and whispered in the bards ear "Let go for me
Gabrielle.... come with me...now1"
"Yeees Xeenaaa.."
The collapsed into each other's arms spent but happy. "We can't stay
here. as much as I might like to it's not safe."
Gabrielle puled herself closer to Xena "I want to stay with you."
"I know I don't want to leave you either but I won't put you in
jeopardy" She kissed her lightly on the top of her head "When this is over
love I promise you we will never be apart again." They kissed again and
than Xena pushed her head gently down onto her shoulder. "Just let me hold
you for a little while before you have to head back." Both women laid in
each others arms sach praying in their own way for an end to this madness
There tender embraces and wild passion had not gone unobserved however
the shadowy figure stood in the trees, the proof was right there but it was
still hard to believe the warrior bitch was alive!

She made her way back to the village leaving Xena had been difficult but
she knew it was nessacary but that didn't make it hurt any less. Her hut
was cast in shadow when she entered, she felt the presence of someone in
the room she wielded her staff to met the intruder. "Ephany? why are you
lurking in my hut?"
" Why didn't you tell me?"
Gabrielle had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. "Tell you
"That Xena's not dead."
For some reason the bard had a prickling sense of danger "What are you
talking about Ephany. You were at the funeral, you saw Xena's body on the
funeral pyre yourself."
"I also saw her with you last night You were acting strangely so when
you left the village I followed you I saw for myself that the warrior
princess is very much alive, but she wont be for long!"

Xena heard a scratching noise coming from the cavern she had been on the
way back from the clearing where she had just spent most of the night
making love to her bard Her initial plan had been to go and make a few
ghostly appearances to try and gather some information. But she had needed
to see Gabrielle, she had intended it to be just a brief visit a few quick
kisses and then leave. But the second her lips had touched Gabrielle's all
thoughts of haunting were gone on the wind.
Pulling her mind back to the sounds she was hearing she moved along the
cavern wall the light was dim, but she could make out the form of someone
struggling against bonds. She moved closer to the bound woman reaching to
remove the gag, her face registered shock when she looked into the captive
woman's eyes "Ephany!"
"Xena we have to get to Gabreille, it's Callisto."

Gabrielle looked at the woman who had been her Co-Ruler, her friend and
Xena's friend "What is this about Ephany? Why are you doing this?"
"This was almost to easy you are so trusting so ready to look for the
good in every one you still don't even see the truth do you?"
Suddenly the door burst open "Get away from her Callisto!" the blonde
imposter turned to see Xena and Ephany standing in the doorway "Xena
welcome my dear your just in time to see me take your little bard here to
the other side and than I'll finish the job I started with you, and this
time I'll make it stick."
Ephany threw a knife that pinned Callisto's shoulder to the wall "When
you decided to assume my identity you should have just killed me."
Xena grabbed the woman watching fasteneted while the face before her
turned back into that of her arch enemy. "When are you going to let this go
Callisto I have told you countless times I wasn't there when your village
was burned My men acted on their own. I am sorry for your pain and I don't
claim total innocence I was a brutal warlord but I never murdered women and
"What a pretty apology! too bad I don't believe a word of it." she
pulled the knife out of her shoulder "That fool Ares had his own plans when
he rescued me from the last pit you left me in Xena dear, but I always do
things my own way. I don't care about bringing down the Amazon nation or
your precious little Queen. Unless of course it gives you pain. But you my
dear are a different story." She lunged at Xena with her sword drawn.
Xena deflected the blows Callisto being a Goddess, evil as she was,
explained a lot. Like why she had been able to escape so easily from a
heavily guarded cell, and why she had been able to move about the village
undetected. With the ability to change her outward appearance who knew what
information she'd had access to. It was all starting to make sense now, the
problem was this, Callisto being a God there was no way Xena could kill
Xena fought like a woman possessed, she no she had to find a way to stop
Callisto she was terrified of what the mad woman might do to Gabrielle just
to hurt her. she knew she only had one hope.... Artemis. The warrior
princess did something that she very rarely had done in any of her battles
she called for help "Goddess Artemis help me in this battle..."

The room was suddenly filled with an intense light The Moon Goddess
stood before the women in the hut "Callisto you have gone too far this
time, not only have you caused general mayhem in my Amazon nation, enough
reason alone for me to take action against you but you have attempted to
take the life of not only one of my favored warriors but My Chosen Queen
that is unforgivable.
"Artemis you forget I am a Goddess too, I am your equal you can't hurt
"No your right about that but I can imprison you." she removed a large
blue stone from beneath her tunic, this stone holds the power of Zeus
himself and is judgement is that you will remain locked within the stone
through the end of time a blinding flash filled the room. when their vision
returned to normal Artemis stood holding the now blackened stone in her
hands and Callisto was gone.
"Guard this stone well Gabrielle make sure no one touches it with an
evil heart because that is the one thing that could free Callisto."
"Why not keep it on Olympus here no mortal can touch it?"
"Unfortunately Zeus would not allow that because of the evil essence
within." One more shower of light and the Goddess was gone.

Handing the stone to her Regent Gabrielle asked "Please find a place
for this where no one will ever see or touch it."
"Gladly." Relief flowing through her she turned to the warrior "I
didn't get the cance to tell you this before, but it's good to have you
back Xena."
"It's good to be back Ep."
Backing towards the door Ephany asked "Is there anything I can get for
you two?"
Xena pulled Gabrielle into her arms "I have all I'll ever need or want
right here."
"Me too."
Ephany just shook her head and chuckled "Why I'm I not surprised."


Ephany had called a meeting to relay the whole story to the members of
the village it served two purposes. It would give Xena and Gabrielle
privacy because many of the Amazons had made plans to conveniently 'drop
in' on the Queen to make sure she was okay.
Secondly she didn't need Amazons droping like flies from shock when the
warrior princess emerged from their hut in the morning. The news was meet
with a resounding cheer and a celebration was planned to welcome Xena back
from the other side.
Inside the Queen and warriors home the were holding there own private
celebration that would go on long into the night.

The End

This was a little bit of a different direction for me to go in I would
appreciate any comments hope you liked it

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