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A Past Remembered
By Anita Louise
Copyright 1997 LoisAnne@concentric.net
Gabrielle stood staring at the woman, while trying to hold back a smile. She was glad that Eponin had taken her advice. As darkness was settling on the land she had mentioned to the Amazon that they might get further if she didn't look so threatening.
The two of them had cautiously made it down to a farm house. They had watched the people coming and going. It was the clothes hanging on the line that drew Eponin's attention. While Gabrielle walked up to the door asking for directions, she would take what clothes she needed.
Now the woman had walked out from the foliage, she was dressed in a very plain dress. She should have looked every bit a village woman. That is except for the bow and arrows she carried on her back and the sword in its sheath attached to her side.
Eponin stopped and looked at the woman as she asked, "What's the matter, never seen a village woman before?"
Gabrielle bit her lip as she said, "It's not that, it's the artillery, never seen a village woman dress like that. I don't think you will get past the gates."
Eponin thought for a second and said, "You are probably right, I'll just be your..."
Gabrielle interrupted and said, "You will be my friend. Leave the weapons here, except for a knife. If you need anything else, I think we will find it in Athens."
Eponin had placed a small dagger between her breasts and Gabrielle replied,
"You'll pass, that is if you don't decide to toss the first person you see."
Eponin wiggled as she said, "Hate these things, but I guess I can stand it for a short time. Let's go." Gabrielle smiled as she ran to catch up to the woman. Eponin's stride was much like Xena's. She always had a hard time keeping up with the warrior.
Looking down at the city of Athens, they could see ships anchored in the bay. They all flew their flags proudly as Gabrielle said, "Have you ever been on one of them?"
Eponin replied, "Not me, I don't like that much water. Come on let's go."
Approaching the huge gate to the city, Gabrielle said, "Well, we are here, what now?"
A guard stepped out of the shadows and said, "Halt, who goes there."
Eponin doubled her fist as Gabrielle grabbed the woman's hand and said, "Just two very tired travelers, we are looking for a place to eat and rest for the night."
The man approached, eyeing them as he walked around the women. He stopped behind Eponin and said, "If you're not too tired, I'll be through with my shift in about twenty, sure would enjoy your company." He reached out and patted the woman on the derriere, as Eponin jabbed her elbow in the man's face. Turning she grabbed his hand and threw him to the ground. Eponin stood above him, her right foot on the man's throat as she said, "No one touches me like that."
He gasped as he stared at Gabrielle and then at her and said. "Sorry, my mistake, I didn't know you were already taken." Eponin's fist struck out knocking the man unconscious as Gabrielle grabbed her and said, Come on, let's get out of here. For someone that didn't want to have anyone notice them..."
Eponin looked up from behind the large wooden barrel she had been hiding behind. She glanced over at Gabrielle and said, "All right! I'm sorry, some things are hard to forget. We are in aren't we?"
Gabrielle leaned back against a wooden box and said, "I thought Xena had a temper. I don't think that guard really knew what hit him."
Eponin replied, "Well it's a sure thing when he wakes up, he will probably send troops out to look for us. Looks like I got us in a pack of trouble."
Gabrielle smiled and said, "Not anything I haven't even been in before. Actually it was worth it to see the look on his face. You know he actually thought you and I..."
"Didn't look like he could think past one thing to me. Tell me Princess, hat do we do now?"
Gabrielle replied, "First thing, we have to get you and me some new clothes."
The fog from the channel had swept into the city. Gabrielle shivered, the mist seemed colder, than she remembered. Eponin rubbed her eyes as she said, "That's what all this city living gets a person." She pointed toward the sky.
Gabrielle replied, "Can't see anything."
"That's what I mean, people burning wood to keep warm along with this fog and breeze, it's like a plague coming down on everything."
Gabrielle replied, "Let's get out of here, this stuff is making me nauseous."
"Not so much, what you said, but my eyes are burning."
The two women cautiously made it across the square to the end of the street. Gabrielle whispered, "Let's try the stable." Eponin reached out grabbing the Bard by her right arm and said, "Let me go first, after all, you are the Amazon Princess."
Gabrielle fumed, "My name is Gabrielle." Eponin ignored her and stealthily climbed over the corral fence. Gabrielle saw the woman's shadow as she entered the barn. Gabrielle followed and entered the building. Her mouth fell open when she saw the horse. She ran over, reached out and patted the animal as she said, "Savior, good to see you boy."
"You know the horse?"
Gabrielle turned to see Eponin standing behind her and said, "This is Savior, it's a long story but he's the horse Xena rode in on."
Eponin replied, "Well, I have some clothes for us, over there in the stall."
Gabrielle looked at the woman skeptically but followed her. She stopped, when she saw the two men passed out on the floor. "Eponin, what is this?"
The woman answered, "The smaller one is yours, I think you can wear his clothes."
Gabrielle replied, "You want me to undress him?"
Eponin had already began to remove her clothes as she said, "Only way I know of to get them off." Gabrielle watched her for a few minutes, then she set her staff down. And walked over to the young man that was soundly sleeping. She looked up at Eponin and asked, "What did you do to them?"
"Not to worry, they may have a headache when they awake but that's all. Of course they will also be a shade naked." Gabrielle closed her eyes and began to unbutton the man's shirt. Eponin reached over and grabbed her hand as she said, "Go sit down, I'll get the clothes for you."
Gabrielle started to object, then she stared at the man as she said, "All right, you will probably be better at it then me anyway."
As Eponin removed the clothes she called back, "Take yours off."
Gabrielle glanced around and walked into a stall and said, "Ok." It didn't take the Amazon long to walk over to the stall and hand Gabrielle the clothes. As Gabrielle reached out to take them Eponin said, "Thought you were married, didn't you ever take your husbands clothes off?"
Gabrielle replied, "It wasn't like that, I don't even talk to Xena about it."
Eponin laughed as she said, "What a shame, a woman like you should have someone."
Gabrielle was trying to pull the trim leather pants on, as she squirmed and said, "I do, I have Xena."
Eponin said, "Are you telling me that you and Xena do it?"
Gabrielle hesitated as she said, "Do it? Are you asking what I think?"
Eponin shrugged her shoulders and said, "Love one another."
Gabrielle had buttoned the last button on her shirt, as she stepped out of the stall. She stopped in her tracks, she walked right into the woman. Gabrielle stepped back as she said, "Sorry, I didn't know."
Eponin laughed, "Haven't you ever seen a naked woman before?"
Gabrielle stammered, "It's just..." She turned and walked away.
Eponin called after her, "I can't believe my eyes, you are embarrassed, surely I'm not the first."
Gabrielle replied, "No, you just caught me by surprise, After you get dressed, what then?"
Eponin quickly put on the man's clothes as she said, "Give me your clothes and I'll bury them with mine."
Gabrielle stared down at the ground as she said, "Sure hate to leave them, they have become a part of me."
Eponin replied, "Have to admit, that top of yours, left little to the imagination. You should be a bit warmer."
"Yeah, but I smell like a stable." She glanced around and the Amazon had disappeared. Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder and a low voice, "Ready."
Gabrielle turned as her mouth dropped open. "Eponin?"
The woman replied, "That's right."
Gabrielle said, "It's amazing." She walked around the woman and said, "How did you get the mustache?"
Eponin answered, "The horse I took it from won't miss it. I used some of that pitch off the wood to attach it." The woman strutted around feeling very confident. Gabrielle was amazed, Eponin had twisted her hair up on the top of her head and was wearing a hat. Her face was smudged with something dark and she sported a dark mustache. In the clothes she was wearing, she could pass for a man easily. Gabrielle said, "What about me?"
Eponin walked over to her and tipped the Bard's head side to side then she said, "Got to do something with that girlie look."
She led Gabrielle over to a barrel and said, "Sit." The woman went about braiding Gabrielle's hair, twisting and pinning it to the top of her head. She walked away and returned as she said, "Hold your breath." Slowly and meticulously she applied the dark stuff to Gabrielle's face then she said,
"Now the hat." She walked over to the far wall and returned with a hat which she placed on the Bard's head and said, "Now, the Princess is gone and a young man has arrived."
Gabrielle twitched her nose as she said, "I've got to see this." She dashed over to a piece of broken glass. And stared at the image looking back at her as she said, "It doesn't even look like me. "
"That's the idea, come on let's go."
Gabrielle replied, "I don't even want to know what the stuff on my face is. How much time do you think we will have, before those two sound an alarm?"
Eponin answered, "Enough, let's go."
Eponin reached out and grabbed Gabrielle's right shoulder and said, "Wait up, I was watching you and you need to walk with a more confident stride. None of that woman stuff, think like a man and react."
Gabrielle turned and looked up at the woman as she said, "Think like a man? That's a little hard to do."
Eponin whispered in her ear, "It's either that or get yourself arrested."
Gabrielle squared her shoulders and said, "Well, we don't have all night, let's get going."
Eponin laughed as she ran to catch up with the woman. Walking down the side streets it didn't take them long to find the Tavern. Gabrielle softly said, "If I know Xena, she probably stopped in here to get information."
Eponin smiled, "Yeah and maybe something to drink. Let me do the talking."
The two woman looked at one another, then back at the door as they swaggered inside. Walking up to the bar, Eponin slammed her fist on it and said, "Need some service over here."
A plump woman shuffled over to them and said, "What would you like?"
She had been eyeing Eponin as the woman said, "Just something to drink."
She looked disappointed and walked off. Gabrielle said, "I'm not sure but I think she likes you."
Eponin grunted as she said, "Working in here, she probably likes anyone in pants."
Gabrielle's right eyebrow raised as she said, "Or not." They laughed. The woman, had brought them two Tankards of Ale and left. Eponin was enjoying her drink, when a group of soldiers burst into the room. Eponin looked up as their leader walked up to the two women. "You, and you!"
Gabrielle pointed to herself and he said, "Yeah, you two come with us. All available men are being used by the Athenian Army to help search the city. There are two women that need to be apprehended."
Gabrielle lowered her voice as she asked, "Two women? What did they do?"
He replied, "Stole money from the guard at the gate, beat him so badly they almost killed him. There is a reward for them, and from the looks of you two, you could use it."
Eponin replied, "Sorry, we didn't sign up with any Army."
The man drew his sword and held it to Gabrielle's throat as he said, "Maybe your young friend would like to change your mind."
Eponin took a swallow as she reached out pushing the blade back she said, "No need to do that, we are tired but we'll help search."
He put the sword back in it's sheath and said, "Then follow my men."
Gabrielle's eyes were searching Eponin's. They were hiding from these men and were now being forced to go with them, to look for themselves?
Eponin reached out and grabbed Gabrielle by the shoulder as she said, Let's go, the faster we find them, the sooner we can go about our business."
Gabrielle followed her as she said, "How can we find them?"
Eponin replied, "Just follow my lead." Once outside, they joined the rest of the men who were gathered to join the hunt. Several gave the two strange looking men the once over, then went back to what they were doing. They broke the men into groups and Eponin insisted the young man go with her.
Gabrielle went along with what she was doing all the while totally confused. She was just starting to step across an alley way, when Eponin reached out and pushed the Bard into the shadows. Hitting the ground with a thud she stared up at Eponin and said, "Why did you do that?"
"Thought it was time we quit playing hide and seek. Come on, the jails not far from here." Following the alley for several minutes, they ran across the square and into the darkness of a large stone building. Gabrielle, was breathing hard as she gazed over at the Amazon. The giggle was small and soon was an uproarious laugh. She found the woman's hand over her mouth as she sputtered and Eponin whispered in her right ear, "What's so funny?"
She reached up and grabbed the woman's hand, pulling it down and said, "You are, your mustache has fallen on one side. Looks more like a crawly thing."
Eponin replied, "Well, you can see it, fix it."
Gabrielle reached out, raised the mustache and pushed. When she had finished Eponin said, "I think you got great joy out of pushing that back on."
Gabrielle smiled and said, "Nah, let's get going."
Nearing the sentry at the front door, Eponin walked up and said, "They want you down at the tavern. Something about that Warrior Woman." The man looked at her and said, "What about here?"
Eponin replied, "I'll stand watch until you return."
The man hurried off and Gabrielle said, "That was easy, almost too easy."
Eponin replied, "You go in, see if you can find them."
Gabrielle said, "What about the guards inside?"
"If I am right, there won't be. I think everyone is out looking for us."
Gabrielle said, "Ok, wish me luck."
The woman said, "Amazon's don't need luck. They need courage."
Gabrielle replied, "Well, I need luck." She opened the door and peeked into the room. She could see a faint light but there were no sounds, so she walked into the room. It didn't take the Bard long to find her way down to the Dungeon. She had taken a torch off the wall. And as she walked, she held it up to the bars surveying each one. There were prisoners huddled against the walls but no sign of her friend. She had passed all of the cells, as she turned to start back a man said, "Say, young fella, you looking for anyone in particular?"
Gabrielle turned toward the voice as she asked, "Young Fella?"
The man stared at her and said, "Don't see to many young men in here."
It was then she remembered, she didn't look like Gabrielle and she said, "Yes, I'm looking for Xena."
The man thought for a second and said, "You let me out, and I'll tell you."
Gabrielle replied, "First, what do you know about her?"
He answered, "I know she's not here anymore." As his words reached her, Gabrielle stepped back and said, "There has to be some mistake, she is here."
He said, "Nope, took her and that other one early this morning."
She walked over to the cell and said, "Took them, where?"
He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Do I look like an Oracle, I told you, now let me out."
"Hey, we haven't got all day, get them and let's go!" Gabrielle looked up to see Eponin approaching as she said, "According to this man, they are not here."
Eponin walked over to the cell, peering in at the man and said, "You sure about that?"
He nodded and said, "Sure, she said if I told her, that she would let me out of here."
Eponin stepped over to a far wall and came back carrying a ring of keys as she said, "I'm going to let you out, give you the keys and I want you to let the others go."
The man replied, "Thank you sir, I won't forget this." He stepped past Eponin as she reached out and grabbed him saying, "Where have they taken them?"
He stuttered, "They were taking them in a wagon, that's all I know." She released him as he walked over to a cell and unlocked the door. He turned to her and said, "I hope you two find your friend, sir."
Eponin grumbled, "Sir, what next?"
Gabrielle replied, "Well he called me a young man, if you haven't noticed, that's what we look like. Xena would never believe this."
Eponin said, "We have to get out of here, the minute the guard finds out something is wrong, he will be back with reinforcements." The two hurried past the prisoners that were now bellowing into the room.
As the night air hit them they said, "Let's get out of here."
Continued in Chapter Thirteen