The Bell



Picture - #11 
DISCLAIMER:  Story mine, Characters not.

How do we get out of this?
Gabrielle lifted her head from the inn table and ran a hand through her tousled blond hair.  In front of her a jar gave off tiny rattles.  From inside, two pinheads of blue glared at her.  The piercing look intensified as a gesticulating hand suddenly grabbed a miniature chakram and hurled.  The weapon pinged round the glass causing the thrower to duck and weave and stamp in frustration.
How does she get out of this?

A commotion at the door silenced the crowd and made Gabrielle swing round.  A party of ruffians had burst in.  “We want the Warrior Princess”, shouted one, surging into the bar, club swinging.  “We know she’s in here.”  Green eyes widening in horror, Gabrielle tossed a handy towel over the jar and scooped jar and towel into the bag on her lap.  She dropped her head back onto the table.

It was roughly wrenched up and she found herself staring at a warty, weathered nose between mean bloodshot eyes.   “You.  I’ve seen you before.  You travel with her.  Where is she?”  Gabrielle readied herself for the inevitable blow.

“ Ouch”, she shook her head and cleared her thoughts.  “Wouldn’t I like to know.   You see, we were on our way here to visit the temple of Demeter because one of my cousins has recently joined the temple virgins – well, she’s really a second cousin but she lives close to…..”  Gabrielle was hitting her stride but her interrogator was losing patience.

“Where is she?”  he shouted. 

“I was telling you – we got to the temple about a candlemark ago and there was Senna – she really has grown since I last saw her, looks just like her mother and has the same way of wrinkling her nose when she laughs.  Anyway, she was with the Head Priestess who…”

“Where is Xena?” he screamed and swung a kick at her thigh.  

“Ow, ow ow.  That really hurt.”  Gabrielle winced.  Where was Xena when you really needed her?  Okay…in a jar, wrapped up in a towel, stuffed in a bag was an accurate description but not helpful at this point.   “Do you want me to tell you what happened or not?  …well, the Head Priestess was not pleased to see us.  Or not pleased to see Xena at least.  “Have you brought it back?” she demanded of us.   We were mystified.  “What have you lost?” I asked.  So she showed us into the sanctuary, indicated a vacant space on the altar and told us a group of ruffi…  men had forced their way into the temple this morning and taken the sacred bell.  They had said they were under Xena’s orders.”  Gabrielle glanced at the ruffian. 

He glowered and she thought it best to continue.  She was warming to the tale and so was her wider audience. 

“Of course Xena rushed out to see if she could find any trace of the men and didn’t return.  She has a tendency to rush off without filling in all the whys and wheres but I’m used to that so I stayed and talked to the Head Priestess…  She called the bell ‘Demeter’s Wrath’.  Changes happen to people who touch it and not good changes.  Oh, I see you know all about it”.

She looked at his hand, or claw might be a better description.  “You picked up the bell – what did you do with it?”

“I dropped it”.

“Good scheme.  You wouldn’t want feathers pop….”  Thwack.  A harder reminder this time.  “So…. the Head Priestess was telling me how she knew Xena.  They had met during some initiation celebrations at Eleusis and they were caught making ……”

“Haimon’s coming.  Let’s get back to the camp – now!”  A tiny gasp from the bag had been muffled by the voice bellowing from the doorway.  “Bring her with you”.   ‘Clawhand’ grabbed Gabrielle by the throat.  “Get up.  And hurry.”  In one dextrous movement Gabrielle flicked the towel from the jar and swung the bag between her legs. 

“Leave that”.  She dropped the bag and walked out.  A close observer would have noted her eyebrows rise as Xena clambered to a secure niche under the flap of her skirt. 

“Why are you walking like that?” said the man. 

“You kicked me, remember,” Gabrielle exaggerated the bow legged limp and tried to keep a smirk from ruining her performance. 

Outside, her hands and feet were rapidly tied and she was thrown like a sack over the back of a horse.  “Oooof”, there was a tiny expulsion of air from under her skirt.  “Sorry”, she muttered to Xena, summoning a covering blush for the watching men.

As the horses cantered away from the inn Xena saw her chance.  Pleasing Gabrielle was one of her many skills and one she performed with exquisite timing.  For Gabrielle there was agony, ecstasy, more agony and finally, finally ecstasy.  Her body sagged in release and she slipped slowly off the back of the horse, landing in a satisfied heap on the ground, directly in front of Demeter’s temple.

Xena peeped out cautiously from under the skirt flap.  The men had wheeled their horses and were dismounting.  She bolted for the bottom step of the temple.  Footsteps pounded behind her.  “Gotcha” cried one. She felt his hand graze her back and she stumbled forward.

Transformation was immediate.  A full sized Xena rose and whirled round, drawing her sword.  The four men stopped in their tracks.  Resistance was token; a sword swipe dealt to one, a kick to the jaw dropped the second. The last two had their heads cracked sickeningly together.  Moments later Xena was standing over the limp and defenceless bard.

“The bell suits you”, offered Gabrielle weakly.

Xena plucked the offending article from her nose.  She leaned down menacingly and  Gabrielle shrank. 

“What did the Head Priestess tell you we were caught making? Talk, Gabrielle”.

Now, how do I get out of this?




Story by: Clicker
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