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A Past Remembered

By Anita Louise

Copyright 1997

Chapter Fourteen

Daybreak leaked through the trees, as the woman pulled the blanket over the top of her head. "Wake up, we have to be moving." She felt the cover being pulled off and she clung to it as she said, "Go away, I'm tired."

It was as the cold water hit her in the face that she sat up sputtering, "What is going on?"

Eponin smiled down at the woman and said, "Rise and shine, it's another day. We should catch up to them."

Gabrielle slowly got to her feet and said, "Didn't have to throw water on me, I would have woke."

"When, next Solstice? Xena is right, you would sleep through a stampede and never even know it."

Gabrielle had walked over to the campfire and set down. She reached out and grasped a pot as she poured herself a mug of tea, she said, "Yeah, what else did Xena tell you? I'm hungry, is there anything to eat?"

Eponin replied, "It's in the coals."

It didn't take Gabrielle long to poke in the embers and come out with a nice fish. She gazed at Eponin and said, "I suppose you caught this earlier? Don't you ever sleep?"

"You do enough of that for both of us."

After she had eaten, the Bard said, "I want to go take a dip in the stream and get this off."

Eponin walked over and set down by her as she said, "Can't do that, we will travel easier if people think we are men. Guess you will have to wear it for a little longer."

Gabrielle replied, "I'm not too sure but I think this is going to your head. I want to get back to what I was."

"Hello in camp. Got anything to eat for a pair of hungry travelers?" They looked up to see several scruffy men walk from the foliage into their camp, Eponin stood up followed by Gabrielle and said, "We don't have much. but you're welcome to what we have." The men walked over to the campfire and sat down, they laid their weapons on the ground. Gabrielle walked over to a tree and sat. She watched Eponin walk around the camp and said, "What are you doing?"

The woman whispered, "I'm going to check around and make sure they are alone, you keep an eye out, I'll be right back."

Gabrielle walked over by the campfire and sat, as one of the men looked up at her he said, "Well, young man, what are the two of you doing out in these woods?"

She shrugged her shoulders and said, "Passing through, like you."

The other man squinted his eyes and said, "Where you from?"

Gabrielle snapped, "It's none of your business."

In a matter of seconds the man was on his feet, sword in hand he held it toward her and said, "I think this gives me the right. Like I said, where you two from?" The Bard's right leg shot up knocking the weapon from the man's hand as she swung around hitting him with her left leg, he never even saw it coming. The other man had grabbed his weapon and was lunging toward the young man. Gabrielle dove to the ground as both hands struck out at his ankles sending him face first into the dirt. The woman flipped to her feet and chopped the man across the back of his neck. "Bravo, Xena couldn't have done it any better."

She turned to see Eponin walking toward her. "You saw this?" The woman nodded as Gabrielle continued, "Then why didn't you do something?" Eponin walked over and turned the men onto their backs, squatting she began to look through their pockets. "Looked to me like you had it under control."

Gabrielle replied, "Xena is always giving me these tests, and we do get into some pretty heavy skirmishes. Guess I have learned a few things. I still could have used some help"

Eponin stood as she replied, "if you had needed any, I would have been there. Let's tie these two and be on our way."

Gabrielle asked, "Did you find anything in the forest?"

The woman nodded, "A few of their men, from what I gather, they are bounty hunters. The Athenian Army has a reward out for us, dead or alive. We had better be real careful from here on, if you are through, let's go." Gabrielle tied the last knot and hurried to catch the tall Amazon.

Savior seemed to be happy to see the Bard and Gabrielle said, "He seems to know me, is that possible?"

Eponin walked over to her and said, "Animals have this keen sense of smell, you may look different, but the horse knows it's you."

Gabrielle patted the animal and replied, "Must be some sense of smell."

After they were mounted and on their way, Gabrielle asked, "What do you know about Thebes?"

Eponin called back, "People call it the seven-gated city. It holds the greatest power of Greece."

Gabrielle sighed and said, "Sounds like we are going from the frying pan into the fire." They had been traveling most of the day as Eponin reined the horse to a stop and said, "There, in the valley, Thebes." Gabrielle stared down on the region of fertile land, there was a mist rising from the ground spiraling into the air. "We can't seem to get away from the fog, it's all over."

Eponin urged the horse on as she said, "It hides many things."

Gabrielle replied, "How are we going to get in?"

Eponin answered, "Just watch."

As the horse stopped, the large wooden gate swung open and a soldier stepped forward saying, "What brings you to Thebes?"

Eponin jumped down from the horse and said, "We are looking for Krispies, we were supposed to meet him in Athens but when we arrived, he had already left."

The man looked at Gabrielle and said, "You'll find him at the end of the street, he brought two prisoners in." Eponin thanked the man as she led the horse into the city. Gabrielle slid off and said, "What now? We are in, but Krispies isn't going to let us get near them."

Eponin smiled as she said, "You'll see."

Gabrielle tried to jump the many puddles as she stared at the buildings, Most of them were two floors, there were no windows to be seen. They walked past taverns that seemed to be pocketed in between. There were piles of refuse cluttering unswept wooden platforms. The city could be an adventure but she preferred the life far away from this way of living.

Eponin turned to glance at the woman and said, "Well, we are here, if you have any special prayers, I suggest you say them now. I am going in, if I don't come back out, get out of here." Before the Bard could answer, the woman had entered the large stone building. Gabrielle walked Savior over to a hitching post, tying the animal to it as she turned to gaze at the huge building. It didn't seem like long before the door opened and Eponin gestured her to come in. She walked across the dirt packed street, approaching the woman she asked, "What now?"

Eponin replied, "I told them we were sent to assist Krispies with the prisoners, they believed me, Krispies is at a near by camp. Just keep up your cover." Gabrielle followed her into the torch lit room, her eyes darted around at the men that were going about their business. Crafton walked up to Eponin and said, "If you follow me, I'll take you to the prisoners."

They had walked through several doors and down stone steps to the Dungeon. The man walked over to a cell and said, "Your prisoners, Krispies will be back within the day." He turned and left. Eponin stared into the darkened cell each trying to see the two women. Eponin walked over to a wall and removed a torch. She held it up to the bars as it sent an eerie glow into the room. Gabrielle gasped as she saw Xena. The woman was leaning against the wall, and Ephiny was laying beside her. Xena looked up at the two men standing outside the cell and snarled, "Getting your thrill for the day boys?"

Eponin walked over the far wall and brought back the keys and unlocked the door. Gabrielle stepped into the cell and said, "Are you all right?" In an instant the woman was on top of her, sending her crashing to the ground, Gabrielle stared up at Xena and gasped, "What are you doing?" Eponin reached out and tried to pull the woman off as Xena sent her elbow crashing into the woman's face. Gabrielle whispered, "Xena, it's me."

The woman smirked as she said, "I can see they have sent a boy to do a man's work." Eponin had regained her senses and now had her left arm around the woman's throat as she said, "I have a knife against your back, now let up!" Xena threw up her hands as she got to her feet. Eponin stared down at Gabrielle and said, "This is your friend huh?"

Xena stepped back and said, "I am no friend to the likes of Kriskis and his men."

Gabrielle clambered to her feet, stepping closer she said, "Xena, it's me Gabrielle."

The woman's eyes grew wide as she stared at this young man and said, "Gabrielle? What happened to you?"

The Bard walked over to a foundation and sat down, still trying to catch her breath as she muttered, "Disguise, haven't you ever heard of a disguise?" Xena realized this was her friend and she rushed to her side as she said, "Gabrielle, I'm so sorry, I thought you were another of Krispies' ''men" She reached out and drew the Bard close. She held the woman's face between her palms and said, "By the God's, you are a sight. I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you."

Gabrielle smiled as she said, "Are you all right? I have been so worried."

Xena held her close and said, "Now that you are here, but who is this man that dares to pull a knife on me?"

Eponin walked over extending her right hand she said, "Eponin." Xena stood clasping it and said, "Another disguise, well you two fooled me."

Eponin had walked over where Ephiny lay, she dropped to her knees and said, "What is wrong with her?"

Xena replied, "It's a long story but she is better now. You have to get out of here, Krispies will be back and I couldn't stand it if he captured you two."

Eponin had placed her right hand on Ephiny's forehead as she replied, "Not without you and Ephiny."

Xena answered, "There is no way you will get past the guards with us. Besides, I can't fight."

Gabrielle stared into her face and said, "Can't fight, why?"

"Because Krispies has taken the others as well as Argo somewhere else and has threatened to kill them if I make any attempt."

Gabrielle stood up fuming, "Well, we'll just see about that. Eponin and I have come a long way and we are not leaving without you."

Xena replied, "No, I won't risk the others dying because of me."

Eponin was whispering soft appeasings to Ephiny and Xena took Gabrielle over to the far side of the cell. She placed a hand on the Bard's shoulder and said, "After the initial shock, you are the sight I have been longing to see. I only planned on being gone a short time, I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me."

Gabrielle's eyes gleamed up at the woman as she said, "Nothing to forgive, Xena, I can't stand to see you in here."

Xena sat and she pulled the Bard down with her and said, "Krispies has taken out his anger on Ephiny, if he had you God's know what he might do, Gabrielle, promise me that you and Eponin will leave this place as soon as possible."

Gabrielle replied, "I can't leave you, not again."

Xena placed her right arm over the Bard's shoulder and said, "I have missed you so much."

Gabrielle laid her head against the warmth of the warrior's shoulder as she said, "Me too."

Xena had kept one eye on Eponin and Ephiny who seemed to be getting along great, so she centered all her attention on the woman who was at peace, nestling on her shoulder. She leaned back and placed her left hand under the Bard's chin as she said, "This is not the best place, but I have to tell you something. It has been eating at me and I may never get the chance again."

Gabrielle's face seemed anxious as she asked, "Tell me something, what is wrong?" The woman's lips spread across her face, and her crystal blue eyes sent out a warmth that Gabrielle could feel throughout her body. She met the gaze with one of her own as Xena softly whispered, "Whatever may come, I want you to know I love you. You have become more than just family to me, I don't know when it happened, I only know it did. If we get out of this, I want to pledge my love to you."

Gabrielle's eyes seemed to be fixed as Xena lowered her head and placed a soft kiss on the Bard's lips. Gabrielle didn't move and then with slow methodical stirring, her lips traced the warriors, sending spasms throughout both bodies. She looked up into Xena's shocked face and said, "It's about time, I was beginning to think you didn't care."

Xena smiled as she said, "Not care. Is there a Mount Olympus? By the God's woman, you drive me insane, I want you so bad."

The bard kissed her, softly and said, "You've got me."


Continued in Chapter Fifteen