Disclaimers: See Part 1
Additional Note (Please Read): ): This story is tied in with, The Conqueror & Ri: A Twist of Destiny. If you have not read the previous chapters preceding this one, you should do so now. I usually have something witty to say here, but my mind is blank right now. I will say this (write) this though, for the readers that have been reading both tales, it all will pay off in this chapter. If you have not, it's never too late to jump on the band wagon. Let's begin and enjoy.
Feedback always welcomed, sometimes needed at, Alexjanos612@yahoo.com
Xena and Gabrielle,
A Turn of Fate,
Chapter 7: Greater Good
Beads of sweat slowly dribbled off Gabrielle's forehead and neck, onto the sheets of the cot that her body slept on. She was having an intense lucid dream that seemed so real. In it was Xena, who had raven and silver hair tied to the back of her head with only a few wisps hanging around her eyes. Her appearance was aged, but she still was attractive, dressed in a black tunic covered by armor the color of crimson that had golden chains interlacing from the front chest plate up to her shoulder pads, where a dark cape connected to it. Her legs were concealed in tight fitting dark leather, with intricate thin embroideries that was also the same red shade as her armor and black knee high boots. On her hips were two swords. One was the original sword she had always wielded, the other had a gold ruby eyed lion headed hilt, and beside it was the dark chakram.
The elder Xena was leaning against the side of an average sized ship. She had the expression of being in deep thought about something that clearly made her happy when a huge toothy smile formed on her lips, causing one of her men, wearing purple armor to stare at her in awe. So she turned her head to hide the smile and concentrated on the darkness.
It was night time as the vessel drift along the river, a half mile away from the docks of an unknown location. The area her, and her small army of soldiers were in, was surrounded by a bunch of shadowy trees, as if the body of water resembled a glade.
Something caught her attention in the woods, making her call out words, but the dialogue was muted. A blonde woman, who's long hair was tied in a ponytail walked up to the older Xena. It was Glaphyra, and she also wore purple armor like the other troops, except she had an emblem on her right breast plate deducing rank. A sword was sheathed on her back, and many daggers encircled her waist which was her custom.
Xena gave her a command, and Glaphyra quickly left to carry it out. Xena's blue orbs focused on whatever it was that made her feel cagey as Glaphyra returned, handing her a bow and several arrows. Xena placed an arrow between her index and middle fingers, drawing it back on the bowstring. She mouthed some more words, before closing her left eye and waiting a few seconds. After that, she took aim and fired, hitting someone in the hidden dark. When the figure keeled over and was revealed to be a man adorned in Roman styled armor, Xena shouted out orders.
The whole scene was deaden as arrows descended on the ship, while Xena and her crew found shelter behind either the thick mast, or ducking below railings of the vessel. A few men were too slow in finding cover and received the tip of arrows for their sluggish efforts. Xena searched out Glaphyra. Once seeing her unharmed, she conveyed a couple of hand signals. Understanding, the long haired blonde gathered six troops and went below deck.
Xena was still hiding alongside the rails beside the soldier that was watching her in adoration, before the raid. He smiled at her when an arrowhead went through the wooden rail and pierced his neck. The older woman gently eased the shaft out of him, then with haste, she tore both sleeves off her tunic to wrap it tightly around his wound to halt the bleeding. The ship started sailing faster towards the pier when Xena closed her eyes in meditation.
Another soldier crawled over to her and the injured man. After he got to them, Xena opened her eyes suddenly to catch a projectile that was seconds from finding its target. The horrified troop gawked at the arrow tip inches from his head, until Xena dragged him lower to the floorboards of the deck. She pointed to the wounded man, in advance of grabbing her bow and a few arrows as the soldier began putting pressure on the torn tunic that was wrapped around his fellow comrade.
Xena moved along the railings of the deck, waiting for split pauses of the barrage to cease before taking quick pop shots with her arrowheads. Every arrow landed on its mark. Finally, Glaphyra and two of her troops came back carrying a bundle of bows and arrows. Xena stood up catching another arrow out of the air that was about to hit her, while looking and yelling at her warriors. The whole army raised their hands in a cheer as the vessel was ten feet from the waterfront.
Xena spun on her feet and did an amazing front flip onto the dock as her soldiers begun returning fire with their projectiles. With the enemy's arrow she still clutched in her hand, she shot it at the first Roman who charged her. Dropping the bow, she withdrew both her blades, decapitating the second one, slashing the chest of the third, and engaging the fourth.
Glaphyra jumped on the dock when the ship got closer, running past the men the crimson armored woman had killed. She joined Xena, throwing two daggers into both eyes of an enemy. She tried to take down another man with them, but the Roman soldier dodged it, so she unsheathed the sword from her back and connected it with his. The man was bigger than her and apparently stronger as he used brute strength with every swing. Bringing a downward stroke with his gladius, he brought Glaphyra to her knees when she blocked it. The smug grin on his features melted away into a look of pain when a dagger was lodged into his gut, then sliced across his midsection. He fell to the ground, while Glaphyra arose, saying some retort with a grin of her own.
By time the rest of Xena's army disembarked the ship and began to fight, forty Romans were already dead, most by Xena's hand. Once she severed the arm of her opponent and thrust her lion handle blade into him, a bombardment of more arrows showered her and her troops again when all the Roman soldiers that tried to keep them from advancing beyond the pier were defeated. Her men formed a aegis, shielding themselves as well as the two women. With the assault of projectiles ended, the second wave of Romans came from the woods, branding their gladius, spears, and shields of their own. Forming a line of defense, the shield and spear bearers were in the front, while the other soldiers stayed behind them, to seize their opportunity to get strikes in when Xena and her army was pushed back.
As the Roman phalanx moved forward, Xena said something that made her troops' facial expression show laughter. Next, she sheathed her two bloody swords, and gripped the dark chakram. Breathing in deeply, she threw it with such force that the razor circular disc tore asunder every shield the Romans had, killing some of them also. The chakram didn't ricochet back, but it appeared that Xena hadn't expected it to, as she called out a command and the hoplites picked up where the Romans were cut off, creating their own phalanx. Xena only unsheathed her lion sword, directing it at the opposition, exclaiming one word.
The hoplites proceeded forward, causing the Roman soldiers to take steps backwards in fear, falling over top of each other. Their retreat foiled by their own cowardice, the hoplites made short work of the second wave. Xena and Glaphyra glanced at one another momentarily, before they both decided to join the combat, with Xena flipping over the hoplites and Glaphyra sprinting around them.
Xena's blade slashed through flesh and bone as she killed one soldier after the other, splashing blood that camouflage with her armor. When the purple armored woman got into the action, there were just four men still standing. Sheathing her sword, she pulled out two daggers, throwing one in the chest of her enemy, and the second found its way in the leg of an unfortunate other. Trekking up to him she took the embedded dagger out, then slit his throat with it.
Xena held her hand out, giving the sign for her forces to stop as she glared at the two remaining Romans. The first man shook off his nerves, got froggy and leaped right onto the sharpness of her sword. At the sight of the life blood leaving his companion's body, the last Roman dropped his weapon. The elder Xena said something to him, but when the soldier shook his head in the negative, she rushed over and put the pinch on him. Falling on the bloody soaked grass, Xena kicked him in his chest, forcing the man to land on his back. Next, she positioned her sword over his heart, when someone grasped her attention.
Walking out the cover of darkness the many trees provided for him and his contingent of Roman troops, the moonlight shined on him. It was Brutus and alongside him was another man with short cropped brown hair. Brutus held out his hand, he seemed to be explaining, or offering her something. Locking eyes with him, Xena made no reply, but smiled savagely and plunged her lion blade into the dying Roman's body beneath her.
Gabrielle was roused from her slumber with a jolt, her upper frame lifting from the cot.
'God, what was that?' she mused, shutting her eyes and wiping the droplets of sweat off her face.
Gabrielle laid down on the cot again, placing the back of her left hand over her closed aqua irises. The dream, felt like reality, as if she was really there. She couldn't differentiate whether it was a prophetic vision of the future, remembering the older appearance of Xena, or the past, recalling Glaphyra, Brutus and the dark chakram.
'It can't possibly be the past. None of those events took place in our lives. Of that, I am certain.' Gabrielle thought. 'It can not be the future. Brutus is deceased, I've done the deed myself doing the Battle of Actium, and Glaphyra would at least be old like Xena too.'
Deciding it was all a dream, the petite short haired blonde cast it aside for now. When she opened her eyes, she saw the jade gemstone in her ring emitting a bright lime glow. Gabrielle sat up and studied the strange glowing stone. In the two weeks she wore it, the jade never done anything like this before. She rubbed her eyes free from the sleep, maybe she was still under the effects of tiredness. Her and Xena had been extremely sexually active a lot lately.
Opening her eyes once more, Gabrielle seen that the jade gem on her silver band had gone back to its dull color. Positive that it could have been the after effects of the dream she had, the bard shook her head to get the crazy out and then climbed out from underneath the furs of the cot. Next, she determined that the sun was rising as its ray crept through the wooden boards of the cabin room's interior.
Scooping up her scarlet top and slipping it on, she also seen a basin of water lying on the small table. She doubted her lover was the reason for it being there and wasn't too comfortable about Kenji, or any other person coming in while she was sleeping, but was grateful nonetheless. Dipping the clean cloth into the water and rinsing the access liquid, Gabrielle washed her face, including all of her hotspots. Feeling refreshed, she put on her boots before exiting the room to ascertain the whereabouts of her future spouse.
Xena was brushing Argo II done whilst having a one sided conversation with her.
"I want to tell Gabrielle everything, but I know how she can be. She'll blow up on me. I should have more confidence in her than that, it's just, Gabrielle doesn't know Akemi personally, the way I do. She won't understand. Akemi's a good person, who got the short end of the stick in life."
Argo snorted in disagreement.
"Heck, you don't know her either. Neither did your mother. Helping Akemi is the only consolation I'm getting out of stopping her soul sucking father. And let me tell you, Yodoshi deserves to be sent to wherever it is that the damned go." Xena avowed with malice intent. "The things he'd done to Akemi, and her family was cruel. Akemi ended his life, I have failed in restoring her honor for that action, so it is my duty to bring peace to her and Japa by obliterating his absolute existence."
The palomino softly nudged her collarbone, offering support of empathy.
"I knew you would understand, girl. I wish that Gabrielle could be more perceptive."
Argo began nudging her harshly.
"Okay, you're right also, Argo. I will talk with her." she said, patting and brushing the toffee colored mare.
'All I want to do is repair a failed act on my part, but I should be doing this for the Greater Good, not for selfish purposes. I need to place my feelings for Akemi back where I had before. I will restore her honor though.' Xena thought.
"I owe Akemi that much."
"Who's Akemi?" a familiar voice inquired.
Xena kept her back to the young woman, as she continued her ministrations on her mare. "Hello, Tanya. How did you get acceptance to come aboard this ship?"
Taking Xena's question as an open invitation, the auburn haired warrior walked into the stall. "When I arrived at the port of Scione, I began asking around for captains that wouldn't mind me travelling along as a passenger on their vessel. I don't want to go back to Larissa, so any destination was alright with me."
She blew air out of her mouth in irritation. "I realized that I left my dinars with, Timon. He was the money holder of the squad I was poorly leading up till now. Anyway, all deals fell through. No money, no fare, unless I was willing to abase myself, which I wasn't. I'm not giving head to get ahead."
Tanya laughed at her own joke, but after seeing that Xena found no humor in it, she nervously coughed. "I was going to call it a day when a monk asked me about you. I was sceptical, because of the armored warriors he had with him, but then he told me that he needed your help for an important matter. Once he swore no harm would come to you, we made a trade. My information concerning your location for a free ride on this gigantic ship. Well, not fully free. I do have to work the galleys. Still-"
"Do you know when we set sail?" Tanya finally said something that piqued Xena's interest.
"When the sun shines past dawn. It's twilight now, so it won't be long."
'Gods!' Xena was aghast. 'I spent the whole night away from Gabrielle? She's going to be furious.'
Tanya was unaware of Xena's dilemma, so she went on. "I'm up, because the other galley workers woke me. I think they are slaves, and all men. Also, they're all foreigners like the monk who let me come aboard, except they speak not one bit of greek. I had no idea what they were talking about, until some of them got the message that I was ignorant of their language and started pointing at the oars."
She released a light chuckle. "They thought I was insane when I grabbed the oar and began rowing. That's when one of them became really creative. He directed my attention to the sun we could see through the aperture of where the oars were inserted. Next, he raised his hands to show me it represented sunrise. Then he imitated propelling the oar. Thank the gods for him."
Tanya paused for a moment, considering the Godslayer in front of her, and corrected her statement. "I mean, thank whatever gods remain. That's why I'm here now, to check on Brownie, before we row. I don't know when we'll get a break, and I don't want him to miss me, he can become edgy."
"You named your horse, Brownie?" Xena smirked.
"You named your mare, Argo Jr?" she retorted back.
"It's, Argo II." Xena replied.
"He was a going away present to me from my father. He is brown and I happen to like brownies, so there you have it." Tanya explained.
"To each its own." the Warrior Princess conceded while putting the brush into the saddle bags, when she discovered something amiss.
"Guess I was right, huh?" Tanya smiled.
"What?" Xena was still digging around.
"I told you, our paths will meet again. I'm more than assured that our destinies are connected." she answered.
"Don't get coincidence confused with destiny, Tanya." Gabrielle announced, coming up behind her.
Tanya was surprised by the amazon's sudden appearance. "Gabrielle, glad to meet you again."
"Likewise." the bard responded walking by her to stand beside Xena.
The dark haired woman acted like she was still searching for the other currency, that she already knew was gone. Xena could sense the displeasure for her pouring off of Gabrielle and was not ready to face her.
"Tanya, I want to be alone with Xena."
It wasn't a request, it was an order, and Tanya abided by it. "I'm going to check on my horse in the next stall and-"
"No." Gabrielle interjected. "I need for you to leave the stables. You can see to your horse later. This won't be long."
"Yup." Tanya agreed, spinning on her heels and leaving the stall to go back to the galleys.
Xena stood up onto her feet and walked to the side of Argo, creating a false barrier while squint aqua eyes gazed at her. "Purple Samurai, told you where I was?"
The blonde head nodded once.
"I'm sorry Gabrielle. I didn't mean to stay here in the stables all night."
"Save it, Xena. I knew that you weren't coming back to me. You were too absorbed by what's happening in Japa and everything that came before in your past there." she said.
"You're angry with me?" Xena asked.
"Not totally." Gabrielle replied before her features became somber.
Xena wasn't falling for the trap. It was many of times, Gabrielle would appear to be forgivable only to snare her in for the bite.
"I had a dream while I slept. It felt more like a vision than anything else. Identical to the ones I use to have all those years ago. You remember?"
"Yes." Xena responded, reminiscent of one in particular when she held off the Persian troops. Before she went one against an army, Gabrielle warned her about the Persian with the double edged sword.
"I awaken feeling slightly discontented. I needed you. I'm trying to get it out of my head, but I can't." the bard looked down.
Xena moved towards Gabrielle as she spoke on. "The jade gem of my ring is usually darken, but when I woke, it was glowing very brightly, then it stopped after I closed my eyes."
"It probably was your imagination running away from you." Xena insisted, pulling her lover into her arms. "I should have been there."
"Why did you leave me?" the muffled voice against her chest questioned.
'Damn it.' Xena fell for it and begun feeling the entrapment. If she gave a half truthful response, Gabrielle would see through it, and fuss. Answering whole heartedly, Xena could risk the bard not caring for what she's hearing, and fuss. The tall warrior could deny a reply altogether, and Gabrielle would fuss.
Xena prepared herself mentally hoping that her beautiful future wife wouldn't make her regret her decision. Disengaging from the embrace, she started to say. "This mission is causing mixed emotions in me. I want to help Harukata for the right reasons, but than I find myself wanting to fulfill my own selfish desires."
Gabrielle inquired. "Are you upset that our wedding will be put off?"
"No." Xena said, too vehemently for Gabrielle's pleasure. "If it was just that, this would be a piece of cake. I'd just decline aiding the Samurai and we would be heading to Egypt this instant."
"So why aren't we?" Gabrielle posed a different question, calming the fire within her.
"Akemi is much more important than all of that." Xena answered.
"Akemi's more imperative than our marriage!" Gabrielle felt the fire become an inferno.
"It isn't a comparison contest. Do not twist my words, before I can finish them." Xena was halting her ire.
"I'm not twisting anything, Xena. You are the one that said it. I'm not blind, I can see." the bard stated.
Exasperated, Xena demanded. "What do you see, hmm?"
"You promised that we would settle. We're not and you don't seem nonplussed by it at all. I don't even know why I would have the audacity to think you would care!" Gabrielle exclaimed.
"Things happen sometimes and it alter plans. Don't misconstrue my caring for wanting to restore Akemi's honor as apathy for me and your love."
"You have done a terrific job of that yourself, Xena. You didn't even..." Gabrielle breathed in to find a sense of calmness, but didn't. "You haven't bother to ask me if I wanted to take this trip to Japa. You made that sole decision and I accepted it. You have treated me like shit since you've heard the name Akemi and I accepted it. You leave me last night on the brink of copulating and I was accepting that, till now when you want to stand here, feeding me garbage about how you feel torn between helping Harukata for moral reasons. It all adds up to the same outcome. Going to Japa. I don't care about none of that, just honestly tell me why you left me last night?"
"This is the main purpose I didn't want to talk with you on this matter. I explained to you last night how my time in Japa effected me, not on a grand scale, but that's what I am trying to do now and you blatantly call me a liar when I'm telling you how I feel." Xena was offended. "How dare you!"
"You are a liar!" Gabrielle blared getting it off her chest and out in the open. "While we were in King Thoas kingdom in Thebes, when you proposed, you said to me that you had never fell in love with another person after Caesar. Clearly that isn't true, far from it. You're so caught up with Akemi, the only time I can get a reaction out of you is by mentioning her name. She's the basis of why you've forsaken me."
Xena turned away from the blonde amazon in rage. She took umbrage at Gabrielle's statement of falseness.
'I did not lie, I just pushed the memory of Akemi to the far recess of my mind to the extent of casting her out. I allowed myself to forget all about her. I spoke nothing but truths that night in bed with you. I'd confessed my love, my soul. I had bared my all to the woman I'll marry. Would have married.'
Xena kept silent, keeping all her thoughts where she felt they belong. In her head, safe and guarded, for it served no benefit to speak to Gabrielle about any of it, because she will continue to do exactly what Xena feared she would. Be pugnacious.
The dark woman's features was twisted in anger, before she replaced it with a stoic one she had perfected. Next, she walked over to the saddle bags to retrieve the brush once more and began grooming Argo again, her back still to her lover.
"Don't ignore this and pretend like I'm not here. Say something." the bard commanded.
Xena continued on what she was doing. Gabrielle's hand touched her arm to spin her around, but Xena shook her off forcefully. Gabrielle sucked her teeth and tried to do it a second time and Xena complied, but then shoved her a few steps backwards, shocking her.
"It would be wise if you refrain from touching me, little girl." Xena warned in an acerbic tone.
"Or what?" Gabrielle refused to cower. "You'll hit me... Again. With what this time, I wonder. Your fist, or chakram?"
Another blow to Xena's heart, but she didn't let her apathetic mask falter. "Touch me and find out."
The velvet clad amazon was hiding her discomposure. She had no idea what her soul mate would do, but she wasn't backing down due to stubborn pride.
"Xena Sama, and Gabrielle San." Kenji came in the nick of time. "Good morning. Forgive the intrusion, but the Shogun awaits both your presence, before breakfast."
The Warrior Princess tossed the brush into the open saddle bag and walked out the stall behind the monk.
Greenish blue irises watched her, thinking. 'Prehaps I've pushed Xena to the edge prematurely. She had never gotten this mad at me when she was wrong. Indifferent, but never violent.'
With a heavy conscious, Gabrielle followed as well.
To Be Continued
Seriously though, if you aren't reading both stories, you are going to miss out on the plot. So why don't you run over to, The Conqueror & Ri: A Twist of Destiny, and see what Gabrielle's twin, Ri is dreaming about. Darn it, I'm giving away the story. Thanks for reading. Nuff said.
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