STANDARD DISCLAIMER: the Warrior
and the Bard are copyright Renaissance/MCA/Universal. And,
while they make the money, we get the fun. So, TPTB, nah-na-na !
SUBTEXT and VIOLENCE DISCLAIMER:
Right, well its about two women who are obviously
*together* but they don't do anything other that touch shoulders or hands so chill. But, if you're a minor, if
its illegal where you live or if you're just uncomfortable with the whole idea go find a nice story where Xena
marries Hercules and Gabrielle marries Iolaus.
Ummm, no real violence at all but a violent crime is implied. It happened in the past and is best
forgotten 'cause the concerned parties are pretty much OK with it now.
CONTINUITY DISCLAIMERS: Right, this
happens about fiften years after the two met and therefore
about eight years after my projected end of the show (based on a seven year run). That would make the
Warrior in her mid forties and the Bard in her mid thirties. Other than the assumption that both make it
through the series alive there should be no continuity problems as no reference is made to any other
characters or events other than in Callisto and in The Quest. You needn't even need to read Part
One:Tribute. What more could you ask for?
EXPLANATION AND FURTHER DISCLAIMERS:
OK, I'd just finished writing The Warrior and the
Bard:Tribute and was re-reading some of the Rice books and some Vampire Connection Fan Fiction when
this story just sort of popped into my head. And refused to leave. So I slapped the outline into the
computer and walked away, hopping the little monster would starve. And I managed to stay away about
three hours before going back and writing, basically, what follows. Actually, there was one re-write to
remove Solan who I really got to like through the Melissa Good stories. That was a little painful.
VAMPIRE DISCLAIMERS: This guy is
nothing like the Bacchae from GJWHF. Khayman and any other
vampires he may muse about are copyright Anne O'Brien Rice.
Think that's it. Much shorter than last time. Comment can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Back against the wall, cradling
an earthenware mug of hot cider in his hands, the stranger waited patiently.
His unnaturally white skin throwing his almost black hair and eyes into sharp contrast. He breathed in an
even, shallow rhythm. When he remembered to breath. A fact not lost on the woman who sat to his right.
The Warrior too had her back against
the wall. A untouched mug containing port sat by her left hand, her
right hand resting unseen on her lap. Hair, originally as dark as the man's, was starting to streak with silver.
Her eyes were blue - a colour the man only saw now in cloth and never in this exact shade. He could
remember that the afternoon sun reflecting off frozen water sometimes looked like this.
The second woman sat with her back
to the kitchen. Her hair had not yet started to gray and her eyes
held youthful light. The man struggled to remember ferns, newly free from the soil and bathed in the
morning sunlight. He was happy that he still had that memory. It was this one, the Bard, who broke the
"I don't understand," she said,
smiling gently. Her words and tone and body language assured him
confusion was her fault, not his own bumbling. He smiled at the kindness.
"I offer immortality," he repeated. "But there is a cost."
"Why us?" asked the Warrior. The stranger frowned at the odd question. No inquiry to the cost or method.
"You are heroes of this age. Of this land. You could continue to..."
The Bard reached out and tapped his hands. "We're just inn keepers. All that was long ago."
"The... gift would give back some
of your youth. Not much, it is true. And your memories and
would be yours." For a time, he thought, maybe forever with these two.
The Bard smiled. "No thank
you." She placed her hands around his, holding them lightly against
She seemed totally unconcerned at their icy chill.
"We have our immortality.
Several times over. My stories are told throughout the land.
The people we
helped have built lasting towns, raised families, even helped others. Our children and their furture families
will live on."
The Bard smiled at the the Warrior. Who didn't smile back. Who had her eyes locked on the stranger's.
"Convince her," the Bard said, her
right hand leaving the strangers to rest on the Warrior's left hand.
"Convince her and I'll consider it."
"::Send her away,::" the
stranger said, speaking directly into the Warrior's mind. the Warrior's
didn't change. He was not surprised for her self control was what had drawn him to her. Nor was he
surprised at the strength in which she replied.
"::She's not my pet,::" the Warrior replied.
The Bard stood. "I'll let you two talk in private. Gotta help Lyta in the kitchen."
They watched her leave.
"I did not push her," the stranger assured the Warrior.
The Warrior shrugged. "She
good at knowing when to give people space. And time. When we're
she'll come back."
The stranger watched the Bard as she disappeared into the kitchen area.
"I am surprised that she refused before finding the cost."
The Warrior smiled fondly as she
too watched the Bard. "It doesn't matter what the tunic costs if
your colour. Are you refused often?"
The stranger's attention returned to his cooling cider. He fell into a silence that lasted several minutes.
"Once. Just once. But she took the gift in the end. When..."
"When what?" asked the Warrior.
"When the other half of her soul did not refuse it," the stranger finally said. Another long silence.
"Tell me the cost," the Warrior asked, breaking the silence.
"I will tell you all. Your
body will change. You will be stronger and quicker. You will
be able to read the
thoughts of mortals. You will eventually become nearly invincible. You will only fear the burning of a large
fire or of the sun. But you will fall into an dreamless slumber while the sun is in the sky. And every night,
between the setting of the sun and it's rise you must kill and drink the blood; for that is the only thing that
can sustain you."
The Warrior swirled the port around
the mug. "That all? And I suppose that you'll now say that,
can read people's minds and hearts, I can choose to only kill criminals and the evil. Or animals."
"I could say that," the stranger said after a slight pause.
"But you won't because you know its really a lie," the Warrior said. The stranger nodded.
"She can't kill, not even a rabbit.
If she were to do that she would be destroyed. Even if she walked
earth forever *she* would be dead."
The stranger nodded. This
was something he had considered. "The blood of our own kind can also
us. You could..."
"Kill for both," the Warrior said,
eyebrow arching into her bangs. "Just like the old days. Anything
you'd like to throw on the table. Anymore cards?"
"Warrior," the stranger said, "you are dying."
The Warrior smiled, "I know." And the silence stretched.
"I've known her over fifteen years. And in all that time I've made just three promises to her. Just three.
"The last promise was that I would
love her forever, that we'd be together in life and in death. And
made a similar vow. So if I say yes to this I'll be agreeing for both of us.
"The middle promise was that I wouldn't
die on her. That I wouldn't put her through the pain of being alone
again. And, unless I say yes to your gift, I am going to break that promise before year end."
"And so," the stranger said, "the answer is yes."
The Warrior shook her head. "The answer is no." She paused, looking long into the glass of port.
"When I was fifteen I took up the
sword. I fought, but only those who would harm my family and friends.
By the time I was 25 I was killing anyone who crossed me, who angered me, who simply annoyed me. If I
can fall so far in ten mortal years, what would I be like in ten immortal years. In a hundred immortal years.
"My first promise to her was that
I would never become that monster again. And *that* promise all the
gods in Olympus could not make me break. And I would die, I would suffer Tartarus alone, I would see her
die in my arms before I would become that monster again."
"You refuse my immortality?"
"And accept hers. Our children's immortality, even if they aren't of *our* blood."
The stranger nodded. Pushing his mug away he stood.
"::Why us,::" the Warrior
asked, her unspoken words burning directly into his mind and demanding
"::Her eyes the colour of new
ferns in the sunlight. Her hair the colour of light bronze.
Her soul as gentle
and healing as spring rain. Her courage as fierce as a lioness. And she reminds me of two whom I loved and
lost and seek forever.::"
The Warrior blinked, realizing that
she was alone and that he was gone. She stared into the port seeing
faces of their children. Little Terris who the Bard called their gifts from the gods but who the Warrior
feared were simply the product of her not being there in time. Lyta, the foundling they had discovered in the
burned out village nearly six years ago.
"Hey, how you doing?" asked a soft
voice. A light hand running down her shoulder and arm to lace fingers
together. The Warrior shifted over on the narrow end bench so that the Bard could sit beside her. The
Warrior shrugged and brought her right hand up, covering their linked hands, the long dagger forgotten on
"So did you ask the cost?"
The Warrior shrugged again. "What does it matter. It was the wrong shade."
"The wrong shade?
"It didn't go with your eyes. Or your hair." Or your soul. Or your courage.
"If you say so," the Bard replied.
She leaned in closer, resting her head against the softness of the Warrior's
The Warrior closed her eyes, memories
of fifteen years of love, acceptance, hope. Fifteen years of
redemption. Fifteen years of peace.
"My love," the Warrior said.
"I have to talk about that second promise I made you." And she felt
which only now where soaking through her tunic.
"I know, my warrior. I know."
He took the memory of eyes the color
of new ferns in the sunlight and of lake ice and placed it carefully
away. With the memory of the twins. With his name.
He looked up at the inn's sign.
Although he had not troubled himself to learn the written language of this
place the picture made the name plain. A quill crossing a bare sword.
The stranger turned his back on
the Warrior and the Bard and walked away.