Disclaimers: See Chapter 1
Additional Note (Please Read): This tale is tied in with, The Conqueror & Ri: A Twist of Destiny. If you haven't read the previous chapters leading up to this one, you should do so. For those of you that are following both stories closely, I am proud of you and would love to give every one of you a cookie, but sadly I ate them all. :-( A profound shout out to the bard, Silvermoonlight. Because of your feedback, you have invigorated me to strive onward and upwards. Forever thankful for your words. Now on with the story. Enjoy.
Feedback, or comments welcomed at, Martinkendell19@yahoo.com
Xena and Gabrielle,
A Turn of Fate,
Chapter 6: Shifting Madness
The loud bang of their cabin door being closed with force, startled Gabrielle. "Xena, what was all that for?"
Xena eyed her sternly. "I don't want you hanging around that monk. The last thing I need is for you to conform and adopt his philosophies."
"Is that a dig of some kind, Xena?" Gabrielle asked, becoming agitated.
The dark-haired warrior sat crossed-legged on the floor again, replying, "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 avowed that intrigues you."
Cognition of Khrafstar, Najara, Aiden, and Eli, plagued the bard's mind. All of them had entered her life at convenient times, offering some form of solace in what she was beginning to understand; a destructive world, just to leave scars of their own on her very soul.
"Why are you speaking to me this way?" The young blonde was vexed.
"I have a lot to sort out." Xena said. "I don't want you changing on me again when I'm loving the person you are."
Gabrielle smiled, her unsettling thoughts diminishing, but her lover missed it as her blue eyes shut, so she could resume her meditation. Gabrielle moved behind Xena and started to massage her strong shoulders.
"I'm no longer that gullible, nor easily fascinated girl who needed others to guide her. I am whom I am today because of you." After working out the knots in Xena's muscles, her massage turned into a caress. "You're the one that always believed in me. Had faith in me to get things done, no matter the challenge. You've pushed me to exceed all my limitations."
Bending down to her knees, Gabrielle begun kissing Xena's neck, while her fingers unbuckled the bronze armor, removing it to the side.
"Come to bed with me. I know we're not married yet, but allow me to be a wife to you." The trim Amazon whispered into the Warrior Princess' ear, extending her hand over a broad shoulder.
Xena grabbed it and they both lifted up onto their feet. Gabrielle laid on the cot as Xena took off her boots to lay beside her.
"I'll help you forget about the stress of tonight." Gabrielle purred, finding Xena's lips with her mouth.
Xena was falling into her younger lover's world. Their tongues colliding together in a thorough embrace.
Gabrielle broke the kiss, saying, "I will aid you in leaving this Akemi nonsense behind."
With that admission, the taller woman halted their intimate activity, much to Gabrielle's puzzlement.
"What happened?" She questioned, looking at the dissatisfied expression on Xena's face.
"Akemi isn't nonsense. None of what has taken place tonight is balderdash." Xena answered, settling her back on the cot.
Gabrielle nestled against her, placing her head atop Xena's chest, feeling confused. "The affairs of Japa disturbs you that bad?"
"Yes. All of this alarms me."
"You trust the Shogun and everything he told us?"
"For now, but I fear there is more to it." Xena admitted.
Greenish blue irises glanced up to sapphire ones. "Should I stay vigilant and on guard?"
"A warrior should always be doing that at all times."
Gabrielle ignored the reprimand, musing, 'So long honeymoon in Egypt. Maybe that's why Xena is irritable. She must be disappointed going to Japa, instead of where we planned.'
Next, she noticed her stomach wasn't queasy, and that could only mean one thing.
"Xena, if you want, we can jump ship. It's not even in motion yet."
"We are still docked, but we aren't going to abandon this mission to Japa." Xena replied.
"You owe me big time for this." Gabrielle puffed.
"I'm sorry we have to postpone our bonding. I just got to know if Akemi is really there."
"And assist in stopping Yodoshi." Gabrielle added.
"Yea... That too." Xena assented in the manner of an afterthought.
The way her soul mate responded, sent warning signals inside Gabrielle. She recalled Xena's facial features when Harukata revealed that unique sword. The same sword that was now lying in the middle of the floor.
"Who's Akemi?" The bard inquired again, a bit timorously.
Xena decided not to be reticent, answering truthfully, "She was a poet. Something like yourself."
That got Gabrielle's full attention. "Akemi was like me?"
"Not exactly like you. Similar to you. She had a way with words. A wonderful understanding of nature and how to describe it poetical." Xena affirmed. "She told me many of poems... I still can remember some of 'em."
Gabrielle became slightly jaded from hearing this new information from an upbeat Xena. "She... Akemi recited poems to you?"
Xena got lost in her reminiscence. "It was short and sweet. 'Yesterday the moon took lodging on my sleeve. Today I have hope for even the brokenhearted stars.' She was truly talking about me."
If Xena was being invidious, it took effect on Gabrielle, making her more than envious.
Hiding it well, she wanted to learn more. "So beautiful. To say something like that, she must have liked you very much."
Xena became sad. "The truth is, Gabrielle... She broke my heart."
Internally outraged, Gabrielle ruminated, 'You said after Caesar, you've never loved another person again, even when you thought you did. You claimed it was me. I broke the shell enclosing your heart! So how could Akemi break a shielded one?'
The petite blonde wouldn't accept that what her soul mate told her in Thebes was a lie. She couldn't.
"I don't comprehend. When did you meet Akemi? It could not have been before Caesar, was it? Is she really a-"
"Gabrielle." Xena interrupted her barrage of inquiries. "Before we reach Japa, I should tell you everything that happened there last time."
'Finally, some disclosure.' Gabrielle cogitated.
The Warrior Princess expelled a breath, then started her tale. "Many years ago, before me and Borias left Chin after Lao 'Ma exiled us from her kingdom, he told me about a young girl who was kidnapped by a warlord there. She'd been taken from a mighty island, even farther east than Chin. The land of the Rising Sun."
'Japa.' Gabrielle sardonically thought.
"We found her being held hostage by a loser named Kao. Akemi already knew who I was and she had spirit. A fire I'd never seen in a young woman then. She informed Borias and Kao that I wouldn't let any harm come to her. Telling us that she would become my student and I would teach her everything I know." Xena chuckled softly. "Seems like a lot of young girls I meet have that in common; wanting me to train them."
'I'm nothing like Akemi. Nor Tanya for that matter.' Gabrielle put a grin on her face for show, not forgetting the young auburn-haired teenager who'd pretended to be the Destroyer of Nations, only to beg Xena to teach her and allow her to travel with them both.
"Akemi prophesied I'd fall in love with her. I was drawn to her by that prediction. I wanted to tame her and prove her wrong. I offered fifty pieces of gold to buy her, but Kao didn't care for the offer. So, I did what I did best during them days." Xena explained.
"Kill them all." Gabrielle stated.
"Yup. Once we left, all I wanted to do was use her to not just get the ransom from her father, but to also get some kind of toehold in Japa, utilizing it to conquer every land between there and Britannia. Akemi was insistent I would be a great teacher, and if it wasn't for Borias' taunts saying, 'I couldn't teach a dog how to bark', I probably would've not taught her anything. Instead, I did, and it was brutal at first for her."
"What did you do to Akemi?"
"I damaged her ribs."
Xena's words shocked her lover.
"I'm not amazed you can still astonish me by how cruel you could be back then." She confessed.
"Anyway." Xena continued. "Borias broke off from us, reminding me that he was entitled to half the money. When I travelled with Akemi to her island for the ransom, I was to learn that my heart was seeking something else. Akemi had us traversing all over Japa, until we arrived at a gravesite. She told me we had to receive her grandfather's blessings in order to succeed. I had no clue what she was talking about. When I thought she was taking me to her father's estate, Akemi was playing me for a fool. I was contemplating killing her there, but when she spoke of a weapon far superior to mines or any other blade, I became enticed to have it."
"What was this weapon?"
Xena pointed her finger, causing Gabrielle to raise her head to see where she was directing. Her gaze fell on the sword that laid on the floor.
"It's a Sacred katana. I had always called it the Grand katana, though. Akemi manipulated me into fighting her father's Sensei in order to obtain it."
Tons of questions were spouting in Gabrielle's brain, so she settled for asking one, "If Akemi was conniving, why did you fall in love with her?"
"I didn't know it during the time, and I really craved having the katana. My ambition, combined with Akemi's schemes, aligned perfectly for her plight. I was the tool she needed." Xena pronounced.
The Amazon had various emotions for Akemi. From indifference to plain dislike. Enmity began winning out.
"She sounds like a bitch."
"Gabrielle!" Xena was disapproving of her lover's uncharacteristic language towards a deceased person, let alone Akemi. "You have to discern it from Akemi's angle. I discovered from her that she wasn't kidnapped. Her father sold her and she was used like a body slave. Women, as you are aware, doesn't have many rights compared to men. In her country it is worse, unless you are born to a caring father, or married to a devoted husband who have no desire to control you. Other than that, it's a woman's duty to honor and obey."
'She could have lied to you.' Gabrielle speculated. 'Besides, what women go through there does not sound much different than any other place, save for the Amazons.'
Xena could tell the last part of what Gabrielle was thinking by espying her visage. "In Japa, women are more disfavored to a male. A father could kill his daughter without any grounds for arrest in almost every area of the country. He could whore her out if he wants to, causing her shame, which is very important to honor. A woman can not gain honor by becoming a warrior of any kind. If she isn't placed in a prestigious position, the best she can hope for to gain some form of reputation is becoming a geisha."
"Aren't they prostitutes as well?" Gabrielle queried.
"There are different types, but mostly a geisha is simply an entertainer. She doesn't have to sleep with another person unless she choose to. A geisha can become very popular, amass good wealth, including respect and honor."
Gabrielle always became lured by Xena's knowledge of the world.
Laying her head back on Xena, she professed, "Finish your story about Akemi."
Picking up where she left off, Xena divulged, "After I defeated them... You can say murdered the Sensei and his retainer of Samurai, I stole the Sacred katana. While we were alone, Akemi started reciting more poems of love. I did not want to hear anymore of it, because she was slowly getting to me. She asked me to show her how to do the pinch that I had done on Kao. I told her it was a sacred trust. She'd agreed, so... I taught it to her."
Gabrielle arose once again.
"You knew her for a few weeks and you taught her the pinch?" She was appalled. "Xena, in all the time I have been with you, you've only showed me how to take it off. I can't believe this."
Gabrielle distanced herself from her soul mate, but could only move a little, considering the small amount of space on the cot.
"Gabrielle, that was me long ago. I made a terrible mistake teaching Akemi how to do it. She used what I taught her to kill her father, Yodoshi." Xena proclaimed.
"Yodoshi is Akemi's father?" Gabrielle became dumbfounded.
Xena was disconsolate. "That was her plan all along. To learn from me in hopes of enacting revenge against her father."
Gabrielle made her way into Xena's arms. "I'm sorry Akemi mislead you, Xena. Do you think she honestly felt anything for you?"
"I'm not sure, but I was deeply in love with her." Xena confided the truth.
That didn't sit right with Gabrielle. She now had confirmation that her future wife hadn't been totally honest with her in Thebes. Xena already gave her love to another poet before her. Another deceitful person shattered Xena's heart.
Gabrielle really started to hate Akemi. "What happened next?"
"With Yodoshi dead, Akemi put the pinch on herself, imploring me to restore her honor by decapitating her using the Sacred katana, then place her ashes in her family shrine with her siblings and mother. I was seething in anger that I wouldn't get any riches, but I couldn't bring myself to hurt her. I saw in her eyes how intent and reposed she was on having it no other way. After her last entreaty, I ended her life." Xena elucidated.
"You killed Akemi." Gabrielle accepted the revelation. "Did you carry out her request?"
"I tried to. When I commenced my trek at night to get there, word spread fast while I was cremating Akemi's body. The people of Higuchi knew what she had done and demanded that I shouldn't set her ashes in her family's shrine."
"I don't understand, why would they care?" Gabrielle was perplexed.
"Yodoshi was the Shogun of the village. Although he was an atrocious family man, Akemi had dishonored herself by committing patricide. She murdered her father and their political leader. To hinder my travel, the crowd threw stones at me. One of them hit the pottery I was carrying her ashes in and it shattered. I was in a drunken, dishevelled state, alone and broke. All I wanted to do was a simple selfless act and some idiots ruined that. In retaliation, I picked up a torch that was used to light Higuchi at night, and with the remainder of my saki, I set the whole town village ablaze." Xena's face formed a gloomy smile of pride. "Afterward, I left Japa, hoping never to return again."
Peeking at the katana, Gabrielle asked, "What did you do with the Sacred katana when you had it in your possession?"
"I tossed it in the fire with Akemi. Obviously it didn't take, seeing it's here and in perfect condition, but I swore it melted. It was gone when the pyre's flames abated." Xena responded.
"Why did Akemi want vengeance in the first place?"
"Yodoshi supposedly had slaughtered Akemi entire family. Her grandparents, her mother, and siblings. One brother, two sisters." Xena asserted, growing weary of the questions now.
"Do you... Do you still love her?" Gabrielle had to know.
"Don't ask me that." Xena shot the query down.
"I want to know, Xena." Gabrielle stayed firm, but a response wasn't forthcoming, so she played a different tact. "Do you look forward to seeing her again?"
"Yes." She said without hesitation.
"You do love her." The Amazon surmised.
"Just because I want to see her again, doesn't mean I love her." Xena got annoyed.
"And it doesn't mean you don't either."
"Gabrielle, I do not have the will, nor patience to deal with your jealous outbursts." Xena rebuked.
Gabrielle went silent, deserving the comeuppance Xena gave her. She had no reason to feel jaundiced; Akemi was a ghost, a specter. It was no way possible she could take Xena away from her. Also, Xena gave her a promise that nobody would ever break them apart. Small hands guided up Xena's torso to her raven hair.
"Forgive me and my ways, Xena." Gabrielle placed a gentle kiss above the cleavage Xena's brown battle dress accentuated. "I love you so much. I can't imagine my life without you in it."
Her lips deposited moist pecks on her lover's upper chest and the hollow spot of Xena's neck before nipping at her mouth, coaxing the blue-eyed beauty to open it for her wet tongue. Xena was still upset, but relented as she grasped Gabrielle's short, golden hair, pressing her mouth fully to hers. A profound moan escaped the confines of Gabrielle's throat, while their tongues were immersed together.
For some unknown reason, Xena couldn't stop thinking of Akemi. She tried pulling from the kiss, but Gabrielle deepened it even more. The younger female could feel Xena trying to halt her advance, though Gabrielle couldn't fathom why she wanted to be diffident. Choosing to disconnect their mouths, Gabrielle crossed her arms, lifting off her halter top, before placing Xena's hands on both her bare breasts.
"Make love to me." Gabrielle cooed.
That did it for Xena, jumping off from the cot, avowing, "I can't do this."
Becoming angry, Gabrielle inquired, "What the hell do you mean, you can't do this?"
Putting on her foot ware and walking towards the door, Xena announced, "I need to clear my head. I'll be back."
"I'm laying here, half-naked for you, begging for your touch, and you need to clear your head?" Gabrielle was seeing red. "You're doing it again, Xena! You are pushing me away!"
"I am only going to check on Argo. I'll be back!" Xena yelled, leaving out the room.
Gabrielle knew Xena wasn't coming back tonight. It was already late and the sun was some hours away from rising.
Getting up, she blew out the lantern, letting the darkness engulf her whilst ruminating, 'She's going to go brooding over this. I'm just not sure if it's over this entire situation or a singular person. But which person; the father or the daughter?'
Gabrielle laid back on the cot, bringing forth every detail of what Xena had expressed to her tonight by her words and actions, fearing the answer she came up with to explain the Warrior Princess' behavior.
Gabrielle really disliked the mist of spring, but she was now positive she hated Akemi more.
"Akemi." She declared aloud in disgust.
Xena traipsed the long hull that was the third tier of the warship in a complete circle, looking for a way to get to the stables. She was not very attentive to her environment 'cause her focus was preoccupied with trying to abnegate what happened in the cabin with her blonde lover.
Looping around again, Xena spotted one of the Samurai who was with Kenji. He was still wearing his full purple armor and mask, but rather than being accoutred with all the weapons he had earlier, he only had his katana sheathed to his right hip.
"Excuse me." Xena called out, pacing at his heels.
He whirled to face her, his gloved hand holding the handle of his sword.
Xena held her hands palms out to infer she wasn't causing any disorder. "Just wanted to ask you how do I get to the bottom tier? I want to inspect my horse, Argo."
Not uttering a sound, the Samurai walked past her. At first Xena deduced he was ignoring her, but then made the decision to follow him. Coming to a halt, the purple armored warrior knelt down to release a latch to an inconspicuous compartment in the floorboards.
'That's why I missed it.' Xena grinned.
The Samurai stood, gesturing with his hand where she would find the stables.
He nodded his head and walked away as Xena climbed down the ladder below. Finishing her descent, she observed two walkways to the right and left of her. Smelling the unmistakable scent of horses, Xena went down the left path.
While touring the stables, the dark-haired woman seen Kenji's and all of the Samurai's steeds. Minus the monk's horse, the armor they once wore were disassembled and she wondered how the Samurai denoted which one belong to its rightful owner. Xena had an outstanding memory when it came to people, especially horses, as she came across the dark-brown horse that Tanya rode off on.
'Great.' Xena snorted in disbelief. 'She's on board, too?'
Argo's whinny from the neighboring stall, ceased Xena's grousing cogitation.
"Hi, girl. Did you miss me?" Xena questioned, noting the fresh hay and water bucket. "Ah, I see they have taken very good care of your needs."
She reached into the saddle-bags that were placed in the corner of the stall to take out an apple.
"But I bet they haven't fed you one of these."
Argo II let loose a joyous neigh when Xena started feeding the fruit to her.
"What am I doing, Argo?" She complained. "Gabrielle is everything to me. It's just... I miss Akemi and I can't talk to her about my feelings for another. Gabrielle can not conceive how important Akemi is to me, including this mission to Japa. She'll only get jealous and angry. I don't want that."
Once the apple was consumed, Xena stroked the mane of her mare.
"Am I being selfish? I did run out of our cabin when we were on the verge of making love. I don't want to accept it, but how can I tell her everything she was doing and the words she spoke out her mouth reminded me of Akemi? Gabrielle will kick my ass for sure."
Xena's fingers aimlessly went through Argo's hair, while a retentive flashback played in her mind.
"In a flurry of snow, two breaths of the wind unite, and become as one, then disappear into each other."
Her poems of love again. Enough is enough.
"Listen Akemi, I don't want you to take this the wrong way. I really love this sword, and you're a nice kid, but I just came for the ransom."
"I don't believe that." She disputed.
I could care less what she believe. If she doesn't cease her foolish talk about eternal bullshit, I might strangle her.
"What do you hear?" Akemi inquire.
Here we go with this again. Fine, I'll indulge her silly game. I close my eyes, listening intently.
"Snow falling on cedar." I say mockingly, until I hear something else. "No. Your heart, beating harder than normal."
Akemi makes her way to me and takes my free hand that isn't holding the katana into both of hers. What is she doing? Why am I allowing her to affect me like this?
"You're a master of war, yet you know no words to speak of love. And then you go and save my life. There's no greater gift of love a teacher can give a student than that." She aver.
I see it in her pretty, dark hazel eyes that she is being sincere. Oh, how I want to drown in her. I thought Lao 'Ma was the only woman I had a sexual urge for, though she never took me up on the offer, and now after what I'd done, she wouldn't ever. I know Akemi will as I catch a gleam in her dark orbs.
"I have another gift I must ask of you."
Always something... People always want something.
"I saw what you did to kill that coward Kao."
The pinch? She wants to learn the pinch.
"It's a sacred trust." I respond.
Akemi smiles. "I would be honored beyond words if you teach me that."
"All right." I concur, also smiling.
Next, I jabbed the fingers of both my hands into her neck, watching her fall on her knees, desperate to breathe.
"You have thirty seconds to live." I taunt, leaning above her. "Is this what you want to learn?"
Blood runs from her nose and she gasp for air, croaking, "Yes."
I glare at her, a part of me wanting to see the life leave her body, whilst the other half needed to feel her body.
Dropping down too, I undo the pinch. Her mouth makes a sibilant sound as she wheeze for oxygen. I wipe the trickle of blood off her upper lip and nose.
"Show me, Master." Akemi rasps.
"Do you desire me to be your master?" I purr, running my hand in her ebony hair much like my own, gripping it tightly.
She winces, but manage to acquiesce, "You already are."
I refuse to hold myself back any longer. I kiss her small, luscious lips, forcing my tongue into the cavern of her oral aperture, exploring it, desiring to take and taste every ounce of her. Akemi's silent moans drives me on while I hold her hair in a vise-grip, plunging my tongue deeper down her throat unlike a savage.
Suddenly, I stop myself with that realization. I don't want to take her the way she told me Kao had done. Not like this. Not to her.
"Not like this." I repeat out loud, drawing away.
Her hands touch my cheeks delicately, making my blue eyes look onto hers.
"I'll teach you, then you can teach me." Akemi imparts to me, gently kissing my lips. "I'll help you forget about the stress of life. I will cure and aid you in leaving your shifting madness behind."
Hearing that false assertion, I ended our kiss. I am not some sort of affliction that can be cured. Mines is power, and one day, every living soul will know my name to represent fear in all locations of Gaia.
Gazing at her, Akemi must have known something was wrong now, a miscalculation on her part. Ha, perhaps she can hear it in my heartbeat because I'm ready to lay into her, and not with my fingers, but with my new Grand katana...
My katana, where is it?
I glance to the right of me, looking at its blade sticking into the snow-covered grass. Damn it, I dropped it carelessly when I put the pinch on Akemi. Turning back to face her, Akemi was already taking off the furs that protected her against the cold and untied the sash to the white kimono that's wrapped around her waist, exposing the erect black crests on her ample breasts to me.
She takes both my hands this time, placing them on her bosoms. "Make love to me... I'll teach you, Master."
It was over.
She had won.
At this moment, I fell into her and secretly knew, I wouldn't deny her anything.
Xena felt her arousal foment at the memory of that night with the younger woman who taught her the art of passion.Her hand was frozen on one spot of Argo's cream-colored mane before Xena began rubbing it again, letting out a dreamy sigh as she spoke the name of the person she would forever love, "Akemi."
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