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Gabrielle was lost in thought as she tended the fire. Tiresias had gone to sleep and the night was growing long. She was exhausted herself, but couldn't sleep for worrying about Xena. How did they always semm to manage to get caught up in the middle of these things? Other girls her age were leading perfectly normal lives in relative safety! She could have married Perdicus by now, had a home and family. But noooooooo! She had wanted adventure! She'd wanted to see the world! So now she say in a ghost town of a village, listening to the snores of an old man and waiting on Xena.
Then her world exploded with the brightness of a million stars! The pain in her head, the jarring of her body hitting the ground and the faint voices of men were the last things she knew beffore she slipped into the inky darkness of oblivion.
Leonas finished tying her to his saddle. "That oughta hold her til we get back".
Mog, an egyptian henchman grinned "Yeah, this ought to make Antemas happy".
Leonas looked at the unconcious bardling: " Hmmm.... She's a pretty one too. And I haven't seen a woman in weeks".
"Do you think you should? Antemas might have plans for her himself".
Leonas thought as he stroked Gabrielle's hair: " Perhaps you're right Mog. It a shame though to waste such a beauty on the likes of Antemas". He mounted his horse.
"What about this one"?
Leonas regarded the terrified old man: "Kill him".
Antemas drank deeply from his goblet as he awaited word of Leonas' mission. If he could capture Xena's friend before she arrived, he might be able to buy time enough to destroy her outright. He chuckled as he thought of the fame, the glory he would have when the world learned that he had slain the infamous Xena: Warrior Princess!
"Enjoying yourself"? A quiet voice spoke from a dark corner of his tent.
Antemas started as Xena walked into the light. He noticed that a slit had been cut into the wall of his tent and outside the front opening, his two guard lie unconscious.
"You!" he snarled and reached for his spear. Hurling it with all his strength, the spear sped toward Xena who calmly batted it away with her sword.
"You should know by now that you can't kill me Antemas. No one can!" she walked toward him.
"I can" he scowled and two bolts of black lightning burst from his eyes. They arced toward Xena, who dove under a table. The bolts splintered the table with a deafening noise and set the tent on fire.
Xena could feel the slivers of wood as they pentrated her armor, the blood as it ran down her back and she could smell the foul ozone left behind from the lightning. Fear and doubt began to creep into her mind as she raced for a shield which leaned against a pole.
"You can't run Xena, and you can't hide from me" Antemas laughed as another bolt of death raced toward her. It snapped the pole like a twig and just missed the tumbling Xena as she hid behind the shield.
'Maybe this shield will deflect the lightning' she thought as she stood to face him. A third bolt struck the shield, splitting it and hurling Xena through the fiery wall of the tent.
Outside, Antemas' men were scrambling to get out of the line of fire. Xena felt herself slipping into unconciousness, but fought to get up. 'Gods, this hurts' she thought as she rolled over and slowly began to stand. 'I've got to end this thing quickly'.
She reached for her chackram just as the lightning struck her full in the chest, throwing her some twenty feet and slamming her against a rock wall. Through the pain and roar in her mind, she could hear Antemas' laughing, taunting her.
"Come on Xena! You can do better than that can't you"?
Burned and battered, Xena staggered to her feet. One eye was swollen, blood flowed from her mouth and her fingers were numb from the lightning. She fumbled for her Chakram.
"Well, well! What have we here"? Xena looked and saw Leonas dragging a now concious Gabrielle into the compound. He had a dagger to her throat and seemed to really be enjoying holding her so closely.
Antemas walked over and grabbed Gabrielle by the hair. "Xena, look what the fates have delivered to me"! he taunted. "Looks like this just isn't your day".
"In fact, I'd say I hold all the cards now, praise Ares. He was the one who told me about your friend....your weak link".
Gabrielle struggled but was held firmly by Leonas.
'That's right Gabby', thought Xena, ' buy me a little more time'.
Everyone's attention was on bard at the moment as she struggled to free herself. Xena began to get her second wind and some of her strength returned.
The men laughed as Gabrielle fought to break of Leonas' grip. They began to jeer and taunt Leonas at this point. Even Antemas joined in. "She's a real little hellcat, this one".
Angered and embarrassed, Leonas wrenched upward on Gabrielle's arm, forcing her to shriek in agony and drop to her knees. Tears were flowing from her eyes as she hung her head.
"Not so damned funny now is it"? Leonas raged and looked up triumphantly. "She's just where she belongs now. On her knees in front of me"!
The men roared with laughter as Gabrielle sobbed.
Then, out of the corner of her eye, through the fire and smoke Gabrielle saw Xena standing, stalking her prey. Though bruised and bloody, the Warrior Princess wasn't beaten. Gabby made eye contact with her and saw that Xena needed a distraction.
Looking up, she saw how Leonas was standing like a mighty warlord, one arm raised into a fist and legs spread apart. An idea came to her.
Fighting through the pain in her left arm, she balled up her fist and smashed it hard, right into Leonas' crotch! Wave after wave of agony spread through the brute's body as he let go of her and slumped to his knees. The silence from the stunned onlookers was deafening as she sprang into action.
Looking the sickened man in the eye, she grabbed him by his hair and smashed another right into his nose and mouth , grinding teeth and cartilage underneath her fist. Leonas was out cold.
Feeling tug on her hair, she whirled to face Antemas, who put a dagger to her heart. He was just about to plunge the dagger home when a voice stopped him. He'd forgotten about Xena!
Whirling to face her, he made sure to hold Gabrielle closely as a shield. It was to no avail.
The Chackram screamed through the night air and shattered the amulet, burying itself into his chest! Blood splashed over Gabrielle as her captor dropped like a rock. Then the amulet exploded, releasing all the magic it had inside. The force of the explosion knocked Gabrielle and several men over and blew flesh, blood and bone from the body of the warlord!
The stunned men began to stand just as the sound of a hundered trumpets echoed throughout the mountain peaks. The Greeks, led by Baruch, had arrived enmass and were streaming down into the compound. They began to round up the warriors and secure the area.
Xena went over to a stunned Gabrielle and helped her to stand.
"You look horrible Xena"
Xena laughed and hugged her friend, "Yeah, well just don't say that when you write the story".
The blackened Chackram rolled to Xena's feet. Picking it up, she thought about having it replaced.
'Nah, it's my lucky shamrock' she grinned.
Atop a hill, the god of War grinned as he watched the action below.
Author: Hawk Hawk@dbtech.net