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Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, 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. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. 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.
NOTE: All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
This story depicts a love/sexual 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.
This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.
Any polite comments you would like the author to read send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Short and to the point would be nice. Venting at the author is not advisable since the Muses protect their own. 8-)
By J. A. Bard
ROAD SHOW III
All's Well, If It Can End Well
Clorinda's group left first, as they were eager to once again approach Lapurities where they wished to make the center of Adris. Though they had left Lapurities to Labducus' mercenaries Clorinda was sure it could be returned easily to her people as Labducus would no longer be interested. He had problems in his own city and would be calling for as much help as he could.
The women checked on their horses and reloaded the cart with the trunk that Erica and Lily had ridden out to retrieve from where the four women had hid it. The sky was clear when the group left the cave and started on their last three days journey to Paeonia.
However, the second morning brought cold rain and their last day was just as dreary, cold and wet. No one was in a good mood when they approached the faded wooden doors that stretched between the tall gray towers, blocking the entrance to what the chiseled stone announced as the Temple of Mecsa.
Agnes looked up into the falling gray rain to see if anyone was peering over the crenelation. It looked and felt deserted. She shifted uncomfortably in her saddle as she could feel the group's collective tension. Here was the end of their journey and there was...nothing.
Xena had a noncommittal expression on her face as she studied the crenelations on each pillar that the scarred weathered gate hung between. She could sense no presence or movement, not even a breeze. The rain was falling straight down. There were no loopholes in the pillars. Xena dismounted and studied the mountainside that the two pillars had been carved out of. It didnt appear to be eroding, plenty of winter shrubs holding the earth together and a healthy growth of trees that ran up the sides of the mountain on either side of the two pillars. Even in the rain she knew scaling the sides of the mountain would not get them past the gate. The pillars were part of the mountain and the gate was flush to whatever it was covering. Either with time the mountain sealed itself, or it was originally designed that way.
Impatiently Lily had pulled her horse to the front of the gate and with the hilt of her short sword pounded on the wet wood. The sound surprised them all for it was a loud boom, as if she had been beat on a drum.
"Lily." Erica whispered under her breath. She of course was grateful Lily was hurrying this along but maybe it wasnt such a good idea to have knocked so hard.
"Goddess." Lily laughed a little abash. "If I had known it was going to sound so loud, I would have tapped."
"No one will answer." An old quavering voice told them.
Xena turned to the voice that was squatting under the cover of one of the trees, wet with an equally looking wet dog. Aleka walked closer to the form. The figure was so old Aleka couldnt tell the gender of their informant, much less hear it in the ancient voice. Looking closer she noted the sled the figure was huddled on. It appeared their adviser had no legs.
"Old One," Xena nodded in respect. "how do we enter to pay homage to the goddess?"
The old voice cackled with glee which was stopped short with a bought of coughing. The old clawed hand waved Iaia and Agnes concerned movements to go to his or her assistance away.
"I have a small shelter up the road. Cant fit all aya," the voice chuckled, "but Im sure ya know how to build some cover of your own."
"How do ya know we intend to stay?" Erica asked.
"Hmmmp. I can tell ya traveled a long way..." the old one took a breath, "and ya dont look the type to just turn away at a closed door."
"All right. Well accept your hospitality and share what provisions we have." Xena told the nodding ancient head.
Iaia was thinking that this was certainly not the goddess. Her memory of the old women was not so dim that she couldnt tell the difference in meeting a divine person in disguise and meeting a lost soul in no disguise at all.
"What is your name, Old One?" Xena asked courteously.
"Ha. Hmmm. Its been so long that I have been asked to give my name...lets see...you can call me Cybele."
"Not the same Cybele from Phrygia?" Iaia asked concerned. This just cant be the legendary Queen of Phrygia who disappeared and no one knew if she was alive or dead.
"Ha. You know of the stories? Hmmm. No. Perhaps you should call me then...Agdistis. Have you heard of her?"
Iaia shook her head. "Noooo. I dont think so. Who is she?"
The old woman was pulled on her sled by the dog that patiently plodded in the rain dragging her mistress behind. The water dripped off the long matted and shaggy coat. Its head was held down and the water ran down its nose onto the muddied road they were now following. About a quarter of a candle mark the dog turned down a well worn path that led into the woods that surrounded the hill.
Agdistis was right when she said her place was small. The covering from the woods kept most of the rain out but the drops that fell were big and cold. Xena found what use to be a shelter for horses. She had the women start on the repair for their own use. It would also leave the old women with more shelter than what she had when they left. Her hut was in sad disrepair. One wall was near collapse and it seemed she only lived in one small room of what once was a three room cot. While Agnes and Grace prepared dinner, Xena and Erica inspected the wall and decided what they could do.
"It looks like it just needs a pole here in this putlog hole and a cross piece in this one here." Xena observed from the outside of the collapsed room.
"Yea. I wonder where the two cross pieces went? Its not like theyre easy to make off with."
Xena looked around. "Hmm. Fire maybe. Come on. The sooner we get them cut, the sooner we can get a shelter over our heads."
She studied the roof from her position and decided that some patching was in order as well and gave that core to Brona and Camila. They both had good hands for weaving.
The women took a brief break to take warm nourishment then resumed their work not wanting to spend anymore time out in the dampness than possible. Xena had given Gabrielle instructions to get as much information from their hostess as possible, while she moved around assisting the women as they struggled with repairs in the dim light. It was dark and they were working by torchlight. The shelter for the horses was completed first and the women from that project after securing the horses in the make shift pen went over to help the women fit the poles that were finally ready. The roof was patched with woven pine needles. All that was left was cleaning the debris from the two now usable rooms.
"Im for just sleeping on the junk, if some of it didnt smell so bad. Did some animal die in here or what?" Gari complained as she leaned up against the realigned wall tiredly.
"You can sleep in tomorrow morning." Xena told them, as if that was a consolation.
The old woman seemed to be getting more information out of Gabrielle than the other way around, but by experience, Xena knew Gabrielle was doing more than pumping the old woman for information...she was forming a friendship, as was her nature. She never knew Gabrielle to use anyone. It was her concern that if she wanted something from someone, that she should give something in return.
Xena caught the faded eyes of the old woman that glinted in the flickering lamp light. Gabrielle had found some lamps and oil and refilled the lamps and set them so that the small room was in a warm glow. The old woman had hoisted herself up onto a pallet that acted as her chair and bed. The room had been cleaned and rearranged, she noticed. There were some things that once were out of the old woman's reach, that now were more at her level.
"Gabrielle?" Xena's soft voice called to her.
Xena for a moment stopped. She had forgotten. She then shrugged her shoulders. To her the journey was at an end and she could feel less of a connection with Aleka then she had at the beginning of the journey. She delivered the circle of friends to the temple gates of Mecsa. For all intents and purposes, that was the end of her responsibility. The itch for the familiar leathers and armor and the feel of her sword was making her irritable. The discomfort of the weather she could ignore but not missing her familiar garb that identified her with who she was.
The last three days she had found herself spending more time with Argo. That morning she had almost mounted her instead of Itali, the reddish brown horse she had been riding this journey.
In the morning she was going to tell the others that she believed her connection with the group was completed and she wanted to move on. She wanted to be back to who she was and travel alone with Gabrielle. She was tired of company and tired of keeping up a civil face for the ceaseless questions she was asked. How on earth she had put up with it for so long she didnt even want to think about!
"All right. Everyone grab a place to bed down for the night. No need for anyone to stand watch." She nodded to Lily, "We need to reassess our goals, so everyone think about what you want to do from here. We'll listen to what Gabrielle has to say, the old woman and make our decisions. Alright?"
Agnes and the others nodded. They were becoming restless. It wasnt just from the weather. Exhausted from their work they all found a place that the torch light showed to be safe from unwanted bugs and settled down for deep sleep.
Gabrielle settled next to Xena and curled up with a hand resting on Xenas leg as she sat and looked into the darkness. When she could hear the others breathing deepen into sleep, she slid out from Gabrielles reach and quietly left the room. Pulling a still damp fur over her she stepped out into the small cleared space around the hut.
Listening to the night sounds she didnt detect the rain continuing, but drops would occasionally fall that would accumulate on the many branches that were forming a protective canopy over the old womans cot.
Xena stopped by the shelter for the horses and could see a light form detach itself from the others and slowly amble its way toward her.
Xena scratched behind the ears of her golden friend. "Hey girl. You sure deserve a lot of apples."
The mare agreed, bumping her head against her chest then taking a playful nip at her shoulder.
Xena chuckled and walked over to the cart that was left outside of the shelter since it had a protective tarp thrown over it. If the rain was serious they would have found a better place for it but a few drops the tarp could handle.
She pulled the tarp back to regard the contents. It was surprising that with the occasional passing cloud and the tree covering some moonlight actually was shinning through onto the cart. A glint of something caught her eye and she leaned forward, holding her breath as she pulled the familiar object toward her.
She pulled her sword from its sheath and for a moment she just held it up loving the moment of its feel. So, Lily brought it along, she sniggered to herself. She rummaged around and found her leathers and armor neatly folded in a sack. It was amazing how she hadnt noticed it until now, but then she didnt do much around the cart except help repair the wheel the few times one or the other broke.
"Hi. Cant sleep?"
Hades! Xena turned around slowly. The same moonlight that shinned through on the cart formed a glowing outline around Gabrielle.
Xena smiled sheepishly in the dark. "Something like that."
Gabrielle leaned against the cart and looked at the things in her arms, notably the sword.
"Im glad this is at an end." She told her softly.
Xena sat next to her on the cart. "My part has ended." Xena told her with certainty.
Gabrielle nodded with a smile that was hid behind the hair that fell to the sides of her face as she looked down at her feet.
"Hmmm. Mine too. Id like to get back to smaller travel groups, quieter camps, and long moments to study the stars and make up stories about them."
Xena turned to face her with a smile. "I could go for a dry warm cave...far...far...away from others...thats big enough for two people and a horse."
Xena could see the pulse point on Gabrielles neck jump and heard the little intake of breath.
She turned to face the dark profile that was lit up in the moonlight that rested on them both, giving a soft glow to the womans features that she could recognize so clearly.
"I say we leave sometime by tomorrow...or Ill do something really embarrassing." Gabrielle informed her in a low sensuous voice.
Xenas eyebrow lifted in a familiar expression of inquiry. "For you or me?"
Gabrielle laughed softly, embarrassed. "You are a hard one to embarrass when thats the intention. However, I do remember an occasion..."
Xena listened to Gabrielles soft voice tell a story of a time when she was taken off guard and embarrassed by a village they helped after it suffered at the hands of raiders. The grateful village had wanted Xena to take the only thing left of value, an infant. The speech of the newly elected elder had her shifting from one foot to another throwing glaring looks at Gabrielle that she hadnt rescued her from this. The infant never left the village with them for Gabrielle did step in and rather than refuse the gift, entrusted the village to care for her. The infants predicted future was what made her so valuable.
Xena laughed at the absurdity of them raising an infant on the road, in her line of work, and with her not believing that a prediction meant it was going to happen...Her eyes rested with tenderness on the woman who didn't refuse the gift that was given from the heart of strangers. As a Warlord she was use to taking not being given. Receiving something meant opening up her heart.
"Remind you of something?"
"Yaaa. I'll tell ya bout it later."
Gabrielle lifted herself further up into the cart. "Come 'ere." She whispered to a smirking Xena.
Xena pulled the tarp back over the top railings and crawled under the covering finding very strong arms pulling her down into a warm comforting darkness. The Bard's heart beat rapidly under her fingertips and smell of her arousal sent excited chills up Xena's spine. Lips possessively covered hers. Xena's body shivered in anticipation as Gabrielle's tongue played with the outside of her lips, sucking on the lower one then obtrusively pushing between her parted lips. Xena finally took charge and rolled them both over, ravaging the mouth of a willing lover. Hands roaming, pausing, teasing, pulling, as both struggled out of their cloths to feel each other's skin pressed up against the other. Their groans and sighs lasted until the first signs of daylight that lit up the tops of the canopy of trees. The sky was blue but the weather was still cold...outside of the tarp.
Both women rolled out of the cart pulling their cloths into place with Xena leading the way to where she could hear water running. She had her leathers, sword and armor in a bag tucked under her arm. There were morning birds doing their usual greeting calls to raising helios, and small creatures hunting around for their daily fair. Xena could hear the soft fluttering of a falcon as it stretched its wings from a nights sleep, getting ready to take to the sky and search for its own meal.
Gabrielle's heightened senses were no more but she didn't seem to care for now they could resume their own lives. She shivered and was pulled in closer to the tall woman's body that never seemed to get cold. Their feet made almost no sound as they walked toward the cold water.
While both women bathed Gabrielle recounted the old woman's tale. "It's an odd story, Xena. Brrrrrr." She interrupted herself at the first encounter of the cold water, "How can you stand in this cold stuff without shivering?" It was a question that was asked often between them and an answer was never expected. Xena only smiled and tossed her their herbal soap and Gabrielle resumed her story as she washed. .
"Anyway, she said a raptor would one day redeem her." She finished.
"A raptor?" Xena asked disbelieving as put on her leathers.
"Well, she said it was a bird that was a great hunter and fighter and had eyes there were sharper than all the other birds. That's some kind of raptor, but not an owl, dove or pigeon." She looked up at the leathered form next to her as Xena was tying her boots. "If she had said a gray wolf, I would have told her..."
Xena stopped her tying and looked up at Gabrielle who was sitting next to her pulling her own boots on.
"What?" Gabrielle asked noting the sudden coldness in her companion's demeanor.
"I'm not that person anymore, Gabrielle." She told her frowning. "And if tomorrow you asked me about any of it...I would say it never happened." She finished firmly.
Gabrielle studied the serious blue eyes that were looking directly into hers. Sounds from the cot above them drifted down as the others started to move around. "I...before you forget...before I forget. I want you to know...Iaia loved Aleka. She was number two priority in her life, though."
Xena could feel her heart skip a beat. She reached over and cupped a hand around Gabrielle's cold chin. "Thank you." She sighed looking back toward the cot. "Their paths were going in different directions. Today...we are...sharing a road...where and to what..." Xena shrugged her shoulders.
"We'll travel together." Gabrielle whispered. She reached up and brushed her chilled lips against the soft warm willing lips of her partner.
Slowly Xena pulled away. "We gotta get back and end this road show." She murmured letting her breath heat Gabrielle's skin.
"I hope you know of a nearby private, warm, empty cave that is just big enough to fit two people and maybe, a horse." She whispered before taking a teasing bite of Xena's lower lip.
Xena sighed and straightened up. "Come on." Xena could feel a grin appear on her face as she relished the feel of the familiar leathers, boots, grieves and weight of the armor and sword at her back. Then there was the warm hand resting on her arm from Gabrielle as she listed the foods she would like to have for their own journey.
Agnes was sitting on the outside of the cot with Lily chatting when her eyes caught sight of a tall dark figure whose armor glinted and sparked from a few stray sun beams that slipped through the thick cover of the forest branches. At first she did not recognize what she was seeing, for she had only seen Xena, the Warrior Princess, once. It was at the beginning of their quest, and she didn't wear her armor for long.
Lily turned to see what her companion looked so stunned about, worrying that she left her sword in the cot and hoping Aleka wouldn't find out or she would have to pay an embarrassing price.
Slivers of sun that broke though the thick wooded branches overhead bounced off Gabrielle's hair and glinted and moved from different parts of the armor of the warrior as the two approached the cot. Both women watched silently as the pair shared laughter and moved with a different grace that Iaia and Aleka possessed. There was no more Aleka in the tall dark figure that showed an alertness to her environment as she scanned around her while listening to her partner who was animating whatever she was saying with her gestures and a shaking head. Lily mentally measured how far it would take for the two to take note of their audience for she knew there were others that watched as Xena and Gabrielle approached. Dressed in armor and leathers there was no mistaking that Xena was no longer the Named.
"Zeus!" Erica whispered near the Agnes. "I got so use to her as Aleka that I didn't realize how different the two are."
"Good mornin to ya!" an old voice croaked from the small room adjoining the doorway the two women were sitting in.
Gabrielle stopped her gestures and waved at the old woman that was on her stoop sipping a beverage.
"Good mornin to you, Agdistis. Did ya sleep well?" Gabrielle's warm voice asked.
"Aye. Never so good in a long time."
Xena said nothing but merely nodded.
Now, that's the Xena I've heard about. A woman of few words, Lily mused.
The old woman pointed to Xena. "Ya look mighty different in that getup. Ain't ch'a a bit cold?" She looked her up and down noticing no appearance of chill.
"No." Xena turned to the others that were peering at her from different places. "There's a cold river off that way. Follow our tracks. After everyone's cleaned up, we'll talk."
"Looks like you already have." Lily couldn't help mentioning.
"Well, we made it to the temple." Gabrielle laughed. "I can't remember anyone saying their destination was to get into the temple."
Grace started to chuckle. "That would be just like a goddess.
"Wait a moment, here." Berik spoke up.
"Why don't we all wait a moment. On a full stomach is the best way to begin this discussion."
"I'll go with that." The old voice croaked her agreement.
Gabrielle smiled at the old face. It hurt her to think how the old woman probably struggled to get by. Before they left Xena and her would make sure there was a lot of split wood and some meat for her. If it were a small enough animal it would keep in this cold.
Gabrielle looked up at her partner who was wearing her usual stoic expression. Xena returned Gabrielle's look with an inquisitive look paraphrased with an upraised eyebrow.
"I was thinking before we leave, we can make sure Agdistis has enough wood and meat to last her a while."
Xena nodded her head. "I was thinking of starting on the wood now, while the others get themselves together." The smirk was unmistakable as it lifted the corners of her mouth and her blue sapphire eyes glinted with mischief.
"Ya know?" Gabrielle pulled one of the leather strips on the tall woman's skirt, "after this, I don't think I'll be wanting to hear the phrase 'getting themselves together' for a while."
Xena disappeared into the woods to gather firewood and Gabrielle and Grace put a morning meal together for everyone.
By the time the women were gathered around the cot with full stomachs, Xena had a nice stack of wood under the shelter they had rebuilt for the horses. She kept the piles low so the old woman or her dog, if he was trained to drag pieces of wood to the old woman, could easily reach the top of the stack without the rest collapsing.
Till We Meet Again...
"Before anyone starts..." Gabrielle began, "let me tell you what our hostess has told me about the temple." Gabrielle was standing, as was her custom when she was going to say something that required gestures and...a story.
"I'm going to tell you a tale of a young thief whose ability to steal would have made her the Queen of Thieves, by her telling. One day, before we were all born...in this life...the young thief heard about an orb that shinned even in the dark and whoever held it was given the power of foresight. It was in a temple, she had been told, that had no guards, but, it was impossible to get into the temple. This young Queen of Thieves decided the challenge to get into the temple alone, was incentive to make a trip to this distant temple and check it out for herself.
Many seasons had passed and there were many villages and towns this young thief had traveled through, making her living as she best knew how, until...she had finally reached a village that told her she was near the temple.
The young thief was warned by the villagers, who seemed to know exactly why she was there, not to try to force entry into the temple for there would be a stiff penalty to pay.
The young thief was not frightened of death. She had been surviving on her own for so long, loneliness was to her a punishment and she was already living with it, so she felt there was nothing to fear and ignored the warnings.
She spent half a day testing the doors. They were ancient and scarred with the marks from others that had attempted to force their way in. She tried beating on them for admittance and even entertained herself with the sounds she caused; yet...no one came to the door.
In broad daylight she started to climb the side of the mountain to dig a way though the top of the door. She succeeded in getting in, which really surprised her at how easy that was.
She found the orb, for it was a shinning light in the dark room behind the closed doors she slipped over. She held it in her hands and saw...her future. Frightened and then angry she shouted obscenities and curses at whomever the temple it was to and threw the orb against what she thought was a wall.
The young trespasser and would be thief was horrified when the ball that lit up the area it was hurled toward did not show what figure caught the orb and held it as it approached her.
There was no conversation with the unseen figure. The orb was simply...set back...onto...its stand.
The thief does not know how she got out of the temple, just that she found herself approaching a town that she had previously visited, and stole from. She was recognized and chased after and caught.
The villagers passed sentence on her and cut off her legs. They waited until she healed then gave her a dog to pull her on a sled and sent her away. She eventually returned to the temple and since then has been waiting for a bird, a raptor, to rescue her or release her to death.
Gabrielle leaned back against the familiar figure that stood behind her when she finished.
The old woman was rocking back and forth on her pallet nodding from her room as Gabrielle told her tale.
Agnes cleared her throat. "Alala has a falcon."
Alala frowned as she pondered the story's meaning. How could her falcon release the woman of her curse? She turned to look out the open doorway at the large owl that was sleeping under the shelter near the horses. The falcon had taken off earlier to hunt for his meal. He was far away for she couldn't reach him in thought.
Xena said nothing about the emblem she bore on her flag when she was a warlord. Whether the raptor symbol was referring to her or not, if there was a way to release the old woman from her fate she wanted to try. She glanced down at Gabrielle whose face was showing she was trying to figure out a solution to the raptor that was suppose to release her new friend.
She slid her hands from Gabrielle's shoulders, where she had naturally put them when Gabrielle leaned into her.
"What about the rest of you?" She asked in a low voice looking around the room at the women who were in various relaxed postures.
"Well, some of us have thought of going to Crometh and check out the local talent." Eleanor told Xena with a grin.
"I heard they have a festival at every full moon in honor of the Muses." Gabrielle leaned forward excitedly.
Xena smiled to herself as she had already made plans for them to spend time there...after they spent some time alone.
"What about the rest of you?" Xena asked in a low tone, nodding toward Lily.
A broad smile was on the woman's face when she looked toward Agnes. "Well, the rest of us thought we might head that way to. After all, it's not too safe for young priestesses to be traveling alone on these roads, especially without some sort of protection."
"And you two?" Erica inquired.
Xena let a little smile curl one corner of her lips. "You might see us there."
Gabrielle laughed and turned to give the warrior a smile. "First things first, huh?" She asked her softly.
Xena nodded, looking down into the eyes that were openly showing her desire. "Yes. First things first." Xena could feel her throat tightening up and quickly pulled herself away. "I'm going over to the temple gates with our hostess...first."
Xena went to the corner where Argo's saddle was and she hoisted it up to her shoulders and headed toward the small corral.
Gabrielle and the others followed the tall woman out as she made her way to the horses. Argo was scratching her head on the railing, biding her time as if she were waiting for her real mistress to come claim her.
"All right girl. Let's get back to business, huh?" Argo curled her lip at her mistress and backed away.
"Argo." Gabrielle told the mare, "It's her or me."
Argo shook her head and snorted stepping back into the shelter.
"All right." Xena told the horse frowning. "You don't happen to have an apple on ya, do ya." Xena asked Gabrielle.
The old woman cackled below them. Xena looked down at the old form that had moved quickly from the cot to the horse enclosure with the others.
"I might have a few." She croaked in her old voice.
"Xena, what are you going to do?" Gabrielle asked as Xena tightened the cinch on Argo's saddle.
"Our old friend here and I will go knocking on the front door."
Xena just smiled. "Why don't you get our things together so we can leave when I get back."
Xena hoisted the old woman onto Argo's saddle then hoped up behind her.
When they were out of sight of the others the old woman sighed. "So...what plan do you have?"
"Wait and see." Xena told her quietly.
When they reached the tall formidable gates, Xena slid off Argo's back and effortlessly lifted the frail old woman. She carried her to the front gate and set her down. Pulling her bodice knife she handed the hilt to the old woman.
"Knock on the door once. The sound you hear is the sound you make to open the door."
The old woman took the dagger and laughed silently to herself. She struck the door once, and for a frail old lady, it was forceful. The loud boom was deep and reverberated off the gates and under their feet. The old woman's voice had no sound of age as she made the exact tone, which was picked up, by the two adjoining towers, further causing the earth beneath them to vibrate.
Tuning forks, as Xena suspected.
The gates opened. Xena stepped back and turned. She mounted Argo and rode back to the cot.
Gabrielle was waiting near the edge of the road. She had said her good byes and didn't want the others to hold them up with questions about what happened to the old woman.
She felt the horses hoof beats before she saw them. A golden apparition appeared on the sun bright road and astride her was a tall dark warrior, whose armor shone in the sun and made her heart stop for a moment. As Argo and her mistress came closer, Gabrielle caught the wide smile on the dark woman's face on seeing her.
Xena pulled Argo out of her rolling canter and over to where the Bard waited, saddlebags and staff resting against a tree, out of the mud.
"Need a lift?" She asked in a seductive tone.
Gabrielle lifted a part of her long winter coat, revealing a bit of her skin underneath. "Know somewhere where I can get..."
She didn't finish what she had to say as Xena slid off Argo and without further conversation pulled Gabrielle into her arms and gave her a long hug.
"Let's get outta here." A gruff voice suggested. Saddlebags were lifted and secured to Argo's saddle. Xena easily vaulted onto Argo's back and gave Gabrielle a hand up.
"I spotted this place, not too far from here..." Xena started.