by Joseph Anderson

Kimberly, Jilly and Weldon belong to me, however, are derived from Xena: Warrior Princess. Joxer belongs to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringment is intended with this fanfiction.

There is some violence, both real and psychological, in this story. It would fall between Junior High and Dropout in my Kimberly/Jilly chronology.

We all were excited. The Sword of Ares had destroyed a confederation of bandits who had preyed on travelers and caravans on an important road. Their own success had doomed them. By turning almost into an army they became worth Kimberly's time. No other town or village was near so we knew the only good warlord would be coming to us for supplies and to accept our thanks. The elders called us fools and told us we should flee; that the Sword of Ares was nothing but a bandit herself and the stories about her helping people were just that--stories. She was a bandit who robbed other bandits. No one ever accused her of trying to return what she gained to its original owners. About half the village took their advice. My friends and I though, all of us between 14 and 17 summers, did not want to hear that. We at least wanted to see her.

So we thought the villagers who fled were cowards and my three friends and I waited. And sure enough the next day the warlord arrived. Her army camped outside our village dwarfing it, and soon a contingent of five rode into town led by a slender blonde girl, no older than me but in black fighting leathers.

The village elder who had elected to stay, drew the short straw we later learned, went to meet them in the street and bowed low. The girl laughed at him. My friends and I looked at one another not understanding.

"Weldon," she said loudly to a huge redhaired man, "What does Kimberly expect we can find in a rathole like this?"

The big man, who had two long red braids and a long mustache, merely glanced around and said, "It's not so bad. Arrange for the supplies, Jilly." He had a thick accent none of us recognized.

My friends and I looked fearfully at what followed. The young girl twisted around on her huge black horse to stare at the man, and even from where we were she looked mad as a loon.

"Kimberly put me in charge, Weldon! Don't tell me what to do!"

We could see the village elder sweating, momentarily forgotten apparently. The redhaired man walked his tall grey gelding over to the girl and said something quietly we couldn't hear. The blonde seemed to be quivering and was fingering her sword but then just spurred her stallion and went galloping out of the village. Then the big man told the relieved elder what supplies were required. He offered to pay but of course that was a formality. They'd cleaned out the bandits for us and their dinars were no good, the elder told him. It was all a sham, of course, both acting their part. I later heard of a village the Sword of Ares helped that didn't understand gratitude. It was sacked. The story was that one of her lieutenants had ordered it, not Kimberly herself; but that was a mistake no village ever again made.

But back to my story, we were disappointed that we had not seen the great warlord herself, although that blonde girl and the big foreigner nearly coming to blows had been exciting. Well, being foolish lads we began drinking and talking and drinking some more and we had an idea. We would sneak into their camp and actually get a glimpse of the Sword of Ares. So being fortified by too much wine and our own ignorance we headed out there.

We thought we were being quiet but before we knew it a guard was holding a sword on us, joined a moment later by another. It no longer seemed so adventurous. We stuttered an explanation out, realizing now how foolish we had been. The guards shrugged at each other and sheathed their swords and seemed about to say something when an angry voice rang out.

"Who are they?" It was the blonde girl. She seemed to just materialize out of the darkness.

The first guard who caught us said, "Just some local boys, Jilly. Nothing to be concerned about. We'll send 'em on their way."

The girl's brown eyes got wide and she hissed, "I'm in charge of the perimeter--not you--ME! Understand!?"

The guard nervously said placatingly, "Sure, Jilly. Kimberly put you in charge of the perimeter."

The girl approached my friends and me. Galen began weeping, and the girl heard and went to him. She was at least a hand shorter and 30 pounds lighter than Galen. With a smile she drew her dagger.

"Jilly..." the guard again said.


We could see her spitting saliva as she yelled, and her body seemed to be weaving or something.

The guard answered, "Sure Jilly," abandoning us to our fate.

"Light a torch, Macon," Jilly ordered now, and in a moment instead of the dim moonlight we all were illuminated in flickering yellow firelight. The girl's eyes showed white all around the brown and she had a smile that seemed too wide for her face. The two guards now that we could see 'em just looked like ordinary men but for their weapons. Even I could see that the girl's armor and weapons were much finer than the guards. I smelled something and realized Galen had fouled himself in fear. I heard girlish laughter.

"On your knees, all of you," she ordered. We weakly obeyed. She paced before us, the dagger still in her hand and catching the torchlight. "This is the perimeter. It's the first line of defence. You scum were trying to breach our defences. But I'm in charge of the perimeter." Her voice got louder and sounded enraged. "This isn't Cirra! I won't let the perimeter be breached!"

The girl went once more to my friend who had fouled himself, Galen. There was something off about how she looked, a kind of blankness in her beautiful eyes as she looked at his pathetic figure. She loudly sniffed and said, "You've been a bad girl....a bad, bad girl...what should I do with you?"

I watched as she held the knife to Galen's throat and whispered in his ear. When she stepped back he fell forward, unable to even remain on his knees as his crying became hysterical. Jilly laughed and spat on him. She passed over my two other friends and came to me. She said harshly, "What did you come here for?"

I was too frightened to respond and she kicked me in the belly with her brass toed boot. I keeled over. "We only wanted to see the Sword of Ares," I choked out when I could finally speak. I was trying not to weep in fear.

"Ah," the girl said, "assassins." She yanked me back up so I was on my knees again. The girl was much stronger than she looked. She took the dagger and laid the cool flat blade against my cheek and smiled as I tried not to shudder. A look of pure hatred came into her face. "I lost Callisto. I'm not gonna lose Kimberly."

She took the blade and I could feel she was cutting my shirt. I thought I could hear her murmuring "bad girl...bad girl...bad girl..." I heard a tearing sound and she tossed the shirt aside. She looked in my eyes and lazily drew the point of the blade lightly across my chest and down to the top of my trousers. There was some spittle at the side of her twitching mouth. She prepared to cut my pants off too. I closed my eyes and prayed to Zeus.

"That's enough, Jilly." It was a calm low female voice. The hand withdrew from my trousers. I opened my eyes and the first thing I saw was the firelight playing off that famous helmet. The chainmail veil seemed to have a myriad of shifting colors. Even in my current state I knew it was beautiful. She came next to me and I suddenly felt safe. She took her cloak off and put it around my bare shoulders.

"Kimberly, they tried to breach our perimeter!" Jilly said plaintively.

The warlord just glanced at her as she went to each of my friends in turn and said a few words. She spent the longest with Galen. I could make out her saying "It's all right. Same thing happened to me once." She took her helmet off so she could look in his stricken ashamed eyes. Then she stood and put the helmet back on. She said to someone in back of me, "Get him cleaned up and give him some new clothes, Joxer. I don't want his village or family seeing him like that."

"Right, Kimberly," and I saw the man she was speaking to help Galen up and lead him away. The guards helped the rest of us to our feet. We were all weak kneed.

The Sword of Ares came back over to me. She picked up my shirt which Jilly had cut off of me. "Those don't look bad," she said to me. I looked down and saw I was bleeding on my chest. I hadn't even felt the cuts in my fear.

"Jilly, come over here," Kimberly said. The girl didn't move. The warlord looked at her and repeated, "Come over here, Jilly." The young blonde warrior obeyed. Her face was pale. "Why were you doing this?"

"I was going to make an example. We can't let our perimeter be breached."

That enigmatic veil swung to study my tattered shirt and bleeding chest again. "Your father did that to you."

Jilly was suddenly gone. The Sword of Ares said to the guards. "Make sure these boys get home all right. I've gotta talk to Jilly." Then she too disappeared into the night.