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Fire and Water

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Fire and water
Xena kept her head down as she walked into the tavern. She could feel people's glares as she made her way to the counter. It was the same everywhere she went. People saw her for who she used to be. Who would blame them? She had done a lot of awful things. Now she had moved on trying to undo all the wrong she had done. It didn't seem to matter though. People still saw her as the tyrant she used to be.

"Well if it isn't the fearsome firebender Xena. The destroyer of nations." One man in the tavern boldly announced. Xena ignored him like she had the others she had come across. "A mug of ale." she requested to the bartender. She took a swig of her drink once it was handed to her. Her neck tingled as she could sense the men gathering around her threateningly. Xena wasn't scared of them. She could easily take them. She just wanted to be left alone. The men crowed around her spewing insults at her. She just continued to ignore them.

They were getting too close for comfort. "Back off!" She growled. Her threat silenced the men. One however, either had too much to drink or was naturally foolish, pulled out a knife. "What are you gonna do Warrior Princess? Kill me just like all those innocent people you murdered." Xena spun and kicked the knife out of his hand. She jumped up and grabbed him by the collar of his shirt. Her anger fueled her as she pulled one arm back ready to punch. Fire ignited from the fist causing the man to cower. Xena held the fist back contemplating whether to strike. Her anger diffused. The man was a jerk but didn't deserve to be harmed. She was the one who deserved punishment. Xena relaxed her grip on the man and put away her fire. The tavern was silent. She grabbed her mug, chugged down the remaining ale, wiped her chin, and stomped out the door.

She walked her horse, Argo along the trail. Her emotions were tormenting her. Anger raged through her, mixed with guilt and despair. She stopped on the path. She was close to the river. That meant there were water tribe villages nearby. She looked behind her then ahead.  Why should she go on? Why did it matter? She was headed no where. "Go on Argo. Go graze somewhere." Xena commanded the horse. Argo hesitated but eventually turned and disappeared into the trees. Xena headed towards the river. It was still a mile away. Her heart felt heavy with self hatred. She pushed through the trees feeling lost.

The river was now in sight. Xena sunk to her knees and watched the river flow. She stripped off her armor, the thing that marked her as the warrior princess, and buried it under a pile of leaves. Just then she heard voices. She hurried and hid behind some bushes. She peeked out to see a few burly looking men herding a group of girls together. One girl tried to run but was caught by her hair and pulled back into the group. "Please let us go." the girls pleaded. The men just laughed nastily.

Xena watched as a girl with long reddish blonde hair stepped up to the men. "Take me and let the rest go." Xena was amazed at the girl's courage. One of the men back handed the blonde and she stumbled back. This angered Xena. "Gabrielle!" another girl shouted as she moved to catch the blonde. The girl named Gabrielle glared at her captors then moved her arms in an odd fashion. Water from the river rose up and flew towards the men. It splashed them leaving them soaking wet. "She's a waterbender." Xena thought to herself. The only effect Gabrielle's waterbending had was angering the men more. The one who had struck her before now drew his sword.

Xena wasn't sure why but she now found herself stepping out of the bushes. "Hey why don't you scoundrels pick on someone else." The men turned and laughed to see one women standing there. Xena let out her war cry and did a spinning kick in the air, showing off her firebending. The men rushed at her. She quickly learned that one was a waterbender and one was an earthbender. The other two appeared to be non benders. Xena dodged the bands of water being hurled at her. The ground shook below her feet and she jumped to avoid getting caught by the earthbending. She shot fire towards the earthbender. A wall of earth came up protecting the man. She punched and kicked the waterbender unconscious then sent a fireball to shatter the earth wall, knocking the earthbender back. Xena fought the non benders hand to hand. She looked over at the earthbender, expecting him to have recovered by now. He had but he was advancing towards the girl named Gabrielle. Xena noticed he was dripping wet again. "Unbelievable that girl." Xena grumbled under her breath. She launched a fire ball. It hit the man square in the back, knocking him down. Xena snarled and the men scurried away.

The group voiced their thanks as Xena escorted them back to their village. Gabrielle pushed her way through the crowd to walk next to Xena. "That was amazing. How you firebended against those guys, it was really something. When you hit that earthbending barrier with a fireball? How did you learn to fight that well? You took on four men at once and two were benders." "You weren't bad your self. That was quite brave to stand up to them and fight back." Xena replied to get the blonde to stop talking.

It didn't work. Gabrielle had more to say. "Thank you but I didn't help at all. You did everything. I am a waterbender but I don't know how to waterbend very well. I have know one to teach me. I am the only waterbender in my village." Xena was suprised to hear this. "How can you be the only waterbender? This area is waterbending territory. There should be villages full of waterbenders here. Why don't you check the next village over to see if there is anyone to teach you?" Gabrielle shook her head. "There are no other waterbenders around here since Draco wiped them all out. Father forbids me from using my bending because Draco might come and take me away. Today I thought that that would come true. Those men were Draco's."

Xena's mind reeled. She knew Draco. He had been her ally back when she was a warlord. She didn't realize that he had been wiping out benders. He himself was a nonbender but was well skilled in combat. She would have to have a word with him.

The village was grateful to have the girls back safe. "Xena saved us." Gabrielle informed them. "Xena, the Warrior Princess?" One older man asked. "That's right." Xena confirmed unenthusiastically. Gabrielle led Xena to her home to rest. She gave Xena something to eat and drink. Soon a crowd came in including Gabrielle's parents. "We appreciate what you did but you are not welcome here. We know who you are and what you have done." Gabrielle's father said. Xena wasn't surprised by their hostility. "I will be on my way out then." She said.

The crowd left but Gabrielle stayed. She came to sit across from Xena. "Where are you heading?" Xena looked curiously at the young blonde girl for a moment before answering. "Amphipolis." "You have to take me with you, teach me everything you know." "Sorry I travel alone." Xena said as she picked up her sword in its scabbard. She had dug up her armor and weapons and called Argo back after the attack. "But you've gotta let me go with you. I am a waterbender, I want to learn how to use my bending and fight like you. I don't belong here. I feel like I am meant for so much more than a simple village life." Gabrielle pleaded. Xena gave her a look that discouraged any further arguments. Gabrielle's ambitious expression shifted to a submissive one. Xena expected to see fear but instead saw, wonder? It slightly threw Xena off but she didn't show it. "Now don't think about following me." Xena warned before heading out the door. First thing was to talk to Draco and see what he was up to.