Xean the Princess of Warriors

                                       Part Two

                                The Writings of Gabrela

Even as I write these words, I fear my death may come as the result. For surely wrong eyes will see them. I can only hope that when Thanatos the God of Death comes he will be swift and sure. I do not think I would die well. I do not suffer pain easily. Even my moon-time cramps caused me great agony.

As I write words for my Mistress I must for myself also. I write the words she says  yet I know at times they are untrue. But I dare not call her on these falsities  for I am sure they are due to the over zealousness of her recitation of her exploits. 

My Mistress desires that her deeds and actions shall be recalled by children and grandchildren and grandchildren yet unborn for a thousand generations. So she tells me,  Write my Acts and Achievements. Write as I say and all the world shall know the  Deeds and Attainments and Wonder of Xean the Princess of Warriors.

I do love my Mistress  although there was a time when I did not.  As reward for my loyalty she has treated me less as a slave and more as a confidant and lover as our years together  passed.  Yet I cannot in good conscience allow these untruths go unchallenged.  I shall therefore set down my own thoughts and my own truths. And to begin it shall be at the time my Mistress came to our village on the day I was promised in marriage.

My life as a child was neither more nor less as the lives of other children of my village but for one exception. I had one younger sister who was named Illa. And no brothers. All families save mine had brothers and sisters and were counted at three or four and often more.  For such reason my Father labored under great stress to provide the food and other necessities so that we might have a good life.


I cried the times I heard my Father chide my Mother at her failure to give him sons. Although he professed his love for my sister and me  I felt myself to be a burden to my Father. As the oldest I tried to do a man's work but I had neither the size nor strength. After several times I was injured and was told never again to leave the woman's work I was designed to do.

When my father saw that no sons were to be born  Illa and I were taught to read and write in hopes that when we were of wedding age our worth to our future husbands would increase and a more generous allowance for our betrothal would be forthcoming.


It was on the day I was promised to Peridus a man of our village that Xean entered my life. She and her army of bandits. Warriors she called them and they called her My Princess.   And she said,  Give us food and water and clothing and we will not torch the houses and the barns and the fields.

As little as we had for the Harvest was yet two moon cycles from ripe we offered all we could spare. But it was not enough and they took all we had and destroyed much looking for more.

And Xean looked us over for she knew of slavers who would pay well for young strong workers. But she had a second  a woman called Kallos  who told her of the hardship and the drain on food to transport slaves to the coast where the slaver ships waited. And Xean said,  We will take no slaves from this village this day.

But I did not want to wed Peridus  a slow and dull man  and I ran to Xean and told her,  Take me. I can do hard labor and do not eat much.   And Kallos kicked me down and said let us leave this village.

I now had no choice. I could not stay for I had shamed my Father and insulted Peridus and his family. So I sneaked away in the night. And I was in tears and also Illa  who I had awakened at my leaving.

Having no horse I could only travel afoot. Yet the trail was easy to follow. In three days I found the camp of Xean  and entered under guard  for there were many. And again I said to Xean,   Take me. I can do much for you.

And Xean laughed and said,  What can a child do for me?   And I said,  I am of 17 years. And I can cook and mend and chop firewood.    And Xean grew bored and said,  You are of no use. I have others to cook for me.

In desperation I said,   I can scribe numbers and words and can make messages.   And Xean said,   Guard give her food and water and a place to sleep.  Bring her to me at the dawn.

And to me Xean said,  I may have use of you after all.

I was brought to her tent at dawn, but Kallos saw me and said,  Put her to the sword.  But Xean said,  No. I think I have need of a slave who can scribe.  

And so began my life of journeys with Xean. 

I gave her no reason to beat me  as I do not suffer pain  as I have already stated. But I learned quickly to stay away from Kallos. She passed no opportunity to kick or strike me.  Only if I was near Xean or out of her sight was I safe from her wrath. 


One time when I thought she was mellow I asked what I had done to turn her against me. And she grabbed my hair and breathed in my face and said,  You are weak and soft and worthless.  You think you will gather favor of Xean with your writings and your kind words. But do not forget that I am her Second. And when I am First you WILL BE put to death.


I could not understand why Xean allowed Kallos to be her Number Two.  Kallos was cruel and merciless and spiteful. And she said mean and disrespectful things to Xean in front of her Warriors. Yet Xean did not put her out.


I discovered the truth the night Xean sent away Kallos and ten men to look for villages with food and spoils.  The day had been dry and dusty and Xean instructed me to fill her bath with hot water.  As she soaked in the bath she drank several skins of wine.  And she became relaxed and talked to me. And I asked,   Why is Kallos allowed to speak as she does to Xean?

Xean became brooding then said,   There was a time I burned villages that opposed me.  Kallos  lived in one such village. And her mother and father were burned. And Kallos came after me to kill me, but I defeated her. Yet her warrior spirit I could not kill so I made a pact with her. She would be my Second. And on the day I cross over she would be Number One.

And I said,  She has spoke of that day. And I will die at her hand.  And Xean looked angry and said,  She should not talk of my death  nor of yours. I think no more do I trust Kallos. Together we will watch her.  You will be the eyes and ears behind my back.  And I said,  Yes My Mistress  my life is yours.  

And she laughed and pulled me into her bath with her.  And gave me wine.  And she said,  Your body is mine  also.  And so I slept in the furs of Xean from that night.


In three days  Kallos did return with news for Xean. And Kallos directed that I should leave Xean's tent. And Xean spoke that my place as scribe was at her side at all times.  And Kallos showed much anger in her face yet did not speak it.  And her hatred for me grew with each day that passed. And my fear of her grew also.


But now I must relate an account that is certainly untrue and causes me to question the sanity of my Mistress.   I must describe that she has on many occasions to tell me of her conversations with Ares God of War.  

I remember on one time she said to me,  Gabrela, I wish that you meet Ares.   And I saw him not. But fearing to anger my Mistress I looked to the ground and said,   I dare not look on such a powerful god that I may be struck dead. 

And Xean laughed and said,  Ares will not harm anyone who has my favor for he Loves me and would not see me distressed.

And I did not lift my eyes but said,   It is my great honor to meet the God of War.   And Xean was pleased. 


It was in late summer when I left my village to join my Mistress. And in the space of a year Xean and I knew each other as lovers.  But I knew my place would ever be below hers. In the company of her Warriors she called me Slave and Scribe. In her tent I was Gabrela and in her furs she called me her Beloved.  


Kallos, in her hatred for me let it falsely be known among the Warriors that Xean was to allow me to become her Number Two  and all those opposed would be put to the sword.  And Kallos said Xean was becoming weak and womanly because I shared her furs.


Xean had two Warriors to go to my village and bring Peridus.  And she decreed that we two would be wed.  And I protested that I did NOT love Peridus but DID love Xean. 

And Xean said it was to appease her Warriors. That they would see that when I had taken a husband to whom I was answerable so therefore I could not be her Number Two.

So on the evening of the full moon Peridus and I became man and wife. And the wedding night was full of pain for he took me many times and my screams satisfied the Warriors who listened for my cries of surrender.

And on the morning as instructed by Xean I did declare my undying love and satisfaction for Peridus.  And Kallos was enraged at my happiness and did drive her blade through my husband and ended his life.   And even though I did not love Peridus I had known him for all my youth and was sickened and dismayed at his murder.

And Xean  did chase after Kallos. And caught her and did throw her into a pit of quicksand. But Kallos did fight the mud for her life. And Xean struck her in the head with a tree limb and did hold her head under the mud with her foot until Kallos was drowned.


And Xean pronounced to the Warriors that her Number Two was to be Calaius her most trusted Warrior. And that the Slave Gabrela would be honored as that her husband died as a Warrior. 

As is custom of my village, I did mourn for my husband for eight days.


On the night I returned to the tent of Xean I found my Mistress more welcoming and more compassionate and more caring than before or since.  And my Mistress declared that she could not envision her life without me  and I loved her the more for it.


After the moon turned two times I knew I was with child. And Xean knew of it because I had neither my cramps nor use of my woman's padding. And she was not happy.  She drank many skins of wine, and spoke angrily of all the men she had been with and she still had no child. And I was with only one man on one night. And I began to fear for the life if my unborn child.

But as time passed and I began to swell  Xean's actions changed. She began to stroke and kiss my belly and talk to my child, saying how lucky he was to be borne in the tent of Xean. I asked how she knew my child was male and she said,  Only a son can be borne, only a son. And we shall raise him to be a great Warrior feared by all who hear his name.

And again I began to fear. And I made plans to defend my child should it be female. I found nooks to hide daggers and knives though I had never used one against another.


As my time approached again Xean drank wine. And cried the name Olan in her sleep.  And one time when she was intoxicated with the wine I asked of the name Olan. And she cried again shedding many tears. And she told me of Olan her own male child who she surrendered only days after his birth. 

She had murdered his father in a rage and knowing she would be hunted for her crime she could not run nor hide carrying her son. So she bartered him for a horse and saddle that she may leave Thrace and never return.

I did not speak of it again for even in her drunken state she swore death on me if ever I spoke the name to her.


My labors began in late winter as the sun set and continued through the night and all the next day. And I was in great pain and surely wished to die if it would stop the agony.  And when my baby was borne it was NOT a son. And  I looked for the anger in Xean's eyes but she wrapped the baby in her softest furs and cuddled her and made cooing sounds.

Xean did not want me to hold and love my child. And she was resentful because she had no milk and angrily called me Wet Nurse when she gave my child to me for her milk. 

Xean named the child  Heope. She said the name came to her in a dream and was a good omen. And throughout the spring  Heope was mothered and tended to by Xean. And only when she needed to be nursed and washed was I allowed to hold her.


[continued in Part Three]

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