The sun lit up the sky in a virtual rainbow of colors. Gabrielle sighed as she lay back on her makeshift pillow and watched the changing colors of twilight. At times like this, when she was all alone, she missed Xena the most. Just having someone there to talk and laugh with, would be a gift. As if in answer to her thoughts the sound of a twig being snapped sounded behind her. Palming her sai, in case the company was less then friendly she waited. In a few moments a small man appeared from the underbrush. His frail smile was a welcome sight.
"Hello there, young lady. Do you mind if I warm my hands for a few moments and then I will be on my way."
Gabrielle stood up and offered him her bedroll to sit on.
"Come sit. Do you mind if I ask your name, mine is Gabrielle?"
"The names Drysus. Pleasure to meet you, Gabrielle, and thank you for the hospitality. It's hard to find in this day and age. Most travelers are weary of strangers."
"Well, not me. I enjoy having someone to talk to. Besides you don't look all that dangerous."
Her years of traveling had taught her that looks were sometimes deceiving, but she sensed the man was just as he appeared. So sitting down across from him, she struck up a conversation. In no time the two of them were laughing and exchanging stories. When the old man found out she was the "battling bard" who traveled with Xena, his eyes lit up.
"You must have had some really grand adventures. The legend of Xena and Gabrielle is a tale of epic proportions. Fathers recite the stories from your scrolls to their children at bedtime."
Gabrielle blushed from the veiled admiration.
"You know I once met a man who claimed to be one of your friends. Of course he boasted about many things. Swore to all that would listen that he was the "King of Thieves". I think his name was Ottoman or something like that."
"Yeah, that was it. He died several years ago. I hear his son is carrying on the tradition though. I've seen his wanted poster planted on the village gates, everywhere I stop."
"Autolycus had a son. Well whatta ya know," she thought.
Gabrielle invited the man to pass the evening with her and offered to let him use her bedroll to rest his brittle bones on. Drysus would have none of that. Feeling he had imposed enough, he gathered some soft grass for a bed and promptly fell asleep. The next morning she woke to find breakfast waiting and her guest already gone. She supposed the meal was his way of thanking her. As she ate the tasty fair, she began to wonder what Autolycus's son was like. Did he have the charm of his father and the looks to match? She laughed at her own thoughts as she remembered the first time she had met Auto. It was love at first sight. Or so she thought at the time. She had felt the same thing when she had first seen Ares for the first time. " Must be something about tall dark men, I can't seem to resist them." She knew now those feelings had been girlish crushes. Over the years Auto had become a trusted friend and she felt a real need come over her to find his son. If he were anything like his father, the journey would be worth it.
Several days and many villages later, she found her first real clue to his whereabouts. Like his father, the people looked on him as a hero of sorts. Although he was a thief, his ill-gotten gains always found their way to needy hands. This made it remarkably hard to track him down. It had been dumb luck that led her here. In the last village, a woman who remembered Gabrielle from before took her into her confidence. She confided that new King of Thieves was hiding out in the forest nearby. His last caper had gone awry, so for the time being he was lying low. She had been the one to secret him out of the village in her hay wagon. In return he had given her a small velvet bag full of dinars.
The day was beginning to turn cold, as Gabrielle reached into her pack pulling out her deer skin jacket. Every time she pulled the soft fur across her skin, she remembered the young Amazon who gifted her with it. She promised herself, that once she found Autolycus's son, she would pay the Amazons a visit. She barely had the coat secured when a man jumped out from behind a tree in front of her. Grabbing her sais from inside her boots, she tripped the charging man sending him reeling to the ground at her feet.
"That wasn't what I call fair, lady. You didn't even give me a chance."
Gabrielle stood staring at the grinning man lying on the ground. He was the mirror image of Autolycus.
"Well, it's not exactly fair, jumping out and scaring me like that either. Here let me help."
Offering her hand, she pulled him up.
"It's simply amazing how much you look like him."
"Your father of course. He wasn't much older than you are now, when I first met him."
"You knew my father, when he was my age. How is that possible? You can't be more then"
"Hold that thought! I'm a lot older than I look and let's just leave it at that. My name is Gabrielle. Your father, Autolycus was a good friend of mine and Xena's."
"By the gods, you're that Gabrielle. My father spoke of you and Xena all the time. Of course it was impossible to believe half the stories he told me, but it was all true. Wasn't it?"
"Well, I can't verify that all the stories he told you were true. But, he was definitely my friend." she laughed. "Now that you know my name, it is only fair you tell me yours."
Sweeping a bow, just like his father used to he announced, "My name is Briton *Bright-un*." Rolling his fingers across his mustache he added, "King of Thieves". His mannerisms were so much like his father’s that Gabrielle got a sudden sense of déjà vu.
The sound of men approaching put an end to any further conversation.
"It's the magistrates guards! He seems to think I'm responsible for his missing rubies."
"Well, I am the King of Th"
"I get it, now come one!"
Grabbing his arm she pulled him into the surrounding trees.
"Father was telling the truth about one thing. He said you were always trying to get him alone in the bushes!"
Gabrielle popped him on the back of his head.
"No THAT was a tall tale. He just wished I would." she smiled
"There he is!" one of the men shouted.
"I guess play time is over, junior!" Gabrielle yelled before jumping on one of the men’s back.
"JUNIOR!" Briton snarled as he too joined the fray.
Before he was able to land his first punch, Gabrielle had disabled three of the men. Watching her, he barely had time to duck before losing his head to the guard's sword. Kneeling close to the ground he did a side sweep with his leg and knocked his attacker to the ground. Jumping on the fellow's stomach, he flipped into the air landing behind a guard. Placing his hands together he clubbed him on the head and watched with a smirk as he fell unconscious. Looking around for the next victim, he found none. Gabrielle had sent the others running when she sent the chakram flying past their heads. The blade flew back and settled easily into her palm.
"And you said play time was over! That's the most fun I've had in weeks."
"I'm glad you enjoyed yourself, now let's go before they decide to come back with re-enforcements."
Once they were safely away from the magistrates guard, they breathed a sigh of relief.
The duo looked at each other and began to laugh.
"That was kind of fun. Somehow I knew finding you would lead to adventure, Briton. Like your father it seems to follow you around."
"Speaking of following around, you mind if I travel with you for awhile. I'd like to hear your version of Dad’s stories?"
"It would be my pleasure, Briton. The stories I could tell you. There was this one time.."
As the duo walked off together laughing, a bolt of blue lightning flashed behind them.
"Damn, that woman attracts men like bees to honey. I can tell I'm going to have to keep a much closer eye on her." Ares frowned before flashing out again.