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Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, Cyrene are property of MCA/Universal. (duh!) This is a nonprofitable for pleasure only story. No copyright infringement was intended. The story and all other characters are mine.
Attention: I greatly appreciate praise, critiques, comments, or if you really just didn't like it. I'm open to all and every suggestion. My e-mail address is KTriche@msn.com. I know, I haven't written anything in a long time. But school has been keeping me busy. It's amazing what a mind can come up with during Social Studies class. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year's, Happy Hanukkah, and most of all Happy Solstice!
A Snowball's Chance
By Gillian Decker
"Gabrielle, wake up." The raven haired warrior shook her friend for the third time that morning. She had allowed her to sleep later that usual by packing Argo and the bedrolls before waking her. She shook the young bard once again before walking to the war horse for the wineskin. Gabrielle must have read her mind because she sat up and rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
"I'm up, I'm up!" It was more of a complaint than a declaration. She hated mornings. Xena replaced the water skin. Gabrielle reluctantly rolled over and stood. She yawned once more before rolling her blanket. Stretching once more, she hung the bedroll and Amazon staff from the saddle. It felt too early to be up. The frosty air nipped at her nose and ears, and the grass was covered with a heavy snow.
Xena mounted Argo and held a hand to help the bard mount. Gabrielle imitated the warrior's raised eyebrow look. "We'll be at mother's by in a hour if we both ride. Not to mention the sooner we get there, the sooner we eat." she ordered impatiently. She hesitantly took the outstretched hand and put her arms around the warrior's waist, and drew the cloak closer around her shoulders.
It was a rather cold Winter Solstice Eve. Argo had to lift her feet higher to plod through the thick layer of snow. The limbs of the birch and oak trees were heavily burdened with snow. But the cold only heightened the two travelers Solstice spirit. The icicles were an icy crystal blue; the same blue that matched the warrior's eyes.
The little bard told every story she could remember, with little or no comment from Xena. Every now and then, she'd pop in a question or comment. There were times when the warrior wanted to cut off the flow of blood to her own ears. In an hour or two, the two reached Amphipolis. Cyrene came out happily to greet them. Xena hugged her mother warmly. "Come in, come in." She ushered.
"You go in, I have to get Argo settled." Xena turned towards the stables.
"That's okay Xena, I'll do it." Gabrielle took the reins from Xena.
Xena raised an eyebrow at her friend's strange offer. Gabrielle was tolerant of the horse, but generally she did not usually care for horses. "Are you sure?" Gabrielle patted her friend's shoulder and grinned reassuringly.
"I'm sure. Just go spend some time with your mother." Xena followed her mother inside as Gabrielle trudged her way through the snow to the stables. She glanced to her right at a small mound of snow. Occasionally she'd see a child's face poke from behind it. Twenty minutes later after she had brushed, watered and fed, and made sure Argo was perfectly comfortable in her stall before leaving the stables.
She didn't see it whirring at her until it was too late. "You little-" She wiped the melting snow from her eyes, but was cut off by another pelting her on the back. She all of the sudden found she was in an ambush. She was completely surrounded by at least ten little children. Her last chance was to dash by the short giggling redheaded little boy into the inn. He pegged her with a snowball. She took the chance and reached the inn and slammed the door just in time.
Xena looked inquisitively at her snowball soaked friend. "Aren't you a little old to be playing in the snow Gabrielle?"
The blond glared at the warrior who grinned in return. "Not funny Xena! You try going out there! There must have been a couple dozen of them! They attack from all sides like a pack of ravenous wolves attacking their innocent and unsuspecting prey!"
"A pack of ravenous wolves attacking their innocent and unsuspecting prey? Does everything have to sound so bardic with you?" She smiled again, but stopped when the bard sent her a piercing glare with her serious green eyes. "Gabrielle, they're children."
"Yeah, but they are *children* with *snowballs*. You go out there." The warrior stood shaking her head. She wove her way among the tables and chairs. Yanking open the door, Gabrielle made a sweeping motion with her hand, as if offering the door to royalty. The second Xena was out the door, she slammed the door.
Xena reentered the tavern. Her face was covered in defeat, a hint of anger, and a whole lot of melting snow. "This is war!" she licked the dripping water from her lips. Gabrielle giggled uncontrollably, seeing the beginning of their newest adventure gradually unfold. She couldn't help it. It was one of the most amusing sights she had ever seen.
She could not help but tease the warrior. "The mighty warrior princess, defeated by- by," she burst out laughing once again, but continued when she regained her composure. "by several knife wielding children!" She ducked as Xena playfully flicked a finger full of slush in her direction.
"We need to capture their objective fort. If you did notice the little mound in the northwest corner? That's their snow fort." Xena explained the strategy to the bard. "The inn is on the opposite corner. We need to make a small fort. Now, the children will have to go in for midday meal. That will give us twenty minutes at most; they'll be saving up for the Solstice town feast. Okay, let's move."
Xena stealthily crawled through the snow to the ice fortress they had quickly rigged up. "They're coming." she whispered. Which was exactly correct. For at that moment a dozen riled up rowdy children came dashing from the houses. "Aiyiyiyiyiyiyiyi!" Xena let out one of her patented war cries and tossed the first snowball.
Gabrielle followed in suit with her own war whoop. Snowballs flew in all directions. Making the square look like a blizzard. Gabrielle jumped into the fray of the fight. Her skill with a snowball equalled to that with her staff. She could pitch one snowball while molding snow into another. Xena was having just as much fun.
"I-I haven't had this much fun in a long time!" The young bard laughed, her back pressed against the snow fort. And so the great snowball war continued for hours on end. Xena and Gabrielle strayed to far from the fort and the children quickly overtook it. An ecstatic child waved his cap in the air triumphantly. It was the same redhead that had pegged her with snowball.
The town bell rang ceremoniously to signal the town's Solstice feast. Gabrielle grinned at her best friend. "That was nice, letting them win." Xena put an arm around Gabrielle, and Gabrielle put her arm around Xena.
"I did not let them win. They beat us fair and square." She grinned in spite of herself, but she knew the truth. She admitted to herself that she had honestly let them win.
"Yeah right." she followed her friend into the town hall. The long wooden benches were filled with people; the long wooden benches were filled with platers of food. The two took a seat to each other on the hard benches. Xena passed a basket of rolls to Gabrielle. She took one and passed it to the little boy across from her. He grinned widely and shook a red tuft of hair from his eyes.
"Happy Solstice." he replied, still grinning.
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