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Shadow of The Past
Gabrielle looked around the hot, crowded tavern area of the inn. She was having much fun telling all of her stories and this was a great way to perform, especially since she thrived on the attention! And she was receiving plenty from this particular audience. In fact this was her best one yet! ( besides Xena, who was always appreciative of ANYTHING that the little bard had to say). She spotted Xena in the back of the room and waltzed over to her in the very upbeat and cheerful way that matched how she felt. She was having a great time, and despite the fact that these people were chanting her name and begging for more, she decided it was time to take a break and go spend a minute with her best friend who was more than likely sipping an ale and watching quietly. Xena grinned up at her as Gabrielle approached.
"Having fun?" the warrior asked smiling as she took another sip of her third ale of the night.
"Why not!?!" Gabrielle laughed at her friendís words, knowing that the lengthy story-telling session was sure to bring them a LOAD of dinars by the time Gabrielle was done.
The crowd roared again as Gabrielle gave Xena an excited glance and rushed back onto the stage. In a thunder of clapping and cheering, the crowd went wild and then silent as Gabrielle started yet another of her wonderful stories that the town loved so much.
Xena smiled to herself at her table in the back of the extremely overcrowded place. Gabrielle must be better than I thought, she mused to no one but her fifth ale. She took another slow sip as she watched Gabrielle moving about and telling of their adventures. The one part of a Gabrielle story that Xena thought awkward though, was how Gabrielle always made her look like a goddess to her audience. If anyone deserved that kind of praise, Xena thought, it should be Gabrielle. After all, she was the one who was able to accomplish anything with her words. Xena took another sip and finished her ale. She was content with the fact that she had such a great best friend and with that thought, she listened intently.
Ares giggled at himself in his corner table. He wasnít Ares tonight though, for now he was just a nameless, faceless old mortal who loved a good story. Too bad itís a lie, he scoffed to himself. My plan is perfect though, he laughed again. Put the poison in her ale and then BOOM sheíll be straight back into my fold, even better than before though, he laughed some more as he walked up to the bar nonchalantly and poured the foul poison into what would obviously become Xenaís next drink. He watched it bubble and hiss, only stopping after he stirred it into her drink where it disappeared without a trace. Gloating and wallowing in self-loving, he watched the barmaid place the tainted ale on Xenaís table and he smiled in pure delight as he saw her drink it. I win, he thought gleefully.
a couple of hours later. . . . . .
Gabrielle arrived at the table beaming and in possesion of a huge bag of dinars that went up to her knees. The last of the crowd had already departed and now it was time for Xena and herself to get some rest, especially after the long battle scarcely a day earlier.
Gabrielle noticed six empty mugs on the table and then she glanced at Xena who seemed a bit flushed. Gabrielle was instantly worried that Xena was drunk and she would have to deal with it and now Gabrielle was a little panicky as to how she would get Xena upstairs to their room, her fears were confirmed when Xena spoke to her.
"W-wha u wha fr mee?"
Xena was obviously drunk, but only a few ales had done it! Gabby wondered why it had occured. Especially since Xena NEVER got drunk. She sighed and just hoped Xena could make it to their room. She would be awfully tough for Gabrielle to lug up there all by herself.
Gabrielle smiled at her drunken friend, " Xena, would ya look at all these Dinars I made for us! Thisíll keep us fed for months!!! Oh and did you hear the clapping? They really love me here donít you . . . . ." She was cut off by Xena.
"Gabrel Iím tyred gnite.", with that Xena yawned and passed out on the table her head hitting the wood with a dull thud.
Gabrielle sighed and struggled with the dead weight of Xena and ALL of her armor and weapons and what a struggle it was. She had gotten Xena to the stairs when an old man walked over from the corner.
"Need some help girlie?"he grinned a toothless grin.
"That would be nice, thank you.", Gabrielle said to the nice old man. " Just donít call me girlie okay?"
He laughed at her but none-the-less helped her to drag the warrior up to the room and into her bed wher she lay, unconscious. The old man then just walked away and when he was halfway to the stairs, Gabrielle spoke.
"Thanks a lot!" she smiled but he didnít turn around, he just kept walking.
He was descending the stairs and Gabrielle was shutting the door when he yelled up to her, "No, thank you!".
Gabrielle thought it strange but decided just to sleep and within minutes she was in her bed next to Xenaís and was doing just that.
The next day, when Gabrielle awoke, Xena was still asleep, which was wierd because Xena was almost always up with the sun. Something was odd, but Gabrielle decided to let it go, seeing as they had fought in a big battle just a couple of days before. Then Gabrielle just got dressed and went downstairs for a few hours reurning every so often to check on her friend who was still asleep, leaving a tense and jumpy and not to mention worried Gabrielle, downstairs.
Finally she could stand it no longer so around sunset, she went upstairs and tried to ease her mind. Shaking her friend, Gabby practically shouted in an attempt to rouse Xena from her unusual slumber.
"Xena, Xeeeenaaaa. Címon itís time to wake up. Youíve been sleeping all day for gods sakes. Xena, wake up! Iím worried about you Xena. Rise and shine sleepy-head."
Gabrielleís last words were met with a stiff, hard backhand, a hit that caught Gabrielle off-guard and sent her head-first into the wall, as Xena woke up.
Xena jumped out of bed and grabbed Gabrielleís wrists, pulling her up to eye level.
"WHO ARE YOU, AND WHEREíS MY ARMY?" Xena growled at Gabrielle who was in complete shock.
"What army, Xena, what is happening to you?", Gabrielle was angered and scared and pulled away from the angry warrior.
"HOW DO YOU KNOW MY NAME AND WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT
YOU FOOL!!!"Xena approached Gabrielle menacingly.
"I d-donít know Xena. But why are you acting this way? Itís me Gabrielle remember? Xena youíre scaring me!" Gabrielle backed in front of the door, blocking it.
"ENOUGH WITH YOU!!! IíM GOING TO FIND MY ARMY AND WHEN I DO THIS WHOLE DAMNED VILLAGE IS GONNA PAY!!!! DO YOU HEAR ME?!!!"
"Xena, s-stop, n-no donít go outside!!!! You have no army, and you have amnesia from all of that ale last night!" with that Gabrielle dellibrately blocked Xenaís way now.
" GET OUT OF MY WAY WOMAN!!! I AM SICK OF YOU ALREADY!!! FOR THAT, YOU WILL BE THE FIRST TO DIE WHEN I GET MY ARMY BACK!!!" with that, Xena pushed Gabrielle out of the way and ran downstairs and out the door in a fury.
Gabrielle stood shocked for a minute and then decided to follow Xena to wherever she was going. Gabrielle knew this wasnít the real Xena, her best friend in the whole world, but right now she had to protect others from this. . . this . . . warlord. Gabrielle came to the conclusion of what Xena had become overnight, but her one question left unanswered was why? Oh well, Iíll have time for that later she figured as she rushed to the stables to follow Xena.
Gabrielle got outside in time to see Xena flip onto the nearest horse with an IYIYIYIYIYI and ride off. Gabrielle then quickly untied and mounted Argo riding quickly down the narrow path in a mad pursuit of Xena, despit the fact that she was weary of horses, she knew this was the only way to keep up, but it was no use. The sun had now set and Gabrielle not being an experienced rider had lost track of Xena within a half an hour. Gabrielle vowed not to give up though, and rode at a trot down the dark path, in search of tracks that she knew she would not see. Finally about two-hours later, she came across a woman laying in the road sobbing. Gabrielle stopped Argo and unsteadily dismounted nearly falling off as she reached the ground.
"What happened to you?" Gabrielle asked the woman hoping it was not what her heart told her was true.
The woman stood up and clutched a sword wound in her chest. Gabrielle gasped and the woman choked out her dying sentence," A warrior woman raided my village, there is nothing left, she just came and and. . . .", Gabrielle held the woman from falling as she then choked out blood and passed on to the Elyssian Fields. Gabrielle set the woman down on the ground and remounted Argo, who broke into a slow trot down the path.
Within minutes she was in the outskirts of a shattered village. Women lay in the streets crying over the bodies of their husbands, slain children lay in piles on the sides of the road, only a handful of people had survived the horrible attack. The burned village was nothing now, if not for the fires and bodies, all it would be is smoke and ashes.
The sights she saw there, all the sadness and grief, and the worry she felt for Xena, was overwhelming Gabrielle. But instead of drowning in it, she gained the strength to do what was neccessary. Injure Xena and stop her from causing more pain than she had already. As she rode slowly out of the destruction, she realized that she had finally met the Xena of a time long past. She shed a few tears as she rode on and wondered if Her Xena, her best friend in the world, her sister, would ever return.
It was not until mid-day the next day that she reached the next village after riding all through the night in search of Xena. As she approached, she could hear the sounds of a vicious fight going on, a one-woman fight. . . XENA! It hit her all of a sudden and hoping to the gods that she could somehow stop it all, she readied her dagger that she found in Xenaís bag and prayed that she had arrived in time to take Xena out.
As Gabrielle made it into a small clearing near the village, she caught a glimpse of Xena on the other side. Riding as hard as she could, Gabrielle made it to Xena and dismounted Argo.
"STOP!!!! XENA STOP!!! Please donít do this to them!!! What have they done to deserve it? This is not you!!!! You fight for the good now, you help people and you stop warlords from harming them!!!!! XENA!!!!" Gabrielle was on the verge of tears, not wanting to hurt Xena or be killed, she tried to use reason to her advantage. . . it failed.
"YOU RETURN!!!" Xena sneered and lifted her sword to Gabrielleís throat. "Would you like your death to be swift and painless, or slow and agonizing?"
"X-xena donít make me do this!" Gabrielle lifted the dagger for Xena to see.
"Do what?" she grinned evilly. " Too late. . . you DIE!!!!!" she laughed as she raised her sword above Gabrielle. But before she could do anything, she was pulled by some force to thrust her sword into the ground and fall backwards. All of the townspeople had stopped running in their tracks and turned to face a glowing blue light that changed into Athena!!!!
"Xena! Look around you, this isnít your doing. Such destruction never was. A trick has been played on you. A purely evil trick that he will pay for!!!!."
All watched as the goddess pointed to an old man in the crowd who immediately turned into Ares!!
"Oh dear sister, you are good, so very good. But how will you cure her from my poison hmmm? Oh sure, the poison will wear off....but itís affects will last a lifetime."he smiled at his last word.
"Donít forget whoís older brother!!! You know she is in MY power and Zeus will punish you severely for intervening with me!!!" she glared at him harshly. "Now go away and leave these two alone for all eternity or Iíll kill all of your precious warlords and soldiers! Do you understand me? Now leave and Iíll hold court with you later. Other things await me right now. And I PROMISE I will kill them all if you disobey me!!!!" she glowered even more at him.
"Blah blah blah..." Ares snickered as he faded away. He knew she would do it if he didnít listen so he decided it best to wait for her at Olympus. Wait until Solan is grown, He might be a soul worth cultivating...he might even grow to be worthy enough of leading my army!!!" Ares smiled to himself as he disappeared from sight.
"Xena, you are cured of this ailment." Athena blew on Xena and the town watched as Xena shook herself off and looked around in horror and disbelief at the sights which were before her. Gabrielle was so relieved by Athena appearing that she barely noticed the fight beyween god and goddess. She stared questioningly at Xena, who appeared to be normal again. Her stare was met with grief.
Athena glared up at the sky and disappeared as she had now done her task. "Help her through it!" her voice whispered to Gabrielle as no trace was left of the goddess even appearing.
Xena grabbed Argoís reins and ran off, leaving a stunned Gabrielle behind with in the town. Gabrielle decided to give Xena some time to think about it all and so she didnít follow Xenaís tracks until dark.
Xena stared into her campfire, watching the flames dance around violently as she thought a bit about what had happened. She remembered the pub and Gabby telling stories and then everything had gone black. Finally after a day or so she guessed, she woke up in a field, surrounded by the carnage that she thought she had left behind and Athena was there and Gabrielle too and Gabrielle seemed so disgusted with Xena for it all. Xena knew she couldnít blame her either. A warlord again, but this time she had no control over it, she blacked out! Xena couldnít let Gabrielle be endangered by being near her. Especially since it was Aresí doing... if it was Ares. He would never give up now, after almost tasting victory. She couldnít let Gabrielle be at risk. No, not with him around. Xena shed a tear, she would miss her friend so much and yet leaving was the only way to protect her.
Suddenly she sprang up as she heard a rustling in the bushes. Grabbing her sword, she prepared to attack lest it be a thug or intruder. The rustling stopped, followed by a silence and then Gabrielle stepped into the campsite.
"Gabrielle! Go away. I am dangerous, I could black out at any time and then...."
"Xena, you were poisoned. Ares wanted to try one last time to win you back and he failed."
"But Gabrielle, no matter what I do, heís gonna keep trying for all eternity." Xena backed away as she noticed the huge bruise on Gabrielleís face. " D-did I do that!"
"No" Gabrielle said. "It was some ex-warlord who thinks she still has bloodlust locked up inside her."
"Oh Gabrielle, Iím so...so sorry!" Xena hugged her friend. Feeling sorry for something SHE didnít do.
"Xena, no need to apologize." she hugged Xena back."It wasnít you Xena. Why did you ride off like that today?"
"I saw you look at me...disgusted. Gabrielle, Iíve shamed you and myself. How can I make it up to those villagers?"
"Xena, I wasnít disgusted, I just hoped that it was my best friend in there again and not some merciless killer. And donít worry about it. Athena and Zeus are gonna work together and bring the villagers back."
"shh" Gabrielle said putting a finger to Xenaís lips. "Relax. You have nothing to worry about okay?"
"Oh Gabrielle Iím so glad I was wrong but what did happen?" they sat on a log near the fire.
"Well" Gabby smiled putting an arm around her friend"It all started while I was telling my stories that night in the inn......"
Xena interrupted Gabrielle, " and Gabrielle...remind me to give up ale!!!"
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