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GENERAL COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: Xena, Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Ares, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction.
Any other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author (meaning Kharis belongs to me). This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
LOVE DISCLAIMER: This story depicts a loving relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.
If you can't stand the idea that two women can have a loving relationship then please keep your closed mind where it belongs and don't bother reading this story. 'Nuff said
This is the second story in my Sins of a God Series that will continue to grow with your support. If you haven't read the first story, And Then There Was Two, some of the events and/or characters might not make sense so check it out before tackling this one. As always...all comments, suggestions, and flames are welcome.
Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4
The Fates' Irony
Brilliant white light glowed upon every orifice of the majestic palace as pearls of teal, salmon, rose, and ivory assaulted the air. Splendid in its glory, the building sighed noticeably as its master paced back and forth within one of its great halls. A stark contrast to the palace that held it, the hall was bathed in darker, sombre tones as was befitting its station. A simple hall, with none of the gilding that was prevalent in the other rooms of the palace, it housed all that was needed for the God of Gods - a floor, a throne - both forged from the stars. Nothing more was needed and nothing less.
Millions of brilliant stars shone down on the dusky hall, illuminating it in a spectral light as Zeus continued to pace back and forth in front of a kneeling Ares. Finally coming to a decision, the God of Gods stopped suddenly and sat upon his throne of stars as he stared down at the bowed head before him. Snorting once he cleared his throat, "My wayward son, how is it that the prophecy was unleashed this fateful day?"
Ares spoke softly never raising his head to gaze into the eyes of the angry God before him; "I don't know father. No god has ever spoken of it and no mortal knows of it."
"Your dear Chosen knows of the prophecy, does she not?"
"Yes, my lord. A small fraction of it, but not in its entirety."
Zeus pondered this for a fraction of a nanosecond before continuing, "Well if it wasn't her then who? A mortal spoke it and now it is set."
"But no mortal knows of it," the God of War whined.
"Ah, that is the crux, isn't it? A mortal did speak it and thus a mortal does know of it. How is that so? How is it so that a mortal knows of this when none of the Gods have ever spoken of it?" Zeus' voice boomed as his ire grew.
Ares shuddered visibly at his father's wrath directed at him and could only stay silent while he waited for the next tirade.
"We have lived for aeons with the prophecy's knowledge and have never broken the sacred covenant by voicing it's destructive tones. Now a mortal has voiced it and we are all held bound to its consequences."
A hand slammed down on the throne's arm as Zeus thrusted his body up and stormed to his kneeling son. Stopping just short of the God of War, Zeus pointed a lone finger at the god and continued, "You will discover how and why this has happened. You will make right what you have done wrong."
Ares looked up for the first time into his father's eyes stammering, "Me? Why me? I have nothing to do with this. It could have been any of the other Gods' Chosens. Mine didn't even know the full prophecy. All that she knew was spoken as has been spoken before. Xena couldn't have known the rest of it."
Zeus' brows furrowed deep in his forehead as he glared down at his wilful son; "Your Chosen was the only one to know even that much. Your 'child' is the one that the prophecy bespoke. You are alone in this. Do you oppose my rule?"
Ares swallowed and shook his head, "No father. I do not. But how do I discover which mortal instigated this?"
"Go see the Fates. They will show you all," the voice boomed as the God of Gods vanished in a heartbeat leaving the God of War in the empty throne.
"Pfft. Bastard," Ares said as he stood up and flicked his hair over his shoulder before disappearing in a brilliant blue light.
The path was well travelled yet still provided obstacles for the weary travellers. Three companions and a golden horse walked single file along the deer path deeper into the forest. They had been travelling for almost a week and had avoided any other travellers by staying within the protective cover of the forest. A tall, bronzed warrior lead the palomino on point, using her hypersensitive senses to pick up any signs of trouble while her smaller, lighter friend walked at the rear to watch their backs. Behind the honeyed mare walked a small girl, dark in looks and nature, grimacing as tired muscles screamed for relief from the long day's walking yet denied it due to pure stubbornness.
Xena looked behind her to Kharis' face and smirked. 'She won't give an inch. Wonder where she got that from?' Raising a brow she spied further beyond and caught Gabrielle's eye, a question plainly seen on the ex-warlord's face. Nodding silently, the bard smoothly closed the distance between her and the girl and placed a hand on the small shoulder.
"How are you holding up?" the bard asked sympathetically.
"Just peachy," the girl mumbled through clenched teeth.
Gabrielle sighed and called out to her friend, "Xena, I think I've had enough for today. Why don't we make camp?"
Xena forged on ahead; "Alright, Gabrielle. I know of a good spot just up ahead. We'll stop there for the rest of the day." The warrior knew that she would never get any admissions of weakness from the girl. Xena and Gabrielle had discussed ways of allowing Kharis to maintain her dogged pride over being weaker and less suited to the long travelling that they all had to do. Gabrielle calling a halt seemed to work best.
The past week had shown Xena how strong willed the girl really was. After their first day of travel Xena had called a halt, yet Kharis refused to stop thus forcing the warrior and bard to continue on. A candlemark later the girl collapsed from exhaustion, landing on her still broken hand. The pain mercifully rendered her unconscious and thus announced that the group was to make camp right there. Refusing to ride Argo had been an especially sore spot with the girl.
|"I'm not riding that beast!" Kharis said emphatically.|
Xena was getting madder by the second as her efforts to speed up their travelling time was thrown out to the wind by the bull-headed child in front of her; "Kharis, Gabrielle and I have been walking for years now. Our bodies are used to maintaining a fast pace over a long distance, yours isn't. If you ride Argo then we'll be able to keep that pace. With you walking, you'll only slow us down."
"Then I'll just have to walk faster, won't I?" The girl said defiantly.
Xena was once again surprised at the girl's abilities. She had indeed increased her pace, which enabled the trio to make better time then what Xena had originally thought. Calling a stop to the day's travel was another story. Never wanting to accept compassion Kharis refused to stop if the warrior suggested it, fearing that it was just a pity call. Gabrielle on the other hand was another story. Kharis trusted her completely and bent that will of hers to accede to the bard's demands. Whether it was to lie still while Gabrielle rubbed sore muscles, eat the meal that was set before her, or stop for the day.
Spying a break on the trees, Xena headed towards the sound of water that she had focussed on for the past few minutes. Coming through the trees onto a shady glen beside a small river, the warrior stopped and surveyed their new campsite. Pleased, Xena moved Argo to the side and began to unpack the mare of her saddlebags and tack.
Tired beyond belief, Kharis slowly walked to the river and stood wavering by its edge, wondering if she should collapse in the water and allow it to carry her away. Deciding that it would have delighted Xena to be rid of her Kharis began to collect firewood, muscles protesting to stop the assault.
A hand quickly snatched the small branches out of Kharis' arms as the bard's soft yet demanding voice ordered her to stop; "I'll do that, Khar. You go ahead and set up your bedroll. I want to see you in it before I get back. Got that?"
Relief numbed the girl's mind as she wordlessly nodded her head. Walking back to where Xena had left the saddlebags and their gear Kharis silently reprimanded herself for giving in so easily. She should have finished what she had started, but the bard's voice clearly said that an argument was out of the question. Surprisingly, Kharis couldn't find it in herself to argue with the woman. Despite her own internal protests she easily succumbed to the bard's authority time and time again since they began to travel to the Amazon's territory.
Grabbing her bedroll, the girl noticed where Xena had already set up a ring of rocks for the firepit. Looking for the warrior, and not finding her around, the girl quickly unrolled the soft fur and laid it down on the opposite end of the glade, away from the firepit. Her desire to be as far from the ex-warlord as possible was stronger then her need for warmth. Luckily she was her own furnace and easily slept through the cold nights with only the fur over her shoulders.
Flopping down on the roll Kharis quickly closed her eyes and concentrated on removing the pain from her legs and shoulders. She learnt very quickly that pain was something you could actually control, to a point. Hanging on the cross, bloodied and bruised, showed her that. The mind was a powerful thing and the girl was quickly learning how to use it to its full potential.
Slowly, ever so noticeably, she was gaining confidence in trusting her senses to allow her to survive. The minute sounds of the forest and its dwellers now screamed in her ears, where once before they weren't even acknowledged. The sharp pungent smells of her surroundings invaded her nose with such force at times that she had to use all of her strength to control the retching that would sometimes come unexpected. Her eyes picked up tiny details that where once overlooked due to inattention. All in all her whole being was becoming alive at such a fevered pitch that she was sure she would explode from it all. 'I wonder if this is what it's like when you're born? All of a sudden to hear, see, smell, or feel anything and everything all at once' It was a scary thought yet comforting in its own way.
Allowing her mind to wander, Kharis relaxed a fraction, shutting her mind out to the pain and everything around her, as she pondered what it would be like to be reborn. Not the rebirth she experienced that fateful night, but to actually become self-aware. Deep in her thoughts, Kharis never heard Xena enter the glade to stand over the small girl.
Xena looked down on the child and frowned when she saw the girl's leg muscles convulsing from exhaustion. The small, dreamy smile on the girl's face belied the pain that was obviously cursing through her body. Kneeling down, the warrior slowly started to knead the muscles as Kharis continued to daydream. The pain had been blocked out to such an extent that the girl had no feeling below her waist, which was fine by her, as she continued to imagine being born.
Gabrielle looked over to where Kharis had set up for the night and was startled to see the girl allowing Xena to touch her, let alone be within a ten-foot radius of her. Walking up to the two, the bard smiled down at the peaceful expression on the girl's face. 'Where is she right now?' Placing the firewood down Gabrielle sat down cross-legged and started to knead the other leg's tired muscles. The two friends worked quietly and efficiently until the muscles had stopped their spasms and had relaxed completely.
The smell of leather and armour brought Kharis out of her thoughts with such a jolt that panic suddenly set in to her brain. Flicking open her eyes abruptly, the sight of Xena touching her legs made Kharis' skin crawl prompting her to react violently. Kicking her legs from under the two woman's hands, the girl scrambled backwards until she was clear and free to bolt up standing. The look of primal fear clung to her eyes as she realised what had been happening.
Gabrielle reacted first to the child's fear; "Shhh, Kharis. It's all right. Your legs were cramping badly. We were just trying to calm them."
Xena sat back as a small smile started to cover her lips. The girl's reaction was expected and the warrior had no doubt that it would have happened much sooner if Kharis wasn't so good at blocking everything out of her mind.
"It's your own fault Kharis," Xena said as she casually stood up. "You should have allowed some of your senses to continue to function here and now, instead of dragging them into your mind."
Dismay registered in Kharis' eyes when the warrior called her on her lack of awareness. The rebuff stung deeply for some strange reason. Anything the warrior had to say to the girl was usually in one ear and out the other, or so Xena thought. Despite herself, Kharis admired Xena with such zealousness that only visible disdain allowed her to maintain her composure whenever the warrior happened to say anything to her. Which, was thankfully, not very much.
"Don't you dare patronise me," Kharis rebuffed angrily.
Shrugging, Xena walked back towards the bushes where she had dropped the night's hunt to retrieve it; "I was stating a fact." Grabbing the three hares, the warrior strolled to the river and began to skin and gut the evening meal, leaving Gabrielle to soothe the girl's pride.
Recognising the torment in the girl's eyes, Gabrielle decided that enough was enough and grabbed Kharis by the shoulders, pulling her into a hug. Struggling to break free, Kharis tried to push herself away but the bard's strong, toned arms held the girl fast. Succumbing to the hug was almost painful for the girl; it was admitting weakness but the bard's light, yet firm touch around Kharis' shoulders was not to be argued with.
Small, subtle shaking began at first, as the girl relented to the warmth of the hug. Random thoughts of home, security, and peacefulness overwhelmed the girl as she started to cry silently. Giving in to the pain, Kharis finally surrendered her heart as the gentle bard, who whispered soothing tones into the girl's ear, held her.
"That's it. Let it out. I've got you and won't let anything happen to you," Gabrielle said as she stroked the ebony hair. Glancing in Xena's direction, the bard caught the warrior's eye and raised a silent question. Xena shook her head to the plea only to have misty green eyes close slightly as the face clearly said 'get over here'.
Xena was adamant not to interfere but Gabrielle's reading of the girl's mental state was dead on and the warrior grudgingly knew to trust the bard's instincts. Placing the gutted hares by the fire, the tall warrior silently moved beside her friend, towering down over the sobbing girl.
Gabrielle cautiously removed her arms from around Kharis' body while slowly pushing the girl into waiting bronzed arms. The girl went willingly, unable to control her body as it continued to release the pressure that had been building for over a week now. Stooping down, Xena picked Kharis up easily, gently cradling the girl in her arms. Small, yet strong arms went around the warrior's neck as Kharis buried her face into Xena's shoulder.
The warrior's face softened slightly as Xena held the small girl in her arms. The usual knee jerk reaction at being touched by the warrior was held at bay for the time being. Walking over to Kharis' bedroll, Xena sat down cross-legged and shifted the girl's position to rest more comfortably in the warrior's lap. Humming softly at first, the warrior began to slowly rock.
Visions of Solon danced in Xena's eyes as the warrior felt a pang of regret that she was never able to comfort her own son in this way. Never would. Sending the pain down into the dark, the warrior started to hum an old child's tune softly. Sensing that her voice was soothing the girl's sobs, Xena gradually started to sing the tune in her deep, clear voice.
Rest my child put your fears away
For every dream that has but fears
You're safe and sound within my arms
Sensing that the girl had stopped crying, Xena looked down into bright, flaxen eyes that searched the warrior's face wistfully. Recognising the look, Xena smiled down and allowed the girl to see the person behind the usual stoic mask of a warrior, "Feeling better?"
Kharis swallowed the lump that was still present and cleared her throat, "Yes. That was beautiful."
"My mother used to sing it to me when I was a small child."
"I can't imagine you ever being small," Kharis said with all certainty.
A low rumble of a chuckle escaped the warrior's lips as she lifted the girl off her lap and placed her down on the bedroll; "Oh, I was. But not for long." The sparkle in Xena's eyes was apparent and brought a small smile from the girl.
"I could believe that," Kharis said as she dashed a look in the bard's direction. Gabrielle had sat by the fire, cooking the hares, while Xena soothed the distraught girl. The song was one she had never heard before and brought a tear to the bard's eye as she watched her friend comfort Kharis in a manner that Solon was denied.
"Dinner will be done soon," Gabrielle said as she flipped one of the hares over on the frying pan. "Why don't you guys go and get yourselves cleaned up."
Xena sighed as she stood up, offering her hand to help the girl up; "Yes, mom."
Kharis laughed at the term of affection coming from the warrior and suddenly realised that all of her original perceptions of the warrior weren't even close to what the real person was. Accepting the hand, Kharis was lightly picked up and deposited on her shaky feet in one fluid motion. Kharis gasped at the sudden show of strength, making Xena chuckle again as she wrapped an arm around the girl's shoulder and took her to the water's edge.
The warm contact around her shoulder made Kharis feel safer then she had in a long time. Understanding finally that safety wasn't necessarily from your own hands or actions Kharis stayed as close to the warrior's body as possible while they washed their hands and faces.
Alarms no longer rang in her ears as she brushed Xena's bent leg with her hand. The hatred and fear she once felt was now replaced by a calm acceptance. She no longer had anything to fear from the warrior, that she knew at the bottom of her soul. Why she had distrusted the woman, who saved her life, Kharis couldn't remember and was ashamed because of it.
Sensing that something was wrong Xena playfully splashed some water in Kharis' direction to grab the girl's attention, "What's up?"
Kharis shut her dark mood back where it came from and gazed at bright, azure eyes looking her way; "I'm sorry for being such a harpy. I don't know what came over me."
"You've had a horrendous experience so don't apologise. It will take you quite a bit longer to get over it, if you do," Xena replied bluntly.
"That's no excuse. You saved my life and I've shown nothing but disdain and hate towards you. For that, I do owe you an apology. I just don't know what's happening to me. One minute I'm myself, the next I'm not. I just feel...feel..."
"Empty?" Xena offered.
"Yes!" the girl exclaimed, happy that someone might understand how she was feeling. "Empty but also full of..." Kharis didn't want to say, afraid that saying it would make it true.
Xena understood where the girl was leading. The warrior was prone to moods of darkness and could readily see it reflected back in Kharis' eyes, as if Xena had been looking in a mirror-glass.
Nodding, Xena stood up and gazed down the river's path, "Darkness. I feel it also, more times then naught. It's Ares' gift to us."
"How did...how is he...?"
Cerulean eyes darkened as the mask came back to Xena's face. "He's my father also," the warrior said plainly.
"When did you find out?" Kharis asked quietly, intuitively realising that this topic was something that the ex-warlord never discussed - but would for the girl's benefit.
"When I was driven mad by the Fates. They were punishing me for not seeking retribution over my mother's murder of my father."
"But I thought your father..."
"He is. But my mother killed the man who I thought was really my father. He was supposed to sacrifice me to Ares and mother wouldn't allow that so she took an axe to him. I was free from Ares hold and was with Gabrielle at the time that the Fates got involved. Ares encouraged them to drive me mad unless I killed my mother. I refused and was going to throw myself off a cliff when Ares showed up and said some things that helped me put some pieces together. I went back to the Fates and challenged Ares to a duel. I beat him and that proved I must be a demigod at least. With Mother and Gabrielle's help I was able to prove to the Fates that the man she had killed was not my real father - Ares was. And that was that."
Kharis stood silently by Xena as what was revealed sank into her brain. One thought forced itself to the surface and lay true to her heart, "How did you feel about it?"
Xena shrugged as she turned to start back to the fire, "I didn't. I ignore the fact as much as possible. As long as I'm not with him then it doesn't matter. I make my own way in this world now and no bacchae dunghill of a God is going to lay claim to me."
Kharis thought about what she was told before reaching up and lightly touching Xena on the arm to stop her. Pain was clearly evident in her eyes as she summoned the strength to ask the question that had burnt in her brain ever since she found out who her father was; "Why did he tell me?"
Xena was at a loss for words. How to tell the girl her destiny was already laid out by the God of War. Because of him, the child was destined to be the One. Masking her apprehension Xena allowed an eyebrow to rise as she contemplated what to tell and what not to tell. Deciding that honesty was always better then not Xena took in a breath and gazed down into frightened golden orbs.
"Because he wants to claim you and prepare you to be his Chosen."
Kharis nodded at finally hearing what she had known all along. Darkness suddenly engulfed the girl's thoughts as she accepted the knowledge that she was a tool for a God and nothing more. Seeing the same darkness within the ice cold eyes of the warrior before her, Kharis felt a kinship stronger then what she ever felt with her own brother. The thought made her feel suddenly invincible. If Xena was able to stay away from her calling as Ares' Chosen then so could she.
A feral smile quickly darkened the girl's face even more as a happy voice belied the appearance; "Then I guess he's going to have a fight on his hands."
Xena's own wild smile brightened as a loud deep laugh emitted from the warrior at this proclamation; "Oh I'm sure he will."
Morning came too quickly for Kharis as she lifted her head out of the furs. The fire was blazing against the morning chill, which meant that Xena was already up and out. Snatching a glance at the warrior's bedroll and only seeing one lump hidden underneath, the girl smiled. Gabrielle was not a morning person, never rising before the sun was fully up, unlike the warrior.
Dashing down to the river, Kharis splashed ice cold water on her face, fully awakening her senses. Cocking her head to the side, the girl listened for any tell tale signs that the warrior was within the vicinity. Hearing a faint whistle, Kharis started towards the sound, quietly making her way where Xena was doing her morning drills in a clearing away from camp.
Stealing up to a fallen tree, the girl slowly popped her head over its top to watch the magnificent woman before her. The dance was remarkable. A dance of death finely tuned to that of only the warrior princess' body. Each stroke, parry, and thrust was perfectly timed and evenly matched with the punches, kicks, pokes, and flips that were part of the ex-warlord's arsenal.
Kharis marvelled as Xena completed one set of difficult drills only to slide effortlessly into an even more complicated set. Punch, thrust, parry, flip, kick, flip, thrust, swipe. Motions that moved with unbelievable speed. Entranced, the girl peeked over the log even more, giving herself away to the warrior's trained eye.
Snatching her chakram from her belt, Xena threw the disc towards the girl while in mid-flight from an extremely difficult triple flip. Landing on the ground lightly the warrior stole a glance in the direction of the girl's semi-hidden presence to watch Kharis pick the chakram out of the air. Smiling to herself, Xena continued with her drills as Kharis stared dumbfounded at the shiny golden object in her hand. She only had a second to react at the deadly disc flying her way and grabbed for it before she even consciously knew that it was there.
Surprised that she had stopped its flight, Kharis stood up dazed as Xena finished her final drill. Breathing only slightly heavy, the warrior stood in the middle of the open clearing watching the girl's reaction to what she had just done. Xena knew she would catch it. A demigod's reactions are faster then those of any mortals and the girl was a demigod through no stretch of the imagination. Despite herself, Xena glowed at the girl's achievement. It had taken the warrior over a year to master the chakram's return catch. Kharis could do it without a thought.
"Kharis, come here," Xena called to the girl who stood staring down at the chakram in her hand.
Shaking her head to clear itself, the girl silently slipped amongst the dense underbrush until she was in the clearing.
Xena held out her hand for the chakram, "How did I know you where there or how did you catch it?"
Kharis shrugged as she handed over the disc; "Does it matter really?"
"Actually it does," Xena said as she sheathed her sword behind her back. "When it's a matter of life and death, both matter. For the first, I'm always on the alert for anything, even when I do my drills. You should always be aware of your surroundings with your eyes, ears, and nose. I heard you moving up to the tree and saw you out of the corner of my eye during one of my flips."
Flipping the chakram up and twirling it on her finger Xena continued; "Now to explain how you caught it? That's one of Ares' gifts, as Gabrielle calls them. Considering that anything that comes from Ares should be considered a curse I guess you and I will have to accept them as gifts. You are already at the point where your body will react before you even have a chance to think, which is good. I just wanted to test how quickly you'd react. I knew you'd catch it, your own self-preservation dictates it."
"So is that why you can do what you just did?"
"To a small degree yes, but mostly no. That was from many years of hard work and practice. Which you are going to be starting right away," Xena said with a mischievous grin as she placed her chakram on her belt once again and drew her breast dagger. Flipping it over in her hand she handed it to the startled girl.
"I thought you've already decided I know how to throw one of these?"
"You're not going to throw it, Khar. You're going to learn how to fight with it," the warrior said as she unsheathed her sword.
Pale, yellow eyes looked down the sword's shaft before resting on Xena's face, uncertain whether she was right to totally trust the obviously maniac warrior in front of her; "You've got to be kidding."
"Nope," Xena said as she twirled the steel blade around her arm.
"How can a dagger possibly defend against a sword?" the girl asked as fear slowly griped her body inch by inch.
"Easy," Xena replied as she suddenly sent her blade slicing through the air towards Kharis' head. Instincts kicked in and the girl jumped back out of the way of the blade's deadly path. "You jump forwards, not backwards, and stab in the groin or stomach region. Depending on who you are fighting of course."
"That's not nice, Xena," Kharis chided as she calmed her fragile nerves. "You could have warned me first before you were gonna slice my body in two."
The warrior shrugged as she sheathed her sword and walked towards a small stand of trees, "I could have stopped the downward swing if you didn't move fast enough but I knew..."
"Yeah, I know, that I'd get out of the way. You know, you really are psychotic," Kharis said disgusted.
Xena smiled as she rubbed her body down with a towel that had been hanging on a nearby tree; "I've trained many men and have never been wrong in any of my approaches."
"So you do that to everyone you train?"
"Nope. Only you."
Kharis snorted, "I feel honoured."
Xena smirked as she motioned towards the dagger; "You keep that and use it when you have to. When we get to the Amazons we'll get you a sword and start you on drills."
Surprised at this announcement Kharis quickly became leery, "Why this sudden turn around? I thought you told Ares that you weren't going to train me to be like you?"
Xena laughed as she started to head back to camp, forcing the girl to jog up along side her, "I'm not training you to be like me. I'm training you to defend yourself. You're already too much like me as it is, so it's useless to leave you to just the Amazons for your training."
Kharis accepted the answer willingly as she jogged beside the warrior and her brisk pace. Xena looked down at the sable head bobbing beside her and sighed internally. 'The closer I have you near me the better chance I'll have at thwarting the prophecy. I don't want to see anything bad happen to you ever again.'
Realising that her emotions towards the girl had changed Xena smiled. She fought any desires she had to turn Solon into a warrior and thus allowed him to stay with the centaurs to make his own way. Kharis on the other hand, had no choice. It was her destiny to be a warrior. This, Xena realised, was the way of things and to try and change them was folly. The only thing the warrior could do in all good conscious was to stand by the girl and help her realise that there was more then one way of being a warrior.
Xena stopped just before entering the campsite, pulling Kharis around to face her; "Kharis, there are a lot of things from my past that I am ashamed of. I don't want you to become what I was. If I do help train you, you are going to have to promise me one thing."
"Promise me, that no matter what, you will do what I say. Even if it seems like I might be leading you astray or endangering any of our lives. Promise me."
Kharis looked up into fiery blue eyes and with all conviction promised, "I promise, or may Hades damn my soul to Tartarus."
Satisfied that the girl would hold the promise till the day she died, Xena pulled the girl into a large hug and laughed; "You know. I never had a sister before."
Kharis' muffled giggle carried to the warrior's ears, "Me neither. I've only had a brother."
"Same here. Two to be exact," Xena smiled as she released the girl. "Guess we're gonna learn together what being sisters is like, huh?"
A playful smile crossed Kharis' face at suddenly being acknowledged by the warrior as more then just Ares' other Chosen; "Does that mean I have to wear smelly leather and armour like you?"
A lone eyebrow rose into raven bangs. "Are you calling me smelly?" the warrior drawled, muscles lightly tensing for action.
Waving a hand in front of her face, Kharis beamed as she slowly backed away from the menacing warrior; "Well you do need a bath I think. >From the drilling and all, of course."
Twin eyebrows were now hidden amongst the warrior's bangs and she slowly approached the girl, arms extended; "Well then I guess we'll both have to take a bath."
Screaming, Kharis took off at a dead run towards the sleeping bard. Counting down from three Xena waited until one, then released the tension that had been building in her legs into a double summersault that brought her landing in front of the bard. Running right into the solid warrior, Kharis gasped as hands quickly picked her up and hoisted her over the warrior's dark head.
Jogging to the small river with a struggling girl over her head, Xena quickly placed the girl down in front of her and held her fast with one arm. Scooping the other arm down in front, the warrior quickly started to splash water over the girl's face and head. Laughing hard, the cold water only added to the girl's hysteria as Kharis was quickly drenched before she could even retaliate.
Finally freeing an arm, the girl quickly started splashing water over her head, aiming hopefully for the woman who was holding her down. A startled gasp was heard behind the two sisters as Gabrielle wiped dripping water from her face.
"Couldn't you two do that somewhere else? Such as away from me?"
Both the warrior and girl looked at each other and smiled as they read each other's mind. Looking at the bard in unison, Xena released Kharis and both rose from the water's edge.
Realising that she was their intended prey, Gabrielle started to back up and away from the water while waving her hands at the two dark bodies; "Now guys. Come on. I just woke up. Be nice."
Kharis smirked up at Xena as she wiped her dripping hair from her face, "Did she say nice?"
"I think she did. Aren't we nice?" Xena smirked back.
"We'll just have to show her," the girl said as she leapt for the bard who by now had turned to flee. Missing an arm by a hair's breath Kharis took off after the bard while Xena leapt into the air, grasping an overhanging branch. Travelling hand over hand through the branches, the warrior moved in front of the fleeing bard's path and flipped down, grabbing Gabrielle and forcing her to the ground.
Gabrielle yelped as her arms were pinned over her head by her friend while Kharis slid to a stop and knelt down beside the now immobilised bard, "What shall we do to prove how nice we are?"
Xena smiled evilly as she nodded towards the bard's open stomach, "I think she needs a little tickle torture."
Forest green eyes opened wide as Gabrielle struggled to break free from Xena's grasp, "Now Xena. You know that's not nice."
Kharis chuckled as her hand slowly, delicately, made it's way to sensitive exposed skin, "Not nice for you, but nice for us."
Fits of laughter intermingled with screams floated over the campsite as the torture proceeded. First one, then another fell to the ground as each gained an upper hand on the other and proceeded to tickle who ever was within reach. Slowly, the laughter died as three bodies gasped for air, looking up at the clouds floating by.
"You were supposed to go for Gabrielle, not me," Xena said slightly miffed at the girl lying beside her.
Gabrielle laughed as she flopped over onto her stomach and tousled Kharis' jet-black hair, "That's my girl. Go for the strongest first."
Kharis sighed happily, "Well sis, you presented too much of an easy target. I had to take the opportunity when it presented itself. Pay backs are a bitch aren't they?"
Xena grinned at the unconscious affirmation, 'Sis. I like that better and better.' Pushing herself up from the dirt, Xena got up and stood between Gabrielle and Kharis. Reaching down to grasp the two arms, the warrior hauled the light bodies up onto their feet effortlessly.
"We should eat then pack up camp. We have a long way to go before we're in Amazon territory."
Kharis looked over to where Argo was hobbled and sighed, "Guess you're gonna want me to ride that beast of a horse of yours, huh?"
Shaking her head the warrior stooped down and started to throw more fuel on the fire; "Nope. You're going to walk like us. Best way to build stamina. In the mornings you'll run with me and start basic drills with a branch until we arrive at the Amazons. Your carefree days of just walking and collapsing on the bed roll are over, Khar."
The girl snorted at that last statement, "Carefree, huh? I'll have to remember that when I want to kill you for just pushing me too hard."
Gabrielle giggled softly, "You'd have to catch her first though."
Kharis smiled deviously as a quick thought came to her head, "Oh that'll be easy. I'll just make sure she doesn't hear me when I approach her. I have many skills you know."
Both bard and warrior laughed instantly while proceeding to prepare the morning's meal, leaving a confused Kharis to figure out what was so funny.
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