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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
by Crys



Kharis could no longer feel her arms as she swung lower down through the branches of a young tree. Her body screamed for rest, begging with millions of tiny daggers that burned across her over-exerted muscles and hot skin. Forcing the pain, that had been building for over a candlemark, into the back of her mind had been become harder and harder for the ebony haired girl as she pushed herself to continue on.

Only stopping for water and some berries, she was able to traverse the mountain's top in a shorter amount of time then she had thought possible. Finally over the other side, the girl could hear the sounds of the army echoing in the large valley below.

Night had fallen and with it the natural sounds of the living forest that now resided in slumber. Staying up in the trees, Kharis discovered a nesting of soft branches and leaves that had intertwined through each other as they strove to reach the sun's motherly rays. Collapsing on the natural bed, the girl's heart pounded in her head as her oxygen starved brain tried to recover from the exertion of the constant travel.

Only one thought had kept her moving despite the pain and self-doubt as to if she could continue on. Vengeance. Vengeance on the man that violated her body. 'His life is mine' repeated over and over in the girl's mind as her mantra enabled weakened arms and legs to persevere despite the odds.

A soft murmur below the bed of leaves woke Kharis from unconsciousness into the morning's light. Straining to discern what the sound was brought on new pounding in the girl's head as she struggled to remain conscious. Stifling a sob that threatened to burst out, Kharis concentrated on her breathing. The irregular breaths came in short, silent gasps as the girl slowly relaxed her body and mind and focussed on the source of the pain. Finding it, she used what available strength was left and thrust the pain into a small box deep within her mind.

Relief quickly spread throughout her body as the world slipped back into focus. Muscles, exhausted beyond belief, were slowly recuperating; ears, now silent from the throbbing, started to pick up fine details of her surroundings; while eyes, free from the sharp white light, adjusted to the morning's glaze and were now able to discern the minute veins on the leaves of her bed. Smiling to herself, Kharis said a silent prayer to Ares for giving her the ability to recover quickly.

The soft murmur that had awoken her grew louder and louder as one of Caesar's patrols fanned out within the forest, heading her way. The men were in prime fighting condition and were highly tuned to any irregular sounds that might emit from the forest surrounding the army's temporary camp.

Staying as still as possible, Kharis lay in the tree and waited for the men to pass underneath. Confident that she was protected from observance by the dense overgrowth, Kharis strained to pick up what was being said below. Snatches of idle gossip and complaints filtered into her mind and were ignored until the information she was waiting for reached her ears.

"Caesar must be crazy to stay this close to Amazon land," one of the voices said.

"What's the matter Persius? Afraid of some women?" another scoffed.

"You've never seen them in battle, Melinon. They are savage in battle and are worthy opponents in war."

Melinon snorted, "They are woman. What you hear about them is nothing but exaggerated tales told by some bards who have never seen an Amazon let alone met one."

"I tell you, you don't want to mess with them," Persius warned gravely. "We'll be lucky to survive this foray tonight."

"You worry about your own back and I'll worry about the patrol," Melinon said gruffly. "Caesar is sleeping like a babe right now because he is not worried about a bunch of woman attacking an army of men 400 strong. So if he's not worried then I'm not worried."

"He's not out here with us though."

"Thank Zeus for that. He wouldn't last a candlemark with us!" Melinon laughed as the troop continued on their way through the forest unaware of the danger that lurked above.

While waiting for the troops to be out of hearing distance Kharis allowed a small smile to come to her face as she silently stood up and stretched her stiff muscles. Pockets of mist slowly crawled across the valley shrouding the army and its tents in a delicate embrace as the golden sun rose in its majestic glory. It was a good day for death.

Climbing higher through the tree, Kharis was able to finally see the army's complete encampment. Situated in the valley with only two openings to defend it was perfectly placed. A small stream meandered through the middle of the camp providing much needed clean water for drinking and bathing. Temporary battlements had been constructed around the camp fortifying it from any unexpected attacks. In the centre was the commander's tent, Caesar's home away from home. Mammoth in size, the arrogance clearly cried out even from that distance. Grinning wickedly Kharis carefully planned her approach into the camp, eyeing gaps in the defence.

A few options quickly sprung to her mind as she watched the changing of the guard, noting the sun's position. Walking directly up to one of the patrols asking for help was the easiest, yet deadliest if she was recognised at all. Sneaking into camp was more plausible as the girl discarded many options until one finally fit perfectly in her revenge filled mind.

Resigned to the fact that she would have to wait till dark, Kharis moved silently through the light forest to find a temporary look-out that would enable her to watch the sentry changes yet be hidden from said sentries. A grumble in her belly screamed in Kharis' ears as she covered the betraying belly with her hand. Hunger had been something that she had pushed from her mind as her body continually demanded sustenance. Realising that she would soon need every ounce of strength she possessed, Kharis stopped and eyed the ground below her for bushes of berries. Finding a few likely candidates, the girl carefully climbed out of the tree and lightly jumped down beside one of the more prosperous bushes.

Keeping all of her senses on alert, Kharis greedily shoved berries into her mouth as she broke fast. Two bushes later, with a stomach now satisfied, Kharis found a small hollow in the ground where a tree had been uprooted during a violent storm the previous summer. Undergrowth covered the majority of the small cavity and made a perfect hiding spot for the girl. Sighing from the lethargy that had now set in, the girl snuggled into the hole and covered her approach with the loose fauna that surrounded the opening. Satisfied that she was safe for now, Kharis allowed her mind and body to relax as she slipped into Morpheus' grasp.

If the sentries had looked up even once they would have noticed the three woman clinging to branches high above, but not being aware of Amazons and their techniques the patrol moved on ignorant of Xena and her companions' presence. A signal passed between the woman as they moved on quietly though the trees, closer to the army's encampment. Stopping as close as possible without being seen, Xena quickly searched the temporary base for any sign of Kharis. Not finding any, the tall warrior motioned for Solari to move within whispering distance.

"Sol, can you see any signs that she's already there?"

Scanning intently, the Amazon shook her head, "No. We should be seeing signs of her passage through this area soon. The trees aren't clustered as thickly as the others were so it should be easier to pick up her track again."

"Good. That's what I thought," Xena said as she felt a small amount of relief flood through her. Watching the camp and its occupants, the ex-warlord felt a sharp pang of pain as she remembered the old days of leading her army. The camp was set up well and was running like clockwork to her trained eye. A small amount of respective for Caesar's efficient army registered in her brain as she instinctively considered ways to demobilise the army and its defences.

Ephiny swung down by the warrior and fellow Amazon regarding the army, "Professional, aren't they?"

Xena nodded as she searched for Caesar amongst the throng of men below. Despite herself she desired to see him again. If not for anything then to rub in his face that despite his best attempts, she was still alive and kicking. Not finding him, the warrior started to search the surrounding trees for any sign that Kharis had passed through this way. A small broken twig caught her eye a few trees to the left.

"Sol," Xena whispered as she pointed to the broken twig. "I think I just found the bone you need to track with."

Viewing the twig, Sol grinned as she moved to the tree starting to trace the path that Kharis had taken. Moving lightly through the trees Solari carefully followed the girl's trail followed by the silent warrior and the blonde Regent. Pausing at the nest of branches that Kharis had used for a temporary bed the Amazon tracker continued on, certain that her prey was within reach. Reaching the end of Kharis' tree top path, Solari leaped down and continued to run until she came to a dead stop.

"What is it?" Ephiny asked as she searched for any trace of Kharis.

Parting some undergrowth from a small hollow formed from exposed roots, Solari smiled as she revealed the slumbering form of the dark haired child. Xena stepped forward and viewed her sister, fast asleep. Anger quickly filled her mind as she controlled the urge to snatch the girl out of her hiding spot and trash her within an inch of her life for running off.

Kneeling down, the warrior shook the resting child until golden eyes snapped open and focussed on orbs of azure within a foot of the girl's face.

"Nooo," the girl moaned as she realised that her quest to kill Caesar was now effectively halted.

Xena pulled slightly on Kharis' arm, coaxing her out of the root's cavity until the dark girl was free. Wrapping Kharis in a fierce hug Xena stroked midnight hair as the girl broke down and wept. "Shhh, Kharis. Don't cry. You were foolish to go off on your own. You should have waited for me."

"I'm...I' sorry," Kharis sobbed between words. "I had to try. He...he....hurt me. He killed He has to pay for that."

"He will," Xena soothed. "I promise he will. But you would never have succeeded. You need time to heal and learn before you can go after him."

"No. I have to do this now. I might never get the chance again," Kharis lamented.

Xena sighed as she tried to get through the anger and reason with her sister, "Please Kharis, trust me, he will pay. Some how, some way. But you can't be the one to do it yet. If you try you'll end up dead."

Stifling a sob the girl pulled away slightly as she looked up into clear blue eyes, "I don't think I can go on knowing that he's walking and breathing while my village is gone."

"Yes, you will." Xena said confidently. "Because I will be there for you. Along with Gabrielle and the Amazons. We'll all be there for you to help you become strong so that when the time is right, you can fulfil the promise you made to yourself on that cross."

Startled pools of honey fixed on the warrior's face as Xena smiled sweetly, "Yes, I know. I swore the same oath when Caesar placed me on a cross to die."

"Then why haven't you gone after him? Why is he still alive?" Kharis said as her crying subsided.

"Because I realised that revenge and death suffer a heavy price. A price that eats away at your soul until there is nothing remaining but emptiness. It isn't a price that I want to pay anymore and you shouldn't either."

"I can't let it go. I won't," the girl swore.

Wiping away a stray tear Xena understood the girl's convictions, "I know. But for now you need to heal so that when you do confront him, you are absolutely sure that his death is what you truly want. Understand?"

Kharis nodded slightly as she composed her raging emotions and stepped away from the warrior. Turning to acknowledge the two Amazon woman standing close by, the girl swallowed the lump that was still in her throat and apologised to the two woman, "I'm sorry for all the trouble I caused. I shouldn't have done what I did."

Ephiny regarded the tear stained face before her. Deciding that now was the time to bond the girl to the Amazons Ephiny began to intone the pledges of an Amazon, "If you wish to live with us you must adhere to the rules of the Amazon tribe."

"I will," Kharis said simply, understanding that her life with the Amazons was officially beginning.

"You must promise never to leave the sanctuary of the village unless you are thus ordered so. Do you so promise?"

"I do."

"Until the time your bond is released you will obey Xena and the Amazons with no falseness or deceit. Do you so agree?"

"I agree."

Advancing on the girl, Ephiny gazed intently into the golden eyes, "Do you pledge to uphold Artemis' teachings with pureness of heart and steadfast will?"

"I do so pledge," Kharis replied as her forearm was grasped in the warrior's handshake.

Ephiny smiled as she shook the girl's arm, "Welcome to your new tribe, Kharis. May Artemis praise you with happiness, health, and prosperity."

Dark eyebrows rose under raven hair as Xena pondered the last promise Kharis had made. How would Ares react to having his daughter committing to Artemis? Tiny hairs stood up suddenly on the back of Xena's neck as she waited to find out the answer.

Materialising in front of the group, Ares stood glaring at the Amazon Regent as Xena stepped in his direct line of path shielding Ephiny from his murderous gaze.

"Go away Ares," the warrior said menacingly.

"No Xena. I didn't agree to this. I only agreed to your babbling blonde's suggestion that the Amazons would tutor Kharis. Not try to convert her into one of them."

"Ares, she is going to learn. But she has to be able to make her own choice on who she follows."

"Not if I have a say in it," the God of War said as he tried to step around his favoured Chosen, never removing contact with the proud Regent's eyes.

Grabbing an arm, Xena allowed a small portion of her darkness to come to the surface as the wolf was slightly released. "Don't make me embarrass you in front of Artemis' children," the warrior drawled savagely.

Smiling, Ares reached up with the held arm and stroked Xena's chiselled cheek, "Ah Xena. If only you would truly embrace the darkness that you use so effectively."

"You and I both know I'll never do that again. So why don't you by a good little boy and leave Kharis to me," Xena said as she brushed his hand away.

"Fine. Just make sure she learns what she needs to learn before I claim her," the god said as he disappeared in the blinding blue light.

"And what was that about?" Solari grunted, slightly shaken yet impressed with Xena's bravado when dealing with the God of War.

"She is destined to be Ares' new Chosen," the warrior said as her fierce eyes blazed, "But we won't let that happen. Will we?"

Ephiny swallowed as the sudden thought of exactly whom she had just welcomed into the tribe hit her; "You never told me she was to be his Chosen, Xena."

"Would it have mattered?" Xena asked.

"Yes, it would have. But for now I agree with you. She should be able to make her own choice on which God to follow. If the Amazons have any say in the matter, then she will be Artemis'."

"What if I choose neither?" Kharis asked unexpectedly.

Solari released a small chuckle that helped break the tension cursing through the tracker's body, "For some reason that wouldn't surprise me if you did that."

Laughing along with the Amazon, Kharis smiled as she caught Xena's eye, "Then I guess the Gods are going to have to prove to me that they deserve by servitude." Arrogance shone brightly in the flaxen eyes as Xena laughed along with the girl.

"Well, who ever you pick little one," Solari said in all earnest. "You will be welcomed as one of their children. That I am sure. Despite being Ares' new Chosen"

"Well that will be for another day," Xena remarked as she scanned the surrounding area. "Right now we should find a spot to camp, far away from Caesar's army. Eph?"

Ephiny regarded both the warrior and her sister, a subtle thought beginning to nibble in her psyche as Solari's words rang in her head. 'One of their children. Ares' new Chosen. One of Ares' children.' A sudden bolt of understanding hit the blonde Regent with such force that she staggered at the weight of the secret which stood before her. Kharis was Ares' child. Which meant that Xena was also... Unable to accept it Ephiny walked away from the women and girl as she struggled to control herself.

Calloused hands gripped Ephiny's shoulders as she was turned around to face a worried warrior. Cold blue eyes searched the blonde Amazon's soul and focussed on the knowledge that now lay exposed for the world to see. Xena frowned slightly as she released Ephiny's shoulders.

"Ephiny, what's wrong?" Solari asked concerned at her friend's sudden behaviour.

"Nothing Sol. Just a bit spooked from Ares' visit is all," Ephiny said as she tried to tear her eyes away from the warrior's. Profound sadness filled Xena's eyes as she swiftly dropped her warrior's mask over her features, but not before the Regent caught anger and death blazing in controlled glory. Ephiny briefly understood what it meant to be the tall warrior and silent thanked Artemis for being an Amazon.

"If we are to make camp we should head out," Ephiny spoke as Xena broke eye contact, nodding for the Amazon to lead the way. Leaping up to grab a branch, Ephiny began to move through the trees, hand over hand, until she was able to pull herself up onto a sturdier branch. Solari followed suite as Ares' daughters stood regarding each other for a few moments.

Xena bent down a bit and exposed her back, "Grab on. You're still too weak to travel."

Knowing that Xena was right Kharis climbed onto the woman's back, nestling herself beside the warrior's scabbard. Feeling powerful muscles tense the girl held on for dear life as her world was suddenly turned upside-down when Xena leapt into a flip, landing on a branch ten feet above. Vertigo quickly replaced Kharis' dizziness as Xena ran over the limbs high above the ground. A strong hand adjusted the girl's position and then was gone as precise arms and legs of the warrior moved with efficient grace through the trees.

Kharis closed her eyes and allowed her body to pick up the nuances of her sister's muscles. 'Maybe some day I'll be just like her' the girl thought as Xena grabbed tightly onto Kharis and somersaulted higher up. 'Or maybe not.'

Camp was a cold affair as the three woman and girl sat on the ground eating their trail rations. A fire was too risky so close to the army and its patrols so a makeshift shelter was erected to protect their bodies from the elements, along with camouflaging their presence. Despite herself, Kharis was famished and finished her meal faster then the rest, looking for more. Xena noticed the furtive glances at her food and smiled as Gabrielle's face swam into her vision with the exact same look the girl was giving the warrior. Handing over the rest of her meal, Xena smiled as the girl willing took it and began to finish it off.

"Gods girl, didn't you eat?" Solari said between mouthfuls.

"Just enough to get by," the girl replied as she finished the last morsel of food.

"It's a wonder you made it at all," the tracker snorted as she also finished her meal. Despite herself, Solari was really liking this contradiction of a child. Most fully conditioned Amazons wouldn't have been able to go as long and as far as the child did with no rations.

Sneaking a closer examination of the girl Solari noticed that Kharis was a lot like Xena in too many ways to believe. Both were bronzed with well-defined bodies, though Kharis' was much smaller and slighter in nature, yet still powerful looking. Bone straight ebony hair shone even in the dark on top of hard chiselled faces that betrayed no emotion unless they wanted to exhibit them. The eyes were the only distinct difference between the two, beyond just the difference in age. One had fierce blue eyes that denied anyone entrance inside while the other had brilliant golden eyes which mesmerised any who sunk into their depths.

Realising that those same gold orbs were now intently studying her, Solari shifted nervously and returned her gaze straight ahead, fearful that she had been discovered staring. Kharis smiled wickedly as she felt the shift in power play into her soul. One look and she could force someone as sturdy as Solari to glance away out of fear. 'Interesting'

"Play nice. They're still not sure how to take you," Xena whispered in Kharis' ear after witnessing the exchange. "They still don't know how to take me and they at least know me. So be good." Wide-open eyes focussed on Xena innocently as the small evil grin still sat on the girl's face. Chuckling, Xena grabbed the girl's head as she rubbed the top of it affectionately.

"Sooo," Ephiny said all of a sudden. "How did you expect to get to Caesar?"

Kharis pushed herself out of Xena's grasp and sat up straight as she addressed Ephiny. "I was going to float down the middle of the river at night. It's much too shallow for anyone like you to move through it unseen but I'm small enough that I could be fully submerged. Figured that once I was inside the camp, moving around it would have been no trouble," she said smugly, confidant in her abilities.

"Oh really?" Solari taunted as she jumped at the bait the girl held. "And why is that?"

Xena laughed as Kharis suddenly stood up to demonstrate her new-found ability. Trying to stifle her laugh the warrior looked at both confused Amazons and shook her head, "Don't ask me. You'll have to see for yourself."

Both Amazons watched the girl walk out of the shelter and stand by its opening, slightly closer to the undergrowth that delicately tickled the back of the girl's knees. Stepping back once the girl allowed the warm embrace of foliage to slip away as she relaxed and concentrated on the two woman. Holding both of them in one hypnotising gaze the girl forced her will on their beings as she suddenly disappeared before their eyes.

"Holy Artemis!" Solari gasped as the girl was no longer there. Unable to discern if the child even moved or not Solari searched around the opening of the shelter for any sign of Kharis.

Ephiny just sat shocked, aware that this was how the girl had escaped a royal guard's notice and slip away into the trees. Grimacing, the Regent suddenly realised that taking this girl into the Amazon tribe was a definitely now a kettle of worms.

Before either woman could get up and find the girl, Kharis suddenly reappeared right where she had been before, beaming at her sister for fooling two fully trained Amazons.

"Like I said," the warrior princess drawled. "You had to see for yourself."

Ephiny glared at Xena as she demanded an explanation, "How?"

Ice blue eyes pierced Ephiny's as Xena's smile quickly left her face into a blank mask, "You wouldn't understand how. Very few people can master the control that it takes to accomplish it."

"Very few people or only Ares' chill..." Ephiny stopped her sentence as she almost expressed the secret that was not her's to voice out loud.

"This has nothing to do with Ares," Xena's cold voice hissed. "My teacher, Lao Ma, taught me that and I in turn taught Kharis."

Flinching back from the rage that was directed at her, Ephiny tried to speak but could only cough as her mouth went suddenly dry. Solari handed her friend one of the water flasks as Xena suppressed the building darkness within her. Both Amazons had experienced the sudden change to darkness from the warrior on more then one occasion yet were still unprepared for it when it happened.

"Sorry," Xena mumbled as she regained control.

"I should be the one to apologise," Ephiny countered. "I spoke without thinking. I was just..."

"Surprised?" Kharis asked as she sat herself down in front of the Regent.

"Yes," Ephiny nodded. "So that's how you did it?"

"It can come in handy," the girl smiled.

Solari turned to Xena slightly confused, "Why have you never done that?"

"I have but not when Gabrielle is around," the warrior replied matter-of-factly.

"I don't understand," Ephiny said as she leaned back against a rock.

"If it was just me I would do it more often then not when it came to fighting but with Gabrielle I can't. I have to be there for her."

"Then teach her too," Solari stated as if that was the answer to any other questions.

Kharis bellowed as Xena shot the girl a nasty look, "She can't keep quiet long enough to do it. Besides, her light shines to brightly to be forgotten easily."

"Is that true?" Ephiny asked intrigued.

Xena nodded, "Yes. You have to be able to empty your mind and soul of everything. Only through darkness can you achieve that. Thank the Gods Gabrielle doesn't have that in her, so she can't."

"And that's why you and Kharis can," Ephiny stated, finally understanding more then a few things about the warrior and her sister.

Xena nodded again as she rose, "I'm gonna go and check the perimeter and take first watch. You guys get some rest. I'll come and get you first Solari."

Solari nodded as she and Ephiny prepared to go to sleep. Kharis sat in silence as she struggled with herself to either go to Xena, and help with the watch, or stay and try to get some sleep.

Noticing the girl's turmoil and guessing what it was Ephiny reached over and squeezed the girl's hand, "Go. You can do first watch with Xena while Sol and I rest."

Grinning wildly Kharis stood up and rushed out leaving the two Amazons alone with their own thoughts.

"Interesting child doncha think?" Solari mumbled from her furs.

"Definitely," Ephiny answered

"Are we doing the right thing?"

"I don't know, Sol. I hope so."


Ephiny sighed, "But are we sure we should be doing this? One them was bad enough but now there's two of them. Can the Amazons adjust to that on a day to day basis?"

Solari poked her head out of her furs as she read her friend's worried expression, "She's just a child."

"I know that Sol. And that's what scares me. She's already more Xena then even Xena is herself. And she IS just a child. What happens later on when she is a woman, fully trained?"

"By the time that happens she will be fully Amazonian."

"No, she'll never be one of us, despite what Xena hopes."

"You mean Xena wants her to be one of us? I thought..."

"No, I think Xena wants to foil Ares' plan and she figures this is the only way to accommodate his demands yet throw a wrench in them at the same time."

It was Solari's turn to be worried, "What do you think his plans are?"

Ephiny pondered the question over in her mind. Should she tell her best friend what she knows or what she thinks? Deciding that the secret was Xena's or Kharis' to reveal Ephiny stuck to what she thought.

"I'm not sure but I think he wants his warrior princess back. If he can't have Xena then he'll have Kharis instead. One way or another. He's already declared her his Chosen and she knows it too."

Solari nodded gravely before a small smile quickly played across her face, "But I don't think she's gonna take him up on his offer."

"What makes you think that?" the blonde Regent asked seriously.

"Cause, if she's anything like Xena then she'll have nothing but disdain for the Gods. Which means she'll throw that Chosen business back in his face."

Ephiny finally smiled at the thought of Ares' reaction to Kharis' denial of her calling. 'It would truly be the Fates' irony if she did.' Laughing now Ephiny gave her friend a quick embrace before turning over into her furs.

"G'night Sol."

"Night, Eph."

Finishing up her rounds of the camp's perimeter Xena returned to the camp and found Kharis sitting on one of the larger rocks with fist under chin.

"What are you doing out here? You should be asleep." the warrior remarked as she approached the girl.

"I'm not tired and Ephiny said I could help you with the watch," the girl replied as she continued to stare into space. "Personally I think it's because she's afraid that I'll just disappear again and you're the only one who would see me go."

Xena laughed softly at the girl's acute perception. Ephiny was right to have the child with Xena as much as possible. Finding a dry spot of grass close to Kharis' rock the bronzed warrior sat down and began to sharpen her sword. The sound of stone against steel echoed loudly in the dark as Kharis watched Xena's rhythmic motions.

"You're mad aren't you?" Kharis asked softly.

"Yes, I am." Xena replied.

"I'm sorry."

"No, you aren't. You're only sorry that we found you."

Kharis mulled the statement over and found that her sister was correct. She was sorry they found her but guilt weighed heavily within her and only absolution from Xena would lift that weight.

"Yeah, I guess you're right. I couldn't help myself."

Xena stopped her sharpening mid action and looked up at the girl suddenly, "You can always help yourself. Every decision you make is within your control. There is always more then one choice. You chose badly." Lowering her gaze, Xena went back to her sword and stone as Kharis sat silently.

"You would have done the same thing," the girl whispered dejectedly.

"Maybe, maybe not," Xena replied as she remembered how it felt to be on the cross, hatred raging through her body for the one man that betrayed her in soul and mind. Revenge and a lust for death coursed through her veins because of him, which set her on the path as the Destroyer of Nations. If she had never crossed his path how would she have turned out? Would she still have led a trail of blood across two continents?

Not bothering to answer those moot questions Xena thought about Kharis and her desire for revenge. It was just as great as Xena's had been but for different reasons. The betrayal ran from the girl's loss of family and innocence. 'No, I would have still gone after him. Unlike her, I would have succeeded.' Xena sadly thought.

Gathering her strength to ask the one question that she hadn't asked of the girl yet Xena finished sharpening her sword. Sheathing it behind her and placing the whetstone down beside her the warrior lay her hands on folded legs as she took a deep breath.

"Kharis? Was it Caesar who took your innocence?" Xena asked softly waiting for the affirmation.

"Yes," Kharis whispered, as her face grew cold with hatred. " did you know?"

"When I cleaned you up after taking you off the cross. You had wounds that weren't caused by fist or sword."

"So you know why I had to go after him."

"Yes, but I still think it was stupid," Xena replied softly as she played with a blade of grass. "You should have waited for me."

"So you could talk me out of it, right?"

"No. So I could help you." Xena stated simply as Kharis' head whipped around to determine if the warrior was telling the truth or not. Blazing cobalt eyes spoke volumes to the girl as she sucked in a sharp breath.

"Then let's go!" Standing up Kharis started towards the trees when a strong calloused hand stopped her dead in her tracks.

"No, the time has passed for that now," Xena said as she led her confused sister back to the rock and patch of grass. Sitting down cross-legged, Xena gestured for the girl to follow suite and sit directly in front of the warrior. Complying, Kharis sat down uncertainly.

"You have to understand something, Kharis. Killing in the heat of battle is one thing. It's self-defence. Killing for revenge is murder and I can't do that unless there is a very good reason for it. Specially now that I have Gabrielle by my side."

"But Gabrielle isn't here now," Kharis began to reason as Xena laid a hand over the girl's mouth.

"Let me finish, okay? No, Gabrielle isn't here but her Amazons are. If you and I were to go out tonight and murder Caesar they would surely know of it, which means Gabrielle would find out. That would break her heart and faith in me."

"Does that matter so much to you?"

"Yeah, it does. She is my light, the best thing to happen to me. If it wasn't for her I would have fallen back to Ares a long time ago. If it wasn't for her I would still be despised and feared as the Destroyer of Nations instead of accepted for who I am now, as just Xena."

Kharis understood what her sister was trying to relate to her but couldn't let go of her hatred and desire for blood, "I know what you're trying to say but I'm not you. I need this to move on."

Xena sighed as she took the girl's hands into her own, engulfing them as she tried a different approach; "You have a right to exact the blood debt. It is within your reach. But do you want to reach for darkness or light? Because once you kill him there is no going back. You will have embraced the darkness that is within you as it is within me. You will be one step closer to being Ares' Chosen. Is that what you want?"

"That's not a fair question. You know I don't want to have anything to do with him."

"Khar, it is a fair question because it is what you are destined to be. I'm afraid killing Caesar is the first step towards that."

Kharis thought about that as she looked down at the battle-scarred hands holding her own. A harsh life full of anguish and pain could be read on each tiny line that criss-crossed across the top of them. 'Can I let go of my hate and move on? Can I just let him live unpunished and be able to live with myself?' Shaking her head at her own thoughts Kharis shook slightly as a chill moved up her spine.

Sensing what the girl was thinking Xena squeezed her hands slightly, "He will pay with his life, along with Callisto. That I promise you."

Relief suddenly flowed through Kharis' body as she accepted the promise and started on the long road to healing. The girl hadn't really thought of the woman since hearing of Caesar's presence so close to Amazon territory. Another blood debt that was owed and was promised to be fulfilled, some day.

"So where do we go from here?" Kharis asked suddenly as the knots in her shoulders relaxed significantly.

"We take you back to the Amazon village and start you on your training. But for now..." Xena reached over and unsheathed the breast dagger tied to Kharis' thigh, startling the girl. Flipping one of Kharis' hands over, palm up, the warrior placed the edge of the knife across the skin slicing it open.

A strong burning sensation registered in Kharis' mind as the warrior sliced her own palm open in the same fashion. Clasping both hands together and allowing their common blood to intermingle Xena smiled.

"There. Now we are bonded by blood, as sisters should be. Where you go, so will I. When you are in pain, so shall I be. We are like one and will be so forever."

A lone single tear fell from Kharis' face as Xena willingly bonded her soul to her sister's. Feelings of love, safety, and light flowed throughout the girl's soul. As they threatened to overcome her so did the other feelings of anger, hatred, and darkness that coexisted in both woman and child. Then suddenly they were gone, buried away deeply.

Gasping at the strength of the sensations Kharis grasped that she was not just bonded to one person but now two. Sensing a presence far away Kharis' eyes opened wide as she struggled to speak.

Xena smirked knowingly as Kharis slowly started to feel the warrior's soulmate. Nodding at the girl's astonishment Xena let her hand go as the warrior proceeded to clean the knife on the grass and hand it back to the girl.

"Yes, I am bonded to Gabrielle and now you are too, indirectly. She has more then enough light for the both of us."

Kharis smiled as she shook her head, "No you will provide the light that will save me."

Xena snorted as she looked into the girl's serious face, "I don't have much of any light within me. What you sense is from Gabrielle only. But I accepted that when she accepted me for what I am."

Xena stood up and retrieved her whetstone as Kharis continued to shake her head. 'If only you knew my sister, you wouldn't say that.' Fractured memories stirred within the girl's head as words threatened to burst from her mouth.

And from the One shall come forth the Light....from which true darkness reigns so will reign the Light that neither men nor gods shall be kept asunder.

Kharis sighed as she unkowningly withheld that which would set Xena on a new path in her life. Now was not the time. 'It will happen because I spoke it' the girl suddenly thought as she scrutinised the mark on her palm. Blood, now congealed, formed a small line that ran across both the lifeline and heart-line, both tingling in joy. 'Forever bound'

"Come on," Xena said as she held out her hand to help the girl up. "It's time for Solari's watch. Let's get some rest."

Grasping the forearm, Kharis pulled herself up and quickly embraced the warrior. Lightly stroking sable hair, Xena smiled as she felt the new bond begin to deepen and strengthen as the minutes went by. Feeling the girl's release, Xena put an arm around Kharis' shoulder as she led her towards their sleeping roll, content that the girl wouldn't run away tonight or any other night from now on.



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