Heroine - Part 3 of 5
CN Winters and Amy
Xena Fanfiction, Xena fanfic, Xena fan fiction, Xena and
Gabrielle fanfiction, Xena fiction
No, this isn't about
someone overcoming a drug habit. <G> Although I wish I
could say Xena and Gabby are ours, they are not. They belong
to MCA/Universal last we heard. This story however is ours and
ours alone. There's a lot of violence but not too graphic. Alt
sex, you bet! If you are too young, read no further. If you
live some place where this may not be kosher, read no further.
However, if you are open-minded, old enough and live in a
progressive neighborhood . . .enjoy! Nothing poetic is our’s,
belongs to unknown author.
Note: Thanks to
Kamouraskan, Jlynn, Mary and the Bardic Circle for the beta.
creates a conqueror world where Gabrielle is the ruthless
dictator, Najara is her consort and Ephiny as her second in
command. It's up to Xena to find a way to break the spell and
get her Gabby 'home'.
Email the author's at
CNWinters71@yahoo.com or MurphyCG881@aol.com
Heroine - Part 3 of 5
The idea of being
around Romans made my skin crawl as we got closer to the
Pompey and Brutus,
I knew those voices all too well.
boys," the Conqueror greeted the surprised men. A ring of
ten of them stood up as Gabrielle and I dismounted. I had my
sword hand ready at my side, as did Gabrielle. Both men turned
and gave a Roman salute to her.
arms, fellas. No need to hail Caesar in these woods. Besides,
I’m not Roman... and I never will be."
Pompey acted as if
he was going to say something, but he stopped himself. Finally, he
did manage the courage to speak.
"Conqueror, what brings
you out on a night like this? We were camping for the night,
planning to pay you a visit at first light." Pompey said
with that smug grin I despised.
heartily making all the Romans jump at the sound.
were going to pay me a visit, where you? How sweet." The
smiling expression fell in an instant. "State your
business, Pompous." He lost his smile and I bit my lip.
"Romans do not belong on this soil, especially uninvited
ones," she growled and I could see her jaw clinch.
Pompey put a hand
under his chest armor and reflexively I put my hand on my
chakram prepared for anything. Even after he pulled out a
scroll with a Roman seal on it, my hand continued to stay in
over to grab it. "Let me guess?" She put the scroll
to her head. "Caesar either wants to meet with me or
no.... He has drawn out a treaty showing Rome’s good
That time I let a
small snicker out.
is, Pompous, I'm not interested. Unless this guarantees his
head mounted on my main gate." She threw the scroll at
I swear you could
see the veins sticking out of his neck. He was ready to
implode in his anger. I had to smile.
the horse so we could leave and I followed suit.
old 'divide and conquer' a message from me." She looked
at Brutus. "He steps one sandal on Greece soil and I will
send my legions to mop the area with Rome’s blood." Her
voice was so deep and deadly, it made us all swallow the lumps
in our throats. Inside she was still the poetic bard, but with
a much different agenda.
She kneed the horse into a gallop. "Hope you're ready for
a great battle, Xena," she yelled over her shoulder. I
held onto her tighter.
We both stayed
quiet for the rest of the ride back to the palace, heavy in
My mind kept going
back to when I first had a run in with Caesar. I was so naive
and he used that against me. Gabrielle had handled that much
better then the old Xena would have. I would've read that
scroll, and probably fallen into whatever trap he had made
like I did when I was young.
I found myself
rubbing one of my legs in remembrance.
"Ahh... no, no.
Just thinking." Her eyes moved forward once more.
Was she actually
asking my opinion? Was she actually beginning a conversation?
going to trust Caesar, are you?" Gabrielle began to laugh
so hard I had to steady her on the horse. I too began to
chuckle. "I’ll take that as a no."
Gabrielle gave a
sigh. "Oh, Xena. I must admit you do amuse me at times,
whether intentional or not."
From what happened
earlier in the woods. That was obvious. But I didn’t speak
the words out loud.
record, no. I don’t trust Caesar. There’s only one reason
those men are that close. They’re casing us... But what
I’d like to know is HOW did they get so close?"
Gabrielle pauses a moment. "I can assure you - heads will
roll and not just Roman heads."
"I hope your
Regent isn’t one of them."
"Why do you
her." Gabrielle turned back to look at me and I could
have sworn I saw a touch of jealousy in her eyes. I felt the
need to explain further. "I mean I admire her as a
warrior and a person. After you left from our sparing session,
we spoke briefly. She seems like a good person."
Gabrielle was quiet
for a long moment. "She’s the only one I truly
trust." It came out just above a whisper and I had to
admit I was relieved to learn the ax wouldn’t fall on her.
But I was also speechless by the fact that Gabrielle had
confessed something to me. If she trusted Ephiny and I
could win Ephiny’s trust then...
All too quickly we
were approaching the southern gate to find Ephiny waiting for
there are reports of Romans close by."
We trotted up and
"I know. We had a run in with two of Caesar
lackeys and a few of their cronies. They were even nice enough
to send me a scroll I didn’t bother to read." Gabrielle
chuckled and tapped me lightly in the stomach. "You know
us poor women, we’re so easy to fool with empty
promises." Gabrielle and her Regent laughed, as I
mustered a smile.
The stable man took
our horse and we all made our way into the palace. I could see
Gabrielle's mind working. "Ready my legions for battle
and send word to Queen Melosa. With Romans walking about, you
know they will try to round up slaves. I want our sisters
already been sent. Solari personally saw to it."
and a look of true compassion crossed her face as she turned
to Ephiny. "I’m sorry your visit was cut short."
"It needed to
be done." Ephiny nodded. "No sorrows."
this is over I’ll have Melosa release her for a months'
holiday, if that’s alright with you."
Ephiny looked about
as shocked as I did. Gabrielle reached out and tipped up
Ephiny’s chin. "Be careful, Regent, or you might start
Ephiny gave me a
look of disbelief and I just shrugged. Gabrielle began to walk
again and quickly Ephiny and I race to catch up.
team out to Amazonia. Be sure the Amazons inform the Centaurs
in case we need them as back up. Also, be certain that a
message is sent to Chin to alert them. I want Lao Ma to bring
a portion of her troops here as a precaution to the east.
The mention of Lao
Ma sent a shiver up my spine. If she comes, she might blow my
cover. But then again perhaps I never existed in her eyes
either. But I know she has the 'sight' – an ability to see
things others can't. Would I be one of those people she reads?
And if so would it upset the balance I'm trying so hard to
formerly. "It will be done. Word is, she was arriving
this week personally to see you anyway."
perhaps she’s brought black powder with her." Gabrielle
then turned her attention to me. "Next, we move into phase
two of battle, Caesar has his troops on their way here. I’m
sure of it. So make sure the outposts on all side are alert
and battle ready. I want shifts to be every four candle marks
to keep the men fresh."
I listened to the
plans Gabrielle had given. She seemed to know how Caesar
worked all too well. To my surprise, I felt jealousy brew in
my soul. Borias’ voice rang in my head.
your anger with her, Cyane. But Xena’s not like you and me.
She thinks with her will-- not her reason. You must have
warriors in your camp with the same weakness."
That was the one
great downfall of my youth; I leapt, and then looked. Ares was
right, she did think and never underestimated a task.
Gabrielle was the person I dreamed of being, back in those
cold dark days.
listening, Xena?" I was brought out of my musing and
stared into angry green eyes and a missing Regent.
Gabrielle." Her eyes turned icier, but I didn't care.
Right now all I was feeling was defeat.
troops then get some rest warrior, we have a busy day
tomorrow. And night. " She kissed me, but I just
couldn’t kiss her back. I couldn't be her toy.
For a spilt second
as she pulled away, I saw regret in her eyes. Then her mask
went back into place. She left me without another word.
I stood there and
felt as though I had no air to left breathe. I slammed my fist
into the wall feeling like a trapped animal once more. A flash
appeared from behind me. 'Great, just great, this is all I
Ares." I turned to see his smirking face.
"She's a good
I lost it and
kicked him in the face this time, and the bastard couldn't
stop me. He fell backwards and I landed on him.
facts, Xena You can't win her back. Your ploy to get into her
breeches blew up in your face." I loosened my grip and
found our positions quickly reversed. "Come on, Xena!
Even you can see she's a superior warrior. She’s far better
then you ever were - she thinks things through. She had those
shackles in mind and what to do the second she invited you to
her haunt." He smiled. "What were you thinking? Hmm?
Something about making love?" He got off me, and stood
up. "Can you honestly tell me her dark side didn't turn
you on? Just sparring against her had you all wet. And I must
admit I can relate. When she and I spar - SWEET MOTHER OF
ZEUS! Face it, Xena – you've lost." He laughed as he
disappeared, leaving me in my numb state on the floor.
I finally made it
back to my barrack, unsure of how I had even gotten there. I
was too lost in my thoughts. I collapsed in my bed and wept;
no longer able to hide my emotions. My mind took me back to
times with my Gabrielle.
or is it? Xena? Do you ever? Do you get the feeling that
sometimes-- nothing is really over? You know, it just-- keeps
coming back around, but it's-- it's wearing a different face.
It's-- it's the same underneath. Do you know what I
"Sure. I was
trapped in a cycle of violence and hatred. And no matter how I
tried to break free, something always pulled me back-- until
true. You talk about trying to find your way, but to me, you
are my way."
"How can I be
your way, when I-- I'm lost, myself?"
for answers, too. But how we look for them doesn't matter-- as
long as we look for them together-- you and me."
I just got her back
after watching her fall into that forsaken pit. Then I
remembered the last time Ares tried to win Gabrielle from me.
"You have to
like her style-- the focus-- the intensity-- the ability to
learn and adapt. She is just-- incredible. I can't believe I
took her for granted for so long."
using Mavican to get to me, Ares. It won't work. Why don't you
give up on me?"
"Xena-- I have
given up on you. And what makes you think I was talkin' about
"This is about
Gabrielle. You're not testing Mavican. You're after
jealous? I mean, despite what Mavican thought, I have been
thinking about your heir. And who better-- than one you
"You leave her
out of this."
There's the fire-- there's the anger you lost, Xena."
hasn't heard my offer yet. And, anyway-- how well do you
really know her, anymore? Well, I guess we'll find out-- when
she kills Mavican."
Gods, this time
Ares found the perfect way to get her. I should have known he
would never stop until he had her. I turned on my side
and clutched my head. I saw another flash in my room, but I
was too tired to bother to look.
"Ah, you poor,
warrior babe." Dite sat by me and put a hand on my head.
I still said
nothing. A moment passed and she spoke again.
Ares is only out to throw you off the track. He hasn’t won.
As long as you stay alive, he knows there’s always the chance
you can win Gabrielle’s heart. He knows that." I took a
deep breath and looked at her. Sometimes Aphrodite can be the
smartest God in the lot.
"We both know
what you and the mean bard did tonight wasn’t love. It was
lust - plan and simple. Be honest. Didn’t you want that to
happen? To be taken by the Conqueror? She was only giving you
what she thought you wanted." I closed my eyes.
thinking of her battle lust was arousing to me."
"You need to
show Gabby you want her heart, and not some bondage fuck.
Don't get me wrong. At times a little 'yes mistress' it can be
fun. But how can Gabrielle love, when she's never known it?"
sure if I’m capable of teaching love."
yourself short, warrior. There’s a lot of love in
there," she said, tapping my breastplate. "What
would you give for her? What would you sacrifice? Would you
risk all like she’s done in times past?"
Dite smiled at me.
"She's scared of you. You're making her feel things she
has never felt before. That’s making her more defensive. So
take your time and use your heart. Show her the love that you
have for her… Love's the key, toots. Always is and always
will be." She bubbled up and I couldn’t help it, I
smiled at this. She stood to leave and I grabbed her hand.
you." I felt better now, sorta. Something in my soul told
me there was more to it then just love. Ares is not that
foolish to make it that easy… but then again.
"I know Ares
really bummed you out, but like I said... He’s the same old
loser. He just wants to convince you that you can’t
win." She looked up for a second. "For the record,
Gabby is pacing her room right now, but it’s not the Romans
that have her nerves on edge." She winked
conspiratorially. "Get some rest, tall dark and deadly,
and don't let big bro get you down." She gave me a peck
on the cheek and flashed out. As a result I felt sleep claim
me with thoughts of Gabrielle.
love you, my bard.
I’m not sure how
much time had passed after I woke back up. But the sound of
knocking on the chamber doors pulled me from my bed. I opened
the door to find Ephiny rapping on the guard’s doors, making
each of us rise. My sword was on my back before she came to my
moving out," Ephiny explained. "We’ve got reports
that Caesar has massed more troops in the North and the
Conqueror doesn’t want to take any chances. We attack this
Ephiny turned to
leave and I watched as Callisto smiled and waved at me from
the end of the hallway. If every there was a chance to kill
Gabrielle and get away with it, this was her chance. I gently
pulled Ephiny by the arm. I didn’t know if I’d won her
confidence enough yet but I didn’t have time to question it
look," I began, "but at the hallway’s end —one
of the other royal guards —Callisto, the blonde—I don’t
trust her, Ephiny. Will Gabrielle be going into the battle
is at every major battle, Xena."
I swallowed hard.
"I’m assuming she’s well protected."
she has her royal guard."
"And what if
some in her guard wanted to kill her?"
"As her second
in command, I never leave her side – never – unless
ordered by the queen herself. I would die before someone took
devoted to her?"
The old Ephiny
wouldn’t have to ask the question. But this Ephiny was as
fiercely loyal as the one I knew, even if she had no memory of
"I am without
a doubt, but as I said, I believe others in our company are
NOT to be trusted."
umm?" Casually, Ephiny glanced down the hall to get a
better look. I simply nodded and made an approving sound.
"I’ll keep my eyes open."
I could have gotten
into my thoughts on Najara, but at this time she wasn’t an
obvious threat. Stopping Callisto was my main goal aside from
winning Gabrielle’s love. But I realized too that I
couldn’t win the love of a dead woman. So I had to play
"Thank you, my
Regent," I told her respectfully.
Ephiny only gave me
a nod and went back to her task of assembling the guard. When
we got outside I saw Gabrielle already waiting on her steed in
full battle gear. I must admit she looked magnificent...
commanding. She hopped from the horse as someone was led over
to her. It was a cloaked figure and when they approached each
other I could see Gabrielle’s grin grow wider. Upon seeing
that grin I watched the hood drop. Immediately my jaw
before Gabrielle, giving her a respectful bow before taking
her hand and kissing it in a very gentlemanly fashion. I was
too far away to hear the exchange between them but it looked
as though he’d been in Gabrielle’s ‘circle’ for quite
sometime. I could see by the way she held herself in his
presence. She seemed much more ‘casual’. I wanted to know
this story but I didn’t want to break from the growing
regiment without a reason. I decided perhaps a bit of truth
might do the trick.
I took several long
strides over and I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be as
I made my way to the pair. Gabrielle looked first in my
direction and when her smile didn’t fade at my approach I
felt a bit more comfortable. When she waved me over I felt
much more at ease.
meet Autolycus," she announced. "Autolycus, this is
the newest member of my royal guard."
choice." He nodded. "I’m sure she could take down
her fair share of Romans and then some." He held out his
hand. "Pleased to meet you."
I took the offered
appendage. "Likewise, but I think we’ve met before.
That’s why I came over. You looked like someone I met years
ago in Thrace."
He grinned politely before turning to Gabrielle as he finished
his statement. "I do get around."
certainly does," Gabrielle chuckled. "Autolycus is
one of my most trusted spies, not to mention one of the
"One of the
best?" he replied. "Forgive me for correcting you, your Majesty, but I AM the
Oh yeah. The
more things change the more they stay the same, I
considered with a grin. He had that cocky grin that I realized
I had missed. Instead of turning brutal for the
‘disobedience’, to my surprise Gabrielle chuckled.
thing bigger than Autolycus’ ego is his . . ."
Autolycus gave a
slight ahem in response to Gabrielle for letting her sentence
hang. With a coy grin she finished by adding, "appetite
for nut bread."
too," he conceded, stroking his chin.
I was curious now.
"So how did he come into your service, my Lady?"
"He was a
thief," she said bluntly, her grin still in place.
"I was on a campaign in the east and every other night
items kept coming up missing. A few weapons, a few sets of
body armor. But when he took my nut bread that was the final
too. "But since I’m so witty and engaging, she decided
to keep me around after she FINALLY managed to catch up to
admit." The conqueror smiled. "I did find him
entertaining. The men wanted to gut him but it was a waste of
potential. So I made him a deal."
right. I work for her Majesty. Stay loyal and she would see I
wouldn’t want for anything. She’s kept her side of the
bargain and I’ve kept mine. It’s been what? Five years
upward as if she was totaling the years. "I believe
so." She nodded. "I have to admit that when I
hadn’t heard from you this month I was worried."
Getting caught?" He smiled. "Only one person was
quick and smart enough to catch me."
Gabrielle turned to
me. "Autolycus is very smooth. He’s knows all the right
things to say and when to say them. Speaking of which, what
news do you have for me from Rome?"
"Oh, the same
old, same old. Caesar thinks he’s a God. He’s promising
people things he’ll never deliver. Athens is going to fall.
So on and so forth."
"You got it."
He grinned. "But I did learn something of interest. I’m
not sure what it could spell in the future."
right hand man - Brutus - he’s running for Senate and
gaining quite a bit of support. It seems to have driven a
wedge between the daring duo. I’m not sure if that would be
important but I do know that Brutus oversees many of
Caesars’ troops in the Northern battles and his last orders
were to head west."
have seen troops to the north... Divide and conquer,"
Gabrielle muttered. "This is quite interesting."
"I have a
feeling that this little riff could work to the Greek
advantage. Because if-."
counting on Brutus to stay put and wait for our troops, Brutus
might get itchy to steal Caesars’ thunder and rush
means that there would be no back up of Roman support," I
offer. "The Romans will all mass in one area."
as Autolycus waved his finger. "She is good,"
he chuckled. "Where did you find her?"
"She came to
me actually," Gabrielle replied. I could tell there was
something deeper behind the words as she spoke them, but she
"Well, if you
don’t mind me saying," Autolycus addressed both of us.
"With looks and brains like those she could visit my bed
chamber any time she likes - day or night."
was firm and all joking left her face. For the first time
since the friendly exchange, I saw Autolycus' mood shift. He
wore the look I saw in others when they had contact with
Gabrielle's bad side - fear mixed with respect. He could joke
with her. Laugh with her. But some things were not up for
discussion. Apparently, I was one of those things and everyone
in the circle knew it. He gave a respectful bow without making
a single noise.
you please get the Regent immediately? I have a new idea for
With a respectful
bow, I made my leave to look for Ephiny. I wasn’t sure what
she had planned, but I did know that even Caesar wouldn’t see
I found Ephiny in
the stables making sure all the horses had the right armor and
rations for battle.
Ephiny turned to look at me.
requests your presence." She nodded towards me, then said
something to the blacksmith, briefly before walking back my
sure that the smithy re-shoes that horse before we head off.
Argo has a tendency to be bitchy when her shoes are bothering
her." The Regent walked out and I was left there catching
flies with my open mouth.
I walked over to
the last stall with a growing grin. There she was. 'My’
Argo. I grabbed a nearby brush and began to run it over her
mane. I wasn't sure how much time had passed.
girl," I muttered, "We need to make you look your
best, although you really don't need it, huh?" She whinnied as if even in this world, she knew
me. I buried my face in her mane and thought of home.
"I see you
have good taste in horses as well, Warrior." I jumped
"I thought you
had to talk with Ephiny, My Lord?"
Gabrielle raised an
eyebrow at me as she examined my affection for her mare.
"I said what I
needed to, and now I came to check on my battle horse."
Argo whinnied and gave Gabrielle a little nudge. "How's
my girl?" Argo nudged her again and the Conqueror
chuckled, bringing out an apple she had hidden in her armor.
"Never could hide anything from you." She chuckled
once more and turned her attention to me.
smart. How long have you had her?"
"Around ten moons now, I only use her now for battle.
She’s well trained and I trust her with my life. Rest of the
time she’s free to roam. She's such a free spirit. But she
always comes home in the end." We both gave her a pat.
After a brief
silence she asked, "You ready to deal with Rome,
Xena?" My mouth went dry
and I'm pretty sure I had a nice sneer on my face. "I see you
have the same love for Caesar as I do."
"I know he's
an egotistically lying, crafty bastard."
She laughed loud at
this and I worried.
"Gabrielle, you must be really
careful with him."
She eyed me.
"One thing that I've learned over the years, Xena, is
never take anything for granted or underestimate anyone."
She sighed. "Caesar thinks my greatest flaws are my
emotions. I feel things - be it anger or joy. To him, he
thinks he can use this. But feelings aren’t the worst thing
a warrior can experience."
Because if you don’t care then you have nothing to fight
"So how will
you handle this battle?"
that one great battle that will make him a part of history.
But we’re not the ones who will give it to him. Brutus
I was obviously
confused and it showed on my face. Gabrielle gave a slight
chuckle before continuing.
have to get his entire army here. The key to destroying Caesar
is his belief in his destiny. That and Brutus’ impetuous
nature, trying to upstage Caesar. Brutus also believes he has
a destiny. So when fates collide it can be a dreadful
thing…for Rome that is."
She has an
interesting take on Caesar. One I had never truly considered.
I remained quiet as she went on.
Caesar, and right now he's probably thinking I'm drawing him
into a trap where he can flank our troops. Brutus will be the
good field general and await his order. But that won’t
I looked at her at
a loss. Would he fall for that?
You see in past battle my troops have impersonated his. You
keep your friends close, Xena, but your enemies closer. I have
a fair hand in Rome although Caesar doesn’t know it. When he
sees troops in the valley in Roman attire . . ."
the mistake of thinking they are his troops."
He’ll charge in thinking Brutus is trying to upstage him
again. When Brutus sees him going in full force he’ll think
he’s being shut out of the glorious victory. That wouldn’t
help poor Brutus’ standing in the Roman Senate."
rush in too." I grinned.
point we turn the tables. I get my men pulled back and I let
the mortars do their job. Less of my men will die because we
won’t have to do as much hand to hand combat in this battle.
And even though Caesar sees MY emotion as my downfall... in
truth it will be his arrogance and Brutus’ thirst for power
that will do them in."
I considered a plan
forming in my own mind. "What we have to do is make sure
both Roman armies are led into the middle while making sure
ours are on the outer parts to attack all."
"That'll be a
hard task, but not impossible." Gabrielle agreed, but my
nerves were still on overload.
Ephiny stood at the door.
We both walked to
greet her, when a man carrying way too much for one person,
nearly knocked us over. I was ready to take his head off when
Gabrielle stopped me.
The man froze, dropping his load of saddle packs and turned,
falling to his knees.
She motioned for
him to stand. "You ready for battle?"
He stuck his chest
out proudly. "Aye, Conqueror. And a grand battle it will
be." I looked him over and he seemed to be a bit more
rugged looking than I was used to.
"Back to work
with you then." She clasped his arm in parting.
"He's a tad
slow wit wise, but he’s dependable in battle."
continued walking over to Ephiny and all I could help thinking
was, Joxer?? How is that possible?
Ephiny said, "Scouts say
that Caesar’s Army is still heading full force from the West
and Brutus’ forces are candle-marks ahead of his coming from
Caesar will be in the middle first to deal with a clueless
Brutus. Are our Sisters ready? What of the Centaurs?"
Gabrielle was clearly in strategic mode
word that the sisters are behind Caesar's forces and Tyldus is
keeping an eye on Brutus', waiting for your signal. Catapults
are in place with the Centaurs. The Amazons will stop them
from retreating. They are in the forest, located in the
troops will perhaps be here in time. But she’s a good 5
candle-marks behind with the majority of her soldiers with
then." She acknowledged the Regent and I. "Shall we
go teach Caesar a lesson he won’t live long enough to
enjoy?" She smiled at us both. Ephiny and Gabrielle
walked outside and I stood in the doorway.
Xena?" Gabrielle asked.
"I'll be right
there, I want to make sure Argo's shod properly."
gave me a smirk and walked off with the Regent. I knew in my
soul that Gabrielle’s knowledge of battle should have made
me sick to my stomach, but I found myself in awe. I watched as
she yelled orders to some of the solders.
Conqueror?" A small voice called out to her. Gabrielle
found the voice quickly with a smile. An adoring smile that
only a mother would have for her child. Hope ran to her with a
small package, Gabrielle scooped her up and kissed her while
"Put your mask
back on, Gabrielle." I muttered to what I thought was to
myself. This was one of many reasons I’d sent Solon away.
What if I slipped like Gabrielle just did? Right then the
hairs on the back of my neck tingled.
"My, my what a
beautiful child." I stiffened as Callisto continued.
"If I didn't know better I would say she looks an awful
lot like... hmmm." She tapped her chin with her finger.
"Well, you know, dear." She gave me that wild smile
battle's over, you'll be at the end of my sword," I
"Oh, Xena, I
swear every time you threaten me it just makes me all gooey
inside." She laughed, going to her horse and leading her
steed out. "Make sure you stay safe out there." She
blew me a kiss and rode towards the other guards. My temper
was slipping. Now Callisto knew about Hope, which meant that
Najara must have told Callisto at some point. Son of a
Baccache, I thought. Sure, Callisto would be with me, but
Najara would be with Hope.
I had a flashback
to when I felt Gabrielle had betrayed me, and Solon died. Ares
knew how to play on my darkness and I did the unspeakable.
But you sure can't dance to it. Look, I feel your pain OK --
but how much longer before you start doing something about
it?" Ares said.
"My son is
dead, ya soul-less bastard! What can I do about that?"
"Just goes to
prove what I've been telling you all along-- no good deed goes
unpunished-- saving people, defending the weak, trusting
someone who betrayed you." He puts a hand on my shoulder.
atonement kick you've been on lately -- it's not you. You're
full of fire -- bending the world to your will -- full of
rage. And revenge. Accept it; embrace it. You know what to do
-- who to kill." Gods, he knew what buttons to push.
I saw myself hold
her battered body above the cliff as I screamed.
I paced the stable
shaking. Think, Xena, think.
I looked back out
as Gabrielle gave Hope one more squeeze before shooing her
off. Was Ares going to try to pull the darkness out of
Gabrielle? Could he do it and would she be able to come back?
called for the little girl; she saw me and smiled. I knew
Gabrielle was watching, but I had no other choice.
Xena?" Her face was just like her mother's and I felt an
ache in my chest.
"I need you to
give your Grandmother a note from me please, as fast as you
can. Don't let anyone see this note other then her. Please,
it's important." She nodded yes and I walked to my horse
and grabbed a scroll and quill from it quickly.
I sent her off with
the promise again not to show anyone and to get it to Cyrene
fast. I had to warn Mother someway, but I couldn't stay
because I had to watch Callisto with Gabrielle. Gods, I felt
like I was trapped between crossbows.
Conqueror’s horse ready?" I yelled making the smithy
ma’am," she stuttered and walked quickly off.
I grabbed the reins
to Argo and led her toward Gabrielle, who had a cold look on
her face as I got closer. I tried to give her Argo's reins,
but her arm came out quickly and her hand was around my
"What is your
fascination with the child?" Her voice was low.
close to her Grandmother Cyrene, and wanted Hope to give her a
note just in case I don't return?" I barely got the words
out. Her grip dropped and she let out a battle cry and leapt
on Argo's back.
Xena. After all, you are the best." Her face was still
like ice. "Saddle up!!" she yelled, and took the
I mounted my horse
and Ephiny pulled up by me. "The Conqueror wants you up
front with us."
We trotted off in
silence, catching up with Gabrielle and Autolycus in front.
whoever runs into Brutus, you may beat him senseless, but
don't kill him. I have plans for him. As for Caesar... he’s
mine." The person breaking the silence was not Gabrielle,
but truly the Conqueror looking forward to battle. I found
this rather arousing and I mentally slapped myself for that
you remember to come back safe and sound. You’ve still got a
contract of ours to fulfill," Autolycus gave her a wink,
bringing his horse to a stop just shy of the gated entrance.
I expected him to
join us for some reason, but I realized quickly he would not.
If Autolycus were to keep his livelihood, it wouldn’t do
much good for the Romans to spot him chatting up the
I turned in my
saddle to look at our forces. Behind us were my fellow Royal
Guards on horseback. Callisto and I locked eyes briefly.
Behind them were the wagons with the catapults, then rows of
horsemen with bows; her archers - half dressed as Romans; the
other as Greeks. Then behind all of this there were the foot
solders and I spotted Joxer on the far right. This wasn't even
the full army, but very impressive indeed. In my old days I
would hate to run into this kind of force. With the Amazons
and Centaurs ready on two sides, by the Gods…
We continued to
work our way to the battle in silence and I sent a prayer to
whoever would listen that we’d all make it safely. Well
except for Callisto, I considered in afterthought. It
seemed like only seconds, but long moments later we had our
positions. Gabrielle gave Ephiny the order to have the
From the bushes, she watched the hill
above. First, a few scouts appeared at the top, but then a man
I knew quite well made his appearance too. Caesar was dressed
in his golden armor with a telescope watching the engagement
below. For her part, Gabrielle had her telescope fixed on
Caesar. I watched the two of them, but the growing smile on
Gabrielle’s face held my fascination.
falling for it." There was something feral about the grin
she had, as if she was a spider watching a fly heading toward
I looked back to
the hill to see Caesar pointing and pushing a few of his men
around. He was falling for it indeed and he didn’t look very
happy that Brutus was going to ‘steal’ his battle with
Athens. I took a deep breath. It wouldn’t be long now. As
soon as Caesars’ troops began their charge down the hill,
Gabrielle’s attention left him. I’m sure she had faith in
Ephiny to lead that battle. Instead of focusing on him, she
shifted her eyes over to the far ridge where she expected
Brutus’ troops to be sitting. Sure enough within a matter of
moments Brutus’ behavior began to mimic Caesars’ from
As Brutus’ men
lined up at the top of the hill, I watched Gabrielle raise her
hand to her own troops behind her. Once the enemy began their
charge downhill into the valley I watched her signal the
flaming arrows. Then the arrows went up, all of her Romans and
Greeks charged up the hill toward us. Leaving a mix of Caesar
and Brutus’ troops below. With another wave of her hand, the
catapults began to fire into the valley. The darkened sky lit
up like daytime and I could hear the screams from the burning
men below. War was hell without a doubt. I knew that the Roman
advancement had to be stopped for the good of Greece, but as I
looked over the smile that appeared on Gabrielle’s face, it
smiling because the battle was going her way. She was enjoying
watching those men die. I knew that smile. I wore it many
times in my youth. Sometimes it still haunted me in my dreams,
but here it played on Gabrielle’s face naturally. Too
naturally. And it scared me. I couldn’t look anymore at her,
and I went back to watching the battle unfold. I witnessed as
her troops tried to escape the fireballs wrecking havoc below.
One soldier caught my eyes as he tripped trying to come up the
Gabrielle gave her
next order to charge and I knew that the man would be trapped
below. It was Joxer. As the troops marched double time in
formation to the battle below, I raced ahead as fast as I
could to where he had fallen. I brought my horse to a halt and
somersaulted from the saddle to land near his feet. His laces
had somehow become tangled in a dead, rotted tree root.
Quickly, I pulled my sword and swung watching him wince below
me. The blade sliced through the laces and he pulled his foot
out with ease. With only seconds to spare, I pulled him up to
my horse as I jumped back. Together we raced down the hill
into the battle.
"You saved my
life," he yelled. "I must repay you."
the Conqueror," I ordered him. "If you see that
blonde woman guard get within ten feet of her, make sure you
understand," he replied.
have to understand. Just do it."
"You have my
word." He nodded, although he didn’t know why.
The more eyes one
had on Callisto, the better.
As we made our way
down the hill, I watched as Ephiny, true to her word, raced
through the mess, taking down Romans left and right in her
attempt to get back to Gabrielle’s side. Something else in
my favor, I was sure. As long as Ephiny was nearby, that meant
that Callisto had three of us that she had to get through. As
I looked back towards where the Royal Guards fought, I could
see that she wasn’t focused on the battle. She was focused
on Gabrielle. And she knew, just as I did, that if there was
any chance in her killing the Conqueror, and getting away with
it, the time was now.