Page last updated: January 1, 2005

Chapter 1

Xena could see the edge of a town coming up from her vantage point atop Argo and looked down at the young woman, who was walking just a short ways ahead of her horse, swinging a staff, and planting it again, with each step of her left foot. Gabrielle had mentioned they were getting low on supplies, so she was probably going to ask to stop and shop in the upcoming village.

If they took the time to do that though, Xena knew she'd get cajoled into staying at the local inn for the night and she wasn't sure she was up for that right now. She'd started noticing Gabrielle's newfound maturity more and more lately. Especially after the Furies. Gabrielle had taken care of her and stood by her in a way Xena hadn't expected of the girl. And then their last little adventure had ended up having her spending day after repeating day with Gabrielle. That had given her a chance to just observe the young bard without having to think much about anything else because she already knew what was going to happen.

She'd come to the conclusion that Gabrielle had turned into a beautiful young woman at some point during their travels and now she wasn't quite sure how to deal with her. Sharing close quarters with Gabrielle at an inn right now just wasn't a good idea from her point of view.

She jumped down from Argo and threw the reins over the horse's head as they entered the town's outer limits. Gabrielle fell in step beside her.

"Hey, Xena? Maybe we could get some supplies here. And I need to pick up some more parchment and..."

"That's fine, Gabrielle. We can have lunch and then be on our way."

Xena noticed the expression on Gabrielle's face. She had definitely been hoping to sleep in a bed that night and now she was trying to figure out how to persuade Xena to rethink her decision about moving on so fast. Xena stood her ground and remained silent.

"All right. I'll, um, I'll go see what the local market's selling."

Gabrielle walked off, her head down in thought. Xena smiled to herself. Maybe she'd get out of here easier than she thought.

She headed to the inn and hitched Argo to the post out front. Hopefully, the promise of food would make Gabrielle hurry up her shopping.

The inn was dark, a few torches ensconced around the room doing little to brighten its interior. Xena walked up to the bar and ordered an ale. She laid a coin on the counter and received her drink. It was nice and cold and refreshed her parched throat. She glanced around at the other patrons, but no one seemed particularly interested in the newest customer, which was fine with her. She sat back and enjoyed her ale.


Gabrielle looked at several bolts of cloth, feeling the textures and imagining the kinds of clothes that could be made from the materials. She shook her head. She wasn't in the market for new clothing and Xena had seemed impatient.

She moved on to the next stall and found dried meats and cheeses and haggled with the owner over the price of buying enough rations to last them for the next few weeks. She finally agreed to his price, which was considerably lower than his original asking price, and tucked the parcel under her arm.

Next was the scribe supplier's booth and she quickly wrangled a good deal on several blank scrolls, a new bottle of ink, and two new quills. She really wanted to browse around and see what else might pique her interest, but her arms were already full and she knew Xena was waiting for her.

She was just starting back to find the inn when a young woman put a hand on her arm and stopped her.

"Priestess Daphne! What are you doing out here? And in those clothes?"

Gabrielle turned to see who had grabbed her arm and found a group of young women gathering around her.

"What? I'm sorry. You must have me confused with someone else."

Gabrielle tried to turn away.

"You can't be out in public like this. Come on. We have to get you back to the temple."

The young woman began pulling her along and the other women swarmed around her, encouraging her forward movement and commenting on her inappropriate attire. Gabrielle looked around to see if anyone was watching them who might come to her rescue. No one was paying them any attention.

"Look. My name is Gabrielle. I'm not a priestess." No one seemed to have heard her. "Um, listen, I don't know who you are, but I need to get back to my friend. She's waiting for me."

"You should be at the temple, not gallivanting around in the marketplace. What were you thinking?" The girl looked at her with a frown and then turned back to watch where she was going. The others nodded and offered their agreement.

Gabrielle rolled her eyes and sighed.

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