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The Conqueror Series

Tale Three: Time's Fell Hand

LJ Maas

Chapter 25: Out Of The Mud Two Strangers Came...

Addendum to the Lord Conqueror's Manuscript: Separate Parchment
Added in Xena, the Lord Conqueror's presence by Queen Gabrielle of Potidaea

Whatever the illness was that I had suffered with, the fever took every bit of strength I had. Five days had passed since the day I talked with Yu Pan and Cyrene. My old teacher felt more like a father than a friend. I believe that he felt it, too. He had always called me daughter, but something made me feel as if he truly meant the words now. Cyrene, too, had caused me to feel so much a part of this family that calling her mother seemed as natural to me as calling Xena, My Conqueror.

Xena generally worried about me until our rides on Tenorio convinced her that I had grown stronger. I still hadn't returned to full health. I was aware that I grew tired much too quickly, but Yu Pan and Cyrene both examined me, and I trusted their individual healing skills. They pronounced that I was healing and in another fortnight wouldn't even remember the occasional fatigue I still suffered.

On this day, Xena and I spent all morning together. We went for an early ride on Tenorio just before sunrise and then came back to the inn. Cyrene treated us to a platter of fresh fruit and pastries that Delia had conjured up, along with a steaming pot of black tea. We came back to our room and found the decadent treat waiting for us. So, with nowhere in particular to be, Xena and I sat in our room, the window shutters thrown open to the sweet smelling summer breeze.

We talked for nearly three candlemarks. I was amazed and proud at the remarkable changes that Xena had been able to affect in Selene. The girl laughed and joked freely around us now, instead of wearing the dour expression that she had when we first arrived in Amphipolis. I was more than surprised when Xena confided that she had actually come to trust Selene and she had developed a certain affinity for her younger sister's company. My, I had missed so much in the days when the fever had me in a delirious state.

Xena, unfortunate for me, had arranged to tour a mining facility farther inland. Most of our group went with in order to visit the large bazaar just outside of Amphipolis. I thought that my good health had progressed enough to allow me to accompany them on the trip. Xena and Cyrene categorically refused. It would have been a losing battle, trying to fight the both of them. So, with a shrug and a pout, I gave in. Anya volunteered to stay back at the inn with me, but persuaded her to go with the others. It was difficult, but I finally convinced her that, as the royal seamstress, she could not possibly pass up the opportunity to shop at a bazaar known for its fashionable linen from Egypt.

A shy knock on my door interrupted my reading. A number of scrolls from Periander and the Athens archives had finally caught up to us here in Amphipolis. I enjoyed Periander's letter. I hope I do not offend the dear man by saying that

"Come in," I said for the second time to the partially opened door.

Slowly the door eased inward and Cor's smiling face appeared. "Hi, Gabrielle."

I laughed at the young man's constant smile. He, too, did not go on the day trip. In fact, the only reason that Cyrene allowed Selene to go was that Cyrene went, as well. In Cor's circumstance, his apprenticeship as a smith kept him busy most days, but he took his responsibility seriously. That wasn't to say he was always happy about it, but he showed a distinctly mature attitude for a young man of no more than twelve summers.

"Cor! How great to see you back so early. All done for the day?"

"Altus said it was getting to hot to work past morning, so he let me go early. Mother left me a huge basket of food. I'll never understand why she thinks I eat so much. Anyway, I knew that you got left behind today, too." He grinned again and I smiled along with him as I nodded my head in agreement.

"Well, I wondered if you wanted to go on a sort of picnic with me. It wouldn't be far, but there's a great little waterfall not too far into the hills. I figure we could both ride on your horse and it would only take a candlemark or so. It's a really great spot."

I thought about it for a moment. I began to rationalize in my head. Gods, was Xena rubbing off on me? The day was awfully warm and a swim in a nice cool lake seemed so appealing. Xena would have my head, but I was feeling much better. I knew I would say yes before I even spoke the words. I knew because I was already planning on how best to sneak away from my Royal Guard. Yes, Xena would be as mad as Hades when she found out, but what fun would playing hooky be if I couldn't test the skills of my guard. A Queen had to have some fun, didn't she, or what good was it in being a Queen?


"I've been all around the known world, Cor, but I haven't seen many places quite so beautiful. This was a wonderful idea," I said.

"I knew you'd like it, Gabrielle. I just figured you'd be the sort of person to appreciate something like this. It's kind of nice, actually. Sort of like I have a bunch of sisters now."

"Thanks, Cor. That means a lot to me. Besides it's pretty nice to finally have a brother. That waterfall is breathtaking. I didn't know the river went up into the hills like that. It's so high."

"You wanna know what I found when I climbed up to the top last summer?"

"I can't imagine."

"There's a big rock way at the top that sort of hangs over the lake. Someone, and I won't say exactly who…" he gave me one of his sly grins. "…carved some words into the stone up there."

"And?" He had me curious now.

"It says, Xena and Lyceus jumped from here."

"I don't believe it. Are you serious?"

"Swear by Athena," he replied. He followed his remark by spitting on the ground. I had grown used to the habit, even acting out the ritual myself on occasion. I didn't know if it was superstition or tradition, although it was considered good manners for women to play act the deed as opposed to actually spitting.

"Wanna go see it?"

I looked up at the high summit, me old fear of heights splashing over me like a massive wave. "I don't think so. Besides not wanting to be that close to Olympus I don't think my body is recovered enough for that climb."

"That's right, I forgot. Sorry."

"I sure wouldn't mind a swim, though. How about you?"

"You bet. Wait, I only go swimming with the guys so I can take off--I mean…"

I lifted my tunic over my head and Cor figured it out when he saw the lightweight slip I wore under my top.

"You're supposed to be my little brother, remember? Anyway," I said. "That's why the Gods created underwear." I splashed ahead into the water, which felt wonderfully refreshing on my warm skin.

Cor followed, but just before he dove in, he looked out at me and with a deadly serious expression on his face said, "Gabrielle, did the Gods really create underwear?"

We had a wonderful time splashing about. I grew tired more quickly than I had in the past. It simply showed that I wasn't as healed as I thought. Cor, however, thought my suggestion to dry off and dive into our food basket an excellent one.

Now, I had gone swimming all my life. I had been taught that when in mixed company, if women wore their undergarments, all would be well. I don't think that I actually realized that when I had been a slave, no male in my master's household would have ever dared look upon me for fear of the master's wrath. Perhaps that is why I never really noticed, until that moment anyway, that my white linen undergarments grew nearly transparent and clung to my body like a second skin. Unfortunately, Cor noticed, too.

Being twelve helped the situation somewhat. Cor was more embarrassed than I was. I grabbed a towel, but not before Cor got one rather innocent eyeful. The poor boy stammered and backed up so fast that he tripped over a fallen log.

"Cor! Are you okay?"

"Yea." He got up rubbing his backside and the back of his head at the same time. "I'm sorry, Gabrielle. I didn't really see anything."

"Oh, you little liar," I replied through my laughter. "You looked and if I was twelve, I would have looked, too. And I thought you said I was just like a sister." I continued to tease him, knowing that Cor's natural goodness would allow him to be embarrassed, but I didn't want him to think he'd done anything wrong.

His ears had turned scarlet and with his dark hair and sky blue eyes he rather reminded me of Xena, especially once he fixed that quirky grin on his face. "Well, you are my sister, Gabrielle. You're just a really good-looking sister." The way he giggled at his own humor told me that we had weathered the incident just fine.

I tossed a towel at him, which covered his face, abruptly stopping his laughter. "Turn around and get dressed, funny man, or I'll start eating without you."

"Hey, that's okay," he replied as he turned his back to me.

I laughed loudly. "You haven't eaten that many meals with me, have you, Cor?"


"I'm stuffed," Cor said. He fell back upon the ground and rubbed his stomach.

"Me, too," I replied. "I couldn't eat another bite.

"You sure?" Cor reached into the basket and waved one of the tiny round pastries at me. "There's two left," he said in a singsong voice.

"Well, maybe just one more bite." I plucked the dessert from his fingers.

We talked together, nothing too deep. Cor told me all about life in Amphipolis and I shared stories about our castle in Corinth. I found myself relating the entire story of our most recent battle at Marathon, too.

"Hey, it's getting late and we've got a ways to go. Ready to saddle Ridian?" I asked.

"Sure. Maybe we can actually get back before Xena even knows you've been gone."

"Cor, I'll tell Xena where I've gone, of course. Just maybe not right away," I answered, followed by a wink in his direction.

I whistled as Xena taught me and amazingly enough, Ridian came out from the bushes. I hadn't wanted to tie her up. She and I had become increasingly comfortable with one another to the point where I could trust her to return without a tether line. The mare grew closer and Cor and I each saw that Ridian limped.

"Uh oh," Cor said.

"What's wrong with her?"

Cor moved around the animal, looking as though he did this sort of thing every day. I realized that as a Smith, shoeing a horse had made him knowledgeable about these things. He slid one hand down the leg that Ridian had been favoring. He felt along the mare's knee and then gently pulled up on her hoof. Cor pulled what looked to be a long iron nail from his trouser pocket and picked at the bottom of the horse's hoof. He finally pulled rather hard and a large size pebble dropped to the ground.

"There ya go, girl," Cor said to the horse. "Bet that feels better, huh?" He turned and looked at me. "Well, the good news is that she just picked up a rock, must have been on the way here."

"And the bad news?" I asked in a cautious manner.

"It's a bruise, so it's pretty tender. That's why she's limping. We can't ride her…not even one of us. She shouldn't carry a rider for a couple days."

"Lovely. So much for keeping our day trip quiet from Xena."

"I thought you said you were going tell her anyway?" He questioned.

"Oh, be quiet, you." I slapped him on the shoulder and he laughed as he started to remove Ridian's saddle.

"It shouldn't be too bad, Gabrielle. We can walk slow and stay on the main road. That way, if a wagon comes along we could hitch a ride."

"Oh, right. I'm still not feeling completely healthy and Ridian limping along on three legs…I expect that we'll be back at the inn by tomorrow morning. Of course, no one has any idea where we are, so Cyrene and Xena will both be worried sick, not to mention that the whole army will be looking for me. I figure that even if we grovel the rest of our lives, we'll pretty much never be forgiven for this one."

Cor lifted the saddle onto one shoulder and held out the food basket for me to take. "You're not going to start crying or anything, are ya?"

I laughed at his sincere expression. The poor boy didn't know how to take me half the time.

"I'll be fine. Let's go. Are you sure you can carry that?"

"Why did you want to?" He grinned at me.

"You're a regular funny man, aren't you?"

We could do no more than begin walking. It had taken us a good two candlemarks to get out there, so I figured it was going to be one long walk home. It was then that I realized exactly what I'd done in sneaking away from my personal guard. I was the Queen of this land and I had just done about the stupidest thing I could ever hope to have done. Xena was going to be beyond furious and she had every right to be. Hadn't she told me that people might wish me harm simply because of who I was? I said nothing to Cor about my sudden fears. All we could do, at this point, was to put one foot in front of another and hope that our travel went well. In the back of my mind, however, I knew that things rarely went as hoped for.


"You're looking worn out, Gabrielle," Cor said. "Why don't we take another rest?"

"If we keep resting every time I look tired, we're never going to get there." I chuckled. "I'll take you up on it, though."

We drank some water from the skin, which Cor had shown enough foresight to refill at the river. I was surprised and disheartened at my fatigue. It made me realize just how ill I had been over the past fortnight. I stopped drinking and quickly scanned the area.

"It doesn't look like rain, but that sounds like thunder." Cor looked up at the clear blue sky.

"Cor, get off the road. Now!"

Just as he moved beside me, nearly a full squad of Empire soldiers thundered past us. Once Cor saw who they were, he attempted to flag them down, but I knew they wouldn't stop. They rode past in the blink of an eye, leaving us in a swirl of road dust.

"I can't believe it! They never even slowed down," Cor cried out.

"They're not allowed to," I replied, having recognized the riders' insignia as they flashed past us. "They're Royal messengers. They have only one goal. Get the Conqueror her messages…fast."

"Does that mean there's trouble?"

"No. They move like that no matter what. I saw a squad just like them pull up to the inn a few days ago. They brought personal messages to all of us from Athens and Corinth. They're not to stop for anything, but I think I need to have a talk with Xena about their methods. Someone could get hurt with the way they barrel down the road like that."

"Then, maybe that's the guy to talk with," Cor said as he pointed down the road.

Another member of the messenger squad, this soldier wore an officer's uniform. A big man, he wore a scowl as he approached us. I had that funny feeling run up my spine, the one that often tells me what a fool I'd been. Our day was getting better, a heavily armed man on a lonely stretch of road - just the thing that one small woman and young boy wanted to run into. Who knows why I decide to take certain risks or what sort of intuition assists me in which course to take. I believe that either I have been lucky so far or that Athena protects me more than she watches other individuals. I decided to take a chance on this single soldier.

"Excuse me!" I jumped up and called out as the man trotted close.

"Out of the way, Miss," he said and swerved his horse to barely avoid running me down. He never looked back, but I should have expected as much. What I didn't expect was Cor's indignant response. Gods! The boy had more scruples and ideals in him than even me.

"Hey! Don't you know who this is? Who in Hades do you think you are?"

"Cor!" I hissed under my breath just as the officer pulled his mount to a stop, turning and coming back toward us.

I wanted to express my thoughts to Cor before the soldier pulled up in front of us. More than anyone, I understood that just because a man dressed as a soldier, it didn't mean he was a soldier. And, if he was, the Empire's insignia didn't automatically make him a decent and honorable man.

The man closed in too quickly and I realized it would look suspicious if he saw Cor and I whispering at this point. All I could do was continue to stare hard at Cor. I tried to express as much as I could with my facial features.

"What?" Cor unsuspectingly asked with a shrug.

I shrugged back at him and looked down at my own body, as if to ask who he saw standing before him. Dressed in my riding clothes, with my ever-present chobos hanging from my belt, I was sure I didn't look much like a queen, but I was, and there was no telling what an unscrupulous person might do with that information. I desperately sent that silent message to Cor and, after what seemed like a much longer amount of time than it had actually been, finally saw enlightenment emerge from behind his blue eyes.

"What did you say, boy?" the soldier asked.

"I think what he meant to say--" I began.

"I said don't you know who she is?" Cor interrupted.

I cringed inwardly. I actually thought he had received my silent instruction to remain anonymous.

"I heard the Empire's soldiers were kinder to stranded women," Cor said.

Cor glanced back at me and in his brief glance, I was able to see that he understood the reason for my guarded behavior. I breathed an inaudible sigh of relief.

"You heard that, did you?" The soldier sat atop his horse, the beast easily as large as Xena's stallion. The massive, dark brown animal shook his head and chewed at the bit in his mouth.

"Uh," Cor swallowed. "Yes?"

The rider smiled for the first time and I must admit, it made him look slightly less frightening. He dismounted, but still towered over the both of us.

"Well, you're right, young man. I apologize, Miss."

He looked back at Cor again, then his glance returned to me. He paused and squinted. "Do I know you?"

"I don't believe I've ever met you, Sir," I answered truthfully.

"Again, my apologies for staring, but you seem so familiar. Did you travel here from Corinth?"

"As a matter of fact, yes. We have family in Amphipolis."

"It's odd," he said as he continued to stare. "Is your husband in the military?"

Now, I am a horrible liar, dreadful at it, as Xena has pointed out on many occasions. I have gotten by a number of times by trying to become someone else. The safest route for me had to simply been to tell the truth, which is the path I decided to traverse here.

"As a matter of fact, my mate is a part of the Empire's force."

"Ahh, that explains it. I must have seen you in passing. Again, I apologize. I was trying hard to catch up with my unit and I forgot my manners. I had to stay behind in the last village to get my horse shod.

"Apology accepted, Lieutenant. That's very similar to the problem we're having. My mare injured herself and we're still quite some ways from Amphipolis."

"That happens to be where I'm headed. My horse isn't much used to riding two. He's a warhorse. I could send some riders back for you, though. My squad will stay the evening at the inn in Amphipolis."

"Actually, if you're going to the inn, you could give someone a message for me. Our family is there and I'm sure they'd prefer to come claim us themselves," I quickly added as explanation.

"Aye, of course."

Luckily, he had writing materials in his saddlebag. I wrote a quick note on a small piece of parchment, explaining where we were and why."

I wondered who I should contact. It didn't really matter. No matter who came for us, I would still have to face Xena's wrath upon returning.

"The young woman at the front desk of the inn is called Selene. Can you please make sure she gets this note?" I figured more than anyone else, Selene could be the most discreet and pull Xena to the side with this information.

"Consider it done. Should I give her a name?" he asked.

"No, she'll know once she reads the letter."

"Very well, then," he said as he tucked the letter inside his jacket. He mounted his horse again, turning back to us once last time. "Do you have enough food and water?"

"Yes, we'll be fine. It's just a good long walk," I replied.

He saluted and galloped off.

"Gabrielle, why didn't you want to tell him who you were?" Cor asked.

"Just being more careful than I was when I snuck off without my guards. I forget that I'm the Queen sometimes, Cor. Xena once told me that people might hurt me just because of who I am or what they think they could then force Xena into doing."

"Ohh, I get it. That makes sense. Gabrielle, I'm sorry. I never should have gone along with this whole idea. I didn't think it would turn out this way."

"It's not a problem. I'm the one who should have been acting like a responsible adult. Instead, I was caught up in being a kid again. I don't think we'll have any trouble, but it pays to be cautious with strangers."

"I guess the good news is that once Selene reads your note, Xena will be out here in a heartbeat."

"I think that's what worries me more than anything." I chuckled as we began walking once more.

It seemed as though an eternity went by, as we slowly walked for a while then had to rest because of my shortness of breath. Apollo's chariot began its slow descent into the horizon and I grew concerned. Not worried exactly, but I wondered why the entire cavalry hadn't thundered up yet.

"It's late afternoon, Gabrielle. Shouldn't Selene have sent out someone to look for us by now?" Cor's thought obviously mirrored my own.

"I was kind of wondering that myself. Why don't we pick a spot back off the road and set up as though we're staying the night. We can start a fire and relax. I'm sure they'll be along shortly and if they don't get here by nightfall, the fire will help them track us down."

"Makes sense. Besides, this saddle makes me feel like Atlas."

We made a small camp and had some of the leftover food in our basket, minus all the sweets that we had entirely finished earlier in the day. Carrying a knife and a piece of flint with him all the time, Cor was easily able to light a small fire. The night was warm and we decided to get comfortable, lying down on opposite sides of the fire.

"Good thing Cyrene makes you so much food," I said. I tried to get Cor to eat a little more, but I'm sure his nerves kept him from eating.

"I never met a girl who could eat as much as you, Gabrielle."

"It's a habit I'm going to have to break myself of as I get older. Otherwise, I'm going to be as big as a haystack. I think it's just an old holdback from when I was a slave. There were times when I wasn't allowed to eat for days and other times when I never knew when my master would grow angry and that might be my last meal. I learned to make them count when I got them." I said all of this matter of factly, as though I had experienced that time in another life. And so it nearly felt. Almost.

"They starved you?" He asked. He seemed completely amazed that such a thing could happen.

I knew that Cor understood I had been a slave, but I wondered if he knew exactly what kind of slave I had been. I had no wish to destroy any illusions he had of either me or life in general, but neither did I wish him to hear it from his friends. I could imagine how a group of young boys would describe my servitude.

Suddenly, I was happy for the cover of darkness, glad that we could only see one another through the yellow and orange flames that sputtered and leapt from the blackened logs.

"Cor, do you…do understand what kind of a slave I was before I met Xena?"

"Kind?" I watched as he lowered his eyes and dug in the soft earth with a stick. "Well, you know, a guy hears things."

I didn't think I could have this conversation at a distance. I rose and moved to the other side of the fire, sitting down on the log beside Cor. I sat close enough so that our shoulders touched, even as he continued to stare at the ground.

"Then, you know what sort of tasks I--well, what kind of slave I was forced to be."

"Yea, but you didn't have a choice, right?"

I could hear Hecuba's words ringing in my ears, mocking me. "To hear my mother tell it I should have died rather than let them touch me."

"Well that's just stupid," he replied quickly. "I mean, you did what you had to do. Right?"

His simple observation brought me closer still to believing that was the truth. "Thank you, Cor. You don't know how much those words mean to me. It was a hard life, but I always knew that Athena would deliver me one day."

"I wish I could get my hands on some of those guys," he said. "I'd make them sorry. I'd--"

"Get yourself killed, most likely."

Cor jumped up and his red-faced indignation took me by surprise. "How can you be so calm when you talk about it. Aren't you mad? Don't you just wish you could…could…I don't know. Do something terrible to them? Hurt them like they hurt you?"

"Cor, relax. I'm afraid the top of your head's going to blow off."

"Aw, Gabrielle, I'm serious."

"I know you are. Come back here and sit down."

He sank onto the ground as though his burst of righteous energy scattered away into the air.

How was I to explain it all? So many philosophies and ideologies made up my belief system. In truth, I remembered experiencing times when I felt exactly as Cor did, but those periods didn't last long. I don't know why I could not muster up the hate I surely should have had for those who abused me. Why was that? I could only consider it a gift from Athena. Too often had I seen other slaves, young women in positions such as myself, grow ugly and bitter at the fortunes the Gods had fated them.

"I don't mean to be flippant or to dismiss your feelings, Cor. I hope you know that."

He nodded and I placed my arm around his shoulder.

"I want to tell you something, something that I've never even told Xena."

"No one?"

"Not a soul. It was something that happened a few seasons ago. A man who bought me in Chin owned me. He was a very unkind man and he treated me worse than I think any master I had ever had. He lost me in a game of chance to a pirate. Oddly enough, he met his death at the end of Xena's blade, although she and I didn't know one another at the time."

"That's kind of eerie," he said. He listened intently and I was glad that his ire had calmed enough for him to listen thoughtfully. "So how did the pirate guy treat you?"

"Better in some ways, worse in others. I was a slave, Cor, and slaves were only possessions. Abdular, the pirate, only thought of me as something else that he owned, such as a horse or an expensive vase. He had some funny notions about what justice meant, though."

"How do you mean?"

"Well, I once told Abdular some of the things my previous master had done to me. Amazingly enough, Abdular tracked the man down and brought him before me on board his ship. Abdular gave me a blade. It was the first time I'd ever held one. He told me to exact my vengeance upon the man, to slit his throat."

"And, did you?" Cor asked.

"I admit that I wanted to. I thought of the things he'd done, how he treated me, and I was certainly angry enough. The more I thought about it, though, standing there with that razor sharp blade poised at his neck, I realized that I couldn't. And, not just couldn't, but wouldn't. I made a conscious decision not to kill him."

"But, why, Gabrielle? After all those terrible things he did to you, how could you have let him live?"

"Because I realized two important things about revenge. First, it can't change the past. I would have still been a slave. I would have still gone to bed at night hungry, still had my body used and abused by my master. None of that would have changed."

"And the second thing?"

"The most important. If I would have killed that man, I would have been no better than him, or Abdular, or any of them. They lived within a circle of violence and hate. I suppose I thought that by breaking the cycle I wouldn't become like them. Abdular never understood that."

"I'm sorry, Gabrielle. Sorry you had to go through that kind of thing," Cor said.

"Thanks, Cor. It always means a great deal to me when people can open up their hearts and minds and be a little bit objective. I've been condemned by a lot of people for what I did to stay alive."

"Those kinds of people are all over. Mother says that they're little people with little minds. Don't you worry, Gabrielle. If anyone ever gives you grief around here, you just holler for me."

I smiled at the bold words that came from such a young boy. "It's a deal," I replied. "And if you ever find yourself in a fix, remember I have your back, little brother."

I gave him a hug and then yawned loudly. "Looks like we're here for the night," I said, peering out into the surrounding darkness.

"You get some sleep, Gabrielle. I'll keep watch in case Xena comes."

"It won't do us any good if you're too tired to walk in the morning. Wake me in a couple of candlemarks and I'll take the next watch. We can trade off."

I showed him where the stars should be positioned when it was time to wake me. Cor nodded and took out his knife, beginning to whittle away at a short stick. I was thoroughly tired, but Cor looked as though the day was just beginning. Oh, to be that young again.

I curled up on my side, not minding the sweet smelling grass that we had to lie upon instead of bedrolls. I hadn't shared all of my thoughts with Cor. Not wanting him to worry, I never mentioned my confusion at why Xena hadn't shown up yet. Could she possibly be so angry that she wanted to teach me a lesson? That didn't sound like her at all, but then again, I could have pushed her to the very edge with this latest stunt. No, that simply didn't seem like Xena, no matter how angry.

I rolled onto my back and stared at the stars until my eyes burned just to keep them open. Could Selene be to blame? The young woman seemed a little peeved, or at least exasperated, with me. It seemed that Selene wished to travel to the Amazon Territory with us. Xena and her younger sister had been getting along rather well recently, so I think I was the one Selene blamed for our answer. I admit, it had initially been my thought, but Xena agreed that we would gladly be Selene's guardians, but first she would have to talk with Cyrene, explaining to her mother how she felt about the chasm that had developed between the two of them. Could Selene have held that against me enough to purposely misplace my note? It certainly didn't sound like something she would do, but she was a young woman with a volatile temper and some rather immature notions.

I must have slept sometime after that because the visions of Xena and Selene, each turning their backs on me, filled my uneasy dreams.

End Gabrielle's Addendum

To be continued in : Chapter 26: Look In Thy Glass, And Tell The Face Thou Viewest…

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