Summary: The Conqueror leaves Greece to visit Cleopatra and meets a slave/gladiator named Gabrielle but all is not what it seems.
Disclaimer: See Part 1
Authors Note: If you want to email me, my address is jacklavigne13@hotmail .com
Chapter Twenty Four
"Hello Xena, I've been waiting for you."
I felt no surprise as I stood there, my right hand gripping my sword and my left resting casually on my chakram. I had known who would be waiting for me, having assumed it from the start and guessing correctly as I always do. There were several different memories that flashed through my mind leaving me with the knowledge of who the betrayer was. I had hoped to give them a chance to change their mind, to figure out what the right side was, the winning side, but they picked the wrong one as I knew deep down they would. I stared at the person before me, letting my pale eyes rake along their lithe body as I thought about how I would rip every limb from it and how I would do it and with what speed.
"I'd say that I'm happy to see you, but I'm really not, Darnelle."
The Captain of the Eighth army grinned slyly at me, shrugging his broad shoulders. "Well, I'm very happy to see you, Xena. You've fallen right into our trap."
Slowly. I would rip every traitorous limb from his body, oh, so slowly.
"I can't believe this," Palaemon hissed from beside me, his gray eyes flashing with anger and a little bit of hurt. Palaemon and Darnelle had been with me from the beginning and after all these years, had formed a close bond. He must feel like as much of a fool as I did when I figured it out. "You! After everything our Lord has done for you, for Greece, you bring Rome down on us!"
Darnelle pretended to think about think for a moment before shrugging again indifferently with an insolent little smirk that I couldn't wait to wipe off his face, preferably with my sword. "Yeah, pretty much. Though, I wasn't alone, which I'm sure you know, Xena."
My eyes fluttered closed briefly for a moment before opening, revealing a warrior as she strode out proudly from one of the abandoned shops that lined the square. I heard several gasps from my group of warriors, and a strangled groan from Palaemon as Alexandria walked towards our enemy confidently. She was wearing her full battle armor; tight leather pants that clung to her thighs and a black leather vest, covered with silver armor not much different than my own. She caught my eye as she moved past me, her midnight blue eyes twinkling as she winked and I heard Gabrielle growl.
"Alex," I said softly, staring at the red headed woman as she stopped in the middle of the courtyard, a few steps in front of Darnelle, who was grinning like a lunatic. With Alexandria on their side, we all knew that this battle would be harder than we originally thought. While I could still just beat the warrior woman in battle, they still had four hundred more men. I could feel the warriors behind me become wary, wondering if their decision to follow me had been wise.
"Xena," Alexandria acknowledged me with a smirk, crossing her muscular arms over her chest. We traded stares for several moments before my shoulders slumped in defeat.
"Why are you doing this?" I asked, my voice strained. It seemed as if we were the only ones here as everyone went completely silence, focusing all their attention on us.
"I'm doing this for love," Alexandria replied readily as she drew both her swords from their sheaths. She flipped the blade in her right hand, gazing at the proudly polished metal and the razor sharp edge. "For my love of Greece, my home, my heart."
"You made the people of this country that she loves so much, hate her!" Darnelle yelled from his place behind Alexandria. "She hates you, Xena. She fights for us now."
"I remember the day that you swore fealty to me," I started softly, my attention focused completely on Alexandria, ignoring Darnelle. "It was the first day after we took Athens and even though I knew you were loyal to me then, you still wanted everyone to know where your heart truly lied."
"I remember," Alexandria whispered, her voice floating to me on the soft breeze.
"After the ceremony was over, I asked you about the words you used. I can still remember them now, even after all these years."
" From this day forward, my sword, my hands, my life, my heart belong to Greece, until my last breath leaves me. Your will, my hands, My Lord Conqueror." Alexandria willingly offered the words with a small smile.
"What has this got to do with anything?" Darnelle growled, finally starting to lose his temper. I could see the men standing behind him starting to shift nervously; clenching their fingers around the weapons they held in their hands. Palaemon straightened from besides me, his eyes becoming brighter as he turned his head and stared at me. I just smirked.
"Darnelle, I am Greece," I said, with a smile pulling at the edge of my lips as I stared at the now thoroughly confused man. "And she fights for me and only me."
"Until the last breath leaves me," Alexandria smiled, her eyes sparkling as she returned my gaze.
I watched as if in slow motion as Alexandria grinned manically, turning around quickly and swinging both her swords. The tips of the blades sliced right through Darnelle's throat, so deep that his head was hanging by a mere thread, sending a spray of hot blood over my second in command. The courtyard went completely silent, save Darnelle's final gurgling breaths until Alexandria raised her sword and yelled.
"For the Conqueror!"
A large cry went up as more soldiers rushed out of the abandoned shops, men loyal to the red headed warrior that was now swamped in our enemy, using her dual swords to cut them down effortlessly. Despite the direness of the situation, I couldn't help but smile as I let out my own battle cry, running into the mêlée and decapitating the first man that raised his blade against me. I twisted my body, unhooking my chakram and imbedding it in another man's temple, hearing another soldier grunt from behind me, taken down by Gabrielle. I could hear Alexandria directing her men towards the wide open gates, commanding them to close it against the Romans as I lost myself into the fight, relishing the coppery smell of blood as it coated my sword.
An older man charged me, one that I recognized as being a good friend of Darnelle's. He was a skilled fighter as his broad sword slammed against mine, his strength almost knocking the sword from my hand. A blade entered his chest from behind as I pushed him back and I caught a flash of red hair before my vision was blocked by another solider going for my throat.
The fight didn't last as long as I wished it to, with most of Darnelle's men dropping their weapons in surrender as soon as their leader was dead. Only his most loyal continued to fight us, right down to the last man that had his life ended on the end of my sword as it was pushed through his neck.
I gazed around me, kicking the man of my blade without a glance, watching as my men bound the prisoners and started leading them black to the palace. I motioned for half of my men to stay behind with Palaemon to guard the gates, feeling Gabrielle's presence at my side as I turned to make my way back to the castle. For once, things went right, I thought to myself with a small grin.
Which was an only moment before Alexandria stepped in front of me, her lips pressed into a grim line and her face splattered with blood and gore. We spent a minute staring at each other before Alexandria's midnight blue eyes flickered to the blonde standing behind me. I watched quietly as my second's face tensed in pain before it hardened and she returned her gaze to me with a wry smile.
"Xena, we have to talk."
I could only nod as I reached out my hand, grasping Alexandria's forearm in a warrior's handshake before I pulled her to my side. In silence, we made our way back to the palace, thought I felt less victorious than I had only moments ago. For now, I knew, there was going to be a lot of explaining to do.
I know this was only a short chapter, but I promise that the next one will be MUCH longer and explain everything that I'm sure you're all dying to know now. Leave me comments and I'll try to update as soon as possible. Thanks for reading, guys.
To Be Continued
Return to the Academy