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The two women walked into town weary and looking as if they had just
fought for their very lives. The two were equally beautiful but
strikingly different. One was small and had the look of someone who saw
the world as if it were something wondrous, while the other was a raven
haired beauty that had the unmistakable look about her that said "look
but don't touch, but I'd prefer you not even look. They were leading a
beautiful palomino horse that had her head down showing that even she
needed her rest.
"There, there Argo. We'll stop here in this village for awhile so
that all of us can take a rest," the dark haired woman said to the horse
petting it affectionately. "I know how tired you are."
"You know, sometimes I think you would rather be around animals than
human beings," her companion commented.
"Animals are easier to read than people. People can lie very
easily and are not always to be trusted. You should know that by now,"
glancing sideways to her friend.
"I know Xena, but I still think it's a shame that people have to be
so cruel and deceitful to each other. I don't understand why we all
can't just be more honest with one another."
Xena just looked at her friend and smiled. After all that Gabrielle
has seen and been through since joining her, she still had a way of
looking at the world with the hope of a child. After Perdicus was
killed, Gabrielle lost that look and Xena was afraid for her friend
then. All Gabrielle could think about was killing Callisto in revenge
but Xena knew that even Callisto's death wouldn't have eased Gabrielle's
pain. She was proud of Gabrielle when she fought the urge to kill and
won. Xena didn't even want to think of what might have happened to
Gabrielle had she gone through with her plan. The guilt of Callisto's
death was almost more than Xena could stand, she didn't even want to
think of what it would have done to her gentle natured friend.
As if sensing her friend's pensive mood, Gabrielle quickly changes
the topic. "So just where are we anyway? I don't think we've stopped
here before but, then again, we've stopped so many places that I
"I came through here once with my army. I think it's called
Phoenicia." Noticing Gabrielle's look when she mentions her army, "No. I
didn't attack the village so there shouldn't be any problems. We were on
our way to try to destroy Hercules."
Gabrielle wisely decided to let the subject drop and they continued
down the street in silence. Even though she was a bard and had a natural
desire to always talk and tell a story, Gabrielle knew there were times
when Xena preferred her to be quiet if only for a little while. As they
walked in silence through the village, Gabrielle had a chance to look
around at the people there. She noticed that the wares being sold by the
merchants were of the finest quality ever seen in Greece. They were the
type of merchandise that a warlord would love for his very own and she
wondered why the people didn't seem concerned but, in fact, seemed as if
they didn't have a worry in the world.
"Xena have you noticed how peaceful this place is? The merchandise
is some of the finest I have ever seen and yet no one is around to
protect it or the merchants themselves."
"I've been noticing that. I'm surprised that one of the local
warlords I've heard so much about hasn't tried to make this town part of
his conquests and raided it yet," picking up a beautifully decorated
bowl. "Look at this, pure gold. This is exactly the kind of town I
preferred to attack in my past." Xena starts looking around and finally
finds what she was searching for. She goes over to the shopkeeper whose
bowl she had picked up.
"Can I get you anything miss," the shopkeeper kindly asked. He's an
older man who looks as if her might have been in many battles but decided
that the quieter life was for him.
"My name is Avondale, but everyone here calls me A-guy," he stated with
the biggest smile Gabrielle has ever seen.
"Why are there no guards to prevent an attack? With such fine
merchandise surely there must be raids by the warlords that are nearby.
Why aren't people afraid of such an attack?"
"We have no need to be afraid Xena." Xena looks at the shopkeeper
sharply when he says her name. "Yes I know who you are. I was here when
you passed through all those years ago and I was one of the many who
thanked the Gods that you decided to spare our village and go on your
way. Today we have nothing to fear because we are protected by the great
goddess Athena herself. She sends her warrior Deanlu to protect us
whenever we are in danger."
Gabrielle leaned closer to the shopkeeper. She has always prided
herself on knowing all the stories about of the Gods and their warriors,
but had never heard of this Deanlu before and she found herself curious.
"Who is this Deanlu? I have never heard of him before."
Emphasizing the first part, "She's a warrior like no other, not even
Xena. She does not need an army to help her for she has defeated whole
ones by herself. I have personally seen her do battle and it is truly an
amazing sight. It has been said that even Callisto herself was afraid to
do battle with one of Athena's chosen." At the mention of Callisto,
Xena's and Gabrielle's interest was truly peaked. "I am not the best
storyteller in town though so I can not do the warrior proud with my own
recollections. If you like I can take you to the local tavern and the
owner will tell you all you want."
Xena merely nodded and Gabrielle was silent but both were thinking
the same thing. The mention of someone who could frighten even Callisto
took them by surprise. Even Xena, who eventually defeated Callisto,
never frightened her. They were both interested in hearing more about
this Deanlu person, whoever she was. Each also had a private reason for
wanting to hear more stories. Gabrielle, being the bard, was always
looking for more stories about heroes, and one that could scare the woman
who murdered her husband was one she would enjoy telling. Xena wanted
to know more about why Athena had sent this warrior to protect a
specific village. It was unlike the gods, especially the Goddess of War,
to care that much for mortals that they would send a protector.
Xena left Argo in the trustworthy hands of the shopkeeper's
apprentice and followed him to the tavern. On their way Xena and
Gabrielle took a closer look at the village. It was different from many
of the other villages they've been through. Although the wares the
merchants sold were the same as in other villages, they were of a much
better quality and there was a substantially larger variety to choose
from. Also the way that the shops were set up was something not seen
often. Instead of clogging up the streets with their tables, the
merchants were in the buildings that made up the town with displays in
the windows to show what was inside.
As they were getting deeper into town Gabrielle made a sudden
realization. "Where are all the children?"
"What do you mean?" A-guy was genuinely puzzled by Gabrielle's
question. Xena looked around and noticed that Gabrielle was right.
Other than a few very young children with their mothers, there were no
children in sight.
"I mean where are all the children? It's the middle of the day and
there are no kids playing." Gabrielle waved her arms as if to emphasize
the point. Xena faced the shopkeeper and gave him a look that dared him
to try to lie to them.
The shopkeeper never even noticed the look. "Why they are all in
school of course," pointing toward a building in the middle of the
village square. "They go everyday. We feel it's important that the
children learn about their fellow people."
This satisfied Xena and Gabrielle's curiosity about the children
for the moment, but it only made them more interested in the town
itself. There was something not quite tangible in the air and it
bothered both that they couldn't quite figure it out. Finally they
stopped in front of the tavern.
"Here we are. Come on, I'll introduce you to the owner." A-guy led
them into what had to be the largest tavern that anyone had ever built.
It had a long bar on the side that extended all the way from one end to
the other. There were three bartenders doing their best to keep up with
the customers orders. Waitresses, dressed in garb similar to Gabrielle's
own Amazon outfit, were hurrying from table to table refilling orders.
Finally the bartender closest to them noticed them and came over.
"Hey Avondale, it's a bit early for you to be here isn't it? I
wasn't expecting to see you until sundown," she says with a hint of
affection. Noticing Gabrielle and Xena by his side, "and I see you
didn't come alone today either. Cat will be so disappointed."
"Knock it off Okie," he replies grinning to his oldest and dearest
friend, "this is Xena and her friend Gabrielle. They wanted to hear some
stories about Deanlu so I brought them to see your boss."
"Why don't you check in back," Okie says as she heads to another
customer and the trio are quickly forgotten. A-guy leads the two woman
toward the back of the tavern. They come across a door that is ornately
decorated and plastered with pieces of parchment that hold various
messages. A-guy knocks on the door and without waiting for an answer
opens it. There is no one in the room but they can hear someone in the
"I've got some people I'd like you to meet." A woman comes out of
the closet and Gabrielle's breathing all but stops. The woman is
wearing a dress of a deep blue and white and is made of the softest
material that anyone had ever seen. Xena, becoming aware of her friends
heightened emotions, is curious about this woman but also cautious.
Before any introductions are even made, though, she gets an unexpected shock.
"Becky," Gabrielle whispers in the quietest voice that Xena has ever
heard her use before, "is it really you?"
"Hello Gabrielle. It's really me," the woman replies.
"You two know each other?" Xena asks Gabrielle, surprised that she
should know someone so far from Poteidaia.
Gabrielle responds so quietly that Xena can barely hear her, but she
never expects Gabrielle's response. "She"s my sister."
Xena's shocked. "Your sister. I thought you only had Lilla."
Becky turns to Gabrielle. "So father told you never to speak of me
again and you kept your promise not to, like a good little daughter,"
Becky says sarcastically. Her attitude toward Gabrielle is anything but
sisterly. "What must he think knowing that you followed in my footsteps
and ran away from home?"
"I didn't run away like you," Gabrielle sneers at her sister, "I've
been back to visit since I've left which is more than I can say for you."
Xena has never seen her friend react this way to anyone other than
Callisto and is worried about Gabrielle. "Gabrielle why didn't you ever
tell me about," turning toward Becky, "Becky you said right?" Becky nods
her head at Xena and waits for Gabrielle to answer. Instead Gabrielle
runs out of the office and heads for the exit of the tavern with Xena
close behind. She doesn't stop until she reaches the stables where Argo
is and finally breaks down and lets her emotions wash over her. She
picks up her staff and starts hitting one of the support beams that is
holding up the stable with all the force she can muster. Xena finally
catches up to her and is concerned to see Gabrielle acting like this.
"Gabrielle are you okay?" She goes to comfort Gabrielle and is
almost hit by her staff in return. Xena grabs the staff but doesn't
completely take it out of Gabrielle's hands. "Whoa take it easy with
that thing. What is it about your sister that has you so worked up like
Gabrielle realizes what she almost did and sits on a pile of hay
nearby. "I'm sorry Xena, but it's just the sight of my sister after all
these years, it's..." Gabrielle looks for the right words but, for once,
cannot find any to express her feelings. Xena senses this and tries to
comfort Gabrielle. Gabrielle breaks down into Xena's arms and cries the
tears of all that she has lost and left behind.
"Gabrielle I want to try to help. Why don't we just start with why
you never mentioned your sister before? You are always telling stories
about your childhood and your family, but never before have you mentioned
Becky. She mentioned that you were following in her footsteps by running
away from home, what did she mean?"
Gabrielle wanted to tell Xena everything about her sister, but found
that Becky had been right in that her father told her not to say anything
and she hadn't. Even now, with Xena, she knew that she had to keep her
promise to her father. With all else that she had done in the past, she
could not betray that one promise made to him so long ago. Xena could
see that Gabrielle was struggling with her emotions and decided that the
matter could wait until both were rested and fed.
"Come on," Xena says while forcing Gabrielle to her feet,"let's
leave Argo alone for awhile so she can rest and then we can do the same.
Let's go talk to Avondale and see if there is any other place in town
that we can stay at."
Xena leads Gabrielle out of the stables and gently prods her along
the open streets. As they get close to the shop where they first met
Avondale, Xena becomes aware of being watched by the townspeople.
Glancing around her she notices that everyone is staring openly at her,
but it isn't in the unfriendly manner in which many of the towns she had
visited recently did. It was more like a look of curiosity was being
directed toward her and, especially, Gabrielle. Finally a little girl,
of no more than 5 or 6, walks right up to Xena without any trace of fear.
"Excuse me," the little girl said, not to Xena but to Gabrielle,
"are you really Becky's sister Gabrielle?" Gabrielle is startled that
the news of the sibling's reunion has spread so quickly. She bends down
toward the child.
"Yes I am, but how did you know my name?"
"Everyone knows about you Gabrielle," a woman says coming up behind
the little girl. We have heard many stories about you and your sister
Lilla's adventures when you were younger." She picks up the little
girl's hand. "My name is Amber and this bold little one is Stella. I
want to welcome you to our town, although I am sure that no such welcome
is necessary," she stated, extending her hand.
Sensing Gabrielle's confusion over being told that everyone in town
knew her and Lilla's name, Xena took the hand offered to them by Amber
and even took the hug offered her by Stella.
"Thank you for that welcome Amber. My name is Xena."
Amber nods her head at Xena implying that she already knew the
Warrior Princess' name. Also noticing Gabrielle's silence Amber picks up
Stella. "Come you must be tired after your long journey. The tavern can
get too noisy to rest comfortably, so I invite you to spend the evening
at my home." Noticing Xena about to protest, "Don't worry I have plenty
She calls out to her other children to follow her. Xena and
Gabrielle are amazed when three more youngsters come running over to
Amber. She hands the oldest child Stella and the group is on their way.
The journey to Amber's home is a quiet one with the children making the
only noise. Amber knows that as a warrior, Xena would not be all that
talkative, but she also senses that Gabrielle is trying to adjust to
seeing her older sister again. It has always been common knowledge in
the village that Amber had this special way of knowing when someone was
hurting. Not in the physical sense, but in the emotional sense that so
many feel but donUt understand. She knew when people needed help getting
something off their chest, but also when they needed to be alone with
their thoughts. She could tell that Gabrielle was fighting a battle
inside herself that was on of the toughest ones she had ever dealt with.
It wasn't like the battle over whether to kill Callisto or not, yes Amber
knew that story. It was the battle between old loyalties to her family
and new ones to Xena. She wished that she could help the young woman,
but knew that only time could heal all the wounds of the past.
As they leave the village, Xena becomes aware that the houses on
this side of the village are much grander than the ones that they passed
on the other side when they came in. They consisted of two or three
level buildings that had stables near but not a specific area for a
barn. The fields surrounding the homes were not plowed as if they were to
be used for farming but, instead, were filed with many different kinds of
flowers. Every once in a while, they came upon a house that had a statue
of Athena in front as if it were protecting it. Gabrielle even forgot
her feelings at seeing her sister as she took in all the sights. When
they came to one of the larger homes, Amber went to lead them in. Xena
and Gabrielle paused at the front door.
"Is this your home? It looks like an inn." Gabrielle commented.
Amber just laughed. "Everyone who has never seen it says that, but
it's home to my lot." She's pushed aside by the four children as they
run into the house. Xena finds herself intrigued by this woman who has
offered her home to her and Gabrielle. She gives Amber a closer look.
"Hey sis, who are you talking to out there?" a voice says from
somewhere within the house.
"That my brother Scauwen. I share the house with him." She shouts
over her shoulder, "I brought some house guests to spend the night here.
It's Becky's sister Gabrielle and her friend Xena."
Xena can hear footsteps coming from behind the door and gets ready
to be introduced to Amber's brother, but the next thing she hears isn't
an introduction but Gabrielle fainting. She looks up to see why and can
not believe her eyes. Gabrielle had seen Scauwen coming before Xena and
what she saw just completely drained her of what little strength she had
"Is she okay?" Scauwen asked concerned.
Xena doesn't know how to respond. It's the same face almost
perfectly, but it was an entirely different voice and attitude being
reflected from it. She quickly recovers her senses and focuses on the
"I think we better get her inside out of the cold air," she says to
Scauwen without looking up at him. She is still too unnerved by the
resemblance. As Scauwen bends down to pick Gabrielle up, she regains
consciousness only briefly and mumbles someone's name. She then becomes
still once more.
"What did she call me?" a bewildered Scauwen asks.
Xena is slow to respond, but eventually decides to tell them
before Gabrielle awakens. "She called you Perdicus."
Scauwen carried Gabrielle into the house and laid her gently on the
couch. Xena checked Gabrielle's pulse to make sure she was alright and
after determining that she was fine, Xena turned to Scauwen. She looked
at him long and hard and it made him feel as if he were being judged by
the gods themselves. Xena wanted to make sure that he, along with
everything else there, was real and not some cruel trick that one of the
gods had decided to play on Gabrielle and herself. There have been
entirely too many coincidences, and too many strange new ideas, in this
small village for her not to be suspicious. First they find out about a
warrior sent by Athena herself to protect the village, then they discover
Gabrielle's sister and, now this, and almost exact double for Gabrielle's
dead husband Perdicus. It was all too convenient for Xena. While these
thoughts were going through her mind, the trio stood over the unconscious
form of Gabrielle. The silence was finally broken by a loud knock at the
"That must be Lasha. She said she was coming over for dinner,"
Scauwen says as he jumps up to get the door.
"Scauwen I think it might be better if the two of you stay in the
other room until Gabrielle regains full control of her emotions," Amber
tells her brother, while looking over at Xena. "You better let us
explain to her that you're not a spirit but, in fact, a very mortal man."
Scauwen nods his head in agreement and leaves the room. Afterward you
hear voices in the kitchen. Amber then turns her full attention to Xena
and, with the uncanny ability that has frightened many, she picks up on
Xena's reservations about both the town and it's inhabitants.
"I'm sure you have many questions Xena. I'll try to answer them."
"I do have many question Amber but I'm not sure that you're the one
who should provide the answers," Xena says as she takes a glance at the
now sleeping Gabrielle. She is torn between caring for her friend and
trying to figure out what was going on there.
"Go on Xena. After handling four very active children, I think I
can take care of one sleeping young girl."
Xena looks at Amber gratefully and then back down to Gabrielle.
Finally with her decision made, Xena heads to the door and back into
town. Xena knew exactly who she wanted to talk to.
When Xena walked into the tavern, it was even busier than it had
been that afternoon and, of course, much nosier. It had the usual
assortment of people found in any tavern in any town. Warriors reliving
past battles, women with less than upstanding morals, weary travelers
looking for lodgings, but also something more. The everyday people that
make up the village were also there. Somehow, in this tavern, people who
normally would not associate with one another, had found a way to get
along. Xena was surprised to see that men, who would rather grope a
woman than show her affection, show respect towards the ladies of the
town. It was as if Aphrodite herself had come down and placed a spell
over everyone there. It was just one more thing Xena had to add to her
growing list of questions.
Xena kept an eye out for trouble, while searching for the person she
needed to talk to. She was nowhere in sight. Eventually Xena found the
next best thing. At the end of the bar sat Avondale and next to him a
beautiful woman in a shimmering red dress. As she walked over to the
obviously in love couple, Avondale finally noticed her.
"Xena over here. How is Gabrielle doing? I got really worried when
she took off the way she did." Turning to the woman next to him, "Cat
this is Xena. You remember me telling you about her. She's the one
who...." he's stopped by Xena who puts her hand up.
"I don't have time to socialize. I'm here looking for Becky."
Avondale nods his head as if he was expecting that reply. "Do you know
where she is?"
Avondale knew enough about Xena not to be upset over her abrupt
answer. "I think she's still in her office. They said she hasn't come
out of it since the two of you took off. You remember which way it is
right?" he says and points toward the back.
Xena nods her thanks and walks to the back to confront Becky. She
is not leaving the tavern until she gets the answers to all her
questions. The other patrons in the bar seem to sense Xena's mood and
clear a path for her to get through. When she gets to the office door it
suddenly opens up in front of her.
"Come in Xena, I've been expecting you," Becky says ushering Xena
into her office. She has changed out of the dress she wore earlier and
into a pair of black pants and a top made of the sheerest white lace. "I
thought you would have been here sooner."
Xena walked into the office and shut the door behind her, The noise
from the bar was instantly diminished. Never one to mince words, she let
Becky know exactly why she was there.
"I want ot know about this town and also why Gabrielle reacted to
you the way she did."
"That could take all night, It's a rather long and complicated
story. Would you settle for only one of those answers.?" When she sees
Xena's head nod for her to continue, "I didn't think so. Well make
yourself comfortable and I'll tell you all I can. Although I know you're
curious about, and even a bit cautious about, the town I think I should
start with my relationship between myself and my sisters."
"First of all Xena, I want you to know that no matter what I did to
Gabrielle and Lilla when they were younger, I always loved them. The
things I did, I did only to help them in lofe." Becky stops for a minute
to decide where to begin and then continues.
"I was around seven when Gabrielle was born. I was never the golden
child my parents wanted, so they turned all their attention toward her
and I wanted to hate her for it, but I couldn't. Just one look at her
and I saw everything that I wasn't and never could be. I would sit and
tell her all the stories I would hear from the people in town. My
parents weren't sure how to react to this but, because Gabrielle seemed
to enjoy it and Lilla had since been born, they allowed it."
As Becky talks about the past, she seems to go into herself. Xena
recognizes that look. It's the same one that Gabrielle gets when telling
a story. Now Xena knew where she got it from. As Xena listens she tries
to picture Gabrielle's childhood. Becky continued her story.
"Even as a child Gabrielle had a look about her. You just took one
glance at her and knew that she was destined to be more than a farmer's
wife. She was going to do something with her life. She needed to do
something with her life and I tried to encourage her. I saw a lot of
myself in her and I wanted to do everything I could to teach her the
things she would need to know, but she never needed much encouragement.
Gabrielle was as fearless as any of the older boys in town. She never
backed down from a challenge and she was getting better at telling
stories. The kids in Poteideia loved her.
"Of course it was only a matter of time before Lilla wanted to play
with Gabrielle also. They were of the same age almost and Lilla idolized
her older sister. Lilla joined in all of Gabrielle's and my adventures,
but she just didn't have the same spirit as Gabrielle. Soon Lilla
decided that she would rather stay at home then traipse across the
countryside and occasionally Gabrielle stayed at home with her, although
she preferred the outdoors. Our mother began to be concerned about my
influence over Gabrielle. She was afraid that Gabrielle was becoming too
much like her big sister, so she encouraged her to play with Lilla more.
Her and father felt that it would be better if Gabrielle stayed closer to
home than roam the woods with the older kids doing only the gods knew what.
"Pretty soon Gabrielle preferred spending all of her free time with
mother and less with me. It made me angry and I felt resentful toward my
parents. I felt they had taken something precious to me away as a
punishment for my behavior. I guess I was around fifteen or sixteen at
the time and I began to rebel against my parents even more. The best way
to get me to do something, was to have them tell me not to do it. My
parents and I never had the closest of relationships, so they just put
all the support with their two perfect children, Lilla and Gabrielle.
There were times when I would disappear for days and when I returned not
a word was said. They just acted like I was an annoyance sent by the
gods as a test, for what I don't know.
"At first when I went on my adventures, I would tell Gabrielle the
stories that I had picked up in the neighboring villages and, as always,
she loved to hear them. They seemed to fascinate her but, after a year
or so, I noticed her distancing herself from me. Out parents attitude
toward me was beginning to rub off on her. It wasn't that Gabrielle
disapproved , she was just choosing our parents over me. Now I
understand why she did it, but then I felt that it was the bitterest of
betrayals. I hated Gabrielle for it, even more than my parents."
Throughout the telling of her story, Becky had been pacing the floor to
her office. Xena, for once, was sitting passively listening to Becky
talk about the childhood the Gabrielle never mentioned. Xena had always
wondered why Gabrielle was so different from the rest of her family,
wondering about the fearlessness that allowed her to follow Xena and
listening to Becky gave her an insight into her travelling companion.
Now there was only one more thing about the past that Xena wanted to know
"What eventually made you leave and why did Gabrielle run away from
you the was she did?"
"Well around five or six years ago, an army came through Poteideia.
They were on their way home from a battle and they wanted to stop in our
village to get a rest and something to eat. They weren't a band of
thieves out to cause harm, just family men that had wanted to help some
people who needed it, but that didn't matter to the villagers. They
refused the men." When Xena shows surprise that Gabrielle's peaceful
village would refuse hospitality to a friendly army, Becky explained further.
"There had been quite a number of attacks on neighboring villages
and the people were wary of strangers. They made the men spend the night
outside of town and would not even allow them to purchase food from
them. Some of my friends and I disagreed with the town leaders. We felt
that the men should be made to feel welcome. That night I snuck out of
my room and brought some food and drink to the men. I wanted them to know
that not everyone in town was the same. I hadn't planned on staying
long, but I did. There was a young man there and I fell in love with him
at first sight. It sounds unbelievable, I know, but it was like we were
destined to meet. We didn't want to separate but finally, as the sun
rose, I went home. My parents were both up and furious at me for what I
had done. They forbid me from going anywhere near the soldiers again
and when I refused, my father slapped me. I was shocked. He had never
done anything like that before. I ran to my room because I didn't want
them to see how upset I was. That's when Gabrielle came in. She had
heard everything and she agreed with my parents. She had come to feel
that I was some evil thing that was brought into the family as a
punishment for some crime they must have committed. That's when I
decided to leave. I packed up all my belongings and crept out the
window, I left with the army and I haven't returned since. Xena I want
you to know, I wasn't planning on leaving until Gabrielle had turned on
me. She was the only person in that family that had ever given me
unconditional love and to see that love turn into hatred was more than I
could stand. I had no other choice than to leave."
"What happened to the young man?" Xena queried.
"We came her to town and were married. He died three years ago at
Troy battling the Spartans. I took over the tavern and have thrown my
life into it. The patrons here are my only family now. I have no one
outside of Phoenicia."
Xena is stunned. She had never imagined that Gabrielle's family,
not to mention Gabrielle herself, could be so cruel that they would force
one of their own away. Her parents have even forgiven Xena for taking
Gabrielle with her and have since welcomed her with open arms. This was
a side to them that she did not know even existed. Xena didn't know what
to say so she just remained silent. Finally Becky spoke up.
"Well now you have heard my whole sad story so now I guess you want
to hear about Deanlu?" As she is about to start another story, they hear
a commotion outside. Surprisingly Becky is the first one out of the
office. "Okie what's going on?" She says while surveying the quickly
"We're under attack in the northern part of the village," the
faithful bartender says. "We are going to try to hold them off until
Deanlu arrives." With this said, Okie grabs her sword from behind the
bar and follows the crowd.
"Wait a minute Okie," Xena says catching up to her. "Who's doing
"It's Dancyer McCoy and Caryn the Tigress," Okie tells Xena and
leaves the bar.
"Dancyer and the Tigress together. That is not good news," says
Becky who had just caught up to Xena. She had a sword in her hand, and
Xena noticed that by the way she was holding it, that Becky obviously
knew how to use it. "By themselves they're bad enough, but their armies
"Are virtually unstoppable," Xena finished for her. "That is until
now. Come on there's a fight I want to be in."
"Right behind you."
Becky and Xena head to where the battle is taking place and are soon
separated. Xena is quickly confronted by two soldiers. The two men look
at each other, silently saying that they should be able to handle one
woman, even if she did have a fierce looking sword. Xena just laughed to
herself as she watched the men line up on either side of her and lunge
with their swords. Xena just ducked and the men's momentum carried them
the rest of the way, one impaling the other. With these two taken care
of, she went to help the other villagers. She looked around for Becky,
knowing that Gabrielle would never forgive herself if something happened
to her, but was unable to locate her. Suddenly from out of nowhere Xena
Xena turned in the direction of the yell and there she saw her. She
was dressed in leather, something of a combination between Callisto's and
Xena's clothing, but only instead of black it was white. Xena watched as
the woman methodically challenged all the men that dared to stand against
her. Even the men that Xena was about to engage in battle joined in the
fray against this new intruder, feeling that she was the more threatening
opponent. All Xena thought was "This must be Deanlu."
Deanlu was truly amazing. She had no problem defeating all the men
that rose their swords against the village. On her own she took care of
15 men in the course of only 3 minutes barely breaking a sweat. She then
turned toward what was left of the army that had invaded the town and,
who were now fleeing in retreat, and did something that made Xena do a
double take. Deanlu pulled out a chakrum and threw it with such control
that it looked as if she had been born with the ability to control it.
Xena had never seen anyone use a chakrum with such control other than
herself. In fact, she rarely saw anyone use a chakrum at all. The
chakrum struck a heavy branch above the men and broke it in two. The
branch then fell on the men, pinning them underneath. Deanlu grabbed
the chakrum effortlessly and hooked it back onto her belt. She walked
over to the men who were now laying helplessly on the ground trying to
get the branch off of them.
"Where is Dancyer and the Tigress? Have they no courage to come and
fight their own battles?" Deanlu demanded of the men.
The men lay there mute. None were willing to answer the warrior's
question. Eventually though one of the men, a terrified youth who looked
no older than eighteen, spoke up.
"They are back at the camp. It's about a two day ride between here
and there," he said all the while avoiding the glares by his companions.
"The rest of the army is with them. We were sent ahead to test the
village's strength's and to try to find their weaknesses."
"How many in their army?" Xena asked from the crowd.
The boy replied, "About 75 to 100 men. Some on horses."
A murmur went through the crowd. "That was too many. Surely the
boy must be exaggerating," more than one man thought. Deanlu seemed to
think about this new information and looked over at Xena as if to assess
her fighting ability. Apparently deciding that if push came to shove,
Xena would help with the fight, she split the branch in half with one
blow from her sword and helped the men free themselves."
"I want you to tell Dancyer and Caryn that this village is not for
the taking and that any attempts will result only in bloodshed on your
part. We are protected by the gods and they will let nothing harm us
here." The men scramble to their feet and hurry away. Deanlu does
nothing to stop the men but does stop the boy who talked.
"How did you become a part of this band of mercenaries?" demanded
Deanlu. "You are no warrior."
The boy shrunk from Deanlu's glare. "My family was killed when I
was only fifteen," the scared youth told her. "Ever since then I decided
that I would never be that helpless again. I've been learning to fight
Deanlu turned to Xena, "Well Xena what do you think? You have
battled many warriors, do you think this boy will ever be a great fighter?"
Xena walked through the crowd and looked at the boy. She then faces
Deanlu. "I saw the way he fights and there is a slight possibility of
improving, but no," shaking her head, "he will never be a great fighter."
Deanlu nods her head in agreement, then takes a good long look at
the boy. "Do you still wish to be a warrior? If so I will allow you to
join your friends in their retreat." The boy just shakes his head and
remains silent. "That's what I thought. If given the chance would you
change?" The boy nods his head yes. "Then we will give you that
chance. Keewee and Greenmt please come here." Xena is puzzled about
Deanlu's intentions but does not comment as she notices two women
stepping forward. "This is Keewee and Greenmt. They are sisters who own
a farm on the other side of town. They are in need of help and can
provide you with a room and food. That is if you want to truly change
your life." A big grin spreads to the boy's face making him appear even
younger than he actually was. He had grown tired of the bloodshed and
had wanted out, but was always too afraid to leave. Deanlu then turns to
the sisters, who nod their agreement to the suggestion. They go pick the
boy up off of the ground and lead him away. Everyone else takes this as
their sign to depart.
"Okay everyone, you know the routine," Okie yells above the crowd.
"First rounds on the house." A cheer rises from the people as they head
back to the tavern, leaving Deanlu and Xena alone.
The two women stand there silently and regard each other as they
would any possible enemy or ally. Xena could see why Athena had chosen
this woman to be protector of this village. She was a powerful warrior,
the proof of that lay around her, but she was also a wise woman. Xena
would never have thought of making that boy a part of the village he had
just tried to destroy. She had to admit it, if only to herself, that
this Deanlu was possible even more powerful than her. Xena was only glad
that she and her were on the same side in this battle.
"Xena. Xena," a breathless Gabrielle runs up to the pair. "I saw
the whole thing. It was great. It will make an excellent story."
Gabrielle turns to Deanlu, "My name is Gabrielle, you must be Deanlu.
I've been wanting to meet you."
Deanlu just grins at the bard and then to Xena. "So Gabrielle
you're the reason Ares has yet to win Xena back. Keep up the good work,
the gods are watching. Well I really must be going," she says while
"Wait a minute, I want to ask you a few questions." Xena says
running after Deanlu.
"Another time Xena. Why don't you head to the tavern. I'm sure
someone there will tell you all you'd like to know. I hear these
celebrations are pretty wild. Besides I have a feeling you might see
some friendly faces," she says mysteriously and then vanishes.
"Where'd she go. She's not a goddess so she couldn't have vanished
into thin air, could she?" a confused Gabrielle asks. Xena isn't too
sure about what to think. All she knows is that she has to find out more
about Deanlu. "And what did she mean about seeing some friendly faces.
I've already seen two too many today."
That last comment brought Xena back to the present. She turned to
face Gabrielle and give her a piece of her mind about her not taking it
easy, but then she heard someone calling her name.
"Well Xena I see you didn't leave anyone for us did you? You had to
have all the fun for yourself, as usual," the stranger said in a mocking
tone that if it had come from anyone else, would have warranted a punch
from Xena and, possibly, a hit by Gabrielle's staff. But the new
arrivals got away with it.
"Hercules" was all Xena said.
"Hercules and Iolaus, why am I not surprised to see you here?"
Gabrielle said. She knew that under normal circumstances, she and Xena
would have been surprised run into the two of them, but these were far
from normal circumstance.
"What do you mean you're not surprised to see us here?" a confused
Iolaus asks. "We were passing nearby on our way to Athens and decided to
stop in the village for the night. When we heard about the trouble we
came to help out."
"And that's when we saw the two of you," interrupted Hercules. He
had been observing Xena since they arrived and he had noticed how tense
she was. He didn't think it was because of the fight , because it didn't
look like she had even exerted herself. He wondered what the problem
was. "What have we missed?"
"It's a long story," Xena answers, looking at Gabrielle, but she
"Well, why don't we go over to the tavern," says Iolaus, noticing
the tension and trying to lighten the mood up. "I'm thirsty, not to
mention starved. There's also a few people I want to see and say hi to."
"Like Becky," Hercules says to his friend, grateful at his attempts
to break the tension, but the look that passes between Xena and Gabrielle
at the mention of Becky is anything but pleasant. He made a mental note
to ask Xena what was bothering the two friends. Iolaus had a smart
remark, about a certain lady Hercules likes in town, but keeps it to
himself when he sees that Gabrielle is not in her usually cheerful mood.
Xena is the first to speak.
"I think its best if I got Gabrielle back to Amber's house. She's
had a rough day, as have I." Gabrielle is about to do her usual
protesting, but finds that Xena is right. When Xena sees that Gabrielle
is going to go quietly, it shows her how tired Gabrielle really is. All
at once, Xena realizes that she is worn out also. Gabrielle isn't the
only one who had gotten shocks to her system that day and Xena was
looking forward to sleep.
"What happened?" a concerned Iolaus asks her as he goes over to
Gabrielle, all manners of teasing put aside. She looks at him gratefully
and allows him to support her. Xena is touched by the look of concern and
affection that shows openly on Iolaus' face. She's glad that he has
arrived ad hopes that he will help her sort out her emotions, especially
"Xena, I meant to ask this earlier, but who exactly was doing the
attacking?" Hercules asks Xena. He's also concerned about Gabrielle, but
he knows that Iolaus will take care of her. He is more worried about
Xena. He has never seen her this preoccupied and it bothered him.
"Walk with us back to Amber's and I will try to explain." Hercules
nods his head in agreement, partially due to curiosity, but also due to
the fact that he knew Iolaus would not leave Gabrielle's side until she
was safely in the house.
The four head off to Amber's home. Hercules and Xena quickly move
ahead of Iolaus and Gabrielle so that they can talk privately and not be
overheard by the emotional young woman. Despite the exhilaration at
watching Deanlu battle the men earlier, Gabrielle was still not fully
recovered from the events of the day, and the effects were starting to
take hold again. Soon Iolaus was carrying Gabrielle more than she was
"It was a scouting party," Xena explains as soon as she is sure they
are out of hearing range of Gabrielle. "They were a part of Dancyer
McCoy's and Caryn the Tigress' army. The two warlord have combined and
have apparently decided that this village will be their first show of power."
"Well it looks like you gave them something to think about,"
Hercules stated with pride. He didn't like fighting and tried to avoid
it at all times, but he knew that some circumstances just required a show
of force and he was glad that Xena was as good as she was. He was proud
of her for the way she has turned her life around.
"I barely did anything," Xena said as Hercules stared at her
incredulously. "It was Deanlu who did all the work.." Hercules nodded
his head in understanding. Although he had visited the village many
times on his journeys, he had never seen Deanlu in action, but he did
hear the stories about her and they have made him curious.
"What did you think of her?"
"She's good. The best I've ever seen. She took on all the men in
the scouting party that raided and defeated them all without breaking a
sweat. Then when she saw that one of the men was really no more than a
scared boy, she had him become a member of the community. She had seen,
somehow, that he wanted a second chance and she gave it to him."
Hercules just listens as Xena describes that battle and doesn't
press for details. Finally he decides to end Xena's game of avoidance
and he asks her about Gabrielle.
"Why is she, when she didn't even fight, that Iolaus is carrying her?"
"She's had a number of nasty little surprises today," Xena says
hoping it would be enough for now, but when she looks at Hercules, she
can see that she will have to explain further. "Well it started this
morning.." and with this Xena begins to explain all the events that had
taken place earlier. She tells him about Becky and Scauwen and finishes
with them running into Hercules and Iolaus. By the time she finishes
they have arrived at Amber's home.
"Poor Gabrielle, no wonder she's so worn out. It has not been a
good day for her." Hercules finally says.
"I'm hoping a good night's rest will help her. I think she's over
the shock of Scauwen, or else she wouldn't have come out tonight, but her
sister is another matter." Xena says as Iolaus finally catches up to
them. Gabrielle is asleep in his arms. Xena takes her from him and nods
her head in appreciation. "Where will you be staying?"
"At the tavern. Becky usually keeps a couple of rooms on standby in
case we stop by. We'll see you in the morning," Hercules answers.
"Til tomorrow then," Xena says as she goes into the house and shuts
the door behind her.
"Okay Herc, what's going on? What's wrong with Gabrielle?" Iolaus
"It's a long story." Hercules starts telling him the story that
Xena told him. Suddenly you hear Iolaus shout.
"Becky's her what?"
Inside the house, Xena just shakes her head and carries Gabrielle to
The next day began with a beautiful spring morning. The birds were
singing, the sun was shining, and not a cloud was anywhere to be seen.
It was the type of morning that made both young and old feel glad to be
alive and Xena noticed none of it. She had been in the stables since
early that morning tending to Argo, who hadn't quite forgiven Xena for
ignoring her the day before. After finally placating the horse, she
headed to the tavern to see Hercules. As she walked in to the tavern,
she saw him there, eating breakfast with Iolaus. Xena walked over and
"It looks like the two of you are making yourselves right at home,"
Xena says to them, giving Hercules one of her rare but beautiful smiles.
Hercules gives her one of his own smiles in return.
"We were just waiting for you and Gabrielle." Looking around he
notices that Xena is alone. "Where is she by the way?"
"After the shocks of yesterday, I thought it best if she just
rested," Xena explained. "Besides with all the pent up hostility between
her and her sister, I thought that Becky might be more willing to talk
without her around."
"I still can't believe that Becky and Gabrielle are sisters," a
still awed Iolaus says. "The two of them are so different. They don't
even look look one another."
"Well they are, so I guess we better get used to it," Xena says
going over to Iolaus. "If it makes you feel any better, I didn't know
she had another sister. Gabrielle never mentioned her before." Iolaus
just looks at Xena and does something she never thought he'd do. He
smiled at her.
"Thanks Xena. It makes me feel a little better that I'm not the
only one she kept secrets from."
Hercules just looks at the two most important people in his life,
glad that they are starting to put the past behind them. "Who knows," he
thought, "they might actually become friends."
"I hate breaking up this mushy stuff, but if we want to talk to
Becky, I think she's up in her room." Iolaus just grins at Hercules,
while Xena just gives him a look that says "Just wait until later"
Iolaus leads the two of them up the stairs and down the hall to
Becky's room. When they get to the end, Xena sees a door that is
partially open. Iolaus knocks on the door. "Becky, it's me. I have
Hercules and Xena with me. We were wondering if we could come in."
"Come on in." The trio walk into a richly decorated room. There
were curtains made of a rich blue material covering the windows and it
was decorated in a variety of colors. Somehow the room seemed to fit
Becky. "I'll be right with you," came the reply from the other room.
"Becky," Xena started, "we came here to talk about Deanlu."
"I know Xena," Becky said coming from the other room. Like
yesterday she was dressed in a strange dress, this one made of red silk.
Xena began to wonder where she had bought such exotic clothing. "We
never finished the story last night."
There seemed to be an air of tension radiating from the two woman,
Hercules noted. It wasn't hate or even dislike, but more like they
couldn't figure out how much they should trust each other. Hercules
decided to try to ease it a little.
"Becky, you now I've heard many of the stories about Deanlu, but
I've never heard the whole thing. You are the best storyteller in town,
so it's only natural that we would want to hear about her from you."
Deanlu nods to Hercules in appreciation and she takes a seat on an
oversized chair. She then nods for the others to do the same.
"Well it began about three years age, around the time my husband
"The majority of men were still in Troy trying to help the Trojans.
Unfortunately, that left the village somewhat unprotected and the
vultures began to circle. The first being your old enemy Cortese. He
came almost as soon as the men left. He took all he could carry and then
tried to burn everything else. But even the fact that we had nothing
left, kept the others away. They came one right after the other.
Finally after about six months of this, Draco showed up. It was winter
and he was looking for a place for his men to stay warm and have some fun
before the upcoming battles he would be leading them into, and he thought
our village, with nothing more than women and some old men and children,
would be the perfect spot. We didn't go easily, but there were more of
them, so we ended up surrendering anyway
"Suddenly, a beautiful woman rode into town. She was all in white
and was riding a gorgeous white stallion. The men were awed by the sight
of her riding into an obviously dangerous situation without a trace of
fear. She didn't appear to even notice that her life might have been in
danger. She didn't have any weapons that they could see and they
wondered where she had come from. She was brought before Draco, who
appraised the woman and he liked what he saw.
""My name is Deanlu," the woman said. "I have been sent by the
Goddess Athena as protector of this village. Anyone who dares defy me,
defies Athena and shall be punished."
"Of course Draco just laughed at her. He wasn't afraid of such an
obviously frail woman, even if she was indeed sent by Athena. He was one
of Ares best soldiers and he knew that he had that god on his side.
"Ares will not help you this time Draco. He will respect Athena's
authority over this village and will allow her to do what she will on
those of his soldiers rebel against her."
"Even with this pronouncement, Draco wasn't afraid. He didn't
believe that Ares would abandon him in favor of this puny woman. He
ordered her arrested and brought to his chambers for her punishment. He
watched as the soldiers approached the woman. No one saw where the sword
came from, it was just suddenly in her hands. The first soldier went
down, not even knowing what hit him, and the second quickly followed. At
this point, the other warriors that were in the room had realized that
their formerly easy prey was now armed with a sword and not afraid to use
it. They circled her, as if they were stalking a bear. She kept moving
making sure that she wasn't always in one place for such a time that she
fell victim easily. Suddenly two men, one on either side of her, ran
toward her. She jumped in the air at just the right moment, and
delivered a split kick that rendered them both unconscious. That was the
moment the others had been waiting for. They rushed her all at once and
what had been a circle was now reduced to a confusing mass of humans in
battle. We couldn't see Deanlu and we feared for the brave woman's fate,
when suddenly the men went flying out of the pile as one. Deanlu was
left alone standing there. She walked up to Draco with her sword held
high to his throat.
""Now Draco, are you willing to obey Athena and leave this village
in peace or shall I give you another demonstration of her power?" Draco's
men were already starting to scurry from the tavern like scared rabbits.
Draco looked at his men scornfully and stood up. "You may have won this
battle, woman," he said, "but I shall be back."
""Not unless you have a death wish," was all Deanlu said. Draco
then followed his men out the door and left that day. He has respected
Athena's wishes and not returned. The villagers thanked Deanlu and
offered her anything that she liked, even though they didn't have much
themselves. "I want you to continue living. This village will be
protected. You have nothing to fear any longer. Your husbands and sons
will be returning in a day or two, so you shall be able to start
rebuilding. All I want is for you to live your lives. When you are in
trouble, I shall return to help you." Deanlu then turned and she climbed
onto her horse. Some of the children tried to follow her, but it is said
that she just disappeared into thin air, to return to Olympus and be by
her mistress' side.
"We needed her protection often those first few months after Draco
left, but soon word spread about Deanlu and how she defeated the armies
that attacked and we were left alone. The village flourished and now we
are once again the envy of many of the neighboring villages."
"That's an amazing story Becky. Have you figured out who Deanlu is
or where she really came from?" asked Hercules.
"At first we did, but now we no longer question her presence in our
lives," was Becky's answer.
"I would like to talk to Deanlu, if it is possible," Xena said. "Is
there a way to get in contact with her?"
"We have not found one, although she has a way of being where you
least expect her. With this upcoming threat of Dancyer and Caryn, I'm
sure she will contact you." Becky states as she stands up. "Now if
you'll excuse me, I must get ready to open the tavern. My customers wait
for no one." Hercules, Xena and Iolaus stand to leave. "Iolaus will you
stay a minute? I'd like to talk to you."
Iolaus looks at Becky and remembers what he had just found out about
her and Gabrielle. "I think I better go with them" and he heads out the
door before he can see the hurt look on Becky's face
Outside Hercules says to his friend. "Why didn't you talk to her?
It's been awhile since you've seen her."
"Just drop it Herc, okay?" Iolaus says and walks ahead of them.
"I wonder what that's all about." Xena looks to Hercules for an
"Iolaus and Becky have had a relationship in the past, and I imagine
he is torn between her and Gabrielle. He is dealing with some
conflicts." Xena just nods her head in understanding and the two of them
run to catch up with Iolaus.
At the same time Xena and the others were meeting Becky, Gabrielle
finally began to stir. Although she has amazed Xena with her ability to
sleep through anything,
this was the first really deep sleep she has had in awhile. "Man I miss
sleeping in a real bed," Gabrielle muttered to herself as she dragged her
body out of bed and
over to the washbasin to clean for breakfast. Her stomach started
growling as soon as the first smells reached her nose. She smelled fresh
baked nutbread, eggs, and
honey cakes. "Mmm, that smells delicious," Gabrielle says to herself as
her stomach continues to growl. There's a knock on the door.
"Gabrielle are you awake?" Amber asks through the door.
"Come on in," Gabrielle replies. Amber walks into the bedroom
carrying a tray full of food. When she sees Gabrielle up and around, she
smiles at the girl. She puts
the tray down on one of the tables in the room. Gabrielle eyes the food
like a man who hasn't eaten in days.
"How are you feeling today? I hope you've recovered from the shocks
of yesterday. You had quite an eventful one."
"I've recovered from most of it," Gabrielle says, still looking at
the tray. She can almost taste the food there. She then forces herself
to look at Amber. "You
didn't really have to bring me breakfast. I was about to come down."
"Nonsense, what you need now is some good old-fashioned pampering,"
Amber states while leading Gabrielle over to the table. "You've had a
lot to absorb since yesterday
and, besides, I feel partially responsible, because of Scauwen. Becky
had commented on the resemblance when she first saw him, but I didn't
even think about it." When she
sees Gabrielle about to protest that she couldn't have known, Amber
continues. "Hush now child and eat. You need to rebuild your strength
if you are going to be of any use
to your friends."
Amber seats Gabrielle in the chair, "You can come downstairs when
you are through. Xena told me how much you can eat, so I expect that
whole tray to be empty when you
bring it down with you." Amber leaves Gabrielle alone in the room. She
quickly starts eating and is surprised at how good it is. She didn't
doubt that Amber could cook,
with four kids she had to, but Gabrielle was surprised at how good. She
quickly devoured her food and finished getting dressed. She went
downstairs and found Amber in the
kitchen. No one else was around.
"Where is everyone? Xena, Stella, Scauwen?"
"Well Xena went into town to talk to Becky." When Gabrielle starts
for the door, Amber heads her off. "Wait a minute Gabrielle. She
thought it would be easier for the
both of you if Xena went alone, and I agreed." Finally Gabrielle stops
trying to pull away and sits down. Amber continues, "The children,
except for Stella, are in school.
As for Scauwen, he took Stella with him into town to do some shopping for
me. They should be back shortly. Are you sure you are ready to see him?"
Gabrielle nods her head yes and then begins to look around the
kitchen. It has a homey feeling to it but, she can see underneath the
breakfast dishes that Amber keeps it
immaculate. As Amber hustles around the kitchen cleaning up, Gabrielle
become more uncomfortable just sitting there.
"Can I help you with anything? I feel bad just sitting here and not
helping after all you've done for me. There must be some way I can repay
you for you hospitality."
"I don't want you to do a thing," admonishes Amber. "I want you to
rest and regain your strength. You should never have gone out last
night. You were in no condition."
As Amber continues to fuss over her, Gabrielle begins to relax.
She's missed having her mother around and it makes her feel safe. Amber
notices Gabrielle relaxing and is
pleased. "That's one step toward recover" the woman thought to herself.
"Now if only I could find a way to get her to discuss her sister." Amber
worked in silence for awhile
trying to think of a way to bring up the subject. She was startled when
Gabrielle brought it up herself.
"I guess you're wondering why I reacted so strongly to seeing my
sister." Amber merely nodded her head, but she sat down in one of the
other chairs in the kitchen. Gabrielle took this as a sign to continue.
"I don't know how much about our family Becky has told you, but she
didn't exactly have the best relationship with our parents. She did
everything that they told her not to do and they had no idea what to do
"When I was younger, I never noticed the hostility between them, and
I don't think I would have cared. I loved Becky. She would sit and tell
me stories for hours and she had
the patience to answer all of my questions. As I got older, I started to
notice how my parents treated her. At that point, I had started to go
with her and some of the older kids
when they would go on adventures through the countryside. Whenever we
came home, though, they would always yell at her for taking me along.
They didn't seem to mind that she went, it was that they didn't want me
to go too.
"I always hated those fights. I blamed myself for Becky getting in
trouble. Lilla wasn't like us. She always stayed with mother and she
never got into trouble, so I thought that if I spent more time with
mother also and less with Becky, then maybe they wouldn't yell at her
anymore. It didn't work. I think Becky thought I was choosing them over
her. I think that's why she started going against our parents even more
and it got to the point where they didn't even care what she did. When
Becky would disappear for days, I got so scared that I would sleep in
her bed. I was afraid something terrible had happened to her and my
parents just acted as if nothing was wrong. When she returned, I would
sit with her for hours listening to her describe the places she had been
to and the people she had seen, just to be sure that it really was my
Becky. Soon my mother forbid even my listening to Becky and I was too
afraid that if I didn't listen to them, they would make Becky go away
forever. And, again, I think she took that as a betrayal, because she
began to act differently toward me. She never tried to talk to me. She
wouldn't even acknowledge my presence and it hurt."
Gabrielle stopped to take a breath. She had never told anyone what she
was now telling Amber. There was something about her that just made
Gabrielle feel comfortable. For her part, Amber just listened and
nodded her head when she thought that Gabrielle might need a little
encouragement. When she stopped, Amber got up and poured herself and
Gabrielle a glass of water. She had known most of the story from Becky,
but she wanted to hear Gabrielle's side of things. Both because she knew
it would help the girl and ,also, in the long run, she wanted to try to
get the two sisters together again.
"What happened between the two of you that finally drove you apart?
Amber gently asked Gabrielle, hoping that she was ready to talk about it.
"An army came through town. They were only interested in spending
the night, but the town elders wouldn't allow it. That night Becky snuck
out, like usual, and brought them some food and drink. When she got in
the next morning, our parents were furious with her. My father even went
so far as to hit her, he had never done anything like that before or
since. She ran into her room and I followed her. I had been so scared
that something had happened to her, but now I was angry at her for what
she had done. It was one thing to disobey our parents, but it was
something else to defy the town leaders. I said some things that I wish
I hadn't and I think that is why she left, because when I went back to
apologize, her things were gone. I went to the place where the soldiers
had camped, but they were already gone. I haven't seen or heard from
Becky since. It's all my fault that she ran away," Gabrielle says looking
at Amber with teardrops running down her face. "If I hadn't said what I
did, she never would have left. I didn't mean any of it."
Amber's heart goes out to Gabrielle. She goes over to her and tries to
soothe the hurt that she is going through. "There,there. It wasn't your
fault. The fates meant for her to leave, so that she could find her
destiny. Just like they meant for your village to be attacked when Xena
was going by. Everything has a purpose and you must never question it."
This seems to calm her down.
"Is it okay to come in, or would you prefer I wait out here."
Scauwen asks from the doorway. He had seen the interaction between his
sister and their guest and he didn't want to interrupt.
"Come on in dear brother." Standing up, but still looking at
Gabrielle. "That talk may have help you deal with that particular
problem, but you still have to confront Becky, but not right now.
Scauwen, why don't you show Gabrielle around the property. I think she
could use the fresh air."
"Whatever you say sis," Scauwen says, handing the bags of food over
to Amber, "If you want Stella, she's over at Jana's house playing with
the kids. Come on Gabrielle you'll love it."
Gabrielle stands and gives Amber a hug. "Thanks" she whispers in
her ear and then joins the man who resembles her husband so much. "I'm
ready when you are."
When Gabrielle and Scauwen are gone, Amber finishes her chores, but
she can't keep her mind off of Gabrielle. "That girl has been through so
much, Athena. I hope she doesn't have much more to deal with."
"And over there is the place where I'm planning on building our
home," Scauwen tells Gabrielle pointing to a piece of land about 50 yards
from where they are standing. "It'll have a great view of the hills and
also of the village down below. Lasha wants a big house with lots of
room for kids."
"It'll be lovely Scauwen. I'm sure the two of you will be very
happy," Gabrielle says and then turns away. She doesn't want him to see
the tears that had begun to stream down her face thinking of what might
have been. She looks toward the village and remembers when she first
fell in love with Perdicus and all their hopes and dreams. Scauwen
understands why Gabrielle won't look at him and he gives her time to
compose herself. When it appears that she has regained control of her
emotions, he takes her arm and leads her back toward the house.
"You know, Lasha is looking forward to meeting you. Out of everyone
in the town, she is the closest to Becky." Gabrielle stops and stares at
Scauwen and he feels compelled to tell her about Lasha's relationship
with Becky and he hoped that Lasha wouldn't mind. "Lasha's mother died
in childbirth, leaving her alone with only her father. He never
remarried, nor did they have any other family, so it was always just the
two of them. When the men in the village went to fight in the Trojan War
for a few months, it left both Lasha and Becky alone so, naturally, they
grew close. Becky had Lasha move into one of the rooms above the tavern
and they became as close as sisters. When the men finally made it back,
only two had not survived, Becky's husband and Lasha's father."
Gabrielle gasped. She didn't realize that her sister had gone through
the pain of losing someone she cared so much about. To find out that she
probably understood the pain that Gabrielle had gone through was
something that she didn't expect. Scauwen continued.
"Lasha was devastated. Her father was all that she had and it
nearly killed her when he didn't return with the others. If it wasn't
for Becky, I don't think she would have survived. Becky put all her
being in to helping Lasha move on with her life, and that allowed Becky
forget her own pain of loss. Becky didn't have time to grieve and that
is how she preferred it. She's become the closest thing to a mother that
Lasha's ever known. I had even asked her permission for Lasha's hand in
Gabrielle doesn't know what to say. She had always imagined that
Becky was traveling the country, much like herself and Xena. She never
imagined that Becky would have settled down and gotten married. Becky
never was the stay at home type and she wondered about what or, more
specifically, who had changed her sister. She wished that she had a
chance to meet the man that Becky had married. He must have been someone
very special."he said as much to Scauwen.
"I never thought that Becky would ever settle down. I always saw her
as a travelling bard. Always finding adventure and never staying in one
"Oh, don't get me wrong. Your sister travels quite a bit. In fact,
she just got back from Athens two days before you arrived. When she
first married Lald, the two of them were inseparable. She went everywhere
with him. And when the time came for him to go to battle, she was by his
side. It's one of the things that he loved about her, her fearlessness.
She never showed any hint of being scared, even in the heat of battle.
And, boy, could she take care of herself. She was never a hindrance to
the men fighting. If anything, she was an asset."
Gabrielle smiled. That sounded like the Becky she knew. One that
never let anyone, or anything, stand in her way. As they came into view
of Amber's home, Gabrielle could see Xena talking with Hercules and
Iolaus in the front yard. Iolaus was the first to see them coming down
the hill and he frowned at how close the two apparently were. His frown,
though, quickly turned into a grin so wide you could drive a chariot
through it, because as soon as Gabrielle saw him, she ran to him and
jumped into his welcoming arms.
"Well this is an unexpected and pleasant change from last night,"
Iolaus said, not letting her go. "What did I do to deserve this kind of
welcome? Tell me so I can keep on doing it."
"You're here and that's all the reason I need," Gabrielle said
happily and meant it. Now that she had purged herself of her feelings of
guilt over her sister's leaving, Gabrielle felt alive and free. She
hadn't realized how much those feelings had weighed her down. Xena
couldn't believe the change that had come over her friend. Where was the
weak, young girl that could barely stand up only last night? Instead
there was this vibrant young woman in the arms of a man she cares deeply
about. Xena nodded her head in approval.
"I told you a bit of fresh air would do you good," Amber says as she
comes out of the house. "You're feeling better already." She turns to
Scauwen, " Lasha's in the house waiting for you." He heads indoors to
Xena is curious about the change in Gabrielle. "Gabrielle, what
happened? I haven't seen you like this in a long time."
"I wouldn't know where to begin Xena. Let's just say I've come to
terms with my past."
"I'm glad to hear that Gabrielle," comes a voice from behind. "I
wasn't sure if you were ready to deal with it just yet." Turning to
Xena, "Xena, I believe you were looking for me."
The group turns to face the newcomer and are startled to see Deanlu
standing there. She is in the same outfit as the night before. Hercules
and Iolaus just stand there dumbfounded. They had never seen anyone like
her and they are stunned by her beauty.
"Deanlu, how did you know that we wanted to talk to you and how did
you manage to sneak up on us," Xena asked as she and Gabrielle hit the
two men out of their trances. a little harder than they had to.
"I have my ways Xena, but it doesn't matter. I also wished to speak
to you about the upcoming threat. Knowing Dancyer and Caryn, they will
not heed my warnings and are preparing to attack as we speak. I can
normally handle an attack on my own, but if the boy's count is indeed
accurate, there may be more than I can deal with this time and I will
need your help."
"Why don"t I leave the group of you alone. I promised Jana that I
would come over today and now seems like a good time." Amber turns away
from the group and heads down the road toward her neighbor's home.
Deanlu watches as Amber leaves and then she turns to face the
others. "That woman amazes me," shaking her head. "She's an excellent
warrior, but she knows enough about battle that she prefers staying on
the sidelines. She'll fight when forced to, but would rather find
"Deanlu, there's a few things that I would like to know," Xena
states. There are quite a number of questions still unanswered and Xena
doesn't feel comfortable with that. The foremost on her mind is why
Athena had sent her to protect this village.
"I know Xena, but not right now. Your questions will be answered, I
assure you, but Caryn and Dancyer area more immediate problem. Let's go
talk to the boy, Bernard is his name. We will need to find some things
out from him if we are going to defeat them." Deanlu starts walking
toward the road. Xena , seeing that Deanlu had once again avoided
answering her questions, follows but is somewhat wary. "Why won't Deanlu
talk? Is there something more going on than meets the eye?" she thinks
to herself. Up ahead, Hercules is trying to find out more about Deanlu
with no success.
"So, Deanlu, why is it that my dear sister has never told me about you?"
"Do your siblings ever tell you everything Hercules. Perhaps she
felt that you didn't need to know." He felt the sting of truth in that
statement and it bothered him. This woman knew so much about them, even
Hercules and Iolaus, but they knew so little about her. "No wonder Xena
is still so cautious around her," Hercules said to himself. "Deanlu
certainly seems to be hiding something."
They continued that way, with Hercules and Iolaus near Deanlu and
Xena and Gabrielle trailing behind. As they reached what appeared to be
a very prosperous farm, Deanlu shouts, "KeeWee, Greenmt are you
around?" The two women answer from one of the fields.
As the group grows closer, Xena notices the wide variety of crops
that are growing. In one section, it appears to be grains of some sort,
in another there are vegetables, and the one they are walking through has
different kinds of fruits, like berries and apples. Gabrielle, hungry as
usual, grabs an apple and looks around to see if anyone noticed. Of
course, they all did, but no one says anything to her. She bit into it
and found that it was as juicy and sweet as anything she had ever had.
"This has to be one of the best apples I've ever tasted" she thought and
took another big bite.
"I see the harvest is coming along well," Deanlu said as they got
close to the sisters. They smile and look around the farm, showing that
they were indeed pleased with it. "We've come to talk to Bernard. There
are a few things we need to find out."
"He's over in the barn. We just bought a new horse and he is trying
to break him in," KeeWee said. "That boy just took to his chores like he
was a natural," added Greenmt.
The five of them left the sisters to their farming and walked over
to the barn. Inside, they found Bernard looking very different than the
night before. He was cleaned up and in peasant clothing and they found
that Greenmt was right. He did indeed look like he was born to be a
farmer. When he saw Deanlu, he stood up.
"I had a feeling you would come. You want to talk about the attack,
"We need to know details of where they are planning on coming from
and how many men," Xena broke in before Deanlu had a chance to answer.
"I don't know anything about their plans. Dancyer and Caryn always
keep the plans to themselves and their captains until the time comes, to
prevent any spies from finding out. I wasn't exaggerating last night,
though, when I said that were about 75 to 100 men in their army. It's
one of the reasons that they chose to attack. They had heard about
Deanlu and know that no one will oppose them if they can take Phoenicia."
"It makes sense, but I guess they didn't count on my getting help
this time." Deanlu thinks a minute about what they could possibly plan.
"Bernard do you know of any weaknesses that they might have?"
"Yes. There are a few men that are not as loyal as they should be.
They are in it, because they felt they should be. They are young, like
me, and they didn't know any better. Before they could change their
minds though, it was to late and they could get out. They will run it
the opposition is to strong."
"Well, I think that they are the ones that we are going to have to
find first. I'm going to head over to their camp and see if I can try to
talk some sense into Caryn and Dancyer. I doubt it will work, but at
least it will give me an insight on what they might be planning."
"They won't let you anywhere near that camp. They'll kill you on
sight," Hercules said. "You should at least take one of us along with you."
"Hercules, I'm a big girl and I have a few tricks up my sleeve that
you don't know about, and neither do they. I'll be in the camp before
they even know it." Deanlu turns and walks out the barn. The others run
after her to try to get her to change her mind, but when they get outside
she is gone.
"Man, I have to learn how she does that," an awed Gabrielle says.
The others just stand there.
The camp is bustling with anticipation. They are only a day's ride
from Phoenicia and the men are preparing for the attack. The aren't sure
yet how it will begin, but the are sure that victory will be quick. To
the side is a group of about fifteen men. These are the men who were in
the raiding party the night before. They had come into camp earlier
looking ragged and when the others had heard how they had been defeated
by a woman, they had been ostracized. Their only hope was that they
could redeem themselves in the upcoming battle. They made no mention of
the boy who had stayed behind.
The biggest tent in the camp was home to a meeting of the minds.
Dancyer McCoy and Caryn the Tigress were gathered with the captains of
their army and were discussing strategy for the pending battle.
"Now, Misto, I want you to take your men to the northern part of
town. It is mainly farmland,"the shorter of the two said. She is blond
and has a strong physique. "It is sparsely populated and should be easy
to handle. I want you to destroy everything in sight. Crops, buildings,
"As that is being done," the other woman, Dancyer, joined in,"I
want you, Cathbad, to take your men....."
"Well I see you didn't take my warning seriously. Why did I have a
feeling you wouldn't?"
The warriors turned quickly and were surprised to see Deanlu
standing in the entrance of the tent. At her feet was the guard who had
been on watch. She stepped over his inert body and into the tent. The
captains reflexively drew their swords and prepared to attack if their
leaders signalled them to. That signal never came. Deanlu did not
prepare herself for attack. She just motioned toward the men, R"Tell them
to go Caryn. I didn't come here for a fight, but you know I'm always
willing to oblige." Dancyer and Caryn signalled for their men to put
away their swords and leave. The men do so reluctantly.
"How did you get past our men outside?" Caryn asks as soon as they
are left alone. "I can understand one or two, but nor seventy-eight."
Deanlu just shakes her head. "Now Caryn, you should know by now
that I have my ways. My question to you, though, is what are you doing
"That should be obvious, even to a goody good like you," Dancyer
says. "This village is ripe for the picking. With it's food and
merchandise it will make a fine addition to our domain."
"Even you can't stop all our men," Caryn adds.
"Dancyer we have never met in battle, so I don't expect you to
realize just what you are about to get into but, Caryn, you and I have
met before. I'm surprised that you are so willing to be defeated again."
"Please spare us your talk Deanlu," Caryn sneers. "There is no way
you can defeat this many men by yourself."