DISCLAIMER: The characters Xena and Gabrielle are copyright to MCA/Universal etc. No infringement intended. There is some mildly graphic sex and ‘references’ to sex and violent acts.

Feedback responded to with courtesy J Rabsterbgsb@aol.com


by Rab Donald

‘This library is a goldmine!’ chirped Gabrielle ‘amazing for such a small town to have such riches’

Whilst it was to be expected that the bard would feel at home in such a place, Xena did not look too displeased either.

On more than one occasion the blonde had glanced up to see her companion

studying a parchment with obvious interest.

‘For once Xena we are in a library and you don’t look bored’ It was phrased as a statement, intoned as a question.

‘Some parchments by the historian Yarina. She is often considered too salacious for the masses.’ Xena realised that her words could be misinterpreted.

‘My interest is because I *knew* Yarina’ she quickly added.

‘So tell me all you know of Yarina, her work fascinates me, though I have had only a limited exposure’ Gabrielle noted. ‘Salacious is not a description that I would have chosen’

Blue eyes sparkled and the grin became more wicked.

‘I think that some of her writings are probably hidden from general consumption, you know how village elders, even kings and nobles don’t want the masses to read *everything*’

This only piqued the bard’s curiosity. She said nothing but was clearly expecting further revelations. Xena could only oblige.

‘Yarina is a truly fascinating woman. She claims Albanian birth, but has the blonde, pale-skinned features of those from the Nordic region. Many believe she has the gift of prophecy, but then superstition abounds in the dark Albanian forests. Some say she may even be a Goddess, she does seem to have an uncanny ability to simply appear as if from nowhere’

For once it seemed that the warrior was happy to hold the role of speaker, but her companion was eager to interrupt.

‘What did *you* think?’ the blonde asked.

Xena hesitated as if trying to take care in selecting her words.

‘She did have a strange "quality". I never once saw her show fear, it seemed like she just *knew* no harm would befall her. She reported battles with great accuracy and understood the strategies involved, but she was not a warrior’

There was no disguising the admiration in the speaker’s tones.

Gabrielle felt a pang of jealousy, this Yarina seemed to have all the qualities that the bard herself both admired and wished for herself.

This historian also clearly invoked vivid memories in the mind of Xena.

‘Is she still alive?’ It was not the question foremost in the bard’s thoughts, but a "safer" alternative.

The tall warrior merely shrugged.

‘She did appear to be indestructible’ Xena laughed ‘but I simply don’t know. I last saw her in Corinth, very much alive and well’

The smile that accompanied this final comment again made the bard forlorn.

‘Was she beautiful?’ yet again Gabrielle avoided her most pressing enquiry.

This time the blue eyes became perplexed.

‘Yes. She was *very* beautiful’

It may not have been the reply that Gabrielle wanted to hear, though it seemed to be the inevitable one.

‘Xena, did you love her?’ finally the blonde asked what had been on her mind for some time. She immediately wished that she hadn’t.

Unexpectedly the warrior laughed out loud, though her cheeks may have flushed just a little.

‘I doubt Yarina would allow anyone to love her…at least not in the romantic sense’

This added proviso seemed to hang in the air, both women became mute.

The evening dark had descended and Xena busied herself lighting candles.

‘I assume you want to stay here’ the warrior explained ‘perhaps you may discover some of Yarina’s more entertaining works’ again the wry smile appeared.

Gabrielle was becoming a little annoyed, indeed frustrated.

‘You know Xena how I sometimes earn us money by recounting epic poetry or legendary battles to a crowded tavern?’ The question was obviously rhetorical but the sharp tone of voice demanded a response.

‘Of course and you do it very well’ Xena assured her friend ‘you truly have a gift. The local tavern might be a good venue, though at this moment we are not scarce of dinars and I thought you would want to take full advantage of this library’

‘Well thank you Xena’ the bard sounded slightly contrite ‘but here is what *I* want. I want us to retire to that tavern right now and *you* recite a tale’ Gabrielle held up a hand to ward off complaints

‘Except you will have an audience of just one’

What had begun as an unwanted partnership had quickly developed into a friendship. Xena smiled if only inwardly. She had adopted the role of Gabrielle’s "protector", sometimes teacher. This was perhaps the first time that Gabrielle had produced such an "outburst"

Xena began to extinguish the freshly lit candles.

‘On one condition’ she gave the bard her best "school-mistress" stare.

Gabrielle quickly reverted to the role of chastened pupil.

‘Yes?’ she asked meekly.

‘That my audience doesn’t throw tomatoes or fall asleep the way yours sometimes does’

That produced the shared smile that both women delighted in.


Finding a quiet seat in the corner of the inn was no problem. The place was clean, quiet and friendly. Even the selection of beverages available was of a standard that might normally be found only in the castle of a well-born nobleman.

The town was atypical of those they usually came upon, which maybe was appropriate since Xena’s upcoming role of bard was an unfamiliar one.

Somehow though, she relished the challenge.

‘Now refill your drink, I am about to begin…’


It was a few years back, my army was good, but not yet fully trained or equipped as I would like. But I did have the name and growing reputation. Alicia, Huron, Mederev, Tisgar and Xena. The five most feared names in all of the southlands, probably further afield too. "The Five Warlords" we were known as collectively, though we did not act collectively. Each of us commanded a sizeable army, each of us noted warriors in our own right. I have to say I never truly rated Alicia, she was a bit of a novelty being a woman, but I didn’t think she could fight on her own right. Her army was a different proposition, and she knew military tactics. Anyone fool enough to tackle Alicia with the phrase ‘you and who’s army?’ soon found out!

Mederev and Huron I think did collude, I didn’t trust either of them, they were ruthless, brutal men who gave rape and pillage a bad name. Tisgar was a mystery, a Viking type who was a real loner. He rarely spoke, when he did speak he rarely said anything.

Anyway the five of us had the southlands carved up pretty good between us, there was an uneasy respect that existed, I suppose none of us dared take on any other.

It would have been a stupid move anyway. Huron was the biggest hothead, he would boast of attacking Alicia’s stronghold and raping her body while her blood drained away. It was a possibility, but not before her army had slaughtered most of his.

I was the new face in town, and probably to them the most mysterious, the biggest unknown. There was an island stronghold called Ikos which had remained free partly because it was so easily defended, but also it really wasn’t worth the effort.

Tisgar, by far the most experience sailor had lost three ships in an attempt to claim Ikos, he was furious but the prize was not worth further losses.

The little island was shrugged off as an insignificance and they went about plundering richer fare.

I took the island.

‘How?’ it was the single question on everyone’s lips as I sailed triumphantly back to the mainland with my flag clearly visible on the castle of the Ikos stronghold.

It had been stunningly simple yet that action added immensely to my reputation. It added to my mystique and probably elevated me fully into the echelons of the feared Warlords.

Just for the record Gabrielle, I took a handful of soldiers and we *swam* across.

Ikos defences had been honed to destroy ships, everyone just assumed it was too far and too dangerous to swim there. I guess the islanders just never dreamt anyone would even try such a foolhardy exercise. Actually some of my men didn’t make the crossing. I emerged and frankly was exhausted to the point of collapse, but I had strength enough to sever the heads of two guards.

When I marched up to the castle with a head in each hand I told them that they were conquered - and they believed me.

They were not fighting people. They agreed to fly my flag and provided a ship for my return. I stepped ashore proclaiming that my army now garrisoned the castle and that Ikos was no longer a prize to be sought.

For my purposes it was simple but effective. You must remember that back in those days I had a lust for power, but not necessarily for bloodshed.

I am not trying to excuse my actions, but I am trying to provide a context of the times and the people I lived with. Huron was the most despicable, so I assured him that every living creature on Ikos had been put to the sword. Mederev was mercurial, he could show extraordinary gestures of mercy or equally pointless acts of violence. I told him the women were spared to provide ‘entertainment’ for my garrison, something that he approved of. Tisgar, the enigmatic Viking was dying to know how I had succeeded where his sea-faring expertise had failed, I left him wondering. Alicia was different in that I think she considered warfare as a science.

She was quite dispassionate about killing, all to her was a strategy, a puzzle to be solved. I thought as a woman she might have felt closer to me, but on the contrary, she was the one who despised me the most. Ironically she was the one *I* feared the most, well her army anyway. It was by far the most disciplined, the best equipped, possibly the most loyal of all our forces, I was envious.

Now, I may have given the impression that we were a sort of club who held regular meetings and socialised and regaled each other with our endless conquests, but that was far from the case. The fact was however that we did represent the power in all of Southern Greece, and none of us could do anything without the rest quickly finding out. My spies were convinced that Huron and Mederev were planning to unite, but Mederev was prone to changing his mind when ale took hold, and Huron was prone to making outrageous claims under *any* circumstances.

Alicia seemed content to expand her influence slowly, and not to tread on toes, Tisgar was as always a riddle, I had no plans to ally with any of them.

Until Yarina entered our world.

Gabrielle had remained enraptured by the story, she had made a mental note to congratulate Xena on her own story-telling skills, but she was eager to hear more, especially as Yarina had finally made her appearance.

Each one of the "Five Warlords" had been summoned to attend a meeting at some remote mountain location. I think now that each was probably given a slightly different reason for attending, since our goals and ambitions differed widely.

I was told that I was to be offered a ‘unique opportunity to change the world’ or something like that. I wasn’t informed that the others had been invited.

The location had been carefully chosen. Warned to come alone, I’m sure each of us took some troops along, but the forest that had covered the lower mountain slopes suddenly gave way to open rock. It was impossible for anyone to sneak soldiers further up, and the plateau that held the log cabin was only partially visible.

Yarina could have had a thousand men up there just waiting to cut down anyone who had disobeyed the command to ‘come alone’

Looking back it could have been a hideous trap, yet I marched the rest of the way alone. I got quite a surprise when I opened the cabin door.

‘And the party is complete!’ The tall, blonde-haired, full-bodied woman exclaimed in an oddly excited tone, it was almost child like. Yarina had a presence both visually and audibly that could alter, yet remain utterly compelling

‘You too, huh Xena?’ it was a rare utterance from Tisgar.

‘What is *she* doing here?!’ Alicia looked thunderstruck.

Mederev and Huron exchanged a furtive glance, neither man looked happy.

I was taken aback but resolved to remain cool. The others were all seated so I assumed the one vacant chair. I could see hands were twitching near sword hilts, questioning glances were silently exchanged between various parties.

Only Yarina was smiling, but that happy visage soon grew more serious.

‘I assume you have each brought your own ale, for fear that my offering has been drugged. Ladies, gentlemen I suggest you pour now, we have grave business to discuss’

The others produced flasks, I alone stood up.

‘I trust you’ I said and poured from the large jug on the table.

That caused some raised eyebrows but no more was said.

One of my prized assets, and I have always considered it thus, is my innate instinct to assess people. Certainly *fighting* people. I had been making careful observations from the moment I entered the cabin. I was quite certain that Yarina was not in league with any of her guests.

It was more difficult to be so sure of the others, as I hadn’t yet fully honed my perceptive skills, but Huron was so tricky he probably didn’t trust even himself. Mederev I think *believed* he had an alliance with the pitiless killer, Huron, but that could change by his next drink.

Alicia despised me and undoubtedly hated Yarina, she was already on the point of leaving, but of course dare not lest she be the subject of a plot.

Tisgar looked slightly bored, I think he probably was.

Yarina had an amazing ability to alter her voice so that it became compulsory to listen to, it was if she could reach a frequency that caused all else to become silent, even nature itself.

‘Their is dire news, grave news’ she intoned causing all to pay heed.

‘One amongst you can prosper, one can rise above potential disaster’

‘Who, which one?’ it was Mederev who spoke.

‘I am the messenger only’ Yarina pronounced ‘do you wish to hear the message?’

‘Shut up, fool!’ Huron yelled which earned him a dark glare and the end of a possible pre-planned alliance with Mederev.

Yarina again held centre stage.

‘An army approaches, from the North and the East they come in vast numbers. A body of troop unknown in size and manner as has ever visited Greece’

All faces were expecting more, but Yarina paused to sip on wine.

‘What does she mean?’ Tisgar ventured another rare vocalisation, in a whispered aside to Alicia.

The woman raised her eyebrows.

‘We are about to be invaded by a massive army’ she explained as to a child.

‘North-east isn’t the Persians’ Mederev reasoned, ‘must be barbarians’

I must admit to being as puzzled as the others, but I refrained from the frantic chatter.

‘Who told you this, the Gods? Ares himself?’ asked Huron

‘She is a prophetess’ announced Tisgar who was almost developing verbosity by his own habits.

‘You know her?!’ Huron was accusing ‘I knew this was a trap!’

‘I know *of* her’ Tisgar spat back and his face burned.

The hot headed Huron was alienating everyone it seemed.

In such a fractious atmosphere I did become a bit twitchy. I was not afraid for myself, but a sense of foreboding started to fill the atmosphere, the very air I was inhaling.

‘If any three of you unite, you will be invulnerable to all but an army of one million’

Yarina had employed her most persuasive tone, again she was the centre of all attention.

Mederev and Tisgar looked puzzled, Huron smiled, Alicia glowered but then she had done so for most of the time we had all been together. I was thinking furiously, becoming less certain of my instincts.

‘Quiet! Say that again’ Huron thumped his fist on the table.

Yarina however remained impassive choosing again to sip her wine.

Huron pulled a dagger from his tunic and flashed it at Yarina.

The blonde woman did not flinch, I was about to intervene but Alicia stepped in.

‘We all heard her!’ she yelled.

Without further words Yarina rose from the table and moved into the shadows, and seemed to have just disappeared.

In their excitement no-one seemed to question her lack of visibility, nor indeed did they worry about potentially poisoned wine as Mederev found a fresh ewer and poured mugs for everyone.

‘Barbarian armies can be huge, 50,000 strong’ he gave his opinion.

‘Idle boasting and speculation’ Huron disagreed.

‘I agree with Mederev, the Barbarian hordes can be overwhelming’

Alicia was more thoughtful.

‘If we did combine, how many soldiers could we muster?’ she asked.

‘Mederev and I have close to 10,000 each’ Huron announced before realising that he had probably revealed some prior "private" discussion.

‘My numbers are smaller’ Tisgar gave less away.

‘Well I could call on nearly 20,000’ Alicia said with more than a hint of pride.

It was obviously my turn to speak, I had chosen to remain distant from the group and I played the novice.

‘I have nothing like those numbers, probably just count me out’

The fact was that I had no idea of the actual numbers of troops that I commanded, it was plainly nowhere near Alicia’s massive force. Again I was more than a little envious. Indeed her revelation had clearly impressed Huron and Mederev, I sensed that she would be afforded a whole new respect from now on.

‘What do numbers matter?’ Huron was becoming elated, ‘unless the barbarians can bring a million or more we cannot lose! The witch said so!’

‘I’d still like to know the strength of their forces’ Alicia remained with her "scientific" approach.

‘The north-east could be a sea invasion, that would mean you Tisgar’ Mederev was unusually thoughtful, and sober.

‘Don’t forget, Xena has mysterious sea-faring skills’ Huron spoke with a sneer probably still angry that I had never revealed the secret of my capture of Ikos.

‘Barbarians don’t sail’ Tisgar offered his usual terse input.

‘Count me out’ I said hoping to make my decision sound final.

I noted with surprise and a feeling of almost pride that Alicia seemed disappointed by my statement.

‘We don’t need you!’ Huron was dismissive, Mederev though appeared a bit more uncomfortable.

‘If three unite’ Huron repeated, ‘an we have four. Take your puny army and capture some farmhouse or maybe a chicken coop’ He was clearly enjoying himself.

Alicia approached and took me to one side, maybe a display of sisterhood was about to happen.

‘Xena I admire your military skills, I would be happier if you were on board’

I was genuinely touched, I am certain she was sincere.

‘Alicia none of us has to do this’ I tried to explain, ‘we could all just walk away.

Prophecies can be fickle, and this one sounds..suspicious. Let Huron and Mederev join forces, they will cut each other’s throats before long’

Yarina suddenly re-appeared from the shadows.

‘Does anyone have anything to say, I am growing weary’ she announced though looked anything but weary.

‘You said if three unite, is this a trick? Will the promise still hold for four of us?’ it was Huron again who spoke first.

Yarina sighed.

‘My purpose is not to interpret the oracle, just convey the message.’

Alicia left my side.

‘Do we sign a pact, or just agree verbally?’

‘I am not involved’ I told Yarina as I stood physically apart from the others.

‘Nor I’ It was Tisgar who made the surprise announcement and he then crossed the floor to stand next to me.

That caught us all off guard, but Huron was still ebullient.

‘We have the three!’ he gleamed ‘and we become invincible and will soon rule all of Greece and beyond’

Yarina looked around to confirm our decisions were final.

‘I’m surprised at *you*, Tisgar’ Huron was not yet finished, ‘as for you Xena just leave and prepare to die’

‘This assembly is not yet over’ Yarina’s tone was so commanding that even the hardened warlords appeared startled.

‘Much earlier I proclaimed that one of you can prosper, one can rise above potential disaster’ she studied us in turn with earnest eyes. ‘This seems to have been dismissed since I announced that a union of three, *or more* she emphasised would be invulnerable’

‘To all but a million’ Mederev completed the portend as if seeking re-assurance.

‘I *do prosper*’ Huron announced ‘and have already risen above potential disaster’

Though he made it sound overly boastful it was probably true of each of us.

Again Alicia was the exception in one sense at least, while the rest of us were prosperous in a relative sense, she truly was wealthy beyond measure.

And though each of us had surely faced "potential disasters" of form or another, probably many times, Alicia as the most remote of generals and the best resourced had possibly never truly faced ruin.

Actually it occurred to me that in normal circumstances she already was reasonably invulnerable. The revelation that she had 20,000 soldiers at her command, and from what I could tell of her reputation that would be *understatement*, I wondered just what had been said to her to make her attend such a risky meeting.

Ambition alone, in it’s infinite variety, would have persuaded three of us, Tisgar seemed easily persuaded by the notion of prophecy, so what form of temptation had Alicia been invulnerable to?

My musings were delayed as Yarina hushed us all with a simple raised hand.

‘Tisgar, you are not for such a venture?’

She hadn’t required an explanation, yet he felt bound to give one.

‘I am not from these parts’ he began. ‘Indeed many here will regard

*me* as a barbarian. Yet I have no problems with Greece and it’s diverse ways,

my thirst for adventure is. .’ he seemed incapable of finishing the thought, it may have been his longest speech ever.

‘I just want to go home’ The Viking concluded, his voice trailing into void.

As the other dissenting voice, I expected to be queried next. Instead Yarina turned directly to face Alicia. Maybe I alone noticed that Yarina’s eyes seemed to be imploring the wealthy, intelligent woman to reconsider. Maybe Alicia noticed too.

‘Alicia, you declare for the three yet your heart knows sadness’

This was not a question, but Alicia wanted her say.

‘My heart has always known sadness, Perhaps I alone know the treasures to be gained’ As she finished I would swear she gave me a conspiratorial wink.

My estimation of the woman rose greatly, I was suddenly saddened that we had not previously been friends. With my own eyes I tried to beg her to reconsider, but her mind, or was it her heart? Had already chosen.

‘Mederev, Huron you display little or no doubt. The triumvirate is complete’

The prophetess finally turned to me.

‘Xena says no but her vote is of no consequence’ and I was thus summarily discounted as an irrelevance. My ire rose at *that*.

‘You may leave. The Triumvirate first, the other two are not fit to even walk in your shadows.’

‘By the Gods! Xena’ Gabrielle declared, ‘now I wish you would talk more!’

The bard took advantage of the table service to request further drinks.

‘There is so much about your past unknown to me. And you *do* tell it well’ she added the promised compliment.

‘So what became of everyone?’ the bard was eager to hear more.

Once the drinks were re-charged, Xena continued her bardic duties.

You can imagine the delight of Huron and Mederev, they made quite a display of leaving first. Yarina’s words had boosted them as the conquerors they perceived themselves to be. Alicia hustled to keep up with them, but she did turn and say

‘Goodbye Xena’

It was the only farewell message issued that evening.

I wish that I could claim shedding a tear at her departure, but I did not.

Tisgar and I exchanged a glance and resumed our prior seating.

We took more wine and both raised our mugs, but neither of us uttered a toast.

If he had noted beforehand then he simply did not report the fact, but finally it became obvious that Yarina too had disappeared.

Maybe each of us simply thought that she had retreated to the "shadowlands" as she had done earlier, and were expecting a re-appearance soon..

Did either of us hear screams from the lower mountain slopes?

It is but pointless for me to estimate a time-scale. All I do know is that Tisgar finally stood up and said.

‘I want to leave, I would prefer if we left together’

As two of the most feared people in all of southern Greece we must have made a sorry sight as we stepped out tentatively into the fading light.

I think to his credit, Tisgar was initially bolder than I. Maybe his habitual boredom had just recurred and he was in a hurry to begin his journey home.

I saw enemies behind every shadow.

Soon enough we had achieved an equal pace, striding downhill with purpose if not confidence, needless to say in silence.

Huron was a shock. Visible only by proximity his left leg was twisted unnaturally, his skeleton revealed was *almost ungodly*.

‘No tongue, no eyes’ Tisgar observed, his voice entirely neutral.

After *that* finding Mederev was less surprising, though maybe more chilling.

By this time we had gained the edges of the forested area, as had Mederev though only just. His posture denoted that of someone climbing a tree, his horrifying injuries someone who had been skinned by savages - or barbarians.

Unlike Huron, Mederev retained his eyes, and they indicated sparks of life.

Recalling that the man had provided occasional mercy, I afforded him the same and drove my sword through his twitching body.

I guess after that finding Alicia was perhaps expected, but it did not ease the trauma. By now we were scurrying through the woods and lights from the town below gave the visibility more clarity. But it was sounds that directed us towards Alicia.

‘Xena! Is that you?’ the voice pierced the still air.

With little background interference the source was easy to locate.

We encountered Alicia standing waist-deep, several feet below us in a pool. She was by appearance scratched, bruised but otherwise unharmed.

‘What happened?’ Tisgar was behind me but spoke first.

‘It looks like a typical Huron trap’ Alicia said philosophically ‘he never did trust anyone’ she added, unnecessarily.

Clearly not the full explanation that we sought, I butted in.

‘What happened!?’ I demanded ‘Huron, Mederev..?’

I *swear* that she was smiling.

‘We walked out like indestructible..what did Yarina say? "Invulnerable" Gods’

Her smile even deepened.

‘In the gloom *everything* looked black, in our madness the ground was not moving’

Tisgar became perplexed, I was not entirely informed, but Alicia’s grin indicated that she was.

‘Ants, fire-ants I think’ she continued ‘they bit like Hades!’

‘*Millions* of them?’ all or rather some had been clarified for me.

Alicia smiled and again gave the knowing wink.

‘Millions’ Tisgar repeated the word aloud, the significance only just dawning.

I reached down, extending my arm.

‘Ironic that Huron’s trap saved your life’ I decided.

Alicia took a step back to evade my grasp.

‘Huron fills his traps with torch-oil’ She gave the biggest smile I had ever seen on her face before producing a flint and sparking it into life.


The silence at the tavern table was palpable. The waitress fulfilled an unbidden duty and re-filled vacant mugs.

‘Hades! Xena. I have so many questions that I don’t know where to start’

The warrior chose a shrug, she seemed uncomfortable by the re-telling of the story. Gabrielle stretched out a sympathetic hand.

‘That was so *personal* it must have been difficult’

If the recall had been more unsettling than Xena had imagined, she tried to brush it off.

‘Alicia burned like a candle but her smile never diminished’ she said

‘As for Tisgar, we parted respectfully and I hope he made it home’

A further, albeit brief silence ensued. Both women retreated to contemplation, yet neither felt easy within themselves.

‘Xena I truly thank you for that, I somehow doubt you have ever been so open about your past to me’ it was a sincere statement.

Unfortunately the waitress intervened before a response could be issued.

‘One last drink ladies?’ she asked ‘we are about to close’

If they had bothered to look around the pair might have noted that the bar had been vacated for quite some time.

Gabrielle suddenly did survey the surroundings.

‘We have a room booked, right?’ she questioned, uncertainly.

This was a situation that the warrior could command. Recovering from past insecurities she *ensured* that a room be made available.

‘You just have to ask the right people’ she explained to her companion.

It was a room with two single beds, customary practice for the travellers.

Perhaps not so common were the two flagons of wine made available by a more flustered looking waitress.

‘You were dissatisfied by my rendition?’ Xena enquired, evenly.

‘By the Gods, no!’ Gabrielle was quick to respond as they lay a few feet apart, again imbibing. Neither had retreated under the top cover, neither had bothered to undress fully.

‘I suppose I expected to hear more about Yarina’ suggested the bard

‘she seemed to be the topic of the moment’

Xena withheld an internal sigh.

‘In appearance she was much like you’ she declared ‘just bigger’

Gabrielle cursed the candlelight that may have displayed an automatic

frown. Xena was oblivious though, staring at the ceiling she asked in the most reluctant tones.

‘Have you ever read, or merely heard of "1000 nights in Oblivion?"

Gabrielle turned her head but received no response from the skyward gazing brunette.

‘I don’t think so’ the blonde admitted feeling bereft.

Well I think the library has a copy, it is her most telling book’

Gabrielle did not like the dismissive tone that she had just heard.

‘Xena, don’t be mad at me!’ she implored

‘That tale of prophecy and power just intrigued me, the woman clearly intrigues you.

All I want is to learn more about her life, her gift’

The warrior leapt out of her own bed and into Gabrielle’s with alarming speed.

Just crossing the small divide she had managed to divest herself of her trademark leather outfit.

She tore at the bard’s shift as a hungry, wild animal.

‘I desire *you* don’t you understand that?’ Xena gasped as she raked Gabrielle’s body with rough hands and kisses.

‘Fuck Yarina! She fucked me often enough...but *I* want to fuck *you*!’

The warrior appeared to have lost control as her mouth, hands, knees and every other body part simply dominated the astonished blonde.

Gabrielle’s astonishment did not prevail.

Within moments she was responding to unfamiliar touches like she was a wanton slave. Xena never once allowed her control, the bard did not once care for such.

Initial savagery became intermingled with loving tenderness, just as the two bodies entwined in writhing motion.

As the night wore on Gabrielle was emboldened enough to explore with abandon, her mouth urgently seeking Xena’s breasts, her hands roaming thighs, buttocks and stomach with unreserved lust.

The bard became so disengaged from thought that she tried to force her companion back against the bed while she consumed Xena’s juices as if slaking a thirst.

‘Not right now, you bitch!’ the warrior just about managed to gain a voice,

‘tonight I am the one to drive you crazy!’

‘Deed done!’ Gabrielle was all but breathless, ‘now spread those thighs you whore..’


The bard recalled waking briefly to find herself enveloped in strong warrior arms, the scent of their exertions still filling the room. Later she was stirred by a hand seeking solace in her most precious centre, and she obliged by parting her legs.

Though apparently still asleep, Xena contrived to gently minister to Gabrielle’s wetness and the bard positively glowed with pleasure and delight.

The next time she awoke the blonde realised almost immediately that she was alone. She lazily rolled over to see the warrior, fully clothed sitting on the edge of the other bed. She was staring intently.

‘Good morning’ the bard smiled.

‘A little later than that’ Xena could not match her lover’s broad grin ‘I’ve already had to persuade the waitress that we needed a bit more time’

The word "persuade" was said in Xena’s more warrior like tones.

The more than usual wine consumption of the previous night had caused Gabrielle’s head to ache, but it was the warrior’s grim features that caused her maximum distress.

‘Xena what’s wrong?’ she asked with bewilderment.

The tall warrior paced the small space that separated the two beds.

‘I spoke a lot yesterday, it won’t become a habit’ her words momentarily failing her she nonetheless motioned that she had more to say.

‘Last night I told you something of my world, the world that I came from’ this time her hesitation was due to fear? Shame?

‘Then in a fit of raw passion I pulled you *into* that world. Instead of protecting you from my past I forced my past on to you’

‘Xena listen!’ the bard implored.

‘What you did, we did together last night was astonishing, beautiful…I could go on forever. You think I don’t have passions? You think from the very first day I saw you that desires haven’t filled me?’

Gabrielle was shaking her head and laughing.

‘I had lived out last night in my head a thousand times, though my fantasies were no match for the reality, believe me!’ Her grin had returned.

‘All you did last night was to make me feel truly desired, truly loved and to use the more basic vernacular, well and truly fucked!’

The previous air of tension dissipated and again the all conquering shared smile restored their world.

They were back downstairs in the tavern where the omnipresent waitress had been persuaded to serve a light breakfast.

‘What are you paying her?’ Gabrielle wondered.

‘You know one more of my many skills’ Xena replied with a wink.

It took a second.

‘You had better not be!’ the bard blushed and glared simultaneously.

‘Relax Gabrielle’ the warrior chided, ‘you have exclusive rights to that particular department from now on.’

‘She is a bit of a fox. Maybe *I* could pay her?’ Gabrielle joined in the merriment.

‘I do have a lot of practise to catch up on’

The warrior found herself almost blushing.

‘If I catch you "practising" on anyone else…’

Banter and sweet-talk punctuated the remainder of breakfast.

‘There are some loose ends from your story’ ventured Gabrielle who deliberately ogled the waitress as she removed the plates.

Not to be outdone Xena said,

‘Hey beautiful, maybe bring some wine for us gals?’

It could have ended but instead ignited a light-hearted game in which the two women vied to see who could flirt the most with the hapless waitress.

Feeling light-headed and giddy from the early wine and the still vivid memory of last night’s marathon declaration of love, each of them showered the poor serving girl with compliments and endearments.

Xena thought she had won the contest when she placed a dinar suggestively into the woman’s cleavage, then was shocked when Gabrielle actually gave the waitress a playful slap on the rump.

‘Poor girl is either terrified or hornier than Aphrodite!’ Xena was laughing so much she spluttered her drink.

For whichever reason, the waitress had made herself scarce.

‘What I want to know’ said Gabrielle finally finding some composure

‘is was that whole million ants thing a set-up, or a genuine oracle or what?’

‘I honestly don’t know’ Xena replied. ‘I *did* edit the story a little’

She paused and took a deep breathe.

‘When Yarina initially visited me with the invitation, she did seduce me also’ a further pause to register Gabrielle’s expression. It merely said

"go on"

‘Seduce me is wrong. We had sex by mutual agreement shall I say?

I was wanton back then. Not indiscriminate, but…Anyway, at first it made me feel safer to attend, until of course it occurred to me afterwards that Yarina had "seduced" all of us’

Gabrielle was surely making a good audience, her eyes just seemed to be eager to hear more.

‘After I parted company with Tisgar, Yarina visited me again. I of course questioned her about the meeting and the "prophecies" and such but she refused to speak of the matter.

‘You desire me, Xena? I very much hunger for you’ it was something I would hear from her again and again.’

‘If I was wanton then Yarina was relentless, insatiable. She would turn up as if from nowhere, no matter where I was, and we would make love.

She took me to whorehouses, we dressed up as male soldiers and seduced women in bars. She knew of these strange palaces where rich women gathered and were "entertained" by slave-girls’

‘Wow!’ Gabrielle perhaps had not meant that to be audible.

‘I don’t know how long it lasted but I had grown accustomed to seeing Yarina. We hardly spoke of anything other than pleasure. She once did admit that she had never been with a man. She believed that women were the source of all power and that by joining with other women we shared that power’

‘Sounds like an excuse for being greedy’ Gabrielle intervened, these revelations both frightened and thrilled her.

‘Quite’ the warrior agreed ‘and there was none more greedy than Yarina’

The earlier air of frivolity had quietened. Sober, even sombre reflection now took hold.

‘You said you never loved Yarina, but…’ Gabrielle softly uttered.

‘At that time she was just a means of transport to places I wouldn’t normally go. Once she asked me to choose six girls from a line out.

I did so. She then kissed me gently and said

"You go have fun with your six, I will take my six elsewhere"

I wouldn’t see her again the whole night’

Gabrielle tried to look convinced.

‘So how did it end?’ she asked.

Xena shrugged.

‘Over time my thirst for victories and power overtook my lust for flesh.

Who knows what Yarina did between her visits with me? Perhaps she found someone new to take to the orgies, I just don’t really know.

Pleasure takes many forms, you should know that Gabrielle’ the warrior poured some wine.

‘Some cannot get enough of this’ she raised her mug.

‘I can say quite truthfully there is nothing *wrong* with five, six or four hundred women indulging each other, as long as every participant knows what they are doing and has not been forced. I cannot lie, I didn’t stop to ask those slave-girls if they minded what they were doing, or what I was doing to them..’ a pause for a large gulp of wine.

‘But what I became later was *surely* wrong. I didn’t take pleasure in killing, but I took great joy from the power and fear and plunders that my own and my armies killing provided. That is the sin that scars my very soul, and I cannot blame Yarina for that.’

Gabrielle allowed an ample time for silence, though she gently stroked the warrior’s arm in a soothing fashion.

‘Are we staying here tonight?’ the bard finally asked.

‘Hades! You *really* are struck on that waitress aren’t you?’ Xena scolded.

‘Actually’ Gabrielle said hesitantly ‘I wanted to get that parchment from the library. "1000 Nights in Oblivion?" You recommended it’

‘I see’ said Xena. ‘I think I suggested that *before* we you know, "shared our powers" so to speak.

‘Does that make a difference?’ Gabrielle wondered audibly.

‘Considering what I have now told you, I suppose not’ the warrior decided.

They were back in the same upstairs bedroom of the tavern. Xena had stripped to her chemise and was gently washing her hands and face.

Gabrielle was in bed engrossed in the parchment.

‘Xena?’ she asked her voice all innocence.

‘I notice in this story that Yarina has a friend that she travels with’

‘Pretty good read huh?!’ Xena turned grinning.

‘Hades! Not half! I am wetter than the Strymin river, we had better sleep in your bed tonight because I’ve soaked the sheets of this one already’

The ensuing laughter was stopped by the bard.

‘Don’t change the subject! Yarina’s friend, "tall, dark-haired with fiery blue eyes and a body that could turn Medusa to stone" You will find is a direct quote’

It was Xena’s turn to play the innocent.

‘A bit of a lady killer too, I remember, "every girl wanted her and she satisfied every girl" isn’t that another quote?’ the warrior was grinning widely.

‘And in the story she is called Lena’ Gabrielle found the smile infectious.

‘Almost a very nice name’ Xena sat on the edge of the vacant bed.

A gentle knock on the door found Xena reaching for her ever on hand sword.

The waitress walked in. She was carrying a wooden tray with two bottles of wine, but it was her attire that caused the bard and the warrior to exchange eye-rolling glances.

A pale blue chemise laced up at the front with gold ribbon, it barely restrained the woman’s breasts and revealed voluminous cleavage and plentiful thigh. As she walked between the beds to place the tray on the small table that divided them her matching breeches were clearly on display.

‘I was just preparing for bed’ she managed to keep a straight face as she was well aware of the gawping women. Her explanation for the outfit would have suited Yarina’s tale. The waitress having deposited the tray turned and walked slowly back.

‘I was just preparing for bed when I remembered that you ladies liked...wine’

Both Xena and Gabrielle were in turn looking at the waitress, each other, the waitress and finally each other again.

‘Can I do *anything* else for you?’ the total innocence of her voice was only matched by the utter provocation of her stance.

Both open-mouthed by this turn of events, they finally stopped ogling the waitress to turn to face each other.

The answer crossed from green eyes to blue and back again.


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