Violence and lots of it. This is a Xena story after all. Though most of the ouchy stuff in this story is written as comedy.
Subtext - There is no subtext in this story at all. It's all main text. There are a whole lot of women in love with other women in this story. If you have a problem with that, read something else.
Thanks to my girl for the editing and to my mate, Nic. This story was originally started as a birthday present for the Xena fan that has everything. So Happy Birthday Nic. Sorry it's not gift wrapped!!
Any comments are welcome. You can e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
XENA and the Fairy Folk.
By S King.
Gabrielle sat on her backside in the dust outside the tavern. "Hey kid, where you off to in such a hurry?" said the largest pair of legs Gabrielle had ever seen. Not that they were longer than Xena's or anything, it's just that they were … well ….. huge.
"I'm not a kid," mumbled a very embarrassed and startled redheaded bard. Just moments earlier Gabrielle had hurtled out of the inn to remind Xena to get something or the other she just had to have out of their saddlebags and had smashed straight into the largest stomachGabrielle had ever smashed into.Staggering back in surprise she tripped over her own two feet and ended up sitting down hard, in the dust, in the street just outside the inn.
"Well, now that you mention it, you look far too developed for a kid", a deep voice rumbled. It was then that Gabrielle realized that her skirt had ridden up and her bilious green top was twisted at a funny angle and strangling her. "You want a hand up princess?" With that, two massive hands reached down and plucked Gabrielle out of her dust bowl and stood her on her feet.
"Actually I'm not a princess, I'm an Amazon Queen," blustered Gabrielle as she tried to straighten her disheveled clothes and put her hair back in place. The blush that had been creeping up her face had now reached her ears, turning them a lovely cherry red. "So if you'll excuse me, I have to find my friend".
The human mountain started to chuckle, that is until an ice cool voice from behind made them both jump in surprise. "I'm here Gabrielle. Is this person bothering you?"
Gabrielle was surprised that she hadn't been able to see Xena behind the human brick wall. The brick wall seemed surprised that Xena had been able to get behind them without being noticed. "Whoa, hang on a minute there Butch. Your little friend came bolting out of that door and decided to use my stomach for head butt practice. She lost and I was just helping her up."
"That right Gabrielle?" Xena asked.
"Yes," mumbled Gabrielle still hoping that the earth would open up and swallow her.
"Hey look it was an accident, no harm done. I'm Nicola, but you can call me Nic, would you care to join me for a drink?" With that the Mountain extended a hand in Xena's direction.
"Nicola, hey that's a girl's name??????" Gabrielle's mind raced as she processed this piece of information and got a good look at her road block.
Long knee-length boots covering huge calves, legs wrapped in leather trews, the large expanse of belly covered in red andblue checked homespun. "Looks really soft too," thought Gabrielle. Two massive forearms now crossed over the biggest 'oh my gods'… chest Gabrielle had ever seen. "It's a good thing I'm short," thought the redhead, "otherwise I would have ploughed straight into….. Oh Gods mother." Gabrielle lookedup at the rest of this incredible um!! woman and started to blush all over again. It was then she realised that Nic was now looking down at her with an amused smile on her face. It was a contagious smile and Gabrielle found herself joining in. Moss-green eyes smiled down at her from underneath black brows and the shortest haircut Gabrielle had ever seen a woman wearing. Hair even blacker than Xena's, a real midnight black, so dark it was almost blue.
Much to Xena's amusement, Gabrielle had obviously missed a large part of the conversation while she was checking Nic out. Xena was trying hard not to laugh at Gabrielle's discomfort, "must keep up the warrior appearances after all".
"So Xena, is your little princess usually so lost for words?" Nic asked good naturedly as she stepped around Gabrielle and held the tavern door open. With a sweeping bow she ushered Xena and then a slightly dazed Gabrielle into the inn.
"No not usually. Most of the time, the only way to get her to shut up is tofeed her something," laughed Xena, earning herself a glare from Gabrielle. "And she's not my princess," stated Xena with what almost sounded like a sigh to Nic.
"Right," thought Nic, "sure she isn't".
The three women found an empty table against the back wall in the main bar of the tavern. The place was reasonably busy being late in the afternoon when most farmers and travelers were looking for something to eat and drink. The main room was large, with a long wooden bar running along one wall. The other wall was broken up by two arches which led to a slightly smaller room with a fireplace and a small podium at the end, an ideal setup for a Bard to tell stories. A mismatched collection of tables and chairs were scattered here and there and the rooms were lit with the soft golden glow of candles which were everywhere - on the tables, along the bar, and in metal brackets set into the walls. This, and the smell of good food cooking gave the place a warm inviting atmosphere.
Xena ordered food and a room for the night for Gabrielle and herself. She had planned on eating then hitting the road but there was something interesting about their new friend and she had the feeling that a story was about to be told. Besides, she didn't really like traveling at night and any excuse to share a bed with her small companion was good enough for Xena. As innocent as it was, well on Gabrielle's behalf anyway. Xena gave herself a mental slap for being a dirty old woman andonce again squashed down the romantic notions that raced through her mind whenever she thought of her travelling companion. "Hera's tits, I'm losing it..."
As they sat over drinks and waited for food to arrive, Xena tried to open a casual conversation. Her usually chatty Bard was letting her down today and seemed very much engrossed in her own thoughts. "So are you traveling alone Nic?"
Nic looked around the inn checking for anyone close enough to overhear their conversation before she started speaking. "Um actually no, my traveling compa… um my friend…partner is just outside of town. They don't like crowds and I thought it was safer if I came in alone to get supplies."
Xena knew a poor excuse when she heard it. The town, though hardly deserted, was not in the throes of any festival season and so not exactly crowded. The strange reference to Nic's friend/partner had Xena intrigued as well. "Hey Gabrielle, care to join us in the land of the living?" Xena gently nudged her sidekick hoping that she would snap out of it and take the pressure off Xena's already strained conversational skills. "She's been making castles in the air since we walked into this joint".
Contrary to what Xena thought Gabrielle had been thinking not daydreaming. Meeting a woman like Nic had got her wheels turning good and fast. "Yes well she's big and I guess you could call her masculine, and what did she call Xena, Butch? I guess she's just another type of woman. Nice though, and I wonder if her partner is another woman. I wonder if they're like Xena and I, traveling around and having adventures?"
With Xena's nudge Gabrielle looked up and decided that the only way she was going to get answers was to ask the right questions. "So what's your PARTNER like?"
"Well," answered the large woman with a chuckle and a raised eyebrow, "she's a bit like you actually."
"She," thought Gabrielle, "that answers one thing"
"She's just a little bit of a thing," continued Nic, "about your height with long red hair the color of a sunset, darker than yours but just as pretty." Gabrielle couldn't help but notice the affection in Nic's voice as she spoke about her friend and her curiosity was tweaked even more.
Gabrielle, being Queen of the Amazons, knew all about women living in relationships together, um… kind of. The Amazons called it Life Bonding. She'd just never heard of it happening outside of the Amazon Nation and still wasn't quite sure of the technicalities of such a partnership.
"So are you really an Amazon Queen?" Nic's deep voice rumbled across the table at Gabrielle.
"Yes, believe it or not," and with that Gabrielle launched into the story of how she had unsuccessfully tried to save the Amazon Terreis and had received her right of caste. She also told her listener of the subsequent trouble with the Centaurs and Xena's part in bringing peace between the two different tribes.
Xena was watching Nic closely during Gabrielle's recital. The look of natural reserve had faded from her features to be replaced with one that Xena could only describe as relief and hope. This imposing woman was obviously in some kind of trouble and if the look on her face was any indication it lookedlike she thought she had found her saviours.
After Gabrielle had finished her story, Nic was quiet for a while, staring down into her mug, looking very much like she was debating with herself about something. Xena could sense the warring that was going on in her head and even Gabrielle could see the different emotions that flickered across the big woman's face, she looked across the table at Xena and shrugged.
Finally Nic broke her silence. "Look I really hope that story of yours is true because my friend is in some serious trouble and I've been wandering around trying to get her to Amazon territory, except I don't know where that is, and it's getting harder and harder to keep her safe, and I'm getting pretty close to running out of ideas and options, and Gods I'm tired of running hard and fast. It feels like we've been on the road forever with no end in sight." With that Nic put her head in her hands and broke down, crying silently for a few moments before she pulled herself together and looked up at her two tablemates with red rimmed eyes. "I'm sorry; I hate to do that in front of other people. Particularly complete strangers I've just met outside a tavern. Please forgive my gushing like that." The big woman looked embarrassed and like she was going to get up and bolt for the door … until a small hand reached across the table and warmly squeezed her forearm.
"It's ok Nic."
Gabrielle was using her 'soothe the scared animals' voice to calm the woman down. "It's ok; I understand exactly what it's like to feel like you've suddenly found salvation and the amazing relief that brings. That's how I felt when I first met Xena. Mind you that's a story for another time and I promise to tell you later, but first things first, maybe if you tell us what your story is we can work out how to help you and your friend." While Gabrielle was calming Nic down, Xena was quietly watching the little Bard from across the table. Seeing the compassion and caring in her friends eyes she couldn't help but let a small smile flash across her face. "Gods, how does shedo that - just always knows how to pacify the savage beast, works on me every time too."
Xena was always a little amazed at Gabrielle's effect on people but she also appreciated that as a team, the Bard's skills complemented her own perfectly. While Gabs had been opening Nic up in her own special way, Xena had been quietly using her own skills to learn more about the woman. Xena noticed the tightness around her eyes that could only have come from a lack of sleep and constant wariness. She saw the bulge of a bandage under one of the woman's shirt sleeves, probably from some scuffle on the road. That, and the lack of weapons, made Xena think that Nic had become a fighter out of necessity not nature. "Looks like I'll have to do a little training while we're on the road."
Xena had no doubt that she was going to help this woman and her mysterious friend, for two reasons really. One, helping people in trouble was what she did these days, and these wereobviously people in need and Two, any second now, Gabrielle was going to turn to her and ask her if they could travel with their new friend for a while and help them out and the one thing in life Xena had trouble with was saying no to her good hearted bard.
"So Xena what do you think, can we help?"
Xena suppressed a smile and turned to her friend. "Of course we can Gabrielle, let's just find out the whole story first so we can walk into this with our eyes open."
Before Gabrielle had spoken, Nic had got up and gone to the bar to order more drinks and give the um …. couple a little time to talk. She was watching them from the bar when Gabrielle leaned over the table and gaveXena a lung-crushing hug. Nic heard a muffled "thank you" come from the bard and couldn't help but notice the blush that crept up the warrior's neck as she stiffly patted the girl on the back and tried to extract herself from the embrace. A smile slid across Nic's face. The scene playing out in front of her was kind of familiar and she wondered if she had looked that way when she had first started falling in love with her own redheaded friend.
"Boy oh boy, is Xena ever in trouble with that one," the woman chuckled as she headed back to the table. She waited a few moments before putting the drinks down on the table, giving Xena just a minute for the warrior to compose herself. The Bard and the Warrior both picked up their drinks and looked up expectantly. "So I guess you want to hear our story. Um it's kind of long but I guess the beginning is as good a place as any to start". Since there was no response from her companions, Nic continued:
"I grew up in a small fishing village on the coast of Thessaly, my mother died when I was eleven winters old from some sickness that swept through our part of the country. I missed her, but I had always been very close to my father. He was a fisherman and a kind person so life was pretty ok. I've always been big and strong for my age so I spent most of my time down at the docks helping my father when the boats came in, unloading the boats, repairing nets, helping him get the catch to market, that kind of thing. Pretty ordinary really. Until one day, his boat came back earlierthan the rest of the fleet. I was down at the wharf when I saw the boat coming into the harbor, he shouted at me before he even docked and asked me to run and get the healer. Thinking he was sick or injured I raced into the village and practically carried the healer back down to my father's boat. The crew and my father were standing on the deck waiting for us which confused me. They all looked well so who was the healer for? Father led us down into his cabin and lying on his bunk was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. Apparently Father had found her floating in the ocean hanging on to a plank of wood and had fished her out. She was almost dead from exhaustion and exposure. After the healer had seen to her we moved her to our house. It was weeks before her fever broke and she was strong enough to tell us who she was and why she had been floating out in the middle of nowhere."
"Her name was Bride and she came from a tribe of people called the Celtoi who live on an island many seasons away from here, Ierne. Bride had been her people's healer and oracle. That is until a man came from Britannia preaching the law of the One God. Soon the whole tribe were following this new god and ignoring the old ways. Apparently the old gods were evil because they were of the earth and not of man. Bride had a special relationship with her peoples' true Gods and refused to give up the ancient traditions. People started to distrust her and avoid her. Soon they were blaming her for bad harvests and dying animals, forgetting the fact that they were in the middle of a drought. The new preacher was telling the people she was the child of devils and possessed by unnatural spirits. One night a mob of them came to her hut and dragged her out in the street. The people spat at her and threw stones. They had her bound and placed in a small craft and pushed out to sea as an outcast. Bride floated out there at the whim of the current with no food or water and soon lost track of day or night as her mind started to slip away from her. She was close to death when she was picked up by a trade ship that brought her to waters near our coast, but the ship was lost in a storm. Bride was the only survivor and she'd been in the water for days clinging to a piece of wreckage when my father found her."
Nic paused to sip her drink which gave Gabrielle an opportunity to pipe up, "Why are you looking for the Amazons?"
"Well I thought they'd be a little more accepting of Bride and me." Nic started to blush. "Gods, let's see if I can explain this without making a mess of it. You see Bride's not like everyone else, and I really can't explain why, you'll just have to meet her. She hears and sees things no one else does. I believe it has something to do with her gods; they have given her special gifts that kind of set her apart from the rest of us. I'm just a simple girl from a fishing village; I don't understand it and I can't explain it. I do know that people don't like difference and Bride certainly is different. After she had recovered, she had decided to move on and find somewhere to settle. As I said, people don't like difference and the people in my village were starting to change their attitude to Bride and to me. You see, while I had been nursing her back to health, Bride and I had fallen in love. Because of my size and strength and the fact that I'm just not like most other women, I was teased a lot as a child. But that was forgotten about as I was useful and a hard worker and kind of kept to myself. But my relationship with Bride reminded them that I had never quite fit in and the teasing started all over again."
"When Bride decided she had to leave it was an easy decision for me, I couldn't let her go by herself and I didn't have too many reasons to stay. My father understood and gave me his blessing and we left. I knew of the Amazons and had heard stories of how they lived and thought that if we could find them we could join them and live peacefully together. We've been traveling by the coast mostly so I can fish, and its land that I know how to survive in. We started coming inland when we reached Thrace, but Bride has had to stay out of sight. When we first started travelling together, every time we came to a town and Bride came in with me something umm ….. unusual would happen and eventually I would end up in a fight. Since Bride has a knack for drawing unwanted attention, we decided it would be safer if I came into any villages alone to get supplies." Nic sighed as if a great weight had been lifted off her chest.
"I came into town today to get a few things we needed when I ran into … or should I say … your little friend here ran into me." Nic laughed and quirked her eyebrows at Xena. "Bride's camped just outside of town in a nice secluded spot she found. She has a particular talent for finding perfect camping spots."
"If you really want to help we'd be really grateful, and you'd certainly make a friend for life, but it's getting kind of late and I have to get back to Bride". With that, Nic pushed herself up from the table.
"Look, we've got a room here for the night so why don't you meet us outside the inn tomorrow morning? Then we can meet your friend, make a few plans, and start heading towards Amazon territory." With that Xena stood up and slapped Nic on the shoulder. "Don't worry and get some sleep, we'll take care of everything in the morning."
Gabrielle stood up and impulsively threw her arms around Nic in a hug. "You know, Xena has a habit of making things turn out well in the end. I can't wait to meet your Bride."
Nic untangled herself from the Bard's embrace and looked over her head at Xena, "so is she always like this?"
Xena just shrugged, a slight frown on her face. "So we'll see you tomorrow then," and with that, Xena practically picked up the Bard and carried her to the stairs leading to their room.
Nic stood in the inn and laughed to herself as she watched the women disappear. "Boy is Bride going to have fun with those two." With that thought the tall woman turned and headed towards the door.
Continued in Chapter Two of "XENA AND THE FAIRY FOLK", Up in the Room.
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