Xena and the Rose
Disclaimers: The inspiration for the idea of this story was the Davinci Code. The novel not the movie. There is no sex or violence but there is a loving same sex relationship. The rights for Xena and Gabrielle are not mine I am just borrowing them for this little tale.
Gabrielle was on her back writing in a scroll watching Xena nervously pace. She asked her over one candle before what she was waiting for, and all the warrior told her was a messenger. Xena gave her an annoyed look which sent Gabrielle diving into her bag for a new scroll. She had an idea that she gotten from a friend at the academy of the bards, she recently became reacquainted with her in Corinth.
She adored Xena, and she knew that the warrior felt the same about her. They had been through a lot and had finally admitted that they loved each other, deeply and forever.
This latest thing had something to do with Caesar which always made the bard very nervous. Every time they had anything to do with that Roman, something horrible happened. She despised him. When he betrayed Xena, she lost all the good that had been inside her for ten years. It was buried by the hate he had created.
Xena had only been back on the path to herself for a few weeks when they met. Gabrielle saw Xena's dark side now and then, but when she spoke of the Roman she became very angry and the darkness came into her blue eyes. It had gotten better. Over the years she was able to distance herself enough so she could keep her anger from clouding her judgment.
A knock on the door sent the warrior flying across the room. A hooded messenger gave her a bag and she gave him a bag of dinars. Gabrielle sat up and put her scroll aside waiting for Xena to close the door.
Xena took the bag and put it on a table in their room. Gabrielle got up and sat in a chair across from the bag. Xena sat next to Gabrielle and began to undo the ties.
"What is that?"
"A little something from Caesar."
"You already said all that but what is it?"
Xena smiled affectionately at her bard's curiosity. "It's easier to show you than to try to explain it." Xena pulled a beautiful cedar chest out of the bag.
"Oh, that's a really beautiful box. Is it a treasure?"
Xena snorted. "Sort of," She put the box on the table brushing the bag aside. "What do you see on the top of the chest?"
"It's a red rose."
"That's a Roman symbol of secrecy. See these beads over the lock? This is a coded syntax. We have to break it to open it."
"These are Roman letters. It could be anything. Why can't we just break it?"
"Because the damn thing is booby trapped. We have to decipher it so we can find out the bastard's plans and get a jump on him."
Gabrielle's face suddenly showed the fear those words brought to her heart. Xena smiled sweetly and cupped her loves soft cheek. She gently stroked it with her thumb and said, "Don't worry Sweetheart; all that is required is my brain. King Celous had sent me word of a planned invasion by Caesar. He wanted me to see if I could get some intelligence for him."
Gabrielle leaned into the gentle touch and the look of relief made Xena realize how much Gabrielle felt the threat of the Roman. She kissed her tenderly. She pulled back and her heart melted as she looked into the beautiful sea green eyes. "I love you, and I promised I wouldn't confront the bastard unless I have to defend myself. I won't. This is just a bit of a brain teaser."
"I know that, but I worry that you…"
"…will go nuts when it comes to Caesar," Xena interrupted with a sweet kiss on the little nose.
Gabrielle smiled and shrugged. She snuggled closer to the warrior hugging her .
"I have a responsibility to protect you, and I won't expose you to that bastard…" Said Xena quietly.
"But you said…"
"Shh, no I'm not…"
"You just said…"
"I always keep my promises."
"I know. So what is all this about?"
They pulled apart enough so they both could study the box.
"Caesar has decided to attack Athens. This is a captured communication to one of his generals. He always sends his messages this way, so if it's captured, they will self-destruct. There is a vial of acid in there that is released if you don't use the right code. So we only have one shot."
"So we need to break his code?"
Xena kissed her on the cheek and smiled. She pulled Gabrielle out of her chair, and then sat in it pulling her bard onto her lap. "Yep. Its two words. The first is five, and the second is six. They don't need to mean anything to anyone one but Caesar. It would have to something with Athens, but it may not be any direct reference. So we have to figure out what the twisted little bastard is thinking."
"How exactly are we going to do that?"
"Well I know from what our informant told me that it has something to do with where he will be meeting his generals. What we want to do is to get there first and chase the bastard out of our country. Better yet, kill him before he can complete his conquest."
"As in Greece not me personally."
"Thank the gods."
"You are hard to convince. I promised."
"I know." Gabrielle kissed Xena on the chin then she turned to the box. She got off Xena's lap and got a scroll and quill then scrambled back up. She started to write the Roman letters that was on the beads so she could try and unscramble it.
"It must be a geographic location. I have a war map from when I was going to attack Athens. These were the areas I felt were the best and most central locations for attack." Xena showed Gabrielle the map that she had in her pack by the table.
Gabrielle studied the old and well used scroll. She could see that Xena had worked on it a lot. Names were written in and then scratched out. It was a true working war map and she could see all Xena's brilliance as a strategist in it. It amazed her how far she had gotten in this plan. It all came crashing down on her when Borias was killed and Solan was born. She made a deal and left Greece. It was at this time she wandered outside of Greece and to learn as much as she could. She came back built another army and went head to head with the son of Zeus. Her life changed forever and she came crashing into Gabrielle's life, saving her life and stealing her heart.
Xena sighed as she was hit with a flood of very unhappy memories. Gabrielle sensing it put her arms around Xena hugging her tight. Xena smiled and hugged her back. Then she pulled back and kissed her forehead.
"At least I can put this thing to positive use now."
"Yep, you're good at that."
"Taking something negative and making it positive."
"Only since I met you."
They smiled at each other then two sets of intelligent eyes studied the map.
"Goara," muttered Gabrielle as they carefully checked each name on the map. "How about Agoura? Or is that too obvious?"
Blue eyes sparkled proudly, "Nope, that's it I think. It fits perfectly. It's a central area that important politically, economically and socially . It the center of administrative Athens. Very appropriate. This is Caesar all over, excellent job."
Gabrielle beamed and her face glowed from the compliment. "So what would Enodio mean? I it another suburb or economic center?"
"Could be. It has to with Agora I know that. Xena pulled another scroll from her saddle bag. It was just as a worn and well used as the map. It contained a list of important Temples and complexes. Gabrielle could see from Xena's glum expression this was a list of complexes updated and changed many times. The final result listed the following;
TEMPLE OF HEPHAISTES
STOA OF ZEUS IUTHUIOS
TEMPLE OF APOLLO
THE ODEION OF AGIPPA
ALTER OF THE TWELVE GODS
MONUMENT OF THE EPONYAMOUS HEROS
Xena's sharp blue eyes studied the list with intense attention to each detail. Gabrielle studied it over her shoulder. She concentrated on the words only. Scrambling and unscrambling each separate word in her mind.
"Are you sure it's one of these?"
"No, I know from careful study that these are the most important complexes."
Gabrielle suddenly stared at one name in particular. She picked up the scroll she'd been using as scratch paper and wrote the word Enodio. Her finger pointed to the list The Odeion of Agrippa.
"Do you think this is right?"
Xena smiled wickedly and whispered, "You're a genius." Then she pulled her close kissing her passionately. Then she looked at the chest.
"Xena if I'm wrong, we will destroy it."
"Were won't. It fits that egotist, a seat of power and a place of greatness. He would think it would be worthy of such a great man." She reached over and carefully turned the beads to the two words: Agora and Odeion. Then she carefully pushed the button on the lock. They heard a gurgle of liquid and Gabrielle squeezed Xena's hand. Xena just lifted the little hand and kissed the tight knuckles.
With her free hand she carefully lifted the lid. Attached to the top of the lid was an unbroken vial and in the box the untouched scroll.
Xena pulled out the scroll carefully knowing it was not beyond the Roman to booby trap it further with a scorpion or asp. Luckily this time there was nothing in the chest.
Painted on the top of the scroll was full red rose.
Then below it read;
"Meet to take place three days from the full moon. When Caesar's rises."
"When does Caesar rise?"
"How do you know that for sure?"
A dark eyebrow rose.
"Oh yeah," Gabrielle blushed. "What does the rose mean here?"
"Same thing, that this is secret. It was another symbol they stole this one from us . A rose is the shape of pentacle a sign for secrecy and for the female Goddess like Aphrodite. The Romans have never come up with an original concept except for war. Even the famous Arch and Aqueduct came from the Etruscans. They are great bunch of thieves."
"Yes they are. They stole a lot from this world and then claimed it as their own. So what is the plan we ride over to Palace and have a private council of war with the King?"
"And then we're out of it. That is the end of my obligation."
"As promised. You are such a great woman."
"No I'm not, and you know that better then anyone. I just love you and I always keep my promises.
Xena and Gabrielle explained what they found out to the King, he then asked Xena some questions in strategy. In gratitude the King offered them his hospitality. After a grand dinner they were given a suite of rooms in the palace.
They were cuddled close together in bed. Xena was gently running her fingers through Gabrielle's soft hair as she whispered, "So what is your new scroll about?"
Xena was amused, "Oh? What about them?"
Gabrielle could tell the warrior was thinking of some of the off color jokes going around Greece about them. "No Xena, this is serious. Remember when we were in Corinth?"
"Last week? Yes Love, I think I can stretch my memory back that far."
Gabrielle rolled her eyes and hit Xena gently on the arm, "Xena!"
Xena chuckled and nibbled Gabrielle's ear as she mumbled, "Yes?"
"Mmm," Gabrielle hummed as she enjoyed the little bolts coming from the contact.
Xena smiled and caressing the soft cheek she asked, "Sweetheart, what about Corinth?"
Gabrielle blinked and then met sweet loving pale blue eyes. She smiled and leaned her head against Xena's strong shoulder, "Remember when we ran into the bard I had made friends with at my second class at the Academy? I attended it when you had to go to Athens on a personal mission for the King? Her name is Ralia."
"Yes, she is a nice woman. You two chatted all night at the inn if I remember correctly." replied Xena with an indulgent grin.
"Yes sweetheart. That's right. You were talking to the soldier about a battle you won. We were talking about Ralia's escape from Rome."
"Oh?" Xena's eyes widened.
"Yeah, she was captured in raid against an outpost in Cypress. She was taken to Rome in chains and put to work in a Senator's house. One of her duties was to serve him in a box during the games. During the games one of the bouts was between woman Gladiators and beasts. They were Amazons. One of the women was torn to pieces by three tigers. The other fought a large beast with horn that Ralia didn't recognize. She won it brilliantly. The senator was so impressed he ordered Ralia to bring her food. The Amazon was miserable; she had tried to escape three times but had been captured and punished. It's Cassie, Xena…"
"Cassie? I thought she was killed by Caesar in a raid…"
"Everyone did or the Amazons would have gone after her and the others."
"Yes, they would have, and I would have helped them…Hmm…."
Made uneasy by the thoughtful expression on her love's face, "Xena?"
"I am going to get her the hell out of there."
"I can get in and out before anyone knows about it…"
"In Rome? Xena that's impossible!"
"I have an idea."
"You promised me."
"I did and I won't break it. Caesar won't even know about it. He'll be at his meeting and the King will keep him nice and busy."
"I'm going too."
"Oh no you're not…"
"Oh yes I am…."
A robed figure entered into a small compound of shacks that the Women Gladiators were kept. The men's barracks were grander because they brought in more money to their owners. The figure was admitted with food for the winning Gladiator from the day's game.
Cassie looked up at the figure and growled, "I don't want food. Take it away."
"Is the way you speak to your Queen?"
"Gabrielle?" Gabrielle took off the hood and put her finger to her lips with a smile. She put the basket of food on a table and said, "Shh, do you want to let the Romans know we're getting you out?"
"What? Are you mad? Where's Xena? How the hell did you get to Rome? It's dangerous. They can capture you too…"
"Ok, stop. Xena is here and we will get you out. Where are your sisters?"
Cassie's head dropped and she whispered, "They died in the arena, and I could nothing to stop it . I…"
"I understand, and so will your sisters at home. I have to go. Be ready to move when Xena comes to get you."
"It will be ok. Just be ready." Gabrielle left.
Cassie looked at the spot where Gabrielle had stood and shook her head very scared both for herself and her friends.
Several Gladiators were being led to the arena by the guards. Cassie was taken roughly by the arm and led through a side exit. A rough low voice said, "You come with me."
Suddenly Cassie was pulled to a cart, and as she realized she was being taken, she tried to pull away, "Help I'm…" A hand clamped over her mouth and Xena growled, "Shut up Cassie." She pulled them both to the side and checked to make sure no guards heard Cassie cry out. Then when she was sure it was safe she took her hand away.
"Xena, what are you doing?"
"Getting you out of here. Now shut up and get in the damn cart." Cassie jumped into the cart and Xena pulled down the tarp in the back and then jumped on to the horse pulling it.
When they got to the great gate in the back of the arena, Xena growled at the guard. "Get out of my way. I have an injured fighter."
"But the games haven't begun…"
Respecting the Centurion authority and fearing the impatient growl. "Good day to you Centurion."
Xena started down the path. Once safely away from Rome she pulled over. She looked underneath the tarp, "Is everything ok back there?"
Gabrielle smiled and kissed Xena's cheek, "Everything is perfect."
Xena blushed, she smiled at Cassie, "Ok let's get the hell out of here. I hate Rome."
They were on the boat on the way back home; Cassie was looking out over the water, her expression was very thoughtful. Gabrielle joined her; she leaned over the rail and stared at the water too.
"I let my sisters down."
"I couldn't' protect them."
"How could you have? You were separated by a gate. How could anyone blame you?"
"Well I blame myself."
"Cassie survivor's guilt is suffered by many including me. You can get over it…"
"But my nightmares…"
"Talk them out. It helps us ," said Xena from behind them. "Believe me; I know what I am talking about. I have much more to be guilty about than you do. So believe me you can. Just remember that you tried to help them and cared about them. That's all you can do."
Cassie nodded and walked away.
Gabrielle put her arms around Xena's waist hugging her tight. "You did it, and you kept your promise."
"Yep and thanks to that pretty little box Caesar is walking into an ambush. Thanks to your great mind we win on all fronts…"
"It was your mind. I just helped…"
"Well we are a team aren't we?"
"Of course we are, forever?"
"Oh yes. As long as I live…"
"I love you so much Xena."
Xena hugged her tighter. "And I love you."
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