Something More Than This

By Ariel (

General Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me, except for those that are not XWP cannon, the rest belong to Ren Pics. No copyright infringement is intended. The poetry in this story are lyrics to songs by October Project and in one case a song written by Buddy Mondlock.

Sex/Violence Disclaimer: There is some of both. This story is decidedly bisexual. There is both subber and shipper text within. This story is NC-17 and is only intended for mature audiences. This story contains both consensual and non-consensual sex and bdsm, though which is which may not always be readily apparent at first. If this is not your cup-o-joe or it is illegal to read where you live, by all means get out now while you still can.

Timeline: This is a timeline of my own making, which supposes that Xena met Gabrielle for the first time when Gabrielle was a child. Hercules was never born. Xena never ran the Gauntlet, nor did she slaughter Amazons with Alti. We begin at a time before Xena was beholden to Ares but Xena is well on her way to becoming The Conqueror.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to all the bards who write conqueror stories, and most especially to Dark Angel for breaking away from the pack.



It was the winter of her nineteenth year. Her army had been crushing the King’s army since Messene. They would rest now. Victory in the next battle meant the King would fall. Corinth would be hers. If everything went according to plan, by the time the end-of-summer rains fell, all of Greece would be under her rule. Of course she was much too ambitious to settle for Greece alone, but it would take time to build her empire. She would bring them down, ruler by ruler. It would be glorious.

The tall woman with long dark hair and striking blue eyes sat atop her golden mare and smiled as she took in her surroundings. There would be plenty of time later to plan a nation forged in her image. Today there was work to be done. While her army set up camp, she led a small group of soldiers into a nearby town to demand tribute. It was a farming town so she didn’t expect any trouble. One scout and five soldiers plus herself should be plenty. They would hitch wagons to some of the horses to carry the supplies back to camp.

"Hey Talmus," she called to one of her commanders. "What’s the name of this town we’re raiding?"

"I’m not sure, my lord," he told her "Potapia… potalea… something like that."

"Poteidaia," the young man riding on her left informed her.

"Thank you Brendan," Xena smirked at Talmus and added, "At least now we know who has the brains in this operation."

She looked back at the young guard who was smiling, looking quite pleased with himself. ‘Good,’ she thought, ‘he could use some confidence.’

She had chosen young Brendan for this mission because she saw great potential behind his sometimes nervous exterior. This was working out nicely.

They rode on in silence for a little while before she called the men to a halt by raising her left arm, showing them her palm. Talmus was just about to ask when she spoke in a whisper. "Shhhhh rider approaching." She peered into the trees in the direction of the hoof beats, which were now audible to the men. Talmus started to draw his weapon when Xena relaxed. "Put it away Talmus, it’s just Henry," she told him. Just then the scout rode up on his steed and stopped near Xena.

"Henry? You were supposed to wait for us at the edge of the forest. Why are you here?" she asked. Her tone was even and the scout could tell she was more concerned than angry with him for disobeying orders.

"I’m sorry, my liege, but there’s something there I think you should see," Henry told her. "Quickly," he added.

"What is it man? Is the town on fire?"

"No, my liege, it is a child."

"A child? You disobey my orders for a child?" Xena was beginning to get angry.

"I believe you will be interested in this child. I know how my lord feels about the punishment of children. This is worse than any I’ve seen…"he explained.

"Ok" she said, "I’ll take a look. Talmus you bring the men in at a regular pace. I will ride ahead with Henry to see the unfortunate child."

"Yes, my liege," Talmus replied.

As Xena rode off with the scout, Talmus was planning their visit to the town with the remaining men.

Henry was anxious to fill Xena in on the details as they moved quickly towards the village.

"It is a girl child, my lord. Not more than ten summers old, if that. She’s shackled to a fence and it looks like she’s taken quite a beating," he told the warrior. Xena urged her horse to a faster pace.

When they reached the edge of the forest, Henry moved to the right. "This way, my liege," he said leading her towards a house just over a small rise. When they were close to the house, but far enough away that the horses hadn’t been heard, they dismounted and traveled the rest of the way on foot. "Around the other side of the barn," Henry whispered, "I’ll watch your back."

"Good man," she said and moved around the house towards the barn.

As she rounded the corner to the far side of the barn her stomach lurched and it’s contents threatened to revisit. Just as Henry said, a small girl was shackled to the fence, barely conscious. The dirty shift she wore had been all but torn off her bloodied back by a whip. Xena moved so that the girl would see her approach and not be startled. Even so, as soon as the girl spotted the warrior, her eyes widened in fear.

"No please," the girl cried in a whisper, "please no more." Her face was covered in bruises.

"Shhhhhhhhhh it’s ok little one," Xena spoke as if calming a skittish horse, "I’m not going to hurt you. Shhhhhhh it’s ok."

The girl seemed to relax and Xena moved to her side. As the warrior pulled out her dagger the girl moaned pitifully. "No, no it’s ok child. I’m going to get you out of these shackles," Xena soothed. She opened the locks, careful not to hurt the child any further. When the second lock was undone, the girl’s knees buckled and she collapsed onto the dark haired woman. Xena held her and brought her to the ground. She gently cradled the child in her arms. "Shhhhh," she whispered as she smoothed the girl’s dirty hair and tried to assess her injuries.

"You took quite a beating, little one." Xena continued to gently caress the child while she looked her over. "You must be pretty tough though. I know grown men who would have passed out at a whipping like that." Her eyes met the child’s and when the warrior smiled, the girl smiled back weakly. "What’s your name, girl?" Xena asked, staring into the child’s bright green eyes.

"Gabrielle," the girl whispered hoarsely.

"That’s a very pretty name Gabrielle," Xena said as she wiped the girl’s face with a soft flannel she had pulled from her pocket.

"How old are you Gabrielle?"

"Ni… nine summers ma’am. Ten at the start of next season."

"You’re a brave little girl Gabrielle. Do you know who did this to you?"

"Yes ma’am."

"Can you tell me?" Xena had leaned the child forward and was carefully cleaning the blood from the girl’s back.

"My father, ma’am."

"Your WHAT?" Xena gasped her head jerking up so fast it almost snapped off.

"Mmmmmy fa… father…."

Xena tried to stuff her rising anger back down long enough to get the child to safety. "Is your father in the house, Gabrielle?" She asked calmly.

"I… I think so ma’am," the child’s teeth were chattering, whether from fear or a chill, Xena didn’t know.

"Ok c’mon Gabrielle," Xena said standing up, the child in her arms.

"Wait! Where are you taking me," Gabrielle began to panic. "He’ll kill me."

"Shhhh little one. He’s not going to hurt you anymore," Xena told her as she carried the child towards where Henry was hiding. "He’ll never lay another hand on you. I’ll see to that." The warrior’s blue eyes were steely with anger.

As Xena approached, Henry stood. "Is she alive, my lord?" he asked quietly.

"Yes Henry. She’s a strong one. Good call coming to get me, though. I don’t know how much longer she would have survived if left there."

"So what are we going to do with her?"

"Well, first you are going to hold her while I go take care of her father. After that we’ll figure out what to do next."

Xena gently handed the girl over to Henry, who took the child gently in his arms. As the warrior turned towards the house, the child grabbed her arm.

"It’s ok child," she tried to reassure the girl, "I’ll be right back."

"Please," the girl rasped, "Please don’t hurt him." Her green eyes pleaded with the warrior. "Promise me you won’t hurt him. Please," she begged.

Xena stared at the child for a long moment as if she could not believe what she was hearing. Finally she spoke quietly, "Ok, I promise," she said caressing the girl’s cheek with the back of her hand. Looking up at Henry and then back at the girl, Xena told her, "Henry will stay with you until I get back. But then we’re taking you away from here. Ok?"

"Ok," the child whispered, then closed her eyes and rested her head on Henry’s chest. As Xena turned towards the house again, Henry began to rock the child and hum a lullaby. ‘He’s a good man,’ thought the warrior.

Xena reached the front of the house quickly and quietly. She stepped up on the porch without making a sound, and drew her sword. Standing directly in front of the door she kicked it open with a loud crash. The splinters from the abused wood fell to the floor like snowflakes. Inside she saw the stunned faces of a man, woman and another young girl.

"By the gods!" the woman gasped as the tall warrior entered. The man’s face had changed from stunned to annoyed. "We don’t have nothin'," he said with an edge, "The last warlord cleaned us out."

"I don’t want your bounty!" Xena spat, her icy eyes fixed on the man. "I want to know what kind of animal beats his own daughter half to death and then leaves her for nature to finish the job…"Her lips were curled into a ferocious snarl.

"What I do with my kin is none of your concern, warrior," the man spat back. Xena glanced over at the woman who was crying and hugging the other child to herself, tightly.

"Girl needed to be taught a lesson," the arrogant man continued.

"She can’t learn if she’s dead," Xena growled through clenched teeth, "What crime could that child have committed? Did she leave her little dolly out for you to trip over in a drunken stupor?" It was taking all of her self-control not to relieve the man of his head.

"She wastes time telling foolish stories," the man said, his anger at being questioned evident in his voice. "She needs to learn that fairytales are for the simple minded. But as I said, my kin are none of your concern. Move along warrior, you’ll find nothing here."

Before he even finished speaking she was on him, her sword at his throat.

"You should learn to pick on someone your own size," she snarled. "And YOU!" she looked at the woman, "How could you allow such treatment? You’re her MOTHER!"

The woman turned away and hugged the other child even tighter.

The warrior spat disgustedly and turned her attention back to the man. "I’d kill you right now! But I promised Gabrielle that I wouldn’t hurt you." She pushed him away and leveled her sword at his chest when he moved to attack her.

"Oh give me reason! PLEASE!" she hissed. He raised his hands, palms forward in surrender. "What’s your name, animal?"


"Well listen here Herodotus. This is how it’s going to be. I am going to ride out of here with your daughter. You will not look for her. You will not ask about her. You will not even think about her!" Xena’s body was tight with the effort of not running the man through with her sword. "If you so much as whisper her name, I will come back here, string you up and take your wife and other child," she assured him. Xena reached down, pulled a pouch from her belt and threw it at the man. "Here!" she spat," It’s more than you’d have gotten for her at auction in her condition." She hoped the dinars would help the woman and child but knew more than likely that the man would drink them away by season’s end.

The warrior turned to leave. From behind her the man asked, "Who are you?" Xena stopped, re-sheathed her sword and told him, "Xena… the Conqueror." She smiled ferally and continued out the door, slamming it shut behind her.

Outside she saw that the rest of her men had arrived. Talmus and Henry met her, Talmus leading her horse, Henry still holding the girl, who seemed to be sleeping. Xena looked at him with concern "Is she..."

"Sleeping," he told her, "but we need to get her to a healer quickly."

"Talmus, you and the men collect our supplies. Henry and I are taking the child back to camp."

"Yes, my lord," Talmus said and turned to walk towards the men.

"Oh, and Talmus?" she called after him loosening the other pouch on her belt.

"Yes, my lord?"

"Pay for what we need," she told him, tossing him the pouch. "The local warlords have robbed these folks of enough."

"Yes, my lord," he said smiling and turning again.

"Ok Henry, let’s go."

"Can you hold her while I mount, my liege?"

"I’ll take her," she told the scout as she mounted her mare. Once she was settled, she reached down and gently gathered the child in her arms.

"Ok Argo," Xena addressed the horse, "fast and gentle. We have precious cargo, girl."

She was answered with a snort as Henry approached and they set off towards camp.

About halfway back to camp the girl woke up. Xena looked down into the girl's sea green eyes as the girl spoke. "Where are we?" she whispered

"I'm taking you to a healer."

"Did you...?"

"No," Xena cut her off, "but I promise you, he'll never hurt you again. I need to ask you something, Gabrielle. And I need for you to answer me honestly. Can you do that?"

The girl nodded.

"The other girl... is that your sister?"

"Yes, Lila," the girl nodded again.

"Is she safe there?"

The girl lowered her eyes and thought for a minute

"Yes," she said finally, "Father says she's a good girl. She does what she's told."

They continued on in silence for a few moments, and then the girl spoke again.

"What will happen to me, ma’am?"

Xena smiled down at the child.

"I'm going to find you a family who will be kind to you, Gabrielle. And you can tell all the stories you care to."

The girl looked down, "I don't think I should tell stories, ma’am. Father says only simple minded people tell stories. That's why he punishes me. It’s just that I forget..." her voice trailed off.

"Oh Gabrielle," Xena said gently, moving her left arm further under the girl’s shoulders so she could hold the reigns in her left hand. She used her right hand to caress Gabrielle’s face. Tears had begun to fall from the child's eyes. "Your father punished you because he's a fool. I'm sure your stories are wonderful. Maybe when you feel better you will tell me a story."

The girl smiled up at her.

"I would like that, ma’am," she whispered.

Xena continued to stroke the girl's hair and face. Before long the girl leaned her body closer to the warrior and once again fell asleep. Xena switched the reigns back to her right hand, held the girl tightly, and urged the horse to a faster pace. A candlemark later they entered the camp.

"Henry, take the horses," Xena said, dismounting with the girl held tightly in her arms. "Yes, my lord," Henry answered, dismounting himself and taking both horses towards the makeshift stable.

"You!" Xena called to a nearby soldier.

"Yes, my liege?" the young man rushed over and stood at attention.

"Go get the healer and have him come to my tent immediately."

"Yes, my liege," the soldier turned and broke into a run.

Xena moved quickly to her tent. Once inside she gently lowered the child onto the soft furs of her bed. She rolled the girl onto her stomach and cut away the cotton of her shift to better assess the injuries.

The lash marks were raw and bloodied. What concerned Xena most was the skin around the cuts. It was red, angry and hot to the touch suggesting infection had set in. Xena put her hand on the girl’s forehead and confirmed her fear. The child was burning up. She tried to rouse the girl with no response. The warrior filled a kettle with water and put it by the fire to heat. Then she began cutting and crushing herbs. Moments later the healer entered the tent.

"You called for me, my lord?"

"Sarrick… the girl…" she motioned to the bed.

Sarrick moved to the bed and began to assess the child. "By the gods, my lord!" he exclaimed, "Who would do this to a child?"

"Her own father," Xena replied through tight lips.

The healer stopped and looked at Xena, a stunned expression on his face.

"And the man, my liege? Is he…"

"No," she said grimly, "she made me promise not to hurt him."

"Perhaps that is best," he said, returning to his task.

They worked on the girl for many candlemarks, cleaning and stitching wounds, applying poultices to bruises and scrapes. At one point the child regained consciousness long enough to drink some of the healing tea Sarrick had prepared. The reprieve was short lived as the girl went under again quickly.

When they had done all they could, Sarrick wiped his brow and pulled a reluctant Xena to the other side of the tent.

"We’ve done all we can now, my lord," he said quietly.

Xena nodded, never taking her eyes off the girl.

"You need to eat something and rest. Only time will prove out the child’s fate now."

"Have someone send a meal in here, I’m not leaving."

"Ok, my lord," he said gently, "but promise me you will rest."

The warrior remained silent.

"Xeeeena…" he demanded with the gentleness of a loving parent. "Promise me."

"Ok," she said, taking on the demeanor of a petulant child, "I promise."

Sarrick smiled and turned to leave. When he was almost to the exit she called after him.


"Yes, Xena?"

"Do you think she’ll be ok?" she asked quietly.

"I hope so, Xena. I truly hope so." With that he turned and left the tent.

Xena walked back to the bed and sat next to the child, gently stroking the girl's hair.

Some time later a meal and a bath were delivered to Xena's tent. She ate a little and drank some wine. Before she bathed, she stripped the girl and washed her as best she could. Xena pulled out the smallest shirt she could find and put it on the girl. Then she carried the girl back to bed and wrapped the still feverish child in warm furs. Xena climbed into the tub still facing the child. As she bathed, she sang a song her mother used to sing to her when she was a little girl. Later still, she arranged some old furs on the floor beside the bed. After checking the child again, she curled up on the old furs and slept.


The next sunset found little change in the girl's condition. The fever seemed to have loosened its hold on the child slightly, but no amount of coaxing could rouse her. When Sarrick came for his evening check, Xena was worried to the point of panic.

"Sarrick, you must do something. She still won't wake," the warrior demanded

"I'm sorry, Xena. I am limited by the resources we have here," he explained, "I'm afraid she needs more than that now."

"So we will take her to Corinth. Surely they have what she needs."

"Yes my lord, we could do that. But Corinth is at least a two days ride. You would have to send an unarmed soldier. Surely every member of the Royal Army from here to the city is looking to decimate your troops and bring your head to King Baylor," Sarrick tried to reason with the woman.

She thought about it for a moment. "No I am staying with her," she said. She walked back to the bed and stroked the sleeping girl's cheek. "Sarrick, rig me up a harness so I can keep her in front of me while I ride," she said suddenly, "I know where I can take her."

"Yes, my lord," he said sounding confused. "I'll call for a few men to accompany you," he told her.

"No!" she said sharply, "I go alone with the child."

"Very well," he told her and took his leave.

Xena pulled some leggings on the child and pulled another shirt over the child's head. The clothing was so big on the girl it was almost comical. She wrapped the girl in a thick blanket and laid her back on the bed. Xena then dressed herself in warm clothes and minimal armor, putting most of her weapons away in the cupboard. She situated her breast dagger, then tucked a small set of blades into her boots. When she was satisfied with her attire, she picked up the girl and headed for the stable

As she approached the tent housing the horses Talmus met up with her.

"My lord," he said with concern, "Sarrick tells me you mean to ride out with the child alone."

"Yes, that is true Talmus."

"Surely that's unwise, my lord. "

"I will be fine, Talmus."

"But my..."

"No! I said I’d be fine. End of discussion. "

"Yes my lord," he said, bowing his head. He pulled a small pouch from his belt. Handing it to her he said, "This is what's left after we purchased supplies."

"You paid fair prices?" she asked.

"Yes my lord."

She handed the pouch back to the man. "Have some of the men ride back to town and put this in the coffers for the poor."

"Yes, my lord," he smiled at her. As he turned to go she stopped him with a hand on his arm. "How did young Brendan do on the mission?"

"He did fine, my lord. He shows great promise."

"Good," she said releasing the man’s arm. He walked off whistling to himself. Just then Sarrick arrived with her mount and a makeshift harness. He took the girl from Xena’s arms.

"Thank you, Sarrick," she said climbing atop the mare.

Sarrick handed her the harness and she strapped it to herself. Then he handed up the child. Xena arranged the belts around the child and tightened it as much as possible. The child was snuggled tightly against the warrior’s chest. After several adjustments, Xena was satisfied with the fit.

"Do be careful my liege," Sarrick said.

"I will Sarrick. You take good care of my men. I should be back in two days time," she told him.

"I will, my lord," he replied.

"And Sarrick?"

"Yes lord?"

"Keep an eye on Talmus, he’s up to something."

"I will, my lord."

Sarrick handed her the reigns and patted the large mare. With a slight nudge of Xena’s heels they were off.

The warrior rode through the night. She couldn’t go as fast as she would have liked because the terrain was rough. She didn’t want to jostle the child any more than was necessary. Just before daybreak she stopped to rest for a short time. She kept the child strapped to her chest and stroked the girl’s hair as she rested. Around midday, Xena reached the edges of land she knew to be Amazon territory. When she heard the sounds of a patrol approaching, sounds that would be inaudible to most, she pulled her horse to a stop and clasped her hands together above her head.

Seconds later, no less than fifteen Amazons dropped from the trees. One of the Amazons, a blonde, approached. She looked to be sixteen or seventeen summers.

"What’s your business here, warrior?" the Amazon asked.

Xena kept her hands above her head knowing the child was securely strapped to her. "My name is Xena. I am an acquaintance of Queen Melosa. This child needs a healer."

The young woman nodded then stepped back to confer with her compatriots. Xena saw one young woman run off, presumably to announce her arrival to Queen Melosa. Moments later the blonde Amazon returned.

"You need to give me your weapons, warrior."

Xena reached into her shirt and handed over the breast dagger. The Amazon looked it over then looked back at Xena.

"All your weapons," she demanded.

Xena smiled sheepishly and reached into her boot to hand over two smaller daggers. The Amazon received them. "These will be returned to you when you leave," she assured Xena. "Follow me," she added. The blonde began to walk away when Xena spoke. "What’s your name Amazon?" The woman turned and answered, "I am Ephiny," then turned again. This time Xena urged Argo to follow. Two other Amazons accompanied them, the rest, presumably, returning to their posts.

After walking for a long while in silence, Ephiny slowed until Xena caught up to her. Looking up at the warrior she asked, "What’s wrong with the child, Xena?" Xena put her hand on Gabrielle’s neck and kissed her head tenderly, then looked down at Ephiny. "She was beaten half to death by her father and then shackled to a fence. She was barely conscious when we found her. And now…" She looked at the child and stroked her face. Ephiny patted Xena’s leg, "Our healer will do whatever she can, Xena."

A candlemark later they entered the village. The welcoming committee had been assembled but Xena could tell they weren’t feeling very friendly.

"Queen Melosa," Xena started as her old acquaintance stepped forward.

"What’s your business here, warrior?" Melosa spat the last word with the venom of a viper.

"The child… she needs a healer," Xena explained.

"You’re a healer, Xena," Melosa said arrogantly, "quite an accomplished healer if I remember correctly," she paused as she moved closer to the tall warrior, "And you were told never to set foot on Amazon land again," she whispered through clenched teeth quietly enough that only Xena could hear.

"I’m sorry, Queen Melosa," Xena said, barely above a whisper, "But the child needs more than I can provide."

The two women locked eyes, Xena’s pleading blues versus Melosa’s cold hard browns. Finally, Melosa softened. She waved forward a few guards. "Take the child to the healer’s yurt," she told them. Xena began to extricate the child from the harness. She handed the girl down to the guards gently. "Her name is Gabrielle," she told the large woman who held the girl. The Amazon looked at the warrior, "We’ll do whatever we can," she assured. Xena smiled weakly.

"Dorian," Melosa called. Another young woman emerged from the crowd. "See to Xena’s horse," she told the young Amazon. Xena dismounted and handed over the reigns. She knew better than to questions the Queen right now.

When the horse and child were attended to, Melosa turned back towards the tall warrior. The Queen’s eyes raked over Xena like a butcher examining a prized cow. "Come conqueror," she said at last, "share a meal with me. I’m sure you must be hungry after so much traveling. You look like you could use some good food and drink." Melosa smiled but Xena remained cautious. She didn’t dare ask Melosa how she knew the distance Xena had traveled.

"So tell me, Xena," Melosa asked as they walked towards the dining hut, "have you taken up beating small children for sport?" Xena winced but said nothing. Melosa led the warrior into the dining hut. The two sat at the Queen’s table. It was well past lunch and long before the evening meal. The hut was mostly empty. Melosa signaled one of the women working there and a flagon of wine was brought to the table. Xena reached over to pour herself a cup when Melosa grabbed her hand.

"I’m sorry, Xena. I was trying to provoke you. That was wrong of me."

"It’s ok Queen Melosa. I understand that you are angry with me."

"Xena, we are alone. You can drop the Queen shit."

Xena caressed the back of Melosa’s hand with her thumb. "Look Melosa, if it makes a difference, I’m sorry about the way things turned out between us."

"It does," the Queen told her, holding her gaze.

"I was much too young to understand what you were offering me. I should never have led you on," Xena told her gently.

"Xena, I should have known better than to think I could hold you. You are like an eagle. You need to be able to soar. I banished you because I was hurt. You were with Borias and I was jealous." Both women looked away for a long moment. "Are you still with him?" the Queen asked.

"No he’s… He’s gone. He was killed…"

"I’m sorry"

"Thank you. So am I." Xena took a deep breath. Melosa released her hand and Xena finished pouring her wine, downed a full cup then poured another. More silence.

"So who did that to the child?" Melosa said finally, changing the subject.

Xena started to answer when the kitchen staff arrived carrying platters of food. Once the meal was situated and they were alone again, Xena answered the question.

"Her father did it," she told the woman, "Said he was punishing her for telling stories. I swear, Mel, if I hadn’t gotten to her when I did she’d be dead."

Melosa shook her head and sipped her own wine.

"And how did you find her Xena?" the Amazon asked with interest. "Were you out for a ride when you came upon her?"

"No…" Xena said sheepishly. "I was leading my men to raid the village."

Melosa’s eyes widened and she raised an eyebrow.

"We didn’t do it!" Xena explained. "After we found the child I made my men pay for the supplies."

"Ummmhmmmm," Melosa nodded. "And the father? Did you run him through? Or lop off his head?""

"You know Mel, those were the two options I was considering," Xena smiled. "But no… the girl made me promise not to hurt him."

"I’m impressed, Xena." The Queen looked as though she wanted to continue but she stayed quiet.

"Are you impressed that I showed some self control or that I kept a promise?" Xena asked, finishing her wine and pouring another cup.

"Both I guess," Melosa admitted with raised eyebrows. "Seriously though, Xe, it’s for the best. The girl would never forgive your killing her father. Even after what he did."

Xena nodded. She looked down at her hands as if trying to gather her nerve. After a few moments she said, "Mel, if she makes it, I want you to keep her here. Raise her as an Amazon."

"Oh Xena! Won’t her family be looking for her?"

"Screw her family, Mel. They didn’t care about her when she was with them. They left her for dead. Why would they care if she’s gone? One less mouth to feed." Xena was quiet for a moment then she continued quietly, "Besides, I paid for her. Technically she’s mine."

"You did WHAT?" Melosa asked, shocked.

"I gave her father one hundred dinars. He didn’t give it back. That means he accepted the deal. She’s mine," Xena said with a slightly annoyed tone.

Melosa reached across the table and took Xena’s hand again. "Ok Xe, Ok. But let’s see how she does before we make any firm plans for her future. Ok?" Xena nodded and finished her third cup of wine. They ate the rest of the meal in silence, each woman lost in her own thoughts.


"Are you finished, Xe? We can go check on the child. Amaya should have something to tell us by now."

"Sure," Xena told her, "lead the way, Your Majesty."

Xena winked and Melosa threw her a look before leading the way out of the dining hut. They walked quickly through the village to the healer’s hut. Melosa put her hand on Xena’s arm as they walked up the stairs and through the door. Xena looked around and spotted the smiling child sitting up eating an apple. She was freshly bathed and had on a properly fitted shift.

"Gabrielle! You’re awake!" Xena practically shouted. She rushed to the child’s cot and hugged her.

"Hello ma’am," the girl said.

"Xena, call me Xena."

"The Warrior Princess?" Gabrielle asked with wide eyes.

"Yes, that’s me," Xena told her. "Why? Do you know me?"

"I’ve heard stories about you from traveling bards," the child said matter-of-factly. The girl looked up at the warrior who was looking down with concern.

"Don’t worry, I don’t believe those stories, Xena," the child assured the tall woman. "Most stories are made up. Or they’re only a little true. All my stories are made up. Even the ones that are about real stuff have made up parts in them. Besides, if you were as mean as they say you wouldn’t have helped me."

‘Wow this kid can talk!’ Xena thought.

"How do you feel Gabrielle?" Xena asked gently.

"Ok. Just tired and my back is sore."

"I’ll bet. Listen Gabrielle, why don’t you get some rest. I’ll come back and check on you later. Maybe then you can tell me a story. Ok?"

"Ok Xena," the child said handing the apple core to the warrior and lying down.

Xena tossed the core into the nearest refuse canister. Leaning down she brushed a lock of golden hair off the child’s face and kissed her forehead tenderly. The warrior met the child’s green eyes and said, "No one will ever hurt you like that again."

The girl smiled and whispered in the warrior’s ear, "I knew you’d come for me. I dreamt it." Then she closed her eyes and fell asleep.

Xena stood and walked over to where Melosa was speaking with the healer.

"So?" she asked.

"As soon as her fever came down she woke up," Amaya explained. "I put some salve on her back. It should help the pain and minimize scarring. She’s a tough kid. With some rest and good food she should be fine."

"Thank you Amaya," Xena said.

"Don’t thank me. She did all the work," the healer chuckled.

"Amaya… Is she…"

"As far as I can tell she’s still untouched Xena."

"Good, I’d hate to have to break the first good promise I ever kept." The warrior smiled and winked at Melosa.

"Ok Xena, let’s leave Amaya to her work. We can come back later." The Queen turned to leave and Xena followed, looking back at the child once more before walking outside.

The women walked in silence for a few moments. Xena had an idea of where they were going though. "So, will you take her?" the warrior asked.

"Yes, I’ll take her," Melosa conceded. "I’m sure I can find some couple to take her in. Maybe we’ll train her to be a bard. Our tribe has never had a real bard." The Queen winked at the Warrior. As Xena had suspected, the pair was heading straight for the Queen’s yurt. When they reached the steps to the yurt, Melosa dismissed her Royal Guard. One of the guards protested the decision.

"Listen Solari," Melosa said sternly, "I’m going to have the most dangerous warrior in the known world in my yurt. I think I’ll be safe from intruders!" The guard looked at Xena and the warrior waved.

"Very well!" the guard said and stalked off. Melosa was standing a step above Xena, which put her almost on level with the tall warrior. She leaned down and whispered in Xena’s ear, "And I do mean HAVE, warrior." She walked up the remaining few stairs and entered the yurt with Xena right behind her.

Once the door shut behind the women, Xena leaned down and put her arms around the Queen, pulling their foreheads together.

"Are you sure about this, Mel? I can’t make a commitment and I don’t want you hurt again."

"Xena, I’m a big girl now. Three years ago I wanted something from you that you couldn’t give me. Today I just want to enjoy you while you’re here."

Xena pressed her lips to the Queen’s mouth passionately. Her tongue demanded entrance and Melosa parted her own lips to receive the warrior. Melosa sucked gently on the taller woman’s tongue and nipped at it with her teeth. When they finally parted Melosa spoke in a breathless whisper, "Sweet Artemis, I’ve missed you. Take me, Conqueror."

Xena kissed the woman again. Reaching down, she lifted the Queen and pulled the shorter woman’s legs around her waist. Xena held the woman, her hands on Melosa’s ass, while the Queen writhed seductively against her. Walking into the Queen’s bedchamber, Xena crossed the room with the woman still in her arms and laid her gently on the bed. For a moment she stood and let her eyes roam over the Queen’s body. Then she straddled Melosa’s waist and lifted the woman’s arms over her head. "Hold onto the headboard," Xena directed, "You are not to let go until I say."

"Yes, Conqueror," Melosa replied, obeying the command.

Xena reached into her boot and pulled out a small knife. Melosa gave her a sly smile. She knew this warrior well enough to know that Xena would never hand over all of her weapons. Xena held up the knife, then paused.

"This isn’t your only set of ceremonial dress, is it Mel?" She asked.

"C’mon Xena, you know me better than that," was the answer.

Xena smiled down at her lover the way a predator smiles at easy prey. She moved the edge of the knife under the cotton of Melosa’s brief top. Locking her now almost lavender eyes with Melosa’s deep brown, hooded gaze, Xena lifted the blade. It ripped through the thin cotton with a whisper. Xena resheathed the blade then reached down to pull apart the remains of the cotton. Exposing Melosa’s voluptuous breasts, Xena let her breath out in a rush.

"Melosa, you are as magnificent as I remember," she said in a deeply seductive voice. Xena let her hands roam over the soft fleshy mounds before grasping them more forcefully. Melosa closed her eyes to the assault.

The warrior played with the Queen’s breasts for a while, pinching the nipples fiercely and watching the skin pucker and rise. She let her right hand continue to manipulate the soft globes as she leaned down close to the Queen’s ear. She rested her weight on her left arm, just above the Queen’s head. Running her tongue around Melosa’s ear she whispered, "Open your eyes my sweet slut." Melosa took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and then complied.

"I can tell you missed me, Queeny," Xena taunted. Both women watched Xena’s right hand pinch an already hard nipple and Melosa’s skin erupted into gooseflesh. Melosa groaned and panted. "Look at yourself, " Xena told the Amazon. "All I’ve done is jiggle your tits a bit and you can barely breathe." She dipped her head and began to suck and bite Melosa’s neck. Her right hand continued to torture the Queen’s sensitive nipples.

"Gods Xena, I have missed you so much," Melosa said breathlessly, her back arching into the warrior’s touch. The Queen wanted nothing more than to thrust both hands into the warrior’s silky dark hair, but she was told to hold the headboard. The Queen always did as Xena said. The warrior licked, sucked and bit a path from neck to breast. She hovered over Melosa’s left nipple, simply blowing warm air on it. The Queen arched her back again and Xena smiled ferally, her blue eyes sparkling like sapphires in the candlelight of the room. "No, no, no, Queeny. No forcing the issue. I’ll suck your tit when I’m ready and not a second before," she said with a growl. Melosa sighed in frustration. Finally, Xena let the tip of her tongue graze the wanton nipple. She was rewarded with a moan from the Queen. The warrior continued to tease the Queen’s nipple in this manner for several long minutes. Melosa moaned but held herself still. Finally when the Queen thought she couldn’t take another second of torture without arching into Xena’s mouth, the tall woman closed her lips over the left nipple and sucked. Hard. Xena kept a steady pressure on the expanse of breast she had in her mouth and used her teeth and tongue to tease the sensitive tip. Melosa felt as though she could climax just from this. When Xena started using her tongue to repeatedly bang the nipple against the roof of her mouth, she almost did. Suddenly, Xena released the left breast and sucked a path to the right side, leaving large red welts in her wake, before resuming her attack on this breast in much the same fashion.

Several moments later Xena paused her attack and looked up. Melosa was watching her intently. Xena looked deeply into her eyes and saw pure desire emanating from them. "Is this what you wanted, Queeny?" the warrior rasped lustfully. "It is, isn’t it? From the moment you heard I was riding into your village you couldn’t wait for me to put my hands on you, could you?" The Queen shook her head. "You couldn’t wait for me to suck these sweet titties," Xena taunted. "All you could think about was me throwing you down and using you for my pleasure. I saw you, you know. You could barely keep your hips still in front of your tribe from the moment you saw me. My little bitch couldn’t wait to be fucked by the big bad warrior. You were wet at the mere mention of my name, weren’t you?" The Queen looked at Xena with wide eyes. "Weren’t you?" Xena demanded. "Say it whore! Say it or I’ll stop and leave you here humping the air and frustrated," she snarled.

"Yes" the Queen gasped.

"Yes what?"

"Yes I want you, Conqueror. I want you to use my body," Melosa was panting.

"What else?"

"I want you to bruise me with your mouth and your hands."

"And then?"

"And then I want you to fuck me until I scream your name!"

Xena lifted her head to get a better look at the Queen’s face. "That’s what I thought." She smiled slyly.

"You’ve gotten very good at this, Xena," Melosa panted.

"You taught me everything I know, Mel."

With that, Xena dipped her head and began to torture the Queen’s right nipple again. Moving to kneel over the Amazon, Xena let her hands roam over the soft body below her. She mapped out the valleys and plains of her lover with her fingertips as she sucked.

Xena’s mind wandered to the first time she had touched the Amazon this way. She had just turned sixteen. Melosa was the tribe’s weapons mistress. The six-winter difference in their ages seemed monumental to the young warrior. Melosa was the first women with whom Xena had shared a bed. She certainly would not be the last. The Amazon had shown Xena something no man ever did, or could for that matter. Melosa showed Xena the power and pleasure of sexual domination. Xena found it completely intoxicating. Of course not every woman enjoyed playing this way. Xena decided the best way to find women who did enjoy this was to sleep with every willing woman she met.

Melosa’s long groan brought Xena from her daydream. The warrior paused in her ministrations and looked up at the Queen. "What is it baby?"

Melosa moaned again.

"What do you want Amazon?"

"Please," Melosa gasped.


"Please ohhhhh…"

"Don’t you move those hips Queeny," Xena warned. "Don’t you dare!"

The warrior rolled on her left side and propped her head up in her hand. Her right hand caressed the soft skin on Melosa’s stomach.

"You look so hot, Mel," she said seductively. "Those sensitive nipples are bigger than I’ve ever seen them and they’re just begging me to chew on them. I love the way your stomach muscles clench when you’re struggling to keep your hips still. All you want to do is grind that clit into something and bring yourself off. Isn’t that right my sweet little slut?"

"Yes" the Queen panted.

"Yes what?"

"Yes I want to come conqueror."

"What do you say?"


"More," Xena told her cruelly.

"Please…. Please… fuck me Conqueror. Fuck my cunt. PLEASE!"

"Who are you?" the warrior asked.

"I’m your whore, Conqueror." Tears were streaming down Melosa’s cheeks.

"Where is it whore?"

"Ch… chest… by the wall," the Amazon spoke through clenched teeth. She was desperately trying to keep her hips still.

Xena climbed off the bed and went to the wooden chest. Inside she found the harness and several phalluses. Knowing the Queen would need something sizable in her present state, Xena selected a short but thick piece of polished marble. She also grabbed a length of twine with a slipknot at each end. Walking back to the bed, she placed the harness and phallus at the foot of it. Still holding the length of twine she reached across the Queen. Xena looped the two ends over Melosa’s hard nipples. Taking the middle section of twine in her fingers, she tugged hard.

"Ahhhhh Oh Oh uggggh," the Amazon groaned as the knots tightened around her already tortured nubs.

Xena grabbed for her knife again and cut Melosa’s skirt off leaving the Queen naked before the warrior’s lust filled gaze.

"Spread your legs whore," Xena demanded.

The Queen complied. Xena crawled on the bed and knelt between the now spread legs. Grabbing Melosa’s ankles, Xena lifted Melosa’s legs and bent them until her knees were almost touching the bed.

"Give me your hands!"

The Queen didn’t move.

"Oh soooo good Queeny." Xena chuckled seductively. "Ok whore, release the headboard and put your hands over here."

Now Melosa complied. The warrior arranged the Queen so her hands were threaded behind her knees and clasped between them. The twine was looped around the Amazon’s hands and secured under her thumbs. Xena sat back on her heels to admire her creation.

"Oh you are such a good little whore." She reached over and ran a finger between the Queen’s nether lips. "And soooo wet," she commented, then licking her fingers clean. "You taste good Queeny. Such a dirty little whore. I should leave you here and invite the whole tribe to see what their Queen looks like when she’s in rut. Maybe I’ll let them take turns sucking you off and fucking you." Xena knew these were idle threats, as did Melosa, but a glance at the Queens open slit proved they were having the desired effect. The moisture was running down the Amazon’s lips and pooling beneath her ass.

Xena climbed off the bed and began to undress herself. The Queen was watching her with a lustful gaze. First, the warrior removed her shirt. Locking eyes with Melosa, she pinched her nipples and moaned. The Amazon’s mouth went dry and she licked her lips. Xena kept moaning as she squeezed and fondled her breasts. Taking her left breast is both hands, she lifted it, dipped her head and licked her own nipple. Melosa groaned in frustration. Xena repeated this action on her right breast and watched the sheen of sweat develop on her lover’s brow.

"They taste good slut, but not as good as yours," Xena told her.

Finally, the warrior dropped her hands to the buttons of her calfskin pants and began to open them. She kicked off her boots and lowered her pants, kicking them away. Standing naked before the Queen, the warrior felt sexy and powerful. With men, she usually felt angry and vulnerable when she was exposed like this. With women, and especially with Melosa, she felt invincible.

Xena dipped her fingers into her own wetness and groaned at the contact. Looking at the Queen in the obscene position Xena had put her in was turning the warrior on immensely. Holding up her fingers, she locked eyes with the Amazon again.

"See what you do to me whore? Do you see how much I want you?"

Xena moved to the bed and held her fingers at the Queen’s mouth.


Melosa opened her lips and began to suckle on the warrior’s fingers. Both women groaned simultaneously.

"More?" Xena asked, pulling her hand away.

"Please," the Amazon replied.

"Please what?"

"Please let me taste you, Conqueror."

Xena climbed on the bed and straddled Melosa’s face. Lowering her center to the Queen’s mouth she commanded, "Suck bitch!"

Melosa buried her tongue inside the warrior and drank deeply. Xena groaned loudly as the Queen tongue-fucked her.

"Oh yeah baby. Oh, that’s so good!" she cried.

The Amazon kept moving her tongue in and out of the warrior. She knew Xena didn’t like a lot of penetration. She also knew her soft tongue drove the warrior wild. Melosa had been the first person to ever touch Xena this way. The warrior had spent five moons in the Amazon village three years ago. Melosa quickly won the warrior’s attention. She spent each night teaching the young woman what she liked and finding out what her Conqueror most desired. The Queen knew just how to please this warrior. When she sensed Xena was ready, Melosa used her nose to bang against the swollen bundle of nerves at Xena’s apex.

"Oh yeah… so good so good uggghhh ohhhhhh"

Xena reached back and grabbed Melosa’s hands, releasing her legs and the twine. She needed this connection and held the Queen’s hands tightly as she ground her clit into the Queen’s face. She used her muscles to repeatedly squeeze the tongue buried inside her.

"Oh shit…. I’m so close. Oh yeah ahhhhhhh so close…" the warrior moaned and she continued to hump against the woman below her.

"I’m gonna come baby. I’m gonna come for you," she panted. "I’m gonna come all over your pretty face, whore. Oh you fuck me so good baby. Ohhhhhh urrghhhh. All… over… your… face! Uggggggghhhhhhhhh!" The warrior moaned as the climax rolled over her. Each intense wave produced an equally intense shudder from the tall woman.

When the explosion was over, Xena slumped weakly. Her upper body hung over the headboard for a long moment. Finally she pooled her strength and climbed off the smiling Amazon. Standing beside the bed once again, she leaned down and kissed the Queen thoroughly, tasting herself on Melosa’s lips.

"Ummmmm," the Queen moaned into the warrior’s mouth. Finally, Xena broke the kiss and stood.

"You taste incredible, warrior," Melosa told her.

Xena reached over, brushed the Amazon’s disheveled curls from her face and kissed her chastely.

"Thank you baby."

Picking up the harness, the warrior attached the phallus and strapped the device to herself. She cleared her throat.

"I was thinking of making you suck this baby," she told the Queen. "But I really can’t wait to get inside you. Bend your knees again, bitch," Xena demanded roughly.

When Melosa was arranged back into position, Xena rewrapped the twine around her clasped hands and secured it under the Queen’s thumbs. She gave the twine a few tugs and was rewarded with a nice long moan from Melosa.

Xena climbed up and knelt between the Queen’s legs. She rubbed the phallus through the older woman’s wetness. ‘Spread open like a flower,’ Xena thought and smiled. Melosa’s clit was swollen and hard. Xena thought she could probably see it pulsing if she looked close enough.

"You’re so ready, aren’t you slut? You can’t wait for me to ram my tool into your hot cunt, can you?"

The Queen moaned loudly.

"Do you want it bitch?"

"Yes Conqueror."

"Then beg for it."

"Please," Melosa moaned, "Please fuck me Conqueror. Please come inside me. Please…."

Xena held the phallus poised at the Queen’s slick entrance for just a moment, looking deeply into pleading brown eyes. Smirking wickedly, she leaned forward and slid in completely, her wiry hair brushing against the Amazon’s ass. Xena rested her upper body on Melosa’s shins. The effect was maddening. Each time Xena thrust into the Queen, her clasped hands moved and the twine was pulled tighter around the older woman’s tortured nipples. Melosa moaned and thrashed under the warrior. After just a few thrusts, Melosa was on the edge.

"May I come for you, Conqueror?" she panted.

"No bitch, you may not come. I want my fill of this sweet hole. You are soooo tight baby. You feel so good."

Xena kept thrusting at a pace she knew would push Melosa to the brink. A few more thrusts and the Queen moaned and began to cry again.

"Please Conqueror…." She begged. "Please I can’t hold it."

"You can and you will, whore." Xena told her.

Xena looked down at the Amazon’s contorted face as she continued to thrust into her at a furious pace. The leather harness rubbed the Queen’s clit mercilessly. She loved to watch women struggle to maintain control of their bodies. Especially when she was so desperately trying to make them lose control.

"Oh Gods Conqueror, PLEASE!" Melosa screamed.

"Ok baby, come for me." Xena conceded and continued to slam into the thrashing woman.

"XEEEEEEEENNNNNNNNNAAAAAAAA!" Melosa screamed out her climax.

Xena climaxed again.

When the intensity subsided, Xena opened her eyes. Sitting back on her heels she gently slid out of the Queen. She unclasped Melosa’s hand and rubbed them in hers before pulling her legs down and rubbing them too. Finally she reached up and loosened the knots in the twine, removing them from the Queen’s nipples. When Melosa was relaxed and comfortable, Xena stood and removed the harness. Taking the buckets she had placed by the fire earlier, she filled up the large tub in the room. Once it was full, Xena poured in some scented oil, then returned to the bed.

As she bent to lift Melosa into her arms, the Queen’s eyes opened.

"I love you, Xena," Melosa told her.

"I know you do, Mel," the warrior replied.

Xena carried the Queen to the tub and proceeded to bathe her gently. The warrior was careful not to touch the Queen’s nipples as they were slowly returning to normal size. Using a bit of jasmine scented soap, Xena washed the Queen’s hair and massaged her scalp. When the bath was over, the tall woman lifted Melosa from the tub and wrapped her in a warm towel before placing her gently on the bed once again. Then Xena climbed into the tub herself.

As she was cleansing her body with the scented soap, Melosa spoke.

"You could stay here, you know."

"I can’t Mel, my men are waiting for me."

"You could be initiated and take over my army, Xena."

Xena finished bathing and climbed out of the tub, wrapping herself in a warm towel before moving to sit beside the reclining Amazon.

"Mel, I can’t. My destiny is different than this. We’ve been over this before. C’mon, let’s just enjoy what we have right now."

"Did you ever love me, Xena?"

"I did," the warrior said cupping Melosa’s face and running a thumb over her cheek. "And I do. Just not the way you need me to. I’m sorry. But I do love you."

"Thank you, Xena," the Queen said nuzzling into the large hand. Finally, Melosa smiled, "I see you’ve learned some new tricks, young lady. I’m impressed."

"Thanks. Have to do something to keep you guessing, old woman," the warrior chuckled and kissed the Queen gently.

"Stay the night, Xena, please?"

"I can’t Mel."

"Well at least sleep a bit. You look exhausted and you’ll be forced to sleep some time. Better here than somewhere out there alone."

"Ok, Mel, ok" Xena said. She let her towel drop and curled up next to the Amazon, pulling a few warm furs over them both. Melosa wrapped her arms around the warrior and kissed her forehead. "Sleep, my sweet warrior." She used one hand to gently caress Xena’s back; an action she knew would put the warrior out quickly. Before long, Xena’s breathing evened out. Satisfied that Xena was sleeping, Melosa closed her eyes and slept as well.


The sky was turning from black to gray when Xena opened her eyes. The warrior was lying on her side with her arms wrapped around Melosa. The Amazon was spooned against her, one arm draped over Xena’s. She carefully extricated herself from the Queen. Melosa groaned but remained sleeping. Xena dressed quietly in the dark room. She took a few moments to stoke the fires in the yurt. It was bitter cold at this time of the morning. Xena couldn’t help but smile as her nipples reacted to the chill. When she finished pulling on her boots, Xena walked back to the bed. For a moment, she watched the Queen sleeping. Finally, she leaned down and kissed Melosa’s soft lips. "Goodbye Mel," she whispered. "I love you." Xena took one last look at the Queen then crept outside into the cold morning air. She intended to say goodbye to a sleeping Gabrielle, get Argo and then head back to camp.

A few yards from the Queen’s yurt, Xena saw the Royal Guards keeping watch. They looked at her warily as she approached.

"It’s safe to move inside now," she told them. "Just don’t go into her bedchamber. I made a fire, so it should be warm soon." The Amazon called Solari marched towards the hut without even looking at the warrior. The other guard thanked Xena before following her cohort into the yurt.

Xena continued on towards the healer’s hut. Her boots crunched on the frost covered ground. This was her first time in this village during winter. It was… different, and very, very cold. The warrior wrapped her arms around herself and shivered as she climbed the steps to the hut. It was dark inside. The child was asleep and seemed to be alone in the room. Xena crept over to Gabrielle’s cot. As she leaned down to kiss the child goodbye, green eyes popped open and a crooked smile spread across the girl’s face.

"Are you here for your story Xena?" Gabrielle asked.

Xena nodded. "Yes, Yes I am, Gabrielle."

‘Oh well what’s another candlemark?’ thought the warrior.

Gabrielle moved over on her cot and patted the open space next to her. "You should lie down with me Xena. I think everyone is still asleep so I’ll have to speak quietly," she told the tall warrior. Xena kicked her boots off and lay down next to the child. Reaching over to an empty cot, Xena pulled over another fur and covered them both with it. The fire in this room had been stoked recently but it was still quite chilly.

"What kind of stories do you like, Xena?" the child asked.

"I would like any story you care to tell," Xena told her.

"Oh you’re easy," the child teased.

"You don’t know the half of it, kid," the warrior chuckled.

"I think I know one you would like," Gabrielle told her.

For the next candlemark, Gabrielle regaled Xena with a story about a dashing warrior who saves a beautiful princess from an evil warlord. The warrior risks his life to take the princess away from the warlord’s army. After much battle and strife, the warrior brings the princess to a castle where he declares himself king. He marries the princess and they live happily ever after. "The End" the child said.

"Wow Gabrielle, you’re really good at telling stories."

"Thank you Xena. Did you like it?"

"I loved it," Xena smiled, "Especially that part where the warrior takes the castle and makes himself king."

"Yes," Gabrielle sighed wearily, "I knew you’d like that part. You warrior types always do."

"Warrior types huh?" Xena raised her eyebrows and rolled onto her side, looking down at the girl. "And you’ve met many of these warrior types, have you?" The tall woman tickled the child, making her giggle.

"Why yes I have, Xena," Gabrielle told her, smiling brightly. "You’re the first one that doesn’t smell like dirty feet." The child could hardly contain her laughter as Xena began to poke her ticklish spots.

"Oh yeah, so what do I smell like?" the warrior teased.

"Cookies and flowers," the child giggled.

"Gabrielle!" the warrior exclaimed stepping up the tickling. "I do NOT smell like cookies OR flowers!"

"Do so!"

"Do NOT!"

"Do SO!"

"Do NOT!"

By now the two were laughing so hard Xena was glad they were alone in the hut. When she poked a particularly ticklish spot the child laughed so hard she shrieked. Amaya came rushing into the room. "WHAT’S GOING ON IN HERE?" she shouted.

Xena’s face turned red with embarrassment and she jumped up off the bed.

"I’m sorry Amaya. We didn’t mean to wake you," Xena said sheepishly.

"It’s ok," Amaya said. "I thought she was being hurt. Just try to keep it down. I was up late last night delivering a baby. A centaur baby." Xena winced.

"Sorry. We promise to be quiet."

"Yeah, promise," Gabrielle said from behind the warrior.

Amaya turned and left the room.

"See what you did," Xena said still chuckling quietly.

"Me? You’re the one who tickled me!" Gabrielle replied indignantly.

"I know, I know," Xena smiled. "Well, thank you for the story, Gabrielle."

Xena sat next to the child and pulled her boots on.

"You’re leaving, aren’t you?" Gabrielle pouted.

"Yes. I have to go."

"Can I come with you?"

"I wish you could, but I’d have no place to keep you. Armies are no place for children. I’m sorry."

Gabrielle was on the verge of tears. "Will you come back and visit me?" she asked.

"I will try. How’s that?"

"Well that’s better than saying no, I guess." She sniffed.

"Oh don’t cry sweetheart," Xena soothed, taking the child in her arms. "You’re going to like it here. You’ll have other girls your age to play with. And you can tell stories all the time…"

"I know. But I’ll miss you, Xena."

"I’ll miss you too, Gabrielle."

The warrior held the child for a while longer. "I have to go now, Gabrielle."

"Ok," the child said softly, giving Xena one last squeeze. Then she crawled out of the warrior’s arms and lay down again. Xena stood and covered her with the warm furs.

"Goodbye Gabrielle," Xena said, leaning down and kissing the child’s forehead tenderly.

"Goodbye Xena," the child replied, tears rolling down her cheeks.

Xena straightened up and walked towards the door.

"I love you Xena," Gabrielle called after her. Xena stopped at the door and looked at the angelic blonde one more time.

"I love you too, Gabrielle," she said, smiling at the child before walking through the door and down the stairs.

Melosa met the warrior at the stables. She was just finishing up saddling Argo when Xena walked in.

"I couldn’t let you leave without your weapons Conqueror," the Queen said slyly, handing the daggers to the warrior.

"Thank you Mel," Xena said, accepting the blades and arranging them in place.

"Will we see you again warrior?"

"You never know Mel. I’ve been known to pass through these parts from time to time."

"I guess this is goodbye, for now," Melosa said, standing close to the tall woman.

"Yes… yes it is." Xena looked around to make sure they were alone. Satisfied that there were no prying eyes, Xena wrapped her arms around the Queen and kissed her passionately for several long moments. When they finally broke apart, Xena whispered in Melosa’s ear. "Don’t forget about me Queeny."

"I never could, Conqueror," Melosa replied, blushing. She reached up and pecked Xena on the cheek then released the tall warrior.

Xena mounted the large mare and slowly eased her way out of the barn. Picking up the pace she walked the horse out of the village and into the surrounding woods towards her camp. As she nudged Argo into a quick and steady pace, one lone tear traveled down her cheek and fell into the landscape, almost unnoticed.




To Be Continued In Chapter 1

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