Disclaimer: Xena and all related characters do not belong to me! (No kidding). They are the property of Universal and/or Renaissance and no copyright infringement is intended.
This is my first attempt at fan fiction and I would really appreciate any constructive criticism you may have. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think. Thanks for giving me a go!
“Come on, Gabrielle. I know you’ve been wanting to do this for a long time”, Xena taunted.
“You know I have, Xena.”
“Well then.” A playful smile splashed across Xena’s face.
“Xena, please don’t rush me”, Gabrielle pleaded as she looked to the heavens with her eyes shut and her fists clenched.
“Okay okay. Consider me mute.”
Gabrielle threw Xena a disapproving look, knowing full well Xena’s impatience was growing. Xena just smiled, and remained silent with her arms crossed on her chest. She found Gabrielle’s hesitation amusing. Gabrielle took a deep breath, exhaled heavily and announced “Okay, here we go”. Gabrielle was standing in a bolt upright position with her hands by her sides. Suddenly she bent her knees in a half squat ready for the lunge. She pushed herself off the ground with all the force she could muster and arched her back while flipping her legs over her head. Her arms stretched out in front of her, she tried to find the ground with her hands as her back flip came to its conclusion, but she had miscalculated the force of her initial lunge and came crashing down on her belly, knocking the wind right out of her. Her chin hit the ground forcing a front tooth into her bottom lip. Xena quickly raced over to her friend to help her up.
“Hey, are you alright?” Gabrielle spat some turf out of her mouth then took the hand offered her and forced herself to her feet.
“I’m fine. I guess back flips just aren’t my thing”.
“Well, at least you didn’t hurt yourself as bad as when you tried the forward flip. Here, you’ve cut your lip”. Xena went to the saddle bags and pulled out some cloth. She returned to Gabrielle, placed one hand gently to the back of her head and with the other hand patted the blood away from her chin and bottom lip. She assessed the damage.
“It’s not bad. Stopped bleeding already”. Xena was about to let go, but then still looking at Gabrielle’s mouth thoughtfully, she leaned in closer. Gabrielle felt a tightening in her stomach, and she stopped breathing, not sure of what was coming next.
“What’s this?” Xena smiled as she picked a piece of grass out of the corner of Gabrielle’s mouth.
“You know, Gabrielle, your cooking isn’t THAT bad. You don’t need to resort to eating the greenery”. Gabrielle let out a breath and punched Xena in the arm.
“Well”, Gabrielle returned, “It’s actually YOUR night to cook so I thought I’d fill up on something more tasty BEFORE you dished up”. Gabrielle smiled at herself for that one. Xena spun around to look at her with a deathly serious expression on her face, pointed a finger and simply said “That’s not nice”.
“What is it child?”
“She’s drifting again”. A young woman lay on a bed in a prison. She seemed to be dreaming…
“Xena…I beat you before, I can beat you again…” and then gibberish.
“What’s she talking about?”
“Only the Gods know”
“Isn’t Xena the name of the woman who brought her here?”
“Yes. Yes, I believe it is. The tall one.”
“Aaaarghhhh…Xena…I’m coming for you…” then stillness. Calm. The episode seemed to be over. The woman was once again silent. She appeared to be sleeping soundly. But the woman was not sleeping. The woman was not sleeping at all.
“Xena, what IS this?” It was dark now, and the two women sat comfortably around their camp fire, sharing an evening meal as they’d done for many, many moons now.
“It’s a recipe I got off Joxer”. Gabrielle looked up from her bowl of food to Xena. With one eyebrow raised she asked:
“Joxer? You got a recipe – for FOOD – off Joxer? Xena, I’ve already died three times. It’s getting old.”
“And of those three times, has Joxer’s cooking been to blame once? No.”
“No, but he did ALMOST kill both of us with his radish stew if I remember correctly. For Gods sake, you used his recipe to disable an army and now you’re feeding it to me?”
“Will you just try it?” Xena encouraged.
“I DID try it! Zeus, why didn’t we just pick up a chicken on our way through the market today?”
“Because you gave our last dinar to that beggar on the street”. Xena’s tone was one of frustration, but in her heart she loved the bard more and more every day because of actions just like that one.
“Well, I’d have thought twice about it if I’d known it meant I was going to be eating a ‘Joxer’ recipe for supper”. Xena looked at the bard from across the flames and smiled. Gabrielle caught the warrior’s cheeky grin and her face relaxed from mock seriousness to a beaming smile of her own. Then in a tone of defeat, she sighed and said “Well, I guess if the Warrior Princess can swallow and hold it down then so can…”
“Oh my…Gods on Olympus!!!” Xena exclaimed in horror.
“What?! What is it Xena?”
“This food tastes like shit!”
The Sisters had been looking after the young woman for at least two full moons. They had not expected her to live this long. She had been drifting in and out of consciousness all the while but never stayed awake for more than a few minutes at a time. When she did awaken, the Sisters would feed her soup and bread, and try to get her to speak. But no sooner would she eat and drink than she’d be back under again. The two had brought her in with a stab wound to her abdomen, as well as other minor cuts and bruises. Death, it seemed, was near and ready to place her final touch on this young warrior. But this woman was a fighter. No doubt about that. And it seemed, with all her rambling in between the long periods of stillness, this one had unfinished business. She was not letting go until it was done.
Gabrielle put out the bedrolls while Xena gave Argo a final brush and said goodnight to the trusty steed. Then, returning to the fire and her soul mate, Xena removed her warrior garb and lay down beside Gabrielle. They were both lying on their backs, watching the stars. Gabrielle broke the short silence.
“Thanks for supper.”
Xena turned to face Gabrielle only to find the bard-come-warrior looking at her expectantly. Xena sighed and said “Okay. You were right Gabrielle. There. I said it. Happy now?” Gabrielle’s smile was response enough.
“I don’t hear those words often enough”, she said, still smiling.
“You know, you should be nicer to Joxer, Gabrielle,” Xena remarked. “After all, the guy is crazy about you.”
Gabrielle thought for a moment, then replied, “Yeah, well, it’s not like I tried to encourage him. Besides, Ares is crazy about you but I’m not sure you should necessarily be nicer to him.” Gabrielle smiled, and then added “I think you’re nice enough to him as it is.”
Xena quickly responded, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Come on, Xena. Admit it. He does something to you.” Gabrielle paused, and suddenly the mood became somewhat more serious. When Xena didn’t respond, Gabrielle continued, “I must admit, I have trouble understanding why.” Her voice was quiet. She was hesitant to continue, not sure she should have gone down this road. Gabrielle was contemplating what to say next when Xena finally spoke. Her voice, too, was quiet.
“It’s the dark part of me, I guess.” Xena kept her eyes on the stars above. Her heart was aching a little. She knew why but she dared not say. Xena tried to think of the right words to express to Gabrielle what she so desperately wanted her bard to believe.
“You know, Ares was a part of my life for a long time. But those were dark days that I never want to go back to. Maybe there’s some small part of me that still feels a connection, but Gabrielle…”, now Xena turned to face the bard, who, feeling Xena’s gaze upon her, turned her head also to face perfect blue eyes, “…I’m right where I want to be. Now and always.” Gabrielle studied Xena’s eyes so intently the warrior felt like there was no where to hide. Suddenly she felt extremely nervous – quite a novel experience for the warrior princess. But then Gabrielle’s eyes softened and she smiled a little smile. Gabrielle propped herself up on one elbow, leaned over Xena and kissed her gently on the forehead.
“Me too”, was all she said, followed by “Goodnight Xena”. Then Gabrielle turned on her side to face away from the warrior in an effort to get some rest. Xena looked back up at the stars. It was a beautifully warm and clear night, and her gaze fell upon the constellation she thought looked like a dipper. She remembered one night when Gabrielle had commented that same group of stars looked to her like a bear, and the memory made Xena smile. That was so long ago. The smile came and went quickly. Somehow the conversation they had just had left a rotten aftertaste in Xena’s mouth. Xena couldn’t argue, honestly, that Ares was totally out of her system and that appalled her. Ares represented the darkest part of Xena’s soul, and as they’d recently discovered, there was no way of ridding Xena of that without destroying who she was. But that wasn’t what Xena was concerned with at that moment. She was more concerned that Gabrielle believed Ares was privy to a part of Xena that Gabrielle was not. That just wasn’t true. Gabrielle could have any part of Xena she wanted, if only she wanted it. Xena belonged to Gabrielle. Xena knew it. Gabrielle apparently did not.
“Sister! Grab me that mug of water. She’s coming to.” The young warrior was talking again, but nothing coherent came out of her mouth and her eyes were still closed. Her head began to move from side to side and she appeared to be getting extremely agitated.
“What’s happening, Sister?”
“I’m not sure.” The two could only watch as the movements of limbs became more animated. Her voice became louder and louder until one word boomed out of the patient like a roar of thunder, as she sat bolt upright on the bed and her eyes sprang wide open…
The next day was a quiet outing. There was no pressing mission to attend to, and though normally this would seem like a small blessing, Xena wished some thugs would attack or some emergency would present itself, just to break the uneasy silence that had befallen the two. Gabrielle was rarely this quiet. Xena often jibed Gabrielle when she was in the process of examining life or philosophizing on the why’s and where fore’s of existence. But the fact was, Xena loved to listen to Gabrielle. Once again Xena found herself remembering how it was in the early days. Gabrielle was so innocent back then. And so much quicker to smile. Xena guessed that Gabrielle had much less to smile about these days. Her peace loving Gabrielle had been turned into a butt kicking warrior. No matter how much Xena tried not to see it, the vision seemed spectacularly clear.
“Xena!” Gabrielle’s voice broke through the cacophony of Xena’s thoughts.
“What? What is it?”
“I said there’s something on your head”.
“Well come here. Bend down so I can see.” Xena, recognizing this as an opportunity to stir Gabrielle about her height, in a moment of exaggerated understanding said:
“Oh! You want to see the top of my head!” and with that she got down on both knees.
“Oh, that’s funny, Warrior Princess. And you know what’s even funnier?”
“What’s that?” Xena grinned.
“A bird has crapped on your head.” Xena’s grin quickly disappeared.
“I said there’s bird poo all through your hair!” Xena instinctively reached her hand up to feel her hair and sure enough…
“Lousy Nature”, Xena scorned.
“How could you not know a bird…it’s lucky for you they don’t crap arrows”, Gabrielle was smiling now.
“Hardy har har. Hey, if they crapped arrows I might have caught it”. Both women chuckled.
“Come on. I need a wash anyway”, Gabrielle said, grinning. Xena pulled on Argo’s reins to prompt her back through the trees but the horse pulled her head back in quiet disapproval. Apparently she wanted to stay by the roadside and graze, so the two left the horse to freely roam as she pleased. They made their way back through the trees to the river they had camped near, undressed and dove straight into the warm water. Xena’s chakram and sword and Gabrielle’s Sais lay on the shore, out of their reach.
“Where am I?” Najara took in the surroundings and realized she was back in prison. She was chained, by her feet, to a bed in an open room and two women were staring at her with astonishment plastered across their faces. The older of the two Sisters was sitting on the end of the bed, and she spoke first.
“Gods, child. You’ve finally come back to us”.
“Who are you?” the blonde warrior asked.
“It’s okay my dear. You’re in prison. We’ve been looking after you”.
“But…how did I get here?”
The younger Sister replied this time. “Two women brought you here. A warrior and her companion. You were badly hurt. Truly the Gods must be with you that you’ve come back to us”. Najara’s eyes shifted from the young Sister’s face to her own stomach. A small scar was visible and the memory came flooding back. Xena had stabbed her with the very blade Najara herself had been wielding.
But why had Xena and Gabrielle brought her here? Why had they not left her to die? Najara thought, and then it dawned on her. It wasn’t Xena’s idea to save Najara. It was Gabrielle’s. Gabrielle didn’t want Najara to die. Najara thought back to the words of the Jinn – she and Gabrielle would be united in a common bond not even Xena shared with the bard. After the blade had penetrated her during the fight with Xena – and in her final moments of consciousness – Najara had wondered how the Jinn could have gotten it so wrong. But now here she was. Alive. Saved by Gabrielle. There was still a chance. And Najara intended to make it happen this time. The Jinn had seen it. The only thing standing in her way was the warrior princess. Najara thought back and remembered with some frustration the opportunity that went begging when she had Xena defeated and Gabrielle pleading for the warrior’s life. Well, not this time. Najara thought to herself “I’ve beaten you once, Xena. I almost beat you the second time. Well, guess what?” Najara smiled to herself, but there was no humor in it, “Third time lucky.”
Xena was enjoying her swim in the unusually warm water. And it seemed to be lifting Gabrielle’s mood, which Xena was most grateful for.
“Hey Xena”, Gabrielle swam up to her friend. “Don’t forget why we’re in here in the first place”. With that Xena ducked her head under the water and ran her fingers through her hair, washing it thoroughly. When she came up for air, Gabrielle was standing in front of her.
“Let me see”.
Gods, Xena thought, Mother Hen. Xena bowed her head down so that Gabrielle could examine it to make sure her hair was clean. The water came up to just below Gabrielle’s shoulders and as Gabrielle ran her fingers through Xena’s hair Xena became suddenly aware of Gabrielle’s naked body only inches away. Xena felt Gabrielle’s thigh against her knee and suddenly a rush of desire coursed through her body like a bolt of lightning. Xena had become somewhat of an expert at quelling such feelings since hooking up with Gabrielle, which surprised her because once upon a time if Xena wanted something, she just took it.
“Its fine, Gabrielle”. Xena pulled her head up, smiled and dove under the water, away from her friend, all the while wishing the water was not so warm. A cold bath seemed somehow more appropriate.
Najara considered the manacles on her feet that kept her chained to the bed. She figured as soon as the Sisters thought she was well enough they’d take the manacles off and lock her in her own cell. Najara had made no attempt to escape up till now and the exchanges she’d had with the Sisters had been nothing but pleasant, and she hoped this was enough to have bought her some trust. Indeed, the Sisters had not even mentioned her misdeeds (though she couldn’t fathom just exactly what it was that she had done wrong) and seemed nothing if not pleased that she was well.
Najara felt like her strength was returning at a phenomenal rate. Since regaining consciousness her appetite had been ravenous, and the Sisters had obliged with many hearty meals to satisfy her excessive hunger. Thanks to the Sisters attentions, Najara was back to full health and confident she was ready to leave here and finish what she had begun – she would bring Gabrielle to the light.
The younger Sister came in with a mug of water for the mending warrior.
“How are you feeling today?”
“Oh, I’m feeling okay.” Najara played down her returning strength. “You people have really looked after me well. You saved my life. I can’t tell you how grateful I am.”
“We’re just so pleased that you are back with us.” The Sister smiled, then she looked away and her cheeks began to burn, like she might have been embarrassed about something. Just then a large man walked into the room. He was wearing full leathers, and a sword sheathed in a scabbard ran down his left leg. He was carrying a set of manacles which Najara guessed would be used to bind her hands. As he walked over to the bed Najara could hear a jangling sound like he was carrying a set of keys.
“Sister Thaya feels it’s time to move you to a cell”. The young woman looked down at her feet. Najara’s adrenalin started to pump. This was it - her chance to finally get out of here.
“Oh, of course”, Najara agreed pleasantly. “Hey”, Najara tried to get the young Sister to look at her. The Sister slowly lifted her head and looked awkwardly at Najara. She obviously felt bad that Najara was about to be locked away in a dank cell. “It’s okay”, Najara said simply. The young Sister nodded and smiled a weak smile, then stepped back to make room for the big man to unlock the chains that held Najara to the bed. Xena obviously didn’t adequately warn them about me… Najara thought to herself …if they think one man is going to be enough to keep me from breaking out of here. She must have really thought I was going to die. The big man spoke as he applied the new set of manacles to Najara’s hands, which she had already placed out and in front of her to oblige him.
“Don’t try anything funny. I could snap your neck like it was a twig”. The man spoke matter-of-factly, oozing confidence. Najara’s expression didn’t change, and she didn’t respond. After the big man had bound Najara’s hands he moved to her feet. He held Najara’s right foot down and stuck the key into the lock. Just at that moment Najara let out a scream of pain and her bound hands went to her old wound on her stomach. The Sister, alarmed, rushed to the bedside and the big man let go of his hold on Najara’s foot. As soon as she felt the man’s hand had released her, Najara kicked out with all her force. There was enough length in the chain to allow Najara’s foot to connect with his face. She caught him under the chin and he went flying backwards and landed with a crunch onto his back. Najara quickly sat up and checked the lock on her right foot. The key was still in it. She quickly gave it a turn and the manacle fell away. Najara quickly removed the key and tried to unlock the left manacle with it, but the big man was rising to his feet. The young Sister was still standing near the bed, a look of shock on her face. As the man approached he unsheathed his sword. Najara didn’t have enough time to finish unlocking the second manacle, so she grabbed the young Sister by the waist as best she could and pushed her with all her strength towards the burly man. The Sister fell against the sword he was wielding and it plunged into her back. The force of the push caused the big man to fall again, this time with the Sister on top of him and his sword stuck in her back. This bought her the precious few seconds she needed to unlock the second manacle and the manacles on her wrists. In moments she was off the bed. The big man had pushed the girl off him and by now was standing up. He bent over and grasped the hilt of his sword so as to remove it from the dying girl, but Najara had other plans. She had already grabbed a chain with the manacle hanging on the end of it and swung it with all her might. The heavy metal contacted with the big man’s temple and he once again fell on his backside. Najara took the hilt of the sword and ripped it out of the Sister’s back. The Sister moaned as she felt the blade being withdrawn from her mortal wound. Najara walked over to the man, who now had his hands up imploringly.
“Please”, he begged.
“You shouldn’t fear death…” Najara reassured. She spoke without pity, with no remorse. “…for if you’ve lived a good honest life, you will be sent to the light. There you will find peace”. With that, Najara lifted the sword above her head, and brought the blade down with full force into the big man’s chest. He died almost instantly. Najara pulled the sword out of the man’s chest, and walked to the bed where she used a sheet to wipe the bloody blade clean. Then she approached the near-dead girl, who looked up at her with saddened and fearful eyes. She tried to speak, but could not get the words out. Najara bent down and took the Sister’s left cheek in her hand. “I’m sorry, Sister”, Najara said, “But know this. You will not die in vain. I’ll make sure of that”. Then she stood, took a long gulp of water from the mug the Sister had brought in, picked up the big man’s keys, removed his scabbard and made her way out of the prison.
She had no idea how she would go about finding Gabrielle and Xena, but Najara soon realized that taverns were a rich source of very useful information. For example, Najara found out that Xena and Gabrielle had indeed been crucified in Rome, as Xena had foreseen in a grisly vision. They had been brought back to life by the guru of peace and love, Eli. Najara was relieved but not surprised by this news. It meant that both she and Gabrielle had survived miraculous odds that they may one day come together as the Jinn had prophesied.
Traveling further north, Najara also found out that Gabrielle had taken up fighting again. This explained a lot to Najara. Both she and Gabrielle had sought the way of love, and both had realized it was not their path – Najara in her fight to “save” Gabrielle, and Gabrielle in her fight to save Xena. Both she and Gabrielle were capable of immense loyalty and love. It all made perfect sense to Najara. The Jinn had not returned since Najara had regained consciousness, but the blonde warrior did not need her spiritual guides to tell her what she already knew – Najara and Gabrielle were meant to be together. There was no room for Xena in Gabrielle’s life. Xena had even admitted it – she was bad for Gabrielle. Xena caused Gabrielle terrible pain and suffering. Still it didn’t stop the selfish raven haired warrior from hanging on to the beautiful bard. Gabrielle deserved so much better. The fact that Gabrielle had stuck by Xena through so much hardship and torment was a testament to her strength and loyalty. But it was time now for Najara to save her. Save her from that evil, murderous warlord turned – Najara could barely even think the word without a grimace – “good”.
Najara was eating an evening meal at a quiet old tavern when she heard a familiar voice speaking in a drunken slur. She looked up to the bar, and realized all her prayers had been answered. The owner of the voice began to sing.
“Joxer the mighty
Roams through the countryside
He never needs a place to hide.
With Gabby as his sidekick…” and then the bumbling idiot began to cry uncontrollably.
“I shouldna tole Gabby I loved her. Now she things I’m an idiot!” Najara rolled her eyes.
Give the girl some credit, she thought, she knew you were an idiot long before now. Najara was pretty sure Joxer was drunk enough so as not to recognize her. And even if he did, she’d just have to get the information she wanted by beating the stuffing out of the fool. She left her table and took a seat at the bar, only two stools away from the buffoon.
“Hey, barkeep! Another ale, please”.
“Hey buddy”, the barkeep replied, “I think you’ve had enough. Besides, you haven’t paid me for the last two drinks you had”. Najara noticed an opening and took it.
“I’ll buy him a round, barkeep”. Joxer looked up from his newly filled mug at the welcome stranger and the first thing he noticed about her was how her hair reminded him of his precious Gabrielle…
It had taken Najara two days to get to where she was going after leaving Joxer. She supposed it was probably a good thing she didn’t have to bust his head to get him to talk. The truth is, he was quite happy that someone was showing an interest in his unrequited love. It took a bit of talking and a lot of listening to Joxer’s sob story to find out where he had seen them last, at which point he’d apparently just “lost” them. No doubt Gabrielle wanted to do a “runner”. And so, two days later she finally arrived. She wasn’t sure she should trust the bozo, but she figured Joxer would probably know as well as anyone where to find Gabrielle and Xena. She found herself finally at a tavern in Ephyra, and the good news was that the two had been spotted only yesterday at the market by a beggar who remembered seeing them heading east out of town. Najara could feel it. The hunt was almost over.
Gabrielle watched her friend swim off and smiled. But the smile was fleeting. She knew something was bothering the warrior, but Xena was sometimes – even still – so private about her feelings it was hard to decipher the long silences, empty stares and cold brush-offs she dished out from time to time. Gabrielle was kicking herself for bringing Ares into the conversation the previous night. It had turned the conversation from playful banter to solemn introspection which had carried on into this day. And now Xena was…angry? Sad? Guilt ridden? Gabrielle couldn’t place it. But she had been thinking about her own feelings on the conversation and was disgusted at what she had realized. She was jealous. Gabrielle was jealous of Ares and the hold he had over Xena. She knew more than anything that Xena’s loyalties did NOT lie with him, but Gabrielle couldn’t shake this…inexplicable feeling – Ares owned a part of Xena. It was only a small part, and Gabrielle was sure she wouldn’t lose the warrior to him in any significant way. But the jealousy persisted and it seemed to Gabrielle it was totally illogical. Gabrielle was ashamed of herself. Xena was not anyone’s possession – Gabrielle’s included. Well, Gabrielle thought to herself as the warrior did a few breast strokes oblivious to her companion’s thoughts, I’ll fix it. I’ll make it right.
Gabrielle noticed Xena heading for shore and decided also it was time to hop out. As she swam in the direction of the warrior Gabrielle watched in admiration as Xena’s taut body made its way out of the water. She was a vision of beauty. Years of fighting – and successful back flips, Gabrielle was sure – had turned Xena’s body into the perfect female form. Gabrielle stopped swimming and began to tread water as she admired her friend, when suddenly Xena turned to Gabrielle, a look of alarm on her face. Before Gabrielle had time to question, Xena was motioning for her to come out of the water as she slipped back into her battle dress. Gabrielle got back to the river’s edge, and without a word realized just exactly what the problem was. All their weapons were gone, including Xena’s chakram.
Najara held the disc shaped weapon in her hand and smiled. “That was too easy”, she thought to herself. Xena was obviously losing her touch. Najara had finally caught up with Gabrielle and Xena. The road heading east out of town had led her into a forest and Najara saw no reason to leave the trail. So, on horse back (she’d stolen a horse from outside the tavern in Ephyra – people shouldn’t drink and ride anyway) she continued on until she came upon a most welcome sight ahead – Xena’s horse grazing at the roadside. Najara didn’t want to get too close to the horse. Xena was obviously somewhere close by. So she dismounted and tied her horse to the nearby branch of a tree and quietly made her way into the forest. After a bit of searching she came upon two sets of tracks – “One warrior, one bard.” Najara’s movements were almost silent as she moved through the trees, and then suddenly she could hear the sound of voices. They were close. Moving on, she realized she could also hear the sound of water. The river was nearby. Najara suddenly stopped and froze behind a solid oak. Her eyes could hardly believe what they were seeing. There she was, finally. Gabrielle. The most wonderful creature Najara had ever come across…and the other one of course. Both of them appeared to be bathing in the river. The situation was perfect. The trees provided cover almost to the river’s edge, and Najara could see both women’s clothes and weapons lying near the shore. Najara couldn’t believe her luck. There it was – the famed chakram, just sitting there begging for Najara to take it. At first she wasn’t sure she’d be able to grab the chakram without alerting Xena, but then Xena and Gabrielle became involved in some kind of exchange. Najara couldn’t hear what they were saying, but all that mattered was now she had a window of opportunity. Within seconds Najara had come out from the trees, stealthily grabbed Xena’s chakram and sword and what she guessed were Gabrielle’s sais and ducked back into the trees. When she was safely hidden once again, she stood perfectly still and listened and watched to make sure Xena had not been alerted to her presence. Najara contemplated just throwing the chakram in the warrior princess’s general direction and ridding herself of the demon of the dark once and for all while she was in the water. But it was too risky. Not only was Xena too close in proximity to Gabrielle, Najara didn’t even know if she’d be able to make the chakram do what Xena herself was able to. So, when it was clear both Xena and Gabrielle were unaware of her, Najara turned and ran. She knew it wouldn’t be long before Xena would realize her weapons were gone. Xena would follow Najara’s tracks and Najara would finally get the confrontation she was so looking forward to. But she needed a little time first, so she ran as fast as her legs would carry her through the trees and back to the road, where Najara’s stolen horse was waiting. Najara quickly untied the reins from around the branch she’d used to restrain the horse and mounted the steed. She dug her heels in. The horse broke out into a gallop. Najara’s enemy right now was not a tall dark woman warrior. It was time.
Najara continued east along the road to the edge of the forest. The trees opened out into a field of green and in the distance blue silhouettes of mountain peaks were visible. Scattered around was the odd tall Olive tree. Najara pulled the horse to a sudden stop and dismounted in one leap. She took the chakram in her hands and studied it for a moment. It didn’t look the same as she remembered. It appeared to be the same size, but its markings were different and it had a piece through the centre she thought most definitely was not there before. “No matter”, she thought to herself. “Just as long as you behave the same way”. Najara held the chakram with her right hand, swung her left arm back, brought her right arm around across her body, and let the chakram fly at one of the nearby Olive trees. The chakram flew out of her hand at an amazing speed. It missed the Olive tree, but traveled some distance beyond that and deflected off a giant rock and into the side of a fallen and long dead Oak. There it stayed, embedded in the wood. Najara ran over to the dead tree and pulled the chakram out of its resting place. Never to be defeated, the blonde warrior gave it another go. Once again aiming for the Olive tree, she let fly with a hint more force this time than last. The chakram, to her amazement and great pleasure, was on target. But what shocked Najara even more was when the weapon split in two just before it hit the tree, one half veering left of the trunk, one half veering right. The two pieces then came together after passing the tree, and the disc began its return to the thrower’s hand. As Najara watched in amazement, she realized the chakram was moving at an alarming speed. She suddenly became unsure she would be able to catch it without losing a hand – or her head.
As Gabrielle began to dress, Xena examined the ground for any sign of the intruder’s tracks.
“Here.” She pointed at the ground, her finger following the thief’s previous movements as she edged slowly closer to the trees. Gabrielle pulled a second boot on and followed close behind the warrior.
“Who do you think it could be?” she asked the highly perceptive tracker.
“It’s one person. Alone.” Xena moved into the trees and found the spot where Najara had been hiding. Xena looked back to the river.
“Whoever it was, they were watching us from here.” Xena whistled for Argo and within moments the dependable horse was there. Xena mounted the horse and held her hand out to Gabrielle.
“Come on.” Xena lifted Gabrielle onto Argo’s back and the two rode off through the trees and out to the road. Once there, Xena studied the ground again and noticed hoof prints.
“They’re on horseback”, Xena stated matter-of-factly. Without another word, but solely based on an understanding borne of the many years they’d spent together, Gabrielle dismounted so that Xena could make greater speed in her pursuit of the thief. Through a glance to her warrior, which only lasted a moment, Gabrielle conveyed her thoughts: Be careful. I’ll be right behind you. Xena drove Argo into action, the horse and rider disappearing quickly out of Gabrielle’s sight. Gabrielle sprinted off after them, weaponless.
Najara watched as Xena’s chakram made its way back to her, and in that brief moment considered the consequences if she failed at this test. Her body was in jeopardy if she could not catch this weapon. But worse than that, Gabrielle would be lost forever to Xena’s darkness if Najara could not succeed in her mission – to bring Gabrielle to the light. That thought dispelled any desire on Najara’s part to drop to the dirt and let the chakram go by. She stood her ground. The sound of the chakram was all she could hear. Her eyes saw nothing but the disc’s uniqueness moving towards her. Her hands stayed by her sides as the weapon made its way back to its point of origin. Najara’s instincts had taken over now. If she’d thought about it, she would not have had a clue as to how she was going to do this. Without movement Najara waited for her instincts to guide her actions. And just as the chakram appeared to her as though it was going to do Xena’s job for her and take the blonde warrior’s head off, her hand – out of some reflex action – came up and snatched the weapon out of the air and stopped it in its tracks. She had caught it by its centre piece. Najara looked at the weapon in amazement. And then a smile spread across her pretty face.
“I’ve got you now, Warrior Princess.”
To be continued in Part 2.
Return to the Academy