The Broken Blade: A Tale of Camelot

Part Two

By: Llachlan

See Part I for disclaimers to this story.

Email and Constructive Criticism too: Llachlan

Rickie looked out of the passenger window of the Mustang, and took in the buildings and students of Portland State University. A fine mist hung in the air, coating the students who were hurrying across the campus in search of their classes. It looked different - maybe it was the fact that it wasn't out of reach any more - but today the sixties style concrete of Smith Hall seemed welcoming instead of ugly.

Excited and nervous she glanced back at her lover. The fluttering nerves in her stomach moving more like a herd of buffalo, than delicate butterflies.

Xena smiled. "Go get em Tyger."

"You've been dying to say that all morning, haven't you?" She accused playfully.

"Hey...I'm not the one who ate an entire box of Frosted Flakes for breakfast."

"No. You ate all the Lucky Charms." She shuddered in mock horror.

"What's the point of being Immortal if you can't indulge in a little preservatives and milk?" came the amused response.

"Smart Ass."

The warrior leaned across the seat and kissed her, nerves momentarily calming as the contact elicited an entirely different response, and she forgot about the traffic around them. Xena pulled back after a few seconds, moving slightly so that their cheeks were touching and the immortal's lips were brushing her ear and whispered, "Your smart ass."

"Mine." A possessive whisper of her own.


The Broadway traffic reasserted its presence and the loud honking of the horn from the car behind them put an end to their banter, and Rickie stepped out of the car.


A shiver of pleasure rippled along her spine, she loved hearing her name roll off her lover's full lips, the syllables taking on a new magic as they were uttered by Xena's throaty voice. She turned back to see Xena holding her backpack. "You forgot something."

"Thanks." Rickie took the bag she had forgotten in her eagerness and slung it over her left shoulder, then grinned. "Forgot something else." Ignoring the honking protestations she leaned back in the open window for a last kiss.

Xena pulled back and whispered in her ear, "G'wan. You're gonna be late."

"Not a good idea for a first day hunh?"

"Probably not. I'll pick you up at scoot before I have to do something nasty to that jerk behind us."

"And that would just ruin your day wouldn't it?" Came her amused response. "You are so busted...see ya later." A last wave and she watched the Mustang peel out of the turnaround.

Rickie took another look at Smith Hall and proudly squared her shoulders as she headed off to find her first class.

An hour later she emerged from the third floor lecture hall. "Well, that was certainly different." Rickie said to herself as she made her way through the congested halls and entered the breezeway connecting Smith to Neuburger Hall.

Spotting the student services office she joined the queue outside the door. The line was moving fairly quickly and before she knew it she was being asked to look at the camera. Finally a dread-locked Asian youth handed her a plastic card and she looked down at her picture not caring that she looked slightly goofy and all of fifteen. This made it official...she read over the words printed in standard computer type over the logo of PSU.

Rickie Gardner

Faculty of Arts and Science


Next she needed to get it validated by the library and recreation departments, though she doubted she'd have call to use the latter, since Xena had a full gym in the warehouse. But it would be nice to walk into the library and belong - able to sign out any book she chose. It felt really cool to be wandering around down here with out fear of being excluded by the cops again. She belonged - the card said so.

Rickie walked across the crowded campus, and at the last minute cut past the library and headed for the Arboretum. The familiar trees swayed in the January breeze and she kept walking until she spotted the large maple tree just slightly apart from the others.

This was the place...the spot where her life had irrevocably changed just a few short months look at me...who'd a guessed? Not me. Rickie reached out a hand and touched the smooth bark, remembering the fear she'd felt the first time she'd laid eyes on the woman who had come to mean more to her than her own life. The woman she'd come to realize was the other half of her soul...her tree in the forest.

A warm tingle ran through her at that tree in the that what I was looking for all that time I spent here? Thinking happy thoughts she hoisted herself into the tree, she still had a couple of hours before her next class, digging out the TX3000 laptop Xena had handed her before they left Saltspring the other day.

She turned it on and waited for it to power up. Nothing. It was whirring away but she couldn't see anything. It stopped whirring and stared blankly up at her, as if to say 'what are you going to do about it?' - a small flywheel was visible to one side and she rotated it. Take that...she thought as the blue icon covered screen resolved. the damn screen but I can't read a fucking thing on it. What little sun there was seemed to be concentrated over her shoulder making it impossible to read the screen. Fine...I can work with this...

Start Key, followed by the U key, then S, then enter. Gotcha. The laptop whirred some more and shut down. Rickie closed the lid and balanced the computer across her lap then pulled out her battered spiral notebook and a pen.

You're right Xena...this thing is very useful...very useful indeed...she mentally quipped in a Marvin the Martian like impression as she used the computer as a desk and began to write.

Xena watched the young students file like ants back and forth across the commons, searching for one particular student. Finally she spotted the familiar red-gold head bobbing along with the rest of the students leaving Cramer Hall.

Rickie was chatting animatedly with two other students and the Immortal looked on in fascination as her lover finished telling some anecdote or other that had her listeners first mesmerized, then laughing with her.

It was truly amazing how alike and yet how different were these two women, each of them bookends to a long life. Gabrielle of her past...and Rickie...her future.

Which meant, she considered, that she had some arrangements that it was past time to take care of. Xena ended her musings as Rickie caught sight of the car and a huge smile broke out across the young woman's face. She said what looked to be a hasty good-bye to her companions then headed straight for the Mustang.

"Hey." She said, holding one hand just below the hood of the car, out of Rickie's range of vision.

"Hey yourself." Rickie tossed her pack through the window then added the laptop.

"Close your eyes."

"Will I get a big surprise?"

"Maybe." Xena slid over the hood, taking the short way around the car. She ran the rose along Rickie's jaw line, noting the anticipatory shiver that ran though her lover's body as the teen unconsciously leaned into the caress.

Oblivious to her surroundings or who might be watching she wrapped Rickie in her arms and kissed her thoroughly.

"Miss me?" Rickie asked when they parted.

"Big time." She held the car door open and handed over the flower.

The couple the teen had been talking to were looking at them and the Immortal tossed them a saucy wink before sliding in next to Rickie. "I think you've just been outed."

"You have to be in to be outed Xena." She laughed and leaned over for another kiss. "Thank-you."

"For what?" She started the car and pulled away from the curb.

"For this." Rickie answered, pointing back at the campus.

"Welcome." The late afternoon traffic parted before her willingly and they made good time back to the warehouse. "Hungry?"

Rickie ran the rose down her own jaw to the swell of her breasts then traced a matching path upward on Xena. "Yes."

"Good." She scooped the smaller woman up in her muscular arms, carrying her through the house. "I have just the thing."

A soft tapping woke her several hours later. "What are you doing?" Xena rolled over and propped herself up on one arm. Rickie was sitting on the end of the bed flipping pages in her notebook, dressed only in one of Xena's chambray work shirts - sans buttons - and pecking away on the laptop.

"I wrote some stuff today that I wanted to add to 'Broken Blade'."

The warrior was puzzled. "I thought you took the laptop to school with you."

"I did."

No other information was forthcoming and Xena was still confused. "Why didn't you just use it?"

Rickie looked up and smiled mischievously. "I a desk." Then paused. "I couldn't read the screen outside so I wrote in my notebook actually felt cool to sit and just scribble...I only wish I could type more that 20 words a minute."

A mischievous grin of her own settled over her lips. "I type 80 words a minute - want to trade?"

"80? Jesus, Xena, that's inhuman....80 fucking words?" Her lover's green eyes were wide in astonishment. "What were you...struck by lightening?"

"I have..." The pillow Rickie had been leaning against was chucked her way.

"Don't say it." Rickie was so cute when she was playing tough.

"Okay I won't." She sat all the way up in bed, and ran a rakish hand through her tangled raven locks.

Rickie eyed her appreciatively and leaned closer before sultrily whispering, "Trade for what?" The blaze of hunger in the sea green eyes not revealing the fact that they had just spent the last four hours doing what her tone suggested would be an acceptable form of currency.

"You cook dinner and I will type in your notes. Deal?"

"I get to decide what's for dinner and what's for...dessert?"

Xena leaned forward and whispered into Rickie's ear. "Yessss." Drawing out the syllable before nipping the sensitive flesh of the scholar's shoulder.

"Xena - Warrior Typist hunh? Okay, deal." She got off the bed and handed Xena the notebook. "It's all yours."

Xena studied the curve of barely revealed flesh just bellow the hem of the shirt as her partner descended from the bedroom. It certainly is...

Putting her carnal thoughts on temporary hold she slid the laptop across the bed, careful not to yank the cord from the wall socket, and opened the green coil notebook at the bookmark.

She couldn't read a word. More like Xena : Warrior Translator or Xena: Warrior Cryptographer. The Immortal sighed and set the book down. Plan B.

From downstairs came the rattling of pots and pans mingled with the clinking of plates and glasses, and Xena idly wondered what unique concoction she would be served for dinner. Her noise detected the vague scent of cinnamon mixed with nutmeg and vanilla...ummm....

"Finished already?" Rickie appeared at the entrance, loaded tray in hand.

"Didn't start." She craned her head trying to catch a glimpse of what her lover had cooked. "Ummm French Toast."

"You're not welching on our deal are you?" The blonde held the tray just out of the Immortal's reach.

"Couldn't read the hieroglyphics."

"You can read Greek, but not my handwriting?" Rickie looked a little hurt, and Xena searched for what to say to take the sting out of the perceived criticism.

"Must be a Karmic cycle thing, Gabrielle couldn't read mine in any language." She winked and reached for her plate before continuing. "Plus, I had an idea."

Rickie grinned back and lifted a brow quizzically as she joined Xena on the bed, adding syrup to her own meal. "I'll bite..."

"You read it to me and I'll type it in. I'd rather hear you tell it than read it anyway."

The full smile she received in response to her suggestion made Xena very glad she hadn't been able to decipher Rickie's scrawl. And it was true. She loved to listen to Rickie, to listen to the pictures she painted with her words, vocal inflections and sheer enthusiasm.

They finished eating and she exchanged her plate for the laptop, and opened a new document in Word. "Ready when you are."

Rickie crawled around next to her, taking a last gulp of orange juice before starting to read. "You sure?" She inquired somewhat hesitantly.

Holding up her hands, she made a show of flexing the tapered digits. "Yep." Then began to type as the gentle voice of her lover took her back to a time long ago and dreams long forgotten.

Artos shifted uncomfortably in his wedding finery. "Do I really have to do this in front of half the kingdom?"

Xena snickered, remembering her own wedding, some things never change. "Be thankful you only have half a kingdom."

By marrying Gwenhyfar, Artos would add substantially to his growing power base, the understanding being that he would be named Leograndis' heir.

"At least you'll get privacy for the consummation." Bedwyr grinned, adding his own flippant comment.

Cai laughed along with the other young Knight and Xena rolled her eyes while the groom achieved a colour of crimson not oft seen on anything save the plumage of a cardinal.

" will be allover before you know it." She let the double entendre hang in the air and turned her attention to her own surcoat. Thank the gods these Romanized Britons wear more clothing than an entire Amazon Village...and bathe less frequently than a herd of sheep. She was able to change her shirt without revealing her gender, which was a secret only she, Artos and the Council of Avalon shared.

Out in the courtyard horses were arriving and departing in a steady stream as guests, labour and supplies arrived. She tugged the sword-belt tight across her shoulders and studied her reflection in the polished brass of an ornamental shield.

She had once again reinvented herself, loping off her raven tresses and adopting full male dress. Looking at the reflection she didn't think she looked particularly male, but then most people only looked a the surface details. A secret feral smile graced her lips...and I'd kill anyone who wanted a proof peak...trial and right by force of arms had come to replace basic Roman justice and Justinian's Code.

Her eyes fell on Bedwyr...besides, it wasn't like Camuludd was short of pretty men.

A furious pounding sounded at the door. "My Lord..."

Xena yanked the door wide and the breathless page nearly fell to the floor. Artos had moved to stand next to her.

"'s the Lady Gwenhyfar...she's gone..."

"Gone." Artos sounded stunned.

Xena strode out of the room heading for the Bride's assigned chambers, not waiting for anyone to join her. From the few interactions she had had with Artos' intended bride, she didn't think the young woman was the sort to simply walk out on her wedding day without warning. In fact, she seemed to truly love the man she was supposed to marry, a sign that boded well for the union.

It was obvious the minute she entered the spacious rooms that Gwenhyfar had not left of her own accord, pottery lay smashed and clothes were strewn about the room.

Bedwyr skidded to a halt behind her. "Wow..."

"Have someone saddle the horses."

Less than an hour later they were on the road. It would have been sooner but it had taken Xena almost the full time to convince Artos to stay put, that as painful as it was, there was a chance that Gwenhyfar had been abducted solely to lure him into rashly leaving the castle.

The trail they had been following diverged from the main track, then split again. She looked at the Breton Prince. "Bedwyr, hold up." He turned his horse and cantered back to her. "See where the trail splits..." She indicated the marked up ground. "Left or right?" Offering him the choice of paths to pursue. Sure enough he chose the left, rightly guessing that the larger party would probably lead to the abducted woman.

"Left...but why take the right? Looks to be only a single rider." He asked, able now that she had pointed out the obvious to make some deductions of his own.

Xena didn't tell him whose trail she suspected it was, and revealed only as much as would satisfy his curiousity. Bedwyr wouldn't pass up an opportunity for glory or recognition, of that she was sure. To him that meant being the one to rescue Gwenhyfar, leaving her to figure out why a Lady of Avalon was involved in abducting the bride of the man they had helped to the throne.

Had she known the consequences of sending Bedwyr left while she went right, she'd have chosen differently.


"I wouldn't have." Xena stopped typing and looked over at Rickie.


"I still would have gone right...even knowing then what I learned later...I would have gone right anyway."

"I don't understand, she died because you weren't there to save her and that changed everything." Rickie sounded puzzled.

"If I hadn't gone right, we'd have never discovered who was really behind her kidnapping." She'd second guessed her decisions at Camelot for two hundred years after everyone else had turned to dust, and had finally come to the conclusion that there was nothing any of them could have done. Nothing short of having allowed Artos to die a babe...and even then it would have only hastened the darkness that fell over Britannia - not prevented it.

The consequences of her decision had proved far reaching yes, but it was Artos' pride that had in the end made them insurmountable.

Dawn had barely broken when she rode back through the gates of the castle, the quiet courtyard a good sign. "What news?" She'd asked a sleepy sentry.

"They brought her in yesterday morn."

Leaping off the horse, she handed him the reins and made for the Main hall.

No sooner had she stepped through the doorway than a familiar tingle set her nerves on edge, igniting her senses. The Quickening...but how?...Who?

She let her senses guide her along the halls, allowing her instincts to pull her along. Cresting the top of the stairs the intensity had suddenly increased ten-fold and she stared directly into the unsettled face of the Queen to be. Gwenhyfar.

She'd just managed to catch the woman before she could collapse onto the stone floor. On an impulse she'd taken her into the empty chamber on her left.

Grey eyes had fluttered open a few minutes later and again registered confusion. Gwenhyfar could feel it, but it was clear she didn't know what to make of it.

"It's the Quickening...welcome to the first day of the rest of your Immortal life."



"Hmm." She hadn't been aware that she'd drifted off on the currents of memory.

"Is there anything you would have changed? Ever?" Rickie was studying her intently.

She thought about it. Nothing. As hard as some of it had been, as painful as some of the memories were...they all lead to Rickie. "Not a thing." Xena sat the laptop to the side and took Rickie's notebook from her. Gently she cupped her lover's face in her hands. "Every second of every year brought me one moment closer to where I belong."

She rubbed lightly at a tear that meandered its way down from the green eyes of the soul that completed hers. "I love you Rickie." A simple declaration that carried the truth of millennia with it.

Their lips met softly and it was long moments later that Rickie ended the caressing contact of their mouths. "You have a way with words, you know that?"

"Just the ones you inspire."

"I like the sound of that...and Xena?"

She met Rickie's eyes, seeing an intensity of emotion in them that awed her with its depth. "Yes...." She answered.

"I love you too...and I'm right where I belong."

This time when they kissed neither of them pulled away, letting the sense of peace, belonging and...home, carry them along.

They made love unhurriedly, and Xena could swear that every time she touched Rickie, she could feel it transmitted back through her own body, magnifying the sensations already being caused by her lover's touch.

She lost track of who was touching who, immersing herself completely in the building crescendo, cresting as Rickie did - their bodies, breaths and heartbeats synchronized perfectly.

In the quiet aftermath, Xena gathered Rickie closer and nuzzled the soft hair that was splayed across the pillow and her shoulder. "Pleasant dreams, my Queen," she whispered before joining her heart in slumber.

23 February 1999

Part V