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Part 5 (Conclusion) of War of Silence

Chapter 21: "Wrath of the Warrior Princess"

Who Are You?
by Tammy and Wishes

The Warrior's Hands are callused and firm;
With strength and courage, they grasp the sword.
With discipline and timing, they move so gracefully,
Fighting each battle and championing each cause.

The Warlord's mind is dark and powerful
Relishing each victor, mindless of cost.
Not forgetting the past, she shoulders its burdens
And carries them with her while fighting the good.

The woman's heart is locked and buried;
Her pain hidden from everyone but me.
But her healer's touch reveals only gentleness,
And her friendship is honest as the few words she speaks.

Who is this person who holds me so tightly?
Who runs from her demons while fighting my own.
Her darkness she carries like the sword on her back.
But her love is as real as her gentle touch.

Xena leaned up against the outer rim of the cave wall and drummed her fingers impatiently. Her blue eyes narrowed as she took note of the moon's position high overhead. "Finally," she mumbled to herself as she abruptly turned, taking long strides to the wooden table in the corner. Her mind took careful note of each item laid there, and she smiled. The time for action had finally come so now she prepared for battle. She turned on the blood-lust that would aid her this night to simmer as she adjusted her sword and scabbard. As she tied her chakrum to her waist, she began to use her mind to "become the Warrior Princess."

Xena took several deep breaths as she neatly wound the whip that lay thrown on the table and fastened it to her side. Before her eyes, she saw Gabrielle's bloody back when she found her. This time the scene was her ally for the night ahead. Still in automatic motion, the warrior's eyes turned to the figure sleeping on her stomach by the fire.

"She is fine, Xena," the warrior assured herself aloud. Her blood-lust grew warmer still as she picked up a forgotten friend from the back of the chair, a golden cape. Her ears still could hear her men chant her name as she secured the cape to her shoulders.

"Tonight they will see the Warrior Princess," she spoke through gritted teeth. Her silent war was no longer merely thoughts and anger.

"I know I play a dangerous game," she thought a she quickly shoved Ares's medallion into her bodice. "By the god's, I know I do," she spoke aloud as she grabbed the bow and arrows off the table and walked into the night.

"I almost forgot," she said aloud as she dropped Argo's reins and fell to her knees beside her dearest companion. She gently removed the whistle from the slumbering form and placed it around her own neck. The warrior's brow furrowed as Gabrielle began to shiver in her sleep.

"Shhhhhh," she whispered in the girl's ear as she drew the blanket up tighter. "I will handle this tonight.... You don't need to be afraid." Xena lingered only long enough to place a soft kiss on the girl's forehead before she went out to invoke justice.

"I don't like it. Xenobius should have been here before now ..lets get out of here."

"Talus , we can't go till we know that the girl is dead. You know if she lives and we go back we are dead men"

"Let's go check the cave then...they have to be asleep. If something went wrong and the girl is alive....we can kill the little bitch in her sleep."

"You are right ..let Xenbious fend for himself if he still lives."

Xena stood on a an overhead tree branch a few hundred paces or so from the cave. With the eyes of a animal stalking its prey, she watched the two men approach noisily through the brush.

"Lets get their attention, huh, Argo?" she spoke to the animal tied behind a series of bushes below her. The warrior Princess smiled a feral smile, lifted the whistle that was tied to her neck and blew loudly.

" I knew it, she is still alive and your damn plans... she just blew that whistle of hers to call Xena right now."

"Shut-up would you ... let me think...well, then we damn better get to the source of that noise before Xena does ... over to the left I think."

"There's no one here...I could have sworn the noise came from this direction."

The first arrow flew from the trees and hit Talus in the upper thigh, felling him instantly. The Warrior Princess immediately reloaded and let another one sail at the other man who had taken off in a run back the way he came. "Good Shot, Xena," she mumbled to herself as the arrow landed in the back of the other man's left knee. " Thank you, Artemis," Xena replied quickly for her fortune and also the bright moon to guide her. Xena flipped in front of the two fallen comrades with her battle yell ringing in the night air. Talus stumbled to his feet and grabbed hold of his sword and charged. The Warrior Princess only laughed mockingly and grabbed her whip . She landed a sharp kick to the man's stomach as the whip sliced through his neck and upper chest. Xena relished the moan of pain both men exhibited as she took a whip in both hands and took turns whipping each one violently. Xena's eyes could only see Gabrielle's beaten body and hear her cries of pain.

"Xena, my sweet, oh how I missed you," Ares called in her mind as his Warrior Princess dealt blow after cruel blow. Xena smiled at the sound of his voice encouraging her on as she let the whip fall harder and harder. Neither man fought back now but lay helplessly, crying for mercy . "Yes, my sweet, yes," Ares urged her on, his voice beginning to penetrate her heart.

"XXXeenaa," a soft voice crackled as it spoke and immediately caused the Warrior Princess to turn her head from her vengeance.

"Gabrielle?" Xena called as she blinked unbelievingly . The shock registered of the bard's first spoken word since her return registered in her eyes.. Xena's blue eyes raised wide. She spoke again, needing confirmation from the figure who stood in the bushes leaned heavily on Argo's side. "What , What did, did you say?" she stammered now, she noticed that the gold-red hair was tousled from sleep and that her friend stood in her overly large warrior's shift, its sleeve falling off of her shoulder.

"Xxeennna..pleaase ..noooo," she spoke again tears clouding her green eyes as she leaned harder into the horses flank.

The whip fell to the ground as Xena looked at the two forms at her feet and heard their moans of pain. "I feel sick," she thought to herself as she stared at all the fresh blood and realized how close she had come to returning to Ares' fold. "Wait a minute, she talked." her mind finally connected, and her blue eyes filled with happy tears. As the Warrior Princess floated in an emotional daze.

Slowly and stealthily, Stephen crawled away in the darkness. He held back the moans of pain as he took advantage of the Warrior Princess's temporary lapse in judgment. He cared more now about his own survival than this fight he had already lost. Talus opened an eye to see a dazed Warrior Princess looking over in the distance. "If I can just get to the whip she dropped," he thought as he inched his fingers though the bloody grass.

"Noooooooooooo," Gabrielle called, panic-stricken as Talus rose up behind the Warrior Princess. Xena's reflexes was instantaneous. With her right hand, she latched onto the whip that flew at her face. She snapped it back quickly, sending it around her attacker's neck .

"This is for Gabrielle," she said aloud. With that, she gave the whip a hard tug that broke the man's neck. She drew the medallion out of her bodice and dropped it on the dead man's body. It was then she noticed the other soldier had escaped.

"No matter, animals will get him," she thought as she turned her attention to the person who had just saved her life. Xena's eyes softened as she saw Gabrielle hiding between Argo's legs. "Shhh, its over, Gabrielle," she crooned as she pulled the hesitant girl out from between the horses legs and into her arms.

"I am very proud of you," Xena whispered as she felt the girl latch her arms around the warrior's neck. She lifted her companion in her arms and began her walk back to camp. Gabrielle's tears fell down her shoulder as she walked. "Its okay Gabrielle...Shhhh," she spoke as she walked Argo trailing right behind.

"Very, very proud," she mumbled under her breath.

Chapter 22: "Saviour"

by Wishes

Hard words and soft emotions,
Meeting on a battlefield compete
For ground long scarred
By hate and rage and pain;
Remains of long-dead feelings
Kneel among the ghosts
Of all the secrets that I know,
Remaining weapons drawn
In last defense of cold, stone walls
That, if they ever fall, bring victory
For all from clear defeat.

Xena was unsure just how long she had been sitting on the mattress holding Gabrielle and rocking back and forth. Time's clarity had halted dramatically when the girl now in her arms had screamed into her war-lusted heart with that quiet voice. Xena now fought the "Warrior Princess" in those deep recesses of her self. "Now, in the darkness even still Ares calls it me," she thought with a physical shudder. "I control the "Warrior Princess .. she does not control me," she reminded herself as she mentally began the painful process of disengaging the Warrior drive that grasped so easily onto her repentant soul.

A quiet sniffle drew the brooding warrior eyes downward to the golden hair that hid her friend's countenance. She had forgotten for awhile that this silent battle had been fought by not one but two people. Gabrielle needs Xena right now, she told her mind as she tried to speed up the process she underwent after a battle of the heart. This time she did not have the luxury of disengaging from the world letting the forest surround her till she could re-build the walls that hid her true self.

"Do you want to talk about any of this Gabrielle?" she forced from her lips . She gently pulled back the veil of hair the bard was hiding behind and pushed up on the small chin till their eyes met. Gabrielle was met by a stubborn blue stare as she shook her head no.

"Come on, that voice of yours just saved my life. Can't I hear a little more of it ...please?" Xena asked with a playful wink. "I really have missed it," she added more seriously, and her voice fell deeper with each word she spoke.

"I'm ..scared," Gabrielle spoke her brows furrowed in concentration for the words.

Xena felt like she had been kicked by a Centaur when her companion opened her mouth. She quickly masked the hurt in her eyes as she watched her friend's mouth move. " So much effort, so much coaxing for two little words," she thought to herself. "two little measly words"

"I am, too, Gabrielle," she spoke aloud paused and then added, " I thought I would never get you from those raiders, and you were so hurt."

"Nooo, scared you would leave me." Gabrielle's voice raised showing her frustration. She quickly hid her face in Xena's shoulder, embarrassed.

Xena grasped on tighter to Gabrielle's small frame while she pushed her shoulder up to get her friend's attention. "Hey," she said and pushed again when Gabrielle failed to meet her gaze. "Where am I, Gabrielle?" she queried, a smile now on her face.


"Okay, now why don't we. ."

"Nooooo," Gabrielle's tears started to fall again as she interrupted her friend. " Ares voice.. I heard it...thought you would ..back to him."

"Hush ,Gabrielle, Shhhh," she spoke softly, trying to soothe her still emotionally fragile companion. "I said you saved me. Well, while it is true, you alerted me about that scum trying to sneak up on me. But, I came very close to turning my heart back to Ares, and then I heard your voice. Like I said, you saved me...thank you," she finished her blue eyes laced with unfallen tears.

Chapter 23: "The Price of Failure"

The sound of dead weight dragging through the dirt brought up the gray haired war-lord's face from his planning sessions with his top commanders. His hazy blue eyes glanced in recognition as the burden was dumped in front of him in a heap, but he continued on in his dawn meeting in the solitary clearing a few paces from camp. "Draco is loosing control of his army," the war-lord spoke matter of factly as he fingered his medallion from Ares around his neck. "I want the people of Thrace to know the name of Arcas," he added as he looked down at the crumpled form. A momentary lapse of emotion brushed across his eyes as he narrowed his eyes in disgust as the form by his boots let out a quiet moan.

Arcas stepped over the body as he unrolled the map in his hands and placed it on the morning's dewy grasses. "Kosmas will take his men from the valley while Orestes will approach from the coast," he remarked as he let his finger trace a line to Amphipolis for all there to see. "We all converge here at the next full moon." After a quick salute, he turned his back to his lieutenants in dismissal. The group of ten men scattered quickly. None wanted to be around for Arcas's display of wrath.

"Stay, Nikkos.... where was he?"

"Scouts you sent to check on them picked him up on the road to Therma."


"A few hours before dawn. They just brought him in."



"See that Stephen's family is rounded up and executed before the men. I want to show them the price of failure." Arcas pulled out his dagger as he bent to stand before the fallen warrior. " Dismissed," he ordered curtly, his anger showing through his inflections. "You have betrayed my trust and faith to this army," he rebuked the injured man as he picked up his face by the hair off the ground. Stephen's brown eyes gazed into the hazy blue eyes with trepidation.

"She fought like Ares himself, Talus and Xenobius are dead."

"I don't have the patience for excuses," he muttered as dropped the hold on Stephen's hair. Stephen landed hard on his bruised face. With a quick swipe of his dagger, he cut the man's throat. Stephen stifled a cry as he felt his life ebbing away with each beat of his heart. He knew his life was over the minute that the Warrior Princess had surprised him in the woods. It had just taken a little longer to begin his descent to Tartarus.

Arcas walked out of the clearing towards his tent and immediately grabbed a wineskin. His men's whispers had not been lost from his ears as he passed the campfire. Let them fear me, he thought as he took a long swig of wine and then belched. A hesitant knock disturbed his raging thoughts as Nikkos entered his warlord's tent and cleared his throat.

"Sir , should we send out another party to find Xena and the girl?" he asked meekly due to his commander's reputation for angry outbursts when he started drinking. "Sir where did Stephen say he found them? What are your orders?"

Nikkos ducked as the wine-skin was hurled at him with the force of Hercules himself. He ran out of the tent backwards not waiting for a reply. " I forgot to ask," the old man thought to himself, his anger briefly abated. " Xena, where are you?" he cried out in a desperate whisper "I forgot to ask."

Chapter 24: "Connections"

Blue eyes opened suddenly as the shrill sound of a whistle filled the early morning air. The Warrior Princess reached for her sword as she rolled from her blankets and stood up in one fluid motion. In the corner of her eye, she had already taken note of the empty blankets to her left.

"Gabrielle!" her mind panicked as she took off into the sunlight and
ignoring her leathers and boots.

"By the gods, the other one is back," her thoughts spilled as she let her toes dig into the dewy ground. She ran into the denser growth toward the area of the fight the night before. The whistle rang out again with greater urgency blaring out twice in rapid succession. Xena sprung off the grass and let her body travel just past a clump of bushes. The warrior had already twisted her head in all directions by the time she had landed.

Her blue eyes homed into the quiet figure that gripped onto the pine tree some few odd yards from the corpse she had sent to greet Hades last night. "Gabrielle," she murmured in a "what am I going to do with you" tone as she walked past the thug's body. "You should have buried the two of them last night and gone after the third," she rebuked herself .

"I am here, dear-heart...I'm here" she reinforced as she pried each finger from the tree's base and placed them in her large hands in its stead. "What happened, Gabrielle?" she asked in her rich timbre as she softly squeezed the smaller fingers. Xena had to dig down deep into her reserve of patience as the red-head's gaze transfixed onto the bloody corpse . "I have got to get her away from this," she spoke aloud as she picked up the smaller body. Xena was awe-struck at how the younger woman seemed to try to keep eye contact on the body as if to watch for its resurrection . Xena gently pressed the bard's head to her shoulder and walked faster into the bushes.

Xena stomped the fresh packed earth with her boots while she brushed the dirt from her arms and legs with quick swipes. She had approached this task as she had done with so many others, icy composure and rigid discipline. The Warrior Princess let her demeanor soften as she walked quietly back the short distance to the waterfall and sat down. She let her blue eyes bear down into the pained green ones.

"What happened earlier?" she asked simply, washing her hands and arms in the cool water. Gabrielle wrapped her arms around herself protectively and closed her eyes to the blue stare. The Warrior Princess only moved closer wrapping her own arms around the red head's arms as she spoke again. "Sweetheart, why did you go back there this morning?.... Come on, try to answer me with your voice," she gently encouraged. Gabrielle had been unwilling to speak all morning despite all of the warrior's best efforts at conversation.

Gabrielle shook her head no to this encouragement. "Well I can be stubborn, too," Xena thought to herself " She needs to start talking again. After last night I know she can." The Warrior Princess cleared her throat and leaned over the younger woman's ear.

"Gabrielle, you can talk... you just won't" she said in a parental tone. "I can be patient with you, but only if I know you are trying to fight this war of silence." Xena began to stroke the red-gold hair comfortingly as she waited for an unpromised reply.

"Will trrry," she spoke in a quiet clumsy voice barely above a whisper.

"That's all I ask, dear-heart," she whispered back softly. "You knew that man didn't you?"

"I had to.. saw.. and.." she whispered in jumbled words, as with a hiccup she tried to surpress fresh tears.

"Shhhhhhhhh," Xena responded as she pulled the girl closer into her lap . " I understand, " The warrior reassured her. Xena reflected on the irony that she had just begged speech from a bard whose reputation grew with each village they traveled into. Xena reached her blue eyes deep with in the melancholy green with her own. Come back to me, bard, she thought as she squeezed the bandaged hand and listened to the birds above tree tops.

"I love you, Gabrielle," she said as her blue eyes glazed over with the emotional admission. She shut them quickly before the tears could fall. A soft rap on her cheek drew them back open.

"Looove you!" the red head answered back before settling into a hug. With Gabrielle's arms wrapped around her, the Warrior Princess promised to track down by sunset the one she had injured last night.

Chapter25: "The Message"

Nikkos turned his head away from the campfire's dying embers and looked over at his warlord's tent. "He's still at it," Nikkos griped aloud to his companion who sat across from him sharpening his double edged sword.

"What are you talking about, Nikkos?" Sergious mumbled, not looking up from his task that kept him awake till his watch was over.

"Through the tent flap, don't you see.... He is just staring at that blank parchment with the quill in his hand," Nikkos commented as he threw another branch on the embers to bring them to life.

Sergious laid his sharpening stone on the ground and stared at Nikkos a moment before speaking. "Nikkos, there is talk among the men."

Nikkos looked over his shoulder at the older warlord who now sat writing before he answered his companion. "I know; some are threatening to leave since the execution of Stephen's family today." The war-lord's lieutenant's brow furrowed as he continued to talk , now in a whisper, "They won't desert though. Most are too scared for their own families."

"NNNNNNNiiiiiiiikkkkossss!" a voice thundered through the night air . Its authority set Nikkos on his feet with a jump, he looked at his friend quickly before he entering Arcas's tent.

"Get a runner in Therma, not one of our own and have this sent to Amphipolis," the older gentleman ordered as he addressed the parchment and sealed it. "Now!" he insisted as he handed the message to his subordinate and watched him go. Unable to resist the temptation to look at the parchment's address, Nikkos held the parchment closer to the fire.

"Xena of Amphipolis," he mumbled.

The blue eyes blazed with fury as Arcas poked his head out of the tent and stared at Nikkos. The old man bellowed, rousing the camp from its slumber, "NNNNNNNooooooow!"

Chapter 26: "Musings"

by Wishes

What refuge for the body and the soul,
What fort, what den,
Can ease your fear and suffering
And take us safely through the night
Against dangers clamoring for entrance?
My arms, your innocence
Are all we have
As we place our trust
Within the only refuge that we have,
The shelter of love.

Nearing Stagreiros, the golden Palomino trotted along the road at a fast clip. She ambled easily among the growing traffic as she got nearer to the coastal town. Argo snorted in irritation when the leather clad warrior dug her legs into her muscular sides.

"I know, Argo, it has been a long day and it has been a long haul with two people on your back." Xena spoke in her deep timbre as she ran her fingers through the horse's mane. "You can understand we had to leave though after I saw the bloody trail that guy left end so abruptly in that circle of horses hoofs." She added as she looked down to stare for a moment in the sleeping face of her physically exhausted companion, "We did not need company if the guy lived long enough to tell them where we were," Xena spoke on to Argo. She ended with a tired sigh before she looked back at the road and grasped the horses reins with tighter purpose.

The smell of salt floated in dusk's breeze as the Warrior Princess slowed Argo to a walk.

"See Argo, there is can get a nice stall and a good brushing, and I can change the bard's bandages and get her warm food and a soft bed," She conversed to her long-time friend.

Xena road down into the sea-side town with great familiarity and ease; she had been here many times beginning as a young child with her father. "Father; that's a thought," she reflected to herself sarcastically as she mulled over her childhood betrayal. "I have thought a lot about him since Gabrielle got captured and hurt...I just can't put my finger on it yet."

Xena reached her inn of choice just as full darkness brought out its starry canopy. "Gabrielle," she whispered above the girl's ear as she moved the stray red hair from her face, "Wake-up."

Gabrielle blinked her sleepy green eyes and yawned.

"Hey, careful there, you are on Argo, remember?" Xena's voice masked her obvious amusement as she slid from the horse and lifted Gabrielle to the ground at what was obviously the back door of a quiet inn.

"Stay here," she ordered as she gently pushed the half-awake red-head to the ground and entered the creaking door.

"Eat your lamb stew, Gabrielle," the warrior prodded as she pointed to the bowl before picking up her port again for another long swallow. The younger woman picked up her spoon and looked with disinterest at her dinner. The spoon clattered against the bowl suddenly as a two men walked by Xena's back corner table. Gabrielle was grabbed by two long feminine arms before she could run from the room.

"Come on. Lets go upstairs to our room," Xena said softly as she placed a protective arm around her friend and guided her towards the stairs. On the way up, her blue eyes made contact with the owner and waited for him to come to them. "Could you bring my friend's stew, some goat's milk and me another port to our room please?" she asked politely as she let her fingers run back and forth on her companion's shoulder.

"Sure Xena, your favorite room is waiting for you, and the tub is being filled with hot water for bathing even as we speak," The innkeeper replied his brown eyes curiously watching the fearful red-head who hid her bruised covered face in the ex-war-lord's shoulder.

While Xena bathed in the warm waters of the tub, she watched the bard eating her supper. Her mind demanded a decision from her heart regarding the problems at hand. Xena knew she needed to stop running from their tormentors, but she also knew Gabrielle's recovery was hampering her from considering that option at the present. "It's my fault she is like this," she muttered as she picked up her towel and stepped out of the tub to dry off. The longer it was taking for Gabrielle to heal the more guilt Xena heaped upon herself. She put on a clean shift and walked to the bed-side where the bard sat holding her empty bowl. "Do you want more?" Xena asked matter of factly as she toweled her dark hair dry. "With words, Gabrielle," she added ignoring the shake of the head no that she had just received.

"No.," the red-head uttered slowly and with careful enunciation.

"That's fine" the woman warrior smiled after the bard spoke. "Ready for your bath?"

Gabrielle raised her arms and let Xena pull off the boy's shirt she was wearing and unwrap the bandages from her back and neck. "Your neck is a whole lot better," the healer in her commented. "The stitches can probably be removed in a few more days." Gabrielle dropped the boys breaches and stepped in the luke-warm water. "Careful now, I don't want you to get your bandages wet on your hands," Xena warned as she settled herself on her knees by the tub to help her friend bathe. She picked up the sponge and carefully patted the healing back. The warrior's sharp ears did not miss the sharp intake of breath from the red-head's lips when her hand grazed the healing welts with the sponge.

"Huuurrts," Gabrielle whispered as she blinked back a tear.

"I know, but they look some better. The pain will lessen every day if you behave and listen to your healer," she teased, grateful for the smile she received in return. "Let's finish up and I will get your herbs in your milk." Xena 's thoughts worked on her "plan" as she washed her companion's hair and limbs. Xena knew her own heart was her obstacle in this decision. She felt that both of them would not be safe and recover from this till she caught their tormentor. But Xena also knew Gabrielle needed a warm safe environment in which to heal and feel good about herself again. That warm safe environment was "The Warrior Princess" to Gabrielle. The herbs took their effect quickly as Gabrielle settled in the sheets. Gabrielle's last conscious thought was to reach for her friend's hand as she entered Morpheus's realm.

Xena watched out the window and noted the moon's downward trek. "Dawn still a few hours away," she mused as she closed her eyes and let the sea breeze permeate her senses. Her mind quickly flew backwards to the night she sat on the Potidean beach and the calamity her heart had been in.

"Home," she mumbled aloud as yet another salt breeze tickled her face. "I will take her home."

Chapter 27: "Promise's Weapon"

"If you would just go see her just for a few minutes," Xena argued almost on the verge of loosing her temper to Gabrielle's father. He stood with his back to her, digging through the rubble that had once been his home.

"My eldest daughter is dead," he answered gruffly as he bent down on his knees to carefully examine an object that his hands had unearthed.

"I tell you she is right over there, by the well," the Warrior Princess argued back " and she needs the love and presence of her family right now." Xena clenched her hands behind her back tightly when all she wanted to do was beat some sense into this old man. "What about her mother, doesn't she deserve to see her daughter is alive?" she added . Not a woman of many words, the Warrior Princess grew increasingly angry and irritated after being put into this uncomfortable situation.

"Look, you leave my wife out of this. I had to send her with a caravan of merchants down to my brothers till I could rebuild." He spat angrily. He bore into Xena's blue eyes with green venom.

"She may be alive, but she is no longer alive to us. You saw to that when you bewitched her away from us almost a year ago."

The dark haired warrior turned away quickly almost running away from Gabrielle's charred homestead. If I had stayed one more moment, I would have killed him, Xena told herself. She took several deep breaths trying to get herself under control before she reached the well where her companion sat waiting for her. I am just glad Gabrielle didn't fuss about resting for a few minutes by the well...if she had seen this she would have
been devastated, Xena quietly concluded.

Xena grabbed her sword off her back and began to run. An angry mob of villagers seemed to be pressing themselves around the well. The Warrior Princess did not have to guess why. How could I have been so stupid as to think they would welcome her home? she berated herself as she grabbed her chakram and let it fly. It snapped two farmers' pitchforks off right under the metal prongs before returning to her waiting grasp. Xena saw a group of older women with large rocks in their hands.

She took off with a flying leap and sounded her battle cry loud enough for the whole village to hear.

"Anyone who touches her dies." Xena's deep voice rang out deceptively calm. Her right hand twisted her sword in front of her body in a aggressive threat as she peered down at her red-headed companion. Gabrielle huddled in a ball shaking . I got here just in time, the Warrior Princess thought to herself as she pointed her sword out towards the crowd. "Stand back!" she bellowed and then whistled for her loyal war-horse. Argo charged through the crowd clearing an even bigger path. Xena did not resheath her sword till Argo stood in front of her and Gabrielle. The horse was well trained and instinctively stood as a buffer between the angry crowd and her master.

Xena let her touch do her talking as she gently reached down and drew her friend up in her strong arms in a firm but tender hold. The Warrior Princess glared at the crowd threateningly as she sat Gabrielle up on the horse and quickly raised herself behind the still shocked bard. "I've got you now," Xena whispered as she gently pulled her companion closer into her own body then took off at a full gallop on the road to Amphipolis.

"I'm sorry Gabrielle, if I had been thinking clearer I would have realized that we should wait till things settled down before we visited your home village." Xena's voice rung out ending the silence that had occurred since they had left Poteidaia. If I caused her to slink further into herself just because down into the face of her hurting friend. Gabrielle's cheeks still were wet with quiet tears. She is pale and tired looking Xena noted. She pulled Argo off the road and headed into the privacy and sanctity of the woods.

She knew this area well and soon was at a quiet stream deep in the wood's thick vegetation. Dinner and chores took place under the eerie quiet of both women's inner wars. Both drew within themselves as they dealt with the day's skirmishes , even as they made ready for bed.

"Xeeeena." Gabrielle's quiet voice echoed amongst the crickets from her bedroll in the blackest of night. "Xeeeeeeeena!' she said louder this time reaching for the whistle around her neck. Out of the woods darkness quietly stepped the Warrior Princess.

"I'm here Gabrielle, Shhhhh," Xena whispered as she fell to her knees
beside the red-heads bedroll and took her hand in the darkness.

" won't leave me, too," Gabrielle spoke quietly. "Pleeeaase don't you go too."

The Warrior Princess sighed, her heart struck at the force of Gabrielle's innocent,vulnerable request. She knew it would be hard to go after Arcas if she made this promise but still how could she not? They were each other's best weapon's in this silent war, and Xena knew it. She believed that even though Gabrielle was still emotionally fragile, she trusted this fact too.

"I promise, Gabrielle," Xena's rich voice echoing through the night "No matter what happens in all of this, I promise"

Defenses Greater
by Tammy and Wishes

Defenses greater than the largest fort, walls to the sky,
Offensive support greater than a thousand men, all at my command,
Weapons greater than swords and mace, sharp chakram gleaning,
All wrapped in your loving touch, seeing me through life's wars.

Brightness greater than all the sun's power, illuminating the darkest hour,
Commitment stronger than I deserve, weighted against my wrongs,
Perspective fresher than morning sunshine, serene as evening sunset,
All wrapped up in your green eyes that sparkle with their own light.

A war greater than any fought by man plays havoc and causes pain,
An anger deeper than any I would show threatens our tender bond,
A quiet stiller than your silence lays siege to my frail security,
All this wrapped up in the great unknown and urging that I forget.

Reminders coming quicker in your innocent sleep,
Lessons relearned in your dependent trust,
Battles fought harder in your loyal presence,
Hands clasped together, as we fight on.


Acknowledgments: Many have encouraged me along the way in writing this first story. Thanks, you know who you all are. But a special thank-you goes out to my mentor, friend and editor, Wishes.

You stayed with me every step of the way with patience and encouragement. Poetry in this story has been written by Wishes and Tammy. Poems written by Wishes are "Dare", " Duality" , " Fear of Love", "Innocent Sleep", "Longing", " No Night So Dark", "Refuge", "Returning Home" and "Vulnerabilities". Poems written by Wishes and Tammy are "Defenses Greater" and "Who Are You?" Poems written by Tammy are "Death", "The Lap" and "Silent Cry".