Convert This Page to Pilot DOC FormatConvert this page to Pilot DOC Format

Return-Path: Date: Tue, 07 Jan 1997 10:07:28 -0700 (MST) From: jenn4@IMAP3.ASU.EDU Subject: "Athena's Village" X-Sender: To: Tom, I would like it if you could please add this story to your fan fic page. This is chapters 1-4. Please let me know if it is okay.

Athena's Village

by author

CHAPTER ONE The two women walked into town weary and looking as if they had just fought for their very lives. The two were equally beautiful but strikingly different. One was small and had the look of someone who saw the world as if it were something wondrous, while the other was a raven haired beauty that had the unmistakeable look about her that said "look but don't touch, but I'd prefer you not even look. They were leading a beautiful palomino horse that had her head down showing that even she needed her rest. "There,there Argo. We'll stop here in this village for awhile so that all of us can take a rest," the dark haired woman said to the horse petting it affectionately. "I know how tired you are." "You know, sometimes I think you would rather be around animals than human beings," her companion commented. "Animals are easier to read than people. People can lie very easily and are not always to be trusted. You should know that by now," glancing sideways to her friend. "I know Xena, but I still think it's a shame that people have to be so cruel and deceitful to each other. I don't understand why we all can't just be more honest with one another." Xena just looked at her friend and smiled. After all that Gabrielle has seen and been through since joining her, she still had a way of looking at the world with the hope of a child. After Perdicus was killed, Gabrielle lost that look and Xena was afraid for her friend then. All Gabrielle could think about was killing Callisto in revenge but Xena knew that even Callisto's death wouldn't have eased Gabrielle's pain. She was proud of Gabrielle when she fought the urge to kill and won. Xena didn't even want to think of what might have happened to Gabrielle had she gone through with her plan. The guilt of Callisto's death was almost more than Xena could stand, she didn't even want to think of what it would have done to her gentle natured friend. As if sensing her friend's pensive mood, Gabrielle quickly changes the topic. "So just where are we anyway? I don't think we've stopped here before but, then again, we've stopped so many places that I sometimes forget." "I came through here once with my army. I think it's called Phoenicia." Noticing Gabrielle's look when she mentions her army, "No. I didn't attack the village so there shouldn't be any problems. We were on our way to try to destroy Hercules." Gabrielle wisely decided to let the subject drop and they continued down the street in silence. Even though she was a bard and had a natural desire to always talk and tell a story, Gabrielle knew there were times when Xena preferred her to be quiet if only for a little while. As they walked in silence through the village, Gabrielle had a chance to look around at the people there. She noticed that the wares being sold by the merchants were of the finest quality ever seen in Greece. They were the type of merchandise that a warlord would love for his very own and she wondered why the people didn't seem concerned but, in fact, seemed as if they didn't have a worry in the world. "Xena have you noticed how peaceful this place is? The merchandise is some of the finest I have ever seen and yet no one is around to protect it or the merchants themselves." "I've been noticing that. I'm surprised that one of the local warlords I've heard so much about hasn't tried to make this town part of his conquests and raided it yet," picking up a beautifully decorated bowl. "Look at this, pure gold. This is exactly the kind of town I preferred to attack in my past." Xena starts looking around and finally finds what she was searching for. She goes over to the shopkeeper whose bowl she had picked up. "Can I get you anything miss," the shopkeeper kindly asked. He's an older man who looks as if her might have been in many battles but decided that the quieter life was for him. "My name is Avondale, but everyone here calls me A-guy," he stated with the biggest smile Gabrielle has ever seen. "Why are there no guards to prevent an attack? With such fine merchandise surely there must be raids by the warlords that are nearby. Why aren't people afraid of such an attack?" "We have no need to be afraid Xena." Xena looks at the shopkeeper sharply when he says her name. "Yes I know who you are. I was here when you passed through all those years ago and I was one of the many who thanked the Gods that you decided to spare our village and go on your way. Today we have nothing to fear because we are protected by the great goddess Athena herself. She sends her warrior Deanlu to protect us whenever we are in danger." Gabrielle leaned closer to the shopkeeper. She has always prided herself on knowing all the stories about of the Gods and their warriors, but had never heard of this Deanlu before and she found herself curious. "Who is this Deanlu? I have never heard of him before." Emphasing the first part, "She's a warrior like no other, not even Xena. She does not need an army to help her for she has defeated whole ones by herself. I have personally seen her do battle and it is truly an amazing sight. It has been said that even Callisto herself was afraid to do battle with one of Athena's chosen." At the mention of Callisto, Xena's and Gabrielle's interest was truly peaked. "I am not the best storyteller in town though so I can not do the warrior proud with my own recollections. If you like I can take you to the local tavern and the owner will tell you all you want.S Xena merely nodded and Gabrielle was silent but both were thinking the same thing. The mention of someone who could frighten even Callisto took them by surprise. Even Xena, who eventually defeated Callisto, never frightened her. They were both interested in hearing more about this Deanlu person, whoever she was. Each also had a private reason for wanting to hear more stories. Gabrielle, being the bard, was always looking for more stories about heros, and one that could scare the woman who murdered her husband was one she would enjoy telling. Xena wanted to know more about why Athena had sent this warrior to protect a specific village. It was unlike the gods, especially the Goddess of War, to care that much for mortals that they would send a protector. Xena left Argo in the trustworthy hands of the shopkeeperUs apprentice and followed him to the tavern. On their way Xena and Gabrielle took a closer look at the village. It was different from many of the other villages they've been through. Although the wares the merchants sold were the same as in other villages, they were of a much better quality and there was a substantially larger variety to choose from. Also the way that the shops were set up was something not seen often. Instead of clogging up the streets with their tables, the merchants were in the buildings that made up the town with displays in the windows to show what was inside. As they were getting deeper into town Gabrielle made a sudden realization. "Where are all the children?" "What do you mean?" A-guy was genuinely puzzled by Gabrielle's question. Xena looked around and noticed that Gabrielle was right. Other than a few very young children with their mothers, there were no children in sight. "I mean where are all the children? It's the middle of the day and there are no kids playing." Gabrielle waved her arms as if to emphasize the point. Xena faced the shopkeeper and gave him a look that dared him to try to lie to them. The shopkeeper never even noticed the look. "Why they are all in school of course," pointing toward a building in the middle of the village square. "They go everyday. We feel it's important that the children learn about their fellow people." This satisfied Xena and Gabrielle's curiousity about the children for the moment, but it only made them more interested in the town itself. There was something not quite tangible in the air and it bothered both that they couldn't quite figure it out. Finally they stopped in front of the tavern. "Here we are. Come on, I'll introduce you to the owner." A-guy led them into what had to be the largest tavern that anyone had ever built. It had a long bar on the side that extended all the way from one end to the other. There were three bartenders doing their best to keep up with the customers orders. Waitresses, dressed in garb similar to Gabrielle's own Amazon outfit, were hurrying from table to table refilling orders. Finally the bartender closest to them noticed them and came over. "Hey Avondale, it's a bit early for you to be here isn't it? I wasn't expecting to see you until sundown," she says with a hint of affection. Noticing Gabrielle and Xena by his side, "and I see you didn't come alone today either. Cat will be so disappointed." "Knock it off Okie," he replies grinning to his oldest and dearest friend, "this is Xena and her friend Gabrielle. They wanted to hear some stories about Deanlu so I brought them to see your boss." "Why don't you check in back," Okie says as she heads to another customer and the trio are quickly forgotten. A-guy leads the two woman toward the back of the tavern. They come across a door that is ornately decorated and plastered with pieces of parchment that hold various messages. A-guy knocks on the door and without waiting for an answer opens it. There is no one in the room but they can hear someone in the closet nearby. "I've got some people I'd like you to meet." A woman comes out of the closet and Gabrielle's breathing all but stops. The woman is wearing a dress of a deep blue and white and is made of the softest material that anyone had ever seen. Xena, becoming aware of her friends heightened emotions, is curious about this woman but also cautious. Before any introducions are even made, though, she gets an unexpected shock. "Becky," Gabrielle whispers in the quietest voice that Xena has ever heard her use before, "is it really you?" "Hello Gabrielle. It's really me," the woman replies. "You two know each other?" Xena asks Gabrielle, surprised that she should know someone so far from Potedeia. Gabrielle responds so quietly that Xena can barely hear her, but she never expects Gabrielle's response. "She"s my sister." CHAPTER TWO Xena's shocked. "Your sister. I thought you only had Lilla." Becky turns to Gabrielle. "So father told you never to speak of me again and you kept your promise not to, like a good little daughter," Becky says sarcastically. Her attitude toward Gabrielle is anything but sisterly. "What must he think knowing that you followed in my footsteps and ran away from home?" "I didn't run away like you," Gabrielle sneers at her sister, "I've been back to visit since I've left which is more than I can say for you." Xena has never seen her friend react this way to anyone other than Callisto and is worried about Gabrielle. "Gabrielle why didn't you ever tell me about," turning toward Becky, "Becky you said right?" Becky nods her head at Xena and waits for Gabrielle to answer. Instead Gabrielle runs out of the office and heads for the exit of the tavern with Xena close behind. She doesn't stop until she reaches the stables where Argo is and finally breaks down and lets her emotions wash over her. She picks up her staff and starts hitting one of the support beams that is holding up the stable with all the force she can muster. Xena finally catches up to her and is concerned to see Gabrielle acting like this. "Gabrielle are you okay?" She goes to comfort Gabrielle and is almost hit by her staff in return. Xena grabs the staff but doesn't completely take it out of GabrielleUs hands. "Whoa take it easy with that thing. What is it about your sister that has you so worked up like this?" Gabrielle realizes what she almost did and sits on a pile of hay nearby. "I'm sorry Xena, but it's just the sight of my sister after all these years, it's..." Gabrielle looks for the right words but, for once, cannot find any to express her feelings. Xena senses this and tries to comfort Gabrielle. Gabrielle breaks down into Xena's arms and cries the tears of all that she has lost and left behind. "Gabrielle I want to try to help. Why don't we just start with why you never mentioned your sister before? You are always telling stories about your childhood and your family, but never before have you mentioned Becky. She mentioned that you were following in her footsteps by running away from home, what did she mean?" Gabrielle wanted to tell Xena everything about her sister, but found that Becky had been right in that her father told her not to say anything and she hadn't. Even now, with Xena, she knew that she had to keep her promise to her father. With all else that she had done in the past, she could not betray that one promise made to him so long ago. Xena could see that Gabrielle was struggling with her emotions and decided that the matter could wait until both were rested and fed. "Come on," Xena says while forcing Gabrielle to her feet,"let's leave Argo alone for awhile so she can rest and then we can do the same. Let's go talk to Avondale and see if there is any other place in town that we can stay at." Xena leads Gabrielle out of the stables and gently prods her along the open streets. As they get close to the shop where they first met Avondale, Xena becomes aware of being watched by the townspeople. Glancing around her she notices that everyone is staring openly at her, but it isn't in the unfriendly manner in which many of the towns she had visited recently did. It was more like a look of curiousity was being directed toward her and, especially, Gabrielle. Finally a little girl, of no more than 5 or 6, walks right up to Xena without any trace of fear. "Excuse me," the little girl said, not to Xena but to Gabrielle, "are you really Becky's sister Gabrielle?" Gabrielle is startled that the news of the siblingUs reunion has spread so quickly. She bends down toward the child. "Yes I am, but how did you know my name?" "Everyone knows about you Gabrielle," a woman says coming up behind the little girl. We have heard many stories about you and your sister Lilla's adventures when you were younger." She picks up the little girl's hand. "My name is Amber and this bold little one is Stella. I want to welcome you to our town, although I am sure that no such welcome is necessary," she stated, extending her hand. Sensing Gabrielle's confusion over being told that everyone in town knew her and Lilla's name, Xena took the hand offered to them by Amber and even took the hug offered her by Stella. "Thank you for that welcome Amber. My name is Xena." Amber nods her head at Xena implying that she already knew the Warrior Princess' name. Also noticing GabrielleUs silence Amber picks up Stella. "Come you must be tired after your long journey. The tavern can get too noisy to rest comfortably, so I invite you to spend the evening at my home." Noticing Xena about to protest, "Don't worry I have plenty of room." She calls out to her other children to follow her. Xena and Gabrielle are amazed when three more youngsters come running over to Amber. She hands the oldest child Stella and the group is on their way. The journey to Amber's home is a quiet one with the children making the only noise. Amber knows that as a warrior, Xena would not be all that talkative, but she also senses that Gabrielle is trying to adjust to seeing her older sister again. It has always been common knowledge in the village that Amber had this special way of knowing when someone was hurting. Not in the physical sense, but in the emotional sense that so many feel but donUt understand. She knew when people needed help getting something off their chest, but also when they needed to be alone with their thoughts. She could tell that Gabrielle was fighting a battle inside herself that was on of the toughest ones she had ever dealt with. It wasn't like the battle over whether to kill Callisto or not, yes Amber knew that story. It was the battle between old loyalties to her family and new ones to Xena. She wished that she could help the young woman, but knew that only time could heal all the wounds of the past. As they leave the village, Xena becomes aware that the houses on this side of the village are much grander than the ones that they passed on the other side when they came in. They consisted of two or three level buildings that had stables near but not a specific area for a barn. The fields surronding the homes were not plowed as if they were to be used for farming but, instead, were filed with many different kinds of flowers. Every once in a while, they came upon a house that had a statue of Athena in front as if it were protecting it. Gabrielle even forgot her feelings at seeing her sister as she took in all the sights. When they came to one of the larger homes, Amber went to lead them in. Xena and Gabrielle paused at the front door. "Is this your home? It looks like an inn." Gabrielle commented. Amber just laughed. "Everyone who has never seen it says that, but itUs home to my lot." She's pushed aside by the four children as they run into the house. Xena finds herself intrigued by this woman who has offered her home to her and Gabrielle. She gives Amber a closer look. "Hey sis, who are you talking to out there?" a voice says from somewhere within the house. "That my brother Scauwen. I share the house with him." She shouts over her shoulder, "I brought some house guests to spend the night here. It's Becky's sister Gabrielle and her friend Xena." Xena can hear footsteps coming from behind the door and gets ready to be introduced to Amber's brother, but the next thing she hears isn't an introduction but Gabrielle fainting. She looks up to see why and can not believe her eyes. Gabrielle had seen Scauwen coming before Xena and what she saw just completely drained her of what little strength she had left. "Is she okay?" Scauwen asked concerned. Xena doesn't know how to respond. It's the same face almost perfectly, but it was an entirely different voice and attitude being reflected from it. She quickly recovers her senses and focuses on the unconscious Gabrielle. "I think we better get her inside out of the cold air," she says to Scauwen without looking up at him. She is still too unnerved by the resemblence. As Scauwen bends down to pick Gabrielle up, she regains consciousness only briefly and mumbles someoneUs name. She then becomes still once more. "What did she call me?" a bewildered Scauwen asks. Xena is slow to respond, but eventually decides to tell them before Gabrielle awakens. "She called you Perdicus." CHAPTER THREE Scauwen carrried Gabrielle into the house and laid her gently on the couch. Xena checked Gabrielle's pulse to make sure she was alright and after determining that she was fine, Xena turned to Scauwen. She looked at him long and hard and it made him feel as if he were being judged by the gods themselves. Xena wanted to make sure that he, along with everything else there, was real and not some cruel trick that one of the gods had decided to play on Gabrielle and herself. There have been entirely too many coincidences, and too many strange new ideas, in this small village for her not to be suspicious. First they find out about a warrior sent by Athena herself to protect the village, then they discover Gabrielle's sister and, now this, and almost exact double for Gabrielle's dead husband Perdicus. It was all too convenient for Xena. While these thoughts were going through her mind, the trio stood over the unconscious form of Gabrielle. The silence was finally broken by a loud knock at the door. "That must be Lasha. She said she was coming over for dinner," Scauwen says as he jumps up to get the door. "Scauwen I think it might be better if the two of you stay in the other room until Gabrielle regains full control of her emotions," Amber tells her brother, while looking over at Xena. "You better let us explain to her that you're not a spirit but, in fact, a very mortal man." Scauwen nods his head in agreement and leaves the room. Afterward you hear voices in the kitchen. Amber then turns her full attention to Xena and, with the uncanny ability that has frighttened many, she picks up on Xena's reservations about both the town and itUs inhabitants. "I'm sure you have many questions Xena. I'll try to answer them." "I do have many question Amber but I'm not sure that you're the one who should provide the answers," Xena says as she takes a glance at the now sleeping Gabrielle. She is torn between caring for her friend and trying to figure out what was going on there. "Go on Xena. After handling four very active children, I think I can take care of one sleeping young girl." Xena looks at Amber gratefully and then back down to Gabrielle. Finally with her decision made, Xena heads to the door and back into town. Xena knew exactly who she wanted to talk to. When Xena walked into the tavern, it was even busier than it had been that afternoon and, of course, much nosier. It had the usual assortment of people found in any tavern in any town. Warriors reliving past battles, women with less than upstanding morals, weary travelers looking for lodgings, but also something more. The everyday people that make up the village were also there. Somehow, in this tavern, people who normally would not associate with one another, had found a way to get along. Xena was surprised to see that men, who would rather grope a woman than show her affection, show respect towards the ladies of the town. It was as if Aphrodite herself had come down and placed a spell over everyone there. It was just one more thing Xena had to add to her growing list of questions. Xena kept an eye out for trouble, while searching for the person she needed to talk to. She was nowhere in sight. Eventually Xena found the next best thing. At the end of the bar sat Avondale and next to him a beautiful woman in a shimmering red dress. As she walked over to the obviously in love couple, Avondale finally noticed her. "Xena over here. How is Gabrielle doing? I got really worried when she took off the way she did." Turning to the woman next to him, "Cat this is Xena. You remember me telling you about her. She's the one who...." he's stopped by Xena who puts her hand up. "I don't have time to socialize. I'm here looking for Becky." Avondale nods his head as if he was expecting that reply. "Do you know where she is?" Avondale knew enough about Xena not to be upset over her abrupt answer. "I think she's still in her office. They said she hasn't come out of it since the two of you took off. You remember which way it is right?" he says and points toward the back. Xena nods her thanks and walks to the back to confront Becky. She is not leaving the tavern until she gets the answers to all her questions. The other patrons in the bar seem to sense Xena's mood and clear a path for her to ger through. When she gets to the office door it suddenly opens up in front of her. "Come in Xena, IUve been expecting you," Becky says ushering Xena into her office. She has changed oout of the dress she wore earlier and into a pair of black pants and a top made of the sheerest white lace. "I thought you would have been here sooner." Xena walked into the offive and shut the door behind her, The noise from the bar was instantly diminshed. Never one to mince words, she let Becky know exactly why she was there. "I want ot know about this town and also why Gabrielle reacted to you the way she did." "That could take all night, It's a rather long and complicated story. Would you settle for only one of those answers.?S When she sees Xena's head nod for her to continue, "I didn't think so. Well make yourself comfortable and I'll tell you all I can. Although I know you're curious about, and even a bit cautious about, the town I think I should start with my relationship between myself and my sisters." CHAPTER FOUR "First of all Xena, I want you to know that no matter what I did to Gabrielle and Lilla when they were younger, I always loved them. The things I did, I did only to help them in lofe." Becky stops for a minute to decide where to begin and then continues. "I was around seven when Gabrielle was born. I was never the golden child my parents wanted, so they turned all their attention toward her and I wanted to hate her for it, but I couldn't. Just one look at her and I saw everything that I wasn't and never could be. I would sit and tell her aall the stories I would hear from the people in town. My parents weren't sure how to react to this but, because Gabrielle seemed to enjoy it and Lilla had since been born, they allowed it." As Becky talks about the past, she seems to go into herself. Xena recognizes that look. It's the same one that Gabrielle gets when telling a story. Now Xena knew where she got it from. As Xena listens she tries to picture Gabrielle's childhood. Becky continued her story. "Even as a child Gabrielle had a look about her. You just took one glance at her and knew that she was destined to be more than a farmer's wife. She was going to do something with her life. She needed to do something with her life and I tried to encourage her. I saw alot of myself in her and I wanted to do everything I could to teach her the things she would need to know, but she never needed much encouragement. Gabrielle was as fearless as any of the older boys in town. She never backed down from a challenge and she was getting better at telling stories. The kids in Poteideia loved her. "Of course it was only a matter of time before Lilla wanted to play with Gabrielle also. They were of the same age almost and Lilla idolized her older sister. Lilla joined in all of Gabrielle's and my adventures, but she just didn't have the same spirit as Gabrielle. Soon Lilla decided that she would rather stay at home then traipse across the countryside and occasionally Gabrielle stayed at home with her, although she preferred the outdoors. Our mother began to be concerned about my influence over Gabrielle. She was afraid that Gabrielle was becoming too much like her big sister, so she encouraged her to play with Lilla more. Her and father felt that it would be better if Gabrielle stayed closer to home than roam the woods with the older kids doing only the gods knew what. "Pretty soon Gabrielle preferred spending all of her free time with mother and less with me. It made me angry and I felt resentful toward my parents. I felt they had taken something precious to me away as a punishment for my behavior. I guess I was around fifteen or sixteen at the time and I began to rebel against my parents even more. The best way to get me to do something, was to have them tell me not to do it. My parents and I never had the closest of relationships, so they just put all the support with their two persfect children, Lilla and Gabrielle. There were times when I would disappear for days and when I returned not a word was said. They just acted like I was an annoyance sent by the gods as a test, for what I don't know. "At first when I went on my adventures, I would tell Gabrielle the stories that I had picked up in the neighboring villages and, as always, she loved to hear them. They seemed to fascinate her but, after a year or so, I noticed her distancing herself from me. Out parents attitude toward me was beginning to rub off on her. It wasn't that Gabrielle disapproved , she was just choosing our parents over me. Now I understand why she did it, but then I felt that it was the bitterest of betrayals. I hated Gabrielle for it, even more than my parents." Throughout the telling of her story, Becky had been pacing the floor to her office. Xena, for once, was sitting passively listening to Becky talk about the childhood the Gabrielle never mentioned. Xena had always wondered why Gabrielle was so different from the rest of her family, wondering about the fearlessness that allowed her to follow Xena and listening to Becky gave her an insight into her travelling companion. Now there was onlyone more thing about the past that Xena wanted to know about. "What eventually made you leave and why did Gabrielle run awaay from you the was she did?" "Well around five or six years ago, an army came through Poteideia. They were on their way home from a battle and they wanted to stop in our village to get a rest and something to eat. They weren't a band of thieves out to cause harm, just family men that had wanted to help some people who needed it, but that didn't matter to the villagers. They refused the men." When Xena shows surprise that Gabrielle's peaceful village would refuse hospitality to a friendly army, Becky explained further. "There had been quite a number of attacks on neighboring villages and the people were wary of strangers. They made the men spend the night outside of town and would not even allow them to purchase food from them. Some of my friends and I disagreed with the town leaders. We felt that the men should be made to feel welcome. That night I snuck out of my room and brought some food and drink toothe men. I wanted them to know that not everyone in town was the same. I hadn't planned on staaying long, but I did. There was a young man there and I fell in love with him at first sight. It sounds unbelievable, I know, but it was like we were destined to meet. We didn't want to seperate but finally, as the sun rose, I went home. My parents were both up and furious at me for what I had done. They forbid me from going anywhere near the soldiers agains and when I refused, my father slapped me. I was shocked. He had never done anything like that before. I ran to my room because I didn't want them to see how upset I was. That's when Gabrielle came in. She had heard everything and she agreed with my parents. She had come to feel that I was some evil thing that was brought into the family as a punishment for some crime they must have committed. That's when I decided to leave. I packed up all my belongings and crept out the window, I left with the army and I haven't returned since. Xena I want you to know, I wasn't planning on leaving until Gabrielle had turned on me. She was the only person in that family that had ever given me unconditional love and to see that love turn into hatred was more than I could stand. I had no other choice than to leave." "What happened to the young man?" Xena queried. "We came her to town and were married. He died three years ago at Troy battling the Spaartans. I took over the tavern and have thrown my life into it. The patrons here are my only family now. I have noone outside of Phoenicia." Xena is stunned. She had never imagined that Gabrielle's family, not toention Gabrielle herself, could be so cruel that they would force one of their own away. Her parents have even forgiven Xena for taking Gabrielle with her and have since welcomed her with open arms. This was a side to them that she did not know even existed. Xena didn't know what to say so she just remained silent. Finally Becky spoke up. "Well now you have heard my whole sad story so now I guess you want to hear about Deanlu?" As she is about to start another story, they hear a commotion outside. Surprisingly Becky is the first one out of the office. "Okie what's going on?" She says while surveying the quickly emptying room. "We're under attack in the northern part of the village," the faithful bartender says. "We are going to try to hold them off until Deanlu arrives." With this said, Okie grabs her sword from behind the bar and follows the crowd. "Wait a minute Okie," Xena says catching up to her. "Who's doing the attacking?" "It's Dancyer McCoy and Caryn the Tigress," Okie tells Xena and leaves the bar. Return-Path: Date: Thu, 09 Jan 1997 11:44:39 -0700 (MST) From: jenn4@IMAP3.ASU.EDU Subject: "Athena's Village" X-Sender: To: Here are the next 3 chapters. Thanks. CHAPTER FIVE "Dancyer and the Tigress together. That is not good news," says Becky who had just caught up to Xena. She had a sword in her hand, and Xena noticed that by the way she was holding it, that Becky obviously knew how to use it. "By themselves they're baad enough, but their armies combined..." "Are virtually unstoppable," Xena finished for her. "That is until now. Come on thereUs a fight I want to be in." "Right behind you." Becky and Xena head to where the battle is taking place and are soon seperated. Xena is quickly confronted by two soldiers. The two men look at each other, silently saying that they should be able to handle one woman, even if she did have a fierce looking sword. Xena just laughed to herself as she watched the men line up on either side of her and lunge with their swords. Xena just ducked and the men's momentum carried them the rest of the way, one impaling the other. With these two taken care of, she went to help the other villagers. She looked around for Becky, knowing that Gabrielle would never forgive herself if something happened to her, but was unable to locate her. Suddenly from out of nowhere Xena heard it. "Aiyeeeeee" Xena turned in the direction of the yell and there she saw her. She was dressed in leather, something of a combination between Callisto's and Xena's clothing, but only instead of black it was white. Xena watched as the woman methodically challenged all the men that dared to stand against her. Even the men that Xena was about to engage in battle joined in the fray against this new intruder, feeling that she was the more threatening opponent. All Xena thought was "This must be Deanlu." Deanlu was truly amazing. She had no problem defeating all the men that rose their swords against the village. On her own she took care of 15 men in the course of only 3 minutes barely breaking a sweat. She then turned toward what was left of the army that had invaded the town and, who were now fleeing in retreat, and did something that made Xena do a double take. Deanlu pulled out a chakrum and threw it with such control that it looked as if she had been born with the ability to control it. Xena had never seen anyone use a chakrum with such control other than herself. In fact, she rarely saw anyone use a chakrum at all. The chakrum struck a heavy branch above the men and broke it in two. The branch then fell on the men, pinning them underneath. Deanlu grabbed the chakrum effortlessly and hooked it back onto her belt. She walked over to the men who were now laying helplessly on the ground trying to get the branch off of them . "Where is Dancyer and the Tigress? Have they no courage to come and fight their own battles?" Deanlu demanded of the men. The men lay there mute. None were willing to answer the warrior's question. Eventually though one of the men, a terrified youth who looked no older than eighteen, spoke up. "They are back at the camp. It's about a two day ride between here and there," he said all the while avoiding the glares by his companions. "The rest of the army is with them. We were sent ahead to test the village's strength's and to try to find their weaknesses." "How many in their army?" Xena asked from the crowd. The boy replied, "About 75 to 100 men. Some on horses." A murmur went through the crowd. "That was too many. Surely the boy must be exagerrating," more than one man thought. Deanlu seemed to think about this new information and looked over at Xena as if to assess her fighting ability. Apparently deciding that if push came to shove, Xena would help with the fight, she split the branch in half with one blow from her sword and helped the men free themselves." "I want you to tell Dancyer and Caryn that this village is not for the taking and that any attempts will result only in bloodshed on your part. We are protected by the gods and they will let nothing harm us here." The men scramble to their feet and hurry away. Deanlu does nothing to stop the men but does stop the boy who talked. "How did you become a part of this band of mercenaries?" demanded Deanlu. "You are no warrior." The boy shranked from Deanlu's glare. "My family was killed when I was only fifteen," the scared youth told her. "Ever since then I decided that I would never be that helpless again. I've been learning to fight ever since." Deanlu turned to Xena, "Well Xena what do you think? You have battled many warriors, do you think this boy will ever be a great fighter?" Xena walked through the crowd and looked at the boy. She then faces Deanlu. "I saw the way he fights and there is a slight possibility of improving, but no," shaking her head, "he will never be a great fighter." Deanlu nods her head in agreement, then takes a good long look at the boy. "Do you still wish to be a warrior? If so I will allow you to join your friends in their retreat." The boy just shakes his head and remains silent. "That's what I thought. If given the chance would you change?" The boy nods his head yes. "Then we will give you that chance. Keewee and Greenmt please come here." Xena is puzzled about Deanlu's intentions but does not comment as she notices two women stepping forward. "This is Keewee and Greenmt. They are sisters who own a farm on the other side of town. They are in need of help and can provide you with a room and food. That is if you want to truly change your life." A big grin spreads to the boy's face making him appear even younger than he actually was. He had grown tired of the bloodshed and had wanted out, but was always too afraid to leave. Deanlu then turns to the sisters, who nod their agreement to the suggestion. They go pick the boy up off of the ground and lead him away. Everyone else takes this as their sign to depart. "Okay everyone, you know the routine," Okie yells above the crowd. "First rounds on the house." A cheer rises from the people as they head back to the tavern, leaving Deanlu and Xena alone. The two women stand there silently and regard each other as they would any possible enemy or ally. Xena could see why Athena had chosen this woman to be protector of this village. She was a powerful warrior, the proof of that lay around her, but she was also a wise woman. Xena would never have thought of making that boy a part of the village he had just tried to destroy. She had to admit it, if only to herself, that this Deanlu was possible even more powerful than her. Xena was only glad that she and her were on the same side in this battle. "Xena. Xena," a breathless Gabrielle runs up to the pair. "I saw the whole thing. It was great. It will make an excellent story." Gabrielle turns to Deanlu, "My name is Gabrielle, you must be Deanlu. I've been wanting to meet you." Deanlu just grins at the bard and then to Xena. "So Gabrielle you're the reason Ares has yet to win Xena back. Keep up the good work, the gods are watching. Well I really must be going," she says while turning away. "Wait a minute, I want to ask you a few questions." Xena says running after Deanlu. "Another time Xena. Why don't you head to the tavern. I'm sure someone there will tell you all you'd like to know. I hear these celebrations are pretty wild. Besides I have a feeling you might see some friendly faces," she says mysteriously and then vanishes. "Where'd she go. She's not a goddess so she couldn't have vanished into thin air, could she?" a confused Gabrielle asks. Xena isn't too sure about what to think. All she knows is that she has to find out more about Deanlu. "And what did she mean about seeing some friendly faces. I've already seen two too many today." That last comment brought Xena back to the present. She turned to face Gabrielle and give her a piece of her mind about her not taking it easy, but then she heard someone calling her name. "Well Xena I see you didn't leave anyone for us did you? You had to have all the fun for yourself, as usual," the stranger said in a mocking tone that if it had come from anyone else, would have warranted a punch from Xena and, possibly, a hit by Gabrielle's staff. But the new arrivals got away with it. "Hercules" was all Xena said. CHAPTER SIX RHercules and Iolaus, why am I not surprised to see you here?S Gabrielle said. She knew that under normal circumstances, she and Xena would have been surprised run into the two of them, but these were far from normal circumstance. RWhat do you mean youUre not surprised to see us here?S a confused Iolaus asks. RWe were passing nearby on our way to Athens and decided to stop in the village for the night. When we heard about the trouble we came to help out.S RAnd thatUs when we saw the two of you,S interrupted Hercules. He had been observing Xena since they arrived and he had noticed how tense she was. He didnUt think it was because of the fight , because it didnUt look like she had even exerted herself. He wondered what the problem was. RWhat have we missed?S RItUs a long story,S Xena answers, looking at Gabrielle, but she didnUt elaborate. RWell, why donUt we go over to the tavern,S says Iolaus, noticing the tension and trying to lighten the mood up. RIUm thirsty, not to mention starved. ThereUs also a few people I want to see and say hi to.S RLike Becky,S Hercules says to his friend, grateful at his attempts to break the tension, but the look that passes between Xena and Gabrielle at the mention of Becky is anything but pleasant. He made a mental note to ask Xena what was bothering the two friends. Iolaus had a smart remark, about a certain lady Hercules likes in town, but keeps it to himself when he sees that Gabrielle is not in her usually cheerful mood. Xena is the first to speak. RI think its best if I got Gabrielle back to AmberUs house. SheUs had a rough day, as have I.S Gabrielle is about to do her usual protesting, but finds that Xena is right. When Xena sheUs that Gabrielle is going to go quietly, it shows her how tired Gabrielle really is. All at once, Xena realizes that she is worn out also. Gabrielle isnUt the only one who had gotten shocks to her system that day and Xena was looking forward to sleep. RWhat happened?S a concerned Iolaus asks her as he goes over to Gabrielle, all manners of teasing put aside. She looks at him gratefully and allows him to suport her. Xena is touched by the look of concern and affection that shows openly on IolausU face. SheUs glad that he has arrived ad hopes that he will help her sort out her emotions, especially about Perdicus. RXena, I meant to ask this earlier, but who exactly was doing the attacking?S Hercules aks Xena. HeUs also concerned about Gabrielle, but he knows that Iolaus will take care of her. He is more worried about Xena. He has never seen her this preoccupied and it bothered him. RWalk with us back to AmberUs and I will try to explain.S Hercules nods his head in agreement, partially due to curiousity, but also due to the fact that he knew Iolaus would not leave GabrielleUs side until she was safely in the house. The four head off to AmberUs home. Hercules and Xena quickly move ahead of Iolaus and Gabrielle so that they can talk privately and not be overheard by the emotional young woman. Despite the exhilaration at watching Deanlu battle the men earlier, Gabrielle was still not fully recovered from the events of the day, and the effects were starting to take hold again. Soon Iolaus was carrying Gabrielle more than she was walking. RIt was a scouting party,S Xena explains as soon as she is sure they are out of hearing range of Gabrielle. RThey were a part of Dancyer McCoyUs and Caryn the TigressU army. The two warlord have combined and have apparently decided that this village will be their first show of power.S RWell it looks like you gave them something to think about,S Hercules stated with pride. He didnUt like fighting and tried to avoid it at all times, but he knew that some circumstances just required a show of force and he was glad that Xena was as good as she was. He was proud of her for the way she has turned her life around. RI barely did anything,S Xena said as Hercules stared at her incrediously. RIt was Deanlu who did all the work..S Hercules nodded his head in understanding. Although he had visited the village many times on his journeys, he had never seen Deanlu in action, but he did hear the stories about her and they have made him curious. RWhat did you think of her?S RSheUs good. The best IUve ever seen. She took on all the men in the scouting party that raided and defeated them all without breaking a sweat. Then when she saw that one of the men was really no more than a scared boy, she had him become a member of the community. She had seen, somehow, that he wanted a second chance and she gave it to him.S Hercules just listens as Xena describes that battle and doesn't press for details. Finally he decides to end Xena's game of avoidance and he asks her about Gabrielle. "Why is she, when she didn't even fight, that Iolaus is carrying her?" "She's had a number of nasty little surprises today," Xena says hoping it would be enough for now, but when she looks at Hercules, she can see that she will have to explain further. "Well it started this morning.." and with this Xena begins to explain all the events that had taken place earlier. She tells him about Becky and Scauwen and finishes with them running into Hercules and Iolaus. By the time she finishes they have arrived at Amber's home. "Poor Gabrielle, no wonder she's so worn out. It has not been a good day for her." Hercules finally says. "I'm hoping a good night's rest will help her. I think she's over the shock of Scauwen, or else she wouldn't have come out tonight, but her sister is another matter." Xena says as Iolaus finally catches up to them. Gabrielle is asleep in his arms. Xena takes her from him and nods her head in appreciation. "Where will you be staying?" "At the tavern. Becky usually keeps a couple of rooms on standby in case we stop by. We'll see you in the morning," Hercules answers. "Til tomorrow then," Xena says as she goes into the house and shuts the door behind her. "Okay Herc, what's going on? What's wrong with Gabrielle?" Iolaus asks. "It's a long story." Hercules starts telling him the story that Xena told him. Suddenly you hear Iolaus shout. "Becky's her what?" Inside the house, Xena just shakes her head and carries Gabrielle to bed. CHAPTER SEVEN The next day began with a beautiful spring morning. The birds were singing, the sun was shining, and not a cloud was anywhere to be seen. It was the type of morning that made both young and old feel glad to be alive and Xena noticed none of it. She had been in the stables since early that morning tending to Argo, who hadnUt quite forgiven Xena for ignoring her the day before. After finally placating the horse, she headed to the tavern to see Hercules. As she walked in to the tavern, she saw him there, eating breakfast with Iolaus. Xena walked over and joined them. "It looks like the two of you are making yourselves right at home," Xena says to them, giving Hercules one of her rare but beautiful smiles. Hercules gives her one of his own smiles in return. "We were just waiting for you and Gabrielle." Looking around he notices that Xena is alone. "Where is she by the way?" "After the shocks of yesterday, I thought it best if she just rested," Xena explained. "Besides with all the pent up hostility between her and her sister, I thought that Becky might be more willing to talk without her around." "I still can't believe that Becky and Gabrielle are sisters," a still awed Iolaus says. "The two of them are so different. They don't even look loke one another." "Well they are, so I guess we better get used to it," Xena says going over to Iolaus. "If it makes you feel any better, I didn't know she had another sister. Gabrielle never mentioned her before." Iolaus just looks at Xena and does something she never thought heUd do. He smiled at her. "Thanks Xena. It makes me feel a little better that I'm not the only one she kept secrets from." Hercules just looks at the two most important people in his life, glad that they are starting to put the past behind them. "Who knows," he thought, "they might actually become friends." "I hate breaking up this mushy stuff, but if we want to talk to Becky, I think she's up in her room." Iolaus just grins at Hercules, while Xena just gives him a look that says "Just wait until later" Iolaus leads the two of them up the stairs and down the hall to Becky's room. When they get to the end, Xena sees a door that is partially open. Iolaus knocks on the door. "Becky, it's me. I have Hercules and Xena with me. We were wondering if we could come in." "Come on in." The trio walk into a richly decorated room. There were curtains made of a rich blue material covering the windows and it was decorated in a variety of colors. Somehow the room seemed to fit Becky. "I'll be right with you," came the reply from the other room. "Becky," Xena started, "we came here to talk about Deanlu." "I know Xena," Becky said coming from the other room. Like yesterday she was dressed in a strange dress, this one made of red silk. Xena began to wonder where she had bought such exotic clothing. "We never finished the story last night." There seemed to be an air of tension radiating from the two woman, Hercules noted. It wasn't hate or even dislike, but more like they couldn't figure out how much they should trust each other. Hercules decided to try to ease it a little. "Becky, you now I've heard many of the stories about Deanlu, but I've never heard the whole thing. You are the best storyteller in town, so it's only natural that we would want to hear about her from you." Deanlu nods to Hercules in appreciation and she takes a seat on an oversized chair. She then nods for the others to do the same. "Well it began about three years age, around the time my husband died...."

To Be Continued...

Fan Fiction
Return to my Fan Fiction Page