The Evening's Tale
by Silk


DISCLAIMER: Mca/Universal/Renaissance owns Xena and Gabrielle (wonder if they've been told about this?). This is written for nonprofit and for pleasure only.

Xena strolled out of the forest, two freshly field dressed rabbits in her hand. She smiled fondly at the picture before her, the same sight she'd witnessed for countless evenings now.

Gabrielle paused from her writing, resting the feathered end of her quill lightly on her chin. Now, how should I put that? 'The beast's wing's' about? 'the fiend's enormous wings beat'...hmm.. that should do nicely.

The bard finished last minute corrections to her newest tale, then held it away from her, admiring her creativity. Xena should like this one...if she doesn't kill me first. She chuckled lightly, then stopped as she became aware of her companion nearing their camp. Xena had been gone longer than usual this evening hunting for their dinner, so Gabrielle had had plenty of time to finish making up their camp and to spend a little time writing.

Setting down the parchment and putting away her ink and quill safely, she leaned closer to the fire to check on the stewing vegetables that were waiting for fresh meat to be complete.

"Have to go all the way to Athens for dinner tonight, Xena?" she jokingly asked, as the warrior stepped into the camp.

"No. But close enough. I probably caught the only two rabbits for leagues around us though." Xena handed over the carcasses, letting Gabrielle cut them up and put them into the pot. Taking a waterskin, she quickly washed her hands and face then sat down near the fire.

"Well it will be awhile until this is ready. Care for a story? I just finished my latest." Gabrielle offered hopefully. Though Xena always listened attentively to her tales and praised her afterwards, the bard knew sometimes the warrior preferred silence.

"Mmm..that sound like a good idea. It will keep our minds off your growling stomach." Xena teased lightly, her eyes twinkling.

"Well I am hungry, can't help it. I haven't eaten a bite since this morning." The younger woman cast a quick glance at her friend. This is going to be sooo much fun.

Xena cleared her throat. "Yeah..this morning. So..tell me your story."

The bard gave one last stir to the cookpot and sat back against the log. Taking a deep breath, she slowly exhaled it and set herself in storymode.

"The mighty warrior had heard of trouble stirring in the woods, by the local villagers. Reassuring them that she would find the source of the danger, she climbed aboard her valiant seed and went into the dark wood."

"Many hours passed as the warrior searched for clues. Finally, close to sunset, she stumbled apon a decrepit fortress, long abandoned to time's elements. The warrior felt evil seeping from the building's very stones, and dismounted her faithful horse and drew her sword in caution."

"Silently, she went from shadow to shadow, slowing coming closer to the source of evil. Coming to the front doors, she reached out and gently turned the knob, pushing the door open. For the hero's trouble, a loud squeal announced her presence. Cursing softly, she opened the door the rest of the way and scanned the great hall before her. She found no enemies and so strode in, intent on finding what had driven fear into the villagers."

"Then out of the darkness, came a horrendous screech. The warrior turned, bringing her sword up to defend herself, but the blade of steel was torn from her grasp by the buffet of great wings as the demon charged her."

"Spawned in the depth's of Hades Kingdom, the fiend rose up high on its legs and expanded it's great wings in order to subdue the hero. With an answering snarl and a gleam in her eye, the mighty warrior reached out with strong hands and grasped the neck of the beast and slowly squeezed."

"Gasping in agony, the fiend's enormous wings tried in vain to stun the warrior as the very breath was stolen from its lungs. Finally, the titanic struggle ended. The beast lay at the victorious warrior's feet having met its doom."

"The hero returned to a jubilant village, with the body as proof of her deeds and ever after was she called friend there." Gabrielle finished her story, her eyes rigidly looking at the cookpot. "Hmm..I wonder if it's done yet?"

Hearing nothing from her companion, she risked a quick look over at her. What she saw made her lose all her composure and burst out laughing.

After several long moments, the dark-haired warrior finally spoke. "Gabrielle, if I ever hear you tell that to anyone, I swear..." The words were drowned out in a fresh bout of laughter.

Xena rolled her eyes. Bard, you will pay for this. Dearly. How can someone so innocent looking be so..soo creatively mischievous, I'll never know.

She sighed heavily at her friend, who was now holding her sides as she helplessly laughed on.

"Gabrielle, give me a break here. Please," she begged.

Eventually the young woman quieted, then looked at her friend, wiping a tear from her emerald eyes.

"Oh, Xena. You have to was funny. That poor child coming up to you in the village this morning, asking you to please kill the nasty monster that had attacked him in the stable." The bard forced down another laugh.

"You got so protective and rushed right in there," she grinned wickedly. "Boy, did you have a hard time catching that rooster." Suddenly, the bard was rolling on the ground again, helpless with laughter.

Xena groaned miserably, then gave her friend an impish look. "Yeah, but he made a very tasty breakfast didn't he?"

The End

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