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One Clear Voice
The Characters belong to the nice people at MCA/Universal. This story was written by me and is not intended to infringe on their rights. I have borrowed several Lines from the series in an effort to bring a certain reality to my story.
Also used without permission are the lyrics to Peter Ceteraís song One Clear Voice.
If you liked this story, comments can be sent to me at email@example.com. This is my motherís e-mail address so please address the comments to BlackFox.
"Are you sure youíre going to be okay?" Gabrielle asked, worry etched on her face.
"Gabrielle, I appreciate the worry but Iím going to be fine." Xena said adjusting the straps on Argoís saddle.
"Are you sure youíll be able to handle this yourself?" Gabrielle asked, clearly wanting to go with Xena.
"Gabrielle, I did take care of myself before you came around you know." Xena stated plainly. When she swung around to look at Gabrielle, she saw the crestfallen look on her face. Xena cursed herself for the inept way she handled her best friend, and tried another tactic. "Look Gabrielle. Minos is making it hard on those villagers and I have to get there before anything drastic happens! I wanít you with me, itís just that Argo goes slower when there are two people on her, and I need to get there as quickly as possible." Xenaís eyes pleaded with Gabrielle for understanding.
Gabrielle nodded, and smiled at Xena. "I understand. See you in a few days?" Gabrielle asked. The words and understanding lightened Xenaís heart immediately.
"It might take me a week or two, but I will get back to you." Xena said smiling at her. "Do me a favor? Thereís a town about a day and a halfís walk from here. Iíd like you to stay there until I get back, agreed?"
"Agreed, on one condition." Gabrielle said impishly.
"On what?" Xena asked, eyebrow raised.
"You have to grant me a favor when you get back, agreed?" Gabrielle asked, raising her own eyebrow in imitation of Xena.
"Agreed." Xena nodded, then climbed up on Argo. "Stay out of trouble."
Xena said as she started riding away.
"Stay out of trouble." Gabrielle muttered. "What does she think I am, a toddler?" She said indignantly. She watched Xena for a few minutes, watching her get farther and farther away. ĎMy scrolls.í she thought out of nowhere. "My Scrolls! Xena, youíve got my..." she dwindled off as she realized that there was no way for Xena to be able to hear her.
"Great. Now what am I supposed to do for the next day and a half, besides walk?" she muttered grumpily to herself.
Gabrielle reached the town without incident, besides being bored out of her mind, she was very thirsty.
She headed immediately for the nearest tavern. On the way there she noticed that the townspeople were looking at her strange. Keeping their heads down, they would watch her from the cornerís of their eyes. She tried to smile at them, but they would just huddle together and move fast away from her.
Upon entering the bar, the tavern owner looked her up and down.
"Weapons arenít allowed in here." He said gruffly.
"What this? Itís just a walking stick." Gabrielle said trying to look innocent.
"Girly, if you think I donít know an Amazon fighting staff when I see one, youíve got another think coming. Now, you leave it by the door, or you donít come in." He said expecting to be obeyed.
"Okay." She said leaning her staff against the wall by the door.
"Now, what can I get for you?" The man said, his demeanor changing abruptly.
"Cider, please." Gabrielle said, already expecting the refreshing drink.
The owner poured the drink and handed it to Gabrielle. "Thatíll be two dinars please."
Gabrielle reached into her bodice for her purse, and suddenly remembered that she had left it in Argoís saddlebag. Xena had all the money. ĎGreat, just great!í Gabrielle fumed to herself.
The owner saw the look on her face. "Whatís wrong?"
Gabrielle chuckled embarrassd. "My friend has all our money, and she wonít be back here for a couple of weeks. Iím afraid I canít pay for the drink." Gabrielle admitted.
The owner had noticed how strong this young girlís body was when she had first walked in. "How are you at washing dishes?" he asked appraisingly.
Gabrielle, who didnít want to be stuck doing dishes for possibly two weeks, appraised the situation on her own. "Terrible." she lied. "But I can tell a mean story, any job openings for a bard?"
The owner smiled wickedly at her. "Actually, our bard quit two months ago, you prove you can tell a story as mean as you claim, and youíve got yourself a job"
Gabrielle nodded her head and smiled. She was confident that the job would soon be hers.
Gabrielle knew that she had the job the second she ended the story of Prometheus. To ensure that she got the job she emphasized Hercules and Iolausís part in the adventure and discounted her own and Xenaís part. She didnít mention Xenaís name, for fear that the very mention of the once hated warrior would cost her the job.
The tavern owner smiled at her with a twinkle in his eye. "You were right, you do tell a mean story. If youíre going to be working for me, you should know my name. Itís Caspius." he said extending his hand to Gabrielle.
"Gabrielle. So when do I start?" Gabrielle asked, shaking Caspiusí hand.
"Tonight. The village could use a morale booster. This is a good thing." Caspius said.
"Why, what happened?" Gabrielle asked, care showing in her eyes for her new friendís concern.
Caspius struggled with the decision of whether to tell her or not, but since the incident was over and Gabrielle wasnít likely to be here when the warlord returned, he went ahead and told her. "A warlord came yesturday asking for tribute. We didnít have enough, so several of the young men were beaten."
"Thatís horrible!" Gabrielle cried out aghast. "Boy, if I was here, I wouldíve given that warlord something to think about."
Caspius had to laugh at the young girlís spirit. "Youíve got a lot of spunk child. but donít let it get you killed. If you had stood up to that warlord youíd be dead now, mark my words." Caspius said solemnly.
Gabrielle shook her head, feeling very much like she wanted to meet this warlord and give him a bruising.
"Shall we talk about what youíll be performing tonight?" Caspius asked.
"I donít really like to talk about a performance before the event, it getís me nervous." Gabrielle explained. Plus she needed the time to rehearse.
"All right. Well, Iíll show you where the other bard slept, and you can rest until itís time." Caspius said leading Gabrielle to the room.
The performance started off perfectly. She began with Prometheus, again highlighting Hercules and Iolaus, and diminishing Xena and herself. Then she told the story of Troy, not including herself or Xena in the telling. Her mistake came when she started the story about the Titans. She couldnít very well diminish her own part because she was the cause of the whole mess. And Xena had saved her so she had to include her as well. The audiance accepted the concept of a woman warrior pretty well. It wasnít until Gabrielle inadvertantly mentioned Xenaís name that tension was created. Gabrielle saw the murmur go through the crowd as people looked at each other and then back at the stage. Gabrielle was just about to wonder what was going on when someone spoke.
"Girl, how do you know the Warrior Princess?" It was then that Gabrielle felt the air had changed. The air of trust that she had worked so hard to create between bard and audience was gone. Even Caspius was looking at her with shocked, suspicious, maybe even accusing eyes.
Gabrielle raised her head, showing pride in her friend. "Xena is my best friend." Gabrielle declared.
This didnít win her any popularity points. "So you knew about the attack on our town before you got into town today? What are you, a spy working for the warrior witch?" Caspius asked, his voice filled with rage.
Gabrielle shook her head as if the impact of the blow had been a physical one. "What are you talking about? Are you saying that Xena attacked the men of this town?" Gabrielle asked clearly confused.
"You mean you didnít know?" Caspius asked his anger still apparent.
Gabrielle shook her head slowly. "No. We parted company early yesterday morning. She had something to do, a warlord to stop, and asked me to come here and wait for her to come back. Youíre saying sheís the one that came here asking for a tribute? Obviously thereís been some kind of mistake. What does she look like?" Gabrielle asked hoping against all hope that it was somebody else.
"Hair as black as night, eyes of ice, you canít miss her in a crowd, and she wasnít in a crowd." Caspius said feeling sorry for the bard, obviously she had been misled by Xena.
Gabrielle closed her eyes at the description, and a few tears leaked out of the lids. Thereís been a mistake, a huge terrible mistake, I know that, now how do I prove it?
Later, after everyone had left, each giving the bard a sympathetic pat on the head or back, she was left alone with Caspius.
"Are you all right?" Caspius asked, handing the shaking bard a glass of port.
Sipping some of the port, she flinched as it burned its way down to her stomach. The memory that Xena loved port stirred in Gabrielleís mind and was immediately quashed. "There has to be an explanation for this. This isnít the Xena that I know. The Xena I know doesnít even care about money." Gabrielle pleaded with Caspius, asking him to help her convince herself. Was this some kind of sick joke someone was playing on her?
"All I can tell you is what I saw. Your friend came racing in, her men following close behind, I donít know, must have been fifteen to twenty men. She had this loud peircing yell that chilled the blood the second you heard it. Then she stopped in the center of town, and demanded the townspeople bring out their money and pay homage to the Warrior Princess. She was dissatisfied with the amount given, so she ordered the beatings. She said she would be back and that their had better be more next time she came through, or she wouldnít have us beaten, she would have us killed."
Gabrielle flinched at the description Caspius had just given her. It fit every description ever told about Xena when she was the Warrior Princess. Gabrielle knew that she had to find her. She had to find out what had turned her into the monster she had been before she changed.
"Iím going to have to find her Caspius." Gabrielle said soberly.
"Why? Sheíll just kill you, thereís no reasoning with her now." Caspius said trying to get Gabrielle to see reason.
"Because. Sheís my best friend, and sheíd do the same for me." she explained.
"Well, it looks like Iím losing my bard. After only one night too."
Caspius said resigned now to the fact that Gabrielle was going.
"Iíll return after I find Xena, and figure out what is wrong with her. Iíll return and give you the two weeks I had planned on." Gabrielle promised.
"Thereís no stopping you then?" Caspius asked. For his conscience sake he had to give it one last try.
Gabrielle shook her head resolutely. Her stubborness and her love for her friend not allowing her to give up.
"Well then, good luck." Caspius said with some trepidation and went to bed.
To be Continued....
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