Author's Note: Once Again I don't own Xena: Warrior Princess. Or any other show, movie, book or song mentioned. There are only minor edits in this chapter, from the chapter seven posted previously.
We arrived at the temple of Apollo and was immediately taken to see the Oracle, I know Xena did some checking the day we arrived, and some other times. The Oracle happily reminded me nothing of either Sybil Trelawney, or Anyone from Drusilla the Mad, but I was reminded slightly of Sane River Tam. I wasn't sure what to do with that information. Although in looks, she reminded me in looks of Rebecca Gay heart, when she was in her mid-20s, even if her attitude, and the power and strength she was exuding was something of X-Men Movie's Jean Grey, but her heart I could tell was pure, something akin to Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Tara McClay, or my own brother Daniel. There a very few people in the world with such pure hearts, untouched by the darkness of humanity. Her given name was Calliope.
"Did you like what you saw?" The Oracle chuckled.
"How did I do that?" I asked. "I don't think I've ever done that before.
"You have on your own worse, access people, and used your knowing power to do, your powers just weren't so advanced in your world. Please have a seat." We did, there were wooden chairs in front of her I wouldn't call it a throne but it was a very ornate chair.
"Now what are you talking about?" Xena asked.
"All Seers, have the gift of Seeing, they have visions, they see things, the future, the past, Some have the gift of knowing, simply knowing what is, or was, the truly unlucky have the gift of Prophesy, You need all three to be an Oracle of Delphi. Ginevra, has the first two, and will develop the third as she gets older."
"I won't stay, and you can't make me." I don't think I could have sounded more like a child if I was stopping my foot and whining.
"I'm going to ask, Xena and Gabrielle leave you with me, while they deal with Joxer, and Cesar which should take most of the summer and then come back for you."
"We need some assurances from you." Xena said.
"She will be taken care of. the priests here do not take advantage of the children who live here, Apollo doesn't allow it, there is Corporal punishment but as she would be my personal guest, any misbehavior I would be the one expected to punish her, and while I would be required to punish her it would be entirely at my discretion unless she vandalized one of the idols or blatantly interrupted one of the services than the priests would require I paddle or switch her, but they still wouldn't want to do it themselves. The Priests themselves rarely lower themselves to interact with the children who live here, except for Lucian and that's only because he's more of a Priest of Asclepius, and the temple Healer."
We talked awhile and it was decided I would not stay for the summer, I would stay for however long it took them to find and help Joxer, and then they would take me to the Amazons while they went to Gaul and dealt with Caesar, and I would listen and obey, because Calliope had a Hairbrush with my name on it, no shortage of chores to do, plenty of scrolls and Ink, and no short supply of perfectly good corners if I decided to misbehave. We left the Temple and I was upset I was ranting the entire way home, when got to the inn, Gabrielle bent me slightly and gave my backside a dozen hard, heavy fast swats in the main room of the Inn. It was already burning and I wouldn't be surprised it was bruised even though I knew it wasn't. You don't get bruised from a dozen hard fast swats to the ass, unless you have anemia, or Leukemia and if I did then I had much bigger problems than a pissed off Amazon Queen. She righted me then Stooped slightly to look me in the eye because at my current height she was taller than me.
"You Young lady, obviously need a nap. Your behavior needs to be fixed, and if lying down and getting a Candle Mark's worth of sleep doesn't fix your behavior, I will fix it for you and you will not be happy when I do, do you understand?" She said looking me directly in the eye.
"Yes, Ma'am." I said I said contritely. She was right even my mother who despite her short fuse at the rest the world, for her kids had the patience of a saint would have swatted me for that display.
"Go, get into your shift and into bed, I will be in to tuck you in, in less than a quarter candle mark, if you haven't followed my instructions, Ginevra, you're taking that nap sleeping on your stomach."
I ran up the stairs.
Xena shook her head, and walked over, to Gabrielle. "Your Amazon Queen is showing, do want me to go make sure she followed your instructions?"
"No, I said I would do it, it I never thought she would behave the way she had today, Xena. I mean I imagined her wandering off at the Market, picking fights, trying to get into the action when we're in battle, sneaking into the alcohol at whatever inn we're staying at, not this."
"Well, I wouldn't discount any of the others, we knew this would happen we knew her child side would start to become stronger, I assume because of the gifts, Athena bestowed upon her so will her solider side, and they will just be separate, like your bard and your Amazon Queen Side."
"Xena if she isn't in her shift in that, Bed…"
"She is if nothing if not a good solider, Gabrielle. One who knows how to follow orders, more importantly she's smart enough not to make an already pissed off Amazon Queen who has the right to paddle her cherry red, any angrier."
Gabrielle snorted, then sighed. "After that performance she deserves it, and I never thought I'd say that. When I was her age I swore I'd never spank my kids no matter what they did…"
"Nose first in the corner nursing busted tail feathers, we all made swore that Gabrielle, but we grow up, and see the practicality in it."
Gabrielle laughed. "I should go upstairs."
I quickly stripped out of my leggings and top, and into my sleeping shift, I got a drink from the water pitcher in the room Polidora's was one of the nicest and cleanest inns we've stayed in, even if was also one of the smallest she only had her own room, a kitchen, a bathing room, the main room, a small barn with animals and horse stables, and three guest rooms all of which had two beds, and a Latrine, and lovely backyard and courtyard behind the inn. All three guest rooms had two beds, and most people who stayed there didn't get to pick either their room, or their bed mate. I felt really bad about my behavior, and I knew that when Xena and Gabrielle got back from Rome this was going to change the way they treated me. The Door opened and Gabrielle entered.
"I know what you're going to say, I acted a lot like a little kid today, and I'm Sorry."
"Yes, you did, Ginevra, Xena and I are going to want to have a talk with you, but for now go to sleep do you need to use the latrine before you take your nap?"
"No, Gabrielle." She tucked me, and I actually fell asleep, next I knew she was waking me up,
"No, Gabrielle sleep." I rolled onto my belly, and burrowed into the blankets, this wasn't a smart thing to do, she lifted up the blankets, and gave, me give stinging swats, they weren't particularly hard, but they weren't friendly either and after the swats I already got, they weren't exactly welcome. I yelped and rolled over onto my butt, and sat up.
"Good you're up." Gabrielle said. "Get dressed, you have scrolls to do, and before you do, Xena and I need to have a talk with you, go get dressed and go use the Latrine." I hesitated for a moment before I saw her hand twitch and then I got moving. When I got back from the Latrine, Xena and Gabrielle were seated on their bed, and I sat on mine.
"Ginevra, Xena and I decided we're going to start treating you a little bit more like a child, instead of an adult in a child's body, with the exception of making sure you got enough sleep, and made sure you were safe, we never really took the responsibility that you were a child seriously, like making you eat enough, or making you, do a scroll if you didn't actually feel like it, we let you do something else if you felt like it, but it stops, we're going to start treating you like you're actually 12, instead of 32."
I didn't think they treated me like I was 32, I thought they treated me like I was 12, maybe they were a little more lenient than My parents, more like my Aunt Diane's family.
"Xena, Gabrielle, you guys, are incredibly permissive like the way of most of my generation is with their kids as opposed to how their parents were permissive, but you treat me like a child, you don't ask my opinion about pretty anything, you give me orders you expect to me obeyed, there are random swats, and motherly affectionate pats, those wouldn't happen if you thought of me as an adult, you're just really permissive when it comes to parenting. Did you really think you treated me like an adult? You tuck me in at night, which is nice, and makes me feel safe, but if you thought of me an adult you wouldn't do that."
Xena chuckled. "I guess we wouldn't. Well, things need to change, we're going to get stricter, for today, and then when we come back from our journey."
"I'm still not sure how I feel about you being gone for months."
"The time will go by quickly, and Calliope is right it isn't safe for you when either with Titus or with Caesar and we need you to be safe."
"I still want to go with you."
"that isn't an option….."
I close my eyes using my knowing gift. "Once you leave me with the Amazons, Xena you'll be gone until it's almost time for winter, and you can settle either at the Inn, or at the Amazon Tribe for the winter."
"If it's for the whole Winter, it probably best we settle in with the tribe, you have skills you need to learn and Amazon need their Queen there every once in a while."
"And I want to see Alexander, he's staying with the Centaurs." I piped up.
"That's true, well when you told me the story about Caesar, Pompey, and Crassius Gabrielle and I had no choice, we'll come stay at either Mom's or the Amazon tribe for the rest of the Winter, when we're done."
Gabrielle nodded. "Now I think you have scrolls to work on. You better get to it." I did what I was told, and got the scrolls, done, dinner was some kind of boar stew. I knew Polidora didn't hunt herself but boat the meat from the Hunters, and Fisherman every day, or every few days, depending on how big a pot of stew she made. Afterward I was allowed to watch one story by Gabrielle and Xena told me to go sleep, I must not have been paying attention before because I said.
"Come on Xena, I want to hear another story." She pulled me up to a standing position and gave me half a dozen firm swats.
"It's not up for discussion, you go get ready for bed I'll be up to check on you in less than a quarter candle mark and if you're not ready for bed, we'll be having another discussion." She gave me a much gentler swat to get me moving.
I went upstairs, got undressed and put back on sleep shift, getting washed up in the basin of water that's in our room, like I said this is one of the nicer and cleaner inns, the rooms are also a bit smaller in size than the other places we've stayed, there's not a lot of room to maneuver in them, but it's very clean even the blankets and sheets are laundered more often the other places launder their blankets and sheets, and the floors, are not visibly dirty although they're probably not clean as floors in my time would be. Polidora's food is very hearty and there's always plenty of it, but unless it's fish, it's not very flavorful. I've known for a long time there's nothing in life is perfect. This is a nice, quiet, clean in, with a nice, friendly, and understanding hostess, so what if her food is a little bland, it isn't bad, it's just like eating plain rice or pasta with butter every meal. I'd rather have plain rice, than some of the stuff I ate in the army. That stuff was truly horrible. But you cook for 500 or 5000+ people, it's going not going to taste like it came out of a five Star restaurant. And then there were the MREs, which being a mechanic, I didn't usually have to eat, but was forced to once or twice. I'm not sure why they called them that they weren't meals, they weren't ready and you can't really eat them. But they do make impressive portable bombs if you get one of the Mexican meals. My Engineering skills were quite impressive, I did take the extra classes when I was learning the Mechanical stuff, and if I'd stayed in the army, if I'd Re-upped I was going to have my MOS changed and be transferred to Combat Engineers that's what I had planned to do, before I let my hitch time out and get my discharge. My father had just been shot, and been given a desk job, and My Paternal grandfather Sean had just been forced to retire being a the most decorated Police Inspector in the History of the NYPD after a major heart attack and a triple bypass. I was qualified for Combat Engineer and I would have made the transfer, but I was really needed at home. Xena came in and saw I was ready for bed, it was dark out but it had only been for about an hour which mean it was about 8 or 8:30, given the time of year. Xena made a big production of tucking me in. and it took me awhile to fall asleep, probably due to the nap, but I did.
The next morning, I was up, washed and dressed, and soon we were checking out of the inn, and on our way to the temple. I was nervous, we got there and we were greeted by the Temple Greeted. Sandra.
"I'll take you to Calliope's private rooms, she doesn't start seeing the public for another half a candle mark, she has small cabin, behind the temple, only the four senior priests really sleep in the temple, the rest of us have cabin or huts, on the grounds." She showed us to a little cabin that reminded me of the Beverly Hillbillies Cabin before they got the mansion. She knocked on the door. Calliope opened the door, she was in her robes, the cabin had a table and chairs, a hearth, a small coach, and two beds, there were in two little nooks but it all seemed to be one room.
"Please come in, Sandra, would you like to come in. I made some Fish soup." She said.
"No thank you, I had some porridge."
"Would you like some, I was a sailor's daughter for 13 years, if it's one thing I know how to do is fish and prepare fish."
"We already ate."
"Now, it's time to go over rules. While in the public rooms of the Temple itself, Ginevra needs to walk a step behind me, keep her eyes and head down, speak only when spoken to, and only in a low respectful tone, and use basic manners, if she'll be taken out of the Temple, by one of the guards and confined to my cabin. She won't be paddled for this, but if the behavior becomes a recurrent problem they will ask me to take care of, I've never spanked anyone before. I've never had a child as guest that I'm responsible for, but if it comes to that. I'll probably use my hand, or one of my wooden spoons, since that's what the last Oracle used on me, when I missed behave, it's only for a week, since you have plans to bring her to the Amazon village, and then go stay with your mother for a few days, and leave for Amphipolis, for Gaul."
"Yes." Xena said.
"You actually have more time than you realize, you will be allowed to visit the Amazons for a week and get Ginevra settled and even meet Alexander, and then travel the four days to Amphipolis, and stay with your mother for five day days before you leave for Gaul. You Will travel to Gaul move onto to Rome, it's important that you tell your mother about Ginevra, and that you stay with the Amazons over the winter months."
"We understand." Xena said. We said our good byes and they left.
"It's not so, bad here, and it's only for a week, now let's work on meditating. Find your happy place, besides Alexander, where you find most safe."
She closed her eyes, and found herself, back in her and Alexander's little apartment, after they managed to decorate it into something decent. She sat on the leather coach she got from her mother, that smelled like her father's old spice, and looked out the window she could see the Cuban Deli on the corner out the window, and suddenly the smell of Cafe Cubano filled her senses.
Although it never happened in real life, I conjured an image, if faded jeans, and my husbands oversized NYPD T-Shirt, hair in a ponytail, covered in grease, under the hood of her first car an old Crown Vic, her dad had gotten from police auction of her. It had been an unmarked sedan I breathed deep, and the scene changed. I was slightly older, well older than the body, I was in now. It wasn't much older, two years, maybe three, she had to be between 14 and 15. She got huge growth spurt between 12 and 14 and hit her adult height of 5'6, but the She that was me won't get her full breasts until she was until she was almost 17. She's definitely between the age of 14 and 15. There's a ceremony like the one in the episode where they learned about the Utma and the First Cyane, but without the blood and the horse, we're in the Telaquire tribe village, Gabrielle is dressed in her Queen Leathers, and Xena is there, and they're holding baby Eve, and I am there, and Ephiny, Eponin, Solari, and the others, And Artemis, Aphrodite, and Athena. They're all smiling. I see another vision, I am about to be married, I am about 20 years old, and Alexander is 21, Gabrielle and Tildas are performing the ceremony, they exchange beaded necklaces like most Amazons do. She isn't sure how she knows that. The next vision she receives they were 23 or about there, and they are fighting a group of thugs back to back. I carry matching Stilettos, and two matching Boot daggers, and he carries a large Battle axe and a Small Short sword. We fight together like Xena and Gabrielle used to. And move, and match like we belong together. When we're done a few are dead, the rest are broken, and then we go and free some women who are chained. I come out of the vision.
"Did you see what you were meant to see needed to see."
"All but the one thing I wished to see?'
"You growing old and having children with Alexander?"
"It's not out of the question, it's still in the cards as you used to say, but you have a destiny first."
"I figured, being send to a new world, in my younger self's body, after I died, the gods wouldn't do that, if I weren't meant for something."
"Good Point. Now it is time for me to meet with members of the public, please either stay in the private common areas of the grounds and temple."
"Because the Priests here while they educate, and protect the few children who are housed at on the grounds, they also do not want them interfering with their ability to reach and guide Apollo's followers. Stay away from the public areas, if you don't follow the rule, you'll most likely be escorted back to my cabin and asked to stay there, and if you leave my cabin after that, I will be forced to punish you."
"I wouldn't do that, Calliope, I'm your guest, and I was taught by my mother you do your best to make your host or hostess' life easier not harder while you're a guest in their home. I wouldn't intentionally go somewhere I wasn't supposed to. Are there signs?"
"Are they written in simple to understand Greek or Big complicated Words, because my Greek isn't very advanced?"
"Then I know where to take you." Before she went to see the public. She brought me to a library. She interrupted a robed man with brown hair and a brown beard.
"Pinito. This is Ginevra. She says she can't read very well."
"I've only been reading and writing in Greek several weeks, but I was gifted by the gods with the basic knowledge, it's about where someone who's been learning to read and write and do sums for about three of four years would be." I said.
Pinito. "That's a good start, more than a lot of people have, but if you really want to do well in this world, You'll need to be better and reading and Writing and doing Sums."
"I can do Sums and Mathematics very well, just not in Greek. It's not my first language."
He nodded. "What is, are you Roman?"
"American, English is my first language, but it won't exist for another 1,000 years or so. I'm from the future, the language I speak came to exist through a series of invasions on Brittana, My country was a colony of Brittana's, until it broke off and became its own country about 240 years ago, by the way, this all happened, 2,000 years in the future….I hadn't planned to say that….."
"Oracles, and you are an Oracle not a Seer, don't always have control over what comes out of their mouths."
"Can I use that, the next time, Gabrielle wants to swat me for my language?"
"I wouldn't count on it. Quick Eye."
I stayed with Pinito for hours learning how to read and write better, he said I had a better grasp of the language than I thought I did. I could read very well, probably close to most graduates of a typical village school, not Temple schools, or the academies but certainly any village school where they taught writing and writing, but my handwriting was simply atrocious, and I he would correct it if took the entire week I would be there. Apparently even though Gabrielle had, had me do scrolls she hadn't really been correctly them, so my handwriting hadn't improved. I never worked with a quill before, though I had used a fountain pen before. I had never used a dip pen, which is close enough to a Quill to develop the hand movement first thing Pinito did was correct the way I held the Quill, and then he spent four hours correcting my handwriting, and spelling. And then it was time for lunch or as they call it noon meal. It was what I'm pretty sure is Venison, carrot, onion, bean, and Wine stew, they definitely used wine in the gravy. It was pretty good. Then I had go to a Religious Service about Apollo. Which was nice enough. Then that night more Venison Wine Stew, and then I got to see a bit of an Impromptu jam session, and then Calliope was dragging me off to bed.
Meanwhile, in Amfissa, the few days, the plot was set, Joxer was not beat they had met him before he ever went there, so there was no revenge to be had. It was a grey areas, the Casino still needed to be dealt with but it would take longer, the three, Xena, Gabrielle, and Joxer who was surprisingly efficient of them took jobs in the Casino instead and took it down from the inside, it took a full week for their plan to come to a head, and the confrontation with Titus to happen, but it did. Leo was not killed but not smart enough to run the business kid younger brother would run the casino Herodes, nothing like his father or brother, and was an honest man, even if he would probably still water down the drinks he was a businessman after all.
And before they knew it, Gabrielle and Xena were on their way to Delphi. Joxer were on their way to another Village. I was having lunch, in the community dining hut. When Calliope came sitting next to me.
"They'll be here in a little over two hours….."
"Pinito, says your handwriting has vastly improved, and you read and do mathematics as well as someone who attended a Temple school. He didn't have time to work on Literature, History, or the History of the Gods, you were only here for a week, but when I told him you were going to stay at an Amazon village. And traveling with a Bard and Amazon Queen, he gave me extensive notes to give them. They're in the cabin."
"I appreciate his help. I don't like being considered uneducated.'
"You weren't for most people, you would have been considered educated. Most people aren't even as educated as you were."
"But not Amazons or most people I would know."
"No." She said. A few hours later. I was sitting in the garden. Doing a Staff drill by myself. When a voice came from behind me.
"I could show you another way to do that." It was Xena.
"We're not leaving until morning Xena, We have all afternoon. I'll show her some drills with my Staff." Gabrielle added.
"You're back!" I ran up and hugged them, Staff still in hand.
"Hey kid." Xena said.
"How'd it go?" I asked.
"Went fine." Gabrielle said. "We'll tell you about it on the road to the Amazon village, it didn't go anything like you said. Come on" She take out her staff. "I want to show you some things."