The Snakehead Gorgon
Note From LynKa: Over the last year Xenia and I have become good internet friends, I have helped her in the past with her English. She lives in Germany and English is a second language. I have encouraged her to leave her story as she has written it. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.
"Xena, Why do we have to go to Athens?" Gabrielle asked puzzled at the warrior's sudden change of direction. Anger edging her voice from being told 'let's go' by the warrior with no explanation and now an hour later and still no word why she was dragged out of the tavern in the middle of her lunch.
No answer from the unusually quiet warrior.
"Xena" the bard said grabbing Xena by the wrist to stop her. "Why are we going to Athens?"
Xena stopped, looked into the bard's eyes and tried to surpress a small laugh. Gabrielle could be so wonderfully stubborn.
"Well Gabrielle, it will take longer to get there because you won't ride so we have to go by foot." Xena said smiling as she turned around and started walking again.
Gabrielle stood with her mouth open. "What was that" she said to herself shaking her head. She smiled inspite of herself. She was not able to be angry at Xena. After all Xena did have a special kind of humor. Gabrielle had to run to catch up with Xena and Argo. Even though Xena was walking her stride was long.
"Okay warrior" Gabrielle growled "Why are we going to Athens" she stated with her hands on her hips.
Xena slowed down. "When you were in the tavern and I was checking on Argo a messenger told me that a friend Perseus needed my help."
Gabrielle looked at Xena. "Who is Perseus? And why has he sent for you?"
"I met Perseus just before meeting you. Perseus was very young. Only fifteen summers old. As I was traveling home after Hercules and I departed company I ran into him. 20 bandits surrounded him. He had no chance alone and he was injured. So I helped him. The bandits were no match for either of us. I bandaged up his wounds and we became friends. We traveled as far as Athens together and since I haven't heard anything from him."
Gabrielle was silent as she listened to Xena's story. The thought crossed her mind that maybe her and Perseus were lovers. She shook her head as if trying to get that unpleasant thought out of her head. She made a note to someday ask Xena about that.
"Okay, then we go to Athens. Maybe I'll see Homer while we're there."
Xena smiled and looked at the bard. "We'll make camp here tonight and get a good nights rest. If we leave at first light we can be in Athens by noon tomorrow."
"First light, why is it always by first light" mumbles the bard as she walked off to get firewood.
Xena heard her and could only laugh.
After dinner Gabrielle yawned and announced she was heading to bed. Xena sat on the ground sharpening her sword watching the bard. With in moments Gabrielle was fast asleep. Xena put her sword down next to her bed and laid down facing the bard. She loved this time of night. Gabrielle asleep and she could lay in her own bedroll and look at her with out reservation. Xena finally admitted to herself she loved this woman with all her heart. She was afraid to tell Gabrielle of her feelings because she just didn't know how she would react. Everybody she ever loved she had lost. She couldn't bear the thought of losing her too. Xena thought to herself 'I have never loved anyone like you". It was so hard not to reach out and touch her in the way she wanted to. "Every time you smile at me or every time you touch me it feels like the sun is opening my heart. I feel like I'm home." Xena thought a while longer about all the ways the bard touches her very soul. Sleep finally took over.
"Xena can we stop and eat lunch? This looks like a nice place."
Xena unable to deny the bard anything just smiled and nodded.
As Xena was taking her last bite Gabrielle thought it was a good time to try and get some more information from the quiet warrior.
Xena knew what was coming now. An unbeliveable flood of questions. "Yes"
"What does Perseus look like? Where is he from? Who are his parents?"
Xena covered the bard's mouth with her hand. But she pulled back quickly when she felt those soft lips on the palm of her hand. Those lips she longed to touch, to feel, to taste. As the warrior got lost in thought for a moment. She shook her head and cleared her throat when she looked up and saw those beautiful green eyes staring at her.
"Gabrielle, stop, enough questions." Xena said teasing in her voice.
"Perseus is a tall fellow, muscular. He has brown hair and eyes. His mothers name is Danae and his father is Zeus."
"Zeus? The King of Gods? Then Perseus is immortal? Does he have some superhuman powers like Hercules?" Gabrielle interrupted.
Again the hand covered the bards mouth. This time it was Gabrielle who trembles at the touch. Gabrielle thought how wonderful those hands would feel wondering over her body exploring every inch of it.
"Are you cold?" A concern look from Xena as her bard shivered from her touch.
"No" she whispered trying to get her thoughts back to the present.
"Yes, Zeus is his father but he is mortal. He was born in Lemnos. That's all I know. If you need to know more I guess you can wait and ask him. Are you ready to get going? We're not far now." Xena said standing throwing the saddlebag over Argo.
Xena heard a twig snap and she spun around. A man stepped out of the underbrush. "Be nice now ladies and I'll let you go just as soon as I take what I want." He said.
Gabrielle jumped to her feet grabbing her staff on the way up. Xena already had her sword drawn. "Oh, we'll go alright and there isn't anything you can do about it" Xena said flatly not taking her eyes off this man.
"Sorry, but it's not that easy. Did I forget to mention I'm not alone."
Six men stepped from the bush swords drawn.
"I hope you will just leave right now. But I can see your not that smart. So let me just warn you. If you think for a moment you have the advantage with seven of you then I think you better think again." Xena scowled.
"That's what I would do if I was you" Gabrielle putting her two dinars in.
The man looked at Xena then at Gabrielle. "Attack them" he yelled.
With a loud "Yiyiyiyiyiyiyi" Xena ran into the center of the battlefield. Gabrielle joined her. Standing back to back the men attacked. As two of the men ran towards her Xena raised her arms to the side and the men ran into them. Knocking them selves to the ground. A third man raised his sword to stab at Xena who raised her sword to block the blow. She twisted the sword out of her attackers hands with a turn of her own. The man looked stunned as his sword sailed through the air coming to rest several feet away.
He scowled. "I don't need a sword. I still have my fist."
Xena just smiled.
The man charged, fist clinched. He aimed for Xena's face. She ducked and came back up hitting him square in the face. He staggered back but didn't fall. She raised her eyebrows watching him get his footing.
"Hummm, let's see if you're still standing after this." She said jumping at him feet first. She kicked him in the groin. He grabbed her foot with both hands. "Ha, you think that's going to stop me." He said laughing.
Xena looked at him with those ice blue eyes filled with danger. "Well, maybe this one."
She distracted him by making a swing with her fist. Then her left foot went forward and up, hitting him under the chin. He let her foot go at that moment and she somersaulted backwards landing feet first on the ground. The man also somersaulted backwards but landed hard on his back. He didn't move. Xena looked down at him. "The bigger they are ."
Gabrielle had already knocked one of the men unconscious. One stood in front of her the other stood behind her. She pushed her staff back conecting with the mans stomach. He fell to the ground. She brought her staff forward hitting the last standing man in the face. Xena watched with pride as her friend swung around connecting with the man behind her who was trying to get to his feet.
Xena nodded her head in approval. She's learned well she thought. "Gods I love this woman." Xena smiled and went to Gabrielle. "I guess you don't need my help anymore."
Gabrielle returned the smile. "Not this time, but I wouldn't say never. By the way, where is the man who invited us to this party?"
"Oh, him, he took off through the bushes." She nodded in the direction he took.
"Let's go, I can hardly wait until we get to Athens." Gabrielle said looking at her warrior.
Xena nodded, putting her sword away and picking up Argo's reins.
It was much later then Xena thought they would arrive in Athens. The sun was just beginning to set. Gabrielle looked tired. Xena slid off Argo standing in front of the bard. "You okay." She asked.
"Yeah" Gabrielle replied.
"How about you go get us a room, I settle Argo then go see Perseus." Xena said pointing in the direction of a castle.
"He lives in the palace up there and I want to find out why he sent for us. Okay" Xena voice was soft.
"I want to go with you. Besides, I want to met Perseus." Gabrielle said pleading with her friend by the look in her eye. A look she knows Xena could not refuse.
"Let's go." Xena said in defeat. Knowing it was no use arguing.
They walked Argo to the stable and got her settled first. Then proceeded to the palace. They stopped in front of a big heavy door. Xena hammered on it with the side of her fist. No answer. She started to pound again when she hears a voice. "Who's there?"
"My name is Xena. Perseus sent for me." She yelled.
The soldier yelled to another. "Open the gate. The guest from our lord has arrived."
Xena looked at Gabrielle and raised an eyebrow. "The guest of our lord" she said puzzled.
Gabrielle smiled and joked. "Be glad he didn't say, the slave or our lord has arrived. That would be a bigger problem."
Xena then raised both eyebrows pressing her lips together.
"Very funny" she responded dryly.
As the door opened a man stood there bowing at the waist and introduced himself. "My name is Agraulos. I'm Perseus slave. My lord is waiting for you. Please follow me."
Gabrielle reached over and touched Xena's hand they both shuddered at the contact. When they entered the castle Gabrielle looked around stunned at the beauty of it all. They came to a stop in front of a closed door. "I will tell my lord you are here. Please wait here."
Xena hated to wait and Gabrielle sensed her unwillingness to comply with the servant's request. Gabrielle touched Xena's arm in an attempt to stop her from busting through the door.
When Xena turned and looked at the bard she nodded her head. "Okay, so we wait."
Argraulos bowed once again then disappeared through the door.
"Argraulos seems a strange little man. I could never be that friendly all the time." Xena said watching him go.
"Believe me, I know." Gabrielle teases the warrior again.
At that Gabrielle just laughed. No matter how hard the warrior tried not to she couldn't help herself as she also began to laugh.
"My lord is waiting for you. Please come this way." Agraulos said once again bowing.
Gabrielle was amazed at Perseus as he stood before them. He was much handsomer them Xena had told her. He extended his hand out to Gabrielle. "And you must be the famous bard that I have heard about that travels with Xena."
Gabrielle smiled at him. "I'm not that famous, but it is true I do travel with Xena. My name is Gabrielle."
Xena and Perseus greeted each other with a worrier's handshake.
"Please come, sit down. I'm sure you need to rest after your journey. Argrilos will bring refreshments."
Xena took a set with Gabrielle to her right. The food soon arrived and Gabrielle licked her lips. She filled her plate and began to eat. Xena only filled her wine mug and took a long drink. Thirsty from the trip and the heat. Perseus looked at Gabrielle as she ate hardly.
Xena noticed and said "That's normal. Gabrielle loves to eat." Xena rubbed her hand up and down the bards back and turned to look her in the eyes. They both stared for a brief moment at each other. Xena removed her hand when she saw Gabrielle blush a little. None of this contact was missed by Perseus. He thought to himself ' its pretty obvious how they feel about each other'
Xena turned towards Perseus. "So my friend, tell me what has been going on since last time I saw you. I don't see a wife. Are you married? I can't imaged you not being."
Perseus looked at her and smiled. Taking a deep breath he said. "No, I'm not married yet. That is why I sent for you Xena. But let me start from the beginning. After we parted ways here in Athens I wasn't sure what I was going to do so I decided to join the army of King Kepheus. It didn't take long until I was in a command position. After two years Kepheus asked me to be his daughters bodyguard. I didn't really want to do it. I was a soldier not a guard for a princess. But then I saw Andromeda. She was beautiful. Her heart is full of warmth and joy and understanding. Her smile made a cloudy day sunny. I couldn't help myself but I fell in love with her."
Xena turned towards Gabrielle thinking to herself ' I know what you mean. Believe me I know.'
"And one day I asked her to be my wife. She said she would that she fell in love with me the moment she saw me. We asked permission from her parents and they both accepted me as their future son-in-law." He paused.
"On the day we were to be wed we went to the temple of Athena to promise our love. Kassiopeia, her mother, said that Andromeda is much prettier than Athena."
"That was a mistake." Xena interrupted.
"Yes, well, at that moment the stone statue of Athena came to life. "No mortal is prettier than I. what you just said you will take back." Athena pointed to her mother. Kassiopeia was unable to say a word. Then Athena said, " Andromeda will be sacrificed in ten days to the seamonster and if she is not there. I will destroy all of Athens and every human being within its boundaries." Then Athena turned to stone again.
"I only have a few days left to save the woman I love more than my life. Please Xena, help me." Perseus pleaded with Xena holding her by the shoulder.
"I can't help you, but I know someone who can." She said trying to comfort her friend.
He smiled at his friend. "Who is it Xena?"
"Have you ever heard of the three grey? They are three old women who all went blind at the same time. People say they know everything. I'm sure thy can help. The cave they live in is two days ride."
Perseus stood and yelled for Agraulos. "Get my horse ready. I will go tonight."
"I think its better if we wait until first light. They live in an area where they are surrounded by morass. If you don't know your way there you will sink never to be seen again. I will go with you but I need daylight to get through there." Xena tried to explain the need to wait.
Perseus nodded. "Yes, of course, your right. I'll have Augrilos show you to your rooms."
They all stood as Perseus left the room.
Augrilos lead the way to their rooms. Xena wished Gabrielle a good night and disappeared into her room. Gabrielle nodded and proceeded to her own room. The room and the bed were big. 'It would be so nice to have Xena here. I miss he already. We never sleep in separate rooms. Why tonight? I want her to curl around me like always and hold me while I sleep.' Her thoughts were only with Xena in the next room. She finally went over to the bed and laid down. Soon her eyes closed and she fell asleep.
Xena lay back on her bed. Her thoughts were the same. She wanted to be with the bard, her bard. Her last thought of the night was that of her heart in the next room.
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