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Disclaimer: As usual, the story is mine, the characters are not. No copyright infringement intended. There is some subtext here, but nothing explicit.
It should be noted that this story was written before Gabrielle's loss of blood innocence in the episode "The Deliver" Comments welcome at email@example.com.
chapters 1 - 3
chapters 4 - 6
Gabrielle stood in front of a great crowd, hands bound, head still bleeding from the blow. To her left and right were towering guards armed with swords and heavy armor. Before her was the leader of this army, the leader of the whole village. Sitting on a throne, he wore the colors of his army and a crown on his head. He was their king. But today, he was her judge.
"Bring the accused before me." The king said. One of the guards shoved his sword in her back forcing her to walk toward the throne. She was unaware that Xena was in the great crowd behind her disguised in a cloak in order to blend in. Gabrielle thought that Xena was dead.
"What are the charges against this woman?" The king asked.
"She is charged with the murder of Liganus, the king's brother." The guard proudly said.
"Do you have anything to say in your defense?" The king asked of Gabrielle.
"No." She replied.
"Very well." He said. "I have found you guilty of murdering my brother. You are to be executed first thing in the morning. Until then you will be taken back to the castle's dungeon."
The guards led Gabrielle down off the platform and through the crowd. Xena hid her face so the guards wouldn't recognize her. She couldn't understand why Gabrielle just stood there and didn't defend herself against the charges. Gabrielle could never kill anyone, could she? She dismissed that question as quickly as it came into her mind. Slowly, she followed the guards escorting her best friend to the castle. When they arrived, she followed them in. Security was low since Liganus, the head of castle security, was killed. She had heard he was killed moments after he stabbed her. She couldn't remember because she had passed out. She remembered Gabrielle being there just before she passed out, but that was all. When she woke up she was along side a river, washed up on the shore.
The guards put Gabrielle in a small dark room and tied her arms above her head. Xena ducked in a corner and stashed the extra cloak she had stolen. When she got Gabrielle back, she'd have to wear the cloak so they could get out. She stayed in the corner as the guards locked Gabrielle in and left. Xena quietly walked over to the door and looked through the small window at Gabrielle. She hated seeing her that way. Just then a guard approached Xena from behind.
Gabrielle stood there, tied to the wall, thinking about Xena. How could she have been killed? The whole thing happened right in front of her but it was still so hard for Gabrielle to believe.
"Oh, Xena. How can I go on without you. I shouldn't have let this happen." Gabrielle thought aloud.
The day was warm and sunny. Just perfect for a little practice with the staff, Gabrielle thought. She was waiting with Argo for Xena to return.
"You know," Gabrielle said to the horse, "It wouldn't hurt for you to help me practice every once in a while." Argo snuffed and walked over to a shady spot by a tree.
"Figures." Gabrielle said. She took out her staff and began to spin and twist it with a great talent. She had learned a lot from Xena, but she never really started using the staff until she had met the Amazons. They taught her exactly how to hold it and how to use it. She taught herself how to use it without mortally wounding someone. She couldn't imagine ever killing anyone. How could she live with herself?
"Gabrielle." Xena shouted as she approached her. Gabrielle was in the middle of practicing and was startled by the call.
"Sorry," Xena said. "I found a well beyond those trees. We can make camp there and head for Palax in the morning." Gabrielle and Xena began to walk toward the well. Xena grabbed Argo's reins and led her as they walked.
"So, Argo wouldn't practice with you today, huh?" Xena asked.
"Very funny," Gabrielle said. "You know how she hates to help me practice. We wouldn't have such a great relationship if we actually got along." She paused for a moment.
"Hey, Xena," She finally said.
"Yeah," Xena said.
"Do you think its possible that we could actually stop a war between the Palaxians and the king's army?"
"I won't say for sure until I see for myself what's going on. It is hard for me to resist the challenge of stopping a war."
"Yeah," Gabrielle said sarcastically, "I know exactly how hard it is."
"What's that supposed to mean? Look I know we've gotten ourselves into some pretty tight situations in the past, but haven't I proven that indeed I can stop a war? Besides, from the looks of that villager who asked us for help I'd say it'll be more of a slaughter than a war."
"You don't think the Palaxians can defend themselves?" Gabrielle asked.
"No, I've seen it before." Xena replied. "A king high on power and taking advantage of his people, but that'll stop once we get there." Xena couldn't help a small smile from developing before she made her next comment. "And if it is a war, then I'll stop it."
"Alright," Gabrielle said. "Whatever floats your boat, but this time I would really like to avoid sharp arrows flying at my head at speeds beyond comprehension."
"I'll see what I can do." Xena stated.
"Thanks a lot."
Gabrielle's heart was pounding. She could barely breath. She was running, running for her life. She wasn't sure what she was running from. She couldn't see anything but fog. She was filled with fear. Fear of what lied behind the fog. Fear not for herself, but for.............Xena. That's it, Xena. Is she in danger? Where is she? Gabrielle tried to call out for help, but couldn't even manage that. She kept running, and running, and running. Then a voice called out to her:
The voice was Xena's. She was sure of it. But it seemed to be coming from all around her. There was no one direction to follow the voice. Then the voice came again.
"Gabrielle! Gabrielle wake up!"
"What?" Gabrielle said as she abruptly awoke from a horrible dream.
"Are you all right?" Xena asked as she held the bard in her arms.
"Yes, I think." Gabrielle replied.
"You were having a nightmare. You kept calling out my name." Xena observed. "What was the dream about?"
"I don't remember." Gabrielle sounded a bit disoriented. "I was afraid."
"Well, I've got you now." Xena said as she kissed Gabrielle's forehead. "We need to get moving if we're to make it to Palax by midday. We over slept a little."
Gabrielle got up and walked over to the well. She got a handful of water and splashed her face to see if that would wake her up a little. She looked over at Xena who was packing their stuff away and getting Argo ready for the journey. What was it that had gotten her so shaken up? She had this feeling that something horrible was going happen. She couldn't shake it. It was too overpowering.
"You ready?" Xena asked as she got on the horse.
"I guess. Let's go." Gabrielle grabbed her staff and started walking along side Xena and Argo just like she had so many times in the past. This time she was not as talkative as usual. She was too busy thinking about her dream. It wasn't the dream that scared her so much, but the bad feeling she had that something was going to happen. She was sure that Xena was in danger. She stopped dead in her tracks.
"Gabrielle?" Xena said as she noticed her traveling companion was no longer next to her. She stopped the horse and turned it around.
"What's the matter?" She asked. Gabrielle said nothing and just stared at the ground. Xena got off her horse and walked over to Gabrielle, putting her hand on Gabrielle's shoulder.
"What is it?" She asked again.
"I have this horrible feeling, like something is going to happen to you, something horrible. I know that going to Palax is important to those villagers, but can we please just forget about it and turn around." Gabrielle responded.
"Look," Xena explained, "we're going to Palax to help people, that's what it's all about. You're probably still a little upset after that dream. It's just you're imagination."
"No it's not!" Gabrielle protested. "I'm telling you Xena, I can't shake this feeling that something awful is going to happen to you. You never ignore your gut feelings, I'm begging you, don't ignore mine."
"Gabrielle you're making too much out of this." Xena insisted. "We've been in danger before. Come on, don't I always come through." She looked at Gabrielle and could see that she wasn't getting anywhere.
"Xena," Gabrielle said as tears started to well up in her eyes, "I'm scared."
"Okay," Xena said as she gave Gabrielle a hug not realizing exactly how serious this was. "It'll be okay. As long as you're right beside me fighting right along with me, it'll be okay." She felt Gabrielle's grip tighten. "I mean it Gabrielle. I love you, it'll be okay."
Xena and Gabrielle reached Palax by midday. Just outside of town they found a group of five soldiers beating a villager as the rest of the small crowd just watched afraid of being beaten themselves if they interfered. Xena observed their surroundings. A lake with a small waterfall on one side and surrounded by trees on all remaining sides. She, of course, wasn't afraid of anything as she drew her sword from it's place on her back and challenged the soldiers. One of them immediately charged her and their swords met as she kicked him in the stomach and sent him flying to the ground.
Gabrielle had her hands full as well, using her staff to fight the two soldiers who targeted her. She managed to knock their swords to the ground and gave one of them a nose bleed.
Meanwhile, Xena was fighting the two remaining soldiers. She kicked one of them down and used her sword against the other one. Their swords clanked and chimed as they fought. She used the force of her sword to push his sword, and the arm holding it, down and used her other hand to punch him while he was paying attention to the swords. One soldier got up and removed a dagger from his boot. Just then Gabrielle called out to her.
"Xena," she said, "Xena help!" Gabrielle was in a choke hold from the other soldier. Xena's attention got diverted as she noticed her friend was in danger. That was when it happened.
Liganus, the soldier who pulled out the dagger, lunged into Xena from the side forcing the dagger into her. He held onto it as she fell backward and plunged into the river. She hadn't realized she was so close to the water. The shock immediately caused her to pass out.
"No!" Gabrielle shouted.
Not realizing her strength, she shoved her elbow into the stomach of the soldier holding her, causing him to let go as he gasped. She grabbed a sword from the ground and ran toward the river. She wasn't sure what she was going to do with the sword, but it seemed like instinct to grab it and try to protect her best friend. Just as she was reaching the bank of the river, Liganus jumped into her direct path and intended to use the dagger on her. But she didn't slow down, and the sword in her hand ripped through Liganus. She was as stunned as he was. She stopped and their eyes met as he dropped the dagger, still dripping with Xena's blood.
"You'll pay for this." He said just before he collapsed.
A soldier came up from behind Gabrielle and grabbed the sword. She was so stunned that she had killed Liganus she couldn't even move. She stared out into the water and couldn't see Xena anywhere. Gabrielle started to panic. She intended to jump in the water and look for her friend, but a soldier grabbed her arm. Gabrielle looked over to the crowd of villagers.
"Well do something." She begged them. "Don't just stand there."
"Your friend will drown," the soldier said. "and you will pay for killing the king's brother."
"The king's brother?" Gabrielle said, showing no expression. She was in shock.
"The king will have your head for this." The soldier proudly said as he forced Gabrielle to walk down toward the castle, away from the lake, away from her best friend, her soul mate. She started to struggle. Another soldier had picked up her staff and used it to club her on the forehead just above her right eye. She began to fall to the ground after the force of the blow but the soldier holding her caught her and threw her over his shoulder. She would no longer give them any trouble, he thought.
Xena woke up with excruciating pain. A little disoriented, she stood up. She was on the shore of the lake, completely wet. With her hand covering the wound in her side, she looked around to see where she was. She could see the waterfall across the lake. She couldn't be far from where the fight took place. She remembered seeing the waterfall across the lake earlier, and judging by the direction of the current, she knew which way to go to get back there. All she could think about was Gabrielle. Could this be the bad thing she was talking about? She could ignore the pain as long as Gabrielle was in danger. Xena took off in the direction of the fight, hoping she wasn't too late.
She was right. It wasn't far at all. She arrived at the scene quickly. When she got there she saw the same crowd of people that had witnessed the fight earlier. They were crowding around something, someone. Xena slowly walked toward them, praying that it wasn't Gabrielle whose lifeless body was the center of attention. When she reached them, she saw that it was a dead soldier. The same man who stabbed her.
"What happened here?" She asked. The people just stared at her and did not speak.
"Where's Gabrielle?" She asked them again. "What happened to the girl that was with me?"
"They took her." A young man reported.
"Where?" Xena asked. "Where did they take her?"
"To the king. He'll execute her for sure." The man said. The others began to look at him as if he wasn't supposed to talk to her and he quickly left. The others picked up the body of the soldier and followed the man into the woods.
Xena looked around for the path. She picked up her sword, which she dropped after being stabbed, surprised it was still there. She then whistled for Argo, hoping she was still in the area. Argo came running from behind some trees. Xena hopped onto her and gave the call that Argo knew meant to start running. They took off onto the path that Gabrielle had earlier been escorted down.
"Wake up!" The guard shouted.
Gabrielle opened her eyes and saw three guards staring at her. She tried to move, but her hands were bound above her head. One of the guards was holding a long leather strap. Quickly, he whipped it around and struck Gabrielle in the stomach. It hit her right where her skin was visible above her waist and below where the bottom of her green top was. She winced in pain but didn't cry out.
"That's enough!" One of the guards yelled. "The girl must not be harmed when she sees King Darius."
"Take her down." The third guard said. "The king is waiting."
The first guard, the one who struck her, cut her down. Her hands remained bound. He pushed her toward the door, so hard that she nearly lost her balance. She didn't care what happened to her now. Xena was dead. Nothing mattered anymore.
Gabrielle stood there, exhausted. Because of the way her hands were tied she couldn't sit down. She could see the sun start to go down from the small window next to her. It wouldn't be long now. She wondered what it would feel like, to lose her head. Would it be quick? She looked down at the bloody slash on her stomach. She was feeling a little weak. She felt a sting in her eye. The blood from the cut above her eye was dripping. Great, she thought. Her last hours on earth are spent in pain. If Xena were there she knew she would have the strength to fight back. But what would she have to look forward to now? There wouldn't be anymore adventures. No more life and death struggles where life always wins. No more good verses evil battles where good comes out on top. What about her sister, Lila? Would she ever find out the truth about what happened her? Or would she never even find out her sister was killed?
Just then she heard a commotion outside the door. Gabrielle couldn't see anything through the window on the door from the distance she was at. Suddenly the door swung open. Gabrielle couldn't believe what she saw. Maybe she was hallucinating. She managed to speak.
Xena came walking in, wearing a cloak over her warrior outfit. She looked at Gabrielle, noticing the slash wound on her stomach and the cut on her head. She rushed over to her.
"Gabrielle." Xena said softly as she reached her. At first she paid attention to the wound on her stomach, but quickly realized Gabrielle was waiting to be untied. Xena took her sword out and flung it above her head, cutting the rope around Gabrielle's hands. Gabrielle instantly fell into Xena's arms, as if she couldn't stand on her own. They slowly sat on the ground. Xena held her tight and said a silent thanks to the gods.
"We haven't got much time." Xena said. "Are you strong enough to walk?"
"Now that you're here, I could do anything." Gabrielle stated. "Did you run into a little trouble out there?"
"Nothing I couldn't handle." Xena said as she inspected Gabrielle's wounds.
"Xena?" Gabrielle said.
"Yeah," Xena replied without looking up from the wound.
"We don't have time for this." Gabrielle said. "I'm supposed to die in the morning. You can fix my wound later. Right now we have to get out of here."
Xena stopped paying attention to the wound and looked up at Gabrielle. She knew she was right. After briefly kissing Gabrielle's lips, Xena put Gabrielle's arm around her neck and supported her as they stood up.
"I can walk." Gabrielle said.
They walked over to the door. Xena motioned for Gabrielle to stay behind while she made sure it was all clear. She stepped out and over the guard she had earlier knocked unconscious after he surprised her. She then waved for Gabrielle to come out after realizing it was clear. She reached into the corner where she stashed the other cloak.
"Here," she said as she gave Gabrielle the cloak. "If we're going to get out of here without them noticing, we'll have to blend in."
Gabrielle put the cloak on over her clothes. Quietly, they made their way out of the castle. Gabrielle couldn't remember the way out. She was unconscious the first time they brought her here, and a bit disoriented the second. She wasn't sure she was going to make it, but Xena can't know that. Gabrielle wanted to spare Xena the pain of losing her, so she was determined to fight it.
They made their way out of the castle and through the marketplace that surrounded it. They tried not to stand out as they passed people. That was a slightly difficult task as Xena had to hold Gabrielle up as they walked. They were almost in the clear when a soldier noticed blood dripping from Gabrielle's head.
"Hey, stop!" He shouted at them before alerting other soldiers.
Xena whistled for Argo, who came running out from the path they rode in on. Xena grabbed Gabrielle's other arm.
"Get on." She instructed Gabrielle. "I'll meet you by the river across from the water falls."
Xena helped Gabrielle on Argo. Gabrielle could barely hang on.
"Go, Argo!" Xena yelled. The horse took off down the path. By this time there were a dozen soldiers charging toward Xena.
"Go after that one." One of the soldiers told another pointing at Gabrielle and Argo as they made their way down the path and out of sight.
Xena smiled as she took her chakrum off it's place on her belt. With swift precision she flung the chakrum toward the soldiers. The round metal weapon struck each of their swords, cutting off the tips. It then boomeranged off another soldiers helmet, knocking him unconscious, and landing in Xena's grasp. She replaced it at her side.
The soldiers threw down their useless swords and began to charge at Xena. She was amused by the challenge. She threw her hands in the air as she jumped up. The soldiers stopped as they watched Xena flip in a somersault through the air and heard the famous war cry. The soldiers were in a circle around her when she again displayed her talent. Quickly and efficiently, Xena dispersed of the soldiers. Those who got up for more, got more. Most just waited for her to take off down the path so they could regroup.
As Xena ran off to find Gabrielle, she tried to keep her mind off of the extreme pain in her side. The soldiers planned to get more swords and attack her by the river. But first they had to tell the king that the person who killed his brother got away. He would not take it well, and would probably send out all the soldiers in the small kingdom after Xena. With a price on their heads, Xena and Gabrielle won't get far.
Xena reached where the path met the bank of the river. She ran all the way there. She had seen the soldier chase after Gabrielle and Argo and was worried that he caught up to them. By this time the sun had disappeared from the sky and the moon began to make its appearance.
"Gabrielle?" Xena yelled. Just then Argo came running from the continuation of the path just ahead of where Xena was standing. No sign of Gabrielle. Argo was making a great deal of noise. Xena couldn't calm her down. She began to get frustrated with the horse and started turning around desperately looking for any signs of Gabrielle. Then she saw something in the river. It was a soldier from the castle. He was rigorously chasing something. She looked further, past the soldier, and saw something else in the river.
"Gabrielle!" She shouted.
She removed her sword from its place on her back and placed on her belt's left side, making it easier to swim she thought. She ran into the river and began to swim like never before, all the while hoping she would reach the soldier before he reached Gabrielle.
Gabrielle reached the shore, just next to where the waterfall began. She was so exhausted. She fell to the ground, landing on her stomach, trying to catch her breath while looking up to see how far the soldier had gotten. She couldn't believe what she saw. Xena and the soldier were fighting, struggling to overpower one another in the water. Gabrielle couldn't see too well. They were thrashing and splashing about so much that she couldn't tell which one was Xena.
"Xena!" Gabrielle shouted as Xena and the soldier disappeared under the mass sheet of glistening water. Gabrielle waited anxiously to see who would come up first. She was filled with feelings of fear and helplessness. Fear that the love of
her life wouldn't resurface. Helpless because she couldn't offer aide in her condition.
Then suddenly, letting out a great gasp for air, Xena jumped up from underneath the blanket of water. Gabrielle was so relieved, she showed a small smile and then let her head down in exhaustion, almost as if she had gone through the entire struggle right along with Xena.
Xena quickly made her way to the shore. She knew Gabrielle was alive because she could see her body moving as she breathed deeply. Xena reached the shore and fell to her knees next to Gabrielle, gasping for breath.
"I need a vacation."
Xena said between breaths. She reached over to Gabrielle and moved the hair away from Gabrielle's face. "You all right?" She asked.
"Oh, yeah," Gabrielle replied, "never been better."
"Gabrielle," Xena said questionably, "what is going on here? Why do they think you killed Liganus?"
Gabrielle rolled over on her back and sat upright. She was obviously hesitant about revealing any information, but she knew she had to tell Xena the truth.
"I did kill him." She stated. Xena appeared puzzled by the revelation. "It's true Xena, I killed him. Look I thought you were dead and I," She paused to breathe deeply. "I only grabbed the sword to defend myself, so no one would stop me from helping you."
"You don't have to explain." Xena said. "I understand."
"No, you don't." Gabrielle insisted. "I didn't kill him intentionally. It was like it was all instinct. Someone tried to kill somebody close to me, for all I knew they succeeded. I just reacted without thinking." She paused and looked up at Xena. "I've never felt anger like that before. It scared me."
"Gabrielle, I know what you're going through." Xena said sympathetically. "I've been through it. Look, you made a mistake, like I've done dozens of times before. I know you regret it, but you've got to forgive yourself." Xena said in comfort.
"I took a man's life." Gabrielle said as she stood up. "How can I forgive myself for that?" She then started walking away toward the mass of rocks and caves that surrounded the waterfall.
"Gabrielle?" Xena said without going after her. She needed to be alone with this. Xena knew exactly how Gabrielle felt. The only difference is that it took Xena years to regret the things she did. Forgiving herself is another story altogether. For Xena, forgiveness was difficult to grant to others, but most difficult to grant to herself.
Xena stood there staring at the water. All was still until a small ripple traveled through the water, followed by another, and again another. Her eyes followed their path and traced back to the center of the ripples where she saw through the moonlight the body of a soldier lying face down in the water.
"Forgiveness." She whispered to herself.
chapters 1 - 3
chapters 4 - 6
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