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A Past Remembered

By Anita Louise

Copyright 1997

Chapter Sixteen

Gabrielle had to admit the water felt good, the few cuts she had received from Sea seemed to feel better. She washed, then laid back in the warmth of the water and closed her eyes. Her mind drifted back to the cell and Xena, would she ever see her friend again?

Her eyes flew open as the door to the cabin opened. Sea stepped into the room as she closed the door. The woman smiled and said, "Now tell me, don't you feel better?" Gabrielle drew her arms over her breasts as Sea walked up to the tub. The woman laughed and said, "No need to be so modest, I have already seen them." She walked over to the bed and picked up a large towel. "Here, I'll hold this and you step out and dry off."

"No thanks."

Sea gazed at her and said, "Either you step out or I'll step in." She held the towel up as Gabrielle stepped from the tub and wrapped the towel around her body. She stepped past Sea and said, "I suppose you're going to try to have your way with me now?"

Sea walked over to the tub and said, "No, for some reason you are special. I will bide my time and you will come to me. After all I am known as a great lover."

Gabrielle turned to look at her and said, "You could let me dress by myself."

"Thought you might need some help, sides this is my cabin so either you dress in front of me or down in the hole with all those men."

The Bard shrugged her shoulders and said, "Great choice, either way someone will be lusting after me." Gabrielle reached up and let the long strawberry blond hair she had pinned to the top of her head fall down about her shoulders. She shook her head as the hair danced backwards and forth. Defiantly she glared at the woman who sat on the bed, her eyes never leaving the form of the Bard.

Gabrielle slowly loosened the towel and let it fall to the floor. With a twinkle in her eye and a satisfied smile on her lips she walked past Sea. She picked up the shirt as she turned to face the woman and slid it on letting it fall and adhere to her nipples. Sea gasped as she whispered, "By the Gods, woman! If it's teasing you're doing, it had better stop."

The Bard smiled and stepped over to the bed and picked up the leather pants. She raised one leg at a time and slowly slid them into the pants, then gently pulled them up as her body gyrated. Gabrielle could hear Sea's heavy breathing and wasn't too sure she should be doing what she was, but it was too late for should be.

Sea stood up as she walked close to the woman and said, "I want you more now, then before. " Gabrielle turned as her body touched Sea's. The woman reached out as her right hand found the front of Gabrielle's pants the Bard moaned. Sea quickly pulled the pants together and fastened them and said, "Next time, I will do it." She turned and left the room.

Gabrielle smiled, she knew she had reached the woman and now she was sure that she could use this to her advantage. Maybe she could find out about the Amazons and get them back to Thebes. One thing she knew for sure the woman did not want to do her any harm.

There was a knock on the cabin door and Saxton entered saying, "The Captain requests your presence by her side, top deck." Gabrielle followed the man, stepping out into the open air she could feel the coolness of the ocean spray as it bounced along the ship. She spied Sea and walked toward her. The woman was standing, hands on her hips surveying what was happening on deck. Gabrielle's mouth fell open when she saw a man being tied to the mast. With his hands above his head, he begged the Captain for mercy. The Bard walked up to Sea and asked, "What has he done?"

The woman looked coldly toward the man and said, "He tried to steal bounty from the cargo hold. You only do that to me once." She raised her hand and the man standing on the deck drew back a long black whip, and tore the shirt from the man's back. The man's screams sent chills through out Gabrielle's body as she said, "Stop it, please, what are you trying to do, kill him?"

Sea ignored her and stood with her jaw squared, showing no emotion. It was as the whip sent it's last crack through the air that Gabrielle jumped from the Helm and ran over to stand in front of the man. She turned to stare at Sea and shouted, "This what makes you Captain? Beating a person to death!" The men all stared at this young woman who would dare challenge their Captain.

Sea glowered down at Gabrielle and said, "Throw his body to the sharks. And Gabrielle, when you are through making a spectacle of yourself, I want to see you in my cabin. And it had better be sooner than the next turn of the sandglass."

The Bard's words rang after her, "Yeah and if I don't?"

Gabrielle watched them toss the limp body overboard as if it was a barrel of refuse. She stood watching it float, as Saxton walked up to her and said, "Best you turn away, when the Sharks feed it won't be a pretty sight. I wouldn't want to be in your shoes young un, calling the Captain out like that in front of her crew, it spells trouble."

Gabrielle sighed as she turned and walked back to the Captains quarters. Approaching the door she knocked as Sea's voice rang out, "Enter!" Softly the Bard opened the door and stepped into the room. Sea walked over to her and said, "How could you, in front of my men? You have put me in a bad position. Either I punish you to save face, or I let the men believe anyone can defy me at will."

Gabrielle looked at her and said, "I'd do it again, it wasn't right, you can't just kill someone because they have made a mistake."

Sea reached out touching Gabrielle's face and said, "If you want to stay alive and not have some man's knife in your back you do. I want you to understand that I have to administer punishment."

The Bard replied, "Go ahead, get it over."

Sea's face held a smile of sadness as she said, "This will hurt me as much as it will you." She called Saxton and talked with the man then she said, "You can walk out on deck willingly or I can have you brought out."

Gabrielle replied, "That won't be necessary, I know what I said, I won't apologize for it." As they walked on deck Gabrielle stared into the same faces she had seen before, as Sea walked up to the mast and said to Gabrielle, "Give me your hands." The Bard obliged and her hands were bound above her head. Sea turned to her men and said, "This woman is not one of us, she does not know the rules of the sea but she will soon learn. It is her first time, and her punishment will be lenient. If it should happen again, she will die."

The man walked over and handed Sea a leather crop. She walked over to Gabrielle tore open the back of the shirt as she whispered to her, "After the third strike, pass out."

Gabrielle's heart was pounding so loud she felt her ears would explode. She called back, "Suppose it's really to late to grovel?"

Sea replied, "Yeah! Try to think of something else." Sea glanced around at her men as she raised the crop into the air letting it bite into the woman's back. Gabrielle's body jerked as tiny fangs of pain tore at her senses, she bit her lip, she had not recovered from the first blow when she felt another cut deeper into her skin. Her head popped back as she gripped the ties above her hand. Closing her eyes waiting for the next she muttered, "Next time keep your mouth shut."

Sea walked up to her and whispered in her ear, "This one, pass out." The deafening pop along with the thirsting leather crawled across her skin like a snake eating it's prey. The woman screamed as her body went limp. Sea walked over and grabbed a handful of hair as she pulled the Bard's head back and said, "She has passed out. That is enough, cut her down and take her to my cabin." Saxton cut her down and carried the woman to the Captains cabin, He laid her on the bed, turning her onto her stomach then left the room.

Sea stepped up to the Helm and said, "Any of you out there want to defy me will meet the same end if not worse, now get back to work!"

She walked into her cabin, feeling sick to her stomach. She had administered punishment before but never had the deep feelings of remorse that she now carried. She walked over to the bed and looked down at the deep red marks across this woman's back. They were already engorged and bleeding. She called Saxton and asked him to bring her some water, cloth and ointment. When the man returned she thanked him and said, "Nothing of this is to travel outside of this room." He nodded and left.

She sighed and walked over to the bed, sitting down she began to administer to the wounds as she traced each one with a quivering finger, placing ointment on them. The woman softly said, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."

She removed the Bard's boots, cut the rest of the shirt off and laid down on the bed next to the woman.

She had drifted off to sleep when she was awakened by moans. She opened her eyes and glanced at Gabrielle. The woman had grabbed the bedding with both hands and was holding on so tightly her knuckles were turning white. Sea reached over and touched the Bard as she said, "Gabrielle, it will be all right. One of the rules of the sea is you will be lashed until you pass out. It could have been worse. Can you ever forgive me?"

The Bard cried herself to sleep her teeth biting into the bedding. Sea got up and put more ointment on the cuts. She had lit a lantern and the soft glow was warming the cabin. The Bard slept for short spells, only to come out of them in agony. Sea prayed she would sleep longer. She laid back down and began to hum as she stroked the woman's hair. The music seemed to help as Gabrielle murmured, "Xena, I knew you'd come."

Sea wondered about this Xena. She had heard many stories about the woman, but for this one to care for her so much, there had to be something special. She was going to find out just what that was.

Eponin was beside herself with worry. She didn't think she had been gone very long but when she arrived back at the table, Gabrielle was no where to be seen. The woman had scouted the entire place and it was as if the woman had vanished. She slammed her fist into the table cursing under her breath.

"What's the matter?"

Eponin looked up to see a robust man walking toward her as she said, "I'm looking for my young friend, I left him for a moment and now he seems to have vanished."

The man grinned and said, "Saw Lena talking to someone at this table, maybe she know's something."

Eponin grabbed the man's right arm and said, "Lena? Where can I find her?" He pointed to the bar and Eponin thanked him and quickly headed in that direction. She walked up to the bar and said, "I'm looking for Lena, I have five Dinars to the person that can point her out to me."

A delicate hand reached out as a woman said, "I'll take that."

Eponin turned her head and stared at the woman as she asked, "You know where I can find her?"

The woman smiled and said, "It's easy, since it's me."

The Amazon placed five Dinars in Lena's hand as she said, "I need to talk to you."

Lena gazed at her and said, "What about? I don't know you."

Eponin said, "It's about a friend of mine, Gabe. I left the young man at our table for a few minutes and now he has disappeared. I was told you were seen talking to him. Did he tell you where he was going?"

The woman's friendly expression changed and she said, "Don't know what you are talking about."

Eponin leaned closer and whispered in her right ear, "Look, I don't have as much time as the Gods, you need to tell me what the two of you were talking about." She started to walk away and Eponin reached out grabbing her right arm. She pulled the woman back and said, "Don't be like that, just when we are getting to know one another." She had twisted the woman's arm behind her back. Slowly she started walking toward the door as she pressed her body against Lena's and whispered, "Let's just take a friendly walk."

Once they were outside, Eponin pulled Lena into an alleyway and said, "I am in a bad mood, so don't go jerking me around, now, tell me about Gabe." She had removed the dagger and now held it to the woman's throat.

Lena stared at this madman as she said, "Don't kill me, I was just doing my job."

"Job, what job?"

She mumbled, "He made me do it."

Eponin was steaming with rage as she said, "This is your last chance, tell me now."

The woman told her all about the Shanghai operation. When she had finished she begged her not to kill her. Eponin released her and said, "Get out of my sight before I change my mind." Eponin took a deep breath as she muttered, "Things have been hard enough Gabrielle, now you have gone and gotten yourself Shanghaied on a Pirate Ship. And of all Ships, The Bounty, what next?"

The woman headed back to the prison, she hoped that Krispies's had not returned and she would be able to talk to Xena. The woman would not be happy.

Ever since Gabrielle and Eponin had left, Xena was anxious. She had paced the small cell so many times that Ephiny felt if she continued, she would pace a hole in the ground and they could just walk out.

Xena held her right hand to her forehead and said, "I can't stand it, I have to get out of here, Gabrielle and Eponin need our help."

Ephiny replied, "It's about time. For such a long time the fire was gone from your eyes, but, I see it has returned. Don't worry about me, I can hold my own."

Xena glanced around the room, the clay pot sat against the far wall, and Ephiny set on the only wooden bench. It was so dark in the room that she had forgot what it was like to see daylight. Xena walked over to her friend and said, "What I am about to do could get you killed."

Ephiny smiled and replied, "Then I will see you in the Elysian Fields."

Xena raised an eyebrow as she said, "Or the other place."

Ephiny was now standing by her side as Xena started to bang on the cell bars. She gave her battle cry and Ephiny lay down on the floor closing her eyes. Within seconds several guards ran into the area. Grabbing torches off the wall they held them close to the bars. Crafton could see the woman laying on the floor and the Warrior staring in disbelief as he said, "What is going on in there?"

Xena turned to them and said, "She's dead, Krispies will have all your heads."

The man unlocked the door and said, "Stand back." He entered the room followed by the other guard. As they neared Ephiny, Xena struck out with her left leg, at the same time Ephiny reached out and grabbed the other man by his ankles sending him to the ground. It didn't take either one long to render the men unconscious.

Xena smiled at Ephiny as the woman said, "You are thinking the same thing I am."

Xena answered, "If Gabrielle and Eponin can do, it so can we. Let's see what we look like as Athenian Guards."

As Eponin neared the Prison she heard loud noises as men came running from the building. Eponin reached out and grabbed a young guard and asked, "What is going on?"

The man replied, "There will be Hades to pay, The Warrior Princess and the Amazon have escaped."

Eponin fought back a shout of glee as she said, "How?"

The man replied, "They overpowered, Crafton and, and another guard and put their clothes on, then they just walked out of the building." He turned, rushing off.

Eponin stared at the bedlam as she said, "Well, that's one down, now you two are out here somewhere and Gods only knows where Gabrielle is."

Continued in Chapter Seventeen