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Heritage-Chapters 1 & 2

Angeleeta Sosnowski


Xena, Gabrielle, their pals are all property of MCA/UNIVERSAL. The events which take place in this bit of fan fiction have not been officially endorsed and are intended for the enjoyment of those who chose to read on. No disrespect or copy right infringement intended.

HOWEVER, Wolf, Merlina, Erik and their pals are all property of Shapoopie Inc. Any use of these characters without my consent is way wrong, so please don't. (A special thanks to my number one gal Laura the Krusty Biscuit who helped edit this tale.)


A-Watch out for the subtext. If a same sex relationship freaks you out or is illegal where you are, please don't continue.

B-Things aren't always pretty in this story. Some of the action scenes are quite violent and graphic in nature, so if you're squeamish, watch out. Also, there are quite a few naughty words in this tale, the one's banned by the FCC, so be warned.

C-THIS STORY TAKES PLACE sometime during the what would be the fifth or six season of Xena. I'm made some decisions about what has happened to some of the characters based on third season shows and rumors. I started this story before "Maternal Instincts", "Armageddon Now", and the season finale aired. Some alterations have been made to accommodate those episodes and subsequent shows, but Dionne and I aren't buddies, so some things could turn out wrong. Oops!

D-There is a touch of Star Trek in this story which requires a little explanation. The universe is laid out in this pattern for my story: there are many dimensions (called realms) which exist next to each other. Between each dimension/realm exists an area of black space called the "void". Within each of these "realms" there is a land for the gods, mortals, and the dead. It is possible to travel between realms as well as between the lands. If I tell you any more, I'll give away too much of the story. If you're confused, drop me a line and I'll try to explain things a little more. Bachlorette (lyrics by sjon) copyright 1997 Bjork Overseas Ltd. Alarm Call (lyrics by bjork) copyright 1997 Bjork Overseas Ltd. Army of Me (lyrics by bjork) copyright 1995 Me Company


Chapter One

"I'm a fountain of blood in the shape of a girl"

"So you're sure we're being followed? I don't see anything." Gabrielle said as she discretely peered into the surrounding foliage. The day was unusually bright and cheerful, which usually meant something incredibly bad was about to happen.

"Believe me Gabrielle," Xena said calmly, "this person is someone who could easily follow us without being noticed, even by me. If they want to be known, there's a reason."

"Great." Gabrielle replied, getting a sinking feeling in her stomach.

Xena looked at her now worried friend and smiled. "Don't worry, this is someone who I'd like you to meet." I think she thought. "This is the person who taught me how to throw my chakrum." And other things...

"Well why don't they just greet us like a normal person would?" when the bard didn't get a response, she looked up at Xena who was lost in thought on Argo. Gabrielle knew that look and decided to change the subject. "Look Xena, there's an inn." she said pointing to a large tavern just off the path. "Kind of weird though, there's not a town in sight."

Xena, broken from her reverie, replied, "It's a favorite spot for the less virtuous to stop. That's where we'll meet up with our shadow."

"WHAT!?" Gabrielle stopped walking and looked up at Xena with disbelief. "Look, I know you can handle any trouble which comes our way, but why go looking for it. We've earned a little time off, don't you think?"

"Unfortunately, fate has seen otherwise, my bard." Xena said, her voice not betraying the sudden sense of dread she felt. "Let's go."

The two travelers walked toward the disreputable eatery. Several surly men were loafing outside on a deck which faced the road. The smell was bad enough, but when Gabrielle got a closer look and the scraggly band, her stomach felt even worse. She was surprised when the leader of the band merely nodded at Xena who tethered Argo and allowed them to pass without incident.

The bard was about to comment when the most wonderful smell hit her. They had entered the inn just as lunch was being served. The interior of the place wasn't too bad---the floor was even and clean, the tables and chairs in good shape, and the servers well groomed and helpful.

Xena sat in her usual spot with her back to the fall wall, half way between the hearth and stairs which lead to the second floor rooms. Gabrielle sat down opposite of her. The warrior waved at a sever and soon the two companions were enjoying a nice lunch of mutton stew, bread and ale.

"This place isn't anything like I expected," Gabrielle said, dipping some bread into her stew and chewing thoughtfully. "It's not like any of those other old hang-out's of yours."

"No, it's not," Xena replied, "the reason I used to come to this place is because they don't judge you here. You can come it, eat, relax, and not be hassled by the law. All fights take place outside, so the interior never gets destroyed. It's sort of an unspoken rule."

"Like honor among thieves?" the bard said sarcastically.

"Something like that."

Suddenly a loud crash was heard from outside followed by several shouts. A few people turned to look but most just continued to eat, ignoring the fracas outside.

"That, Gabrielle, would be our third for lunch." Xena said with a wicked grin. "Come on, I want you to see something."

Gabrielle quickly followed Xena outside into the sunlight and the middle of a small battle. The smelly men had doubled in number, to ten, and were surrounding a lone warrior, a woman. She was about Xena's height with extremely short black hair. It looks more like multicolored moss than hair, Gabrielle thought. The woman was thick, very muscular, but held herself with the grace of a dancer. She was dressed in tan leather pants, brown boots, and a dark green long sleeved linen shirt. The only armor she wore was a battered black vest. On her back was strapped a pack, containing all of her belongings, a sword, and to Gabrielle's amazement, a chakrum of silver and black. The woman glanced in their direction and winked. Gabrielle looked at Xena who had a smirk on her face. The Warrior Princess leaded against a nearby post and crossed her arms.

"TEN!" The warrior exclaimed in a deep alto, "Only ten! Gosh, I'm hurt. I guess the old guy has lost some respect for me. I mean, come on, even Xena would get more than ten."

The leader, the man who had nodded at them as they had entered the tavern laughed, "Xena's soft, she'd only get six, seven tops."

The warrior woman looked relieved, "Whew! At least that hasn't changed, thank Odin." The warrior smiled wickedly, "Okay boys," she drawled, "come get some."

Four of the men charged the woman at once. In a quick motion the woman leaped and flipped out of the way, causing the four fools to crash into each other. "Ten and stupid at that, sheeze!" the woman said to herself. She quickly took down another two who charged at her with swords. Unlike Xena, who would have just knocked the men senseless, the woman quickly slit one man's throat and cut the other man's chest open.

The warrior quickly whirled around and tossed her chakrum into the chest of a man about to shoot his cross bow. The four who had untangled themselves, came at her again, and with a series of dazzling kicks she had dispensed with them all. The killer turned to the last three men standing. "Your move." she said darkly. She's all killer, boy, I can't wait to be introduced, the bard thought.

The men looked warily at each other. After a second or two all three turned simultaneously and ran. Within two paces, the woman had killed two with a toss of her daggers. The last man, the leader, paused for a moment and looked at his two fallen comrades. With fear in his eyes, he turned and ran down the path at double the pace.

The woman laughed evilly and ran over to Xena and Gabrielle. She grabbed the chakrum off of Xena's hip and expertly threw it into the man's back, 300 paces away. She didn't even look at them before she took off down the road to the fallen man. Gabrielle was speechless, Xena just smiled.

"This is a friend of yours?" Gabrielle asked as she looked down the road to the woman and the man caught by Xena's chakrum. The woman was leaning over the man and saying something to him while pulling the deadly circle from his back. The bard looked back at her partner. "I thought your days of hanging around with assassins were over. I thought you had changed all of your former associates who were willing." Xena still wasn't listening, so Gabrielle reached up and took Xena by the jaw and forced her to look down at her. "Xena, pay attention to me! Who is this? Why are we here?"

"Calm down, she's a friend from long ago, someone who I thought was dead. I guess we're not the only ones who can come back huh?" Xena replied looking at her partner. Gabrielle let go of Xena's face and was about to speak when the Warrior Princes took off down the road toward her friend'.

Gabrielle was about to go after her when a hand on her shoulder halted her. She was about to give it to who ever had touched her, spinning around hotly her words died in her mouth when she saw the hand belonged to Ares.

"I should have know." Gabrielle spat out, "Aries, I figured you had your hands in this."

"Look kid, I'm involved here, but not like you think. I actually came to talk to you." Aries said in his usual cocky manner. "I wanted to tell you something about your new pal there."

"Oh really," the bard said, unimpressed, "and what is that?"

Aries leaned down and whispered in her ear, "You think Xena is one of a kind, that we made her and broke the mold. Well guess what, you're looking at the mold, coming to claim it's creation. Be warned Gabrielle, all is not what it seems." It a flash of light, the god of war was gone.

"I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who can come back from the dead." Xena said wryly.

"If only you knew," the woman replied. She stood up and jogged over the Warrior Princess and swept her up into a huge hug. Xena, not one for personal contact, eagerly responded. Both laughed loudly and held on for several seconds before they broke their embrace.


"Wolf! I can't believe it! How long has it been, three, four years?"

"Longer than that kiddo." Wolf replied. "The last time I saw you, you had just made it with Hercules and were about to retire from action. I'm glad to have heard that you didn't and that you're finally playing for my team."

"Yeah, well, one can't stay evil for ever." Xena replied warmly. Gods, has it been that long?

"Oh, I don't know about that," Wolf repled. "So," she nodded her head toward the inn, "that must be the famous bard, Gabrielle."

"Yes," Xena answered affectionately as the strawberry blonde headed their way. Wolf studied the emotion in Xena's face for a moment and quickly turned back to the task at had. She had purposely left the leader alive, although wounded. He needed to deliverer a message for her.

She leaded down and put the menace back in her voice. "Okay pal, I let you live for one reason. I want you to deliverer a message to your master, got it?" The man nodded his head. Wolf stifled a laugh as a dark spot appeared on the man's already soiled slacks. "You tell that wanna be that I'm back and that I've had it. I've found what I'm looking for and no half rate is going to stop me." Wolf darkened the expression on her tan face, "Got it?" The man nodded again. "Good." she reached back and pulled out a small bag from her pack. "Here, take this," she handed the bag to the injured man, "It's got some medicine, salted beef and money in it. It should be enough for you to make it home." The man starred at Wolf with a mixture of fear and wonder, quickly got up, and hobbled off.

Wolf turned and looked at what she had been seeking. Xena and Gabrielle were about 75 paces away trying to hide their argument by whispering. The true nature of their friendship was easy to see, which made things even harder. If what I've been told is true though, Wolf thought, the rift in their friendship should be healed by now, I hope.

"I hope you're not whispering on my account," Wolf said jovially as she approached the arguing pair, "I'd hate to have you talking behind my back, although it wouldn't be a first for Xe here."

Xena rolled her eyes. Gabrielle looked sternly at Wolf and said, "Look, I know you're the one who's been following us, so why don't you just attack and get it over with okay? We've had a rough few months and we're on vacation." The bard stepped forward, her staff in a defensive position.

"Hold on now Gabrielle," Wolf said, raising her hands, "I'm not here to attack you. I'm actually here because I need your help."

"How do you know my name?"

"Who hasn't heard of the famous bard, Gabrielle, who travels with the infamous Xena." Wolf put on her most charming smile. "You know, the legend of you two isn't just traveling around Greece either. Even in my homeland your name is known."

"Really." Gabrielle said, not believing a word. Aries' warning was getting to her. "And where is that homeland?"

"Gabrielle, give it a rest okay?" Xena said, cutting the tension. She placed a reassuring had on the bard's arm. "Wolf is one of the good guys. She could have killed me many times while I was a warlord, but didn't, because she was able to see the good in me. Wolf even sent me down the path toward Potadia. If it wasn't for her, we never would have met." Xena looked gently at the bard. "Trust me, please?"

Gabrielle looked at her partner for a moment and then relaxed. She lowered her staff and leaded against it. "I'm sorry,"she said to Wolf, "I'm just an a little edgy I guess."

Hey, it's okay, I'm used to it." Wolf said with a grin. "You guys go on ahead. I've got a little clean up to do here." she motioned to the bodies of the nine men she had killed which were still lying where they had fallen. "Just make sure and order me some of that delicious mutton stew, okay?"

Gabrielle looked at Wolf with a new respect. She had never seen anyone take care of the bodies of the people they had just killed. Even though she thought better of it, she had to ask.

"Why don't you just knock them out or something? Why kill all of these men?"

"I had to. I don't go around trying to get attacked, but when I do, I defend myself." Especially from this kind of scum.

Gabrielle looked unhappy at Wolf's response, so the warrior continued in a light tone, "Besides, in every job that must be done there is an element of fun."

Xena pushed a mortified bard through the door to the tavern as Wolf set about the task of burring the bodies in the common grave which was nearby the inn. Chapter Two

"you're bird on the brim, hypnotized by the whirl"

"So, Wolf, where have you been these past few years? I haven't heard anything from you in ages." Xena asked. They had been sitting quietly for some time, enjoying a fine lunch. "And what about these rumors of you being dead?"

"Well," What to tell without revealing the truth "I've was traveling for some time with my cousin on his ship, and then on my own. I was seriously injured. I mean really bad, I almost went into the void," Wolf said remembering those dark days after the last big battle, "so I spent a long time at home, recovering. It's taken me years, literally, to get back to where I am now."

"You didn't look to bad when I last saw you," Xena said, teasingly.

"Hey, kid, that trip cost me a lot. I wasn't ready to travel but I had to come see you. Come on, you? Teamed up with Hercules? To destroy your old army? I needed to make sure that it was true and I'm glad I did."

"Why do you call her kid, or kiddo?" Gabrielle asked. Wolf's casual reference to Xena was starting to really annoy her. "She has a name you know."

Wolf laughed. "You've got quite a champion here Xena." She smiled at Gabrielle. "I suppose the old warhorse hasn't told you about the first time we met has she?" The look on Xena's face confirmed it, so the warrior continued. "Despite my youthful appearance, I'm quite older than Xena, so I call her kiddo."

"Really, you don't look any older than the day you entered my camp, what 15 years ago now." Xena said. "How do you do that?"

"Family secret, sorry." Wolf replied.

"So are you going to tell the story or what?" Gabrielle said. Aries' words spun inside her head like a black vortex. Something wasn't quite right about Wolf, and she was going to find out before it hurt Xena and herself. Finally things are right between us my Warrior Princess, I won't let another ghost from the past nearly destroy us again.

"Okay, okay," Wolf relented. "But let me warn you now Gabrielle, it's not one that puts Xena in the best light. In her defense though, she was younger, much younger, and less experienced than she is now." With a devilish gleam in her eye Wolf began the tale...

"Cook! Where is the damn cook!" Xena threw down her plate. "I can't eat this shit!" she turned to her lieutenant, "Find the idiot who made this and kill him."

"Yes Mam" the terrified lieutenant. replied. The warlord Xena wasn't one to be disobeyed.

"GODS!" she thought. "Six cooks in two months, this has got to stop. I can't protect Amphipolous if my army is half starved or sick from the food." She got up and began to pace. "You would think that in all of the villages I'm come across, someone would have a decent cook."

"Mistress Xena?" the lieutenant. voice asked from outside the tent.

"Yes Haltonious, what is it?"

"It's the cook Mam. She asks to speak with you before we put her to death."

"What!?" Xena, who had just began to calm down, flared up again. She stormed out of the tent and grabbed the scarred lieutenant. by the neck. "How dare you disobey my orders. I don't care if that bitch wants to talk to Hercules before she dies, kill her now or you'll take her place."

Haltonious, who's face was now bright red squeaked out, "Mistress, we tried, but the cook..., the cook..., she's..., she's...."

Xena tossed the Haltonious down in disgust. "Fine, I'll do it my self."

The young warlord moved quicky through her camp toward the cooking area. She looked at the rag-tag group of mercenaries which she had been able to get to follow her so far. Xena knew that this was only the beginning. Soon others would hear of the great warlord Xena and they would rush to join her. Even Ares would have to take notice she often thought with delight.

Pushing aside fantasies of future glory, Xena rounded the final corner and looked at the mess which had once been the cooking area. Five of Xena's best men were either unconscious or dead. Pots, plates and food were everywhere. Standing calmly in the center of destruction was a woman, maybe seven or eight years older than the warlord. She was tall with tan skin and wild black hair which seemed to have a life of it's own. Instead of her long hair falling around her shoulders as Xena's did, it stood up in varying directions, so much so, that Xena had to stifle a laugh when she first saw it. Xena had only been a warlord for a few years, but she knew instantly that this woman was no cook.

"Who are you and where's my cook?" Xena asked hotly.

"You can call me Wolf, warlord Xena, and I'm the cook which you seek." the woman replied calmly.

"You seem rather calm for someone who is about to die." Xena said warily. "This woman is far more than she seems," she thought.

"If those five yokels are the best that you've got, kid, then your in bigger trouble than I thought." Wolf replied in the same nonchalant tone.

"KID!" Xena said angrily, "I'm no kid. I control this entire area. Soon I will control all of Greece."

Wolf made a strange gesture with her hands and said, "Whatever." Xena's fury continued to rise. Wolf, returning her hands to her sides spoke again, "Look, I don't want to fight, honest. I'm taking a break from that now. I want to cook, that's all, okay."

"I wouldn't call that warm shit you serve food." Xena said through clenched teeth.

"Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it's not food, kiddy." Wolf said matter-of-factly, "It's what my nephews and I serve our army and we do just fine." Wolf paused and looked Xena in the eye, "Give it a chance, Xena. This is what you and your army needs. What I serve will keep your men from getting sick, help them to heal faster, and give them more stamina. Tell you what, I'll even start to make a few Greek dishes now and then. How about that?"

"How about this!" Xena shouted. She drew her sword and charged Wolf the cook. Much to Xena's surprise, the unarmed Wolf easily avoided Xena's skillful attempt at killing her. After about 15 minutes, Wolf had enough, so she flipped over Xena, reached into a nearby pack, and whipped a silver and black disk at the stunned warlord. The disk bounced off of Xena's sword, knocking it far out of Xena's reach, and back towards Wolf who expertly caught it.

"Amazing," Xena said looking at the cook, "where did you get that?"

"A family secret, kid, sorry."

"Tell you what,"Xena said slyly, "I'll let you live if you teach me how to use that thing."

Wolf laughed at Xena, who still thought she could win. "The kid's got spunk," Wolf thought. She said, "Sure kid. I'll even teach you a few things about combat. You've had some good physical conditioning, as well as some superior training on the sword, so the addition of the chakrum will be a nice menacing touch."

"A chakrum huh? That's what it's called?"

"Yes." Wolf replied. "And rule number one of chakrum use, no temper. You have to have better control over your emotions in order to wield the chakrum effectively." She smiled at Xena, "You think you can work on that temper there?"

"Sure." Xena smiled back.

"Work on that temper there...." Gabrielle laughed. "She's worked so hard that most people don't even think Xena has any emotions. I'd give anything to see Xena put in her place like that." the bard continued to laugh. The three ales were definitely having an effect on her.

Xena gave Gabrielle a stern look. "Be happy little bard that I've grown accustomed to showing you some of my emotions." She leaned closer to Gabrielle and said in a seductive tone, "Or perhaps you'd like me to stop?"

Gabrielle, face now flush, squeaked out, "No."

Xena leaned back in her chair with a look of satisfaction, and replied, "Good."

Just as I had feared, Wolf thought, they've made the natural progression. Give this and their past, my job will be even harder now. Damn those worthless Greek gods! We should have never relied on them.

"Hey, are you okay?" Xena asked Wolf, who had drifted off.

"Oh, sorry," Wolf said, quickly recovering, "I must be getting tired. Time for that afternoon nap."

The sun had sunk in the horizon. Soon it would be time for the dinner crowd to arrive for the final meal of the day. It also meant after dinner entertainment.

"Say, Gabby," Wolf asked, looking at the sleepy bard, "Could I talk you into telling a story later. They have a prize for the best talent here every night. I think you could win."

"Only if you promise to play that recorder of yours." Xena said.

"Sounds like a far trade to me," the bard added.

Wolf, despite being gifted for music and hating to perform publicly, agreed.

The trio then broke up. Xena went outside to check on Argo and make sure the golden warhorse had a place in the small stable behind the inn. Wolf and Gabrielle saw that each was able to get a comfortable room for the night, as well as a bath. Wolf waved goodby to the bard and headed up the stairs to her small single room at the end of the hall. When Xena came in from the stable, she and Gabrielle headed for the room directly across from Wolf's. It was small, but big enough for two.

"Wolf, what a character." Xena said and she and Gabrielle got ready to take the afternoon nap' that Wolf had suggested.

"That she is," Gabrielle said, trying not to show her uneasiness with Xena's old friend'. Xena picked up on it right away.

"So what's been bothering you all afternoon with her? I've never seen you be that way with someone you've just met. I thought I was the suspicious one."

Gabrielle made a give me a break' face at Xena and sat down next to her on the bed. The bard took a deep breath and told Xena about her encounter with Aries. She watched with dismay as Xena's bright mood turned dark at the mention of the god of war's name.

"Blast!" she said in disgust. She got up and began to sharpen her sword. Gabrielle remained on the bed. She continued the discussion on Aries, "So what do you think he wants from us this time?"

"I don't know," came Xena's terse reply.

Gabrielle thought for a moment. What was the name of that god Wolf thanked in the fight, something in she thought. Xena, as if reading the bard's mind, answered her question.

"Odin, Wolf said thank Odin'," Xena said calmly. She had stopped working on her sword.

"Who's that? He's certainly not one of the Greek or Roman Gods."

"No, he's not," Xena said, trying to remember what Wolf had told her once about the Gods of her homeland. "Wolf's people and many others from that area believe in a totally different set of Gods. Wolf said she's even met some of them, so they must be real. I think she told me that they were like cousins of the Greek Gods. (pause) Yeah, Zeus's cousin is this Odin, who's the leader of this other set of Gods."

"Do you think that's possible?" Gabrielle asked.

"After what happened in Britannia, do you really need to ask?"

Gabrielle shuttered at the memory of Dahok and his followers. What she had thought had been a group of peace loving decent people turned out to be followers of the ultimate evil. It had cost Xena her son, Gabrielle her blood innocence and her daughter, and nearly destroyed their friendship. Finally, almost two years later, had Xena and Gabrielle finally been able to get back to what they had been before they had taken that ill fated trip.

Xena, seeing her partner's discomfort at the mentioning of the worst year of their life, put her sword aside and sat down next to the bard. She took Gabrielle in her arms and kissed her gently on her head. "Hey, sorry, I didn't mean ...."

"No, it's okay Xena." Gabrielle smiled at her partner. "It just that sometimes it still gets to me you know." The bard paused gathering her thoughts. "I can't lose the feeling that Wolf has something to do with all of that, and with us."

Xena raised an eyebrow. "Really," she said thinking, "then their has to be some connection between Wolf and Ares. We'll have to find out what that is."

Gabrielle smiled. It warmed Xena like no fire ever could. "Come on," the warrior said, "let's get started on that nap."

Gabrielle pulled Xena down on the bed. Laughing she said, "What ever you desire my Warrior Princess."

The sun had sank past the horizon when Xena and Gabrielle finished napping'. After a quick bath the two were ready to head downstairs for dinner. Wonderful smells from the kitchen were calling, and Gabrielle could never resist.

"Hold on Gabrielle, let me make sure Wolf is up." Xena said as they left their room. "I know she wouldn't want to miss dinner any less than you."

Gabrielle crossed her arms and stuck out her tongue at the Warrior Princess. Xena chuckled to herself and knocked on Wolf's door. After waiting a few moments, she was about to go in when the sound of angry voices stopped her. Wolf was awake and having a heated discussion with a male voice she had never heard before. Even with her heightened hearing, Xena could only make out fragments of the conversation.

"...I TOLD you so! You Gods are all alike! Listen, I've....." Wolf said hotly.

The second voice, a sweet tenor, replied, "Father is there now talking to them. I'm sure that....."

Xena heard Wolf's sarcastic laughter, "Like they did before? If they would have done their job, Xena....."

So this does involve the gods and myself, Xena thought. Perhaps Gabrielle was on to something..

"Come on pal," the male voice said, trying to calm Wolf down, "We can...."

Xena heard footsteps approaching the door. Wolf's voice, now directly opposite of Xena, separated by the door came through clearly. "Look," Wolf said, defeat in her tone, "I just can't do this alone anymore. I have a family too, you know, and I can only see them for the brief periods that I'm not chasing that bastards minions. I don't even want to think about the last time, when I almost lost that too. Have you ever faced the void, Blondie? Can you honestly tell me that you know what it's like to be utterly alone, lost in never ending darkness and despair?" Wolf cleared her throat, "I can't go there again, pal, I can't leave Merlina like that again."

More foot steps approached the door. The male voice spoke gently, "I can't lose you like that either, my dear friend. We all need you too much, and not because you're the best damn warrior ever created either."

"Thanks, pal. You're the best buddy this old fighter has ever had." Wolf said warmly to the male voice. "You'd better get back there, they'll need you're smarts, and I've got to go to dinner with my friends."

Xena quickly stepped back a few paces from Wolf's door. When the warrior opened it, Xena was leaning casually against the wall, not betraying what she had just heard. The man Wolf had been talking with was no longer in the room. Wolf gave Xena a tired smile. "Rest well Xena?" She waved at Gabrielle who was standing at the end of the hall.

"Oh, we rested enough," Xena said with a wink.

"Good, good," Wolf mumbled.

Xena waved Gabrielle to silence as the three made their way toward the main dinning area. Xena and Gabrielle were in relatively good spirits. Wolf, on the other had, lagged behind the pair, looking as if the world had just crashed down on her shoulders. It was not a good start to their evening together.

Wolf, who's love of food almost rivaled Gabrielle's, ate very little at the evening meal. Gabrielle and Xena chatted about recent events, Gabrielle telling a couple of short funny stories about their friend, Joxer. Wolf did her best to show interest, but her heart wasn't in it.

Xena, who had her suspicions about what was bothering her old friend, decided not to press Wolf on her troubles just yet. It was obvious to the Warrior Princess that her friend, the man who had vanished, was one of her gods, and that he was in contact with the Greek gods. Over what, still remained a mystery.

"Attention all," the bar keep said loudly. He was standing on a raised platform next to the fireplace, "Now it is time for the nightly contest. I respectfully ask that the talents be limited to either music or a bardic tale." The crowd laughed. After they settled, the bar keep continued. "I have heard that the famous bard, Gabrielle, is with us tonight. Would it be possible for us to hear one of your legendary tales?" He look through the crowd to the table at which Xena, Wolf and Gabrielle sat.

The bard smiled warmly and rose from her seat. "I will gladly tell a tale if you allow my friend here to play some music first." She motioned to a startled Wolf, who had been thinking about something not involving the contest. Several in the crowd recognized the warrior and cheered heartily. Wolf smiled weakly and stood. Without speaking she walked up to the platform, sat on it's edge, and pulled a small wooden recorder from her vest.

The crowd quickly quieted themselves. Wolf, who's downtrodden demeanor hadn't changed, spoke softly. "This is a song from my homeland to the far north. It's words tell of a great warrior who must defend the land from everlasting evil The warrior lives in a place somewhere between the land of mortals and gods and must return to the land of the living in order to vanquish the darkness. It's a song about the true love of the great warrior, who must watch her beloved depart over and over again, leaving her alone in the land on the edge of forever. There she awaits in deep sorrow for her lover's victory so that they can be united once again. It's a song which reflects the greatness of pure love, and the sorrow it brings to the pair, eternally together, eternally apart." It was written about me, Wolf silently added, as she composed herself and began to play the haunting tune.

Xena and Gabrielle had never heard such a beautiful melody. You could almost hear the words to the music thanks to Wolf's incredible playing. Many were weeping openly by the end of the song. Wolf waited for a moment as the last note lingered in the deepening night, letting all of her emotions be exposed for just a second. She quickly gathered her wits and stood and faced the moved audience. With a nod to the bar keep she made her way back to Xena's table and sat down.

Gabrielle wiped a tear away and took Wolf's hand, "That was amazing," she said softly. "Where did you learn to play like that?"

"The greatest musician in the land taught me to play while I was recovering from one of my more perilous adventures. She was a great healer too." Wolf smiled at the memory.

"Where is she now?" Xena asked. The power of Wolf's playing still got to her, all these years later.

"Dead." Wolf said flatly.

"I'm sorry," Xena replied genuinely.

"It's okay," Wolf looked warmly at Xena, "it's been quite some time since her death. (pause) And besides, she's waiting for me."

"That's good," Gabrielle said reassuringly, "she must have been very special."

"She is like the earth from which I draw my strength, her gentle touch stills the raging storms within me. She is everything to me, and I am everything to her." Wolf chuckled to herself, "And she's one of only two people who has the strength to put me in my place," Wolf paused for dramatic effect, "the other is a god."

Gabrielle was about to ask if that god was Aries, when Wolf suddenly stiffened. The warrior quickly grabbed her pack from the floor and raced out the door.

"What is it?" the bard asked Xena.

"I don't know, I didn't sense anything, but whatever it is, it's bad."

Xena and Gabrielle grabbed their weapons and dashed out the door. No one in the audience seemed interested in a story anymore.

Xena's heart froze. No, no, it can't be her mind screamed. I can't do this again. Wolf was standing about 100 paces away from the door of the inn. In front of her were two horrible creatures, half man, half animal. Both had the legs and arms of a man, but one had the head of a serpent, the other a black wolf. In between the two monsters was a shorter figure with the hybrid body of a man and a goat. Behind him, a dazzling light flickered from what looked to be a rip in thin air. The messenger of Dahok, The Deliverer, had returned.

"Dahok!" Xena spat out as she instinctively stood in front of the stunned bard. She could feel the tumultuous emotions pulsing through her partner.

The Deliverer didn't even acknowledge their presence, all his attention was on Wolf who stood calmly 15 paces away from the gruesome trio. His spiteful words were meant for her, "Ah, the eternal champion has returned from the edge of the void, how nice." He glanced and Xena and Gabrielle, "And you've brought my master's other favorite pair, Xena and Gabrielle." The Deliverer's yellow eyes looked Gabrielle up and down, "Perhaps you could even give my master another child, one not as disappointing as Hope."

"Shut up asshole," Wolf said, barely holding her fury in check. "You're here for me, not them, so let's get it on. I don't have the patience for your usual preamble."

"Stupid dog," The Deliverer spat out, "Do you think your little plan would go unnoticed by the great Dahok? You and your gods have picked poor allies with the Greek immortals, they are weak, even by your low standards." He laughed, "Dahok knows all and will not allow you to fulfill the prophecy. You will return to the void and join your pathetic brother. His suffering is still amusing, even after all these years."

Wolf fought to control her raging temper. She knew he was trying to goad her into making a stupid mistake, which now more than ever, she couldn't afford. Xena and Gabrielle had to know what they had really gotten into three years ago. Dahok was no Callisto, and couldn't be that easily disposed of.

"What's wrong bitch?" The Deliverer asked, rasing his hand in a mocking gesture, "Cat got your tongue?"

Xena's chakrum whooshed past Wolf's head and neatly cut off the Deliverer's out stretched hand. It slammed into and stuck in a tree some distance behind the evil demon.

"No, but I've go your hand." Xena said in her menacing drawl. "Why don't you go back to that cesspool you call home. You've had enough playtime for one day."

Wolf couldn't help but laugh. She's starting to sound like me, the warrior thought.

The Deliverer screamed in pain, he shouted, "This is far from over dog. Dahok will kill you once and for all. FINISH THEM!" The Deliverer raced into the rippling light and was gone, leaving his two large companions for Xena and Wolf.

"Is this how you keep yourself looking so young?" Xena asked sarcastically, pulling her sword.

"Easy answer, yes," Wolf said, doing he same, "but it's more complicated than that."

"Gabrielle!" Xena shouted, "Get inside and don't let any curious onlookers come out here for a peek at the action."

"Right." Gabrielle shouted half heartedly. She had prayed that the nightmare that had been Dahok was over, but a nagging feeling had told her it wasn't. The bard had pushed that voice deep down and ignored it. The voice was now screaming at her inside her head.

Xena glanced behind her one last time to make sure Gabrielle was out of harms way. She's never really got over this, the warrior thought, I don't think I have either. Xena focused her undivided attention on the task that lay ahead. The two demons, who's appearance was daunting enough, were two feet taller than both herself and Wolf. The snake-man held a long broadsword, the wolf-man held a large, double sided ax. Xena could tell by the way the two monsters held their weapons that both were skilled in their use.

Wolf swallowed hard. She had barley managed to keep her anger in check and now she needed to concentrate and focus that energy on killing two of the worst of Dahok's men.

"So I see I've moved up to the big leagues now!" Wolf said with the same bravado she had used on the ten men earlier in the day. "Dahok has finally sent some of the big uglies."

The snake man hissed/spoke, "Wolf, I had heard Tralvonius had sent you to the void."

"Well," Wolf replied with a laugh, "we both know Tralvonius's penchant for exaggeration. You should have heard what he said about you, Pertron, right before I ripped his heart out."

Pertron's beety eye's glowed red, "I was going to show mercy on you, but now I think not."

With a howl, Wolf lunged and Pertron, and the two began to fight viciously. Xena was soon embroiled in her own fight to the death with the wolf man, named Kriton. The Warrior Princess had faced all kinds of foes, even Aries, and defeated them all. After a few minutes of fighting though, she had the feeling her winning streak was about to come to an end.

Wolf was an equal in skill and strength to Pertron, almost. She still wasn't one hundred percent, and it added to the tension of the battle. Xena could nearly feel the mighty blows she heard being exchanged by the two. The side of good was holding their own, but not for much longer.

Xena dodged another heavy blow from Kriton. She did a back flip to get herself more breathing room, when she saw Wolf's sword shatter. She was about to leap to defend Wolf who was now down on one knee, when a blinding bolt of lightening suddenly struck her comrade. In a flash the warrior woman was up and her sword whole. With a battle cry she shoved her sword into Pertron's chest, causing black goo to splatter all over. Kriton turned to see what Xena was starring at in amazement. Wolf spun, pulled her sword from the fallen demon, and launched herself, as if from a catapult, at Kriton. Kriton was sliced in half as a crazed warrior, covered in blood, whizzed by. Xena barely had the time to blink.

Suddenly Wolf screamed in rage and pain and collapsed into a heap on the ground. Xena, who was quicky joined by Gabrielle, were at her side in an instant.

"I heard the thunder and thought it might have been Dahok," Gabrielle said apologetically.

"It's okay," Xena replied in a reassuring tone, "the bolt stuck Wolf, and somehow it managed to turn a defeat into an amazing victory. I've never seen anything like it."

"A gift of the gods," Wolf said in a horse whisper.

Xena and Gabrielle looked at their fallen comrade in astonishment.

"That was some trick," Xena said as she helped her friend get up. "I assume it means you have a good working relationship with the gods of the northern peoples?"

"You could say that," Wolf paused to wipe some grime from her face. "Every now and then, especially since the accident, they, well one actually, will give me a hand. I'm not a strong as I once was."

"Come on," Gabrielle said, "let's get you inside and into a hot bath."

"No can do Gabby," Wolf said. "They know we're here, so gather your stuff. We have to leave, now."

Xena nodded and the bard left to gather their belongings. The Warrior Princess turned a hard eye on her friend. "So what's going on, Wolf? And, more importantly, what do you have going on with Dahok?"

"I swear I will tell you as soon as we are safe," Wolf said, her eyes pleading for trust. "We can't talk right now. Dahok has spies inside the inn and probably surrounding us it the woods as we speak. I'm going to take you to a safe place, and there we can chat. ALL of us." she added loudly.

Xena just looked at her friend, and without speaking, went to get Argo from the stable. Gabrielle quickly returned and the three were off, Xena and Gabrielle on Argo, Wolf of a grey mare she had just bought from a local man at the inn. They traveled non-stop through the night, only taking a couple of breaks to rest the horses who were exhausted from going at full tilt. By dawn the trio had reached a large lake which was fed by a mighty river. On the lake was a ship, Wolf's ship. It was smaller than the great Greek and Roman cargo ships, but it was fast, sturdy, and safe--ideal for both sea and inland water travel.

As soon as the trio had reached the water's edge, a small skiff left the larger craft unmanned, and headed for the threesome. Wolf got down from her horse and waded waste deep into the cool lake water and grabbed the boat, guiding it closer to shore.

Xena looked at Wolf disapprovingly. "What are we supposed to do with the horses? I can't get Argo on that little boat and that ship doesn't look like it'd be big enough."

"Let her run free for awhile," Wolf said, getting out of the water. She walked over to her own horse and began to take of the riding gear. "The gods, MY gods, will protect them."

"WHAT!" Xena exclaimed. "I'm not going to leave Argo unattended so any thug can catch her. People know who this horse belongs to."

"It's true," Gabrielle added, "they'll hurt Argo to get at Xena."

Wolf looked at them and said evenly, "Let her go. These animals are smart, and they will find the one place where only animals can travel and be safe. No man will lay a finger on your precious Argo. My own steed, Fury, is at such a place now and will be there when we reach my homeland, as will Argo." She paused and looked an Xena and Gabrielle, letting them know that leaving the horses was the only option. With a sigh, Xena began to unsaddle Argo and load the gear onto the skiff.

When all the gear was loaded and Xena had said her goodbyes to Argo, the heroic trio set off for the silent ship. None of them had to row, because the boat moved under it's own magical power.

"Uggh," Gabrielle said quietly to Xena, "Not voyage by sea. I don't think I can take another one."

Xena patted the bard's arm and smiled, "As long as you use the pressure points, you'll be fine Gabrielle."

"She won't need them," Wolf said. The warrior continued to look ahead at the rapidly approaching ship, "No one gets sick on my ship, even if Dahok gives us a doozie of a storm, you'll be fine Gabrielle."

The two surprised friends looked questioningly at Wolf, who had fallen silent again. They soon came along side the ship, and ropes where thrown down so the boarding party's gear could be loaded. Xena and Gabrielle climbed up next as Wolf gathered the last of their belongings. They were greeted by three men, all appearing to be about Xena's age. One man had shoulder length thick blonde hair, blue eyes, and was about a foot taller than the Warrior Princess. The second man, who was about Gabrielle's height, had short brown hair and piercing grey eyes. The third man looked like Wolf, with short black fuzz for hair, dark brown eyes and tan skin. All three carried themselves well, showing both knowledge of the sea and warfare.

"Hello," the black haired man said, with a voice like song, "Welcome to The Immolation." He held out a worn hand, "My name is Donner, Wolf's cousin. This is Gunther," he motioned to the brown haired man, "and this is Erik," he motioned to the tall blonde man. "We are the faithful crew of this ship and have pledged our loyalty to our captain, Wolf."

Xena and Gabrielle shook hands with all of the men. The blonde one, Erik, who's voice was like thunder, said, "We have placed your belongings in the best cabin. If you wish, you may go there now and rest. We will be getting underway shortly."

"Where are we going?" Gabrielle asked.

Gunther replied, with a voice like a spring day, "We are going to our homeland to make the final stand with the chosen one."

"We're going to the north lands Xena," Wolf said. She had climbed aboard, and with Donner's help, secured the skiff on deck. "We're going home, my true home, and the place of our origin."

"What do you mean?" Xena asked, tiring of all this mystery, "Greece is our land of origin."

"The bard is of no consequence," Erik said calmly, "You are whom we seek."

"You may have been born in this land," Donner added quickly, trying to be the peace maker, "but you family was not."

"I suppose you're now going to tell me that I'm descended from some great northern tribe, probably Wolf's, and that I've been chosen to fulfill some heroic prophecy. My destiny is to save man from the evil of Dahok, or something like that." She laughed sarcastically.

Wolf gave her a wry smile, "At least you saved us from telling you the story."

Xena looked blankly at Wolf, who just smiled. Gabrielle, still angered over Erik's comment, stormed off to find the cabin. Wolf looked at her crew and said melodramatically, "On to glory men, and may the gods smile upon our noble quest."

"Here, here!" the shouted and set about their tasks.

Xena walked over to Wolf who was now standing at the helm. "You're kidding right?"

Wolf smiled and started to laugh. She suddenly stopped and looked at Xena with deadly earnestness, and said, "No, kiddo I'm not. You're a descendant of my family line and you're destiny is to take my place and defeat Dahok to save mankind. You're a descend of Odin, leader of the gods of the north, just as I am.... only a little farther removed."

With that, Wolf turned and took the wheel. Xena went to the stern of the ship and looked at her passing homeland. The lake was the start of a great river which lead to the sea. The sea would take the Warrior Princess to a place she had never visited to face an evil which as all too familiar.


Chapter 3

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