Disclaimer: The Characters of Xena and Gabrielle are the property of Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction.
Note: This story describes Gabrielle's life after FIN. Especially it asks how Gabrielle copes with the result of Xena's decision.
We arrived in Alexandria today, diary, after a rough but short trip along the coast. Xena insisted that we cross the isthmus and take ship to Alexandria. She thought there would be less chance my being noticed that way. She is usually right about such things. I am writing this in my room on the fourth floor of a rather run-down inn on the edge of the waterfront area. Xena has no trouble passing through crowds - lucky thing - then of course they can't see her - I can, though only in daytime. Right now she is stretched out on the window ledge. I have to stop myself from telling her to be careful or she will fall.
I was trying not to be noticed when we disembarked but I guess that would have been hoping for to much - a woman travelling alone always brings stares. Still no real problem so far. The city has changed somewhat since our last visit. At that time Queen Cleopatra ruled and the Roman empire was at war with itself. Now Egypt is a Roman province ruled by a Governor named Cicero Plaudus who had been one of Julius Caesar's officers who later supported Octavian and is now enjoying his reward. Alexandria has almost recovered from the fighting although the great library is still trying to replace some of the scrolls lost when it was fired. I hope one day to see over it properly. I missed out on our last visit because of the death of Cleopatra.
The one bad thing that I noticed as I left the docks, diary were two long lines of chained slaves being marched down to the docks. All were male and I got the impression that most if not all were soldiers - Egyptian soldiers.
Xena tells me she will go exploring after I go to sleep. She will endeavour to find out what the feeling of the people is now and how Cicero treats them. I still find it hard to talk to Xena mind-to-mind. I know I have to - to many times already people have noticed I appear to "talk to myself". No doubt they think I am going crazy. I will have to try harder, I guess.
There was one other incident as I came out of the dock area. I saw two seamen arguing outside a tavern. I don't know what they were arguing about but one of the men suddenly produced a knife and went for the other. He stabbed him in the shoulder - his target managing to shift sideways just in time to prevent the knife striking his heart. As the wounded man fell back a girl screamed and rushed forward. She tried to go to the injured man but the one with the knife grabbed her and started to drag her away. He was dragging her in my direction, diary, so I stepped in his path and told him to release the girl.
"Out of my way, woman, This is not your concern," he snarled.
"I'm making it my concern," I replied, "Do you want to go with him?" I asked the girl.
"No. He is a monster. I love Peter. I want to help him," she shouted.
"Release her," I said to him.
"Silence, woman. Go home and stay there," he snapped.
I did not move. "Release her," I repeated.
"Let me go Darrel," the girl shouted, "I must help Peter. You've hurt him, you monster."
"Silence Marline. You were promised to me. You belong to me, and you are coming with me whether you like it or not." He looked at me. "You. Out of my way. Now. Or I'll do the same to you."
He swung his knife at me threateningly. I stepped back, dropped my bags and drew the sai from my right boot.
"It is easy to hurt unarmed people isn't it, Darrel. How ċbout when one can fight back? What then?" I feinted at him. He immediately released the girl and went into what he thought was a fighting crouch.
"Alright woman. You asked for it,"
He leapt at me but I stepped aside and whilst he was still moving moved behind him and planted a kick where it would do the most good. He sprawled in the roadway, dropping his knife. I kicked it away and slid the sai back into its strap on my boot. And waited. After a moment he hauled himself up onto his feet and faced me. His eyes blazed with anger.
"Woman, you are dead." he snarled. He obviously assumed his extra height and strength gave him an advantage. And it may well have, but he didn't know how to use it. He leapt at me but again I stepped aside and chopped at his neck. I could have killed him but that would have caused me more problems. Anyway diary, he fell on his face again. And again he got up. But now he was more careful. We spared for a few minutes but he was only a brawler and I was receiving constant advice from the best there is. Finally I caught his arm, twisted and tossed him over onto his back. After a moment he sat up and glared at me but said nothing. He hauled himself to his feet and staggered away. The girl, Marline, and I went to Peter. I examined his wound. It was deep but not fatal. Marline produced cloths from her bag and bound it up competently enough.
"I can't thank you enough," she began, "If you hadn't been there.."
"That's all right," I replied, "Will you be alright - both of you?"
"Yes, thanks to you," replied Peter, as he tested his hand.
"Then Iċll be getting along then," I said as I collected my bags.
"If there is anything we can do for you ..-"
"Well - can you tell me of a reasonable inn near here - one that is clean and not to noisy," I said.
"Yes, we can," answered Peter, "We will show you." And they did.
The keeper of this inn is a woman, dairy, who is as tall as Xena but much heavier in build. She has long blond hair that she wears in two braids. While eating my evening meal tonight in the main room I saw her handle a couple of drunk roughnecks who tried to upset an otherwise peaceful room. Her name is Freda and I think she might be from Gaul. Anyway she had no trouble subduing these two men and throwing them out. Her kitchen produces an excellent meat roll too. The inn has two prostitutes working from it (at least) and one is Greek. When there are no call for their services they wait on tables and this one - her name is Lila - told me she was from Athens. She had been travelling with her new husband when he had been killed in a street fight, leaving her stranded here. Freda had taken her in and been good to her at first. She works as a prostitute to repay Freda for the help she gave her. Xena says she realises Freda was being smart. She got a young fresh girl who had no protector and now she (Freda) had a new prostitute working cheap for her. Lila was too ashamed to go home now anyway.
Xena just called me to the window. I stood beside her as she pointed out some of the changes she could see in the city's skyline. She put her arm around me as she spoke. It is so strange when she hugs me. I can feel it and yet I know she is really not there. I miss her terribly even although I can speak to her regularly, it is not the same.
Anyway, Diary, it is bed for me. Tomorrow we will go see what things are like in the city proper under Rome.
On our first full day in Alexandria was very eventful. Following local custom we left the inn early at Xena's insistence and went into one of the market areas. During the night Xena did some exploring and at breakfast told me the city was reasonably quiet politically but only because the people feared Cicero. He has a thriving trade in slaves going as a sideline. Anyone even suspected of plotting against Rome is condemned to be sold into slavery. That is how he is controlling Egypt. By fear.
We reached the market place as the stall holders were setting up their stalls. There was little chatter between the people. Any talking was in whispers. As we went through the square I didn't hear anyone cry out their wears in the traditional manner. As we were leaving the marketplace I heard a commotion behind me and turned to see a boy - little more than a child in the hands of a Roman soldier. A man was being held back by two other soldiers. He was clearly trying to protect the boy. I spoke to a nearby stallholder, a woman.
She looked at me grimly. "He backed into the Centurion. He didn't see him coming. Now he will be accused of attacking the Centurion and sold into slavery." The woman's voice was bitter.
I felt Xena's hand on my arm. "Don't interfere," her ghostly voice sounded in my mind, "The only way to stop this is attack the source."
"How", I managed to stop myself in time and concentrated my thoughts instead, "How do you mean ċAt the sourceċ?"
"Very good. Your coming through loud and clear."
"How do you mean ċAt the source'?"
"I mean at the top. We must convince Cicero to stop this trade. Now."
Xena led the way out of the market place and along one street after another until we came out in front of what had once been Cleopatra's palace. It was now the residence of the Roman Governor. Roman soldiers stood on guard where Egyptian soldiers stood when we were last here. Xena paused. Her thoughts came clearly to me. "The best way to get Cicero to stop this trade is to give him a dose of it."
"You are suggesting we somehow spirit him away from here despite all his guards, and make him a slave?"
"Not an easy task."
"Perhaps it would be easier if we were to find out when he leaves here and see if we can waylay him somewhere." I wondered how I could so calmly accept such a preposterous idea.
"Good idea. I'll see what I can find out. Don't go away."
Xena marched straight up the steps of the palace and disappeared from sight. I spent the next hour wandering around and examining the statutes on display in the square in front of the palace until Xena appeared again.
"An interesting point, Gabrielle."
"What is that, Xena?"
"Apparently this slave trade is run by Cicero's son Julius. Cicero signed the decree making slavery the punishment for anyone objecting to Rome's rule but is letting his son actually enforce it. It seems Julius is overdoing it."
"So it is the son we should be going after? Or must we convince Cicero that his son must be stoped?"
"Both, probably, I'm afraid, Gabrielle."
"Hmm... did you find us a way to seize the son?"
"Yes. We are in luck there, Gabrielle."
"In what way?"
"Julius has an interest in Egyptian history. He likes to browse the library which means he is alone in there amongst the books and scrolls. He will be going there this afternoon. Come we have preparations to make" She led the way out of the square.
That afternoon I was standing quietly amongst the shelves of scrolls and books pretending to be engrossed in a scroll on the Trojan war when Julius arrived. I heard him dismiss his guard, ordering them to return for him an hour before sundown. Then he was alone, heading for the shelves of scrolls on Egyptian history. I put my scroll back in its place and followed him.
The next part went off remarkably smoothly, diary. I waited until his attention was totally on his book then crept up behind him and grabbed him around the neck with one arm and pressed the cloth soaked with the opiate I had purchased. He struggled of course and alone I couldn't have done it, but Xena merged with me and with her strength I was able to hold him until finally the drug did it's work. Then I bound and gagged him securely. I certainly needed Xena's strength to drag him out the side door and lift him into the wagon I had rented. After covering him with old sacking, we set off.
Xena appeared as I drove the wagon into the store shed I had rented earlier.
"Good work, so far my bard."
"Now I have to turn this Governor's son into a slave."
"Right. Lets see. You can shave him. He'll look different without his beard. For that matter if you shave his head too he will look more Egyptian . Strip him and cover him with dust. That should do it."
"Easy for you. I am the one doing all the actual work," I grumbled.
" ċFraid so," she grinned.
"You don't have to look so pleased about it."
I rummaged in my bag and found the old razor.
I looked at the result of my handiwork. The governor's son was now naked and filthy with dust. His hands were still bound behind him and he was tethered to a post by the neck. His face and scalp was now hairless. There was now no sign of the noble Roman. He moaned and stirred as the drug wore of. I picked up a switch and stood in the shadows steeling myself to do the next part. When his eyes were open I gave him a moment to become aware of his surroundings then approached him. He was testing his bonds. He swung his eyes onto me and spoke like a man used to being obeyed.
"Girl. Release me at once."
"Silence slave," I replied trying to sound as harsh as I could.
"Slave. I am nobody's slave," he roared, "Release me from these bonds at once, girl."
"Slaves do not give orders," I pointed out calmly.
"I am no slave," he was shouting now, "I am Julius Paudus, son of the Governor of Egypt. I order you to release me at once."
"You will get me a good price when you stand on the block, slave." I replied, struggling to remain calm and offhand. I released his tether from the post and tugged it.
"On your feet slave," I said briskly. He did not move.
"Never, girl. Release me at once."
"You will have to use the whip, Gabrielle," said Xena.
"Yes, damm him and your ideas," I replied.
I gritted my teeth, lifted the switch and swung. It caught him across the shoulder and he gasped and flinched. I pulled on the tether which was fastened around his neck. If I pulled hard enough it would choke him. I hated this. It made me feel sick to my stomach. But it had to be done. Silent now he got to his feet followed me out of the building and along one street after another until we arrived at the slave market.
It was a horrible, noisy place, diary. There were on this day four separate auction stands operating. Each auctioneer trying to out shout his three rivals. One auctioneer Xena had told me was selling male slaves for the galleys or the arena, another was selling male and female slaves for house work and work in shops, and one was selling only female slaves. The fourth stand, diary was dealing only in children of both genders. It was a pitiful sight. I took Julius over to the second stand. He immediately began to demand his release of one of the private guards each auctioneer had to protect his property and control the crowds. He was of course ignored - or rather told in no uncertain terms to either still his tongue or he will loose it. It was soon done. Julius was sold to a tanner. The auctioneer's man handed me the money - less the commission of course and I left the slave market quickly. Xena was following Julius and his new owner to see where he would be. I returned to the inn and waited for her to return.
She showed up about sundown.
"How is he taking it, Xena?"
"Not well. He is clearly not used to hard physical labour. His owner has had to use the whip already."
"We can't leave him there for long, Xena."
"True enough. The search will begin soon. It will be in full sway by morning. You should get some sleep, Gabrielle. Have you written the letter?"
"Yes. All I have to do is add the location." I began to remove my boots. "How long should we leave him there, Xena?"
"A few days, maybe."
"We can't let the owner get into trouble over this, Xena."
" Ha. I examined his work. It is terrible. His product is good to look at but poor in quality. He rushes the processes and cuts corners. After a few weeks his leather is cracked and looking as if it is real old. H e charges full price for his bad workmanship too, Gabrielle. He is defrauding his customers. He deserves his losses. Now go to bed my love and don't worry. All will be well, you'll see."
She wrapped her arms around me, diary, and although I knew she was a ghost, a spirit, and I shouldn't be able to feel her, I could. If only I could restore her. But she had been determined not to, and I was the looser. I felt her trying to kiss my tears away but they just came faster.
"I'm sorry Gabrielle. I never meant you to be hurt over this. Please don't cry." She held me close and stroked my back to sooth me, but it was a while before I could pull myself together. And even longer before I could sleep.
The search for the governor's son actually didn't get into full swing until about mid-afternoon of the next day, diary. Although his guard had returned for him and later reported his failure to show up, little was done until Cicero (who had been out of the city on an inspection tour) returned around noon the next day. Apparently Julius didn't always keep people informed as to his intentions. Xena says also that no-one liked him much, those seeking his companionship only tolerated him because of his supposed influence over his father. Anyway, diary, Xena tells me that they quickly established he was last seen entering the library and hadn't been seen since. On the third day, diary, Xena informed me that Julius was getting plenty of beatings from his owner. She also reported that Governor Cicero was preparing to order a house to house search.
"We can't allow all those people to be inconvenienced, Xena," I pointed out when she said this.
"You're right. It's time to arrange for him to be found."
"We send the letter to Cicero, now?"
" Yes. I will go with it to see that it goes direct into Cicero's hand."
"You can do that? Make others do what you want? How?" I was astounded.
"By merging with them like I have done with you when you needed my strength. But it is not as easy with others. With you it is easy because you know me and let me in. With other people they naturally resist me and that limits what I can do. But I will be able to make Cicero read your message. After that we will see."
Well diary, it worked. Cicero acted on my message and Julius was freed. In my message I had stated why it had been done and pointed out the injustice of enslaving people who had don no wrong. I described the fate of the child I had witnessed. I've had to stay in my room for the last few days, diary, as the soldiers are seeking me now. But Xena has reported that Cicero has relieved his son of his authority and ordered - quietly mind you - that only true dissidents are to be arrested and ordered that they be allowed a hearing before a magistrate to ensure that they are a threat before being sentenced. So it may be a little better in the future. But now, diary I must somehow get out of Alexandria. Ah, well, diary, life with Xena is rarely boring.
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