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The characters, names and storylines which have appeared in the syndicated television show Xena: Warrior Princess are copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters in this story and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be used or sold for profit in any way. This story has been written solely for the reading enjoyment of Xena: Warrior Princess fans of the Internet.
This story is meant to take place between the time of the episodes "Sacrifice II" and "A Family Affair".
Note to Reader:
The author has tried to present Hope as she is on the show. She is a dark character. She has however on occasion shown some small interest in her mother. Her love for mother is not guaranteed, however there is always...hope.
The Quiet Survivor
Aaordus' made a scuffing sound as his shoes dug into the mud along the narrow village road. It was late at night and his drunkenness made the long trip home seem even longer. Aaordus was tired and not in a good mood. The approaching storm didn't make him feel any better. He looked up at the clouds and knew that he wouldn't make it back to his home before the rainfall started. Almost dutifully, a light mist began to fall on him. He grumbled to himself and continued reluctantly on his way.
Within the next half hour, he was soaked from the relentless downpour. The quick and forceful flashes of lightning showed the path ahead. Aaordus saw that he was passing the home of the farmer's widow Alyssa.
A sudden clap of thunder was accompanied by a sharp scream. He jumped at the sound of it. Aaordus stood there numbly for awhile, but he could hear nothing. The rain continued to batter down upon his face and run through his hair. Rolling thunder from the east suggested that the worst of the storm was yet to come.
Curiousity got the best of him, and he reluctantly walked forward to the old wooden gate that barely separated Alyssa's property from the dirt path. He could barely hear the creaking of the old gate due to the loud thunder. That made him a bit uneasy. He walked carefully forward. A sudden clap of thunder directed his attention to the right, where the big red barn was located. He squinted his eyes and could see the faintest impressions of shadows against the window panes. There was a lantern being used.
A second scream from within the barn sent a cold chill down his spine. It wasn't a very long scream or forceful, but it sounded unlike anything he had ever heard before. He glanced to the left and then to the right, a bit of fear edged in his thoughts. A flash of lightning revealed a pitchfork not too far away and he gratefully walked over to take it.
Aaordus crept slowly to the front barn door, realizing that it was unlocked. He reached his fingers into the entry hole of the door and pushed the door out slightly, just enough so that he might brush in between the doors and enter the barn. Aaordus walked inside with the pitchfork raised, looking to the lofts on either side and then to a few hay bails which lied scattered around on the floor. When he was about halfway into the barn, he could see a bag on the floor. It was the medical bag of the local healer Celeme, a trusted woman within the community.
Aaordus' frowned. Celeme's bag and the items in it seemed to be thrown around on the floor without concern. That wasn't like her to be so messy. Aaordus walked forward and kneeled down, still keeping one hand on the pitchfork. He reached for the bag and quickly drew his hand back. He had worked on the farm long enough to recognize the look and feel of blood when he encountered it.
Aaordus stood up quickly and spun around. His breathing increased considerably. He felt like a person who had unexpectedly walked into serious trouble. He looked quickly back up to the lofts on either side and then around him. He could hear nothing but the thunder outside.
Just then a sound of hay scraping against the floor sounded to his left, well behind the larger bales of hay. He ignored the wrinkled blanket which lay near the overturned medical bag and focused on where he heard the noise. Aaordus felt a bit of concern for his friend of two years so he called out to her.
"Celeme?" His voice sounded more worried than he wanted it too. He took a few cautious steps forward, barely a few feet from the large hay bails. He walked around them and stopped suddenly, taking a deep breath as he saw what was left of Celeme.
A sudden scraping sound made him turn sharply around. It had come from the opposite side of the barn. Aaordus' eyes were wide open now, desperately searching for the person or animal that was responsible for this. He wanted to run to the barn door and keep running all the way home, but something told him that he wouldn't make it out.
Aaordus held the pitchfork out in front of him, ready to stab anything that moved. He walked slowly around the side of the hay bails until he caught the impression of a moving shadow behind them. He could see something that looked like an animal. An animal that was still chewing on something. His fighting instincts took control of him and he jabbed the pitchfork forward.
The animal moved with incredible speed. It bolted back to the other side of the hay bails and then Aaordus heard the scraping of claws against hay. The sound moved very fast up the side of the hay bails. Time seemed to move painfully slow for Aaordus as he slowly drew the pitchfork back in his arms. A few brief flashes of lighting showed a roughly dog -sized animal covered with sharp quills. He was still stunned by the sight of the animal when it sprang upon him.
Outside the storm continued to rage on with the wind and rain hitting the house and barn. The thunder rolled on and the lightning flashed with a loud crack. A second almost unearthly scream could be heard from the barn for a few seconds before it was drowned out by the storm.
The beast within had had its meal for the evening. It rested now in the loft above. Its big blue eyes looked to the barn entrance, blinking slowly with a child-like innocence. The child sighed and rested its head, waiting for mother's return.
Reyn, the tavern owner, jumped up out of bed in the middle of the night. He had just heard the most horrible of screams. It came from within the tavern. He quickly lit a candle and walked into the main drinking area, using the lighting as much as the candle to find his way to the stairway. He walked up the stairway and stopped at one of the doors. The door was open. He stuck his head in to find something flying directly at him.
"Aaahhhh!" Reyn was pulled into the room and slammed against the wall. Someone had a hold on him in a viselike grip and he couldn't break free. Over the thunder of the storm a woman's voice called out to him with a cold, threatening tone. "What do you think you're doing?"
"I uh-I was just checking on a noise." Reyn took a deep breath.
The woman's hold on him relaxed. She let go of him after a few seconds and walked over to sit on the bed. Reyn could see that she was feeling sad about something. She wasn't drunk like the previous night, but she still felt miserable. "Is there anything I can get for you?"
She brushed her hand over her face, giving him a sad smile. She whispered her response. A simple, "No."
Reyn nodded his head, not really understanding but trying to act like he did. He was going to ask her a question when a strong knock sounded at the door below. He excused himself from the room and made his way down the stairs to the door. One of the townsmen was there, a farmer that lived on the outer east edge of town. He mentioned hearing some screams from his neighbor's home. The man seemed upset.
Xena stood quietly within the doorway of her room, listening to the two men. Reyn suggested finding Celeme if someone was hurt. The farmer left to look for her while Reyn put on a rain coat. He turned to pick up a dagger hidden behind the counter, when he saw the woman standing before him. She was already dressed and ready for travel.
"I heard what he said. Thought I might join you." Her voice was calm and controlled.
Reyn nodded. He could see the sword and another round weapon of some kind at her side. He welcomed her assistance. If she was half as good with a sword as she was in a barroom brawl, she could hold her own. They made their way quickly down the main road toward the outer edge of town. The rain was still strong, but the worst of it had past.
Reyn could see that the woman wasn't one for unnecessary conversation. She was a woman of action. As they approached the gate of the widow Alyssa's home, the woman took on a noticeably more aggressive role. Xena walked into the yard first, narrowing her eyes across the darkened area, looking from the house to the barn. She could see the barn door gently rocking back and forth. She and Reyn made their way to the barn.
As they reached the front of the barn, Xena slowly drew her sword. She held it in front of her, carefully looking inside before entering. Reyn followed her inside with his dagger drawn, keeping to the side wall of the barn. Xena walked carefully inside. She could see hay scattered around the floor all the way to the entrance. A few bails of hay had been knocked over. There was also a lit lantern and a bag of some kind on the floor.
Xena walked over and reached for the bag, immediately drawing her hand back. She raised her hand up to her face to smell the blood. She heard Reyn yell and spun around to see him shaking, standing near the side wall behind a stack of hay. Xena looked around quickly and joined him. What she saw surprised her, even with her battle experience. Something had made a meal of two people.
As Reyn took his time to regain his strength, Xena made a quick search of the barn and lofts. She returned to him and let him know all was safe. It was probably some wolf or bear most likely. She walked to the barn entrance and looked out, noticing the faintest of blood trails on the ground. It extended straight out, past a tree line and into the forest.
Xena gave Reyn a few last minute instructions of locking the barn up and going back for the authorities. She intended on following the trail. Whoever did this needed to be brought to justice, and besides that she needed something else to do to take her mind off the loss of Gabrielle. She couldn't keep up the attacks on Ares' temples forever. With her sword drawn and at her side, Xena walked carefully into the forest behind the barn to find the animal responsible for this destruction.
"But why? Why can't we go back for mommy?" Amber asked as she tried to keep up with Hope.
Hope looked down to the little girl with a smile. "Mommy will understand. She's busy making breakfast."
Amber nodded and continued to follow Hope down the trail. Hope and the child had been traveling for some time now. The real reason that they left the village was due to her son's unexpected appetite. Hope would have preferred to stay longer, but when she returned to Alyssa's home to find her, the healer and another man no longer alive, she knew it would only be a matter of time before suspicions were aroused.
The sun was just starting to show in the morning hours. Hope frowned at the tall wheat fields that surrounded the path they were traveling on. Somewhere out there in the field, her son was racing around building up his practiced speed. She shook her head softly as they continued along. Her son was frustrating at times, but she still cared for him. He had a special place in her thoughts and in her father's plans; however, she would have to talk to him about open displays of affection. He had wanted a hug from her when she returned to the barn, but considering what he had done, she felt no interest in doing so. She had pushed him aside. He had sat there quietly looking at her. He was strong, she reasoned he would survive.
The sun was farther into the sky now. The path was easy to see. As they continued along, Amber asked Hope about the noises in the fields around them. Hope told her it was just the wind. Amber asked why the wind always seemed to blow around them in a circle and then rush off to the side. She was sure the wheat near her had brushed against her a few times. Hope assured her it was just how the wind behaved. She dare not tell the child that her son was nearing another meal time. She knew what he wanted his meal to be, but Hope would not allow the child to meet that fate.
Just then the sound of voices could be heard further up the trail. Hope grew tense for a few seconds, unsure of what this unexpected situation would bring. She closed her eyes briefly in thought, and the rustling sounds within the wheat field stopped. They continued forward until they saw four people in the distance. All of them were women.
Amber's eyes lit up with excitement. Despite Hope's concerns, Amber called out to them and waved. The Amazons came closer and upon seeing Hope, they immediately bowed their head in greetings to their honorary queen. Hope was surprised. She quickly realized why they paid her such respect. She returned their greeting and asked of their journey, carefully using an innocent, pleasant sound to her voice which she had practiced.
The Amazon warrior leading the patrol reported that they were headed toward the next village for supplies. It was the village Hope had just left. While Hope and the Amazon leader spoke, one of the other Amazon women noticed Amber and smiled. She told Amber that she was one of the two women that had helped her parents long ago. Amber told her about how she was going to be an Amazon when she grew up. All of the Amazons smiled at the child's enthusiasm.
The Amazon leader asked a question. She was never told that Gabrielle had a child. Hope explained that she and Amber were hiking on a nature trail just like the Amazons do. The woman nodded, accepting the explanation. Hope saw an opportunity and asked if the women might take the child back to the village while she headed down the trail. The Amazon leader agreed and Amber seemed pleased with the idea. Everyone said their good-byes.
The youngest of the Amazon women, Lyssa, would accompany Gabrielle on her journey. It was a tradition among the Amazons for the youngest to follow the most experienced. Hope and Lyssa continued along the trail for some time before the young Amazon asked her queen about the rustling sound in the fields. Hope explained it as probably being a deer or rabbit. Then she paused as she recognized the thoughts of her son in her mind, calling to its mother for food.
Hope turned to Lyssa and told her this would be a perfect opportunity to practice her hunting skills. Lyssa was eager to prove herself to the Amazon queen. She obediently took out her dagger and headed into the field to find the meal. Hope was certain that a meal would indeed be found.
The crackling sound of burning sticks and pinecones could be heard from the evening's campfire. Hope sat quietly across from it, watching the shadows and light dance across the trees and grass on the fire's opposite side. She was relaxed on this evening, content with the manner in which her work was proceeding. The child was well fed and sleeping, the young Amazon was no longer a concern and she could once more turn her thoughts to the days ahead.
Her thoughts of the Amazon women and their ways brought images of mother into her mind. She imagined what mother would look like dressed as they were. The entire idea of mother being an Amazon was mildly curious to her. Gabrielle was afterall a peace loving woman. She did not seem suited for a warrior's role. No doubt there was much of her mother's past that Hope did not fully understand.
She frowned slightly. So much that she did not understand. And there was indeed an interest within her to understand her mother. Hope wasn't sure exactly why that was, but on occasion, when her duties permitted, she allowed herself to imagine what mother's life was like before she arrived.
Of course, she was well aware of the changes to mother's life after her conception in Britannia and her birth just outside the Banshee forest. Her thoughts and ability to understand her special purpose in life had matured at an unexpected rate by mortal standards. Just before her birth even, in the stable belonging to the knights, she held the full knowledge which she had now. The more basic human emotions had a greater effect upon her then. The smiling. The infant talk. The need for hugging with her mother. Mother's encouraging words.
Words which were not returned in the eyes of that other woman. Hope could tell even at such a young age, that the other woman didn't like or trust her. It was a moment of genuine concern for Hope, as her powers had not fully matured with her mind. The knight watching over her and her sleeping mother was easy to deal with. He was so trusting and calm, but the woman, she was protective and careful. She could do nothing to that one. So she did the only thing she could do at that time. A few well timed laughs and smiles were all that Gabrielle had needed to fulfill her protective motherly role.
The Banshee's did their best of course, rescuing her and persuading a lone couple to continue raising the child that had been delivered to them. Hope was uncertain what had become of them. Her attention had been directed on her powers and a few brief contacts with father. She had received no news from father that the couple had been disposed of, so perhaps they had been allowed to continue their simple life near the forest.
Hope entertained the possibility of allowing those two to share in her father's grand new order. Just as she considered the option for others such as her mother or the child Amber. Her eyes were growing heavy and the need for sleep was becoming more evident. Through tired eyes she could see the flames of the campfire grow slightly stronger and they frequently did. She allowed herself the briefest of faint smiles to the campfire before falling to sleep.
The next few days were rather uneventful. A simple walk along the grass and dirt paths, occasionally interrupted by travelers that passed by her to their own destinations. Hope spoke to only one or two of them, always remaining polite as she imagined mother would be, and in return they told her the proper direction to her village. She thanked them and continued on her way. On one occasion she had stopped, having heard a traveler cry out in pain. Then she shook her head with a slight smile. It was the smile a mother gave when they were proud of their child's actions.
Hope could see a winding stream which passed near the path ahead. She stopped there to get some water. The rustling of weeds behind her caused her to look back slightly. With a simple thought, she gave the child permission to get a drink. His speed was impressive to her. He darted out and began to drink the water within a few seconds of his mother's permission.
The child had finished with the water and approached her. Hope looked down to him and checked to see that he was alright. As she did so, he reached out and touched her leg acting as though he wanted to be hugged. Hope sighed at the child's need for affection. If he were to be a Destroyer as father had promised, then such acts of love would be out of character for him, but the child was rather insistent on that day so she relented and allowed for a small hug.
They continued along the path and eventually reached a clearing. There were several people there. Some were washing clothes while other attended to farming duties. Among all of the villagers, a young woman with shoulder length black hair was waving to her. Hope raised an eyebrow in mild amusement as the woman approached her. She reached out and hugged Hope before she could think of a proper response.
"Oh, its so good to see you. How have you been? Mother has been so worried about you. Are you staying for long?" The young woman continued with several questions. Hope did her best to answer them well enough to satisfy her.
The young woman was apparently named Lila, a sister to her mother. Yet another part of mother's life which Hope was unaware of. She soon found out that mother also had parents as well, a father named Herodetus and a mother named Hercuba. Hope looked at the peaceful surroundings of this simple village. Lila was taking a break from her jobs to lead her sister back home to see mother and father.
Hope followed along dutifully as a good sister would. She looked to the surrounding fields and gave a simple command to her child. He was not to harm anyone here. He could hunt animals for now if he needed food. Hope turned her attention back to her aunt. She allowed herself to relax as Lila continued to tell her of recent events in the village. She had arrived in Poteidaia. Now she could fulfill her father's dark plans for this small, peaceful village.
The Quiet Survivor continues in Chapter 11
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