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By J.A. Bard



Warnings and Disclaimers written by Wildcat
(, (c) Wildcat, 1997.

Warnings/Disclaimers are included with stories to enable readers to judge whether each piece is of interest to them. They are intended to be taken seriously as a warning about the nature of the story. In many cases it can be presumed that one of the lead story characters (Xena: Warrior Princess or Gabrielle) is involved in the action of the story and to that end, after reading Warnings/Disclaimers, it is the sole responsibility of each reader to decide whether they wish to read a particular story.

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.

Continued from here.

Chapter   1-4   5-9   10-Epilogue

Part II

Chapter 5

The Curse

Xena was balancing on a water slicked rock where she could see the sheet of water pouring down from the water fall above her into the pool below that was hidden by surrounding vegetation, but the mist that rose from it blanketed the area. The thundering sound from the falling water and vibration in the rocks from the power of the water’s plunge was invigorating, and the view was breathtaking! Her leg muscles were taught as she balanced on the irregular shaped rock preparing for another leap. The late afternoon breeze blew the spray from the flowing water her way cooling her warm body. She had run from the entrance of the forest to get to the rock before sunset. She needed to remind her friend Gabrielle that sunset was near. She knew she was sitting up at the top of the falls, probably so absorbed in her composing stories she forgot about the time. She said she would only be gone for one candle mark and it was almost the end of the day!

Gabrielle had a good view of Xena between the flowered bushes that grew along the edge of the falls. She watched her upward progress as she hopped from one slippery rock to another taking a brief moment to enjoy the scenery. Trust Xena to not take the conventional or usual course anywhere if she felt she could get more enjoyment out of another way, regardless of the effort. Gabrielle enjoyed watching her graceful and effortless movements. She made it look deceivingly easy but it was a steady up hill climb and the rocks were not easy to get good footing on if not impossible - for normal people, Gabrielle's mouth moved to a big smile.

Xena disappeared from her sight and Gabrielle waited for her head to reappear. When it didn’t and more time passed, Gabrielle became curious and leaned from behind the brush she was sitting behind.

Xena's hand reached out and pulled her over the brush and down into the grassy area below her perch laughing. "Hey, what’s keeping you? Are you composing another love poem?" Xena teased. "I can tell you a story or two if you are stuck."

Gabrielle looked into the golden brown eyes and saw the thinly veiled desire as well as laughter of the woman she wanted as her lover. "Well, I can think of other ways to get more material too." She teased back. She unconsciously flipped her bright red hair back out of her face. "But, now that you are here," She hinted giving Xena a coquettish look, "perhaps you would like to join me for a picnic."

"A picnic? Out here? It is nearly dusk! You know the Guardians don’t want us here after dusk!" Xena’s returned sharply, not believing what she was hearing.

"Well if you hadn’t taken so long to get here it wouldn’t be close to dusk." Gabrielle returned playfully. "We have enough time to eat." She begged her companion.

"Why are you tempting fates all the time?" Xena asked perplexed.

"I like the challenge." Her friend returned shortly looking up for a moment to reveal a wide grin. "Here, have some bread."

"Alex!" Xena could feel something was not right with what she was seeing.

Gabrielle continued to set out the food and picked an especially fat grape and tossed it over to her friend, knowing she had a trick of catching grapes in her mouth in mid air.

Xena caught the grape neatly, nervously looking over at her friend as she chewed the grape. She lifted her eyebrows as if an idea suddenly occurred to her.

"Are you seducing me, Alex?" She asked softly.

A smirk appeared on her friend’s face. "It has been the plan for the last few moons."

Xena took a deep breath as a warm feeling washed over her. She wasted all this time resisting her impulse to take her friend into her arms and tell her she loved her more than a friend did and...this was a very familiar line.

"Why didn’t you just say so?" She asked puzzled, feeling her pulse quicken.

"I did. You just didn’t hear me." Alex looked into the brown eyes that showed her momentarily confusion. Alex’s smile broadened, the seer was right.

Xena took a deep breath as she watched Alex’s face. She was right. She had thought it was too good to be true or she thought she was misreading what she was saying...and she had been too fearful to ask.

Mediea leaned toward Alex and pulled her face to hers. She brushed her lips against the lips that were open and waiting for her, then felt Alex’s hand slip around her wrist, pulling her closer. For a long moment they savored and explored each other’s lips and mouth, forgetting time. Their first passionate kiss was inspiring. When they broke the kiss and gazed into each other’s eyes, Mediea smiled and Alex couldn’t help giggling at the idea that her plan actually worked.

"Now, I think we need to get going and finish this conversation later." Mediea returned to the more important issue.

Alex looked about her and jumped up fearful that her challenge to the Guardians this time may be too close to comfort.

"Leave the stuff!" Mediea grabbed Alex’s hand and both ran to the path that was a lot safer than the slippery rocks.

They were almost out of the forest when Mediea pulled up. Alex tugged at her hand. "Come on!"

"I thought I heard Helena’s voice back there."

"I didn’t hear any voice." Alex was a little annoyed because she had thought Helena was a rival whom Mediea was more interested in than her, until Helena got engaged to Jocamo.

This time they both heard the laughter. "Doesn’t she know better? Why must I be around women who like to challenge the guardians!" Mediea asked exasperated.

Alex’s smile faded suspecting that Mediea still had feelings for Helena. "Well since you like her so much, why don’t you go and remind her!" She returned hurt.

Mediea’s expression told Alex she had made a mistake.

"I have always considered Helena a friend, Alex." With that Mediea turned around and ran in the direction of the laughter, hopping to beat the dusk deadline.

"Please, Mediea!" Alex called after the receding figure. She looked about her. It was dusk! "Of all the times for my plan to come to fruition!" She remarked aggravated. Alex followed the nearly hidden path that she knew would lead to the grotto near the small orchard. It was not a good place to be after dusk much less any other time. No wonder Mediea was worried about her - friend. It was the grove the Guardian’s held very sacred.

When Mediea reached the grotto Helena was in Jocamo’s arms partially clad. She was furious that Jocamo and Helena didn’t pay attention to the rules the guardians had given them about the use of their territory. And of all places for them to fool around at, the grotto where the Guardians met for their gatherings.


Both turned toward her angrily. However, the faces that Mediea saw went from irritation to horror. Mediea sank to one knee and spun around barely saving herself from being impaled by a spear. The green form holding the spear could have froze her heart if she hadn’t known who it was.

The rumble in the voice was low and it vibrated in her chest as a drum beat would. "You have violated our trust!" A Guardian told her as she gazed into the dark eyes.

Alex came running into the clearing to see a menacing figure leaning over Mediea with a spear. "Noooooo!" She screamed as she threw her figure toward the Guardian’s body. The Guardian easily intercepted her and hurled her form onto the ground with such force that Alex was knocked unconscious. Mediea took that opportunity to roll away from the hulking form of the Guardian toward Alex’s still form. Mediea could only see a shadowed form of Alex for it quickly grows dark in the forest once the sun is behind the trees. Taking her hand she could feel a slow pulse. Mediea had never even considered Alex to follow her back into the forest. Why had she followed her back into the forest when she was safe? They had finally opened their hearts to each other and already they were doomed because of this mess.

"Leave her!" The deep voice rumbled.

"I will not!" Mediea whispered between clinched teeth. Media felt pressure around her forehead increase as if a band was wrapped around it and was being tightened.

"You have defied me twice!"

As the pressure increased around Mediea’s head she felt herself leaning forward until her forehead touched the ground.

Helena and Jocomo had been inching away as the attention from the Guardian was directed toward Mediea. This was not unnoticed by Mediea who was angry at their disregard for the rules. They had been caught disobeying a rule by the Guardian’s of the forest and it was only right that they take responsibility for it.

The pressure around Mediea continued. "You...made....your....point." She panted. The pressure only increased until Mediea toppled over the unconscious form of Alex, with herself falling into a dark oblivion.

The dark figure stared at the two inert forms then turned to watch in the direction that Helena and Jocomo had left. They would be back, he thought, and if not them, then their children. He could be patient.

Alex woke to an unaccustomed weight across her body but the beating of another’s heartbeat, though slow, gave her hope that it was Mediea’s. It smelled like her. The darkness was so impenetrable around her she could not tell if her own eyes were open or closed. She wrapped her arms around the form that was draped over her and hugged her painfully close.

Alex’s memories were mixed up with the joy of finally getting Mediea to see her as something more than a tag-along, and the pain of her jealous outburst. She wanted to tell Mediea how awful she had been. Tears fell from her eyes as she thought dismally of the beginning of a new relationship with Mediea that took an unfortunate turn. The seer had told her that Mediea would be with her for the rest of their lives if she gave her a picnic at the high point of the falls. This was not the romantic ending she was expecting.

Alex kissed the top of Mediea’s head and held onto her tighter as she felt Mediea’s heart beat pick up.

Mediea’s consciousness was slowly returning. She felt the pounding heart beneath her and the arms tighten around her. She could smell Alex and was aware her head was resting below her chin. She stirred in Alex’s arms and was rewarded with a kiss on her forehead.

Mediea lifted her weight off of Alex and tried to get up. "Ummmmph!" Her head started to pound and she merely rolled over onto her back. Her limbs felt numb. Taking slow deep breaths the headache receded but her arms and legs were useless to move around.

"So, you two are finally awake." The deep voice spoke.

There was only the darkness and an oppressive feeling that surrounded them. Mediea could feel Alex tremble as both of them fought their feelings of panic and fear of being slowly squeezed to death.

"What are you going to do to us?" Alex asked in a small shaky voice. It seemed to break some of the tension.

There was silence for a moment, as if their captor was thinking about this for the first time.

"We are undecided." The voice rumbled, "We have given you permission to enter our lands, share our space, with only a few rules to obey, yet you have broken those simple rules. Were they not simple to follow?" The low voice asked reasonably.

"Yes." Mediea replied meekly.

"No!" Alex responded heatedly.

Mediea’s heart sank. Alex had many times mentioned how romantic various areas of the forest were at dusk and early morning viewing and wanted to do something about extending their use of the forest. Mediea was thinking that this time was as good as any other time to talk about it but it was not a time she would have chosen.

"Hmmm. And what is not simple about our rules?"

Mediea’s hand was wrapped around Alex’s and she could feel her young friend’s heart beat faster through her fingertips.

"Here in the forest are the most beautiful and peaceful places," She started.

"They are that way because we have protected them from your wanton destruction! We have seen what you have done to the forest on the other side of your village! Do you not deny that you have burned and cut the trees, thus destroying the grottos and the river and streams that once flowed though there!" The anger bore down on the brow of both women and tightened like a vice.

"We...don’t....we...made...a...terrible...mistake." Alex tried to speak.

"Stop!" Mediea cried.

The pressure lessened but the darkness and oppressive feeling around them continued.

"If it became a sacred place for those seeking beauty," Alex continued with a struggle. "Like an open air temple..."

"You are talking about your people. It is special for us all ready. We are protecting it for us!" The two women could see a darker form than the darkness loom over them. "We have tried to share it with you. If you had not betrayed our trust perhaps you would have been able to stay longer. But the sacred times of dawn and dusk as well as the night is ours!"

"What are you going to do with us then?" Mediea asked wanting this pointless argument to end. She knew that some of the villagers were discussing cutting down some of the wood in the forest or hunting where they were told not to. It wasn’t like they needed to, they just felt it was closer to their homes which were spreading out. The village had prospered under the protection of the Guardian’s and forgot that their prosperity was from the protection of the first beings that lived here. The village was forgetting a lot lately in their too complacent lives.

"Do you deny you have done wrong?"

"No." Mediea replied hopping that Alex would not say anything.

"I...", began Alex but the squeeze on her hand by Mediea caused her to hesitate.

"Yessss." This time there was no added pressure.

"I was just going to say, it was because of the beauty of the forest that we stayed so long."

"You were almost out and you returned." The voice pointed out.

"Yes." Mediea returned. She didn’t think it was worth the effort to explain that she had returned to get the two lovers out of the grotto, for no matter how it was looked at, they had all knowingly stayed past dusk.

This time Alex said nothing.

"Your village is setting fire to our forest." The voice told informed them quietly.

"NO!" Alex cried out genuinely horrified. "The beauty, the creatures that live here... No! We have to stop them! Please, let us go to stop them!"

"It is too late. They have been jealous of our lands for a long time. Do you think we cannot feel this darkness when it infests our land? There is more to this world than what you see. For this attack, we shall close this land, and the land surrounding. None shall find life or peace here."

"No! You just can’t close off the falls, the plants, the rainbows, the view of the mountain peaks though the trees and the animals that live there!" Alex pleaded. "Please. Give us a chance. Surely there is some way we can restore the sacredness of the place and go back to sharing? We can replant the trees...something. Please!"

There was silence for a long moment. "Your time has passed. But, perhaps there is a way." The voice said slowly as if still weighing whether to make the offer or not. "If you can find two people who will take up your cause and go through a series of tests we put forth, you will have your wish - under new conditions."

"With the condition that those who have the proper attitude can stay past dusk." Alex quickly added.


"You have taught us that it is attitude that gives energy to form..." Alex started to argue

"You dare to argue?" The Guardian thundered.

"Yes!" Alex returned angrily. "We have nothing to lose." Alex added softer.

There was silence. Mediea was startled when she thought the form was laughing.

"You are correct."

"If this is true, then it makes sense that by attracting the right people energy it will strengthen the forest to be what you...and I, would like to feel within it."

"You will have seven tries to chose a pair of champions." The voice

"Wait a moment here!" Mediea confused. "What do you mean our time has passed? Why can’t we..."

The dark form laughed.

"You are but wisps of spirit. You have passed from dense form to a lighter life force."

That hit Mediea in the pit of the stomach. She was expecting death to be something else but to live as a spirit?

"It’s a deal!" Alex spoke for both of them squeezing Mediea’s hand.

"What other alternative is there?" Mediea asked hesitantly.

"You shall wander this blighted land your kind has caused as specters! Your senses deadened as the land that you wander." The voice angrily rumbled.

"Goddess!" Mediea breathed. How could their small infraction be dealt with so harshly?

"It’s okay, Mediea." Alex whispered. "We’ll be together."

When the dark form’s presence was no longer felt, Mediea realized she could see her friend, as she had remembered her. "If we’re wisps of spirit, how come I can see you?" She asked her friend.

Alex shook her head distracted. Looking out over what she saw as darkness she thought about her family and those that were gone. Alex’s matriarchal clan and her father’s clan had been worshipers of the Great Spirit of the Valley for longer than most of the villagers recalled. Her clan had lived in partnership with the Guardians in caring for their lush valley until the wandering groups of people that began to settle where ever they wanted, created an imbalance and thought little of anything beyond their immediate needs. This attitude wasn’t necessary since the valley was abundant with life and resources if managed properly. Alex thought to rebalance the energy of the village by teaching the children through stories of the importance of working with the Guardians to keep a balance with their environment and not over harvesting or over hunting certain species. But she had failed in that respect. Now, she and Mediea were being offered a part in maintaining the sacredness of the valley, though not in physical form, if they could get someone to undo the negative energy that the villagers had blighted the area with. They had to face the fear that made people unwilling to open themselves to partnerships...themselves.


Chapter 6

Their Journey Begins

While Xena waited for Gabrielle to arrive she learned a lot of the couple that had drawn them into their quest for champions. She found that due to their new love that was not physically consummated they had tended to be attracted to couples that were new in love as they. Was there a clue in there as to why the others failed?

So, she and Gabrielle were to be their seventh and last attempt at selecting a winning team. Xena sighed. Moving around with the two young women was very strange for Xena. She found her feelings and usual reticent manner was easily put aside. She couldn’t explain what manner of existence she was in but there was no physical living things as on Gaia’s world where she was. It was more of knowing one another, but not through the normal senses. Xena had no idea what the two young women looked like physically nor did the thought occur to her to wonder. As they waited for Gabrielle’s arrival, for the two women said she was well on her way, Xena let them experience her frustrating and sometimes failed attempts in relating to Gabrielle and others in her life. Funny that this is what they were curious about and Xena felt no reluctance or hesitation to let them delve into her memories. Could she have prevented it anyway? What matter is it anyway? She watched familiar scenes replayed in her minds eyes in a detached way. Some she had not remembered. There was no pain or regrets as she knew she would have experienced had she been in her body as she reviewed with them the images from her memory. Some memories Xena found had contents she felt were incorrect but the two women pointed out that memories were not based on fact but on the emotional content and meaning the person experiencing the event put on it. What did that mean?

Xena did find out that because the two had not shared a physical union of their love that they tended to experience a vicarious enjoyment of physical love through their connection with other couples. They had the ability to strengthen a link and then enhance the original lover’s feelings for each other. Xena was relieved that it wasn’t her or Gabrielle’s doing, though they insisted that the desires, dreams and fantasies were basically from them, and they had just added touches here and there. Xena would have to definitely discuss with Gabrielle some of those dreams or fantasies they had experienced.

When Gabrielle arrived in the cave Xena felt the kiss on her forehead and the tenderness that Gabrielle was feeling. However, she was too far away to respond, but she was relieved she had arrived. At least they could get on with this task. What had Alex told her? They were from a time before Cupid and Aphrodite. They were from a time when Gaia was the Goddess of importance, though she was known as another name. The guardian’s were spirits of the forest and valley that surrounded the village the two young women grew up in. It was the Goddess who had asked the guardian’s to compromise with Alex .

While Gabrielle and Xena’s physical bodies laid snug against each other on the pallet, another part of them walked together to the falls that Alex had told them about. Gabrielle nodded as Xena brought her up to date on the affairs of the couple whose plight they had taken on to end. They were walking over a desolate piece of land that had a feeling of death about it. Both women became silent as they walked through the land that both Gabrielle and Xena had seen through the eyes of Mediea and Alex as lush and teaming with forest life and now was horrifyingly scorched and lifeless.

"Xena." Gabrielle breathed heartbroken. Xena nodded without looking down at her friend. She could feel the despair and sorrow that seemed to permeate the area to say nothing of the visual impact it had on her. Perhaps knowing what it had looked like before the fire had a large part to do with her own dismay at what had become of this area. She looked down at her green eyed friend who was looking up at her with a serious expression on her face. Xena leaned down and kissed her tenderly on the forehead.

Gabrielle smiled and took her hand as they continued on their way. Gabrielle noticed that Xena was dressed in her winter shift without any weapons. "Have you a plan?" Gabrielle asked as she stroked the familiar muscled forearm with her free hand.

"Hmmm. From what I can gather, we need to face the darkness of what lays on this land."

"Without weapons? What do you think we’re going to see out there?" Gabrielle was thinking more of her staff that she had become so accustomed to having with her most of the time that to be without it she probably felt like Xena without her weapons.

"The same thing most people who are afraid of the dark see, themselves."

"Are you sure that’s all? They didn’t tell you anything?"

"Only that the others failed. But," Xena sighed, "the difference between those that had gone before us, was that they hadn’t been with each for very long. Just like Alex and Mediea. I think that is where the tests of darkness will be. Our own insecurities."

"Hmmm." Gabrielle thought about the many she had and wondered how she was going to fare.

"Do you trust me?" Xena asked suddenly looking down at Gabrielle.

"Explicitly." Was Gabrielle’s quick reply giving a squeeze to Xena’s hand.


Gabrielle paused, "Well, there was that one barmaid in Acropolis." She pointed out.

Xena turned to Gabrielle, "Are you...?."

"I’m only kidding Xena. I believed you then and I believe you now." Gabrielle reached up and kissed Xena on the lips laughing. "Are you trying to prepare us for something you would like to tell me about?"

"I was just thinking."

"Hmm. Like things new couples would not do well with if tested." Gabrielle nodded. She slid her arm into the crook of Xena’s arm unconsciously as they picked their way over the remains of burnt vegetation.

She looked up at Xena. "Well, let’s go slay the darkness of the night." She laughed.

Xena smiled back but didn’t feel as confident. She would feel better doing physical battle then this emotional stuff that she was suspecting they would be facing. Goddess, she did enough of that stuff on her own, especially in the past. Out of habit she sent another grateful thought to whoever was responsible for bringing Gabrielle into her life. If she hadn’t Xena was sure she would still be having nightly dreams of her needless killing and destroying of struggling peoples lives. She sighed to herself. She had taken the challenge only because she knew that Gabrielle would feel sorry for the couple...and now that she had seen the land, she wanted to remove the curse on it.

Xena thought about Mediea who said that this was going on before Zeus became leader of the Gods and before Cronus, his father. Xena was well aware of such times existing for Ares on a few occasions referred to it as the dark ages. It was odd that the present gods would let this go on, if they were all that powerful but Xena found the gods were not just overly self involved, but complex and too annoying for her to be interested in their affairs. She was doing it to restore the land and because Artemis had recommended her to the young women, or so they had said. She owed Artemis a favor, as she was still feeling guilty of what she had done to the Amazons for the shaman.

Both Gabrielle and Xena were silent, deep in their own thoughts as they gathered their energies to face the unknown together. Somewhere, Gabrielle had let her hand fall from Xena’s arm for neither noticed that they had taken different paths, the same paths that their counter parts had taken to get to the water fall. Gabrielle came out of her own deep contemplation when she was at the flat rock looking down at the falls. Her breath caught as she watched the breeze send a spray of water onto the surrounding encroaching brush. Below her she had a spectacular view of the river winding it’s way down through the forest. A rainbow formed until the spray settled like sparkling jewels on the leaves and flowers nearby. A bird in the distance dipped and then made its way toward the snow capped peaks.

"Alex is right," she murmurred, "here indeed is a place that lovers can find themselves and declare their eternal love." She breathed in the air that had a hint of a chill from the snow capped mountains in the background. The smells that mixed with it were of various flowers, herbs and a heavy scent of pine. She closed her eyes for a moment and listened to the sounds. She could feel the power of the falls vibration through the rock she stood on and in the background a bird was calling to its mate. Squeezing her eyes tighter shut in concentration she could almost hear...footsteps landing on a rock. She kept her eyes closed trying to sense where Xena was.

Xena had noticed that Gabrielle was not with her when she heard the movement of a rabbit under brush. She had turned to say something to Gabrielle and noticed she was not behind her. Unconcerned she continued on her way. She had walked this same path as Mediea. She could smell the dampness from the falls and hear the calls of birds in the trees. She felt the breeze as it moved across her and trailed scents from the mixture of moss, herbs and various tree species that were in the area. She could feel the thunder from the falls vibrate in the earth as she neared her destination. Standing half way up the falls near the water that was spraying everything that was beside it she could see the rainbow that arched across the bottom of the falls. It was breathtaking. She looked up where she knew she would find Gabrielle. She was standing on a rock with her eyes closed in blissful silence. Xena’s heart filled with so much happiness that she thought she could not contain it. She released some of the energy by expelling her breath, which she had been unconsciously holding. Xena made her way up the side of the falls by leaping onto the slippery rocks. It was an exhilarating feeling to hear the roar of the falls below her and feel her legs strain to keep her balance and push her up to the next boulder. It was no real strain for her but the movement was a nice release. She planned her final leap that would place her beside the Bard who still had her eyes closed. Xena smiled at Gabrielle’s expression, which told her that Gabrielle was aware of her nearness.

Xena paused looking at Gabrielle’s pulse beating at her throat. Her face was flushed and her anticipation reminded Xena of her dreams for the last week and a half. Desire started to build in her as she prepared for her last leap.

Landing next to Gabrielle she had her arms around her pulling her close for a deep and passionate kiss. Gabrielle opened her eyes and watched the face of her lover as she took possession of her mouth. Gabrielle groaned as they both sank to their knees overcome with passions that they had been experiencing during their separation. Gabrielle rolled onto Xena pressing against her in urgency, as if to melt into her. Xena rolled Gabrielle back onto her back and somewhere between their twisting bodies, the ground disappeared beneath them as they fell into the roaring falls below.

As Xena turned over in her descent she let her body’s natural athleticism take over knowing that she would land into the pool below without any harm to herself. Her concern was for Gabrielle whom she could not see or feel near her, nor hear her if she screamed.

This is it, Xena thought calmly to herself. Should she worry about Gabrielle who she lost contact with? Nothing I can do until we're in the water, she thought. The sudden impact with the cold water was numbing, even to her. Xena pushed off from the bottom of the pool and as she moved to the surface she felt a heavy splash next to her. She instinctively reached out and grabbed the form, pulling the struggling Gabrielle upward with her.

"It’s cold!" Gabrielle got out as her head broke the surface. They were quickly caught up in the strong current that was pouring between and over rocks and boulders threatening to pull them apart.

It was cold and Xena felt the urgency to get them out of the water, instead Xena found herself protecting Gabrielle body from being slammed against the boulders in the river. She could feel her grip on Gabrielle was slipping after each contact with a rock, afraid if she readjusted her hold she would loose her. Gabrielle had ceased moving in her arms and Xena found her own heart beating out of fear.

Another slam into a boulder sent Gabrielle down into the cold water bottom and Xena to the other side of the boulder where the water course dipped down into another small water fall dropping her into another river whose current was just as strong as the former. The river was not very deep in some parts and the current dragged Xena’s legs across the rocks on the bottom. She could feel her cold legs getting bruised and scrapped, but there was nothing she could do yet about the wild rush and spin this current was suffering them through.

Xena twisted around to see if she could catch sight of Gabrielle above the foaming waters and missed the boulder that her body was hurled into. Xena’s head hit the side and stunned her as she instinctually gripped the sides of the boulder holding on until her head cleared. Her sight had darkened and she tried to shake the darkness away, but it caused a stabbing pain behind her eyes. Fighting panic she felt for grips on the wet rock feeling for a way to pull her battered body up. She needed to find Gabrielle.

*   *   *   *

As Gabrielle fell into the roaring waters below she was thinking that this was the beginning of their adventure. The lustful passion that she had just moments ago been engulfed in was replaced with anticipation of the unknown. Being afraid of heights, she had her eyes closed as she plummeted down into the icy pool. Gabrielle lost connection with Xena as she could feel her body suspended in the air for but a moment. Her stomach did flip-flops as the roar became louder and then the freezing waters closed over her. She hadn’t sunk very low in the water when she felt a hand grab her pulling her close into a warm strong body.

The cold numbed her body quickly, as she didn’t have the ability as Xena to move her temperature up when needed. She was dimly aware of being bounced around but Xena’s body absorbed the impact. Part of her numb mind told her that Xena’s grip was slipping and she didn’t start to fight the pull of the waters until she felt herself being pulled down into the cold river bottom without Xena’s arms protecting her. She was dragged along the bottom of the rocky river floor getting scraped on her left side before she was violently pulled back up and whirled around another boulder then dragged back down again.

"By Athena’s shield, fight!" She gritted between her cold lips. She rose back to the surface in the churning current and grabbed onto a branch that was wedged between two boulders that she crashed into. She needed to get out of the water. She could feel the warm sun above her as she weakly clung to the branch. She needed to find Xena!

Clawing her way to the top of her rock was exhausting as well as bruising. Her fingertips were blue with chill and her knees, legs and hands were scrapped and not bleeding much, due to the cold. Pulling her wet hair from her face, she caught her breath as she looked around trying to get some sort of fix on her location. The sun was directly above her warming her cold skin, so it was noon. The trees along the shore were leaning over into the water which would be helpful in pulling herself out of the river, but to get there would mean going back into the rushing current and managing to maneuver around more bounders and rocks that didn’t look easy to get around. Gabrielle put her hands over her eyes to cut the glare. She could barely make out a dark familiar form on a boulder further down the river.

"Xena!" She yelled over the noise of the river. She could see the form turn in her direction. What’s the matter with her, she thought as she noted Xena was not moving as she normally would. Her heart started to pound, as she knew that something was not right. She probably hit every boulder we passed trying to protect me, she thought worried. A broken bone was not something to have at the beginning of their...adventure.

Gabrielle looked into the rushing waters and tried to plan her way to Xena’s perch.

"Xena! I’m coming!" She shouted again and slid back into the waters seeing the arm wave out of her peripheral vision.

"Goddess, this is cold! How does she do it?" Gabrielle sputtered. Her head went under as she tried to twist her body to change direction. With quiet determination, she kept repeating to herself, ‘I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.’

Xena’s heart beat faster when she heard her name and turned to face the direction the voice came from. Hades! If it weren’t for the warmth from the sun that beat on her face and shoulders she wouldn’t have been able to tell if it were day of night...though with Xean’s acute night vision, that wasn’t necessarily so.

She heard Gabrielle’s plan to join her. Xena waved to keep her from joining her. She needed to gather her wits and sight back. Above the gurgling and rush of the water she could hear the splashing of Gabrielle as she fought the currents that were pulling this way and that. Xena slid into the water and listened for which direction she would be coming from. Xena could feel the pull of the two currents around the boulder she leaned against. She was able touch the bottom but it was slippery and could knock her feet from under her with a new surge of water from either side of the rock.

Xena heard a yelp near her left side and leaned dangerously out to grab what she was hopping was Gabrielle. Something hit Xena with so much force she slipped and went under the water, but her hand grabbed Gabrielle around the waist. Gabrielle hugged Xena close to her as both were once more swept away down the river. There were less bounders but the current was too much for even Xena who was holding Gabrielle who she felt was again becoming too cold to stay conscious. Xena could hear the approach of another fall.

Great! How many more are there of these, she thought grimly.

The next drop was short and the sun’s warmth disappeared and in place of it Xena could feel a coolness that reminded her of the water tunnels below the city of La Peita. The memory brought a shudder to her. She hated the closed in feeling then and if she hadn’t been fleeing for her life she would have tried some other escape route. Xena could also smell the wet slate. The rushing water’s volume was magnified in the tunnel sounding like a roar as they moved along though the tunnel. She couldn’t hear anything that indicated a shore so she was going to have to hang onto Gabrielle’s dead weight and the dead weight of her own legs. Her limbs were so cold she couldn’t feel them being dragged on the bottom of the shallow river. Xena’s hearing picked up a different sound then the current quickened for a moment as they were pulled around a bend. Xena’s heart quickened as she heard the unmistakable sound of water lapping. She tried to get her numb legs under her but between her cold legs and slippery rocks beneath her she spent more time nearly drowning the semi conscious Gabrielle than making progress in the direction she wanted to go. She finally pulled Gabrielle onto her hip and using her other arm started to swim to where she could hear the water lapping. When the water became too shallow to swim she repositioned Gabrielle. The rocks dug into her knees as she pulled Gabrielle across her back and crawled out of the waters. Gently she lowered her onto the sandy ground and rolled her into her arms trying to give her some body warmth. Her eyes were unseeing but her other senses worked fine. She could hear the sounds around her were muted and the water less thunderous as they were probably in a cavern. There was the smell of damp sand, wet slate and an acrid smell of something else she couldn’t identify. Somewhere she could hear dripping water like a small pool was being fed by a run off from the larger body of water. She shifted Gabrielle’s weight as she felt her heart beat pick up. She felt her face with her hand and placed her warm lips against Gabrielle’s cold ones. She could feel a smile began to form on the lips against hers.

Gabrielle wrapped her arms around Xena and hugged her tight not breaking contact in their kiss. She finally broke the kiss and stared up at the blue eyes she could barely see in the dim light of the cave.

Xena could feel the change in Gabrielle’s heartbeat in the breast that was tightly pressed against hers.

"I can’t see." She told Gabrielle softly.

She felt Gabrielle’s cold hands reach for her face and pull it toward hers. The cold lips against her eyes threatened to bring tears to hers. Xena felt a finger gingerly touching the large lump on the side of her head. It was sore.

"Where are we?" Xena asked quickly to cover her fear and perhaps, self pity that she was hopping would not over-take her. She had experienced loss of her sight before, she reminded herself. Besides, she cautioned herself, this may be part of the test, therefore it probably wasn’t permanent.

Gabrielle took a deep breath and tried to control the shaking of her body. It was hard to tell if it was from her fear for Xena or the after affects of the cold water. Probably both.

"We’re in an under ground water way. It’s dark but there is enough light so that it seems to be...dusk!" What a coincidence Gabrielle thought a little heartened, remembering that this was all part of a test.

"Got any stories of heroes going into dark underground caverns?" Xena asked half-serious.

"I can think of quite a few, but I would rather not right now. I feel better recounting some tales when I’m nice and safe." Gabrielle admitted.

Xena tightened her arms around Gabrielle for a moment then loosened her hold.

"Do any of those stories say anything about a warrior and a bard being weaponless and blind?" She murmured as she kissed the top of Gabrielle’s wet hair.

"No. But when we’re through here, I’ll have one for you." She quipped.

"Great. Well, let’s get ourselves warmed up. Either we build a fire and dry off or we get moving to warm up."

"There isn’t any wood unless you plan on fighting the current back out of this place." Gabrielle reported sounding disappointed.

"Then," Xena rose from the floor pulling Gabrielle up with her, "lead on."


Chapter 7


Xena listened to the water that was moving to the side of their path gauging the depth of the water and the nearness of the walls of the cavern. She could smell the sand that was heavy with dampness and other smells she wasn’t familiar with. Gabrielle’s arm was resting lightly on her arm pressing which direction they needed to head in to keep to what she felt was a path in the cavern. Gabrielle kept up a soft steady description of where they were.

Gabrielle felt comforted and reassured with her contact with Xena. She could feel the muscles in her arm tighten then relax as she described different things she was seeing in the gray shadows of the cavern. She could not find where the light’s source was but it was just enough light for her to see shadows, so it was better than nothing. Noises that had her heart beating turned out to be things that were caught in the rushing waters or lodged up against rocks. The tension in the muscles under her hand on Xena’s arm told her that the noises were also affecting her.

The water suddenly disappeared as they rounded a bend. It disappeared into a fissure. The sand changed to dirt beneath their feet and Gabrielle could feel some of it being kicked up by her dragging feet. She was getting tired.

"What’s that smell?" Xena asked suddenly as Gabrielle was concentrating on guiding the two of them around another bend that dropped off into darkness. There wasn’t room for them to walk abreast so she had moved Xena’s hands to the side of the wall and both of them were inching along crab-like.

"Uggh!" Gabrielle gagged as she rounded the corner and it hit her full in the lungs. "I don’t know. It smells like something ripe into its rotting stage." She tried not to lose her concentration, as she moved her feet cautiously sideways not daring to look down. She hated heights. It didn’t matter whether she could see over the edge or not. Xena was lucky on this one...sort of.

Suddenly her foot slipped over empty space and if Xena’s hand had not grabbed her elbow in an iron grasp, she didn’t know how far down she would have fallen. Her head banged against the side of the wall and for a moment saw stars.

"Gabrielle!" Xena’s hand moved to her head not daring to pull her toward her for their footing was precarious.

"I’ll be all right. Let me catch my breath."

"Can you see anything?" Xena asked after a few moments.

Gabrielle looked around her as much as she could. There was a missing space on their path. It would require them to jump over a space a good five strides wide. Surely there was some other way! Gabrielle looked around and could only see Xena waiting for her description.

"Well," Gabrielle took a deep breath. "there is this break in our path. It’s about five of my strides wide." She added as an after thought. "And, I can’t see the bottom." Nor do I want to, she thought.

"Hmmm. Can you see anything on the other side?" Xena asked.

Gabrielle leaned forward hopping to see detail in the gray shadows. "It looks like...there is something sticking a root...yea, it’s a root and there is the remains of a tree sticking out of the side of the wall along the path! How can a tree be this far down?" She shook her head.

"Well, why don’t you go first and then step back giving me enough room to land. Tap the ground in the middle of the path with your foot so I can hear where you are."

Gabrielle looked at her unperturbed friend. Her chest tighted as she knew they couldn’t go back and find another route. This was the only way. The idea of Xena leaping blindly filled her with trepidation. She hated the idea that she had to leap across the empty space, but for Xena to do it blindly brought up her own fears of her possible failure. What would that do to Xena?

She felt Xena’s hand on her arm then a kiss on her shoulder.

"Don’t think of anything but placing both feet one stride past the edge of the other side. Picture it in your head. See yourself landing just where you want to land. Keep practicing this in your head until you feel ready." She directed.

Gabrielle closed her eyes and could feel the warmth of Xena’s hand on her shoulder. She had to do it. As she mentally practiced the jump she pushed the knowledge of darkness below them or thoughts of what would happen if she miss stepped down into her unconscious.

"I can do this." Gabrielle mumbled under her breath. She closed her eyes seeing herself reaching her goal, the successful jumping across the chasm. She felt her muscles move, her blood pumping, her feet land safely on the other side. She kept mentally going through the motions, feeling her body make the right moves until she felt herself ready. Gabrielle stepped closer to the edge and focused on the other side, one pace beyond the edge. There was barely room for her to place both feet together! She pushed the panic down and refocused.

"I can do this." She told herself firmly. "Xena needs me to do it right. Simple as Artemis drawing back her bow." She whispered to herself. Her muscled thighs tightened as she bent her knees for the spring, breathing in slowly and at the exhalation launching herself to the other side. The continuing path on the other side of the chasm was about as thin as it was on the other side. And the root, she found out painfully, was protruding so far onto the path that it hit her in the shoulder. As she landed on the path, the impact with the root sent her sideways causing her to lose her footing. One foot went over the side of the path while she frantically tried to grab the offending root to recapture her balance. She missed the root and she fell into the blackness. A ledge below stopped her fall, which wasn’t very far down but Gabrielle had the breath knocked out of her and wasn’t able to say anything to alleviate her partners anxiety.

Xena was listening to Gabrielle as she muttered to herself and prepared for her jump. She smiled to herself. She listened to her push off, and the foot falls on the other side, the impact of Gabrielle’s body into something and the feet scraping the sides of the drop trying to regain balance. She heard the fall and the impact. She knew the sounds of someone who had the breath knocked out of them. Where did she go? The sounds of Gabrielle were not where she had first landed so she had slipped over the edge. But the drop was not far. Xena struggled with her first impulse to make a reckless jump and rescue her friend. Her better sense told her to wait as putting herself in needless danger would make things worse.

Gabrielle focused on the ceiling of the cavern as she let her body struggle with the panic of getting air into her lungs. And to make it worse it was the horrible smell her lungs were trying to drag in. Gabrielle felt confident that Xena’s hearing would give her an idea of what had happened and she wouldn’t do anything rash until she was back on her feet.

"Gabrielle. Take it slow." Xena’s voice softly told her from a distance. It was comforting to hear Xena’s reassurance and that Xena indeed knew she was all right.

Finally Gabrielle was able to roll onto her side and sit up cautiously bringing her breathing back to normal. It was dark where she was. She moved her bruised shoulder around trying to get some of the soreness out of it, then brushed her palms on her skirt to rid her hands of the small stones that had become embedded in them from her fall. She felt around her trying to get some idea of what she landed on.

"Xena, I’m alright. Hold on and let me try to figure out where I am. It’s very dark here." Using her hands she could feel there was a drop to her left. She easily found a pebble to toss down to get a sense of what she had to look forward to if she fell over again. She strained to hear it hit a bottom.

"It’s a long drop into a shallow stream." Xena commented from her perch.

"Goddess the woman’s hearing never ceases to amaze me." Gabrielle muttered to herself. Pushing herself close to the wall Gabrielle felt for something to help her get back to the path above her. She found nothing as the dirt crumbled beneath her hands.

"Can you touch the top of the path above you?" Xena asked. She didn’t drop that far, Xena thought.

Gabrielle reached up but was not able to get even her fingers the on the lip of the ledge. "No, not even." She returned disappointed.

"Okay. Describe what you saw when you landed on the path."

Gabrielle closed her eyes for a moment and tried to remember her brief moment after landing on the path. "The ground is sandy and slippery. The root comes out further than what I thought. Maybe about two hands width into the path. The path is as wide as where you’re standing." Gabrielle paused as she pushed down her fear for Xena’s safety. How was Xena going to leap this without her sight? If she could see it would be nothing as her athleticism would easily adjust as she had done countless of times in the past. Gabrielle couldn’t help the sigh that escaped. She laid her head on her arm that was still pressed against the wall she needed to climb and let a few tears escape.

Xena didn’t wait long to make her leap. She had been listening to Gabrielle’s voice to know just where she was and the echo of the wall to know how close she was to the wall. She easily jumped the space and as her body felt the closeness of the root to just below her right breast she twisted her body making a successful grab at the root and letting herself swing into the wall above Gabrielle. She carefully lowered herself to where she could hear Gabrielle’s breathing. There wasn’t much room on the path, as Gabrielle had said. Her extended hand and felt Gabrielle’s head as it was resting on her arm. Gabrielle’s breath caught as she felt the familiar touch on her head.

"Xena. You never fail to amaze me." She gratefully acknowledged.

"Hmm. Well, give me your hand and let’s get you back up here with me."

Gabrielle reached up and felt Xena’s strong grip around her wrist. As Xena effortlessly started to pull her up the sand started her sliding over the edge with the added weight.

"Hades!" She muttered as she could not grab onto anything at the angle she was in. Xena felt herself going over the side. She released her hold on Gabrielle not wanting to endanger her. She felt her body drop over Gabrielle’s who was pressed against the wall. Xena continued to fall over the side of Gabrielle’s shelf, down into the darkness that both knew was a long drop into a shallow pool of water. Gabrielle fell after her as her precarious position on the ledge was loosened when Xena’s body hit hers.

Xena bounced a few times off the side of the cliff and dislodged bits of dirt as she plummeted down. Her hands instinctively grabbed at the sides of the cliff hopping they would find something to grab onto and they did. Something was protruding from the side of the cliff and she managed to get one hand around it and then the other. Xena lifted her legs away from the cliff and some how made a scissors catch of Gabrielle’s falling body. The jolt of her falling weight strained her grip on their lifesaver.

"How are we doing?" Xena asked her through gritty teeth as the dirt that both dislodged finally stopped falling on them.

"Welll," Gabrielle took a breath and let it out to get the tension out of her chest. "It seems we’re just hanging out here and..." She took a breath to quiet her nerves, "we need to get back on track."

"Hmm. You’re right. Do you have any suggestions?" Xena asked as she shifted her hands to try to feel what the sides of the cliff were like.

"Nah. I’ll let you handle this one." Gabrielle concentrated on getting the nerve to open her eyes. She needed to see what was going on so she could help Xena find footholds and handholds. She couldn’t push the feeling out of her mind that they were dangling over the side of a cliff.

"Gabrielle." Xena’s voice sounded strained. "I want you to slowly feel with your feet, for any place you can hold your weight.

"Right." Gabrielle moved as slow as she could into a position where she could place her feet against the wall they were dangling from. With her fingers she also felt for something she could grab onto.

There were a lot of possibilities but as soon as she put weight on what she thought was a secure place the earth crumbled. By the sound of the falling debris they were still too far up to safely drop the rest of the way down.

"Gabrielle. Toss something off to your left." Xena directed her.

Both listened as Gabrielle’s handful of dirt and pebbles hit something solid right away.

"Can you see anything?" Xena asked her friend.

‘Well, it’s pretty dark around us." Gabrielle paused and looked above them where she had been able to at least see shadows.

"Ahhhhhh!" Gabrielle screamed. Gabrielle’s body’s reaction to her fear loosened Xena’s grip on the iron ring that she was hanging onto.

"Xena! Xena!" She sobbed frightened.

"Gabrielle! I’ve got you. Tell me what it is that’s scarring you?" She tried to send calming energy down through her legs that were firmly wrapped around Gabrielle’s shaking body.

"There’s something real big above us." She croaked. "It’s moving around up there!" She lowered her voice fearfully.

Xena could feel loose bits of dirt falling on her hands but she heard no movement nor felt any presence. She didn’t know if the dirt was the aftermath of their fall or from something or someone above them.

"Gabrielle, whatever you see, it is up there and we are down here. I hardly think it would want to &3150; hang out with us" Xena attempted a bit of humor for her friend’s benefit.

Gabrielle shuddered as she closed her eyes. To take her mind off what may be above them she tried to peer though the darkness at what was around them. Was that a ledge? Gabrielle held her breath as she tried to focus on a pale line that showed through the darkness. Was that where she had tossed the dirt previously? Gabrielle pulled some of the crumbling wall out and tossed it in the general direction.

Xena could hear the dirt fall. She was hopeful.

"Gabrielle. I’m going to swing you over where you keep tossing the dirt. I want you to see if you can find a secure place to climb." "Gabrielle." She gently called her friend again.

Gabrielle squeezed her hands on Xena’s taught thigh and nodded. She didn’t trust her voice. She shuddered again. It was a big shadow, she thought.

"Gabrielle, remember we’re facing our fears of things that are within ourselves."

"Right, right." Gabrielle managed to get out. That didn’t get the image of what she had seen out of her mind. Even with her eyes tightly closed the image of a dark hairy form leaning over to grab her was very real.

"Come on, Gabrielle. Focus." Xena started to swing in the direction she had heard the rocks Gabrielle had tossed fall.

"It’s good." Gabrielle reported after a few swings gave her glimpses of the lighter colored ledge. It appeared to be wider as she was swung closer for a look. "It looks like another ledge." She made an effort to do as Xena directed and focus on the immediate.

"Okay. I’m going to release you over that way. Do you think you can get a grip on it. It sounds like it’s higher than us." Xena grunted as she felt her body protesting at the treatment it had been through that day.

"Yea. A bit." Then a moment of doubt hit her. "I...what if I can’t ..."

"The trick is not to think of what you can’t do." Xena instructed as she began swinging in the direction again feeling the bits of the wall crumble as her body rubbed against its surface.

"Because it always seems to work for you doesn’t mean that it will for us mere mortals." Gabrielle returned half-heartedly.

"I happen to be one of those mere mortals, Gabrielle." Xena grunted as she scraped something on the next wide swing. She released Gabrielle and listened for her progress as she prepared to quickly follow her on her return swing back. She didn’t want to leave Gabrielle alone for too long.

Xena had easily flicked Gabrielle’s body high enough that she landed on her side on the faint ledge. Gabrielle quickly moved back as far as she dared on the ledge and patted her hand on the ground remembering to use sound to give Xena an idea of where she was. Xena landed lightly right next to her.

Gabrielle pulled Xena close to her. Both women felt tired and bruised.

"Why don’t we get some rest, shall we?" Xena suggested as she lifted her hand to hold the hand that was softly caressing her face. The ledge was wide enough for them to sit with their backs to the wall and not have to dangle their legs in empty space. Something Gabrielle didn’t think she would have been able to handle.

Gabrielle didn't need a second invitation but first she looked around remembering Xena's practice of always scouting out their rest area to look for weak points or anything that was out of the ordinary. Xena was using her other senses to get an idea of where they were. She didn't want any surprises like loosened rocks above them or unpleasant visitors while they both rested. She listened to Gabrielle’s foot movement as she investigated their rest area.

"I don't see anything beyond this ledge." Gabrielle commented as she settled against Xena's side. In fact she couldn't see anything in the darkness that surrounded them. Gabrielle had to steel herself to glance once more above them where even the gray light was no longer showing shadows. Maybe it was dark outside. She shivered.

Xena could hear the Bard's breathing deepen as she quickly fell into her usual sound sleep. Xena stroked her arm thoughtfully. She didn't think there were many times that Gabrielle wasn't able to sleep soundly when she snuggled against her. She smiled gently and sighed. She needed a plan. There had to be another way off the ledge without them doing a free fall into the chasm below. Maybe the reason why Gabrielle couldn't see anything was because it was nighttime outside of the cavern. That would mean that the source of the pale lighting was from an opening somewhere above them. They needed to go up instead of down.

Xena didn't know exactly when she nodded off but her dreams picked up where she was working out how to get off the ledge with their lives intact and without any more mishaps.


Chapter 8

What is Real?

Xena could hear Gabrielle grabbing crumbling dirt to get a handhold on the wall. They were making good progress up the side of the wall but it was slow and arduous. Suddenly Xena could hear a frantic flurry of movement as it sounded like Gabrielle lost her toehold and started to fall grabbing or scrapping the side of the wall they were scaling. Without thinking Xena launched herself to wrap herself around Gabrielle as they both did a bouncing fall down the cliff. Xena grunted and cursed as the fall was broken by protruding debris that stuck out of the cliff side that Xena's body could not protect Gabrielle completely from. Xena blotted out the damage that her body was sustaining and finally knew darkness before they hit the ground.

Consciousness came to Xena painfully as her body was hurting from many different places. It took a while to push back the nausea so she could focus on where she was and what had happened. "Ga...." Her throat tightened up. She slowly took a deep breath to still the pain. "Gabrielle?" She croaked. She tried to move but couldn't. Lying still for a moment, she tried to listen for Gabrielle's breathing instead. She caught a sound. Water. It was all around her. She was lying in a shallow water pool. She became aware of water tickling her ears as it slowly moved around her. She didn't feel cold. She didn't feel anything. The panic started and the rolling nausea of feeling powerless had her heart beating at a frantic pace.

"Hades!" Her unseen eyes opened wide. The water was rising! She focused on the sounds around her. Where was Gabrielle? Was that a groan? "Gabrielle?" She tried again. Nothing. The water was beginning to cover her face. She could feel the panic again push over her like a heavy blanket. The water continued to rise as Xena fought to work out a plan. She needed a plan!

Gabrielle felt herself loose her precarious balance and fall into the dark abyss below. The fall seemed to take a long time. The scream that was poised to let loose was not able to get past her frozen throat muscles. Someone grabbing one of her hands suddenly stopped her fall. The sudden stop pulled her shoulder muscles. The pain was unbearable as thoughts of a dislocated shoulder crossed her mind. She looked up at her rescuer, expecting the sight of her dark haired companion. The scream that had been frozen in her throat came out as she looked into the black eyes of the hairy form that had been on the ledge earlier. She tried to resist the pull from her rescuer but the form kept drawing her near.


Xena's heart jumped into her throat, as she became aware of something struggling up against her. "Hmm. What?" She finally got out, arousing herself from a nightmare.

A fist glanced off her chin and she could hear Gabrielle whimpering as she tried to push away from Xena’s enfolding arms, which were protectively wrapped around her sleeping form.

Xena still could not see but her awareness of where they were came back quickly.

"Gabrielle, your having a bad dream. Wake up." Xena coaxed as she loosened her grip around Gabrielle but would not let her friend’s struggling body move out of her protective embrace.

Gabrielle’s eyes came open suddenly. There was the same darkness ahead but looking up she could see the gray shadows on the ceilings. She could smell Xena and recognize the familiar strong arms holding her. She shivered and burrowed into Xena’s comforting body.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Xena's quiet voice soothed her as a callused hand stroked her forehead.

Gabrielle took a deep breath and shook her head. "I - can't remember what it was, just that it was scary."

"Is it light yet?" Xena asked her companion, kissing her on her head.

"I," Gabrielle took another deep breath and let it out to clear her feelings from the dream. "guess it must be daylight outside of this place because I can see shadows like yesterday."

"Can you see any way off this ledge?"

Gabrielle was silent for a while then she made to get up. Xena released her. Gabrielle walked around the ledge. "Yea. There's a rock blocking a portion of this ledge. I can smell the air that is coming from it so there must be an opening behind the rock."

"But?" Xena could hear reluctance in Gabrielle's voice as she stood up.

"Well...I'll let you judge for yourself." Gabrielle's hand moved to Xena's arm as she guided her to the rock. Xena caught the unmistakable stench they had smelled earlier. Xena also could feel a vacuum of air where they stood. There must be a vent above them for the odor wasn’t even detected by her until she stood in front of the rock. Xena placed her hands on the rock and felt around the open space.

"Where can we safely roll this rock?" Xena asked.

"If you want to roll it off the ledge, straight back. If you want to roll it to the side it would be a tight fit."

"Let's try to move it to the side rather than dropping it over the ledge. No telling what it will drop on." Xena felt a hand on her wrist.

"Xena, I have a bad feeling about this. It’s here for a reason and that smell. I don’t think I can go walking into a room smelling of nothing but that." Gabrielle admitted.

"Can you see any other way off this ledge? If you do, please let me know because I'm not any more thrilled about that stench than you." Xena waited.

Gabriella patted Xena’s arm and again looked over their situation and tried to find another way off the ledge.

"There is no other way, Xena." Gabrielle reported a few minutes later in a downhearted tone.

Xena felt around the large rock for a grip. As she was moving for a better position she felt something shift under her feet. She grabbed for Gabrielle but Gabrielle had instinctively moved quickly to Xena’s side when the ground beneath them started to move.

"Great!" Xena was thinking. "What now?" She continued to work on the rock not waiting to find out that their ledge was going to crumble beneath them. The rock moved slightly and Xena could feel Gabrielle’s added weight pushing it to the side.

Xena knew they had a wide enough passage when the stink from the opening wrapped around them like a thick suffocating blanket on a warm night. Xena could hear Gabrielle gagging.

"Come on." She felt for Gabrielle’s elbow. "Let’s get through this quickly." She had walked through many battlefields after the sun had cooked the corpses on the wasted fields looking for retrievable weapons. The stink was just as bad. She had learned not to breathe deeply and to think of other things.

She could feel Gabrielle shake as her stomach tried to get rid of what her lungs could not. But she managed between the retching to lead them forward. Gabrielle stumbled and Xena’s hand on her shoulder quickly moved to support her.

"What can you see in here?" Xena asked partially to take Gabrielle’s mind off the unpleasantness of where they were.

Gabrielle stopped walking for a moment as if to take a survey of where there were. "The ceiling is real low."

Something Xena guessed by the way the sound of their presence bounced back.

"It’s pretty dark. To the left of us I can see mineral deposits raising from the ceiling and hanging from it. There is &3150; hmm, a strange glow from over there." Gabrielle’s voice lowered as she studied the sight. For what seemed like a long moment Xena could only hear Gabrielle’s shallow breathing. Xena touched her shoulder gently. She felt her Bard jump from the touch.

"What’s going on Gabrielle?" She asked softly, brushing her fingers against the soft cheek that felt a little gritty from their exertions. That must not be the side she rests her head on me with, she thought smiling to herself, or it would have been rubbed clean by now.

"Nothing." Xena could hear a soft sigh. "Nothing much." Gabrielle caught Xena’s hand and squeezed it.

"I was remembering when I had eaten that nutbread with henbane. I had a before I passed out. That was before you came back for me."

"You never mentioned it." Xena commented as she waited patiently for Gabrielle to continue. It must be important for she wasn’t moving to get out of the stinking place, Xena thought.

"I had forgotten about it until now." She admitted softly. "Seeing those mineral deposits hanging from the ceiling reminded me."

"Do you want to talk about it?" Xena offered. Not the best place to make the offer, but opportunity and practicality didn’t always synchronize, especially where their lives were concerned, Xena thought with irony.

Gabrielle wrinkled her nose at the continuing offensive smell. She idly thought about how her cloths were probably like a sponge soaking up the smell. She was hopping she could get rid of it once they were out of here.

"I think we need to get out of this place." She remarked as if somewhere else. However, she remained standing looking back at the soft glow around the long mineral structures. Weird shadows danced on the low ceiling as if reflecting off something. Candles?

"Gabrielle." Xena’s voice brought her back to her job. "What does the rest of this place look like?"

"Right. Well, let’s see, "she inadvertently took a deep breath to collect herself and nearly collapsed from the reaction of her body to the deep intake of the revolting air. Xena pulled Gabrielle’s shaking body into her and make circular motions on her bent back trying to relax her body as it finished its business of objecting to the abuse her lungs were taking retching nothing of substance.

Xena finally released her as the spasms stopped. Gabrielle's stomach muscles and throat were sore from being turned inside out and having nothing to expel.

"Let's get out-of- here." Gabrielle croaked. The problem was, where was she to lead them. "There is only darkness to the right of us and a wall in front of us." She finished.

"Why not head for the formations that..."Xena didn’t get to finish her suggestion as Gabrielle’s grip on her arm tightened and she could feel her shaking her head.

"No. I don’t want to go over there."

Xena could feel her tugging at her arm trying to draw her toward where she said it was dark. At least they would both be on equal footing where sight was concerned, Xena thought. But she didn’t want to let Gabrielle get away with this fear. Something was nagging at her that it wasn’t right that Gabrielle was pulling toward the darkness when the lighted area should be a better choice. One of them had to see what was going on around them.

"Gabrielle, stop pulling. Tell me what’s wrong." Xena insisted.

"I &3150; just don’t think that..." Gabrielle stopped moving them forward.

"Didn’t you say there was light there?"

"Well, yes, but...I don’t know where it’s coming from."

"If there is light there we may be able to find it’s source. The ceiling is low enough to see something." Xena reasoned. "We may be able to get out if the opening is large enough."

"Yea. Right." Gabrielle sighed inwardly, but Xena could feel the shoulders move in mirrored response to her mental sigh.

Reluctantly Gabrielle started to pick her way over to the lighted area. The ground was littered with rocks of varying sizes that could easily twist the ankle of a misplaced foot. She waited patiently as Xena felt around with her own foot before moving her weight forward for another careful placement of the other foot. Progress was slow and Gabrielle was content with this task taking up her full attention. She looked up every now and then to make sure their zig-zag course was still in the general direction of the light.

Xena knew when Gabrielle looked toward the lighted area for she could feel little shivers run down her back. Xena had moved her hand to her back so that she could walk directly behind her following her foot steps as close as possible. Xena knew how dangerous it would be for her to twist an ankle now. She healed quickly from injuries but even a day or two to heal was not good, and Gabrielle would not be able to carry her. Xena couldn't help chuckling at the memory of Gabrielle trying to carry her when she had pretended to be knocked senseless during one of their more leisure and playful journeys.

Gabrielle stopped and looked up at her friend startled. "What?" She demanded impatiently.

"Oh, nothing much. Just realizing what a burden I can be sometimes."

For a moment Gabrielle was silent as if turning this over in her mind. A smile appeared on her face as she pictured Xena's weight on her...Stop that! She chided herself firmly as her heart beat faster. "Yea, well sometimes it's not so bad." She responded under her breath.

Xena's eyebrow quirked upward. She looked in the direction where she could see a difference in her darkness and waited for Gabrielle to resume their progress.

"I can hear trickling around us," Xena commented, "and smell something like a mineral spring."

"Yea. There's three pools up a head." Gabrielle informed her as she kept her eyes focused on the ground before them. Gabrielle almost stumbled when she realized what she had said. No, this is not the same place. I'm getting the two places mixed up.

The ground beneath them started to change as they neared the rim of what looked like a small crater that was filled with water. There were three pools of water within the crater, and if the water table rose about a hand or two higher they would become one. Gabrielle found a comfortable place for them to sit. She glanced up at the ceiling to see if she could spot where the light was filtering in. The ceiling over the water was higher and the reflection from the water, which seemed to glow, gave the ceiling eerie shadows. It wasn't light enough to pick out any definitions or openings in the darkened spots on the ceiling. Gabrielle looked around her not wanting to look in the water. She left Xena leaning against one of the mineral deposits that rose from the ground as she went to stand near the edge of the pool.

Xena noted that Gabrielle didn't sit near her as she normally would. She looked around again noting that the once velvety blackness was giving way to gray tones. She moved her fingers to various pressure points for sight, finding them not surprisingly sore. Ahh. Much better, she thought as a shot of color passed across her vision. Just a little more time.

"Gabrielle. Why don't you tell me a story." Xena suggested, as she settled more comfortably against the rock formation Gabrielle had settled her next to.

"Huh?" Gabrielle turned to her companion a short distance away. She had been unable to resist looking into the water. She remembered what she had hidden away in her memory. After the last week of dreams it wasn't as shocking, she realized. Did she want to share it with Xena? When she had first had the vision she and Xena were not lovers and she had to admit, it was something even a few months into their relationship she would have been - hmmm. Would it have bothered Xena? Was it a desire from her darker side? Hadn't she been the one to tell Xena everyone had a dark side and sometimes it was a necessary strength to use to get through tough times?

"Are you ready to tell me what's bothering you?" Xena asked not moving closer to Gabrielle whose outline she was beginning to see.

Gabrielle's sigh was audible, followed by an embarrassed laugh. "What kind of dreams have you been having lately?" She asked instead looking at her hands that were clenched across her knees.

Xena let out a loud snort. "The kind that would make a week in Aphrodite's House of Sensuous Delight pale in comparison!" Xena's face actually went red. "And you?" She asked quickly.

"Hmm. I can't say I've had much experience in one but..." Gabrielle giggled nervously, and then felt the shivers of desire that threatened to consume her. She could feel the now familiar heat of carnal desire as her womanhood became engorged with anticipation. Gabrielle could smell her own moist essence. She shook her head to try to rid the fog that seemed to fill her mind.

Xena's sense of smell also picked up Gabrielle's arousal. "So, what has this place got to do with our dreams for the last week and a half?" She asked softly.

Xena could see the shadowed head of her companion and lover bow and then lift to look into the pool.

"Remember when I ate that nut bread laced with henbane?" Gabrielle asked hesitantly.

"Yeaa. You became an instant success as a choir master." Xena smirked.

"Well...I - huh. Well," She swallowed with difficulty and closed her eyes. Her eyes quickly opened again for the images of her vision readily came to mind.

Xena waited in silence. She watched Gabrielle as her vision was starting to see color and more detail to her form.

"I...had this vision or dream...I don't know what it was actually." She tightened her hands around her knees.

"Just tell it like a story." Xena quietly coaxed.

"Yea, right." Gabrielle put her hands over her face. She had never told a sexual story and one that she played a major role in. Why tell Xena this anyway? Gabrielle looked back into the pool of water. What was it about the pool of water? Without realizing it she started her story.


Chapter 9

Visions and Dreams

Gabrielle had nearly finished the nutbread when the effects of the henbane started. She found herself mesmerized by the reflection of the light's movement in the pool of wate. Then her thoughts moved easily to Xena and how nice she looked in her leathers and riding golden Argo across a green field of ankle deep grass. She sighed as she pictured the long dark tresses billowing behind her as she leaned forward on Argo with a look of concentration on her face, blue eyes glinting like jewels through slits. She needed to focus on the present, she had reminded herself weakly, thinking of once again trying to talk to the young boy they had rescued. The next thing she knew she was in another setting.

She was talking to an alchemist in one of the small towns they had stopped in. There wasn't much business in the village or at the inn due to they had arrived the day after the village's major festival to Pythion Apollo. The inhabitants were slow in getting back to their usual business. The innkeeper offered the use of one of the small huts near the outside of the village ring since the rooms in the inn were not cleaned yet. He had also given most of his staff a few days off to recover from the week of little sleep and plenty of work. The owner of the inn had three huts he rented out when large families or groups came into town and wanted to stay together.

"Now you're sure it won't last long?" Gabrielle asked the old man again.

"Nope. You must like that horse a lot to be concerned about how long it's going to be out." The old alchemist remarked as he handed the small pouch of powder to her.

Gabrielle smiled sweetly at the man. "Well, its only a small sliver we need to remove and she just hates to have her belly touched with a knife." Gabrielle lied.

The old man shook his head. He wouldn't take a knife to his own horse without knocking it out. A kick from those powerful hooves could put anyone out of service for a long time.

Gabrielle put the small pouch into her bag carefully. So far, so good, she smiled wickedly as she continued her way back to the hut mentally rechecking her plans. She didn't want to chance giving Xena a dose that normal people would take because Xena's body had a defense system of natural self-preservation that would probably neutralize the drug quickly. She just needed Xena out for few minutes.

Gabrielle looked around their rented hut. 'Xena must be still seeing to new shoes for Argo and herself.' Steam was coming from the tub placed in the center of the room with buckets near the fire keeping hot to rewarm the cooling waters. The food was sitting on the table. ‘Yep.’ She went back to the trunk that she had found some interesting things in and lifted the lid.

Gabrielle couldn't help the giggle that escaped her lips as she studied the leather bracelets and anklets attached to chains and other toys of pleasure. This was going to be an interesting night. The thought of her plans sent a shiver of anticipation to her center, releasing a liquid fire that coated her underpants. She closed her eyes for a moment then opened them and once more went through her plan to get Xena to sit on the bed before the drug knocked her out. ‘Right.’ She rummaged in one of Xena's bags and brought out something Xena had been hiding from her. An impish smile was on her face as she placed it and it’s harness on one side of the bed and covered it with a cloth.

'Now the drug.' Quickly she pulled out her pouch and pulled one of the mugs toward her. The pitcher of ale was near filled to the top. ‘Good.’ She poured some of the ale in the mug and swirled it around the powder at the bottom of the mug. She stopped for a moment and listened. She could hear the familiar tread on the porch.

The door swung open and Xena entered the room.

Gabrielle turned to look at her, holding the mug in front of her. The glare from the outside outlined a familiar tall dark frame in the door sill, with hair looking wildly out of place.

"This looks nice. I was just going to ask you if you wanted to go and eat." Xena was in an excellent mood Gabrielle noted. Xena surveyed the small banquet on the table, the tub and Gabrielle holding the mug out to her.

"I thought it would be nice to take advantage of our privacy." Gabrielle smiled toward her and handed her the mug of ale that she had filled to the rim of the mug.

"Hmm. Thanks." She took a deep drink without looking at it and glanced around the room. "Why don't we take a bath before we eat." She smiled suggestively at the Bard.

"Sounds nice." ‘All right, so far, so good,’ Gabrielle thought.

Xena laid the half emptied mug down and started over toward Gabrielle to help her undress, using her lips and hands to encourage Gabrielle's quick disrobing. Gabrielle's hands shook as she undid Xena's leathers and let her hands slide down her wrists thinking of where they would be in a short time. She groaned at the thought, letting her head rest between her tall companion’s breasts that were freed from their linen undertunic.

Xena looked down at her Bard's face. Smiling she lifted her and walked her over to the tub. Xena sat her on the edge of the tub and checked the water. "Not bad." She lifted Gabrielle effortlessly over the rim and dropped her unceremoniously into the tub.

"Hey!" Gabrielle sputtered when she came up and grabbed the Warrior Princess who had slid in beside her pushing the larger woman back against the tub and locking her lips against a smiling mouth, muffling the chuckles. For a while they contented themselves with a leisure version of bathing each other and other things of pleasure. As Xena moved Gabrielle onto her lap, lips nibbling on her ear, Gabrielle was trying to figure out how to get Xena to finish her drink.

"Let's get out of the tub and get something to eat." Gabrielle breathlessly announced as Xena’s hands moved along her body.

"Is food always your priority?" Xena whispered in her ear, as a finger tweaked her nipple that was below the water. Gabrielle's breath caught and she would have slid under had she not been sitting on Xena's lap whose bent legs formed a chair. The shiver that shot through her from her nipple down to her center had her trembling with desire. For a brief moment she wondered if she was going to have time to get Xena to finish the rest of the drink then on to the bed.

"Xena." Her name came out sounding ragged as Gabrielle had trouble talking when Xena's fingers moved down her stomach and a finger slid between her neither lips, gently stroking her hardening clitoris.

"Hmm?" Xena's fingers kept up their slow movement under the water. Gabrielle was sitting in Xena's lap with her head resting between her breasts. The thought that she only had to move her head to the side to see hard nipples good enough for biting, had her body quivering in anticipation. Xena moved two fingers into her slick vagina, stroking her slowly. Gabrielle groaned and gripped the hand that was pleasuring her, failing to keep herself focused. Xena’s thumb brushed her clitoris that was full and ready to burst like an over- ripe fruit. Gabrielle tried to increase the rhythm but Xena kept it slow, letting the pressure build up until Gabrielle finally let out a moan and gripped Xena’s thighs, pushing down hard on each stroke when finally the climax washed over her.

Gabrielle didn't know where it came from but she found the strength to stand up in the tub breaking the erotic contact after she recovered, ignoring the part of her that objected thinking of the promise of delicious things that still were to come while in the tub.

"Xena." She said in a strained voice. "I'm hungry. We have plenty of time for more of...this." With shaking legs she managed to get out of the tub and toss a towel over to Xena without daring to look into her eyes. ‘Oh, woman!’ She groaned to herself, feeling the moisture that was her own, cover her swollen lips and aching from wanting more.

"Hey, Xena, they have your favorite here...pickled croisus." She took one from the dish and turned toward the tub. Xena caught Gabrielle's hand as she was turning. Gabrielle could feel herself shake with desire making the idea of prolonging her game with Xena a big question, especially since she hadn't even started the game.

‘This is not going to be easy,’ she was thinking as she looked into the blue eyes that told her what Xena was really interested in. Xena's lips nibbled on the croisus letting her tongue tickle Gabrielle's fingers that were holding it then moving to suck on the now empty digits.

A groan escaped Gabrielle’s lips, "Hmm. Listen, Xena." Gabrielle reached behind her and found the ale. "Here," she gulped nervously. "Have a drink. I - ahh. I need something myself." Her voice was a dead give-away that she wanted the same thing as Xena. ‘Well’, she thought, ‘sort of’. The sudden smirk on Gabrielle's face brought one of Xena's eyebrows up.

"I was just thinking," she whispered in a low seductive voice as she watched Xena finish off the ale in one quick gulp, "if you just go over to the bed, I'll bring some food over. I can think of all sorts of ways to feed you."

Xena returned Gabrielle's smirk with one of her own. "Hmmmm." She set the emptied mug on the table and sprawled out on the bed.

"How's this, Gab-ri-elle?" Xena drawled.

Gabrielle looked over toward the bed and nearly dropped the fruit and fruit jelly she had been gathering. Xena was stretching out like she had envisioned her only without the bindings.

"Ahh. Fine - Xena. Oh, just fine."

Xena closed her eyes for a moment then opened them quickly looking surprised. Then they closed again this time not coming back open. Gabrielle watched the taught muscled body relax. She had seldom seen Xena this relaxed even in sleep. Gabrielle quickly put the food next to the bed and started to get the leather cuffs and anklets out of their storage area. She remembered from pictures she had seen in Sappho's library how they went. She worked as quickly as she could, trying to keep her shaking hands from interfering. The bedposts had rings that were made for attaching the bindings. She pulled Xena's arms up over her head and tightened them in place. She then moved to her legs trying not to look at the alluring body. As she tightened the leather anklet around the first leg she pulled her legs wider smelling the sweet aroma of Xena's essence. She then fastened the other ankle in the cuff. She tested the leggings to be sure they were tight enough and then looked over her handiwork. Xena's arms were pulled over her head and her legs were spread apart. Maybe she should have the arms wide apart too. For a moment she was mesmerized as the breasts rose and fell. ‘Better leave it as it is. Right. Now the blindfold.’ She gently lifted Xena's head and fastened the black cloth across Xena's eyes making sure she could breathe.

Now she just had to wait. Or did she? ‘Nope.’ Gabrielle pulled out the leather whip that was in the chest and ran it across Xena's body watching in fascination, as the nipples became hard and the pulse in Xena's neck increased, as if a mere outside stimulation could bring her out of a drug state.

She heard a groan then the familiar tenseness in Xena's muscles returned. Now is when the game begins, Gabrielle thought wickedly.

She watched as Xena tested her bindings. Gabrielle leaned close enough for her breath to tickle the sensitive ears. "How do you feel to be in my power?" She gloated in a low voice.

"I'm real scared." Xena growled, turning her face quickly toward Gabrielle’s.

"Yes, well you think it's nothing right now." She stared at the lips that were now turned toward her. "But I think you'll be singing another tune very soon." She whispered in a lower voice as she moved her lips so they were barely touching. "I'm going to drive you mad with desire." She flicked her tongue on the outside of Xena's mouth that remained closed, tracing the outline and fluttering the tip against the resisting lips. "You're going to be begging me for...release." Gabrielle sucked on Xena's lower lip feeling a slight quiver.

Gabrielle again moved the ends of the whip near Xena's nipples watching as her skin jumped, muscles moving under her skin, and her jaw tightening.


Gabrielle ran the whip down Xena's body flicking it now and then and watching the goose bumps that it brought up. She flicked it again over the mound of soft curling hair where her bud would soon be throbbing with desire. Gabrielle straddled Xena's hips pressing her wet lips against the muscular stomach, letting her wetness trickle down to Xena's sensitive skin. The effect on Xena was predictable as she strained at the bindings. Xena still resisted making any sound. Gabrielle leaned forward knowing that Xena would feel her hardened nub against her skin. Gabrielle leaned down and bit and sucked on Xena's nipples hard until she heard Xena's sharp intake of breath as she struggled to control herself. Gabrielle smiled as she played with the beautiful breasts of her captive warrior. While her mouth was on one, she ran her palm over the other nipple, feeling its hardness erotically work its magic on her hand. She was hopping she was going to last. Gabrielle brought her mouth up slowly to Xena's leaving a trail of moisture from nipples, cleavage, throat, where her pulse was pounding, and along her jaw line.

‘Oh, yes!’ Gabrielle was thinking, this is just ever so fine. She brushed her lips against Xena's again. They were now opened and ready for her. Gabrielle roughly took over her mouth exploring the insides and sucking on the tongue she trapped. She could feel Xena's body tremble and push up against her with her desire. Pulling back Gabrielle refused to let Xena get any more pleasure in her kiss. Instead she ran her tongue on the outside of Xena's lips sucking on them and not letting Xena get a firm kiss. Xena groaned in frustration and Gabrielle could feel her body squirming to get out of her bindings.

"What do you want, Warrior Princess?" Gabrielle asked her with her lips close to Xena's ear. She remembered she had read that what was said was just as important as the physical touches, and in her case that was certainly true.

"You." She breathed.

This is too easy, Gabrielle thought. "When I'm ready, my dark haired Warrior Princess, I will take you! You think this is going to be easy for you?" Gabrielle retorted and sitting up she flicked the whip across the nipples again. This time Xena did groan.

"I want you to beg me, Warrior." She leaned near her ear again. "Beg me to use what you've been hiding in that pouch of yours." Gabrielle felt Xena's muscles tightened under her. "Hmm. So you think you could keep your secret desires from me." She whispered very low in the ear she knew would hear her easily.

Xena groaned and said nothing.

Gabrielle stroked Xena's body in places she knew the Warrior Princess liked and watched as the hips tried to move toward her hand that was cupped over her wet mound. Her finger was touching the throbbing engorged nub and by the amount of wetness that creamed her fingers, she knew she was doing well. She sat astride Xena stroking her in different places, letting Xena wait in anticipation of where the next touch or bite would be.

Gabrielle paused in her teasing and leaned over the bed and picked up the fruit dish. She could feel Xena's body twitch as she let her breasts moved across her captive’s body. She bit into a grape and brushed half of the grape against Xena's lips and when she opened her mouth to take it Gabrielle's tongue moved into her mouth playing with the grape. Withdrawing her lips the next fruit was a strawberry which she slowly smeared across the opened lips then down her face and throat, letting the juice drip into the hollow of her throat. She then proceeded to clean up the sweat trail with her mouth and tongue, feeling Xena's hips move against her as she sucked on the tanned skin.

"Hmm. How much do you want me, beautiful princess?" She asked as she paused to bite her neck.

"Please...take me." Xena panted pleading for relief with her body movements echoing the entreaty. Gabrielle lifted herself from Xena and pushed Xena's hips back down on the bed. "Just...take me?" She purred. "When are you going to ask for it? Hmm."

Gabrielle exchanged the fruit dish with the fruit jelly. She began to smear it on Xena's body liberally leaving large dabs on her nipples. Gabrielle started to lick it up slowly, weaving patterns in the juice and sucking where she knew Xena was sensitive. She left bite marks on Xena's shoulders and deep red marks where she sucked especially hard. She wanted to leave her marks of ownership on her Warrior. When she got to her hard nipples she swirled her tongue around the wrinkled areolas then bit down until she heard a sibilant sound from Xena. She could feel her captive warrior’s body shake as she groaned her pleasure. Gabrielle smiled as she continued to give the same pleasure to the other breast. Xena continued to groan and tried to again move her hips against Gabrielle to relive the pressure that was building up in her.

"Please, Gabrielle. Take me." Xena pleaded hoarsely.

"Take you with what, huh? My mouth?" Gabrielle repositioned herself to blow air over the top of Xena's soaking mound, parting the dark silky hairs. "My fingers?" She stroked the outside of the lips smearing the wetness along the outside of her thighs. She slowly slipped two fingers inside of her scooping out some of her wetness and smearing it on her prisoner's erect nipples then sucking them. Xena groaned again.

"Gabrielle, please take me with" She whispered.

Gabrielle smiled. "Ahh. Capitulation. Surrender? In my own time, dark haired warrior. I want you to know just whose woman you belong to and...why."

She moved her palm over Xena's mound and pushed up against it feeling the engorged clitoris' pulse beating wildly. Xena's groan's were soft interspersed with her name. The room smelled of Xena's sweet sex mixed with her own body smell. Gabrielle watched the sweat gather between Xena's breasts from her effort. Gabrielle reached up to pinch Xena's nipple while she leaned down and sucked on the sensitive nub careful to not let her climax. She sat back up and stroked the legs that were pulled apart and held firmly in place. Her hands seductively massaged her muscled thighs enjoying the feel of the power and the quivers her strokes invoked. She could see Xena's womanhood protruding from the silky hairs, waiting for release.

She reached for the waiting phallus. Gabrielle touched the tip of phallus to Xena's lips then ran it down her throat, around her nipples while she let her other finger play with Xena's throbbing nub. She slid two fingers inside of Xena teasing her as the phallus made its way down her body. Xena's groans were more frequent as the anticipation drew sweat on her face and shoulders.

She rested the phallus on Xena’s stomach while continueing to massage the wet spot between her thighs, smearing the sweet stuff along swollen lips that didn’t need any more moisture. Gabrielle groaned as she drew her face near the mound and let her tongue take a swipe at the swollen lips, sucking juices that surrounded the area. Her tongue slid inside the inflamed core then out and back around the lips and clitois, listening to the moans of her captive. She watched in fascination that as she drew the phallus closer to her bound lover's sensitive center hips rose to meet the tip of the phallus.

Gabrielle plunged the thick toy suddenly, deeply into the core of her lover’s being, listening to a low growl of pleasure in the dark woman’s throat. Gabrielle increased the rhythm resting one hand on the insides her thigh that was wet from the juices of the panting woman. Xena moaned for Gabrielle to push harder, and with each stroke it seemed to go deeper picking up the frantic rhythm Xena's body set. Gabrielle leaned forward grabbing a nipple that was hard between her teeth, sucking and biting as her hand continued to beat a steady rhythm into Xena's slick center with her phallus.

Xena's keening cry built up into a final shout of Gabrielle’s name as she went over the pinnacle. Her sweat soaked body laid back on the bed shivering with the aftermath of her release. Gabrielle moved her mouth down Xena's breast, stomach and dragged her tongue into the wet hairs, feeling the nub start to become hard again as her tongue brushed against it. She moved the shaft a little out of her then slowly moved it back in, eliciting a groan from her bound prisoner. Xena’s legs strained against the bindings. Slowly she removed the phallus.

Gabrielle straddled Xena’s hips, moving to pick up the harness that came with Xena’s toy. She slid it under Xena’s hips, fastened the ends and slid the phallus into its place.

Xena shifted her hips a little and the phallus that Gabrielle had strapped on her moved temptingly. Gabrielle ran her hands along the outside of Xena’s stretched legs, bringing them both up and around to her inner thighs, and moved one hand to her erect nipple, the other she slid up the phallus, knowing Xena would feel the stroke as the base rested against her center. She stroked the phallus, bringing her hand down several times into Xena’s wet cente..

"Would you like me to ride you, Princess?"

Xena licked her lips and nodded.

"Like a wild woman on her horse, pressing into her saddle, feeling the movement of her mount underneath her." She breathed in the ear that was peeking out from behind dark hair.

Xena groaned then nodded again.

Gabrielle brought her face down and reached her tongue around the base of the phallus, tickling, then running the tongue through the hairs, then up the base of the shaft, tasting Xena's essence. She lifted herself above rod, feeling an increase of lubricant in her core in anticipation. Gabrielle didn’t bother to gradually work it inside her but pushed her body down on to the rod, groaning as her insides quickly made room for what penetrated into the molten center. Xena grunted as Gabrielle bounced on her stomach, bringing her hips up to help with the penetration. Gabrielle groaned at the fullness inside her, then started a quick rhythm, feeling her own desire finally able to express itself. Gabrielle breath was coming in groans as she relished in the penetration she controlled and the hips that were struggling to meet hers. Her lips sucked on a part of Xena’s shoulder as she continued to pump her lover, feeling the friction, the tightness and the slow build up of her own climax...then the sudden rush... a scream of Xena’s name and small bucks against the captive woman’s hips as little spasms continued to ripple inside her pushing against the fullness of the shaft. Slowly, she pulled herself off the phallus, groaning at the emptiness it left.

Gabrielle started to lick and kiss her way down Xena’s body, while her hands undid the harness, then continued down one leg, toward the ankle, releasing the bindings. She did the same for the other, then made her way up Xena's body and arms to do the same to the cuffs around her wrists. Her hips were over Xena’s breasts as she undid the wrist cuffs.

As her arms were loosened, Xena pulled her into her arms and rolled over Gabrielle pulling her mask off and covering her lover's mouth with a passionate kiss.

"Well, my warrior princess, how did you like my surprise?" Gabrielle later asked her when both were snuggled against each other.

Xena was quiet for a while. "You know...paybacks are in order, don't you?" She asked in a solemn voice.

"Oh, I’m really scarred now." Gabrielle returned and felt her body shiver in anticipation.

Xena chuckled.

Part II Continues

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