Disclaimer: I own none of these characters or the Xena franchise. (One can dream...)
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Sweat beaded heavily on Xena's forehead, the swelled sun beat down on her in a blaze of light. The shining even had made it past the palm trees that blanketed the island, and now the Warrior Princess weaved through them flawlessly. Her enemies, however, stumbled through the lush. Although, honestly, they weren't as far behind Xena as she would have liked. They weren't gaining on her, but they steadily charged, determined as ever to say they were the one who brought down The Warrior Princess. They were pirates, and Xena certainly had a rich bounty on her head. She had a lot of enemies, most of whom were warlords who named her as a traitor. Xena had switched sides, but it was almost as if she couldn't be all good. And it wasn't even the fact that she was a warrior, it was more the fire in her eyes that arose with every kill.
And it just so happens there is one God who lives for that very fire, Xena thought, wincing.
But she couldn't let thoughts of the past cloud her mind. Though Xena and Ares both would forever crave that fire.
The warrior nearly tripped over a stray vine that had entwined itself with a tree's roots, but she recovered quickly enough.
I need to stop letting him get to me like that,
But Xena knew love just didn't work that way.
She wondered if the pirate gang would soon chase her to the shoreline. This was an island, after all. And Gabrielle? She hadn't seen the plucky bard ever since their ship wrecked, and now the blonde had been picked up by the infamous ship of Cecrops. Gabby could fend for herself, but her little staff would only help her so much with a band of looters and cutthroats. Xena hoped her friend had managed to remain un-harmed, she was a smart little thing after all. But most those old pitates had spent their whole lives aboard that cursed ship, and it was likely they hadn't been the company of a young girl in some time...
Gabby couldn't be sold into slavery, at least, not since she couldn't techically leave the ship. Xena herself had once sold young women to masters across from Greece, and now she only though of it for the lowest of the low. The Princess's armor began to wear her down, she wasn't used to such a radiant heat. But she'd have to remain free if she was to rescue her friend, the best friend she had ever known. Xena only hoped that Gabrielle wasn't turning out to be just like her. But Gabby, well, she didn't have a warrior's spirit. She had the soul of a fighter, that was certain, but also a goodness Xena doubted she herself had ever possessed. Gabrielle was only 18, and by that age, young Xena had an army at her back, not to mention that she had also slaughtered maybe thousands. But she was young, and the only one their to guide her had lead her down a path of death. Xena would have to help Gabby find a way beyond bloodshed. And as soon as she had blood on her hands for the first time, the Gabrielle Xena had loved and known would be replaced by a hard warrior, who lived, breathed, and died for the fight. Xena then found herself out of the woods, into a clearing. And right on the edge of a cliff...
She ran towards the grassy edge, and below she saw the sea, and saw a ship on the azure waters, heading away from the island. Xena peered down at the deck, and she saw her bard friend waving her arms.
She was yelling something...
"Xena!" It sounded like.
"Gabrielle!" Xena shouted to let the blonde know she had sighted her, and would soon be coming to her aid.
The Warrior Princess had almost forgotten about the band of pirates at her heels, and before she knew it, one of the mangy bunch said to the others,
"She's trapped. Now we've got her!"
Another mocked Xena, saying
"She's got nowhere left to run..."
"Come and get me then, fellas!"
And with that final note, Xena flipped off the cliff, hurling herself through the air, and much to the awe of her enemies, she landed with a thud on the deck of Cecrops's ship.
Xena was immediately embraced by Gabrielle, who exclaimed,
"Xena! Oh, Xena!"
And after they broke their hug, a tall, dark man who Xena assumed to be the Captain exclaimed,
"Are you out of your mind?!"
Xena replied to the man,
"Depends on you ya ask."
Xena turned her attention back to Gabby.
"Are you all right?"
The bard did look a little pale, whereas usually she was beaming with energy.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Well, sea-sick. And cursed. Actually, I'm really sea-sick, Xena."
The Caption addressed the Warrior Princess once more.
"Excuse me, do you know who I am?"
"Your Cecrops. I wasn't gonna let you take off with my my best friend."
He looked a little agitated.
"Well that's just great. Looks like I'm stuck with both of you now."
"Yep. Looks like it."
Xena said with a smile.
Below deck, Xena and Gabrille finally had some time to talk amongst themselves. Members of the crew had flirted with the women for several hours before, it had been so long that they'd had any females aboard the ship. Gabrille was ranting on about how they were going to get out of this one, and though usually Xena valued the bard's opinions, Xena herself needed some time to think of a plan. She liked to be two steps ahead, but right now she was stumped.
Gabrielle must of noticed Xena's lack of interest, so she asked her warrior friend what their next move was.
"What are we going to do, Xena?"
Gabby fully believed Xena would get them out of this, she had never seen Xena anyway but collected and sure of herself. But, come to think of it, she had been acting strangely ever since Xena accidently had shifted back into her old habits, when they were fighting the horde. Just the fact that Xena had enjoyed planning to wipe out a whole group of people disturbed Gabby, and she had never seen her friend so much like her old self. Things had returned to normal since then, but their was still just something off about Xena.
Xena finally replied to Gabrielle, on a low and rather sad note,
"I don't know, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle looked almost stunned, Xena always knew what to do.
Xena looked up from the bunker she was sitting on, and decided that she didn't want to cause Gabrielle any worry. The bard had grown so much over the time they'd traveled together, and Xena wasn't about to let her down now.
She changed her answer, telling the bard,
"I'm going to talk to Cecrops."
Gabrielle didn't look fully convinced that Xena knew what she was doing, but she nodded slightly anyway.
More convincingly, Xena continued,
"Athena wouldn't have given him immortality if there wasn't an answer. And we have a long time to figure it out."
Gabby's eyes went wide, and as she looked as if she were about the puke again. Her face turning green, she commanded,
"Oh no we don't. Because I will not live through a lifetime of this."
Xena couldn't help but stifle a laugh.
"Sea-sickness bothering you again?"
Gabby didn't look amused.
Xena took Gabby's wrist in her hand, and with the other she jabbed it with two of her fingers. The bard let out a little yelp.
"What will that do?"
Gabrielle asked while she massaged her wrist.
"Every time you start to feel sick, jab your wrist like I did."
Gabrielle perked up on a quick note, exclaiming,
"Hey, I think it's working!"
One of the crew brought Gabby some food right after that, and Xena took that as her que to go and find out what she could from Cecrops.
Cecrops was on deck, staring out into the horizon. The sun was setting, and an orange glaze glimmered over the ocean. Xena joined him, and for a moment the pair were silent.
Cecrops sighed, then told Xena the story she needed.
Her name had been Terai. And after the Sea God Posiedon had taken her away from him, cursing him to never leave his ship, they had still seen each other from afar, until one day, she didn't come to see him... He knew he would never see her again.
Xena told him, placing a hand on his back.
Cecrops told her,
"I've never hated any one more than Poseidon. And if keeping me from the love of my life wasn't enough, he also created a giant whirlpool near her village, a reminder of my sorrows."
We need to go back to where it all began...
"We should go back to Terai's village."
Xena suggested to Cecrops, who had no interest in returning to all that pain he had suffered.
"Why? Terai is dead, the village gone."
Xena explained, urging him,
"Because the whirlpool is still there. Athena knew what she was doing, there must be a way out of this. You just have to have faith."
Cecrops grew angry in a quick flash.
"Faith!? Faith has killed more people than war!"
"Terai had faith in you."
He considered this. He was about to say something to Xena when,
An abrupt shout from one of the crew haulted their conversation, though Xena was sure she'd convinced him by that point. Xena turned around to see a large ship headed towards their own, it seemed to be the same men who had chased her earlier.
Why are they so interested in me? Surely no warlord had such a high price on my head that they would go to such lengths to capture me?
Xena looked concerningly at Cecrops.
"They're after your treasure."
She told him, and that did seem likely, perhaps Xena was never their goal after all.
He didn't seem the least bit worried, instead he growled,
"I love stupid pirates. Attack them!"
Xena felt the wooden planks beneath her feet shake, the air seemed thinner, something was wrong...
"No! Wait, somethings happening."
Xena told Cecrops, and just as she did, a loud rumble from beneath the sea erupted, and the sea God himself rose from beneath the waters. He looked as if he had been molded from water, except for his angry red eyes that glowed like fire. In one of his hands he held a giant, golden, trident, that seemed radiant with strength and power.
He had a deep, menacing voice as he thundered a yell. Xena did not fear him though; so she cut him off.
"Posiedon. You've done enough damage here already."
His large red eyes peered down at her.
"Xena! This is between Cecrops and me!"
Xena glared at him, and Gabrielle, who Xena hadn't before noticed had come on deck, yelled at the God,
"You made the rules, Posideon, we don't have a choice."
Posideon told the little blonde,
"You should have thought of that before you got on his ship!"
He looked back at Xena
"Warrior Princess, I will allow you safe passage back to land. But only because of my nephew's fondness for you."
Xena quickly told him,
"Not without Gabrielle."
The God was indifferent towards the matter.
"Fine, take her."
Xena pushed the him farther.
"No thanks. We like the smell of the ocean."
Xena wouldn't just leave them the crew behind.
Posiedon considered his options.
He murmured; then an idea struck him.
He addressed Cecrops.
"Cecrops. There is a way out of this for you, and your crew. I'll grant you your freedom."
Cecrops looked hesitant, but the expression on his face said he would do anything to escape this hell he had been condemned to.
He asked the God.
"Because now you have something that I want--The Warrior Princess. Throw her in the water and I will give you your freedom."
Xena had proven herself a friend, this was true, but Cecrops did barley know the woman. Xena, however, told Cecrops.
"Don't trust him, Cecrops. We can find a way out of this."
"You can't, Xena is risking her life to save you!"
He ignored the women.
"Why do you want Xena?"
He asked, Posideon had just recently offered her freedom.
"Let's just say, she's not for me."
He said, then chuckled lowly.
Cecrops looked sadly at Xena, as if he already regretted doing this to her.
"Xena, I've been on this ship 300 ye-"
She cut him off.
With that Posideon conjured a giant portal below the ship's plank, it swirled in red and blue.
"Xena, you can't!"
Xena hugged her friend. She tried to reassure her.
"Gabrielle, I have the chance to save all these people. I need you to trust me. We'll see each other again, I promise."
Xena let her crying friend go, and walked up to the plank on the ship.
Cecrops told Xena,
She nodded and then turned away from them all.
She walked across the wooden board, and then stopped at the edge. Xena glared at Posideon, but she jumped off into the abyss.
Ch.2 coming soon! Don't worry, Ares will be showing up shortly. :)