Disclaimer: The Characters of Xena and Gabrielle belong to Renaissance Pictures/Universal Studios - whoever really owns the rights these days. The story however belongs to me.
Content Warning: No worse that what you would see on an actual episode during the sixth season. <grin>
Setting: This version of the story takes place between the events depicted in To Helicon and Back and A Friend in Need.
Gabrielle shook her head as she pulled her trusty sais out of her boot tops. "Do you think they'll ever learn Xena?"
"Nope. Course, then it wouldn't be nearly as much fun would it?" grinned Xena.
"Guess not. Shall we?" and Gabrielle gestured to the more than a dozen of Korloch's best men surrounding them.
Xena's only response was her classic war cry as she catapulted into battle. With lightning quick moves, she had two of her opponents down and was on to her third. Gabrielle wielded her Sais with lethal efficiency born of practice. Her Sais whipped back and forth flipping between offensive and defensive in a flash matching Xena foe for foe.
In only moments, they were down to the last opponent. He looked at his fallen comrades and took a step back, half turning to flee. Xena took this opportunity to apply the pinch. "I've just cut off the flow of blood to your brain," she said. "You have thirty seconds. Now tell me why you are following us."
Her opponent shuddered under the effects of the pinch, tried to take a breath and said, "Korloch knows that you are searching for the Bow of Artemis and he wants it for himself."
"What's he want with the Bow," asked Gabrielle, "it belongs with the Amazons."
"If he has the Bow he will be unstoppable in battle and can rule the world," answered Korloch's man.
Xena leaned close and sneered in the man's face, "You tell Korloch that he will never have the Bow as long as I live." With that she released the pinch and knocked him over the head with the pommel of her sword to give Gabrielle and herself a head start. Both women ran to their horses and vaulting over the backs for a quick mount rode off before any of their opponents regained consciousness.
As they galloped along Gabrielle wondered aloud, "How could they know we are looking for the Bow?"
"Many know that you are the Queen of the Amazons. If you wish to rebuild the Amazon Nation, you will need the Bow to do it. Whenever an arrow shot from the Bow of Artemis touches the earth without touching another living thing, a new Amazon springs forth to take their rightful place in the tribe."
"I know that, but no Amazon would ever follow Korloch in battle."
"An arrow shot from the Bow of Artemis also never misses its mark. It will always fly true and kill whatever it hits. With a weapon like that Korloch would be formidable indeed," answered Xena.
"Then we've got to stop him from getting it."
"This looks like the place that Phoebe described," said Gabrielle as she and the Warrior Princess reigned in their horses. They had come to the edge of a deep chasm, far below them a rushing river.
The women dismounted and Xena told the horses to head back to the Amazon camp, trusting that Argo would do just that and Gabrielle's roan would follow. "So where's the entrance supposed to be?" she asked.
"Phoebe said it was directly below a rock outcropping," Gabrielle replied as she scanned the cliff face for the cave's entrance. "There! There, I see it. It's about fifty feet down."
"I see it. Not a lot of hand holds. Better let me go. You stay here and keep watch for Korloch's men."
Gabrielle merely nodded as Xena began the treacherous, near vertical descent. Slowly Xena worked her way down the cliff face carefully finding hand and toeholds that would lead her to the lip of the cave.
Suddenly Gabrielle spotted movement within the trees. "Xena!" she shouted, "They're here!" In answer Xena hurried her pace; she was halfway down.
Gabrielle once again whipped out her Sais and prepared to defend herself. Ten screaming men charged out of the trees towards her. She slipped into a fighting crouch to meet the rush. Gabrielle dropped her shoulder into the charge of the first man, and lifting, used his own momentum to launch him over the side of the cliff.
"Xena! Look out!" Gabrielle shouted to warn her friend below of the falling man. In response, Xena tucked in as close to the cliff face as she could to avoid being hit.
Gabrielle spun, lunged, and kicked at her opponents in a deadly ballet. She let fly with a wheel kick that connected soundly with the jaw of one opponent as she stabbed one sai into the heart of another. Kicking a third man in the solar plexus, she rolled over his back and jammed the knuckle of both sais into the neck of a fourth knocking him unconscious. Gabrielle sensed one of Korloch's men charging in from behind her and jumped somersaulting over the man in front of her, leaving them to skewer each other.
Suddenly, Xena called up to Gabrielle, "There's some type of barrier protecting the Bow! I can't touch it. I think it's protected against non-Amazons."
"I'm coming!" yelled Gabrielle to her friend below. She looked up, and saw another dozen men charging through the trees toward her. Gabrielle took three running steps and leapt high, somersaulting over the cliff edge trusting that Xena would catch her. She had timed the jump perfectly keeping herself within a foot of the cliff face.
Xena braced herself as her friend sped through the air toward her. As she fell Gabrielle tucked into a ball, but reached out her right arm as she neared Xena. At the last possible second Xena reached up and grabbed Gabrielle's arm. Xena swung with all her might, and pulled Gabrielle twisting through an arc into the cave. Gabrielle somersaulted once on the floor and with the last of the momentum rose to vertical.
"Nice move," Gabrielle said to Xena.
"I was thinking the same thing about your leap and roll," said Xena grinning down at Gabrielle.
Together they walked farther into the cave. Gabrielle spotted the Bow of Artemis lying on a glowing stone altar. She approached and reached out her hand to take the Bow. Gabrielle hesitated. "What happened when you tried to take the Bow?" she asked Xena.
"I got a nasty shock, but you shouldn't have anything to worry about. You're the Queen of the Amazons, who better to wield the Bow than you?"
Tentatively she placed her hand on the Bow. She felt a slight thrilling tingle of power as she lifted the Bow from its resting place. Raising the Bow of Artemis over her head she declared, "With this Bow I rebuild the Amazon Nation."
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