Three Naked Bards … Oh My!
Once, long ago, in a land of warriors and bards, Gods and Goddess, and enchanted scrolls, lived a warrior named Xena. She traveled hill and dale, hither and yon, righting wrongs and grumbling a lot to her faithful bard (who kept time to the beat of Xena’s trusty horse Argo by clapping two wooden cups … er, sorry, wrong story). Anyway, she was off fishing when, unbeknownst to her, a sinister spell was cast upon an innocent scroll. This is the part of the story that was never told …
One foot in front of the other. The wagon wheels creaked as Xena and her bounty of fish made its way a little further down the road. Now that she had caught all this, she was bound and determined to get back. She could find no specific reason for this compulsion to fish; much less the strange visit to her oldest friend. That had been awkward. Now, if she could just keep her mind on the road.
The greenness of the land highlighted the brown path that she trudged along. She figured there was at least another’s day journey before making it back to the small village where Gabrielle would be waiting for her. She hated to spend another night away, but noticed a cave that would be perfect for her to store the wagon in with plenty of room for herself and a small fire. The decision made, she maneuvered the wagon in backwards, was busy with that, when she heard the snapping of twigs not far off. An ignorant traveler, unaware of the announcement they were making with their careless footfall.
Not overly concerned, but careful nonetheless, the warrior circled around the small clearing in front of the cave and came up behind the intruder. She nearly dropped her sword when she saw a naked blonde figure with a terrifically familiar backside.
The blonde turned and wrinkled her nose up at Xena. Gabrielle walked up to her and threw her arms around the warrior’s neck. Then with a wink, lifted up on tiptoes and planted a big, wet kiss on Xena’s lips.
"What are you doing?" She saw the rather dazed look on the bard’s face. "What’s wrong, Gabrielle? Are you okay?" She glanced down at the blonde’s body. "And why are you naked?"
The bard just sort of smiled up in that same dazed fashion before kissing the confused warrior again. Xena grabbed Gabrielle’s arms and pushed them down to her sides. Looking down at the exposed flesh of her friend, she took Gabrielle by the hand and led her back to the cave.
Once she had Gabrielle dressed with the only other piece of clothing she had with her, a sleeping shift, she left the bard in the cave and turned to the task of building a fire. As she was gathering wood she tried to figure out what could have happened. Gabrielle didn’t seem traumatized; rather she seemed like a blank. Like someone had removed the most vital part of Gabrielle from her body.
When she came back with the firewood, the bard was naked again and dancing around the cave. Arms flailed up and down, her torso vibrated and hips undulated … it was quite a sight. She pulled the shift back over Gabrielle’s head, which wasn’t the easiest thing to do because the woman refused to stop moving.
Now exasperated and extremely concerned, Xena sat down with a huff and watched the dancing bard. Something must have happened. A spell, or … Gods. Please don’t let it be henbane again. Xena cradled her head in her hands. A sassy Gabrielle floated by and ruffled the disgruntled warrior’s hair.
"That’s it," grumbled a fed up Xena. "Sit!" She pulled the bard down onto her bedroll and slipped the shift over her head again. "You. Stay here. I’ll be right back. KEEP THE SHIFT ON. DON’T MOVE. STAY PUT." She gestured to the witless blonde as though this would make her demands understood. But the bard simply continued to look at her blankly.
Xena turned one last time to see the bard starting to stand up. "Uh, uh, uh." And Gabrielle sat again at the verbal warning. "Don’t make me tie you up, Gabrielle."
She made her way through the foliage, found a spot to relieve herself (bard problems, or not, some things needed to be attended to) and tried to concentrate away from all that dancing. She was on her way back when she spotted a patch of wild berries and decided to grab a handful. The closer she got, the clearer the humming became. An upbeat melody. She parted the bushes to find Gabrielle, stark naked yet again, picking berries and popping them into her mouth; never interrupting the steady humming that came from deep down in her throat. Upon seeing Xena, she licked her index finger and waved at her, a wink included in the package.
Xena’s mouth hung open. From across the bush a hand darted out, grabbed the warrior by the breastplate, and yanked her across the foliage to meet humming, bardly lips.
Okay, I don’t know what’s wrong here. Or why, in Hades, she keeps kissing me. But if a kiss is what she wants …And Xena gave her one to knock her socks off … had she actually been wearing any socks.
The kiss ended, leaving Xena dizzy. The bard simply raised her eyebrows at the stunned warrior and danced off. She shook her head and followed quickly after Gabrielle, knowing in her current state that all sorts of harm could come her way. She threw the squirming figure over her shoulder and headed back to the cave.
As she approached the opening she noticed movement inside. She held Gabrielle tighter and edged closer only to find Gabrielle still in the cave. Yes, naked again and still dancing, but nevertheless in the cave. She felt the body in her arms, swung the woman off of her shoulder and looked at the blonde bard standing in front of her. Had she been the fainting type…
Had she finally snapped? Had all those years as a warlord, wrestling with her demons, her all-too-oft-mentioned darkness, finally sent her over the edge? Gabrielle, the hummer, threw her arms around Xena and nibbled on her neck. It was damn distracting, especially when she made her way up to a sensitive earlobe.
"All right … Okay, let’s just keep our hands next to ourselves, shall we?" Xena held Gabrielle’s arms pinned to her body, but that only drew her attention to the naked midriff and then further down…
"You. Move over there with the other you." Xena gently pushed her in the direction of the fire where the other bard was dancing. Soon they were dancing together.
Two Gabrielle’s. She couldn’t even begin to think up an explanation for this. The only thing that appeared certain is that neither seemed to be the real Gabrielle. Somewhere, she just knew, the real one, her Gabrielle, was okay. She could feel it. When had this started happening? This invisible connection to the bard? She supposed it was over time that they grew so … intertwined. None of this felt dangerous to Xena, but rather silly and a touch annoying. Though it was oddly comforting to have these … copies, of the bard here; she had really missed Gabrielle these past few days. She watched the dancing bards. There was something else sort of nice about this too, she thought as she cleaned the fish and prepared them for the fire. She could look at these Gabrielle’s anyway she liked, for as long as she wanted, whenever she wanted. They didn’t seem to mind or have a clue. And whoever, whatever, they were, they sure seemed interested in her. And, she had to admit, she really hadn’t minded all that kissing.
She prepared a couple of makeshift plates for the bards. They ate it, so she assumed they needed food. One sat near Xena’s leg with her head resting on the warrior’s thigh. Xena casually ran her hands through the blonde hair and realized how much she was enjoying the physical contact. She had often wanted to reach out and touch Gabrielle, but always held back, or else cut the contact short. Why had she done that? She recalled always pushing that question back to someplace deep within her. But now, with these … pretend bards (maybe she’d really gone crazy? Could crazy be an isolated cave with a wagon full of fish and a couple of naked bards?) She allowed herself to excavate the questions and attempted to answer them.
The other bard came around behind her and sat just off to the side. She nibbled at her fish and occasionally Xena’s neck. The warrior flinched at first, then decided to just get through the meal as quickly as possible, neck nibbling and all. Soon her head was back, eyes half closed, as the humming Gabrielle nuzzled her neck and the other ran warm fingers down her thigh. Her plate clattering to the ground brought her to her feet.
"Okay. This isn’t working." She was concocting a way to tie up the bards for the night, so all of them could safely share the space, when a shadowy outline appeared at the mouth of the cave. In the flicker of two bard’s eyelashes, Xena had sword firmly in hand.
The figure danced its way into the cave.
"Oh, dear Gods." Xena sat on the nearest rock, dejected, as yet a third Gabrielle made her way, with a bump and a grind, into the cave to join her sisters. Sure enough, a wink for Xena.
"This is a nightmare," the warrior muttered. What was she going to do with three naked, dancing, sexually promiscuous Gabrielles? And did she have that much rope?
Whatever forces had concocted this odd situation, she could do nothing about it tonight. And though none of them were actually the real Gabrielle, something about her likeness running so vulnerably around the countryside was much too disconcerting. She would have to keep them there for the night and bring them along in the morning. She wondered at how they naturally sought her out, and how successful they had been.
Then there was the problem of the fish beginning to smell. She considered moving the wagon back outside of the cave, but it would make an excellent barrier if she were to maneuver it effectively. Then she could sleep without having to worry that the bards would dance off in the middle of the night. Better to put up with the smell. The warrior sighed. It was going to be a long night.
* * * * *
Xena laid the only blanket she had with her along side the bedroll. There would be no covers but at least none of them would lie on the dirt.
If only lying down on the dirt was the problem. The real dilemma was how to get the bards, with their endless amounts of energy, down for the night.
Xena sat near the fire on a rock next to the bedroll and watched as the bards revolved around her in an orbit. Much like counting sheep, the passing bards acted as a tranquilizer, and the warrior found herself getting very drowsy. She lay down on the bedding with her arms behind her head thinking she would rest while she waited for the bards to tire. Of course, she realized, not knowing what they actually were, this might never happen. But, she reasoned, if they got hungry then there was a good chance they would eventually get sleepy.
The warrior thing to do was not to fall asleep until everyone else was asleep. For safety reasons. This was a fact of Xena’s existence and not something easily laid aside. But those bards just kept going around and around and around … she was so sleepy, felt her eyes closing. Opening. Closing. A blonde head curled into her shoulder and, like that, the sheer comfort of it put her to sleep.
She awoke with a start. The fire was burning low. How long had she slept? The blonde head was still on her shoulder. There was a slight movement and she noticed another blonde head on her abdomen. Further down was more body heat as another blonde head rested on her leg, an arm curled around the limb, this last sleeping bard lying between her thighs.
Xena’s whole body was kept warm by the body heat of the bards, so that, though the fire burned low, she felt no chill from the air. She could barely breath the sensation was so strong. She had never realized Gabrielle’s physical presence could affect her so profoundly. Yes, she had felt the fluttering before when Gabrielle was near, when they touched. She wasn’t blind to the attraction, having had her share of lovers. And she most certainly wasn’t blind to Gabrielle’s beauty. But there was something else that kept Xena at a distance.
The one thing she never had before Gabrielle. The one thing she would not forfeit. One of the bards ran her fingers along the bare skin of Xena’s thigh.
Honor was hanging on by the skin of its teeth.
She had to move. As she shifted, the hand that softly caressed her leg manifested lips that trailed along after it, planting little kisses along the inside of her thigh. That movement seemed to trigger the bard on her stomach, who tightened her grip around the warrior’s torso, pulling her into an embrace. Which seemed, in turn, to trigger the blonde head lying on her shoulder and soon those lips were kissing her throat. Her cheek. Her mouth. Xena moaned into the kiss as she felt Gabrielle’s lips part to meet her tongue. Grabbing tufts of blonde hair, Xena arched into the kiss. When she finally pulled away to look at this new lover, she was met with a blank stare.
Her heart dropped like a rock thrown to the ground.
This was not Gabrielle. This fact could not be any clearer. Gabrielle was all eyes. All that she was, every part of her, from head to toe, could be found in those green eyes. These eyes looking back at Xena, were not those of the woman she wished was with her right now. The woman she did not want to lose. The woman, whose body, she could not pull her hands away from.
It was not Gabrielle. But maybe this was for the best. She could touch her skin, feel her lips, without doing the dishonorable thing. And then maybe her need for the bard would be quenched and things could go on as they had been before. She knew this was a lie. That with the first touch of her lips onto Gabrielle’s, imposter or not, nothing would ever be the same. But her skin burned with the contact and what she had before her was lust. A hunger that grew from her love, but which was not equal to it.
So her hands traveled up Gabrielle’s shoulder and entangled in blonde hair as she took another kiss from the familiar looking lips. At the same time, three sets of hands descended upon her, striping her of her leathers and undergarments. It was all a haze, how it was achieved. The sensation of so much happening at once was overwhelming, even for someone as experienced in sexual nuances as Xena. Hands seemed to be everywhere, parting her thighs, smoothing her belly, palming her breasts. Then lips and tongues … in her mouth, softly lapping at a nipple, and nuzzling her thighs. It was slow, methodical, like a dream where you try to run fast but you can barely manage a step forward. It was excruciating in its pace. It was sublime. If there was ever a thought of stopping this trickling stream, the hypnotic nature of the seduction had put a stop to that. She was brought along on a journey that pulled her in its wake. None of the women seemed to do anything quickly, so unlike their earlier dancing that had been wild and spontaneous. This lovemaking was slow and detailed, as though they would cover every stretch of her body in warm, wet need.
Blank stares aside, the needs of these women, who were taking her body inch by inch, was apparent. Their bodies reacting to the arousal, as well. Soon the cave whispered with dense breathing and quiet sighs.
But Xena’s needs were changing gears and she raised her hips and pushed her tongue deeper into the mouth that was shaped exactly like Gabrielle’s. A blonde head suckled her breasts, bringing her nipples to an aching peak before nibbling on them in the same, slow fashion. She felt herself wiggling underneath the woman who lay on top of her, without the control she had hoped to retain. The fire in her belly was rising as she went well past all reasonable thought. Grabbing the Gabrielle shewas kissing, she pulled the blonde on top of her, displacing the other two. She needed to know what Gabrielle’s body felt like running the length of her own. Her head felt drunk with it. It wasn’t Gabrielle, but it was. And she could feel her hands running down the smooth back, down to the full, soft ass, and she knew what Gabrielle felt like under her hands.
She turned the fake Gabrielle over and attacked her neck, her shoulders, and then her breasts with a frenzy she could not control. Felt nipples stiffen--Gabrielle’s nipples--as she sucked them hard. Heard a gasp from the woman underneath her, which pushed her even harder. Then hands, soft on her hips, pushed them upward as silky hair fell upon her backside. Delicate fingers trailed up her thigh so that she threw her head back in pleasure, the breasts she had been nursing, forgotten. The bard beneath her took advantage and wiggled down further until she had Xena’s breasts between her lips.
Now she was on all fours as a hand played with her behind, tickling her cleft and toying with the opening there. The warrior moaned as the remaining bard cradled Xena’s face in her hands, kissing her deeply.
She felt her need build, and didn’t have to wait, as a hand palmed and caressed her, running fingers through the length of her, before slowly entering. The sensation of being filled by Gabrielle was exquisite. The thought of whose hands were inside her, caused her hips to jerk and beg for more. Another finger … another, stretching her and making her even more aware of the bard’s sensuous pumping. The need was so great and the tempo so languorous, that Xena thought she would go mad if it didn’t speed up; feared she would go mad if it ended. She was caught between need and desire.
The decision was made for her when the bard nuzzling and sucking her breasts began to play with her clit. Lightly at first, then with a surer hand, jostling it about until it grew so large with need that she could feel it straining outward. She didn’t know how much longer she could hold out. The sensation of Gabrielle seemed to be over every inch of her body. From mouth to breasts, to being blissfully filled by her, to having her release controlled by Gabrielle. Her body tingled with the sensation of being completely over taken by the beautiful woman she loved. And it was more than bliss, more than sex, rather like a baptism into heaven … For her, Gabrielle was heaven.
She held out as long as she could, but she was so wet that when the next finger was added, she could hold back no longer. She pushed into those fingers and felt the fingers on her clit moving faster. She looked up at the blonde kissing her. Needing to look into those green eyes. The blonde let Xena pull away from the lips that had never stopped pleasuring her. Xena searched those green eyes, looking for signs of her bard, the Gabrielle she had come to love. Blankness stared back. As her hips thrust, and the orgasm hit like a thunderbolt, her eyes filled with tears. She knew in that instant that she loved Gabrielle. And this was not Gabrielle.
She rode out the waves and then collapsed onto the blanket, rolling onto her back. Her hair was damp with sweat as the bards took their rest on her body, arranging themselves in the order in which she found them upon waking up.
Xena stared at the dark ceiling above her. She wanted Gabrielle, the real Gabrielle, in her arms. The pain of her absence, in that particular moment, was piercing. Like nothing she had ever felt before. With three bodies pressed against her, she was the loneliest she had ever been.
A tear ran down her cheek and the bard at her shoulder looked up at her. She leaned over to kiss the warrior’s lips, ready to begin lovemaking once more. Xena shook her head and cradled the face in her hands. She wasn’t Gabrielle, but she looked so much like her. She touched those pretend lips with her fingers and couldn’t resist kissing them again, despite the emptiness.
"Hmm?" The warrior snuggled into the blonde hair near her nose. "What?"
"What are you doing?"
"What do you think I’m doing?" Xena purred seductively and caressed the bare flesh of the bard’s shoulder.
"What!" Xena’s eyes snapped open and she knew, just knew in the pit of her stomach, who she would find gazing down at her.
A bard. A bard dressed in clothing. With a staff. And with a very large expression on her face.
"Gabrielle!" Xena expelled and sat up, causing bards to roll off her in all directions.
"Apparently one of many." The real Gabrielle raised a quizzical eyebrow at the naked warrior.
"Yeah … Well, I…" Xena couldn’t believe it, but she actually heard herself laugh nervously. "I found them, one by one, yesterday. Or rather, they found me."
"So it would seem." Gabrielle’s face gave nothing away as she crossed her arms and studied her naked likeness in triplicate. She ended her surveillance by giving Xena’s naked form a once over.
Gabrielle’s nose wrinkled up. "My Gods, that smell."
"Don’t look at me! It’s the fish." Xena reached for her clothing, frantically searching for her dignity along with them. She settled for a change of subject. "What do you know about them?"
"That they have a keen sense of direction?"
Xena gave Gabrielle a look. "I meant, how did this happen?"
"Oh that." Gabrielle smirked. She was enjoying herself. "Joxer somehow caused it."
"Joxer?" Xena curled her lip. With her leathers partially on, she was beginning to feel more confident.
"It’s a long story."
"Make it short."
"Aphrodite enchanted a scroll. Everything written on it eventually comes true. Well sort of … Anyway, we’ve been trying to get you to come back, but everything I write causes more problems."
"Hard to imagine."
Gabrielle was able to put aside what she had just stumbled upon once she was caught up again in her dilemma.
"It still doesn’t explain why I found three naked Gabrielle’s wandering the countryside."
"Well that’s … I’m not really sure. I think he was looking at me when he wrote something on the scroll."
"Uh-huh, that explains it," Xena said to the still perplexed Gabrielle.
"Xena!" Ares voice boomed from outside the cave.
"Ares," the warrior sneered. "What’s he doing here?"
"I’ll tell you all the details on the way. Basically, there’s this warlord—"
"Wait. What about them?" Xena gestured to the three bards, who had curled up and fallen asleep again.
"I guess we’ll just leave them here. Once we figure out how to reverse the enchantment, they should just disappear."
"No. I don’t like that idea. They’ll be here, unprotected, and who knows how long it will take to reverse all this."
Gabrielle looked at the warrior with a smug smile.
"What?" Xena spat defensively.
"You’re worried about them."
"That’s sweet, Xena."
"Let’s just go." Xena glared a warning that neither of them took seriously. "They won’t stay clothed, so they’ll have to travel like they are. You okay with that?" she inquired in a low, gentle tone. She didn’t want Gabrielle to be uncomfortable.
"You mean, am I okay with everyone in Greece knowing what I look like in the buff?" She shrugged. "I can’t say I’m crazy about the idea, but what are our options? They probably wouldn’t be safe here." Gabrielle walked over to the sleeping bards and rapped her staff on the ground, creating a loud echo effect in the cave. "Come on, girls! Let’s go!"
One by one, they seemed to obey Gabrielle’s command. Rubbing sleepy eyes and combing fingers through mussed up blonde hair, they each made their way towards the cave’s opening, kissing Xena full on the lips as they passed her by. The warrior tried awfully hard to pretend it wasn’t a strange, kinky, thing to be kissed by three naked representations of her best friend while the real woman looked on.
Gabrielle sauntered up to her, hands on hips, head cocked to the side, her face registering that familiar ‘explain yourself’ expression that Xena had come to know all too well.
The warrior’s eyebrows shot upward, but this time in feigned innocence as she rocked back and forth on her heels. "Well … better get going."
In the end, Xena fought the warlord (who knew the fish would come in so handy?). Aphrodite and Ares, who had lost their godhood due to a certain bard’s propensity for waxing poetic, found themselves on Mt. Olympus once again, as the enchantment on the scroll was reversed. And Xena watched, with a certain poignancy, as the three, naked bards faded into nothingness. Though Xena’s melancholy faded as the real Gabrielle slipped her gentle hand into the warrior’s.
By that evening, only the warrior and one lone bard sat by the fire. What happened later that night after a lengthy, umm, discussion, is a story for another time. It would be fair to say that Xena would have her share of ‘first times’ with her beloved Gabrielle.
And all was well with the known world. Well … for the most part.