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One Clear Voice
Minos sat in his tent gloating over his map of the Amazon territory. Soon, he thought, soon all of this land will be mine. And Xena will help me rule it as queen!
Minos was so busy gloating over his map that he didn't notice Xena enter the tent. She stared at him, her ice blue eyes boring holes into his back. Soon, she thought, soon you will feel my sword at your throat!
Minos yawned, stretching, and happened to glance behind him. "Oh, hello my love. How long have you been standing there?"
'Long enough to kill you if I'd wanted.' she thought. "Not long." she said. She went and laid on the pallet. He came over to join her. "You'd best get some sleep. Our attack comes in a few hours." she told him.
"Yes, we will surprise the Amazons tomorrow!" Minos said.
"Yes, tomorrow will be full of surprises." Xena said. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------------------
"I can't find the bard anywhere!" a warrior called to Minos.
"Well, we don't have time to look for her. Mount up and let's get going." Minos ordered. It wouldn't surprise him if she had decided to run away. He knew the bard was too soft for army life.
Xena rode up to Minos on Argo. "You ready for this?" Xena asked, thinking to herself that their was no way Minos could prepare himself for what was about to happen.
Minos nodded, his self assurance nearly blinding. How could anyone really think that much of themselves. I can barely stand to look at my reflection in a mirror! Xena thought wryly.
As they neared the Amazon village Minos self assurance began to slip, much to Xena's delight. There wasn't an Amazon in sight.
Just when Minos began to think that he had been set up and led into a trap, he saw a small band of Amazons on the path up ahead of him. Standing in front of the pack were two Amazons, one with black hair, one with curly blond hair.
He edged his troops nearer, until he was standing two feet in front of the Amazon pack. "There are fewer of you then I was led to believe. I guess you can't believe everything you hear." He said with a smirk. "Tell me ladies, what are your names."
Ephiny raised her head and glared him in the eyes. Solari said the same, neither saying a word.
"Come now! I have you surrounded. Do you really think you can hold out against me, especially when I have Xena here?!" His voice seemingly calm, but his demeanor taking on the ire of being ignored.
Ephiny pretended to think it over and then acquised to tell him her name. "Ephiny, this is Solari." Ephiny said indicating the dark haired woman beside her.
"Well, Ephiny, will you surrender to me, or will I slaughter every person here?" Minos asked, confidence dripping from his voice.
"I can't surrender to you." Ephiny said, glaring at him.
"Why ever not? Don't you know when the game is up for you, girl?" Minos asked, derision in his voice.
Ephiny raised her head another notch, and glared at him coldly. "I can't surrender to you because i'm not the queen." Ephiny said in defiance.
"Well then, who is the queen?'' Minos asked his mask slipping even further, revealing the angry man beneath.
Minos couldn't believe his eyes. There on top of a raised podium, stood the sniveling brat of a bard, decked out in full Amazon battle armor. The cool blue-green eyes met his in challenge. "You? You're the Amazon queen? How come I don't believe you?" Minos snickered, unwilling to believe that he had been suckered by this girl, that the Amazon Queen had been under his nose all along, and he hadn't even known about it.
Gabrielle smiled in derision. "Because obviously, you paid no attention to my stories. Otherwise, you would have realized that appearances can be decieving. Take this situation for instance. You believe that you have me and my people surrounded, when in truth, it is I who have you surrounded."
Minos looked around him but could see nobody in the circle of trees that outlined the village. "I see nobody."
"And you haven't got a clue how to fight Amazons! I hold all the power here, and you are defenseless." Gabrielle said, her voice strong.
Minos had taken all he was about to take from this girl. He grabbed the sword from his hilt, swung off his horse, and came after her. Gabrielle stood still, and very calmly raised and lowered her arm. Before Minos army had a chance to react they were pelted by arrows, falling from the sky, sent by the trees around them. The army realized too late that they were indeed surrounded.
Minos turned and saw his men being hit with hundreds of arrows. His men were dropping like flies. He looked at Xena who had jumped down from Argo, and stood idly by watching the men die. "Don't just stand there! Do something!" he yelled furiously at her, then froze when she turned her hard, icy eyes on him.
"Okay." she said nonchallently pulling her sword, and walking up to him. Minos started nervously backing away.
"Xena, what's gotten into you?" Minos asked as he backed away from the furious eyes of the Warrior Princess.
''What's gotten into me?" she spat raising her sword higher. "What's gotten into me Minos? Did you really think that I wouldn't figure it out, that I wouldn't remember?!" she said, her voice raising with each word spoken. "How long did you think you could get away with it, Minos?" she asked, spitting his name with contempt. Minos hadn't watched where he was going and backed himself right up against the podium.
Xena reached him and pressed her sword into his neck, pushing until a drop of blood oozed out onto his neck. "When you see Hades, tell him Xena sent you!" She pulled back her sword and swung it, but stopped as soon as it reached his neck. "No. I won't kill you in cold blood. I won't become a monster. Lift your sword." Xena said stepping back.
Minos trembled as he stood there locked in place. "Lift it!" Xena commanded. Minos did as she commanded but her own sword came crashing down so hard on it that it dropped to the ground.
Xena curled her lip in distaste. "You snivelling coward. You can't do anything on your own can you? You've always had your army to back you up. Well look at them. Look! Their dying because of you. Because they were foolish enough to follow a rat, who didn't know when to quit, who always has to go after the biggest piece. You're not even worth killing. Get the rest of your men and go. I will order the Amazons to stop firing if you will turn and leave." Xena said turning her back on him, and signaled the amazons to stop.
Minos was turning to go when he heard the rest of Xena's sentence. "Like the yellow bellied chicken you are." Minos ego outweighed his brain, and he couldn't stand to be called "Minos the chicken" for the rest of his life, so he did the only thing his ego allowed. He picked up the sword and charged Xena. She spun and kicked him straight up in the nose, breaking it and sending him flying onto the ground. Xena went to pick him up and continue the damage, but he managed to grab hold of a dagger and slashed her arm with it.
Xena backed off and grabbed her own dagger, and the two did a deadly dance around each other, slashing out at each other whenever they got the chance. The Amazons and Gabrielle, along with Minos' army, watched the confrontation in silence, all hoping that Xena would win. After Minos' display here, none of the men in Minos' army could ever serve under him again.
The dance continued for quite a while until Minos messed up and Xena had him. Minos lunged at Xena's neck, and Xena ducked and came up stabbing Minos in the chest. Grabbing the dagger, Minos crumpled to the ground and went to join the men who had died in Tartarus.
Xena stared at Minos' body for several minutes until Gabrielle came and put her arm around Xena, leading her away from the man who had almost stolen her life.
After cleaning the mess of bodies up off of the Amazon land, the rest of Minos' army had cleared out of the village after that. Some leaving singularly, some going in pairs or in groups. Without a leader to follow, the army was pretty much broken up. Xena hoped that most of the men would chose to settle down, but she knew that some would go and rejoin another army.
Ephiny had offered to let Xena and Gabrielle stay with the Amazons for a while, but Xena said that they had to get going and thanked Ephiny for the offer. Gabrielle knew something was bothering Xena, but she waited until they were out of earshot before bringing it up.
"How come you didn't want to stay Xena? We could use the rest in a comfortable hut for a few days." Gabrielle said, looking up into Xena's troubled face.
"And stay with the people I almost conquered? How considerate of me." Xena said sarcastically, but Gabrielle knew that Xena's anger was aimed at herself, not Gabrielle. Gabrielle's hatred for Minos grew. Just what Xena didn't need was more guilt on her head, and now, thanks to him, she had it.
Gabrielle thought in silence of all the things that Xena had done when she didn't remember who she was. The beatings the townspeople and Autolycus had recieved, the killing of Minos' bard, and the attempted conquering of the amazon's just added to the weight that Xena carried, the weight that Gabrielle had tried to help diminish.
"We have to make it up to them Xena." Gabrielle said, now focused in on the villagers and Autolycus. "We have to make them see that you can't be held responsible, you didn't know what you were doing."
Xena shook her head gravely. "No Gabrielle. I am responsible. I may not have known who I was, but I still had control over my actions. I beat those villagers, and Autolycus, because I wanted to. And I didn't bother
to control myself."
"That's not intirely true Xena." Gabrielle said, grabbing Xena's arm, making her stop and look at her. "You could have killed them Xena, all of them, but you didn't. Don't you think that shows some control. Why, for the exception of that bard..." Gods, I had to mention that didn't I, Gabrielle thought furiously at herself.
But to Gabrielle's shock Xena smiled. "You know you're right. And I do have to make it up to them, if they'll give me a chance to." Xena said wryly. "As for the bard, I'm not sorry I killed him." Xena said glowering.
"Why?" Gabrielle asked, her shock increasing. "What could he possibly have done that you're glad you killed him?"
"He was foolish enough to tell a tale in which he abused several girls in his village. When I asked him if he had made up the tale, he admitted that the tale was true. I killed him on the spot." Xena said, no mercy showing in her face.
Gabrielle was silent thinking about what Xena had said. Xena resumed walking, but when she didn't hear Gabrielle walking behind her, Argo in tow, she turned and looked at her. Gabrielle hadn't moved from the spot, and Xena was suddenly worried that she had gone too far this time. "Gabrielle?"
Gabrielle looked up at Xena, and Xena was astonished to see the tears in Gabrielle's eyes. "Oh Gabrielle. I'm so sorry. I know how you feel about me killing without mercy..." Xena started, then stopped when she saw Gabrielle shaking her head.
"No Xena. That's not it. I'm glad you killed him, and that scares me." she said as a tear slipped out of her eye. Xena came and hugged her. "I know. Sometimes it scares me too."
They turned and started walking again, their arms still encircling each others waist.
After a few minutes of silence, Gabrielle looked up into Xena's face. "I'm glad you're back Xena." Gabrielle said and then smiled.
"I'm glad to be back, Gabrielle." Xena said, returning the smile.
Xena poked at the fire with a stick, the fire the only light that they had in the pitch black night. They had decided that they would go back and apologize to the people of the village. Gabrielle had a promise to keep to Caspius anyway, and Xena knew Gabrielle almost always kept her promises. At least, she kept them when she could.
Xena knew she had no right to expect that the villagers forgive her. But she knew that she at least had to try to make amends. If things went sour, she could always leave Gabrielle there to keep her promise and return for her in two weeks.
Xena had to find Autolycus as well, she had no idea how she was going to find him.
"A dinar for your thoughts." Gabrielle said softly.
"That much, huh?" Xena said with a smile.
Gabrielle nodded her head dramatically. "Inflation."
Xena couldn't stop herself from laughing at that one. Wiping a tear of laughter from her eyes, she shook her head wryly, leave it to Gabrielle to jack up the price. "I was thinking of what we're going to be doing for the next couple of weeks. How about you? You've been awful quiet yourself, composing?" Xena asked.
Gabrielle shook her head and smiled mischievously. "No, I've been thinking of the favor you owe me."
"What favor?" Xena asked her brow furrowing.
"Don't tell me you've forgotten! The favor you owe me fro staying behind in that village for two weeks." Gabrielle said in consternation.
"Ah. But you didn't stay behind, did you?" Xena asked, a smile lighting up her eyes.
"Xena! That's not fair! I had to save you!" Gabrielle said, the thought of her wonderful favor slipping away from her was torturous.
"And you did save me, didn't you? I guess I owe you a favor just for that. Okay. So, what's the favor?" Xena asked smiling.
"I want you..." Gabrielle started.
"You want me to...?" Xena asked.
"I want you to...sing to me." Gabrielle said, a triumphant smile on her face.
"You want me to sing to you? That's your favor? Not food for a month, or sleeping in an inn for a month? You want me to sing to you?" Xena said, her voice raised in obvious confusion.
Gabrielle nodded vigorously in her happiness. "I tried to get you to sing in the Miss Known World pageant, but you wouldn't, so now you have to."
"Gabrielle, all you had to do was ask. I don't like singing in public, but I wouldn't mind singing to you. Now relax." Xena said, and Gabrielle did, laying down on her stomach on her bedroll, her arms propping her up as she watched Xena in the firelight.
Xena closed her eyes for several minutes, and when she didn't open them, Gabrielle became nervous. "Xena?"
Xena opened one eye and looked at her. "I'm trying to find the right song, now shush! I don't disturb you when you're doing your thing." Xena said and closed her eye again. Gabrielle was determined to wait her out this time.
Xena started humming a tune and then the most beautiful words started coming out of Xena's mouth in song.
"The whole world is talking,
Drowning out my voice.
How can I hear myself
With all this noise?
But all this confusion,
When I find a quiet place,
Where I can hear:
One clear voice
Calling out for me to listen.
One clear voice
whispers words of wisdom.
I close my eyes
Till I find what I've been missing.
If I'm very still I will hear
One clear voice.
I'm always searching
For which path to take.
Sometimes I'm so afraid
To make mistakes.
From somewhere inside me
Stronger than my fears.
Just like the sound of music
To my ears, I hear
One clear voice
calling out for me to listen.
One clear voice
whispers words of wisdom.
I close my eyes
'Till I find what I've been missing.
And if I'm very still, I will hear
One clear voice.''
"That was beautiful Xena." Gabrielle whispered misty eyed.
"So is your voice." Xena said to her, and then looked back into the fire.