The Warrior Bard --Kira's Scroll
My friends were soon bored by the storyteller, but I was fascinated. I loved the mythic tells that bards told, but this man was not only easy on the eyes and had a pleasant voice, but he also told stories of the only two heroes I wanted to hear about.
His name was Virgil, and by putting together bits and pieces together from what he revealed, I had figured out that he must be the son of Joxer, the wannabe warrior that had traveled with Xena and Gabrielle for years.
He told several of the familiar tales of Xena and Gabrielle’s heroics, and ended with the tragic tale we were already familiar with, the tale of their travels to Jappa and Xena’s death at the hands of a murderous warlord. Yes, it was true that by dying, she had allowed 40000 souls to be released to Paradise, but still, I could see no justification in her death.
The people of Amphipolis demanded Virgil end on a happier tale, so he told the now familiar story of Xena and Gabrielle’s resurrection by Eli. It was one of the most incredible stories ever, and full of hope and the love Xena and her bard shared. The people in the audience applauded their approval and showed their appreciation by pressing dinars into the young man’s hand.
As the people began to filter out the town square, Virgil placed the dinars in his money pouch, then set about packing up his belongings. He had just flung his pack on his back, when I worked up the courage to approach him. When he saw me, he gave me a warm, genuine smile.
“You look a lot like my mother must have when she was younger,” he said.
“Your mother is Meg, right?” I said then, and he nodded. “She looks very much like Xena, doesn’t she?”
He nodded. “She did in her youth anyway,” he answered. “She’s aged twenty-five years, so there is quite a bit of difference now, including about fifty pounds. But you have the looks of a young Xena.”
I smiled my brightest smile, encouraged by his words. It was always said Virgil was enamored with Gabrielle, but from the description of Xena in his tales, he was obviously taken by her as well, maybe just a little intimidated.
“Is that a good thing?” I asked, purposely lowering my voice and taking another step closer.
He swallowed and nodded. “Xena’s gorgeous,” he answered. “It’s a very good thing.”
An hour later, we were sitting on a thick blanket in the woods at the outskirts of Amphipolis. Virgil had plenty of money to stay in the inn, but said he preferred to sleep outdoors on a warm clear night like this one. I told him I understood completely, and if he didn’t mind, I would like to walk him to his campsite. He had smiled, and took my hand, saying he didn’t mind at all.
I guess I’d better introduce myself. My name is Kira and I am around sixteen summers old. It could be fifteen and it could be seventeen. I’m not sure why I believe that, but I do. However, people would usually guess that I was closer to twenty, and I would use that to my advantage.
Now for the weird part…I’m not sure where I come from or if I have a family of my own. I have no conscious memory before about three weeks ago. I woke up in a small hospice in Aphrodite’s temple here in Amphipolis. No one knows how I got there, or what my injuries had been to lead me here.
Whatever the injuries had been, they seemed to be totally healed now. I found myself in exceedingly good shape, and full of energy, and although I didn’t have a dinar to my name, set about finding a place to stay and seeing if anyone could help me piece together who I was.
Somehow, I did know my name was Kira, and I quickly learned that the older folks in town felt I bore a striking resemblance to Xena: The Warrior Princess when she was my age. It took me very little time to learn who Xena was and what her place in this town was. She was born in Amphipolis and had grown to be a beloved hero in their eyes, despite a rocky past.
I quickly found that I liked learning about Xena and her travels with the Blonde Bard of Potodeia, Gabrielle, and there was no shortage of story-tellers here. I spent all the time I could listening to the tales of adventure, thrilling in their exploits, and most of all, thrilling in the love of Xena and Gabrielle. They had a partnership that went beyond friendship and trust, they were soulmates, and it was the most beautiful relationship I could imagine.
“Hey…you in there?”
I was startled out of my daydream by a hand gently shaking my arm, and realized I was still sitting there beside Virgil. “Sorry…” I replied. “I was just thinking.”
I didn’t object when he leaned back against a tree trunk, keeping an arm around me. “What are you thinking about?”
I turned to look him in the eye, and was startled by the closeness of his big brown eyes to mine. “The story you told of Xena and Gabrielle in Jappa,” I answered finally. He somberly nodded.
“Do you know anymore of what happened?” I asked him.
He hesitated and in that pause, told me did indeed know more.
“I uh…would rather not talk about it,” He said after a few seconds.
I understand,” I replied, “and I respect you for it. I really enjoyed your tales tonight…”
I started to pull away from him, making an effort to stand, but he tightened his hold on me. “Hey, wait a minute,” he said. “Don’t go away…I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”
I let him pull me back beside him, feigning reluctance. “What do you want to know?” he asked.
I thought carefully about that. “How is Gabrielle doing?”
He sighed heavily. “I don’t know,” he answered finally. “She’s so lost, so lonely without Xena…that it’s making her change. And I don’t think the changes are for the good.”
“I thought Xena’s spirit was with her,” I said. “Did you make that up?”
“No…I didn’t make that up…” he wiped his hand across his brow. “Xena’s spirit WAS with Gabrielle for the first couple of weeks. She helped Gabrielle a lot, giving her advice, giving her courage, giving her guidance. She led Gabrielle to where she had buried her leathers, armor, and sword, then helped her get safely out of Jappa and in to Egypt. There, Gabrielle helped defend the royal palace against a group of Romans who were trying to terrorize the place. Gabrielle did very well, and Xena told her she was now the warrior-bard.”
“I know Xena was dead,” I said. “But the way you describe her, it sounds as if she had a physical body. Could she touch Gabrielle?”
“It was difficult for Gabrielle to explain,” he answered. “No, she couldn’t physically touch Xena…but at the same time, Gabrielle could very much sense her. Gabrielle described it as a “warmth”. She knew exactly where Xena was; exactly what Xena was doing; and even when Xena was “touching” her.”
“I know it wasn’t the same as having Xena there physically,” I said then, “But wasn’t that enough for Gabrielle?”
Yet another sigh. “Xena was with her for a couple of weeks,” he answered, “And then suddenly, one day…”
“She wasn’t there?” I guessed.
He nodded. “Gabrielle says Xena just stopped appearing one day, without a trace.”
I thought about that for a second. “Wow, that must have been devastating,” I finally said.
Virgil agreed. “She doesn’t know if she was the cause of Xena’s disappearance or not.”
“Why would she think she could be the cause?”
Virgil narrowed his eyes at me. “Why are you so curious?” he asked.
I shrugged and told him the truth. “I wonder what’s it like to love someone so completely as Xena and Gabrielle did, and then to lose that person. See, I don’t remember anybody from my past, and I’ve never loved anyone to feel any loss. I guess I want to know what that’s like.”
Virgil nodded and gave my hand a squeeze. “Okay,” he said, gently. “I just wanted to make sure you weren’t asking me for the wrong reasons.” I nodded and he continued. “I saw Gabrielle a few days ago, near Crete. We made camp together. She wasn’t very talkative and I could tell something was very wrong. It took a while to get her to tell me what, but she did finally. She said that she had an upsetting conversation with the spirit of Xena.”
“What was it about?” I asked.
He paused, then answered. “You’re right about the love Xena and Gabrielle share. But I don’t know if you’re aware of the depth of their love…I mean…the …nature of it.”
“You mean that they were lovers?” I asked.
He nodded. “Yeah.” He looked vaguely uncomfortable with that. “Gabrielle said that Xena wanted her to find someone to love now that she was gone. She felt that Gabrielle was too young and had too much love to give.”
“That’s lovely,” I said.
“That’s what I thought,” Virgil answered.
“Why do I get the feeling Gabrielle didn’t?” I asked.
“You’re right. She was furious that Xena would suggest such a thing.”
“I don’t get it,” I said. “Why would that make her mad?”
“It took me a while to figure it out, because she was too upset to speak clearly. Then I figured it out. She thought Xena didn’t realize how heart-broken she was by her death. She didn’t think Xena’s love for her was as deep as hers was, and was telling herself Xena was eager to get rid of her.”
“I’m sure that wasn’t the case,” I said. “Xena loved her just as much…she just couldn’t bear to see Gabrielle alone.”
“That’s what I thought too,” Virgil agreed. “But Gabrielle doesn’t seem to be thinking too clearly. And then when Xena just stopped appearing, I think Gabrielle thought that Xena had given up on her.”
“Do you think Xena knew she was going to stop appearing?” I asked.
Virgil shrugged. “I don’t know. The only thing I do know is Gabrielle feels all alone in the world, and she’s more determined than ever not to love anyone else.”
“She’s going to continue to be a crusader for good though, isn’t she?” I asked.
“Oh, I’m sure she will. Gabrielle is naturally a good person. And Xena trained her well. I’m sure Gabrielle will go on and fight injustice in both her and Xena’s name. “ He laid his head back against the tree, and closed his eyes.
“You really care for Gabrielle, don’t you?” I asked him then.
I could see by his face that he more than cared for her. He might even be in love with her. “She’s a wonderful person,” he finally said. “She’s intelligent and funny and kind-hearted and brave and-“
“Whoa!” I protested, putting my hands up. “I get the point!” I smiled at him. “Did you ever tell her how you felt?”
“How could I?” he answered. “When Xena was there all the time. There’s no way I could compete with her.”
I nodded. “What about now?”
He shook his head and I saw tears welling up in his eyes. “No, I tried, but she wouldn’t even let me gets started. She’s too grief-stricken, and she didn’t even want me to travel with her.”
I was genuinely touched by his sympathetic expression. “Maybe over time, she’ll learn to care for you too,” I said.
He nodded with a smile, and wiped his nose on his arm. “Maybe,” he said.
I tried to be non-challant.
“So did Gabrielle say where she was headed next?”
He told me she was going to head to Amazon country, and that was a couple day’s walk from here. I thanked him for his time and honesty with a chaste kiss, and sincerely told him I hoped we’d meet again. I left him still leaning against the tree, a sad, wistful expression on his handsome face.
I borrowed a map from one of my friends, and memorized the way to Gabrielle’s Amazon village. Waking well before dawn, I started off.
I had never been to Amazon country before, but, as it was with so many things, I seemed to know what was expected of me once I had arrived. Something told me I had an unusual past, but now was not the time to dwell on that. I was in the process of being escorted peacefully to the center of the Amazon village. There I met the exquisitely beautiful Varia. To put it simply, she took my breath away!
I didn’t have time to dwell on that though, and it took some fast-talking to get her to tell me that Gabrielle had left yesterday, heading south with no real destination in mind. I had lied and told Varia I was Xena’s cousin, hoping the resemblance and Varia’s lack of knowledge of Xena’s family would get me by. It did.
The closer I got to Gabrielle, the more convinced I became of what I wanted to do. And even though my memory of my own past was very brief, somehow I knew that his had been my destiny all along.
There were fresh tracks of a single horse on the river bank where I had crossed, and I picked up my pace. It was less than an hour later that I caught sight of a blonde-haired woman, leading a horse through a wildflower field I had just entered. I used as much stealth as I could to approach her from behind.
She whirled while I was still a good twenty paces from her, and then she dropped the reins of the horse and bent over and straightened again so fast, I didn’t even see at first that she had drawn her sais. I knew it had to be Gabrielle. She stood in a defensive posture, looking me over.
I held my hands up. “I’m a friend!” I squeaked, my heart pounding away for several reasons. One was fear, pure and simple. The drawings of Gabrielle I had seen always showed a young innocent looking girl with a golden light about her. She always looked serene and sweet, as though she should be bent over petting a lamb’s head or holding a young child’s hand.
The woman that stood in front of me WAS extraordinarily beautiful, with pert symmetrical features, gloriously bright blond hair, and from what I could see, a compact, muscular body.
But there was something in her face that I had never seen in pictures…pain…and exhaustion…and misery…maybe even a little desperation. There were dark circles under her eyes, that were the results of too many sleepless nights, and a haunting emptiness in her green eyes that made my heart ache for her.
“Who are you?” She had asked me, after she had stared at me for a full thirty seconds.
“My name is Kira,” I answered. “I’ve been trying to catch up with you for a couple of days.”
I heard a sigh. “Why? You need some help in your village or something?”
“No, not at all.” I took a deep breath and plunged in. “I haven’t come here for you help. I’ve come to help you.”
She shook her head and resheathed her weapons. “I don’t need any help,” she said pointedly, and turning, she picked up her horse’s reins again, and started to walk away.
“No, wait, please!” I called, after I had found my voice again.
I head the same sigh, and she was turning to face me once more.
“What?” she asked, not so friendly this time.
I usually wasn’t the type of person who had trouble coming up with words, but I was now. “Look,” I finally said, taking a step closer. “All my life I’ve wanted to help people by doing good whenever I could. But growing up in Amphipolis (I noted her reaction to that), I haven’t had much of an opportunity. With my parents gone, there’s no one left to keep me in Amphipolis. I want to go with you, learn from you, help you in your battles… I’m a good fighter, I handle a sword well, can ride a horse well…everything…”
Gabrielle was looking at me like I was speaking a foreign language. “Why do you think I would even consider taking you with me? I don’t want a partner, and even if I did, it wouldn’t be someone like you. ”
“Why not someone like me?” I echoed, expecting this kind of response.
“Yeah, give me a good reason.”
She laughed as though she were deeply amused, but somehow, the sound had no real mirth in it. “Okay, one, I don’t know who you are. Two, I don’t want a partner, and three, you don’t want to be around me…trust me on that one.”
“I think I should be the judge of that last one,” I said quickly.
“Reason number four,” she continued, without skipping a beat, “I told you to trust me, and you didn’t. That’s the most basic rule of the road and you failed it. Take care, Kira.”
She turned again, and walled off, leaving me stunned. Virgil had been right when he had said she had changed. This wasn’t the generous, cheery little bard I had heard so many stories of. There were many tales of Xena’s aggressive war-like attitude being calmed by the serenity of Gabrielle. She was a friend to all, they said, and went out of her way to make people feel at ease and valuable. She has just made me feel like Centaur dung.
I watched her walk for a couple of minutes, still a little shocked by what had just happened. I observed Gabrielle’s slumped shoulders, her slow aimless gait, the way she held her hands rigidly to her side. Every signal her retreating body was sending was one of a person who was despondent and alone. I thought briefly again about what it must be like to have someone as vibrant and exciting as Xena as a daily part of my life, and then suddenly, to have her stripped away. It would be enough to drive a person to do desperate things, and I was suddenly more concerned with Gabrielle than myself. I just couldn’t let her get away this easily.
I started walking behind her, maintaining a discreet distance, but not letting her get out of my sight.
Gabrielle knew I was back there…she was too sharp a warrior not to. I kept expecting her at any time to jump on the back of her horse and take off galloping. I was almost wishing she would. I was a skilled tracker, and a fast runner, and was confidently I would eventually be able to catch up with her. Maybe the use of my skills would impress her.
The opportunity didn’t arrive like that, however. She didn’t increase nor decrease her pace, but just trudged along at the same speed. We were nearing a small village, and she was headed straight for it.
I watched from a distance as she wrapped her horses reins over a hitching post, and entered the town’s saloon. I waited a moment or two, then entered after her.
It was your typical tavern, seedy, dark, and smelly. Gabrielle’s blonde hair shone like a candle amidst all the dirty, dingy men that were in there. She was sitting at a corner table, a mug of something in front of her. She glanced at me when I came in, and then cast her eyes downward again.
“Hey, sexy young thing.” I heard a male voice off to my right utter that brilliant greeting. I turned my head and saw a greasy-haired brute heading my way. His drunken stagger made him take twice as long as it should have, but I waited patiently.
His tongue was out before he was even within licking distance, and if it wasn’t for the green patch growing on it, I would have yanked him around by it for a while. You never know if that green stuff spreads, however.
The man was in my face now, his eyes peering downward, trying to see down my shirt. I hat it buttoned too high though, so he lowered his sights to my black trousers. “Mm girl…you are fine. I’m giving you one minute to drop your drawers and have a seat on my face.” A chorus of guffaws rose from the corner the man had oozed from.
I gave the jerk one of my fake smiles. “Well, you’re half-right,” I told him.
The man laughed and glanced at his cronies. “What do you mean half-right?”
Quick as a whip, I had taken a half-step back and had kicked straight up, catching the drunk’s chin on the point of my boot. I heard the satisfying crunch that told me I had broken his jaw, and like a tree, he fell over backwards, hitting the ground hard.
I looked down at the pathetic sight, the blood pouring from his mouth, and then pointedly straddled the bastard, so I was sitting astride his neck. “What a shame,” I chuckled. “Here I am sitting on your face, and you don’t have the working equipment to do anything about it.”
I stood back up, and glanced at the jerk’s companions, but they apparently weren’t up to challenging me. I glanced over at Gabrielle, and found she was looking at me with a small smile. She held out her mug in salute to me, and turned away again.
She had ordered food with her drink, and soon the beefy-looking bartender was setting a plate in front of her. My stomach growled at the sight of the fried chicken and mashed potatoes, and I suddenly couldn’t remember the last time I had eaten.
“What can I get you?”
The bartender was standing in front of me, waiting for my answer. I shook my head. “Nothing…” I said. “I uh…lost my money.”
He glared at me disgustedly, but turned away to go to the next man. I heard him laughingly tell the customer that I had spunk to lay the drunk out the way I had, so he’d let me stay for a while. I was glad I had impressed him, but it was Gabrielle whom I wanted to take notice.
I sat at the end of the bar, my head propped up on my hand, trying to figure out what to do now, when another plate of food was set before me, along with what looked like a mug of cider.
“I didn’t order this,” I said.
He shrugged. “She did,” he said, gesturing toward the corner.
Gabrielle was looking at me again, and she gave me a slight smile and nodded toward the food. I gave my own nod of thanks, and dug in immediately.
When I was finished, and full, I looked back and Gabrielle was gone. Alarmed, I jumped to my feet and whirled toward the door, only to slam headlong into a hard shoulder. Rubbing my forehead, I glared at Gabrielle, who was openly smiling at me.
I knew she was testing me, so I gave a self-depreciating smile. “Is the rest of you that hard?” I asked.
She ignored the question. “I’m heading toward Corinth,” she said. “If you want, you can travel with me that far.”
I nodded, trying not to betray my happiness. “Thanks,” I said.
We left town, and had been walking a few minutes, when she spoke again.
“You’re from Amphipolis?”
Deciding that was the closest to a home that I knew. I answered in the affirmative.
“Remarkable,” she said with a shake of her head.
Gabrielle shook her head, but I knew she was thinking how much I looked like Xena. I didn’t want to press the issue though.
“How old are you, Kira?”
“Sixteen,” I answered, which was the closest to the truth that I knew.
“So young.” Gabrielle clucked her tongue. “What happened to your parents?”:
“I don’t know…they disappeared a while back.”
“You don’t have any idea where or how?”
I shook my head.
After another minute of silence, she said, ‘That was a pretty good move you used on that drunk in the tavern. Where did you learn it?”
I shrugged. “I can’t remember,” I replied. “I’ve known it for a long time. It’s not the first time I’ve used it.”
“I would imagine. Do you handle that sword as well as you kick?”
I nodded. “I’m pretty good.”
“Okay. Things get kind of dangerous on the road sometimes, and I want to know you’re going to be able to take care of yourself.”
“I can do that,” I assured her.
“Good.” She looked straight ahead and walked in silence, for a while.
The sun was just setting when we finally stopped to make camp. I was embarrassed again by the fact that I didn’t have a bedroll, but Gabrielle had an extra, and she didn’t act like it was any big deal to loan it to me. She told me to go scrounge up something for supper.
I took that as another challenge, and soon spotted a rabbit, which I skewered with my boot dagger at a rabbit. I couple more minutes, and I had a second one, as well. Gabrielle nodded her approval when I carried them back to camp.
“You catch ‘em, you clean ‘em,” she grunted at me.
I grinned and got to work.
We found a surprising amount to talk about over the next few days. At first though, neither of us spoke much. I had plenty to say, but didn’t want to push my luck with Gabrielle. She seemed to still be constantly sizing me up, watching my every move, looking for weaknesses.
We spent some time sparring the first two nights we traveled together, and both times, Gabrielle had complimented me on my techniques. I used my sword the first night, but last night, we had both used staffs. She kicked my butt soundly, but I did manage to get a few good shots in.
On our third day of travel, we passed a small village called Branus. I wasn’t the world’s foremost authority on geography, but I know Corinth lies between Amphipolis and Branus. It made me feel good to know that the Corinth story was a rouse, more than likely in case she didn’t like me.
The one subject I wondered about the most of all, of course, was Xena. Gabrielle had mentioned her a couple of times in conversation, but nothing revealing. There were times when I would see her looking at me, a very strange expression on her face. It I looked back at her, she would hurriedly look away. Sometimes though, I was able to watch her out of the corner of my eye for a while, and the look she gave me was a mixture of sadness, wistfulness, and puzzlement.
As the days went by, Gabrielle seemed to loosen up more and more. She was actually quite funny when she allowed herself to be, and we spent a lot of nights in pleasant conversation around the campfire. Once, I asked her if she still wrote in her scrolls, and she answered that she no longer had anything to write. It made me wonder if she had written out her Jappa trip, but I had no way I could bring it up without risking hurting her. And that was the last thing I wanted.
Night time was particularly difficult for her. At least once every night, she would wake up screaming, her arms and legs thrashing, and her body drenched in perspiration. I was able to make out Xena’s names a few times, and was pretty sure all the dreams involved her in one way or another. I quickly learned to speak in a low, soft voice to Gabrielle, rubbing her shoulders or her back in a comforting manner. Eventually, she would calm down without ever opening her eyes, and peace would prevail for a few hours.
After we had been together for about a week, I was roused from my sleep by her anguished cries yet again. She was screaming about Xena leaving her over and over again. I crawled out of my bedroll, and pulled her against me, whispering over and over again, and rocking her quaking body against mine. It was a good ten minutes before she finally stopped struggling and then she clung tightly to me as her body was wracked by silent sobs.
Eventually, they too stopped, and I was surprised when Gabrielle suddenly raised her head and looked into my eyes. At first, I was afraid she would demand to know why my arms were around her, but that didn’t seem to bother her.
Her eyes were like two great sparkling emeralds, so pure were they in the flickering candlelight. It wasn’t the first time that I had felt a sexual response to her beauty, but it was the first time it was due to her vulnerability. Every other time, it had been from seeing her in some sort of actions, practicing with her sais, running for exercise, and yes, swimming naked in a lake.
But now, with her staring so beseechingly up at me, I felt the insistent throbbing between my legs that I had learned to recognize as arousal.
I was faintly becoming aware of a light new scent my body was producing, when her hand reached up to lightly touch my face. “So much like her,” I heard her whisper in a choked voice.
Her face was moving imperceptibly closer to mine, and I nervously swallowed in anticipation of my first real kiss, at least the first real kiss I could remember.
Her mouth was so close to mine, I could feel the heat of her breath on my lips. Her lips parted slightly a bit more, and my eyes were just starting to shut.
“Gods, I’m sorry!” I blinked, and she was jerking her head back. She shook her head, and then was standing up, leaving me sitting there cross-legged.
I think we there were even more tears in her eyes, when she turned back. “I uh…”
“It’s okay,” I replied, seeing the distress in her expression. “Really.”
She stood there for another moment, then said, “Thanks…you just…remind me…so much…” She turned and left the campsite, without finishing the thought.
She returned a half hour or so later, and laid back down in her bedroll. I had my back to her, and pretended to be asleep. I didn’t know what else to do.
Over the next couple of days, things seemed to change. Every time Gabrielle came within a few feet of me, it was like every hair on my body was standing on end. It wasn’t my imagination that was telling me she was looking at more than my eyes. Sometimes, her gaze would linger on my chest, and sometimes, lower. I was sneaking my own peeks from time to time, and more than once, saw the hardened points of her nipples poking out through her shirt. I became fascinated by her lips and nose and how perfectly formed and spaced they were. I could imagine how perfectly they’d fit against the key spots on my anatomy. It was funny…I had never found myself thinking in that way, but I had never been around someone as alluring as Gabrielle before either.
Sensing we were beginning to grow closer, I decided to go out on a limb one afternoon. We had stopped under a tree for some lunch, and Gabrielle yawned.
“I don’t think you are getting enough sleep,” I said. “Those nightmares are really hard on you.”
“Yeah,” she shook her head in agreement, and threw the rest of her piece of bread away. We watched as a bird swooped down to lay claim on the crust of bread.
“Do you want to talk to me about them? I know from experience, that it can help to get it out in the open.”
“I can’t talk about them,” she said curtly.
“Are you sure? They seem to be getting worse.”
She stood up suddenly. “You’re absolutely right, Kira; they’re getting a lot worse.” She averted her eyes from mine. “Look, Kira, I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to tell you, but I uh…really think it would be best if you…didn’t travel with me anymore.”
I don’t know what I had been expecting, but it certainly wasn’t this! “What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Look…I know it’s coming way out of the blue, and I don’t want you to think you’ve done something wrong. You haven’t. It’s…me…”
I was really confused now. “Does this have something to do with what happened last night?”
She hesitated, then in a quiet voice replied, “No, not really… Look, Kira, you’re a terrific girl…I really like you…but…you’re in terrible danger if you stay with me.”
Thinking about that, I decided that she must know about someone or a group of some ones coming after her. We had sparred, and she had said I was pretty good, but she probably still didn’t think I was capable of handling a real fight.
“Un huh,” I said crossing my arms stubbornly. “I’m still going with you.”
In the end, she let me continue with her, but something had definitely happened to any comfort level we might have established. Gabrielle stopped talking altogether, and didn’t look in my direction at all. If I asked her a question, I might get a terse reply, but more times than not, I was ignored completely.
I couldn’t figure out what had changed between us. Gabrielle had said it wasn’t anything I had done, but I became pretty well convinced it had to be my fault. If we were in some sort of impending danger from an outside source, I’m sure she would have told me by now.
I felt like I was walking on eggshells that night. Perhaps she had become aware of my growing feelings for her. She had been the one who had nearly kissed me, but maybe she didn’t like how eagerly I responded. Maybe I did some talking of my own in my sleep. Dreams of her were becoming a common occurrence with me.
There was one positive thing sthat came out of today however. After supper, instead of sparring with me or going off on her own, Gabrielle sat down and opened her saddlebag. I watched out of the corner of my eye, as she dug through the bag, and came up with a quill and scroll. Within minutes, she was bent over the parchment, writing.
I didn’t really have anything to do, so I pulled my sword out of its sheath, and smoothed a couple of nicks in the blade, then gave it a good sharpening. I resheathed it, and as Gabrielle was still writing, looked for something else to do.
My eyes lit on the scabbard laying next to Argo’s saddle. I had never seen Gabrielle use the sword, and in fact, she kept it hanging from the saddle all the time. I had figured out it was Xena’s sword, and she probably kept it as a memento of Xena. Gabrielle had Xena’s chakram too, but I had seen her practice with it on occasion.
Since Xena’s sword wasn’t being used, I thought it would be a good idea to oil the blade for long-term storage. I walked the short distance to the sword, and took a seat by it. Gabrielle never even looked up. I pulled the extremely long blade from its sheath, amazed at how heavy it was. I could tell the blade had been sharpened many times before, but it had been lovingly well-maintained. I rubbed a polishing cloth over it anyway, to get it ready for the oil.
While doing so, I did notice one small nick on the blade. I picked up my sharpening stone, and went to work, working out the damage in long smooth even strokes.
I couldn’t help but think of all the action this sword had seen, and was wondering if I could someday get Gabrielle to tell me about at least one of her adventures with Xena, when a dark shadow fell over my hands. I started to raise my head, and was only aware of a blinding pain.
It was the beginning of the end for me.
COMING NEXT WEEK: The action heats up, when Gabrielle finds herself in the violent clutches of a conquering Xena who not only doesn’t recognize her, but is intent on breaking her.
The Xena and Gabrielle XXX Scrolls Page 3