Disclaimer & Notices

Copyright: Many of these characters do not belong to me, and we know which ones do not. I, however, own the plot and other certain characters.

Violence: There is violence in this story.

Subtext: Any subtext becomes main text here.

Summary: This dramatic epic opens up to Xena and Gabrielle's childhood when they are best friends with an growing friendship. One day, Gabrielle's hometown is attacked while Xena is visiting her. Xena tries desperately to protect Gabrielle but ultimately fails. Xena will not stop believing that Gabrielle is alive, and she hunts for her friend. Along Xena's journey, things become darker and lead her further from Gabrielle and the memories. Meanwhile, Gabrielle is taken into slavery but it isn't for some time before her luck comes back. She meets a very caring master, who sends her away to be schooled as a bard. Later, Gabrielle befriends a very unusual girl, and the girl claims to be an Amazon. It isn't long before Gabrielle discovers how real the Amazons are, and that she's fated to be more than just a slave.

Feedback: redhope@redhope.net

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Started: March 33, 2003
Ended: April 24, 2007
One-Shot Fanfictions

To Find What was Mine

by Red Hope

Section Four B

Part 8: Xena's Fifth Year

The warlord touched the back of her head where it hurt the most. She hissed at the pain. Xena got to her feet quickly when the nightmare washed through her completely.

Xena made it just across the cell to her destination. She became sick in the empty chamber pot and there was nothing left in her stomach by the time she was finished. Xena climbed to her feet and slowly walked over to the small bench against the opposite wall. She sat and stared at the closed door that had a barred window. This wasn't exactly in her plans.

The warlord stretched out her earlier cramped legs. She slumped on the bench some and tried to rid of her nightmare by thinking out a plan to escape. She could only guess where her supposed ally was right now. She was also annoyed that Alti had been right that Cyane was too strong for her to fight.

Xena rubbed her sore neck. She was pretty bitter at her lost, but she wasn't out of the game just yet. She remained in silence and fully awake, but it was before dawn when the noise outside her cell stirred her. She stood up when the apprentice shaman entered the cell alone.

Yakut waited until the door shut then she neared the dangerous warlord. She could tell Xena was surprised to see her awake despite Xena didn't outwardly show it. "I see you've fallen from Amazon Grace."

"You didn't come here to chat with me about village gossip," Xena chided.

"No, I didn't," Yakut agreed. "I suspect you had pleasant dreams tonight...?"

The warlord slotted her eyes at the young Amazon. She briefly considered whether or not Yakut planted the nightmare, but she doubted Yakut had the skill to do such.

Yakut knew she wouldn't receive a response. She stepped closer and mentioned, "I know everything about you now." She laced her hands in front of her. "Alti's sleeping spell actually helped me become more powerful."

The warlord arched an eyebrow at this latest news. "You're a two-spirit, I know."

"I am." Yakut cocked her head. "And you're a lost spirit, Xena." She sighed at the warlord's forming smirk. "I understand why you're angry... ever since you lost Gabrielle."

Xena grew defensive and pointed a finger at the apprentice shaman. "Don't you dare speak her name!" She lowered her hand and hotly mentioned, "She's nothing but a dead memory now."

Yakut narrowed her eyes and debated whether to enlighten the warlord. Would it be too dangerous or would it help? She decided to take the risk. "Gabrielle is alive, Xena. I can feel her spirit... it still walks this Earth."

The warlord grew furious and shook her head repeatedly. "No... she's dead."

Yakut stepped closer and sadly clarified, "The only place she's dead is in your heart." She never dared to see the warlord become so stricken by the new knowledge. "But what does it matter if she's alive or not." She became emotional and mentioned, "You're no longer the person she once loved."

Xena turned her head away and stared across the cell. She closed her eyes and desperately tried to rein over her rage, which wanted to lash out at Yakut. Yakut reminded her far too much of Gabrielle.

Yakut edged closer and softly spoke again. "You have such great potential, Xena. I know many have tried to reach you, and failed." She bitterly muttered, "Except for Alti."

Xena's temper eased, and she turned back to Yakut with brighter eyes than earlier. "Alti means nothing to me."

"Do I though?" Yakut countered despite she already knew.

The warlord lowered her eyes to the floor but softly declared, "Yes." She met the apprentice shaman's intense eyes.

Yakut knew the warlord was being truly honest. She felt more at ease because Xena was opening up to her again. "It's time you let go of your anger, Xena." She stepped closer and touched the warlord's arm. "You are destined for greatness but you have two ways you can accomplish this."

Xena tilted her head and carefully listened.

"You can follow a very dark path," Yakut explained, "One that Alti will show you." She slid her hand down the muscular arm until she had Xena's hand in hers. "Or a honorable path that'll be lonely for moons to come."

"There is no honor in being a warlord," Xena coldly reminded.

Yakut gave a challenging look and debated, "And name a warlord who has tried to fight by honor?" She squeezed the larger hand. "You have the ability to do it, Xena, and you can bring peace to this nation finally."

Xena lowered her gaze.

"You know the darkness that scourges Greece." Yakut dipped her head and caught the warlord's attention again. "You've survived it, and you've been it. You can stop it all and protect future Gabrielles from being enslaved."

The warlord lifted her face and revealed her passionate features. "My heart is not in the right place."

"But your soul is," Yakut argued, "and the rest will follow in time." She touched the warlord's cheek. "Gabrielle believed you would become a protector for the people. Why can't you see her vision?"

"Do I look like her vision?" the warlord snapped and tried to break free. She couldn't though and Yakut held her in place. She growled until Yakut's hand touched her chest and soothed the mounted anger in her.

"You feel that?" Yakut whispered. "Its beautiful, isn't it?"

Xena had fuzzy eyes, and she whispered, "Yes."

"That's what you'll feel one day... all the time." Yakut pressed her palm deeper against the calm heartbeat she felt. "That's the peace you've always wanted, Xena." She smiled when the warlord closed her piercing blue eyes and soaked into the peace. Yakut knew this taste would help Xena make her final decision in the right thing to do. "I want to free you from this cell, Xena," she softly informed so nobody but Xena heard her.

The warlord opened her eyes, which were extremely calm. "Why?"

"Because I believe in you... because I believe you'll save the Greek Nation from all the warlords, tyrannical kings, and the poverty." Yakut sadly smiled and murmured, "Greece needs somebody like you... Gabrielle needs somebody like you."

Xena's childhood memories of Gabrielle flashed though her eyes, and the peaceful sensation increased in her. She somewhat smiled and whispered, "Gabrielle is still alive."

Yakut tilted her head and it took her a beat to understand what Xena truly meant. She realized Gabrielle was still alive in the warlord despite such much of the dark past. She felt relieved when Xena expressed this. She carefully pulled her hand away and watched the darkness shift back over the warlord. "If you make a promise to me, Xena then I'll free you."

Xena's icy blue eyes focused on the apprentice shaman, but her eyes weren't so hollow as normal. "What is that?"

"You must follow a path of honor," Yakut urged.

The warlord dipped her head in acknowledgment, but she knew there was something else. "And?"

The young Amazon steeled her emotions when she whispered, "I want you to kill Alti."

Xena searched Yakut's eyes and saw the faith the young woman had in her. It reminded her greatly of Gabrielle's faith, and she still felt she failed her best friend moons back. Could she possible keep her promise of honor to Yakut even at the darkest of times?

Yakut still held the warlord's hand, and she squeezed it tightly. "You can do this, Xena."

The warlord slowly nodded then whispered, "By my honor, Yakut I will."

Yakut smiled happily, lifted on her tiptoes, and kissed the warlord on the cheek. "I know." She released hands then become sober. "We must hurry before the village awakens. We have little time."

The warlord was baffled at how the shaman could possibly help her escape.

Yakut softly murmured, "Wait here." She strolled up to the locked door then stood still. She lifted her hands and faced her palms to the ceiling. Her lips moved in a silent chant.

Xena raised an eyebrow when she swore she heard to bodies fall to the ground. Then the door's lock creaked and grind until finally it swung open.

Yakut grabbed the door and ordered, "Hurry." She disappeared out of the cell.

Xena hastened and discovered that the guards seemed to be asleep on the ground. She curiously peered over at Yakut.

Yakut smirked and joked, "Alti's trick comes in handy." She then grabbed a key from a guard's waist band. She closed the cell door, locked it, and then returned the key. "Let's hurry this way."

The warlord darted through some huts and stayed on Yakut's heels.

Yakut ducked behind a hut and peered around the corner at the guard's station at the top of the gates. She focused her eyes on the guard and repeated the earlier chant. She sighed in relief when the chant actually worked from afar.

The Amazon guard slumped against the rail and dropped her head forward. She just barely kept from falling off the side.

Yakut dashed around the hut and guided Xena through the predawn village. She came out of the gates and led Xena closer to the woods. She turned to the warlord. "Don't forget your promises to me, Xena."

The warlord nodded then asked, "Will we see each other again?"

Yakut smiled at her friend's concern. "We will... when its right." She stepped back once. "Be safe, Warrior Princess." She turned on her heels and raced back into the village. She needed to released the three guards from the spell before anybody noticed.

"Thank you.... my friend," the warlord sadly whispered. She shook away her emotions then focused on her present mission. She needed to return to her army and find Alti, as promised. Xena broke into a run and moved quickly through the woods, and she would easily dodge the patrol.

The warlord didn't have an exact location of her army, but she was fairly sure they'd return to the camp they'd been at previously. She wouldn't make it there until the afternoon since she was on foot. She made it to the road a half a candlemark after leaving the Amazon Nation. Then she sensed a familiar presence behind her so she spun around with her hands up.

Xena sighed and lowered her hands.

"How did you escape so easily?" Alti instantly questioned.

The warlord chuckled and folded her arms. "I'm as fast at escapes, Alti as you are at fleeing."

The shaman glared at the warlord and moved closer to her. She sensed some shift in the warlord, but she couldn't decipher it. "Where is your army?"

"A few leagues." Xena considered her options then mentioned, "We're better off traveling in the woods... less attention that way."

The shaman consented and followed the warlord into the woods. She adjusted the heavy pack that contained much of her shamanism materials as well as another set of clothes. "They found that girl you'd threatened."

"I suspected as much," the warlord muttered. She slowed until Alti was at her side. "I'll ready my army then attack the Nation."

"They'll be prepared once they discover you're missing."

Xena chuckled and smirked at the shaman. "I'm counting on it."

Alti grabbed the warlord's arm and halted her. "You're foolish if you think you can defeat them." She stiffened when Xena's carnal eyes fell upon her.

The warlord faced the shaman now and glared at the hand on her arm, which dropped away. "Actually, I don't want to defeat them."

Alti's face tightened, and she had darker eyes. She knew something was out of place now. She pieced some of the puzzle together, but her thoughts were dashed when a strong hand came around her neck.

Xena clenched her teeth and lifted the shaman off the ground. She stretched her right, wounded arm out and ignored the intense burn. "I actually plan to kill you."

Alti clawed the warlord's strong arm but failed to get anywhere. "What about... our plans?" She chokingly demanded.

The warlord gazed up at the shaman and smiled at the fearful black eyes. "You mean your plans to harvest power from every soul you can get your hands on?" She clicked her tongue at the dark shaman. "Now I know, Alti that somewhere in there that would include my soul eventually. Do you really think I'd let you do that?"

"We had a deal," Alti hissed and dug her claws into the warlord's wrist.

"Deal is over," Xena casually informed. "I've made a better one."

"Yakut," the shaman snarled. "That little-" She lost her words when she was tossed at the tree behind her.

The warlord stepped up to the slumped shaman, who proceeded to get to her feet. "Yakut is more of a shaman than you could ever be, Alti."

Alti's quick mind worked on a spell to slow the warlord down. "No, I'm just a different kind than she is." She focused her powers on the warlord.

Xena hadn't expected any fight from the shaman. She cried in pain and fell to her knees. She closed her eyes and tried to will the painful memory to stop, but the hammer came at her knees anyway.

Alti smiled when her plan worked. "I warned you that I was powerful, Xena." She bent over and grabbed the warlord's black mane. "You are weak if you think anything Yakut tells you is true." She jerked Xena's head back. "The light is not your place, Xena. It never will be... not with the blood you have on your hands."

Xena gritted her teeth and urged her knees to refuse the onslaught of pain. She knew it wasn't real and that her knees still worked fine. She just couldn't get them to listen yet. "It doesn't mean I won't try." She suddenly rammed her fisted hand into the shaman's stomach.

Alti backed stepped and released the warlord. She hunched over and held onto her pained stomach.

The warlord quickly got to her feet when her will returned. She charged the shaman before Alti could perform anymore spells.

Alti's eyes widened as she was shoved backwards into the tree. She then felt strong hands on her hips, and she was lifted into the air. "No!"

The Warrior Princess hotly growled and threw the evil shaman up higher against the tree. She held her breath when Alti screamed so loudly that it sent the crows flying from the trees.

Alti lowered her head and fearfully stared at the tree branch, which protruded from her stomach. She had a rapid heartbeat because she couldn't believe her death was so near. "No," she begged to the Fates or whoever would listen, but nobody would.

Xena stepped back once then twice and stared at the hanging shaman. She watched as Alti slowly started to pass to the underworld.

"I will see... you... again, Xeeenaaa," the angry shaman promised before the darkness claimed her.

The warlord briefly stared at the dead shaman and felt some weight fall off her shoulders. She slowly turned and continued her journey to the army as if nothing happened.

It would be a few days before the dead shaman would be found on the branch stake she rested upon. The Amazon patrol would eventually haul her off the branch and bury her corpse. The shaman's death would bring a wave of relief to the Amazon Nation, but Queen Cyane would always wonder if it was Xena that'd done it or not. Yakut was the only Amazon that would hold the secret for many long moons.

And the Warrior Princess returned to her waiting army several leagues from the Amazon Nation. She returned to power as the leader to a discontent and sloppy army. It didn't take long for the warlord to reshape her army's attitude while they marched further west. The tiny band of warriors collected a handful of new recruits from local villages. But the most critical factor was the money and there were slim purses of dinars.

So when Xena's small army reached Oesyme, a tiny port town, she hired a ship. She selected a dozen men, which included Prostig and Tracker. She and the selected men bored the hired transport ship then set sail due south into the Thracian Sea. The warlord, a former pirate, gave the captain specific coordinates to follow, and the captain did so diligently.

The Warrior Princess stood on the starboard side of the ship. She gripped the rail, and her body swayed to the rocking motions. She sensed someone from behind so she casually greeted, "Yes, Prostig?"

The bulky, metal clad warrior took a position beside his leader and folded his arms. He studied the seas and the land far away in the horizon. "Where are we headed?"

Xena smirked over at the warrior. "You're not much for boat rides, Pro?"

Prostig chuckled and just merely swayed with the boat. "It's been awhile."

"For me as well," the Warrior Princess murmured.

"You were a pirate," the warrior noted aloud.

Xena flashed a grin. "I've been many things." She straightened up, and her height brought her above Prostig's.

The warrior glanced at his leader then looked away. "I like this idea." He received an arched eyebrow so he knew to explain. "To conquer Greece... and to do it with honor." He had a faint smile. "It's kind of a romantic notion in a warrior's eyes."

The warlord grunted and teased, "Don't turn poet on me, Pro. I'll need your sword, not your verse."

Prostig laughed quietly deeply and grew amused. "You don't have to worry. I'll leave this adventure to the bards." He went more serious and cautiously mentioned, "The men talk."

"Just like women," the female leader joked, yet she sobered. "What do they say?"

"After you made the announcement and some warriors walked?" Prostig saw the nod so he continued speaking. "Well, many of the men didn't take you seriously. I think maybe they're starting to figure out otherwise."

"Time will tell them," Xena informed. "When there are examples made and when we begin the campaigns."

"Where will we begin?"

The warlord showed a sly grin and softly revealed, "We need a powerful army of hoplites. Who trains the finest in Greece?"

Prostig had wide eyes. "Sparta?" He shook his head. "It is impossible to defeat Sparta."

The bemused warlord chuckled. She highly trusted Prostig so she decided to divulge a piece of her plan. "A hopelite soldier is quite affective in battle, but they do have a weakness."

The warrior considered what the weakness may be; he tilted his head. "Their backs aren't very well protected," he mentioned.

"Exactly," Xena agreed. "We only need to keep the hoplite armies attention with a few diversions. Then I think a cavalry swooping in from behind will do quite nicely."

Prostig mapped it out in his head with a few scenarios. He laughed at the final result, which was a slaughtering win. Then another aspect occurred to him. "A cavalry will cost money... plenty of it."

"Indeed," Xena muttered. She dazzled a wild grin at the warrior. "And a good pirate always keeps a hefty treasure... just in case."

Prostig's earlier grin slowly returned when he realized his leader's partial plans. This may just work out afterall.

On the seventh day, the transport ship dropped anchor just near an island. The captain ordered his sailors to drop the two rowboats under the warlord's command. Afterwards, the warlord and five of her men descended the rope ladders to the rowboats.

From the crow's nest, the sailor eyed the band of warriors that trampled across the beach and into the surrounding woods. He didn't see them for a solid candlemark. The warlord and her warriors returned to the beach shore and seemed to be hauling large trunks. The sailor could only guess what was so important to this warlord to take a boat ride out here.

And when the transport ship returned to Oesyme, Xena's small army was plenty impressed by the incredible influx of finances. The Warrior Princess tempted the warriors by giving them an extra pay and informed them to polish their armor and sharpen their swords. Once the money was in order, Xena hired two heavy transport ships then her small army embarked it. The ships sailed due south then cut through the gulfs and straights until they were near the Peloponnese peninsula. The transport ships then disembarked the load of warriors near Cape Malea, which was about three days ride south from Sparta.

Xena paid the captains quite well so that they would hold their tongues. She then ordered her army to build a temporary camp along the cape. She then pulled Tracker aside and gave him orders to map out the peninsula, gauge the distance to Sparta, and find the local towns. She gave a last order to Tracker that he ask around for hired mercenaries and emphasis that good money was involved.

Several days after the landing, Xena mounted Argo and Chunag was at her side. She and Chuang rode hard north and through the mountains that blocked them from Sparta. When they were near, they changed into a less noticeable clothes, and it wasn't long before they entered Sparta.

The warlord's eyes glowed when she observed how the city was built at the base of high mountains. This could prove quite useful. And what Xena knew of the Spartan culture was that the women typically were at home while the men were constantly at the barracks. Yet what truly took the warlord's keen interest was the obvious break between the upper and lower classes. It was a wider gap than many seas that Xena had seen. She now had a rough idea, and a detailed map she and Chuang drew of the city, its walls, and the barracks.

The spring slowly built up and so did Xena's army. She'd arrived on the Peloponnese peninsula with just a hundred twenty-five warriors, seventy-five horsemen, and fifty archers. By late spring, the army had grown to two hundred warriors, a hundred horseman, and a hundred archers. Xena then made a hefty purchase for wood, workhorses, and a had a smith work some special metal. Then her men busied several days with building an onager and a ballista. And if the onager worked as Xena planned, then it would be the siege weapon to bring Sparta to its knees. Now, the onager just needed a test run.

Xena and Borias decided to capture a close town known as Asopus, which ran along the Parnon Mountains. There at Asopus they could test the onager's capabilities from the low mountain range. Xena dispatched a hundred warriors, twenty-five horsemen, fifty archers and the onager. She marched them northwest to the small town that peacefully waited.

Asopus had not expected anything and knew nothing of the small warlord army due south of them. The town was easily hit. The few men that took arms were captured, and the women and children merely rounded up. The villagers were then gathered into a herd and ordered out of the town. They didn't know who the leader was, but they listened to the strange man that seemed to be in charge. He was odd looking with his beady eyes, thin but long mustache, and flat face.

Xena and Borias stood at the top of a high hill and waited for the villagers to be hauled out of the town. She lifted her right foot and propped her boot on a rock sticking out of the ground.

Borias rested his hands on his hips. "I think they're far enough."

The warlord nodded, and she turned her head to the left. She studied the four men that were now trained to operate the onager. "Aim for the town center."

"Ay!" the lead operator called. He then barked his men to lift the heavy boulder into the sling and tightly twisted the rope. Once it was set, he turned to the warlord and the second in command. "It is ready. On your command."

"You better hope you have it aligned right," Xena warned.

The lead operator or rather the hoplomachos slightly sweat, but he was fairly confident his mark would be true. "On your command," he repeated to show he was ready.

"Very well." Xena nodded. "Fire."

The hoplomachos gave a wave of his arm and ordered the operators.

The operator that had his hands wrapped around the lever suddenly yanked down on it with all his strength.

The onager came to life and the tight rope unraveled at a fierce rate. Next the sling blurred and rose up into the air, and the boulder that was contained in the sling became airborne. The projectile was launched and soared through the sky towards the small town.

Xena slowly felt a grin creep over her lips as the boulder began its plunge. She chuckled when the huge rock smashed into the town center's statue of a god.

The hoplomachos sighed in relief and smiled at his accomplishment. He noted his operators patting each other on the back.

Borias's head bobbed, and he smirked over at his content leader. "From those maps, I don't think the onager will be able to fire far enough."

The warlord had already considered this as she wanted to put several onagers up in the mountains behind Sparta. The onagers would chew up the city quite quickly, but Borias was right. "We need to build something bigger."

The hoplomachos had been listening in to the conversation. "If it is too large then we will not be able to transport it up the mountain passes."

Xena slammed her boot on the ground and twisted on her boots. "That's where the workhorses come in. The onager doesn't have enough range to cover all of Sparta."

The hoplomachos considered the problem then mentioned, "Perhaps a counterweight would serve better than using the rope's energy... pressure."

"Even a catapult would not be enough," Borias argued.

The warlord was still mulling over the hoplomachos's idea of a counterweight. She suddenly grinned at Borias's mention of a catapult. "A catapult with a counterweight would work sufficiently." 

The hoplomaches mentally drew the siege weapon in his head. "It may work," he muttered. "I will draw a sketch."

Xena smiled at the suggestion. "Do that, and you'll have your materials." She then signaled for Borias to follow her. "Practice on the town some more." She casually strolled off but called back, "And make sure not to destroy too much."

The hoplomaches wildly grinned then hastily ordered his operators to ready the onager again.

The warlord and the second in command descended the path then joined Chuang. Xena found it was quite easy, while the onager was practicing in the background, to convince the villagers to work with her. In response, Xena made several promises to the villagers and their town. It was a great pact because the town had an excellent blacksmith, and the town was not at all in Spartan territory.

The split army marched back to the camp and rejoined. Xena soon had a design for the weighted catapult, and she made a few adjustments to the sketch. It wasn't long before she purchased the required supplies to build the beastly siege weapon.

Then word spread about Asopus's pact with the small army. The two neighboring towns to the camp sent out representatives and offered alliances to Xena too. They'd heard about the minor attack on Asopus, which ended with no deaths.

Xena used her powers of intimidation to make sure the alliances favored her. And each time, she promised to protect the villages from any enemies. She was quite satisfied that the three towns would become valuable when she would turn her sword to Sparta.

It was a moon after the onager testing in Asopus that the hoplomaches hastened for the warlord to join him. Xena could tell the hoplomaches had finished his project to build the new counterweight catapult. She, Borias, Chuang, and several warriors came to the testing site to see the new siege engine in action for the first time.

The Warrior Princess first inspected the large weapon that was basically a long, sturdy arm with a strong sling at the end. Then at the bottom of the arm was an oval shaped counterweight made of wood that held a calculated amount of heavy boulders. Finally, the entire weapon was held upright by sturdy legs and cross beams on the ground. It was truly a beastly weapon that looked dangerous. And the best part, Xena decided, was that it was highly transportable in three wagons once it was dissembled.

Xena stood beside the hoplomaches and ordered, "Prepare the weapon."

The counterweight catapult faced the Gulf of Laconia, which was a league away. It was soon wound tightly by its rope. The arm was brought lower and lower until it was hooked into place by a strong pin. Next, the operators loaded a heavy boulder into the sling and carefully prepared the projectile for launch.

Xena had mocked the catapult's arm off a ship's mast because she knew how sturdy they were against storms. She then heard the hoplomaches call that the weapon was ready on her mark. "Fire," Xena called.

The hoplomaches waved his lever operator to pull.

The operator yanked down on the lever, which popped the pin from between the block and eyebolt high up. He then ducked his head when the air filled with a sharp whistle.

The counterweight quickly swung to the rear while the arm rocketed forward. It sent off the boulder in a straight direction through the sky.

Everybody tilted their heads back as the boulder went higher then leveled out for a few heartbeats then made its hasty descent. Then there was a loud boom when the boulder smacked into the soft grass faraway.

Chunag was dazzled, and he leaned closer to Xena. "That has to be a good four hundred pous."

"At least," the warlord agreed. She then turned her head to the left where the hoplomaches waited for her words. "Hoplomaches?"

The lead operator knew he'd done well, yet he was still nervous. He jogged over to the warlord, bowed his head, and waited.

Xena was silent for a moment then she finally turned to the hoplomaches. "You've done well."

The hoplomaches's shoulders fell because he was relieved. "Thank you."

The Warrior Princess considered another thought, and she made her decision. "The siege weapon will be named after you, Vincien."

The hoplomaches lit up at this great news. "I'd be honored."

Xena grabbed the small man's shoulder and tightly held him. "Then the weapon will be named the vincente."

The hoplomaches, Vincien, could not hide his smile. Then he looked beyond the warlord when his comrades cheered out at the proclamation.

The warlord chuckled at Vincien's dumbfounded look, and she lowered her head. She softly mentioned, "You just made their work a lot easier."

The hoplomaches hadn't considered that fact, but it was true. His new weapon, the vincente, would easily wipe out the barracks in Sparta when it was time. And he couldn't wait to see it.

Xena clapped the lead operator on the back then strolled off. She had plenty of prep work to do now that she knew the new siege weapon was a great success.

To be continued in part 5...

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