"So, a being from the future
" Discord, Goddess
of Retribution, cooed after Ares informed her of where he'd been.
"Hmmm, interesting. I'll have to go and see for myself."
Ares laughed at the very idea. "Little hint, Discord,
she's with Xena and Gabrielle, if you're even thinking-"
"Let me worry about what I'm thinking, and you worry
about your precious little armies, Ares
Besides, don't you
want Xena on our side? I may just have a way to achieve what you
never could." She turned around and shimmered away before
the God of War could reply.
* * *
"Xena! Gabrielle! What a wonderful surprise!" Cyrene
grasped the two women to her bosom and squeezed. "It's been
far too long
"Mother!" Xena clasped the woman tightly with one
arm, laughing as Cyrene tried to hug the very breath from her.
She worried that Gabrielle wouldn't fair so well and stood to
release her bard from further suffocation.
"We'd like you to meet a friend of ours." She gestured
to Dari, who was untangling herself from the horse. Failing, she
fell to the dirt road with a thud and a groan.
"First time on a horse," Xena explained with a glance
at her mother, then Gabrielle.
"I'd give anything to have an automobile right now,"
Dari growled as she got to her feet. She brushed herself off as
Gabrielle took her arm and led her to Cyrene.
Cyrene studied the younger, but much taller woman intently.
she mused and smiled at last. "It's a pleasure
to meet you."
"Likewise," Dari said, her tone a little gruffer
than she intended. Her sour mood wasn't getting any better since
earlier in the day when she'd first fallen off the horse.
"Why don't you fill her in and I'll get us settled?"
Gabrielle said to Xena, who nodded and gave Dari a pat on the
shoulder and a sweet smirk.
* * *
"So, meet any men from the future?" Cyrene asked,
a winning smile playing at her lips.
" Xena whined. "For the last time,
I don't need, nor want a man in my life. Why do you persist in
wanting one for me?"
"No buts, Mother. I've told you, Gabrielle and I . .
"I know, I know." Cyrene sighed. "She's all
the family you need on the road. Yes, you've told me. And I know
you certainly don't need the protection of a man."
Xena rolled her eyes. "You'll never get it, Mother."
"I get more than you think, my dear daughter." Her
eyes held a hidden thought that Xena missed as Cyrene turned her
back to her. "So what do you plan to do with this Dari if
you can't return her to her home?"
"I haven't thought of that yet. I'm still working on
the 'I will get her home' idea."
From outside they heard, "OW! Hey! Quit it!"
Xena mumbled an expletive under her breath and dashed from
the room onto the porch. Joxer
of course. The scrawny, stick
of a man stood, if you could call it standing, on the tips of
his scruffy brown leather boots. The helmet that covered his dirty
dark head to below his ears was twisted to the right side so that
only one of his brown eyes had any idea what lay before him.
Dari held Joxer by the collar of his bearskin coverlet; the
top of which now reached up to his pointed chin. If it weren't
for the overly ornate belt cinched around his tiny waist, she
would have found herself holding the piece of thick fur, minus
"Xena!" He beamed, and then scowled when Dari released
him and he fell at her feet. "We gotta talk about the company
"What is this?" Dari questioned, pointing down at
Joxer and gazing at Xena.
Xena smiled, she had to. "Joxer, I'd like you to meet
our friend, Dari."
Joxer smirked, "Pleased, I'm sure," and stood, backing
away from Dari as he did so.
"Bumbling fool," Dari retorted and headed back to
their room at the inn.
Gabrielle was standing in the doorway watching her return.
"You'll get used to him. He's harmless."
"He should keep his nose from other people's windows,"
she growled as she walked past Gabrielle and into the room.
"Some welcoming committee you have there." Joxer
was whining as he came up to stand beside Xena.
"Joxer, what are you doing here?" Seeing the little
warrior wannabe on an average day was irritating enough, but now
. . .
He leered at Xena. "Word is, there's a bounty on some
future chick in the area. I'm gonna find her and get that reward!"
Just great! This is all I need. Xena grabbed Joxer's shoulder
and drew him up, nose to nose. "You so much as lay a hand
on her and you'll be whistling through your-"
" Cyrene was behind them.
Xena released the tall, skinny man with a shove and a glare.
Then she had a thought. "Joxer, I have an important mission
" and she walked off with him, whispering.
* * *
"That was the best meal I've had since, well, since I've
been here!" Dari exclaimed fondly to Cyrene, who simply gushed
at the praise. Gabrielle gave Dari a dour look. What was wrong
with her fish? Xena, seeing Gabrielle's expression, rolled her
"Here, let me." Dari sat the woman back down when
she rose to clear the table. "You rest. You cooked that huge
meal, it's the least I can do. Gabby?" She grabbed the Bard's
hand and hauled her to her feet to help.
"Thanks for volunteering me." Gabrielle growled
as she sank her hands into a basin with a pile of dirty dishes.
Dari beamed at her back, carrying in more plates. "I swear,"
the bard griped, "you and Xena must be related." She
then told Dari the story of when she and her warrior helped the
young runaway Princess Alesia realize there was no place like
home and how Xena had made her Bard out to be the Fairy Godsmother
of Dirty Dishes!
Xena and Cyrene heard Dari's laughter from the other room
and smiled at one another. "She is rather fetching,"
Cyrene acknowledged. "And Gabrielle's sure taken quite the
interest in her
" She watched her daughter's face for
signs of jealousy, for answers to her questions.
Xena didn't give her the satisfaction. "Yep, she's a
keeper all right."
Collingsworth heard the telephone's receiver being slammed
down from his location in the kitchen. He merely raised a downy
covered eyebrow in response to his master's display. Mr. Ingles
had been occupied all day in gathering information regarding the
shiny bauble that held a place of honor atop the mantle in the
The manservant had gone into the room earlier that afternoon
for a usual sweep of the area, looking for the odd bit of trash
or glass that required washing. As Collingsworth had neared the
fireplace, he found himself quickly intercepted by a most excitable
employer shooing him away, like a child caught with his hand in
the cookie jar.
The familiar sound of stomping alerted Collingsworth to the fact
that the kitchen was about to be raided. Lutheran crashed through
the swinging door, causing its heavy weight to slam into the doorstop
attached the tiled wall.
"I want food." Lutheran announced dryly.
"Of course sir." Collingsworth was already on his
feet before the hinged oak began its first swing. "Will you
be supping in the study this evening?"
The crime lord nodded a sharp affirmative to the question,
causing his jowls to jiggle slightly from the force of the motion.
"I'm expecting calls tonight, so don't answer the phone;
I'll handle it."
"As you wish." Collingsworth busied himself preparing
Lutheran's supper, as his employer exited the kitchen in the same
manner in which he had arrived.
Shortly after Mr. Ingles had returned to his seat behind the
desk, Collingsworth brought in the tray carrying Lutheran's meal.
The phone rang just as he sat the tray off to the side and began
unloading the contents in a specific arrangement upon the desktop.
Stubby fingers grabbed the receiver and began to listen to the
voice carried through the line. Within the measure of a few seconds,
Lutheran slammed the device back upon the cradle. "Damned
incompetent fools! Can't tell shit from shinola!"
Collingsworth noticed the unflattering shade Mr. Ingles was turning
and decided to intervene. "Problem, sir?" The manservant
had taken note that on previous occasions his employer calmed
down considerably when he talked about whatever was bothering
him at the time.
"Yes! These so-called 'experts' aren't giving me the
answers I need!" He held his head in his hands, shaking it
back in forth with irritation.
"If I might inquire sir. You are referring to the stone,
are you not?" Collingsworth jotted his gaze in the direction
of the intense blue jewel.
"Yeah, that would be the object of my consternation at
this moment." Lutheran raised his head and looked longingly
at the gem. "I know it holds a secret. Don't ask me how I
know." He turned to look at his servant. "I just do.
Call it a gut instinct." A heavy sigh escaped through his
thin lips. "If I could just unlock whatever that beauty holds
. . ." He trailed off, not wishing to further torture himself
with "what if's" and "if only's."
Collingsworth gave his next statement serious thought before he
spoke. "Sir, I have a . . . friend, who is quite the aficionado
in rare and unique . . . items. Perhaps she could be of assistance."
"Sure. What the hell. It couldn't hurt. Give her a call."
"Right away, sir." Collingsworth left the study
and headed back to the kitchen. After putting away the serving
tray, he headed for the servant's quarters. No time like the present,
he thought with the slightest of smiles as he reached into the
drawer of the bedside table and mentally calculated the time difference
between where he sat and Western Greece.
"Xena?" Gabrielle whispered in the gloom of night.
Now that Dari was asleep she could talk to Xena freely.
"Have you thought any more about how to use the Scepter
of Helios, if we can managed to find it? It's an instrument of
the Gods, no telling what might happen if a mortal uses it. There's
no guarantee that a mortal can even use it. But, so far, it does
seem the only way."
"That's all I've been thinking about, Gabby." Xena
turned her head to look at Gabrielle over her shoulder. "Something
will come to me." She knew the Bard needed her assurance
that everything would be ok. "Now go back to sleep."
"If she can't get back, can she travel with us?"
"That's up to her to decide. Now go back to sleep."
Gabrielle sighed deeply and laid back. "I wish she'd
stay; she's nice to have around."
"She's not a pet, Gabrielle."
The bard smiled. "I know that, Xena. I only meant . .
"I know what you meant. Now, please, try to get some
Gabrielle growled but did as she was told, slipping happily
into dreams and letting her mind's adventures take her away.
Dari's dreams were dark and filled with pain. She tossed and
turned, pulled from one terrible scene to the next, each vision
more horrifying than the previous. In each, she saw death and
agony, Gabrielle and Xena's deaths, to be specific, and her agony
at having cost them their lives. When she awoke in a cold sweat,
she knew she couldn't remain with them; she couldn't handle the
thought that she would cause their deaths. Xena had not given
her any details about what the Shamaness Alti had put the warrior
and Gabrielle through, but Dari would not allow herself to be
made into an instrument of torture to be used against them.
Quietly, she gathered her things and slipped from the Inn.
The small town was silent. Not one candle was lit to offer her
sanctuary from the starless night. She was extra careful as she
moved through the town's unfamiliar territory.
"Boo!" came a shrill cry from the darkness. Dari
jolted and turned to run in the other direction. Without warning,
her feet were stopped by something immovable. Her strong forward
momentum caused the normally coordinated cop to fall flat on her
face. Arising unscathed, Dari groped the ground with her hands
until the tips of her fingers made contact with what had impeded
her escape. After a relatively short inspection, she found it
to be a fallen tree limb. Dari cursed loudly and tried to make
out where the voice had come from.
"Such language." The ebony haired figure 'tsked-tsked'
at the woman stretched out before her. "That's no way to
speak in front of a Higher Power."
"'Higher Power' is a matter of opinion." Dari countered.
"You don't look like you're from any future time,"
stated the Goddess of Retribution, with a snicker.
"Maybe you have the wrong person then."
Discord smiled and shook her head, appearing from the darkness
so Dari could finally see her. "No, I think I found exactly
what I was looking for." Just hearing her speak, Discord
knew this had to be the right mortal. She extended a hand, but
it was ignored. Dari decided she would either stand up on her
own or not at all.
tall aren't we."
"What do you want?"
Ares suddenly materialized beside his sister, blocking Discord's
path to Dari. "And just what are you doing roaming around
without your little bodyguards?" he asked Dari, moving closer,
circling like a wolf stalking his prey. The cop kept a close,
but weary eye on him.
"Going for a walk."
"Is that so?" He drawled. "I saw you fight
that band of thieves the other day. I was most impressed."
Discord flicked a disinterested fingernail. Let Ares have
his fun, she decided as she vanished in a glimmer. My time will
come soon enough.
"You'd be a great warrior, leading a great army
I can supply you with . . ."
"Don't hold your breath." Dari interrupted with
a raised palm. "I'm not interested, but thanks for the offer."
Ares sighed long and hard. "You haven't even heard my
proposal. At least give me the satisfaction of listening. I did
save your mortal life. You owe me." The God whispered softly
beside her left earlobe.
Repulsed, Dari turned her head to the right. The nearness
of this being turned her guts into knots, but she knew she was
stuck. There was no way around it. She did owe this man... god...
whatever he was
her life. "Frankly, your satisfaction
is nothing I'm concerned with, but go on." Having to say
the words sickened her.
"I knew you'd see reason," he beamed. "I thought
Xena and I would make an awe-inspiring team, but you, you far
surpass mere warlord status. You could rule with a word, never
have to lift a finger." Ares shifted his position so they
stood eye-to-eye . . . blue ice meeting black coal. "Men
would fall at your feet to obey you. As you've already so deftly
"Does the offer get interesting soon?" Dari intimated
boredom. "I really should be on my way."
Ares' hooded his expression as he studied her for a long moment.
"Maybe I can help you to see things my way?" He lifted
a hand and touched the side of her head with the pad of his middle
finger. Dari fell to the ground in a tangled heap. With a gleeful
laugh, the God of War disappeared taking his newly recruited disciple
Xena reached out in her sleep, felt the empty furs next to
her, and opened her eyes. "Gabrielle?" she called and
sat up. "Well this is just great," not only was Gabrielle
missing, but Dari was gone as well. Her mood darkened as she suited
up to go search of the two. As she was leaving, Gabrielle entered
their room and smacked into the warrior.
"Gabrielle! What's wrong?" She held the younger
woman by the upper arms and studied her face.
"Something's happened to Dari. She wasn't here when I
woke up, and I've looked everywhere. Oh Xena, something dreadful
happened to her, I can feel it."
"Just hold on, we'll find her, don't worry." She
released Gabrielle and went down the front steps. She quickly
spotted Dari's unusual boot tracks and started to follow them.
Gabrielle trailed close behind, a hand on Xena's lower back.
When they were deep into the forest, Xena stopped. "Look,
three sets of tracks over there," she pointed. "If I'm
not mistaken, those are Ares', and the smaller ones . . . I wonder."
Gabrielle was steaming. "If he so much as touches a lock
of her hair
Xena patted her friend's shoulder. "He knows better.
I'm really surprised he pulled this little stunt in the first
place. This doesn't put him any closer to my affections."
"Not that anything could, right?" Gabrielle was
frowning at her friend.
"Of course." Xena smiled uneasily, realizing how
her comment had sounded. "I just meant with him always trying
to get me back in the fold, doing something stupid like this wouldn't
do the trick, far from it, not that I would ever actually
she trailed off, knowing with every word she was getting in deeper.
"I understand," Gabrielle said, but Xena wondered
if she indeed did. She sighed and started off towards her mother's
inn. Gabrielle didn't follow behind as closely as she had on the
first trip to the forest. Xena's sadness grew, and by the time
she reached the inn, she was lagging around the lips.
"There you are!" Cyrene greeted the two with smiles.
In her hands was a pie, freshly baked. "A surprise for Dari."
She noticed the missing third party and asked, "Where is
Xena gave her mother a troubled look. "Ares has her,
"Oh, no. What are you going to do?"
"Get her back. If he wants her for what I think he does,
I know just where he has her."
"The Halls of War?" Gabrielle could read Xena's
mind quite well these days.
"Exactly, then to his temple, if he hasn't already taken
her there. We don't know how long she's been missing." She
turned to Gabrielle and put a hand on her side. "Stay here."
"No, Xena, now you know-mmff."
Xena had a hand over her mouth. Cyrene smiled and turned to
tend to her pie, keeping an ear on the two. "Just listen,
Gabrielle. I sent Joxer on a wild Cyclops chase to get the Scepter
of Helios. You need to wait here for him and make sure he stays
out of trouble and doesn't make things any worse. I know I can
rely on you."
"But Xena, you might need me. Cyrene can watch over Joxer."
Xena shook her raven-like tresses. "You know how he is.
If he finds out that we're off on an 'adventure', he'll find a
way to sneak away and follow us."
I want to come." Gabrielle's tone grew
more adamant. "Your mother can be very persuasive when she
puts her mind to it. It runs in the family."
Xena really didn't have time to argue with Gabrielle, so she
placed her hands on her companions squared shoulders and calmly
tried to reason with her. "Gabby, when Joxer gets something
into his head, you are the only person he'll listen to. Not me,
not my mother, not even Athena herself could convince him of the
wisest course of action. It has to be you."
Even with Xena's impassioned speech, Gabrielle's resolve held
firm. "There is every chance that Joxer won't be back before
we return. Besides, he comes through for us and you know that,
Xena. He may bungle up some things, but he comes through on the
really important ones. Anyway, I won't take no for an answer.
Now let's go."
She did have a point, and Xena knew to further argue with
her would only delay them and maybe harm Dari in the process.
"All right, but you're not going inside!" She was firm
on the last part.
Gabrielle smiled. "Don't worry, I won't take any unnecessary
risks, Xena." She caressed the taller woman's face, and Cyrene
saw it once more -- the true love, and caring the two women had
for one another; now if Xena would just get off her horse and
see it too.
Discord stepped into the room and slowly looked the newcomer
up and down. Her animal skins had been replaced by black leather,
and no shortage of it either, she mused. Of course, Ares had a
hand in her new outfit. The traveler was now a female replica
of him, except for the vest, which was zipped up to the collarbone.
'Prissy little thing isn't she,' the Goddess thought. Ares turned
and watched Discord descending the carved obsidian aisle. He beamed
his most fetching smile at her.
"Hmmm." Discord drawled. "Very nice. Another
you. Just what the world needs. I had other plans though, Dear
"Yeah, yeah." He brushed her off with a hand wave
to her face. "This is leader material, Discord. Don't even
try to interfere with my plans."
Dari watched the two, hiding her fear rather well, she thought.
If they continued to argue she would make her escape. She didn't
know where she was, nor where she'd go, but escape she must. She
had no plans on becoming the leader of any army, nor a ruthless
warlord, no matter what Ares wanted.
"Do you know how to wield a sword?" Ares, finished
with Discord, now turned back to Dari. She jerked to attention
and shook her head no. "I've only learned how to use a lance."
"Hmmmm, raw material. This should be interesting."
He shook his head, held up a hand, and suddenly a long, heavy
broadsword appeared. Dari found out precisely how heavy the weapon
was when he handed it to her and she nearly dropped it, not expecting
"I can't do this, sorry, but swords aren't
Ares fired an angry look at her. "You'll do it or your
precious friends will pay the price. Now hold it up, like a real
She glared back at him, wishing she had her service revolver,
and just one bullet. That would have been enough for her. She
lifted the sword and aimed it, chest high, in his direction.
"Good, now deflect my thrusts." He lunged at her,
and rather than using her sword, she kicked the sword from his
hands in a lightning fast move even the God of War didn't expect.
Dari's eyes moved back to him. "I don't need a sword."
"Well I can see that now, but all great warriors carry
"I'm not a great War-"
"Oh, but you will be." The War God interrupted.
"Under my hand and command, no one could stop you."
He drifted off in daydreams of a future with this mortal and the
power he'd yield over all who stood in his way. Even Xena and
that bastard half-brother, Hercules would bow to him.
* * *
"I bet he was eavesdropping on that fight we had with
those thugs and saw how well she defended herself." Gabrielle
was rattling on as they trekked over a large hill.
"I would too. And that's what I'm afraid of. Dari owes
him her life, and he'll use that against her, being the snake
that he is."
Gabrielle smiled at that accurate description of the God.
"So maybe he won't hurt her if he plans to use her."
Relief sounded in her tone. Xena glanced at her then far off in
the distance, where the tip of the Halls of War could be seen.
* * *
"Good, Good!" Ares praised Dari as he watched her
battling - and beating -- one of his most prominent warlords.
His eyes followed her progress as she back flipped her way across
the room when the larger man descended on her with flailing sword
swipes and lunges. "You could put Xena to shame."
His comment caused her to freeze. She did one jump kick that
knocked her opponent out cold. She threw down her sword and turned
to glare at Ares. "They saved my life, you didn't, not really.
If Xena hadn't asked for your assistance, you wouldn't have even
known I existed."
He laughed callously. "I would have known, my dear, you
see I'm a God, God of War, nothing gets past me, and if it does,
"Fine, do what you want with me, but I won't be part
of your sick plans any longer."
He disappeared and reappeared next to her, grabbing her shoulders
and dragging her up against his body. "You will, and if you
don't, I'll take great delight in killing Gabrielle and her precious
Xena, and then what will you do? And you know that mother of hers
that you find so charming, how would you feel to see her village
burnt to the ground, and her right along with it?"
Dari was visibly shaking. "You wouldn't do that."
Her voice quaked with the fear she felt in her soul.
"Oh, wouldn't I?" He lifted a finely shaped black
brow. "Try me," he bellowed shoving her away from him.
"Now, let's continue, time is a wasting." He snapped
his fingers and two men appeared, lunging at Dari.
* * *
"Ok, you stay here. If anything happens, get away!"
"Nothing will happen. I have faith in you, Xena, always
remember that." She caressed Xena's shoulder. Xena put a
hand over hers and smiled, then turned and was off, sneaking into
a hole at the back of the building.
Gabrielle waited a few more seconds, and then followed in
Xena's wake. Memories flashed in her mind, sacrificing herself
in order to save Xena. And the look in Xena's eyes when she tipped
over, into the pit, as the realization of what her traveling companion
and dearest friend was about to do all for the well being of one
(as Xena would say) lousy ex-warlord. Gabrielle shook her head,
clearing it. She needed to be focused if she were to be of any
* * *
Xena spied Dari down on the main floor, fighting expertly
against three heavily armed men. From the outfit she wore, Xena
knew she'd been right. Ares planned to make Dari into a monster,
as he had been trying, from the beginning, to do to her. With
a loud warrior cry, she leapt off the balcony and landed between
Dari and the three warlords. She grabbed the slightly taller woman
around the chest and dragged her away from them. Her eyes darted
to where Ares stood and saw Gabrielle coming up behind him. Xena
cursed under her breath.
"What did I tell you?" Xena yelled at her friend,
but it was too late, Ares had known she was behind him, and with
lightning speed he encircled her, holding her against his body
as a shield.
"Now, Xena, you have what's mine, and I have what belongs
to you. Don't be stupid; you know I could kill her in a blink
of an eye. Can you claim the same?" His look was smug. He
held all the cards and he knew it. "Let Dari free and you
can walk out of here with Gabrielle fully intact."
"Like I'm insane enough to believe you'll actually let
us go?" She laughed. "No, Ares, you don't win this time
either." She unhooked her Chakram and flung the circular
weapon at him. Gabrielle knew to take that as her cue to drop
to the floor. She then shoulder rolled over to where Xena and
Dari stood. "GO!" Xena yelled at the two and gave Dari
a healthy shove down the gleaming ebony-colored hall.
Dari grabbed Gabrielle's hand and fled. They reached the outside
in seconds, and Dari halted. "I have to go back, he'll kill
Gabrielle laughed. "You don't know Xena very well. Let's
just get you to safety." She reversed their positions and
this time she was the one who led Dari away from harm. They settled
a mile or so away from the Halls of War to await Xena. It wasn't
long before she made her appearance, unharmed.
Gabrielle hugged her friend, happiness glowing in her hazel
eyes, giving them a golden hue. "He'll try again." She
whispered in the warrior's ear, just out of Dari's hearing.
"Yeah, we have to be a lot more careful now." Xena eyed
Dari. "What in the name of Tartarus did you think you were
doing, running away?" She tried not to be angry, but the
woman had nearly gotten herself killed, or worse, worshiping Ares.
"I had a dream, or rather a vision, of you two dying because
of me. I couldn't let that happen, so I figured..."
Xena sighed. "Dari listen, Gabrielle and I have faced
a lot, even death itself, and we've made it through the experience
every time. We're survivors. You
" Xena tapped Dari
in between the collarbones to emphasize her point. "on the
other hand, are new here; you don't know what some of the Gods
are capable of doing. You just had a small taste of what Ares
is, but in truth, he's much worse. If any of the other Gods decided
you could be of use to them, we'll be too busy rescuing you to
find time enough to get you back home."
"She's right," Gabrielle agreed, squatting down
next to Dari. "We need to hide you, somewhere no one would
think to look." Her gaze fell on Xena to see if she had any
"Well, Amphipolis is out of the question now." Xena
took a few steps away from them, her mind racing. "We have
to get word back to mother where we are, so she won't send out
a rescue party to track us down."
"What about the Scepter?" Dari stood.
"Oh don't concern yourself, Dari." Xena placed a
reassuring hand on the cop's upper arm. "I'm not giving up
on finding it. We just have to take precautions, and keep you
out of sight."
"Cool, you had me worried for a minute." Dari could
only imagine the look of relief that flooded her features. She
casually glanced down and caught sight of Gabrielle's face. The
mere mention of Dari returning home always brought on the same
reaction from the bard, hope for Dari's sake and regret for her
own. She smiled brightly at the blonde haired angel in an attempt
to lift her lagging spirits. Gabrielle grinned back in a half-hearted
effort. That was when Dari decided it would be better to get back
to the topic at hand. "So why don't we just camp in a cave
or something, then I'm home free."
"I wish it were that simple." Xena studied her,
taking in the outfit again. "Ares won't give up, neither
will Alti. She's the one who gave you those visions, and she'll
haunt your every sleeping moment -- and most likely waking ones
too as soon as she's strong enough."
Gabrielle was stroking a finger along her chin, a clear indication
she was thinking hard. "We won't have any rest with them
both on our trail, Xena. We'll have to take shifts keeping watch
Xena nodded in agreement. She turned to Dari. "Who else
was there that night Ares took you?"
"A woman, Goddess more likely. Ares called her Discord."
Xena growled. "I should have known. Great, now we have
Ares, Alti, and Discord to watch out for."
Dari tried a smile. "Well, on the bright side, it couldn't
get any worse, right?" Xena and Gabrielle just stared at
her, blankly. Dari's smile dropped, she cleared her throat and
turned toward the setting sun. "So now what?"
"We pray Joxer can provide us with enough of a smokescreen
to get us where we need to be before anyone catches on."
Xena said with all the faith she could muster.