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Mistaken Identity
By Della Street

The traveler poked his head cautiously through the curtain, and peered into the less-than-reputable establishment. He winced at the levels of odor and noise, but this seemed to be all there was in this town. Reluctantly, he took his wife's hand and led her into the lion's den.

The woman sat nervously at a small table, glad to have her husband close by. Suddenly, her eyes widened. "Tarus," she whispered, "isn't that . . .?"

Tarus followed her line of sight. "Why, yes it is--it's our little Gabrielle." His eyes widened slightly at the, um, rather revealing outfit the girl was wearing. He studied her a little more closely. Not really a girl any more, either . . . .

"Where's the warrior woman?" Dynae asked. Her husband shrugged. "Do you think Gabrielle's all right?"

They watched as a thick, burly man lowered himself onto the stool beside the young woman.

"Hecuba would like us to see how she is," Dynae decided. The couple rose from the table and eased through the crowd toward their fellow Potedaian. As they drew near, they could pick up the thread of conversation.

"My wife tries . . . she's just not very good at it . . . ."

Gabrielle nodded sympathetically.

The man glanced around him, then leaned in closer. "How much?"

"Five dinars."

He nodded. "I'll give it to you outside. I don't want word to get back."

"Is there somewhere we can go?" she asked.

He jerked his head toward the door. "I'll show you," he said.

Gabrielle rose, and followed him outside.

The Potedaians stood motionless. "By the gods, Tarus, she's a . . . ." Dynae shook her head silently; she couldn't say it.

At that moment, a tall, striking woman in armor stepped into the tavern. She quickly scanned the room, then made her way toward the bar. Looking around again, her eyes landed on the unhappy couple.

"Excuse me. I'm looking for a young blonde woman, about so high." She touched the side of her hand against her chest.

"She left," Dynae said with some disgust.

"Hm." The stranger frowned. "Was she with anyone?"


"Trying to earn some extra money before we hit the road," Xena guessed aloud. Probably holed up with one of those tough-guy soldiers embarrassed to admit that he likes to hear a good romance. "How many?" she asked.

"Excuse me?"

"How many was she with?"

Dynae's jaw dropped. "One," she said.

Xena nodded. "Good. Shouldn't take her as long." She turned back to the helpful woman. "Could you tell if it was going to be a long one?"

By the gods! "I have no idea," Dynae replied stiffly.

Xena pursed her lips. "Well, it'd better be a quickie. She's supposed to entertain the soldiers at the garrison tonight." She slid onto a barstool to wait.

Dynae stared at her.

Gabrielle unrolled the scroll. "It's from my mother." She peered down at the handwriting. "She wants me to come home at once."

She looked at Xena, and shrugged….

The End

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