Disclaimers: Xena and Gabrielle and others belong to Renpics. No copyright infringement is intended! Raven is all mine!
The wind was blowing, the sky was blue and cloudless, the warrior, astride her warhorse, gazed down at her companion.
The bard, walking ahead, hands waving as she wound a story in her head. Suddenly she turned, glowing green eyes looking up into deep blue ones,
"Xena", I know the story!! I have it figured out….I can do this!!!"
Xena smiled softly at her bard, knowing this excitement would take her into realms that were unknown to the warrior, ever stoic and always forever at a lost for words herself, she was glad for Gabrielle, knowing how much this would mean to the little bard.
Gods..I love her so much, Xena thought, it’s not fair. I should let her go. The thought just broke her heart. I can’t, I can’t.
I love her too much.
Thinking it was about time too make camp, Xena spoke, "Gabrielle, I have something special for supper, so are you interested? Knowing she had a roasted pheasant, stuffed with herbs and potatoes, hidden in her saddlebag. Xena knew how Gabrielle so enjoyed a treat. It brought her great joy just to bring this small thing to Gabrielle. Xena watched as her bard turned and with a face flushed with pleasure, looked up at Xena, emerald eyes glittering with a joy Xena never tired of seeing.
"Xena, you know, when it comes to food, my love, I’m always interested!!"
"So I have to know…??"
‘I love you Xena, always have, my warrior…"
Gods she thought to herself; I have waited so long to say that to you; out loud she gently looked into Xena’s eyes and said softly, "I thought you knew that."
The bard slowly raised her hands to the warrior’s tired, chiselled, face, she ran her hands through the warrior’s long dark hair, and slowly, placing her hands on the warrior’s face drew her into a soft kiss.
Xena thought her heart was shattering!! The love of her life had just declared her love for her!! I must be dreaming, this can’t be real….as Gabrielle’s small, soft hands took the mystery away. The food was quickly forgotten as Gabrielle’s kiss bore Xena away…
They made love with a passion neither one knew the other had. As they lay together after, holding each other, in each others arms, Gabrielle touched Xena’s face, "I love you warrior."
"I..love you, bard."
Just as Xena was about to further consummate her love for Gabrielle, a scream came from the distance. "WARRIOR ..?"
"Damn!!!" Xena groaned, as she rolled away from the women she loved more than life itself..and quickly donned her leathers, taking her battle stance, drawing her sword, she prepared for the worst.
"I know that you are there!! Answer me!!"
"I’m here, and by Hades you had better have a good reason!!" Her voice low and deadly, Xena’s lip curled up in a character sneer. The sword out and gleaming deadly in the moonlight, as Gabrielle’s breath caught in her throat; there was nothing that could make her breath catch in her throat as much as the sight now before her, her warrior, in battle stance, ready to protect against… anything…anyone…
"Warrior;" said a weary voice, "I have been given a summons; Please..?"
He asked in a strained voice…as he fell to his knees…
"Do .. you know a warrior named….Raven?"
Xena’s sword slowly lowered; she looked as if she had been struck by lightning…"Raven" she whispered…."Oh gods…Raven…."
"Raven…’ .the voice harsh, Xena stopped as if struck by a thunderbolt. Standing as if numb, she slowly turned to Gabrielle and the young man now standing in the distance. Eyes almost blank and staring….
Xena’s voice faltered, as she stumbled around the name. Her body started to falter, as a look of sheer disbelief flitted across her eyes..
Gabrielle, seeing the warrior’s falter, grabbed for the body she had only recently come to know, she wanted her to know no more pain….
"Xena…."she whispered softly….
Xena’s eye’s had lost that focused look, Gabrielle had come to know, associate with her warrior. We’ll go Xena; she said as the warrior seemed to lose all thought.
Head down, Xena said; "I have to go…."
Her voice, almost choked, as if she just swallowed dust, her eyes far back in the past. Gabrielle’s heart broke at the sight.
Numbly, Xena nodded at the man.
We will follow as soon as we break camp., Gabrielle said, quickly. Bowing deeply the man turned to await them outside the camp.
Xena, turning to Gabrielle with an almost helpless expression on her face, "I…I.."
"Don’t," Gabrielle, said softly, "I know…I know"
She quickly took charge and quickly the camp was packed and, for a change it was Gabrielle who took charge and led the way. She knew her lover was haunted by the demons of her past…..
Gabrielle was determined to stand by her love, no matter what it took, Xena, would not be alone.
It took two days to reach their destination, the small kingdom of Dallieos.
They arrived at their destination. Xena, haggard and drawn, Gabrielle walking strong beside her warrior.
The dark one who watched their arrival from the parapet, sighed deeply and wiping a weary hand across her face, turned and limped slowly back to the guards quarters. There taking a quick draught of port to drown some of the pain; she slowly limped into the throne room;
There to meet her past;
There to meet her once heart;
O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O
Xena walked slowly to the fortress, the guards, moving back slowly, let her go through. No one stopped her progress.
The guards slowly took her into the throne room, and that’ s when Xena’s heart stopped.
She was a tall woman; dark haired and amber eyed, at least the one eye she could see, her body; covered with so many scars, it was almost painful to see. Her hair was so short, it could almost not be there. A black patch covered her left eye, her body covered in scant leather garb, to make it easier to move around; her arms bare at the shoulders, the massive scar on her right arm and across her mid-waist, leading down to where the short leather loincloth covered her lower body; showed her prowess in battle, and perhaps an even greater will to survive.
Xena watched as the other warrior sat down, wearily, almost imperceptibly favouring her right leg. A dark gash, just hidden on the back of the warrior's leg…..hidden only when she sat down. Her eye burning into the eyes of both women, she made no apologies…she was…just immeasurably tired;
It showed. Wearily she looked into Xena’s eyes;
"Xena, there is war here. I can not handle it alone. I’m asking you for your help, please…"
"Why should I help you?" Xena asked softly.
"For a time long ago;" Came the quiet reply.
Gabrielle, quietly, stayed to the back round as she watched the interaction between the two warrior’s clashing eyes.
"You have a nerve," Xena said.
"I owe you nothing. Nothing!!!
Xena’s eyes were a cold blue; yet there was a fire in them that even Gabrielle could see;
The dark haired warrior said nothing, just slowly got to her feet. Gripping her sword as a cane she preceded to leave the room.
Looking back at the two, her weary face looked at the two of them, and hanging her head, continued to walk from the room. From that angle the terrible gash that ran down her right leg was apparent, even Xena gasped at the sight.
Without turning, Raven said; "Xena, I can’t do this alone. Your rooms are ready. I’ll speak to you in the morning. Goodnight." Leaning heavily on her sword, the wounded warrior straightened up slowly, turning back once, nodding to both, she left.
Stepping out, the dark warrior took a deep breath…running a hand over her face, she looked over at the Captain of the guard….
Holding out her hand….she promptly passed out!!
Taking the dark one up, the guard carried her to her room…he knew she would be all-right. She had to be….the kingdom depended on it….
O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O
Xena was restless, even looking down at the bard haden’t helped. The day had been spent in uselessly trying to find out what was going on, and getting nowhere. She got up and walked irresistibly up to the parapet. Seeing a dark figure with a leg half over the edge, Xena approached it.
"Raven…." Xena said softly.
"Xena…" the voice, soft as always, still caressed Xena’s skin.
The dark haired warrior sighed deeply, as if fearing this very question.
"I lost sight of you during the battle, I thought I heard you cry out; Gods you were so very young;" she said, running her hands through her short hair, turning her back to Xena, so as not to let her grief be known.
"I wasn’t paying attention…" a small laugh, almost a snort of derision;
" Then my arm?? I still don’t know how that happened. This said with a tight grin. I lost control of what I was doing…then I felt a strike to my belly, and, I’d been in enough battles to know when I had lost. The wounds were bad...I knew that."
"Damni!! Xena!!" The warrior’s voice belied it’s pain; Xena could not see her face but felt the shudder of pain run through her as well. Raven’s back was still turned to the other warrior…this was just too much for her…the memories….
"I couldn’t see you!!! Oh, gods…." Gripping the hard stone of the wall, her hands, contorting….pulling at ?
"I….couldn’t see you…." Xena could see the slump of Raven’s shoulders as she gripped the wall she was straddling, but she was so moved she could do nothing but listen to the tale that was being told.
"I thought you were gone…and it was my fault…"
"I just laid over and prepared to die. By the time night had fallen I felt myself giving in to the night…I knew you were gone and it was my fault. I was ready to sleep and face my punishment in Tartaras."
"I let go, Xena…at that point I had nothing left to live for…nothing else to give…." at that the warrior turned to stare at Xena, her one eye glowing almost golden in the slight moonlight, involuntarily Xena felt a shiver run through her. "after the battle, i was wounded badly. I looked for you…..you weren’t there!!!"
"I dragged myself off, and waited to die. My arm, my belly, I didn’t think I would heal.."
"I prayed, Xena, not just for you….For me too, I must have passed out….I don’t have too much memory of the time after the battle. I woke up in a cave, my arm was sewn back together and there was fragrant smoke wafting throughout the cave. I guess I fell asleep again. When I awoke the next time, I was here…don’t quite know how that happened…but I was here in a warm bed and people were looking after me. I didn’t know how much time had passed. I didn’t find out until later, by then it was too late, too much time had passed, by then…I thought you were gone;"
"I….just couldn’t go back…not to that.. Not to you; you had your own army by then; you had become the "Destroyer of Nations" I knew, by your reputation you would have killed me if I so much as came into your camp. I just felt it best that I didn’t.
I just couldn’t….you have to understand, Xena, I couldn’t. I felt responsible for what happened…I taught you… Oh....Gods, help me;
I was in love with, you….I couldn’t take that responsibility…I gave up…
Xena…" the voice wracked with pain…."I just couldn’t…"
"I looked for you, everywhere," Xena said softly; I saw where you had been dragged off, the tracks were wolf tracks. I thought you had been taken by scavengers. I didn’t know what to do…I couldn’t find you…the tracks disappeared…it was like you had never existed…..I kept thinking that the scavengers had dragged you away; Xena’s voice started to break at this point…
In a way I was; the dark one said….. her one eye glowed suddenly as she quickly brought her other leg up to the top of the stone wall. Looking at Xena, Raven sighed;
I have a patrol to do, stay here, guard the fortress, I’ll see you in the morning. I hope to explain everything then. With one last look at Xena, she quickly slid over the wall and was gone from sight. Xena gasped and then moved to the wall, looking down over the two stories she looked for raven’s body, but could find nothing.
Xena…a soft voice called out. Spinning around Xena looked into the soft green eyes of her beloved Gabrielle. I woke up…you weren’t there…I was worried…I…
It’s Ok, Gabrielle,…..
I just needed some air, come on let’s go back. As they turned to leave a howl rent the air, Xena turning quickly, her sword already in her hands, looked out at the countryside, and watched as a large wolf ran across the fields beyond the fortress, over towards the enemy’s camp.
Gabrielle watched as the set of the warrior’s shoulders slumped, and she knelt slowly to her knees…her sword laying out in front of her; and her head hanging down in resignation.
Gabrielle quickly went to the warrior and without a word, led her up and down to their room.
Getting back to their room, Gabrielle wisely said nothing, going to the warrior, she gently put her arms around her waist.
Holding her close, she said, quietly; Xena, I love you. I think we should take up where we left off, i need to feel you, to hold you, to love you. I don’t know what’s going on here; I just need to feel your love.
Turning, Xena’s ice blue eyes looked deep into emerald green ones, and taking a long slow breath, lowered her mouth to the uplifted one of her bard. As their lips met and the night began to fade away, another howl broke the still night air, but by then the two lovers were oblivious to everything but themselves.
The next morning Xena gently extradited herself from the tangle of limbs that were her and Gabrielle. Dressing quietly she left the room and went down the stairs. She had questions, and by the Gods she would have answers.
She was shocked therefore when she went into the mess hall to find a thoroughly beaten warrior lying on one of the tables.
Raven….her voice no more than a whisper…she rushed to the downed warriors side.
Xena, a small smile bore across her now bloody face, the warrior’s arm reached up weakly to grasp Xena’s arm, I knew I could trust you to hold down the fort; a weak smile formed on the downed warrior’s lips;
Sighing deeply, Raven, started to close her eye, I really need some rest now, she whispered; the dark woman was trying to desperately stay awake, her one amber eye was closing fast; I hope you understand, I quite can’t get to what I promised you last night;
P…please, wait until I wake…I think I’ll be healed by then…and with that the one-eyed warrior slid down into unconsciousness.
Xena watched helplessly as Raven was carried away. It was only then that she noticed the numerous new wounds on the dark haired warriors body, shocked she went to the Captain of the Guard.
What in Hades name is going on around here? She demanded of him. How could you let her go out and be hurt like that? What kind of army is she leading anyhow?
"Warrior;" the aged voice came to her softly…
You don’t know,….she is bound to us. She is our saviour. More than once she has saved our kingdom, we never knew how she came to us, only that she was hurt and in need. We took care of her and to our surprise, in only a few days she was up and about. She swore then to protect us, and has, these last ten years. But this is even something, she cannot handle, this warlord, who would try to take our home.
She knew you, she said you would help.
What about; the wolf? Xena asked, afraid of the answer even before she heard it.
The wolf came when Raven did, we didn’t ask because it never did any harm. For ten years now, it and she have protected us, we have never asked for anything more.
No, Xena , said softly.
You’re just asking her to kill herself. Turning quickly away from the stunned man, she quickly made her way to the room she and Gabrielle shared.
Waking her lover was a lot easier than Xena had anticipated. The bard almost seemed to have been waiting for her. Gabrielle, she said softly, I have to go out on patrol, check on Raven for me. She’s hurt and I don’t want her doing anymore than is necessary. Slowly she gathered her love in her arms and kissed her farewell.
Gabrielle dressed quickly, and went down the stairs to find Raven. Although the guard at the door was less than receptive, at the mention of Xena’s name he allowed her entrance. Xena was right, she thought, she is hurt. As she moved through the darkened room and came closer to the bed her eyes opened wide in horror and anguish. The dark haired warrior lay on her back…numerous wounds covered her already scared body. Gabrielle felt her heart break for this woman. Sitting quietly by the bed, holding Raven’s cold hand, she sat to await Xena’s return.
The sun was almost down when Xena returned. She found Gabrielle in Raven’s room.
How is she?
Gabrielle turned at the sound and though her heart broke at the sight of the deep concern in Xena’s eyes, she answered, she was very badly hurt ,Xena;
I can’t believe it but she has been healing almost in front of me, I can’t understand it. I’ve sat here all day, and the wounds are just closing….Xena? What’s going on here?
Come on ,Gabrielle. I think I have to explain something to you. Xena held out her hand, and though the bard was reluctant to leave, she took Xena’s hand and they quietly left the room.
Once again in their room, Xena, her arms around the bard, was content to just hold her love close, if only for a moment.
There is a very old legend, I heard about it many years ago from my Mother. Xena had begun so softly, Gabrielle had to strain to hear her. There was a race of people…who lived close to our village; the old ones called them the Wolven ….my Mother never really went beyond who they were or what they were….she only told me , they were an old and ancient people, and they were there to help.
I remember sometimes, as a child, I would hear wolves howling around the village…but my Mother would always calm my fears by saying it was the Wolven….and all would be safe. It was said the Wolven protected those who were strong, not only in battle, but those also who were strong in heart….at this point Xena’s voice seemed to halt a little and her eyes grew dimmer as she became more lost in her memories.
By the time i was seventeen, a dark haired warrior came to our village. I had always been attracted to the warrior’s art, so when she came and set up camp outside the village. Naturally I had to go and see for myself;
Gabrielle…i had never seen anything like Raven;
She practised at all hours….I had never seen anyone who could use a sword like she could.
I…I would sneak up during the day, I had found a hollow in the hills where I could watch her. Xena’s eyes turned cloudy, as she turned the bard, Gabrielle could feel her pain, and just held her tight while Xena’s shoulders shook with a long buried emotion.
I thought I was in love with her;
I was in love with her… she let me come to the forest every day…for a week or more ….I would watch her as she moved…she used techniques I had never seen before. Later she told me she had learned the moves from a people she called the; "Japons", they were Masters in the art of warfare; far away across the sea she said. Their art she learned while away for some time; she told me that it was almost a game to these people; who had developed this method of killing, a game not for one as young as me. She sent me away. I stayed, Gabrielle; I watched and copied her; I continued to sneak up and watch her. I knew one day I would prove myself to her not only as a warrior she could trust…
But, and with that she looked deep into Gabrielle’s eyes, her large, callused, hand reaching to cup the Bard’s face, I…I wanted to prove, I could be someone she could…..love. Looking into her love’s eyes she saw only understanding, taking a moment to kiss her love, Xena continued on with her story.
"She was so incredible to me Gabrielle!! I tried so hard…and she didn’t want me!!!
She sent me home with my tail between my legs, and the next day when I went back, she was gone…her camp moved. I tracked her and even though it took me two days I found her, and I watched her again…hiding in a hollow in the forest.
Then one day, as she was doing her "Kattas" ? she turned to where I was laying; she said to me, What do you want girl?!! I though my heart would freeze in my chest. She knew Iwas there, had known for the whole time…."
Breaking from the story long enough, Xena turned to Gabrielle, softly taking her face in her hands, looked deep in her soft green eyes….she kissed her love, softly, deeply, before raising tortured eyes to her love.
"I need you to know this about me, my love; at the time I thought it was just Ares… you know? He had his eyes on me even then…
I know, that…. Raven…leaving…that way…was a part of it too. I loved her ,Gabrielle…
She, told me that wasn’t her way. That she protected women and …..young ones like me. She called me a kid….at this Xena laughed deep in her throat, and looking at her Bard knew there was something Gabrielle could relate too."
Xena’s voice grew soft and she looked deep into her Bard’s eyes as she said this. The Bard’s soft green eyes smiled in recognition of this statement.
"Anyway," Xena resumed in her soft, husky voice, "after she chased me away again; I kept coming back. I started to emulate her, her moves, her practices, in a field below where she was camped…
She noticed me then, and that’s when I think I started to sway her…and, her heart…
She let me into her camp, and Gabrielle….she was so gentle with me;
I had never known that, being with some one could ever be like that…"
Gabrielle’s soft gaze meet her lover’s eyes in a deep look, having just gone through something like that herself, she knew exactly where Xena was speaking from. The two sat holding each other, quietly in the slowly darkening room, quietly content to be in each others arms.
Suddenly Xena stiffened as her eyes grew accustomed to the dim light;
"Oh, Gods , Gabrielle…." Xena’s voice a harsh whisper….
"She’s going out again….we have to stop her!!!!"
"I know what she’s doing….she’s doing, hit and miss raids!!" Xena’s body had taken a battle stance. Standing up, Xena slowly let her Bard slid down her body, holding Gabrielle close, her arms tight around the Bard, she looked down into the eyes she loved so well….
"I know what’s she’s doing; Gabrielle, we have to help her……I known what’s going on……by the Gods…."
Grabbing Gabrielle by the hand, Xena turned and started out the door.
"Xena…" Gabrielle’s voice came softly out of the dark, "what will you do?"
Do? Turningly suddenly, Xena grabbed her lovers shoulders in her strong firm hands, bending slightly to look deeply in her lover’s eyes…
"Maybe I’ll run with her. I have to do something!"
Gabrielle’s eyes opened wide as she stopped and held her lovers hand. "What do you mean, you’ll run with her??"
"Gabrielle…" Xena clutched her lovers upper arms, and looking deep into them,
"My love, she’s Wolven….I don’t know how…but she is!!!"
"I have to help; it would never have happened if she hadn’t stayed , when I asked her too…"
At the time they were arguing in the hall, a terrible howl rent the air.
"Oh Gods, I’m too late…" Xena almost moaned as she ran towards the front gate, yelling to the guards to open the gate.
Leaving Gabrielle, Xena quickly ran to the open front gate; she ran out the gate before Gabrielle even knew what was going on…chasing after a large dark-haired wolf.
Her dark green eyes, staring long until the two running figures were gone.
In her heart, she honestly didn’t know who to pray for…
Waiting in the throne room, Gabrielle, paced the hours until Heilios’s chariot was starting to just breach the sky.
Running towards the open door, Gabrielle was stopped short; a large limping dog??…no..a wolf…a large dark wolf…
Gabrielle stopped to stare at the wounded animal, as it limped to the front of the throne room. Her heart almost broke when she saw the blood dripping from the animals body; the torn, bloody fur; the one golden eye looking at her hauntingly.
As Xena suddenly burst in to the room, Milkos , the wannabe Warlord, followed short on her heels. Bleeding from a dozen wounds; they both circled each other.
Gabrielle’s breath caught in her throat, the great dying animal, lying at her side; her love was battling to the death. Their swords clanged against each other with a sound that scarred the soul.
"Where is the she?? The Bitch with the animal??" Milkos asked, hurling his sword against and with Xena’s.
"Why? What has she done to you?" Xena asked, her sword flashing, as well as her eyes.
"That one-eyed bitch has destroyed me….".
"She and her animal have ravaged my army, for months" swinging his sword in a downward sweep he almost caught Xena off guard.
Swinging up in a move she learned from the one-eyed warrior, Xena snarled; As she prepared to parry the blow a sudden black world-wind swept past her.
As Gabrielle screamed…
Xena knew in her stomach it was over…
The wolf grabbed for the Warlord’s throat; the sword that impaled the animal connected at the same time. It looked as if they both died at the same time….
The wolf looked up at Xena and Gabrielle, started to pant with a breath it did not have anymore;
It’s paws tried to reach to wound to it’s heart; The sword still deep in it’s chest.
Xena on her knees at this time, tears running quickly down her face; her own sword discarded….Gabrielle knowing in her heart what was happening, reached down to take one of the wolves paws in her own. The sun was raising;
Slowly the amber eyed wolf was starting to change. The sword still buried in her chest…
Closing her eyes against the terrible transformation, Gabreille shuddered as the snapping bones re-formed themselves…..
Naked, save for the blood, Raven lay on her back, her one arm firmly grasped in one of Gabrielle’s hands, she looked up with weary eyes into startling blue ones "I….guess…we did it it, huh?"
"Yes we did Raven." Xena’s voice was soft as she looked into the amber eye of the dying warrior.
"I’m so tired, Xena. I’m sorry I never got around to telling…..you…. a low cough escapes, then a small smile; I think I’ll sleep now…"
The warrior was starting to have trouble breathing; the sweat coming off the warrior was now pooling; the same as the blood under her body.
Gabrielle had now started softly to cry.
The golden eye closed. The body slowly reverted to it’s wolf shape, Xena stood up and gently removed the sword from it’s chest.
Gathering the large wolf in her arms, she struggled to a standing position.
Xena said nothing; she carried the wolf outside, Gabrielle just behind her lover, her own tears falling, as Xena’s tears fell unheeded;
This city had lost it’s Warrior, but Xena had, lost…..not only a part of her youth, but a mentor, and a reluctant lover.
She carried the body out side the gates. She heard the deep howl, off in the distance, gently she laid the body down.
Gabrielle grabbed Xena’s arm, "no", Xena whispered, "watch."
The Wolven take of their own…
Within moments, there were silent figures stealing up on the point where Raven's body lay; Gabrielle gasped suddenly… Raven was…gone…? Whirling to face her warrior, Gabrielle, mouth open was hushed by a callosedthumb placed gently across her lips….
Xena’s voice was soft and husky. She knew the Wolven were to coming to get one of their own. Her own heart was breaking; but she had to let go….
Oh, Raven……there was so much I wanted to say..
Xena’s eye’s closed just before she and Gabrielle clasped each other in their arms, Raven was gone…
As if she had never existed. Perhaps that was the better way.
O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O O
As Gabrielle packed up, preparing to leave. Xena spent some time on the parapet.
Gabrielle, went and gently took the Warrior by the hand, "It’s over, we have to let her go." Gabrielle, said softly.
Turning sharply, Xena said; "She never told me why??"
Xena’s ice blue eyes looked up into her lovers bright green ones, and looked for some kind of answer.
"Xena….Raven never had a chance….to talk to you…I think she was happy, just to say good-bye."
Suddenly a howl rent the air!!! Both women started, Xena went toward the wall.
As Xena turned to stare over the stone wall, Gabrielle took her lover in her arms and kissed her.
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