DISCLAIMER: The characters Xena/Gabrielle are owned by universal etc. no infringement of copyright intended. This is a tale of love.
It is not intended to offend anyone. Any comments welcomed.
by Rab Donald
Call me Mendus
My name is Mendus and the situation is this, I am a dead man.
At least I was until last night. I should explain. The bookmaker Haka, is a dangerous man, a ruthless man, a man of his word. I owe him 5000 dinars, and he has vowed to kill me, should I not pay him back by tonight.
Last night, resigned to my fate, I was drinking myself into oblivion. Then in to the tavern walked Xena, a little blonde girl, and the gem of an idea. Actually, the idea came a bit later, but with Xena came hope, it always did. I've always liked the Warrior Princess, as she is often called, I liked her from the very first day we met. She did not kill me.
Along with her unstoppable army, she rode into my home town, sacked it, plundered it, then rode off. I am not a fighting man, never was, so when I stood unarmed before her, my only prayer was for a quick demise. She had clearly seen the look of terror on my face.
"I don't kill unarmed men" her voice was beguiling.
To cut a long story short, I briefly joined her army as a cook, but mostly as a scout, and for my knowledge. I had travelled extensively, and new the terrain for miles in each direction. I guided her troops away from marshes and quicksand, showed her all the short-cuts, the secret cave systems. In return Xena kept me alive.
That was many years ago. Today, I need 5000 dinars. If anyone can get that sort of money, quickly, Xena can. And so I have kidnapped the girl. They told me she is Xena's best friend, I don't remember the warrior woman ever having such a thing, but no matter. I admit it was a stupid act, a reckless thing to do, but these are desperate times.
I have the girl tied to a stake, boy is she a looker, by the way. On a different day, I would be bedding this young beauty, that is for sure. Sadly, it is today, potentially my last day alive. All I am doing now, is waiting for Xena.
The Bard of Potidaea
I have been called many things, though my actual name is Gabrielle.
My ambition was to be known as 'The Bard of Potidaea', but that description is rarely applied. 'Irritating little blonde' is more familiar, and intensely annoying. However, I have also often been referred to as 'Xena's best friend'.
Forgive me for smiling, but I love to be called that, indeed I use it frequently myself. Xena is truly the most wonderful person who has ever lived, or will ever live. Beautiful, courageous, kind. No words can truly do her justice, though that has not stopped me from trying, I have about three dozen scrolls dedicated solely to her and her deeds. Can you tell that I love her?
I nearly told her that very thing myself, last night.
It has been building up inside of me for weeks, and at the tavern, I promised myself that I would finally give voice to my heart. Rather cowardly, I chose to use cider as an aid. I'm not much of a drinker, but the sweet liquid seemed to be helping my cause. I had the whole scenario mapped out in my mind.
When we got back to camp, I would wait for her to settle, then simply join her on the bedroll, and make love!
Such a plan! I long to touch her body, kiss her, caress her. I ache to explain my true feelings, how I love her so much, that her breath is my breath. The cider, it transpired, proved my undoing. Having rehearsed the situation in glorious and lurid detail in my mind, the whole thing simply fell apart. On reaching the camp, I suddenly felt somewhat drunk.
I must have dropped off to sleep straight away. I awoke in the darkness, fully clothed, with Xena snoozing nearby.
I was desperate to have a pee.
Having answered nature's call, I was making my way back, half debating that I could still snuggle up next to my love, when two men emerged from nowhere and grabbed me. So, here I stand, my arms raised above my head, tethered to a pole of some sort. It is mildly uncomfortable, very undignified.
There is only one man now, he is very well dressed, clean and somewhat handsome. Not your typical thug or bandit.
He calls himself Mendus, and has explained a little to me, something about owing money, a gambling debt I believe. The situation is this. I am being held ransom by a fool. He claims he knows Xena, but clearly he does not. Soon, very soon, she will come and rescue me. That is what Xena does.
I am only slightly worried. Mendus does have weapons, a dagger, an axe and a sword across his back. He sometimes looks at me oddly, he is talkative, then suddenly mute.
I said to him "You look nervous. You ought to be terrified" it got his attention. "Xena is my best friend" I added. I told you, I just love saying that.
Mendus just glazed over though. Yes, he scares me a little. But Xena will be here soon. I know she will.
Some people call me 'The Warrior Princess' though I prefer Xena, my given name. Occasionally, Gabrielle just calls me Xe, and I like that too.
In case you don't know, Gabrielle is my friend. My best friend. She is young and lovely and a bard. Zeus! Who am I trying to fool. Gabrielle is everything, my whole life, my very soul.
In what seems a very short time, she has transformed from a na´ve, village girl into the most beautiful, bravest and wisest person I know.
She is also missing.
Though I am not too concerned at the moment, I am very, very angry. Mostly at myself, I must admit. I regard myself as her protector, Gabrielle's champion. For her to be abducted from under my nose is a matter of great concern to me. I am reasonably sure who has her, and I think she will be safe.
Mendus spoke to me briefly last night in that tavern. He was not interested in the old days, as he suggested. I suspect he may have spiked my drink.
It would make some sense. I do not normally sleep so soundly, the idea that Gabrielle could have been killed, murdered while I slept, chills my soul.
The situation is quite clear in my mind. Mendus is holding my bard, presumably as some sort of bargaining tool. He wants me to do something for him, something that I would not do without duress.
He has much to learn.
The Situation Unfolds
It took Xena very little time to track Mendus and Gabrielle back to the clearing. Someone else had been involved, but they had ran off, the warrior mused to herself, reading the footprints and disturbed undergrowth.
Now, the one-time 'Destroyer of Nation' looked down to see her tethered friend, and Mendus.
Gabrielle appeared reasonably calm, the man however was agitated, pacing back and forth. He was clutching an axe very tightly in one hand, a dagger more loosely in the other. The warrior had circled the clearing, but it seemed evident that Mendus had no hidden allies. Xena stepped out into full view.
The man started and rushed to stand by the bard. He pointed the dagger in the general direction of Gabrielle's throat.
"Hold it there Xena!" he warned "Hear me out".
The man's hand was visibly trembling, through his now sober eyes, the warrior looked far more imposing than she had seemed in the tavern last night.
"I'm OK Xena, he hasn't harmed me" Gabrielle called out, trying to make direct eye contact with her friend. The warrior smiled inwardly. It was so typical of the bard to be conciliatory.
"Step aside Mendus!" the command was given in a low, but determined voice.
"No! First you must listen" Mendus' tone was uncertain.
Xena took a few tentative forward steps, all the time keeping an eye on the twitching dagger-hand.
"I will kill her, if I have to" the man spoke with a more measured tone, but he still managed to sound panic-stricken.
"Let him speak, Xena" Gabrielle looked at her friend, she was apparently more worried about her abductor than herself.
Mendus took this as a cue.
"I need 5000 dinars. You can get that, I know you can. If you don't, I'm dead anyway" he too was imploring, both sets of eyes seemed to be burning into Xena's own.
She looked at Gabrielle, then to Mendus, then to the ground.
Xena then raised her head, and fixed a look of gorgon intensity on the man.
"Mendus. If you harm Gabrielle in any way, you will live to regret it. I do mean live" she paused, taking the opportunity to inch forwards.
"There is nothing in the deepest bowels of Tartarus that can hurt you more than I will. Death will be a pleasure I will deny you. Your life will be a living torture, every second of every day" there was an authority in the warrior's voice that chilled even Gabrielle.
Xena began moving forwards more openly, but she kept her glare firmly on the man.
"If she has so much as a broken fingernail .I will .."
"Alright!! Alright!" Mendus howled as he dropped his weapons and fell sobbing to the ground. Xena sprang forward and released her friend, and they hugged tightly.
A Wiser Man
My name is Mendus and I work for the bookmaker, Haka. He is a hard man, but a fair boss. I get to keep a little of my earnings, the remainder goes to pay off my debt. It is down to 3000 dinars, so only a few more years .
Twice now, the Warrior Princess has came into my life, and altered it.
You should have seen the look on Haka's face when I went to see him with Xena in tow! She negotiated a deal for me, and Haka agreed. It is amazing how many ruthless, apparently fearless men find a way of agreeing with Xena!
I would like to tell you I have stopped gambling, but I haven't. I am wiser in one respect though. I have learned that Xena and one little blonde, is a far more dangerous combination than Xena and her entire army.
A Blissful Bard
I really don't care anymore what people call me. I love my name, Gabrielle, it has a nice sound. 'Xena's lover' however has a better feel ..
When she spoke to that Mendus character, the power in her voice showed the power of her love. I didn't need cider after that. My legs had turned to jelly just listening to her, later that very night, they turned to jelly for a very different reason!
I am not going to say much more, I think you get the picture! Suffice to say I am the happiest person who has ever lived, or will ever live.
I cannot tell you some of the names Gabrielle calls me now. That young woman has quite an imagination! 'Her Warrior Lover' is about the only one that wouldn't make even Aphrodite blush! My life has changed so dramatically, I cannot tell you. I am seriously considering thanking Mendus and paying off his debt, such a transformation occurred after I freed my bard.
Poor Mendus will have to wait, however. Gabrielle is calling my name.
She has that look in her eyes
I think booking this room in the tavern for three days was a mistake.
We will need much longer than that!!
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