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Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, 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. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. 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.
NOTE: All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.
SPECIFIC STORY DISCLAIMER:
The story itself is about two women who are madly in love, and there will be some scenes depicting that love. There will, however, be NO explicit sex in this story! I figure you all would rather use your imagination for that stuff.
By the way, this is my first attempt at fan fiction, so please let me know what you think by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Constructive criticism only! All other kinds will make me cry...
Last, but definitely NOT least, I need to thank my partner in life for being so supportive in my endeavor. I love you!
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THE DARKLING - PART FOUR
By Lynne Knowlton
As Callisto lay there fuming, she slowly realized just how incredibly stupid she had been. "Son of a fig-wearing, liver-eating Bacchae! What am I, some kind of ... moron??" She reached up to slap herself in the forehead when two things became very evident. Thing number one...her face hurt, and smacking it yet again would not be in her best interest. Thing number two...her hands were, of course, tied to the travois.
She knew just how crazy her explanation would sound to the two women on the other side of the fire. She decided that if this Xena were anything at all like her counterpart, Gabrielle would be the one to work on. She seemed much more open-minded, much less jaded, and definitely less likely to slice her in half with a large sword. She smiled as she realized just how incredible this entire situation was. "By the Gods, I just may have the solution to my problem right here! Now I've got to convince her that I'm telling the truth. But the one thing I've got to figure out is what kind of person my counterpart is. Judging by my tied hands, it's pretty obvious that she and Xena don't get along." She felt confident that if she spent enough time with Gabrielle, she would get them to see who she really was. What she didn't know at the time was that her counterpart in this world was as twisted as Xena was in hers.
She looked over at the two women on the other side of the fire and her throat tightened to see the closeness they shared. They were both staring into the fire and talking in low whispers, occasionally glancing in her direction. The bard was leaning on Xena with her strawberry blond head resting on the warrior's broad shoulder. The warrior, in turn, had her long arm wrapped around her friend's slim waist. Every so often, the two would look at each other with what, to Callisto, was obviously more than just simply the love of two friends. "I don't even think they know." Part of her was happy to see that at least in this world love was still possible...still safe. The other part of her was incredibly saddened by the fact that she would never be able to have what they did. She couldn't afford to.
Not a day went by when she didn't think of her mother and sister who had been murdered in Cirra. She couldn't help it...she had the same dream every night. She shook her head. She didn't want to think about that right now. She would have to see it again soon enough. "Strange, though. I didn't have the dream last night. It must have been the herbs Xena gave me." She laughed a bit as she thought about causing another scene. Maybe Xena would drug her again...at least she wouldn't dream.
She looked again at the two friends with barely disguised envy. She turned her head and closed her eyes. Tomorrow she would talk to Gabrielle and try to convince her.
On the other side of the fire, Xena and Gabrielle were leaning into each other, content in just being together. They had again talked over the "Callisto situation" and come to a consensus that she was, indeed, different. That was all they agreed upon, though. Gabrielle insisted that Callisto had changed and Xena stood by her theory that it was the head injury.
Gabrielle laughed to herself, marveling at how stubborn they both could be. She smiled up at her friend who, in turn, pulled the bard closer to her side.
"I think she's finally asleep." Gabrielle whispered. "And speaking of sleep..."
Xena snorted. "Sleep and food. I swear that's all you ever think about, Gabrielle."
The bard backhanded her friend in the gut and retorted. "I don't either!" She stretched out onto the bedroll with her hands behind her head, growling under her breath.
Xena leaned over, got nose-to-nose with the bard, and grinned. "Gotcha!"
"Ah...uh...huh..." Gabrielle swallowed hard and looked up into the warrior's electric-blue eyes.
"Speechless?" Xena wiggled her eyebrows up and down.
Gabrielle didn't respond. She couldn't respond. For some strange reason, she was completely paralyzed. She couldn't move...not that she would anyway. She was completely, utterly, without a doubt, overwhelmed by Xena's close proximity. Although they weren't touching, she could feel the heat coming from the warrior's skin.
Xena stopped smiling and looked at the bard with concern. "Hey, are you alright?" She slapped her hand against her friend's forehead, checking for some kind of fever.
"Fine." Gabrielle noticed that Xena still hadn't moved.
The warrior's concern slowly changed to an uncomfortable confusion. Her face flushed and she stood with an uncharacteristic awkward movement. "I'm going to check on Argo before we turn in." She quickly moved toward the mare, breathing hard and wondering what in Tartarus happened just then. "Ok. I was a little too close and that's why she looked so strange." She tried to rationalize her reaction as well. "And I'm just reacting to her reaction. Yep, that's it. Yep, yep, yep."
The bard watched Xena brush Argo with certifiably manic strokes. "Oh my Gods. I can't believe I did that! What in Tartarus is wrong with me? I can't believe I just lay there like a...a...some kind of lump! She must think...oh, forget it! I've got no idea what she thinks! She'll never come anywhere near me again!"Gabrielle panicked as she thought of the repercussions of her action...or lack of it. She quickly closed her eyes as she saw Xena finish with Argo and head back to their bedrolls. She pretended to sleep as she felt the warrior lay down next to her and pull a blanket up over both of them. "I'll never get to sleep now. I'm too embarrassed to sleep! I wonder if she'll sleep? Oh Gods, I just know I won't be able to sleep!"
An hour later, the fire had died down. Xena was curled up on her side, sleeping lightly as she always did. Gabrielle was snuggled up against the warrior's back, snoring softly...
She was standing outside the burning hut listening to the agonized screams of her family. She tried and tried to get to them, but the flames were too hot. She looked around frantically for help, but realized that everyone in the village was dead, or dying. She was the only one who could save her family...the only one... "Oh Gods, I'm the only one... and I can't!!!" She raged at Xena, and at the Gods for allowing the warlord to destroy her life. She raged at the injustice of being unable to save her murdered family. She raged...and she watched. It made her sick to see, but she couldn't turn away from the horror. She watched them burn. She watched their skin turn red, and blister, and then begin to blacken. She watched them scream... and scream... and scream... while the hungry flames ate away at their humanity. She watched while their faces and bodies became something terrible and monstrous. Then she watched them fall to the dirt and begin to crawl toward her, blackened claws outstretched, reaching for her; mouths gaping and silent. They weren't screaming anymore, but she was. The sound of her own voice filled her head, and the sound of her heart was like thunder. The cacophony of her rage enveloped her, the sounds interleaving with each other to write a twisted song.
A primal shriek ripped through the night and Xena was up in an instant. She stood in a low crouch with her sword, quickly scanning the area for whatever was responsible for waking her. Gabrielle blinked the sleep out of her eyes and reached for her staff.
"What is it?" She asked the warrior.
"I don't know. Sounded like it might be a wildcat."
At that moment, a tortured howl pierced the air and the women realized that it was Callisto. She lay in the dirt, fighting with her bonds as they tore through the flesh around her wrists and ankles. It was obvious that she was in the throes of one of Morpheus' creations.
The warrior and bard raced to the woman's side and dropped to their knees beside her. Xena deftly cut the leather ties with her breast dagger, while Gabrielle reached out and gathered the woman in her arms.
"Shhh..." The bard brushed the white-blonde hair away from Callisto's face. "Shhh...it's alright. It's ok." Her brows crinkled with concern as she wondered what could cause such obvious pain in another human being.
Callisto slowly awoke with the realization that she was being held in a gentle embrace. She didn't know who it was that held her, but she grasped that person with relief. The emotions of the dream were still with her and she tried to stifle the sobs that lodged in her throat.
The bard held tighter to the tortured woman, stroking her hair and making soothing, nonsensical sounds. She shot an agonized look to Xena, who shook her head, not knowing how to help.
"This is her area, not mine." The warrior reached out and gently squeezed Gabrielle's shoulder. The look on her face made it clear that she couldn't help Callisto, but that she would be supportive of the bard.
Callisto opened her eyes and found the sea-green windows to Gabrielle's soul staring at her. She couldn't tear herself away, as she felt herself being embraced by compassion and forgiveness. She reached up to caress the soft skin of the bard's face. "Thank you." She whispered.
Gabrielle shook her head in confusion. "I don't understand. Why are you thanking me?"
"For being here. For letting me hang onto something real for once in my life. For letting me see something besides pain and hate." She pulled the bard close and gently kissed her on the mouth.
Xena sat and watched the entire exchange. Emotion warred inside her...part of her believed that this was another mind-game that Callisto was engaging in. The other part of her truly believed that Callisto had somehow, miraculously changed and now felt emotion where there had been nothing but a vast wasteland for so long. Her most desperate wish, however, was that this woman would no longer be a part of her, or Gabrielle's life...that this woman would no longer be able to hurt the one she loved most in this world. The very last part of her was incredibly annoyed at seeing Callisto put her lips on the bard. That part of her wanted to rip those lips off and stomp them into the dirt.
The bard's eyes widened at the sudden contact with Callisto. Although she knew there was nothing sensuous or even intimate about the act, knowing that Xena had seen it somehow made her very uncomfortable. She gently pulled away from the distraught woman and looked at the warrior with an apology.
Xena shrugged and gave her friend a wry half-smile. Gabrielle was relieved because she knew that Xena hadn't taken the gesture for anything more than it was.
"Hey." Gabrielle's voice was low and soothing as she spoke to Callisto. "Can you...can you talk about it?"
Callisto gently pushed the bard away and took a deep breath, grateful for a perfect way to broach the subject. "Yes. I can talk about it. But it's more that just the...dream. There's a lot more going on here than you can possibly imagine."
"You got that right." Xena replied with a snort.
Gabrielle gave her friend a somewhat annoyed look. "Xena!"
"Ok. I'm sorry." The warrior acquiesced and nodded, indicating that Callisto should continue.
The slim, blonde woman took a deep breath and began. "This is going to sound crazy, but the only thing I know to do is to tell you the truth.
Xena rolled her eyes at Gabrielle. "She wouldn't know the truth if it bit her in the..." The bard backslapped the warrior in the gut and shot her yet another annoyed look. Xena sighed and resolved to listen.
"I'm not from this...your...world. I came through a portal...a rift...to get here."
"Why?" Xena asked the woman.
"To stop you." Callisto pointed at the warrior. "Not...you, you...the other you." She huffed in frustration. "Gods, I don't know how else to explain this!"
"What do you mean, 'the other you'?" Gabrielle reached out and took Callisto's hand in hers. "It's ok. We're listening." She shot another look at her friend. "Aren't we, Xena?"
"In my world," Callisto looked hard at the warrior. "you...the other you...are a powerful and extremely bloodthirsty warlord. Entire cities have been decimated by your army. You are called The Soulless One...The Destroyer of Nations. The amazons no longer exist." She heard Gabrielle's horrified gasp, but continued on. "The centaurs are all but extinct. Your goal was to conquer our world...and you succeeded."
Xena was intrigued by the story, but still did not believe. "How do you fit into all this?"
"When you destroyed Cirra and murdered my family, I vowed to make you suffer."
"Now that's the Callisto I know and hate." Xena's eyebrows rose in challenge.
Callisto ignored the warrior and concentrated her gaze on Gabrielle. "For a year or two I followed you. I watched you...I watched your army and studied your every move. I planned your death...I fantasized about it every day. All I could focus on was your death...and your suffering."
"And...?" The warrior questioned.
Callisto shrugged her shoulders. "And one day I realized that I wasn't the only one you had destroyed. There were others out there...hundreds and thousands of them. " She went on to describe, in detail, the depravity that Xena and her army visited on the people of her world.
"And...?" Xena asked through clenched teeth.
"And I realized that of all those thousands of people, not a single one had what it took to lead, to organize, or to fight. I decided that I did. And Gods how they needed that. They needed someone to give direction and focus to the anger they felt over being relegated to something less than human. I was that person!" Callisto hung her head in shame. "And now I've failed."
Gabrielle leaned forward and gently squeezed the woman's hands as she gave a distressed look toward the warrior. "How? How have you failed, Callisto?"
The look on Xena's face was a mixture of horror and disbelief. She desperately wanted to believe that Callisto was lying. She couldn't bear to face the fact that in another time and another place, she could have become the malevolent person that was described. She knew that she had done some horrible things in her past, but this...this was beyond imagining.
I failed by trusting too much. I was betrayed by someone close to me. I don't know who, but..." She cut the thought short. "It doesn't matter now. What does matter is that she's here and she plans on taking this world apart as well."
Xena absorbed all that Callisto had said and simply found it too impossible to believe. She told a very convincing story, and the look on Gabrielle's face confirmed that. She was certain that this was yet another way for Callisto to torment her by somehow using the bard's misplaced compassion against her. She shook her head, stood, and began to pace the camp. "Let's just say that you're telling the truth. What do you expect us to do about it?"
"I'm not sure yet, but give me a minute and I'll think of something." Callisto replied with a grim look.
"Yeah, I'm sure you'll think of something. You always do. Murder. Torture. That kind of thing."
Now it was Callisto's turn for confusion. "What do you mean murder and torture?" As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she realized that Xena was speaking of her world's Callisto. She needed to ask, but she dreaded the answer. She took a deep breath and posed the question again. "What do you mean...murder and torture?"
Xena replied with more than a hint of sarcasm. "Ok. In case you've forgotten, murder is killing someone in cold blood. And torture is causing someone an unimaginable amount of pain before you murder them!" Xena was staring cold, hard daggers at the blond woman seated by the fire.
Gabrielle stood and placed a soothing hand on the warrior's arm. "Xena. She's not our Callisto, can't you see that? She's not our Callisto any more than you're her Xena."
"Gabrielle, I can't believe you're falling for that drivel!" The warrior angrily shrugged off the hand on her arm. "It's ludicrous! It's insane!" She stomped to her pack to retrieve two more leather ties. She had every intention of tying Callisto up again, and leaving her that way until they got to Amphipolis.
"Xena, wait!" Gabrielle ran after the warrior. "Why don't you believe her? Why is it so hard to imagine? The Gods have played worse tricks than this, and you know it!"
Xena whirled around and looked hard at her friend. "In case you hadn't noticed, this is Callisto we're talking about here. You know...the Callisto who nearly killed me...the Callisto who did kill Perdicas...that Callisto!"
Gabrielle's eyes filled with hurt. "I know better than you do who killed Perdicas. If you don't want to believe her, that's your business. But I do. And I'm going to find a way to help her, even if you don't." With that, she spun on her heel and stalked away from the frustrated warrior. "And I'm not going to let you tie her up again!"
Xena was immediately sorry she launched into the tirade. She knew more than anyone what Gabrielle had suffered at the hands of Callisto. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, wishing she could take back the hurtful words. She turned to watch as the bard flopped down beside the slim, blonde woman.
Gabrielle kept her gaze down and began to trace lines in the dirt. "Do...I... exist in your world?"
Callisto wasn't certain how to answer that question. She recognized Gabrielle the moment she saw her, but couldn't bring herself to admit it to the girl. She decided to be truthful without telling the whole truth. She reached out and cupped the bard's cheek with her hand. "No, little bard. You don't exist in my world."
Gabrielle wanted to ask the obvious questions, but was interrupted by a raspy voice. "Well, well, well...if it ain't the Warrior Princess." Her eyes widened and she looked up to see a tall, heavyset man standing on the edge of the camp. He was wearing well-used armor over filthy black leathers. He had long greasy hair, which sprouted from underneath a battered helmet. The only thing that looked well cared for was the broadsword he held in one hand. "She said I might find you here, and she was right!"
Gabrielle leaped to her feet, staff at the ready, joining Callisto who had already assumed a defensive stance. The bard glanced at the warrior, who was holding her sword with practiced ease.
"So fat boy, you found me. Now what are you gonna do about it?" Xena's eyebrows rose in a challenge.
The pungent fighter smiled and called out over his shoulder. "Hey! Xena Warrior Princess wants to know what we're gonna do!" He laughed as at least fourteen more men filtered into the camp behind their leader. They began to circle around the three women, who moved to the center and stood facing outward.
"Hey!" Callisto jabbed her elbow into Xena's ribs. "It would be helpful if I had some kind of weapon, don't you think?!"
"I don't think so." Xena snarled her reply.
"Xena. I think we could use the help." Gabrielle interjected.
"I said no!" Xena hissed.
The large, filthy man who appeared to be the "leader" of the group of brigands spoke. "Hey boys! We got us a little cat fight goin' on!" He laughed and the rest of his men joined in, jostling each other and eyeing the women with undisguised lust.
"Enjoy your laugh while you can, fat boy." Xena spoke with an icy voice. "It'll be your last." With that, she launched herself into the air with a somersault and landed behind three of the men. Her back was to them, but before they had a chance to react, she swung around and with a powerful stroke relieved them of their heads.
"I hate it when she does that!" Gabrielle grumbled under her breath. "She knows how much I hate the 'heads in the campfire' thing!" The second she finished the sentence, two men rushed toward her and the unarmed Callisto.
"Stay behind me!" She shouted at the woman as she swung her staff and took the feet out from under one of the men. She swung the staff in an arc and caught the second man in the side of the head. He went down hard as the first man scrambled to his feet. She jabbed the staff forward and caught the man full in the chest. As he began to fall forward, she came up with a quick uppercut to the chin. He dropped like a stone and didn't move.
She turned to check Xena and found that the warrior was fighting off seven men including their lumbering spokesman. That left three more for her to deal with. She spun around and saw that the three in question were slowly advancing on her, laughing.
"Hey girl! Why dontcha just drop the stick and save yerself the trouble!"
"Yeah! Be nice to us and we jus' might be nice to you!" With that, all three of the men roared and elbowed each other.
Gabrielle smiled sweetly and replied. "Thanks, but I'd rather throw myself off the nearest cliff." The bard bent her knees and readied herself as the men came lumbering toward her. "Where in Tartarus is Callisto?" She thought as she swung her staff around her head, trying to keep the men at bay.
As soon as the fighting began, Callisto decided she had no intention of standing there while the other two women got to have all the fun. She saw Xena neatly take the heads off the first three men. "Hey! Three swords in the dirt and no one to use them. Hmmm...I guess I'll just have to fix that!" She ran toward the corpses as she saw the bard take out two of the men with her staff. "Not bad for a bard." She reached out, grabbed one of the swords and cut the hamstrings of one of the men surrounding the warrior. He fell, screaming and clutching at his legs. She took a quick moment to assess the situation and decided that Gabrielle needed her help more than Xena did. The Warrior Princess, as a matter of fact, looked as though she was thoroughly enjoying herself. Callisto looked toward the bard and saw three ugly, unkempt men running toward her with their swords drawn. "Oops...gotta go!" With that, she ran to Gabrielle.
"Hey! I thought you might need some help!" Callisto grinned at the staff-whirling bard. "By the way, remind me not to get you ticked off."
Gabrielle shot a grateful look at the smiling, blonde woman and jabbed her staff into the groin of one of the men. As he fell, she brought the staff across the back of his head with a satisfying thud. Of the two men remaining, one turned toward Callisto and the other toward the bard.
As Xena fought, she kept a watchful eye on Gabrielle, ready to protect the bard if necessary. She smiled to herself as she saw her friend take down two of the thugs. "Looks like all that sparring practice is paying off." She was surrounded by seven of the men, but really wasn't worried. She knew she could take them all with relative ease. She was more worried about Callisto and how she might use this situation to her advantage
Out of the corner of her eye the warrior saw the slim, blonde woman pick up a sword from one of the dead men. "Oh this is great! Just great!" But no one could have been more surprised than Xena when Callisto ran by and sliced the legs of one of the men she was fighting. "She probably did that just to mess with my head!" It was nice, however, to have one less creep to deal with. She noted that the blonde woman paused for a moment before heading off in the bard's direction. Xena clenched her teeth as she realized that Gabrielle might very well be in serious danger...not from the thugs, but from Callisto. She reached for her chakram and flung it directly at the leader of the dwindling group of men. He dropped to the ground, unconscious, as the weapon ricocheted off his helm. The chakram flew from one man to the other, bouncing off their heads on its way to the next victim. Within seconds, the weapon was back in Xena's hands and she turned to look for the bard.
Callisto smiled at the man standing in front of her and wiggled her eyebrows up and down. "Hey big guy. Wanna piece of me?" She twirled her sword in an intricate dance that mesmerized her assailant. "Come and geeeet it!" With that, she thrust forward and sunk the cold steel into his belly. His eyes widened in shock as blood gushed from his mouth. He crumpled to the ground and she shook her head in disgust at how easily he died.
"Hey!" She kicked the dead man. "You could have at least put up some kind of fight!"
Gabrielle realized her mistake as soon as she made it. As she stepped back to deflect a blow directed at her head, her heel landed on a rock, which threw her off balance. As she fell to one knee, the sword hit the staff and skittered down and to the left. The cold steel sliced into her side and she gasped at the pain. The man smiled and raised his sword.
"Say goodbye, little girl!" He snarled as he swung the weapon toward Gabrielle's unprotected neck.
"Goodbye, little girl!" Callisto quipped as she parried the man's sword, driving it away from the bard and into the dirt. At exactly the same moment, a chakram planted itself in the man's back with a thud.
Xena's eyes widened in horror as she saw the sword cut into the bard's flesh. She saw the man raise his sword for the killing blow and threw her chakram with all her might. The second her weapon buried itself in the man's back, she saw Callisto deflect the blow that was aimed for Gabrielle's neck. She sighed in relief, but fear clutched at her heart to see blood flowing freely from the bard's side. She crossed the space between them in record time, hoping that the wound wasn't serious.
"Gabrielle!" Xena kneeled next to the bard, who had her arm pressed against her side. 'Let me see." She gently pulled her friend's arm away from the wound and clenched her teeth at the sight. Although the gash wasn't long, it was deep. She could see the white of exposed bone through the torn flesh and blood. It looked as though the ribs were intact, which was good, but the bard was losing too much blood.
She turned to Callisto, but found that the woman was already rifling through the packs for clean cloths and herbs. The warrior pressed her hand to Gabrielle's side, ignoring the gasp of pain, which wrenched from her friend's lips. It devestated her to see the bard in such pain, but she needed to push the feelings of helplessness and anger down in order to do what needed to be done. She gathered the nearly unconscious woman in her arms and gently lay her down.
"Oh Xena...I'm so sorry." Gabrielle whispered. She raised a shaky hand and touched the warrior's cheek.
Xena tenderly brushed the hair out of her friends eyes and smiled warmly at her beloved friend. "Shhh...it's ok, Gabrielle. Don't say anything...just rest." The warrior increased the pressure on the bard's wound and grit her teeth. "Gabrielle. You're seriously injured. I'm going to have to stop the bleeding and the only way I can do it is to press as hard has I can. I know it hurts and it's only going to get worse before it gets better. I'll have to clean the wound and then sew it up. I'll try to be as gentle as I can..." Xena pressed one hand against the jagged tear in Gabrielle's side and the other gently caressed her face. Her gut wrenched at the site of the bard, with her face so white from pain. She railed at herself for not being there. "You brought her here, damn it! You should have left her in that Gods be damned village where she came from! You caused this! I should have been faster...I should have been watching more closely... You'll never learn, will you? You won't learn until she's dead!
Even through the blinding pain, Gabrielle could see her friend blaming herself for what happened. "...not...your...fault...Xena..." She reached out and took the warrior's hand in her own. "Please don't...blame..." The bard's eyes closed as she gave herself up to unconsciousness.
A handful of rags were thrust into the warrior's face. "You bellowed?" Callisto asked, voice dripping with sarcasm and although her voice didn't indicate it, her face betrayed her deep concern for the bard. She dropped to her knees and began to prepare an herb paste from what she was able to find in the packs.
Xena snarled at the slim, blonde woman and grabbed the rags, which she placed on the bard's injured side. "Please, sweet Aphrodite. Please don't let her die. Oh Gods, this is just like Thessaly. I can't do this again. Oh please, please, please...Gods, I need her, I can't live without her. " Xena began to slowly rock back and forth as she repeated the litany to herself. It was only minutes, but it seemed like hours before she was able to staunch the flow of blood. When she gently lifted the last of the rags from the wound, she found that Callisto had already prepared the needle, catgut, and herbal paste.
"Watch her." Xena crossed the camp and grabbed a wineskin from one of the packs. She returned to pour the cleansing liquid into the wound. The warrior's eyes misted as she heard her friend gasp in pain. Burgundy fluid ran through the gaping tear and into the earth, mixing with the bard's coagulating blood. She swallowed hard and blinked away the tears, which threatened to spill down her cheeks. She raised her chin at Callisto, indicating that she wanted the items that had been prepared. The warrior didn't speak, but her eyes showed the gratitude that she couldn't express.
"Come on, little bard. Don't give up. Can't you see that Xena would be lost without you?" Callisto smiled at the unconscious woman as she gently brushed the damp strawberry blonde hair from the too-pale forehead. "I, and my world, would be lost without you too. I don't know how or why, but you're the key to stopping all of this. I know you can make it, gentle bard. We need you." She watched in silence, as Xena cleaned and sewed the wound. She was impressed at the skill the warrior showed while caring for the bard. With her own healing abilities, and Xena's, Callisto had no doubt that the Gabrielle would survive. She offered up a silent prayer of thanks to the Gods of this world.
CONTINUED IN PART FIVE
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