The Keeper of My Soul--Always 11
by: Alex P.
As the women slipped noiselessly through the night, Xena could feel the bloodlust start to build in her. She knew that if she gave in to her addiction to carnage, and truly let the beast loose, it would endanger everyone involved including her bard.
In order to keep her inner beast at bay, the warrior princess did the only thing she knew of that curbed her darker appetites for sure. Xena let her thoughts wander away from the coming battle, and allowed them to drift to her one safe haven, Gabrielle.
She thought of their time together. From the first time she'd seen the feisty little farm girl facing off against the slavers, and how brave and beautiful that youngster had been. How much the little warrior-bard had changed over the years they'd been traveling together, and how much her lover had remained the same.
Xena found her mind conjuring up pictures of the golden-haired, emerald-eyed,
Amazon queen, bard, warrior, companion, and mate. She saw the woman's muscles moving as she wielded her staff and her supple body weaving gracefully as she used her sai.
There were clear also pictures of the bard, and scholar, as she squinted and
bit her tongue as she struggled for just the right word or phrase to make her scroll say exactly the right thing. As they neared the slaver
caravan, Xena thought back to their first night as lovers.
The way Gabrielle's eyes had sparkled with love, adoration, and anticipation. How the bard's body pressed against Xena's own and the feather light touches as small soft fingers caressed Xena's skin. How her skin burned with desire with every touch.
She recalled how soft, wet, and sweet her bard's mouth had been as the kisses escalated from tender expressions of love, to fiery declarations of need and desire.
Xena's mind was a whirl of memories. Shy, tentative, touches, hard muscles under smooth soft skin, desperate groping hands, probing
fingers, and tongues, the sweet arousing taste of sweat, mixed with the gloriously musky flavor of her love's arousal, tangled limbs and cries of ecstasy kept the warrior's mind delightfully distracted from her dark thoughts of death.
She smiled knowing that the only thing in this life more powerful than her craving for the smells, sounds, and bloodlust, of battle, was her overwhelming desire for the love of the blonde bard.
The warrior's attention was snapped back to the present by the warbling cry of a night bird, the signal from the Amazons that the perimeter guards were dead, and the way was clear to enter the camp.
On Xena's command, a dozen silent phantoms emerged from the shadows around the camp, and began flitting through the darkened area, pausing briefly at each huddled lump just long enough to kneel and insert a deadly blade.
The scouts-turned-assassins had dispatched nearly half the sleeping soldiers before all Tartarus broke loose. Xena and her squad had just finished off the officers in the last of three tents, when one of the younger of the Amazons turned and ran into an officer just returning from a trip to the bushes.
As he entered the tent and saw the blood splattered apparition, the officer drew a dagger and attacked her.
She managed to gut the intruder with her short sword, but not before he shouted out the alarm.
To their credit, most of the soldiers left responded as well as anyone could expect, and Xena soon found herself in the middle of the enemy camp with only four Amazons, surrounded by at least a dozen tired and angry soldiers.
She let her mind go blank, and allowed her well-honed battle skills to take
The sounds of clashing steel and war cries filled the cool night air as Xena hacked her way through her opponents, spraying blood and bits of bone and flesh in her wake.
She didn't even seem to notice the numerous nicks, cuts, and gashes she was receiving as she fought through the mass of humanity. The ravening beast of her bloodlust was loose and wreaking havoc.
Her azure eyes searched the dimly lit camp trying to locate where Gabrielle and the other captives might be held. Over the din of the surrounding battle, the warrior heard Aentia's signal that the Queen had been found and was safe.
Xena's lips curled into a frightening feral smile and her features turned darkly vacant as the beast forced her attention back to the battle at hand.
The soldiers must have regrouped, because Xena suddenly found herself confronted by a growing wave of determined defenders. She felt, rather than saw, two of her allies go down, one with a spear through her thigh and the other with a dagger in the stomach.
The warrior fought on relentlessly, her sword a whirling blur inflicting serious damage on anyone foolish enough to come close. The cries of the wounded were drowned out by Xena's fearsome battle cry as she launched herself over the heads of her opponents.
As she somersaulted over them, the warrior struck out with her blade, splitting the skull of one, while the follow through decapitated another.
Her feet hit the ground and she lunged, impaling a man through his chest. The
sounds of tearing flesh and splintering bone was counterpointed by the screams of the wounded. Together they formed the symphony of war, a tune Xena was a virtuoso at conducting.
Xena noticed the enemy troops were trying to escape, then she heard the sound of the other two groups battling their way to her but the beast refused to be put back in it's cage.
The fierce warrior was completely in the grip of her dark side, as she pursued the retreating soldiers, mercilessly cutting them down from behind. Then she found herself without an enemy to persue.
As quickly as it had begun, the fierce battle was over. Xena turned to her weary scouts, and tried to see what kind of shape they were in. Besides the two seriously wounded ones, almost all the others had some sort of injury. Her inspection would have continued but she was interrupted.
"Xena!" a familiar voice cried out joyfully, as a blonde, blurring, object
struck her chest and two strong arms wrapped around her neck. A pair of soft lips covered hers in a soul-searing, passionate kiss. Both women collapsed to their knees, unable to stand with exhaustion and relief.
As quickly as that, the howling beast was back in it's cage securely locked away. Just the sound of her bard's voice was enough to bring the fierce warrior away from the abyss of madness that was the beast she lived with.
They separated only when the need for oxygen forced them to.
"I knew you'd come for me," a jubilant Gabrielle gasped. "I was afraid you'd c-come alone and get yourself h-hurt."
"Oh gods, Brie, I thought I may have lost you," Xena whispered, tears of joy streaming down her face. "Are you alright? Did they hurt you?"
The warrior held her bard out at arm's length, inspecting the well known body for injuries. Gabrielle returned the look, and saw the numerous cuts and gashes, most of them not serious, but a few requiring stitches.
The Amazons gathered their wounded and formed a protective circle around their queen and her champion; all smiling at the open display of affection the two were expressing for each other.
Aentia watched the lovers for a few moments while one of her scouts bandaged a sword wound the commander had in her shoulder.
She chuckled and shook her head as she watched the two legendary lovers hug and kiss and grope each other, completely oblivious to the blood and gore that covered them, and the fact they were in the middle of a battle field. After spending a few moments letting each other know how happy they were to be reunited, and how they'd never separate again, and all the other exaggerated, impossible, promises lovers make when they've had that kind of scare, they returned to reality and began gathering everyone in preparation for leaving.
While Gabrielle went around tending to the wounded, Xena and Aentia began organizing everyone to leave.
There were over thirty more people that had been taken from Ciros and it was necessary to assess their abilities, and how they would stand up to the forced march the group was about to undertake.
It was up to the two veterans to handle the logistics of moving the entire group as quickly as possible to a defendable position. Xena was still sure that the warlord Karcax, and his army would be coming up from behind them.
The first red and orange streaks of dawn were lighting the eastern horizon by the time everyone finished their assignments. It was decided to try to feed everyone before they began the move to an old fortress that Xena knew about, that was less than two days journey west toward Amazon lands.
While the Amazons passed out food to the freed civilians, Xena, Gabrielle, and Aentia sat together to discuss their next step.
"I only hope the old place is still standing," Xena said quietly, not wanting the civilians to know that their sanctuary might not be there. "It's been a long time since I was there, but as long as the outer walls are partially intact, we should be able to hold out till Tessa gets there
The other two women looked at her as she added, "I hope"
"I'm sorry I got you all involved in this," Gabrielle sighed, knowing how
hard it was for her partner to have to take responsibility for all the freed prisoners. "I should have listened to you and stayed in Amazonia until you came and got me."
"No, Brie, don't take this on yourself," Xena was adamant, not wanting her sensitive bard to shoulder more guilt, she already blamed herself for Tauria and Kala. "You can't be held accountable for every warlord that comes along. You were just another innocent victim of someone else's greed, that's all there is to it."
"That is true, my Queen," Aentia added. "You acted in an honorable and responsible way when circumstances forced you. You didn't go looking for a warlord to fight, you just had the misfortune to be in a town when something bad happened."
"That's right, sweetheart," the warrior agreed, grateful for Aentia's help
with her sensitive bard. "If there'd been an earthquake, would you blame yourself for it?"
Gabrielle nodded her head seeing their point, but still, in her heart, she
herself for the young Amazon, Kala's death. At least she knew that Xena had found Tauria and had taken care of her.
Now if she could just figure out why her warrior was avoiding looking her in the eye.