The Deal Part II
by Paully Adams
Gabrielle, Xena and any other characters featured in the actual TV series are copyrighted to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures; just borrowing for this story. The rest of the story and other characters are mine. Please contact me before using any of my stuff. Thanks.
SPOILERS: Got this idea from reading some script pages on MaryDs Xena Aussie fan site. The script pages dealt with the baby arc in season 5. We all know what happened, but this is my version of the "Twilight." Also spoiler for Succession.
SERIES DISCLAIMER: This is part 2 of a series. You must read The Deal, Part 1 if you want to understand what is going on.
This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.
"Zeus and Hera are dead." Athena looked away from golden throne that her beloved father once sat upon. Hatred filled her voice as she continued. "And we know who we have to thank for that." Athena stared at the empty silver throne of Ares, anger blazing from her eyes.
"Athena, we know how you feel. We know the graveness of the situation we face. But you cannot blame Ares for this." Artemis paused as she carefully considered her next words. "I for one, don't have any love for Ares. But Zeus is the one who went after Xena and the child. Everyone, including Hera, thought he was going about it in the wrong way."
"How dare you!" Her gray eyes flashed. "He was our Father! He was trying to protect us."
"And himself." Hept interrupted. "Athena, let's face facts, Zeus chose his own fate. So did Mother. Now we have to choose our own."
"Fine, Hept, what do you suggest? That we sit here and what for our deaths?"
"And like fighting has done us a world of good Athena. Not even Zeus could stop the birth of the child. What chance do we have, especially since some of us are more inclined to protect the child than to do harm to it."
"What are you saying Hept?"
Hept narrowed his eyes at his half-sister. Even though he was crippled, he was still the physically strongest of the gods, and as maker of the weapons for the gods, he was a force that could not be taken lightly. "I'm saying I will not kill an innocent child or the people whose only mistake is to love the child so much that they are willing to die for it."
"Fine, you sit here and wait for your death. As for the rest of us, we have a grave matter to discuss. The twilight is upon us, thanks in part to Ares and his new Chosen One!" Athena spat out the words. "And of course he's no where to be found! He probably watching over her...."
"She is MY Chosen One Athena, and don't you forget that!"
"Then maybe you should keep better tabs on her!"
Apollo rose from his throne. "Don't you dare judge us Athena. You are making the same mistake as Father made. He tried to force destiny to change for his own selfishness. And now you are too. The child has already been born. The prophecy stated that if the child is born that the twilight will be among us. That has already taken place. Our destiny is set, dear sister. At this point, it does not matter if the baby lives or dies, the twilight will happen."
Athena rose from her throne. "The rest of you may be willing to seat around and wait for your deaths, but I will fight until I can't fight no more."
"Chilapa, where are the maps of the surrounding country?"
Chilapa grabbed a scroll and opened it on the table. "I'm sure glad you are back Gabrielle."
"Me too. Xena and I decided that it was time for us to settle down. And since we are here, it is time for me to take my responsibilities as Queen more seriously." She looked down at the map. "Is this map current?"
Chilapa nodded. "As you can see, the centaurs are west of us, the mountains to the north, and open country to the east and south."
"Is our alliance with the centaurs still strong?"
"Very strong. Melosa and you did a great job on that treaty."
Gabrielle smiled her thanks. It was the first treaty she worked on as an Amazon Princess. "What is to the north of the mountains?"
"The mining village of Loka. We have a treaty with them, albeit not a strong one and it is time for us to renew it. To the east of Loka are the lands of the warlord Yarak and to the west are the lands to the warlord Tobisa."
"What is our relationship with them?"
"Neutral. Those two hate each other with a passion. Rumor is that Yarak deals in the slave trade. As a child, Tobisa's town was attacked by slavers, and his sister was sold into slavery, so naturally Tobisa hates all slavers. Both of them have eyes on gaining Loka. The only thing that stops them is that we have a treaty with Loka that places them under our protection. Neither warlord is strong enough to take us on."
"That's good. And Poteidaea is east of the country; about three days ride. To the south is Theiso, about four days ride."
"That's correct. When you said that you were going to take your duties more seriously, you meant it."
Gabrielle did not look up from the map. " A good queen knows about potential friends... and enemies." Seeing all that she needed, she finally looked up. "Tell Eponin to choose the two squads that will accompany me when I leave in three days to re-establish the treaty with Loka."
Artemis found her brother sitting by a lake. Over the years, this place had become a favorite of his; a place where he could go and think. "Apollo, what are you thinking about?"
"The usual." He grabbed the scroll that was by his side. "You do know that it is the end of us, right?"
"Maybe Athena is right."
Apollo looked at his twin. "Don't tell me you would actually consider fighting against her?" Anger rose in voice. "So help me Artemis, if you lay one hand on a single hair of hers..."
"Whoa, Brother. I would never harm her. You know me better than that. But she has placed herself in harm's way."
"I know. But what else did we expect? All these years, I couldn't be there for her. And dear old dad forbade you from answering her."
"But he couldn't stop us from watching over her."
He looked at the scroll again. "I'm willing to do whatever it takes to protect her ... from both from Ares and Athena." His green eyes fell upon his twin. "Are you with me?"
"I couldn't stop you even if I tried. So yes, I will be there for you."
"Are you sure you don't want me to come with you?" Eponin smirked as she watched the Queen and the Queen's champion discuss the upcoming trip. Xena, even though she had given birth a few weeks ago was still trying to squirm her way into this trip.
"Xena, you and Eve need to stay here. Besides, I just going to renew the treaty with Loka. The Royal Guard plus a squadron of warriors are coming with me. And a squad is already there. I'm going to be fine, okay. Besides, I can defend myself."
"I know you can, but I would feel better..."
"Xena you are needed here, okay. Trust me. I'll be back in a few weeks. Love you."
"Love you too." Xena watched as Gabrielle took off with the others. Xena turned to her smirking friend. "Eponin, you make sure she is safe, or by the gods, you will answer to me."
Eponin quickly turned serious. "You got it."
"You got to be joking. We are NOT agreeing to those terms." Kijar, the representative of Loka was furious, his face was turning red with anger. She must think we are fools!
The young Queen smirked at the old representative. "I don't see how you have any choice. Think of it this way. You need us. The Amazons protect you from the surrounding warlords and help train your people for battle." She held his gaze before speaking her next words. "We don't need you."
Kijar's nerves were on end. He turned to his advisors and the looks on their faces told him that they knew what he knew; the Amazons didn't need them. "The gold we send you as tribute is surely worth something to you."
"Not really. We amazons are self-sufficient. Gold is nice, but we can do without it."
"You must be reasonable."
"I don't have to do anything. Listen, let me help you." She turned to one of the amazon guards. "Send the scouts in." She turned by to Kijar and the advisors. "I sent out scouts, both Amazon and Lokan, to survey the area. I figured that both Tobisa and Yarak would have spies here in town, letting the warlords know the progression of the talks. Since I've been here two days longer than I had plan, they probably think that we can't come to a new deal, and are ready to take advantage of the situation. If I'm wrong, then we will keep the deal the same. But if I'm right, then you will have no choice but to agree with the new terms."
They waited as the scouts delivered their reports. Tobisa and his squadron was three days away, Yarak was less than two days away with two squads.
Gabrielle smirked at Kijar as she watched the color slowly drained from his face. "So what is it going to be Kijar? I could have the Amazons out of this town by sunset and let your people defend themselves if that is what you want."
The advisors and Kijar whispered among themselves. "No, we have a deal. The tribute will increase, and the Amazons can set up a training facility outside of town to train our daughters in the Amazon ways and skills. We can still govern ourselves, right?"
"Of course, as long as it do not harm the Amazon Nation of course." Gabrielle watched as Kijar signed the papers. "Good." She turned to one of the guards. "Have both squadrons prepare for battle just on the outskirts of town. Now, if you gentlemen will excuse me." She rose and walked out of the meeting hall, with Eponin following close on her heels.
"So my Queen, how did you know that Tobisa and Yarak would come?"
Gabrielle pulled out her sais and started to twirl them in her hands. "I knew that they both had spies here. So I made sure that they were properly informed about the talks. I also let the word leak out that I was thinking about forming an alliance with Tobisa. So of course, Yarak is on his way here to convince me that I should form an alliance with him instead and Tobisa is on his way to press the issue. I know it sounds sneaky, but I want to be sure these people are protected for now. In a few years, I hope that they can protect themselves. From what I have heard, both Tobisa and Yarak are ruthless and hate each other, even though Tobisa is suppose to be a man of honor as well. Of course I understand Tobisa hatred of Yarak. I hate slavers myself and it will be only a matter of time before Yarak tries to kidnap girls from Loka and Amazonia. Lets just say I'm trying to kill two birds with one stone."
Eponin threw a surprised glance at the Queen. What happened to that innocent farming girl who biggest dream was to be a bard? Eponin was both impressed and thrown off guard by the Queen's actions. "Gabrielle, I didn't know you had it in you."
Gabrielle smiled to herself. "You would be amazed at what I'm capable of Eponin. Utterly amazed. I will do anything to protect my friends and family. Anything at all."
Yarak and his two guards bowed before the Queen of the Amazons. "Your Highness, I know that my visit is unexpected, but when I heard that the Queen of the Amazons was going to be near, I just had to see you for myself." He gazed at the petite Queen. The elusive Queen was nothing he expected. Most Amazons were tall and physically imposing. But their Queen was small with light eyes and hair, and far from physically imposing; with a smile that could disarm the coldest of hearts. Of course, she did not look like the peasant girl that was known to travel with Xena, either. No, the lovely creature before him was an enigma. Yes she is nothing that I expected. But she should be easy to tame. He hoped that he could form an alliance with her. But if that wasn't possible, he would defeat her and claim her as his own slave.
Gabrielle saw the flash of overconfidence in his eyes. It was a look she was use to, for she seen it many times during her travels with Xena. And the look indicated that her plan would be easier to accomplish. "Yarak, let us cut to the chase, shall we? I know of your squadron less than 6 candlemarks away." The only sign of surprise was the tightening of his jaw. Her disarming smile became a sneer. "I have a squadron just two candlemarks behind yours and they are closing in fast. I also have a squad of archers waiting for you men. So I guess I have your squad surrounded." The young woman smiled as Yarak realized he had been outmaneuvered. "I suggest Yarak that you and your men ride fast and hard back to your squad, because in less than 3 candlemarks they will be wearing arrows as accessories."
Yarak stared at the young queen. His pride couldn't deal with the fact he was outclassed by an Amazon. "So you really believe you have won, is that it? Well, I don't believe you. I heard about you, Gabrielle of Poteidaea. The fast talking bard who doesn't believe in killing. You know what I think? I think you are putting your bardic skills to the test."
"I guess we shall see, won't we?" She smiled as she saw him tightened up. "Tell me Yarak, if you lose a whole squadron so far away from home, won't the balance of power shift to Tobisa's favor? I would hate it if you were captured by him, especially since you are under my domain."
"He isn't here."
"Not yet. But soon."
Anger and embarrassment pushed Yarak to the edge. "Too bad you won't be alive to see him." He quickly threw a dagger towards her. before anyone could react, Gabrielle caught the dagger with her sais. "Dumb move Yarak. You should have headed home when you had the chance."
Yarak and his men drew out their swords. Gabrielle flicked the dagger back and it entered into one of Yarak's guards and he fell dead. Eponin engaged the other guard, leaving Yarak for her Queen. They circled each other, trying to find an opening. "You know what Queen? I'm going to enjoy running my sword through you. I had hope that you would be my partner, or at least my slave. I guess I'm going to have to make due with your sisters and friends."
He had hope that the comment would distract her, giving him the opening he needed. He lunged at her. It was then he realized his mistake, as she caught the blade with her sais and broke it off of the hilt.
She raised a sai to his throat. "By the way, that aversion to killing, I got over that." She drove the sai into his neck, killing him instantly.
Eponin, with her jaw dropped to the ground, watched as Gabrielle kicked the body off her sai. The bard had indeed change, but the Weapon Master wasn't sure it was for the better. "My Queen, are you all right?"
"Yeah, fine. Eponin, please send someone to the squads. I want then to send 2 of Yaraks men to claim the bodies."
"What if none of the men survive?"
"Then we will let the Lokan officials deal with the bodies properly. Now if you will excuse me, I need to get ready for Tobisa's visit tomorrow."
"You think Tobisa will give a repeat performance?"
"Tobisa can be ruthless, but he is supposed to be a man of honor as well. I guess we shall see."
Tobisa was stunned when he heard what had happened the previous day. "I don't see how he could have misjudged you. I can tell you are a woman of great strength and honor. It shines forth from your eyes. I know I can trust you. I hope you feel the same."
"Then it is settled. Our peoples will trade with one another. I look forward to the day when our kingdoms could be united in other matters as well." He raised her hand to his lips. "Good-bye Gabrielle." He and his guards left town.
"Looks like you have stolen another heart," Eponin stated as she walked to Gabrielle's side. "Tell me something. How did you know you could trust Tobisa?"
"His squadrons remained two days away. If he was going to attack, his squads would have been much closer."
"I guess hanging around with Xena has taught you a thing or two, huh?"
"Yeah." Gabrielle grabbed Eponin by the hand. "Let's go eat, I'm starved."
"And I guess some things never change."
After the meal, Gabrielle excused herself. She climbed upon her horse and rode to the woods. "I've got to find you a name; can't keep calling you Horse. How about Storm?" It was then she felt the hairs rising on the back of her neck. She had felt his presence since the first day she arrived in Loka. She jumped down from her steed. "Come on out Ares."
The God of War appeared in front of her, a wide grin plastered to his face. "Well, let me say I am thoroughly impressed." He raised his hand and caressed her cheek. "Of course I wouldn't expect anything less from my Chosen One."
She backed away from his touch. "I did what I had to do."
"Stop underestimating yourself. It may have been cute when you were younger, but now, it is plain annoying and not very fitting, especially since you have so many skills. You can kill one minute and form a treaty the next. I knew you could fill Xena's shoes."
"Let's get something straight. The only reason I'm your Chosen One is because you promised to protect Xena, Eve and whatever place we live. Don't even think for one moment that I enjoy this."
"Gabrielle, who do you think you are fooling? You like power, you love being around it. You like the feel of it, so stop denying who you are, for soon you will be the most feared and respected person around. And if that don't get your juices flowing, think of your people. Because of what you did, the territory and reputation of the Amazons have grown. Of course, that means Artemis reputation had grown also. Which brings me to my next point."
"Let me guess. You want your name to grow too, right?"
"Hey, can't let Artemis get all the credit, can I? It is only fair, after all you are my Chosen One."
"And Artemis as well."
"That is just a technicality. Who came to your aid? Not your precious Artemis. You are mine; you know it and I know it. Therefore," he placed his hands over her wrist gauntlets, "you shall wear my mark." She could feel the heat as it penetrated the gauntlets. When he removed his hands, she looked down and saw a blood red design on each one. "Now, when people see you, they will know that you are mine."
"Hey, I know you don't want her to know. But friends shouldn't keep secrets from each other. Not to bring up any bad memories, but remember what happened the last time you two kept secrets from each other." Gabrielle narrowed her eyes in anger. "That is what I like to see. That fire, that anger. Yarak never stood a chance. Enough small talk, I'll catch you later." He disappeared in a flash of light.
Gabrielle climbed back on her steed and rode back to Loka. She had no idea that a pair of gray eyes watched her every move. Enjoy this small victory. It sweetness is about to turn very bitter. So Amazonia is under both Artemis and Ares protection? Too bad. That means someone is being left unguarded.
Gabrielle and Eponin headed back to Amazonia. They were a day's ride out when a scout rode out to them. "My Queen, I have grave news to report."
"What, did something happen to Xena or Eve?"
"No, they are fine. My Queen, Poteidaea has been attacked."
Will be continued in Part III of The Deal but only if you feed the bard. Let me know if you want me to continue. I promise that part III will come out soon!
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