A Past Remembered

by Anita Louise


This takes place after The Return.

You will find out what Xena and Gabrielle have been doing since they found their way back to one another. A Past that has been hidden for so long finds its way into the present.

Hurt/Comfort Warning Disclaimer:

This story may be best classified as a Hurt/Comfort Story involving the characters of Xena Warrior Princess. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of issue may wish to read something other than this story.

Love/Sex/ Disclaimer This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read
something other than this story.

It follows the television series in the respect of violence, subtext, the closeness the two women share.

The television series: Xena Warrior Princess belongs to MCA/Universal... This is merely one fan's story about the travels of our beloved couple.

Chapter One

The horse had been traveling the twisting mountain trail for sometime when
the rider felt a warm whisper in her left ear, "I don't know about you, but
I need to rest. My legs hurt and I might add other places."

Xena smiled as she reined the palomino to a stop. She answered, "How about

Gabrielle slid off and stared up at her friend who was trying to hold back a
grin. "Xena, what's so funny?" The bard now had both hands on her hips.

The woman's feet hit the ground before Gabrielle could get out the last of
her words. Xena answered, "Nothing, It's another beautiful day." She rested
her left hand on Gabrielle's right shoulder as she said, "I owe it all to

The bard smiled at her friend as she turned and walked over to a large, flat
rock and sat down. She leaned back on both hands as she stretched and said,
"I never thought I would see the day when you would actually take the time
to notice what day it was, much less beautiful." Xena had walked over to
where the bard sat. She dropped to her knees and handed Gabrielle the water
skin and said, "Here, drink up, from the looks of you I'd say we stopped
none too soon."

Gabrielle took the water skin and took several sips. She said, "Here, I
don't want to drink it all."

Xena pushed it back and replied, "I've had some."

The bard raised it to her mouth letting the liquid flow. When she was
satisfied she handed it back to Xena and said, "How much longer do you think
it will take?"

Xena had sat down on the ground. Laying her right leg over her left she
said, "We should be getting there by tomorrow. I hope Argo remembers me."

Gabrielle took in a deep breath of air as she said, "In case you haven't
noticed it's kind of hard to forget you." The warrior had scooted back and
was resting against the rock that Gabrielle was laying on. She had let her
head fall back against the stone. Suddenly she could feel just how tired she
was and she closed her eyes.

Xena's mind drifted back to the day she and Gabrielle had been reunited.
Words could not have expressed the joy she had felt on that day. Xena knew
better than to try to figure out what had happened or why. She only knew
that they had been given another chance and that she would be more careful
the next time. She smiled as her mind brought forth the picture of
Gabrielle's face when she had entered the cave. The bard had been telling
her that most caves all looked alike, they were dark and musty and had
creepy things in them.

Gabrielle's face had lit up at the beauty of the interior. The bard had
danced around gazing at the beautiful hanging formations and said, "It's
amazing, if it all looks like this, then we are home."

Xena had smiled as she replied, "Oh, it does. I think you will fully enjoy
the rest of it."

Gabrielle had walked over to help Xena take their things off the horse as
she said, "With your strong arms and my ideas, I believe we can spruce this
up in no time."

Xena had marveled at the bards homey touches. She had immediately set about
making the large room livable. The warrior had never cared for such things,
to her if it was there, it was all right. Xena had gathered wood to start a
fire and she had asked Gabrielle if they had anything to eat. The bard had
answered, "I can make us a good pot of stew. There is plenty of water and we
have the ingredients."

Xena felt a strange wave pass over her as she said, "Stew sounds good." She
always thought it was odd, she had such good recollection of their trip to
the cave but the bard had no memory of it.

She had relished the time they spent in their new home and in the bard's
enthusiasm for it. She had never taken the time to think that maybe
Gabrielle missed a home, a connection to something she could always have to
go back to. The time seemed to pass so quickly for the two of them as they
worked and turned the cave into living quarters. Time spent cutting logs,
weaving springs for the two cots she had managed to put together and the
little things the bard wanted to have put up. During this time, Xena and
Gabrielle also found the opportunity to frolic and enjoy their time while
working together. The warrior never told the bard of the other secrets of
the cave she let her discover that herself.

The dozing warrior uttered a low laugh. As the bard glanced down at her, she
shook her head and said, "Xena is probably having another of those dreams.
This time I won't wake her up, not yet anyway."

The bard was ecstatic when she discovered the warm water in the cave and
couldn't wait to test it out. They shared many special moments in that spot.
Gabrielle was so happy and elated that Xena felt she too would burst at
times. The warrior had found that she also had become excited. Not in
battle, but in the tranquil, joyous life they were now leading. There was no
way to tell how long they had been in the cave, except for a few side trips
to a neighboring village to get supplies. They hadn't spoken to anyone in

Gabrielle had removed a small piece of fiber from her skirt and was now
holding it above the warrior's head. The bard grinned impishly as she let it
dangle lower coming to rest on Xena's nose. She held back a snicker as
Xena's right hand hit out at it. Gabrielle imagined that Xena probably
thought it was a pesky flying thing. She did it several times each moment
pulling it back before the warriors hands hit it. The bard's face now red
because she had been holding back the laughter. It was as she went to tease
Xena once more that the woman's right hand shot up and caught her by
surprise and pulled Gabrielle off the rock onto the ground.

She landed with a thud and looked up to see Xena straddling her as the woman
said, "Very funny."

Gabrielle tried to move but the warrior had her pinned down and she knew she
wasn't going anywhere as Gabrielle said, "Can't you take a joke?"

Xena smiled as she said, "Definitely, but you do know that pay back is..."

The bard squirmed as she cried, "No, no Xena don't you do it."

Xena laughed as she raised her left hand and brought her fingers down on
Gabrielle. The bard knew that Xena knew where all her ticklish spots were
and she said, "I won't do it again, I promise." Xena smiled as she began to
tickle the woman in areas that were sending the bard into hysterical
laughter. Tears had began to run down her cheeks as the bard pleaded,
"Please, I can't take any more of this. Stop."

Xena reached out as she held Gabrielle's hands firmly against the ground and
said, "I can't hear you... What did you say?"

Gabrielle smiled up at the face that was now teasing her as she said, "I'm
sorry, I'll do anything just stop tickling me."

Xena rolled off as she said, "I have to admit, you certainly know how to get
a person's blood flowing. And I might add, out of a really good dream. I was
tired, now that I'm rested I think we should go. That is if you are able."

Gabrielle set up as she brushed dirt off her arms she said, "Oh yes, I'm
able and Xena?"

The warrior had gotten to her feet as she said, "Yeah." Gabrielle walked up
to her as she motioned with a finger. Xena knew the bard wanted to tell her
something. As she leaned down. Gabrielle whispered in her right ear,
"Remember, pay backs a..." The Warrior grabbed for the bard but Gabrielle
was already standing by the horse as she said, "We're ready." Xena smiled as
she vaulted into the saddle and reached out a hand to help Gabrielle up. She
said, "Lets call a truce at least until we get to the Amazon village."
Gabrielle had placed her hands around Xena's waist as she said, "Whatever
you say. But when you least expect it, I'll be there."

Xena grinned as she replied, "Wouldn't have it any other way." She pulled
her legs in on the horse as it began to trod along the trail.

As dusk began to settle in, they had reached the grassy meadow land and all
Gabrielle could see for miles was beautiful rolling hills and lots of flat
land. She said, "Thank the Gods we are off that path. I hoped we would be
before nightfall."

Xena pointed to the right and said, "Over there, I see a spot we can camp at
tonight." She turned the horse toward a crystal blue lake setting in front
of them. It had a beautiful water fall emptying into it. Gabrielle laughed
and said, "I still don't know how you do it, but you manage to find the best
camping sites. I can't wait to take a dip in that."

After the horse was taken care of and the camp had been set up Gabrielle
walked over to the woman and asked, "Don't you miss it? The sword?"

Xena answered, "After what happened to you I will never miss it."

Gabrielle replied, "If you remember, a good friend of mine had put down the
sword and was confronted by a group of thieves and he couldn't defend
himself and is now dead. Aren't you even afraid that this could happen to

Xena smiled as she said, "In that case I guess you would have to defend us
with your staff and me with my other skills." Gabrielle shook her head as
she walked over to the fire and removed a pot. She poured some of its
contents into two mugs, turned and walked back over to Xena. "Here, I think
this will just hit the spot." She handed one of the mugs to the woman and
sat down on the ground by her. Xena sipped the warm liquid and said, "Nice,
it seems to me you can make tea from almost anything that you set your mind

Xena was thinking about the bards words, 'Aren't you even afraid that this
could happen to us?' She knew Gabrielle was right. But, she had put her
sword down and vowed never to use it again, and she would honor that vow if
she could. If the time, were to ever come, when she would have to pick it up
again, she had no doubt she could use it. They had dined on a nice meal.
Later, after cleaning up the dishes and picking up odds and ends, the bard
walked down to the lake. She removed her clothes and walked into the water.
Xena watched the woman splashing in the water for several minutes before she
rose to her feet and went to join her.

Xena had taken a bar of soap from the saddle bag as she walked toward the
waters edge. The bard waved to her and called, "Feels great, hurry up." Xena
slowly removed her leathers. She had left her boots at the campsite.
Stepping into the cool water she shivered. As her body drifted into the
deeper water she could feel it relax and she swam over to the bard. "It's
cool enough to wake you and definitely restore all your senses. Here, I
brought the soap." She reached out and handed it to the bard. Gabrielle put
the leather tie around her left wrist as she said, "Lets swim over to that
inlet. It looks shallower and I'll wash your hair."

Xena nodded as she headed in the direction. As the moonlight descended upon
the water it cast a radiant light over the two women. Gabrielle was enjoying
soaping Xena's hair and as she was rinsing it off she couldn't resist
reaching up and pushing the woman's face under the water. Xena came up
spitting and tossing her head as she said, "Why did you do that?"

The bard smiled and said, "My hand slipped."

Xena brushed her hair back over the top of her head with her hands as she
said, "Turn around, it's my turn."

The bard said, "My hair is fine. It doesn't need washing."

Xena grinned as she began to soap up her hands, "Oh but I need to do it."
The two women frolicked in the water for a long period and when they had
tired they stepped out of the water and turned to glance back. The moon was
enormous now and was sending down beautiful light. It was illuminating, not
only the water, but the magnificent falls. Xena turned to Gabrielle and
said, "We had better get back to camp and dry off, and get a change of
clothes. After that I know I will sleep well tonight."

Gabrielle laughed and replied, "I've noticed Xena, you do seem to be
sleeping a lot better these days. Race you..." The bard was out of sight
before Xena even knew what was happening. And as she walked into the camp
site, her eyes caught Gabrielle standing by the fire holding out a towel to

Xena reached out and took it as she said, "You are always a great surprise
to me, I never know what you are going to do next."

The bard smiled as she handed Xena a clean shift and said, "And I am loving
every second of it." The sounds of a night bird could be heard as Xena,
turning onto her right side, bid the bard good night. Gabrielle sat across
from her and gazed at the peacefulness in the woman's breathing. She was
happy to see Xena more at ease with herself as well as others. She sighed,
"I do miss the Warrior though."

Gabrielle brought her knees to her chest as she leaned against them and
stared at the sleeping form of her friend.

Her mind began to wander back to the day Xena showed her the cave, their

It was everything Xena had said it was and then some. Although quite
beautiful, when she first laid eyes on it, the cave was a wonder to behold
now. The two of them had labored long, hard hours putting all of Gabrielle's
ideas to work.

She loved everything about it and she especially loved the warm water.
Gabrielle was extremely happy to have found the woman again. She could not
have asked the Gods why, she only knew she was grateful, they had found the
path back to one another. She had been so excited to see Xena again, that at
first she hadn't noticed how much the woman had changed. She had become very
gaunt looking and quite pale. Later they had discovered time to talk with
one another and find out what each had been up to. She cried as the warrior
told her of her remorse, her traveling, and not caring where she was going
or where she had been. Gabrielle wanted to make it all better for Xena.
Seeing the woman in so much misery, tore at her heart leaving it in pieces.

She could still see the expression on Xena's face when she had placed her
fingers on the spot where Callisto's blade had struck. The woman was shaking
as she traced the area and said, "There is nothing there. What happened, I
saw it?"

Gabrielle had grasped her hand and said, "I felt it, but there is nothing
there now Xena. Lets not dwell on the past, lets look to the present."

That is what they did and were now doing. Xena missed Argo and wanted to get
the horse back from Ephiny. Gabrielle knew now, she owed Xena's life to the
Amazon. The bard smiled as she whispered, "Thank you Ephiny, for caring for
Xena. I shall do something special for you."

Gabrielle was awakened by the smell of food cooking. Turning over, she
rubbed her eyes. She smiled as she saw Xena move something in a frying pan.
"Good morning," the bard's cheerful voice sang out.

Xena turned and replied, "I trust you had a good nights rest." Gabrielle got
to her feet as she walked over and stood by the warrior. Xena's face seemed
to be radiating in the morning glow of the sunlight. Gabrielle bent down and
whiffed the aroma of the food as she asked, "What did I do to deserve this?
You never cook."

Xena arched an eyebrow and said, "Are you complaining?"

The bard stretched out her arms and yawned as she said, "Oh no, I think it's
wonderful. It's just, you have said so many times that you don't cook. Your
mother told me she couldn't get you to even boil water."

Xena had divided the food on plates as she said, "Set down." Gabrielle
obliged as the woman set the plate in front of her and said, "It's my first
time. thought I would see what it felt like."

Gabrielle stared at the food as she asked, "What is it? Did you enjoy
cooking it?"

The warrior sat down by her and crossed her legs as she gazed at the burnt
food on her plate. "It's a surprise and feel lucky, I gave you the part I
didn't burn. This is a first and a last, I definitely do not like cooking.
You are so good at it." Gabrielle sampled a piece and chewed it carefully as
Xena watched her with a quizzical look. The bard could see that Xena was
waiting for her to tell her what she thought as she smiled and said, "Good,
the texture is remarkable. Want to tell me what it is?"

Xena smiled as she said, "No, glad you like it, I've been at this half the

Gabrielle did not have the heart to tell the woman that it was tough and the
taste was not what she had expected. She asked, "Did you make anything to
drink?" Xena set her plate down as she walked over by the campfire and
brought a mug back. "Here, it's tea." Gabrielle took the mug and immediately
began to swallow the liquid. Xena had been watching her and was now sure the
bard was only eating what was on her plate to please Xena. She had tried to
take a few tastes of the burnt food on her plate and couldn't stomach it as
she set the plate down

Xena reached out and grabbed Gabrielle's left hand as she said, "It's all
right Gabrielle, you don't have to eat it, I will understand. At least I can
boil water now."

Gabrielle's eyes beamed up at her and she said, "Well maybe you don't like
it but I love it and just knowing you cooked it for me is enough. I know we
have a long way to go today and I am hungry." Xena smiled as she took a sip
from a mug of tea.

The woman stood staring at the the water, it shined like glass as the suns
rays rested upon it. Xena approached her and reaching out her right arm
placed her hand on the bards left shoulder. Gabrielle looked up and said,
"Are you ready?"

Xena smiled and answered, "All packed, fires out. It is beautiful isn't it?"
The bard nodded as Xena said, "We'll have to come back sometime and you
definitely can do the cooking." Gabrielle laughed and turned as she walked
with Xena to the nickering horse.

They had passed a few travelers along the road, Gabrielle waved and visited
with each of them. Xena didn't stop, she had the horse keep up the pace she
had been setting for them. The woman knew that Gabrielle would catch up and
would never deny the bard the chance to visit. The bard's voice called out
to her, "Xena, wait up. I just heard the most amazing story."

Xena stopped the horse and as she dismounted she said, "None the likes of
yours I'm sure."

Gabrielle's face was full of delight and joy. As she began walking, Xena
said, "You certainly seem to be happy this morning. Couldn't have been the
breakfast." Gabrielle skipped a step as she caught up with the woman. "I've
always loved the mornings, everything is just waking up. There is always a
freshness in the air and a new day to greet."

Xena had glanced around as she said, "I believe if it was a dark, stormy day
you'd still find something to love about it." Gabrielle smiled as she
wrinkled up her nose at the woman and replied, "You know, it's all in the
eye of the beholder."

They had approached a coppice of trees, Xena had been listening to Gabrielle
tell her some of the stories she had recently learned. The two were laughing
when they found themselves surrounded by a band of ruffians. The men were
brandishing swords, as their leader stepped forward and said, "Good day to
you ladies. If you give us your valuables we won't do you any harm." The
others laughed. Xena reached out and pushed Gabrielle behind her as she
said, "Cover the back, I'll take care of the front."

The man grinned as he said, "Looks like we have hit pay dirt boys." His
sword was now within striking distance as he glared into Xena's icy blue

The woman didn't flinch a muscle as she coldly said, "Think better of it
boys. What we have we mean to keep and that goes for our lives. Turn around
and go about your business and we will be on our way." The man laughed,
lunging straight for her as Xena went down on one knee coming up with her
fists between his legs.

His sword hit the ground at the same time, he screamed in pain. She didn't
give him a chance to get his bearings back, as she jumped into the air
sending a mighty kick with her right leg across the side of his face.

Gabrielle had moved further back and was taking on each of the men that had
made it their duty to attack the woman. As they went down they all had the
same shocked look on their faces. One even stuttered, "You are so pretty,
you are a woman, how can you be so strong?"

Gabrielle held the end of her staff to his throat as she said, "Pretty
doesn't have a thing to do with it, It's all in the hands." She raised the
staff sending it along the side of his head, knocking him out. She turned to
glance in Xena's direction and could see the woman was handling the men as
if they were merely an inconvenience on an otherwise normal day.

Suddenly, Xena found herself confronting two more burly men who had stepped
out from behind the trees as one said, "Xena Warrior Princess, everyone
believes you are dead, and now you will be." Xena was focusing her eyes on
them, at the same time she felt a blow to the back of her head. The woman
staggered giving the first man the opportunity to strike out at her with his
fist. She felt the crunch as it made contact with her jaw and she jerked
back as his fist slammed into her stomach sending her to the ground.
Gabrielle heard the sound and turned to see what was happening. But, before
she could get to Xena she found herself confronted by several thugs that
were now bearing down on her. Xena lay staring up at the sky. She heard
Gabrielle's cry of warning and looked up to see the man's sword raised as he
brought it down toward her he cursed, "Die bitch!"

His sword was within inches of her body when she threw both hands up and
clasping it between her palms stopped the descent. Her right leg kicked up
knocking it from the man's hands, she was on her feet in seconds. The sounds
of her battle cry echoing as she leaped into the air, somersaulting over his
head. Before he knew what was happening she struck out with her left leg
hitting him solidly in the back, sending him face first onto the ground. She
heard the other man running up behind her, she quickly kneeled down and he
went flying over the top of her head landing with a thud beside his
accomplice. Xena struck out with her fingers sending them both into a very
peaceful sleep.

Gabrielle had bested the two that had ran for her and was now turning toward
the warrior as she said, "Looks like a good days work."

Xena answered, "Yeah, but we were lucky this time. They were stupid. What
would have happened if they had not accosted us like they did? What if they
had attacked from the trees?"

Gabrielle smiled and answered, "You would have thought of something. I have
no doubt. Who do you think they are?" The warrior had knelt down and checked
the pockets on several as she said, "Just a band of mercenaries, who thought
two women traveling alone were going to be easy pickings." Xena was now
standing and Gabrielle walked up to her and said, "Guess they don't know you
very well."

Xena smiled down at her friend and replied, "Nor by best friend. You are a
marvel to behold when you swing that staff."

The two turned, walking away from the bodies lying on the ground. Xena found
the horse and guided it toward Gabrielle as she said, "Come on up here with
me we have lost some time and this way we can make some of it up. They
traveled the rest of the way at a gallop and as they neared the Amazon
perimeter Xena said, "We can walk the rest of the way, it's not far."

As Gabrielle's feet touched the ground she said, "Thank the Gods, the horse
must be tired. As Xena dismounted she reached up and patted the horse and
said, "He's fine, if we walk the rest of the way he can rest and so can

Nearing the lookout, Xena cupped her hands around her mouth and let out an
Amazon cry. There wasn't any answer so she repeated it. Still no answer and
Gabrielle said, "Must not be anyone there."

Xena answered, "They always have a lookout. Something doesn't feel right. Be
alert, let's go the rest of the way very carefully." Entering the village
they could not see anyone and Gabrielle became apprehensive as she
whispered, "Where are they? I've never seen it like this." Xena motioned for
her to take one side and she would take the other. They set about trying to
find someone. As the two women later met in the middle of the village. Xena
looked worried and said, "Something has happened. I don't like the feeling I
am having. They would never willingly leave and not take their belongings
with them. Did you find anything?"

Gabrielle glanced around and answered, "No, not even an dog. Ephiny did
Ephiny did know we were coming didn't she?"

Xena replied, "Yeah, let's go check out the corral area." Walking from the
village to the wooded area, Xena spotted the form of a horse laying on the
ground as Gabrielle uttered, "Xena, it's a palomino!"

The warriors heart skipped a beat, her breath seemed to be catching in her
throat as she ran toward the motionless animal calling, "Argo! Argo girl..."
Leaping over the fence she landed by the animal. Xena kneeled down and
reached out to touch it's face. The animal was dead.

Gabrielle ran up behind her and asked, "Is it..."

Xena stood up and said, "No." She held up an arrow and said, "This is what
killed it. We now know they were attacked. Now we have to find out what has
happened to them.


Chapter Two

Gabrielle stared at Xena, her face now filled with alarm. Reaching out her
left hand, she placed it on the warrior's left shoulder and asked, "Xena,
what do you think happened to them?"

Xena snapped the arrow into as she said, "I don't know, but we have to find
out and the sooner the better. Let's make it up to the caves and see if
anyone made it up there to safety."

Gabrielle turned to look at the horse and Xena said, "Unless you are feeling
extra strong today, leave it. If it is there when we return then I'll take
care of it. For now, we need to find out what has happened." Gabrielle ran
to catch up with the woman who was already heading up the mountain path. The
bard marveled at Xena's long legs and the way she could cover such great
distance in a matter of seconds. She said to herself, "I'm getting better,
one day I may actually walk beside you."

Xena's low voice barked down at her, "Hurry up, we need to get to the top
before nightfall."

Gabrielle shook her head as she answered, "I'm right behind you but you
could slow up a little." She had not been looking where she was going and
suddenly found herself running into Xena. The warrior was standing still,
looking down at her grinning. Gabrielle stammered, "You need to get a sign
or something that tells a person about your quick stops, maybe I would quit
running into you."

Xena smiled as she said, "If you didn't run into me at least once a day I
would feel something was wrong."

Gabrielle dug the end of her staff into the soft dirt as she said, "Wouldn't
want that now would we. Did you bring any food? The warrior shook her head
and the bard continued, "How about water?"

Xena answered, "No, I left that up to you. I take it you didn't remember
either. Oh well there is a spring up there and we can drink from it. About
the food, well you'll just have to wait and see if there is anyone there or
not and if there isn't then we will eat when we get back down. Won't hurt us
to miss a meal."

Gabrielle sighed, "Speak for yourself, my stomach is already sending me

Xena withdrew her breast dagger as she struck out at a large thorny, plant.
Within seconds she had removed all the thorns, turning she handed it to
Gabrielle and said, "Chew on this, it will give you nourishment and maybe
fool your stomach for a bit." She reached out cutting a piece off for
herself, turned and started up the path. Gabrielle tasted it as she nodded,
"It's not bad, what is it Xena?"

Xena ignored her question as she raised her left hand into the air and
crouched down. Gabrielle followed as she crept up along side her she asked,
"Did you hear something?" Xena motioned for Gabrielle to circle to the left
and she would go right. Gabrielle nodded as she crept off. Xena watched her
move away and then she stealthily headed for a large crop of rocks looming
in front of her. She had seen a reflection of light coming from behind them
it was only for a second but it honed her senses. Whatever she had seen she
wanted to be prepared for it. Xena tossed the piece of plant she had been
eating. She took out her dagger and held in in readiness, slowly edging her
way to the crop of rocks. She heard Gabrielle's voice before she spotted
her, "I come in peace. What is going on here?" Xena peeked over a rock to
see Gabrielle standing in the middle of a group of Amazons and they didn't
look too friendly.

"Stop! That is Princess Gabrielle." The women turned to see a tall woman
walking toward them.

The one who had been closest to Gabrielle said, "I've heard of the princess
but surely this could not be her."

Gabrielle's eyes shot sparks as she said, "And just what is wrong with me?"

The woman ignored her as she said, "If this is the princess then she would
know about Amazon law and I challenge her." They all turned to stare at
Gabrielle who had been biting her lip. She dropped her staff and said, "I
did not come here to fight. I came with a friend and we are here to see
Queen Melosa and Ephiny."

The woman glared at Gabrielle and said, "As I thought, you are no Amazon

A deep voice echoed out to them, "Oh but she is and if you have a problem
with it, take it up with me." They turned to see the statuesque woman
walking toward them. The Amazon began to twirl her sword in her hand. The
whirring sound it sent seemed to bounce off the rocks. Xena approached
cautiously, turning her back to the woman she walked up to Gabrielle and
asked, "You all right?" The bard nodded, her eyes taking in the tall woman's
stance. She knew exactly what Xena was up to as the woman kicked back with
her right leg sending it solidly into the Amazon's stomach. Xena leaped and
whirled as her left leg kicked the sword from the woman's hand and in an
instant Xena was straddling the fallen woman, her dagger to the Amazon's

The woman looked up into Xena's cool eyes, still attempting to struggle. She
yelled at the other women who were staring in amazement. "Get her, what are
you waiting for?" Gabrielle had picked up her staff and was standing by Xena
glancing at the others, waiting for any movement toward Xena. She was ready
to block their path to the warrior. Xena growled softly, "I wouldn't advise
it and I don't want to kill you, so settle down. We are here to see Queen
Melosa and Ephiny and want to know what has happened?" The woman spat up at
Xena and then Xena raised her fist slamming it onto the side of the Amazon's
face knocking her out.

Xena rose to her feet and asked, "Anyone else want any of this?" They all
shook their heads and backed away. The one who had said Gabrielle was the
Amazon princess stepped forward extending her hand. "Epinon, it is good to
see you again Xena." The two clasped arms in friendship. Epinon turned to
face Gabrielle as she bowed her head she said, "It is good to see you
Princess, you come at a time we are in need of guidance."

Gabrielle replied, "Don't bow to me, I'm just Gabrielle. Epinon, what has

She gave orders for the others to pick up the unconscious woman as she said,
"Follow us, we will take you to the Queens cave and I'm sure all your
questions will be answered." They followed the women up the path, neither
saying anything, but as they reached the top Gabrielle grabbed Xena's left
hand and said, "Thank you, for stepping in."

Xena smiled and said, "I will always be there for you. There was no need for
a challenge. I felt it was not the right time. And before you say anything,
yes, I'm sure you could have handled it yourself, it's just, someone like
her does not always play by the rules and we both know I'm very good at
that. Lets find out what has happened."

Gabrielle walked over to Epinon and asked, "Is the Queen all right?"

The woman looked serious as she replied, "She's alive and that's something
after what happened."

Xena had not seen anymore guards posted and wondered where they were.
Entering the camp Epinon gave orders to the other Amazons and walked over to
Xena and said, "The Queen is not well but she will be happy to see you,
follow me."

Entering the torch lit room Gabrielle spied the woman laying on a bed of
lion furs. She was so still, there was a woman chanting over her. Xena
walked up to the woman and brushed her aside as she kneeled down by the the
Queen. She reached out her hand and touched her damp forehead. "Melosa, can
you hear me?"

The woman began to stir and her eyes opened slowly as she uttered, "Xena,
thank the Gods."

Xena managed a smile as she said, "You heard I was coming and you decided to
get sick. Well nothing will deter me." Gabrielle had knelt down by Xena, she
could see the woman's eyes light up at seeing her. Melosa reached out her
right hand as she said, "Gabrielle, you, you are alive..."

Gabrielle said, "Yes."

Xena glanced at her friend and said, "She's to ornery the Gods wouldn't have
her. Their loss is our gain."

Gabrielle crinkled up her nose at the warrior and said, "Actually, Xena,
missed me, and I knew she couldn't get along with out my assistance."

Queen Melosa managed a smile as she said, "You and Xena are most welcome.
Whatever the reason I am grateful you have found the path back to one
another and to us."

Gabrielle took her hand in hers and asked, "What has happened? Where is
Ephiny and the others?"

The woman coughed as she said, "It happened so suddenly, we didn't have a
chance." Xena had glanced down at the woman's stomach and she could see the
red that was seeping through the bandages as she asked, "Who did this?"

Melosa said, "We were preparing for the festival and everyone was excited.
We had let our guard down. We had heard what had happened at Trachis with
Callisto and Draco. We all thought that you were dead Gabrielle. It was
probably a shock for some to see you. Last we heard Xena, you were roaming
the countryside with no care for yourself or anyone else."

Gabrielle said, "Ephiny knew we were coming. Where is she?"

Melosa replied, "We knew someone she cared a great deal about was coming
here but she said it would be more exciting for us all to find out who it
was at the time they showed up."

Xena felt a chill as she asked, "Forgive me Melosa, but, I have to know what
happened to Ephiny. Is she near camp?" The Queen coughed and Xena picked up
a water skin as she held it to the woman's mouth and said, "Take a few
sips." Gabrielle had been trying to take in the Queen's words and she was
beginning to get an uneasy feeling as she asked, "Ephiny is all right isn't

Xena set the water skin down and she reached over taking Gabrielle's right
hand in her left one as she said, "We need to know."

Melosa studied them and then she said, "As I said, we were getting ready for
the celebration and Ephiny was preparing something special for the two of
you. It was during the time we were all relaxed and had finished our
preparations that they attacked. Many were killed and those who weren't were
taken captive. I was able to escape with the women you have seen here. We
are all that are left."

Xena gripped Gabrielle's hand tighter as she asked, "Ephiny, did she...?"

Melosa said, "No, she fought with the best. They kept them busy while I
escaped. She was not among the dead and I fear for her. She was captured. I
have prayed to Apollo for her safety."

Xena's eyes became frigid as she growled, "Who did this?"

The woman said, "It was Krikis and he had the slaver Santos with him." She
coughed and passed out.

Gabrielle said, "Krikis, he is one mean warlord and with Santos, Gods help

Xena stared up at Epinon and asked, "What is wrong with her?" The woman told
Xena and Gabrielle how the Queen had been hit with one of Krikis's arrows.
She told them that they had taken some of the shaft off but couldn't remove
the rest for fear of killing the woman. Xena stood up as she said, "Epinon,
get me some hot water, a sharp knife and a hot poker."

Gabrielle got to her feet as she said, "Are you sure you want to do this? It
sounds serious and if something happens to Melosa they will kill you."

Xena answered, "If I don't she will die. We have to have faith Gabrielle.
Ephiny and the others that were taken will need our help. I should have
killed the bastard when I had the chance."

Gabrielle replied, "Krikis or Santos?" Xena walked over to a pitcher of
water, pouring some of it into a pan. She began washing her hands and
replied, "Actually both of them. But I really owe Santos." Epinon had
returned with what she had requested, Xena noticed the other women who had
entered the room. They had drawn their bows and Gabrielle walked over to
them and said, "There will be no need for that. Wait outside."

They looked at her skeptically and Epinon said, "In our Queen's illness
Gabrielle is the Queen. You will do as she says." They bowed and left the

Epinon walked over to Xena and asked, "How can I help?" Xena had began to
remove the bloody bandages. She looked at Epinon and said, "Hold her down."
Turning her gaze toward the bard she said, "Gabrielle, help her. I don't
want her to move while I am doing this." Epinon watched the woman in
amazement. Gabrielle smiled reassuringly all the while knowing that if
anyone would be able to remove the arrow it would be Xena. She had seen Xena
do wonders on the battle field and knew she was capable. Xena surveyed the
reddened area as she began to wipe the blood away. Finding the arrow
entrance and part of the shaft she closed her eyes as if in her own silent
prayer. Picking up the knife she began to cut back skin. Finally able to
grasp the shaft she said, "Turn her onto her left side and hold on tight."
Grasping the shaft Xena gave one strong push sending the arrow through the
skin on Melosa's back.

She brushed back the perspiration that was falling toward her eyes. Grabbing
a thick rag she grasped the poker sending it deep into the wound. Gabrielle
and Epinon turned their head trying to get away from the smell of burning
flesh. Melosa had moaned but never woke up and for this Xena was thankful.
The pain the woman would have felt would not have been pleasant as she had
gone though that a long time ago, when that one stray arrow had found its
mark in her abdomen. She grabbed a flask of ale and began to pour it into
the wound. "Epinon, you can bandage her up now and make sure she stays
still. I've done all I can." She picked up the arrowhead, staring at it.
Gabrielle wrapped her right arm around the woman's waist as she said,
"Brings back bad memories?"

Xena laid the arrowhead down as she turned and gazed into her concerned
friends eyes, "A time I would soon forget. The only memory I was having, I
had wished you had been there to see me through it."

Gabrielle replied, "Me too." The two turned and left the room. Walking past
the two women guards, Gabrielle shook her head as she said, "I will never
get used to this Princess bit. I don't think anyone needs to bow to anyone,
do you? We are all equals only some more so."

Xena poked Gabrielle in the side as she said, "I believe you just answered
your own question..." Gabrielle ran after her saying, "What? Now you've
become an Oracle?" Epinon found them setting outside talking to several of
the other Amazons. She walked over to them and said, "A room has been
prepared for the two of you in the Queens cave. Please feel free to retire
there and I have sent water for you to bath in and food to eat." As Epinon
walked away Gabrielle turned to Xena and said, "Why did she give me that
look when she mentioned the food? You eat too."

Xena laughed as she said, "I don't know about you, but I am tired and I need
to clean up and something to eat sounds heavenly. Let's go."

Gabrielle scrambled to her feet as she called out after the woman, "Wait up,
your right it all sounds scrumptious. Xena..."

After she had refreshed herself, Gabrielle was laying on a bed of lush fur
going over the day's activities. Xena listened to her friend intently as the
bard tried to find reason with everything that had happened. Gabrielle sat
up as she said, "I wonder if they have a piece of parchment here? I need to
write out a plan."

Xena raised an eyebrow as she asked, "A plan? What are you talking about?"

Gabrielle answered, "You know like I always do with the pros and cons and
what we are going to do first." Xena had been drying her hands as she tossed
the towel at Gabrielle and said, "And do I ever listen to you?"

Gabrielle caught the towel and tossed it back at Xena, she thought for a
second then said, "Sometimes...You listened to me about the mirrors."

Xena plopped down by Gabrielle as she said, "Seems we argued a bit over that
one and it was just easier to let you have your way. If you remember we
couldn't use them." Gabrielle had found a bowl of fruit and was consuming
the cherries as she said, "Must have had these for the festival. They are
very hard to get your know."

Xena had found a chicken leg and was eating it as she said, "Go easy on
those. Too much can cause problems."

Gabrielle replied, "Something this good, could not cause problems."

Xena smiled, "Don't say I didn't warn you." I've been thinking Gabrielle, we
don't need to devise a plan, The only thing we need to do is get Ephiny and
the others back without harm coming to them."

The bard looked at her and asked, "And how are we going to do that, without
a plan?"

Xena poured a chalice of port and after taking a long drink she said, "The
plan is for you to stay here, someone has to help Queen Melosa and the
others. While she is unable to rule they will be looking to you for

Gabrielle jumped to her feet towering over Xena she said, "Oh no! I will not
be left behind, Epinon can handle the guidance just fine. There is nothing
more we can do for Queen Melosa and you may need me." Xena looked up at the
fire spiting from the bard's, blue green eyes as she thought back to a time
when Gabrielle had entered her camp at night. She was alone and frightened
but even then the bard would not admit it. Defiant, yes! When she had told
her she was going back home she had actually stood up to Xena, telling her,
'If she sent her back, she wouldn't stay.'

Xena had even sensed that Argo was enjoying the fact that the young woman
was handling the warrior like a piece of clay in her hands. Molding her in
her own way and Xena seemed to be loving every minute of it. What a change
from cold, callused Warlord, to the person she had become and she knew she
owed most of it to the delightful woman who was enjoying standing above her
dictating to the warrior.

Xena continued to chew on the leg and when she finished she laid the remains
down and said, "Point well taken. Not only do the Amazons need you, so do I,
and I will not take a chance at losing you to the likes of Krikis and

Gabrielle fumed and stammered, "I don't believe it is your choice. If I wish
to go, then it is mine, and besides, we both know we are an unstoppable

Xena reached up with her right hand and said, "Take my hand, and come back
down here with me. We need to be on an even plane."

Gabrielle obliged and as she sat down she said, "This is not fair Xena, I
was feeling pretty confident up there with you down here."

Xena stared into her friends eyes as she said, "Try to understand, if I
should lose you again I couldn't stand the dark that would follow. They have
been here already, Krikis and Santos odds of them coming back are almost
none. You would be safer here."

Gabrielle gripped Xena's hand tighter as she replied, "I can't live that
way, with you always afraid something will happen to me. We are equals...
Well in most things and you will need a back up. Don't even try to argue
Xena, it won't do you any good. Now enough said, I am turning in, good
night." Xena had the look on her face, she had experienced many times, when
the bard had thrown her a curve. It was a look of wonder and amazment at how
well the bard was telling her just how it was going to be.

She smiled down at Gabrielle and replied, "Good night, get a good nights
ssleep, we will be leaving at first light."

Gabrielle was laying on her left side as her lips curled up into a very
satisfied smile.



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