Queen To Queen
Disclaimer: See part one
Subtext warning: Yes, that's also in part one.
Timeline: Season five in the sense that Gabby has had her locks shorn and is something of a warrior babe herself. However Xena isn't pregnant in this story and she never was and I've taken huge creative license and decided to have Ephiny alive and kicking as a pose to dead and, well, lying down I guess!!
Well, after receiving sufficient feedback for the first part of this story, I've thumped out another (part) it kind of took me a little while longer than I'd originally anticipated due to some unforeseen but rather hilarious circumstances. Hey, these things happen. (I won't go into detail but if you're curious email and I'll fill you in ;OP ) I've had a lot of emails from people asking where I got the idea for Nessyna. So to all of you who were wondering, the answer is that she is modelled on my little sister. Awwwwwwww. The physical description of Nessyna in this part of the story fits my sister to a T. (Let it be known that I don't usually describe my sister as having a 'shapely rear'.) I'm still after feedback and I will promptly reply to any emails I receive. So here it is, Part 2. Please enjoy it, if you don't I'm really sorry for not writing you a good enough story. <Sniff, sniff>
This is dedicated to whoever enjoys it, and of course Walu, my pet elephant. <vbg>
"Hey Gabrielle, by the sounds of your belly I'd say you're headed for some grub." She grinned "Mind if I join you?"
"Of course not, you can fill me in on all the gossip I've missed
out on since I was last here." Gabrielle smiled back at her friend.
After an extremely hearty meal, Eponin suggested they take a walk around the village so Gabrielle could take a look at 'the state of the nation'. The Queen eagerly agreed and they set off. They had been roaming around for about a half a candle mark when Gabrielle noticed a crowd gathering at what she guessed was one of the soldiers practice fields."Looks like something interesting is going on over there, let's go take a look." Eponin nodded and they headed over. The crowd was bigger than it looked but it quickly parted to let their Queen move forward to the front.
Two figures faced each other, their stances signifying they were about to spar. Gabrielle recognised the taller of the two to be Solari but she didn't know the other Amazon.The fighter was slightly shorter than Gabrielle, with beautiful curly dark hair that fell to just above her shapely rear. She was wearing a leather tunic and the most magnificent armour that Gabrielle had ever seen. It was polished gold and it dazzled in the late afternoon sun. It had what looked to be a very elaborate ensign engraved on it but the Gabrielle was too far away to see it in detail. She also couldn't make out the Amazon's facial features but she guessed her to be quite young, a novice about to be shown the ropes by a master, perhaps. The woman beside Gabrielle groaned, causing her to snap out of her revere.
"What is she doing?" Questioned Eponin.
"What is who doing?" Asked the confused bard.
"Solari. I'm starting to think that gobshite has a deathwish. The girl she's about to spar with is the one and only Queen Nessyna." She finished.
"So the rumours are true? She is that good?" Asked an incredulous Gabrielle.
"My dear Queen that girl could beat a small army using her bare hands. The 'rumours' are actual fact."
"Then this I have to see." The bard turned her attention back to the field.
The referee gave the signal and both Amazons drew their swords and began circling each other.
"I don't think I can watch." Eponin groaned.
It was Solari who struck first, hoping to catch her opponent off guard by feigning left and quickly striking out to her right but the young queen had anticipated these tactics and blocked the strike with ease. This seemed to infuriate Solari who lashed out aiming blow after blow at Nessyna who blocked them, one after another. It may have been her imagination, but Gabrielle could have sworn Nessyna was laughing at Solari's attempts to disarm her. Gabrielle watched as the young Amazon leapt into the air,
somersaulted twice and landed about three feet behind Solari. With out missing a beat, she aimed a well-placed kick between the taller warrior's shoulder blades. Solari staggered forward but did not fall, turning quickly; she aimed another jab at Nessyna. This time, however, she hit her mark, her sword cutting a deep gash into Nessyna's upper arm. The Amazon Queen barely
noticed the blood flow down her arm. Stepping carefully backwards, she motioned for Solari to have another go at her, this time, when Solari swung her sword arm, Nessyna, with movements as quick as lightning, reached out and grabbed her by the wrist. Using both arms she twisted Solari's arm and sent her whole body spinning. The stunned Amazon landed with a 'thud' on her back. Nessyna leaned over her, her blade inches from Solari's neck.
"Two words Solari, that's all it takes." She breathed, only those near the front of the crowed could hear her.
"You...," Solari struggled for air. "Win." She finally choked out. Nessyna quickly sheathed her sword and helped Solari up. The crowed surged forward to congratulate Nessyna.
Gabrielle turned to Eponin. "You were right, she is good." Eponin pretended to be shocked and hurt.
"My Queen, how could you ever doubt me?" She chuckled and began
walking towards Solari who was dusting herself off.
Gabrielle scanned the crowd of women for Nessyna but the Queen was nowherein sight. She grabbed a young girl who was walking past.
"Hey, did you see where Nessyna went?" She asked
"Yes my Queen, the other girl Queen headed towards the forest.
She sometimes likes to sit by the river." Gabrielle thanked the girl who scurried
off to tell her friends that she had been of assistance to the great Queen Gabrielle.
"Eponin, I'm going for a walk, alone, that means no Royal Guard. Please tell Xena to wait at the village for me, if she ever wakes up." Gabrielle added.
"Sure thing boss." Eponin grinned and headed after a limping
Gabrielle headed off in the direction of the tree line. It wasn't long before she could hear the running water of the small river that ran past the Amazon settlement. Another few feet brought her to a clearing in the trees and she saw Nessyna, sitting cross-legged on the riverbank, staring into the dense thicket. Gabrielle cleared her throat to get the queens attention.
Without turning around she spoke.
"Who is it? I asked to be left alone." There was no anger in her tone, Gabrielle noticed. There was something there though, sadness maybe?
"I'm sorry." Gabrielle started. She moved to stand in front of Nessyna. "My name is Gabrielle. I'm, uh, the Queen of these Amazons." Gabrielle mentally kicked herself. What a lame introduction. Boy did she hate titles.
"Oh. Well then I guess you can sit down." Nessyna patted the ground at Gabrielle's feet and smiled slightly. Gabrielle obliged and flopped down onto the grassy bank.
"Thanks." She returned Nessyna's almost unnoticeable smile with
one of her trademark beamers. She was now able to see her southern counterpart
in greater detail. Nessyna was truly a site to behold. She had the biggest soft
brown eyes that Gabrielle had ever seen. Her skin was extremely dark and Gabrielle
guessed it to be her natural complexion and not just bronze from
the sun. Her dark curly hair had streaks of blonde running through it and it fell around her face like a hood.
Suddenly Nessyna looked up at Gabrielle and smiled. Not just a small twitch of her lips but a big wide full-blown grin. Her teeth were pearly white except for one incisor that was pure gold. Gabrielle shot her a questioning look.
"What is it?" She asked, watching as Nessyna's eyes changed colour as her expression changed. She already felt a strong, almost maternal need to protect the young Queen.
"Nothing, well actually, no nothing." Nessyna answered mysteriously.
Gabrielle kept pressing.
"No really, speak your mind what's up?" She asked again. This time she was rewarded with an answer.
"It's you!" Nessyna smiled.
"Me?" Gabrielle was now well and truly confused.
"You, Gabrielle, Queen, bard, diplomat, legend." Nessyna would have kept going if it wasn't for Gabrielle's interruption.
"Hold your horses there Nessyna." She began.
"Huh?" Gabrielle grunted, confusion now almost overwhelming her.
"Call me Nessie. I know everyone does behind my back. I don't mind though, I think it's funny." 'Nessie' giggled and for the first time Gabrielle saw her not as a Queen or mighty warrior, but as the sixteen-year-old kid she really was.
"Ok then Nessie, where are you getting all this bard, legend,
hero crap?" Gabrielle asked, trying not to blush.
"Oh just from what I've heard, you know, around the town. Everybody
loves you." She answered almost matter of factly. Gabrielle couldn't hold it
any longer. She blushed furiously. Nessie giggled again.
Xena watch the exchange between the two women and smiled. So this was Nessyna? She certainly was beautiful and judging by the condition Solari was in when they had talked, moments ago, a good fighter. She looked at Gabrielle, letting her eyes soak up her beauty. She certainly was radiant today. It took all Xena's self control not to rush over and..well... do stuff to her bard. The little voice that was her conscience piped up. Now Xena, control yourself. After all, there are children present.
Children? Ah yes. The young Queen. Xena switched her attention to Nessyna. She felt a strange flutter in her stomach and a feeling of protectiveness towards the Amazon. It wasn't like the flutter she got from watching Gabrielle, it was more maternal. Feeling guilty for spying, she decided to make her presence known.
"What's the joke?" Xena's husky voice asked from somewhere behind Gabrielle.
"Hey sleepy head!! Finally managed to get up I see." Gabrielle
looked up and prayed her cheeks were no longer a deep crimson colour. Xena stuck
her tongue out at Gabrielle and threw her a lopsided grin.
" So do I have to introduce myself or would you like to do the
honours Gabrielle?" Xena asked, nodding her in Nessyna's direction.
"Gods above where are my manners?" Gabrielle threw her hands
up in mock frustration. "Xena I would like for you to meet my new friend and
a fellow Amazon Queen, Nessyna of Corthepius. Nessyna, this my friend Xena."
Nessyna's eyes opened so wide that Xena thought her eyeballs
would pop out.In one blinding flash, every nightmare Nessyna had ever had, and
there had been many, replayed in her head. She gasped and jumped back when Xena
offered her hand to shake. She turned and fled, running deep into the darkening
"Was it something I said?" Xena asked, utterly confused and a little bit worried. It would be dark soon and Nessyna had disappeared.
"I don't understand what happened Xena. She was all smiles a
minute ago. Then you came and she ran off like a startled lamb. I just watch
this kid kick Solari's butt and believe me, she does not strike me as the type
that scares easily." Gabrielle looked confused. "I hope she comes back soon,
she had a nasty gash on her arm and I'm afraid if it isn't looked at soon it
may turn into
something a lot more serious."
"I'll tell you what Gabrielle. We'll give her some time alone to sort herself out but if she's not back by one hour after sun down then we'll make chase."
Reluctantly Gabrielle agreed and they headed back in the direction of the village.
CHAPTER 2 - Race Against Time.
All Nessyna could do was run. She didn't dare stop to rest or check to see if she was being followed. She ran until she thought her lungs would burst. Finally, after about two hours she stopped to take in her surroundings. It was then that she realised that she didn't have a clue where she was. She had often gone for long rambling walks by the river, she loved to get out, but she had never gone this deep into the woods before. She was well and truly lost. Finding a suitable looking log, she sat down and took a deep breath. The key here was to remain calm. She was a Queen after all. There would be a search party out to get her in no time. But what if Xena was part of the party? What if she came after her alone? Nessyna checked to make sure she had her sword. If Xena was behind then she would have no choice but to fight her. Maybe then the nightmares would end. She thought about Gabrielle. Was she part of it as well? Was she there, in the shadows, one of the faceless people she couldn't see? She truly hoped not. She really liked Gabrielle. The bard reminded her of her sister.
If Xena was Gabrielle's friend, then how could she kill Xena? Looking at the sword in her hand she threw it into the darkness. She was sick of it. Sick of the endless sparring matches against endless amounts of gung-ho Amazon warriors. Sick of having nobody to talk to. Sick of the nightmares that plagued her sleep. It wasn't fair. What had she done to deserve this?
She looked down as a single tear fell and trickled down her cheek and splashed onto her bloody hand. BLOOD!? Where in Hades had that come from? She carefully poked and prodded at the rather large, deep cut on her upper arm. Solari, the sparring match, she hadn't noticed the blood or registered any pain but it was all catching up on her now. She was hungry, cold and exhausted. Suddenly she felt hot and dizzy. She tried to stand, but her legs buckled and she fell heavily to the ground, smashing the back of her head on a rock. The last thing she saw before she slipped into peaceful unconsciousness was the towering figure of a familiar looking man.
Ares smiled to himself as he watched the young Queen's eyelids flutter shut."So far, so good. Soon you will be mine and there's nothing you or Xena or anyone else can do stop me." With that, he disappeared as suddenly as he had arrived.
Gabrielle pushed her dinner around her plate with her spoon. It was well after dark and Nessyna still hadn't appeared. She was so worried, she couldn't even eat. This did not go unnoticed by Xena.
"Ok. It's been long enough. I'm going out to find her." Gabrielle
looked up at Xena. "I guess that look on your face means you're coming with
me." She smiled and was rewarded with a small smirk from Gabrielle.
"Just you try and stop me!" She teased, jumping up. "Xena?"
Her tone was serious this time. "It's hard to explain but I feel
like we, me and Nessyna, have some sort of connection and I have a bad feeling, that something terrible has happened to her and that it's up to us to help her." Gabrielle finished.
"I feel it too." Xena whispered and wiped the tear that fell
from Gabrielle's closed eye. She pulled the blonde into a tight hug and rested
her chin on Gabrielle's head. "I feel it to." She repeated as her own tears
They set off in the direction Nessyna had gone in only hours earlier. Xena pushed Argo to the limit, only stopping to make sure they were on the right trail. Gabrielle rode on a horse borrowed from Eponin. They had been riding for a full hour when Xena pulled Argo to a sudden stop.
"Here." She mumbled.
"What is it Xena?"
"Ares was here, I can feel him. That means Nessyna has to be
close by. We go on foot from here."
Xena and Gabrielle dismounted and secured their horse's reigns to a low branch on a nearby tree. They followed a narrow trail towards a clearing in the trees. Both women gasped. There, lying on the ground in a pool of blood was Nessyna.
Xena was first to react. Racing back to Argo, she pulled her medicine kit and some blankets from the saddlebags and hurried back to the clearing. Gabrielle was inspecting Nessyna's head wound.
"She lost a lot of blood Xena, we need to get her to the healer
and fast." Bending down Xena wrapped a makeshift bandage around Nessyna's head
to staunch the flow of blood. Gabrielle wrapped her carefully in the blankets.
"Is he still here?" She whispered.
"Ares?" Xena asked. Gabrielle nodded. "No he's gone but for
how long we don't know. We have to move quickly. Are you ready?" Gabrielle nodded
and gathered up the kit. Bending down, Xena carefully and gently picked Nessyna
up and headed back to the horses.
CHAPTER 3 - Foul Play?
Arriving back at the village, Xena and Gabrielle headed straight to the healer's hut. Nessyna still hadn't regained consciousness and her pulse was getting weaker. She was running a high fever and her breathing was thready. Every so often she would moan in pain. The healer got straight to work, cleaning and sewing the wounds on Nessyna's arm and head. She mixed a concoction of herbs and forced it down the queen's throat, hoping it would help bring the fever down. Nessyna thrashed on the bed, she was having what looked and sounded like an extremely horrific nightmare.
"I'm going to have to tie her down, I don't want her stitches
to burst. Xena helped the healer restrain Nessyna by tying her legs and arms
to the bed. Gabrielle choked back a sob.
"Noooooooo. Get off me,,,,,, Leave me alone,,,,,,,,, I'll kill you. XENA I'LL KILL YOU." Nessyna screamed in her sleep Xena jumped away from the side of the bed in horror. What was that all about? She looked at Gabrielle, who shrugged. The
healer cleared her throat.
"I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask the two of you to leave. Your presence is obviously distressing to the child. Anyway, you both look exhausted. Please, go, you may return in the morning." Gabrielle sighed and walked to the door. Xena followed. Outside, a small crowd had gathered. Ephiny stepped forward.
"What happened? We saw you riding in. What's wrong with Queen
Nessyna." She asked. Gabrielle filled her in, skipping past the part about Ares
and what Nessyna was yelling. She then politely excused herself and Xena, pulling
her warrior by the arm towards their hut. Xena pulled her arm free and stopped.
"What is it Xena?" Gabrielle asked. She was confused. Confused
about her feelings towards Nessyna, confused about her feelings towards Xena,
although that was nothing new, and she was confused about Ares and Nessyna's
threats to kill Xena.
"Something isn't right Gabrielle. I smell god trouble. I can't
help but feel that there is a connection between Ares' presence in the forest
and Nessyna's fear of me. I think it's about time we visit your friend Armetis.
Maybe she can help us." With that she turned and headed towards the temple.
Gabrielle sighed and followed.
To Be Continued.
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