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by Lynn M. Price
Copyright 1998 by Lynn M. Price. The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, and Argo are the property of "Xena: Warrior Princess" and Universal/MCA. The rest are mine. This story may not be sold and may be archived only with direct permission of the author. Any archive must carry this entire copyright statement.
Lyrics to the song "In My Life," by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Copyright 1965, Northern Songs Ltd.
The events in this story take place between "Been There, Done That," and "The Dirty Half Dozen."
This work contains mild profanity and scenes of mild violence.
This is a first attempt at fan fiction, and is the first in a series of planned stories.
With thanks to the late, great Mark Twain and his "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" for providing the inspiration needed to complete this piece of fiction.
And a great big "thank you" to all of you who write and read fan fiction. You are the wind beneath my wings...
Date of work: 1/1/98-1/10/98
It was late at night when the man from the tavern approached Galvous's encampment. The outer guards refused to let him see their warlord until he said he had information about Xena.
The guards escorted him into Galvous's tent. Galvous was a big man, well over six feet tall. He had a long scar running along left side of face, courtesy of a run-in some years earlier with a certain warrior princess.
"Who are you?" demanded Galvous.
"My name is Darvos. I have information for you about Xena. She's in the area of Risa."
Galvous listened carefully, considering his options. "Does she still travel with that bard, the irritating blonde?"
Darvos nodded. "And that's not all. There's another woman traveling with them, too."
Galvous's eyes narrowed. "Tell me about her."
"She's a little bigger than the blonde. She has short brown curly hair, blue eyes. That's all I know right now, but I have a man following them. He'll learn more. I promise."
"You have done well, Darvos," Galvous said, tossing him a small purse full of dinars. "Keep following them. All three of them. And tell me what you learn. I'm especially interested in that new girl." Darvos smiled, bowed slightly, and left the warlord's tent. After he left, Krius, Galvous's lieutenant, entered the tent, waiting for instructions.
"I've got a lead on Xena," Galvous said his lieutenant. "The main force will remain here. Pick twenty men, Krius. We'll break camp in the morning and head towards Risa. That's where she is. And I want her."
"As you wish, Galvous," said Krius, as he exited the tent.
Galvous smiled. "So, warrior princess, you travel with two women now...and once I have them both, I'll have you right where I want you."
It was the predawn morning of a new day. They were five days out of Risa, near the village of Nikos.
Mariah, as was her custom now, was training more and more with Xena and Gabrielle, working out with the warrior early in the morning and the bard in the afternoon. This was in addition to the sudden ambushes they threw at her. The teacher was getting better; her friends were impressed at her rapidly developing abilities. She soon would be able to hold her own if she got into a tight situation.
Xena, working with Mariah on how to better cover her back, decided to throw in a twist. When Mariah swept her staff back to where Xena was supposed to be, the warrior launched herself up in the air, flipped over Mariah, landing in front of her. Mariah, to her credit, recovered quickly, but not quickly enough.
"By the gods, Xena, how could I defend against something like that? asked Mariah, a little aggrieved. "I mean, come on, how many people can do that?"
"Enough," said the warrior. "And it would only take one." The warrior cut off her words, stiffening slightly. So did the teacher.
"I think there's someone's out there," said Mariah softly.
"Good. You heard him, too. Act like we don't know he's there. I'm going to get Argo and check him out. I want you to look like you're headed back to camp; luckily, it's in his direction. Meet me over there." Mariah said nothing as she begin to gather her things.
Xena whistled and Argo appeared. She jumped on her horse, and sped off to get behind their unknown visitor.
Mariah moved in the direction of the unknown person, her heart pounding faster and faster with each step she took. Her senses were alert, picking up the sites, sounds, and smells of the forest around her. As she entered a thicker part of the woods, she heard a noise to her left. Glancing quickly, she saw a man break out of the brush and run. "Hey!!" she yelled, running after him. When she got in range, she threw her staff at his moving legs. The staff made contact, tripping up the fleeing man. He fell and rolled onto his back, breathing hard. Mariah stood over him, also breathing hard, her staff back in her hands where it belonged. When he tried to get up, she hit him with the staff, knocking him back down. She stood over him, guarding him, until Xena showed up scant seconds later.
If the warrior was surprised at this scene, she didn't show it. She stalked over to the man and hauled him to his knees.
"Who are you?" Xena asked. "Why were you watching us?"
The man refused to answer.
To Mariah's surprise, Xena's hands lashed out at the man's neck, jabbing him in two places.
"I've just cut off the flow of blood to your brain. You'll be dead in thirty seconds if you don't answer my questions."
The man struggled against the pinch as he felt the life drain from his body. "Darius," his voice quavered. "I-I'm Darius."
"That only answered the first part of my question," Xena growled.
"Galvous," the man panted. "He heard you were around here. I was sent to watch you and your friends."
Xena grabbed him by the shirt, her blue eyes narrowing dangerously. "How long have you been watching?"
"Since Risa," Darius gasped, blood dripping out of his nose, near unconsciousness.
Xena stared at him for a moment. Her hand shot out, and she released the pressure point on his neck. Darius collapsed, but Xena didn't wait long for him to recover.
"Just where is Galvous?" she asked him.
Darius knew enough not to resist. "He's less than a day from here. I swear it!" he yelled as Xena made a motion towards his neck.
Xena hauled him to his feet. "Now I want you to take a message to Galvous, bright boy. You tell him to stay away from us if he knows what's good for him. I beat him once and I'll do it again. You tell him."
Darius nodded, fear in his eyes as Xena shoved him away from her. He ran off, stumbling as he moved. Xena had a troubled look on her face.
"Come on," she said to Mariah. "We need to get Gabrielle up and get on the move. Galvous may be closer than he thinks."
"But-how..." began Mariah. "What did you do to him, Xena?"
"Pressure points," the warrior said as she grabbed her friend's arm to pull her along. "I'll explain as we head back to camp. We've got no time to lose." She whistled for Argo, jumped on, helped Mariah up behind her, and rode back to Gabrielle.
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