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GENERAL COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: Xena, Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Ares, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction.
Any other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author (meaning Kharis belongs to me). This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
LOVE DISCLAIMER: This story depicts a loving relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.
If you can't stand the idea that two women can have a loving relationship then please keep your closed mind where it belongs and don't bother reading this story. 'Nuff said
Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4
The Fates' Irony
"Do you think they'll find her in time?" Eponin asked Gabrielle as the two woman walked away from the mess hall. Morning drills had already started with the younger girls as Apollo drove the sun higher into a cloudless sky.
"I do," the bard replied confidently.
"How can you be so certain? If that girl is as good as you say she is then even Xena might be too late."
"Why do you care, Pony?" Gabrielle was puzzled at the sudden shift in Eponin's opinion of Kharis. All morning the weapon's master had been listening to the bard babble on about the child when she suddenly started to field questions concerning the girl's welfare and training within the village. Questions that held a trace of grudging acceptance.
Eponin shrugged as they continued to walk across the compound, "I don't personally, but you do. I'm just worried about you. If something bad was to happen to her..."
"Nothing bad is going to happen to her. Xena found her and she is safe," Gabrielle smiled lightly at Eponin as they stepped up onto the porch of the Queen's hut.
"You can't be certain though," Eponin was starting to get really worried. Her Queen's faith in Xena was admirable but the warrior princess was only human and even warrior princesses can screw up eventually.
"Actually, I can when they're both sitting in the hut right now," Gabrielle beamed as she walked through the door and embraced Kharis. Dismay clearly registered on Eponin's face as she found Ephiny, Solari, and Xena all sitting at the Queen's table as if they had just finished a nice morning chat.
"How did you get in here unnoticed?" Pony blurted at the trio.
"We walked in," Xena drawled as she stood and clasped the weapons master's forearm. "Nice to see that security is up to standards."
"Xena, be nice," Gabrielle warned as she hugged both Solari and Ephiny in turn. A raised eyebrow followed the bard until the warrior finally received a hug.
"Aren't I always?" the warrior whispered in Gabrielle's ear.
"No. But that's why I love you," the bard whispered back before breaking the hug. Turning to the group the bard caught Kharis' eye and winked a bit, reading the look of apprehension on the girl's face. "So, what have you guys been up to?"
Ephiny laughed, "Oh this and that. Finding a young runaway, staying out of reach of Caesar's troops, discovering that your partner here is one Hades of a teacher. You know, same old."
"Teacher huh?" a mischievous glint appeared in mist green eyes.
Xena smirked as she sat down on the Queen's bed cross-legged, "Sol and Eph were given a command performance of Khar's little disappearing trick."
"Oh really? So you two know how I felt when I saw that the first time. Scary huh?"
Solari shook her head, "Scary doesn't begin to explain it. Pony, you wouldn't believe it even if you saw it yourself."
"That so," Pony replied eyeing the young girl standing in the shadows of the room. Kharis had slipped back out of the way hoping that everyone would just forget about her. Her shame at being found was still burning deeply but the remorse at what she had done was greater.
Feeling Eponin's eyes on her, Kharis met the gaze, uncertain what type of reception she was getting. The girl knew that if she had to live in the village she was going to have to get along with everyone, including this woman. Realising that Eponin was sceptical about her, Kharis did the only thing she could. She disappeared.
"Sweet Artemis! Where did she go?" Pony exclaimed as she saw the girl vanish into thin air right before her eyes.
Loud laughter filled the small room as Eponin gaped from one person to the other trying to see what was so funny when the girl had obviously run again.
"Pony," Ephiny gasped as she tried to control the hiccups in her chest. "She's still there."
"No she isn't, she's..." Pony turned to point in the direction of the missing girl instead pointing at the child in question. "How did you...how the..."
Kharis shrugged as she approached the stunned woman, "It's one of my many talents I guess. I'm sorry if I startled you but Solari sort of implied that you wouldn't believe it unless you saw it so..."
"Well, I don't believe it but I saw it," Pony said as a small smile slowly grew. "So that's how you did it. After the reprimand I gave the royal guards I think I was a bit harsh."
"No, they deserved it," Xena said forcibly. "They are supposed to be the best of the best. That only works on the unfocussed mind and they should not have been tricked so easily. Especially when they should have been on alert."
Ephiny nodded, "True. But we're going to have to lay some ground rules involving Kharis now. We can't have you disappearing at will, Khar."
"I know," the girl said as she bowed her head.
"That would be a very useful skill for the Amazons to have," Pony said as she looked over at Xena. "Think you can teach some of our warriors that?"
Raven hair swayed from side to side as Xena rejected the invitation, "It takes a certain mindset to be able to master it. None of your Amazons have that."
Pony snorted and was about to contradict the arrogant warrior when Ephiny laid a hand on her arm, "Pony, she's right. She explained to Sol and I how it's done and we wouldn't be able to do that if our lives depended on it. Let's just keep this to ourselves, ok? As long as Kharis promises to never do it while here in the village, then we won't have to worry about any of the Amazons wanting to learn it."
"I can't promise that," Kharis replied quickly. "If something was to happen that it could save my life, then I won't promise."
"She's right you know?" Gabrielle spoke up before Xena could jump into the discussion. "It's meant to help you escape if the situation demands it. I wouldn't expect her to promise that. Though I trust Kharis. She'll do everything in her power not to cause problems and that should be good enough for all of us."
A shy smile beamed in the bard's direction as golden eyes said thank you. Gabrielle smiled back as she continued on, "Besides, I think we should be more worried about a certain warrior who does that same trick."
A low snort issued from the bed as Xena quirked an eyebrow at her soulmate, "And what's that supposed to mean?"
"You know what I mean," the bard retorted. "I don't want any Amazons dropping dead from shock because of the intimidating warrior princess suddenly appearing before their eyes in menacing glory."
"Menacing glory?" Solari sniggered
Gabrielle raised her arms as she shrugged, "I'm a bard. What do you expect?"
Xena laughed as she uncurled her long legs and swung them down to the floor, "Ok. I won't go around scaring any of your fragile Amazons. At least not that way."
"And what's that supposed to mean?" Gabrielle said as she swung around facing the warrior with hands on hips. An upward jerk of one toned shoulder was the only answer the bard would get.
Clearing her throat, a smiling Ephiny laid her hands on the table, "Ok. Let's get down to business. We've got to incorporate Kharis into the village's life style and training schedule without too much disturbance. How are we going to go about this?"
"When it comes to conditioning and sword training, I will handle that," Xena said seriously. "The rest of her training can be done by the Amazons."
"Will she be able to handle a sword?" Eponin asked as she scrutinised the girl's small frame before her.
"Yes," the warrior said as she stood up and walked towards Kharis, placing an arm around the girl's shoulders. "She's stronger then she looks, Pony. Make no mistake about that."
"I'll believe it when I see it," Pony answered non-committally.
"Like you always do, hey Pony?" Solari smiled at her friend's cynical attitude. Out of all the Amazons Pony was the most down to earth, disbelieving what was told her unless she could see it with her own eyes. It was one of her attributes that the Amazons respected the most about her.
"Ok," Gabrielle said trying to stay on topic. "So if that's settled, now we have to figure out where she's going to stay and initiation into the tribe."
"I thought I was going to stay here with you guys?" Kharis asked.
"You can't, Khar," Ephiny spoke up. "If you want to be one of us you are going to have to adjust living with us. And that means staying in one of the huts with the rest of the girls."
The girl groaned at that thought but held any comments that sprang to mind.
"It'll give you a chance to make friends," Solari offered, hoping that would entice the girl to the idea.
"Who says I wanted to make friends?" Kharis countered.
"Is she always this obstinate?" Solari asked her Queen.
"Oh yes, just like her sister," Gabrielle said as her brows knit in thought, ignoring the dark glowering look from Xena
"What are you plotting?" Ephiny asked the bard as an idea clearly registered on the Queen's face.
"Nothing really, just thinking. The small room at the back of the hut...is it still liveable?"
"Yesss," Ephiny replied slowly, trying to determine what the bard was leading to.
"What was it used for besides storage?"
"It used to be the quarters for the Queen's personal servant."
"Perfect!" Gabrielle beamed. "Since I don't have my own personal servant then Kharis will have to do."
"Have to do?" the girl in question asked menacingly, uncertain why she should have to be a servant to anyone.
"If you are my personal servant then you can stay in that room essentially staying here with Xena and me. That will solve the living arrangement problem."
"It's a good idea, Gabrielle. It'll keep her close enough to allow us to train her without disturbing the Amazons yet still keep her part of the community," Xena said as she felt small shoulders under her arm relax a bit. 'Plus, it'll let me keep a closer eye on her, just in case' the warrior thought bleakly. Despite the promises that the girl had made, Xena knew that it would take a lot of patience from the girl to live in the village peacefully. Pateince that the warrior would have to help provide at times.
"Good, then that's settled," Ephiny smiled as her belly started to grumble. "I don't know about you guys but I'm famished. How about we get some grub and meet back here in about an hour to decide on the rest?"
"I could go for something to eat," the bard said as she rubbed her belly.
"You just ate!" Pont exclaimed in mild amusement, shaking her head at the bard's ferocious appetite.
"Gabrielle's always hungry," drawled Xena as she started to lead her sister towards the door. "We'll see you guys in a bit. Kharis and I have to do some things first."
"And where do you think you two are going?" a slightly miffed bard asked at her soulmate.
"Warrior things," the warrior shrugged apologetically. "Don't worry Gabrielle, you'll have me to yourself very soon."
"I'd better!" Gabrielle warned as she sprung forward to wrap her partner in a fierce hug. "Just be careful, ok?"
Xena smiled as she returned the hug and lightly kissed honey-coloured hair, "Aren't I always?"
"No, but at least I know you'll be safe with Kharis around," the bard winked at the girl in question as a low chuckle from the warrior reverberated through Gabrielle's body. Breaking the embrace, Gabrielle smiled as the warrior and girl walked out of the hut. Turning to face three pairs of amused eyes, the Amazon Queen snorted. "What are you guys looking at? Haven't you seen two people hug before?"
Solari held up her hands in defence, "Don't get upset with us my Queen. We just think it's cute how she's totally different when around you."
"Cute?" Gabrielle giggled as she thought what Xena's face would look like if she had just heard what Solari had said. "I didn't think 'cute' and 'Xena' were even compatible words."
"Well she's certainly different when she's around you, I must say that," Pony grudgingly said.
"Coming from you Pony, that's almost an insult," Ephiny grinned as the three Amazons started to make their way out of the hut. "She hears that and we'll have the silent, scowling warrior princess back in no time."
"Not if I could help it," Gabrielle said as she left the hut alongside her three friends. The four woman laughed as they made their way to the mess hut.
Kharis silently followed Xena through the village, ignoring the curious looks that were thrown in her direction. Unlike her old village, the Amazon village was a bustle of continual activity. Women and girls either walked here or there to their various tasks, practised in training drills, tended to their gardens and homes, or stood around talking about the week's events. The din from all of the activity alone was deafening to the girl's sensitive ears. Trotting up to the her sister's side, golden eyes focussed on a break on the trees that Xena was leading them to.
"So where are we going?" the girl asked curiously.
"To place I know of that we can talk in peace," the warrior said coolly as they were approached by one of Artemis' priestesses. Slipping on the icy, stoic mask was second nature to Xena as she fixed ice blue eyes on the woman who was trying to intercept her. 'Gods, now what?'
"A moment of your time Xena," Elysse said as she blocked the warrior from advancing towards the forest's break.
"What do you want Ely?" Xena asked slightly perturbed at being stopped.
"It's about the Summer Solstice Festival."
"What about it?"
Elysse swallowed before speaking up, "You realise that this celebration is significant for more then one reason, right?"
Blue eyes bore into the woman, "Yes, I know. You're point is?"
"Well, I'm certain that nothing will go wrong but..." the priestess glanced down at an inquisitive Kharis wondering if the girl should be hearing this. Lowering her voice Elysse continued, "Are you sure you want to accept punishment for your crimes to the Nation?"
"Yes," the low voice rumbled as the warrior crossed her arms defiantly. "If I don't then there is no way that I can vouch for Kharis at her initiation. It has to be done. Does Gabrielle know?" Xena held her breath, hoping that her friend hadn't been told yet.
"No," the woman shook her head slowly. "She just spoke to me about the girl during the morning meal so I haven't had a chance."
"Good," Xena exhaled as a small glimmer of warmth crept into her eyes. "Please don't say a word to her. I'll tell her when the time is right."
"As you wish," Elysse said as she bowed before moving off towards the temple.
Xena frowned as she strode forward without a word to Kharis. 'Gabrielle won't stand it but I have to for Kharis. How am I going to make her see that?' Stepping onto the small hunting path, Xena followed the meandering trail deep in her thoughts as the girl jogged closely behind her. As the only living kin to the girl it was her duty to attest to Kharis' legitimacy of inclusion into the Nation. Even though the warrior was respected within the Nation, on an official level she was still reviled as a war criminal. Only through trial, and possible acquittal, would Xena's name be cleared for her to speak on the girl's behalf.
Passing two sentry posts, Xena and Kharis continued on unchecked until the path forked. Taking the left path Xena walked on as the path sloped downward, gradually growing steeper and steeper as the murmur of a nearby stream grew louder and louder. Coming out of the woods onto a sunlit glade Xena scanned the area with her senses, finally relaxing when she knew that her and Kharis were truly alone.
Ebony hair, plastered to a delicate forehead, was absently brushed away as Kharis eyed the cool water, wondering if she would be allowed to take a quick swim and relieve the heat emanating from her body. A glint of blue caught her eye as Xena smiled down at the girl.
"Want to go for a swim?"
Relief flooded across Kharis' face, "Gods, yes!" Stripping the sweaty tunic and leggings off, Kharis walked into the chilly water with just her undershirt, revelling in its soothing embrace. Sinking further down the girl swam away from the bank as she watched her sister stand by the stream's edge.
"Aren't you coming in?"
"No, I'm fine. You just looked like you could use it," Xena smiled as she watched the girl effortlessly swim against the slow current. "When you're done I have some dried fruit, cheese, and bread we can eat while we talk."
Dipping under the water, Kharis swam upstream a ways before breaking the surface. Flipping over on her back, she drifted down the stream while staring up at the small pockets of clouds that floated overhead. After repeating the process a few times, she felt fully refreshed and swam to the bank. Lifting herself out of the water, Kharis strolled towards her discarded clothes. Shedding the dripping undershirt the girl donned just the green tunic and headed to where her sister was basking in the sun.
"Feel better?" Xena asked as she stretched long legs out in front of her while she leaned back on her elbows.
"Much, thanks," Kharis said as she flopped down onto the soft grass and began to dig into the food laid out before her. "So you wanted to talk."
"Yeah. We have to set some ground rules that I didn't want the Amazons involved in."
"Like what? I thought Ephiny handed down the law already?" the girl laughed as she popped some dried apple in her mouth.
"Those are the Amazon rules and you will have to follow them if you want to be an Amazon."
"I never said I wanted to be an Amazon you know. I only agreed because Gabrielle and you thought it was right."
Xena frowned slightly, "Then why did you if you were so set against it?"
"I'm not against it so much, I just don't think it's the right course of action," Kharis shrugged.
Golden eyes flicked to meet Xena's, "The prophecy."
Instinct overtook the warrior as she leaped to her feet and unsheathed her sword, pointing it down at the girl's neck, "Ares be damned, if you don't explain yourself you won't live to see the prophecy fulfilled."
Kharis smiled sweetly as she looked at the steel tip before looking up further into the warrior's eyes, "Xena, I'm not the child you all assume I am. I know who I am and why I was born. I've known inside for a long time. It was only after that night, when father visited, that I finally understood what I had hidden from myself all along."
"Go on," Xena growled as she allowed the wolf to come out and play.
"Don't tell me that you never suspected you were destined to be something great?"
"What I once was was not something great," the warrior shamefully stated.
"I'm not talking about your past, I'm talking about now. You will be so much more then what you are now and so much more then what you ever dreamed you could be. Your destiny still lies ahead, just waiting for you to grab it and bend it to your will."
A harsh laugh emitted from Xena's lips, "You really are Ares' daughter. You sound so much like him right now." Paranoia was starting to push the edge of the warrior's control as she sunk deeper and deeper into its embrace.
"What do you want me to do? Reject that which is inside of me? You don't. I have to follow my own path, dear sister, but you don't seem to have any trust in me that I can do it."
"And why should I?" Xena spat. "You're only here to become something that should never be. Something that will destroy me."
Kharis sighed as she shook her head sadly, "You don't understand. I'm not here to destroy you. I'm only here for one reason - to help you."
A feral smile leapt to the warrior's face as she still kept her sword's point on the calm girl in front of her, "Help me? That's a laugh. If it wasn't for me you would be dead, still hanging on that cross. How can you help me?"
"No, I would have survived. I'm sure father would have saved me or arranged for me to be saved by someone other then you. Xena, I'm here to do exactly what you fear yet don't understand. I'm here to become the One and allow you to become the Light."
"You are crazy like him," Xena jeered as she circled behind Kharis and laid the sword against the side of the girl's neck. "I should have trusted my instincts better when I first found you."
"Xena, trust your instincts now. Do you honestly think that I would hurt you in any way?"
"You've already tried to kill me twice now. What's one more time between sisters?"
"I was disorientated and in pain. You couldn't have expected me not to react after seeing your face for the first time. Especially after what I had gone through from your supposed hands. Be fair here Xena. No, you have to listen to your heart and stop thinking with your head for a change. Now answer me - do you think I will ever hurt you in any way from now on?"
Stepping back from the girl Xena shook her head slightly as light and dark fought for control. 'What's happening to me? What is she doing to me?' Unable to control herself Xena pressed her blade harder against the girl's neck, ready to behead her if she moved one inch.
"You're afraid," Kharis said indifferently. "You know what the answer is and that scares you."
"You are gravely mistaken," Xena snarled.
"Am I?" Kharis said as she suddenly fell sideways away from the blade and rolled out of the warrior's sudden thrust of her sword. Surprising Xena with her quickness, Kharis hopped up and stood standing before the warrior, eyes challenging the woman to take her life while facing her.
"You have the chance to end it all here, right now. If you truly believe that I will obliterate you then strike me down. But if you don't, then there is no going back. You're going to have to trust me because you will never have another chance."
Rage filled the warrior as she raised her sword to decapitate the girl in front of her. It was the right thing to do, not just for Xena's sake. If Kharis was dead then the rest of the world would be safe from what the girl could become. Crying her battle cry, Xena sliced downward viciously towards the exposed and unprotected neck, only to stop a hair's breath away from making contact. Honey coloured eyes questioned the sudden halt as Xena dropped the sword on the ground and stood staring at it.
'She's right' Xena thought bitterly through the anger as she felt deeply within the girl's soul. 'She will never hurt me, despite what she will become' Ashamed of what she almost did, Xena turned her back to Kharis and walked to the opposite end of the glade. Minutes passed when two small arms suddenly grasped Xena around her waist from behind and held her close.
"Thank you," Kharis whispered as she embraced Xena.
Silent, Xena could only stare straight ahead into the trees, uncertain to speak least she slip deeper into darkness. Minutes passed as the soothing warmth from Kharis' small body slowly worked a magic of its own on the tense body of the warrior. The girl never let go as Xena was slowly able to regain tight control of her emotions once more.
"Why did you thank me?" the woman asked softly as she felt Kharis let go and could freely turn to face the girl.
"Because you proved to me that no matter how strong a hold the darkness within us might have, we can still overcome it. I meant what I said back there. There is no going back now. But now I know we will beat this. I wasn't so sure before."
Xena shook her head is amazement, "You have had us all fooled, you know that? All this time you've been playing us along, letting us think that you are what you appear to be. You're not a child."
"It's the only way I can survive. I'm not as big or as strong as most people are by the time they're my age so I have to use what I have. If that means acting and speaking like a child then so be it. And after what happened with the cross and...I knew I had to grow up fast so..." Kharis shrugged.
Xena allowed a small smile and quickly hugged Kharis before being lead back to their small resting spot. Picking up her sword and sheathing it on her back Xena sombered a bit as Kharis and her sat down cross-legged. It was the time for truth.
"So how did you know about the prophecy?"
Golden orbs softened as Kharis remembered the first time she had heard the prophecy; "I was very young. I had gone with my mother and brother to Pydmon for their Spring Festival. It's one of the largest in Thessaly. We were going to sell some of Mama's beadwork. She was very talented and made beautiful necklaces and bracelets. Mattheus was supposed to show me around the fair while Mama sold her wares. We got separated in the thick crowds and I was so scared. I wandered around until the crowd thinned finding myself on the edge of the grounds. I knew that Mattheus would find me if I stayed where I was so I went and sat by an old tree for him to come and get me."
"It was starting to get dark and Mattheus still hadn't found me when three old ladies suddenly came out of the woods and walked towards me. I wasn't frightened of them, even though I should have been. They had dark shawls on that hid their bodies and most of their faces but I could see their eyes. It was their eyes that made me trust them. One of them bent down and touched me lightly on the head and all of a sudden I felt sleepy. I never heard them speak to me directly but I sort of knew they were questioning me and I was answering back, yet I never moved my mouth."
Kharis shuddered as the memories flooded back in crystal clarity, "I was feeling so sleepy that I lay down and the last thing I remembered before I fell asleep was one of the ladies telling me the prophecy. She said that I would forget it until the time would come for me to remember and that I should never speak it out loud until I was reunited with my father. I thought that was strange, since my father was dead, but before I could ask them about that I was asleep and they had disappeared. Mattheus eventually found me still soundly asleep by the tree with a dark shawl around me. I couldn't remember how I got it or who gave it to me so we left it there and went back to Mama, who was very upset that we had been gone for so long."
"It's weird that I didn't remember any of that until that night in Syrinus' home. Funny how I can remember it now like it just happened a few minutes ago."
Xena's face was a blank mask as she tried to discern what exactly had happened to Kharis and who could have told her the prophecy, "These old women, did they ever tell you their names?"
A shake of the head was her answer, as Kharis tried to remember one tiny detail that was alluding her for the moment, "No, they never told me who they were but they knew me."
"They called me by name, even though I never told them who I was. Plus, they kept calling me by another name that, at the time, I didn't know why they would do that."
"What did they call you?" Xena asked despite knowing what the answer would be.
"Guardian," the girl said as she averted her gaze from Xena's. "I know why now but how did they know? Who were they?"
Golden eyes looked for an answer that Xena didn't think she had. She had her suspicions but didn't want to voice them until she knew for sure yet Kharis needed to know.
"I don't know who they were, Khar, but I could guess. I think you had a visit from the Fates," Xena stated simply as she noticed that her sister wasn't surprised. "You guessed didn't you?"
"Yup, it's the only thing that would make sense really. Who else would know about it besides the Gods and them?"
"That's what I figured too. So the Fates told you the prophecy and then made you forget it until you found me. The question is why?"
"I guess so that the Gods wouldn't worry, what else is there?" Kharis knew the answer but wasn't sure whether she could reveal it to her sister.
"No, there has to be another reason. Ares told me long ago to warn me I thought. Now I'm wondering why when surely he knew that I would find out about you," Xena puzzled over the discrepancies and through either luck or instinct a question quickly popped into her mouth. "There's more to the prophecy isn't there?"
Kharis nodded before she could check herself then stammered as she tried to stop the next question that came to the warrior's lips, "I don't know what it is. At least I don't remember. I think I knew it once but now..." The words died down as Kharis felt her soul quake at the scrutiny she was receiving from blazing blue eyes. The lie was easier to tell then she had thought possible. Burying it very deep within her Kharis prayed she could hide the truth from her sister, if only for a little while.
One eyebrow climbed under raven hair as Xena exhaled, "If you don't remember then I guess we can't push it, can we? When the time is right, I'm sure the Fates will release whatever hold they have over you."
Kharis heaved a sigh of relief as Xena continued, "What did you mean when you said that you would allow me to become the light?"
"I'm not sure," Kharis grabbed her legs and rested her chin on her knees as she tried to cover her small slipup. "Maybe it really has more to do with you then me. I don't know."
"Well we won't be finding out any time soon, I hope, so I guess we should get back to business," Xena allowed the topic to drop as she mentally reminded herself to requestion Kharis later on when the time was right. "You have to decide what is best for you. If becoming an Amazon is not it then we'll have to figure something else out."
"Is there really anything else?"
"No," Xena sighed as a wicked smile formed. "Not unless you want to become a Hestian virgin?"
"Not on your life!" Kharis barked as she released her legs and started to laugh. Her secret was safe for the time being. A weight lifted off of Kharis' shoulders as she pushed the lie's guilt out of her mind and enjoyed her sister's much better mood.
"Okay, so I take that as a no," Xena smirked.
"Yeah, I think you can take that as a no. I saw a few of them when we went to Pydmon. They were too flighty for me. Creeped me out big time even as a kid."
Xena smiled inwardly at the reference. The warrior was learning that there were many facets to her sister that she never realised existed. The juxtaposition of the girl's psyche, between that of a little girl and a woman with power, was disconcerting but the warrior was very quick to adapt. 'Now we just have to see if the Amazons can adapt too.'
"So what rules were you hoping to lay down on me?" Kharis asked bluntly.
"Just the basics. Keep to your promises. Try not to let the Amazons get to you to much. And above all else, try not to become as efficient with the Amazons weapons as I know you can. We don't need a bunch of jealous woman starting to ask too many questions."
Xena grinned, "That's all. When it comes to the training I'll be giving you I expect nothing but your all, but hold back a bit with anyone else."
"Except Gabrielle. There's no way you could hide it from her anyways," Xena grinned as she stood up. "Guess we should be getting back. Gabrielle will start worrying soon."
Kharis snorted, "She has you on a tight leash doesn't she?"
"Not as tight as the one you'll be on," Xena smirked as she grabbed the girl by the hand and hauled her up. "Just think though, it'll be good for you. You'll love having the Amazons bossing you around."
"About as much as you would," Kharis said over her shoulder while retrieving her leggings and dagger. "And to think I agreed to Ephiny's demands. Hades, what have I done?"
Kharis heard a low chuckle coming from her sister as she pulled her leggings on and strapped the dagger to her thigh. Turning to face the warrior, the girl radiated an air of easy power that was never there before. Despite her lack in build and size she carried the look of someone formidable.
"Land or air?" Kharis asked cheerfully.
"You're choice but let me lead in case we run into a patrol. I'm guessing you're legendary disappearance has already spread and we don't need some trigger happy Amazons trying to one up you just yet."
"You never let me have any fun," Kharis whined playfully.
Xena declined to comment as she climbed the small hill that had brought them to the river. Finding a sturdy branch ten feet up, Xena allowed her body to relax as she bent her legs slightly then recoiled in tremendous strength, projecting herself straight up. Landing lightly on the branch she waited for Kharis to scramble up a tree close by.
"You are going to have to teach me that," the girl grimaced as she struggled in the sparsely limbed trees. "It's a bitch climbing through the larger trees when you're as small as me."
"Don't gripe. Let's go."
Both sisters began their flight through the woods back to the Amazon village and into a new life neither thought they would experience. It was going to be an interesting few months.
The large chamber was damp as a small waterfall cascaded through a fissure in crystalline rock. Falling into a clear pool, it swirled slowly in a rainbow of colours from the surrounding rock's surface. Hundreds of candles, embedded in any crevice to be found, lit the chamber as three old woman diligently worked at their spinning, measuring, and cutting. Murmuring to themselves they ignored the dazzling white light that suddenly filled the chamber as Ares materialised. Flipping curly black hair over his shoulders, the God of War smiled as he approached the Fates.
"So girls, how's the business?"
Lachesis measured out a length of thread for her sister's spinning wheel, "We have been waiting for you."
"The time for help is due," Clotho stated as she spun a new life into existence.
Atropos snipped a thread as she peered at the God; "It all depends if you'll interfere."
"For the prophecy's time is drawing near," all three women said in unison while continuing with their work.
"Now why would I interfere? I only need an answer to take back to Zeus," the God of War said as he admired his reflection in the pool. Smoothing a stray hair back in its place, Ares turned back to the old hags as he waited for the answer he knew was coming. 'Being a God really takes the fun out of anticipation.'
"You have set the course,"
"We have followed through,"
"Destiny can not be changed,"
"Despite what you may try to do," finished the three as they stopped their work.
Ares held up his hands at the three woman; "I'm not going to alter anything. I just need the info. Come on, help a friend out." Throwing his most dazzling of smiles, Ares knew that he was no friend of the Fates. Despite their best efforts, the God of War continually disregarded any council they had to give him and always chose the path of most resistance to their plans.
"We are not your friend..."
"To help, we have agreed..."
"Your question will be answered..."
"What, Ares, shall it be?" the three women asked as they observed the God before them. Ares was no fool and they knew it as he knew that they would answer only one question. How the question was asked was the key.
Taking his time, Ares paced in front of the pool while the Fates waited patiently. Time was not an issue here. Finally stopping, the God of War faced the three sisters; "Which mortal or God released the entire prophecy?"
"The one that spoke it is the one you know..."
"For you gave your essence to her soul..."
"Your Chosen one gave the release..."
"To the prophecy, a final piece," the Fates declared to a shocked God of War.
"How can that be? Xena only knew half. I never told her the rest," Ares whined, unbefitting of his station as a God. The Fates never lied but the truth was always a double-edged sword. If the God chose to believe it was one when it was the other so be it.
"You asked, we answered..."
"There is nothing more to say..."
"Now go before we tire of you..."
"And end your life today," the three said in earnestness.
Ares smiled meekly as he bowed to the old women before disappearing as suddenly as he came, leaving the three of them to regard one another before they resumed their work.
"The child is in mortal danger," Lachesis stated as she measured more thread.
"She will be safe, you'll see," replied Clotho as she spun her wheel.
"Light will protect them all," Atropos smiled as she cut a life out of existence.
Throughout the vast chamber a young woman's voice softly echoed; 'Thus said, so shall it be.'
To be continued in Dire Truths, part 3 of the Sins of a God Series
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