Disclaimers: See Chapter Part 1
Additional Note (Please Read): This story is tied in with my other tale, The Conqueror & Ri: A Twist of Destiny. If you haven't read chapter 1 of both stories, you should do so now. Also, I would like to thank my readers. (Can't believe I got some) Other than myself, I do this for you.
Feedback always welcomed, sometimes needed at, Alexjanos612@yahoo.com
Xena and Gabrielle,
A Turn of Fate,
Chapter 2: Past Misdeeds
The mysterious woman was on the offensive, swinging her sword, desperate for a direct hit. Xena continually allowed her to.
"You know." Xena started to say, descrying her opponent becoming winded with every strike. "You're going to tire out if you keep attacking me this way."
Taking another swing, the auburn-haired warrior cried, "Shut up and fight back!"
Xena blocked the so-called Destroyer of Nations' attacks six times, before saying, "If I attack, I'll hurt you."
"You can't hurt me." Her sword connected with Xena's again. "I am the Destroyer of-"
Her tirade was cut short with a perfect timed parry, and an elbow to her stomach, forcing the young woman to drop on her knees.
"You held onto your weapon. That's a sign of a decent fighter." Xena commented while she sheathed her blade, then took the warrior's sword out of her defeated hand.
The woman was coughing, trying to get her bearings and oxygen back into her lungs.
"A decent fighter." Xena went on. "But not of the caliber you claim to be."
"I am Xena." The warrior lied again.
"No you're not." A voice challenged.
Looking up slightly, the breathless woman recognized the pretty short-haired blonde walking towards her.
"You!" The downed woman sounded shocked. "Shouldn't you be on your back somewhere?"
Suddenly realization hit her.
'Where are my men? Surely this little thing couldn't have defeated them?' She thought, fear gripping her heart. "Who... Who are y'all?"
"My name is Gabrielle. This here, is the one and only Xena." The bard introduced herself and her companion.
'Is it possible? No way they could be Xena and the Battling Bard of Potidaea. No way!' She deduced. "Ridiculous."
Gabrielle stood beside Xena. "Show her what you can do."
"You want me to use the pinch?" Xena asked, incredulously.
"No silly. The chakram." Gabrielle clarified.
"Oh." Xena mouthed as her hand let the yin-yang chakram free.
The pretender watched the disc bounce off the trunks of trees and split in two, ricocheting off obstacles of the barks, before finally becoming one again, making the trek back into Xena's hand.
The surprised spectator couldn't help but stare at the duo, mesmerized by what she witnessed, while Xena clipped the chakram on her right hip.
Raising a shaky finger in their direction, she stuttered, "You... You're Xe... Xena, and the bard Gab... Gabrielle."
"Yup. And the horse you wanted, her name is Argo." Xena replied.
"Impossible." The young woman muttered in amazement.
"Not impossible." Gabrielle chirped in. "That's Argo's mare, Argo Jr."
"I wasn't talking about the horse. I..." She was still baffled when Xena helped her onto unsteady feet. "There were rumors that Xena and her bard was dead. Then about two years ago, I heard they were seen around the Chalcidice, on their way home after twenty-five years of their disappearance."
"Can you stop referring to us in third person. We're alive, not dead." Xena retorted.
"But you both are so young." The woman professed, regaining her breath and balance.
Gabrielle softly nudged Xena's ribs, joking, "Some of us are, more than others."
Xena allowed the playful quip from her soul mate to pass and began studying their would-be robber's features.
'Auburn hair, light brown eyes, young face.' After her assessment, Xena said, "You look young as well. I would guess no older than twenty seasons."
"Nineteen, actually." She corrected, her eyes downcast. "Nineteen falls."
'Ah, we're getting somewhere.' Xena mused. "Now that you know who we are, who are you, and why are you running around claiming to be me?"
"My name is Tanya of Larissa in Thessaly." Her pupils raised to the face of the Warrior Princess. "Many people speak of you, Xena. How you were once this evil warlord bent on bringing misery and death to anyone. With that reputation, it earned you the title, Destroyer of Nations."
"That was Xena a lifetime ago." The blonde Amazon stated, defensively.
"I didn't mean any offense." Tanya apologized.
"Yeah, cause roaming about pretending to be me isn't offensive at all." Xena chastised, folding her arms.
Tanya looked down again. "Like I said, many people talk, and that was some of the things I've heard. Other voices... Majority of voices would tell tales of how you stopped the Thessalian Mitoans War."
Memories flooded Xena's senses with scenes of that fateful day, three decades passed. Beyond the fact she was a skilled strategist and a magnificent leader when it came to tactical warfare, Xena hadn't taken a place on the front lines of battle. Instead, it was her ability as a unique healer that helped end the war.
"They said you saved many of lives that day. That you kept many of souls from Hades." Tanya went on elucidating.
"You shouldn't believe everything you hear." Xena responded.
Tanya's head shot up. "Not even from my own father? He told me you didn't just save lives, but stolen back a soul from the underworld god himself. A soul that was, and is, very special to you."
"Your father?" Xena inquired.
"Marmax." Tanya answered.
"Marmax? Your father is Marmax? One of the leaders of the Mitoans?" Gabrielle was amazed.
"Yes." She made clear in advance of turning her focus fully on Xena. "But is it true?"
Xena went silent as her greatest fear that day washed over her.
I'm not quite sure how I got myself into this.
I mean, I am Xena. Once proud Destroyer of Nations. I could have been empress of Corinth, if not all of Greece right now. Not here, stuck between two opposing forces bent on murdering each other simply because of different faiths.
My sword hasn't killed a single person. Instead, I'm in this Thessalonian temple trying to save Thessalians and Mitoans alike. If my enemies were to see me now they would be laughing at me. The ones whom are dead and buried would be turning in their graves, if they didn't suffer my more grotesque wrath. Other than a grave, their head would be on a pike.
Galen... What a useless healer. Only good for praying to a non-caring Roman god who I am positive doesn't give a damn.
Nothing but letdowns. Believe me, I know.
I'm glad I took leadership over this hospice. Many people had died already, but I'm sure if I haven't taken command, lots more would be dead. I am not totally ungrateful to Hercules for setting me on this path; the path of the Greater Good. I will be forever in his debt. Even though I'm seeking redemption for my past misdeeds and are helping a lot of strangers, I still sometimes wish for death.
That's what I deserve.
However, I been doing this Greater Good thing for almost a year and I'm growing accustom to it. Saving these men lives brings me a sense of...
Especially now, as I hand Phantes' and Ephiny's Centaur baby over to her. Such a shame what happened to Prince Phantes; to die a horrible death. Funny how life works itself out; good people die, while the bad mostly prosper. But looking at the expression on Ephiny's face makes me forget about conflicts and death. The only thing important here is life. How Gabrielle would love to see this moment right now, being with her Amazon sister during this time.
Where is Gabrielle?
I am aware of commotion going on behind me. I rush over to see what's the problem and come across Gabrielle lying on a patient's gurney. How can this be?
I hear some guy talking about how his child was lost outside the temple, and Gabrielle went to find him. Gods, she is so kind. So selfless and so...
There's a war going on! She knows that! Naive...
Yet, I can only be mad with myself. I brought us here to this Tartarus hole. All I can do now is find out what's wrong and save her.
Without warning, her body starts convulsing uncontrollably before it stills.
"What's happening?" Marmax inquires.
"I don't know! Gabrielle!" I shout.
"She's dead." Hippocrates declares, sadly.
"She is not dead, I wouldn't let her." I snarl. "Come on Gabrielle, wake up."
She's just sleeping. I'll shake her. She hates it when I do that.
"Come on, wake up. Come on, wake up." I repeat, shaking her. "Wake up, you're scaring me."
As I realize she's not breathing, nor is her heart beating, I feel an unknown pain within me.
"Wake up. Gabrielle, breathe. Come on. Come on, breathe, breathe."
I begin to become afraid and a sense of panic overwhelms me. I understand these emotions, but this growing pain...
I can't call it.
"Maybe she just needs air." I announce to no one in particular. "I need to get some air in her lungs."
Leaning, I place my mouth over hers with the intent of breathing life into her.
"Come on, Gabrielle breathe!" I shout, continuing my method of resuscitation.
"Please, stop it. She's dead now. She's in a better place." Hippocrates tries to force me to accept.
It only makes me more determined.
"Get out of my way! You don't know anything!" I scream at him.
He backs away and I turn my attentions back to my main concern.
"Don't you listen to him." I beg her, knowing she's alive.
Hoping she would open those aqua eyes for me.
"Come on, I know you're in there, prove it." I'm irritated, close to hysteria. "You can show him. Come on. Wake up and breathe."
I'm shaking her a bit roughly now. How dare she wiggle her way into my life only to leave me. To die on me. It should be me lying here dying. This is to be my fate, not hers. Never hers.
This unknown pain... It's growing.
"You never ran from anything in your whole life. Come on, fight!" I yell, hitting her chest hard.
Next, I hear Marmax's voice, "Xena."
"Fight!" I pound her again.
"Xena! It's time to stop now." He asserts, grasping my attention. "Let her cross over peacefully."
"What do you know?" I snap, this war was all his gods be damned fault. "You've killed so many."
Marmax gazed into my eyes, averring very gently, "So have you. Let it go."
He is right. I was a killer. I am a killer. A murderer of thousands of people, whether innocent like Gabrielle, or guilty like Caesar. I have failed in protecting her the same way I had failed Lyceus, M'Lila...
I bring my sorrow and sadness to the surface of my very carefully closed heart. Gabrielle is not them. She won't end up like them.
"No!" I blare, refusing to let go and see reasoning. "No. Come on, Gabrielle. Come on. Come on."
I'm holding her in my arms now, beating the Hades out of her chest. I'm way pass hysterics as the tears roll down the sides of my face unchecked. I don't care, I love her, and now she's trying to do the same thing she had done to me twice already throughout our journey together; leave me. Only this time it'll be permanent.
"Don't leave me. Don't you leave me!" I am weeping openly, pounding her chest, daring silently for someone to interfere or disturb me, so I can make Marmax's words true by killing everyone around me. "Don't leave me! Don't leave me! Wake up! Wake up!"
I need Gabrielle. I'm nothing without her support and belief in me. My pleading voice must reach her...
It has to.
I hit her again, crying, "WAKE UP!"
Gabrielle's eyes open, her mouth gasping for oxygen. My blue orbs lock onto hers and something inside me clicks. Strange, I didn't think that painful feeling had anything to do with my heart.
"You're Aesculupius!" Galen affirms, falling to his knees. "You've come back to Gaia."
"Get up, Galen. I'm not Aesculupius, you should know that by now."
After boring daggers into the old fool, I peer back into Gabrielle's greenish blue irises.
"It's Gabrielle who performed the miracle." I kiss her forehead. "Didn't 'cha?"
I finally recognized that click in my heart. My soul, if I truly have one, felt complete now I've gained Gabrielle back.
It was love...
Gabrielle placed her hands on Xena's shoulder, evaporating the remaining memories.
"Xena." The bard became concerned, anent to her soul mate's expression. "Xena, are you alright?"
The Warrior Princess nodded her head that she was fine.
From the look on Xena's face, Tanya believed she had her answer.
"It is true." Smiling from ear to ear, she pointed at Gabrielle. "It was her, wasn't it?"
Xena's short answer made Tanya guffaw. "I can't believe this."
The duo was taken back by the outburst.
"Y'all are my heroes! But you, Xena... You saved my dad. You saved villages from horrible warlords and bandits. I've even heard you fought the gods and became a God slayer. I knew I recognized you from the description people described."
"Alright. Alright." Xena tried to get the excited youth to calm herself. "I'm sure Marmax apprised that I am no longer a warlord. Yet, you try to steal my identity as the Destroyer of Nations. Why?"
Tanya blushed, explaining, "I didn't mean to. I wanted to travel, you know? See the world. A couple of years ago, some Larissians claimed to have seen you two in the area of Stagirus and Argilus, heading back to Amphipolis. I implored my father to let me go, but he stated the road is no place for a woman. Bad things can happen, caused by slavers, ruffians, or anyone for that matter. I still wouldn't give up."
"So you just left?" Gabrielle understood it was the wrong decision to make, but it would have been the one she have chosen.
"No way. Me and my father worked out a nice agreement." Tanya professed, happily.
Xena inclined her head to Gabrielle's ear, and whispered, "Not everyone is like you Ms, I'm going to follow the dangerous woman who protected me, my sister, and friends, from slavers."
Gabrielle glared into her blue orbs and mocked, "It worked didn't it? Here I am with you after all these years."
Xena became lost in the moment, placing a soft kiss above Gabrielle's golden crown. "You sure are. I won't forget you'd also saved my life when you followed me home and kept the villagers from stoning me."
Tanya watched the two with great interest. The way the dark-haired warrior stared at the blonde bard spoke volumes.
"Are y'all... Um, it's none of my business, but are you both... Lovers?"
Her and Xena have been secret lovers for so long that Gabrielle didn't know what to say or how to answer. A handful of people actually knew, while others guessed, and in this case, queried.
Xena, however, ignored the question, countering with her own, "So you and your father worked out something. What was it?"
Tanya decided to bow out from her investigation of the historic duo's relationship.
"We agreed if he trained me to handle a sword better than most, I could go out into the world. Long story short, I learned, but when I finally gotten to the Chalcidice territory, I kinda..." Tanya's explanation trailed off.
"Kinda, what?" Xena inquired.
Releasing a sigh, Tanya continued, "I ran into some men and I kicked their butts. They were no match for me. I felt invincible defeating them."
A grin formed on her face.
"Did you kill any of them?" Gabrielle wanted to know.
"No." Xena answered. "She didn't kill anybody. Did you, Tanya?"
It was a rhetorical query and they both knew the answer. "No. They asked me who I was and how did I fight so diligently. So, I told them-"
"You were Xena." Gabrielle smiled.
She could understand what it was like wanting to mimic an incredible warrior like Xena. The young Amazon even pretended to be the Warrior Princess once upon a time, although it was for the Greater Good.
"I told them I was Xena, but they chose to call me the Destroyer of Nations. I tried to stop them from using the title, nonetheless, they kept on chanting it and swore loyalty to me. It was so intoxicating." Tanya admitted.
Xena knew all too well. "The power, huh? It'll cause you to do things you never thought you would."
"That is exactly what happened. Soon, I was harassing people who I felt was inferior to me, up to this point of trying to rob y'all and give Gabrielle to my men. This is the worse I had ever done in the fortnight I been hanging with them." Tanya appeared gloomy. "Please, forgive me."
"No harm, no foul." Gabrielle noticed that Xena gave her a side glance. "What?"
"No harm Tanya, because it was us you and your hooligans came up against. However, it's a foul for leading these men on to such a destructive and belligerent path." Xena put eloquently.
Tanya looked down again in shame.
"Promise us." Gabrielle announced.
"Anything." The younger woman was eager for a second chance.
"Dispose your men if they can't fight for the Greater Good." Xena proposed.
"Greater Good?" Tanya queried.
"Serving a purpose that's more than yourself. Like helping others the way we do." Xena replied, flipping Tanya's sword handle first, offering it back to her.
Tanya sheathed it at her hip as Gabrielle told her, "And no more using Xena's name."
"I will stop. Thank you both for giving me another chance."
The two warriors smiled.
"You're okay, and tell your father we said hello." Gabrielle said, briskly.
Tanya became troubled. "Well, I was hoping-"
"That bitch kicked me!" One of the men shouted, vehemently.
The women turned to espy him, and Gabrielle pegged him as the first man she had attacked after she flipped off of Argo II.
Next, Tanya began walking towards him. "Jargas, it's cool. I've made a terrible mistake."
"No mistake, Destroyer. Let's beat their ass!" He exclaimed.
"Here we go again." Gabrielle sighed, gripping one of her sais in hand.
"No, Jargas. They're heroes." She tried to reason with him, totally forgetting who she was pretending to be. "They are Xena and Gabrielle."
"Wait, I thought you were Xena?"
"I apologize, Jargas. I lied. I'm not Xena. My real name's Tanya, and I want to fight for what's right. I want us all to fight for the Greater Good."
Jargas was steaming inside. Not only this bitch wasn't the Destroyer of Nations, but she made fools out of him and his friends for two damn weeks. What could he do? He didn't want to get kicked in his chest again.
Slowly a mischievous grin formed on his lips. "That's the real Xena?"
Tanya nodded vigorously.
"I would love to greet her."
"Really, you're not mad at me?" She was a bit mistrustful.
'Damn straight I am!' Jargas secretly mused. "Of course not. She's the great Xena. Come on, introduce me. I think I want to fight for this Greater Good crap, too."
Tanya was giddy with joy. She really liked Jargas, and was happy he was choosing to aid the helpless alongside her. She turned her back on him, but when she started traversing to the tall and petite warriors, her excitement dwindled to dread once she took stock of the bard's expression.
"Tanya, watch out!" Gabrielle yelled.
Turning around quickly, Tanya saw Jargas as he raised his dagger from his wristband to stab her. She couldn't react fast enough and just knew she was going to die.
"You deceiving bitch!" He shouted with rage in his eyes, the short blade descending to impale her chest.
Before she knew what happened, a sai was embedded into Jargas' striking arm.
"Ahh!" He grunted loudly, staring at the strange weapon that pierced his skin, making him drop his small knife.
Tanya became too shocked to move.
'He could have killed me.' She thought, frightfully.
"Get away from him!" Xena hoped to get Tanya's attention to no avail.
Jargas noted Tanya's pause and took advantage by shoving her down with his good arm. Turning slighty, he bent to pick up his dagger, but before he could even think of using it, he felt a sharp pain in his abdomen. The last sight he seen as his eyes went rolling into his head, was a small hand holding the handle of another one of those unknown weapons that was sticking out from his upper arm. Taking his final breath, he fell to the ground.
Xena ran over and lifted Tanya to her feet, while Gabrielle plucked her sais from Jargas' lifeless body.
"Are you alright?"
Tanya's mind was still in a haze.
"Are you alright?" Xena repeated, jerking her shoulders to get the auburn-haired woman to focus.
"Ye... Yes... Yes, I'm okay." She mumbled, watching Gabrielle clean her twin weapons of the blood.
'Great. I have soiled my hands with another life again.' The velvet-clad Amazon ruminated, sadly.
As if reading her lover's mind, Xena chimed, "There's a stream we could use to get cleansed, but it's farther from Mende."
"That is fine." Gabrielle accepted, standing up after depositing her sais back inside her boots.
"I... I never seen a... A dead body, Xena. I've seen someone unconscious. Hurt even, but not... Not." She babbled.
"Do you have a horse or items you need to take?" Xena asked.
"Well grab them, we need to go." Xena commanded, strolling towards Argo with Gabrielle trailing her.
Tanya looked at the other men groaning on the ground. "What about them?"
"They'll keep, unless you want to stay here with them." Xena informed as the bard settled behind her on the saddle.
'They probably would try to kill me also.' Tanya feared, running to her horse to gather her things and saddle up.
"Good choice." Working Argo II into a slow trot, Xena questioned, "Ready, Tanya?"
The reddish brown-haired young woman nodded in consent.
"Yah." Xena pronounced, coaxing Argo to gallop to their destination with Tanya following as well.
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