DISCLAIMER: The characters Xena/Gabrielle/Argo probably Hercules too (I dont know) are copyright of MCA/Universal/Renaissance. No infringement of this intended. No sex in this tale, so dont worry about that. However even if the VERY notion of two women being in love with each other offends you, and that they probably will have sex just after my story finishes, maybe you should stop reading now. Anyone who does read on, please enjoy and whether you like the story or not. send comments to Rab@xgrd.freeserve.co.uk
The Day of the Warrior
by Rab Donald
Two married couples, five children between them. Enjoying a pleasant afternoon meal, remarkably carefree.
A courting couple, he is devoted, lovesick. She is less sure, feels she is being pushed too quickly into marriage.
Five men. Traders, merchants. Wealthy, all five carry daggers.
Two have swords, one a crossbow slung over his back. Another has a curved sword from a trip to the east. More daggers tucked into boots. Silk clothes, garish, expensive. Gold jewellery.
The bald one is their unofficial leader. The others both respect and resent him.
Three women, laughing together. Prostitutes. One is far too young to be in such a job. Nice clothes. Demure, they are not touting for business, simply enjoying a well-deserved break. No mistaking that cheap scent, though. The overpowering perfume that whores wear simply to counteract the dreadful body odours of sweaty, drunken clients.
Various people milling around. Waitresses, cooks, cleaners. A distinguished looking woman watches. Possibly the owner?
Four men. They carry scars, swords and defeat in their eyes.
Like the remnants of a tattered army. Out of place amongst such a relatively prosperous crowd, they are drunk. They are no threat.
They have no intention of harming anyone, not today.
"Can I get you another? Port isnt it?"
Xena looks up. "Yes please" she smiles at the barmaid.
It is the third time she has scanned the vast room, but she knows no matter how often she does it, something will be missing.
"A 100 dinar first prize!" the blonde bard had been so excited.
"But how will you get there? You know Argo is still recovering"
The warrior was worried, for a variety of reasons.
"It is already arranged. I spoke to a seed merchant who is heading to Agara very soon. He has a spare seat on his wagon" there was no hiding the enthusiasm in Gabrielles voice.
Xena groaned inwardly. How could she deny her best friend the chance to enter the bards competition? She knew further argument would be futile.
"Take care, Ill see you soon" as she spoke, the warrior surprised both herself and Gabrielle by kissing the blonde on the forehead.
It made things no easier when she noticed that her friend had tears in her eyes as she walked away.
This is just silly! We have been apart before the raven-haired warrior chided herself as she downed her second drink.
Xena looked up again. The barmaid was pretty, brunette, over attentive. She desired Xena, and she wasnt shy about hiding it.
"Another drink would be fine" the warrior said simply.
Not so very long ago she would have been more than willing to
accommodate the eager brunette. But not any more.
She had fallen for the little bard with every ounce of her being.
Gabrielle consumed her every thought, her every dream.
Yet she did not have the courage to tell her. Ha! The mighty Warrior Princess lacking in courage, better keep that one quiet
she smiled to herself.
The barmaid handed over the drink "this one is on me" she smiled her green eyes gazing wantonly at the warrior.
For a moment Xena hesitated. Those green eyes were just like those of her precious bard. What harm could it do? Had Gabrielle ever looked at her with such lust? The chances were that her beloved friend simply did not find women attractive in that way.
Xena smiled at the barmaid. "No, Ill pay for this one"
She even felt guilty just for being tempted. The odd thing was that for a long while she had all but forgotten about sex. But since she had finally realised that her feelings for Gabrielle extended way beyond friendship, her libido had reawakened with a vengeance.
Salacious thoughts filled her night-time restlessness, lonely trips to the woods for self-relief were becoming more frequent, yet more frustrating.
The five merchants move closer to the prostitutes. Angry words are exchanged. A waitress is summoned to bring more drink. One of the men grabs her ass roughly. The owner, yes, she is definitely the owner, frowns, but does nothing. The courting couple become nervous. The families remain oblivious to any commotion.
Xena sighs. She could check on Argo, but the blacksmith is becoming impatient with her.
"Visiting every five minutes will not ease the bruising on her leg" he had admonished her last time.
"Let me buy you a drink" the warrior tells the barmaid.
She has no intention at the moment of giving in to the temptation, but a friendly chat could do no harm.
"I hate this place" the barmaid says "Im Kara, by the way"
Xena did not offer her name. No-one here seemed to recognise her, and she liked it that way.
"It is big enough and busy enough" remarked the blue eyed warrior.
"Its on the main east-west trade route. We get a lot of people passing through, merchants, soldiers. Mostly men" Kara sounded indignant.
The warrior smiled. It seemed that the barmaid was determined to give as many signals as she could that she preferred women, as if her earlier come-ons had not been enough.
"The crowd of merchants, in the gaudy silk robes. Watch them. If they give you any trouble, just tell me" Xena had decided that if she wasnt going to bed the girl, the least she could do would be to protect her from those men. She knew they would start something soon, it was only a matter of time.
Kara smiled, but looked puzzled. What could she do? Yes she was strong looking, and oh so gorgeous. But against a man? Five men?
"Kara, get me and yourself another drink. Now, that woman "
the warrior pointed to the distinguished woman who seemed content to merely stand around and watch her staff running to and fro, "is she the owner?"
"Yes" the barmaid nods, looking bemused.
"Go tell her there is going to be trouble. Tell her to do nothing, I will deal with it. Once you have told her, get back behind the bar and stand near me."
The barmaid went to chat to the owner. Both looked perplexed as they looked around the room, at the warrior, then at each other. Xena watched as the owner shrugged her shoulders.
Kara returned. "Here is your drink. I bought these. You know I get off duty in the evening" she said hopefully.
Xena smiled. She really liked this girl, was flattered by her persistence.
The five merchants had been moving as a group closer and closer.
Xena was not in the mood for a fight, and she didnt like the fact that the families with young children were still there. She had to think of a way of resolving things without the kids especially, getting hurt.
She knew that if she left, Kara or maybe the girl of the courting couple would be a target for these men. She had to stay, make herself the target of what she knew was a growing drink-fuelled lust amongst at least three of the men.
They now stood in a huddle at the bar, several paces from the warrior.
"You! wench! We need more ale" called out one of them.
Kara glanced at the warrior who almost imperceptibly nodded.
The barmaid went to get the drinks.
"And then get your sweet ass over here!" another of the men added.
Xena raised herself up.
"She isnt interested in you" she said evenly "but I might be"
That got their attention.
"So how much are you willing to pay?" she added.
"I told you they were all whores" said the smallest of the men.
"Ill pay 40 dinars" another voice chipped in.
"No!" It was the bald man. "How about we all just take you. For free" he pulled out his dagger.
Xena had decided what to do. Creating a fireball by spitting her port through one of the candle flames should be enough to stop them in their tracks, then she could pounce. It may scare the children, but it
would also keep them safe.
Then something totally unexpected happened.
"Hello, there! Long time no see" a voice from behind.
The warrior turned around to see her well-muscled old friend.
"Hercules! What are you doing here?" she moved to hug him.
"Problem?" the giant man whispered. Xena gave him a smile and a wink. The wink said "you must be joking!"
"Listen Hercules. We want no trouble from you" one of the men said, he suddenly looked very unsure of himself.
But the bald man was not so afraid.
"Stay out of this Hercules. This is none of your business!"
These words served to embolden his friends.
"Yeah! We dont want trouble, but you can still get it"
"Right! Back off Hercules!" said another as swords were drawn.
Hercules gave his old friend a quick glance. Her eyes smiled.
"OK gentlemen" he said, raising his hands as a surrender "you are absolutely right. This is none of my business"
The men collectively grinned.
Hercules started to walk backwards out of the tavern.
"Im outta here. I swear I will not interfere"
Collective grins broadened.
Just as he reached the doorway he said.
"Besides, I really dont think Xena needs any help from me"
Collective grins disappeared. Fast.
"Xena!!!??" the smallest of the men dropped his dagger as his mouth fell open. One of the others who had been fumbling behind his back for his crossbow wet his expensive silk pants.
Another began to tremble violently. Only the bald man stood his ground.
"Do you really want to play?" the warrior adopted her most menacing grin. All five merchants ran from the room.
There was a ripple of applause from the seated customers.
Kara came rushing up. "You are Xena!? Ive just wet my pants too, if you know what I mean " and she kissed the warrior quickly on the mouth.
Hercules sauntered back in, laughing.
"Listen I really cant stop. I only came in because I was sure that I saw Argo in the stables" said the big man.
"It is lovely to see you anyway" smiled the warrior.
"You look different somehow. There is a look in your eyes"
said Hercules who had agreed to have one quick drink.
The warrior took a deep breath. "I am different. Im in love"
This was the first time she had admitted it to anyone but herself, and she quite enjoyed the experience.
Hercules seemed bemused. "Im in love too. Have you seen that brunette barmaid!" he beamed.
Xena grinned broadly. "Trust me, you are not her type"
Hercules drained his glass. "I feel so bad about this but I really am in a hurry. Whoever he is, he is one lucky guy! By the way, where is Gabrielle?" and with that, he was gone.
Xena returned to the bar. It was the owner who was serving.
"All drinks on the house. You were magnificent" she smiled
And you were hopeless thought the warrior if you had put your foot down when the waitress first got assaulted, they may have left sooner
But Xena didnt give voice to her thoughts, instead she asked
"Where is Kara?"
"Oh! She is running around the kitchen telling them all she has met the famous Warrior Princess"
A short time later, Kara returned.
The warrior gave her a wink.
"Listen, I wasnt trying to lead you on back there by buying you a drink. The truth is I am head over heels in love with someone. Otherwise, believe me, things might have been different"
"That is a sweet thing to say, Xena" smiled Kara "you know from now on Im going to be your number one fan"
"You may be right" the warrior said sadly. She then leaned closer.
"by the way, when you were away just now, I had a word with those girls in the corner
"The whores?" asked Kara
"Listen, they are just doing a job. One of them, the buxom redhead, really fancies you" said Xena
Kara kissed her again. "You are just the best"
Shortly after, Gabrielle walked in.
"Gabrielle!!!" the warrior was elated, running to hug her friend.
"I didnt expect you back so soon. What happened? "
The bard held the hug, longer than usual, then let go.
"I won, of course!" she beamed.
"Didnt doubt it for a second" smiled Xena
Then Gabrielle lowered her eyes.
"I did sorta spend some of the prize money. I had to pay some farmer 30 dinars just to get a lift back here. Sorry, Xena. But I just couldnt wait around hitching for a ride. I guess I missed you"
When Gabrielle looked up, Xena saw for the first time, that extra something in the bards gaze.
They hugged again.
Kara placed two drinks on the bar. She smiled at Xena then looked at Gabrielle. "Is she the one?" The warrior nodded.
"Listen Gabrielle, I dont know you, but would you take some advice from me?" asked the barmaid.
"Sure" said the bard, sounding rather unsure.
"You are the luckiest woman alive. Dont ever leave treasure lying around again. Someone will try to steal it"
"They will try, but never succeed" said Xena and she and Kara smiled.
"Just what is going on here?" asked the bemused blonde, "everyone is talking in riddles.
Kara grinned. "Im off to see a redhead. Tell her Xena, or I will"
"Ill tell her, dont worry" said the warrior.
She then turned to Gabrielle. "so you missed me huh?"
"Very much" said the bard softly. Then she leaned forward and kissed Xena gently on the lips. They held the kiss, which began to grow in intensity.
"Well in that case I think we should get us a room. We have a lot of catching up to do!"
THE END (or really just the beginning)