A Past Remembered part5

by Anita Louise


Chapter Twelve

Gabrielle stood staring at the woman, while trying to hold back a smile. She
was glad that Epinon had taken her advice. As darkness was settling on the
land she had mentioned to the Amazon that they might get further if she
didn't look so threatening.

The two of them had cautiously made it down to a farm house. They had
watched the people coming and going. It was the clothes hanging on the line

that drew Epinon's attention. While Gabrielle walked up to the door asking
for directions, she would take what clothes she needed.

Now the woman had walked out from the foliage, she was dressed in a very
plain dress. She should have looked every bit a village woman. That is
except for the bow and arrows she carried on her back and the sword in it's
sheath attached to her side.

Epinon stopped and looked at the woman as she asked, "What's the matter,
never seen a village woman before?"

Gabrielle bit her lip as she said, "It's not that, it's the artillery, never
seen a village woman dress like that. I don't think you will get past the

Epinon thought for a second and said, "You are probably right, I'll just be

Gabrielle interrupted and said, "You will be my friend. Leave the weapons
here, except for a knife. If you need anything else, I think we will find it
in Athens."

Epinon had placed a small dagger between her breasts and Gabrielle replied,
"You'll pass, that is if you don't decide to toss the first person you see."

Epinon wiggled as she said, "Hate these things, but I guess I can stand it
for a short time. Let's go." Gabrielle smiled as she ran to catch up to the
woman. Epinon's stride was much like Xena's. She always had a hard time
keeping up with the warrior.

Looking down at the city of Athens, they could see ships anchored in the
bay. They all flew their flags proudly as Gabrielle said, "Have you ever
been on one of them?"

Epinon replied, "Not me, I don't like that much water. Come on let's go."

Approaching the huge gate to the city, Gabrielle said, "Well, we are here,
what now?"

A guard stepped out of the shadows and said, "Halt, who goes there."

Epinon doubled her fist as Gabrielle grabbed the woman's hand and said,
"Just two very tired travelers, we are looking for a place to eat and rest
for the night."

The man approached, eyeing them as he walked around the women. He stopped
behind Epinon and said, "If you're not too tired, I'll be through with my
shift in about twenty, sure would enjoy your company." He reached out and
patted the woman on the derriere, as Epinon jabbed her elbow in the man's
face. Turning she grabbed his hand and threw him to the ground. Epinon stood
above him, her right foot on the man's throat as she said, "No one touches
me like that."

He gasped as he stared at Gabrielle and then at her and said. "Sorry, my
mistake, I didn't know you were already taken." Epinon's fist struck out
knocking the man unconscious as Gabrielle grabbed her and said, Come on,
let's get out of here. For someone that didn't want to have anyone notice

Epinon looked up from behind the large wooden barrel she had been hiding
behind. She glanced over at Gabrielle and said, "All right! I'm sorry,
somethings are hard to forget. We are in aren't we?"

Gabrielle leaned back against a wooden box and said, "I thought Xena had a
temper. I don't think that guard really knew what hit him."

Epinon replied, "Well it's a sure thing when he wakes up, he will probably
send troops out to look for us. Looks like I got us in a pack of trouble."

Gabrielle smiled and said, "Not anything I haven't even been in before.
Actually it was worth it to see the look on his face. You know he actually
thought you and I..."

"Didn't look like he could think past one thing to me. Tell me Princess,
what do we do now?"

Gabrielle replied, "First thing, we have to get you and me some new

The fog from the channel had swept into the city. Gabrielle shivered, the
mist seemed colder, than she remembered. Epinon rubbed her eyes as she said,
"That's what all this city living gets a person." She pointed toward the sky

Gabrielle replied, "Can't see anything."

"That's what I mean, people burning wood to keep warm along with this fog
and breeze, it's like a plague coming down on everything."

Gabrielle replied, "Let's get out of here, this stuff is making me

"Not so much, what you said, but my eyes are burning."

The two women cautiously made it across the square to the end of the street.
Gabrielle whispered, "Let's try the stable." Epinon reached out grabbing the
Bard by her right arm and said, "Let me go first, after all, you are the
Amazon Princess."

Gabrielle fumed, "My name is Gabrielle." Epinon ignored her and stealthily
climbed over the corral fence. Gabrielle saw the woman's shadow as she
entered the barn. Gabrielle followed and entered the building. Her mouth
fell open when she saw the horse. She ran over, reached out and patted the
animal as she said, "Savior, good to see you boy."

"You know the horse?"

Gabrielle turned to see Epinon standing behind her and said, "This is
Savior, it's a long story but he's the horse Xena rode in on."

Epinon replied, "Well, I have some clothes for us, over there in the stall."

Gabrielle looked at the woman skeptically but followed her. She stopped,
when she saw the two men passed out on the floor. "Epinon, what is this?"

The woman answered, "The smaller one is yours, I think you can wear his

Gabrielle replied, "You want me to undress him?"

Epinon had already began to remove her clothes as she said, "Only way I know
of to get them off." Gabrielle watched her for a few minutes, then she set
her staff down. And walked over to the young man that was soundly sleeping.
She looked up at Epinon and asked, "What did you do to them?"

"Not to worry, they may have a headache when they awake but that's all. Of
course they will also be a shade naked." Gabrielle closed her eyes and began
to unbutton the man's shirt. Epinon reached over and grabbed her hand as she
said, "Go sit down, I'll get the clothes for you."

Gabrielle started to object, then she stared at the man as she said, "All
right, you will probably be better at it then me anyway."

As Epinon removed the clothes she called back, "Take yours off."

Gabrielle glanced around and walked into a stall and said, "Ok." It didn't
take the Amazon long to walk over to the stall and hand Gabrielle the
clothes. As Gabrielle reached out to take them Epinon said, "Thought you
were married, didn't you ever take your husbands clothes off?"

Gabrielle replied, "It wasn't like that, I don't even talk to Xena about

Epinon laughed as she said, "What a shame, a woman like you should have

Gabrielle was trying to pull the trim leather pants on, as she squirmed and
said, "I do, I have Xena."

Epinon said, "Are you telling me that you and Xena do it?"

Gabrielle hesitated as she said, "Do it? Are you asking what I think?"

Epinon shrugged her shoulders and said, "Love one another."

Gabrielle had buttoned the last button on her shirt, as she stepped out of
the stall. She stopped in her tracks, she walked right into the woman.
Gabrielle stepped back as she said, "Sorry, I didn't know."

Epinon laughed, "Haven't you ever seen a naked woman before?"

Gabrielle stammered, "It's just..." She turned and walked away.

Epinon called after her, "I can't believe my eyes, you are embarrassed,
surely I'm not the first."

Gabrielle replied, "No, you just caught me by surprise, After you get
dressed, what then?"

Epinon quickly put on the man's clothes as she said, "Give me your clothes
and I'll bury them with mine."

Gabrielle stared down at the ground as she said, "Sure hate to leave them,
they have become a part of me."

Epinon replied, "Have to admit, that top of yours, left little to the
imagination. You should be a bit warmer."

"Yeah, but I smell like a stable." She glanced around and the Amazon had
disappeared. Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder and a low voice,

Gabrielle turned as her mouth dropped open. "Epinon?"

The woman replied, "That's right."

Gabrielle said, "It's amazing." She walked around the woman and said, "How
did you get the mustache?"

Epinon answered, "The horse I took it from won't miss it. I used some of
that pitch off the wood to attach it." The woman strutted around feeling
very confident. Gabrielle was amazed, Epinon had twisted her hair up on the
top of her head and was wearing a hat. Her face was smudged with something
dark and she sported a dark mustache. In the clothes she was wearing, she
could pass for a man easily. Gabrielle said, "What about me?"

Epinon walked over to her and tipped the Bard's head side to side then she
said, "Got to do something with that girly look."

She led Gabrielle over to a barrel and said, "Sit." The woman went about
braiding Gabrielle's hair, twisting and pinning it to the top of her head.
She walked away and returned as she said, "Hold your breath." Slowly and
meticulously she applied the dark stuff to Gabrielle's face then she said,
"Now the hat." She walked over to the far wall and returned with a hat which
she placed on the Bard's head and said, "Now, the Princess is gone and a
young man has arrived."

Gabrielle twitched her nose as she said, "I've got to see this." She dashed
over to a piece of broken glass. And stared at the image looking back at her
as she said, "It doesn't even look like me. "

That's the idea, come on let's go."

Gabrielle replied, "I don't even want to know what the stuff on my face is.
How much time do you think we will have, before those two sound an alarm?"

Epinon answred, "Enough, let's go."

Epinon reached out and grabbed Gabrielle's right shoulder and said, "Wait
up, I was watching you and you need to walk with a more confident stride.
None of that woman stuff, think like a man and react."

Gabrielle turned and looked up at the woman as she said, "Think like a man?
That's a little hard to do."

Epinon whispered in her ear, "It's either that or get yourself arrested."

Gabrielle squared her shoulders and said, "Well, we don't have all night,
let's get going."

Epinon laughed as she ran to catch up with the woman. Walking down the side
streets it didn't take them long to find the Tavern. Gabrielle softly said,
"If I know Xena, she probably stopped in here to get information."

Epinon smiled, "Yeah and maybe something to drink. Let me do the talking."

The two woman looked at one another, then back at the door as they swaggered
inside. Walking up to the bar, Epinon slammed her fist on it and said, "Need
some service over here."

A plump woman shuffled over to them and said, "What would you like?"

She had been eyeing Epinon as the woman said, "Just something to drink."

She looked disappointed and walked off. Gabrielle said, "I'm not sure but I
think she likes you."

Epinon grunted as she said, "Working in here, she probably likes anyone in

Gabrielle's right eyebrow raised as she said, "Or not." They laughed. The
woman, had brought them two Tankards of Ale and left. Epinon was enjoying
her drink, when a group of soldiers burst into the room. Epinon looked up as
their leader walked up to the two women. "You, and you!"

Gabrielle pointed to herself and he said, "Yeah, you two come with us. All
available men are being used by the Athenian Army to help search the city.
There are two women that need to be apprehended."

Gabrielle lowered her voice as she asked, "Two women? What did they do?"

He replied, "Stole money from the guard at the gate, beat him so badly they
almost killed him. There is a reward for them, and from the looks of you
two, you could use it."

Epinon replied, "Sorry, we didn't sign up with any Army."

The man drew his sword and held it to Gabrielle's throat as he said, "Maybe
your young friend would like to change your mind."

Epinon took a swallow as she reached out pushing the blade back she said,
"No need to do that, we are tired but we'll help search."

He put the sword back in it's sheath and said, "Then follow my men."

Gabrielle's eyes were searching Epinon's. They were hiding from these men
and were now being forced to go with them, to look for themselves?

Epinon reached out and grabbed Gabrielle by the shoulder as she said, Let's
go, the faster we find them, the sooner we can go about our business."

Gabrielle followed her as she said, "How can we find them?"

Epinon replied, "Just follow my lead." Once outside, they joined the rest of
the men who were gathered to join the hunt. Several gave the two strange
looking men the once over, then went back to what they were doing. They
broke the men into groups and Epinon insisted the young man go with her.
Gabrielle went along with what she was doing all the while totally confused.
She was just starting to step across an alley way, when Epinon reached out
and pushed the Bard into the shadows. Hitting the ground with a thud she
stared up at Epinon and said, "Why did you do that?"

"Thought it was time we quit playing hide and seek. Come on, the jails not
far from here." Following the alley for several minutes, they ran across the
square and into the darkness of a large stone building. Gabrielle, was
breathing hard as she gazed over at the Amazon. The giggle was small and
soon was an uproarish laugh. She found the woman's hand over her mouth as
she sputtered and Epinon whispered in her right ear, "What's so funny?"

She reached up and grabbed the woman's hand, pulling it down and said, "You
are, your mustache has fallen on one side. Looks more like a crawly thing."

Epinon replied, "Well, you can see it, fix it."

Gabrielle reached out, raised the mustache and pushed. When she had finished
Epinon said, "I think you got great joy out of pushing that back on."

Gabrielle smiled and said, "Nah, let's get going."

Nearing the sentry at the front door, Epinon walked up and said, "They want
you down at TheTavern. Something about that Warriror Woman." The man looked
at her and said, "What about here?"

Epinon replied, "I'll stand watch until you return."

The man hurried off and Gabrielle said, "That was easy, almost too easy."

Epinon replied, "You go in, see if you can find them."

Gabrielle said, "What about the guards inside?"

"If I am right, there won't be. I think everyone is out looking for us."

Gabrielle said, "Ok, wish me luck."

The woman said, "Amazon's don't need luck. They need courage."

Gabrielle replied, "Well, I need luck." She opened the door and peeked into
the room. She could see a faint light but there were no sounds, so she
walked into the room. It didn't take the Bard long to find her way down to
the Dungeon. She had taken a torch off the wall. And as she walked, she held
it up to the bars surveying each one. There were prisoners huddled against
the walls but no sign of her friend. She had passed all of the cells, as she
turned to start back a man said, "Say, young fella, you looking for anyone
in pecticular?"

Gabrielle turned toward the voice as she asked, "Young Fella?"

The man stared at her and said, "Don't see to many young men in here."

It was then she remembered, she didn't look like Gabrielle and she said,
"Yes, I'm looking for Xena."

The man thought for a second and said, "You let me out, and I'll tell you."

Gabrielle replied, "First, what do you know about her?"

He answered, "I know she's not here anymore." As his words reached her,
Gabrielle stepped back and said, "There has to be some mistake, she is

He said, "Nope, took her and that other one early this morning."

She walked over to the cell and said, "Took them, where?"

He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Do I look like an Oracle, I told you,
now let me out."

"Hey, we haven't got all day, get them and let's go!" Gabrielle looked up to
see Epinon approaching as she said, "According to this man, they are not

Epinon walked over to the cell, peering in at the man and said, "You sure
about that?"

He nodded and said, "Sure, she said if I told her, that she would let me out
of here."

Epinon stepped over to a far wall and came back carrying a ring of keys as
she said, "I'm going to let you out, give you the keys and I want you to let
the others go."

The man replied, "Thank you sir, I won't forget this." He stepped past
Epinon as she reached out and grabbed him saying, "Where have they taken

He stuttered, "They were taking them in a wagon, that's all I know." She
released him as he walked over to a cell and unlocked the door. He turned to
her and said, "I hope you two find your friend, sir."

Epinon grumbled, "Sir, what next?"

Gabrielle replied, "Well he called me a young man, if you haven't noticed,
that's what we look like. Xena would never believe this."

Epinon said, "We have to get out of here, the minute the guard finds out
something is wrong, he will be back with reinforcements." The two hurried
past the prisoners that were now bellowing into the room.

As the night air hit them they said, "Let's get out of here."


Chapter Thirteen

Gabrielle tried to convince Epinon not to go back to the Tavern. The woman
wouldn't listen, she told the Bard that someone there might know where Xena
and Ephiny were taken. As they approached the door Gabrielle said, "Aren't
you afraid they might come back, the soldiers?"

Epinon gave the woman a glare and said, "It's not like we're not in trouble
already. Relax, and no one will pay any attention. "

Gabrielle shrugged her shoulders and said, "All right, lets see if we can
get any information on where they have gone."

As the two approached the bar the woman, from before, came hurrying up to
them and said, "I knew you would come back."

Epinon replied, "Just for drink."

She looked at Gabrielle and asked, "That all you want too?"

Gabrielle mumbled, "Just drink, thank you."

Epinon jabbed her in the side and said, "Thank you, you see any of these men
in here saying thank you. If you're not careful they will think you are some
kind of..."

The Bard smiled and said, "Well, we are, aren't we?"

The drinks had arrived and Epinon, began to drink her ale like someone might
take it away. Gabrielle reached out and grabbed the woman's hand as she
said, "Take it slow, won't do either of us any good if you go and get

"Say you two, want to buy a girl a drink?" Gabrielle felt the woman before
she heard the sounds. She had pushed her way between the two and had wrapped
an arm around each of them. Epinon glanced at her and said, "Sure." She
motioned for the woman behind the bar to bring her another Tankard of ale.

Gabrielle brushed the woman's arm off and moved away. She turned her
attention to the Bard and said, "Are you sure you're old enough to drink
that stuff?"

Gabrielle replied, "Old enough." The woman at the bar set down the Tankard
and Epinon slid it toward Gabrielle. Epinon smiled at the woman and said,
"Looks like you have taken a liking to my young friend."

The woman, leaned close to Gabrielle and said, "He is young, but that can be
an adventure."

Gabrielle looked at her and said, "Forget it, I'm spoken for. Ep, let's go."

Epinon ignored her, so she repeated it. Epinon turned to her and said,
"Entertain yourself, I'm going to go over and talk to those men."

"No..." She watched Epinon swagger up to a table and sit down. From the loud
boisterous noises she was hearing, she guessed the woman was doing just
fine. Of course she had walked off an left her in a situation. Gabrielle
took a drink and said, "I really have to go."

The woman wrapped her arm around the Bard's waist and said, "Don't be in
such a hurry, your friend doesn't seem to be, we have all night. What's the
matter? Aren't I good enough for you?"

Gabrielle stuttered, "It's not that, it's just you don't understand."

The woman started to cry, people in the room began staring at them.
Gabrielle looked over toward Epinon, who was giving her a look, that said do
something. She reached out and touched the woman's left hand and said, "Now,
now, there is no reason to cry."

The woman smiled and said, "My name's Efin."

Gabrielle muttered, "Gabe." She barely got the words out of her mouth before
the woman reached over and kissed her.

Gabrielle tried to push her off and said, "I'm not like that."

"Hey there young man, Efin to much woman for you." Gabrielle turned to gaze
at the soldier that had pulled her and Epinon into the search earlier. She
replied, "No."

He laughed and said, "Well if she isn't now, she will be." He turned and
walked over to a table and sat down. Gabrielle said, "Wait here, I have to
go talk to my friend."

Efin said, "Don't be long."

Gabrielle walked over to the table leaned down and whispered in Epinon's
ear, "Get me out of this." The woman stood up and followed her over to the
bar. She walked up to Efin and put her right arm around the woman's
shoulders and said, "Come on sweet thing, I got a room upstairs and I know
you can teach my friend a thing or two."

Gabrielle replied, "I'll wait."

Epinon answered, "Suit yourself, but it will be easier up there with us,
then down here with them."

She glanced around the room and said "I'm right behind you."

After opening the wooden door, Epinon and the woman stepped into the room,
followed by Gabrielle. After closing the door, Efin, walked over to a table
and lit a Lantern. The light, sent a pleasant glow throughout the room.
Gabrielle stepped over to a wooden chair, and sat down as she said, "What
now? We can't stay up here all night?"

The woman walked over to Epinon and said, "I can make it real satisfying."

Epinon set down on the bed and said, "Why don't you sit down here by me."
The woman smiled and sat. Epinon said, "Now, we mean you no disrespect, but
my friend and I are not in the mood. But you can keep us company."

She gazed toward Gabrielle and said, "Not even your young friend?"

Gabrielle stuttered, "No, like he said, just company."

She shook her head and said, "Pity, this could have been your lucky night."

Gabrielle replied, "There will be others, Ep, want to tell me what is going

Epinon replied, "Well, we have this charming woman's attention for the rest
of the night. I already paid for that. What we do is our business and no one

The woman got to her feet and said, "Name's Efin."

Epinon replied, "We have Efin's company, and lady, we need some answers."

The woman stared at them and said, "What kind of answers?'

Epinon continued, "I was told downstairs, that you have been keeping the
Warlord, Krikis, company most evenings. If this is true, I want you tell
tell me where he has gone?"

She looked at Epinon and asked, "Why do you want to know? I'm not going to
tell you anything that will get him hurt."

"No, no, you have us all wrong, we were hired to help with the transfer of
two women prisoners. When we arrived, we were told he had left already. We
just want to join him."

She sighed and said, "Oh in that case, I don't know where he was finally
going, but I do know he was going to stop at Thebes."

Epinon smiled at Gabrielle and said, "That is good to know, we should be
able to catch up to them. We will rest here for awhile and then be on our
way." She could see the Bard was tired and continued, "Why don't you come
over here and lay down for awhile. Try to get a little rest."

Gabrielle answered, "What about you?"

Epinon stood up and said, "I'm sure Efin will keep me company. I will wake
you in awhile and you can keep watch, while I sleep."

Gabrielle got up as she said, "I am tired." She stared at Efin and asked,
"You don't mind?"

She shook her head and said, "I get paid one way or the other. If you'd
rather sleep, it's fine by me."

Epinon watched the Bard stumble over to the bed and collapse on it. She
walked over and raised her feet off the floor, placing them on the bed. When
she turned around she ran into Efin , who was watching her very closely.
"You sure baby him, something I should know about?"

Epinon growled at her and said, "Haven't you ever seen anyone do something
without thinking that?'

She shook her head and said, "What's it to me anyway long as you've paid.
How shall we spend the night?"

Epinon walked over to the table and sat down as she said, "For a start, you
could get me some Port, and I don't like to drink alone."

Gabrielle felt the gentle shaking on her shoulder as she opened her eyes and
stared into the face of a stranger. She yelled, "Hel..." The woman had
placed her hand over the Bard's mouth and whispered, "It's me Ep, remember?"
Gabrielle shook her head as she gazed into the un-shaven face of the man who
stood above her. Slowly she focused and nodded her head. Epinon released her
hold on the woman's mouth as Gabrielle sat up and said, "Why don't you scare
a person."

Walking off, Epinon replied, "Didn't seem to scare Efin."

As the Bard scrambled to her feet she asked, "Where is Efin?"

"Went downstairs, we have to go." She walked across the room, opened the
window and said, "We can leave through here. Come on."

As her feet touched the gound, Gabrielle bend over and took a deep breath as
she said, "You know, you scared the begezz's out of me back there. I thought
you were really going to..."

Epinon laughed as she said, "I wouldn't do that to you, your first time
should be memorable."

Gabrielle stood up and said, "Did you get any rest?"

Epinon replied, "A little, had to keep Efin occupied."

"You didn't?"

"Not hardly, Ephiny would probably kill me. Anyway, we got what we wanted.
Do you feel like hitting the trail?"

Gabrielle replied, "How do we do that? It's still dark, and we might lose
the trail. Besides, it's going to be hard to walk from here to Thebes."

Epinon said, "Then lets go get a traveling companion." Gabrielle ran to
catch up with the woman. She watched Epinon enter the stable area, and in a
few minutes she led Savior from the building and said, "Well, we can ride."

Gabrielle smiled as she said, "Thank the Gods."

Epinon scoffed, "The Gods had nothing to do with it. Let's go." After the
two women mounted the horse they fled the city. They soon found themselves
back in the Forest.


Chapter Fourteen

Daybreak leaked through the trees, as the woman pulled the blanket over the
top of her head. "Wake up, we have to be moving." She felt the cover being
pulled off and she clung to it as she said, "Go away, I'm tired."

It was as the cold water hit her in the face that she sat up sputtering,
"What is going on?"

Epinon smiled down at the woman and said, "Rise and shine, it's another day.
We should catch up to them."

Gabrielle slowly got to her feet and said, "Didn't have to throw water on
me, I would have woke."

"When, next Solstice? Xena is right, you would sleep through a stampede and
never even know it."

Gabrielle had walked over to the campfire and set down. She reached out and
grasped a pot as she poured herself a mug of tea, she said, "Yeah, what else
did Xena tell you? I'm hungry, is there anything to eat?"

Epinon replied, "It's in the coals."

It didn't take Gabrielle long to poke in the embers and come out with a nice
fish. She gazed at Epinon and said, "I suppose you caught this earlier?
Don't you ever sleep?"

"You do enough of that for both of us."

After she had eaten, the Bard said, "I want to go take a dip in the stream
and get this off."

Epinon walked over and set down by her as she said, "Can't do that, we will
travel easier if people think we are men. Guess you will have to wear it for
a little longer."

Gabrielle replied, "I'm not too sure but I think this is going to your head.
I want to get back to what I was."

"Hello in camp. Got anything to eat for a pair of hungry travelers?" They
looked up to see several scruffy men walk from the foliage into their camp,
Epinon stood up followed by Gabrielle and said, "We don't have much. but
you're welcome to what we have." The men walked over to the campfire and sat
down, they laid their weapons on the ground. Gabrielle walked over to a tree
and sat. She watched Epinon walk around the camp and said, "What are you

The woman whispered, "I'm going to check around and make sure they are
alone, you keep an eye out, I'll be right back."

Gabrielle walked over by the campfire and sat, as one of the men looked up
at her he said, "Well, young man, what are the two of you doing out in these

She shrugged her shoulders and said, "Passing through, like you."

The other man squinted his eyes and said, "Where you from?"

Gabrielle snapped, "It's none of your business."

In a matter of seconds the man was on his feet, sword in hand he held it
toward her and said, "I think this gives me the right. Like I said, where
you two from?" The Bard's right leg shot up knocking the weapon from the
man's hand as she swung around hitting him with her left leg, he never even
saw it coming. The other man had grabbed his weapon and was lunging toward
the young man. Gabrielle dove to the ground as both hands struck out at his
ankles sending him face first into the dirt. The woman flipped to her feet
and chopped the man across the back of his neck. "Bravo, Xena couldn't have
done it any better."

She turned to see Epinon walking toward her. "You saw this?" The woman
nodded as Gabrielle continued, "Then why didn't you do something?" Epinon
walked over and turned the men onto their backs, squatting she began to look
through their pockets. "Looked to me like you had it under control."

Gabrielle replied, "Xena is always giving me these tests, and we do get into
some pretty heavy skirmishes. Guess I have learned a few things. I still
could have used some help"

Epinon stood as she replied, "if you had needed any, I would have been
there. Let's tie these two and be on our way."

Gabrielle asked, "Did you find anything in the forest?"

The woman nodded, "A few of their men, from what I gather, they are bounty
hunters. The Athenian Army has a reward out for us, dead or alive. We had
better be real careful from here on, if you are through, let's go."
Gabrielle tied the last knot and hurried to catch the tall Amazon.

Savior seemed to be happy to see the Bard and Gabrielle said, "He seems to
know me, is that possible?"

Epinon walked over to her and said, "Animals have this keen sense of smell,
you may look different, but the horse knows it's you."

Gabrielle patted the animal and replied, "Must be some sense of smell."

After they were mounted and on their way, Gabrielle asked, "What do you know
about Thebes?"

Epinon called back, "People call it the seven-gated city. It holds the
greatest power of Greece."

Gabrielle sighed and said, "Sounds like we are going from the frying pan
into the fire." They had been traveling most of the day as Epinon reined the
horse to a stop and said, "There, in the valley, Thebes." Gabrielle stared
down on the region of fertile land, there was a mist rising from the ground
spiraling into the air. "We can't seem to get away from the fog, it's all

Epinon urged the horse on as she said, "It hides many things."

Gabrielle replied, "How are we going to get in?"

Epinon answered, "Just watch."

As the horse stopped, the large wooden gate swung open and a soldier stepped
forward saying, "What brings you to Thebes?"

Epinon jumped down from the horse and said, "We are looking for Krikis, we
were supposed to meet him in Athens but when we arrived, he had already

The man looked at Gabrielle and said, "You'll find him at the end of the
street, he brought two prisoners in." Epinon thanked the man as she led the
horse into the city. Gabrielle slid off and said, "What now? We are in, but
Krikis isn't going to let us get near them."

Epinon smiled as she said, "You'll see."

Gabrielle tried to jump the many puddles as she stared at the buildings,
Most of them were two floors, there were no windows to be seen. They walked
past taverns that seemed to be pocketed in between. There were piles of
refuse cluttering unswept wooden platforms. The city could be an adventure
but she prefered the life far away from this way of living.

Epinon turned to glance at the woman and said, "Well, we are here, if you
have any special prayers, I suggest you say them now. I am going in, if I
don't come back out, get out of here." Before the Bard could answer, the
woman had entered the large stone building. Gabrielle walked Savior over to
a hitching post, tying the animal to it as she turned to gaze at the huge
building. It didn't seem like long before the door opened and Epinon
gestured her to come in. She walked across the dirt packed street,
approaching the woman she asked, "What now?"

Epinon replied, "I told them we were sent to assist Krikis with the
prisoners, they believed me, Krikis is at a near by camp. Just keep up your
cover." Gabrielle followed her into the torch lit room, her eyes darted
around at the men that were going about their business. Crafton walked up to
Epinon and said, "If you follow me, I'll take you to the prisoners."

They had walked through several doors and down stone steps to the Dungeon.
The man walked over to a cell and said, "Your prisoners, Krikis will be back
within the day." He turned and left. Epinon stared into the darkened cell
each trying to see the two women. Epinon walked over to a wall and removed a
torch. She held it up to the bars as it sent an errie glow into the room.
Gabrielle gasped as she saw Xena. The woman was leaning against the wall,
and Ephiny was laying beside her. Xena looked up at the two men standing
outside the cell and snarled, "Getting your thrill for the day boys?"

Epinon walked over the far wall and brought back the keys and unlocked the
door. Gabrielle stepped into the cell and said, "Are you all right?" In an
instant the woman was on top of her, sending her crashing to the ground,
Gabrielle stared up at Xena and gasped, "What are you doing?" Epinon reached
out and tried to pull the woman off as Xena sent her elbow crashing into the
woman's face. Gabrielle whispered, "Xena, it's me."

The woman smirked as she said, "I can see they have sent a boy to do a man's
work." Epinon had regained her senses and now had her left arm around the
woman's throat as she said, "I have a knife against your back, now let up!"
Xena threw up her hands as she got to her feet. Epinon stared down at
Gabrielle and said, "This is your friend huh?"

Xena stepped back and said, "I am no friend to the likes of Kriskis and his

Gabrielle clambered to her feet, stepping closer she said, "Xena, it's me

The woman's eyes grew wide as she stared at this young man and said,
"Gabrielle? What happend to you?"

The Bard walked over to a foundation and sat down, still trying to catch her
breath as she muttered, "Disguise, haven't you ever heard of a disguise?"
Xena realized this was her friend and she rushed to her side as she said,
"Gabrielle, I'm so sorry, I thought you were another of Krikis's men." She
reached out and drew the Bard close. She held the woman's face between her
palms and said, "By the God's, you are a sight. I'm so sorry, I didn't mean
to hurt you."

Gabrielle smiled as she said, "Are you all right? I have been so worried."

Xena held her close and said, "Now that you are here, but who is this man
that dares to pull a knife on me?"

Epinon walked over extending her right hand she said, "Epinon." Xena stood
clasping it and said, "Another disguise, well you two fooled me."

Epinon had walked over where Ephiny lay, she dropped to her knees and said,
"What is wrong with her?"

Xena replied, "It's a long story but she is better now. You have to get out
of here, Krikis will be back and I couldn't stand it if he captured you

Epinon had placed her right hand on Ephiny's forehead as she replied, "Not
without you and Ephiny."

Xena answered, "There is no way you will get past the guards with us.
Besides, I can't fight."

Gabrielle stared into her face and said, "Can't fight, why?"

"Because Krikis has taken the others as well as Argo somewhere else and has
threatened to kill them if I make any attempt."

Gabrielle stood up fuming, "Well, we'll just see about that. Epinon and I
have come a long way and we are not leaving without you."

Xena replied, "No, I won't risk the others dieing because of me."

Epinon was whispering soft appeasings to Ephiny and Xena took Gabrielle over
to the far side of the cell. She placed a hand on the Bard's shoulder and
said, "After the initial shock, you are the sight I have been longing to
see. I only planned on being gone a short time, I hope you will find it in
your heart to forgive me."

Gabrielle's eyes gleamed up at the woman as she said, "Nothing to forgive,
Xena, I can't stand to see you in here."

Xena sat and she pulled the Bard down with her and said, "Krikis has taken
out his anger on Ephiny, if he had you God's know what he might do,
Gabrielle, promise me that you and Epinon will leave this place as soon as

Gabrielle replied, "I can't leave you, not again."

Xena placed her right arm over the Bard's shoulder and said, "I have missed
you so much."

Gabrielle laid her head against the warmth of the warrior's shoulder as she
said, "Me too."

Xena had kept one eye on Epinon and Ephiny who seemed to be getting along
great, so she centered all her attention on the woman who was at peace,
nestling on her shoulder. She leaned back and placed her left hand under the
Bard's chin as she said, "This is not the best place, but I have to tell you
something. It has been eating at me and I may never get the chance again."

Gabrielle's face seemed anxious as she asked, "Tell me something, what is
wrong?" The woman's lips spread across her face, and her crystal blue eyes
sent out a warmth that Gabrielle could feel through out her body. She met
the gaze with one of her own as Xena softly whispered, "Whatever may come, I
want you to know I love you. You have become more than just family to me, I
don't know when it happened, I only know it did. If we get out of this, I
want to pledge my love to you."

Gabrielle's eyes seemed to be fixed as Xena lowered her head and placed a
soft kiss on the Bard's lips. Gabrielle didn't move and then with slow
methodical stirring, her lips traced the warriors, sending spasm's
throughout both bodies. She looked up into Xena's shocked face and said,
"It's about time, I was beginning to think you didn't care."

Xena smiled as she said, "Not care, is there a Mount Olympus, By the God's
woman, you drive me insane, I want you so bad."

The bard kissed her, softly and said, "You've got me."


Chapter Fifteen

"As much as I am enjoying having you here with me, you and Epinon have to
leave now! Krikis will be back soon."

Epinon stood up and walked over to them and replied, "We will go, but, we
will come back after we find the others and Krikis has nothing to hold over
your head. Thank you Xena, for taking care of Ephiny. Let's go Gabrielle."

Gabrielle stood as she said, "I'll be back" They gazed at one another then
slowly brought their lips together.

Epinon smiled as she said, "I keep telling her she needs someone, looks like
she has found that person."

Xena's eyes never left the Bard as she whispered, "Always. You two be

Epinon unlocked the door and as the two left she called back, "Careful we

The warrior stared long after the two had left the room, she walked over to
Ephiny and set down. Ephiny smiled at her friend as she said, "You did it."

Xena replied, "I took your advice. If I die now, I will at least know. You
were right, she does love me and I love her. If we get out of this, I will
show her just how much."

The woman glanced down at Ephiny as she said, "I'm sorry, probably shouldn't
have said that."

Ephiny touched Xena's right hand with her's as she said, "I'm happy for


As they were climbing the steps to the ground floor Gabrielle asked, "How do
we get past all those guards?"

Epinon replied, "Just let me do the talking."

Crafton looked up as the two walked into the room. Epinon walked over to him
and told the man that they had checked the prisoners and were on their way
to a Tavern to get something to eat and drink. She said they would be back
before Krikis returned. The man gave them directions to the closest Tavern
and the two left. As her feet stepped outside Gabrielle replied, "By the
Gods, this is getting scary, I could use a stiff drink." Epinon motioned for
the horse and the Bard walked over and brought Savior to where she stood and
said, "Now what?"

Epinon said, "We walk over to the Tavern and get something to eat and

"You are a surprise to me, I still don't know what you are going to do next.
Epinon, how can we find out where Krikis is holding the others?"

Epinon turned to face the woman and said, "Ask a few questions at the
Tavern. I'm sure someone knows. As soon as we find out, the quicker we free
them and get Ephiny and Xena out."

Stopping in front of the Tavern, Gabrielle said, "I am hungry."

Epinon smiled as she stepped into the building and said, "Good, so am I."

They made their way through the crowd of people and found a table sitting in
a corner. Epinon pulled out a chair and sat down. Gabrielle followed as she
said, "They are really busy."

"Yeah, probably used to it." It wasn't long before a man walked up to them
and took the order. Gabrielle leaned back in the chair as Epinon asked, "How
you feeling?"

She gazed at the woman and asked, "Why?"

Epinon smiled and said, "I saw the way you two looked at one another back
there, just wondered how you were feeling that's all."

The Bard leaned on the table and said, "If Xena was out of that hole, I
would tell you that I know what it would be like to be in the Elysian

Epinon leaned over and whispered in the Bard's right ear, "What you are
feeling now is just a ripple. Wait till you two get together, then, you will
feel you have gone there, and you will not be a big hurry to return." The
woman smiled as she said, "Anyone ever tell you that you wear red well?'

Gabrielle looked away as she said, "It shows?"

"Yeah, and on you, it's cute." The man brought them their food and drink.
They enjoyed the meal oblivious to all the sounds around them. As Epinon
finished she sat back and said, "You stay here, nurture the drink, I'm going
to go ask a few questions." Gabrielle watched her walk away from the table,
a swagger in her walk and the Bard smiled. She never had the time to get to
know the Amazon. Epinon, like Xena was a power to reckon with.

"Mind if I sit?" The melodic voice drifted down. A petite woman, with long
black hair flowing behind and gray eyes, was staring down at the Bard.
Gabrielle stood up and said, "There are plenty of tables, why here?"

She sat down and tears began forming in her eyes and said, "You look like a
kindly sort, I just need to get away from him!" Gabrielle stared across the
room at the large man that stood brandishing a sword. She sat down and said,
"Who is he? What has he done to you?"

She was ringing her hands as she said, "He is my uncle, he expects me to do
everything, I try but it's not good enough. He is drunk and wants to beat
me, he says I am evil. There is no evil, only in his mind. Please kind sir,
let me stay here but for a few minutes."

Gabrielle reached over and patted the woman's hands as she said, "There,
there, it's all right, you can set here. What if he comes over here?"

She squeezed the Bard's hand and said, "He won't if I am with someone, but
if he sees me alone, he may kill me tonight." Gabrielle stared around the
room looking for Epinon, she was no where to be seen. Thoughts were running
through her mind and all seemed to get muddled as she said, "Would you like
something to drink?" The woman nodded and the Bard signaled a Barmaid to
come over. She ordered two drinks then leaned back in her chair and stared
at this distraught woman. The thought went through her head, that being a
person of male persuasion was becoming a bit much.

The woman smiled at the Bard and pushed the drink toward her as she said, "A
toast to your kindness." Gabrielle grasped the new tankard and raised it to
meet the woman's as they both took a deep drink. The Bard gazed at this
woman as she thought, what a terrible life. To have to do someone's biding
all the time and to get beat whenever he felt like it. Not the kind of life
she would want to live.

She had taken several drinks and was beginning to get dizzy. At first the
Bard tried to ignore the warm feeling but it was consuming her as she said,
"I don't feel well, got to go find..." Her head hit the table before she got
the last words out. The woman reached over and checked the Bard's eyes then
turned to the bar and waved. The man she had been talking about walked up to
the table and said, "Looks like you picked a young one this time, no matter,
the Sea Troll will pay just as much, let's get him out of here." He lifted
the unconscious body of the young man and carried him from the building.


Moaning, she opened her eyes, her head ached and her stomach felt as if it
would heave any minute. It was the rolling under her that was making her
nauseous as she slowly sat up. She tried to see where she was at that
moment, but all she could see was the darkness that had enveloped her.
Starting to raise her left hand, she halted. Immediately the Bard realized
her hands were shackled. She reached out and felt the chain as she followed
it with her right hand. It was attached to some kind of wood. "You awake,
how you doing?" The voice was low as Gabrielle tried again to see where it
was coming from she answered, "Who are you? Where am I?"

The sound of chains clanking against one another and the words, "Name is
Afton, you have been shanghaied and are on the pirate ship, Bounty."

Gabrielle shook her head and said, "Has to be some kind of mistake, I was in
a Tavern."

"Right, and your drink was drugged. You fell for it like all the rest,
except for the Amazons. they are just here."

The words struck home as Gabrielle replied, "Amazon's? Pirate ship, is this
someone's idea of a joke, I don't find it very funny." At this time a loud
noise could be heard above and Gabrielle looked up to see something removed
as the light from outside glared into the hole. Within seconds a burly man
appeared in the light and said, "Welcome aboard, you have just signed on
with the best ship on the sea, The Bounty. Your Captain wishes to have your
presence up on deck."

Gabrielle got to her knees as she called out, "You up there, this is a big
mistake, I didn't sign on with any ship." The man laughed and disappeared.

Afton said, "Say, young man, you had better be careful. I hear these pirates
soon as not feed you to the sharks for bait." It didn't take long for
several men to enter the area and unlock the chains from the walls. They
were all led out of the hold, and taken up on deck. Each person was chained
and the chains were all connected. She walked carefully trying to follow the
others. Once on deck she gazed around, there were men standing around, all
staring at her and the others.

"Look Alive!" The words sent terror into most of the people she was shackled
to. Gabrielle raised her head and stared in the direction of the words.
Standing at the large wooden wheel of the ship was this statuesque woman.
Her long red hair was tossed about her head like a flame to the air. She was
leggy and had a figure that would stop men in their tracks. She stood, her
hands on her hips staring down at them. The prisoners all knelt, pulling
Gabrielle down to the boat deck with them. She never took her gaze off this
amazing woman. "You!" The woman's voice rang out and everyone quivered
except Gabrielle who glared at the woman, "Me?"

She answered, "Yes, you, Saxton, bring that one to my cabin."

Afton stared at the young man and said, "You have done it now." A man walked
up to her and unchained the manacles from the others as he pulled her from
the deck. Afton and the others stared at this young man feeling he was being
led to the gallows. The steps down to the passage way were narrow and the
tightness of the passage way was felt as she was pulled through it. As the
man arrived in front of a door he knocked then entered. Gabrielle was hit
with the essence of Cinnamon as she entered the room. The man grinned at her
and said, "Make yourself home lad, the Captain will be with ye shortly."

After he had left, Gabrielle walked around taking in the essence of the
cabin. It was bigger than the area she had been held prisoner in. There was
a desk, chair, and a small table. Against the far wall stood a magnificent
four poster bed. The walls were well oiled, red wood and she could see the
vastness of the ocean through the small port hole. Gabrielle hated the
Ocean, she became sea sick every time she and Xena ended up on a ship. The
Bard reached down and put the pinch on her wrist, a trick the Warrior had
taught her to prevent seasickness.

She had paced every inch of this cabin and had just set down when the cabin
door opened and the woman she had seen at the helm stepped into the room.
The Bard stood up, her gaze fixed on the woman. She stepped past the Bard,
walked over and picked up a bottle of Port. Pouring herself a Goblet of the
liquid she drank it then turned her attention on this young man. She always
admired a little spunk as she walked up to Gabrielle her eyes penetrating
the Bard. "You had the nerve to tell me you didn't sign on."

Gabrielle nodded her head and said, "There has been big mistake, I have a
friend back at the Tavern who will be worried about me. Someone drugged me,
I did not come here willingly."

She reached down and touched Gabrielle's shackles and said, "That is
obvious, that is why you are in chains."

"Let me go, I don't want to be on a ship, it makes me sick to my stomach."

The woman paced the floor as she said, "You are an unsightly mess, I will
have a bath drawn up."

The Bard stepped back and said, "No, I like myself just like I am."

As the woman's body pressed up against the Bard's back she said, "Oh, but I
will like you just a little cleaner." Gabrielle walked away from the woman
and turned as she said, "Release me, whoever you are."

"Names, Sea, my father gave me the name cause I loved the Sea so much. Other
people call me Sea Troll, because I just toss out my line and troll what I
want into my net. Right now, you strike my pallet."

"I...I'm not what you think. Please, release me, I have someone I have to
get back to." The woman walked over and unlocked the shackles as they fell
to the floor she said, "There, you are loose, now if you really want to be
free, all you have to do is best me." She reached up and tossed a sword
toward the Bard. Gabrielle caught it and said, "I don't know much about
fighting with these."

The woman circled her and said, "Then it will be a hard lesson. En Guarde."
The woman's eyes gleamed at her as a mocking smile played over her mouth.
Gabrielle felt a flow of force course through her as she lunged at this
arogant woman. The woman side stepped, blocking her parry and began to look
for a vulnerable opening. Gabrielle struck out again and came within inches
of the woman but she forced her back and circled the room.

She teased the Bard bantering with her, provoking her anger. "What's the
matter, the room isn't that large, can't you even get me once. What did they
ever teach you, you fight like a woman." She trust firmly moving faster than
Gabrielle could predict, flicking her with the tip of her sword first on the
shoulder, then on her thigh.

Gabrielle watched the woman closely as she circled her cautiously, trying to
see the movement of the woman's hands and body before she made them.
Gabrielle twisted away and lunged once, twice and finally flicked the
woman's shirt on her right arm. Before she knew what was happening Sea had
rebound and lunged as she said, "I touch you once again, and twice. She
flicked the band that held the Bard's shirt at the throat, her shirt fell
open and exposed the roundness of loosened breast.

Gabrielle thrust once more but lunged too close to her left arm, and the
woman sliced her sword at the Bard again. She whirled just in time to avoid
Sea's blade. The woman stared at her and said, "You are a woman, beautiful
at that." Gabrielle felt her own breath coming in uneven gasps as she dodged
the woman's thrust again. She could see the woman's attention was now on her
exposed breasts and she lunged, flicking at Sea's shirt, opening it just
above the stomach, her eyes widened at this young woman's nerve. She grinned
and circled closer flicking repeatedly at the Bard's shirt, her pants,
intimately touching her lightly over her body. Tearing open the shirt more
and more till it hung from the Bard's arms. She felt an excitement and was
lightheaded with the tension and warmth that flooded her stomach.

Sea lunged out sending the Bard's sword into the air as she threw her sword
to the floor. She walked over and grabbed the Bard's shoulders, as she
pressed her mouth to the woman's throat. Gabrielle felt her own pulse beat
under Sea's lips. Sea stared into this woman's eyes and said, "Who are you?"

Gabrielle replied, "Gabrielle, I'm just a peasant girl from Potidaea. Please
don't. If you are going to kill me than do it"

Sea reached out and pulled the woman's shirt up tighter as she said, "Better
hold on to this, it could get drafty. If I wanted to kill you, you would be
dead." Her eyes seemed to savor every inch of the Bard's body as she
continued, "You are striking, why do you disguise yourself as a man?"

Gabrielle stared at the woman and said, "It was something I had to do to try
to save a friend of mine and now you have gone and ruined that."

Sea threw her head up in an uproarish laugh and said, "My fault, how can you
say that? I don't even know who this friend is"

The Bard stepped back against the wall and stood like a helpless animal as
she said, "Xena, she will be upset if you hurt me."

She stepped closer to Gabrielle and purposely let her body glide over the
Bard's as she said, "Seems to me, this Xena is in one of Krikis's jails and
isn't going anywhere, much less to help you."

Gabrielle felt her body quiver as she muttered, "Yeah, well you don't know
her, she has many skills."

Sea had walked over and picked up the two swords, placing them on a table
she walked over and sat down on the bed. Gazing at the Bard she said, "Come
on on over here and sit down, I promise, I won't bite."

"No thanks, I'll just stay here."

Sea stood and said, "I'll tell you one thing, you know how to get a person's
blood flowing. Our little confrontation has only peaked my interest. I want
nothing more right now then to bed you."

Gabrielle swallowed as she said, "But you thought I was a man."

The woman threw her hand in the air and said, "Man, woman, makes no
difference to me as long as they give me a good roll."

"Well, it won't be with me! And you had better let me go."

Sea walked over to Gabrielle, reaching out her left-hand she grabbed the
Bard's and said, "Come on, sit down with me, have some port, and we'll just
talk." Gabrielle hesitated but finally let the woman pull her toward the
bed. She sat down, looking up at the striking woman who was smiling down at
her. Sea poured a Goblet of Port and handed it to the woman as she said,
"Drink, it's not drugged, you just saw me drink it, and I am fine. After
that little go round, I say you could use it."

Gabrielle accepted the Goblet and at the same time trying to hold her shirt
up. She stared at this woman. In her many travels with Xena, she thought she
had seen most things but this awesome woman was someone she hadn't counted
on. "I'm not thirsty, if you just let me go."

Sea reached out and cupped the Bard's chin in the palm of her hand and
replied, "You must understand this, I paid good money for you, I own you.
You are on my ship now and you will do as I say. Fight as you might, you
will not win."

Gabrielle jerked her head away and said, "You can't own what is not yours. I
am an independent person and belong to no one."

Sea smiled, "Wrong, you belong to me. Now finish the drink, I will have a
tub of water brought in. You can bathe, use the salts I have on the desk. I
will let you wear some of my clothes. I think I have a silk blouse and a
pair of leather pants that will look striking on you." She walked over and
pulled the articles of clothing from a trunk and laid them on the bed.

Gabrielle answered, "I don't feel like bathing."

Sea sat down by the woman and said, "What shall I call you?"

The Bard glared at her and said, "My name is Gabrielle." "Well, Gabrielle,
if you don't bathe yourself, then I'll do it for you."

She stood up and walked to the door then turned and said, "The swords, on
the table, don't touch them unless you wish to die. Have a good bath and I
will return."


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