Disclaimers: See Part 1
Additional Note (Please Read): This tale is tied in with, The Conqueror & Ri: A Twist of Destiny. If you haven't read both story's chapters preceding this one, you should do so now. Also a thanks to all my readers, including the bard, Silvermoonlight. Enjoy ;-)
Feedback always welcomed, sometimes needed at, Martinkendell19@yahoo.com
Xena and Gabrielle,
A Turn of Fate,
Chapter 13: Samurai Training
'My avidity for Xena grates on her nerves and causes her to leave me.' Gabrielle mentally groused. 'Yet, she can be jealous. Even when we are no longer committed to one another.'
Gabrielle would be damned if she was going back to her lonely cabin and sulk over a love that wasn't returned. The bard hoped where she was headed, it was empty of Samurai, that way she could work up a sweat doing her drills without spectators. Zicalus stated the armory was also used as a training room, and she wanted to utilize it to its fullest.
'Poor Zicalus.' Gabrielle pitied the blue armored warrior.
She knew he was either already defeated, or was given false courage by being toyed with. Nonetheless, the outcome would be the same for the young man. Making it to her chosen locale and opening the double doors, Gabrielle became astounded by how expansive the armory was. Many different weapons lined the walls of the room; which were katanas, maces, staffs, daggers, bows, arrows, and chained iron balls that connected to scythes, similar to what Moku had equipped when she'd first seen him.
She observed the entire area and saw that there were more than several other warriors occupying its space along with her. Two were using the sparring area, dueling with their katanas. A few looked at her like an intruder, whilst most continued with their own battle practice. Gabrielle ruminated on leaving, but decided to stay and found an unoccupied section of the armory to herself.
Drawing her sais and giving them a couple of twirls in her hands, the short-haired blonde began her routine. After awhile, some of the Samurai watched her, amazed at Gabrielle's agile speed when she performed her somersaults and strikes. Gabrielle, however, was in her own world as she released her frustration and energy in every fluid movement.
'I gave you everything, Xena!' She vented internally, doing multiple kicks. 'I loved you more than anybody ever has!'
Finishing a backflip, Gabrielle attacked the air with her twin weapons, imagining that it was her ex-lover.
'You never loved me! How could I have been so dumb to think you did!'
All the Samurai's eyes were now on the Battling Bard while she trained. A woman executing a fury of flips, kicks, and strong thrusts with her weaponry, were too much to simply ignore.
'Go to that Japian whore! See if she'll love and adore you with the amount of passion I did!' The velvet-clad Amazon's exertions slowed down. 'The passion and adoration I still have for you, Xena.'
Her celerity dwindled, but remained subtle. The way Gabrielle's body moved could be compared to a graceful, deadly dance, and the men were entranced by it. Once the armory's doors opened, it came to an end, breaking the spell. Gabrielle viewed the few warriors that walked inside, leaving a single door ajar. She instantly recognized them as the three Samurai whom initially challenged Xena.
"She's not human." One of them asserted.
"Maybe you shouldn't have said anything to begin with, Neji."
"And let that woman have her way, Suzu?" He countered. "Besides, you fought her first, but our defeat is no consequence, because we'll have our revenge soon."
"You are crazy." Suzu declared. "I'm never fighting Xena Sama again. Hiro and I got off easy, although my leg hurts a bit from when she clipped me."
"Yeah." Hiro concurred. "Xena Sama disarmed me, and that was humiliating. A Samurai never drops his katana. I'm lucky if the Shogun doesn't enforce hara-kiri upon me."
"What are y'all complaining about?" Neji inquired angrily. "It was I who got kicked, spanked by her sword like a child, and punched in the face! And don't call her Xena Sama!"
"We should have just let Xena Sama instruct us." Hiro felt rueful, compelling Neji's chagrin.
"Backing you up was a mistake, Neji." Suzu confessed. "She still got her way by beating on our entire squad. And did you see what she did to Master Zicalus? Damn near pounded the man into-"
"Yes, I saw." Neji interrupted. "I'm not implying we fight her. She's unnatural and belong with that spirit girl."
The last sentence garnered Gabrielle's attention. 'Akemi?'
"I'll personally honor Amaterasu with the sacrifice of my firstborn if I'm able to see her demise."
Suzu noticed Gabrielle and remembered their oath. "That's enough, Neji."
Neji wouldn't cease his garrulity, "I'm serious. That foreign woman caused all of these problems in Japa. Every one of us are near death's grasp."
"All right, Neji." Hiro whispered. "Gabrielle San is in here. Don't forget what we are sworn to uphold."
Neji looked at the petite female and glared, before trekking towards her.
"What are you doing in here?" He questioned indignantly. "This armory is for Samurai. Not your kind."
"Zicalus evinced that I could train here." Placing her sais into the straps on her boots, Gabrielle chose to exit the room. "Perhaps, I was mistaken."
"You were. It's time you left. This is for men anyway. Women aren't fit to be fighters."
Gabrielle was furious at Neji. The brash man insulted her in more ways than one. Not only did he wish death on Xena, but he attacked her gender as a whole.
Keeping her temper in check, the bard couldn't hold back a retort, "I think that kick and fist to your head, from a woman I'll add, has damaged your brain or something. It doesn't matter, though. I'm leaving."
"Silly girl." Neji replied out of vengeful spite. "Xena will get hers. You better trust that."
"Stop, Neji." Suzu tried to halt his fellow companion's hasty words.
Their relationship was ended, and Xena had pained her terribly, yet Gabrielle felt protective over the Warrior Princess. "Don't threaten Xena, or by god, I'll hurt you worse than what she did."
"You?" Neji became aghast by Gabrielle. "What can you do? You don't even wield any type of sword. You use gardening tools from Chin."
'This guy is a joke and a waste of my time.' She rationalized, beginning to trudge away.
"Maybe, all you Greeks are worthless." Neji chuckled. "Your wicked warrior will be with Akemi and you will hopefully never see her again."
Lashing out with both hands, Gabrielle applied the technique that was recently taught to her. Falling on his knees and straining his neck, Neji hadn't ever fathom such pain existed in all his life. Suzu and Hiro unsheathed their katanas, while the others espied the situation. They seen what the Amazon was capable of during her drills, and weren't eager to get beat on.
"What did you do to him?" Suzu asked.
Gabrielle neglected them both and bent down to growl in Neji's ear, "You have thirty seconds to live. If you don't apologize to me for all your disrespectful remarks, it will be the worse experience of your short life."
Neji tried to breathe, albeit, it was very difficult, causing discomfort to do so.
"Undo what you've done!" Hiro panicked.
"Twenty seconds." Gabrielle taunted.
Blood trailed from Neji's nose, coaxing Suzu to exclaim, "Gabrielle San, please!"
"Close to ten seconds. I'll allow you to die and won't give it another thought."
"I... I'm... Sorry... Sorry..." Neji rasped.
"Louder." Gabrielle responded.
"I'm sorry!" He complied.
"Good boy." She avowed, releasing the pinch.
Assuaged from the painful pressure point, Neji took in a huge gulp of air. "You're... insane. Like... that Xena. I'll get great satisfaction from her-"
"Shut it, Neji." Hiro rebuked him.
"No, let him continue." Harukata announced, standing outside the slightly open door.
"Shogun." Neji was stunned.
The Samurai bowed to their leader, as he entered the armory. He traversed over to Gabrielle and the few men around her.
"Are you willing to dishonor yourself, Neji?" Harukata queried vaguely.
"No, Shogun." He answered.
"Seems to me you were. For that, you are to scrub the top and bottom decks, until I decide further."
'It'll take me forever to clean both platforms.' Neji speculated bleakly.
"Do you understand?" Harukata questioned.
"Yes, Shogun." Neji acceded, standing up.
"I need everyone to depart the armory, save for you, Gabrielle San." Harukata commanded.
Every Samurai commenced bowing and did what they were told, while the Amazon wondered what Harukata wanted with her.
"Were you training here?" He prompted.
"I was watching your interaction with Neji for awhile. You tried to walk away, but he kept provoking you. Would you have really let him die if he didn't give you an apology?"
"I honestly don't know." Gabrielle averred. "I'm not in a friendly mood at the moment."
"Because of Xena?" Harukata inquired.
Gabrielle wasn't feeling up to talking about her ex-lover. "Is Zicalus okay?"
"He has some bumps and bruises. Nevertheless, he'll live." Harukata confirmed.
"I warned him not to engage her. She wanted to hurt him."
The Shogun grew curious, "Why's that, Gabrielle San?"
'Xena's right; I talk too much.' Gabrielle berated herself.
She wasn't ready to shed light on their relationship. The wound remained bleeding and nowhere near healed.
Gabrielle parried with a question of her own, "What is it that you want, Shogun?"
"I want to know how you are doing."
"You should already have that figured out." She spoke with concealed sorrow and vexation. "Xena's going to Akemi when the time comes and I will be alone. How do you think I feel?"
Harukata moved closer to Gabrielle, placing his hand on her shoulder. "You love Xena, and she cares greatly for you. No matter what you may perceive."
Gabrielle recalled the final encounter she had with her soul mate. She knew the Warrior Princess' love for her had expired.
"Thank you, Shogun, but I'm certain that's a lie." Gabrielle professed.
'What did you say to her, Xena?' Harukata pondered.
"I'm finished here." Gabrielle muttered, retreating from him. "I'm going to my cabin."
"Of course. Before you go, can I ask what weapons are you skilled with, Gabrielle San?"
Gabrielle became perplexed, but rejoined, "I'm a master with a staff, adequate with a sword, also an adept with my sais. Why?"
"Are you decent in CQC?" Harukata quizzed.
"Close quarter combat." He disclosed.
"Yes." She affirmed. "I know martial arts. Xena trained me well."
"How about Aikido; the way of the harmonious spirit?"
"No." Gabrielle gave a concise response.
An idea formed in Harukata's brain. "Wait a moment, Gabrielle San."
The bard watched the old man take steps to where an assortment of swords were displayed and grabbed a katana.
'What's going on?' Gabrielle was becoming thoroughly puzzled.
"Gabrielle San." He pronounced, once he stood in front of her again. "Allow me the honor of teaching you the ways of the Samurai."
Gabrielle's cognition was floored by the Shogun's offer to her for such a position. "I've been informed on many occasions that women cannot become a Samurai."
"It is true." Harukata consented. "You will be the first ever."
"I don't follow you, Shogun." Gabrielle admitted, looking at the blade he held out to her. "Why do you wish to train me?"
"You are special. I haven't been acquainted with you long, howbeit, I'm positive you would make a powerful and talented Samurai."
The cropped blonde was at a lost, but wonderment made her consider the offering. It would be awesome to learn the ways of the Samurai, and take her mind off Xena.
'You know how you can be. You meet a new person, discover their ways and, sooner or later, wound up being absorbed by whatever they said that intrigues you.'
'I won't prove Xena's accusation correct.' Gabrielle mused.
"What do you say to Samurai training, Gabrielle San?" Harukata persisted.
"I'm deeply flattered by your proffer, but I have to decline."
The petite Amazon started to head towards the door when Harukata elucidated, "You have an unique aura that surrounds you, Gabrielle San. If you change your mind and let me teach you, your keen senses will be heightened. You may even surpass Xena."
"Surpass Xena?" Gabrielle was dubious. "I don't believe that's even possible."
"It is." Harukata proclaimed. "Think it over at least. Whichever decision you choose then, I'll respect it. You have my word."
Faintly inclining her head, Gabrielle left the armory.
High above the heavens, and perched atop a plateau, two Arch Angels looked on whilst Eli gazed through the portal to the mortal realm.
"What is he planning, Michael?" Raphael urged.
Michael was unsure exactly what Eli was cogitating. "I don't know. But it's safe to say it concerns the Warrior Princess and Gabrielle."
"Their destiny is set in stone." The dark-skinned Angel uttered. "You don't think he's trying to alter it?"
"I'll speak with him." Michael avouched. "Go back to Paradise, Raphael. I got it from here."
Nodding in agreement, Raphael's wings carried him upwards.
"Eli, what is it?" Michael queried aloud for him to hear from a distance.
"The war is beginning."
"Yes, Japa is in turmoil. Yodoshi will be destroyed as prophesied, so will Xena."
"No." Eli shook his head. "A deity is at work... I can sense her. She is manipulating events."
"Impossible, Eli." Michael was baffled.
"It's not. Somehow she acquired the stone of immense power. It is being used in this world and the other."
"The Kronos stone?" Michael probed incredulously. "Its destruction came by the hands of Callisto when she melted it. The remnant pieces got launched into the outta atmosphere by Hercules."
"A dissimilar kind." Eli clarified. "The Omphalos stone. A shard of it is on Gabrielle's ring. An additional shard is on her double from another world... and it's activating."
"Another world?" Michael dispelled his mystification to inquire, "What will this stone do?"
"I'm not certain, but I foresee trials for Gabrielle."
"What Greek goddess could have the power to conceive such a plot? There aren't many left. Is it Aphrodite? I knew we should have never allowed her nor Ares to gain their godhood back." Michael argued.
"It was necessary at the time, Michael. The balance of love and war was broken. It had to be repaired."
"Now look." The Arch Angel flew and landed adjacent to Eli. "One of them is possibly aiming to control time and space, using Gabrielle."
"It isn't Aphrodite." Eli defended the goddess of love and beauty. "It's someone else. Only a master of wisdom could pull this off."
"Athena is dead." Michael pointed out. "Whoever is doing this must be aware of the Twilight; when only one god or goddess can remain from each pantheon on earth. They are hoping to achieve the status of being the singular deity, or bypass it altogether."
"By going to the other world." Eli commented. "Xena and Gabrielle has to be notified. If the Omphalos stone takes full effect, it could have dire consequences."
"You want to save Xena." Michael surmised. "She has to die, so Yodoshi can stop attacking Amaterasu's temples, and the souls she'd killed may move on to the afterlife. It is her fate."
"I acknowledge that." Eli conceded. "Still, something has to be done. Whatever goddess that's setting this in motion, is draining power from the demolished Kashiko-dokoro temple in Kyushu and channeling it to the stone. Gabrielle could be in grave danger."
"What could happen to her?" Michael became concerned for the once trim Arch Angel.
"Her life's energy can be sapped. Or she could be transported to her double's world." Eli predicated. "Anything can befall her there."
"That would be a shame." Michael was feeling glum for the Amazon.
"Unless she is warned."
"That can't be done." He admonished. "We can't meddle in the affairs of humans anymore."
"Are we to stand by and let this happen to Gabrielle without giving her some sort of warning?" He posed the query, gazing at the Arch Angel.
"You can't, Eli." Michael leered. "God forbids it."
Eli turned to the portal again, viewing the bard wiping the tears from her eyes, prior to laying down on the cot in her cabin.
"I will submit to the rules of non-interference." Eli ceded in advance of locking eyes with Michael. "But if Gabrielle prays to me, I fear I'll go to her."
"Even you can be severely punished for this, Eli." Michael cautioned.
The Avatar descried the portal once more with a stern visage. "I will take it up with our God."
Michael made no reply as his wings began to flap. Looking skyward, he ascended the higher heavens into Paradise.
To Be Continued
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