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

"My name is Inigo Montoya and you killed my fatherÖprepare to die." Xena sensuously drawled the words, best warlord expression on her face.

Rickie laughed. "C'mon, you can't tell me that's your favorite line in the movie."

Xena considered then replied. "I also like the sword fight between Wesley and Inigo, and the climb up the cliff is pretty cool."

"Inconceivable." Rickie deadpanned.

Raising an eyebrow the Immortal paused, eyes dancing with humour. "And your favorite part would be?" As if she couldn't guess, or didn't already know. The Princess Bride had become a regular ritual in their house and this was not the first time they had had this discussion. Their houseÖour home. Xena couldn't count the number of times they had sprawled across each other on a rainy Portland afternoon and laughed their way through the movie, sometimes turning the volume down and repeating the dialog from memory.

"Hmm, how about I show you?" Rickie slid further onto the warrior.

"As you wish." Their lips met in a hungry kiss, which in both their opinions was easily the top ranked kiss of all the kisses in history.

Rickie's hand eased under her T-shirt and she lifted her arms slightly to give the teenager more room to maneuver. The light touches across her chest grew more insistent, sending shivers of pleasure rippling through her muscular frame. Pulling the shirt over her head she flung it absently over a shoulder and gave herself up fully to Rickie's demonstration.

"That wasn't in the movie." Xena's breathing was slowly returning to normal as her fingertips traced designs on her lover's smooth back. Secretly this was her favorite part of the movie - the time spent together.

"Hmmm." Came the sleepy reply. "Does a Warrior Princess beat a Dread Pirate?" Rickie was asleep before she finished mumbling the question.

Wrapping Rickie in her arms she eased them over until they were lying lengthwise on the leather couch. A quick glance at the clock above the kitchen confirmed they had a couple of hours to spare before they needed to get ready and leave. The teenager shifted and Xena allowed her to fully drape herself across the Immortal. Rickie was already sound asleep and Xena, lulled by the even breathing of her partner and the rhythmic sounds of rain splashing against windows, followed suit.

The insistent ringing of the telephone woke her and sliding gingerly out from under the still slumbering Rickie, she grabbed the phone. "Yah."

"My aren't we feeling festive. Happy New Year, Xe."

"You too, give my best to Marjorie and the boys."

"Will do. The boys loved the stuff you sent over, Ice won't stop with the 360's." Emil chuckled.

"Blame Rickie, not me, she's the one who got loose in Toys R Us with a Visa." Not that she was complaining, some of the toys her lover had purchased proved to have some very interesting uses.

"The Laser Challenge set?"


"Playstation Racing Wheel?"


"MediEvil?" Hearing her pause and slight chuckle, he answered his own question. "Rickie."


"I give."

Laughing she confessed her choices. "Cool Boarders 3 and the three sets of K'nex."

"You know Xe, some people might say 5000 pieces of K'nex is overkill." He teased the warrior, knowing full well that she loved indulging his sons.

"You ever tried to build anything with just one set?"

He conceded the point, then changed the subject. "You be careful up there okay?"

Xena knew he was taking a chance, not following them, especially after the last time. "Hey, how much trouble could we get into on a little island in Canada?"

Dead silence. "You don't really want me to answer that do you?"

"Hummph." Letting him know what she thought about that. Trouble had spent more time knocking on their door, than not lately and the Immortal had been glad for the calm of the last few weeks. Danger made it easy to bond with people, but it was the quiet times like this afternoon that strengthened those bonds and forged lasting ties and she was looking forward to spending some quiet time in the cabin on Saltspring Island.

"I have to go - seems Jeremy is testing the power of his k'nex crane by trying to lift the ham - roasting pan and all. Just be careful and have fun, okay?" Mock severity that told Xena he found the antics of his younger son amusing.

Becoming serious she replied. "I will."


"Rickie wake up, we're here." Strong hands gently shook her shoulder. She opened one eye cautiously. It was, she noted, still raining and it seemed as if the whole of the Pacific Northwest was slowly being drowned. Sitting up, she arched forward to ease the tension in her lower back.

"A car, a plane, a ferry and another car. You really know how to show a girl a good time don't yaÖ" she stopped talking, catching sight of the cabin nestled in the trees, bathed in silver. "Whoa."

"You like?"

Rickie threw her arms around the Immortal, kissing her before replying. "Oh yeah. I like and the cabin's nice too." They kissed again, unmindful of the falling rain or the chill breeze whipping in from the ocean.

It wasnít long before they were nestled in front of a crackling fire, swaddled naked under a thick quilt.

Warmth from the fire mingled with the warmth generated by skin on skin and both mingled with the warm sense of safety she felt. Peace.

"Finished the chapter I was working on." She mumbled into the side of Xena's neck, taking a second to nibble the sensitive skin, licking at the pulse point, delighting as it jumped under her touch.

"Read it to me?"

Ordering the pages she shifted slightly to catch more of the firelight and smiled up when a candle suddenly appeared next to her illuminating the wordsÖ



The clanking of steel plates striking against each other was beginning to get on her nerves. Bloody useless for fighting is what that stuff is, what you gain in protection you lose in speed and maneuverability. Xena followed the soldiers into the Roman commander's quarters.

A squat balding man regarded her disdainfully. She returned his stare, a faint sneer of her own curling her lips. I may be a woman, but you are a Roman dog. She crossed her arms over her chest and rocked slightly back on one heel, balancing her weight easily on her back foot.

"Something I can do for you?"


"But I just got here." Pinning the unctuous bureaucrat to his chair with the cold weight of her gaze, she left no doubt that she would leave Aquae Sulis, when she was damned good and ready and not before.

Whether from terminal stupidity or an overdose of bravado, Xena wasn't sure, but the Roman swung at her. (Insert spectacular Xena kicking Roman butt fight)

Leaving his squalid little office behind she hastened through the muddy streets, holding her breath slightly against the stench of unwashed people and poor sanitation. That Rome was losing her grip on her empire showed only too plainly here in outpost towns.

Soldiers brawled drunkenly during duty shifts and barracks were left to fall in to ruin as most soldiers married into local families, leaving the once proud Roman legion a mere mockery of the name.

Already most of the legions in Britannia had been recalled to Rome in the service of yet another doomed Emperor. Soon they would all be gone, leaving the Island prey to the scavengers already gathered at her borders.

The Immortal figured they had perhaps a decade before the last of the once heavy Roman presence was gone completely and before that happenedÖ before that happened they needed to ensure someone was in place to follow Uther, someone who was strong enough to unite the kingdoms. If not then I'll be learning to speak yet another languageÖand that meant succeeding in her little mission.

"How many Rafe?" A young boy fell into step with her, vainly trying to match his stride to hers.

"Four likely not to last the week, andÖ" He scowled. "One we should take anyhow."

She stopped, kneeling in the dirt to look level into his eyes. Seeing his remembered pain and the hurt set to his jaw, she nodded. "Your responsibilityÖdon't get caught." Giving his shoulder a quick squeeze she regained he feet. "Did you mark the houses on a map?"

He shook his head affirmatively, and handed her the linen square, taking some pocket change in return.

"G'wan, get yourself something to eat and be ready to leave at moonrise." Xena watched the young boy dart across the market. Your father is very lucky you were still conscious, my boy, very lucky.

Studying the map and the notes scrawled next to the respective marks, she eliminated two candidates immediately. Memorizing the locations of the other two she folded the linen and tucked it into a bracer.

Full dark came early in this climate at this time of the year and gathering her cloak about her to ward off the chill she moved into the shadows, heading for the first home.

A Roman. Married local. One other childÖa boy. Studying the sleeping form, she noted he was clean, appeared healthy and the small hand-carved toys and soldiers scattered about his room revealed that he did not lack for affection.

Moving to stand by the door, she peered through the crack, taking in the fire lit room. Clean. Well kept. Books on a low shelf. Good. Having made her decision, Xena exited as silently as she had entered, receding into the shadows as she made her way across town to the stables.

Merlynn looked up as she entered the torch lit barn. Not speaking she simply nodded before gathering the child in her arms and slipping back into the shadows. Xena paused before reentering the Roman's house.

Listening she counted the sounds of breathing, long honed senses easily distinguishing the noises made by the occupants of the house from the other sounds around them. OneÖthe little boy, still caught in Morpheus' arms, twoÖthe soldier, raspy wheezing from a once too many times broken noseÖthreeÖthe restless slumber of a woman succumbing to exhaustionÖthere was no fourthÖthe quiet rattling breaths from earlier had stilled, the fourth voice was silentÖgone.

Quickly easing into the darkened house, she oriented herself and noiselessly crossed the room. A young woman lay slumped in a chair, one hand clutching the side of a finely wrought cradle. Medicines and herb packets were strewn across the table top and the smell of sickness pervaded the air.

Lung sickness. Babe was probably early. She undressed the dead child reverently before wrapping the tiny body in the clean linen shroud Nimue had blessed. Swiftly she placed the clothing on the foundling and placed him in the cradle, taking care not to rock it and wake the young mother. Will you be able to tell? Or will you be so grateful that the God's have seemingly answered your prayers that you won't ask uncomfortable questions?

With a last long look back at the still peacefully slumbering baby, Xena departed. One innocent foundÖone lostÖand so the balance remains. Would her sheet ever balance? How many lifetimes would it take to atone for one lifetime of darkness. No, not a lifetime of darknessÖyou changed that GabrielleÖif this one comes your way - look out for him.

"It is done." Passing the tiny body to the Druid.

"What now?"

"Now, my friend, we wait."

"You did what?" Nimue faced the Immortal, anger and incredulity evident in her tone.

"I gave him to a Roman soldier and his wife." She calmly repeated, waiting for her friend to calm a little.

"In the Mother's name why?"

Helping herself to a sweet roll, Xena propped a booted foot onto the table. "Simple. Think about what we need. The child must be literate - Romans will soon be the only ones able or interested enough to continue to school their children. He must learn a soldier's skills and above all he must be kept safe."

"And the Roman can do this?" The Lady of Avalon still sounded skeptical.

Xena nodded. "He holds a liaison post with Uther's court, his child was already presented and accepted at the court, and is married to a Briton. He'll receive a Knight's trainingÖall we'll need to do isÖaugment his lessons a little."

Nimue stared at Xena in fascination. The Immortal left nothing unaccounted for, she could see that. It would be a simple matter in a few years for one of their own to begin schooling the child. And, as Xena had already pointed out - where better than in plain sight? This woman could, Nimue was sure, have ruled the world if she so chose.

Swirling the last of the wine in her glass, she met Xena's eyes and smiled. "Now comes the fun part." 

Xena could hear the laughter in Nimue's voice, echoing through her memory, the Lady of Avalon had loved intrigueÖand had ultimately paid the price for it.

"Xena?" Rickie sounded concerned. "You okay?"

"I'm fine. Just thinking about Nimue." She poked at the fire causing a shower of sparks to rise into the chimney.

Rickie waited for her lover to continue, letting Xena reveal her secrets in her own time.

"She loved intrigue and had the patience to let things develop around herÖbut she was blind to human nature and it cost her." Almost as much as her friendship with me did.

Blood. Sticky and darkÖblood covered the Hall floor. Turning the crumpled form over, bile rose in her throat. Her head, they'd taken her head. Cradling the lifeless form in her arms she carried Nimue from the darkened Hall and into the night.

A silent vow, and the end of a dream. They'd failedÖ.He had failed and nowÖnow they'd pay the priceÖHe'd pay. By all the GodsÖHe'd pay.

"Were you lovers?" It was out before Rickie even realized what she was thinking. "I'm sorry Xe. You don't need to answer that." Rickie examined her feelings, wondering what prompted the question. Was it jealousy? NoÖcuriousity. She brightened and smiled at the stunned Immortal. "Really, I don't need to know."


"No what?"

"We weren't lovers." Seeking to reassure the younger woman she pulled Rickie onto her lap and kissed her slowly and deeply. "Only twice in my life has my heart been touched." She placed Rickie's hand over her heart. "It has always been you."

"For a blood thirsty ex-warlord, you can be awfully romantic sometimes." Rickie nibbled at Xena's lips, seeking entry into her mouth with gentle forays of her tongue.

"Thanks. I think." And allowed Rickie the desired entry.

"Welcome." The teenager switched her focus to the skin at the base of her lover's neck.

Xena recovered the papers Rickie had been reading from and deftly sorted through the sheets until she found the one she wanted. "Rickie?"

"Mmmm." Not stopping what she was doing.

"What's up with this?" Reading the section. "Insert spectacular Xena kicking Roman butt fight scene."

Rickie's tongue froze in mid lick and she looked up in embarrassment. "I ahÖummÖhave a little trouble with action scenes." She finished sheepishly.

Xena laughed, a deep full bodied rumbling that dislodged Rickie from her perch atop the warrior. Inserting mock severity into her tone, Rickie glared up from the floor. "Yuck it up Warrior Princess, yuck it up."

Wiping an escaped tear from her cheek, Xena gathered Rickie to her again. "Gabrielle couldn't write them either."

Rickie chuckled appreciating the humour. "I'd better figure out how before the end though. Some how I don't think - insert bloody battle - will cut it for an ending."

She'd meant to be funny, but seeing the pensive look steal back into Xena's eyes, she wanted to smack herself in the forehead. Way to go Rickster. "Enough talk. I believe you had a plan for ringing in the New Year?" As insurance she nibbled at the delicate skin of Xena's breasts and was rewarded with a jump in the heart rate under her hand.

"Well I am a woman ofÖaction." A sensuous purr.

Rickie felt strong hands tangle in her hair, pulling their lips together in a searing kiss that removed everything but the taste of Xena's mouth and skin from her mind.

As the last melodic chimes of the brass clock faded, Rickie snuggled deeper into the covers, content to remain entangled with Xena. When her breathing had calmed enough to allow speech, she whispered huskily. "What a way to ring in a New Year."

Xena studied the happy glow on Rickie's face that was reflected back to her in the fading fire light. Gathering the memory in close and absorbing all the details so she could savour them later. "Happy New Year, Dreamer."

The emotion in her lover's words was so tangible, Rickie felt wrapped in love as she mumbled her own reply and drifted into sleep.

Rain splashed against the thatched roof and dripped lazily past the open window. Rubbing her eyes she looked up from her scroll as Xena entered the cabin, water running from her hair and armour. "Hey."

"Hey yourself."

"Everything go okay?"

The warrior nodded, shaking her hair, sending droplets of water flying around the room.

She stood and grabbed a towel, rubbing Xena's face lightly before vigorously toweling the rest of her, slowly stripping the drenched leather from her muscular frame as she went.

Drawing her partner with her, she guided them to the hearth and pushed the larger woman onto the pile of fur, discarding her own tunic and settling her smaller body over Xena's.

Wrapped together they lay quietly talking, sharing their respective days. She loved this time of the day. Warmth from the fire mingled with the warmth generated by skin on skin and both mingled with the warm sense of safety she felt. Peace.

"Finished the scroll I was working on." She mumbled into the side of Xena's neck, taking a second to nibble the sensitive skin, licking at the pulse point, delighting as it jumped under her touch.

"Read it to me?"

Unrolling the parchment she shifted slightly to catch more of the firelight and smiled up when a candle suddenly appeared next to her illuminating the wordsÖ

Rickie woke to the smell of fresh coffee and frying bacon. The images of her dream lingered and brought a smile to her lips. She had dreamed so much of danger and sadnessÖand then there were the nightmaresÖthat it was nice to dream of happy things.

And that dreamÖit had felt good and solidÖreal. She laughed softly to herself. It had been real, and last night proved that even after three thousand years, it still was.

Slipping on one of Xena's shirts, she padded over to the kitchen. It was gonna be a great year.

15 November 1998

Part III