by Joseph Anderson

Xena, Gabrielle and all elements from the TV show Xena: Warrior Princess belong to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. All other characters belong to the author. No copyright infringement is intended with this fan fiction, which may not be sold, may be copied for personal use only, and must contain all notices of copright.

This is a sequel to The Game at Cyrene. It doesn't require reading that though. This story is not as violent as The Game at Cyrene. There is some rough language.

Gabrielle was in her element, haggling with people, looking for a possible place to set up and tell stories. They had arrived in Carthage after the ship they had been on was blown off course. Gabrielle was enjoying herself in the famous port market, but Xena was just trying to find the first ship back to the Greek mainland, her eyes careful as always.

"Xena, we are not leaving until at least tomorrow. I'm going to sleep on dry land, in a bed. Okay?" Gabrielle tried to say as forcefully as she could.

Her friend was uneasy about something but said, "Sure, Gabrielle. I guess there's nothing until tomorrow at the earliest anyway."

Gabrielle accepted this less-than-enthusiastic endorsement of her plan. "Let's find an inn," the bard said.

That night in the small room they had found, Xena hadn't even unpacked to the minimal extent she usually did. A soft knock came on the door. Gabrielle was surprised but Xena didn't seem to be.

"Are you expecting someone?" the younger woman asked.

"Yeah," Xena answered. She seemed nervous, which was very, very rare. Gabrielle curiously answered the knock and at the door was a swathed-in-silk, soft, very fat, older man with a deep walnut complexion.

He said, "I have a message for Xena."

"I'm Xena," the warrior answered. The vastly corpulent, richly dressed man came in the room which he seemed to fill, and got on his knees. Xena said, "Don't do that," but he stayed on his knees and began speaking in a polished voice.

"My master sends greetings to his Benefactor, the Most High and Celestial Xena, Warrior Princess of Corinth, Destroyer of Nations, Companion to Hercules Son of Zeus, Light of the World, and Mistress of the Seas."

At first Gabrielle was taken aback by this apparition then she found herself appreciating his delivery. A little old school but really classy. Xena answered, "I thank your master. Rise now. What is your name?"

"Amazi," he answered as he struggled to his feet. Gabrielle helped him, her hands sinking deep in his soft robes and soft flesh.

"My master, Dolon, wishes to offer you his hospitality for as long as you remain in Carthage. All my master has including his life is yours. He requests very humbly that you and your companion accompany me so that you may have proper lodgings. He would be shamed to let you remain here."

Gabrielle was sure Xena would refuse but to her surprise her friend said, "Amazi, we will accompany you. I would not shame my old friend or you, his fine servant, by refusing." Amazi smiled, his eyes disappearing in folds of fat when he did so. Gabrielle had no idea Xena could talk like that. Xena had mentioned a slave whom she later freed named Dolon.

Outside the inn were three litters with several men to carry them. Xena said, "I'm going to walk." Amazi looked stricken and said,"I shall too as I cannot ride if you walk." He was already gasping from simply walking out of the inn and they had had to wait for him. "Great," Xena mumbled, and climbed in one of the litters. Amazi smiled and he and Gabrielle both climbed into litters.

They were carried through a labyrinth of small winding streets, with Gabrielle fascinated and Xena watchful. The litter bearers stopped in front of a large house in a street that looked exactly like all the others as far as Gabrielle could tell. As they climbed out of the litters the ornately carved door to the house opened, and a slender man with olive skin, slightly shorter than Xena, stepped out. He seemed of indeterminate age to Gabrielle. His eyes were outlined in black as she had seen on vases and wall paintings. She felt something she never had in her friend as she watched Xena and the man approach each other.

"Lady Xena," a soft high voice said.

"Dolon," Xena answered. The warrior extended a hand to put on his shoulder but Dolon took it and kissed it. He raised a hand to her face and, to Gabrielle's amazement, Xena let him softly stroke her cheek.

"Hi, my name's Gabrielle. You're Dolon, I take it. Good to meet you," the bard said quickly, walking up. She extended a hand and Dolon turned to her with a soft smile. He took her hand with a firm grip, Gabrielle noticed with some surprise.

"Please, come in," he said warmly.


In the rich room he had provided her, Xena stood in a shift she had found laid out on the bed. Dolon stood in front of her. In her time with Gabrielle she had managed to drive a wedge between her old days as a warlord and her new life trying to help people. But Dolon was a reminder of the fact that the division between her old and new selves was not as clear as she liked to feel. The Egyptian eunuch was a living bridge between her two incarnations. His natural nobility in the face of cruelty and exploitation, including hers, had been working on Xena long before she was reformed by Hercules. In fact, she had freed him years before she met the demigod. Dolon had seen her at her absolute worst but seemed to see something else in her. She thought of him as property to be used and sold but inexplicably found herself protecting him. Ultimately she freed him and bought him a perfume shop here in Carthage, which apparently had thrived and branched out into other areas given Amazi's presence. At the time Xena was mystified by her own actions though now they were like beacons of light in her dark past. Without Dolon's presence though she had seemed to lose whatever he had awakened in her until she met Hercules.

As she looked at Dolon Xena felt shame that she once thought she owned him. He had been her personal servant and she had used him for everything. There had been nothing she would not do in front of Dolon, and now her face reddened at the thought. She had won him gambling when he was about 15. Xena had been in her early 20s, though everyone thought of her as older.

"Your skin is dry, Lady Xena," Dolon said. "I would be pleased to bathe and oil you, if you wish." Xena very much wished. She missed the sensuality she had reveled in in those days, and she missed Dolon catering to her every wish before she even knew it. She thought she should say no though. Being coddled by Dolon was the other side of the coin of being a warlord. She was afraid to loosen the tight rein she kept on herself now. In those days it was like she bathed in blood then Dolon washed it off. After some battles that wasn't even an exaggeration. Xena meant to say no, but then when he clapped his hands and servants began bringing hot water in to pour in the marble tub, she just couldn't. When the servants were gone and the room was slightly steamy, Dolon undid the tie of the shift in front, and lowered the white silk garment so that Xena could step out of it. She thought, I wouldn't have worn that if this wasn't what I wanted. Dolon knows me better than I know myself. Being naked with Dolon clothed in itself soothed Xena--she couldn't explain it. The eunuch's hands had an almost hypnotic effect on her as he led her to the tub and helped her step in the hot water.

At that moment the door opened and Gabrielle walked in saying, "Xena...oops!" Xena instinctively submerged herself.

Gabrielle said, "Excuse me!" and tried to leave but Dolon was instantly by her side, saying, "Don't go, please. I am merely giving Lady Xena a bath. I can see how close you are. Please stay and keep her company."

Gabrielle found the eunuch's soft high voice almost mesmerizing and his hand, which was touching her arm slightly, seemed inviting like a warm bed on a cold morning. Gabrielle was a professional at manipulating people with her stories and she appreciated another when she saw one. Even knowing that, she found herself letting Dolon lead her over to the marble tub.

Xena had resurfaced her head in the tub and had watched their interaction. She had a slight smile. "You don't stand a chance with Dolon, Gabrielle," Xena said.

The Egyptian softly said, "Mistress Xena is too kind. Lady Gabrielle, please be at ease. Remember, I am not a man." That last statement jarred Gabrielle but she continued to relax as he spoke to her. "Would Lady Gabrielle care to join Lady Xena in the bath?" Dolon asked.

Gabriele said, "What? No! Of course not! I mean, I couldn't."

Xena was watching with amusement as Dolon moved in for the kill.

"Oh, you have never bathed with Lady Xena?"

"Well, yes, we have. But we were alone or with just women around."

Dolon's eyes looked pained. "As the Lady Gabrielle wishes. I am not a man, though. That was taken from me so I could serve women. If I do not do that what use can I be? I am sorry I have offended the beautiful Lady Gabrielle." His eyes seemed to be red.

Gabrielle said, "Oh, Dolon, no! It's not that." Dolon's hand touched her and she again had that soft warm bed feeling. She could see a tear beginning to run down his cheek. "Oh, why not? You're right. I need to loosen up, right, Xena?"

"Absolutely, Gabrielle. Just let Dolon undress you. You might as well get the full treatment."

Later, as she was lying next to Xena on the floor and both were covered with oil, Gabrielle didn't know it was possible to feel so good. Dolon had left them. In a few minutes two dark young women came in and quickly washed the oil off Xena and Gabriele and dried them with luxuriant towels. Gabrielle was almost in a haze; she could see how you could get used to this kind of thing.


Xena was ready to go and just waiting for Gabrielle to say goodby to Amazi. She and the old man seemed to be able to spend hours talking about intricate metrical structures or obscure bards and their influences. Xena had tried to listen at first and found it almost put her to sleep. Now she heard something more her style--some muffled struggling sounds and curses. She quickly went to the window and looked down at the street. She saw the eunuch and a much larger man roughly holding his arm. The two dark girls who had helped bathe them the previous day were struggling and being led away by three more men.

The man holding Dolon slapped him with a laugh; he reached back for another blow and suddenly screamed in pain as his shoulder was dislocated. This is more like it, Xena thought. She smiled as she kicked one of the men holding a girl in the face and punched another. She saw the third suddenly go down and Gabrielle's staff sweep up from his feet and then whirl to break his nose and smash into his stomach in two quick blows. All three scrambled away. Xena returned her attention to the man who had slapped Dolon. He was on his knees moaning from the pain of his shoulder. She grabbed his arm and following a quick popping sound he gasped in relief. The two girls were standing next to Dolon now and he had his arms around them protectively.

"What's going on here, Dolon?" Xena asked.

"They say I owe them money and they are taking Lahti and Jeritza," he said. He was ashamed that his guests were witnessing this.

The man on the ground got up and said, "You don't know what you're getting into here. This thing," he jerked a thumb at Dolon, "is behind on his payments."

"For protection, right?" Xena sneered. This was an awkward situation. She was in a large foreign city; she couldn't just handle this as she would bandits in Greece. She still might but she would have to be more discrete than usual. There was nothing she would rather do in the world than help Dolon. This Carthage detour was turning out all right.

"Who do you work for?" Xena asked.

"Nobody," the man said angrily, rubbing his shoulder and glaring at Xena. His confidence was coming back.

"A piece of garbage like you doesn't run an operation. Let me ask you again." Xena's hands flashed and the man was crying out as his shoulder was popped out of its socket a second time. "Who do you work for?"

"Galada, Ahmet Galada!" the man said through gritted teeth.

"Well, you tell this donkey dung, Ahmet Galada, that Dolon's good friend, Xena of Corinth, is going to pay him a visit later. Can you do that?"

His eyes wide, he nodded. He said, "What about my shoulder?" Tears were running down his face in pain.

"Bet that hurts," Xena said. "There's probably one or two people in Carthage who can fix it for you. If I were you I'd start looking as soon as you deliver my message." She gave him a shove and he cried out again and stumbled away. Gabrielle was looking at her.

"What?" Xena said.

"You enjoyed that a little more than you might've, I think." Xena shrugged and turned to Dolon.

He said, "I am so ashamed that you have seen this, Lady Xena. Please do not concern yourself any further. You have helped me again and I am even more in your debt." He was staring at the ground, ashamed to look at her.

Xena said, "Dolon, I'm the one who is in your debt. If I hadn't met you I don't know where I would be now." He looked up at her. She continued, "Anyway, I said that I would come see him so my own reputation is involved now." She noticed the look on his face. "Don't worry, I won't raise Carthage and salt the earth. Who would you have for customers?" Gabrielle thought she was exaggerating but Dolon didn't seem to think so, and he looked relieved.


Xena and Gabrielle were making their way through the dark streets. The bard had refused to be left behind and Xena had complied since Gabrielle had handled herself in situations far worse than this was likely to be. These were just common thugs; they'd be beneath Xena's notice if Dolon weren't involved. Since he was involved, she was glad to have Gabrielle along as a possible break on her anger. The warrior was very protective of the Egyptian and her first instinct was to simply kill anyone who threatened him. Scaring them half to death might be better, though, because they would spread the word to leave Dolon alone. She'd play it by ear. If they didn't scare she could always kill'em all. That was why she'd waited till dark--easier to dispose of bodies.

The bard trudged along beside Xena, carrying her staff. Her friend seemed to know where she was going though it was a mystery to Gabrielle how she could tell these little streets apart, especially in the dark. She knew Xena didn't need her at all for this. The bard came along because she had seen how much relish Xena had shown in the street, and she thought she should try to keep her from killing anybody if possible. She liked Dolon quite a bit herself now, though. She could see how smoothly he had played her the day before; you had to appreciate artistry like that. Gabrielle hoped these goons were smart enough to be scared. She wondered why Xena had waited until dark.

The garishly dressed man glared at his men, especially the one holding his shoulder. "You fools. It can't be Xena. You let some bitch bluff you. She won't be stupid enough to come here."

"What about my arm?" the one man said. He'd finally found someone who could fix it for him.

"I'm not saying she's not tough. But how tough can she be? This just shows what a weakling you are. You're going back there tomorrow to kill her, take those girls, AND cut off Dolon's nose to teach him a lesson."

A voice sounded loudly, "Oh, you shouldn't have said that last part. I mean you REALLY shouldn't have said that." The man holding his shoulder cursed and backed up but Ahmet Galada just looked angry.

"You're the bitch claiming to be Xena. What do you want?"

Gabrielle kept her eye on the men and her staff was ready, but she also shot glances at Xena's face. That guy shouldn't have said that about Dolon's nose. There were nine men. Common street trash and an over dressed buffoon. All they needed to do was scare them, but that guy REALLY shouldn't have said that.

"I don't claim to be Xena. I am Xena. And Dolon is my friend, Galada. Now, first I'm going to beat you all to a pulp. Then I'm going to ask you what you plan on doing about my friend. Ready? Are you ready to have your teeth knocked out? Are you?"

Gabrielle was listening as her friend's voice got scarier and scarier. She hadn't seen her this mad since Callisto; but these guys were like something Callisto would scrape off the bottom of her boots.

"Xena," she whispered. "Calm down. They aren't worth it."

Xena took a deep breath, "Yeah, you're right."

Ahmet Galada laughed. "I knew it was all bluff! I'm gonna put both of you sluts in one of my houses."

Gabrielle groaned inwardly as she saw Xena raise an eyebrow and just start walking toward Ahmet Galada.


"Gabrielle, how long are you going to keep this up?" Xena said to her friend. The bard didn't answer and went outside to speak to Amazi who was waiting at the litters. When she returned she looked at Xena and just shook her head.

"Now cut that out! Are you going to tell me they didn't deserve it or they'll be missed?"

The little strawberry blonde finally spoke. "That isn't the point, Xena, and you know it." Her voice was frigid with disapproval. "You could've scared them and they would've backed off on Dolon. I can't believe I helped you. I actually tied bags of rocks on them! Gods!"

Xena said with exasperation. "Look, Gabrielle. Maybe I didn't have to do that for Dolon, but they had other victims too. How about that, huh? huh? Besides they were trying to kill me. Can't I defend myself?"

"Sure, Xena," Gabrielle said coldly, "whatever you say."

"One of 'em is still alive," Xena said defensively.

"Only because you want him to spread the word about Dolon," the bard said.

"Smug little..." Xena said to herself.

"What was that?" Gabrielle said loudly.

"Nothing," Xena said and went to say goodby to Dolon, hoping the bard would drop it.

He was waiting for her in foyer. The litters were waiting to take them to the ship they had booked passage on back to the Greek mainland.

"Lady Xena, please take this as a remembrance of me."

The warrior princess looked at the beautiful but simple necklace he held out. She knew it cost a fortune. She also knew she couldn't refuse it without shaming him. "Thank you, Dolon. Will you help me put it on?"

He gave her his soft smile and undid the clasp. Xena turned around and he put it around her neck. "Lady Xena, will you do something for me?" he said as he arranged her hair.

"Certainly, Dolon. What?"

"Take better care of your hair. I have prepared a package with various mixtures and instructions. The lady Gabrielle would be more than happy to help you, I imagine."

Xena smiled wryly. "Sure, Dolon. I know I've let myself go without you to look after me. Thank you." She glanced over as Gabrielle and Amazi approached.

"Goodby Amazi!" the bard said and hugged the old man. Xena and Dolon were amused as Gabrielle had obviously gotten more than she bargained for. When Amazi returned her embrace she literally disappeared except for one foot which Xena saw was twitching in a panicked way. Dolon walked over and touched Amazi's shoulder and he seemed to spit the little bard out with a sheepish smile. She seemed disoriented as she patted his huge dark hand and scurried over by Xena.

"I'm going to walk," Xena announced. Amazi looked stricken again, his huge bulk vibrating.

"Then I will accompany you and I will walk too."

"Great," Xena muttered as she and Gabrielle climbed in the litters. She looked back as they were carried off and saw Dolon and Amazi laughing.

The End