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The usual stuff, the characters of Xena, Argo, Gabrielle and Cyrene all belong to MCA/Universal, no copyright infringement is intended.
Disclaimer: There is violence in this story (but not much so it shouldn't offend), there is mention of rape (but not much so it shouldn't offend) and there are tears spilt by nearly all the characters (well, actually quite alot - what can I say? - I'm a mushy kinda gal).
As all bardies do PLEASE let me know what you thought of my story even if it's a list of insults (I can take it, mushy AND strong - that's me:)) even if you just wanna chat - I'm friendly y'see (mushy, strong and...yeah you get the picture) EMAIL me at:
The Eve Of Armageddon
By Jessica Short
The day was at it's peak, the sun shone from it's zenith brightly onto the village of Astian, the village hummed with liveliness of the many villagers inhabiting it, it was market day and so most of the villagers had an excuse to come out and enjoy the sun, most chatted with neighbours and friends, some were buying form the traders.
One person stood out in particular, tall, dark-haired leather-clad warrior, deep blue penetrating orbs, a sword sheathed highly onto her back and her chakram by her side. A young bard walked beside her, shorter than her, strawberry-blonde hair, a skirt cut above her knees and a woven crop top.
"Gabrielle, do we need any supplies?" The warrior asked.
"I thought that was your section Xena." The bard replied looking up to the warrior.
"No." The warrior smiled shaking her head. "You superintend the supplies and cook, I...do everything else." She smiled nudging the bard.
They were on their way to Amphipolis stopping off at this village for a small rest.
She had been running for what seemed like days, but only hours had passed, through the forest, like she had planned, where they would be hard, if not impossible to find, her skin tore as twigs and braches scraped past her, her bare arms and leg were exposed, covered in bloody scratches and bruises. There were people left and right of her and it was her job to get them to safety, her eyes lit up as she recognised familiar scenary in the dense forest she ran through. Beams of light were emitted through the tall trees that surrounded them helping the prisoners to see their path.
"Everybody over here!" She cried as she made her way to what seemed like a bush, about twenty people appeared around her as she lifted a massive bush from the floor to reveal a small entrance to a cave.
"Everybody get in, they're on our trail so hurry." She shouted as the many people of all ages began to cram into the cave. "Hurry hurry." The young girl cried as the last few scrambled in. She grabbed the arm of a young boy as he walked from the cave entrance.
"Leo what are you doing, get in the cave." She ordered.
"No Beth, I'm staying with you." He snapped angrily.
Beth, a girl no more than fifteen, placed her hand on the boys cheek. "Please Leo." She whispered. Leo sighed, he pulled Beth close and slid his hands onto her neck and they shared a long passionate kiss.
"Now go Leo, we'll be together soon enough, lead the people away from here." She told him.
"Okay. Be careful." He whispered scrambling into the cave.
The girl turned back to the oncoming soldiers. "You want me, come and get me." She muttered running off away from the cave making sure that it was covered properly, her leather-cladded uniform restrained her from running her full capacity, and the sword on her back weighed her down her raven hair was tied back into a neat bun which gave her no trouble of getting in the way, she began to quickly weave in and out of the trees, that was when she had the feeling, her feet stopped running and her eyes closed, in that instant she span around and grabbed the arrow aimed for her stomach from the air. "Clever, so they know where I am." She smiled.
"BETH!" It was a soldiers cry.
"And they know who I am." She mused smiling to herself.
"Beth, we have something of yours." The voice cried. "Someone very precious to you."
Beth's head raised, her heart missed a beat and panic began to set in, who could it be?
She could sense the soldiers' presence as they surrounded her in the small opening where she stood.
"Come out boys, I know you're there." She sighed, five or six heavily armed guardsmen stepped out into the woods.
Beth was managing to hide her tiredness from her opponents, as far as they were concerned she was a strong fighter - like her father.
"Beth, give up the other prisoners and we'll take you in without any damage done." The leader nodded placing a hand on his sword's hilt, Beth raised her eyebrow.
"Uh huh, dream on boys." She smiled drawing her sword and slowly turning so she had looked every mercenary directly in the eye, it was a way of sussing out her prey, and scaring them, it always worked aswell. The men began to backaway.
"Oh no, you're not using that glare thing on us, we've brought you something to help persuade you." The leader said bringing forwards a small child.
"Andre." She whispered running forwards, her path was restricted by two soldiers stepping in the way of her, both had their swords drawn.
"Let him go." Beth commanded.
"Umm...nah, don't think I'll do that." Smiled the mercenary bringing a knife to the small boys throat.
"Now, where are the other prisoners." He asked impatiently.
"You bastard." She muttered, her anger grew inside of her, the only way of release was through her sword, and that was fine by her.
"Naaaaa." She cried headbutting both the mercenaries in her way, they fell to the floor and before Helios, the leader, could pull out his sword Beth's was already protruding into his heart, she smiled as she pulled it out and watched his body hit the floor. She looked down to Andre.
"Andre run to Astian, as fast as you can, don't look back, get to safety." Beth told him, he nodded and began to run. Beth turned to the other soldiers.
"Who's next?" She snarled, seeing one man draw his sword and strike her from the left she turned quickly and parried it well then knocked him off his feet with a blow to the gut, spinning quickly she ducked missing a blow meant for her neck and raised the sword into his stomach, not having time to pull it out, she back flipped over another mercenary and elbowed his neck, he fell to the floor. But Beth's concentration was lost on the hope that Andre had gotten to safety, she didn't notice the man behind her until she felt the leather end of the whip tighten around her neck, her head snapped back and her knees buckled beneath her as she tried to get the whip off her.
"Men, tie her to a stake." The man ordered, the unhurt and the barely wounded rushed to Beth's side, and, as much as she tried to fight back, the sensibility in her body was quickly going, her vision began to blur and very soon she blacked out.
Xena noticed the small child run into the courtyard, he was crying, out of breath, but she was not the only one to notice, a young man ran to the tired child.
"Andre, what's happened?" The man asked as half the village turned silent.
"Beth's been caught." He gasped.
"And the prisoners?"
"Gone, safe." He smiled.
The man stood up and turned to the villagers. "The prisoners are safe!" He cried.
Expecting some kind of commotion, the two travellers were suprised to see the crowd roar and cheer at the news.
"Xena what's going on?" Gabrielle asked.
"You're as much in the dark as me." The warrior replied shrugging, the crowd suddenly quietened.
"What about Beth?" One shouted.
The man shook his head. "She has been captured, she should be here any minute." The man shook his head and soon the cheery atmosphere was lost into dark mumbles of sighs and regrets.
Xena grabbed the arm of a young man.
"Hi, er...I'm Xena."
"Er..my name's Lucas." The man replied, suprised at the strange introduction.
"What's going on? Who's Beth?" She asked.
"Beth is the king's daughter." The man replied.
"King Hephiaus?" The bard asked.
"Yeah, Beth's a rebel, y'see the king has all his prisoners executed, even women and children, Beth breaks them out of prison, helps them to safety. Defies her father." The young man explained. "She's the only hope this village has got of getting rid of the king." He sighed.
"So what's happening now?" Gabrielle asked the young man he was about her height, his golden skin wrinkled as he smiled at the bard revealing small dimples, but then the smile faded and he sighed.
"It looks like Beth's been caught by the king's army, it's likely she'll be executed for treason." He bowed his head shaking it.
"How do you know her?" Xena asked.
"She is a good friend, she saved my parents from certain death, stays in my house occasionally after the king has beaten her."
Both Xena and Gabrielle's eyes widenned.
"Her own father beats her?! What about her mother?" Gabrielle asked.
"Beth doesn't speak of her mother, nobody knows who she is, where she is." The man sighed.
There was a commotion as villagers began to back away from something, Xena, Gabrielle and Lucas made their way to the front of the crowd, the king had appeared in front of the villagers, snarling evily, waiting for his daughter's return.
Beth had woken to the sharp pain of a sword pressed against her neck, her weapons were gone, she was walking now, her arms tied up onto a wooden stake that lay heavily onto her neck, her body spread out like she was being crucified, she noted the rope around her neck tied to a horse in front of her and soon the village that they neared, Astian.
Someone cut the rope from around her neck and the horse sided away to reveal her father, standing in his gown and crown, Beth shook her head in disgust at him, noticing the crowd watching behind her. She was kicked in the back of the leg and fell to her knees, her head pushed forwards, she knelt in silence as the king circled her, the crowd listening in anticipation.
"Well Beth, looks like you've done it again, congratulations, you've just brought your own death ticket." He smiled, the mercenaries behind her laughed with the king as he stood behind her.
"Get up Beth." He ordered, feeling the dizziness of her injuries she began to stagger to her feet not showing her pain to the king.
"Where's Helios?" The king asked.
"Beth killed him." A mercenary shouted, the crowd gasped, Helios was one of the king's best men.
"You killed Helios?!" He shouted as he stepped back in front of her, he shook his head before slamming the back of hand across her face, she fell to the floor blinded by the pain that stabbed her cheek.
"Get up Beth." He ordered again.
The young girl scrambled once again to her feet, unable to assist herself with her hands, she stumbled slightly before gaining control.
"You'll pay for my loss, later, but now, tell me where the prisoners are and I may loosen your punishment."
Beth shook her head, a small trickle of blood began to run down her temple from her father's strike.
The king's hand wrapped tightly around her neck and lifted her feet from the floor.
"Tell me." He demanded, Beth kept silent, she had learnt to deal with pain, she wouldn't give in to it.
"Xena, we have to do something." Gabrielle whispered.
"No, the king'll execute you." Lucas stepped in. Gabrielle shook her head. "How could he do this to his own daughter?" She whispered.
"We shouldn't interfere, it's...we can't." The warrior tried to persuade herself into the decision of just watching.
The king dropped Beth. "I think I'll leave you to my men, maybe then you'll tell me where the prisoners are." He smiled watching Beth choke as she lay on the floor.
"Men, do what you want with her, make sure people see it, I want them all to know what I will do if any of them betray me." He ordered, the men nodded and the king stepped to the side and watched, content with his turpitude, he turned to the villagers. "If you know the whereabouts of the prisoners then feel free to tell me, or just watch Beth...suffer." He smiled
"Oh Hades." Beth cursed standing up and turning to the mercenaries watching as their swords drew from their sheaths.
"Xena we have to help her, she's just a girl." Gabrielle pleaded.
"I know." The warrior sighed. "Just wait, I have to think of something."
Beth turned to the king, all eyes were on her, the villagers dared not move in fear of the king seeing them and punishing them.
"Father!" She shouted, the thick crimson blood now leaking onto her cheek. "I shall never give into your demands and neither will these people, I will kill you before you kill anybody else."
The king, shocked by the outburst, looked to his men. "Attack her!" He cried.
"No!" Gabrielle cried as the men approached Beth, she turned to the king. "How can you do this to your own daughter?!" She cried holding out her staff stepping in front of the crowd.
"Gabrie..." Xena began but was silenced by the bard.
"Why do you want to kill your own daughter?" She asked stepping forwards more into the open courtyard.
The king turned to one of his men and nodded, the man quietly drew his crossbow but not without Beth seeing.
"Young woman, get down." Beth screamed as the arrow was released towards Gabrielle. Beth ran across the courtyard and dived into the arrow, her mouth wrapped around the body of the arrow just slicing through the corner of her mouth, her dived turned into a roll and she stood perfectly with the arrow in her mouth, she looked over to the amazed crowd, then spat out the arrow tasting the blood in her mouth.
"Father, it's me you want, leave these people out of it!" She cried, her muscles tensed and in one swift movement the stake on her back was broken in half and the rope aorund her wrists loosened so she could shrug them off, she did.
"Get her!" The king cries in a panic.
"Come on then, let's have attitude!!" She screamed charging towards the mercenaries.
Gabrielle stumbled backwards into Xena.
"Did you see that, she caught the arrow in her mouth, she saved my..." Gabrielle was dragged back by Xena.
"Gabrielle what you just did was stupid, you put your life in jeopardy." Xena told her.
Beth waited for each man to come at her, there were only five of them, it should be easy, the first man was foolish, he ran at her with his sword raised over his head, she delivered a blow to his gut, he doubled over dropping his sword, she jumped forwards landing an elbow into the base of his neck rendering him unconscious, she dived into a roll grabbing the fallen sword, standing just in time to block herself from the next blow from another opponent, it was a side strike which left the man's head exposed, she headbutted him and he fell next to his comrad.
"Who's next?" She snarled approaching the other mercenaries swinging her sword.
"Xena she's good." Gabrielle whispered as Beth beat up the last three soldiers.
"Yeah." Xena replied.
"What now father?" Beth screamed. "Will you bring more men for me to fight?"
The king, in an awkward if not embarrassing situation now guarded by two beefy heavily-armed bodyguards, pulled a crossbow from his guard and raised it towards his daughter.
The dart spun through the air, and this time Beth didn't move, the dart hit her in the side of the neck, inches from the jugular vein, her knees buckled from beneath her, but before her Morpheus took over, she managed to prick the dart from her neck and slide it up one of her metal sleeves, and before falling to the floor she managed to say one last thing.
"Taking the easy way out father, again." She muttered, and again, there was darkness.
"He just shot her." Gabrielle whispered, shocked by the vision.
"It'll only stun her." Xena whispered as the crowd began to shout angrily at the king as they dragged Beth's beaten body into the dark dungeon's of Astian.
"He can't...You can't do that!!" Gabrielle screamed, seemingly above all the rest of the crowd's cries, which, to Gabrielle's comment, fell silent, the king turned to the young bard.
"Arrest her, put her with Beth where she, and anybody else who disagrees with me will rot." He ordered to his recovering men, they began towards Gabrielle like a steam train, unstoppable.
"Xena!?" Gabrielle panicked.
"Anybody who resists arrest will be killed." The king shouted as villagers began to back away, realising they suddenly had something else to do.
The soldier's calloused hands wrapped tightly around the bard's wrists and soon Xena was taken too.
"Don't worry we'll get outta here." Xena whispered to Gabrielle. "Just go along with it, we can't afford any injuries."
The room was dark, wet, and stunk of rotting wood, drips of rain came through the stone ceiling, the room was seperated by vertical steel bars that no soul could pass through, this, was as bad as Tartarus.
The soldier's carelessly threw the bard and the unarmed warrior into the room, where they immediately noticed the smell, the dampness and the cold.
"Enjoy your time here." One of the soldier's laughed.
Xena looked around the room in disgust, there were empty and broken barrels scattered among the hay.
"Next time I'll keep my mouth shut." Gabrielle muttered as she picked herself up and brushed herself down.
Hours passed by and soon nightfall came.
There was a groan from the other side of the room, behind the bars.
"Looks like we're not alone." The warrior muttered automatically grabbing her sword, yet her hand clenched thin air as she remembered her weapons had been taken from her.
Slowly she advanced towards the bars.
"Careful Xena." Gabrielle whispered creeping behind her.
Beth's sensibilty of her body came back to her, the dart's effects were beginning to wear off, she opened her eyes, not suprised by what she saw, she had been here before, she moved to touch her throbbing head but found that her hands were chained to the wall. "Great." She whispered sighing.
"Who's in there?" The voice stunned her, nobody usually came down here with her.
She tried to stand to her feet, her legs were weak but still she stood from behind the barrel that hid her to find out who was there.
"Beth?" Xena whispered at the young girl, Gabrielle appeared from behind her and stared in awe at the girl's battered body.
"Xena? G...Gabrielle? What in Hades name are you doing here?" She asked.
"The king ordered us down here. How do you know our names?" Xena asked curiously.
"I've heard of you, the warrior princess and the bard of Potedeia, my father stops no end talking about you." The girl shook her head.
"I'll take that as a compliment." The warrior sighed.
"She knew who I was." The bard muttered. "Nobody has ever known who I was." She smiled.
"Thank you Gabrielle, for trying to save me." Beth smiled at the bard.
"Thank you *for* saving me." The bard told her.
Beth rememebered how she had hid the dart, and slowly pulled her bound hands together and reached in to pull the dart out.
"What're you doing?" Xena asked.
"Getting us outta here." Beth replied carefully sticking the end of the dart into the keyhole of her chain cuffs.
"Us?" Gabrielle asked.
"I'm sorry, you wanna stay in here?" Beth asked raising an eyebrow.
"No thank you." The bard shook looking around the place.
"Well then." Beth said as her cuffs clicked open.
"Let's get us outta here." She smiled.
There was a tap at the small window not far above Beth, the girl smiled climbing onto a barrel.
"Beth, Beth are you there?" Lucas' voice whispered.
"I'm here Lucas." Beth replied as they came eye to eye.
"Thank the gods you're okay." He smiled placing a hand through the bars of the window and onto hers, she smiled.
"I've got company, they're coming with me." Beth explained. "I need you to get my horse and my weapons and also their horse and Xena's weapons, put them outside the gate, out of sight." She whispered. Lucas nodded turning away., "Lucas, be careful." She whispered, he winked and was gone into the now dark courtyard.
Beth jumped from the barrel and turned back to Xena and Gabrielle. "That's the transport sorted." She smiled moving towards the bars.
"Now look." She whispered grabbing the bars. "I know you don't know me, but you're gonna have to trust me." She told them, they nodded.
"Beth, why do you do this?" Xena asked looking down at the young girl that relected her years ago.
"He's my father, his crimes are mine, I'm here to stop them." She explained.
"What he does is not your fault." The bard added.
"It's not that simple Gabrielle." She shook her head. "Anyway, let's get outta here." She told them looking around the room.
"Have you been in here before?" The warrior asked.
"Yep, and got out." Beth smiled showing her clean, unmarked teeth, she pushed a barrel out of the way to reveal a small hole, hand dug.
"My father doesn't know about this." She muttered half to herself barely hearable to the others.
"But we're on the other side of the bars." Gabrielle groaned, Beth stood up shaking her head, smiling at the bard.
"I know." She whispered pulling a barrel and a heap of straw away from the corner of the bars, she told the warrior to do the same and they both unveiled another hand dug hole that went deep under the bars.
"I'm afraid it involves getting on your hands and knees and crawling." Beth sighed.
"Better than staying the night in here." The warrior smiled as she went headfirst under the bars, Beth gave her a hand up and they both helped Gabrielle under the small hole beneath the bars.
"Now for the bigger hole. When you get out stay well against the wall, there will be guards on sentry duty, my father will probably expect a breakout from me so they'll be on full alert." Beth whispered, they nodded their understanding, Gabrielle went first, the hole was deep and about three metres long, she found she had to push straw from above her to uncover the exit, her hands grabbed the side of the hole and she pulled herself out.
"Okay, I'm through." She whispered through the hole then stood against the wall, the courtyard was in front of her, it was dark, there was a small light in a house about one hundred yards across the courtyard, she could see the sentries Beth had mentioned and the gate they would be heading to, but the darkness hid her well, it shouldn't be hard, she hoped.
Xena appeared next out of the hole, spitting out the dirt she had swallowed while passing through, as she stood up.
"Looks pretty peaceful to me." Gabrielle whispered.
"Ever heard of an ambush Gabrielle?" The warrior smirked which was shortly followed by a soft elbow in the gut, Beth appeared beside them.
"This way." She whispered signalling them to the left, towards the gate.
After walking about twenty metres, halfway to the gate Beth held out her hand to stop them as she reached an opening that they would have to cross to get to their destination.
"Five men around the corner waiting for us." She whispered.
"How do you know?" Gabrielle asked from behind Xena.
"You can smell them." The warrior cut in, Beth smiled at her in approval.
"How do we get rid of them?" Xena asked.
"Simple, a decoy, but it means we'll have to run for it." The young girl explained.
"Suits me." Xena nodded.
"Here goes then." Beth smiled putting her hands around her mouth and made a believable owl signal, she finished.
"Is that it?" Gabrielle asked disappointedly.
"Oh no Gabrielle, not even near. Now get ready to run to the gate, okay?" Beth told them. They both nodded.
Lucas lit the oil bombs with the torch he held and before they blew up in his face he threw them out onto the small path near where the five guards stood ready to ambush Beth, there were no houses near so nobody was in danger, only the guards. One after another they blew up, huge flames shot from the small balls of flammable oil and immediately the guards attention was on them.
"What in Hades name is that?" One screamed over the explosions.
"Beth!" Another man replied as they all ran towards the fire to scout around for the child and try to put out the fires.
"Now, run!" Beth cried as she broke into a fast but comfortable sprint, shortly followed by Xena and Gabrielle, the run was short but still energy consuming, all three were panting by the time they reached the gate.
"To the horses." Beth panted as they slipped out of the gates into the dense forest.
There, as planned stood Argo with Xena's weapons and the biggest black stallion Xena had ever seen, it's coat shining in the moonlight.
"That's a nice horse." Xena whispered.
"It's my father's best war horse." Beth laughed at the thought of her father finding out his horse had been stolen.
Xena quickly loaded her weapons, her sword, chakram and whip, Beth loaded hers, a dagger, sword and a metal ball on a rope, she quickly scrambled onto her horse in unison with Xena, Gabrielle was lifted up by Xena's strong arms onto Argo.
"Hya!" Beth's command almost bolted the black horse into action, Xena followed, Gabrielle clinging tightly to the warrior's waist.
After about half an hour riding like steam trains they stopped in a dense part of the forest, small beams of light were emitted through the thickness of the trees making the place appear mystical.
"Why have we stopped?" Gabrielle asked as she studied Xena's face for answer, none was found there as the warrior had no clue either.
"It's better if we split up now." Beth told them.
"Why?" The bard asked.
"Because my father's men will be looking for me and if they catch me you'll be taken with me if you're with me." Beth explained. "And I have to make a detour." Beth added almost regretfully.
"Where are you headed?" Xena asked.
"Amphipolis." The young girl replied. Both woman seemed shocked by the answer. "Why?" The bard repeated.
"I have business to sort out there."
"Look, we're headed that way, why not join us." The warrior suggested, Beth shook her head.
"On the way to Amphipolis is one of my father's castles, I must take the long way round to avoid any trouble, I wouldn't want to lengthen your journey. Besides, where I'm going, I'm expecting an ambush." Beth told them.
"Then why go there?" The bard asked incoherent of the girl's explanation.
"It's just something I have to do, someone I have to visit." Beth seemed almost sad to mention the visit, her eyes showed the pain that settled within her and neither the warrior or the bard could understand the girl's actions.
"There's a town between here and Amphipolis, we'll be there if you need us." The warrior smiled placing a hand onto the girl's shoulder. "Thanks for getting us out."
Beth smiled and before the tears could come to her eyes she kicked on Orion, her horse, and was lost into the depths of the forest.
"Xena, I think we should go after her, help her." Gabrielle whispered.
"Gabrielle, she needs to be alone for some reason, maybe to grieve over somebody." The warrior explained.
"Xena she was expecting an ambush. Look, she helped us get out of that...dung hole, the least we could do is make sure she's alright."
After thinking about it for a while the warrior nodded.
"Yeah, maybe you're right, but we stay out of vision and help her only if she needs it, we don't want her to think that we think she's incapable of looking after herself." The warrior explained.
"Deal." The bard smiled.
Xena kicked on Argo into a smooth canter, helping the girl was something she wanted to do, it was something that had never happened to the warrior in her childhood and she was going to make sure Beth recieved what she had never got, and make sure another nation of destroyers wasn't born.
It was easy to follow the girl, her horse was big and left easily seen hoof marks in the slightly damp earth, though the darkness made it hard not to bump into things.
Beth jumped from her horse and tied her reins to the branch of a tree, her eyes wandered onto some flowers, she had heard they were called blue drops and the resemblence was clear, she bent down and plucked them from the ground, a small bunch.
In front of her was an opening in the forest, one she had spent two days making, chopping and burning down the trees into a perfect circle with an area of a large house. She slowly entered, it was unlikely that people could find this place, it was far into the dense forest, so far, that most people feared entering around here because of the eerie atmosphere, but that's what made it special for Beth.
The pitch was how she had left it, there was a small torch on one of the trees that she lit, which gave the place a more fervent atmosphere, the circle lit up into a perfect orange glow, she didn't care if people were attracted to the light amongst the darkness the forest offered, not now.
Her eyes filled with tears of pain, the flowers were tightly clenched in her hand as she made her way to what she was there for.
"Xena do you see that?" Gabrielle asked pointing to the small glow that came deeper from the forest, Xena nodded.
"Looks like she's *inviting* an ambush, if we get any closer we'll have to be very quiet."
"Okay, but hurry though." The bard added.
Beth slowly sunk onto her knees and placed the flowers delicately at the base of the gravestone that she had made and engraved, though covered in a layer of dirt, the tombstone was just readable, the ingravings were dug into the stone roughly by a knife of some sort, 'Menthese, rest in peace, dear brother.' it read in Greek, Beth shook her head as she wiped away the dirt from the face of the stone, the tears now freely flowing.
Xena and Gabrielle watched in silence at the small commotion of devotion, both silenced by the young girl's actions, but able to hear the words the girl spoke next.
"Dear brother..." Beth took a breath not trusting her voice to speak without breaking. "I know you can hear me right now, though...though I wish I could see you...." She sighed. "I would give anything to take back what has happened to be in your place, to be with you again. Everyday without you is worse than...than all our father's beatings, I don't know if it's worth it anymore...I don't know if I can hold myself together, but..." There was a break of silence as Beth gathered herself. "...As long as I know you're safe now, that nothing and no-one can harm you, there's a certain calmness in me, that you don't have to suffer the wrath of this horrible world anymore, that's what keeps me going, you do. And now I've found something I've been looking for for a long time, I'm nearly there." A small smile appeared onto Beth's face as the memories of her and her brother came back to her.
"But, as I swore at your death, I will avenge it."
Tears fell sub-consciously from Gabrielle's eyes at the tableau of a young girl speaking to her lost brother, and though Xena's stoic face still remained, she felt the same way to, only deeper, she thought of Lyceus and how her visits to his grave were so similar, how Beth and the young Xena were so similar, she shook her head and managed to catch a tear before it managed to get to far down her cheek, but did not go unnnoticed by the bard.
"Xena? Are you okay?" Gabrielle whispered as she looked up to the warrior's face that glowed in the torch light.
The warrior shook her head. "Lyceus." She whisphered barely hearable.
There was movement in the bushes infront of Beth, although she heard it her eyes closed. "And now, my anger shall speak through my sword once again as it has always done. Be safe Menthese." She whispered, the second she drew her sword a man leapt out of the bushes in front of her, Beth jumped to her feet and somersaulted over her brother's grave landing her feet into the man's chest knocking him to the ground, he bore her father's symbol, Beth shook her head as another man approached her, she kicked the already down man square in the face knocking him cold, then dealt with the second man, easily. She threw her sword down much to the man's amazement.
"I will not draw blood on my brother's grave." She shouted charging at the stunned warrior, he poked the sword at her, she caught his clenched fist, carefully avoiding the sword as it shot past, she rolled herself into the man's body slamming her elbow into his gut then raised her balled fist to meet his face.
Three more men came out of the woods.
"Xena, shouldn't we help her?" Gabrielle whispered wiping away the tears. The warrior still dazed into sadness shook her head, not at the question but at the unbelievably painful memories of Lyceus' death.
"Xena?" The bard whispered.
Beth easily dispatched the three men with her bare hands, she couldn't deny that her father had taught her well, but she only listened to him so she could one day pay him revenge.
Five more stepped from the bushes surrounding her, all heavily armed, there was no seconds hesitation as Beth charged into one of them, nothing was going to come in the way of her promise to her brothers, not even some of her father's best trained weapon experts, her scream as she charged, filled the silent air and jumped everyone also waking Xena from her trance.
Beth hit the first man head first into his chest, she didn't have a clue what she was doing, or going to do, but she had to get these villains away from her brother's grave.
Xena whipped out her sword, and began towards the battle, angry at the mercenraies for interrupting Beth's prayer to her brother, angry like she had been when someone had once tried to loot her brother's grave.
The men began fighting Beth, their nyctalopia slowed their reactions, but Beth was used to the dark, she had spent many nights under the stars
"iyiyiyiyiyiy." Her famous war cry now pierced the air as she somersaulted into the group of armed men, she smiled.
"You really shouldn't interrupt things like that." She snarled before she attacked one of them.
"Xena, no blood on my brother's grave." Was all Beth said to her as they began to kick butt, Xena nodded at the statement only using the flat of her sword but fighting just as well.
After three were down, the other two began to realise they were overpowered, one ran but before the other managed to escape Beth grabbed his arm, spun him around and grabbed his neck, he looked down at the girl having underestimated her strength.
"You go, and you tell my father that I will not rest until his blood is on my hands." She muttered through clenched teeth and wet cheeks. The man nodded slowly, his air restricted, Beth let go and watched as he ran off, she sighed as she began to roll the unconscious bodies of the men off her brother's grounds, Xena joined in, picking them up and throwing them into the woods, after it was done, silence swept over them both like a blanket. Gabrielle appeared, she watched as they watched each other.
Xena could feel something about the girl, something she didn't know how to explain, she just felt the girl belonged with her. Beth knew what was going on, she had hoped for it, but she wouldn't say anything, she was still cautious of Xena, she'd let the warrior figure it out for herself.
"Are you two okay?" The bard interrupted.
Xena turned to her first and nodded still curious of the feeling that overwhelmed her.
"We're fine." She replied in a slightly quieter voice than normal.
"Beth." Xena said as she turned to the young girl who's eyes were now on Gabrielle.
"Now that you're here why don't you stay with us until we arrive at Amphipolis, we don't mind taking the long way round." The warrior looked into the child's eyes and saw something familiar there, 'I'll figure it out.' She mused.
"Isn't that right Gabrielle?" Xena asked, at the first the bard was shocked, Xena was acting strange towards the girl, she had done ever since she had heard the girl's prayer, but still, the girl was alone, she nodded. "That's fine by me." She smiled.
After finding a quiet secluded place about five miles from Menthese's grave Argo stopped, the three of them had not talked during the ride, but it was certain that questions would be asked when they settled down.
"I'll go collect some wood for a fire." Beth offered not waiting for a reply but walking off into the forest.
"Xena what's wrong with you? You're acting...well strange."
"I'm fine Gabrielle, it's just...nevermind, give me a hand with the bedrolls."
"Xena, what do you think about Beth?" The bard asked.
"When I look at her I see me when I was younger, I want to give her the help I never got." The warrior whispered, feeling the hand of the bard rub on her shoulder she smiled at Gabrielle.
Beth returned quickly with a bundle of sticks that could be easily burnt, and soon they were. The three of them sat around the fire, Gabrielle lying in the bedroll, Beth and Xena leaning against trees on opposite sides of the fire facing each other.
"Beth, what was your brother like?" Gabrielle asked, hoping it wasn't a touchy subject.
"My brother, was one of the best bard's I'd ever known, he was young but very talented at telling stories, like you Gabrielle, he'd recite ones of your journeys together, Prometheus, Celesta, all of them, he was kind, giving, very funny." Beth smiled.
"How did he...?" Xena couldn't bring herself to finish the sentence and hoped Beth would catch on.
"He died, on the orders of my father." Beth gulped silently trying to hold back the tears. "My father only wanted warriors, not bard's, Menthese was so young he didn't even know how to hold a sword." Beth shook her head, quickly wiping away the tear that fell sub-consciously down her cheek.
"What happened?" Gabrielle asked sitting up.
"My father gave him an ultimatum, learn the sword or die. Menthese had told me before that he'd rather die than learn to kill, so my father beat him, he beat him *so* hard, but Menthese wouldn't retaliate, he never hit back once, I know that because my father chained me to the wall and made me watch, repeating that if I didn't learn the sword this would happen to me too. Menthese's injuries were so servere that he didn't even make it through the night, he died in my arms, telling me to do what I thought was right and not to die like he had." The tears were unstoppable, they made their paths down the young girls just who had unknowingly drove a dagger into the floor as she told them both the story, Gabrielle moved to the side of the girl and placed an arm around her, she looked up at the horrified face of Xena's.
Beth gently pulled away from Gsabrielle's touch and wiped away the tears.
"You chose the sword." Xena whispered.
"No, I told my father that I wouldn't learn to fight, but I wouldn't die like Menthese did."
"What did you do?" Gabrielle asked.
"My father didn't beat me, his first Lieutenant did, after a few hits he...raped me, and so I killed him." Beth shook her head hearing the gasps of the other two, she knew that if she stopped right now there would be an unearthly silence among and so she clenched her fists and continued. "When my father found out that I'd killed his best Lieutenant he told me to learn the sword and I'd make a great warrior just like...Anyway, the only reason I took up the sword, was so that I could avenge my brother's death."
"What about your mother, what did she do when Menthese died?"
"We don't share the same mother, Menthese's died when he was born, my father left mine when I was two."
"Where is she now?" Xena asked.
"Near here." Beth smiled.
There was a noise in the bushes and in unity Beth and Xena jumped up unsheathing their swords and turned to the bushes were the suspect was. A boy stepped out, no older than Beth, his brown hair waved just above his ears, his deep brown orbs penetrated Beth's giving out a thousand different emotions, he was well built for his age wearing tight leather pants and a black waist coat revealing a small part of his slightly muscualr torso, a black band was tied across his forehead and a bow and arrows were slung across his shoulder.
"Leo." Beth smiled dropping her sword and running over to the boy, jumping over Gabrielle as she did.
"Oh Beth." Was the deep voiced reply as a smile appeared on the face of the boy, dimples denting his cheeks. They hugged passionately as if to say goodbye forever, Beth eventually pulled away realising she had an audience, she turned slowly to the two faces that mirrored each other, suprise and confusion.
"I take it you know him?" The warrior raised an eyebrow.
"Xena, Gabrielle, this is Leo, a good friend of mine." She smiled, Leo looked at them both.
"Xena. Isn't that your..." He began but was quickly cut off by Beth's interruption. "...Friend." She added quickly, Leo nodded his head in silent knowledge of what was happening.
"It's nice to meet you two, Gabrielle and Xena." He smiled, Gabrielle was taken back by his politeness, his appearance misjudged his personality.
Leo remained with the threesome as they sat around the fire, Xena eager to know about the girl's background, something she needed to do but didn't know why.
"So, how did you and Leo meet?" Gabrielle asked smiling as Leo crept closer to Beth as they lent against a tree.
"I was in her father's prison, Beth saved me, and from then on I got in trouble on purpose." His smile appeared again and seemed to brighten up the atmosphere.
"Leo, I need to talk to you about a few things." Beth suggested looking at him, he nodded and without words to the other two they left the campsite.
"I'd say he was more than a good friend." Xena laughed smiling to Gabrielle,
"Oh, young love." She sighed leaning back onto her bedroll in a slightly dreamy state, Xena rolled her eyes at the bard's soppyness.
"Xena, what do you think of Beth?" The bard asked turning to her.
"You already asked me that." The warrior commented.
"Well now that you know her better."
"She's a nice girl." The warrior shrugged, Gabrielle shook her head.
"What were you thinking when we watched her prayer?" Gabrielle addressed the question seriously, the warrior sighed. "I saw me, twelve years ago, when Lyceus died." She looked into the fire to concentrate the pain to somewhere else, but she couldn't hide it and the only thing she could do next, was run. "Listen Gabrielle, I think there was someone following us, I'm just gonna scout around, see what I can find." The warrior whispered in a low serious tone.
"Okay, but be careful." Gabrielle whispered, the warrior nodded before leaving like the other two had done. Gabrielle was left in the company of the stars, something she enjoyed.
"Leo, why are you here?" Beth asked as she pulled him to a stop.
"Beth, I had to see you, check you were okay." Was the strained reply.
"You could've been killed on your way." Beth told him seriously.
"Well, that's love for you." He smiled gently kissing the girl on the lips, Beth returned the kiss which turned deeper, Leo's hands slowly brush along Beth's neck. The young girl's hand slid down Leo's back as they relished the moment together after waiting so long.
Xena walked along, stealth like, sword in hand. The twigs under her feet made no sound as she trod carefully onto them, but obviously that wasn't enough, there was a whipping sound, and before the warrior knew her sword was out of her hand and she was struggling in midair in a roped bag.
"We've got her." Was the cry that followed, Xena struggled as the rope that encapsulated her began to swing in the air, she untied her chakram but realised that rope holes were too small for her to penetrate it through, she quickly took out her breast dagger and began cutting herself from the tangle, she managed to cut one rope but the dagger was knocked out of her hand.
"Oh no you don't." The same voice was now closer, she looked towards the sound only to recieve the hilt of a sword in her temple, and then, there was blackness.
Leo and Beth had returned to the camp to find Gabrielle gazing up into the stars.
"Gabrielle." Beth whispered, the bard shot upright grabbing her staff.
"Gabrielle, it's me, Beth."
"Oh right, sorry, er, Xena thought someone was following us so she went to check it out, left me here on my own." The bard huffed throwing her thumb towards the bushes.
Beth nodded silently concerned, she knew who it was.
The conversation was mild between the three of them.
"Beth, if you're a king's daughter, that would make you a princess right?" Gabrielle asked.
"Right, sort of."
"And you're kind of a warrior right?"
"Right, sort of." Beth replied wondering where this was leading.
"That would make you a sort of warrior princess, like Xena." Gabrielle smiled.
"Ummm...I guess so, but I wouldn't say I'm much of a warrior, or a princess for that matter!" She smiled.
"Okay, a nearly warrior princess then." Gabrielle nodded.
Beth and Leo settled down beside each other lent against a tree opposite Gabrielle over the fire.
"Beth, you never told me about your mother." The bard suddenly spoke as she lay supine to the stars musing.
"When was the last time you saw her?"
"Er, about five summers ago, my father decided to visit her, 'collect taxes' he told me." Beth shook her head in disgust.
"Where does she live?" The bard asked.
"Er...well, she lives in Amphipolis." The girl stuttered, Leo looked to her in concern, wondering whether or not she would tell Gabrielle the truth.
"Oh really!" The bard smiled sitting up. "Xena might know her."
"Possible, very possible." Beth nodded.
"What's her name?"
"Now, Gabrielle, I can't lie to you anymore, and I don't blame you if you don't believe me, but...her name is Cyrene, she owns a tavern in Amphipolis." Beth sighed with a quick squeeze from Leo.
"Cyrene, that's Xena's mother's name and she owns a...That would make you Xena's..."
"Sister." Leo cut in.
"I know it's not something you'd expect, but it's true, and I came here looking for her." Beth explained.
"Then why didn't you tell her?" Gabrielle asked.
"Gabrielle, she's a warrior princess, I'm a pathetic excuse for a king's daughter, why would she want me as a sister?" Beth shook her head.
"Xena wouldn't care who you are, Beth, if you're here sister then you should tell her." Gabrielle whispered trying to overcome the shock of the conversation.
"You don't sound to suprised." Leo queeried.
"Well, come on, you've got so much in common, you fight like her, you talk like her, you dress like her, you basically are her." the bard laughed trying to lighten the mood.
"Y'think so?" Beth smiled, the bard nodded.
The blackness that enveloped the warrior, reverted into a blurred picture, she could feel her hands bound together above her, her feet tied tightly, her weapons hung up on the wall out of reach beside her, the room she was in was warm, lit by candles, quite big, filled with wooden furniture, two guards at the door, and someone in front of her, the king, where in Hades was she?
"Xena, you're finally awake." The king smiled.
"What in Tartarus is going on?" She questioned angrily trying to squeeze out of the tightly bound ropes.
"Oh Xena, you're my bait." His eyes lit up and Xena looked at him in disgust. "What for?"
"For Beth." He began pacing around Xena as she dangled from a chain in the ceiling at the centre of the room.
"Why would Beth come for me?" The warrior spat.
"Oh Xena, don't tell me she hasn't told you her...'little' secret." He whispered behind her ear.
"What are you talking about?" Xena began to get worried.
"Your mother, Beth's mother, Cyrene!" He shrugged. "Y'see, they're all the same person." The king was evidently enjoying this.
"I don't understand wh..."
"Oh come on Xena, Beth's your sister, I may be her father, but Cyrene's her mother, I should know that." He smiled.
"You're lying, if it were true why wouldn't Beth tell me? How do I know you're not working for...Ares?"
"Questions, questions." The king shook his head. "Beth wouldn't tell you because, well, she's pathetic really, and as for Ares, yeah in my dreams." The sarcasm crept into his voice as he continued. "Xena, she knows who you are, that's why she was on her way to Amphipolis, to see Cyrene, and when you showed up, bonus!" His laughter echoed around the hollow room. "So, we'll just wait here for her to come."
"She won't come for me."
"I know Beth, she's very sentimental about...family members, and seeing as you've just joined the club, well, looks like you're included!"
Xena's head ached, could it be true? Well sure, Cyrene could have had a child while Xena was 'the destroyer of nations' but why wouldn't Cyrene tell her? Shame? No, not Cyrene. It couldn't have been Ares, everything seemed so real, think Xena, think! Maybe he is telling the truth, I'll have to ask mother. Xena mused.
There was an almost silent whooshing sound piercing the air, in an instant Beth had caught Xena's chakram inches before it penetrated into Gabrielle's skull.
"Holy Gaia." The bard whispered.
"Oh Hades, her chakram, this can only mean one thing." Beth shook her head almost blind to what had just happened, how she had grabbed the chakram out of the air.
"What?" The bard asked.
"My father's captured Xena, this was a message for me to come and get her." Beth shook her head.
"Of course he does, he was with Cyrene for about a year, while I was a baby. Her baby." Beth explained. "Look, you two have to stay here while I go after Xena." Beth told them.
"No way." The bard protested. "If Xena's in danger then I'm going after her, and I'm not leaving you alone to face your father."
"It's alright Gabrielle, it won't be the first time. But you can't come, he'll kill you." Beth told her.
"Then let me come." Leo protested standing beside Beth.
"Uh uh." She shook her head. "I don't want to make this complicated, just me, that's what my father wants."
"Then why are you giving it to him?" Leo asked.
"Because I have to get Xena out." Beth explained. "Please, just let me go." She pleaded, Leo sighed nodding.
"We'll bring up the rear, provide transport for your escape." The bard told her.
"Fine, whatever!" Beth smiled patting the bard on the shoulder. "Just be careful." She warned them.
"It's not us that need to be." The bard hinted.
"I'll be fine, but I have to go." She told them quickly kissing Leo then running off into the dark woods, leaving the strangers staring into the space after her.
Beth ran as fast as she could through the woods, she noticed something that lit up in the moonlight, bending down, she saw it was Xena's breast dagger, she shook her head. "You'll pay for this father." She muttered sliding the dagger into her metal sleeve. Still holding the chakram she began again to run towards the castle she had been to so many times before, but wanted to forget.
It was in sight, two guards at the door, one patrolling on the walls, 'easy' she grinned, silent as a stealth she crept up against the wall and towards the two guards men, without either making a noise they were on the floor unconscious from Beth's mortal combat skills, she entered the castle, there were few guards around, proabably purposely, making it easy for her to get in.
"My, my, Beths' running late." The king tutted shaking his head.
"What do you want from her, why don't you just let her go?" The warrior asked.
"Oh, it's not that simple, y'see, I'm a king, she's next to inherit the throne unless of course she chooses to pass it on to someone blah blah blah, I need her under my control, so I can teach her how to be a queen, my way. It's a bit like the Amazons really, only this is serious." He smiled.
"You're pathetic." The warrior muttered.
"Sticking up for dear sister are we?" The king grinned evily. "Good, that's the way I want it, then she'll be more upset when I kill you." He smiled.
There was a loud bang as the door to the room collapsed as Beth kicked it in, she landed with a small roll and held the chakram up in a 'Xena stance'.
"Oh father, that's not gonna happen." Beth shook her head continuing their conversation, she threw the chakram into the air, it sliced through the chains tying Xena to the wall, she doubled over as the blood rushed back into her wrists, Beth whipped out the breast dagger and threw at the ropes around the warrior's legs, her aim was precise and the rope almost undid itself.
She turned to her father catching the chakram in mid flight, Xena ran to her weapons as the guards stood in attack mode, ready at their order.
"I'm good father, better than you, you made an animal." She smiled, her cry rang out across the castle as she plunged full into attack at the guards drawing her sword, they were easy, with Xena they may as well have been flies, the king watched in astonishment.
"Guards!" He shouted. "Guards!"
More guards piled into the room, but Xena and Beth worked well as a team, slicing and dicing came easy and carefree.
A block here, a blow there, a parry and a thrust and the guards kept falling.
"Xena, follow me." Beth shouted as she dealt with the last one, there were more coming, they both knew it, Beth ran past her frozen father grabbing a torch and revealed a small exit behind a wooden table, she led Xena through a dark passage, the floor was covered in straw, they scrambled up some steps, Beth turned and threw the torch onto the straw, it lit immediately and blocked the way for any others trying to follow them.
"Come on." Beth shouted as they appeared on the roof of the castle.
"Beth, wait." Xena grabbed the girl by the arm.
"Is it true? Are you really....?" She looked into the girls eyes and knew the answer coming.
"'Fraid so." She shrugged.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Xena asked.
"I'm a child, who'd believe I was the warrior princess' sister?"
"I would." Xena replied, knowing now that it was true.
"You would?...Thank you, means alot to me." Beth smiled, Xena cupped the girl's face with her hand, looking down at her almost sympathetically, it all clicked into place, that strange feeling had gone now that she knew what it was.
"Come on Xena, we'd better go." Beth whispered as she saw men entered onto the roof.
"How do we get off the roof?" The warrior asked.
"We jump." Beth smiled.
They ran to the side of the building, below them was a lake.
"You ready?" Xena asked taking the girl's hand.
"I s'pose." Beth sighed, and they both leapt off the edge of the castle, 20ft down they hit the lake, both shot underwater searching for each other, Xena's hand caught Beth's arm in the dark depths of the water, she yanked it up and they both resurfaced gasping for breath.
"We made it." Beth muttered.
"The guards'll be on us soon, we have to get out of here." Xena suggested.
"Right." Beth nodded spitting the rest of the water out of her mouth.
They both began swimming towards the edge of the lake, climbing out onto the side, Xena turned and helped her sis...Beth, 'for now Xena, until you get used to it, until you know for sure.' The warrior mused as she dragged the drenched girl out of the dirty lake, they were both soaked to the bone. Arrows began to spring near and around them, they looked up to see the king and his archers looking down on them.
"Oh Hades." Beth cursed as they began to run from the flying dangers.
"Xena, Beth! Over here!" Gabrielle cried as she and Leo led Orion and Argo about thirty metres away from Beth and Xena.
"Forget Xena, go for the girl with the horses and her companion, maybe that'll give Beth something to think about." The king commanded to his archers.
Xena and Beth were forced to take cover as another batch of abundant arrows flew around them into the ground.
Xena heard the king's command and saw the archer's turn to Gabrielle as they loaded.
"Gabrielle! Get down!" The warrior cried drawing out her chakram Beth had given to her in the dark passage, Beth had already seen the danger, she was already sprinting towards Gabrielle, it all seemed like slow motion, Gabrielle was sat upon Argo, well in view of the archers, she could now see they were aimed for her and what was going on, but she couldn't move, her fear had frozen her.
The chakram span through the air knocking the archer's to the floor, but not before they released their arrows.
Beth could feel the arrows cut through the air towards Gabrielle, she couldn't see them in time to catch them though, but she knew she had to stop them and she only knew one way too, her foot reached the stirrup of Argo and she threw herself over Gabrielle as the arrows reached their target, not into Gabrielle's delicate body, but into Beth's back.
"NO!" Xena cried receiving the chakram and running after Beth.
Two arrows entered into her left shoulder blade and one below her left ribs, she threw her head back in pain as they protruded into her flesh, but she never released her grip on Gabrielle until she felt herself falling.
"That hurt." She hoarsed as she fell onto her right side, Leo quickly at her side followed by Xena.
The king smiled at his achievement.
"Beth, Beth can you hear me." Xena asked as the girl began to struggle to raise to her feet. "No Beth, stay down." Xena commanded gently, there was blood coming out of the girl's mouth, maybe it was from the pain, or had an arrow pierced her lung?
Gabrielle jumped from the horse, concerned mirrored on everyone's face.
"No Xena, we have to go, he'll kill us all." Beth whispered.
"No Beth, you're not moving." Xena shook her head.
"Will she be okay?" Leo panicked.
"She'll be fine." Xena replied trying to calm herself.
Beth shook her head, with all her power she scrambled to her feet, her left side useless to her, she jumped onto Argo in front of her. "Come on." Her voice was deep and cracking but she tried to make it sound as much like an order as possible.
Xena saw the determination in Beth's eyes and jumped onto Argo behind her, letting her lean half into her stomach but watching out for the arrows sticking out of her back, Leo and Gabrielle hesistantly jumped onto Orion, Leo taking the reins and they rode away as more arrows showered them, none hitting their target.
It was about five minutes before the horses stopped and the dim light of the fire Xena had made earlier appeared.
Slowly, Xena lifted Beth into her arms and carried her off next to the fire, Beth had nearly lost consciousness by now and Xena looked down at her in pain.
The fire was relit and the three worked in silence getting the arrows out of the young girl's body, she lay on her front, not complaining at all about the pain, she had learnt how to deal with it.
After removing the layer of clothing on Beths' back, the arrow wounds were clear, and so were the scars of a previous whipping.
"What the...?" Was all the warrior managed to get out as she looked to Leo for answers as to why there were five nasty lines across Beth's back.
"Her father got angry." Was all the boy said as his concentration returned to Beth, Xena shook her head.
"Beth, I'm gonna take the first arrow out." Xena whispered, tears spiking her eyes, she had only just found her, why hadn't her chakram reached the archers earlier?
"Fine." Beth's reply was tight and painful. Gabrielle could see Xena's worry, she placed a hand on the warrior's shaking arm, they looked at each other. "Calm down Xena." She whispered, the warrior nodded.
The arrows weren't in too deep, Xena couldn't push them through in fear of penetrating the lung or heart, she had to rip them out, the most hard and painful way.
"Gabrielle get the sword from the fire." Xena told her, the bard nodded taking Xena's sword out of the flames, it's metal end red hot.
"Here goes." Xena sighed as she ripped the arrow from Beths' back, the girl's cry was stiffled to an 'oh ho', tears fell from her eyes as the blackness slowly and painfully engulfed her.
"What's happened?!" Leo cried.
"It's okay, she passed out from the pain." The warrior explained, Gabrielle could hear the pain in her friend's voice as she handed the warrior the sword, Xena placed the steaming sword onto Beth's back, it hissed as the flesh burnt under the heat.
It took another half an hour to take the other two arrows out, Gabrielle had refused to watch after the second one was lodged and Xena had to use her breast dagger to help get it out.
All the panic was over, Xena sat next to Beth, it was up to the girl now, she just hoped it wasn't too late. Leo was asleep beside Beth, his hand binded with hers, and now only the bard and the warrior were awake.
"I'm so sorry Xena, if I had never been on Argo this would..." Gabrielle shook her head.
"No Gabrielle, I won't let you blame yourself for this, it wasn't your fault, you were trying to help us." Xena explained placing a hand onto the bard's shoulder.
"Xena, you do know who she is."
"Yeah I know." The warrior nodded placing a hand onto Beth's back, sighing at the scars.
"When we get to Amphipolis, what're you going to say to Cyrene?" Gabrielle asked.
"I think we'll see what she has to say first." The warrior smiled lightly.
"So you believe her." The bard nodded.
"In a way Gabrielle, I knew there was something, I had this feeling." Xena explained.
"A warrior's instinct." The bard laughed, Xena managed a smile.
"What are you going to do in the morning?" Gabrielle asked, concerned for Xena's feelings.
"That depends on Beth, she sustained bad injuries, but we should get out of the forest in case the king is tracking us, but I don't want to move Beth to soon, we should head towards Amphipolis as soon as we can to clear this mess up."
"We could make a raft and tie it to the back of Argo, Beth could lie on it, that way she could rest and we could move." Gabrielle explained.
"That's a good idea Gabrielle." The warrior patted the bard on the shoulder then turned back to the peaceful face of Beth and sighed.
"What's on your mind Xena?" The bard whispered, not wanting to intrude on her thoughts.
"She's so young Gabrielle, look at her, she's not even an adult and she's already lost her blood inocence and been beaten by her father, and raped." The warrior restrained the tears that spiked her eyes and gulped away the lump in her throat.
"Xena she'll be fine, now that she's...now that she's found you."
The warrior smiled. "Get some sleep Gabrielle, it's gonna be a busy day tommorow, for all of us."
It was early morning, Xena had been awake since sunrise, her main concern was Beth's health, but she needed time to think about all that had happened.
"X...Xena." It was a low moan from beside the warrior, who abruptly turned her head to see Beth's eye flutter open.
"Beth!" She whispered.
"Yeah, I think that's me." The young girl smiled, her voice no more than a hoarse whisper.
"How are you feeling?" The warrior asked pressing her palm against Beth's forehead and noting her fever was still high.
"Well actually, I feel like I've just been shot in the back by a couple of arrows." The girl shook her head trying to rid the deep tired, drowning feeling that engulfed her body, her head spun and she felt like she was being roasted in Tartarus.
"You've still got a high fever." Xena admitted.
"I hadn't noticed." Beth smiled.
Xena fed her all she could eat, then made her drink some herbs and dressed her wounds, cringing again at the old scars left obviously by a whipping.
Gabrielle and Leo woke shortly after, Xena began to brush Argo down leaving Leo and Beth to talk privately, Gabrielle approached her.
"What're we going to do?" The bard asked.
"Well, we can't move her, her fever's high, her injuries, though healing, are slightly worse than anticipated." The warrior sighed.
"Well, the king will be tracking us, she needs a healer, proper medicine, we need to get her to Amphipolis Xena, now." Gabrielle emphasised the last few words to the warrior.
"I know you're right Gabrielle, but her condition it's..."
"I can move Xena." Beth interrupted as she struggled to sit up.
"No Beth." Xena shook her head walking towards the girl. "You're not fit to walk." The warrior protested.
"No Xena, my father will find us very soon, and I know you need to see Cyrene." Beth's voice became painful through gritted teeth.
"Hmph." The warrior considered it.
"Xena, she's right, and if we use a raft tied to Argo, she wouldn't have to walk." Gabrielle's persuasion persuaded the warrior.
"Alright, Leo and I will find some branches to make the raft, Gabrielle you stay with Beth, if there's any change, then whistle." Xena explained.
"I don't need...I don't...ahh...ow!" Beth's words were cut short as she tried to reposition herself causing shots of pain to envelope her body.
"Beth?!" Xena skidded beside the girl who's eyes were clamped shut as the pain seized over her body.
"Curse the gods. One of her wounds has started to bleed again." Xena muttered investigating her shoulder wound.
"Quick, we'll make the raft!" Leo screamed scrambling for branches around her.
The incoherent warrior shook her head, she placed her arms under Beth's neck and knees and picked her up.
"There's no time for that, she needs a proper hearler immediately." Xena rushed over to Argo and managed to scramble on, holding a cloth against the bleeding wound. And once again, Gabrielle and Leo mounted Orion, Leo leading, they hurried off into a steady gallop, all in fear of Beth's safety.
It seemed like hours before Amphipolis came into view, the small village seemed just the same, average size, buzzing with activity.
Xena rode in wildly, catching the attention of the whole village.
"I need a healer, quickly!" She cried stopping the horse, sliding her foot over the saddle and jumping off, still holding the now unconscious Beth. A woman stepped forwards. "Xena!" The woman was old, her hair white, her walk crooked.
"Hestigon, please help me, you're the best healer in Amphipolis." The warrior begged.
"I would never say no to you Xena, follow me." The woman hobbled over to her house, the whole crowd watching.
Gabrielle arrived jumping off Orion before the stallion had stopped, after managing to catch her balance she raced over to Xena.
"How is she?" The bard asked looking into those deep blue eyes, now filled with pain and fear.
"I...I don't know, she's..." Suddenly coming back to reality.
"Gabrielle, my mother, find her and bring her to Hestigon's hut, hurry!" Xena quipped. Gabrielle nodded and ran off to the tavern Cyrene owned.
Leo walked beside Xena in confusion, looking down at Beth as the life drained out of her, he took note of Xena's hands, they were covered in Beth's thick crimson blood, he shook his head trying to wake himself from the nightmare, gently he lifted his hands onto Beth's face and wiped away the stray hairs, supporting her head as Xena entered the building. Hestigon stopped and turned to the boy. "I'm sorry lad, you can't enter in here." There was a hint of regret in her voice as she watched Leo's features diminish.
"But I have to be with Beth." He whispered, tears spiking his eyes.
"Please Leo, for Beth's sake." The warrior turned to him and Leo nodded, watching as Xena entered a small hut isolated from the rest and surrounded by trees.
The room was lit by torches and a small window, it was a small space to fit into, there was a bed, a shelf of medicine's, a table and two chairs.
"Lay her down on the bed Xena, tell me what happened." The healer whispered, using her serenity to calm the hysterical warrior down.
"We were running, there were arrows, she jumped infront of Gabrielle, three arrows...three arrows protruded into her back." The warrior gulped back the need to scream as she watched the healer turn Beth onto her back to reveal the three nasty contussion, and again, the whip lashes.
"What are the lashes from?" Hestigon asked as she reached over to the shelf to get a medicine.
"I don't know exactly, her father did them, we were running from her father." Xena explained. "Will she be okay?"
"She's in a pretty bad way, her wound has opened and may become infectious, we have to bandage them and bring her fever down, but I need you to co-operate. What's her name?"
The door behind Xena opened and Gabrielle stepped in looking to Xena for answers, the warrior stared blankly at the limp body of Beth, and then Cyrene appeared, not knowing what the commotion was.
"Xena! Xena what's going on?" Cyrene asked looking to her daughter, stepping infront of her.
"Mother, do you know this girl?" Xena whispered never lifting her gaze off the young girl on the bed, Cyrene turned to the bed, her eyes widdened, her hands covered her heart. "Beth, oh gods, it's Beth." she whispered moving to the side of the bed.
"So she *is* my sister?" Xena asked, not knowing whether to be angry or happy.
Cyrene slowly turned to Xena, ashamed at the truth, she nodded. "Yes Xena, she is, I'm sorry." Cyrene's eyes began to water.
The words dug into Xena like a pick axe, her heart began to pound harder against her ribs, she had known, but it hadn't really sunken in until her own mother told her, she felt Gabrielle's hand take hers, she turned to the bard confused, not afraid to show the tears that formed in her blue orbs, slowly she knelt beside the bed as Cyrene stood up, the tavern owner placed a hand on Xena's shoulder which was covered by the warrior's.
"What has to be done?" Xena asked.
Three hours of hard work and painstaking patience later, Beth's wounds had been tended to, Xena and Hestigon were the only ones present in the room.
"What happens now?" The fatigue warrior asked.
"We wait, it's up to Beth now, her injuries are servere, her fever is high, we just wait, you, get some rest, there is nothing you can do now."
"You make me feel useless." The warrior sighed, realising that she was half covered in her sister's blood, it had finally sunken in, the limp form lying on the bed in front of her was her own flesh and blood, she sighed shaking her head, taking Beth's hand in hers.
"Go Xena, you need to speak to Cyrene." Hestigon suggested, Xena smiled, she was always able to read the warrior's mind. And so slowly, Xena stood up, stretched and left the hut, covering her eyes from the sunlight that pierced them, the three people that waited outside all stood up at Xena's appearance, shocked by the amount of blood covering Xena's arms.
"How is she?" Cyrene asked, her voice trembling.
"No change, her wounds have been cleaned of infection, it's up to her now, all we can do is wait." Xena sighed.
"Wait?!" Leo cried. "I can't wait, I have to see her!" He pushed towards the door, restricted by Xena's strong arms.
"She's resting Leo, there's nothing we can do, you have to understand." Xena explained.
"I don't want to understand." He muttered shaking his head as he fell aginst the wall of the hut and slid down it into a sitting position, his head fell into his hands.
Xena looked up at Gabrielle wondering what to do, Gabrielle signalled for herself to take over and went to sit by the distraught young boy.
Xena looked down at her arms in disgust. "I'm...I'm gonna go wash the blood from my hands." She muttered avoiding eye contact with her mother, Cyrene sighed and followed her daughter.
Xena found a small stream nearby, she dangled her legs into it and began to wash her arms.
"Xena, we need to talk." Cyrene whispered from behind her, Xena had known she was there.
"Fine. Talk, tell me why you never told me I had a sister." Xena muttered in Cyrene's hearing range, her mother sat beside her next to the stream.
"Let me start from the beginning." Cyrene sighed. "Beth's father, when I met him, seemed like a good man, now I don't want this to sound selfish, but with you gone, I was loeely, he offered me companionship, it was as the beginning of your...rampage, he stayed for about a year, I bore his child, I thought we were in love." Cyrene stopped to think for a while.
"What happened?" Xena asked.
"When he found out it was a girl he walked out on me, he wanted a boy who could take his rein, a king, not a queen, I was left with Beth. He returned about two years later demanding Beth or else he'd sack the village, I refused to give her to him, he had turned evil, not the man I knew, sick. His guards managed to get Beth from me, and I never saw her, I heard that the king had had a son, Menthese and was living in Britannia, raising Beth as a warrior, I hated him, I wanted to go and find him and get Beth back, but I couldn't leave the tavern in case you returned. About two and a half years ago Beth turned up at the tavern, I knew who she was instantly, she told me she had run from her father and wanted to live with me, of course I agreed, I could tell Beth had been mistreated, she was in mourning of her brother Menthese, whom her father had killed after beating him to death, when Beth came in, she was covered in black smoke, she was dirty and extremely bruised." Cyrene shook her head.
"What had she done?" Xena asked curiously.
"She had cut down some trees in a forest in the shape of a circle and burnt them then buried her brother there, she was weak, there was hardly any of her left, she stayed for about six months, but her father came for her, she was his only descendant and would take the throne if her father died, so again, he took her from me, she tried to resist, but, although she fought well, it was almost one against an army, they pinned her down and dragged her away kicking and screaming, back to Britannia, a few years later, you appeared, I didn't know whether to tell you in case your warlord days weren't over and you decided to use Beth for something, I dunno and I thought that if people found out, they would use her as a weapon against you, I couldn't bring myself to tell you, I wanted to, believe me I wanted to, but I was ashamed of what you would think of me. And so I didn't. I had no idea he was here, I thought he was still in Britannia, I hope you can forgive me Xena." Cyrene turned to her daughter.
"Well, it's not everyday you find out you have a sister, but mother, there's nothing to forgive you for, it's no fault to have a daughter, if I hadn't become the warlord I was, maybe I could have paid more attention to you." Xena explained placing an arm around her mother.
"Did she know who I was when she came back five years ago?"
"Yes she did, her father had told her, she told me that one day she would find you when the warlord period had diminished, and that you would help bring her father to justice." Cyrene explained.
"She's a tough child, she's been through alot, and now I'll do anything to help her, what are families for." The warrior smiled, she stood up after washing away the present blood.
"I'm going to go check on her." Xena whispered.
"I'll be along soon." Cyrene replied looking down into the depths of the water.
Leo had calmed down when Xena returned, Gabrielle anxiously approached her with a 'what's happened?' look on her face.
"It's alright Gabrielle, everything's been sorted out."
"Except the fact that you have a sister Xena." The bard raised her eyebrow.
"I can only deal with that when Beth wakes up." The warrior sighed. "Any news?"
"She's still...sleeping." The bard rephrased her words, Xena nodded then looked down to Leo. "How is he?"
"He's upset." The bard bluntly stated.
"That's understandable, they've known each other for a long time, if he loses her...if I lose her..."
"That's not going to happen." Gabrielle butt in.
"I hope not, not just for mine and Leo's sake, but for mother's aswell."
Nightfall swept through Amphipolis, Cyrene was forced to return to her tavern and answer all the villagers question about the girl they knew as her second daughter.
Leo had fallen asleep outside the healer's hut while Gabrielle and Xena sat by Beth's side waiting for the least change, Hestigon was restacking her shelves barely hearable to the warrior and bard.
"Mm." Beth stirred and the warrior instantly looked up into the young face.
"Hestigon, she's stirring." Xena's voice was low and untoned, the healer was quickly opposite Xena.
"Well, her fever's shot down, she should wake soon if the medicine has worked."
"Xena, what will you say when she does?" Gabrielle asked.
"I'm not going to talk about that yet, just concentrate on getting her better, if..." The warrior's words were almost silent and faded out as she closed her sentence, she could feel Gabrielle's hand squeeze her arm.
"She'll be fine."
"Xena?" The voice was a soft whispered, Beth's.
"Beth?" Xena leant forwards and pushed the stray hair's from the girls face.
"Oh Xena thank the gods you're okay." Mumbled the girl, Xena looked to Gabrielle puzzled, Hestigon mouthed to her that she must have dreamt about something to do with the warrior, Xena nodded.
"Beth, can you hear me?" The warrior whispered.
"Loud and clear." Though Beth still hadn't opened her eyes. "Where are we?" She asked.
"We're in Amphipolis."
"Amphipolis?! Mother, is she...?"
"She's sleeping." Gabrielle whispered.
"Xena, I have to go, back to my father." Beth mummured.
"What?! Why?!" It always came down to her father.
"Why does it always have to come down to your father."
"He knows I'll...come this way...he'll sack the village." The girl opened her eyes and looked at Xena. "I have to go or else he'll kill us all." She explained.
"You're in no fit condition to move, if..."
"None of us will be if I stay here." There was an argumentative tone in Beth's voice, but it was a struggle to speak and her voice became low.
"No Beth, if he comes, I'll fight him."
"And I'll kill him." Beth finished.
"Beth, you're still sic..." Gabrielle explained.
"If I don't do it now, he'll go and I won't find him again, and then I'll have let Menthese down, I'll have let my brother down."
"No Beth." Hestogen added. "You're not fit."
"See Beth, you have to stay put for a few days." Xena explained.
"I can't, not here." Beth muttered through clenched teeth as a shot of pain ran through her body.
"Beth, you're hurt, seriously, we don't know how much damage those arrows did, that's why you have to rest." Gabrielle whispered.
"No!" Beth cried. "I won't lie here while my father goes on killing, if his death is at my expense then that's fine by me." Beth turned away angrily with tears spiking her eyes, Xena's anger built up inside, she reached out to Beth's arm and gently yanked her, Beth turned to Xena.
"Not with me it's not." Xena whispered sitting next to Beth. Beth sighed.
Hestegon looked down at Gabrielle who returned the look, and in unity they both made excuses to be somewhere else.
After they had left Xena turned back to Beth, with a serious look on her face.
Beth sighed. "You're not gonna lecture me, are you?"
"About what? The fact that you nearly died saving my best friend's life, that you wanna get outta here when you're not fit to, or the fact that you never told me who you *really* were?" Xena smiled down at Beth.
"So you spoke to mum?"
"Yeah, she told me everything, I just can't understand why you didn't tell me when we first met." Xena whispered.
"You mean in the dungeon when I was trying to get you out, oh yeah I can imagine that." Beth tried to laugh but the pain restricted her.
"Take it easy." Xena warned as she pushed Beth gently back into the bed.
"Xena, please, you have to get me out, I have to go find my father before he finds me." Beth begged.
"Beth, you're in no fit condition..."
"Please." She begged.
"I can't Beth, I've just found you." Xena whispered gently brushing the palm of her hand softly down the girl's cheek.
"I'm sorry." The warrior whispered.
Gabrielle sneeked in while Xena went to get some food for the young girl, she sat on the chari beside Beth's bed.
"Y'know I never got a chance to thank you for saving my life - again." She whispered, the girl cleared her throat trying to speak but clearly unable to at that moment. "Don't try to speak, you need to rest." As Gabrielle looked down at the girl's face she could see parts of her best friend there and smiled.
"What?" It was a barely hearable crackle from the girl's mouth.
"Nothing, it's just, you remind me so much of Xena, you fight like her, you act like her, you're even as stubborn as her!" She laughed, Beth smiled slightly, trying to figure out whether that had been a comment or an insult.
Xena returned with some food for them all.
Nightfall had quickly enveloped the sunlight, Cyrene had been to visit her child, Xena had witnessed the emotional reunion restraining herself from joining in.
But now everyone slept, Xena lay on the floor next to Beth, Cyrene had returned to the tavern where she provided Gabrielle and Leo food and rest.
The sun rose in a fervent golden glow above the hills on the horizon, Xena woke as the light punched through the window onto her, she quickly sat up and looked over to the Beth, the girl was sleeping peacefully, thank the gods.
Gabrielle entered almost bursting through the door.
"Xena, we've spotted an army heading towards Amphipolis from the South." She whispered trying not to disturb Beth, Beth remained awake but with her eyes closed, knwoing what was going on, knowing what she was going to do.
"The king's." Xena whispered, her thoughts returned to when she hadn't let any army touch Amphipolis, and now one came this way and she panicked, she had lost her army long ago, could she make the townspeople fight again?
"The townspeople, they don't know why the army's headed this way, but they've prepared barricades and are ready to fight."
"Good Gabrielle, but why didn't you wake me earlier?" The warrior asked almost angrily.
"Oh come on, you looked so...peaceful." The bard smiled.
Gabrielle had been correct, the villagers were ready for war, how could this be happening again? How could Xena be scared of an army attacking Amphipolis like Cortese?
Beth opened her eyes, the pain of her injuries flooded through her body but managing to ignore them was one of her great abilities, she slowly sat up looking down at the white bandages that crossed her golden brown stomach and shoulders, she cringed slightly as she pushed her legs over the side of the bed and reached for her blood stained leather-clad. Slowly, she got dressed, ready for battle.
"Xena, talk to the people, they're scared." Gabrielle whispered.
"I can't Gabrielle, not again, they don't want me to lead them into a battle, not after what happened last time, and I don't think I can again." The warrior sighed as the villagers ran around collecting weapons, pots and pans, everything.
Cyrene tapped Xena on the shoulder.
"Xena, we're all ready." She whispered.
"Okay mother, I'll see if I can talk to the king before anything happens." Xena explained, Cyrene nodded, the warrior quickly disappeared into the courtyard amongst all the busy villagers and over to the barricades made up of tree stalks and rocks piled suprisingly high, she carefully clambered over them much to the suprise of the villagers.
Beth was fully armed, her sword hung from her side sheathed in it's scabbard, her dagger tucked into her belt, her cape floating in the cool breeze, she was ready for anything.
Her exit from the healing hut had gone unnoticed by the busy villagers and she had painfully clambered over the barricades and was now stood behind a tree waiting for her father's arrival, she could see Xena waiting for him and could hear the rumble of horse hooves approach.
The king had Xena in his sight, did she think she could talk him out of burning down this worthless village? Hm.
He slowed his horse a few paces away from her, feeling the eyes that dug into him from the other side of the barricades watching to see what would happen.
"Xena, get out of my way, do you really think you can stop my whole army?" The king laughed as he brought his horse to a complete halt just outside the village in front of everyone.
"I'll give it a go." The warrior purred drawing her sword.
"I admire your courage Xena, trying to protect someone in the village huh? Won't work, I'll find Beth, take her away, show her how to be a queen, be a ruler like me." The king bellowed.
"You're nothing but an evil tyrant." Xena snarled.
"Your words don't hurt me Xena." He smiled then turned to his 2nd leiutenant. "Kill her, make sure she dies." He ordered with a smile, the mercenary jumped off her horse and drew his horse.
"Ah ah ah." Beth stepped forwards. "Those aren't the rules father." She shook her head.
"Beth, what in Hades are you doing?! You're not well." Xena shouted.
"Beth, how good of you to join us." The king smiled.
"Beth get back inside." Xena ordered.
"No Xena, this is my mess, I'm gonna clean it up." Beth snarled looking to her father. "You go inside Xena, this is between me and my father."
"Beth, you don't know what you're doing." Xena warned.
"Go Xena." Beth shouted looking straight into her father's eyes trying not to stumble or pronounce her injuries.
"It's okay Beth, I know you're hurt, you don't have to hide it from me." Her father sneered at her feeble form.
"Beth, don't do this, you're not well." Xena pleaded.
"Go inside Xena, this is between_me_and_my_father." Beth muttered emphasizing the last few words.
"Do as your sister says Xena, me and Beth have a score to settle." The king laughed.
"I'm not leaving Beth out here with scum like you." Xnea snarled.
"So be it." The king smiled jumping from his horse and drawing his sword, Beth drew hers and they circled each other with a death glare.
"First blood drawn." The king began. "You win you can kill me. I win, you join me, travel with me." He explained.
"Fine." Beth agreed, the villagers all watched from the barricades at the commotion, Cyrene being held back by Gabrielle, both in turmoil.
"But if I win your army leave here." Beth added.
"Agreed, y'hear that Marcos." Shouted the king. "If I lose you retreat." The king laughed at the thought of himself losing to a wounded child.
"Let's see how well you taught me." Beth smiled as she swung her sword towards her father, he had trouble blocking it but managed. "Obviously quite well." The king replied.
Xena watched with growing concern at the weakening child as blows and parries continued between the father and daughter.
Beth could feel her injuries a hundred times more painful than they were when they occured, she was lucky they weren't on her right side which would make fighting impossible, her movement was restricted not wanting to reopen the delicate wounds but knowing if she didn't give her best then her father would surely win, so, like she had done many times before, she tried to ignore the pain and concentrated on the fight, which wasn't going to be easy seeing as every jerked movement caused a shudder of pain.
Xena drew her sword and stood ready to use it, she wasn't going to let the king take away her sister.
The king lifted his sword over his head and swung it down quickly into Beth, she managed to parry it but not without her whole body seizing in pain, she cried out as she was forced to one knee.
"Beth!" Xena cried stepping forwards, the king swung his sword around to beneath Xena's chin.
"This is Beth's fight." He smiled.
Xena reluctantly stepped away.
Beth took the opening as an advantage and rammed her fist into the king's groin, the king dropped his sword and clutched his manhood tightly slightly bent over watching as Beth slowly fell to the floor in an attempt to overcome the pain her body was enduring.
The king managed to pick his sword up and look at his daughter shaking the dizziness from her vision.
"Ha ha, looks like I've won." He smiled bringing the sword down on Beth, the small warrior quickly rolled and heard the metal weapon clunk into the ground beside her followed by a grunt of annoyance from her father.
Beth quickly jumped to her feet, sword in hand ready.
Her father struck a blow easily parried, another to her side, she managed to connect her heel to his face but not without falling onto her back and, as her wounded body slumped against the floor she tried desperately not to let the blackness consume her. She could hear her father laughing above her and looked up at the sword coming down on her, if she didn't make a move soon, she knew she wouldn't make one at all - 'act don't react' her mother had once said.
Beth caught the sword between both palms of her hands, and yanked herself up glaring at her father as they once again circled each other.
"So Beth, how have you been without dear Menthese." The king's words, Beth knew, were meant as a provocation so would be blind with rage and slip up, and it was working, Beth tried to contain her anger, remain impassive.
"It's a pity he had to go out that way huh? Still, I'm glad you made the right choice and din't die like him, like a coward." The king wore a tight sneer as the words slipped out.
Beth could contain the animal in her no longer, she threw down her sword and pulled the dagger from her side - much to the king's suprise, in a panic he backhanded his sword at her, she managed to duck, charge at him and before he knew the dagger was penetrating his abdomen.
"You're the only one that's going to die like a coward." She grunted sticking the knife further into her father, he looked up at her in more shock than pain.
"Beth." He chocked.
"I'll see you in Tartarus you miserable son of a bitch." She whispered as she twisted the dagger then pulled it from her father's stomach, he fell to the floor, dead.
Marcos immediately fled with the army.
Beth stared down at her hands covered in her own father's blood, she felt a hand on her shoulder and then let the darkness consume her.
"Beth? Beth?" It was a familiar voice, Xena's, she didn't know whether she was dreaming, dead or waking up but as she opened her eyes she realised she was back in the healer's hut, looking up she saw four faces looking down at her, her mother's, Xena's, Gabrielle's and Leo's, the healer appeared.
"She must rest."
"How are you feeling?" The warrior asked Beth smiled weakly in response.
"Beth what in Hades were you doing fighting your father?" Xena whispered trying to be angry.
"Had to." Was all the girl could manage.
"Oh Beth you had us all worried." Cyrene sighed sitting next to the child.
"Always." She smiled then turned to the bard. "Seeing...seeing as I'm gonna be in here for a while could I read some of your scrolls? Please. Just until you leave." The girl looked up at the bard who appeared to be smiling, she nodded.
"Sure, I'll just get them." She ducked out of the room content with the fact that another person wanted to read her scrolls.
"What happens now?" Beth asked.
"Your mother and I discussed you and we think it would be better if you stayed here for now just while you get better, now that your father's d...gone you'll be safe."
"For now, does that mean I get to travel with you and the bard for a while when I'm better? Please."
"When you're better." The warrior smiled.
"Leo can stay in my tavern with us if you like." Cyrene added.
Beth looked to the young boy who had a smile spread wide across his face, they intwined fingers. "That'd be great." She whispered.
It took a further seven days for Beth to be let out of bed, with her muscles stiff all she could do was sit down, bored.
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