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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.
Father of Mine
Anticlea sighed, leaning against a tree.Where was Delne?He had promised to meet her in front of the village, before the sunset. The sun was just beginning to end its course across the sky. He had better show soon,she thought.I may as well head back if he doesn't.
A hand touched her shoulder. Surprised, she took her sword and turned around.
"Anticlea..relax. It's only me.." Delne's hand clasped over hers on the sword's hilt. "Awfully jumpy tonight, aren't you?"
She shrugged. "I get that way when I'm called out for strange reasons..What's so important that couldn't wait till morning?"
He smiled. "I think I've found your definitive piece, Anti..." He smiled at her. "You ready?"
"I guess so..What first?"
"Follow me." He grabbed her hand, taking her behind some buildings. He pointed across the walkway through the alley. "See that place over there?"
She nodded."That's it? Looks easy."
He glanced at her, smirking. "Yeah, right. You haven't seen inside.."
She looked at him. "Bad?"
She groaned, taking the black cloaks from her pack and handing one to Delne.
* * *
Delne lead the way across the square to the temple. Anticlea smiled as his golden blonde hair tousled as he checked about for people, then waved her on. She pulled her cloak closed over her green vest, going into the temple. Delne followed her in, flipping her hood over her black hair as he pulled his own hood over his blonde hair. They continued in, going to the main walkway of the temple. A guard glared at them as they went by, giving Anticlea a chill. She reached out for Delne's arm, but quickly pulled it back. Two guards walked by, one going between Anticlea and Delne. He stared down at her, growling something about the monks and annoyance. Anticlea swallowed, following Delne down a corridor beside a small statue of Hephestos.
"Anti..!", Delne hissed, tugging on her sleeve. He jerked his head to the right, indicating a chamber ahead. "In there.' Anticlea started towards it, but Delne threw his hand in front of her, shaking his head. 'Not yet." he pointed ahead with a quick jab of his hand. "Tour..we'll take it." He turned his head a bit so Anticlea could see him smirk.
Anticlea smiled back. This plan actually seemed less dangerous than Delne's last plans. Maybe this time they could make it away without any wounds.
Delne's elbow in her side jolted Anticlea out of her thoughts. "Here comes the tour. C'mon, let's blend into them." He ran to the back of the crowd pouring into the room, followed by Anticlea.
The monk at the head of the crowd stopped,raising his hand. "We are about to enter the Hall of Hephestos, with the beautiful creations he made for the other occupants of Mount Olympus. Be forewarned.. our security is great and leery. Refrain from touching." he entered the next room.
Anticlea glanced at Delne, who shrugged and continued smiling. She smiled weakly. She wasn't too sure about this anymore. She looked down in front of her. A little girl smiled back up, her eyes shining. "I'm gonna see the sword Hephestos made for Zeus!",She giggled,then followed her mother.
Anticlea cringed- that was what Delne had come to steal. She wanted to leave. Delne glanced at her, making her even more uncomfortable. She felt like he knew what she was thinking. She tried to push the thought from her mind. She had been a thief for fourteen years and never had doubts before. Why should a little girl change her mind now?
Delne signaled for Anticlea to be ready. She nodded, glancing about the room. There were many gold and bronze statues of Hephestos and some of the other gods and goddesses scattered throughout it. She focused on the sword. it was impressive; a golden hilt with many jewels covering it, a blade of silver with small jewels down the middle and a dark red ruby on the very top of the hilt. No wonder it was made for Zeus, she thought. It's beautiful.
Delne coughed; Anticlea's final warning to be ready. She scraped her foot across the floor, making a squeak as her return signal that she was. Delne glanced around, then tripped backwards over a rug, colliding with a torch stand. It fell to the floor, clanking loudly. The guards and monks ran to it, trying to find what the commotion was. Anticlea ran for the sword, pulling it from its stand and putting another in its place. She quickly slipped the sword into her belt, flinging her cloak shut. The guards pulled Delne from the floor, yelling at him while the monks praised the gods for nothing being broken. Delne bowed, asking for their forgiveness and trying to explain. "Forgive me, Monks of Hephestos! I am but a clumsy fool! Forgive me for disturbing your great temple!"
Anticlea came to him, pulling him from the guards. "Oh, you fool, Kenocus! You always have been so clumsy! Come along, you've upset Hephestos enough!" She pulled him back out of the room, bowing to the monks.
"Wait a minute..", A monk started."That was a female voice! There are no female monks!! FOLLOW THEM!!"
Anticlea and Delne ran from the temple, back to the woods. Panting, Delne leaned against a tree. "Well, let's see it..", he wheezed. Anticlea pulled the sword from her belt. Delne grinned between wheezes. "Great. Just...beautiful. WE DID IT ANTI, WE DID IT!", He laughed.
Anticlea smiled. "Yeah..We did it..", She said, but still felt horrible. Something wasn't right..
* * *
The warrior glanced over her shoulder at the girl walking beside her. "How're you doing, Gabrielle?"
Gabrielle smiled. "Fine, Xena.. How much longer till we get to Milos?"
"Not long, Gabrielle..Not long. Maybe another hour.. You're sure you don't want to ride up here on Argo with me?"
"I'm sure. I still think that horse doesn't like me.."
Argo snorted, tossing her head. Gabrielle laughed. "See what I mean?"
Xena smiled,then quickly raised a hand. "You hear that?"
"No..but I bet you hear something don't y-", Gabrielle started as Xena climbed off the horse.
She glanced at a bush beside the path, then jabbed a hand into it, pulling out a young boy. "I thought so..Who are you?"
The boy raised a shaking hand, which held a scroll."I-I'm Tierius' messenger..I'm supposed to find Xena..A-are you-?"
Xena frowned, putting him down. "Yes, I am..."She took the scroll."Now get outta here." She glanced back at Gabrielle, who was scowling. "Uh..Sorry." She looked quickly at the boy.
He nodded. "Tierius warned me you had a temper.."He scrambled off the path.
Gabrielle stifled a laugh. Xena frowned again as she opened the scroll. "Oh, No...."
"Tierius needs my help...He knows something's going to happen..."
Gabrielle leaned over her shoulder, looking at the letter. "Who's Tierius?"
"An old friend..he's an elder at the Thieves guild..We better stop there. It's not that far from Milos."
Gabrielle nodded, picking up her bag laying on the side of the path.
* * *
Anticlea twirled Hephestos' sword in her left hand, tossing it up, then catching it in her right by the blade.She pointed the hilt at the man in front of her. "The sword of Hephestos..There. Have I proven myself now, Tierius?"
Tierius took the sword, looking it over, then smiled. "You have been with the Thieves' Guild for fourteen years, Anticlea.. Less time than most here. But yet you have accomplished more than anyone else, this being your finest yet. Thus, as head of the Thieves Guild Elders, I decree we elect you new ruler of the Thieves Guild. Elders in favor?" Norbus stood. "I, Norbus, agree. Dranicus?"
Dranicus nodded, standing."I, Dranicus, agree. Trillus?" He glanced at the Elder beside him."TRILLUS!!"
Trillus glared at him. "She is not worthy. Trises is," He muttered, folding his arms.
Tierius shook his head. "Your nephew did not prove himself as well as Anticlea." He turned to her. "By the consent of three of the four Elders, you are ruler of this Guild." He took a staff from a case behind his chair, handing it to her."For you, great Anticlea."
She took it, blushing and glancing back at Delne in the doorway. He grinned.
Tierius tuned back to the other Elders. "Do you all give consent to her rule...Norbius?"
"Aye." He smiled at Anticlea.
Trillus looked at Tierius, then stood up, slamming his chair backwards.he stormed out of the hall, shoving Delne out of the doorway. Delne looked at him, surprised, the glanced at Anticlea. Tierius shook his head. "He's very temperamental.." He shrugged. "We've been considering unseating him. This action has given us our final decision.. he's out tomorrow."
Anticlea started thinking, glancing at Delne. "Trises.. I thought he tried to steal Autolycus' belt for a proving item.. Wasn't that better than mine?"
Delne laughed."CLAIMED to, Anti..claimed to. No one's good enough to steal from the King of Thieves."
Tierius looked uncomfortable, starting to get anxious. Anticlea glanced at him. "What's wrong, Tierius?"
"I...Have something..else..to give you.." He went to a different room.
"Hear that, Delne? More stuff! I must be good!", She laughed.
"Don't push it, Anti.." Delne warned.
Tierius came back in, carrying a box. "I found this with you..When you were young, in the woods. I'm sure it has something to do with your real father..Who ever he may be..." He glanced at her, opening the box.
Anticlea frowned. She knew Tierius was holding back emotions right now- he hated speaking of Anticlea's past. He had found her when she was a child,in the woods behind the town of Milos. He had felt sorry for her and took her back to the Guild with him; raising her as his own. She shook her head, clearing her thoughts and looking into the box. "Oh, Tierius..This is mine?!" She pulled the armbow from the box, staring at it. "How- Where did this come from?"
"I-I don't know..I found it with you.." Tierius looked at the window, then put a hand on Anticlea's shoulder. "I need to be going..but I hope you do well, Great Anticlea."
Anticlea smiled at him, then hugged him. "Oh, Tierius..You're the closest I have to a father..You don't have to be so formal with me!"
* * *
Trillus roared, throwing the table over. Trises glanced at him. "Uncle?" He picked the table back up. "Uncle, It's all right.."
Trillus turned, glaring at him. "ALL RIGHT?! Trises, YOU deserve that throne, not that-that sniveling CRETIN Anticlea!!" His lip curled. "That fool Tierius gave it to her...just because he FOUND her!" He slammed his fist against the table. "She's not even TRULY of the Guild!!"
"UNCLE!!!" Trises leaned across the table. "So Tierius and Anti are the only problems, yes?"
Trillus nodded, raising an eyebrow. "Your point, Nephew?"
Trises drew an X in the sand. "Well, you always told me that if I have a problem.." He scraped his foot across the X, erasing it. "ELIMINATE IT."
Trillus smiled. "You're a smart boy, Nephew."
"Of course I am." He took his vest from the wall, putting it on. "I'll go see the others tonight..I know some of them feel the same way about Anti as I do."
* * *
Delne sat down in front of Anticlea, shaking his head."I still don't believe it..My Anti. Ruler of the Thieves Guild.."
Anticlea smiled, reaching into her pack. "I know, Delne..it's such a big change..from that little hut we shared outside of Tierius'.... To this...The Ruler's Hall...." She pulled a wrapped-up cloth out of her pack, handing it to him. "Could you..put that somewhere?"
He frowned, shaking his head as he opened it, pulling the necklace inside; silver, with small jewels lining the sides to the middle, where a large green jewel rested. "Anticlea..Why won't you wear this..? I mean, now, when you're the ruler..."
She glared at him."DELNE..! You KNOW I don't want to see that thing..Put it away!!"
He grinned, sliding it back into the cloth.He knew. He knew that it reminded her of the past she lost, and
how she wished to know who she was. Tierius said it was also another link to her past.. to her real father. Delne always told her she probably was a princess, of some far land, and was heir to a fantastic fortune.. yet she thought she would be the embarrassment of her family, being the thief she had become. I'm just glad she's here, he thought.I love her no matter who she is...
"Delne? Del-ne.." Anticlea smiled at him. "I didn't mean to upset you..I just didn't want to see that silly thing."
He grinned again. "You're the greatest thing to happen here, Anti..You've changed so much..and probably more now.."
She paused. 'Delne..Are you...um, Do you...trust me? I mean.... Would you ever..lie..about something..?"
"Oh, Anti..Anticlea.." He stood up, walking to her. "Anticlea, I mean everything I say to you.. I'd never let anything hurt you.. That's why I helped you with this..It's something you wanted." He touched her hand. 'And it's the best I can do at trying to find your father."
"Delne.."She stood up, hugging him. 'Thank you..I'm sorry I doubted you.. I just.."
"Shh. I understand." He hugged her back.
"Ahem." A guard stood in the doorway.
"OH!" Anticlea turned to him, straightening her vest and shirt."Yes, Morsis?"
"Your first message, Great Anticlea." He held out a small scroll.
"Thank you, Morsis." She opened it. "Oh.." She smiled. "It's from Tierius. He says we'll be having company soon.. An old friend of his, a warrior. He thinks we should keep an eye out for h-" She looked at it again, raising an eyebrow. "HER?! Huh..Well, then, let's get ready for her!"
"Maybe you should put on a different vest, Anti.. That's kinda dingy from this morning. I'll go get you one." Delne took off out the door.
Morsis glanced after him, then looked back at Anticlea. She glanced at him, setting the scroll down. 'Something wrong, Morsis?"
He nodded. "Trises isn't happy..."
"Tierius gave the passing. It was his choice. Trises didn't make the decision's cut..I can't do anything about that." She turned back to the table.
"I CAN." Morsis took his sword from its scabbard. "You're not supposed to be here.He is..and I'm going to fix that NOW!" He lunged at Anticlea.
Anticlea dove to the side, avoiding the blade, then jumping back up and taking her own sword out. "Morsis! What are you doing?!"
"Getting rid of YOU!" He swung at her, knocking her sword away. "Trises wants you gone...and will give high rankings to whoever does it! I can't resist an offer like that!" He shoved her to the floor.
She reached to the table, trying to find the armbow she had left on it. She looked at Morsis. "You BELIEVE him?! Think about it, Morsis! If he's offering THAT to get rid of me, do you think he won't do the same to you?!"
"Shut up." Morsis glared at her, his sword above his head. "You'd say anything to get out of this." He swung down-
-And had no sword.
"HUH?!" Morsis stared at his empty hands. "Where- Where did it go?!"
"Right here, Cousin!" The flat edge of Morsis' blade slammed against its owner's head, knocking him out. Delne stood behind him, dropping the sword beside Morsis' arm. "Don't tell my Anti to shut up."
"Delne!"Anticlea scrambled to her feet. "Trises-"
"I know..I heard.." He looked at the floor. 'He offered..to me..too.."
She backed up. "Wha--What did you.."
"No, NO, I didn't accept.. I couldn't. You know that." He glanced at the door. "But what do we do about those who did? They're going to do anything to get in here."
"I don't know." She shivered. "Delne..Would you stay with me tonight? I- I don't think I-"
"Of course, Great Anticlea." He bowed down, the glanced up and smiled. "I won't let anyone near you. I swear."
She smiled weakly. "Thanks, Delne."
* * *
Xena jumped off of Argo, going to the gate of the fort. The guard glanced at her. "No entry. Leave."
"I'm here to see Tierius." She crossed her arms, looking at him.
The guard glared at her, then turned away. Xena glanced back at Gabrielle,frowning. Gabrielle shook her head, sighing and turning away.
'I don't think you heard me right, boy." Xena grabbed him by the vest, lifting him up. "I'm here to see Tierius."
The guard gasped, nodding."Open the gate!! Open the gate!", he coughed to the guard inside.
The gate opened slowly. Xena smiled, dropping him. "Thanks." She walked inside.
Gabrielle followed her, stopping a moment before the guard on the ground. 'Sorry.." She ran after Xena. "You promised you wouldn't do that anymore!"
"Oops. Well, it got us in, didn't it?" Xena glanced around. "Now where's Tierius.." She paused, hearing the sound of a sword being drawn. "Gabrielle, move," She muttered, taking her chakram from her side.
"What's the matter, Xe-", Gabrielle started.
"-MOVE!" Xena pulled her away from a swinging blade, then flung her chakram at the hand holding the sword.
The owner of the hand yelped, dropping the sword. Xena grabbed her chakram from the air as it circled back to her, then glared at the man. "Who are you."
"Why should I tell you?", He sneered, clutching his hand.
"I only nicked your hand.. I can cut the whole thing OFF." She held the chakram ready to throw again.
"NO! M- My name's Banises!! I-I thought you were after Trises!"
She put the chakram back to its spot. "Who's Trises?"
"Uh-he's uh- ..." Banises glanced over his shoulder, then back to Xena. "He's..Trillus' nephew." He smiled weakly, then ran quickly the other way.
"Aren't you going to stop him?" Gabrielle looked after him.
"Why? He's just a drunk fool!" Xena spotted a tavern. "C'mon, let's go get some information..and food."
"At least it'll be better than you're cooking." Gabrielle grinned.
Xena glared at her, then smiled. "Oh, be quiet."
* * *
Anticlea woke up, her head resting on Delne's chest. She rubbed his shoulder, waking him. He moaned, stretched his back, then glanced at her." How do you feel this morning, Anti?"
She sighed. "Better than last night, I suppose.. Thanks for staying..That helped." She played with the edge of her nightshirt.
"No problem.. I was surprised we actually slept.. I thought Trises' men would've tried something."
"That is strange, isn't it..." She looked at him. "With the reward he offered, you'd have thought-" She sat up, her eyes widened. "TIERIUS!" She jumped from the bed, running to the door.
"Anticlea, what-" Delne realized what was wrong, running after her to the door of the Hall. "You don't think they-"
"TIERIUS!" She ran to his hut, flinging the door open.
Tierius lay in his bed, rolling over as Anticlea rushed to his room. "What is it, Anticlea? You're loud enough to wake one in the Illisan Fields!"
"Oh, Tierius.." She sat beside his bed, resting her head on the bed beside him. "I-I thought-"
"You thought I had been here already?", A voice said from the door.
Anticlea jumped up, drawing her sword. "Trises!"
"I figured you'd come running here.. So I waited until you did to do it." He drew his sword. "Out of my way, girl." He shoved her aside, knocking her down." Now, this should be a deed worthy enough,eh, old man?" He lifted his sword.
"NO!" Anticlea jumped up, swinging the base of her palm to the back of his neck.
Trises dropped the sword to the floor, falling forward. He weakly lifted himself, glaring at her. "Brave move, girl. I'm not done yet..", He coughed.
"Me either."She dropped her heel into his back, shoving him down. He fell to the floor with a grunt. She picked up her sword, then looked at Tierius. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, Anticlea. That was brave... I've never seen you like that.." He looked at her, smiling.
"I showed him not to make me mad. You always knew I had a temper. I'm not afraid to show it. "She twirled her sword.
Tierius looked at Trises. "What was he doing..?"
"He was going to kill you, Tierius.." She sighed. "I thought we were friends.. but he crossed me. No one ever crosses me." She rubbed the blade of her sword.
A piercing warcry came from the door, then a knee in Anticlea's back. She fell forward, dropping her sword. She rolled over, clutching her back. A warrior stood over her; a woman. Her sword was out and pointed at Anticlea's throat. She glared down at her with narrowed eyes. "I don't know what you did to that boy, but I won't let you do it to Tierius."
"What are you-" Anticlea started, cut off by the sword being pushed closer. She swallowed, glancing at Tierius.
"Xena! Don't! That's my child, Anticlea! The new Ruler of the Thieves Guild!", Tierius shouted, grabbing Anticlea's shoulder and pulling her closer.
"Y-Your child?!" Xena put her sword down to her side. "What..."
"I found her..Raised her. Fourteen years ago." He helped Anticlea to her feet.
"But..The boy- I heard her say he crossed her-", Xena started, pointing at Trises.
"He did. He tried to kill Tierius." Anticlea glared at Trises, who began to stir. She grabbed her dagger, but Xena stopped her, shaking her head.
Trises scrambled to his feet, looking at the three others. He took his sword from the floor, considering whether to fight or run. Xena took her chakram, smiling at him and raising an eyebrow. His eyes widened, then he ran out the door. "Good choice," Xena said, putting the chakram away. She turned to Anticlea. "I'm sorry about that attack. I thought-"
Anticlea raised a hand, shaking her head. "I understand. I would've done the same thing if I saw you in here with a sword near Tierius."
Another girl ran into the hut, glancing at the three. "Did.. I miss something?"
Xena smiled. "Don't ask, Gabrielle." She turned to Tierius." This is my friend Gabrielle, Tierius.."She glanced at Anticlea. " And Gabrielle, this is Anticlea." She paused, thinking. "Anticlea..?" She looked at Gabrielle. "Why does that sound familiar..?"
Gabrielle gave her a strange look. "First I've heard it.."
Xena shook her head. "I could've sworn I've heard it somewhere else before.."
Anticlea shrugged. "I've never met you before.. Maybe you heard of one of my great deeds." She grinned at Tierius.
He laughed. "Don't get conceited, Anti." He stood up. "That's what happened to the last ruler. Speaking of ruling, shouldn't you return to your Hall, Anticlea?"
"I guess.I-" Her eyes widened. "I left Delne alone in there! Trises' men are still thinking I'm there! They're- Oh, NO!" She ran to the Hall, followed by Xena and Gabrielle.
Anticlea flung the doors open. "Delne? DELNE! Where are you?!" She ran through the Hall to the Throne room.
Delne jumped quickly out of the chair, grinning. "I was- Uh- HI, Anti.."
"Oh, Delne." She threw her arms around his neck, hugging him. "I thought they came back.."
"They?", Xena asked from the doorway.
"Go change, Anti. I'll explain." Delne walked over to Xena as Anticlea went to her room. "My name is Delne. I'm Anticlea's...uh, Advisor." Xena raised an eyebrow. Delne sighed. "Ok..I'm also her love..So? Anyway, 'They' are Trises and his men. they want to rule..and they figure they can get it by killing Anti and Tierius."
"So THAT'S what was going on back there..," Gabrielle muttered.
Anticlea came back out, now dressed in a green vest covering a purple laced up sleeveless shirt, the edges resting on her red leather pants, whose sides laced up to her hips. She carried a box in her hands, glancing at Delne. "Yeah.. We had a little run in with one of Trises' men last night." She shook her head. "I still can't believe Morsis would do that.." She cleared her throat, opening the box. "It might be helpful if I wore this, don't you think, Delne?". She asked, taking an armbow from the box.
Xena's eyes brightened, then she glanced at Gabrielle. Gabrielle shrugged, mouthing I still don't know. Xena rubbed her head, thinking."This is gonna bug me..," She muttered. "I know that name form somewhere..and that armbow looks really familiar.."
* * *
Trises paced the floor, glaring at the other three boys in the room. "Where were you when Anticlea attacked me?! Or when that woman came in?!," He shrieked, slapping one in the back of the head.
He winced, rubbing his head. "Sorry Trises... We were out gathering others who-"
Trises groaned. "You idiot! I've convinced almost everyone in this compound to go against Anti! Very few people here still follow her rule!" He slammed his fists to the table. "That's why I should rule! No one wants her!" He sat down, leaning his chair back. "Tomorrow..We give the people what they want." he pressed his fingers together. "We get rid of Anti and I take over."
Trillus came from the other room. "I knew your greed would take over soon, Nephew."
Trises glanced at him. "Oh, no, Uncle.. I'm doing this for the PEOPLE.," He smiled.
Trillus looked down at him. "Right. Just don't forget your uncle when you get that power for the people."
One of the other boys stood up. "Uh, Trises...What about the warrior?"
Trises waved a hand. "Warrior? THAT woman?! HA! Please!"
"But I've heard about her!" Another boy stood. "Xena's fast!"
Trillus looked surprised."Xena?! Did you say Xena?!" He glanced back to Trises. "Tierius is good friends with Xena. Be careful, Nephew."
"I hear she's also friends with Autolycus..," The boy who stood last said.
Trises laughed. "Autolucus?! Please, I almost stole his prized belt! He's a soft fool anymore! He even helped save someone's life instead of getting a steal! What kind of thief is that, let alone KING of them?! Once I take over, I'll cut all ties with him!"
The boys cheered, lifting their swords. Trillus smiled.
* * *
Xena suddenly looked towards the door. "Someone's coming."
Anticlea stood up, going towards it. Delne threw himself in front of her, rushing to the door. "NO! We don't know who that is! You know how easy it would be for them if you just threw open the door for them?!"
Anticlea stared at him, wide-eyed. "I-Uh.."
"Anticlea? Xena?," Tierius called.
"Oh, Zeus. See, Delne?" Anticlea opened the door. "Sorry, Tierius."
Delne shook his head. "She doesn't get it.."
Gabrielle touched his shoulder. " You really care about her, don't you?"
He nodded. "More than anything."
Gabrielle smiled. "How long have you known her?"
"Oh, A long time. Almost fourteen years..ever since Tierius found her.. behind the village they were.. um..visiting." He glanced at Gabrielle. "She was in the woods, just wandering with a little leather bag." He shrugged. "The only thing Tierius ever told us was in it was her necklace.. and then the armbow yesterday."
"Necklace?," Gabrielle asked. 'Can I see? I love jewels.."
"Sure. She only wears it for special things. She says it makes her feel uncomfortable.. like her heart's missing something." He led her to a peg on the wall, where the bag hung. He reached in, pulling out the wrapped up cloth, then handed it to her.
Gabrielle opened it, then smiled. "It's pretty."
Xena glanced over at Delne and Gabrielle. "Excuse me, Tierius." She left Anticlea and Tierius, going over to Gabrielle and Delne. "What do you have there, Gab -" Xena paused, seeing the necklace. "Where did you find that?!," She asked quickly.
"It's Anti's..," Gabrielle said,starting to hand it back to Delne.
Xena grabbed it, Turning back towards Tierius. He paled, seeing her holding the necklace. She raised an eyebrow. "You know, don't you..You know where I've seen this.."
"Xena, please..Don't say it..," Tierius begged. "She's been fine not knowing.."
Anticlea's head jerked up, glancing at Tierius. "Not knowing?! HUH?!" She saw her necklace in Xena's hand. "Why is THAT out?!"
Xena nodded slowly. " I'm starting to remember where I've seen all these things.." She closed her eyes. "A dock.. The amazon village.. The funeral pyre..Valasca's hut.. The Ambrosia cave.."
Gabrielle looked at her, confused. "Xena, you weren't at all those places! That's when you were in Aut-" Gabrielle's eyes widened. "What does HE have to do with this?!"
Xena glanced at her. "His mind. I saw them in his mind.. When I shared his body." She turned back towards the throne. 'Anticlea, you're-"
Tierius and Anticlea were gone.
"Tierius?! Anticlea?!" Xena ran to the door. "Tierius, This isn't the time to be ashamed of lieing to her! Come back here! TIERIUS!" She glanced back at Gabrielle. "This is gonna be a problem.."
"Oh, No.." Gabrielle picked up her bag, following Xena.
Delne scrambled to his feet. "If Anti's in trouble, I'm coming too!"
* * *
Tierius sat panting on the log, glancing at Anticlea, who he held tightly by the wrist. She glared at him. "Why did we do that."
He dropped his head, sighing. "Anti..Oh, I can't let Xena tell you. It - " He groaned. "I had hoped you'd never find out.." He let her wrist go.
"What? Find out WHAT? Tierius!"
He looked at her."Xena knows who your father is. So do I... I-I've known."
She stared at him. "Y-you KNEW?! How long?!"
He rubbed his face. "Fourteen years."
She dropped to her knees. "Since you FOUND me?!" She glared at him. "What did you do, Steal me from him?!"
"NO! Nothing like that! Anticlea, I.. You were- Don't take it wrong- You were abandoned by him.. I know why he did, with the life he leads! Anticlea, It's better I raised you, truly! I-"
She looked up at him. "Who is he."
"Anticlea, really, I-" He reached for her hand.
She yanked it away. "WHO."
"Autolycus." Xena stood behind Anticlea.
Anticlea turned around. 'Autolyc-My father is the King of Thieves?!" She looked at Tierius. "You knew that for fourteen years?!"
He sighed, putting his face in his hands.
Xena knelt beside Anticlea. "Tierius raised you as his.. something Autolycus couldn't have done. Tierius' life was safer for you. Anyone against Autolycus could have used you..hurt you."
Anticlea shook her head. "I knew I was lost... but abandoned..Why did he just leave me? Did he hate me?" "oh, Anti, no.." Xena hugged her. "Anticlea, he loved you..That's why he did that. I know what it's like ..to give up a child you love just to save them. It's hard, it hurts.. Don't blame yourself.."
"Xena?" Gabrielle pushed aside a bush, looking at her.
Xena stood up, helping Anticlea up. "It's all right. She knows now."
Gabrielle glanced at Xena, mouthing Delne? Xena shook her head; It was best he didn't know.. at least not yet.
Delne ran towards Gabrielle, pointing behind him. "TROUBLE! LOTS OF IT!," he yelled.
Xena pulled out her sword as Anticlea put an arrow into her cross bow and Gabrielle helped Tierius hide behind some bushes. Delne ran to Anticlea's side, getting his sword ready and quickly shooting a smile at her. "Hi.." She shook her head, smiling back. Xena ran from the bushes to the open field. "Here they come! C'mon! It's easier to fight in the open!"
Anticlea glanced at Delne. "How many?"
Gabrielle looked at them. "Like ten or so?"
"Um.. not quite." He pointed the tip of his sword. "More like fifty.."A crowd ran from the village, swinging swords and staffs.
"Well, then, let's give them something for their trip out here." Tierius stood up, holding his cane in both hands, ready to strike.
"Hey! Are you gonna talk or fight?!," Xena yelled, slamming her fists into the foreheads of two men.
"Sorry!!," Anticlea yelled, hitting another thief in the stomach, then upside the head.
Delne swung the flat of his sword to the back of another's knees, then spun around and used the hilt of his sword to smack him in the forehead. "Anticlea! Behind you!"
Anticlea glanced over her shoulder, seeing a man charging forward with his sword down. She swung her foot back, slamming his stomach, making him hunch over. She flipped herself over his back, then kicked him, sending him head over heels towards Tierius. The man took a dagger from his belt, but dropped it as Tierius slammed him over the head with his cane.
Xena looked at the crowd still pouring from the village. "I thought you said they LIKED her, Delne!," She yelled, punching the man in front of her.
Delne shrugged, ducking the sword swung at him, then swiped the man off his feet.
"Gabrielle!,"Anticlea yelled, shooting an arrow at the man behind Gabrielle, striking him in the shoulder.
Gabrielle spun around, then quickly grabbed a staff from the hands of the unconscious thief beside her and smacked him in the chin. "Xena, this is too much!," She yelled, then stared at the staff in her hands. "I- I used violence..I-" The thief started to get up again, so she whacked down on his back with the staff.
Xena jumped up, double kicking the thief in front of her. "I know! I'm going to get Anti out of here! You get Delne and Tierius!"
Anticlea pulled her sword from her scabbard quickly, then blocked the sword that flew down at her. She struggled to push it away, then glanced over her shoulder. Another group of thieves ran into the bushes where Tierius was. "NO!" Anticlea shoved the man off her, then ran after the others.
Trises stood in front of her, a bloody sword in his hand. "I told you I'd do it."
Anticlea stared at him, then shrieked and swung her sword.
Trises laughed, stepping away from the sword. "That's right, Anti! Give me a good reason to do it to you, too!"
Xena reached into the bush, grabbing Anticlea by the back of the vest. 'Let me go! XENA LET GO!," Anticlea screamed.
'It's all right, Anti! Gabrielle will help him!" Xena wrapped her arm around Anticlea, running forward. "Hang onto me!"
"Huh? Xena-" She clung to Xena.
Xena let out her piercing warcry, then leaped up, doing a flip-jump for the wall of the compound. She landed atop it, letting go of Anticlea. "C'mon. We're getting you out of here."
"But Xena..Tierius- Delne- Gabrielle can't -,"She started.
"They'll be all right. I trust Gabrielle." Xena dropped down to the outside of the wall.
Anticlea lowered herself down, then sat on her heels and stared at the ground. Xena looked at her."Anticlea?" She paused, then bent to one knee. "Anticlea, what do you think you saw behind that bush?"
She looked up. "Trises..killed him..I-I saw the blood.."
Xena shook her head. "No, Anticlea.. Tierius is FINE. I saw him as we crossed the wall.."
Anticlea's eyes brightened. "Wh-What?! But I saw- He's really OK?!"
She nodded. "Just got grazed in the shoulder. Trises saw blood and figured he'd made full contact. But if there's one thing I know about Tierius.."
"...It's that I don't give up easily." Tierius staggered from around the corner, with Gabrielle and Delne helping him. He held his shoulder, wincing as he bent down to Anticlea. "I'm sorry I lied to you, Anti.. I just thought_"
"I understand, Tierius.."She hugged him. He fought back a gasp of pain, weezing in her ear. She pulled back, looking at him. He tried to smile, but grunted in pain. Anticlea glared at him. "You're lieing about being fine, aren't you.." She reached to his shoulder.
He pulled back. "NO, really, Anti, I'm -" He groaned, grabbing his arm. All right..Yes, I am.."
She turned to Xena. "We've got to get him help for that..I can't go anywhere until I know he's cared for.."
Xena pulled open the cut in his shirt, then frowned. "This is worse than I thought. I can't do much for it without the proper herbs and medicine. Where's the nearest village?"
"With an alchemist? Um.." Anticlea thought, then pointed. "I.. borrowed..some herbs from a village that way for Delne awhile ago. That man was nice.. I later felt bad about it and brought some dinars to his store that night." She glanced at Delne, whose face was red with surprise and anger. She shrugged. "Sorry..I-I just felt bad about stealing from that poor man!" She paused. "I've been doing that a lot lately..feeling sorry. I've never felt that way before.."
Xena glanced at her, then turned to Delne. "Do you know what village she's talking about?"
He nodded. "I've been there plenty of times.. Good finds there..and not many people watching you."
"I'll ignore that last part..I want you to take Tierius there; find that alchemist she was talking about. Can you do that?," Xena asked.
"I don't understand..What-," Delne started.
Xena grabbed his vest. "Can you do that."
"Oh, yeah, sure!," He said quickly, glancing at Tierius.
Xena let him go, then watched him take Tierius to the woods.
Tierius looked back to Anticlea, calling to her. "You be careful, Anti. Stay close to Xena and Gabrielle. I'll be fine with Delne."
Anticlea nodded, going to Xena. "Why did you just send Delne? I-"
"You're coming with me and Gabrielle." Xena went to a path, waiting for Gabrielle.
"You could have asked.,"Anticlea grumbled, following her.
'I think you'll understand once we get there." Xena whistled loudly, then glanced at Anticlea. "I want you to ..see something. Delne wouldn't understand..and Tierius would be upset by it. No, I only want you and Gabrielle to come see this." Argo came running through the woods, stopping beside Xena. She patted the horse's back. "Now, I just have to find him."
'Him?," Anticlea asked.
"You'll see." Xena climbed onto the horse. "C'mon, Gabrielle! Hurry up!"
"I'm coming, I'm coming.." Gabrielle rushed over, pulling her pack over her shoulder. "Just making sure I had everything."
Xena reached her hand down to Anticlea. "C'mon up."
Anticlea glanced at Gabrielle, who shook her head. "Argo and I ..don't do well together."
Anticlea reached up, climbing on behind Xena.
* * *
They continued on until Xena suddenly stopped the horse, jumping off and crouching behind a bush. She signaled Gabrielle and Anticlea to come over, then pointed to the path ahead. "Listen and watch...,"She whispered, taking her whip from her side and holding it.
Gabrielle glanced at the whip, then watched the path. An old woman dressed in many ragged skirts and cloaks ran down it, a handkerchief tied over her gray hair and a cloth over her face.
Xena narrowed her eyes. "Now how many old ladies do you know of that run that fast?," She muttered, unrolling her whip.
Gabrielle shrugged. "Actually, my grandmother ran pretty fa-"
Xena snapped her whip out, wrapping it about the woman's legs. Gabrielle jumped up from her crouch. "Xena! What're you-"
Xena yanked on the whip, tripping the woman, then ran out beside her. "Going kinda fast, weren't you, grandma?," She asked, leaning over her.
"Eh? What's that, Dear -,"The woman started. Xena rolled her eyes, grabbing hold of the scarf and the woman's hair, yanking it off. "-IEEE!," The woman shrieked.
"Oh, knock it off." Xena pulled the cloth from the face, revealing the black mustache and goatee underneath on the man. "Hello, Autolycus."
"OW! You know how much that HURTS!? I think you LIKE doing that!!," He complained, rubbing his head and standing up.
"Hm." She dropped the wig and scarf, looking at him. "Now where were you coming from?" His belt shined, its jewels reflecting the remaining sunlight. Xena noted it was different from his usual belt.
"Where I was coming from doesn't matter.. It's where I was going that mattered." He glanced at her. "Of course, I don't think I'll be getting there NOW, Thanks to you."
Xena smiled. "SO sorry, I don't think they'll miss you." She glanced at his waist. "Nice belt."
He gave her a strange look. "Uh..Thanks.."
She pointed to the green jewel in the middle. "Pretty stone, there.." She glanced up. "Anymore like that anywhere?"
"Only one-," He started, then choked. "I-I mean, this is the only one! It's one of a kind, that's why I have it! I-" He glared at her. 'Why did you ask that?!"
"Why did you answer like that?" She sat on a rock.
"You know something.. You're playing with me! I HATE THIS!" He flopped down on along. "What is it, Xena..Just tell me, would you?! I don't want to play games today.." He paused. "The jewel! What do you know about this?" He pointed to his belt.
"I know you're lieing about it being the only one.." She tugged on her boot, pulling out the twig that kept poking her.
"H-How do you know that?" He swallowed, looking at her.
"I met its owner." She took her dagger out, cleaning her nails. She glanced at him, then smiled. She was having fun.
"You-I- But-," He started, then laughed. "You're still playing! Funny, Xena!"
She glanced at the bush behind her, then stuck her hand in it. "Gabrielle.."
Gabrielle handed her the necklace, then put her hand to Anticlea's mouth as she started to protest. "Let Xena do this..," She murmured."You'll understand.."
Xena held out the necklace. "You still think I'm playing with you,Autolycus?"
Autolycus stared at it. "A-Ant-," He started, then reached for it. "Where'd you get that?!"
She pulled it away. "You know where I got it.. or did you forget where you put it?"
He glared at her. "I know what you're doing now.." He turned away. "I'm no father, Xena."
Anticlea sunk down on her heels, looking at Gabrielle. Gabrielle rubbed her shoulder. "It's Ok, Anti," She whispered.
"We both know that's not true, Autolycus. I saw this necklace..when I shared your mind," Xena said, going to him.
"I thought I told you not to go messing with my mind..," He grumbled, then sat up. "Wait a second..if you knew then I was a father..Why didn't you say anything until now?!"
"I said something about it then..I guess you didn't catch it," Xena said, giving the necklace back to Gabrielle. "'You've got a good heart, Autolycus.. I was in there, I know.' Remember that?"
He sighed. "Yeah..OK, Fine. So I am the kid's father.. but how do you suppose I find her, huh? It's been almost fourteen years.. She's not in those woods anymore!"
"Ever try saying her name?," Xena asked, then looked at the bush, waving Anticlea and Gabrielle out.
He laughed, looking at the ground. "Right, Xena. Like all I have to do is say 'Anticlea' and she'll show-"
"Au-Autolycus..?" Anticlea walked over to his back, then glanced at Xena. She smiled, nodding.
Autolycus turned around, then paled. "Wha- I-I.." He looked at Xena. "You! You brought her here?!"
Xena nodded, leaning against a tree. "Anticlea needs to know her father, Autolycus."
He looked back at Anticlea, then stood up and walked away. Anticlea looked at Gabrielle, a pained look on her face. Gabrielle shrugged. Xena went to Autolycus. "Something wrong?"
He laughed. "That's not Anticlea.." He looked at her. "Anticlea was just..so Small.. I .."
"That was fourteen years ago, Autolycus. She was two. People get older."
Autolycus sighed. "I know... It's just that..Oh, Xena, you don't understand.."
She glared at him. "Don't understand?! Autolycus, I sent Solan to that centaur village not long after you sent Anticlea to the Thieves Guild! I know what it's like to give away a child you love.." She held his shoulder. "And I don't want you to lose yours like I did mine.."
"I know.. I'm sorry, Xena. It's just that for so long I tried to keep this hidden and-" He paused. "Did you say Thieves guild?!"
"Yes..Why?" Xena looked at him, her eyebrow raised.
"The..one in Milos..?" He swallowed.
She nodded. "We just took her from there..There was a rebel's revolt and they tried to kill her.." She glanced at him. He was sitting down, pale. "Is something wrong, Autolycus?"
"She-She was the newly placed ruler?!" He rubbed his face.
"Yes.." She took her sword. "What do you know about that rebellion, Autolycus." She narrowed her eyes.
"Xena!!" He stared at her, surprised, then shoved the sword away. 'You know I wouldn't have any part in something like that! I had gotten word from Norbus, one of the elders there, that there was a newly placed ruler for that guild.. That's where I was going, Xena. To Milos.. and then I heard about a 'Trises' and something about rioting..and killing the new leader." He looked down, shaking his head. "If I had known it was her..I-I would've tried to do something..but.."
"But you saw nothing in it for you at the time," Xena said. He glared at her, then sighed, nodding. She shrugged, going over to Argo. She took a sword from her pack and tossed it to Autolycus' feet. He stared at it. 'Well, you can make it up to her now.'
"What do you mean? What's with the sword?" He picked it up ,looking at her.
"You're going to need it..to help.' She turned away, going back to Gabrielle and Anticlea.
"Need it?! To Help?! Xena, what'd you just volunteer me for?!,"He yelled.
"Aw, You've got a good heart, Autolycus! You'll help!," She called.
"Why can't people just leave my heart out of this stuff..," He grumbled, then stood up. "All right, Xena.. but I really wish I knew WHAT I'm helping with here!"
"Oh. you'll know.. When it happens.' She glanced at Anticlea. 'How're you doing?"
"Ok..." She looked quickly at Autolycus, then back to Xena. "What about him? I mean, does he still think-"
"I don't know. You can't tell with Autolycus..He changes his mind quickly.." She quieted down as he walked by, looking at them. She smiled at Anticlea. "we'll see what he thinks later, hmm?" Anticlea nodded. "All right. C'mon."
* * *
Trises sat down, putting his boots on the table and glaring at the other boys in the room. "This was pathetic.. Two women, a girl, and an old man..and US." He threw his feet back down to the floor with a loud thump. "Why did they make it out of here?!"
"I-I thought we did good for a while-," One started.
Trises glared at him. 'What?! You say that?! YOU!? Who was supposed to take care of Tierius?! No! We did not do good! They made it out of here! Even Tierius!" He smacked the boy upside the head.
"Well, you ARE leader, right? So why do we need to-," Another boy started.
"To do this? I want to be sure..I've waited for this for years. I'm no going to let her take it away again." He glanced at the boy. "Why do you ask, Arnos?... You're not going SOFT like Delne,did, are you?"
Arnos shook his head quickly. "Uh, N-No, Trises! I-I wouldn't do that!" He swallowed hard.
Trises stared at him. "You." He stood up, his eyes narrowed.
Arnos stiffened. "W-what? What's wrong, Trises?," He stammered.
Trises walked over to him, staring him in the face. Arnos swallowed again, looking at the other boys. Trises glared at them "Get out. Now." They ran from the room as Trises grabbed Arnos' shoulders. "How long have we known each other, hmm?
"A-A long time, Trises..Since we were young. You know that..Why?" He tried to pull away.
"Ah. And..how long have you known Anti?" His grip tightened.
"For seven years..Trises, that hurts! Let go!,"He yelled, pulling back.
Trises let go, smiling. "So you've known me longer.."
"That's what I said...,"Arnos mumbled, rubbing his shoulder. He paused. "What are you thinking?"
Trises turned back towards the table. "How well is your archery and sword handling? You won at the festival last month, correct?"
"Yeah..Trises, WHAT are you-" He stopped, his eyes widened. "You're not gonna ask me to-"
Trises turned back around, holding a sword and bow. "To what? Do this?" He smiled. "You're the best of the Guild, Arnos. You should see it as an honor."
'Trises, I-I can't! Anticlea's a good friend of mine!"
'Exactly. You can get close to her..she won't expect it from you." Trises pressed the weapons into Arnos' hands.
"I just thought you were getting her out of the Guild! Not this! Trises, I can't! Not to Anti!" He started to set down the sword.
Trises clamped his hand around Arnos' wrist. 'You don't do this..I'll get Matos to do you off.," He growled, glaring at him.
Arnos stared at him, then nodded, picking the sword back up."All right, Trises..but I just hope you know what you're doing..," he whispered.
Trises smiled. "Oh,I know what I'm doing, all right.." He pointed to the door. "GO. And tell the others to come back in here."
Arnos left, then the other boys returned. Trises sat down, looking at them,then pointed to one. "You. Follow Arnos.. Make sure he does what he was told. If not.." He shrugged. "Well, he wasn't needed anyway. Eliminate him." He turned to the others. "Now, the rest of you, Pay attention." He smiled. "This is the FUN part.."
* * *
Anticlea sighed, opening her bag and glancing at Autolycus. He was sleeping, his head resting on Gabrielle's pack. "Wish I could sleep that well..," She muttered, fumbling through her bag.
"So do I." Xena sat down beside her, glancing at the bag. "What're you looking for?"
"Oh, I don't know.. Just..thinking. I guess I thought this would help." She looked down into it. "Oh, Here they are... The arrows Tierius gave me." She pulled them out, glancing at Xena.
She smiled. " You miss him, don't you."
"Which one? Delne or Tierius?" Anticlea slid an arrow into the latch on her armbow, trying to lock it in.
"You tell me." She stretched her legs, glancing at Anticlea.
Anticlea sighed, then smiled. "Both. Delne's so..I dunno..great. I hoped he and I could someday.." She trailed off, then laughed. "Someday so something great."
Xena glanced at her, an eyebrow raised. "Oh? Like...?"
"Oh, steal a whole fortune or statue together. You know, record making. Something for Gabrielle to really get her quill going." Anticlea grinned.
Xena laughed. "You're definitely his daughter." She nodded towards Autolycus.
Anticlea stopped smiling, glancing quickly at the ground. "He doesn't seem to think so."
"Not again..," Xena mumbled, then put her hand on Anticlea's shoulder. "Anti, I know the truth.. He really IS your father."
"How do you know,Xena?! I mean, this whole time you've kept saying that! But how do I know what you say is true?!" Anticlea glared at her.
"I know, Anti, I do! I-" She sighed, putting a hand to her face."I was in his mind.. I shared his thoughts. YOU were in there. Your necklace..the armbow..your name. YOU. He hasn't stopped thinking of you.. but tried to never show it." She glanced at Anticlea. "Believe me now?"
Anticlea stared at her, the arrow falling out of her hand. "You WHAT?!" She shook her head. "Xena,that's one of the strangest things I've ever heard!"
Xena sighed again. "You want proof. Everybody wants proof anymore. Fine.' She paused, thinking. "Autolycus knew of a birthmark..small, but there, on the back of your neck. A red mark." She glanced up. 'Well?"
Anticlea put her hand to her neck. "I've had my hair down since we met.. And even Delne doesn't know about that.. You must have.." She looked at Autolycus. "Why does he hide knowing me, then? I mean.."
"I don't know..but I have a feeling we will soon." She glanced at him, then at Gabrielle. 'And hopefully they're ready for it." She took her sword out, looking it over. "You're 'friend' Trises hasn't given up..He seemed to be the type who wants his problems gone..but I think..,' She paused, glancing at Anticlea. She had fallen asleep,leaning against the tree behind her. Xena shook her head, smiling. "Good night, Anticlea.."
* * *
Autolycus yawned, rolling over, then yelped as the hilt of the sword in his belt poked him. Gabrielle opened an eye, glancing at him, then threw the blanket over her head. "Thanks for asking if I'm all right..," he grumbled, sitting up. "Xena?" He rubbed his head, looking around. Anticlea was still asleep beside the tree, but Xena was gone. He groaned, getting up. "I hate it when she does this.." He cupped his hands over his mouth. "Xena! Hey, Xena!! What'm I supposed to do if-"
"-If Trises' men show up?," A male voice said behind him.
Autolycus turned around quickly, glancing at Gabrielle. "Gabby..!!" He took the sword from his belt. "Girls, we have company!"
Gabrielle scrambled to her feet, grabbing her staff from a bush. She poked it to the back of the boy's neck. "Who are you? What do you want?," She demanded.
Anticlea jumped up, pushing away Gabrielle's staff. "Gabrielle, don't! It's only Arnos! He's my friend..from the Guild!" She turned to him. "Are you ok?"
"Um..yeah. How about you?" He glanced around. "Where's Delne?"
"With Tierius..A few villages back. They'll be catching up soon." She glanced back at Gabrielle. "I hope." Gabrielle shrugged.Anticlea turned back to Arnos. "What are you doing out here?"
"I was looking for you!" Three arrows fell from his bag as he spoke. He picked them up quickly, glancing at her.
Gabrielle readied her staff, but sighed and put it back as Anticlea gave her a sharp look. Autolycus stepped forward, sliding his sword into his belt as he glanced at Anticlea. He turned to Arnos. "What's with the weapons?"
He swallowed, rubbing his neck. "I-I figured they might be useful, with Trises and all.."
"Hmm." Autolycus walked away, going beside Gabrielle. "You trust him?." He muttered.
"Not at all." She glanced at him.
"Thought so. Just checking." He glanced at Anticlea, who was hugging Arnos. "You gonna watch him or what?"
She sighed. 'Yes.."
Anticlea sat down, watching Arnos slide down beside her. "Is it still so bad there?"
"Um..yeah. Trises gave an order-," He choked, glancing at her. "I-I mean, He's a bit worse now."
She pulled her hair back. "You wouldn't lie to me, would you, Arnos?"
"N-no! Anti, I.." He sighed. "You're like a sister. I'd never lie to you." He stared at the ground.
Anticlea leaned back against the tree, looking at Autolycus, then back at Arnos; considering telling him. She shook her head. She wasn't sure, herself. No sense starting rumors.
Autolycus frowned, leaning over the fire. "Of course Xena leaves when this is dying out..I'm going to get more wood, Gabrielle!" He walked past her. "Keep an eye out..," He muttered.
She nodded, sitting on a log. She twirled her staff, looking at Anticlea and Arnos. He shifted his weight, making Gabrielle jump. Anticlea glared at her, mouthing knock it off. Gabrielle sighed, sitting back down. She jumped up again a few minutes later, but not over Arnos' movement. Twigs snapped behind her,then the sound of footsteps. "Autolycus? You found wood that quick?" No answer. She stepped into the brush. "Xena? Is that you?" She walked in farther. "Xena.." She continued out of sight.
Anticlea stood up. "Gabrielle, Xena went THAT way, not-," She paused, hearing a sword drawn behind her.
"I'm sorry, Anticlea..Trises made me do this..," Arnos said, pointing the sword into her back.
She glanced over her shoulder. "Arnos, What-?!"
He shoved her feet out from under her, tripping her. "I don't want to, really, I don't...but I have to." He pointed it at her throat."I'm really sorry."
Another sword smashed against his, knocking it away. Autolycus stood over Anticlea's head, glaring at Arnos. "Good friend, huh?" He helped her to her feet.
Arnos backed away, colliding with Gabrielle. He twirled around.
"Hi." Gabrielle smiled, smacking him across the face with her staff. He crumbled to the ground, groaning. She glanced at Autolycus. "Good timing!"
"I guess you've accepted her now, Autolycus." Xena walked out of the bushes, looking at him.
"I-I couldn't let him kill her!," He stammered. "I had to do something!"
She crossed her arms. "You knew Gabrielle could handle that. She was already behind him to attack. Your paternal instincts took over.." She smiled. "And that's one thing you can't hide."
"All right, all right.." He paused. "Hey, wait a sec! You knew he was there and would do this! You set me up!"He glared at her." Why didn't you do something?!"
Arnos groaned,pushing himself up and looking at Anticlea. "Oh..by Zeus and all on Olympus, what have I done.." He shook his head." I'm so sorry, Anti..I-I was afraid of Trises..I tried to tell him not to make me do this.. but he'd kill me if I didn't... I'm sorry, Anti, oh, I'm SORRY!" He stood up. Autolycus glared at him, his hand on his swordhilt. Arnos shook his head, putting his hands out. "No..it's all right. I've made up my mind..FORGET Trises." He took Anticlea's hand. "I'm going to help you.. and fight against him."
Xena glanced at the bushes behind them, hearing rustling of something moving.
* * *
The boy knocked on Trises' door, then glanced behind him. The door opened. "Well? Where's Arnos?" Trises glared at him.
The boy shook his head. "He didn't do it...He's switched sides."
Trises' eyes narrowed. "Oh, he HAS.." He glanced at the boy. "Good job. Now get LOST." The boy ran off as Trises closed the door. "I guess Arnos just wants to make this more enjoyable for me. No pleasure I'd love more than being rid of being rid of Anticlea, Tierius, Delne, and him.. All my problems gone in one." He smiled. "MORSIS! Go get the men! We leave tomorrow at dawn!" He paused. "And make sure we bring Matos for Arnos.."
* * *
Tierius slid down beside a building, sighing. Delne bent down on one knee. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, Delne..I'm fine. It's just that.." He looked at him. "Oh.." He stood back up. "Let's just keep going."
"Tierius, if you're still hurting, we can go back to the alchemist. He did good on your shoulder. Are you sure-?"
"I said I'm FINE, Delne." He walked on. "Besides, I don't think he can cure this..."
Delne raised an eyebrow, following him. "C'mon, Tierius! What is it? What's wrong?"
"Stop, Delne..I can't..I..I promised.." He glanced at him, then shook his head. "But you love her so much..I-I don't know what to do.."
"love h- This is about Anti?!" He grabbed Tierius' shoulder. "What is it?! Tell me, Tierius!"
"All right,all right...She's- leaving.. She's leaving the Guild." He straightened up. "There."
"I knew that, Tierius. We were just kicked out."
" No..I mean.. She's leaving..us. She's found her.." He paused. "Her...calling."
Delne flopped onto a log, staring ahead. "She's.. she's leaving me.." He jumped back up. " NO! I've got to find her.. Talk some sense into her! I need her- We need each other! I-I can't-!!"
Tierius touched his shoulder. "She's gone, Delne...She's left. I'm sorry. We shouldn't keep going..It will only hurt her.."
Delne looked at him through tear-streaked eyes. "If that's best for Anticlea.." He looked up. "But I still love her, Tierius.. Nothing will ever change that.." He turned back, walking with Tierius towards Athens. He glanced back over his shoulder. "May the gods give you what you've always wanted, Anti...and my love forever..."
* * *
Xena sharpened her sword on a rock, glancing at Autolycus and Anticlea. "They're bonding well..."
"I know..isn't it great? I'm so happy for them.." Gabrielle smiled.
Xena looked at her. "Oh? You didn't even believe me at first!"
"Well, I do now.." She set her staff against a rock, sitting down. "I just don't know if it's going to be safe for them alone.."
"Don't worry about that.. We can keep tabs on them.. and tell Hercules about them so he can watch out, too. They'll be all right. Besides, it's not like they're helpless.. You saw how well Anti handled herself at the Guild..and you KNOW Autolycus."
"True." She glanced at them again. "But what about Trises?"
'We'll take care of that for them." Xena glanced at her, then smiled.
Anticlea glanced at Autolycus. "So you were coming to see me, huh?"
"I didn't know who you were then.... but, yeah. Part of the job, I guess." He glanced at her, smiling. " Now what is it with this Trises?"
She sighed, leaning back. "He's crazy.. He thinks it's my fault his life's gone wrong. His uncle's the one to blame.. Trillus keeps pushing him. He convinced him to go after your belt-"
He looked up, surprised. "THAT was Trises?!"
"Yeah." She glanced over at Arnos as he stifled a laugh.
"You're right..He is crazy..only thief I've met who would actually fight over a take." he glanced at her. "Why was he after it, anyway?"
'He thought it would be a good proving item." She shrugged.
"We had to prove ourselves worthy...show how good we were.." She grinned. "I kinda had help."
She glanced up, then smiled. "Yeah. Between Hephestos' sword and the gold statuette, he knew I'd have the best chances."
Xena put a hand on Autolycus' shoulder. "Gabrielle and I are going to go check on Trises' men.. You three be all right?"
"We'll be fine..We've got a lot of catching up to do." He glanced at Anticlea.
She smiled. "Yeah, Don't worry, Xena."
"All right..We'll be back in a little while. If you need us, call out.." She turned away, going to follow Gabrielle.
Anticlea drew in the dirt, glancing at Autolycus once every few minutes. She frowned, dropping the stick. "Arnos.. Would you go get some wood? It's getting cold.."She looked at him, then glanced at Autolycus again.
Autolycus looked up, seeing him leave, then saw Anticlea looking at him with a questioning look. Here it comes, he thought. I knew she was going to ask sooner or later..
"Autolycus..I- Um..never mind.." She stared back at the ground.
"What? It's Ok..what's on your mind?" He stretched his back, looking at her. This is gonna hurt... Hurt both of us.. but I know you'll want to heat it...
"I just.. wanted to know...Why?" She turned away. "It's stupid, I know, but I - I..oh.. You don't have to answer.."
"Oh, Anti.." He reached towards her. "I didn't want to, I had to.. It was the safest thing for you." He turned her face towards his. "Anticlea, I loved you..I still do. You're one of the most important things in my life.. More than being King of Thieves! I had to.. for you. With my life, someone could have hurt you to get to me. I couldn't risk that.. So I left you near that village.. I hoped someone there would find you..but the Guild- I- I didn't think the GUILD.. You still turned out like me.." He hung his head. "A fool thief."
"I wouldn't want to be anyone else, Autolycus.. This is who I am.. Who I was meant to be." She touched his hand, smiling. "You're not a fool, Auty.. I'm glad to be like you."
"How CUTE.. Tough little Anti's got a soft spot."
Autolycus jumped to his feet, pulling the sword from his belt. "Trises?! How did you get around Xe-"
"Shut up." He nodded towards Autolycus, signaling the men in the bush. They scrambled out, attacking Autolycus. Trises turned to Anticlea. "So this is what that idiot Tierius was always muttering about.. Your dear daddy." He grabbed her, yanking her off the rock. "At least now I have someone to watch.."
"No! Let go off her!," Autolycus yelled, shoving the men away, then charging at Trises. "Don't you touch her!!"
Trises glared at him, then signaled to someone behind a tree. A branch flew from around the tree, smashing into Autolycus. He groaned, falling backwards. Trises shrugged."Oh, well. I guess I didn't really need a witness.." He threw Anticlea down, pulling his sword out and going over to Autolycus.
"Auty, No!" Anticlea grabbed her sword, rolling quickly beside Autolycus. She blocked Trises' sword just before Autolycus' throat, trying to push it away. She glanced quickly at him. "C'mon, Auty..wake up!" Trises pushed down harder, buckling Anticlea's grip. She grunted, pushing back. "Xena!," She screamed, shoving at the sword as hard as she could, then glancing at Autolycus again. "Auty, come on! I- ugn- can't keep this up!" She winced, shoving up again.
Autolycus groaned, then gasped as he saw the two swords. 'Anticlea,WHAT-?!"
"Move Auty!," She yelled, pushing harder against Trises' blade.
He rolled quickly backwards as Anticlea lost her grip, letting the swords fall where Autolycus' neck had been. Trises glared at Anticlea."Well, you got your daddy out of trouble..But what about you,hmm?" He pointed the sword at her throat, kicking her sword away. "No more distractions.."
"No, I think you forgot one..ME!" A hand grabbed Trises' shoulder, turning him around. Xena kicked him in the stomach, then sent a double-fisted punch down on his back. "Now be nice..," She said as he fell to the ground.
"Xena!" Anticlea smiled, staring to get up. Autolycus took her arm, helping her. "I-I should've called out sooner.. I didn't think-"
"It's all right, Anti. I think now you two will be all right...Once I bring him-" She shoved foot down on Trises' back. "-To Milos..I hear the prison there has been looking for him."
Gabrielle glanced at Anticlea's shoulder, seeing a gash down it. "Oh, Anti! You're bleeding!"
Anticlea shrugged. "It's not as bad as it could have been.. Trises must've managed to cut me when he dropped his sword down." She wiped the blood away, grinning at Gabrielle. "See? All better," She smiled, then fainted.
"Anti!" Gabrielle caught her, then looked at Xena. "What..?"
She sighed, shaking her head. "Overexerted herself..Too much at one time."
Autolycus frowned, looking back at the sword he had dropped. "I should've gotten it.. I didn't think..," He muttered as Gabrielle laid Anticlea down.
Gabrielle rubbed his shoulder. "It's ok, Autolycus! Xena handled it..forget about it!"
"Gabby, you don't get it!" He sighed. "What good will I do her if I can't think about something that fast?" He looked at Xena. "Maybe it'd be best if-"
Xena glared at him. "No. She's your daughter. She needs YOU. You can do this, Auty. I know you. " She smiled. "It was just hard to think with a tree branch knocking you out."
Autolycus shook his head, trying to hide his smile, then looked at Anticlea. "She..does look like I remember.. She just never sat still long enough for me to tell.." He sat on his heels beside her, brushing the hair from her face. He smiled again. "Anticlea.."
Xena glanced at Gabrielle, smiling, then looked back at Autolycus. "Well? If you'd like, I can talk to Hercules about getting Jason to let her into the Academy.."
"That's all right, Xena.." He looked up. "I really don't think that'd be necessary.." He glanced back down as Anticlea began to wake. "I'm taking her with me.. I'm going to be her father."
Anticlea groaned, rubbing her head, then stared at him. "D-Did I just hear you say-?"
He nodded, spreading his arms. "Come here, daughter.."
"Oh, Autolycus!!" She threw her arms around him, crying into his shoulder as she smiled. "Father.."
He grinned, rubbing her back. "Call me Auty.." He pulled back. "Or dad."
Gabrielle sat beside Xena. "You knew he'd do that, didn't you?"
Xena glanced at her, then smiled and looked back at Autolycus and Anticlea. "That's hard to say, Gabrielle. I had a feeling.." She shot a glance over her shoulder. "Thing is, that feeling isn't gone.."
* * *
Trillus flung open the door of the hut, storming in. "TRISES!! Where are you?! Trises!!"
A boy ran in behind him. "Trillus! Trises was caught..by Xena!!"
"He WHAT?!" Trillus grabbed the other boy by the vest. "My nephew-!"
"Trillus, WAIT!" He raised a hand. " Before you get furious.. I have a compensation.." He waved to other boys outside.
They came in, dragging Arnos by the vest. Trillus smiled. "The TRAITOR." He grabbed him. "So you thought you could turn on my nephew, hmm?"
Arnos groaned. "I already got the lecture...From Martos' fists....," He muttered, looking at Trillus through reddened eyes. "I don't care, Trillus. This is wrong.. Anti did nothing to you!"
"This is right, you idiot!" He slammed him against the wall. Arnos grunted. "Anticlea has been nothing but trouble for me!"
Arnos tried to get his arms free of his binds. "You're crazy! Anti's the least violent here!"
Trillus roared. "Incompetent idiot!" He threw him away from him. "You- rrgh!" He paused. "You're close to Anticlea..Almost as much as Delne.." He smiled. "Now, she'd just hate to see you hurt.."
Arnos backed away. "No.." The other boys blocked his path. He swallowed, then raised his head. "Fine! Hurt me how you like, but you'll never hurt Anticlea!"
"Oh, that's where you're wrong.. Hurting you will hurt her.." He grabbed him. "And if she sees it.. Now, who knows what she'll do.."
* * *
Anticlea smiled, keeping pace with Autolycus, then paused. "Xena? Where's Arnos?"
Xena glanced at her. "Didn't he come back to the site?"
"I thought he went with you!"
She shook her head. "No, he was supposed to be with you."
Anticlea paled. "He wasn't... You don't think-"
Autolycus turned somber. "He left before Trises attacked." He looked at Anticlea. "He was either WITH them.. or they took him."
"NO! Arnos wouldn't have turned on me.. not again!" She looked at Xena pleadingly." We have to find him! Please! Xena, I-I-"
They turned around. Trillus smiled, a dagger in his hand. "You were right, Anti. He didn't turn on you.. But I already found him."
Xena put a hand to her chakram. Trillus waved the dagger warningly. "No, no.. Don't you do that.." He pointed across the path. "Those boys have been told to kill Arnos if I'm even looked at wrong." Two boys clung to Arnos' shoulders, both holding swords against his neck. Arnos looked at Anticlea, then to his feet.
"Arnos!" She started towards him. Autolycus flung his arm in front of her, shaking his head harshly. She glared at Trillus.
"What do you want?," Xena asked, her eyes narrowed.
"A fair trade.. Arnos.. for Anticlea." Trillus ran the dagger across a tooth, looking at Anticlea.
Autolycus pushed her behind him, staring at Trillus. "You're not touching my daughter." He took the sword from his belt.
Xena glanced at him, then her eyes brightened. "That's strange, Trillus.. You'd care more about revenge on Anti... than your family?"
Trillus blinked. "What?"
Xena whistled, calling Argo and Gabrielle from a bush. Trises lay across Argo's back, still unconscious. Trillus stared at them, then roared. "Give him here!"
Xena smiled. "A fair trade, Trillus... Trises.. for Arnos."
Trillus frowned. Anticlea stared at xena. "What're you-?!"
"Relax, Anti...," Xena muttered. "My trade's got an agreement with it.."
Trillus sighed, then nodded. Xena smiled as the boys released Arnos, watching him run to Anticlea. Trillus glared at Xena. "Well?! Now Trises goes with me!"
"Not quite." She pulled Trises off the horse, unbinding his hands. "I still have some..terms." She glanced at him. He frowned. " Come with me." She yanked Trises behind her to a bushed area, talking to Trillus.
Anticlea glanced at Gabrielle as Arnos rubbed his wrists. "What's she doing now?!"
Gabrielle shrugged. "I'm not sure.. But she BETTER explain."
Arnos looked up. "Anticlea? Where... are Delne and Tierius?"
"Delne! Tierius!!" She turned to Gabrielle. "Where ARE they?!"
Gabrielle winced. " I hoped you wouldn't ask until Xena came back.." She sighed, putting a hand on Anticlea's shoulder. "Anti.. They're not coming back.. They- They started anew, like you are with Autolycus.. You'll see each other again, someday... I know it. Tierius is your second father.. but the one you know best. He's a part of you.. and you him. As for Delne.." She paused. " You and Delne.. I felt something.. something strong.. like Xena and I." She looked at Anticlea. "You'll see him again. I know it..."
Anticlea bit her lip. "But- But Gabrielle, I-I.. I don't know what I'll do without him..." She shook her head. "Delne.. Oh, Delne, I-I need you.."
Arnos put his hand on hers. "Anticlea?"
"Oh- Arnos!" She took a deep breath. "I-I'm sorry, I-"
"No, No, I understand... Just.. please, Don't worry about it..." he glanced back. "Anticlea, I don't belong here.. I have to go back.."
"TO THE GUILD?! Arnos, NO! They'll-"
"No, Not the Guild.." He looked at her. " My brother Asaris lives outside of Athens...I'll go to him.. but if you ever need me.. " He squeezed her hand. " Come to me. I swear I'll do what I can."
"Arnos..." She smiled, then hugged him. "Thank you..."
He smiled, hugging her back. "You're like a sister, Anti. I'd do anything for you.." He pulled back. "But now you've got what you always wanted, Anticlea! Your father... the man you've looked for all your life!"
She laughed, wiping a tear from her eye. "Yeah.." She looked at him. "If you ever see Tierius or Delne again.."
He nodded. "I know." He bowed slightly. " Farewell, Princess of Thieves.." He straightened up, walking east.
Anticlea glanced at Gabrielle. Gabrielle's eyes were watering over, her face was red. She sniffed. "Um..Dust.. It- it got in my eye..."She turned away.
* * *
Xena rubbed her hands together, coming back from the bushes. She smiled at Autolycus. "Well.. Those two won't be a problem for you any more."
He raised an eyebrow. "What'd you do, put the pinch on both of 'em?"
She laughed, shaking her head. "No.. Made a ... Compromise. They don't come near you.. I don't turn them into the Nises Constable."
"Nises? But isn't Nises the village that allows executions?"
"Exactly. Those two are wanted for a lot of thefts there..." She glanced at him. "And if I accidentally confused a few of yours in with theirs, it would increase a lot more.."
"Ho, HO!" Autolycus rubbed his hands. "Now there's the way I like to hear you talk, Xena! Double play!" He glanced back as Anticlea and Gabrielle came over. "Say, where's that other kid-"
Gabrielle shook her head quickly. Autolycus winced. "Oooh, sorry.."
Anticlea sighed. "It's all right, Auty.." She glared at Gabrielle. " Quit trying to do that, would you?! I can take it!" She glanced at Autolycus. "He left... He felt out of place..."
He touched her shoulder. "You don't feel out of place.. do you?"
She looked up at him, smiling. "No.. No, I don't, Auty..." She hugged his arm. "Not with you..."
He smiled. "Good." He glanced at Xena. "You're sure now.."
She nodded. "I'm certain, Autolycus.." She touched his arm. "I don't want you to lose your child like I did, Autolycus.. I swear to you, it's safe... and if he does come back, I'll do whatever it takes."
He turned away. "Xena.." He shook his head. " That's not what I meant.. I just.. " he sighed. " Never mind." He looked at Anticlea. "I just hope I can do this.."
Xena smiled at him, putting a hand on his shoulder. "You'll do fine."
Gabrielle tapped Anticlea on the side. "Uhh? What's wrong, Gabby?" Anticlea turned to look at her.
"Oh, you're gonna start that, too, huh?" She smiled. "I just wanted to tell you.. good luck. Autolycus really is a good man.. I see a lot of him in you, now.." She took Anticlea's hand. "You've got a good heart, Anti.. Just like him."
Autolycus took a breath, then cleared his throat. "Well, now, Princess of Thieves, maybe we should be going.."
Anticlea smiled. "Sure, King of Thieves." She looked at Xena. "Thank you.. Even though I've been separated from Delne and Tierius.. You've given me back something I've missed and wanted my whole life.."
Xena shrugged. "It's nothing, Anti, I-" She paused as Anticlea ran to her, hugging her. "Um.. " She smiled awkwardly as Anticlea pulled away, smiling.
"Anticlea..," Autolycus called, heading down the south path. "C'mon, Daughter.."He paused. "'Daughter'.. Now that's something I'll have to get used to.."
Autolycus blinked, then rubbed his head. "'DAD'..?! That too!"
She smiled at Gabrielle. "Thank you to you, too.." She reached out, taking Gabrielle's hand. She looked in her eyes. "I might be a thief, but it's still nice to know there's people who don't judge me.." She paused, taking her hand back slowly. "And not everything I have is stolen.." She smiled quickly, then ran after Autolycus, grabbing his arm, then turning around quickly and waving to Xena and Gabrielle.
Xena went beside Gabrielle. "What was that about..?" She glanced at the two. "I don't understand what she was saying.."
Gabrielle smiled, looking in her hand. "I do, Xena." A small necklace sat in the palm of Gabrielle's hand, made with polished stones. She glanced after Anticlea, smiling again.
Xena glanced at the necklace. "What-" She started towards the path. "Anticlea-!!," She started.
Gabrielle caught her shoulder. "Xena, NO! Anti didn't steal this!"
Xena glared at her. "How do you know that?! She's a thief!" She turned back. "Anti!"
"Xena, Please! Listen to me! She made this herself! I know she did! Can't you just not judge her?!"
Xena paused. '..Not judge.." She looked at Gabrielle. "This..is what.. Anticlea was talking about, isn't it..?"
Gabrielle nodded."You have to trust your friends, Xena.." She put a hand on Xena's shoulder. "You trust ME, don't you?"
"Of course I do! But that's because you're not-"
"Not a thief? Xena.. Don't judge like that!" She shook her head, then looked back towards where Anticlea and Autolycus had been. Only their shadows could be seen. "Think of them just as the Father and Daughter they are, Xena.. Not the Royal family of Thieves."
Xena smiled. "Father and Daughter.." She put an arm on Gabrielle's shoulder."I think those two are about to get into more trouble than we do, don't you?"
Gabrielle glanced at her. "What do you mean?"
"You know Autolycus.. You really think having a daughter is going to slow him down..?" She glanced after them, shaking her head. "I think all it'll do is help him out; now that we know what Anti's like.."
Gabrielle winced. "You're right.. Who knows what those two're gonna do now...." She glanced at Xena. "Think we should follow them?"
Xena shook her head again. "No.. It's their new beginning.. Let them figure it out..." She took Argo's reigns, turning away. "Well, we better be going if we're going to reach Troy by nightfall..."
"Yeah, I guess so.." Gabrielle turned to follow her.
* * *
Anticlea looked at Autolycus, smiling. He glanced at her. "Something wrong?"
She shook her head. "Nah.. I .. still just can't believe I finally found you..."
Autolycus smiled, running a hand across the top of her head. "I thought about you a lot, too..." He paused. "I just don't know what we do now.." He looked at her. "Anticlea.. I have to tell you.. Being King of Thieves is a big responsibility to me.. Something important to me." He looked at his hands."I-I don't know how you'd feel about doing what I do with me.. Sometimes it's dangerous, things get more difficult than I figure..There's a lot of risks.." He glanced at her. "If you don't want to be with me..I-I.. I'd understand..." He paused, then turned away quickly.
"Auty..."Anticlea put a hand on his back, then went around to see him face to face. "Father, no.. I want to be with YOU. As for being Princess of Thieves.."She grinned. "I..like being a thief.." She stifled a laugh, shaking her head.
"What's so funny?," He asked, looking at her strangely.
"When I first wanted to find my father..I was embarrassed.. I was afraid I'd have to give up being a thief for him..." She smiled at him. "Little did I know it would be a benefit.."
He smiled, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. "Definitely a benefit, Daughter. Definitely." He glanced at her. "And I think we have a lot we could teach each other.." He cleared his throat. "I, Of course, being King of Thieves, Have MUCH more to teach you than you me, but.."
She laughed, then hugged him."Of course, Auty."
He smiled. "Call me DAD...," He said softly.
"Dad..." She looked at him, smiling back. "I found you, Dad."
"You certainly did, Daughter." He hugged her.
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